The Great Unknown of 2017

Change is scary.  Change is uncertain.   Fear of change is what keeps us clinging to past mistakes and bad habits simply because they are familiar.  Fears paralyzes us to stay where we are at, instead of moving forward into the unknown.  Because it is the unknown and not change that we are truly afraid of.  Change is only the vessel with which we are forced to face the unknown.  The unknown is this place where we fill inadequate and unprepared, and maybe worst of all – powerless to control our own destiny.

So we stay.  We avoid the unknown, because here may not be great, but at least we know what to expect.  Here we are prepared; we are in control.  Here is comfortable; it is safe.

I don’t think we ever truly conquer our fears.  I don’t think  we are suppose to.  Fear is there for a reason, and it isn’t going to go away.  No, we will never truly conquer fear, but we can become more comfortable with it.  We can learn to embrace it instead of run from it.  We can learn to stop letting our fear get in the way of our own happiness.

In the last five years, I have done many things that I would have never believed myself capable of.  I was certain that there was no way that I could do something that bold or that brave.  But I did.  I was scared at every step, but I slowly started to learn that maybe I had no idea my limits of what I could do.

My great unknowns still scare me.  However, I am learning that my great unknowns hold some of the best experiences of my life.  They are just waiting there, waiting for me to have the courage to reach out and live them.

The last year has been pretty comfortable for me.  That isn’t too say that it wasn’t hard, simply that I felt the most settled I have ever felt in life.  But I can’t stay here.  I was not made to stay here.  2016 is gone, and 2017 is likely to look much different.  2017 involves me quitting my job, putting a couple more stamps on my passport, and starting law school.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was scared.  That is my great unknown, and it is daunting.  I am not going to run from that fear.  I am going to embrace it, and pull myself closer to being the person I want to be.

Whatever your 2017 holds, whatever your great unknown is,  I hope you embrace it.  I hope you learn that you are strong, capable, and brave.  I hope you have moments in which you find yourself pulling closer to the person you know yourself to be.  I hope you learn that your limits are far wider than you ever thought they could be.

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.”

“We can’t, we MUST not loose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

– The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

lori

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

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Life in the Slow Lane

I have always been fast.  Ever since I could walk, I started running and I didn’t stop.  It’s just in my blood.  I want to go, I want to move.  I never saw this a problem until recently.  Life has turned into a blur.  I can barely separate the days out from the last year.  Christmas has come and gone months ago.  Now spring is here begging for my attention.

How did this happen without my notice?  I thought this was just something that happened when you get older.  When you no longer have a school calendar to break up your time, everything kind of runs together.  I started to get nervous.  I am only 24.  Am I going to blink and wake up 50?  Life was moving too fast, and I was letting it.   Where am I in such a rush to get?  Certainly not my death, so where?  Where am I going that is going to be so much better than where I am?

Something was wrong, something needed to change.

I woke up, another Monday morning, another week laid out in front of me.  All mornings are tough, but Monday mornings are notoriously tough.  I woke up this morning thinking of all the things I would have to survive this week before the sweet beautiful weekend arrived once again.  You are probably reading this thinking, “I feel ya sista” without a second thought as to how backwards this way of thinking is.   Since when did life become something we need to survive?

It is hard to just be.  There is so much uncertainty that surrounds us.  We begin to notice all the things we tried so hard to hide with our busy schedules.  We notice how lost we feel.  We notice how hard life has been.  When we stop we give ourselves a chance to listen to the small guiding voice.

We get gentle.

We take a moment to breathe.

To process.

To hit pause on a life that never seems to stop moving.

I went on a hike a couple of days ago.  It was beautiful.  Spring was emerging.  Green grass breaking through cold melting snow.  I was eager to blaze the trails and get to my destination.  But I didn’t.  I went slow.  I took my time.  I soaked in the nature and let it effect me in the way that only nature can.  Winter melting into spring, just as the seasons of my life are melting into each other.  New life coming from what was once barren and ugly.

I took a moment to listen to what I had been to busy to hear.

