Wednesday, January 29, 2014

in light of an open heart

there is never a good middle ground of writing time for me. it's either when my head is in the clouds, and i'm obsessively recording every moment trying to make sure it all gets soaked up, or it's when i need to write the most. ever since i was about sixteen i've kept a blog, and i've kept journals since forever. i can remember specifically having a puffy pinkish/purple lion king journal i would write things in from time to time when i was just nine or ten, i bet.

either way, i've been emotionally trained to let things out on paper. to express myself through written word, because this is the only way my head can make sense of things. and lately, things have been off for me.

i've had anxieties before, like when i'm in a new place by myself i get really nervous, or when there are too large of crowds, that sometimes does it. but lately, it's been a new sort of anxiousness. the sort that makes you want to run away from everything. like when you're sitting in class and you feel your chest tighten, you get physical pangs in your chest and your palms get sweaty, and all you can think is "leave!" because you feel trapped in your situation; in your own body.

i always make it through, which is the only reason i keep going to school honestly, but it's really freaking hard when you wake up with those pangs in your chest, and you don't even care about time. you don't care about what you have to do that day because you want to focus all your energy into making that feeling go away.

i've never been one to worry. never been one to convince myself that my situation is the worst, but lately i'm stuck in this vicious cycle. quite frankly i'm sick of it. it's terribly exhausting to spend your whole day worrying. having anxiety about the seemingly inevitable fact that you're going to have an anxiety attack that day. it's been three straight weeks now that i've gone everyday just waiting on my anxiety attack. i'm nervous to go to certain classes because i remember the anxiety attacks i've had in them before. even writing this is causing my breaths to grow shorter, and my chest to tighten up which proves that the only thing holding me back from freedom of this burden is my own imagination.

when tyler finally made me open up to him about my anxieties, it really helped. i feel less like it's a personal ailment, and more like theres an open door out of this whole thing! i guess its been two nights ago, he made me vocally explain what makes me feel anxious. what it feels like when i know i'm about to have an attack, and what to do when that happens. of course, i've read article after article about what to do and how to help myself, but i've come to realize that it's all just gibberish unless you really want to open your mind, and open your heart up to love and lightness!

it's an honest work in progress, and the weight on my chest is getting lighter. the serenity prayer, along with various other mantras i've made for myself get me through the day.

i'm grateful for peace that's on its way. for this season in my life that is for a reason, that's not for my benefit, but maybe of someone i meet down the road. maybe it's a season of growth for myself. maybe it's all meant for the glory of God (as is everything in life), but in the middle of it all i'm learning to open my arms to love and kindness. to see light in darkness, and to turn the half empty glass into an opportunity to fill the glass and let it flow over.

so heres to day THREE of no anxiety. and to opening up about things i normally wouldn't share with anyone but myself. here's to personal, spiritual growth.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

a lesson in patience and peace

the school semester thus far has been a whole lot of business. i'm taking 18 credit hours for the first time in my life. before this, i never loaded on more than 15, but this is supposed to be my last year of college, and i'm just not even there yet. i still have (after this year), one more year of undergrad, and then the plan is to get my masters in dietetics here at UCO. so essentially, i'll just go to college forever and ever and never be done! or so it feels. then again, tyler's school is also never-ending, except in a whole different sort of way, so it isn't so bad. if anything, him always studying improves my grades as well. i've started this new making A's thing, which is really awesome. i never thought of myself as the making A's type, but i guess when i apply myself it happens. and 18 credit hours require a whole lot of applying yourself.

with so many credit hours, also trying to work at least 20 hours a week, and still trying to have some sort of life outside of it all results in me running around like a crazy woman and never sitting still for longer than an episode or two of Wings (that tyler and i currently love...). it is never really apparent to me that i'm anxious and always awaiting the next thing to come up so that i can run to it without taking a breath. and i think it's nice how sometimes God tries to speak to you through the most subtle of ways. all gentle and easy, like he's just putting his hand on your back to guide you, but when you're too busy being a crazy woman, not even taking time for yourself, you don't hear. and our God is so lovingly persistent that he will use someone physical and someone you'll actually hear to tell you what he wants for you. and he did that for me.

