User Manual

Dear Family and Friends,

Every month I write a letter about something that has been on my mind. It’s mostly for my own therapeutic reasons. The only reason I send it to you is so that I would stay accountable to writing every month. And, I hope if we haven’t seen each other in a while I hope you will feel so compelled to reply back and let me know how you are doing.

(For a version that is easier to read and has some pictures from my most recent hiking trip, click here:

A few days ago I wrote a thank you letter to one of my community college professors, Dr. Toebe, for a very kind thing she did. She had written a very sincere and touching letter of recommendation on my behalf so I could get into the nurse practitioner program. She inspired my thoughts this month about how life does come with a user manual; however, it’s blank, and you have the pen. My proverbial user manual is filled with 5 things I choose to ALWAYS do when I am faced with either indecision or conflict.

Whenever I have to make some decision about which path to choose, I always pick the option that meets certain criteria. This is my list of criteria that ALWAYS have to be met when I make potentially life altering choices. FYI, “life altering” can be as simple as “Should I dedicate a significant amount of time to this situation?” or, “This person is irking the heck out of me. How should I deal with them?” 

When someone offers you something that is not being offered to anyone else- ALWAYS take it. A few years ago, me and about 10 other students were trying to get into a microbiology class. I went to the professor, Dr. Toebe, and told her the reason I really really needed to get into her class that quarter. I’m sure it was the same reason (this class was a prerequisite for many other classes and programs) that the 10 other students had. But, I thought I was super special, and she would see how I was so different from everyone else and she would just let me into the class. She said she wasn’t going to let me into the class, but she would allow me to enroll in the Monday/ Wednesday class that was already full. The timing was an inconvenience, but something told me I should adjust my schedule to make it to that class. To make a long story short, I’m still reaping the benefits from taking that offer. 

The point is, all things being equal, go for opportunities that  were made just for you. I’m not talking about the deal that will be gone in the next 60 seconds or the same pitch that gets used on everyone. I’m talking about the offers that may not look very appeasing but have been created specially for your needs.

Favorite Quote: Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.


ALWAYS choose vision over sight. Choosing vision over sight means that when you are not where you want to be in life it just means that you just haven’t gotten to where you want to be yet. Huh? For instance, I’m trying to be a multi-millionaire. That’s the vision. My sight shows a very low bank account balance, a very high loan repayment to Sally Mae (i.e. student loans), and the inability to work full time because I’m choosing to stay in school.

Having vision over sight means just figuring out what you want in life and just going for it.  There are millions of things in the now that will discourage you from whatever it is that you are going for. Either you will get to the goal, or something that fulfills the same emotional need will replace the goal.I look back and can name 2 handful worth of things that worked themselves out in my favor despite the fact that it shouldn’t have. I also had major things in my life that didn’t workout, yet I still ultimately got to the goal or something better that I could not foresee.

Favorite Quote: Your goals change and adjust, but you purpose will always supersede.

ALWAYS let what you need outweigh what you want. I tend to rely on this touchstone when I’m dealing with matters of relationships. I know when you are reading this that you think I’m always reflective and nice and thoughtful (well, some of you probably know better). Truth is, some people really irk me and I will let them know it. Last year I had a roommate situation that was not positive. I learned a lot from that situation… maybe I’ll write a letter about it one day… and I’m still learning from that situation. The short story was that I wanted her to leave my apartment, but I needed her to pay rent. Why couldn’t I have had both? During the 5.5 months of tumultuous living together, I learned a lot about how I handle conflict (and it is not too pretty). Now that I have seen the errors of my ways, I’ve learned that what you want may be immediate, but what you need often is coupled with maturity/ patience/ discipline/ integrity/ justice/ being accountable/ being transparent/ and wisdom. None of that is easy. I think that is why we often forgo what we need in order to get what want (which tends to be easier and doesn’t challenge you to grow). For instance, in that roommate situation, I wanted to be right and have my way (just as she did) but I really needed peace in my home (which I’m sure she wanted as well).

ALWAYS move towards stillness. Stillness to me means what feels right to my soul. It has absolutely nothing to do with choosing the safe option or the boring option or the option where I’m physically still. I’m learning to discern between the feeling of I’m nervous because I’ve never done something before and what truly doesn’t feel right to me.

Also, you have to move. I try to be very intentional about life. In some areas it’s working out well, and some areas of my life needs a lot more work. C’est la vie.

ALWAYS assume there will be abundance. I know I have shared the story about my friend, Linda. One week we are lamenting that we are broke and the next we are trying to figure out if it we should go to Cuba or not. She went. I didn’t. I had other obligations, but I would have gone if being broke was the only reason holding me back. I would have found a way. Whenever I’m torn, I ask myself what am I afraid; my biggest fear is the lack of provision after living with the consequence of that choice. If my fears are rooted in some type of possibility of a deficit then I will acknowledge that those fears are real and I will go for it anyways. Its kind of like the question, “What would you do if money wasn’t an option?” My question is, “If fear wasn’t holding you back, would you still do this?”
I also assume there is an abundance of everything that I need in this world. Sometimes when I get down in life, I have to remind myself that the providence of God is abundant and will always be available when I need it the most. I also have an abundance of internal and external stuff to sufficiently get me through life and more than enough to give away to others.

The more I write, the more I seem like a weirdo who has to talk to herself and I give myself pep talks. I write these long letters. So, I’m just going to end the madness right now. I hope to hear from you soon.


Your Scars


mission creek with watermark.jpg

I took this pick at Mission Peaks


Your scars are someone else’s signs of hope.