Sunday, January 22, 2012

hello, reality.

Tuesday morning, I headed off to work, fresh from a wonderful few days at JVC Re-Orientation. While I wasn't expecting everything to be perfect, I was certainly optimistic and excited.

Then Tuesday afternoon happened. And Tuesday became one of the worst days I've had this year at work.

Nothing like a harsh jolt back to reality, right?

I came home that night, exchanged stories about my day with my roommates, and discovered that I wasn't the only one who had a bad first day back. Just when we were all on that good old retreat high and freshly enthusiastic about JVC, it seems the harsh realities of this year came back to knock us down again.

I've been processing that afternoon and some of the implications of it ever since. I'm not sure which is worse: living through it the first time or analyzing it to death afterwards. Honestly, I spend a lot of time in this job feeling really inadequate and unprepared, and there's no more humbling experience than being confronted with your own flaws.

When I talk to former JVs, they usually mention how JVC helped them to come to lot of "really-important-realizations" about life and themselves. Well, I'm starting to have some of my own, and they aren't all pretty. 

One of the most important ones that I finally admitted out loud on Tuesday night was that I'm more than a little burnt out when it comes to my job. I don't know why I had such a hard time admitting it, but honestly, it's true. Now, I just have to deal with it. Dealing with it... well, I'm not exactly sure what the specifics of that are, but I think it definitely means taking better care of myself, whatever that may mean.

In the meantime, I have to make the most of things in this job that bring me energy and joy, whether they are hearing that one of the students has raised his math grade from an F to a C or planning the upcoming Valentine's Day Party. So, here's to that as I prepare to take on another week. Because doing this job isn't about "success"; it's about faithfulness and persistence. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

month five: part two.

So belated, but I do this for for a record for myself, right? The weeks leading up to Christmas were honestly such a blur of Christmas preparations at Casserly House, getting ready to go home, and finishing grad school applications that I don't have much that's exciting to report... and then being at home was more wonderful then I can say.

month five.

more christmas prep. advent group. friday night crafts. christmas shopping. fjv potluck + foley's. life advice. gift exchange: picture frames, deliciousness, pictures, bro cds. dinner with cristo rey + elf. las posadas. casserly christmas. unexpected gifts. advent group. finally flying home. 

missouri. pville. family christmas's. sleepovers. reunions with so many of my favorite people and my favorite places. remembering all of the reasons why I love STL. meeting baby annie. NYE with Kate.

home--sadly, this is a real sign.

flying back to boston. arriving back at the taj & settling back in. first week back at work. footloose. last minute trip to hang out with the portland jvs. popcorn machine. live like you're mayan. gatorade. finishing + submitting two grad school applications.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

month five: part one.

via pinterest (of course)

Month 5 = done. Fittingly enough, tomorrow morning the five of us are driving to Pennsylvania for our JVC "Re-Orientation." This is not quite the halfway point, but we're getting close, and I can feel it my bones.

I've been playing catch up at work this week and attempting to finish my grad school applications at the same, so instead of the traditional monthly recap posts that I've been doing, I just want to share a few thoughts about where I am right now.

I have so many mixed feelings at this point. I have never intended this blog to be a warm and fuzzy, "JVC is great ALL OF THE TIME" kind of thing, and I hope that hasn't been the case. While typically hardship tends to produces better writing, I'm usually just more inclined to post about happy things.

Yes, I love Boston, I love my job, and I love my community. I love JVC and the opportunities I've had because of it. I don't doubt my choices, and I don't doubt that this year is worth it.

But--and there is always a but--there are many things that I don't love. I hate how far away Boston is from my home, family, and my friends. Besides my community members, I don't have a lot of close friends here, and that can be hard. I had a countdown going in the weeks leading up to Christmas to when I flew home, and there was a particularly memorable day in December that I fought back tears as I walked to work because I missed home, SLU, and my life in Missouri so much.

There are days when my job is incredibly frustrating, and it's consistently emotionally draining. Some days I'm so irritated with these kids that I just want to scream, and I stare at the clock, wishing it was 5:30 so I could go home and get away from them for 24 hours.

And frankly, our $100/month stipend doesn't go very far in this city. Sometimes I just want to eat out, buy a cup of tea at a coffeeshop, or order a beer without double-thinking every last penny. I thought I was frugal and smart with my money before JVC, but not like this.

I'm not trying to complain--because I know that I choose this and I'm glad that I did--but I am trying to be honest. Really honest. And honestly, this is where my head is sometimes even as I try to figure out what being a woman "for and with others" really means. While many people have it much, much worse, I still get caught up in being silly and self-centered and caring way too much about all the wrong things.

So, JVC is rewarding, but it's not easy; it is not perfect. Sometimes it's really hard to see those rewards. Because I'm not perfect either; I still have the same flaws and weakness as when I started this year five months ago.

After hearing my stories about Casserly over Christmas, my Grandma said something that is very true of my experience so far: "So, you're teaching, but I think they're the ones who are teaching you just as much, if not more." Yep. I'm still learning, and while there are somethings I'm getting the hang of, there are many more that I'm still struggling with on every level--personal, professional, relational, spiritual, and so forth.

In writing, I constantly have to stop myself from ending on a happy note, from trying to wrap everything up in a neat little package. For some reason, it is so difficult for me to end by saying that JVC is not perfect, that I have my struggles... I don't want that to be the final word. I'm naturally pretty optimistic, so that's part of it, but it has nothing to do with being optimistic or pessimistic and everything to do with what real life is. And real life can't be condensed into neat packages at every moment. I need to learn how to be okay with letting myself just be in the midst of the struggles and stop there--no answers, no warm, fuzzy feelings, no quick fixes. Just questions, patience, and (hopefully) trust.

Hopefully, that is where I will learn to live over the next 7 months. 

Monday, January 2, 2012


Oh, 2011. You were quite a year. It was a year of transitions in a lot of ways, as I finished up my final semester of college, applied/was accepted to JVC, graduated from undergrad (!!!), moved home for the summer (but still spent lots of time in St. Louis), and then left to start the year in Boston.

There were a lot of other highlights too, like the Ignatian Silent Retreat, living with two of my best friends, Spring Break in Alabama, lots of adventures with my favorite people, making new friends, exploring Boston, and of course, starting a blog (thanks again for reading).

I have a few resolutions for the new year; I'll probably do some additions, but so far they include reading 52 books, making one new recipe or a loaf of bread a week, and making more friends.

In closing, I just wanted to post another quote by Neil Gaiman, as I've adopted it as a sort of motto for 2012:
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever." 
--Neil Gaiman