Bullet Journal, one month in

My entire world has changed. A new organisation system has actually changed my life. I knew I was onto something big when I wrote about my Bullet Journal (or BuJo, for short) in this post but I figure it would be worth it to report on the practical applications it has had for my day to day life.

A bit of background first. Ryder Carroll created the Bullet Journal system and called it “the analog system for the digital age.” You can check it all out here. But others have taken that system and merged it with the planner world and that where I found  myself. Creative layouts for days, weeks, and months combined with the rapid logging technique outlined by Carroll and all of a sudden, I was hooked. Like many people who’ve found their BuJo niche, I tried many planners over the years. My mom got me a planner when I was a kid and I saw her using her little binder filled with dates and addresses and useful things. My schools provided us with little spiral planners to use each year too, and that I filled with homework and school projects and field trips and such. As an adult, I’ve tried many datebooks and calendars and planners and after a few weeks or months, I inevitably give them up. I’ve also kept journals since I was 6 or 7 years old, but my habit has fallen by the wayside recently. And my to do lists were epic. I’d write them down on anything I had at hand, from my actual hand to mirrors (dry erase markers work very well on bathroom mirrors!)

The Bullet Journal system is a to do list, datebook, journal, and planner all in one, plus so much more. I have my whole life in there and it is all kept safe in the index at the front. When I make a new list, I mark the page number in the index. It seems like such an easy concept but it really is the heart and soul of the journal. What is the point of making lists if you can never find them later on?

So what is it about the BuJo that drew me in and changed my life? Well it is because it is so adaptable. In the past, I’d use a planner that had all the dates and layouts pre-printed for me. I’d choose a horizontal or vertical layout or a monthly view and then be stuck with that forever. In the month since starting my new BuJo though, I’ve set up several different kinds of layouts, all inspired by photos posted to Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, changing my layout to suit my needs. If I need to have a weekly layout, I can set that up, but if I find I am not as productive that way, I can tweak it as needed the next week. I’ve discovered that I like a daily layout at the moment, because it combines my list of tasks and chores and journaling. But just last night, I decided to try a layout that puts two days on each page. It’ll be sort of a cross between a weekly and a daily. But that’s just it. I can change things up to suit my changing needs. My summer is not terribly busy, so I imagine things will change in the autumn when I get involved in projects and events and stuff. It’s the flexibility that I need.

Nowadays, or at least the past month, I wake up knowing exactly what I need to do that day because I organised myself the night before. I’ve actually found myself dreaming about notebooks. (I often wake up when my Sir goes to work at pre-dawn hours, and then I go back to sleep. It is in that time that I’ve found I dreamt of notebooks and checking things off a to do list.)

I’ve discovered a whole group of people that seem to be just like me. I have a hoard of pens and pencils and an addiction to notebooks and other “school supplies” and now I “know” others who are the same. My favourite scene in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is when they’re looking at Indy’s father’s grail diary and I discovered others who felt the same way. It is a great feeling to know of others with this quirky penchant for all things written.

In my search for the perfect system, I’ve discovered an exciting new world of products that I never knew existed. Leuchtturm1917 is a brand I had never heard of but all of a sudden, their limited summer edition notebook is a thing that must be in my life. And my mother has written letters to me with fountain pen for years, but I never wanted to learn until now for some reason. I’ve got my first fountain pen and found the helpful folks at the Goulet Pen Company have a great website full of things to enable me. They post useful videos and blogs and product reviews and I have already bookmarked their website so that I won’t have to try very hard to visit. I’m not being compensated in any way to say these things either. I just love to share the things that make me happy. And boy howdy, I’m a happy girl!

IMG_0099

My morning: coffee, a letter to a friend, my new fountain pen, and my BuJo!

IMG_0104

The key at the front of my BuJo. I got inspiration for this from Smita Bose on the FB group: Bullet Journal Junkies

IMG_0105

The first page of my Index. I deliberately made two pages for this.

IMG_0106

The second half of my Future Log (essentially an at-a-glance calendar.)

IMG_0102

One of my lists. I’m determined to visit all the beaches of Oahu before we eventually move away.

IMG_0101

I really love the Tour de France and tracking it this way helps me feel super involved.

IMG_0107

My June month at-a-glance.

IMG_0103

My first layout for June

IMG_0108

I changed to a fun weekly layout

IMG_0111

Page 1 of the next weekly layout I tried

IMG_0112

A July goals and habits page.

IMG_0100

And two of my July daily spreads.

 

Advertisements

CHOOSE to be happy

I lead a nice life. My husband is my best friend and I currently live in a place many consider paradise. I have many loved ones, near and far. Believe me, I completely understand that I am a very blessed girl. I have known heartache though. I have bad days, where I can’t find anything good to talk about. I am frequently appalled by the things I see in the media, social media or even the news on TV. This world confuses me and makes me cry. So why am I so happy?

Because I CHOSE to be. I firmly believe that happiness is a conscious choice you have to make for yourself because so often the world will try to make the opposite choice for you.

Several years ago, before my sweetheart and I were hardly friends, I was in a relationship with a soul-sucker. I won’t go into details, more on why in a minute, but suffice it to say that I was a different person towards the end of the 4-year relationship than I had been at the beginning. I had pushed many friends away and my family tried to tell me how depressed they thought I had become. It took one long weekend with members of my family that I don’t get to see often for me to realise the depths of my unhappiness. It surprised the hell out of me, I can tell you. It wasn’t the sort of black and white situation where there’s a beginning and an end, but I finally started an uphill climb. It felt like I was making my own choices, rather than having them made for me.

I started doing the things that made me happy. I started dance classes again and then I reconnected with the friends that I pushed away (and they were gracious enough to forgive me, and incidentally, this was when I reconnected with the Sir who would become My Sir) and then I moved from FL to DC and just generally made decisions to be happy. Things weren’t rosy all the time. I struggled often in my new life, but I look back now and it is a time that was still tinged with light and joy. The struggles were things that I had to overcome and I did and now we don’t dwell on them anymore.

