Modern art

On September 23rd I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago to see the acclaimed Takashi Murakami exhibit: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg. It was the last weekend to see the exhibit, so I bought some tickets beforehand and was able to snag an early time to avoid most of the crowds.

The art was beyond anything I’d ever seen before (very interesting!). And the stories/ideas behind it were amazing to learn about. I spent about an hour exploring the exhibit and another 45 minutes seeing the rest of the museum. The entire museum is pretty small, which is nice as we know most museums can be overwhelmingly large and tend to take a day or more to take in everything.

Please enjoy my pictures below. Did you check out this exhibit? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

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Do you even riot, bro?

Riot Fest Chicago 2017 was this past weekend. It was only my second time attending Riot Fest, but I’ve attended similar music festivals (i.e. Lollapalooza) many times. This past weekend was a blast!

Friday night opened up with amazing acts like New Order and Nine Inch Nails. Saturday I took it easy, and Sunday I partied the hardest with The Vuluptuous Horror of Karen Black and Prophets of Rage. Overall, an amazing weekend of talent and entertainment. Before the fest, I ran 20 miles on Thursday morning for Chicago marathon training. I hit the gym twice (Friday & Saturday) and I made it to church on Sunday morning. I had 4 days off work and I feel like I definitely got the most I could out of my time off.

The only bummer part was Paschen being sick and missing Friday & Saturday of the fest, but we made up for it on Sunday. Epic. I also ran into my cousin on Sunday after we kept missing each other on Friday and Saturday. Enjoy the photos, and if you’d like to see some videos check out my instagram @tanoshii66

 

 

At first, because of the crowds, I was tentative to go next year, but I think it’s worth it to attend this festival again in the future. Did you go to Riot Fest? Did you enjoy it? Would you go again? Do you like concerts? Do you even riot, bro? 🙂

What faith means to me

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Some common questions I get from friends, family, and acquaintances:

  • Why are you not more angry over what happened to you?
  • How is it that you’re happy despite everything you’ve been through?
  • How is it you continue to believe in God even after He took away everything you wanted?
  • How do you find your strength and courage?

I’m here to tell you that this journey I’ve been on, the one I call faith, has not been the easiest one. It has had it’s ups and downs, and I fully expect it to for the rest of my life. A quick look at my history within the Christian realm:

I was raised Catholic. For three elementary school years, I attended two different Catholic schools. The three years were miserable, with the third taking the cake. My mom listened and showed me grace by placing me in the local public school starting in 4th grade. But no fear as I continued CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) through middle school. Basically, continuing education for Catholics. After I graduated high school and went away to college, I decided to officially stop pretending to be Catholic and leave religion for the old ladies with rosaries.

During my first semester in college, I dated a guy who wanted me to “know Jesus” so I dumped him. #byefelicia. By the second semester, I was lost, alone, and sad. Someone invited me to a bible study, and I went mostly to just make friends. Through the small group, I started making some amazing friends. And I discovered Campus Crusade for Christ. While I was a part of the small group, I didn’t really get into Cru until my sophomore year. Through this small group and the amazing things I did with Cru, I accepted Jesus as my savior and chose to have a relationship with Him. The rest is history. But like I said, it hasn’t been an easy journey. At times, I’ve fallen away from my faith, but I’ve always had my belief in God to fall back on. A crutch, if you will. Even when I disobey, I still feel His love.

But I never needed it as much as I’ve needed it over the past two years. Through the death of a parent, a divorce, a life-changing move and now marathon training, I’ve never felt closer to God. And that’s where I am now.

This past week, we celebrated our 5th birthday at my church (Free Church) and this amazing pastor Brett Jones visited us and had an amazing message. And it’s too good to keep inside. So this is my version of it. Welcome to my mind. Make yourself comfortable, today we go deep.

(Genesis 22:1-14)

It’s important for us to know that not every test comes from Satan. The life of a Christian should be expanded and grown upon. For example, one way to know if someone is ready to be passed from one grade to the next is to test them. God doesn’t test you to break you. He tests you to prove you. The difference between temptation and test: Satan tempts you. God tests you. One is to destroy you, the other is to promote you.

