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Previously in NOLA

It has been way too long, so long in fact that I have a feeling I’m going to remind myself of one of those recaps at the beginning of a television show when it comes back from it’s summer break and most of its fan base has forgotten some of the finer details from the previous season.  The truth is that there just isn’t a whole lot going on these days that feels all that new or exciting.

Last time I posted I had just spoken to Pat about my issues being an assertive crew chief and while I did work super hard to counter my own personality and try to keep myself from hiding in a corner, I have had several weeks in a row now with no volunteers and that has put me right back where I started.  I am worried about the possibility of having a big group this coming week at a house that I am not entirely familiar with and working with a crew chief I don’t feel 100% comfortable with.  My fellow crew chiefs and I spent the first half of this week at the house where I’m headed next week finishing up some jobs that require a bit more finesse than your average volunteer brings to the table and it was a frustrating week to say the least.  Tuesday was an especially frustrating day where I got stuck working on a door alone and it was a closet door and I may or may not have ended up crying a few times alone in that God forsaken closet.  It was a long day…(Thank you to Patrick Higgins for fixing it but not doing it for me and for convincing me that I don’t suck at my job which I am afraid I do most of the time).  Wednesday I went back in, installed the door in 15 minutes flat thanks to some extreme power sanding by my partner in crime and then I spent the rest of the afternoon working on other things that were slightly challenging and reminding myself that I do know what I’m doing a lot of the time.

Things with my relationship life have been super stressful and it’s hard being here now that it’s May.  My inner student is wondering why I haven’t gone home yet and I have to keep reminding myself that I still have about two months left here while everyone else is at home.  To add to my stress I have to come to terms with the fact that Denny is leaving in less than a month and Ollie and Pat will go not long after that.  I am terrified for that day and even more terrified for the three weeks that follow and how I will fare, especially knowing that my job is also up in the air for that period of time.  I wish more than anything that I could just come home and try to sort my life out but I know I can handle this and I will.

On a third front, I am pretty sure that I am going to leave St Luke’s.  My church life has been incredibly unfulfilled and most recently I haven’t gone in weeks.  I also haven’t seen my spiritual director in a little too long but I am going to see her tomorrow and Sunday I am going to church with Denny at St Anna’s to see if that feels like a good fit for me as a church home.  I had a wonderful conversation with Mom and Uncle Larry about my beliefs and felt confident discussing how I feel about a lot of controversial issues in spirituality for the first time ever and I know that deeper understanding and confidence comes from my time here in this program and I am unbelievably grateful for that.

I am thinking that part of the reason it’s hard for me to blog sometimes is I run out of things to talk about so if any of you want to know anything, anything at all, post a comment to this post, ask me a question, I would love to chat with y’all!!

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Short and sweet

I know I just posted pretty recently, but I just wanted to check in to say that I had a wonderful day at work today!! I got assertive, I talked to Pat about my concerns and we’re going to work together to get my confidence back.

I also started working out again.  I woke up this morning and did some ab workouts, then after work I went for another two mile run.  My time last week that I was so proud of was 19:20.  Today, my first run since then, it only took me 18:47!

And I finally have enough money to mail it all in and start my training for IMALIVE.  Thanks to all of you for your support and your love!

IN LOVE AND PEACE

Sophie

 

p.s. props to Ryan for sending me this link, please please please watch this, it’s about Katrina, and it’s beautiful

 

I’ve spent all weekend getting all sorts of time getting some necessary (although not necessarily fun) work done.  I filed my taxes (twice), started figuring out my student loan situation, reading, my mileage logs and time sheets.  I even had time yesterday to go on my first run in ages and get my best time in months!  I also got the opportunity to get together with my mentors for dinner at Cafe Minh on Canal!

All of this really helped me to try to process some unpleasantness from my workday on Friday and stop myself from dwelling on it.  I have been realizing since the Christmas break that I have started to get complacent.  I am not feeling confident at work anymore and so I allow myself to be swept away in a task that keeps me from interacting with the volunteers and doing something wrong.  It feels like two steps back from where I started off this year in this job that is not within my immediate skill set.  So I have been working for the past few weeks to get out of that slump.  To try to force myself to recognize that I do know what I’m doing and that I can be a successful crew chief and teach my volunteers well.  I think that I struggle especially working with Pat, which is funny because he is my favorite crew chief to work with!!