Now, I try very hard to see the good things in my life and I focus on them. I say that I try “very hard” because like I said before, life isn’t easy and sometimes bad things happen. But if you CHOOSE to see the good, over time, you will have an easier and easier time seeing it. If you look for bad things, negative things, things to complain about, you will find them. But if you train yourself to notice good things, beautiful things, kind things, you will find those too.

It sounds a bit like I’m telling you that I’m always optimistic and happy, doesn’t it? Well last night, I got about 3 hours of sleep and missed meeting up with family to go to the beach because I slept through my alarm and when I finally did wake up, I had the telltale signs of a migraine, deep in the back of my neck and on upward to behind my eyes. My Sir is working on a Saturday so I don’t have him to comfort me and I read a news report about the tiger cubs that were found in the freezer at a temple in Thailand and I cried because I couldn’t avoid seeing the graphic images the journalist included in their report. I can’t stop my feelings about the things that happen to me over which I have no control. BUT. I CAN control my response to them.

I try not to let negative things dwell in my thoughts. That’s the difference I see between me and negative people. Yes, there are many things that get me down, but I refuse to dwell on them. It is why I rarely talk about the things that upset me once I’ve processed through them. I don’t claim to be happy all the time every day, but I am a happy person and that’s the difference. What is the point of telling you the details of that sad relationship I was in, since I’m in one now with the person who was meant for me? Occasionally, if I think a friend could benefit from hearing my experiences, I’ll share, but generally, it stays shut up in a corner of my memory that I rarely access.

I’m the kind of person that just can’t help but share the things that make me happy. Empathy is a real thing; some people truly feel the pain of others when they receive bad news. It is worse when they have to give bad news. Imagine, if you can, how it would feel to have your own tragic feelings and then to deal with the grief and sadness of others once you give them the news of that tragedy. It compounds emotionally until you’re overwhelmed. I dislike even watching movies that are too emotionally intense because then I feel the same things as the characters and that gets overwhelming too. So I choose to mitigate this by sharing happy things with my loved ones. If I find something as simple as a comic that made me laugh, I’ll send that to someone, in the hopes that they find it as funny as I did.

You deal with the world around you as best you can and that’s life. It’s the relationships you build and the experience you have. But you can choose to see them as mostly good or mostly bad. And I firmly believe you’ll be happier for it if you choose to see the good.

Just me and my BuJo

It feels like it’s been years since my last post. I find that I’ve run out of ideas for things to write lately. This blog doesn’t have a theme really, so if I can write about anything, why have I felt so limited? I’m pretty sure it is because I will get ideas at the least opportune moments. It usually goes like this:

“OMG I should totally write about that time when that thing happened to me at that place!,” I think to myself as I’m cooking a complicated dinner for my Sir.

“Wow, that was a great social commentary that my friend posted on Facebook today and I find that I have several thoughts on that matter,” I muse as I’m driving to do something.

And then I get distracted by whatever activity I’m headed to, plus the traffic driving back home and it is inevitably stricken from my memory record. It is my curse. I’m filled with guilt because I love to write.

So what have I done to mitigate this worrisome curse? I’m glad you asked!

I started a Bullet Journal (BuJo) today and I’m already obsessed. It is like it’s the journal system I’ve searched my whole life for, without knowing that I was on a quest. Just like that, a whole new world of organisation, creativity, and writing has opened up before me. I just had to share my joy.

I first heard about this whole Bullet Journals fad just two days ago. A friend posted about it on her Facebook and I investigated a little bit, but it didn’t quite make sense. I signed up for the Evie & Sarah Bullet Journal email challenge, but the information comes in pieces, one day at a time. I was not getting the full picture right away. Now I understand that it is because the full picture is an infinite universe of possibilities that in no way can ever be explained in one day. But two days ago, I spent a little time trying to find out information about it and I was underwhelmed. I put it from my mind.

Until this morning. I often wake up and scroll through my newsfeed before I start my day. (I’m six hours behind my family and friends on the East Coast so I find that they’ve already posted their adventures by the time I wake up.) Today I found a BuzzFeed article about the BuJo though and it promised to answer all of my questions. You guys. Angels sang above my head as I read. I was filled with inspiration and ideas of how to apply this journalling technique to my everyday life. I immediately made plans to head out to my mothership. Suddenly my day was full of delicious possibility!

I should explain. I’m pretty sure my mother colour-coded my school supplies when I was in kindergarten. I have very neat handwriting and I might have a habit of buying notebooks and pens even when I don’t technically need them. Sir has told me a few times that he is just glad that my addiction is to pens and notebooks and not designer handbags and shoes. I’ve written diaries since I was in elementary school, but for several years, I’ve been craving something more. Many Navy spouse friends I’ve met here in Hawaii told me the virtues of the LifePlanner, but I hesitated. It is the middle of the year and I didn’t want to shell out the money for a planner I couldn’t use every single page in.

So. Back to my errand to the mothership, or OfficeMax as the rest of the world calls it. I wanted a sturdy dot grid notebook because, for real, the photos in the BuzzFeed article were fabulous. I immediately needed to recreate them for myself. I invested in a leather-bound TUL notebook. It came with lined paper, but for five bucks I also got a pack of dot grid refill paper. Best of both worlds! I could have gone with one of the notebooks I already have in my closet that I keep for a rainy day, but to be honest, I was positive this would be such a great thing that I was willing to invest right away. Call it a gut feeling. I also bought new pens, on the recommendation of another stationary junkie friend of mine. (Seriously, are all sub wives this OCD about journals and pens?)

Once I returned home, I set myself up in my bedroom with my laptop and my new supplies. I opened up my Pinterest and started new searches. This time around, armed with the understanding that dawned on me, I found the pins to be helpful and inspirational, rather than confusing. Two hours later, I had my very own Bullet Journal started and set up and I can’t stop gushing.

