First Day as a Writer — Oof

Dear Readership,

Yesterday was my first full day as a self-identified writer and let me tell you, it was rough. After battling my way out of my own mental prison and choosing to wholeheartedly pursue my passion for writing, I immediately hit a wall.

I received AMAZING support from you all for my decision to drop out of grad school and I cannot begin to express how much it meant to me. But for every 10 or 15 comments of overwhelming praise and encouragement, I received one of skepticism or critique. It was always veiled as concern, but it was barbed nonetheless. For some reason those criticisms echoed so much louder in my spirit and resolve than the praise did and I was faced with the reality that from here on out I’ll have to defend my career choices to the world (and, maybe a little more terrifying, to myself). It’s not an easy, clear, obvious, or even necessarily lucrative path. But it’s my path now and the full weight of what that was going to mean was starting to sink in.

Here I was, day one — a writer, and (by the delightful odds of God’s timing) just in time to start NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month). I set myself a goal of 2,000 words a day and (as this confession is about to detail) IMMEDIATELY failed to meet it.

Yesterday morning, for the first time, I was faced with the total liberty to spend my time writing and I was suddenly overwhelmed by my freedom.  I pursued other projects (I worked on some drawing techniques — technically still productive, but not what I was supposed to be doing), I called my mom, I looked for jobs, I cleaned my room (kind of.. we all know my room has never been/will never be clean. I just rearrange the mess until I get bored or it looks more presentable. It is one of my greatest flaws).

Finally, I opened my novel file and read through a little of what I had written so far. It wasn’t terrible. Now it was time to add to it. I couldn’t.

So I dug a book off my bookshelf that my sister had lent me AGES ago and that I had neglected to read. It’s one of her absolute favorites (Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty for anyone who is interested). I decided to run myself a bath a read for a bit to try to find inspiration. The tub filled about 4 inches before my teaspoon-sized water heater ran out of hot water. I turned the tap off and sat there, my butt crack barely covered by the tepid bath water, and read.

The book is about a little girl who secretly lives in the basement of the Biltmore during its heyday who encounters a force of great evil (the man in the black cloak), a ghoulish figure who preys on children staying at the Estate. Through a series of plot twists and unlikely friendships, Serafina sets out to stop him (at least, that is my assessment so far. I’m only about 150 pages deep). It’s honestly a very engaging read, but unexpectedly terrifying. It’s full of vivid descriptions and very action driven. I was so engrossed I nearly jumped out of my skin (you know, since it was the only thing I was wearing) when my phone buzzed on my bathroom counter. I sent my little sister a strongly worded text about recommending scary books without warning.

At that point I was so high strung that I couldn’t read anymore (I’m an absolute baby when it comes to scary things), so I climbed out of the tub and told myself that’s it, Sierra. Now you HAVE to write. 2,000 words aren’t just going to appear out of thin air. 

I then proceeded to find other things to do for the next three or four hours. At that point, it was 11:30pm. November first was almost over and I hadn’t even started writing. What was wrong with me? My room was hot. I couldn’t focus. I was thirsty. I felt daunted by the realization of my decision.

But I was determined to not fail the very first day!

That’s when it finally occurred to me that I was not properly dressed for the task. I remembered back to a few weeks ago when Bryce had been helping me go through my clothes (yes, I only unpacked most of my clothes a few weeks ago. Bite me) and we had been trying to pare down some of the excess. He held up a brightly colored, floral, tank top housecoat between two fingers

Him: Sierra, what is this? Can we please get rid of it?
Me: NO! *snatches it out of his hands* that’s my inspiration smock. I wear it when I write.
Him: *sighs* okay, I’ll put it in the keep pile.

Where had we put it! I dug through a few piles and found it! Ah-ha! Now I was ready to write. I donned my smock, grabbed my laptop, and crawled into my (now drained) bathtub to write. I’m not exactly sure why I felt like I could be my most productive sitting fully clothed in an empty tub, but my instincts weren’t wrong. The writing was slow going, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going with it, but I was writing. At 1:58am I became so tired I was falling asleep as I typed. I actually wrote the following sentence (I found it this morning):

“But if he means to make his business here a production one, well, he’d be a good not to except.”

Um, what? I was done. There was no point in writing anything else. It was nonsense.

I checked my word count: 1,774.

I hadn’t made it. I hadn’t written 2,000 words. I was so disappointed in myself as I crawled into bed and fell asleep. Day one as a writer had not gone to plan.

