It’s 8:46pm

Time for Corrie to post a blog.

Her room, chaos before her as fingers type, backspace, type.

A stuffed purple rabbit stares at her from the bookshelf.

He leans to the side against a crumpled t-shirt,

his ears flopping forward like the rim of a baseball cap.

She wonders,

again,

why she does this to herself.

Procrastinates

waits too long for the absolutely perfect idea to hit.

It’s just a dry spell, she tells herself.

Of course there will be weeks, if not months, when ideas don’t flow,

when the blank screen is an empty cavern of desolate thought,

when there is no epiphany, no annoyance, no excess, no heartache

to share.

A pile of dirty laundry sits in the corner,

ever present work to be done but never completed,

always slumbering and growing.

Naturally there will be rough patches. 

Naturally there will be flat tires and pit stops.

Her life feels stagnate.

The same things over and over and over.

Tile floor, blue carpet, disheveled blankets on an unmade mattress.

Work, drive, home, bed, wake up, repeat.

The ticka-tack of the keyboard doesn’t stop

even though she doesn’t have anything important to say.

The pile of empty notebooks agrees,

spiral spines casting prison bars over each other.

Writing in verse is a trick she learned in college to get her thoughts flowing.

One thought

after another

in perfect

bite-sized lines.

Something on the dresser shifts,

gravity finally doing its part, pulling and prodding

until the pile of folded shirts finally gives in

and falls to the floor.

Corrie sighs and does not retrieve them.

The sounds of the house quiet

as everyone but the writer prepares for rest,

the tap of the keyboard

speaking with the night.

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Shout Out to The Average Person

Shout Out to The Average Person

I was thinking about how I actually managed to pick up knitting again a couple weeks ago and how I’ve done a little painting recently and I’ve been thinking about starting some other crafts as well, maybe some earrings or something. This thought led me to think about how, on average, when I tell someone that I knit or I show them a simple painting or craft I’ve completed, they’re really impressed.

To be clear, I AM NOT VERY GOOD at any one craft. I’m more of a jack of all some trades and master of none maybe like one. My knitting isn’t anything to write home about. I make lots of mistakes. (Maybe the one thing I’ve mastered is how to cover up mistakes in crafts.)

I feel like I can APPEAR good at things because I know my limits and actually don’t push myself too hard past them. For example, when I paint, I don’t even TRY realistic subjects because I know I can’t pull it off. (I also have little to paint realistically) I end up painting very simple things that are more minimalist. It’s easy. Even for someone who doesn’t know a lot about painting, it would be easy.

I’m perfectly okay with that too. I don’t care if I’m ever the greatest at any one thing. Usually when I’m knitting, painting, or crafting I’m making a thing for someone I care about and it’s more important to me that the thing is nice for them. I’m not comparing myself to anyone for my hobbies. It’s just me and my past work. I’m better than I was before and that’s all that matters to me.

My cousin got me into knitting and even though I don’t think she’s been doing it recently, she’s still better than me. She knows more stitches and she’s had more practice than me. I don’t care. If I made her something, she would probably love it even if, of all people, she has the greatest ability to critique my work. Even if she saw all the flaws, she wouldn’t care about them (or at least I hope not!) because I made it with love.

It’s okay to be average or even below average at something. We can’t all be A-list actors or Renaissance Era painters. Most of us will never be that great. I certainly won’t. Even with my writing I don’t expect to be the next J. K. Rowling or anything. I don’t let that get to me. I know I can do some things better than others but really, when I start comparing myself to everyone else, I’m average.

We’re all our own selves and we all have qualities that we bring to the table in a way that no one else can. You shouldn’t get caught up in comparisons. You’re not a failure because you can’t paint as well as that one girl on etsy who makes custom Pop! Figures. I’m not a failure because I’ll never be as good at dry-walling as my dad is (who did it professionally for years). You can be average against the world. Nothing wrong with that.

But be above average to yourself. Look at your past work, your past self, and make it better. I’ve been learning some new stitch patterns for knitting and I’m experimenting with some splatter painting. I’m still moving forward with my own self. You can better yourself and also not constantly compare yourself to others. Look up to that person who’s really good at a thing you want to be really good at. Learn from them. Strive for better and don’t berate yourself for being not as good as someone else.

We all start getting better somewhere. Start here.

Can We All Just Finish Our Own Sentences

Conversation is supposed to be a back and forth between two or more people. One person finishes their sentence, then another person provides their own input. When they finish up what they’re saying, then the other person responds. There should be a clear break between each person. Just like in a novel how you would have paragraph breaks between bits of dialogue, so too in real life you let the other person take a breath to show the end of their thought.

