Receiving Dividends (Part 2)

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It was nearly 3:30AM by the time I finally got back to bed after intervening with the taxi driver and security guard. I’d told the taxi driver I was a Christian and that’s why I’d stepped in to help. The security guard had shaken my hand and asked for my unit number for his report.

I couldn’t sleep when I got back to my apartment; I was full of energy and adrenaline. So I started writing a note to the drunk guy in unit 71 who started the whole ordeal. I was upset at first – he was at a men’s club, which repulses me, and he came home drunk, which is irritating. He was so far gone he didn’t understand that he needed to pay the taxi driver for his fare.

But as I started writing, God changed my heart, and the letter in Part 1 is the result. I slipped on my white sandals and walked down to his unit where I shoved the folded up letter in the crease of the door. As I wiggled the paper to make sure it was secure, I heard footsteps coming slowly down the hallway. They weren’t the shuffling footsteps of someone groggily getting home late. They were slow and deliberate; it was surely the security guard.

Not sure if he’d reprimand me for leaving a note, I turned the opposite direction to avoid making eye contact, leaving my note to unit 71 still visible in the door. Safely back at my apartment, I threw off my shoes and collapsed into bed. A few minutes later, I heard a scratching at my door, but I was so exhausted that I just rolled over and figured it was fine. I’d triple-checked that my door was dead-bolted.

When I woke up hours later, I did my usual morning routine before I happened to walk by my front door and saw a piece of yellow, ruled paper sticking out. Snapping it up, I felt somewhat apprehensive. Was it from the drunk tenant or the security guard? Was it a thank you or an angry rant?

I unfolded the paper and read:

“I would like to say thank you again for being Spirit led and for being such a great neighbor. You truly are a beautiful person inside and out, and I speak eternal blessings over you and your house now and forevermore. You are a true example of Christian Love. If you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to call me. Grace and peace -“

He signed his name and left his phone number, along with his title: “Security”. It turns out I wasn’t the only Christian being Spirit led last night. And we are better together than we are alone.

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ… We have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit… Yes, there are many parts, but only one body… Some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary… We carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.” -1 Corinthians 12

Authentically Aurora

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The Dietitian

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Every year, my company pays for me to have a full physical done. It’s a nice perk, actually, except that every year they tell me in some way or form that I am morbidly obese.

Some years, it’s my BMI. Other years, it’s my Body Fat %. One year, my LDL cholesterol was just 1 point too high. I’m young and healthy, right in the center of where I’m supposed to be on the Height/Weight chart, so I tend to mostly ignore the comments about my supposed obesity.

This year, my Body Fat % was measured at 26.0% by the pinch test, so they brought in an on-site dietitian to talk with me. Insert April Ludgate saying, “I hate talking. To people. About things.” 

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The dietitian and I went over my typical meals and snacks throughout the week. I think I eat pretty healthy, especially considering how I ate my first year out of college.

Cookie SliceBack when I started at this company (and all the bitterness began), I used to comfort myself with an entire Slice from Great American Cookie Company. Every day.

Once I realized that was a terrible life choice, I transitioned to a season where only after a particularly hard day at work would I come home and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies to eat in its entirety. By myself.

From there, I moved to just eating a dark chocolate bar (the whole bar). Now – eight years later – I allow myself a handful of almonds and blueberries while I watch an episode of Parks & Rec to help me unwind.

I made all of these decisions over the past few years without a dietitian, and I feel pretty good about my food choices. But last week when I told the dietitian that I eat almonds for a snack, she said, “You need to stop eating so many nuts. They are high in fat.”

Almonds.png“Yeah, but I’m eating almonds, not peanuts. And it’s good fat.”

“How do you feel about celery?”

“I feel like I don’t hate myself.”

We moved on from snacks to my lunch choices, and when she found out that I eat salads for lunch – which I think should have constituted at least a tiny smile and “good job” – her first question was, “How much dressing do you put on?” I go to Salata and ask them to half the dressing, I told her, proud of myself.

But there was no praise to be had. Did this woman know my boss? Were they related? “You should really ask for the dressing on the side,” she chided me.

