The Girls

Life has a funny way of bringing us full-circle sometimes.
When I started college, I imagined graduating with that close group of girls that meet up year after year and grow old together, share life’s joys and sorrows.
I spent four or five years searching for the right group. I was always out, always busy at one event or another and I hated the scene just as much as I craved it.
When I graduated, I looked back and thought, “Huh. I guess that was it. Not exactly what I expected.”
Here’s what I’ve learned: If you want to find something, you need to stop looking for it.
Since my first year of college, I have had those women just a phone call away. When I was running out the door, they were inviting me to run on over. But I could never find the time.
Last night, we all met up for dinner with husbands, fiancés, and boyfriends to talk about moving across the world, new houses, daily living, and upcoming weddings.
Have you ever felt the humility of realizing that what you set off to find was with you the whole time?
I am blessed. Blessed to have my group of girls to grow old with. Blessed that they were so patient while I figured out where I needed to be. Blessed that we are all so excited for the changes in our lives and accepting of the people we’ve brought in over the years.
I don’t think you can ever let people know how much they mean to you after something like that…
But I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to show them.

Past Influences and Parties

Fact: I feel sexiest when driving in my car, windows down, music up, night air, wind in my hair.

I drove from Grand Rapids to my parents’ home today. I arrived home just in time to catch my mom and her friends mid-celebration for one of my high school teachers; it was her retirement party.  Not only do I love being able to see my mother hosting events (her and I have both worked to better ourselves as of late and her social prowess has grown immensely in the endeavor), but it was such a treat to see the faces from my past! The retiring teacher was a favorite when I was in high school. She had a lot of influence on us and made us look at our lives more so than she was required to do. In fact, the blog I wrote about my life in 2004 was taken from the scrapbook I made for her Psychology project. What a blessing to have someone with the foresight to make me capture my own, now cherished, memories in a manner that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. 

How strange to think that students entering my high school will not have the privilege of seeing the same faces that shaped my four years there. They won’t know it, but they’re less fortunate for that. Cheated, in a way. I loved my high school experience and I attribute as much of that to my faculty as I do my friends.

I also had the opportunity to see my Spanish teacher from high school. My mother had mentioned that she was coming but it’d slipped my mind until I saw her. It’d been so long, she was probably slightly uncomfortable at my awestruck response to seeing her. She and the retiring teacher had taken me, my friends, my mother and other chaperones over to Spain, Portugal, and France for a study abroad trip in high school. We spent a good portion our time around the table recapping all of the stories that ensued from our trip and those they had taken with other classes. It’s funny how many little things you can forget in life and how quickly they can be recalled. Anyway, she was always terribly blunt when she taught at my high school; it’s a quality I always admired of her.

My Spanish teacher drove over from her current hometown to mine with one of our family friends from my earlier years. It’d been ages since I’d seen her as well. Our families used to do everything together. One of their daughters even broke her arm at the jungle gym at my house when she was little! When they moved, we made trips out there to see them every so often but time has caused those occasions taper off. Now I suppose my parents go and see them while I’m busy with something else or they make it an “adults only” get together (and everyone knows that you become an adult when you grow older until it comes time for seating charts at holidays or adult gatherings among your parents and their friends ;)) Haha. C’est la vie.

Sitting there and soaking in their company, I realize that I miss them and the effect they had on my youth. I wanted to give them all hugs goodbye but I think that time does funny things to adult-child relationships. When I see them I am immediately brought back to my youth and although I am now comfortable sharing conversation with them at an adult level, I still look up to them. I gather that the opposite doesn’t occur so naturally. I think they probably see me now as an adult and feel a disconnect from the girl they knew to the woman before them. It’s just my theory based loosely on observation but I think it may be true.

Either way, I think it’s so healthy to reminisce and I’m glad for the opportunity. It can be unhealthy too, but I think nostalgia is a beautiful emotion. It shows us how we’ve grown.

“Jungle Drum” Emiliana Torrini – You need to listen to this song! Feel good and move your feet.

My Life in '04

The title to tonight’s blog was taken from a scrapbook I made for a psychology project. It’s dated December 16, 2004. Inside, it holds truths which remain constant today, those which have turned into untruths following time/experiences/growth, and also those which remain true though less prominent in my interpretation of the present. It’s worth reviewing. And updating.

5 1/2 years later – Past and present broken down:

