Of Dreams and Plans

Every January I start to get the urge to evaluate my life and figure out what I want to be doing that I’m not doing, or at least haven’t finished achieving yet. Colton seems to mange to continuously update his plans and priorities and can’t figure out why January would have this effect on me. So this year I took a little different strategy and made a list of dreams and planned to pick one to work on every 4-6 weeks through the year.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve gotten distracted with a lot of daily life and don’t seem to make a lot of progress. According to my list the last time I picked a dream to work on was in April, and I know I didn’t actually do anything with it.

Oddly enough, a part of my dream to travel to Europe, which wasn’t even on the docket for this year, is coming true this fall. Colton has a work trip to Ireland and I get to tag along. I’m still holding out for a full tour of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales someday, but for now, a few days in Dublin will do just fine.

Aside from travel though, I’m discovering the the core of my dreams is really to do some combination of creative writing and nutritional coaching. (Well, that and being able to sing on key.) I really enjoyed the writing I did for my food blog, and to some extent the videos I made for it, though those were also stress inducing. (Yes, random guy on the internet, it is possible to care about healthy eating and still have fat arms. FYI.) But what I really, really loved was the few comments I got about how people started using my homemade ketchup all the time, or how small children devoured green beans made from my recipe. I loved giving people one small, doable step toward living healthier.

And, honestly, that’s why I started sharing about Plexus. Because I really want to help people get healthier, and because it give me chance to talk to people about their health and nutrition one on one, and figure out personalized suggestions for what might help them.

If I do very well with Plexus maybe someday it can even fund that full Europe trip I’d love to make, but what would make me very happy is if sharing Plexus resulted in lots of stories of other people finally having energy to go do all the things they’ve always wanted to do.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Plexus will ever solve my singing off-key problems.

Moving In

It’s been almost two months since I wrote about moving out of our apartment, and it seemed time for an update about the moving in half of the process. It seems that getting sick after we move is a tradition, so I came down with a bad cold shortly after we moved, which slowed down the latter part of the unpacking. It is now, however, nearly done.

Instead of having to cook all our meals in the Instant Pot we have a stove. It has two ovens, and plays far too many musical chimes including an alarm if you leave the oven door open for too long. But two ovens, and not an Instant Pot, so over all, I’m quite happy with it.

Instead of having to work around temporary kitchen storage, we now have a kitchen island which greatly improves the amount of counter space available.

Instead of having to go to the laundromat, I can now do laundry in any weather without having to leave the house and bundle up against the cold. The washer and dryer also play unusually (and unnecessarily) long musical chimes when they’re done, but I can live with that, seeing as how I now have the freedom to do any amount of laundry at any time.

Instead of having bare windows and feeling that our television watching habits were needlessly public, we now have curtains on all our windows. The curtain saga is long and involved, and some of the curtains could still use upgrading (along with one Frankenstein’s curtain rod that I cobbled together when some of the proper pieces went missing) but having curtains is a major upgrade in itself, and greatly improves the hominess of the house.

Instead of a stack of boxes in the closet, we now have new bookshelves to replace the ones that broke in the move, and the closet is shifting over into being useful for normal storage.

Instead of having to root through a plastic tub every time I needed to pay a bill or file a receipt I now have a desk! The desk just got set up today, so I’m especially excited about this one. I’ve wanted a desk for the past few years, and never really had a good place to put one in the apartment, so now I can finally hide all of my paperwork in an organized manner.

I can’t say that all the decorating is done, but I have hung up all of the important wall art (mostly involving dragons), and found a temporary place for the wedding monkeys while I continue to experiment with various set ups. We have more blank walls in the house than we did in the apartment, so I have temporarily put up some pictures we didn’t have a place for before, and will have to decide which ones should be upgraded.

There is a strange shortage of closets in this house, so storage requires some creativity, except in the bathroom where there seems to be an unreasonably large amount of storage (at least for people who don’t use the large assortment of face, hair, eye and nail creams that may be considered standard to others).

I really can’t say at what point in the process the  new house started to feel like home, though it must not have taken too long. I can say that it’s starting to go beyond just feeling like ‘this is the place where we live’ to also making me think ‘I like living here’.

Of Ice Skating and Decades

According to my calculations, aided by various social media histories, I went ice skating for the first time six years ago yesterday. This was my summation of the experience on twitter: “didn’t fall down enough to truly succeed at ice skating, but did make it around the rink a couple of times.”

