Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Great Expectations

It's interesting how other's expectations impact your daily life. You are constantly surrounded by a world expecting you to do so many things, from job requirements and social engagements to purchasing habits and hobbies. Our actions and reactions depend largely on our expectations of others and whether those expectations are met, or not.

The most difficult aspect to face in regards to this idea of expectations are the consequences when we fall short.

For example, if you fail to meet your boss's expectations, you won't get the raise. If you fail to meet your friends expectations, your relationship may change. If you fail to meet the government's expectations, you might go to court.

There is one exception, however. One glorious, beautiful, and humbling exception. If you fail to meet God's expectations, you aren't punished, condemned or chastised. When we fail, we ask for His forgiveness, and we are forgiven. Jesus already suffered the consequences of our mess-ups because he loves us so, so much.

It's a wonderful thing to remember, when you feel like you just aren't meeting the high expectations of others, that God loves us unconditionally, even though we are not, and will never be, perfect.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth"

I remember reading this poem in middle school. I had a different interpretation of this poem by Jack Frost than I do now. At that point in my life, I also thought that writing poetry immediately made you a deep, thoughtful, and wonderful person. I believe I was mistaken.

When I first read this poem, I assumed that Frost implied that taking the road less traveled by is the better choice. You see, to a young child like myself, all adults "got it." They went through whatever spectacular transformation makes you a full-fledged adult, and they earned the right to say things like, "because I said so," and "I'll tell you when you're older." I admired adults, you see, because they had ALL the answers. Ha! How naive was I...

In the end of the poem, Frost is speaking of how he'll be telling the story in the future, when he's older (and wiser). So when he says, "and that has made all the difference," I took it to mean, "and that made my life better."

Perhaps these are silly ramblings, but I think this poem is just a small example of the mindset I have worked to overcome for years.

I have learned that different isn't always better; the common route is okay sometimes. One's value does not lay in just being unique. If you make the same choices as someone else, that's okay, too, perhaps even encouraging. It shows that you're at least a little bit normal! But the choices you make DO effect every moment from then on. So it's true that everyday decisions are important to think about, if only for a second.

Before I learned these lessons, I felt that if I wasn't unique, the best at something, or if I was just one the crowd, I would be less valuable to my family and friends. I felt that I needed to stand out and make intentionally life-changing decisions in order to be good enough to love. Crazy, huh? It's sounds strange now, but ten years ago these feelings were me.

Fortunately, high school and college served me well and I finally understand everything a little more clearly. Unfortunately, the magical step into adulthood I had envisioned doesn't actually exist and adjusting to life outside of the school system is a little tricky at times. Nevertheless, I have a healthy understanding of who I am. I no longer find value in only uniqueness, but in finding similarities in my relationships as well.

In the words of Jack Frost:

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

For better or for worse...

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Bucket List

I think it's about time that I write a new post. After all, an entire month has passed. Unfortunately, I don't have any life-changing experiences to report, no exciting news to share, or even an inspirational story to put down in words. I guess I should work on some 'character development.'

Earlier this week, a good friend of mine commented on how there is rarely any character development in the second or third sequels of movies. No game-changing events, no jaw-dropping action. The third movies (unless we're talking about trilogies or Harry Potter) are more or less, simply documenting the up's and down's of every day life.

Every so often, when life gets too dull to bear, I try to imagine my life as a romantic comedy. In seeing my world through this lens, boring errands transform into a scene leading up to a pivotal moment, the music on the radio is my soundtrack, and daily conversations are intriguing dialogues.

Sure, it's incredibly corny. And perhaps slightly embarrassing. But what can I say? I'm stuck in a simple little town for a month until I start my full-time job. Trust me, you'd be going a little crazy, too.

Nevertheless, even if my life is a romantic comedy, a film with no character development is dull. Nobody would ever want to watch it.

Let me clarify something before I continue. I would not, under any circumstances, want anyone to pay as much attention to my life as I do in the movies that I love. However, speaking hypothetically, if my life were actually a movie, I would want it to be a box office hit.

So how am I supposed to change my life from dull and boring into an exciting, adventure? I think a bucket list a good place to start. I've done my best at coming up with 50 things I want to do, believe I should do, or know that I absolutely must do before I 'kick the bucket.'

(*Note: This is by no means a complete list -- and please -- let me know what I should add!)

Emily's Bucket List
  1. Visit the Grand Canyon
  2. Camp in Yellowstone National Park
  3. See the Niagra Falls
  4. Go hang gliding
  5. Climb a mountain
  6. Run a 10K race in under an hour
  7. Get married
  8. Raise a family
  9. Adopt a dog from an animal shelter
  10. Travel to every continent (except Antarctica)
  11. Go scuba diving
  12. Learn how to play the guitar (well)
  13. Ride in a hot air balloon
  14. Watch AFI's 10 Greatest Movies of All Time
  15. Read TIME's 10 Greatest Books of All Time
  16. Stop biting my nails
  17. Earn a Masters
  18. Write a children's book
  19. Take up photography
  20. Kiss the Blarney stone
  21. See the Eiffel Tower in person
  22. Spend time in Dublin, Galway, and Cork
  23. Get a manicure
  24. Learn another language
  25. Audition for a play
  26. Go parasailing
  27. Climb to the top of a rock wLearn to waterski
  28. Donate 50,000 annonymously
  29. Volunteer in a homeless shelter
  30. Fall in love
  31. Visit a real blues bar in Chicago
  32. Grow a vegetable garden
  33. Meet a famous actor/actress
  34. Do something outrageous and life-changing
  35. Walk el Camino de Santiago
  36. Travel to Malaysia
  37. Attend a high school reunion
  38. Read the entire Bible
  39. Participate in an Improv Everywhere scene
  40. Visit Seattle
  41. Travel to Peru
  42. Become a grandmother
  43. Knit a scarf
  44. Sew a quilt
  45. Lead a small group at church
  46. Teach Sunday School
  47. Take an aerobics class
  48. Do yoga and stay flexible
  49. Organize a family reunion
  50. Step foot in all 50 states