Decisions, Decisions

I’m the type of person that needs a billboard affirming whatever major life decision I have made. Recently this “life changing” choice was what seminary I should attend. The last month or so, I went back and forth between two amazing candidates for my next level of education. One day I was going to attend school A the other day was school B and some days I internally gave up and told myself that maybe seminary wasn’t in my cards.

I felt incredibly lost and confused. I was mortified that I would make the wrong decision.

Ultimately…I did make a decision. But was it right? I kept asking God for my billboard of affirmation. I ended up making my decision based on my gut feeling—this school just felt right. But was my gut feeling good enough to base a major decision off of? Was this gut feeling one of those signs that I desperately wanted?

We tend to overcomplicate decisions when we bring in God’s plan. I used to think that there was only one path. I’m finding more and more that this free will thing comes into play. God doesn’t just have one set path for us with every single detail planned out. The more I’ve wrestled with God’s plan, the more I see it as one of those “choose your own ending” books. God lays out multiple options for us, and as we journey along and make decisions, our path continues to mold. God isn’t just watching our plans fall into place…rather, God is walking side-by-side with us during this journey.

That gut feeling…that was my simple answer to the billboard I was expecting.

 

solution

Surrounded by Tweens: My Experience at the Demi Lovato Concert

My name is Jenn Meadows and I’m a Lovatic. Demi Lovato is a badass. Yeah she did punch a backup dancer and had her stint in rehab, but she came out transformed. Instead of allowing the pressure of her Disney stardom and need for perfection to own her, she took her demons by the horns and she didn’t hide her flaws from the public eye. She now stands for self-love and owning who you are. I’m not brave enough for pink hair and shaving the side of my hair off so mad respect Demi. At the age of 21 and already having four albums, she makes me feel kinda inadequate as a 22-year-old…I mean, what have I done? Surely I’m not a badass compared to Lovato standards!

Over the weekend, Kelsey and I attended the Demi Lovato concert in Indy. We realized beforehand that we would be surrounded by tweens, but we had NO IDEA how incredibly old being at the concert would make us feel. In case you were curious on what our experience being surrounded by tweens entailed…

Thanks for hitting on us, small children. As Kelsey and I were walking up to the venue, two boys that looked maybe 13 tried using their “smooth” moves on us— “Hello ladies.” Kelsey’s response, “Hello small children.” Obviously we are really good at making friends. We haven’t even stepped foot into Banker’s Life and I knew this was going to be an interesting night.

Brenda would have KILLED ME if I’d worn that at your age. Once we were seated, our prediction of being one of very few people in attendance of besides being either a tween or not chaperoning a tween was correct. However, I found myself switching into “mom mode.” I was surrounded by a sea of tweens wearing crop tops and short-shorts. I get it, you’re “wearing what you want” but you also need to dress your age. If you are a decade younger than me and doting club wear, I think you need to reconsider what you walk out of your house in. But then again, who am I to judge? I had a bowl cut in middle school.

Ten bucks this is your first concert…no judgment…it’s kinda cute. The girls in front of us started clapping along when the opening act encouraged the crowd to clap along. The girls (in their adorable matching outfits), clapped along the entirety of the song. Their dedication was admirable, but Kelsey was betting this was their first concert experience. Sure enough, it was. However, I felt creepy overhearing their life story commentated by their moms, so I didn’t want to congratulate them for drinking the concert junkie KoolAid. Can you say stranger danger?

Wait…are we the only people in our sections that were alive when “Independent Women” was released? Do you even know who Destiny’s Child is?! This group called 5th Harmony (I had NO idea who they were) started to sing their cover of “Independent Women”. Up to this point, I had awkwardly been sitting around trying to figure out what these girls were even singing. Destiny Child’s lyrics started bumping and I got overly excited. As I started to sing and dance along, I realized that I was the only in my section moving because I was one of the very few individuals sitting there who remembered when the song was originally released. Man did that make me feel old…

Sorry I forgot my Pillow Pet at home. Instead of throwing flowers on stage to show adoration for a musician, the practice amongst tweens is to throw a pillow pet on stage. Specifically, unicorn pillow pets. I’m very disappointed I missed out on the memo. I hope my parents throw a unicorn pillow pet to me when I walk across stage at graduation.

