Hunger

Everyone has a hunger, a gnawing need deep inside… sometimes for love, for acknowledgement, for acceptance – for me it is friendship.

Are you familiar with the children’s book Are You My Mother? Can you remember the school yard timidity and candor with which you once asked “Do you want to be my friend?” The desire for friendship and the tendency to look for it in the face of everyone I meet has never left me.

I struggled to find true friends throughout grade school – a bosom buddy, as Anne would say. High school lead to a more active social life, but only a few lasting friendships. A daily, through-and-through, soul-mate friend didn’t arrive until Danny. College was a desperately confusing time for friendships. I envisioned lively debate on literature, life and politics in front of the fire at the Union, but instead found myself isolated and completely disconnected from my peers and their lifestyle.

There are always regular characters in my life who settle in somewhere between friends and acquaintances, and true friends for whom I make special time, but it’s never enough. Best friends are never near enough, new friends are never close enough, acquaintances are rarely interested enough, and like a child I look up at each new face with one question “Are you a friend?”

Even if none of those things were true, even if I were smothered in friendships that hunger might still persist. I have come into a place where I acknowledge that hunger as a defining element in my life and the way I view the world. I am easily crushed, my nature inclines to embrace yet I restrain so as not to overbear, and I will never give up on you no matter the consequences.

There will never be enough long talks over a bottle of wine, and then (if I am lucky) a pot of tea. Alone I am at peace with my thoughts and myself. With friends I am exploring and navigating my life by sharing it with others.

What are you hungry for? What search defines your life? It might be the frame through which you see the whole world, but in focusing on the moving picture of life you have missed it up to now. I wonder if it’s shaping you for better or for worse.

I feel like I am whispering these things to a good friend, a very good listening friend.

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Intuition and Logic: One on each shoulder; who is winning?

Part One:

It is dangerous how my intuition talks circles around my logic until my logic is gape-mouthed and nodding in agreement.

Two truths and a lie (I won’t make it difficult): 1. I typically make a decision within one day of being presented with an option; 2. I use intuition first: What is my gut reaction to X?; 3. Frequently, when taking time to examine the logic of my decision, I find that it contradicts my initial impression (Hey, reader: That’s the lie.)

Naturally, my gut instinct is wrong a decent amount, yet somehow this does little to deter me from consulting it time and time again. I would argue that it fails me no more frequently than logic fails my friends who consider that wriggley beast their ally.

I’m sitting at my desk, right there in that little office with the overloaded bookshelves. My shoulders are hunched. I’m filling out employment information, pages covering the desk. I pause to reflect on how many miles away this opportunity is from the destination for which I originally set out.

Poof.

Intuition: This gig’s no good. Back out.

Logic: We checked out the website. It’s a national-ish company. It pays real money.

Intuition: So was the last one… and that worked out really well didn’t it?

Logic: It does seem similar…

And on it goes. I won’t bore you. Logic coming around and agreeing that it’s best to stay away from scenarios like these. On top of all this I have a sense of waiting… waiting for the “right opportunity”.

I’m on a deserted road with my skills packed neatly and a clear picture of where I want to be. Crazy people stacked up on a tricycle lurch past and offer me a ride. This is all wrong, but I try it, out of a need to get somewhere. It doesn’t last long and I’m back on my own two feet staring up the road. Something is coming… the right opportunity will come. I won’t see it if I’m in the back seat of a van headed nowhere fast.

No thanks, I’ll walk.

I think you ran over my glasses.

Part Two:

(Introducing Voice of Reason, also known as my darling husband.)

Me: It seems pointless to pursue this. It will turn out just like the rest…

Dan: Why don’t you just try it out? It’s real money, and you can’t base everything on that one bad apple.

Me: One?

Dan: Just go to the meeting. Don’t sabotage yourself again. Who knows, you might like it… it might open a door.

Me: Fine.

Part Three:

It’s a good thing I don’t rely solely on my own powers of wisdom (however marvelous I imagine them to be). He was right (D: What did you say? A: I said you were right honey, you were right). I went and this company is different… this seems like it could be a good thing… even if it’s just a small thing.

