Posted in life, post-college

#adulting #withspirit

Adult life is a jump. Sometimes you land, and sometimes you fall down. Either way, you have to be at work on Monday.

It’s kind of like eating your vegetables: you just have to do it. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s gross. You can say, “no thank you, this isn’t my favorite,” but then it will show up cold on your breakfast plate, and continue to show up on all your plates, until you eat it (at least that’s how it worked at my house growing up).

I define exciting as rolling down grassy hills and books that come free with a meal but you can trade them in for ice cream if you want. When put in that context, adulthood is not exciting at all.

Seeing boring and negative grown-ups makes me scared that that’s the prognosis for my own life. I never want to be the kind of grown up who says, “I love my job” but only ever means it sarcastically.

There’s a reason no one wants to grow up: it means buying sensible shoes and caring about the price of milk and being forward-thinking enough to know that you’re going to need an oil change before you’ve gone over the mileage on the little sticker in the corner of your windshield.

This kind of adulthood sounds spiritless.

But I want to buy shoes that are cute and bright and not have to consider how they’ll affect my back when I wear them standing up and walking around all day long! I don’t want to buy groceries; I just want food to show up in my refrigerator and I want it to be delicious always! And I want to drive my car into the sunset and never have to pay money to take care of it and also I want it to never make questionable or concerning noises!

But that’s really not a successful approach to adulthood or life. To be successful, sometimes you have to eat vegetables even though you just want cookies, and go to bed early so you can be a nice person tomorrow, and save money so you can pay for your car’s new head gaskets.

Making wise adult choices and being fun-hearted are not mutually exclusive, but it sometimes feels like they are. It can be disheartening. But I know that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and I know that means that I’m not called to be serious and task-oriented 100% of the time.

I know that it’s okay to have some spirit in what I do, that adulthood does not have to be just bland and rigid!

I can glorify God in my work and in the things I do after work. I can fully invest in all the things I do and find ways to enjoy them. I can insert whimsy into all the pockets of my life, because dragging my feet through the muck of productivity is not glorifying.

If I go through life with no spirit, I might as well be a computer, because they don’t have spirits, either – or souls.

Joy is legitimately important. And so I need to make the choice to live life – all of it – with joy, with whimsy, in pursuit of glorifying the Lord! Otherwise I am not obeying Him. I am not a computer; I am a person. I am an adult, whether or not I like it all the time.

So right now, in my rookie adulthood, my choice is to do adulthood with spirit, to glorify God in all things (even things I would not have chosen for myself) and to enjoy Him forever. It’s how I know to not get my spirit squashed.

Love,

Lauralicious

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Posted in Jesus, life

This Cup

I drink coffee out of this same mug every morning at school. I found it in the grass in front of the sign at the entrance to Daniel Square one random and rainy day in college. It looked lost, so I picked it up and made it mine. I put it in the cabinet with all of my other cups and mugs, and it moved with me here to Columbia. 

Some of these were gifts. Some were inherited. Some were picked up out of the grass (really, though, just the one). Some were bought on a whim. Some were picked up from Clemson football games. Some were supposed to be a wedding gift but I forgot so I just kept them (oops, sorry).

I am fairly sentimental about my dishes, but also I know that what’s in front of me is intentional – just like the things put before me by the Lord.

Sometimes you drink something and you’re so thankful because hydration is important. Sometimes you take one sip of a drink and know that something’s wrong. Sometimes you drink the whole thing and wish you hadn’t. Sometimes you have to drink something that doesn’t taste good but you know it’s good for you. Sometimes you drink something and wish you’d savored it more. Sometimes you wish you’d shared it with someone.

Sometimes there is no cup and you’re walking around parched, just trying work up enough saliva to have something to swallow. And sometimes you’re drinking from a fire hose and it makes your fingers all prune-y. 

No matter the cup or what’s in it or how much of it I drink, I find comfort in knowing that the cup (or lack of cup, or abundance of cups, or alternative to a cup) in front of me was chosen by God for me: not merely approved by Him, but specifically sought out for me by Him personally. He knows me and He loves me and He knows how to accomplish His purpose, which is His own glory and not my own comfort.

And I am thankful that living water is more satisfying than anything here on earth, because even though I still am tempted by others, I know I don’t want to drink anything else.

Love,
Lauralicious

Posted in life, nostalgia

Not Clemson

Life is hard. It’s hard to be responsible – both for myself and for others (I am responsible for students’ learning and that is simultaneously a great honor and so terrifying). It’s hard to be in a new place. It’s hard to grow up.

At first, moving away was exciting. There was an apartment and a classroom to set up. I was in a new place and it was fun to explore! And also, there are like three Targets in driving distance here. That’s pretty different.

But the excitement of a new place and new things slowly turned less exciting. And now, I’m still here, and this is not Clemson.