Please stop dancing to “Talk Dirty to Me”…you’re thirteen and you shouldn’t know what this song is about! Seriously. Every. Single. Tween. Twerked. I hate the song in general because I find it degrading and offensive, but that’s a decision I made as an adult. These children are twerking to this song and singing along to it. Whatever happened to the clean fun of the “Macarena” of my generation? Back then, the hip shaking was scandalous, but at least it wasn’t on the scale of Miley Cyrus on Robin Thicke’s VMA performance. Where was the parental consent?!

WHERE THE HELL ARE WE?! I looked behind me and noticed the brunette six-year-old long-lost cousin of the Honey Boo Boo Child. For a split second I thought we had slipped into a time wrap. But then I realized where I was…my twenties. I’m still young, but I’m getting older. I’m no longer part of the hip, young crowd. Besides TTYL and LOL, I have no idea what’s going on with text language. I had to ask what SMH meant because I’m ninety.

Tweens on tweens on tweens. I forgot how tweens and teenage girls forgot how to properly converse like regular humans. Instead, most of their conversing is in high pitches and screams. I also forgot that when any older boy walked by, I was supposed to jump up and down, scream, giggle, gush, and cry all at the same time. Collins Key is 17 and a stud y’all.

No matter how incredibly old I felt…the concert was baller. You rule, Demi Lovato.

in no hurry to grow up

Your Twenties: Where Everyone Gets Married and Pregnant

I’ve entered that time of my life where changes are happening rapidly and every single one of my friends is in a different life phase than one another. I was told my early to mid-twenties would consist of a lot of weddings and babies. That statement couldn’t be more accurate.

I’m incredibly thrilled for my friends and excited to see them flourish in their new life phase. However, I find myself reminding older adults around me that I’m not necessarily on the same path as the others. With each wedding shower and baby shower I attend, I find that I’m being asked more and more when I’m next. I look down at my left hand and see that I’m not in a hurry to get engaged. When am I next? Well, when I get around to it.

This weekend I attended a baby shower for a dear friend of mine that I look up to as the older, cooler sister I never had. Although I’m completely thrilled for my friend and her husband on welcoming their baby boy, I was reminded how my calling in life was not to be a mother at this very moment. We played a “game” at the shower where each individual had an ice cube with a frozen plastic baby in her drink. When the ice melted and the plastic baby was floating free, we were supposed to yell, “My water broke!” Yes, this game is cute, but I couldn’t help but get nervous. I wasn’t nervous because I wanted to win…rather, I was nervous because the thought of childbirth absolutely terrified me.

On one hand I think parenthood is the hardest job out there and good parents deserve a lot of respect. On the other hand I realize that parenthood is not for me…at least not at this moment. But that goes for other life steps in life. Being married one day would be cool, but at this moment in time, I’m not meant to be a married woman. One of these days I’ll be purchasing my first home, but that’s not going to be anytime soon. Some of my friends are graduating and entering the workforce. Working in a full-time job is not in my deck of cards just yet. My calling in life at this very moment is continuing on my education for my master’s degree. At this point in time, that’s the only life step I see coming up in my future.

I’m happy for my friends who have jobs lined up after graduation. I’m excited to be present when I get to see my friends get married this summer and fall. I cannot wait to meet my friends’ precious little babies. At the same time, I’m happy with my phase…graduate school. I can’t compare my life to another’s because this was the life I was given. My path will look different than your path.

We need to remember there’s no specific timetable on how we accomplish this journey we call life…we can only live it.

move to the next chapter

Chicago on the Mind

Buildings tower over me as I walked to my destination. The hustle of the people on the street trying to get to their destinations excited me. The horns from the taxis sounded like the heartbeat of the city. The lights had me memorized…I’m talking about Chicago.

The lake is gorgeous. I walked along side the shoreline despite the cold wind hitting my face. As far as I could see, the lake never seemed to end. God’s glory stretched as far as my eyes could see. The campus was grand. Walking through the hallways reminded me of a castle. Since I’m such a nerd, a tiny part of me couldn’t wait to tell friends that I would be basically attending Hogwarts in the fall. Off of campus, the city’s heartbeat comes from the footsteps and the clicking of bicycles. This city thrives on the arts. Even the houses look like pieces of art. The people are from all over the world. I was in a big city, but the people still subscribed to the Midwest mentality. With each encounter, I’m reminded of the good nature that still exists in people. I felt like I was home…I’m talking about Evanston.

