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A little reminder for myself. Because that’s what a blog is for. Right?

I just ran into my 8th grade English teacher.  I don’t specifically remember her class, but I do remember that English was consistently a favorite subject of mine throughout junior high/high school, so I’m sure I liked her. Anyway, when she asked me what I had been up to since leaving her classroom…I told her.

Side Note: I’m not sure if she meant like…a full description or just the Spark Notes. However, in the moment, I thought to myself this was the best response. 

Well, I went to Edison for high school. I transferred mainly for the MUN program, but my parents also wanted me to experience public school. I did ASB and Theater. Oh yes, and track and field. Ha. Briefly. But in high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist and write/report in Washington DC or something like that.

Then for college I ended up at Vanguard University (unintentionally) and studied Communication. During those 4 years I made great friends, was really involved on campus, starting leading worship and doing youth ministry at a really great church, and pretty much decided I wanted nothing to do with politics. I did, however, still love reading/writing so I thought I would probably do something in that field.

After an internship in LA, I went back to school and got my MA in Theology/Education at Talbot Theological Seminary. During that time I researched and wrote a lot on youth culture and why people my age are the way we are. I also worked at a church in the Communications department. Oh yes, still wanted to be a writer, too.

Now, I’m working at my Alma Mater, living in Seal Beach with a few great girls, and working toward getting into a PhD program for Communication Studies. I want to teach college students that words are a powerful thing and well…I guess I have you to thank for that. Since you were my English teacher and all.

She filled me in, she’s working in a school district and stays close with a bunch of people from the school she used to teach at. She’s here at this coffee shop every Thursday night because she has therapy. Bit of an over share – but I would say the same thing so I applaud her style. A friend was waiting for her (awkward…) so she said she had to leave. She walked out the door and waved through the glass. I could tell she was filling in her friend. Her very patient and kind friend (sorry!)

There were two things that stuck out about this particular conversation. Because, trust me, I did not write all that out just for the hell of it (or to impress you, for that matter).

One. I truly do have her and all the other English teachers and professors I’ve ever had to thank for who I am today. I know that being a teacher is excruciating work, but I bet knowing that there’s a girl that genuinely gets giddy at the thought of hours spent in the library or a used book shop scouring the shelves for new additions to her very quickly growing personal library makes my past English teachers smile…just a little bit right?

Two. In reading this blog back to myself, I can’t help but think… I’ve done some cool stuff. I don’t say this to brag…no, not even close. It’s important to remember this stuff because I almost exclusively dwell on the one or two things that I haven’t done or don’t have (read: spouse, bank account that doesn’t consistently make me feel like a child, the eating habits – and consequential figure – of someone not obsessed with bread, etc.) and I discount every amazing thing I’ve uniquely gotten a chance to do in my life. Each season of life is sweet in it’s own way – and I truly am #blessed (CRINGE – yes, I just said HASHTAG BLESSED!!!!!) to have been able to do so many things that I love and believe in over the course of my life.

So, I wrote this little blog because I need to remind myself that my accomplishments are cool. My story is exactly what it’s supposed to be. It’s mine. I need to quit comparing and remember that I am the luckiest girl in the world for being able to do so many things I love all the time.

“I’m so proud of you, Lauren.”

You know what? I’m proud of me too.

-L

1.19

Today is Martin Luther King day. 1. 19. Despite the color of my skin, I rarely take time on this day every year to really think about what we are celebrating. It’s more than a blank square on a white calendar, beckoning fun and vacation day plans. It’s a day – a collection of moments that people of ethnicities can be thankful for this pioneer of civil rights.

Was Dr. King perfect? No. But I think that a person’s moral failures ought not always discount the wonderful things they did in their lives. It’s all about grace, I think. So I’m thinking about it today. Race. Civil Rights. Sacrifice. Liberty.


I’ve never really experienced racism. I mean I am sure that people have thought racist things about me or ignored me because of my skin color (or the fact I’m a woman, or I’m heavy, or for a plethora of other things that make me “different”) but I can count on one finger how many times I’ve actually noticed it and had to live through it.

One time I was in a makeup store and there was a lady that followed me around the entire time. In my mind, at first, I thought she was just being helpful. But she never spoke to me. She never asked if there was something I needed help with. She just followed me. Every time I reached out for a product and my gaze shifted to her watchful eyes – she pretended to be doing something. Fiddling with the price tags or shuffling brushes around. Anything to make herself look busy.

It became kind of a game, if I’m honest. I stayed so much longer than I normally would have, perusing and thinking about how difficult it must be for her to continuously look like she was doing something other than follow me and keep an eye on me. When I finally got up to the register, the other woman working (there were only the two of them that day) was sharp. Short. I think she was the one who instigated it …

“Hey go keep an eye on that girl.”

I can’t really explain it except by saying that it felt wrong. I felt like I had done something wrong, and shouldn’t be in that place at that moment in time.

“Did you find everything ok?” “Good.”

She finished my transaction – $15 and some change since I really had only come in to buy face powder  – and bid me farewell. I swear the other lady kept eyes on me until I exited the building, you know, to make sure I didn’t do anything on the way out.

“Have a nice day.”

I walked to my car and just sat there for a while.

You know what would have made my day nice, lady? If you and your co-worker hadn’t treated me like a criminal. If you had paid attention to the other 10 women in the store, all of whom were doing the same exact thing as me and all of whom have the same propensity to steal as I do. That would have been a start. You know, to having a nice day.

I called my mom after a while and explained to her the situation. She was gracious, protective. She told me to call corporate and complain – because she’s awesome and supportive and wanted the girls to pay for what they had done.

Then, I cried. Maybe not on the phone with her, but on the way home.

