15 Things That Happened in 2015

Keeping in what I suppose has now become tradition, I’ll sum up my year in things that happened, a few lessons learned, some seriousness and a bit of sass.

  1. I fell in love. With an optimistic athletic nerd who loves books as much as I do, who cherishes me, and knows when to ignore my rants (and when to take them seriously). He’s the Andy to my April, the Ben to my Leslie.6b65b9cb73063a5330ae675fbe859fdegiphy.gif
  2. I got engaged. It really isn’t said enough that being proposed to is a freaking minefield. You have no idea what is happening and you’re just trying not to pass out. But, you know you’re happy.
  3. I learned to appreciate (even more) the example of healthy relationships. After we got engaged I was suddenly very aware of the influence toxic relationships have. Like they are trying to dump the negative of their relationship on to yours for the sake of misery loving company. Principle is the same whether single or in a relationship: surround yourself with people you admire.
  4. I quit a job I loved. One of the lessons I learned last year was, “It isn’t easy to decide ‘a good thing’ still isn’t enough, moving on to bigger and better things takes bravery but is so worth it.” Which is exactly how I felt about moving forward.
  5. I briefly lived in a closet. After taking a step of faith and leaving my job without anything lined up, I moved into my roommate’s closet, which we refer to as a “New York apartment,” in order to save money as a precaution.
  6. I saw more of America. Attempting to see all 50 states by the time I am 30, and this year I crossed off Montana, Hawaii, and Colorado.Image-1.jpg
  7. I nearly died in the process of planning a wedding. I was doing the majority of my wedding planning while I had a job working the overnight shift of a group home for pregnant teenage girls. Never, never try to plan a wedding while working the graveyard shift of an emotionally taxing job.
  8. I moved out of the closet. After getting set up in my new job, and being able to financially handle it, I moved into the apartment we’d both live in after getting married.
  9. I got married. After having a physical breakdown the night before my wedding that left me puking until 4am, I managed to look crazy hot, dance a lot, and feel so incredibly loved on so many levels. sidneymorgan-44.jpg
  10. I learned a lot about self preservation. My previously mentioned overnight job at the group home took a lot out of me. The shift alone is one that can mess with your psyche, throw in a little added trauma from the crazy nights, and the toll adds up quite high.
  11. I quit a job that was really hard but that I loved nonetheless. See explanation to number 10. I loved so much about the role, but as a whole it didn’t fit positively with my life or my new marriage.
  12. I struggled with comparison. I won’t even joke that it was for the first time in my life, but it was probably one of the more negative periods of having the comparison disease.
  13. I accepted a new job. Third in 2015. Yikes. The professional journey 2015 took me on was one I did not desire. I questioned a lot about myself, my goals, my skills. Ultimately though, I have found faith in the timing of each transition that occurred. And I thoroughly look forward to staying put professionally this next year.
  14. I had the best Christmas. Last year, my now-husband and I were barely dating and we were both visiting our families at Christmas. This year we stayed home in LA, watched Christmas movies, visited with other friends who stayed in the city, and ate nearly a literal ton of food. It was full of snuggles and Christmas cheer, and I loved every minute of it.
  15. I continue to learn to trust my story. To trust that the direction my life is going is the right one for me. The hiccups, twists, freak outs, and list writing is all part of the journey. All a part of the forward motion.

Happy New Year, loves!

Feel the feelings.

Life has changed drastically and rapidly for me. In the last few months, in the last six month, in the last year.
A year ago I still hadn’t met the guy I’m marrying in a couple months. Six months ago I was very seriously contemplating a move to England. A few months ago I was still working for The Giving Keys.

My new schedule is the overnight shift, which has forced me to become nocturnal. The unfortunate effect of nocturnal living is that my weekend days are spent in my apartment in the dark, generally watching Netflix to pass the time away while you are all sleeping.

But the other night my heart was very heavy. I felt a feeling of mourning that I couldn’t quite place until the next day when I was telling my roommate how I’d been feeling. I realized so much change had happened so quickly that I hadn’t let myself feel everything I might have felt if it had all happened a little slower.

The high of getting engaged and then straight into wedding planning and weeks later, leaving a job that had been a second home and second family to me, and the finality of marriage all seemed to coop up in my head and heart without me noticing the gathering weight of unsorted emotions.

I love being engaged. I can’t wait to be married for the rest of my life, but man I’m gonna miss living with my girls and having our week night plans revolve around catching up on Bachelor in Paradise together.

My new job is hard but what I’ve wanted to do for awhile and when the time was right it was right. But man I miss The Giving Keys and all it taught me and all the beautiful faces I got to see every day. I was so damn lucky to come in at the start and ride some of the company’s first highs with that team.

