Dear Thirties

Dear Thirties,

You forgot to tell me about Mrs. Aging. I didn’t know she was going to come after me! She has always left me alone until now. I really don’t know what to do with her, should I embrace her or tell her to go away, ignore her phone calls? She now has Mrs. Wisdom sending me messages which I don’t mind. In fact, I very much enjoy her conversations. She likes to take me out for coffee and reminds me about the beautiful things that I have learned in life. Mrs. Wisdom tells me she will leave me alone when I ignore her but Mrs. Aging will not tolerate it. I have promised them both that I would take care of my self, I also admit I still keep in touch with Kid Youth.

“Everyone my age still hangs out with Kid Youth, even when they have their own kids! My generation doesn’t want to kick him out of the house. They say he can stay as long as he wants.”

Mrs. Wisdom tells me I will miss out on life if I keep hanging out with Kid Youth, “There is so much new things to see and experience, plus you will get to know me more.” She smiles and sips her tea. She loves her tea, she tells me her favorite is Chai, but also enjoys Passion tea. I am happy to hear she likes to mix it up.

Thirties, I am still confused on who you are, even though we have been together for three years, I really don’t know where you want to take me. Mrs. Aging says you just care about the clock ticking, and making money or buying a house.  But I know you aren’t so shallow, you are deeper than that. I am writing you to tell you, I am listening to what you are saying. I understand Kid Youth will always be fun to talk to, but we can’t be best friends like we use to. Sometimes I gotta go and hang out with Mr. Responsibility. He’s not that fun but I always feel great when I listen to him. Plus, he pays my bills and keeps me from doing stupid stuff, like giving up on paying off my debt.

Anyways, I am excited about the plans that you’ve shared with me of what you would like to do in the upcoming years. I really wish Mr. Time would slow down. He never seems to take a break.

Please write back. I know we won’t be together forever and I would really like to get to know you. Tell Miss. Twenties I am very thankful for her and all the fun adventures we had.

Until next time,

M.

Youth or Reality?


I admit, I held on to my childhood as long as I could. It’s been a struggle allowing myself to growing up and now I have entered in the phase called aging. I still see myself as a young lady, although you have to be over 50 to refer to me as such. I often get the question if I have children, I think to myself, “Do I look old enough to have children?!” *Crying emoji.

I am now understanding why make-up was invited, I am noticing my face change and often wonder if there is anything I can do to prevent my fate. How do I stop time? It took me years to find myself beautiful, and now its fading away right before my eyes. I should have been more thankful when I was a teenager, instead of being worried about pimples. 

I am a deep creative, I shouldn’t care or spend time on such shallow things. As a person whose twenties was documented on social media, I can scroll through my profile photos and witness the camera get further and further away.

I am a sucker for looking at the past with the soft filter on.

2001, The world was changing, America had faced a turning point and I, myself was facing my own end of the world moment. I had been dumped by a boy who I thought I would spend my life with. He was the one who told me my dreams were impossible, and now he was no longer in my life to talk me out of being who I wanted to become. I was left alone with my faith in God, a few friends, and my art. I went to college because there was nothing else to do. The plan was to get married and have children right after high school, since I had no potential future husbands in line, I went to college to become a junk mail graphic designer. It wasn’t until I started to believe what God said, “All things are possible for those who believe” did my life turn into something better than I could have planned.

I often took the song lyric from Creep by Radiohead pretty seriously in my twenties to help me make any major decisions.

The line, “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here” was my compass. I often felt out-of-place, so feeling in place was very noticeable.

When I got my first professional job as an intern with Warner Brother, I was asked what I wanted to do after the program. I knew I didn’t belong with the department as a graphic designer, so I told them I was going back to school to become an editor.  When I moved to Australia to edit with Hillsong, I often grew home sick. I would answer the Radiohead song, “Yes. God sent me, I belong here.” It was only when the job fell through did I take that as a sign to go back home. When I moved back to California it took me months to figure out the next step. I would cry out to God kicking and screaming that I don’t belong in San Bernardino. When I was going to move to Vancouver, I sat in the coffee shop realizing, it wasn’t the place for me. I had a life back home that was full of grace, I returned to my old job in a new position as the video department director. When I met this deep mysterious boy with long hair I had no idea if I belonged with him but knew I enjoyed his company. It was when he comforted me during a hard season, I knew he was who I belonged with.

