Train Thoughts: Resting Up & Pouring Out

It’s Tuesday.

Penprints on a Tuesday? What heresy is this okay, it’s not actually heresy, but whateva? Well, hopefully you’ll understand by the end of this post why this is landing in your inbox on a Tuesday.

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I didn’t spend Easter at home. Instead, I hopped on a southbound train to visit some beloved people of mine: my brother, Luke, at college; my good friend, Allie (also at college); my grandparents; and my cousins.

I was excited for it in my head–I miss them all, Luke especially–but I was tired, not physically but emotionally and spiritually. It wasn’t one big thing that wore me down, just many smaller things falling on me, steadily eroding.

And I was filling up nearly every day in my quiet time with God, but it was never quite enough to carry me through, like I couldn’t get completely full, like it was never enough to compensate for how much emotional and spiritual energy I was spending. So I ran aground, came up dry, emptied, tired, and disheartened.

But then my train arrived.

Allie picked me up at the train station, looking like the perfect picture of all my summer memories of her and driving a car called “Karen”. She opened her home to me and let me stay with her while I was in town; I hadn’t seen her in months.

The first chunk of time was spent with Allie, catching up with her and learning about her life over crepes (I didn’t even know what crepes were until she showed me).

The Story of How I Learned About Crepes:

Allie: “Want to get bubble tea and crepes?”

Me internally: “What’s a crepe?”

Me externally: “Sure!”

Allie: “What kind of crepes do you like?”

Me: “Oh, you know, um….”

Allie: *laughing* “Do you know what a crepe is?”

Me: “Ugh, no.”

Allie: *laughing more* “Rosalie! Okay, they’re…..”

Conclusion: crepes are scrumptious.

We sang Rend Collective in the car. We ate watermelon cookies and laughed when my teeth turned red. We tried on bunches of sunglasses. We talked about God and what we’re learning and how we’re actually doing. We took Polaroids and sang while she strummed her guitar.

And it was good.

Then I was with Luke. I finally met all of his roommates and saw him lead his small group. I saw the place where he works (Luke At Work is such a cute Luke) and saw the airport where he learns. I laid on the floor of his room while he read me reviews of the laptop he found to replace my dead one. For almost an hour. Because he made it his personal mission to find me the best laptop. We rode his motorcycle and went hiking and stared at the sky and talked about church and love and life and hard things and blessings and happy things. He took me to a Casting Crowns concert, and we worshiped together to some of my favorite music.

There were so many other good things about this trip.

I spent a night with my grandparents and heard my Grandpa play his trumpet on Resurrection Sunday. I saw my cousins and we shared music and took a walk and laughed so much and cried a little too.

But it was good.

I went into this trip with nothing to give, but I came out of it full. It was rest, the rest that I so needed. It was a blessing to me, and the Holy Spirit did great work in me. He reminded me of my own weakness, my hopeless dependence on Him, my inability to do any good on my own, and He taught me the value of a pause.

Sooner or later, we all run out.

We all end up like a charred, crumbling match, essentially useless because we’ve burned up, we’ve spent ourselves.

And that’s why we need to take time away. We need to step back for a few days and relearn how to be still in God, we need to be away from those who drain and surround ourselves with those who fill.

Guys, using yourself up is not noble.

Never retreating is not godly or any shade of right–it’s arrogant and detrimental to your ministry. And you don’t necessarily need to go on a weekend trip to regroup every time you’re tired, but you do need to be intentional about taking rests and serious about seeking the filling of the Holy Spirit.

But we are not filled for our good alone.

We are filled to pour into others. And when we run low, we seek rest. And when we rest, we seek filling again. And when we’re full, we empty ourselves in others. And then we rest, and the cycle goes around and around.

Resting. Filling. Emptying.


These have just been all the jumbled thoughts that have been running through my head while I rode trains home today.

Tell me what you’re thinking.

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – go listen to Train Station by The Gray Havens because the imagery takes my breath away and makes my soul happy.

The Truth About Stress

I’m a bit stressed right now (translation: I’m a lot stressed right now).

Mainly because I have a deadline for Beasts (my novel WIP, just so you new kids know), and I still have a disgustingly huge amount of work left to do on it… like finish Draft Three (aka: The Draft That Wants to Kill Me), do a quickie Draft Four (to fix Draft Three’s issues and kill off a few more characters), give it to my alpha readers, evaluate and apply their feedback, and then send it off to my editor… all before the end of April (my dear editor, if you’re reading this, now you know that when I said I’d give it to you “April-ish” it really meant “the end of April”).

