Freewrite 3: Insecure, Further Perils of Online Dating, White-Splaining, and How I Complain Too Much.

Lots of people told me I would love the show Insecure on HBO. I watched it. I didn't love it, I really didn't even like it. I just resonated with parts of it. There's a character who is using dating apps, and her struggles are all too real. Men who just one want thing. Men who don't know what they want. Becoming the crazy girl I swore I'd never become...ugh all too real. She called it a numbers game. "You have to f*ck a lot of frogs to find your prince" she said. It's a bit crude for my taste, but it's kind of true. I have essentially started viewing men on dating apps as experiences on my path to true relational fulfillment. That's kind of a bleak thing to coprehend. I also say "this is just practice" or "this is just for the book" - which at first was utter bullshit. I wanted to find someone. I still do. But it's so crystal clear that I will not do that by swiping on some person I do not even slightly know. So now, it's true. When I'm bored, I swipe, I get a date, I learn something about myself (usually) and then I'm back to the drawing board. 

It's not a sustainable system, I know. But it's reality. Hopefully one day it won't be. Ok, Lauren. Let's talk about something other than your failures in the dating world...

I also resonated with the main character's struggle to be taking seriously in her thoughts and beliefs about black people and culture - even though she's somewhat "white-washed" and "not from the hood" (or at least that is how she is portrayed). I went to see a play the other night with some friends and it was focused around a black man's experience with the police. It was heart-wrenching, and frankly was a little much for me to process, but one thing that was profoundly clear, is that there are white people in my world that think they can fully empathize and articulate what it's like to be black or non-white. Like, I have a friend (for the sake of this conversation, it's important to note that she's white) who has two black sons. In the post-show discussion, she shared that she has to educate her sons about certain things like police brutality and she has to be extra careful with them. At night, they can't be outside (I mean...because they are kids) and especially not playing with any toys that resemble guns because...well...the police can't really tell the difference and they are black and that's just a bad combination. My parents had similar conversations with my brothers, I'm sure. 

Another lady, who frankly had been shooting off her mouth in such an unbelievably oblivious way the whole night, said "I have to do that for my (white) grandchildren too!" and then I just couldn't. 

REALLY LADY? You have to educate your white grandchildren about a system that is fundamentally prejudiced against them? NO CHANCE. That's white privilege in full-force, not understanding or accepting that some things are just different for you because of the color of your skin. Ugh. Infuriating. That was not a very good dissection of this anecdote, and frankly I am pretty terrible still at expressing all my thoughts about race and such. But this woman pushed me over the edge. She doesn't get it. She never will. And lots of well-meaning white people still look at me and talk to me like they get my experience in some sort of "higher" or "better" way than I do. One thing I am thankful for is that the friend with the two black sons never talks to me like she knows better. Because she knows she doesn't. I know she raises her kids like that too. It's refreshing. But it's rare. Like "man-splaining" is a thing - I kind of think "white-splaning" is also a thing. Maybe I'll unpack that more later.

I've realized as I do these freewrites that it's just lots of complaining. I want to get better about that. It's what is currently circling around in my head though - the tensions. I need to get serious about mindfulness and positive thinking, I think. Maybe then what comes out will be more profound or rich. I might also try this in a public place, so I can pick up on some of the surrounding activities happening. Pontificate about other people or something like that. Get out of my own head as a writer, for once.

There's the timer.

-L

 

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My friend Paul is a terrific writer, and does a "Friday Freewriting" exercise that I decided to steal. I will try to do it once a week. Set the timer for 15 minutes and write. Who knows what will come out. Then, I'll edit for mistakes and post. Easy. 

Freewrite 2: New Year, No Goals.

I am a person who says she thrives in the "new." I like to think that I am inclined to the natural resets of my universe - a birthday, the new year, the start of fall. I often set goals or choose words and make choices about the way I am going to spend my time and energy because I think that if I plan enough, I can get it done. 

I spent a moment looking back at 2016's goals and I just had to sit with the fact that it wasn't a really pretty picture. 

Sometimes I keep my goals. I worked hard to transition jobs last year. I did a few more music related things I was proud of. I traveled to a few new places. I saw lots and lots of shows and concerts. I was authentic in a new church community and in my writing. Lots of good stuff. Not all of them were goals I had personally set for myself at the start of the year - but I did something that improved something. So there ya go. 

But I noticed, with goals that are more important to me and frankly, for my well-being, I had a far worse track record. I still have not applied for PhD programs. I still have not got my finances under control. I weigh about the same and am in worse health than before. I am behind on the book. I still say "yes" to far too many things. I can't remember the last time I cracked open the Bible unless it was for a Small Group related activity or during a church service. There are more failures, but it doesn't matter at this point. All those goals at the start of the year. All that planning. A failure.

