I love Saturdays.
I LOVE them.
Yoga, fair trade work,family time.
[Insert sigh of happiness.]
This past Saturday, I re-discovered The Justice Conference that took place over the weekend. (I was following them on Twitter, but don't remember discovering them in the first place!) Thoughts of "I wish I had known about this sooner," followed by "Oh, I guess I did," followed by, "Maybe I forgot because going to Portland would have been WAY too expensive for me" resulted in me following along through hashtags. (You can click here if you want to follow me.)
THE JUSTICE CONFERENCE is a two–day annual event to promote dialogue around justice related issues such as human trafficking, slavery, poverty, HIV/AIDS and human rights, featuring internationally acclaimed speakers, hundreds of humanitarian organizations and dozens of pre-conference workshops. [source]
Conferences are one more thing I love.
I love the refreshment and the challenging that happens when a big group of people with similar but varying passions come together.
I love meeting so many of those people.
I love hearing about issues that get at my heart from people who know much more than me.
It's been awhile since I've been to a conference. The travel, the eating out, the hotels, + the conference fee is just too much for me to handle right now.
But you guys. Next year's Justice Conference is happening in Philly. Philly is close enough to cut way down on expenses AND I was able to get the early bird rate (which is a really, really good rate, by the way.)
So I signed up...and then was immediately was unable to focus on anything else.
I am SO excited.
Do you want to go, too?
Find out more here.
Get early bird rates here.
Maybe I'll see you there?
The most frequently asked question I get on my "courage" project is, "so, what do you do?" (Quotations used because, as I've mentioned before, I'm finding that courage isn't really involved in this project at the moment. It was the starting of things that required courage, and after that? None required so far.)
I'm about a month into things, and so far, no website to document the process. People are curious.
I'll tell you that more time is going to pass before I can show you a new website. I think I went into all of this thinking that the site would be the main project, but so far, that hasn't been the case.
On Saturday mornings, I attend a yoga class. I shower, set myself up with some food, a hot drink, and water, and then I work.
"Work" is really not an accurate description because I enjoy every minute, the time flies by, and it is the kind of effort that gives me energy.
So far, my work time means I spend a lot of time gathering information. There is so much information to be found and absorbed. I'm pretty sure there will always be more to be found, and right now, I am a veritable sponge. I conduct interviews. I read articles, news reports, and product information.
I also spend my time planning and researching events, articles to be written, and ways to spread the fabulous-ness that is fair trade chocolate without getting too preachy about it. (I recently gave away 69 Equal Exchange Valentines. It was a super easy project. Assemble Valentines, hand them out, let the chocolate speak for itself. <---it's really good chocolate.)
The website will come. In fact, I'm working on that, too.
But it looks like it will be an overflow of what is already going on, rather than the main event.
So there you have it a snap shot of what I do for a few hours on Saturdays. Are there any questions you're curious about that I left unanswered?
This is my last week four days of work.
There is a slight chance that the state budget will come through, approve the right grant, and I will be back to work next Monday.
But for now?
I'm looking forward to having a summer. (I realize I'm not a teenager anymore and am not entitled to a summer vacation, but I'm looking forward to it all the same.)
I'm looking forward to...
...completely cleaning and scrubbing down my house.
...getting my nursery set-up.
...going berry picking
...cooking lots and lots (and lots) of made-from-scratch food.
...visiting my brother (and my sister if I can get a good deal on plane tickets!)
...sharing more meals with more people.
...gardening (my yard could really use a makeover, and I'm in the mood to pull and plant things.)
...making my first trip to Boston in honor of a friend's wedding.
...holding a party centered around these:
...taking a few very special kids to free IMAX movies on weekdays.
...writing (here, in cards, letters, and journals) a lot more.
...the list goes on.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
Work has gotten noticeably more challenging in the past couple of months.
There are several reasons, but I'll spare you the details.
None of those reasons are actually the star of today's show.
There are many mornings when I wake up, inwardly grumbling about waking up to the sound of an alarm and about what lies ahead.
It's silly, really. Complaining only puts me in a worse mood than I was the moment before (unless I am needing to vent, but I assure you, there is no genuine venting at 6 am for me, only whining).[Source]
On my best mornings, I usually still wake up, instinctively grumbling, to tell you the truth. But on those mornings, I nip it in the bud quick, before my pessimistic side taints more of my day than it already has.
I list things I am thankful for.
I thank God for them.
