Monday, January 25, 2010

Flailing soon-to-be College Graduate Seeks Opinions!

I posted this into a forum on ... it's also pretty much word-for-word (but made neater) a conversation my boyfriend and I were having. I would love for your opinions!

I'm graduating in May with a degree in psychology. I can't decide what to do for my future... I'm torn between areas of psychology that have to do with research, and those that have to do with practical application.

The research path is lined with money and prestige... I would be helping people indirectly, by discovering new methods of treatment, or figuring out why certain populations hurt as much as they do, etc. It would be up to others to use my research findings in a practical way. I'd be making a big impact in the theoretical world of psychology, but a small impact in a larger number of people's lives.

The practical application path often requires less schooling, but your salary is smaller, and it's a lot more stressful. I would be working one-on-one with people in poverty, people with disabilities, and people with mental illness. I'd be making a big impact in a small amount of people's lives.

My college entrance essay was titled "I want to go to college because I want to change the world." I originally thought I wanted to do school counseling, then discovered I hate children (haha... glad I figured THAT out). My mission is still the same though... I want to have a career that is about making the world better.

So I ask you... which is better? (better as in: more beneficial to humanity) Helping people indirectly, through research and scientific discovery? or helping people directly, one-on-one, in the stressful grit of everyday life?

Hard question... what do you think?


This was spawned because of the one graduate-level class I'm taking this semester, which is a class about neuropsychology (aka "my brain class"). I'm seriously considering being a neuropsychologist. I LOVE that class, and I've only been in one class (haha). I love the brain, and the weird things it does, and it's just so fascinating! I was talking about it all week. I also enjoy research, and thought that being a neuropsychological researcher would be so cool! :D But at the same time, I'm taking a class in Case Management, and I'm toying with the idea of being a social worker. I'm excellent at managing things. I've always said that if there was a job where I could just have ideas and tell people what to do, then everything would be perfect. I'm a ridiculously good problem solver, and there's nothing I can't do, given enough time to think it through (ew... that RHYMED). I think I would be great at both, and would enjoy both... and both are beneficial and useful fields. But... which one? One takes getting a doctorate and doing medical garbage that will take like 7 years, but will result in a salary of up to $290,000 a year. Case management I can do with a bachelor's degree and will probably make looooooooots less, hahahahaha.

I suppose I could do both... do case management for 7-ish years while paying for my doctorate. But I dunno. I really don't like hopping from career to career. I'm the kind of person who finds one thing and sticks with it. (Thus, I "stuck with" a college that after 1/2 of a semester I knew wasn't for me and is probably killing my spiritual life... ugh. I should've left a long time ago. -.-' And now it's too late. Angst angst angst. Moving on!) And somewhere in the next 60 years of my life, I hope to incorporate becoming a writer and being the assistant director and script writer to some of Chris' films. And having 8 children and homeschooling them. And teaching English in Korea and Japan. And traveling all over the world. And inventing a time machine so I can actually do all of these things.

Sigh. :P


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

OPO: Day Six

Operation Project Openness: Day Six

A lot has happened. :D

First... something very discernible to me... I'm continually being nicer to people. I've started to put random other people's needs before my own, and I actually went to a party of someone I can't hardly stand. I talk to people I normally don't talk to... I'm generally a much nicer person all-around. It's kind of interesting... I continue to marvel at the fact that while my relationship with God doesn't feel like it's making leaps and bounds, my attitude towards other people... is.

Speaking of relationship with God... I hardly remember to pray, or do any of the spiritual stuff that I was supposed to in this month. However, every time I do, I instantly get this peace, as if I'd been doing it regularly all along... it's no longer awkward or weird, just a warm welcoming feeling every time I actually do talk to God.

Thursday night, I read this book that I loved a few months ago (still love it, just haven't read it in a while) called Your God is Too Small by J. B. Phillips... great book. It led me to a verse in John (John 7:17) : "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." Jesus was talking about this in context with the Pharisees who were of course trying to make him out to be the bad guy, and he was giving cryptic messages that just pissed them off with confusion, but which Bible scholars know the answers to. It makes the Pharisees look like morons... but come on, you wouldn't've known what half of that stuff meant either if it weren't for lots of footnotes. Anyway. In the book he was making the point that you can't understand God, the Bible, or his teachings, unless you are living the life God laid out to live. Basically, God teaches by EXPERIENCE. You don't learn to swim by reading about it, you learn about it by jumping in the water and flailing. But to me... I wonder... can you take that further? That ANYONE who is doing the will of God, will understand his message? Meaning... if you are living selflessly and are helping others and serving God, even if you aren't "saved" or a Christian... can't you know God, and be having a relationship with him anyway? Another thought to ponder in my constant efforts to prove that Christianity can be achieved without the "Christianity." That you can have a relationship with God without "getting saved." That you can know Jesus as GOD without even knowing there ever was a Jesus as man. If that makes sense. I think it's my snide attempt at side-stepping the one element of God and his will for the world that I hate.

