Homework and Feises and Blogs…oh my!

Good morning, dear readers!
I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for sticking around. Huge thanks for the awards, laughs, tears, and encouragement! I love this little corner of the universe to death, and I’m infinitely grateful to it. Things have been a bit nuts, so I just wanted to take a second to let you know what’s going on here. As I’m plummeting into the Year of the Homework, you can expect long stretches of no-posting, but hopefully I’ll still be able to read some of your spectacular pieces.

Year of the Homework....I don't even get a parade.

Year of the Homework….I don’t even get a parade.

In addition to my unreasonable teachers’ demands, feis season is looming overhead, and I’m basically putting myself through boot camp every spare moment I have. I mean that literally, guys.

EVERY

MINUTE.

You’d be amazed by the number of dance steps I can do while tying up my hair in the morning. (You may not, however, be amazed by my hair’s appearance…) If I don’t place in at least one category, we’ll have a problem.

I WANT THE SHINIES.

^ Goal

Due to the great fun (*sarcasm*) of balancing school work, volunteering, my club leadership roles, dance, and all the other random crap I get stuck with, unfortunately Moxie in the Making will be forced into last priority. I don’t like it, but that’s how it is at least for a few months. If I’m posting more than weekly, someone should probably yell at me, because there’s no legal way for me to post frequently and keep up with everything else I should be doing. As it is, I’m typing this up at super speed in a study period before I do my actual work. You’re welcome, friends. This is love.

The moral of this roughly-composed story is that I love you, and if you miss hearing from me, know that I miss spending time with myself and all of you, too. My schedule is not very conducive to breathing or just being with all the important people in my life. I’ll be back soon, but, in the meantime, I need this leave of absence for my sanity. If I were posting, you’d mostly be hearing about ignorant teachers and the ridiculousness of teenage girls all needing to go the bathroom together, and neither of those are particularly revolutionary topics anyway. Mostly, they’re just bitter and cynical and stressful.

I’ll be back once I catch my breath. I promise.

I just need to learn how to breathe. I’ll get there, guys; I always do.

With love,
Erin

P.S. For all of you lovely people who care about whether or not my schedule is healthy, let me put your concerns to rest. It’s not. But this is high school with six honors classes. It’s just something you have to get through, right? (Please say “yes.”) As far as de-stressing goes, my sister convinced me to try a restorative yoga class with her, but they kept telling me to keep my eyes closed and empty my mind. It made me really antsy and more stressed, because I couldn’t do either! I can’t NOT think, and I had to open my eyes to make sure I was doing everything right!! So, yeah, we’re going to go with the time management and dancing plan, not the deep breathing crap. That just doesn’t work for me.

P.P.S. I’m not proofreading this. Sorry, but I don’t have time!

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“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”
Leonard Bernstein

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”
Tina Fey

“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.”
Jane Wagner

Liebster Award

I’m so, so, so excited to accept a Liebster award from the exceptional and positively “fab” Books and Mascara!

In order to accept this award, I have a little work to do. :) Here are her questions for me and my answers.

1) A book that you can read countless times for the rest of your life and still not get tired of?
Oh wow, there are a few…definitely Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, but also The Little Prince and most of JK Rowling’s. I tend to adore Jodi Picoult, too, but I eventually run out of tissues and need to move on.

2) Thoughts on book to movie adaptations?
Bad. Very bad, but understandably so. It must be incredibly difficult to put all the author’s magic on screen, where you can’t say what the character is thinking or develop relationships as subtly. I just watched Divergent and I still liked the movie, but it pales next to the book.

3) What is your favorite thing about writing?
Sometimes, I think I have to write to figure out why I feel a certain way or even how I’m feeling, so I absolutely value that insight. It’s my version of therapy, but much less expensive. I’m also a huge fan of the ability to communicate something important to a relatively large group of people and open up crucial conversations or gain other perspectives. I talk about my readers as part of this awesome community of acceptance trying to figure out life together, and I really believe that’s true.

4) How long have you been writing for?
In a way, I think I always have. (Sorry. I know that’s cliché.) When I was little, I’d lie in bed, creating beautiful worlds for my dreams to dwell in – worlds where I was always safe and brave and happy and usually my own heroine. I’d love to go back and stay in those stories for awhile! (But my blog is a baby. It started in February 2014.)

