12.23.2009

Well, that's not exactly Christmas Talk, now is it?

It's no secret that I am often frustrated by the media these days.

And further, that while I want to make a difference sometimes I just don't know how.

I've never promised to have the answers and I am just as guilty as the next person for settling for complacency or basking in oblivion or even pointing fingers to alleviate my share of the burden.

What I share with you today isn't an End All and it very likely will be swallowed up by the Black Hole of Information Overload (or even just Warm, Fuzzy Christmas Thoughts).

But I saw this and thought well, this is exactly what I've been asking for. So the very least I can do is spread the word. And then we can all be informed.

And we can all sit around and discuss the Congo and Somalia and Sri Lanka and say together with Dr. Fournier:

"There is no question that civilians are increasingly victimized in conflicts and further cut off from lifesaving assistance, often deliberately. In places like Sri Lanka and Yemen, where armed conflicts raged in 2009, aid groups were either blocked from accessing those in need or forced out because they too came under fire. This unacceptable dynamic is becoming the norm. Our teams on the ground are witnessing the very tangible human consequences of these crises directly, either in war zones or in the AIDS and nutrition clinics in which they work. We're therefore compelled and obligated to speak out.

— Dr. Christophe Fournier
MSF International Council President


And maybe someday, hopefully someday soon, this compelling will move from a word-spreading into an action-spreading.

And relief workers will have access to help the hurting without risking their own lives and the government will commit to spending just as much to curing AIDS or eliminating childhood malnutrition as they did for H1N1 and the world will echo a resounding call for Peace on Earth (and not just at Christmas time in a cushy church pew).

May you hear hope in the sound of jingling bells this year but may you also hear a sense of urgency.

Merry Christmas, friends. See you next year.

MSF Top 10 Humanitarian Crises of 2009

12.22.2009

All I want for Christmas is...

...a house made of Legos.



No, wait, a credit card with a ridiculously high (read: 79%) APR.



No, wait. Thaaaat's more like it...

p.s. I would also accept this, this, this, these or anything from here.

12.21.2009

Because it wouldn't be Christmas without...

...the Holiday Armadillo!



Happy Christmas week!

12.18.2009

A simple illustration of why my eye has been twitching since 2007:

In keeping with my Future Freakout mode as of late, I share with you today a post so aptly titled "Fear of the unknown." From here.

(Thanks Lauren for tipping me off to such a delightful blog!)

12.17.2009

Travel with me for a moment to East Africa.

Because faces are so much harder to ignore.
Because we are family.
Because they are losing hope.


The caption reads:
Frederick Mwanzia tells a similar story: "Hunger robs you of everything - the ability to work and provide, the prospect of a better life, dignity and ambition. Without rain, there is no hope."

View the entire slideshow here.

12.16.2009

Because a diet isn't the only thing that needs a little wiggle room.

Twentysomething.

For some, this is a time of grand adventures. World travels. Passionate pursuits. Risk. Grit. An unapologetic existence. The chance to follow one's every whim and chalk it up to "finding oneself"--for better or worse.

For others, this is a time of establishment. Of also "finding oneself"...but within the more rigid parameters of a marriage/child/job/education. And there's sacrifice. And toil. And brute determination to lay the groundwork for the future.

I find myself wavering between the two. Living in the both/and or (probably more accurately) neither/nor. Neither the romance of the Risktaker nor the direction of the Establisher.

I dream of adventures but wake up to a cubicle. I long for stability but abhor feeling stifled.

So, I just keep taking wobbly steps. In this direction or that. Or maybe even in circles. Somehow feeling winded though I feel I've hardly moved.

And it's easy to feel second-rate. And it's easy to make excuses. And it's easy to laugh it off and say Oh who knows...

But in the midst of the soul-searching and dreaming and list-making and day-to-day brush-your-teeth-do-your-laundry-fill-your-gas-tank living, I find myself breathing a bit more deeply these days.

And trying to find some solace in the whoosh of right now.

12.15.2009

What Matters Now

If you have a few moments or would just simply like a way to dress up a rather drab day, take a gander at this.

Kind of like an e-coffeetable-book of sorts.

Each segment is a new perspective on various topics from various "big thinkers"
and features names such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Tim O'Reilly, Dave Ramsey and more.

Here are some excerpts that I found particularly inspiring. Enjoy!

********

Generosity:
If you make a difference, people will gravitate
to you. They want to engage, to interact and to
get you more involved...
Art can’t happen without someone who seeks
to make a difference. This is your art, it’s what
you do. You touch people or projects and
change them for the better.
(Seth Godin)

Fear:

Until Fear is gone, (and realize he may never
completely leave) make the decision to be
courageous. The world needs your story in order to
be complete.
(Anne Jackson)

Ease:
Dear ones, EASE UP. Pump the brakes. Take a
step back. Seriously. Take two steps back. Turn
off all your electronics and surrender over all
your aspirations and do absolutely nothing for a
spell. I know, I know – we all need to save the
world. But trust me: The world will still need
saving tomorrow. In the meantime, you’re going
to have a stroke soon (or cause a stroke in
somebody else) if you don’t calm the hell down.
(Elizabeth Gilbert)

Connected:
More megaphones don’t equal a better dialogue.
We’ve become slaves to our mobile devices and the
glow of our screens. It used to be much more
simple and, somewhere, simple turned into slow.
We walk the streets with our heads down staring
into 3-inch screens while the world whisks by
doing the same. And yet we’re convinced we are
more connected to each other than ever before.
Multi-tasking has become a badge of honor. I want
to know why.
(Howard Mann)