Every obstacle, struggle, and victory is indeed worth the annoying lines on my face. I may be aging, for I always was, but it doesn’t mean I can’t keep my youthful heart that still believes, all things are possible.

A new phase of life.

So I’ve been in this stage where I really have no idea what to do, Jesus and Spiderman’s uncle both agree when they said, “To much is given, much is required.” It’s true, lots of work is required.

 

Everyday, put in time

When our landlords approved Gus and I to be the next renters, we were in shock we were really going to have a place of our own. Four years ago I said yes to a movie invite and now I’m signing papers to rent a place with this boy! Its been a fun/growing experience dating Gus and now here we are given this empty house to make it our home. I do admit, I freaked out.. what did I do!? I was fine at my parent’s house.. I know, I know, they can’t take care of me forever, its time to grow up! I was overwhelmed with the challenge, I’ve never been good at house chores, I can lead a team but put a pan and stove in front of me and I’m clueless. I do appreciate living in 2016, I can youtube how to clean a stove and get advice from someone across the country.

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My new neighbors keep asking me if we’ve moved in yet. Its been a month and we’re still moving in. It’s been a big job making our new place feel like home with nothing. Every lunch break I’ve been adding more to the place, and its starting to feel more like our home, even with our two chairs and a lamp.

There’s no time to be afraid or pretend

At work, every creative meeting since 2007 someone has suggested, “Lets rent a projector.. what about a LED screen, -how much would that cost us??? This year the same thing was asked but instead I approached the question with some faith instead of with impossibility.  I’m going to keep looking until I find a deal. I called lots of places, and asked friends who know of others who have gotten a screen at their church. I managed to track down a guy who helped Hillsong LA get their LED screen.

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The day the insulation was completed we had service, which meant, the video department needed to put content on those screens – but what?? We all had a million questions and no one to ask them but each other. I remember looking at the screens and wondering what am I gonna do with these? At one point I asked one of our interns what should we put on the side panels? I was disparate for ideas! She gave a simple answer which ended up being a great idea, place welcome graphics.  Adding LED screens to a church service can be a fine line of distraction and entertainment. We weren’t sure how the church would react to it, after all, LED screen is a very modern addition to the church experience.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThere was lots to work out; size for the graphics, transitions between each part of service, motion graphics that wouldn’t make people feel sick, how large the font should be – there was no other way of figuring this out but to go live. We couldn’t wait to be told what to do, we just had to figure it out. We didn’t have time to be afraid or to pretend like we had the answers, the whole team was learning this together.

 

Pray and working together

With both of these large challenges I realized early on during the process I was given a big job for me to do on my own. I needed God’s wisdom, courage, and brain power to tackle the exciting new phases I was crossing into in my personal life and professional life.

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No one in the video department had any experience with LED screens. We had to learn new  software, hardware and new equipment. We had to work closely with the audio, lights, and worship department. Together, we’ve been helping each other and to this day, we are still trying out new formats and smoothing production.

When it comes to doing house stuff, I remind myself of the success I’ve had at work and how God has helped me. If I can figure out how to work an LED wall, I can put up curtains and take out the trash. Although I must admit, I had to ask my dad for help with the curtains. haha. I don’t mind asking for help, just ask the video team. Its when we work together are we strong and great!

One thing is for sure, God helps with every challenge and makes us able.

Reaction to Fashion 


 There comes a time to not just embrace adulthood by paying your bills on time but to look the part. I’ve always had a love hate relationship with fashion. I have been through many embarrassing phases, but for the most part I’ve always return to jeans, t-shirt and sandals.

