I Didn’t Know What To Call This, But I’m Back

This is usually the part where the blog writer explains his or her long absence with a list of reasons why they haven’t blogged since August of last year. However, my reasons for not blogging were kind of boring (Depression, school work, blah, blah, blah) What I’ll do instead is just move right along to the next topic.

In the past seven months, I have noticed a change in how I approach reading and writing. I’m a lifelong bookworm, and in 2012, I successfully completed 100 books. Since then, I’ve completed one year of university, and now, when I read anything, my inner editor automatically picks up the punctuation errors.

A few days ago, I was reading a response to a question on the Ask FM app (in which the people submit anonymous questions). My first thought was, “Dang, girl, ease up on the commas! No one takes that many pauses when they speak.” Then, I remembered that I was not reading an essay, so the person could put the commas wherever she wanted to, and her mark would still be the same. (Zero, because she’s answering questions about her life, not being graded for her writing.)

I also moved, and found out that I spent most of my time working acquiring stuff that depreciates in value. You know what’s mildly depressing? Having to fill out a form for renter’s insurance and realizing that you don’t have anything that would qualify as an “asset.” What I do have is a bunch of stuff that is valuable to me, and perhaps, my niece. (My makeup collection is enormous, and she loves it.)

A few weeks from now, I have to do a presentation about the “Desert Saints.” They were a group of Christians from the 4th century, who believed that struggle and self-sacrifice were an integral part of one’s spiritual development.

I have to say, that it’s something that I connected with right away. If I’m too comfortable, complacency sets in, so for me, some discomfort is necessary to keep me on track. Since I’m an introverted person, it’s easy to find things that make me uncomfortable.

I’ll be the first to tell you that my life as a Christian has been full of adversity. There are years of my life that I wonder how I got through them without completely losing my mind. I love being comfortable. In fact, I prefer comfort, but there’s something about going through a good battle and coming out alive that energizes me and reaffirms my faith in the God who got me through it all.

I always hate going through the tough times, but with each level I pass successfully, I learn something new. Life isn’t just about pursuing happiness, getting what you want, and making sure your people are well. It is about passing along what you’ve learned to others.

One interesting thing about Antony, one of the desert saints I read about, is that, while he lived in isolation for much of his life, he didn’t keep the blessings from God to himself.

He taught people and prayed with them, miraculous things happened, as a result. He wasn’t just eccentric for eccentricity’s sake. He used his years of struggle and sacrifice to allow God to work through him to help others.

I was initially attracted by the “away from people” aspect of his spiritual life, but I also know that I can never completely disengage because there is always someone who needs encouragement or support. A life in ministry is not one I would have chosen for myself, but now that I know “what”, I have to keep the “why” in perspective.

The first act of my life was all about me. My job; my feelings; my wants and needs, but the second act is all about what I can do to serve God best.
So far, I’ve got being kind and respectful to people with different belief systems, and being less hostile to fellow saints whom I believe are too exclusive and cliquey.
(It turns out, I’m much better at the former than I am at the latter. Oops)

Before I started school, a friend told me that the person I’ll be once I leave school will be different from the person who started. I didn’t know what she meant, at the time, but I’m already noticing a difference. Whatever happens along the way, whether it be a struggle or a peaceful journey, I pray that my experience will help someone else.

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It’s December, and I’ve Already Failed My Blog Challenge

I know I’ve been absent for the past couple of months, but rather than give a long, boring explanation as to why I’ve been absent, I’m going to write about how I intended to blog every single day for the month of December, and how I failed already by watching old episodes of The Amazing Race, and Big Brother. 

First off, I’d like to congratulate everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo and its blog equivalent. That’s an amazing achievement, and I admire you for going for it.

Mazel ‘tov.

Since I failed in November, I thought, “December is in a few days. I can make up for lost time by blogging every day of the month!” Then I didn’t write anything all week, so to make up I’ll have to post twice in one day for several days. Yay.

In other news, it is almost time for me to go back to school, which my niece and nephews find hilarious. My eldest nephew said to me the other day, “It’s so funny that you’re talking about going to school, and you’re a grown-up”, and my niece told me I should stay home so my mommy could make my lunch for me as hers does. (I don’t think so.)

This challenge is all about forcing me to write when I don’t ‘feel’ like it because, in a few months, I won’t have a choice. Not that I mind. I don’t work well when I’m complacent, which is why I had to leave my last job. My best work always comes when I’m under pressure. (One of my former bosses picked up on this and gave me deadlines for getting my work done. I love deadlines.)

I have a hunch that going back to university will be one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I know I’ll enjoy every minute of it–even the tough stuff. A few years ago, an acquaintance told me that my work experience was an assignment to toughen me up. It served its purpose, and when I felt the nudge to move on, I did.

That is what life is about. Taking the good with the bad, using the past as a reference point rather than a guide, learning from one’s mistakes, and moving forward when it’s time.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. I’ll have more to say tomorrow, but until then, I wish you peace and blessings.