Vision:
In a down economy—particularly one that has
taken most of us by surprise—things get very
tactical. We are just trying to survive. What
worked yesterday does not necessarily work today.
What works today may not necessarily work
tomorrow. Decisions become pragmatic.
But after a while this wears on people. They don’t
know why their efforts matter. They cannot
connect their actions to a larger story. Their work
becomes a matter of just going through the
motions, living from weekend to weekend,
paycheck to paycheck.
This is where great leadership makes all the
difference. Leadership is more than influence. It is
about reminding people of what it is we are trying
to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a
picture of a better future. It comes down to
pointing the way and saying, “C’mon. We can do
this!”
(Michael Hyatt)

Ripple:
Education has a ripple effect...Yet for hundreds of millions of kids in the
developing world, the ripple never begins. Instead,
there’s a seemingly inescapable whirlpool of
poverty. In the words of a headmaster I once met
in Nepal: “We are too poor to afford education.
But until we have education, we will always be
poor.” (John Wood)

Harmony:
The word harmony carries some serious baggage.
Soft, namby-pamby, liberal, weak. Men who value
harmony aren’t considered macho. Women who
value harmony are considered stereotypical.
Success is typically defined with words like hard
(sell, line, ass). Successful people are lauded for
being argumentative, self-interested, disruptive.
But those assumptions are the dregs of a culture
that celebrates the lone hero who leads with
singular ambition all the while damning the sheep
who follow him in harmonious ignorance.
(Jack Covert)

Knowledge:
Journalism as we know it is in trouble. The old models
don’t serve us anymore with the content we need. Now is
our chance to make it better.
(Alisa Miller)

Neoteny:
The future of the planet is becoming less about
being efficient, producing more stuff and
protecting our turf and more about working
together, embracing change and being creative.
(Joichi Ito)

View the entire free ebook here.
Happy inspiring.

12.14.2009

A brief interruption of frenzied list-making and coffee gulping to ask:

Each Tuesday this fall, you could find me gathered around a delicious meal with some of my favorite people at an Alpha course.

The dinners were great, the videos were interesting and our small-group discussion was fruitful, but my favorite part hands-down was the fourth part of the course--the one not advertised and
in fact, not part of the official program at all, really (but hey, Nicky Gumbel, if you're reading this, maybe this is food for thought? And maybe we could meet IN PERSON to discuss? You let me know.).

It was the ride home, the after-Alpha coffee dates, the phone calls and emails and lunchtime discussions with my long-time friend. We would sit and chat and unpack and repack and muddle through and clean up and do whatever we needed to do in order to engage with the night's discussion, all of which were centered around the basics of Christianity.

She's an Asker of Extraordinary Questions, my friend, and sometimes she'd leave my wheels spinning and other times she'd stop me right in my tracks.

One night, as the rain was pitter-pattering on my windshield, we discussed prayer. That night, at Alpha, we'd discussedGod as our Father and prayer as a means to engage in that relationship.

"So when you pray," my friend began, turning to me, "who do you picture?"

"Hmm...I'm not sure what you mean," I said.

"I mean, who are you praying to? Do you picture God as you would your own father--like curling up on the couch next to him and everything? Or more like a faraway Spirit in the Sky? Or a King on a throne? Or someone else? How do you picture God? Who are you praying to?"

"Well," I said slowly, stalling, racking my brain for an answer to a question that I felt very foolish for not knowing how to begin to respond.

"Well," I said again, "...to tell you the truth, I don't really know who I picture on the other end of my prayers because I guess I just don't really think about it. Which seems kind of ridiculous actually...

"I suppose if I had to give an answer it would be this--yes, I do picture God as a Father. But to me, I would say not as much a super-comfy-hang-out-on-the-couch-in-your-slippers-while-drinking-hot-chocolate-and-having-a-heart-to-heart kind of thing but more like just-moved-to-college-calling-home-when-its-convenient-you-don't-need-to-know-everything-about-everything kind of a deal."

And I know that seems like a pretty basic question and I know that my answer is anything but mind-blowing, but for some reason, that question has been echoing in my head ever since.

So what about you...Who are you praying to?

12.11.2009

Because if I don't start typing, my fingers will enevitably land in the mint M&M bag. Again.

So, hey everyone, in case you hadn't heard (or had avoided your calendar like the plague because HOLY CRAP IT CANNOT BE CHRISTMASTIME JUST YET), Christmas Day is a mere two weeks away.

You're welcome for that panic attack.

And hey, you know, I'm right there with you.

I have Post-Its piled so high, I am just waiting for the moment my co-workers find my curled into a fetal position with a sticky-note quilt pulled up to my chin mumbling, "Hey, um, could you hand me a pen?"

And sure, we all know It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but I believe this is just a nice way of saying If You Aren't Pulling Your Hair Out, YOU AREN'T AMERICAN!

I'm afraid I have nothing to offer those who feel over-committed or under-productive. I have no holiday help guide or "how-to" manual for throwing the best Christmas party.

I don't know how to better manage your stress or how to help you say no or even how to help you just relax and enjoy the season in five easy steps.

In fact, truth be told, I am the last one who would judge you for throwing up your hands and saying, "I GIVE UP. I CAN'T DO IT. JUST GIVE ME THAT ROLL OF STORE-BOUGHT COOKIE DOUGH AND NO ONE GETS HURT."

However.

I've run across some resources that I cannot, in good conscience, keep to myself.

I do not share them with strings attached or with the intention of adding yet another component of obligation to your holidays or even by proposing within these very links lie The Ultimate Answer.

I understand some of the resources would force us to really challenge our ideas of giving and receiving and that MAN it is oh-so-difficult to challenge our traditions.

I get that, I really do, and I know that even if you do find these resources worthwhile, they will at the very least challenge you to reconsider where to shop or what to buy or maybe rethink your understanding of celebration altogether.

But as much as it confuses me, too, and as much as I'd love to look the other way and just hunker down and survive...I think that the One and Only Reason for the Season would prefer otherwise.

And in so many words, it's because this seed has been planted and it just won't go away.

