Monday, March 30, 2009

Cream Cheese Frosting and Solitude.

Random Fact of the Day: Did you know it’s possible to have to go to the bathroom so bad that you feel the need to gag? Did you know the drive from Schuler’s in GR to Holland, after maybe 4 SIGG bottles of water and 2 cups of coffee throughout the day, can seem like a cross-country trip? Did you know talking on the phone, listen to music loudly while gasping out the lyrics and talking to yourself does not take your mind off of it? Did you know getting off the Holland exit when you feel this way (hallelujah), only to get stuck behind a student driver who brakes on EVERY SINGLE CURVE and drives significantly under the speed limit, can seem like those mirages/visions of lush green and gurgling streams some people see in the desert (a farce)?

Did you know some people put themselves through this agony just for the sake of saving time? Did you know some people call home to make sure 1.) No one is in the bathroom closest to the back door, 2.) The garage door is open and 3.) Rehearse “I’m sorry, Officer, but is there any way you could follow me to my house so we could discuss there, after I use the bathroom” in their mind, in case they get pulled over for going over 45 mph in a 30 mph zone?

Yeah, I know. Who, in their right mind, would ever do that?

Thought of the week (very long...beware):
On solitude: I’ve come to find there are moments in life where you will feel incredibly fragile. Oftentimes, for me, it’s the result of going too fast and making too many plans and being so much “in the zone,” that life whips right on by. I like to do life in a big way and see the world in vibrant colors and create and learn as much as possible about life and others and how people tick. I like to do things quickly – I talk fast and write fast and read fast. And, despite my 5’3 frame, I even walk fast. I like games that move quickly and I’d rather walk up an escalator than ride it.

However, I do need to halt and pause and breathe, more often than I let myself. Big groups of people, while at times will energize me, just as often drain me. Maybe it’s that introverted side of me whispering, “Hey, you need to recharge.” I love being around friends and family and laughing and talking on the phone and meeting up for coffee and planning lunch dates and get-togethers. But sometimes, I need to withdraw and just be alone.

As this past weekend approached, I felt more and more “fragile” if you will, as each day passed. After having just thought earlier in the week, rather smugly, “I don’t remember the last time I cried” came three days in a row that I found tears welling up. Not really over anything in particular. And at first, I just attributed it to PMS and lots of big events happening in the past few weeks. But, it was really the distinct need for some release, for big events and small occurrences. For disappointments and frustrations and heartache and joy. For some things that didn’t deserve tears and some things that did. So, I decided to put my phone on “silent” and stay off the computer, even for email (which I check incessantly and rather obsessively) for the weekend. Instead, I focused on re-centering and re-charging and re-connecting with what matters the most. (Side note: Please don't feel sorry for me - that's not the intention of sharing this particular post. I have a distinct apprehension of sharing too much and being like one of those FB status updaters who shares their entire personal life via News Feed.)

So, Friday at 5:15, I silenced my phone and headed home. Stopped at B&N for a book and an over-priced double chocolate cupcake (because somehow, chocolate helps make the world a little more right). Nothing monumental happened this weekend. I didn’t come to some great, robust epiphany about life or love or journey. But I was reminded about the great importance of reckless, sold-out faith. And reminded of the bigger picture than my small life on the west side of MI.

“Crazy Love: Overwhelmed By A Relentless God” by Francis Chan has been on my list of books to read for a while. But part of me didn’t want to read it, because I knew it would be convicting and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to feel unsettled and certainly didn’t want to feel convicted. Which clearly made this weekend the perfect opportunity to dive in. I’m about ¾ of the way through and it’s been a thought-provoking and at times, very convicting read.

Being alone this weekend, resting and reading and baking and thinking has been very good to my soul. Don’t get me wrong –life has been GOOD – very good. And I love where I am right now and am blessed and happy. Life just got to a crux where I needed to sort through thoughts and frustrations and over-occupations that I’ve either been pushing aside to deal with another day or dwelling on altogether too frequently.

Two thoughts in particular I’m pondering from the book:

"People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress…A person who is obsessed (with Jesus) thinks about heaven frequently. Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them" (excerpted from p. 133 and 142).


"I used to believe in this world there are two kinds of people: natural worriers and naturally joyful people. I couldn’t really help it that I was the worrying kind. I’m a problem solver, so I have to focus on things that need fixing…But then there’s that perplexing command: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil. 4:4).” You’ll notice it doesn’t end with “…unless you’re doing something extremely important.” No, it’s a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, “Do not be anxious about anything” (v.6)…When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words, I have the “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my problems…To be brutally honest, it doesn’t really matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring Him glory. The point of your life is to point to Him" (excerpted from p. 41 and 44).

