The absence of coffee in a person’s life

The first time I ever heard about Lent, I was a first year at CBC.  Everybody was talking about what they were giving up for lent and I had no idea what they were talking about.  I’ve never done a ton of research on the subject as that’s not my style, but I did enough to understand what it is and why people do it.

That first year, I decided to give up Myspace for lent.  Oh man, do you guys remember myspace and the emotional drama of being in a top 8 and then some people had a top 16 and your life goal was to be number one on that top list.  I remember being so upset when someone would take me off their top 8 or when someone would get upset with me for moving them down in the ranks.  Oh man, drama.  Good riddance!

So, I gave up Myspace for Lent, and guess what?  About 2 weeks in I created a facebook account.  Sometimes I decide to give something up for Lent, and almost every time I replace it with something else.  One time I gave up coffee and by the end of Lent I was pounding back green teas like they were water.

The whole purpose of fasting from something is that when you crave whatever you are fasting from, you pray.  Except in my case, whenever I craved something I would just find something else to fill that void that wasn’t Jesus.  And, I am REALLY good at rationalizing my irrational actions to myself and legitimizing void fillers.

My coworker made a comment about how she gives something up that won’t be “Selfish fasting” before Lent began.  She was talking about when people give up Starbucks or junk food, but in giving up those items they are saving money and losing weight.  Their fast ends up being more about how they want to change their physical well being than pointing them towards God.  Giving up Starbucks, yeah that can be difficult, but you can always make coffee at home.  Now, giving up caffeine, there’s a challenge.

I am 100% addicted to caffeine.  I am completely ok with this addiction and have no desire to not be addicted to caffeine.  You could tell me all the negative opinions about it, and I will not listen to any of them because I love coffee.

I love everything about coffee.  I love the smell.  I love the taste.  I love the way it looks in a cute mug.  I love the crema that forms at the top and makes cute little designs as it fizzles out.  I love the warmth it brings to my esophagus on the way down.  I love the way it makes my eyes feel less droopy at 9am.  I love that when I drink it my whole body feels like it can take on the world if for just a few moments.  I love when people walk by me with a cup of coffee and I can smell it as they pass.  And here’s an awkward one, I love when someone just drank coffee and then they talk to me and I smell their coffee breath.  Coincidentally, I also love the smell of skunk.  But the thing I love most about coffee, is the way that it brings me together with people.

I have blogged about my love for coffee and how it is a social event for me.  I have explained how I feel like coffee brings people together and can create a depth in conversation that a glass of water cannot.  And I have detailed that when I get sad, sometimes I drink shots of espresso.

So, this year for Lent I decided to give up coffee.  But, in true Shanna fashion, I sorted out the details of my lent after lent began.  So I originally decided to give up coffee, and then in an attempt to not let myself fill my coffee void with anything else I decided that I was going to give up all beverages except water and juice/smoothies.

Wednesday, March 5th was the first day of Lent.  At about 11am I had to turn out the lights in our office because they were hurting my brain.  By 3 I was sitting in a dark office, with the shades closed, and my computer turned down to the lowest setting.  This was the beginning of my caffeine headache.  However, at 10am and noon and 3pm for my breaks I just closed my eyes and prayed for my youth girls that I would be seeing that night.

The next day, I couldn’t go into work, I stayed home and slept until 4:30 hoping that my headache would go away and praying every time I woke up for a few minutes to toss and turn.  You should know, I get headaches like once a year, and when I do they don’t affect the quality of my life at all.  This is the most intense headache I have ever felt in my life.

By Friday, my head was still a bit sore but I was able to go about doing life again.  It has been 2 and a half weeks now, and I am no longer physically affected by the absence of coffee in my life.  However, because I genuinely love the taste of coffee I still crave it from time to time.  But I don’t miss it enough that it reminds me to pray.  It’s like, “oh hey I want coffee right now. oh right, back to this email I was working on.”

So, technically with Lent, you are allowed to skip on Sundays.  Lent is 40 days, 6 days a week until Easter Sunday.  However, I had not been drinking coffee on Sundays because I didn’t want to feel the pain that would ensue the next day from not having caffeine in my system again.

On St. Paddy’s day (my favorite day of the year, excluding my birthday) I decided to pause on my Lent.  I had an Americano at noon and later that afternoon could be found spinning in my computer chair and talking at a mile a minute.  And then I noticed something that hadn’t happened at all in the 2 weeks prior while I wasn’t drinking coffee.  I was talking to someone and they told me I needed to calm down.

People tell me I need to calm down all the time.  I am known for how fast I talk and sometimes I talk so fast that I can hear my words slurring together into one big word and I can’t even stop myself.  Sometimes I talk so fast that I skip over entire words in a sentence.  And for a majority of my life I have been told that I am too hyper or too excited or too loud or I need to calm down or slow down.  And I’m gonna be honest, although I usually smile and keep on doing whatever I’m doing, it kind of hurts my feelings a bit.

So, when someone said this to me after I had a cup of coffee, I realized that I am legitimately affected by my caffeine intake.  I just never noticed it because I never don’t drink coffee.  And maybe not drinking coffee makes me act more my age than I’m used to.

I always see people who are my age and feel like they are just way more composed and calmer than I am, they always seem so serious and talk about politics.  And although it’s probably good to act that way sometimes, I kind of like that I am still able to be excited by small things and get crazy and embarrass myself from time to time.  And I LOVE that I can laugh at anything.  I love laughing, more than I love coffee if you can believe it.  And my world would be very dreary if I was only allowed to laugh as much as the average late 20′s person.

You may say, “why would you want to drink coffee again if not drinking it makes you a normal person?”  Here’s the thing, I’m not normal.  Also, 90% of the time, people appreciate my ridiculousness and enthusiasm.  But the REAL reason I will continue to drink coffee is because I love it, and more importantly I love who God created me to be and how when I drink coffee I feel closer to him, closer to others, and more confident in who he has made me.

