Monthly Archives: December 2015

2016 Awakens

No need to panic – there will be no spoilers in today’s post. But I do recommend going to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. You may want to familiarize yourself with the original trilogy beforehand, but you don’t need the prequels. Save yourself from Jar Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen’s terrible acting.

But, we all know that 2016 is upon us. In some parts of the world, it’s already here, hard to believe as it is. I’ve lived in Rochester for a solid year now, though I’m back chilling in Seattle for the holiday break. Ashdown is very kind and gives us some ample time off for this time of year. 🙂 I spent Christmas Eve here, then a few days down in Beaverton, Oregon with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, mostly watching football and eating delicious food, while sharing good fellowship and celebrating the upcoming baby Crichton. 🙂 That’s what it’s all about for us. Tonight I’ll ring in the new year with my high school friends at a church party, and on New Year’s Day, I’ll see the final movie installment of the Hunger Games series with them.

So it’s been a significant break from reality. I’m ready to go back, though, despite the recent snowstorm. It should be cleaned up by when I get back 2 days from now, if I know Minnesota well. I plan to minimize my driving during the winter because icy roads terrify me. I’ll have enough going on in town anyway.

Now, perhaps you are wondering about my New Year’s resolutions. I’m still working on them. I’ve come to realize that the most effective resolutions are ones that are less concrete. For instance, you can resolve to lose a certain amount of weight and do what you need to accomplish that, but if that’s the end goal, what’s going to motivate you to sustain it? It makes so much more sense to resolve something that you have to work on every day in the future, a mantra to keep repeating to yourself beyond just the one year. I think this comes from the part of me that wants to always be improving at something. I am a perfectionist, but I take pride in improving at what I do. I discussed in my last post that I enjoy reflecting on my life, and from this I can see where I’ve improved.

One of my favorite parts of coming home is reading through my old journals. I have all of them that I’ve written in since the age of 7 stored in a large bin. I’m so thankful that I’ve recorded my thoughts and life philosophies, because this allows me another opportunity to see self-improvement. I know that I’ve spent too many hours agonizing over what I’ve done wrong in the past, trying to figure out why I wasn’t a better person and why so much didn’t go my way. Reading my old journals gives me insight into that and faith that I am improving. It’s also difficult, though – I see my moments of depression and anxiety and relive them, traveling back in time. But the encouraging part of it is that I understand these feelings now, which I didn’t back then. I’m giving my former self the love that I didn’t give myself before. My previous post describes the self-awareness I’ve come to, which has allowed me to understand and forgive my past errors, to have more patience, and to trust myself and others. I’ve found channels for the empathy I’ve always felt. I guess you could say I feel a maternal instinct towards my younger self. I want to comfort her and tell her she’s okay the way she is. Maybe self-acceptance is just part of maturing. I know I made more long strides in that progress in 2015. It was quite a good year.

Well, I’m going to get a head start on good physical health in 2016 as well as mental and emotional. And let’s hope that last week’s dud from the Seahawks was an aberration.

May 2016 be a year of improvement for us all!

Brita

Controlling My Destiny… Or Not

After an upsetting 2-4 start, the Seattle Seahawks are suddenly themselves again. Maybe even better. I certainly thought so watching them from the stands of TCF Bank Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 6. They’re now in line to make the playoffs, and at this moment, they control their own destiny. In other words, they’re not depending on anyone else’s games to get onto the playoff pace – as long as they win, they’ll be in. And that seems almost probable.

Now, what does this mean in terms of actual important stuff? Well, I’ve written before about the ways the Seahawks’ team philosophy has helped me keep a positive view on life, so this is kind of related. I reflect often on how I’ve come to be where I am. Partly that’s due to being asked so often why I’m in Minnesota after growing up in Seattle. Yes, it is my choice to be out here – I controlled part of my own destiny making that choice. But I didn’t get to have it without influence beyond me.