Internally rolling my eyes, we moved on to protein shakes. “How much fruit do you put in?” I was cautioned to only use vegetables, not fruit, because fruit is “high in sugar.” I also use almond milk, and she shook her head. Another error on my part evidently. “Almond milk doesn’t have the same protein count as regular milk. You need to be drinking soy instead.” But aren’t there hormone concerns with drinking soy?

For breakfast, I eat one hardboiled egg. Surely she can’t say anything negative about that. Oh, but she could. “You should add some fruit to your breakfast.”

“But I thought fruit was high in sugar.” Hadn’t she just told me that?

“But you need to add carbohydrates to your breakfast. Try eating an apple or banana.”

It was a miserable experience. I feel like I’m doing a lot of things right. I don’t eat a Starbucks pastry for breakfast in the mornings like I want to. I eat an egg. I don’t eat pizza for lunch to comfort my miserable self from my life of sitting in a cubicle all day. I eat a salad. I only eat out about twice per week, but I was strongly advised, “You need to be splitting your entrees. Your waist can’t afford to eat an entire entree.”

At the same height and age range, I weigh less than this girl:

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My waist is 28″, and my hips are 37″. I am healthy. Could I afford to work out more? Yes. But I’m already pretty restrictive on my diet, and a little bit of positive encouragement would have gone much further than all of the chastising.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the treatment, though. This woman is affiliated with my company. I can’t wait to leave.

Authentically Aurora

ACAscuse me?

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 11.02.54 PMI called my mom crying after work on Tuesday. It had been a hard day, and my insecurities were running high.

“Hard day” is of course relative, and I tried to pep talk myself that I really am blessed; I have a good life, and my day wasn’t that bad, all things considered. Then I beat myself up for not being more grateful, which of course made me feel all the worse about myself. I found myself in a vicious cycle of feeling awful about my life circumstances and then feeling guilty for feeling awful.

Head in HandsThe basic gist of my hurt and frustration was that I didn’t feel valued in any arena of my life. I have felt unappreciated at work for years, so that is something I have come to expect. But Seth said some things this week that made me feel unvalued by him, and that was a new and unexpected sting of hurt. I volunteer with a lot of organizations outside of work to ensure that I am adding some semblance of value to society (since that’s nearly impossible to do at my workplace), but lately – in addition to my occupational and relational hurts – I recently started feeling disrespected and manipulated by some of the officers in my a cappella group.

AuditionsI constantly go above and beyond expectations for this group, arranging music, quietly paying cover charges for open mic nights, finding and booking videographers for performances, creating T-shirts and banners and flyers… I do so much that goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Not only that, but my voice has been picked on lately – something that had always been a source of confidence for me. Singing is something that I do for fun – because it normally brings me joy! – but instead I found myself feeling more beaten up than ever.

So when I called my mom on Tuesday after work, crying about how I felt unvalued in all these areas of my life – at work, by Seth, and by my vocal group – she reminded me that she and my dad love me and hold me in high esteem. “You have to say that,” I sniffed through my tears. “You’re my mom.”

She patiently reminded me that God loves me and values me, and then she told me that she would be praying God would give me a little reminder that very week – a reminder that God is on my side and that I am valued by Him and by the people around me, even if they don’t express it all the time.

That night, I went to choir rehearsal and was shocked to get the solo for our Adele mashup. I was feeling so beaten down that I almost didn’t audition, but of the four auditionees, our group voted for me and affirmed my singing ability – something God knew I needed this week.

This morning, I got an unexpected voicemail from Seth that said simply: “Hey, have I told you yet today that I like you a lot? Well I do. And I just wanted to call and tell you that.” I put down the phone in bewilderment, feeling surprised and pleased.

I was amazed at how quickly God answered my mom’s prayers for encouragement in my life. God is such a good Father, and He loves to give good gifts to His children! Things don’t always go as we hope or expect (or even understand), but in the times where God is so obviously lavish in His blessings, I want to take notice and remember that faithfulness for those seasons where He does not seem present. God knew I was at the end of my rope and needed a lifeline to keep me trudging through this week. And He delivered!

Now I’m just waiting on some sort of affirmation from my workplace… But I’m not holding my breath.

