I have blogged for thirty days.  They were not consecutive all the time since life has a way of getting in the way and I discovered Downton Abbey and recipes I needed to try.  But the last thirty days have been good ones.  I discovered I’m not the writer I thought I was, and mostly, I’ve discovered that the only way to have more write about is to lead a more interesting life. The only times I rushed home to open up a new blog is when I did something interesting with my day, which sadly was not every day or even more than a few days a week.

I came across an interesting movement called Hopeprint after following a Twitter picture of a friend and read all about an organization in Syracuse dedicated to helping refugees transition.  I wondered what it would be like to give time and energy to something like this.  I thought “what if I tutored here and worked at Starbucks” rather than seek with all of my might a teaching job that never seems to come my way no matter how hard I try.

I have in the last few months developed an obsession with making things to eat.  I went to a Super Bowl party this past Sunday simply for the excuse to make snack food for friends.  I look forward to every small group with great anticipation wanting to make a dish to pass.  When my boyfriend (now fiance) visits, I delight in putting together meals for the weekend.  I wonder if perhaps cooking will not be so exciting when I have to do it every day for a family, and truthfully I’m not sure, but I think I will like it still.  Then again, I thought I would like doing this blog.

In the end, I believe that self-discovery is important, and everyone has a different way of going about it.  One thing is clear though, a boring life makes for boring writing.  That being said, I’ll stop torturing you all.


Last night,  for kicks, my fiancé read me a list of the top 100 baby names for each respective gender and asked me to offer gut reactions to each one of them.  He must have picked up somewhere along the way that I have strong feelings about the names of children, both the ones I hope to one day produce and the names of other children.  It took a while to get through the list and he offered his opinion too, which illuminated areas in which we are indeed quite different.

Later in the day he text me to alert me that Robert Downy Jr. had just named his newest addition “Exton Elias”.  He then sent me an article which astounded me, as it reported strange baby monikers that celebrities choose as the calling card of their children.  I do not know what to say when I read that actress Shannyn Sossamon and kickboxing instructor Dallas Clayton have a child named “Audio Science”, and I am even more incredulous when I consider that he may end up in the same Mommy and Me group as “Jason Lee’s son “Pilot Inspektor”.  Imagine my pity for Ving Rhames son (or daughter, I’m not sure which), whose spelling of “Reignbeau” can hardly be found a pencil at the Dollar Store.

Fame makes some people do some crazy things, but must the craziness be visited upon celebrity children?  If stars wish to attract attention to their children, they must consider that the children have enough attention actually BEING celebrity children, which is hardly an easy thing to handle.  Perhaps it is not about the name, perhaps it is about originality.  Now this I can relate to, having a few odd names favored myself for the possible future.  But honestly, John Mellencamp, “Speck Wildhorse”?  This is the handle you’ve chosen for your child to take through life with them.  At this point, you might as well just let the kid name his or herself.

In the end, what is really in a celebrity baby name is more than likely the celebrity parent more than anything else.  That being said, I have no idea what other parents are thinking, having substitute taught at my share of elementary schools in this day and age.  When I helped little Santa Barbara hold a drawing pencil correctly in an art classroom, I hope I was able to control my eye roll.

This past weekend I awoke on Saturday morning with a combination of congestion and exhaustion which greatly affected the things I had planned on doing.

Trying to be a woman of my word, I got up and made the Spanish rice and lentil barley stew I had been planning on making for lunches and dinners this week.  Both went off without a hitch, after which I baked some breaded chicken cutlets. Having taken advantage of my recent kettle bell purchase, I realized that I needed to modify my dietary choices if I hoped to see long-term results from the weighted ball.  While I’m on the subject, that work out is really hard.  I mean really hard.  As in, when I drop things I’d rather leave them than bend over to get them and feel the loud protests of my tired thigh muscles.  But it is a good feeling, one I’ve not had since Thursday due to my sudden weekend illness.

Accepting that I was going to get very little done between my feeling of congestion and my sore muscles, I resigned to the couch and decided to audition three new television shows for my enjoyment, hoping I’d find something worth pursuing in the wake of such shows like Lost being over (I still don’t want to talk about it).

Mad Men proved a disappointment.  The 1950s backdrop was interesting, but I found myself unable to root for Don Draper when I realized at the end of the episode that he was unfaithful to his wife.  Burn Notice was terribly interesting, but I decided to save it and watch later with my fiancé and pursue a show I could enjoy by myself as the countdown to the end of my single girl days has begun.