Yesterday we continued with the New Year’s Day tradition and went ice skating with a large group of people from church.

In the course of six years I have progressed from “Augh! Why are there blades strapped to my feet? Augh! Now why am I on slippery ice??? *hangs on the edge for a while before ungracefully shuffling feet in an attempt to glide*” to being able to make actual skating motions with my feet and move in a slow but continuous gliding motion (until I freak out that I might be going to fast, because I still haven’t learned to stop, and let myself slow down to a stop before I start going again).

In the past six years I’ve learned a few other things as well, such as not being embarrassed to grab one of the plastic skate trainers (meant for little kids who are learning to skate) for my first couple of laps around the rink, so that my feet can remember what they’re supposed to be doing without having to balance at the same time. Such as knowing that I’ll have fun once I get out there and remember how to skate, even though it always just sounds stressful and terrifying when I’m thinking about trying to do it. Such as NOT stressing about my assumptions that everyone else is wondering why I haven’t figured it out by now, after seeing me shuffle around the rink for six years in a row.

As it turns out though, not bothering to stress about it was a good call, because no one told me I looked dumb, and I got a couple of comments about how much my skating has improved in the past few years.

I’ve been turning over in my head lately the ramifications of my 30th birthday coming up, and I keep coming to the conclusion that I’m really happy to be leaving my 20s behind. Not that my 20s were all bad, but the parts that stand out in memory are things I don’t mind leaving behind. I’m no longer single (as I was for the first half of my 20s), I’m less afraid of looking stupid when trying new things, and I’m more willing to say no to guilt related to having different skills and priorities and quirks than people around me.

As much as I sometimes feel like I’m still just bad at everything I’d like to be good at, the fact is, I can now skate around an ice rink in less than half the time it used to take me. (Even if most of the people on the ice are still passing me.)

 

Always Winter

It is culturally unacceptable to be cheerful about winter time. People bundled deep in layers of coats and scarves swathe themselves with grumbling as if in added protection against the cold. They range from startled to offended if you dare to suggest that the snow is actually rather pretty. And that’s on an average winter.

When the temperatures stay low for longer than normal and the clouds are thick with any manner of winter precipitation about to drop down on our heads and power lines, the only acceptable response is grumbling. After all, clearly, if God really loved us, it would be spring. Right. Now. (And probably forever.) A few little rays of sun between the clouds are not going to cut it when we know we deserve better.

And obviously, with our clear vantage point on all eternal knowledge, we know exactly what God should do if He really loved us.

Or at least, isn’t that what we’re really saying when we complain about what God is sending us?

Now I know everyone is rolling their eyes, because I’m that crazy winter person who really does think the snow is pretty and rarely gets cold and doesn’t even like summer all that much. But before you tune me out entirely (and leaving aside the fact that even I reach the point where I start thinking green plants might just be prettier than gray slush), let me remind you that I know something about waiting.

I understand being stuck in a season that you can’t change that feels like it should have been over a long time ago. I know what it feels like to ache, not in a theoretical sense, but in a physical, ‘I wonder if this is what a heart attack feels like’ kind of pain in the chest, every time you really know that God is saying ‘not yet’. I know that feeling of convincing yourself that you’re really perfectly fine and being slightly exasperated to find tears rolling down your face anyway.

And if you think I’m going to try to downgrade Winter to the status of a lesser problem, you’re mistaken. Winter may qualify as a major trial in your life, but even if it’s a small trial I wouldn’t write it off as nothing.

Sometimes the ‘big’ trials in life are, in a way, the easiest to deal with. They come at you head on, over and over again, and you can’t ignore them or pretend that you’re not supposed to be dealing with them. I can go straight from working through big trials in my life, and finding a place of peace and calmly trusting, to being completely exasperated that I can’t find a clean pair of socks.

Because overarching life stages are one thing, and God probably has those planned out, even when I don’t like it so well. But really, I have a morning schedule to keep, and I can’t do that if I spend ten minutes trying to find a decent pair of socks to wear, and since I don’t know of any huge life altering consequences to having clean socks, clearly God just doesn’t care enough to arrange these details for me, exactly the way I want them and on my own schedule.

Clearly.

Not like there’s any obvious pride issues that need to be dealt with there or anything…

But the funny thing is, if we can just accept the fact that God really does know what He’s doing, that He really does love us, and it’s all part of this huge happy ending fairy tale He’s writing in the world, it changes how we see things. Instead of being an insult to the eternal summer we think we deserve, that tiny ray of sunlight between the clouds is a promise that it won’t be gray forever.