Why did I start talking about my writing dilemma in the beginning of this post, then, if I was only going to go on and on about my BuJo? Well. With my fab new journal, I’ve got great plans of making it work for me (and by ‘me’ I mean ‘you,’ my readers.)  With my journal, I’ll be able to organise my time and my thoughts and thus, I predict that I will be able to remember more things and write more.

20160602_191854

I solemnly swear to write more often!

 

 

I Can’t Believe It

You guys. I know I was very nearly dragged here kicking and screaming. You remember how I dreaded moving to Hawai’i, right? I was really enjoying living in Connecticut and just wasn’t ready to move away. All I could really think about was that I hated being in a hot and humid climate. (I had some body concerns as well, since it’s always bathing suit season here.) But do you know what’s happened, now that I’ve lived here almost four months? I kind of sort of absolutely love it! Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone!

I’ve currently been thinking that I could possibly be the type of person who can find something awesome about any place I might live. I loved Connecticut and New England SOOO much but living on O’ahu is fantastic too. I’ve done so many cool things since moving here not too long ago. I go to the most beautiful beaches that were ever created. I can see majestic mountains carved from lava that flowed a bajillion years ago and I learned to snorkel to see fishes and turtles and other cool things. I have seen humpback whales swimming and breaching right by me!! How could I not love this place?!?!

It just took me a little while to see it. I’ll show you what I’ve seen and then maybe you’ll understand too:

20160226_144349

This is Pipeline the day after they held the Eddie Would Go competition on the North Shore.

20160226_152207

This was taken at Pupukea Beach Park, on the North Shore, not too far from Pipeline.

20160226_153514

This was taken at Shark’s Cove, at Pupukea.

20160226_153739

Another of Pupukea.

20160226_151952

This was taken at Shark’s Cove, at Pupukea again.

20160223_182921

This was at one of the lagoons at Ko’Olina on the Leeward side of O’ahu.

20160221_072624

This was taken in Ewa Beach.

20160225_092501

This is Kaneohe Bay, I believe.

20160225_090010

This was near the Moli’i dock by Kualoa Ranch.

IMG_838915423

Hālona Cove Beach, also known as Eternity Beach because of the movie with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.

20160219_132131

Another of Eternity Beach

20160219_154355

This is, like, the whole Windward side of the Island, taken from Nu’Uanu Pali Lookout.

20160224_070233

I took this stunning sunrise at the top of Diamond Head.

20160224_071730

Diamond Head sunrise

20160224_070033

Diamond Head sunrise, again.

20160225_090355

Great image of the Ko’Olau Mountain Range

20160225_113751

The Ka’a’awa Valley at the Kualoa Ranch

20160225_093826

Mokoli’i Island, also known as Chinaman’s Hat

 

That’s so last year…

It is 430 in the afternoon here on Oahu in Hawaii. Tonight, we celebrate the coming of the year 2016 and friends in other time zones are already at their parties. It has been a crazy year for us all and it’s nice sometimes to think about what has happened. In some ways, it helps to focus your thoughts on the future. No one knows exactly what the future will bring, but knowing what happened in the past helps you to know what you want more and less of. So as my contribution to my friend’s New Year’s Eve bash is cooking in my crockpot, I’ll reminisce and share my thoughts. Because that’s what one does at this time of year.

I’m struck by the most obvious change in my life first. Of course, if we were making a countdown list, the number one biggest thing to happen to me in 2015 was moving to Hawaii. It took up most of my thoughts and plans for the better part of this year. I knew we’d be moving around November for ages before we actually got the orders telling us where to go, and from that moment forward, it seems like all my mental effort went into this move. Now that I’m here, it seems like we could have done a few things better, but I’ll just put those lessons into our next Navy move and I’m sure it’ll go smoother. You live and you learn, right?

This past year had lots of ups and downs though. Personally, besides the big move thousands of miles away, I can’t think of much that’s of any real importance to anyone but me. A new haircut here, a new recipe there, a business adventure in the world of direct sales cosmetics and a celebration of having graduated high school ten years ago, but are all these things relevant to you? Maybe and maybe not.

What about events from the past year in a wider scope? There were inconsequential things that seemingly took the world by storm. I’m talking about those little trivial things that people liked to bring up with their friends at dinner or at the water cooler at work, but mostly seemed to be fueled by social media and then the news. Things like “the dress,” pictures of Pluto, or llamas running around a busy street made for light conversation pieces, but then I’m just left with a blank stare on my face when people mention things like the latest shenanigans of Miley Cyrus or other pop culture icons of the moment. I just don’t pay attention I guess. I’ve seen a few things pop up on my Facebook newsfeed and have no idea what people are talking about. (What is this word “bae” that people use now?) Maybe I should spend more time talking to people at the water cooler? I just did a short search online for various pop culture moments from 2015 and didn’t recognise half of the names and events. Do I just live under a rock? Or (gasp!) am I “old” now?

There were many things to add to the “bad” list of 2015 too. Some were just controversial and immoral, but many that were also terribly tragic and scary events. I don’t know if there were more than any other year or if I just noticed more around me. From terrorism both overseas and closer to home to reactions to Supreme Court decisions, from the refugee crisis to the beginning of what is going to be a long election year in 2016, from plane crashes to police brutality, there is just SO much to fuel a pessimistic world view. It is hard to be positive when so much has happened this year but maybe that is why those inconsequential things light up the Internet so often. I don’t watch the regular news anymore because it either seems to be stories that make me cry or make me wonder why Twitter was invented. If I were going to make a New Year’s resolution, it would be to stop reading the comments sections of news articles and posts. The worst sorts of people live there and reading their incendiary remarks just make me want to curl up in the shower and cry.

