Happiness vs. Joy

Happiness vs. Joy

If you didn’t already know, I’ve been struggling this summer. I’ve gotten easily frustrated and fed up with processes that work too slow, and wind up feeling defeated and deflated. Here’s an excerpt from something I jotted down while in a serious decline:

“What am I doing? I feel like I ask myself this question a lot. At the moment, I’m a photographer for Camp Sandy Cove. While I love being back at camp, I’ve found myself already in a rut of “in-between”. What is an “in-between” rut? Well, sit back, grab a drink, and I’ll tell you. An “in-between” rut is when you hate everything. You shouldn’t, but for a split second that makes absolutely no sense, everything is useless including yourself. You hate the grass and the pavement and your own shoes and people in general. You mostly hate yourself though, because everything seems to have come from nowhere and it makes you tired and sad for no reason. It makes you question everything you do. Those of you who might confuse this with depression would be wrong. Depression would be when you question your very existence and when this feeling continues for longer than a few hours. A rut usually only lasts anywhere from 60 minutes to 24 hours.

I’m tired. So incredibly tired. The kind of tired that seeps in through your lungs and grabs you and rips you to shreds. I have no problem admitting any of this. I’m tired. But it’s not that kind of physical exhaustion you get from running around all day and taking pictures of small children. And pretending to have the energy of ten people that you obviously haven’t had in quite a while.

It’s a mental and spiritual exhaustion. A soul exhaustion that feels like everything good has just been completely wiped from the planet. All you can hope for and all you can pray for is just to make it back to your bed. I’m at a point where I just don’t care. And caring usually keeps me alive. I want to lay down in the wet grass of the soccer field and just be. Who knew I would miss the freedom that comes with being able to even do that much? Working six days a week at camp doesn’t really allow that behavior, because even on your off day, camp is thrumming with children. Compete with their whining and their screams and their “you’re in my personal space” banter.

Maybe the sun is sucking it all away. Maybe the heat and the exhaustion mix to form a messy cocktail of emotions that leave me tired and aching for something else. I keep waiting for the eminent breakdown, with tears and some horrible mental break that drives me off the edge. It hasn’t come yet. The waiting is almost as bad as the break.”

If that doesn’t give you a hint of where I’ve been at this summer, I don’t know what will. Feeling exhausted even after a good 8-9 hours of sleep, waiting for impending break down. As the summer has sprawled on, my emotional state hasn’t gotten better.

Since Chesh is my boss, that means he walks and talks me through my mid-summer evaluation. Over-all, his comments were that I was doing well at my job but needed some tweaking in certain areas. One of those things was my attitude. His comment was that while around the campers I was high energy and high smile; a good attitude and engaging. As soon as the office door closed, though, I became a grumpy, sassy, complaining person that was downright depressing.

“We need to work on that.” He said.

“I’m exhausted,” I admitted, grumbling my way into a slouch on the armchair. “And I don’t want to do this anymore. I feel worked to my limit and even though we get a day off, it never feels restful. I don’t feel re-charged. I keep waking up tired.”

“That’s what I mean. We need to work on finding something that makes you more than just happy, but gives you the re-charge you need to get through the summer.”

After a while of contemplation about this (I ended up being placed on the shuttle that Sunday, which meant a solid 8 hours as co-pilot to think things through and mull over possible ideas), I figured out it was my joy. I was certainly happy on my day off, and happy when the wifi worked, and happy when I got to use a golf cart to get around camp, but there wasn’t joy. I suppose I should say there still isn’t joy, since as I write this, I’m still working it through myself.

What brings me joy? I’ve been trying to figure it out. I think there’s a difference between those “little happys” and true joy. A little happy would be a surprise oreo cookie, or a late night trip to IHOP. These are beautiful things in and of themselves, but they offer a happy relief that usually doesn’t last very long. I need to find out what brings me joy and not just happiness.

If you have any ideas, let me know. This is a journey, after all!


