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!

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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/

Context, Context, Context Matters

My dad just banned a TV show from our household. He did it because in the 6 minutes of one episode he saw, a character had an affair. I don’t necessarily disagree with his decision but it got me thinking about how much context matters. Near the end of that episode the main character (MC) rejects the married person because the married person won’t leave their spouse. MC refuses to play that game. Yes, they entered into the affair but upon realizing that it would only ever be an affair, an aside, an afterthought, disingenuous, they left. It was actually a moment of growth for MC that showed how they were moving on and becoming more mature.

MC never should have toyed with the idea or made any initial moves to engage with the person. An affair is reprehensible. That was why my dad felt it was right to ban the whole show. It’s his house, he can ban a TV show if he wants to. I’ll respect it.

There are things, as a Christian, I won’t ever give a chance to take hold in my life. And I will not glorify sinfulness. But there’s something to be said of cautionary tales. The Bible doesn’t shy away from telling us of King David’s affair with Bathsheba. God does not pretend that David is perfect. He shows how destructive and painful sin is. Imagine reading David’s story and shutting the whole book when he first sees her and lusts after her? Or, if you kept going after that,  imagine ending on, “…David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son” (2 Sam 11:27). You’d probably think David got off pretty easy after literally murdering Bathsheba’s husband to be with her after he got her pregnant. You would’ve learned the wrong lesson because you stopped before some very necessary information: the baby dies and God sends a message to David, “the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife” (2 Sam 12:10). David didn’t have a nice happily-ever-after-life but God didn’t forget him either. David was used in great ways but his sin cost him. A lot.

It is important to clearly point out sin, whether in media or sometimes in other people’s lives (gently and without malice for the latter). We shouldn’t ignore it. But we shouldn’t forget there’s context, even to TV shows. I can’t really count the number of episodes of one thing or another where a character is particularly against someone of faith and by the end they haven’t always changed their minds, but they’re more open.

There’s an analogy that gets thrown around a lot: if I made a batch of brownies and stirred just a TINY BIT of dog poop into the batter, you wouldn’t want to eat those brownies at all. So that’s like the things we consume, just because all around a bad thing is good, that doesn’t mean the bad thing stops being bad so just stay away entirely. It’s a good analogy for the most part. But then, there’s a lot of messed up stuff in the Bible. Like… there’s a lot. I would say you wouldn’t want to read some parts to young children. It would probably give them nightmares. So we generally don’t read everything to kids. Just like we don’t let kids watch some TV shows.

Magic is bad. Don’t even watch Harry Potter. But C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia is a great allegory even though it’s FULL of magic. Oh, context. Right. I get the Harry Potter argument. The magic in Narnia isn’t controlled by people, it’s controlled by Aslan (aka Jesus Christ). So the power is not ours, it is God’s. The context of the magic matters. Just like the context of David’s affair matters. Just like the meaning of something can change by the end of the episode, movie, or book.

There are lines we should draw. There are things you don’t let into your life. There are reasons to turn off the show mid-episode. There are reasons to put down a book. Things can go too far. Personally, I’ll call out Game of Thrones. I know plenty of people who watch it. I don’t think it’s okay for a Christian. Too much violence and sex. There are cautionary tales intertwined, sure, but even those, I think, can go way too far. There’s teaching a lesson and then there’s glorifying sin in the process. So there’s my line. I won’t watch it and if I were in charge then I wouldn’t allow it in my home (to be clear, it isn’t allowed now). Like I said, I’ll stand with my dad on the ban. But I don’t agree with his reason.

I’m pretty sure it was my Creative Writing teacher in High School who used to tell us, “Context, context, context!” Or perhaps someone said it later to me (perhaps both are possible?). Anyway, it’s an important thing to remember. You shouldn’t expect to understand the full meaning of a thing without the whole thing. A snippet is not a whole. People misuse the Bible all the time because they ignore context. Draw your lines but know where to draw them.

Millennials: They’re Just Like You (Guest Post by Grace Williams)

Millennials: They’re Just Like You (Guest Post by Grace Williams)

This week is a special guest post by a good friend of mine, Grace Williams! She is a very thoughtful and interesting person and I can guarantee that this post will resonate with a lot of people!