So, this Christmas, I offer you this guide from this organization, which is full of creative and challenging ways to rethink the season, and in addition, their list of sources for earth-friendly products:

View the guide to simplify your holidays here (free download with free sign up).

And check out these resources:
Alternative Gifts International www.altgifts.org
Conscious Consumer www.consciousconsumer.org
Give for Change www.giveforchange.com
National Green Pages from Co-op America www.coopamerica.org
Ten Thousand Villages www.tenthousandvillages.org

...And in case I don't get to tell you in person, Merry Christmas friends.

May you find peace in this time of total insanity and know you are loved--whether you cook that fancy meal or not.

12.03.2009

Vibrant.

The go-to question for me from many these days is "So, how is wedding planning going?!"

My usual response is a quick smile and an "Oh pretty good! Thanks!"

And it is. In so many words.

But the question that few ask but seems much more pertinent is, "So, how is engagement going?!"

And it's not that my response would be much different (at least, not if you want the short version) and I'm not generally one to write anything extremely personal for the viewing public, especially since Adam isn't giving this a read-through before I hit "Publish" (hey, Adam! Just, you know, sharing a little of our personal life with the Internet! No worries!).

But it's just that as soon--and actually, even before--we were engaged, several married friends of ours advised us that engagement is just the absolute hardest, most intense time.

And after walking through the engagement season with several of my very best friends in the past few years, I saw firsthand how very emotional and stressful it seemed from the outside.

(So much so that literally the day after I had this sparkling ring on my finger, I turned to Adam and in all my graceful, romantic brilliance said point-blank, "I'm pretty sure we'll be fighting a lot in these next few months. Just so you know.")

Still, I didn't really know what to expect.


Yesterday, someone
asked me to describe my engagement experience and it got me thinking.

And the only way I could even attempt to explain this season for me is this (and please bear with me because I am generally not a visual thinker so this is pretty much completely out of my element):

Picture the spectrum of colors (we're talking the biggest box of Crayolas here, not just ROYGBIV).

Now imagine each color is an emotion.

For most seasons of my life, I could generally categorize my experience by picking out a few colors that are characteristic of that time. Of course, there is always a mix of some sort, but usually there are a few bold strokes of color that stick out.

The bizarre thing about this particular time--of my life, mind you, so please don't hear this as a universal statement because I am the first to admit I am far from Completely Normal...and Adam, if you are still reading, this is where you are free to jump in and DISAGREE! Ahem.--as I was saying, the bizarre thing about this season of my life is that it's so chalk-full of emotions that it is hard to begin to even separate them.

Instead, it just seems like one big multicolored blur.

And not just a stream of colors, but colors on steroids. Colors so plumped up with vibrancy and dripping with saturation that I am swimming in what can only be describe as a kaleidoscope of emotion--

Cornflower Blue wistfulness and Celery Green newness and Blushing Pink excitement and Brick Red frustration and Magenta heartbeats and Burnt Orange pain and Mac 'n' Cheese playfulness and plain Gray weariness and Seafoam dreams and Eggplant anxiety and Cocoa hope...

And they're squeeeeeeezed together and swirled around and smooshed into this very tiny speck of time that leaves me quite breathless, really.

And at the end of the day, I sink into the couch and wiggle my slippered toes and grab the hand I need to survive--the one that keeps me going, the one that pushes me along, the one that reaches out for me, too, because man-oh-man, we need each other in such a rich time of life.

And it's hard. And it's wonderful. And it's unlike anything we've ever experienced before.

And wow, is it worth it.

11.18.2009

Roots.

From Thomas Merton's Contemplative Prayer (emphasis mine):

"Very often the inertia and repugnance which characterize the so-called "spiritual life" of many Christians could perhaps be cured by a simple respect for the concrete realities of every-day life, for nature, for the body, for one's work, one's friends, one's surroundings, etc.

"A false supernaturalism which imagines that "the supernatural" is a kind of realm of abstract essences (as Plato imagined) that is totally apart from and opposed to the concrete world of nature offers no real support to a genuine life of meditation and prayer. Meditation has no point unless it is firmly rooted in life."



*Photo credit here

11.13.2009

Story.

Due to a raving review from one of our favorite people, Adam and I are currently swept up by this book--you know, the latest work from this guy who gained notoriety from this book and who recently started this project...which just makes me like him even more.

Anyway, I've been looking forward to this book for awhile now and while the beginning was slow-going, it has quickly gained momentum. So much so that each chapter's end is followed by a unanimous "How about just one more?"

And I can't really put my finger on it quite yet but there is something simply gripping about Miller's idea of story--that we are all living our own stories and that in so many words, most of us would do well to live a better story.

What does that mean exactly? Well, I'm not sure yet, but I do know that there are times in my life when it is just so easy to play the character of the victim or the worrywart frozen by fear or maybe even the cynical damsel in distress (is that even a character? Bridget Jones-esque perhaps?)...but really, it is just me allowing myself to get swept up into playing a role that, to tell the truth, I don't even want to be playing. And what's more, it's exhausting. And what's even more, it is keeping me from the story I was created for in the first place. Which is to say it's keeping me from my part of the larger Story that I believe we are all telling. Together.

And I guess that's really all I have to say about that, and maybe it doesn't seem very noteworthy at all to anyone else, but for me, today, I cannot help but think that maybe me reading this book is a bit of much-needed rising action for my very own character arc.

And that maybe ultimately, I've been selling my own story short.

11.11.2009

Nostalgia.

I skip down the hall
Full of twelve-year-old innocence--
Floorboards creaking,
Laughter echoing,
Curiosity peaking.
I enter the room--my own room!--
And as I breathe in freshly-painted promise,
I think, So, this is home.

***
I spin--a giggling seventeen--
In my pink, poofy prom dress,
Spilling glitter and posing for silly photos
To post on newly-blue walls.
And when Dad peeks in with a quiet
"You look really pretty, there, kiddo"
I blush and I am home.