I know that this marriage isn’t going to hold me back from any dream I’ve had that we now share. Being single was fun and learning what I want for my life was important, but I’m ready to share my life with this one for as long as I have left.

It is necessary to let emotions be felt in times of change.

Bottling them up never works long term.

About being engaged.

For almost a few months now I’ve been meaning to write about being engaged.

You may have noticed it being mentioned in my last post, but I wanted to take the chance in this brief engagement season to talk about what he has brought to my life.

I had it mentioned to me recently that my blog previously railed against couples. Which, was a bummer thing to hear. Obviously, I am aware I was always an outspoken single woman. And being single, of course, there are moments where it is difficult to be around couples. There is at times a real ache of loneliness when single. But it has been my intention that the things I have shared on my blog would empower those of us in our singleness, to follow our dreams and achieve our goals.

Nevertheless, maybe the single woman rants have been hung up, but as seen in my last post I will continue to rant.

Back to the point, I am engaged. And in love, and so very ready to spend the rest of my life with this one fella. Just after dating for six months he asked me to marry him while we were in a bookstore we love and my knees felt simultaneously locked in place and made of gelatin. The ring, thoughtful and perfect. The guy, even more so.

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Now I am doing my best to bravely suffer endure through wedding planning because after the wedding I get to keep him forever.

He’s very much my dream guy, but in an oh so human way. He’s what I want and need, he is who he is and is not something I have built up in my head. We have great communication. We write love letters. We are safe with each other. We have fun. We read to each other. We talk out issues. We are different but not at all opposites. We support each other’s dreams. We’re on each other’s team.

A couple years ago I broke down the type of guy I wanted to be with in a blog. I am marrying that guy. I am not seeking an audience of awwws I am merely hoping that at least one single girl reads this blog post and believes me when I say, not all guys are jokers.

About a month before my guy proposed, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before he did, I was talking with a friend about why certain things happen for some people and not for others. I am young to have found a lifelong partner I want to marry. Why do I get to have it handed to me pretty easily and quickly, when other women wait and wait and try and try to meet that one who they can venture the rest of their life with?

It’s a question I don’t know the answer to and sometimes I struggle with. This engagement is a swift and sweet time, but I find myself intentionally trying not to shout it from the rooftops so to speak. I am happy, but I don’t want to crush anyone with my happiness.

I think I have managed to find a semi-decent balance by remaining myself.

My engagement, and wedding planning are not my life. Are not all I think or talk about. Case and point, my last blog post.

It’s okay to have good moments in life and revel in the goodness of those moments, because–spoiler alert–not every moment in life is absolute bliss. Let’s be able to put ourselves aside when we need to, and let’s be able to celebrate ourselves when we need to.

Romans 12 in the Message Bible sums it up well, “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.”

I am angry, and I wish you would join me in this anger.

It’s nearing five in the morning and I am fighting to stay awake as I work toward transitioning to working the overnight shift for my new job.

Earlier tonight I was talking to my fiancé about a topic I get fired up about,–surprise!–adoption. This thought has been plaguing me for a long time, but the new microscope scrutinizing Planned Parenthood has brought it to the surface of my thoughts in particular this past week. (I am not going into the exact topic surrounding the current controversy with Planned Parenthood, just explaining the recent source of my thoughts.)

I am a feminist who is pro-life. I am for adoption over abortion, in all cases. I am pro adoption. I am all about adoption. I, now along with my future husband, plan to adopt our children and not have biological children. When God first put adoption on my heart I went through a strong phase of having a hard time with all my friends wanting to procreate when there are so many children who need to be adopted and fostered. Every now and then, that “phase” kicks back up.

Right now, and not for the first time, my issue lies with Christians who are strongly outspoken on pro-life but do nothing to help the need. Pro-life has consequences, both positive and negative. The reality, the fact, the TRUTH, is that not every pregnant woman can or should be a mother to that child. The truth is that situations and circumstance do matter. Not every young or slightly older woman is able, for whatever reasons, to rise to the occasion of motherhood. Nor should they have to.

The truth is that sometimes encouraging/forcing motherhood on someone who is not prepared, willing, or in bad life circumstances often leads to negative cycles. Cycles of poverty, neglect, abuse, resentment.

Not every woman who finds out she is pregnant should keep the baby. But it is my opinion and belief that adoption is the better option than aborting that new precious life.

However.

And this is where I get real fired up.

We, myself included, have to step up. We have to step up and be the loving people who adopt and care for these children who are not being aborted.

