Friday, December 26, 2014

On Dealing with the Adult World

Life is really odd.  I guess along with my first career and first tastes of being a young single person outside of college, I have really learned a lot about life.  Last week was a very interesting experience for me.  I found myself very frustrated with the little lesson God through my way.

In a situation that seemed black and white in morality for me, it was the grey that was approved.  I know I am an idealist and a christian, but it seems to me as though virtually everyone is brought up being taught right from wrong.  All people teach their children to "be nice" and "obey the rules."  If the parents don't teach that, I know for fact society and the schools do.  So you can imagine how I was thrown for a loop when someone who "was not nice" and "did not obey the rules" ended up on top.

I think this was morally frustrating for me more than anything.  I just couldn't understand why we would chose to reward someone who had acted so ugly and disrespectful.  It was as if we were rewarding evil because we were scared that they would reap more evil.

Looking at the whole picture of things, I understand why it was the best option.  It made the organization look better as a whole and saved us a lot of bad publicity.  Yet in my black and white world, it seems like right and wrong would be a bigger issue than image.  I mean, don't our teachers spend the first 12 years of our life plastering us with phrases like "Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?" and "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me." and "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  All of these mantras go directly against everything I am learning about the "adult world."  In fact, the adult world seems to run by a completely different set of rules.

Something else I was taught growing up was that any job worth doing was worth doing right.  One of my first irritations with my new career was that everything was out of order and mismatching.  It bothered me that nothing was done right and so every small task took me an eternity to complete because I wanted things to be nice and perfect.  It was at lunch one day when I came home and explained to my mother why a simple banner design had me on the verge of tears.  She had to explain to me that things didn't have to be perfect all the time, they just had to get done.  So I felt awful for designing a tacky banner not to the fullest of my ability, just because it had to be cheap and quick.

Maybe it's just the Christian standard that has gone out the window.  Perhaps that is why adult world seems backwards.  Even my social life has been hard to figure out.  I mean we are raised with black and white expectations.  Go to college, get married, then have kids.  But all the grey is left out.  What about all these friends who accidentally got pregnant but didn't love the person they were with and is now single and trying to make ends meet.  How are we to respond to people who don't fit in the mold?  What about the fact that people my age who are married are not happy and seem completely nuts, yet the single ones are having a blast?  And how do I answer my friends when they point out that there is no need for women to get married anymore because they can support themselves now and be perfectly happy for a long time?

Social Media is an issue.  In college they taught us to keep strict tabs on our social media image.  We were to NEVER post tasteless pictures, especially those of drinking.  Yet in the adult world, if you walk in a room with your image being the main concern you will most likely be overlooked or kicked out instantly.  People want to know you, the real you, the sloppy, messy, drinking you that you are.  They don't want to hire a robot.  They want to hire someone who will enjoy a night of celebration after a big office victory.  It's like grown ups do whatever they want to do, regardless of what they teach the children.  So why then, do we teach the children these things?  To keep them naive and innocent as long as possible?  Okay, but isn't that fake?  Are we asking our children to be fake?  Are we raising kids to have an ideal mindset and prepare them for an imaginary world?

I have a few friends who raise their kids with realism.  I see them hide nothing from them.  They are very up front and honest with their kids, even at a very young age.  There is no babying, yet there is compassion and caring.  I am not yet old enough to see how these kids turn out, but my eye is upon them with fascination.  I am so curious as to how this method differs from everything I have ever been taught.

Life is an interesting train.  Each railcar brings a whole new box of either goodies or coal and it's up to you to sift through it all and hop onto the next car as it comes.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014: An Adventurous Year!

Thought Christmas Letters can be cheesy, it is definitely a good way as the writer to reflect upon the blessings of the year.  So this blog post, to an extent, is my personal Christmas Letter to my readers and to myself.

As another year comes to an end, I am reminded to look back at how far I've come in the past twelve months.  This time last year I was getting ready to graduate college and spread my wings into the post-education world for good.  I was juggling several different ideas like working on a ski lift in Taos, applying for a PR job in Fayetteville or moving to Altus again to continue waitressing.  While the vastness of the opportunities was exciting, it was also somewhat overwhelming.  In the meantime I graduated and moved back home to figure it out, only to find myself still jobless in January.  A good friend of the family was the new president for the Chamber of Commerce in my hometown.  She asked me three different times to take the job of Executive Director.  On the final time, when I realized I needed to work and not live with my parents forever, I said yes.  Parts of me were scared to death.  I was afraid I was giving away my freedom, and that I would live in this town forever.  Other parts of me were excited, but afraid I wouldn't be trained and qualified enough for the position.

Despite the fear and doubts I can honestly look back and say I'm glad I took the job.  No it wasn't what I had planned for myself at this stage in my life, but my life has been--if anything--more exciting because of it.

I have learned so much in all areas of my life.  I have worked with lots of different types of people and committees.  I have organized several large events, and even created a new one.  I've become more organized and learned the appreciation of files and folders.  I have enjoyed the consistency of routine and learned to make the most of my downtime.

