12 Changes in 2012

I first heard about “12 Changes” from a friend. She posted on her blog and twitter about how a bunch of bloggers are setting out to make several small changes throughout 2012 in order to achieve great change in their lives. It’s set up to focus on one small change every month, though I’m sure not everyone will choose to do it that way. I read more about “12 Changes” on Stephany’s blog, and learned that there will also be a web community created to encourage all of the participants.

In order to come up with my list of changes, I first thought about what goals I wanted to achieve in 2012. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Improve my spiritual life – spend more time reading the Bible, in prayer, and journaling
  • Get fit – improve overall strength (especially my core), endurance, and flexibility
  • Eat healthier
  • Sleep more
  • Have clearer skin
  • (Re)connect with friends
  • Simplify – my schedule, my possessions, my wardrobe, and my spending
  • Learn new things – make use of my horribly neglected guitar, ukulele, and violin
  • Engage my creativity more regularly – make music, sew, do graphic design, or take photographs just for fun

Here’s the list of 12 changes I came up with, though it may be subject to change. I divided them across the months, though I would ideally make all of these changes every month for the whole year. Focusing on one per month, though, makes it more likely that I will commit to these changes and follow through. (I hope.) I’m also hoping that the changes I make in the beginning of the year will continue on throughout the year as they become natural habits rather than conscious efforts.

  • January – read the Bible every day
  • February – practice Examen and journal once a week
  • March – be in bed by 11 PM every night
  • April – drink water every day and replace other fluids with water or green tea
  • May – eat fruits and vegetables every day
  • June – exercise for 30 minutes six days per week
  • July – go dairy free (I hear that helps clear the skin)
  • August – get together with a friend once a week
  • September – do something creative or new at least once a week (music, graphic design, photography, sewing, etc.)
  • October – spend only cash on unplanned expenses
  • November – keep one night a week free of plans and responsibilities
  • December – donate or consign clothes/belongings once a week
What goals and changes do you have in mind for 2012?

Living a Life of Passion

“…the only life worth living is one that you’re really passionate about.” – Glee

I’ve been thinking about this quote for quite some time as I contemplated career paths and debated between job offers. And through this thinking I have focused on one main question: what is my passion? Though I pursued a degree in graphic design, which is enjoyable work for me, I am hesitant to say that is my passion. Those who are passionate about art spend their free time making art, something I am not known to do. I think my passion is people. When relationships are integral parts of my responsibilities, I take great joy in my work. I would like to find myself back in Residence Life somewhere, where the job is about people.

One of the job offers I was considering was at an organization passionate about relieving poverty in Central PA. I would have loved to take that job and develop a personal passion for poverty relief. The people I met at the office were great, and it would have been a wonderful experience doing my year of service there. The second job offer is at a company where I would do more commercial work. However, the position granted the flexibility to return to Boston in the summer to do Residence Life. In the end, I accepted the second job. The decision wasn’t about which job I was more passionate about, but what job would allow me to do what I was truly passionate about, which is Residence Life.

A few days ago, I drew up a flow chart to figure out my options for the future (I’m a visually oriented fan of organization and planning). Right now I am preparing to start my 6-month to 1-year job/internship on October 19th. At the end of the internship, I have to decide if I like the company enough to stay there permanently, if the position is offered. Yes, I stay. No, I go to grad school for counseling/higher education/student affairs and work toward becoming a Residence Director. As you can see on the chart (click to enlarge the picture), I am now at Job A. One path will lead me to a career in graphic design. All the other paths lead me to grad school. Time will tell where I end up. I just have to focus on the immediate future and living a life that I am passionate about.

Seeking the Gray

When I take personality tests, I sit stumped. Everything I know about myself suddenly becomes gray, and I realize I would prefer to be black and white. As much as I would hate to be put into a box in any other situation, I answer each question wishing I could just fit neatly into one category or the other. I remember taking one particular test and getting the same results for all four possible outcomes. Others weighed heavily in one category or another while I floated smack dab in the middle of the spectrum. I wondered in frustration if I had answered the questions wrong somehow. Why am I so… undefinable? Do I have this multi-faceted personality because I become whatever people want me to be? Or am I really just the type who is a bit of everything and dwells in that fuzzy middle ground? The gray area.

All of this is to say, I don’t know how I feel about change. When personality tests ask questions about change, I really don’t know how to answer. I handle change well and like the way it breaks up boredom and monotony – but I am also a big fan of routine and organization. I am not afraid to get a drastic haircut (every two years over Christmas break at Hair Cuttery). I can purge piles of unworn clothes from my wardrobe (before arranging what’s left by color and order of most recent use, and placing my socks in the second drawer as always).