So, I miss coffee, and I could always go for a cup even if it is decaf.  But my missing coffee has stopped making me dependent on Jesus, and I am at a stage where I could go on and be completely unfazed.  So, I am starting to think that maybe rather than practicing Lent and spending 40 consecutive days empathetically fasting from something, it would be more beneficial for my relationship with Jesus to fast from my addiction 1 day at a time, for 40 days, spread out over a year.

In doing this, I will have those horrifying moments of withdrawl where I am physically unable to do anything other than pray, but every time I do it I will actually feel its absence.

Also, I am a verbal processor.  It is literally impossible for me to go 40 days without telling someone what I am doing.  In keeping my fast to random days over the year I can actually fast correctly.  I will be able to fast from something and the chances of me actually discussing it with someone are much less.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I am one of those people who tells someone that I’m fasting while being authentic in a conversation, and then immediately regrets it because I don’t want anyone to know.  However it is very difficult for me to practice something so significant and not share how it is affecting me with someone.

Although it may not make any sense to anybody else, coffee is totally a spiritual thing for me.  I feel like it’s mine and God’s time together in the morning.  My first cup of coffee is usually consumed quite slowly while I sit on the edge of my bed and wake up for 20 minutes.  This is probably the only time of any day that my mind is not running 100 miles a minute.  It is the only time during the day that I can just sit with Jesus and not be riddled with anxiety about what may or may not happen in the next 24 hours.

If I just drink coffee in the morning, I will be awake.  But if I drink coffee and talk to Jesus, it centers me, it sets my life back on track.  Not every cup of coffee I drink focuses me on Jesus, but it should.  Maybe instead of trying so hard to cut something out of my life, I should refocus myself to add something into my life.  I have made lent a ritual, a rule that I need to follow to get my holy points.  But Jesus didn’t die so I could follow a rule.  He died so every morning we could sit together for a little while and he could wake my soul so that I may go out and glorify him.

Encouraging great things in people

When I became a Christian back when I was 14 I spent a majority of my time with mentors.  When I left home and traveled across the continent I spent a majority of my time with other girls in my unit who encouraged me in my faith, and my new Canadian mentors.

Part of my schooling was an 8 month internship overseas, and I felt God calling me to Ireland.  Part of my internship was that I was required to have a mentor that I met with weekly.  Before I left I started freaking out.  What if my mentor wasn’t nice?  What if my mentor didn’t like me?  Most importantly, what if my mentor didn’t have a sense of humor?

I prayed about it, a lot.  All of my mentors in the past had been women about 10 years older than me who were married with young kids.  So I started praying for the perfect mentor for me, and I definitely got it.  I got to Ireland and was met by a woman named Stacey, who was 10 years older than me, and who had 2 sons who were 5 and 7.

I remember that first day, I was wearing these shorts I bought from Walmart.  I went to throw something away, missed the garbage can, and when I bent down to pick it up my shorts ripped.  I don’t mean like, “oops, there’s a tiny hole in my pants that no one will notice.”  I mean like, a slit 6 inches long, all the way down the back.

Not knowing Stacey and her family, I was mortified.  So, I stood with my back to the wall until Ethan (her son) walked out of the room and I RAN to my suitcase and grabbed a new pair of shorts to change into.

There were tons of other embarrassing moments that happened while I was in Ireland, like that one time I got locked in the bathroom for 2 hours under the stairs.  And now, I can tell Stacey this story about my mortifying short rip and we can laugh about it.

When you have a mentor, you observe them and learn from them.  I learned a lot from Stacey, and she seriously saved me multiple times as I was at the edge of my breaking point, missing home and wondering what the heck God was doing with my life.  But there is one memory that I always think of when I think of Stacey.

Stacey’s sons are really creative and energetic.  Her one son, Ethan, is a total artist.  He’s one of those kids that could scribble on a piece of paper or pick up a toilet paper roll and make something totally creative out of it.  My most memorable image of Stacey was when her son Ethan came out with some of his legos built into some big thing and he was like, “look mom!  It’s a….” (I can’t remember what it was, but that’s not what this memory is about anyway.)  But Ethan showed Stacey something and Stacey just responded with, “THAT’S SO COOL!” And started giggling with her son as he demonstrated it all for her.

Kids love getting our attention, everyone loves getting attention to an extent.  And every week I would meet with Stacey and I would tell her a billion “Shanna Stories” and she would listen intently to every one of them.  I’ve been writing blogs for a while now, and I have a few dedicated followers, Stacey is one of them.  Despite how tedious, meaningless, funny, or great my blogs may be, she always reads them and tells me that she loves them.

She messaged me one time after I wrote some really long blog and gave me some advice.  She advised I work on making my paragraphs a bit shorter so that they are more broken up ad easier to read (which I have been trying to do ever since).  But after she wrote that she said “I’ll read your blog posts no matter how long or short or paragraphy or not they are. That’s a promise too!”

Stacey is so supportive of everyone around her, engaging their creativity and letting them know that they are really great at something.  That’s one of the main things I learned from her while on my internship; to encourage great things in people, and to celebrate accomplishments regardless of how small they may seem.  Don’t just apathetically show your excitement, but show your full support, excitement, and appreciation for those around you (especially kids).

Stacey is also pretty creative herself.  She is a writer (www.staceycovell.com).  And she is doing this really cool thing called “Conversations Reconstructed.”  She’s reconstructed iconic poetry, matched it with visual art and is presenting it at an art exhibition in Dublin this April.  I am super pumped for her to do this, and may have looked into flights to Dublin this April on more than one occasion (If they weren’t so dang expensive!).

