April 30, 2015

when to say what

When I was in Seminary, a wise man who's job it was to help us to have good life/work/school balance gave me some advice. He told me to quit things that weren't life giving. He told me to say no, sometimes. He gave me permission to not always do everything. As a professional extrovert and recovering people pleaser, this was a hard thing for me to learn. I felt like I had to say yes to in order to maintain my popularity and friends and status as an ENFP (personality type by Myers-Briggs, which I embody to a T), etc, and that saying no would send me into a tailspin where I would inevitably be alone in my apartment with nothing to do, ever again. Never mind that I was doing too many things and having trouble keeping up with everything - it was more important to be busy and well-liked. He helped me realize I was saying yes to all the things at the expense of quite a few very important things. Like my sanity. Like my close relationships. Like my day planner which was tired of the abuse of overbooking. So I started taking stock of what was life-giving for me, and started saying no to what wasn't. 

It was glorious. Saying no was hard in the way that lets you know it's the right thing. Saying no gave me space to dig into what I really wanted instead of running late and leaving early because I had 4 other things to do that day, too. It was a practice that has also helped me to prioritize my husband and daughter, now that they are a reality of my life balance too. Though once I thought it impossible, I got pretty good at saying no, at cutting back when I needed to, at knowing when I needed to slow down.

In that season of life, saying no was what I didn't know how to do. It's what I needed to learn. It was so helpful and freeing to understand that I didn't have to do all the things. But here's the trick - now that I'm good at saying no, now that I have a life that's manageable and time for the things I think are important, it's time to re-learn how to say yes. It's time to take what I know about things that are life-giving and remember to embrace them when the opportunity arises. It is just as important to say yes as it is to say no. The balance is the trick - and there will be times when the scale is off, and I'll have to remedy it when it happens. But the yes is as important as the no. If not more so. While it is important to say no to things that are not life-giving, it is perhaps more crucial to learn to say yes to what is

And so, I am saying yes, with caution, to things that I discern will give me life. There are big things - like marriage, mom-ing, and job opportunities. There are big-ish things, like applying to blog on a bi-monthly deadline at Denver Metro Mom's Blog, and as such, allowing lots more people than I am used to read my inner workings and family details. There are smaller things, like asking my husband to cover for me for 43 minutes while I take a free online calligraphy class. There are also very minor things, like knowing when I need to replace binge-watching Law & Order: SVU or endlessly scanning my phone with reading a novel, listening to music, or writing. And sometimes, it means saying no to all of those things altogether so I can say yes to reading a book, "doing art," playing at the park, or singing a duet with the munchkin. Life. Give it to me.

Say no. Also, say yes. Do the delicate little dance that is balancing life, work, husband, home, child, personal sanity. Take a couple steps forward and a couple steps back. Start over when you have to. Fill your life so that your life fills you.

Denver Metro Mom's Blog

Hello my lovely blog readers - my posts may have become slightly more infrequent, but never fear!
You can find me as a contributor at Denver Metro Mom's Blog writing a bit more regularly!

My first post is up over there - check us out!

March 20, 2015

hello, spring

It was recently brought to my attention in a very threatening Facebook post that it had been a while since I’d written anything. Which is true. And the threat was very cute and welcomed, frankly. So to you, my sweet and faux violent followers, I thank you! Both for threatening me, and for not forgetting about me even though I straight up abandoned you. You’re the best people.

A quick life update, in lieu of excuses. Since August, I have: planned a wedding, started a new position at work, moved out of my tiny, downtown dollhouse apartment, executed said wedding (I got married!!), honeymooned on the gorgeous Caribbean, and adjusted to full time wife and mom duties all while continuously scrolling through wedding pics basically on the daily because it was the best day ever. So. It’s not an excuse, but it’s fun! And I’m hoping that will distract you adequately.
Now, as it is the first day of spring, I would like to write a love letter to Spring. Ohhhh myyyyyy you guys. I had no idea how much I missed the sun! I had no idea how I deeply longed for temperatures above 60! It’s not that it’s been so bad of a winter, though per the norm this time of year, I’ve had enough snow for my lifetime. But the minute the weather turned, when it started being warm enough to sleep with the windows open and wear short sleeves outside for a minute, holy moly. It rocked my veritable world.

I mean to tell you that within a 24 window of this change in the weather I had no lie knocked out my entire to do list, including approximately 1000 wedding thank you notes [hear no disdain in this – we are the most fortunate family in the whole entire history (as Ella would say) – there aren’t enough thank you notes in the world to convey our gratitude!]. Needless to say, spring hit me with a heavy dose of glorious joy and motivation. This has GOT to be where the whole idea of spring cleaning first came from. People sit on their bums all winter, begrudgingly donning a pair of reasonably fashionable Sorels and trying your darnedest to forget how glorious a cute pair of sandals feels on newly pedicured toes, and trudge out into the snow. Sad and frumpy. That’s what winter feels like after a few months. And then Spring – a glorious relief from all that blah. Makes people want to live clean, happy, sandaled and pedicured lives once again.