All of this has me missing home like I never have before. I miss the particulars and the Clemson-ness of it.

I miss tiger paws painted on the roads. I miss Spill the Beans on summer evenings. I miss passing cars I recognize. I miss running on the sidewalk past my dentist’s office after school. I miss being close to Camp and being able to visit whenever I want. I miss seeing my family all over town and I miss my house. I miss All In like nobody’s business.

I miss feeling like my town knows me just as much and well as I know it. I miss Clemson being my landing pad.

I knew it would be hard to be away. I lived in only one place for 22 years, and I loved it. And then I decided to leave it. So I wasn’t expecting it to be easy.

However, it’s different to know that something hard is coming in the future than to be in the middle of a hard thing and realizing that oh, this is that.

But just because life is hard and I miss my mom’s cookies doesn’t mean I should go home. Just because I wave at every Clemson-stickered car doesn’t mean I need to be there.

Hard things are often also good things. I love Clemson, but that doesn’t mean the best thing for right now would be for me to live there (by that logic, I’d probably be living in Spain).

I know that I live here but right now, Clemson has more of my heart.

IMG_3875
The sky can be pretty here too
But: I am growing here. Small, tiny roots are sticking into the ground. It doesn’t mean I’ll be here forever, but I’d like to know that I can make it somewhere other than the one place I already have.
I know I made this choice to leave. Nobody asked me to go away from the most blessed town in creation (aka God’s country). I knew the transition wouldn’t be seamless, and this is that. I really hope it doesn’t take another 22 years to feel at home here.

But here’s something: yesterday I was at the grocery store, and I saw a friend’s car in the parking lot. I was exuberant because that is progress. 

Love,
Lauralicious

 

Posted in life

Hatching

I recently came to the realization that my heart is like an egg.

Because it’s hard yet fragile.

Because it can’t sustain itself, but it doesn’t know that.

Because putting it in a basket with all of the other eggs will not bring anybody a good outcome.

Because the inside might make you sick.

Because the only way to get life from it is to sit on it with some tender loving and then wait for it to break.

Because it’s stuck in a shell but it thinks it can fly.

Because it’s born to give more eggs and to be eaten, but all it can see is how important it must be.

Because it has to change form – from liquid in a shell to feathers with a heartbeat – just to come into the world. And because what it becomes once it’s in the world – a squawking, strutting, nosy, pecking, skinny-legged birds with wings that can’t even fly – isn’t all that extravagant.

Because it takes supernatural intervention for it to do anything worthwhile.

Eggs are kind of gross and chickens are annoying, but how beautiful is this: that my Humpty-Dumpty shaped, ooey-gooey fetus of a heart is transformed to something that has life and can be used for glory!

And how beautiful that Jesus is not a chicken, not even a little bit, not even at all.

Love,

Lauralicious

Posted in Camp, college, life, nostalgia

The Same Lake

Last summer, the July before we started our senior year at Clemson, one of my roommates and I got a Peppino’s margherita pizza and picnicked at the Botanical Gardens. We sat there and ate during dusk and we chased frogs (I held the pizza box while she chased frogs). Then we went to the rowing docks and sat and talked. The sun had set and we were sitting on the dock in the quiet, being occasionally rocked by waves from boats taking night rides. At one point she had to take a phone call, so I sat and thought, and in my thinking I realized that I have spent my whole life on Lake Hartwell.

No one admits to liking Hartwell. Keowee is preferred and Jocassee is ideal. Hartwell, in terms of Clemson area lakes, is like the Nickelback of lakes. But it’s the closest, and it’s the university’s lake, and it’s where the memories are.

All of my summers growing up were spent on Hartwell. I tagged along with friends whose parents owned lake houses and boats for afternoons and sleepovers and we had the most fun long, sunburn-y days. We had birthday parties jumping off of two-story docks. We sang Kelly Clarkson songs at the top of our lungs while holding on to tubes that my friends’ dads were trying to throw us off of. We made sand pies (like mud pies, but they don’t really stick together) and played pretend. We took evening boat rides and let the wind whip our hair dry. We took childhood and summer for granted, like kids are supposed to do.

Circa 2004-ish probably
When I wasn’t a kid anymore, I was a youth. I started youth group the summer before 7th grade. Everyone associated with the youth group gathered at the lake for a huge party: the Moving-Up Party. There was food; there were boats; there was that game where someone had to eat baby food. It was so youth group-y. It was new and exciting. It was pandemonium. It was grand.

All of my youth group years (especially summers) incorporated the lake. On Wednesday nights during the summers we met at people’s homes and everyone’s favorite were the homes that were on the lake. We swam, then got into small groups and prayed, then sat on the docks with our legs swinging in the water, in no rush to go home or get to the next thing. Those were peaceful evenings.

youth group at the Kriders’ lake house, 2009-ish

Starting my junior year of high school, I got to drive to school. It was liberating – and one of my favorite memories of independence from that time is spring of junior year, after AP exams, a bunch of us went to Y Beach and played volleyball and got our toes in the water. It was an ironic feeling: we felt like truants for being at the lake while our peers were at school, yet the reason we weren’t at school was because of advanced placement exams that those peers didn’t take. We felt like exceptions to the rules and it was exhilaratingly special.

