What’s The Next Step?

Next step after Graduation…okay, what now? As I think about that day looming ahead, where I walk across that stage, I find myself thinking more and more about what’s next. 

I have a plan, but even living out a plan is subject to life’s ups and downs of course. Moving out and moving on, is that the mantra? I should think of a better one. Because I’m not ready to say goodbye to the place that raised me. That’s another post though. Coming soon.

In this post I just want to say that the first step is making a plan. The second is making that plan take shape, the third is starting the plan, and the fourth is living the plan and all that that entails. Everything from where, who with, how much, what you’re  doing, what’s for dinner, who do I talk to, where’s the bathroom, where do I go to church, should I go to church, should I kiss him, should I kiss her, I don’t want to do this, I totally should do this, I want to do this, I totally should want to do this but I don’t, etc etc etc. 

Breathe. And repeat. What I mean is that life is all about defining the next step all the while trying to live in the moment. It’s an impossible and super messy job but it’s what living is about. The key is, that if you find yourself scared and without a next step, being willing to reach out and ask for help. Also you can be someone else’s guide, the one who pulls them off the street corner and helps them find their next step. Humble yourself and be nice to everyone. That’s what my mother taught me and so far it’s served me pretty well. God taught me to love everyone, and so I do.
Love you all even if you don’t see me,

C. 

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ASMR Is My Safe Zone

Have you ever heard of ASMR? It stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Very scientific sounding right? It’s actually a simple sensation, with a complicated explanation.

Most people define ASMR as the tingling sensation that occurs from the back of your head traveling up and down the spine. People claim to experience this tingling all over the body, and it can sometimes be associated with sexual pleasure though it is often misleading to consider ASMR as being about sex. The majority of this phenomenon has absolutely nothing to do with sex, rather very much the opposite.

Some people describe it as being about nostalgia. When your partner gently rubs your back or a friend plays with your hair and it reminds you of something a parent or guardian would do to soothe you to sleep as a child. Some people describe it being simply about any sounds they have a particular liking for.

So at this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m rambling about this weird phenomenon right? Well, the reason is, I have recently become obsessed with ASMR media. YouTube, the great place for all weird obsessions and trends, is home to what’s known as the ASMR artists community. It’s not just a community for the artists themselves, but for anyone who claims that they have and do experience ASMR as well as anyone who finds the content relaxing. An ASMR artist is usually someone who experiences ASMR and uses their own experiences and memories, as well as the basic knowledge of what “triggers” the ASMR response, and creates content on YouTube to cause this response and/or relax their viewers.

The main idea behind ASMR is to find any way possible to “trigger” the response. The point being that not only does this usually cause a pleasant tingling sensation, but the “triggers” are usually very relaxing and can even be therapeutic for sleep. The most common triggers are soft speaking/whispering, this involves a myriad of speech and mouth sounds, tapping, page turning, hand movements, face brushing, etc.

The possibilities are endless and each person is different. Role play is a very popular form of content probably because it acts out different real life situations where someone could find themselves experiencing ASMR.

I’ll continue to tell you more about ASMR on my blog in the future. The particular reason I’m discussing it today has to do with what ASMR has meant to me. As someone who struggles with ADD, be that the attention problems as well as the natural restlessness, I also have to deal with side effects of the meds I take. I often find myself unable to fall asleep easily at night, and I can almost never take a nap during the day. ASMR has changed all of that for me. I simply plug in my headphones to my laptop, go to YouTube, and search through all the latest content as well as all my old favorites. I consider a good ASMR video to be one that features someone warm and kind looking, with a soft and pleasant voice, who is very attentive and organized in their content. I’m experiencing ASMR right now just thinking about my favorites. (To give you an idea, it feels like something is gently brushing the top of my head and lightly down my neck, it produces a euphoric feeling with it). The best ones can put me to sleep when I want, but can also simply relax me when I don’t want to sleep.

For me, ASMR is an answer to a prayer I never realized I could ask. I have always been a physical person in the sense that I like hugs, and when I was little I loved to play with people’s hands and have my back rubbed. I thought situations in real life that created those feelings were supposed to be avoided, or that I wasn’t supposed to talk about them. Then I found out that there was nothing wrong with these feelings and that many people experience them.

