Monday, June 27, 2011

Just Thinkin'

For some reason over the past few days, and in particular today, I've been thinking of my Grandma and my dog Duke. But they are happy thoughts.

I guess you could say that I'm at a stage when things that trigger my grief don't trigger an onslaught of sadness and tears. They in fact bring out smiles and warm feelings. I'm sure there will be days when that's not the case, but s'all good for now.

I miss you. I love you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mistakes into Gold

Lately it would seem that I have developed this habit of thinking a lot about what I wanted or should have said, after the fact. When it's too late to do anything about it!

Does that make any sense? I've really only had this problem after some of my speeches for class, but there have also been a few times that I've run into this problem when I've just been having normal conversations with people. For some reason, way after the speech or conversation, I'll still mull over everything that I said.

Then I start to see holes and gaps that I know I could fill in right now. Why couldn't I have said this? Why didn't I say that? Or, man I really wish I would have said that. Literally, I kid you not, I'll spend much more time than is necessary (or even healthy, I'm sure) thinking about the stuff I could have filled the holes/gaps with. It's a problem. What's wrong with me?!

The last time I had a bad case of "oops, shoulda said X", I was getting ready for bed, trying not to think about what I should've said. As I plopped down onto my bed, I started to sing one of my favorite songs, "Rise" by Eddie Vedder. It's from the Into the Wild soundtrack, and it is also my phone's the loudest quiet song (if that makes any sense, it's not obnoxious loud) that I wake up to every morning. Anyway, this stood out to me: Gonna rise up/Turning mistakes into gold.

I was reminded that tomorrow is a new day, and I can choose to rise up and make it better. I have the opportunity to turn my mistakes into gold.

Now, perhaps my shoulda coulda woulda moments weren't mistakes, but at those particular times, I felt like they were. Maybe they really were, but more than likely they were not.

I definitely think that I'm doing better with not worrying or thinking about the what-ifs too much. Yesterday I gave my biggest speech so far this semester, and afterward, I didn't have any thoughts about what I could or should have said. That may in part be due to the fact that it was a well-outlined, semi-rehearsed speech. But the point is, I didn't let the monster in.

I like rising up and turning mistakes into gold. It feels awesome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hooray for Pentecost!

It is not true that some human beings are by nature superior and others inferior. All human beings are equal in their natural dignity. -Blessed Pope John XXIII

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. 

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Hooray for Pentecost! Happy birthday to the Church! Today I was reminded that no matter how different we may be from each other, we are all united in Christ. Today God awakes our souls so let us no longer hide behind locked doors, for we have received the most awesome gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, we are filled with it! Let's not squander the many beautiful gifts we have received on petty things and situations.

We learn in today's readings not to hold on to grudges and the sins that others committed against us. Though I will say that I struggle with letting go, but when I do, it is a truly wonderful feeling. Holding onto those things really doesn't get us anywhere. Forgive, as hard as it may be at times. And in the same breath (ha--breath, get it?), let's not allow differences to prevent us from loving our brothers and sisters.

Let's renew the face of the earth, one loving act at a time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Walk Slow

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe--but believe that you may understand. -St. Augustine

I walk fast. My natural gait is not an ambling one. I'm a mover. For someone of my height (which is short, mind you), I've got long-ish legs. My sister used to yell and whine when we would walk home from the bus stop because I would quickly outpace her. "Slow down! You walk too fast!"

In the 5th grade, my school held a fundraiser in which the students and teachers participated. You raised money from your sponsors for every lap you went around the blue track. I distinctly remember my friends repeatedly asking me to slow down because I was walking too fast. "Ashley must be a power walker or something."

My brief middle school stint in track and field had me run the 800 meter and 4x800meter relay, and I was actually pretty good there for awhile. I wasn't a sprinter, but I sure as heck couldn't do the 1600m and whatever else was super long, the half-mile was my thing. Good times.

I remember in middle school and for the early part of high school, I always imagined what my future would be like. I would daydream different scenarios. Those scenarios usually were about college and related years. But then, when I would arrive to that next chunk of time/transition point, I would pine for the days of old.

Now though, instead of dreaming about it, I'm actually living it. Not that any of my ideas came true (did they? I'll have to think about that), but you get the idea. I went from fiction to reality. I look back and think, wow, that school year went by really quick. Was I really in middle school that long ago? High school? Funny that during a school year or even just one semester, I find myself way too excitedly checking off days on the syllabus as I plow through the semester. I want it over now! During, it takes forever. After, it feels like nothing much went on, and I'm left with proof that the semester actually happened because I have graded exams and papers.

Sometimes, I feel that life moves too fast. But when I really get down to it, the earth isn't moving any faster. I am the one who is going too fast. There are days or even weeks where I don't slow down. I just go, go, go. Being from a culture where time has to be measurable and where it is something to have, to share, to waste, to whatever...that only compounds this feeling of moving too fast.

I came across the aforementioned St. Augustine quote, and in conjunction with a few lines guessed it...a new Mumford & Sons song that I discovered literally by accident the other day, I have come to realize that I do go through life too fast sometimes. I don't see.