Needless to say, when I looked at making "resolutions" or "setting goals" this year - I was more cynical of myself. And with good reason - I am bad at keeping promises to myself. Another contradiction I suppose because I can cross things off the work task-list like no one's business, but when it comes to my own development or passions - I just can't make it work. Why do I consider myself such a goal-oriented person? What proof backs that up in my life? I've always been such a "go-getter" but maybe I'm caving under the pressure of living up to that title. 

So.

I didn't set any goals this year. Well, that's a lie. I said I'd finish my book. And I have to do that, because dating apps are only going to be relevant for another few years, and I need to get in on that market while it's hot. But that's the only one, and that was a goal before the New Year, so I am not really counting it.

Will I attempt to add value to the world and be a good person and be smarter in my decisions about all the things I should be...sure. It's more like - I have no limits, but I also have no requirements. No goals with measurable success.. No accountability partners or progress reports or seasonal check-ins. If I haven't had much success for the last 20 something years on that front, perhaps it's time to give up on it for a while. I think that maybe getting out of my planning brain and just living my life might be the thing I need to actually make changes. 

Here's to a resolution/goal/intention free year. 

LF

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My friend Paul is a terrific writer, and does a "Friday Freewriting" exercise that I decided to steal. I will try to do it once a week. Set the timer for 15 minutes and write. Who knows what will come out. Then, I'll edit for mistakes and post. Easy. 

Freewrite 1: Lauren the contradiction

I am sitting here alone in a cozy home wrapped in a furry robe my dad got me for Christmas. I am an extrovert, so being alone is not my favorite thing. I used to to think it was because I got my energy from people so it's debilitating to be by myself for long periods of time. 

But I've spent lots of time alone, more than usual I'd say over the past few months, and I am starting to realize that it's not the energy that I am lacking. It's the distraction. I'm a question-asker. I can sit at a table with someone and talk about them for the entire time. Now, of course this isn't a bad thing in general. I wouldn't brag about my listening skills, so don't think I am saying I never talk about myself. We all know that's not true. But I do think that if I'm honest, I often use other people's lives and problems and stories as a way to avoid my own. 

It's hard because I want to be a person who is emotionally stable and mature. I want to be the person that I project - someone who has it together and can handle a lot, a lot. 

I am those things often. 

But sometimes, and especially in the last few months, I have not been that person. 

Someone once told me you are 10 different people in your 20s. I think they meant it to be comforting or encouraging or exhilarating. 

That's positively horrifying to me. 

How exhausting - to change 10 times (10 is an arbitrary number, I know. I think I'm well on my way though...). I feel the fatigue of it, though. 

I dive wholeheartedly into things. Which is once again, a good thing in general. But it also enables me to leave other, less "interesting," things by the wayside in pursuit of something "better." But I'm learning I can't trust my own instincts all the time. They want to cash in on those 10 different lifestyles. They want me to put my heart into something because that is just what I do. But when you put your heart into something, it takes a piece of it. Whether it's successful or not, you've invested. That is sometimes a great thing - but for me - it's been a detrimental thing. I feel like I have little heart left to put into something. 

Shit. 

That's scary. 

How do you get heart back? How do you get sense of clarity and purpose back? How do you claim an identity for yourself when you've spread yourself so thin that you really don't have a true concept of yourself? These are the big, annoying questions I think people hate when millennials ask - they are like "Ok, person who has been handed so much in life, stop pondering everything and just contribute to society. Not everything has to be so hard and you don't have to dissect every part of life looking for something that isn't there." These are those questions. Eye-roll. I should just read one of the countless books written to help me find my way and call it a day. Oh wait, I have. Ha. 

So I'm asking them. I'm cashing in my millennial, confused, I sort of don't know what the hell I am doing card. 

Another compliment someone gave me is also something that haunts me. He asked me "what does it feel like to be good at lots of things?" Which is a very, very nice thing to say. Don't read into this and think I am bragging. 

He's right though, I am good at lots of stuff. I am a natural learner, and frankly, just a good faker. So even if I'm not GREAT at something, I can sure pretend I am. This is also a good thing, in general. But it goes back to my problem. There's so many things I think I could pursue with my whole-heart. How come I've never done music? Or quit everything to really dedicate time to writing? Or gone back to school to get my PhD and teach? Or become a mom? Or become a true pastor? Or become an Executive at a company? Like, why are none of those things my current reality? Why didn't I dive into them with my whole heart for a long period of time? 

