Friday, December 16, 2016


Day 11


I'm both country and city.
I can do red-carpet-fresh, and I can do gym-casual-hipster.

I was trying to explain my self, my lifestyle to a new friend last weekend.
I was trying to provide clarity as to the vast array of my awkwardness.

It's not an easy task.

My background is agriculture, my roots in the Desert Southwest of Arizona.

Growing up, "cold" meant the temps dropped to the 60's.
"Dangerous" meant being out after dark.
"Friends" were hard to come by and "trust" was everything, and nothing at the same time.

Agriculture took us to the fertile Salinas Valley, eight miles from the Pacific Ocean.
There I learned what hard work meant--- including how to be ready to uproot your entire life at the drop of a hat and turn around and retrace your steps in hope of finding your way back home.

The quiet of the desert provided the most stability, and also gave me the wings to fly away.

Enter Kansas.

Specifically, Lindsborg.

In college, you're shielded from the outside world.  At least, I was, living in Little Sweden, USA.  But the College theme that year was "From the Plains to the World", so I guess in a way, you could say this quietly influenced the spirited, venturous, young adult I would become.

From here, I've gone everywhere: South America, the West Indies, all around the Midwest, West Coast, and back again.

And what I've learned, is that, I'm all of it.  

I summed it up by saying something like this:

"It's like....I like my quiet moments, the places I can feel truly relaxed in.  If I don't have down time, I freak out.  I'm big on comfort, until I get too comfortable.  I appreciate small-town businesses, and love connecting with the people I see walking down the street.  But I can't feel contained-- or squashed --- for too long.  I gotta go -- have to keep it moving.  I like having a Home Base, somewhere solid to come back to-- but I have to go breathe different air every once in a while.  

I am so Lindsborg.  That place has my heart.  It's where it all started for me (my adult life).  I have such a connection to that town and the College--I know it was exactly the place I needed to be, it was the decision I was supposed to make, it was where I needed to go to begin growing.  Or continue growing, depending on how you look at it.  I'm still extremely connected to Lindsborg and active in its community, in fact, I HAVE TO get away and go back to Lindsborg every so often, or it's like: 'I can't breathe'.

But then, Kansas City?...Yeah, I love that place.  I love the people there.  I love the energy and diversity and how everything is different every day.  It still feels safe, but there's enough mystery to keep me challenged.  Kansas City lets me d r e a m.  I have to go there every once in a while, or I CAN'T BREATHE.

I need all of it.  I'm not simple.  I'm complicated.  But complicated in a really good way, I think."


18765432 Different Ways

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 14


When we're stressed, we really don't want to hear, "You need to relax a bit."

When we're thinking, we don't want to hear, "Are you okay?"

When we've had a long day and are fighting to not show it on our face, we dont want to hear, "What's wrong?"

See, sometimes our face looks like that because on the inside, our brain is going in 22 directions at once.

Sometimes, it's all we can do to keep our balance amidst the ebb and flow and weight of our own thoughts.

Sometimes, it's hard to make a decision because our over-sensitive brains see 18765432 different ways to solve a problem, but we don't want to be judged, so we keep our opinions to ourselves.

Sensory overload is like being on a super-fast Ferris Wheel, while eating an entire pizza as fast as you can, while trying to count each individual light whizzing by and trying to sing the national anthem, all at once.

It's needing to be in a quiet space NOW, RIGHT NOW, so that your head doesn't explode.

It's throwing your hands up in the air because you can't get a grip on anything anyway.

It's sneaking outside to the 15-degree back patio to let the cold air slow your thumping heart.

Sometimes being an introvert makes us come off .... high-strung.

In reality, it's just exhausting to be around people all the time.

We all have our things.

I Could Have Written Today

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 13


I could have written today.

Instead I overslept, then woke up in a panic.

I realized my list was long and my hours few.

I could have written today.

Instead I overanalyzed, then criticized my thoughts.

I realized my brain is full and my patience thin.

I could have written today.

Instead I overbooked my schedule.

I realized I don't even know what I don't know.

I could have written today.

Instead I overspent my time and energy.

I realized I am the thief of my own joy.

I could have written today.

Instead I overstepped my boundaries.

I realized 

I can be

much nicer

to myself.