At the heart of it, ASMR is about establishing a level of connection and intimacy that is growing harder and harder to maintain. It proves that we have a lack of affection for each other and it’s hurting us, creating the need for strangers to reach through their cameras and computers to care for others like them, who just want to know they matter, and that they are loved. ASMR gives me a place to go where I can feel safe and warm, knowing someone thinks I’m worth caring for.

However and wherever your safe place is, I hope it gives you joy, and that you can share it with someone, somehow.

P.S. If anyone reading this is an ASMR fan or artist, if I left out anything you think I shouldn’t have, or said anything wrong, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Love always,

C.

Because I Need To Write…

I’m writing this post. Not because anyone will read it. No one is probably going to read it, but maybe sharing it here will give someone a bit of something, whatever that may be. It will be short, because I’m only beginning to figure out what I need to say. 

I’m 22 years old. About to graduate college, like in a month. I have a summer job and a plan for the next full year of my life. I’m still terrified. I know we should have learned by now that it’s not about box checking, but I think it’s been drilled into our generation for so long that it’s hard to let go of. I have a few boxes checked. But there’s still so much to go and do. 

I’m terrified not because I don’t think I’ll be enough, even though that is a real fear of mine. I’m terrified because everything is just beginning and the world seems so big and wide, and yet the voices telling me it’s already over keep chiming in. I haven’t done anything yet. I haven’t even gotten started and there are so many obstacles in my way. But the biggest obstacle for me and others in my place? The fear of the generation that raised us. Our creative spirit, our drive to change the world paired with the skills that only the latest generations have whatever you determine those to be, our softness of heart, maybe sometimes to our own detriments. Our unfailing need to be politically correct. Our need to inspire ourselves and others. To use technological outlets to let each other know that we are not alone. The generation that raised us is afraid this is not enough to make us great. In their fear and worry they see the cracks more than the beauty. I’m not saying it’s our job to fix how they see us, but our job is to not let that view influence how we see ourselves. 

We will prove them wrong, or at least assuage some of their fears by diving in despite our fears. You always hear that you can do anything you want. Guess what? Our generation makes that true, in a new way, a brighter way. 

Love the world. Learn to love yourself. Dive in. Get started. However you come to a place to know yourself, find a way to make it happen. Be you. 

Love always,

C. 

Going To Scotland!!!!!

It’s official! On June 7, I will be headed to Scotland for the second time. The first time I went I was only in middle school and so I remember it, but the memories have faded a bit. I’ll be headed with my school, Presbyterian College on a trip called a Maymester. I’m sure other schools call it this, but it’s called that because it usually happens in May. My two favorite professors are leading the trip and I’m so excited.

Of course the main draw of this trip is that I haven’t been to Scotland since I found Outlander. I’ve been lots of places, I’ve been very lucky for someone my age, to be able to have been to all the places I’ve gotten to go, but I’m so excited about Scotland. I’ve felt the love of this country in my heart my whole life and I’m so ready to be there. I don’t know what to expect this time. My parents showed me Scotland the first time and it was amazing but this time I have to do a lot of the experiencing myself. I still remember what I learned about Stirling Castle, and the art museum in the middle of the woods near Glasgow, I remember walking the streets of Edinburgh, sitting on the bank of Loch Lomond and loving every bit of it all. I remember I felt like I was in this private part of the world, a paradise, where even though you have the ability to be connected with the rest of the world, you can choose to not be, to just live peacefully and quietly by yourself. The mountains and lochs embrace you and make you feel safe.

I have a friend who also blogs, and she’s been living in Scotland for the past year going to grad school. It has been a testament to my limited short experience to hear of her spiritual journey that Scotland has led her on. It’s been wonderful to follow her journey.

Last week I watched Episode 208 of Outlander, the episode in season two where Clair and Jamie travel back to familiar Scotland. You could feel the reverence for which the show had for Scotland. It was palpable, how they felt as the fans did, that we all were truly coming home. Well Scotland, here I come, I’m heading home!

I’ll blog about my travels as we go and maybe post some pics on here as well. Can’t wait!!!

Musings About Outlander And Marriage

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As I stood in my kitchen today making my lunch, I began to think about what Outlander means to me, which is a lot, I mean a lot, and why it means so much. I thought about the fandoms I’m a part of and what the community of these fandoms means to me as well.

