Friday, December 31, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 25: A good attitude

I'm trying to imagine what beautiful thing could come from 2 hours of sleep, a 5:30am wake-up, a walk leading to a bus ride, leading to a train ride, on to a security line, to a flight cancellation, to a re-booking, to several delays and plane switches, to a flight to Arkansas, to a delay, to a flight to Denver, to another cancellation, to a long long wake in a blizzard, to a long long wait on the runway, to a de-icing, to a 22 minute flight, to lost luggage... you get the picture...
I think I'll go with the random people connections I had on the last flight.  Everyone was just laughing because of the hilarity (and terror) of the day's travel.  We ChaCha-ed a bunch of random questions while waiting nearly an hour on the runway for our 22 minute flight.  Such questions like "Why am I here?", "What's the point of this?", and "What harsh chemicals are used in plane de-icer?" were posed.
Anyway, it's nice when people in seemingly bad situations still have good attitudes and can have fun.  Pretty encouraging and beautiful.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 24: When siblings become friends.

Tim and I went to the Chicago Art Institute on Wednesday.  It pretty much confirmed that Tim is the most hilarious and wonderful brother.  It was a sweet time laughing at modern art, seeing some of the classics and singing the Bed Intruder Song.  I really really like my family.  I think I'll keep them around.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 23: Comfort Plus

On Tuesday, Annie took off work, and we went mattress shopping for most of the day.  It's hard to get a more relaxing day of shopping than testing our brand new mattresses. :)  But even more so I loved just how comfortable I was hanging out.  When I visit people, I don't necessarily like to be entertained all the time.  Sometimes I like to just tag along.  It's nice when you are comfortable enough with someone that you can do that.  That's it. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 22: You are what you eat

So on Monday I left Houston and headed on to Chicago to spend a few days with my brother and sister-in-law.  Annie (the sis-in-law) decided she was going to make an "Indian feast" for dinner.  Now these words are exciting enough on their own, but when they come from Annie, you know that you are in for an incredible meal.  You see, Annie LOVES to cook and serve people good, wholesome food.  She didn't go to cooking school or anything.  In fact she is an awesome film editor and works really hard at that.  But she is really really passionate about food, which is so cool to watch and learn from.  I just love when people (adults especially) can get excited about things.  So many people settle for so much and don't try to better themselves or get the most out of life by putting a little bit of work into it.  beautiful.

Monday, December 27, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 21: Ben

Yesterday I said goodbye to Ben (my brother) again.  He is headed to Ecuador for the next 3+ months to lead mountain trips for Summit Adventures.  He is awesome.  He is sososo stinking encouraging to me and gets me like nobody else can.  This post is dedicated to my buddy, Benji.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 20: This is (sorta) Christmas themed.

It is so not even a question, I love presents.  Forget the ol', "I like giving gifts more than getting them" story!   I love giving them AND I love getting them.  I think it is just a super cool way to show love if it is not abused--as with any love language. 
So, what I am saying is, "give me lots of gifts.  Let them rain from the heavens.  I can has presents?"
Just kidding, but really.  If you ever run across someone that is a gift-person, don't be creeped out if they buy you random things at the Dollar Tree because they think it is funny... also, don't underestimate the power of doing the same for them.  It doesn't take a lot.  Just like giving a hug to a physical touch kind of person can reinvent their day.  Think about how to best love different people and you may jsut discover something beautiful.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 18: Emma

I have the best and most beautiful niece in the world.
"Crusty the Snowman is a jolly happy soul!" -Emmie

Thursday, December 23, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 17: Don't be a pig

