How rediscovering my voice led me to give up coffee

When I last wrote, I shared about finding my voice again, at last. I feel as though it’s returning after years lost in other people’s narratives, speaking someone else’s vision. But even after only a few days, I realize both how powerful and how fragile it is to speak one’s own message and experience. My voice is like a tiny plantlet, just emerged from a seed. Too much sun and it withers, too little and it molds. This weekend I wrote not at all, spoke little, and thought a lot, mostly about how to stay on the path I’m traveling now, with all its gifts and revelations. Which is why, much to my surprise, I gave up coffee.

In general, I am an overthinker and a questioner. I seldom make any decision without exhaustive introspection and fact finding (hello, perfectionist). However, Saturday morning, after a questionable night sleep, I poured my cuppa, looked at the mug and thought, what if I didn’t? It doesn’t seem like a big deal, I know. But after one sip, I poured it down the sink and reached for tea instead. Again, for most, it’s not such a big deal, but for me, this action tells me that I am listening to my inner voice, again.

When I heard about the one hundred day project, I looked into it only summarily. Instead, I felt as though something was pressing on my gut whispering, you should do this. You need to do this. My immediate response to this sort of experience is to go intellectual. After all, my heart is not trustworthy. At least, that’s the narrative I’ve ingested. I’ve survived on intellect alone for years. Intellectualism is a way to survive, maybe, but it’s not so great for thriving. Ignoring my heart and my feelings are part of what got me into this tangle in the first place. Simply taking that message, to write for one hundred days, which came from deep inside, the least intellectual part of me, led me down an amazing path. I shared my heart, and when I did, I discovered a new way of experiencing the world around me.

Even my faith has relied on my intellect for as long as I can remember. I’ve learned rules and tenets and systems and answers. I can defend and define with the best of them. But somewhere I lost the ability to feel or wonder. When rules are all you have, doubts and questions are a corrosive element to avoid at all costs. Imagine my surprise to find, even after bringing doubt in by the truckload, God is still here. She still loves. She is not threatened by my doubts or my feelings. Opening my heart, not to certainty, but childlike wonder remains the most terrifying and life giving discovery of the past few months.

So I gave up coffee. Sure, I’ve been doing some out-of-the-box things in an effort to improve my rest and my health, but none of them without reading and research. I don’t even believe I gave up coffee with sleep in mind. I only know I recognized that pressure on my gut that told me, listen up! your heart is talking.

One of the things I thought about most over the weekend was how to protect my heart from being drowned out by voices in the world, in the church and in my relationships. While I have some ideas I will flesh out with the proper research and intense questioning, I’m also creating space for my heart, my inner voice, to just speak for herself. She knows more than my head in so many ways. She deserves consideration even when I don’t entirely understand.

So I’m curious, are you more prone to rely on intellect or instinct? Do you trust your heart/gut/ inner voice? Why or why not?

 

Sanity for Breakfast, with a side of freedom.

This morning I met a friend for breakfast and coffee. She is often busy during the summer months, so it’s been a few weeks since I last saw her. As we shared about family and events and, as always, books we’ve been reading, I told her how I have no real plans or responsibilities until September. I swear her jaw hit the table.

Really? She asked, What in the world do you do?

I responded, Honestly? Whatever I want.

I wish I knew what words to use to convey how incredibly free I felt in that moment. I do what I want.

For many reasons, I developed a co-dependent personality in my formative years. Like any other pattern of behavior, once you learn to react a certain way, until you recognize and relearn new behaviors, that is the way you always react. Once I learned codependency, it didn’t matter if the relationship was healthy or unhealthy, I saw it through a co-dependent lens.

Although my co-dependency didn’t stem from abuse, it knew exactly how to react to it, which means for years I have danced to the tune of things will get better when you act better. I lost myself in this dance, literally. When everything is about the image you project, you forget what is real and what is merely imaginary. I lost myself, my preferences, my opinions, my desires…my identity. I don’t say this bitterly, nor do I blame one person or thing. Things happened to me; I reacted. This is life.

