Cooking Insecurities

Quondam: former; onetime

I used to HATE cooking.

Whenever someone asked me what my least favorite thing was to do, “cooking” was always my prompt reply. Surveys requiring responses for disliked hobbies? Oh, easy. Cooking.  Young men would ask how I would plan on taking care of my future man in culinary ways; I told them to mind their own lives, and I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.cooking-knife-vegetables-meats-cutting boards

Growing up, I was a perfectionist. I liked things to be done a certain way, and I didn’t like to look bad. (Who am I kidding? I still don’t!) Because of these silly fears, I chose not to try out multiple things in fear of failing and being “found out.”

Additionally, I was a homeschooled child. Unlike many of my friends who were one of 5 or 8 or 10 children, I was one of 3. I was four years old when my baby brother was born, so I didn’t have to grow up babysitting or taking on household management to help my mom out. We were all babies.

I watched with envy when my friends could cook up a find tasting meal, change a babies’ diaper, or wrangle kids effectively. Babies would cry the instant I touched them, and I really didn’t know how to cook. Thank God I loved (still do) cleaning though. At least I wouldn’t be a complete lump on a log who just ate and did nothing to contribute.

From those moments on, a soul with mounted insecurity swore to never have children or never cook. It was easy to hide behind my fears and make pseudo-promises to myself. I didn’t have littles in my life, and mom did all the cooking. (Or the nights she was in no mood to whip up a meal, trusty old chips & salsa/cheese & crackers quieted my hunger pangs!)

As time passed, I began digging into the “whys” of my avowed statements. It wasn’t the fact I merely thought cooking took forever, and I was too lazy so no bueno. I realized it was my self-imposed limitations and prides/fears that inhibited me from living out these enriching tasks, namely cooking.

To take a load off her plate, my mom asked me to start cooking several months ago. I initially balked at the request, but since I’m not a terrible daughter and for the sake of her task load, I started. At first, I hated it. But over time, I realized that enjoyment started creeping into my mindset. I actually started looking forward to the process and cooking for loved ones.
Now, I welcome mom’s feedback and corrections. I find joy in the experimentation and the verbalized “yummy!” from my family or friends. It’s no longer about how I look but how I can serve my loved ones. And quite frankly, what does “perfect” look like anyway?

~Lina Marie

Will You Grow or Stay Fixed?

Kibosh: put an end to; dispose of decisively

“Lina, you HAVE to read this book. It totally changed my life!”

I was sitting in a friend’s apartment across the street from Howard University listening to her voice frustrations about internal struggles, grueling hours, and glaring shortcomings. Medical school was being a beast and in encouragement, shared a book about the growth vs. fixed mindset I needed to put on my reading list that helped her through her time.

Shortly after returning home, I requested Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck from our local library. The premise of the book compares the growth vs. fixed mindset and why brilliance and abilities are often overstated/overvalued whereas hard work and humility are better indicators of success.

Growing up, school was relatively easy. I enjoyed getting good grades, turning assignments in on time, and learning. I often attributed my success to my “smartness” rather than hard work (which I did lot of), because my intelligence was often the aspect praised, so I began to believe that was the source of my positive outcomes. However, this only supported my perfectionism, so I hardly took risks. Staying in the realm of what I knew prevented me from experimenting and, heaven forbid, making mistakes. I could NOT seem dumb, unknowledgable, or average. And from this sprang my tendency to not contribute dissenting or differing opinions, so my reasoning couldn’t be shredded IMG_20170605_184043apart. Fear is all it was.

Anyway, I start reading Dr. Dweck’s book and saw my old self. Worried about how others viewed me. Risk averse. Lounging in my comfort zone. CEOs, musicians, athletes, and others from all walks of life have never reached their full capacities, ruined companies, and estranged teammates because of the fixed mindset. This is a tragedy.

Today I choose to let go of the fear of making mistakes, looking silly, and not taking risks. Who knows the experiences we miss out on because of our own pride and ego protecting. Life is a work in progress, and it’s through making mistakes, reaching out, and stewarding what we have now that’ll lead to great and unexpected outcomes. We’re not promised comfort and ease. How we react to what’s thrown at us will make all the difference.

~Lina Marie

realIf you are interested in reading Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, check it out on Amazon here! https://www.amazon.com/Mindset-Psychology-Carol-S-Dweck/dp/0345472322/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496706431&sr=8-1&keywords=mindset+the+new+psychology+of+success+by+carol+dweck

First Ski Trip

Indelible: not able to be forgotten or removed

The upside of having a part-time job with hours that differ each week is that you can go on adventures in the middle of the week when many others are confined to their desks or in school.

I road tripped up to Maggie Valley, NC with some friends to ski; it was my very first time and I was thrilled! The weather was chilly but temperate and the ski slope was the only area covered in white. Everywhere else was green or soggy with melted snow. It was not the best conditions for skiing but had its own charm and novelty.

The guy who drove us to North Carolina thought ski poles weren’t necessary (or cumbersome or something), so I learned without them. With a few short instructions and a”you’ll be fine”, I jumped on the lift with anticipation and watched as the distance between me and the ground widened and the people below loski-trip-for-blogoked small.

