Lent This Year

When I first started thinking of lent* a few weeks ago I thought of what would be most productive for me to give up. I jokingly thought to myself that it would be best if I were able to give up procrastination. Because I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with and my “TV habit” is under control. I use social media for job hunting and human connections, but procrastination? That’s everywhere.

But since it’s everywhere it’s nearly impossible to regulate. I can’t just give up one website or one application and call it a day, because as soon as I stop using that, I’ll find another to replace it with. But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. In giving up procrastination I am giving up a lot of little things that I hope will bring consciousness of where I’m at and where I’m headed.

Lenten Rules:

  • Awake at or before 9am.
  • Quiet time for an hour each day.
  • Yoga at 8:45 every weekday (baring other morning commitments)
  • Blocked sites: Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Thought Catalog, Huffington Post
  • No reading fanfiction

Note that I am not blocking myself from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Tumblr. These sites in and of themselves are not the problem. The problem (for me) are the links that my friends share on these sites. The list posts that lead to quizzes and start with one thing, but spiral into me looking up from the computer and asking when it got dark and how it’s already tomorrow.

Of course, this isn’t a catch all. I’m sure to find other things to procrastinate with, but I’m hoping that this base will make me more aware of falling into a hole of procrastination and more able to pull myself out of it. I’m sure that as the season goes on, I will find other things to add to the not allowed list. But I think this will be my most successful lent-en fast yet.

Even with less than a week with these rules I’ve noticed an effect. How much time a day do I spend doing exactly what I want all the time? At the moment, pretty much all of it. And a lot of that time is spent online derping around with no purpose whatsoever. It’s not what I want in the long term, but it’s what I think I need in the moment.

Spending time outside of these things has forced me to consider what I’m working on. I’ve realized this weekend that I have a lot of work to do if I want to meet the goals I set out to accomplish for the quarter and it seems to be a bit of a kick in the butt to get going. Lent is a time for thinking about the bigger picture, and seeing what comes from a more purposeful walk with God and a more considered life.

*A thorough explanation of Lent

A Letter to My Future Self

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This time last year I was in such a different place that I can barely even picture myself. I had a normal, college schedule. I was working for Frequency TV and starting to plan out the semester’s worth of web series episodes. I was filling out applications for study abroad. I was spending long nights in with television and long Sundays with friends from church. I suppose some things don’t change.

Since my life right now would be hardly recognizable by my former self, I want to preserve where I’m at for my future self to remember better. I suppose this is a letter to myself in a way. A letter to my future self so that I can remember where I was and look back to see how far I’ve come a year from now. Perhaps more.

Dear Future Self,

This week in the first week of school. School is a loose interpretation of what’s started this week after labor day, the week after Terra Nova (was it as good the second time?). This week you started two internships in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

The Hollywood office feels official and real. The Beverly Hills office feels glamorous and exotic simply because of it’s location. This is your life. You are really working, really living, and really existing in part in this industry. And I hope that’s still true. Plans for these two internships include working hard and finishing my final semester strong.

Meanwhile, you’ve also been starting to meet with your old class – Drama writing, SiLA – weekly. Not that you’ve got anything to show for yourself yet, but it’s a work in process. Writing hasn’t been coming easily lately, but you’re hoping that a more solid schedule with school will help that along. Or it will hinder it, it’s hard to know right yet.

You’ve been blogging fairly consistently for the past year. It’s been a great system without really putting much of a system in place at all. July and August were harder months, but you seem to be back for September…. for the most part.

Every day is a choice to either write or not write. Unfortunately, lately the choice has been not. It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s just a choice that you seem to be making unconsciously. Focus. I believe that it can happen and that means that you much believe too. Pray about it. Never stop praying.

Speaking of prayer, this month you are set to join the church you’ve been going to in LA. You’ve been going to MOSAIC since Easter, and from then to now you’ve joined two community groups (one neighborhood, one college), gone on two retreats (SHE retreat and Terra Nova), and have been attending the early evening service and the mid-week service. They’ve just begun a weekly Wednesday gathering.

The community there is fantastic. Lean on them when you’re uncertain. Grow into those relationships. I hope you have already, but always lean in. Lean into your MOSAIC community and the old Columbia friends in whatever way possible. Go play Ultimate Frisbee. Because you haven’t been to a yoga class since you left San Francisco and it’s starting to show. Because what you really need is a good session at the climbing gym, but no one seems interested. Because living alone can be great, but also isolating.

In fact, I don’t even know that you live alone still. You do now. With a tiny studio apartment and no air conditioning. It’s a love/hate thing. Perhaps you are settled now into a house with four roommates. An apartment with one. Or still the same, ever the same. Whatever it is, right now you are living alone and for the most part that is a good thing. All the mess is yours and there’s no one to tell you to clean it.

