Speak Life

It’s a cozy morning. I’m supposed to work late today for an event, so that means I don’t go into work until noon. I set my alarm for 8:12 – just as a safeguard in case I slept in uncommonly late, but woke up long before it was set to go off.

I’d turned my heater off during the night because I was nice and toasty, so I awoke to a 32 degree home. Since I didn’t need to rush to work I curled up under a warm blanket with hot coffee and my Bible, journal, and a couple of nonfiction books. It was delightful.

Eventually, I transitioned to my computer where I watched part of a Youtube video about how much a certain vlogger spends each week (I’m currently exceedingly fascinated by budgeting) while eating breakfast. And now I’m getting some computer work done which is something I’ve been sadly remiss in during the last six months.

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One of the books I was reading this morning is Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf. I’ve heard about her research a lot from my family and decided that it was time for me to read her book for myself.

Beginning in my early twenties I began to really focus on my thoughts and words – especially in speaking life, both out loud and to myself. Some seasons of life I do better than others. Recently I’ve been realizing that although I have been doing a good job in speaking life out loud, I’m not always consistent with keeping my mindset focused on the good when it comes to other people – particularly those who annoy me.

But, that’s one of the neat things about speaking life – when I cut off the negative thoughts that I think about others and instead choose to dwell on their positive attributes, it actually changes the way I think about them. This is for a variety of reasons, but the main one is that when I’m focusing on the good, then I am looking for good, and you can generally find what you’re looking for.

When you’re around people who aren’t familiar with the principle of speaking life, it’s so easy to get caught up in the spirit of negativity – no matter if it’s real negativity or else joking negativity. But what I’ve discovered is that even joking negativity can affect people.

Because of that, I’m working on not speaking negativity – even in jest. You can be funny, joke around, and enter into the banter of the workplace while still doing it in a life-giving way. It sometimes makes me have to think harder to make jokes while still building people up, but that’s okay – it’s a good brain exercise.

Today I’m going to work on only speaking life in my mind, even when I get annoyed. And, if I can’t think of anything positive about someone, then my fallback is to remind myself that despite how they’re acting, they’re made in the image of God, and therefore, they’re important, special, blessed, and deserve me to treat them with respect.

Are you familiar with the concept of speaking life? There’s so much in the Bible about it, and I’d be delighted to write a blog post about it someday if anyone is interested.

Hello, Wind, Snow, and Cold

A week ago my camper was cold, uninsulated, and completely unprepared for winter. Then some of my people from back home in Ohio ventured out on a damp, freezing November morning and came to help me prepare my little home for the howling winds of the next few months.

We began the visit with nourishing vegetable soup I’d made the day before and garlic bread that I baked in the oven to help warm the camper up. Then we transitioned to the chaos of trying to move everything away from the windows so we could put plastic over them. The adventure of tearing my little home apart while it was full of people was maybe a bit more on the crazy than whimsical side, but it was fun.

Over the course of the day, we covered the windows with plastic, made trips (two of them) to Lowes, fixed various issues, ran antifreeze through the waterlines, and probably a lot of other little things that not being a handyman I’m unaware of.

In between the excitement of all that work, we also snuck in a trip to the Creation Museum we arrived there just an hour before closing, so everything was settling down for the evening which meant I could drag my Ohio People throughout the empty halls, calling out to my Museum People for introductions. It was delightful and wonderful and absolutely made my day.

I got visitor passes for my little group and took them back for a tour of the office space my team uses, plus I was able to introduce them to my bosses. That was fun. We stood around chatting and I was filled with happiness as I got to watch two of my worlds merging.

As it turns out, we timed the winterization of my camper perfectly, because that night the temperatures dipped to at least 10 degrees lower than they previously had, but my cozy home stayed a good 35 degrees warmer than it would have before. (Meaning it was 60ish degrees instead of 25 degrees when we woke up.)