I have realized the actuality that being a female crew chief creates a special set of obstacles, especially when working with adult male volunteers.  It’s an interesting dynamic where I struggle to prove that I know what I’m doing while they struggle to assert their manhood and prove that they do know everything about construction and can therefore not listen to me.  This is only compounded by the fact that Pat is a male crew chief and is far more outgoing and confident than I am.  The cards are not stacked in my favor and that can lead me to just give up, but I am going to consider struggling and fighting to figure this out. I will leave this year a confident, experienced, and strong crew chief, whether I have to drag myself there kicking and screaming or not.

I can’t wait to see my mom and sister and friends from Tampa and I’ll keep chugging along, just like I always do!

For Lent I have decided to give up spending money on anything non-essential, and that is tough already and I’m not even a week in.  Thursday’s Bible study was on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and I was the leader.  One thing that really stuck out for me was the fact that God lead Jesus into that struggle, and that Jesus willingly followed.  I have decided to meditate this Lent about the meaning of struggle and look at it not as something that is inherently bad, but as an opportunity for something beautiful.

I will also be trying to take on blogging at least once a week (so long as I remember) so please keep up the comments and check out my pictures in the “Year In Photos” album on facebook, that is a really easy way to keep up with some of the day to day stuff I do that doesn’t seem worthy of a blog post!

Quick check in

I have just recently passed the 6 month anniversary of my arrival in New Orleans and I am feeling more and more hopeful every day.  Just a few months ago I would have said that there was no way that I could imagine myself making it the rest of my time here.  As much as I love this city, I was having a very hard time feeling at home or comfortable here.  I am finally starting to feel happy here.
I have been struggling in that last month of so with feeling self-conscious and nervous on the worksite.  I worry often about whether or not I’m doing the right thing, what volunteers, supervisors, and other crew chiefs think about me, and I have definitely had my moments in recent weeks where I have been questioning whether or not I belong here.  I have decided to be sure in my last five months that I learn everything that I possibly can and to take responsibility when I do something wrong and ask how to fix it.  I am taking charge of my worksite and I want to make sure that I don’t rely on my co-crew chief to tell me what to do and handle the volunteers.
This week I got to work with Pat (my partner in crime) and two different volunteer groups.  The first day we had a group of high school students from Melbourne Florida.  They climbed underneath the house to clean it out and did some work on the trim inside.  The last two days I have had the pleasure of working with seven lovely volunteers from the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon.  We have been working on a few finer points of interior trim, such as painting and installing and a few of them got started today on painting the exterior.
Just a quick post for now but I hope to have a longer one this week and maybe, if you’re all lucky, I’ll talk to you all about Lakeview, the neighborhood I’ve been assigned in a new project where we are each asked to learn all there is to know about our neighborhood as the first step to a longer process of developing an idea for a community organization to help our neighborhood.
I hope you are all well and as always I encourage you to check out my photo album on facebook where I will post one photo a day.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701125633#!/album.php?fbid=10150384752410634&id=701125633&aid=614361

Today at St Luke’s a girl, no older than me, sang this song (Can’t Give Up Now – Mary Mary)
There will be mountains that I will have to climb
And there will be battles that I will have to fight
But victory or defeat, it’s up to me to decide
But how can I expect to win If I never try.

I just can’t give up now
I’ve come too far from where I started from
Nobody told me the road would be easy
and I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me

Never said there wouldn’t be trials
Never said I would’t fall
Never said that everything would go the way I want it to go
But when my back is against the wall
And i feel all hope is gone,
[. From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/m/mary-mary-lyrics/can_t-give-up-now-lyrics.html .]
I’ll just lift my head up to the sky
And say help me to be strong

I just can’t give up now
I’ve come too far from where I started from
Nobody told me the road would be easy
and I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me

[Hook:]
No you didn’t bring me out here to leave me lonely
Even when I can’t see clearly
I know that you are with me(so I can’t)

I just can’t give up now
I’ve come too far from where I started from
Nobody told me the road would be easy
and I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me

I am listening to it now while I write this and I wanted to reflect on a few things.  As you all well know, I have had my share of troubles here in New Orleans and it’s been tough.  There have absolutely been times that I have felt broken and alone and wondered how I could have put myself in this position, taken myself away from my support system, and isolated myself in a strange city.  But I think about what my spiritual director, Sharon, suggested in our last meeting.  She was asking how I was doing spiritually and I was telling her that I have never felt close to God in the way that I do this year.  Sharon just looked at me and told me, “I think that’s because you’ve never needed him like you do this year.”

These past six months have absolutely been hard, and I’ve been more tired than I think I have ever been.  But while all of that was happening, my relationships have grown stronger.  Friends that I was losing touch with have become my rock.  I am learning how hard it can be to maintain friendships over long distances; hard but not by any means impossible.  I have become much more aware of God’s call in my life, much more thankful for every small grace, and much more aware of how much more I can be doing.

