This is not a phase

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Oakland's First Fridays Unity Wall
Note: This is not my view on the Church I attend, my Pastor, or the select people I've connected with on a real level. This is solely part of my journey of Christ, church, and my sense of belonging...and this post has been sitting in my inbox for almost 2 years.

10 years ago I sat in my parents living room and told them that I would respect their wishes to attend church until I was 18, then I wanted to seek my own relationship with God and explore my spiritual life.

You must know, as a Midwesterner who grew up in the Heartland, where there are more or equal amounts of churches than bars, this was not a popular sentiment.

But, I have always been a searcher...and searchers question, seek, and find. Which is exactly what I wanted to do with my faith in Christ.

Let me start off by saying, to me, God = very real to me. But this is about my struggles with how I experience and understand God and how others respond to my struggles within my spiritual life.

Organized religion, although important for so many of my loved ones who love Jesus, has always been difficult for me.

For me, I experience Christ in the small moments. While brushing my teeth saying my prayers for all the people I love. Or when I am driving in the car with a friend listening to music. Or in deep conversation about purpose, identity, and real life ish - that is when I feel closest to God.

And this is okay. This is what is so rich in my relationship with the Lord. This is what makes my spirit bright, my heart full, and my soul feel alive. But it took me a long time to get there...

Growing up I was the only public school kid while all the other kids went to the Christian church at our church. I was told that I'd likely be in prison as an adult because that is how public school kids ended up. As angry as I get from these hurtful moments, I know that God serves justice best.

In college, I was too liberal to belong to conservative church America. Apparently my belief that the church should love people in the Lesbian, Gay, BiSexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ+) community was too much for people to handle. I was vocal anyway, even though that value was also not popular...

And now? In adulthood, my thoughts are so different that it scares other Christians. Even though doubts, questions, and thinking shouldn't scare people...because my doubts don't invalidate someone else's belief in Christ...But unfortunately that has been my repeated experience.

Then, when I moved to California whether it be Southern, Central, or Northern, I wasn't hipster enough or I definitely didn't make enough money or have the right career to fall into the churches where I believed in their vision, their pastor, and a select group of people within those communities...but was considered not in the "cool" circle at church...

And honestly, it baffles me that in all my niches, I've always felt like I belonged to all my niches, but church?

I've never felt more like an outsider, an impostor.

And when history has a problem with repeating itself in my experiences, to me, church is a place that rewards those who fit in, even the churches that are considered not the social norm in the church world.

And if you know me, social norms aren't my thing. Endorsing systems that reward people for fitting the mold are also not my thing. If it was, I'd have a very different life.

I am not walking away from God, church, or from those who attend it, although many have walked away from me when I start to question organized religion.

And truthfully, I am accepting that is okay. Most of my friends who are Christian I never met in church anyway...

And no, this is not the case where I think there is something wrong with any church I go to, I am attending a great church and I've been to many solid churches. But I also can't deny my challenges to feel like I belong to any or one.

I am a searcher and I am a norm breaker.

This is not a phase. A decade is a long time to be in a phase.

Dating in San Francisco: Stranger Danger

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dolores Park on a rare empty day.

Its been a minute since I talked about modern dating in San Francisco. And since I am not dating in 2017, I figured I'd tell you some of my most awkward and embarrassing dating stories from the year as promised.

This past June, I went to my first Pride parade in San Francisco. Hours of celebrating the significance of this gathering and little did I know I was about to watch life do its thing.

During the parade, a major tech company float had stopped in front of us and I looked at this guy and I thought, where do I know him from?...We made eye contact, started pointing to each other, and then we started mouthing, "How do I know you?!" and after exchanging an ah-ha moment while literally thousands are lined up and down the street, it's basically a rave but above ground...he pointed to his phone and told me to check mine because his float started moving forward and I wouldn't get a chance to solve this mystery.

Turns out we were snapchat friends. On snapchat, I read his name and quickly realized a couple of things...

1) Turns out parade guy actually tried getting me to hang out for 2 months...but I didn't really care because I wanted to make friends versus go on dates when I moved to San Francisco.

2) He then tried hanging out again with me 2 weeks prior to Pride (5 mos after we started talking), but I declined because I wanted to go skydiving and I didn't want to invite a new person to the group that was already going.

What is life.

We decided to do an impromptu date at Dolores Park after the parade....and I pulled every rookie move in the book!

I took a pre-made drink from a stranger, my phone was almost dead, and I didn't update my friends to tell them which park I was headed to. I thought this was going to be the next lifetime movie, but I went anyway.

To make it worse, after some very sweet compliments, you want to know what my compliments to him were?

His sock game. Hey, they were colorful.
His eye lashes. I don't think it's fair when guys have long pretty lashes.

