Things We Suck Happiness From

Coffee addicts know that tea is no substitute for the ‘real thing.’ After six days without that rich, brown nectar of heaven, I know this for sure. I don’t know how much caffeine tea has in it, but not enough to stave off the headache and muscle ache of withdrawal.

Poor me. ūüėČ I’m sure going to enjoy my big cup of coffee tomorrow.

Last week I talked about how I’d given up TV for the majority of the month as a way to purge clutter from my life. This week, I added coffee to the list of banned things. When you start to equate a good cup of coffee with true happiness, it’s probably time.

It wasn’t long before I regretted it.

When I work day shift, every evening is¬†scheduled for an appointment, or spent frantically cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and trying to get my writing done. As a homebody, I don’t like these weeks. I just want to be at home in front of my laptop… with coffee. I was sick with a cold this week. I also had a lot on my mind–mostly stuff I can’t go into. While normally I can deal with the stressful schedule at work, this week I often developed shortness of breath and chest pain by the end of the day.

Normally I’d go home, sit in my easy chair with a cup of coffee and watch a few mindless YouTube videos. During the day, I sometimes hold out that chair and coffee mug like the proverbial carrot in front of the donkey. “Just a little farther, and then you can have it.” But this week I’d get home tired, sick and weepy and none of my ‘medication’ would be there.

I grew up thinking that people with real problems used alcohol and drugs to numb their pain. It’s become uncomfortably obvious that most people have their ways of self-medication, inane, ‘harmless’ things to make them feel better. It’s not bad to drink coffee, or watch TV, or drink a glass of wine. But many souls like me use these things like patches instead of facing the real issues.

Then, when we take away our crutches, we fall. We’re sad. A girl I know talked about how sad she was when she gave up sugar and sweets for the month. It was her birthday, and she couldn’t have cake, and she was depressed. You can also observe how upset people get when the weather is rainy in the summer, or frigid in the winter. Are we really basing our happiness on externals like that? Yes, that is the primary way humans attempt to bring happiness into their lives.

What is the alternative? I would posit two–with the caveat that I’m just trying to figure this out myself.

Chris Brady said, “To be happy, you’ve got to give happy.” That is to say that when we’re feeling low, we need to take our eyes off ourselves and bring happiness to others.

Second, we need a solid internal constitution, or foundation of principles to fall back on when our externals fail us. What is our anchor?

Personally, I need to learn to seek out Jesus as my friend, constant companion and life giver. There is no switch I can flip to learn that, but in the bleakness of the workweek, there were sweet moments when I paced back and forth in front of my coating pan or crashed in my comfy chair and prayed. Even if what I prayed was¬†pathetic things like “make me happy, pleaaase.” ūüôā

Going AWOL and Writing a Book

Hey Friends,

It’s November, and here in Manitoba, the weather has caught up. ¬†There is snow, and thus we are launched into our 4-6 months of winter. ¬†But I don’t mind, because I probably won’t see daylight until December.

It’s NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. ¬†Writers all over challenge themselves to write a novel of not less than 50,000 words in length. ¬†This has been in progress for a week now, so blogging has not been a priority. ¬†It won’t be until NaNo is done.

What am I Writing?

I am very excited to begin a trilogy, which falls roughly into the genre of urban fantasy, but with immortal humans instead of demon-slayers, vampires and werewolves.  The protagonists are Jack, the youngest of the Immortals who in this first book has yet to come to grip with the burden of living on while everyone else dies.  He compulsively tries to die, if only to get as close to death as possible before rebounding back to life.  The other protagonist is Alannah, an immortal Holocaust survivor who teaches history and hides from society as much as possible.  Another key figure is Alexander, a seven-hundred and some year old former knight.

Meanwhile, Alannah fights the fear that someone is stalking her–perhaps someone from her past? ¬†Jack resists Alannah and Alexander’s attempts to assimilate him into the secret Immortal society, meanwhile battling increasing self-hatred as he cannot keep his promise to his late wife that he would stop harming himself.