 

By now, we should all understand that attributing similar qualities expressed by some members of the same group to every member of said group is not the best. Stereotyping like this is annoying at its best and violent at its worst. For this post, I’d like to keep things light by staying on the annoying end of the spectrum and keep things topical by talking about negative stereotypes about millennials.

I, like Corrie, currently live with my parents. I, like Corrie, possess loan debt. I, like Corrie, own a smartphone. I, like Corrie, grew up watching Arthur. Corrie and I have a lot of things in common because we are both millennials and a lot of other things in common because we are both citizens of America in 2017. People of many different generations live with their parents, are in debt, and own smartphones, but only a lucky few got to grow up on Arthur, and they weren’t even all millennials! But I get it: “generation” and “generalize” have the same root word so it’s hard not to make generalizations about generations!

Some of the most pervasive generalizations about millennials is that we are lazy, uninformed, and always on that device. I’m not here to argue the virtues of millennials by listing the accomplishments of my brethren or lamenting the present we were born into, but just because a fair amount of millennials are lazy doesn’t mean all are lazy and conversely, just because a fair amount of millennials are making life-changing inventions doesn’t mean we’re all bound to fix world disorder. I just want to express that millennials are no better or worse than any generation that came before or will come after. Like, I don’t mean to talk smack about baby-boomers, but my mom has definitely never heard a word I’ve said to her while she scrolls through Facebook…

There’s two types of people who will harshly criticize millennials: non-millennials and millennials. Criticism from non-millennials (excluding post-millennials) is natural; the new generation is always a flawed version of their older, wiser parents. Criticism from millennials is another beast because it relies on the speaker detaching themself from their group in order to make themself look better. The most simple and frequent complaint that I’ve seen from both sides is that millennials (and post-millennials) are always attached to their device. Sometimes being on your phone can be a bad thing, but sometimes it is a non-issue. It depends on the situation is more about the respectfulness of the phone user than the prevalence of millennials with smartphones.

Here’s a scenario: You, a baby boomer, see me at Applebee’s having dinner with a fellow millennial. Both of us are on our phones. You turn to your child, also a millennial, and say “That’s the problem with your generation: you’re always on your phones and fail to connect to the people around you.” Nevermind the fact that neither me nor my friend cares that the other is on her phone or that we’ve been friends for five years are pretty well connected, but now you’ve just insulted the child with whom you are meant to be connecting! Either your criticism doesn’t apply to them because they are Special or it does and you did in fact mean to insult them. But back to me and my friend…you’ve just disregarded the inner workings of our friendship in order to call out something you deem unacceptable and are now implying that it is a fault of our entire generation (which is quite a few people) when it isn’t even a fault for us! Maybe a fault of baby boomers is that they’re overly critical about people they don’t know?

Now here’s another scenario: It’s the same one and you’ve leveled the same insult except now you are the millennial child (adult, really. All millennials are adults now). Talk about internalized millennialism! Now, there’s definitely other millennials who agree with you about phone usage in the same way that there are people of other generations who shut out the world when they’re on their phones, so what is your point? Simply to assert your superiority over other people your age? If you think it is rude to be on the phone in front of your friends, don’t do it, but don’t apply your rules to other people. Instead, trust that we know our own boundaries. And if we’re surpassing those boundaries and absorbed in our devices during inappropriate times, well, then we’re being disrespectful, but it’s not a brand of disrespect inherent to being a millennial and you’re not better for passing judgment on others during an equally inappropriate time.

This is a mild annoyance of mine but it is a digestible example of how some people are so quick to write off an entire generation of people without taking into account the full picture aka things like the economic reasons that have kept so many millennials at home. The only thing you accomplish when you assert negative stereotypes about millennials is making us uncomfortable. Now that you’ve expressed your disdain for millennials, I’m hyper-aware of falling into any stereotypes that apply to us. BRB totally not pulling out my phone to even check the time lest I provide a bad example of people my age. Judging the group, not the situation, keeps people from being their authentic selves. Additionally, if you’re not a millennial, you might sound out of touch, and if you are a millennial, you’re not contributing anything constructive to the issue at hand by complaining.

Yes, some millennials are lazy, uninformed, and always be on that device. But the same applies to lot of gen-Xers and baby boomers. It almost seems like these things may be individual character flaws and not prerequisites for being born between 1980 and 2000.

