New Year, New Semester: A Brief Update

A New Years post at the end of January?  Amelia, shouldn’t you have posted this weeks ago?  Yes, yes I should have.  However, life, school, and laziness has kept me away from my blog.  Better late than never, right?

My second semester of graduate school is underway and I’m sitting here wondering, WHERE did my winter break go?!  And why didn’t I do any writing during my time off?!

Since I’ve been hard-core neglecting my blog, here’s a brief recap of things in Amelia land:

  • I finished my first semester of grad school just before the holidays and managed straight A’s!
  • The holidays were a busy, but wonderful time with family
  • I applied and interviewed for a librarian position within my current system that is much closer to where I live, but didn’t get it.  When the choice is between you and a former library director with 30 years of experience, there’s not much of a choice.  But, since breaking the bad news to me, my supervisor has asked me to be on a number of new committees, which is exciting!
  • I read a ridiculous amount of books
  • I spent a wonderful weekend at a friend’s cabin in northern Wisconsin

Continue reading

Thoughts on Being Alone

As I drove home from work one evening this week, I got thinking about the variety of the experiences you can have being alone.  I have a great deal of friends near and far, but I’ve spent a lot of time in my own company over the years–sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance.

For example, as an introvert, I spend a great deal of time in my own company and love times of peace and solitude.  I work a job that is heavy on customer service, so at the end of the day, all I want is to curl up in my room and read my book.  I’ve recently taken up hiking and, when I have the trail to myself, the world gets all quiet in a way that fills up my spirit.  Being alone is restful–a haven away from the loudness of life.

But being alone isn’t always bliss. Continue reading

Hiking in Spring

Lately, I’ve been going on hikes to prepare for an upcoming road trip.  On the weekend, no matter the weather, I spend my morning at my local state park.  There is a five mile loop that goes along the river and up into the bluffs.  It’s a great place to train and an even better place to think.

This morning, rain was in the forecast and I had the trail all to myself.  One of my favorite things about hiking is the way the cadence of my footsteps pushes my brain to places that feel high and rich.  As I scrambled over rocks, past trees, and up high hills, I found myself deeply moved by spring.

In Minnesota, spring comes slowly.  It comes in waves of warm and cool weather, rain and sun, green grass and sticky mud.

On the trail, most of the forest was still brown and dead.  The leaves were just starting to peek forth–a green blush against the rainy sky.  The ground was scattered with little flowers–pink and white and purple and yellow.

What a miracle it is, that life emerges from the bare earth. It reminds me that there will come a day where there will be no more crying, no more pain, no more injustice.

Spring comes forth in quiet radiance, whispering of life and peace and, best of all, hope.

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Everyday Resistance: Saying NO in the Little Ways

The past few weeks have been hard to bear.  With each each move the new presidential administration makes, my heart sinks deeper.  I long to join the resistance, to blazingly declare NO, to do more than wring my hands and scroll through social media feeds.

 

At times like these, I am confronted with my own smallness.  I am just one person with just one voice.  I live far enough from the cities to make attending protests logistically challenging.  My workplace is an hour from where I live, so it’s hard to get involved with local resistance efforts because I’m always in the car.

Where does that leave me?  What can I possibly do to make a difference?  Who am I to even complain?  I live a life of incredible privilege.  I’m not going to be deported or separated from my family.  I’m not going to face discrimination for my skin color, sexuality, or religion.  Yet, even though I will likely get through the next four years unscathed, my heart hurts for those who won’t.  This spurs my longing to resist.

I’ve been thinking about these things a great deal over the past weeks and have come to the conclusion that, while I may not to make grand efforts, there are many small ways in which I can take a stand.   Continue reading

Tear Ducts of Steel

I rarely cry.  Is that weird?

I know people who cry at everything from sad movies to diaper commercials (apparently, the babies are so cute they can’t emotionally handle it).  Tears of devastation and rage are shed in the wake of global tragedies and tears of joy flow forth when reunited with loved ones.  There are tears for everything–tears of frustration, of deep sadness, of the messiness of everyday life.

And then, there’s me. Continue reading

The Drunkenness of Things Being Various

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to camp in Northern Minnesota.  A friend and I stayed in my uncle’s self-built rustic cabin in the woods a few miles from Lake Superior.  We had a wonderful time going on hikes, sitting by the lakeshore, exploring waterfalls, discussing morality in Game of Thrones, and reading poetry aloud at the campfire.

It was a peaceful weekend.  I felt all the clutter in my life fade away.  The sounds of daily life fade in comparison to the rush of a waterfall.  Alone time in nature, for me, is soul detox.

