Sunday, March 29, 2015

When you know you belong.

Because I'm so incredibly type A, I'm a tad bit on the obsessive side when it comes to punctuality. I say that like you didn't already know.

Anyway, so I show up to church about half an hour early every week, because then I don't have to worry, and plus I'm there to talk to people before the service starts.

Well, you know what the very first thing I heard when I got in the room today was, after a hello? It was from my friend Kimarley, "The worship team prayed for you this morning."

That, my friends, that was when I knew. I knew that as big and overwhelming as this city can be, and as out of place as I often feel in my life, I knew that I had somewhere to belong.

And sometimes, that's all you need.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Perfect Recoup

Work was awful.

People were awful.

One lady bitched me out because she didn't want to buy the toothpaste that was on sale and instead wanted to get a different kind of the same brand that wasn't on sale for the sale price and thought it was outrageous that we wouldn't change the price.

So when Holly gave me way more money than I asked for, the roommate asked me if I wanted to go out with her, and then Holly heard that and said she ordered to go out and buy drinks, I went.

And it was awesome.

Right up until I fell off a bar stool and broke a glass underneath me (but still managed not to cut myself!). But hey, two strangers plus the bouncer (whom the roommate knows) all rushed over to help me up, so that was very sweet. And then the bouncer helped me up the stairs.

Then on the way home, we went to Spiegel, the roommate got a cheeseburger, and I got fries and about eight glasses of water.

She went to bed early and I stayed and thoroughly entertained the bartender and his friend, who was then kind enough to help me up to the apartment because I wasn't so sure I could make it up the stairs to the apartment.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Win or lose.

So the Wolfpack lost.

Our most important player played with a stomach virus that he contracted 24 hours before the game.

The refs were blatantly unbalanced.

Our star blocker was so worried about fouling he couldn't get his usual blocks.

The announcers had their heads so far up Louisville's butts you could find their facial imprints on colonoscopies.

But you know what? They fought.

Every second of every minute, they fought.

And it's not like Louisville had it in the bag the whole game; it wasn't until the last few minutes they got the lead back and ran with it.

And still, we got into the Sweet 16. We went further than just about anyone expected, considering we were picked 10th in the ACC pre-season rankings.

So we have plenty to be proud of.

Wolfpack pride runs deep. Win or lose. And we've got plenty of talent heading into next year.

So until I die, you'll hear me shouting - GO PACK.

Now I'll be cheering Duke on to the championship for my grandma.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The not fun kind of crazy.

Post-Spring Break, the midpoint, school tends to get crazy.

Assignments pile up.

Due dates get closer together.

And your energy just drains.

Which is why I'm very thankful that if I can just make it through this one, I only have to go through this semester business twice.

This night, I fell asleep at about 9:30 in the middle of a basketball game and slept for twelve solid hours. I think I needed it.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I have few thoughts today.

Today was one of those days where I couldn't wake up.

I smacked my head on the wall in the seizure last night, at least that's what I'm assuming considering the position I woke up in and the stinging I had in one spot after, and I had a terrible headache by the time the EMTs showed up, but I thought that wouldn't make a difference since I was sitting very close to the wall when it happened. It normally only takes me a few hours for my body to recalibrate and get back to normal.

Well, I had a killer migraine today. Between that and all the emotions from last night and the lingering anxiety of what tomorrow and the coming days could bring (regarding numerous things, but mostly the Cushing's blood test), it's like my body just shut down for a day.

I don't even know what else to say. I'm just feeling beaten down, to be quite honest. But tomorrow's a new day.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Life is cool.

Because sometimes my British parents (Paddy's parents) pick New York City for their first visit to America and they make a crazy itinerary fit in with my schedule and I get to see them and hug them for the first time in almost seven years. And they're still my Mum and Dad and I'm still their American daughter.

Because my time with them ended right before stuff at the dance studio started, and I had told the staff that I would come back tonight if it were at all possible.

Because I got to dance again (for FREE) and confirm that dancing really is something that makes me feel my soul come alive.

Because the staff there already feels like family. When I only met them last week. (I told Mike that the DWM Soho staff were some of the nicest people I've met in New York and he replied, "That's because none of us are from here." Ha!)

Because I made it through the whole event (group class + party) before I had a seizure. Literally, people were packing up and leaving. Talk about frustrating.

Because when I started crying from embarrassment, people hugged me and told me I had nothing to be embarrassed about or feel bad about, that they were still glad I was there. And they didn't tell me I shouldn't come back, just maybe that I shouldn't push myself so hard. (Which I knew that. The group class plus the party was more than an hour and a half of dancing, but the lesson yesterday was only about 35 minutes, and I had no problems in the group class which was about 45 minutes, so just that might be fine time-wise.)

Because out of 8.5 million people in New York City, and 1.8 million in Manhattan, I got the exact same two EMTs as last week. What are the odds?

