rest

hazy light & thankfulness

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Something about foggy mornings filled with gray light always seems to pull me out of myself, in the best way possible. Still not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s the way everything seems to stand still and you’re more cognizant of all the little sights, smells, and sounds around you that might normally get lost in the chaos of a typical American day. Or maybe it’s the atmosphere around you that seems to whisper that it’s finally okay to let all your muscles relax and just breathe and be for once, taking a moment to slow down in our world that’s normally always running at a million miles an hour. Whatever it is, these slow, tranquil mornings always seem to return a little more of the perspective I’ve been missing throughout the rest of the week. And maybe we all need a little more of that. Regardless of what season of life we might find ourselves in, there always seems to be this nagging sensation that you should be doing more, accomplishing more, or otherwise never stopping. We might allow ourselves to take a single day, or maybe even just a single part of a day to take a breather and reflect, but more often than not we still feel guilty about that rest we so desperately need. It’s the curse of productivity baked into the fabric of American culture, or so it seems. We feel like we need to be constantly on the go otherwise everything else that’s going by at breakneck speeds will pass us by. But that might be where our ever looming sense of dissatisfaction comes from, or at least that’s what I’m starting to discover about myself.

Every time we ramp up the speed on the treadmill of life, it’s so easy for us to think we’re still not getting enough done or that we’re still just barely keeping up with everyone around us, when we’re already running ourselves ragged. We set all these goals and milestones for ourselves (that may or may not be realistic), and we start to feel all sorts of angst when things don’t play out exactly the way we want them to, whether that’s not graduating from school when we thought we would, not having the job you want right after graduation, not paying off your student loans as fast as you thought, or whatever else it might be. With a myriad of expectations we set for ourselves (or that are sometimes set for us), it’s easy to lock ourselves in a mindset that only welcomes disappointment and pushes us to move faster and faster to get to where we want to be.

But these slow mornings have been reminding me that with slowing down comes more perspective, letting us look backwards instead of just forwards. And when we start to take the time to look back a little more, we’re able to see all the things we have to be thankful for and all the things we’ve already accomplished and already done instead of just the things that we’re striving for in the future, which is a powerful reminder that not all is grim just because we’re not right where we want to be in the present. And if those moments of stillness are hard to come by, start creating them for yourself. They don’t have to exist only on the weekends or during long periods of rest. There are spaces to create that stillness for yourself even during the storm of the week. We just have to look out for them and be more intentional.

do it for you

*deep breath in *deep breath out If you read my last post (and honestly, probably even if you didn’t), you’ll know that I’m insanely busy this semester, that is until May 21st, graduation day. It’s been maddening up until this point, having taken 21 credits until today (when I finished the last of my online classes, PTL), and as a result, I’m finding that I’ve dropped a lot of things from my life, simply out of sheer busy-ness. Today, I’m trying to reclaim some of those things, and one of them is being consistent with this whole blog game again, because doing this is something that fills me and something that I do for myself.

So, let’s backtrack really fast. It’s currently spring break, and considering that it’s me, I’m not off doing anything crazy or traveling anywhere, and that’s probably a good thing. With all of the residual stress that’s still coming off my shoulders from this top-heavy semester, I’m not sure I could’ve handled the stress that comes from traveling with friends (see #100daysinSpain, haha). So, instead, I’m hanging out at home, trying to decompress a little on this off week. But also, considering that it’s me, I’m never not doing anything, so I’ve also got this week filled with lots of little menial tasks and appointments, like going to the dentist, helping my grandma with technology, etc. I mean, hey, I have an entire week off so why not cross some of those things off the to-do list, right?

But today, one of the appointments I went to a little less begrudgingly was my appointment in the Career Development Office at Bethel, because I honestly have very little idea of what I’m going to be doing during my gap year next year and was really feeling the need to start figuring that out sooner than later. So, of course, I’m heading back to campus on the Monday of spring break, because that’s me. Campus was essentially deserted when I got there, so I got a really close parking spot, which is amazing during the day (#commuterlyfe), but it was also so weird to be able to hear the click of my shoes on the greenish-blue tile as I walked through the BC. There were some Student Life people milling around the occasional student who was still around campus, but other than that, it was pretty empty, which was strange to say the least. But I think it also contributed to the sort of gray, misty vibe that the weather had going on outside, so I rolled with it.

In Career Development, I met with this super great career counselor. Her name is Ann and probably everyone should go see her, because she’s fun, super nice, and also happens to be really great at helping you figure out your life too. So, there’s my shameless plug for Career and Calling, because every Bethel student should go in there, especially if you’re feeling hopelessly lost with graduation looming on the horizon, like me.

Anyway, aside from all the good career and life advice that she gave me, I think that she also taught me something else really valuable, and that’s the value of continuing to prioritize the things that you do for yourself. As we talked about a little of what I wanted my gap year to look like, obviously I wanted to be working and making money and paying off student loans and all that, but she also pulled out this undercurrent of me not wanting to hate what I was doing during that gap year, which was tied strongly to this idea of still having time for things that mattered to me, because we all know how busy life can get.

