Archive | February 2016

Farewell 20s, hello 30s!

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Dear twentysomething me: You have a lot to look forward to.

On January 23, I turned 30.

I know some people freak out at the turn of every decade, with thoughts of getting old and the fear of a swift downward spiral, but I truly love birthdays and my 30th was no different. (It also doesn’t feel so old once you get here … despite my 13-year-old sister calling me ancient.)

I will admit that in the weeks leading up to the milestone, I was a bit sad to see my 20s slipping away. But as I thought about all the things I’d done and all the places I’d gone, I felt like I really made the most of it.

Now that I’m a few weeks into my 30s, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect on the past decade—and to make a list of things I look forward to in the next 10 years.

In my 20s, I …

  • Studied abroad in Australia where I
  • Met my future husband.
  • Finished college and
  • Put myself through grad school.
  • Had 11 roommates.
  • Moved 6 times, including dorm rooms, apartments and a house,
  • Which I bought.
  • Held 6 jobs—
  • One selling expensive cutlery,
  • Another working for a newspaper, where I reported on everything from crime scenes to farming.
  • Totaled a car (not my fault … at least not all of it).
  • Cried at my first speeding ticket (my fault but still unfair).
  • Had 3 dogs.
  • Made 2 road trips to Minnesota.
  • Camped in Canada.
  • Made lots of new friends.
  • Took up running at age 28.
  • Ran three 5Ks.
  • Interned at a performing arts center
  • And a public radio station.
  • Saw numerous friends get married,
  • As well as my kid brother.
  • Tried to start a garden,
  • And determined I’m terrible at growing things.
  • Took an Alaska cruise with my grandmother.
  • Visited North Dakota, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, D.C., Kentucky, Colorado, Washington, New Hampshire, Brazil and Japan.
  • Went skydiving.
  • Changed my hair color 4 times, from red to blonde to dark brown to light brown.
  • Gained wonderful in-laws
  • And 2 nephews.
  • Hosted Easter lunch
  • And Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Took an all-girls trip to Charleston, S.C., with the women of the family.
  • Road tripped to Miami with the coolest co-workers ever.
  • Bought real furniture.
  • Read the entire Bible (twice).
  • Kept 4 blogs.
  • Went snowboarding and skiing for the first time … and don’t intend to ski ever again.
  • Celebrated 5 years of marriage with a bike trip.
  • And took thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pictures of it all.

Last night, as I browsed those old photos and blog posts, half of me wanted to go back and relive some of those moments. The other half didn’t, since going backwards would mean missing out on all that’s ahead—the fun, the challenges, the crummy things that still make you stronger.

So, here’s what I’ve got so far.

In my 30s, I look forward to …

  • Running my first 10K in April.
  • Visiting Hawaii … next week!
  • Learning to drive a manual. I mean it.
  • Finally going to Ireland!
  • Seeing Emily graduate from high school.
  • And completing anything else on my bucket list, in no particular order.

What about you? What was/is the greatest thing about your 30s?   

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The Super Bowl letdown

I don’t follow football. The only game I ever watch is the Super Bowl, and I usually don’t care who’s in it.

Except when it’s my home team.

I felt a certain amount of pride the past couple of weeks, seeing so much blue and black spread across Charlotte: The roadside stands selling overpriced Panthers T-shirts. The sea of jerseys perusing the meat aisle at Harris Teeter. The Chick-fil-A sign wishing Carolina well in the Super Bowl. And one Facebook post after another with the hashtag #KeepPounding.

Last night, as I settled onto my friend’s couch, I fully expected a great game—and it was—but it was also hard to watch as the home team with such an amazing season behind them got clobbered on the field. It was as painful as that puppy monkey baby commercial.

Still, I thought, they made it to the Super Bowl. That’s a big deal! And they were facing their toughest opponent yet, not some rookie team. I hated watching them lose last night, just as I hated watching them lose to the Patriots in 2004, but I could still be proud of how far they had come.

Then I saw Cam Newton’s post-game media interview. (Which, it seems, may be more complex than most people are talking about, but I’ll get back to that.)

It doesn’t take a die-hard football fan to know Cam is a great player. Even I know that. He’s incredibly talented and is big on giving back to the community, especially when it comes to helping youth.

But man, the interview.

