november.

I just got done with Thanksgiving break.

I also haven’t done this in sUCH a long time. Oof.

To be truthful, it was a bit of a broken break. Broken in a sense that it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving for some moments.  It’s hard to think about all of the blessings that surround us every single day when one or two bits of darkness seem to stick out like a sore thumb above all of it. But. Being around family and having time away definitely gives way to lots of pondering and deeper understanding. About myself, about others, and about what lies in front of me. So I’m thankful for all of that time, for the people I got to share it with, especially.

read/reading // ugh I need to start reading againnnnnn this Christmas I just want like 2 books I can immerse myself in. But here’s what I’m working on:

White Noise by Don DeLillo

WANT TO READ: Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey

writing // here. On the pages that house my heart and who I am, physical and digital.  It’s been dead for quite awhile but you know what? It’s such a fundamental part of who I am and I don’t think I can neglect that anymore. Writing for me cleanses my soul and inspires fires within me that I had thought to be put out. So here we are, and I think, I’ll stick around for awhile, free of chains, free of filters, free of constant bombarding judgement (because isn’t that what social media is nowadays?)

learning // the value of patience. The value of honesty, the value of just falling right back into a hypothetical/metaphorical comfortable armchair after a long day like “you know what? This is me, take it or leave it, I’m gonna just sit here and watch TV/do my crossword until y’all decide to figure things out.” Hypothetical/metaphorical TV. Hypothetical/metaphorical crossword.

doing / working on // damn, a lot of things! In this respect, my heart is full. I’m so thankful.

  • a hunger initiative at my university’s campus ministry
  • a print/digital campaign for the aforementioned item
  • a scrapbook baby book for a friend of a friend
  • my portfolio! ^_^
  • self-care
  • power moves! And DAMN November has been full of them (partially because I deemed it “powermovember”. Ha.)
    • I cut my hair, I got rid of stuff, I cleaned my room, I bought a new dress, I drove home to vote (LOL cuz I lost my absentee ballot), I went camping under the stars, I re-learned the ukulele, identified a new favorite craft beer, among other things (:

eating // terribly. My diet sucks. I temporarily suck. I’m trying to use an app called “Eat This Much” to aid in my meal planning and to get back on track nutritionally. It’s odd because, when your life feels like it’s falling apart, I feel like diet and exercise (for me, at least) are the first things to go, when in REALITY they need to be the first things to stay. Oof. #mondaytruths

drinking// coffee/lattes, adult juice, water.

listening // …to a whole host of things.

laughing // with the people I care about. It’s bad because my first impulse to write on this line was “hardly ever”. I don’t really remember the last time I ugly-laughed, and I would like to change that. Sometimes, joy is something you have to curate for yourself, but I also want to take time to try to see the immediate joy around me.

thinking // about everything that has, can, and will go wrong. I consider myself to be a pretty positive person so this… doesn’t look good on me. I never used to have trouble sleeping but it seems like this fall is quite the exception. All those memes that depict someone lying still but their brain going crazy/dancing/doing weird shit is pretty accurate.

trying // to stay positive. To hold onto love. Specifically love for myself, love for others.  Specifically love for those who do some really questionable and hurtful things.  I need to choose love, no matter how hard it may be. Because it’s in the hardest love that comes understanding.

hoping // that I can just get through these last few weeks leading up to finals. It’s such a busy time and I am low-key counting my stars that I’m not going to piss off someone close to me because I have so much going on. It’s time to hunker down and take care of business, and I need to remind myself of that. It’s odd, sometimes, the timing of things. There’s so much to take in right here and right now– before I left for Thanksgiving break I was told I was accepted to study abroad in Ireland, and while it’s surreal and crazy to think about right now, I can only think about the joy that will come this summer amidst all of the things that have come into play in my life right now.

loving // my people. My support systems. My work. All of it is converging in a way that I never thought it would, nor expected it would, and I just have to say it’s something I need to hold onto.

praying // Dear God, please grant me patience, understanding, focus, the motivation to sit my ass down, look at the sticky dark in front of me, handle it accordingly, maybe put it in a box and stick it away for a while.  I pray also for the strength to keep barreling onward, for resilience, for clarity, for kindness.

slower, still

it’s one thing

to prop up the smiles and

strategically avoid gazes and

turn twisted circles in your head

searching for answers, for justification

in one of those decorated corners

weighing the broken pieces and

knowing the pieces broke wholeheartedly, unevenly.

it’s not okay, nor is it remotely fine, because actions have consequences that often aren’t anticipated.

maybe they’ll learn.