My journey has taken me far and wide.  The last year alone has been filed with devastating disappointment and overwhelming joy.  I have broken and I have rebuilt.  I became both malleable and resilient.  And slowly I started to turn into the person I never thought I would be brave enough to be.  How could I not be grateful of a journey that has brought me so far and taught me so much?

I have been so focused on where I am going that I have completely lost sight of where I am right now.  I have being living my life like the destination is the point.  It’s not.  It’s the journey.   It’s about finding the person we never believed we would be brave enough to be.

Life isn’t just about the big moments that take our breath away.  It is also about the small moments, the forgotten moments.  It is about taking our time to get where we are going.  It is about life that is sweet and slow, not a life that is rushed through.  It’s about taking the time to ponder where we have been and where we are going.  It’s about being fully present in the moments we are given. It is about a life lived in the slow lane.

Hike.jpg

Dear Heart, the World Needs Your Face

I am not a morning person.  At all.  I am the person who plans 20 minutes of hitting snooze into my morning. This is a typical morning of waking up looks like in life of Lori Rensink.

*alarm goes off*

Groans

*hits snooze*

*hits snooze*

I really need to get up

*hits snooze*

Lori Marie Rensink get yourself out of bed right now

Noooooooo

*Curls into blankets as a last chance desperate hope that I don’t have to get out of bed yet*

There is coffee . . . warm delicious coffee

Ugh fine

I then proceed zombie like to get ready and drive myself to work, clutching dearly to my coffee like a lifeline.  Just when I start wishing I could go crawl back in bed I reach downtown, and it is just so achingly beautiful.

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The sun is rising filling the world with color and light.  The birds are chirping busily as they have been awake for hours already.  The bell tower chimes and it is the moment when that makes me ready for another day.  In that moment the world awakens and I am very glad that I got out of bed.  Let’s be real though, I will still take my daily nap in the elevator on the way up to my office.  I am not narcissistic thinking the world needs me to go on.  I will go about my day making very little impact on the world around.  At least that is how it seems.

I go about my day making no difference at all but in slow subtle ways making all of the difference in the world.

Again not trying to be narcissistic, because I don’t think I am alone in feeling this way.  We all wake up with great ambitions to change the world and impact the lives of everyone we encounter.  Only to end up tired and irritable, feeling like we did not make much of a difference at all.  But do not count yourself so small dear heart.  You going about your life being you has impacted this world more than you will ever realize.

The world needs your face.

The world needs you.

Reflect for one moment on all of the wonderful people who have influence your life in some way.  Everyone from the teacher who was the first one to believe in you, to the barista who had a horrible week but still gave you the smile that made your day.  You have had a significant number of people who have influenced your life.  They will probably never know the depth of their influence on your life.  In turn, you will probably never know the depth of influence your life had on those around you.  But that does not mean it does not exist. 

Do not think for one moment that your life doesn’t matter, or that you will never make an impact on this world.  Let me tell you a secret: your life has already mattered. You have already made an impact.

Do not count yourself so small dear heart.

You are magnificent, beautifully created in the hands of the one who knows even the deepest and dustiest corners of your soul.  And you know the best part?  Despite the fact that you snapped at that barista today for getting your drink wrong, despite the fact that you feel completely over whelmed and self adsorbed, and despite the fact that you do not think yourself capable of even having the smallest it of influence.  He still smiles every morning when you wake up.  Because you are magnificent, and He sees the tiny ways that you make this world a better place, every day.

Do not count yourself so small dear heart, the world needs you.

Growing Pains

I wasn’t planning on doing a reflection for 2014, or even one of those Facebook picture things.  It just felt cheesy and overdone. Then a couple days ago a friend of mine asked me how 2014 was for me.  Sadly I already feel like I am at the age where the years just fly by in a blur, which is the answer I would normally give every year.  However this year was different.  I realized this year was actually very eventful.  Some good, some bad; some happy, some painful.  Through all of it I had grown more than I imagined possible.