5) As far as writing goes, do you prefer superfluous, extravagant writing or more simpler, concise writing that gets the point across in the same way?
I think it depends on what you’re writing about. I’m in a bit of a relationship with figurative language and tend to use a lot of it, but I also like reading pieces that grab your attention roughly and hold it with the sheer force of truth.

6) Would you choose a mediocre life with one person who means the world to you, or a fame-filled life with admirers everywhere, but no love?
A mediocre life with love. I’d rather have the relationships that matter.

7) Some of your favorite songs/artists? (it’s tough choosing one, so go ahead and choose a few) Link a playlist if you have one?
Oh gosh; it depends on the day. Anything P!nk is a definite favorite, but I also like Tenth Avenue North and OneRepublic. Foxes’ Beauty Queen and this adorable video would make it onto my playlist as well. I’m also slowing becoming addicted to Missy Higgins thanks to Emily (one of my nominees!). When I’m dancing, Sham Rock’s “Tell Me Ma” is my go-to energy music.


8) Would you rather know everything but not be skilled, or be extremely great at one skill and suck at everything else?

Without a doubt, I’d rather be skilled at one thing, but only if that one thing can be love. I think once you’re good at that, you’re forgiving and patient and confident (self-love), and that sounds like a pretty great deal to me.

9) Name one thing people generally don’t like about you which you can justify from your point of view.
I don’t know what you’re talking about. People love everything about me. (*Sarcasm.*) Well, I have a wee bit of a temper and am a ‘hardcore’ feminist. (I’m not really “hardcore,” whatever that means.) Those two kind of go together. Honestly, I just value the sanctity of life (and the respect it deserves) exponentially and get extremely passionate about it. I should probably learn to keep my cool, but at least I know what I stand for and get crap done! I’m a fantastic person to have on your side.

10) Name one thing people love about you but you dislike.
I get called cute a lot. It kind of bugs me, because I’d much rather be bright or bold or talented or strong or courageous or just about anything else. Cute makes me feel weak and like some helpless little princess, and I am anything but that. (Or at least I hope I am.)

11) One sentence that describes your life, goals, aspirations, past experiences, anything really.
To describe my life: It goes on.

Alrightey, now I get to pick up to eleven bloggers with small tribes (under 200) to give them this award and ask them my eleven questions. (I’m sorry. These are cheesey questions, but I tried…)

On Hating People, Sarah Louise Thorn, Not an Adventurist, Bumbles Books , Lemon Peel , Filtered Light , Sarah Phoenix, Inksplashstories, Emily, thank you for sharing your brilliance with all of us! Here are your questions:

1) If you could live in any memory you have (or go back to visit for a few hours), what would it be?

2) Favorite quote/motto?

3) What’s your pet peeve?

4) If you could have any pet, what would it be?

5) Would you rather have your dream job or your dream house?

6) Where do you write best? (In quiet, surrounded by chaos, sitting in a tree, at the beach, etc.)

7) Who are your favorite authors now? Have they changed in the past five years?

8) What’s your favorite thing about yourself?

9) If you’ve read Divergent what faction would you be in? If you haven’t, you should, but what Hogwarts house would you be in? (If you don’t know either…explain why you’ve failed to read those amazing series. This explanation better be good.)

10) What TV character(s) would you want to be best friends with?

11) Do you plan your thoughts out before you write or just let the story take you where it may?

Your turn! Nominees, if you’d like to accept this award, please answer the questions above (or different ones…I probably won’t notice). Then, you can nominate some brilliant bloggers of your own! Make sure to let them know they’ve been nominated!

(Nominees are supposed to have under 200 followers and have been blogging for under 2 years, but I’m a rebel, so I didn’t check how old people’s blogs are.)

Once again, a huge thank you to Books and Mascara and all my charming readers!

A Very Different Beginning

This is my quickwrite response to the Opening Lines writing prompt. (I know it’s late, but I just found the prompt today. They refuse to appear in my Reader for some reason.) The first lines are the last few songs I’ve listened to tonight. Did anyone else write one of these? :)

4:09pm

Way down, in New York town, thinking about the way he loved me, I was sitting alone on a park bench.

