Loosing my power almost caused an existential crisis….

A week or so ago, we had an extremely intense lightening storm and rain in the ‘sunshine’ state. As I sat in my bed that night, reading my kindle, I thought about shutting off the lights and watching the lightening storm from the safety of my house.

Then, the electricity went out.

And instead of taking advantage of this and watching the lightning storm as I had planned to do. I sat in my room for another 5 minutes, unable to tear myself away from the one source of light in my room: my phone.

And my phone was about to die.

Cue beginning of existential crisis.

I need my phone. I need the knowledge that at each moment, I have the option of distracting myself from the world around me. And as I clutched unto my phone for dear life, it started getting warmer in my room, because the AC went out with the power. And panic really started setting in. Because I need the AC. I hate being hot, especially if I am trying to sleep. My body goes into overdrive in the heat. And then I left the comfort of my phone and I had to stumble around in my house with only the flashlights from my family’s emergency store to guide me. I need the light. With my eye condition, seeing isn’t easy even with good lighting.

And as we waited for the electricity to come on, I found myself questioning my attachment to things. Wanting light makes sense: darkness is no honest man’s friend. But AC and my phone? These are lesser necessities. These aren’t even necessities. These are luxuries that I can’t seem to get by without. I, a human, a person with a soul and infinite value, could not stand the thought of not having my phone at my disposal. I could not survive an hour without complaining and ordering people around because I was hot and my plan of going to sleep was ruined by an hour long power outage.

Who is this person, afraid to think apart from her phone? Who are any of us to allow a little discomfort and suffering to control how we feel, how we react?

So, since then, I have tried to put a little more distance between myself and my luxuries. I have taken to turning away from my phone as my only source of entertainment and even started bonding with my brothers again, by playing board games (remember those? I barely did)

I highly encourage you to branch out as well, and to see if you can cut out a little of the unnecessary. You might appreciate the necessary even more.

What my love of ballerinas and Vikings gave me

I am sorry if I have been writing a lot of posts lately on staying motivated. Well, I’m not sorry if you feel motivated because of them. But, I am currently discerning what is next for me in life. Right now, I am living at home, paying off loans, and getting my toes wet while I prepare to take the deep plunge into the next part of my life, away from what is familiar and into the unknown.

And in life, in order to stick to my dreams, I need motivation. I need the incentive to keep with my plans, even when they seem to go nowhere and I am in a horrible rut, sitting in the mud with a frown on my face like a kid whose mud pies surprised them by not tasting like chocolate. Nothing is easier than finding motivation and then losing it. And recently, listening to a podcast called “Catching Foxes (listen to it, you won’t regret it), they talked about how you should not only be persistent in your goals, but should constantly seek new ways of remaining motivated.

And hit me: I would always start something then I would loose my drive because I would forget why I am doing it. I would stop motivating myself. And why do something if you aren’t motivated to keep on keeping on?

So, for my exercise and healthy goals, motivation came to mean flexible superhumans and ancient invaders. I am not as flexible as a ballerina, nor am I am as dead-set on conquering foreign lands as the Vikings were. But they are the exact type of motivation I need to keep exercising and, one day, please Lord, do a split. I haven’t had the ability, let alone the desire, to commit to exercise since I had to stop running last year. I got kicked in the shins, TWICE, in a week. It wasn’t Fight Club; no, I just tried to play soccer without shin guards among FRIENDS and FAMILY and bruised my shin muscle so badly from being kicked that I had to step away from hard physical activity for almost 10 months. But after such a long time of not being able to do much, doing anything seemed like a lost cause. That’s when I listened to the podcast and searched for that motivation. And I found it in ballet documentaries and the History Channel show Vikings. In both, self-discipline and determination rule the day. There are insurmountable tasks and despite the hard days, the days when they had four AM wake up calls for ballet practice, after not doing well at their last recital, or they were lost in the middle of the sea in 700’s AD in a boat full of angry Vikings mad for being lead on a wild goose chase to die in the middle of nowhere, their training and determination helped them remain resolute and damaging things: land that pirouette or find England. They stuck with it and they made it, even if it wasn’t pretty or exactly how they planned.

And this is how I get through my workouts. This is part of how I keep going day to day.

My call to you? Go find those things that motivate you.

Sticks and stones may just break my soul…..

This log in my eye stings something fierce most days.