The wake up call  

I woke up with the bright idea to take my passport photo. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked good enough. When I paid the newly trained Walgreens photo taker, I prayed the photo would be something to be proud of as I traveled the international boarders. When I opened my photo I was horrified at how gross my hair, make-up and for some reason how my neck came out. I couldn’t understand what was happening, is this my new reality? I use to take such great photos!

The next day I booked a hair appointment and bought a fashion book at my favorite store, anthropology.

Sick of jeans! 

I’ve been wearing jeans everyday since I turned 25. Working in production, I have to move things around, which means bending down a lot. (The low waisted jeans was a horrible trend that I’m grateful phased out.) I’ve always dressed to work with a just in case I gotta bend down outfit, leaving me with limited options. One day getting ready for work I looked though my closet for a skirt and leggings.

Walking around the office I wasn’t sure if I was wearing the right outfit for my position. “What if my co workers sees me as incapable of being a boss became I’m dress like a girl.”

Alice Von Hildebrand writes the importance of femininity in the world in her book A man and woman: a divine invention. The world is in need of our heart in the work place. I don’t need to ignore my femininity in order to become successful.


With that in mind, I changed the way I was thinking about dressing at work. Love, style, life taught me I can dress like a woman, be comfortable and be modest all at the same time.

Alice Von Hildebrand says mystery makes a woman even more beautiful.

(More on that book later.)

Reaction to good fashion 

Reading Love, Style, Life was fun, it made me feel cool and most of all possible I could be fashionable like a Parisian. The most liberating information was to find clothing that you look good in and not fall into fashion trends. I admit I was following a fashion trend that kept making me look fat in photos!

With my new empowers knowledge I went to the mall and bought some new clothes. I studied the photos of author Garance Doré make up, watched YouTube for how to’s.

Store people were complementing me, one cashier even said, “you look so well put together.” My fiancé took me out on a date the moment I changed out of my yoga pants and into my new cute outfit, haha, and my coworkers were noticed my efforts – and I work with men who notice nothing! “Hey you colored your hair.” -They all felt proud for noticing. Suddenly I was walking with confidence and a new found glory. I even had the confidence to talk in front of people at our staff meeting.

Conclusion

Its nice to put it effort in appearance, and to learn how to do so. For some girls, (like my sister Sarah) they always seems to look good, but for a woman of comfort like myself, it takes a bad passport photo to get my attention.

It’s fun to look good, now I think I’m ready for my new passport photo.

Here is my test shot after I read the chapter. “How to take a good photo.”  

Aging Hipster

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There’s this scene at the end of Angus (1995) where the nerd gets his moment to dance with the poplar girl in school. I remember watching it when I was in middle school and falling in love with the song they danced to. The dance was the climax of the movie with the classic speech and clap at the end. Angus tells off the popular bully! Every high schooler day dream!

After watching Angus in middle school, I was left wondering who the artist to the prom song was. It wasn’t until Napster came on the scene did I finally find it was called, Fade Into You by Mazzy Star.

I was a late arrival to Mazzy Star. By the early 2000’s most people were interested in boy bands. Artist that used real instruments like the acoustic guitar, tambourine, organ and harmonica were going out of style. But I didn’t care, she was new to me. Her albums became my personal alone writing in my journal music.

Last month, out of the blue, rumors of Mazzy’s come back was all over twitter. I was surprised so many other people loved her music. I told my boyfriend I know what I want for Christmas – Concert tickets! I knew this was a dream come true. For one, I finally have a boyfriend to go to a concert with!

When we got to the concert, it was like a reunion of late twenty and thirty somethings! Everyone carried evidence they were from the 90’s- Doc Martin shoes, plaid, leather biker jackets, jean jackets, long hair. I realized I’m apart of the aging hipsters. I saw a post from a kid on Instagram, “Waiting for my parents to get back from their concert.”

The acoustics of every instrument including her voice sound amazing. At one point I stood in the hallway because it reminded me the sound of prom.

