Thursday, May 4, 2017

Behind the Scenes

WARNING: A moment of transparency, and a rather long post ahead. 

Yesterday, I had my 3rd teaching evaluation of the year and the administrator asked my students a variety of questions, one of which was "Does your teacher demonstrate enthusiasm in her job?" One dancer laughed and said, "She has more energy than the rest of us every morning." Since this was a student I've known years, I later confessed that I'm usually faking my 6AM energy, but that by pretending I'm excited in beginning of each day, I usually make the energy become a reality. (With the help of my 9AM dose of caffeine and B vitamins, at least until it wears off.) She was surprised that she didn't know how I'd really felt all this time.

 And I realized several of my mostly-on-line friends have mentioned similar ideas recently, with kind words about how fun or funny or happy my life seems to be.  (Although those who know me best can attest to what you're about to learn...And I offer you all a HUGE thank you for supporting me, or for even putting up with me.)

 So here it is: I'm EXHAUSTED.

I don't have a perfect life and I don't pretend to. Yes, I find beauty and humor and inspiration all around me in life.  I take pride in my work and I want my students to have the best experience I can give them, so I try not to show when I'm tired or sick or emotional. But that doesn't mean I'm immune to fatigue, frustration, depression, anxiety, or stress. 

My sleep disorder has not gone away, even though I don't often talk about it. Sometimes, I'm not sure which is more painful--the nightmares or trying to wake up from them. My house is often messy because I'm too tired to clean it and my make up often looks less than picture-worthy. I'm still figuring out what to do with my grownup body image issues. I'm working two wonderful jobs which I love dearly, but which each take a lot of time and emotional investment practically every single day. I know it's possible to do both of these jobs with less time or energy, but I sincerely value my opportunity to invest time in my students and coworkers who need it. That means I sometimes sacrifice the time and care I should be investing in my loved ones or in myself. I struggle to say NO when people ask for help or favors, so I overcommit myself then struggle to succeed. I worry obsessively when I'm not meeting expectations in my work or when I'm disappointing people who know me behind the scenes.  Sometimes I make dumb decisions that I later regret. I'm far from perfect. 

When it comes to posting on SOCIAL MEDIA though, I figure we could all use a little more positivity on our newsfeed so that's what I try to focus on. I'm not trying to create an unrealistic image of the blessings vs the struggles in my life; I just know it wouldn't do much good if I shared every little negative experience on here. I guess from this post, I hope you appreciate that there's more to each of us than what you usually learn on social media, and I hope that you appreciate the positive, thought-provoking, inspirational, or amusing things that we can share with each other online. Even if it's a super tired picture of me trying to take a nap on a messy closet floor at work. 

[Insert evidence here.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The calmest Trump conversation you've ever heard

I was trying to catch up on email during a coffee break, but I got distracted by the two gentlemen in their 60s-70s who were talking at the next table. 

The younger one was answering questions about how people can have so many opinions about President Trump all the time. The gist of his answer: Trump writes short notes on electronic media and shares them with anyone who has a computer via a place called Twitter. So people aren't just responding to his policies or his recent military actions; they're also interacting with these notes, which at times are actually quite brash or vulgar. 

Both men continued evaluating the pros and cons of various ideas, asking sincere questions and giving thoughtful answers, comparing recent events with past wartime experiences, and maintaining a perfectly relaxing conversational tone. 

Their conversation was so completely opposite of the hype and drama we've become used to on social media lately. It made me wonder how many of today's kids will grow up without ever engaging in thoughtful conversations like this with their elders. 


Then back to work, and my next class observation included a chance to read through a newspaper from 1918! This yellowed, tattered artifact was so fragile yet still strong enough to be here 100 years later--and to think it was originally read by people who are probably no longer here to influence our daily lives! Significantly older than the gentlemen whom I'd admired earlier this morning. The early 1900s had never felt as close, as real, as they did when I held that paper today.