***
I drop my bags and, sighing,
Collapse in a twenty-four-year-old heap
Atop my old, squeaky bed.
I peer quizzically at four familiar walls--
Where smudged dolls smile
And strange, new trinkets shine.
Where framed photos fade
Next to my softly swaying wedding dress.

And it's mine.
And it's not.
And it's familiar.
And it's not.
And it's always-yet-no-longer home.

11.09.2009

On repeat:

In my car:

This song by this guy...but since I can't post a video, I offer you a close second:



In my mouth:



On my mind:


p.s. Read what my friend Luke has to say about growing up, forts and Peter Pan here.

p.s.s. Read about inspiring visionaries here.

11.05.2009

Dynamic duo.

So, I know Adam is going to kill me but I CANNOT HELP MYSELF!

We have known each other for four years and finally have some pictures to show for it--that don't consist of lazy eyes or silly faces! Oh happy day!

I've posted a few here. You can find more at our fabulous friend Megan Kapple's blog here. She teamed up with our OTHER fabulous friend Donna to snap some shots on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Seriously...could we have better (or more talented) friends? I think not. Enjoy!

And THANKS FRIENDS! We are so blessed.



11.04.2009

Public service announcement:

When a girl wants some chocolate--
even if it's 11 a.m...
even if she's been slacking in the gym department...
even if she's getting married in the next few months and thus apparently should be trying to drop a size or two (thanks, America)...

JUST LET HER EAT SOME FREAKING CHOCOLATE.

(Ahem.)

Carry on.

11.03.2009

Lukewarm.

"Our generation, the 18-to-34 set, tend to share a common characteristic. We are remarkably self-satisfied. We are socially aware, politically sensitive and culturally savvy, and we like this about ourselves. The question it raises, however, is if all our sensitivity, savviness and awareness has led anywhere. Certainly, social justice campaigns abound within our generation. One would be loathe to be identified within the subculture without a keen passion for grassroots, countercultural movements. However, where have these movements led? Is ours a generation that is quietly changing the world, or is social conscience just one more accoutrement of fashion for us? An accessory we wear with our Chuck Taylors and horn-rimmed glasses? It seems we’re out not just to change the world, but to impress. The question is, who exactly are we trying to impress?

...We seem so intent upon creating an impressive display of cultural and political awareness that the culture and politics we tout become secondary to the style in which we tout them. When our love of music becomes a race to beat each other with knowledge of obscure bands, we’ve lost our love of music. When our political engagement boils down to who has the best screen-printed swag, we’re not engaging politics. When our passion for social justice isn’t coupled with actual knowledge of the issues we’re fighting for, it’s just posturing. Once again, who are we trying to impress?"

-Adam Smith, from here, emphasis--and not a small amount of guilt--mine

10.28.2009

Perspective.

On a day when my eye is twitching,
my to-do list is exploding,
my sanity is fleeting
and my patience is wearing thin--


10.22.2009

Economical...hope?

I am far from what I would consider a financial guru.

Sure, I took a few economics courses in college. And yeah, I skimmed that one pop-culture econ book a few years back.

But my budget page is currently a dicey Excel spreadsheet (though soon to change--thanks, b-f-f!). And as a certain person has discovered, I may get the bills paid on time, but I'm not exactly fiscally informed per se.

And so, while I am quite aware that there has been a global economic crisis as of late--and that as a result, the word financial immediately conjures up grim, dismal, worry, and zero--I would be the last to know how the Dow looks today or the latest bailout proposal in Congress.

However.

I just watched a refreshing TED talk that responds this crisis in a whole new way and asserts that maybe such doom and gloom is not the end of the story.

According to the speaker, post-crisis consumerism has been full of exciting and positive trends that can offer us hope in this time of great anxiety.

What on earth can be good about anything financial today? Take a look at his four basic observations regarding post-crisis consumerism:




He explains these rules in-depth but a few nuggets I found particularly inspiring:
  • 68% of Americans now have a library card
  • People now pay with debit (money you have) more than credit (money you don't have)=living within their means
  • Conservative personal spending is considered trendy; luxurious spending, distasteful
  • DIY projects and products are both on the rise as well as the reuse of existing resources
  • People are now concerned with sustainable living
  • The rise in expectation for fiscal transparency and corporate ethics and accountability
  • Cooperative consumerism abounds i.e. finding ways to connect one's pocketbook to one's community (he cites examples of communities publicly publishing each person's use of energy and how the use has now dropped dramatically)
  • The rise in support for local products and services
Sure, times are hard and undoubtedly people have been faced with really difficult circumstances as of late that cannot be ignored.

But if it has led us to embrace such spending philosophies, well, then I guess there is some silver lining, after all.

Learn more by watching the talk in its entirety here.

10.14.2009

Re: The American media

Dear struggling Sirs and Madams:

I know you are choking under the pressure of this Information Age and that many of your counterparts are dying off in droves. You are weary. Burdened. Scared.

And I realize that you are in a tough spot. You must prove yourselves worthy or suffer obliteration. And as each day ticks by, you are surely realizing that no one is really above this media crisis and that sure, it started with small town, no-name newspaper martyrs but now, Big Media Giant(s), even you are at risk.

I get it. You are just trying to stay afloat. Gain a foothold. Keep from drowning. Survive.

So, you are inundating us with information. And big news splashes. And "we've-got-it-firsts." And it is oh-so-easy to get sucked into your pomp and circumstance.

But the thing is--and I really don't mean any disrespect here--but mostly, you aren't really saying anything anymore.

You just distract me with Jon and Kate. Or David Letterman. Or what kind of beer Obama drank with that professor who was arrested when entering his own home.

And I guess I'm supposed to walk away thinking Wow, I am so informed.
And you know what? Sometimes I do.