Aging can sometimes be hard. We’re told younger is better, immaturity is fun, and you have all the time in the world to figure it out. But being thirty is not as bad as I thought. In fact, it’s pretty awesome. All the hard decisions from my twenties are paying off. The new challenge is to keep focus and diligent towards the goal.

I was motivated by my fellow Mazzy Star fans, to stay confident in being strange, and embrace the different stages of life. Though mostly everyone in that concert hall was now married, had children, and was done day dreaming of their 5th period crush, I witnessed them hold the person they dreamt of when they were younger tight. Part of the prize of getting older is maturing and adding new people in our life to love.

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I asked Gus why do we enjoy concerts so much, it’s just people on a stage? He answered, “We enjoy sharing the experience together, it makes us feel a part of what’s happening on stage.”

I was encouraged to remain hopeful no matter how old I get.. like my favorite band getting back together again.

Enjoy the scene from Angus.

Turning 30

A long time ago I was a child.
But a moment ago I forgot I was an adult.
When I dream, I am 8 years old having adventures with my cousins.
When I am awake, I am 29 years old sitting in meetings, drinking my coffee and having small talk with grown ups.
I wonder if buying a house, getting married and birthing a child will make me feel grown up.
As a kid, I pictured living on a tv set with bright lights and laughing tracks to follow my every joke.
I’ve always been in a rush to move time forward.
The editor in me says, “transition, edit, cut, lets move this along.”
But just when life feels slow, it moves fast in to the past.
When I drive towards the sunset, I am reminded there is so much to life I still don’t know.
I traveled the world but yet there is still so much to see.
The questions of, “what if” & “if only’s” are fading away.
My thoughts about life are becoming, “Thank goodness.”
I’m leaving my 20’s confident
and yet entering 30 very nervous.
Maybe its time I wear shoulder pads, women suits and high heels.
It seems, the hardest part is deleting my child like thoughts about being a grown up.
I may enter the future with a blank canvas, but that just means God has a new painting to create.

Blog: Monica Opener

Growing up I always felt different from my friends. When the show Felicity first aired I was a freshman in high school. Hearing her thoughts and watching her journey through college I knew it was her life that I wanted. She was meeting new people, making new friends and discovering a new city. Her admiration for Ben and friendship with Noel made me dream of a time when I too would be a grown up. She was a girl who had deep thoughts, was honest to the world she lived in and desired to grow as a person.

I often look at my own life as a TV show. I the protagonist desire to reach a goal but am faced with conflict, it is up to me to make the right decisions to achieve a happy ending. What I’ve learned over the past few months is that the ending is just the beginning. A good story takes the main character on a journey they never thought of, a story that is full of surprises and twist, we relate to this because its how life works. We think we know where its going but in a few months we ask our self, how did we get here?

February I left my job to discover something new. I set out on my journey with the blessings of those in my world and set off to find the answer to my question: “Where do I belong?”

Felicity followed a boy to New York and found herself instead. I left my job to answer a question and now I have to trust God more than ever before with that answer. I admit I have no idea where He is taking me. I just know the next season of my life is going to be full of surprise and I’m glad I have such good friends to share it with.

This week, I start a new chapter. Its going to be strange to go back to work but I’m excited for the new challenges ahead.

Felicity Season 1 Opener:

 

The story behind the pierced nose

When I was 18 I faced a very dark time in my life that changed who I was and made me who I am now. I grew up in a loving home and had a beautiful childhood. I had never faced real pain in my life. Then I experienced heart-break from a boyfriend, who in my eyes then was, “the one”. He deleted me from his life, never to be seen or heard of again. I didn’t know how to handle the emotions I felt. I had just graduated high school, legally became an adult and had no idea who I was.

At that time I began to drawing near to God. I had no one to turn to but Him. He seemed like the only one who would understand what I was going through since He could see inside of me. Everyone else saw my situation as a part of growing up, which was true but at the time it felt like the world was ending. In fact, this was around September 11 so it really looked like the world was ending.