I was really blessed this year to get to experience some truly wonderful adventures, and be surrounded by some truly amazing human beings. I had the opportunity to travel to some wonderful places:

Ames, Iowa with these lovely gems

Ames group

Newton, Kansas

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Philly where I also got to ride along with the Philly PD

2014-02-21 10.44.16

And my favorite Zambia 🙂

Zambia waterfall

Would you believe my wandering feet still don’t think that is enough travel for one year?  I know they are hopeless, but what is a girl to do.

This year I also got to be apart of two of my dear friends weddings.

Bre Wedding w katie

Bekka wedding

I went rock climbing

Rock climbing

I got to know this goober really well, and learned that my brother and I are basically twins

Dave

My brother also bravely taught me how to shoot a glock

Gun Shooting

2014 was also a year full of changes, such as graduating college.

Graduation

I went from life at full steam ahead with lots of coffee and little sleep, to life coming to a near dead stop.  I am still trying to figure out what people do with free time.  Although having a free saturday to sit by a fireplace and drink delicious coffee while I write this blog isn’t a bad life.  Still it was a big adjustment.  Suddenly my whole life is there for me to do whatever I wanted with it, and I realized just how little I knew what I actually wanted.  I am still trying to figure out that one out too.  Which leads to the next big change of 2014 – starting my first big girl job as a paralegal. Which has honestly been wonderful.  I have a great boss who genuinely cares for people and does everything he can to help those who need help.  Which in turn allows me in small ways to be able to help people as well.

Yet despite all of the wonderful things that happened this year, I still had one of the hardest years of my life.  I will save you the sob story details, but one day I realized that this is not the life I had planned on living.  At all.  Things just kept happening and it felt like my life was falling apart at a rapid rate.  This wasn’t suppose to be how my life turned out.  I am the girl with the plans and the won’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude.  Not the girl crying on her deck one late summer night because she felt like she failed at life.  Since that night, I have given up thinking that life would follow my plans.  Life is not a plan; it is a journey, a rough adventurous one at that.

Looking back now I wouldn’t change a thing (expect maybe the dramatic tears), because I learned an important lesson.  If I cannot learn to know that I am enough during my failures, I will never be able to feel like enough during my successes. It is not about the things that we do in this life, it is about the person we are while we do them.  You can be an extremely successful person, but if you cannot love yourself for who you are without all the glamor of success, then no amount of success will ever be able to change that.

It is called growing pains for a reason.  It is painful.  I still remember the growing pains I use to get when I was young.  It was not fun, and quite honestly I felt awkward for a while until I adjusted my long limbs.  Life is a lot like that.  It is painful, and you know what you will probably feel a little awkward as you adjust.

In America, we seem to have this idea that to struggle means you are less of a person.  Struggling is the equivalent of weakness. We hide our struggles because we don’t want people to realize that we are weak or that our life is messy.  Can we just stop for a moment and realize how ridiculous this is?  The best people that I know are the ones who have struggled.  They are real, they have been refined by fire, and they are anything but weak. They are the people that are aware of the world around them.  They are the people that know how cruel life can be, but they love life anyways.  They are the people who have such a deep sense of appreciation for the life around them.  I know that for me, I could not have become a better person, a stronger person without a little growing pains.

My favorite movie is the Count of Monte Cristo.  If I haven’t forced you to watch it with me, then we should talk about our friendship.  There is a scene in which the count gives the birthday toast to his son (only at the time he doesn’t know it is his son).  He ends the toast with this, “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the man!”

Maybe you are like me, maybe 2014 was a rough one for you.  Maybe your growing pains still hurt or maybe they just feel awkward.  Now I normally avoid science as much as possible, but I have been an athlete for long enough that I know in order for your muscles to grow stronger they first must be torn and broken down.  The human spirit is like a muscle sometimes.  In order for it to grow stronger, sometimes it must first be broken.  But what we sometimes forget in the midst of our struggle, is that our human spirit will bounce back stronger than before.  When the next storm of 2015 hits I know that I will smile and say, “Do your worst, for I will do mine.”