But think of this. What I think of as a HUGE life-changing event is really just a blip on someone else’s Facebook News Feed, isn’t it? I moved to Hawaii, for example, eight weeks ago. I was living in Connecticut one day and then Hawaii the next. It takes up a substantial part of MY 2015, but that’s just it. If you aren’t that close to me, you weren’t affected. This is something that I think about on a different level sometimes. For example, I got a traffic ticket shortly after moving here. You need to know that I’m a believer in following rules and signs, even if I don’t agree with them. (I’m a good driver, damnit!!!) So as I got back into the driving lane after the officer pulled away, I was feeling so down and just one inch tall. I cried. I imagined that everyone around me was judging me for being a horrible rule-breaking person, when in reality, I’m sure only a few people even bothered to notice. I was surrounded by people. People in cars, walking on the sidewalk, in the park nearby. But in this sea of people, I was the only one going through this Very Bad Day. In going about my daily life, I’m theoretically in contact with so many individuals who are going about their daily lives, but really, our lives by and large never touch. Think about that the next time you’re having just an average dinner out at a crowded restaurant. Next to you, maybe a couple is getting engaged or breaking up. Your inconsequential night out is like being an extra in a movie scene. How’s that for making you feel tiny?

Here’s to a more peaceful world in 2016. Why not try to be more optimistic? My Mary Kay mentor has this knack of expecting good things to happen to her. And do you know what? They always do. She’s human like the rest of us, but never says an unkind word or complaint and just knows from somewhere deep within her that good things ARE happening to her. What if we all were that way? I could get up on my soap box and rant and rave about all the things I think are wrong with this world and this society I live in. It might make me feel better but it would mostly be ignored. Instead, I’ll just know, from somewhere deep down, that 2016 will be a good year. I’ll make sure it is. You should too.

 

 

Featured image used with Creative Commons License, “Happy New Year” by Carl Jones

Ahh, the Hawaiian Life

So I’ve lived in Hawaii now for three weeks and here is what I’ve observed, learned, and experienced. I’ll probably come back and read this again after living here for a while longer and see if and how my mind changes. But for now, let’s start at the beginning. It’s a very good place to start, didn’t you know?

I won’t go into my feelings on the actual process of moving out here, other than to say quickly that it was the most stressful thing I’ve ever really done. Up until the actual week of moving, I was trying so very hard to be positive and optimistic. I had the worst night’s sleep pretty much every night for weeks and weeks leading up to it but I tried to curb my worry and my stress by forcing positive things out of my mouth. It didn’t work. But my Sir and I are out here on Oahu now and we’re sleeping like babies every night and that really does so much to help one’s mood and state of mind.

FB_IMG_1446660729397

Aria was not happy being cooped up in the car.

We were met at the airport by my brother-in-law and his beautiful family with yellow, purple, and green leis and there was a BREATHTAKING double rainbow over the airport. I felt for sure that it was a sign that everything was going to be OK and it sure was! There are rainbows here all the time, which is a good thing, because I just love seeing them and I hope I never tire of them. They’re a visible reminder of God’s goodness and grace and who doesn’t love something so beautiful?

20151105_162133

Our first Hawaiian rainbow.

20151105_161803

Another shot of our first rainbow.

So we’ve pretty much come out here with just the clothes on our backs. We did have ten suitcases though (and Aria the kitty, of course) and so we brought our bedding and a shower curtain. And knickknacks like my electric kettle (because coffee is a necessity!) and a small purse. But our household goods were boxed and crated up and are in the shipping process to us as we speak. As I say, we’ve been here for three weeks and I just cannot wait to get our stuff. It’s amazing how you take your belongings for granted! In particular, I’m dying to have my kitchen stuff so I can cook all the amazing things I want to eat. One benefit out here, available to the military out here on orders, is that we get stuff called “Aloha Furniture.” They understand that shipments of household goods can take four forevers to get out to the island, so they have a few pieces that they loan out for free. It’s sort of made out of rattan and bamboo, and the couch cushions look like they’re decorated out of the Tommy Bahama catalog, but they’re better than nothing! So we’re very thankful that the military was that thoughtful to set up this service for us. We were also able to get a few kitchen basics from base too, so we can cook simple things.

20151109_091827

Gotta love the Aloha Furniture

Also. Please note that we now eat the most incredible amount of pineapples. We can cut one up and finish it in the same day. It’s just so good. We’ve pretty much decided to always have one on hand.

In the time we’ve been here now, we’ve learned a lot about this island. The island was formed millions of years ago because of two volcanoes and lava flow, but currently those volcanoes are extinct and all that remains is the two mountain ranges and the valley in between them. What that means for me is that it’s created the most beautiful scenery. We live in a very peaceful neighbourhood but driving anywhere on the island means seeing beautiful cliffs and mountains either up close or off in the distance. If we drive about 40 minutes to the other side of the island, we go right through Ko’olau range and it’s just spectacular to see.

20151110_144653

This is the Ko’olau Range

We’ve seen some of the brightest blue water you could ever see a few times now. There’s the Hālona Blowhole–when the tide is high, it sends water through a natural rock formation and it shoots out through a hole in a particular rock and looks like a geyser. We’ve been there twice now and I loved it. It’s a great place to see the beautiful Sandy Beach too. We visited a spectacular lookout point called Nu’uanu Pali. It was incredible to see the panoramic view of the windward side of the island. We went snorkeling out sort of near Hanauma Bay and saw a sea turtle just moseying on by right next to us. We rode on cool submarine scooters and had fish RIGHT UP next to us. And just today, we went to a pretty lagoon they made in the resort part and there were three wild sea turtles just swimming along right there with us! They’re endangered, so you’re not allowed to touch them. And we learned today that you can’t feed them seaweed either. SOOOO COOOL!!!!!

DSC05700

Submarine Scooters

DSC05686

Feeding the fishies

SUNP0006

Hello Mr. Turtle. Or Honu in Hawaiian

SUNP0012

My Sir swims like a fish

SUNP0028

Just hanging out

20151108_115241

Sandy Beach, from the Hālona Blowhole

20151108_115839

Here’s the Hālona Blowhole in action

20151108_115347

Beautiful, also taken from the Hālona Blowhole

20151108_145734

How could anyone not find this breathtaking?

