Learning to Embrace It All

It’s been almost an entire semester of sophomore year since spending three and a half weeks in Europe with a few of the coolest people I will ever meet. Seriously these people are SO COOL. If they weren’t so darn encouraging, it would be really easy to feel like they’re all much cooler than me. But a fantastic dynamic of the CR10 familia is an attitude of encouragement, so naturally, by engaging with them, I’m reminded of what makes me special and super cool as well. All that being said, I am sad to admit I haven’t been able to spend quite as much time with all of these friends as I had hoped. The semester got busy for all of us, and as soon as rehearsals started for me at the beginning of October, my evenings were basically all occupied for the following two months. Thus, it has been quite the balancing act just trying to get homework done and be a healthy person. Regardless, the moments of hugging CRecaders at church, bumping into each other while crossing South University, or meeting up over a quick meal have been super sweet. From what I can tell, we’re all certainly experiencing the ups and downs of sophomore year and are probably ready for a nice, long break. I can say with confidence that many of the lessons I learned–and started to learn–during CR10 have stuck with me and are continuing to shape me this year.

I’m still discovering that it’s okay to not be okay. I struggle identifying and embracing my negative emotions. I love joy, relationships, confidence, and peace, but sometimes I’m stressed, tired, lonely, and anxious… and that’s okay. On CR, I experienced many moments of stress and felt some negative emotions surfacing, and I really did not want to deal with them. If I had it my way, I would have pounced through Europe with nothing but smiles and confidence, all the way from Berlin to Rome. But constant travel, heavy discussions, new friendships, and a lack of 8-hours-a-night of sleep didn’t necessarily cultivate in me a spirit of rest and confidence. This was a time of growth, and I knew that, but I don’t think I was full prepared for the growing pangs that were to accompany me on my journey. I remember one day in Munich, I told Audrey I was feeling stressed and tired and not fully myself, and she assured me that I was not alone and reminded me in her sweet, sincere way that it’s okay to feel these things. Since CR, I’ve been growing a lot in my ability to embrace and accept negative emotions, not as a part of who I am, but as an indicator that something is going on in my heart that deserves some attention. I’ve begun to acknowledge emotions as an entity separate from character; thus, I can handle the good, bad and ugly of my emotions without beating myself up about having them. Furthermore, I notice that the roughest of days often lead to the most joy on the other end because they cause me to lean harder into the Lord, my close friends, and family… I usually end up learning something valuable about myself, those around me, or just life in general. It says in the first chapter of James, trials produce perseverance, which leads to a strengthening of character. Praise the Lord, CR was a beautiful opportunity to embrace this character-building because I was surrounded by a family of fantastic, loving, genuine, encouraging, honest individuals. Our support system was–and still is–hard to match. To readers, my greatest encouragement post-CR is to surround yourself with a strong community of genuine and encouraging people and to embrace all aspects of the present moment, the good and bad, ups and downs. Thank you, CR10 familia, for your friendship and encouragement. Knowing you all is an incredible gift!

Joyfully, Indigo

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Trading Gelato for Peaches

Heading back to Georgia

June 12, 2018

I am currently in an airplane, heading from London Heathrowe to the Hartsfield Jackson airport in Atlanta. After spending three and a half weeks with my Cultural Routes 10 familia, I’m not sure what being home will feel like. Part of me is eager to get some r&r and time to process… But a big part of my heart feels like I’m gonna be wishing I was back in Europe, preparing for a day of brand new adventures. Each day of CR was full of discoveries, conversations, smiles, challenges, and growth. Some days were more challenging than others (check out Marat’s blog about transportation…),  but I can assure you there was not a single day that was boring or predictable. I appreciate that Dr. P didn’t reveal to us the full itinerary ahead of time. He usually didn’t even give us a hint at what the next day would look like. We were encouraged to enjoy the present moment and trust that tomorrow would come at just the right time–not worth worrying about it! Reminds me of a verse in the book of Matthew that tells us not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring about its own troubles. Basically, since worrying is not productive even in the slightest, the best thing we can do for ourselves is focus on the moment we are in and trust that we will have all we need for tomorrow. With that in mind, CR10 helped me realize how truly special each and every day is. If I become so preoccupied with tomorrow, I miss out on the wonders of today. Skydiving happened and was fantastic, but I’m so glad I didn’t spend the first week of CR thinking about it. I got to enjoy Germany and then experience the beauty and adventure of Interlaken all in its own time. And then I got to move on and be present in Italy.

