December 31, 2015

2015: Year in Review

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I am not sure what it is about year's end that causes us to reflect, dream and plan. Maybe it's the idea of starting afresh. That start of a new year is a do-over of sorts. A year to finally get things in order. Maybe it is a sort of subconscious clock within our hearts, similar to that of the changing seasons, that there is a time in our lives for something new. I don't know what it is, but I think it is beautiful.


I remember entering 2015 on a bit of a sad and hopeless note. I did not know what they year had in store, and I was not expecting it to be great, since everything I seemed to have hoped and wished for in the last few years did not come to pass. It was not a matter of not trying. I guess those things were just not meant to be. I wish I could say that I have new dreams now, but I do not. I do not know what I want anymore, and frankly, I am kind of tired of trying. For the coming year, I think I will just keep my expectations at a minimum and see what comes from it.

All melancholy aside, 2015 has had some moments that have helped to shape and build me to the person that I am at this point. It has been full of first time experiences and character-building processes. The low times were not always low and the joyful times made my smiles big and my heart full. I am sure I will reflect back later in life and and think 'that wasn't so bad'.

2015 Happenings

27th birthdaywhat an awkward age! I guess it only gets more awkward from here)
Meeting my half-sister,Akelia, her husband and my niece. -- finally! we have been in contact on and off for about 10 years and I finally got to meet her. it was crazy seeing how many similarities we had.)
Weekend getaway at the Jersey shore -- it was so nice for us to get away. It helped to refresh us and take away some of the stress and tension that had been lingering. I think this is something we need to do more.
5 year college reunionfive years already! ... another reason why 27 feels so odd.
First car accident. major bummer! but no injuries and minor damages.
My brother-in-love's wedding in NY-- this was Beau's first time seeing his brothers and parents since our wedding in 2012!! It was also such a small and intimate ceremony/celebration. I really enjoyed it.
Expanded my photography -- I considered making it a business venture, but realized that the market is already saturated with really good photographers. So, I just enjoyed the opportunities that were offered to me. I was able to shoot a sweet 16, a wedding, a baby christening, and my dear blogger friend, LaNeshe, allowed me to hold a fall photo shoot of her and her adorable family.
Home furnishingsWe are finally filling in the gaps in our home. This year, we paid off on our sofa, got a rug and a gorgeous wood TV/console table set. We even hung a painting in the dining room. Things are finally coming together. Little by little, we are filling the living room with pieces we love and I couldn't be more happy.
Our 3 year wedding anniversary. Beau and I saved up throughout the year and decided to go away for our anniversary in November. We flew down to Tampa, Fl and stayed there for couple days. We ventured out to the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area, walked the beach, drove through the cities, and enjoyed the warm air. It was a really nice stay for us. We are now thinking about possibly living in Florida in the future. The most special part of our anniversary trip was meeting up with Ashley from Ashley Holstein Photography and having a cheeky little anniversary photo shoot. The photos came out beautifully and I am so happy with them. This week was the highlight of 2015 for me!

Thank you for those who still check in every once in a while, even though my posts have been sparse. I look forward to sharing more of this journey with you all in the new year! 
♥ Jhan


October 30, 2015

On Being a Teller

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Wednesday, October 28,  marked 2 years since I began working as a teller, and I don't quite know how to feel about it. On one hand, I feel great-- accomplished, if you will. This was my first real job post school and I think I have done pretty well. On the other, I feel a unaccomplished. I spent so much money on university and attaining a Master's degree in the sciences, but I found myself processing banking transactions for a living. I never wanted to enter into the realm of sales and customer service, but I found myself here and had to go at it full-force! I take my jobs seriously, you see, and although I hate offering credit cards, and pushing accounts to people who already bank comfortably in other places, I understand that it is a job requirement, so I do my best to sell our products and be cordial to our customers (even the rude ones).

As previously stated, I never saw myself in this position and when I started, I did not expect to be there long-- much less 2 years. But it is a part of life. So, I take it in stride.

I have been writing this post for months wanting to share my experience as a teller, but did not know how to go about an introduction. But this is the perfect opportunity. Here I will share a bit of what it is like being a bank teller:

slow days // staring at the walls. On a really slow day,  something like the black mulch spontaneously combusting into flames from the summer heat or a grasshopper sitting in one place for several hours will easily serve as entertainment that day.