 

it’s another thing entirely to sit down,

let it hit you like a sporadic rain and

absorb shock after shock, and

ultimately come to terms with the fact that,

inevitably, something is missing.

 

and it’s another thing to work hard;

passively hard and,

ache to fill that spot and,

to look in a mirror and be okay

with what’s tearing up back at you, knowing that change

change is gonna come, some way, somehow.

 

it’s a thing that’s long awaited,

but knocked out in bits and

shattered, piece by piece and

conquered with every passing day as you realize–

that the new reality,

in all of its vibrant colors

and labyrinth emotions

and electric moments

unfolding before you

are *so* much better, so much clearer, so much less clouded, than the faded, ostensible hodgepodge zone of comfort

like dirty water in a vase of expectation

you had merely filled into.

“still i rise”

It’s crazy.

In the span of just a few weeks, how you can go from feeling like ashes

Dark and hollow, weightless and scattered

To an almost fire

Fueled by an energy countering everything that was ASSumed for you, thrust before you, pulled out from under your feet

Until you rise above it

The thick and the smoke and the sticky dark you had no fricking clue at one point was holding you back.

It is not an escape.

Oh no.

Rather, an intentional retreat

Towards love.

Towards real™ caring.

Towards the notion that you yourself are the only thing that gets to define you.

Towards the arms and hearts of those who are unwaveringly open to yours.

(-:

xx

the Selfish Years

selfish years (1)

I found this while scrolling along in my social media sphere. The first sentence caught me off-guard, and for a minute I didn’t quite know what to think.

I thought about how I’m in school, trying to do all of the things I need to do to advance my skills and graduate with a flippin expensive piece of paper.

I got lost in the thoughts of my obligations– going here, doing this, leading this, submitting that, wishing that if there were just a little more time in the day I could do each thing better, fuller, with more love.

I thought about leaving my house so many times a couple years back after school, in the evenings, just to get away and do and see and overcompensate for not having my own set of wheels (or a license, for that matter).

What if my entire teens have been selfish?

The thought. It just sits there like a dirty pile of laundry at the back of my head.

But I think about the growth. I can’t possibly capture in one post the ways that I have felt this train moving forward, despite the missing railroad ties and obstacles and late schedules.

am immersing myself in everything possible (perhaps to my detriment but here we are lol).

I’m getting more selfish of my time every day, it feels like. But not in a way  that’s like, hoarding a pile of money. It’s in little ways, like learning to say “no” to things that aren’t in my sweet spot of worth for time and energy investments, choosing importance over urgency, and having the courage to draw that boundary line between myself and the “emergencies” of others. It wasn’t easy. Heck, it still isn’t. …But here we are.

FRUCK I want to travel again. I applied to a study abroad program I know I won’t be able to afford (and promptly headed right over to apply for the scholarships).

I’m trying to let myself explore new things. Inside and outside the classroom, new habits (like being on time LOL “how’s that working out for ya steph?”, new routines, new music**… ) It’s a very dynamic time.

**the end of this post shall feature some new music that’s been on my heart lately 

I feel like my love is a rubber band, stretching out and relaxing, ebbing and flowing with every interaction but the important part is that it’s being regulated, held closer to my chest.

Not touching the ground is quite the attractive thought. Easy to do when you’re constantly running place to place. But what if, in some instances, you wish to be grounded, solid in your footing and certain in your next step?

 

october has too many birthdays

Simply put, I do not know where the time has gone.