I cried because I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed for myself and for the two women who let prejudice get the best of them. I cried because I was mad and sad and confused and hurt. I cried I just wanted some stupid face powder and I was treated like a thief. I cried the most though, because I knew that this was a blip, a single solitary act of racism in vast ocean of a myriad of kinds of racism – not only against my race – but against so many others.

Even now, these words feel petty. I have never really told people about this experience because it feels so silly. So what Lauren, you were followed around in a store. That’s like a -1 on the scale of traumatic experiences. When I think back to the days when Martin Luther King and others had to fight to even be allowed in a store, I am humbled. When I think about the fact that nearly every part of my life would be dramatically different (e.g. I wouldn’t be born, since I’m a product of an interracial marriage) had people like Dr. King not stood up for civil rights – anything that I go through seems magnificently trivial.

But I know better. Because civil rights issues are paradoxical in nature: all about comparison and not about comparison at all.


My friend Kristen and I saw a play the other night. It was called “The Whipping Man” and it was a post civil-war drama about a wounded Confederate soldier (Caleb) who returns home to find only two of his Jewish father’s now emancipated slaves (John and Simon). The story was beautiful and the play was mesmerizing (pardon the breaks in dialogue, I didn’t want to give any spoilers, and I also wanted to save you from reading a 2000 word blog post), but one part of dialogue stuck out to me.

CALEB: … Where were you? I’ve seen planation. Have you? I’ve seen slaves breaking their back in the fields. When have you ever broken a sweat? The only cotton you’ve ever touched is resting comfortably on your back right now … I know what war is. I lived it. What did you see? What did you live? I was starving to death at Petersburg and you were safe at home, reading novels. Yes, reading John. And you have my mother to thank for that. ”

JOHN: I taught myself how to read. Your mama taught me ABCDEFG and by the time she got to H your father put a stop to it.

CALEB: Because it was against the law.

JOHN: I wonder if that was the reason. Already before she started to teach me, I was asking questions. Like when was God going to set us free like he did the slaves in Egypt. Or whether Nat Turner was our new Moses. That’s when our lessons ended. But I kept reading. I poured over the books of the Torah. And I kept asking questions, if only to myself. You ever read Leviticus?

CALEB: You know I have.

JOHN: Then you’ll remember this: “Both thy bondman and they bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. They shall be you possession and ye shall take them for your children to inherit themselves. They shall be your bondmen forever. But over your brethren, the children of Israel: Ye. Shall. Not. Rule.” You remember reading that?

CALEB: Not enough to memorize it.

JOHN: It certainly got me thinking. Were we Jews or were we slaves? Were we the children of Israel or we just the heathen that were round you? Because we couldn’t be both, that was clear … it was never ours. It was given to us and it could be taken away with just some careful reading of Leviticus.

[ … ]

JOHN: This is not my family!

SIMON: Only family you know.

JOHN: Not by choice.

[ …]

SIMON: You know all the other slaves from round here. You know we had it a world better than they did.

[ … ]

SIMON: …But you and Caleb got to be like two peas in a pod. Didn’t see one where you wouldn’t soon see the other … like two peas in a pod.

JOHN: It wasn’t a friendship, Simon. Not when one friend owns the other. Orders him around. Sends him off for whippings.

SIMON: We ain’t talking about whippings.

JOHN: Why not? … Why is we were a family, did we get whipped like all the other slaves in town?

All slavery was slavery. It didn’t matter where the slave was on the plantation or a house slave. Someone owned them. Their lives were not their own. Fundamentally, all slaves were the same. I haven’t stopped thinking about this idea since I watched the play.

In the same way that all racism is racism. My tiny experience with two women who made a bad choice and the experiences that minorities have around the globe on a daily basis are all fundamentally the same. Fundamentally wrong.

And then I think, what a disservice it would be to Dr. King and all those who fought for my liberties to diminish my own experience with racism. To keep quiet and pretend like nothing happened. Because it did. I believe they wouldn’t want me to think that my feelings were any more trivial than the aches they felt on a daily basis. Because while it’s a comparison game: the rights of the majority versus the rights of the minority – it’s also not a comparison game: their pain versus my pain. Racism is a sick thing that makes a group of people kindred, but the pain of inequality is our pain. The ache for equality is our ache.

So today, as I reflect on all of this – I vulnerably admit the hurt lingering from that day and a few other days I’ve felt like less of a human being because of the color of my skin.

But I also boldly and with a heart full of gratitude embrace the rights that are now mine because of men and women like Dr. King. I can’t control what others think of what my skin color means, and I am a realist at heart – I understand things will never truly be the same for people of color (and really all minorities, if we think about it) but I can choose to celebrate the freedom I do have and never forget what it took to make that my truth.

-L

[excerpt of The Whipping Man courtesy of Matthew Lopez]
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The top 5 reasons why applying for a PhD program is the scariest thing ever.

It’s a Saturday morning of a three-day weekend and I am up researching more school. I’m such a nerd I can’t even handle it.

One of my goals for this quarter was to begin looking into what moving to Seattle would look like practically. As I began dreaming about it, I felt the stirring that I should not just be asking when I would move there, but what I would be doing if I were to go.

Since I want to teach college students, I have always known I would need to get my PhD. Since I only graduated last May and just landed a great job, it’s been off my radar for the time being. However, as I began to think about a move, I began to think about moving somewhere for what comes next – a PhD program.

It’s really surreal, thinking about getting a PhD at this point in my life. Some have told me I should wait and just enjoy the time I have as a single girl with little to no responsibility. While I agree, these are the years I should spend doing lots of fun things – I’ve known for years that I want to teach, and this is just something that is inevitable. Sure, I could wait a few more years, get 5+ years of work experience, etc. and then apply for programs later.