I'm so grateful for the chance to eavesdrop on those two gentlemen this morning, and to leaf through this 1918 newspaper. I imagine that we could all benefit from more frequent connections to our past--as grandchildren, or as citizens of a collective history. It might even just help us return to that sense of thoughtful calm from our past...You know, like from the days of WWI...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

5 Minute Message

I haven't written anything here in a long time. Well, I haven't *finalized* anything here in a long time anyway.  I have plenty of half-drafts tucked away behind the scenes. But I haven't had enough time to fully explain and revise anything lately...And honestly, it seems like I haven't had enough time to accomplish anything in life up to my standards lately, so writing something here certainly wasn't a priority. 

But today, I heard a message that was so short and simple that I knew I had time to reiterate it. And more importantly, I knew I *needed* to share it. If any of you are wrestling with these same struggles lately, I hope this 5 minute post will uplift and redirect you (as it hopefully will do for me too)! 


Many of us have figured out how to live successfully behind the facade of "I'm all good, I've got it all figured out."

But this is a terribly stressful way to live, and it still doesn't resolve the emptiness, fear, or pain we feel inside when we look beneath that facade. 

The good news is that there is nothing we have done, or will do, that could make God love us any LESS or any MORE than he already does. Grace is not about US and our issues or accomplishments; Grace is about HIS LOVE. 

We already ARE loved. We don't have to pretend. Or work to accomplish it. Or worry about losing it. We just need to accept it. And begin to live in gratitude rather than in pretense. 


If you didn't get to hear this message in person or via live stream, I encourage you to check back here in a few days once the video has been uploaded. The sermon is short and powerful, and the music is skilled and moving. Even when I don't seem to have time for everything I want to accomplish in a week, I always end up glad that I made time for services like this: 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Follow your heart?

Contrary to popular belief, maybe we should NOT always follow our heart. The heart is unreliable and can even be manipulated by others. These unreliable emotions are what leave us exhausted, frustrated, doubtful, hopeless, and lacking focus. 

God wants us to be more emotionally attached to him than to any other person (or circumstance), and that is how we can find emotional stability and health. We must be honest with what we feel, challenge it, and change it. We don't have to automatically accept our feelings--good or bad. We can take control of them. 

Above all else, guard your heart because out of it flow all the issues of your life. (Prov. 4:23)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)

So who or what am I more emotionally attached to?? Wow...Where do I even begin? 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Protesting [during] the national anthem

Few states take their patriotism as seriously as Texas does, but despite the fear of alienating my Texan family members and friends, I believe I have something important to share about the recent national anthem protests. 

According to many media outlets, and even more internet trolls, several professional athletes have begun "protesting the national anthem," but it seems to me that they are in fact advocating for what the anthem represents: freedom and justice for all. By quietly sitting while the anthem is sung, they're protesting the system that is not enabling the anthem to serve its true purpose for all Americans. I haven't heard any of them say they disagree with the ideal of American freedom or with the people who fought for that flag, but they certainly disagree with the fact that the same protection doesn't belong to everyone. 

A recent statement from Steve Largent, a former NFL star turned politican helped shape my new perspective on this topic. I appreciate the respect Largent is trying to show here--both to the patriots who have fought for our country, and to the people who have conducted their silent protests during the anthem. But I think his response also reveals more systemic social oppression than many white folks (especially white men) might realize. 

Largent says "that anthem means something to me, and it should mean something to everyone." The hard part to accept is that it DOES mean something to these protesting athletes, but to them it means a reminder of the freedom, respect, and opportunity granted to people who don't look like them.

Like many well-meaning Americans, Largent kindly says that he's not discounting the African American experience but that there is a better time to make their statements. Honestly, at first I thought so too but then I realized I couldn't think of another time that would have as much of an impact. Largent suggests that NFL players should use their access to microphones, pen, and paper to voice their concern instead of sitting during the anthem, but I can't imagine that anyone would actually staff a press conference if an African American athlete simply wanted to announce that he disapproves of racial oppression. Sure, maybe if they wrote an article and posted it online, it might be read by some of their fans, but to make a difference outside of their fan base, I can understand why they chose to make their statement in such a public manner. This brought me a surprising revelation of the privilege through which many of us have viewed this protest--The privilege of not realizing when opportunities don't exist for others.  In this case, many of us have assumed that everyone has plenty of viable options to initiate the change they're addressing, and we've assumed that these men rudely chose to bypass those options in order to sit during the anthem. 

