Monday, September 30, 2013


I'm not a religious person.  I don't even really consider myself Christian- though I celebrate the secular version of Christian holidays.  But I feel moved to talk about faith and religion today.

This weekend was one of the most difficult times I've had in my life.  My cousin Patrick took his own life last week and we had to pay our respects this weekend.  On Friday my mom and I drove up to Michigan to help his family with last minute preparations and to provide our support.  That night, his sister, asked if I'd come to a youth service and grief support meeting that their church was putting on for the kids who had known him.  I had no idea what to expect but wanted to be supportive of my cousin so I agreed to attend.

I'm so glad I did.  The service was beautiful.  My favorite moment was when each of us present was welcomed to come up, light a candle, and place it in these planters at the front of the altar.  My cousin and I went up together and it was peaceful and beautiful and so overwhelming.  After everyone had a turn they turned all the lights off and we sat there, in silence, just remembering.  Later I accompanied my cousin up to sit in front of the candles and I was just amazed at her strength in that moment.  She knelt there and prayed and it was so touching to me.  I remember looking at her and smiling because I could tell how much comfort the church and her prayers were bringing her.

Several of these young people, from 15-20 years old chose to stay in the sanctuary.  Chose to continue to pray, and seemed to draw so much from it.  It was one of the most beautiful and emotional things I've ever witnessed.

The next day at the funeral mass the church made a point of inviting those of us who are not Catholic to participate in the mass by going up and getting blessed during communion.  I appreciated that so much. I was feeling so vulnerable and sad and there was just something comforting about being blessed by the priest.  I walked up, arms crossed over my chest as instructed, and I remember him setting down the host, smiling, and touching my head.

I have no idea what he said, and frankly it doesn't matter at all, I felt included.  Some people probably think it's weird for a non-believer to feel so strongly about a mass, but I knew how much this church meant to his family and how much it was helping them and I wanted to be a part of that.

St. John Neuman in Canton, MI showed me what I think a church should be.  It was welcoming and warm and supportive to it's members in the darkest of times.  I haven't been converted, but I have a deeper appreciation for what a strong faith community can give you- especially one that seems so open.

Not going to lie though- I still can't get over the whole Communion thing-- the songs about the body and blood of Christ made me think of Zombies... Is that something lifelong Catholics just get used to?

To my dear dear cousin E if you're reading this.  You are an amazing woman.  Your poise through all of this has been impressive.  I love you and wish you peace.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The other day a few people on my FB newsfeed posted this link to an article on The Huffington Post's website entitled How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps (Kudos on the title btw, definitely encouraged people to read!).  Anyways, I went and read the article and a couple of things really resonated with me: 1. Stop believing your bullshit and 2. Be happy now.

