January 30, 2013

I Will Not Despair.

I almost had a little meltdown this evening.
Almost.

Sometimes I just feel so flustered, so out of sync with the demands of this hybrid college-work-home lifestyle. These never-ending list of marching orders make my head spin and, before I even realize, my world is seemingly spiraling out of control and out of my grasp.

I just cannot get it all accomplished.

Then the demands of a teacher in the classroom... my chest begins to tighten as I think about expressing my fears of failure. Seriously. The list of desires for my future classroom runs quite long, and I don't even know how to teach.

But I will not despair.

There is more to my life than this moment of frustration and confusion, more than feelings of inadequacy and possible failure. I'm trying to remember the moments of beauty and enjoyment, the moments of blissful contentment and success, the moments that are so much more present.

"Take a deep breath, count to ten, and tackle each task one step at a time."
- Linda Shalaway
And that's just what I'll do, friends. That's just what I'll do.

I Used to Write.

It's true.
I used to write.

No, not superficial blog posts. Not academic papers. Poetry. LOTS of poetry. Literary sketches. An occasional short story. Feelings. Emotions. Life.

The pieces that I wrote were not good by any means. I wrote them in high school, during the ridiculous turmoil that is adolescence. They weren't good and were quite depressing, but boy did they have heart.

Kim and I had this connection that we shared with no one else. You see, Kim was the best friend that I never had. She just got me in a way that no other person could. We both wrote poetry, lots and lots of poetry, but we didn't just write it; we shared it with each other, encouraging the other person's works, praising her poetic genius. Kim was always so much better at writing poetry than I was, but she always held my creations in highest regard. The two of us knew each other because we had exposed the deepest, darkest parts of our souls to one another and accepted them for what they were. She would write and I would write and we would pass our creative babies back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Even after I moved away (that's another story for another time), we would email our poetry to one another. I remember one dark, upsetting night where Kim called me bawling her eyes out, sobbing so hard that I couldn't understand a word she said before she hung up out of the blue. I called all of our mutual friends, so anxious and worried and sick to my stomach for her because I had no idea what had happened and I was a million miles away. It turned out that her computer had crashed. That might not seem like a big deal, but that is where all of her poetry was stored - she was devastated because she had lost all of her poems, or she did until her father somehow restored her computer. The story is only important to tell because of one simple thing: it almost begins to express the importance of those creations in our lives. Poetry, was our way of dealing with the enormities of life, the thing in which we both were so desperately trying to find meaning.

A creative writing class during Senior year saved my life, and that is no exaggeration. Those notebooks are utterly filled with the epitome of my creative processes which reflected the deepest parts of me. The combination of words gradually became better over the course of the school year, the content less surface level as we dove deeper into finding our creative voices. Mrs. Stark, our teacher, pushed and pulled her angst-ridden students in her classroom to grow and learn and better ourselves through our writing, although we didn't know it at the time. That class saved me. Those creations saved me. She saved me. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to write more about that time, but today is not that day - flipping through those notebooks brings out so many emotions at once that I cannot begin to pick them apart quite yet. Yeah... nearly a decade later and those emotions are still quite raw. Those times were rough:

"I absolutely hated Oklahoma and I hated my high school as well. But my creative writing class pushed me. It kept me going to school each day. I literally woke up every single morning dreading the day ahead, but the desire to be in that class gave me a purpose for that day.

I know that it sounds so silly and trivial, but that class gave me the ability to express myself, and a place where I would not be judged for my thoughts and feelings. A place where I was encouraged, where I was told that I was actually good at something. A safe place. It was FREEDOM. The ability to be myself. The ability to breathe in a world where I felt suffocated."


Time passes. Priorities shift. People change.

I no longer write.

A little over two years ago, late at night while my husband of 10 months slept in our bed, I took out a composition notebook and began writing again and actually wrote a post about it (here), from which the above quotation originally appeared.  I wrote three poems. Three. THREE. Crappy, cruddy, muddy, ugly poems. Shorter than anything I had ever written before and so distant from the emotion that I wanted to convey, I loathed them after a day or two. They were so awful that I shut up the notebook along with my frustrated tears and haven't written in it since.