So, my brother-in-law thought the perfect Christmas Break activity would be hunting feral pigs on the Texas countryside... Although the alternative of shopping for winter boots for Grandma Opal sounded like fun, I decided to join the men on their wild excursion.  Turned out the vast majority of the day was not so wild and entailed me curled up in the fetal position asleep on the floor of multiple hunting stands.  But, the day livened up when we called in locals Jeremy and Garrett along with their 7 lucky hunting dogs (best Speicher family pizza night movie ever:
As the story goes, we followed the dogs around as the scoured every last inch of the woods, and when they got to the last little section, blam-o!  The dogs found a pig, brutality (involving my dad, a knife and the repeated hollering of the phrase "coldpig" at the dogs) followed and we hauled the pig back for processing.
What could possibly be beautiful about that situation???  That is what I have been sitting here trying to think of for a good few days and here's what I came up with:
Growing up on a farm, my parents taught us kids how important it is to respect the lives that animals sacrifice for us to eat.  Nothing quite wakes you up to that reality as seeing an animal be hunted and killed.  I had to hold back tears as the dogs tore into the pig's legs.  I wasn't disgusted by the blood; I was just sad to see the pig in such fear.  True, Disney has taught me to personify the feelings of animals, but Simba and Nemo aside, a pig is still a creature designed to show humans a piece of God's character in whatever abstract way may apply.  It is cool to be able to appreciate what God has made, recognize it as so, and treat it with respect and an appropriate reverence for its sacredness.  That reminder is pretty beautiful.

I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food. -Bruce, Finding Nemo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 16: Constancy

I am trying to find beauty in the unusual, but an airport at 5am a few days before Christmas is just scary.  I did get to watch the sunrise over the clouds about half an hour after take-off, though.  I'll include a picture once I get some motivation to upload the pictures from my camera.  I swore that I wouldn't include things like sunsets, flowers and double-rainbows, but sometimes (virtually always, actually) they are just so breathtaking.  It is incredible that something that happens faithfully everyday can still be such a gift and so beautiful.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 15: Words of Affirmation

Yesterday was my dad's 53rd birthday and also the day of his going away party after nearly 20 years as a St Joe ER doc.  I started off a little wary of going to the party considering I would be the only person under 30 and a bit self conscious of my vagabond life plans not measuring up to the expectations of a room full of medical field-types.  But, I decided to go anyway because 1) I had already bought a dress for the occasion, 2) I never turn down a meal at the Corndance, and 3) I would be supporting my dad in the process.
The party started off a bit awkward.  Forced, choppy conversations and empty introductions began to set the tone for the evening.  Beside that, my dress wouldn't stop sticking to my tights, I had a huge zit on my face, and I was dizzily hungry.  But, I figured I would suck it up and use the situation to work on my polite chit-chat skills, which paid off.  I ended up talking to the lady beside me (very possibly the next youngest in the room) about environmental education and camping for a while and a retired doctor about photography and Africa after that.  It was actually a lot of fun. 
My favorite and the most beautiful part of the evening, though, came when my dad gave his goodbye speech.  For those of you that don't know Dr. Bruce Wayne Speicher, I would compare my dad to a giant grizzly bear.  He is a large, usually quiet man with strength in both his gentleness and power.  His hugs are the absolute best because you are completely engulfed and protected, but he also somehow has the power to scare the goobles out of you when he is mad.  As he delivered his speech, his gentleness radiated through the room.  He spoke of how proud he was of the work he had accomplish while working at St Joe, how he treasures the friendships he made despite disagreements among the staff, and most importantly, how he couldn't have done any of it without the love and support of his wife, my mom.
It was so sweet and heartfelt and really made me so proud to have the parents I have.  The Speichers are not known for having impeccable communication skills, humility or showing of affection, but when we do, it is from the deepest, most sacred place of the heart.  It was really good to see and a great reminder of what is important about a family and relationships.  If only for a few choice moments, I am very. very glad that I went to that party and was able to recognize its beauty.

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” -St Francis de Sales

Monday, December 20, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Days 8-14: Finals Week and Recovery

So, I am very aware that I severely slacked over the past week.  I did however continue to meditate on what I found beautiful each day even if I did not write it down here, so I will give you the highlights.  I would write more, but I would rather start anew and give today's actual writing its due.