A sure way to wreck your life is to think you can take everybody with you. God calls you for your assignment and you alone must go. Some people need to stay with the donkey (Genesis 22:5). Don’t try to take them where they don’t have grace to go. Abraham knew that something was going to happen on that mountain that the young men he was with couldn’t handle. There are some places that only you and your sacrifice can go.

Most of the time there isn’t a crowd when God proves himself to you. God will allow you to prove yourself and He will rewrite the story after your proving ground. If you’ll give God your stuff, He’ll give you His stuff. This story in the Bible introduces one of the greatest themes of the Bible: substitution. Abraham and Isaac met God on a hill outside of Jerusalem. Abraham saw a lamb (substitution), Jesus was the lamb.

Jesus was crucified on the same hill where God tested Abraham, just thousands of years apart. As Abraham climbed that hill, his thoughts centered around the death of his only son. As God climbed that hill, his thoughts centered around how amazing Abraham was and his amazing will to pass the test He was placing on him. His faith led him to where God wanted him. God tied up a lamb to replace Isaac as the sacrifice. And Abraham had no idea this all was in store for him, he just took a step in faith.

Are you living in faith or fear? Do you check everything before taking every step? Do you over-analyze everything going on? God sees the whole picture. He is the author of our story, and He has the ability to rewrite it. Even if you feel like you’re destined to live without God, anything is possible. Even if you feel too evil, or too far from Jesus, He still loves and chooses you. If you’re interested in learning more about what I believe in, reach out to me. This is just a tiny snippet of my story, and my story is still being written.

Lots of love,

Jen

Dating in 2017 – a mental shift

Dating is dead, or so they say. In my opinion, it’s not completely dead, it has just changed into something very different compared to when I started dating many years ago. Back in the day, guys used to try. I remember my first date like it was yesterday. The nerves, the effort, the flowers (kinda), the missed first kiss, the sweaty palms. Wait, am I talking about a date or a sporting event? Oh, that’s right, this was when I was a teenager and dating in high school. Pretty sure I was way too nervous to even talk to boys at that point. So let’s fast forward to college.

In college, I was still weird (actually this never changed) so after a short but sweet long distance relationship, I turned to what was a new way of meeting people: dating websites. Even though I met people unconventionally, I still got to know them the organic way: through phone calls and dates/hanging out. And they still tried their best to impress me, or at least create a good time. Going on dates was fun. At one point, I met three different guys in the span of a week. Despite feeling like I had endless options (plenty of fish, anyone?), I settled on one of the three and ended up in a long term relationship with him.

Fast forward through even more awkward dates, some guys I met face to face, others also through the magical internet, I always appreciated the effort when a guy would try to actually court me. Not just bring me to Starbucks, but to actually plan something out like a nice dinner, or a local musical or concert. When they paid attention to what I like and executed a successful date based on similar interests we shared meant a lot to me. I actually have developed a similar skill where once I start to get to know someone, I pay attention to what their interests are and try to plan dates and events that would interest them.

Sometimes I feel like I can be a little aggressive though, and sometimes this backfires on me. There are many guys I’ve scared off due to my straight-forward, no-nonsense personality. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that if a guy can’t handle me, it’s his loss.

But with the new age dating, and the popularity of dating apps, dating has turned into more of a game. With the endless swiping you can do, it definitely feels like there’s an abundance of eligible single people out there. Some days I feel like I can swipe for ages, but never actually find anyone or anything interesting. It makes me yearn for the older days of simple dating. I just want to get to know someone. Someone who’s willing to get to know me, and try to court me as I try to court them. Make it a more even playing field, guys don’t always have to take the lead. But once in awhile, it’s nice to not have to wear the pants all the time. 🙂

What are your thoughts on the current dating scene? Are you dating or just laying low? Are you in a relationship? Or married?  Also, this image sums me up pretty well:

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Wonder Woman – Wizard World 2017

Last weekend, I attended my first Wizard World Comic Con here in Chicago. I went dressed as Wonder Woman, and I had a great time. Everyone was very nice and no one was too critical.

