Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Being Strong and Dark Hallmark Movies for the Win

Tonight I haven't felt incredibly strong. There were some tears, like full on bring me the pillows, which is my version of bring me the tissues. I just really like pillows.

There's some beauty in accepting yourself, too, right where you are.

I think I am becoming more accepting (most days) of the transitions I find myself in these days, and for the most part that feels like life being life, and at the same time there is still some residual sadness. Hence, the pillows.

Naming what's true even though it's hard to name it has been a life giving force for me.

I am feeling the sting and loss of an important relationship. Although this person isn't gone in the full sense of the word, there is still a gap where the relationship was, the loss of being with this person, and really just the knowing of another person, which in essence isn't that what we all love about relationships, anyway? Or at least some of us? The knowing, the ability to know and be known? The flow that allows that to continue, that allows love in, the bridge to one and other. 

So naming something hard like loss is not my favorite thing because it makes it seem more real, but it is actually good because it makes it seem more real. Sometimes the hardest part of anything for me is pretending or acting like something isn't happening that's happening. All we can do is live in today, and name what's true.

All we can do is live in the present, but if I can't be real with what the present is showing me, then what can I really do?  Giving a name or voice to something is important. Sometimes something is true for now, for awhile, for all time. Sometimes things change and then I am afraid what I said yesterday will define my tomorrows, but I have to get better at being honest with myself and really honest with what's actually happening.

I am really just trying to keep owning my voice. I used to say I was trying to 'find' my voice or myself but I have been here the whole time. I just need to own my words and not apologize for them.

I think up until recently there was a certain apologetic-ness to my thoughts or voice when it came to how I was viewing things with my relationship that has ended. It still creeps up every once in a while, but it was like I had to hold everything so delicately and protected, so it wouldn't crack anymore, when in essence doing that just made me crack more. I can still be kind but honest. I don't have to be afraid.

I can still feel the stress in my body sometimes. And the stress in my soul. Sometimes it comes out in dreams. It comes out in little ways I know I'm holding extra pressure than usual in my muscles. All the major anxiety seems to have faded; I still notice a tension that takes effort to ease. It's a battle ground, allowing myself to grieve some days, because I just don't want to or maybe I have more important things to do.

God is relentless though; He keeps meeting me time after time when I just want to be strong, this theme that often penetrates me and I wonder why that's so important to me.  I think about how He has helped me overcome so many seemingly worse situations, more painful situations, physically brutal, when I had to hold on to hope for dear life, and yet, have continued to make it through every migraine and situation of pain in my body over the years, through every moment when I endured problems with eating in my early 20's, through even all the times previously when I thought that whatever emotional pain I was in was pretty bad. For me, it seems bad at the moment, but then, once it passes, I don't usually recall all that I had to get through to get through it. 

God HAS been faithful before and I know will be faithful again. I constantly have to wrap my mind around He who is so powerful and loving and just that His ways don't always equate what I think I want at that time.

There is a part of me that REALLY doesn't want to be weak even though I can tell you, sure, my jam is that verse in Corinthians that says "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  More what I am resonating with lately is, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

I see victories as I move forward though and I know that it's God's grace. I see things changing inside me, I see so much hope spilling out even though there are times of great grief and change and missing him, and I'm not afraid anymore to say what is happening inside me. I'm not afraid speak my words, and I pray that continues, and I pray God's joy can keep flowing and be my joy.

I know that even though there have been ups and downs, I see myself looking more toward God's truth and not just sticking with my emotions, even though sometimes I can feel justified in feeling a certain way. I know this has been one of the hardest few months, but I have I gotten through things before that were hard.  I am realizing how I am not going to get completely thrown off course. That sometimes I might feel weak or sometimes I might feel strong. But God, He keeps me on course somehow. Maybe on a course I didn't know or wouldn't choose. STILL. It is beautiful. I believe it is beautiful. Even through all the muck. I would not have changed the course.

I am thankful, even in this new time. In this NEW FOREIGN LAND. 
Even though I am in the same land, it is a new beginning (new beginnings, I am sick of you).

I am thankful though, for the chance that there can always be new beginnings. Yes, there can. Even if I sometimes still long for the familiar again.  

Does your life ever seem like it would make for a good Hallmark movie, or rather a bad Hallmark movie? Are any Hallmark movies not bad, actually? I secretly dislike Hallmark but feel like I would be someone who would like them. I know, complicated. One of my best friend's husbands nailed it when he said that I probably don't like Hallmark because I do stand up comedy/improv and am into 'that' kind of humor, whatever that means. Like maybe I secretly (or not so secretly) like snarky, sarcastic or dark humor and so I'm not a hopeless romantic after all. I'm just a wanna-be hopeless romantic. I think if you know me, deep, deep down I am a hopeless romantic. But, here's the catch. I just know that the feel good, super cheesiness of it all that we want to wrap our arms around would pair well with some dark humor and probably some tragedy rolled in. That sounds a little more like my life.

