Best version… of myself!

Honestly….. the last few weeks have been some dark times in my world.

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My days are filled with lots of life; work, tasks, to-do’s, conversations, being an adult (and all the resposibilities that come with that), it’s been an emotional roller-coaster, AND the non-stop thoughts and ongoing battles of truth and lies fighting to win in each moment in my headspace – has been a bit overwhelmingly exhausting.

My nights are filled with restlessness. Unsettledness. Dreams of past conversations and conversations I’ve never had – my subconsciousness – perhaps struggling to predict (or control) future moments, and the emotions that come with that…. whatever all that is – sleeping restlessly and waking unsettled has been beyond tiring.

During the day I so look forward to the night and sleep. At night, when I’m not sleeping, all I want is for the day.

 

We all have moments in life – perhaps similar to what I just described.  We live our days hoping (and oftentimes praying) for some relief from all those bits, singularly or combined. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.  I am beginning to see the value of leaning in. Praying – talking to God – even when I don’t “feel” like it or when I don’t believe heaven even hears (or will actually do anything about it).

Pain is….. unpleasant. Loss is….. painful. Change is….. extremely tough – but ultimately I believe it is all for our good (and potential growth if I/we allow it to shape and affect us.)

None of those words (or what they encompass) are my favorite – but I can say;  as a result of all the things written in the lines and paragraphs before this……

I am better today, then I was yesterday (or the day before that) – I am the best version of myself – right now, in this moment!  

How is that even possible? I’ve asked that countless times in journal pages, in conversations, in counseling sessions. The answer – although there is much Uncertainty. Pain. Emotion. Exhaustion…. my pursuit of truth, my seeking God’s goodness and faithfulness in spite of feelings, my putting one foot in front of the other, my choice to get up, out of bed, no matter the emotion or physical state – to be a functioning human —- wins and I am able to say – I am and will be – ok!

I heard a song recently – which rocked my world.  It’s truth…. ‘you’re gonna be ok’ echos in my head and heart countless times throughout the day. I am moved (VERY often) – listening to its words. One of my favorite lines is;  ‘put one foot in front of the other – you’re gonna be ok!’

Listen:  You’re Gonna Be Ok – Brian & Jenn Johnson

Just like me…. you’re gonna be ok! Deep breath my friend… one foot in front of the other… and we’ll make it through it all – together!

~ much love, always!

 

Stories… journey… and my people

I know, I know… it’s been ages since I wrote! The last months have been full with wrapping up 2016, doing life, and figuring out some things in both personal and professional fronts. I haven’t posted – not because I haven’t written, but sometimes my writing is for me, my way of processing life and there’s sometimes value in keeping those between me, my journal pages and heaven.

I don’t often go back and reread my previous blog posts, but I’m sure I’ve written on the importance and value of community and having people around you – to support you, it’s core truth in my world and in recent weeks, I’ve seen that even more evident and hold even more firmly to that.

As I’ve written before, February is one of my least favorite months. There’s lots of emotions that swirl around these 28 days. The past three February’s I’ve lost someone; my Mom, my grandfather, and my cousin. They were all losses, causing grief both personally and within extended family. These days are always charged with emotions and unsettledness, and sadly this year has been no different. However – this year a new dimension of loss was added. I have not been openly posting or broadcasting a relationship I was in the last few months mostly due to wanting to give it space to become something (or not, as it turns out), but with any good thing, there is potential risk, and sadly you can’t always pick the expiration date of “good things”.

So all relationship ending – whether death, mutual agreement to walk away, choice or not – have an effect. And I am no different.

I can tell you the roller-coaster of emotion from this month, loss of my Mom, and the grief that will always be part of my life – of the things I’ll never share with her, the loss of extended family, and the loss of a relationship (that was good, sweet and tough all at the same time) is very present these days.

But……. I can say that although I would never wish suffering, grief, loss, pain or heartache on anyone – I can say I am thankful, as I have seen the most gloriously beautifully breathtaking care, love and support from heaven, practically played out through my people – my “tribe” – like never before.

These people have walked all types of seasons of life with me. Some good and happy. Some tough. Some for long seasons – years even. Some for just a few weeks or months… and the most amazing and beautiful thing about each one – is they support, care and love in their own way and that has met needs in me that I didn’t even knew were there.

