An actually enjoyable womens event

I’ve never been big on women’s groups… In fact, since starting my theological journey towards Christian egalitarianism and feminism in the past few years, I have literally run from/avoided “ladies” events (yes, scare quotes and all!) like a fat kid in dodge ball. Here’s why, as best I can describe:

  1. I’m tired of the same old useless, tired theology about men/women. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve realized that putting people or God into tidy boxes doesn’t work. Characteristics and traits are not clearly gendered, like I was told they were. People are not “pink” or “blue” no matter how badly Emerson Eggerichs wants you to believe they are so that you will buy his book and his bad exegesis of Ephesians 5 (*runs away screaming*). Since I have stopped thinking of people in terms of “what men are supposed to do/be like” and “what women are supposed to not do/be like” my life is a whole lot better. I have more healthy friendships and relationships than I have ever had in my whole life. And I feel more free than ever to actually be myself and accept who I am in Christ.
  2. I don’t really like teas, or fancy sandwiches or floral centerpieces. I’ve heard several bloggers bemoan the fact that women have these semi-fancy events with lots of cuteness, both in the food and decor, but men have straight-up BREAKFAST, with bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits and coffee. If I’m going to go somewhere and listen to someone talk in a motivational manner at me outside of Sunday morning, then good Lord, let the food be good. I can get behind plenty if there’s bacon involved!
  3. Related to #1, but different- I rarely have recognized “myself” being discussed at these events. I work full-time and LOVE my job. I do have a child, but do not have any desire to be a stay at home parent. And it seems like most women’s events are geared towards a particular type of woman- one who is more interested in crafts than debating theology, one who would rather paint something than accomplish something, and one with low goals for her life, but heavy on emphasizing her role to support others around her. I’m not about that. I know that I sound harsh, and I don’t mean to be- but I have no problem confessing that I am the black hole of crafts. They don’t interest me. I do like to be creative in the kitchen- when and if I have time for creative space. But mostly, my creativity begins and ends with music and writing. I once went to a women’s event called “Authentic” (because my SIL made me). It was well-organized, and they had all of the elements that those kinds of things are supposed to have. However, the speaker, while well-spoken and articulate, shared a message that included not one personal example of actual authenticity- being open, honest, vulnerable about her life. And that seemed to miss the mark for me. I hate small talk, and I like to say that I’m bad at it. My husband says I’m good at faking it, and that the people I have to interact with in this way don’t understand that I’m actually being sarcastic because I’m tired of talking, which is probably a good thing. Regardless, don’t bring me to an event that is called “authentic” and then barely scratch the surface on our spiritual reality. Give me something with grit- something I can relate to. I’ve seen and experienced some very hard and difficult things in my life- show me you have to, and how God and others have held you up during those times and brought you through. Just don’t call it authentic if you don’t mean it… if you’re not willing to show any of your cards, then I’m probably not going to be willing to show up.

So, these are my main reasons for avoiding these types of events. However, a few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine invited me to join a book club she was trying to start. I do love books, and I do love her and appreciated her reaching out to me to include me. So, I borrowed the book, read it, and showed up. Maybe it was the BYOB selection (probably), or maybe it was just a few people getting real, but I really enjoyed my time with that group of women. There was just enough reality- just enough grit shared- that it felt real to me. It’s hard to get to that place in a congregational setting… even hard to get there in most church-y small groups. But we got there in a simple book club meeting- with women from different walks of life, mostly in the same stage that I am. I felt…. okay. Accepted. Appreciated. And wasn’t told once that I needed to be someone else. I felt able to share a piece of who I truly am. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want- to be able to express how we matter and then to have someone validate that? Our next book, which I hope to enjoy more than the first (not my taste at all), is Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, and I can’t wait to get started. I even offered to host the next meeting, which is a big step for such a studious introvert that, in addition to (most, now) women’s events, also avoids hosting large parties like the plague… Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing how God will use women who are not afraid to show their true selves in each others’ lives, through just a simple Book Club meeting.

A Blog from My Jog

*note* I started this post back in April, but am just now completing it. I already admitted to being a loser in several areas of my life in my previous post, blogging being one of them. So I’m covered… *end note*

Like many rabid joggers, I waited for the first flash of spring to come leap-frogging past the biting cold of winter. Having been kicked out of the gym for impersonating someone who actually owned a gym membership *shameface*, I had to move outdoors much sooner than I really wanted to for my daily runs. The bad news was that I needed top start hauling in to work a myriad of extra gear just to run two miles. The good news was that my running time decreased at least 30 seconds per mile. I ran in the freezing rain. I ran in the snow. I ran in the bitter cold that VA experienced this year (this is the south… I didn’t sign up for anything below 30 degrees). But finally, spring was in the air and my feet were being called to run in its glory.

