Monday, June 3, 2013

Greatest Accomplishments

Like everyone else of my generation, I was told a bachelor's degree is the way to get ahead.  So we all got bachelor degrees.  And I do mean ALL.  So now you need a master's or doctorate degree to stand out.  Or some crazy amounts of talent or rich daddy connections or the luck of the Irish.

I have none of those.

And it sometimes gets me down.  It's easy, especially living in a Christian and Southern culture, to feel bad about yourself if you didn't make the "right" decisions and become a 22 year old Christian Leadership graduate who stepped off the graduation podium directly into the church for a wedding that, within a year, is followed by the birth of the first of numerous children who are all given Biblical names.  If you're like me, an unexpectedly single woman (unexpected because like every girl I just knew I'd find my love in college :P) quickly approaching 30, you've either let yourself go, aren't trying hard enough, are focusing too much on work or ought to give the the idea of marriage and family and devote the rest of your life to being a missionary (all misguided and unwarranted suggestions of why I'm single. And all very FALSE).

But I refuse to accept that.  First, because it's just not true.  Condoleezza Rice is single and look at all that she's accomplished.  Second, I know too many wonderful women who aren't married for this to be true.  Statistically we all couldn't have let ourselves go, only be focusing on careers, not trying hard enough, or ought to be missionaries.  This isn't to say some of these things aren't true.  I know I eat more ice cream than any almost 30 year old woman should.  But that's why I'm not married?  Child please.  Third, though I'll never be a Condie Rice or an Oprah Winfrey or a Marissa Mayer, that's not my purpose in life and I'm okay with that!  Crowds won't ever chant my name, mimic my style, or seek my approval.  But I don't care.  Because I don't need the accolades.  I don't need the notoriety.  Yeah, I'd like to be someone's wife and a couple of little someones mom, but right now I'm called to be three little ones Tia (aunt in Spanish).  And I LOVE it!  Seriously, tell me this isn't the best advertisement of mutual and complete adoration, love, and fun!?!  My camera has tons of these photos in which we come up with random scenarios, react, and snap a photo.  As you'll see in the description, my nephew loves reptiles.
Top L: we were afraid of snakes R: my beautiful nieces
Bottom L: my handsome little man R: running from dinosaurs

I don't care if I never make a million dollars or leave this world having made a global difference.  I've made a difference in three lives.  And those three lives are worth more to me that a million of Beyonce's records.  My mom told me recently that the girls were playing dress up and my 2 yr old niece said she was me.  I cried, which I do a lot.  Baby Girl looks up to me.  No, she's not had a lot of outside exposure in her short little life, but she knows love.  She knows she's cared for and wanted and adored.  And that is one of the most important things I can give to her, her sister, and her brother.

So to my fellow singles (male and female), stand up and be proud!  We aren't any less valuable or important or wanted because we currently aren't wives/husbands or moms/dads.  We're daughters/sons and sisters/brothers and aunts/uncles and friends and co-workers and workout buddies.  We're setting examples and changing lives every day exactly where we are and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. I Timothy 4:12

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"You don't have to find out you're dying to start living."

The title quote is from 17 year old Zach Sobiech who died well yesterday.

At 14, Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a very rare bone cancer.  It reached a point that after the cancer returned and spread to his lungs, he decided that he'd rather live a full, but short life instead of fight the inevitable and spend his last few months in hospitals and unable to enjoy life.

And that's exactly what he did.  Watch his story here. I hope it always serves as a reminder that life truly is short and to fully embrace every single day.  Hug those around you.  Tell your family and friends you love them.  Let go of the petty things and enjoy life.  Take some risks.  Try something new.  Don't run from your life, embrace it, embrace every single gem and wart.  It's yours and you only have one.  Love it.

Because regardless of if you ever gain YouTube notoriety or not, you'll know.  Make sure you don't wait to start living.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Whoa!


Whoa!
I'm inching closer and closer to the big 3-0.  Like, it's NEXT month.  Whoa.