I occasionally question my story, my journey, and its purpose. Why can’t it be ‘easier’? Why can’t I write MY own plot line, characters and of course happier endings? Why…. why…. why….

Just a few  potential “why’s” I’ve been thinking through this week…:

  • God shows up when we’re hurting in ways we never expect to see Him (or even look for Him to be)
  • We see the kindness and care of people in our world, might be close friends, family or just passing acquaintances, and that concern expressed allows us to see humanity in a new light
  • We feel relief that our hurt or pain our vulnerability (although oftentimes we’re scared to show) has been seen, not rejected – and has been embraced or even celebrated.
  • We feel alive, as pain is demonstration of awareness (although sometime wish we could just stop breathing…..)
  • and…. many more.

*I was reminded again this past weekend at LCBC Church that my story is PERFECT for what God is hoping to accomplish with it! (Check out the message here. Actually the whole Purpose Driven Life series was awesome – so worth catching up on!)

So….. those are my rambling thoughts, perspectives in this seasons. (They were perhaps infused with a delicious underscore of Moscato, but no less true.)

So to all those in my world….. thank you for overlooking my less-than-sunshiney demeanor. I so appreciate the conversations, the messages, smiles, check-ins, hello’s, the space, the prayers, the “just thinking of you”, the chocolate cake, the flowers and honestly – for just BEING YOU!!! I am overwhelmed (so very often) how God has been more than faithful in my life — and you are very much part of helping me SEE HIM in the sadness, pain – life!

Much love. Always.

Friday… (and here is it again)!

imageWhen I was younger, Friday was my favorite day of the week. It was a work day, so I felt accomplished and a valuable member of society, but then it was the night that kicked off the weekend – which most of the time meant friends, social moments, relaxing and fun.

But with age comes… Perspective. Responsibility. Exhaustion. Mental gymnastics….. Life.

And that Life has a way of changing, altering, hindering, freeing, pulling, pushing, ripping apart, putting back together, adding, subtracting, editing…. and oftentimes in areas we never wanted to be different. And as if that wasn’t enough, with each of those things, those moments oftentimes have physical, spiritual or mental adaptation that must accompany.

I used to think maturity was just a by-product of aging… But with each passing year, and with the countless interactions with humanity, I’m not convinced it’s solely the passing of time that brings maturity – I think it’s much more related to all the circumstances, the interactions and reactions to the things mentioned previously – the working to figure out the next step forward, while being intentional to let it shape you for the better, and not make you frustrated, sad, lonely or hopeless.

Yes – that all sounds so dramatic, but there are times when drama – and feeling the full gamete of circumstances either makes or breaks you.

So Friday’s (and the weekends) used to be my week’s highlights….. but the older I get, the more those few days have become less shiny.

I’ve had people comment on my “fullness of schedule”. They’ve mentioned how they envy my ability to go, do, be, anytime I want, with seemingly no limitations on my time, or expectations from anyone.

Yes, I’ll admit, there is definitely freedom that comes with singleness, but there are also emotions, thoughts and feelings that I would challenge most anyone who have not been in serious relationship or married before their mid-30’s – to feel, to sit in and truly experience. It can be gut-wrenchingly painful.

Please hear me… I’m not complaining about my life – I honestly LOVE it. I love what I get to do, who I am, the “freedom” I have, but those moments, where all those ‘limitless, free, no-one-demanding-my-time-and-attention-moments’, stare me squarely in the face, for what feels like the millionth Friday night, AND Saturday, AND Sunday without a hope that it’ll ever be different. There are times, in those moments where you question if you missed an obvious “directional sign” (that apparently everyone else and their brother got along the way), or the “this is your life-direction marker”…. smack me hard in the face (head and heart).

I think I used to love Fridays…. and weekends, because it was filled with non-stop things, people, activities that allowed me to be distracted – to feel, fun and good times, and didn’t allow space to feel, think or face growing up. Life was fun. Full. Distracted and I loved it. All of it.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered the value of intentional down-time, for lots of reason, BUT along with that, was also faced with reality of being alone with me! When the week is busy…. and evenings are full with after-work errands, groceries, catching up with occasional friends, again there’s not much space for emotions.

