All Things Considered

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Today I cried. It was the first time I had cried in a long time. At least from what I can remember and I haven’t been remembering too well lately. Short-term memory loss tends to make life difficult in that way. Anyhow, I cried and it felt really, really great. I cried first with my sister and then with my mom.

Moseying around our room at home today,  my sister asked me “are you OK?” I responded with “yeah, sorta, well actually no.” Cue tears. And she said that’s OK. Nothing is wrong with not having it all together. No one is asking or expecting you to be totally with it. I had a similar conversation with my mom. I am so thankful for these women in my life.

After coming home from spending two weeks in the hospital in Seattle, I wasn’t sure the kinds of emotions I would experience, but after one week in I’ve mostly felt overwhelmed. After being home for one week, there is still so much to process. That is to be expected.

Two weeks ago, I had a seizure that caused me to become unconscious. After not being able to communicate with me, my parents started reaching out to my school friends via Facebook. Finally, after sending my friend Andrew directly to my dorm room finding that I did not respond to his knocks, the police were called and the door to my room was broken down.

Before being flown to Seattle Children’s Hospital from Washington State University, where I had been enjoying my first semester.  I spent a short time in the ICU at Pullman Regional Hospital.

Things were bleak. I am no doctor, but I’m pretty confident that a lot of people were unsure of if or when I would wake up, and if so, what damage would follow?

Waking up, while clearly a great step towards recovery was nonetheless very confusing. I didn’t know where I was, who my parents were, or even what had happened.

In all of the confusion, there has also been  a lot of clarity. I’ve had to rely and trust entirely on Jesus and my doctors. Jesus has shown me that my priorities are out of place and I also need to take it easier on myself. His presence has been so imminent. One of the workers in the hospital told me “I am so glad you have your faith!” I am too. I cannot even begin to imagine where I would be without my faith.

I have never felt so loved in my life. By God, friends, and complete strangers. I’ve also learned that just because God throws us curve balls in life and we don’t receive what, does not mean at all that he does not care for us. This is not the case at all.

I feel strongest in my weakest moments. People have been calling me “miracle child” and more commonly, “fighter.” And while I know this is meant to be flattering, I rarely ever consider myself either one. I call it being human. I am who I am because of hope. Side note: many people who follow my blog, read a blog post I wrote in March titled Hope is Hard. If this post interests you in any way, I’d also encourage reading my thoughts about hope as it is a topic I have brought up.

When people ask me how I’m doing and how I’m handling everything, my typical response has been along the lines of “All things considered, I am doing great!” However, internally, I’ve also recognized it’s perfectly healthy and normal to recognize that there have been large bumps in the road and recovery, especially emotional recovery, will only come with time.

Everyone, whether diagnosed with epilepsy or not faces trials and tribulations of various sizes. Sure, the events which took place two weeks ago my not occur to everyone, but everyone has a story-one that is unique!

No matter what I write about, storytelling almost always becomes incorporated. I write and share with you only because I hope that it’ll prompt you to do the same! So tell me, what’s your story?

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Woman Without a Plan

my life
my life

I am what you would call a woman with a plan. I make it a point to plan out my day and/or week even if I know that realistically, nothing will go accordingly.

Something tentative needs to be in place.

I despise not knowing what is going on. When certain things happen, such as sudden downwards turn in my health, transferring dormitories, losing roommates, etc. I start to panic. Every piece of me screams “this was not part of the plan!” I do not recall writing this in my planner.

Seeing that I’m a planner, I don’t typically consider myself a spontaneous person. I am occasionally, but not by natural inclination.

I’ve found that dashed plans and other types of conflict is the only way I’ll turn my attention to other, more important things.

My life has been rather messy these past few weeks. However, I wouldn’t trade the mess for anything. I’m not saying that I liked it, but through it all, I learned how loved I was.

I haven’t always felt loved by my “friends.” I often felt as though everyone left when things got even the tiniest bit messy. Or, even worse, they’d never been there at all. Even when things were great.

