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Quitting, Leaving, New Beginnings, And All Of That

22 Aug

Beach walkWell, I did it. I quit. Why did I quit my job, you ask? With less than two months before I get married, it’s time to make this transition and fully focus on the bittersweet process of leaving my old life and starting my new one. Some of you I’ve told in person, others may be finding out for the first time…I’m sorry if I haven’t had the chance with all of the craziness to talk to you all one on one, but at the end of September, I’m moving to San Diego County. I’m not going to say this has been the easiest thing for me. In fact, it’s been incredibly hard. But I think it will be good for many reasons. And it’s not like I’m moving to Djibouti.  It’s two hours away.

I’ll soon be entering into the unfamiliar territory called marriage and in order to do that well, I need to give myself time to process my life here in LA and all that this has meant for me. I need time to fulfill this bucket list of things that I’ve never done but have always wanted to do. Taping of Jeopardy anyone? A visit to Sprinkles? Touring some of those incredible looking churches on Wilshire I drive by sometimes? Also, most importantly to my soul at this point, I need to not sit on the 405 for three hours a day anymore. So, I’m leaving my job.

I’ve been in LA since 1998 and I’ve wanted to move to here since I was 10 years old and had the dream of becoming a “performing artist”, as I liked to call it. I even did a report on this when I was in 7th grade. My freshman year of college at USC, I made part of this dream a reality and I moved out here. Then I fulfilled another dream  of learning about film and television and got into USC’s film school. Not knowing what to expect, I fumbled my way through my freshman year as a Midwesterner public school kid in a California private school. I figured out how to write college papers, made some surface friends and then later some real friends, and learned a ton. I also became a Christian, which completely changed my priorities.

Upon graduation, I had several fun but crazy jobs in entertainment, I co-wrote a screenplay, wrote a play, worked on several TV shows, and realized that what I wanted most in this crazy city was a place of belonging. So I joined a women’s life group and a church and faced the world, relationships, breakups, unemployment and disappointments with others by my side.

I love LAI’ve grown to LOVE Los Angeles in many ways. I know it. It’s familiar. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere. It’s eclectic, diverse, interesting, never boring, urban, suburban in parts, and it’s the city where my dreams turned from superficial ones where I would become the female Steven Spielberg to where I learned how to follow Christ with all my heart, love justice, be a friend, serve, love, be broken, and be rebuilt again. It’s where I learned that money wasn’t everything, friendships could be fought for, and sticking to my true values in romantic relationships was more important than the feeling of being loved that I was so desperately chasing. LA has shaped me. I have so many memories here. As my time comes to a close, I hope to write about some of them and share what I’ve learned. I hope to end this chapter well and on my own terms so that I can enter my new life with a healthy outlook, spiritually grounded.

When I joined ChristianMingle and “smiled” at Mark, I did not know where San Marcos was. I thought it was a lot closer until I looked it up on a map.  We’ve been doing the 100 mile drive almost every weekend since April 2012. That’s a lot of miles. We’re both ready for that to be over and can’t wait to actually come home at the end of the day and get to be together.  With that happy possibility looming, it’s making my departure from the LA life brighter. I have hopes for the future. I want to be able to drive to the beach in 15 minutes. That will be awesome. I’ll hopefully be able to go to Mission Bay frequently and meet Shamu, finally. I hope for new friends, a new dream, and to fully launch my writing career that has been birthed out of my time here in LA.

Lots to do. 58 days till my wedding. 10 more work days, 20 more commutes. I’m doing this!

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Taylor Swift Thinks We Should Fall Into Love. Without Being A Cynic, I Disagree

25 Oct

Goofy picture. Really goofy. My idea. Good one? I look ridiculous.

I recently became a high school leader at my church’s youth group on Wednesdays.  Last night, I had the distinct privilege of getting to hear thoughts on love from a group of smart, in-tune, and vocal 14 year old girls while they discussed our culture’s idea of romantic love.

I’m not an ageist but the girls’ remarks were surprisingly self-aware and wise!

What I learned from this conversation, took me years of counseling and several dead-end relationships with unrealistic expectations (on my part) to discover and they are only 14. I was impressed.