I checked my phone every ten seconds like clockwork. No texts. No calls. Nothing. I left him two messages and six texts. I ran my hands through my hair seven times and redid my lip stick twice. He hadn’t called me once since last night, when he asked me to meet him here.

Maybe he was trying to tell me something…I never thought he’d be so cruel or end things so harshly, but he had been acting strange the past few days…

I couldn’t wait forever. I thought he loved me, but maybe I was wrong…I pulled out a tattered receipt from my purse, scrawled “2 hours. I’m not waiting forever, John. Call me,” stuck it to the bench with gum, and walked away. I wasn’t going down that road again.

4:20pm

Well grey clouds wrapped round the town like elastic. Not exactly a promising omen. I sat under the willow tree, flowers in hand, urging the rain to hold off. Why wasn’t she here yet? I left the clues in all the important places – where we met, our first kiss, the fountain ledge we danced on at 2am (I dropped my phone there the first time and I was so nervous I did it again…hopefully it’s good luck!), that ice cream store we went everyday for three weeks because we didn’t want to rush into the pressures of dinner dates – it was all planned out perfectly and ready for her. A whole scavenger hunt to bring her here: where she agreed to date me and will, hopefully, agree to marry me.

God, I hope she’s okay.

5:22pm

Hello? Hello? Are you even listening to me? Jeremy look!! Jeremy! Jeremy, come here!”

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing! But there’s the most romantic thing! There’s a note for some girl here. Her boyfriend set up a scavenger hunt for her to find him! Oh gosh, he has a surprise! I bet he’s proposing right now! Isn’t that the sweetest thing? I swear, you’d never think of anything like that, would you? Well? What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Well, I don’t think it worked out very well for him.”

“Why would you say something like that? I bet she was thrilled! I mean, how romantic!”

“There’s a note on that bench across the way. It’s completely on the other side of the park. She must have gone to the wrong one, thought he’d stood her up and left.”

“Or maybe he went to the wrong one! It’s always the guy’s fault, Jeremy. Always. Why do insist on blaming the women in your life? I swear, sometimes I just think you don’t even care!…”

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Prompt Response: Waking Up Dead

She went to sleep thinking of forgotten hopes,
Wishes she’d refused to acknowledge with prayers they’d disappear.
She lay there worried and scared and sore from all those hours running through life,
All that sparring with her enemies, friends and self alike.
She closed her eyes on her waking dreams
In hopes the nocturnal ones would be more practical.
They weren’t.
And she woke up dead.

This is inspired by a prompt to use the line “I woke up dead” (I changed it to “she woke up dead”) somewhere in a poem. Feel free to try one for yourself, and link back here so I’ll see it!

Also, if anyone is looking for some supremely awesome poetry (warning: it may make you horribly jealous), my dear friend has this blog you need to check out. Seriously, you have no idea what you’re missing. She has one of the best poetry blogs I’ve found, and she’s a high schooler. You need this in your life. I adore all of her pieces, but here are some good starting points: try her newest and this and this, and leave her some love!

The Confusing Adventures of Being a Real-Life Person

When you come into my blog, you will find a real person. You will not find a perfect Barbie doll or prophet or sage. You’ll find a teenage girl, who really struggles to keep her crap in order and loses important things like sanity, keys and her left shoe on a frighteningly regular basis.

I’m not sure why, but these little truths are sometimes confusing for people. As an openly Christian blogger who doesn’t write solely religious material, I can end up in a weird position. People don’t really know what to make of me. (FYI, I don’t know what to make of me either. Maybe we can compare notes.)

Occasionally you’ll see references to my faith on here, but I must shamefully admit that there’s not much. A handful of funny church stories and a few posts here and there for Easter (actually, I think I may have even deleted that) and such. You don’t see the ups and downs of my relationship with Christ or my favorite Bible verses.

