January 31, 2010 - 10:31 AM
I have been pondering what I should write about this week for several hours now. Normally I have a story or two piled up from my week's happenings, but I am drawing a blank this time around. I have been so preoccupied with completing my first of two almost 30 page papers due this term that I feel completely inept to try and sit down and write something interesting for you all.
I'm sure some of you students can relate. There comes a point when my brain just stops and rebels. Sometimes it almost feels like I am hitting a wall. One second my brain is working to full capacity and the next second I'm writing about the roll of the therapist instead of the role of the therapist. I look at the difference and I know something is wrong but I can't for the life of my figure out what that something is. I sat staring at the computer screen frustrated as I tried to figure out what the deal was. Time passed. . . five minutes later, I am still staring at the words on the screen. . . another five minutes. . . and another. I've moved on by now but that typo is still plaguing my mind but I just can't seem to grasp my error. A half of an hour later I finally realize I was talking about a baked good instead of the responsibility of my position as a therapist in sessions with clients. I had to laugh at myself. How silly.
It was a half an hour later and I fixed my mistakes and had finished filling up the last inch of my agonizingly slow writing process when I hit that wall. I managed to do it though! The consequences were pretty high though. For one, I was irritated with the amount of time it took me to finish up what I was doing, I felt ridiculous when I finally pin pointed my mistake, and in the process had raised my stress level to the point where I laid awake for about an hour and a half once I pried myself away from the keyboard with burning eyes and collapsed into my bed in the next room.
I kept dreaming weird dreams that night and none of them were positive. I guess that was a good reminder for me to take that all too precious decompression time at the end of the evening before I go to bed. I had forgotten how much stress affected my sleeping until I tortured myself this past week. As I waited to fall asleep I couldn't help but wonder if pushing myself was worth it. Did I really need to finish that last inch of the page to feel ok to go to bed? Was it so important that I fixed my mistake in that moment rather than waiting for a fresh perspective the next day? In hind sight these answers are painfully obvious and no it wasn't that important and I learned that I need to listen to my body when it tells me I've had enough for the night.
All I can say is thank God I have only experienced this once this year and I am determined to learn from it and continue to improve the way I conduct myself and use my time. Health and balance is much more important to me than reaching arbitrary goals I set for myself. Point taken.
January 24, 2010 - 9:42 PM
Brian and I have been married now for two and a half years. They have been fantastic so far. I know a lot of married couples go through a lot of difficulty in the transition between single life and sharing space with another person all day every day. I can say that this transition has been remarkably smooth for us. I'm not saying that things have been perfect, and yes we've even had issues regarding the most cliché marital issue; what is the right way to put the toilet paper roll on the dispenser. But given that I have been in school the entire length of our dating, engagement, and marriage thus far, and given that we've had an interesting journey adapting to having our daughter full time and all of the messy blended family situations that happen, we have had a truly amazing and blessed relationship.
It is so easy with us both being so busy with school to just let our marriage roll in the smoothness of our routine. There is nothing in our marriage pressing for our attention and that has been a huge help while we both plug along the way that we are. However, there is something to be said for being intentional about our relationship rather than just letting it happen.
Knowing this, we signed up for a marriage conference at our church. This wasn't a time of bells and whistles or pumping up the relationship in a sort of artificial high that can happen at conferences. It was a time of hearing the basics again, to drink deep of wisdom and to remember to do the things we do on purpose. I walked away from this weekend with a few more nuggets imbedded deep into my thinking about marriage and how I will conduct myself in my relationship, as did Brian.
I was reminded that there is an order and leadership in a marriage relationship. Part of Brian's job in our marriage is to provide an atmosphere of peace where I feel safe to be vulnerable. My response to that should be to honor and appreciate his efforts to do so and to let him take the blows that come from outside of the relationship to make that space safe for me. With that, there is a sense that I need to allow Brian to grow in this and to not tell him how to do it (because of course I know how to do it best). Brian is so good about accepting my influence and vice versa. This is a good thing because it shows the trust we have for each other. What really struck me this weekend is understanding the power of my influence, I need to be sure that my input needs to be given before I give it. I know Brian will listen and comply with my voice, but I am not always right and I need to remember that some things are for him to learn and grow in his own way.