While I don’t remember the exact quote, I do remember the girls excitedly talking over each other about how popular culture tells them that love means ball gowns, princesses, and “forever”. One girl reminded me that Sleeping Beauty got married after one kiss.

“ONE KISS!” she cried. “And she was asleep!”

Another girl assured me that she’s been through “all of that” (love) and believe it or not, it’s not the way it turns out. What?! What the heck was I doing at 14? Oh yeah, still playing house.

While I was intrigued by the girls’ realization about romantic love in this day and age, I realize that knowing something in your head and then following it through in your actions are two different things.

These same young girls who seem to know that Disney princesshood is not real also read Twilight and scream when a Taylor Swift song comes on.  And who could blame them? I have an annual pass to Disneyland and I like TSwift just as much as the next girl. I sing her songs at the top of my lungs in the car with my roommate. I’ll probably sing some tonight since my roommate just bought “Red.”

But I have to call TSwift out.  Taylor’s philosophy on “love” is a little off the mark:

“The way I look at love is you have to follow it, and fall hard, if you fall hard. You have to forget about what everyone else thinks,” she said in a Rolling Stone interview.  “It has to be an us-against-the-world mentality. You have to make it work by prioritizing it, and by falling in love really fast, without thinking too hard. If I think too hard about a relationship I’ll talk myself out of it. …I have rules for a lot of areas of my life. Love is not going to be one of them.” –Taylor Swift

Oh Taylor, Taylor, Taylor…you’ve done so well to make millions off of these beliefs. I give you credit for being someone who has profited more off of failed relationships than just about anyone I can think of. You’re only 22. I felt like you did when I was 22 but I’m not sure you realize what you’re doing to your soul when you buy into that methodology. Or what you’re doing to the souls of your followers, 14 year olds worldwide who may not be as wise as my young friends.

I’m all about giving yourself to something you believe in, but going into love blindly is just stupid. I say this because I’ve done it. My  friends have done it.

You can’t just check your brain at the door when it comes to love, or you’ll end up hurt and embarrassed quite possibly making decisions you regret for the rest of your life.  

If Taylor doesn’t believe me, then why does she get so freaked out when Ellen parades her ex’s pictures in front of her?

If anything, you need to start thinking MORE when you decide to get in a relationship. I’m not talking about neurotic insecure overthinking that women especially can sometimes tend to do.  I’ve also been that kind of girlfriend.

You need  to think about the kind of relationship you’re getting into before you fall into it. Is it wise? Do you have friends and family keeping you accountable to staying grounded? Are you a better person when you’re with the person or without them?  Does this person treat you well? How do you treat them? Are you even ready to be in a relationship or do you need to maybe take a break and try to determine what patterns you have when it comes to dating? Are you making being in a relationship an idol, believing that a guy/girl will make all of your dreams come true?  A song about these questions might be boring but most of us are looking for healthy relationships, not a serial dating history.

I just found out that Taylor and Conor Kennedy are kaput. Am I surprised? He was a high school senior, only 18. She was jetsetting around the world making a ton of money on songs about her ex-boyfriends. It wasn’t really going to work out anyway, was it?

Friends and Taylor (if by some crazy chance you’re reading this). Take stock. Sit with some of these questions. You need to ask the hard questions if you want to have a healthy, lasting, and mature relationship.  That’s part of becoming and being an adult.  You have to think about your decisions and ask yourself, “Is this wise?” If it’s not, don’t even go there.

My young friends don’t need more examples of fairytale endings that aren’t realistic or breakups that could have been prevented. They need examples of good, solid, low-drama relationships full of love, acceptance and grace.  But that might not sell records. And I’m okay with that.

He Does Not Complete Me…Nor Should He OR The Unfortunate Role Of The Golden Calf In A Dating Relationship

15 Aug

Couple-dom looks great and it IS! I just don’t want to make this guy my end all be all and he doesn’t want to make me his either!

