from such great heights

I quit.

Posted in life by chapwoman on June 30, 2008

I am emotionally overloaded.

Although this Lifelines in Colorado is where I should be because it’s where God has called me to grow this summer, it’s draining me of any and every emotion I’ve been feeling the past few days. Here at the High Peak Camp, our facilitators and coaches expect us to talk about our feelings and speak the truth to each other, which is imperative for any real bonding to happen. But it’s expected ALL THE TIME. I’m beginning to feel the effects of this “emotional bootcamp” as I’ve nicknamed it.

Last night our group of 17 had a pow-wow, a serious meeting, about a conflict that went down at the laundromat earlier in the afternoon. Fortunately, I wasn’t at the laundromat to experience it first-hand, so I didn’t feel any pressure to add to the discussion. But as everyone was sharing their side of the story, I felt an internal switch click “off”. I was done with the “let’s chat about our feelings” and the “how did you feel about that?” questions. Part of it was that I couldn’t relate to the discussion at all, part of it was that I feel like I haven’t truly connected with anyone here.

I feel like I know a lot of other students’ stories, but they don’t know mine. I know what some of the girls struggle with, what irks their souls, but they have no idea what irks mine…and that’s where I feel a disconnect. Sadly, I’m too emotionally drained to really go there with my own issues and I don’t really care about opening up at this point. I’m praying that God lifts my spirits, that He shows me the right avenue to share my thoughts with people, so we’ll see what happens.
C’est la vie,
Chappie

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doing what spider monkeys do

Posted in life by chapwoman on June 25, 2008

until you find yourself sitting on top of a mountain looking out at God’s beautiful creation, then we can talk. i’ve discovered how sweet rock-climbing really is this week, REAL rock-climbing. the “strap-yourself-into-a-rope-and-feel-the-granite-on-your-fingertips” rock-climbing. none of that indoor nonsense.

the past two days I’ve gone climbing with the same group of ten that I went backpacking with last week, and it has been SWEET. initially, I was strattling the line between excitement and apathy for climbing rocks, but after experiencing it first hand, I’ve fallen in love the sport. i love everything about it, which seldom happens when I try something once. i love how my toes get scrunched into the tight-fitting climbing shoes and make me feel like a ballerina when I wear them. i love how my finger tips rash a pinkish-red after scaling 90 feet of raw granite. i love how i struggle in certain crags for five minutes only to scurry up the course like a spider monkey once i find the right handle-holds. i’ve stumbled onto one of God’s secret pleasures.

think about that though. people actually scale mountains in the open air and play on this jungle gym God created for us. i asked one of my leaders today if rangers created the convenient crevices to grab onto for climbing, (because come on, they just seem too conveniently placed for our hands to be natural) and she answered that the rocks were formed how they’re formed. that’s so sweet. no wonder people climb rocks; there is so much to discover and conquer.

that’s exactly how I felt when I was sitting at the top of Lily Lake’s boulders at two this afternoon, overlooking an enormous green valley resting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. I discovered a unique path just for me to reach the top, conquering a seemingly-impossible climb. At the top, I could practically reach out and touch the clouds. so I snapped some photos, chalked my hands, and repelled down the mountain like a spider once more.

c’est la vie,
Chappie

week two

Posted in life by chapwoman on June 23, 2008

I know, I know. I haven’t kept my blog updated as much as I had hoped to, but seriously, life has been kinda hectic here at the High Peak Camp.

Last week, I hiked over 20 miles in three days (applause welcome) in the Rocky Mountain National Park and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done outdoors. It was my first time backpacking with 40 lbs on my back and I definitely had bruises on my shoulders and lower back to prove it. I was with 5 other students and 4 staff, so it was a pretty tight-knit group.

It’s a really interesting dynamic to be in a small group of 10 people (compared to the 35 project members total) because I really got to know the strengths and weaknesses of each member. I learned that I am a pretty agile hiker (even uphill, trudging along in the snow), while other girls who are skinnier than me, are pretty out of shape. We did a 6-mile day hike the second day of our trip and at the climax, tension between me and my friend Laura finally broke out in the open. It was a huge learning experience for me because I told her how I was pissed and disappointed about not finishing our hike on account of her physical pain.