This has to be why there are seasons, in general. I get as excited, if not more so, about the thrill of putting on the first jacket of the Fall. So, maybe it’s me? Perhaps I just have weather ADD – I get sick of any extreme after a few months… or minutes. All these years I’ve thought I was bad at change, and it turns out I crave it quarterly! And good golly miss Molly have we had a little bit of change since August – and I think I’ve come through it pretty well, all said and done. What I have to show for it is a husband who cooks lasagna from scratch for my friends, a daughter who writes love notes and makes up a new funny voice on the daily, a job that keeps me busy and challenged, and the world’s best friends and family (new and old) – our wedding was both the proof and the pudding on that – and on top of all that?! The weather is positively FABULOUS.

This has been a superficial and borderline ridiculous foray back into the blogging world, but it’s what I had to offer to you, today, so there you go. There will be more coming – along with other exciting projects I’m going to be working on soon – so the internet hasn’t heard the last of me yet!
Happy Spring!

August 10, 2014

In January, we're getting married

Really and truly, I was over here all set to be a consistent blogger once again, complete with blogs in the bullpen just warming up to go out. My intentions were good… but then this very exciting thing happened, and needless to say, everything that is not being engaged has gone swiftly out the window. Not to mention - fair warning - I'm gushier these days than I've maybe ever been.  So while I am still hoping to be back and better-than-ever, the obvious must first be addressed. Obviously.
[Yes, in January -] we're getting married!! The long and short of it is I couldn’t possibly be happier. When I really sit and think about it, I can hardly believe it’s a real thing! It’s one of those you look forward to for so long, if only in an abstract way - for what seems like forever, you think about what it will be like when someday the time comes, and that, in itself, is fun. Then you meet a wonderful man and just being a dater [and talking on the phone for a million dates worth of time because your dater lives in the snowy mountains there for a bit], being in like and then like-like and then love [!] takes your thoughts for a good while. Then you and that wonderful man start talking, again, in something of an abstract way, about your future. Admittedly, you might spend a few extra minutes on the Pinterest wedding boards at this point, but still it’s just an idea in your head of what could be.

But then said wonderful man gets down on one knee at the Denver Botanic Gardens and knocks you off your feet with the most beautiful ring and most ecstatic feeling you’ve ever felt in your whole life and you realize you had no idea what you were getting yourself into. It’s just more than you could’ve ever imagined. It isn’t Pinterested or from the script of a rom com or even the same as hearing one of your friends’ relay their own happy tales. There is nothing abstract about it. It is a human person you’ve grown to adore more than you even knew was available from within yourself, standing in front of you in all your messy, imperfect glory, nervously and perfectly asking you to hang out with him forever. Because there is no other person he wants to watch Seinfeld re-runs with until the end of time other than you. I laughed and cried at the same time for so many minutes because it was the most and best I had ever felt before and the laugh-cry seemed the most apropos response.  
There is a song I keep getting stuck in my head and the line that's on repeat is this: He’s always been faithful to me. It would be tempting to try to forget the times that required some waiting leading up to this loveliness, but I will try not to do so. I will try not to gloss over them because they were important. They were meaningful. In a lot of ways, they made me who I am. Most of all what I want to remember is even at my most frustrated with the wait, God was faithful always. This new place in which I am a fiancĂ© is no different. Nor will it be in 6 short months when I am a WIFE, and we are a family. [!] God has been faithful. He will be again. I am full practically to exploding with gratitude.
I am so overwhelmingly grateful I get to share life with these two. I truly can’t think of anything more fun.

I would also like to take advantage of this venue to thank all of you, our nearest and dearest, for your overwhelming support in the form of texts, calls, Facebook likes, cards addressed to the Future Mr & Mrs, lunches, dinners & toasts, flights already booked, offers of help and further celebrations and you-name-it, and the general outpouring of love we have received since announcing our super fun news. I truly couldn't have anticipated the degree to which you've celebrated with us and met us in our excitement with yours. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Meanwhile, I ask for your patience as I try very hard to continue to write things whilst planning the best January Wedding since the Avett Brothers, with the understanding that every few sentences or so I have to stop because there is now something shiny consistently in my line of sight and I am obligated by what I can only imagine is a deeply ingrained biological urge to then gaze off, dreamily thinking about my future husband [or practicing my new signature, or thinking of something new I hadn't even thought yet to be excited about] for 30-50 seconds before returning to my task.



