Tag Archives: change

to everything, there is a season.

I know I’m not alone in loving this time of year. The return of football and pumpkin everything, fragrant warm beverages and cozy sweaters, riding boots and blue jeans – it’s the most delightful season. As the warmth of summer gives way to cooler days (In Oklahoma it’s 80 instead of 100…not quite as lovely as a Northeast fall, but I’ll take it!), I’m savoring what makes this season so lovely as we settle into my favorite quarter of the year.

We know that seasons are simply that – a season. A finite period of time. Seasons do not last forever; they flow seamlessly into the next, marking time or a mood or a sequence of events. Our lives are full of seasons – joy and growth, sadness and struggle, excitement and possibility, uncertainty and fear. With each passing season, we learn more about who we are and what we are capable of, who we can count on and what brings us fulfillment.

Some of the biggest changes in my life have occurred during the fall: moving from Pittsburgh to Pensacola, getting married, moving from Pensacola to Oklahoma, beginning this whole deployment thing, just to name a few. I take some comfort in the fact that as my life went through these drastic shifts, the universe was reminding me that change was all around me. I wasn’t alone. Change brings hope and opportunity, change can be good.

As I weathered some of these transitions, I didn’t always feel fully myself or fully connected. There were plenty of moments I longed for what used to be, what was familiar and comfortable. Over the years I’ve learned to make the most of where I am, to invest fully into the people and the community where I find myself, to accept the things I cannot change. I’ve learned that sometimes relationships only last for a season or two, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful or meaningful. I’ve learned that even though we can try to prepare ourselves for the unexpected, we can find ourselves in a season we didn’t see coming. Change isn’t always welcome, but that doesn’t keep it from happening.

A tree may lose its leaves in the fall, but you know what? It will grow new ones in the spring. Although they may appear to be the same as the ones from years prior, they are not. At its core, the tree is constant, but there is always change in its leaves. And the same holds true for us. There may be deeply rooted values and attributes that make up our core, but as the seasons change, we change. Our schedules, our priorities, our hopes, our challenges, our community, and our attitudes all impact the season we find ourselves in. Whether we find ourselves at peace with our circumstances or shaking our fists at the universe, one thing is for certain: this too shall pass.


Three years ago today, Charlie and I wrapped up our roadtrip to Oklahoma. He was a little leery of it at first, but his eyes don’t look so spooked anymore.



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I’ll be there for you.

Last week, I had a conversation with a coworker about CDs. He mentioned that he and his wife were clearing out old boxes of albums – if the album was accounted for in their digitally-stored library, the physical album was out the door. He jokingly said to me, “nobody actually buys CDs anymore, do they?” I sheepishly replied that I still do…and he proceeded to look at me like I was a crazy person. I’d like to point out that this person has children my age. Yep. 

For certain artists, I still insist on buying their album in tangible album form. I do love you, iTunes, but there’s just something the real thing. Over the years, I developed an inaugural cd-listening ritual: after peeling off that outer layer of film and removing the adhesive seal (and a chunk of my nail polish), I’d pop out the album and put it in my stereo system (remember those things?), settle in to read the liner notes and savor the album from start to finish.

Similarly, I did something last weekend that I haven’t done in ages: I burned a mix CD. Hello, 2005. My CD mixes were pretty legendary during my college years, but in the age of iPods and playlists and fancy phones, their frequency diminished. One thing I love about my mix CDs is that they represent a specific time period in my life, and when I listen to them, I’m reminded of the people I danced around my dorm room with, epic roadtrips, the things my heart wanted, the words that expressed my thoughts better than I ever could. These songs chosen reflect a larger story; the soundtrack of my life, perhaps. So cheesy. And unlike playlists, I don’t need to delete them off my phone when I need to make room for more pictures of Nim and Charlie. #truestory

…clearly I’m hanging onto something from yesteryear. Like many twenty- and thirty-somethings these days, I’ve been watching lots of Friends on Netflix during these cold winter days and it’s made me a bit nostalgic. Not only do I love the humor and the awesome 90s fashion, but the camaraderie and sense of belonging that is shared among the characters is such a beautiful, enviable thing. How great would it be to have your best friends across the hall? Heck, I can barely get my neighbors to make eye contact and say hello.