I realized one very important thing, Outlander represents what I view as an almost perfect marriage.

In Outlander, our main characters, Claire and Jamie, have fallen in love, and its timeless, yes timeless, and yet it grew out of nothing but an acquaintance. Claire is forced to marry Jamie, knowing little more than the fact that he’s been the nicest person to her besides Mrs. Fitzgibbons, and outside of Castle Leoch, he’s the only nice character who seems to care about what happens to her. The beautiful thing is, Jamie already cares deeply for Claire, as we find out later on in the books. Anyway, there love blossoms from their intense attraction towards each other that pulls them closer as friends, and their desires grow from there.

That’s only one point about their marriage I want to make. Another far more important bit to note is the list of wonderful aspects to their marriage that they set as rules and bounds to follow from the very early days:

They are honest with each other, they ask of each other to always either be honest or be clear they don’t want to tell the other person something, as long as it doesn’t cause a bigger conflict later on, of course they learn pretty much every secret about each other eventually.

They are supportive of each other, and see each other as equals, yes equals. Jamie believes the way that society has raised him to believe in all its 18th century customs, and yet, when he realizes how important Claire’s independence is to her, he respects her, choosing to love her the way she is, instead of forcing her to obey him like any other wife. He is kind to her, and she in turn, does not force all of her 1940’s sensibilities onto him either.

They protect each other. Jamie offers her the protection of his body, and yet Claire saves him time and again using her medical knowledge, as well as smarts and cunning. They are pretty much even for how many times they’ve had to rescue each other.

They apologize through other means as well as sex after an argument. They have a lot of make up sex, but it only happens after they have apologized or talked through the conflict, and gradually find each other again.

They don’t talk awfully to each other in a real sense. Yes there’s the famous moment when they curse and spit at each other after he rescues her from Black Jack’s clutches, but even in that moment, they instantly regret it and show that to each other.

I’ve pretty much implied it already, but they compromise and try to find the best way to go forward with each other. When Jamie realizes Claire is not a typical female of that time, instead of ultimately forcing her to be subjected to his punishments in the future, he discusses the fact that maybe they should go a different way in their relationship than he’s ever known anyone going before. When Claire realizes that Jamie loves her already, she doesn’t push herself away from him, but resolves to care for him the way she does, and allow for the possibility of love to come into her someday, but isn’t set on it happening immediately.

These traits as well as many more I could list are the things that make Claire and Jamie so wonderful together.

As far as the fandoms, I realized that the women who are a part of these communities are much older than I for the most part and therefore have spouses of their own. They love to brag at how wonderful and supportive their loved ones are of their obsessions. One woman shared how she was fearful of an upcoming surgery, and her husband held her and whispered “Nothing will happen to ye as long as I’m with ye, Sassenach.” She ended the post with, “Well played husband, well played.” I smile to myself when I read these things, but I feel an ache pull at my heart strings. It’s a painful ache, but it’s not all bad.

I realized two very important things from these women:

That I firmly believe Outlander helped shape who they are, and therefore the type of man they wanted to spend their lives with.

That I want to find my own obsession supporting/genuinely good person husband of my own when my time comes.

In reference to the first, I believe that these women were forever changed by these books, and whether it was Diana Gabaldon’s intention or not, she created a man better than any we’ve seen in literature up to this point at least. Jamie is the most human and yet most understanding and good man in literature that (I at least) have ever come across. The fans of this series were shaped by that, and whether they realized it or not, changed how they responded to men and what they sought in a man.

In reference to the second, I just want a man who gets me. I want a man who doesn’t meanly tease me about my obsessions but understands their importance to me. I want a man who actually wants to watch my shows and movies with me. I want a man who understands how I can cry during every single episode of Call the Midwife, or never admit the cliche of Titanic that everybody else apparently sees and therefore will never stop loving it no matter how many times I think about how Jack could have survived, we all know he could have, that’s not the point, the point is she was supposed to live on for him. I digress. Sorry.

I hope Outlander continues to show people the kind of love that is not only worth holding out for, its actually attainable. It frustrates me when girls hold out for a love like twilight, which I think is beautiful, but it’s not realistic, if it was, since vampires don’t exist, you would be holding out for a sociopath. Just saying. The love that Claire and Jamie have is timeless and its attainable, and its beautiful. My advice to all the readers of this post, go read and watch the love story in action, you won’t regret it.

