Daily Intention: 6.15.15

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We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

Romans 5:3-4

 

(Image via HillsongUnited‘s Instagram)


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“I know this trip should take a week…”

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A bit of reflection this morning:

This morning, after Spencer left for work, I had my “mellow summer” playlist jamming while I cleaned up the house. I was just moseying around, picking things up, and then the song “You Are Mine” by Enter the Worship Circle came on. I’ve heard this song dozens of times – I first heard it in the TV show “Hart of Dixie” (RIP Bluebell) – but for some reason, the hook snagged on my heart this morning and dragged me towards the computer to write. The lyrics that caught me?

“Maybe I don’t have the strength, maybe I don’t have the faith.You brought me here in 40 years… well, I know this trip should take a week…. in all of this, I’ve come undone.”

I’ve been on quite the journey the last few years. Health, career, friendships, family – there has been a lot of growth and refinement – and as thankful as I am, part of me feels like I’ve been traveling for way longer than normally necessary. One of my peers from college is now a full-time tenured professor at a major liberal arts college, and I’m just now applying for my PhD. Several of my friends have two children, and the majority of the rest are pregnant now or trying to get pregnant. As for us, in light of graduate school, traveling to Europe, and a possible move next year, we’re not in that place…

I feel so behind. As if I’m being led through the wilderness, the road curving this way and that, backwards and forwards, and I’m being surpassed by those who are on a much more direct route. I’m frustrated…I’m angry! I know, I know, I tell myself, I am “learning” and “growing”… but really I’m just jealous of what others have and what make them happy.

We all have our own stories – I know that. But I’ve found that the story of “I feel misunderstood” or “I don’t feel seen” is a major roadblock for me. Can you relate? Is there a journey that you are on that feels like a winding road, where every one step forward is accompanied by two steps back?

The next stop on my academic journey is the GRE exam. Again, this is a duplicate stop – I was here three years ago. I feel as if my entire career hinges on this test, and, in a way, it does. Is there such a thing as good pressure?

The next stop on my health journey is sewing together all the separate pieces I’ve knit these last few years – first the emotional, then the fitness, and finally, the nutrition. Will I be able to?

I suppose I’d be silly to leave out the end of the song.

Lately, I’ve been pretty cynical about faith and religion and God. I have a lot of questions about these things – about the nature of Scripture and changing interpretations and belief in the wake of culture – that no pastor or leader or friend has been able to answer for me. Funnily enough, yesterday I read this article about relativity and time (this is the kind of thing that my husband LOVES), and after a few Back to the Future jokes, I realized how comforting it was to my spirit. If time does not move forward, but backwards, and if chance is not chance at all, then my whole conception of myself in comparison to others is off. And, hang with me, if Newtonian physics is not the foundation upon which reality rests… then that opens up a lot of doors for a supreme Being, a Spirit that cannot be boiled down and reduced to a porcelain doll by narrow-minded Christian pastors… and I am comforted.

“When you walk though the water, I will be with you
When you pass through the river, the waves will not overtake you
When you walk on the fire, the flames they will not touch you
You are mine, you are mine, you are mine…”

XO.


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Off to London we go!

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I am so excited because this past weekend, Spencer and I booked our tickets to go to England and Scotland in May!

I can’t wait. It has been a dream of mine to go to the UK for as long as I can remember. Truly! I am really looking forward to all of the historical places we are going to visit, especially those related to the honors thesis I’m writing for school on the Glorious Revolution and empire in colonial New England. We are planning on spending five days in London, and then a few days in other English cities (perhaps Bath, where my sweet reader-turned-friend Louise is from!) before heading up to Scotland.

Here’s the list of places we’re going to go.

  • Westminster Abbey
  • The Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum
  • Kensington Palace
  • The British Library (there is a supposedly amazing exhibit on the Magna Carta I am really excited for!)
  • House of Parliament
  • The London Eye
  • Hyde Park
  • The West End
  • The Harry Potter Studio Tour (obvi!)
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Bath and the Cotswolds

What do you think? Also, if you all have trips for long-haul flights and UK travel, I’d love to hear them! Can’t wait to share more with you as we get closer to the trip!

(image via flickr)


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Whole 30

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Hello!

Here we are again, my friends. A new year – well, it’s March – and new endeavors. A lot has happened in the last few months, but I thought that I would stop in to reflect a bit on the Whole 30 challenge that Spencer and I decided to take on recently.

I have been griping about paleo eating and elimination diets for years now. For me, it was triggering to cut out whole food groups. However, I am very concerned about my health, and in letting my already bad eating habits get too ingrained in me. I feel like life goes by so fast – in a blink of an eye, I went from 18 to nearly 28… And I don’t want to wake up in 10 more years overweight, stressed, unhappy with my body, sick from inflammation, and possibly ill with any one of the laundry list of weight and inflammation-related diseases I am genetically predisposed to.