This mindset of being present and enjoying where I am carried over into my two days in Dublin with my family, right after CR10 ended. Instead of asking, “Where are we going next?” or “What are we doing for dinner?” a hundred times like I’m more accustomed to, I caught myself before I asked and reminded myself to enjoy the moment before it was gone. I admit, I may have asked about dinner a couple of times, but I’m certainly getting better. It’s all about the process.

San Gimignano groupInterlaken Jake and OliviaTower of Pisa with AudreySkydiving RUNBerlin Wall Team Charlie

Because I know I’ll be giving advice to future CR members, I figure I may as well start now while it’s fresh. I’m sure I’ll have more to add as time goes by, but here’s what I would tell future members of the familia at this point:

  1. Some or all of my advice may not apply to you, and that’s okay. I found that some of the advice I received before CR helped me, and some did not necessarily help me. But none of it hurt me. My advice is to not rely too heavily on the advice you receive. Take that as you will. I do appreciate all of the words of wisdom from mi familia. But I urge you not to let our advice hinder you from going into CR free of specific expectations. I think part of the beauty of CR is that you are not in control of your experience. You are in control of your reaction to your experience. But, in a large capacity, your ultimate growth is not entirely up to you. Just let it happen. So when you are told to make sure you do this or that, take it all with a grain of salt!
  2. Pack lightly if you can. I brought a pretty large backpack and a fairly small carry-on sized roller suitcase. I re-wore a few t-shirts, but traveling was so easy. I don’t regret my packing choices at all.
  3. Drink lots of water. It’s not always free, but it’s always worth it… Your body will thank you!
  4. If you have a sensitive gut, maybe don’t eat gelato three times in one day. Just a warning, but do as you will……. Gelato is delicious….
  5. Give yourself grace. You’re gonna mess up and you’re gonna have rough days. I promise you, everyone does. I struggled a lot with energy. I’m typically a very bubbly, energetic gal, but I have found that when I run low on energy, it’s noticeable. I can go from about 75 to 15 mph in a matter of seconds. People would ask me if I was okay, and I’d be like, “Yep! Just tired.” But after a while, I started to question myself. Eventually, I got so frustrated with myself for “not being me.” I thought I had to be energetic to be the most authentic version of myself. Then, after sharing some of my feelings and struggles with a close CR10 buddy, Audrey Payne, and listening to her words of wisdom, I started to get it. I learned that I am someone who needs a bit of quiet, laid-back time to re-charge. Though I didn’t get much alone time on this experience, I did learn how to stand back and quietly observe for a little bit, when necessary. For me, it was less about my energy levels and more about embracing grace.
  6. Bring your TCU student ID. Many times in museums and memorials, we were offered a student discount with our IDs.

Ultimately, this has been the most exciting three and a half weeks of my life, and I can’t express how grateful I am for this experience and new friendships. I’m quite sure I will continue to make many personal discoveries over my next three years at TCU and beyond because of CR10 and these people. Thank you Dr. P, Lindsey, Audrey, Kyle, Abby, Jacob, Jake, Ryal, Brooke, Emma, Brittany, Nishu, Lauren, Taylor, OC, Olivia W, and Marat. I have learned so much from each of you, and I can’t wait to be back on campus with y’all! And special thanks to Kaity Butcher and Davis Donaldson for making this happen.

So much love,

Indigo

Live a “YES”

May 26, 2018

Interlaken, Switzerland

Okay folks, It happened. I jumped out of a plane!! It’s one those things I have always wanted to do but didn’t really think I’d get a chance to do–well maybe, but not in the Swiss Alps! When I landed safely on the ground with the help of my trusty guide and our fully functioning parachute, my first thought was: “I need to call my mom so she knows I’m alive!” (I did so, and she was very pleased to hear the good news). But honestly, once I got into the plane with five other CR10 adrenaline junkies and we took off, my initial anxiety turned into vivid excitement. I was SO READY to free fall through clouds and see the beautiful mountain range all around and underneath me. I’ve always been a sucker for blue skies, puffy clouds, and mountains, so this was quite the dream come true. And let me tell you, the actual experience exceeded my hopes and dreams.

