Fifteen years later… (09/11/2001)


…and the memory is just as vivid as if it were 15 days later.

The emotions have diminished over time, but the images & thoughts I had that fateful morning have not left my mind.

I was in my on-campus townhouse (A-6) at Bethel College (now University) in St. Paul, Minnesota. I had a 9am Christian Theology class that morning, so around 8am I was up & getting ready. I turned on the news (just like my dad always did every morning– a habit I picked up) to listen to while I got ready.

I thought I was watching a new trailer to yet another doomsday action movie (because it wasn’t all that long before this day that movies like Independence Day & Armageddon were popular). But then I realized that it seemed a little long for a commercial. And then I noticed it wasn’t actors talking about the images I was seeing, but the local news anchors I had been watching for the last several weeks of my sophomore year of college.

After a few more minutes it really sunk in. This was real, it was really happening. Two planes had just been flown into the World Trade Towers in New York City about an hour or so ago (it wouldn’t be until later that I’d find out about the other that was headed to the Pentagon). As they repeatedly showed the footage & continued to get updates in, I watched (all whilst still getting ready for class).

I headed to class, quieter than my usual chatty self. As I nestled in & watched my classmates pour into class (probably about 40 or so) I couldn’t believe no one was talking about it. The few conversations that were happening were the same old types of conversations I was used to hearing. My professor showed up & jumped right into the routine of class like it was any other day.

I raised my hand & he called on me. I asked if we could pray about what happened in NYC earlier that morning. NO ONE in my entire class knew what I was talking about. How could a room full of so many people not know? I then filled in everyone on the events, despite the fact that I still had yet to fully wrap my head around them all. And then we prayed.

As I left that class about an hour later, news was finally getting around. I walked by a student lounge near the mailboxes & the news was on. The lounge usually only had a couple of people in it at any given moment, but it was packed (pretty much anywhere with a TV on campus had a surge of students in it as we all watched in disbelief). I remember stopping in the lounge, sitting on the arm of a chair & watching more of the updates on the events of the day with my fellow co-eds.

I don’t remember my exact thoughts – but I knew that things would be very different. Terrorism, for the first time in a long time, had left a very big mark inside our borders, on our home turf.


It’s easy to look back & see negativity, but I choose to look back and see the beauty that broke through the ashes & rubble. So many people banded together, forgetting their differences, and pushed through to help make a difference amidst the chaos. Actions that were meant to tear our nation apart instead united us. Most of us were too busy worrying, caring or helping (in some capacity) to be hating.

So many things have changed over the past 15 years, many due to the fact that this event happened. But the one thing that remains is the fact that we are a nation united, especially in times of trials and troubles. No matter what the force, from terrorism to acts of nature, there are always countless people coming together to support our fellow countrymen in some way or another.

Why I don’t Fawn over Fall…

… or think Autumn is Awesome

Everyone & their mom seems to be in love with fall.
It comes around with all the pumpkin spice flavored everything and beautiful colors of the leaves…

But no one seems to mention the fact that those beautiful leaves are DYING!

Which leads me to my first reason why I don’t just LOVE fall:

Yes, the colors of autumn are gorgeous, and if I could get up to New England at any point between late September to late October, I would be happy & my phone would be overloaded with pictures!
But no one seems to recall what happens once the leaves are done changing, fall to the ground, are raked up and gone to the dump.
All that’s left is the dreary browns of naked trees, that, unless you live in the bitter cold north where snow falls & gives a beautiful white coating to hide that “dreary brown” the world around looks quite sad.

And don’t even get me started on that cold!
As the last of the leaves fall, so does the temperature to a point that is not comfortable, and can sometimes be quite miserable UNLESS you layer up.

And those layers mean more work when I’m picking out my outfits.
I’m a tank top and shorts girl for the most part – quick & simple, not a whole lot of thought needed.
But now, I have to wear at least 5 visible articles of clothing and put in two to three times the thought to make sure they match & coordinate, topping them off (or bottoming them off, I should say) with a pair of boots!

