The Great Salsa Adventure

No, not salsa dancing, though I suppose that would be a fun adventure as well. Allow me to elaborate on my salsa adventure this last weekend.

So, a friend of mine came over for dinner one night, and he left a jar of salsa in my refrigerator by mistake. Shortly after he left, he texts me:

“My salsa got left behind. O.O”

“I just noticed that. That’s okay. I’ll hold it hostage. The fee to get it back will be some kind of fun mini adventure. Until then, I’ll keep it safe.”

Little did I know what I had begun.

His suggestion was to go 2 1/2 hours away to visit his good friends, he is the godfather of their children, and spend the weekend with them. I live in South Carolina, we were heading to North Carolina. If you’ve been watching the news last weekend, you may have seen that we had a rather blustery winter weekend. Blizzards and icy roads and whatnot. Many told us we were insane to drive north in such weather, but did we listen? NO. We were determined! My dad insisted I bring  heavy winter jacket and a blanket, just in case something happened and we were stranded on the side of the road.

“We’ll be fine Dad,” I say. “we’re not going to be stranded on the side of the road.”

Parents have a way of being somewhat prophetic.

About an hour (ish) into our trip, we passed by a wreck on the highway. The roads were bad off, but as long as you kept fairly slow and didn’t do anything sudden, it was fine. Apparently the car in front of us didn’t know this rule. For whatever reason, they stopped quite suddenly in front of us, and even though we were pretty far off their back end, the ice made it impossible to stop in time. We ran right into them.

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This is Turbo. He didn’t make it. Rest in pieces. Thank you for protecting us with your airbags.

We then found ourselves…. stranded…. on the side of the road. I put on my winter jacket and knew that I would never hear the end of this from my father. Ever. But, regardless, he was wise to insist on my bringing it. The other vehicle was far less damaged, and drove away without an issue. No injuries for either cars passengers.

My friend and I laughed. A lot. I’m not sure if the adrenaline just needed a place to go, but we were happy to be alive and unharmed and just sort of giggled and cracked jokes to one another as the cop wrote his report and called a wrecker to come get us. He asked us where we wanted to be dropped off, and if we had called someone to come from home to get us. We told him we wanted to continue on our journey to NC, and to drop us at a 24 hour store. He looked at us like we were slightly insane. (We have decided we probably are.) After unloading poor little squished Turbo, and finishing talking to his insurance company, we were told they would not provide us with a rental. We found ourselves stranded at semi-run down 24 hour gas station. At night.

Determined to journey on, we called every taxi service we could find on the internet (yay, smart phones!) but all of them were closed due to weather, or didn’t serve the area we were in. Finally, we found a taxi service listed as “A Taxi”, which specifically stated it was a night taxi, and said in it’s description “We’ll get ya there!”. It seemed promising. So we called.

The guy who answered informed us that yes, he did have a taxi service. Before his taxi exploded. He was now out of business, but yellow pages had not removed his number from the site despite asking many times. He apologized and said it would probably be better if we found someone else.

However, my travel buddy is not one to give up easily. He told our out of service taxi friend our story. Finally the guy (His name was David!) told us if we couldn’t find anyone else, he would come get us in his personal car. We tried a few other numbers with no luck, and before we could call him back, he texts us to tell us he’ll do it. For about $150, to drive us all the way to our destination. By this time, it was about 9:30, we left my house at 5:45ish for our “two hour” trip. He told us he would be there to get us at 10:40.

So we sat on the floor and chatted and waited. The gas station attendants told us we should just consider getting a motel room for the night and continuing tomorrow, but we were dead set. And at about 10:50, our guy arrived. The drive was long, fairly treacherous, and very, very slow. We finished the remaining hour and a half worth of driving at 1am. The snow was falling sideways, and we were literally the only ones on the road, except for one SUV pulling people on a sled down the middle of the road. (At 12:45 in the morning!) Upon arriving at our destination, David told us he decided to drop the price to $135. So we paid him and thanked him profusely for his time and effort.

We made it. Bruised, exhausted, but exhilarated, we made a 2 and a half hour trip in 8ish hours. It was great.

The next day, we secured a rental car for our trip home, and spent the day relaxing, playing board and video games and enjoying one another’s company, telling stories and having a very good time.

Our trip home was much less eventful, thankfully. I think we had enough unexpected thrill for one trip. We made it back in the correct amount of time, safe and sound, filled with new stories and memories. The best of adventures.

Also, my friend has found a new car already, and it’s super cool.