BUT THAT’S NOT HOW PEOPLE REALLY TALK.

IN REAL LIFE PEOPLE CONSTANTLY INTERRUPT AND RARELY LET YOU FINISH ONE SINGLE THOUGHT.

If I had to write down a real life conversation the way they often feel then it would look like this:

interrupting conversation

The longer it goes, the more convoluted it becomes and the first person never actually gets to finish their story. It’s okay to move from topic to topic and sometimes you don’t get to say every little thing you want to say. BUT the more conversations I have with people, even close friends, the more I notice how much we interrupt each other.

There are two kinds of people in conversations when interrupting starts happening:

  1. The okay-I’ll-shut-up person.

This person will immediately, or nearly immediately stop talking when someone interrupts them. They usually feel uncomfortable when more than one person is trying to talk and will defer to the other. This can be in an effort to not offend the other person or it can be to keep the situation from escalating since you never know how someone will react if you call them out on interruptions.

2. The I-am-the-dominant-conversationalist-here-shut-up-you-peasant person.

This person will keep talking if interrupted. It’s usually subtle because the other person is pretty much ALWAYS the shut-up person. This dominant is often the interrupter too because whatever pops into their head is actually much more important than whatever the shut-up person has to say.

These aren’t hard and fast rules. During any one conversation you can switch back and forth between shut-up and dominant. I’ve been both people and you have probably been both people too. AND BOTH PEOPLE ARE ANNOYING IN THEIR OWN SPECIAL WAYS.

Shut-up people are annoying because they’re like a quiet little mouse in conversation who never gets a word in edge-wise and they’re ALWAYS apologizing for existing. There’s nothing wrong with being quiet or letting someone else lead a conversation but STOP APOLOGIZING WHEN YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG. The dominant-conversationalist interrupted you and that isn’t your fault. You can talk over them. (Which, coincidentally, switches your role if the dominant-conversationalist actually shuts up.)

Dominant-conversationalist people are annoying because, well, I’d say you can figure it out. THEY INTERRUPT. CONSTANTLY.

Do me a favor and the next conversation you have, doesn’t matter who you’re talking to, just pay attention to yourself. LISTEN to the other person. Every time this other person speaks, keep your mouth shut. And then keep keeping your mouth shut. Seriously. Just take a conversation to become aware of what role you seem to play. If something pops into your head and you want to say it in the middle of someone else talking then, here’s a novel idea, DON’T. JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT UNTIL IT’S YOUR TURN.

Remember in grade school when you had to raise your hand to give input and sometimes the teacher wouldn’t notice you and they would just move on through the lesson so your once-fantastic comment is now completely irrelevant and you had to slowly put your hand down, accepting that you would never get to share your wonderfully perfect comment, looking around awkwardly at your classmates who saw the whole embarrassing thing and are now offering wry smiles and sympathetic looks? That’s still the feeling when everyone else in the conversation moves on before you get to share your thoughts.

Honestly, that feels like the reason everyone interrupts each other. Because they’re afraid that they might not get to share something at the right moment if they don’t blurt it out as soon as it pops into their head. You know what, GET OVER IT. This isn’t grade school. I’m talking to adults here (I can’t BELIEVE I have to say this to ADULTS). You’re being rude. You’re telling the person being interrupted that YOUR input is more important than whatever they’re saying. You’re making them feel THE EXACT FEELING THAT YOU YOURSELF ARE TRYING TO AVOID.

I have preferred written communication for a long time and my distaste for those who constantly interrupt has definitely influenced that. See, you can’t interrupt this blog post. You can post comments (which I always appreciate!) but you can’t physically stop me to insert your own feelings/thoughts/comments into mine. Love it. It’s so freeing to be able to talk without anyone to stop my story for no other reason than a thing popped into their head.

Basic manners dictate you allow a person to finish what they’re saying. SO DO IT. BE POLITE. Have basic human decency in everyday conversation. It’s not that hard.

Slime Makes Me Irrationally Angry Sometimes

Slime Makes Me Irrationally Angry Sometimes

Working in retail can be interesting. You often have a semi-early look at the-next-big-product or, at the very least, you get to field calls all day about the-next-big-product that your company DID NOT get to your store before it was the-next-big-product.

