On The Second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me

Monday, December 26, 2011

The First Day of Christmas (one day late)

Isaiah 9:2-7
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it with justice
and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

And so for the first day of Christmas, you get my one of my favorite Christmas Eve readings. Happy first day of Christmas!

One of my BIGGEST pet peeves- EVER.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Here's a small reminder for this holiday season. We are in Advent. Advent lasts through December 24, also known as Christmas Eve. December 25 is the FIRST day of Christmas (re: partridge in a pear tree). Christmas is 12 days. That means that it goes all the way through January 5. January 6 is Epiphany. That lasts until February 20 something or another. Basically, I deplore "Christmas" music that is played during Advent and hate that it doesn't start at Christmas and then continue for 12 days. Stupid consumerism. Christmas should not start before my birthday (re: still in Pentecost). Christmas is not here yet.

I'm sorry, but this gets me every year. Every year I refuse to listen to Christmas music on the radio UNTIL Christmas Eve as I'm driving to church. Then I let it sink in a bit. However, there is little that is more fun than celebrating the 12 days of Christmas whilst the retailers are not (re: post christmas sales). Still, seriously, look at the church calendar, also known as the liturgical year. I know retailers are all ho-ho-ho-let-me-sell-you-this-sweater and the music is catchy (re: Feliz Navidad- how many times has that one got stuck in your head yet?), but it's not Christmas. Not yet. Then they cut it short. And everyone is back to work and back to school before the holiday is even over.

One day, one year, I am going to celebrate all 12 days of Christmas. You know, what, I'll do it this year! (re: 2011) Why not? Sure, presents on the first. But let's take the time to remember (re: if you are of the Christian persuasion, if you are not, Jesus is a swell guy) that Christmas is 12 days. 12 days of "Merry Christmas" and then you get the funny looks like Hey-man-Christmas-is-over and you will say: NO! (re: still smile, you don't want them to think you're being belligerent on account of some leftover egg nog) It's Christmas day number... insert Christmas day here. AND I THOUGHT OF SOMETHING ELSE. We will celebrate it on this blog. It will be a surprise as to how we celebrate each day, but you will just have to check back every single day to see what surprise it might be!!!

It's going to be awesome. You've never been so excited for 12 whole days of Christmas. Even if you are back to school. Even if you are pencil pushing. Check this blog. Christmas just got even more mind-blowing. Jaw-dropping. (re: Jesus is still more awesome, and more of everything I just used to describe what this blog will be. Dude, this is just a blog. Jesus is... JESUS.) We will talk more about Jesus and God and we will do it within the parameters of the church calendar!

I'm talking about the general church lectionary, only the Catholics probably don't celebrate Reformation day like we Lutherans do... actually, that's probably a bit of a sore subject with the Papacy, which is a terrible shame considering Luther wrote a lot of great songs. Go to a church with a BIG HONKIN ORGAN and sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" and you'll wish you were there in the 16th century. Powerful stuff. Reformation day is great. (which was not an intended subject for this blog post) Annnnnyway. Advent now. Then Christmas. (then maybe I'll talk about reformation day. Also part of one of my favorite periods in HISTORY).

So, to sum up: no Christmas music in Advent, pet peeve, Christmas is 12 days not one, Lauren LOVES Reformation Day, Jesus is awesome, Christmas surprise teaser.

More quotes- because I'm tired and others are brilliant

Thursday, December 15, 2011

True love begins when nothing is looked for in return. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how... we guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. -Agnes de Mille

To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that's real power.- Ayn Rand

‎"God does not deny to anyone the grace of prayer, with which one obtains the help to overcome every concupiscence and every temptation. And I say, and repeat and will always repeat, for my entire life, that the whole of our salvation rests on prayer." 
-St. Alphonsus Liguori

Kindness is not an illusion and violence is not a rule. The true resting state of human affairs is not represented by a man hacking his neighbor into pieces with a machete. That is a sick aberration. No, the true state of affairs is life as it ought to be lived. –Paul Rusesabagina An Ordinary Man

Do not be angry or upset/dissapointed. It takes up a lot of energy that can be spent loving people. It is what you have to do, even when it hard...especially when it is hard. You are a great friend, I am proud of you, and I love you. -One of my best friends

We need to quit being so concerned about what others are doing to us and become more concerned with what they are doing to themselves by the way they are treating us. –Joyce Meyer

Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence and learning. -Fredrick W. Faber

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you say to someone else when you’re uncool. –(Phillip Seymour Hoffman) Almost Famous

Dwell in possibility. -Emily Dickinson

Have you ever tried planning a wedding...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In two and a half months? I don't recommend it. It takes a lot out of you. I've stayed in my room all day so I can have a "personal day." I should probably back up and explain why I'm getting married in 2 months. And no, it's not because I'm pregnant. I'm not! (silly people)

Okay so you know how my fiance Thomas is super awesome and very smart and such? Probably not, unless you actually know him. Well he is. He's in the nuke program in the US Navy and he's graduating Friday. He's #1 in his class. I know, whooooo yay hurrah, etc etc etc. He graduates Friday but finished around Thanksgiving- very fast. We thought that would be awesome of him because we wanted him to get staff pick-up (SPU) and stay in Charleston for another 2.5 years. Well, I didn't remember this one other group of people- the Engineering Laboratory Technicians (ELT). Apparently both the ELTs and SPUs wanted Thomas and the ELTs won. So Thomas goes to ELT school after Christmas. What does all of this gibberish mean? Thomas's only guarantee is that he'll be in the Charleston area through March. So it was either postpone planning it or setting a date, or be crazy insane and try and plan it in 3 months. Guess which option the insane people chose? Yeah. We're getting married February 11, 2012.

Cons to planning a wedding this fast: There's not a lot of time to do the things you want. Decisions have to be made super fast with very little down time. I have to skip over some details that I wish I had more time to do. Like make save-the-dates. A lot of things are strictly out of the realm of possibility to achieve.

Pros to planning a wedding this fast: We get married faster. In 2 months and one day, it will all be over. By having to make decisions faster, I can't agonize over them. Planning a wedding in the off-season makes availability greater and prices better. Things really seem to be falling into place. God has helped us out in some major ways- I'm finding great deals and things that take forever for some took once for me. I found a dress the first place I looked. The only problem is that my mom wasn't there. But she has since seen the $80 dress (no lie), and she loves it on me. I'm also sliding in under budget for so many things.

Except for food, good grief it is expensive to feed people.

I found my dress, my shoes are here, the church and reception area are booked, printed invites and the coolest RSVP cards ever yesterday. The wedding party is finalized, all the bridesmaids have their dresses. I have Thomas's ring. He has his suit, shirt, tie and he's getting new shoes soon. He's looked into the marriage license. The wedding website is done. I have about 2000 more things to do, but for today, I am trying to keep myself from becoming one of those brides. I'm going to go shower in a bit and then start addressing piles of invitations. I am fighting the urge to put up pictures as I do all of this. I want it to be fun for all as we go along, so only verbal updates here. Sorry!

I promise to try and post more often, but I am very busy with all of this!! Perhaps I'll put up more pictures of Scotland in the meantime. Hope you are all doing well. Much love!

Micah 4:1-5

Monday, November 28, 2011

A promise of peace

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,

and many nations shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines
and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.
(NRSV)

Thanksgiving List

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving was nice this year. Not that it isn't usually, but it was good. Other than my mom being really sick (sinus infection, bronchitis, not too major), it was nice. Haha, already said that. But really no major incidents. Just family stuff- the question of how to figure out if the turkey is done, who makes what, where everyone will sleep. All the same questions that are asked every year and we never figure them out. But it's a tradition and it's nice. I didn't want to take time out of the day to write this. I just wanted to be with my family and fiance. So I wrote some things down the night before. This is my "Thanksgiving List."