To give you a bit of an idea, this came from her website:

“I’ve always been fascinated with the question: “What if?”  What if we did that another way? What if something we valued suddenly became something of no value or vice versa? What if the same words could tell a totally different story?

Several months ago, under the dark of night, a ‘what if’ conversation led to an idea…What if I could take apart stories and rebuild them to tell completely different ones? This led to an experiment…which repeated itself several times over…leading to countless conversations…which turned into bigger and bigger things…until it became…Conversations|Reconstructed.”

If you want to find out more about it, and support Stacey in this endeavor you can do so at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/conversations-reconstructed

A confidence you can back up

I have wanted a juicer for a while now.  I am the WORST at eating my vegetables, I mean, if they are prepared and sitting in front of me I’ll snack on them, but I have a hard time making sure I get a daily dosage of spinach, ya know?  So I thought a juicer would be a brilliant idea, mostly because of my childish love of drinking juice.

I have held off on this plan, mostly because I didn’t want to pay the $150 for a juicer and also, I don’t really have anywhere to put it.  Well, alas! I have finally found the day to buy a juicer!  I got it for a whopping $8.50 at the local thrift store and it works great!

In classic Shanna fashion, I immediately went out and bought $30 of produce to juice.  I came home, spent a good 2 hours juicing it all and felt very accomplished as I put 5- one liter mason jars in the fridge containing my first juice.  I had a brilliant plan to get all of my nutrients into my system this week.  I was going to drink a glass of juice a day along with the rest of my meals.

And then my sister was like, “I dare you to do a juice detox” and I was like, “Ok, why not?”

In theory, this wasn’t such a terrible idea, except the fact that I wasn’t really all that committed to it, I was mostly just doing it for funzies.

So, when dinner time rolled around and I had only drank juice all day, I found myself getting incredibly hangry (so hungry you get angry).  I wasn’t fully invested in this plan, and when someone said, “I don’t think you need to do a detox” I was like, “ok…”  When someone else questioned, “So, what exactly are you detoxing from?” I threw all my care to the wind as I realized I didn’t even know my own motives for this plan.  And that’s how I broke my juice detox.

But, here’s the kicker.  I love juice.  Now, I have had so much juice in the last day that I would be happy not drinking juice for the next month.

It’s kind of like being a vegetarian.  If someone doesn’t actually have a solid confidence in their reasons for being a vegetarian, when someone questions them they’ll just be like, “GIVE ME ALL THE CHICKEN AND BEEF THAT YOU HAVE!” (At least that’s what they’d be like if they were anything like me.)

Confidence can be a pretty attractive trait in a person if it’s a got the right balance of humility mixed in there.  But false confidence can be really awful.  If I don’t have a good reason for what I’m doing, then why am I doing it?  I mean, if I want to be a vegetarian because I like vegetables then I’m not gonna care when someone gets on my case and tells me all their arguments against vegetarianism. (side note: I’m not a vegetarian)  Because without fail, there is always someone who questions your judgement, but it doesn’t matter if you can back it up.

Sometimes I can be overly confident in things. I think it’s funny to use it as a joke, ya know, be overly confident in the wrong answer and give my housemates a hard time.  But sometimes I catch myself being overly confident in things I shouldn’t be overly confident in and then I feel awful.

People will compliment me on something and sometimes I’ll hear those words and be like, ya know what, you’re right!  And suddenly I think I am the funniest, most awesome person at life.  And, honestly, it makes me a little sick, when I look at myself in the mirror and just think about me.  Because I’m not all that great.  And at the end of the day, I know what goes through my head and I know I am not the most wonderful person.

I know I can be self deprecating, but does it count as being self deprecating if it’s true?

Here’s the thing, if I’m funny in life, but my highest purpose isn’t glorifying Jesus, then my sense of humor can quickly turn irritating and offensive.  I get annoyed with myself!  But, when my highest purpose in life is to glorify Jesus, and I am remembering that and practicing it, then I’m not seeking for the approval of others and in that my humor doesn’t have to go to far.

When I forget Jesus, I am living for the glory of myself, that means my worth depends on what other people think about me.  I end up getting proud, and pride is such an ugly trait, it makes me feel like Gollum.

I recently went through a period of time where *a lot* of people told me I was funny.  It was like the one word anyone used to describe me.  It stands out so much to me because the first time someone said it, I felt like it was a negative trait.  As they used this word to describe me (instead of any other word that I could have hoped for), they managed to rephrase it FOUR times.  They didn’t just say I was funny, they said I was the most hilarious person they know and I make them laugh harder than anyone, and they love being around me for my sense of humor.  They didn’t say I was beautiful or genuine or kind or gracious, they said I was funny. Four. Different. Ways.

After that it seemed like it was the only thing anyone could say about me.  Yeah I guess there could be worse, but getting all of my worth out of what people thought of me meant that being funny is All. I.  Am.  I am JUST funny.  And that is actually quite depressing.

That’s probably why the Bible points out over and over and over and over again that our worth is found in our identity in Christ.  Because, without Christ we are just -meh.

Being confident in myself because I have a bold sense of humor, puts a gross taste in my mouth.  Using my humor to glorify God, now that’s something to be confident in.  That’s when the gifts God has given me can be used to change lives.

There is a peace in being who God created us to be, and embracing that.  If God made me in such a way that I am JUST funny, then I am going to use that gift to the best of my ability to point to him.  But I believe that God gave me many more gifts than just a sense of humor and when I find my identity in him I can see that and be confident in that.  I can be confident in what he is doing, cause it’s not about me, it’s all about him.

There is no one alive who is youer than you

My current inner turmoil is in the amount that I share with others.  Well, buckle up kids cause I’m about to share heaps.

Someone decided to point out to me recently that I share far too much.  I mean, people tell me I talk too much and talk too loud quite often, I’m actually pretty insecure about it most of the time because I know that this is what a lot of people think of me.  But recently someone told me that there is nothing that I keep to myself.  I highly doubt that they said this knowing the amount of thought I would put into their words after they said them.