A part of me freaks out about it, but then another part is completely cool with it.  First of all, no one EVER knows how old I am.  More often than not, I'm mistaken for being in my early 20's.  Not a bad thing even if I'm not completely a fan.  I'm thinking one day I'll appreciate it more.  Or so people tell me.  And if I look at this objectively in terms of the amount of time I've being making adult decisions (we'll use 18 years old though that's quite a stretch), I'm almost 12 years old. Old enough to know some things, but still a ways to go to having life conquered. Or at least somewhat manageable. So I've got a little bit more time before I need to have it all together. And let's be honest...I'll never have it all together. That's just not the way my life rolls. But I'm okay with that. Kinda.

As has happened in other areas and times of life, I'm once again at the place of having to let go of various dreams and goals. I'm not where I thought I'd be. I thought I'd be married with a kid or two by now. Or maybe some highly paid up and coming junior exec who wears amazing shoes and stylish pencil skirts with some sort of in demand industry expertise. I'm neither. Sure, I have pencil skirts and heels and I've been told that I'm our Office Mom (still not sure how I feel about that!), but I've usually kicked the heels off by 10 am because I'm ripping up and down the halls of my office and they slow me down. Or I've decided to organize some storage area and I'm climbing over boxes and you surely can't do that in heels. And really, being "mom" isn't glamorous at all...especially when it's for other adults.

By no stretch of the imagination is this what 20 year old Shameka thought life for 30 year old Shameka would like. But I don't hate it. This year alone I've spent weekends in the NC mountains, TN mountains, New Orleans, NYC, and Virginia/DC. I'm terrified, but I'll be once again buying myself a car soon. I'm making headway in paying off debt. I have a job I thoroughly enjoy. I'm consistently working out...at 5 in the morning no less. And I'll hopefully be doing another half marathon this year. Nope, this isn't what I thought life would look like at all. But this messy, crazy, unpredictable life is mine and it's made me the woman that I am. And I choose to thank God for each moment that has brought me here. Though I've given up on the high heels (I'm working on accepting that my flat and pigeon-toed feet aren't really meant for heels) I sincerely hope a husband and kids are in my future. But whether they are or they aren't, I'm going to embrace this new decade, these opportunities to grow and change and be more like Him. Because if there's anything I've learned, it's that I want and need Him. Psalm 42 says it perfectly, "as a deer pants for water...my soul thirsts for God."

And that will be my focus. This day, this month, this decade. I can look back over my 20's and see the things, the people, and the situations that have cultivated me into the woman I am and I pray that my 30's be just as challenging and fulfilling. And that He be an even bigger part than He was in the last decade.

Bring on the 30's!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let's just skip the awkward 'it's been a while' thing and just jump right in!

2013 has kinda sucked so far.  Well, not completely completely, but health-wise it's sucked.  I've been to the ER and urgent care.  I've thrown up more times in the last month and a half than I did all of 2011 AND 2012.  I've called out of work more times since the beginning of the year than I ever have since I started working at 15 years old.  Even now, I need to go to the doctor because of joint pain I have, but I've yet to call.  Mainly because I'm scared.  But that's not what this post is about.

It's about the things I've crossed off my 30 Before 30 list!

By no stretch of the imagination have I been as successful as I originally hoped, but I have gotten some things done.  And I've had a blast doing it.  And hopefully will get to cross more off in the coming weeks.  Like, I'm going to NYC...Broadway show maybe (#13)!?!  And next week is poker night so I better be somewhat proficient because I have a boss ready to take my money (#26)!  And there are definite plans to go to the large cat reservation in Pittsboro.  Petting a tiger anyone (#12)!?!  In the meantime, let's see what can get crossed off now!