On Friday, I pinpointed yet another reason why I hate chapel. I always seem to "discover" why I hate it... but the explanation is never quite enough. Last time I found out why I hated it, the reason was because I wasn't raised in church and didn't hold the ceremony to be sacred in itself... the ceremony was just a conduit to connect you to God, and since I was not raised believing that the ceremony was THE way to connect to God (which I get the feeling a lot of people at this school DO believe), I had no interested in it whatsoever, and my hatred of it stemmed from a slight guilt, I guess, an insecurity, wondering if there was something wrong with me because I wasn't like THOSE people who did worship the ceremony. I think that might still be true, but more about why I hate certain aspects of it, and why I get unhappy feelings everytime I see people seem to worship more enthusiastically when the music swells. I think "oh my gosh they're manipulating our emotions" and I assume those people are thinking "Wow, God is really moving." I don't doubt their honest participation... maybe some of them are dishonest, but I bet a lot of them really do truly, honestly, mean it.

-Obligatory chapel rant below... feel free to skip-

However... what I realized I hate about chapel is the show of it all. The PERFORMANCE. Not of the actual worshippers (who I was talking about above) but the people on stage. The musicians which are taken out of the music department and are doing this for class/major credit instead of because they believe in it (that actually is true, by the way, I found that out and it pissed me off). The speaker who goes up there and has them sing the chorus one more time, slower, or who gives a stirring last story to the tune of the tinkling piano. Ugh! It almost makes me HATE those people who are honestly touched by the stupid manipulative CRAP going on onstage. Stab stab stab. Can they BE that gullible? It's sad, though, because sometimes I do honestly feel tuggings at my heart or whatever and really do feel compelled to make some connection to God, but one look at the stage and the performers and the stupid ritual and I DESPISE even my own honest experiences, simply because I'm afraid I'm becoming one of those gullible saps who buy in to that crap. I mean, every chapel is the same... there are 3 worship songs (no more, no less, unless it's a special ocassion). The first is quick and upbeat, with the singer announcing chapel has begun with a "Clap your hands, everybody!" or "Are you ready to worship GOD this morning!" and those aforementioned gullible saps cheer or dance about (my mom does this, by the way... ugh). After the fast song, there's a medium-paced song... and then the last one is either slow, or about a serious topic - our unworthiness, Jesus' death, blah blah... then they play a bit of slow, quiet background music as the speaker prays or gives a "spontaneous" word from God (yeah right, like he made that up just then. Pfft). Then we sit down (at a church, this is where everyone shakes hands and pretends like they don't just want to get this over with... or maybe they really are happy to meet you, I dunno). We are bored by some "humor" or announcements or a long, drawn-out PRAISE (a more sincere form of worship than the one that preceded it) of the speaker: "He was recently crowned king of the Assemblies of God and has served on this board of old men for longer than you've been alive. He's been married to a woman with, ahem, no achievements worth mentioning (unless they're in the school system or church) for a thousand years, and is here to talk to you today about something that has no relevance to your lives! Please welcome doctor/reverend/saint So-and-so!" Thus begins a long, booooring sermon.. OR a long, ANNOYING sermon filled with attempts at humor... that nonoffensive preacher humor that makes me want to gag... stupid puns about how old they are or how they can't work technology or some story about something funny that has a serious message, or they ask for volunteers and show-offs get to humiliate themselves for pizza coupons or $5 or a candy bar (guys seem to be the only ones who go up there, or the girlfriends of guys who force them to go up there). Anyway... that is followed by an altar call, complete with tinkling background piano, and a passionate prayer/sermon where the guy is "praying" but is actually talking to the audience... "God, if there's anyone here today who needs to hear from you, who has wandered away from you and needs to know that you care, show them that you love them.. that you have arms open wide, ready to receive them even though they did those drugs at that party, they sexed that girl at that party, they did whatever"... drugs and sex seem to be the sins of choice, when honestly the people I've seen at this school are suffering from FAR worse afflictions that you hardly see talked about (self-absorption, judgmentalism [is this a word?], unforgiveness for the stupidest things [omg she totally said that, no way, now I won't speak to her for like ever])... blehhhhhh. Then we leave... everyone mass-exits and you hear them all on the sidewalk critiquing the guy who spoke... "His voice sounded like he was on helium. I wanted to shoot myself." ... "I can't believe he said that! He OBVIOUSLY hasn't read the Bible." ... "Yeah, that one joke he made like 5 minutes in? He's definitely racist." Etc.

-End obligatory chapel rant... sorry.-

And THAT was the result of my attempting to go to chapel with an open mind on Friday. I think I zoned out during the sermon, but I honestly tried to worship during the worship, despite them butchering my favorite worship song. I realized how annoying it is when people come in late while you're trying to worship... I always got pissed at the people who told me that I shouldn't come in late because I'm "disturbing the people trying to worship." I assumed no one worshiped anyway so who cares. But... they probably DON'T worship because it's so embarrassing to finally get your hands in the air and hear "excuse me, can I get through... soooorrry" yeah they're not sorry. Haha. Plus, with all the traffic going on right over where my STUFF is kept, I found myself checking the ground every 5 minutes to make sure my cell phone and all other breakable things were safe from stiletto heels and winter boots. I shall attempt to not be late to any more chapels, just in case someone is trying to worship. I never realized how rude I was being. :(