I got to see lots of other fellow cosplayers dressed up as many different characters, ranging from cartoon/anime to TV show and movie characters. I even saw an adult man dressed as Eleven from Stranger Things. My favorite, by far, were the storm troopers and anything Star Wars related. It made me miss my Han Solo costume.

But I had a great time actually dressed like a female hero for once. Who should I be next?

 

The power of positive thinking

A happy mind = a happy life. Joy is eternal, but happiness is fleeing. Happiness is a choice you have to make. You choose to either be happy or not. Only you can make the choice to see things positively or negatively, or maybe somewhere in-between. While it’s ultimately up to us, we don’t have to make the journey to happiness alone.

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It’s a great idea to seek outside of ourselves for sources of joy. I.e. faith, spirituality, or close friends and family. The only thing about seeking happiness from other people is that we are all human and we all make mistakes. We will always let each other down, especially if you try to find all your happiness in your significant other or spouse. This is a bad idea, as one day your partner may disappoint you. Then what? You’re no longer happy, and you feel like they aren’t happy either. Rather than depending on someone else for your happiness, find happiness in yourself. Love yourself first, then and only then can you love others. And true love doesn’t depend on happiness.

There will be days when you’re sad or angry. But that doesn’t mean you have to see everything in a negative light for the rest of time. As long as you continue to work towards having a positive mindset, all else will follow suit. It’s crazy the things that can happen once you change your outlook. Happiness can ooze from you with the right mindset.

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Is the glass half empty or half full? How far will you go with a negative mindset? Will you miss out on something in the sky when looking down?

 

Psychology of Behavior

Today I’m starting a new series. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and behavior of people. If you’re interested in participating in this series, please email me at jenlbrice (at) gmail.com. I’m looking to interview people and may potentially post up a survey to see how others see certain behaviors/situations in relation to this topic. Please note I am in no way certified in psychology or behavior. I’ve only taken a few classes in psychology and behavior through my undergraduate and graduate studies (MS in Biology). Instead, I am going to write about my viewpoints and opinions in regards to different every-day situations that people find themselves in and how they behave throughout them. I will be seeking feedback as I go, and will take requests. Are you interested in any particular situation? Do you need advice? I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to help, but I can and am willing to give you my thoughts towards whatever it is you’re going through.

While I’m not certified in psychology, I have been working with people in many ways since high school. I have a robust resume, both in the career and relationship realms. That being said, I do not know everything and I am willing to admit that. Also, every situation is different. The way people see things is different, because we are all a little bit different from each other.

Today we are going to dive right in on this topic that’s been on my mind lately. In regards to being cheated on, sometimes we blame ourselves. We ask what did I do to deserve this? Could I have done something different to avoid this? Was I not loving enough? Am I not lovable? But the truth is that it isn’t your fault. It’s the person who cheated on you. Think of it this way: they couldn’t handle you so they sought love elsewhere. But they can’t handle ANYONE. Love isn’t easy. Ever. With anyone. Love is a choice. And to love unconditionally is not natural. We actually rarely see monogamy in nature.

So why bother? Because when two people choose to love each other no matter what, a beautiful thing happens. The rare thing is beautiful. Like my grandparents who were married for over 50 years (and my grandma still loves my grandpa, rest his soul). When you find the right person, love won’t be “easy” but it will feel right. Like how God loves us, that is also not an easy love. We killed his only son, yet he still chooses us! He still chooses to love us. No matter what. No matter our sins, no matter our past. He wants us to seek Him and to love Him. It’s through this example of love we are to love one another. Definitely not easy but more than worth it. For the love of God can carry us up mountains, through valleys and everything in-between.

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It’s truly amazing to think about. If God can love us like this, we can love each other like this. I strive daily to show my love and joy for others. I want to share God’s love with other people.