You have been using a scooter to get around. It’s a wonderful thing. The time that’s lost in speed (not much) is gained back by squeezing between cars while they wait at a stop light. Your scooter seems a bit rickety sometimes, but it gets the job done. Once or twice a week you park it at the pump closest to the convenience store, pay two dollars in cash, and fill the entire tank. You don’t think that will ever get old.

I hope you are still living, working, and thriving in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t quite what you had been imagining, but it seems that God’s imagination is better than yours.  Go where he leads you, always say in reply, “Here I am Lord, send me.”

Here is what you were, and here’s to whatever you’ve become.

Much love, and God Bless,
Your Former Self

This Will Be: September 2013

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September is my favorite month. Probably because it’s my birthday month. And TV premiere month. And Emmy month. And the beginning of school month. And the beginning of jacket weather (well, in normal climates). Gah, I just love September so much.

Things that will happen this month include a few things that were teed up in August that will come full circle in September. In September I will become a member of the church I’ve been going to. I will be starting my final semester in college, despite being hundreds of miles away from the college I’ll be attending. And of course, this month, I’ll be going on a camping trip that I am in the process of planning.

I constantly seem to be forgetting my word for the year, fearless. I realize that what I need to do is set an even more specific goal each month within the larger goal for the year. September will be to set fearlessness. That sounds a little bit odd, but looking at what I want for this month my goals seem to mostly be to set more goals. Is that silly? Maybe.

But it’s also really timely for me. The beginning of the school year always seemed like a more logical time for me to set goals then at the beginning of the calendar year. Coupled with my birthday, setting goals is the perfect goal for me this month. A month of goal setting and routine making.

Some routine setting goals include washing the dishes, making my bed, and doing quiet time every day. I’d like to go to the library once a week. Coincidentally, DVDs can be checked out for only a week, so if I get one DVD every time I’ll be all set to come in every week. I will also have a lot of scheduling to do once I get my syllabus’ for my classes (syllabi?).

I am also going to spend some time out of the next two weeks coming up with goals for being 22. It seems that the new year is the time to set specific goals for the year, and my birthday is a time to set intentions for the year. I’ll use this time as a way to check in with myself on my calendar year goals as well as ponder what I’ll be doing with myself a year from now.

What are your plans for September?  Any big goals you’re got in mind for the month?

This Has Been: August 2013

I can’t remember the last time I was so productive during the month of August. Really. It’s been a long time. Usually August is just a throwaway month, but this year it’s been fantastic. And hot, but like I said the other day, I’m dealing with it. A few favorites from this month:

The beginning of the apartment tour
I got and lost a kitten
I talked about how second screening is awesome
A summary of summer
My TV list for the summer

Now, to tackle my crazy long to do list for August. I’m glad to say that I did pretty much all get everything done, and then some. Besides the planned things, I also got a fantastic new haircut, hosted my sister and one of my best friends, and started to keep much better track of my finances then I ever have before.

The big two, the ones that really needed doing were getting myself a mode of transportation and an internship, both of which I now have. I got a scooter mid-way through the month, and as of Monday this week it’s registered in my name. I’m going to hold off on information about my internship, but I do have one and will be starting next week when the school semester officially begins. I also have a lead on a second, but I’m still waiting to see how that pans out.

I got started on all the things I wanted to this month, some of them wont fully pan out until next month. For example, the writers group I started is full of people who went out of town for the last week or so. We met a few times, but we’ll kick off once everyone gets back with a writer’s lock-in. I set up a facebook group for a camping trip and in talking to people who want to go we decided to wait until it’s a bit cooler in September. I also attended all the sessions to become a member of the church I’ve been attending, but wont be confirmed until next month.

I’m going to call both networking and yoga studio finding a draw. I went to a few networking events, but not a ton. I mostly networked and grew friendships that already exist. I kept my eyes peeled for yoga studios and found a few that I wanted to try, but didn’t get the chance to actually try them. Not a complete failure, but not quite what I had in mind.

Overall I’m really happy with how things went this month, and I’m even more excited to get started on next month, but that’s a post I’ll leave till next week.

How was your August?  Anything exciting happen?

Living Proof

womens retreat

I am a life-long christian who made it through adolescence relatively unscathed with her faith in tact. I have always been a christian in that I cannot remember not being one. From banging on a piano in a small town church basement at five to stepping out in college ministry and every stage in between I have “Fought the good fight, run the race”.

Throughout my Sunday School career I sang songs and did crafts and gave insufficient answers to my mom’s constant “What did you learn in Sunday School today?” question. I think this question had a magical ability to stunt my short term memory. I spent the entire car ride back from my first church retreat trying to come up with an answer to the inevitable question. I think I landed on “Prayer.”