And as my toes are crammed into those boots, boy do they miss the freedom of sandals & flip flops, which, unless I go on a warm vacation, they wont get to experience for about 5 months.
That’s a long time for feet that would rather be barefoot!

So, no, world, I am not in love with fall.
Autumn is not the greatest season.

Call me when spring comes around, bringing forth it’s new life (with color), warming weather, and a reason to pack away the sweaters & boots (while freeing my toes) until the next time the #PSL makes it’s yearly debut.

Until then, I’m going to make a like a bear & hibernate… oh, right, I don’t have that option, I have to keep living my life no matter the season… but I may be a little bit bearish in my attitude, especially if I come across someone proclaiming that fall is, like, the Best. Season. Ever. (<– and yes, I am being sarcastic in my grammar there, because I also hate when people do that).


I was born during a “gray” area – defined by some schools of thought as a Generation X baby, but defined by others as a Millennial.

The truth is, I don’t 100% identify with either.

I first started feeling this way as most Millennial started becoming “hipsters.”
Although there were many aspects of this new trend I liked (like the draw to vintage & records as well as some of the fashion) I never fully embodied it or connect with it.
But I couldn’t deny that I wasn’t really part of Generation X (other than the jeans of the same name I wore in junior high).
And thus, I have created my idea of the Milleni-Xers.I shouldn’t be surprised that I can connect with both types considering I can’t think of a season in life where I didn’t have friends from both generations.
I’ve been surrounded by both, friends younger & older, and thus influenced by both.

And I don’t think I’m alone as a Milleni-Xers… but am I alone as a Milleni-Xer who hasn’t figured out the balance?
Mainly in career…

Most Gen-Xers seem to be in the school of thought that they needed to a pick a career & go for it (pleasing their parents, perhaps?).
While many are happy with the choice they made at 18 (give or take a few years) it seems that most are stuck in a rut that they created for themselves 15+ years ago.

On the flip side, Millennials seem to have embraced the idea that they can do all the things they want to do whenever they choose – and there seems to be a lot of encouragement for them to follow their super-lofty dreams.
It’s an optimistic outlook that is VERY appealing (to me), although it has caused major career-commitment-phobia & left many of them still slinging coffee into their late 20s (usually while pursuing their true passion-of-the-day part-time on the side) and remain quite content (which I am not).
Granted, there are some that have been able to hit the mark & do great things at such a young age! Way to go you few!

It seems that many of my fellow “Millenni-Xers” have some how found a balance between these two schools of thought, found their true passion, and stuck to it for about 5+ years now.
But for some reason, I find myself sitting – no teetering – on the fence of these two (X + M), leaning back & forth from one side or the other.
I go in phases where I get super passionate about a career choice & pursue it for a couple of years (X).
Then something usually happens (it varies) which reconnects me with another passion, and BLAM I’m looking back to the other M side of the fence starting to pursue that “lofty” dream, but not whole-heartedly.
WHY? Because I’m still partially on the X side of the fence.
AND because when I look on the M side I not only see that ONE passion, but a whole slew of others!

Why must I have so many interests?! Ideas?! Passions?! WHY!!!???

I want to have a successful career, but I don’t want to get stuck in a rut.
I want to pursue my wild & crazy Millennial dreams, but I also want Gen-X stability.

Is this why it’s so hard for me to really get moving in one direction?
Because I am constantly being pulled in two?

Gym Etiquette

First off, let me say I’m not perfect at the gym, but I’m trying to be better. Perhaps having the accountability of this blog will help me be more conscious while I’m working out. Secondly, a lot of these issues stem from some of my pet peeves.


1) RE-RACK YOUR WEIGHTS (or other equipment)

If you’re too lazy to re-rack your weights then you shouldn’t be working with the weights to begin with. The old rule: leave things better than you found them holds true at the gym. My mom’s trainer says that getting your weights out & putting them away should be part of your workout routine – think about those little extra calories your burning (or muscle fibers you’re ripping – in a good way) while carrying your weights (or other pieces of equipment such as handles, bars, balls, mats, bands, etc…) back to where they go. PS: THE FLOOR IS NOT WHERE THEY GO – EVER! Hello, trip hazard!!!


