Your Emotions Are Valid


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I’m here today to tell you that your emotions are valid.

Your fear and anger and joy are valid. Please don’t let others bully you into thinking otherwise. Emotions are signals from your soul which you shouldn’t ignore. You should be aware of them and learn how to process them in a healthy way. Sadly I’m only just learning this, as I and many others have an unhealthy background of shame about certain emotions which has been pushed on us by others, especially within the Christian community by other Christians and the Church leadership.

Not all churches do this, of course, but it is a huge problem, especially in the Patriarchal movement (and I’ve seen it in other types of churches, too.)

Why is the Christian church so determined to squelch certain emotions? After all, what are emotions but something God created for us to understand and process? This is a real problem that happens to real people and it needs to be addressed by somebody! 

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As a teenager I thought I couldn’t feel confidence because at church it meant I wasn’t thinking of myself as a humble worm that barely deserved God’s mercy for being a sinner. I quickly learned that to express fear for something was to show I wasn’t a strong Christian who didn’t trust God enough.

To speak my opinions or thoughts as woman was not seen as living honestly but as not having a “meek and quiet spirit” and “not being submissive to your father’s leadership.”

I’ve seen others swallowed in depression because their church shamed them for their feelings and verbally abused them into thinking they simply had weak faith. My own mom, who felt distrust in her marriage, was told by both my Bible thumping father and several elders, that she just needed to “trust” him more, to follow him blindly because that showed stronger faith.

This is a crisp example of spiritual abuse dealt out by the church itself, in the form of literally telling people what they are feeling is wrong.

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Even the emotion joy is trampled on within the Church, in my experience.

After watching Star Wars for the first time in 2011, my sister and I fell in love with the films. However our Baptist friends were so concerned with critically analyzing them for Biblical flaws that we began to hide our joy. That way we wouldn’t be interpreted as passive Christians who wouldn’t take “every thought captive.” We had the same experience when The Avengers later came out in 2012.

I know many Christians can face this over the experience of Harry Potter as well. Isn’t that awful?

God gave us emotions to find joy in love and to grow despite fear, so why are we told that fear is bad? The Church should help us in our journey and NOT tell us that what we’re feeling is wrong.

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The Church should never tell me my emotions are invalid. Sadly, many of them do anyway and at twenty years of age I now know they are wrong to do so. So that’s why I’m writing this: Not to say the Church is hopeless or to say that every Christian Church-Goer is like this, but to simply say from me to you:

You Are Valid.

I want you to know this. What you are thinking and feeling right this moment is valid. Do not be guilted by someone who can quote scripture more fluently then you that somehow what you feel is not true for you. Emotions were given to us by God, so embrace them, process them, learn from them, enjoy them: Because that’s what they are there to do.

Don’t tell yourself, “No, I can’t be angry, that’s a sin.” Instead, ask, “Why am I angry?” and get to the root of the problem instead. Anger is a warning sign that something must be mended–either within yourself or in the environment around you. You put yourself in danger by trying to hide it. How can you keep a house from flooding without acknowledging you can see the water creeping through the cracks?!

Even Jesus had a righteous anger: He didn’t smother it, he expressed it. That’s the key.

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The same goes for discomfort and contentment. Annoyance and anxiety. Guilt and love. You name it, that emotion is a valid signal that no one should shame you for having. Work through your feelings with safe people who can validate you as a person; people who show empathy instead of shame; people who can relate to you as a human.

Along these lines, don’t let Christians try to twist your story into a mirror image of their own by shaming you for your struggles or even for liking something they personally don’t care for. *sigh* Why couldn’t I have just enjoyed Star Wars?

God has made you as you with your own journey and your own interests that are different from others and that’s okay. You’re likes and dislikes are valid too.

Something to watch out for is Scripture to be used against validating your emotions, such as the verse that goes:“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” This verse has been twisted, in my experience, to mean: “Don’t trust your feelings and inner signals because it’s all a façade, you can’t trust yourself at all, so listen to what I have to say instead.” Beware.

