A Tasty New Endeavor

Recently I’ve been meaning to write about my latest adventure: I got a summer job!

I know, you’re asking yourself how someone who is clearly in need of a vacation could possibly think it’s a good idea to get a summer job? Well, I’m thinking that I will have some extra cash to spend on all those chips I eat out of the vending machine at school. (I have a problem. Don’t judge me.) Anyway, I have this new summer job at a barbecue place in town. And so far I’ve only made a few mistakes! My first week has been very interesting and also very tiring. I work the evening shift so I get there at four and work until a little after nine during the week. Apparently this Saturday I get to work from three until ten. I’m so excited I could pass out and never move again!!

Unfortunately that isn’t an option so I’ve been making the best of the extra long work hours that I’m not used to. And the fact that my sisters have consistently woken me up before nine every morning this week. At least I’ve had some time in the mornings to catch up on my writing… Anyway, I’ve been working in this totally new environment and I don’t think they plan on firing me so I guess I’m doing alright.

It has been a weird transition for me. I’m used to doing all my stuff early in the morning so at about two I get really antsy. I’m really wanting to get on over to work and I’m also aware that if I leave my house at two I’m going to be very bored for a very long time. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy in the mornings. Looking on the bright side at least I’ll be used to staying up late and getting up early once I get back to school!

In truth, I’m really happy that I managed to find a summer job. My parents totally didn’t think I could do it. (They’re still probably wondering when I’ll quit.) After all, I am a very academically geared individual, and barbecue, while totally the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten, isn’t exactly mentally challenging. But I am learning how to be a team player and gaining valuable people skills. So I’m ok with it. And the woman that was helping me wash the dishes yesterday didn’t even get mad when I soaked both of us. So I guess I’ll be ok.

Forgotten Treasures

I walked into the building and smiled as I noticed my friend already hard at work. “Look at all this stuff!” I said as I walked over to the boxes and tubs piled in a haphazard array. She smiled, “Yeah, I don’t know where we’re going to put it all.” I shrugged, she had been working on organizing this stuff much longer than I had so I didn’t feel entitled to an opinion. I opened up the first box I came to and I was pleased to find a rather large book collection. These books were clearly the forgotten remnants of someone’s childhood. I flipped through the pages to see if there were any treasures hidden among them. Finding nothing I put the books on the bookshelf among the other children’s books.

The books weren’t the only things we dug out from the boxes. Long-forgotten Christmas ornaments and a metal figurine of a cow holding a milk jug were among the stuff that we retrieved. Some of the things are so incredibly odd you find yourself wondering why someone would ever want to keep them. We certainly don’t keep many of the things that aren’t any good. There was a large pile of trash by the time we finished sifting through everything.

All these things were long forgotten and someone stopped caring about them. That’s how they ended up in a storage unit auction. From there my dad packed up all their forgotten things in his truck and brought them to his shop where we organize all these things that were clearly important enough to keep, but not important enough to keep in their homes. These storage units are eventually lost; whether to bad memories, lost bills, or hard times. These lost units are eventually found again by someone looking to sell the all the once-treasured things.

Going through the boxes is truly an enlightening experience. You stop to wonder if all these things were really that important in the first place. I’ve promised myself I will never get a storage unit. I think it’s better to just get rid of the things you no longer need. It’s also therapeutic to let go of that part of your life. There’s only so much room within four walls for things, but there is infinite storage in our minds for all of the wonderful memories. All of those books I found, they were the remnants of a childhood that someone wanted to preserve. How futile it seems to try and preserve something that is already lost to us.

A Letter to My Sister

Don’t think I haven’t noticed you’re getting old on me. Next year you’ll be in the sixth grade! That’s really exciting and really scary. You’re probably wondering why I decided to write this letter to you and I suppose I should tell you. Little sister, I am writing you this letter to let you know it’s ok to be you. You’re growing up much too fast. I know that’s because you’ve felt pressure from the sister in high school to be just like her. I know it’s because your other sister left you to go on to college. I know it’s because all your friends are trying so hard to act mature and you just want to fit in. I know. That’s why I’m telling you it’s ok to still want to be yourself.

If you want to wear nail polish, makeup, and fancy dresses then I want you to do that. If you want to get muddy, ride horses, and raise chickens then I want you to do that. If you want to study hard, get smart, and make lots of money I want you to do that. If you decide that you don’t want to be just a stereotype then I can support that, too. I don’t want you to feel like you’re trapped in a bubble of who you are allowed to be. I know the world says otherwise, if I’ve learned anything in psychology it’s that people love to put everyone else in boxes. You must always remember to stay true to yourself despite what everyone else says.

Little sister, I’ve been where you are. Times have changed a lot since I was in your shoes. I didn’t have an iPad in elementary school or text my friends every evening. If you had asked me if I had a Facebook in the sixth grade I would have laughed at you. (What is that? A book of faces? Gross!) All this new technology is a dangerous thing and I want you to remember that. The internet is a place where your whole life can be documented. That means that your future employers can scroll through your Facebook feed and see if you’ve got a positive attitude or not. Technology is telling.

In this world it is becoming more and more important to present yourself favorably all the time. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. After all it’s hard enough to figure out what you’re going to wear tomorrow without worrying how people with think of you in five years. I advise you to start thinking in a socially active way now. I realize you probably don’t know what being socially active is, you can come ask me if you want me to explain it in more detail. What I mean is that you should start volunteering regularly around home. Get mom to take you to the local food kitchen or volunteer at a local dog rescue. If you go ahead and begin developing volunteering habits now you’re setting yourself up for success later. Volunteering really allows you to develop skills that can be used to your advantage later.

