The Truth about Funks

It’s way too easy, when you slip into a funk, to believe that you’re alone in your funk. Your funk is yours and yours only. Everyone around you lives happy, fulfilling lives and they never, ever fall into funks of their own, because funks are the sort of thing that only … ever … happen … to … you. 

You’re a lonely, sad person stuck living in a happy world. 

When you catch yourself in that frame of mind, do yourself and the world a favor and say, “Self. Shut up.” It’s a load of crock. Hooey. Asininity. Untruth. 

Be your funk ever so great, there is always, always, always someone out there walking around under a bigger cloud … and with better reason.

Maybe your office mate just lost her grandmother. Maybe your roommate is feeling worn down after months of working an irregular schedule. Maybe your dear friend is coping with a death in the family. Maybe that acquaintance just called off his wedding, and another is trying to go back to school, and a third just quit her job because she couldn’t take it anymore and is trying to figure out what exactly she wants to do with her life.  

Maybe you’ve been hurting people’s feelings and pushing loved ones away while you’ve been stuck in your funk, because you’re so busy being there you’ve lost sight of your own loveableness. I’m just saying, it’s a distinct possibility. 

Fortunately, funks pass.

And in the meantime you know that people are praying for you. One morning you go to Mass and discover that someone had it offered just for you — just because. Another day your sister’s boyfriend lights a candle for you in his church in another state because he heard you might need it. One evening you get a text from your best friend that just says, “Just because.” 

And then one night you come home from work and your amazing roommate has cleaned out the refrigerator till it sparkles and looks like this: 

Image

And that’s just kind of awesome. 

Funk or no funk, God is good. Love goes on regardless of feeling. And you never have any excuse to close in on yourself and cry that no one cares. That stopped being acceptable when you were fifteen, and it’s never been true. 

-Mabel

 

Advertisements

I’m grown up.

This question has come up in several of my conversations over the past several weeks, so I’m putting it here to get your thoughts.

When can we stop calling ourselves “young” adults and simply be adults?

Is the transition to “actual” adulthood marked only by marriage and having babies, or can we acknowledge some other markers of adulthood in a society increasingly marrying later? Do I have to live my life on pause because I haven’t yet met someone I’d like to spend the rest of it with? I’m willing to assume marrying and having children aren’t the only markers of adulthood, as I know plenty of very grown-up people who are neither married nor parents.

So I can only suppose that being a full-fledged adult — as opposed to a young adult or, if you prefer the politically correct and currently acceptable terminology, an “emerging adult” — boils down to deciding it’s time to take the proverbial bull by the horns and BE one already.

I moved away from home almost 10 years ago. I graduated from college and entered the American workforce. I passed all the age milestones — 18, 21, and 25 (the last milestone being the ability to rent a car at standard prices. Oh, the things we wait for…).

I am an adult.

I have a full-time job.
I pay monthly rent and have my name on a lease.
I pay taxes. Lots and lots of taxes.
I also pay into Social Security. You’re welcome.
I own a car, which I have to take in for regular oil changes and inspections and tire rotations and fluid replacements.
I am fully responsible for buying my own dish soap, shampoo, bedding, clothing, furniture, kitchen utensils, groceries, and anything and everything else that people who are grown up have to provide for themselves.
I have insurance.
I pay for my own phone plan.
I save for retirement.
I worry about the future.
I’m responsible for making and keeping my own dental, vision, and doctor appointments.
I cook for myself and mow my own lawn.
I set up appointments as needed with the plumber, carpenter, locksmith, exterminator, and any other speciality worker who comes in to fix things around the house that get broken.
I volunteer my time at church and in the local community and make it a point to be there for family and friends.

Do any of these responsibilities add up to the responsibility of being a parent? Admittedly, no. Does that make them somehow not “real” responsibilities? Well, how about I just pretend they’re not real for a few weeks, and I’ll let you know how that goes…from my parents’ house or my grandmother’s basement, where I’ll be living after I lose my job and can’t pay my own bills anymore.