Erie

…But Then I Was Like, “This Is A Story”:2012 In Review

I did a lot this year. I read 100 books (as of December 29th). I *officially* chose a career and started saving money to pay for university, (No collections agencies for me!) and I got it through my thick skull that my arms are too short to box with God, so I may as well be quiet and do things His way.

I also started another blog so I can ramble on about what I’ve learned, mostly by making tons of mistakes.

2012 was the year that I came into my own. I chose to be authentic rather than pandering. I can honestly say that every compliment, and encouraging word I paid this year was genuine. (Unfortunately, so were the insults! I suffer fools badly)

In reading 100 books, (25,225  total pages to be exact) I learned to ‘Resist not evil’ (Leo Tolstoy, My Religion). I learned “Manuscripts do not burn”, (Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita), “Depression is a damned liar”, (Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened), and, “We degrade God when we attribute our own ideas to Him, out of annoyance that we cannot fathom His ways” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot)

I also learned that it is okay to be a quiet introvert, (from both The Introvert’s Way by Sophia Dembling, and Quiet by Susan Cain). And love gives you more power than hatred, manipulation, or control (from every single Christian book I’ve read).

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned this year is how to be still. I’m the type of person who is always trying to fix things. If something is wrong, I feel duty-bound to intervene–whether it is my business or not. This year I  found out that I can’t control everything.

I can’t change what people do, what they say, or how they feel. What I can change is how I react, and then make a mental note of everything that was said, done and felt, and write about it later. (At first I was angry, but then I was like, “This is a story.”)

We have all had those situations that temporarily knock us off our feet, but when you communicate mostly through writing as I do, and have a neat little forum to express yourself, you can publish some of those situations online and receive the input of tens of strangers. (Whether you want it or not)

Besides, I’m the progeny of fighters, so you can’t keep me down for long.

There are some years that are remembered for how traumatic they were. (2008-2010 immediately spring to mind for me. There were accidents, births, deaths, court dates, renovations, murder. OK. I’m kidding about the last one) Yet even through the hard times there were moments of joy.

That’s another thing I learned this year: Joy cannot be changed by circumstance. I’m not a bubbly person, and when I’m not smiling I look as though I am angry, so my joy is not apparent to the casual viewer.

Even though, it isn’t obvious, joy is what carried me through the loss of several relatives this year. It is what kept me calm during the busy Christmas season, and it helped me to laugh in the face of tests and trials. Joy keeps me grounded, and it makes me strong.  After all, it’s easy to give in to anger, but keeping  your composure takes a lot more work.

Then again, I always enjoy a challenge.

I can look back on 2012 and say that I will remember it affectionately. I wasn’t as nice as I could have been (really, who was?). I had more than my fair share of open-mouth-insert-foot moments, and I didn’t give as much as I thought I would have, but I also spent time encouraging people. I have said prayers on behalf of complete strangers, and even though I wasn’t as philanthropic as I wanted to be, I still took the time to give to people who have less than I do.

Yesterday I read a quote that I really liked: “Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” Every time I have been broken down, I’ve been reinforced. What broke me in 2011 couldn’t break me in 2012, and what broke me in 2012, won’t break me in 2013 because I know where my strength is found.

In 2013, I am leaving the past in the past, and moving onward and upward into the life I was born to live.

Settling for average is so five years ago.

Happy New Year!

Erie

P.S. The title was shamelessly lifted from an episode of Community (The one where Troy is prepping Jeff for his fight with Anthony Michael Hall). I am not that clever.

Sharing Saturday: Wait…It’s Not Saturday

Just pretend that today is yesterday and that I didn’t spend my entire day lounging, reading, and playing Bejeweled, instead of fulfilling my obligation to write a blog post every day in December. Now I get to write two to make up for yesterday. See what happens when you shirk responsibility? You end up working twice as hard.

Learn from my mistakes, people.

This year has been one of self-discovery for me. I learned that once you overcome one set of challenges, three more rise to take the place of the old ones. Once you overcome those ones, more challenges appear. Basically, life is similar to a video game, in the sense that every year you can look forward to fighting a new dragon, or general, or army, but with every foe you defeat, you get that much closer to the castle. Or the princess. Or the treasure. Or whatever lies at the end of your journey.

Sometimes our foes are internal. For example, I have to fight every day to keep myself from retreating to anxiously worrying about everything. I lived with anxiety for so long, that when I finally experienced peace, I didn’t know what to do with it. Now, I know not to take it for granted because I could be easily slipping back to worry, where, believe it or not, I am more comfortable.

External enemies are a lot easier to conquer because they only have as much power as you allow them to. When you’re on the defensive, it may look like they’re stronger, (and they might be), but you’re the one who has the final say about how they make you feel. The truth is people will try to break you down for a variety of reasons, don’t make their job easy by helping them do it.

