Thursday, December 19, 2013

TV and the air we share.

After reading a post about the dangers of Social Media, I began to panic a little bit.  So many of the things Glennon wrote about her experiences with Social Media were so completely and totally true about me.  The only difference came when she noted that the benefits of Social Media are important to her and so she will work to have Social Media in her life in a Life-Giving way rather than a Soul-Sucking way.

That's when the panic came for me.  I don't know how to do that.  I gave up Facebook a few months back for a while and noticed that I felt better.  I hated that I felt better because I was missing so much of the lives of so many amazing people.  And, luckily for me, they said they were missing me, too.  I thought I had it all under control and so I went back.  Like an on-again-off-again relationship, it was good for a while and I thought, "see, I can do this!  I can have a healthy relationship with Facebook!"  But it didn't take long before I was feeling yucky again and decided that I needed to make a clean break, forever.  You know what sucks about breaking up with Facebook?  It asks you 947367 times "are you sure?" and then sends you a freaking email letting you know that you dumped all 500 of your friends and that they hope you'll come back soon.  Damn you, Facebook!  I'm not breaking up with my friends, I'm breaking up with you!  Leave me alone.  You won't miss me and you know it (how many billions of members are there?!), so just leave me alone!

Then I cleaned out my Twitter of celebrities that post every .00072 seconds and went down to 1) people I actually know and like and would have lunch with if we were in the same city and 2) Upworthy and Soul Panckace.  That Social Media formula has been serving me pretty well.  I watch lots of videos of lots of amazing people who are changing the world or their world.  Generally, Twitter makes me smile.

But Twitter doesn't help me feel more connected to the world I live in.  While I'm smiling, sometimes I'm feeling super extra amazingly lonely.  None of those world-changing people know me or desire a relationship with me.  Sure, if our paths crossed, we would be fast friends and they would ask, in all honesty, "Erin, where have you been my whole life?!"  (Okay, I just tell my self that because it sounds awesome.  Obviously, I know that I would not make complete the life of every person on the planet.)  And you know what?  The actual real people in my life - like the ones who know and can spell all 3 of the last names I've had - they're changing the world and their world, too.  Unfortunately for me, all of them live really far away from me.  We all know I'm a hyper-extrovert and so sharing the same air with friends and family is life-giving for me.  We don't share air with people over Facebook or Twitter or even over emails.  So the internet, while a noble substitute for seeing smiles and holding hands and being swept up in laughter, cannot be a life-giving force for me.

Okay, fine, Erin.  So Social Media is not your thing.  That's okay.  What does this have to do with TV?

All of that was to bring you along on the journey my brain and I experienced today.  As I was thinking about all of this and wondering how I could feel less lonely even while so many of my loved ones live so far away.  When I was in the process of transitioning from a married lady to a single lady and I wanted to desperately to make sure I was healthy, happy and whole as a single lady, Lois reminded me that we (yes, even us hyper-extroverts) can be alone without feeling lonely.  Before Hubs came into my life and on the days The Dimpled Wonder was at his other house, I was pretty good at being alone and not feeling horribly lonely.  I'm pretty awesome, I discovered.  Spending time with me was pretty great.  While thinking about those months, I remembered that I didn't watch a whole lot of television.  In the apartment, I didn't have cable or internet or even an adapter box for the TV to watch local channels.  I had a handful of DVD's and Former Husband was perfectly willing to let me borrow from his (our) massive collection.  Even still, I just didn't spend that much time in front of the television, or any screen for that matter.

Then Hubs came along and he made a valiant effort to live with almost-no TV.  Screen time is his drug-of choice and has a pretty good handle on his addiction.  He's more of an introvert than I am and finds social media and movies and TV series to be interesting and fun and useful and maybe even life-giving.  Everyday he has something on Hulu or Netflix or Youtube that he wants to share with me and I watch them (let's not talk about what happens when I IM him a link to share with him.).  He knows me well and knows what will make me smile and I usually am grateful that he shares with me.  But I think, as long as I am physically removed from most of my loved ones, I can't have a "normal" relationship with TV (or Social Media, but we've already covered that).  When I watch a "marathon" of a TV series, I have dreams about the characters as if they are real people and as if I live in their world.  Hopefully I'm not the only one that happens to.  Anyone, anyone, Bueller?!  Anyway, I think the fictional world of TV (or the far-off world of Twitter) gives me a chance to ignore my loneliness but offers me no solutions.  In fact, I think it pushes my loneliness farther off so that it hits me harder when the screens go dark.