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We may be insane, but our insanity lead us on such a grand adventure! I didn’t realize how much I liked adventures, such as this, until now. I’ve never had friends who were up for road trips, or friends that I wanted to be stuck in a car with for hours, actually. I love my friends, but I only have a few who are the type that don’t wear me out, and they’re gainfully employed or in school or married and can’t just go have adventures whenever. This trip brought to life a little place in my heart and mind that had been in a deep slumber. The part of me that loves venturing into the unknown just to see whats there, to learn by experience, try new things, and stay the path even when it looks bleak.

January 2016 is coming to a close faster than I could have imagined, and I didn’t intend to start this year with a bang in such a literal sense, but it was totally worth it.

 

 

Little Life Lessons

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Have you ever held a hermit crab? If you’re like me, you may have been too grossed out by their spider-like qualities to particularly enjoy them, but I have held one, and there is something interesting to be learned from their behavior. (Just totally ignoring that they occasionally pinch the living daylights out of you.)

When you hold a hermit crab, they initially withdraw into their shells, protecting their soft bodies by using the hard exoskeleton on their legs to block the little door of their mobile homes. But, if you hold them gently, are quiet, and don’t make fast or sudden movements, they will slowly come out, poke their little heads out and become curious. After they’ve started to explore, you can then move more and be less careful of scaring them. They’ve learned to trust the ground (your hand) that they’re standing on and aren’t afraid to check you out and see what you’re made.

As much as hermit crabs kinda freak me out, I can relate to them a lot. When I meet people for the first time, I tend to withdraw, barely participating in the small talk they offer me, often feeling a bit claustrophobic if they try too hard too fast to get to know me. But occasionally I meet people who sense my hesitation and back off a little. Still engaging me in conversation, but doing so more calmly, less demandingly, and sometimes even literally giving me space by going and talking to other people before coming back to me. And I love it when I meet people who do that. It seriously makes me feel so respected and understood.

At work, I can fake extrovert like a pro. I increase my volume, I start lots of pointless small talk conversations, I use witty comebacks and ignore when people invade my space. But it wears me out so much. By the time the end of the week comes, when I do most of my social activities with other Christians and people I would like to be friends with, I’m just out of it. I don’t have enough energy left to be a fake-tro-vert. And really, if I have to fake being SUPER outgoing just to make friends, what kind of friends am I really making?

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to say “Look, I’m antisocial and rude and I don’t like talking but you should love me even though I refuse to talk to you.”
Heck. No. I’m very social, I love talking, I love people, I love being in social situations. I feel very badly when I have those days when it’s next to impossible for me to be truly myself with people, those days when people try to talk to me and I just don’t respond in a way that shows them how much I really do want to get to know them. It kills me. I lay awake in bed at night sometimes just angry with myself for being that way. I pray regularly that on days when I’m just emotionally drained, that He would sustain me and help me be that kind hearted person He’s made me to be.

I don’t want people to have to cater to my “social needs”. I want to be flexible and easy to communicate with. I want to be accessible. And sometimes, I’m not. And on those days, when God brings into my life those understanding people who can see through my hard, cold shell and say to themselves “I bet she’s a really cool person, she just needs some space and TLC.” Gah. I just love those people. I need friends like that. They rock. See, I want to be my best for everyone. But I’m way too human for that. I need people in my life who understand that I have days when they’re like “HEY, how are you!!!” and I’ll just say “Oh, good!” and don’t even ask how they are, not because I don’t care, I always care. But because I’m struggling, I’ve got ten thousand things going on in my head, my reply was an auto-response. Deep down I thought “I should ask how they’re doing too”, but I know that I’ve got too much going on to listen in a way that they deserve, so I don’t ask.

I don’t ask people how they’re doing to hear “Good, you?”. I ask only when I want to know how. they. are. doing. I don’t want an auto-response, I want a look into their life. So why would I ask you how you’re doing when I’m passing you in a hallway, with maybe 50 seconds of time to converse? What a waste of speech! I’d much rather smile and say “Good morning!”, a friendly greeting, but no obligation to express anything about what’s going on in your life when neither of us has time for that at the moment. Make sense?