Last year the toy to get was a Hatchimal and let me tell you, people were ANGRY when we didn’t have them in stock.

hatchimals-penguin-spin-master-hatchimal
Hatchimal

 

Sorry, seething customer who has been to “literally 800 stores today looking for one” that we also don’t have any. It’s the hottest toy of the season, I’m not sure what you expect a week from Christmas. This year the toy to get is (supposed to be) Fingerlings.

Why couldn’t I have thought about these products? These things are cute but that’s, like, literally it. They make some noise and move a bit but really? THAT’S ALL IT TAKES?

Yes, I’m sure plenty of research and development went into these little finger monkey things but the concept is really simple. In fact, the concept isn’t even new. I remember having fur-real friends when I was little. At least those were fluffy! And those were probably not a new concept then either.

fingerling
Fingerling

I guess what frustrates me is that so many fads and crazy-good-selling products are things that ANYONE could’ve come up with. I could’ve come up with the idea for a little plastic monkey that sits on your finger.

*Immediate chorus: “But you didn’t!”*

There we go. That’s what frustrates me. Everyone wants to be the one to tap into the next big thing and I’m really no different. It’s not that I have this insane desire to become wealthy. I really don’t want to be insanely rich (worldly wealth comes with plenty of its own problems). What I want is to pay off my debt and maybe start a cat rescue in this area. That could be fully covered if I came up with a hot selling item. The money would be fleeting but I could certainly use it while it was there.

Life isn’t fair. Money is frustrating. I don’t have time to develop a stupid big-next-thing to sell. I’ll never have the money to do what I want. Blah blah blah. Complain complain.

There are twelve-year-olds making thousands of dollars selling slime on Etsy. Slime is stupid. Well, stupid easy to make. I get why people want it. It’s cool looking, sensory, and

Related image
Slime

all that. But it’s so… stupid. Like, white glue and borax and some glitter (or whatever you make it with, I didn’t look it up) and there you go: slime. Then, if you’re a little well-known online you can write a stupid book about stupid slime recipes and then sell that book and make even more stupid money.

I’m getting really worked up over this. I’m happy for the people who made it into the market and that many are very successful. I’m just salty because I didn’t think of it.

If you write, you’re always looking out for the-next-big-genre (and hoping that it’s one you like to write). It’s really difficult to predict exactly what will take off next. You can analyze the world and shifts that are happening but it’s not a perfect science. It’s not even science really. I’m sure someone out there has thought up some “fool proof” method for it but I haven’t found them yet.

Part of my frustration with the-next-big-thing (WHY did I hyphenate that? It’s getting annoying) is because every time someone makes it, every time an author hits that perfect publishing time, every time a big seller sells out, I’m reminded that someone else has accomplished so much more than me with not necessarily that much more effort. Pride. It’s coming right down to my pride. I take a hit in my ego and it makes me angry. Stupid, I know.

I am probably not alone in this sentiment. I really really do my best to be honestly happy for those who are succeeding (even if the success is largely accidental). I WANT others to be happy and do to well in life. But prideful me wants to hold back and be super-salty-jealous of their success because it’s not mine.

So while I continue to work retail I’ll continue on my ever evolving struggle to be happy for people who make stupid things that sell really well. I’ll try to look to the future. Maybe I’ll catch a lucky break someday. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll just keep working and writing and living and see where God takes me from there.

I’m Not a Cold Person But I Am

Despite what some of my friends think, I do have emotions. I can feel for someone. I can get invested in a movie or book. I can empathize and sympathize.

But I’m realistic. I understand your feelings, I feel your pain, I know how much it hurts. But I also see that you made a poor choice that put you in that position. Just because I feel your pain doesn’t mean I’m going to stop disagreeing with your decisions.

I’m also pretty straightforward with people. If I have something to say I’ll usually say it. I don’t like to dance around issues or people’s feelings too much. I appreciate those who do the same for me. The truth can be harsh and #sorrynotsorry but that’s just part of life. Either own it or be constantly offended by those who don’t sugarcoat everything.

It’s a near constant duality in my mind that I feel strongly empathetic and also not empathetic at all. If someone is hurting I WILL get teary-eyed knowing their pain. I’ll usually hold back the tears but they’re there, pushing at the corners of my eyes. There is SO MUCH pain in the world and it’s absolutely horrific how much people have been through in this life. I can only imagine the level of trauma and heartache. When I do begin to imagine it, I feel deeply hurt by it. My heart is pained. I hope I’m explaining this well, that feeling of sharing in pain even if you haven’t experienced the same situation. It is definitely not the full extent of the pain the person has experienced. Not even close. But empathy can hurt.

