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Happy Daddy Day!

Today is my first Father’s Day away from my father.

Weird right?

I have spent the last twenty-two years celebrating my dad with my dad, in the same house at the same party. But this year I will be celebrating him from 581.48 miles away. Yes, that is an exact mileage. I mapquested it.

I was the first born of my father’s children so I am the first reason he got to be a father. I don’t mean that in a selfish some-how-Father’s-Day-is-about-me way because obviously it is not at all about me. I just mean, I spent my life being thankful that I got to give Aaron Ross the official title of “Dad” and being so proud to call him mine.

A lot of people probably say this about their father’s, especially today, but I’m pretty sure I have the most incredible father in the world!

He spoils me rotten, in the best way, he loves me always, and takes great care of me and my entire family.

He made me who I am, from my ability to make up random song lyrics to my love of Sunday afternoon football (yes, I really do enjoy football. But only on Sunday afternoons) and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

When it is a holiday in which gifts for Dad are required (aka Father’s Day, dad’s birthday, Christmas etc.) my dad usually prefers love letters over presents. He always says he has everything he needs so he enjoys getting letters or cards that say how much he means to us kids.

It is a great gift really. And nice for the pocket book too, I have to admit!

So today, from 581.48 miles away this is my love letter:

Dear Dad,

Thank you.

For being wonderful!

For handing me money before I leave the house.

For counting down at the countdown at church so loud the entire sanctuary can hear.

For singing random songs way to early in the morning.

For teaching me how to check my oil even though I never do it.

For providing for me and caring for me.

For showing me what love is supposed to look like.

For leading by example as how to follow the Father in Heaven.

I love you,

Rachel


Change Happens

I have been a college graduate for over a month now.

Since graduation, what I thought was the end of the world, my world has experienced some large changes.

I am back living with my parents, though this is just a temporary arrangement in between my gallivanting across the country for weddings.

I now have almost more married friends then I do single ones. Okay, that was an exaggeration but only because I have tons of friends and there are still a lot of weddings to go this summer.

In other news, I have a boyfriend now. This is definitely a change, a very good one.

I wasn’t sure I was going to mention this but since the topic of conversation currently is change and this is one I am experiencing in life right now, I figured it was important to mention. Plus, he reads every blog post I write and I thought he might enjoy a direct mention of him instead of the subtle hinting ones that I have used in the past.

I remember as graduation was approaching, the thing I was most worried about was change.

I hate change, and now, here I am in the middle of the most change I have experienced at one time.

I’m no longer surrounded by twenty best friends everyday. I am out of my support system and the “home” that I have felt so comfortable in over the last four years.

I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off, in charge of a million things at once – thank goodness for that, I have to say – I needed a nap!

All the change and being away from what I’ve been so happy with for so long- it is a strange feeling.

I feel like I am discovering who I am all over again.

I’m relearning how I am going to behave in this new and different world.

It’s not just that school’s over and it’s summer.

The hard thing about this change is that a chapter of life is over and a new one has started.

My friend Whitney said, in a discussion on the topic of change, “It kind of happens without you giving it permission.”

And that is definitely how I feel.

I did not give my life permission to change completely but it did. And it isn’t even me deciding to actively make the changes- it is just happening.

I had no control over graduation or my friends getting married. I had some say in the boyfriend matter but why would I want to fight that?

But I guess the point of trusting the Lord is that when change comes that I have no control over, He does. He knows what is up even when I don’t.

He knew that it was time to leave the safety of college and move on to the complete upheaval of life after college complete with house bills (whenever I find a place to live), school bills, and married friends.

And as lost and out of control as I sometimes feel, I really am at peace with the changes.

I know I am where God has me and that makes all the change easier.

People, aka my mother, always used to tell me that change is a good thing. I generally tended to disagree due to the sheer amount of discomfort that change provided me.

But, if there were never any change there would never be any growth.

If the leaves didn’t fall off the trees in the fall, they couldn’t grow back in the spring even prettier then the year before.

So, my conclusion: change happens, get over it.

And believe me, this is as hard a concept for me to grasp as it is for anyone.


Day 5: The Place That Made Me, Me

The bags are packed
the walls empty
the beds put back where they were meant to be.
Now here I am, up and leaving
the place that made me, me.

How can I say what it was exactly
unless to say it came round gradually,
in moments and memories
and every story that I will tell about
the place that made me, me.

It gave me a chance to be just who I am
to boss around and take command,
to look past the glasses and little girl shell
to a woman God made so perfectly in the
the place that made me, me.

It gave me the courage to take a small chance
that He might have a much greater plan.
That it might be bigger then I ever could dream.
That it started right here in
the place that made me, me.

But this is just a place like any other.
It has walls and rooms and blue sky surround it.
It has little to do with the place that I found it,
but rather that God had his hand all around it,
the place that made me, me.

This place He is Lord, they so often say,
and in my heart that is true today.
It is because He reigns in me
that I can go, and grow, when I leave
the place that made me, me.


Day 6: Without a Paddle

Here is one of two short stories that I wrote for class about graduation. Enjoy.