Sigh. Thankfully I’m not the only one with a pink-tinged perspective.

Winter at my window.

It’s been a lovely, blue-sky, technicolor fall. Cold-air scents more frequently trigger my memory. I’m in so many places and times when I walk down the sidewalk, leaves crunching beneath my feet.

But today is not a sunny day. Today it looks almost like winter out my window, which puts a little icy fear into my heart. You understand… there’s something hopeless about winter. Something empty.

I have several lines cast. The act of casting is joyous. There my sturdy line goes, connected to my overflowing heart and my ever-whirring mind. I wake up the next morning, no tugs. I get tangled in my lines and curl up, confused.

My heart is resilient, but my mind whirls all the harder… trying to make sense out of it, realizing it can’t, and then my heart pangs at its counterpart. They are both dizzy now.

I look inside myself at these things happening. I take my glasses off to look at myself, you know.

They tell me I’m actually short-sighted.

Tough questions and my daily devotional

WARNING: I’m going to talk about my faith in a non-condemning, experiential way in this post. You have been warned.

Every day, sometimes twice a day Rick Warren emails me. Okay, okay me and anyone else who signs up for his Daily Hope devotional. It’s been pretty cool to open up my inbox and sometimes read a scripture and application that meets me exactly where I am at that moment. Of course, sometimes I don’t read them at all, but that’s beside the point (I’m just  being honest).
Today’s Daily Hope was about making changes in your life to get the best that God has for you by focusing your life. And it just so happens that I’ve been writing a lot about focusing/re-focusing my life (in my own way, using my own strength). After answering the questions posed in the article, I prayed through the answers and invited God into the change.

This is a little raw… a little more than I want you to know, really. Actually, probably more than you even wanted to know. But inevitably change will happen, and I need to keep track of where I started from and what I’m working towards. And most importantly, who’s with me in all of it.

What do I want to be? A servant, a child of God.

What do I want to do? Love others as God loved them, life out scriptural truthes, give everything away and not be afraid to, life fully for God and rely on him, follow God in everything – no matter how uncomfortable.

What do I want to have? Qualities of Jesus, more capacity for love, deeper understanding of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, no fear.

Why do I want it? Because I know that the life God wants for me is the best life possible.

This is much, much more than a pink-tinged perspective…

Teaching old dogs new tricks.

Last winter I volunteered at a science fair a local middle school was hosting. One of the three students I was responsible for evaluating got very unlucky. He ended up with a psychology major as a judge of his ridiculously concocted “memory experiment”. He had three “sets” of subjects: his sister’s age (“like 5-7”), his age (12-13), and “older people” (anywhere from 20-63). He showed them an image for a certain period of time and then asked them certain questions. Their score (obviously) reflected their ability to memorize information.

His results were that his age group scored the best and he even offered causal information! The younger people were too distracted, and the old ones were losing brain cells as they aged, but his age group had brains that were “fully-developed”.

Luckily, as a teacher, I have been trained in objectivity.

Regardless of what this young man seems to think about the state of my brain, I believe I am in a prime condition to pick up something new. Not because of my brain, but because of my ability to stick with things, which I desperately lacked at age 16 when this all started.

By this I mean, wanting to learn to play the guitar. I was given a beautiful guitar for my 16th birthday and had lofty aspirations of putting my many, many teenage poems to song.  (Oh, man were those really bad poems… it wasn’t my fault, actually. The subject matter was weak: boyfriends.)

7 years later I have officially enrolled in my first guitar class at Old Town School of Folk Music, which is conveniently located in my (amazing) neighborhood!!!

When life refuses to interrupt your free time with things like jobs, make the best of it, I say.

I’ll be groovin’ out in my pink-tinted shades ‘for long. 🙂

My mother would say: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”, but clearly that doesn’t apply to me.

Last night at dinner, Danny and I were going over my options: the upcoming interview or two, the awaited response from the last interview, and a few options that I wasn’t sure about a few weeks ago and I’m still not convinced they’re worthwhile.