I spent about a week trying to keep everything to myself.  If anything good or bad happened to me, I was super aloof about it.  People would ask me how my day was and I would say good, followed by a series of questions to distract them from asking me any more about myself.  I liked the novelty of this new practice because it reminded me of characters I’ve always read about in books.

I am so fascinated by characters who are quiet.  They are just as adventurous and opinionated as anyone else, but they are mysterious.  I invest in these characters and long to be like them, like Elizabeth Bennett, witty and brave, but able to keep just enough from the world that people long to know her better.  Unfortunately, I am not Elizabeth Bennett, I share everything, there is no mystery in my eyes, ya know?

But even in my efforts to be secretive and keep things to myself, I was losing my mind.  I had to tell myself all the funny stories that happened at the end of every day because I felt like I was going to explode with stories.  When you are an authentically awkward person, your life is endless amounts of stories.  If you don’t tell them to someone, they can quickly turn from funny to uncomfortable.

So then I tried to find a middle ground.  I decided I would share my funny stories with people who are close to me and be more aloof with acquaintances and strangers.  I still couldn’t do it.  Some random would look at me and say, “How’s it going, Shanna?”  I would say good and they would look at me with these eyes like, “tell me a story, tell me a story!” Suddenly the stories were flowing out of me again.

To be fair, I used to keep things to myself and then I watched multiple relationships destroy themselves with lack of communication and I decided I never wanted that to happen to me.  I actually wrote off relationships at all for a while because I watched so many fall apart.  And in my natural subtlety, when one particular guy started flirting with me I responded with, “Shut your mouth or I’ll punch you in the face!”  I realize now that this was probably harsher than necessary.

So, now as I try to meander my way around this middle ground, I find myself waiting all day to tell people stories in real life and sometimes the people who end up hearing them don’t really care all that much.  Meanwhile, some of my closest friends who LOVE hearing my awkward stories are only able to see them via the interwebs because an 8 hour time difference doesn’t accommodate daily phone calls.

Anyways, all that to say, I have a lot of awkward stories that I haven’t been sharing in an effort to minimize my audience for the sake of suiting others.  But I really have no desire to minimize my audience.  I mean, I have a desire to keep at least one portion of myself for a special someone.  Part of me likes the novelty in having one person who gets to hear every story.  But until that one special person exists in my life, I might as well share with everybody.  Because seriously, who needs another exclusive friendship in their lives?  I think people are far too exclusive, let’s all just be friends with everyone and save the cliques (american pronunciation) for the keyboard.  AmIright or amIright?

That being said, here are some awkward stories from this weekend for your enjoyment:

I  drove to Chapters in Langley to return a book.  I walk up and the lady at the register asks me if there was a reason for me returning it. I said, “I bought this copy because it was the only one that didn’t have a picture from the movie on the cover, but I saw a smaller paperback version in another chapters, so I know the type of copy I want exists.  I mean, this copy is so big that I would only ever be able to read it in my room.  Clearly I am never going to be able to fit this into my purse and take it to a coffee shop with me.”  She was like, “I’ll just select, ‘not as expected’ then.”

Then she asks for my name, phone number and address.  Knowing full well that I accidentally mix up the numbers in my address quite often, I said every part of the address very slowly and thoughtfully, looking to the ceiling to make sure I was remembering it right.  The lady was like, “Did you just move?” And I said, “No, I’m just a little dyslexic sometimes.”  She gets visibly awkward at this point, playing with the scarf around her neck and apologizing to me.  I said, “Oh, No!  I’m just kidding, I’m not actually dyslexic.”  This was the point in our interaction that I started to feel bad for her getting me as a customer.

Then, after church yesterday, I’m standing in the aisle and this elderly woman walks into the room.  There is another woman standing in the window behind her knocking on it to get her attention but she doesn’t hear it.  The elderly woman is about 20 feet from me so I start pointing at the woman in the window behind her and telling her to turn around.  The elderly lady can’t hear me at all.  She looks at me for a while, then points to herself to ask if I’m talking to her.  I nod and make a turn around motion with my finger and point at the window.  The elderly woman very slowly turns around doing a whole 360 while looking at the ground then she looks up at me, smiles, and slowly walks up to me to find out what I wanted.  I just laughed and pointed out the woman in the window, who surprisingly still hadn’t walked the 5 feet around the corner to talk to this elderly woman.

Although others probably think I should just calm down, sometimes I wish I could be bolder because I let hilarious moments pass me by.  One time I was on the beach and there were like 30 people standing in a huddle about a half mile away from me.  The thought crossed my mind that I should run over there and pretend that they are a flock or birds, I should run through them, jumping around and waving my arms frantically so that they all flew away.  My friend with me was totally supportive of my idea, and if the group wasn’t a half a mile away I probably would have done it.  But I didn’t and I should have.

It’s remembering moments like this that I think, who cares if the person next to me is a little embarrassed by my ridiculousness!  I had a friend once tell me that they “pulled a Shanna” and they described the term as doing something embarrassing in an irreversible sort of way.  I’ve also had people tell me that the things I’ve done in front of them are such a Shanna thing to do.

Sometimes I hear this and wonder if I should be offended by these comments, but then again, I guess it means that they don’t know anyone else like me which makes me feel pretty special.  It’s like the whole idea that loving deeper puts you at greater risk of being hurt.  The deeper your feelings, the more vulnerable you are.

In the same way, the more bold your life may be, the more open you are to the disapproval of others, or people making comments that you are “too much” or “too different.”  Being bold doesn’t mean you have to be crazy, it just means you have to be genuine, confident enough to risk sharing your true self with someone else.  I am crazy.  Like, legitimately ridiculous.  You don’t have to be me to be bold.  In fact, I don’t want you to be.  I just want you to be you.