Between 19 credit hours, 3.5 means of employment, leadership roles, an almost hurricane, and dealing with all of the pitfalls [insect-related or otherwise] of this stupid apartment I have not been able to sit in a hot minute and spew words into this space as freely and as frequently as I have in the recent past, a past that feels more distant than last Christmas.

As the storm of these weeks has passed/passes overhead, I have made some observations, realizations, and decisions about my personal growth, wellbeing, and other uncategorized things.

I felt myself drawn back to picking up the book The Productivity Project, and reading excerpts of it on the bus to and from work and class. I found myself saying “no” to things that don’t appeal to my interest or concept of value more than 90%.

I found myself attending a workshop entitled “Success or Burnout” in the hopes that I could learn something useful about the dangerous line I walk between being productively busy and spread way too thin. I did learn something, and it’s something I think about every day— it’s about not living your life in a constant state of urgency [as I often do] and being aware that you have the choice to do what you want to do.

You get to choose between the important and the urgent, and you get to discern: what’s urgent is not always important, and vice versa.

I thought this served as a really nice, gentle wake up call. It made me add due dates to my to-do lists so I’m not running around completing tasks like a headless chicken lacking context in my work.

And I found myself taking the extra steps at night to make sure I was ready for morning, drinking more coffee [but then realizing I was drinking too much coffee and trying to scale back to tea,] and fitting in more time to read.

I found [find] myself constantly wondering if I’m taking enough time for myself [I know I’m not] and putting study time in multiple hour blocks on my calendar for Saturdays.

And then I find myself not eating enough, not feeling hungry, not having time to eat, and essentially falling into a whole vicious cycle.

I find myself showing up, because according to whoever, “showing up is half the battle!” Yeah well so are weapons and game plans and armor that make up the other 50% of the battle but those, conveniently, get swept under the rug, hidden away so all that’s left is caffeinated evenings and droopy eyelid distractions amidst a sea of pseudo-engaged learners, and feeling the passion slowly leave your fingertips as the worries of the day chase you around your head.

I find myself thinking “if only this week could be over *THEN*…” maybe JUST then I can catch up, I can “get my life together”, I can devote more time to this, I can afford this bill, I can reach that goal, and it just goes on. In an upward climb that’s a losing battle.

And then I step back and think “well heck! That’s no way to live!” And I make to-do lists and watch Ted-Talks and read books and then it fades. A week later, it fades like fake watercolor pigment that a child gets for Christmas on sub-par printer paper.

It’s a feeling of feeling temporarily stuck, tires spinning in anticipation of AAA to show up.

You feel?

that time we found out we had bedbugs

I’m pretty sure we discovered them by accident.

For a little over a week and a half I had noticed itchy red bumps covering my arms and wrapping around my torso and lower back.

Oh, it’s poison ivy! I thought.

Nope.

Oh, it’s just some flea bites from my boyfriend’s roommate’s flea-ridden dog long overdue for flea medication!

Nope.

Nonetheless I took proactive measures and washed my sheets. When I took them out of the dryer, a few bugs fell out on the floor.

Gross, I know.

I thought they were dead fleas.

Yay! At least I killed a couple in the wash!

It wasn’t until we went to Walmart to get insecticide for fleas and ransacked Google for DIY remedies safe for dogs when we saw the image of a bedbug on a black and purple spray can. I had never seen a bedbugs in my life, mind you. But here we were, nonetheless, staring at a purple can of bug poison and that’s when it hit me that the picture I was staring at was *not* a flea I had seen on the floor.

Fast forward to arriving back at the apartment and inspecting the mattress and box spring, just for kicks.

Little brown dots and creepy-crawly bedbugs of varying sizes and stages in the life cycle wandered around aimlessly around the rims of the box spring, clearly disturbed by all of the commotion.

“Oh my god,” my roomies and I said in unison.

Well, all of us except one of us.

My other roomie, who is 1000% averse to any kind of bug, was still at work. We had yet to break the news to her. We wondered just how we would do that. She was going to flip the duck out.

We came up with the idea of making her some chicken nuggets and having a stiff drink waiting for her when she opened the door.