As I began to train for my upcoming half marathon, I expanded my runs, and also the route I was using. One glorious day, I set off from the back of the building in which I work, and strode briskly down the sidewalk. I saw that there was a goose squatting by the roadside about 30 feet ahead of me. This is not unusual, seeing as we have a manmade “lake” on our work campus, and geese can often be found crapping all over the place, creating a minefield for runners and walkers alike. I’ve been honked at a few times… hissed at on occasion… but today was no ordinary goose encounter. As I approached, I saw the goose’s feathers begin to get ruffled. First it honked… then it hissed… causing me to move cautiously to the far side of the sidewalk, but I had no further cause for alarm. This had happened before.

As I passed the goose, music blaring in my headphones, I became increasingly aware of a growing presence behind me, and I quickly looked to my right, only to experience a honking cloud of feathers in my face, writhing and recoiling towards my person. My hands flew up to defend myself, but seriously, how does one properly fend off a goose? You have the body, which is substantial enough to strike, but the real threat has to be the long, skinny neck with the tough beak on the end of it. Save the mental foresight to grab the neck and start swinging the thing around (that probably only happens in people’s dreams), what can One actually do? Scream and run, which is exactly what I did. I ran ahead about twenty feet with my heart pounding, and then stopped and just started laugh uncontrollably. Admittedly, strange things do seem to happen to me. So I’ve grown to truly have an appreciation for the absurd. Physically unscathed, I completed my midday jog. But I did report the goose attack once I got back inside the building.

Apparently, this was not a one-time occurrence. Apparently this goose was on the prowl for runners and walkers alike. And apparently, once I did a quick Google search, this is a common occurrence in Spring for geese. You see, each spring, the female goose in a pair will lay her eggs in a nest, and then have to sit on said nest for much of her time, until the hatch. Her male counterpart is then charged with patrol duty. He will be somewhere nearby at all times, and will act aggressively towards anyone/anything who threatens the safety of the nest and his mate. It might sound sweet, but, from experience, it’s a crap sandwich to unwittingly get between the goose and the gander. Helpfully, my search terms came back with recommendations on how to prevent further attacks, including this “very” scary floating deterrent:

Or for the exceedingly wealthy, you can also purchase this hand-held laser deterrent device for the paltry sum of $1500.

Who knew? The Goose saga continued on from there, with more and more of my coworkers reporting their own goose attacks, until sadly, someone was actually injured while trying to escape the goose’s wrath. Signs were posted. Blockades set up. Security notices sent out. And then magically, the geese and their nest seemed to disappear overnight. One can only speculate… nothing can be proven. But frankly, I think we’re better off. I still experience PTSD whenever I hear the flapping of wings or see the flash of a feather.

Why I run

I’m not athletic. I didn’t play sports in college. Or high school. Or at any other age, besides the mandatory ones in gym class. But 5 years ago, when my relatively healthy Dad went to the ER with chest pains, and the doctors ascertained that he had 5 heart blockages, I knew that I needed to make a change. Unfortunately, this epiphany happened in mid-February. So, with snow on the ground, I began running. First, I ran around my neighborhood, mainly at night when no one could see me, and just tried to run as far as I could, and walk the rest of the 2.5 mile track. I think the first day I accomplished half a mile of actual running. After that, I just tried to run “one more mailbox,” each day. Pretty soon, I decided that I needed an incentive to keep going, so I signed up for my first race- a 5k, put on by a national fast food chain, which is really interesting, once you actually stop to think about it. I mean, they give you fried chicken sandwiches at the finish line. What are we really doing here, people??? I accomplished my goal, and moved on to an 8k in June, another 5k in October, and from then on, I was hooked.

Probably due to the fact that I am an introvert at heart, I love the solitary nature of running. You can walk a trail with a friend and catch up on all that’s been going on in their life, but you can’t run and chat comfortably… or at least I can’t. I also love the fact that you are mainly competing with yourself. How fast did you run this route last time? What were the conditions? And if you’re like me and use basically the same running playlist, you have markers for how far you need to be when a particular song comes on (*cough* Katy Perry Roar *cough*).

I’ve learned that I like routine. I don’t mind running the same route day in and day out for months at a time. I don’t mind hearing the same music over and over. It becomes like an old friend. I don’t mind wearing the exact same running outfit, once I find one that eliminates jiggling, bouncing, and any other distractions from my running psyche.