I'm not sure it gets more awkward than this people.

Luckily, he does sales in tech and is used to schmoozing, so he was able to brush off the social awkwardness that is me and we ended up having a lot in common - I'm going to spare the details, partly because my family reads this...but turns out an impromptu date wasn't so bad after all. And overly planned, calculated me, actually had a good time....

So, stranger danger maybe wasn't so dangerous after all. 

2017: No Dating

Monday, January 16, 2017

San Francisco: Original BFF.

Being a 20 something can be confusing and eventually you learn what "advice" to take and what doesn't apply to you.

One of those subjects is dating.

With barely any dating experience up until late college, I was a late bloomer. I was definitely a chase your goals, not boys type of girl. 

Once I was done with graduate school, I started focusing on my love life.

Mainly because I fell into the illusion that many of us do after school:
Marriage is the natural next step.
As a woman, my eggs are expiring, so best get someone before I'm too old.
I am in a more stable part of life to have a consistent person.

I ended up dating....a lot, and ended up in a serious relationship, mini relationships, and handfuls of dates that all led up to this point today - single.

And I've had my fair share of funny dating stories (more to share), positive relationships, and ones that I learned a great deal from and hope to never repeat.

So, as I turn 28 this year. An age where most women have gotten married and are having kids or this is the age that we all have said, "we hope we have our first child by 28"....I'm actually claiming it as a year of no dating.

I was serious about my 2017 theme and investing into what I already have in life and from my calculations, that also means no boyfriend.

I am giving permission to re-group. Focus on my connections currently and to ignore this idea that I'm getting older so I better hurry and find someone.

I don't have this ache or feel this void like I did for so much of my 20's - feeling like I am missing out. If anything I've accepted this year that ideally I'd love to get married and have kids, but if that doesn't happen, I know I will do enough in life to make sure I am happy and fulfilled in other ways.

This isn't a pity post. There isn't anything sad about my life. Being single is a choice. Just like being married is a choice.

So, instead I also have decided to root for healthy relationships. For myself, for my friends, for my family.

Healthy, great, and immeasurably positive relationships.

I also may have picked up a new hobby where I awkwardly leave a ring emoji under my friends instagram pictures because I am hinting I want them to get engaged.

But no pressure friends - Since I won't focus on my love life, I have all the time in the world to focus on yours ;)

And on a real note, I feel good giving myself some space to not feel obligated to put myself out there when that's all I've done since the Fall of 2013.

So, cheers to a year of rooting for healthy relationships, and I am also planning to post the funny dating stories along the way from this year to relive some of my most horridly embarrassing, but very memorable moments.

2017 Sharpening and Strengthening

Black Hills: In my field, I have learned which time frames are meant for solitude. January is one of them as I take the year to prepare to lead a team through some of the most challenging, but rewarding phases of life. I love the Black Hills Forest, providing both solitude and inspiration to fuel the year.

2017 – Sharpening and strengthening what I already have in my life; A year of local and grounded-ness.

What a 180 degree turn compared to 2016, which was an external year on steroids, with a giant spotlight, filled with visible changes and the work being done could have been seen from the Arctic circle.

When I was in South Dakota over Christmas, I was looking at my To Experience List and it has narrowed down to half. Wild to look at a physical list where my handwriting hadn’t changed much since I was 20 years old and half of my so called bucket-list was crossed off. 

And after numerous lifestyle changes such as becoming a minimalist (doing more with less), purging most of what I own, funding experiences - not things; all of which derive from this value of we always want more, but more doesn't make us happier. 

Within that though, I didn't realize that craving experiences can become just as toxic as collecting things, and some times becoming so obsessed with a lifestyle, takes away from the reason you started making life changes in the first place.

So, as I restore balance this year,  I decided 2017 is going to be an internal year 

Most of the changes I make this year have less to do with actual change and it has more to do with focusing on cleanup work. It has to do with investing and loving the work, connections, purpose, money, projects, and life giving matters that already exist in my life. No new lifestyle habits. No crossing off bucket-list items. None of it.

Yes, you read that right.

I am not making new friends...

I am not bringing on anymore new projects...

No job searching...

No new sources of income...

I am even going as far as to not date this year, which is a future post.

And every year since 2010, I have followed through on every single one of my yearly themes. No matter how challenging or how exhausting or how anything...and they're not always pretty, and I'm starting to accept 2017 may be similar.

I started writing down my themes to remember to believe in God's love and plan, and to trust my gut.

When I re-read my 2015 post it encouraged me to remember we are getting what we need for what is to happen later.

And as I gear up for 2017, I am grateful for what I have, because what I have really IS enough.

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