Weekend Coffee Share 7/30/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be at my local coffee shop once more.  It’s a full house for a Sunday and I had to take a table close to the counter, which is noisier than where I usually sit.  I have a clear sight of the door and keep getting distracted by all the people coming in.

If I were to pick a word to describe this week, it would be quiet.  My parents have been on vacation for the past week and I’ve had the house to myself.  The solitude has been a much-needed break.  I’ve been able to dive into my head in a way I haven’t in a long time.  I’ve been writing again in a way that feels fresh and natural.  And I’ve been reading!  Between audiobooks from my commute and normal reading, I’ve finished about five books over the past seven days.  Whew!

Not that I’ve been home much… with work and doing things with friends, I’ve kept pretty busy.

I had an enjoyable dinner with an old friend, who was visiting from the East Coast (where she’s about to start her PhD program).  Yesterday afternoon, a college friend came to visit me.  I’ve been trying to get her up here for years and was so glad it finally happened!  We had quite the adventure!  I showed her around our apple orchard and took her to the coffee shop (where I now sit).  Then, we wandered around this really cool sculpture garden and hung out at my local State Park.  The evening wrapped up at the vintage Drive In restaurant, with rootbeer floats and burgers–the perfect summer meal.

Over the next couple of days, my family will slowly fill the house again.  My parents return from their week by the lake in the north woods this evening.  Tomorrow, my younger brother comes home from his summer internship in North Carolina.  It’ll be weird having everyone around again, but a nice kind of weird.  Too much time alone makes me go crazy.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the quiet while it lasts.  I have absolutely no plans for today and tomorrow and I intend to take advantage of it.  I’m hoping for long hours reading on a blanket in my back yard and at least one big hike in my local state park.

But enough about me!  What have you been up to this week?  What would you share over coffee?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster. Be sure to check out the weekly Link Up to see what everyone has been up to.

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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Weekend Coffee Share: 3/26/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be at the Caribou Coffee by Target on the edge of the Minneapolis suburbs–you know the one?  You’d take a seat opposite me and I’d scramble to make room for you.  You see, my laptop and lunch are taking up the whole table.  I’d offer to share my cucumbers and carrots while messily trying to keep my chicken caesar wrap from falling to bits.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve joined in the coffee share.  How have you been lately?  I’ve missed you.  I’ve been suffering from writer’s block and even the thought of drafting a casual post was was enough to send me scrambling away from my computer.  But I’m back! Continue reading

Traveling Solo: Thoughts From the Road

I’m about two weeks into my European adventure… and boy, is it going fast.  It feels like yesterday that I was preparing to leave L’Abri and now I’ve been to Scotland, Holland, and Germany.  There are so many posts I want to write, but every time I sit down, I’m too exhausted to find the words.

(On a side note, if you want more frequent updates, I post photos regularly on Instagram.  My username is ameliab648.  I keep my account private, so send a request.)

Maybe some day, I’ll tell you about the two days I spent in Utrecht with my Dutch friends, Jorijn and Petra.  Maybe someday, I’ll tell you about wandering the beautiful town of Heidelberg, Germany.  Maybe someday, I’ll tell you about all the footage I’m taking on my phone for videography projects.

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Heidelberg, Germany
Today, though, I’ll tell you that traveling alone is hard, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  After months surrounded by people all the time, it is sometimes comforting to be alone. Sometimes, though, it’s not.  It’s lonely and, at points, I long for someone to share my adventures with.  Often times, I’ll go a full day without having a single conversation.  When I come to stretches of my journey where I’m staying with people, I find it hard to stop talking.  All the words that have been building rush out.

So far, I have only had one emotional meltdown and that was because I forgot to take care of my basic needs.  When you haven’t eaten or slept for a long time, your body tends to shut down.  In order to pay for all the museums and castles (and ensure that I’ll still have money when I get home) I’m keeping myself on a tight budget, so most of my meals have been supermarket food–sandwiches, yogurt, bananas, salad, nuts.  It’s healthy food and keeps me going.  I do like to splurge once in every country to try an authentic meal.

I’ve learned that half the battle is the hostel.  When living on the road, it’s important to feel secure in the place you sleep.  No matter where I am, I see my bed as a safe place, a refuge from the chaos of the world.  My bed is my temporary home. In it, I can relax, breathe, and have peace.  There are other things, though, that make or break a hostel: cleanliness, locker space in the rooms, plugs by every bed, good wifi, and a self service kitchen.  It’s important to know that my laptop and phone will have a place to charge, that my belongings will be secure when I am gone, and that I can cook a hot meal for myself.

As I journey from place to place on busses, trains, and airplanes, I usually pass the time with a book.   I’m reading That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, the final novel in his Space Trilogy.  It’s a pretty heavy book, so I’m taking my time with it. Being in the Scottish Highlands put me in the mood for Susanna Kearsley, who writes historical romances.  I’ve finished The Winter Sea and am close to the end of The Firebird.