The weekend was spent doing.... weekend things. Friday night I did go to a birthday party full of several people I can't stand. While the evening only served to prove to me WHY I dislike them (there were at least 30 poop jokes during the evening. Some of which were REPEATED. And found funnier upon repetition. Oh dear ghandi what did I ever do to deserve this...), I was actually NICE. My boyfriend, who was no less than a foot away from me the entire evening, told me he actually thought I was enjoying the party until we got in the car and I unleashed a torrent of "OOOOMMMMGGGG WHYYYYYY." If I can manage to be nice enough to fool the one person who knows me better than anyone.... I'm doing an awesome job. :P

Tonight (er, this morning... yeah I stayed up all night. My sleep schedule is still effed up from Christmas break) I was trying to read a textbook (siiiiigh it has BEGUN) and couldn't concentrate... My mind just WANDERS. I can't get focused for any longer than like 5 seconds on stuff I don't want to do. Bleh. I'm still not unpacked from Christmas break. -.-' Anyway. I randomly started praying and begging God to not let this semester end up like my last two, where I did almost nothing and barely skated through my classes. I was guided along a thought pattern that resulted in a lot of interesting ... thoughts. Sigh, I tried so hard not to use that word twice in a row XD Anyway.

I'm always terrified to surrender to God's will because, I mean, I have no clue what it's going to be. You hear stories about people told to go to music school without ever touching an instrument (lead singer of Casting Crowns) or to sell everything they own and go preach to natives in a mosquito-infest land.... (random story: Only about a year ago [sadly enough] I promsied God that, if ABSOLUTELY necessary, I would go become a missionary in some other country, as long as he could assure me the country would not involve bugs larger than an inch and a half in diameter. That rules out most of Africa and South America. Communist countries that would kill me for owning a Bible scare me less than the idea of living in a place where there are mosquitoes bigger than my face) Last year some time, too, I was terrified by the idea that God might tell me to break up with my boyfriend and live only for him (that verse about hating your father and mother and all that comes to mind)... I was very strongly opposed to this, and was terrified of honestly telling God I'd do whatever he wanted because there existed the POSSIBILITY that he tell me to leave him. I am aware that this means I loved Chris more than God, but... yeah I did. I think I still do, seeing as though when I'm having a bad day, a hug from Chris does infinitely more than praying to God, and quite honestly, my relationship with Chris is reliable... my relationship with God? not so much. He takes off for no reason to "test me" and other such crap. You don't see Chris doing that, now do you? King of the universe or not, I can put off dealing with God until I die, but the pressures of real life need a real-life person to help me, and be DEPENDABLE, and not just some ethereal floaty warm feeling I SOMETIMES get if I'm praying with "the right motives." Bleh. I'm feeling bitter tonight... hahaha.

But... tonight I was praying about the fact that God told me over Christmas that the only way I would survive this semester is if I learned to rely on him. Before classes even started, several of the major points that I thought I'd need his help with - were gone. Looking at that now... I kind of can even think of claiming that God made those happen. Two were awful situations that honestly, turned out to be good. It's like REALLY needing a job, and applying for one, and not getting it - you HATE it at first, but then you find out that someone you know got the job, and it's a crappy work environment and they expect too much of you and everyone who works there is miserable. You then realize that not getting the job is a good thing.

I was supposed to be spending this semester working on a massive research project I started last semester... it was going to be a CRAPLOAD of work, and I was looking ahead to tons of stress and cranky days and just bleh. I wasn't sure if I'd have enough time, but was willing to cut out freetime, hobbies, and time with friends, to make room, because I was so excited about this project. The professor who was leading me in this COMPLETELY blew me off in what would consist of another cranky rant, so I will refrain... I dropped the research class entirely and washed my hands of the mess. My advisor has encouraged me to tell her that I was hurt by her blowing me off, but I kind of think that would encourage her to try and incorporate me into the project she's doing now (basically my project run by two other students, with me not even in the picture) which sounds even LESS fun than just letting it go. I was incredibly angry and hurt by this, but... I look at it now, and honestly? My semester is going to be INFINITELY more relaxed now that I'm not trying to do that. It sucked at the time, but... maybe that was God's way of helping me out this semester. Hmmm. I might have to give him credit for that. :P

The second was that... as everyone I talk to knows... I am graduating in May, minus TWO English classes. One class is offered in the summer, the other... is very hard to find. I had planned on taking it at a local state college, where 3 days a week I would ride 2 miles on a bike at 9 am (please note this is in January haha), and be taking 18 credits (I could barely survive 15 last semester), all upper-division. It was, also, going to be super stressful and hard, but I was willing to push through because, GRADUATION?? heck yes. However, the professor of that class refused me entry into her already-full class, despite my pleas that this might be my last chance to graduate in May. She even had the audacity to say "Sorry. Best wishes." Best wishes? I think that's the most heartless phrase ever in response to "OMG YOU HOLD THE KEY TO MY POTENTIAL GRADUATION AND IF YOU SAY NO I AM ROYALLY SCREWED." -.-' But I digress (again haha)... she said no, and there was a frantic scramble the first week of the semester to try and get me into a class so I could graduate... my other advisor-ish (I dunno what to call him exactly) helped me find a class offered online in the summer... so now I can still only take 15 credits (siiiigh of relief ^_^) and just take the last two English classes in the summer. At first, the rejection and the stress of the first week seemed like all was lost, and I was annoyed and stressed and thought I'd be stuck at this school for another semester (O_O I would die), but... everything worked out, and now things are better than before.