From our conversation, she told me that it’s so important to remember to make time for the things that we do for ourselves, because otherwise we start to lose our drive and then the things that we have to do start to lose meaning. For me, she saw one of those things as writing, specifically writing this blog, and she told me that when we get busy and stressed out with life, often, one of the first things that we drop is the thing that we do for ourselves. I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? A lot of time, those things don’t seem necessary. They seem extraneous. And we tell ourselves that we’ll just set them aside for long enough to get back on our feet and start making time for them again, but then life picks up even more and before long, it’s been a month since we wrote a blog post, or a year since we picked up that instrument, or a couple weeks since we’ve made art, and while that may not seem to affect us that much on the surface, it starts killing us inside. Because then, we lose stamina. The things that we do for ourselves give us energy and give us passion and give us drive to do the other things in life that, while we may enjoy them, we’re still doing for other people. So, when we neglect the things we do for ourselves, the rest of life starts to feel like a chore, slowly but surely.

This truth is something that I think I knew subconsciously, but that I’m actively working on now, especially during spring break. And obviously, this doesn’t mean that you should be selfish and neglect all of your other responsibilities. It just means that you need to remember to make time for yourself and the things that you enjoy doing simply on virtue of doing them, whether that’s reading, writing, making art, exploring the outdoors, whatever it might be. Those are the things that keep you sane, and I honestly don’t think you’ll last very long if you try to go through life neglecting them forever, telling yourself that you’ll get around to them eventually. It seems like a pretty simple concept, but I think that this is something that lots of us tend to forget amidst all the craziness and madness that life throws at us.

So, yeah, that’s one thing that I’m reflecting on this week, especially as I apply for jobs, have interviews, and start thinking about “adulting,” whatever that’s supposed to be.

Look out for more writing this week. It keeps me sane, and I’m trying to do more of it.

Happy spring break to those of you basking in the weeklong freedom, and press on to those of you who aren’t there yet or have already passed through it!

finding rest in the desert (literally)

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Sometimes I think about the way that God works things out and wonder why keep insisting on worrying and not trusting Him. But then I also remember that we’re human and that’s what we tend to do. We tend to get all nervous about things that God already told us would be just fine. Funny how that happens so often. This is something that I’ve been thinking about the past week and a half or so, because I was definitely worrying about a lot of little things before I left to come to Spain. I was worried that I would forget to pack things. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand when people spoke to me in Spanish. I was worried that people wouldn’t understand when I tried to speak to them in Spanish. I was worried that I wouldn’t like or wouldn’t get along with my host family.  I was worried that this semester would be too hectic for me coming off of a period in life where I just burned myself out on school. I was worried that fall break would be stressful and difficult to plan. I was worried about this. I was worried about that. I was worried about a lot of things that I ended up not needing to worry about that much.

Sure, I definitely forgot to bring some things that I wish I had remembered. And yeah, sometimes communicating in another language is a struggle, but we’re at the beginning of our fourth week here in Segovia and God has literally worked out literally every little thing that I had worried about prior to coming here. Unlike us humans, He tends to be kinda amazing like that.

So along those lines, I want to talk a little about how God has been providing rest for me in a time where I really need it. As I’ve already talked about a lot before, I came into this fall semester abroad off of a crazy summer in every respect, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all of it. I hated the summer linguistics program I was at, and while I absolutely loved getting to go back to Welcome Week at Bethel before leaving, especially because of all the people that pour into you there, it was still another thing that completely drained me up until literally less than 12 hours before I left (holla at getting 20 hours of sleep over 4 days; that was fun). So, needless to say, I was rolling into Segovia on empty and I really didn’t have the energy in any capacity for really much of anything.

With that as the backdrop, it’s been completely insane to see how God has just provided, rest and everything else, in the past three weeks. Our small (and sassy) group is wonderful, and I’m so glad that I get to do Spain Term with these crazy people. Not only that, but all of the little problems that have come up over the course of the past three weeks have all been resolved quickly as well, which I’m infinitely thankful for (ugh transcripts, travel plans, etc.).

I’ve had time to be with people, and I’ve had time to be by myself. I’ve had time to hang out with my host mom, and I’ve had time to hang out with God. I’ve had time to do homework, and I’ve had time to shop and wander around Segovia trying to get lost (I failed, which is awesome in and of itself). I’ve had time to think about things that I want to write, and I’ve had time to take a lot of really fun photos. Basically, I’ve had enough time to do almost everything, which is such a new and freeing sensation that I’m loving about being here.

In addition, I think that any trace of homesickness has finally passed (at least for right now). Every morning I wake up excited about what the day holds. I’m excited to walk through the Segovian streets and find new bakeries and cafes to try (or return to the same ones that I already love), and this feeling that I’m not going to have enough time to do everything I want to do is already creeping up on me, which I definitely didn’t expect. I almost expected to be longing for home at this point, but I just feel ready for everything that Spain and Europe are going to throw at me. And I think I’ve definitely reached a point where if I had to go home right now, I don’t think I’d be quite ready yet!

So here’s to starting to feel at home in Segovia, to feeling rested (even if I might’ve stayed up until 2am doing homework last night and gotten up at 8:30am today), to having wonderful friends, to having lots of artsy photos, to improving Spanish, but most of all to the One who is able to provide rest in unexpected places like the literal desert of Segovia (the official climate IS arid btw).

9.22.15.