I am a contradiction. I am half-in/half-out with nearly everything in life. But I also put my whole heart into things in such a way that leaves me exhausted and restless for energy. 

This is why being alone is a scary thing for me. I am left alone in this wormhole with my thoughts. Yikes. 

LF

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My friend Paul is a terrific writer, and does a "Friday Freewriting" exercise that I decided to steal. I will try to do it once a week. Set the timer for 15 minutes and write. Who knows what will come out. Then, I'll edit for mistakes and post. Easy. 

 

The One Where Lauren Is Sick.

So, I've been vaguely mentioning how I have been having some health issues this month...and I mean, we all know I'm not a vague person at all.

Straight to the point here - I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes earlier this week. I've known it could happen for a while now, and to be honest, I didn't do much to prevent it. I felt like "surely this won't happen to me" and I figured I was pretty invincible against it. Turns out, it did happen. Also, spoiler alert: not invincible. 

 Real talk: 

I struggled with wanting to share anything about it because if I'm honest, I'm embarrassed. I'm here because of health choices I made in my life. I am genetically predisposed to it, yes. But I also could have been a healthier person and prevented it from getting to this point. And I didn't. There's already always voices that play in my head about my body as someone who is overweight, but now I feel like I have the disease that seals the deal. I don't feel like a victim, I feel like the attacker of my own body.

The dialogue that has been playing in my head goes like this:

Friend- "Oh you are sick?! I'm so sorry! What's wrong?"

Lauren - "I have type 2 diabetes."

Friend - "Ohhhhh...so like, not really sick. Just fat and unhealthy."

I struggled with wanting to share because I hate being the "sick" person. While this is manageable for the most part, there's some side effects and correlating issues I may deal with over time. I also had just  gotten to the point where I was pretty much using oils/natural methods to heal everything (that hippie lyfffeeeee). Now I'll be taking medication daily for the foreseeable future. And these pills are a doozy. Thank God there's no shots for the time being. 

Real talk: 

I struggled with wanting to share because while I know I need to make lots of health/life changes you know, to like stay alive and such,  I also don't want people being critical about what I eat and how much/how little I'm exercising all the time. That's selfish and stupid and terrible, and I should be truly grateful for the people in my life who would push me to make better choices. I know this. It's just Lauren wanting to be able to do/eat whatever she wants, free of judgement. But then I remember that is kiiiiiind of how I got here. So now I start the process of calculating every single thing I eat. Making sure it's not going to push me to a place my body can't handle. I know I'll eventually get over this, but right now when I look at food - there's ZERO joy. All fear. What I used to love so much is now the enemy. I hate that. Food! How could you betray me like this?

So much drama. I know. It's a lot to take in and process, and while normally I love opening up about stuff I'm learning and going through in life with the general internet, I literally wanted to do nothing but hide in a cave by myself all week and share with no people what was going on. With a whole pizza and pint of ice cream to myself (gotta inject some humor in here guys...). But that pesky little voice called authenticity called me out and said: "Lauren if you're going to share the details of your dating life and spiritual life and all other forms of life on the reg, you can't hide something that is now your new norm. Tell the truth." So here we are. I'm telling you all about my dirty little secret.

Up-side. Diabetes is manageable, and in some cases reversible! A friend told me to think of it as a "side-effect" rather than a disease. I can control how I feel and how my body functions by making good choices. Great! Easy, right? Well, yes and no. For those of you who are naturally healthy and eat well ("oh I don't ever eat fast food" a statement to which I promptly EYE ROLL and then shove my Taco Bell in my mouth) and run like 3 miles a day and love it all...I salute you. I also say that isn't me at all. This is all so new to me. I mean, I guess I always had the intention of "losing weight" and "getting healthy" at some point because I wanted to be a smaller human. Now, I have to make those changes because my life depends on it. It sounds so dramatic when I say it like that, but it's kind of true. Heart disease, liver disease, strokes, nerve damage...the list of things I am now so much more prone to is extensive. I can't get to those places. I need to reverse this and stay alive for a really long time.

So now I begin the part b of this life. The time after my diagnosis. The time where I change lots of stuff in my life. 

I didn't post this for pity or really for any other reason than I couldn't keep it to myself much longer. There is something so isolating in health issues, and while I know I'll be dealing with this on my own for a bit...I also know that I have people who love and care about me that would want to know where I'm at.

So there we go.  

I'm here. Lauren. 27. Type 2 diabetic. And that's that.

Gosh, all that emotional honesty was exhausting. I need a snack.