Remember that quote in the Bible in Luke 6:42: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

My brother, my sister, have a stick in their peepers while I have a gigantic plank in my cornea. Such a discrepancy in size should raise a question (besides where the closest eye doctor is): if my flaw “my plank” is so much bigger than my neighbor’s flaw, then why do I pick on their faults faster than I would ever dream of correcting my own?

I think human nature is wired like this. We feel the weight of our sins, but we have grown accustomed to the weight. We can’t seem to shake it, so we hide it behind a facade. The world doesn’t need to know how broken we truly are, how every day we struggle with a vice, with pain, with suffering. And when others show a chink in their armor, when perhaps they can’t hold in their temper, when they are hurt and struggling, when they themselves are not aware of the weight of their flaws, we jump at the chance to deflect the spotlight from our own struggle. And often, those flaws that we complain most about in other people are perhaps our greatest weaknesses.  For instance, I have a hard time working with, being friendly, generally being around hypocrites. I hate being lied to and generally tend to trust people right away, so a hypocrisy is a betrayal of trust. And yet, I am one of the biggest hypocrites that I know. I talk about including people and being kind, and yet I daily struggle to go out of my way to keep a door open for someone. Perhaps this isn’t a typical type of hypocrisy, but it is still living a lie. I am saying one thing and doing another. And when I see others who say one thing and live their lives in a completely different manner, it drives me nuts,  for when I see them, I am reminded of how unhappy I am with how I live my life, how much it weighs on my soul to life this way.

So, the next time I (or you) get annoyed at someone for their sin, maybe instead of concentrating on their struggle, maybe try and take a look at what you are carrying on your back. Maybe you can try and shake it off your back, and you can stop staring at the dirt and see the sky instead.

A call from the pop radio station

Remember that one song “Take me to church” by Hozier that may have confused you when it played on the pop radio station? You may have asked yourself why they were talking about going to church on a radio station that’s dedicated to butts and the pleasures of the world, rather than anything ephemeral. Unfortunately, It’s not actually about going to church. It is about a man, frustrated with the empty promises of church, who turns to his lover to fulfill him instead. He will “worship” her, in the “shrine” of the bedroom, because at least there he can find “plenty.” She is a demanding “goddess” but here at least the “starving faithful” have a chance of being filled. And this message is right up the alley of society, who attend more to the bedroom than to filling pews and thinking of the afterlife.

So, its mocking religion? Sure sounds like it. But, in my opinion, his leaving church, his throwing himself from the seemingly empty altar of God into the bed of “sweeter innocence” and “gentle sin” is not a loss of faith but it is a moment of clarity, a desire that has become too much and forces him to burst from the church where the faith that is taught is dead and will not satisfy, for it is not of God.

The true faith of God is not empty and stale, it is alive and ever changing whom it touches. It is a faith that is deeply connected to the everyday in every way. It is the faith that is interlocked with charity. It is a faith that can compete and beat with what the world has to offer. It is not for a moment “bleak” although it is a struggle. Life is a struggle, but notice that those with real faith live with one important ingredient missing in many lives and in Hozier’s song: hope. Mother Teresa did not live a useless or boring life. She changed lives because she allowed God to be fully alive in her, to shine forth like a lightbulb with no shade. She tasted a bit of heaven and was so transformed, transfixed, and transported that others were drawn to her, to know what set her apart, that made her joyful and hopeful in a world where many settle for anything that makes them briefly happy but never completely satisfies. What made this woman, who was a virgin and without a doctorate, money, anything of the world, so joyful? Faith, real faith. She listened to what God had to say and she lived it. She gave of herself, she held nothing back. This is the faith that would have kept Hozier in the pew.

Let God truly shining in the life of Christians take you back to church on day, Hozier. Christians, let’s get on living a faith that is truly alive.

Because Lip Synchs bring out my inner (kind of) feminist….

I am glad the rest of the world has jumped on the bandwagon of appreciating a good lip synch contest. From the ones that Jimmy Fallon hosted on his late night show to the new show on Spike “Lip Synch Battle,’ lip syncs are a fascinating beast. You might not have the pipes, but you can pretend to. It is particularly hilarious to watch someone like Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson sing Taylor Swift and knock it out of the park. But you know what is not entertaining? An overwhelming amount of women deciding that the only way to impress a crowd or make them laugh during these contests is to act so inappropriately that I felt dirty watching. Is there a reason Jimmy Fallon can lip synch a show-stopping “Like a Prayer” without acting like a strip tease, but Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway did renditions of “Wrecking Ball” and “No Diggety” and proceeded to rub their bodies suggestively and pretend to give lap dances?