I few weeks ago, I had an epileptic seizure during the night and fell off of my *high* bed.  I fell flat on my face and almost broke my nose. That wasn’t planned. Or expected. I had lost control. Again. Everyone knew what had happened except me. The paramedics, my roommate, the RA. My neighbors. Everyone.

To top it all off, roommate troubles led to my  moving out of my dorm room to a residence hall on the opposite end of campus.

Perfect.

It’s not worth it to gloss over the shitty things that happen in life. Sugar-coating doesn’t change the fact that something bad happened. Why hide the mess? When people, read my blog, I want them to feel human. That’s why I share stories from my personal life. Not because I’m searching  pity.

These things shift my focus back towards him. Where it should always be. Every time I try and take control, I fail. I wasn’t meant to do life alone. I was meant to do it with Him. And in community. A community that cares.

Over the next few days a  few friends murmured a few words of encouragement to me. Other friends didn’t say anything. They sat with me. Hugged me. Let my tears wet their clothes. They saw me at my worst. And instead of being disgusted and without telling me to grow up and get a grip, these events somehow let them love me more.

I still do not understand. Never in my life have I had friends so willing to meet me, right where I am. This is the Gospel in action.

God has not allowed me to endure this suffering alone. I can only hope that these trials result in opportunities for my testimony to be shared and God’s love and grace and peace and goodness to shine bright, even in the darkest of hours.

 

Life is Crazy and Writing is Hard

The most busy and awesome week of my life has been the week I moved out of my house and on to college. The night before I left, I wrote a post concerning transition.  The only reason why I know today’s date is because it’s a holiday weekend and I don’t have school tomorrow. I’m already procrastinating on my first paper of the semester. Rather, I’m taking much too long write a two-page paper. I’ll give myself credit for having completed a shitty first draft.    I didn’t realize I was still in summer mode. The first week of upper level classes flew by so quickly. I’m the junior-transfer student who has an academic advantage on other students, nothing more!

These past eleven days I’ve shaken more hands of more people than I’ve ever met at one time. Additionally, I’ve introduced myself to some individuals not once, but twice. Laughter has been unavoidable. I’ve said yes to some event or get together pretty much every single night since I arrived here. A football game, volleyball, dinner, sing-along movie night etc. At one point during these past few days I must’ve blinked because I feel as though I just arrived here. Only yesterday did I finally take out the very last cardboard box to the dumpster.

I’m becoming somewhat acclimated. It’s only under sixty-six degrees this evening and I’m shivering in my dorm room, ready to break out the sweatpants. I was actually able to sleep under all of my covers last night and turn off my fans. Progress.

While this new part of my life is thriving,  I  am failing recently to put forth effort into my writing, which I proclaim to love. My relationship with words is more of the love-hate type. Writing is certainly  easier said than done.  A recent trend in my posts has reflected an obvious struggle in simply sitting down and putting my pen to paper-or in this case, fingers to keys. There is no doubt that a resistance is present. And also winning.

 A Few Excuses I’ve Made to Not Write

  • Time-there isn’t enough
  • I’ll never stand out
  • My story isn’t important
  • I’m not progressing and growing
  • I don’t have money to invest into my website

The excuses mentioned above are hardly justifiable. Boy how I wish they were. To clarify, never do I lack a topic to write about. Many believe that writer’s block is due to the absence of subject matter. I’m learning that this is not the case. It’s pure laziness.

At lunch today, my friend Megan asked me “So are you just writing all the time?”

I was honored that she’d think I’m so disciplined as to maintain a disciplined writing habit. Unfortunately, I could not respond affirmatively and call myself an honest person.

*Gulp.*

I responded something along the lines of “Ummm… yes? Well, sort of, like if I’m not writing I’m thinking about what I’d like to be writing. I mean, lately, not really.”

