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Forget doctors and lawyers. Marry a fortune-teller.

 

 

I’m a Web producer by day and a fortune-teller by night. I haven’t acquired the appropriate garb for the latter career, but even sans scarfs and patchwork skirt, I can spin a tale worthy of shelf space at Barnes & Noble. My speciality is foreseeing everything that could possibly go wrong in my life 5 minutes, 10 days or 30 years from now. I’m skilled at shifting through the sunshine and spotting the quicksand.

It’s not an especially lucrative business. In fact, it’s downright draining. After years of setting my sites on fears, I was forced to declare myself emotionally bankrupt. But I was still unprepared to take a hammer to my crystal ball. There’s something seductive about a sense of having control over your future — even if all you can seem to see are potholes.

But thanks to a loving Master Over Fate who will always have more control over my future than I do (thank Heaven — literally), I met the career counselor who is helping me use my talent for good. (He also happens to be the love of my life. Kind of handy, huh?)

Ironically, this humble hunk (I’m not exaggerating, see photo above) moonlights as a fortune-teller too. But he’s in the business of seeing a tomorrow framed by faith. His perception isn’t impeded by naivety, and his glasses are of the crystal-clear variety — not the rose-colored kind. Yes, he sees the potholes, too, but he plants flowers along the edges or focuses on how he can help life’s other travelers hop across them. As my career counselor, he’s teaching me to do the same.

Last week, we held class at 10:30 p.m. on the asphalt outside his house. Wind blew my  long blond bangs into the salty spots on my cheeks — fresh from a relapse into fear-based fortune telling. It was difficult to see through lashes laced with lumps of soggy mascara, but he put his hands firmly on my shoulders and requested that I look him in the eye. I sank into those caramel circles as he told the most beautiful fortune a girl could ever ask for:

I’m going to love you forever, he said.

There’s nothing you can do to change that. 

No matter how deep and dark a hole you find yourself in, I will be there to pull you out. 

I’ll spend every day taking care of you. We’re going to be OK. 

He’s an ace of a fortune teller, that one. Quite frankly, I think I’m ready to hang up my gold hoops and peasant blouse now. It doesn’t matter what else my crystal ball brings into focus. The good, the bad and the ugly will all surface at one point or another during the rest of our eternity together, but none of that can change how much I am loved. And, honestly, isn’t that what all our other fears are based on? The fear of losing someone’s love, or missing out on a chance to fall in love or never being able to share the love you long to give.

I’m not saying the fear dissipates when you find your true love. He won’t be a magician, after all. What I am saying is that along with olive skin, blue eyes, athletic ability and whatever else you dream of him having, don’t forget to add fortune-telling abilities to the list. Make sure he has an eye for everyday goodness. Make sure he reminds you not only of the love he is developing for you but also of the love God has always had for you.

Look for the boy who makes this his life’s theme song.

(Psst- I’m planning to post our engagement story shortly, along with a few other gems. But I wanted to get this out there right now because I want you singles to know something: The good boys exist. They really do. Don’t you dare settle for anything less. Don’t you dare go talking yourself into liking someone who won’t anchor you in his love and promise forever. You deserve nothing less.)

Consider 2012 a success if …

Forget the Gold’s Gym membership dangling between your fro-yo frequent-buyer card and keys to your safe stuffed with Twinkies.

Ignore the pile of unopened mail and undone to-do lists perched precariously on your kitchen counter.

Don’t fret over the Rosetta Stone software intended to teach you French that is now serving as a coffee table coaster.

Toss those moldy spears of asparagus and soggy scraps of spinach. (Go buy yourself a V8 Splash. Same thing, right?)

Don’t stress about the fact that you never had time to get your stress levels in check.

It’s tempting to dwell on all you didn’t do this year, don’t you think? It’s easy to flip through plump planner pages and get stuck in a sticky emptiness. It’s frustrating to think about the boxes that went unchecked and the 25 forgotten items in your RE.minder app.

But don’t.

I started my morning worrying about what I wished had happened in 2012, but then I read a brilliant blog post from Lisa-Jo Baker. The premise of her perfect post is that if you felt loved this year, you can declare 2012 a success — and I completely agree.

Remember how someone touched your elbow and asked if you were OK?

Remember how Grandpa planted a kiss on your forehead and said he was praying for you?

Remember the construction paper Valentine from your little brother?

Remember the protective embrace of a best friend after that breakup?

Remember the tiny moments that were actually monumental miracles sent to show you just how much God loves you?

To Lisa-Jo’s point, I would add that you can also consider this year a success if you, having recognized the hand of a higher power in your life, extended love to those around you.

Did you throw your fear of abandonment back in the river and let it float by alongside inadequacy, so you could love with abandon?