So I'm going to take an intentional break from TV, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Twitter, Upworthy and all of it.  I look at a screen all day long for work, so I can't say I'm going to go without screen-time, but I'm going to take a big break from the rest of it.  If the boys want to watch a movie as a family, I will ask that it is one of the zillions of DVD's we already have (so we don't get lost in the Netflix vortex).  I don't hate the TV or the internet, but I think it's time for me to set some stronger boundaries on our relationship.

Between now and January 27th, I will hopefully write a lot, read a lot, clean my house a LOT and find ways to share some air with some amazing world-changing people.


I hate mornings lately.  I'm not quite sure why.  The theologian in me thinks each morning is the beginning of a new day, another chance to get out there and make the world a better place.  The mom in me believes the same thing.

It's not that I'm lacking quality sleep, most of the time.  When the alarm goes off, I wake easily and I don't immediately fall asleep during the 9 minutes until the next alarm.  I'm rested and my body is ready and able to be a person, maybe even an adult, for the next 16 or so hours.

Even still, each morning is filled with yucky-ness that I can't quite put my finger on.  It sort of feels like fear, regret, shame and sadness.  Except those are things I don't subscribe to.  My life is great.  I have a job that pays me well, I have a house with heat and the internet.  I have a husband who tells me every day how beautiful I am.  I have a son who works damn hard to be the best kid he can be.  I have friends who love me and allow me to contribute to their lives in a meaningful way (thanks for the vocab, Katie!).  I'm not a worrier, fear doesn't resonate with me.  I regret nothing.  I don't look to the past and dwell on things I wish I'd done differently.  Nothing I've experienced has been a waste of time or energy.  Every season of my life has contributed to providing 35-year-old Erin with this great life.  I have done nothing that I am ashamed of.  I do the best I can every day and when something goes wrong, I do what I can to fix it.

Even though I don't subscribe to these ideas, there they are.  I know there are scores of things on my to-do list yesterday that I chose not to do simply because I didn't feel like it.  I fear my to-do list from this day that has grown longer because of what I didn't do yesterday.  I'm ashamed of the things that I simply forgot to do and now add more to today's list.  And the cycle of it all just makes me sad.

I believe emotions are not to be ignored.  Sometimes we need to evict them from our hearts and heads, but we need to acknowledge their existence at the very least.  If these emotions are made of total BS, we can just serve them notice and they will usually comply.  Sometimes, though, we have to walk them out, hand-in-hand.  This means developing a relationship with those emotions, showing them respect while asking them to leave.  In order to develop that relationship, we have to discover how they came to take up residence and the purpose they are supposed to serve.  For these kinds of emotions, simply kicking them out will only ensure their return to our heart's doorstep.

Okay enough of that lousy analogy.

Since I've been hating mornings for a week or so, I know I need to figure out where these emotions are coming from and I need to discern their purpose.  I need to find a way to get more things done or to just let them go.  I need to find a way to remember to do the things I actually want to do.

Hopefully clarity and inspiration are in my stocking for Christmas this year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Go!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I've decided to confess something.  I am a weight yoyo-er.  Before 2011, I never broke the 10 lb mark in a weight loss effort.  From the gaining side, it was always just a few pounds a year.  I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight after Clayton was born, so I guess that was sort of the beginning of the trend until 2011.

In May of 2011, BFF and I went on a grand vacation to Puerto Vallarta together.  I was reading Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris on recommendation from my mama.  I brought it along and BFF took a gander.  Together, we decided to give the Slow Carb Diet a shot.  TF does a great job of making eating to burn fat super SUPER simple.  Simple, until emotional eating and cravings and laziness show up.  I certainly didn't stick to the plan 100% every week and sometimes I just plain gave up for a while.  By March 2012, I was down 23 lbs and feeling and looking great.

Here we are November 2013 and I'm right back where I started in May least as far as the scale is concerned.  I learned a TON about my body and about body chemistry and about nutrition in the year-ish I followed TF's program.  I also was introduced to and their Whole30 program and the Paleo way of life.  In March of this year, I successfully completed a Whole30 and, again, learned a whole lot.  Then the wedding cake and food tastings began, and wedding showers and birthdaymonth and the wedding and summer parties and post-wedding blues and budgeting challenges and emotional eating and cravings and laziness.  BFF encouraged me to look into Weight Watchers after a couple Whole30 false starts and a growing feeling of "I'm just going to be this weight forever, I just have to be okay with that."  It works, for sure.  I just am too flighty to do all of that tracking for the many weeks it would take to get to my goal weight.  And I'm not going to lie, I know that what I eat "because I can" aren't the best choices for my body and getting the scale to go down is only one metric...and a pretty useless one at that.  I know that I have to keep muscle in my body while burning fat or I'll wind up looking like my insides shrunk in the dryer and my skin stayed the same size.  Ick.  To keep muscle mass up, I need lots of protein and I discovered that pure protein is pretty hard on the ol' WW points system.

