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on the eve of my 30th birthday

By on Dec 17, 2015 in Uncategorized |

There’s been a lot going on, like my recently launched smear campaign against Mary Jean* at my local post office, but also visiting friends, a short-term career at UPS** (I’m absolutely the worst person in the world to not even give a glimmer of a schedule. If I don’t have plans, I make ‘em.), moving houses, teaching ALL of my nephews to say very funny things, a few really inspiring meetings and a new job (in a new state). Also, I just bought a Vespa. It’s red, like all life-crisis vehicles should be. Thirty has seemed really close for awhile. It snuck up on me at first, but then it suddenly barreled down in all of its grey-haired, sun-spotted glory. I sat down today and tried to list some of the most important moments of my past 10 years, including the people and places they accompanied. The last five years were easier to remember than the five previous (maybe long term memory increases in my 30s?), and let me tell you – these were full years. It’s remarkable how much fit into a short span. It’s unfathomable how my life has changed in so few years. Over the past few months, I’ve found thankfulness a really difficult thing to come by. There is no part of my day, week or month that looks the same today as it did six months ago. It’s not bad, but it is all very different. I’m no longer “Anna that lives far away in a place that seems really mysterious and a little scary” I am now “Anna, the troll*** who lives underneath the stairs in her brother’s house.” These are dramatically different. I don’t think I knew exactly what to expect from my 20’s, but I am amazed by how they turned out. The places! The stories! All the primates! But mostly, the people! And after all that moving and traveling and making conversations with new people, it makes a lot of sense that I might need a little time to rest and prepare for a new decade. I worried for awhile about what 30 would feel like. Somehow it seems a lot more adult, like I should have prepared by having gotten more adult things. Like a couch. Or a TV. Also, children. But probably first a house. Now, looking back, I’m nothing but grateful. My preparation for this coming decade looked a lot different than most, but it was good. It was really good.   *Name has been changed for both of our safety. At least she taught me to always bring my own tape. ** Best advice: “Don’t pet the dogs. They’ll make your hands smell real bad.” ***Self-imposed...

#thestruggleisreal

By on Oct 12, 2015 in adapting |

When I was packing to leave Zambia, I had a few rules for my clothing: I brought nothing back to the US that had spots or holes. This narrowed my wardrobe by over half and crippled my ability to actually make a clothing choice. I’ve never considered myself to be particularly stylish. (Please consult my over-sized Tweety Bird t-shirt and stirrup pants middle school staples if this is a surprising comment.) But I have spent enough time in public to know some of the basics of what I should and should not wear in public. Yes to a plain-white-t, no to the random bubble shirt still hanging out in my closet.   But after spending 2 years predominantly outside the USA, I’ve been reminded more than once, that I now need to relearn the fashion landscape.   I have few reference points. The only Americans I have encountered in Zambia have been missionaries (re: in similar fashion conundrum as myself) or volunteers just passing through. And let’s be real, these groups of people tend to have very distinct fashion rules that are distinct and exclusive to their sects. I mean, my mu-mus and parachute pants were perfectly appropriate attire for a weekend BBQ in Zambia, less so for a movie night out in Athens, GA.   Every morning, I go through the very-real struggle of finding appropriate attire. Today my sister-in-law asked “Is that what you’re wearing?” It was. But then it was not.   There’s a lot about moving back to the USA that’s difficult to navigate, for reasons much deeper than clothing. Let’s give Anna a little wiggle room if I show up wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. That’s about all I can settle on.   But at least my awkward apparel matches my overall...

perfectly unsafe

By on Sep 16, 2015 in adapting | 1 comment

Do you ever have moments when suddenly, the thing that you have wanted seems much, much more daunting than you realized?   I think you probably have. Cause I wanted to hang out with those lions real bad… right up until the moment when I realized I would actually have to go through the process of hanging out with them. Claws, teeth and king of the jungle killing abilities included. There were lots of instructions: always approach from behind take a knee. don’t demonstrate dominance pet firmly. soft touches = tickles, aggressive petting = threats if it turns to look at you, offer it the stick to chew on so it doesn’t take your arm   Walking with those lions was a beautiful adventure, a perfect balance of staring fear in the face (or grabbing it by the tail) and complete awareness the ability of my next decision and next step have to completely pummel me.   Turns out, my hesitancy walking with those lions was a pretty perfect indicator of what was heading my way. Moving from Zambia, impending life decisions, changes and evolutions of relationships, etc. Sometimes it hard to be sure if I really want the things I think I want.   So here I am, back in the USA, trying to re-cultivate neglected friendships and familyships. Revisiting old haunts and sorting through all the things these past few yeas have been. Approaching everything with caution, showing no dominance, searching for the perfect touch for otherwise precarious situations, searching for something to offer fear to chew on that isn’t my arm (or hopes or dreams).   I’m constantly reminded that safe was never a part of the equation, but goodness is a promise.  ...