But you know what? Life goes on. This morning I woke up — Day two of officially being a writer and in much better spirits. I had received more praise, and also more push back, but today the critique felt a little smaller. My resolve felt a little stronger.

Word count goal of the day: 2,226. I’m ready.

Until next time,

Adieu

P.S. in case you’d like to see it, I’ve included a picture of me wearing my inspiration smock. I expect it will become a regular staple of my wardrobe again.

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Radical Life Changes and Other Such Nonsense

Dear Readership,

So I’ve done something extreme and a bit more permanent than dyeing my hair — As of this morning, I have dropped out of grad school and I’ve honestly never felt more liberated.

NC State has an incredible history grad program, wonderful faculty, a fantastic graduate student body, and yet, I have been wholly and entirely miserable for the last three months while enrolled here. At first I thought it was because I was in a new environment and processing it poorly (as I do), but soon enough Raleigh became my home. Then I thought it was because I was overwhelmed by the workload. But I recently learned what I had to do to make the grades I wanted. It was totally manageable and still I was unhappy.

Nothing was wrong, and yet, I hated every minute I invested into a field that had once delighted and invigorated me. Somewhere along my journey all the joy had been drained out of academia for me.

After a very thorough examination of my deepest, most intimate aspirations (both personally and vocationally) and a lot of prayer,  I realized what two things matter to me the most: my desire to have a family, and my writing.  It soon became clear that those two criteria were reshaping my vision for my future.

I very quickly realized this semester that the workload of an MA program is largely incompatible with my relationship with Bryce and with our goals as a couple. From the beginning we wrestled with knowing exactly what our dynamic should look like since he had finished school and I was digging in deeper to the next level of education. I needed to devote every waking moment to school and he just wanted to be able to spend time with me (to be clear, I am in no way blaming Bryce for my decision. He did not pressure me in any way to give up — in fact — he really encouraged me to stick with it and has always tried to facilitate productive study time for me. But as he continues to matter to me more and more, the strain that I felt school putting on our relationship made sticking with the masters matter to me less and less). 

You see, he and I have done a TON of fun things together this semester, especially in the last month (festivals and parties and visiting friends) and it 100% put me behind in every conceivable way. I was getting the regular workload done (sometimes barely), but I wasn’t making any headway on end of the year projects — not to mention thesis research — and it was because my darling fiance/adventure buddy wanted to spend time with me.

One night last week he asked if we could go out with a couple of friends for a drink and before I had the chance to answer, he said, “Never mind, I know you have reading to do and I don’t want you to be stressed. Let’s not go.” He clearly wanted to go, but he also was trying so hard to not be a distraction for me. That’s when it really hit home: I don’t want to spend the next seven years of my life putting him off or making excuses for why we can’t do things together while I’m buried deep in some archive doing research that I will likely eventually give up to raise my kids anyway (and I know that abandoning my career to have a family is not the only choice, but I am beginning to realize that this particular career path is fairly incompatible with the way that I want to raise my children).

Which leads to another reason I have decided to give up school — I want to start a family  someday (not right away, but sooner rather than later). Watching Ben and Savannah anticipate the arrival of sweet little Edmund Charles over the past few months has awakened in me the realization that I don’t want “someday” to be in my mid 30s after I’ve finished a masters, a PhD, and have situated myself in a career at a university (that may require me to move across the country away from my family). Bryce and I certainly aren’t ready for children yet, but I have been becoming less and less sure that I want to spend our pre-kid years slaving towards a career that I may ultimately choose to give up when we do start a family. It occurred to me that maybe it made more sense to close the door on this chapter of my life before I dedicate the entirety of my 20s to it, and to begin pursuing something that aligns better with my vision of the future. I haven’t always wanted to be a professor — that was a goal that arose my junior year of college — but I have always wanted to be a mom. 

Then I started thinking, “Okay, if I drop out, what do I do? What’s next for me?”

It then occurred to me that I have spent every free minute since starting school (and even quite a few minutes that were not technically free) working on my various writing projects. I’ve written FB posts and blog posts, I’ve worked on my novel, my graphic novel, another comic project, the memoir I’m writing for Dusty, heck, I even wrote some fanfiction for a web comic I really like. TO BE CLEAR, I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN FANFIC BEFORE IN MY LIFE but suddenly it was the most important thing to me when I was faced with needing to do research.