Oh, and there’s the bit about how my computer decided to depart from this world… and I haven’t backed it up since December (DECEMBER). And the flash drive I used to back up all my documents in December (that’s three whole months ago for those of us who struggle with math) is winning a game of hide and seek (that means I can’t find it). And we’re not even 100% sure that I’ll be able to recover my files—including 80% of The Draft That Wants to Kill Me—from my now dead laptop.

So here I am with an eye-twitch and an excess of cortisol (that’s a stress hormone for those of us who weren’t sure). I don’t lead a ultra-stressful life, but recently, I’ve been stressed (trust me, I know it’s my own fault). So, I want to chat with you lovelies about stress (who wants to see how many times I can use the word “stress” in one post?).

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First things first:

Stress is not a bad thing.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Say what now, Rosalie? I’m pretty sure the ulcer I’ve got is a bad thing.” Okay, so ulcers are no bueno, but that aside, let’s take a closer look at some different kinds of stress because it’s not one dimensional.

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this is quite possibly my favorite gif of ever; expect frequent use of said gif.

First, we just have good ol’ Stress: physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.

Then we have Distress: great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble; to be subject to pressure, stress, or strain; embarrass or exhaust by strain.

Now, before you say: “Aha! Stress=bad, Rosalie!”, let’s look at one more kind of stress. Eustress: stress that is deemed healthful or giving one a feeling of fulfillment. If you look at the roots of eustress, you’ll find that it literally means Good Stress. Boom.

Guys, stress isn’t always bad because it can be useful.

Stress pushes us to grow in so many ways. Right now, stress is pushing me to write every single day (because I kind of hate my story right now and wonder if it will ever get to a place where I’m happy with it and I don’t want to look at it or think about it so I’d rather not work on it because I hate it #fulldisclosure). Stress is pushing me to be more intentional with how I manage my time (i.e. – cutting out the excess and figuring out what can wait and what can’t). Stress is pushing me to grow up and say no to some things. Stress is pushing me to evaluate what things are most important (i.e. – relationships=most important; painting=less important). Because I’m stressed, I’m growing and maturing more quickly than I do when I’m comfortable.


So stress can serve a galvanizing purpose, but it can also be awfully distressing (see what I did there?). Here are the things that have helped me deal with stress.

Pray.

This is a no-brainer, but apparently I don’t have a brain half the time since this is one that I struggle to remember. Listen up, peeps: God is altogether divine, unthinkably vast, and wholly inscrutable, and yet He is interested in us and our problems—no matter how petty or dire. In all His supreme significance (there would be nothing without Him), He chooses to look down on all of our insignificance and care. And that, friends, is a mind-blowing reality.

So take your stress and give it to Him. Go before Him and explain your frustration and angst. I’ve found it’s an oddly humbling thing to tell God, not only that you’re stressed, but also why. Share your heart with Him. Ask for peace. Ask for energy. Ask for wisdom. Most importantly, ask Him to use your stress to somehow bring Him glory and bring about His will in your life.

Work the problem and set a deadline.

This is where you take a step back and evaluate your situation. This is where you strategize and lay out a plan to complete the task(s) that are the sources of the most stress.

For instance, I’ve had to look at The Draft That Wants to Kill Me and set a ballpark of how many words are left in the story to be written. After I got a general idea of how much story is left (it’s too much, guys), I figured out how much I have to write every day to finish this draft in time to get all the other work done on this novel before I send it to my editor. Also, I set a deadline. It was last Friday, but the laptop said bye-bye and delayed things. So instead of a date this time, I decided that I can’t see the new Beauty and the Beast movie until I finish this draft. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so motivated.

So come up with a plan, set a deadline of sorts, and do it.

Take small bites.

I’m not talking about food here, people (though I think we all kind of wish I was). I’m talking about being realistic and not overwhelming yourself. My tendency is to look at the source of my stress, decide it can’t possibly be done because there’s soooooo much to do, and then promptly shut down (usually with much wailing and gnashing of teeth). This. cannot. happen.