Not exactly a straightforward answer. And lemme tell you, this isn’t the first time recently these encounters have occurred. I’m always thankful for friends who ask me these questions. The hard ones. Only hard questions provoke action.

I’m writing today because life is crazy and writing is hard-even when life isn’t so insane. I don’t have anything profound to share, but I tend to relate best with people who share their stories from day-to-day life.

There. You are all updated on my life. If you are new here, welcome. Old friends, it’s so good to see you again.

 

Until next time,

Kayla

 

When Transition is Absolutely Necessary

 

Creative Commons// Darin Marshall

I am back! These past couple of weeks have been rather busy these past couple of weeks wrapping up my summer classes and tearing apart my room. Since I’m in the currently in the middle of a transition, I’ve decided to share with you my thoughts, and why I personally believe transitions are important!

Before I go any further, you should know that I despise packing. I’ve always been one to over-pack. It’s really silly because I could bring everything with me to wherever I’m going and still be convinced that I don’t quite have everything I need. For me,  traveling is never enjoyable until the moment I actually arrive at my destination. Nonetheless, transition and change are very healthy. Moving is hardly enjoyable, but it forces me to re-evaluate my life. Putting my life into boxes is a wonderful reminder of what I value. Trust me, I’ve spent the past two weeks attempting to determine what I consider the bare necessities-turns out those items are practically everything in my closet. Ha! While discussing this with a friend she commented “it takes a move.” It really does. I’m not sure about you, but aside from a light spring cleaning, I don’t annually do a deep cleanse of square foot of my room. I’m just not a clean freak.I somehow managed to fit all of my belongings into the car. Well, my brother did most of the strategic packing, but I was an overseer of the whole operation. Trust me, had you been able to catch a glimpse of the trunk of our suburban, you would understand why this was such an incredible feat. I’m sure some of you resonate with my potential dilemma.

Change doesn’t scare me. I’m simply not in the habit of taking new risks and attempting new things. I constantly tell myself that this should not be so.  I suppose moving out of the house that I’ve lived in for ten years is a perfect opportunity break open that cozy cocoon of comfort. I may only be six hours away from home, but I may as well be in a different world in Pullman, Washington. Over the mountains and through the woods to Washington State University I go!

Transitioning is not easy because there is no telling what the future holds. But I promise you, change  is absolutely necessary. Necessary for growth and perseverance and also for fun!  There comes a time to start fresh and move upward and onwards. When you’ll discover when that is, I don’t know. You may not know either-at least not yet. Undoubtedly, it will be both easy and hard and with its own ups and downs. That is obvious.

You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips.

Airplanes and passports  and

New songs and old songs, but

People more than anything else.

You will need other people.

And you will need to be that

Other person to someone else,

A living, breathing, Screaming

invitation to believe better things.

-Jamie Tworkowski-

People are important. I deeply desire for everyone to find community. I’ve learned a lot about those deep bonds and the importance of both having friends and also being a friend.

Thank-you for continuing to read this blog and be a part of my story, despite my inconsistency and imperfections. If you write, surely you understand how impossible some writing days are. But whoever you are and whatever you do,  I really cannot express how much your readershipmeans to me. I’m excited to update you all on this exciting new adventure that is university!  Knowing that you care about what I have to say is what keeps me going. If you’re going through a transition, embrace the challenge, you’ll grow and learn from these new experiences.

 

Much love,

Kayla

 

P.S. I’ll be continuing with my next reading list very soon. I’ll be back after my move!

Pause. Breathe. Decompress.

More than convinced. I was more than convinced that while on vacation, I would get an incredible amount of writing done. I’d write everyday in my leather travel journal and share all the details with you, my readers, the very moment the plane ascended, the blue Wi-Fi light turned on, and I trudged into the chilly terminal in Seattle. After all, I somewhere in the description of this blog, I threw something in there about loving to travel, right?!