You hear a lot more about my struggles. You see the dark days – I open up my grief, my bad habits, my fears, my stupidity, my anger, my jealousy – and I let you drift through those snippets. I let you peer through a lot of disaster. Sometimes, the words are raw and tear-stained. Other times, they’re shrouded by sarcasm and bitter laughter. Either way, they tell a story that isn’t all too pretty. They follow a girl who’s had some messy stuff happen to her, but prefers to leave a good bit of it unsaid. She’s clearly a minor disaster, but she’s making it through, so I guess that’s all that can be expected. What you don’t always see is how I make it through. You don’t see the nights I spend curled up in prayer, begging for the God I love to mend my broken heart once again. You don’t see the highlighted sections of my Bible, blurred where tears have fallen over the years.

Sometimes, you see a lot of joy. You listen to me proclaim the discovery of my spirit animal and shout to high Heaven that I adore my friends and life experiences. You watch me dance through streets and tilt my head back in the rain, because I love the feeling of it pouring over me. Things get a bit corny and immature at times, but that’s part of the whole humanity thing. Yet, again, there’s so much more you don’t get to read about. You don’t hear about the God who gives me this much joy by loving me and freeing me from my past. You don’t hear about the nights I’ve just sat there, thinking how badly things could have gone and how much I owe to Him.

I open a lot up to you guys and accept your judgment for it, with the hope that you know what you’re signing up for when you subscribe. There’s a whole lot of humanity on these pages, but I can assure you there’s even more behind the scenes – for one thing, far more mistakes are being made than I will ever want to share with you. I’m a terribly imperfect creature, but that’s okay. I’m trying.

But sometimes people don’t understand that my imperfections don’t make me any less Christian. Sometimes, people get really, really confused. They think Christians are perfect and Holy, or they’re not really Christians. They think that, in order to be religious, you must not make mistakes- at least not moral ones. They think God loves perfect people and condemns all sinners to Hell. But, friends, that’s not love. Love is unconditional. It doesn’t abandon you when you make your first mistake. Love never leaves and will wait for us to deal with our issues and return its embrace for as long as we need it to. Sometimes, we wait so long that we forget it’s still holding us in its arms, but it never lets go. “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Love is Christlike. God is love. He would never give up on us, because we sometimes like to swear or forget to pray before eating breakfast. Jesus’ family tree included prostitutes, thieves and murderers, so I think I’m doing pretty okay. There’s nothing any of us can do that will surprise Him. (Sometimes I think I tick Him off a bit, but I never surprise Him – and He always forgives me!) Friends, I don’t care what religion you are or where you stand on evolution or homosexuality or whatever the hell else you associate with Catholic concerns. I do want to tell you one thing, however, and I want you to listen to it very carefully.

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Are you ready?

Okay. Here it goes:

God is still with us. Even if we’re not perfect.

No matter what is happening, He’s still there. When I’m sad or afraid or angry, He’s there to comfort me. When I’m thrilled beyond belief, He’s there to happy dance beside me. He doesn’t expect perfection, because He created us and understands humanity and all its stupid ways. It’s because of our imperfections, not in spite of them, that we’re often called to do His work. No matter who you are or what you believe in, that’s fine. That’s totally up to you and I’m really not into judging people’s choices. I do think, however, that we all have to do our very best to treat one another honestly. Let me start. I’m honestly telling you that I often suck at life, but God has never given up on me. I’m honestly trying desperately to explain that Christians look like everyone else. They aren’t perfect. They don’t always know their scripture very well or discuss philosophy in their free time or work at Hobby Lobby. They don’t always wear crosses or sing hymns or have ten years experience as altar boys. They’re trying to make life work, just like everybody else. The (honest) Christians out there are really, really trying to love unconditionally, surrender themselves to Him and share the awesome with everyone, and that’s all He asks of us. If it’s good enough for Jesus, I think it’s good enough for the rest of us, too, right? Let’s try our very best to expect more than cookie cutter personalities, and try to forgive one another when we don’t meet expectations, okay?

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We don’t all look like this.

 

  

 

 

Thanks, friends; I appreciate it.

Imperfectly,
Erin

“Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old,… and Lazarus was dead. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED!”

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, I used everything you gave me.”
Erma Bombeck

You may have noticed I turned into a sheep.

Yeah, I’m a sheep now.