Who cares if someone thinks you look weird.  The week before I left for Christmas I decided to dress “christmasy” every day.  One day, I wore a green dress with yellow tights and a white cardigan so I could look like elf.  Did I look weird? No, I actually looked totally normal.  When people found out that I was intentionally trying to look like elf, did they think I was weird?  Yes, yes they did.  But who cares?  You have to take a risk and open yourself up, so that you can fully live.  Seriously, being constantly terrified of what the world defines as normal is exhausting.

If God didn’t want me to be so ridiculous, then he probably shouldn’t have put me in so many ridiculous situations.  That being said, it is safe to assume that he has a purpose in my ridiculousness.  Plus, it always makes a good story and makes me laugh.  I love laughing, so why would I ever want to keep something that makes me laugh to myself?  It’s too difficult to be someone else (unless it’s for a costume party).  Honestly, trying to neatly contain myself is exhausting.

So that settles it.  Sharing = good.  At least in my case.

There’s freedom in being exactly who God made you to be, as crazy and ridiculous or subtle and serious as that may be.  Just be genuine, be bold.  Let’s get real, we all know it’s the best roast of coffee anyway.

That time I fell asleep at the Zoo

I heard once that eating cheese before bed makes you have crazy dreams.  I heard that eating the skin of brie makes you have even crazier dreams.

Every year at Christmas my mom makes all of her children’s favorite food items.  Since she has 8 children and children-in-laws this means, she makes A LOT of food.  There were 6 people in total at my mom’s house for Christmas, including my mom.  And we had full pans worth of: Broccoli and corn casserole, bacon covered water chestnuts, ham egg and cheese casserole, bacon cracker dip, and sausage dip, as well as, a fruit platter, 3 bags of chips, crackers, cheese and beef sticks, 2 kinds of pie and my favorite: sausage links and brie on pillsbury croissants.

Needless to say, we had a lot of left overs, and I have been eating those left overs every day since Christmas.  And it is all evidence of my mom’s generosity and the amount of thought she puts into making her children’s christmas day nice for them.  (Not saying that this is what a mother needs to do to make Christmas special, but I’m saying this is how MY MOM makes Christmas special for us.)

Well, when I said my mom had sausage links and brie on croissants, I don’t mean she just made a batch and we had left overs.  She had 5 packets of 10 sausage in the freezer and gave us each a pack of sausage, a pack of croissants, and a chunk of brie before we left.  And yesterday, my breakfast lunch and dinner were brie and sausage,

This could be the explanation for my crazy dream last night.

I woke up at 4 am and typed out as much as I could remember in my sleepy state on my iPhone.

This is what is in my notes:

 Brie crazy dreams

Zoo

Porcupine

Skunk

Tojutzuk (like a monkey cat)

Edible purple liquid waiting to be drunk

Messenger tube busts and fills room with water

Describing area to them and all the animals shake leashes off feet and start chasing me around while everyone tells me what to do.

Now let’s see if I can make sense of this nonsense for you:

So this lady asked me to do a photoshoot of her baby, but she said she didn’t want any smiley pictures she only wanted brooding pictures.  So it was her idea to take him to the zoo.  But the animals were only in one part of the zoo and the rest was random stuff (like the messenger tubes).

The “Zoo” was actually in the building which is my home church in real life.  So, we take the baby to where the library is in my church and there is this display case (It’s actually the case that my mom has which we recently moved for her.) All the sides and shelves were mirrors, so I put the baby in there and tried to take a picture of him brooding.

Then his mom was like, “I want you to take pictures of him in the play area (which was a play ground, but also surrounded by all the animals)”

This is when my boyfriend showed up.  It was Shia Labeouf, but not like current, sexy Shia Labeouf, it was like, Even Stevens Shia Labeouf.  So, while the woman and I are looking for the play area Shia Labeouf wanders into this room filled with clear tubes that have water running through them.  Then we notice one of the tubes has these strings of color in it, like blue and purple and when we ask what it is someone tells us that it is a drink and it is being transported to the person who needs it.

While we are looking at the water run through, this little piece of pipe falls out and suddenly the water starts pouring out into the room.  We call the Zoo people to tell them that the pipes are leaking and they tell us there is nothing they can do about it, it just needs to run its course.  That was where Shia Labeouf died.  Or at least I assume he did because he never got out of the room and I didn’t see him in the dream again.

I escape the room filling with water, I don’t know why Shia Labeouf didn’t follow me, I just walked out the door…  Then I enter back into the playground area and all the zoo animals are on these big rocks covered in grass.  That was their home, rather than a cage they had huge rocks covered in grass and their ankles were hooked into leashes so they wouldn’t jump off the rock.

Suddenly a porcupine is loose and it is chasing me around the room, and I’m sprinting because this porcupine is fast!  So I call the zoo people again to tell them the porcupine is loose.  They are like, “Where are you?” I start telling them all the animals around me and they have no idea where I am.  Which is really frustrating because I’m in a zoo and their should be a map somewhere and they are the zoo keepers so why don’t they know where the room is with all the animals?

I tell them, “I’m by the porcupines, and the raccoons, and the skunks,” and I look over to see the one skunk shaking his leg trying to free himself from the leash.  I turn around and I see one of these:

SLOW LORIS

Which in real life is known as a Slow Loris but in my dream the sign for this was “Tojutzuk.”

Suddenly the skunk is free and chasing me around the room as well.  And everyone on the sides are yelling at me and telling me where to run, which is kind of pointless because the room is a small circle.

That’s when I woke up.

To decipher the meaning of my dream for you:

Preventable accidents are happening all around me

I should never be a photographer, because I never actually take a picture of my subjects

My boyfriend will probably disappear after interacting with some alien liquid, this will also have been preventable.