Adaptation, not only to your own life-circumstance is tough, but when it feels like everyone else’ statuses changed; weddings, babies, family, work, pets, etc/etc….. and everyone’s lives are “perfect” and progressing weigh tough on you, it takes effort to figure out how to be with yourself and be ok with it.

There are moments when I get it! But then there are moments when Friday rolls around (and here it is again)……. and a small bit of panic grips my head and heart……. What if I don’t have plans, make plans or be asked to join someone else’s plans….? Can I once again be ok – being face to face with ME and the countless ‘I am… but….” conversations.

Yes, I am complete…. but desire something more
Yes, I am content…. but still love the extended invite
I am confident…. but feel isolated in flying solo
I am fun…. but it is just better shared with others
I am loved….. but I want to love

There has been (and frequently still is), the desire to just fill time, watch movies or go shopping or just do anything – to avoid time with me, and it has been ok, and possibly the right choice. But there are other moments, when I choose to just be with me, to feel – even when it’s painful and not pretty, and I know after the moment as have passed, that I’ve moved a tiny smidge forward!

I obviously don’t have much of life figured out… but I’m hopeful that one day I’ll have moved a significantly marked distance forward. Life is a process….. thankful I’m still learning!
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So why write this? Great question. There’s part of me that always hesitates before I post. Am I too honest, too vulnerable…. maybe I am! But there’s always a little nudge to hit post, because maybe there’s someone else feels like this, but can’t find the words to express it, and this might just be the thing that helps move us all forward!

Was it worth it…?

It’s been awhile since I wrote…. I actually hadn’t intended to write now, but had a conversation this week that moved me then, and even now, it lingers. The comments, challenge, truth, emotion and encouragement are still tumbling around in my head – so what do I do? I write. 

So a friend shared a story of his extended family member. Some of the details may be off, but the impact was dead on. He described the adventures and some details of their big life – led the way they felt God designed. And in spite of much criticism and questions, even from family – regarding ministry, never marrying, lack of kids/grandkids….. the question was asked, ‘in the end, was it worth it?’

I sat there listening. Occasionally wondering what the story had to do with me, and why it had to be shared now, in the midst of a busy afternoon… But I’ll admit, I was intrigued by the story.

I was moved. 

Memorized. 

And all along, I sat waiting to hear the response to the question – because I have asked myself that same one, more times than I care to confess. 

“In the end, wIll it be worth it?’ 

The response shared with me was more vulnerable and honest than I expected. It’s not word, for word, but it’s impact is lasting. 

I DAILY feel some type of emotion, the full gamete of them all…. the joy of freedom of living my life, able to go, do, be… but there’s the full swing of emotions, the sorrow of soloness, not having someone to care for and be cared by………’ 

Then it was this statement that smacked me upside the head. 

However, I am not willing, and have not been willing, to compromise or MAKE something happen… just to live a life others want me to live. So yes, it has been worth it!

Can I (now) and in the end, say the same? 
Is it worth it? 

Is the life I have – worth it? 

The experiences (or lack) I’ve had?

The cultural (and occasional family) pressure to be somewhere different. To have a different – less time-consuming, less demanding job. To get the husband. Have the kids. Create the family…… And is it worth it….. when my all-too-frequent battle of – “what if I just tried harder……” stirs inside my heart. 

Will it be worth it? 

I keep going back to the statement…… “I’m not willing to compromise to make something happen…… just to live a life others want me to live…”

I’m not saying – hard work or putting oneself in good places, with the right people isn’t good – but there’s often a choice to not ‘make it happen’. I don’t want to manipulate or control – even if it’s something I want. I choose, to take the next moment – whatever it holds – believing God actually does have a plan for my life, and it is good…. AND that I’m IN it. Now. It is not a far-off plan… it’s here. now!

I won’t pretend that not ‘making it happen’ is sometimes the hardest thing… I’m great at details and accomplishing the task at hand, especially when it’s something I want… FYI, not making it happen is not sexy or easy…… but often it’s the ‘right’ choice. 

So…….. is the life I have, the one I get to live out every day, as it is – worth it? Sometimes the answer is a choice, (moment to moment…)… but YES, it is, and I’m convinced it will be totally worth it! 