Senior year none of us had full schedules and usually we used the spaces in our day to study or do homework together, but sometimes we would go to Supertaco (before it moved) and cross the highway to eat it on the boardwalk. These are grand memories.

post-AP exams celebration at Y Beach, junior year, May 2011

Camp is on Lake Hartwell, and I’ve spent now six summers swimming at lake play and riding the pontoon boat and fishing off the dock (never, in six years, have I caught one fish), tipping canoes, jumping on the water trampoline, etc. Once I had to swim a sailboat full of crying little Bowfins across the cove three times because I don’t actually know how to sail and the boat kept falling over.

(I still don’t know how to sail)
From my lofted bed in my dorm room freshman year at Clemson, I could see the whole stadium and beyond to the golf course and the lake. I didn’t even have to get out of bed to see it. On gamedays I slept in until as late as possible and then rolled over to see all of Clemson convening, cohesively dressed in orange, right below me. The people looked like orange ants, all moving toward the stadium. I felt such pride for my people and my town and my school – and they were all the same: Clemson. Home.
I felt like this view should be some kind of top secret. The view from the bed of my dorm was amazing and unfair – and in my favor.
College was full of spontaneity and adventure. We had picnics by the water, we had lake days, we took walks to the dikes, we ate milkshakes on the docks, we had talks in the sand, we went night-swimming, we got Atlas pizzas that we ate on the boardwalk, we studied at Y Beach, we ran to the lake and jumped in. It was a conduit of such adventure!
Dinner/Chick Fil A picnic with Freshman Five, fall 2012
(There really were five of us! The boys chose not to be documented)

And so this lake: this lead-filled, super green, oft-insulted/unappreciated lake ties together memories and activities from all of the twenty two years I’ve had on this earth. Each domain of my life has been impacted by Hartwell – silly Hartwell. And never, until I was so close to leaving, did I really even acknowledge and begin to appreciate it.

Moving Up Party at the Hubbards’ house, 2011

I’m a very sentimental person, and I know this about myself. So I know it’s trivial to be so attached to a lake – especially one that isn’t all that great. But Hartwell was never really attention-seeking. It just did its job, which was to sit there and hold water and let us take from it. It’s like the Giving Tree, but a lake. It’s a Giving Lake. Too far?

I’ve moved away, and coincidentally, I now work at Lake Carolina (I still have not located the actual lake, but I am assured that it is an actual lake somewhere), so Hartwell isn’t the only lake in my life anymore. But it was my first lake, and I’m thankful for it.

I unconditionally respect it and the times it has given me that have subsequently become a huge part of my Clemson memories.

I love this lake.
Love,
Lauralicious
Posted in college, life

I’m Still Running

You have brains in your head,

You have feet in your shoes…

You have brains in your shoes,

Your brains have shoes…

Yes?

feet

It’s not a story of muscles or athleticism or triumph. It’s a story of running – not to anything or from anything, but around my town, starting out by tying my shoelaces and then running straight out the door.

It’s a story of a lot of thinking and a lot of subsequent learning. It’s a story of commitment, routine, and unintended but highly appreciated stress management.

The story started one year ago this week. It was the end of spring break of my junior year of college and I was feeling a little funky about life. I felt very stationary. I saw people I had known for years and years doing great and big things with their lives and I kept hearing myself think, “I’m still in college.”

I was feeling a little rushed and a little stuck and a little like being still in college was keeping me from doing anything that mattered. I was comparing myself to others and I was listening to myself think, and I know better than to do either of those things, but there I was.

Coincidentally, around that same time, I started running. I didn’t do it with the intention of starting something new or making life more interesting; I had tried several times in my life to become a runner and it had never stuck – until this time. It turned out that being more physically active helped me to feel less mentally erratic and being more mobile with my feet helped me to feel less stationary with my life.

Then, when I felt like my life was sitting still, I went running. And right now, while life feels like it’s moving super fast and doesn’t really care whether or not I’m caught up, I’m still running.

A year isn’t really all that long, and I know that. Yet I’m excited about having run for a year now. I’ve found myself saying things I never thought I’d say, like this: I think I’m in love with running. It is not at all easy, but I look forward to when I get to go run. I miss it when I can’t. I tell people about how great I think it is all the time.

At first it was awful (I wrote about it here), but I kept going and I’m not quite sure why. I like it more now – not because I like sweating, but because I like thinking.