Don’t look at all the work you have left to do; look at what you can do today. Stay in the now. If you look too far ahead, you’ll get yourself tangled up in distress. Focus on what has to happen today and leverage the eustress.

Take calculated breaks.

This is not license to get tired of working on your project (or whatever it is) and then go cruise around Pinterest for three and a half hours. This does not mean that you should work for five hours and then take five for a snack.

This means work for 25 minutes, take a ten minute break, and then work for another 25 minutes (or something along those lines). Plan when you get your breaks and then set a timer when they start so that you don’t go over on your time.

Do something you find relaxing for your break. Go for a quick walk. Strum your ukulele. Do some stretches. Be a psycho and do a high interval workout. Drink a glass of water. Cuddle with your cat. Read a chapter in a book. Whatever it is you do for fun/relaxation, do it briefly as a break from your project.

Oh, and for the love of all that is good, don’t procrastinate.

Procrastination is usually the reason I end up stressed in the first place. I put off whatever project it is until it becomes impossible (in my mind) to complete, and then I shut down and procrastinate more.

Please don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating when stressed is like giving your rabbit caffeine (Out of Time series reference, yo); it only makes things worse. Much worse.

Check your attitude and watch your mouth.

When one (ahem, you and me) is stressed, it’s easy to snap at people and then justify it because one (you and me) is sooooooo stressed. Excuse me while I tune my violin and find some cheese to go with the whine. I’m so painfully guilty when it comes to this. For some reason, I think I get a free pass for being unkind or short because I’m stressed.

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when stressed, I am Toothless from this gif

Spoiler alert: we don’t get off free and clear for being waspish because we’re stressed. Don’t blame other people for your stress. Sure, it may be their “fault” if you look at it from a certain light, so don’t look at it in that light.

Take ownership for your stress. Take ownership for your attitude. Take ownership for the words that come out of your mouth. Don’t let your strained emotions rule your mind or your mouth.

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when stressed, choose to be Toothless from this gif


Now I need to get back to being stressed about my novel (I’m thinking eustress thoughts).

What do you do when you get stressed? Do you get stressed (if not, spill all your wonderful secrets in the comments so that we peasants may learn from you)? What things stress you out?

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – profuse apologies to all you lovelies who have taken the time to comment on my last two posts. I’ve read (and reread and deeply appreciate) your comments and will be replying forthwith.

P.P.S. – did anyone count how many times I used the word “stress”? I think it’s somewhere around a lot.

55 Things to do on a Rainy Day

In case you hadn’t gathered it from the title, this post is all about things to occupy your time on a rainy day. Now, the fact that I, a Wisconsinite, am creating such a list at the end of February is a sure sign that something has gone horribly wrong with winter (aka: it has rained far more than it has snowed this month). Seriously, go back to May, spring, I don’t want you here. So, without further angry mutterings, here are 55 things to do on a rainy day.

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Note: This post is set in the romantic world where none of us have jobs or school, so it’s pretty swanky.

