My Reasons Why

my-reasons-why

Rules are as follows:

  • Mention the person who nominated you
  • List 13 reasons why you keep going/living (This is borrowed from the book but I’m taking it the opposite direction).
  • Nominate 10 or more people to give their reasons why.
  • Use the picture that I created in your post. I’m sorry that I’m a bit bad a making these things… But I tried.

Thank you, Merlin’s Musings, for tagging me in this!  It’s always good to have to think through what exactly are the things that keep me moving forward in life.  Although I generally feel as though I have lived a rich, full life that I would be proud to call entire if I died tomorrow, I’m also happy for it to keep going.  So here are My Reasons Why I keep going/living, both the mundane and the profound:

1) My To Be Read/To Be Watched Lists

There are so many amazing things to read and watch in this world!  We’re living in a time of creative abundance, and I don’t want to die before watching the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War or missing out on Noelle Stevenson’s newest project.

2) My Cat

Rory deserves to live the rest of his life in spoiled bliss, and since I’ve just taken him 2,000 miles away from the only other people who will cater to his every whim appropriately, I’ve got to stick around to make sure he’s okay.

3) My Faith

When I get morose and philosophical, literally the only thing that keeps me from despair is the belief that God is invested in equipping people to change the world for the better, one person and one day at a time.  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

4) My Work

My faith leads directly into my work.  I think God has uniquely equipped me to be an emotional safe space for people in pain.  I’m also hella organized, and it’s been such a joy the last couple years to have found a profession that allows me to wake up each day and think, “I was made for this.”

5) New Travel Opportunities

I’m not allowed to die until I see Japan and Iceland AT LEAST.  Hear that, God?  You respond well to arrogant demands, right?

6) My Friends

There are very special people all over the planet who I love very deeply, and I love looking forward to our next reunions.

7) Future Friends

One of my favorite things about moving is the knowledge that I have potential kindred spirits all over the place.  It’s exciting to think that I might run into a new one at any time!

8) Food

Chocolate and wine and Korean BBQ and good coffee…there is so much joy to be had in eating and drinking good things.  I’m not tired of it yet.

9) Writing

I always wanted to be a writer when I was growing up, and while it’s no longer quite the driving force it once was, I do think I’ve got a project in me somewhere.  I’d like to make it a reality before I die.

10) My Podcast Queue

There are way more podcasts in my subscription list than I can ever get through, and yet I keep adding to it!  If I’m not allowed to go until I get through them all, I’ll never die.

11) There is Always More to Learn

I am already mildly entertaining the idea of taking Japanese classes this summer, and even if that doesn’t happen, I know I’ll find some reason to get back into an educational setting.  I love to learn new things, and the world is vast, so I’ll never run out of new interests.

12) Make an IRL Friend out of Someone I’ve Met Online

I’m very late to party when it comes to being an active participant in online fandom, and now that I’m making friends who share my obsessive interests, I’d love to meet some of them in person.

13) I Want to Pet a Cheetah

Can’t die until this happens.  MAYBE a lion would be an acceptable alternative.  But mostly it’s got to be a (healthy, happy) cheetah who maybe jumps into my jeep while I’m on a safari.


I don’t actually follow a lot of bloggers, but I definitely tag Wild Ginger Blog.  What are your 13 Reasons Why you keep going and living?

Advertisements

The Lymond Chronicles and The Fleeting Fame of Twitter

I spent the first couple months of 2018 reading through The Lymond Chronicles, a six-book series of historical novels written by Dorothy Dunnett in the 1960s.  I picked up the first one, A Game of Kings, because a podcast I follow had recommended it.  When the first 50 pages proved to be VERY Scottish slang heavy, I tweeted the podcaster and asked for encouragement to keep going.  That interaction evolved into me live-tweeting my Intense Emotions and becoming Twitter famous.

IMG_0291

Let me be very honest.  By “Twitter famous,” I mean I gained about 50 followers who do not know me in real life, and I had a regular group of 5-10 people who would interact with me about these books, including a couple people who I started to consider friends.  An unexpected highlight was when the author of Flora Segunda (one of my favorite books, check out this review I wrote in 2013) liked and retweeted me because apparently she also loves Francis Crawford of Lymond.

IMG_0187

…And then I finished the series.  And two or three people stuck around to like my real life thoughts, but mostly it ended.  I no longer woke up to 20 notifications.  My fifteen minutes of fame were over.  And I could SEE how it had become an addiction for me, the likes and retweets firing dopamine hits to my brain that I didn’t know how to do without.