I certainly wouldn’t expect him to be all smiles after losing the most important game of the year—and possibly of his career, although I think he has a good chance of returning to the Super Bowl—but it says something when the only thing I’ve heard about him since the game ended has to do with that interview.

My initial reaction was somewhat motherly: “Take your hood off, hold your head up and put on your big boy pants. Stop being such a sore loser. You can’t win them all.” He came across as a pouty child, and it was embarrassing for the whole team, regardless of what happened beforehand.

Even worse? I’ve been guilty of the same thing.

Now let me back up a second. I know the loss was a huge disappointment, and I felt bad for every Panther who worked so hard to get there. I’m sure it’s not easy having dozens of reporters in your face, either, basically asking why you didn’t play better, but in the media’s defense, that’s their job.

Cam is still a great player, and I’m sure he’ll bounce back. But slouching, mumbling and making an abrupt escape during an interview isn’t making him look good right now. Even if that’s not all there is to the story, that’s clearly made the biggest impression.

All this hubbub around his interview has made me think about how we come across when we face failure or disappointment. Are we immature, or do we show some grace? Do we wallow in self-pity, or do we see it as a teachable moment? On a spiritual level, how does our reaction reflect Christ? Sometimes we have a short amount of time to make an impact.

I’ve certainly reacted poorly to someone else’s accomplishment (even if it stayed in my head), and I know I’ve been so down on myself that I’ve failed to show any hint of optimism. Fortunately for me, news cameras haven’t been around to capture it.

It’s true pride and expectations can take a beating, but sometimes we need to be brought down a notch. Maybe that’s what it takes to make us grow. Maybe that’s what it takes to make us better the next time around.

We’ve all had letdowns. How did you react last time you faced disappointment? How do you think that reaction affected others?

One of the pretty ones

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Adapted from an older post. … And yes, this is still something I struggle with.

I work with some of the most beautiful women I know. You know the type. Flawless skin, clothes that fit just right, jewelry that’s understated yet fashionable, and hair that always looks good, even when she claims it’s dirty. Her shoes always fit the occasion, and she likely doesn’t own any “fat jeans.” Even her mother doesn’t have an awkward picture of her.

Sometimes I have what I call “off days.” Days when my confidence is shot, when my outfit doesn’t quite work and I generally feel icky. These are days that I could easily be jealous of the seemingly perfect women walking around, but it’s harder when they’re nice.

I’ve told Pete about my off days and he tells me I’m ridiculous. He calls me beautiful on a regular basis and says I look nice on the days I least expect it, but sometimes I have a hard time believing it. Sometimes I just don’t feel like one of the pretty ones.

I doubt there’s a female in this world who hasn’t wanted to look or be different in some way at some point in her life. If only I were taller, shorter, slimmer, curvier, had straight hair, curly hair, darker skin, lighter skin, etc., etc., etc.

Heck, sometimes I even avoid eye contact because I don’t want to guess what people are thinking about me. Even though most of the time, they’re probably thinking about something completely different.

Social media and checkout line magazines certainly don’t help.

A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for images of a certain celebrity for a work assignment. After scrolling through one gorgeous photo after another on her Instagram page, I felt pretty low about myself. I wish I looked like that, I thought. And then, How does she manage to look amazing in EVERY SINGLE PICTURE?! There are hundreds of them!

And so begins the comparison game.

I remember asking my friend several years ago why one of my worst features couldn’t be different.

“Because then something else would be wrong with you,” she said.

Her point was that no one is perfect. And while I do think it’s important to take care of yourself, feel good about yourself and to consider how you’re presenting yourself, whining about the things you dislike or wishing you were someone else entirely won’t get you anywhere.

In light of my insecurities, I’m continually convicted by this verse:

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
—1 Samuel 16:7

There it is, plain as day. God doesn’t care what you look like; He cares about the heart. And does anyone else’s opinion matter? Even my own?

It’s pretty amazing to realize that the perfectly loving, perfectly wise God who made the heavens and the earth also made me, and that He doesn’t make mistakes. By beating myself down, it’s like beating down His creation, and, well, that’s just not cool. He loves me completely, unconditionally, no matter what I look like.

I still get self-conscious—that’s not going to change overnight—but I’m working on seeing myself in God’s eyes instead. And trying to focus on things that matter and that last instead of whatever physical flaw I see in the mirror.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
– Psalm 139:14

You are a masterpiece created by God Himself. How can you focus inward instead of outward this week?