The wrong way

“Christina you do the RIGHT things, the completely WRONG WAY.  I mean you do things for the RIGHT reasons, and with the right end result, but the WAY you go about doing it is ALL WRONG. “

Why did that statement seem to catch me crossways, then once my brain untwisted the double negative, positive, negative; I was OH… well YEAH!!! And I was actually proud of this.  It took me a while to unpack why this was a truth and not just another one of those back-handed criticisms I had been hearing over and over again.  It was true, I do things the WRONG WAY.  But before you begin to argue with this being a POSITIVE aspect, let me explain a little of my journey to who I am as a person. 

Yes let us take a journey back to my CHILDHOOD, I know I am seeing a new counselor these days, but bear with me this is unrelated I PROMISE.  When I was in school, I would hear the process and method to follow, but once I saw it I was bound and determine to do it another way.  Now with all the creative writing papers that I wrote, there were still some fundamentals that were REQUIRED in order for people to FOLLOW, understand, or comprehend my writing.  So I struggled over and over with trying to produce written papers for various subjects that followed the rules, provided me with passing grades, and received praise for quality writing.  Things were even more complicated in Math class.  I would show my work, but I was always trying to solve the math problems in reverse order.  Or in an order I thought would be JUST as good, but alas as much as I wanted the math text to be wrong it VERY rarely was.  But nevertheless I TRIED. 

There was something written into my DNA or drilled into me as a child that there could be another way to get to the result.  So I was almost born with that poem by Robert Frost about taking the road less traveled.  But I didn’t necessarily want to be alone by myself, but I wanted to discover something NEW.  I wanted to go a direction or use a method no one had ever tried but have it arrive at the successful answer.

Later in life I have slowly come to the realization that those are the exceptions to the rule and it usually takes a LOT of hard work, trial and error, and FAILING to find a NEW way of doing something, especially when it comes to writing, math, business, science, getting a job, and making friends.  But even with my acceptance of reality or the conforming to the norms, there is still a part of me that does not quite submit the way EVERYONE else does things. 

And it is in this that my friend found the words to say that I do things the WRONG way.  When it comes to friendships, relationships, and people I do not like the way that certain groups of people approach things.  I will refer to it as a life philosophy: men and women can’t be friends, only nice people can have friends, or once you do things perfect you won’t be judged anymore.  All crap in my mind.  And on the surface you would be hard pressed to find people who say they agree with those life philosophies.  BUT the way that most people act it supports those life philosophies either on purpose or on accident. 

I decided years and years ago that there were certain things I would do differently than everybody else; but I was doing them because it was right (in my mind).  So sometimes I will have a method or practice that supports my life philosophy but looks weird or funny to the world at large.  And I am perfectly content with that.  I mean how else does someone change the world than to stand apart from EVERYONE else on something (no matter how small).  It is not end, but it is a beginning.  And even though so many people want to part of a group who does everything the way they are comfortable with, so many more of us are looking for people who care, love, accept, support, embrace, and connect with us in a different way than the norm. 

So with proud confidence, I will admit that YES, I do things the WRONG way, but it gets me to the right place.  I just take a different road to get there, wouldn’t Robert Frost be proud?

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Its JUST A GYM – And Other Exercise Myths

What They Looked Like if there were 20 in a Row

I am reminded of a trap I fell into at the beginning of the year, that hundreds if not thousands of people embrace every year right around the new year.  I joined a Gym.  I know I KNOW what was I thinking?  New years resolution, new body, new energy, or new attitude it is hard to say.  I had been on the food plan about 6 months at that point and I believe I thought that if I could just incorporate a little exercise it would help keep me on track. 

So there I was at the 24 hr fitness SPORT edition looking at what looked like the biggest complex I had ever seen.  Well that’s how it feels until you start to use the gym and then you just feel like a sardine packed into a giant treadmill factory.  Of course it reminds me of how some offices are set up making the people feel like half employees because the cubicles are smaller than an average coat closet and the walls only provide an illusion of sound reduction.  But I wasn’t thinking I would be ONLY using the treadmills.  I mean I had ideas of using the bikes, taking a class, doing some swimming.  I figured if I’m paying for it I will be motivated to go.  So that is the myth all gyms are preying upon, because even though it was my own idea and ambition to join for the convenience, it was the allure of all those options that kept me paying each month despite my non attendance from February to October. 