It’s also not too late to begin working on beefing up your STEM skills. There are lots of programs aimed at girls your age that encourage a growing knowledge of science and technology. Use that to your advantage and I promise you’ll be happy you did. It’s never too early to begin thinking about how you’re going to make it through college. I know I wish I had started earlier thinking how I would get the money. (Mom and Dad are not helpful in this area. They just yell at you.)

I know this is a lot to think about before you ever get into the sixth grade. It’s a lot to think about when you’re in college. I just thought I would warn you that who likes who is not the biggest issue you will ever face. I want you to be prepared to take on the world in a way that I never was. I know you don’t like it when I give you advice. I’m still living with our parents so how much could I really know? Just trust me on this and start thinking about how you can grow yourself into a better you.

I know you’ll be just fine.

XOXO

Finding Herself

I recently wrote a post about loss. In it I mentioned that loss and I are old friends. Today I’m going to write why I think of loss as a friend.

 

Loss and I are old friends. Not because I like to lose things. Loss can be inconvenient and hurtful and just plain old awful, but it is my friend. Much like any other friend Loss comes and goes and everything it does with the best of intentions. Because Loss isn’t about hurting people for no reason.

People like to say everything happens for a reason. In the religious world we like to tell each other that God has a plan. In our darkest moments we like to ask the age-old question: Why me? Somehow between the highs and the lows we forget how we’ve gotten this far. We can’t remember how we got through it all the last time. Once we hit the low that accompanies Loss we reach desperately for a bandage to patch up our broken souls and sometimes we don’t find one. It is human to forget that we can find the light at the end of the tunnel. To be totally cliché: Even the darkest nights have to end.

It is at the end of these low points we find the thing we’ve been looking for. You lose your job so you can find an excuse to start your own business. You lose a friendship so you can find a new friend. You lose a pet so you can find a new one that needs a home. You lose a piece of yourself so you can find renewed faith. The beautiful thing about Loss is that it is often paired with Found.

I have experienced many losses in my lifetime. I have experienced feeling so low I thought I was already in hell, but I wouldn’t change those moments for anything. It is through my losses that I have found myself. I have discovered who I am and what I am capable of. I never would have grown into the person I am were it not for all the things I have lost over my lifetime. So it is with great pleasure that I can say Loss is my friend. Without it I would have never become the person I am today.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

~Amazing Grace by John Newton

Getting Out of the House

There is something about getting out of the house. Taking a walk in the woods. Or driving with no destination.

 

Today I had to get out of the house.

 

Things have changed around my home since I’ve been away to school. Every time  I come home there are little things amiss. I think my least favorite part is cleaning everyone else’s stuff out of my room once I get home. The rest of my stay involves me trying to keep them from bringing their junk back in here. It drives me crazy. So I had to get out of my room today.

I went for a walk down the road. Until I remembered that I was a young female walking alone on the side of the road. Then I started imagining all the cars driving by were full of potential rapists and I would totally be blamed because I was wearing athletic clothes and not a suit of armor. (What was I thinking?!) I woefully turned around and started walking back to my house which was a real drag because I seriously needed to be distracted. Then I remembered we have this really great hill behind my house!

The walk up the hill wasn’t terrible. I didn’t even flinch at walking into the woods. Until I got in there and thought about how I could totally die because a deer attacked me. And then I ran into a giant spider web. Fantastic. I kept walking until I saw this giant black beast begin moving toward me in the middle of the flipping woods and I was thinking, Goodbye cruel world. My time was short and kind of sucked. Then I remembered we have a giant black horse that is totally supposed to be back there! I was really happy until I realized I was going to have to walk up a really steep incline if I ever wanted to see my family again.

If you’ve never been on a steep incline with a bunch of sticks and stuff underneath you then you’re really missing out on a life changing experience. Basically the whole time you’re just forcing yourself forward. You’re still thinking about how a snake could totally come up from the ground and eat your leg off but if you stop moving you’re going to fall down so you just keep going. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see grass as when I reached the top.

Then began my journey back to my house because I was pretty done with nature for the day. On the way back down I came across a super photogenic butterfly. So basically the whole trip was totally worth it. I mean, these photos are totally priceless. I was probably six inches away from a living butterfly and it didn’t fly away. If that doesn’t show how totally zen I had become after almost dying of snake venom in my leg then I don’t know how I could prove it to you.

Really photogenic butterfly!

For the Love of Eating

When I was much younger my family used to get together constantly. We would all gather at my great-grandparents’ house for food, fun, and family. My favorite part was always the food. The deviled eggs, macaroni salad, banana pudding, and my favorite: my great-grandmother’s chicken n’ dumplings. I used to call them fluffy white clouds and I loved them.

There was just something about the southern comfort food I used to eat as a child. All the rich flavors and mouth-watering scents. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything better than the dishes that would be served at my great-grandmother’s house. Maybe it was because the food served as a little reminder of how much I was loved by those around me.

Many years, and a few heartaches later, we don’t get together at my great-grandmother’s house anymore. She’s been in a nursing home for a few years now. I’ll probably never have her chicken n’ dumplings again. But I think the worst part about her growing old is that she doesn’t have the strength to hold our family together anymore.

When I think back to those days I get a little sad because my little sister will never get to have those memories of playing at our great-grandmother’s house with everyone around. She was too young to remember all the great times we had there. I can still imagine the living room. The smiling faces taking up all the available space. I remember running from my great-grandfather’s bees in the back yard and playing basketball with my cousins. I remember how great the sun felt.

In the digital age we’ve lost the need to be as close to our families and neighbors. Why get to know your family when you can just text your friends? We’ve all become strangers to everyone around us. In an age of microwave dinners it’s not even necessary to sit down as a family and have a meal. I remember my great-grandmother letting me help her in the kitchen, some of my favorite memories are when we bonded over biscuit dough.

Maybe I’ll go outside today and get some fresh air. Or call someone to ask about those recipes.