Because when I was feeling really down and upset and frustrated, I called Clayton, and an hour of talking things out with my best friend helped me calm down. That's one of the many reasons I know he's my best friend - talking to him helps me calm down when I feel like everything is out of control.

Because wrestling with questions is okay, even if sometimes I don't feel like it is.

Because my life is never going to be simple and I'm never going to be able to do everything that I want to do, but I'm still trying. I'm still stubborn. And I'm still living.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.

I woke up today mixed with emotions. Part of me wished I was still on the retreat, but the other part of me was SO excited to go back and see this guy.

The second I walked back in the Dance With Me SoHo studio, people were greeting me and giving me hugs. They remembered me (hopefully for more than just my seizure). They asked me how I was doing and told me they were so happy to have me back. It felt so warm and welcoming that even though I'd been shaking a bit walking in just from excitement and nerves, I was immediately put at ease.

Kosta, the manager, who is, like, a giant, came out and greeted me while Mike was doing something, and then we got to work. We covered the basics of the rumba, salsa, and the waltz in 30 minutes and it was so much fun. I can't say that enough. Maybe it's just because music has always been in my blood, but my whole body felt happy every second of it. I didn't want it to end. And unfortunately, because private lessons are so expensive, it'll be a while before I get to do this again until I get a higher paying job. They do have group lessons and parties, though, which are way cheaper, and I actually also get one of each of those free, so I will definitely still at least be attending some of those. I've got the dancing bug now! :)

And as it turns out, despite my utter lack of coordination, I'm actually pretty good at it! Mike said I was doing a lot of things correctly and that I was a really fast learner. The only thing I really messed up on was the salsa spins. He also told me that unlike a lot of the beginners he sees and teaches, I was really good about keeping eye contact with him and not spending the whole time staring at my feet working on getting everything right. It took a lot of willpower not to respond "Well, have you SEEN you? You're pretty easy to want to look at." I mean, come on. ;)

While we were working, we got to talk a good deal, so I told him that I've been in music, playing and singing, since I was 9, so I had the advantage of knowing rhythm and counting. I also told him about how when I was 9 I told Mom I wanted to be a dancer and so today was really fulfilling a longtime dream of mine.

One thing that really stood out to me, though, is that we were talking about my disabilities while he was showing me a step, and he said something about getting out and doing this is me overcoming my disabilities. He said he thought it was awesome that I still wanted to try this despite how my body can mess up on me so much. So I told him that that is something that I hear a lot from people, how amazing they think it that I don't let my physical problems get in the way of me getting out and at least trying to do things, but that if I never tried anything that seemed like it might hurt or be too hard I would be pretty sad and very, very bored. That cracked him up.

But it's true. As cliché as the saying is, I want to do whatever I can while I'm alive. I don't want to look back and wish I'd taken an opportunity that was in front of me. And like I said, this has been a dream for 13 years now, one that I long ago gave up hope on. I know I would've regretted not exploring this. I never want my body or my disabilities or my health issues to define who I am or hold me back in fear. I want to take full advantage of everything I have in this life.

The title is from OneRepublic's "I Lived". Check out the lyrics. It says everything I mean and am trying to say.

"It's your choice, Ace. People can live a hundred years without really living for a minute. You climb up here with me, it's one less minute you haven't lived." ~ Gilmore Girls

I swear, I really lived today.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Worth It

Oh man.

I didn't fall asleep until about 5 am this morning because after talking to Kimarley so long and then taking a shower, my body was in so much pain I couldn't fall asleep. So, um, getting up at 8 for breakfast was ROUGH. I know I had a total zombie look on my face while sitting at my table.

Session 4's worship seemed to liven me up a bit. Music tends to do that in general. Session 4 was just a long session of worship and communion and prayer together, no Scripture readings, and it was as lovely as you would imagine. Ashley and I stood at the back to pray with anyone who needed it during and after Communion, but no one needed it, so we ended up sharing and praying over each other. Which turned out to be really good for the both of us. Like I said, new connections made.

Then we had to pack up and leave. We were supposed to leave at 11, but once again, the bus was late and didn't show up until 11:20, so we left about 10 minutes after that. A lot of people slept on the way back because we were all beat, but I spent the whole time talking to Kimarley, Sean, Betty, and Sumit.

Funny thing about when we finally got back to the city was that the bus pulled up and dropped us off right in front of one of NYC's Brother Jimmy's restaurants (the ones named for NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano). So I knew I wanted to eat lunch, but then I opened the door and Ashley and her husband Didrik were already waiting for a table. Ashley and I had mentioned this morning that we'd love to talk sometime so I could share my testimony with her, so we all had lunch and I did just that. (And then they refused to let me pay for my meal.) Since we were a ways away from a subway station so I would have had to take a cab home and then another all the way to Midtown for work, I decided I would just go straight to work from there. Which worked out perfectly because we got so caught up in conversation that when I left there, I barely had time to make it to work through the traffic and change before my shift started at 4.

