Category Archives: Just for Fun

5 Lakes 1 Day; Or How a Trip I Helped Plan for My Brother Changed My Life

On June 30, my brother and I swam in all five of the Great Lakes in about 13 hours. He turns 40 this year (and because it took me so long to finish this post, he’s actually been 40 for several weeks), and I wanted to help him celebrate that in a big way, since my 40th birthday was a bit disappointing and, along with some other events in my life, threw me into a two-year-ish long depression. I had no idea that this trip would, in fact, change my life as well!

We started by meeting at my Aunt Zoe and Uncle Fred’s house in Rapid City, MI, because we hadn’t seen them for a while and because it was close to where we thought our first swim would be. They live right near Lake Michigan and just an hour or so south of a place where many other say they’ve hopped into Lake Michigan as part of their 5 Lakes Challenge.

We woke up at about 5AM and got on the road shortly after, but when we got to the first swim sight, we were met with a closed sign and then the only other place we could find was a private beach. We hopped in there, but the experience wasn’t quite what we were hoping for.

Next we headed to Lake Superior at Brimley State Park on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The woman who was working in the office, did us the first solid of the day by letting us not pay, since we were only going to be in the park for about 20 minutes. I know, I know, the park is supported by donations. Trust me, I’ve given my fair share to various park’s departments over the years. When we got to the beach at Superior, we cautiously waded in, because we assumed that the water would be very cold. However, we were pleasntly surprised to find the water not excruciatingly cold, but quite pleasant. We splashed around for a bit, took some photos, and then hopped back in the car.

On our way south from our most northern point in Brimley, we decided that we wanted a real experience with Lake Michigan, instead of our illegal quick dip at the rich folks’ private beach. I remembered that I had passed miles of public beach along the northern shore of the lake as I passed through the day before on my way to my aunt and uncle’s house from Minnesota. All along US 2 in Moran, MI, you can access the water via stairs and boardwalks that line the coast. They are free and you just pull over to park and go down to the water. We reset our start clock for when we went into the water, and made a detour to one of these access points and revisted Lake Michigan. It was cold. The waves were big. We splashed around for a bit, took some photos, and then hopped back into the car.

Next up was Lake Huron, which we accessed at Cheboygan State Park. We were able just to drive into the beach, and didn’t pass a park office, so we still didn’t have to pay to access any of the lakes, which is awesome in my opinion, since you know I support many parks systems all the time. (By the way, if you use parks without helping them to stay operational, you are a colossal butthole. Just kidding about the butthole part, but it’s not very nice or thoughtful, so you shold maybe consider donating some money for the resources you’re using.) Huron was by far my least favorite lake. Even tough we were only about 30-40 miles away from where we’d dipped into Michigan, there were weird things floating in the water, it was weedy, and it was colder than Michigan. The park was beautiful and they had the best facilities of anywhere we stopped; I’d go back and vacation there to hike and visit Mackinac Island. We splashed around for a bit, took some photos, and then hopped back in the car.

Once we were finished at Cheboygan State Park and once we were finished with Michigan, we changed clothes to be dry for the long drive to Lake Erie in Ontario. On our way to Turkey Point Provincial Park, we stopped at Snowbelt Brewery in Gaylord, MI and had some pretzels and nachos. Health food. After lunch, we proceeded to drive to the north side of Lake Erie. We didn’t expect Erie  to be anything really, but it was clear, not incredibly cold, and the sand was beautifully pale in comparison to the other lakes we’d been in. Turkey Point was settled in a cute little lake town, and had some toilets for changing and a couple of little restaurants that were closed by the time we got there. We splashed around for a bit, took some photos, and then hopped back in the car.

Finally, we were on our way to Lake Ontario, our last stop of the day. Our goal was to stop at a public park in Hamilton, but it was already getting dark, and by the time we found the park, not an easy task along the very dark, unlit coastline, we’d been on the road for 15 hours and been lake jumping for 13 hours. Our original goal was 12 hours, but we realized we’d have to flexible, given that we spent about an hour sitting in line trying to get into Canada.

By the time we got out of the car it was 10PM and we had to use our flashlights to guide us to the water. Lake Ontario was by far the coldest of all the laes we experienced that day, but I imagine that could change given the day. We splashed around for a bit, took some photos (in the dark), and then hopped back in the car. Okay, really, we went in and got back out as quickly as possible, because the water was leg numbingly cold. In fact, I originally wasn’t going to go under; I learned my lesson in Loch Ness about  very cold water nad being able to walk on a rocky shore with frozen feet. My brother told me that I’d regret it if I didn’t do it, and he’s right. I would’ve regretted it very much had I not gone back and gone under. There are no photos of this moment, because it was dark.