A Not So Perfect New Year

Every year (several days after the new year starts) I post something about how the last year went and how I’m hoping the next year will go better. This is usually accompanied by me making many lists, coming up with way too many areas in which I want to improve, and angst over the fact that it’s January and I’m already behind on my blog posts.

This year I didn’t really feel like analyzing 2013. Good stuff happened, my health improved and I failed a lot. Moving on. Rah 2014! Maybe 2014 will be the year I stop failing! More lists! More goals! More… angst…

I didn’t even plan on starting my brand new 2014 schedule on January 1st. The fact that this new clean slate of a new year begins immediately after staying up past midnight the night before has always seemed a bit ironic to me. Plus, Colton was able to get quite a few days off around Christmas and New Years this year, so I figured vacation would just stretch until he went back to work. My official new year blank slate would start on the first Monday of the new year.

On the first Saturday of the new year we discovered that we were about to have lots of snow and the coldest temperatures in a long time. We could have just holed up at home for the weekend (church had already been canceled due to the uncertainties of travel in those conditions) but the dangers of being snowed in during a record cold and then having our power go out seemed a little too risky. We could handle a power outage, and we could handle record cold, but not at the same time.

So we spent the weekend with Colton’s family, experimenting with how long we could stay out in subzero windchill throwing snowballs at each other and then proceeding to play games and watch Bleak House (which I must say, is less depressing than it always sounded from the name). Not my plan for the weekend, but fun.

This is where my plans for the new year really started to fall apart. A frozen car meant not getting back to Peoria until Monday evening, which meant skipping my new Tuesday schedule so as to do my Monday chores, notably laundry. Wednesday, the cold I’d had was finally getting quite miserable and my husband made me take a sick day. Thursday I finally caught up on dishes and got the laundry folded, but still lacking a car, grocery shopping was not going to happen. It wasn’t until today that I really got to try out my new schedule, and by then something had changed.

This wasn’t the new start to a new year I had planned, but somehow it was exactly the start I needed. It was the start of letting go of my plans and my lists and my schedules. It was the start of refusing to feel guilty for getting sick while I had work to do. It was the start that forced me to relearn what it means for God’s grace to cover my failures.

And that, I think, is an excellent way to start 2014.

Is there supposed to be a hill around here somewhere?

A couple weeks ago at church I heard someone say, “Everyone over thirty should really take digestive enzymes, because the body doesn’t produce them as well when you hit thirty.” I started to file this as a mildly interesting tidbit that applied to all ‘those people’ over thirty and stopped.

All of those things I’ve ever heard about ‘when you’re thirty’ are going to apply to me in just a couple of years.

I had a bit of a mental block about turning 27 this year, not because I have any problem with the number 27  (in fact, I’m kind of a fan of the number of 27, despite the fact that it’s an odd number, because it’s 3 cubed, and I like multiples of 3) but because 27 represents a definite shift to ‘late twenties’.

I kind of stopped paying attention to my exact age when I got married. It didn’t seem to matter nearly as much if I wasn’t thinking, “I’m ___ years old and I’m still not married!” but ‘late twenties’ was still a bit of a shock. How did that happen?

There’s a general understanding that about 30 your body starts slowing down and subtly breaking. There are things you could do when you were 18 or in your 20s that just don’t work anymore. You have begun the process of becoming old.

I have other plans.

I’ve spent most of my 20s dealing with some kind of chronic health problem. At various points and it no particular order I managed to hit chronic fatigue, recurring cysts, adrenal fatigue, appendectomy with post operative infection, undiagnosed Lyme, joint pains, hypothyroid (causing weight gain) and an egg allergy. (Not the mention having the word ‘infertility’ kind of floating around the edges of my health consciousness while I decide whether I hate that word enough to come up with some other descriptor.) If my 20s represent the pinnacle of my health and energy, I’m staging a revolt.

This year I’ve played ultimate frisbee almost every week since it started for the season (including a couple games in the rain), played soccer and walleyball for the first time, and started running most mornings. Extrapolating this out a few years, I’m pretty sure my 30s should include running 5ks, outdoor rock climbing, and maybe even learning to play a sport well enough to be considered an average player instead of a tolerated noob.

And apparently they should also include taking digestive enzymes.