Ben and I always joke with each other about being old souls. It’s something I love about us, something I embrace and own wholeheartedly. Like many things in life, my mindset with technology is that it’s all about balance. Yes, it’s amazing and good and helpful…but to a point. I’m a firm believer that there need to be boundaries. The best things in life aren’t shared via WiFi or measured by likes and retweets and shares. There’s beauty in simplicity – something I’m savoring more and more each day. Now if I could just move all the people I love a little closer together, I’d be set.

Likely, it’s the lovable characters and the shenanigans they find themselves in, but could it also be the nostalgia? Maybe it’s the idea that the ’90s and early 2000s were a simpler time, filled with landlines, VCRs and mixed tapes. It was a time when you met with your friends at your go-to coffee shop to hear about the drama in their lives… because there was no GChat. It was a time when Ross could get stranded at a rest stop while everyone else went on a ski trip because cell phones weren’t a thing. There’s no end to the debacles our favorite friends found themselves in that wouldn’t be possible with today’s technology. In fact, how boring would the show have been if everyone just texted each other? [Brit + Co.]

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she wore a yellow ribbon.

Last week on my way home from the dog park, while I was waiting for the stop light to change, I glanced over to the bank on the corner and the enormous U.S. flag they display. It was completely dark outside, and the flag was still on the pole, not illuminated, faintly visible in the night sky. (In case you need to brush up on your flag etiquette, here you go.) And suddenly I felt a surge of anger. Because, you know, that’s completely normal, right?

My thought process went a little something like this:  How disrespectful…don’t they know if they’re going to fly the flag at night, it should be properly illuminated? I should go tape a note to their door with a print-out of proper flag protocol…how rude. Who am I, Michelle Tanner? *a couple quiet moments in my brain* …what the heck just happened? Why is this upsetting me? Slow your roll, Kristen.

It’s starting to happen. Preparing for deployment has turned me into a certifiably crazy person.

These strange, overly-sensitive reactions to things that in my brain somehow connect to the Navy and deployment and Ben became more frequent as his departure date approached. When I hear the national anthem, I get teary-eyed and a lump in my throat. When I see I person in uniform (there are tons at OU every Thursday – ROTC kids), I want to run up and hug them. (Don’t worry, I don’t. I haven’t involved other people in my crazy…yet.) Sappy songs about long-distance love are not allowed on my playlist. I would look at Ben’s socks on the floor and think to myself how I’m going to miss seeing his socks on the floor. This coming from a person who does not like clutter and thinks that everything has a place and should be in said place unless it is being used. Before he left this morning, Ben cradled Nimitz’s head in his hands and told him that he was going to be the man of the house now, it was his job to protect me. Yep, nearly lost it. I couldn’t say “good morning” to Ben today without getting all teary-eyed.

We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this, and for that I am so grateful. But I don’t think it ever feels like you have enough time to prepare for deployment. The day comes, and you deal with it. That’s it. There really isn’t any other choice.

Today was the day. I dropped Ben off at the airport early this morning. I take comfort in knowing that he’ll be back for Christmas and will be somewhat accessible until he goes overseas in January, but it still broke my heart to watch him walk away. I came home to two very sweet (and still very sleepy) puppies. I’ve deep cleaned the house, done two loads of laundry, and other random chores all before 9:00 a.m. I guess that’s what a 4:30 wake up is good for – lots of morning energy. I’m determined to keep myself busy and not dwell on the fact that Ben is gone. The goodbye day is always the hardest.

So here we go…this deployment journey is officially underway. Let’s do this.



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just like that.

reclaim: to rescue from an undesirable state, to regain possession of, to recover.

I’ve jokingly referred to 2014 as the “Year of Reclaiming Kristen”.  It makes it sound like a laborious undertaking, but what it really means to me is that I’m being more mindful of what I need to do to be the best version of myself, and also recognize what hinders me from being that person.

Somewhere along the way, with each move around the country, each unfamiliar town, all the unfamiliar people, and a few lofty challenges thrown in for good measure, I had become a less lovely version of myself.  Stress, anxiety, depression, plain ol’ tiredness…whatever you want to call it…these things swallowed my energy and burdened my mind and body.  There were days I just felt hollow, like the girl I knew and enjoyed being got left behind somewhere.  And I hated it.  But I didn’t know how to fix it.  So I just stumbled through those dark days, doing the best I could, and hoping that it would get better.