In order to understand, to process, to be present, to see, I must slow down. If I walk too fast, I try to understand and then believe...when it should really be the other way around as St. Augustine pointed out. It's hard though, for me at least, to believe when I'm moving too fast. So I need to walk slower in order to believe so that I may understand.

But my humanness makes it difficult sometimes to just stop and slow down, and I need help to get me where I am supposed to be. I need to live my life for God and for no other, including that pesky little thing called time, which we humans think can be bottled up and put into a clock.

The song in which I discovered that "understanding = walking slow(er)" deals with a different subject matter all together, but I don't really care. Particular stanzas just speak to me! Listen to the song here, por favor. It's great.

From "Lover's Eyes" by Mumford & Sons:

And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, help me on my way.
And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, I'll be on my way.

And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, help me on my way.
And I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow
Take my hand, I'll be on my way.

Take my hand, Lord, help me on my way.

Help us slow down so that we may believe and then understand.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Amalgam is my new favorite word, so I had to use it somewhere in here. It is really just going to be a list of random things that I want to tell the world, so amalgam is a fitting word for the post. 

As I write this, I'm listening to my "My Grass is Blue" playlist. It really isn't all bluegrass music but rather a combination of bluegrass, Americana, and folk rock. However, since most every song in this list has a banjo and/or mandolin involved, I'm sticking with the title. Plus, it's an awesome name for a playlist. In the past, I've mentioned that I truly love a little bit of every musical genre, but in particular, bluegrass/Americana/folk rock and classical/movie score both hold special places in my heart. I thought I could refrain from linking up to a Youtube video...

Surprise! It's another song by Mumford & Sons. If you're sick of hearing me talk about them or if you just don't like them, I really am sorry. But I just can't help myself. God I love them. Thanks be to God for them!

I'm quite enjoying life at this particular moment in time. It isn't perfect, but life never is! I've just had an excellent couple of days. My mini-term Spanish class ended, and I feel relatively okay with my effort. I won't know my grade until next Friday. What I do know is that if I can avoid it, I will never take a mini-term class again! I love Spanish, but 3 hours a day of any class will probably put me over the edge. Though I already miss my Spanish class family. Nos llevamos bien.

My first session summer class started. I'm not as deathly afraid of this class or public speaking as I was last semester before my first speech/public speaking class. Experience does help! Plus, the professor is seriously, legit awesome.

By the grace of God I was able to find a place to live in Knoxville during the summer. Since both of my classes were/are everyday, commuting just didn't make sense to me if I had the alternative of staying in Knoxville. When my original plans fell through, I randomly (or, not really random...more like a bump on the noggin from God) thought to ask my best friend Katie Ann if the Tyson House would let me live there over the summer. For some reason, I didn't consider it at first, but I'm grateful for the reminder! Tyson House is the Episcopal-Lutheran Campus Ministry at UT. It's a really wonderful place and ministry, so you should check them out here! Since Katie Ann is a camp counselor over the summer, she is letting me stay in her room. Bless her, she's a lovely and wonderful friend.

One of the things I love about Tyson House is that the wood floors are really creaky. The noise that wooden floors make (you know, that classic/old house sounding sound) is one of my favorite noises, period. I get to hear it everyday now!

I literally just started my new job (uh, internship, according to one person...) at the Chancery for the Diocese of Knoxville. I've always loved the building and the atmosphere when I would come by for whatever reason in the past, but now, I actually get to be a part of that environment. It's really awesome. I find it incredibly cool that I work just down the hall from some nuns and Bishop Stika! The little Catholic nerd in me is essentially acting like your typical child or child-like adult would at a theme park. I'm like a Christmas tree, all lit up and everything.

Even though I am insanely exhausted from the past few days, I'm strangely euphoric and happy. I've made it through the past 2 days with maybe 5 hours of sleep for each day, and I haven't done that in a long time. So naturally, I'm really tired. I didn't think I was going to make it out of the shower this morning. Miraculously I made it through work, but I almost fell asleep right before I had to leave for class. Somehow I survived class, and I was looking forward to a long overdue nap afterward. That changed when my friend and future roommate, Megan, asked if I wanted to go to dinner with Elizabeth, who was one of my first friends that I made when my family moved to Tennessee way back in 2001. I haven't seen her in forever, so it was really nice hanging out and talking and eating lots of great food. Though I'm pretty positive that half of what I said after 4:45 (the end of class) made absolutely no sense, it was a good evening.

I stayed up way too late and woke up way earlier than usual the past two days. Add that to really no wiggle room (or nap time!) while I transition from one class to another and learn the ropes at the DoK, I'm one exhausted yet amusing-to-listen-to little girl.

I drank a can of Coke and 1.5 big cups of Mountain Dew today. Didn't do much for me.

Yeah, I'm that tired. So I say good night. I'm going to sleep for, like, a million hours.

Oh, and just so you know, there were several times throughout this post when I started to write words/phrases in Spanish instead of English. Is it safe to say that my mini-term class had some lasting effects?

It's going to be a swell summer.