If you haven’t read this book, I’d encourage it. If you have, I’d love to discuss.

All in all, I feel a little more whole coming into this week. Being in the quiet, wrapped up in a down blanket and only wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt (I know I always talk about sweatpants, but seriously, they are an amazing, brilliant piece of apparel), getting away from the noise and hustle and bustle of life has been a gift. My sister/wombmate and I watched Grease, because I’ve gotten so many appalled reactions that I haven’t seen this classic and I took a nap and went on a great, albeit LONG run.

Side note on my run: Sometimes you just have to laugh. So, I’m approaching mile seven and almost home and really proud of myself and thinking about how I should be an Olympic athlete or something. However, I’m also exhausted and my legs feel like lead as I’m trying to sprint the tail-end. Then, this girl comes bounding down the road, in a really great, professional-looking zip-up and running tights and this perfect, flowing, wavy blond ponytail and she’s SMILING while running and basically is probably a model for Crest because her teeth are so white and straight. She’s full-out grinning, actually.

And there I trot past her, my face is BRIGHT red from the stinging wind and bangs are flopping over the headband I got from a ten-pack at Walmart or something and I am not smiling or wearing a zip-up. I’m wearing an old, long-sleeved cheer t-shirt and cropped pants and the exposed parts of my legs are numb and look frost-bitten. And I announced my experience at the dinner table and my parents said she was probably only running a half mile or something. It did make me feel better, although she is probably a marathon runner. I’ll probably see her in the London 2012 Olympics.

Anyway…it was a full weekend. I’m sorry I always go on tangents. I don’t ever see it coming. It just kind of happens. And you think I’d take advantage of the delete key, but alas, I do not (hence the “Random Fact of the Day” that may be TMI…and this very, very long post.)

Some people have mentioned they’re unable to comment on the blog posts. I’m not sure why, so if anyone has a suggestion on how to fix this, let me know. Otherwise you can just email (, Tweet (nicoleprince) or call with your comments (but I’m not putting down my number, since this is the World Wide Web and all).

Thanks for reading. I have no idea who reads this and sometimes I think it's just my best friend’s mom, a devoted high school friend and maybe a friend or two from work. But that's okay. I have decided to start writing twice a week though, since these posts are a little too long for my liking.

And here’s a shout-out to my dear friend, Julie, who’s like family to me, and who I know reads this: Julie, I wish you the absolute best year yet (21!) and lots of chocolate and reasons to laugh and dance and listen to crazy songs with our names in them (or not…). Happy birthday (a day past, once I actually post this)!

And Now I Leave You With a Rhyme:
I made cupcakes – a favorite treat/The frosting I made, it was so neat/So great, in fact, I almost swooned/So, as a gift, instead of a spoon/I leave you with the recipe/And now, you too, can be filled with glee.

Recipe for the BEST Cream Cheese Frosting I’ve Ever Tasted – Step Aside Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines (courtesy of the Food Network, although I came up with the title):

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 block cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese. Beat in powdered sugar slowly. Add vanilla. Eat with a spoon and swoon. It will raise your day from a 6 to a 10 (on a ten point scale) immediately.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On races and cozy and autumn.

Random fact of the day: I'll let you in on a little-known fact: Summer is not my favorite season. Autumn is the winner. I know it's weird, because everyone loves summer. People in Michigan are usually aghast when they find out I don't have the same love affair with summer as they do.

And I've concluded it's not my season of choice because of three things: 1.) I am abnormally allergic to mosquitoes. I must have extra-sweet blood or something (which rules out any hope that I may be a vampire), because those buzzing insects attack me the minute I step outside. And the bites are usually the size of a donut hole or something (very slight exaggeration). OFF does not really help. Neither does Skin-So-Soft. Neither does running around in circles, flailing my arms, screaming, "Get away from me, you horrid creatures of sin." Believe me, I've tried everything. 2.) I secretly HATE laying out. I can only do it for 8-12 minutes because I get very, very bored. And then I start thinking about skin cancer and wrinkles and the fact I could be eating ice cream right now, instead of laying on a sandy towel, sweating and squinting at the pages of my magazine that are reflecting the sunlight like a mirror and giving me a headache. And it makes me very sad and hot. 3.) Humidity. That's all. Humidity is a fact of summer, and I don't like it.