But the thing is, I really want to engage. To connect. To feel someone else's reality instead of lackadaisically skimming headlines and largely skipping over what really matters.

Because I do that, too, you know. In a strange twist of irony, I tend to ignore the blurbs of truth you print (Afghanistan...skip...Iran...skip...North Korea...skip, skip) because I guess by now I'm just growing a bit weary and burdened and afraid myself.

Weary of too many messages hitting me over the head all the time all clamoring for my attention.

Burdened with the task of weeding through the muck for something worth knowing. Then wondering if even it too is a cover-up or a sham or a media plant in order to distract me from some other larger truth.

Afraid that soon I'll give up in defeat and settle for happy naivete--because who wants to be one of those depressed cynics? Not this girl.

Now, hear me when I say that I take some responsibility for this situation. I recognize there will always be some excuse that makes it easier to just close my ears and drift along in my little comfortable bubble. And that it really is up to me to make the commitment to know the world around me. And further, that I perpetuate your existence by consuming your hype.

However,
I also studied journalism. And I would at least like to believe that you--yes, even you--at one time also believed in the power of the written word. And the ability that you have to really change the world.

And I guess I would also just like to remind you that at one time, you existed as the public watch dog. That annoying, nagging, necessary, voice for the people.

Because we need you. We need a source we can trust to blow the whistle, to ask the tough questions, to make people wiggle in their chair or globally celebrate justice or maybe even move us to tears.

And not to sell more papers or generate more ad revenue or up your number of online subscribers.

But simply to bring the world to our doorstep.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, we are now blowing the whistle on you.

Please listen.

Sincerely,

A very dissatisfied--yet hopeful--consumer

10.13.2009

Check us out:


It's fun fact time at work--can you guess which one is mine?



...and can I tell you how great it is to work in a library where they think my dorky ideas are cool?



p.s. Because I can tend to be a tad Type A about things...I feel the need to apologize for my images not cooperating when I upload which causes funky things to happen to image alignment, etc. I can feel your judging cyberspace stares from HERE PEOPLE! (Ahem.) Anyway, please forgive me.

10.09.2009

Finally.

In case you missed it, (in which case, are.you.even.HUMAN?!) Jim and Pam got hitched! It's been five long years, and I will be the first to say that last night did not disappoint.

The pierce-your-heart promo (I'd add a clip from the night but NBC has it under lock and key):



The wedding idea that we are so stealing (says Adam, obviously):




The largest cupcake in the world (totally unrelated but O.M.G! Can you imagine taking a bite out of a foot-long sprinkle?!):


credit: here

Happy weekend, friends.

10.06.2009

In response to the dreaded Swine:







...and hey, I just liked the color swatch thing this week, okay? Don't judge me.

9.29.2009

Unsettled.

I'm twirling in white dresses,
Dreaming of cakes and candles and pretty things
then --poof!--

It's lunchtime and it's real time and
that man is wearing handcuffs outside my office window.

I watch him.
He pops his gum, shrugs, shuffles slowly out...
I press my lips together, knuckles white, and shudder.

Quietly, in the furthest corner of my mind,
I cry quickly, desperately, pleadingly
"We are not the same!"

But what I cannot shake,
Is that still, small whisper saying
Mister, you and I, we are not so very different.

9.26.2009

The Story of Us:


Happy one year...

(and my apologies to those of you who are now throwing up in your mouths a little bit)...

T-g-i-WEEKEND!

9.16.2009

Heartbreak.

"Miss," he said one early Tuesday morning.

"...Excuse me, miss, can I ask you a question?"

I hesitated, half-awake and in no mood for games.

"Um, sure," I replied as I slowly moved toward him, nervously twisting my ring.

"I just kinda want your opinion," he continued.

"Oh. Well...okay." I folded my arms self-consciously.

"It's like this, see," he said. "I...uhhh...well, I've been thinking lately...about going to school?"

"That's awesome!" I replied, relieved, arms falling by my side.

"Yeah, I mean, it's just, well, I gotta pay the bills, you know? So, I just can't go full-time. And I--well, I just don't know how to do that. How to make it work. Seems like college just isn't made for regular people these days," he said.

"Yeah, it is tough for sure," I said sympathetically, leaning in.

"Yeah. And, well, lately, I mean, I've thought a lot about pharmacy..."

He spoke quickly now, apologetically, eyes darting.

"...how I'd like to do that, I think, and I don't know...I mean, I think maybe I could be good at it?"

"Oh yeah? Cool!" I smiled.

"Yeah. And I guess I was just wondering--"

His eyes pierced mine.

"--do you think I am shooting too high?"

9.11.2009

Today's gonna be a good day.

Okay, so I know I've been a blogging FOOL lately, but something my friend Steph said got me curious...

How would you describe our generation?

(Perhaps this question is too narcissistic? Or maybe perfectly postmodern enough to be trendy and appealing? ...I'm not even sure what that means.)

Annnnnyway, I really would love to know what you think.

Moving on...don't know how you feel about these people or this person-slash-corporation-unto-herself or even these in general, buuuut can we talk about the crazy season kick-off yesterday? And how freaking JEALOUS I am?! And obviously how freaking jealous this guy must be?!

SO. JEALOUS.

Luckily, this little thing called the In-ter-net has made living vicariously oh-so-much-easier, so please enjoy:



Finally, if you need me this weekend, you can find me here or here as I meet with this guy along with this guy about this thing...then naturally, attending one of these as one of these rocking this decade.

So, like, totally enjoy your weekend everyone.

9.10.2009

Everything is terrible.

Just kidding. Everything is not terrible. That would be far too dramatic. And if there is one thing I am not, it is...

Well, anyway, that isn't the point.

The point is, they are now making DARK CHOCOLATE REESE'S MINIATURES, so obviously there is reason to rejoice.