While I was, in both situations, not expressly talking to God about those things... I did tell him that the first month of this semester would be his, and that I was going to try and rely on him the entire semester for my very survival. So... perhaps... he was working ahead, paving the way for it to be easier for me to DO those things. I can tell you right now that had he not, I would have no time for blog entries. At all. :P

But anyway, back to God's will. I know that God is the only one who can make me be more responsible, organized, proactive, etc. and thus help me survive this semester, but I'm still terrified to tell him he has control, because what if he makes me do something ridiculous? At that point, I stopped, and either God or other me (Other me, for those of you who don't know, is the part of my brain that speaks common sense, and/or plays devil's advocate, etc. etc. I swear it thinks of things I never would have thought of, and we often have conversations [read: arguments] about various points in my life... I call it other me when I don't feel confident enough to call it God) pointed out: What exactly could God tell me to do right now that would be THAT ridiculous? I'm pretty much 99.9% certain that God's will for me, at this moment, is to be a good student and graduate. This is my place in life, the place he has brought me to, if you want to believe that, and all of the people in my life have invested so much in me and my college education, that at this point... why would he randomly decide for me to do something else? Until I have college done with, I can pretty much rest 100% certain on the fact that he and I have very similar goals... be a good student, do my best, learn life skills, and graduate. After that, I don't know, but right now, today, can't I trust him not to send me off to a mosquito-infested foreign land? I'm safe from that, at least for now. And while I'm not condoning limited surrender... right NOW, he can have my all... at least until graduation, right? After that I can be wary of the seemingly inevitable "SELL YOUR BELONGINGS AND MOVE TO A MUD HUT IN AFRICA."

Another random story: During the period of time when my greatest fear was for God to tell me to dump Chris, I considered forcing Chris to elope with me so that we would then be all caps: MARRIED!!!! and thus sanctified by God and after that, God would just have to help our relationship, since he doesn't believe in divorce. Muhaha.

Although, had I gone through with that, I do believe I would've been handed an automatic ticket to hell for manipulating God. There has got to be a special level of hell for that. Probably the one I swear exists which consists of an eternity of dental work and being forced to listen to top 40 music and enduring the company of really annoying people.... oh and you have to watch hallmark movies. They staple your lids open and MAKE you watch them. With the annoying people and the music and the dentists.


Where was I going with this? I don't know.

Glancing over my post, I think that something is true which I have felt other me or God HINTING at, but which I never allowed myself to believe... I read in the aforementioned book "Your God is Too Small" by Philips... he goes through half the book, with each 3-4 page chapter dedicated to exposing the flaws in the various ideas people have of God. One of them is about the God that is a disappointment. The people who have been let down by God, or who believed that he was a certain way (which he was not) and was incredibly hurt when their image of him wasn't real, and they forever are stuck worshiping this disappointment because they feel they have to. Kind of like "God sucks, but he's God, so I better love him." I think in a lot of ways I have this mentality (see angry rants above).... There is a lot of bitterness in my view of God. Not for the stupid reasons people usually give... you know, "Why do you let babies die!?!?!" or "Why did you not make my life an endless series of blissful moments!!" and stuff... I've never blamed God for anything bad that happened in my life (and for the few things that I did blame him, I got over it as I got older)... but in this creepy intellectually distant way, I sometimes dissect all the things I know about theology and the Bible, and see it as this giant manipulative web. Example? Prayer. First, God says that whatever you ask shall be given unto you as long as you ask it in my name. Fine. But then you ask him for something, and it doesn't happen. So how does he explain this? OOOOOH... whatever you ask shall NOT be given unto you unless you are praying for something that fulfills God's cause... which he's going to do anyway. So really, you don't get what you want, you get what God wants. But don't worry... there's another verse that says if you were REALLY following God, you'd want what God wants anyway. You begin to be HAPPY that your life sucks, because that is God's holy perfect will. So really, if you don't get what you want, you're not a good Christian, and if you don't like that you don't get what you want, you're not a good Christian. I have one thing to say to this: W. T. F. .... meh. I think myself DIZZY going through all of those little traps in the Bible... the things that explain away all of your complaints but leaving you wondering if there's anything honest going on in this entire religion. God is always with you - he will not leave you or forsake you - but SOMETIMES he does, and that is to test you and strengthen your faith so you will love him more. I don't get it. I've never loved anyone more because they stopped talking to me. The line from Rich Mullins (I HEART him) that seems to be written after the death of a close friend, and is dealing with the aftermath of that... but after a long list of suffering and pain and lost, he concludes with "While you're up there just playing hard to get."

I once attempted to make a list of all of them, to then bring before various pastors in my area (I hoped to write a piece about it for my Christian high school's newspaper... looking back, I doubt they would have published it) but I got through like 6 and then I was so depressed and cranky I didn't want to go on.