June 27, 2014

kid lessons: fling yourself

I have always been a huge fan of kids. They are the best and cutest teachers. If we were to unpack this here blogsite I would bet the number of posts I have written about something I learned from a kid would outweigh any other topic I have ever delved into; and today is no exception.
Riddle me this, adults: have you ever been standing around, relaxed stance, maybe chatting with someone or looking at your phone or not doing anything at all, and had a small person leap into your arms without warning and without abandon? Little EG and I play this out on the reg, and other children throughout my years have followed this same pattern. It’s cute, and sweet, and of course in the end you’re thrilled to have their affections. But done in such an unexpected manner usually makes my heart skip at least one beat. I will likely give a flustered little “don’t DO that unless I’m ready and/or paying attention!” speech, not because I’m mad, but because I am acutely aware in a way they are not that jumping upon my person without my awareness can cause them (but probably me) actual bodily injury.
The other day as this very scenario played out, I thought, what a beautiful, tangible display of trust that is. I mean, it’s a teensy bit stressful and generally makes my heart do a little cartwheel. (Heartwheel!) But do you remember what that was like? Trusting a person so much that you would fling yourself recklessly into their general direction because you knew deep in your being that you were loved, and as such would be caught, protected, and following a minor scare, delighted in?
As Ella leapt on me the other day and I looked at her happy little face staring at mine expectantly, I had this moment of pure, poignant sadness at the fact that I don’t do that anymore. As grown people, we have maybe had our fair share of experiences where, if only metaphorically, we have gotten dropped. Fell on our faces. We don’t get a job. Somebody breaks our heart. We fail. And we're embarrassed. Ashamed by our recklessness.
Those things, throughout life, are bound to happen every once and again. And as a result, we maybe don’t fling ourselves around so freely anymore. We calculate. We assess risk. We worry and we develop anxieties we then require medication for. We pray and then pray again and we clarify and we ask a bunch of questions and then maybe, just maybe, with a harness so tight it’s cutting off the circulation to our legs, we will make a jump. And after we do, we will worry we made the wrong choice. We will stress about new and different things. The cycle continues.
At some point, we had to learn to do this to protect ourselves from the possibility of harm. I get that. It makes sense, in light of the experiences we have, that we’d be wary. But you guys, it’s no fun. It’s a good skill to have when you’re in danger, but after living with a certain amount of caution, it can start to “protect" us from experiencing the good parts of our lives as well. Good, wonderful things will happen and we will be stuck in a pattern of stress, worry, harness, repeat, and we will miss out. Trusting recklessly can be harmful. But it can also be good. Good that we're missing out on if we're too busy calculating the risk to just take it.
I struggle with this, because I like to be in control, and perceived safety is control’s best friend. When I find myself white-knuckling the ledge, it’s a big statement on how I'm doing, overall. Stewing in a pot of anxiety before I make any decision, big or small, says to me in big bold letters that I am not living in a way that is congruent with what I know to be true about God. Which is, as it were, that he loves me, and as such will catch me, protect me, and delight in doing so. And just because I’ve been hurt before doesn’t mean I should rob myself of the opportunity to be caught, or the people who are deserving of my trust and self being flung at them the opportunity to do the catching. Only maybe I’ll give a little warning so nobody throws their back out. We're getting older, after all.
And there's a good chance in there somewhere I'll fall. But I'll be damned if I'm going to miss out on another second of all the delighting and loving and catching for a little safety of my own careful crafting. It’s so much better as the gift of relationship (both with Jesus and each other) that I know, from experience, it can be. 

April 17, 2014

Dolly'll never go away again

A few things.

Did you even remember that I have a blog? I barely did. I have been a super-slacker.
I have been busy.
I have never been very good at change.

Spoiler! The three are related.

Part of the reason for my hiatus has been very simple. I have been busy. My life has undergone some changes and has continued to be in a state of change since, and that has created a schedule which is busy. Fun. Exciting. Loving it. But busy. I wrote a blog about it, actually, which I then didn’t post. Because I was busy. And, if I’m honest, I got nervous. But we'll get to that.
You see, when said changes arose, I had been an adult for quite a few years already, and as such, I became accustomed to a certain kind of living. One where I was in charge of me, and that was pretty much all. I had roommates I cared about and lots of pals to help account for me, plus I have a family like most folks, so it’s not like I was completely self-involved or anything, but my days looked like this: I'd (most days) oversleep, rush off to work, then I'd stay up late hanging out in dive bars or I'd watch shows and write blogs into the wee hours and then I’d oversleep the next morning and start all over again. It was both a schedule and a way of life - if not ideal, in the long-term - that I got good at.

And now. Now I have a new job I want to be really good at/ not be late to. Now I have this wonderful other person who wants to spend time with me and know what I’m up to and a smaller person who also wants to know that but to the power of infinity. See? How great is that?