Or, I could get back in the game…now. I could apply for programs over the next year and see what happens. I could write Fall 2016 (so, still nearly two years away) on my calendar and plan towards that. I could start the process of getting my PhD.

That’s insane. Not in the “oh, look at me, I’m getting my PhD” kind of way, but rather in the “holy crap, can I do this?” kind of way. Because my brain works in lists, let’s look at the top 5 most terrifying things about applying for PhD programs.


1. Most likely, I will be moving away

If you know me, you know that I want to move out of CA at some point in my life. However, this has always been something I’ve dreamt about, but never acted upon. Moving is scary. The thought of leaving my friends and family is really hard. Although I know that I will end up regretting staying here my entire life, the thought of actually leaving is pretty nerve-wracking. Will I stay in touch with people? Will I hate where I end up and want to move back to CA? Am I cut out to live anywhere else?  And the more irrational and FOMO-tinged fears: All my friends are going to forget me, I just know it!

2. I mean…it’s a PhD program.

When I was getting my MA, there were periods of time when I didn’t have time to shower – let alone have a normal social life. “I will get back to you when this paper is over” was a pretty normal response to – oh, everything in life. The workload in this type of program is really, really time-consuming (duh), and I am curious how much of a normal life I’ll be able to have over the next…err …however long (If anyone has insight, I would greatly appreciate it!). I don’t know the specifics, but I do believe that my life will undergo some MAJOR priority reorganization that I am not prepared for.

3. Which brings me to my next point, this will take a long-ass time!

3.5 years of UG. 3 years of grad school. 4-5-6 years of a PhD program! I will have been in higher education for nearly a third of my life by the time I finish. I mean, I love school. But that’s a lot of school. That’s a really, really, really long time-commitment. Like I said, no better time to do it than now, but still. So. long.

4. This makes is stuff real. Like, real real. 

I’ve known for a long time I wanted to work with college students and I always had the inkling that I wanted to teach college students. My whole post-college plan has basically revolved around me becoming a professor. BUT, it’s been fairly hypothetical. With my BA I can really do anything (thank you, Communications degree!). With my MA, there are a few options, including full-time ministry (which obviously I have no interest in doing, but that was maybe a possibility at one point during the program). In my mind, this program seals the deal. You get PhD’s to teach (for the most part). I wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars and hours on something that I wasn’t going to pursue as a career. I would be solidifying my future – which I am super OK with. But it’s still pretty scary.

5. This will be the most rigorous application process I’ve ever been through. 

I pretty much knew I’d get into my top two schools after high school, and when I went in for my MA, there was a very slim chance that I’d be denied (thank you, private Christian schools).

But with this process – it is inevitable. I will get rejected. I will be told that my grades aren’t good enough or that my GRE wasn’t strong enough or that my personal portfolio doesn’t stand up against the other applicants. Fun fact: on average, nearly 200 people to most of the programs I want to get into. 4-6 get admitted. FOUR TO SIX. That’s terrifying.


But, as you can probably tell, I’m not letting those things stop me. I am embracing the terror and choosing to be positive. True, all of things are really big things and the main reason for this blog is to process them. So here’s what I am thinking…

The plan is to take the GRE on April 18th, and start the application process soon after that. Most schools have a December/January deadline, and most programs only admit students for the Autumn quarter/semester. So, I’d be looking at a Fall 2016 start time. I will have been working for nearly four years at that time, and would probably relocate and quit working outside of the academic world.

Oh, and I forgot to say what. I am looking into Communication Studies programs focusing on Interpersonal Relations/Media and Culture. Ask me about it. It’s what I love and there are some truly great programs for it!

I know, I know. This is getting detail-y and blah blah blah…but the point is that I am officially expanding one of my goals. Not just looking into moving to Seattle – but looking into PhD programs there (and a few other places as well). It’s highly terrifying, but simultaneously exhilarating, and I cannot wait to share the journey. Mainly via social media. Because, it’s me. What did you expect? #LaurenDoesPhD

-L

I am: Lauren Rebekah

I mentioned that one of my goals for 2015 was to create a “Personal Manifesto.”

According to the dictionary, manifesto means: “a public declaration of policy and aims…” It comes from the Latin “manifestus” meaning obvious and if it strikes your fancy picture a gorgeous Italian man saying “manifestare” because that’s what it is is Italian. Its synonyms are words like mission statement, platform, and pronouncement.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – I love these grand proclamations. And yes, this is going to be one of those, but more important. This is my manifesto. This is the public announcement I want to make about who I am as Lauren. Sure, I don’t know it all now and I most assuredly will change. But there are some things – fundamental things – that I know are true of me and will always be true of me. I don’t mention these things lightly. I sat with each of these. Collected evidence and reflected on whether or not I could truly say they define me.

Here she is. Here is the public declaration I am making about what is true of me (written in a wonderful coffee shop in Greenlake, Seattle, 1.4.15).

Preamble //

I don’t have to apologize for who I am. I love what I love. I get energy from what I get energy from. I feel the way I feel. I am who I am.

I don’t have to make excuses because I’m different. People will love me despite my flaws and quirks, and some might even love me because of them.

I don’t have to try and be all things to all people.The world needs me. Lauren. Not the false, self-constructed version of myself I think is what the world wants. Lauren. Pure, unfiltered, raw, authentic, Lauren.

I don’t have to invest in anything that makes me feel bad about myself. I am surrounded by love and that love will fight for me, just as I am. That’s what it’s about.

Proclamation//

Lauren is a: Talker. Fixer. Laugher. Thinker. Leader. Writer. Bookworm. Theater Nerd. Singer. “Kids Person.” Blunt. Hopeless Romantic disguised as a someone who “doesn’t really care about that stuff…” (occasional) Hot Head. Networker. Driven. Deep-Down Compassionate Soul. Enthusiastic and (Easily) Excitable Gal.  Loyal Friend. Letter-writer.