Once again, I find myself writing on dark themes. ¬†In¬†We are the Living¬†I wrote on themes such as PTSD, loss of hope and loss of loved ones, and finding reasons to live when the life you knew has been destroyed–all against the backdrop of a post zombie apocalyptic Italy.

This story deals with self-harm and addiction, and finding the courage to chase after a life-purpose. ¬†As the series unfolds, their will be a thread about the consequences one bad choice can have. ¬†And there will be romance, because I can’t seem to go without it.

This book won’t be released until well into 2015, as there is a SciFi novel in the queue before it.

Coffee and Lots of It

I’ve written about 20,000 words now–more before I go to bed at 1:00 am tonight. ¬†ūüôā ¬†This is all fuelled by copious amounts of coffee.

How do you know you are drinking too much coffee, exactly?  One clue: I became wide awake this morning when I heard my sister pouring the beans into the grinder.  No lying in bed for me, oh no.

I also have decaf, so if need be I can drink it right to the end!  The other day all the caffeinated coffee was gone, and I had nothing but decaf all day.  I was concerned I might be going into withdrawal.

And while I drink coffee and write, I have Spotify on a continuous stream of contemplative (read: depressing) indie and folk music.

Oh yes, and tomorrow I’m going to run on a treadmill for the first time. ¬†I am not excited. ¬†But maybe I can take my coffee and my laptop with me and write, drink and listen to Spotify while running. ¬†Worth a shot, no?

So if I don’t post for a few weeks, it’s because I’m off writing like a madwoman… or I flew off the treadmill and am confined to a body cast.

10 Things I’m Thankful For

In a few hours it will be my birthday.

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere this week, due to the pendulum swing of my schedule. ¬†While on day shifts, I try to make up for the lack of social life while I’m working evenings. ¬†My brain has been packed, and much of what I’ve come up with to write is so snarky I don’t dare infect you with it.

So, in hopes of soothing my soul and inspiring you, I’d like to share ten things I’m thankful for–at the dawn of my 24th year.

In no particular order…

1. Strawberry the Car

20140305-205529.jpgThis week I’ve logged a lot of miles in my magic carpet. ¬†I picked up the print edition of We are the Living from the courier (an hour and fifteen minutes away), I went to dinner with two college friends, and before the week is out, Strawberry’s little wheels will take me to my second 5K race. ¬†Since I got my own car (after 5 years of waiting) I’ve been granted a whole new level of freedom. ¬†I’m grateful for that.

2. A job that challenges me.

I’ve worked at the pharmaceutical plant for a year and a half now, and the job has yet to get easy. ¬†That’s perfect, even if it is frustrating at times (like today). ¬†As long as it keeps me learning I won’t get bored or stagnate.

3. I work in pyjamas all day!

Scrubs, actually, but they’re just as comfortable. ¬†Some people don’t like wearing a uniform, but I wouldn’t change it. ¬†They’re loose, modest, and save on laundry.

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4. Coffee

Mmm… coffee.

5. Autumn is coming

Now, this also means that winter is coming, which in Manitoba is a six-month affair… but let’s not think that far. ¬†I look forward to the crisp air, the falling leaves, and pumpkin everything–except those fake pumpkin syrup things every coffee shop hawks at us. ¬†Ew! ¬†Pumpkin cheesecake (sugar free, low carb) is on the birthday menu tomorrow.

6. Stevia

The secret to healthy living, as far as I’m concerned.

7. Coworkers who are also friends.

I’ve had some excellent coworkers over the last three years, and I’m pleased to still call many of them friends. ¬†Work is so much better with them!

8. WiFi at home

Wow, what a relief to not have to drive, walk or bike to find WiFi!  As a blogger, it was getting a bit ridiculous.  I was single-handedly supporting every coffee shop in town, I think.

9. The Electric Donkey

Also known as my next 5K race, and what has been motivating me for the last month. ¬†I’m so excited!