December 13: Day 8: The Silver Lining!
I booked my flight for Colorado Springs this day!  I can't wait to be surrounded by mountains, hang out with old and new friends and introduce more kids to creative problem-solving with a Destination ImagiNation camp at the US Air Force Academy!!!

December 14: Day 9: Brain to the Grindstone
 God granted me the wonderful ability to memorize completely meaningless things--title, artist, date and history of 45 Renaissance art pieces, for example--in a very short amount of time.  On Tuesday I used this ability to kill my test for the next day.  Our culture celebrates talents such as athleticism and vocal skills.... I celebrate my memory.  Whew!

December 15: Day 10: theFinal theCanvas
As I have mentioned before, my main facet of church I attend is a laid-back, yet ruthlessly challenging bible study/conversation-based group called theCanvas.  Wednesday was our last meeting of the semester, and it was just really nice.  I've mentioned this before, but Canvas isn't kitschy; it isn't churchy; it isn't a free coffee break between studying.  It is hard to define apart from the stories that are made there.  Stories like atheists feeling welcome to sit at round tables, a leader admitting he learns as much from us as we do from him and inspiration being born before our eyes.  And, I only have one more semester to pour into it.

December 16: Day 11: Free at Last

The semester is over and I feel THIS GOOD!!!!

December 17: Day 12: Food for Thought
I am very thankful that I grew up with a basic knowledge of what constitutes good food and what constitutes bad food.  I lived on an organic farm for most of my life and many of my beliefs about food are deeply rooted.  I watched the movie Food, Inc. on Friday, which exposes the nastiness of the American food industry.  I am proud to say that although the statistics given were startling, I did not feel myself scared into changing everything about my diet.  Usually when people all of a sudden jolt themselves into a different lifestyle, it causes them to crash back to their old way of living just as hard.  I am taking a couple things into deeper consideration, but not in an unhealthy way.  I already make choices to eat more healthy and local, organic foods, but now I will try little by little to see what else I can do and what practices I can sustain.
this picture severely creeps me out.

December 18: Day 13: Growing Up
After seriously almost falling asleep driving from Bloomington to Bourbon, I jumped right back in the car to drive to South Bend and meet my Aunt and cousins for dinner at the Corndance Tavern. (Eat there it will change your life.)  Then we went to an art supply store and TJ Maxx to let my cousins pick out their Christmas gifts from my parents.  It was really nice to be able to relate more to my aunt now that I am getting older and to relate more to my cousins now that they are getting older.  It is interesting how that works... Like with many relationships, we seem to all be trying to play catch-up, but all along, without us knowing it, through investment we are growing closer all the time.

December 19: Day 14: JEANNA!
This day I got to hang out with the wonderful Jeanna Sell.  We have been best friends since fourth grade and she one of the first people I felt comfortable being completely goofy and weird around.  We watched Despicable Me together and it was like we were back in fourth grade.  It was wonderful and hilarious--both the movie and our friendship.
circa forever ago

Sunday, December 12, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 7: Change of Plans

Yesterday, the plan was to go to a Christmas party at my work friends' house where we were going to dress up in fancy clothes and be sophisticated.  But then I decided I would rather go to a more casual super awesome fun Christmas party near Lake Monroe with a bunch of my others friends.  But then by the time it got around to it, I realized I was still tired from the Christmas party the previous night and the weather was supposed to get hazardous.  Considering I have 3 8-year-old tires on my tiny truck, I didn't feel like chancing my life on the curvy Southern Indiana roads in the middle of the night in a snow storm.  So, Colleen, Katie and I decided to spend the night inside, eat fine cheese, drink some cowboy wine and watch Shrek 4.  Plan 3 was going along great until one of our other friends decided to come over for a study break.
The night turned into the four of us sitting around the kitchen table reading our own poetry or writing to each other for at least an hour.  It then turned into us talking about anything and everything for several more hours, adding another friend around 1 am and talking some more.  Finally around 4 am we hunkered down in the living room to watch Shrek 4 where I ended up falling asleep shortly after the opening credits.
It was a great night.
Don't be an ogre; be open to change!  Plans can be a lot of fun, but when you let yourself deviate every once in a while, you might surprise yourself with something really, really beautiful.