Work is always tedious, and this one was a pain because one of the only three other people on the closing shift with me (besides the manager) didn't call and didn't show up so we were terribly hectic from being understaffed, but this one was a bit different since two hours into it I began getting delirious from being overtired. So for the next six hours, I began getting weirder and weirder. I had my coworker Jackie rolling with laughter as the night slowed down because she thought I was crazy. Which I was. Doing a 16-hour day on 3 hours of sleep is not for the normal.

But the experiences I had this weekend? They were 100% worth the exhaustion.

And hey, I was free entertainment for 1000 customers.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thank God for community.

I had a lot of bad dreams this weekend about anxiety over the upcoming Cushing's/tumor stuff. But I don't want to talk about that. Here's what was awesome about Saturday.

Great worship.
New connections: Kimarley, Sean, Steve, Ashley, and more.
Lots of laughter.
People praying over me.
Group prayer.
Hugs. So many hugs. This hugger's heart could not have been happier.
Freedom to cry. Sean showing up and holding me in his arms even when I didn't know anyone saw me crying. What a sweet picture of Jesus.
So many opportunities to share my testimony.
Late nights.
Long conversations.
S'mores in the snow.
Karaoke. (I may or may not have sung Uptown Funk.)
The overwhelming feeling of love in the room.
PS: Wolfpack knocked a #1 seed out of the NCAA and is going to the Sweet 16. You know Mom called me. ;)

I'll be honest. As amazing as my church is, sometimes in the past I have felt like everyone had their own group and I didn't really have one (how normal, right?). Not anymore. These people rallied around me in many different ways. They are my family, no question. I belong. There's rest in that.

God made Himself so known and present at this retreat. At the first session, Dana asked us to think about what in our lives felt like a battle, and what we hoped to hear from God this weekend, and I just wanted peace and to know He was there. By Sunday, I was confident of His presence because of the love shared with my church family.

There's no other word to describe today except gratitude. I am grateful for every second of today and every person that was there. The body of Christ is such a beautiful thing when it's working as one.

Blogger deleted this entire post and I am too tired to rewrite everything, but this says enough. God is good. My church family is beyond amazing. And I am loved more than I can even wrap my head around.

Steve and Sean

Isis (yes, an unfortunate name given the current state of the world)

Kimarley. Kim hugs are the best! And luckily for me, he will hug me anytime I want.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

I'm not the murderer!

This was the start of a great few days that I've been looking forward to for a while now.

First I worked 9-5, which was fine, I guess. Just boring as all get out, per usual, and not so fun saying goodbye to some people I was seeing for the last time. After I clocked out, I hung out and relaxed for a bit and ate dinner because the bus was leaving from a really weird spot at 7 pm, and I didn't want to go home and then have to turn around and leave. People off the clock are in there a lot so no one cared.

I probably should be better about checking the weather every day, because I completely missed the news that it was supposed to snow today until I called Mommom this morning for her birthday and she asked "has it started snowing yet?" By the time I left for the bus at 6:30 it was POURING snow. So imagine everyone's great joy when the bus showed up at like 7:10 when we were told it would be there at 6:45.

Oh I should probably mention where I was going. This weekend was City Grace's church retreat weekend, so we were headed to this center up in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. There, just so no one is confused.

The bus ride there was fine. It only took a little over two hours with the snow. The group decided to play some weird Anime movie on the bus system, so I put in my earbuds and listened to music. I wanted to sleep, but the bus was too lurchy. Yes, I know that's not a real word. Go with it.

When we got there, everyone checked in and got our room keys and breathed for a few minutes before we had an icebreaker thing. We played two games - one was this dancing thing where we were in four teams and we all had to do the same motion at the same time and then call out another group. No hesitating, no mess ups, no repeating moves, or we were eliminated. My team won, which was cool. It was mostly just hilarious seeing the weird moves teams came up with.

Then we played a game called Wink Murder, which is apparently like some game called Mafia. Justin, who was overseeing everything, tapped three people on the shoulder while everyone had their eyes closed, and they became the murderers. Everyone had to go around greeting each other over and over and if a murderer winked at you, you had to wait ten seconds and then drop dead. You could accuse someone, but someone had to second it, and then if they were a murderer, they were dead, and if you were wrong, you were dead. I was the first person accused, and like thirty seconds in! Do I really look that suspicious?!  Too bad for Sean, the guy that accused me, I wasn't a murderer. We were all getting really into it, too, so much so that everyone was still afraid of me even after the group knew I wasn't one of the murderers. The funniest part is that I shook the hands of all three of the murderers but none of them winked at me.

After that, we were free to do whatever we wanted. I taught Jenga to Isis and Marcelo, my two Brazilian friends, and then played Taboo for a while until everyone got tired. Then I just took a shower and went to bed.

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