I have started volunteering at ARNO (Animal Rescue New Orleans) on Wednesday nights, walking dogs, many of which have spent their entire lives feral.  I have also been asked to join a fund raising committee for St Luke’s.  I am working out a minimum of five days a week, eating better, praying daily, and learning to play guitar.  None of these things would have been possible without this year.

I want to thank each and every one of you who is reading my blog.  Thank you for taking time out of your day to see how I’m doing.  Thank you for praying for me.  Thank you for believing in me and what I’m doing, even when I can’t believe I should be here.  Thank you all for being you.

I want to start recommending songs and books and prayers and anything else that I have had the privilege of being exposed to here. So here are a few book recommendations:

The Shack – WM Paul Young (one of my favorites)

Same Kind Of Different As Me – Ron Hall and Denver Moore (this book will change you, guaranteed)

A New Kind of Christianity – Brian McLaren

GOD BLESS

Isn’t it ironic

So, like Alanis, my grasp of irony may be tenuous at best but I can’t help but giggle looking at my last blog post (see Mom’s favorite journal entry) and then at it’s date..

While I was home, several people mentioned that I hadn’t blogged in a while and that they were missing it, so I will try, in this new year, to be better.  And I have so much to talk about now that I am back in New Orleans, starting 2011 with some new and improved resolutions and attitudes!

Part of the reason that my blogging became so spotty towards the holidays last year was that I was having a really tough time down here and didn’t really want to spend my time talking about how sad I was or complain to you all.  But since I got back to my house, I have adopted a more positive attitude and I have been working extra hard.  I have made a daily checklist of things I want to do (and a weekly one) that will sort of serve as a lather, rinse, repeat for my daily resolutions.  I want to make prayer a more regular part of my life, I want to learn guitar, I want to read the news paper every day, start watching sports highlights, reading (books for fun), I have also started doing a photo a day to keep an image journal of my year here and that will help you all keep up with me even more!

http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?id=701125633&aid=614361

This past week was rough but I’ve been getting a lot more serious about working out and I am feeling really positive about the next 7 months down here!! I will do my best to blog more and you should all check out my photos and keep tabs on me, remind me when I’m slacking!!

I love you and miss you all

Mom’s favorite journal entry

So it’s been a while since I posted!! (Mom skimmed through a few old journals once and found that line in every one..journaling was never thing).  A lot has happened since my last post, so I’ll try to give you all the highlights!!

I had my first group of volunteers this week.  They are from Virginia and they are sort of a tough group.  They have been to New Orleans nine times and so they have some experience under their belt and are not always receptive do directions, criticism, etc.  I think in the long run they’ll be a good first group because they’ll get me used to having difficult volunteers.  The frustration of this week is exacerbated by the fact that what I’m leading my five volunteers in in something I have little to no experience of training in, and so when they ask me questions or pose criticisms to the strategies I share with them, I am less well equipped to deal with those.  So I have spent this week flooring and tiling with two different kinds of floor.  We’ve been doing luan board with laminate tiles in one room and we have also been doing hardy backer with ceramic tiles in a few rooms. We’re working in a new house, where the homeowner’s first priority is occupancy, which requires floors, doors, and electric/gas.  So I am hoping we’ll have the flooring done in the next week or so.  I have also gotten the chance to work on some more odd jobs, either with other crew chiefs or solo, which has been making me feel pretty great and keeping me sane!

This week has also marked the start of PT.  Our new boss, who is replacing Liz Carrier, used to be in the military and so he is offering optional Ranger Action Warrior Physical Training three days a week for an hour before work.  (That is 6:30am-7:30am) I went to the first two days and had my butt kicked but my  alarm didn’t go off today so I didn’t make it.  I am planning on going three days a week as much as I can.  Jeff is a really really really frustrating guy to work with.  He makes inappropriate comments, doesn’t have great people skills, and doesn’t seem to want much, if any, involvement with the actual program itself let alone the staff members.  I am doing my best to keep an open mind, but at this point he is making even ambivalence seem pretty unlikely,

So it’s been a tough week as you can tell, but I’m hanging in there.  I have Andrew’s visit (hopefully) and the church ladies to look forward to, not to mention that Chuck from Evos will be in New Orleans in a few weeks and I’ll get a chance to see him too!

I would love you all to comment with questions, I think that might make it easier for me to know what to write about!!