The Reinhard Chronicles

The Reinhard Chronicles

After my last post, someone had commented on my Facebook page saying how much they were looking forward to reading more episodes of the Reinhard Chronicles. And since I loved that title so much, I think I’ll turn that into a thing. Being a wife is such a huge part of my life now, why not share the stuff I’m learning? And thus, let The Reinhard Chronicles begin. Continue reading “The Reinhard Chronicles”

Stream of Consciousness

There’s something burning in me. Something burning wanting to burst forth and incinerate the whole world. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for so long and I still don’t quite understand it. I don’t really like fire. Mostly because of the damage it does when it touches the skin.  I’ve seen what it can do and how such a small flame can destroy so severely. And yet….

The metaphor of fire is burning in my brain and I want to use it. Our lives come in snapshots and moments and sequences of events that weave together to form the days that turn into years. Maybe it’s because I’m getting married in 25 days and I want that new chapter of my life to begin. Maybe it’s because I hate routine. I like it at first because it gives me structure to who I am and what I’m supposed to do, but then somewhere along the way I only end up feeling trapped by it. It’s the excitement of shopping for school supplies but dreaming for Christmas break only a month later.

I’m supposed to be doing something with my life but I don’t think I know what it is anymore. I’ve had dreams and plans and actions I want to take, and like waves plowing into the sand, new ideas sweep the old ones away. What if I am never satisfied with where I am, constantly shifting like the flickering of flames? What if I will never be satisfied with the me that’s under my skin. That scares me most of all. I never want to look back and hate my life or the decisions I made. Life it too short to live that way. I want adventure but I’m terrified to take it. I want normalacy, but am  too afraid I’ll be trapped by it.

That fire in me leaves me tapping my foot impatiently for something, ANYTHING, to happen. If a bear walked by my window, I’d go outside and hug it. I feel like a hot-headed Disney princess singing about wanting more than this “provincial life”.

What am I doing? What do I want out of the world? Why do I hate walls and ceilings so much?

Being mediocre at most things leaves no lasting impression on the world. The things that make me stand out like a sore thumb only make me angrier. Having pink hair and a nose ring doesn’t change the world. Wanting to write, yet never writing, can achieve nothing in retrospect to the giant globe we’ve been thrust into. Going to school to be a designer means nothing if your talent is next to nothing. Coloring doesn’t make you an artist, and answering the phone with a smile in your voice doesn’t make you a good person. Copy and paste has no meaning in a world where your own ingenuity can make or break your career.

The ticking of a clock can be so slow, and the pounding in my head can be so fast- there isn’t a good medium for the two. My fingers don’t type fast enough and my brain can’t form coherent sentences fast enough.

The thoughts jumble together and i don’t know what they even mean anymore. what if they stop making sense to you and me and the world and everything crumbles into…..

I have to stop. Go back and fix my capitalization and spell check the mess I’ve just written. Because one misspelled word can be the difference between “a beautiful stream of consciousnesses from a brilliantly jumbled mind” or “the rant of a whiny lower-than-normal woman”. I should go back and read what I’ve written before sending it to the void. I debate it even as I write this sentence. If I do, I might just erase it all…




Am I even allowed to want something more?

Everyone everywhere wants more. Does that make it selfish? or human? To yearn is human; to lust is hypocrisy. I thought in writing this, I would be able to work through my own thoughts. In the end, I’m only more frustrated with my own inability to make sense of the jumble in my mind.

I had dreams of different things at different times in my life. Each one has been pushed away be the understanding of how the world works. Reality is a painful mistress. I’m not talented enough to grace the stage. Not driven or disciplined enough to be a writer. Not smart enough to be a veterinarian. Not artistically inclined enough to be an artist. Not adventurous enough to be a world traveler. I used to feel like I had purpose. A goal I was striving towards. Now I feel like a ship with no course, a car with no tires, a flame with no fuel. My dreams are fading away. And I don’t know what to do about it.