THINGS I AM THANKFUL FOR (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
1. My parents and their constant, unending, unwavering love, protection, and support. I only hope that one day I can be for my kids what they are to me.
2. Thomas. I found my best friend, my one true love. He makes me so happy and loves me more than anything. And he always shows it.
3. The rest of my family. They're so eclectic and loving. They always support me. I know if I ever needed anything, they would be there in a skinny minute.
4. My friends. They are always there when I need them and always happy to do so. I hope I always return the favor.
5. The internet. I know that sounds stupid, but the digital age allows me to use Skype to connect with far-flung friends, Facebook, and endless research on any topic I want. It's great.
6. This blog. I have connected with so many people. It's helped others, but it has really helped me. I've become braver and more honest with myself about how I feel. Expressing my sorrows and joys in such a frank manner has done wonders.
7. Finding out that I can write something with meaning. Kind of goes along with the blog, but I feel that my words have power. I have often felt like I didn't have words or the right way to say what I meant or what I needed. I know that I am developing that strength.
8. Books. They are enlightening. Classics, humor, and everything in between- they provide both challenges and relief.
9. I never thought I'd say this: my Bipolar Disorder. I see the world in a different light. Often harder and harsher, but I appreciate things more. It's made me who I am. I have found my true friends and realized the bonds of family. I have found the depths of love residing within people.
10. God. An interesting journey for sure, but a powerful and deep one. Part of His plans are becoming clearer, while others are still hazy. But I have faith. I have trust.

THINGS THAT ARE SLIGHTLY MORE FRIVOLOUS, BUT AM STILL THANKFUL FOR
1. Jeans. You can never have too many pairs.
2. My perfume that drives Thomas nuts.
3. Bath and Body Works triple moisture body cream. It comes in every scent. And yes, it's as magical and wonderful as the name.
4. Online companies that provide free shipping.
5. Pens, pencils, and paper.
6. Pintrest. It's addicting to be sure. But it's like an internet memory. I can keep things that I like on the internet in one place without having 600 bookmarks. And it's visual, a huge help for me.
7. The right jacket at the right time. I hate being unprepared.
8. Wedding magazines- endless inspiration and a large list of what I don't want my wedding to be like. Ever.
9. Crayons. Happy happy, joy joy.
10. Sweet tea. A miraculous beverage.
11. Warm blankets.
12. Febreeze. Makes it re-wearable when you can't launder.
13. Medication. From bipolar disorder to ibuprofen, they help some of us get day to day and others to get rid of that annoying headache.
14. Being able to watch tv shows online.
15. Art and design. Architecture. Making life more beautiful every day.
16. Sudoku and fill-in puzzles. Time passers that supposedly help your brain. I'm all for that!
17. Travel. So many places I want to see. It literally broadens your horizons.
18. Mail. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I love writing letters and getting letters. Awesome.
19. The dictionary and thesaurus.
20. "Bones." I love this show. The odd characters, sub plots, etc. Great stuff.

My favorite moments are times like these. When I'm awake and my loved ones are asleep and all feels right with the world.

I'm still here...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yep. I'm still here. It's November 19th and I am still in Clemson. I won't be back in Charleston for another week. Yes, the final medical withdraw paperwork was not completed Friday, so I am stuck in my empty apartment (my dad came and took most of the stuff back home). It's rather depressing. I am also running out of things to do. I really should try and enjoy this time that I have. I have a few days alone. I can't apply for jobs since I can't actually follow up on any of them, not being at home. I have no school work. I have nothing I have to be doing. I should enjoy this, right? Yes. I should. Except that I'm missing Thomas and my family and my friends. I just found an eyelash on my nose. Okay, I'm going to close my computer for the night, put on some music, take my medicine, and work on my quilt until I'm sleepy. Tomorrow I'll wake up and strive to do the things that I always say I don't have time for. I'll write someone a letter, sew, create a pattern for a new stuffed animal, read, do 20 sudoku puzzles in a row, balance my checkbook, make my wedding registry list, go for a long walk in brisk weather, straighten my hair, and color. That should keep me occupied for a while. As an aside, I have decided to do what so many people have been telling me to do for years: I'm going to write. Or at least, I'm going to look for a writing job. I'll keep going on the blog, obviously, but see if maybe someone needs an entry-level writer of some kind. If you know of anything or have any ideas, please email me at the blog's website or leave a comment. Also looking for ideas if I wanted to get something published, but I have no idea where I would go with that. Hence the begging for suggestions. If I wrote a book, what would you want to read?

Time to come clean

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not gonna lie, I've been avoiding you. Yes, you. All of you. I'm just going to say it and can you promise that when you're done reading it, you'll leave it at that? You probably won't, but at least give it some thought before you come rushing at me with comments/suggestions/advice. I'm leaving Clemson. There. I said it. It's been some time in the making, but that's my final decision. My room is mostly empty and I am waiting on the final paperwork for my medical withdraw to go through. The completely blank walls of my room, minus a to do list on a sheet of paper taped to the wall, are a stark concrete block reminder that by Thanksgiving, I'll not be living here. And I just killed all of the bugs. Just organized my dresser. But anyone who knows me or reads this regularly can attest that I am more than just a bit up and down. I am not leaving because of Clemson, or a lack of support here, or something else. I did all that I can do. Student Disability Services, counseling, one-on-one sessions with professors to make sure I got the material. But I can't predict when the Bipolar Disorder will rear its ugly head. I can put every precaution I can think of in place and it still doesn't change the fact that it happens. I think I really underestimated my support system in Charleston: doctor, therapist, family, sisters, Thomas, friends, the smell of the marsh... Okay maybe not the last one, but maybe so. I regret not being academically or mentally equipped to finish the semester with everything my parents put into tuition and all of their help. But I think if I didn't go crazy and apply and give it one helluva shot, I would still wonder. I did the best I could. That's all I can ask of myself. I tried.

I'm coming at all of this from a semi-rational state. I've had a lot of time to process this, both with my parents, with Thomas, with friends, and by myself. In one week I got engaged, turned 23, and then decided to leave school. And yes, there are plenty of terrible things about leaving school. Not feeling like I finished, tuition loss, returning home in a worse state than when I left, the shame of it all. Oh the shame. (Hence the request to not really talk about it.) But I spent a lot of time staring at the walls, dreading packing and leaving. I came to some conclusions. Yes, I will have to find a job. I hate job hunting. It's made worse by the fact that most listings are for people with degrees and experience- I have neither- kind of rubs salt in the wounds there. An income will be nice to have though. I might even get the chance to explore what I really want and enjoy doing. I'd love to do something that would give me a chance to write- who knows! Those chances are slim on Craigslist. But I'll find a "meantime" job. I get to plan a wedding from home. I get to try on my mom's wedding dress, see the church again, probably wish I want to elope instead at least 3 times before the actual wedding, and all that fun stuff. I get to see Thomas more than once or twice a month. Trust me, as soon as you've made the decision together to get married, you really don't want to spend any more time apart and the Navy is due to provide us with that soon. So I'm glad that I don't have to have a commuter marriage as I grew to talk about it. I get to marry him, move in, and then spend time in bliss, briefly interrupted when we find out those weird quirks about the other you can only find out about once you live together every single day. It's okay. I think we're pretty prepared. :) I get my support system- everyone- back to help out. I don't tell them enough, but their constant presence is usually enough to set me straight.

God and I are better. Really. Here's the conversation. G= God. L= Lauren. Just in case you can't figure that one out. It also takes place over years. Lots of time gaps.
G: "You have Bipolar Disorder!!"
L: "What the @*&%!! WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?"
G: *silence*
L: "No, seriously. Why?"
G: "Later. Try and figure it out now, I have things to do."
L: *perplexed* Enter in period of cycling between confusion, bad days, calm periods, more bad days, anger, frustration. Later- "Are you sure you can't figure it out for me? Please? I am feeling very alone. You are still there, aren't you?"
G: *more silence* But then gifts appear. Doctors who get it. Parents who do their best to understand. A therapist who gets me now and who I want to be. Friends who stay by my side, even in uncomfortable times. Plenty of learning experiences.
L: "Okay, that's nice that they all want to help out, but seriously, do I still have to have this?"
G: "Yes. Hold on. I'm working through you. But you need to work through you for a while now too. Don't try to accomplish everything at once. Get to a point where you can deal with this."
L: "I'm trying to deal with this, but you are making it difficult! Why do I have to have this? It SUCKS. Where are you sometimes? I need some person-to-God interaction."
G: "I am with you always. Just not always in the way you want me to be. But I'm here in the way you need me to be. Think about that for a while."
L: "Fair enough." **Enter in period of Scotland, Clemson.** "Okay, so I have to leave school again? What are you trying to teach me, making me go in and out of school all the time? Can't you give me a little heads up? Let me know so I stop face-planting."