I’m sure, at some point in time, I will talk about my crazy Hawaiian adventure. But on this particular vacation, more than any other trip in recent years, I realized just how hard it is for me to live and breathe and function in the moment. I’m sure , whoever you are and whatever you, you can relate to this feeling. No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be a thought lingering at the back of your mind. A task on your To-Do list, which hasn’t been completed yet. An e-mail you need to respond to. A phone call you need to make. A conversation which needs to be held with a friend or family member.  You get the idea. It’s too easy, in the midst of all the bustle and hustle to forget to pause.

For me, personally, writing is my best escape. Not only do I take the chance to pause and write, but because I decompress at the same time. So when I say writing isn’t going all that hot, it means I’m stopping to pause, but all those crazy thoughts are building up inside of my head. And with nowhere to go, the pausing and breathing doesn’t do too much good.

That being said, last night, I finally started out my crazy thoughts. With no intention of anything being perfect or even making sense. The random nonsense probably isn’t blog worthy. However, there’s power in putting words on paper. It restores some sanity. Especially when we can’t always hop on a plane and escape to the beach. That vacation taught me the importance of creating a consistent sabbatical. Whether that be Sunday or Wednesday  is not important. Perhaps frequent staycations are the answer.

How do you carve out time in your day to pause? Feel free to share in the comments below.

 

Enjoy this long weekend! Don’t forget to Pause. Breath. Decompress.

 

-Kayla

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excuses Excuses

Creative Commons/ Alan Cleaver https://flic.kr/p/7NcEL3

Writing is hard a habit.

This happened last weekend:

“So, you keeping up with your writing?”

*Squirm*Cough*Eyes downcast*

Out come the excuses. “Well school, y’know, it’s hard to make time.” Blah blah blah. Sometimes I wonder if I should have chosen a career involving more public speaking. I’m good at obnoxiously rambling. I’m sure I looked quite pathetic.

It’s a bad deal y’all.

I was asked this question at a graduation party last weekend. To say my response was vaguely pathetic would be an understatement.  when talking to someone you haven’t seen in several months, it’s more than tempting to sugar coat things.

I didn’t quite sugar coat things, but I didn’t quite tell the truth which would be: no, not really.

A blog post here and there doesn’t exactly count as writing.  True writing is a habit. Habits require a person to make time. Nobody  has the time. It’s a choice to get up early or stay up late or forgo any bit of free time you have to simply veg out.  It is important I point out that “free time” is different for everybody. Maybe it’s your thirty minute bus commute or your lunch break  or while you’re eating you’re waiting for your coffee to finish brewing.

You may be wondering why I write so many personal reflections. I’m a relational person. I also learn a lot from people who are down to earth and totally transparent. I’d say more so than someone who sits down and says “so this is the right way to live life.” It’s important to establish credibility. No matter if you write or blog or whatever you do. It’s always good to be real.

Anyhow, back to my writing (or lack thereof), I need to up my game.  I keep saying I’ll do so in the near future. But let’s be honest.  I push a lot of things to the future. It’s easier to do so because it means I don’t need to do anything. This is me vowing I’ll try harder, regardless of the fact that it’s practically finals week. There will always be something trying to get in the way of what I love, but if I say I love it, then I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure I continue working hard at it.

Whatever it is you love, DO IT.

Today is the start of a new week, filled with new opportunities.

-Kayla

 

 

When wanderlust becomes a problem

Recently, I’ve been struggling with pride, jealousy, and comparison. Am I the only one? I didn’t think so. Anyhow, these are sin issues I’ve always struggled with. Constantly, and through various situations, I’ve been humbled and convicted.

Some days my life feels absolutely mundane. No doubt it’s hectic and busy and wonderful and full of many blessings,  but recently I’ve been consumed with wanderlust. I’d say this is a common yearning.

Here’s my confession: I’m jealous of my friend’s adventures for the summer. I have friends going to Haiti, the Philippines, Nicaragua, California, Guatemala, Thailand, and God knows where else.