As I thought back on it, I became acutely aware of the fact that all of those stolen afternoons when I was working on my own writing projects were the only real pockets of joy I have found in the work that I was doing this semester.

I have always had an interest in history, but what I am passionate about is writing. At some point early on I convinced myself that that writing wasn’t a viable career for me and I gave it up before I ever even started. I think it took a semester of grad school to remind me what I’ve really loved all along.

So I dropped out. I’m going to get a job so I can keep paying my bills and I am going to write like I’ve never written before. For the first time in my life (since becoming literate) I won’t have other homework, tests, or papers vying for my attention. I am going to bury myself in books for inspiration and I am going to write my ever-loving butt off.  I’ll keep you all updated on how it goes.

Grad school has been a revelatory period of transition — it has stretched me, challenged me, overwhelmed me, enlightened me, and clarified for me the things that really matter to me.

I know that the choice that I am making is ridiculous. I am walking out on a competitive program and giving up a fellowship that I won’t be able to get back. Heck, I’m not even finishing out the semester to ensure that I keep the credits for what I’ve already done if I ever decide to go back.

When I told one of my professors this morning that I was leaving, he was shocked.

“Are you struggling in your other classes?” He asked.

I said, “Actually, no. I’m not struggling in any of them. I think I’m making all A’s. But I’m done.”

Because while all of the factors I have listed so far are legitimate reasons for me to consider leaving school, the thing that ultimately made up my mind was encountering direction from God through prayer. He very clearly led me to NC State and now He is very clearly leading me away. As crazy as my decision sounds, even to me, I am ready to be blown in whatever direction life’s wild winds (and the holy spirit) take me.

I don’t regret starting grad school because it was an important season for me. But I also don’t regret walking away. It turns out that what I thought was my end goal was just God’s stepping stone to the next thing He has in store for me. So here’s to taking the next step!

Until next time,

Adieu

 

 

 

 

Chunky and a lil Traumatized

Dear Readership,
It’s been unforgivably long. I know. I have a whole list of unposted blogs that I wrote and then decided I hated. What can you do?
The following (horror) story is meant for my fellow chunky ladies, but even if you find yourself not in that category, feel free to read on…
Today I went up a jean size (translation: today I ACKNOWLEDGED that I went up a jean size. I have deliberately been wearing dresses and leggings since I got back from my five week binge diet of daily wine and bread in Spain this summer because I didn’t want to recognize the truth that I had totally packed on some pounds). But today it was chilly. Today I wanted to wear jeans. Today I chub-rubbed through the inner thigh of the only pants that fit me, so today I faced the music and sized up.
Because let’s be honest, the only thing worse than grabbing the next biggest size up is trying to stuff your flab into a pair of pants that USED to fit, breaking a sweat while your wrestle your fat ass into them, having to hold your breath so you can button them, and then watching the rolls spill over the top while the waist band cuts off blood flow to your lower extremities.
After I had grabbed a few pairs of jeans to try on, I made my way toward the dressing room. By coincidence, I just happened to pass by the shapewear section on the way. I paused to look at the choices and decided to give it a go. Now, I already have a pretty solid variety of spanx at home (the kind that squeezes your legs, the kind that squeezes your abdomen SO severely you feel like a 18th century courtier who is prone to fainting spells and hysteria because she can’t effing breathe, the kind that looks kinda like a wet suit, and of course the kind that’s basically glorified granny panties). For whatever reason though, something about buying a larger jean size made me feel the need to try a new set of shapewear on (as if somehow NEW shapewear could eradicate fat better than what I already have? Idk). The pair I picked up looked pretty intense and it boasted having “anti slip technology.”
I didn’t really think of it at the time, but you’re more clever than me. You know what anti-slip means, right? IT MEANS THE INSIDE IS FULL OF RUBBER.
Now, for those of you who chose to read this despite not personally identifying as a chunky lady, allow me to explain to you really quickly what exactly it’s like to wear shapewear.
Imagine you have a daughter. Your daughter has a lot of Barbies. The Barbies wear a lot of nylon/spandex. One day you’re chilling at home and you come across one of these Barbie outfits and you think to yourself “I could probably fit in that.” So you decide to take your giant, naked, jiggly adult body and CRAM it into literal doll clothes. Imagine how hard that would be. THAT is what it’s like to put on shapewear.
So I go into the changing room and strip down to my undies in front of a full length mirror (ew) and then decided to try the shapewear first to get it over with. Now, again, for those of you who are spanx virgins (that sounds dirtier than it is), allow me to share with you the cardinal rule of shapewear: NEVER, EVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PUT IT ON OR REMOVE IT WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF A MIRROR. You know how a can of biscuits looks when you bust it open? How the white, doughy rolls ooze and spill out of the cracks? Now imagine that times roughly 1,000 — that’s removing shapewear. Now imagine that in slow motion and reverse — that’s putting on shapewear.
All round I give it a 10/10 for shattering the self esteem of literally anyone (and I say this as someone who believes that she is chubby and gorgeous. Being fat doesn’t really rattle my opinion of myself, but putting on shapewear definitely does).
So hear I am, standing in a room full of mirrors, staring at my own pasty, smushy body, and I decided to stuff myself into that tiny, rubber-coated, Barbie-sized spandex wet suit while making eye contact with my own reflection (AKA, I decided today would be a good day to learn to hate myself). Because you know what feels worse than the feeling of insecurity (and let’s face it, getting winded) while wrestling yourself into shapewear?
Um, how about the sensation of every single hair getting methodically plucked out as you try to yank some rubber-lined micro shorts over your flabby unshaved body!
I’m not sure what the fitting room attendant thought I was doing (based on my grunts, screams, and expletives), but I know that when I looked at myself I was staring into the eyes of a slightly unhinged madwoman.
There were literal tears streaming down my face.
When I  was finally done (and I had managed to stop sobbing) let me tell you, I looked gooood and I knew it. But I also knew that I would rather eat glass shards than try to take the contraption back off, much less ever put it on again. Rest assured, it did not find a new home with me this day. After I peeled it off  I was happy to grab my new jean size and get the hell out of the store before I had any more bright ideas.
Is there a lesson in this? I mean, I guess you could make an argument for “love your body the way it is” (which, for the record, I do. Extra chub and all, I am usually pretty happy in my own skin). That’s all well and good, but I think the real lesson is “No matter what you do, no matter where you go, what you think, or who you become, never try to put rubber spanx on over unshaved legs. Ever.”
Nobody deserves that kind of suffering.
Until next time,
Adieu