And I want the same from them! I want to hang out and spend time and get there at least before 8pm so I can squeeze a quick Frozen duet out of a tiny, tired girl. I’m just crazy about those two. Which means a few things, time-wise: to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and go to work earlier and get off earlier and then we can be together and hang out and laugh and sing songs and talk about our days. There’s not a whole lot of ancillary time to work with, you see, once you factor in that I still like watching the Bachelor, being in Book Club, drinking wine with ladies on the reg, etc and so on. Like I said. Busy.

But there was also a part of me, I think, that up until now has been a little unsure about what this new version of my life would look like on paper. Not for any logical reason, mind you. And not in a bad way, either. But there has been a lot of change. A lot of good and necessary and grown-up change. And since the changes to my life have been so important, so meaningful, I think I wanted to do them justice. I think I wanted to know who I was within the framework of the change before I could really put it out there for the rest of you. Does that make sense? It only half does to me. But the half that does, does. And in the space I’m in now, which is comfortable, wonderful, and still new but the kind of new that also feels like home, the words are spilling out of me in a way I remember well. A way I recall being very gratifying, solid, comfortable, and simultaneously terrifying. A juxtaposition, as a writer, I’ve always been pretty ok with. 

I can’t promise now I’ll be back to bi-weekly blog posts about the haps and goings on, because being busy and important and in high demand of a nearly-6 year old will continue to keep me busy (and consequently sleeping during my formerly prime blogging hours), but I am here today as a show of good faith. I will try to say some things in a bit more regular fashion.
Now is the part where I admit to you that I have a very "Hello, Dolly" scenario playing out in my head presently where Louis Armstrong is crooning at me: it's so nice to have you back where you belong... You're lookin' swell, I can tell...

Which should adequately prove to us all that while my circumstances may have been in flux, I am still the same old weirdo I've always been. I'm myself. Maybe even more so, which is such a nice thing to say in the wake of change.  

And, scene!

January 12, 2014

a happy little recap

As I mentioned on my farewell facebook status to the Mental Health Center of Denver, this job provided me with stories like I could never have imagined. And as a story-teller, that is truly a gift! And so, in honor of my departure from a place I really loved, here is a recap of the blogs that came out of this job, these people, those experiences.

From the time I realized that, as a case manager, I would very much like to have one myself:
please, someone, manage my case

From the time I learned that sometimes people just need to sing a little Whitney Houston:
help isn't always professional

From the time I spent my day helping a client save a stupid little bird:
stupid little bird

From the time I locked my keys in my car and - thank goodness - the fire station was conveniently located right across the street from our office:
game changers

From the time it was insisted I take a handful of root beer barrels:
for just in case you get nervous

From the time I realized my co-workers really knew me:
I'm an easy read

From the time being known by a co-worker helped me start to be fine:
fine or not fine, here goes nothing

From the time I got licensed and started asking what would come next:
no but seriously, what do I do now?

From the time I realized caring began when mental illness had faces:
things that don't have faces

From the time I was in the Denver Health waiting room and, after feeling embarrassed by a client's honesty, I realized that honesty shouldn't be embarrassing:
honest does not = embarrassing

From the time I shared a thing about people:
the thing about people

From when I knew that my new co-workers were going to be my for-real friends:
I can tell that we are gonna be friends

I am not just me

This is a post I wrote in 2011 when I was leaving my old job(s) to start at the one I've had for the past few years. And now, as I have officially wrapped up my last days at the Mental Health Center of Denver, I am having all the same sadnesses. Though transition is necessary, this change is good, and I am excited to be starting a new job on Monday, I am having some emotions about leaving this one.

Back in 2011, I complained so much about being unemployed. Not just occasional whining, not just "I have nothing better to say" complaints but genuine, heartfelt, deeply rooted complaint. So as the deeply transitional part of my life wrapped up, as I quit nannying and working part time at a million places, it came as quite a shock to learn that I was actually going to miss some of the things I'd been whining about. I was going to miss the baby, even though he could be tyrannical in ways I did not know babies could be. I was going to miss the Hedge Fund even though I still didn't really know what it was and I hated loading printer paper and my hands were always paper cut from filing.

So I fully understood that I sounded ridiculous - after being ready for a change for so long, finally getting what I wanted. I was very excited to have a job. And to the people who had fallen victim to my whining, I apologized in advance for the M. Night Shyamalan plot twist I was about to throw at them.

Even though I'd been dying to move on, as it turns out, I was also pretty sad about moving on.

Here is a fact about what it is like to be me: I am an attacher. I get attached. After prolonged periods of time with other humans, I find myself often inexplicably attached to them. It doesn't matter if they are tiny and refuse to take naps or if they are brusk money-handling types or adults with severe and persistent mental illness and a lot of needs they are looking at me to help them meet. It doesn't matter if they are normal or exciting or a lot to handle or wah-wah debbie downers.