"new girl".
*whispers* "Who's the new girl?"
- um, Jhan has been with us for almost two years now.
Some customers get a little nervous when they see someone new behind the teller line. But for the life of me, I cannot understand why some people think I am new. That question gets asked at least once per week. Even after working there for 2 years. And even though I work part-time, I still pushed 40 hours most weeks. I think it has to do with changing my hair often. I will be publishing a post on that later.

cash differences. Customers will eagerly notify you if you have mistakenly shorted them $0.87. Trust me, I know.  In the same manner, there are also customers-- though very few-- who will be honest and return the extra cash you have given to them in error. Bless their hearts.

safety concerns.  I would say that my branch location is in a pretty safe neighborhood. Unlike other branches I have helped out at, we don't have a ceiling-high glass panels separating us from our customers... but that did not stop us from getting robbed last summer...

the crazies.  From the guy warning you to "watch the 3 o'clock news" if he happens to "drop down dead" in front of you (on a Saturday no less) to the woman angered by the fact that the full account number for her mortgage payment was not displayed on the receipt-- you know, for her to lose the receipt and that number is accessible to anyone who finds it... We have our share.

relationships. My favorite aspect of banking is the ability to build relationships with customers. I get to share in the joys of first time pregnancies and the end of a long chemo treatment. I get to sympathize with those who have lost their parents and celebrate with those who are going on their first date in years. It's amazing how much people trust you enough to share bits of their lives with you just because you help them manage their finances. This is something I really enjoyed about being a teller and I hope to never forget.



September 28, 2015

Blood Moon Rising

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Beau and I went out last night to view the last of the tetrad blood moons occurring this year. Extreme cloud cover has prevented me from seeing one visible to our side of the world in the past. I am glad that although the clouds were pretty thick last night, a steady breeze allowed for intermittent breaks in the clouds. It was during this time that were able to see the moon and even snap some photos.

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We headed out to an overlook at a local high school at around 10 o'clock last night. We were surprised to see other people camping out with upward gazes. By the time we arrived, the moon was about 3/4 of the way eclipsed. A huge cloud then blocked our view until the moon began turning red. I have to admit, it was a little hard trying to capture photos, as my camera refused to focus. However, I was able to develop a strategy. I would press my shutter button to focus on an apartment building in the distance, then bring that focus up to the moon and hold down on the shutter button for continuous shots. That caused a LOT of camera shake, but we were also able to get a couple clear photos from it (especially as Beau opted to act as my 'tripod' and steady my arms for each shot). Overall, a pretty cool experience, and sort of eerie... knowing from scripture what the implications of a blood moon are. Were you able to see the blood moon where you lived?

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September 19, 2015

Journaling + Sharing Some Thoughts

Journaling 

 I began 'journaling' around this time last year. It started as a means of recording some things that the Lord had revealed to me during my personal time of devotion: promises, truths, understanding, and revelation. I then started including some prayers and hopes for this life of mine and more recently, some of the frustrations I feel as I walk this Christian pathway. Within the pages are some DEEP cries of disappointments and questioning. Not really questioning who God is, but why He does things a certain way.

 I began reading the book of Ruth recently, and what captivated me in the first chapter was Naomi's name change. As a bit of background, Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth. She had moved (out of Israel) to a foreign country with her husband and sons who had also married the foreign women. Naomi's husband died and then a few years later, both of her sons also died leaving Naomi and her two daughter-in-laws widowed. Times were hard for widows in those times, so Naomi's response was pretty much relative to what our modern day response would be to such a tragedy: bitterness and questioning. She changed her name to "Mara", saying that it was because "the Lord has dealt bitterly with [her]". And if saying it once was not enough, she reiterated it again saying "I went out full and the Lord hath brought me home again empty... the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me" (Ruth 1:21).

 As I read these words that Naomi spoke, I completely empathized with her grief. Although our circumstances are obviously different, I often feel as though God has somehow chosen to make me miserable. Now, don't get me wrong. I wholly believe in God and His sovereignty. I believe that He owns everything upon this earth and I also believe that everything that happens, occurs because He allowed it to. With that being said, I have earnestly felt that the Lord has dealt treacherously with me these past three years. I have no idea why and I hate it so much. But the part that is so conflicting in all of this is my sheer belief in and love for this God, this father... the one, Jesus Christ has denied me of something I so earnestly desire. Many people often question the goodness of God when faced with tragedy and hardships, but theirs is with a bitter tongue. I do not doubt God, His sovereignty or His wisdom. I just want to know why.

September 1, 2015

lately... in photos

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// Beau leading the teen class at Vacation Bible School 

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// Family breakfast

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//  My brother-in-love's wedding reception - very small, very intimate. Loved it! 

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// Beau's birthday dinner

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//   Classic Car Fridays in Havertown. Every other Friday during the summer months, a group of classic car enthusiasts gather in the parking lot of a shopping plaza to chat.