I ask God for help, essentially "rocking" my day.
And let me tell you, on those, my best mornings, I do rock my day.
Maybe I still leave work spent, but I'm satisfied.
Today was like that.
I'm thinking Mondays aren't so bad.
This afternoon, my class dwindled down to one student. This has been happening a lot lately. Most of my students are pregnant and/or have children; this, in addition to program requirements mean they tend to have a lot of appointments to keep- almost all of them (maybe all of them?) taking place during the school day.
It turned out that my one student really needed someone to listen to her.
I listened. Most of what I heard should not (and will not) be published here. But there is one thing I can tell you, and it is should be repeated (many times over).
Alexa* was in the part of her story where she explained to me the sort of advice she gave to her children regarding the future.
You're going to be somebody. You're not going to be a nobody. People you don't know are going to know you.
But Mommy, how can we do that?
You can be a doctor.
I'll admit to you right now that I thought she was talking about money making a person "somebody." All of my students live in poverty, so making lots of money is a common aspiration, as you might imagine. Alexa went on.
When you're a doctor, you meet a lot of people that you might never have seen in your life and might never see again. But you talk to them, you find out what's wrong, and you help make them better. You make their lives better. That's the kind of thing that makes you somebody.
Although I don't think that being a doctor is the only profession that offers a person a chance to "be somebody" (and in the context of the conversation, neither does Alexa) and I believe that all humans have intrinsic value, I'm inclined to agree with Alexa. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree (or something else)?
*Name has been changed to protect privacy and conversation has been paraphrased.
This morning, I was planning to write about what a grump I've been for the last 12 + hours, but...sometimes just thinking about what I want to write is great therapy for me. The good news? You are not subjected to reading words from Whiny Sarah. (Hooray!)
Also. I am fully aware of how off-centered my heart and mind were during my period of grumpiness (so it's really okay if you're thinking that I was being selfish when you read what I write here.)
And. Most of yesterday was just really great. Up until just a few weeks ago, I was carrying too much around and trying to do too many things. I ended up doing them, but doing them poorly. When that changed, I realized I like my job. That I really have it good. And after a week away, I was ready to get back to loving on and teaching my students. Yesterday was wonderful.
After work, I raced home, loaded the dishwasher, changed clothes, and headed to a yoga class. While there, I realized I was craving my mom's oatmeal, and rather than wait for breakfast to recreate it, I chose dinner. My craving was satisfied, but...a mix of the following occurrences joined together and led to one out of sorts Sarah:
The oatmeal was not quite enough, so I finished up my meal with what sounded good-cereal- when what I really needed was protein.
I have been really buying into the idea that my body (and my mind, my time, my heart) is not really my own, but I am given those things to borrow for a while by a God who created them and also loves me immensely. Those ideas really hit home when I stopped weighing myself (because really, what do numbers amount to? Care for what we've been given amounts to something, surely. But numbers? I'm not so sure.). I started thinking, acting, and eating in such a way as to be a responsible for what I've been given. But last night... I guess maybe it was the fatigue, the thoughts of the goal I made on my last birthday that I will stop binging this year, the thoughts that I just might make it the way I'm going, the ignoring of the thought that I need to be careful of being so prideful, the ignoring of the thought that I need to be responsible with how I handle my body, the paying attention to the thought that chewing sounded really good right about now.
I've been working on making Christmas gifts for my mom and my mother-in-law on Shutterfly, and the program just keeps freezing up on me. Between the feeling that my time is being wasted, my irresponsibility with my body (what I really needed to do was go to bed earlier), and my prideful attitude, I was a grump.
The general grumpiness carried on to this morning, until I realized (all over again, as I am sure I will need to continue to do) that, as a believer in God as my creator, all of this (my body, my time, my heart...) is not my own. It was not my time that was being wasted (maybe there was something more valuable to be found in those minutes), my pride that was (or is) important, or solely my body that I can treat however I want.
So, I'm climbing back on the responsible-with-and-grateful-for what I've been given train today.
Here we go.
Last Friday, I was served a fresh, local, and organic meal in the home of my favorite foodies, Kevin and Stacey. Afterward, we watched the documentary Food Matters (stopping midway for a raw fruit pizza topped with pomegranate, kiwi berries, figs, and homemade whipped topping), and I tried to soak up as much information as I could. One of the things I learned is that eating two handfuls of cashews is a natural, no-side-effects way to treat the body with the same benefits of Prozac. Because I tend to carry a dark cloud around with me during the colder, greyer months (and I haven't exactly been a ray of sunshine lately, either), I decided to start right away with what I had on hand. Yum.