Since then it’s snowed, the wind has recklessly sung throughout the day, and my phone has randomly shut off on my way to work from the cold, yet my camper remains a delightful place to return to. (As long as I’m bundled up, that is.)

I’m so thankful for my adventure of living in a camper for the winter, and I’m eager to see how the next few months play out.

And now I’m off to work. Blessings to you, my friends!

Where I am at the Museum {Part Four – Aka The End}

Folks, when I sat down to start blogging my story I would have never imagined that it would take me this long to tell the story, nor that I would add so many details. Apparently, I’ve missed going into storytelling mode on my blog and decided to make up for it by writing a whole book for y’all. 😉

The week and a half between when I had my job interview and when I officially found out that I was part of SET was one of the longest short periods of my life. I tried not to think about it and just go about daily living and I did pretty well until the date arrived when they said I’d probably hear back from them. Then it seemed like I couldn’t think about anything besides the job.

Literally, every time I saw Mr. Assistant Director on the day when they said I might have an answer I got sick to my stomach. He was really busy that day and I kept over-thinking things and wondering if he was actually in a hurry every time I saw him, or if he was just avoiding me because he had to break it to me later that I hadn’t made the team.

At one point in time, I was back in the offices to talk to my manager about a scheduling conflict and Mr. Director and I passed each other. Mr. Director asked if I was looking for him, and I told him no, but then just literally stood there – mouth and eyes wide open, hoping he would say something. He looked at me a little bit perplexed, then went past me. I knew he had a lot on his mind and realized he probably hadn’t remembered that I was supposed to get an answer that day, so after I was done talking to my manager, I decided that if I got another opportunity I’d go to Mr. Director and outright ask him if he had any news.

As I was leaving the office area (which is really big and has a lot of hallways) I saw Mr. Director down the main hallway, talking to someone. I thought it would look awkward to just stand there waiting to talk to him, so I actually turned around and went back down the hall I had just come from, so I could wait for a moment then walk past the hallway he was in again, to make it seem like a chance meeting. (I know, I know. That’s a little extreme, but folks, at this point I was freaking out.)

When I casually came down the hall again, Mr. Director was walking up the other hallway alone, so I headed his way. He greeted me and asked if I needed something and I very eloquently (insert sarcastic roll of eyes here) eeked out something about him having told me to check back after a week and it had been a week and so I wondered if he had an update for me? He told me he’d find me later to talk. I told him where I was working for the day then hurried back to my station to freak out.

After overthinking his response for an hour or so I told myself to chill. I mean, surely he wouldn’t tell me in public if I hadn’t gotten the job, right?

When I finally saw him walking toward me, I smiled and tried not to feel too intimidated.  The funny thing was that until I went to apply to be on SET I had never once been intimated by Mr. Director and instead had joked with him and often thought about how he was incredibly approachable. Mr. Director basically told me that they needed something approved by HR before they could officially let me know if I was on SET or not, and HR was gone for the weekend so I’d just have to be patient.

“Oh dear, I’m so sorry if I haven’t been patient…” was my outward response, but inside I was like “I am being so patient” because I felt like a lifetime had passed. After that Mr. Bookstore Manager and I were talking and I told him how they’d told me to check back after a week and that I’d done that, and I hoped I had done the right thing and not been impatient. He assured me that I’d done fine and that I was doing a good job with not being pushy but letting them know I really was interested in the position.

Then Sunday rolled around and I somehow found out very unofficially that I was going to get the job.

Cue the excitement. But, it wasn’t official, and so I couldn’t really say anything to anyone or act like I knew. That made the next few days go by at a much better pace, plus helped me sleep better at night. Now I just needed to wait for Mr. Director and Mr. Assistant Director to tell me officially so I could share the news with the world.