Another important part of any adventure is the soundtrack!  Music helps me stay sane as I wait out long bus rides and navigate strange cities.  Since its release on Friday, I’ve been listening non-stop to The Lumineers’ new album, Cleopatra. Here’s the title track:

I wish I could write more, but I’m off to catch my bus to Nuremberg… Until next time!

What’s Wrong With Being an Introvert? (Writing 101, Day 16)

People are always surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert.  “Really?” They ask.  “You seem so…” Fill in the blank:

  • Socially adept
  • Outgoing
  • Normal

In general, there’s a stigma surrounding what it means to be an introvert.  Introverts are the shy, awkward loners who sit in a corner avoiding people.  I can’t count the amount of times someone has criticized another by saying, “They’re just so introverted!”

But the thing is… none of this has to do with being an introvert.

Introversion is seen as a negative trait when, in reality, it’s nothing of the sort.  It has nothing to do with being socially awkward.  It has to do with where you get your energy/rest.  Extroverts gain their energy from being around other people–thus, they are seen as more social.  Being alone drains them.  Introverts are the opposite.  Being around people drains them and they refuel by doing things alone.  Another misconception is that you are either one or the other.  I tend to see introversion and extroversion not as categories, but as a scale.  On a scale of Introvert to Extrovert, where do you land?

Found this useful graphic on Google. Yay Google!

I’ve always been an introvert, but it’s been a journey figuring out how to take care of myself.  Because, opposed to popular belief, I actually really like being with people.  When I was younger, I’d hang out with large groups of people all the time.  While on church or band trips, where you’re surrounded by people, I didn’t know that I needed to pull away.  Because I didn’t know how to take care of myself in this aspect, I’d find myself experiencing bursts of crabbiness that did nothing to help my friendships.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand my introversion much better.  I’ve learned that removing myself from company and spending time alone is necessary to my mental health.  I now plan “Me-Time” into my schedule.  If I know I’ve got plans with friends or other social activities, I make sure to have time the day afterwards where I hang out by myself.  If I’m going on a big trip where I’ll be surrounded by people all the time, I sometimes go off on my own while everyone is hanging out.  Working at camp for three summers is a huge challenge for an introvert, but I usually managed to find time to sneak off on my own to re-fuel.

On the spectrum, I fall just to the left of the middle line.  I’m an introvert, but I’m less introverted than many of my friends.  I have found that too much time in my own head isn’t necessarily healthy. If I’m alone too long, I get angsty and lonely. That’s where the spectrum mindset it so useful. Because I’m aware, I’m very careful to balance  people time with me time. This involves making plans with friends a few times a week while keeping enough nights free to be alone.

I love being an introvert!  Most of my favorite pastimes require no company and the hours I spend reading, writing, and painting are what I most look forward to in the day.  Sometimes, I feel like I live for the few hours in the evening where I retreat into my own little world.

Where, readers, do you fall on the spectrum? Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Or a bit of both? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

In My Happy Place (Writing 101, Day 6)

When it’s time to write, I like to be alone.  Crowded locations, even trendy coffee shops, are a definite no.  I used to bury myself in the basement of my university’s library.  Something about being surrounded by books helped me find my words.

These days, writing usually happens in my bedroom.  This summer, I got rid of the tiny desk that served me throughout childhood and upgraded to something I can actually USE.  I’m sitting here now, actually.  See the white chair in the photo below?  Picture me there, typing away on my laptop.

My bedroom is my happy place.  It’s the only place I can truly be alone.  I can hear noises from other parts of the house, but they can’t reach me here.  Not in my happy place.

I’m the type of person who likes to be cozy.  Part of this means lots of bookshelves, warm sweaters, and patterned socks.  Part of this also means surrounding myself with objects laden with memories.  Almost everything in the photo of my desk has meaning.  The bulletin board is covered with postcards, photos, and notes, each bearing its own story.  If you were here, I could tell you each one.  The wire hanging spelling my name was a gift from a co-worker during my camp counseling days.  Even the tiny objects bring back memories–rubber ducks given to me by a favorite roommate, a carved elephant a friend brought back from Africa, a plaque with a Bible verse given to me when I graduated high school.

When I’m cozy, I’m comfortable.  When I’m comfortable, words flow.

 This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

P.S. Part of today’s assignment included generating polls/contact forms to generate ideas for future posts.  I opted for the contact form.  If you have a topic or area you’d like to see me write about, you can find the new “Contact Me” page under my “About” heading.  Or you can email me at keepyourfeetblog@gmail.com.  OR you can do things the simple way and leave a comment.  Cheers!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Last Hurrah of Summer

If we were having coffee, we would be sitting on a patch of flattened grass munching on deep fried cheese curds watching hoards of people pass by.  That’s right, I spent my day at the Minnesota State Fair.  It’s been four years since I last attended what we affectionately call the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  Nothing has changed much.  The cow barns still smell.  The DNR still has the fish pond.  My dad still spends way too much time ogling antique tractors.  And, despite the fact that you spend the entire day in crowds of thousands of people, you still manage to run into at least five people you know!  It’s still a delight, though.  There’s so much to look at and take in!