So I worked through it, dealt with my return to obscurity, and am now doing just fine!

HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHA.

Just kidding.

IMG_0265

I bought Dorothy Dunnett’s eight-book House of Niccolo series because I feel so empty inside without regular validation from total strangers!!

The end, no personal growth, just the sad but relatable truth.

A Day in the Life

I decided not to post regularly about my time in Vancouver the way I did in Athens, because honestly, it began to feel like a burden as I succombed to my compulsion to impress people.  But I do want to share a little picture of what my life is like, so here’s a snapshot of my work experiences this past month!

I am the program manager of a recovery program for women with addictions who have been sexually exploited, which means that on paper, I’m responsible for making sure the facilitators deliver our classes effectively.  In actuality, every day is a new adventure.  I’m also co-house director of the second stage house, which means I share responsibility for the two women and one child currently in that house.  It is not a lot of responsibility until it is.  But nothing can really capture what a “typical” day looks like unless I give you a moment-by-moment breakdown.  Here’s a random day from a while ago:

I was woken up by my morning facilitator telling me she would be late to work.  When I got to the office, the woman who tested positive for opiates yesterday had solved the mystery by citing numerous examples of people testing positive for opiate use after eating a poppyseed bagel, which she had done.  I went in the bathroom with her to get a second urine test, which came back clean.  I wrote up an incident report, sent it to her social worker, and reiterated that so long as she kept testing clean this would be viewed as a bagel incident.

I led the AA devotionals by myself, then left the office with one participant to go downtown to Victim Services in the courthouse.  She filled out paperwork for a refund for medical expenses incurred when fleeing her pimp and confirmed the court date for her testifying against him.  We drove back to the office, and she made fun of me for not knowing a Justin Bieber song.  When I said I was behind on pop culture because I’d been in Greece for two years, she said the song was three years old.

Three people stopped me as I re-entered the office, and there was a note on my desk saying the women were out of coffee and “coffee whitener,” so I snagged the opportunity to drive to Safeway for a few minutes of peace and for a tea latte from the Starbucks in the grocery store.

Then two of my bosses pulled the participant with daughter problems (who skipped program yesterday without calling) into a meeting.  We all agreed that these temporary visits were more damaging than helpful, and that we would work toward her becoming healthy enough to bring her daughter into full-time care at a later date.  But that meant getting her daughter’s father involved, so we planned for a big meet up at a separate location on Thursday morning.  I was assigned babysitting duty at the house while that happens, thus wiping out my planned Thursday morning.

I went home and saw that my new housemate (who had said she was too sick to come in to program today) wasn’t there.  I texted, asking where she was, but by 10:00 she hadn’t come home or responded.  I conferred with my co-house director and my boss and texted her a final time to tell her we were setting the alarm and would see her tomorrow.  I went to bed worrying she had relapsed and wondering where she was.

It’s all very spontaneous and requires an enormous amount of emotional intuition, but I am loving the challenges.  It’s incredibly draining sometimes, but my housemates respect my need to spend most of every night in my room with my cat, so it hasn’t yet been overwhelming.  However, the effort is more than worth it when I have moments like a woman comes into my office to share an emotional breakthrough she had with a genuine smile covering her face.

I love the women.  They’re so smart and funny and hurt and earnest.  It is INCREDIBLY wonderful to speak the same language and develop relationships that go beyond body language.  I genuinely like them all and enjoy spending my days with them.  Their commitment and their honesty about their failures is incredibly refreshing to me, and I wish everyone had the opportunity to know them the way I do.

So for anyone wondering:  that’s my life!

 

#Confirmed: My Heart is Episcopalian

I wrote this in August 2017 and didn’t post it.  Today I went to an Anglican church in Vancouver, and I sat there with tears in my eyes nearly the whole time because I felt excited about God in a way I haven’t in years.  I feel too raw to talk about today’s experience, but I loved it for many of the same reasons I loved what I wrote below.

To any other progressive old souls wondering if there’s a place for you in a spiritual community, TAKE HEART.


For about a year now, I’ve wanted to attend an Episcopalian church.  A couple of my friends who have been on similar spiritual journeys as myself left Baptist for Episcopalian churches, and they spoke glowingly of the freedom to doubt and discuss.  I wanted to see for myself, but I was scared that reality wouldn’t live up to the vision I’d built in my head.  When I did a Google search of Episcopal churches in the area and went to the first website, the very first thing this church wanted me to see was this:

“We believe that God’s love is always expanding and calling us to love one another in new and deeper ways. The love of Christ welcomes us all to fully participate in the life and leadership of the Church, regardless of gender identity, race, age, culture, ethnic background, sexual orientation, economic circumstances, family configuration, or difference of ability. Our community is made stronger by your unique presence.”