But let’s return to the scene of the commitment, when I signed up I was assured I would get a tour.  I would have someone I could ask questions to and be guided through all this big bad intimidating equipment.  I opted to WAIT and not pay for the $100/hour trainer because I wanted to see how this was going to affect my budget.  So when I waited until my timing was right, about 2 weeks, I walked in and I was ready for this engagement in the GYM.  But I walked in the door, they swiped my card and when I asked about the tour, not only did they look at me with confusion and irritation; but it took 10 minutes for a non-specialist, non-trainer 12 year old to come to the front to “show me around”.  There was no instruction, there were no questions about what are you interested in, or what do you have questions about.  It was here’s the bank of treadmills (okay that is my word mostly because they literally looked like a set of telephones in an outbound sales office, minus the cubicles).  Here’s the locker room, Upstairs the classroom, and free weights, and the pool is at the end of the hall.  Now there may have been more, but it sure was not what I was expecting and it DEFINITELY did not satisfy my need for direction. 

As I retreated to the safety of the women’s locker room, I was trying to figure out exactly where to start my workout.  I was originally going to just do a simple 30 minute work out on a treadmill… but having walked by the farm with no privacy, protection, or even space from the outside world, I was CONVINCED that was not going to be the choice.  Did I mention that it was 5:30pm on a weeknight?  Shouldn’t that be part of the orientation packet?  Oh by the way, the busiest times are between here and there AND ALL the pretty people who are looking to hook up with each other arrive between 5:15pm – 7:00pm so if you want to feel completely self-conscious and evaluated like a Parade Pony make your entrance during those times.  So NO I would not be making my GYM debut on a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical.  That and I forgot the headphones to the iPod, DANG IT!!

Now what?  Trapped in a women’s locker room bathroom stall, I began to ponder the stupidity of this investment.  I had paid my good hard earned money for this place; and I couldn’t get myself to leave the stall.  Yeah JUST a GYM, just a place, JUST a one stop shop for all your exercising needs.  I was beginning to EMBRACE how much of a lie that really was.

Just a Woman with a Shovel

I was working on a service project yesterday with the singles group I have recently adopted as my new social circle (to which I am ecstatically happy about).  We were doing landscape work (you know laymen’s pulling weeds, trimming bushes, and digging out unwanted plants).  Yes I am sore and yes it was great refreshing work on an occasionally misting BRIGHT Overcast Oregon Day.  I even shed a couple of layers as the day progressed and I do not have a sniffle from working in the rain, so the weather must have been alright. 

My Tool of Choice on Saturday

As I was digging out the root systems of a plant that I know not the name of, I stumbled across an interestingly little attitude.  I am surrounded by men and women, single and married, young and old.  I am realizing the shovel I am using is not going to get all of the root system out and if I put too much strain on it the shovel might break.  Since it isn’t my shovel I thought I should be more careful OR I’m gonna end up buying someone a shovel. 🙂  So I start to think about how can I get this particular bush dug out since the tool I have isn’t going to cut it. 

One of the youngins (say 12 – 15 I THINK) had this pick axe type thingy so when I realized that my shovel wasn’t going to cut it, I called him over and asked for his assistance.  I didn’t know his name and I wasn’t even sure if he was ALL that thrilled about being here to help.  You know that typical teenage facial expression they have, when they just seem irritated at everything and everyone-kind of face?  Well I pretend I don’t see it and ask for help.  He graciously does what I ask and we were able to tackle 3 bushes that way.  I dig, he breaks the deep thick roots.  It was working amazingly effortlessly. 

Not to mention that I felt completely comfortable telling him where the root was that needed hacking.  He saw a few himself and I just dug around it, it seemed like quite the partnership.  I wasn’t insecure or worried or concerned about the words I was saying or HOW I was saying them.  It just worked and we got things done. 

Then there was this question… Why do I feel more comfortable asking a youth person for help with something than I do asking a man for help?  Now this wasn’t just some random fleeting thought that was making an appearance with no foundation in reality.  This received a definite head nod from the judges.  IT WAS TRUE!!! Even on that very day when I was working on this project if I would run into a snag or situation where I would need help, my mind would INSTANTLY reject the idea of asking another guy, man, dude in the group for help. 

So why is that?  Where does that come from?  Am I that much of a feminist that asking for a man’s help would result in betraying all womankind’s achievements in independence?  Or is it meerly that I refuse to swallow my pride and ask a man for help? 