Lauren is: Loved. Valued. Known. Seen. Heard. Trusted. Respected.

Lauren is ________________.

These are things I am sure of. It’s soothing to release them into the world and make no apologies. Here Lauren is, everyone.

-L

 

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2015: Quarter 1 Goals

It’s freaking 2015.

Isn’t this the year that is famous because it was on Back to the Future as “the future” or something? To be honest, I feel like every year I see something pop up on Facebook stating THIS IS THE YEAR for that movie, so I’m confused.

But whatever – new year. Hello.

If you know me, you know I’m big into dreaming, resolution making, and the ever popular bold statement. Hell, last year I announced that I was giving up media for an entire year. That lasted for 3 months (which I think is a solid effort, if I do say so!) but was a flop after that. I’ve set a few other goals, like my 24 while 24 (notice I did NOT do a 25 while 25…with intention) and so on. I’m not great at following through when it comes to this stuff, and I recognize that. I wanted this year – 2015 – to be different.

My brilliant friends Krysta and Ruthi created this wonderful goal-setting tool that I’ve been using and telling literally everyone I come into contact with about. It’s broken into quarter systems – which is great for over-promisers/over-dreamers like myself. I’m not bound to the 12-month time frame, but there is a tangible end date in sight. I won’t explain it all because the girls do a GREAT job explaining it on their site. Please, PLEASE go check it out and grab their START tool. You won’t regret it.

All that to say, here are some of my goals for Q1 of 2015 (Jan-March). There are different categories, and while I didn’t set goals for a few of them, I did set some goals in a majority of the categories. Figured I’d go big this first quarter :)

Spiritual

1. In the midst of a season of dryness and confusion about where God is calling me in life/if I believe that he does that – all I can cling to is His word. Sadly, since graduating with my MA in Theology last May, I’ve found myself barely reading my Bible. There’s lots of feelings I have about that, but mostly I just feel dry. Thirsty. So one of my goals for this quarter is to read /study through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible, and I am earnestly seeking God’s voice in this text. I will be using an app that I was initially blehh about, but have discovered is pretty useful called She Reads Truth.

2. I need to find a spiritual director/mentor. In relation to all I said above, I need someone to process what I am walking through with me. I feel like I’ve been in my head a lot since finishing Seminary and leaving my job at the church I was at for nearly 8 years…so I would love to talk with someone about it.

Work

So, I have work goals, but they are super boring. I’ll let my boss deal with those ones and spare y’all the details.

Personal Development

1. Remember when I told you I was writing a book? Yeah, well the topic might have changed, but the desire is still there. I want to start dreaming about that again – as it’s been nearly a year since I’ve really written anything that I care about that could be book potential. I want to start writing for myself again. I have the time, I need to just. do. it. Creativity is something that I wrestle with, but I feel a new sensation since returning from Seattle a few days ago, and I want to work off that momentum. So expect a lot more blogs and a lot more promises of a book in the future :)

2. A la Shauna Niequist, I want to create a “Personal Manifesto” of sorts. I actually wrote one while I was in Seattle, so once I edit it and make it sound pretty, I’ll throw it up here. Look at that – I’ve already completed one of my goals, hooray! Basically, it’s just a list of things that are true about me. Always. Who I am. What I do. What I care about. The things that won’t ever change because they are so ingrained in my very being that they just simply make me, me.

Investment (what am I spending my time and talent doing?)

1. Beer and Hymns is a gathering of people that includes those two things: drinking beer together and singing hymns together. We’ve been doing it for about 6 months now, and I’ve just been asked to be a part of the “leadership team.” I will be spending significant time doing a few behind-the-scenes things and I want to really take ownership of them because I love Beer and Hymns and the community it’s created.

2. If you know me, you know I’m a theater geek. Through a random series of events last year, I got connected with an organization that puts on a few events each year called Broadway Knights. I am stepping onto the leadership team in a role that feels like it was tailor made for me! Combining my love of theater, administrative prowess, and general bossy-ness into one big responsibility. I want to spend significant time pouring into this organization because it’s my first step back into the theater world that I love so dearly.

Physical Well-Being

So I have a goal in this category. But it’s personal and I am not the kind of person to share massive “fitness goals” online – so I’ll go ahead and keep it private. But I mean, don’t we all want to not eat junk food and lose weight and run a marathon or something?

Financial

1. This is not my favorite category to dream about, which probably means it’s the most important. There’s no big story here – I simply want to pay off my credit card debt, and in order to do that I need to stop using credit cards. Period. It won’t be that hard, but it will take a refocusing and more attention spent to how and where I spend my money.

2. I also have a goal set of shopping less to “feel better” about stuff. I am a MAJOR retail-therapy gal, so when I’m stressed or sad or something in between…I typically hit South Coast Plaza or Target. I’ve decided I want to get my ass in the chair of a coffee shop and WRITE through these feelings or read or spend time with a friend or do LITERALLY anything else besides spend money on clothes I don’t need or other random items that I think will soothe my aching whatever. Retail therapy – a way of the past. 

Exploration

P.S. This category was a favorite of mine! Figures.

1. I was so excited to move to Seal Beach because it’s close to Long Beach and I was itching to be in a bigger, more eclectic city during this mid-twenties phase of life. If I’m honest, I have not taken advantage of this wonderful city at all! I want to explore more – head to new coffee shops, restaurants, parks, and local things that make Long Beach awesome. If you have suggestions, throw them my way. Better yet, let’s do something together!

