Where are we?

It’s the first day of FALL!

I’ve been hesitant to embrace an early fall this year, mostly because I wasn’t quite prepared for summer to end when the rest of the world decided to end it. (Damn you Starbucks and your pumpkin spice lattes.) It was still warm, so I was still wearing shorts and craving iced tea and swimming and backyard barbecues. I didn’t want to let it go!

But now everything has changed. I awoke this morning and my body said, “Shelby, it’s time. Your favorite season of all is upon us.”

So I got up on this lazy Sunday morning full of autumnal yearning. After sleeping in and skipping church, (because I’m young, not yet ordained, and can still get away with doing that. Gotta enjoy it while it lasts), I made a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.
pumpkin pancakes

And now I’m sitting here in the living room, sort of watching the Titan’s game, but really just basking in the fall sunshine streaming through the windows, and I’m thinking about the year so far.

2013. It’s been a whirlwind of a year. I say that every year, but really, I have been challenged in my personal, academic, and social life this year more than ever before. And I don’t think I’m alone. So many of my peers, friends, family, and loved ones have expressed similar surprise at the difficulty the year has brought. There have been wonderful things happening right along side the hard stuff (isn’t that always the case?), and it’s good to remember those things when we’re just feeling so exhausted and down trodden and ready for a new phase of existence.

So I got to thinking about that list. That “25” list I so ambitiously set about accomplishing many moons ago.

Let’s review:

1) Begin a blog to document my experiences this year.
For a beginning blogger, I think I’ve done pretty well with this one! I’m by no means a regular blogger, but that’s okay, because I am a full-time student with four part-time jobs and a LIFE so I am not really feeling bad about not posting everyday.

2) Learn to play Debussy’s Clair de Lune perfectly, from beginning to end.
Ummmm. This has not happened. Let’s just be honest: This is not going to happen. I can play the first page. That’s progress. And I’m proud of myself.

3) Go skydiving.
Still on the to-do list. I think there is a strong possibility I can get it done before 2014, I just have to be intentional about finding time to do it!

4) Write (and actually finish) a short story to be published here for your pleasure and feedback.
I have one in the works. I hope you like it. Wish I could tell you when to expect it, but I just don’t know. These things have to happen in their own time.

5) Train for and complete a half marathon.
Well…. I did one last year, will that count? I still have time to do one in December if I start training now…

6) Hike 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
This may have been a reach.

7) Take 12 photos of 12 amazing places.
1. Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Nashville, TN
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2. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV
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3. Love Circle, Nashville, TN
Love Circle
4. Salisbury Cathedral (Salisbury, Wiltshire, England)
Salisbury Cathedral
5. The ruins of Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Old Sarum
6. Platform 9 3/4!
Platform 9
7. Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN
VDS

I have five photos left to take of amazing places!

8) Complete 1 round of golf… no cheating.
Haven’t even had the chance to cheat, just haven’t gone. Need to rectify this immediately before it is too cold!

9) Go deep sea fishing.
Nope. Went to the beach TWICE, and still didn’t do this. Still want to. Next year?

10) Begin learning Spanish.
Have taken no serious steps in this direction. Bad Shelby.

11) Rock climb at Climb Nashville.
Nope. Waiting for a groupon or amazon living deal to pop up.

12) Gamble in Las Vegas.
I did that! It was great! See previous post.

13) Tackle the Titan.
I’m concerned about this one. I read recently that there was a serious accident resulting in a woman’s death on the Texas Giant. Not sure how I can get myself on the Titan right next to the Giant after that.

14) Consume an all vegetarian diet for one month.
I have been part-time pescatarian since watching Food Inc. with L in Vegas. If I’m going to do the vegetarian thing for a full month, I need to start now, because the holidays will be VERY hard to resist.

15) Picnic on Love Circle.
Yep! Had delicious food and wonderful company. So romantic!
love picniclove picnic 2

16) Create a backyard vegetable garden.
This one was fun. I was so excited to see actual life springing forth from the ground I had worked so hard to prepare. But so were all the wildlife in my neighborhood, so I didn’t get to enjoy much. At least someone did.
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17) Dye my hair an unnatural color.
Purple, yo.
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18) Be an extra on ABC’s Nashville.
I don’t know whether to count this or not. I got dressed up for the season 1 finale taping (CMA Awards episode), I got to the set, I waited, I waited, I waited… I never got on. I waited four hours, and they never called any extras back. So I had to leave because I had other things to do that day. But here’s the proof I was there at least. Maybe I can get on for season 2 before the year is up…
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19) Eat fish and chips in England this summer. (Thank you Vanderbilt Divinity School!)
Did it, it was awesome. Sorry, no picture.

