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Pivot and Embrace

May 18, 2011

I’ve only journeyed 23 years, 4 months and 7 days of life. Yet in 20 months shy of a quarter century, I think I may have extracted some bits of wisdom along the way. Or at least I hope I’ve been paying enough attention to learn with every day, every hour, every moment I pass through. I think the bits I’ve gleaned are no different than something you would hear from those who lived centuries past. These words are really just an articulation of the common experiences of man. With that, we find–or we all will at some point–that life is rugged, unexpected, and sweet. In dealing with life as of late, a simple mantra of a sort to “pivot and embrace” has aided me along the way.

Bear with me as I provide two short, recent examples.

These may be a stretch, and neither reference the above photo of Smith Rock (a rugged trail…seriously, will you brave “Misery Ridge”?)–I did hike it recently with the lil bro and have many other times, but I will get to my point. Mostly I really just want to tell you two stories. :)

1. Friday Night Dinner:

I recently purchased a box of food from Arganica delivery. I decided that among the produce I needed some protein–so why not a trout? We used to fish all the time when I was younger. I love(d) fishing! Had the “I’d rather be fishin’ with Grandpa” T-Shirt and everything.

So! I get my fish and see that, oh, gross, there is still a head on and its huge. I’ll save it for dinner with a friend. Friday night rolls around I pull out my dear ole trout and, yep, there is is staring back at me. The entire, complete fish. It had not been gutted and cleaned. First thought: oh…gross! Second thought: I could just throw it away, I have chicken. Third thought: Dude! I totally gutted fish as a little girl. I’m calling Dad.

I did. I pivoted and embraced that challenged. Probably one of my greatest accomplishments yet: I cleaned that fish. (I know I’m making life analogies with gutting a fish. Please don’t judge me).

2. Capitol Hill Classic 10K:

This Sunday I ran my first ever race! I should probably pull some detailed metaphor about the unexpected obstacles that were thrown my way during the race. In the face of them I had to pivot, readjust my stance, my perspective and embrace the remaining portion of the race. But no, that didn’t really happen for me. Instead it was my anxiety. Here I am 23 years old, and I’ve run consistently for about 6 years now. Yep, that’s right, for fun.

Now 6 years have gone by and I’ve never entered a race; I rarely even time my runs or the distance out of fear of competing with myself and other people. Or maybe its an underlying fear of not measuring up and hey, if you don’t try to compete who knows if you ever will measure up? That said, I promised myself that I would run a race by this Spring…and as May is coming to a close so will spring as well. Amongst various other anxieties I decided to pivot, change my perspective, and just embrace the goal I had set before myself. So the race was on a Sunday and I registered that Thursday (procrastinate, much?). I did it! I didn’t let anxiety overwhelm me.

Monday. Results in. I ran my first 10K at 45:39, # 34 of 984 women. My goal was to do it at 45 minutes, so I’m glad I embraced my own challenge. And I’ve checked my heart on telling you this, and I’ll be upfront, I am proud of myself: I came in #5 for my age bracket and out first time racers, I was the #1 female.

One major, recent example: I’ve transition out of my non-profit job. Now I Bake. I will Barista. And continue to Blog.

I’m going to give the brief version: call me if you want the long one. Y’all know I can talk. See previous blog post for some context (or really…all of them…)

About a month ago the opportunity to intern with a local pastry chef fell into my lap. To be honest, I never knew such a thing could exist. But how could I pass this up? I’ve been writing, talking and dreaming of one day beginning my own bakery. But how will I ever know if I want that unless I just jump into this baking, small business owner sector? So I did! May 9th was my last day at Mobilize.org. I am filled with such gratitude for that opportunity–and the relationships that grew during that time.

