Excuse Me While I Creep on Your Yard

I don’t know what it is about this Spring but I feel like I’m seeing color for the first time. Yellows, pinks, peaches, and reds – they’re stopping me in my tracks. And I’m sure it makes for a pretty strange looking neighborhood stroll when I’m constantly backtracking from lawn to lawn. I’m half expecting the cops to show up at my house asking why I’ve been casing homes in my area.

“Officer, I agree that wandering into my neighbor’s lawn and standing underneath the tree with my phone out is odd behavior. But really, what kind of tree gives off this peach hue? Here, take a look at this picture.”


Have you ever experienced this? It’s not even that I’ve missed the physical trees before but these colors are on overdrive. You know the vibrant green that grass has after a storm? It’s that but every color.

I don’t know if it’s a phase or some undiagnosed health issue but I am absolutely digging it right now. When I wake up and look out my window or go into the yard to throw the ball for Winston – new color is everywhere! My husband thinks I’ve lost my mind. I’m constantly running inside telling him he has to come see something. Then I get him outside and stand him in front of a tree or a shrub, throw my hands out, and exclaim “Are you seeing this right now?? Are. you. seeing this?!”


“Yup, every Spring for about five years,” he tells me.

Spring has Sprung!

Oh, yes. Spring has sprung, my friends.

By the official calendar, we have just arrived at Spring. Michigan, however, has never been one to follow the official calendar. In fact, it appears to have glanced over winter and poo-pooed Spring altogether in exchange for 80 degree weather. I suppose with Michigan’s well-known swings, I should stop being so surprised that it feels like Summer in March! You just can’t trust a Mitten.

I started out the March Madness this year consumed with reading, reading, reading but all of this Vitamin D has me feeling more inspired than needing inspiration. For the most part, I have put down my books for some more engaging hobbies. Yes, that’s another thing you should know about this March. I’m finding hobbies.

I have been cautiously, nervously, and excitedly watching my husband Freddy for the past several months. Now that we share the same roof, I find it’s become much easier to observe him without his knowledge. I’m not up to anything too mischievous; I’ve been gathering cooking clues! I say cautiously because if you have ever seen a great chef (as I consider my husband to be) move around in any kitchen space, you know that he or she owns that space. You shouldn’t enter unless you can execute with the speed of an experienced sous chef. I excel in grilled cheeses… I have no place sharing our small apartment kitchen area with him when he’s in charge.

I approach my mission nervously out of fear of exposure. What if he should see me watching and call me out to join? I simply couldn’t! Or could I?

And this is where the excitement enters. What if I can cook? What if there are a few tricks of the trade that simplify all of the confusing measurements, temperatures, and temperaments? I know I’m not the first person to have this thought or to see such a thought to fruition, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try it for myself. Damned to eating grilled cheese every night my husband gets stuck at work, if nothing else. No one needs that much cheese in their diet.

Clearly, this is in no contradiction to my previously-mentioned desire to get control of my relationship with food… That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Once I learn to suffer the pain of cooking, err, I mean, appreciate the art of cooking (yes, until recently, I have felt only pain – both emotional and physical – whilst sputtering about in the kitchen), I might learn a thing or two about the rest of those goals. You have to know your enemy if you plan to defeat it, right?

Me I Want to Be

Well, I finished Made to Crave. I’m no lighter for it – heavier even – but that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s not a magic pill. It’s constantly working to redefine the quenching of our cravings. In truth, I’m just not ready to fully subscribe to being a mindful eater. Not. quite. yet.

But I’ve started making healthier decisions on a sporadic basis. I’m back on vitamins. I’m drinking more water. I’m seeing a chiropractor for the back pain I’ve been feeling and I’m taking steps in the right direction.

When I put down Made to Crave, I picked up Me I Want To Be by John Ortberg. This one is about “becoming God’s best version of you.” My mother sent me this book two years ago and I didn’t have the desire to dive in at the time. I picked it up this week, after coming home from a tough day at work during which I told off one of my coworkers, and it grabbed me in by calling me out – sometimes it’s all about timing.

My reading habits are very God-focused lately. I tend to act better when I’m constantly reviewing God’s words or plan or purpose – that’s applicable to any area of life, be it food or work or self. At least that’s what I’d like to think!

Oh, and I’m dying for Spring.

That is all!

Seasons of Love

The crunch of leaves under your feet snaps you back from daydreaming; you look around to see if anyone has noticed as you pull your scarf in closer toward your face…

I’ll be honest, the change of seasons from either summer to winter or winter to spring can feel bittersweet sometimes. It is during these shifts that everything seems amplified. Colors are brighter. Smells are sweeter. Tastes are better. The bitter side of this is that I have traditionally associated this amplification not with the actual shift of seasons but rather with a powerful four letter word: love. When the cool weather rolls in, my mind immediately turns to long walks hand-in-hand or picking pumpkins together or … coupled activities. It’s all I’ve ever known. Spring and fall have been the times that my heart swells and I either witness the stress of the winter months melt or the tempers of summer cool.