changes are a comin’

By on Jul 17, 2015 in Uncategorized |

People tell me a lot that I don’t post enough. Or at least that I’m not super consistent. And if you are a closer follower (and I will assume you are because you are reading this now) you will see that it has been over a month since my last post. That’s my bad. But what’s true everywhere you live is true here. Life gets busy. I have a running to-do list complete with a lot of scrawling, a few additions and subtractions. And obviously when I say I have a running to-do list, I mean by the end of every week, I have no fewer than 3 that I then take a significant portion of my Monday morning to condense and compile into just one. ‘Cause I’m a living example of organized chaos. Over the past month, we’ve had 2 USA teams visit, 2 upcoming supporter trips, our CEO is to follow and then my sister arrives August 4th. And did I mention that I am preparing to leave Zambia? Can you believe it has already been 2 years? It’s a little hard to swallow, but just as expected, time really flew by. And now, suddenly, I am panicking and packing (well, thinking about packing). That’s my big announcement. I am planning to pack. I’m uncertain what’s next – I’m scheming and hoping and praying, but nothing is etched in stone. I’m planning some time for rest, a few conferences, time with family, a few getaways with friends (get in touch, we’ll do coffee. Or Target). I will be catching back up with my churches and communities and hoping to find ways to reconnect. I will be spending a few months working on some Wiphan projects, and then things are a little hazy. I’m learning to be okay with the temporarily hazy. In the meantime, I’ve started the reflection process. I’m thinking back on what these years have been, what they have meant. Here are things I did not expect: To lose so much hair. Between the heat, the anxiety, the water, did I mention the heat? I’m amazed I still have anything on top of my head. The sicknesses. I mean, woah. Luckily, I have a friend in town who is all too used to me asking “Can you take a look at this strange rash forming on my abdomen and tell me if I should be concerned?” But don’t worry, I don’t think I am diseased or anything. It’s like your first year teaching, right? Your body is exposed to new things and they have to go through your system. For this to become real life. I think Zambia sounded like an adventure 2 years ago. When I first visited, it seemed like another planet. But now, it’s just my life. It’s the place I have my home. Where I have friends, groups of folks, a job. It’s the place where all the things that make up a life are for me. Not to miss things. I’ve joked a lot about Target and peanut butter m&m’s. For obvious reasons. But people aside, there is little that’s not here that I really miss. Sure, I’d eat more tortilla chips and spend more time at the $1 spot if I could. But I cannot. And I haven’t been able to for years. So I make do with what I got. It’s enough. It is more than enough. To be seen as so powerful. I’m asked for something every day. Usually it is money or a bag or the earrings I’m wearing or the purse that I’m carrying. Sometimes I’m asked to become someone’s wife. This week I was offered someone’s babies. It’s a weird, difficult thing to be a powerless person seen as holding the power. I stammer a lot. I awkwardly laugh. I ask why the asker thinks what they think or sees what they see in me. It’s unclear. To learn so much about mechanical things. I’ve probably opened the hood of my car more in the past 3 months than I have in the previous 30 years. And sometimes, my tinkering has actually done something. It is amazing. I’ve reattached battery cables, poured in fluids, fiddled with spark plugs. Truly, it has been unexpected. (And I amend #4, I do miss the possibility of calling AAA.) To learn so much about me. Some of it is good. Like my networking and connecting abilities that have been in full force as I settle into life in a new country. Some things are less good, like my inexplicable ability to be so completely selfish and contentedly self-absorbed. To leave with so many more questions than answers. The truth of the matter is – 2 years is not a lot of time. It is a blink. I find myself asking “what have I even done?” OR worse yet, “what could I have done?/what could I still do?” It’s the challenge of being short term addressing long-term needs. It will always need more time. I’m not done reflecting. These are not the only things I have seen or the only things I have learned. There’s more. There’s a lot that is deeper and more personal, and may be appropriate for a blog later, but may also be more suited to a teatime conversation. ‘Cause that’s how I roll,...