When I talk to people about how I am only adopting my children I receive one of two reactions every single time. One, shock that I wouldn’t want to experience the miracle of childbirth. Because motherhood is such a precious gift. Motherhood is amazing, I have nothing but respect for motherhood and I can. not. wait. to be a mom. I will be a mom, even if my children don’t come out of me. Or the second, I get praised for wanting to adopt. What a great thing to do, adoption.

Call me hard to please, and I have my moments where I am, but both of these responses frustrate me. As stated, maybe I’m having my children in a different way, but they will still be my children, I will be their mom. I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. Please do not say to me, “Have at least one of your own.” I am adopting my children, that is my decision. Please do not try to convince me that I am losing in some way. Because I am not.

Sure, it’s great I am adopting. But this response upsets me because I do not want adoption to be a rarity.

When I saw the movie Taken I was bothered. Bothered because it used the largest form of slavery (currently happening slavery) as a plot line for an action movie. Instead of shining a light of the depth of the atrocity of human trafficking it tried to make us all feel great about what a father would do to rescue his daughter. But, dads aren’t Liam Neeson with a particular set of skills. A fictional character in an action movie is not ending human trafficking.

When people praise me for planning to adopt my children there is a part of me that cringes. It feels to me like an acknowledgement that I am alone in this. I can’t end the enormous need of adoption and foster care by myself.

No, I do not support abortions. The idea of babies being aborted breaks my heart. But our pro-life preaching has consequences. We are cornering women who are not ready to be a mom. We are adding to the number of children being orphaned or detained into the foster care system, and we are doing nothing to help that number go down. Instead children in the foster care system become statistics and stigmatized to a level that makes us fear them and we do nothing to offer them a better life.

The truth is, I am angry. Really angry. And I wish you would be too. I wish I could make my thoughts and opinions contagious.

This is an issue, an issue we can actually do something about.

So, for the love of God, let’s do something about it.

Saving the world in 7 easy steps, of course.

One thing that is always assured for me in living in downtown Los Angeles is that I will see devastation. I will see real and raw human need on a daily basis.

When people visit me it is the thing they quietly say to me at the end of the day, “Did you see that guy…” or “That one lady earlier who…”

If you’re lucky, you won’t grow numb to it.

If you’re lucky, it will continue to rip at your insides when you see it.

Back in February when I was on my way to see the documentary mentioned in my last post I was texting my friend Rachel (who is a brilliant human, and you should all read/become obsessed with her blog, I know I’m obsessed with it/her) and I was telling her about the subject of the documentary. She thought it sounded mildly interesting but she said, “I’m honestly kind of at the point where I don’t care anymore–there are way bigger things in my mind than people’s opinions on sex.”

It was funny then, and it’s funny now because I’ve actually been chewing on those words for awhile, in regards to all kinds of topics.

In the scheme of humankind, of finding homes for the homeless, of the matter of police brutality, of people being hungry, lonely, hurt, scared… When we step back and care about things bigger than ourselves and our theological arguments, how many more important issues are there for us to set our focus on?

Some of my favorite people around me are the other people who stay up at night thinking about the half naked woman they saw stumbling across a busy street that disappeared before they could try to help her.

Because that matters more.

More than the stupid things we find ourselves complaining and concerning about.

I am from a very small town, and I’ve been living in Los Angeles for a few years now. Like most people who leave their small town for somewhere bigger, it can be difficult to relate well back to the small town life. A lot of people have this misconception that it’s condescending mentality of I’ve lived in this big city, so I know more.

I don’t think it’s that, or at least it isn’t for me, it’s more that my eyes see a lot more. See more than they ever have, more each day. Things I can’t un-see; violence, need, sadness, true joy, real hope, second chances.

Yes, there are so many opinions I used to hold that I don’t anymore.

Yes, so many priorities that have changed.

And I’m okay with that, because I’m still me.

When I’m laying awake and thinking of how we could all rally and save the world in seven easy steps, and then I realize maybe my plan won’t work and I get depressed about it again, I am reminded of the verse in Revelations.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

This isn’t forever, this isn’t eternity yet.

Pain has a final end.

But don’t look away now, don’t stop fighting, don’t stop trying to meet needs.

Give Me Sex Jesus

Yesterday I saw on Twitter that there was a documentary screening in Pasadena for a movie called Give Me Sex Jesus about that insanely popular Evangelical movement True Love Waits which if you grew up in a church particularly in the last 20 years or so, you know all about it. And it has probably scarred you in some way.