1. Run a half marathon.  (Completed April 2012)
2. Be conversational in Spanish. (After growing up in TX and having taken tons of Spanish classes from 6th through college, I'm still not fluent.  That. Will. Change.)
3. Own a pair of bona fide natural pearls. (I love mine, but they're cultured not natural.)
4. Read the entire Bible.  (I've done this once in high school, but I admit it was a little suspect.  I think I skimmed more than I actually read and understood.  And I definitely don't remember enough to warrant claiming having done this.)
5. Host a legit movie marathon.  And convince my friends to make it a full fledged slumber party :)
6. Get certified to carry a concealed handgun.
7. Learn how to pick a lock and break into somewhere.  (It'll probably be a friend's house as I don't want to go to jail, but break in I will!)
8. Crash a stranger's wedding.  (I'm not sure where this idea came from, but I've already secured a partner in crime!)
9. Go to the airport and just fly somewhere.
10. Buy a really nice dress and got out for a ridiculously expensive dinner/evening out. I'm counting NYE here because I was wearing new clothes and it was an expensive and wonderful dinner/night.
11. Visit an acupuncturist. (The thought of needles in my face scares me, as it should, but I'm still very intrigued!)
12. Pet a tiger.  (There's a wildcat sanctuary somewhat near me.  It's gonna happen!)
13. See a show on Broadway.
14. Make something with my sewing machine. I made my nieces aprons and my mom an infinity scarf for Christmas.
15. Send someone a note in the mail at least once a month. (I'm hoping to do this more than once a month, but let's be realistic here.)
16. Read at least 10 books from this list. (Yes, I realize it's Wikipedia, but all the lists I came across this one seemed the best.  Or at least better than some of the others.)
17. Find and wear a bikini next summer.
18. Take a train ride somewhere.
19. Have the ability to go out to dinner with friends and pay for everyone's meal. NYE we went out to Five Star in downtown Raleigh and I felt ridiculously blessed to be able to pay for everyone's meal.  It felt great to be able to do that for my loves!
20. Make souffle.  (I had the most ah-mazing Tupelo Honey Souffle at the Gaylord Hotel in Orlando back in February.  And I'm going to TRY and recreate that decadent amazingness.)
21. Plant, grow, and keep a pot of hydrangeas alive. (I really should give up on trying to grow things, but one more try!)
22. Try a class that isn't typically "me."
23. Do at least one selfless, and if possible anonymous, thing a month.(Again, the goal is more than once a month, but I'm going to start small and work my way up!)
24. Meet and get a picture with someone famous.
25. Hike the Appalachian Trail. (Definitely not the entire thing, but enough to say I actually spent __ days hiking.)
26. Be proficient at playing at least one of these-golf, chess, tennis, poker, checkers...
27. Run a second half marathon and get my time under 2:30.
28. Journal every day about something I'm thankful for/blessed by/encouraged, etc.
29. Memorize a Scripture verse a week. (I may have to go old school and put the verse to music.  Apparently all the verses I learned were set to song and I usually have to sing to remember the entire verse.)
30. I'm keeping this one open for good measure...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

FAMILY!

 
That Dr. Seuss is a smart one.
 
Seriously, though, this perfectly expresses something I've been feeling lately.  I ADORE my family.  There are times that we talk several times a week.  Other times it's just once a week.  But we keep in constant communication between emails, texts, calls, and Skype.  But even still it's not the same as being with them, being involved with the everyday of each other's lives, living life together.
 
But in His infinite wisdom and love, God gave me an amazing group of people who, in their own ways, fill that void of knowing and being known.  When I sit and think about it, I'm not completely sure what keeps us together.  Some are musical, others are better with tools, some are better with logistics, still another with encouragement.  We don't have the same dreams, goals, or plans.  Our pasts are varied and our insecurities are many.  We have different opinions on politics.
 
But I love them.  And they love me.
 
It's easy to throw around the word "love" without really understand it's meaning.  Especially among friends.  But I truly love these people with my whole heart.  I miss them when they aren't around.  I pray for them, for their days, their jobs, their appointments.  I know their likes and dislikes.  I know their hurts and fears.  But what speaks to my heart the most is knowing acceptance when I'm with them.
 
When my fear causes me to withdraw, I get a sweet message.  Not pressuring or yelling, but gently reminding me to trust them.  When I'm in a bad mood, I get called out, but then encouraged to find the root of my attitude.  I get sound advice.  I've had lots of groups of friends that I've cared for, but never really felt completely comfortable around.  A lot of that has had to do with my reticence to be open and vulnerable and was no fault of anyone else's other than my own.  But I feel like I've finally gotten to the place of being willing to share my burdens with others, to walk alongside them and help carry theirs, to be a part of something bigger, something more.
 
I've found those whose weirdness is compatible to mine.  And it's wonderful and scary and just about the best thing ever!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I don't know about this...


Dating.

Why?  Just why?