Without a Paddle

It’s coming. Twenty days. The end of my existence. Yes, in approximately three weeks, my entire life is going to end.

She’s getting married and moving away and leaving me here all by myself in this stupid tiny town to live with my parents because I suck at life and I can’t get a job even if I graduate from college with a bachelors degree.

But no, no one will hire the girl who has no idea what she wants. I will be forty-two and single, still living with my parents, eating Ramen because I don’t have a job and my parents stopped feeding me in a last ditch effort to get me to move out. But it won’t work, because eating Ramen reminds me of college which I love and don’t want to leave anyway.

Why psychology degree, why are you so stupid?

Oh please can I just lay here forever under these covers and pretend the apocalypse of my college career is not about to shock me in to the real world and ruin my life?

Jackie, seriously, get a hold of yourself and get out of bed…

You know what I want? To stay in college forever. To never leave the walls of this room, this building, this school.

I want to rewind time and start college all over again and play it over as many times as possible…“Asking God if He could play it again.”

Shoot, I need to change my oil…

There is nothing good in this. I’m not getting married. I don’t have a job offer. I get to…Oh! My parents.

. . .

Thirteen days to go and I never have to listen to this teacher explain Maslow’s Hierarchy ever again.

Okay, Mr. Steward seriously you have told us this about a million times. Does he really think I’m an idiot who can’t remember the same instructions he tells us every class period?

“For the final next week, you will need…”

Was that a four page paper I turn in, or six pages?

Do teachers not know we don’t listen to them when they speak monotone? He needs a new suit jacket. I think that may be the only one he owns…

Oh shoot he’s looking at me. Pretend you are paying attention, nod, smile. Close Facebook window…I wonder if he knows I do nothing in this class? …I’m probably failing.

Oh man, what if I’m failing?

What if I don’t graduate from college in two weeks because of this stupid-never-paid-attention-could-have-done-the-entire-amount-of-class-work-in-one-week-so-I-was-insanely-bord-all-the-time class?

What if I don’t graduate because of this one stupid, boring class?

Okay, breathe, write my paper today, email professor about my grade. I only have two weeks. Is that going to help? Is there extra credit? I turn stuff in…I spend too much time on Facebook. I should not have a laptop in class – like I could really live without it…

This is so boring. Ooh scratch paper, yeah doodling!

Mr. Steward, the monotone is killing me…

“Wah, wha, wah-wha, wa, minutes left of class. So class, I was wondering how all you seniors are doing with graduation. Are you all excited?”

Oh, that question! I hate that question. No I’m not excited about it. It is the bane of my current existence. I want to veto graduation and blow May 14th off the calendar. I want to stuff socks into all those stupid engaged kids mouths and tell them, in some extremely convincing and hostel tones that they need to keep their mouths shut because not all of us get to leave and get married. And it is stupid that everyone is excited.

“Jackie, how about you? Are you excited?”

. . .

Five days. Country music has the highest number of suicides. Albert Ellis, cognitive therapy.

Here it is. Normal class is done. This life is over. It’s just over.

Noam Chomsky linguistics and how people learn language. C.

This can’t be real. I cannot squish the love and excitement and joy of the last four years in to five days and still have a heart that is in one piece at the end.

Intake, session, review goals, summary, new set of goals or strengthening passed goals.

It’s ripping out of my chest and being stomped on. Walking across that stage in a few days, they may as well through my heart on the floor and let all the graduates trample over it as they walk across smiling as they go because they are all happy to be graduating.

My school president is going to shake my hand and tell me congratulations but really he will be simultaneously reaching in to my chest to rip my heart out while closing the book on the best four years of my life, which he helped create, being that he is the president.

. . .

It’s today…

The End.


Day 28: One More Month

Yes, it is officially one month until I graduate. I don’t mean the 30 days has September month. I mean that this day next month, the 14th, I will be walking down the aisle (oh sorry for the bridal reference, it’s an unfortunate side effect of wedding mania: See Wedding Mania {Part 1}, {Part 2}, {Part 3}), crossing the chapel stage, and turning my tassel with all my friends.

The point here is that this time next month I, Rachel Elizabeth Ross, the slightly-mal-adjusted-feet-dragging-please-don’t-make-me-graduate-senior-in-college will no longer be in college.

AHHHHH!!!!

That is exactly how I feel – AHHHHHH! I feel the need to fill in any new readers and let them know that this “A” followed by the keyboard sticking “H” is not a happy term of excitement but rather an expression of sheer panic, dread, and horror.

I simply do not want to graduate.

You know that scene in the Lion King when Timon and Pumbaa meet Nala and find out that Simba and Nala grew up together, then the lions “wrestle” and go off in the jungle to sing to each other in their minds, and Timon and Pumbaa figure out what is going on?

If you don’t remember this scene, it is crucial to the characters of Timon and Pumbaa but also, I fear, a great parallel for the rest of my college days.

T: “I can see what’s happening”
P: “What?”
T: “They don’t have a clue”
P: “Who?”
T: “They’ll fall in love and here’s the bottom, our trios down to two.”
P: “Oh.”

