Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Mask

I love it when I read or hear something that embodies exactly how I'm feeling.

It's like I bond with the thought, the quote, the song lyrics, whatever it is. This time, it went like this:

"I finally took off my mask...

and i love who I'm becoming."

found on: postsecret

When I left my mission, my goal was to heal.

Heal everything that has left me broken over the years.

I worked with a psychologist from LDS family services while I was still in Houston, to see if issues could be worked through while I was still in the mission field.

When the decision was finally made for me to come back home, there were various freak outs that occurred inside my head. On this one particular day, just a day or two before I left, I really started panicking about the implications of the whole situation and what everyone was going to think, how and if I was seriously going to go through with it, blahblahblah...

So I called my psychologist.

To help me NOT freak out. She's good at that.

I told her everything that I was worried about... I'm sure in incoherent ramblings with plenty of tangents and possibly including tears. Thankfully, once I was done, or had at least momentarily paused for a breath, her words of wisdom began to spill forth.

Among those words of wisdom, was a phrase very similar to that quote.

She said, "My understanding of why you were going home, was because you needed to take time to heal, to stop putting on the fake happy face... to take down the mask, and just be who you really are."

Those words were exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

I agreed with her. Somehow she knew much better than me how to say it so that it made sense, and ever since then, I have remembered that phrase. And then I read it on postsecret, and I decided that that is going to be my motto. My theme. My anthem of healing from now until I am better. I am going to take down the mask.

So, here I am. Austin. I'm twenty-two (almost twenty-three!) years old. A BYU graduate with a degree in elementary education. A returned missionary that only served half of the eighteen months that are typically anticipated. And from here on out, I'm not going to try to be anything that I'm not.

Now. In the spirit of "taking down the mask", I'm going to share a little bit of the real me with all of you. The me that many of you probably aren't familiar with. The me that is likely to surprise anyone who's known me for most of my life. And I'm excited to do it.

1. I am, more or less, a liberal, democratic thinker. I love the group of liberal kids I hang out with. We're a bunch of yoga doing, concert-going, farmer's market shopping, gardening, recycling, vegetarians. One of my favorite things in the world is walking through Seattle and seeing all the free-thinking artists. Especially at Pike Place market. The dreadlocks, the coffee shops, the street corner music, the art and murals and public transportation everywhere... I drink every drop of it up every time I go. Cannot get enough of it.

2.I really love art. Not necessarily art museums, or formal art settings... rather the art of life, I guess. Those beautiful little moments each day that remind you to be happy. Like when you wake up and the sun is coming through the curtains just right and you know that you don't have to be out of bed any time soon. Or when you're playing with a bunch of little kids and they can't help but show you every amazing leaf and twig and piece of dirt that they find, and they look up at you with their admiring, trusting eyes, and they feel so safe because you're bigger than them and according to them, you know everything. Or when you're up late talking with a friend, and you say just the right thing at just the right moment and everything just comes together and makes sense, and you wish that it could stay like that forever. I adore the beautiful, artful, moments of life. Which is one of the reasons I love reading any post from nienie, or c jane. But particularly, this post.

3. I think pregnancy, and motherhood is beautiful. All of it! I loved reading and learning about these god-given capabilities when I was younger, but as I grew I became embarrassed to talk about it. ...I'm not going to be any longer. I can't wait to someday be pregnant and have kids of my own. I know I don't know anything about being a mother, and I know that it's going to be a zillion times harder than what I know, but it's still going to be awesome. Our bodies are SO amazing!

4. Sometimes I have bad days. I know that everyone does... but how many of us are willing to open up and talk about them? And how many of us are willing to listen when someone opens up to us? I don't know why it's difficult for me to admit that everything isn't perfect. Everytime I run into an old friend in a random place, my first instinct is to pretend that my life is going swimmingly and completely as planned, etc. etc. But it's not, and probably never has. And even if it did, that doesn't mean that I liked it. Or do like it.

5. I don't know everything. Shocker right? Seriously though, sometimes when people ask me a question, I feel like I have to come up with an answer whether I actually know the answer or not. I'm trying to break that habit. Maybe it comes from being the oldest?

I'm sure there is more of this forthcoming.

Meanwhile, I'm just going to work on implementing this in my real life.

Wish me luck! :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

By jove, I think I'm making progress...

Good news friends! I got a job! I interviewed just the other weekend to be a nanny for a family in Orem. They have eight kids, but I'll only be watching the youngest three. I'll be living there with them, watching the kids from 8am to noon, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and 8am to 2pm Tuesday and Thursday.

I'm also hoping to get a job with the New Haven Treatment Center in Spanish Fork as well, because it goes right along with where I'm hopefully headed, and the hours work nicely with the nannying schedule! It will be 3 days a week from 3pm to 11pm. I'm thinking MWF would be best since I finish watching the kids earlier on those days.

Things are looking good!

Yay for moving up in life!

ps. Caitlin is going to have her baby ANY day now! AH i'm so excited.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm in a Pickle

So my list of options just keeps growing and growing and growing. Which, I suppose isn't a horrible thing, but it's making things awfully difficult in the decision-making department. At the same time, however, my area of concentration is narrowing... so I've got the whole list of options getting smaller generally, and then specific options getting a lot bigger and replacing any options I have possibly crossed off the list for now. I suppose that means I'm not any better off as far as number of options goes, but I am doing better in at least being more specific. Anyway, I need your help. This is serious.