I want to get married and have kids. But I've decided I want to do it without having to date.

Don't get me wrong.  I like dates.  I enjoy the flirting that leads to the asking out, the looking for a new outfit or dressing up one I already have, the free coffee/meal/dessert or whatever it is that the date entails, the getting to know someone.

But more often than not, any date I go on isn't like that.  The initial flirting often breeds insecurity and confusion of "is he really flirting or is he just nice?" or I'll pull the awkward 13 year old thing of "he's really attractive so I'm going to sit here and not say a blasted thing" until hours later when all the flirty and chatty things THEN come to mind.  Or the stress of what to wear that causes a breakout which causes more stress which makes me drink Dr Pepper like it's my job...and perpetuates the breakout.  And the overwhelming stress of what to say and how to keep the conversation moving and interesting while trying to be attractive, open without being "that" girl who is too open while working to keep my weird habits under wraps that keeps me from fully enjoying the evening.

And this isn't insecurity or me being girl cray and letting my imagination run away with me.  It's literal real world experience because nothing in my life is normal.

There's the black guy who I honest to goodness thought was white guy...and actually made a comment about him having a "black" name...because I thought he was white.  I didn't find out until the next morning that he was born with no skin pigmentation so he looked white.  In my defense, it was quite dim in my apartment, but still.

Or the guy who I was emailing who in the middle of the email gave a shout out to his dead grandparents.  Um, what!?!  I respect the fact that you love and miss them, but please don't RIP Grandmom and Pops in the middle of an email to me. Too far.

There was the Christian guy who said although he believed in waiting until after marriage for sex, he wouldn't be upset if we "accidently" had sex.  Huh?  An accident is batheing with conditioner instead of body wash (don't judge, it happens).  I may not have had a lot of sex, but I'm pretty sure there's no accident to getting undressed and jumping in the sack with someone.

And there was the Italian guy who moved from NY, we met in college, and went out one night.  He said when his family moved out of NY his dad legally changed their last name.  An Italian from NY who legally got his last name changed?  Very sweet guy, but probably not a good idea to get mixed up in that.  Especially after he got the nickname Caddy and showed up the next semester driving a Cadillac.  Not normal for a college student.  Moving on...

And let us not forget the baseball catcher, who I should've stayed far away from because, let's be honest, baseball players are always trouble.  We'd flirted and hung out and just had fun...no worries though.  I'm not that kind of girl.  He asked me to go out with him one night after a game, but the next day was going to be a long one so I decided to stay in.  The next morning he wasn't at the game.  Why?  He'd gotten pulled over for a missing tail light and then TAKEN TO JAIL when the cop smelled weed.  I cannot nor do I even want to begin to imagine what that night could've looked like for me.

So, yeah.  It's pretty pathetic.  These weren't even relationships.  Heck, the were barely dates and still they were disasters.  Clearly dating isn't my thing.  So I've decided to go the way of Oona here and wait until someone can implant me with a timer.  Or my parents get fed up of my not adding to the grandchild posse and arrange a marriage.

Either one will work for me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Too Fast!!!





I'm still not sure it happened.  Or when.  But from what I've been told, my little pal here started Kindergarten Monday.  And I might have been 1400 miles away from him.  And still cried.

I vividly remember when and where I was when my brother called to say my SIL was pregnant.  I remember the changed plans and unneeded trip to Fayetteville because we were sure this was the night (it wasn't!).

And I remember actually holding him for the first time.

I don't know about romantic love at first sight, but I do know about aunt/nephew love at first sight. I love both of my nieces and my nephew unconditionally and without question, but this boy and I will always have a special bond.  He is my first nephew.  From the moment we met there was mutual adoration.  He's the first person who has ever actually jumped and clapped from excitement when he sees me.

He has my heart.

And he's growing up.  And it's super scary.  I've heard having kids is like taking your heart out and having it walk around while giving others the ability to hurt it.  I'm not even his parent, but I can relate to that.  I worry about this kid.  I pray for this kid.  I adore this kid.  And I'm super proud of this kid.  I can't imagine my life without him in it.  I love him with a fierceness I didn't even know was possible.

And now that I miss him all over again, I'm gonna go Skype my favorite Kindergartener and find out how his week is going!