This was exactly the sort of openness that I was craving, but what if the website was a lie?  Finally, last Sunday, I drew up my courage and went on my own to a new church.

Y’all.  I found my people.

For starters, I’m apparently a medieval monk (no surprise), because the stone floors and wooden benches resonated with my soul.  There were only a few dozen (all elderly) people in the service I attended, singing rich hymns I didn’t know with warbling voices, and my soul ached with joy.  We said communal prayers and recited creeds, and the connection I felt toward Christians around the globe and throughout history was so comforting.  The leaders read Scripture passages from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the New Testament, and then the reverend (a woman!) stood and TALKED ABOUT CHARLOTTESVILLE.  She spoke about the horror of seeing the continued racism of our nation.  She spoke about how, in every generation from Jesus to today, sin urges us to create hierarchies and divisions.  She preached a combination of Jesus and liberal politics and I WAS WITH MY PEOPLE.

I don’t know if I can explain how important this felt?  It reminded me of how I went to seminary as both a Christian and a feminist, nervously determined to see if at the end of three years I could make them fit together.  How, by the time I graduated, I had studied the topic so much that I could no longer remember how someone could be a Christian and NOT be a feminist, and I’d found a community that felt the same.

My beliefs have grown further away from my Baptist upbringing (three main differences that I see:  I believe in the ordination of women, I’m fine with drinking alcohol, and I support gay marriage), but I’ve always stayed in conservative Christian circles.  This only leads me to doubt whether I’m crazy to hold such seemingly disparate beliefs, even when my heart sings at their beauty.  And then I walked into a different building in the same city and…there were a bunch of people saying, “Uh, yeah, we believe those things too.  Where is the problem?”  I felt FREE.

But back to how an Episcopal service resonates so deeply with me.  The sermon isn’t the main point.  The high point of the service is when the leaders consecrate bread and wine, and then everyone fell to their knees at the altar and waited for the reverend to place bread in our hands, to help us drink from the communal glass of wine.  It was receiving Communion in such a childlike way that there was no possibility of believing I’d earned it.

The whole service was so rich and deep, like diving into the deep end of a pool.  Maybe that’s a little pretentious.  I don’t actually believe that there’s any inherent superiority to an Episcopalian or a Baptist service.  Some people worship through praise music and three point sermons, and some people worship through liturgy and repetition.  There’s nothing wrong with either, but wow does it feel good to be in a place that offers you your soul’s specific fast pass to God.

 

She’s Married She’s Single Podcast

My friend Lindsay and I have launched She’s Married She’s Single, a podcast about lifelong friends with drastically different lives and perspectives!

I’m very excited to start this new creative project, both because it will give Lindsay and me a fun reason to regularly keep in touch (the last time I moved to a different country, we wrote letters to each other’s blogs in a project called Letters Between Friends) and because I hope it will create opportunities for married and single people to talk to each other about what they love about their life stage and what they wish they had.

Our first episode, Getting to Know Us, is available on Apple Podcasts.  Check it out today!

SMSS Icon

Unless there is a huge announcement, I will not be plugging each new podcast episode on this blog.  However, there are several ways you can keep in touch with us!

Follow us on Twitter:  @SMSSPod
Follow us on Instagram:  @ShesMarriedShesSingle

This is a passion project for us, and we rely upon the generosity of our Patreon donors to fund a better sound for our listeners with professional audio equipment and programs.  A gift of any size is hugely appreciated, and rewards are available at each level of donation!

Finally, we hope to have regular Q&A episodes in which we answer questions about us personally or about marriage/singleness generally.  Email us at shesmarriedshessingle@gmail.com to send in your question!

Saying Goodbye to Greece

It’s been two weeks since I moved back to the States from Greece, and already my time there feels like another life.  Before I lose even more perspective, I wanted to write up a summary of the ways I grew while living in Athens for one and a half years, based on words that end in -ly.