I was also reminded to keep pursuing intimacy. There is a difference between the physical acts of closeness that we think of as intimacy and a deeper, more intimate, connection. The time demands on our schedules make intimacy difficult because it takes energy, focus, and intentionality to create it. But it is so important. We have a golden opportunity right now to learn how to do this, again, on purpose now when things are going well. It will be a lot easier to face storms and difficulties with a foundation of intimacy set than trying to create one in a tumultuous time when there is no reserve of excess to draw from. Right now we can be making that foundation and creating that excess to sustain us as we continue to grow and get to know each other in life.
Finally, I was also reminded that I can't take Brian for granted and he can't take me for granted. We are each remarkable gifts to each other and not only did we desire each other enough to get married, but we also need each other. I need Brian. He needs me. How can I know this and take him for granted? Marriage is such a normal part of life and it can feel so routine. Routine becomes comfortable and comfort can breed apathy. An apathetic marriage reeks of unappreciation and of taking each other for granted. I pray this won't be the case in my marriage, or in yours. While this is a busy time in life and a hard time to be thinking about focusing on one more thing, I feel above school, work, and even other close relationships, my marriage is important. So here again I will try to live on purpose and do continued maintenance rather than waiting until we need to do some repairs.
January 24, 2010 - 9:23 PM
Time is starting to wrap around me, putting mass amounts of pressure on me from all angles as it continues to constrict tighter and tighter. Yet I am not broken by the squeezing and I am still able to breath. I am not loosing this battle. I've had to become militant about my time, making every minute, every second count for something. It is true that whenever one says yes to something, they are saying no to something else. I cannot afford to say yes to anything wasteful right now because the clock is ticking and time is like a Python.
So I am in the process of learning what is and is not important. This is what I've learned so far: getting up early and starting off the day with a bit of physical exercise and some time with God is essential. This is a better use of my time than an extra hour of sleep, and in fact, I am about to increase that time to two hours because there is more that I want to get out of my mornings along these lines before my day gets too crazy. Starting tomorrow morning, my daily routine will consist of getting up at 5:00 am every weekday for an hour of extra time.
Second, making time with my daughter good quality time is priceless. Even a few minutes of present undistracted time makes a world of difference in my ability to connect with her and her willingness to open up and share her special life and her beautiful heart with me. It is so easy to get caught up in the doing and I just crash when I am "free" to. But this freedom comes with a cost and I'm seeing how that price has been a depth of relationship with my baby girl. No more. She is certainly worth more than what I've given her. Simple things like letting her help me make dinner (a very hard thing for me to do) mean so much.
Third, cleaning the house as I go throughout the day saves a huge headache on the weekends or on homework days. There is something wonderful about having a clean space to live and work in. I tend to let my head be so full of other things that putting my coat away when I get home would not happen. I'd rush through the door, drop my coat on the back of the couch and head off to what I needed to get done. Pretty soon I'd forget, would grab another coat when I needed to leave because of course I would not think to grab the coat already by the door, and repeat this cycle when I'd get home again. After two or three days of this type of routine and my house was thrashed. Being proactive is a much better use of my time.
Fourth, reading and homework needs to get done in any break, within reason. Conversely, breaks are important and are not always a poor way to spend my time. I am pretty strict during the week and take every minute possible for work, but Saturdays tend to be errand and family day, no homework. Sundays also are a little to no homework day and I am now letting myself take a long 2 or 3 hour nap in the middle of the day to jump start my week full of rest.
And it is amazing how just being more intentional and more intense in doing what I do, how much more I am getting accomplished. My family has had good homemade meals every night of the week and good, healthy leftovers on the nights I'm not available. My husband and I are just as connected as ever, my daughter and I more than we have been able to this year, my house constantly clean, my homework done, and my spiritual life not dead. I am certainly maintaining my current routine and am doggedly determined to stick with it and have a successful term in all areas. I am learning so much.