I finally got to the top and my heart was pounding. I jumped off and veered in a wide circle and stopped. (Yeah, this was going to take some getting used to.) I was glad I didn’t fall yet, but visions of wipe-outs and yard sales quivered my resolve.

Too late. Already up here.

I will-powered my way to the edge, feigning confidence, and slid faster and faster down the slope. Naturally, I didn’t have much experience controlling my skis and shifting my weight, so I was all nerves and “whatever happens will happen.” With the wind whipping my face, my eyes widened as I neared the bottom and I literally thought I would tumble down that hill and maybe get seriously injured. Or die.

Miracle of all miracles, I found myself in one piece and stopped at the bottom. With breathless delight and a release of tension, I penguin-walked to the lift once again. After a few more times skiing down the smaller hill, I went up to the steeper slope to conquer new levels of fear. I barely slid down the mountain when I was already on the ground and clenching my face in annoyance. (Whatever bits of pride you may possess will completely dissolve when you look like a two-year swaddled in Eskimo clothes on the ground and don’t know how to get up.) I was assisted but for some reason couldn’t control my speed at the level I desired.

I went back up on the ski lift with a nine-year-old little girl friend who gabbed in a chipper tone about how great it was for us to conquer our fears through Jesus Christ, and that after this we could conquer other fears (namely roller coasters) and how grateful she was to hang out. (Tears? PSH! No tears in my eyes. Only the wind coincidentally evoking some liquid from my eyes.) I fell down that hill so many times and my skis fell off FOUR TIMES, but she stayed with me the whole way down and I was overwhelmed by the kindness and encouragement of a girl twelve years my junior.

Even though the snow melted into slush and re-hardened into ice, even though I fell too many times to count (both accidentally and on purpose), even though my muscles felt like jello, even though one of my ski boots hit my leg the wrong way causing soreness, even though my best friend had only skied twice and didn’t fall at all and looked flawless, my heart was full and I was the most happy tired I had been in awhile.

~Lina Marie

Lessons Learned – Rollins Pt. 1

A little over three weeks ago, my contract with my job abruptly ended. This change wasn’t unexpected as a few factors indicated my time there was about to come to a close though  change always take us by surprise to a certain degree. I learned quite a few corporate and life lessons, broken into two posts, that I would like to share with you all.

  1. Communicate: This seems like an obvious thread that must be woven into every relationship and job, but I learned the importance of communication on a whole new level. Whether I was working on a project and wanted to put questions to rest with updates or needed to leave early due to an unexpected happenstance and my boss wasn’t in the room, letting someone know what’s going on cultivates trust and assurance.
  2. Clarify, Don’t Assume: Instructions, due dates, and expectations can sometimes be vague. It’s up to you to clearly understand what needs to be completed. Or else things will have to be reworked and end up taking longer in the long run. I recall an instance in which I was to add additional locations to a spreadsheet of call center agents in California. I meticulously worked through the list only to be told later I added too many and had to go back and remove unnecessary locations. What a waste of time!
  3. Make Mistakes: It isn’t pleasant having someone reprimand you for a blunder, but you end up remembering for next time and can more thoroughly learn how to accomplish something. Sometimes, I would experiment and make errors on purpose to see how a process worked and why it couldn’t be done certain ways. No one is perfect and when an action is a big deal and negatively affects others, having a teachable spirit makes the learning curve so much easier!
  4. Don’t Take Things Personally: At the very beginning of each month was Month End Close which basically meant each branch closed their books, ensured certain reports were in, etc. Our trainers, for the new documentation system, would be at the branches to be converted to the new system, hence I’d be gDSC_7614iven a list of the trainers beforehand and what branches to add them to. I hardly missed a trainer or their respective location. One go round, I received an email from the training manager about a few trainers who weren’t added properly; she came on aggressively and highly annoyed. Instead of reacting defensively, I went back to the list to double check the list that was provided for me to find that the three names highlighted weren’t even on the original list! I realized the manager was probably stressed, overworked, and overwhelmed, so I calmly stated my case and she apologized. Misunderstandings and emotions are part of the human experience. People will accuse you of things that may be grounded in partial truth, but as long as you have your tracks covered don’t worry about it.
  5. Be Assertive and Proactive: Being kind, engaging, and agreeable has its place, but sometimes you have to firmly make decisions and set boundaries about your workload and you’re willing to do. Employers like to see genuine initiative and self-growth and development. When you do so, you make clear you’re willing to work but you value your time and yourself.
  6. Learn to Deal with All Types of People: I could entertain you with a long tale about drawn out interpersonal conflict with one colleague in particular and the emotional turmoil it caused me. However, I’ll just leave you with this. People are different, emotional, impassioned creatures that will get under your last nerve and try your patience big time, but they’ll only help to grow your character, endurance, compassion, understanding, and grace. There were many times I drove home in tears from sheer exhaustion and frustration with the situation. However, in hindsight, I was grateful for the emotional skin I built. It’ll only make you stronger and take you further.