now that my little toe is healed and ready to get back on my yoga mat, i have been able to practice more. practicing on my own accord in our "big room", as we call it, slowing my mind and letting go of my expectations becomes really hard for me. it usually ends up in me face down on my mat in the middle of it, sort of getting onto myself for rushing and trying to force myself to breathe deeper, to utilize my heart instead of my mind for once! because of this, yesterday i picked up my mat and went to one of my most favorite studios in OKC called the Yoga Room. even the decision to actually go to a studio was a battle for me. tyler talked me into it, reminding me that homework will always wait.

this was lesson one for the day. that homework always waits. that you should always take time for yourself, to slow down, and allow yourself to unwind for an hour. an hour at least! and that it is always when it's the hardest to get there that you need it the most. 

and i believe that i did. i needed that time and that reminder that i am strong. that i am capable. that i am new, and fresh, and loved.

that night i had planned to go to tea time. this was started by one of my bests, Kelsey, and her lovely roommates whom I've grown to really love and appreciate, where they sing and play before God and this cozy living room full of people all with a mug of tea in hand. it's something i try and always make time for because the energy in that room is so sweet and so encouraging! there's something really powerful in a room full of people you hardly know, all just clapping and singing and praying their hearts out at 10 o'clock at night. all together for the same purpose.

the journey to get to tea time was a surprisingly hard journey. if you know me, you know that my gas tank is never full. the gas light is always on, and it's partially because i hate getting gas and spending the money, but also because it's inconvenient and i would always rather be home or where i'm going than at the gas station. so of course before i left the city, i had to get gas. i ended up prepaying more than i needed, then went back inside for a refund on my card (which took a good 8 minutes because it was the guys first time to do such a thing), then i had to return tyler back home to study, then f i n a l l y i was on my way. it's already a good 30 minute trip to kelsey's house, but of course there was construction that stopped traffic for about three miles. i took the nearest exit (which wasn't anywhere close to kelsey's), okay- i'll spare you the details, but you get that this journey was annoying and frustrating and took way more time than necessary.

within ten minutes of being at kelsey's, a few of us were sitting on her porch as they were choosing songs for the evening, this really sweet sister of hers that i've only met once before just looked at me and said "I just see you under a waterfall...". so then, here I am immediately thinking she's seen some of my yoga photos, because my ears are obviously selective and unreceptive... she continues that she sees that God is trying to refresh me this week, and that he wants me to walk in peace, and that His refreshing water is flowing over me from this waterfall, and school and work are about to calm down and His peace is going to completely refresh me. 

this being the second reminder that the hardest things to obtain are always the things you need most. that when you battle with getting there, that something really awesome is in store for you. 

my eyes well up in tears because i realize how persistent our God is. that more than we want or desire him, he longs to have us! that out of a million people to bother with, he spends his time on us. and if we won't take the time to listen, he will use something, or in this case someone, to remind you that his loving arms are waiting for you to fall into.

today, more than ever, i'm thankful that he cares so much as to completely wash me in this waterfall of peace. and that he chases after me while i'm running from myself.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

mixing things up

a couple weekends ago, tyler and i got the always awesome pleasure of seeing our good friends charlotte and sid (and this time, one of charlotte's best friends/roommates from boston, aviana!) we always love going to westville to see them, or at least i do, because it feels like being a 12 year old adventurer again.

i'm sorry that you're all probably going to hate me for this photo, but it's the only one i have, and i think you're all beautiful!

charlotte's parents, whom i claim as my second parents, still live in the same house they built for themselves way before i came into the picture, but it is the same house that we played, imagined, created, drank (and i spilled) multiple tea glasses, and adventured away for hours from. it feels like home! it smells like home, and the conversation is something unlike you can get anywhere else. all of this may just stem from the fact that i get to see my best friend since the first grade when i go there, but i really just love it.