Every once in a while, the urge to write comes along again. I pull out my Creative Writing notebooks and read the things that I wrote, remembering how much I adored creating those pieces of art with my words. The desire is still there, but the drive is not. Maybe the reason that I no longer write creatively is due to that same fear and disgust that made me shut up the composition notebook two years ago, or maybe it's because I don't feel that I have anything to write about.

The fact of the matter remains:
I no longer write.
It saddens me, too, because creativity is always how I have expressed myself. Even with this bitty little blog, I've shut myself and my emotions away when life gets too busy or too emotionally difficult to process. My creativity has been reduced to sometimes writing a blog post, designing and making jewelry, and taking photographs via iPhone which are all nice things but cease to fill the void in my creative-loving heart.

I want to fill the void.
But I don't know how to start.

January 29, 2013

Take A Moment; Call It Yours.

Oh, how I love days like this. The sky is a perfect shade of chalky gray. The temperature is just cool enough to make you go back inside to grab that favorite cozy sweatshirt. The air feels crisp and clean and inviting. The sparse leaves shiver in their places on branches and occasionally tumble across your feet as you walk. The bare limbs seem to whisper to each other in the breeze.

Others might view this sort of weather as gloomy and depressing; some may think the skies are harking of oppression and suffocation.

I do not agree.

It is on days like this in which I get giddy in taking pleasure in the small, quiet moments of the day. It is on days like this when I seem to breathe a little bit deeper, close my eyes a little bit longer, enjoy the moment a little bit more than I normally would.

A day like this does not call for the normal rat-race approach that life so often mandates. It begs that we take it slow. Sigh deeper, dream longer, enjoy more.

I'm embracing those chalky gray skies today, and I invite you to do the same. Wherever you are, take a moment. Call it yours. Own everything in it. Relish in the delight of your setting, for there is something precious to cherish.



January 23, 2013

Cookie Dough... Raw & In Bed

I am currently eating homemade (from scratch) chocolate chip cookie dough. Raw. In my bed. With my husband. While watching the OKC Thunder game.

I deserve this.

These past couple of days have been crazy. I worked worked worked all the live-long day on Monday, went to school and then work on Tuesday, read a book ("Of Mice and Men"... which should be italicized but that is not an option on my phone) and wrote two short papers that were turned in today.

Last night was rough. I almost had a mini emotional breakdown. I cried out to Patrick in despair, "HOW am I already BEHIND in school and I'm not even halfway through the second week?!?" Waaaaah!

I did it. I read the book. I wrote the papers. I worked and worked and worked. I survived, with a bit of support and encouragement from my favorite redhead.

So you know what? I don't care that it is 11:00 at night. I don't care that my belly is getting a bit pudgy due to my lack of exercise and proper nutrition. I don't care that I'm eating in bed (a forbidden act around here).

I'm enjoying the spoils from the internal scholarly war that has been the past 72 hours.

So eat that.
And some raw homemade (from scratch) chocolate chip cookie dough.
Booyah.

January 11, 2013

An Outrageous Sunrise and Simple Pleasures

God, thank you for simple pleasures.

As I peeked through the blinds of my back door this morning, you would have thought that I had seen something outrageous; actually, I did, but it was outrageously beautiful. The sunrise peeking over the trees, power lines, and a church two doors down was something that words cannot describe.

You see, I have a lot to do today. I'm sure that they either won't all get done OR I won't go to sleep at a nice hour, but that's not what I'm worried about today. In fact, I'm not worried at all today. I didn't even want to get out of bed, but my husband and my to-do list pulled me up and out of it. My coffee was already made, but I fell asleep in my makeup last night (oopsies) and that, as silly as it was, had me feeling a bit icky. Instead of moping around, God shocked me out of my funk with brilliant colors in my quite unappealing backyard, if you can call it that.

I literally GASPED when I saw the sunrise out my back door. I snatched my keys and ran up to the front porch to see if I could get a better look. When that was less than satisfying, I ran to the bedroom, stole my husband's slippers, grabbed my license, and ran to the car - pink pajama pants, robe, slippers, leftover makeup and all.

I chased the sunrise through the city streets. I snapped a few shots when the houses cleared enough space to see the sky. I went back home as the brilliant sky began to fade away. I walked back into the house, saddened by the fact that it was over and was greeted by the beautiful smell of my coffee-filled kitchen. I sighed a sigh of satisfaction.

The pictures, of course, do not do it justice, but they will have to do.