Rule of thumb – take your headphones out & hold them at arms length away. If you can still hear them (even in the slightest) they are too loud. I don’t want to hear the bass coming out of your super awesome low-end headphones, and that grandma working out nearby really doesn’t. Plus, YOU may want to still be able to hear that bass when you are as old as that grandma, so turn it down. For our sakes & yours!


If you like do to do 3 sets of 10 on one piece of equipment with rests between each set AT LEAST get up between sets! Let other people “work in” around you. Or better yet, keep your heart rate up & pick 2+ exercises and go back and forth between them without resting. This allows others to work in around you & will ultimately give you a better workout. Double win! I generally do a circuit of 3 – 4 exercises (with one being more cardio like mountain climbers, high knees, jumping jacks, etc…) and it almost always works out – until that loaf decides to sit & wait between sets on the equipment I was using!


Some gyms are nice enough to provide towels. There are usually 3 types of towels a gym may provide:
A) Full size towels – These are for showers, saunas, steam rooms, pools, hot tubs, ONLY. In a nut shell, these are for full body drying off or wrapping around (please use one in steam rooms/saunas!). These ARE NOT for bringing with you to the workout center to wipe sweat off your brow – see B for that!
B) Hand size towels – These are generally the size that you have by your bathroom sink. THESE are what you bring to the workout center to wipe the sweat off your brow. Does your gym not provide them (or tend to run out often like mine)? Then pack an extra one or two in your gym bag just in case (I cut an old towel into 4 which worked out great). Also, don’t use your sweaty towel to wipe off equipment – see C for that!
C) Machine towels – These are generally kept at each machine with a spray bottle of disinfectant/deodorizer. USE THEM! Especially during flu season or if you got a machine really sweaty from dripping on it. Some gyms may have paper towel dispensers & spray bottles. It’s okay to use the paper towel over again on the equipment your using. And it’s better for the environment.
Side note: Sometimes if the gym doesn’t have B towels but has the C towels you can ask someone working there for an extra C towel to use for B purposes. Just make sure you get it to someone who can make sure it gets washed before it’s back to being used for C. But if you truly rely on B towels, pack your own!


There you are, lifting an insane amount of weight, which is super intimidating already, AND you have a look on your face like you want to punch someone. The gym can be a great place to meet friends or find a great workout buddy, but no one wants to get to know someone who looks like they have anger issues. So smile when crossing paths or asking if you can “work in” on a machine. It goes a long way. (PS: I’m still trying to be better at this one).

NOTICE: Most of these etiquette tips help not only your fellow gym rats, but usually have benefits for you, too!

Eventually I will post some things for your own health & safety (mostly, your neck/back) so if you are a gym rat like me, pay attention for that future blog – probably about proper form or something like that. And I’m sure I will think of more etiquette topics to share.


On being late

I overheard a mom talking to her daughter as they were walking along the sidewalk in New York City. The girl was dilly dallying – climbing up on steps & touching every railing – essentially turning the walk into an exercise in gymnastics. She was probably around 3 or 4 years old. As I was about to pass the two, the mom looks at her & says, “How do you think Matilda will feel if you are late?”

Perhaps this is how Matilda is feeling? Bored. Annoyed. Impatient. Restless.

Perhaps this is how Matilda is feeling? Bored. Annoyed. Impatient. Restless.

This simple statement got me thinking: so many times when I’m running late I am so caught up in all the things that made/are making me late that I often don’t take in to account the person or people I’m late to meet.
Sure, we offer a curt sorry when we finally get to them & possibly explain the reason(s) we are late, but do we really take in to account their actual feelings? And are we truly sorry?


I hate it when I’m late, and in the past that tended to be often, but I’m really trying to be more mindful of my time management so it doesn’t happen as much. Sure, there will be things out of my control, no matter how good I was with my time, that happens!


Now want to talk to all those “creatives” or “artists” who use their lifestyle or personality type as an excuse. I’m sorry, but it’s not an excuse. And no, we shouldn’t just anticipate or expect you to be late.
For all of you people who have waited for one of these & told them, when they arrived late, that it’s okay, why? It probably isn’t! Your probably frustrated (or like me, I tend to get bored or awkward in the waiting).


