I’m not a positive person

Positivity vs Negativity - Two-Way Street Sign

Someone recently thanked me for being such a positive person. This is not the first time this has happened, but it always takes me aback and I never really know how to respond. Every. Single. Time.

I’m not a positive person.

I’m cynical. I think people are not basically good. I think we’re all doomed and headed for oblivion. I expect the worst. I expect to be hurt and let down. Most of the time I’m really on board with “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

But I get thanked on a regular basis for being so positive?

Parents teach us all sorts of things, both directly and indirectly. It’s what they do. They teach us the basics of life as well as the larger issues of how to behave socially and (hopefully) how to be a good person. My parents taught me two things that I think back on regularly – multiple times a week.

1. God expects Christ followers to work hard. Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability.” The way my parents explained and lived this out was that working hard and doing things with excellence is part of how we live out our love for God. This means to give everything at work, not working half-heartedly. Do the work, and do it well.

2. Treat people how you want to be treated. Matthew 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” All of the do’s and don’t’s of religion boils down to this. Don’t do something to someone if you would be hurt by someone else doing to you. It’s that simple.

I think people look at me and see me working hard and trying to treat people right and assume I do it because I’m positive. But I don’t. I do it because this is how I was taught to be a good person, to live a good life. I can be cynical and negative all day while doing these things.

I offer people the benefit of the doubt because I want people to give me the benefit of the doubt. I offer people grace in their mistakes because I need so much grace myself. I recognize people have bad days and say stupid things because I have bad days and say stupid things. I respect people’s professionalism because I hope people will respect mine. I forgive offenses because goodness knows I offend all the time and need forgiveness. How can I ask someone to extend to me that which I will not extend to them? How can I ask someone to respect me if I offer no respect?

I don’t work hard at my job because I have such positivity about it. I don’t work hard because I need a paycheck (although I do need a paycheck). Sometimes I don’t even work hard because I am filled with passion. I work hard because God calls me to work hard, because my using my skills honors the Divine.

It’s not positivity; it’s working hard and treating people how I want to be treated.

The Clara Chronicles: Part 1

It’s no secret to anyone I’ve talked Doctor Who with for very long that I really can’t stand the character of Clara Oswin Oswald. She has her moments where she’s not horrible, but in general, I dislike her times a thousand. So I’ve decided that as I’m rewatching her episodes, I’m going to document the waxing and waning and re-waxing of my dislike of her.

Obviously, these posts will be rife with spoilers.

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Here we go!

I quite liked Clara during the “Impossible Girl” story line. I thought it was a clever story line and was quite excited to see it through. However, I think Clara’s time should have ended with the “Impossible Girl” story and a new primary companion should have been introduced. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of “I like her” reports at the beginning of her jaunt as the Doctor’s Companion. She wasn’t always horrible.

Season 7, episode 1: “Asylum of the Daleks”

tl;dr I like her.

We first meet Clara before we know she’s Clara. She goes by Oswin Oswald and appears to be nothing more than a one-shot supporting character. She’s smart, witty, and has a compelling story line. You can’t help but like her and you can’t help but feel bad for her when you discover that she is actually a Dalek.

Season 7, Christmas episode, “The Snowmen”

tl;dr I like her

Seeing Clara on-screen for the first time is startling because we recognize her as the human-turned-Dalek from “Asylum of the Daleks.” Seeing her interact with the Doctor is sad on a number of levels. The Doctor lost Amy and Rory in the previous episode and has now been traveling alone for quite a while – which is never good for him. Also, he never actually saw Oswin as a human, only as a Dalek; he doesn’t know what she looks like, so he doesn’t recognize her in the streets of 19th century London.

Clara is a part-time waitress and part-time governess who is clever enough to notice that there is something wrong with the snow. She runs into the Doctor who is trying very hard not to get involved in human problems anymore – he’s become jaded. But Clara won’t give up! She is determined that he can help solve the mysterious problem of the snow that can form itself into snowmen.