2. This goal is secret because it’s a surprise :) But it’s awesome.

3. So, if you know me, you know I have a little crush on a city called Seattle. Ok, it’s a big crush. I recently took a trip there and it sealed the deal. I want to move there. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, but I have started to and want to continue thinking about what moving there would look like practicually. So far, it’s been “pie in the sky” “I love rain and grey and bookstores” feelings – but I’m much more practical than that. I need to start looking into potential and ACTUAL plans. PhD programs…jobs…what it would mean to settle down there…all the fun logistical things that ruin the dreamy dreams I can lose myself in. I’ve already got some pretty cool things in the works – but like I said – nothing happening for now. The goal here is just to begin thinking practically about moving to Seattle/Washington (because I fell in LOVE with Bellingham so I could consider that as well) and putting this goals on paper as a starting point.

 

See, that was fun right? What are your goals? If you need to talk through them with someone/have someone keep you accountable (read: text you at all times of the day asking how you’re doing with _____________ because that’s my style) let me know. I eat that stuff up and would love to hear what you’re dreaming toward this year.

-L

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Embrace your inner #HotLadyNerd

I was in Seattle recently. Of course, I had to document my trip (#laurendoesseattle in case you were wondering) on Instagram. I had a friend text me in response to my posts. They were mainly of bookstores, coffee shops, the vintage Broadway record collection I am building with purchases made in Seattle record shops (because they HAVE them…long live tangible forms of music!) and even a photo of my new – err, old – typewriter,

Anyway, my friend sent me a text that simply said:

Lauren. You are the biggest nerd I know. 

Now, in my formative, pre-pubescent years this comment might have dashed my fragile spirit. However, I took this as a huge compliment, and here’s why.

I am a huge nerd. Evidence below:

  • 9 times out of 10 I will choose the library over going out.
  • I have an obsessive disorder called: “Must know every piece of Broadway Trivia ever.” This stems from my past as a theater geek.
  • I never have less than 2 books and 2 journals in my purse at all times. I have a fear of being somewhere without anything to read or write with.
  • I get positively giddyat the thought of 3 solid hours in a coffee shop reading or writing or studying.
  • I have dreams (DREAMS, not nightmares) about going back to school. Even after 4 years of UG and 3 years of graduate school, the thought of papers and study sessions and scantrons makes me elated.
  • The number of bookstores that I visit over any other form of “entertainment” in a new city is really staggering. Like, I went to 6 during my trip to Seattle. SIX.

The list really could go on, but all that to say, my friend is right. I am a huge nerd. Over strong black coffee at a cute LA cafe, my lady friends Taryn and Amanda made the decision with me: we are huge nerds. After all, we had just finished viewing an exhibit of old typewriters owned by famous people…

We are all vastly different, but we all have one common factor: we cherish our intellect. It’s important to us. It’s important that we spend time cultivating it. In a world where women are told it’s not about what you know but what you look like – we say a resounding “HELL NO!” It doesn’t have to be books or Broadway or anything like that. Whatever it is – whatever makes you YOU – that’s worth investing in. Being cool is overrated. HIGHLY overrated.

We choose to believe that being an intellectual is hot. And we made a promise to each other that we wouldn’t forget that. In the midst of fashion and beauty and boys and culture and what Hollywood tells us a woman ought to be – we cling tightly to our inner nerdom. For us, that looks like keeping each other sharp. Going to exhibits, museums, libraries, lectures. Chatting about world issues in lieu of Bachelor drama. Starting a book club and reading together each month. That is how we can support each other’s nerdom.

As I got to thinking about it…I have a lot of super nerds for friends.

Disney Nerds. Theater Nerds. Science Nerds. Star Wars Nerds. Harry Potter Nerd. Music Nerds. Instagram Nerds. Bible Nerds. Tech Nerds.

The list goes on and I am a better person because I know each of these ladies.

A new hashtag (duh) that I am excited about. It’s a chance to celebrate geeking out over _______ with my gal pals and I know it will get it’s fair share of use this year.

#HotLadyNerds is here everyone. Use it (don’t abuse it) and celebrate all things nerdy with me this year :)

-L

[image via Pinterest]

Some of my world-famous blog processing and totally unsolicited advice to all my friends.

I posted a status about sending out Christmas cards this year, even though I don’t have the typical essentials for said card: a spouse, a cute family, a dog, etc. It was one of those heat of the moment status updates and I didn’t give it much thought at all before posting (which is a trend, and I should really be more careful.)

Over 100 of my friends liked it and lots commented on it. Now, this is not that significant, and I’m certainly not trying to brag about “likes” but it made me think about something interesting that I’ve been wrestling with over the last few months.

There’s those articles by Christian girls who talk about how they are fully content being single and how you must be fully content with where you’re at before you’re ready for marriage blah blah blah which I’ll admit – I can read for about 15 seconds before I give them a soooooolid eye-roll. I mean, I get it. There’s more to life than being married. Easy for others to say on the internet (I always think to myself that they are probably just writing it so that a guy will read it and want to marry them and they can go back and tell the story of…barf)

I get it. I am great without a spouse (like, in the general sense, not in a arrogant way, of course). I don’t need to be married to have a life. I ought to live life NOW and not wait for it to begin later.

It all makes sense in my head. It really does.

But, matters of the heart are a whole different story. Aren’t they?

There comes a moment or two each day – not the same time every day. But consistently. Maybe it happens to you too. I can be having a great day or a horrible day. Doesn’t matter. The realization always hits me. No one gets butterflies in their stomach when they think of me. No one listens to cheesy love songs on the radio and thinks of me as they belt it out in the car (wait…is that something only I do?). No one cares about getting a little text from me when I’ve woken up. No one falls asleep next to me grateful for that moment each and every night.