Time is valuable, people!

• You need to value other’s time & work harder, despite your vocation or personality type, to be more punctual. How would it make _____ feel that you are late? Truly?!
• And if you were the one waiting, stop pretending that it was/is okay! No more buying the excuses. Let them know how it feels! We need to stop letting it be socially acceptable that they are late & hopefully they will start to understand and get better at time management.
And, yes, I am giving all who read this permission to call me on it! Let me know how it makes you feel.


Let’s have faith that they can better, that we can get better, that I can get better.


How would (Matilda)* feel if you are late?

*Insert name(s) here

Using My Passion & Skillsets in the Mission Field

*Note: Click on the images to see them larger!*

The Hands & Feel Children's Village in Jacmel, Haiti.

The Hands & Feel Children’s Village in Jacmel, Haiti.

I’ve only been on one mission trip before this year. I was 11 years old & I went with my parents to distribute Bibles to the schools in Russia. I enjoyed my time, especially getting to know some of the local kids. Since then, though, I haven’t ever felt a pull to go on mission trips.

The thing is, I have a small handful of things I am passionate about.
I also have a small handful of skill sets.

It’s really hard for me to get excited or “gung ho” about something if it isn’t connected to one of my passions.
And if I can’t use my skillsets then I tend to get very frustrated.

A distorted, yet beautiful panoramic on the jagged cliffs near Cows Cove.

A distorted, yet beautiful panoramic on the jagged cliffs near Cows Cove.

With what I know about mission trips, I never really saw an alignment with my passions or use for my skillsets, so the draw, or “call,” was never really there.

But then God called me to go to Haiti this year. I was nervous about going, thinking I was going to have to really struggle to have a good attitude. Thankfully I went with a great group & got to serve at the amazing Hands & Feet Children’s Village (H&F). Having a good attitude was not a struggle! With that one, small worry behind me I could enjoy my trip.

Being on the ground in the mission field put me in a great spot to see some areas of missions I was not aware of. Areas where my passions & skill sets could possibly intersect!


The beautiful beach where we got to swimming at midway through our trip.

One of my passions is the environment. I drive a hybrid, use canvas shopping bags, have all CFL light bulbs, recycle & take many other measures in my life to help make sure that the earth & it’s resources, are around for a long time!

Many missionary organizations, including H&F, rely on generators & other alternative power sources since the local power isn’t always consistent. But, with rising fuel costs, generators can be expensive to run. And other options aren’t always affordable.

A panoramic view from the roof of one of the village's buildings, showing some of the solar panels.

A panoramic view from the roof of one of the village’s buildings, showing some of the solar panels.

Thankfully, H&F has been able to acquire some solar panels, but they still do rely heavily on their generators. It was mentioned in a conversation with one of the leaders that they would like to get more solar panels. The mention of solar, being very environmentally friendly, got me intrigued & excited. My wheels started turning trying to think of ways to get more solar panels to H&F and to other organizations!

I talked further with the leader & she told me about a non-profit organization that does help get solar to missions & humanitarian organizations – which is how they were able to get their current solar panels.

And then I feel that it is no coincidence that I randomly started getting Forbes magazine & then decided to grab one to take on the trip for airplane reading. While flipping through the pages only one thing really applied to me. It was an ad for a hybrid generator that can cut costs of running a generator 60-80%! Now, I not only wanted to get more solar panels for H&F, but also these generators.

One of my skillsets is connecting people & I think I can find a way to connect this company with H&F (and possibly other future missions/non-profits) and find ways to raise the funds (i.e.: crowdfunding/fundraising) to do it!

I’m excited & would love to see many missions, humanitarian organizations & non-profits working a little greener AND in the process, saving some green $ which they could put to use in other ways in their organizations!

And how cool would it be if the next time I headed to H&F I was bringing a new hybrid generator and/or some more solar panels!

On the last full day in Haiti we enjoyed a rigorous but gorgeous hike up the mountain!

On the last full day in Haiti we enjoyed a rigorous but gorgeous hike up the mountain!