The Last Book I Read (Day 5)

The Last Book I Read (Day 5)


Wanna guess the last book I read? WICKED! As a theater nerd, Wicked is at the top of my list of Broadway must-see’s (closely followed by Hamilton and Next To Normal). I’ve been singing the music since high school, and after finding the books at Goodwill, I realized it was finally time to read the series that inspired the musical. I had already read Gregory Maguire’s “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” and enjoyed the twist on the classic Cinderella story. When I found out that “Wicked” was only the first in a four part series, I was excited! And THEN I found the final three at Goodwill! It took me a bit longer to find “Wicked” and when I did, I couldn’t wait to start.

Now. Let me just say this. If you enjoy the musical, and love the connection of characters  and relationship between Elphaba and Glinda, I should warn you now: The book is not like the musical. Not even close. If you loved the ending of the musical, you’ll hate the book. In fact, I was halfway through, and had to stop for a couple months just because I was so heartbroken by the “real” story in the book. When I finally picked it back up last month, I had to resolve myself to the fact that I would not be happy with what I would find.

I’ve said before that one of the keys to being a good writer, is the ability to create characters that leave an impact on the reader. That power to impact the reader and (in a way) manipulate them, is a super powerful thing.

Writing gives me peace. It gives me power. It’s violent and urgent and grotesque and REAL. I am both creator and destroyer. I am both life and death. If a character is too weak, kill them off. Make the reader suffer like I have suffered; like the character has suffered. I can offer hope on a silver tray, and then snatch it away just as quickly. That power that comes with writing is probably one of the reasons I do it. When I have no control over the pain I feel, or the emotions that have gone numb in my chest, I can write. I have control over that. Much like someone who slashes lines into their skin just to feel something, I can control everything, when I am the one writing the script. If I didn’t have my writing, I honestly don’t know if I would even be here. That’s the God-sworn truth. (Excerpt from Why I Write)

I love to write. I always have, and I hope I always will. There’s something to me about being able to create a world that doesn’t exist. I can put whoever I want into that world (including myself), and anything can happen. Not only can I create worlds, I can also invite people into them. The biggest compliment you could give to my writing is that I made you laugh out loud, hurt with my protagonist, or maybe even cry in the end. I love that by piecing words together, I create a whole new universe that has the power to seriously mess you up. In a good way. (Excerpt from Self Doubt & Other Things That Go Bump In The Night)

We’ve all seen it. The main or side character is dying. Maybe in the rain with blood streaked across their face. They’re being cradled and told “Don’t speak. You’re going to be fine!” as they choke out their final words. In movies and books, when we see a character die, there is a long moment where the tears are slipping down their cheeks as they say goodbye and then slowly drift away. But death, much like sex and exploding cars, doesn’t happen like it does in the movies. Death is quick and leaves you reeling. You think, “It all just happened so fast.” You can hardly believe you didn’t get to say goodbye. You need time to process their death and you feel numb. Gregory Maguire doesn’t write fluff. If a character dies, they die. So quickly that you wonder if you missed something. I re-read the final page of a chapter seven times and then googled it to make sure before I realized my favorite character was dead. It’s awful and the pain leaves you sitting in shock. There is no three page description of their passing into the void. They maybe get a sentence. If that.

But then again, does life offer a three page goodbye? The answer is no. No, it doesn’t. At best, death hits at the worst possible time. Gregory Maguire captures this so well in his writing. The way he treats and presents death and loss, he gives the reader no “page therapy” to work through what they just went through. There is no room to process in his pages. To do that, you have to put down the book and handle your grief in the real world.

Grief hits us all in different ways, and they even have stages worked out, so that you can better understand what you’re feeling. No one knows this better than a writer. To write good characters, to create good emotional connections, you have to understand your character and what they are feeling. The power that a writer exhibits over the creation of their character also exhibits that same power over the emotions of the reader. The more attached the reader becomes to the plot or character, the more they can be impacted by the overall story.