ENTER IN THE REVELATIONS:
1. Bipolar Disorder may be characterized by cycles, but dealing with it in Therapy is not!!!! Oh my goodness, the years it took me to realize that!! It's also a painfully slow and often frustrating experience until you look at it in hindsight. For over three years, I have been in therapy with my therapist (sounds redundant, but want to re-iterate it's with the same person), and often it seems like we talk about the same stuff when things are good and the same things when things are bad. In this semester, you've heard me write about all kinds of things relating to my BPD and how I've dealt with it. The how I've dealt with it is the key factor here. First, for the first time I was able to actually say: wow. I'm going through something really bad (like a panic attack) and I should go talk to someone RIGHT NOW. And I followed through with that. Before, I would have never done something like that. I would have ignored it. I kept following up on it.
2. Just because you do something about it, to recognize it, doesn't mean it will change. This one is very important. I always came from the mentality that once you were able to recognize a problem, you could fix it. Isn't there some maxim like: half of the solution to a problem is identifying it? I think so. I have to accept that (for the moment) just being cognizant of its existence is progress enough. I often felt this semester that even though this was being touted as "progress" still left me feeling awkward because I can't fix a bad day. I don't know how yet. Leading me to:
3. I can change the course of my therapy. I know there are dozens of different styles of therapy. Television and experience have taught me that. There's a lot of merit in just having someone to talk to. A monologue for an hour might bring up things you hadn't lead your brain to think of before. Sometimes you need guiding therapy- with the right push and shove, you might actually go do something! Question and answer sessions can prod along times when you just feel stuck. I love all of these things because each have their place at the right time. There are also times where you need to bring up something to work on. Part of the issue I've been having is the difficulty of asking for help- not because I'm afraid anymore, but mostly because I don't know what to ask for. Now I do. I want to know how to change a bad day/period. I don't know if it's possible, but I want to try. No one knows better than me that some days you just can't do anything about it. But the medium to low lull periods when the apathy just settles like a heavy wool blanket- I want to get out of that.
4. God gave us free will for a reason. I know sometimes we're afraid, afraid that choosing our own course of action will set us up for sin or disaster. And I know it seems an odd thing to write about in a post where I started off announcing that I was leaving Clemson. But I might not have figured these things out if I hadn't have come. If I didn't have the gumption to leave for Scotland for three weeks and travel by myself, I wouldn't have felt empowered in a way I never had before. I did that purely out of choice. I chose to set that up and go. Sometimes we fail to look for opportunities and instead we think that if God means for them to be, he'll do the leg work and then, ta-da! A mission project or a job offer or something that slaps us in the face. I'm all for face-slapping opportunities, but seriously, you have free will. USE IT. Even if it is choosing school when you're unsure. Go for it. You will figure it out. You might even find your own Scotland on the way.

I felt God reeling me back in this last week. I've cried my eyes out over leaving this amazing school. But he also stroked my head and dried my tears and said, "look at all that awaits you instead!" I can try again in a few years, or a few decades. College will be there. But I get to spend the last bit of my "single" life with my family close by. I'm getting married. Then I get to live with my husband. Not having school as a factor isn't great, but it opens a lot of possibilities that I didn't think were available to me. I still have a long way to go. I'll be 70 and still figuring out how to live with Bipolar and how I can better listen to God. This blog's readership spans 6 continents and many countries. It's cathartic to me, but I hope it's also helpful to others. As God said (in the Bible, not in my head this time), ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’

I'm pretty weak, but he's got some serious power.

Someone else said it

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am very sorry that I have waited so long to post something. To say the least, my life has been busy. I will probably write a very long post tomorrow after I have continued to gather my thoughts. Until then I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes that I have continued to gather and might offer you a glimpse of what's been going on lately. I promise, more detail later.

Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it. -Jacques Prevert

Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be. -Anton Checkhov

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles. -Charlie Chaplin

When I went to school, they asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, I told them they didn't understand life. -John Lennon

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart. -Unknown

We can only learn to love by loving. -Iris Murdoch

Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Shirdi Sai Baba

The adventure of life is to learn.
The goal of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The secret of life is to dare.
The beauty of life is to give.
The joy of life is to love!
-William Ward

Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. -Robert Heinlein

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you've imagined. -Thoreau

She seemed to have had the ability to stand firmly on the rock of her past, while being completely and unregretfully in the present. -Madeline L'Engle

Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end. - Unknown

You'll never guess what happened!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm engaged! As of Friday, October 28, I am engaged. I was home for the weekend and Thomas and I went on a fancy date to a nice restaurant downtown and he proposed!! I now have a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring on my tiny finger. He tells the story of the proposal better so maybe I'll have him post it to the blog instead of me. I started crying halfway through and then it just became sort of surreal. He was very nervous though. It was very cute. The whole restaurant clapped and celebrated with us. Two people sent us champagne and the restaurant sent out this dessert that was just divine. It was the best day of my life.

It's been so hard not to share all of the stuff on this blog! Not telling about 2 weeks ago when he asked the parents, not telling about the bridesmaids dresses, not telling about everything we talked about- anything! It's been a crazy weekend of Thomas meeting my family and premarital counseling and so many busy busy things. I couldn't be more thrilled about this. We are so good for each other. He is so patient and kind and wonderful and a 100 more awesome qualities. I'm going to post a few pictures because any girl reading this will want to know what the ring looks like- hahaha!

This is our first picture as an engaged couple. The whole restaurant was clapping and a lady came over to take our picture- of course I was laughing and crying at the same time! Notice the watch tan.

It took a long time, but we finally managed to get a decent picture of my ring. A round diamond (beautiful, exquisite) with two pear-shapped sapphire side stones. He designed it and I couldn't have picked out anything more perfect.

My youngest sister Madison did a sort of impromptu photo shoot with Thomas and I on the porch and the rest of the pictures are from that. It probably gives you a great idea of who we are as a couple. We are so in love, but we like to goof off, have fun and we are each others best friends. I can't ask for anything more.










All in all, I am so happy to begin this next phase of my life with my best friend.

Honesty, total, brutal, and complete

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's 3:57 am. I should not be awake right now. I had a dream during a nap this afternoon where we were in inter-galactic warfare and someone appointed me as General and let's be honest, I don't want to have one of those freaky days where the dream continues. I woke up from the sheer stress of it. There were very large missiles and lots of smelly and unwashed men. I have no desire to return to that.

I had a topsy-turvy day and I am very stressed out. I keep flitting back and forth between pacing outside my house in the cold, sinking into the floor being depressed, writing letters, buying groceries, checking the mail- anything, just anything to keep me from going back to that depressed state I despise so much. Part of it is because I am kind of freaking out. And my life is turning into a list. I shall explain.

I am freaking out about college. I show up at my advisor's office, also my NT professor this semester, fully prepared with my schedule outlined down to the times of the class and exactly what I want to take. We start to talk because I've been fairly honest with him this semester about how things are going and what is going on. He wonders if I can do 16 hours next semester. I wonder that too. I don't know what I can accomplish anymore. I wonder if I'll ever be good at anything ever again. It's a depressing thought, but not that far off. What if this is how my life is going to be? What if I am stuck in a state of mediocrity because this is just "how it is"? Am I forced to reckon with this every day? Is that what it is? Wake up and my thoughts today are how am I going to live my life and accomplish what I want to do today while I also work on how to keep my Bipolar Disorder in check so I don't freak myself and everyone around me out? Seriously? Is that the way it's going to be?

IF SO, THAT TOTALLY BLOWS.

I don't want to live in a state of forced mediocrity. I want to do my work and get As. That's what I do. I get As. Until now. Now I just satisfy myself with passing. Passing. Scraping by. I'm going to spend the rest of my scraping. Depressing. What am I doing here at Clemson? Am I forcing myself to have a life I think I should have? I don't know that I'm doing this degree for myself anymore. I just don't feel like I belong anywhere. I'm not good enough for school, waitressing drives me nuts, but then what? What the hell am I doing? I'm wandering around, going through the motions, trying to help people when I can't even get through the day. I'm like a shell of my former self. Or a hologram- lifelike but not real.