HOWEVER, before you get all riled up, I do LOVE three things about summer as well, which makes this whole paragraph balanced and therefore, neutral: 1.) I love ice cream on summer nights. It's my favorite food (probably because I worked in the business for 7 years and ate it at least twice a day, every day of the summer. You should visit here: You may see my picture. And please don't knock the hat). Nothing quite tops a sundae and a sunset. 2.) Bonfires are one of my favorite social gatherings. They work best in the summer, especially with s'mores and doughboys (if you don't know what these are, you must try them. They are possibly what manna tasted like). I love the smell of burning wood. Odd for a girl who cried every Fourth of July because of a deathly fear of sparklers and fireworks. 3.) Apparel. Who isn't a sucker for a sundress and sandals? Beats a wool skirt and boots and tights any day. Whoever invented tights was clearly not a woman or hated to be comfortable. Oh...and, it's your lucky day. I thought of a fourth reason: 4.) Even though I don't like laying out, I do love being on a jet-ski or in a boat or on a tube. Life feels so much zestier on the lake.

Welcome back, summer, the silver medal winner! How I've missed certain parts of you.

Gratitudes of the day: Just bought more "Dark Chocolate Dreams" peanut butter. No, I didn't just go through one jar in three weeks at my desk, using a fork. Why would you ever think that?/Went to Meijer and saw five people I knew. This usually bothers me and I vent in my head about Holland's smallness. But tonight, it made me happy because they were all people I like a lot and one person I needed to call tonight anyway, so it saved me some time./Grateful I'm in my room with candles burning. My stress level was a little high today for various reasons and being alone, with some candles and silence, dressed in sweatpants, makes me feel a lot more sane.

Thoughts to ponder: This week has been busy, so as usual, my brain has been in a constant state of thinking and analyzing. Here it goes -

On running: Saturday marked an important occasion in my life - I ran my first race and thus, am well on my way to London 2012 (uhhh...the Olympic, obviously). Just kidding. However, I discovered that I love running in races, probably because I haven't been feeding that competitive side of me lately. (Wait, me, competitive? I never knew.) It was interesting how competitive I got in my head during the race. Here's a look into my thought pattern while running (er, sprinting) the 5k:

"WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE PASSING ME??? Whatever, they all ran in college. I'm just a novice. An eight-year-old girl is passing me. Oh no, you are not passing me, sweetheart (run past the elementary school girl). Ha! Down one, 18,000 to go. How is the lady with the electric blue earmuffs going so dang fast? Man, I gotta turn up my iPod. Maybe some Miley will help me out (no knocks on my workout mix, please). Maybe chewing my gum harder will help. I'm glad I'm wearing Sara's marathon jacket. Definitely makes me look like a seasoned pro. I can't wait for some coffee. I wonder what I look like while I'm running?..." All in all, it was a success and I'm looking forward to the next race, relatively speaking.

On joy: As referenced in my last post, the past year has been a time of some major ups and downs, questions and searching. August - January were probably the most frustrating, difficult months I'd encountered in a while, and I certainly let everyone who came into my path know it (thank you to all my friends and family for the extra grace). That being said, over the past year, my prayer has been simply for joy. Because joy is exactly the opposite of what I was feeling. And I didn't feel joyful or pretend to be joyful. And actually, people who were joyful grated on my nerves and I tried to avoid them.

After I finally unclenched the iron grip I had on my future this winter, I felt 700 pounds physically rolling off my shoulder. And true joy ensued. I know it sounds very cookie-cutter and "easy" and what everyone says when they just listen to God's still, small voice. But it was really my experience. An absolutely phenomenal shift.

Before, I was just "getting through" the day. Nothing seemed monumental - just very blah. Kind of like warm, flat Diet Coke on a hot summer's day (now that we all know my thoughts on summer). You drink it because you're thirsty and there's nothing else around, but there's nothing fulfilling about it, and it leaves your teeth a little bit on edge and you kind of want to start using Crest Whitening Strips or brush your teeth for an hour. And now, for the first time in a very long while (maybe ever), I'm taking one day at a time and savoring each one. I feel lighter. I'm laughing a lot more. And, there's a deep peace and quiet joy that's settled in my soul. Everything's not peachy and dreamy and carbonated - that would be a misrepresentation - but everything is loaded with possibility. I feel like I'm resting exactly where I'm supposed to be. And I'm happy - very happy - to be where I am.

On cozy: Random, I know. But, I just read an article in a home decorating magazine a week ago that posed the question, "What does cozy mean to you?" My favorite answer was one about blankets and ice cream and watching American Idol. Because that's most similar to what I would say. But, if I had to answer that question, I would say the following (as my eye is twitching...a sign of stress or a potassium deficiency. Should have bought some bananas at Meijer):

"Cozy means wearing sweatpants and a worn-in zip-up with slipper socks. It's lying on your bed with your eyes closed, listening to the best songs, with the scent of a hazelnut candle wafting through the air and rain drumming against the window. It's your hair in a ponytail and your bangs off your forehead and no make-up and chapstick on hand. It's drifting in and out of sleep with nowhere to go. It's warm donuts and crisp air and down comforters and fireplaces and well-loved movies." Ahhh.