If I’ve learned one thing about dating it is this: there are no guarantees. I’m not trying to say this to sound cynical, it’s just I’ve seen many friends (myself included) start out in seemingly amazing relationships only to sit with them months later as they try to process what went wrong after it’s ended.  Just because something starts out good (what new relationships don’t),  doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good fit and that it’s going to end in couple-dom, marriage, kids, and (insert your dream here). And yet it’s easy for us to hope, dream, and do about anything to make dead-end relationships work.

Once upon a time in the not so distant past, I was the desperate girl trying to get a guy to love me. Maybe it was my own personal need for validation. Perhaps I wasn’t able to fully see what I was worth.  Chalk it up to insecurity, neediness, wanting so badly to be in a successful relationship that I would gloss over major problems. Maybe I was sick of waiting on God for a good fit that I just tried to trailblaze my own path…again and again…and yes, again.

Consistently, I would find myself in a position of dropping everything, developing new hobbies just because of a guy, forgetting about friends, putting my dreams on hold and trying to cobble together mine with his…basically changing my whole life so that it revolved around him all in hopes that I would obtain the secure and unchangeable fact that he wanted me and only me.  Despite my greatest attempts, this did not work. Why?

Why doesn’t it work when you throw yourself at someone and do everything he/she wants, just for the sake of validation? Why doesn’t  it work to just let yourself fall head over heels in love and stay there permanently?

It doesn’t work because that’s not the way that it’s supposed to be.  Certainly it’s not all bad.  Love is amazing. And relationships do take compromise, time, and energy. They aren’t just easy street. The problem comes when a relationship turn into idolatry.

Human relationships aren’t supposed to complete us because they can’t.  The operative word here is human.

We are messy and flawed.

We disappoint. We fail. Only one relationship can ever complete us.

Yep, been there, done this. Maybe it wasn’t a golden calf but still…

Only one god is meant to be worshiped by us and he’s not our boyfriend/girlfriend.

A few years ago, I heard a great sermon series about counterfeit gods.   No matter how we go through life, we follow something. We may not realize it, but we’re constantly putting something on an altar and worshiping it.  It may not be a golden calf  but maybe takes the shape of entertainment or technology. Food or beauty. Money. Fame.  Politics. Fitting in with our friends. Our favorite sports team. And sometimes it’s actually another person.  I know because I’ve done it.

I’ve stayed in relationships too long wanting the other person to fix me. I’ve hoped they would love me for me. I’ve stayed because I wrongly gave them parts of my heart and soul that didn’t belong to them and I felt that the knowledge they had of me would surely translate into a long-term love.  I’ve begged, sold my values down the river, traded “wait” for NOW, and so many other things.

I learned the hard way. But the point is, I’ve learned.

If we’re dating, we need to ask the hard questions. Am I worshiping this person or perhaps the idea of them? Am I being realistic? Am I staying in this relationship for the wrong reasons? What expectations do I have of this person and are they fair?

It’s hard to answer these questions without taking a sober look at our lives and patterns. When we do admit that yes, we may be putting this person or what they do for us on a pedestal, then what? How do we change? Is this salvageable? While it depends on the situation, I think there are some things we can do to help in the event that our significant others become idols to us.

1) Get a life! Seriously. When I have other plans with other friends,  a softball game to go to, work outs scheduled, or family commitments, this helps me realize the guy I’m dating is not the center of my world. In turn, he can actually miss me when I’m not around and I can stay true to things that were important to me before he came into the picture. If you don’t have hobbies outside of your relationship, really think about something you’ve always wanted to do and go try it! Can’t hurt and it may even make you seem even more interesting to the person you’re dating. Keeping your life while you pursue a relationship is only logical. The person you’re dating didn’t fall for a robot who follows them around, they fell for YOU. The you who has a fulfilling, great life in addition to them.

This is a trip I took with my friends. Sans boyfriend. When I came back from the trip, we really missed each other. Still glad I went though!