One of the biggest draws of the fair is the food.  These days, everything is deep fried and/or on a stick.  Throughout the day, I had a raspberry wine smoothie, an ice cream cone from the Dairy Barn, french fries, and deep fried cheese curds.  I’ve been home for several hours and the thought of eating anything makes me feel sick.  It’s a good thing the State Fair only happens once a year, ’cause I don’t think my stomach would be able to keep up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am absolutely exhausted.  I can’t remember the last time I was this tired.  I’ve made the hour long trek to the cities and back three days in a row.  On Friday, I had a bachelorette party from 9-11 and didn’t get to bed till 1 AM.  On Saturday, I had a wedding to attend.  Today, as you already know, I went to the fair.  Overall, I had to pass through stop-and-go traffic and massive road construction on the interstate SIX TIMES.  UGH.  Excuse me while I lock myself in my room and don’t emerge for days.

IMG_5660If we were having coffee, I’d show off the fall outfit I spent WAY too much money on yesterday.  I’m kind of obsessed with it.  (See photo on left.)

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that one of my dear friends got married!  Katie and I have been friends for years–starting in early high school.  We’ve had a running joke for years in which we share a brain.  You see, I didn’t have a brain back then, so she split hers in half and gave a portion to me.  When I got the call announcing her engagement several months ago, one of my first questions was,Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset “Katie, what will happen to our brain now?”  That aside, it was a beautiful wedding.  The thing about Katie is that she is extremely quirky, goofy, touchy, and jumpy in the most adorable way.  As she stood at the altar, I couldn’t help but smile at her subtle excited twitching.  During the dance after the reception, I caught her out of the corner of my eye standing alone spinning in circles just to make her dress swish around her.  She’s a beautiful soul and it was so much fun to be there for her special day.

Enough about me.  What would you share if we were having coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up at Part Time Monster

The benefits of dating yourself

Weird title, I know.

By two o’clock today, I had gone to church, worked out, and finished all my weekend homework.  All my friends were busy, and I was left with an entire afternoon with nothing to do.  I’m an introvert, but too much time alone in my room makes me lonely.  It’s like my heart feels heavy and empty and no amount of Netflix can make it better.  Knowing I had hours ahead of me in my own company, I didn’t want to waste the day moping around.

So I took action by taking myself on a date.

It was a wonderful afternoon.  I sang to the radio during the hour drive to and from Alexandria.  I talked to my mom on the phone.  I went to see Cinderella a second time and loved it just as much as the first.  (Be sure to check out my post about it!)  I went out to eat and spent dinner with my favorite John Green novel.  (Which, in case you were wondering, is Paper Towns.)   I meandered through Target, sighing over pretty clothes and household decorations.  I purchased a new purse and the final Hobbit movie.  (Be sure to check out my post about that one too!).

On the drive home, I spent a great deal of time meditating on the nostalgia that comes with the end of a season in life.  With only a handful of weeks left of college, there are so many aspects of life here that I’ve taken for granted.  As I approached Morris, instead of heading to campus, I drove to the overlook just outside of town.  Perched on a rock, I watched the sun set over the tiny town I’ve called home these past few years.  It was such a beautiful, peaceful moment– one that I know I’ll hold in my heart for a long time.

Afternoons like this one remind me that incredible joy can be found in little things.  It felt so good to forget the stresses of college, to drive away, and do things just for the sake of doing them.  I think that it’s important to learn to date yourself.  You can have a lot of fun and learn a great deal in your own company.

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Driving home to Morris in the sunset.

 

I’ve become a hermit and I don’t even care

These days, I don’t seem to get out much.  It’s been a month since I moved back into the dorms and it took until tonight for me to actually meet my floor-mates.  I rarely see my friends anymore.

At times, flying solo is a bit lonesome.  I go hours without talking to anyone but myself.  It’s easy to let myself get all sad and mopey about this, but I do my best to remain positive.  When it comes down to it, I don’t really mind.

After all, life continues to steamroll by and I’m moving with it.  Even if there are moments when I wouldn’t mind company, I’m staying busy and thriving.  I’ve been working hard and am ahead on homework.  In the evenings, I’ve got Bible studies, prayer meetings, and worship nights to attend.  Between work and study, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the library.   I’m organizing a letter-writing program for college students and elderly in the community for a group project.  On Saturdays, I judge speech meets for the local high school team.

Then, there are quiet nights like this one.  The homework is done, library shifts completed, the meetings have been attended and there is only me, my paint, a jar of Nutella, and a Wes Anderson film.

Life, my friends, is good.