And now, a poem:
The wind is blowing against my window/I'll have to wear some earplugs to bed, I know now/Glad for a very full day and laughs a'plenty/Happy birthday to my bro - today he's twenty!/Tuesday - a day full of mystery and time/Maybe tomorrow will bring another rhyme.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunshine, Downy and Journals.

Random fact of the day: My first memory is when I was under a year old. The only person who believes me is my twin sister - my wombmate. Why does she believe me? Well, not only are we genetically similar...that's HER FIRST MEMORY, TOO. We were eight or nine months old and squished together in a leather chair. She remembers wondering what the black box in front of my mom's face was (a gigantic camera...pre-digital days) and I remember thinking I had no room to move and was getting a teensy bit annoyed by my lack of space. I'm (we) are not kidding. I was practically sitting on top of my tiny sister (who almost half my size at birth) and I have a triple chin because I couldn't really push myself up yet. There's a picture to prove it. I will show it to you, if you ask.

Gratitude of the day: Like most other Michiganders would say today, the SUNSHINE, accompanied by the warm weather. That fresh smell in the air (which Downy has almost nailed down - they're genius) makes me breathe a little deeper and spreads some calm through my bones. I don't know about you, but I'll take this over gray skies, subzero temperatures and brown slush any day. Odd, I know. How I love the sting of the cold and the gagging feeling you get when it's so frigid and windy that you can't breathe. I live for that, really.

Thoughts to ponder: This past weekend, I spent a solid five hours cleaning out my room, which has been in some state of disarray for what seems like the past year. Or since 1997. So, in between sorting through piles of receipts and bobby pins and college papers and birthday cards and Velcro rollers and some old school CDs (a la Britney, Spice Girls and Point of Grace), I came across some journal entries I had to write for an English class in high school.

First of all, I immediately felt sympathetic for the teacher who had to read these entries because one whole entry included just this:

I have been sooo delinquent on writing in my journal! I am really sorry - I am really going to write in it. I decided to use a diff. journal, bc I really didn't like my other one. I have entries in there, so if you do want to see them you may. But I do need to be faithful in writing in this!

Would it have killed me to write out "because" and "different" and expand on just one thought? Anything would have worked: the weather, Godric, current events. Apparently, I wasn't down with that.

Instead, I spent the next ELEVEN pages detailing exactly how I was asked to prom ( I think I documented every single word. Every breath, actually). And the following two pages detailed a spring break trip to Florida. Oh wait. But those two pages only described the flight connection problems we had. Not the actual trip itself.

Really brilliant work. Did I mention this was for an AP English class? It was in fourth grade. Just kidding. I have to be honest: it was my SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL. Now I'm embarrassed. Somehow I still did well in the class. Obviously the journals did not account for a large percentage of the grade.

However, what stuck with me about those journal entries was one section where I went back and forth about my college decision. Throughout it, I wrote about the pressure I felt, as a "people pleaser," to choose accordingly. And I wasn't sure where I was supposed to go, but my heart was torn and my stress level was evident throughout.

Fast-forward a year later. Some friends of mine and I started reading "If You Want to Walk On Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat," by John Ortberg, for a small group. Throughout it, I constantly wrote about all these decision I had to make - changing my major, contemplating taking time off to do YWAM, unsettledness about where to turn and what choices to make.

Over the following year, several of those decisions were made, and I moved forward. Changed my major seven (yes, seven) times. Moved to Guatemala. Changed my major back to nursing when I returned. Apparently changed it again, because I'm not a nurse now (largely due to the fact I thought I might pass out during an ER commercial. Come to think about it, I DID pass out in shadowing a nurse in eighth grade. I should have probably taken that as a warning sign).

Well, last week, I started re-reading the book. And, it struck me that there seems to be a pattern going on here. Because now, six years later, I'm making just as many or even more decisions as before and while they seem insurmountable and intimidating and life-changing at the moment, really, they are just a step along the pathway of life.

This past year, my thoughts have been full of: "I'm a Communication and Spanish major. Oh no. What in the world am I going to do? I know, I'll move to Chicago. I love big cities. AND, I LOVED PHILLY. I'm sure Chicago will be a great fit. Plus, it's more central. Wait, do I move? I DON'T KNOW! No. YES. I NEED TO LEAVE WEST MICHIGAN. NO! YES-I'm signing a lease. HA! Signed it (but felt sick while signing it...almost like I wasn't supposed to sign it...). OH NO, I HAVE AN APARTMENT IN CHICAGO. I'm so glad we're in a recession right now and Michigan has the highest unemployment rate. What do I do about this apartment? AHHHHHHH."