Then at the same time that I’m feeling this deep, intense, pain with the other person I also think (depending on the situation) “You really got yourself into that if we’re being honest.” I don’t say that out loud but it’s a thought. Like, I’m very sorry you’ve ended up a single parent because your last two baby-daddies left you high and dry without child support and your current boyfriend is jobless, not looking to work, and asking you to support him. It’s difficult to maintain three jobs and still get your kids where they need to be each day. It’s exhausting and frustrating and unfair that you are alone now. I know you’re doing absolutely everything you can for your children and trying to keep your head above water is rough.

But how in the world haven’t you learned to stop picking losers as partners? Not only did you choose two deadbeats to have kids with (benefit of the doubt, unplanned pregnancies are a thing) but you’re perpetuating your situation with another deadbeat. You’re not helping yourself out at all. And of course anyone who suggests maybe dropping the dead-weight that is your boyfriend you get offended. You say he’s actually great and it doesn’t cost THAT much to support him even though just last week he bought a new $200 gaming system with YOUR hard earned money.

So I feel for you. I know it’s very difficult, psychologically, to get out of toxic relationships. But good heavens you could try! You could significantly improve your life by making a few different choices. So I feel your pain. I really do. Then I feel your poor choices adding to your negative situation and I don’t feel sorry for you.

Is that possibly the difference? I feel empathetic, feel your pain and personal sadness/anger/frustration but I don’t feel sorry for you.

Google defines sorry as “feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune.” So it does seem to be different than empathy, which is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

With those definitions in mind, I think that many people feel empathy and sympathy together but they can be felt separately too.

My example is an understandable one. But I can be mean about it too. Maybe too mean. People who are crying about a TV character dying I just… Shut up. It was in the script! They’re not even real! That’s a lack of sympathy. I don’t know if that’s a situation that warrants empathy. But seriously, when someone else is feeling a strong emotion I can feel it and empathize but I often don’t sympathize.

I don’t really know how to end this post. I had some realizations while writing so it’s processed in my mind but not to a normal blog post conclusion.

*End

**Seems a good closing statement

***I guess

Snapshot of My Life #3

Well, it’s that time of… year? whatever. It’s about time I wrote another Snapshot of My Life. Certainly keeps me grounded.

My last update feels like a really long time ago and simultaneously like yesterday. I had only just started at the bookstore, wasn’t able to put a lot of money down on my loans, and was feeling pretty stagnant. Well, it’s been about 9 months since then and while I’m not sure I can say a trillion things have changed, there are probably a few things I can come up with.

The bookstore job is going really well! I’m getting more hours and I’ve moved up from Book Seller to Non-Book Lead which is great. More hours means more pay (and more time with my awesome coworkers!) so I’ve been able to put a good amount down on my loans. I feel like I’m making a lot of progress on them. (I’m really grateful to my parents for this. Without staying at home, I’d never have been able to put that kind of money down on my loans.)

I’m resisting trying to make any long term plans until January. That will be my “one year” to be able to see how I’m doing. My original plan was 1-2 years at home then I could see where I am with loans and savings. At that point I should have a more solid idea of what I want to do: Keep after my loans or start hardcore saving for car/moving.

I’ve also started a second job again. It’s very flexible with hours and such which is nice. It won’t be a crazy amount of extra money but I’m hoping for about $80 a week, which will be a nice income boost. I’m not sure where it will go in my budget, possibly savings or Christmas funds.

My new year resolutions are… well… dying. Not DEAD. Quite. Only mostly dead. Which, as we all know, is partly alive. It’s halfway through August. I’m only in the 30s with Psalms and I haven’t really worked on memorizing Romans at all.

I had worked on stories a bit at the start but haven’t recently (in the last couple months). I probably mentioned before I really need to write these resolutions down somewhere I can see them often and maybe that’ll help. I’m sure I’ll get to doing that… eventually.

I think I’m going to adjust my resolutions. It’s getting closer and closer to the end of the year and I don’t think I can get a full novel draft at this point. If I do, that’ll be fabulous. But if not, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. So my new goal is to get 20 pages in that novel draft. I still want to finish all the friend stories (even tho, in all honesty, I can’t even remember the ones I have started!). I may tweak exactly what I’m doing for them but they’re going to exist!