Downton Abbey was next on the list.  I was immediately encouraged when I saw that it was a BBC innovation.  I love the BBC and all things British, having many times wished myself to be British or at least live in England.  This is probably due to a deep regret of not studying abroad in Oxford when I was in college (I still don’t want to talk about that either).  Downton Abbey is near perfect.  The acting is sublime, the characters are complex and real, and the entire presentation is a profound reminder that there is very little new under the sun.  Jealousy, selfishness, insecurity, and the beauty of real, honorable love is as real one century ago in Downton Abbey as they are today.  If you are in for a show that sheds light upon the common human problems which transcend time and geography, I solidly recommend the classy, perfectly written Downton Abbey.  I watched the entire 7-episode in two sittings.  If you’re in the mood to escape to another world, I do not recommend Downton Abbey.  The world is the same, the struggles are the same, the dilemmas of how to maintain the best advantages of tradition without being trapped by the disadvantages, those are the same too (women who are beginning to plan a wedding think a lot about tradition).

In the end, we read and watch television to know that we are not quite alone.  We are comforted to recognize the nuances of our human existence in the faces of those on the screen or within the pages. Literature is participatory, this is a given.  I would check out Downtown Abbey.  It made a sniffly, congested weekend far more delightful than I anticipated.  I now also use words like “delighted” more because of Downton Abbey.

As a child, I knew everything.  Good behavior earned cookies while bad behavior earned spankings.  I also knew what the word “behavior” meant, at least in relation to the idea of cookies and spankings.  I understood circumstance to the sum of my choices, thus I bore full responsibility for my own destiny.

Growing up, I realized this was not the case, that there was no neat cause-and-effect relationship that guided the happenings of life.  Rather, randomness played a much larger role than I anticipated, and I think that part of growing up is learning to find the balance between these random happenings while still resisting the urge to devalue my own choices and the consequences therein.

In other words, don’t give up, but be wise enough to discern when it’s not your fault.

This is not easy.  I think that my default is to assume that all things happen because I make them happen, that the sovereignty of God is more a global and general idea than something which touches the workings of my daily life.  It is usually not until my carefully made plans have been toppled over that I realize in awe and respect that I live in God’s world, not the other way around.  Yet my disappointment in these moments pales in comparison to the sheepish embarrassment I feel when something I’ve not touched at all with my controlling hands works out better than I’ve planned.  It is then that I come face to face with my delusion that I know best, and see my own plans as small, my momentary protests as grains of sand on the beach of God’s sovereignty.

I (in the global sense) was created to exist.  I was fashioned from dust to live in unbroken communion with God.  It was I (still global) who made everything far more complicated, putting in a bid for God’s sovereign crown, thus upsetting the apple cart of the created order.  Centuries and generations later I (globally and specifically) am still recovering, still insisting that I sit on a throne far too large for me, rejecting my original design as simple and unimportant.

The real question is, if I was offered sovereignty over my own life, how long could I stand it before I realized that it was far too much for me to handle and place it back in God’s hands?  I suppose that length of time is different for everyone, and perhaps it is that length of time that in turn measures our independence and pride.  The irony of it all is that I sometimes want to be in control SO THAT I might be able to finally rest and cease to worry, and yet I ignore God’s invitation to that now.

In the end, all questions of submission and sovereignty come down to this: is your God for you or against you?  Or more so, where do you think your God stands? In this particular instance, perception creates reality.  We may not craft our destinies by the sum of our actions, but how we experience that destiny, the world outside of our control, is up to us.  God gives us that choice, as He won’t inflict his peace on those who demand to create their own, no matter how unreliable it may be.

Today marks my twenty-sixth blog in my 30-Day challenge. I would say that I have learned a great deal about writing and reflection in the process of writing and reflecting.  At the risk of sounding like I’m doing a filler blog, I would like to share some of these insights.

The first thing I noticed while reflecting and writing over the last few weeks is how when a hobby becomes an obligation, it does tend to lose just a little bit of its pleasure.  Writing, when inspired, is wonderful, and writing, when forced, is painful.  Bad movies are the same way, especially since bad movies are the product of bad writing.  Bad acting is also painful, which contributes to the point I’m trying to make,  Effortless things are effortlessly enjoyable.  When you have to work, it ceases to be fun.  This is why I never pursued music as an educational pursuit.  Even at the tender age of 18 I knew that there was a difference between a career and a hobby and which one would be the best bet for me. (Never mind the fact that I’m not teaching right now).  If you have any doubt about how difficult and sometimes painful writing is, consider the fact that I’m reflecting on the end of the blog four days before the end.  I couldn’t even wait until day 30.

The second thing I’ve learned is that those who write have to see the world a different way.  In the course of writing this blog, i tried to come up with inspiring things every day and found it pretty gosh darn difficult.  I even tried to reading other blogs and listening to comedians.  I tried to get inside their heads and see the world the way they did, and it was an interesting journey.  Good humor bloggers have a niche, they have a perspective that is not only unique to them, but it uniquely expresses ideas about things that are common.  Let’s be honest.  There isn’t too much new stuff out there.  The only thing we have that is truly our own is our perspective.