"Well, folks, it looks like we're up chocolate creek without a popsicle stick." -Gingy, Shrek 2

Saturday, December 11, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 6: Smoke Rings

Friday was our Canvas (bible study/church thing) Christmas party.  It was super fun complete with white elephant gifts, a massage train (haha can you feel the love?) and the hit if the party, the homemade pretzels Brian and I made (joke).  But, perhaps my favorite moment of the night happened after many of the guests left.  For some quirky, random reason, people that go to the Canvas seem to really love to smoke pipes... Gandolf-style, old man-style, Frosty-style... it doesn't matter.  So, at about 11 pm, everyone left at the party piled into the clammy garage to take in the sweet melodious aromas of motor oil, deteriorating cardboard and Joe's Blend tobacco.
I just find this so absolutely wonderful and hilarious.  I hate few things more than when churches do things a certain way based entirely on tradition or don't do things based entirely on taboo.  True, my grandparents might be mortified at the sight of the local youth group crammed in a garage blowing smoke rings, but at the same time there is something so incredible about a group of 20-somethings choosing to laugh, talk, and live life together in the name of Jesus Christ on a Friday night in Collegetown, Indiana. 
As silly of imagery as it is, I still find it quite beautiful. 

"What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing.  It also depends on what kind of person you are." -CS Lewis

Friday, December 10, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 5: Leading Lady

So on Thursday night, a group of friends and I got together to watch the best of all chick flicks, The Holiday.  One of the characters in the film is a British woman, Iris, that has been in a toxic relationship with the self-absorbed Jasper that doesn't show the same kind of commitment toward her as she feels to him.  She is completely enamored with him and measures herself against his impossible standards.  Shortly after giving him a Christmas gift (and not receiving one in return), it is announced at their work Christmas party that Jasper has just gotten engaged to another woman.  Iris is devastated and decides to run from her troubles by participating in a home-exchange program where she trades houses with a rich LA woman for the Christmas holiday.
It is here that she meets Arthur Abbot, one of the great Hollywood writers from the golden age of film.  The odd couple starts a friendship where in their own way they are able to help the other recognize their own worth.  In one scene Arthur explains that there are two types of women in a story.

Arthur: Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend. 
Iris:You're so right. You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake!

How often do we find ourself in the same position, taking a backseat to what is best for our lives out of fear of change or uncertainty or letting go...?  On the contrary, how incredible are those moments when we just know that we are in the right place--not in control, but not thrown to the wolves either?  Not safe, but undeniably good.  I think, once you pursue that state of being and feel and recognize it, then you begin to crave it and soon live it.  Each person is made intentionally and beautifully with boundless potential to have a fulfilled, purposeful life.  If you can't be the Lead in your own life, then from what perspective is your story being told?
I'm trying not to finish this with cheesy inspirational gab about God and life and Oscar Wilde quotes... since that is near to impossible, I'll just leave it at that.
Be the Lead in your own life...
... because that is pretty beautiful.

"It's Christmas Eve, and we are going to go celebrate being young and being alive." -Miles, The Holiday

Thursday, December 9, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 4: Company

There are two types of company.  There's a company of body and a company of heart.  Last night I was able to have both.  Even though I had to work on a group paper through online (seriously, who decided a group paper was good idea?!), my friend Hannah came over to talk and hang out after church.  A lot of the time was spent with me sitting on the couch working on my paper and Hannah either trying to study for nurse school or coloring in our Christmas coloring book.  The only sound I was making was the tapping of computer keys and her, the soft rubbing of colored pencil on cheap paper.  It was good to just have someone else there, ya know?  It's like when you find someone that you can silently ride in the car with and not feel awkward about it, or you can gab and laugh all the way to South Carolina.  It's one in the same.  Company of body.
We did eventually get to talk and were able to just be really honest and open.  We realized that we have had a lot of similar life experiences and are able to relate in a lot of ways that we haven't found with other people.  It's definitely one of those kindred spirit kind of things that can't really be explained apart from God.  Company of heart.
And I guess that's pretty beautiful.