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*Incredibly thankful that Jesus meets me, when I need it, where I need it, how I need – even when I don’t even know I needed it! #goodgoodFather

Good, even in the darker times… 

There are moments when, the 20 months since my Mom’s passing, have felt way longer than just that year and a half. And there are times when those 607 days, seem as though time hasn’t passed at all, and I’m once again, waking up, heading to the hospital to sit with Mom and wait………FullSizeRender

I’ve had opportunity the last year and a half, to talk to people who have lost – and their perspective, their experience, has similarities to mine. We share that, some-days-you-feel-like-you’ve-‘moved on’ and other days it seems like you’re right back ‘in that moment’ – living those days all over again, feeling every little thing, all over again!

Grief and loss and our responses and reactions to it, seem as individual as the ones we lost, but we all respond in some way. We can’t force progress, as every step is meaningful and necessary.

And as much as I’d like to say I’ve figured out how to do roller-coaster emotions and have figured out how to grieve gracefully, there are moments, where I am slammed, like on the floor, tears streaming down my face, mascara everywhere, trying to catch my breath. I wish I could say that I’ve moved on and that emotions are completely under control, that the sadness of loss comes and goes quietly and quickly, and that i have the resolve to publicly remain sunshiney, ready to march on into my future, without Mom…… but some days, that is not the case.

Some days, emotion still hits – strong. Almost suffocating. The quiet moments Mom and I had in her hospital room flood back. It’s the real-time, slow-motion stuff. Her raspy words, softly spoken, few, now sacred, held tightly in my heart, and yet they have a way of creeping into my head and soul, cracking the scab I thought had become a healed scar, forever impacting who I am, who’ve I’ve become and will become as the years move me steadily along.

Those moments of feeling – everything – to that point where there’s nothing left, nothing to hold yourself together, no strength to just be “ok” – those moments of pure vulnerability and realness… when the only thing to do is to be raw and truly broken… and the only thing you can say is “please, God, meet me here……”

Pain shows itself…. sometimes in the busyness of life and sometimes it’s only there when you slow down, when you try to catch your breath, find a rhythm, and sometimes it’s there, even if you’re not seeking it out. Pain demands to be felt.

People have told me that grief and loss is a process. I’ve learned there is an intentional process, the grabbing emotion and the affects of the void (a void that can never be filled) and working through it, but there’s also the other part, the emotion, that will come, on anniversaries – when it’s expected, but also, as my sister says, it’s the sneak-attack, when it demand to be felt, seen, thought about, worked through, and experienced.

I don’t like pain.

I don’t like emotion.

I don’t like feeling the depth of my loss, of hurt, the void, and yet I know, in those moments, my deepest pain creates potential for God to step in, in the deepness of sadness, and somehow bring peace and show who He is. He’s not the one who caused the pain, the hurt, or even her death, but He’s more than willing to step in those moments, to sit in all the messy, broken, emotional process and do it with me!

There are moments when I hate that this is the life and the journey (I had no choice) to walk. I didn’t want this and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, and yet, even in the pain, the hurt, the emotion, the darkness, I can say there is good, and I am thankful. Thankful that even if all I can say, is “God will you help me?!”, that it is a conversation, part of relationship with God, that I may not have had otherwise.

God is not afraid of my vulnerability, my brokenness, my tears, or even the silence, when words seem to be meaningless. He never promised an easy life, without pain, loss – but He promised to be with me, in it and for that, I’m beyond grateful!

There is good, even in the darker times…

“The Seasons of my (our) Life…

As mentioned in my last blog, months ago, I wanted to start doing some “co-writing” with my Mom. She had many journals and pages filled with thoughts and writings, some unfinished and some more personal than I will ever share, but there are several – that as I read them, I saw myself in them, so thought we’d write together!

If I were to describe the seasons of my life it would probably look like a roller coaster.  It certainly wouldn’t be a gently sloped incline or even a hill with plateaued area, no it would look like hills and valleys.