When it comes time to leave them, I'm going to have to give myself a second to grieve it.

The annoying part is that I always forget this about me. At each transition, then, I almost always find myself caught off guard by it. When I got sad 3 years ago about leaving the babe, I remember wondering to myself if this attach-y way of being was really good, in the end. Maybe transitions don't have to be this hard every time. Maybe I can fix this about me.

But the thing of it is, wrong or right, I like it about me. I like that I get attached. I like that I feel the absence of people when they're not around anymore because it means they meant something to me when they were. I like that when I say goodbye [even if it's just an I-won't-see-you-all-the-time-anymore goodbye], my heart feels a pinch that stings for a while. There comes a time to move on, and I usually can. But the person I am right now in this moment, this person who interviewed for and was offered and accepted a big girl job and then stayed for some years until it was time to interview for and accept another one, that wasn't just me as I am right now in this moment.

It was Suzie's mentor. Bodie, Andrew, Gabe, Sara, Christina, Micah, Lucy, and even Luke's nanny. The hedge fund's trusty paper stacker. The most paranoid part-marker Weaver Manufacturing ever saw. It was my childhood best friend and the girl who bullied me in middle school art class and a bunch of roommates and the kid I taught how to fist bump at First Pres. It was the old lady who wanted help deciding [for hourssssssss] if she should buy Matchstick or Bootcut cords at JCrew. It is 20-something people's case manager and bonafide mental health professional. It was everyone I've ever been attached to and it was a bunch of jobs I maybe didn't always love with a bunch of people I definitely did. My point is, I did not grow up in a vacuum, but surrounded by people [for better or worse] who meant something.

I am not just me. Or at the very least, I didn't get to be me all by myself.
And I don't think I want to change anything about that.

November 15, 2013

just for being the you-est you

There is a thing that happens, when you get to know a person. Something I have noticed.

I'm never sure just when it will be, which part of what makes it fun. Maybe I've known you for years or months or minutes, I can't be sure about that part either. But there will come a moment when you will come alive, right before my eyes. And it's certainly not that you weren't before, this is different. Because everyone has something[s] they are passionate about, things they love deeply, that will one day - without warning - overflow from themselves. And whether sooner or later, a moment will come when it will seem you could very nearly burst about that thing, whatever it may be. It's possible it will be a very ordinary seeming moment, to any unsuspecting onlookers. We'll share in knowing it was anything but.

In my experience you may not even realize it's happening at first, you will be so caught up in this thing that you love you will have very little awareness of me. Because this isn't about what I think. This isn't a show or a means to impress anyone, and I know because you speak freely and you may be a little sheepish after, like you've been caught doing something private, something intimate. And it will have been. You will have for just that moment forgotten the expectations you have of yourself, any you think I have of you, and been the most genuine you you could be. It will be irresistible.

It might be about your community or homeless people or Jesus or art or writing or your kid or fishing or cooking or a book you read or music or your family or your best friend in the world and maybe even me. I don't know what it will be and if I'd asked, you may not have either. It will likely be many things as I get to know you. These moments, they will come - each one as captivating as the last. And if I'm lucky, I will be privy to them. I will soak them in.

And you, just for being the you-est you you had it in you to be, will be loved.

I wrote this a long time ago and I couldn't decide if I wanted to post it or not, if people would understand what I was getting at in this sort of ambiguous observation. Then, one of my favorite artists/wordsmiths/story-tellers of all time, Brian Andreas of StoryPeople, who has a penchant for portraying my deepest emotions using a pen and paper and an Instagram account, posted this.

That. Exactly that.

November 1, 2013

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

[ee cummings]

October 1, 2013

a love letter to the month of October

I'd be remiss if I didn't note this as something I endorse that happens around October -

- but aside from my minor obsession with baking the perfect pumpkin cookie, I adore this particular month. Few things make me want to write in quite the same way October does.

Maybe it's the weather. I walk outside after sweating in my cardigan all day to find that the temperature has dropped nearly 30 degrees. I almost don't want to get hopeful, weather, you have toyed with my heart before. But soon, according to a forecast I almost never check unless I think maybe it will tell me that fall weather is coming, I get to wear fall clothes.

And oh, October attire is my favorite. It's chilly but not freezing, usually, and that is the happiest of mediums in my book. It's cozy. I get to pull out and pull on my scarves and sweaters and leggins' and boots, ohhhhhh boots. I don't like closed-toed shoes at all, honestly, but for boots I make an exception. I am all about a good boot.