Okay. Sorry if that was stressful. But, that's really what my mind was like for a solid few months. And suddenly (or slowly...depends how you look at it), after some honest counsel from friends and family, some real soul-searching and the painful admission that maybe I wasn't right, I realized, once again, that everything is not in my control. And the moment I acknowledged that, I could breathe again. And my thoughts were not all in caps. Just looking at that paragraph kind of makes me stressed and I'm very glad I am not there anymore.

All that to say, in the past month, I've entered into a spot where it's okay to back away. It's okay to make the wrong decisions, because I've learned from them. And it's okay to not have my whole life together, because honestly, I'm learning a lot more now than when I was trying to make all kinds of decisions and plan out every millisecond of my existence. So, I'm grateful to be where I am. And grateful for the person I was six years ago and the person I'm becoming.

And now...

A rhyme for the day: It's been such a great day today/The birds and people could run and play/I ate a hamburger and it was real tasty/Snow, on your return, let's not be hasty/If I could choose anything to eat/I would choose ice cream, my favorite treat.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Introduction: Hello.

Okay, as promised, I'm actually doing it. I'm writing a blog.

There are several reasons behind it.

First and foremost, despite the fact that it's mid-March 2009, I usually still write "2008" on my checks, and even the occasional "2007." Even though I'm 23, lately, I've had to awkwardly pause, furrow my brow, and say, "Twenty-tree" when asked my age. Because I usually think I'm still twenty-two (hence the loss of an "h" in "tree"), and in a few months, it's going to be a lot harder to merge "two" and "four" together. Think about it: "twenty-twour" is much harder to disguise. And I don't even want to think about what twenty-five could sound like. So, like my header states, "time waits for no one." And, I'm hopeful that this will help ground me more in the present, instead of the past or the future or my to-do lists.

Secondly, I need some kind of outlet. Since I started running again in January, I have an insane amount of energy, which is nice (to some degree).

However, it's all relative, because right now I survive on 5-6 hours of sleep and a lot of coffee. And, with this new found energy, comes the fact that my brain and my mouth are both working in overdrive. (I'm trying to discern if all this energy is really new energy reserves or simply a constant caffeine kick.) So, I need an inanimate outlet to process some of my musings, instead of using the poor UPS worker, who just wanted to go home the other day, as my sound post:

There I came, waltzing into the post office one night, and proceeded to explain how "AHHHHHH...I have to go back to my car to get the packaging tape I just bought from Meijer. And how I was really sorry, but that had been happening all day - it all started when I locked my keys in the car that morning. Oh my gosh, I just need some sleep! And, where WAS my brain, seriously? Oh, could I expedite the purse I was sending to Seattle? It's a traveling purse I have with my high school friends and I was late in sending it out - oh, how much more was that? Okay, well, how about the purse, but not the book? Wait, what time do you close...?"

You get the picture (note: I'm not normally that spastic - that was a particularly crazy week).

Lastly, in the past couple of years, people have told me to write down the stories I tell. I've been told multiple times that my life is like a sitcom and/or comedy. The truth is, my life is pretty quote-on-quote "regular." Nothing too crazy happens to me. But, I find joy in sharing life and conversation and laughter with others. And, to be honest, sometimes I do find myself in the midst of strange/embarrassing/awkward situations, and I just have to share the love with others. Might as well laugh about it, because what else are you going to do? Sit in your room and eat a pint of cookie dough ice cream with a blanket over your head and hide under a fedora when you venture out in public? (Tempting, now that I think about it...and I do have a really great fedora.)

Truth be told, I secretly think people find my stories to be unique or interesting due to the presentation. It's about the facials and the vocal inflection and the side comments inserted throughout. Sometimes I do dramatic reenactments of emails to my friends. Really, you could make anything humorous. "Yesterday, I had lunch with an old work friend and met up with someone else at a coffee shop. Then, I took a two hour nap" could be hilarious with a couple of winks, dramatic pauses, major inflection, a side comment and some eye popping. You should try it. It's genius.

So, here we are, March 15th, 2009. My first official, standard blog post will be up in the next 24 hours. No, this was not it. This was the introduction - note the title. Try to hold out that long. I know it'll be difficult. If you're having a hard time waiting, kill some time by making a standard email or voicemail really funny and then act it out for someone, in full costume. It'll be entertaining, I promise.

'Til next time,