I tend not to talk about my accomplishments very much, even when I’m proud of myself. Other people usually brag for me, to my total embarrassment. But I feel I’ve done some pretty cool things at the museum this month so I want to share.
On Thursday I posted the link to an article I wrote for the local paper on the ESC Facebook page. I wrote about the 1918 flu epidemic and its impact on Colorado, particularly on Steamboat Springs and other nearby towns. This is my first public piece of writing.
The big one: in case you missed it, the Olympics took place this month. I’ve never really paid attention to them, but I have the privilege of living and working in Ski Town U.S.A. Steamboat Springs has ties to more Olympic athletes than anywhere else in the country. 15 2018 Winter Olympians lived or trained here, and that meant I couldn’t ignore the Olympics this year. Quite the opposite – I created my very first solo museum exhibit about Steamboat’s 2018 athletes! I researched the games and athletes, designed and mounted (with help!) the information panels and a couple of artifacts belonging to previous Olympians.
Meanwhile, this past week my boss arranged an amazing loan for the museum – a 2010 Olympic silver medal won by Steamboat Springs native Johnny Spillane. And the coolest part: in the absence of the museum curator, she turned the medal over to me to create a display! It was small and simple, but I don’t think I’ve ever handled something as cool (or as valuable!) before. I got started on the display before the medal arrived so it could go up quickly, so I was relieved when it turned out looking great with no adjustments needed.
These are things I worked hard on this month and am proud to have done. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have done these things and for the support and help I had in doing them.
Every week we sit in a circle and share a moment when we felt we (as individuals) experienced God. This week I didn’t have one God moment really, but more of a series of thoughts. For the last few years, I have been practicing Christianity and for the last few years I have also felt a bit of a wandering heart. I’m just not all in on this hipster, Jesus-only, #blessed, rock band, passionate, hands up in praise, no questions Christianity.
This week though, I realized, I am a Christian and I’m able to speak that over myself. When it boils down to the me and God of it- I am a believer. I need and want this faith in my life. I’m in it and not walking away. I noticed that Denver has been the only place where I have not felt a desire to resist Christianity and look for another religion. This is something I’m committed to for #lyfe. I wonder why though – what’s gotten me to this point?
I believe the biggest piece is that here, I have the true freedom to choose. Supposedly, I’ve always had that freedom. But not really. Before there was always the pervasive assumption of Christianity. It is the religion of all the biggest & most visible churches, the opportunities for community are in church small groups and church-facilitated sports, in the “Godly man” awaiting me to be his “Godly wife” one day. Most of the groups doing good charity-type work were affiliated with Christian churches in Indiana, Kansas, and Illinois. The culture felt it was set up to flow the little Erin fish in to the big sea ( C ) of Christianity (lol seeee what I did there).
Choosing not to be a Christian meant: remove the majority of dating prospects from your radar, probably join the crazy hippies or non-spiritual at all because that is all there is. Good luck finding a small group type community because that’s really a staple for quality socialization in the Midwest. And watch as your old small groups and church leaders pray for your soul. Also, remove that connection point from your list of ways to network with other generations in the workplace because you won’t have that shared understanding or see each other around at church anymore. And say goodbye to a lot of your music too. So yes, I could technically give up Christianity, but not without losing many other pieces of my life.
Here, in the metro, I actually do have the freedom to choose. Sure, Christianity seems to still be the dominant religion, but there are plenty of other viable options. Plenty of non-Christian spiritual people to date, pods of community who unite around common values, people who are open to fluid conversations. The C-suite staff isn’t predictably Christian.
And you know what that leads to? Talking about our values, our common humanity, our experiences, what we truly believe in – beyond the labels.
Christianity is so much more complex than I was taught through watching on the outside for 20 years and the inside of different non-denominational churches for the last five years. It’s helped me to name what I am not, in trying to find what I am. I am not willing to form judgements of LGBTQIA, not going to be anti-abortion, I don’t have to want kids, I don’t have to agree with the belief that women shouldn’t be preachers, I don’t have to believe [they] are a lost soul because [they’re] not baptized, I don’t have to be docile, and the list continues.
Just because I believe in the Christian God does not mean that I have to prescribe to all these other beliefs or else be lonely for life. I am not going to be blind or easily go-with-the-flow. It’s just not who I am (those of you who know me, probably know that haha). It is quite likely that I am going to be critically-questioning for my whole life – and I am glad. So when I do have moments like this week, I can fully claim it for myself. And when I talk with others of different denominations, faith systems, or those who don’t claim a religion, and we can connect on the soul of it, not the basic culture. I guess I’m just glad that it isn’t a black and white, all or nothing thing. There is so much gray space and I’m thankful for the diversity of Denver and multiple generations investing in our learning. It gives me peace to not have to pick a side, just more of a human, ya know? I hope we let people be free, let people be what they are.
Right now it is the middle of winter. At my placement site, Saint Francis Center. we see hundreds of people a day. which means we also come in contact with hundreds of germs a day. In your first year at SFC it is expected you’ll get sick all through the winter pretty much. It’s science. But it still sucks. So right now my head isn’t too much into the heavy stuff. I’m doing what I can to keep learning and growing but the fact of the matter is that sometimes your head just ain’t in the game. Right now i’m constantly dreaming of warmer weather and skateboarding, and sitting out on the porch after work. I’ve pretty much entirely stopped wearing deodorant, which is actually pretty sick. I get some pretty obnoxious BO but i’m the only one who smells it so who cares really? I’m gonna post a link to a skateboard video, I really hope you take a couple minutes and check it out, skateboarding brings me a lot of comfort and helps me get out of my head. So from me to you, here is a video called “Chicken Bone Nowison”.
One of the first things we talked about way back at the start of this program (a whole 5 months ago, which sometimes feels like a lot longer) was embracing vulnerability, and the discomfort that comes with it. In case you couldn’t tell by now I’m the type of person who haaaates vulnerability and feeling uncomfortable. Back in August, we were talking about Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, which I read admittedly in kind of a rush, but which I filled with highlights because I identified so strongly with her words about the discomfort of vulnerability.
In one of Kirsten’s and my early sessions with our group therapist we practiced sitting in silence and focusing on the awkwardness we felt. I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person who tries to avoid and ignore awkwardness as much as possible, and sitting in silence with other people almost always feels uncomfortable. But the point of the exercise was to notice how it felt, keep going, and see how the discomfort lessened.
A couple of weeks ago when I was thinking about what to write for this blog, I expected to write a little about this being about the halfway point of the program. I had a vague idea of summarizing some of my favorite moments and talking about how I finally felt settled in and comfortable. However, things have gotten pretty uncomfortable again since then. A lot of the routines I’ve built up are changing, and the future is a little hazier than I would like.
I had to push through the discomfort just to go on last weekend’s retreat, which in all honesty, I was wishing I could skip. I knew there would be expectations of vulnerability and I was not feeling like opening up to a dozen new strangers on top of the anxiety I was already feeling. But as it turned out, braving that discomfort was a good thing for me. Remember I wrote about hating talking to new people? I talked to a bunch (by my definition anyway) of new people over the weekend and it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. I ended up being glad that I went on the retreat.
So my life does not feel as stable as I would like right now, and there’s a fair amount of anxiety and awkwardness to deal with. I just have to remember that there’s something better on the other side of the discomfort.