In my quiet moments, I reflected a great deal on how complex the human experience is–how beautifully multifaceted we all are.  I wrote in the margins of my sketchbook:   “Personhood is a complicated, beautiful thing–what an adventure it is to live inside myself.  There are so many corners, so many contradictions–How can I be so many people at once?” Continue reading

Emergency Dance Party

As far as weeks go, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having a terrible one.  To begin with, my parents are currently away road tripping to Oregon, leaving me in a big empty house with no one but my brother (who isn’t exactly a chatterbox) and my cat to keep me company.  Then, I made the mistake of wading into the wrong patch of woods on our farm, resulting in poison ivy rashes and blisters all over my legs.  To cap it off, I got sick on Monday night and made a big mess of it, making cleanup gross and difficult.  (Sorry if that’s too much information…) Continue reading

Black, White, & the Perils of Indifference

A month ago, 49 members of the GLBT community were shot in a night club in Orlando, Florida.

Four days ago, a black man named Alton Sterling was shot by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Two days ago, Philando Castile, also black, was shot by the police in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Last night, five police officers were shot by a sniper in Dallas, Texas.

Every time I see a headline declaring another shooting, another death, my first response is exhaustion. I’m just so tired, so frustrated. I’m tired of hate, but even more, I’m tired of turning a blind eye on injustice.

It’s so easy to absolve ourselves of responsibility by casting blame on others.  But the easy path is often not the right one. Continue reading

Slowing it Down and Learning to Live

Since arriving in England, not a day has passed that I haven’t examined my surroundings and asked: “Is this really my life?”  The days here feel rich in a way I’ve never before experienced.  It’s almost as if this place is saturated with the essence of what brings life meaning.

Living in a cross-cultural community certainly has its challenges.  We don’t always understand each other–language doesn’t always translate.  Personalities and lifestyle quirks sometimes come into conflict.  Each day, I interact with people from all over the globe: Holland, Australia, Hungary, Brazil, South Africa, Belarus, the list goes on.  Each night, though, I can’t help but give thanks for this colorful collection of people.  Despite all our differences, we share one beautiful thing in common: we are all human.

Daily life here is beautiful.  The majority of our hours are spent in one of two ways: work or study.

With work, there are all kinds of tasks.  Some days, I chop vegetables in the kitchen to help with dinner.  Others, I scrub toilets, pull weeds, or fold towels.  The best days are when I’m assigned to the library–hours are filled entering books into a digital catalog.  Most of the time, work doesn’t seem like work.  The tasks may be menial at times, but they are never difficult.  Plus, the company is always good.

During study time, we gather in the Bake House, curling up by the fire with our books.  I just finished studying direction and calling and am turning my attention to gender studies and women in church.  Mixed in is a healthy dose of Ann Lamott, Dorothy Sayers, Charlotte Bronte, and Shakespeare.  Some days, I sit at one of the desks by the windows.  I listen to recorded lectures, paint, and watch birds playing in the garden.

Life here is slow.  We keep ourselves busy, but also stop and rest.  During lunch, we ask questions and partake in intentional, meaningful conversation.  On our free nights, we enjoy pint (or two) at the local pub.  In the evenings, we often play games.  Once a week, we watch a film and discuss its relevance.  On Mondays, we meditate and pray during a silent lunch featuring beautiful classical music.  Sunday nights are my favorites: we have High Tea, which involves a casual meal followed by reading a novel or play together.

Each day holds at least one precious moment.  Most days have multiple: laughing as you make peanut butter balls in the kitchen, singing hymns together around a piano, soaking in the rare sunlight in the trees as you explore the countryside on one of the local footpaths , holding hands with one of the little girls who live here as you walk home from church.

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Church Lane, one of my favorite walks.

When you slow down and allow yourself to actually process the beauty of daily life, the riches you discover are breathtaking.  Being away from technology has its downs–I would love to better stay in touch with family and friends back home–but I also love it.  In a way, life here feels like it’s straight out of a Jane Austen novel (which is helped by the fact that I currently live ten minutes from where she wrote and published most of her works).  We delight in the beauty of everyday: going for walks, playing music, making art, reading books that make us think.  Interactions are intentional and meaningful–estranged from technology and the fast-paced normal life, our conversations have more depth.

I wish life here could go on forever.  I’m thankful that, in many ways, my stay is still just beginning: I’m here until the end of March.  But there will come a time when I will have to return to normalcy.  I will have to move away from home and actually get a job.  My time here, though, is in many ways preparing me for then.  Life at L’Abri is in no ways perfect, but it’s a wonderful place to learn how to live.