Monday, September 16, 2013

Optimistic Reflection

Since December 2012--the month I began my first full time 9 to 5 job and the month I met Hannah--my life has felt like a go-go-go non-stop ordeal. I've cycled through many ups and downs. The downs stand out and seem way more plentiful. I've frequently wrestled with myself and other people; I've done a lot of crying to God.  I've been learning about myself and realizing that I learn about myself when I'm not actively trying to learn about myself. I've been realizing that I am so different from the person I imagined I would be at this point in my life-- that person was pretty one dimensional in comparison. I've been learning a lot about change and growth and evolution and shifts. Life is strange. God is strange. Life is complex. These are all obvious statements, I know.

I've endured many days where anxiety completely took me over. Some days I would know why I was anxious but most days I wouldn't. I've worked through many days of just feeling low--feeling detached from everything, not able to find lasting pleasure in anything. Sometimes I would feel overwhelming sadness and not be able to picture a time in the future when things would feel OK again. That seems dramatic, I know, but it's a real, scary, hopeless feeling I get at times.


For the past week or so, I've been able to maintain a consistent "good" state of mind. And at moments I've been struck by bits of insight and overtly positive thinking. Here are two of those moments:

Moment 1:  

A couple of days ago I found myself dwelling on this fact-- the majority of the people in my life whom I love and am closest to will probably never wholeheartedly agree with me and the way I live my life. This and the thoughts I had surrounding it troubled me. I shared this feeling with Han and her response was that one day I will be so confident in my life and the truth that a lack of approval from loved ones won't stop me from feeling peace and contentment with my choices. That's not verbatim but I think I captured the essence of what she meant. Her statement reminded me of something important: a lack of approval from loved ones affects me most because it reflects my own doubts and things I haven't settled with yet. So it's true that the more I work things out, the more I'll be at peace with my choices--another's lack of approval can't highlight insecurities and questions that aren't present.

Anyway, some time after that, I began thinking about my friends and family in the light of the reality of their actions and responses to me and this really hit me:

I am incredibly surrounded by love. I don't like to admit that I wrestle with my friends and family not approving of me. On the one hand, wrestling has never meant inaction-- I am sad when I feel like people are uncomfortable with me and my choices but that discomfort never has and never will stop me from making my own choices and living my life as I see fit. Kudos to me. On the other hand, I feel people's feelings towards me deeply and it's hard when those feelings are negative and/or troubled.  But in this moment I realized that the people I love and care for the most, are still right there caring about me and loving me back. No matter if I've disappointed them, made them question my sanity and wisdom, or made them grieve for me. No matter how many side eyes I've inspired or how our opinions differ, they're still there. They still love me and would still rather know what's going on in my life than not. I am so supported just because I am me.

Ultimately, I don't think I really want people to always be comfortable with me and approve of me. I need to be challenged and I appreciate (usually belatedly) when challenges force me to explore things more and be really sure of what I believe. Challenges also make me extra grateful for the One who finds me acceptable and lovable no matter what I do. I think what I truly want is for the people who love me to be willing to wholeheartedly wrestle with the challenges I present in the same ways I wholeheartedly wrestle with the reasons I am challenging.

Moment 2:

At work a couple of days ago, at my desk, while blankly staring at my computer screen (it happens ok?!)  it hit me that I am living in a city thousands of miles away from all of my family and am sustaining my presence here. It hit me that I did the work to get myself here and that I am doing the work to be able to remain here. It hit me that I live in a city I love so much and that I am a working individual supporting my existence in a place that gives me life. I am doing that. Now, I'm not downplaying the fact that God takes the ultimate credit for everything good. No doubt, God wrote the story that's unfolding now. But, I've been an active participant.

I don't give myself credit for very much. I am usually very self deprecating and downplay my accomplishments under the guise of being noble and humble. I'm not truly noble or humble in that way. I'm just so self-negative at times that I believe the lie that my accomplishments are a fluke, no big deal, or can be entirely attributed to anything other than the fact that I'm an intelligent, capable woman. So, in that moment, I took some time to name a few accomplishments and be proud of myself: I came to Chicago, made friends, formed a community, got a Master's degree in a field I actually love, supported myself through babysitting/ nannying, got a 9-5 full time job, and have taken care of myself through it all. I've built my own life; I've done important things; I've been a successful human being. Here's to me. I'm claiming my credit.