20151110_142235

This was what I saw to my right from inside our car.

20151110_142148

And this is what I saw to my left from our car

Also, the Hawaiian language is both fun and difficult to pronounce. For the most part, from what I can tell, the vowel sounds seem to be easy to work with. What I have trouble is putting the emphasis on the correct syllable. I won’t tell you how wrong I was with the name Kameameha, but I had the sounds correct but when I had the accent on the wrong part of it, it wound up sounding like a Dr. Seuss character. We live on a street called Kaimalie and we’ve got a regular way of pronouncing it now, but we’re still not sure if we’re correct and we usually just spell it out for everyone anyways.

OK. Now let’s talk about pot holes here. They’re INTENSE and for a place that doesn’t see snow, I am surprised to see them. Apparently, they were built with not enough of a thick layer of asphalt and all the water that gets trapped under them, even without freezing and thawing, still manages to create the holes due to the incredible amounts of traffic. I worry about the life of my tires.

And speaking of traffic, it’s horrendous here. I’ve lived in places with terrible traffic too–NYC and DC–but here, it seems to be just because people can’t merge. The SEVEN lanes of the main interstate highway here will back up for hours just because a few people want to get on or off an exit and can’t manage to without coming to a stop. Or, for example, there’s a stretch of road here leading up to the interstate where there is substantial construction going on. (They’re building a commuter rail system.) But the traffic that has accumulated there is not because of the construction. It is because they divert drivers from two lanes (going the same direction) around a concrete column and people lose their minds. There aren’t accidents or anything causing the backup, just a slightly different flow pattern and it’s the most aggravating thing ever to me. But if you just plan for the traffic, adding an hour of travel time, you can manage. I plan to invest in some audio books for my journeying I think.

And of course, I have to speak about my vehicle, since I’m talking about traffic. Meet Cuthbert, my beautiful 2008 Mini Cooper. Another military family was selling it because they are moving back to the mainland and I am just so stinkin’ thrilled to get to have this beauty. It’s the perfect island car!!!

20151106_104042

My Island Car, Cuthbert.

In short, it’s been great living out here for our first three weeks. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we spent it with our family and two dear friends who also moved here from Connecticut (by way of California though.) I get to spend the next three (or four) years here at the beach and in the mountains. I really am the luckiest girl alive, I just needed to get here to realise it. I will say, it’s difficult being so far away from my family. I’ve never lived in another time zone before (but I have lived almost a thousand miles away…) but I try to keep in contact as best I can. Facebook is very helpful that way!

Aloha!

 

 

 

Confession: I Don’t Want to Move. Yet.

I have a confession to make, right here in all the privacy of the Internet. You can quote me on this one. Are you sitting down? Are you ready?

I’m not excited to move to Hawaii.

There. I admitted it.

Why do I feel like admitting this is a huge step? After all, I knew when I married my Navy Sir that I’d get little to no input on where we make our home. He’s apt to be sent anywhere in the world every few years and I can take it or leave it and I chose to take it. I was born into a military family anyways, and so I’m used to the moving. In fact, I dislike remaining in one place for too long anyways, so if I’ll be itching to move away in a year or two, why am I so gloomy over living in “paradise?” Everyone tells me I’ll love it and that they’d give their right arms to live in Hawaii and so on.

Well it’s complicated, I guess. Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining here. The most important thing for me is to be with my husband, and we’ve agreed that if it’s possible for him to take me with him wherever he needs to go, then I’m going, end of story. Obviously, deployments are not for me, and knowing that those will come up in his future, it’s so important for me to get the time I am allowed with him.

And haven’t I just said that I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii? I’m sure I’ll like it once I’m there. I think I’m the type of person who can be happy living anywhere. But I say this having only lived on the East Coast (from Florida to Connecticut) and now I’m planning a move to an island in the middle of an unfamiliar ocean. I’m terrified if you must know. Right now, I’m in the same time zone as most of my family. If I really wanted it, a plane ride is actually a really simple thing. Hell, a train ride is sufficient to visit my dad in Virginia.

And consider that we’re about to embark on one of those Super Adult adventures and actually buy a home there. (What?!) What if we sink money into a new home and get in over our heads? I could spend days worrying about the ‘what ifs’ because they’re easy to think up. I try not to worry about the silly ones though. (What if I’m eaten by a shark? What if I fall into a volcano?) The ones I tend to think of seem to be plausible and then I spend the next few days trying to convince myself that everything will be OK. It is easy to get lost in those thought patterns. My words out loud to my family and friends are words of confidence. My inner monologue is less sure. I spend a lot of energy these days in staying optimistic. Allow me a few moments to indulge in the less-optimistic side. (No pessimism though…just thoughts.)

I think a good portion of my reluctance to leave is because of how much I like living here in Connecticut. I still feel sort of like I only just moved here and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet. I even love the snow in the winter. Moving to Hawaii in November means I’ll miss all of it.

The other part though is that Hawaii just isn’t my own version of paradise. The photos I’ve seen look truly beautiful but they don’t inspire the passion that say, Scotland did when I visited a year ago on our honeymoon. I actually got misty-eyed looking out at the scenery there and I felt so at peace, like I could stay there forever. I have to tell you, I’ve never felt like I could stay in one place before.

I’m sure I’ll make great friends out there. My Sir’s Navy brother is stationed out there too and I’m terribly excited to see him and his family. My Sir and I will have adventures in lagoons and beaches and we’ll have great stories to tell one day when we’re not living there anymore. I’m just sad to leave the little church where we got married. And I’m not thrilled on missing the beautiful winter here. And I have this fear that the minute I’m so many thousands of miles away from my family and friends, they’ll all forget me and move on with their lives.

I can cheer myself up by saying that everyone and their mother (um, and my mother) have said that they’ll come visit us in Hawaii. I can dwell on the possibilities of loving a tropical lifestyle and perk up. But for now, in the middle of the night here in Connecticut (because I can’t sleep) I’ll take this time to reflect on my insecurities and shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone else. Just keep that between you and me and the Internet.