When I spent the next dozen hours or so analyzing this newly realized attitude of mine, I came up with a few things I THINK might possibly be the reason:  1) I want to do things a certain way.  Yes there are times I am a control freak, but other times I think that if I ask for help I won’t get to continue along the method and process I am following.  2) I won’t get credit for the work I DID DO.  Not that there is this GIANT score card out there keeping track of what I have accomplished, but there are times where I want to prove my usefulness.  I want to do my part, make a contribution, and having been a valuable ADDITION to the current group of people.  And if a man does it for me than why am I there? 

FINALLY, and this one I think is the one that rings most true.  I DON’T want them to take it over.  I guess in my previous experience a lot of the men in my life have not been good at JUST HELPING.  So when asked for assistance on one particular portion or area, it is interpreted as DO THIS FOR ME instead.  As a result, I lose my ideas, feel ignored, think I am not needed, and can not say with pride and confidence LOOK AT WHAT I DID. 

And yes for this woman I NEED to be listened to, have my ideas validated, feel NEEDED, have pride and CONFIDENCE that I DID SOMETHING-no  matter how small.

Curious side note:  Less than 1 hour later, I was working on another project with a guy and I asked him to cut the area I was working in (since he had the saw) and over the course of 5 minutes proceeded to ignore every suggestion I made.  Not only cut in a completely different area, but didn’t cut the branches that allowed me to pull them out of his way so he could continue cutting.  At one point I do believe I made a mental *throws hands in the air in disgust* and mumbled, “… or not.”  At which point someone asked for his help on some other project.  Ahhh interpersonal relationships, gotta love em.

Trusting People – My Issues

So with all these ideas and postings about trust shouldn’t it be my next logical step to actually explain my own “TRUST ISSHUES”.  I mean I can’t possibly be as special as I imagine in this area can I?  I can’t actually have been hurt so badly and suffered OH SO MUCH as to believe that my inability to trust is unique, Can I? 
 
Don’t we all have trust issues?  I mean who hasn’t trusted a friend to help them move, give them a ride, get them a cup of coffee, keep a confidence, or be honest with them about how they look; only to have them not follow through and do what the say?  Not to mention those times we ALL realized our parents were fallible – they lied about a decision, cheated on their taxes, treated their spouse badly, or stole/borrowed office supplies – I mean the superman or wonder woman uniforms have to be turned in at SOME point.  What about those moments when you were out in the world out there and encountered HORRIBLE people – some one tries to trip you on a bus, a group of girls points with condescending laughter, or a co-worker lies to you about what they did. 

This doesn’t include the manipulative and deceiving dance that is dating/mating/game-playing – man tells ya he’s totally interested but won’t return your phone calls, woman says God doesn’t want her to date right now – but a week later she IS dating someone else, or someone says your amazing, cool, fantastic, hot looking, sweet, gonna make someone extremely happy one day only to drop you like a hot rock when you reciprocate an ounce of those feelings.  Ooopss… Squirrel!!!
 
Who wouldn’t be a little messed up? eh?  But I do not think I have cornered the market on these experiences.  I know of many people who have shared with me stories about people saying one thing and then doing another.  Someone who pledges their undying love one minute only to recant these same feelings within hours or days of their original FEEELINGS.  There are many with abusive family histories whose children cannot trust authority because their parents were always a source of pain and chaos.  People who put their ever waking moment into serving a church that in their darkest hour disowned them or decided to move on to a younger cooler leader. 
 
So even though I am not the only one with these kinds of disappointments, I find myself entering more and more relationships (friendships, family like relationships, and romantic ones) with this cautious, unsure, disbelieving, ever-doubting, almost cynical approach.  Instead of being excited about the possibilities, which, trust me, my heart and soul immediately want to jump head-first into the deep end of the pool in almost reckless abandon hoping that THIS relationship will be THE ONE.  Not just the DATING one, but the Best Friend who will really care and really say what they mean.  The mentoring woman figure who will really help me and be honest and love and accept me while telling me the truth.  I long to be in relationships that matter, are real, will make me a better person, meet my need to belong, and fill the gap I have in my heart.  But there is always this WAIT, BE CAREFUL, TIME WILL TELL, TEST IT voice that creeps up to the surface to keep me from actually DIVING into a relationship.  
 
In a world where I know I am not unique in my distrust of people, I am continually asking myself do I trust too much or too little?  Where is that line between gullible push over easy prey and cautious callous skeptic?  Just one more example of my all or nothing thinking… but how does one find the middle?

Trusting People – The Chosen Few

I have heard time and again the significance of the fact that Christ only choose 12 disciples.  That he didn’t just pick 12 random guys, but that it would have been TOO difficult to mentor, teach, and be in close intimate relationship with more than 12 people at any given time.  As an extrovert who wants to be surrounded by people and adored by people in MASS quantity ALL THE TIME!!! The idea of only having 12 people as your closest friends does not see to be ENOUGH. So who are my twelve?  Who if I were to list them could I bring out to the surface? 