We raced around the apartment, tidying up, cooking frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave [because our stove was broken. That’s…another story altogether. There’s a lot of things wrong with where we live], and downing a couple shots [you know, for quality control].

We hung a sign on the front door that said “please ring doorbell” and threw the safety latch on the door so we would know when she was home and so she wouldn’t be able to get in right away. She arrived 2 mins before the nuggets were done.

“UM you have to wait two more minutes!” Liana yelled out as the doorbell rang.

When the nuggets were done [first and fore-mostly] we let her in, and didn’t let her cross the threshold until she’d taken a drink.

It was when we were all huddled in the kitchen, conversing [albeit a bit sloppily—my other roomies and I had already been a few drinks ahead], and me recording the whole thing on my camera, that Liana broke the news:

We raised our glasses in a toast:

“CHEERS TO BEDBUGS!!” yelled Liana.

“CHEERS TO….I’m sorry—what….?”

The look of disbelief on her face was both golden and ultra depressing, and, also a really foreboding glimpse into weeks of terrible communication lapses with our property management, sleepless nights in beds other than our own, and money leaping out of our wallets to cover the expense of pests that don’t even discriminate by level of cleanliness….

…all in time for midterm exams. (-:

the gift of summer

I had around 114 days for myself this summer.

That’s 2,736 hours.

2,736 hours divided amongst sleeping, working, combating racing thoughts, sulking, compulsively switching between one distraction after another, hiding, and asking myself why more times than I can count.

2,736 hours shelled out for thinking, praying, reading, writing, feeling, showering, connecting, creating, laughing, driving, cleaning, juggling time, sunburning, rejoicing in the small joys of the day, and *learning*.

I think about how much piled up angst I had *cringe*, the lack of patience and inability to see direction that I started out with this summer. I just wanted to get out and leave and shake off every inconvenience that had dirtied my hands in those 2,736 hours.

It wasn’t until the last 2 weeks before I headed back to school, those 336 hours, on my hands and knees in practically every room of my house partaking in a massive family-team cleaning spree that I realized I had squandered some of those precious minutes, that a lot of what my heart was chasing was disguised as something else, that I still could be blessed with the powers of healing and reconciliation, that I could be graced with the opportunity to learn from opposition.

I felt as if this summer were a revelation for me. A waterfall of revelations, actually, even in the darkest corners.

There were friendly surprises (that at times, were literal friend people), and odd (yet curiously encouraging) circumstances.

There were moments encapsulated by the living beauty of where I spent my growing up, from sunrise to sunset and under the stars, racing past with the windows down.

There was a lot of joy.

I really can’t fit into one post just how much I learned about myself this summer, how much I got reacquainted with the things I love, or just how much I surprised myself with spurts of determination and the courage to try new things.

Next thing I know, I’m waking up in a room that is mine, homemade by my sweat, handyman skills (lol so many screws), and the odd obsession with the color #59c69f–all with the realization that the bliss of summer succumbs yet again tomorrow to a morning that starts it all at 9am.

I feel heavy, satiated.

Excited, anxious.

But I feel ready, thanks to the gift of this summer.

Lyfted

I don’t often use taxi service, but when I do, it’s either Uber or Lyft.

[For those hard core friends and fans out there who know I’ve been busting my butt for a car the past 3 months???] 2 days ago, I went a little ways to go check one out, but didn’t have a way to get there, as all my friends were off living their best summer lives [which I completely understand lol] and my father [who is quite a fan of the make of car I was seeking] was working some long hours.

So I took Lyft.

Normally, I use Uber, but the people at Lyft must have really wanted my business in the past year or so because I had all these promotional emails so I thought I’d give it a shot, like it can’t be that different, right?

The guy pulled up on time, happy and smiling when I got in the car.

As we got underway, we opted for the usual small talk [my friend reminded me of the following meme]:

But then we shifted to talking about kids, and work. I told him I was nannying this summer and my driver got lost in his nostalgia, talking about he had grown up playing outside with his friends, climbing trees and chasing animals back home, not with an iPad in front of his face.