Through it all I have stuck to my faith. I can tell you all the stories, I know all the answers. I have taken the spiritual gift tests, I have served others and been served by others. I have memorized parts of the catechism, I have recited the Lord’s Prayer in infinite variations (including Latin). I have participated in Vacation Bible School, scouts, pancake breakfasts, ski retreats, snow retreats, summer camps, and everything else you can think of and I have kept the faith.

Even with all this I have no testimony. When asked for one I spout on about things such as moving cross-country, choosing a college, a major and career path, or a city to live in. These things don’t feel like they were major decisions to me. I simply went with my gut and trusted that God would be there if I fell. There was no transformation. No conversion story. Just faith.

This in and of itself is a little bit scary to me. Because everyone faces adversity. Everyone goes through hard times. In every message I’ve ever heard those words are followed by “and if you haven’t yet, you will.” It feels like the longer until I hit challenges in my faith the tougher those challenges will be. I’m not sure how true that will be, but I can’t help but think it.

When I was home in the last months I got a chance to talk with my old youth pastor. He told me that I am living proof that it’s possible to grow up in the church and keep the faith. I’m told that this is not the norm. That to grow up in faith and continue to believe is rare. Even unheard of.

I’m told how remarkable that is, but I’m not quite sure I believe it. I didn’t do anything spectacular. I just kept my eyes on what I feel God has called me to and wound up here, in Los Angeles, finishing a degree and trying to figure out how to make an industry career work.

Here I am LORD, send me. Whatever you have planned, let it be to your glory and honor. Here I am. Send me.

This Will Be June 2013 Edition

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June is the real official start on summer in my mind. Until college I had never gotten out of school until mid-june, so to me this is where summer begins. In the past few years summer has been travel and bits of school. There are no big travel plans for this years so far, but I do have a few goals in mind for this month.

I have been thinking about what I want this space to be and I would like to pull this online home together a bit more. This will start with a new ‘About’ page coming soon, and I hope to continue with more focused content. My goal is that I can pull this together a bit more by the end of the month.

I would also like to shoot, edit, and upload two vlogs. See my first one here, and subscribe to my channel here. I kind of love vlogging, but am working on building it into something that I’m more ready to share with the world.

I’ve also been doing what I’ll call micro-planning lately. Basically this means that before I go to bed at night I’ll look at my callendar and decide what I want to do the next day and schedule when I want to do those things. It’s been a great system so far, and it’s made me much more conscious of what I am doing with my time. I hope to continue planning as the month goes on, and ingrain it as a habit. It’s a good thing to be reminded of and I think helps me get more things done.

To be honest, there is only one thing that properly NEEDS to happen this month. I need to move to LA.  I don’t really have a plan for this yet and am just starting to feel the pressure to find a place to go.  My prayer:

Dear Lord, I need somewhere to live in LA. It can be a place for the summer, or a place for longer. It can be a place by myself or a place with a roommate. You know the exact place you want me to be, and it’s perfect for what I need right now.  Show me how to find it. Amen.

What are you all planning for this month?

Writing About Writing (week of May 27)

Monday: journal (2)
blog – WAW
Tuesday:journal (2)
blog – Seattle in Pictures
blog – This Has Been
blog – To my Children
Wednesday: journal (2)
notes on superheroes
Thursday: journal (1)
Friday: journal (2)
blog – About Me
Saturday: blog – Will Be
Sunday: journal (1)
blog – this post

Last week felt good.  Busy.  I started to plan more meticulously what I wanted to do for the day, which was really good for keeping track of where my time went.  Makes it a lot harder to justify spending the majority of the day on Tumblr.  I did a lot of what I’ll call “thinking” writing that I suppose could also be called brainstorming.  I spent some time figuring out what I want from this blog and coming up with ideas of how to get it, so I’m excited for the future.

This space has been a place to record what I’ll call consciously productive writing, but I’ve also been doing a bit of not-recorded writing though a prayer journal I keep.  I haven’t recorded it because I’m not sure how to.  Generally I don’t even keep track of how long I’m writing/praying, and since any writing I do is spread over multiple categories in different sections I don’t quite know how to quantify it.  If I was to estimate I would say I write about 100-200 words a day in my prayer journal.
On that note, if there is any way I can pray for you, I would love to.  Leave me a note in the comments or send me an email at morethanexist [at] gmail.com.

This week I’d like to spend some time developing those ideas further and working on some blog content to go with it.  I’m also going to start looking at internships and volunteer opportunities in the fall which will likely include some time spent with my resume and writing cover letters.  We’ll see how it goes.

Plan A vs. Plan A

My plan A:
Come to Los Angeles in late February for school.  After school, register for a summer course here, and online classes in the fall, get cleared to do this instantly, find a permanent apartment here in LA, and move in.  Volunteer until I start my summer program in July.  Build a community.  Buy things from IKEA.