To Defend My Episcopal Church

I am not a professional truth sayer. I have not studied theology and divinity in any formal sense (my Bachelor’s Degree is in musical theatre). I have never been invited to speak publicly or write for someone and this blog makes very little impact on the world. But I have something to say and I feel moved so strongly that I put the words of my heart to pen, so to speak.

I am a member of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and I am so proud of my church, I can hardly describe it with words. Mere words aren’t good enough to fully capture the love I feel for the church of my forbears. If you are one of my few subscribers, I think you already know that I am intensely devoted to my church. I love to learn our history and why we do the things we do. My family can trace a long line of Episcopalians on our tree but I was given a choice to continue that line. My mother never once said to me, “You MUST be an Episcopalian, Lauren.” She asked me without any pressure one day, “Would you like to be confirmed?” I was the one that said to her that I wanted to be in the choir when I was 8 years old and she probably spent half of the next decade driving me back and forth to choir rehearsals. My point is that I never felt pressure to remain an Episcopalian after I left the household of my parents. I chose to. The more I learn about my church, the more compelled I am to remain an active member. My church formed me into the woman I am today.

It is important that you understand that I am also not the type of person to stand idly by when a friend is being insulted and attacked. So how can I sit back and read the insults hurled at my beloved church, which is closer to my heart than almost anything else? (It may be a tie with my dear husband.)

Recently, this article was posted. It got my attention when someone close to me posted it to their social media page. If they were not so close to me, perhaps I’d have scrolled by without reading it at all. But I read it and got about halfway through and had to pause before finishing. I agreed with some of the author’s points, but not all of them. He was a little cruel in his introduction but he made other points in a respectful manner. I agreed with some things and disagreed with others but then got to his rant about The Episcopal Church and I felt hurt by his words, as if he had been ranting about me personally. If I am a part of my church, I share responsibility in our actions, right? So his words were directed at the whole Episcopal Church, but I claim a portion of his ire.

I invite you to read his words, directly lifted from his article, without any edits, I even left his own links to his sources. I took the paragraph before it as well:


Here’s the thing: this brand of Christianity is only popular in the abstract. People, particularly non-Christians, like to share YouTube videos about it and maybe go so far as leaving a supportive, self-aggrandizing comment. “I’m not homophobic either! Yay us!!!” But nobody will give their lives over to this nonsense. They won’t even give their Sunday mornings to it, so liberal churches die rapidly by their own hand.

The Episcopalians, for instance, have been very good at keeping up with the times, sacrificing Christian ethics and moral law at the exact rate with which they fall out of popularity in our culture, and for their troubles they’ll be mercifully extinct in a few decades. Fortunately, they can ordain all the transsexual lesbian bishops they want, but while the culture applauds them, nobody will actually show up on Sunday to hear their homilies promoting sodomy and abortion. They can just stay home, watch some MTV or Internet porn, and receive the exact same message.

But even if all Christian churches aren’t achieving Episcopal-Level Blasphemy (ELB) – hosting Planned Parenthood banquets and literally celebrating the murder of children and so forth — still, we see more and more embracing a belief system drained of its moral substance. It is a belief system not only heretical, but utterly arbitrary and boring. After all, who needs Christianity if all it offers could be just as easily summarized on the inspirational poster your kid’s guidance counselor hangs on her wall? No reason for church or the Bible when you can just pop on by Mrs. Gunderson’s office and see insightful slogans like “smile” and “positivity is key.” Throw in a few vague bits about some generic hippy named Jesus, and you’ve got the sum total of the entire faith, as told by liberal Christians.


Again, words fail to acutely describe the hurt and offense I felt on reading this passage. I feel moved to defend my church because if I won’t, who will?

I have never heard an Episcopal priest give a homily advocating sodomy and abortion. I will admit to not having heard every homily given by every Episcopal priest ever in the history of my church, but I will hazard a guess that they’re few and far between. But I also will insist that man is not perfect and my church is simply made up of imperfect individuals trying to make a better world. To compare our mistakes to such a high standard is to do a disservice to those of us who are trying our best to live how Jesus called us to, and we find that the true nature of God is love, and through baptism, we share in his victory over sin and death.

The official slogan or tagline of my Episcopal Church is “The Episcopal Church welcomes you.” It doesn’t say you have to do anything to earn that welcome. It is given freely. I’ve never seen an individual Episcopal church throw anyone out who needed help. The governing body of my Church doesn’t even set down an official dogma as such. One of my favourite metaphors to describe us is the three-legged stool. The stool stands on three things: Scripture, Reason, and Tradition. The stool won’t stand up without even one of the legs. Everything we do can be boiled down to those three things and I think that is the most informed and efficient (read: best) way to go about worship and faith. We don’t “pick and choose” what to believe. We temper our interpretation of scripture with reason and consideration of the personal experiences and traditions that have been handed down. We don’t just worship certain ways for tradition’s sake; it comes down to what makes sense and what does the Bible say? And we are incredible human beings with the amazing ability to use our logic and sense, but isn’t it miraculous that we’ve been given the gift of this discernment from our Maker?

Why does this man think my church is so bad? Is it because our profession of our faith is different from his? He believes we are going to rapidly decline in membership numbers in a few decades, but then says that “more and more” are coming to profess their faith in a similar way to my church. Does being different from him make us incorrect? And why is he our judge? What if he worried about his own imperfections and let us worry about ours? It seems to me that it was his intention to be spiteful and vindictive and what good does that do him?

Recently, I had a social media debate about the Kim Davis controversy. In the words of J. Russell Lloyd, hers is not a case of “religious persecution. In the United States, we do not examine the sincerity or reasonableness of your religious beliefs in the public arena. You can believe any and everything in the name of your faith. However, the government may not deny you services based upon the religious belief of the government, its agents or employees. When that happens, then a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment occurs, which is precisely what happened when Ms. Davis refused to issue marriage licenses under ‘God’s Authority.'” 