I’ve learned that running is extremely mental (not crazy- I mean that a giant portion of having a successful run is your mental state). Yes, running is a good stress reliever, but if I’m still in the moment of stress, I will not be able to run well. I need to just walk or sit it out, because it will be hard going and I will not do well. I can’t be angry and run.

I’ve learned that I can, as long as I’m not angry, I guess, push my body beyond what I always thought I could do. I can run 13.1 miles and not fall over dead, or cause my uterus to fall out (I’m almost positive this is one of my mother’s concerns for me). I can train and become strong, suddenly feeling muscles along once flaccid arms and legs. Not so much abs, but I try…

And I’ve learned that I can be committed. I may be a loser in several other areas of my life, but I can stay committed to a goal and accomplish it. I can muster up the willpower to not quit, and I can keep moving ahead. I just completed my first half marathon, and while I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be, I did what i came there to do. And I have to admit, it felt great.

So here’s to why I run, whether I can call myself an “athlete” or not. Here’s to health and sticking around longer in life. And here’s to goals and accomplishing them. Here’s to me.

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When your expectations strike out…

You can never tell what will move you to write. After just reading an old blog post by someone I don’t regularly even follow (facebook click) on becoming free from the Christmas Holidays machine of being in charge of everyone’s happiness, I feel stirred. Each year that we have been married, Christmas has been ruined for one reason or another… part of my feelings of betrayal in the aftermath have been that my expectations for a perfect, or at least mostly-perfect, Christmas season just got trashed and I want to hold my husband accountable for that. While there have been legitimate issues and things to be worked out, I feel the need to explore my deep-seated desire to have the perfect “holiday.”

The world just celebrated the Hallmark-inspired Holiday of “Valentines” and I had a triggering, dark weekend without really knowing why. I seem to have developed a love-hate relationship with this holiday. My marriage is not made up of “The Big Gestures.” We are generally low-key and I love that about us. I wouldn’t trade this relationship, where my husband gets my daughter ready and to school each morning, does her homework with her in the evenings, has dinner ready when I walk in the door most evenings, for the kind of relationship that produces fireworks once or twice in a year… My husband is a steady, low-key type of person who is just “there,” day in and day out.

To be honest, part of this mental purge is to remind myself to appreciate him, even when some dark part of me still wants a big, unexpected gesture at times. Frankly, it’s selfish because I want the big gesture, but don’t have the time or mental energy to make one of my own. He gave me a card. He gave me a gift that I wanted. He even bought me flowers (Let’s be honest- flowers are pretty, useless creatures that die very quickly and personally don’t brighten my soul). But at our family dinner together with Daughter, it just felt… flat. There was no joy in Mudville for us. I know that, deep-down, he did those things to check something off a list that I gave him while we were dating and while he was in the habit of making fun of this “fake holiday.” The most I felt able to do this year was go out of my way to buy the ingredients and make a new dessert for the family to try, although I ended up accidentally dropping it on the floor before we could all try it (my husband still ate some, bless him). Sometimes it feels like the harder I try, the more I fail.

I am realizing that I, too, would rather be a person who is faithful in the little things. I would rather be a person that can be counted on to be “present” in difficulty, to do everything I can to support my partners dreams with all the advantages I possess, and to make everyday life more pleasant, than to be the type of person that goes all out to make holidays an extravaganza. In the words of Sweet Brown: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

If I can have the steadiness and discipline to be faithful in the little things, to appreciate the little things, to take joy and pride in the little things that are good and right, then maybe the “big” things- the times we have failed “big time,” the holidays that were ruined or not celebrated explosively, won’t tug at my soul so much… won’t be so hard or dark to overcome. I am aiming towards that goal.

Another start to another blog…

I’ve been one of those “serial bloggers” where I start one and roll with it a little while, and then major changes in my life cause me to stop writing, and then I start another. I wish I could become a cereal blogger, because then I could write reviews of cereal and have no problems figuring out exactly what to blog about each time I sit to write. And also, because saying that I had tried every. single. kind of cereal in the aisle might eventually make me some kind of cult hero. (saving this idea for a dry spell!)

All I know for sure is that I have hopes and dreams and that it makes me start to commit to them when I get them out. All I know is that there have been major ups and downs in my life and I can’t hide from them or pretend they don’t exist. All I know is that this is something I want to do today, so I’m doing it.

Consistency is something that I long for in my life, so in 2015, I’m going to take a stab at it. Let’s see what happens, aye?

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