Guest Post by Shawn Pearson

While I am knee deep in chocolate bar and caramel candy samples (which seriously, isn’t entirely as fun as it sounds), I’m handing over the reins to my mentor/trainer/friend/family, Shawn. He’s the reverend who runs the youth center in my town (among his other jobs and duties). I happened to wander down there in sixth grade and he hasn’t been able to shake me since. 

I am lucky enough to have him in my life, day after day, meltdown after meltdown, workout after workout. I hope you enjoy his post and I will be back tomorrow. Until then, enjoy! 

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I have to admit, I feel a bit like a substitute teacher writing this post.

…and we all know what happens to subs.  So put down the spit wads and don’t even try to tell me that your regular blogger lets you get away with not really paying attention to what she posts.

As someone who has some experience subbing, I know I need to try to find common ground with you…to win your trust…

You like food?  Great.  Me too.  In fact, I eat every single day — sometimes more than once!

You’re interested in fitness?  Excellent.  So am I.  And, while my ever-expanding girth belies the fact I have a Master Trainer certification, I actually help author some of Amanda’s workouts.

You are intrigued by matters of faith?  Perfect.  The “Rev.” I can legally put in front of my name points to my connection to the subject, too.

Food…check.  Fitness…check.  Faith…check.  Look at that, it is fitting we’re all here at this blog.

Let me press my luck…

Might you also find some fascination in words, too?  I mean, after all, you purposely read this blog and its regular author can be quite a wordsmith.  I have a sneaking suspicion words are important to you, too.

As Amanda’s school year is winding to a close and summer is fast-approaching, I have noticed two particular words sneaking into our conversations.

Distress.

Distractions.

Chances are you can relate.  Whether you’re a student or not, there are just times of life in which we are easily distressed and readily distracted.

Maybe you’re facing finals, too…perhaps you’ve got bills mounting…or you may even be dealing with matters far more difficult and permanent.  The anxiousness and anxiety you feel is clinically known as “distress”.

Or, you may even possibly be worried about summer…how will you keep on-task with your workouts? When will you find the time to prepare nutritious food? Is it possible to keep growing spiritually during a time so often splintered by plentiful activities? If these things are not “distressing” to you, they are at least “distractions”.

Funny thing about words, sometimes we use them without fully considering what they mean.  It isn’t a stretch to say we all probably face distress and distraction regularly.  But, I wonder how many times we actually consider the words…

…if we did, we’d know how to defeat them.

The prefix “dis” means “the absence of”.  For example, “disappear” means something having the absence of an appearance.  “Disagree” means the absence of agreement.  You get the picture.

Now consider “distress”…

It literally means the absence of stress.

Wait.  What?

You wish you could have an absence of stress?

You don’t.  Trust me.  Hear me out…

We must “stress” — to put emphasis or importance upon — things.  It helps us focus.  It allows us to prioritize.  It leads us to achieve.  When you’re overwhelmed and freaking yourself (or others) out, it is the DIS that is getting you.  The absence of emphasizing the proper things is what is causing your meltdowns.

If I am distressed in my life, I need to reconsider what actually needs emphasis.  By placing proper importance on life-giving things, I can avoid detrimental distress.

The same is true about “DIStraction” — “traction” simply means the “pull” of something.  (I won’t bore you with how “Star Wars” and its “tractor beam” messed with the mind of a prepubescent child raised among farms in America’s Dairyland…I’ll admit, I had to look it up to be sure)  A “DIStraction” is merely the absence of the proper pull.

As your days begin to fill with warmer weather, more sunlight, opportunities for entertainment, etc., it becomes easy to let those things which are vital to your life and success lose their “pull” on you.  As soon as those things which are important — food, fitness, faith for example — no longer have a strong “pull” on your time, attention, efforts, etc., we fall prey to “DIStraction”.

What in your life is worthy of emphasis and importance?  STRESS it each moment…proper “stressing” will keep DIStress from negatively impacting you.

What things do you want to have the most “pull” on you?  Don’t weaken your connection to them…as soon as you let go of it, the DIStractions will carry you away.

Okay, for the remainder of class you may talk quietly amongst yourselves…I will give Miss Amanda a good report about you.

On Being Yourself

This is my friend, Tess. Remember her? It was her 20th birthday a few weeks ago and we ate cake. She wore a fez. She really likes cake…and fezes.