 

IMG_1461Grace Williams is a recent graduate of Lake Superior State University with a BA in Literature and an incoming graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. She has worked as a humanities and Writing Center tutor at LSSU and will be teaching in the First Year Writing Program at EMU as part of her assistanship. She enjoys reading Young Adult Literature, writing critical analyses, and bowling.

Can’t You Just Text Me?

Can’t You Just Text Me?

I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I prefer written communication. Always. I make exceptions for a few people in my life but the list is short and you really have to rank to be on it.

My hatred for phone calls has several reasons.

1. I have sensitive ears. Growing up I had ear infections AT LEAST once a year, sometimes twice, until I was about 18 when I had a massive infection. I took the wrong dose of medication for it so it wasn’t knocked out as fast as it should’ve been. To make a long explanation short, my ears have never been the same. I’m sensitive to loud noises and any speakers being close to my ears (phone, headphones, etc.) can leave me with pain for sometimes hours even if the exposure was only for a few minutes. It varies a lot. Sometimes I can be on the phone for an hour and be fine after a short time. Other times I’m on the phone for all of five minutes and I’m in pain for the rest of the day.

That’s my biggest non-whiny reason for my dislike of phone calls. It legitimately causes pain. I can’t exactly help that except by avoidance.

2. I have a poor memory sometimes. Or I don’t trust myself to remember something. If I have to plan a call I will have pen and paper handy and I’ll write down the most useless things along with the useful because I don’t want to get anything wrong and often I’m not fully sure what’s useful and what isn’t. It’s still not enough most of the time though. I still second guess because I have to write and listen and talk all at the same time.

I like things in writing that I can refer back to if I need it. Texting is great for that. Or email. Or send me a postcard. I don’t need to hear your voice all the time. I just need the information. Apart from that I also like that I can consider my words before hitting send. I have the ability to think before speaking. I have that opportunity when speaking in person or on the phone but it never quite feels that way.

3. I just hate talking on the phone. (Here comes my whiny reason.) I just don’t WANT to talk on the phone, okay? I have a couple relatives who say that they prefer hearing the person’s voice because they feel like they can hear more emotional cues from their voice but that’s definitely not true for me. I feel way more stress because it’s ONLY the person’s voice, and I also feel like I can’t necessarily control my own voice. So I don’t feel like I have as much control over the conversation. There are also just fewer actual cues for me. I don’t actually KNOW what each tone change means and I don’t have you in front of me to show me with body language. If we’re writing back and forth I can easily ask for clarification and not sound stupid whereas in spoken conversation it’s much more awkward and at some point I just feel like an idiot.

It’s not like I need to control the conversations I have, but both parties lead conversation. When one has less control than the other the conversation is lopsided and one feels less needed.

Those are my main reasons for hating talking on the phone and preferring almost any form of written communication instead. It’s not hard to text.  Cell phones are very advanced these days. They have full keyboards and auto-correct and a lot of other very useful features. Texting is easy enough for just about anyone to do it. If you can type words then you can communicate with the written word. And if you care, you can do that effectively.

Speaking is not the only way to talk to people. There are many methods for communication and limiting yourself to one is a bit short sighted. And if you make everyone else cater to your own preference then you’re being incredibly rude. I have my preference and I avoid the phone as much as I can yet I still have to make phone calls. I still have to answer the phone at work and I still have to communicate with people over it. If someone calls me then I’ll pick up (if I know the number). It’s not as though I outright refuse to use the phone. I find that most people who have a preference for written communication are like this. They’re still open and able and willing to use another form of communication.

If you’re a person who prefers phone calls that’s fine. But don’t MAKE me talk to you on the phone. Maybe I’ll do it for you sometimes but you gotta give me some leniency too. I prefer written, you don’t. So there are going to be times when we have to make sacrifices for each other. Please be willing to do that.

When Life Seems Terrible (But It’s Really Not)

Sometimes my life feels really terrible. Especially when I’m crazy sleep deprived and can’t seem to make myself function in any normal capacity. I get really negative and irritated with little things and I know they’re little things but knowing that I’m overreacting just makes me more irritated with myself and the situation.