-L

Book Report: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

This was a book I had been wanting to read for quite some time, but just never got around to it. So yes, this book report isn't very timely, but lots of folks I know have also been "meaning to pick this one up!" and haven't...so I thought it was worth a quick review.  

What I liked:

There's nothing that I dislike more than when books gives you vague and unhelpful solutions to the problem it's trying to solve. Marie Kondo gives you step by step instructions to achieve results. 

I kid you not, it took me 2 hours to read. I underlined a lot and wrote down some key points - but for the most part, skimming was fine. I had read lots of reviews saying that because it wasn't written initially in English, it makes for a choppy read...but I didn't experience that. It was just very plain and simple. Of course the real time is spent actually purging and going through stuff, but the actual read is quick and easy. 

Here are some takeaways (consider this your SparkNotes)

1. You have to change your way of thinking before you change your habits. So, just willing yourself to be a better "tidy-er" is not a thing. You have to mentally prepare yourself before you start. Good wisdom for this, also, life. 

2. We should be choosing what we want to keep rather then what we want to get rid of (41). When I first heard about the main premise of holding each item and seeing if it "sparked joy" I'll admit - major eye-rolls. BUT I will say, that when you're looking at stuff with the eyes of being able to keep it because it's wonderful rather than throw away because it's less wonderful the whole purging experience is more pleasant. I was surprised at how few (well, I mean, for me. Let's not get carried away here...I still have a full closet!) things I wanted to really keep. 

3. If you want to be a person who treasures what they have, you need to get rid of the things that have outlived their purpose (paraphrase, pg 61). Damn. So here's the thing. I should have probably prefaced with this. I am a hoarder with certain things. I have LITERALLY 4 WEEKLY PLANNERS THAT I DO NOT EVEN USE. I bought them because they are cute (ok, I bought 3 and 1 was a gift), and I used to be a planner person in school so of course I needed them! But, I've realized that I rarely turn to paper because I have very few assignments that I need to keep track of. I have sadly become someone who uses the calendar on my phone to organize my life. Which is cool. Which means I need to freaking get rid of the planners. Same rule applies to everything else. Shirts (how many grey tees does Lauren need?). Shoes (this is a touchy subject because...SHOES). Etc. 

4. Ok, this one WRECKED me. She mentions that little thing we do of saving every piece of note paper from every conference or seminar or church service or seminary class (ok, I added those two), which strikes right at the heart. I have a file drawer of papers that I have not looked at IN YEARS but for some reason I feel compelled to keep. I kind of ignored her tips when I read through on this one, but as I am writing this, I feel convicted. I need to part with them. She gives a great reason - stating that when we decide to keep this useless (ouch) material, most of the time we don't actually put the learnings into practice. We trick ourselves into thinking that we will put them into practice after we've given the materials another read-through...and then we never do. Pesky. So those gotta go. 

5. I loved this idea: that the things we like don't really change over time. So, putting the house in order is a way to find out what those things are (175). Brilliant. 

6. Tidying is an act of restoring balance in people and possessions (190). I love this. There is nothing better than a clean house. A clean room. Oh, the joy of balance. 

What I didn't like:

I live in a large home with 4 other girls, so while the tips helped me organize my own room and office (at work), I can't really put the method into practice with the rest of my home. When you combine the stuffs of 5 20-something girls...it's going to get a little crazy. So, this isn't much of a critique on the book as much as it was a learning for me. Unless you're the sole inhabitant of your house (what a dream!) or the primary decision maker on organization in your house - you'll have to be OK with only practicing in spaces that are yours. 

I pretty much ignored the section on purging books. I know, bad Lauren. But here's the thing, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to have an in-home library, and I know if I purge books, I'll regret it later. I purge every once and awhile with books I didn't like or know I will 100% never read or pass to a friend...but I can't bring myself to part with many others. I keep them contained to their bookshelves (well, I try. Let's be gracious on that one.), and they aren't piled up everywhere creating a mess. But - if you're a better person than me and don't feel like parting with a good book is like giving away a child, then I'm sure you'd be into this section. 

Who is this book for?

If you are overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF you have in your home/office/life in general...this is a good read for you. It will convict you (which is always good motivation, at least for me) and inspire you to make a change. 

If you feel like you are pretty organized overall, but you have a few spaces that you think could use some tidying up - i.e. office, spare room, kitchen, etc., then this is a good kick in the pants to get those rooms in tip-top shape. 

I would argue that most people (unless you are insanely minimalistic and have nothing in your house) would benefit from reading this little book. 

You can pick up a copy on Amazon. Or, if you're a friend, shoot me a text and I'll lend you my copy! 

LR //