If This Is Karma, Who Did I Kill?

Dear Readership,

Ya know how some days start bad and get worse and you’re left standing there as your life burns down around you wondering what exactly you did to deserve this?

That was yesterday for me.

I woke up late and rushed to get all dolled up for an award ceremony I had right after class. I had been up later than I meant to be the night before (full disclosure — I was watching The Office so I totally brought the exhaustion on myself) and I was in need of coffee in a bad kind of way. I brewed an extra large pot and filled my biggest to-go mug. Suddenly I realized I was about to miss my bus and ran out the door in a panic — sans coffee.

When I got to campus I remembered my coffee sitting all warm and tasty on my kitchen counter. I was crushed. I needed it to get through the day. I didn’t have a lot of time, but decided it would be worth being a little late to class if I had coffee in hand because I would be more mentally present. I stood in the remarkably long line in The Wired Scholar (the library coffee shop), got my drip, and left for class at a trot. I made the decision to not get a paper sleeve for my cup because I think it is so incredibly wasteful, but (of course) I was being burned through the thin paper as a I walked.

I tried to switch hands. I squeezed the cup weird. The lid popped off and coffee sloshed. I was being burned for real by the scalding hot drink. I dropped the cup.

I only had four minutes to get to class but I spent two of them standing there staring as my wasted three dollars created an ever-widening puddle on the cobblestones and an even larger hole in my heart. My hands were turning bright pink and stung viciously, my ceremony dress had a stain from waist to hem, I was officially late, and I didn’t have any coffee to show for it. I snatched up the empty cup and stormed to my all-time least favorite class in the entirety of my college career. This wasn’t over.

After class I tried to swing back through the coffee shop to get a $1 refill, but the line was too long and I had a tutoring appointment to get to. I signed into the tutoring center right at 11 and waited for my client. 5 minutes went by, “I could have gotten coffee” I thought.

10 minutes went by, “I could have gotten coffee and cleaned my dress.”

13 minutes — the lab manager told me my client had called and said she was on her way (I’m supposed to leave if they’re 15 minutes late without notice. She called just in time to keep me). Surely she would be there any minute.

20 minutes went by — “I could have gone home, changed my dress, and gotten the coffee that I left there.”