When I was about 18, I had all these plans in my mind of what my life was going to turn out to be. I was off to Luther College (another moment of controlling my destiny by choosing it) and in a relationship I was excited about. I knew many others who were going to Luther through Lutheran Summer Music, so I figured my social scene was set too. A double major in English and music sounded totally doable. Then after college, I would return to Seattle and work for a newspaper, teaching cello lessons on the side and writing art songs for fun, while being blissfully married and raising beautiful children. Sounds great, right?

No one likes to be wrong. And especially not to be told they’re wrong. If you’d told me at the end of my senior year of high school that approaching age 24, I’d be single (but not lonely), living in Rochester, MN, writing about beading, and playing in a worship band, how would I have responded? With shock, no doubt. Maybe I wouldn’t like the fact that I’m not close with many of the people I started college thinking would become my best friends, but I do still have a close friend group that developed my freshman year. I know I’d be upset with the way I’ve handled dating, but perhaps not more than I’m upset with my teenage self right now for being so stupid about it and stuck in the wrong mindset for years. I feel like I have to walk carefully to avoid falling back into it.

That’s the power of reflection. You see your mistakes and beat yourself up. Of course I know that’s not productive. The goal should be to figure out why the mistakes happened. I think I have some semblance of an answer to many of my social problems: I lacked understanding of myself and others. In my little box of belief that I controlled my destiny, I wanted to make people like me by my own actions. Not only did this not seem to work, I felt exhausted in trying. I knew I was an introvert, but I didn’t understand what it meant. I loved being alone, but I thought that made me dysfunctional. I didn’t thrive in my high school’s social environment, so I thought that meant I had to fix something I was doing. I believed I was repulsive because no one wanted to date me, then felt validated when someone finally did in 2009. And that came with its own can of worms. The rise of social media didn’t help.

I also know now that I occasionally have problems with anxiety. It proved to be more of a problem in college when the destiny I supposedly controlled wasn’t coming to fruition. On top of that, I was trying to figure out my values. There were things I thought I was “supposed” to believe, partly because I am Christian, but the root of it was that my then-boyfriend believed them (very deeply, to his credit) and to make my ideal situation work out, I had to believe them too. The fact that I wasn’t certain made the anxiety worse. And so on. It tore me apart.

Misunderstanding myself and others around me has cost me relationships, no doubt. I’ve beat myself up over this enough. But, God provides us with abilities and opportunities to learn and improve – that’s what grace is! Various things in college helped me see beyond this need to control my destiny, which, as I discovered on the way, perhaps wasn’t what I wanted at all. I just wanted to know what was going to be next in my life. But you can’t know where you’re going to be in 5 years, even if everything seems clear in your life at the moment. There are opportunities, hopes, and dreams that will come to you, and probably not at the moments you’re looking for them. There’s one dream I had in 2013 that I’ll never, ever forget. It changed the direction my mind was going, forcing me to stop, break down, and examine everything. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be writing about this today! It helped me open up to the possibilities that I didn’t see while blinded by my plans. That’s not to say it’s wrong to have plans – I’d never get anything done without them. But they can change.

So, I’m okay with being “wrong” about where I’ve ended up. Now that I am independent and stable, I’m open to what will come that’s out of my control. Of course I’ll make mistakes still and fear that I haven’t moved beyond my former self. But I’ll acknowledge them, apologize, not repeat them, and go forward. And I’ll live free in the faith that my destiny isn’t concrete, nor is it something I can know. Besides, there are no playoffs for life – you don’t need to control your own destiny. 🙂

I guess I didn’t mention any of my recent life events in this post other than attending the Seahawks game. I haven’t written since November 2. But this does cover much of what I’ve been thinking about in that time period. I went to Christmas at Luther about a week and a half ago, so that was an opportunity to reflect as well. And I spent Thanksgiving in Muscatine, IA with my former roommate Laura. I’ll be heading home to Seattle in 6 days, where I’ll try to relax while comprehending all the changes that have taken place in my family. It’s hard, but good. Who knows if I’ll blog again before 2015 ends, but I’ll do my darndest.

Go Hawks,

Brita