In professing my support of the gay community, that they are loved by God as his children and as such, they deserve our care and concern, I am immediately telling some Christians that I am, by their estimation, not really a Christian at all. But to them I say that above all else, Jesus said to love God and to love my neighbour. (But then the question arises, “Just who is my neighbour?” My interpretation is that my neighbour is everyone.) So in doing that, I am upholding his teachings. If you hate anyone (or any group of people) because of your religion, you’re doing it wrong. Once upon a terrible time in this country, “religious liberty” was the term used to justify racism. We do not allow businesses to refuse service to others based on the colour of their skin, so why is it OK when it is the person’s sexuality? I’m not saying our society is perfect but we’ve come a long way and so the fact that this hatred still exists is not exemplary of a people who profess to know and share God’s love. I think it was put best on the Integrity website, here.

For Episcopalians, the four gospels are the most important part of the Bible. It is significant that Jesus never addressed homosexuality. However, Jesus spent a great of time ministering to those considered outcasts by the society and religious leaders of his day.

Episcopalians have historically looked to three sources of spiritual authority–scripture, tradition, and reason. Using scientific knowledge and personal experience, we employ our God-given intellect to interpret the Bible. In the past, the Bible has been used to justify slavery and the domination of women. Even so, the Holy Spirit is leading the church into a greater understanding of the truth about homosexuality.

I also invite you to listen to one of my favourite people, Bishop Katharine, the head of TEC.

What if I told you that not every Episcopalian supports gay marriage? Can they still call themselves Episcopalians? Yes. The Episcopal Church welcomes you. All of you. And so do I.

Keeping Up Appearances

Is wearing makeup a good thing or a bad thing? This is a tough question to answer and the answer actually is that there are many answers and perhaps it just raises more questions. Is it only vain, conceited, or insecure women who wear makeup? Does altering one’s own appearance make you a bad person? Is it OK to feel confident because of the makeup you’re wearing? Is it also OK to feel confident when you’re not wearing makeup? Is there a certain way women have to look to be accepted in society? Is it such a bad thing to want to rid our faces of the wrinkles and age spots? If someone tells me I’m beautiful, should I believe them?

Every woman has to come to terms with these questions for herself and believe me, every woman will have different answers to these questions and some of us will change our minds about our own answers as we grow and experience life’s lessons. I was intrigued by a letter published online, from a father to his young daughter. He is in the makeup aisle in Target and feels that the ad campaigns are actually telling women that they’re not beautiful enough naturally and they practically shame women into using them. He wants to empower his little girl to be above this but in this process, he made me feel a little guilty about my own use of makeup. Hear me out because I feel like I have to defend myself now.

I love wearing makeup. I love that I can wear red lipstick to a fancy holiday dinner or just because I want to on any ol’ Tuesday. I love the way my eyes look with mascara, but some days, I go without. The dark circles under my eyes drive me insane and I do cover them up before leaving my house everyday. Very few people see me without at least that little bit of concealer. It might be because I was teased about them as a child (“Do you have two black eyes?”) and I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I turned sixteen, but you can bet that the day I was allowed to, the first thing I did was cover those bad boys up. Is it OK that there’s a little pep in my step on the days when I like the way I applied my makeup? Is it OK that I feel beautiful on the inside when I like the way I look on the outside? I don’t see anything wrong with that. Playing with makeup is fun–I can change what my face looks like, and then wipe it off and make my face look differently. Most mornings, my makeup routine takes about five minutes. Am I obsessed with wearing makeup? No. I have worn makeup almost daily now for a dozen years now, and I know what I want to accentuate and I know what I want to hide and I just get it done and move on. (My theatre background may have something to do with this, but makeup for the theatre has a different purpose than everyday makeup. And that could very well be a blog post on its own.)

Or consider the reactions I have received from friends and family when they see me sans makeup entirely. They tell me that I look tired, or pale, or sickly. (“Are you feeling ok today honey?” “Yes, I feel fine, I just didn’t put makeup on today.”) No matter how one feels on the inside, being told that one’s natural appearance looks sickly is terrible to experience. Now you may be saying that I shouldn’t care about what people think of me. Well, to you I say that I DO care about what my friends and family think, but a stranger’s words can hurt too.

What gets me though, is that women are ashamed either way. In my job as a Mary Kay beauty consultant, I meet fascinating women every day and we talk about our skincare and makeup concerns and find solutions. But I’ve noticed that frequently, women wear their favourite makeup everyday, but they are ashamed, as if doing so and liking it so much makes them a vain person now. Or they go bare-faced and timidly tell me that they don’t like to wear makeup with their eyes on the floor. Perhaps they’re intimidated by my Mary Kay name tag and they think I’m there to judge them and set down beauty rules! I hope no one feels intimidated by me. And I rarely set down hard and fast rules. Other than washing one’s face twice a day, I think women should be doing what makes them happy.

For example, one makeup “rule” is that we should pick a feature and emphasize just that and make everything else a little more neutral. If you have a ruby red lip, don’t wear bright blue eye shadow and crazy huge false eyelashes, we’re told. Well. If it makes you feel you’re looking your best when you have the boldest lipstick AND bright blue painted on your eyes too, GO FOR IT AND DON’T FEEL ASHAMED!! If that’s not how I choose to put my face on, that’s fine too. Everyone has a different idea of beauty.

I’ve talked about this a little bit in another post, but I’d like to explore this a little more. We know that ancient civilisations used makeup, in many forms that we might cringe at today. (A little belladonna and lead and arsenic and sheep’s blood will surely make me the most attractive corpse ever, right?! No seriously, look it up! Our ancient ancestors used some crazy things, both women and men!) Or look at the extremes that people go through to change their appearances today. Plastic surgery makes almost any change possible I suppose. All of this tells me that, in general terms, we are never pleased with our appearance. We can always find some flaw or fault.