I love and miss you all

Rough days y’all

Let me start this post off with a funny story!  Yesterday I was installing all of the door knobs and door stops in the house and the efficiency apartment in the back.  The first door knob I installed, I was sitting on a bucket in the bathroom, and assembling the door knob, and wanted to be sure that the latch would line up with the plate on the door.  So I closed the door…..thereby locking myself in the bathroom with half of a doorknob in my hand.  That was hysterical.
Today we were working on finishing up Pipkins, the house I’ve been working on for the past week and a half or so.  We only had about a day of work left and it felt good to be tying up all of the loose ends.
First thing this morning, I decided to face my fear of heights head on, and so I took it upon myself to climb up onto the inclined roof and paint the gable of the house.  It was really scary but all of my fellow crew chiefs were so supportive and really cheered me on! Around 12 we took a break for lunch and then got back to exterior painting and window scraping (only the most glamorous jobs of course).  At one point, one of the other crew chiefs went inside to grab something from his bag…and it wasn’t there.  It seems that two back packs were stolen from the work site today, and so we went back to the warehouse early.
We also had a few very intense discussions on intentional community and our program over the past few days so I’m pretty burnt out and feeling like I need a break.  We do get volunteers soon though, which means that I personally won’t be working as hard every day and I’ll have volunteers to keep me energized and excited!  My fellows and I are also participating in an Abita Pub Crawl tomorrow which promises to be awesome (but fear not, dear family, I promise to be super safe and super responsible).
If anyone has anything specific you’d like to hear about, please post a comment and I’d be more than happy to dedicate a post to answering your question!!

Sleep is a good thing…

They say you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, and this week that is certainly true about sleep!  It has been a whirlwind week.  Last weekend went by far too quickly, but TGIF, this weekend should be better!

The other new crew chiefs got here on Monday so we’ve gotten to start working with them this week and we’ve had more opportunities to get to hand out with all of our co-workers outside of work too.  I had my first Abita on draft this week (Purple Haze) and my first drive through daiquiri (strawberry and pink lemonade).   I have gotten to finish my tiling project with grouting and caulking, mudded and sanded, and painted exteriors.

We’ve also started a new book, A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren, and I am really enjoying it so far.  He evaluates common paradigms and beliefs in traditional Christian culture and their alternatives.  We have had some really meaningful discussion so far and I’m sure it will only get better as we read more!

Please comment with questions to help give me ideas of what to write about, what do y’all wanna hear about?

The Journey So Far…

Hey y’all, I want to fill you in a little bit on what I’ve been doing since I got to New Orleans! (bear with me, I’ve never done this blog thing before!!)

For those of you who don’t know, I am here in the Crescent City for the next eleven months with the NOLA Service Corps as a crew chief in the rebuild program.  What that means in a broader sense is that I am living in an intentional community of 6 other young people who are here working with various programs throughout the city as part of the NOLA Service Corps.  As part of the program, we have assigned reading to do and meet with two program leaders twice a week to discuss the readings and to do spiritual formation.  Additionally, we are each assigned a mentor that we meet with every two or three weeks as well as a spiritual director that we meet with once a month.

If you think that’s a lot to keep track of, think how we feel!! I have been here for a little over two weeks and I already feel like I’ve been here for ages!!  The first week and a half we had a jam-packed orientation consisting of tours of the neighborhoods, history lessons on the diocese and the city, a climb up into the bell tower at the Christ Church Cathedral, planning and hosting a banquet on one-day’s notice, and a plethora of other awesome and educational activities.  We also attended two conferences on the weekend of Katrina’s five-year anniversary.  One was an independent TED conference called TEX x NOLA and the second was called Rising Tide V.

Since I got here, we have also started working at our site placements!! My experience in rebuild has been very bittersweet.  I have always loved coming down here for spring break in the past, but I am super nervous about being a group leader and leading a group of volunteers in the rebuild process.  So far the two other new crew chiefs and myself have been working with 3 experienced crew chiefs to learn how to perform our given tasks and to answer volunteer questions and concerns.  I hope I will be able to have a positive impact on my volunteers once the safety blanket of our teachers is removed!!

As far as fun things we’ve done, I’ve been the the Quarter twice, tailgated a Saints game, attended a block party in the Lower Ninth, participated in a second line for Rebirth Brass Band, seen Faith Hill live and for free, watched a Saints game from inside the Super Dome, and gone to a Zephyr’s game.  And don’t forget my wonderful birthday with my dad and all of the gifts and love and best wishes from all of you who mean the world to me!

I hope that’s good for my first official blog post as Miss New Orleans.  For those of you unfamiliar with New Orleans music, or the great Satchmo, this comes from what has quickly become my favorite Crescent City inspired song, and I will leave you with a few lines.

“Do you know what it means to Miss New Orleans, and that’s where I left my heart, and there’s something more, I miss the one I car for, more than I miss New Orleans”