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Yes, of course, we all make mistakes. We are all flawed within our hearts. However, that does not make our God-given emotions invalid, gosh darn-it! This scripture should be used to look within and not out at others. Sadly Christians have battered me with such a verse for having emotions that they think doesn’t exhibited faith or reformed Christian head knowledge!

No one should judge you against their own life’s journey because they think a scripture verse allows them to. This is wrong, it is spiritual abuse and it can mess up your head very badly in connection to something beautiful, like real-life faith. Such Bible-beating must stop.

I want to make it clear here as I bring this towards an ending, that this post is not targeted specifically at anyone, even though I can think of several people who’ve specifically done this towards my family (when I speak family, I exclude my dad because he was one of the abusers.) And I’m not trying to say that those who’ve abused scripture are necessarily meaning to be cruel. I think many of those people were simply trying to hide their own emotions and by examining others instead were able to be distracted.

We are all in need of empathy and understanding but that does not mean we should simply submit ourselves to abuse.

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So, I am specifically attempting to bring light on a subject of spiritual abuse that has chased my family for many years. I want people to be aware of this problem because it needs to be recognized by unsuspecting victims, well-meaning abusers, and people who stand by completely ignorant either way. This is a problem. 

It’s time that the Christian Church stops invalidating the spectrum of human emotion and instead aid their flocks into maturity and mental health by processing those emotions instead of burying them.

But that could be a long time coming.

So please just know from me: You are special. You are wonderfully created to have strengths and weakness which will give you a life-long journey of discovery and growth. You have interests which God has placed in you, with emotions that are there for a reason. So treasure them, respect them, and learn from them.

And never let anyone tell you ever again that you are not valid.

~Jamie

A Weird Week


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I did finish The Night Circus this week!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Easter weekend! I didn’t do anything except eat deviled eggs and do laundry, so I hope you have better stories to tell than I do. I didn’t even eat Peeps, which I’m mad about. I need to get to Wal-mart pronto. XD

So this past week has been weird. My crown lengthening happened on Monday; it has been uncomfortable (and gross) for the past week. I’ve been in my room most of the time, mostly because my diet shrank to consist of only soft foods, which made my overall energy drop. I get irritable when I’m hungry/uncomfortable/in pain/can’t eat meat so, you get the picture. My tooth is gradually getting better, though, and the stitches dissolved last night! (My computer and internet was also fussy this week, which made me fussy too. Thankfully its all sorted out now. :D)

I have nearly finished a full Harry Potter Marathon; I only have the two-parter left. It was all quite an accident–I like the first one because the kids are cute and it’s just a happy movie so I put it in for comfort the night of surgery. Then each night I’ve just put the next one in and here I am. XD The Half-Blood Prince might be my least favorite because it’s so depressing…it’s a good movie but it sure left me sad.

The good thing about this week is that I did make progress on shows I’ve wanted to see before comic-con! I started the very famous Attack on Titan. I get what all the fuss was about a couple of years ago, and thankfully I’ve been able to avoid spoilers. I also got to start Free! and now I’m addicted to the ending. XD

One of the better things that happened last week was that I got my first birthday present of the year from my best friend–Princess Jellyfish on DVD! It came on Tuesday when the internet was out, so I was able to watch most of it before it we got it fixed: Perfect timing! It’s my favorite anime so I can’t wait to watch all the bonus features! (I should clarify to mention my birthday is in July, which is why this was such a fun surprise! XD)

The only other from this week worth sharing is that my parents’ divorce is nearly finalized, which makes me very happy. I’ll be discussing certain topics pertaining to it in the upcoming months. :)

So, that’s been my week; how was yours?

~Jamie

A Lyric Medley


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I have a diverse taste in music; my cousin recently asked me what my favorite type of music was and I couldn’t even answer as I didn’t know where to start. I like a bit of everything–well, I’m not really into country or bubble gum pop…but I will listen to pretty much everything else if the song grabs me. So, this lyric/music tag should be really fun to do!

Thank you, Tara, for tagging me with this. I’m so sorry it took me so long to get it finished. :)

A song that describes me perfectly.