  • 5 words used to describe me:
    • 2004
      • stubborn
      • confident
      • respectful
      • athletic
      • caring
    • 2010
      • traveled
      • excited
      • relaxed
      • funny
      • optimistic
  • I like that I am:
    • 2004
      • Passionate about the things I believe are right
      • Honest about my thoughts
      • Open-minded
    • 2010
      • Open to new opportunities
      • Comfortable in my own skin
      • Surrounded by good people
  • I need to learn to:
    • 2004
      • Organize my life
      • Hold my tongue
      • Let go of past hurts
    • 2010
      • Quit over analyzing
      • Organize my life
      • Make my own way in the world
  • I want to:
    • 2004
      • Stop allowing fear to paralyze me
      • Strengthen my faith level
    • 2010
      • Stop allowing fear to paralyze me
      • Always follow my heart
  • My top values are:
    • 2004
      • Faith
      • Respect
      • Family
      • Kindness
      • Trust
    • 2010
      • Faith
      • Respect
      • Family
      • Friendship
      • Growth
  • My talents:
    • 2004
      • Sports
      • Singing
    • 2010
      • Communicating
      • Forgiving
  • Tomorrow I would like to be:
    • 2004
      • More Responsible
      • Health Conscious
    • 2010
      • Further along with my paper
      • Aware of my daily blessings
  • Two deep concerns I have right now:
    • 2004
      • Relationship with [my boyfriend at the time]
      • College
    • 2010
      • Living situation
      • Career
  • Favorite quotation(s):
    • 2004
      • Play your game: Don’t focus about what anyone else thinks. Play for you. – my parents
    • 2010
      • Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21
      • Live in the now. Act spontaneously. Embrace the unknown. – self
  • If I were anyone else, I would be:
    • 2004
      • Rich and famous
    • 2010
      • Entirely disappointed
  • I am a(n):
    • 2004
      • Christian, daughter, friend, sister, grand-daughter, girlfriend, cousin, role model, counselor, niece, woman, writer, singer, artist, student, athlete, Taurus
    • 2010
      • Christian, daughter, sister, relative, friend, traveler, role model, mess, comedian, artist, disciple, lady, enigma, wanderer, listener, talker, learner
  • Two experiences that affected me in a personal way:
    • 2004
      • Soccer with Adam Danielczyk: We were his girls. He cared for us more than he cared about himself.
        • [ Side note: This is something that still pains my heart with joyful remembrances and always will. We were lucky to have him.]
      • Spring Hill: Strengthened faith life
    • 2010
      • Alzheimer’s
      • Heartbreak
  • My biggest fears:
    • 2004
      • Being forgotten
      • Growing up
    • 2010
      • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:27 …
  • I would like to be remembered as a:
    • 2004
      • Role model
    • 2010
      • Role model
  • 10 experiences I would like to have:
    • 2004
      1. Own a bulldog named “Boomer”
      2. Live away [CHECK!]
      3. Marry
      4. Become a mom to little boys (a soccer mom)
      5. Study abroad in Europe [CHECK!]
      6. Decorate my own house
      7. Own a black minivan
      8. Become a recognized photographer
      9. Be an aunt
      10. Be a spoiling grandma
    • 2010
      1. Sky diving
      2. Camping weekend
      3. See a bald eagle in nature
      4. Live in Grand Rapids
      5. Live outside of Michigan
      6. Be published as an author
      7. Obtain a motorcycle license
      8. Run a marathon
      9. Learn to sew
      10. Road trip with friends
  • My favorite TV show:
    • 2004
      • Laguna Beach
    • 2010
      • Cougar Town
  • Favorite article of clothing:
    • 2004
      • Jeans
    • 2010
      • Scarves!
  • I see my sister as:
    • 2004
      • Beautiful
    • 2010
      • Strong
  • When I grow up I want to be:
    • 2004
      • A kid!
    • 2010
      • A kid! 😉
  • I get most frustrated when:
    • 2004
      • I don’t succeed immediately
    • 2010
      • I feel embarrassed

Those are the highlights documenting how I’ve changed and how I’ve remained the same. It’s an interesting project to keep around. I suggest you start one today and pick it back up in a few years. You might be surprised/saddened/impressed/embarrassed at the things contained.

For me, 2004 points out my youth (as I would expect) but also my crippling inclination to project into the future past any predictable cues – and with goals that are unachievable on my own. Hopefully 2010 feels a bit more independent and a bit more present. It ought to. It’s now.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream!

To reread it, that last post was a little all over the place. Lo siento, mis amigos. I suppose that’s what I get for not taking the time to seclude myself from outside distractions while posting – or for having too many things running through my head at any given time; sometimes I feel like I need to say it all! And let’s be honest, that isn’t going to change any time soon!

Anyway, ice cream. I find an overwhelming sense of joy when I notice something that I believe goes largely unnoticed on any given day. The more “insignificant” the better. It’s the feeling that I’m seeing things for the first time or getting a glimpse of the true nature of something through all the distractions. They’re moments that I feel compelled to share though their retelling may be void of all the impact felt in the moment. For example: This weekend I was with a friend outside of a walk-up ice cream shop. It may sound simple, but somewhere amidst looking over the menu, deciding that I wasn’t hungry enough to indulge, and people watching, I noticed something: Everyone is happy at a walk-up ice cream shop.

Now, okay, I know that happiness can’t be bought, but if it did come from an exchange of currency for goods, I’m convinced it would come in the form of a twist of chocolate and vanilla, smothered in chocolate sauce and sprinkles, or scooped up into a waffle cone. Just trust me on this.

My awareness of this fact struck me while I sat in the car in the parking lot, separated from everyone passing by. Had I been standing in line, I would’ve been too caught up in my own excitement to appreciate the uniqueness of the general attitude around me. Or perhaps the contagious nature of people’s attitudes would negate the preciousness. Either way, this wasn’t the case. I was able to appreciate every laugh, skip, and smile that passed. Small children played with leaves and ran around the walkway in front of the windows before being called to wrap their fingers carefully around their small ice cream cones; the littlest ones then proceeded to navigate the path back to the car with cautiousness, determination, and excitement (the combination of which had me holding my breath, wondering if they would break out in a run and lose their ice cream altogether).

Mothers and fathers turned with smiles to pass out orders. Singles walked up without the “ice cream glow” and walked away, two cones in hand, with smirks spreading across their faces. After a while, my friend and I made a game of it – waiting for the smiles to come. And they did. You don’t come to an ice cream shop if you’re not in a good mood. You may run through Meijer and pick up a carton of ice cream – but a walk-up ice cream shop? That’s an experience. It’s associated with fond memories of youth, warm weather, friends and family. You can’t help but be happy!

So that’s it. My joyful realization of the weekend. What’s there to gain from this insight? Well, I suppose it can be summarized as follows: Happiness is now available for sale at your local walk-up ice cream shop in a variety of flavors! 🙂 Find a mom-and-pop shop; support the local community; spread a smile or two.

P.S. My birthday is tomorrow!