Whether you’re a fan of “Wicked” the musical or not, reading the book is something I would recommend. Just prepare yourself for a totally different side of The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.



20 Facts About Me (Day 2)

20 Facts About Me (Day 2)

In my vast attempt into writing more often than I do, I started a 31 Day Blog Challenge. That doesn’t mean I blog every day (because let’s be honest, I won’t), but helps me to write more often. You might want to start at Day 1 for a better understanding of what I’m doing.

Today is “20 Facts About Me”. Since I’m trying to add “stuff to the fluff” I’m going to try and list some things that not everyone might know about me. Does that mean that I’m about to dish on all of my secrets? No….yes…..sort of. I could just make a list of 20 normal things like my favorite color and dog breed. But, since I began this blog as a place to put truth and be honest, telling you my favorite color is black might not be that helpful….but then again, saying my favorite color is black tells you at least a little about me….right?

  1. My favorite color is black. And blue. And green. I realize this is an easy one to start out with because, let’s be honest: I don’t know how else to start this list.
  2. I’m getting married in 47 days. If you don’t know by now, I’m changing my last name and forever gluing my life to someone else’s. Am I scared? I used to be. I had two weeks at the beginning of January where I was terrified. Terrified of messing up his life by being the girl he picked. Thanks to my fiance, I’m no longer terrified. Just excited that I get to be with him for the rest of my life. And I think that’s a pretty awesome thing.
  3. I am a missionary kid. I grew up in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and went to the bosnian public school for four years of my life. Yes, I do speak Bosnian, and yes, I miss the fact that I have no one to speak the language with. It’s sad that I miss the mountains and the food and the language more than I miss the people. Maybe that makes me a bad missionary kid.
  4. I suck at friendships. There have been WAY too many friendships that I have let die because of the “out of sight, out of mind” rule. I also tend to get bossy or needy or I don’t try hard enough, and suddenly…. I’ve lost my best friend. Never intentionally, but one way or another, it happens. The girl I spent the majority of high school with is in college now, and we haven’t spoken in two years. I still miss her all the time, and honestly don’t know what happened between us. If I knew maybe I could fix it. I thought about inviting her to the wedding, but I honestly didn’t know if she would ever consider speaking with me again, much less come to the wedding. And even if she DID show up…I wouldn’t know what to say.
  5. I’m terrible at video games. My poor fiance is going to marry a girl who doesn’t play them and doesn’t really want to learn. I just want to skip forward to the part where I’m decently good and can whoop his butt.
  6. I love to make cake, just not eat it. I would much rather make a beautiful double strawberry cake with strawberry preserve filling and pink champagne buttercream icing, than actually eat a slice. I mean, I’ll definitely eat cake. But the only reason the cake ever gets finished is because of my roommate.
  7. I get depressed sometimes. I wrote a piece called Lines a little bit ago, and it was kind of a way to make sense of what I was feeling, and maybe tell people what was going on. I used to cut as well, and every once in a while I think about doing it again. Sometimes I give in. The only people who know about it are close friends. If my family reads this post, it’ll be the first time they find out.
  8. I’m a dog person. I absolutely love dogs!! Not the small rat-like ones, but golden retrievers, shepherds, and CORGIS. It’s a problem really. Every time me and my fiance pass a dog, he usually ends up dragging me away muttering, “You can’t have a dog. You can’t have a dog.” I already have a golden retriever, Miracle, but she lives with my parents right now, so I don’t see her too often.
    This is my golden, Miracle. She also goes by: Noodle, Booger, Mimi, Baby, and Miraculator. My father sings “Miracle of Miracles” (from Fiddler on the Roof) at her all the time.