So this is pretty deep, but the recent events in America have been tugging on my heart to talk about love. Love is real, love is hard, but it is the only way we will move forward. Love your neighbor, love your brother, and together we have a bright future.

Have you been cheated on? How do you view love? Do you think it’s supposed to be easy? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

I promise the next topic won’t be as deep. 🙂

Happy birthday, Mom

Today’s my mom’s birthday. Her birthday is exactly three weeks after mine, and we would always celebrate the time in-between by hanging out and shopping the summer sales. Historically, this time was always a time of happiness and joy. We made a great team and partnership: mother and daughter, best friends. The past two birthdays have been hurdles for me. While I still enjoy my birthday and appreciate all the well wishes and joy surrounding it, it’s this time after my birthday leading up to my mom’s birthday that just seems empty now.

While going through the holidays without her is hard, I find her birthday the hardest. I just keep thinking how she was robbed of her life at way too young of an age. Also, a part of me is sad to think she didn’t have a chance to meet her future potential grandchildren in person (looking at you, bro).

On top of everything else, in the past I have felt the transition from July to August to be emotionally draining. I’m actually feeling the strongest I’ve ever felt in my entire life, emotionally and physically. My faith is stable, my mental thoughts are steady. My legs carry me through, helping me achieve my goals during this marathon training season of my life. In addition to running, I’m also working out in other various ways in order to grow my strength throughout my body. I have other fitness-related goals that I’m achieving and surpassing as I continue to push myself further.

Overall, I’m in a good place, but I still fear this time of year. Maybe because my mom isn’t hear to listen to me vent. Or maybe because I try so hard to be independent when God created us to be interdependent. I struggle letting go of the control I think I have on things. I have trouble asking others for help. Feeling vulnerable. I’ve learned to lean on God during the best of times and worst of times. Now I need to learn to lean on others. Humans aren’t perfect, we all have our own issues and struggles. But without each other, we aren’t going to make it very far.

I already know I can’t do everything alone. I have an amazing support group in my family and friends. I also have a great therapist. The cherry on top is that I’ve joined the welcoming community at Free Church that I’ve fallen in love with.  And I started giving back by serving on the host team.

Just because you don’t have a microphone doesn’t mean you don’t have a ministry. Follow me on this journey that I call life. And know that while I’ll always miss my mom, I know she is proud of me and this manifestation of goodness and love in my life.

On Sunday I attended this Italian Fest in Milwaukee with Paschen. It was my 2nd festival I’ve ever attended in Milwaukee, Bastille Days back in 2009 being the other one. As per usual, I didn’t do much research so I was surprised when we got there that we had to pay for parking and to get into the fest. Were we in Chicago or Milwaukee? I thought Wisconsin was like the country where everything is mostly free or cheap. $10 to park and $13 to get in, then I had to pay even more to attempt to satisfy my raging hunger (which is normal).

 

Despite the cost to get in, I felt I was transported to Italy itself. Nevermind the highway right next to us, or the strange Wisconsonites, we felt like we were in Roma. The pizza was sub-par and the Bosco sticks K.O.’d us. But never fear, we found room for gelato and espresso. We also got to ride the ski lift but unfortunately it was too hot to ski. Wait why is there a ski lift and no mountain? Anyways. Overall, had a good time but pretty sure anything I do with Paschen would be fun, other than maybe watching paint dry. That’s never fun. 🙂

Festa Italiana

Anything but Ordinary

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You’re everywhere I look
No matter how hard I try
You have me hooked
A new kind of high

I’ve been deep in denial
But I’m a bad liar
Good thing I’m not on trial
My pants would catch on fire

I’m anything but ordinary
Not the easiest to catch
My past has made me wary
Even harder to become attached

There couldn’t be a more beautiful you
You have your own scars
But you couldn’t be more true
I could stay right where we are

But we push each other forward
Further than I ever thought I’d go
Becoming life explorers
Continuing to grow

Not your traditional poem, this one was made from the songs in my head.