27 minutes went by — she showed up. She said she didn’t really have any material to go over. We left.

Cool.

My time had totally been wasted, but bright side, I was finally able to get coffee and clean my dress before heading to Spanish. The professor began the lesson and immediately I had no idea what was going on (not entirely unusual for me when the prof teaches a new concept in a language I barely speak). I zoned out, irritated and over it.

After class, my mom came to pick me up so we could go to the History department honors reception before the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony. Now, the History department is remarkably bad at communication (something I could go on a very long tangent about) and I didn’t know a lot about what was happening at this reception. But the distinct impression I had been given was that it was a kind of mixer in the history department before the actual ceremony.

I’m not a huge fan of small talk, so when my mom and I struggled to find parking and ended up having to walk the full length of King Street and halfway across campus, I wasn’t terribly concerned about being late. When we walked into the room (slightly winded from our walk over) everyone was standing around chatting. Ew.

Suddenly one of my history professors grabbed me by the arm and said, “Oh, you’re here! Good. Did you get lost or something?”

“Sorry, we couldn’t find parking” I said, confused at her urgency.

“CAN I GET EVERYONE’S ATTENTION PLEASE?” She bellowed.

My heart stopped. Another professor stepped forward, “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. I know we said the formal portion of this event had ended, but one of our outstanding seniors has just arrived. Please turn your attention this way while Dr. Phipps says a few words to recognize this student.”

Oh-no. Everyone stopped talking and turned to look at me. Me — sneak in the back and talk to no one, Sierra. This was my worst nightmare. My professor did say some sweet things about me (which was lovely because I literally want to be her some day) but I wasn’t feeling honored nearly as much as I was feeling low-key shamed by the general public for my tardiness.

Flustered and a lil embarrassed, we decided to leave shortly after. Later, in the official award ceremony, I was impersonally introduced by a professor who I had never met. All he knew about me was the fact that I had served as a junior marshal the previous year (I hadn’t, btw), the fact that I was recommended for the award because I was “A good scholar and excellent writer,” and my GPA. It was a recognition that was certainly not worth my entire afternoon, but whatever.

Immediately after it was over, my mom and I drove back down the mountain to attend my baby sister’s first ever ballet recital. She’s a beginner so she and her class were in roughly 45 seconds of the whole show, but I was determined to be there for it. Unfortunately, they put a taller girl in front of her and I saw her maybe twice during her little routine.

When all added up, it was a non-stop frustrating day. Funny enough though, it was still good in the end. To spend the day with my mom, regardless of what we were doing, was lovely (No one is better at laughing off embarrassment with me than she is). To have some of my nearest and dearest friends support and cheer my up as I whined about the day’s events reminded me of what an incredible support network I’ve been blessed with these past four years and how deeply I am going to miss them in the fall. And even though I didn’t really get to see Bea dance, I would have driven twice as far to hear her scream my name and give me a running hug when she saw that I had come.

My college career has been full of overwhelming days like yesterday–days where I stand there and wonder what I did to deserve it– but after four years I am really starting to learn to roll with the punches. In the end, that’s a better gift than an award or recognition that says I write papers good. 😉

Until next time,

Adieu

NOTE: Overused word of the day — Coffee. It appears 13 (now 14) times in this post. Sadly, this is a fairly accurate representation of how often I say the word in normal conversation.

 

 

 

The Kind of Busy I Would Like to Be

Dear Readership,
I have recently reembarked on the journey of conversational emailing. What a throwback, right? My 11 year old sister got an email account and is incredibly excited to join in on correspondence in the digital age (mad props to my mom for not just handing her a smart phone right out of elementary school, but making her take baby steps into technology. I have such very strong opinions about the importance of defending innocence in childhood and I think not having instant access to the wide, wide web before you’re ready is a huge part of it). Anyway, she and I have been emailing back and forth since she got it back in February and I received an email this morning in response to something I sent a little over a week ago.
She said, “Sorry I did not get back to you sooner I have been very busy!!”
To which I responded, “No worries, darling. What have you been busy with?”
About 20 minutes later she said, “Getting first place! And singing happy birthday to Isaiah! and now I am doing math 🙄😫😮” (side note: her exploration of self expression through excessive emoji use has by far been my favorite part of this journey. Welcome to the 21st century, kiddo). 
Now, I am INCREDIBLY proud of this girly (and her duo partner, 9 year old Beatrice) for picking a story, cutting, blocking, memorizing, and competing at two different junior league tournaments (winning first place both times) with very little help from anyone. They took their dream and ran with it and it makes me a very proud speech sissy.  
 