Dan: I know one of these options is going to work out for you. I know you’re going to find something soon. But if these things don’t work out, you’re sort of in the position to blow things wide open, right? Just find anything at all.

I hear where he’s coming from. I know it’s not a faithless place. Like anyone who loves someone else, he has more distinct memories of what causes me pain. He remembers the hopeless dejectedness that washes over me sometimes and wins for a while.

Only I didn’t agree. Actually, I’ve tried that already. I’ve tried to apply to “just anything” and the few times I’ve actually completed the process, I haven’t heard anything. Or I have sabotaged myself in some way. Take, for example, the early childhood center that was looking for “Part-time teachers”. I went in for the interview, spoke with both directors, and did a wonderful job articulating my strengths, dedication, and experience. I was beyond qualified for the position as it required only an associates in early childhood. I have experience as an assistant preschool teacher, one year of teaching and classroom experience with elementary-aged children, and several childcare references with children in that age group. They expressed that they were impressed with my background and thought I would be a great fit… did I have any questions for them???

AM: Yes, actually. I was wondering what the job description was for a “part-time teacher” here.
THEM: Well, we have three lead teachers that have different and over-lapping shifts during the day as well as an assistant, but during 12-6 it is necessary to have someone else in the room. You would be floating from room to room.
AM: For quota purposes.
THEM: Well, it’s more than quota, we want to make sure each child is able to get plenty of attention. You would be working with 6-18 mo. olds.

(Internal dialogue: Oh man. Babies? Babies are great but I didn’t go through all of this to be a warm body… to change diapers. My passion is teaching.)

AM: Thank you for clarifying that for me. That would definitely be something I would have to consider were I offered the position. I have worked as an assistant and I feel that with my experience and education  I have a need for autonomy. I’m ready to be a leader in the classroom and I’m not sure that a position like that could provide job satisfaction for me.

Naturally, I never got a call back. I essentially told them I didn’t want one. I am actually mentally unable to take “just anything” at this point in my life.

I really don’t think this is a pride thing. I’ve worked that I was over-qualified for and been happy in them. This is about my need to live out my potential. All this time as a student I’ve heard about my great potential to make a difference, to change things, to encourage others to greatness. I believe it too. I know that I can change the way a student feels about himself as a learner – I’ve seen it happen. I’ve tasted just enough of that to know that I can do that full time. Give me the most forsaken and I won’t stop until they are taking pride in the result of their own hard work and achievements.

AM: Baby… I think I’m past the point of taking just anything. I have to believe that God will provide the right opportunity. He didn’t build all this up in me and not have a plan to use it. But I can’t… just take anything.

Maybe… if I lend him my glasses, he’ll see it my way.

It is unavoidable that a blog solely about my own life experience will make me seem self-involved.

I have heard it explained that life swings on a pendulum of time and money. The moments the two achieve equal balance in our lives are few, and far between. This was first explained to me in the context of traveling abroad and why it never seems that one can just “go”. I deeply admire those I know who are young and well-traveled… there have always been a multitude of reasons I have given myself why “now is not a good time”.

But that is not why I brought up that notion of time and money. I’ve been reflecting lately on how my time is spent and what I have spent my time on in the past several years.

You should know, reader, that I love to shop. I am a methodical shopper (those of you who graze your way through stores deeply frustrate me – I come to conquer, go in for the kill). Yet, there are always numerous items that call to me from shelves and hangers. There is simply not enough money in my wallet to entertain them all, so I limit my time in the store. I rarely think of those items again, those items that were not meant to be, yet sometimes they whisper to me long after.

I have realized that I spent time in much the same way. As a high school graduate, there were many talents and passions calling down to me from the shelves of my life. I didn’t have enough time to entertain them all, so a select few were chosen and I’ve worn them ever since. Surely this relatable to most people.

And now I have time again. Days and weeks of it. Throughout my reflection of what I am meant to do with this time if it is not meant to be that I teach, I have thought back to those things forgotten on the shelves. I am taking them out again, dusting them off, trying them on.

From my pink-tinged perspective, this writing business still fits rather nicely.