When I don’t know the answer to something, rather than not saying anything, I make something up (example: Tojutzuk)

The world isn’t fair, but it should be.

I grew up with 4 brothers.  I said, “But it’s not fair!” a lot.  You probably did too as a kid, since it’s pretty much a universal struggle in every child’s life.  Things aren’t fair.

It’s not fair that some children have a life filled with sadness and hurt and others don’t want for anything.

But when I was a kid and I complained that something wasn’t fair, I was told, “The world isn’t fair.”  It’s basically another way of saying, “Get over it.”  But I don’t think we should get over it.

I believe that Jesus is an advocate for peace.  And I think that there will be peace when things are fair.

I believe that there will be peace when every person is treated equally and with dignity.  Our disagreements don’t need to result in judgement and hatred.  Our disagreements can just be disagreements and we can choose to see the good in every person despite our differences.

I believe that you can find good in people, there may not be a lot, and you may have to search incredibly deep for it, but every person has it somewhere in there.  And when it surfaces, it it the most beautiful sight you could imagine.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I just read an article that said, Gandhi didn’t actually say that.  He said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.  As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.”

Either way, I like it.  And it makes my point.

I think we live in a generation of “world changers.”  By that, I mean people who talk about wanting to change the world a lot.  Sometimes they do something noble like, fundraise for haiti (I did that once, but it meant so little to me that I actually forgot that I did it for like 3 years.), and they’re super into social justice, kind of.

Social justice is so hot right now.  And some people genuinely do care about those issues.  But life can feel so daunting when you are constantly hearing about how things are gonna change one day.

I think the world should be fair and it isn’t.  So, when something unfair happens, I embrace it.  But I make sure that I am always being as fair as possible.

Here is a perfect example: Mall parking lots at Christmas time.

Mall parking lots are absolutely ridonculous.  I went to Crossgates Mall today in Albany and the aisle I parked in was literally shaped like an “S” because people were parked so poorly.  When we went to leave I drove to the end of the aisle and took a left.  The next aisle was a “V.”  The people in my aisle were so not in their parking space (due to snow covering the lines, but I mean c’mon people, at least try for an estimated guess of where the spot could be) that the next aisle met in the middle.  So many people were blocked in.

After we were done there we went to Colonie Center.  I was driving around looking for a spot for a couple minutes and then I see this car waiting in an aisle for someone to back out.  They end up driving away right as the person backs out so I took the spot.  Literally, front row, right next to the door.  It was amazing.  Then I look in my rearview mirror and the car that passed the spot was sitting a little further down the aisle waiting for another spot.

So, I get out of my car and walk over to the lady’s window.  She looks at me like I am a serial killer and I wave and smile.  So eventually she rolls down her window and I said, “Hey, I’m sorry that I took that spot, I thought you had moved on to another aisle.  Would you like to take it and I will wait for another spot?”  They were all shocked and kept saying how sweet I was but it was fine and the car they were waiting for was about to pull out anyway.

I feel like most people would just take the spot.  And yes, I am trying to make you feel bad about that right now.  The person in the car with me made a comment like, “Sweet! We have an angel on our side!  I can’t believe we got that spot!”

A lot of times when we don’t like something we take ourselves out of the situation.  If I don’t like the way “church” is, I don’t go.  Or if I don’t like this persons opinions, then I’m just not going to talk to this person, or if I talk to them I’m gonna yell at them for having such dumb opinions.  Or if this person disagrees with me, then I’m not going to let them into heaven.  Because we do hold all the tickets to heaven don’t we?  Or at least we act like we do.

I want the world to be fair.  I want everyone to be treated equally and with dignity.  So, even though sometimes, my life feels like it isn’t fair, or someone doesn’t treat me very well, I will still act fairly.  I will live by example, and will be what I want to see in the world.

If you are like, “Shanna, this is such a great idea, but I just don’t know how to be a nice person.” Then here are some helpful tips on how to be nice:

1. Smile at retail workers.  And when they apologize for how long the line has been, tell them “it’s ok!”

2. Don’t be so picky at a restaurant.  If a waitress brings you the wrong soda, just say, “I’m sorry, could I get a [correct soda name]” don’t threaten to kill her whole family in their sleep because she confused your drink with 1 of the other 100 people’s soda orders.

3. Don’t blame people for stuff.  When in doubt, blame yourself.  When a waitress brings you a salad instead of a pizza, just be like, “I’m sorry, my finger must have covered the pizza so it looked like I was pointing to salad on the menu.”

4. Let other people go first.  Give up the nice seat.  Usually they are like, “no, that’s ok, you go.” but at least it makes them feel like a stranger cares about them a little bit.

5. Just calm down with the whole road rage business.  Yes, everyone is cutting you off.  Yes, everyone is a terrible driver.  Including you sometimes.  Everybody accidentally cuts somebody off at one point in their life.  So just pretend like that person that just cut you off, did so accidentally, and they usually aren’t like that.

6. Always assume the best of people.  Always believe that they aren’t trying to take advantage of you.  Some people might be, but most of the time they aren’t.  And usually, when someone assumes the best of them, it makes them want to be better.

7. Stop assuming your friend isn’t texting you because they hate you.  Text them.  And when they don’t respond, text them another 15 times.  If they don’t respond to that, ask if they are ok.  And if they don’t respond to that, assume that they are busy being involved in real life rather than their phone.  And if they never respond, just assume they got really busy and forgot.  Living in fear that your friends are ignoring your texts sounds like an awful way to live.

8.  Every once in a while, leave a coin in the shopping cart in the parking lot so the next person gets a freeby

9.  Offer to be a servant.  If someone says they are thirsty, ask if you can grab them some water.  Always be willing to do things for someone else, even if you’re tired.  Unless you’re sick, in which case, get your rest, and ask other people to get you water.