And so my life turns into a list of things to do. Classes, assignments, grocery shopping (am I eating enough meat, did I get my veggies, must eat regular meals), driving home, getting a haircut, make sure Hannah meets Thomas, go to Madison's confirmation. I have to go to class, I have to complete assignments, I need to eat something, I must drive (but I hate it), must get my hair cut (for I am the definition of scraggly), Hannah should probably know the guy I'm in love with, and I want to celebrate Madison's confirmation. Why are the exciting things like chores? I want to celebrate. I want to have fun. Why can't I? Unfortunately for me and for my father, who thinks it's a little simpler than it is, I can't just change my feelings. No pulling myself up, even if I want to. My life is a list and I am a shell.

And my thoughts about God... I know that I wrote a week ago "Don't shut Him out." I'm not shutting him out. It's like we're both in a room, but I'm sitting in the corner and looking at Him out of the corner of my eye. I thought I trusted him, but now I'm viewing him the way I would a person I'm trying to keep an eye on. I'm not engaging him. No battle. No happiness. No praising. Just two people in an empty room, and I'm the one pretending to ignore him. It's an uncomfortable situation and I feel bad about it. Add that to the list.

I woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you'd gone,
Let the world spin madly on.
And everything that I'd said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you.
I just got lost
And slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on.
I've let the day go by.
I'd always say goodbye.
I watch the stars from my windowsill.
The whole world is moving,
and I'm standing still.
I woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here,
The day is gone.
I thought of you and where you'd gone
And the world spins madly on
And the world spins madly on
And the world spins madly on
and on and on and on
-"The World Spins Madly On" The Weepies

The more I listen to it, the more I feel it. Not that I wish I was dead, but sometimes I want to disappear. I guess I should go to bed, set my alarm to do assignments, pretend like I care, wish that parts of my life were different. I should change the name of this blog to something like "Really Depressing Thoughts, be prepared to end up feeling dejected when you're done reading this." My honesty isn't uplifting. What am I offering anyone?

My Aunt Tina

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Several years ago, my aunt Tina was diagnosed with ALS- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I'm copying a section of ALS from Wikipedia because it explains it more succinctly than I can, and sets the stage for why I am telling this. "Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of neurons located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input. The condition is often called Lou Gehrig's disease in North America, after the famous New York Yankees baseball player who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The disorder is characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, spasticity, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise. Sensory function generally is spared, as is autonomic, and oculomotor activity. ALS is a progressive, fatal, neurodegenerative disease with most affected patients dying of respiratory compromise and pneumonia after 2 to 3 years; although some perish within a year from the onset of symptoms, and occasional individuals have a more indolent course and survive for many years."

I don't want to talk about the way she lived after the diagnosis or how she died. It is one of the most painful things I or my family have ever seen. I hope you never ever have to deal with this. But the reason I am writing this is because I want to remember who she was before this was ever a part of her life. And this is who she was.

She was lovely. She had beautiful curly light red hair. She was my mother's much younger sister. She had the best laugh and I still remember her voice, even if the memories of exactly what she said have long since passed. She couldn't talk at all in the end. She was vivacious and lively. She has two boys who look so much like her. My mom told me this story that when they were growing up they (she, my Uncle Jay, and Aunt Tina) had a cat. They also had a staircase with a banister that overlooked the living room. The couch sat directly beneath it. They would throw this cat (or drop him) on the couch to check and see if it would always land on its feet. I'm laughing and crying imagining this event and the three of them participating. My aunt went to the University of South Carolina where she met her husband Tim. She was really smart. She had this enormous capacity for love that she always showed. For christmas and birthdays she would often give us Barnes and Noble gift certificates- like gold to me! She had handwriting exactly like my mom's- the most perfect cursive script you could imagine. I have this postcard she sent me from San Francisco- back when postcards cost 15 cents to mail. It's on my postcard wall and I pulled it down to write this: "Hello Lauren, I hope that you are feeling all better! That nasty, old cough and ear infection should leave you alone. Papa and I miss you very much. Say hi to your Mommy and Daddy for me. I love you! 'Come see you!' Love, Tina P.S. Can I hold the baby?" On the front she wrote "BP Car Wash- it won't hurt you!" I was terrified of car washes when I was little. Terrified. I love this postcard and though you may not know me, this is who she was. Loving enough to write a two year-old a postcard. It may have started my love for mail! Who knows. Imagine my mom (picture of her on a previous post) with longer curly hair, laughing with my mom over some random thing the two of them shared. My mom loved/loves her so much. The perfect sister relationship. Anyway, she was amazing. It may not have a lot of specifics and of course I wish she had not died so young. So young. But they say that once you put something on the internet, it lasts forever. So may this last forever.

May this also raise some awareness about ALS and other neurological diseases. Check it out on wikipedia or other websites and participate if you can in research, funding, and walks or runs to raise awareness. It's a worthy cause for something that isn't as well known and something so mystifying. 95% of cases have no known cause. 5% are due to a hereditary genetic factor. A lot of people don't know what it is, but check out this fact, also from Wikipedia: "ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected. One or two out of 100,000 people develop ALS each year." Just a little soap box thought.

If heaven has the internet, I hope you read this Aunt Tina and know that you are still loved, remembered, and thought of often, as you would wish to be thought of. You are one of the strongest people I ever knew. You were admired and revered by everyone who knew you and if I have half of your strength going through life, I'll be set. To everyone else reading this, remember your family, the people you love the most- alive or deceased, know that they are special and tell someone else (even on a blog to a bunch of people you don't know, or a few friends) how much you love them, and remember them in some way today. I love you Aunt Tina.

I love the weekend

Friday, October 21, 2011

Well, it's another weekend and another "game day" weekend. It is very exhausting to be a Clemson Tiger this season. Seriously, it's a bit intense when your town is over-run by eager fans and families ready to be a part of a seriously long winning streak. The cynical fan is becoming just a tad more hopeful. Not having Friday classes is a dream. It's like having two Saturdays in a row. And it's scarf season! I love scarves. I don't know how many I have, but once the weather gets chillier, then it's a scarf a day! I can't wait to wear my Scotland scarves! They are so gorgeous and really unique. But it's Solid Orange Friday so I've got my orange scarf on to go to Rock the 'John- to kickoff, excuse me, tip off, the basketball season. It should be fun. I have gone to lunch with an old high school friend and got a package all the way from Scotland! Then I spend tomorrow (hopefully quiet) catching up on some homework. Rather boring post, I suppose, but better something than nothing. I'll work on coming up with something more cerebral for the next post. Maybe I'll post some pictures from Rock the 'John tonight. :) Oh yeah, and capping off the day with a viewing of Footloose.

Don't shut Him out

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes it's hard intentionally coming up with things. I was writing a letter to a friend when I told her about something that I think works for everyone. So here it is (with a few additions at the end): We do trust in God. But with God, would you rather he hand everything to you? No. That's not a relationship. You wouldn't feel anything towards Him. But you and me- we get angry with Him, we celebrate Him, we laugh with Him when we look at giraffes, we get pissed with Him when the diagnosis is Bipolar, we rejoice with Him at Easter and Christmas. We have a life because of Him. It may not always be great, but it's REAL. And isn't that what you want from God? Honesty? Reality? I think so. I think He knows that too. So laugh and get pissed. Just don't shut him out. Once you shut him out, then there's no relationship. Not even a tense one. Life is full of things that make us happy, sad, dejected, elated, and enthralled. Sometimes, often times, it hurts to feel those things. But we push and we persevere. With God something is better than nothing. It may not be poetic, but it's true. After periods of time where it feels like you're looking at life through wax paper, then He shows you glass, then times where the window is open- and you're left to fly.

Life can't be that bad

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a Debbie Downer when I post all of these bipolar tirades. I know that it gets me more hits than any of my other posts, so I will try to do them more often- just balance the really crappy days with days where I can rationally deal with it. Strike a balance. But I was looking through my iPhoto (Mac person if you didn't know) and I realized that my life can't be that bad when I'm surrounded by awesome people, a great school that I have grown to love over the last few months, and the beauty of God's creation. I'm going to give you some pictures of my life and a brief glimpse into my visual world.

My postcard wall, in all its glory!

Me, when I'm happy.