Little Too Much Christmas

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 12


(new friend at dinner): "It's just you here?"
(me): "I'm from Arizona."
(new friend): "So you have no family here???"
(friend who's known me longer and knows me better): "She has all of us."


It was a little too much Christmas for me.
We sat around the beautifully decorated table with lit candles, and opened simple, thoughtful, gifts at our placesettings.  We played a game after dinner.
We're still two weeks away, but I just feel it choking me out.
I have so many opinions, so many stereotypes I want to crush, but dare not speak against any of them, for fear of crossing some i n v i s i b l e line in this society I'm still trying to figure out
I live outside the box. That means my life has no "holiday compartment". I get uncomfortable trying to explain my "lack of traditions" to those who don't know me. I just don't agree that I'm missing out. I guess my tradition is that I don't have a tradition, like Nicki said. Is that such a bad thing? 
I'm in the beautiful, free space to be whoever I want to be. Because of this, I have the privilege of being a part of the lives of so many. Friends have turned into family. Most of them understand my heart.

I may be a wanderer, but I am certainly not lost.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sitting Between Strangers

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 10

Today was Connie's funeral.

Her service was very nice.  The pastor referenced Galatians 5:22 as one of the verses that he felt defined Connie and her life.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control."

This was so lovely to hear.  I smiled when I thought of how much I loved Connie and how awesome she was.  I sat thinking about the last 5 years, since I got to meet Connie and started working at the mental health center.

I sat between two strangers at the service.  Three people who came to the service on their own. We actually sat in the additional room, separate from the main chapel, and watched a live stream of the service on a giant television. It honestly felt no different than being in the main chapel. At one point when the tears hit me, I just bowed my head and buried my face into my scarf. The woman on my right gave me a tissue. The man on my left patted my arm.   
I recognized him from around town, and from the mental health center (I would say "from seeing him around the office"....but I don't work there anymore! I'm still processing that, especially these days when I think about my CKMHC cowokers..).

He was one of the adult clients Connie had worked with at some point. 

When the officiant asked for stories and memories of our beloved Connie, I felt him shuffle around.

I could tell he wanted to share a story, but we weren't in the main chapel, so I thought about how he and others may not get to share their hearts.

After the first person was done speaking, he stood up.

It dawned on me that he didn't realize that those in the main chapel, including the officiant, couldn't see him.  Only those of us in the same room with him knew he wanted to share.

He sat down when the second person started speaking.

This happened once more, but this time, I stood with him.  I leaned in and quietly asked him if he wanted to go to the main chapel and share, and he said yes, so, while the third person spoke, and our room full of people watched, I put my arm through his and we went over to the main chapel.  An usher was able to help him get next in line to speak, and he was able to share sweet words that brought tears to many.

I think it was important for him to get that opportunity to speak.  He got to share from the perspective of having been an individual who Connie had helped, in her work at the mental health center.

I was so glad I was sitting next to him.

"...patience, kindness, goodness..."

Short on Time, Long on Thoughts

#keepcalmWRITEON Day 9
(( Middle of the night writing again))


What to say tonight?
The air is crisp, the sky dark
The seasons changing in my heart 
Walls coming down,
Then going up...
Refuse to settle,
Make my own luck.
Stressed, yes.
Trusting the transition, yes...

But really, am I trusting?
Am I too far invested,
Or not invested enough?
It's become so common to have 

More questions 
Than answers.

It's become second nature 
To feel overwhelmed 
And tired.
Where is my faith?
Where is my hope?

Another day lies ahead.

Burritos at Midnight

#keepcalmWRITEon Day 8


I was driving home from work.  Now, mind you, my work is not like regular work.  It’s shift work, at a PRTF (that’s short for Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility).  My shift ends at 11:00 pm, and tonight, I was driving away at 11:59 pmmidnight.  I’d just spent 11 hours managing 40 emotionally and behaviorally challenged kids and teenagers, and all the staff that go with them.  Luckily, I didn’t get cussed out or punched or scratched today. But, still, I was tired.  My co-supervisor and I had just finished hashing out staffing for tomorrow, and frankly, it looked a little grim.

I didn’t get to eat dinner at work today, partially because Breakfast/Lunch-Hybrid Meal was not until 4:00pm and I wasn’t hungry yet, and partially because I was so busy attending to the different needs that arise at the PRTF. 