Being an adult is not a matter of all the right external circumstances magically falling into place around you. (I may never get married. Does that mean I’ll never grow up?) Nor is it simply living by a list of responsibilities, be they raising children or just dragging yourself to and from work every day. I’ve known plenty of parents who needed to grow up. I also encounter plenty of people my age who never got around to taking full responsibility for the fact of their adulthood. At the end of the day, being an adult boils down to deciding to be one, and then acting like it.

I am not old or wise, and I admit that. I got nothin’ on my friends who are married and raising children. But I’m calling it, people. I’m an adult.

From now on I’m dropping the extra label and just telling it like it is.

–Mabel

Job Interviews (Rated Unpleasant for Everyone)

It’s really funny being a grown-up. 

Remember when you were a teenager interviewing for your first job at….say….Target. You filled out a piddly little application online that took you about 15-20 minutes to complete while working leisurely. You got a call back and were scheduled for a 15-20 minute interview. You rummaged through your closet, found a nice pair of khakis and a clean business-casual-style shirt, put the two on, brushed your hair, and off you went and were probably offered the job on the spot. 

Oh, those were the days. 

Today I got a call for an interview which I scheduled for tomorrow. I know, what was I thinking?? Oh that’s right….I was thinking that I need a job. But I digress. I promptly googled everything I could about the organization for which I’ll be interviewing, I updated my “questions” list in my oh-so-professional black leather resume folder, I prepared myself for the dreaded question: “Tell me about yourself!” And I rummaged through my purse to find my clear nose ring so as to look slightly more professional. 

And then I stopped dead in my tracks as I remembered with horror: NONE OF MY CLOTHES FIT ME ANYMORE. 

This could pose a problem. 

I promptly ran upstairs to where all of my clothes are still in suitcases in my bedroom and began the never-tidy task of diving through all of them to pull out something – ANYTHING – that would work. In the end, I had a very small stack of 3 skirts that MIGHT fit, but were either old and too big or hand-me-downs from friends and too small, about 2 shirts, 2 cardigans, a blouse, and a dress, and a very large pile of all the rest of my clothes. I’ll deal with that later (maybe).  

Next: time to gather as many opinions as I can. First up, call my older sister who is basically a wealth of knowledge of all things professional and is in general my go-to person. She didn’t answer. (Way to not love me, Mabel.) No big deal, call the next person on my list. No answer again. This went on for about 4 more tries. I gave up.

I then saw that I had a Facebook message from a friend, so I decided to ask her opinion. She was of the mindset that skirts should never EVER be worn for an interview. Well how the heck is that supposed to help me now? I have a grand total of zero pants other than jeans and khakis, and I’m not 16 anymore. 

By now it’s about 4 in the afternoon, and I’m almost frantic. I have a quick Skype date with Mom, show her the ensemble I’m considering, and decide after wearing the skirt for a bit that it is uncomfortable and rides up funny when I sit. Not good. Soooooo….off I toddle to J.C.Penney, where I try on at least 20 skirts and slacks, and (after another failed attempt at calling Mabel – you’re really dropping the ball today, hon) decided finally on a nice grey skirt. SUCCESS! 

And then I get home and decide I’m probably going to pair it with a white blouse and dark purple sweater and I’ll cross the accessories bridge when I come to it. (Too much information? Sorry. I like clothes!)

Yippee! Wardrobe malfunction solved. 

And now I have to try to remain as calm as possible for the next 16 hours (give or take) until I actually show up for the interview. So what do I do? I watch youtube interview videos, of course! 

Like this one

(So hey, that being said, if you have a minute tomorrow, then say a quick prayer for me, will you? I’d greatly appreciate it!)

More to follow…….