Back to people who give me space… Sometimes, in that group, they may not see much result from the totally awesome respect they invest in me. But I remember them. Always. And next time, I will seek them out. Having shown me they are safe, that they aren’t going to try and pry me out into the open, I will seek them out in a crowd. They unwittingly become my anchor into the group. No matter how loud and demanding that group becomes, I know I can seek them out for a moment of peace. And if they spend one-on-one time with me, I will open up and talk and be social. I like to invest in conversations, and it’s really hard to do that in group settings. I don’t start conversations that I don’t intend to finish, but in groups, often times the topic will get lost as more people join in and make other remarks and it’s just… I can’t follow it. It’s annoying. Or someone will make a comment that make me curious as to why they feel that way, but before I can get a chance to inquire, the whole topic has evolved and moved on and it’s no longer applicable, so I just file it away for later. I think I freak people out a little, because sometimes I’ll send a text to someone, or come up to them and be like “So, this comment you made like two weeks ago during this group conversation, tell me more.” I’m not a stalker I promise… I just… I’m curious.. *toothy grin*

Anyway. That’s my piece on how I relate to hermit crabs. (I made hermit crabs way deeper than they actually are. 😀 ) Summary: I like real conversations, not small talk. I like one-on-one time best, but in groups I do enjoy listening and learning about people by observation. I’m not a hermit, I’m an tenderhearted person who genuinely wants to know you, but feels attacked when you try and force me out into the open. And lastly, to those of you who treat people like me with the kindness and genuine respect that makes us want to be ourselves, thank you. You make us feel like we can shine. It’s people like you who help us grow. You are the answer to our prayers.

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~TQG

Can I be honest?

This post may or may not be very long, include multiple, seemingly unrelated topics, and appear somewhat disjointed. You have been forewarned.

I heard a song the other day one Air1. It was incredible, it set a fire in my mind, a chain reaction that lead to the most electrifying, thrilling thoughts about Heaven. Allow me to share with you the gist of the thoughts it inspired within my lil’ head.

We often think of Heaven for what will be there when we arrive. The untouched, pure nature, the animals, the people we miss, and of course, more than any of that, finally being with our Creator. And that is AWESOME. But there’s a part of Heaven I never even considered in depth until hearing this song.

We’ll be there. The real us. Not the sin hampered, war torn version of us that is present currently, but the part of us that is true and perfect. Everything truly good about us, the things that were knit into our being by God, those little glimmers of what we are truly meant to be when fully realized in Jesus will finally be set completely free of temptation, sin, and the weight of the burdens of this world.

Yes, Jesus has already freed us from sin, but how many of us have had those many, many times when we tried to rely on our own strength to fight temptation and failed miserably? *raises hand*  We are free from sin, but sin still has and influence on our lives, whether through our own actions or indirectly through the actions of others. Take a few moments to just sit and imagine being totally yourself, minus every sinful thought you’ve ever had, minus every memory of every failure, every unkind thought that ever crossed your mind. The freedom of no longer having to guard your heart, your eyes, your ears, and your mind from the evils of this world. Total freedom. Totality of redemption. The fullness of perfection. The weightlessness of your soul, no longer oppressed by a hostile world, or poisoned by the unavoidable inundation of crude humor, language and images.

I don’t know about you, but that is extremely exciting to me.

With that in mind, please enjoy the song. 🙂

If, at this point you’ve wondered about the title and warning at the beginning of this post, “Be honest about what?”, here it is.

I haven’t actually sat down and spent time in my Bible in …. I’m not even sure. A while.

I haven’t spent true, quality time praying and talking/listening to God in almost as long. Not counting the three or four times I’ve cried myself to sleep while talking to God recently, or the times I’ve spent maybe 20 minutes in prayer in my car before work.

Related to the above, I’ve cried myself to sleep a lot lately. Actually, I’ve just plan cried a lot.

I have been struggling so hard to be positive, to put effort into my friendships, to even reply to text messages.

Now, I consider myself to be somewhat of a smart cookie. (Is that a phrase? Or is it tough cookie? Because cookies should be soft, tough cookies are gross…) I know that if I solved the first problem (spending time in God’s Word), the other ones would pretty much take care of themselves. I know this. Truly. How can I experience the peace of God when I don’t spend time seeking His face? Answer, I can’t. I must seek His presence if I want to be lifted from this depressive state I’m currently in. But will you, whomever you may be, please pray for me? Even if it’s just a quick little prayer while you’re reading this post, it would be appreciated.

I miss my mom. I miss home cooked food. I miss having time to make my own home cooked food. I miss having someone to talk about “girl stuff” with. That’s what I’m crying over. I miss the life I used to have. Before the loss. I feel crushed under the weight of that loss sometimes.

We finally had her stone engraved and placed. It’s beautiful, but, they only put one “T” in Matthew. Not that big of a deal, you say? No one will notice? That’s true. But I cried about it for almost 30 minutes when I noticed it.