I can’t point to a single moment when the change began, but it did.  I got tired of feeling hollow and sad.  And I decided to stop.  Just like that.

Like I shared last month, one of my new year’s resolutions was to acknowledge and embody that to best love and bring joy to others, I need to love and bring joy to myself.  This idea and mindset really started taking shape and framing my perspective and actions in the fall – and it’s been a great mantra to remind myself of throughout the days since then.

It’s nothing revolutionary.  For me, it’s been regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, being mindful of what I eat (so long, gluten), saying “no” if I need to, prioritizing my time…you know, basic stuff.  It’s being mindful that neglecting my health and well-being affects those around me.  It’s recognizing that sometimes you need to take a minute (or a day) to recharge and regroup.  It’s accepting that there are going to be hard days and seemingly insurmountable challenges in life.  But you do what can, you take it one day at a time, and you control what you can control.  You get through it with the help of people who love you even when you’re not at your best.  You hope and pray and trust that good things are ahead.

I’m encouraged.  Not because the reclamation and reformation process is complete, but because it’s happening.  I’m laughing more and stressing less (…or at least trying to).  I’m looking forward with hope in efforts to not stumble over what is behind me.  Life presents us with continual opportunities to make choices and decisions – and this includes how we choose to face the day, how we handle the unexpected, how we interact with others.  And I’m choosing joy, grace, and love.

The best is yet to come, friends.  The best is yet to come.


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“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

Oh, Shakespeare.  I’m sure many of you know these lines (or at least the first two) from As You Like It.  The Bard served as a sort of prophet with these verses, especially the sentiment that “one man in his time plays many parts”.  My life has embodied this phrase, being composed of fragmented parts, isolated and distinct worlds that seldom collide.  When I was in college, my worlds consisted of the home life, college life, and for awhile, camp life.  The separation has continued since, adding even more strata to the layers of my life.

It is difficult to have relationships that transcend each of these worlds.  In my case, many reside primarily in one, perhaps two, of these realms.  Their understanding of the others relies solely on my description and account of the stage they do not know.  I was talking with a friend last night about the beauty of those who know you throughout the transitions, who see you age over time, who know your past and understand how it has shaped who you have become.  Such people are rare treasures.  In our longing to know and to be known, it seems that the history is an important part.  I consider it a privilege to enter into the homes, the families, the favorite spots of childhood of those who have entered my life a bit later.  Their demeanor seems to change as we enter these places of their past.  I’m entering a new world; one where perhaps they are more comfortable, free to let down the walls and guards, free to laugh uncontrollably and shine authentically. 

There are some people from my past that I wish could see my world today.  There are moments of the last few years that I’m glad those who know me now didn’t have to experience with me.  While these moments have shaped me into the woman I am today, I do not consider them to be the shining moments or the ones I am most inclined to share.  In her book Mudhouse Sabbath, a great little read about Jewish traditions and their value to a life of spiritual discipline, Lauren Winner says the following about hospitality, which I think extends beyond to relationships, vulnerability and honesty:

  “…I understood why [he] had spoken of hospitality as unbending one’s self.  In this unbending there was a genuine return to hachnassat orchim, to an inviting of guests.  The irony is that the unbending requires inviting my neighbors into the very places where I am the most bent.  So you see that asking people into my life is not so different from asking them into my apartment.  Like my apartment, my interior life is never going to be wholly respectable, cleaned up and gleaming.  But that is where I live.”

This is where I live.  One person, many parts.  Quirky as ever.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I can’t seem to escape it.  And just when I think I do…it keeps coming back.  The fateful inquiry – and sometimes dreaded conversation piece – has resurfaced.  You all know it.  And it goes a little something like this: “what are your plans for after graduation?”.  Oh yes.  I said it.  I know it’s only January.  But I’m already getting emails about May 14th. 

Much of my twenty-three years has been focused upon the next step.  My parents lovingly and painstakingly instilled in me the ways of proper hygiene, socialization, and literacy in order to prepare me for the fantastic days of kindergarten.  I could tie my shoes.  I properly identified letters and numbers.  I never really got the napping thing down, but that seemed to be acceptable.  Exhibits of attendance and performance allowed for the easy passing from each grade to the next.  Soon life was full of basketball practices, dance lessons, musical rehearsals, and the typical high school social obligations, and before I knew it, I was donning a mortarboard and saying goodbye to Fredonia High.  This marks the first appearance of that fateful question.  And I had an answer.  I went to college.  It seemed like it was the right thing to do.  It was expected.  It was what logically came next.  It satisfied the inquiries.  Four years later, the question reappeared like a reluctant bad habit.  Many advised me to consider more education or finding a job and taking some time to get my feet under me.  Staying true to my decision making skills, I chose both.  And here we are, two years later, and I find myself in the same predicament, answering the same question.  It never goes away.