Authentically Aurora

Reconciliation

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I talked with Grant today.

He apologized sincerely. He was afraid to call, unsure how angry I would still be. He didn’t sleep well last night and felt horrible about what he said and did after the concert.

Of his own volition, he acknowledged that he is selfish, immature, and has unrealistic expectations for the woman he dates and ultimately marries. He has never been able to make a relationship last, and he told me that he knows he has some growing up to do.

He wants to seek the Lord and get his life in order so that he can be ready for a legitimate relationship. “I have a lot of growing up to do before I’m ready to be a spiritual leader.” He wants to learn how to date seriously and with intentionality. Not with me; we established that. But with someone. Someday.

And he wanted to affirm me. Admitting that he spoke too harshly, he wanted me to hear that I am:

Encouraging, Supportive, Uplifting

Sweet, Kind, Thoughtful

Honest, Authentic, Real

Smart, Savvy, Successful

My encouraging nature is his favorite thing about me. “You believe in me in ways no one else does. You believe in me more than I believe in myself.” Yes, I do. That’s because I believe you are teachable, self-reflective, and genuinely want to be a godly  man. And when we align our desires with God’s, we can be sure that we have what we have asked of Him (1 John 5).

I’m glad we reconciled. His friendship is one I did not want to lose.

If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. -Matthew 5:23-24

Authentically Aurora

Notes to Self

Sometimes during long conference calls at work, I doodle or write notes to myself in the back pages of my office notepads. Occasionally I flip through these back pages to rediscover the partially-coherent thoughts or ideas I jotted down while trying to remain conscious during one mind-numbing meeting or another.

This morning, I came across these two pages that I evidently scribbled back in August. When I read them today, I marveled at the fact that I knew five months ago what it has taken me until this year to begin implementing in earnest.

On an unrelated note, you will see that I tend to write my letter “r”s as capitals, even in the middle of woRds. Apparently this means I am defiant and don’t like to be told what to do.

Yep, sounds about right.

“The defiant person doesn’t like to be ‘managed’ and is always alert for any sign of unjust authority…Usually it takes the form of a capital letter… Most handwriting analysts talk about the defiant k… the ‘go-to-hell’ k… We have also included a capital R in the middle of a letter… Defiance is a defense of the ego. It says, ‘I defy you to criticize me, to attempt to hurt me.’ …This personality trait is VERY common among Americans… based on the overwhelming need to defy the odds, face the threats, and stomp down those who would steal our freedom… Americans will continue to be defiant. It is in the genes.”

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Journal 2

Authentically AuRoRa

Helping Hand Award

Helping HandWhen I get outrageously bored and feel stuck in the mundane, I start creating – doodling in meetings, daydreaming during long commutes, or developing song lyrics while trying to stay conscious during a particularly tedious conversation.

Actually, when I get really sad… or mad… or happy… I start creating. I’m an artist. That’s what I do. But when I get bored is when I really, REALLY start to daydream and think about possibilities of what COULD be. It’s my way to escape the present.

And, in the past few weeks and months of trying to escape the present, I’ve been mulling over the idea of developing my own blogging award. I was thinking I’d call it the Encouraging Blogger Award… or something catchy like Aurora’s Award for Affirmation… or something not-so-catchy like the Not-So-Bitter Blogger Award.

But then – THEN! – I got nominated by Brighton Bipolar for this thing called the Helping Hand Blogger Award (thanks, Brighton!). I didn’t even know it existed! But it’s exactly what I’ve been daydreaming about because I’ve been wanting to let a number of you know just how much your comments and feedback mean to me.

The Helping Hand Blogger Award is meant to recognize bloggers who not only write encouraging, inspiring blogs, but also take the time to invest in their fellow bloggers through kind and insightful comments. This blogging community has been such a blessing to me over the past year; you really have become family. The best kind of family: the kind of family I never actually have to meet… or go on vacations with… or talk to about politics over Thanksgiving dinner.

But seriously. Thanks, dear blogging friends, for your support and encouragement over the past several months. A special shout out to my Helping Hand nominees, who I hope to meet someday, either on this side of heaven or the next:

Hugs,
Authentically Aurora