I do anticipate this fall to be full of fun, excitement, adventure, and new faces but I have also begun to brace myself against the heart pangs of an unheld hand. I am happy as I am but it ought to be noted that ingrained tendencies are hard to unlearn whether we want to unlearn them or not.

This fall will be the first fall in eight years that I am not in love with one man or another who has come into my life and swept me off my feet. Eight years, that’s a long time (eight years is a very long time when you’re only twenty-three). And that is the timing of it. It’s not even that I’ve been in a relationship over the past eight fall seasons; I’ve been in love. If you, as I do, feel slightly nauseated by my last sentence, I should tell you that you have interpreted it exactly as I meant it, that sickly sweet romance that causes birds to sing and stars to shine brighter in the night sky. Some say it’s the cry of the hopeless romantic. I’m inclined to read it as being a lot more hopeless than romantic but c’est la vie.

It’s an interesting notion but I’ve decided that it’s time to separate my love of fall from my love of love. Colors really are brighter, smells really are sweeter, and tastes really are better during fall. I needn’t have my hand held to appreciate that.

“Mama’s Song” Carrie Underwood – Heard this on the radio today; Carrie Underwood always moves me. And no, it doesn’t have to be in opposition to my post today. I’m a long way away from the sentiments in this song, but it is a beautiful song.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

So here are a couple of things: Posting twice a weekend is actually a lot harder than it seems. I’ve been getting out and trying to make the most of each day – which is what I wanted to chronicle in my blog – but by doing that, I pass up prime writing opportunities to get out and see friends or family or get lost in my car for hours at a time. I’m not scrapping my goal, but it ought to be mentioned that it takes effort to meet it; I suppose all that really means is that I’ve chosen a worthy goal! Another thing is that while it’s fun to answer 50 random questions, that’s not the direction I want to take this blog – so questionnaires are out. The former post will be my first and last; those things are better left to MySpace anyway!

I actually have a ton to relay about my week – so I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t sit down on Friday to split this up a little more and catch things while they were still fresh. My mom mentioned today that some writers take notepads out with them and jot ideas or images throughout their day so they don’t lose things. Now I know that’s probably not the coolest thing to do, but I’m considering adopting that into my routine. I figure, I have so much junk that I carry around in my purse currently that it’d be a nice change to have something useful in there taking up space!

This week was a big week. It starts with the weather. Sans my adventure with cross-country skiing this year, I didn’t participate in any exclusively winter activities. I hate being cold. And I’m very impatient in winter traffic. But if Michigan has no other redeeming quality (which would be untrue – Michigan really is a great state, despite the current economy), it does host a change of seasons worth experiencing. Winter may not be my favorite season, but the contrast it provides lends to the preciousness of the other seasons. I think it’s such a natural stimulant to walk outside and feel your shoulders relax when you realize the cold you’re bracing for has dissipated and rather than a sharp cold bite, it’s a warm breeze that you face. Or driving home from work, opening the windows, and getting that blast of hot pavement, fresh buds, and barbeques; it’s a scent that revs my soul. This weather immediately lifts my spirits and I have found myself this week, if this is even possible, smiling a little bigger and with a little more frequency.

It’s energizing – the warmth of the Spring sun. The downside is that it makes sitting in a cubicle stifling. What was once an accepted part of my day becomes an obstacle standing in front of me and the outdoors. It’s not right! Toward the end of the week, I couldn’t handle it anymore so I decided I had to leave early to hold onto that feeling that I’m living rather than alive. That’s when I first experienced the release of tension in my shoulders. I was so pleasantly surprised when I walked outside that I laughed out loud and allowed a skip or two on the way to my car. Mind you, leaving early means leaving at 9:00pm but it was early enough that I felt compelled to call a friend for a drink on an open patio. We ended up sharing a bottle of wine and talking about the things we want out of life. I love how friendships evolve as people enter new stages of life. We’ve been friends but I feel like the past few times we’ve gotten together, it’s been a new friendship. We’ve come to appreciate similar things and look for similar things out of life. I’m hoping over the summer we can orchestrate a road trip together – bringing along anyone who would be open to the idea. I think there are friends you can do that sort of thing with and those you can’t. Better yet I think at an earlier point in this particular friendship, we would’ve been the friends that couldn’t – but that’s what I mean about evolving.

It’s not chronologically sound, but early that day I made either one of the best or worst decisions that I have come across in quite some time. Well, to be honest, I know in my own heart that it was for the best. Those of you who know me well enough know that I have struggled with embracing a career in public accounting. I’m capable. I’ll walk across the stage at the beginning of next month to accept an undergraduate degree from the GVSU School of Accounting and perhaps find a way to use my skills within a company or in an unforseen way, but this week I closed one door that I believe was opened. We had to fill out self-evaluation forms and questionnaires at work to round out our internships and one of the questions simply asked: “Are you interested in a full-time position?”