another aspect of these trips that we always love when visiting the Kirk home is the delicious, like really so delicious food that Patty makes. there is always mama bread (her homemade sourdough bread that i swear is unlike anything else), different dishes with good spices, vegetables from her garden that i envy, good texture, color, and yummy accents of this and that. for instance, the first night we were there, she made all seven of us new york strip steaks. tyler was gleaming and drooling at the thought of that alone, but then she paired it with a fresh salad made with snap peas (if i remember correctly?), tomatoes and onions, then there was bread, and these wonderful vegetarian stuffed pimento peppers from her garden that she made for me. i think saliva is puddling in my mouth just typing this out.

{ and i'm sorry, i tried to write that in a few less disgusting ways, but honestly that's just how good it is... }

however, after staying for a few days, tyler and i realized something we could take home from the stay on the Kirk farm, and that's variety. every dinner there was something different, something fresh, something always different from the night before. each salad was fresh with red wine vinegar, oil, a little sugar and salt to taste. which, if you care to know the order to each to make a perfect dressing, i'll be happy to tell you because let me tell you, it's an art, and it's very essential to a perfect salad.

since we've been home from the farm, we've incorporated fresh vegetable salads into each of our dinners. we don't limit ourselves to our normal dinner routines, and if anything, we have been pushing ourselves to look for new things! to venture out into the unknown of flavors and combinations of foods because what fun is it to eat tacos three times a week? (okay, i honestly have no issue with tacos three times a week, but this is fun too...) not only is there variety in our dishes, but in our spare time, in the time we invest in others, and our morning routines. we are always so grateful for this family. much has been learned, and experienced and loved around them! and lately there's always a big mug of hot tea to be enjoyed by all!

tonight's dinner: quinoa, tilapia, green beans from my garden, cabbage and pepper salad, with fresh tomato

Thursday, August 29, 2013

whatever is true, whatever is honorable

i am routine. i try to not hold onto words or plans for the day because as much as i dwell on them, and as much as i commit them to memory - they always fade away. especially plans. i am such a plan-rat (like pack-rat, except plans...yeah, whatever, you get it). it could be something as small as "what are we having for dinner?" "oh, lets just pick something up on the way home" then three hours, maybe even longer, plans change and we decide to make food at home. it freaks me out and upsets me generally because it's not what was planned.

my life thus far has been a series of trial by fire. i remember when i tried to get my permit when i was 15 years old, and my mom can contest to this, it took us three attempts to finally get it from the DMV because there was always something. whether i forgot my ID, or some paperwork from my home schooled drivers education - whatever it was, i could never quite get it right on the first try. even college classes. i'm currently retaking three classes because i, again, just couldn't quite get it right on the first try.

however this whole semester has been a complete whirlwind thus far. i'm taking 18 hours worth of classes, and i feel as if i am always at school, on my way to school, or doing homework, and it isn't even the end of the second week of classes. i've been teaching myself to keep a weekly planner that i literally have become obsessive about. writing everything in it from assignments, readings, due dates, work schedules, events - literally everything. and as much as i like to believe that everything is planned out because of this, it isn't.

i am constantly reminded that things change, and that things are constantly evolving, even sometimes for the better, but that doesn't make it easier on my head or heart. seasons change, and friends change, and environment changes, and we just gotta roll with the punches. because as much as i want to occasionally be stressed out about plans changing, or my schedule changing, things are really wonderful. everyone is in good health, my family is all happy and wonderful, i have two of the cutest nieces and a nephew whose laugh literally could make me cry if i think about it too long because my heart is so big for such a tiny human. each time my head tries to get upset about a kink in a plan, i try and remind myself there is no good deed that goes unnoticed, there is no need to worry, and we are all constantly gifted by the earth's many tiny little miracles.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
 philippians 4:8-9

mmm, see? that alone is enough to calm an anxious spirit

Sunday, July 28, 2013

our siberian runaway

this guy is a runaway. he's the most daring and adventurous little brat dog. zeus has gotten out a time or two before, but the first time a nice lady picked him up while he still had his tag on, and the other time he got out,  he just explored around a bit then came to the front door of our house to just sit and wait for us to come find him.