On Wednesday I was once again in the offices to talk to my manager and Mr. Director was actually talking to my manager, too. When I walked into their office, he asked me if I was looking for him, and I said that I was actually looking for my manager. He’s like “Well then if you don’t need me I guess I’ll just stand here being ignored.” I laughed said, “Well, I mean I wasn’t looking for you, but since I’m here, do you have anything you want to tell me?” He told me to finish my business with my manager, so I did, but as we were working out the schedule Mr. Director and Mrs. Manager started joking with each other and me about if Homer (my stuffed animal that I wear everywhere at work because we sell them in the bookstore) would be allowed to be worn by a SET member? I launched into my great arguments about how me wearing the cute little stuffed animal is a great advertisement and how many of them I’ve sold because people like Homer, etc… By that time I was getting pretty excited because I was pretty sure I was about to officially hear I’d gotten the job.

Sure enough, after a couple minutes of joking, I asked Mr. Director if he had anything he wanted to tell me, and he motioned me into his office. We walked in, sat down, and he asked me if I was still interested in being a SET member. I replied with an enthusiastic affirmative, and he’s like “Well then, the job is yours.” I thanked him and we stood back up, walked back into the main office where the joking commenced once more as they found red shirts for me to try on. IMG_2389

And that, my friends, is how I joined SET.

I was going home/on vacation for about twelve days at the end of that week, so I finished my week in the bookstore, went home, and then came back at the end of the month and started my first official day as a SET member on my birthday. It was a glorious birthday gift and a day that was utterly fantastic.

Since then I’ve discovered that Mr. Director really isn’t intimidating after all, and that instead, he’s tons of fun, while also a really good leader. I work directly under Mr. Director and Mr. Assitant Director and have been enjoying life on SET far more than I thought possible.

I had told myself that the learning curve would be hard and that I didn’t even have to enjoy the job until I’d had it for at least a month. And while it’s true that the learning curve was exhausting and sometimes overwhelming, it’s also been exceedingly rewarding and enjoyable. I literally didn’t know that I could look forward to work so much every day.

Each night when I go to bed, it’s with a countdown in my mind as to how many hours I have until I get to go back to work. I’m so incredibly thankful for my job, for the people I get to work with, and for the way God led me to not only the Creation Museum but also SET.

Thanks for joining me on this loooonnnnnngggggg journey, folks! If you’re interested in seeing what a normal day looks like as a SET member, let me know and I’ll do a post about that. 😉 Have a fantastically blessed Novemer day, friends!

Where I am at the Museum {Part Three}

Read Part Two Here

I went to drop off my till (the money from the register) at the Bookstore, then hurried back to the offices. I was thankful the interview was going to be in Mr. Director’s office, because I had heard from someone that they conducted interviews in the corner of the Cafe, and that just sounded scary to me.

Mr. Director was already in his office, and Mr. Assistant Director (the SET member I previously mentioned) arrived soon after I did. I was told to take a seat, and slid into one that seemed to make the most sense – creating a triangle between the three of us in the room. My mind was going over everything I’ve ever studied about business, interviews, etc… I tried to keep my body posture open, my facial expressions engaged, and my voice modulated and my words well-thought-out and clear. Before long though, I just started having fun.

It was a relief to have Mr. Assistant Director there because I’d spent enough time talking to him that I felt like we were friends and I could get a read on him. Mr. Director, on the other hand, was nice, but I simply could not figure out what he was thinking and that was stressing me out a bit.

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Cool Story: Mr. Assistant Director and his wife went on this caving trip with us in March, and that’s where I first met them. (It was a work-related trip.)

Then, at one point Mr. Director was like “Um, I have a red flag.” I was nervous but asked him what it was, hoping it was an objection that I would be able to overcome. Instead, he mentioned a silly “red flag” that obviously wasn’t actually going to be a problem. When he said that I suddenly got hope that he did indeed think I would make a good SET member because surely he wouldn’t be joking about it if he wasn’t liking what he saw, right?

The week we did our interview was also the week that they were changing around a bunch of the offices, and that meant that Mr. Director was in the process of switching to a new office, and Guest Services was getting his current one. Because of that, the mic where they made the announcements that went out on the museum loudspeakers were located in his office, right in front of me, actually.