But the real doozy of a time strain here that blows me away is that she actually had to sing happy birthday to Isaiah. I can’t believe he had the nerve to make such a demand on her time when he knows all too well that the average birthday song can take up to 30 seconds. She’s a strong, independent women and she doesn’t have time to be held back by trivialities like celebrating some measly birthday. 
 
Madness, really.
Then, of course, the dreaded math. Friend to no Patterson sister, myself especially. I know as well as anyone that a single lesson can take up to 48 hours if you are truly versed in the art of dragging out the inevitable so that it becomes a miserable experience for the entire household. I’m proud to have passed on that legacy as well. When it comes down to it, I’m surprised she found time to respond to my email at all.
And yet, as I labor through the worst time of year for any liberal arts major (when there is a 16 page term paper due in every class), I can’t help but wish I was the kind of busy she is. 😘😂😆😅😍😉 
Until next time,
Adieu

Cleverness Gone Awry

Dear Readership,

Ever had days where you thought you were in charge and then reality curb-stomped you back into your rightful place in the fetal position on the floor praying for sweet oblivion? Because that was my day today. Every time I did something to “beat the system” it would come back to bite me. Let me tell you about it…

It all started when I decided not to wear a bra this morning. And I know what you’re thinking — or, rather, one of two things you could be thinking. Either you are IMMEDIATELY uncomfortable with this post and are thinking about maybe not finishing it because you don’t think it is appropriate to discuss bosoms on the internet (is that an okay word to use? Bosoms? It is literally my LEAST favorite word for breasts, but it feels like something a Sunday school teacher would say so it’s probably okay), OR you, like me, stopped for a sec to chant “Free the tatas!” before continuing reading. Now, if you’re in the former category, you have a couple of choices:

1) leave. That’s fine. You don’t have to read this if it makes you uncomfortable.

2)  Embrace boobies! (Poor wording? Probably. But I mean it metaphorically and you know it). They’re just a body part — like elbows — and not inherently sexual. We don’t have to sexualize them. So don’t.

Either way, I decided not the wear a bra this morning. It was cold, I was cold, and I wasn’t about that mess. So I tossed on a cami and a chunky sweater and applauded myself for my cleverness. Who would ever know? (Um, try everyone. The girls hang a solid four or five inches lower when unrestrained and bounce FREELY. But you know what? That’s where God put my boobs, so who am I to say that that’s not where they belong). Now, the thing about going bra-less is sometimes things get a little crazy down there. Running is a no-go. Period. And when you have big ol’ floppy breasticles, underboob sweat is REAL (still think boobs are sexy?) especially when the sun comes out. Suddenly that chunky sweater was a mistake that I was going to deeply regret for my whole day. I couldn’t get cool no matter what I did, and I did a lot. But we’ll get to that.

So I was being slowly strangled to death by my sweater, but I was trying to make the most of it and decided to get lunch on campus with some friends. Now, to say that campus food is nasty and expensive would be an understatement, so I’ve gotten my meal order down to a science. The cafeteria in the student union offers a beans and rice special for $2 and some change which is a pretty sweet deal, but you pay for toppings by weight (and if you’re not careful with the guac, that sucker can get up to $8 sometimes. That’s where they getcha). I have figured out which toppings I consider necessary to enjoy my beans and rice, and of those, which are the lightest. Now, somewhere along the way I realized there is a free condiment pump station (ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce) and instead of paying for the very heavy sour cream and salsa, I could just get a few free pumps of mayo and hot sauce and be on my merry way a few dollars richer. So basically, I’m a genius, right?

It was rush hour meal time and I was hangry, but I wasn’t trying to spend a lot of money so I stood in a 10 minute line for beans (of which they gave me a particularly small serving) and then made my way to where we were meeting — carrying my container of beans and my toppings bowl (lettuce, cheese, olives, tomatoes, and a generous pump of mayo on top). I set my lunch on the edge of the table to take off my backpack and immediately bumped into my food and sent the toppings bowl FLYING. Most of the expensive part of my meal hit the floor, but I did manage to catch some of it… mayonnaise first… with my keys and highly textured wallet. Some very sweet friends helped me salvage what I could (and got napkins to wipe my precious money… I mean, toppings, off the floor) and I still had a pretty decent lunch. I mean, as decent of a lunch as one can have when one spends 20 minutes scraping mayonnaise out of the tiny nooks of their wallet with a mechanical pencil and reeks of America’s favorite condiment for the rest of the day. So, yeah, maybe a pump of mayo on top wasn’t my best loophole after all. Day dampened, but not ruined.