So, I said in the title that this trip changed my life, and it did. The beauty of the Lakes, the kindness, good humor, and genuine love of my brother for me and for fun, helped me to see that it’s okay to be content with what I have.

I can stop wishing for something else. I can be joyful about where I am, even if I thought I was going to be somewhere else.

I’ve been on a two- to three-year journey from depression and lots of self-doubt to a self-aware, confident, and generally joyful person.

What I learned on this trip is that you never know what you’ll learn, you’ll never know what you can do, and you’lll never know who you are if you don’t put yourself out there.

I’ve spent a lot of time since turning 40 comparing myself to others, feeling sorry for myself that I am not teaching, and generally just being angry that I don’t have what I think I deserve.

This trip taught me that I will only ever be as joyful as I allow myself to be, that I have a very solid group of amazing people in my life who will support me in whatever I do (thanks to my parents and aunt and uncle for the Great Lakes blanket to celebrate the journey; I use it for camping, which I am planning to do much more frequently), and that I don’t need to compare myself to other people to see where I stack up.

I do, in fact, enjoy life, and I do, in fact, have a lot to be thankful for.

Unapologetically Me: Manifesto 41

A couple of days ago I finally landed the job that I’ve wanted for quite some time.  I’m stubborn, and I wanted it so much sooner than now, but I am learning to wait for what is good. I’m now a teacher for a company I respect and believe in. I have some big plans in my mind about what this might mean for me, and I am so excited about how my future may turn out.

I move to my new store on May 14, so a week or so from now and a couple of weeks before I head back to Indiana to watch the graduation of my last class of students, who I had in class for more than a couple of years. This seems like perfect timing, since I was offered my job nearly one year ago. I started there on June 1, 2015, and I’ll permanently be in my new role from June 1, 2016.

I’m sad to leave behind all of my friends at MOA, but I am happy I was so welcomed and accepted there. For the past year, I feel as if I’ve been unlearning all the awful habits I’ve picked up in the workforce before working with people there. The level of kindness, forgiveness, and support from most folks is unparalleled in my experience. On most days, work feels like a cooperation, instead of a competition, and I like that. I don’t live in the constant fear of doing something wrong.

That being said, not everything is always sunshine and roses, but I firmly believe that life ends up being what we make of it. It’s safe to say that I’ve lived a good portion of my life making it whatever I’ve been influenced to make it and becoming whoever I have been made to feel  should become. Because of this new job, I feel more empowered to be who I am, than I have felt for a long time in my life. I work for a company that embraces its employees for our difference, for being who we are, for exercising our creativity and uniqueness. I get to teach in a highly professional setting, and I get to be unapologetically me.

I can shave my head, get pierced, get tatted, wear flip flops and shorts all year long, and simply live my life, my destiny, who I am designed to be. Sure all the things I’ve listed are physical attributes, but they are things I’ve struggled with throughout my working career. From student teaching forward, I’ve never worked somewhere that I can be uniquely myself with no repercussions. From arbitrary dress codes to “professional” conduct codes, we do quite a bit of pushing beautifully unique pegs into unnecessarily restrictive square, narrow, widget-shaped holes.

That being said, if you can’t deal with me being unapologetically me, we’d better stop being friends. More than ever before in my life, I’m being true to myself and doing things exactly the way I want to do them and, much more importantly, exactly the way I was designed to do them. I’ve always struggled with the feeling that who I am isn’t good enough, refined enough, or professional enough. I’ve even been made to believe, by different folks in my life, that who I am is not acceptable of a Christian woman. For a bit of my adolescence, I was even made to feel as if God couldn’t possibly love me, specifically because of who I am. 

Over the past several years, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, meditating, and praying, and I’ve finally recognized out that I have to give in to who I am, even if it isn’t the choice others in my life would make for me. As I look back through Facebook and here, I speak quite a lot about wavering between poles and trying to feel like I am living a consistent ethic. I’ve been a lot of things over the past ten years, but I am tired of trying on new hats all the time. I think I’ve been a lot things and wavered so much, because I am on a quest to please those around me. Well, y’all, I’m done with that nonsense. 

Sadly, this realization has taken a good portion of my 41 years of life.

I’m ready to live unapologetically and authentically me.

Unapologetically a praying Christian. Unapologetically a meditator. Unapologetically a deep thinker. Unapologetically an empathetic soul. Unapologetically a vegan. Unapologetically a teacher and seeker. Unapologetically a trail runner and hiker. Unapologetically queer. Unapologetically a civil rights advocate. Unapologetically a Minnesotan Hoosier. Unapologetically an outside the lines kind of human. Unapologetically fat. Unapologetically bald. Unapologetically tattooed and pierced.