I want my life the way I want it. When I can’t have it I feel like a failure or that the whole world is just grossly unfair to me. I don’t deserve chronic insomnia, student debt, a cat with way too many problems, and I don’t deserve to be stuck living with my parents when I want to be on my own like an adult! I don’t deserve to be stuck behind  slow drivers. I don’t deserve to miss out on ice cream because I don’t have the money. I don’t deserve to have rude customers at my register. It’s not fair! Someone needs to fix all my problems! Even the ones that are my fault!

I get like this. I think many of is do. I just get tired of what seems like an endless barrage of little problems and a few big ones.

It’s times like this I have to remind myself that God is good. I don’t even have  a lot of big problems right now. I am quite blessed in my life. I’m living rent free, my loans are much less than most, my parents let me use their vehicle and pay for most repairs and some gas, I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, a job with people I like to be around, loving parents, an adorable cat, and plenty of clothing. I do not have a bad life. My circumstances are not dire. Most things in my life are going alright.

Sometimes I just need to take a breath and remember that I’m moving along no matter how slowly. God has a plan and I need to be patient.

I complain about things but I also take the time to ground myself in reality and keep track of what really matters.

Being an Extrovert is Great Until it’s Not

Being an Extrovert is Great Until it’s Not

I’m fairly extroverted which means I gain energy from being around other people. That’s great for hanging out with others. I can be alert, energetic, and funny because the more I’m around people having a good time, the more I’m having a good time. I usually don’t even realize that I’ve gained a great mood in a group, it just happens. When I’m around people who have even a little energy themselves then I gain that same energy just from being around them.

That is until someone is not in a good mood. Extroversion is all about how other people feel, honestly. We don’t feel just our own emotions, we feel the overall mood of a group. We pull from that and essentially feed off it. So if we’re in a decent mood and the group is in a good mood then our mood improves. But if we’re in a good mood and the group is in a bad mood then our mood will deteriorate.

I think most people, introvert or extrovert, feel this to some extent. (I can only speculate at how an introvert would truly describe this for themselves and I’m actually not going to do that. Instead I’ll pass that question off to all my introverted friends.) You can easily get caught up in the moment with a group of friends. That’s how mobs can form and it’s how things can either get wildly out of hand or get really hilariously fun. To some extent, everyone has a feel for the overall group mood.

Not that the group mood ALWAYS dictates how I feel, but it does play a decently large roll. Unless I really make an effort to choose my own mood I tend towards whatever the overall group is feeling. Whether that group is a dozen people or just one other person, I still feel what they’re feeling and I become an amplifier.

That mood being bad can really affect me, too. I know introverts can become exhausted from interacting with people and they need space and time alone to recharge emotionally and physically. When I’m around people in a good mood I feel energized and happy and when I leave that group I still feel energized emotionally. But when I’m around people in a bad mood I not only feel that when I’m with them but I feel it when I leave too. I’m emotionally drained or irritated or just moody. It can follow me for the rest of the day and into the next sometimes. I can’t always recover from that just by being on my own like an introvert (although I will often go off by myself to spare others my moodiness).

Eventually I’ll get over it. I’m not carrying a bad mood from two weeks ago or anything like that. But I think that there’s a lot of talk about giving introverts their space when they need it but not as much about how to help extroverts when they need it. Extroverts are often seen as completely self-sufficient. We can often be the most lively in any group setting and enjoy making sure everyone is having a good time. But we need self care and space sometimes too.

So what should you do with an extrovert friend in a bad mood? Just, be in an okay mood. You don’t have to be super energetic or fake being particularly happy for them. They might need a little time to sit quietly with you. Try talking about something not related to the bad mood. Extroverts need the energy raised but that doesn’t mean music or dancing or flashing lights. It just means that you have good conversation or watch a funny movie or read a book out loud together or literally anything that involves spending time with them and not feeling completely miserable. I always feel better when I can be distracted by a good friend hanging out with me. It’s infinitely better than sitting alone in my room binging on Youtube videos which usually leaves me more exhausted.

I know I have introverts reading this post and I want to hear from you! How do you describe your feelings about a group mood? Do you feel like you become part of it or because you’re introverted you stay a bit more reserved about it? Have you ever thought about extroverts needing time to recoup from a bad group mood?

(I think I’m most interested in that last question since it wasn’t even something I had considered until I sat down to write this!)