Fortunately for me, I reached an IHHE (I-have-had-enough) moment two years ago. I couldn’t diagnose the issue then, but I knew I needed help. I might not have sought out that help had I known the depth and extent of reconstruction required to learn sanity. But now that I am on the other side I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

I saw a picture earlier this week:

sanity
I’ve never heard anything truer than this. I have felt absolutely crazy time and again over these last years. I’ve cried and yelled and thrown things. It is gut-wrenching, soul-shaking work learning to be sane, don’t ever let anyone tell you something different.

But oh. Oh, this morning I looked at my friend and told her I do what I want, whatever form that takes. That moment was freedom. Freedom from caring what other people think or expect or demand. That moment was sanity. To know who I am, what I like, what I want, after so many years of trying to measure myself by everyone else’s standard is like taking a deep, quenching drink from clean, clear water after years of sucking tepid, rinse water from a sponge.

This creative Sabbath, this window of unbroken time, is like a capstone course after two years of hard work, study, and unending support. This is where I begin to use all the skills I’ve worked so hard to master. This is me owning my life again.

All I needed was a cup of coffee to make everything clear.

The Power of Showing Up (even on days you’d rather not)

Eighteen years ago, I stopped working to stay home with my children. At the time, I had an almost one year old and a new born and working simply to break even with day care seemed ridiculous. Of course, when child number three came on the scene seventeen months later, I was locked-in with stay-at-home parenting. As the girls got older, we made the decision to home school. And that’s my life in a nut shell for the last twenty years. Sure, tons of other things happened, but when I look back over it what stands out is showing up to raise and educate my ladies. All day, every day for a very long time. It’s been a worthy couple decades for sure.

I say all that to share this, I’m no stranger to the occasional tedium of simply showing up. For me it was the daily routine of young children and then the daily routine of school. Day after day, week after week… Maybe for you it’s something different, but we all have seasons where it seems like showing up is all we do and nothing ever changes.

I feel like that today sitting down to write more words. Yes, more words. I am not sure how many words I’ve tapped out over the last ninety-two days. 50,000? 75,000? Many, many words. I show up and I sit down and I tap, tap, tap. But days like today it seems like a whole lot of effort for very little result. Truthfully, speaking, I’d rather be watching Gilmore Girls.

But here I am, showing up again.  Same effort, new endeavor.

It’s not easy the little mundane things we all have to do every day. It’s easy to believe we’re the only ones caught up in the mundane repetition of what it takes to build a life, a family, a career, a legacy. Everyone on social media is posting the highlight reel; television and Hollywood constantly promote the dream of miraculous discovery followed by instant fame and fortune. Meanwhile, I’m doing good if I have on clean shorts and a clean shirt on the same day.

Can I get an amen?

We’ve packed a thousand lunches, washed ten thousand plates and matched (or shoved in a drawer) at least a million socks. I can fold a fitted sheet neatly in under forty seconds, but there’s not an audience for  that on America’s Got Talent. I’d throw in the towel, but I’d just be the one that has to pick it up again.

Sometimes it just seems like we ought to have moved on to something more important, more glamorous, more rewarding by now, am I right?

I may not have fame and fortune to show for these weeks turned decades of showing up, faithfully, day after day. But I have gained a little bit of insight now that I’ve finally stuck around long enough to look back. What I realize now is there is great power and deep beauty hidden within the bland facade of the day-to-day grind.  I see it in the forms and faces of my children, near grown.

Oh, I say, breathlessly, when catch them in the corner of my eye. Oh, there is a masterpiece. I didn’t see it until just now.

Even though those moments are fleeting, the weight of them adds magnitude to my soul. This is the moment, even if no one else sees it, this is the one.