If someone told me that I would get diabetes if I didn’t change my habits, I might choose to eat differently. If they told me it’d happen tomorrow, though, I sure as hell would drop everything to prevent that from happening. And that disparity bothers me. Why am I going to let fear control me? Why would I wait until the last possible moment to live a healthier life?

We started talking (Spencer and I, that is) about what habits we want to change. I am a sugar addict, I struggle to get protein, and I would eat bread and cheese for days if given the opportunity (I am going to just avoid France all together on this Whole 30). Don’t even get me started about wine. I am a complete oenophile (wine lover…I’m preparing for the GRE vocabulary section, can you tell?). I adore wine. I want to own a winery. It’s a passion. But it’s also a bad habit because I treat it like chocolate or brie or any other comfort food. It’s not the drunk feeling I’m after, it’s truly the taste. Anyway, alcohol and sugar and dairy and grains… they have commandeered my diet. I don’t get enough protein, and I struggle to include vegetables. Something has to change.

Once I thought about all of the things that I wanted to change, the Whole 30 made sense.

We started yesterday, and I have to say, it’s been tough. Not because I am craving pancakes and ice cream, but because I have a habit of snacking, of mindless eating. I am realizing how often I turn to food for comfort, and that is just no bueno. That makes me really uncomfortable, how beholden I am to food for comfort and not for sustenance or nourishment. It feels like a true addiction, and that is really unsettling.

I have a whole slew of things I’m nervous about when it comes to the Whole 30 but they’re more about my habits and feelings than about the eating ideology itself. So we’re hanging in. Spencer is a champ – he ate this way for years when he was really struggling with his Crohn’s diagnosis four years ago. He’s a great encouragement to me. And of course I am hoping to see changes to the body. But it’s only day two, and these mental changes are staring me down, and I want to say goodbye to them for good. I am just so over it.

I have been posting a lot about the experience on Instagram, so go check it out @anneiam. But let me know what your experiences have been like! I want to know. And share your recipes, too!

XO


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Well, hello!

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Remember me?

I used to hang around here a lot. I’d occasionally write something, and then you all would respond. Sometimes, I posted pretty pictures. Any of that ringing a bell?

I’ll cut the antics and shoot you straight: My mom told me this morning that she looked at my blog yesterday. She said, “You haven’t written since October, I think!” Umm, try September, mom… Oops.

I have been super busy reading books and crackin’ skulls. Well, no skull cracking (ew?) but a lot of paper writing, and library visits, and late-night workouts with my trainer where I complain about how the undergrads in my classes are really bugging me and come on, when can I just start grad school? I haven’t even been reading blogs in the last few months. Instagram is starting to collect dust. It seems that blogging has just kind of… slipped out of my open hands. It’s lost some of it’s meaning or purpose… at least the meaning and purpose it used to hold for my life, which was that of connection and inspiration. There has been lot of offline connection, and as I’ve written about this year following my trip to ALT in January, a lot of disenchantment with bloggers in general. I’m still inspired by many, but I’m not really in the market for blog-related inspiration these days. I’m still a loyal Joy the Baker follower, but that is about it (and also, who isn’t?).

So here is a bit of an update:

  • in September, I hosted an event at Madewell! It was super fun to meet so many of you, and to spend great time with my blog friends. Some of them even made a two-hour drive from up north to attend, which was awesome.
  • in October, I started my honors thesis, which is what has been eating up 99% of my time these days. I’m about halfway finished at this point…although the next half is going to take probably twice, if not three times as long as the first section. But at least I enjoy it!
  • in November, my amazing husband flew three of my best friends out to Colorado to celebrate my golden birthday (I turned 27 on the 27th) with me, which was INCREDIBLE. We had so much fun, and the party was super rowdy. It was, seriously, the best birthday I have ever had in my entire life!
  • in December, so far, we have been busy getting ready for our family to join us at our house for Christmas this year, and I’ve been finishing up finals. Tomorrow is the last day! I don’t know what I am going to do for the five weeks I have off, but I have a few ideas rollin’ around in my head to keep me occupied.

All around, it’s been an awesome few months. We’ve been spending a lot of time with our dear friends, and working hard to get more fit and healthy.