10. My family

We’ve had some wonderful visits lately. ¬†Our bonfire pit has added another six inches of ash to its layers, I think. ¬†They’re the best people to hang out and drink coffee with on a Saturday evening, and I look forward to celebrating my birthday with them tomorrow. ¬†I’ll bring the cheesecake!

So tell me?  What are you thankful for?  Feel free to comment with your own lists.

 

 

Roll Up the Rim is Gambling! (A True Theological Dilemma)

I’m on such a losing streak. I’ve yet to win anything in Roll up the Rim. Nothing, not even a donut. This year each cup even has two rolls on it and I’m still skunked.

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But I roll anyway, because I remember The Streak. It was a college kid’s dream. I rolled a rim and won a coffee, which won another coffee, which won another coffee, which won another. Tim Hortons didn’t make any money on me that year, oh no. Never mind that I was only buying coffee there because it was Roll up the Rim…

The other day, my sister and I had a perfectly serious conversation about what we would do if we won the car (sell it), and this morning as I pulled into the drive-through, I said “Oh Lord, if I could only win something big…”

It dawned on me this morning, as I rolled out of the drive-through, that this Roll up the Rim thing may be… it might be **whispers** gambling.

Gasp!

You don’t say. A good Mennonite? Gambling?

Well, if you think about it, a cup of coffee is almost the same price as a bet at the local horse races (that place of sin and debauchery).

What is a Mennonite to do? Maybe I need help. Maybe I should buy coffee exclusively at McDonalds where I am at least guaranteed a sticker for my rewards card–a return on my investment. Perhaps that would be better stewardship of my God-given resources.

Or maybe buying coffee at Tim's is too worldly all together! Never mind that NOT going to Timmies makes me un-Canadian or something. Mennonites don't really do the patriotism thing. Everyone knows that.

Well, if I ever win the car, I will tithe once I sell it. I promise. That makes it okay, right? Right?

I hope my good Mennonite friends will recognize satire when they see it ūüôā
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Addicted to Fast Food? Surely not I

Photo on 2-8-2014 at 1.28 PM

What I shove down my gullet never ceases to amaze me. ¬†No matter what lovely, nutritious, clementine oranges, homemade soup, whole-grain muffins, or greek yogurt I have in my fridge, I’d rather buy my lunch. ¬†I once had a coworker who’d look over my shoulder every day to see what I was eating–leftovers, or soup usually. ¬†Meanwhile, I was gazing in envy at their sub. ¬†She thought I was a domestic goddess, but actually I was too poor to buy lunch.

I don’t understand.

And why is plain coffee from the drive through better than a vanilla latte I made myself? And it takes about the same amount of time, maybe less, to make the latte. ¬†And why would I rather have a McDouble than barbecue my own burger? ¬†I mean, McDouble? Ick. ¬†I’ve seen Super Size Me.

I’ve heard this trend pinned on my generation–we youngbloods who have to have our Starbucks and are too cool to brown bag it. ¬†Well, I do love Starbucks, but I don’t believe that. ¬†If you’ve ever been to the McDonalds in my town at 10:00 in the morning, you will see wall-to-wall construction workers and retirees (and your humble, shift-working blogger). ¬†From where I sit right now–yes, I’m in McDonalds–I see mainly families and older folk. ¬†So is it just my generation? Heck no. ¬†

Everyone else is doing it too, but that doesn’t help me.

My wallet is what saves me. ¬†I just don’t have the budget to buy lunch every day. ¬†And even if I did, I’d be too cheap. ¬†When I was a kid I ate in a restaurant about six times a year, and those times were a huge treat. ¬†I think that’s still ingrained in me, even if I buy coffee twice a week, and lunch every second week. ¬†I want it to stay that way–special–so I guess I’ll have to pack my meals.

But, as long as I don’t have WiFi at home, I’ll be coming to McDonalds. ¬†Sneaky. ¬†Very sneaky.

How about you?