I’ll admit it that I don’t always believe my husband when he tells me he thinks I’m beautiful. I’m my own worst critic, as most of us are in our innermost thoughts. I’m grateful to him though, because he never falters. He never tells me I need to lose ten pounds or that he prefers it when I wear certain makeup items to be pretty to him. I don’t actually think he notices my makeup usually, except for the lipstick that sometimes makes kissy prints on his face. Men have said these things to me in the past and it still hurts a little bit to think back on it, when I was never good enough for them. I’ve moved past it for the most part, but even now, when I no longer care about what these men think of me and my body I still remember the hurt I felt.

Also consider that makeup and cosmetics have been around for THOUSANDS of years. At one point, it was the fashion for men to alter their appearance. Rulers like Alexander the Great and Louis XIII used makeup we’re told. Fashions and style trends change. Queen Victoria publicly declared that makeup was morally wrong, and so wholesome women stopped wearing it and the association with makeup and prostitution was firmly cemented in our collective minds.

I’m not ashamed to wear my makeup and that I use a product line to protect my skin. But I never try to make other women feel badly if they do not wear makeup. It is important that women understand that their appearance is their choice, from their clothes to their hair to their faces. As a Mary Kay consultant, I give advice, not rules. It is important to me to empower women to choose for themselves.

Photo Credit: Red Lipstick by Richard Foster, used and modified via Creative Commons License.

An Introvert’s Letter to an Extroverted World

Dear World:

I’ve found myself on the receiving end of a lot of misunderstanding about my shy, introverted nature. I’d like the chance to explain it to you because, seriously, I’m tired of this.

First, did you know that though similar, being shy and being an introvert are different things? Sometimes a person can be both. But you can also be a quiet extrovert and a loud introvert! To people who’ve known me longest, they think I’m outgoing and energetic because I’m comfortable enough around them to show them the goofy silly me. They often tell me that they forgot that when I first met them at a crowded bar, that I very nearly clung to my boyfriend’s (now he’s my husband) arm the whole time. I tried to keep up the conversations around us but soon found that I had no idea what to say. Luckily for me, everyone around us was kind enough to re-start them when I mentally floundered for something to ask or say. Nowadays I am better with the chit chat, but I wouldn’t ever say I am comfortable.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “what’s the difference between an introvert and an extrovert?” Well I’ll tell you! Imagine that two people have a cup of social energy. This is the energy they’ll need to make it through a party. The introvert’s cup will likely be empty by the end of the night. Whether she was hosting or attending the party, she will have flitted around and talked to people. She may have talked to people she doesn’t know or friends she’s known since she was in school. All of that socialising likely exhausted her, even if she enjoyed it. At the end of the night, she needs to be alone to refill her cup, to recharge, so to speak. Introverts are all too often given the stereotype that they hate going to parties and being social. That is just untrue. It all has to do with how we get our energy back after we’ve spent it all. Extroverts, however, will tend to gain social energy as that party continues. It is through being social that they recharge and so at the end of the same party, an extrovert is ready for the next party, but the introvert might need to spend the day alone.

However, being shy is to be afraid of social interactions. Being introverted is to be easily overwhelmed by too much social interaction. Do you see the difference? I can get on a stage and perform in front of hundreds of people, but I find small talk with a person I don’t know to be MUCH harder to do. (But I’ll let you know that I am drawn to the theatre because my words and actions are scripted out and rehearsed and I find safety in that process.)

It is possible to have both shy and introverted tendencies, but to assume that one, the other, or both are fully able to describe a complex human being is to be incredibly disrespectful! When I’m in a leadership position, I do find it easier to make small talk with total strangers. I organised a flash mob for Halloween at my dance studio in Florida, and I found on the first day of our instruction that I was able to meet and greet those who were completely new to the studio and I was walking on Cloud 9 that day, let me tell you! However, with my Mary Kay home business, I’m encouraged to go to a convention center in Dallas for four days and spend the night with woman I barely know and it absolutely terrifies me.

I once took the famous personality test, the Meyers-Briggs. It is something a lot of employers require and can be a fascinating insight into your own life. Why do you do the things you do? Why did you decide certain things and act a certain way? Research shows that mankind enjoys categories. When we find something we don’t know we’re really thrown off because it has no category and so we rush to study and learn so that we can put it neatly in a box. Sometimes things go neatly into their boxes and sometimes they don’t (and so we create a new box!) but learning about your own personality is a liberating process. I’ve always been very self-aware. I don’t know if it is so much of my theatre background because I learned to read a character in a script like an actual person and then prescribe the same work to myself. Or maybe I’m just acutely aware of how I present myself and so I analyze my thoughts and behaviour and words all the time. Either way, knowing some generalities about others with my personality type is fascinating to me.

I’m an INFJ, according to the Meyers-Briggs testing system and mostly I find that it tallies with my own assessment of my personality. I wouldn’t say that it defines me but it is the one thing that comes closest, if a definition could be given. As I said though, humans are more complex than simple definitions allow. And I’m only 28-years old. So maybe I’m not finished with my personality yet.

So why do the extroverted people in my life tell me that I just need to be more outgoing? Why is my personality so offensive to those who are so unlike me? What you don’t realise is that my thoughts are kind, warm, and friendly, even if I don’t excel at small talk. I am constantly thinking about how others around me might respond to me, even if I am exhausted from spending time at a party with them all. What else can I do, other than my best? You know how when you expect bad things to happen, bad things seem to happen? Or looking for reasons to dislike someone will often make you find them! You can’t just tell a shy person that they need to be more outgoing and magically take away years of social fear. Why not accept them just the way they are and love them as God intended?

I leave you with these questions to ponder. Ponder them with sincerity and intent because I think the world would be a better place if we all did this.

What if we all tried to focus on speaking kind words? Instead of hiding our rude words behind the banner of “being honest” what if we all tried to think of the impact that rudeness will have on others, even others you didn’t intend to reach?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/60141638@N06/8508070539″>Hello My Name Is Introvert</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;