-Virginia

Friendship: Time to Get Choosey

I had a conversation with a friend last night about the ebb and flow of relationships, not just in our DC area “young adults” circles but throughout our lives. This conversation followed on a Facebook “friend” request I received yesterday afternoon from a college classmate I haven’t spoken to or heard from in nearly three years. And this got me thinking about how often we forget to be purposeful in our friendships. 

Of course, most people in our lives are going to come and go. We can only sustain so many active relationships at once, after all. Sure, we can look to some people as givens — our parents, for instance, and our siblings. If you get married, your spouse and any children you may have are supposed to be pretty set as well. (For simplicity’s sake, I’m not talking about the overall culture and family breakdown here, I’m assuming relatively stable familial ties in this.) But friends?

It’s easy to take friends for granted. Especially in the DC area where friend “groups” are constantly emerging and morphing and fading away again, we tend to glom on to this or that crowd for a time, then seek a new one when it fizzles out. That’s fine for weekend plans, but friendships and friend “groups” are not the same. 

Which brings me back to a different set of conversations I had last week with different friends on the same theme, tied back to choice. Friendships — I mean real, person-to-person, caring-for-the-other friendships — have to be intentional, especially in these topsy-turvy, constantly changing single years. If you go for convenience in your friendships, you won’t be able to hold onto any of your friends for very long. I think too many of us look for love in only one kind of relationship: the romantic kind. But real love between friends involves real self-gift, and we can’t overlook that, or set it aside as somehow not important.

I’ve been amazed and humbled throughout my life, but in this year especially, by the plethora of wonderful friends God has put in my path. And now, as more and more of them are moving on to new chapters and new places, I’m touched by how regularly they maintain some level of contact with me. I used to think friendships all faded away naturally with time. Granted, moving all the time didn’t help. But more importantly, I never made the choice to stay friends with people after I moved away, and they did not choose to remain friends with me. We were not intentional about our friendships, so they faded out.  

Of course, a friendship has to be based on something substantial to last. If we’re friends because we play soccer together or watch football or talk shop after work, or go to the same school, sing in the same choir, etc., the relationship will most likely fizzle out when we can’t do those things together anymore. And that’s fine. It’s good to have friends of all types and all levels of closeness. But if you haven’t really taken the time to choose any of your friends in a particular way, to spend time and go deep and really build bonds that can last, then I challenge you to do so. Look at your friendships now. What are they based on? Is it a mutual love of a thing or an activity — or underlying all that, is there a mutual love of a Person?

Don’t be afraid to be selective about the people you choose to get close to, either. My lifetime goal is always to “friend up.” Make sure your friends are people who will help you become better, even as you help them the same way.

Part of purposeful living is being purposeful (or intentional) about your relationships — all of your relationships. For myself, I realized recently that I was so busy trying to be “friends” with so many people I was losing sight of the friends I’d really like to keep as the years go on. I’m trying to pull back and focus on those relationships. I’ve had to select the few I will make time for every week, no matter what. I’m also trying to be better about keeping in touch with dear friends who have moved far away — even if it’s just a quick text message on a Tuesday morning or a shared post via Facebook, I want them to know I’m thinking about them. Ultimately I’d love to get back into letter-writing, but I’m afraid we’re not quite there yet.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve realized I need to work on is praying for my friends every day. I pray in a general way, “God bless all my friends,” but specific, intentional prayer for particular friends is so important. 

Friendship is a two-way street, of course, as we all know. And the old saying is too true: to have a friend, you must be one. And in order to be a friend, you have to make and re-make that choice on a daily basis, to put yourself out there, to give of yourself, and to love with intention.

Yes, many relationships in our lives will come and go, but if you’re realizing you can’t hold down a friend for more than a year or two, look at your intention. Maybe it’s time for a gut check: dive a little deeper and make some firmer commitments to at least one or two relationships. Again, friend “groups” are not the same thing as friends. Groups come and go. But real friends can last a lifetime…if you’re intentional about it. 