~Lina Marie

Quitting an Outworn Dream

Surcease: to cease from some action; to come to an end

“If you don’t know why you are going to college and are just there for the experience, quit. Get a real job and figure out what you like to do.”

~Nicholas (contributor to 20 Things We’d Tell our Twentysomething Selves by Kelli and Peter Worrall)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been that girl who adored school. It reflected in my grades, work ethic, and diligence. Many times I’d sit and dream about what it would be like to attend a prestigious university situated on a pristine, picturesque campus (England maybe?). Admittedly idealized, I’d think about my fellow students who’d be as eager, intelligent, and engaging as I am. We’d all learn, grow, and pursue the privilege and joy of higher education whilst sipping lattes at our campus cafe discussing a science project or typing away on our laptops producing an English assignment not even due until two weeks later (shush, don’t laugh).

In the twelfth grade, I dual enrolled with this fantastic college coaching program called CollegePlus (now Lumerit Education). A Bachelor’s in two years, for only several thousand dollars, taking courses at my pace on my own time, with the benefit of a coach for guidance, accountability, and prayer? Whaaat?

It really was all that and a bag of chips.

I enjoyed my coach and learned to appreciate accountability, openness, and planning. Around the same time she was going to quit teaching due to her first pregnancy, I was thinking about discontinuing momentarily, because of an internship program I was accepted into. I tried juggling the two, but quickly found the feat to be quite difficult (and exhausting). CollegePlus was placed on the back burner for a solid year.

During my internship as a Project Manager at General Electric Energy Management, my boss inquired about my college plans; she spiritedly (and strongly) encouraged that I enroll somewhere, especially somewhere cheaper where I could knock out my cores before moving on to the fun stuff. A year prior I was pursuing HR Management, but after my boss encouraged me to look into Communications programs and then explaining why, I understand her initial implication that I should switch majors. It’s pretty neat when someone directly tells you what to choose because of what they see in you. At this point, I was only toying with the idea of starting school back up. However, her promptings compelled me to truly begin again.

Off I was, registering for school and happy CollegePlus saved my information and previous credits. I had a new coach who I knew God meant for me to have, because she greatly stretched my comfort zone and old ways. She asked pointed questions, kept me accountable, and encouraged me to have an overall vision for direction. I did find difficulty in balancing a full-time job in Atlanta and acquiring college credits simultaneously, but when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Other than College Algebra, which completely beat up my soul, everything else was fairly enjoyable. However, a few months into college, I found myself reeking with discontent and frustration which expressed itself in murmurs and exhaustion. At first I couldn’t nail down what it was (other than my sinful ole nature).

“Should I…*looks around to make sure no mind readers are intensely DSCN0893scrutinizing me*…quit school?” PSH, preposterous! I already discontinued once and didn’t want to be that person who didn’t finish what she started, especially on the second round.

But the thought wouldn’t stop bugging me.

One day, I sat down and asked myself why I was even in school. What was my motivation? What was I striving toward? What would I use my degree for? A startling realization hit me: I didn’t know. I realized my former boss was a huge influence, and I felt urged rather than self-motivated. (Though I’m grateful for her encouragement and investment!) I still felt unsure.

One afternoon with my ears plugged with music and my hands performing a repetitive task at work, my mind had free rein to seriously entertain the possibility of quitting school and think about what I could do with that free time. And I didn’t want to do anything specialized (doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc.), so why? The more I thought, the faster my brain ran, and I felt this invisible load lift from my shoulders. I can’t even describe the lightness of my heart and excitement I felt in that moment.

In short order, I composed an email to my grandfather (aka college patron) and college coach explaining about my final decision. I could hardly wait to rest and come home to open possibilities and not deadlines and study books! Even my coach noted the excitement in my voice on our last coaching call (though I’d definitely miss her). I felt 100% convinced and peaceful about this decision after much deliberation, prayer, and counsel.

Even with welcome transitions come feelings of uncertainty and oddness about novelty and change. I had a moment where I sobbed, my face buried in my pillow, because of the motley of random sentiments. It’s been several weeks since I’ve discontinued school and feel thoroughly rested, but it’s time to pursue a new endeavor. It’s easy to stay complacent and waste time when you get comfortable, but God has created me to be and do so much more than that. For it’s not in ease we grow, but in times of discomfort, pain, and uncertainty.

Understandably, college is placed on a high pedestal in our society. We hear the arguments, facts, and statistics about greater overall earnings and marketability to employers. However, I believe we all have our life paths and there are different ways of doing things, so I’m not at the point that I’m concerned about people’s opinions about my “lack of education” or not doing the normal thing. I believe life is too short to be normal. I’d like to do what fills my soul with joy, gives glory to God, utilizes my interests and gifts, and serves others even if that doesn’t include school. I may go back one day, but right now, I don’t think so. That dream no longer dwells in my heart.

I’ll let the story read on.

~Lina Marie

realFor those of you interested in CollegePlus, here is the link. It’s a fantastic, economical, enriching college route! I would highly recommend this to those self-motivated and disciplined, eager for a way to acquire college credits and a degree faster, cheaper, and better than the traditional way. Check it out: https://collegeplus.org/