So, of course, I decided that I should pull through the drive-through at Pancho’s (BEST FOOD EVER), on my way home (breaking my rule of not eating restaurant food late at night...I've been really good about that lately, but I felt like I could give myself permission to go!).

So, feeling like I had rationalized well with myself, off to Pancho’s I drove.

It’s worth mentioning that today was the second REALLY COLD day of the year.  The high temperature this afternoon reached 25 degrees, and driving through town, I noticed the glittering, sparkling frost atop the roofs of several buildings.  I was enjoying the drive; it gave me a few extra minutes to wind down and get my brain to chill out after the busy evening at work.

Pulling into Pancho’s, I noticed the line of cars wrapped all the way around the drive-thru and around the building.  “Wow!” I thought, “It’s poppin’ tonight! Everyone must be hungry tonight.”

I knew I would wait in line for several minutes before anyone took my order, and even a few more minutes while I paid at the window and my food was being prepared.  I ordered two things --a bacon breakfast burrito and a chicken quesadilla – thinking that I could save one for tomorrow’s Breakfast-Lunch Hybrid Meal.  While I waited, I absentmindedly checked my phone, wrote in my calendar, and thought about what I would do when I got home…until I saw him.

He had blonde-ish, brown-ish hair, that looked a little long…and he wore all black, and glasses on his face.  He seemed young, in his 20’s, and he carried a backpack, and seemed to be doing some sort of dance between walking in and out of the building.  He began to cross the street in front of me towards the parking lot; I couldn’t tell what he was doing, so I let the car in front of me pull away and I waited – unsure of what this guy was doing or where he was going.  He turned back around and approached the door to the building again, and this time, made eye contact with me, and –could that be?—yes, he waved at me.

I was so tired from work and distracted by my phone and planners, I couldn’t decide if this was actually happening or not.  But yes; he waved at me and began motioning and gesturing…asking for food, drink, something, ANYTHING.  I began to shake my head at him, in disbelief.  I hadn’t pulled all the way up to the window yet and had nobody to discuss the matter with but myself.  

As I furrowed my brow at him, I pulled up to the window and paid for my food, handing my debit card securely to the cashier, then making eye contact with the stranger while I tucked my debit card out of sight.  When my food was handed to me, I knew what I would do.  I reached into my takeout bag, pulled out my burrito, and put it in my left hand— then I rolled down my window.

I pulled my car forward and handed the burrito to the stranger.  He said, “I love you, thank you” and I told him, “It’s a bacon breakfast burrito, it’s delicious”.
He said, “You’re awesome”.

And I drove away.

I watched him in my rearview mirror, saw him beginning to unwrap the burrito.

That was it.

An encounter not more than 2 minutes in length.

An exchange between two human beings: one with the power to improve the others’ day; the other, would never be able to repay her.

It just made me think.

How many people in front of me, in that long line of cars on this cold December night, avoided eye contact with this stranger?

How many of them drove right on past him, with overpriced burritos in their cars, heading to their cozy, warm homes…without even giving him a second thought?  If I hadn't driven through tonight, would he have eaten?

How long had he stood there, smelling the food from outside the restaurant, knowing there wasn’t a seat for him at the table inside, because he had nothing in his pockets?

I have never truly gone without.

I have never known true hunger or need.  Even in my worst times, I’ve always had a roof over my head.  I have never had to beg.

Who am I, that I get to buy a giant burrito and a stuffed quesadilla, at midnight, without thinking anything of it? Who am I, that I deserve to go to bed in a warm bed tonight with a full stomach?

I just don’t get it.

I could have decided that I was too tired to care, that my day had been too long, and that I needed to take care of myself now and put myself first and keep myself safe and look out for myself and do what I needed to do for me, because it’s late it’s the middle of the night and this isn’t rational and this is crazy and why didn’t you go straight home and I put up with too much crap at work and I don’t deserve that and what about me and that this guy could hurt me and who knows what he wants and don’t give him money he’ll use it for drugs and you shouldn’t enable because they all need to work and Gilda you work hard for your money you need to guard it more carefully and you can’t save them all Gilda just keep driving just give him an apologetic look on your way and say a prayer for him that God would bless him tonight…

If all I have to do to make a difference in the life of my neighbor, is to buy a burrito for someone who hasn’t eaten that day, when I would buy two for myself anyway…why hesitate?