Roar by Katy Perry. This song resonated with my past when I first heard it, and it’s been my unofficial theme song ever since. “You held me down but I got up/Already brushing off the dust/You hear my voice, you hear that sound/Like thunder, gonna shake the ground.”

The happiest song I know.

Is it too cliche to say Happy by Pharrell Williams? It’s literally called happy. I walked the dogs to this song for weeks because it was so upbeat (and repeated well). “Because I’m happy/ Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof/Because I’m happy/Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” Hee-hee, the lyrics sometimes feel a bit odd but it’s still a really bouncy song.

A song that makes me want to dance.

Flyers by Bradio. I want to jump along the rooftop when I hear this song. It’s still one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, especially when paired with the Death Parade animation. “Everybody, put your hands up!” (Also Shake It Off by Taylor Swift should be mentioned, because that’s the perfect dancing song.)

A song that makes me feel rebellious.

Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling. This song makes me want to break barriers, smash walls, leave my shell. Violin and dubstep has never sounded so amazing together. Lzzy Hale has a great voice! (Also the music video is incredible.) “Somebody shine a light/I’m frozen by the fear in me/Somebody make me feel alive/And shatter me.”

A song about a story.

This is an unconventional answer, but Lazy Scranton (which, I’m sure, Michael Scott once again plagiarized from a different song) is such a fun rap from The Office–I think of the story of The Office when I think of Michael and Dwight’s incredibly cheesy music video. That show is boss.

“They call it Scranton/What?/The Electric City/Scranton/What?/The Electric City.”

A song that would play during the apocalypse.

The Regulator by Clutch. Maybe it’s because I originally heard it on The Walking Dead, but I see this song playing over an apocalypse in slow motion. I really like how it starts off fairly slow and then builds. “Dream with the feathers of angels stuffed beneath your head/The regulator’s swinging pendulum//Come with me and walk the longest mile.”  (I used to go for runs with this song and pretend zombies were after me. I tell you those were my best workouts.)

A “I can’t even” song.

Don’t Stay by Linkin Park. I can’t even about this song because I detected the voice of my longest running main character singing it when I first hear it–I could hear him sing to his nemesis, his best friend, and himself–bitter, scarred, resentful…the song itself seems like a breakup song, but that’s never how I hear it. “Sometimes I feel I trusted you too well/ Sometimes I feel like screaming at myself/Sometimes I’m in disbelief I didn’t know/Somehow I need to be alone.”

A song that gives me chills every time I hear it.

Chandelier by Sia. I resonated a lot with the hopeless-sounding emotion that this sound resonates. It’s an old, familiar feeling from a few years back, only more beautiful-sounding. “I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier/I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist/Like it doesn’t exist/I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry.”

A song of hope.

The Lost Get Found by Britt Nicole. This was one of the first Christian pop songs I heard as a teenager, and the beat and lyrics struck me and have stayed like a pin with me ever since. “Don’t let your lights go down/Don’t let your fire burn out/’Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe.”

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I’m going to tag: Faith, Emily, Maribeth, S, and Grace. Here are the tag rules for anyone else who’d like to do it–I didn’t follow it very closely to be honest, lol.

The rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Make a collage that represents your taste in music to go along with your tag post.

3. List a song for each of the 10 questions (or make up your own!) and include your favorite lyrics from that song, if you’d like. If you want to explain why you chose that song, that’s cool too – go crazy with it!

4. Tag at least 5 bloggers

~Jamie

My Small City Bus Adventure


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Monday through Wednesday, I attend a GED preparation school; within the past few of weeks, I’ve ridden home on the bus by myself twice. My first bus ride was an experience to say the least, from which I learned a variety of small lessons. Now I’m sure people have had worst experiences then this on the bus, but for being my first bus ride alone, it was an experience enough for me.

Of course it doesn’t help that my school is not in a nice part of town. However, in a big place like Phoenix, bad neighborhoods twist like veins throughout the entire city–there’s almost no avoiding that problem anyway. City life is not as glamorous as one might think.

