"I dwell in possibility" ~Emily Dickinson

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A Fresh Start

Posted on: 10.16.2014

After much internal debate I finally decided to start anew in the world of blogging. You can now find me over here writing about newly married life and the adventures of adapting to a cross-country move!

Also! If you follow this blog through Facebook, I’m going to see about simply transitioning things in a way that allows posts from the new site to be delivered to that page. :)

Thanks for following along with Chapter Twenty - maybe I’ll see you over at A Nap in the South!

xo Natalie

Interaction: an essay of the rambling sort

Posted on: 3.21.2014

My thoughts lately have been spiraling around one question: what is valuable human interaction? It’s kind of an odd question if you think about it because human interaction is so necessary, so daily, so much a part of the human experience that to sit and ponder it feels a little strange. It might be akin to sitting around pondering the value of air or water or nourishment. {Although, to be perfectly honest, I have pondered those things. Thinking about things is just my nature!} This question of valuable interaction has weighed on me recently in a way that sometimes feels oppressive or smothering. I almost feel like I’m wrestling with a hazy cloud of vague ideas encompassed by the grey area of our socially saturated culture. 

One thing I’ve been able to tease out of this hazy thought-mass is that the pervasive world of virtual communication is not satisfying. I’m sure some would heartily disagree with me. They’d probably lay out valid points of argument and I’d be happy to give those points an affirmative nod in response: maybe something about virtual interaction satisfies them in a way that is lacking for me. My thoughts on this are deeply personal and are largely a result of who I am and how I see the world. From my perspective, I see virtual forms of communication and think: there’s just something missing. 

It took me a while to recognize that there’s something missing for me when it comes to virtual socialization. And I suppose it might be helpful if I clarify what I mean by that phrase! Virtual socialization, to me, refers specifically to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and the like. They are places where one can glean information about other individuals without ever needing to communicate  or emotionally invest in another. Don’t start thinking that I’m some anti-Facebook guru or something: I’m certainly not! I jumped right into the world of online social platforms with the best of them! I created my first myspace account at age 14 and transitioned to Facebook at age 17. As embarrassing as that is to admit, I have to say it makes me think about some of the mob mentality that often comes with swift, widespread cultural change. 

Sometimes it seems that with rapid cultural change individuals don’t always stop to think about their actions. I know my 14 year-old-self sure didn’t. As a teenager I didn’t recognize the way an online social sphere would impact my generation’s method of interacting. I didn’t take the time to think about how the Facebook “like” button would impact my thoughts on what was valuable. I didn’t stop to realize how much personal information was divulged by my “friends” without any sensible filtering. I’m thinking about these things now as I’m growing into adulthood. I’m combing through some of those habits I formed in my teenage years and realizing how many actions are byproducts of mindlessly moving with the masses on a trajectory of social change. 

As my generation has grown into adulthood as the first to discover a new form of community that is easily-accessed but doesn’t require much emotional investment, I wonder if perhaps we’ve lost something along this path. We may, indeed, be more connected than ever before. Our professional networks may be more expansive, our personal friends might stay in our lives longer, and we may even make new friends and embark on new relationships as a result of the ability to access virtual community easily. For me, the benefits of my ability to make widespread connections pales in comparison to the raw, personal investment that comes with getting coffee with a dear friend. 

Those face-to-face interactions that allow me to read through the hollow words of a friend and recognize that she’s hurting are so, so valuable. I want to be the type of friend who doesn’t just “like” a friend’s status update or picture but who walks alongside a friend in authentic community. I want to be there to encourage the friend who is going through something I’ve been through, to lend my ears, to offer a hug, and to extend advice when necessary. 

Valuable human interaction in my opinion, is the type of interaction that exists both on and off-line. 

A thought on theories and formulaic advice

Posted on: 1.22.2014

I think it’s the common experience for those of us who fall along the spectrum of youth to receive generous pieces of advice and wisdom from our elders. Wouldn’t you agree? 

This is a good thing. What a travesty it would be if younger generations were left to their own devices and hormone-driven ‘wisdom.’ It’s pretty clear to me that seeking and accepting wise,  godly counsel is imperative to living life well in these years. I’ve been handed my fair share of advice in life so far; some advice I see as golden so it gets tucked neatly away in my memory to be taken out and reassessed in subsequent seasons of life. Some advice I accept with a smile before gingerly placing it in the nearest wastebasket (after a bit of evaluation, of course.) Then there are those pieces of advice that feel downright destructive... I call these “life formulas.”