So, I've been struggling for the last few months.  I hate where the scale is and I hate that I gained back over 20 pounds in less than a year.  Eww.  I hate that the scale says that awful number I SWORE I'd never see again back in March 2012.

Clearly, the number on the scale and the size of my pants matter to me.  But all of this really, I promise, is about being healthy.  More specifically, it's about being healthy for baby growing.  Mark and I want kids and I am 35 years old.  I had a rough pregnancy with Clayton and adding 10 years to my body certainly isn't going to make that process any less painful.

After a weekend of soul searching and way more tears than this SSRI girl is accustomed to, motivation and resolve showed up this morning.  The baby brother coached me a bit yesterday, too.  Beginning this morning and for the remainder of this week I am eating clean.  I'm not sure if I'm officially doing a Whole30 or if its going to be more like 6-days on, 1-day off ala TF or some other arrangement.  I'll worry about that at the end of this week and I'll worry about next week when I get to the weekend.  For the next 6 days, whole foods are the only thing that will be entering my mouth.

Hopefully this won't be the beginning of another yoyo cycle.  As far as I'm concerned, one time on that ride is enough.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Is God Calling?

Here's the question:  can we be called to a job rather than to a career?

The short version is this: I need a new job.  If I had to list the regrets I have in life, it would be a short list.  It may even be merely a single item - leaving my job at BPC.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time.  I truly thought I had considered everything.  As I'm writing this I realize that I cannot even qualify that choice as a regret.  Was the decision shortsighted?  Sure.  I was focused on aspects of that job and this job that I now see are inconsequential.  But what it really comes down to is a lack of information.  I didn't know there wouldn't be enough work to fill 40 hours.  I didn't know that my boss's temper would affect me so deeply.  Heck, I didn't really know what his temper looked like.  I didn't know that being alone in our building would feel so lonely.  I didn't know that my commute would wear on me so hard.

With this new information, I decided to start looking for another job.  I don't know what the perfect situation will look like.  If I'm closer to home, could I work in a job that doesn't fully engage me?  If I have a job that I love love love, would my commute bother me less?  Is it in my family's best interest to make less money while being much happier in my job situation?  I've applied for some jobs that are closer to home and some that seem like they would be a good fit for me.  Nothing has worked out, so far.

Last week, my dearest Lois Lane forwarded me an email she received from the program director at a local Christian radio station.  They are looking for a full-time on-air personality for their morning show.  Lois works in the communication department at UNI with interns and she was contacted to help spread the word for their search.  Her brain works is curiously awesome ways and she immediately thought I should apply and so forwarded the information to me.  I'm smart and a can learn to do just about anything, so I thought "this could be a fun adventure!"  I looked at the job description and quickly learned that they wanted a "real" broadcaster.  I have great chatting skills, I love music, and I love God but clearly that wasn't going to cut it.

After a few emails back and forth, Lois convinced me "why not?" and said she would ask the program director if they would consider applications from inexperienced folks.  I thought surely he would say "this is a serious radio station, we want a professional broadcaster."

I also emailed JK and she aptly pointed out that I had never, ever mentioned a desire to be in the world of mass media and pushed me to consider what my career goals are.  Just because I need a new job doesn't mean I should jump into the first thing that comes along.  Getting out isn't the only goal, I also have to find my way to something better, something that will sustain me for years.  She's so smart.

That evening I listened to the radio station during my commute home and was left with a yucky feeling in my gut.  This radio station is owned by a Christian college in the Twin Cities that I don't particularly admire.  Some of the youth group kids I worked with were looking to attend that college and some of their practices were, shall we say, less than progressive, in my opinion.  I liked the music I was hearing, I didn't object to anything the DJ's were saying, but something just wasn't right.  I attributed these feelings to God telling me, "Nope, that is not the right place for you."  I wouldn't be comfortable working for an organization whose theology vastly differs from mine and I know it wouldn't be fair to me, the listeners or to the people who put their life into that ministry.

So I thought, "Good enough.  That's not the ministry for me, not the job for me and that's perfectly okay."