Math has forever been my enemy, yet I have day by day found myself handling large amounts of money, depositing them and keeping books on a dozen different accounts.  Who would have ever thought I'd be capable of such?  I have actually became quite comfortable with numbers this year.  Although writing will always be my true love.  Having a weekly column for the paper has been fun and interesting, and though I am writing emails, newsletters, and press releases all day long at work, the activities haven't taken away from my writing passion at home.  In fact, I have grown a lot as a writer this year.  I am working on two lengthier stories now (which is a first), one is even a fiction (another first.)  I have also been documenting a lot more of my life story, and somewhat kept up with my blog.

I started the year with goals to grow as a painter too.  That has happened as well.  I was involved in an Art Walk in Norman in January, followed by an Art/Craft show in Choctaw in March, and I participated as an artist in Arts 'N Action in September in Frederick.  I also spent a week in Eureka Springs over the July 4th holiday taking a painting class with Barbara Robinson, which was extremely helpful and inspiring.  I've sold prints and paintings to many people, some even through Etsy.  Though Etsy was fun for a while, I have laid off of it momentarily, seeing the expenses outweigh the benefits.  Perhaps after some establishment I will bring it back.

On the travel side I spent a weekend in March in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I went skiing with a group of friends and enjoyed some delicious Jamaican and Brazilian food while down there.  The following weekend I spent in Lubbock, Texas where I finally got to see one of my favorite artist's studio (Baron Batch.)  I went with Jessica Carr and my mom and we got to see Mom's old friends and tour the Texas Tech stadium as well.

In May Amber and I went to Edmond and had a blast.  And in June I went with my mom and Aunt Denice and Uncle Tommy to Indianapolis for my cousin Maggie's wedding.  July was my first travel experience alone.  I spent 5 days in Eureka Springs by myself and had an absolute blast.  In August Amber and I went to Norman/Midwest City for her birthday and had oh so much fun.  In September I went to Tulsa for an Air Force ball with my friend Carlos.  That was a great experience. I got to wear an old prom dress!  In October I went to Norman and then Jodi and Jacob and I visited Grant in Stillwater. In November, I returned to Eureka with Miranda and had just as much fun, if not more!  Later in November I took my second trip alone and got to visit the wonderful Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon, Texas.  I stayed at a historic Bed and Breakfast and got an amazing massage by a local therapist.

At another point this summer our family took a mini-vacation to Bricktown, OKC and had a lot of fun.  Grant and I kayaked on the river.  We all dined at Kevin Durant's restaurant and took the river boat cruise which has changed drastically since we took it in the 90s right before the big renovations.

Other fun experiences included:

  • Experiencing a Lavender farm in Apache for a tourism meeting
  • Goose Knocking at Hackberry Flat Day
  • Shooting a WWII style gun at Open Hangar Day
  • Cadillacin' on Rock 'N Rumble weekend in Altus
  • Learning to play the guitar
  • Dressing up at Stevie Nicks for an Arts Council Event
  • Great concerts: Casey Donahue, Kings of Leon, Slipknot and Fleetwood Mac!
  • Jammed out with Altus friends + my parents and Uncle Ray, Aunt Cheryl, Grant and Hunter at Mayor's Blues Ball at Medicine Park
  • I took a Mosaic class with Jenny Perry in Frederick
  • I played more golf this Spring/Summer than I have since college golf
  • Organized and Celebrated my 5 year High School Reunion
  • Got to see a tribute to Elvis Presley and others, though Elvis was my favorite
  • Dressed up as Ginger Spice with a group of other Spice Girls for Halloween
  • Went to two OU games and a half (tailgated but didn't stay for the game.)
  • Consistently joined a Yoga class in town
  • Completed a Spring Boot Camp program with Downtown Fitness
  • Successfully planted and harvested my first garden!

Not so fortunate, but big events include:
  • Breaking my nose in a skateboarding accident
  • Hitting a Deer with my car
  • Running over a Tire with my Car
  • Got my own car insurance (consequence of the former of course)
Regarding others in my life:
  • I got to watch my mother perform in a play
  • One of my best friends studied abroad in Spain
  • Another good friend came home safely from Afghanistan
  • I made a friend from Hawaii and learned a lot
  • Out of my two best friends from childhood, one had a baby and one got engaged
  • We moved Grandma and Grandpa to Assisted Living
  • Moved my brother to OSU!

All this and I still got to work at Tom's a few weekends here and there, and of course there were many, many weekends spent in Altus with those beloved friends as well!  I also got to experience a weekend of catering with Amber and Julie Oxford (turns out I hate it and it was nothing like waitressing.)  I also joined the local Rotary Club and the Arts and Humanities Council, both of which have been absolutely amazing!

Overall, I would say this has been one of my most fantastic years.  I've learned and grown a lot spiritually, physically and professionally.  I am so thankful for this year of my life and I am praying next year is just as amazing.  Thanks to all of the wonderful people who have helped make this year wonderful!

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