2) Keep Accountable.  I try to talk to my girlfriends, mentors, and wise family members who know me about my problem of making the guys I date into idols. I’m not perfect, but I’ve grown a lot. They will tell it to me straight if I’m spending too much time on the guy I’m dating. Plus, my boyfriend understands that I need my own time for me. I actually don’t want to make him the center of my life because that would be really boring. By not knowing everything he’s doing/thinking /feeling every day all day, it actually gives us something to talk about when we do get together.  And I give him time to process our relationship on his own, which almost always benefits me.

3)   Spend some time alone (preferably outside in a pretty place). I’ve found that these times of solitude and prayer were invaluable to me. When you can become aware of who you are in your relationship and actually have time to think about your behavior and how it’s working for you, you may realize some unhealthy patterns that have developed. Being silent and still as well as learning to journal out my feelings has almost always left me more invigorated and better able to communicate with God about these feelings and tackle my issues head on.  Also, there’s something about being alone in nature that makes me realize how small I am and how big God is.

4)  Be committed to growth. For example: If you start working with a charity or people group you’re passionate about, your world will grow.  Suddenly it won’t be about you and your relationship, it will be about serving others around you, seeing outside of yourself, and you may even realize how much you need God in the midst of that.  A few years ago, I ended a relationship just as I was growing very passionate about abolishing modern-day slavery. Putting my energy into that passion helped me realize that I had outgrown my relationship and it made me less afraid to end it knowing that there was more left in the world to do if the relationship didn’t work out.  It was one of the better realizations I could have had at that time in my life.

There’s no easy fix to this issue. My guess is, we battle some form of idolatry our entire lives. We are constantly asked to choose and we have a myriad of choices. How do we keep putting God in his rightful place whilst also pursuing relationships and dating? It’s not easy. I’ve only grazed the surface of this one. I’d love to hear your comments if you’d so choose to share. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Leave a comment below.

New Beginnings…

14 Jun

Change can be good. Especially when it’s done with friends at your side!

It’s June.  Almost the summer solstice that I am about to mark yet again. I’m in a different space this year than last.  Rather than heartbroken, I’m giddy. Rather than stuck, I’m exploring.  Rather than holding tightly, I’m along for the ride. There have been so many changes over the past 10 weeks that I don’t completely know how to process them.

New JobPrayers answered. I’m on the brink of something really great here at my new job. Here I get to interact with a whole new set of people. I’m working for four men instead of two women, and that dynamic is definitely interesting. Rather than talking breast pumps and pregnancy, I schedule lunches and people in suits who want to meet with my 4 bosses. I dream in Outlook calendars rather than T-ball games. I work in one of the most well-known cities in the world versus a tucked away town outside of LA that doesn’t want to be discovered.  I drive through Koreatown, downtown, and midtown to get here. It takes awhile and I’m trying to get used to the drive.

But in the midst of this change is a promise. That I could be about to be a part of something bigger. Something forming in me since I was 15 years old and first started to date. That maybe all of these relationships that I’ve had, all of the gamut of emotions – the turmoil, the hope, the loss, the fear, the anger, the sadness, the deep love I’ve longed for, the letting go, the breaking off, the taking a breath, the serial monogamy, the years on my own when I really started to grow into who God has made me to be…maybe all of that will come to a much bigger purpose than I ever imagined. After all, I work at a company that is all about dating.  We’ll see. Like I said, along for the ride…

 

New Move– Not me, my parents. It’s sad to see your family leave. A year and a half ago, all three of them were here. We had automatic plans on Sunday holidays. At Christmas. Birthdays. While my parents aren’t going far and they’ve done this before, I can’t seem to help but think this is a sad end to a California dream. They are excited to move to AZ, but at the same time, I’m wrestling again with what “home” means to me.  More movement. More shifts. When I got so good at sitting still and listening, people around me, even my own body is being forced to move. To grow. To change and shift. It feels uncertain and yet I am reminded to trust, once again.

 

Taking pictures when you don’t have a photographer

New Possibilities – I’d be remiss to not say something in this about the change I’ve experienced in the last 10 weeks due to a special someone. J How do I even explain what it means to suddenly have someone in your life who wants to know you and grow with you in what you’re going through? In the midst of all of this craziness and change, I met a guy that I am quite excited about. Not because he’s the same, but because he’s different. From me, from the others I’ve dated in the past, and from some of the preconceived expectations that I’ve had for the next guy I would date.  He’s solid, he has a great character, he loves Jesus. He’s a Sunday school teacher and a welder.  He’s introverted, I’m not.  He’s funny, but gentle.  He gets me even when I have trouble getting myself.