See normally, when I’m confronted with a tense situation, I usually respond by pouting or laughing it off or not saying anything at all. Then tension usually builds and divides establish themselves. But I learned to actually say how I’m feeling and why…and I was able to empathize with Laura because she told me how she was feeling in return. I finally let my selfishness go, so thank you Lord.

We did some outreach as a project in the inner city of Denver on Saturday, and that was really cool. Spoke some Spanish, played with some kids, debriefed at the ever-popular McDonald’s. It wasn’t my most successful outreach ever, but there are good days and there are not-so-good days for evangelism. Freetime in Denver afterward consisted of hitting up REI, Sam’s Club, and Chipotle. Did you know the world’s largest REI is in Denver? 3 stories, the size of WalMart…no joke. And it had a Starbucks inside; that’s validation enough.

I’m stoked for this week though because my group will be climbing some rocks! The only rock-climbing I’ve ever done has been inside climbing gyms, but here, in the beautiful landscape of Colorado exists ideal boulders for climbing. People here have asked me if I’m nervous, but honestly, I’m not. I can be scared of a tiny needle poking my skin, I can be scared of swallowing pills, but apparently I can’t be scared of the possibility of falling from huge boulders in the wilderness. We’ll see how it goes.

As for the group as a whole, I feel like I haven’t really connected with anyone yet. Most of that is my fault: I don’t want to completely open up to people I might never talk to after July 12th rolls around. I don’t see the value in sharing my innermost feelings with people who probably don’t care anyway. And I really don’t know what it looks like to completely open my soul, because I’ve never actually done that before. I look around and see everyone hanging out with each other during free time and I feel guilty because I’d rather email my friends, I’d rather write my loved ones letters, I’d rather update my blog for people I already have relationships with and wonder what I’m up to. I’m constantly battling this desire to build new relationships with people I’ll be with for one month and the desire to sustain the relationships I already have and cherish at home.

I have three weeks left, so I’m praying that God shows me the best possible way to live them and make the most of the experience He’s presented me.

C’est la vie,
Chappie

lifelines

Posted in life by chapwoman on June 17, 2008

estes park, colorado.

i’m here on summer project(!) for campus crusade for christ and it’s nothing short of amazing.  17 other students from all over the country are here with me, along with 15 staff members and we’re on the first project ever in the rocky mountains.  the term “summer project” is kinda vague, I know.  but generally, summer projects are mission trips that crusade organizes for students to attend all over the world.  so when I looked at the list of potential US projects, “rocky mountain lifelines” just jumped out at me. summer in the wilderness definitely seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime.

so after applying, getting accepted, and raising $2350, here I am in beautiful estes park.

I’m actually a few miles south of the small, touristy town and at an elevation of 9000 feet, literally “in” the mountains.  the view from my cabin is of two lofty peaks that look like something you’d see in a Thomas Kinkade painting, completely covered in an evergreen fabric.  in the other direction sits an even more lofty mountain with a shear vertical face known as “Long’s Peak.”  Which is also the name of the complex I’m staying at.  the sky is an intensely deep blue, the color green goes on for miles, and the mountains I’m looking at right now from my table are still covered in white snow.  what’s even cooler is that elk and moose like to graze right outside our complex, and gophers scurry across the pastures nonstop.  we’ve even made friends with a coyote that likes to do perimeters around our main lodge. I named him “Wiley.”

as far as activities go, i’m super stoked.  the focus of lifelines is learning how to bond, so to do that much of our time is spent outdoors.  Just being here, secluded from the public is a way to bond.  we’ve done some hikes already, but I’m really looking forward to the 3-day backpacking trip that starts tomorrow morning.  It’s serious ROUGHING it with tents, sleeping bags, and no toilets.  PRAY for me, haha.  I’m excited to go backpacking, just to say I did it.  and also to establish the connection with nature that I’ve always wanted but never got from suburban southern california.  Over the course of the next month, I’ll be immersed in this REI culture of rock-climbing, hiking, camping, and literally mountain-biking.  Gonna be SICK.