I decided to read the bible. When I got to the story of how Isaac met Rebecca I was inspired by their love story. Abraham, Isaac’s father, had his servant look for a wife for his son. His servant prayed that he would have success on finding a girl who fit Abraham’s specific description. After his prayer he met Rebecca. She was very generous and ready to help the servant with his camels. Long story short, the servant asked her family for her hand in marriage for Issac. He gave her a nose ring and jewelery. Rebecca trusted the Lord and the servant that who ever this Issac was, he was going to be perfect for her. She knew the servant heard from God. Now that is trust.

Rebecca and Isaac fell in love the moment they saw each other. (Gen. 24)

I decided I needed that type of trust with God. I didn’t want to spend me life worrying about who I was to marry. I then asked my parents if I could get my nose pierced. They knew I was going through a rough season but had confidences I knew what I was doing.

My dad took me to this little tattoo place. The guy sat me down, pulled out a big needle and poked the side of my nose. I fainted. When I came back he gave me water. I stood up and looked in the mirror. I now had this diamond on my face. I thought in my head, “God, every time I see this I will remember my trust in you, you will bring the right boy for me.”

Since then I’ve lost my diamond nose stud many times. When I do, it feels like I lost my wedding ring. Somehow my diamond makes its way back to me. Just now, I thought I had lost it for good. It had been a week. Today, when I was doing my bed I saw something on the floor sparkling. It was my diamond.

Though the years have past and I’m still a single girl, I remember the covenant I made with God when I was 18. Since then I’ve seen Him do miracles in my life. He’s taken me to foreign nations, introduced me to important people, brought me amazing friends, and experienced a joyful life. I’ve discovered who I am, what I want in life and put my trust in God. And when I’ve dated someone and it didn’t work out, it was okay because I knew God will work something out in the future.

Today as I put my nose ring back on, I remembered my prayer to God. I’m glad I don’t have to worry. What ever your worry is in life, if you give it to Him, He will return it with peace for years to come.

Last Kid on the Block

Today while I was riding my bike around the neighborhood I noticed there were no more kids around. Virginia Street was empty with not a young person in sight. I saw a few neighbors come out, now with white hair and walking around their yard.

I rode up the street and looked back. I pictured all the kids that used to live on my street. Most of them are now married with kids, some ended up in jail, another got pregnant at an early age and gave her son up for adoption, others just disappeared, and now I was officially the last kid on the block.

The ice cream man from my childhood still comes by my street hoping to still find that big group of kids running up to his truck to buy some candy. Every time I see him I wave. He doesn’t know my name and I don’t know his but he’s like a ghost from my past that comes by every so often. I think about how he spent his life being an ice cream man to support his family.

Life changes so fast we don’t even notice its moving. Virginia Street is home to me and next year there will officially be no more kids left on this street.

Listen while you read…

Self Image

Ten years ago my self-image was distorted. Today, I am finding myself really liking who I am. As I put on my make up I  admire the shape of my eyes, the shade of my skin, my black hair, and the color of my eyes. When I look in the mirror, I smile at the way I look. I am happy and thankful to be me. I like who I am inside and out.

When I think about when I didn’t like myself and the days when I would cover my mirrors, I am thankful for the journey I had to go through. The boys that passed through my life for a minute and the words they spoke, always sweet and kind, saw something that I didn’t not. And finally at age 27, I agree. I no longer need compliments to feel good about myself, a pimple no longer has its power over me, and bad hair days are no longer a big deal.

Some might get down about getting older, looking in the mirror and seeing their face change, but each year I discover something about myself that I love. Getting older is an adventure. Being 17 was great but I am enjoy being 27 just as much and even greater. I finally know who I am, what I wanna do, where I wanna go, what I believe in and the kinda of people I wanna spend my life with.

God is amazing and has such beautiful grace that he walks us through these things.

What did you use to think about yourself ten years ago? Crazy to think ten years has gone and past.