No good reason? Just as I suspected.

I find this issue is not something that is only present in lip synch battles. There are of course exceptions but often when women try to entertain it is often at the detriment to their dignity as a woman. Whether it is playing dumb or using a continuous stream of curse words, I’d like to call out my fellow women to stop thinking they need to lower themselves in order to be funny or liked or esteemed. Now, men are guilty of throwing their dignity under the bus for the same reasons, but as a woman, I feel I can speak better to and for the women.

Ladies, I want to be able to turn on stand-up from a woman comedian and not worry that she is going to spend the next hour doing little more than cursing and telling me about her latest sexual exploits. I want female leads in movies and shows that are not constantly using their sexuality or their middle finger attitude to attain their goals. I’d like rap songs that are not about sex and using women. I would also like the complacency in the face of degradation of anyone, especially women, to stop. We should not listen, watch, or buy anything that doesn’t treat anyone as they do not deserve. You are irreversible and unique. You do not need that popular song about it being ok to be a stripper. Usher, please do mind if she is disrespecting herself. Be a human and stand up for her.

Women, you can be everything you want to be without allowing your dignity to take a back-seat. I mean it. So you stick out like a sore thumb in society-well, that ache that you feel for standing up for yourself and your dignity is worth it. And you will find that others will be attracted to how you live differently and soon you will find others who desire to live like you. Then the movement gets bigger and then lives are charged and the world is that much better.

Because the only sport I play is binge-watching…

I think most of us in this world of Netflix have been guilty of binge-watching at one point or another. For instance, one night of my senior year of college, I decided to start the show Scandal and breeze through part of the first season as I stayed up all night trying to write a paper and prepare for an oral exam the next day. I vividly remember most of the details of that night: the weird combo of the mint Starbucks drink I was drinking to stay up and the meatloaf I ate to keep the late night munchies at bay, the strange subject of the Italian figure of D’Annunzio I was writing about and his house/museum in Italy that I was both fascinated and repulsed by, the theology I tried to cram into my head before the oral exam (the exam itself was kind of fuzzy because of the whole ’no sleep’ thing) and the beginning plot of Scandal, which I haven’t watched since that inglorious night.

Binge-watching is a sport, a guilty pleasure, something that becomes a bragging right. We brag about our Netflix exploits like we are a teenager who just got their first kiss before all your other friends. If you have made it this far, you must have read the above paragraph and noticed that hint of bragging, because I pulled off good grades in those classes despite my idiocy the night before. And that’s only because I have had years of theology before that exam and I already had a good grade in the other class. My all-nighter didn’t help anything.

So why am I bragging then? Its not an amazing feat. I just sat there for hours doing nothing but stare at a screen-maybe I tried multitasking but it wasn’t that successful. Maybe I learned something, maybe I felt a little inspired, but on the whole after binge-watching I personally feel….frustrated, a little sad, disillusioned. My life isn’t the exciting life on the screen, it isn’t full of adventure and romance. My everyday becomes even more everyday and mundane after a binge watch. Its harder to get back into reality and appreciate the life I have been given. Instead of writing that blog post or talk, praying, helping my friend or family, finishing that project, exercising, doing something that will impact my life or others for the better, I often decide that my life really needs just ‘one more episode.’ (It doesn’t help that Netflix will just play an episode if you don’t react fast enough-because homegirl is pretty lazy let me be honest)

But, I don’t need that ‘one more episode.’ I am issuing myself this challenge and I challenge you to do the same: don’t binge watch anymore. A couple episodes is fine if you need to rewind or are catching up with a friend, but don’t go overboard. Don’t put yourself or others after a show. Realize how beautiful the world you live in is when you aren’t living vicariously through a screen.

Because I am back in….red (lipstick)

Took a little hiatus because I got sick and began questioning my entire life and where I was going with it. Twenties-life crisis-fun times. Well, anyway, be prepared for a new format (nice huh?) and some great new posts. Hopefully great. I have had a lot of time to think while being sick and having my crisis. And I am back, slowly getting healthier in body and healthier in mind and spirit.

Seize the day and make it your best yet. And then do it again tomorrow

-Kathryn