When I’m by myself, I naturally walk very fast–mostly from walking the neighbor dogs. So, I was briskly trotting along down the street with my heavy school folder pack in my arms. It was quite warm (yes, it was a warm week for an AZ February), and I had several blocks to walk the right bus stop (a five to seven minute walk from the school to the stop, if you walk really fast).

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An African American guy on his phone passed me, then doubled back calling after me. He spoke in smooth compliments and huffed along to keep up with me. Then he tried to give me the tiniest fold of paper square you’d ever seen–he called it a souvenir but I was pretty sure it concealed a phone number for drugs. I said no thank you and he immediately stopped following me, which made me feel relieved but uneasy at the same time.

I skidded up to the bus stop and sat down on the shaded bench. In a laundromat parking lot behind me, about twenty Hispanic gentleman mulled about waiting for work, which did not make me very comfortable. Already at the stop was a man sitting on his bike, enthusiastically speaking Spanish to his phone but he didn’t bother me.

I fished about in my pack for a book but a Hispanic homeless-looking man, who appeared about seventy, came roaming up the sidewalk. He sat himself next to me, not close but still right there in my company. Between bits of silence, he told me his name, that he could understand what the man on the bike was saying and that I was pretty. I responded as naturally as I could but I turned my attention to my book so he would get the message that I wanted to read.

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About ten minutes later a guy in a khakis and button up shirt came huffing up the sidewalk, the stop obviously his destination. He loudly asked if I had two dollars he could borrow for the bus fare (he swore profusely for his boss calling him in on overtime). He asked the bike guy then darted around to the parking lot to ask the people in the parking lot.

The old homeless man, Pueblo, said “Why give him money? I wouldn’t give him money. You won’t see it again!” And I nodded in agreement while flattening open my library book with frustration and checked to see if the bus was in sight. The guy soon came with two dollars and continued to swear up and down the sidewalk in front of me about how unhappy he was (he literally did not stop talking about it even after the bus came some time later).

For the thirty-five minute wait  my reading was disturbed by small remarks by Pueblo and the F word. I felt both uneasy and serenely calm at the same time–not sure how, exactly. The bus AT LAST pulled down the street and stopped. Pueblo said goodbye to me as I nearly pounced on the bus steps. I scrambled into the bus, double checked with the driver that it would pass my stop, and sat down as fast as I could near the closest woman.

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The bus took off and I stared holes out the window to watch for my stop, even though it was ten minute drive down the road. I yanked the cord just before my stop and jumped out too fast.

As I began my trek into my neighborhood, my frustration began to emerge, now that I was alone. By this time, the uptight wait for the bus combined with the heat (and the stress I was dealing with over my computer issues), had worn me down. By the time I reached home my arms were exhausted from my heavy load and I was very hungry and hot (as I’d walked too fast downhill).

My mom let me complain at the kitchen table. Getting home is usually a quick process when she picks me up. Having missed the bus at noon and then the bus being late, coupled with the walking: It had taken me a full hour to get home on my own, while avoiding a drug dealer, busy traffic, homeless people, and a very germy bus ride in a heat that had come too early even for Phoenix.

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The moral of this story is that if things are bad the first time, they probably won’t be so bad the second–you just have to try again. Nowhere to go but up, right? My sister, who is a bus veteran, informed me that if I wore headphones, people would be more likely to leave me alone–apparently she’d never had my experience in any of her bus taking trips.

So, the second time I took the bus, I carried things in a backpack; what a help that was. The weather had cooled and there was a breeze. I wore my ear buds and played an unabridged audio book of Winnie-the-Pooh; the trashy street was a little less scary with Pooh and Piglet trying to catch a Hefflalump in my ear. While all the Hispanic men were still there looking for work, the homeless guy waiting there left me alone and stood about eight feet away.

Plus, I only waited ten minutes before the bus arrived on time!

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The bus ride was also better now that I’d had an experience using it. Pooh and Company were now preparing to form an “Expetition” to the North Pole but sadly they weren’t able to make the bus feel more clean. I jumped out at my stop and bathed in hand sanitizer I’d remembered to bring. Roo fell into a stream while I, more slowly, walked into my neighborhood. Pooh discovered the North Pole by the time I got home.