  1. Light some candles (with matches).
  2. Sleep in.
  3. Wear sweat pants.
  4. Drink hot chocolate (with whipped cream).
  5. Walk around the house with a blanket draped over your shoulders like it’s a cloak.
  6. Listen to nostalgic music.
  7. Paint.
  8. Wish that it was snowing and not raining.
  9. Open a window and listen to the sound of the rain, and I mean really listen to it. The softness in a gentle drizzle and the cacophony of a downpour.
  10. Read aloud (to yourself or to a family member… or the goldfish).
  11. Snuggle with a pet (not the goldfish).
  12. Make a mind map.
  13. Make a new collection in your bullet journal.
  14. Write in your journal.
  15. Stand (or dance) in the rain without an umbrella and enjoy getting wet and cold and being alive.
  16. Read a book in one sitting.
  17. Read another book.
  18. Write a letter.
  19. Watch a documentary.
  20. Take a bath.
  21. Walk through the wet grass barefoot (you can take a classy umbrella this time and enjoy hearing the raindrops hit the canvas).
  22. Rearrange your bookshelves.
  23. Write a flash fiction.
  24. Call a friend—not text or email. Call. With a phone. And talk. Over the phone.
  25. Think weighty thoughts (very concise, this activity).
  26. Go through old family pictures
  27. Watch family videos.
  28. Clean something (so that you feel productive).
  29. Take a nap (because who really wants to be productive on a rainy day?).
  30. Try your hand at blackout poetry.
  31. Sneak around the house like you’re a secret agent (be sure to use hand signals and bird calls).
  32. Watch a movie that will make you cry (because crying = good somehow).
  33. Pull on the workout shorts, lace up the shoes, and do something that makes you sweat (I was going to do say something that’ll make you sore later, but I thought that might not spur many people on to exercise…).
  34. Set out a container to collect some rainwater. You’ll want something with as wide a mouth as possible so that you can collect as much water as possible.
  35. Grab a shoe, some armor, and a flame thrower and go hunt your household spiders.
  36. Make your day a musical and sing while performing random tasks.
  37. Try some stretches.
  38. Go through your closet and take out the clothes you don’t like much anymore.
  39. Put your jammies on at 3 in the afternoon.
  40. Send a surprise care package to someone.
  41. Give your mailperson some coffee and chocolate.
  42. Find out which Meyer-Briggs type you are.
  43. Cross stitch a constellation.
  44. Make a teacup garden.
  45. Or make teacup candles.
  46. String up white Christmas lights in your room.
  47. Go for a drive.
  48. Have your cat knight you and then make a grand speech about it (this one’s a must).
  49. Talk to God, and I mean talk to Him, not at Him. Don’t just ask for things, tell Him why you love Him and why you’re thankful for rainy days and time to think and time to reflect on Him. Ask Him questions and then be quiet and listen for His answers. If you get silence, open your Bible and see if He answers you there.
  50. Eat peanut butter by the spoonful.
  51. Reorganize your room (and maybe even declutter a little *gasp*).
  52. Learn how to play a new song.
  53. Do a puzzle.
  54. Dress to the nines and go to WalMart.
  55. Bake something mouthwatering.

And that’s all I got for today, kids.

What do you like to do on a rainy day? Will you take any of my (clearly fantastic) ideas? Do you like rain, or would you prefer snow?

~ Rosalie out <3

P.S. – today is my dad’s birthday! So, a shout out to him because he reads every single one of my blog posts to the bitter end and is a huge encouragement to me. :)

A Single’s Guide to Surviving Valentine’s Day

Twas the day before Valentine’s Day, and all the lovebirds were planning. And all the singles were sighing, all too aware of their loneliness, wallowing in self-pity.

*insert long, uncomfortable silence*

Ugh, singles, peeps, don’t be one of those singles.  Now, in order to help us all not be one of those singles, I have compiled a survival guide to Valentine’s Day. This is going to revolutionize your SAD (Single’s Awareness Day). Spoiler alert: sarcasm and gifs.

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Step 1: Comfort food.

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This one is practically a no-brainer. Bury your loneliness in a bag of Dove chocolates or in a carton of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream or a frozen pizza. Or all three (I vote all three). This step is essential. Gluttonous gorging obviously helps stifle those feelings of inadequacy and ugliness. So hop in the car and shoot over to your local Comfort Food Supply and pick up your choice in of scrumptious snacks to drown your sorrows.

Step 2: Netflix.

netflix 2.gifComfort food in hand, settle in for an evening of binge-watching. This is obviously a very constructive use of your Valentine’s night as it numbs you to any sort of feeling. Of course, even better than your favorite TV show is any mildly romantic movie that will remind you of relationship bliss and your own relationship-less misery. When feelings of sadness come, just keep eating those potato chips. This is sound logic, peeps.

Step 3: Solitude.

 

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When you’re feeling lonely it is obviously best to be alone. This = perfect sense. All of your dating/engaged/married friends probably already have plans, and let’s face it, you’re (of course) the only single in your friend group. And even if you did have any single friends, they’d prefer to wallow in their singleness alone. And don’t expect an invite to anything from any of your hitched friends; Valentine’s Day is obviously the only day they can do anything remotely romantic (oops; that might have been shots fired).

Step 4: Facebook/Instagram.

Now that you’ve watched three Nicholas Sparks movies (because they are the epitome of worldly romance) and eaten an entire package of Oreos, it’s time to hit Facebook and Instagram. About this time, everyone who is in a relationship will being posting about their magical, romantic, etc. etc. night with their precious lovey-dovey. This is, of course, the time you want to be on Facebook and Instagram to catch all of their wonderful, sappy, my-bae-is-so-perfect posts. This is good for you because you will feel even more alone. (Warning: this step could prove hazardous to your computer.)