I tried to explain to my mom what skydiving felt like, and I couldn’t quite form coherent sentences. This is about what my end of the phone conversation probably sounded like: “Oh my GOODNESS!! Okay, so I was in the plane, and then we just… WHOOSH. Gone. I was literally just falling through the sky. SO COOL. It felt like–I don’t know–wind. Yeah! Lots and lots of wind. And, um…. just falling, you know?” I think you get the gist. I was stoked about this crazy new adventure. I still can’t quite explain it. Skydiving is definitely something you have to experience to truly understand.

I think that’s a lot of what life is. You have to just say “heck YES” and go DO things!! I’ve learned it can be terrifying, confusing, uncomfortable, and messy; but “yes” living, in my opinion, is the most rewarding kind of living. It brings the most unexpected friendships and newfound passions. I believe living a “yes” could include spending time getting to know a new friend, trying odd foods, taking a journey throughout Europe, jumping out of the sky, and so much more. I’m still discovering what it means to live a YES life. I know it doesn’t mean throwing all caution out the window, but it does mean tearing down walls of fear that hold me back from giving myself fully to the moment. I’m hoping I leave CR with a greater sense of adventure and more courage to take risks, knowing full well I may fail. I hope I am able to identify fear for what it is and recognize that I was created for joy, relationships, and adventure! And so were you!

Let’s start saying “yes” more.

-Indigo

Go with the Flow

Alright, full disclosure: I have not been prioritizing the blog very well. This one’s been cooking for a while… But it is what it is, so enjoy!

Munich, Germany

May 25, 2018

So much has happened these past 10 (more or less) days, it seems like we’ve jammed a whole month worth of adventure into them. That being said, time has flown by, and I can’t believe we are already onto our THIRD city! Germany was a blast! I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy these two cities and learning about their culture and history nearly as much as I have. In fact, I’ve decided to learn German and move into a cottage in the mountainous part of Munich (or I guess I should say, München). Adieu, TCU… I’ve found my new home! Okay, maybe not, but I do hope to return to Germany one day and explore even more.

Thus far, the CRecaders have visited multiple memorials and museums, engaged in meaningful and intelligent conversions, contemplated the horrors of the holocaust in Dachau, walked MANY miles, eaten A LOT of bread and meat, experienced the wonders of a night train, and more. Most importantly though, we have developed some pretty awesome friendships and learned so much from and about each other. I LOVE these people and am pumped to get to know each of them even more.

I figured it’d be fun to share one of many unique stories from the experience. This kind of experience is a “you had to be there” kind of thing, but it’s worth sharing nevertheless.

Day one in Munich (May 21st) was an interesting one… Fun and exciting, but we were all exhausted from the night train and frazzled from a unique wake up call, which is a different story altogether. We were split up into two groups (go Team Neuschwanstein!) and set off to explore the city. Since it just so happened to be Pentecost that day, many of the places and things to visit on our list were closed. We decided to hit all the places we could and then take it from there. By the time we had visited everything we could, it seemed as though most of us had hit a wall, and we hadn’t eaten… Thus, a handful of hangry horned frogs searched the streets of Munich for some good grub. We ended up at an Italian restaurant, which revived our stomachs and spirits significantly. Then we decided to head over to the English Garten and watch some dudes surf the river rapids–it was pretty gnarly. After standing there for a few minutes, one of us suggested that we cross the bridge to the other side of the river and sit on the grass for a bit. The answer was a resounding YES. We picked a spot at the edge of the river and those of us who didn’t first take a bathroom break began to relax. But a thought was brewing in the minds of the few of us at the shore… That water looked especially inviting on such a warm day… And the surfers seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Of course, we weren’t considering imitating them–that could have been disastrous to say the least. But a little dip into the rushing river wouldn’t hurt, would it?

……….

By the time the other half arrived, the few of us were antsy to jump in and had stripped down to shorts and sports bras (I assure you, Marat and Nishu were not wearing sports bras, just in case you were curious). Needless to say, we were ready. The other four joined in and we did indeed jump into the river–the freezing cold river–one after the other, and manage to fight the current and pull ourselves back onto the ledge and then to the grass. We then laid out on the grass, some reading, others listening to music or talking. I was just thinking. It had been an odd and somewhat emotional day for me. I had fought the need to retreat and allow myself quite time. I needed this time to breathe and just think and pray. It was good. After we were mostly air-dried, we headed back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

Spontaneous adventures of this kind have been some of my favorite CR10 moments thus far. They seem to happen most when we least anticipate it.