An intriguing thought to consider what that might say about me…

I admire those I know who have started at point A and year by year moved steadily forward.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they knew the path or  that they could see further ahead than anyone else, but someone there was this steady, consistence and an assurance that “this is the next step.” For all of us there are surprises and unknowns but they seem less affected by those things.  They don’t seem to be such a distraction or result in a valley detour……” (March 2013)

As I read her words, I thought back on previous writings here, and the many pages of those same thoughts and wondering in my personal journals. Why is it that some people just seem to have things planned, their lives “storyline” seem so clear, so sure, a storybook, carefully laid out and beautiful and mine looking messy and uncertain, and very much out of control?  I’ve walked years with many questions, some tough moments, a few trials (which many see trivial compared to some others) and definitely made errors.

In conversations with people, they have questioned my feeling of “wondering” as apparently I live confidently and sure, even in my uncertainty.  I ask questions constantly.  I think and probably over think, but in my attempt to live life fully – even in the midst of uncertainty and unclarity, swirling emotions and all that life throws my way, I know I’m not just haphazardly living my days.  I choose, on some level my path.  I choose, and recognize, the impact those decisions have on those around me. And I pray that my life, although occasionally feeling it is just wondering, is the way I should go!

One of my Mom’s favorite books in the Bible was Isaiah and one of my favorite parts in it says:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying; “This is the way, walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21)

I can’t tell you how many times, in my wondering, my many uncertain, questioning times, where those words were the only thing that made me confident that I wouldn’t just wonder off a cliff somewhere. Those seven words helped bring clarity and surety that my life wasn’t just happening around me and I had to react to it, but that there was and is a plan, and I just need to stop, be still, listen and then “walk in it”!  (I’m not saying I hear CLEAR words from heaven telling me to do this specific thing, but the small reminder that I am not doing life alone.)

So as Mom wrote, I may not have a clear Point A and a determined destination, other than knowing my Point A, I think was birth and my destination is death – and on into eternity, and between then and now, it’s a one step at a time deal and taking a breath at a time, and continuing to ask questions, to do the next thing, to walk through doors that open in front of me, to pursue things I want and to allow myself to be pursued instead of running away all too often.

I wish I could sit down with my Mom and ask her where this thought, and further writings would’ve landed her, but for now – I love being able to sit, quietly thinking and processing what I think she would’ve said or where that would’ve taken her.

I love doing this journey called life, and even without her, in the good and tougher times, remembering her and her influence in years past, and now, makes me realize I still have a long way to go!

Co-writing…

Sunday started my little two day get-away. Life has gotten full, stressful and I’m finding it hard to create margin and care for myself. Yes some of that is choices I make, some of it is just the business of life, but I’m learning I need to create the space, because it doesn’t just happen anymore!

IMG_5595So here I am… away. Taking a breather. Sitting on the oceanfront condo patio for 2 days: watching, listening, thinking, breathing, resting, “wasting time”! It is glorious. My agenda for these days was to do nothing! Wake up (or sleep) – when I wanted to. Read – if I wanted to. Write – if I wanted to. Watch endless hours of HGTV. Have a glass of wine (or two) – if/when I wanted. I’m 24 hours into my time and it’s been just that and I’m incredibly grateful to get this time.

So before I hit the road, I grabbed a few books, magazines, journals and a few notebooks I collected from Mom’s stuff after she passed, books I had intended to read through ages ago, but I was always to afraid of the emotions I would experience reading her words… but today I had courage to open their pages.

Each pages was filled with the handwriting of my IMG_5594Mother and seeing her words, that flowed from her heart so freely was overwhelming.

One book was filled with her questions and prayers. One was her journal filled with reflections and thoughts on Bible verses. The third was her writing “practice”; stories, blogs and idea frameworks for ideas she had intended to eventually write from.

Each page and each word was a reminder of who she was, who I knew her to be and glimpses into who I had yet to see. She was a writer. Her words and her heart were beautiful.

After Mom passed February 2014, I had several people ask how I would memorialize her memory, celebrate her life and allow myself to heal. At first I wasn’t sure what I would do, and even the past few months I wondered what I could do, to keep her memory close. However today – sitting along the shore (a place Mom loved to escape to and write), and while reading through her pages and words, I’ve decided to write “with” my Mom. Some of the blog posts (to follow in the coming weeks) will be a partnership, between my Mom and me; 2 writers separated for the time being. We are different and yet similar and I am honored to have known her, to call her Mom and now, co-writer!

Treasuring her words – like never before.