At the end of summer take a road trip.  Either with a friend in her car, or with a crazy Uncle to get my stuff to LA.  Set up a full apartment.  Have a bit of a housewarming party now that I can cook things properly in a full kitchen.

In the fall, take online classes while interning, all the while building up my portfolio to apply for writing fellowships in the spring.  Apply and get into writing fellowships.  Get paid from said fellowships.  Finish school in December.  Graduate and walk in May 2014, right back to LA to start working.  Become financially independent.

Mom’s plan:
Go to LA in late February for school.  Come back to San Francisco afterwards.  In May go to Chicago to take a summer history class.  Return to LA in June to find a place to live.  Summer program in July.

God’s plan A:
LA for condensed spring semester.  Back home to SF for an unknown amount of time.  Volunteer?  Intern?  Class in Chicago?  Probably stay til mid-June before coming back to LA to prepare for Summer program.

*

I wish I knew what the future held.  But apparently God’s plan is only revealed on a need-to-know basis.  I guess I don’t need to know yet.  God’s plan is better than any plan I could ever have for myself.  Whatever God has for me will be so much better than my plan A.

Right now, God’s plan A looks a lot like my plan C or D or E.  Parts of it look terrifyingly like plan Z.  But I have to trust Him.  I have to obey.  Because right now I’m miserable.  And that’s never part of the plan.

But Also Live

Boston Marathon: What do I even say?

It doesn’t make me lose faith in humanity.  I don’t cry for the people involved.  I feel no sudden surge of hope or kinship from the heroics.  Perhaps I would feel differently if I living in Boston, but I’ve always had a similar reaction to crisis’.  Not emptiness or angry, grief or hope, no feeling of change.  The emotions come later.

I feel for the survivors.  Years later we hear reports of the survivors getting remarried.  Having another child.  Having moved on.  This is when I feel a sudden wave of “How could they!?” followed by joy.  Joy that they have found happiness in the pain.

But for now I only see.  And re-blog on Tumblr.  Because even if I don’t understand, maybe this will help someone else.  This picture.  This information.  This quote from Mr. Rodgers.

My prayers are with the survivors.  Grieve.  Remember.  But also live.

Halfway Mark

I never really cared much about my half birthday until a few years ago when my friend and I decided that we were internally 7 and 5 respectively and we turned the next age on our half birthdays.  That said, I am “turning” 8 this year, specifically  last Wednesday was my half birthday.

That being said, halfway is a great place to check in with my goals for 21, the things I thought of when I turned 21 that I wanted to do during the year.  From this post, my goals were:

  • being intentional about my choices
  • establishing a habit of devotionals
  • scheduling time to get things done
  • routines for… health, beauty, photography, and blogging

How’s that for vague and ambiguous?  I’ll start with the things that I’ve done.  I’ve done very well with establishing a habit of devotions.  While I don’t know I would claim to have a routine for blogging, I have been keeping up with it quite well.  Meanwhile, photography has majorly stalled.  There has been no movement on beauty routines and any movement made on health over winter break has come to a screeching halt upon moving to Los Angeles.  I will claim to have been pretty good at scheduling over the fall semester, but that took a nose dive over the break.

As to “intentional choices”, the most ambiguous of them all, I’m really not sure how to respond to it.  I made the choice to come out to LA to do this program, something I didn’t foresee last September at all.  I spent a lot of time praying about it, and especially praying about where my life will go after moving.  Will I stay here or go back to Chicago?  As I’ve said multiple times through this transition, I have a lot of options and none of them suck (at least from my perspective).

But does praying over a decision make it “intentional”?  I’m not sure.  What about other choices I’ve made?  Since September I’ve gone to industry events in Chicago and LA.  I’ve made many knitted things and spent time with friends and family near and far.  I’ve gone home for Thanksgiving, and then spent two and a half months living at home.  I’ve started and finished many a television series.  I’ve planned and plotted a few of my own TV shows (both in reality and in the hypothetical).  What makes any of these things intentional?

The think that seems to be missing from this intention equation is what the intention should be leading toward.  It’s hard to have intent without a goal set in that intention.  So what was my goal in setting this intention last September?  Honestly, I’m not sure there was one, and I’m not sure what I would add to it now.  In intend to make the most out of the opportunities that have been given me, but that’s still not measurable.

Perhaps the best way to go about it is to say that instead of making my choices with “intention” whatever that means, I want to consult God when making be decisions.  That is measurable and solid.  With changing to that as a goal, I can say that I have done that so far this year, and I hope to continue doing it.

I don’t know what opportunities will be available to me in these next six months, but I know that whatever choices I make I want them to reflect God’s plan for me.  He has a perfect plan for my life and He will tell me what to do next.  I don’t know where it will lead, but I know He’s got this.

And who am I to mess with God’s plans?  Nobody, that’s who.