Mom, Dad, and Me- past and current Clemson students!

The famous balloon release at a Clemson game! Orange, mixed with red, white, and blue for Military Appreciation Day

Me and some birds at the zoo- fun, until they started pulling out my red hair to make a nest.

Having a TON of fun feeding the goats!

Me and a bald Thomas- best guy in the world, bar none.

Crowd rushing the field after the AUBURN WIN!!

And yep, I was in that crowd- Chacos and pom pom on the edge of the end zone. TOUCHDOWN! for a Clemson student experience!

Showers are powerful things

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Anyone who is Bipolar or Depressed can attest to the fact that showers are magical things. It may not be a completely blanket statement, but to people who sometimes can't make it out of bed sometimes, a shower is a thing of power. It forces you to be alone with yourself. Not sleeping, not the internet, not eating or whatever it is we do to pretend we're not where we really are. You might see it as a few minutes out of your day to get ready for work or school or it may be a thing to wipe away the day. If it's the later, you might also know what I'm talking about.

First you have to strip and then look at yourself in the mirror. This is not pornographic, it is powerful. Okay, take me. I just took a shower. I see someone who has waited way too long since her last hair cut, but that it is a lovely shade of red. My left eye is bloodshot because I've stayed up too late. I have 2 red lines across my stomach where it shows that I've bent over a desk for 4 hours cramming for my math test, then 2 hours in my bed decompressing with a phone call and tv. My hips stick out. They do. I think it's funny looking. My face looks tired. I need to shave my legs. The mirror forces you to recon with who you are. Great hair, lumps, and all.

Then the shower. Hot water, alone with your thoughts and shampoo. All that's happened today- waking up, getting out of bed, lunch with a great friend, English class where I bombed a quiz on the Wife of Bath, Math Lab where I dealt with not being terribly sure of the exam I have tomorrow, a trip to McDonalds because I craved a cheeseburger and I wanted some of those monopoly pieces they have, talking with my little sis and Mom (if you're reading this- you didn't call me back like you promised!), studying for Math for hours, getting lost in episodes of "Felicity", then freaking out that I got lost stayed up too late, shedding a few tears, and realizing that I warded off a panic attack!

A mostly triumphal day, I realized. I did things that I wouldn't have dreamed of last week. I may have bombed a quiz, but I WENT TO CLASS AND TOOK IT ANYWAY. I STUDIED. I was alive- a participant in life, rather than a spectator of lives around me. I talked for over an hour to my friend Sarah (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). I talked to Thomas for a long time. I laughed, poked fun at him, and remembered that I'm head over heals for this guy, completely in love with him. He came to visit Clemson for the first time this weekend. He held me as I cried, he stayed up for hours on Sunday teaching me math that I've missed, he walked me to class on Monday as I was slightly terrified of re-entering the world, he made me laugh, we had tickle fights, and he always reminds me that I am beautiful, special, worthy of life and that I have something to offer. He may not know this, but I went back to school for me. Back to class. But I went there because of him.

Being Bipolar changes you. You look at people differently. You fear that they won't understand you. I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I have faith in humanity. Most people are innately good. I tell people when I have to, secretly afraid of rejection, but people don't. Not for the most part. They may not understand. That's okay. But they're willing to listen or willing to learn or willing to love or willing to have faith in you. It's hard to express gratitude.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. . . -Leo Buscaglia

Being Bipolar also makes you think about how you change. I have Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. A vague diagnosis. In the "mild", "moderate", or "severe" category, I'm a "moderate." Though somedays it feels like I'm leaning toward "severe." But there are two sides of me. The part that I am when the Bipolar Disorder rears it's ugly, nasty head and the part when it's not so apparent. Being Bipolar is confusing sometimes. When the former happens, logic flies out the window and whatever emotion turns on is ON. You can't change it. At that moment it is what it is. The brief and rare moments of clarity are sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrific. Wonderful when you can think your own thoughts. Horrific when you realize what you were when the Bipolar was there. Depressed beyond belief or moody or reclusive or even mean or afraid or scared of things that aren't scary to a non-Biploar person. But let me assure you in the most animated terms- when you are Bipolar the emotions you feel at that moment are as real as they get, IF NOT MORE SO. It's not something you snap out of. It is supremely real. That is life. You can change your thoughts afterwards, you can realize that they're crazy, but while you're in it (and it can last for weeks, months), that is it. That's the hardest to explain- no, not explain, to make people believe. It is so so so hard and frustrating.

I want to be honest. The past two days have been good. I have been happy. Not temporarily, but for hours at a time. And I hope it lasts. For a long time. Oh how I missed school- highlighting and taking notes and knowing an answer. I am such a geek. I love being a geek. I love my life. I hate being Bipolar, but that's just a thing. A big thing, but still just a thing. My life- the essence of me- the geekness, love of letters, overly sarcastic, passionate about love, bold when I have to be, my love of writing, the fact that I own too many pairs of jeans, crazy about religions, crazy about God- is the same. My friends and family and boyfriend and professors- the fabulous people who add color, substance, love, and meaning in my life- are still there for me. My life is awesome.

Thought for the day:
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's one of my favorites because it reminds me of the true substance of life: not things or actions, but gumption, heart, bravery, integrity, and soul. Have a good day.

Awake, and not so ready to greet the new day

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well it's 6:02 am and I am wide awake. Really, so awake I'm starting to get hungry. My brain just won't shut off. That's it, tomorrow I go to the health center and I am getting something to make me sleep. Something very strong. I had another sinking feeling tonight. Thoughts about what to do about it: burrow through my mattress and straight into the ground, live under my desk for a few days, refuse to acknowledge any life outside of my cinderblock walls, move to another country and now I want to switch my major to genetics to try and figure out what the hell is wrong with me. Dear brain, will you pretty please stop screwing up my life and just allow me to function like a normal person? Everyone close to me keeps saying that it's so much better that I've figured it out early, they're so glad I've told them, that I've caught it before it's too late. But what the hell? It's WORSE. It is SO MUCH WORSE knowing what is going on. Living hell. I see it, I recognize it and I can't do anything about it. You know what? I'd rather go on and be COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS to the mass that is swirling around in my brain. Then I wouldn't feel so crummy about not being able to do anything about it. I feel helpless. Good news: Thomas is coming up Thursday. Can't wait to see him again. He's a ray of sunshine in a dismal darkness. That sounded like bad poetry, but it's the gosh-honest truth. I love him. I dare this Bipolar thing to try and change that. Love indeed does conquer all. Bad news: It's 6:19 and I'm still awake. Off to hide under the covers until the need for sleep overpowers my hyperactive brain. Write later. -L

Dear Reader

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I promised I would write later this weekend, and now it's the end of the weekend- so here it goes. Things in my life don't seem to be getting any better. That's the honest truth. The bipolar thing is really starting to drain me. That and not being able to fall asleep until 4 (I'm really not exaggerating, that's the earliest I fall asleep) is killing me. I've also developed something very odd on my scalp. Sounds gross. It is. It's weird but writing seems to be the only way I can talk about this. The verbal thing was explained in the last post. I wonder if this ever helps anyone or if I'm just spilling my guts to people around the world and the 281 friends I have on facebook. Apparently someone is reading it because the number of hits I've gotten in the last week have been off the charts. And the response has been really interesting as well. I think that's what I'd like to talk about today. I'm getting calls from friends, emails, facebook messages, and texts with this flood of support. I don't know why but I always find it amazing when people start with "so I read your blog and I just wanted to check in with you." It honestly makes me smile every time. I really have the best friends. I just wanted you all to know that this tiny blog means a lot to me and even though it has the biggest audience of anything I do, it's where I feel uninhibited. Free to write whatever I want and be completely honest. I don't lie here. And though I think my comment count is a whopping 14 on all posts combined, the support that I get outside of it is amazing. Thank you everyone who has just said "I'm thinking about you" or "I'm here to talk if you want to." It means more to me than I can express right now. When I'm ready to talk to you personally or send you an email, I'll let you know. Until then, thanks for the support!