as far as group dynamics go, we mesh.  we’re all different because we’re from places like kentucky, texas, utah, california, and virginia, but we all have one thing in common: we love God.  There’s 6 guys and 12 girls, which makes it cool when we have discussions because it allows all of us to talk.  I didn’t really understand what the point of this project was when I signed up, but bonding is definitely the focus.  I’ve already felt tears fall down my cheeks 3 times, and that was just the first day.  some people have already opened up about their innermost feelings, which their best friends and family members don’t even  know about, so the conversations have been hard.  they’ve been intense.

i feel like God led me here for a reason: to be real for the first time in my life. it makes me nervous knowing that people I just met yesterday will know insecurities about me that my parents don’t even know, that my closest friends don’t even know.  but I figure, if I can open up to complete strangers who don’t know my story, then I can take my covered issues back home and share them with my friends.  That’s when real bonding occurs, when I finally expose the depths of my soul.  when I’m finally broken, when I finally let out all my hidden emotions, I will explain more.  so pray for me, pray that I have the courage to do that, that I have the courage to be truly vulnerable for the first time ever.

that’s my summer project so far.  food’s better than in the dorm (thank you Jesus), beds are more comfortable than in the dorm (thank you again, Jesus), and the staff are incredibly hospitable.  I’m trusting that God’s gonna make these 28 days the most important 28 days of my personal growth.

c’est la vie,
Chappie

red bricks and white walls

Posted in life by chapwoman on June 13, 2008

It was the weirdest feeling, closing the door to room 106 for the last time, with no key to get back in. Brick walls which were once cluttered, full of color and life, were completely stripped bare when I left at 7:22 this morning. The white paint evoked a haunting eeriness, the sense that at one time, room 106 was “home” for two 19-year-old girls trying to make it just that. Home. I could no longer smell the sweetness of Coconut Lime Verbena air fresheners, only the stench of damp carpet where our mini-fridge defrosted a little too much frost. The carpet was actually clean, vacuumed even, where piles of clothes and shoes and X-Acto blades once lived.

And the closets, which seem so small when they’re empty, used to hold hangers and hangers of clothes and racks of shoes, the first place Katie and I would rush to in the mornings when we woke up half-an-hour late for architecture. My box of kitchen supplies that I picked through when Jon Scheoneck needed a brownie pan no longer rested on the floor inside, and the hamper I used to drag down the hallway filled with three weeks worth of dirty laundry wasn’t there.

What really got me though, were the bare mattresses. So many memories on those uncomfortable, twin extra-long mattresses: spooning parties with over five people cramped on/in my sheets, late-night talks with dear friends like Fossi, Jon, Rickie, and Maleesa, surfing the internet with utter delight when I found out that my bed actually received a wireless connection.

It’ll be so different next year, not living in such a tight-knit community like Sequoia. It’s the littlest things that make the awkward dorm thing work and worth appreciating. Like walking into the study lounge in sweats, looking like complete hell, but not even caring because all your guy friends have no pants on. Like chit-chatting every morning in the bathroom with first-floor girls that you somehow never see during the day. Like wandering into the TV lounge at 3 am and wondering why Tim is still playing that fricken soundtrack from Requiem for a Dream. For the THOUSANDTH time. Like staying up all night working on your final project, with massive headaches and sore fingers, but persevering because 40 of your friends are right there with you. They were right there with me, and that is worth appreciating.

I can’t even come close to telling all the great stories and inside jokes that went on in Sequoia this year, which is why closing the door to my room for the last time killed me. I could see all the memories right there in front of me from guitar hero sessions to straightening Scott’s hair in the middle of the night. The imaginary line separating the tornado on Katie’s side of the room from the cleanliness of mine.

Hopefully next fall when I’m walking to class and see Chelsea and see Lance and see Arthur, we’ll be able to exchange little stories like those and chat about how much we miss Sequoia. Because we will.

C’est la vie,
Chappie