Fast forward a few hours and I am at a meeting to discuss the creative elements of our Tuesday night service for my campus ministry. I had hustled there from a class and was sweating profusely and feeling pretty miserable. We were chatting before the meeting started and I was absentmindedly fanning myself by flapping the bottom edge of my sweater. Unfortunately, with the skin-tight tank top on, my stomach wasn’t getting any air. So I grabbed the lip of my undershirt too and keep on fanning and chatting until I noticed the look of HORROR that the women’s minister was giving me from across the table. You see, I was slouched in my chair and leaned pretty far back so every time I pulled my shirt away from my body, I was pulling it UP and away and providing her with a direct visual to my bare breasts.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the displeasure of flashing your titties to a Christian leader in a church related meeting before, but there’s just not a good way to recover from that… Especially when your campus minister is sitting two seats over (thankfully on his laptop so he didn’t see anything and is graciously pretending he doesn’t hear what’s going on). But just imagine it. There is no recovery. You just pray that you’ll sink through the floor or that sweet death will take you as you curse yourself for not putting on a bra that morning, you dirty hippy.

So, yeah, that was my day. I have been firmly put back in my place by life today. Lesson learned. All I can do now is try to sleep it off and (by sharing it) laugh it off as well.

Until next time,

Adieu

How a Bottle of Lotion Reminded Me of My Self-Worth

Dear readership,

You’ll have to excuse the middle school angst vibes of this post and hear me out for a second while I make my point… today I found an old, forgotten bottle of lotion under a pile of random stuff in my room and decided to use it to moisturize my legs after I showered (lotion doesn’t expire, does it? Hopefully not, because this bottle was no spring chicken). Anyway, no sooner than I started applying it, I felt an immediate dip in my mood/self-esteem. I suddenly felt like I was an annoying person who wasn’t worthy of anyone’s time or attention and that I didn’t have anything meaningful to contribute to the world. I felt ugly, insecure, and incredibly anxious. I was about ready to burn the bottle and take a second shower to try to scrape the residue of the evil, sadness-infused lotion off of my body when I suddenly realized what had possessed me: the smell.

I used to use this lotion a lot when I was involved with a guy who made me feel all of those things about myself and I usually put some on before I saw him. The lotion made me feel so bad because my nose decided to teleport my brain back to a much darker time in the life of self-perceived Sierra. Once I consciously made the connection, the gut reaction began to fade and it was just lotion again. I have to say, the viscerally powerful link between smell and memory will never cease to amaze me. Even before I remembered the connection, my body felt it and I think that is super cool. More importantly, I was given the chance to accurately see how incredibly far I have come since then. That excruciating moment of self-loathing was almost unbearable and it’s how I used to feel about myself all of the time– Like I was barely tolerable at best. 

It was so eye-opening because back then I was convinced that I was happy. I had no idea what happiness had the potential to feel like when you’re with someone who values you or, more importantly, when you value yourself. When I was with that guy I viewed myself and what I could be through the lens of his eyes and he made it VERY clear that I didn’t amount to much. After that relationship ended, I learned the life-changing technique of looking at myself — I mean REALLY looking at myself– through Christ’s eyes. To him my worth is limitless and through him I am capable of anything. It was a slow journey to start to see myself that way and some days I still forget to do it, but when you see yourself the way someone who is willing to die for you sees you, you begin to realize all that you are and can be. That realization of worth became all the more real when I started to date someone who saw it too and who refuses to let me think poorly of myself.

The moral of this story is twofold.

1) You never know what ghosts from your past are going to pop up when you clean your room or how they’ll derail your productivity with introspection. Proceed with caution.

2) I matter. You matter. Remember that you matter. Surround yourself with people who remind you that you matter, and until you find them, remember that the same God who created the universe thought you mattered enough to die for. I think we in the Christian world say, “God thought you were worth dying for” too often so we tend to take it for granted. But stop right now and think about it. That makes you pretty dang worthy, doesn’t it?

Incredible.

Until next time,

Adieu