But we have to be watching, waiting, expectant, because for most of us, glimpses and glimmers of glory are all the fame we are destined to receive. We have to open to receiving the unexpected holy moment right in the middle of scraping the egg pan and punching the time card and tap, tap, tapping the words on the screen.

We have to be ready, and we make ourselves ready by showing up. By doing the next thing. By not checking out even though binge watching Gilmore Girls sounds so much more appealing. (Even if you sometimes binge watch Gilmore Girls instead of showing up, it’s ok. Show up tomorrow. )

There’s power in showing up. There’s depth and beauty and hope and encouragement in the midst of those who don’t lose sight of what matters in search of something more exciting and renowned. These little things, the mundane, loving, self-sacrificial things can shape a home, a neighborhood, a city, a culture…the world.

If we just keep showing up, we can do anything.

 

 

Learning to let go; releasing resentment and control

This summer, it’s shaping up to be wet and muggy. Honestly, I hoped to be elsewhere by now. I’ve made no bones about how I feel about a deep south summer; they stink. (I promise this whole post is NOT a rant about summer.) But last night as I was journaling, when I answered the “What do you need let go of today?” question, I said, I need to let go of resentment over being here for summer.

I have to tell, staring at your honest unfiltered words on paper is a terribly humbling experience most days.

Friends, how much energy am I wasting over being pissed at summer for…well…being summer and for my lack of control over it? So much, apparently.

Which got me to thinking, how widespread is this issue for me? I expend so much concern and frustration over things I do not now, nor will I ever, have the power to influence or change. Global things like the weather, intimate things like failed relationships, family things like what if something bad happens to someone I love.

Yesterday, I shared about uncertainty, which seems to have unleashed a chain-reaction of insight. Not only do I try to distract myself from the discomfort of uncertainty, I actively try to reverse it. It’s like I’m bailing with a teacup after my rowboat was hit by a freighter. So much effort expended with less than zero possibility of affecting the outcome.

Maybe it’s obvious to everyone but me that this is why I really needed a period of hibernation. I can’t escape the daily deluge of crap that seems to threaten the existence of the entire planet. Most of which, I cannot control.  Raging against everything has depleted me utterly.

I must learn to let go.

Now I wish I could expound upon how I will go about all this letting go (a minimalist shouldn’t struggle with this so much, you would think). Unfortunately, I’m not sure how it will look. But I have to do this for my own well-being. I’m beginning to realize these internal seismic tremors aren’t just spiritual. They signal shifts that occur across every aspect of my life: relational, physical, emotional and spiritual. I can’t dismantle one and leave the others intact. Everyone’s along for the ride.

Fortunately, I believe in the saying, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Having experienced this before, I believe I am already learning to let go, even before I knew why I was learning. Meditation, journaling, withdrawing from harmful places and situations are all tools of release. Even when I didn’t know why I needed them, I was practicing them.

So here I am, ready to tolerate summer (hey, it’s a stretch to ask me to embrace it), and lean into being exactly where I am for one more sweaty season. Even if it isn’t comfortable, it can still be very, very good. And I can learn to let go of what is not, without trying to fix it.

Leaning into Uncertainty: accepting the gift of this moment

If you were to look in my journal – a fate I’d not wish on anyone – you would see a frequent refrain. I wish I knew what is next. Nearly every day in some form or another, I express this desire to know, to know what’s next, to not feel so uncertain about…well, almost everything. What I have a tendency to forget, in fact what we as a culture try to whitewash continually, is the fact that there is very little that is certain. Cars crash. Parents age. Cancers grow. Jobs disappear. The list goes on and on. Although we invest our money and purchase life, car, health, dental, vision and pet insurance, we are still not immune catastrophe. Or at the very least, discomfort.

This kind of talk makes me the hit of every party.