However, some pretty terrible things to note:

First, kind-of-hilariously-terrible-if-you-ignore-the-blatant-politically-incorrect-references-about-which-I-do-not-condone:

HERE'S HOW! from Everything Is Terrible on Vimeo.


Also, the not-so-hilarious-but-most-certainly-terrible-fact that I come back from being sick for two days and get an email that simply reads:

Subject: Re: Bat in library
I just caught the bat and it lived.

Which followed the first email that read:

Subject: Bat in library
There was a bat flying around the library last night. I called Facilities to come catch it. By the time they came we had lost track of the bat. They searched for awhile but could not find it any where. We did prop the door open to the atrium so it might have flown out there but we are unsure. Just beware it still might be flying around!

Okay...I admit that I go way overboard on Office references...BUT STILL.

A bat?! In my OFFICE?! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!

But Sara, some of you are surely thinking, isn't it better the bat was caught when you were gone?

Well sure, dear friends, but let me remind you that regardless of its current whereabouts, this screeching, squeaking, furry, flitty, devil of an animal was, at some point, IN.THIS.VERY.BUILDING.WITH.MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! (cue dramatic shudder)

As I opened in the wee hours of the morning... As I tiptoed around desolate corners of the library... As the lights flickered, as I yawned, as I brewed the first cup of coffee...

THAT LIVING, BREATHING THING WAS HERE.

Which, in my humble BAT-HATING opinion, is cause for a TOTAL FREAKOUT in my book. Ace-style:




And finally, a real-life-terrible-report that stems from a phone call I had with the chirpy representative from my credit card of five years, First Financial:

Who told me that yes, they sure were going to raise my rates.

Even though I had not a SPOT on my record and have been a model card-holder who pays off her entire balance on time, every time.

For five years.

And why yes, it is within my right to revoke this change but by doing so, I am simultaneously choosing to close my account as soon as my card expires.

And that it is my choice (sweetly said), but these days, credit cards sure can be hard to come by and she sure would hate to see my credit score suffer, but wait one moment, and she'll see if there's anything else she can do for me...

(pause)

...No, sorry. That is really all she can do. The choice is mine.

Oh, and as always,
thankyouforcalling/wesurevalueyourbusiness/andhaveagreatday/comeagain!

And I know it isn't your fault--that you are the middle (wo)man and just doing your job and I really should have been nicer to you...but it's just I really need to tell Uncle Sam that things are a bit too ridiculous these days. And it's wearing me out.

But wouldn't you know it? His line is always busy.

9.09.2009

Meet Steph.

Because I miss my journalism days and the stories just a few questions can uncover...
Because I know really freaking cool people and want you to know them, too...
And because I think we can all learn from each other, if we will only take the time...

Meet my B-F-F, Steph.

Faves:
Beverage: adult beverage = red wine. Of almost any variety. Happy hour fave = diet coke easy ice with a splash of vanilla.

Time of day: I am, obnoxiously, a MAJOR morning person. I have been glared at many a time at the breakfast table due to the extent of my bright eyes..and bushy tail? Or whatever.

Thing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon: Hmmmm….sit in the park on a blanket, underneath whatever tree is my favorite in that particular park…preferably with a friend, preferably with a book that may or may not get read. I also love our big family style community dinners my friends and I have adopted on most Sunday evenings.

You recently graduated (cue the Wabash!) and moved to Oklahoma for more school and to pursue a career in dietetics. What is the number one thing you wish the average American would change about their health habits?
Ooooo good one! I think this answer changes depending on what’s on my mind most at the time. However, my underlying and most constant request is that people just keep challenging themselves. This is true for most any arena in our lives whether it be spiritually, intellectually, etc. My hope is that this will also be true physically and nutritionally. Step back, evaluate what habits you may have fallen into, and pick one to improve upon. Too much saturated/trans/overall fat? Too little activity? Too many sweets? Not enough water? By all means…practice moderation and allow yourself some freedoms. But continue to push yourself and find new areas you can improve upon your health.

How annoying is it to have everyone ask you about healthy living all the time?
Depends. Am I shoving a chocolate brownie with ice cream into my mouth??? Then YES. Consider me annoyed. Juuuust kidding. I mean, I obviously love the topic. And it’s also a not-so-secret way for me to help people….which I also love. So, if someone is asking because they are genuinely interested, concerned, etc…then I would love to have a conversation. If you are just trying to get me worked up for the sake of it? Then you’re rude.

Let’s talk life changes. Moving is a big one. So is graduating. What has this season of life taught you? How have you gotten through the hard times? What’s been the best surprise?
Without a doubt, this has been a season of change. My move was really in two parts, with the first one being more “challenging” than then second. Graduation feels like forever ago (I mean, I guess it has been over a year) and the never-ending season of transition has actually seemed to end. I am officially “settling in” and enjoying things at a seemingly slower pace than I have the previous 5 years.

So what have I been taught? That the Lord is my constant companion. That he knows me more than anyone, and that I actually know myself more than I thought. What has gotten me through the “hard times” is mostly this simple realization. When there is no one physically available to laugh/vent/reflect with, my God is always available. No “I’ll call you right backs” or “let’s set up a phone date” –which is super important and necessary in my (newly) long distance friendships. And so, I think the best surprise is that I really CAN be alone! I have doubted this many a time, and so have those closest to me. I love people. I love companionship. I don’t like going too long without another face/voice/opinion. So, I believe the best surprise has been that I really enjoy my own company...and I’ve grown much more comfortable with a constant conversation with my Heavenly Father.

What gets you most fired up right now? (Frustrated/passionate/however you want to read it)
Thank you for putting “right now”…because DUH! That freaking changes every minute! I think it’s amazing actually, the way you react to things…it’s like you have no idea how you feel about something until it happens. I surprise myself because something will strike a chord and there I go!! And then, I look back..and I’m like…wait. Hold on. Was that me? What just happened?