Since you’re all (*ridiculous generalizations coming, brace yourselves*) the observant, introverted writer types, I have no doubt someone will notice I changed my Gravatar profile image. It’s no longer a cute little quote about dancing in the rain.

Instead it’s a (rather adorable) picture I took of a black sheep. There’s kind of a sweet story for why, so I’m hoping you’ll like my choice.

While I was in Ireland a few weeks ago, there were sheep everywhere.

Seriously, everywhere.

Sheep.

Sheep.

In fact, we were driving around the Ring of Kerry, when this little, fluffy sheep came hopping down the road. Hopping. Like a giant rabbit stuck in a cotton ball. There was another sheep next to it that was just meandering along, probably judging its friend’s eccentric joy. I loved this little, hopping sheep, though. It was like my spirit animal, and I wanted to take it home.

But I couldn’t do that. It wasn’t my sheep, and I decided not to be convicted of sheep-napping. That’s just an awkward thing to have on your record. Instead, I have pictures of it and I’m using them as reminders to always be furiously happy and dance like no one is watching. I want to let myself be happy, even when it doesn’t seem like there’s much to smile about or the other ‘sheep’ don’t understand. There are no sweet clichés on my picture anymore, but there is a whole lot of meaning for me personally (in a really weird, slightly concerning way), and I’m hoping some of you will be able to find truth in it as well. I was going to do a longer, more elaborate post on it, but sometimes, I think it’s better to just declare it your spirit animal and call it a day.

 As a side note, unfortunately, the actual sheep photo would not load properly onto Gravitar, so this is a different sheep. It’s still kind of an odd creature – plus it’s a black sheep – and I think it was posing for the pictures, so it works just as well. Additionally, I’ve decided he or she needs a name. If anyone has suggestions, please let me hear them!

(Also, I don’t own this sheep – I just took the picture – so I apologize if it’s your sheep…)

Our new mascot!

Our new mascot!

 

UPDATE: The sheep’s current name is Nara (which means happy!!). It can have a middle name, too, though, so feel free to keep the brilliant ideas coming. In other news, I found this video of a hopping sheep for your amusement.

Tales of Drunken Youth

(I’ve kind of thrown any writing style expectations a curve ball today, so you’ll see my thoughts in italics as I go. Enjoy the glimpse into my brain! Try not to get lost in there…it’s a bit terrifying.)

Well, they won’t be seeing enough of it to get lost, just a glimpse. It’s like they’re peering through my mind’s living room window…that’s really creepy. I should get some shades for it. Let’s not say that…

Wine can be pretty powerful the first time you have it, huh?

I swear I’m not a hard core party animal or anything.

I went to church.

I should probably disclose these stories aren’t that recent…why am I even telling them now? The time I met a drug dealer on a Girl Scout trip would be a better option…

My aunt runs the First Communion program at our parish and is a firm believer in having kids practice before they partake in the Sacrament. That includes trying the unconsecrated bread and wine.

Why? Well, because she thinks if they don’t try it in advance, they’ll have wine for the first time at mass and spit Jesus blood all over the altar. That’d be so bad…I wonder if she’d make them lick it up…

Church wine isn’t good. That’s just a fact of life. So, for most kids, they try it once, make a face and don’t practice with the wine again.

Except, when they like the wine.

I doesn’t happen often, but every once in awhile, we get a second grader who’s ready to move on from juice boxes.

At one of these practices, there was a little boy (henceforth known as Grapes) who quite enjoyed the “special juice.” When Grapes had it, his first reaction was a huge smile and informing the teacher how delicious it was. That’s not a good sign. Nobody likes church wine…

When Aunt asked if anyone would like to practice again, he jumped up.

“ME! I do!” he yelled.

(After scolding him on using an appropriate volume inside the church) Aunt let Grapes and a few others go through again, most not taking the wine the second time. She continued this five more times, not paying much mind to who was or wasn’t drinking the wine. Then, she sent all the kids home with their parents (who, by the way, were there the entire time).

Later that night she got a call from Grapes’ mom.

“Hey, Grapes might have had a bit too much wine today…” she said, stifling her laughter.