 

It’s early, I know. I’m doing my best to take my own advice and date in community, take risks when I’m fearful , go slow and trust God with it all. After all, the timing in this seems too strange to be me trying to force a relationship.  I met him in April during my 3 day church-wide fast. I had just led a chapter in life group about trusting God.  And here’s the crazy thing: I met him on Christian Mingle, the dating site where I also now work!  I didn’t know I would meet him. I didn’t know I would get this job. I am just along for the ride and all of these new beginnings!  Thanks, God, for hearing my prayers during the fast. Things haven’t been the same since in so many ways and I’m thankful.

Dating In Community: What Does It Actually Look Like?

20 May

We’re all in this together…except when it comes to my dating relationship. What?! Why would I isolate myself from those who know me best?

The term “dating in community” has come up a lot lately both in my circle of friends, with my roommate, and as I’m reading more from dating experts.

What does it actually mean?

It sounds like a nice enough concept but sometimes it’s harder than it looks. True confession: I’ve made my home on Boy Island more than once and it’s only after I emerged during the breakup phase of the relationship that I realized that I wasn’t actually letting my friends and family into my relationship. Otherwise, had I let them in, they would have seen red flags months before and noticed how much I was changing and not being me in those relationships, and alerted me to that fact. Would it have made a difference? Maybe yes, maybe no, but it would have likely saved me time being in relationships that were not right for me.

As I watch my friends date and I go out on dates, I notice that there’s this tendency to close off from other people. At the beginning, this is normal. You’re getting to know someone, you’re in the “fun” phase of the relationship, and all you really want to do is spend time with the new person in your life. That’s fine. But after the newness starts to fade, some people (myself included) often make the mistake of staying in their little twosome bubble and not allowing friends and loved ones to be a part of the relationship. Please don’t mistake this: I’m not advocating that dating in community means that we need to tell everyone in our community our deepest darkest secrets or spend no time with our significant others without a third party present. What I’m noticing is this trend to separate off into couplehood quickly without completely understanding the ramifications of that decision. And there are ramifications.

From what I’ve noticed, when a couple becomes exclusively “a couple”, some tend to drift quickly toward co-dependency and then suddenly doing things alone seems impossible. Also, the stable networks of friends and family go by the wayside and often feel neglected and ditched when it doesn’t have to be this way.  If the couple would think about hanging out in group settings once in awhile, finding some close co-ed couples to hang out with (maybe even married people who they trust), getting to know each other’s friend networks…this might actually be healthy. Then dating in community would be possible and breakups might not be so completely devastating. (They are bad enough because of the fact when breakups happen, it’s like losing a best friend. But when you wake up and realize you’ve lost all of your friends, that makes the transition from couplehood to singlehood again even more precarious.)

The pattern I notice (and I’ve been this girl) is that once a girl and guy break up, a girl suddenly realizes she needs her friends but because she’s been MIA for many months at a time, her friends feel resentful that they now have to be there for her when she hasn’t reciprocated the friendship due to her relationship with her former boyfriend. Her friends, being rockstars, often begrudgingly help her through her breakup and then she sees how neglected they’ve been. Then she goes off and does it again. It’s a pattern. We all do it, to some degree because it’s natural to shift priorities, have less time, etc when you start dating. But noticing the pattern and committing to date in community could be a healthier way to date in the long run.

Dating in community to me means not becoming one of those people that gets so sucked into their one relationship that they neglect everything else. Work, friendships, family obligations, self-care time, spiritual time, schooling, and other things that fill your schedule shouldn’t just completely fall by the wayside as soon as someone starts to capture your attention. It’s a delicate balance. It’s definitely not easy.

I have several ideas of how to date in community. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m also a student in this respect, wanting to learn how to do it well.  But what I’m going to do in my next relationship is  to be open about it with various people and let them into the process through prayer, time spent with me and my significant other, conversations, and by asking for accountability in this area.