Why not help create a world:

“…where the hungry feast
because the fed
are fasting.
Where I learn to go without so others no longer have to plead
Where there is enough for everyone’s need
But not everyone’s greed…”

I’ll survive without that burrito.  To me, it was extra, something I didn’t really need. To him, it was divine provision.

I hope I gave him hope tonight. 

We can all do so much if we all just look out for one another.

Discipline me, Lord, in the weakening power of Your simplicity. I am so honored to be the blessing.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Layers and Layers


#keepcalmWRITEon Day 7

Today was the first snow of the year.

If you know me, you know I love the show "Gilmore Girls".
As in -- eat, sleep, and breathe it.
For those if you not familiar.... in the show, the main character, Lorelai, loves the snow. Adores snow. She has at least two monologues about her relationship with the fluffy white stuff over the course of the show. She says, "The world is magical when it snows...the whole world changes color."
I am a desert rat, living in Kansas.
I used to say "stuck in Kansas" but I've changed my tune because, well, e'rybody got choices. I no longer feel stuck but rather, at home. But that's a story for another time.
I can't handle the cold. I wore two layers of under armour today, beneath a hoodie, beneath my work polo, beneath a coat. With ear warmers. And I still whined a little.
At my job, you have to be prepared for anything: kids could run away out in this cold, and we have to chase them! Better be prepared for the worst of conditions!
And yet, after I returned from just such an excursion this evening, I found all my layers of preparation working AGAINST me----I was sweating through my clothes and feeling so uncomfortable. I had to sit with my jeans rolled up to my knees at the desk while I completed my end-of-night paperwork, exposing my patterned tights to anyone who walked through the nurse's station. (My legs can't get cold, either!)
So this all got me thinking---even our most earnest methods of preparation can harm us in the end. Even when we think that we think of everything ----- there will be curveballs. We should always prepare to get a little uncomfortable, because there are always two sides to every coin.
Isn't it so interesting that the same things that can protect us from some elements, can very well expose us to others? I wonder what other areas of our lives this concept applies to.
I won't stop wearing my crazy layers anytime soon--- but I think I will start paying more attention to those things disguised as lifesavers, when in all actuality they might be weighing me down.
Sink or swim, friends.

Friday, December 9, 2016

When High Schoolers Communicate Better Than I Do.


#keepcalmWRITEON Day 6

Tonight I went to a high school basketball game and I was so in my zone!!

It took me back to the days when I was on a team like that and how I could relate to everything they were doing.
The girls played really well, I thought. And it reminded me of what good communication looks like on a team. They encouraged one another and all played off each other's strengths.
I remember when I was on my basketball team in high school, sometimes it felt like I didn't serve a purpose. I didn't score all the points, but I could grab some rebounds. I didn't always get open quickly enough for my teammates to pass me the ball, but I could hustle back and be ready to play defense before anyone else.
I think life is like that. You count on the people around you, and you make yourself available to use whatever strengths you have, for the greater good. Where you are weak, someone else is strong; then when you need to fill in the gap for someone else, you do.

BUT...if you don't talk to each other and help each other out, it ain't pretty. You're gonna struggle.

I definitely feel some conviction and see the connections to my own life...I am absolutely not a perfect communicator (ask my coworkers), but I try my best every day to improve.

So... "keep the communication alive" is the moral of the story for me tonight.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

One Word.

#KeepCalmWRITEon Day 5!
(It’s only 10:55 pm---I’m actually writing before midnight!)

Today, I was asked to describe myself in one word.
My first thought--- “One word!? I’m a writer! That’s so hard!”
My second thought --- “There is a literal thesaurus flipping through my brain right now!”

Once the panic subsided, I decided on the word B R A V E.

I am starting to see how this word has described me all along, even though I didn't realize it.  And I'm beginning to see how we are all brave every day.
6th grade confidence booster

I had to be brave and try to make new friends every time my family landed back in Arizona or California after the harvest season ended and it was time to relocate (again).

I had to be brave when I could hear the kids laughing behind my back during 5th and 6th grade whenever I made any attempt at anything athletic during PE class.