“What do you mean? Is everything okay?” Aunt asked.

“Yeah, but, um, Dad’s taking him to soccer right now. When I told him it was time to go, he twirled around in a circle waving his socks in the air and said ‘Let’s gooooo to soooccer!’” she imitated in her best drunken child voice.

I hope no one has heard that voice before?…

“Oh my gosh. *ahem* I’m so *snort* sorry!” Aunt giggled.

“It should be an interesting game! I don’t think he can even walk in a straight line!” she cackled back.

“Oh geez, you’ll have to tell his coach he got drunk at church!”

“At least we know how much is too much at rehearsal now! He must have taken it every time…Geez, he’s going to drink the church dry on his First Communion!”

Grapes is one happy kid now. Not only is he fed by the Holy Spirit every Sunday, he also enjoys his fix of church wine.

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^ “Don’t tell Mommy I drank the whole chalice.” (Sorry, my captions aren’t behaving.)

This child enjoys it much more than I do…heck, the first time I had it…

I, on the other hand, feel quite differently about the wine situation. At my church, there’s no expectation you’ll take it, so I generally don’t. However, it’s not like that at all churches. I went on a mission trip a few years ago with a Lutheran group (I’m Catholic) and we visited another Lutheran church for mass. Now, I, being a rather obsessive person, grilled the people I was with on whether or not I was allowed to take Communion and how that whole process worked in their faith.  I did my homework. Everyone I asked told me about how we’d all go up together and kneel on the altar, but that receiving Communion would be similar to what I was familiar with and not to worry about it. I was still pretty nervous I’d screw up,

-or cough and spit Jesus on the floor. It’s a reoccurring fear.-

but I figured there was nothing more to ask and quietly listened to the priest’s homily. When it was time, I got up to the altar and knelt down without catastrophe, so I was feeling pretty okay with the situation.

Things always go badly when you start to feel confident.

Then, the priest came over with this huge tray of what looked like Dixie cups of wine arranged in rings. I awkwardly took one and waited for the person next to me to take hers, too.

Weirdly enough, I was wondering whether the cup you took would reveal something about you. I was hoping I’d get to read tea leaves or something after I drank it…

Now I was conflicted. Were we supposed to wait for each other and drink it once we all had one, or should I just drink it now? I decided to just get it over with, so I took a sip, and then immediately regretted that this was the first time I’d ever had wine.

I was in a strange church with people I didn’t know very well, and I was painfully close to spitting Jesus.

Seriously, though, am I the only one who’s petrified this will eventually happen?

I closed my eyes and swallowed, drinking as much out of my cup as I could (without spitting it out). Then, he came back with a tray for us to put cups on and gave me a slightly unchristian look when he saw the trickle of wine left in the cup.

So much for no judgment.

Okay, fine. I admit it. It was significantly more than a trickle. Still, the judgment was not necessary.

I smiled apologetically and walked back to my pew.

My Lutheran friend leaned over to me once we had sat down, “I can’t believe you took the wine!” she whispered, slightly scandalized.

“What do you mean? Was I not supposed to?” I started to panic, picturing it as some horrible sign of disrespect, since I was not Lutheran and had participated in their Sacrament.

“No, it’s fine! But the inner rings had cream soda!” she laughed.

Oh my gosh. I just risked spewing wine (aka Jesus blood, in my faith) all over this priest I don’t know when I could have been drinking soda??

Peachy.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me that?” I whispered back and we both had to bite our lips to stop laughing.

So, then I had not only taken the wine when there was soda, I was also whispering and laughing in church.

Yup, that’s how you should act in a new parish… (*sarcasm*)

Not to mention the fact that my brain was feeling a bit foggy on my way out of the church…I guess I know what my choice in cups reveals about me. I shouldn’t take up drinking.

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Think of me as you get ready for church tomorrow, and remember- don’t spit Jesus blood!

You people think I’m kidding, but it actually is one of my biggest fears…

I really should have told the Girl Scout story instead. Or maybe the one about that time I met a prostitute. Or when I was compared to a pole dancer… Geez. I had better options, didn’t I?

Reasons to Love Vacation Bible School

1) The preschoolers’ jokes

“Why’d the chicken cross the road?
Because there was a dinosaur!”