Partway through our interview one of the managers knocked on the door, then came in and asked if he wanted to proceed with announcements as usual or forego them since he was conducting an interview. He said it was fine, to send in the announcements guy at the right time. So, a few minutes later a guy sheepishly knocked, then came in. He apologized a lot and obviously felt very awkward for interrupting our interview. I didn’t mind though, because it gave me a few moments to collect my thoughts since I’d been answering a lot of questions.

Mr. Director and Mr. Assistant Director both joked with Announcements Guy and it really helped the whole interview process to feel homier and relaxed to me. This happened twice, and by then I was actually thoroughly enjoying the interview.

One of the other SET members (the same one who had sent Mr. Director out to talk to me in the first place) had come by Fair Trade one slow day and spent time asking me all the questions that he thought would come up during the interview. Therefore, I felt rather prepared for the questions I was now answering.

In fact, sometimes I felt like maybe I was answering the questions too well because I was so enthusiastic about the position I was hoping for. (The SET members had done a great job of making my life at the museum better, and although I didn’t want to leave the Bookstore, I was excited at the thought of making other people’s lives better, too.) One time when I was finished answering a question I was like “Did that answer your question?” and Mr. Director just kinda nodded and replied that yes, it answered his question, plus several more.

Our interview lasted for an hour, and by the time it was over I really didn’t know what to think. I thought it had gone well, and I knew it hadn’t gone bad, but I wasn’t sure if I was a good candidate for the job or not.

When I got back to the Bookstore to pick up my till I was greeted by a host of co-workers and managers who were all wondering how it went. Up until this time I hadn’t mentioned the fact to very many of my co-workers that I was looking into a position with SET, but after the interview pretty much everyone knew, and they were all excited to hear how everything went.

Throughout the process, I felt very supported and encouraged by my co-workers and managers. Even though they didn’t want me to leave the bookstore, being part of SET was the next best thing, because that meant I got to stay year-round, plus help out in the bookstore whenever they needed someone extra.

As time progressed I discovered that multiple co-workers, managers, and even managers from other departments had all gone to Mr. Director and told them that they thought I’d do great as a SET member. That made my heart exceedingly happy.

Now all I had to do was wait and see if I’d gotten the job or not.

And, I’m off to work again, folks. So, I guess this gets a Part Four. Have a great day!

 

Where I am at the Museum {Part Two}

Read Part One Here

After talking with the director of the Museum, I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do next – so I prayed about it and looked for any opportunities to take the next step. I didn’t want to bug Mr. Director, so instead, I looked for a chance to talk to anyone who would know anything. Through my questioning, I found out that I needed to go to the HR department and request a transfer paper that I would then need my current manager, as well as Mr. Director sign before I could move forward with trying to set up a job interview.

My bookstore managers were fantastic throughout the whole process, asking me how it was going, what step I was on, as well as letting me slip away during slow times to get the transfer paper, etc…

Yo, folks, this kind of stuff is still new to me (I grew up working in a family business and then a small coffee shop, which is nothing like going through all the steps and systems of working for a place with a thousand employees). Everything I did outside of my current department was rather intimidating and nerve-wracking, and even though everyone was exceedingly helpful and kind it was beyond freaky to embark on the process.

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When I was filling out my transfer request paper I had to write what department I was interested in joining and I was freaking out so much that I wrote that it was the Service Execellence Team. Yeah. As in, my official paperwork has me spelling the word excellence incorrectly. Classy, right?

With my transfer request in hand, I went to find my current manager. Now, although I always worked under the bookstore managers, I actually had a different over-all manager, and she’s the one who would need to sign the paper. I hadn’t yet informed her I was hoping to transfer (because I’d been talking about it so much with the mangers I actually interacted with, and I hadn’t realized I would need to tell the over-all manger). Well, when I went to find her, I couldn’t. After looking on and off throughout the day as time allowed, I was walking past the lunch break room and saw Mr. Director inside preparing his lunch.