I had to be brave and go to court when my parents were fighting for custody of my sister and I, and neither one of us really understood why.  (I just had to stay strong for my sister)

I had to be brave in 7th grade when I had to figure out the whole “switching classrooms every class period” thing, and explain it to my parents (dad---because mom was gone this year), and then explain why I suddenly was struggling with math and had my first “D” grade ever (Algebra was so hard).

Brave was when when my closest “friend” was so threatened by me (I still don't know what I did wrong) that she bullied and harassed me, made me scared to go to school, and effectively convinced several people to unfriend me (Shoutout to Tiffany and Deja, for helping me survive 8th grade).

I thought I'd be brave and take a chance and enroll at the newest, smallest, private high school in town and then try running on the cross-country team, after everyone said it was crazy, after knowing that I wasn't "built like a runner".

I was brave that whole running season, when I spent every step of every 5k race fighting back the negative voices in my head, I was brave when I traveled 3 hours one way, two nights a week for my basketball games (even though I was far from the best player on the team), and I was brave when I decided to do the unpopular thing and throw the shotput and discus, with only two other girls for support and nobody understood why we took it so seriously.

Brave was my middle name when I refused to sleep with any boys in high school, even though it gave me a reputation for being “stuck up”.

I was brave when the only place I took the car every week was to Sunday Mass (if the van wasn’t in the driveway by 11am, I took Daddy’s Dodge Ram—Mom sold it a couple years ago and I’m still not over it).

I put on the bravest face I could, the night I realized Dad probably wasn’t going to be coming out of the hospital (and I cried for a long time in the shower when I got home).

I was brave when I left on my choir tour that April, even though Grandma was upset that I was leaving town while Dad was sick (“The show must go on…”).

On May 5th while I was at my track meet 3 hours away from home, I had to be brave when Sister called me and said “He died”.

The next day was Friday, so I had to be brave and go to school anyway.

B R A V E filled the little church and accompanied us to the graveside and filled my mom’s voice while she sang for my dad one last time.

Age 7-ish and 5-ish
B R A V E filled that summer while Mom and I tried to figure out the rest of the “going off to college next year thing” and the “how are going to pay tuition for my last year of private high school thing” and the “what is everybody feeling thing”.

(we’re still working on that last part…)

I was brave when I got so mad and fed up with everyone’s attitudes and drama during my senior year and stopped feeding into it, but instead, started counting down til graduation.

I was brave the day I opened the letter from Bethany that came in the mail, instead of throwing it away like the first one (this one said “Track and Field Scholarship” on the front).

I wanted so badly to feel brave when I told my mom “I think I want to go to Kansas.”

I bravely got on a plane over spring break and visited campus, and took a deep breath before I made the  choice to sign my letter of intent and enroll for classes, all in the same day.

And then 5 months later, the B R A V E broke down while I sat in my childhood bedroom for the last time before getting in the van and beginning the 22-hour drive…and I hugged my mom and cried for a minute, while she spoke the only reassuring words I can remember her ever speaking to me:

“Time will go by fast.”

Fall 2015, starting to tell my stories...


(Okay, it’s actually 12/5…it’s 1:30 am again. I’ve gotta stop doing this.)

Short nights, long days. 
Writing, sleep, coffee.
Alarms, church, extroverting (ugh!).
Rehearsal, directing, praying, advising.
Running, breathing, enjoying sunshine.
Eating, chatting, catching up.
Paying rent, buying shoes, back to church.
Singing, praying, sitting still (!) …
Driving home, drinking hot chocolate.
Reading, lounging, uploading pictures.
Overall, a restful (I know, I definition of “rest” is awkward…) Sabbath.

Enter: Wasting probably too much time on social media.

Trying not to fall into the trap of:
Comparison, gossiping, judging…
Hating, envying, discriminating…
The little voices telling me to go creep on my past (anyone??).
Measuring my life using someone else’s yardstick..
Contemplating how to make my yardstick look like a more accurate instrument of measurement than someone else’s.
Putting pressure and guilt on myself for not following through on goals and dreams.
Updating cover photos like it’s important.
Overthinking how I present myself to the world.

Enter: Decision to stay off social media for the rest of the week (other than posting writing updates).