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//   Banquets and disgruntled waiters.

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// Franklin Fountain... old fashioned ice cream spot in Old City Philadelphia. SO good!

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// hanging out with my younger self reincarnate. Rekindled my childhood love of roller skating. 

August 18, 2015

Thoughts

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+ I am not immune to disappointment and distress. My life is not perfect. I am willing to share the good times AND the bad, because isn't that what our lives are composed of?

+ I have been thinking lately, that there is a part of us all that wants what another person may have. But in the same respect, that coveted person may also be lacking in an area of your own fullness. For example, you may have been seeking employment for an extended period of time, and your dearest friend has always been able to land the job, and even has the confidence and security to leave one for another. Or, you are happily married and fulfilled in that sense, but a friend may be in a position where they have been seeking relationship and marriage for the longest time, but to no avail. I guess this is how life works.

July 8, 2015

A Sprinkle of Self-Confidence

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There are days when I look in the mirror and the face looking back at me brings so many negative thoughts. 

Although I grew up as a quiet and soft-spoken child, I never thought it had anything to do with self-confidence or a lack thereof. In fact, I did not start finding faults with my features until my (apparently) very noticeable flaw was pointed out to me in the 7th grade. I was riding the school bus home, and this kid who was younger than I was kept making silly faces. So, I imitated him and made silly faces back. He then said to me "How did you make your eyes do that?!" 'What?', I thought to myself. I had no clue what he meant. When I got home that day, I rushed to the mirror in my bedroom and was faced with the truth of what he questioned. I had a lazy eye. (I actually detest that term. I prefer to call it by it's medically correct name-- exotropia). I started wearing glasses when I was 7 years old. During that time I endured patching and vision therapy. I did not know why I had to go through these therapies other than the fact that the vision in my right eye was weaker than my left. It was not until that day that I realized why the vision in my left eye was weaker. Since my right eye drifted outward, it did not work in-synch with the left. All of my vision strength relied on this 'good' eye, therefore causing the right one to become weaker and weaker and drift further out. I think this is the day my battle with self-confidence began. I never looked anyone in the eyes. I almost always held my head down. This was because the older I got, the more mean people seemed to have gotten mean about it. They somehow would never know if I was talking to them because my eyes were facing different directions.. They were uncomfortable speaking to me and it made me uncomfortable interacting with them. 

Freshman year of college, I had enough. The guys were mean! I hated life. I still remember the evening I called my mother in a bout of tears begging her to get the eye-alignment surgery (a surgery where they cut and restitched the loose eye muscle). I think she felt bad for me, and agreed. I got that surgery about a week before my 19th birthday-- right before winter break was over. My eyes were blood red in the first couple days, but when they finally started to heal, I got a new-found confidence. I enjoyed being in photos. I wasn't afraid to make eye contact. I just felt better about myself. That surgery - although it was cosmetic and did nothing for the underlying vision problem - was the best thing that happened to me because of the way it changed the way I feel about myself. 

Fast forward to today, where my self-confidence is bottled up under many of my current physical traits (i.e. breakouts, weight gain, and my eye turn coming back,). I still struggle with  'feeling pretty'. I struggle with looking at other women and wishing I looked like them or had their {enter beautiful trait here}. But there are days when I can look in the mirror and say, "ha! you don't look half bad today, Jhan". And then I smile and snap a selfie.

June 20, 2015

Drew Reunion

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 My 5-year college reunion was the last weekend in May and it was surreal. I can't believe five years has gone by so quickly! Sometimes it is still a little hard for me to believe that I am getting older-- only a few more years from the big 3-0. I definitely do not see my current self as the young, naive girl I was in college. I have grown so much in these last 5 years, I would not change anything for the world. However, as I visited campus with my friends, and I reflected on my time at Drew University, I wish I knew then what I know now. That old saying "Hindsight is 20/20" is so true in this regard.


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My dear friends rented a beautiful house for the weekend, but I only stopped in and spent Saturday with them. We headed to campus and gave ourselves a tour of the updated buildings. Drew is a small, private-university, so just about everything was small and quaint and just right for the number of students attending the college. (My friends and I joked about how our school was so small, we felt as though we knew everyone just because we saw them every day. But, when it came time to recall names, we failed miserably. Not to mention, we had our own names for people like "Burster" - for the girl who sporadically sprinted across the paths or down the hallways at the drop of a hat.) Many of the updates were so impressive, we hardly recognized the building from the inside. Our Student Center and Hall of Sciences were some of the major ones. My favorite part of our self-tour was walking down the hallways of the science building, reminiscing about which room we had cancer biology in, who our favorite professors were, and discovering many photos from our year on the walls, and in their own album!