Heidi the logical stronghold

Brent the challenging realist – debating desenter

Tina the cheerful participant

Amber the loyal listener

Delia the Dedicated Co-worker in crime

Linda the sweet heart of guided encouragement

Barb the talking one who does it all

Sarah the Strive to be all to all people

Ric N Barb the encouragers to the stars

David the in the moment man

Tesha dedicated strong woman

Lisa the learn to live in the real

These are the first 12 to enter my mind… and these do not even begin to include the new/old friendships that have recently reappeared into my life.  The ones who are bringing to light some of my history as well as shining light in areas of my life I have always had to explain to others; but these people KNEW me or should I say KNOW me.   What a great time in my life that I have so many to influence and guide my life.  Where does one even begin to voice appreciation and thankfulness for their presences and support.  The things I could not do without them, the things I have overcome because of them.   As one who loves the words and craves the attention, I do not reciprocate my feelings of thankfulness and appreciation very well.  Maybe that needs to go on my list…

I am also reminded of a dear friend who committed suicide a few years ago with a list of names he titled… the ONLY people who will even notice I am gone.  There were 15 names on that list – he was depressed and in despair because there were ONLY these names in his mind.  I was surprised to find my name at the top of his list and that there were also key people who cared about him not even listed.  Although the logic of a suicidal person can not necessarily be analyzed, there were moments when I would try to think about those times in my life when I couldn’t even count 6 people who were close to me.  I could not put a list together of 6 people who I trusted and could go to for advice, assistance, love, support, or even cab fare out of a scary neighborhood. 

There are times when I find my dial a friend action only results in Voicemails and I can’t talk right now texts.  I remind myself that friendship does not work like a genie in a bottle and that at times when there is no one to talk with, it may JUST be because I am supposed to be quiet.  As an extrovert those are fighting words.  To tell me to wait, be quiet, stop talking, be still, listen are just plain torturous tasks.  I know not REALLY… but I’m allowed to be Dramatic for emphasis right? 

So in the question of trust and friendship is it the one who picks up the phone or the one who lets you talk for hours?  Is it the one who knows all your secrets yet has not abandoned you or the one you don’t have to tell you secrets to?  Is the personality, personal trauma (we withstood together), or providence that make friendships WORK?

Trusting People – Time for New Friends

About 9 months ago, I realized more than normal I was alone.  I had been the singles leader at my church for 2 years and had incorporated a lot of those people into my life as roommates or friends and began to see my life in a whole new way.  I thought I was helping, I thought I was doing ministry, and I thought I was living with friends who were all going in the same direction. 

It was only after months and months of being around these people, who seemed on a WIDE range of broken, dysfunctional, immature, self-righteous, and self-centered that I realized I was living with new eyes the time of my early 20’s.  I see those times of my life as exciting and full of fun and inspiration and life shaping.  But if I were to actually go to the video footage of those times I can only assume it would be way less pretty and glorious as I remember it. Rose colored glasses are GREAT, right?  So as I believed that I could influence, shape, mentor, or mold these new friends into the type of person that God wants them to be OR make them into better people… somewhere that grand bold plan fell apart.  Yet these were not just like my students from years before, they were my friends.  OR at least they were the closest thing I had to friends.  Their choices made no sense to me and I couldn’t relate to their behaviors and dysfunction.  I didn’t want to be judgemental and I didn’t want to be pompous, but there was something in my that just STIRRED so strongly that I couldn’t continue to spend my every day and every prayer in and around a group of people who did not want what I wanted – Mental, spiritual, financial, social, intelligent, and professional HEALTH. 

It was only after some significant moments of hurt and frustration, roommates moving out, my distancing myself from others that I realized with such sad desperation I was alone again.  Alone like Seattle, Alone like college, alone like freshman year in high school.  But in retrospect it was a wise decision.  The season of alone is never fun, the confrontations and disconnection that happened were very painful.  The doubt I experienced because I held to my beliefs and standards caused rejection and discord on some mighty painful levels.  Yet I pulled away from those friendships because it was the right thing to do.  I choose to be alone rather than be swimming in unhealth.  I choose to detach from the things that were giving me permission to be stagnant in order to pursue greater things.  It was difficult wrestling with the constant feeling that I had disowned them or that I was rejecting them out of arrogant self-righteousness.  That some how it was WRONG of me to decide not to be friends any more. 