Maybe also it is the activities. [I'm not even talking about Halloween, because my appreciation for playing dress up is more of a bonus here than anything else.] But how much more special and exciting is a cup of coffee in the morning when it not only nourishes my intense and overwhelming need for caffeination but also warms my hands and throat? Add to that a splash of peppermint mocha coffee creamer (sugar free, of course) which is only available around this time of year and I'm about done for. Pumpkin patches and hay rides and haunted corn mazes and looking at the leaves changing in the mountains. But it is more simple even than that - I get to watch movies and use extra blankets and I wear a jacket and shiver a little when I'm standing outside in the nighttime. It's something. I don't know why that feels almost romantic to me, but October, hello. You are all things romance.

And perhaps that is the thing: October is romantic. Not in a way like February where expectations are high and everyone is dopey and dewy-eyed but in a way that is sophisticated, even surprising. It's romantic in a way that is idyllic and exciting and mysterious. It's sunsets and colors and wrapping my scarf tighter and I have my hands in my pockets and all of a sudden I am hopeful. Is that weird? It might be. But probably if you think about it there's something that makes you feel that way too. And maybe it's weird, but maybe that's fine. I know I love October and I look forward to its coming. I will soak in all its autumn-ness until I think my heart might burst.

Then, well, then it is November, and it will surely bring its own excitements. But until then, I'll be here, baking and drinking coffee and wearing boots, madly in love with right here and now.

September 18, 2013

we're closer now than we've ever been

Once upon a time I participated with some of my fun-loving friends in an event called the Ugly Sweater Run, a 5k where tacky garb was the name of the game and a mustache was included in the actual race packet. Add that to the fact that the entry fee could be purchased through Groupon, and they were just plain speaking my language. I figured, sure I don't necessarily run, but how strenuous a race can it be if the finish line feeds right into a beer line? I remember asking my friends as we collectively bought the Groupons, how many Zumba classes do you think it takes to train for a 5k? We laughed, and no one really answered my question - I think assuming I was joking, which I was not - but whatever. I clicked purchase and hoped for the best.

It did end up being fun, I'll say that. I wouldn't say I was so much trained as I was vaguely in good enough shape to make my ponytail bounce for 3ish miles, but it all worked out. One of my dear pals, an encourager by birth, repeated something to us over and over, like a mantra, whilst we plodded along the path. Every few minutes she'd turn and say to us,

You guys. We're closer now than we've ever been.

I highly suggest including her in all of your future fitness endeavors if only to say that to you over and over. It was the best. First of all it made me laugh a lot, which maybe made the running part harder, but always a useful trick to getting through a thing which is working to sap you of all life and energy. And second of all, I mean, I don't know if you've ever run a 5k when you haven't run in over a... while, but it's not as easy as it sounds, and those 7 words were the ultimate comfort to me. I was determined to run as much as I could, so giving up wasn't an option. The only comfort to be found was that at any given moment, we were closer than we'd ever been.

Before I bring this beautiful metaphor full circle, let me say that I am fully aware life isn't quite as simple as a 5k. Mostly in that if you get lost or aren't sure what to do in the general life sense, there aren't typically arrows spray-painted on the sidewalk showing you where you need to turn. Sometimes those arrows can be pretty faded though, and in those cases maybe the analogy is a little stronger. Point being, I can't begin to tell you how much comfort there was in the sentiment of being farther than we'd ever been. We were moving forward, and that was enough. Sometimes that's all I've got. I'm farther today than I was yesterday. And that is something.

There may be times when I look back and see I was maybe spending some time moving backwards, or I may feel that for a while I was a bit more stagnant than I'd like. But for the most part, I'm moving, if slowly. And hopefully there are people in your life too, who when you are gasping for breath and wearing a flannel nightgown sinched at the waist by a fanny pack, will run right beside you and remind you as you go, 

Hey. You're farther now than you've ever been.

At which point you will pick up the pace (if but for a moment, meanwhile swearing up and down you will attend more Zumba classes per week from now on), and keep on keeping on.

And here's some bonus advice, on the house:

Surround yourself with people who not only encourage you, but who make you laugh a lot, especially when stuff is hard. If you're anything like me, you'll also need people who will appreciate how funny it is when in your exhaustion you pull your reindeer hat over your face and put aviators on it. Or at the very least, people who will stick by your side in spite of it.


August 7, 2013

take a deep breath

original post here, reposted because today I needed it.

I have stated before, as a professional, that sometimes people need help that isn't. So it should come as no surprise to you that one of my very favorite therapeutic techniques is not something I learned in school, but rather something my mom taught me when I was just a wee tot.

And that, my friends, is to take a deep breath.

Often I will sit with a client who is upset and I will stop the proverbial presses until they agree take deep breaths with me. They'll refuse, or say they can't, and much like my mother did with me when I would fall into hysterics on the reg, I wait. I take deep breaths and wait for them to join me. And before we know it, like magic, they're breathing. It always works. For the moment at least, panic has passed, all thanks to a simple deep breath. It's very effective. I highly recommend it.