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Pop in another cookie and keep scrolling.

Step 5: Self-examination.

Now that you’re physically exhausted (oh, look, it’s 2 in the morning) and precarious emotionally, it’s time to dig into some good self-examination. Pull out the journal or maybe whip out a mirror and take stock. Obviously, this is the best time to look at yourself and figure out why exactly you have no significant other, why you haven’t found that elusive other half. After you’ve wasted a good hour (at least) loathing yourself….

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… slip off to sleep on a pillow of tears. Congratulations. You’ve survived Valentine’s Day (sort of).

Let’s drop a heart shaped bookend on this post.

How will you be spending your Valentine’s Day? Who here finds this survival guide helpful (correct answer: no one because we’re all well-adjusted adults, right?)?

P.S. – I spent too much time laughing while writing this post, and I hope it brought some chortles to peeps of all different relationship statuses.

P.P.S. – I used “obviously” too many times…. No, just kidding, you can never use that word too many times. Obviously.

Why Winter

We are nearing the end of January, just about to slide into the month of love and romance and chocolate and all that jazz (aka: February, in case you didn’t know). And we are also in the middle of winter (at least, those of us north of the equator). Now, there are those among us (I shall refrain from naming them) who do not properly appreciate winter.

This is an affront to me okay so “affront” may be a little strong, but details.  I love winter. It is the best of all four seasons. This is a fact. Period. No argument can sway me because this is truth: winter is spring, summer, and fall’s superior. But, alas, there are those who don’t agree with me; simply put: they are wrong. And this is post is to tell you why (and because a blog on only serious things would be boring).

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First of all, I’m not going to disparage the other seasons no, actually, I probably will. This post is solely about the winter’s virtues and the other seasons’ shortcomings. Note: part of the reason I’m writing this is because it is currently 45 degrees outside, and it’s been raining for the last week like it’s spring. These are great, depressing crimes against winter, and I hope to remind myself that most winters aren’t like this one.

I am a great lover of the cold, and because I live in the wilds of Wisconsin, it can get pretty cold (in 2014, we had more than 40 days below zero. Boom.). I can’t stand the heat and sweat of summer. The sticky, smelly damp that clings to the skin when the air temperature rises above 75 degrees. The humidity that suffocates you the instant you step outside. But it isn’t so with winter. It’s crisp and clear and cold. The first inhale that sends frost through your lungs and color to your cheeks and reminds you that you are alive.

And there are the other things that come along with the cold. Fuzzy socks to slide around on the hardwood and tile. Soft slippers to pull over chilled feet. Cozy blankets to burrow under. Hot chocolate with whipped cream to sip. Hats to cover messy hair and keep ears warm. Scarves to wind and tie in fun knots. Fires to start and then admire. Frozen lakes and ponds to dance on and walk across. So many wonderful things come with winter’s cold, including snow.

Who in their right mind does not like snow? From heavy, packable snow to powdery flakes, it’s magical. Fall ends in death, people, that’s all there is to it. Sure, the colors of fall are pretty, but then everything ends up naked and dead and ugh. Snow is the blanket that covers fall’s crimes and brings beauty back to the world. Waking up to the blinding brightness of sunlight on snow is one of my favorite things. The colors of winter, the whites and the pale blues and the blacks, are exquisite, crystalline.

Speaking of the sun, yes, winter days are short, and people can find the darkness depressing, but winter is the only time when many people actually see the sun rise over the horizon oh, look, another strike against summer: no one besides my dad wakes up at four in the morning and so no one besides my dad sees the sunrise in the summer, so there, summer, with your coveted long days. But winter sunrises can come around seven, and there’s little that can compare with a fresh fall of snow set on fire by the sun’s rising rays.

Winter is a time of sleeping, when the earth rests. It’s a time of soup and naps. It’s a time of learning and stillness. It’s the time of quiet before life explodes again in the spring.

Mmmmmmm. Now the temperature just needs to drop below freezing again so that it actually feels like winter. Anyway, those are some of the reasons that I find winter so enchanting, so much better than all the other seasons combined.

What about you? Do you love winter too (the correct answer is yes)? If not *gasp*, what’s your favorite season? Why? Or, do you not care about seasons at all?

P.S. – This was a short peeps. I actually kept it under a thousand words even though I can sing winter’s virtues for days.