The next morning, however, I felt compelled to give them another listen.  This time, I felt totally different.  I heard only, "We are here to uplift you.  We want you to know God is on your side.  We want you to know t Eastern Iowa is on your side."  I am a strong believer in the idea that it takes a village to do just about everything in life and the interludes presented by the DJ's between songs made my heart feel warm.

That morning, Lois forwarded another email saying that the station would absolutely accept the application of anyone with experience in Communication - and it seems that Youth and Family Ministry falls in that category.

Well, shit.  Now I'm all kinds of confused.

When JK asked me to consider my long-term career goals the only thing that came to mind was being a stay-at-home-mom.  Granted, we are several years away from being able to make that happen financially and it may not ever happen.  I'm okay with that, too.  I have never considered starting a career in the communication field because I don't have the education or the experience or the opportunity to go back to school.  But I do know that I have been long fascinated with media.  I don't think I want a life-long career in the business world.  When I think about trying to get back into congregational youth ministry, that doesn't feel right either.

I do know that I am called to ministry, but I am far from sure what form that is supposed to take.  Maybe I'm supposed to be super involved in a congregation in lots of informal ways.  Maybe I'm supposed to spend my ministry energy on building a strong prayer and devotional routine for Clayton and I.  Maybe I'm supposed to work for an organization that takes people on mission trips.  Maybe I'm supposed to mentor a kid in Waterloo.  Maybe I'm supposed to work for a Christian radio station.  Maybe I'm already fulfilling my call in my everyday life.

Is God calling me to this job?  Is God calling me to a career in media?  Could this job be a filler job until my career path is clear to me?  Or maybe it's a filler job until I get to stay at home with Clayton and any other kids we are blessed with?

Of course there are zillions of factors to consider - will it be enough money, will we be able to make the goofy hours work, will I feel comfortable working with people whose ideas of discipleship are more traditional than mine...?

I forwarded my resume to the program director on Monday.  I haven't heard back.

Share your thoughts below and stay tuned....

Monday, September 16, 2013

My, how things have changed.

When nearly 4 years passes between blog posts, things are bound to be quite different.  Rather than fill a post with the play-by-play of the time gone by, I'm just going to start from here and move forward.

Today is Monday September 6, 2013.  I would like to use this space to explore the things that run around in my head.  My brain is clearer and calmer if I export as much as possible.  Over the years, I've discovered that I don't necessarily need to talk things through with people, I just need to get the abstract thoughts and questions into a clear sentence or paragraph.  Once I have done that, I can either let it go or I can use it in my life in a clear way.

I do enjoy feedback from the folks in my life so I hope to write regularly in order to gain a consistent readership.  If it is possible to do that without facebook, that is the route I choose.  Please let me know if you're reading and add whatever thoughts you have.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

6 months to life.

K and I have been talking more and more about adding to the Bockoven household. The plan has always been to wait until C's 5th birthday so that about the time he starts Kindergarten (aka doesn't require daycare anymore) there would be another Bockoven. C's 5th birthday has come and gone, so you know what that means.....

I'm gonna get skinny and healthy first.

Over the last couple of months, I've naturally been reflecting on my pregnancy, L&D and C's infancy. For the most part, it was awful. I love my son, but that 2 year time period was just plain rotten. Much of it could not have been changed, but there are parts I could have improved. By and large, my weight, physical fitness and general health could have meant a very different experience for all involved.

I've often wanted to hire a life coach/personal trainer/nutritionist/chef. However, K is a pastor and I'm a do the math. So, I chose the next best baby brother.

When Uncle P came to Champaign for I's graduation, he got me to do an entire pushup...all the way down and all the way up. That was a miracle for me. The next week I called him and told him he should go to school to be a personal trainer. I know no other person with such passion for health and fitness and love for human kind. He genuinely wants people to be healthy because it's in their best interest. He encourages with the love he personifies and makes me want to be able to do 100 pushups.

After that conversation he designed a little workout for me, using my own body weight (which should make me dang strong....geesh!). It takes 15 minutes and I can do it while watching TV. Perfection. I did it once and was sore for 2 days. Then I had to pack my house up and move to Iowa...

On Monday I decided that our life was too chaotic right now for me to be pregnant, and I'm not healthy....not even a little bit. I talked to Patrick and told him I wanted to spend the next 6 months getting healthy (he's in charge of that) and getting our new life in Iowa de-chaos-ified (I'm in charge of that) so that I can feel great about using my body to grow a baby and feel great about bringing the next Bockoven into this world.