And then there’s me. Still in Washington. Since 1999 I’ve been living within the same five-mile radius. Not much has changed except the malls keep growing and so does the traffic.

And I hate shopping.

Here’s the deal. I’m missing the point. All of these wonderful people are there for the sake of expanding the Kingdom of God.  And that’s a different type of wanderlust. It’s more than a desire to see the world, it’s a calling. One which involves sacrifice. They left behind friends and family because God called them to. It’s not my job to be jealous, but to be happy and supportive of the wonderful work they are doing.

I’m bad at comparing my adventure with those of others around me. (Not excluding those halfway across the world). While I’m busy wasting time lamenting over everything I haven’t seen and done, a lot of opportunities fly by me.

I need to learn to love where I live. Because at some point, I’ll  most likely move away from this place I’ve grown up in. And if I don’t learn to be grateful for where I am now, then why would I suddenly appreciate the next place I go?

My biggest fear is living a life that’s boring. Not just boring, but purposeless. If done right, going to Wal-Mart can be made memorable.

Let’s define purpose, because I know for a fact that it means something different to everyone.

Purpose

noun

1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.

2. an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

3. determination; resoluteness.

4. the subject in hand; the point at issue.

5. practical result, effect, or advantage: to act to good purpose.

I love the first definition.  It reminds me of how God sees his children. Existing for a purpose. It’s not about how far you travel, the number stamps in your passport, but how much you loved, right where you are today. Not where you are tomorrow, but in this very minute.

It’s not that I believe God is endorsing that we live in a bubble or that we best fulfill our purpose-whatever it may be- within a five mile radius we’ve lived our whole lives.

Look at the fourth definition. How do you define purpose? What is the subject at hand?

Some of the most rewarding experiences aren’t  glamorous or worthy of the latest issue of National Geographic.

 

“Beautiful things don’t seek attention.”

{The Secret Life of Walter Mitty}

 

I will never tire of this quote or the story it came from. I could go on a long rave about the movie, but I’ll save a full-fledged review for another post.

-Kayla

Stay tuned for more posts over the next few weeks!

 

 

The World Goes On

Khalid Albaih, Creative Commons
Khalid Albaih, Creative Commons

 

When I made my grand entrance back to Facebook the day after Ash Wednesday, it was not so grand as I had expected.

Only six notifications required my attention.

I found all my friends very much alive and well.

Wow, the world managed to do without me for forty-days. How ever did they do it? The painful truth of the matter is that the world adjusted to my absence. To my surprise, this didn’t injure my feelings.

It was quite freeing  to spend days unplugged. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to take a break until I actually took one. Of course, I hardly wanted to admit that to anyone. The bad habit is a tad embarrassing to share about.

I realized within the first few days of  my fast that my life  was so wrapped around everybody else’s life that I began to neglect my own. I didn’t attempt to grow in my relationship with God. I became easily frustrated and constantly felt I never measured up.  I began to compare and contrast my life to others. I found it difficult to achieve the happiness I so desired when I was convinced that somehow, I was missing out. I could not obtain the key to happiness. There is no key.

But this was not the case. I  looked at a very small part of my friend’s stories.

The one word that is absolutely detrimental to anyone’s  vocabulary is everyone. Everyone has a boyfriend, everyone is going on vacation. I’m convinced this single word is the source of so much of our ungratefulness. I’m sure there are others, but this one for sure is one to be wary of.

The biggest problem with Facebook is that users are able to choose what they post.  A little bit of this, a little bit of that. It’s the perfect place to paint an unrealistic picture of an unrealistic life. Not too many people choose to post about the crappy parts.

One goal that I have created over the course of time is to break down that facade. I desire people to know the truth about me: my life is a beautiful mess. I’ve learned a lot through my messy life and as hard as it is at times, I wouldn’t want my life perfect.

More often than not we must fail before we succeed. And when we do succeed, it’s not always in the way we originally expected. 