2) The emotions described through comics

“Do you read Garfield? ‘Cause I’m thinking of this one where he’s looking at the Jon’s food with really big eyes and Jon tells him to stop it, so Garfield ‘changes’ his expression by smiling really, super big, but he’s still eyeing the food. Then, Jon says he’s lost his appetite, so Garfield can have the food.”

*eyes Goldfish*

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I couldn't find the comic strip, so you get this creepy image instead.

3) The music…and dances

Oh, the permanently plastered smiles and goofy dancing with fellow counselors…

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It looks a lot like this, except I'm not that tall (or a middle-aged man).

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There's also some of this.

4) Using the Bible lesson of the day to get everyone to do what you want

I got a counselor a year older than me to stop singling out my camper that didn’t want to dance (she’s really shy so her motions were very small) by talking about how we learned Jesus wants us to be inclusive and ranting about lepers. He’s scared of me now. I see no problem with this. :D (Also, I swear the leper thing was related. It made sense. Mostly.)

5) Learning valuable first aid skills through experience

ie. How to get yogurt out of a child’s eye (Yes, her eye. And nose. And possibly ear. Bet that’s never come up in your first aid course.)

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These stupid tubes were responsible for a lot of my troubles.

6) My third graders’ new counting system

“Pick a number between 1 and 4.”
“5!”
Between 1 and 4.”
“8!”
“…”

7) Camp T-shirts

The back of mine says “WWJD?”. My answer? John 2:15. (Which is “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,”) Jesus chased people with whips and flipped tables. That’s what He’d do.

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:D

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The above shirt is actually my sister’s, but we basically did the same thing.

8)…Hearing that, still, despite my cynicism, Jesus loves me! ;)

“Make a list! It fixes everything!” Not.

You know how when you don’t know what to write people tell you to make a list of ideas?  Well, I decided to do that today. Unfortunately, my bullets turned into monologues on random thoughts, but they still don’t want to become solitary posts. As a result, I’m just posting my list. I think it’s pretty entertaining to laugh at my struggles, as unedited as they may be. (If you want me to expand on anything, let me know, and I will!)

 

  • I tried to put cereal in the freezer today (an entire box)…and dropped candle wax under my dresser. (Well, Scentsy wax) Then, I went to a store and risked breaking expensive items.

  • Vacation Bible School is coming up, and I already know 90% of the kids I’m working with from last year. One of them asked for my phone number yesterday. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to work with any of the counselors I was hoping to work with, just because of the logistics. I’m a “veteran” counselor now, which makes it sound like I survived a war (but I kinda did…), so I’ll be paired with a newbie. My particular newbie will be there very late every single day and may or may not even show up, which is going to be great fun. (*sarcasm*) He’s the little brother of the counselor I worked with last year, though, and is a pretty awesome kid. Still, I’ll be alone with many young children who mostly already know me and constantly want my attention. This should be interesting. Luckily, they also already know my ground rules. (1. Only use kind words and be polite and friendly to everyone. Our group is a family for the week. 2. Listen to me. Seriously, just listen the first time, and we’ll all be a lot happier in the long run. 3. Try everything, even if you might not like it. 4. Bring a positive attitude everyday. 5. No picking your nose or other germy activities that will force me to ask you to wash your hands. 6. No injuries. I don’t clean up blood.)

  • This morning, I had to call my deceased grandmother’s bank, because she wrote me a check for my Confirmation before she passed away and I hadn’t deposited it yet, so I wasn’t sure if I still could. I didn’t really care about the money, but it would be a problem if my grandfather saw it wasn’t deposited. Good news, I still can. It’s not too late.

  • I wrote a really decent post last night, but I’m saving it for when I lose the will to write. Right now, I want to write, but I have a lot of ideas swarming through my brain and they just can’t decide who is going to be written next. They’re all arguing about who’s turn it is like freakin’ annoying toddlers.

  • I don’t use real swears very often on this blog, mostly because I’m under 18 and I have this weird notion that swearing in front of strangers is an adult privilege. Also, I don’t swear in real life (usually). Once I turn 18, the writing part of that might change. I’m betting a lot will change actually- my birthday may result in tsunamis and typhoons and all kinds of ugly. I’ll warn you in advance.