The plan is this:
Body Weight exercises MWF, a killer swift 30 minute walk T,R mornings (we aren't talking Andante folks!!!)

I hope, desperately, with all my heart and soul that in 2 weeks I can report that my clothes are fitting better and I've been sleeping like a baby. My modus operandi is quite the opposite, so here's hopin'!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Well, boo.

When I started this blog, I thought I would fill it with witty and philosophical observations of the world and my life. I thought I would tell well-constructed stories that showcase my intelligence and insightfulness. For some reason I didn't want this to be a mom-blog. For some reason I didn't want it to be "what's going on in my life." I didn't want it to be "Dear Diary" for the world to see.

After a few entries I found myself uninspired. I have a million ideas to explain (some of them I shared in a recent-ish post). Evidently explanation wasn't enough to bring the inspiration roaring back.

I find that I have millions of questions of the world, of the universe and everyday I feel like I have less and less answers, and certainly nothing witty to say about it all. Also, last time I asked a question out loud in this medium, I got told to settle down and stop asking such questions. I've always been encouraged to be curious and inquisitive, but it certainly has led to it's fair share of "Paralysis by Analysis." So that's no fun for anyone to read and I don't want to write that which isn't any fun.

I also have been scared to share my biggest question, for fear of being called a fraud.

I'm over it.

Where is God? I'm not kidding, I'm so unsure of God's whereabouts I would be lying if I said I was certain of God's existence. The biggest trouble in all of this: this is not a crisis of faith, this is not a passing feeling. This is simply the first time I've admitted it. Hell, I'm a pastor's wife, I've earned a Master's degree from Seminary, I've worked as a youth worker in several churches, I've been a church-camp counselor, I've helped with more VBS's than I can count, I was on the Synod LYO board, I was the girl who brought her friends to church, I asked to be baptised at age 8 because I felt strongly about the sacrament. How does all of that add up to "Where is God?" Have I been faking it all these years? Holy Shit! I hope not.

I'm not sure what I've been believing in all these years. When I talk people through "Am I a Christian?" I start with the Apostle's Creed. Perhaps that is where I shall begin.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

I can't understand how anyone who has eyes and a brain can NOT believe in a creator. Biology, Chemistry and Physics explains how things in our world work, but not why. I have a long list of phenomenon that "prove" to me a creator's hand in our universe.

Where I loose the connection is God's benevolence and relational nature. Now that I read the line, I'm not sure why I've always thought benevolence is implied, but I've been taught that it is, I've taught that it is. We do not believe that God is a puppeteer and we do not believe God is a clock-maker who simply made the world, wound it up and pushed "Go!". Those ideas, to me, imply benevolence.

I have never felt a "relationship" with God. I see good things in the world and believe they are God's work, but I do not feel his presence in my own life. I cannot name one time when I have felt God guiding me or speaking to me (no stories of veering off the route home to buy some milk here). At this point I'd say I have more faith in coincidences and chance than God's guiding hand. I've never had a strong prayer life and I'm pretty sure I don't involve God in any decisions I make on a day to day basis. Pray for signs, forget it. I've tried to build a prayer practice with Lectio Divina by myself, devotions, journaling, name it, I've probably tried it...I'm sure that I "give up" each time because I feel/hear nothing...I feel like I'm just talking to my self. The theologian in me tells myself that I'm approaching it too selfishly, that I'm looking for it to be God-Down rather than me giving my self, my thoughts, worries, etc to God. Well, after 15 years, the one sided conversation doesn't do the trick anymore (I guess not that it ever has).

In my Christian life, my relationships have been with people. I have been held up in crisis by people. I have seen 1 set of footprints in the sand of another person. Sure, you say, God has acted through those people to give you a tangible sense of Himself. That's all fine and good, but people are still people and can't guide me the way God is supposed to. People are too weak for that, as well they should be. People give me conflicting answers/advice, as well they should. I want both...I want people and I want God....why is that so much to ask. Why are there people (even Lutherans) who walk around spouting "God's told me..."?? Are they lying, are they delusional, are they as lonely for God as I am but they are convincing themselves of God's voice?

I have put some big things out there for God's input and have made some big decisions on his (I now perceive to be lack of) guidance. If God demands us to cling to him, why the hell doesn't he give me anything when I'm hanging by my fingernails, why don't I ever feel at peace, why am I forced to feel like I just have to own up to my choices because I never have one damn clue what God thinks I should do?

Here I stand, I can do no other.