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I wanted it to be perfect. Does she care if there’s a T missing from Matthew? Nooo. But still, it bothered me that much. Less so now, but still… It’s there.

I feel like a total train wreck on the inside lately, and I miss being a child. Being able to just break down and cry whenever and wherever you are when you feel overwhelmed, and it be socially acceptable. Adults aren’t allowed to break down. Adults have to be… “adult” about it. Take it in stride. Keep on keeping on. But I feel like I just need a week to break down, fall apart completely, and start from scratch, much like I did when I was off work for two weeks after my mom died.

But I can’t do that. I have to keep going. Keep smiling. It may be a dark night, but there is a dawn approaching. I can’t see it yet, but through the promises of Christ, I know it’s coming. I have hope.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

~Isaiah 42:3 (Matthew 12:20 as well.)

I may be a bruised weed, but He will mend me and set me straight and tall again.

The Gift of Personality Types

I learned something today about “highly sensitive” people. Not highly sensitive as in “Watch your step around her, you might look at her the wrong way and she’ll assume you hate her!”, but more like “Man, I don’t know how she does it, but she always seems to know when I’m upset about something, even if I try and hide it…”

HSPs often pick up on subtle non-verbal cues better than the average person, their nervous system is actually wired differently, which makes them highly sensitive to subtleties, loud noises, and can cause them to become abnormally overwhelmed in crowds. Yes, it can make us more likely to read into things incorrectly, more jumpy for no apparent reason, but no personality quirk is flawless!

I’ve been reading a lot about the differences between the extroverted and introverted personality types, and I noticed a rather annoying trend. I seems to be that most of the articles written on the subject are basically trying to communicate one thought universally: “Be gentle with introverts, they’re fragile” and “Just learn to accept extroverts loudness and lack of sensitivity”. And that’s just not true! Introversion is a gift, not a curse, not a disability, not hindrance. Extroversion is a gift as well. Not a “con”, not a trait to be kept under control to avoid “damaging” the poor little introverts.

If the world consisted purely of the socialite extrovert, where would the mystery be? Who would you go to when you just needed to sit and talk about your problems to someone and have them listen without telling you about all the times that “same thing” happened to them?

If the world consisted purely of introverts, the world would be too quiet. Amusement parks would be far less crowded, and we, as a nation of introverts, would be all locked away securely in our comfort zones with no way of knowing the adventure waiting for us out there.

Extroverts can be great listeners. Introverts can be bold and adventurous. We work together, as differing personality types, to bring out the hidden qualities within each other. As an introvert myself, I love spending time with my extroverted friends. They gently push me out of my comfort zone, their enthusiasm for trying new things is infectious, they draw me into a brand new world of experiences. I would have to ask them what/if I do for them exactly, but from what I see, I think I help them learn to slow down their pace. They have to work harder to learn about me and it slows them down and helps develop their patience. They learn how to take pleasure in discovering things about their introverted friends, rather than just receiving offered information, as is often the way extroverts get to know one another.

We’re not opposites, trying to get along. We’re two sides of the perfect coin, learning how to be better versions of ourselves.

Extroverts, don’t apologize for who you are. You give us the gift of adventure! Without you we might never climb the mountains of the unknown. Thank you for giving us that extra little push to greatness.

Introverts, don’t feel disabled by your struggle to let people in, those who really want to know you will enjoy every minute of the adventure of getting to know your heart. They’ll fall in love with your mysterious charm.

Let’s work together to bring out the best in each other.

Dance Gypsies

If you saw the previous post, and the POV video from the rollercoaster I rode on Saturday, consider this post “Part Two”!

After leaving Carowinds, we went to a dance hall in Charlotte, for some Contra dance! Contra is a very easy to learn, fun to practice dance– no footwork, just memorizing some terms and listening to the caller. It’s such a fun way to get out of your comfort zone. It makes me feel like I’m in the Pride & Prejudice days. ^_^ This time, there was a guy there who talked to me while we danced, gave me some pointers on how to improve my dancing, taught me a few new moves, and also gave me this bit of advice: “Dear, if a man tries to spin you, but is to lazy to lift his arm high enough that you don’t have to duck, he shouldn’t be spinning you!” Which really amused me. He was an excellent lead. Really understood how to make the lady feel guided and protected throughout the dance. Contra has a LOT of spinning, if your lead isn’t careful, he can literally spin you into a wall, another person, or trip you if he’s not leading well. It’s his job to guide you through the moves and use caution to avoid spinning you off into oblivion! Trust me, it’s happened.