The list goes on. And no, I’m not trying to be masochistic or pessimistic. If anything, I’m just a hopeless romantic and I’m just being honest. Thinking about those things is really hard to process. If you’ve felt them, you know what I mean.

And I try. I try to understand it all. I really do. I spent years in spiritual direction trying to grasp my whole-ness as a woman on my own, but even on my best days, when I’m fully content with life and everything I am blessed to do and have – the ache is still there.

And I’ve come to realize that the ache is always going to be there. For now, a husband. Later, a child. Later, this. Later, that.

The cycle never ends.

Upon this realization (which I’m sure I’ve had before. On this blog. But I apparently don’t learn very quickly.) I got kind of mad at God.

Actually, like really mad. Because now it wasn’t only about me being single, but it was about the fact that we were all created with a longing for something that could never be satisfied. It was bigger than me – it was existential. Why would God do that? Why would he allow his people to suffer due to the urges he had created in them for love and children and success and joy. It didn’t and still doesn’t make sense. It seems cruel. The guilt and shame piles on. Am I not a good-enough person if I still want something else besides God in my life? Like, I love him and all, but at the end of the day I want to be satisfied by something of this WORLD (and stop, get your minds out of the gutter) and I can’t reconcile how that all fits together.

But alas. Where am I going with this whole rant? I assure you I’m not trying to be one of those girls who writes only complaints about being single on her blog…(H.A.) And to be honest, I sure as sh*t do not know the answers to any of the questions I asked about God. Maybe I never will. Maybe that’s the point.

The most impactful thing about the amount of “likes” on the post or the sweet comments was the fact that my friends were speaking out in support of me and my singleness. I often feel like conversations these days with married/other single people exclusively end on one of two notes:

  1. “I should try to set you up!” (or if they are single as well “We should set each other up!”)
  2. “Have you tried online dating?”

Can I just say that when that is the sole topic of conversation between myself and someone…I usually try to avoid them at all costs the next time. I don’t want to be fixed. I don’t want your advice. This questions essentially make me feel like all you see in me is someone who doesn’t have a significant other and needs to. I hate that.  And I don’t know many single people that don’t hate that. I still cling to the hope that my this age, even in my old-maidom (sarcasm) that there is MORE GOING ON IN THE WORLD TO TALK ABOUT THAN DATING. And no, it’s not like we never want to talk about it. Just not all the time. Every conversation.

What do I want, you ask? Jesus Lauren, you’re too needy. I give up.

Yep. I get it. It’s hard to navigate. But here is something I do know. We want to be affirmed. We want to be told that despite the psycho-christian,”ring by spring,” sub-culture we live in…we are fine. We are normal. We are worth pursuing. We are beautiful.

Sounds like a lot to ask for – yeah? But it’s not. Truly, it’s not. It’s just SO different than the rhetoric that our culture (especially Christian) spews out at us. So while it might be completely off your radar as a married person, or even someone in a dating relationship, a simple affirmation could mean the world.

Case and point: Someone sent me the sweetest text message about “appreciating my Facebook status” because she was nervous to send a card out because she thought people might judge her for being alone.

She needed a simple affirmation (however Facebook-esque and annoying) that her life was worth broadcasting. She needed to know she is worth celebrating this year – on her own.

Married friends. Affirm your single friends. Don’t try to set them up all the time (I mean, if they ask, great. But if they don’t STOP IT). Instead, make time for them, just as they are. Remind them that even though you’re married, they are worth your time. Remind them that your idea of fun still includes them – not just hanging out with other married couples. Don’t consistently remind them them that they are single. I remember I had a friend who got married and I literally think in her brain she thought “oh, now I’m better than Lauren!”  and EVERYTHING she did put that idea on display. Needless to say – we aren’t friends anymore. One of the things I cherish most with a few of my married friends is spending time with BOTH of them. I don’t feel like I’m encroaching on precious “married-people” time because they’ve communicated to me how much they value my friendship. Just as I am.

Single people. Let’s stop getting ourselves deeper and deeper into the cycle of sadness about being single. Let’s shift our conversations to what’s going on in the world, life, dreams, careers, etc. It’s not that I don’t want to be honest with my friends or avoid the subject of relationships – but I want to take seriously the fact that I am my own worst enemy most times. I bring up the topic of being single and then we drink wine and whine about it and it does no one any good. Keep me accountable. Strike up a conversation about Serial Podcast or NPR or the newest Hunger Games. Anything but “so…any boys?” or “are you online dating yet?” etc. Let’s not allow ourselves to get bogged down with pressure and false expectations and learn to celebrate ourselves and all the awesome stuff we have going on.

Together, we can do this.

(cheesiest ending ever. i’m aware. let’s move on.)

-L

Thankful.

It’s Thanksgiving and as a blogger, I am obligated to write about what I’m thankful for, yeah?

I hate to admit that I’ve been sitting here for nearly an hour trying to articulate what I am thankful for. Does that make me a horrible person?

It’s not that I am not thankful for tons of things, because I am.

It’s because I am a perfectionist and I want to talk about what I am thankful in the most poignant and beautiful and articulate way and I just don’t think I can do it. It’s not good enough. Right enough.

I’ve done the whole write and rewrite – write and rewrite – so many times now that it’s just sad. I think the girl sitting next to me thinks I am a horrible novelist or something that can’t get her shit together because I keep erasing everything I write almost immediately after I write it. She’s close, I mean minus the novelist thing. Also, she should mind her own business and not look at what I’m writing.

(she’s not looking. we’re all good)

Anyway, it’s really a conundrum we’ve got here. So instead of trying to hard or doing everything right, I’m just going to note the first things that come to my mind. I vow to write everything and not erase anything. Candid Lauren thoughts are terrifying, but they are also usually the most honest so let’s take a stab at it.