But we'll end the movie on a sappy note of course, lots of music playing, and I'm not sure what the ending will be, but it will probably involve horses. Don't all Hallmark movies have horses?

I know, I know. Life isn't like the movies. But you get to vote. Hallmark lover or hater?

Monday, September 3, 2018

A storied city -- in 2018

On telling the truth about myself

It's taken me time to become more fully myself.

I wrote a post when I first arrived to Phoenix in 2015, just days after landing on the airplane and beginning to get a sense that EVERYTHING felt different, the culture, landscape, people. Yet, I also felt like I was supposed to be here.

I feel like I left out part of the story. I don't know why. I was writing about my thoughts and what it was like stepping foot on arid, desert ground, how I would have to start from scratch again as a 31 year old. New job, new home, new friends.

I didn't talk about trying my hand in love. The fact that moving here was like jumping into a deep pool of water, when before I was only dipping my toes into a relationship that had started many months before from long-distance. Totally opposite parts of the country long distance, not just your friendly neighboring states long-distance.

I didn't talk about what it was like to be in love. To learn to love someone up close instead of on the phone.

My relationships aren't something I write about, but this was different. It was part of the whole story. I was talking about MOVING across the country and I never spoke of why. No real specifics. No real mention of love.

Maybe I didn't want to glorify it too much, maybe I didn't want to jinx it. Maybe I had to learn the hard way that a move and a life can entail a lot of things, but when a relationship is involved, you might as well call a spade a spade and talk about the love, even if just a little bit.

I feel like a different person now, looking back three years later, but I am realizing, I am the me I am supposed to be now. I'm still unfolding. Still growing.

So much happens when we look back. I don't know how to put it into words now.  I wish I could more clearly communicate when I feel something strongly, but it all sounds muffled. 

But, so what? I am not immune to needing a little extra time to process my feelings or to come up with the right words to speak, or rambling time for this external processor to seek clarity.


On running when we're scared

I thought that I was someone who did pretty well under high pressure situations, but tonight, the heat was turned up at a Circle K when I found myself needing to stop for gas after my car was worked on in a not-so-great-neighborhood.

At the gas pump, my car was smushed between a huge truck doing maintenence work, complete with orange cones all around him, and a van to my right side, with a guy shouting obsenities to a group of people lingering outside the Circle K. In front of me at the gas pump was a homeless man asking me for money and who placed a notebook in front of my face because he said he wanted me to read what was on it. Normally, I have a heart for homeless folks but under the circumstance, it seemed like a fight could break out while I was still in the middle of pumping gas. I knew I needed to BOOK IT out of there.

The homeless man continued to walk beside my car as I preceded to jump inside and turn my car on. At that time, the van next to me started moving, too, and I became flustered, so I tried to back out of the pump station, hardly realizing I was about to get myself into a bigger jam by nearly hitting van guy.

Thankfully, we didn't crash. Van guy was too distracted to notice me as he drove off, while the homeless man, clearly concerned about my safety, turned to me and said 'I know you're nervous but don't run in a situation like this before looking all around.' 

I scanned my car for some money to give him before thanking him and was on my way. That could have ended up a lot worse.  I don't know the homeless man's story, but I do know that it was beautiful the way he seemed to take a moment to pass on a life lesson. We can't discount what someone has learned throughout their life. 'I'm 60 years old!' the man shouted to me as I drove away. I smiled and nodded. 60 years of living has taught him to pay attention and look around before you run off, even when you're scared.


On loss and risk

It doesn't always feel good to have my life here be associated with a relationship because it feels a little bit like having people's brains hard wired to think that's now your only reason for continuing to live on desert soil, which in fact, it's not. Whether or not the relatonship lives on, you as a person and your actual full and complete life do. MIND BLOWING, right?

I (think) I can understand people's thought processes so I try not to be sarcastic, however, a healthy dose of humor could help all.

This is all part of risk and doing risky things. Life is boring otherwise.

Keep telling yourself this, keep telling yourself this, I think.

Even when I think back on all of my hardest fought battles and how risky they were at times, I know taking a chance and living life to the fullest is the ONLY way to live life.

Friend, I don't know where you are today, but all we can do is just one day at a time, one thing at a time. I hope this encourages you. I know we each are living our process. It's amazing how life can trip us up no matter who we are. One of the best things we can do for each other is to accept and let people have their process. To walk beside them as they walk their journey, too.

The other day I was journaling and some tears were running down my eyes, down my cheeks slowly, the the drip of a faucet, until my whole face felt wet.

I thought I was becoming stronger? The familiar ache that I had been feeling for a little while was going away, so what was this?

I know it's normal, that it will likely happen again.