Not only are most of my friends falling in love and getting married, making this scene an obnoxious reminder of that unfortunate fact, but also I can see them all getting excited about leaving and my emotions don’t really mirror those. They mirror the next part of the Lion King.

At the end of that scene, Timon and Pumbaa bust out crying. Their tears are shooting from their eyes in the way only cartoon tears can.

Though I obviously cannot cry gun shot tears like a cartoon I will likely be crying pretty profusely for the next few weeks.

At any moment, I may burst into uncontrollable unnaturally projectile tears with no way to stop them.


Day 29: No really, I’m 23.

I have been twenty-three-years-old for a week now. And it is crazy.

Who thought turning one day older would make a difference. It does.

People always ask on birthdays if you feel any older. For most of my life I’ve answered that question with some sentence resembling “I’m only one day older then I was yesterday.”

But not this year.

This year I feel old.

At first this was a bad thing.

When my friend Emily stood up on her chair in the cafeteria to make everyone sing to me and announced that I was 23, it was a bad thing.

When I lay in my bed for a short nap the afternoon of my impending old lady doom, yes us old people have to take naps to get through the day, it was a bad thing.

When I realized that when someone asks me how old I am, for the next 339 days, I have to say 23, it was a bad thing. (This excluding the fact that in 339 days I will have to say I am 24, which is way worse.)

But then I realized something incredible.

When some guesses that I’m 14 years old I will be able to enjoy the shock on their face when I announce that I’m 23 and offer to show them my legitimate drivers license that proves this point. Though it still may take some time to convince them that it isn’t a fake id.

I have always hated looking young and people have always told me that I will appreciate it when I’m 40, problem being that I am a long way from 40 and it just annoyed me to look 12 all the time.

However, at 23 this looking young has provided some comfort because I don’t feel that old so at least I don’t look it.

My life doesn’t look anything like I thought it would at 23. I expected to married with at least one blonde or redheaded little baby living in a precious little house with my minister husband.

Ya, that’s not happening.

Nor am I living in a city somewhere in a flat with a friend taking the marketing world by storm with my incredible ability to boss people around.

Again, not happening.

I’m about to graduate from college and still feel like I’m 16, okay 19 on a good day.

But no, I’m old.

I realize I am not actually old, but it does feel strange to be 23 years old.

This is the age that I used to look forward to when I was younger because then, I would finally be a grown-up.

But while I feel old, I don’t feel anything like a grown-up. Hence the frustrating dichotomy of my current age situation: I look 12, feel old, and can’t believe I’m actually 23. But I am. And unfortunately, that is all there is to it and I can do nothing about it.


Day 31: Landslide

The other day, following the very happy drive home I experienced about two weeks ago (which I mentioned in a previous post), a song came on the radio just as I was pulling in to school.

Okay, I may have rigged fate a little by searching through stations until I found a song that fit the mood I was in, but it was still on the radio I just had to find it.

And this is what I found.

It’s a song by the Dixie Chicks, actually someone else sings it, but I know the Dixie Chick version and while I am not particularly found of their politics on occasion, I have to say that I love their music. When I found a suitable song to match my feelings I started listening to the words.

“Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
Cause I built my life around you.”

When I heard these words driving in to school looking around the campus I call home,I realized how true this statement is of my life in regards to OKWU.

I have been afraid of change, afraid of moving on, afraid of what else could happen in my life all because I have built my life around this place.

I’ve built my life around the people I love from here, the opportunities OKWU has provided me, and the sense of belonging that I get here.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I know God put me here on purpose and I am so thankful that He blessed me with friends that make it hard to say goodbye and that I have had a chance to figure out who I am and what my gifts are.

But when I heard those words I think they helped me get ready for the change that is about to happen. Change comes at the hand of letting go of the thing, or place, I’ve built my life around.

“[I] climbed a mountain then I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well the landslide brought me down.”
The song is called “Landslide.” A landslide basically forces you down a mountain causing you to plummet to the bottom, hence the word.

And with the mountains of middle of the semester and Spring Break over, I am unfortunately on the downhill slide of this mountain and being forced to notice the bottom of the mountain instead of enjoying the blind elation of the peak.

So here I am sliding down the mountain picking up speed as I go, scrambling to slow down the process but knowing there is no way to stop, or even slow it down really.

There are a few more lines of the song that I found, when I later read the lyrics, to be appropriate to my life as well.

“But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too.”

As time passes I get older and I get closer to the bottom of the mountain. And as much as I hate it and wish I could stop it I’m sliding down but I am getting bolder also.

The time I have spent at OKWU has made me a much more mature, grown-up, and well-rounded person.

I’m sliding down the mountain along with the landslide but as time makes me older I hope it makes me more prepared.

There is one more line of the song that is perhaps the hope at the end of the landslide and the bottom of the mountain.

“So take this love and take it down.”

I am going to take the love and this place and these people with me as I reach the bottom of this mountain and look out on the rest of my life. And if I take that love with me it doesn’t matter that the mountain has passed or even if it is far in the distance because what I learned, including the love, will go with me long after the landslide.