“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

-CS Lewis

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 2: Sanctuary

I'd be lying (I mean really, really lying) if I said I'm not a messy person.  There's usually a labyrinth of clothes on my bedroom floor, old National Geographics strewn across every surface and I don't even want to know what's under my bed... And typically, I'm okay with that.  If I don't want to tidy up and there's no real reason to, I'm just as well leaving sleeping sweaters where they lie.  But, occasionally I will be struck with the inspiration to clean, and I try to take advantage of such rare and fleeting impulses while they last.
I had such an inkling the other day, so I started the long, arduous process of bedroom archeology.  Now, my room isn't spick and span quite yet, but most of the clothes are now picked up and the desk that was once crammed into my walk-in closet is now set free and already littered in Nat Geos next to my bed.  What I love about it, though, (and here's my point) is that my closet is now a clean, quiet little cave that I can hide away in at anytime.  It is the perfect little sanctuary to think, write, sing or pray.
I think it is so important to have some sort of consistent sanctuary in your life--somewhere to get away and escape the messiness and just be still. Somewhere far from the world and judgmental eyes.  Now this can be a location, an activity or a state of mind, but it is all about just learning how to slow down, breathe and pray.
And that is beautiful.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Matthew 6:6 KJV

Monday, December 6, 2010

60 Days of Beauty: Day 1: Warmth

Bloomington is currently sleeping under a blanket of snow.  This means insulated boots, snowball fights, (snowball shaped welts) and lots of general mirth and merriment.  Yesterday, my friend had a birthday hike out at Griffy Lake where an eclectic troop of college kids traipsed through the snowy woods in search of the elusive pavilion that promised a well-deserved break--complete with cake balls, hot tea and cucumber sandwiches.  We finally made it to our destination and were very thankful for the tasty vittles, but when all was said an done, we were all still pretty glad to be headed back to the cars and out of the bitter cold.  Several people didn't have gloves or hats and most had less than adequate footwear.  Perhaps it was my imagination, but I swear I heard murmurs of frostbite as we re-entered the parking lot after the hike.  In long and short, it was cold; we were cold.
After everyone had the chance to go home and thaw out, a lot of the group made their way through the snow over to the Hinkle Place (my apartment) for some good old study and conversation.  As the couches and living room floor filled with people, the apartment filled with warmth.  The cold seemed to melt away due to the glow of joy radiating from a bubbling melody of laughter, Nat King Cole Christmas and the steady beat of fingers tap tap tapping on the keys of overly-priced laptops.
Isn't it beautiful when a whole room can be filled with such different kinds of people, but the mere fact that they are all human connects them and makes something special?  There is such an energy created just by being around other people and accepting and loving them for their differences; it quite literally can warm you from the inside out.
And, that is something beautiful.

"The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.
-Oscar Wilde

60 Days of Beauty: Intro

There is a group of people associated with my old church (Nappanee Missionary Church) that is doing something called the "60 Days of Beauty Project."  They will be posting daily about something beautiful that they witnessed from the day before.  There seems to be so much negativity around us everyday, doesn't there?  So, why not choose to focus on the beautiful things we see? 
I've decided to join in on this project too.  Granted, I am bound to miss some days, but I'm really going to try to stick to it.
For the next 60 days, feel free to join me, or just stop in every once in a while to get a glimpse of what I'm seeing.  Deep breath, and go.