January 17, 2010 - 9:44 PM
I've been to Haiti. I went there the summer after my freshman year of college to do some humanitarian work. I built houses; I worked with orphans and school children. I visited clinics, distributed food and clothing, and I got to know several amazing people who lived there. I was in Grand Guave, a small town about an hour from Port-au-prince by bus.
The news of Haiti struck me hard. I can't say I enjoyed the trip much when I went because there were a lot of complicating factors in my personal life that made the trip hard. However, I went and was struck by the massive poverty and squalid living situation of most of the people who lived there. I was also struck by their joy. They had so much joy and they did not need what we so often feel that we "need" in life. And they were beautiful. They have names just like we do, they have favorite foods, senses of fashion, go to work, and love their families. So when I heard about the earthquake this past week and when I looked at the heart wrenching pictures I remembered the names of the Hatians I met. This broke my heart. Somehow this disaster didn't feel so distant. It felt very close because I had a way to humanize the pictures I saw.
And here I am, safe in my house with my family. I have more than enough of everything, education, food, clothing, clean water, and all of these things that are so natural I don't even question them. The Haitians I met didn't have any of these luxuries to begin with and I can only imagine what life is like now when their two or three walled shacks are gone.
So what can I do? I have drawn a series of pictures from my trip and I have always wanted to sell prints of these pictures in order to raise money to give back to Haiti. But where can I go to do this? I don't have the money to put into the framing necessary right now and when I have donated artwork for causes in the past, often it cost me more to frame the silly pictures than was raised in selling them! But this is still a dream of mine. I have a gift to be able to draw and I'd love nothing more than to find some way to make some real money to donate to a real organization for Haiti.
Anyone have any ideas??????? Anyone want to buy a framed print?
January 17, 2010 - 9:18 PM
So my husband is taking a photography class and heard about a photography display that opened this weekend at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on campus. The display was called Amazonia and it was a presentation of the amazing photographs Sam Abell and Torben Ulrkin Nissen took in the untamed jungles of Peru.
The event was more than I expected. I walked into the museum with my husband, daughter and her friend and we were met at the door with a sea of people dressed like they were going to a business conference. There we were in our casual we-don't-have-to-go-to-class-today clothes and that felt a bit out of place. And I wasn't expecting the food either. The UO catered the event and they had an awesome meal prepared and we all go to nibble on goodies before we ventured upstairs to the exhibit.
When we managed to wind our way through the schools of people milling about in suits and heels and made it upstairs to the display. We were met with the most amazing pictures! Exotic Jaguars were turning and facing us through the frames with a not-so-happy look on their faces. Giant clouds of brightly colored butterflies danced around, dozens of Macaw parrots swarmed the cliffs, snakes peered out from under leaves, boars charged towards us, monkeys swung overhead, and many other creatures great and small peeked and peered at us. How amazing to think so many wild animals can share such a dense environment together. I can't help but wonder how much of the world used to be like this place and now are parking lots and apartment buildings. There is so much wonder that has been lost.
And it was wonder we saw. I was pleased that my daughter and her friend were captured by the pictures they saw. They oo'd and aaah'd and shivered with the heebie-jeebies as they snaked between the crowds trying to press close enough to get a glimpse of the pictures. As for my husband, he was more captivated by the way the pictures were taken. He understood what the artists were doing when they took their pictures and he had a deeper appreciation than what I have with my ignorance about photography.
After we'd had our fill of Amazonia, we wondered through the other displays in the museum and the girls in particular really enjoyed this. After the night began to wane we made our way back down the stairs and were met with a surprise; Sam Abell and Torben Ulrick Nissen were sitting in the lobby of the museum discussing their artwork with fellow museum goers. Unfortunately, I didn't get a change to meet these two men because I had two hyper girls getting restless and wanting to dash in and out of the crowds of people. Still it was a fantastic evening and I encourage anyone who has not seen the display to head over to Jordan Schnitzer and check it out.