I watched the short trailer and promptly got tickets for my boyfriend and I. In our relationship so far he and I have talked a lot about the things youth group told us about sex before marriage, things our parents, pastors, and friends did or did not teach us.

The weird shame feeling that comes with wanting someone.

The insane way a past can feel like you’re on a sinking ship that’s taking you into your future.

My boyfriend and I are sitting in the room before the documentary starts, I look around and I see people and couples of different sexual orientations all coming because their teenage years (and lets be real, their adult years too) were intensely impacted by this purity movement. I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Whether or not this movie is any good, it’s incredible to be in a room of people wanting to reconcile and make sense of this. So many open minds and hearts.”

The documentary shared stories from people who grew up in this era of pledging to wait till marriage. We heard stories from couples who did wait, couples who didn’t; gay, lesbian, and transgender men and women who had to try and find their identity in the midst of heavy un-acceptance and intolerance. Even heard a great deal from the man who began the entire movement, who without intending to, kind of screwed over a generation of youth’s sexual understanding. (Not that he feels responsible for it, anyway.)

There were so many moments in this humorous and very real documentary where someone would say something and I would think, “Yep, I’ve heard that a thousand times from my friends.” and “Mhmm, that’s always how I’ve thought too.”

So very many moments watching it where I could do nothing but shake my head.

A gay man named Chris shared his story in the documentary about growing up in an extremely Evangelical home, his grandparents founded Campus Crusade for Christ college ministry, he talked about when he was young his prayers were less that God would make him straight and more that God wouldn’t let him die while he was gay because it meant he’d go to hell.

I sighed, a heavy sigh. Heart aching.

Even worse though, after the film played there was a short panel, and Chris who shared his story was on the panel, and people asked questions. One guy in the audience asked Chris, in so many words, whether or not he had come to term with his faith while being homosexual. Chris said, “Am I a Christian? No.”

He went on to answer a bit further but as soon as he said no the tears began to pour down my face.

Thankfully it was the final question for the panel and as my boyfriend and I headed to the car I couldn’t hold back the tears.

I’m not asking your opinion on the subject, because I don’t care what it is, that answer… “No.” It tells me and it should tell you what a shit job Christians can do at loving.

Late in my high school years I walked with my dear friend through his journey of accepting that he was gay and through that acceptance he could not figure out how to hold onto his very real faith. A huge part of that was the lack of acceptance and love felt by the people who had helped mold him in his faith.

It was incredible hearing everything that was shared but that end note just shattered my heart.

Again, I am not interested in upsetting or hearing your beliefs on the matter. I’m telling you, something is wrong.

There were so many rough and insightful stories shared in the documentary and as easy and uneasy as it is for a group of 20-30 year olds in Los Angeles to watch it I hope it hits the people in the small town in Michigan where I grew up.

I love Sia’s new video, and I think you should too.

After reading and hearing about the controversy surrounding Sia’s new music video for her song “Elastic Heart” I watched it for myself this morning and have not been able to stop thinking about it all day.

First things first, if you didn’t see the original video for her song “Chandelier” you need to watch that or else you’ll be lost in this post.

Now, this new video featured the same young Sia character, as well as an older male version of Sia, played by Shia Labeouf. Based on this next sentence you can decide if you want to watch the video or not, but if you keep reading I do hope you watch the video. The controversy surrounding the video is that people interpreted it to have pedophilia connotations.

After watching the video I came to one conclusion: People will find what they’re looking for. If you are looking for inappropriate dance movements to be outraged about, you will find it. If you’re looking for inspiration through the depth of dance movements, you will find it.

I found the latter.

I watched the new music video and was nearly in tears. Which, by the way, is the same way I felt about the “Chandelier” video. Maddie Zieglar is an incredible dancer to say the least, but teamed with Shia Labeouf’s acting talent I was in amazement. The emotions, the expressions, the way so much is communicated to those who watch it, it is exactly art.

For those who may not know much about this past year for Shia Labeouf, he has had some heavy times. He struggled with a lot of questions and accusations about himself, his career, his sanity, his faith. And that is keeping it completely vague. Not that vague is necessary when a quick google search can tell you everything I am not. I’m not telling you because I have felt pretty heavy hearted for the man this past year. I don’t know and I never will know what it’s like to live a life in the spotlight, so I am the last person to judge anyone for any action or reaction they may have. As for where Shia stands now, I am not sure. But I know that when I watched this “Elastic Heart” video I saw raw talent, and perhaps raw transparency.

To me, Sia’s videos have tapped into a depth of emotional art that forms a lump in my throat and makes me long for creativity.

If this video makes you feel weird, that’s okay too. Art is different to everyone. And everyone has different perspectives.