but yesterday when we went to pick him up from what we call "doggy daycare" at my parents' house, there was no zeus. there was diabla (my parents' cane corso/zeus' best friend), and there was a hole big enough for zeus to crawl out of under the fence.

quick side note: one thing about zeus is that he loves to dig holes. these holes don't necessarily have to be big, but they are in fact numerous, and they are all over. that being said, we weren't too surprised that he had dug himself out of doggy daycare, but since he was there all day while we were both at work from 8 to 5, we had no frame of reference of how long he had been out.

so tyler and i both jump in our cars and take off through the neighborhood calling his name, whistling, and lurking up to the good people of the world to ask if they had seen him. none of them had, of course. but after a couple hours of searching, and after the sun had gone down, we went back to my parents' to make fliers. once we realized kinkos was closed at 9pm (since when??) we regretfully retired our efforts for the night.

it was strange coming home without a pup, and it was strange waking up without one too. but what may have been worse was dreaming about finding him, then waking up to nothing. yet my heart was so warmed by everyones efforts in helping us find our pup. our friends jessica and kyle helped us search around the neighborhood, and were kind enough to offer to help hang fliers and do whatever it took to find him. several of my friends posted on facebook trying to get the word out about him missing, and several other people shared the post. once we found the post on craigslist about his whereabouts, a few of my friends texted me to share, or told me on facebook which made the whole situation seem much brighter! that there are eyes and ears and other puppy parents out there trying to find our dog.

there i stood waiting by the door when the craigslisting neighbor brought him to my parents this afternoon, and we were completely overjoyed and relieved to have him back with us. i think i was halfway expecting some huge tail wag or hug of endearment when zeus saw me, but he didn't seem to care at all about where he was or what was going on... and here he is now, throwing himself against the floor like he's lost all energy from his journeys, and occasionally trying to jump into my quilt covered lap on the couch. things are back to normal around here, and my heart couldn't be more at ease!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

homemade laundry detergent

for quite some time, i've had this 4lb, 12oz box of borax sitting in my laundry room waiting for this very project - making my own laundry detergent! a friend i used to work with told me of how simple it was to make your own and i was instantly intrigued. it took much research, but i finally decided powder detergent would be best for me and my washer, but i finally did it yesterday.

i found a recipe from ask anna, someone i stumbled upon in my research, and felt pretty confident in her recipe.

things you'll need: 
  • 1 (4lb 4oz) box of Borax
  • 1 (3lb 7oz) box of Arm and Hammer super washing soda
  • 2 (5.5oz) bars of fels-naptha laundry soap
  • 5lbs of Arm and Hammer baking soda 
  • Essential oil (I used lavender)
  • a big bucket for mixing all of this together (mine was 2 gallons)
 what to do: 

before mixing all of these items together, you want to make the fels-naptha soap look like little tiny balls of cheese. to do this, simply put the bars into your food processor and leave it on for a while. they don't like to get much smaller than the size of a bb. other recipes i found suggest cheese grating the soap, but that takes too much time and effort.

Zeus really didn't know what to think about all the smells.  
once the soap is grated, add the soap, along with the rest of the dry ingredients into your big bucket. you want all of this to be mixed thoroughly, and the most efficient way to do so (in my opinion) is with your hands. make sure all the clumpy parts are broken up, and that the whole mixture is consistently polka-dotted with the fels-naptha soap crumbles. 

after mixing, move about half of the mixture into another big bowl. put about 20 or more drops of oil into each half of the mixture. after stirring it well, combine the mixture back into your big bucket and mix some more.