(Question: Ok, but why does there always have to be an exception?!?!)

Save It for a Rainy Day

1:30 am
(it’s really 12/4/16…this evening shift work schedule makes life difficult)

So, yesterday was interesting.  I said, “Hmmm, let’s see what comes out of my brain today.” And, well……a lot came out.  Frankly, I surprised myself with the vividness of the memories still in my brain. 
I want to write about something happy, but today it rained ALLLLLLLLLL dayyyyyy LOOOONNNGGG.
It was the first dreary day of the year.
And it was…chaotic and stressful at work..
And I kept noticing my thoughts returning to negative or dark things, or triggers.
I don’t want to write about triggers right now, because it’s 2am and I have to be at church in like 7 hours 
(especially if I want to post all my writing on time *wink*//I’m already behind on posting, but let’s not talk about that).
Maybe I can write a quick poem.
Nah, maybe I’ll just ask a simple, not-so-simple question that’s been bugging me for a few days.

I mean, really.
What if I like summer better…or Easter?  Am I not allowed to claim that as the “happiest season of all?”  Just why can’t I have gay, happy meetings and have friends come to April? Is that against the rules?
I’m just saying that I’d like to tell passersby to be of good cheer, year-round.

Do you ever wonder why families only go out of their way to visit each other during “the holidays”, and like, who decided our corporate calendars and what days we should get off work, anyhow?

Who decided that the best time to be grateful for life’s blessings is in November?  Or, perhaps even worse, that the only time it is socially appropriate --- or considered “not too extreme” --- to speak about gratitude is when there’s paper turkeys hanging on storefront windows, or pumpkins piling up nice and plump in the patch? 

When did it get set in stone that the holidays are “the season of giving”? 

What if giving was a lifestyle that was celebrated no matter the month (or the temperature outside)?  What if we didn’t need eggnog or pumpkin-spice-anything to give us that warm, fuzzy feeling in our tummies because we were already so full of joy that we just wanted to pass that joy on to our neighbor, no questions asked?

I’m just wondering.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dear Journal


#keepcalmWRITEon Day 2.

Free write.  Let’s see what comes out. 

I’m challenging myself to write every single day in December.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Why? I think it will be good for me.  I think it will provide some way for me to get my mind to shut off when it’s supposed to, a way for my thoughts to find their way around each other.  I've got a big writing goal with a deadline of about a year and a half from now.  I guess that’s a good chunk of time.  I supposed the last year and half has provided so much life experience, it could be a book all on its own.  I wonder what the next year and a half will bring. 

A year and a half ago was………..June 2015.  Where was I in June of 2015?


June 1, 2015
Dear Journal,

It’s been just over 4 months since the Friday night conversation that changed my life. By April, there was no more contact. I’ve lost so much weight already.  I wonder how much more I’ll lose.  I think it’s easier to focus on what I eat and not let myself eat when I feel like this. 

Today was a good day, so I thought I’d try to write a little bit about how I feel.

How do I feel?

I feel like there’s a giant hole inside my body, but I can’t even identify where I feel the hole….it just…is.  Every Wednesday, when I have to drive to Ellsworth for work, I cry.  I’ve taken on a coffee habit.  Every Wednesday on my way out of town, I pull through the North 9th Street McDonald’s and I get a Large Hot Caramel Mocha.  I have no idea what’s in it, but I get it.  And I sip it while I drive, in between singing as loudly as I can to every Jesus song that comes on the radio.  The ones that don’t make me cry, of course.  (I try to write some of these songs down, because some of them make me feel awesome, and some of them I know are God speaking to me about all this.  Colton Dixon’s “More of You”…Third Day’s “Soul on Fire”… anyway.)  I know something’s different with me, because I survived 4 years of college as a double-major/athlete, while working random shifts at the nursing home---all without touching coffee more than three times that I can remember.  And it was just coffee from the cafeteria.  I wasn’t even one of those cool college hipsters who hung out at coffee shops, with earbuds and wifi, studying ever so intently.  I just poured it into my free mug I got from the Student Activities Board and took it with me to 7:45 am Physics Class, because it seemed like the right thing to do, after I’d had 5:00 am weightlifting. But the only thing that resulted was a huge headache and a newfound determination that coffee in its entirety must make me sick and I would have to figure out a different way to keep my eyes open.