Speechless

Friday, September 23, 2011

I've been trying to think of something to write all week. I've been trying to think of how to explain this to my new counselor. I've been trying to think of how to explain this to my new friends at school who I have little to no history with. I can't come up with anything. All I have is a list of symptoms. No explanation as to why I have missed most of my classes this week, why I've cancelled appointments with friends and lost hope. I told God I hated him. Yes, I believe it was around three am one night in the past week and a half that I told the Holy Of Holies that I hated his stinkin' guts. That's going to bode REALLY well for me when I am waiting at the gates of heaven later on. I know there is punishment listed in the Bible for disbelief or unfaithfulness, but verbal abuse of God? I don't know. And if you do know- I DON'T want to know. Pretty sure it's not good. I don't feel like reading the Bible because I don't care. At the moment I refuse to believe that any good is coming from me feeling this terrible. I can't muster much other than being fake. I am very good at this. I used to be so good at it that I could fake myself out. Now, not so much. It's gotten old and I've gotten good at recognizing it. "It" being Bipolar Disorder. I can fake it pretty well. You can have no idea what's going on with me. Unless I tell you. Unless you poke some random nerve and I start to inexplicably cry. I am good at lying by omission. In the past that's been because I didn't want to admit to myself that anything was wrong, so telling anyone else would have shattered the illusion that I held. Now, it again is for selfish reasons. I don't want to explain. I have nothing to explain. Want my list of symptoms? Okay, here it goes. I can't go to class. I can't face large amounts of people. I can't fall asleep until 4, 5, or 6 in the morning. I hate talking about anything that resembles my life, so I prefer just to hear about other people's lives. I watch episodes of tv, so again, I can live someone else's life. I ignore anything that might make me feel worse than I do. I feel like crying, screaming sometimes. I don't look at people when I talk to them. I usually pick a point somewhere on the floor to the left of them and if I am forced to talk about "it" then that's where my gaze stays. I have no emotion in my eyes. Other than endless amounts of crying that leave them red and puffy, I simply don't care. I talk about "it" in a detached monotone voice like it's not even a part of me. I despise living this way. God, it's so pathetic. I feel like I have nothing to offer anyone. I lose track of eating, sleeping, bathing, brushing my teeth, things that most people do automatically. I can't write. Nothing makes sense- no two sentences can form a complete thought. Look at this. It's a paragraph made up of single thought sentences that only connect in a way to one thing- symptoms. Anyone can write a list. My academic brain is shot to hell. I can't spell. And I have no idea if this is in anyway connected but I almost fainted three times today, threw up once, and heaved several other times. Been fine for the last 8 hours or so. Can't explain it. And I look like crap. That's the final one. Could pick a stronger one, but that would be inappropriate. But probably no more so than telling God I hated him. Meh. Probably should sin less after that one. The title of this post is "Speechless" which may not seem so apt after this long list, but did I come any closer to explaining it. Nope. I still can't verbalize it. Hours on the phone, hours in counseling, hours going over it in my head and all I can come up with is that I hate being Bipolar. Awesome. Back at square one.

Wisdom from another because I just can't muster it myself

Monday, September 19, 2011

So I had a nervous breakdown/panic attack/bipolar episode last night and early this morning it was not pretty. I still don't feel well, but I won't be able to write about it until I process it. Until then, I must leave you with this. I'm trying to read it, trying to remember that I have to follow this. At the moment treading water is getting exhausting. I can offer nothing now other than the wisdom from another. I promise to write later this week.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Fight Tigers, fight Tigers, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Okay, so did you see that game between Clemson and Auburn?!?!?!? It was awesome. Beyond awesome. Other than my sunburnt nose and arms, that was the best game that I have ever been to. I actually like football. Did you ever think you would hear me say that? I didn't. I am talking about American football, by the way. Clemson won, 38-24 and played really well. I got to see my family and Benjamin and Hannah also came up with their new family- three Angora rabbits. They are adorable and little puff balls that are sooo soft. I also got a new GPS from my fabulous parents (my old one was less than accurate and... old).

Back in March I wrote a list of things I wanted to do. Let's see if any of those things have happened:
1. Finish my quilt. Well, that hasn't happened yet. However, it is sitting under my bed here at school and that's a start.
2. Compile a list of the majors offered at Clemson, USC, and the College of Charleston and slowly circle the ones that sound interesting and cross off the ones that in no way shape or form will I ever be interested in. Well, I got into Clemson and have decided on a major in Philosophy and Religious Studies with an emphasis in Global Politics/International Relations. And I'm quite happy with it. Check.
3. Write enough postcards to PostSecret to get them published. www.postsecret.com. It hasn't happened yet, but I am writing them.
4. Tell people that I love what I really think of them. Which is how awesome they are. Almost done with that one.
5. Clean out my computer. Check!
6. Listen to all of the music on my iTunes and throw out the junk and enjoy the things I forgot I had. Then make really fun mix cds and send them to all my friends. Check!
7. Read the entire Bible- every line. I have the time. We all have the time. Not yet. But I am working on it!
8. I will attempt to read "the classics" and try and understand why they're called classics. After all, Mark Twain said that "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read." I have read several. It's an ongoing thing, but a check never the less. Check.
9. Go to the grocery store. Yeah, definitely been there several times since March. Check.

So 5 out of 9 large things on my list have been done. That's pretty good for about 7 months. So I'm going to add another 5 things to replace those that I have done.

1. Give this semester all that I have. The last week has been particularly difficult and I've really been struggling with my Bipolar Disorder more than other times. But this time around, I am aware of the struggle. That makes it harder, but it also makes it safer. If I am aware and I'm letting my friends and family know, then I've got a fighting chance. I'm trying not to let my shame get in the way.
2. Make my bike up the hill to my house. It's a really really really steep Lance-Armstrong-Tour-de-France kind of a hill and I want to ride it up, not walk it up. It's a steep hill. You can feel the car shifting gears. Clemson is very hilly.
3. Do the extra credit and extra reading. I know I feel crazy for adding more work to my load, but if that means writing better papers and really learning the material, then why should I disregard that?
4. Remember to do one thing I enjoy every day. Take my own wisdom.
5. Be braver.

Remembering and Enduring

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Everyone has their own ideas about this day. I have mixed feelings. I won't argue with the insanity of that day. I was 12, in 7th grade, and in French class that morning when I saw my guidance counselor running down the halls at a full sprint, ducking in her head and asking which of the school's tv's had access to public television. When I saw our tv turn on and start to flip through the channels, and every picture look the same, I got that sinking feeling that something very terrible was happening. Why was that building billowing huge clouds of black smoke, like when you blow bubbles through a straw? The newscaster's voice just kept going on and the whole jist of it was that she didn't have any clue what was going on either. Something about a plane that ran into a building and they couldn't figure out why. Tons of speculation, nothing but silence in our classroom. What, what, what, WHAT IS THAT PLANE DOING? OH MY GOD IT'S FLYING INTO THE SECOND BUILDING THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE IT!!!!! Look, we lived in Charleston, SC, maybe 2 people in the class had ever been to New York City and certainly no one knew what the World Trade Towers were or their significance in life up until that point. And there aren't any buildings in downtown Charleston that are over 15 stories high. We didn't even move, we just sat there for hours, classes weren't changed, they just all turned on the tvs and huddled us into classrooms. I don't remember us talking through it. A few hours later someone thought about lunch, but I just remember all of us crammed into the classroom, watching tv about possible "terrorist attacks" in other places, worrying about other planes, wondering if we had any relatives who were traveling that day, if our parents knew yet, if life was going to change. I remember riding the bus home and going by the National Guard post that's in Mt. Pleasant. They had rolled out huge spirals of barbed wire around the whole building and men and women were standing guard with giant guns. And I was thinking- what are they doing? This building is smaller than a grocery store and of all the places to get hit in Charleston, why would they (whoever "they" are) go through the trouble to go here? Weren't they further north?

It was all anyone could talk about, they were all going madly out of control, things were on lockdown, "national security" was a buzzword, everyone thought they were going to be a target (oh especially the ports in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, N. Charleston), the bases (Navy, Air Force) were going insane, no one could find their relatives, the body count was a horrid phrase that had no meaning because they couldn't find everyone, people were scared of everything. People look back now and say "oh we came together as Americans" and they play those same 5 Americana country songs and a montage of footage to this music to make you cry. And I did cry. But not until September 12, 2001- where I spent the entire length of breakfast crying, inconsolably, into my Cheerios in the dark, for reasons that were far beyond what my intellect could gather and form into words.