That experience was so much nicer than the first one.

The lessons I learned? Experiences are always going to be different, even if you end up at the same bus stop with the same bus and bus driver. Life is full of people, from all walks of life, who we’re just going to bump into along the way. Winnie-the-Pooh makes things a lot better. A backpack makes a heavy load easier to carry. Ear buds keep drug dealers away from you (well, I’ll test theory again the next time). Walking slowly downhill won’t leave you huffing and puffing (and a breeze always helps).

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But really, Pooh helped a lot. “After all, it’s more friendly with two.”

~Jamie

Regrets


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Regrets are an odd thing, because people end up regretting a lot of things in their life and then they often end up regretting all the time they spent regretting. Go figure. I deal with regret like everyone else, and I’ve processed a lot of it very recently.

For context: my laptop hard drive recently crashed for unknown reasons, and I lost a 60,000 word novel I’d recently written (among other things.) As any fellow writer will know, this is pure devastation anyway, but that particular book was very personal and meant to be written only once. I’ve really regretted loosing that book.

However, through the last two weeks I’ve worked through the emotion called regret and I want to share how I handled it with you today.

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And of course before I move forward I want to say this: feeling regret is not a bad thing.

Regret is a legitimate emotion that signals to your soul that there is something to be mourned, forgiven, learned from and released as best you can. Everyone deals with regret in their own time and way; so it’s important to know that the emotion itself is not bad. Now, choosing to live in regret for weeks, months, or years is when regret becomes bad. 

How I Deal With Regret

Mourn your losses. I’ve learned that when I feel regret, or any type of sadness, to not smother the feeling. I don’t think causing humongous scenes wherever you go is good, but with family or friends, it’s okay to talk out your sadness and cry if you can. Crying allows the negative emotion of anxiety to escape the body and soul–it’s natural, it’s cleansing, and it’s healthy.

The evening I was told my hard drive was gone, I cried for hours in my room and was very sad for the rest of the night; the guilt and pain dwindled by morning enough for me to work like normal. I don’t care what type of regrets you have–relationships, words, preventable issues or things that weren’t even your fault–if you lose something, mourn it until you feel some relief.

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Forgive yourself. Make room for mistakes in your life by forgiving yourself (or whomever might need to be forgiven, if you have regrets over a broken relationship of any sort.) I was still very mad at myself for not backing up my work, or emailing it to my sister, even after all my crying. After several days of frustration, I finally said, “That was a mistake on my part, that I now recognize and can fix.”

If I can’t make room for mistakes in my life, how will I ever grow as a person?

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You can’t change the past. I believe God uses “cause and effect” to guide lives to touch other lives that touch other lives in ways we don’t even understand. Things happen for a reason and things happen in the past, where we can’t touch them. What happened, has happened; now I gotta deal with it. Look at it however you want, but regretting the past does not fix the problem, or the heartache, or make you feel better.

Loosing my book was devastating and agonizing but it happened. Am I now going to just sit here and be resentful? What good would that do me to regret something that can’t be reversed? From what I see, this where a lot of people get stuck; they want to change what can’t be undone, while neglecting the future. That’s very sad and it’s a cycle that will continue unless one faces the front again.

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Don’t live in regret, but do learn from it. The thing about the past is that it’s what you do in the present. So, take regret as signal that something went wrong last time and learn from it. You messed up in that relationship by doing this and such. Well, now you know what not to do now. You should have turned left instead of right. Well, now you know what to do now. I lost my book because I was not proactive and should have saved it on a USB and a secondary hard drive. Well, now I know what to do now.

We need to stop looking out the back window and face the oncoming road. Grip that steering wheel with both hands.

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Try to find positives; the “if it hadn’t”s. Finding the good in the bad is the key putting regret to sleep–this ties in a bit with the point I made just above. Sometimes its really hard to look at regrets and find positive things, but they’re always at least one. If you can’t find one, that means it’s coming. You will see it one day.