So these days, with my Caramel Mochas…I don’t even know who I am.  At least it’s just on Wednesdays.  I still have too many kids in Ellsworth County for my liking, and work hasn't been able to take me out of that assignment…not that I don’t like the kids, but I just don’t know what’s going to happen now that things have …changed.  How am I supposed to keep setting foot there every week? It’s been so difficult.  I stopped packing hot lunch, weeks ago.  It’s too depressing and anxiety-causing to use the microwave at Kwik Shop.  There’s too many people there.  Too many people who might recognize me, too many strangers-to-me in those khaki uniforms, strangers who know probably way more about me than I know.  I just pack random snacks and eat in my car while I’m parked at the library.  On the days I’m hungry, that is. The library is my safe place.  It’s neutral.

Wednesdays kill me.  I come back to Salina, and I’m an empty shell.  Sometimes I go to the gym, but usually I just put on a happy face for church and go to youth group.  They need me there.

The second job still stands.  It’s been a whirlwind few months.  I’ve been on my schedule there since November, officially.  So, it’s been 7 months of losing sleep a couple nights a week, plus sacrificing my Saturdays.  I know I’m making progress towards my debt-free goals (goal is to pay off my car by December 31st!), but I get tired.  My coworkers at the main job know I’m exhausted.  They know I’m drained.  I can’t count the times and ways they’ve all shown me support.  I take smoke breaks with them, even though I don’t smoke (LOL).  They let me cry and they don’t judge me.  They’ve analyzed everything with me, from every angle.  All the new, unexpected things that come up---those, too.  It’s been so weird to let them into my life.  I guess I didn’t realize I was keeping them out. 

Church has been good.  I’ve continued to stay involved with the youth group, since I returned to them last fall, about the same time I got the second job.  It’s still crazy to think about how everything got added to my life all at once: the second job, then youth group needed me back...  Sometimes I really struggle with guilt.  How maybe if I hadn’t gotten the second job and maybe if I “hadn’t given up my Saturdays", and maybe if I didn’t want to help with youth group, then maybe things would have turned out differently. 

"You need to be glad that the door is shut, things are happening like they are supposed to, the pain will teach you something..." I hear variations of this speech from those who care about me.  I’m still not convinced.  I’ve gotten sick like three times since the end of January.  I had gone 4 years without a sinus infection, but as soon as I landed in El Salvador (4 weeks Post-Conversation) -- BAM-- sinus infection and horrible fever.  Then I got one again mid-April.  I’m starting to feel not so great now, and I can’t decide if I’ve just been exercising too much (because exercise numbs my mind) or if this summer weather is messing with my sinuses. 

I’m actually really glad my Saturdays are filled with work at my second job.  I’m on a pretty good routine.  I either stay late and work til like 6 or 7, or if I actually get off at 4, I go straight to the gym.  Sometimes I see Dean there so that can be hard because I wonder what he's thinking or how much he knows about the situation... but I do my workout anyway.

I know I’ve come a long way since February, though.  I don’t cry as much.  I’m starting to socialize more with friends from church.  At least, I think it’s socializing.  Monica and Jennifer have started to force me to watch “classic” movies with them, to culture me, because they found out that I haven't seen a lot of movies.  We watched “A League of Their Own” the other day, and I had them over in my apartment! I was so nervous.  It was only the second time that I’ve had a “group” over to my house, and I’ve lived here three years! We ordered pizza.  I had never ordered pizza to my apartment before, isn’t that crazy?? Anyway the movie was good.

At the end of July, we are taking our youth group kids on a weekend mission trip to Kansas City.  I’m super excited about it! When I focus on things like mission trips and service, I really feel connected to myself and to God, and that gets me through the bad days. 

Debbie’s been so awesome too.  She’s always there when I need to take a break and get a hug! I hope I’m not bothering her when I stop by to say hi.  I try to make up for it by helping her with Salina Shares.  Speaking of which—we are going to do our Disney at Del Rey party next month too! July is going to be busy, but it will be great.  I just have to get through June first. 

Well, I’m going to get to bed, I guess.  I work both jobs tomorrow so I’ll need my energy.  Hopefully write more soon!