Inspired? Or Too Much Caffeine?

Do you ever have those moments when everything feels like its moving super fast inside of you, and you can’t tell whether its physically like the blood is flowing at warp speed, and sugar is racing through your body, or your soul feels like its on fire? I feel like that right now. I think it’s the caffeine, but I also think it is the way I respond to the caffeine mentally that turns on my creative flow.

I am an artist, and a writer, so for me, when I’m hyped up on caffeine, I want to be productive in every way imaginable. I want to finish that pastel piece I started weeks ago that’s been sitting in the corner of my room since I decided it messed with my organization sensibilities for it to be in the middle of the floor any longer. I want to finish that sketch I started of Jamie and Claire from Outlander, that sketch that I had to find just the right picture for, a picture that inspired me to recreate it, one where I could really feel the love and intensity between them, yet also didn’t have them making weird faces at each other. I want to add more to my fan fiction stories, the stories I really don’t want people to know I write because they’ll think I’m either really weird or really geeky, which if I’m being honest, I’m totally both of those things. I want to watch disney movies and yet I’m too wired to just sit and do nothing. I want to do homework, do my two errands I’ve been putting off all week, etc.

And yet, the problem is, I’m so wired that I’m afraid if I do any of these things, my heart will race and my blood will pump even faster than it already is and give me a heart attack. I know deep down that’s ridiculous, but I usually do everything except read at a slow rate, I fully exemplify my southern heritage in that regard. I do everything at a Scarlett O’Hara pace, just usually with half the motivation.

I’m inspired, and yet physically all I can do is sit here and think about all the things I love to do. I feel vain, and yet I feel special. How can I feel both of these things at once. My ADD is driving me up a wall. I’m making less and less sense. I just want to create something that shows how I feel, that’s a piece of myself on the outside for people to look at or read and appreciate for what it is. I need to breathe. Maybe if I just sit here and breathe for a while I’ll feel better. Breathe.

Inspiration is like magic, it always comes with a price. I feel dark saying that. Maybe that’s way too negative an approach. What I mean is, you have to push yourself to follow the muse, the inspiration, the creative flow, or you’ll miss your opportunity and you’ll find yourself once again staring at another half-completed work. You swore to yourself you would make some brilliant piece that would impress people and yet you can’t even finish it to present it to the world. So it goes back to the corner of the room, where you draw a petal at a time on your pastel flower. This is what the price is. This is what they mean when the greats talk about being a slave to their muses. I need to figure out how to get my muse to listen to me.

Of course this is all figurative. I’m a good PCUSA member and don’t believe in mystical spirits which follow me around and help me make beautiful works of art, but I do believe that the holy spirit inspires me to be creative, and it’s not always at a convenient time for me. I need to learn how to channel the deep emotions that I feel into a more productive form. A lot of the time, well most of the time actually, I just end up sitting on my bed and crying or thinking to myself about the beautiful or tragic movie ending I just watched. Or I feel the goosebumps when I hear a good song and then I move on to the next one. Sometimes I don’t even acknowledge that I feel it. But I always do. I always feel it.

Spiritually Searching

Why is it that when I look for articles and blogs about women who understand what it’s like to be young and spiritually searching, I can never find any about college age women? All of my favorites that I’ve come across are always women who have already started their lives, with a spouse and lots of babies. They write articles that make my heart sing and my spirit soar and yet they don’t connect with me exactly where I am. I feel the comfort and warm blanket that is the beginning of their young lives, but they are not where I am. I am in college, and am still trying to figure things out, based on where I am in my spiritual journey. I want to talk to women who understand the way that I want to talk to my sorority sisters about faith. I swear if I read one more article to them about a mother seeing God in her children their going to think something very untrue about me. I don’t want to scare them with talk of strong women who are also mothers, but how mothers, daughters, and especially sisters help each other grow in their faith. I love Sarah Bessey, and I love her book Jesus Feminist, but she’s a mom and her college years are behind her. She talks about things that apply to my life, but what about the struggles of navigating friendships that I have with other women for other reasons than because we’re both moms. Which I’m not. A mom I mean. I love grown up world, and I have always been able to navigate it ahead of the curve, but I don’t have a fully grown up faith yet, and I, along with my sisters, are still working on getting there.