I believe it’s this sense of uncertainty that is weighing so heavily on my soul lately. I’ve shared over the last couple months of writing that I am in a season of endings. While ending can be emotionally fraught, they are a natural part of life. We must have endings in order to have beginnings, but we resist the former and embrace the latter. Maybe it’s because of the emotions associated with endings: fear, anger, sorrow. Even the best ending is seldom entirely joyful. I have even protested myself that I am not sad about these endings, but when I say this, I am not being entirely true to myself. I am sad. But sorrow itself takes so many forms, the warmth of nostalgia, the darkness of grief, bitter tang of regret. Sadness is not the enemy we have been taught to believe.

It may be that I have mistakenly tried to distract myself from uncertainty by anticipating what’s next. Anticipation is one of my favorite emotions, allowing me to experience a wonderful thing many times before it occurs. This seems a much more enjoyable process than allowing a season of endings to take it’s allotted time. I pretend I have control by trying to force events, emotions, probability. Constantly erecting barricades of expectation only to be crushed beneath them when they crumble. In this way, I am my own worst enemy.

Withdrawing a bit from all the voices of the outside world, lovely and unlovely, is a way for me to ground myself in the present. Whether I feel joy or sorrow, whether or not I know what’s next, I can live this moment. I may not know what’s coming next, but I can decide what I will bring to the moment I inhabit. When I fight against uncertainty, I bring a combative, controlling presence. But when I embrace the unknown I bring peace both within and without. How can I resist conflict in the world when I create conflict within myself?

I can’t.

My task right now is to be present. Excruciatingly, vulnerably, joyously present. This moment and who I choose to be in it is the only certainty I get. Learning to accept this, to embrace  this miracle of now is the path I walk today. Whether the path is beautiful or wretched is entirely up to me.

Things falling apart is kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and they fall apart, again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen. Room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. -Pema Chodren

Self-awareness to the Rescue: Recovery and Growth

Basically, yesterday was a wash, creatively speaking.

The good news is that self-awareness changes so much about how I process days like yesterday. I understand that I often fall prey to my own castles of expectation. I also don’t transition quickly. Basically I sabotaged myself by expecting too much, too quickly. I didn’t allow time for decompression and transition in my mental processes. Throw in a bout of anxiety and some car repair, and I simply didn’t have the resources to bounce back.

Working through a 12-step recovery program hasn’t always been easy or fun. It’s very difficult to honestly take inventory of my shortcomings and failures. But if I do it with balance and self-love, inventory reveals so much about my personality and patterns of behavior. I can actively work to change behavior patterns, but personality is a bit stickier. Rather than try to change my personality, I am learning how to work better within it. Being an introvert and an HSP (highly sensitive personality – read more here and here) aren’t liabilities until I don’t respect my boundaries. Then I begin to frazzle, fray and eventually, fall apart.

I know these things about myself now, but that doesn’t mean I always make the best choices. Occasionally, I even have days like yesterday where my personality protests for no discernible reason. Even though it’s frustrating, at least now I can say, I understand the problem. I may not completely understand what triggered the breakdown, but self-awareness means I can work through the cycle more quickly and effectively than before.

It’s interesting to me that we live in a culture that is steeped in education, success and progress, but we generally spend very little time learning to understand ourselves. It wasn’t until I was in therapy that anyone really encouraged me to listen to my very own soul. In fact, being immersed in a religious environment, I learned not to trust my inner voice at all.  I believed I hold little of inherent value and I shouldn’t love or trust emotions or internal desires. My own terrible, wretched flesh was my enemy.

I don’t believe these things any more, but I am not immune to falling back into unhealthy thought patterns. When my emotions are high or my physical self needs food or rest, I have to remember that taking care of myself, listening to my inner voice, is ultimately the most unselfish thing I can do. Self-care makes me a better human, which benefits everyone around me. Self-awareness makes me a better steward of my own soul.

Yesterday was an aberration, a blip in a pattern of healthier and more self-compassionate behaviors and choices I continue to learn. Today, I can continue to beat myself up for being entirely human, or I can move forward with the choices I know make me a better human. And I can say thank you to everyone who saw me yesterday and choose to love me anyway, still.