I don't even like reading the Bible because all I see are loopholes. The first one I remember was when I was really young, like 11... and I was for some reason thinking of the verse in Proverbs (probably because my mom felt it necessary to bring up all the time) about how if you obey your parents, you'll have a long life. It's listed as one of the first promises in the Bible. Obey your parents, get a long life. It dawned on my tiny 11-year-old mind that this was not a real promise from God, it wasn't like God saying "obey your parents and I will put a magic halo around your life so that it is long." Instead, this verse was saying "Generally, the things your parents have you do are conducive to long life... such as eating your peas, not doing drugs, and etc. So if you obey them, you'll probably live longer." It was saying there was a correlation. It was NOT saying that correlation was a guarantee, NOR was it saying that anything was at work here besides common sense. I shared this, in HORROR, with my mom, whose enlightening response (something along the lines of "Uhm, yeah... you didn't know that?") did not help me at all. :(

I think I want to make Christianity a lot more spiritual than it actually is... to take what the Bible is listing as facts of life and common sense, and somehow make it this great force of GOD. It makes me sad that there is very little real spiritual magic going on in the world. Maybe this is why so many AG people are so hung up on speaking in tongues - OMG! LOOK! GOD IS TOTALLY BEING MAGICAL AND SPIRITUAL AND LOOK LOOK LOOK! Meh.

Sorry tonight has been a cranky night... haha. :P I need to now get ready for classes. O_O Stupid all-nighters.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

OPO: Day Two

Operation Project Openness: Day Two

So... today was better. Kinda. I slept too late (again) because last night I couldn't sleep and ended up staying up 'til 3 am. Slept through chapel (which I was going to try and go to with an open mind), and almost slept through my first class (the first class of that first class, too!)... however, though things are hectic and I have yet to have time to really dedicate to pursuing anything spiritual, I feel a lot more at peace today. Last night I asked one of my friends to pray for me and this weird barrier thing, so maybe that helped. My boyfriend and I resolved some issues we've been having the past few days over what to do when I graduate (since by that time we'll be engaged and planning on being married in a year, and I wanted to just up and vanish for a year haha, long story).

One of my big things with this OPO is trying to be nicer to people, since previously I became so harsh in my judgments of others that only about 4 people made the cut, and I would only happily talk to those 4 - everyone else I looked on with seething hatred. Things are going REALLY well in that front... (I supposed that while spending time talking to God hasn't really happened, actually trying to work it out in my life is going well) Someone who last semester I could hardly even look at... I'm going to her birthday party on Friday. Another person who me and my boyfriend were not on speaking terms with, in the past week has been trying to ask forgiveness and reconcile the friendship, and we've both agreed that tomorrow at lunch we're going to eat with him if we see him, and just be nice to him in general. Yet another person who I was seriously like 2 inches from STABBING last year, I've ... tolerated... her presence recently, hahaha! I tried to invite her to Wal-Mart, but she said no... she doesn't know how annoying she is to me (at least I don't think)... I'm trying to learn to see her good qualities instead of just dumping the entire relationship. It's hard. I'm not nice by nature, like... at all. But... things are getting easier, I find. Just since coming to college, while God isn't really APPARENT so far... I have actually WANTED to be nice to people, instead of just doing it because I think I have to. So that's good. :)

I'm attempting to be more organized and have set up a schedule for next week in order to get in all the things I want to do... :) I found last year that when I didn't have things scheduled, I wouldn't do what I had to do, OR what I wanted to do. It was weird. I would just spend hours sitting around doing nothing, and then get upset that I didn't do my homework or required work, NOR did I do anything "fun" that I really wanted to do. o.O;;;; I think it's because I have like NO concept of time whatsoever. I don't know. The schedule includes a prayer walk, 30 minutes of getting in touch with God every morning, and three other spiritual things... most of them later in the week, so I'll let you know how those go. :) For now it's just buying textbooks, getting unpacked (yeah I still haven't done that) and trying to prepare for the semester.

Tonight I'm going to bed on time (and am actually tired!!). A friend said she'd wake me up at 7 and I have set 3 alarms (bahaha) so HOPEFULLY I'll actually wake up this time, and be able to start my morning communicating with God like I've planned on doing recently but haven't gotten to. :)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

OPO: Day One

Operation Project Openness: Day One

Today is my first day being wholly open to God and spirituality. However, things didn't go very well at all. First, I think I may be getting sick, as I woke up with a horrible sore throat, and so went right back to bed. Instead of waking up at 7 like I planned, I woke up at noon. I planned on having most of the morning to devote to spiritual stuff, but that didn't happen. Instead, I prayed a short prayer and rushed out to eat lunch and go to class. I didn't get to work today, either, which I planned on doing. I tried to pray throughout the day, but I'm finding that it's a lot harder than I had anticipated. I've been at Evangel 3 days, and all three days... I've felt cut off from God, like there's a barrier in our communication. It makes no sense. I was so excited to do this, and was actually starting to believe some good would come of it, and anticipated success, and was just all-around very positive towards it... however, I came to Evangel, and I started to feel like God was absent, that I wasn't going to have success, and etc. Today has been the worst, a culmination of all these feelings... I honestly DO NOT want to do anything spiritual. I hate the idea of any of it. It's the same feeling I got towards the end of last semester towards homework - I'm completely repulsed by the idea of praying, or trying to commune with God, or even getting serious and emotional about issues. I just despise all of it. I don't know why. Either it's "spiritual warfare" (blehhh I hate that term... Christians use it so often as an excuse for things. Gack!) and evil forces don't want me to succeed in this project, thus they are hindering me. Or, God is putting those barriers himself to see if I'm serious, to see if I actually will do what I said I would do. Or it's just the fact that I'm kind of sick, things are busy, etc. and I just don't want to make time for it out of my own self. Not sure what it is. I'm going to try and pray tonight and see what happens, then go to sleep and FORCE myself to wake up at 7.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Newsletter has Begun! - Looking for content!