Now I am spending two day a week at Buzz bakery in Alexandria, VA. I am learning how to measure 72 egg yolks, mix a batch of peanut butter rice krispies in a pot that I could curl up in, make gallons of granola (Rachel Brown, the amount of granola I used to make doesn’t even compare–imagine: 64 cups of oats alone…), and I’ve found the best hand moisturizer: buttercream. Yep, that’s right, in order to mix in all 12lbs of butter with the 18lbs of sugar you gotta get your hand in there. I’m loving it. But it has not been without anxiety. Goodness, I was ready to quit after my second day, but I had to pivot (again) and really embrace this opportunity before me. I’ve experienced some obstacles in life that bear a far greater weight: I kind of laugh at myself when the magnitude of interning at a bakery seems so overwhelming. Its a gift. One I’ve been given and embraced.

So, those practical people in life are wondering—ok, 2 days/week, what else are you doing? I am tempted not to answer that question at all. For the presupposition is often about doing, doing, doing. Who am I if I only do something 2 days/week? But since the other half is asking on the pure base of wisdom– that God has given us time and gifts to steward and the responsibility of being productive and caring for ourselves and others– for you, I will answer. I’m going to be working at a local coffee house: Peregrine. Another great opportunity that fell into my lap. I’m excited to be working with people and providing a place to for others to experience life over a cup of coffee and scone. I am very intrigued by the strategy of this coffee house and I see that there is much to glean from their business model in thinking about one day having my own. So! There’s a big ole life update. I really believe that it has been the work of Providence that has brought me to this point and given me the strength to embrace.

I know that these principles I’m speaking of is not some new, grave perspective on life. I’m not the first to recognize this great need to be flexible and recognize, pivot and embrace the opportunities in life. Although I am just 23 years young, I’ve had life twist and turn and even admist trial and heartache see circumstances work out for the good. No, I don’t believe in some uptopia on earth. I do believe that I am given the strength to pivot and embrace in circumstances because God has revealed Himself to be good, loving, and faithful. I told someone about 2 years ago that the theme of my life is: God takes care of me. I can look back and each step of the way I see my Abba Father leading me, carrying me, and gently correcting me to bring me into deeper relationship with Him and those around me. I type these words in partial to remind myself. For the same evening that I gutted a fish (oh, yes, I am reminding you of this triumph!) my dear friend and I spent 5 hours talking about the questions, no, better word, the anxieties we have about this life. At church Sunday evening we confessed these words: [seriously felt like someone was creeping on our conversation]

Father, we come to you in need of your mercy and compassion. Though you have given us every reason for confidence, security and faith, anxiety is constantly pushing us around. We confess that though you love us and promise to care for us, we are often anxious about our future, so we try to control our circumstances. We are anxious about change, so we cling to familiar things. We are anxious about how others view us, so we try to manipulate how others perceive us. We are anxious about decisions we must make and are often paralyzed. We are anxious about commitments, so we wander. We are anxious about resting, so we work ourselves into the ground. Lord, please forgive us for our pride and doubt. Help us to put off the old life and put on the new.

And in His great mercy the Lord calls us to a place of trust in His faithfulness and love for us:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “ Matthew 6: 25-26

It’s simple. God takes care of us. I really do not mean to make light of the deep heartache and injustices of the world by that comment. For it is a faith He has grown in me. I still get anxious about even little things like how will I commute to work? Or a bit bigger, how will my life make a difference? Or why are innocent lives taken by violent crimes? The list of life’s unexpected hurdles and growing anxieties are endless…but they draw me to a resting place. And if I had no peace in Him, I do not know how I would journey this life. I find deep solace in this hymn, it helps me pivot, and embrace Him in the next stage of life.

It is Well

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul!”

It is well, it is well, With my soul, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blessed assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, it is well, With my soul, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, it is well, With my soul, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul.

And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well, it is well, With my soul, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well, it is well, With my soul, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul.

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From → Living, Reflecting

3 Comments
  1. Karissa Griggs permalink

    Em,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, especially the words on being anxious. I kind of miss having you as an RA. Haha. I think interning at a Bakery is so awesome. Please let me know the next time you are in Oregon? I miss you :)

  2. this was wonderful, em :) again… i relate so much!
    and i’m so excited for you and all your changes! i am back in the barista & baking world as well! it is really wonderful. i half wish that you could come home and be my baking partner! but i know that your gifts and talent will shine through where-ever you are at. be blessed, friend :)

    – danielle

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