This time is a little different…simultaneously harder and easier.  The other transitions seemed natural.  I had to do something or else I’d be left twiddling my thumbs.  This year, I find myself in a position that requires no change.  I have a job and a home, and to many, that is enough.  There is no pressure for seeking something new, for the old and familiar will continue and suffice.  Yet the question still comes, and it still overwhelms me at times.  I don’t have my future planned out in exquisite detail.  The best I can come up with right now is that I’m taking this semester a day at a time.  I’m trying to savor the present-day instead of stressing about the future.  I have hope in what is unseen.  I know that it’s going to be okay.  And for now, that’s my answer.

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…they sure don’t make things like they used to.

Pennsylvania is a pretty big state.  While only ranked 33 out of the 50 (yes, I checked), occupying over 46,000 square miles, the good ol’ Keystone State takes a bit of time to traverse.  My trusty steed carried me out to Harrisburg and back to witness Danny B (Diva) get hitched.  Oh, high school.  The memories came back of the “good ol’ days”.  Some familiar faces reappeared.  I was reminded that I’m getting older – I’m now that one saying, “I remember when you were this big…” and other variations of the like.  But seriously, when did these kids grow up, go to high school, and have their voices drop an octave?  I remember when they were rambunctious little eight-year-olds fighting over who got to have a piggy-back ride first and tickling me because they liked to watch me squirm.  Oh my.

Finding ourselves in the neighborhood (aka 50 mile radius) of Ben’s college roommate and dear friend, we decided to stick around for most of Sunday in order to pay him and his wife a visit before heading back to the west side of the state.  We needed something to help pass the time before we were to meet.  In efforts to take advantage of our location, we tried to think of what was nearby and was also something that we could do only here, rather than going to Barnes & Noble or a mall (Ben agreed to go to the mall – a rarity.  Actually, a first occurrence.  I should have taken advantage of it!).  We set out for one of my favorite vacation destinations of my youth: Gettysburg.  A town full of history and charm, it made for a delightful afternoon.  Starting near Lincoln Square, we weaved our way through the town streets, window-shopping, wine-tasting (and for Ben, cigar-smoking) and people-watching.  For a moment we seemed to be more like eighty-year-olds than twenty-somethings as we marvelled at the buildings and town structure concluding that they sure don’t make things like they used to.  The architecture, the landscaping, tall doors, intricate detail and ornamentation all serve as a testament to the past, marking an era much different than the one we inhabit today.  One of the homes was trimmed with brightly neon-colored paint – it made me cringe.  It just didn’t fit; it looked out of place, a seemingly post-modern statement of style and perspective amidst a treasured corridor of the past.  Later on, as we made our way to Chambersburg, the architecture and colonial-esque appearance continued.  James and Danelle’s apartment was in a beautiful old home, with arched doorways, hardwood floors, french doors…I could go on and on about the glories of old homes.  The charm and character are so much more inviting than the often sterile modern creations.

It was a wonderful weekend – relaxing, a bit of a getaway, time to catch up with friends…even victories for both the Bills and the Steelers.  The weekend served as a reminder of the transient nature of our lives, as well as the enduring elements of our country, the creation, and mankind.  I’m hesitant to claim that the time following the monumental battle of July 1863 has been one strictly of progress, for each one’s definition of progress may be a bit different.  I think it is fair to say that things have changed, leaving judgment of for better or worse to the eye of the beholder.  The unintended consequences of the invention and adoption of tools of convenience, as well as revelations and discoveries, of the past abound and continue to surface – easily accepted, rarely acknowledged or critiqued (an easy one, for example: implications of the automobile).  But one thing is for certain: they sure don’t make things like they used to.  One day people will be recycling this phrase when referring to things familiar in our times.  So what will endure and be considered valuable, and what will quickly fade from memory?  I hope that the artifacts of my generation will evidence more than a technology-addicted, shallow, self-indulgent culture.  Only time will tell.

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