8 words. Eight simply posed words that could either set the course of my future or derail it. Eight words that potentially employ me in a downtrodden economy or send me packing with nothing more than well-wishes and a few months’ worth of built up leeway in the bank. Though it might seem dramatic to measure these eight words with such weight, let me explain to you what these words mean to me:

If I check “Yes,” I commit myself to an upcoming year in the Masters of Science in Taxation graduate program that I began this past summer. I commit myself to focus on a career in public accounting and set aside winter months and the transition to Spring. I commit myself to studying for the CPA exam within the next year and sitting for as many sections as I can within the shortest amount of time. If I check “Yes,” I can’t do it half-heartedly. My dad has always said to take pride in everything you do, no matter what you choose. If I do this, I’m doing it.

If I check “No,” I shut the door. I tell a company that I have been lucky to work with that I am going in a different direction. I gather up all of the recent encouragement and talks of employment that I have received within the past few months and I hand them back with gratitude and humility. I change course and get off the path that I’m on. I notify my graduate program director and let him know that I will not be attending for my MST. And I walk away. I can’t do it half-heartedly. If I do this, I’m doing it.

And I did. Heart pounding, hands shaking, nervous excitement crackling head to toe, I checked the box and pressed “Send.” I know that my decision was right for me because through my fear, a smile broke out on my face that expressed the lightness I felt in my heart. “Are you interested in a full-time position?” … “No.”

I can’t do things half-heartedly. And if I am hesitant with my future, I run the risk of getting swept up in someone else’s. If I can’t be confident in my decisions, I can’t expect anyone else to be either – and if I’m going to convince others that my heart is being called in a different direction – I better start with my actions.

I can’t help but relate it to my trip to Ireland. My favorite way to explain my trip is as follows: “Two days in Dublin. One day in Ireland.” We took that train to the coast without a plan. We walked through miles of neighborhood and left the paved street to hop a little stone wall overlooking rolling hills which eventually led us down the bluffs to the cool, splashing water. I tell that story all the time but it’s so much more than a retelling of a single day out of my trip abroad to me. It’s a reminder that the best decisions often come from setting aside the plan and veering from the path. Checking “No” brought me back to that wall in Ireland and I can’t wait to get my feet wet again!

It’s a big thing to transition from word to action.

Hello, perfect song. I’m so glad I found you. “The Guy Who Says Goodbye to You” Griffin House]

Blessed Easter to you!

Friday Night Recap

8 days until Spring. I started my countdown at the beginning of the month and every day seems a little warmer and the birds seem to sing a little bit earlier and louder. There’s something about Spring that holds promise of a better or new life; I’m holding earnestly to that belief this year.

The thing is, I’m at one of those pivot points in life. Not pivotal – there are no crucial decisions I’m coming up against or life threatening paths I must take or turn from which will wrench my heart in any way. The wrenching has already occurred and subsides, with occasional flare-ups, each day. But a pivot point – one which presents me with many opportunities, paths, or mindsets from which to choose.

The Friday night recap begins at this pivot point, from which I am able to look many years behind and assess my past and/or throw myself right into the present, but I refrain from looking too far into the future – it’s unwritten, you know. It’s time that I put down that pen and stop trying to predict the unpredictable. Rather, I have decided that it is time to bring out my highlighter – if you will – and call attention to the positive things in life.

Here are a few:

I have a family that has supported me both when I am at my best and at my worst. They have stuck by me when I have been self-absorbed and uncaring, harsh, and ugly. And they have loved and continue to love me with honesty – and that is a difficult thing to do.

I have found true love in friendships – friendships which are founded in something more than convenience or activity – but which have struck me in a way that has left me feeling changed in an encouraging, inspiring way. I once thought that these friendships were hard to find, but the older I get and the more aware I become, the easier I find them. It’s a blessing – this kind of friendship – because it makes weathering life a little less like weathering and a little more like exploring.

I have traveled. I have traveled from the west-side of the east side of MI to the true west side and currently reside on the east-side of the east side of MI. Follow? And I have grown in each location in a different way. I have traveled to Canada, to Ohio, to Illinois, to Florida, to Mexico, to France, to Portugal, to Spain, to Great Britain, and to Ireland! I have climbed down eroded steps from bluffs to shore and dined like royalty on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as the waves lapped up against the rocks. I have gotten lost – both in every day trips and long-distant adventures – and I have found my way.

I have loved. I have loved in a way that has left me utterly open and exposed. There’s some sort of raw beauty in that vulnerability, I believe. It’s something too precious to allow pain, anger, or bitterness to grab hold of – despite their very eager attempts to imprint.

I have learned. I have learned that learning opportunities present themselves daily and that they must be both spontaneously embraced and eagerly sought. The greatest lessons often come with the hardest instruction – sadly, they often come up when I feel least compliant or patient which means I must be constantly open to growth.

The truth is, I am standing at this pivot point with my highlighter ready so that I might appreciate life’s twists and turns rather than dread or lament them. My current lesson can be summed up with my new mantra:

Enjoy living in the now; act spontaneously; embrace the unknown.

Prior to, I stood at this pivot point stutter-stepping in fear as I looked at the many exaggerated future paths that laid before me and I realized that I – have – zero – control. So I’m looking inward and looking outward to learn lessons, to find adventure, and to continue to grow in a way that stems less from future ideas and more from present fulfillment.

Wishing me luck? I may need more of it than you’d think…