That same example of privilege parallels  Largent's statement that "The thing [he draws] a line on is when you are trying to honor the country that has given all of us so many opportunities."  The flag is supposed to represent freedom for ALL, right? I don't believe these athletes are trying to disrespect the flag itself or the people who sacrificed to uphold it, but they ARE trying to draw attention to the fact that those opportunities aren't being shared equitably among all the people who deserve them. Shouldn't our frustration be with the oppression preventing what the flag stands for...instead of with the protestors telling us there's oppression preventing it? 

We need to stop buying in to the headline that these men are protesting against the national anthem itself, that they're unpatriotically sitting during the anthem. We need to start patriotically fighting with them for what our anthem is supposed to stand for. Then everyone will want to stand up for it again too.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A silent nightmare... with piano and flute?! 

If you want a glimpse into living with nightmares, pick just a few sections to preview then simply move on to whatever video pops up next. Fairly unsettling but not so bad every once in a while. 

If you want to understand what it's like to experience this every night, then watch the whole thing and sit silently for a few minutes trying to "process it" afterward. Harder to handle when it's that complex, detailed, and dark all night, all week long. 

If you just want a good laugh, have me over before you watch it and I'll narrate the whole thing for you...Presto horreur comique! (Humor is a good coping mechanism, right??)

P.S. Remember, the early 1900s weren't as "wholesome" as some people might have us think! This is pretty darn twisted at times...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Spokane summer!

This new job of mine has taken me all around the Spokane area, and on a daily basis I find myself looking out the window thinking, "that looks like an awesome place to visit later." Well, summer is almost here, and that means I will soon have time to explore all these amazing places I have been wondering about!

So please take a look at this list and let me know which one(s) you'll join me on!  
Please also let me know if there is an awesome place I should add to this list! 

My goals for this list of activities:
1) To enjoy more of what this Spokane region has to offer!
2) To spend time with friends--or maybe even in solitude--while being active and proactive!
3) To spend a maximum of $0-10 on each experience. Of course, some outdoor adventures will be relatively FREE! Some days will be longer and possibly include multiple activities, so I anticipate that the cost per day will vary. 

Locations I'd like to visit:
9 Mile Falls (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
Indian Painted Rocks (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
Dishman Hills natural area (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
Turnbull wildlife refuge (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
A day on the Centennial Trail/river/Minnehaha, 
East Valley/Wellesley park (probably sportsing),
A day of gathering at Greenbluff, 
Cat Tails, 
South Hill dog park,
New dog park in the valley,
A day on South Perry St. (Coffee, yoga, shopping, dinner, maybe even climbing the monster stairs), 
A day on Monroe Street (coffee, shopping, dinner, etc.)
A day on Garland (maybe during the August Street Fair?),
An evening at the Kendall Yards Night Market,
Antiquing in Hilliard, 
Brownes Addition concert series,
A writer's session at Auntie's Bookstore,
An evening on the terrace at the Grand Hotel,
Music in the Barrister Winery courtyard,
Arborcrest Sunday or Thursday concert, 
First Friday in downtown Spokane. 

Ideas I'd like to try, not tied to any specific location:
dance workshop, 
percussion workshop, 
an evening at an outdoor movie, 
open mic/slam poetry, 
sunrise yoga, 
kamikaze tennis,  
farmers markets, 
other outdoor concerts! 

Maybe a great big to-do list seems opposite of a vacation but since I have missed out on these ideas all year long, I really just want to make up for it when I can! So call/text/PM me and let's start planning our next adventure!!!