So, maybe it's the cashews talking, but guess what? Today is a new day, there is never going to be another one like it, and I'm going to enjoy it.
When I am asked about a particular situation that I'm not crazy about at the moment, I'm going to get creative with my answers. Of course, there is a place for airing grievances, but too much complaining deepens discontent in the speaker and breeds it in the listener. Even if the words are said in a sweet voice- which I sometimes do and sometimes I'm just a grouch. And for all the talk, the effort, and the thought about loving people, I think I've been pushing them down with my words. With all that complaining.
And that's where I need to get my head on straight. The complaining...and also my focus on the people around me. Of course, they're important, yes, but...I call Jesus my king. I believe that he sees everything- my efforts, my hurts, my intentions, my shortcomings, my heart. I believe he wants to restore all of me- and all of everything- into wholeness, perfection, and beauty. If I call Jesus my king, then my overarching purpose is to serve him.
When I remember that, I'm relieved. Because if my purpose is to serve Jesus, then how much does it matter whether I get to see the fruits of my labor, whether I am commended by my boss or my peers? How much does it matter if someone else gets the credit for what I do, if all the situations in my life are as I want them, or if someone else thinks I'm doing enough? All those worries don't add up to much. There is something for me to do on earth that lasts forever.
When I remember that, I don't want to complain. I want to work better and harder. I want to hug people and help them up. I want to smile and point out the beautiful.
Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work. -Colossians 3:22-25
You know those people who complain a lot but never seem to do anything to change the object(s) of their complaints? You know who I'm talking about. Those people who say things like, "I wish I could..." when in all feasible reality, they could if they would just do a bit of prioritizing. They don't, but it kind of feels like it counts a little bit just to voice a desire, doesn't it?
Well. I don't want to name names, but...I am one of those people. It's true, and while I like to think I'm not easily embarrassed, right now I'm embarrassed. But that doesn't stop me from posting for anyone with internet access to see...I complain about being tired all.the.time. Or it seems that way. I complain to friends, my husband, on my blog, in my mind. I am tired and irritable, and I feel completely hindered, bogged down, muted. I feel like quitting everything.
You know what? I've been expecting myself to run on oil sludge for months. And while I've made some effort towards eating better and exercising more, I haven't really been all in. I've talked about it and thought about it, but actually doing requires work, shifting of priorities, and change. I've become one of those people who wishes she could....but doesn't.
I am going to do an experiment. For 4 weeks, I am going to
- Eat (mostly)clean
- take 2 yoga classes, run 3 times, and take one "just for fun" class (like Zumba!) each week
- get to bed by 9:30 a least 5/7 nights
And then I am going to reassess. Which will involve talking, thinking, and writing. But certainly not complaining without taking action. I'm done with that.
If you ask me, "how is work going?" on any given day, I will most likely say something like, "It depends on the day." And that is the truth. Sometimes it seems to be every other day that I am either rejoicing in the things that have gone on in my classroom or contemplating a job change. Because I am asked how work is going on a regular basis, I have received a variety of responses. Some have told me to quit, some have listened patiently, some have thoughtfully encouraged me, and some have replied with a combination of the typical responses.
I'm going to be quite honest about my job here: I am often tired because of it. I wrestle with it, I wrestle with what's next, what I'm doing. I feel both a deep satisfaction and a feeling of "this is going to be tough" about my workday most days. I like what I'm doing; I'm proud of it. Recently, I considered quitting again, doing something easier. But you know? I don't think I really want easier. I spend my days working through thick swamps of differing cultures, preconceived notions, lies, and needs. Most days, it's hard work. I'm usually not entirely sure what I'm going to encounter during my day. But y'all? I love my students. I LOVE them. They push my buttons, and on some days, I have to stubbornly stand my ground for the entire school day, but we get through it. We learn to understand each other and we work on common goals. At the end of the day, sometimes all I want to do is feel all of my built-up tension melt away but I can truthfully say the tiredness, the busyness, the pull to chomp down on donuts the "need" for coffee, and the spirit-draining moments are a result of a pretty great job.
While I am at work, I get to be a part of second chances, redemption from past mistakes,the breaking of stereotypes, and the building of some really beautiful stories. I get paid for that. So I say, a little depleted energy and frustration just might be worth it.