I also learned that, in getting to know myself better, I am more able to accept faults in other people. It’s easy to put someone else down when you think you’re infallible, but as soon as you recognize your own vulnerabilities and failings, you can extend mercy to the people in your life, rather than passing judgment. This was a lesson I had to learn several times because I was so focused on achieving efficiency in all areas of my life I didn’t take the time to see that people are not problems that need to be solved. (They’re people, and they need the same things that you do.)

Taking ownership of my behaviour was part of this. There were times when other people were at fault, but I also had to take responsibility for the role I played, and examine whether there was something I could have done differently. (Hint: There always was.)

If every year of your life has an overall theme, the theme of my 2012 was “Grow-up”.

I learned that I could maintain my childlike wonder and accept my adult responsibilities. I can be serious and businesslike, and enthusiastic and open. I learned how to be kind to people I didn’t like without being insincere, and I learned that my past mistakes or successes do not define who I am. (And they never will)

Most of all, I learned how hazardous it is to try to avoid all the tough stuff. Not only does it catch up with you, but it takes you much longer to get to where you want to be. I didn’t know it was possible to have a good attitude when going through adversity until I had to do it. I thought that the saying, “Good things come to those who wait” was just a tired cliché, until it happened to me.

Life will always give us circumstances we don’t expect and don’t think we deserve. But the test isn’t necessarily in what happens to us. It’s in how we handle what happens to us. Complaining may seem like an acceptable alternative, (and no one knows how to whine like me, the Princess :cool:), but when you make it your goal to live the best life you can, without coveting anyone else’s life, without complaining about what you don’t have, you will end up much better than you can even imagine.

Listen, life sucks sometimes, but there’s potential for greatness in every day.

Believe me, I’m not one to brag, but I kind of know from experience .

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:6)

Be blessed everyone!

Erie 😀

Off The Cuff Thursday: Challenge Accepted

Here’s what is on my mind today.

  • Personality– I have always been interested in the connection between a person’s upbringing and their personality. My older brother and I are both stubborn, persistent, and, according to our parents, natural leaders. That’s where the similarities end. In spite of the fact that we were raised in the same house, with the same parents, my brother is an outgoing and charismatic people person, and I am an introverted and aloof loner. My brother’s leadership style is to be out front, calling the shots and delegating while mine is to remain behind the scenes and lead by example. My parents raised us the same way, but we’re essentially opposites.
  • Challenge- The older I get, the more I enjoy being challenged. I guess it’s a throwback to my school days, when I used to put off doing my homework until 5 am, the morning it was due. Because I’m such a lackadaisical person, I need the pressure in order for me to move. Otherwise, I’ll just stay wherever I feel comfortable, and that has never helped me. It reminds me of when I used to run all the time. If I didn’t get tired or sore afterward, I knew I did just enough to maintain my level of fitness. In order to become stronger and more fit, I had to push myself until I reached a new target…and then push myself more until I passed it. Like most people, I enjoy being comfortable. But I didn’t grow up until was forced to be in uncomfortable situations. The opposition strengthened my resolve, and I became comfortable with discomfort. One of the defining traits of my personality type is that we thrive when we’re opposed, and enjoy being underestimated. Plus I am argumentative by nature, so backing down isn’t an option unless I don’t care.
  • Politics-Truth be told this election annoyed me. I hated how nasty it got. However, I am glad for the outcome, simply because it really shook up the right-wing conservatives. I’m a Christian, but I am also a liberal. I do not believe that I am making God angry because of my political views. On election night, I tweeted about how convenient it was that God’s choice for president happened to be the man who agrees with the conservative ideology. I think that the re-election of President Obama gives the conservatives (who claim to stand for Christian values) a chance to display those values by working together with the President to rebuild the country.
  • Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson-This morning, I listened to an interview that he did with Anna Maria Tremonti (host of the CBC radio show, The Current) and for the first time in a long time I agreed with everything a conservative said. He is brilliant.
  • Reading-I am currently reading Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I’m really enjoying it, even though I am still at the point where I have no clue what is going on. (The writing is lovely though.)
  • Gratitude- Yesterday I read an article that read, “If you make $15000 or more per year, you earn more than 75% of the 6 billion people on earth.” That was difficult to hear. I can’t afford an apartment and still be able to buy food and clothes, yet I make more than most of the people on this planet. Even though, I don’t have much I am grateful for all of it.
  • Injuries-I stabbed myself in the finger while popping packing material at work. I had to laugh because it was such a ridiculous way to hurt myself. Thankfully, I had isopropyl alcohol pads and bandages, so I didn’t bleed all over the merchandise.

Picture of the week is a motivational poster for people with the Myers-Briggs personality type Introversion Intuition Feeling Judging.

Have a great day 🙂

Erin

  • INFJ Motivational Poster (from Personality Cafe)