10. laugh at bad jokes.  Everybody loves to make people laugh, but some people aren’t funny.  Make them feel special by being the one person that doesn’t make them feel like they’re the worst.

I know all these ideas sound so innovative, but I must admit I got my inspiration from somewhere else.  What was it again? Where did I get this idea from….?  hmmm??  What was it what was it what was it?  OH YES!  It was this quote I read once that said something like, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

Be a peacemaker.  Live the gospel.  Don’t just get over it.

Hawaii for the weekend #Thisis25 YOLO!

About a month or so ago I began thinking about how I wanted to spend my 25th birthday.  I’m turning 25, I don’t want to just go to dinner and watch a movie, I want to do something spontaneous.  I don’t want to spend the day thinking about how most of my friends are married and I’m not, I want to spend the day loving my life for what it is!  So I began planning a road trip.  I thought California would be nice, so I contacted some friends that lived along the way and looked into car rentals.

In the end of November I hung out with my friend Paige and I mentioned this idea to her.  She loved it and I invited her to join me.  The plan was all coming together, I began the process to make a car rental reservation and we were going to leave after work on Thursday, the 5th.

On Monday, the 2nd I get a call from Paige asking how much of our plans were committed, which at that time the plan was to kind of wing it.  She said, “I have an idea, are you ok with being surprised?”  Are you kidding me?  I love surprises!  She said, “Ok, I just need to know your passport information and your credit card information.”  This is what trust looks like, people.

She arranged the trip in 2 days and just told me, “We are still surfing and pack for 70-80 degree weather.”  That gave me a bit of an idea of where we could be going, and knowing Paige, I had my assumptions.

December 5, 2013: Our sketchy journey begins

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-4We arranged all of our rides to the airport and packed one book bag each.  Right before we got to the border she gave me my birthday present.  Inside was a hawaiian doll, a lei (that shed all over me), a birthday tank top that said, “Aloha Bitches” on one side and “Badass since Dec. 7 1988″ on the other, and a surfing magazine.  When I pulled out the magazine she said, “Do you know where we are going yet?”  I looked at the cover and it said Australia on it.  I was like, “Australia?”  She was like, “No!  HAWAII!”

We got to the border and had a pretty smooth entry which was a nice change for Paige.  Then we had to walk to Edalene Dairy which in normal life is about a 5 minute walk.  But when you are walking on one of the coldest days of the year, with nothing but a light jacket because you are en route to tropical weather, this 5 minute walk feels like it lasts HOURS.

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-1-2

We set up camp at Edalene for a good hour and a half waiting for our next pickup.  My friend Kylie drove us to the airport and mentioned that she is prohibited (by her plane mechanic father) to ride the airline we were about to board but wouldn’t explain why.  Once we were on board, we knew why our flight was so crazy cheap.  This airplane was not only the simplest version of itself (no air, no reclining chairs, no TVs, no pockets on the chair), it was also falling apart.

The engine starts and the whole back of the plane (which is where every single person was seated, and the entire front of the plane was empty) filled with exhaust fumes.  We were off to a great start.

Paige and I used to be roommates in college.  The theme song of our friendship is “Taking the Long Way Round” by the Dixie Chicks because they say, “Drank with the Irish, smoked with the hippies.” And Paige is in love with Hawaii and I am in love with Ireland.

One night I was preparing for this big lunch the next day and I had to cut 3 onions.  My eyes were on fire.  I couldn’t fall asleep, my eyes burned so much.  Paige, who is completely obsessed with peppermint oil, was like, “Oh, I’ve got the perfect thing to help you fall asleep!”  She runs out of the room and comes back in with her bottle of oil and rubs it all over my temples.  It made the pain so much worse.  Not only were my eyes burning from the onion, but behind my eyeball sockets were also being cleared out!

photo 2So we’re sitting on the plane and everyone else is sleeping.  Paige gets up and grabs her peppermint sage oil and goes to put some on her nose.  But since the lights were off, she didn’t notice that the roller ball at the end of the bottle was missing and she dumped peppermint oil all over herself.  Suddenly, over the loudspeaker we hear, “Whoever is spraying menthol in the back of the plane, you need to stop immediately!  You are bothering the people around you and they are complaining of headaches (which is ironic given that peppermint is a natural remedy for headaches)!  Again, whoever is spraying their menthol spray in the back of the plane you need to stop immediately!”  Suddenly the girl next to us wakes up and just says, “What did you do?!”

We made it through the rest of the flight.  We had a sketchy landing and after we touched ground I hear this loud noise.  I look over and there is a huge piece of plastic in the middle of the aisle.  The arm on Paige’s chair fell off, like completely.  She just looks at me and was like, “I didn’t touch anything!  You saw, my hands were right here the whole time!”

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-2-2We got into Honolulu a little after midnight and Paige’s friend Heather picked us up.  We then travelled a good 20 minutes in the wrong direction, which was nice as it was my chance to see the west side.  We were staying up on the North Shore in a shed behind Paige’s friend, Glo’s, house.  It was sweet!  We got our own little space and a futon!

December 6, 2013: Pre-Birthday SEALabrations (You’ll get it in a minute…)

The next morning we woke up and walked to town for breakfast and coffee.  On the way to the coffee place, Paige was like, “Let’s go through this path in the field!”  I totally biffed it and my feet were covered in mud.

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-6

Then we went to a local beach and swam around for a bit.  The water was SO warm and clean!  My earring fell out after a wave hit me and I found it like 5 minutes later!  Then we went for a beach walk and we saw a seal just chillin on the beach!  It was adorable!  It was not dead. (I am making 25 with my hands)

photo 1

We walked to a swimming hole and hung out there for a couple hours.  I swam with goggles and checked out a whole bunch of fish!  I tried to do a cartwheel on the sand, and we made sand angels!  I was lying there and I tried to make the 25 with my hands.  I said, “Paige, does this make 25 or 52?”  She was like, “Yup, it makes 25.”  Nope.  But we had so much fun!