Life formulas are not my favorite. I’ll admit that a portion of these formulas can be rather benign so calling them “downright destructive” is overly harsh. A  benign formula is something like the following: “Every ten years a new wave of home repairs becomes necessary.” That might actually be helpful to know! If I ever live in one location for ten years, at least I’ll be prepared for an onslaught of maintenance costs at the decade mark. 

Ever since I allowed myself to take the plunge into a relationship last fall, (I know! We can talk more about this later :)  I’ve seen an increase in the amount of formulaic advice I’m given. I’m sure the intentions of said advice is coming from a good place, people don’t want to see me get hurt! I get that, and I really appreciate their concern. The thing is though, when I’m handed formulaic advice I notice that it’s often based on many generic assumptions about how “men” are. But the thing is, I’m not learning to love “men” I’m learning all I can about one specific man who doesn’t fit the mold in many ways. (Okay, in some ways, he fits the mold: a love of cars, guns, planes, etc, and the ability to dwell for a short time in this little space we call the “nothing” box in his brain.) But! In many other ways, I find he’s unique and who we are becoming as a couple is unique too.  

Formulaic advice such as “It’s a good thing you are in the habit of communicating so much because you know that once there’s a ring on your finger, the communication drops by at least fifty-percent.” is just quite unhelpful. I am thrown into a bit of a quandary: “so does this pertain to men in general?”  “Is this your individual experience?”  “Where did that statistic come from? Fifty-percent is a huge decrease in communication ...” 

As this phase of life has granted me the ability to think through the advice I’m given, I have also been thinking about how easy it is for me to give advice to individuals younger than me or who are facing similar circumstances to those I’ve encountered. Sometimes, I don’t think I even need to give advice. Often, what seems to be needed most is a listening ear, an empathetic nod, and a gentle smile. 

All in good time – taking stock

Posted on: 1.13.2014

In the 26 days between the New Year and my birthday, it seems worthwhile to take the time to take stock of what is in my most recent past and what I hope for the near future. The month of January is a double-restart for me in a way. A New Year - a new age, along with plenty of social encouragement to think a little deeper and close out the past with strength and clarity.

Thinking a little deeper:
I’ve been asking myself, when does life ever go according to plan? And if I’m really honest I might ask how boring life would be if it did go according to my plan. I just looked through my old entries and realized how many times I have ‘learned’ this lesson: the lesson on the Lord’s timing, the lesson on trust. TRUST that’s the heart of it, I think.
I can talk the talk. The ‘christianese’ flows fluently from my tongue… “It’s all in the Lord’s timing” and “His will be done” have both come from my lips over the course of this last year, but have they both come from my heart as well? That’s something I can’t answer swiftly. I have to swirl that one around in my mind for a bit… have I really trusted? The answer is a little more complex than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ 
I think I can honestly say that at times I did trust. At times I felt that the Lord was my rock. He was the only real relationship in my life that wasn’t rushing past me in a hurry, that wasn’t leaving me behind, that wasn’t distant, and that wasn’t changing. His assurance was the only balm to a shaken sense of self-worth. His steadfastness was the only comfort when I realized I had gotten in too deep: that I needed help climbing out of the pit I had created for myself. 
But I can also say that at times I questioned Him. And I mean questioned. The type of questioning that probably resembled a fitful toddler. Angry and irrational and emotional all rolled together to make a truly pathetic picture. I questioned His timing for everything. I looked at the ceiling through thick, angry tears on more than one occasion and asked in the most vexed and confused voice: what are you doing!?

In this recent past, if I’ve learned one lesson, it’s this: that trusting the Lord will be a lifelong lesson. A lesson about a lesson. But it still counts.  


Posted on: 8.06.2013

I kill songs.
That is: when I find a new song or album that I like, I basically just keep it on repeat until I find something new. So while I browse through the jeans at New York & Co. and hear OneRepublic's "All the right moves" I'm instantly transported to late Spring 2011. I was almost done with my Junior year of college, I was all sorts of tired, and I played OneRepublic incessantly on the drive to my job on the outskirts of town. Without that music memory trigger, who's to say I'd even remember that exhaustion-haze of a month? 

Here are a few songs I'm shamelessly killing slash repeating right now:

^ This was also embedded in my post from a few days ago. (Proof.)

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