I even said to a TOTAL stranger at a new church that I needed new friends.  So I started praying for new friends.  It didn’t happen immediately, it actually took about 9 months 🙂 and now I am in a group of diverse personalities (D’s and I’s and S’s and C’s – ALL of them).  People who read the word and pray for reals.  People who go to church for God and what they can get out of the teaching.  People who like crafts and service and sports and laughing and the beach and music and talking and movies and games… They like to DO things with EACH OTHER. 

The time I spent alone taught me to appreciate and value the good when it arrives.  But it also allowed me to grieve the loss and completely disconnect from the unhealth without having to compare or complain about the previous people in my life.  It has put me in a place to value the friends I do have that are close to me and really engage in friendships with these new people who I already respect and want them to actually INFLUENCE ME… that is something that is new… or at least NEW AGAIN.

Trusting People – Whose your brother?

There are levels or depths to the relationships I have in my life.  Often times I will categorize them as friendships, romance, acquaintances, co-workers, and family.  My family of origin has not provided me with any form of emotional or physical support for most of my life, so I have always searched elsewhere.  The most dramatic memories of this happened when I was in Jr High, when the George family seemed to adopt me in every way shape and form.  That was also the first time I experienced a relationship with a guy that was deeper than friendship, but not romantic.  At the time I didn’t know what it was and I couldn’t explain it to anyone who asked.  And if any one asked if I like Scott, I would respond with classic 6 year old tone… EWwwww NO WAY!!! As if someone had suggested that my BROTHER was hot… I mean EWwww gross.  In wise aged reflection, I can see that it was one of those family type relationships – I saw him really as my brother.  We did the typical tease, hit, yell, torture, harass each other treatment and if someone had not feared the BOTH of us, they might have actually said we liked each other.  But to me he was my brother through and through… (at least during that season of my life)

In one of my conversations with my friend Brent, I was describing that I had a new relationship in my life… and that I was totally excited about having a little brother again.  He was completely confused because I had described this guy as funny, goofy, outspoken, active, spiritual, serving, and on the cute side (I said somewhere between cute and HOT… but I don’t know what that description is suppose to be), BUT even with those positives working in his favor, I was kicking him to friend zone (that is a LONG explanation for another day)… well and after one trip to the beach I had moved him from friend zone to brother zone.  At which point Brent so eloquently asked: WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES THAT MEAN?  Well, it’s closer than a friend but without any romantic involvement.  Where I promptly received that all too familiar guy response: “Huh?” So I had to ask myself, how do I describe brother zone?  What is it that makes me believe a relationship is CLOSE but not romantic?  Why is the brother relationship so intimate and important to me? 

I have to look back at my time at Sunnyside OH so many years ago, as an adult, when it felt like this church social circle was my family.  And in that family there were men in my life who loved me, cared about me, and I protected me from harm.  I did not date in this group, and I was only ever asked out once; but they were the most important people in my life.  There was something in the way we related, talked, worked together, and looked at each other that was different and special.  I began to look back at the relationships I had then and knew that there were various personalities, skills, giftings, attitudes, ages, and stages of life for the men who I FELT were my brothers.  What did they do?  What did they say?  It was all different and some of it was NEVER spoken at all. 

It begins in my gut, then oozes into my mind, worms its way into my heart, comforts my mind and sets my spirit free when I am around them.  Sometimes it’s just the mere gift of a hug from someone who is not afraid to touch me (yes some/most men are uncomfortable touching me) or it could be listening to my stories or how crappy my day has been.  It may be that they defended me verbally in some way, or just showed some sign of respecting my opinion (even though I’m a woman).  Either way it is something I FEEEEEL and trust; yes there are moments of testing these FEEEELings to see if they are valid. HOwever, it is not planned nor do I think about how I’m gonna TEST them today. 🙂  So monday I had the privilege of FEELING that feeling again… some one had entered my life who  I could trust and be at peace around and feel safe being myself with.  Ahhhh to have a brother again… Oh how I missed it… and oh how I have needed that. 

As much as I would like to be dating and be special and be thinking about marrying someone… having a brother to make my life full of life and excitement and love and TRUST is an incredible FEEELING!!! What a gift… one I will not take for granted AGAIN… EVER!!!

PS I still miss my brothers from the past and will never forget how they have shaped me into the woman I am now… and for that I beyond grateful.  Miles, Hunker, Nate, Joe, Brian, Kelly, Perry, and Leo… just to name the ones that are RIGHT THERE at the top.