And now I'm 22, sitting on my bed in Clemson, SC writing this to you as a Philosophy and Religion student. I could simply reference a date when trying to explain my choice of major and minor (Global Politics and International Studies). Anyone with half a brain could figure that out why, if that were my reason. My reasons are complex, but much of it has to do with how small people fit into a big picture. How we respond and adapt within large institutions like religion and political systems with events like September 11. Like how I watched in terror as President Bush announced his intentions to invade Iraq a year and a half later- 3 days before we were supposed to go on our 8th grade class trip to Washington, DC. I remember yelling "SERIOUSLY?!" And in my pacifist opinion (which I have now developed further than holding a grudge against the President of America for declaring war on the week of a class trip), I still think that blowing people up or invading them because they might have weapons probably isn't the safest of ideas when you're hoping that country doesn't decide to use them. So yeah, the reactions of many people who just seemed to want to find someone to fight because a terrorist organization did something horrendous, didn't seem reasonable to me. Or logical, if you want to get philosophical about it. It did seem a bit jumpy when former president G. W. Bush took Afghanistan to the mat on September 14, 2001 to go find those terrorists.

I think 9/11 was a horrible, horrible, horrible thing. But I don't feel that living the last 8 years of my life in a state of multiple wars or the last 10 in a state of fear of wars and additional terrorism is the way to live. But in the reaction of a group deciding that it's days work is going to be killing several thousand Americans on or over American soil, this is the world in which we live. And so my studies will ever be shaped through that day and the events that followed in its wake. Religion will never be the same because we still see one religion as the enemy. Philosophy will continue in its quest to make sense out of the life we lead and why we lead it that way. Global politics and international relations are still continually shaped by our thoughts and information about other countries and their citizens and how they relate to Americans.

In case you were wondering: The United States congress is the branch of government that has the authority to formally declare war because they are the group that governs the military's rules. The President of the United States has the ability to use force because he is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Congress hasn't issued a formal declaration of war since June 5, 1942 in which it declared war on Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. The reason the Iraq War is never formally called that is because it isn't technically a war. It's "Operation Iraqi Freedom", then renamed "Operation New Dawn." It is Congressionally-approved military force. That doesn't sound any better. In fact, it sounds worse that all of those people there and our own soldiers have died without the formality of war.

But now I get off my soapbox, go back to my math homework, work on my essay for my New Testament class, and deal with the fact that I also am dating a mechanical engineer in the Navy. We don't talk about war much. And for a minute I'll ask you to think of the repercussions of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago. For the rest of the day, keep thinking about those who died. Then tomorrow go back to living in the post 9/11 world- realize just how different your life is and how differently you think (for better or worse) about the world that surrounds you because of it.

22 Life Lessons

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One of my favorite blogs is Craft Nectar. I've probably mentioned it before, but one of the latest posts was 50 bits of wisdom (as the author just turned 50). And I thought I could do that! It's not my birthday, but surely I can think of 22 things I've learned in 22 years and 10 months. So here it goes:

1. Never underestimate the power of a good hug by someone you love. It instantly relaxes you to let you know that someone else will hold you close. Moms and Dads are really good at that. And almost anyone (stranger danger) will give you a good hug if you just ask.

2. Have a dance party when no one is watching. Let the boogie, the rap, the waltz out and find yourself completely uninhibited.

3. Once in your life you need to travel somewhere by yourself. There is nothing scarier if you've never done it before, but the thrill of doing something on your own gives you a rush that empowers you.

4. Make lots of best friends. Everyone has something unique to offer you- the person you know with the most wisdom, the friend who will just listen, the friend who picks up instantly where you left off without a moments hesitation no matter how long its been, the friend who shares your sense of humor, the friend who knows your craftiness, the friend you can talk to about anything. Near or far, never close yourself off to someone who has something to offer. The flipside is to offer something in return. You always have something to give. Even if it's just listening without judgement or giving hugs. You have something to offer someone.

5. Gore-Tex is worth every penny.

6. Have a hurricane box. (Or whatever natural disaster may befall you.) Something you can grab in an instant that cannot be replaced. Mine is a box of letters and postcards. I have one from my deceased aunt, a picture of me and my grandmother, letters from best friends and completely irreplaceable items.

7. Find something you like to read and read it. Jane Austen, Sports Illustrated, an atlas, the dictionary, mystery novels, something with lots of pictures- trust me, no matter what it is, your spelling will get better, you can always find something that interests you, and you may even learn something. (Hey, sometimes baseball stats are useful.)

8. Do one thing every day that you enjoy. It doesn't have to be the same thing. Take a nap, kiss your significant other with passion, eat 10 M&Ms, bake, take a long shower, doodle, watch your favorite tv show.

9. Loving everyone makes it so much easier to accept, not to judge, and to learn to take people as they are.

10. Pick a major you like in college and then minor in something you think will sell you on your resume. Or, if you are in a focused major like engineering, minor in something else you like that may seem completely random. Sure, go pre-med if that's what you love, but minor in English. You'll be happier and it stretches you in multiple directions.

11. Don't be afraid to do something you've never done before.

12. Find your correct bra size. Life is so much better.

13. Don't be afraid to open up about a disability or illness. I promise you that someone else has it and they want to talk about it too. You both become stronger. And by opening up, you can change the stigma you think other people have about you.

14. Go to Target for trendy clothes and always find quality clothes to keep for your staples (your preference: I love J.Crew, Gap, LL Bean, Patagonia, Banana Repubic- and I get no payment for saying that). Thrift stores are just fun.

15. Try something creative and if you like it, stick with it even if you don't think you're any good. If it makes you happy, who cares if your clay bowl turned out lopsided?

16. Keep a journal- even if it is just the important moments. I've had the same book for 4 years and it still isn't full, but I have some of my happiest and worst times and I am glad that I wrote them down.

17. Find a way to turn sucky things into good. Even if you get stuck with Bipolar Disorder- no good may come from it, but find some way you can use how it's impacted you to help yourself or someone else.

18. I believe that all religions and denominations are people searching for God- they just found a bunch of different ways to do it. And that passes no judgement on right and wrong.

19. Try and learn something you know nothing about.

20. Live in abundant joy and endless love.

21. Collect something, even if other people don't understand why: postcards, fabric, stamps, coins, pens, fancy papers, scarves, books, plants, stickers, or anything that moves you.

22. Genuinely greet someone, always say please, always say thank you. It's amazing how many doors open up for you and smiles you get.

Those are only 22 things. Feel free to comment and add your suggestions.

Oh and one more thing: Always buy the fun bandaids.

T-I-G-E-RRRRR-S

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Well, it's the last night in my own bed. I'm thinking of meeting my new roommate from India, making sure everything I own fits into 2 cars and a trailer (to be fair, that does include a couch, two chairs and everything else needed to fill an apartment- a little different than half of a dorm room), remembering everything I need to do once I get to Clemson, making new friends, catching up with old ones, trying to remember the Alma Mater, how to get there by avoiding the toll roads, missing Thomas and my family, and nerves about going back to school. A new school. With new everything. But I am happy. Really. Everyone insists that this is a great school and I will do well here and thrive. I believe them. So I'm sort of psyching myself up to have the energy to get through the next few days until classes start on Wednesday. I changed the look of the blog a bit (a few colors). But if you're reading that I guess you already know. Hey, it's late and I've been a bit scatterbrained today. I'm excited and anxious. I'm ready to go to church again every sunday, even with a new congregation. I've been so blessed with my life- even though a tiny part of me is still disappointed with YAGM, without them rejecting me, I wouldn't have been accepted to Clemson, I wouldn't have had the guts to keep a relationship going, I would never have taken a three week trip to Scotland- just for the heck of it. I've become even bolder, confident and grown up more. I am a happy 22 year-old with amazing prospects for life. Even my empty room signifies a life full of possibilities and potential. So, fittingly, I will end with the most important song for my next few years. Clemson's Alma Mater. And it used to be an all-boys military school, so that probably explains a lot. Either way- let's go Tigers!

Where the Blue Ridge yawns its greatness,
Where the Tigers play,
Here the sons of dear old Clemson
Reign supreme alway.