-Mabel

Image

 

Now When You Say “Purposeful Living”……

Purposeful living. How would one even define “Purposeful Living?” I suppose it looks different from one person to the next.

I can tell you what it’s most likely NOT, though!

It’s probably NOT sitting in your living room browsing the internet for dresses to wear to sing in a wedding in June while surrounded by the last of your clutter that needs to be sorted and either packed, donated, or removed from your life altogether.

It’s probably NOT using your brief unemployed stint to watch TV marathons all day (although that is great fun, and I don’t know what I’d do without Shawn, Gus, and the Santa Barbara Police Department for company!)

It’s probably NOT having a daily interior battle with yourself over whether or not you WANT to go to Mass, especially when there are at least three local Masses, all at different times of the day. When the Mass is so very accessible, why on earth would there be any question in my mind as to whether or not I want to go? And yet I think I average maybe one day a week (apart from Sundays, of course) when I’m off for at least three days.

I’d say there are probably a million ways I could have used my time much more wisely. For instance, I could have completed all my packing in about 2-3 days if I had tried. I could be reading some mind-expanding literature. I could be writing a song (okay probably not that last one, since my previous attempts at songwriting have been about on par with Mary Had a Little Lamb…). I could be perfecting my skills on the guitar. I could be volunteering at a soup kitchen or a local homeless shelter. I could be volunteering at Church. I could be out saving unborn babies.

But am I? Nope. And that begs the question “why not?” Good question!

Probably because the one thing that keeps us as humans from living more purposefully is our very selves. We are naturally selfish creatures. We find it much easier to think about ourselves and our problems than others’. It’s so much easier to stay inside our own heads than to try to understand the heads of others. When faced with the option to either stay at home or do something we enjoy or to get out of our comfort zones and do something for someone else, how often do we choose the former? “It’s too far away,” “It’s too late,” “It’s been a long day/week and I’m tired,” etc. These are all the excuses I use to get out of doing things I don’t want to. I don’t know what your reasons are, and they may be much better reasons than mine. I’m also not saying that every spare minute has to be spent doing something for others, but when looking back through my life, I realized with much chagrin that the amount of time I have spent for others is pitifully low compared to the time I’ve spent for me.

This “gap,” this single time, is the PERFECT time to work on serving others first. I’m no expert, but I’ve heard that marriage is filled with compromise and selflessness and continually putting your spouse and your children first. And I would hazard a guess that this doesn’t come naturally after you’re married unless it’s something that was practiced and perfected prior to entering into marital bliss.

So all that being said, I challenge you (if you haven’t already) to prayerfully consider the ways you can get out of yourself and out of your comfort zone, either to help another person or to work towards making yourself the best version of you that you can be, and to give your life more “Purpose.”

(If you already have the most purposeful existence out there, then we’re going to need a guest post from you.)

Now go forth and do great things with your day. I’m going to get back to packing. *Sigh*

–Virginia

Image

May’s Theme

It’s May already, folks. And like clockwork, the rains let up last night, leaving us a beautiful, sunny day today. Great way to start the month of Mary, no?

This brief post is simply to alert any and all would-be guest posters that this month’s theme will be: Purposeful living as an (often) aimless, single wanderer

Make of it what you will, of course, but in general we’re thinking practical. Of course the pivotal thing in living a life of purpose is having somewhere you’re going, and that somewhere should probably be heaven, and how you get there should first of all be prayer.

But for the blog, we’d love to see pieces on how you maintain focus/purpose in your daily, mundane living — whether it be keeping your schedule carefully scribbled in a planner (or an iPhone), routine trips to the gym, hobbies, plying away at your work or studies, going to bed on time, hitting snooze only once (ONCE) in the morning, clean eating, cat naps, going dancing on Friday nights — how do you keep your sense of purpose from one day to the next?

And as always, we’ll welcome posts on other topics, too. This is just to get the wheels turning if you’re looking for inspiration.