Clara begins putting things together about the snow and the dead governess frozen in the pond, and she tries to find the Doctor again to ask for help. She encounters some of the Doctor’s friends, who reveal just how much the Doctor has changed since Amy and Rory died – “The Doctor doesn’t help people. Not anyone, not ever.” Clara is able to come up with the one word to lure the Doctor out of his reclusiveness: “Pond.” She’s thinking of the dead-governess-pond, but of course the Doctor thinks Amy Pond.

The Doctor gets involved in human goings-on once again and gloriously saves humanity from the psychic creepy snow. In the process, however, Clara dies saving the Doctor’s life. After her death, the Doctor discovers she is in fact Clara Oswin Oswald and makes the connection to Dalek Oswin.

In this episode, Clara is incredibly good for the Doctor and helps him get out of his post-Pond funk. She’s funny and selfless and intriguing. Way to go, Clara.

 

Time Travel?

If you could time travel to any year, which one would you visit?

I’ll admit it, I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who. What Whovian hasn’t dreamed of the TARDIS appearing and the Doctor grabbing your hand and telling you, “Run!”? All of time and space within your grasp! You can go anywhere, meet anyone, witness anything! Some of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who are when they visit the past and meet historical figures. Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, Shakespeare, Madame de Pompadour, and so, so many more!

The Doctor and Amy Pond running

Made by the wonderful iliaskrzs on Deviantart: http://iliaskrzs.deviantart.com/art/Doctor-Who-RUN-415149178

As fun as traveling with the Doctor would be, the Doctor is fictional. The “historical figures” he visits may have the names of real people from real places, but ultimately, within the confines of the show, they are fictional too. The fictional Doctor travels to fictional places and meets fictional people.

Real life is different.

Real history is full of disease. Real history is full of injustice. Real history is full of… yuck.

I’m not saying the present is perfect. Disease is still a huge problem in a lot of places, injustice still occurs, and life can still generally be yuck.

But.

Vaccines are amazing. So many thousands and thousands of people are alive purely because of vaccines. Beyond vaccines, modern medicine is truly amazing. Sicknesses/ailments we view as “simple” or don’t worry about because we have over-the-counter, cheap medicine for would have been a death sentence in the past. I like not dying of preventable/treatable diseases.

Many people still find themselves suffering from injustice, but that percentage of people has gone down drastically. And for many people, the injustice they face is not as great as the injustices faced in the past. People don’t own people anymore. Women can own property and vote and get jobs (even if they still aren’t paid the same as men) and wear blue jeans. Gay people don’t have to hide who they are.

I don’t want to travel to a time period where I am going to be shamed for wearing shorts and a t-shirt or for not having long hair. I don’t want to travel to a time where I don’t have electricity or antibiotics or indoor plumbing or air conditioning or any of the other wonderous things I take for granted in my daily life. There is no other time in human history I would rather be than right here in 2016.

“Well, what about the future?” you ask.

No. Just no.

I enjoy seeing how the creators of Doctor Who and other sci-fi shows/movies envision the future, I really do. I especially enjoy watching older movies about the future where “the future” is now or has already happened (like Back to the Future II) so I can laugh at how wrong everything is.

But once again, real life is different. Knowing anything that is to happen in the future seems like an incredible burden. No matter what you learn about the future, you can’t tell anyone – they’d never believe you. Beyond that, though, imagine if you knew that in 17 years World War III was going to break out and 30% of the earth’s population was going to die horrendous deaths during it. And there is nothing you can do to prevent it. I do believe I would go insane with knowledge like that.

I don’t believe the future is meant to be known. It’s supposed to be a mystery, supposed to remain hidden until its appointed unveiling. As nice as it would be to know the next mega lotto powerball super jackpot numbers (who couldn’t use some extra flow?), knowing anything at all about the future seems a much larger curse than blessing.

So when would I time travel to? Right now. I like being right now.

Five-Minute-Friday: Expect

It’s time for another not-so-regular Five Minute Friday post! Here we go!

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20 days ago I got married. Wow! Me, the girl with all the issues – I got married!

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We went through premarital counseling and even had a whole session on managing expectations going into marriage. But the reality is you can’t ever actually be prepared for marriage. No matter how much time we spend talking about types of things to expect and not expect, you really don’t know what to expect.