I should have saved my story as soon as it was finished but now I know I should do that from now on: a positive thing! Thank God the laptop was under warranty; a positive. Most of my stuff was saved; a positive. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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This is not a cure-all, “gone forever” way for getting rid of Mr. Regret, sadly. I’ve gotten through these steps personally, and I still feel regret over my story, in small ways, every once and while. But if we forgot our regrets, we would simply make the same mistake over and over.

Besides, there will always be something to regret in our lives. We are humans who make mistakes, after all. Once we figure out one area of life, another area will soon fall apart and we’ll have to deal with that problem. Again.

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But please, don’t live in regret forever. You don’t want to regret that either.

~Jamie

I’m Back to Blogging


 

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Well, my computer is not fixed but I know what the problem is: a bad hard drive. Everything I didn’t last back up I lost, which ended up including everything for my most recent book and my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel. Thankfully, my laptop is still under warranty; I’m borrowing my Mom’s spare laptop to work as a replacement while it goes to the depot and comes back. So, I’m back to blogging!

The computer issue has been a heavy burden this past week for me and I’m exhausted emotionally. I had a near panic attack the first night and then after I found out I’d lost my book I was a corpse on my floor for an un-exaggerated two hours. Crying and worrying takes it out of you. Writers, go back up your work now. Like, stop reading this and save your work, email it to someone trustworthy or stick ’em on a thumb drive. Do not make the mistake I did and assume it can’t happen to you. Assume it will all be lost tomorrow and go save it. Yes, Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.

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Lol I’m being quite dark, mostly to reflect my past week, but I’m doing a lot better now due to hunting for pros in a gallon of cons. Currently I’m grateful for the warranty and that my mom is so wonderful and that I’m single this year.

Self-discovery has revealed that to I would be in an awful fix if I was in a serious relationship right now. I’m still learning how I tick and how to function without becoming co-dependent or overly responsible. I’d like to stay single for a few more years! XD I’m not lonely today; I have a book date from the library this year and my little brother is my Valentine, so all is well. Hopefully in a few more years I’ll be more mature and there will be room in my heart for a relationship. :D

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Besides being dragged over coals this past week, I visited the library, went mini-golfing, and even managed to make my favorite dessert. I even briefly saw an old friend, which made me very happy. I hope this upcoming week will be a lot more relaxing, but grandparents are coming into town, so who knows. ;)

I’m going to end this here. Please pray that I’ll keep finding the positives in the negatives and that the people at Toshiba aren’t able to find an excuse to not cover my laptop. Now, go make sure your stuff is backed up and safe!

~Jamie

3 Things I Thought Difficult but Actually Aren’t


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Making my bed.

Most of my life I never made my bed; A) because I slept on the top of a bunk bed, and B) I wasn’t expected to make it. When I was eighteen I started sleeping on a twin by myself– it became more central to my room, influencing how the rest of it felt. At first, straightening blankets and pillows felt so hard, but when I actually attempted to do it, I found it made my room feel so much cleaner all by itself. And it’s not actually difficult! Surprise! (It’s the same when I open my window curtains! What a world of difference!)

Drinking enough water.

I’ve almost always liked water anyway, but it always seemed very hard to drink as much as you need every day. However, I started making time to drink right before bed and as soon as I got out of bed. It’s not actually difficult at all! I feel a world’s difference too! (Plus, drinking right before bed ensures no sleeping in! XD )

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Making time to write.

I’ve always loved writing, and had lots of time for it growing up. On top of a year or so when I was either tired emotionally or mentally OR I just couldn’t click on the word document button, my time seemed to get gobbled up more quickly by other things. However, this past NaNoWriMo, I exceeded the 50k word count by 10k in a month– a record for me! I realized the deadline had forced me to find time without being brutal. I’d determined, “I will make this word count, and no one is going to stop me from fulfilling it, not even myself.” It turns out, it’s not hard to make time to write: you just need to want it bad enough.

How about you? Are there things you thought were hard and then discovered they weren’t? Has someone cracked it for washing dishes?!?!?!? (I have not, and probably never will, because the activity of washing dishes is my mortal enemy for life. XD )

~Jame