Ok. Starting.

-Taco Tuesday and Mexican food in general
-Disneyland
-Coffee Shops
-That I have freedom
-My close girl friends and our group texts (Shimmy Squad and LIVE + LAUGH + LOVE=BFF)
-My family
-My parents and the way they constantly support me no matter what
-Whiskey, specifically Jameson
-My singing voice
-My roommates
-College Park Casa – my first home
-Books and the fact that I can escape with a turn of a page
-When you meet other people that are “your” kind of people and it’s the best
-Pinterest
-Artists that make beautiful music because it’s important
-The fact that I love learning
-Love – not necessarily in my own life, but the way it’s made so many of my dearest friends the happiest people in the world
-My job
-I have people who will call me out even though I’m a living stampede of a person most times
-Oreo milkshakes
-Live theater and people that get the magic of it
-Impulsive decisions that lead to life-changing experiences
-That I can speak my mind freely about pretty much whatever I choose
-Red/ESTJ/CLAWS – I am who I am and I love that
-My thin place: Seattle, Washington
-Social Media and everything that makes it easier for me to stalk, er, get to know people

Please don’t read too much into the fact that Taco Tuesday came out before really important things like my family and friends and music. I’m just really hungry right now, but I assure you my priorities are straight.

Ish.

Think about what you’re thankful for today. It’s good for you.
-L

Sleigh Without Bells

“…and prepare the sleigh without bells.” (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe)

I think the enemy works with no pomp & circumstance. He just seizes the moment. Peter tells us:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) 

That’s the terrifying thing about him – that he seeks me out. He knows my weaknesses and he aims to push me deeper and deeper into believing those are what define me. But he does it quietly, subtly. Whispering instead of screaming.

That’s what this last year of my life has been. It’s been a season of frustration with church and frustration with community and frustration with relationships. He knows that. I lack discipline. I lack the foundation I’ve had for so long. Frankly, I’m an easy target – he didn’t even have to try that hard.

He knows that I am a cynic by nature – so he whispers:

“How do you know that’s true? How can you prove it? There are still SO many things that don’t add up.”

He know how deeply I desire a relationship – so he distracts me:

“Lower your standards. Morals, values, similar convictions…those aren’t important. Besides, you can’t be too picky at this point in your life.” 

He knows that lust and sexual impurity is something that continues to be a struggle for me – so he lies to me: 

“You aren’t hurting anyone. Everyone else thinks like this. It is normal. You should do what makes you happy. Your thoughts don’t make a difference.” 

All these things, and more. Constant lies. Constant whispers that aim to distract me from the life I’m called to live. And it’s more than a calling, it’s the life I want to live. But that’s exactly why the enemy has to be subtle. He knows that we won’t just give up something that we’re wired for right off the bat. It takes time to turn someone away from Christ. It takes distraction and exhaustion and confusion and doubt. The perfect recipe for the rejection of Christ.

I was close. That might sound dramatic. But it’s true. The past month, since I have known I am leaving my job at the church I work for, I’ve had the thought – what if I just stopped going? What if I just sought community in other places and figured everything else out on my own? Who needs the church? Who needs accountability?

I’ve even thought – once or twice – who needs Jesus?

For a girl who was raised in the church, who has loved Jesus from a young age and felt so secure in His love for nearly 20 years, this is a scary thing to think about. But I did. Because I am all of those things – distracted and exhausted and confused and full of doubt. And those things are not necessarily bad things when one is actively immersed in the pursuit of God. But you see, I’m not that. I’m not strong enough for this.

Instead of reading Scripture, breathing in the truth that will truly set me free – I’ve made excuses. No time. No energy. No passion.

Instead of fighting for the church instead of with it – I’ve given up. I’ve decided that my happiness and well-being is more important than the bride of Christ. I’ve deemed the plan of Christ to save the world (the church) “too much to handle” and started to walk away.

Instead of trusting God to provide relationships in His time – I’ve entertained thoughts, and more recently actual pursuits of people that simply don’t point me to Christ. I’ve justified it and said that God’s obviously not working in that department, so I gotta do what I gotta do.

You’d never know all this though. If there’s anything I am a master at, it’s wearing a mask. Playing the part comes naturally. But it doesn’t come without cost. Not without a rub. Last night I could barely worship for 5 minutes without feeling sick to my stomach. My facade finally took its toll. I was the Israelites. My worship, the phony and half-assed worship of a God who literally created the world and breathed life into me, was indeed a stench to Him.

So this, all this is the epiphany. But that’s not the hard part. It’s the changing that’s the hard part. It’s the settling in and fighting everyday to silence the whispers the enemy wants me to listen to. It’s the buckling down and doing the things that are hard because they are also, by no coincidence, the things that are best. It’s understanding that no matter how many lessons I continue to learn in this season of life (and trust me, I know it’s a lot. Practically every blog I write is an epiphany I have about God…which, in my opinion, is freaking amazing), it never is right to quit. It never is right to stop learning and growing and fighting. It always is right to keep going and seeking. Always.

Jesus, I am so in awe that you allow me to struggle through these things. I can’t imagine, watching your daughter, someone you’ve provided for and been faithful to her entire life start to turn her back on you. I can’t fathom what it must feel like to give me the freedom to choose when you know I will choose wrong. But you do. Because that’s how I learn. That’s how it sinks in. The closer I get to the cliff’s edge, the more I know I need you. It’s sad I had to get that close, but the important part now is that I don’t teeter near the edge, tip-toeing toeing around what would lead me into a full-fledged downward spiral. I don’t need to dwell in my disasters. I need to turn, walk away, and live the story you are writing for me. As cliche as that sounds.