I've been looking at the option of possibly going back to school. I had my five top schools chosen before I left on my mission, and so I was reviewing those schools and the programs they offer to see what looks interesting. And GOOD NEWS! I think I've finally come to some kind of conclusion. Before my mission I had ideas but they were very broad and general and open. As I was looking at the programs available at Warren Wilson College, I found a minor called "Justice and Peace Studies". I read up on it a little, and it looked really interesting, so I typed it into google to see what other schools have programs like that one, and I found lots! I made a list of at least 30 schools in areas that I would like to visit.

BUT... before that, I had been looking seriously into the option of doing a Women or Gender Studies program somewhere, which I am still interested in. I'd love to focus in on teen pregnancy, body image, adoption, eating disorders... or something else along those lines.

And I also want at least a minor in Spanish. And I want to learn to speak French as well. And as you can see I have a dilemma here.

I was thinking that I could major in Social Justice and Peace Studies and then minor in Women/Gender Studies. But then what happens with my Spanish minor? Let alone my desire to take some French classes.

I wonder if I could just do the major in Justice and Peace Studies, and then concentrate my studies on the areas that interest me having to do with teens/women/gender, etc.? And then I could minor in romance languages... which would not only offer me French and Spanish, but Italian as well. Or maybe I could do the major in Women and Gender Studies hoping that that would give me all the focus on social justice and peace that I wanted, and then I could do the minor in romance languages. Or just Spanish if I have to choose. And then take extra french classes on the side... because I like to overload myself like that. OR... I could go to a school where they have a program where you can build your own major. That could be a little more difficult though, considering I would have to find a school that has the integrative studies program (build your own), and then has the offerings for the women's studies, justice and peace studies, and french and spanish.

My other dilemma, then, is deciding what I'm going to do in the mean time. To get there. I think I've decided that I want to stay here in Utah, because I like being close to my friends. I love being with my family, but there's nothing like having people your age all around you that understand you and where you are in your life. So the next order of business then, is getting a job. And finding somewhere to live. I'll make sure to keep all of you updated. And if you know of any good jobs or places to live, let me know!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Story of Stuff

This short 20 minute film should be required viewing for all US citizens. It's so sad how many people don't realize what we're doing.

Be smart. Watch this video.

You've got 20 minutes, right?

Then, visit the Story of Stuff website, so that you can find out how you can make a difference.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Louder Than Words

I do believe, that I'm finally putting together what I think I might possibly want to do with my life.

It hasn't completely formed yet, but so far as I mentioned in a previous post, I know that it will have something to do with girls, adolescence, body image, peer pressure, feminism, etc. etc.

I've had some other awesome ideas which I won't go into quite yet. However, I've been doing some web research, and I came across this cute website called Smart Girls Know. This week they're releasing a series of books about and written by teenage girls struggling with difficult situations, disorders, etc. The series is called Louder than Words. Every night this week (8pm EST) they will be having a live show about the different books, and talking with the girls, etc.

I've embedded the video, so that you can watch it from my blog, or you can just click on the link and check out the cool stuff they've got going on over there.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not all those who wander are lost.

Everything in my neck of the woods has been rather uneventful lately. I am in Provo, without a car, job, or school, and so I've just been lounging and living off the little bit of money I put away before my mission. However, I DO have goals. As much as I love having absolutely no schedule, and being able to read and nap and eat and watch movies and blog to my heart's content, my overactive conscience just keeps whispering to me... to figure out what the plan is.

I have about a gazillion ideas. Let me share a few.
  • Go to Ecuador and work in an orphanage there
  • Find mr. right and marry him
  • Work at one of several treatment centers for adolescents in the area
  • Work at the Center for Women and Children in Crisis (I volunteered there before my mission)
  • Move up to downtown Seattle(ish) and find a job
  • Someday open up my own bookstore
  • Be a substitute teacher wherever I end up moving to (so that I don't have to take on a huge responsibility, but still get paid a reasonable amount
  • Find a family to nanny for
  • Eventually go back to school and study one of my recent interests (environmentalism, feminism, photojournalism, teenage pregnancy/body image/women's studies, cultures and peoples, spanish, french, etc. etc. etc.)
  • Work at a daycare or other childcare facility (which doesn't actually sound very appealling, but hey, I like kids)
Some of these options could be combined with others, others depend on whether or not I do other things, or how much money I have. And I have tons more ideas. And ideas that branch off of these ideas... like if I did one thing and it was successful, I could then go on and do this other idea I have.

It is a little overwhelming. The sheer breadth of opportunities is a little frightening.

BUT, it has been fabulous for me to have some time to regroup, catch up with friends, have my own space and time, and just kind of... explore. Sometimes it's a little scary, because I've never let myself be without direction before, but it's so magnificent to see the world completely open up before my eyes. I can go or do or be whatever the heck I want. I can seek that true happiness in my job and family and self that is always talked about but rarely seems to be found. That is my main goal for this period of my life I suppose. Not to get so caught up in DOING, that I forget to think about what it is that I'm doing. To remember why I'm here, what makes me happy, and what a huge difference I can actually make in this world once I set my mind to it.

Now, the task at hand.

I think I need some advice. Or at least a little help. I'm trying to figure out where to go and what to do and where to work, etc. A week ago, had you asked me, I would've said that I was staying here until the end of August and then moving to Seattle to find a job and settle down a little. Now, I'm beginning to lean a little more towards staying here to settle down a little. For multiple reasons. Job connections, friends, cheaper housing, etc. However, I haven't really delved into my resources and connections back in Washington either. Soooo... what I need to know is, do YOU know of any job openings? Or maybe an opening in a house in Seattle or Provo? If you do, I would love to know about it! Post a comment, send me an email.

Until then, I will remain, the quintessential wanderer.