We agreed that kids these days are growing up in a different world, that it’s just something we have to combat. And I think that’s when our conversation started to blossom.

I, unlike the above meme, don’t want to make the ride feel uncomfortably tense… I asked my driver if driving was a side gig for him and then he told me about how he was going to school for aviation but absolutely hated it, and wants to be a programmer instead, and drives in the meantime to build up the money for that additional schooling.

“I just didn’t have passion for it anymore. Once you lose that, it’s hard to keep going in the work,” he said. I told him I felt him on a really deep level with that one… that all I wished for was to be happy in my work life… And we agreed that it’s never too late to do that kind of three-point turn away from something you had pursued previously to pursue a completely different path. Sure, it can be expensive, but it’s doable.

“But I like the people,” he continued in that warm, rich Jamaican accent that reminded me of one of my middle school teachers. “I get to drive with people from everywhere, different cultures, different backgrounds, different traditions… and I get to share that with them in the ride. I’ve been able to drive a lot of fascinating people around, and sometimes I’ll ask what they do, and they’ll tell me and sometimes it’s fascinating work, and if I’m interested in it I get to ask them all sorts of questions, so it’s like this great way of networking, too.”

He then told me about his favorite food chains in the area [I hadn’t eaten yet and I’d mentioned how good something from McDonalds or chipotle would be at that moment] and he laughingly told me about his love for hot sauce.

Once I got where I was going, he dropped me off, he waved goodbye, and we wished each other well.

It’s crazy how that works—neither of us will probably ever see each other again.

But I understood then what he meant, about enjoying driving right now because he got to connect with people, if only for a moment, along their path from point A to point B.

“If everybody could have these talks with strangers like this,” he wondered aloud. “Wouldn’t the world be a little better place to live in?”

xx

this is what it feels like.

I fly

rebellious, jubilant, unabashedly

across four lanes

downhill in an affluent ghost town

the wind races through the hair that is woven tightly, threatening to liberate it

as I throw my arms out

like I’m at the front of my ship

the captain of my destiny, with my own Celine Dion soundtrack.

there is Jack-shit behind me.

Hovering above me are dots: gleaming balls of fire unencumbered by clouds

that I stupidly take for granted every single night

as I waste away

right on schedule

in front of synthetic blue light

searching for all that can’t be found

but I shove my world in my back pocket

until further notice

I am the captain of my time

the commander of my soul

and I give it

a much needed vacation.

hunger.

When I was a kid I love love LOVED the first day of school.

Everything felt new, it was a time to start over, and, believe it or not, indulge in being able to learn after my brain felt like it had conked out over the summer. I loved learning.

The last few years of high school, however, I did not feel this excitement. Especially my senior year. I remember waking up and thinking “do I have to…?” I felt lost in the day to day grueling hours under artificially lit rooms, like I was roaming around on auto pilot sitting for this AP exam, that SAT, that quiz, etc.

I know many people look back at their last year through rosy lenses thinking about all of the fun and seemingly unbeatable memories… While I can’t deny there were some awesome highlights, the majority of that year for me was like a “okay, let’s get this done with so we can move on” kind of thing. I was fed up with the sphere I’d been stuck in for 12+ years and just wanted to break out.

Looking back on it now, I suspect a lot of these feelings were closely intertwined with some depressive symptoms, mixed with all of the stress and unnecessary (at times) pressures that existed within my school/home environment.

All that aside… I feel things changing.

I can feel excitement creeping in, leaking into my life slowly as I realize that in a little over a month I will be back, in my own space, at home, embarking on a course study I’ve been waiting ALL TWO YEARS to be able to do. A course study that keeps me up at night, that nags at me from a distant corner of my brain during the work day, constantly provoking me to push forward, to think forward, to aim higher than I know I have in the past.

And so here I am, still awake at this hella late hour, trying but failing to sleep because I’m just thinking about everything. EVARYTHING.

It feels as if I’m finally able to take the reins I’ve had my eyes on for quite some time… and it feels ah-MAZING. (:

xx