What will living with this man I love be like? Is he grumpy in the mornings? Does he leave stuff all over the place? Does he change his towel frequently?

There is no way to know these things, so it’s hard to set up realistic expectations.

So I did the only thing I could do: I held my expectations loosely. I opened my hands, rather than clinching down on only one way that we could live together happily.

With expectations held loosely, we can adjust to each other so much more easily, with no disappointment.

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Five Minute Friday (on Tuesday): Person

This isn’t an official Five Minute Friday post and I came up with my own word, but I wanted to honor the its spirit: five minutes, no editing, just write. I don’t do enough of any type of writing, but especially the kind where I don’t censor myself.

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One of the hardest concepts for someone to grasp is that other humans are just as much of a person as they are. You are not the only person in the world. We’re all people.

Lately it’s felt like a lot of people have never grasped this concept, at least not people on the internet. That generation you rile against? It’s made up of people. The religious group you seem to hate so much? Also made up of people. The criminal? Still a person. The fast food order who pushed a wrong button and messed up your order? Definitely a person.  The supporter of the other political party? You guessed it, a person.

Coming to a different conclusion on an issue or idea does not remove someone’s personhood. Treating someone with anything less than human dignity is wrong even if you completely disagree on something. You’re a person, they’re a person; treat each other accordingly.

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Apparently I have a lot of thoughts on this issue, so I may write more on this later.

Five Minute Friday: Mornings

I haven’t done a Five Minute Friday post in a long time, but here’s to getting back in the swing of things!

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Mornings are the bane of existence. Those who know me know I don’t talk in the mornings. I have to get up for work a lot earlier than other people because it takes me so long to truly wake up. You want me to be alert and cordial when I walk through the doors at work? Then you’d better let me get up at least an hour and a half before I have to leave the house. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t get up until 10 every morning simply because of how much I dislike mornings.

But at the same time, mornings are my favorite time of day. When I step out of my apartment and turn away from locking the door, I am faced every single morning with the sunrise. I am often stopped in my tracks by the pure beauty painted in the sky for all to see. Such lavish extravagance! Simply there, asking nothing of us, offering awe for anyone who takes the time to stop. Whether the sunrise is deliberately designed by God or is merely a byproduct of the evolutionary process is immaterial; what matters is its faithful beauty, reminding us that beauty can exist even in the worst situations.

I may hate the idea that I am awake at sunrise, but oh! how I love actually seeing it.

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Hold on to Hope. No, Really: Hold on to Hope.

As this year draws to a close, I can’t help but look back and reflect. Friends, it’s been a hard year. Not just for me; so many of my friends and acquaintances have walked through dark times this year. Loved ones passing away, huge life changes, battles with depression, divorce, losing jobs, miscarriages – the list goes on and on. Not to mention all the scary craziness in our nation and around the world.

There are so many words I could use to describe the past year. Fear. Change. Depression. Exhaustion. Yet as I look back the word that floats to the top above all these words is “hope.” Hope makes all the difference.

This goes out to three of my friends in particular, though I believe others may find these words helpful as well. To the one who feels he must be strong; to the one who lost her art; to the one who feels dead inside: Hold on to hope. No, really: hold on to hope. If you have no hope left to hold onto, then chase after it with everything you have.

Hope is the thing with feathers, the thing that gets us through. Hope is what convinces you to pull back the covers one more time, face the world one more time, take one more step. Hope does not let us down, but guides us through without fail. Hope says that even though you are on the floor unable to move, there will be a better day. Hope tells you to put down the revolver. Hope tells you that you. can. make. it. through. One more time: You can make it through.

It gets better. Even if you cannot see it, trust that I can see it. If you have no hope, draw on mine. It gets better. There is so much ahead of you! Life is dark right now and everything hurts, but I am begging you: hold on to hope. I say this not from a place of perfection, but from a place of empathy: I have walked through the darkness and I have found the sun again, even if it’s not perfect.

I want you to know that people care about you. Even if no one else cares, I care about you. Each and every one of you, I care about you and I ache along with you. I will walk with you through this, you do not have to go alone.