In a few short weeks, my life at UIndy will be coming to an end. I’ll have a diploma in hand, and my eyes looking ahead at my future. Next August, I’ll be moving to Evanston to pursue my Master’s in Divinity at Garrett Seminary. For the next three years, I’ll be calling Chicago home.

Indy has been fabulous, but I’m ready to fall in love with another city.

chicago is always a good idea

The BC

Being a woman should have come with a manual. There’s certain etiquette, standards and exceptions…I can never keep it all straight. One status quo I was never informed of was that I should be ashamed of being on birth control.

During my senior year of high school, Mother Nature’s monthly gift became a little too much to bear. I started missing classes for something that biologically, I couldn’t help. In order to make my menstrual cycles suck less, my doctor prescribed me birth control. It wasn’t until college that I found out I should be “ashamed” for taking “The Pill.” A friend was over visiting my dorm room one night. She was reenacting her evening to me as I was getting ready for bed. While listening to her, I pulled out my packet of birth control when I noticed she stopped talking. I turned my attention to her only to find that she was staring at what was in my hand. “Wow…you’re really brave for taking that in public.”

I’ve noticed how some of the women I know keep their birth control secret. An alarm goes off on their phone and they disappear for five minutes, trying to conceal what they have stuffed in their hand. Yes, medication is a private matter. However, I believe that at an early age, girls are taught to be ashamed of our bodies…

When I had my first menstrual cycle, my mom bought me a purse and told me to hide my pads in it. Being in fifth grade walking to the bathroom with a purse every four weeks, I’m pretty sure what was happening was obvious to my classmates. I remember trying to conceal tampons and pads until high school when I looked at my trying to hide these products as ridiculous. Obviously since I’m a female, people can assume that I have a period so it’s not a surprise to see a tampon in my hand when I’m walking to the bathroom. Once I started birth control, I looked at it the same way— No. Big. Deal.—since the medication was for my monster of a menstrual cycle.

I’m tired of feeling like I should be ashamed of the birth control. I’m sorry that I wanted to function for a week once a month when Mother Nature comes knocking on my door. Relief came in the form of birth control. I understand that there are individuals against birth control for religious or personal beliefs. I respect those individuals and their opinions. However, in the same way that I respect them, I want them to respect my decision to take birth control. We can agree to disagree, but also can agree to respect one another’s personal decisions. Being on birth control does not automatically mean a woman is a slut. Birth control is a personal decision. No woman should feel ashamed of making a decision that is best for her body.

be nice

In Every Disappointment, A Lesson

There are moments in life where you work really hard for something, but the results don’t turn out the way you would have liked…

Hours and hours are spent for this one moment. You arrive with a game plan. You give your performance everything you have. A lot of time and effort went into preparing for this moment. The results come back…and you find yourself flooded with disappointment.

“You can’t win them all.” I remember being in elementary school when my father first gave me this piece of advice. I’ve never been a strong speller but for some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to get in front of the whole school to demonstrate my lack of skills. Spell Bowl seemed to be a good idea at the time, but I was humiliated that an audience witnessed my failure.

On the walk back home, my dad kept telling me how proud he was of me…I didn’t get it. I didn’t win anything, so why was he proud? After my inquiry, he reminded me that, “You can’t win them all…” but he also stressed that the real losers were those who didn’t even try. “At least you put yourself out there!”

I’ve had mountaintop successes and embarrassing failures. I’ve learned there really isn’t a constellation prize for coming in second place. Although the loss hurts, I walk away from the experience only a little bit disappointed. I might’ve not won the Grand Prize, but I walked away with a valuable experience.

The last few months, I worked with a team developing a PR campaign to pitch to the state government. We made it to the final three. The next step was to pitch our proposal in front of a panel of judges. When it was time to step in front of the judges, we felt confident with our pitch…we had spent hours prepping for this moment. After some excruciating wait time, we found out the results weren’t what we wanted. At first, I was disappointed. But after allowing the initial disappointment sink in, I realized how incredibly lucky I was to have this experience.

