A Piece of Me

I spent the weekend in Northwest Arkansas.  I visited family, went to a concert and took a tour of the U of A campus. It was a really beautiful, windy day. I haven't taken time to just walk around and take in the campus in quite a while. I'm not sure I ever fully understood how much that place would shape my life while I was there. While searching for my name on senior walk, I reminisced about my time there. I went in the buildings and sent myself on a trip down memory lane. I thought about my first day of class, when I was so terrified I missed it because I hadn't looked to see where the room was located. I remembered laughing so hard while studying into the wee hours of the morning because my friend was so stressed from finals that she went to buy us food and came back with tylenol and five packs of orange tic tacs. That was supper for the night. I teared up a little when I thought about graduating, how proud my family was, and how difficult it was saying goodbye to amazing friends.

I had life changing experiences there. The death of my cousin, Ryan was the most challenging. I was 21 and realized later that I had become an adult.  I had been through tough things before, but this time I was older. I was able to realize the impact not having him in my life would have. And it's been a tragic one. It's funny how you can look back and see how an event changed you. I was literally a different person.  No longer were things as silly or inconsequential. Family was more important, and having a bad day was not as big of a deal as it had been in the past. I thought a lot about him while I was there.

I also began to understand the value and importance of my education.  I didn't go to the greatest college in the nation.  I didn't have the best grades or the highest test scores.  I wasn't involved in every club, and I didn't go to every social event. But, what being a razorback did teach me was responsibility. It taught me about time management, social acceptance, the importance of lasting friendships, and how to handle things when life doesn't turn out quite the way you expect. Turning to God, family, friends, and some time for introspection is what worked for me. 

I'm glad I took the time to rediscover my old stomping grounds. It renewed something in me. Maybe I was getting too bogged down in day to day life.  Work. Bills. Home repairs. Activities. In college, I was free. Free to discover who I really was without these worries. Maybe I didn't figure it all out back then. I did figure out that I would keep changing, hopefully for the better; and that bad times would eventually pass, as would the good ones. So, I found a piece of me that maybe I had lost for a while in the midst of just trying to make it.


Jesus is pretty much winning...

"I love when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit." -Kahlil Gibran

I've labeled myself a Christian all my life.

I actually found the Spirit of Christ when I was 12. It changed my life. I was raised to know right from wrong and follow the rules. I didn't know why I did until I really knew Christ. Since that time, I've done my best to question my beliefs, research my religion, and argue respectfully with my peers about their own faith. Sometimes, I have even more questions about what I consider the ultimate guide for life.  And sometimes, it reinforces that deep down feeling of "I just know this is what I'm supposed to be doing."  You can't explain it really. Faith is funny that way. It's not something that can be taught, argued about or a rule to follow. It just...is.

There are many quotes trying to explain faith. "If you believe, it will happen."  "If you have faith, no explanation is necessary."   I don't buy it. I'm not a scientist, and I don't need facts, statistics, or something tangible in order to explain why I am here; living, breathing, hurting.  But, I do need to hear it all. From the well known religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism to lesser known faiths such as Cao Dai, Shinto, and Jainaism. The fact is that most of these religions have a creed of non-violence, a path towards less greed, and a practice of helping others. It makes me realize that my religion isn't the only one that wants to make the world a better palce.

I want to be like that.

I want to be less selfish and more thankful, less worried about self and have a greater concern for others. I want to have my own form of Salah every day. Salah is practiced to totally focus the mind on God and have a time of complete thankfulness and worship...five times every day. I have a difficlut time remembering to thank God for a new day when I wake up in the morning!  I want to have as my creed "True believers are those that feel fear in their hearts every time God is mentioned."  Not because He is something to literally be scared of, but because I am so fearful that I am not doing enough for Him.

Don't get me wrong, I am a Christian.  I believe in the Bible and it's prophecy and commandments. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save  my sins all those years ago.  I believe that God will come back to earth one day and take me back to heaven with Him to live forever. I'm not ashamed of my beliefs.  I don't take them lightly. But, I do question them. I do live like I'm trying to prove them to everyone....especially to God.  I am grateful that as a young child I was not taught to believe things just because someone said it was true. Questioning and research was okay in my house. I was supposed to doubt, fear, and pray for understanding. That's something that I should be thankful for five times every day. Otherwise, I wouldn't be the person I am. A person who tries her very best to do what she can for others, who loves her family and friends with her whole heart, and a girl who has a fearful heart that she isn't using even the smallest amount of her God given ability to be what He wants her to be. So see, in my life...

Jesus is pretty much winning.


adventurous or adventuresome?

I recently explained to a good friend that he had helped me get past a fear I have harbored for as long as I can remember.  It's not the usual fears of bugs, flying or the dark.  No, my fear is of trying new things. I don't like change.  It's a fact. The problem with my fear, it seems, is that change is inevitable. Yes, our dear President made it a buzz word, and deservedly so. I'm fine with him creating change.  In fact, I think he needs to do even more. It just stresses me out when I have to think about my routine being interrupted. I like organization, a mapped out plan, and carefully thought out pro/con lists before making a big decision.  I never really considered it a problem until this friend told me that I wasn't adventurous.  

What?! Hold the phones!

It is my (unreasonable and unattainable) goal in life to please everyone and have everyone like everything I do. I also Do. Not. Like. To. Fail.  I thought if I played everything safe and didn't take too many chances, then everything would fit in a nice, neat little box to look at and be pretty. Okay, that sounds a little crazy. Maybe it is. But, rarely are people very honest with you about things you do not do well.  He wasn't saying it to hurt my feelings, but it was a reference to something that I do not do well...and I didn't like it.  So, I thought about it.  And I thought about it...and then I thought about it some more.

(Sidebar: I always try to balance negative situations by finding something positive to say.  I apply this theory in all facets of life, whether talking about someone who has wronged me, a situation that happens that is out of your control or even something I want to change about myself.  Having said that, I am very good at admitting when I am wrong and trying to fix it (even if I'm not so good with the change thing.) The only solution really, was to TRY to do something about it. )

I didn't make a wild and crazy decision to go jump out of a plane, or swim with sharks; but I did do some soul searching. I'm taking it slow. I don't broadcast what I'm doing (this was for me, not anyone else).  I journal about what I'm doing.  It helps when I'm feeling a little down or unlikeable to look back on things that, while I may not have done well, at least had tried. Sometimes I really love what I have done, and sometimes I have (literally) cursed it.  I will tell you about one thing I have done on my quest to be advenurous...

You are reading it. Starting a blog is a big deal! Okay, maybe it's just me. But, putting your life on the internet for anybody and everybody to read is a fairly big deal.  Right?  I'll admit, that's not why I was so wary about blogging. Honestly (and I can be honest here, right?) it's about people reading what I write.  Not necessarily the content, but how well I write about it. I've always thought I wrote fairly well. I'm sure I won't win the pulitzer anytime soon, but I did okay on essays and reports in school. I'm just a little self-conscious about it. Yet another thing I need to change, I guess. I'll start working on that right after I try kayaking...