This recovery thing? It’s working for me. One day at a time; one moment at a time.

Reading Scripture Sideways: a new take on a very old book

I’ve been slowly, as in snail’s pace slowly, working my way through Rob Bell’s latest book, What is the Bible. I actually want to read it like the pages are on fire and I have to finish before it consumes them. I want to gorge myself on the clever, gentle, insightful ways of considering an ancient library. Scripture. I used to love it. Even now the word feels so weighty and mysterious when it sits on my tongue. I believe that’s because it is  weighty and mysterious, wrapped in thousands of layers of meaning and interpretation. Yes, I used to love scripture. I was so much more certain of everything then. Now, honestly, I’m afraid of the Bible, and that fear is holding me back from enjoying not only Rob Bell’s book, but scripture itself.

I know what you’re thinking: here comes the crazy again. It’s true. I have all the issues when it comes to church and church business. But through all this great big hairy church mess, somehow, I never believed that God lost her faith in me. Even when I stumble and flail and fall and swear, even when I push her away like an over tired toddler, she loves me still. She’s been faithful in every way and for that I am so deeply and powerfully grateful.

Religious institutions have not been so merciful or forgiving in my experience. Now I’m what old cowboys refer to as ‘gun shy.‘ Churchy words and situations make me anxious. I seldom measure up to expectations, and when I do it’s because I’m not being true to myself. And then there’s the Bible, the weapon most often used against me in religious altercations (also known as rebuking, church discipline and spiritual authority).

It’s true, I’ve used the Bible as a weapon myself, back in the days when together we were infallible. I can accept that about myself even if I don’t like it very much. Had I known how quickly that weapon would turn on me, I might have thumped more gently, perhaps not at all. For as long as I can remember, we’ve elevated scripture with superlatives: inerrant, inspired, ineffable. Words so high, I cannot attain them. I’ve learned to defend it, uphold it, revere it and memorize it, as though tongues of fire straight from Heaven itself licked words upon papyrus scrolls with nary a misprint or mystery in the process.

What I didn’t learn was how slippery millenia old stories of the Divine become as they slip through time. Or how entirely human the men and women who recorded the stories really are. Sometimes a very human agenda superimposes itself over a very divine story. I didn’t learn context, or layers or culture. Truth may be eternal, but the expression of Truth isn’t so easy to nail down in concisely neat terms once and for all.

So I’ve floundered.

My experience of God doesn’t fit so neatly on the pages as it used to. It keeps sliding off, bursting out, growing bigger than the neat little boxes I learned about. The God of my deconstruction is endlessly forgiving, but God out of the box can get you excommunicated (or perhaps even crucified).

I’ve avoided wrestling with scripture for fear it will disappoint me. It has a lot to live up to when you look at it as the very word of God. But recently, I’ve started to see it a bit differently. Jesus, Himself, is the very word of God, and to date, He hasn’t failed me. I think for me it’s time to let the words of the Bible be what they truly are – a very human attempt to describe a very indescribable God.

An immutable, inerrant Word of God is far too dangerous in the hands of someone like me. But a human attempt to unravel the Universal Christ in ways we can understand and embody, with all the mistakes and course correction that entails? That might just be the right fit for a heretic like me. And if it isn’t, I have a God who’s waiting to fill in the gaps. Because that’s the kind of God she is.

I’m grounded: choosing good tools to stay rooted in reality

Two-thirds of my progeny are currently away from home. Aside from double the dog duty when this happens, I also find myself with large, quiet swaths of unoccupied time. I never have much trouble entertaining myself (INFJ), but I have to be careful not to go too far into my head for too long. Discontent is an easy road to travel when my head insists I should be able to create an ideal existence. Unfortunately, very little in this world lives up to the kingdoms I create in my head.  I am a much happier person when I stay a little more grounded.