I like running because my feet are moving and so is my brain. Running helps me think, have theoretical conversations, calm down when I’m so nervous or angry, and have a more realistic perspective on everything I see. I’m thankful for that.

In addition to giving me a chance to think, running has also helped me to learn new and helpful things. I’ve learned to anticipate others’ actions. I run on the sidewalk and anytime I reach an intersection, I watch to see what the drivers near me will do. Are they going to turn? Are they going to keep going straight? Are they waving me on or are they dancing in their car? These are all important things to know.

I’ve learned how to make hydration happen. It’s highly necessary.

But the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to get through life. I’ve learned to pace myself, and I’ve learned that running is harder in practice than it is in theory, but that doing one hard thing a lot of times is better than doing no things at all ever.

I’ve learned that ideal runs are smooth but in real life, running means gravel and anthills and being passed by runners who are faster than me. I’ve learned that it’s not all endorphins and energy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t healthy or productive or peaceful.

I’ve learned that it’s not me who is so great and so active. It’s not me who is keeping my feet moving. I am so often tempted to be so excited and proud of myself for running and moving. But who is moving my muscles? Who is lifting my feet off of the ground? Who is keeping me from falling? It isn’t me. I don’t have that power or that will. It’s the Father, the One who is able to keep me from falling, who is controlling each step.

I’ve learned to not overthink what’s next. I don’t know what’s around the corner, but I know and can see and can handle what’s right here in front of my feet, so that’s where I will run.

So, it’s a story of a lot of sweat. It’s a story that’s still starting. I think it’s a pretty good story.

Love,
Lauralicious

Posted in college, life, nostalgia

A Happy Middle and a Very Happy Start

To be a senior, one must first be a freshman; a person can’t be experienced without experience. I knew that. I just didn’t know that I wouldn’t be a forever freshman, and that one day I would actually be at the point where I (ready or not!) became a senior and had some life experience. And now, here I am. When I talked to seniors before I was one of them, they said it felt different than it looked. They were right: I feel less noble and graceful than what being a senior looked like. And yet, here I still am.

I am only a two weeks into senior year, but it’s the beginning of the end. Endings are sad and hard. I’ve been in school for sixteen years, and if I teach after this, who knows how many more years of school I’ll have. But this sixteenth consecutive year of school is my last consecutive year as a student.

Being a student, I have learned – about school, life, friendships, people, cars, kitchens, money, communication, coffee, and more and more and more. And when I think about this allotted time of learning – “college” – ending, and going to a new, yet to be determined place and making new friends and having a new house and a new bookstore and a new coffee shop, the space in my chest where I normally breathe becomes smaller, and my thoughts ricochet off the walls of my head so much more quickly and disorientedly than usual.

My college apartment kitchen on a clean day. Much learning (usually the hard way) has happened here.
New things are scary, and it isn’t even time yet for me to embrace or go do my new things, but it’s time to know that they are in my foreseeable future, and that one year from now, I will be doing something different than the things I’ve done before. It makes me feel a little itchy. I like old things and familiar things, but sticking to old and familiar things and growing up are mutually exclusive, and I know which one I’m going to choose, and it’s not the easier one.
The hardest and most important part of learning new things is remembering them. The scariest part of doing new things is forgetting the old ones.
I want to remember college and I want to remember this. I want to remember being eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. I want to remember my dorm room and my apartment. I want to remember my people – my friends, my roommates, my classmates, my professors, those random people I was friends with for like two days freshman year and then not anymore at all, and the people I’ve been running into but never actually spoken to for the past three-ish/four-ish years.
I want to remember the places I went and the things I did and all the times I jumped into the lake. I want to remember learning to cook and re-learning to ride a bike in DC over spring break sophomore year and learning who to call when I ran out of gas for the second time in a month. I want to remember the night when life felt like an episode of Friends. I want to remember watching just the Jim and Pam episodes of The Office on girls’ nights. I want to remember how much cookie dough I ate late at night when I should have eaten nothing at all, and how much I don’t even regret it.
People say, “this, too, shall pass,” during hard times, and it makes said hard times seem less permanent. During grand times and during youth and during college, however, people don’t say that. I think they should, because hard times are not the only times that shall pass. All time passes, and the speed at which it does so can’t be controlled.
A great (and scary-looking) man once said –

There are no happy endings,
Endings are the saddest part.
So just give me a happy middle
and a very happy start.

– Shel Silverstein

a great (and scary-looking) man
Even if things end well, they end sadly, because endings are fundamentally “the saddest part.” The ending of things, although necessary and sometimes a little overdue, is sad. The Head and the Heart says, “all things must end, darling,” and they must. If you love something, you should let it go, but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt – maybe even a lot.
I had a “happy middle and a very happy start” to college. And (the beginning of) the end of college isn’t the end of life. It’s a necessary push, an “umph” to what’s next – new places, new roles, new patches of sky.
Love,

Lauralicious