I don’t know what the future of Anne the Adventurer is. There may be the occasional blog post on a DIY or a party, and perhaps a few style posts, but I think that this space will be transitioning to more of a documentation of life – my life, life with my husband, and in future years, our growing family. Some of you may lose interest, but that is okay. I’m sorry to not be providing more of what you originally signed up for, but I do hope you stick around. I genuinely miss you all.  Well, not those of you who are creepers (you know who you are, creepers) but those of you who are lovely and authentic and awesome.

I miss writing, and maybe most importantly, reflecting and documenting the beauty in life, the things to be thankful for. It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in my own head. I’m getting better at this, though. Maybe I will post more over winter break, which would be really nice. And I’d really like to work on my photography skills, which are majorly lacking because I just haven’t been practicing. I hate to think that I’m interested in reviving this space because of the upcoming New Year vibes, but that is probably part of it. I guess that isn’t a bad thing entirely, but I just don’t want to lose steam. You know what I mean, right?

So let me know how you are doing, and let’s take all the pressure off ourselves and just show up as we are and share. Share life, share stories, share truth, share hope. How does that sound to you? Good? Because it sounds pretty damn swell to me.

XO


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Trouble Sleeping

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What do you guys do when your brain is reeling, and you can’t seem to focus or sleep well? I get this way every now and then. My brain is just too active with all the to do’s and concerns and stressors. I notice that when I get this way, I tend to want everything to be super orderly and structured, but what’s funny is that the thing that usually makes me feel better is genuine interaction with friends. Which is not orderly or structured, just loose and fun and relaxing.

The middle of the night when I’m tossing and turning isn’t usually conducive to hang out’s with friends, though, so I’ve had to be creative and learn about new resources that I can draw upon that make me feel better. Some of the things I’ve found have been wrapping up in a soft blanket or sweater (something about the softness calms my nervous system), getting up and writing so that my brain can find some solace in processing thoughts a bit, using meditation skills to ground myself, and applying essential oils like Rescue Remedy or doTerra’s Serenity and Balance.

What works for you?

 

Also, Amy Poehler on Sleep.

Love this article on Cup of Jo about sleeping tricks.

 

 

(Photo of Chelsea Petaja via Front and Main)


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A few random thoughts…

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Just wanted to pop in tonight with a few random thoughts (and a few random photos for good measure…). Things have been going really great around here. Starting school two weeks ago was a little bumpy, but I learned a lot and feel like this week, I really have my head in the right place.

Spencer and I talked for awhile tonight about contentment, and how to cultivate that contentment. We are both first-born, type A, super anxious people who can fret about the little things. I am someone who doesn’t take criticism well, and we both struggle to see other people struggle, especially our families and friends. How do we cultivate joy and contentment when we are so prone to worry? we asked ourselves. I think sometimes that means we need to step back a bit to focus on our individual lives and our marriage – we need to be more intentional with our time. Also, sometimes joy and hope are choices that we have to purposefully make. I have learned so much about this in the last few months/year and so has my friend, Kim. Her post on choosing joy from today is a must read. I am so proud to call her my friend.

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Processed with VSCOcam with s1 presetWe had fun at LizzyPancake’s wedding!

I have made some big choices for school that will mean I am going to be super busy these next few months. I can’t share with you the details yet, but I will when I can :) But never mind the details – I had a realization today that I am so happy with what I spend my days doing. I love studying and research, and I know that I will sound like a big nerd, but reading dozens of books about the Puritans these last few months (and the next few months) has been the most fun/content I’ve had/been in years. I am so happy that I have some focus in what I want to do with my career. It’s such a relief to feel content.

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Spencer is napping, and I’m worried he might be getting a migraine so I just rubbed some doTerra peppermint essential oil that I got from my lovely friend Heather on his temples, and I hope that he’ll get up in an hour and be ready for some fun. I’m going to post this, and then do a bit more homework before preparing dinner. Then, I want to go for a walk, and watch the documentary Somm with Spencer before we go and try to see the northern lights tonight! I really hope that we can!

What are you guys up to this weekend? Hope something fun and lovely. XO


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Learning How to Love Freely

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Yesterday, I started fall semester at school, and it’s been a whirlwind already. It’s only Tuesday, but it feels like Friday. Yeah, one of those weeks. I’ve been anxious and irritated, and yesterday, I sat in my spot in the stacks for a long time journaling, trying to figure out why I was feeling so negative about something that I love so much: school.

Today, I woke up early (5am is a slap in the face!) and was feeling chipper and happy. I got to school at 7am, and it was so quiet. I loved it. It was such a shock yesterday after the mellow vibe of summer school in Boulder to have all 30,000 CU students back all at once. So, this morning I learned that early morning at school is the best time to be there. But in the back of my mind was this gnawing feeling that the serenity would only last so long, that “the students” (like they’re a collective monster) were waiting in the wings, about to pounce around 9 or 10. By 11am, I was back in irritation station. I barely made it through my last class, and when I got to the gym at 2, I broke down in tears. This is not how I want school to go/be/feel.