Physically

Whenever I try to be Healthy, I always feel like I am significantly altering my life.  Living in Greece showed me a lifestyle that naturally includes healthy habits.  I walked 30 minutes to work every day, and without a car, I relied upon walking and public transportation to carry me everywhere around the city.  Greek people love to eat, but the food they’re feasting on is generally fresh and natural.  They’re genuinely skeptical of processed foods, and not in that “I hate myself for loving this microwavable meal!” way, but by repeatedly asking me if I was okay because I didn’t know how to cook real meals for myself.  BUT WHY WOULD I, when my culinary helplessness led several people to regularly drop off homemade meals at my desk or doorstep?

And that Greek food!!  I will forever miss running to Gregory’s for a €1.40 cappuccino or to Big Bad Wolf for a €2 gyro.  Never have I eaten so well for so little.

IMG_2639

Emotionally

It was in Greece that I really began to truly like myself, which for me really means feeling comfortable being me.  I credit this with two habits of my workplace:  1) we stressed, from the beginning, the necessity of having people with different personalities and talents on the team to complement each other, and 2) our weekly 12 Steps meetings created space to talk honestly about our worst self-destructive habits amongst people who would say, “Yeah, me too!” or “I can see how that would hurt you, but let me tell you how I also see that this is a strength of yours.”

IMG_9431

Mentally

Despite my complete lack of natural talent in language acquisition, I learned enough Greek to navigate the city on my own, shop for anything I needed, and have conversations with people who knew My Brand of Greek (i.e. could interpret my incorrect tenses and guess what I was trying to say).

In addition to the language, living in a foreign culture also stretched me in numerous ways.  I became frustrated with some differences, fell in love with others, and survived a spate of social anxiety that was pretty debilitating.  My worldview was expanded, my knowledge of politics extended beyond the United States, and I learned to think more critically AND compassionately about both my native and adopted countries.

IMG_9015

Spiritually

One of the things I’ve always struggled with is the feeling that I ought to be perfect.  A classic Good Girl, I figured I could force my way into God’s affection through sheer performance and rule-adherence.  Working at HD helped dismantle the last of those lies. As I spent every day teaching self-esteem and anger management to women whose trauma was close to the surface of their every decision, it was easy to understand their fear of betrayal and their desire to manipulate people to assure their own safety.  Sometimes there were setbacks that seemed to come from nowhere, and my fellow staff members were quick to build up whichever of us was frustrated with a lack of explicit progress.

Eventually I applied this attitude of grace and patience to myself.  I realized that life is about growth, not perfection.  I realized that God is present in moments of vulnerability and community far more than in the perfectionistic performances I often fall back on.  The end result of understanding God’s patience for me was my deeper love of him.  I felt, very deeply, that nothing I could ever do would change his opinion of me.  And that was freeing.

IMG_9350

 

Socially

If Greece gave me anything, it was an overabundance of social riches.  I became friends with people from multiple countries, had roommates from Ukraine, the US, Greece, and Canada.  I found nerdy friends and travel friends and cat friends.  All the weirdest corners of my interests were suddenly open and accepted.  I had weekly K-Drama nights, one of my birthdays was spent forcing friends to play video games, I celebrated an English Christmas, and I had best friends who knew me, teased me, loved me, and inspired me.

I’ve said it many times before, but there was something especially meaningful about friends made in a foreign country.  Without a social or familial support system to fall back on, I had to rely on people to an occasionally absurd degree, and that kind of dependency forged deep relationships.  I’ve always loved Found Families in media, and the group of people I called friends in Greece were my found family.  I will miss them enormously, and I’m not sure I’ll ever experience something quite like them again.

IMG_9391


To relive more of my Greek experiences,
check out my Living in Greece tag.

My Life as a Nerd

I was rereading some of my old posts, and although I originally marketed this as the story of my childhood as a nerd, it far more effectively tells the sad and hilarious tale of a childhood full of enormous anxiety issues.

My Google Drive is full of drabbles, short pieces I’ve written and quickly abandoned before they got anywhere significant.  This one was called “My Life as a Nerd,” and I totally forgot I wrote it last summer.  I will never finish it, and I wanted someone to see it, so Here, Blog!  Enjoy.


I’ve spent my whole life being a nerd because I learned, from the very youngest of ages, that fantasy is better than reality.  It’s not like I had an oppressed, horrible life.  I grew up in a firmly middle-class family: not rich enough to fly somewhere for vacation, but rich enough to afford the newest technological gadget that interested my dad (a case could be made for inherited nerdiness).

The thing is, I was an introverted, extremely shy kid.  Life was hard for me, even when “life” just meant standing in front of the preschool to show off…

View original post 801 more words