  9. I’m a mom. Sort of…not really. I have quite a few adopted children, but the three that I actually think of as my kids are Margo, Noah, and Avery. Cheshire and I adopted them from camp last summer, and they are officially the best kids a non-mom could ask for. Margo and Noah are both writers and Avery is a theater girl. I’m so immensely proud of all of them. Nobody in this world has it easy, and it’s really hard to keep going when you feel like crawling into the woods to die. All my kids have dealt with some pretty hard stuff, and they still get up every day and fight. They’re amazing.
    my kids
    Bottom pics (left to right): Noah and I, Margo and I, and Avery with me and Cheshire
  10. I hate the phrase “My pleasure.” I realize it’s a Chick-Fil-A thing, and I still hate it. To me, if I hear it at Chick-Fil-A, it’s fine. They are required to say that because it’s part of the Chick-Fil-A experience. Cool. Whatever. But if I’m outside of Chick-Fil-A and I say “oh thank you” and you say “my pleasure”, I will immediately assume you used to work at Chick-Fil-A and it has been ingrained into your skull to say it. You don’t actually mean that it is your personal pleasure to hold that door for me, but that it’s not a problem for you and you don’t mind doing it. It doesn’t come across as thoughtful, it comes across as a habit.
  11. I am a mermaid. I realize that I don’t have a tail. And I realize I can’t breathe under water. But in my soul, I’m still a mermaid.
  12. I believe in Santa Clause. Don’t sit there and explain it to me, because you won’t change my mind. It’s not about believing that a fat little man in a red suit flies around the world in one night to bring everyone presents. It’s that I don’t like living in a world where magic doesn’t exist.
  13. My dream job as a kid was to be a vet. Mostly because of horses. The moment I found out I’d have to be in school for longer than four years, I changed my mind and went to Bible college instead.
  14. I smoke a pipe. Yep. It’s a thing. I don’t smoke it very often, but when I do, I’m usually sitting out on the back porch with Cheshire and we’re discussing theology and drinking wine. My mother hates that I do this.
  15. I threw up every night of my fourth grade year. First of all I should say that I didn’t have an eating disorder. It was my last year of Bosnian public school and my grades had dropped to almost all F’s. I was stressed the the max, and my body handled all that stress and worry by throwing up all the food I ate. I used to pray that God would just take away the sickness if I promised to spend a whole day throwing up in ten years. I used to sleep in the bathroom all the time because laying in bed just waiting for a wave of nausea was never fun. We thought I was allergic to tomato sauce for a while (since that was the food that seemed to trigger it so much) but it wasn’t until much later my mom realized what it was. Once I started homeschooling in 5th grade, I stopped being sick all the time. My parents were around much more, and my grades went back up. Every once in a while, when I’m getting really stressed out, my body handles it by throwing up. It’s probably the only reason I never dealt with an eating disorder. I spent way too much time involuntarily throwing up…why would I ever want to purposefully do it to myself?
  16. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to have kids. I don’t know why. There’s no specific reason, and it’s just a weird thing I worry about. I think it mostly stems from the false idea that you aren’t a real woman until you’ve become a mother.
  17. I close my eyes on the first drop of a roller coaster. As much as I love them, I can’t handle the first drop. But once that part is over, I’m perfectly fine.
  18. I don’t vote. I voted once when I first turned 18 as a “hey look I can vote now” sort of thing. I don’t remember who I voted for. I’ve been lectured for not voting by my mother and by my in-laws, but until I feel the NEED to vote (as in, put in my say for something/someone I believe in), I’m going to stay home while you proudly wear your “I VOTED” sticker.
  19. I cry over non-existent characters. I think this is a writer/reader problem. I get way too attached to people who aren’t real. Sometimes I care more about them than I do real people.
  20. I am a closet health nut. Gotcha!! No, I hate eating healthy. I’d rather just eat pudding.

Well there you go. 20 things you now know about me. Whew! That was easier than I thought it would be. I suppose adding “stuff to fluff” is easy when you are honest with yourself first. If I can admit the hard stuff as well as the normal good stuff, then maybe it makes each day better. One post at a time.