So, where is this negativity coming from? I can tell that I am so irritated by the community at school, with the apathetic attitude. Now, of course, not everyone fits into this massive generalization I am laying out before you, but I have encountered student apathy in the classroom way more often than I’d like to.

Why would anyone skip class when they’re paying thousands of dollars to be there? Why would you not do the work? Why isn’t school important or valued amongst these students I’ve encountered? I’ll say it again – I realize that I’m making a generalization. And I also realize that when I was 19, I skipped class and didn’t do the work and didn’t value school as much as I do now. We can get that off the table. I know that I have age and experience on my side when it comes to my work ethic being more developed. But I am so distracted by the apathy, by the bad attitudes, by the stark contrast in the values I hold and the values the community holds. It’s hard to get work done with this irritation shuddering through me in this frenetic, uncomfortable way.

I feel like I am being put through a test. Maybe not a test, but I am sure as hell doing some good learning. I have been making mistakes in how I treat people almost all of my waking hours these last two days of school, and I am learning a lot about compassion and patience. I prayed for so long yesterday that I would learn how to love people as God does – unconditionally. I will always fall short since I am not omniscient and am not able to know everyone’s full story or able to understand the depths of their emotions or experiences, as the Spirit does, but I want so desperately to be someone who LOVES people. Like, really, really loves people.

I have such a short supply of patience and I have such high expectations for people. I scrutinize unfairly, I make snap judgments, and I label people without a filter – idiot, stoner, floozey, ignorant, apathetic, rude, selfish, mean. I am owning up to a lot of (pardon me) shit right now. And I am doing that because, honestly, I am so sick of being like this. I know that we all do this sort of thing in some measure, but I know that I have these habits or engage in these behaviors because I used to be bullied as a kid. I was bullied so I became a bully. And that defensive strategy never really went away, but I don’t need it anymore! I am an adult, and a confident one at that. And the more I learn about myself, the more confident I become that God set me apart and I am fine the way I am.

I am starting to have my eyes opened to the fact that loving others is SO hard, but it’s a little easier the more we love ourselves. Think about it, why would we be so judgmental or defensively rude to someone if we fully loved ourselves? And I don’t mean vanity or narcissism, I mean knowing the fullness of our worth. Why would there be any reason to deny someone love if we knew how great love is? I think the only reason I deny loving others is because I lack love myself. At the end of the day, it’s about security, safety, and faith.

My love of learning – it is such a gift. God saw this talent in me, this beautiful intellect that I’ve been given, and blessed me by cultivating it through the opportunity to go back to school. I don’t want it to be soured by a bad attitude. If I could go anywhere in the world – Yale, Notre Dame, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan – would I go there? I am tempted to say yes because the classroom environments might be more focused, but I would always be lacking something. Friendships, which I have here, closeness to family, which I have here, a great job for my husband, which we have here…  It’s temping to say “If only this or that were different, I’d be happier/nicer/less irritable” but it’s just not true. Our demons follow us, and there will always be loads of difficult people to love.

This semester, I have three goals: to get straight A’s, to continue getting healthier and more fit, and to make 2 new friends at school. The underlying prayer behind all of this though is this: Spirit, help me to love people as you love them – wholly and unconditionally, and help me to be free with kindness, to be full of hope, and rich in compassion – for myself and for others.


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Thoughts on Mental Health and Feelings of Desperation…

I heard this song by Passenger via NPR a few weeks ago. It’s about a real life man who Mike Rosenberg (of Passenger) met in Minnesota one night when he went out to buy cigarettes. The man was on his way to his family’s home, and he was riding across the United States on a motorcycle. It would be his last act – he had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to live out the rest of his days with his family.

The song doesn’t have much to do with what I’m writing about today, other than that it was inspiration enough for Rosenberg to stop smoking, and it made me think about choices we all can make to prevent early death or sickness or abusive experiences in our own lives, and instead live full, healthy, long lives.

In light of Robin Williams’ suicide last week, I have been thinking a lot about mental health in the last few days. The people I know who have taken their own lives, and the people I don’t know who have. My friend Julie who somewhat took her own life when her struggle with an eating disorder put her into her second diabetic coma, one she didn’t wake up from. My dear professor Dr. H whose struggle with bipolar disorder led him to take his own life in April. Other family friends… and then there are those who I don’t know but you do. You know their stories. I’m sure you have friends who struggle with self-harm. Maybe you struggle yourself.