This peace I’ve been looking for – I’ve found it. And Jesus’ peace isn’t soft or subtle. It’s blatant and booming, arriving on a sleigh with bells blaring. And it’s the best.

-L

Bits & Pieces 9.9

Well, considering the last time I did an update like this was a year ago (oops!) I figured it was time. Plus, a lot of cool stuff has happened in the last few weeks (well, and this last year, too.) Hopefully I’ll be a little bit more regular with these posts from now on…

Oh, and since the first three of these categories have to do with media related things…let’s talk about that. You see, on May 1, I did this whole big Media Fast announcement. I had every intention of following through with it, because I believed in what I was fighting for. I believed that it was important to monitor what I was allowing in my brain because it affected my soul. The thing is, it’s been a strange season. I find myself wondering often if I still believe those things. Or, maybe it’s not a question of if I believe them, but rather if I care about them. It’s a crazy journey and probably a story for another blog post, but I’ve been in a season of (as my church would say) “putting everything on the table.”

Why do I go to church? Why do I feel like I have to do certain things to earn the love of God? Why do I live one way on the outside but struggle immensely with having a lifestyle that matches on the inside – even after all these years of trying and “doing all the right things?” Why do I feel like God ignores me 90% of the time? Who am I apart from being on staff at a church and being a seminary student and being an overall “Christian girl?”

These are big questions. And I think they are OK questions for me to be asking. But like I said, different blog post.

[Edit: Here’s that “different” blog post]

The point of that whole tangent was to let you know that because I didn’t have the conviction about the reasons why I was doing the Media Fast in the first place, I decided I could be OK with not finishing. I did it for 3 months. Solid. But now, it’s done. So, normal life has commenced. I normally don’t like to admit failure, or that I quit something. But I kind of don’t care with this. Is that bad? You’re probably thinking, I knew she couldn’t do it to yourself, or Lauren is the queen of big gestures like that and not following through. Both of which are true. in this case. But the thing is…I don’t care. That’s lame, I know. But for once, I’m OK with that.

So, all that to say, I’ve been watching TV and reading books since the middle of August. And, scene.

Loving:

I just went to Medieval Times the other night and I am secretly obsessed with it. A – you get to eat with your hands. B – it’s basically a bunch of buff, long-haired men who battle each other. COME ON. C – you can yell and scream and talk in a British accent and it’s amazing. Let’s all go soon, ok?

Reading:

Currently, The Giver. Yes, I am pretty sure I read it in Junior High? But I forgot all about it, and I have this weird need to read the book before I see the movie (which I’m sure I will see eventually). Next up is the biography of Stephen Sondheim, which will satiate my little musical theater nerd heart.

Watching:

Not much, actually. I’ve been geeking out on old episodes of One Tree Hill just because I’m in a never-ending nostalgic state as of late, but nothing really new. Parenthood (last season!) and Nashville will both start up again, so I’m sure I’ll be into those.

WAIT! I was almost done with this blog before I realized I do have a new show I love. GRACELAND. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s pretty much a cop show that is mainly the same as all other cop shows, but it has Aaron Tveit in it which makes it a billion times better. If you have been in proximity to me in the last year so or, you’ve probably heard about crush on Aaron Tveit, who started out on Broadway and has the voice of a million tiny cherubs. SO yes, I watch this show purely because of Aaron Tveit, and that’s totally fine with me.

The internet agrees, by the way. Aaron is a king. 

Also, this. 

See, you love him now too!

Listening To:

Since breaking my fast, I basically just have been listening to all the stuff I missed. Of course I’m bumpin’ showtunes and country on a consistent basis these days…but other than that nothing to report.

Ok I lied, I have been listening to T-Swift’s new song on repeat. It’s just so. darn. catchy.

I will say that Damien Rice just announced he is putting out a new record in November and that totally gets me fired up.

Also, Copeland is making a comeback, so I obviously will be obsessed with that album.

I promise next time I will share actual things and not just the excitement I have for upcoming things.

Anticipating:

Well, here we go. So, I got a new job. At my alma mater – Vanguard University. It’s an amazing opportunity, and it happened so fast that I haven’t quite had time to really grasp it yet. I start in less than two weeks and I cannot wait. I will be working in the Alumni office, which is actually a place I could see myself for a long time. It is a beautiful combination of all my strengths, interests, and desire to be in the higher education world.

I truly believe this is the start of my real career, and while I’m thankful for the time I had at ROCKHARBOR, the more I think about it, the more I believe this is the right move.

I also am starting an acting class next Monday. It’s weird, I know. But I have been itching to get back into some form of theater/acting, and this was a perfect time. I’m sure I’ll have more to report once I’ve taken the class once, but I am just so excited for it!

Planning:

Prepare yourself: this is going to be stupid.

So, with my new job, comes new wardrobe obligations. What I mean is that no longer will I be free to wear whatever I fancy, which is my current situation. I will rock the business professional look all day, and that is going to take some serious planning. I’ve acquired a few outfits, but I am going to need to start building that collection…since I mainly just own graphic tees, flowy striped shirts, camo pants, and those weird flowy short things.

My best friend told me to watch the show Suits and go from there. Cheers to pant-suits and pencil skirts from now on!

#IRefuseToWearHeelsStill

Working On:

I’ve started working out again. Which is funny, because I took a “break” from working out pretty much since the last time I did this type of post…AKA a year. I put on a LOT of weight in my last semester of grad school and then I moved into a new house and started cooking all my food AKA eating out a lot and blah. I felt gross. I’ve been at it for a few weeks, and am even in a challenge with a co-worker. It’s been nice to have that little routine back, and I hope (HOPE) it will pay off in the long run.

-L