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Not many people from our year were at the reunion activities on campus, but the majority of us in my circle of friends made the effort to be there. I really enjoyed spending time with them. It was as though we had never lost contact, grown a little older or led separate lives away from living within several feet of each other, dance marathons, and fourth meals from Cluck-U. I love friendships like that. We ended the evening with dinner, playing a couple rounds of UNO and several really intense games of Jenga. I never knew I was so good at Jenga until then.

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May 27, 2015

A Weekend Getaway

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One of the perks of living in the Philadelphia area is that there are so many options for getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. From a two-hour drive to the Pocono mountains to a less than two hour drive to the Jersey shore, there are many choices to getting away for even an overnight trip.

A couple weekends ago, Beau and I took off on an overnight trip to the Cape May/Wildwood NJ area. We stayed at a quaint little Bed & Breakfast (The Sea Gypsy) in Wildwood where we got to meet and chat with another couple at breakfast. We rode bikes together around the area, walked the boardwalk, and ate at a local diner. (Sidenote: I love diners, and am partial to ones in New Jersey.  Late nights at a college in North Jersey did that for me.) The next day we ventured off to Cape May. We ate expensive ice cream, bought a ton of salt-water taffies, photographed the bay and walked the beach, where we spotted some dolphins not too far away.

Sometimes we need a little break from the cares of life. And as young couple, we often need the time to clear our minds and regroup.

May 20, 2015

Lately: Wants

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photo via here


Lately, I've been finding myself extremely frustrated with a lot of things. I have mainly been frustrated with situations and circumstances which ultimately is a result of hoping things were different. As time continued to progress, my frustrations have increased, however, I became less aware of what it was that I am frustrated with and more caught up in the fact that I was just  plain miserable. I have then decided to take some time to pin-point and evaluate these frustrations. What is it that and I want, and why I am frustrated that I do not have them. I constructed a list and this is what I have come up with... I want/would like to:


  • Begin my career
    • it would be nice to invited to an interview for a position and either be offered a position on the spot or even get a phone call that they are offering me a position. That is something I have yet to experience. I love medicine. I enjoy science. I would love to start my career in this field and have joy in teaching others, training others, or even gaining ore knowledge in this field as I go along. 
  • Completely furnish and decorate our home.
    • after two years of marriage, we finally have a sofa in the living room. One that we paid off on our own and there is no debt behind it. Of this, I am exceptionally thankful and happy about, but I wish we could have every bit of this place furnished and decorated.
  • Start a family.
    • I don't know, but something about getting married instantly had my heart set on raising children and having a family of our own. It hurts that my husband shies away from 'baby talk', and the longer we go on in our marriage without even as much as a tentative date as to when we will start trying for kids, the more hopeless I become... the more sad and wanting I am when I see other families, other pregnant women. I become bitter and think that it will never happen for us, because right now, my husband says he's not ready. And quite frankly, I guess we're not. 
  • Travel.
    • I want to take the train across the the U.S. To see the mountains in the midwest, the trees and the waterfall trails in the Pacific Northwest. I want to see my feet standing in clear blue waters in the Caribbean, and walk through soggy fields in Ireland. I want money (or lack thereof) to not be the sole deterrent from going to these places. 
  • To be happy. Content. Joyous
  • That wanting something (these things specifically) doesn't make me ungrateful or needy in the eyes of others. That people would not look at me and say cliche Christian things like "Well, if it is a part of God's plan for your life, then..." I just want to express what I've had bottled up within me for some time now and just have not had the time to sit down and think about why I have been in such a crappy mood lately. Also to think about what I would really like to accomplish in life.
In the end, I have what I need at the moment and that is enough. It suffices. I am sure that many of my wants will be fulfilled in the not too distant future. 

March 8, 2015

#DearMe: Advice For My Younger Self

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Study, study, study. You can't always get by on being the "smart one" in class. Develop better studying habits. You'll need it in college.

Love yourself. This is something you will struggle with for a good portion of your life, but maybe if you start working on it now, you will build some sort of foundation that will get stronger over the years.

Forgive. Forgive your mother for all the hurt. Be more forgiving of your own mistakes.

There is something special about you. You are kind-hearted and sweet. You have a gentle spirit and many people you encounter in life will notice that about you, though you will think nothing of it. You will find favor with many people.  Don't take it for granted. Embrace it. Continue on in that sweet loving way. There are many things that you will encounter in life that will try to rob you of that joy and sweetness, but it will not leave. It is a part of you. It is your core.


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