  • There’s a beach ball on my neighbor’s lawn and I’m pretty sure I want to play with it more than my dog does. It’s just sitting there, balancing on the edge of the hill, begging to be volleyed over their net.

  • I was jokingly fighting with my sister yesterday (who works in a kindergarten) and I screamed “I’ll bite you!” in a truly childish fashion (intentionally). She responded with “Use your words, Erin!” but I’m pretty sure that saying “I’ll bite you!” counts as using your words.

  • I have a bunch of new followers, so I should probably write one of those cute intros people do when they hit milestones (over 150 now! Woohoo!) but I usually don’t think those posts are terribly interesting, and I have no idea what to say. Can we pretend this counts? I bet it reveals a lot about me…

 

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
Charles Bukowski,

“Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is write it down at the proper time, otherwise it’s lost.”
Thomas Bernhard

 

 

 

 

Giving 110%: Otherwise known as impossible, crappy expectations I have no intentions of fulfilling

I can’t give 110%.

I will never be able to give 110%.

It doesn’t matter if you beg or flatter or offer bribes. The simple fact is that there is no 110% of love or effort or determination. I only have 100% to give, and I’m not so sure any person should even get that.

A couple of years ago I had this surprisingly insightful conversation with my fencing coach. (Yeah, I fenced. I also took karate, and I’m a damn good shot with a bow. You better play nice. ;) ) I was still fairly new, but I was determined and hardworking. That gets you pretty far in itself, but mostly he was just a great coach and was constantly offering me new challenges.

After explaining one of them, he  asked “Are you going to give me 110%, Erin?”

“Yes, sir,” I promised immediately.

“No, you’re not. That was a trick question. Where do you plan on finding an extra 10%? You only have 100%. You’re human. Heck, I don’t even want you to give me the 100%. Only give me 90. Save something for yourself.”

I’m human. I “only have 100%.”

Have you ever heard someone ask you for less than you’re offering? People always, always want more, but, after a point, there’s nothing more to give. Coach knew I was giving him my all, and that was what worried him. He also knew I needed to give myself permission to take a break or goof off or just simply stop trying to be perfect. I needed permission to breathe for the sake of breathing, without an ulterior, productive goal. And do you know what happened when I gave myself that permission? I realized how capable I was. I looked around the room while I was *breathing* and saw that I could hold my own against my more experienced peers. I allowed myself to have enough confidence to be happy with my progress, and I also made some lifelong friends. I found out that breathing can be pretty spectacular and there’s a lot of joy in taking a break.

As a volunteer, I push myself to reach for 99% of my attention, compassion and patience to be directed at those I’m helping and other volunteers. (Oh, come on. We all know the other volunteers are usually the trying ones to work with!) But at least 1% of my patience has to be kept for myself. I need it to forgive myself when I don’t understand what someone is asking me or for when I make a mistake. I can’t give all my patience and love away, if I want to be of any use in the long run. I think the same thing is probably true for life in general. We need to remember that it’s okay to call a time out. We need to know it’s okay to be unhappy sometimes and weep or whine or whatever it takes to feel better- whether that means talking it out or claiming your right to remain silent. That’s how we keep going. We pause, so we can start again. We allow ourselves forgiveness for our humanity and the courtesy of a little time or patience, and it works out a lot better for everyone.

So, dear needy significant others and sport commercials and society that demands I constantly be happy and successful and perfect, you can screw it. I will never give 110% for anything on this planet. I will not push myself to 110%, because I would lose myself. I will not give you “my all,” because why should you possess me? I am not yours. No, I will give until it hurts and I’m tired and frustrated, but then I will let myself pause and simply be with myself. I will probably scream. I might swear or throw things, but, in the end, I will get up again better than I was before because of the pause that is the 1% of patience that is mine and only mine.

You cannot have my 1%.

I will not find an imaginary extra 10% to please you. It does not exist and I have no intentions of inventing delusions for you.

(But have fun with the mystical, magical super human strength you think you have. I wish you the best of luck.)

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