Did you find a way to let someone know you cared, that his or her happiness meant more to you than your own? (If you’re a mother, shout “YES!”)

If you saw and shared love this year, celebrate. Close out the day with peace, knowing that you experienced the most exhilarating adventure, checked off the most important to-do and made an indelible mark.

How to measure a day

Like a pile of lima beans looming between a child and dessert, this week feels bottomless.

I am staring at the pile of green, grainy blobs and choking them down. The first one, labeled “Monday,” expanded exponentially in my mouth, making chewing a 24-hour chore. The “Tuesday” bean is stuck in my throat, and the contents of two waterbottles have failed to dislodge it.

If the next four days are lima beans, the fifth is my apple pie. Sunday holds the promise of something sweet, but the anticipation-induced anxiety is unbearable.

You know that cheesy movie scenes where the camera zooms in on the second-hand of the clock, and it ticks at an excruciatingly slow pace? Yeah, that doesn’t seem far-fetched to me anymore.

As I’ve tried to fill my calendar with anything that will distract me from the 432,000 ticks that separate me from Sunday, I’ve come across an interesting question: How do I measure a day?

At the moment, I’m trying to stuff my schedule full of daily-grind fluff. Is there a meeting I can attend? I don’t know anything about B2B marketing, but I’ll sit in. I just bought a gallon of milk yesterday, but what if a find a dozen kittens in a cardboard box and need to nurse them back to health. I’ll make a trip to the market tonight. I just love cleaning baseboards. The monotony is exhilarating, no?  I’ll put that on my schedule for 6:03 p.m.

As I’ve attempted to make time pass more quickly by injecting busyness for busyness sake, I’ve realized my metrics for measuring a day need a makeover.

I’m given 24 hours, and I can choose how to spend and measure those hours. I can evaluate the successfulness of a day based on how many to-do items I checked off or how many emails I responded to — or how many dust bunnies I annihilated. But do those metrics reflect what really matters to me?

Am I filling my day and measuring my day based on what I value most?

I value creativity. Am I making time in my day to write or dance?

I value my family. Am I calling my sister on a regular basis or sending a text to my brother?

I value my faith. Am I taking time to pray?

I value my friends. Am I looking for ways to serve them?

Meetings, emails and chores are necessary, but they are a depressing way to measure a day. Their impact is fleeting.

One Zumba class. One lunch date with a friend. One phone call to my mother. One prayer. One laugh.

These are the best ways to measure a day.

Those are the metrics that turn even lima bean days into apple pie.

Dear 16-year-old, 20-year-old, 40-year-old you

I came across a blog the other day, Chatting at the Sky, where a woman had posted a letter to her 16-year-old self, and she invited readers to share their own letters.

As I thought about what my life was like 9 years ago, I remembered a phrase that occasionally took my self-conscious teenage mind hostage: I’m not OK.

I never uttered these words aloud. They just snuck in sometimes, set up camp and made it hard to soak up the sunshine.

That’s not to say that I was perpetually unhappy or unsatisfied with life. I knew I was lucky to have a wonderful family and unique opportunities. But, when I neglected to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, my I’m-not-OK feelings spread like weeds:

I’m not talented.

I’m not comfortable in my own skin.

I’m not meeting the expectations people have of me.

I’m not enough.

Now, looking back, I feel sad for having wasted so much time attending my own pity parties. Yes, moving across the globe and leaving behind friends and all things American was difficult. But my teen years in Tokyo were filled with educational opportunities, loyal friends and faith-building experiences. I couldn’t see them then, but miracles were happening, and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

So, if I were to run into that bleached-blonde version of me on the subway in Shinjuku (I’d be easy to spot amid the sea of black hair), I would give her a hug and declare, “You are OK!”

You are strong.

You are kind.

You are doing your best.

You are safe.

You are enough.

I recently had an empty night when I needed to give myself that pep talk again. I had curled up on the couch to watch “Tangled” and have a good cry because my I’m-not-OK monster was poking his head around the corner. I began to wonder if I’ve chosen the right career, if I have any talents, if someone will love me even though I can’t cook — if, in this moment, I am enough.

I wish I could slay that monster for good, but I think regardless of age and accomplishments, we will all have moments when we wonder.

So, to the 16-year-old you and me who wished she was a cheerleader or longed for a boyfriend, I say, “You are OK.”

To the 20-year-old you and me who prays for marriage, or children or skinnier thighs, I say, “You are OK.”

To the 40-year-old you and me who has dishes piled in the sink, young children screaming and teenagers shouting, I say, “You are OK.”

When you’re having a moment, remember the advice from Jeffrey R. Holland at the top of this post.

“Don’t you give up.”

You are OK.