The author's point with number 1 was that we all make excuses for ourselves.  We give ourselves reasons to not break out of comfort zone, to be satisfied with the status quo and not challenge it.  We believe we are capable of less than we are.  
If I'm being really honest with myself this can be a major issue for me.  "I have asthma I can't run a 10k." "I'm not smart enough for THAT career" and so on... The fact of the matter is I don't really know whether I can do these things or not because I have never ever tried.  I need to start trusting in myself that I have greater potential and reach out for more.  
The second step mentioned is "Be Happy Now."  I've written about this idea before... As people we often are waiting for our next step to happen before we allow ourselves to fully enjoy where we are.  
I think I'm getting a little better about this.  Dating casually this summer was part of that for me.  I decided to be happy with where I was right then and not worry about the future too much.  I think the bigger issue for me comes in my professional life.  I mean, I'm not going to lie, I'm not working my dream job right now.  BUT, I've actually been so much happier the past three weeks than I remember being in the past at my other jobs.  I've definitely been more consistently happy.  I need to let go, just a little bit, of the idea that I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing, because maybe I am.
This school year I am teaching four college research and writing classes at a career college in the late afternoons and evenings and substitute teaching for a local school district during the day.  I have never taught adults before.  I had never even taught college.  So far it's been pretty good!  My classes are small, the maturity is higher (for the most part) and I feel like the students are really responding to me.  When I see students in the hallway outside of class they greet me, they ask how my day or weekend was, and they actually seem genuinely interested.  My students have commented to me that I am "fun," that they can tell I "love" teaching.  They have even, wait for it, THANKED me for helping them.  I feel appreciated and respected (despite being young enough to be their child in some cases). 
By the same token I am having a great time substitute teaching.  I've done one day at an elementary school and the rest have been at the high school which is ideal.  I'm getting to use my brain whether it's for English or re-learning Algebra, or trying to recall Spanish vocabulary words from well over a decade ago.  There is almost no stress.  I grade papers from my night classes during my off periods and go home without extra work at the end of the day.  Even these students are starting to recognize me and say "hello" in the halls.  Today I saw a former student that frankly, often butted heads with me.  He was working at the school and we had a really nice, mature, conversation.  He showed an interest in what I'd been doing for the past several years and updated me quickly on his life.  It felt good.
I guess my point is this... I'm in a good place.  I may not technically have a full time job (sure wish I had benefits!) but I do have two jobs that are, most weeks, giving me a 40 hr load and, more importantly, are FULFILLING me.  So I choose to be happy with where I am and to stay happy.  It's time I refocused again and paid attention to all the good in my life because it so outweighs the bad.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer Wrap Up

At the beginning of the summer I posted my bucket list for the months of June, July, and August.  Now that we're at Labor Day it's time to evaluate my summer...

As a reminder, here is my bucket list...

Sara's Summer Bucket List:

1. Go to Bar Harbor, ME!!
2. Attend a Wade Oval Wednesday
3. See Shakespeare in a park
4. Go to the beach
5. Crafting!
6. Girls Nights!
7. Date Nights! I'm having a lot of fun dating and figuring out who really is a solid match for me!
8. Bonfires
9. Lay out at a pool
10. Cook out
11. Outdoor runs
12. Read fun books!
13. Go to the Zoo
14. See the summer blockbusters! - So far I've seen Fast and the Furious 6, Superman, Heat, 
15. Day drink!
16. Finish my MA Essay
17. Go to Cedar Point
18. Find a job!

I definitely didn't complete everything on this list, but I have to say I'm really happy with how this summer went for me.  My trip to Bar Harbor was amazing.  I saw whales, caught up with friends, went nature creeping, and ate lots of lobster.
I had several awesome girls nights with margaritas, tacos, and gossiping that made me continue to appreciate the friendships I've been cultivating for years.  My ladies are truly awesome.

This was the first summer that I really made a point of putting myself out there and dating.  I kept things casual and it's been great.  Everyone I met or gave a chance too has been awesome.  Some have stuck around, some I've let fall away, but all have been good experiences.  There have been movies, hikes, dinners, parties, cook outs, and one lucky guy even got a home cooked meal.  Now that summer is over and my schedule is going to get crazy we'll have to see how everything works out.  But I certainly have no regrets.

I got to hang out with several of my co-workers this summer which was super fun.  While my job wasn't the right fit for me last year, my co-workers were stellar and I'm glad to be continuing friendships with them.  Corn-hole, day drinking, night drinking, a play, and lots of stupid snap chats made it a fun time.

My spur of the moment road trip with my bff to Gatlinburg was a perfect little get away.  We saw the most hilarious things, got caught in tourist traps, and sampled lots of types of alcohol.

Perhaps most importantly I finished my MA Essay and, as of yesterday, GRADUATED graduate school!  I'm so glad to be done.  And, because I now have an MA in English, I was able to complete #18 and procure a job!  This year I'm going to be teaching college composition classes at a career college downtown.  I'm excited for the challenge but nervous too.

Other random summer highlights:

Pole dancing class!
Taste of Tremont!
The Lion King!
Sexy, I know.

Rock Star Accordion!

Goodbye Summer... Hello Fall!