So I guess...what gets me fired up is when I have firsthand experience to some form of oppression. Whether is some inappropriate comment about someone’s weight (usually someone the commenter doesn’t even know) or when people assume someone is too weak (girls are tough too!) or that someone won’t understand (just try!) and when someone is spread super thin...but is continually asked to do “favors.”

Okay that and Toaster Strudel commercials...

Quick! Name a funny memory that always makes you laugh out loud (or LOL, if you will).
Ah! So many! The time Adam tried to scare me and in turn made BC splash orange juice all over his face. Or when you (Sara) and I flew through a field in your car screaming “CYRUS!!” to get to see Tom Moore in character before it was too late. Laughing is something I do quite often, so really this question should be asked about each friend...and I can guarantee I have a laugh out loud memory with every one of my friends. Seriously. Every one of them!

You come from a really close-knit family (that is pretty much my fave). What is one family tradition you want to continue with your own family in the future?
Lake Okoboji! Our family vacation spot since I was two.

Also, my parents always involved my sisters and I in different service projects in the community. It may have looked a little different at different times in our lives...but whether it was delivering meals on wheels after church, or putting together care packages to donate to the homeless…or even serving a holiday meal at a food shelter, they wanted us to become comfortable with serving others, and to understand the importance of giving. Even though it made me nervous to walk up to a stranger’s door to give them a meal (I mean…I was never alone, obviously) I think it made me way more comfortable serving in my adult life.

How would you describe our generation?
I say....we are “cravers.” I mean, I know we love the reference of “The Hero Generation,” and I’m not refuting it…but I’m not sure that I see it consistently among my entire generation. What I do see are people craving more. So whether is the more noble cravings like justice, peace, environmental restoration, etc…..OR perhaps less noble like cravings of success, glamour, pleasure…we’re just not satisfied. So perhaps there can be some hero come out of that...

How would you describe our trip to see the beautiful Sarita get HITCHED?
Umm..WHIRLWIND. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I mourned a little tiny tiny bit…because ya know. I love her. But there was WAY more of me that was completely delighted and amazed. Our dear Sarah has always been a wealth of wisdom and even in those brief moments alone with her, she still taught me so much! I also walked away with a little more knowledge and experience of the world and Central American culture. Chicken bus anyone!?!?

What is your life plan? Just kidding. Where do you see yourself in five years? Kidding again. How are you creating a legacy in your daily life? Just kidding…wait…is that an eye twitch? Haha. Okay but really—final words?
Ahhh! Holy crap! Well two weeks ago this question may have induced dry heaving. (Too much?) But today I am in a place of comfort with these bigger life questions. What’s the difference? Well...I’m officially a Registered Dietitian. No more moments of panic while sitting in a coffee shop, or waking up in the middle of the night because the voice of fear has jarred me awake (I can get a little intense). I also now have a job (at a bariatric clinic in OKC)....so where in five years? Not real sure. But I do know that I will have a credential and some experience. So whether it’s still here in this city, or some more movement has occurred...I now know I have some tangible things under my belt that can allow me to do what I love.

Final words: I love you BFF!!

Thanks, Steph! You are a rockstar. I can't wait to see what is in store for you in Oklahoma. Now, if you'll excuse me, my Toaster Strudel is ready...

9.04.2009

Oh, give thanks.

I woke up this morning and as I shook the cobwebs from my mind, a dull ache set in between my temples.

I stumbled to the bathroom and saw puffy eyes peering back at me as I glanced in my mirror.

I got dressed in a fog, out the door in a haze and despite the cup of liquid crack coffee coursing through my veins, I still felt as though my brain was swaddled in cotton.

Life, as of late, has been busy.

My laundry is oozing out of my closet. My cupboard shelves are bare (sans a tub of frosting, a few packets of oatmeal and a sleeve of Thin Mints DO NOT JUDGE ME). An empty can of Diet Dr. Pepper rattles in my car console. And my office desk is covered in scribbled Post-Its.

And yet, through my bleariness and weariness and oh-my-gosh-I-need-a-weekend-immediately state, I am overcome with thankfulness--

For where I've been. For new beginnings. For the in-between right now...

For a brother who is way cooler than me (except for that time he scribbled all over my Freddie Prinze, Jr. poster but WHATEVER, I AM SO OVER IT). For a mom who would tear up if she knew how much she means to me. For a daddy that will soon get to walk me down the aisle...

For the ring on my finger. For the promise that it holds. For the chance to spend my life with my best friend...

For those who walk with me. Laugh with me. For those that remember me way back when...

For the voices that tell me to keep going, yes, it's worth it and it's okay to cry...

For a big world. For a bigger God. For a hope that though sometimes I am cut down, I will sprout again.

9.03.2009

Approved for the general viewing audience:

1. A creative opportunity to use your talents for the common good (and a rare call to do so without any recognition):



2. An economic opportunity to maximize your dollar and support KC:

3. An entertainment opportunity to tickle your romantic/comedic side:

4. A chuckling opportunity from a witty little jab at iphone-mania:

8.28.2009

Things I cannot, in good conscience, keep to myself:

1. Sure, anyone who's anyone knows about Jim and Pam but John Krasinski and Emily Blunt?! WHAT?!

2. Speaking of couples, read this to get a fresh perspective on relationships and the Christian community (and it's hurtful hyper-focus swirling around The Much Coveted Couple-dom). Preach it, sister.

3. I'm not big into the political game but I do appreciate clear communication and the free exchange of ideas (which let's be honest, these days that sure is hard to find). So, in the spirit of promoting informed citizens, check this out to learn more about the health care debate. (This isn't a secret ploy to convince you one way or another...promise!)

4. And now that everyone's hair is standing on edge, let me dive even further into dangerous waters and share this with you. I cannot explain how much this disturbs me. To the core. And I tried to wrap my brain around how culturally, this works in China, etc. etc. (found within the linked article) but all it did was make my heart hurt more.