Sometimes love means having the ability to say to your friends, “I want you to help me date well because I lose myself in relationships. I need your eyes, ears, and knowledge of who I am as I do this.”

What will this look like? 

-Have my friends and family get to know the guy before I’m too serious and get to see us in the context of our relationship. Ask questions. Am I still me? How am I doing on my boundaries I set for my time apart from the new guy? How do I behave when I’m around him? How does he behave? Does he treat me well? So many times my parents have told me after the fact that they didn’t like the way I was treated by many of the guys I’ve brought home to meet them. And they were right. But I wasn’t at a place where I wanted to hear them because I liked my little spot on Boy Island and I didn’t really want to leave. That’s why when dating in community it’s essential that you…

Listen to the answers! If there are red flags, what am I going to do about those? If I’m staying in the relationship because I’m too afraid of the pain of a break up, I need to admit this to my friends and hopefully they will help me make the decision to end things irregardless.

Talk to married people, not just single people. They will help me know if this guy is a keeper and knowing marriage, they will be able to see things that my single friends might miss. Love my single friends. They know me so well. But getting a broader perspective is key.

Not succumb to pressure by others to make a quick decision but have fun dating and getting to know someone. It’s not helpful when people start throwing out the “M” word wayyyy too early. Not helpful at all. You can tell your community to “SHHHH!” if they are doing this to you. I’ve had to say that before to others.

-To Facebook or Not To Facebook? Funnily enough, part of dating in community has now become all about social networking. Do we share this info about our new dating relationship with our social networks and how? When? Trying to make a good decision about “going public” is huge in the context of dating in community. Thinking about and discussing this topic is important. I will blog more about this another time.

There’s a lot of other ways to “Date in Community.” Have you done it? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? I’d love to hear so that we can start idea sharing and help each other grow.

Reader’s Choice: Which Of These Topics Do You Want To Read About?

19 Apr

I’m thinking so much I can’t really write it all down. It’s frenetic thinking. Too fast. I can’t just focus on one thing tonight. So instead of writing one blog about one thing, I’m going to let you vote on which topic you want me to write about. Leave a comment below and I’ll write a blog this weekend about it.
The Role of Kissing In Casual Dating : Some guy asked me about casual dating the other day and what I thought about it. I can share my thoughts about it here.

How to Deal with A Breakup Right After It Happens: I’ve covered this some but can go into more detail if anyone is interested.

What Jury Duty Taught Me About Chance Encounters, Tenant’s Rights, and Myself

Why I Think Texting Hinders Good Dating Practices

How Titanic Taught Me In My Search For Home And Why I’m Convinced It’s A Good Movie

My Thoughts On The 3 Day Fast I Just Completed.

 

What My Car Breaking Down Has Taught Me About God.

What the return of the boy band means for the Mayans predictions that the world will end this year. (okay that one is mostly a joke).

(Insert your own topic here and I’ll consider it).  This is the best I can do at 1AM.

 

An “I Miss You” Poem

17 Apr

Fade Fast, Sparks

I’m feeling awfully and pathetically poetic tonight.

I knew it’d come, though a few months too late.

You talked of destiny, feelings, and fate,

But forgot to fade fast enough to be out of sight.

______

While not shallow by nature, but deep, in fact,

I like silly things and waste too much time.

Is it naive for me to think of us as sublime?

Is it strange how easily I neglect what we lacked?

_______

You slip away too slowly, Snow on a cold spring day.

A sticky group of memories, bursting all over the place.

Chasms of quick color in the midst of white space,

Leave me at peace or come back for a permanent stay.

______

My world waits up for you only to be calmly neglected,

You never promised me much but a moment.

Rather than grasp the loss of you, I refused to own it.

It seems for extinguished sparks, I was particularly selected.

______

Waiting for this familiar war in me to finish,

I keep faith in the possibility that I wasn’t wrong.

I trusted deeply, broke completely, and finally sang an authentic song,

Left with a sweet hope that will never fully diminish.

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