During my fast, I felt this sense of peace and joy that I had not experienced in a long time. A very long time.  I believe it’s natural to feel somewhat obligated or inclined to stay in touch. We want to converse.  We’re humans. It’s in our nature. It doesn’t matter how introverted or shy or “socially awkward” you are. At the same time-whether we are aware- we have an inward desire for a life which is more fulfilling. We chase after many different people, material objects and wander various trails to accomplish this feat. It is my understanding that very few people find what they *think* they are looking for.

Upon my return to Facebook, I realized several things almost immediately:

1) I didn’t miss Facebook, I missed my friends. Maybe this is unfair, but I didn’t tell anyone right away that I was fasting from Facebook for Lent. Nonetheless, I suppose one or two texts asking whether or not I’m alive.

2)  Facebook brings to my attention insecurities I thought I had identified and taken care of.

3) Social media is good in moderation.

4) I need to spend more time on my real, tangible friendships.

Before I let you go…

Did you give up something for Lent? What did you fast from? Did you learn any lessons during your experience? Leave a comment if you are comfortable sharing!

-Kayla

 

More Than A Case Of The Blues

For a few weeks now, I’ve debated internally about whether or not I should share about my struggles. it’s personal and messy and I’m not sure I want to reveal that to the world. Well, here I am. Messy, broken, but healing. In an attempt to make sense of my experiences, I wrote- a lot- about the question I believe many people ask: what is depression?

I came to the conclusion in that depression, unlike other medical conditions, varies drastically from person to person.

4835746606_04946f813b_b
San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Creative Commons

Depression is_______

  • unable to be defined.
  • wanting to enjoy the company of friends and family, but ignoring them when they reach out to you.
  • lying awake at night and dragging yourself through the night.
  • telling yourself that you’re the only one who feels this way.

Isolating yourself is the worst possible action you can take if you’re struggling with depression. It’s tempting. I created excuses not to go to birthday parties, and many other activities. I didn’t have any reason not to attend these events, but I convinced myself that I wasn’t wanted. Surely the party would be more fun without me.

I loved this excerpt from Donald’s Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz:

We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when really, it is like setting your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy.

Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

In the past, I was naive in believing that depression was black and white. In other words, I thought you happy go-lucky or suicidal. The truth is that there is a large gray area spanning between those two extremes.

I’d say my depression peaked my sophomore year of high school. I was trying hard to fit in. Trying to finally become friends that I had eaten lunch with since 5th grade.

Whether or not I realized it at the time, writing became my therapy. It helped me come to terms with feelings I didn’t know how to share in depth, even with my closest friends.

Here’ what I found about writing:

Writing heals you from sicknesses that before, you never even knew you had.

When you write (if you do), my guess is that you tell a piece of paper more than you tell most people. People wonder why I’m such a crazy advocate for keeping a journal. I guess I hadn’t previously connected those experiences with my writing habits. There’s no doubt that they’re related.

I knew I was depressed when I denied having any feelings at all. I threw myself into school, church activities. Not to mention other people’s problems. It was bad.

Only recently have I really been able to do more than just write, I’ve come to the point where I can wake up in the morning and decide for myself that I’ll get out of bed and choose joy.

Regardless of how my day goes. Unfortunately, that is one thing I don’t have control over.

That decision may seem action may seem small and insignificant, but not everyday is as happy-go lucky as we’d like. It’s not something we should discredit. Recognizing the smallest of achievements is important.

For me, depression is something that doesn’t really go away once it’s begun. I’ve  simply learned to cope with it and recognize the red flags which let you know the real you is being stifled by someone else. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve filled over twenty journals with practically everything. I’m not saying that to brag, but to emphasize that a lot of life happens in short amounts of time. If we’re not careful, life continues on it’s way before we are able to learn anything from our time spent in the pits. And thus the cycle goes unbroken. Nothing gets better.

Choose joy!

-Kayla

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