I am excited about possibly starting a new job and moving into a place of my own in a few weeks. At the same time, my parents’ casual comments about selling the house and moving to Florida in a few years leave me slightly unnerved. (Don’t get me wrong. My parents’ move to Florida will be a great thing, but having it as a common topic of conversation catches me off guard at times.) There is some kind of comfort in the constant – the two years between haircuts, the sock drawer, my parent’s house. It is the safety net that allows me to leap after change into the unknown. A world without constant contains nothing but change and feels dangerous. A world without change feels boring and monotonous. I need the constant in order to embrace change, and I need change to appreciate the constant. I need both, because I dwell in the gray.

Older

and wiser? I hope so.

22 years ago today, I needed a change of scenery. I decided that 9 months was long enough to hang out in the womb. It was time to do things a little bit more on my own for a change. You know, things like breathing with my lungs. So I made my way out of the womb, causing some pain along the way. Okay, a lot of pain, but meds probably helped. But the umbilical cord was cut, and I became a separate being.

22 years later, it’s the same story. Though I’m not so sure that leaving the womb will be so easy this time. Can babies second-guess if they’re ready to be born? Can they say, “You know, I think this is rather comfortable and would like to stay here for a bit longer. This whole nutrients-going-right-through-my-bellybutton thing is kinda cool”? But in either case, the baby has to be born. It’s like what my high school English teacher told us before we graduated: womb to tomb. Cradle to the grave. You will die if you refuse to be born.

Now I am not saying that living at home for the past two weeks is killing me. But there will come a time, yet to be determined, for this baby to be born.

So in the words of Alex Waardenburg, “Let’s make like a fetus and head out.”

One Week Out

Around this time last week, I was pulling into the driveway of my parents’ house after four years of calling Messiah College “home.” It feels like I’ve been here much longer than one week (maybe because I haven’t accomplished much?). Now I’m not so sure what it will be like waiting for June 21 to roll around. [Only] 4 weeks until I head up to Boston, and there’s only so much unpacking/moving back in/repacking that I can do. I have yet to fully settle in to my old room, though I feel okay calling this place “home” again. Right now, I have a small office set up in the corner of my bedroom, with a Messiah College sweatshirt blanket over my bed, and my old books on the shelf. And finding a temporary home on top of my dresser are a pair of my baby shoes, my old retainer, a ceramic Precious Moments jewelry box, and framed photos of my 2nd grade dance recital – things I can’t really get rid of but don’t know where to put (or in the case of some of those photos, hide). In the process of putting everything in its place, I unearthed some hidden treasures from the early days of college. I found a scrapbook of college memories, which I left unfinished after sophomore year but completed during The Price is Right one afternoon. It now sits on a bookshelf next to a scrapbook full of high school memorabilia and inside jokes that no longer make any sense. The most entertaining discovery was my Faith Journey Map and notebook from Created and Called for Community. It is safe to say that I have changed since my first year at Messiah. One part of the entertainment and humor of this discovery is getting a glimpse of my first-year mindset and world view. The other part is reading Brian Smith’s margin notes and comments.

For your reading pleasure:

There were no Christian fellowship groups in elementary school that could facilitate spiritual growth, nor was there persecution that forced me to be strong in my faith. I had slipped into complacency at a time when I did not even know what the word “complacency” meant.
Wow. In 4th grade I was too busy playing with G.I. Joe to worry about stuff like this!

Over time, I learned that my opposition to art education was because of my own pride and desire for a more prestigious career. It became clear that teaching art was both something that I enjoyed and that God desired for my life.
This sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself.

Yes, Brian. I was trying to convince myself.
And I did so until October of my junior year when I finally changed my major.

It was refreshing to have such strong Christians as good friends and to see Christian kindness and faith in perfect strangers. One afternoon the random comment of a fellow student challenged not so much my faith but the sincerity of my faith, encouraging me to be intentional about reading God’s word. I thanked him later for his words, and he, practically a complete stranger, replied with even more encouragement.
Some of my friends have heard this story, not in the context of Christian faith and encouragement, but in the context of how this stranger became a crush of mine. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Bible-reading guys.

Personally, I haven’t listened to much secular music. Why listen to secular radio when every other song is sub-Christian standards? Why not listen to music whose melodies and rhythms are the same as secular, but whose lyrics are glorifying God?
Oh, how much I would have missed out on had I continued to listen exclusively to contemporary Christian music…

What was it Brian Smith said? God would be a mule if He were an animal? Or something along the lines of being a hard worker incapable of reproducing… Now I can’t remember, except it was really funny.
Oh, boy…

“Messiah College. Or Bob Jones. You pick. The choice was a fairly easy one.” – probably a Brian Smith quote

Just because I like art and I’m good at it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my calling, does it? I like food and I’m good at eating, but I doubt God would call me to an eating ministry.
Now you’re thinking.

Good times.