The beautiful and un-flashy truth of me comes to the surface during hard times. Maybe the beautiful and un-flashy truth of you does the same? We can try to hide it, stuff it, or distract from it, but it's there nonetheless. Loss, pain, grief, it shouts loud enough at points that if we're lucky (yes, lucky) we will hear what it is trying to tell us.

I hope you, friend, who may be going through this, too, find a way to go where you are grieving or where your heart is breaking or where your love has been and let yourself go there.

Sure, it won't always be this way and life is lovely and if anyone can find reasons to laugh it is me, but this is all showing me that I CANNOT escape it, even though I wish I could. I must practice surrendering to the process and even to let others have their process, too, as much as it's going to be different. I really don't know if I'm any good at this sort of thing. I wish there was a gauge for it, like am I getting close to getting through it, whatever 'it' is? Grief?  A

All this feels like telling you a secret. I haven't had it together for awhile, and even though it feels like like it's coming back together, how I'm getting stronger, I don't want to tell you I have been really weak.

I pray to be strong all the time, and I don't know if that's the best prayer or not. If it's not God's strength, what's the point? I'm learning that if I fall on my face a thousand times but I am clinging to the one who is holding onto me, it's not for lack. Sure, I don't like the hurt, and seriously, can we do something about how hard the asphalt feels when you fall on your face??

I've got to keep my humor after all.

And, I'm learning maybe the best I can do is keep giving myself more grace, and others, too. Everything feels better when we give grace.


On writing for a different reason

I thought it would feel a lot better to write all this out, but it just feels the same. I guess I have been kind of neutral, which is okay right now. Sometimes I think with the work I do, I should be able to model processing a difficult experience and facing my feelings, but right now, I feel okay with where I am. There were so many feelings and so much to go through earlier on, that right now, I just am happy I'm doing pretty well overall.

It's amazing you can hold two truths at the same time. I am doing well and yet, there are still many things I miss.

I am being opened up in my writing, and unstuck, perhaps. I've been stuck for a long time. Stuck in my writing and even perhaps in my storytelling. It was hard to prepare work for a long time, because I didn't feel like I was offering my truest self. Maybe there were a lot of emotions going on that I couldn't graple with fully, and didn't want to push away, but wanted to get past them somehow.

It's amazing how God does work and brings a lot of healing in places where we think we need but maybe don't even know how to get to ourselves.  I am excited to see what new adventures will spring forth in my writing.
Peace on your journey, friends. Cheers to you, and love as you go.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September redux

It will be year number three living in Phoenix as of tomorrow. I can't believe it. Timbler can't believe it -- yes he's coming out from the shadows! He has been in hibernation for a long time.

I've had a love/hate relationship with fall for as long as I can remember. Who are my friends who do not care about pumpkin spice lattes? Anyone else?

Even while living in one of the hottest places on Earth, my heart still beats for summer. Everyone's laid back, flexible schedule, taking beach days, wearing swim suits as my main wardrobe for three months are my favorites. I am sure deep down I belong in a water town but somehow, I am living and trying to thrive, rather than just survive, in a desert.

This year, summer brought changes and transition when usually I think of fall that way. We're never immune; change comes when it wants to. And it will surely come again. On the plus side, while the summer months threatened to crash into me, emotionally and spiritually and physically at times, summer, in all its glory, was also healing to me. The sun and the water (where I could find it) and the beach (when I traveled to it).

September, I am ready for you. Phoenix, year three, I'm not afraid of you.

Phoenix sometimes feels so homey and sometimes feels completely fresh and new even though I am now coming on three years here.

I am so thankful for the ways I am digging in roots and ways that people and places feel way more familiar than it ever did, that day in September three years ago. Isn't it cool to look back, to gaze ahead with hope, and yet to still be where we are today?

I am learning where I am is the ONLY PLACE I CAN REALLY BE. I can try to fight it or wish for something different, as believe me some days I have, but God is teaching me to have a still heart before Him. Does that ever happen to you?

Calm yourself, child..  I feel Him putting His hand on my shoulder, just guiding me toward rest and guiding me toward finding peace with where I am, letting me know it will all be okay. And you know what, it really is. Just keep going, day by day.

It is so good of God to help us with the thing that is hardest for us, almost like looking back in the rear view mirror and seeing that He was there, because in our hard times, we may not be able to put the right words to what's happening or what we need or even what exactly is the thing that's hardest for us. We just know He is there during the hard times. 

That's all I have for now, except, that the adventure continues. 

Also, I guess God knows the thing that is hardest for me after all which is trusting in the unknowns.  I'm realizing more and more that our lives are not defined by the outcomes, even when that would be so convenient and neat, wouldn't it? Like neat, cool, but also, neat, tidy. I'm guilty for looking for an outcome, but the peace I really want is not the peace that would provide. I know God offers a peace that surpasses understanding. Do I want understanding or do I want Jesus?