I’ve learned it’s necessary to allow yourself to be interrupted every once in a while… There might be something awesome–and/or hilarious–waiting for you to experience.

Think on Such Things

Berlin, Germany

[This post regards our excursions on Saturday the 19th]

I had a hard time processing today. My team (Team Charlie; consisting of myself Brittany H., Jake L., Audrey P., Olivia W., and Jacob J.) and I were assigned to visit the Museum for the Murdered Jews of Europe here in Berlin. As the name suggests, it’s a heavy topic; not one I find myself pondering very often in every day life. But this was a necessary excursion. This city is a mine of complex history and fascinating stories. It also was home to many of the victims of the holocaust and was basically the center of Nazi power. Thus, delving into the stories of a few of the millions of individuals directly affected by this terror in the very city so much of it took place is chilling. Team Charlie knew we were in for a tough morning; nevertheless, we walked into the museum with open minds and an eagerness for deeper understanding.

Stories get me. Life stories, with details that depict the rawness of humanity, really get me. As I inched my way through the rooms of the museum, I found myself being sucked into the stories of ordinary people who unexpectedly suffered a tragedy far worse than anything I could imagine. I observed photographs of the grotesque corpses of completely innocent people. Each of these mutilated individuals had their own story. Many stories were lost and are forever gone, but the relatively few stories that were preserved are heart breaking. I still can’t comprehend the horror. Words legitimately don’t suffice. And I have so many questions: How could so many join this cause to kill? How should I respond to this? My natural instinct is to avoid thinking about this mass murder… It’s much too painful.

I journaled a bit this afternoon, after our team discussion following the museum, and got to the page that had Philippians 4:8 written on it in pretty lettering. As I scribbled down my thoughts and feelings about this experience, our discussion, and the holocaust, I couldn’t help but ponder this verse. It reads: “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think on such things.” I want to. I want to find the beauty in everything. That’s typically my unofficial Goal of the Day. Thus, I veer away from harping on the negative. I’m not a big fan of delving into heavy, depressing topics. But Christ did not ask His people to avoid suffering. He asks us to be empathetic, as He was and is. He mourned with those who were hurting and rejoiced with those who celebrated. Clearly He is not saying to only think about the good stuff and pretend like terrible things don’t happen, and I don’t think Paul was saying that either. So how can I respond to this incomprehensible suffering without falling into a pit of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness? I truly don’t have the answer. But I believe–as I investigated in an honors “Wisdom Books” religion class this past semester–that it is absolutely necessary to remain attuned to joy while being responsive to suffering. God exists in both extremes, on the mountain tops and in the valleys. By considering the depths of the horrors of the holocaust, I am becoming more aware of the nastiest side of humanity. I wish to use this knowledge as an incentive to love better… There is indeed pain and unexplainable suffering in this world, but there is still so much good. So much reason to encourage my neighbor and to speak truth. My heart hurts for those who lost loved ones or who survived the holocaust… How could one come out of that tragedy without a constant sense of emptiness for those who perished? How does one move on from that and get back to a life that is relatively normal? How can we encourage and support those who are hurting in this way, even when we cannot grasp the pain they have experienced?

I still don’t have words to concisely wrap this up… I don’t have the answers. But I believe I will be left asking these kinds of questions as we further explore each city.

p.s. As I am left pondering, I must say that I so appreciate this opportunity to explore the dark sides of the history of Berlin as well as the stunning cathedrals, parks, monuments, food, and more. I feel like I have learned a lot, particularly from listening to the other members of my group as we all try to digest the world around us. Thanks for a great adventure, Berlin. Onto Munich!

-Indigo

IT’S NOT TIME TO JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE, INDIGO!

Final Blog Post PRE-CR10

Holy moly… We’re so close–literally three days away from being in BERLIN–and it is truly hitting me now. A couple weeks ago, with finals and theatre juries staring me in the face, I didn’t have a whole lot of time (or the mental capacity) to fully grasp that CR was actually about to happen. Well, now I’m sitting in my home in Georgia, thinking about all that I need to pack and how else to prepare for this adventure. IT’S HAPPENING.

Honestly, I think my greatest anxiety about CR10 at this point is about packing. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that person who packs 50 t-shirts but forgets toothpaste… That would most definitely be me. Thus, to avoid as much unnecessary packing trouble as possible, I am making sure to sit down with my parents and go through each item I’m brining. I am also using the recommended packing list we were given at one of the CR10 meetings, so I should be good to go. I know I’ll probably forget something, we’re just hoping that something is not my passport or the sorts.