I took the paper into the break room and asked him what I would need to do in order to secure his signature. He looked intently at me for a moment then told me if I put it on his desk he’d sign it and give it back to HR. That was pretty thrilling to hear, except for the fact that I still needed to get my manger’s signature on it. I thanked him for the offer, then explained the situation to him. He told me my manger wasn’t working that day, so I could still just leave the paper on his desk and he’d get her signature as well. Now that made me happy, except for the fact that I still hadn’t told her I was hoping to transfer to another department. So, I told him that. He said it was fine, he’d explain everything to her.

That’s when I began to get excited. Because, you know, if Mr. Director is willing to talk to your manager about you changing departments, that means he’s kinda on board with the whole idea, right?

So I left the paper with him and entered my long days (and even longer nights) of waiting.

In reality, it was a relatively short amount of time, but patience and I aren’t on a first-name basis with each other. We’re really sort of at odds with how life is supposed to work, so time seemed to drag as I waited to hear back. Therefore, instead of waiting patiently I searched out people to talk to about how the processes of transferring worked, trying to construct a timeframe in my mind, etc…

One of the guys on SET had recently been promoted to a pretty high position in the museum, as well as still being a SET member, so I figured he’d have answers. Plus, we were kinda friends, so it wasn’t intimidating talking to him. He was walking through the bookstore one day at closing so I asked if he had a moment, then started throwing all my questions at him. He was amazing and let me take all the time I needed to get clarity on what was going on. I found out from him that my transfer request was being processed and I would have an interview with him and Mr. Director sometime during the next week.

Some of the answers he gave me were rather vague, but I got the idea that he thought I’d do well on as a SET member and that I had a chance at getting the job. That was exciting, so I made myself stop questioning everyone within sight and awaited my interview.

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Another part of the whole behind-the-scenes of what was going on was the fact that I didn’t want to leave the bookstore. I love the people there so much that the idea of not getting to work with them all the time made me really sad. But, there was no way I could stay there and work full-time, year-round. Plus, as a SET member, I would get to go back for a portion of each day to help out at the bookstore when they needed it most.

Finally, the day came when I was told what day my interview would be, although I wasn’t sure what time during the day it would be. It was mid-morning on Interview Day when I was working out by myself in Fair Trade and I looked up to see Mr. Director striding toward me.

He was like “You’ve not seen your email, have you?” Because apparently he’d sent me an email with the time for our interview, and it was basically right then. He told me not to worry, that he was sending someone out to replace me, and I could head on back to his office when my replacement got there.

And it’s time for me to head into work again, folks! So, I guess this saga gets a part three. 😉

Where I am at the Museum {Part One}

If you would have asked me a year ago where I thought I would be on my birthday I probably could have literally guessed a thousand times without getting the correct answer.

If you would have asked me a year ago what I thought I’d be doing on my birthday, I probably could have guessed ten thousand times without getting the correct answer.

And yet, here I am.

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My birthday is just a little over a week past, and that means I’m on day eight of my new job at the Creation Museum. I’ve been in complete awe every single day at how much I’m enjoying it. You see, I seriously thought I wouldn’t like the job for at least a month. I gave myself a full six weeks to settle in, learn the tasks, and acclimate to the changes before I would even allow myself to entertain the idea that I’d made a bad decision when I changed departments.

Confusing, right? The thing is, I really liked being in the bookstore at the Museum. My days were filled with happiness, and I found extreme delight in the every-day tasks, my co-workers, and selling resources and stuffed animals to people. But, my bookstore job was a seasonal one, which meant I only had work there about nine months of the year.

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The manager of the bookstore (who’s one of the big reasons I liked the bookstore so much) and I were talking one day and he brought up the idea of me getting a fulltime position somewhere at the Museum. (Full-time positions aren’t currently available in the bookstore.) The manager is a very fatherly sort of man who’s advice and counsel I trust a lot, so after questioning him about why he said that (everything he brought up made a lot of sense), I started on my quest to find a full-time position.