The third thing I’ve learned is that good writing takes time.  Good writing isn’t something that is “fit in” at the end of the day, but rather guides the evening and sometimes, most of the day.  When I have a good idea, I have to create time to shape and craft it into what I want it to be, I need no less than enough time.  Good writing demands that space be made for it, bad writing demands for me to “get it over with”, which is a completely different mentality.

End of story: Will I continue blogging past the 30 days?  Yes.  Will it be every day?  I like you all too much to do that 🙂

I cannot write a lengthy post tonight because I have been slightly distracted today.  One year ago tonight I went out on a first date with a charming, funny and interesting guy whom I then proceeded to date for the last year.  Today when I came home from church, I was greeted with a fleet of lit candles, a favorite Trevor Hall song shared by my boyfriend and I, and poetry excerpts (all properly cited) taped to my walls.  Not only that, but Ben had gone through old Facebook messages from the last year and transcribed his own on to paper and posted those as well with the dates.  He was waiting in my kitchen with the ring pictured in the upper left-hand corner of this post.  I cried the whole time but managed a “yes” somewhere in there, at least I think so, because I was wearing the ring moments later.      That being said, it’s not a great night for a post since I’ll end up with something utterly sentimental and will also probably cry again.  Thankful beyond words for the goodness of a gracious God and the love of a man I respect and admire with all of my heart.  I have much more than I could ever deserve.

I shall return to my regularly scheduled blogs tomorrow.  Rest assured 🙂

Have you ever heard someone talk about time-saving strategies?  Let’s take a moment and think about  that sentence alone.  This is a sentence that uses time to save time.  It’s paradoxical at least.  That was another sentence that used time to save time.  You’re spending time right now reading not even about how to save time but the idea that people discuss it.  You have time for that, and apparently so do I.

Philosophical nuances aside, we spend a lot of time discussing how to save time.  Of all the myths about time-saving, the one that towers over all of them is the nutty notion that the Internet saves us time.  I’ll say it again in case you were checking Twitter while reading that: the Internet DOES NOT save us time.

Here is an example: I have decided to exercise.  I have actually decided to exercise with the time I spent blogging every night during this 30-day challenge.  That being said, I will be taking a reprieve from blogging in eight days and beginning a new 30-day challenge that exercises my physical muscles and gives my now tired creative ones a much-needed rest.  But of course I needed a plan to make this happen, and today I began researching a method of physical exertion which would fit into my narrow qualifications of acceptable exercise.  I have ruled out the gym because I hate it there.  I hate the people, I hate the music and I most of all hate locker rooms where there is the possibility of nudity that is not my own.  I am expressly against this and also really don’t want to spend money on a membership.  I needed a method of exercise which would not take too long every day and could possibly even be done in the privacy of my own home.  Research yielded a picture of a kettle bell, which I then read about for about two hours with my time-saving internet-accessible device.  During this time of reading and weighing options and considering the reviews of every Amazon customer possible and calculating the cost of shipping a giant weighted bell to myself that I might toss it around in exchange for better thighs, I could have called a friend of mine who is a personal trainer and asked her.  But no, I did no such crazy thing.  Instead I read and compared reviews myself  and looked at packages costing hundred of dollars only to finally close the laptop and head over to WalMart where I purchased a $16 kettle bell with an instructional DVD included.  I shall begin my regime in eight days.

I could have gone to WalMart and asked someone, or I could have called my friend.  But instead I buy into the crazy lie that I can, with the help of the Internet, become an expert in all things and in the end, save myself some time by “doing it myself.”  I blogged a few weeks ago about the myth of “DIY” and how in the end, it costs you in time what you saved in money.  The internet is no different.

Being a more cerebral and mental person than I am an action person, I understand how living in the information world can be interpreted as better than living in the real world.  That was really convoluted way of saying that sometimes we need to get off our butts and stop trying to save time and actually push forward on things.  I am the queen of few things, but I sit on the throne of not enjoying the moment I’m in because I’m so obsessed with what is going to happen in the next minute.  I think that when you try to think of ways to save time, you end up wasting more of it than you planned and certainly do not enjoy the time you are spending right at that moment.

I went to WalMart after work and returned with my kettle bell and DVD to the church for a meeting.  The meeting was not set to begin until 7:00 and I saw this as an opportunity to enjoy my dinner and get acquainted with my new exercise form.  I popped in DVD and watched the cheery woman instructing her new client (me) as I ate macaroni and cheese.  This was when one of my coworkers walked in and stared at me blankly.  “You know you have to actually DO the work out for it to work, right?  Not just watch it and eat?”

He obviously misunderstood the situation and did not read the terrifying stories I did of those who injured themselves by misusing kettle bells.  But for the sake of a neat and tidy ending to this blog, he was right.  You have to sometimes take a page from Nike’s book and just do it.

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