I'm trying to start a biweekly email newsletter about spreading happiness, inspiration, joy, awareness, and connection to the world, and I'm looking for content for the first issue so it's not just all me talking. :) I'm looking for:

- Stories of a Random act of Kindness or work with charity either you did or you benefited from (like something kind someone did for you, or that you did for someone else)
- Stories of connecting with another culture - such as a trip you went on, or a bonding experience with a penpal, or something else.
- Ads for newsletters, forums, online communities, etc. that are also in the business of promoting happiness, doing kind things, making connections, learning about world cultures, etc.
- Small articles (very informal, just talk like you're talking to a friend) about your culture, maybe a holiday celebrated there this month, or describe the town you live in, talk about the differences you've seen in your community as opposed to another place you have visited, etc. Make sure to include the name of the country and town you live in so we can know places all over the world! :D
- Book reviews of books that inspire you or which caused you to think deeply about something you hadn't considered before, or of travelogues and books about other cultures. :)
- Funny stories (CLEAN funny stories) that have happened to you personally... not jokes, per say, but stories about things that you or your friends/family have experienced that are hilarious. :D We all have them...
- Blog reviews... I don't read blogs often, but would like to include at least one review of a blog that is writing about the things that the newsletter stands for. Examples are: travel blogs, blogs about art or literature, blogs about culture, blogs about a charity or acts of kindness, blogs that challenge you to think or be a better person, etc. Quirky/fun blogs are welcome, too, since what spreads joy better than smiles? :)
- Anything else that seems to fit along the lines of what the newsletter is about... feel free to submit as much as you want! If I don't use it in the first issue, I might use it later!!

With any submission, please include the name that you want to go by (NO LAST NAMES!) and if you have a website/blog/etc. you want me to link to, and also your email address (I won't post your email, but will allow readers to email me their comments and I will forward them to you, so your privacy is assured!).

By submitting something, you are automatically signed up to receive the newsletter every other week. I'm sorry I don't have anything to offer as compensation, but perhaps being featured in the newsletter is its own reward? :)

The newsletter is called Echo and the first issue should be out January 24th. :D If you don't have anything to submit but would still like to receive it, feel free to contact me as well with your email address!! ^_^

I'm very excited about this!!!



I feel like sharing my thoughts and plans for this year, and what better place to do it than this blog, which really doesn't get enough use.

First off, for those of you who don't know (actually, I think none of you know this... I don't tell it to many people)... I have a habit of naming every single year. I usually name it sometime in December, and I officially christen the new year with its name on New Years Eve. Sometimes I do it during the first week of the year. But the point is - the year gets its name before it has done anything spectacular (similar to people, really)... and what disturbs me is that every single year, it LIVES UP to its name! Usually in ways I hadn't antitipcated. AT ALL.

The first year I named was 2005. I named it after like... 17 hours into it, when during that time, I had had awesome conversations with two friends, got shot in the eye with an airsoft gun (I find this to be more awesome than bad, since nothing horrible happened except it swelled up for a few days, and it made for a fricking awesome story), and had this long ordeal with a dog... the dog showed up at our house on New Years Eve and wouldn't go away. It was just hanging out on our front porch. o.O Weird. So we fed it (bad idea but oh well) and mom dragged the dog pen we kept for our dog sometimes out onto the driveway so the dog would have a place to sleep. At like 6 am I decided to walk to Price Chopper and buy donuts (I hadn't slept that night at all - woot). When I went outside, the dog was still there. I don't particularly like dogs. They scare the crap out of me, and this one was this huge dog, like part lab part husky part horse I dunno, and he came up to my waist with a tail that could knock me over. Anyway. I walked to Price Chopper and the stupid dog FOLLOWED ME all the way there. At first I was creeped out, then I was amused, and then I was happy and I talked to it the whole way there, thinking about how cool it was that I found my own Lassie. Well I went into the store and bought the dog some treats, as well as my donuts... came out and the dog was waiting for me. I fed him the treats and we started walking back to my house. We get halfway there (walking on the sidewalk next to a street) and this white truck SCREECHES to a halt on the street, puts it in reverse, and backs up to where we are. I'm freaked, with images of being raped and murdered going through my head, when he yells "Gracie! Come here, girl!" and the dog hops up into the truck, all happy as can be. The guy yells "Hey, thanks for finding my dog!" and then drives off. o.O;;;;;;; The entire way home I decided that 2005 HAD to be the best year of my life. It had to be. Not even 24 hours into it and awesome things were already happening.

And it actually DID turn out to be the best year of my life so far... the entire thing just rocked, especially coming after 2004, which I retroactively deemed the WORST year of my life, because, well, it was.

Anyway. After that, the names continued... :P And each time, the name kind of predicted what would happen that year.

For example, 2009 was "The Year of New Beginnings." I choose this mainly because in October of 2008 I had broken up with the only boyfriend I had ever had, and by December of 2008 I was dating another guy. I felt like I was coming out of that relationship and that phase of life, and starting out on a new adventure with a new guy and a new outlook on life and blah blah blah. In an ironic twist of events, in 2009 I dumped said new guy (he was an asshole) and got back together with said previous boyfriend... and me and HIM began a new relationship with each other that is so much better than our old relationship... everything is different, and we are both different people. 2009 truly became a year of new beginnings for us, in different ways than I had expected. :)

Well, back to 2010.