Unapologetically whatever I become from here. 

Unapologetically a harbinger of peace, grace, love, and joy. 

Unapologetically me. 

 

Our Father?

I was inspired, by an article I read this week, to think about the divine feminine and to really consider my relationship with patriarchy and tradition in the Church. My relationship with the Church is tenuous at best, but my relationship with God is enriching and fulfilling. While I have a great reverence for historical Christianity, I also have a very suspicious eye aimed toward those systemic prejudices that are embedded within it.

I was then prompted to share this with you. I’m not really one to share my prayer life, since I feel that it could be much more deep and much more intentional, but I do think I’ve learned how to redirect traditional prayers in a way that feels more personal to me, while also maintaining the traditional aspects that I love so much.

cross

Traditional “Our Father”:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.

The way I pray it:

“Mother-Father God in heaven, you are holy. Help me to practice your kingdom and your will here on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us what we need, our daily bread. Forgive us, as we forgive. Help us not to be tempted, but keep us from evil. Yours is the kingdom. Yours is the power. Your is the glory. Forever and ever, even unto the ages of ages. Amen and amen.”

There isn’t a huge shift in the language, but addressing my petition to a God that is called both Mother and Father was a huge leap in my faith and a difficult step when I first made it. The more I pray, and the more direct and intentional my inner spiritual life becomes, the more I feel secure in my choice and practice of viewing God as both feminine and masculine, both or neither.

If I am honest, I believe God exists outside of gender. Generally, I refer to God as [They] or [Them] in order to honor the three persons without prescribing a gender on an entity that exists outside of our finite understandings.

Break Me Off a Piece of That Kit Kat Bar

Give me a break. Give me a break.

I’m taking a break. I’ve been way too sick for way too many months this winter. I’m tired. My body isn’t cooperating. And I’m giving her the rest she desires.

There will be no previously set goals accomplished this year, nor anymore set. Possibly next year will be the year I run a 50K and swim a 5K. We’ll see. This year, though, will be set aside for leisurely walking and hiking, and I’ll be doing some occasional swimming and weightlifting.

I’m going to focus my energies on non-digital methods of creativity and communication, so I’ll not be posting here either. I am hoping to spend some of the many hours I spend in front of my computer in front of some art supplies and writing pages.

Here’s to a healthy 2017.

Until then: peace, grace, love, and joy.

I Need a Big Girl Job

I need a big girl job.

I don’t come across very well on paper. I know this. I hate talking about how awesome I am. Which is very awesome. I mean if you met me, you’d be amazed at just how awesome.

I can pretty much do anything I put my mind to, but I can’t very well put that on a resumé, now can I? I can read and process pretty much anything. I can write well. I can work with even the most difficult people. I am intuitive. I have been a counselor without the credentials since I was in middle school. I am a keeper of secrets. I am a teller of stories. I can teach anyone anything. I can get even the most quiet person to talk, or the loudest person to contemplate. I can cook. I can clean. I can drive. I can solve puzzles. Honestly, I really can do just about anything.

I have too much education. I have too little education. I have the wrong education.

I have too much experience. I have too little experience. I have the wrong experience.

I am too Jesus-y. I am not Jesus-y enough. I am the wrong kind of Jesus-y.

I am too queer. I am not queer enough. I am the wrong kind of queer.

I applied for tons of jobs today from summer groundskeeper at General Mills to after school recreation leader at the local Y. Tomorrow I will apply for more jobs from a social media position to an emergency shelter case worker for homeless teenagers. I likely won’t hear back from any of them.

I probably forgot to mention the right words in the online application. I might have misspelled something on my resumé. I may have even said exactly the wrong words to attract the digital bot that reads the database that’s created from the website.

I forget when I worked where. I forget to mention that I’ve written grants at several different jobs. I forget to spell out exactly what my responsibilities are at every job I’ve ever had.

I am not a game player.

I am not a hoop jumper.

I want a job search in which I go to the person who is offering the job, introduce myself, talk with him or her over coffee, and then have my application placed in the circular file. Or not. The better outcome would be to actually be offered a big girl job.

I want authenticity and no tricks. I want relationship. I am 40. I am too old to trifle.

I want a chance. One small, simple chance. I am the best big girl for your job. Let me prove it to you.

I have advanced degrees.I have lots of experience.

Can you please hire me?

I promise I won’t let you down.