The evening before I’d been talking to my mom on the phone I’d been telling her about SET – which stands for Service Excellence Team, commonly referred to the Red Shirts. They’re a very small department (at that time there were only five), and they’re trained to do pretty much everything. During my time at the bookstore, they’d been amazing with stopping by my station in Fair Trade to give me breaks when I needed them (because I worked by myself out there). Due to those breaks and short conversations as they passed by on slower days, I’d gotten to know most of the SET Members fairly well and always came to the conclusion that I could never do what they did because it would be far too overwhelming.

Well, when I was telling my mom about SET she randomly told me she thought I should one day apply to work with that team.

I laughed.

And then I informed her that was not going to happen.

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My conversation with Mom was Sunday evening, my conversation with my manager was Tuesday afternoon, and since I can’t stand to sit around and just ponder something versus taking action, by Tuesday evening I was in an all-out quest to figure out what I needed to do to apply for a job on SET.

(Note I’d been praying about what I should do regarding my job for several months now since I wanted to stay at the Creation Museum indefinitely.)

That first night I didn’t get far in my questioning about SET except to find out that they did indeed have a couple of open positions, including a full-time one.

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Later on that week I asked one of the SET Members what or where or how I should go about getting an interview (is that what I needed?), or who I should talk to, or??? (Pretty much I was freaking out and totally out of my comfort zone and completely unaware of the next steps I needed to take.) He off-handedly informed me that I’d have to talk to the Director of the Museum. (Gulp.) Then as the SET Member hurried off to continue working, he was like “I’ll just ask the director to come out to talk to you next time I see him.” (Double Gulp)

Sure enough a few minutes later I saw the director heading toward me. Mr. Director is a great guy – I’d had many short interactions with him and was always impressed by how he took time to talk to his employees and help guests. In fact, I’d seriously been planning on writing him a Thank-You letter earlier that week, thanking him for the time he took to keep things running so well. But, as I saw him striding toward me, I suddenly felt intimidated and wondered for probably the 745th time in the last 12 hours what I was doing.

I greeted him and informed him very ineloquently that I was interested in joining SET. He nodded and asked me what I thought it was that SET did. I yammered for a moment about how they helped everyone and did everything and were pretty much my heroes at the Museum because they gave me breaks. He nodded, said we’d talk about it more, and then hurried off.

And folks, this post is taking me far longer than I’d planned. In fact, this is Day Two of me writing it, and I’m about to head off to work. So, rather than continuing my saga in this post, I’m going to publish this as Part One, and hopefully, start writing Part Two tomorrow. 😉

Have a great day!

DEAR FUTURE ME {27th BIRTHDAY MUSINGS}

Dear Future Me,

I’m not sure when I’ve ever felt so much like an adult and a ten-year-old at the same time. Throw in some eighty-year-old vibes for good measure, and you’ve got a little glimpse into what my life is currently composed of. But, before I get into that, let me give you a little snapshot of where I am so you can look back and feel all the nostalgia.

It’s 9:29 Monday morning, the weather is incredibly hot so my AC is nosily chugging away, trying to combat the heat. I’m sitting long-ways on the couch, with my Spotify liked playlist (with 1,985 songs) serenading me – specifically with the song Love Story by Taylor Swift, the only Taylor Swift song I ever listen to. I just finished my coffee (which I ran over to my adopted parent’s camper to make because I still haven’t perfected the measurements in my own coffee maker and I wanted to make sure the coffee was good this morning), and I’m chugging away at water from my clear bottle with a deep purple lid because the sun pouring through the window onto my back is making me thirsty.

On my table, I have three plates of freshly baked white chocolate craisin cookies, and I deposited a bag of caramel popcorn on the bench seat when I came in from saying hey to my adopted parents when the arrived here a few minutes ago. Other than that my darling camper is clean with everything in order. The pantry is over-stocked, water jugs all full, cupboards organized, and the diffuser is puffing out the scent of lemongrass.