Likewise, I reached a whole new level in my following. It’s taken me such a long time to learn how to relax and follow the leads direction, go where he sends me, stay loose and easy to guide. Yet, be aware of where I’m supposed to be, so that if he does have a moment when he forgets where to send me, I can give him a gentle push in the right direction. Sometimes that means literally grabbing his hand and bringing him with you to the next move, which really doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Maybe being tired and physically exhausted from a long day riding rollercoasters helped me be more relaxed in it all. Whatever the cause, that night was one of the best nights contra dancing I’ve ever had.

No obligation to watch this whole video, but at least watch the first four minutes. This is the actual dance hall I was at! 🙂

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I went to Carowinds! Spent almost the whole day there yesterday and then went contra dancing right afterwards until 11pm. Didn’t get home from NC till after 1am. Pretty awesome day. Here’s a little peak at what I got to do. I rode this rollercoaster twice– AWESOME ride! 😀 325 feet high and 95 mph. Pretty intense.

Opthra–othp–oph-Ophthalmic?

I got a new job! I am now, officially,  an Ophthalmic Technician in training. Full-time employment! Finally, predictable hours and paychecks! (So many exclamation marks!) Plus, I get to wear scrubs. Which is basically like work pajamas.

So many awesome benefits to this job, such as having the same days off as my Dad, less of a commute, having opportunities to get certified in various parts of the field, etc. Really excited.

Oh, incase you, like me, had no idea what an Ophthalmic Technician was, they are the ones who do the first part of an eye exam, and they assist the Doctor. Having always been awestruck by the way eyes work, I’m really excited to learn.

Anyway, that’s the news of the week! YAY!

~TQG

The Joy Of Discovery

I live in the capitol city of a smallish southern state, though it doesn’t feel like it. Our airport is tiny, our city is large, but it doesn’t feel that way at all, the only attraction here is our Zoo, and a few historical sites, as far as I know (and I’ve lived here since I was about four years old). That being said, we’re still a capitol city, so I would think–and perhaps I’m wrong–that we set a good deal of the trends for the rest of the state.  Especially economically.

Last year around this time, there were three secular book stores and two Christian book stores in our area within decent driving distance (25 mins away at the most). This year there is one used book store (no new releases, just re-homed titles and dvds), the two Christian stores, and one secular bookstore that’s the farthest one away. There are others but they are 30-40 minutes away with no traffic–and there usually is traffic.

Very few agree with me on this, but my strong opinion is that the swift decline of book stores is caused by the oncoming storm of ebooks, e-readers, iPads, and other electronic devices that are being used to read “books”. Now to me, a book is a paper object with pages you have to turn by hand, it smells unique, feels fantastic, even has a marvelous sound when you flip from one chapter to the next, a sound filled with mystery and intrigue. There is something magical about going to a book store just to explore and finding a new adventure you didn’t expect.

The college I was taking classes at recently built a newfangled automatic book retrieving library. You go to a computer, look up the topic you want, and can request the title you want. Then a robotic system goes down to the isle, pulls your book, and drops it back to you. Now when I’m in a library, it’s the size, color, title, texture, age, and quality of the book that attracts me and makes me slide it off it’s dusty shelf and crack the cover. I’m drawn to older, worn out, slightly tattered books. Well loved books. Books that traveled far. After building this hi-tech library, they were shocked how rarely it was used. And I think this is why. Millions of dollars on all this tech and the students hangout and the coffee shop in the lobby and don’t venture into the library part much. I think many people, if mostly subconsciously, feel the same way about book discovery as I do. People may read more with their ebooks and iPads, but they miss out on the discovery of that book they never would have thought to pick up until it showed it’s spine right there before them on the shelf.

Eventually, there will be almost no books being printed, just released in electronic media. This is a scary thing. When it’s not down on paper, it can be much more easily tampered with, altered, redefined and mangled. All it takes is one person with ill intent being put in charge of a process of epublishing, and you risk having your work changed, stolen, or distorted. History is already being altered with paper books, but imagine the total destruction that can be done when all that’s needed is a few clicks and an “Apply to all copies” feature? You get a pop up on your iPad: “iBooks has a software update, install now?” and with one click your history book has been changed.

Now, I’m not against technology. I have my iPod touch, my Macbook, and I greatly enjoy them both. But power corrupts. And when you give already corrupt people the power of the written word, you spread that corruption. A deadly virus in the veins of humanity.

I don’t own any ebooks or ereaders, I do own one online copy of a book that was never released in hard copy, but that’s it. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s one too many. I greatly miss my bookstores, and I pray my library will not be too heavily effected…