I don't like to begin any blog post with a negative statement, but I don't know any other way to begin this story.
I'm three weeks deep in my second year at Cal Poly and already chasing my load of homework/studying while desperately praying that God would attach just a few mores hours at the end of each day. Between classes, my internship, said homework/studying, blogging, and spending much-needed time with my friends, adjusting to the abrupt transition from summer relaxation to academic hustle and bustle has been exactly that.
Oh, and I'm going vegan. Last week, I removed animal products from my diet in hopes of a) simply switching things up (I like change and variety and excitement... and food) and b) on a deeper level, truly testing out a fully plant-based lifestyle. Read more about all that here. After about three days, I'd pretty much made up my mind in favor of sticking with veganism long-term, but I reminded myself that three days is just not long enough for my body to adjust to a relatively new set of eating habits. I was thrilled and fueled by the absence of bloating, fatigue, and dietary restrictions, and couldn't wait for the week to be over so I could just make the switch then and there - no questions asked, no turning back.
But school work started piling up and my To-Do list grew longer and longer. I was sacrificing sleep to make time for shortening that list, memorizing statistics terms, and reading chapters upon chapters for History and Journalism classes. Of course, anxiety and stress tagged right along and stole even more sleep. I noticed that I wasn't as hungry anymore, which was a foreign concept to me - Hungry is my name. What's going on? Is this a side-effect of veganism? I wondered. It can't be. Have you seen how much food vegans can polish off? My confusion probably created more stress. It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?
Everything around me triggered sensitivity spikes - if friends or family wouldn't respond to a text quick enough, if teachers assigned extra reading or a pop-quiz, if a distracted pedestrian stepped into the bike lane without first looking both ways. I knew I needed to understand what was taking control of me so that I could calm down and rejuvenate. Touchy-tempers, anxiety, and mood-swings are not who I am.
On Monday morning, right after my workout and just before heading out the door, I opened up "Jesus Calling" to read that day's devotional. "Remember that joy is not dependent on your circumstances," read the first line. I looked around my room, actually suspicious of hidden cameras or microphones somewhere documenting the past few days of my life. OKAY THIS IS WAY TOO ACCURATE, GOD. YOU'RE SCARING ME. Book slammed shut, face buried in my pillow, I was disappointed in myself for forgetting that slice of God's promise (yes, His promise is more delicious than your favorite pie). I prayed for God to work on my heart, to restore the precious positivity I thrived off of only a few days ago, and let the first line of that day's devotional make itself comfortable in my heart and mind.
And with that, God went to work. He reshaped my attitude, cleaned up my mindset, and rearranged my priorities. "Your midterm, your homework, your expectations, your busy weekend - all of it - give it to me. I want to take care of it because I know what to do with it all. I love you Haley, but you don't know what you're doing when it comes to this stuff," I heard Him say.
I'm writing this in my journalism notebook somewher eover Colorado, and my previous flight had been delayed a few times. As if I weren't stressed out enough, I'd now have to race to my connecting flight. Hoping to spark up some conversation to ease my worried mind (it tends to worry, if you haven't noticed), I leaned over to the man next to me and said, "These delays can be a little inconvenient, huh?" to which he responded instantly, but with a relaxation I'd been longing for for almost a week, "Well, you can't worry about what you can't control." Later on, I overheard him say he was scheduled for a connection flight even earlier than mine. HA. At that point, I figured it was in my best interest to to just shush up and sink quietly and humbly back into my seat.
The more I allow life's little "inconveniences" to take up space in my mind, the less I allow myself to enjoy, to rejuvenate, to taste, to sleep, to smile. This is not a lesson I learned solely by subtracting animal products from my diet, or by reading "Jesus Calling" every morning and praying for peace, or by watching YouTube videos on everything from vegan recipes to living in the moment. This is a lesson I learned by listening to my mind, my heart, and my body, by spending more time deep in God's word and presence and love, by humbling myself enough to admit that I need help.
God has curriculum individually designed for each one of us, so the ways in which I came to this realization might be different from the ways in which you already have or will, and that's why I'm sharing this. My experiences with stress do turn out positive at the end, at the finish line celebration, but I'm making it a goal to start the celebration at the beginning of the race and never let it end. *insert "life's too short" quote here*. Just like the guy on the plane said, why should I worry about it, why give it my irreplaceable time and energy if there's nothing I can do about it?
Embrace it. Soak it up. The valleys we walk through are full of opportunities. When I find myself traversing through those valleys with my eyes closed and head down, I blind myself. I inadvertently ignore the abundance of blessings with which that valley and every other peak and river in life are bursting.
Stress seems inevitable. That's truth - I know. But read that sentence again. It seems inevitable. Talk to God, confess to Him your fears. Laugh with your friends and family because that's what they're there for. Eat good food - potatoes were meant to baked, PB & J to be the best of friends, and fruits and vegetables to be your number one source of fuel.
Life is abundant and beaming and bursting and glowing and that's exactly how God designed it for you and me. He doesn't want us to miss out on any of that, so He tells us to find comfort in Him and to bring to Him our worries and fears. When we surrender those, the clouds move away and the sun takes its place high up in the sky. SOAK IT UP :)