I’m also a little bit anxious about Interlaken… I must say, I am quite the thrill seeker when it comes to outdoorsy things/jumping off of tall things, but the prospect of skydiving or hang-gliding is intimidating me. I have never experienced anything of this kind, and I’m so so SO pumped–especially after consulting some past CRers about this–but the thought of potentially jumping out of an AIRPLANE is giving me butterflies.

A goal for myself for CR10 is to live in the moment. To press into the ups and downs of the PRESENT MOMENT, because I believe that’s the best route to growth. I tend to mentally plan ahead for the “next big thing,” so I’m hoping to learn to let that go and enjoy the beauty of the “now.” Regarding this particular experience, I hope to be present in each city and not anticipate what is to come so much that I am not fully enjoying where I’m at. With that in mind, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT JUMPING OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. Dr. P, if I start talking about that, you have permission to chastise me. But seriously, I want to enjoy and learn from people and places one city at a time!

I am also hoping CR10 teaches me how to be alert and intuitive, even in the face of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. As we walk about these new cities and experience an abundance of new things and people, I hope to be able to acknowledge my emotional and mental states enough to give myself grace and then let go of myself, in order to fully experience all that is around me. With an open and perceptive mind, I aim to fully immerse myself into each culture regardless with how unfamiliar I may be with my surroundings.

This is gonna be good!!! Here’s to pressing into the now and making sure all of the essentials end up in my suitcase!

-Indigo

Actually Riding the Rollercoaster

Okay, to be completely honest, I was very intimidated when I discovered I would be writing about Munich. I will preface by saying, I am not a history kind of gal. I LOVE learning and can engage in any history that has a direct correlation to something I am genuinely interested in, like biblical or theatre history. However, when it comes to wars and policies, it’s generally a no-go for me. For some reason, I just can’t wrap my mind around all of it. The dates and people get all jumbled up, and I usually end up frustrated.

All that being said, I am about to embark on the historical journey of a lifetime, so I should probably just pull myself up by my bootstraps and give history a chance. Munich is a city that contains an incredibly vast and complex history. The center of the axis party during World War II, Germany has a history that is bloody to say the least. Munich in particular became the home of the Nazi Party in 1930, the base for Hitler’s schemes to imprison and annihilate those who opposed the Nazi regime. Dachau was the original concentration camp for these “political prisoners.”

I recently met with Lance Jewett–a TCU sophomore and CR9 alum–over dinner at the BLUU to talk with him about his experience in Munich. Unlike myself, Lance loves history and finds most of it genuinely fascinating. He knew a good deal about WWII before visiting Munich and was still overwhelmed during his time at Dachau. I wondered if his experience was one in which the students and Dr. P conversed and explored openly or if it was more personal. He confirmed that it was indeed a very private exploration. The suffering that took place in Dachau years ago became very real to the students once they were actually there. It seems like its the difference between watching a video of a rollercoaster and actually riding one… And as I listened to Lance, I found that his experience was definitely an emotional rollercoaster. He explained how he couldn’t grasp that such evil could have actually occurred in such a way as it did in Dachau. In one instance inside the refurbished concentration camp, he went off on his own and found a narrow hallway that ended with a wall… There was an opening in a corner between the wall and the ground, and it became clear to Lance that this was a place where prisoners were taken to be shot… Their blood would drain through the opening and their bodies later disposed of. I could tell this had been a very chilling experience for him, as he described as best he could how he felt when he stood alone against the wall of the hallway, as if he himself were in the place of a Dachau prisoner.

Lance recommended that, throughout CR10, I write down my experiences and feelings as soon as I get the chance. He has gained a lot from re-reading notes he took last year, whether it was a quick note of his current emotional state or a description of an experience, like his at Dachau. He also recommended I brush up on my knowledge of WWII (I agree…) and go into everything with an open and curious mind. I am so thrilled for this adventure though still a bit intimidated by such an experience as I know Dachau will be. I know there is more to be explored in Munich than Dachau alone (like castles and yummy German food!!), but my mind always returns to the concentration camps upon thinking about this city. This summer, I hope I am truly able to keep an open mind and an eagerness to learn from both the beauty and the horror of Munich, Germany.