As a senior in college, I had the opportunity to learn and grow from five other talented PR students. I worked in a group setting where I learned a lot about how I contribute to a group, both positively and negatively. I had the opportunity to pitch in front of government officials and marketing professionals. I didn’t walk away from this experience empty handed…I walked away with growth.

With every new experience, there’s opportunity to grow. In every disappointment, there’s an opportunity to learn.

work really hard

That Woman

She was deemed unclean. Thanks to some sort of unknown disease, the bleeding began one day. The bleeding continued for longer than usual—possibly a month, two months—before the woman started looking for answers. As she traveled, she held hope that one day, the bleeding would stop as suddenly as it began.

One year went by and still no cure. She held heart that the right doctor was out there to heal her so she continued with her travels.

Two years went by, no solution. She continued her travels hoping to find an answer.

Four years, the bleeding didn’t stop, started to lose patience, and running low on funds. The woman wondered how much longer she could take.

Six years later she was back home, kept away from others. Still unclean and unable to find a cure.

Nine years gone by and tired. Tired of being lonely. Tired of the bleeding.

Eleven years passed and no indication that the bleeding would ever stop. The woman lost hope. At this point, she would rather die than face this bleeding another day.

Twelve years later she heard of this man coming to town. Apparently, He could cure her. Apparently, He offered the solution. She watches him from afar since she’s not allowed to be around the others due to her uncleanliness. She realized that if only she could touch Him, she could find rescue from the bleeding. She managed to make her way into town and she found herself unable to reach Him. This Healer was her last hope, so she got on her hands and knees and crawled until she was able to touch the end of His robe.

The man named Jesus turned around. “Who touched me?” Shyly and in shame, the woman raised her hand. Jesus looked at the woman. After a brief moment of time, He said, “You are healed.” Just like that, the bleeding stopped.

There are “outcasts” in our society due to diseases. We’re terrified to be close to someone with a disease in fear of catching the illness. We have labeled individuals “clean” or “unclean” due to a disease they may have. Whatever that illness be cancer, HIV/AIDS, a skin disease, or a deformity, we are not unclean in God’s eyes. Such as that woman, we are all children of God. Our slate was wiped clean thanks to the blood sacrificed on the cross by Jesus. We just need to hold onto Jesus.

I have made you...

You Better WERK

Every March at UIndy, the Gay-Straight Alliance hosts a drag show on campus. The tips and donation given to he performers goes to Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS for AIDS research. This year, UIndy Pride brought in $700 to be donated for such a great cause.

I haven’t missed a UIndy Drag Show since I’ve been a Greyhound. I remember going to my first one a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Instead of being incredibly awkwardness (which I usually am), I found myself in awe of the performers. They all had so much confidence to get on stage and perform. The next year I was excited to attend again. The following year I signed up to be a Cigarette Girl and collected the tips the performers received. This year, I signed up to perform in drag.

I have this Bucket List of sorts of everything I wanted to do before I left for graduate school. I didn’t want to be sitting in the audience…I wanted to be on stage.

Jenna and I along with some little help from our friends DyNishia and Deondra, we performed to “I Like Big Butts.” I channeled my inner dude from James Franco— Spring Breakers style.

drag

If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to try out, then seriously, go do it! Don’t hold yourself back from experiencing something wonderful! I will always look back on this night with memories. Glad I could share the evening in company of friends and to help raise awareness for such a worthy cause.

SPRAAANG BREAK, Y’ALL.

glitter

Scarves on Scarves on Scarves

I have a confession—I have a weakness for scarves. I see a scarf that’s a perfect match, and I try to turn away because I don’t need to add another to my collection. But I find myself looping around, making excuses of why I don’t really need it. Then I start validating why I actually need the scarf—I haven’t bought one in awhile, I don’t have one with this design, and it’s a fair trade product. I end up placing the scarf in my basket. I just can’t leave it there without a home…

The saga of my scarf-buying-habits caught the attention of my parents. Brenda encouraged me to downsize my collection, which I did, to 21 scarves in my collection. Of course, they believed that I couldn’t possibly wear all of those scarves. To prove them wrong and to show all my scarves some love, I decided to wear each one of my scarves for three weeks every single day. I wanted to validate my scarves habit to my parents by showing them, yes, I actually do wear every scarf I purchase. That feat became easier said than done. I found some scarves that I actually hadn’t worn in years, but I kept holding onto them for that moment I would need a scarf exactly like this one to wear. For three weeks, I strategically planned out my outfits so the scarf was the center of attention.