 



He's filling up my cup with simple pleasures today. THAT is why I'm not worried about today. It's a day for enjoyment, not stress or rushing around or anxiety or anything of the sort. Today, my friends, is all about the simple pleasures. Enjoy.

January 2, 2013

A Clean Slate

Ahhhh... the refreshing feeling of a clean slate, a new start, a brand spankin' new year. Anyone that enjoys/suffers from a Type A personality can surely identify with me on this: 2013 means my shoulders are no longer heavy with the burdens of last year. I'm all for a new beginning, for the feeling that anything can be accomplished.

I'm not one to get all hyped-up about New Year's Resolutions... after all, hardly anyone keeps up with those, so they're just a prescription for a feeling of failure and inadequacy in my book. However, that doesn't mean that I don't set goals and such when the new calendar year rolls around! I'm not sure that I set any real goals for last year, but my goals two years ago were to cook at home more, eat healthier, and spend money more wisely in the grocery department... which, subsequently, carried over into last year because it was indeed a true lifestyle change! Those goals are going to continue to be on my list for this year, as there is always room for improvement.

2013 is going to be a BIG year for the two of us Womacks, at least financially. Patrick is getting in the groove of working full time with several part time jobs, which is actually really difficult to do (ah, the life of a musician). I bring in very little money being a full time student and all, but I'm SO excited to say that we will be paying off my SECOND car within the first quarter of the year! That alone will help us in so many ways, but we're also going to be paying off both of our (very small) credit card debts this year as well. Hallelujah!

The most difficult goal on my list is the fact that I need to be better at meal planning and cooking at home. We cook at home a majority of the time, but it never fails that halfway through the semester, when things start getting really hectic and busy, I fall behind on the grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking in advance. We end up making multiple small trips to the store and really have no meals to eat off of during the week. One of our more specific goals that we have is that of a weekly budget for food and toiletries. It's not so small of an amount that it will take all of my time and effort, but it's a bit less than we're used to, causing me/us to really think and plan (hopefully) when it comes to grocery shopping. We're also setting that money aside in cash in a designated envelope to help us stick to it at the store - we can't go over our amount if we're only paying with cash. Hopefully, with the help of family, friends, cookbooks, and Pinterest (haha), I can make this happen!

Yay for meal planning and financial budgeting!

Maybe I will post more on here about my progress in that realm - meal planning on a budget! It might be a bit therapeutic as well as encouraging to look at what I've been able to accomplish.

2013 is starting out better already. Can I get an Amen?! ;)

January 1, 2013

Goodbye, 2012. I won't miss you.

This year has been a rough one. While I know that everything has happened because the Lord prescribed it that way, it has been full of all sorts of highs and lows.

2012 revealed many bright stars: My sweet Livy birthed her precious Ellie Joy into this world. My husband graduated from grad school with his masters degree and high honors, as well as an awesome thesis paper. My sweet sister Anna turned 13, and my seester Cara graduated high school, turned 18, and went off to college (officially starting in the new year). I had a couple of movie dates with my ever so busy momma ("One for the Money" and "Rock of Ages"). I rang in the big 2-5 with my family and a glorious Thunder game against the Spurs. I had the chance to take two incredible trips to Colorado and didn't have to pay for either one. I've spent some sweet times with my precious Youth girls and shared many hugs, laughs, prayers and tears with them. I've continued my education, which has given me the blessing of growing close to several special people and I am one year closer to graduating. Patrick and I celebrated 3 years of marriage and 7 years of togetherness on 12/12/12 and I'm still so blessed to call him mine.

2012 also brought many long, dark nights: The year began with my Grandmom going back into the hospital and took her away from us all. It brought the most difficult semester of my life - academically, emotionally, physically, spiritually. I lost my first grandparent and am continually worrying about the health and well-being of my other three, as well as worrying about my own parents. I said goodbye to far too many dear friends and family that moved so very far away and continued missing those who left long ago. I experienced watching my mother in law go through her journey of discovering cancer, removing it, recovering from surgery, and the trials of chemo. I watched my mother and stepmother lose their mothers and deal with the pain and grief that comes with such a loss. And as trivial as this is, the last pain of the year came on New Year's Eve with a silly, large paper cut on my middle finger.

Goodbye, 2012. I'm not sad to see you go.

Here's to 2013. I'm ready to embrace the glories, blessings, and even trials from the Lord with full force.