I’ll cut back my memorization goal to six chapters instead of eight even though I really feel crappy about that. I’m not sure how I can want something so badly and still completely and utterly fail at doing it. Like, it takes all of 5 minutes a day to work on memorization and I haven’t touched it in months. How is it possible to desire so much to do something then just not do it? Well, maybe that’s something I’ll never figure out. But I will figure out memorization.

I’m keeping the full resolution to read through Psalms, that’s still pretty reasonable if I keep up with it now.

Minimizing is going okay. I’ve got a big box started and a pile of books I won’t be keeping. I haven’t had as much self control as I’d hoped as far as accumulating more stuff but I won’t be discouraged. I think I’m doing okay with it, honestly. So that’s going well.

I’ve definitely felt less stagnant for a while now. I’ve really started feeling good about the progress on my loans and even though I haven’t been doing a lot of writing, I’m encouraged by what I’ve done. I mean, my life is good. That’s a bit anti-climatic to end on but at least it’s good! I look forward to the next update with you!

I Can Do Something Though

I have run fundraisers before. Mostly in college. Before that, I participated in various fundraisers through middle and high school. I find it pretty fulfilling, honestly. It’s such a good feeling to see money being raised for a good cause, especially when you’re the one working hard to raise it. It’s so satisfying.

Then again, when a fundraiser goes poorly, it’s heartbreaking. You work so hard and somehow your 50+ hours of physical labor, marketing, connecting with individuals, and delegating volunteers has translated into $25 for the charity. It’s incredibly frustrating to see how little you can end up with. It’s not like the charity/organization ever lays blame. They’re usually happy with any amount. But I’m not.

I don’t really set goals unless necessary because I don’t want to be unrealistic. In college we would directly benefit from most of our fundraisers so the goal was usually to just make as much as we could. (My last year, we didn’t have a goal to spend on us, we were raising money for the next group of club members. I think they got a really good start and I hope they used it well.) But internally I have goals.

Like, wouldn’t it be amazing if this fundraiser made $80,000??? What if we broke records with this?? What if we became an inspirational story?? It would be so incredible to raise THAT much money!

So goes the narrative in my head. I can easily jump to the greatest possible scenario as easily as I can crash into the worst. I usually have to mentally hold myself back so I don’t crush ALL my hopes and dreams. I can be very passionate about a fundraiser so I’m very invested in it. If the cause pulls at my heart strings the right way, I jump all in. Failure, even if it’s only what I personally think is a failure, feels personal. It feels like I failed or it feels like I didn’t do enough. Sure, the charity is happy with $25 but I know how expensive charity work is. I know that $25 is not going to go very far.

Those thoughts can really hold me back from even TRYING fundraisers. Obviously there are judgments to be made about fundraising ideas. You have to weed out the bad and cultivate the good until you find something that you’re confident will actually work. There’s always risk involved whether you’re risking your time or money or other’s time/money. So you can’t go crazy and try everything, that’s just not realistic.

There’s an organization that a woman from my church, Terra, actually started and runs in Uganda. She and her team are doing AMAZING work and really need support right now as they’re working on a very big next step. I’ve been wanting to help them somehow basically since hearing about the organization and how passionate Terra is about it. But I kept holding myself back, afraid I was going to fail.

This week, I decided to try organizing a fundraiser again. 91Four is an amazing organization and I’m excited to try this out. I started a tshirt campaign through Bonfire.com because they make it super easy to raise money. Please help me out with this if you can! This is the shirt for those of us who want to help but can’t always sacrifice our time/other resources. I can’t physically go to Uganda to help 91Four but I can do something though. I can sell these tshirts.I Can Buy This T-Shirt for 91Four

The campaign was launched 2 days ago and, as of writing, we have no sales. There’s only so many days to buy and share that I’m very nervous that there’s nothing yet. Of course, my brain wanted to imagine the campaign becoming an overnight sensation and raising $100,000 in 12hrs but, alas, it did not. Obviously that COULD still happen but I’m going to hold myself back from thinking that and I’ll be content if we sell a dozen. At least it wouldn’t be a complete failure.

I’m not telling you to buy a tshirt. I don’t want to abuse my audience. I value you first as a person and second as a reader. Always. I don’t want you to ever feel like I’m pushing you to do something you don’t want to do. So don’t feel bad if you can’t (or even if you just don’t want to) help  with this. I’m not holding it against anyone.

But I will ask you to buy if you are able and to share. Please share this with someone. Even if it’s just one friend or family member. Please share and ask others to share. We can’t raise money if no one knows about it!

Fundraising Page: https://www.bonfire.com/i-can-buy-this-t-shirt-for-91four/