5. Okay, this I may have to keep to myself...but only because they are SO GOOD! Cheers everyone. Enjoy your weekend. And hey, if you've read anything worth sharing, I would love to know about it...

8.20.2009

Come to the table.

...so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

-Romans 12:5

*************************************************************************************

As I child, I was fascinated with the idea of humanity's intrinsic interconnectedness. That we were all one big family. That we were (despite the politically incorrect racial descriptions) all precious in His sight.

I couldn't quite wrap my mind around this notion, but I distinctly remember daydreaming about inviting everyone to one big, global dinner party--a family reunion, of sorts, I suppose--and how incredibly huge and awesome it would be.

You know, like Chuck E Cheese. But better.

*****

When I entered middle school, a great source of contention arose from my mother's favorite phrase, "family time."

My mom was a firm believer in us spending time together as a family.

So, mealtimes at the Shellenberger abode were almost always spent gathered around the kitchen, TV off and all perched on twirly barstools with the intention of having family time.

"But Mo-om!" my brother and I would whine. "We wanted to watch Home Impro-o-oovement!"

And she would respond through clenched teeth, "We are connecting as a family over dinner. Now tell. Me. About. Your. Day!"

As you can imagine, wiggling out of family dinner was no small feat.

Even if all your friends were going out to dinner. Followed by ice cream. Followed by the third theater viewing of Titanic and if you cared about me at all, you would understand why this is life.or.death. For the love of all things Leo, Mom, pleeeeeeeease!

To which my mom would sigh, "Honey, it is important that we share life together. Because we are a family. And that's what families do."

<insert pre-teen eye roll here>

*****

This growing up thing is strange sometimes.

Like how suddenly--poof!--you are expected to have it all together. Perfectly. In every aspect of life. Immediately.

And--what's that? You don't?

Oh...well...tsk, tsk. Better get to it--

Do this. Control that. Buy this. Eat that. Manage this. Balance that. Juggle this. Add in that. Don't forget this--

Wait, are you...wobbling? Crumbling? Having a hard time?

Oh, dear me, that will not do!

Perfection. Always. And make it look easy.

And if you must, if you really must, struggle--

Do it alone. Do it quietly. Do it with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

And suddenly, the evening meal becomes solitary TV dinners.

Or drive-thrus.

Or maybe not even eaten at all.

But don't you see, that by living with such pretense, we are not only crippling ourselves, we are crippling the entire Body?

That we are all a mess, really, and that if we'd just open our eyes and dare to ask a real question and actually wait for a real answer, we would know?

And maybe if we start by sharing our own challenges and our own imperfections that we'd receive grace and hope and help and healing...and that then we may be able to actually do the same for someone else?

And that, sure, it will be messy. And uncomfortable. And terribly unsophisticated but that we are a family?

And that maybe it just starts by one simple step--

Come to the table.
Come as you are.
Crawl, shuffle, scoot, claw, drag yourself to the table.

For it is there we will find rest. Together.

8.18.2009

In my dreams:

The tune:

EELS "In My Dreams" from The MySpace Transmissions


The cast:



The scene:



...turns out, dreams do come true.

8.11.2009

And now, a video smorgasbord:

So, I've been visiting all these super-cool fancy, shmancy blogs with fun designs and witty words and multimedia TIMES A MIL...and I. am. jealous.

However, instead of cooking up something fabulous for you to chew on or sparking an intense debate or creating something really beautiful, I offer this humble hodge podge of videos. On my little bit of cyberspace. That is starting to smell a bit musty, I believe.

But, hey, it's just so much easier to make excuses than to actually DO something about it (...am I right or am I right?).

Enjoy!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For a movie I have yet to see but OMG I CANNOT WAIT:



For s & gs (and for the record, the ones I know are totally fabulous and break this mold...but still):



For fear that we may be swallowed up in our own trials and forget:

8.05.2009

Awaken.

There's a moment each morning--
When the world is fuzzy
While my pretenses sleep
And I blinking waver
Between Dream and Reality.

In this pocket of stillness, I sit--
Tousled, rumpled and wholly
Un-put-together
And in this fleeting space
I am able to simply be.

Yet as I reach out to greet
My unapologetic Freedom,
Poof!
It slips through my fingers--
Wistfulness in its wake.

7.22.2009

Vanity.

I have a bad habit of wearing shoes that pinch and rub and leave angry red welts scattered across my tender feet.

When I was younger, as my blistered toes screamed in agony, my mother would scold, "Sara! You can't keep treating your poor feet this way! You won't get a second pair!"

And my fashion-unconscious father would just shake his head.

It's puzzling, really, that a girl who spent most of college in flip-flops and prefers being barefoot above all will periodically force her toes into sharply pointed heels or shiny, strappy wedges or sleek, buckled flats for the sheer fact that they make me feel pretty.

*****

Lately, suddenly, and quite without precedent I assure you, I have been hit with a need to simplify and rearrange and organize, organize, organize!

Unable to sleep last Saturday morning, I began frantically digging through dresser drawers--discarding, re-folding, paper-clipping and labeling my way through stacks of life's clutter.

Uncharacteristically, I told myself--quite sternly--to forgo all inner nostalgic predisposition and systematically toss various mementos that at least at one time, I would have kept for no better reason than to remember.

It was imperative, somehow, that everything have a place. A purpose. A useful reason for being.

But even still, on occasion, I would linger on a particular item--a silly note, a random birthday card, a journal from three years ago--and I would stop and think despite all my rationale, I can't let go of everything...

*****

And now I sit, with a mounting to-do list and a wandering mind, and as I restlessly tap my foot, I catch a glimpse of my reflection.

Poised on the edge of my seat, eyes wide, fingers tapping...

Waiting.

And with a shrug, I force a smile and tell myself, You, my dear, are too dramatic.