I wore a scarf every single day for three weeks. I was certain someone would eventually notice and question why my obsession had escalated, but nothing was ever said. I started this small feat just to prove to my parents and validate to myself that my issue of buying scarves wasn’t really an issue at all. While accomplishing that, I also began noticing compliments, or rather, the lack of compliments I received. I started to take note of the compliments I received about a certain scarf. I found that a majority of the compliments I received came from strangers I encountered at events, while traveling, or walking across campus. Only two people I have a relationship with complimented my scarf more than once. One, a co-worker…the other, a roommate.

I want to make it clear that I wasn’t fishing for compliments. However, I did take note of the feedback I received because for awhile, I had been thinking about how we don’t compliment those around us enough. We may see someone on a consistent basis, yet we don’t take the five seconds to lift them up. We notice the new clothes, but we don’t say anything. We don’t bring light to how their smile brightened up the room that day. We don’t take the time to let someone know how beautiful they are inside and out. We don’t even let someone know how much we love their favorite shirt, even if they’ve worn it a hundred times. In some cases, we look for ways NOT to compliment one another. We desperately look for ways on how we are better than others, while tearing down others may involve looking for faults in other. Why do we purposely look for fault in others? Instead, why don’t we try to lift each other up?

Through this experience I learned two things: One, I really do need to downsize my scarf collection. It’s ridiculous. Two, I need to be more intentional in complimenting those around me. It’s easy to see something new and bring attention to it, but it’s harder to see something frequently and think about complimenting a person. I want to encourage you to do the same. Be more intentional with family, friends, and co-workers. Notice something about them, and give them a compliment! We all need a little encouragement each day. You could be that positive vibe in someone’s life with a simple five-second sentence. 

dress up

I Don’t Get You, Gatsby

Working as a librarian for five years of my life, I’ve been suggested many books to read by library patrons. One suggestion stuck out—Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Over and over again, I would hear how it was “such a shame” I wasn’t required to read this “great American classic” in high school. I added the title to my forever-long list of books to someday read once I actually have time to read for pleasure. Earlier this year, the movie adaptation hit theaters and I was told to stay far away. But my interest was peaked…yet another book ruined by the movie…typical line heard in today’s world. Every movie poster and advertisement I would see, there was DiCaprio as Gatsby. Every bookstore had displays of the book. I decided this was an indication that it was time to actually sit down and cross this title off my reading list…and I needed to hurry before Leo was imprinted in my mind as Gatsby for good. (Movies have a tendency of turning actors into literary characters…)

After hearing mixed reviews about the movie, I started to hear mixed reviews on the book. But wait…I thought this book was supposed to be life-changing. How could some people just think EHHH after they were finished? It was time to find out for myself. I grabbed a few books for Spring Break and The Great Gatsby found its way to the top of my list.

The Great Gatsby ended up being a quick read. Waiting in terminals for the next destination, I was engrossed in the mystery behind this Gatsby character. I wanted to know more about Daisy. I hated Tom. I was transported back to the 20s with witty dialogue, high fashion, and the lavish lifestyle of upper society of the time period. Although I enjoyed my read, I wouldn’t say that it redefined me. It was just another book…a different book…but I wasn’t impressed. I’m glad that I was finally able to check the title off my reading list, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. I had these expectations before even turning a page that I was going to fall in love with this book. I didn’t understand what I was missing.

But that’s the thing with literature—we all connect in different ways. I may think something is just alright because of the way I personally connected with the words on the page while someone else may have connected with the words in a much stronger way that caused them to fall head-over-heels in love with the story.

Despite not being overly impressed with the book, I’m glad I finally started reading for pleasure. It’s been far too long since I’ve found myself lost between pages. 

Great Gatsby