Writing

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.

 

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Writing

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!

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Writing

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing

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

 

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Writing

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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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 15: Packing Light

Title: Packing Light

Author: Allison Vesterfelt

What’s it about: One country singer, one blogger, one road trip, and whole lot of adventure.

Why did I read it: I stumbled across Branden Harvey’s “Story Portrait” of Allison a while back. I think that was my initial introduction to this wonderful author. More recently, I noticed that I followed a lot of people on Twitter that were sort of in the same circle.  Not long after that, I decided to follow her on Twitter and read her book.  I absolutely loved it. She’s so raw and transparent.

Favorite idea: “The problem with rules is that they don’t protect us like we think they do. Sometimes they don’t protect us because we don’t follow them, sometimes they don’t protect us because we become obsessed with them, and sometimes they don’t protect us because they were leading us in the wrong direction all along. Some rules are ill-advised, and we just keep following them blindly.”‘

Where you can buy it: Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage

Final thoughts:

I do hope you read this fantastic book, regardless of whether or not you enter the on Facebook. (Giveaway details can be found here).

-Kayla

 

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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 14: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

What’s it about: This book is about the immortal life of the HeLa cell line, grown  from an African-American woman who died of cervical cancer in the fifties. Henrietta Lacks cells were the first human cells to be immortal. When Lacks was operated on at John Hopkins hospital, her cancerous cell tissue was taken without her consent.

Why did I read it: This book was part required reading material for my Women’s Studies class I’m taking this quarter. I don’t like the class so much, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about  Lack’s story and her incredible contribution to science.

Favorite idea: In the book, Skloot writes about two of Henrietta’s adult children seeing their mother’s cells for the first time. When discussing genetics and DNA, a researcher at Hopkins explained  “They [the HeLa cells] all look the same–they’re just clear until we put color on them with a dye. You can’t tell what color a person is from their cells.”

Where you can buy it: here.

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Travel

Sunday Afternoon Ramblings: Adventure & The Daily Grind

Sunday afternoon ramblings:

Many days, such as today, I wish I were more spontaneous. I admire people who chuck their agenda out the window and say “forget it! I’m doing something different today!” (Without having a nervous breakdown, I might add.) This action seems so freeing.

I wonder if I leave enough room in the margins of my planner for the unplanned. My guess is not so much.  What would I find myself doing , if each day I intentionally set aside time to do anything that just so happened to come my way? Would I do anything different?

I get so wrapped up in the future and what I need to get from Point A to Point B, that I forget about  everything in-between. It’s easy–for me at least.

I started your typical four-year college plan my senior year in high school-as most students do. The biggest difference probably is that  I chose the Running Start route. Mainly because I had no idea my senior year what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted to go to school or how I was going to pay for it.  What I didn’t plan for was taking classes two summers in a row.

Not ideal if you ask me. But hey, these were and are necessary steps to fulfill my goals and plans, however, I still question if it’s the best plan.

The problem with being a transfer student working to earn my AA, is that I constantly need to be thinking about the future. One wrong move could set me back. This makes living in the moment hard.

I know I’m prone as much as anybody to society’s pressure on education as anybody else, but I still think it’s stupid. However, according to my life plan, I don’t have the guts to ditch my current itinerary for a completely new one.

College is a tough place to be. The said “time of your life” is also one of the most stressful. How is that supposed to work?

I was invited on two missions trips this summer and declined both. I cringed as I explained I had to take summer quarter.  Something about that response just sounds particularly lame.

The problem with having gone previously on two global mission’s trips is it’s easy to feel as though any volunteer opportunities  aside from global missions are trivial and purposeless.(Well, maybe it’s not a problem, simply a grand new perspective that changes everything.) I’ll be honest, it’s not easy to view my school as a mission field after spending ten days in the wrecked country of Haiti. The truth is, everyone needs Jesus. And “everyone” is right here wherever I am. Of course it’s also easier to talk about sharing and living the gospel than to do just that.

Scripture to ponder:

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ. The, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel…”

Philippians 1: 27

-Kayla

Type your thoughts to me below!

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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 14: Rooms

Title: Rooms

Author: James L. Rubart

What’s it about: When Micah Taylor inherits a mansion in Cannon Beach from a long dead uncle who he has never met, he’s not quite sure what to think. After stepping out of his comfort zone, Taylor decides to visit this mystery house. In the house, he encounters rooms which force him to face bits and pieces of his painful past-and the faith he thought he had abandoned for sure.

Why did I read it:A friend recommended it to me and I thought “why not?” It’s probably something I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless.

Favorite idea: “Despite the unanswered questions and being within miles of where his heart had shattered, he felt at peace.” This feeling resonated deeply with me.

Where you can buy it: here

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Writing

Empty Shelf Book 13: My Sister’s Keeper

Title: My Sister’s Keeper

Author: Jodi Picoult

What’s it about: A lot of things. Ethics, morals, family dynamics. But mostly two sisters who love each other a lot.  Kate has  acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Her younger sister Anna, is her cure. She’s been a part of Kate’s treatment since birth. But now that she’s thirteen, she’s not so sure she wants to keep contributing to her sister’s well-being. You’ll have to read the book to discover how she navigates her way down this messy path.

Why did I read it: First of all, I read this lovely novel because It’s been on my “To Read” list for years. Secondly, I love meaningful fiction. Picoult is a lovely writer and this book really tugs at your heart-strings.

Favorite idea:  “It is so easy to think that the world revolves around you, but all you have to do is stare up at the sky to realize it isn’t that way at all.”

Where you can buy it: here.

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