I know it's effectiveness from experience because when I stress, I don't breathe. Literally. It's as if I believe things are so fragile that even the tiniest gust from within me could bring it all crashing down. If I can just hold it in another second, I think, I will still be in control. In my scariest and most fragile moments I will often find myself physically struggling for air. Trying desperately, pitifully to remain in control; and unsure of the last time I allowed myself a breath.

Once not long ago, during a particularly frantic time in my life, I had a serious not-breathing moment while I was at church. In an attempt to not make a scene, I tracked down a friend I knew would be able to handle me, and she helped me calm down. She [recognizing that I wasn't] told me to breathe, and I did a little - just enough so I could go back and work at the food bank like I was supposed to. I took a deep breath and held it, so as to regain control, confirm my composure, and try to keep the whole thing from crashing down again. At least for another hour.

Almost immediately when I walked into the other room, this darling little nugget of a girl ran to greet me. I scooped her up, and as she sometimes does when I don't see her for a while, she began to reminisce on our relationship. I like this about her. It's like she remembers she loves me, but a few weeks have passed, so she has to remind herself why. I like it because she's cute and it's fun to listen to her process, but also because as the list of memories she is compiling gets longer, her hugs get tighter and her face gets brighter and it's just about the best and most affirming gift a person could ever get.
As she played with my necklace, she recounted the Valentine she made for me, the craft box I gave her and what she made with the stuff inside it, her birthday party, when she had dinner at my house that one time. And then, as if she'd just uncovered the best treasure she could imagine, she pointed to the exact spot on the couch where once, many months ago, she had sobbed, and where together we had taken deep breaths. She said as she pointed, you taught me how to exhale! It caught me a little off guard but I said yes, that was me, and she threw her arms around my neck. Thank you for teaching me, she said in a tiny voice. Now I can do it even when you're not there.

I don't want to get caught up in semantics, but I feel confident I never used the word exhale with a 5 year old. That was her word. And in that moment, holding all my breath in, her word made all the difference. It was like something in Violet's tender little soul knew there was something I'd forgotten, something she needed to teach me right back.

So I exhaled. It took about the rest of the day to do it, but I did. I took a deep breath, exhaled, took another. That night I thought, when I wake up in the morning, I'll do it again. And again after that. I've been breathing ever since, in fact.

Things may be fragile, but in my experience, holding one's breath isn't a very effective method of control. Because, you see, we are humans who require air. And I am so thankful, so very desperately grateful, for people who remind me to breathe. Who give me permission to to quit holding it in, to breathe all over them, and can handle it when I do. Who will sit with me, patiently, presses proverbially stopped, until I agree to exhale.

Because sometimes? Sometimes it's all you can do. Take a deep breath. Then take another.

August 1, 2013

on what it's like to miss Jesus

I'm an extrovert. Have been since the beginning of this life, as I know it. I've told this story before, I know, but when approaching the playground in my new neighborhood at around age 3, I am said to have exclaimed, "Look at all those kids! They're going to be so happy to meet me!" So I mean, it just kind of is what it is.

As such, I've always been the type of person who has maintained a solid array of friendships at any given time. Sure, as I've gotten older and somewhat removed, at least by distance, those relationships have changed and altered somewhat, but I've always been sort of an overachiever about it. And I try. I really do. I work so hard to not get flakey, and believe you-me, it's easy for me to veer in that direction. With what I like to think are really, really good intentions, it is a regular occurrence for me to over-commit, double-book, and end up not getting everywhere I want, when I want.

Another trick about being me is I'm not terribly organized. I rely heavily on myself to write down anything and everything that needs to be remembered in a place I can trust I will think to look again. I can be a little oblivious about the details, as it were. This means when it comes to maintaining this level of social activity, I have had to learn the importance of nailing down hard dates and times, and to have a calendar to write it down in immediately as the plan is made. If I leave an interaction with "oh yeah we should definitely hang out sometime!" or "we'll be in touch!" it's not that I don't want to see you, it's not that I don't value who you are, but there's a good to very good chance we definitely won't hang out or be in touch in any kind of timely fashion. (To be fair, I have lots of friends who are better at this than me, and for them I am eternally grateful. I also have a lot of other ENFP pals, though, so basically our lasting friendships are doubly impressive.)

In church a while back, in a discussion about prayer, my pastor suggested scheduling time for it. He detailed for us his prayer "schedule" - the times during the day he sets aside to pray, and he compared it to maintaining healthy relationships. He made a comparison I related to easily, as it is basically exactly what I just said to you about keeping up with people I care about. Essentially, if not a little dramatically, I have to force myself be organized in order to keep my relationships alive. But I have a harder time with that when it comes to my prayer life, and, by extension, my relationship with Jesus. It's always seemed to me that loving Jesus should automatically override all of my natural inclinations (ha!) - that having to schedule or pencil in God had to be on a list of "don'ts" somewhere. I mean, right?