There are many ways I reground myself when I’m feeling cut-off and adrift, when my body and my reality are the last place I want to be. Meditation, exercise and working with growing things all pull me out of my head space and into my body space. A good wrestle with one of the pups anchors me in the physical present by engaging all my senses, including my sense of fun. But I get the most bang for my grounding buck when I’m doing some good, old-fashioned house work.

If you spend much time at all talking to me, the conversation will roll around to minimalism. I’m a die-hard.  But it wasn’t until recently that I realized how often I use minimalism to plant myself in a healthier reality. The act of evaluation forces me out of what should be, to what is right in front me.

Let’s face it; life gets messy. Relationships require work. Cars break down. College demands tuition. People get sick. There’s literally no end to the list of things which can send us spiraling off into the Land of Should.

This should be easier.
I should have handled that better.
They should know how I feel.
Should Should Should Should.

I constantly take the mental train to Shouldtown, shoulding on myself the whole journey.

That’s the head space I’m talking about, the idealism in which I am so easily trapped. Reality can never compare to all the ways I am certain things should be. Because of my personality, I can camp out for weeks in Should Town, wallowing in my discontent and disdain for the way things are.

Understanding what tools pull me out of that space and back to reality is an important part of my recovery. When I use them to get grounded, I can break out of that funky head space and see reality clearly. Dreams and aspirations are necessary components of happiness, but idealistic perfectionism is the enemy of emotional health.

This week, when I’m not reveling in a book, you’ll find me cleaning closets and sorting the storage area. I’m making meal plans and writing book reviews. I’m touching and working and feeling and sorting, all ways to push my emotional roots further into the soil of my precious reality. If I let myself stay in my head, I miss so much that is beautiful and wondrous right in front of me, already resting in my hands, just waiting for me to notice.

There are so many things I enjoy about my personality. But like everything else in this world, I have strengths and weaknesses. The more I learn about myself, the easier it becomes to pull myself back from unhealthy thought and behavior patterns. I am more than the result of what has happened to me in this world, I’m also what I choose to make from the things I cannot control. When I’m grounded, I can see past what “should” be to what can be, and what steps I can take to facilitate the possibility.

 

Bruce Hornsby makes me happy; an unlikely path to holiness

Right now I’m listening to Bruce Hornsby on Spotify. Do you remember him? He slips off my radar for weeks at a time sometimes, and then one of his songs pops up again. I think to myself, “Why don’t I listen to more Bruce Hornsby and the Range? He always makes me so happy!” So today, even though I have no idea what I’m going to write about, I’m happy.

I spend quite a bit of time thinking about happiness lately. Not just my own happiness (though I’m frequently the subject of my ponderings), but the nature of happiness.  I think happiness gets a bum rap in religious circles. We subscribe to dying to self, sacrifice, and piety but often at the expense of our own happiness. We say really holy things like, God is more concerned with my holiness than my happiness. It sounds good, very spiritual but honestly, I don’t believe this is an accurate picture of God.  The creator of quarks and sub-atomic particles is more complex than such a binary holiness equation. I’m not denigrating piety or sacrifice or even suffering. But maybe we’re cheating ourselves out of something by believing they are the singular signs of higher level spirituality or perfection.

I’m pretty sure Jesus was a laugher. I like to imagine a great, ringing belly laugh, the infectious kind. I can see him now, head thrown back, eyes twinkling, or bent forward, grabbing his knees and trying to catch his breath as His followers chortle around him. I’m not a historical scholar, but I know few things about life in Jesus’s time. First of all, for your typical Jewish man (which most followers were), life was hard. You worked hard; you paid a lot of taxes, and sacrifices, and offerings. I won’t even begin to detail the hardships women faced. As an oppressed people, day-to-day existence was fairly scrappy for the people of Jesus’s time. Anyone peddling more of the same- suffering, hardship, sorrow- probably wasn’t gaining a huge following.