I have named 2010: THE YEAR OF NO EXCUSES.

Let me explain why. I was lying in my bed, probably on Jan. 2nd or 3rd... and I was drifting off to sleep, and I remembered I hadn't exactly named 2010. I had thought of several options, like "The Year of Awesome and Win" (yeah not kidding) or "The Year of Growing Up" and stuff like that... but it was weird and cool. The SECOND I thought "Hmm what should I name 2010," God said: "The year of no excuses."

Instantly, I knew what he meant, of course. I have a talent for getting out of stuff. No, really, I can get out of ANYTHING. I can talk my way out of getting in trouble, can bluff well, can make things come off as waaaay better than they actually are... I'm good at being manipulative without TEEEECHNICALLY lying (or while lying through my teeth but you'll never know). It's bad. Well, I mean... it's good, if needed, but I mean... I use it too much. I have like zero integrity to stuff that I do because I just weedle my way out of half the consequences. I don't think I've ever been decently punished in my life. I'll screw up majorly and then just dance my way out of the punishment, either due to lenient parents, or teachers who think "oh but she's just such a good kid" or college faculty who are too nice for their own good. I recently talked my way out of having to take 3 extra classes that every other person graduating with an English concentration has to complete. I get to graduate without them. I also recently talked my way out of being on "behavioral probation" at school for missing chapel too many times because I sent in my required papers with a very long pleading email begging them not to get me into trouble. I got off scot-free. Woot!

I also make excuses for putting things off, for treating people unfairly, for just about everything. I convince MYSELF that I'm doing things right, even when I "know" I'm not. Bleh. I hate it, but it's the only way I've lived for 20 years, so what am I gonna do? Start actually doing stuff I need to do? o.O That's crazy talk.

All of Christmas break, though, I had been talking to God about the upcoming semester, and how it's going to be super hard and stressful and I'm not sure how I'm gonna pull it off. The last two months of my fall semester were HELL ON EARTH because I took on too many projects, got too behind, messed up too much, and had teachers who felt it necessary to screw their classes over for fun. He told me that the only way I would survive was if I made sure to take it day by day, not getting too stressed out or looking too far ahead, but taking it one day at a time, and devoting it to him in the morning and praying to him at night - truly relying on him (which, all during August/September, was my constant prayer - that he would teach me to rely on him) for my strength and sanity for every single day. This coincided with something I was already planning on doing, so I agreed. However, with this new challenge for 2010, he has pointed out another thing I will need to survive this semester: STOP MAKING EXCUSES. Do what I need to do. Live with integrity. Don't convince myself I can just get by, but do what is necessary and then more.

So... in accordance with that, let me share some of my plans for 2010 that I will do - NO EXCUSES involved. :D

First off... and this is the thing that coincided with what God told me... somehow, halfway through last semester, I went from growing closer and closer to God, to growing more cynical and more annoyed with God/Christiantiy/etc. Over the summer, when I was at a secular university, I was exploring his and my relationship, working out the stuff we needed to work on, praying for FUN sometimes, and I thought that things were finally going to STAY on a positive track... but of course they didn't. When I went to my Christian college (oh the irony), my relationship with God started to spiral downwards. Bleh! I honestly don't know what is to blame. I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of factors... the first is that I had a stressful and difficult semester overall, which put a strain on all areas of my life, including spirituality. The second is chapel. Ugh. Chapel. Nobody at my school understands why I hate it so much... ~I~ don't even understand it... but something about attending those stupid services just drags my soul down. I. HATE. chapel. Not just annoyed by, not just dislike - HATE. Everytime I go - LITERALLY - every single time I go - I am significantly more depressed for that day. I could scientifically chart this. It makes me disgusted with God, with his people, and with religion in general. But anyway... over the course of the semster, I got more and more cynical and hard-hearted towards God and his people and everything, that I was starting to get to the point where I want to throw my hands in the air and become Buddhist (something I say all the time when I'm at my breaking point, which ~I~ find amusing, but I'm sure God thinks is annoying), and, like always, right before I hit that point, God swoops in and makes everything better. He calmed me down over Christmas break, and he and I came up with an idea... spawned from the concept that either I came up with or read somewhere, which is this: If God is really the most awesome being in the universe, if he REALLY is the God he says he is, then he can withstand any challenge you throw at him (as long as you're not being retarded, like "hey, make me grow two more arms and I'll believe in you"). So test him out, challenge him, because he can take it. So. I was annoyed and fed up with Christianity and God and all that crap, and was thinking that none of it is worth doing and etc. So the idea is this: For one month, do all the spiritual things that I used to do at some point, or that someone had encouraged me to do, or that I had "always wanted to try," or whatever... and see what the result is. Do a study. Test it. See if it's true. I couldn't do it over Christmas break, because everyone knows that the easy life of school vacation is VERY not like reality, and a spirituality that works during the easy days might not stand the test during the hard days. I was waiting for school to start, and when it does, here is my plan:

Every day, I am going to start with intensive prayer, worship, meditation, Bible reading, getting in tune with my creativity and the soul/mind that when I'm cynical and hardhearted I shut up and shut down. I'm going to remind myself of these things throughout the day, so I don't slip back into the excuses and the cynicism and the unkindness I have towards people a lot of the time. Then at the end of the day, I'm going to journal a bit, think about what happened during the day, thank God for the good things and the bad that I got to learn from, and think about how I could have done things differently if I messed up. Every week, I'm going to try and take time out for a spiritual time with Chris (the boyfriend), and will try to make other people's lives better. I'm also going to try to donate some money (or time/resources, if I don't have any to spare that week) to a charity organization. I'm going to take time each week for an extended spiritual exercise, such as taking a nature/prayer walk, doing a meditative exercise, or taking time to get emotional and deal with an issue of unforgiveness or self-doubt or something in my life. I'm also going to try to get adequate sleep, which is honestly one of the most spiritual things that so many people overlook.

At no point in my life have I really done ALL of those things for an extended period of time. I might do it for a few days, or sporadically... but never for an entire month. I want to test and see if it's true that the only reason God doesn't show up in people's lives is because they're not offering their lives for him to show up in. When I'm not consistent in my efforts, it's easy to be unsure about where the gas in my spirituality are coming from - me or God. However, with an entire month set aside to being open, being honest, being ready to receive, and ready to give, I will be able to say whether or not it was me or God that failed that month. Ever since I've had this idea (it has been forming for a while), I get this electric feeling underneath my skin, this bubbling, percolating feeling, like God is just WAITING for me to start so he can dig his fingers into my life and start doing cool stuff. I love that feeling... :D It usually doesn't last for long. But this time I will have no excuses, and neither will God. :) We'll see what happens.

I share all that to say that I'm thinking about blogging about this experiment and seeing what happens with it. It will probably be really personal, but I think that's okay.

I think I'll call it.... Operation Month of Openness. :) OPO! Haha. Since basically that's what it is - a month of doing everything in my power to be spiritually open. So we'll see how it goes. :)

If anyone has any suggestions for spiritual exercises I could do, books to read during this time, or whatever, please let me know! They don't have to be "Christian", since I don't really think I am either.

Other goals I'm going to try and work on in 2010 are the things I listed in my 101/1001 list, especially reading 28,000 pages this year, and reading at least 50 of the 300+ books that are on my massive TBR pile that I've had since high school. I would also like to work on a newsletter. I'm thinking it would be an email newsletter about happiness and changing the world through simple things... with my definition of changing the world, which is less about organic, save the earth, global warming what have you... and not even about stopping the evils of the world (which I feel are so big that all a person like me can do is scratch the surface), but about spreading happiness, goodness, positivity, education, art, beauty, love, joy, inspiration, etc. to the people around us, as WELL as trying to conquer those big evils and save our trees. :) Even well-fed and breathing clean air, I think our lives would suck if it if the content wasn't awesome as well. But anwyay, it would be a weekly email newsletter and possibly have a monthly print component that would cost $1 (it costs between 88 cents and $1.05 just for shipping... not to mention printing it up and buying envelopes, maybe it will have to be $1.50). I'm thinking of using my previous idea for a spiritual thinking newsletter and combining it with this... it was going to be called ECHO, which means both soul and butterfly in Greek, and also in Greek mythology, it was what Psyche turned into when she died. I believe we are all, in a way, Echoes of God's soul, that we are smaller versions, made to be like the bigger version of God's soul. We are an imprint, an echo. :) So yes. :D It would have a LOT of reader content in it, as well as contests and all sorts of other things... it would be incredibly lo-tech and lots of fun. I will keep you updated on it. ^_^

For now, this post is HUGE. I'll shut up now. :D


101 in 1001

Hey... I know I hardly update anymore. I should add that to my list. Anyway! I recently discovered this website where you can make a list of 101 things you want to do in 1001 days. :D I love making lists and fulfilling goals and etc. so I, of course, made a list!! It only has about 30 things on it right now, but that will change, of course! :D Here's my list so far:

1 Send a secret to PostSecret
2 Send 101 postcards via
3 Send anonymous flowers to someone who is having a tough day
4 make a zine
5 Write a bucket list
6 Send 5 Toy Voyagers Around the World
7 Read 28,000 pages
8 Get a penpal from every country
9 Start a newsletter
10 Graduate college!!
11 Get a real job :D
12 Finish the first book of my Anni story
13 Get my first apartment :)
14 Read the 389 books that have been on my TBR pile for like 3 years
15 See my brother's band in concert
16 Learn to play Hall of the Mountain King on the piano
17 Learn to do Algebra well
18 Pass the GRE with a really good score
19 Put change into someone's expired parking meter
20 Write a letter to everyone I know
21 Decorate the sidewalk downtown or at my college like a Monopoly boardgame
22 Get engaged to my lovely boyfriend <3
23 Get married to my amazing boyfriend :D
24 Mail Steffi's Christmas package
25 Pay my library fines >.<
26 Support a creative mind struggling to find their start
27 Participate in the NavoWrimo thing. :D
28 Get a short story or journal article published
29 Hide a letterbox
30 Release 100 Bookcrossing Books
31 Get a GPS and go Geocaching!!
32 Throw a party for no reason

:D Hopefully I will be able to complete these!!