This year my life took a turn that I dreamed and prayed about for years, but was never really sure if it would work out. At the end of May, I moved to Kentucky to work at the Creation Museum for the summer. A summer that was delightfully full, scary, rewarding, exciting, and stuffed with one of the biggest learning curves I’ve ever experienced.

And, now here’s the crazy part. The summer’s over, and I’m still here.

See, Future Me, after I got settled in here, I realized it was exactly where I was supposed to be. From the four plants next to my sink to the routine of hauling in my drinking water to carrying around a stuffed animal at work to making friends with my co-workers… Well, everything felt right. Like smiling at guests at the Museum and cooking meals for my friends and dancing through the gardens was exactly what this season of my life was meant for.

And, although I haven’t told anyone online, and I haven’t even gotten around to telling everyone back in Ohio, this is now my life. Today is the transition – today I’m going from being a Seasonal Generalist to a Full-time SET Member. I’m going from being a blue shirt to a Red Shirt. It’s exciting and terrifying and thrilling all at once. It’s the answer to many prayers, countless conversations, dozens of my coworkers helping me and giving me advice, and me flinging myself so far outside my comfort zone that I spent weeks of restless nights.

It also means I’m committed to staying here.

Future Me, who knows where you are now, and what kind of commitments you’ve made. But Current Me? Well, this commitment to the Creation Museum is the first time I’ve ever agreed to anything that lasts more than a couple of months, and it’s crazy. I just spent a couple of weeks with my family and whenever I had a chance I went through my belongings at home, deciding what I did and didn’t need. See, since the plan is for me to live in a camper long-term, that means I can start downsizing my stuff. Because stuff is far less important to me now than it used to be. I’ve learned a lot this year, and knowing what is and isn’t helpful in my life is one of the key lessons I’ll carry into the new year with me.

Like unnecessary words bog down a story, unnecessary items and choices do the same to my life. Wearing a uniform each day has helped me see the blessing that a lack of choices can be, and so I’ve begun streamlining the rest of my life so less of my time is spent on making choices, and more time is spent doing, being, and enjoying.

I keep watching the clock as I clack away on the keyboard – it’s now 10:14 and I’m about to pack my lunch, gather up my cookies, and slip Homer on. See, Future Me, this is where the ten-year-old side of me pops up. I literally wear a stuffed animal to work. They’re called Huggers and they are cute little animals with arms like slap bracelets. They hug onto my wrist and fill me with happiness. And, since we sell them at the bookstore, I’m allowed to wear them as I go about my tasks. For my birthday Sarah made Homer a red shirt to match my new uniform, and I can’t even tell you the amount of joy I felt when I opened the shirt.

And I guess that’s how I’ll close this letter to you. With the story of Homer. Because you see, joy is really important to me. I feel an immense amount of it bubble over on a daily basis. It’s a childlike wonder that takes over and makes me want to hug the world. It’s a delight that makes me smile and stay at work late so I can organize the stuffed animals. It’s a deeply entrenched part of who I am.

Please, please don’t lose that. I understand that you’re growing up. That budgets, interviews, and scary situations are pushing and pulling at you. One day you’ll probably be too proper to dance through life barefoot with a stuffed animal on your arm. And that’s okay – I don’t expect you to always be so random and crazy. But please, please don’t lose your delight and wonder and joy. Find ways to keep those alive in your life.

Dear Future Me, God created you this way for a reason. Your parents named you Lydia Joy for a reason. You’ve been blessed. Share that blessing, carry that blessing with you, and remember that joy doesn’t depend on what’s going on around you, but rather what’s going on inside you.

Now… Well, it’s time to head into work and hope that the cookies make up for the huge amount of ignorance you feel as you begin a new year and a new position.

Blessings!

Lydia