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Other things Tess likes:

  • buttered noodles
  • mashed potatoes (she’s from Idaho, it’s a prerequisite)
  • Casablanca
  • Dr. Who (hence the fez)
  • painting her nails
  • writing

Things Tess doesn’t like:

  • Doing laundry. Ever.
  • Oranges (she’s allergic)
  • a respectable or normal bedtime
  • unnecessary drama
  • trying to interview people with poor social skills
  • the stairs leading up to my apartment

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I’ve learned a lot about Tess in the short year I’ve known her. She’s learned a lot about me. She’s done a lot for me, too.

She has made me laugh until it hurts. She’s gotten me out of my apartment. She’s indulged me in my girly tendencies. She’s taught me a lot.

Part of me is embarrassed to admit that a freshman has been doling out words of wisdom, but a bigger part of my is incredibly thankful for it.

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See, Tess is Tess. This is redundant, yes, but I don’t think a lot of people are actually themselves, all day, every day. But Tess is. She is herself, completely and totally. She’s not afraid to state her opinion, loudly, even if it might not be the most popular one. She doesn’t apologize for the work she does or the things she likes – no matter how they’re perceived by others. She wears a baseball cap and dresses. She’s never been bullied. She’s strong. She’s inspiring.

I’ve talked a lot to my family back home about trying to stay true to myself. To focus on being me instead of doing what everyone else is. I’ve prayed about it, constantly. And I think becoming friends with Tess, seeing who she is, is an answer to those prayers.

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I really do.

 

Music to my ears

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that music is an integral part of my life. I wake up to music, workout to music, shower to music. I spend my entire day with music. Living alone, I use music to fill the silence and entertain me – I have had many solo dance parties while cleaning.  Music can affect my day – make it better, comfort me, uplift me, on and on.

I listen to different music for any given scenario. I have particular playlists for certain moments and events: country for driving back home; Frank, Louis, Glenn and the gang for cooking; something peppy for cleaning; screamo/rock/punk for working out (yes, screamo).

And lately, I’ve been making a lot of changes when it comes to the kind of music I play and the artists I listen to. I had never really considered that those kinds of things affect my relationship with God, but they do. What I choose to entertain myself with can either bring me close to Him or pull me away.

I am still finding music in every genre I like, for every situation, but I feel better knowing that by listening to it I am also listening to God and honoring Him.

So here are some of my favorites. They help me wake up, keep me optimistic, and make workouts all the more fun.

  • Mandisa’s Good Morning is literally the best way to start your day. My church back home even plays it before service sometimes.
  • Monster by Skillet is what I play near the end of a workout when the tank is almost empty.
  • The Almost is what I gravitate too when I’m feeling angsty or annoyed, but lately I’ve just been listening to them during work..not sure what that means. Say This Sooner is my current favorite.
  • When I need perspective and feel like I am at my lowest point, honestly the lowest of the low and hopeless, I turn on Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave for some much needed perspective.
  • I love anything and everything by Needtobreathe. It’s the best music for yoga, writing, driving, just relaxing. The sound is amazing and I love the “feel” of the music, if that makes sense. Washed By The Water was the first song I heard from them, and I still love it.
  • Shawn McDonald makes good driving music, peppy and uplifting. Take My Hand is on my iPod right now.
  • Believe it or not, I listen to Writing On The Walls by Underoath whenever I am headed to work at my job back home. I’m a waitress and for some reason, I think this song makes me a better server.
  • Much like Monster (or any song by Skillet, actually), Move by Thousand Foot Krutch is what gets me through my workouts.

And last, but not least, The Stand by Hillsong United. It was the song the worship band played the night I accepted Christ. It feels weird to have so many powerful emotions tied up to this song, but it was a powerful experience and a life changing one.

Studying

“Every morning I wake up, before I put on my makeup, I say a little prayer for youuuuuuuuuu.”

Besides this being one of my favorite songs and favorite movies (ever), this is also something I practice. When my alarm goes off at 5:06 every morning the first thing I do is reach for my phone. No, I’m not checking text messages or Facebook notifications (I don’t get a whole lot of those), I’m reading the Bible.

This, by far, has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent weeks. Starting each day with Scripture has made a noticeable impact on my days. I’m happier, I’m calmer, I’m able to cope with stress better. I’m ¾ of the way through the Soul Detox Plan and am so happy I’ve finally gotten around to doing it after seeing it on She Reads Truth months ago.

I haven’t been approaching this study like others. I’m not taking notes, I’m not writing in a journal. I say a quick prayer beforehand, read through the day’s passage a couple times and just sit with it for a few minutes. It’s relaxing and rejuvenating – a great way to ease into my day.

The less intense approach I’m taking to this study leaves my heart more open to the message. I don’t feel like it’s an academic pursuit. I’m not studying, I’m just learning.

So, here’s to kinda-sorta-almost studying on Saturdays.

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