So to back up a tick, it's not that if we don't have a scheduled plan I won't ever see you again - because eventually, I'll miss you. And maybe I should be embarrassed to say this - but I realized last night I miss Jesus. In just the same way I miss my friends when I begin to feel disconnected from them during the summer when we're all gone and busy and our schedules are all screwy. It's not that I believe God's been vacationing on opposite weekends amidst my busy summer schedule. It's that I've failed to make the time and effort and calendar-solid plans I know are necessary to properly engage in the level of relationship I want.

I often joke that invitations are my love language, but it's a little bit true. One of the ways that I feel the best loved, the most cared for, is in pursuit. I love to be invited. I love to be pursued for my time and my company and I try (really) to pursue people I love in similar ways. I haven't been doing a great job of pursuing time with Jesus. It's always been hard for me to conceptualize that Jesus is pursuing me, always. And if we're being honest, as a result, sometimes I can be a real flake about it.

I was feeling lonely. And worried. And anxious. I felt sad, a little, and I wasn't even very sure why. Which is when I realized what (who) I was missing. I realized, sort of abruptly, that I was longing for an invitation. Even more abruptly I realized it was one that was already being extended to me.

As I write this, and ok as I cry a fair amount about it because hellooo I am the queen of emotions, I can't even decide what example I want to use for this concept of a standing invitation, simply because there are so many. But probably because I was reading some Jon Acuff today, I am stuck on the parable of the lost son. I am stuck on the image of a father who, while his son is still a long way off, sees him and is filled with compassion for him, runs to him, throws his arm around him, kisses him.

The father throws a full-on freaking party, in fact. All because his kid who was gone (frankly, because he was being a big flakey loser) has accepted what was, quite apparently, an open invitation to come home.

Yes please.

July 24, 2013

no but seriously, what do I do now?

Six years ago in August, I moved to Denver. Look at me, so young and unassuming. Hanging out in my grown up apartment, using the photobooth feature on my new MacBook. I'm sure it was later at night than I am able to stay up nowadays. There I was, in all my 22 year old glory, adulthood staring me in the face, deciding to start a blog, and ready to take on the crazy world - starting, of course, with myself.

I just can't believe it's been six years. I mean, I was fine then. I knew some stuff about stuff. I was kind of into running for the only time in my life I can say that about, so that's something. Mostly I look at that picture of me with the sort-of-brown hair I rocked for a hot minute and I can't believe it's the same blonde Zumba-fanatic I am today.
A lot can happen in six years of adult(ish)hood.

Not long ago I found out that after 6 years, a delightful medley of schooling/ having jobs/ excessive amounts of paperwork, I am officially licensed. I have letters after my name. Six of them!(!) I am a licensed counselor of both the professional and addictions varieties, which is exciting. But the thing that's weird about it is that's it. When I started the counseling program at Denver Seminary six years ago, this right here was the end goal. LPC, LAC. Done & Done.

We've now reached the point in the show where I freak out a little because when you're done THEN WHAT? Accomplishing a goal is weird in that on the one hand, I'm super proud of that nameplate. When after weeks of checking online every single day (sometimes more than once) to see if my applications had gone through it finally said "APPROVED," I did an actual dance in victorious delight. But then, of course, I panicked. Because this is the thing I've been waiting for before I do the next thing. But I never was really quite sure what the next thing would be, and oops, I'm still not. So.

It's funny, because I'm pretty easy going and comfortable not knowing a lot of detail the majority of the time, but in this case, I really super hate it. A whole new world of professional possibilities is before me and I have no idea which one of them I want to be doing, yet. I guess this is one of those situations where I have a choice. I can hole up in a veritable psychotic episode of panic and indecision, or I can take a deep breath, be proud of where I am, keep on keeping on, and see what happens.

Since the obvious choice is the latter, let's refocus on the positive with a recap: six years of finally knowing cardinal directions because the mountains are always West. Three hundred (and one!) blog posts. Two apartments, two houses, a million roomies, and one tiny place of my very own (if you don't count the zombies). Two and a half years of grad school, one and a half years of weird half-jobs, two years of a real one, and six letters after my name hanging outside my office. Countless: people I love, jars of Mod Podge, losses to grieve, awesome stuff to celebrate, experiences that sucked but I learned something anyway, etc and so on and so forth forever & ever amen. All of it brings us to my happy little life, today. And I may not be able to stay awake when I start a movie after 9 PM anymore, but at least I can still do this:
Not to brag.

So what do I do now? There'd be no way of knowing. Which is totally exciting or something.