So... overall, I think what I really wanted to say is that as crazy and up and down as life over the past 9.5 months has been, I am so grateful for the days when I am filled with optimism and hope about myself and my future--where, good things come to mind in a jolt and then linger. Today I feel good and believe that tomorrow will be good. Today I can think about the people and things in my life with positive, tangible emotions. Today I can stand in the brisk Chicago air in my leggings, turtleneck, and cardigan and be happy about how the very cool wind brings with it many pleasant associations--my first wonderful months in Chicago, fall themed beverages from Starbucks, downtown adventures with Karimy (one of which I had two days ago!), snuggles with my comforter, and crushy-lovey feelings.

During this life season my happy days haven't lingered long enough. It's been hard to remember that I have them--not days where I just feel happy for a moment or have some laughs (I laugh at SOMEthing every day) but days where I feel in my soul that things are really alright and working out for my good. I know all too soon I will have a day where things seem dismal or, worse, feel like absolutely nothing. But today I will focus on the fact that I am happy and optimistic!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Tales

In pictures and videos:

Breakfast- "Eat Your Greens Smoothie": Spinach, frozen banana, blueberries, ground flax, soy milk, water. I also had 1/2 cup of lentil soup.

Lunch- Veggie Pita I added some of my homemade hummus and balsamic vinegar. 5 oz of baby carrots not pictured.

Came home, logged into Facebook and saw this.  My first thought was "Oh shit, getting quoted..." So what if it's my girlfriend quoting me...

I watched 3 minutes of this 10 minute workout video and decided I wasn't working out today:

I had a little motivational talk with myself and decided I could absolutely work out for 10 minutes. So I did this video:

Next came this raw kale and avocado salad, with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing (in the jar) I made this evening:

Scrimp pasta for dinner! 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Oh Discipline

One day I'll be able to call myself a disciplined human being. I'll introduce myself that way: "Morgan Service, disciplined human being here!"  Ok, maybe not. But it would be nice to know that if I did, I wouldn't be lying!

I did not meet my sleep goals for August. I have not, so far, met my unprocessed food goals for September. And I have troubles. Multiplied breakouts- depressive/ anxiety episodes-breaking out in hives every day again-constipated troubles. Sorry [not sorry] if that's TMI.

I've been having technical troubles too. My computer was out of commission for a while because my charger went kaput. Then my phone died and I received a less than stellar replacement. I can no longer compulsively check Facebook or Instagram (verb) every bit of my life. This forced semi-disconnection from social media is good though (I think). I know my father is relieved that I will no longer exceed our monthly data limit. You win Daddy-o, you win.

These past 7 and some weeks have not been all bad, however. I started exercising semi-regularly again. I've also journaled a few times after a many-months-long dry spell.

And I have other new things happening:

1. I'm loc'ing my hair! This is my second attempt ( I started the process in the late spring of 2011 but quit by the end of the summer) and I am sticking to it. So far I am a month in. I wore my baby locs out for a week but am now wearing yarn wraps (no, that's not me in that video) over them. Because honestly, the baby locs stage is just a little too rough for me right now. Not rough as in hard or burdensome. Rough as in "yikes, I don't feel as pretty as I want to!" And I'm fine with that being the reason I'm currently wearing braids.

2. I started a  blog on Tumblr! I'm using it to discuss my experience of Christianity and non-heteronormative sexuality. I found it very hard to keep the blog focused because there are so many amazing, beautiful, funny, clever, poignant things on tumblr. To address that problem, I also made a secondary tumblr blog for my other interests.  

My very first post where I detail the persons to whom A Queer Faith is dedicated.

3. I renewed my library card--it expired in mid-May--and I'm thrilled to be able to borrow books again! Right now twenty three of them are lounging on top of my bookshelf. There's that discipline problem again. But as my good friend, Bianca, put it, "what am I supposed to do?! They're free!"  I'm currently reading 10 books at once Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. So far, I like.

4. I have a camera again (I lost my last one on Valentine's day earlier this year)! A camera separate from my phone! And praise the Lord, because my "new" phone does not take very good pictures and getting pictures off of it onto my computer is more than a trial! Hannah gave me this camera for my birthday. Technically I've had it for a couple of months, but when I brought it back from Nashville, I left it at Han's place and it remained there until this past weekend. I purchased a memory card for it on Saturday and have been a very happy girl ever since.
I look like a professional, don't? 
I used it to take this picture of the pita bread and hummus that I MADE FROM SCRATCH tonight. Can you tell that I'm SLIGHTLY proud of myself?

I won't give up the fight to turn myself into a consistently healthy eater. My latest weapons:

 More to come on this when I can share something that will make you proud of my growing discipline.