[warning: at this point, your nose is going to be so full of so many different pungent smells, that you might need to take a breather outside]

but that's it! you're finally done. now you get to funnel your powdered detergent into air-tight containers for storage (because you're inevitably going to have detergent coming out of your ears for awhile).

fortunately i have an endless supply of jars from our wedding.

and even put some in tea tins to give to my friends!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

the bigger the mountain, the greater the victory

this past week, tyler and i learned (the hard way, i might add) that buying a car is not a cake walk. deciding on the type of car was easy for us. tyler knew exactly what he wanted: a 2005 or newer jeep grand cherokee that he can modify to his specific liking, which is another post in itself. but finding the right one was very VERY difficult. just when we thought we had found the perfect one, it was pulled out from under us after a week of speaking with this guy, because the owner decided he "didn't want to give it up", even after we had already been financed and everything. (deep breath to remember that it's all over now) so we kept looking! and kept looking, and kept looking, and talked to several other car owners we found on craigslist around the oklahoma/texas/arkansas area.

lo and behold, the car of tyler's dreams lived right here in OKC with us. after a day of talking to the owner, we met at the bank the next day to finalize the deal. this car we bought is so nice! i'm talking leather seats, sun roof, wood grain, V8, windshield wipers that can actually detect the rain and move on their own? super nice, and it was the perfect golden green color.

God gave us a week to fall in love with this jeep. well, about 5 days. that was until the third rainy day in a series of rainy days came along. after seriously about five minutes of just rain and mild wind, tyler heard a noise outside and went running. two of our good friends from tahlequah were in and we were confused to why he would want to go watch this uneventful storm, yet we followed to the front porch. that's when i see tyler standing in the pouring rain looking at his car that's being smothered by a 50 foot tree. 

a sense of panic sort of set in, like what do i do? how do i help? did this really just happen? because it isn't everyday, thankfully, that you see your week old car resting under a tree. however, tyler and i were able to remain relatively calm during all of this. he handled everything really well, and never seemed to be too stressed out, which is one thing he's always been good about. thank god for that trait in him because he tends to mellow out my anxiety about things.

one of my best friends boyfriend's matt never hesitated to run out in his nice shoes and clothes in the pouring rain and help tyler cover the sunroof that's been busted out. which covering the big gaping hole in the roof was first priority at this point. we had called our parents to inform them of everything, and both dads come up to the city eager to help us. before my dad and brother were able to get here with the chainsaw, a man who lived across the street from us ran over to help us, chainsaw in hand.

so just picture it- here we all are drenched by the rain (seriously, i think tyler and matt both went through multiple outfits this night), all tugging at branches, with this man neither of us even knew lived near us. apparently his electricity went out, and he went to his porch to see if anyone else had power when he saw our struggle. this man stayed until every piece of this tree was off the car, and refused to take money even for the gas he used helping us.

i always feel as if i live in part of the ghetto community, where it's every man for himself. everyone minds their own business, and everyone keeps quiet, but on this night it was different. standing there watching it all happen, i felt really truly grateful and aware of the meaning of community. this man had no ties to us, didn't know our names, nor did he ask, yet he was standing there with us in the pouring rain wanting to help.

at any rate, this is day 2 without a new jeep in our front yard. my parents are kind enough to let us store the jeep in their garage while we wait for the insurance company to give us the "estimate", more like the verdict of our car situation. at this point, best case scenario, they total the car and hand us a check for 15 thousand dollars, or worst case, they cut us a check to repair the damages. but who really knows what is "best", or what is "worst". like i said earlier, the sunroof was busted out, the roof was dented in pretty badly, especially around the door frames. the tops of the front two doors were dented, the windshield was cracked all over, and the hood had a few scrapes and dents as well.

yet even in the middle of it all, i can't help but be reminded that "the bigger the mountain, the greater the victory."
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