While I have never been compelled to self-harm or have had suicidal thoughts myself, I have experienced depression and anxiety. I know what it is like under those dark, heavy clouds, when you feel like you can’t breathe and life just seems scary and unmanageable. I’ve felt numb and I’ve felt desperate. I’ve felt electrocuted with intense emotion that takes all of the bravery out of my lungs. During those times, I’ve turned and run, if not outright sprinted, to my doctor and my therapist and my husband. I have told them that I will tell them all of my secrets, read every journal, answer all of their questions if they will just help me not feel this way anymore. I’ve left practitioners behind who’ve shamed me, and I’ve clung close to the ones who have been my unwavering advocates. And I’ve felt the relief of coming out of the depression cloud, and I know what it’s like to be on the other side.

The thing about mental health is – whether it’s depression or really public suicides like Robin Williams’ or mass shootings or close family/friend deaths – our society really struggles to talk about it. The conversation likes to dwindle, and I’m sure there are a lot of reasons as to why that sociologists a lot smarter than me could tell you about but I’m guessing a lot of it has to do with fear of inadequacy or feeling of shame and weakness. Not wanting to be misunderstood. Not wanting to be fired or let go or demoted if you’re really honest about your struggle. Not wanting your spouse to think less of you, or not wanting to even admit it to yourself because it’s just so damn scary. And maybe even that you or others you know have tried so hard to get help, but it just didn’t work. Or “stick.” That’s how it was with Julie. And Dr. H.

I am not a professional, and I don’t have the answers. Like I said, I don’t know all the reasons behind why the U.S seems to be plagued with mass violence and depression/anxiety struggles. But I believe that this little blog can make a big difference, even if it is just in one life. And with that belief comes the duty to speak out about resources and hope and health in hopes that if any of you are struggling yourself or struggling to support someone, that you know where to go.

Robin Williams’ death is so tragic because he was such a big talent and inspired so many. But I know that for me, personally, Dr. H was a big talent and he inspired so many. Not very many people knew him or of him, but he still affected a lot of people. And that is the same for your life and for your loved ones who may be struggling. Your life matters in HUGE ways. Not many people may know you or of you, but that doesn’t matter. Dr. H matters way more to me than Robin Williams because I knew him personally. And it’s the same with each of us. Mental health affects all of us, no matter who we are. And I think it’s important that we are reminded daily that we are valuable. We are worthy. We have reason for hope. We are capable of amazing things. The world needs us. Our stories matter.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please consider the following resources and inform yourself. Get help. Start the dialogue and the road to health. Lean on hope.

To Write Love On Her Arms connects people to treatment and sources of help. They have a long list of resources on their ‘Get Help’ page.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Veterans Crisis Line

Other resources may include a local church or religious organization, your university or school health clinic, a local protection agency like a firefighter’s station (which are often registered safe havens for those escaping abusive situations) or police station.

I’ll leave you with words from Dr. H from a time when I was feeling anxious and needed encouragement:

There are those of us who are overwhelmed with anxiety because we may feel we will disappoint others or ourselves. We might feel that we will fail and that the failure will shame us. Or we might feel we are simply not prepared enough or good enough or smart enough. The truth is all of the above fears are unfounded. Failure is not the end of the world, it is the beginning of understanding and knowledge. People who love us will not be disappointed by our failures, they are more likely to want to help us review the experience, process it and help us in moving on from it.

I am praying today that all of you know your worth, and that all of you find relief and comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone.


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Let’s Party at Madewell on Friday!

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Hey! Guys! Guess what?

I’m co-hosting Madewell Boulder’s One-Year Anniversary Party on Friday, and I want you to be there!

You know that I have been focusing on the idea that we are all made well in the last few months. We are strong, brave, vulnerable, beautiful individuals whose stories matter. And so when Madewell Boulder asked me to partner with them to celebrate their one year anniversary, I jumped at the opportunity. Here is a moment where women will be gathered together to shop, sip, snack, and meet new people, and I wanted the evening to be about self-love instead of self-hate. You know how easy it is when we’re shopping to pick clothes that we feel forced to fit our body into rather than choosing clothes that will fit our body? Or to go to a party where we feel like we aren’t fashionable enough, funny enough, engaging enough – just plain not enough. Let’s leave that at the door on Friday. You’re enough, right now. Let’s just have some fun!

There will be bubbles to sip on, snacks, and I’ll be doing some personal styling! There will also be a chance to win a $100 gift card just because you showed up – you don’t even need to buy anything! More than anything, I’m excited to chat with y’all and share the authentic love that we are all our best when we are truly ourselves. So, come as you are!

If you can, please RSVP via the Facebook event so we know to expect you!

Can’t wait! XO.


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