After that we went and got huge bowls of guacamole for “dinner” and went surfing.  We all wanted to puke avocado everywhere, but we held back.

They were like, “Whatever you do, DO NOT stand up because you will cut your feet!”  This filled me with fear.  So, I hop on my board and without a wet suit that thing is like crazy slippery.  There weren’t even any waves around me and I was just sliding off.  But every time I slid off I was so nervous of the reef that I would just fling my legs up so I was floating on my stomach.  Hawaii Dec 7 2013-39

Also, because I’m only used to Westport, I’ve never paddled much.  So, Heather, the amazing woman that she is, would come up and tell me to grab her feet and she would paddle me out to the waves.  At one point this old guy goes paddling past us and was like, “You go girl!”  It was a bit embarrassing.  Then Paige was like, “grab my foot too and I’ll help.”  I was like, “No, this is too humbling.”  I caught one wave and rode it all the way in and a bunch of little kids almost ran over me while they surfed.  Surfing in Hawaii is amazing!

December 7, 2013: My 25th birthday AKA Pearl Harbor Day AKA “a date which will live in infamy”

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-17This day was packed, and I loved every second of it!  First we went and got acai bowls for breakfast!  Then we went to Pearl Harbor.  A lot of people don’t know tons about Pearl Harbor, which is unfortunate since FDR said it was “A date which will live in infamy.”  I always thought if I ever went to Hawaii I would want to go to Pearl Harbor!  How crazy is it that I got to go ON my birthday!  Pearl Harbor Day!

photo 2

We didn’t go inside, since that cost money, but we took a ton of pictures outside with signs that say “Pearl Harbor” and some Navy guys.  I literally said, “Um, excuse me?  It’s my 25th birthday.  Can I take a picture with you or is that totally not cool?”  They were like, “uuhh sure?”  And I said, “Great!  Thumbs up!”

After that we went to this guy Dave’s house on the east side which is where Jurassic Park was filmed.  I walked around every corner and looked at every tree anticipating a raptor attack.

photo 3Dave lives close to China Man’s Hat, so he let us borrow his kayaks and paddle around for a while!  And, I saw a turtle!  He was too quick for me to take a picture, but I definitely saw him looking RIGHT at me.  It’s like he just popped his head up for a quick, “Happy Birthday!” Then went back down.  He probably knew how much I love turtles, what a tease.

We went back in and Paige and Heather lounged on some inflatables while I snorkeled for like an hour, not even kidding. It was the best!  I saw so many fish!

photo 1

We drank delicious Sangria made with guava juice, because what other juice would you drink when you are in Hawaii?  Dave made us dinner with hamburgers and hot dogs and chicken and beans and chips.  It was a packed meal!  Dave was super generous, he was an awesome guy!

photoOn our way home we stopped by Pipe which was happening while I was there.  The waves were HUGE!  Seriously, I would die if I went out there.  It was beautiful!

After that we just went home and watched “She’s All That”

We went to bed and had to wake up at 4am to catch our flight home.  Coming back to cold rainy BC was hard, but I do love my home and my friends here.  It is good to be back for a few days before heading home for Christmas.

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-47

My trip to hawaii was crazy spontaneous and it was amazing!  I am so blessed to have a friend like Paige who is willing to be crazy spontaneous with me!  I just think about all the people who would need to have all the details in order before they left and would have to have this all planned way more in advance.  Those people are way better prepared, and I need people like them in my life because if everyone was like me, this world would be much messier than it is.

But when I think about my favorite book (which I feel like I quote in my blog all the time), A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, this is the kind of stuff that he talks about.

Our life is made up of stories, spontaneous moments that take our breath away and make us feel alive.

I wanted to run away from my life for a little while.  I didn’t want to think about the fact that I was spending another birthday alone with friends.  I didn’t want to watch a whole bunch of couples snuggle in front of me while I tried to talk to them.

And ya know what, I got to forget that thought for a little while.

We were driving around, listening to Justin Bieber with the windows down and dancing.  We were just being entirely ourselves, completely care-free.

At one point “Crash” by The Dave Matthews Band came on.  I don’t know if this made me get all deep because I was actually moved by the lyrics or because it was slow.  Slow songs just make me think, no matter what they are talking about.  But I think the girl he is talking about in the song is a little bit crazy, and maybe that’s where all my thinking began.

Hawaii Dec 7 2013-20As this song was playing my head was lying by the window and the wind was blowing my hair back.  The view was beautiful and I would just close my eyes in total bliss.  And as I lied there I just thought about how if I was married with children I would not be able to do any of this.  Or maybe I would but it would look a lot different.

I thought about how I am free to go anywhere and do anything.  It can sometimes feel like a lonely life, but it is a full life.  I have the ability to love so deeply.  Sometimes people get married and start having kids and they just get really focused on themselves.  Not always, but a lot of times.  And I mean, it’s ok because their family comes first.  But their friends often fall by the wayside, because you only have the capacity to invest in so many people.

I too have a capacity of how many people I can invest in, but given the fact that I don’t have people that I have to invest in 15+ hours a day, I can invest in a larger number and spread it out more.  I hope that my friends feel that I invest enough in them, because I do have the ability.

I came back to BC and all the feelings I wanted to forget for a day are back.  But I hold on to that feeling.  I hold onto the wind in my hair and the smell of the air.  I hold onto the memory that my life is beautiful, exactly as it is.  There are a lot of things that could have made my life different, and I would have still loved it, but this is my life.  Not that.  This is what I’ve been given, and it is my choice to love it for all that it is.  All the messiness, all the loneliness, all the love, and all the beauty.  I choose to love it. #YOLO