So when Jesus spoke to them of something different, better, new, the expectation was a path that led to a better life, including, you guessed it, happiness. Here’s where I lose some people because you’ll say, well obviously Jesus was talking about HEAVEN, not life in the Roman Empire (insert eye roll if you’re feeling sassy). Except, Jewish people didn’t have a construct of Heaven the way we do today. That’s a pretty modern construct, and not entirely Biblical.

What Jewish followers believed, and a large part of what we need to understand is the Kingdom of God takes place here, on this very earth. On this very good earth as Abba has declared it, we usher in the Kingdom. Not an army of scowling, self-righteous followers, but a smiling, gracious, self-effacing welcome crew, pulling out chairs and passing out refreshments. When our joy is contagious, when what we offer is beautiful, we reflect the very heart of God. Those of us sitting around waiting with sour faces for the sweet-by-and-by are missing something – a very large piece of the Jesus picture.

This is what I am coming to believe as I deconstruct and reconstruct this wild and woolly faith. Happiness is part of the divine package. We were created in joy, for joy.  I simply do not believe the God who handcrafted penguins and kittens and sea turtles didn’t delight in the creation process. Why? Because it made Him happy and He knew it would make us happy as well! Why are strawberries so sweet? For our pleasure! Why does the autumn breeze smell divine? For our pleasure! Why are hand-holding, and hugs, smiles, and a gentle caress part of the universal human experience? Because the universal human experience is rooted in happiness. From the beginning of time our Abba, whose greatest joy is expressing His love, meant for love to bubble over with delicious, delightful happiness and joy.

Oh but the fall, you say?

But the CROSS, I respond.

If we are restored to our former glory (if we ever actually lost it), then why are we afraid to be happy? Why do we feel guilty when we pursue the things which tickle our souls? Why wouldn’t I turn on a little Bruce Hornsby and the Range simply for the simple thrill of delight it brings to my soul?

I’ve wasted too much time trying to twist myself into some pious image I cannot be. I’ve despaired to the marrow that I’ve failed to live up to some ideal I simply will never attain. But I’m learning now. Learning I can pursue happiness and be closer to the Man from Nazareth than I have ever been. My smile makes Him smile since no one across the universe desires my happiness more. Holiness is overrated if it comes at the expense of a belly laugh, a warm hug, a space at the table. I choose happiness, and I believe with all my heart, that holiness will follow quickly, if it can only follow the sound of my laughter.

Waiting on the wind to change

I met an old friend at the post office today. She is moving soon and was eager to tell me the news. While I tamped down my jealousy, we shared moving tips and ideas. She talked about her basement, and told her the best place to unload her stuff in town. we discussed packing and purging, two of my favorite things to do. I’m excited for her that everything feels like a whirlwind of change and newness. The smile on her face was absolutely contagious.

I’ve experienced change in the whirlwind fashion before. It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying, and often leaves you gasping for breath the same way running a hard mile will do. Given a choice I will always choose the rapid pace over the slower one, at least where big change is concerned. Right now, however, I clearly don’t have a choice. We’re on the slow train to change and there is no speeding this process along until the moment the pieces fall in to place. This month? Probably not. This year? Who can say.

Limbo, limbo, limbo.

Meanwhile we’re doing the things rooted people do: meal planning and school enrolling. We’re looking ahead while letting go, acknowledging the ends of seasons in healthy ways. I’m grateful for this. Grateful for the natural turning of time rather than the unexpected emptiness when the rug is yanked out from under you.

But gratitude doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got bag to haul to Goodwill in the back of my car.

We’re being stripped, right now. Down to the bare bones, the essential elements, carrying only the most essential parts of our soul – the ones we cannot give away and still remain ourselves. There’s a vulnerability and a rawness to this process. It’s damn near excruciating most days. Other times it’s wrapped around with golden threads of anticipation. Even when you don’t know what’s next. something is…something is.

So I sink my roots in portable things, routines and digital words, pictures grabbing moments and memories as they happen, in case tomorrow changes everything.

Because it could. It could for any one of us.