CHORUS
Dear old Clemson we will triumph,
And with all our might,
That the Tiger's roar may echo
O'er the mountain height.

We will dream of greater conquests
For our past is grand.
And her sons have fought and conquered
Every foreign land.

Where the mountains smile in grandeur
O'er the hill and dale,
Here the Tiger lair is nestling
Swept by storm and gale.

We are brothers strong in manhood,
For we work and strive.
And our Alma Mater reigneth
Ever in our lives.

And of course, a picture of me at Tiger Town Tavern:

1, 2, 3, 4, C-L-E-M-S-O-N

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Well, it's Wednesday at 12 am. I am leaving in (calculating in my head) 60 hours. Leaving on Friday and moving in "officially" on Saturday. But I think the thing I might be MORE excited about is that I get to see my sister Hannah on Friday!!! She and her boyfriend Benjamin have been in California since January. Benjamin lives in Clemson, so they're stopping for a week before heading back to Charleston where Hannah will be a junior at the College of Charleston. So I get to see her!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! My regularly disheveled room looks even more so now that I'm packing. Once again the question arises- what to take and what to leave? I have an apartment, but it is teeny tiny, so it's not like I'm going to have that much room to spread out. I have my own room, a flatmate from India who just arrived in the US today, and just a whole lot of excitement about the coming semester. I can't wait to just get the year started. It's going to be great!

Oh SING to the Lord a new song!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PSALM 98
O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm have gained him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the LORD,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.

End of summer playlist

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I started a list in the sidebar called "Playlist in YouTube videos" (duh). I found all of the songs on YouTube, so if you're not familiar with them, it links you right to the video. I got the official videos if the band had posted one, but some aren't. I have a funky taste in music and sometimes it sounds the same and sometimes it's just a weird random jumble of things I like or that sound appealing to me. These are the songs I can't seem to stop hitting play on, or the ones that are just permanently on repeat in my car. Hopefully there's something new for you that you like. 2 Bands to pay special attention to: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and Noah and the Whale. Enjoy!

"The Idea of Growing Old"- The Features
"Gone"- Ben Folds
"Breathless"- Better Than Ezra
"Sugarfoot"- Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
"Life, Love & Laughter"- Donavon Frankenreiter
"OK, It's Alright With Me"- Eric Hutchinson
"Pony (It's OK)- Erin McCarley
"Love"- Great Big Sea
"You & I"- Ingrid Michaelson
"Hold Me"- Jamie Grace and tobyMac
"Your Arms Around Me"- Jens Lekman
"Merry Happy"- Kate Nash
"L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N."- Noah and the Whale
"On The Radio"- Regina Spektor
"Lake Michigan"- Rogue Wave
"Sweet Darlin'"- She & Him
"Mama Said"- The Shirelles
"Kiss Me"- Sixpence None the Richer
"Leaving On the 5th"- Voxhaul Broadcast

The end of July

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whenever July ends, I always feel like summer is coming to an end. School - elementary school, middle school, high school, college - always started in August so you knew that in a few short weeks you'd hit the books again and life would be normal. School ended in June and started in August (at least in my county), so you'd have 2 and a half months, but that meant the rest of the time you were always in school. So counting down the days in August was easy. Date of school minus today's date equaled the amount of freedom you had left. So now I have my three weeks left of summer and to Clemson on the 19th! I can't believe everything that's happened in the past year- a year of stable meds, a job I was good at, the trip of a lifetime to Scotland, a year older, a few years of wisdom, more patience than I desired, and both bad luck and good blessings. So when a new school year starts, let us hope for the beginning of a new school to end my degree, a continuation of the great relationship I'm in, a better relationship with God, new experiences and a new way to utilize everything I've learned this past year. I'll drink to that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011- Camas

Thursday, July 28, 2011

-Slept in until the late morning in the "princess" bed in the Hobbit hole. Very comfortable and a tea room brunch with a pot of Earl Gray and a cheese sandwich.

Garden behind the tea room:

-Wandered around the Abbey, Nunnery, Island, and all of the shops and had a completely lovely late morning and afternoon.
The Abbey:


The graveyard by St. Oran's chapel. Supposedly Duncan and Macbeth are buried here...


The cloisters in the Abbey:


Hallway in the Cloisters. The stones on the wall are grave slabs that went on top of graves. Many of them were for the monks. When the abbey was undergoing renovations, some graves had to be moved, so the monks were re-buried and their slabs were put on the walls:


The ruins of the Nunnery:



-Took the ferry back to Fionnphort at 3, then walked the 4 miles back to Camas. Tired.


-Shower, snack with Faith and Rob, reading East of Eden until dinner. Beans, baked potatoes and that green and lemon tea I have come to like so much.
-By the way, unlike some people, I will never eat my baked beans on top of my baked potato. Partially because the UK version of baked beans are inferior (sorry) to the more delicious, tangy and sweet American counterpart. That's just fact.

I'm not really sure what he was trying to say here

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I am having a problem with this parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matt. 13. Say what, Jesus? Every now and then could you not be so concise? What does that even mean? Why is the person in someone else's field? What treasure could be buried there pre-1 A.D. that isn't, you know, like the clay shards that archaeologists find all the time? What was buried in Jerusalem at that time of any value? Why are we buying the kingdom? That seems to go against all kinds of teachings. He got the selling everything he has part and then all of the sudden we're left with a profit and then purchasing the field and that's not buying the kingdom? Where is Jesus getting this stuff? And then the best part, after he tells 6 parables in a row, "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." Great. All of the scribes of yore got it. And I'm left without a clue as to what my Savior was talking about. Any ideas?

Shattered illusions and delusions

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I can't believe it's Norway. Really? Norway?? They always seemed so nice. And now they have lunatics with bombs and guns. Well, now they think it's A luntic, a Norwegian who is doing bad things. The New York Times had a good article that kind of sums up the madness as of yesterday. The online link is http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/world/europe/23oslo.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=norway&st=cse&scp=2. I'll put it in the links sidebar since I still can't get it to link directly in the post. Gotta work on that. I still don't know too much about the attacks, but at least 80 people are dead between a bombing in Oslo and one at an island summer camp. Those poor Norwegians. I'm going to wait a while before unleashing my comments on the situation, but I just can't believe that it's happened. No one seems really safe anymore. Anyway, the whole country, and especially the families of those killed, are in my thoughts and prayers. Think about them too. Just picture it happening in your town- it's scary. No one deserves to die that way. That's horrid. And there's no way to end this on a positive note. Please, just pray for them too.

Monday, June 13, 2011- Camas

Thursday, July 21, 2011

List of things that happened that day (must have been in some sort of hurry)
-Breakfast followed by a reflection wherein Hamish led us in a spitting brushing of teeth- Camas style. You had to have been there to witness 15 people brush their teeth on the lawn and spew it out towards the ocean. Don't think I'll ever forget that.
-Wheelbarrow repair, the side business of Mull garages apparently. Pushed a very sad wheelbarrow named Fred, and then proceeded to sit around while Rob and Nat repaired bikes. I have no skill in building bikes. Or wheelbarrows.
-First shower since Iona on Friday. Not a popular pastime at Camas and you don't really notice until things get really bad when you're outdoors that much. Water only came in 15 second intervals, but was deliciously warm.
-Hike down the track to the road to catch the bus to Fionnphort to the ferry to Iona, bus was late, road maintenance caused bus to stop after .5 mile (that's what you get when you build a one lane road), so Natalie and I walked the rest of the way (2 Miles) got to the ferry before the bus did.
-[by the way, Nat and Natalie are the same person]
-Hung out at Margaret's, checked email, delicious dinner of fish and chips fresh from the pub
-Watched "Vicar of Dibley" with Sarah and Toben and loved it. [Since have found out you cannot get the "vicar of Dibley" in the states. Sad day.
-Bought Natalie new GoreTex trainers.
-Wandered around with Nat and then went to a lovely service in the abbey where I was blown away with Tom's playing and Margaret's singing and playing. She has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard.
-Awesome and hilarious jam session until 12 am with Margaret, Tom, and Natalie in the music loft in the abbey. So much fun and laughter and jumbling up words of Mumford and Sons songs, but very emphatic playing.
-Hot chocolate, then sleep in the hobbit hole.
 
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