20) Learn how to make paper.
Not yet.

21) Make a t-shirt quilt.
Not yet. Christmas gift for S maybe?

22) Make and carry homeless “care” bags in my car. Each bag will have necessities and a list of resources that I can hand to neighbors who might need them.
Have not done this. Winter is coming, and with winter months comes Room in the Inn. So maybe I can get this done.

23) Read the entire New Testament in one month.
I plead the fifth. As a graduate student in theology, I read too much about the New Testament, not so much of the New Testament itself. But I think December might be a good month to attempt this feat as classes will end and I will get a much needed break.

24) Boat down and camp on a Tennessee River.
NEED FRIENDS TO DO THIS WITH! C, I’m looking at you!

25) Make one new friend each month.
Ok, Ok, I’m not social. So sue me. I have friends.

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And the Journey Continues to Begin

I’m having one of those weeks.

It’s the kind of week where nothing terrible is happening, no one has died recently, my car is running, my dog is healthy, and I should be thankful for all that I have and my beautiful life.

And I guess on some deeply interior level I am grateful. I recognize that I am glad to be who I am, living where I am, doing what I am. But I just can’t seem to feel the gratitude this week.

Because, yes, most things are good. But there are bad things too. Family things, mostly. Some new transitions. I’ll be moving out of my house in 9 days, and I have to live the gypsy life for a few weeks until our new place is ready. But I’m not really worried about that. I do worry about my dad, my mom, my siblings. I worry about becoming an adult. I worry about dying from a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning. (Have I mentioned to you I am a worrier? I am. Big Time.) And I also feel sad because I’m missing some pretty important people in my life whom I’d rather be here with me. It’s been one year since Aunt E passed. And I miss my Nana. I want her to rub my back and tell me stories and have me help her bake a cake. But she can’t and it makes me sad.

I guess I just have what the French call ennui. I’m prone to bouts of depression, but this time it feels existential in nature. Like, what is the point of anything right now?

It’s times like these I sometimes forget about God. Of course I’m studying about and talking about and reading about God everyday in seminary, and I think about God on Sunday morning, and in my weekly bible study, and sometimes in my covenant group. But when you’re in the zip-lock bag of depression, you forget that God is in there with you. And outside of it and all around it. You forget that God is more than an intellectual concept to be talked about and debated about. You forget that there is something greater than yourself that shouldn’t understand anything you’re going through because she’s off being god-like in the great cosmos, but she does understand exactly what you’re going through because she loves you so much she became human and went through humiliation and abandonment just to know the deepest levels of human suffering and never leave you alone again EVER.

That is pretty amazing love.

Now, I am not encouraging the “snap out of it” method of dealing with despair. And those of you who don’t understand it or have never been through it may not understand why certain people have trouble letting themselves out of the zip-lock. And I’m no expert by any means. I heard an on-air interview with the singer song-writer Neko Case a few days ago. And she said something like, “There’s nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. It just sucks. Okay? It sucks. But when you stop analyzing it to death, you can sometimes start to move on.”

So it sucks that I’m having one of these weeks. It sucks that I miss the recent members of my great cloud of witnesses so much it hurts. But it’s also kind of beautiful, right? Because they’re not gone. They’re here with me. And this isn’t the end, I will see them again (thank you, Miss Underwood). And even though I will never be the type of person who doesn’t worry about things, I can accept that about myself, just like I’ve accepted it before. One thing I continually learn as I grow is that I sometimes continually learn the same lesson. Like, “Depend on God.” Or, “Accept yourself.” Or, “It gets better.” These lessons just don’t seem to sink in. But that’s okay, because re-learning them is sort of cathartic in a way. Like, “Oh yeah, I remember this feeling!”

I promise one day soon I will get back to my “25” list. I’ve made progress in some areas, not so much in others. But I’m trying. And therefore my journey continues.