Living in your head can promote insecurity


In the months between getting laid off from my job and moving to Alabama in August (I did apply for the fellowship and was accepted), I did a lot of journal writing.

I filled four notebooks (averaging 70 pages each) in a matter of six months. Yes, I lived with pen and paper. So while I’m grateful to have some documentation of what I was going through at the time — what I felt, my worries and fears — what isn’t addressed is also quite telling.

I lived in my head.

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An invitation to help with youth ministry


I had known this woman for many years. She was my P.E. teacher when I was in grade school and always involved in school activities.

During the summer before I left for California, I had helped in small ways with the youth group. It was something to do and a way to be involved. I enjoyed being with this group, but I didn’t have high hopes that I was actually able to offer more than chaperoning assistance.

Yet when I returned from Los Angeles, the youth minister approached me and invited me to join her team. I know I hesitated, wondering if she was asking the right person. So there was a compromise. She invited me to check out the regular Sunday night program. No strings attached. I could come, see for myself, and join or choose to walk away.

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“What’s on your plate?” – A weekend camping retreat

Not my group, but someone else’s camping experience at the same park.

I’ve shared about how I found a group of young adults in the Southern California area, a group I spent a fair amount of time with. There was one memorable weekend of traveling to Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park for a two-night camping retreat. About fifteen people participated on the weekend, but I only knew one person before going.

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Discovering self by journaling


At the beginning of the notebook where I found the details of the sensory walk, I saw that I purposefully sought out to renew my journaling efforts as a way of learning more about myself. It was an effort for record, accountability and self-discovery. I had gotten away from this practice and my creative writing especially during my senior year of college because of my student teaching responsibilities.

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A sensory walk in Los Angeles

My favorite sign that I spotted at the end of our block. The broken English was endearing to me for some reason. But seriously, how bad do things have to be that you create a sign like this for the side of your building? And this is much bigger than a sheet of paper. It was a huge sign.

Over the course of my time in Los Angeles, I made an effort to re-engage my creative side. I had a few books with writing prompts to help me focus on something. One of those prompts meant going on a detail hunt. Take a walk and jot down all the interesting details you observe. Focus on sensory impressions. And while looking for the extraordinary, don’t ignore the ordinary.

I wish I had pictures of many of these items, especially the trees. I found their formation fascinating. Sadly, I didn’t take pictures. While I doubt many of these items will be as intriguing to someone who hasn’t walked this neighborhood, I figured I’d go ahead and share anyway.

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Finding value in mundane jobs


One of the first big lessons I learned during my time in Los Angeles was the purpose and value of work. All work matters. Some positions may be more glamorous than others, but when it joins together it all has a purpose. Some roles are more public while others happen behind the scenes where fewer see the details. Every position is needed.

What’s more, this revelation came while I was earning $100 a month. It wasn’t about how much I made. It was about doing my best, being challenged. It meant doing some tasks that felt small at the time but would eventually serve as a powerful foundation for bigger jobs. If you feel like a particular task is menial and not worth doing, take a step back and see how your contribution fits in with the bigger picture.

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New year, stronger me: Affirmations


I’ve learned a lot about myself in these last 9 months with this blog. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to explore and dive in to these moments from my past, to better understand who I am. I’m working on improving the way I view myself and what I have to offer to others, and I’ve made a lot of progress. Still plenty more to go, but at least there’s improvement.

I’m trying to think more positively about myself. See myself more as others see me (the ones who have a more balanced view of me), rather than just zeroing in on the ways I’ve fallen short. Those negative moments shouldn’t be the things that define who I am or how I measure myself.

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Finally embracing my giraffe status

Giraffes are beautiful, too.

For a long time, I have related to giraffes. I towered over my classmates at an early age and felt like my awkwardness made me stand out. Just like the giraffe, it was hard to blend in. There’s no place for a giraffe to hide, and I felt like all of my insecurities were equally on full display for everyone to see.

Experiences over the past two weekends have left me with an overwhelming sense of peace in the realization of how far I’ve come on this journey of self-acceptance in just a short time frame. And I credit it with being honest and open in writing while working hard to internalize these new ways of seeing others and myself.

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Take a car trip with Rain-x and avoid the acid rain (analogy)

FreeVector-Sun-Rain-CloudsRecently I’ve spent a lot of time trying to recognize and understand the impact of my inner critic. Those times when I let the negative self-talk have more leverage than it deserves.

This awareness began about two years ago when I finally realized the way I spoke to myself had all the hallmarks of a verbally abusive relationship. I could do no right. Every effort was twisted around. And I’d berate myself over making one mistake while ignoring the numerous things that went right.

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Allusions of Myself: The making of a poem


We did these exercises in high school where we wrote ourselves a letter, most likely highlighting our goals for the future. Then the teacher collected them and maybe one year later (or five), we received them in the mail. At the time of writing, it seemed silly to write out your goals, completely convinced there’s no way you’re going to forget what’s important. But you do. The elapsed time prompts other interests and priorities. Opening that letter means grasping a piece of the past; tangible evidence of the person you were back then.

That’s how I feel with revisiting my old journals; I’m uncovering buried treasure.

I was reading through my college journals recently and came across several pages where I did some brainstorming for a new poem.

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