Fencing Happiness In

I was recently talking to a friend from work and our conversation had me comparing my life to his.  Comparison is definitely the thief of happiness, but sure enough, it can be a great teacher too.

Initially I criticized his overly structured almost militaristic approach to life.  He has a very particular way of doing  things and rarely strays from that structure.  From the same meals he packs for work each day, to the predictable ways he spends his evening hours with his family, to praying at night before he goes to bed…everything is planned; like clock work.  Certain hours are allotted to particular tv shows, a family bike ride while walking the dog is always an hour, and social visits have to be planned well in advance.  In his world, everything has it’s place.  Teetering off course for him, is rarely an option.  Maybe this sort of planning and structure is a natural by product of having a family with children?  Maybe children need that routine, but do adults?  This sort of structure naturally makes me cringe.  A rigid and ritualistic approach to life seemingly feels flat, boring and burdensome…but the more we talked, the more I started to see it’s value. 

Comparatively, he seems “happier” than me.  He goes to sleep each night having checked the boxes he easily accomplished for the day.  He doesn’t have the same, “What is the purpose of my life” kinda questions that I often grapple with…He’s in more of a “this is my life” kinda place, which is really just an accumulation of all of his checks… It seems that his commitment to his daily life routines actually creates the conditions in which he can be most satisfied and happy.  Maybe his boundaries, actually work like fencing; harnessing and penning in blessings, satisfaction and happiness in a way he can easily count, engage with and grasp?

For some reason, I’ve always believed that freedom and choice are important in life.  I couldn’t wait for those opportunities of free expression and unlimited choice growing up.  I believed that having lots of room to move and tons of blank space would create more possibility for creativity, dreams and unpredictability.  But is idle time the “Devil’s workshop”?   I’ve always rebelled against too many rules, believing them to be limiting.  I mean, I don’t naturally want to commit and fill my days with particular structure, because what if I don’t feel like doing that tomorrow? What if  I change my mind? What if I’d rather do something different?  Yes I am a creature of habit and have certain routines that I prefer, but nothing is written in stone.  In my plan is always the option of choosing something different. 

The last time I lived under a particular set of rules was probably back when I was a kid living in my parent’s house; when I had to follow what they prescribed as the “right” way to do things and laid out the expectations I had to heed.  But as an adult I don’t think I’ve ever really established my own life’s rule and expectations… and maybe it’s that absence which lends to me not being able to identify future goals and purpose -  I can’t check off the boxes I haven’t already identified.

Quite frankly, I’ve always just done what I felt.  My underline drive isn’t commitment or discipline, it’s emotion.   And maybe that’s the fallacy of adulthood, this freedom of choice to do whatever I want?  Could this abundance of choice and my non committal approach actually be causing  dissatisfaction? Could the rules I’ve been rebelling against actually be the secret to success and true freedom; because isn’t there more freedom in satisfaction and daily arrival than constantly searching, striving and journeying?

Maybe.

But having said all this, what does that even mean?  What does it look like to create structure and discipline in life? How do families create that structure when they don’t have children forcing them into it?  And what steadfast principles do you choose and base your daily life rules on,  were we suppose to just build off of the ones we grew up with, or do we choose them as adults?  Do I have the tools to build my own version of fencing when there isn’t really anything marking our property lines of where the posts are supposed to be put in?

I don’t know…(insert confused, hands up in the air shrug emoji here)….maybe.

 

Owning My Story Piece Meal…..

Thank God for girlfriends!

Aside from my usual right arms, I’m in a bookclub with four amazing women, helping me navigate through another edition of Brenee Brown’s instructions on wholehearted living, “The Gifts of Imperfection”.  If anyone is ever interested, I’d highly recommend getting a bunch of gals together, ones you trust and can be open with; and dive into a Brenee Brown book.  There is nothing more enlightening than unpacking one’s life baggage with fellow women warriors, willing to talk out the weight of our lives in a safe space of trust and honesty.  In our last meeting, I was struggling with the concept of “owning one’s story”.  It sounded like a mythical concept, of course a super productive one…but practically speaking, how does one ACTUALLY accomplish that?  One friend asked me how I knew I hadn’t yet….good question! 

The need to own my story resonated with me the minute I read it.  I couldn’t describe why, other than knowing intuitively I just haven’t yet. 

I’ve felt like I have been existing in some tense place of unacceptance and resistance, without really knowing where that’s coming from.  As if some of the fun stuff we do with friends and family, have been like a welcomed surface level distraction from the well of stuff brewing beneath the good times.  Like an underline current I don’t know how to throw a line into and dissect…less it pull me in.

But in our first meeting, my friends highlighted the caution Brenee Brown gives, the safety net.  We would never talk to our friends, the way we talk to ourselves. We would nneeeevvvveerr let our friends drown in their disappointments without hope and encouragement, so why then do we so readily accept our own?  I’m HUGE on supporting those around me, encouraging friends and talking through stuff until we come to a better place together….so why then hadn’t I ever applied that same level of care and support to my own thoughts I wonder?  With that in mind and with the hope of understanding what parts of my own story I hadn’t yet owned, I pulled out my trusty journal.

I started with gross honesty.  Ugly things I had been telling myself without ever confessing them out loud.  Really negative things I hadn’t admitted before.  And after that vomit dump of heavy emotion and pages and pages later…I made a bullet list of my complaints…ooooohhhhh – thhooossee are the things I am struggling with – those are the things that are muddying up my waters, parts of me and my story I wasn’t acknowledging or looking at…So true to their caution, I consciously decided to respond to these complaints as if it were a girlfriend saying these things to me about herself.  I actually wrote down a couple of friends’ names to center and really evoke the care I would feel if someone precious to me was struggling like this –  so I continued to write…I wrote how I would respond to her…knowing that I deeply needed to feed myself truth over these ridiculous lies that had been festering for God knows how long. 

It was cathartic…freeing in ways I would never have imagined.   I wasn’t expecting God’s grace and presence there in that yuck – I wasn’t expecting freedom in confessing….so I want to share pieces of what I was struggling with, in case it lands somewhere helpful…the realizations were long winded and oh so personal – so maybe I’ll just share a bit….bits and pieces…peaces….over the next while. Bear with me… <3

#1 Complaint – I feel like I keep letting my parents down.  I feel like I am trying and trying to do right by them, but always wind up short.  It’s one thing to cook for them or help them with things like cleaning, appointments and errands – but I don’t feel like I am providing for them on a deeper level. But with the things that I do, do; I don’t feel they fully recognize or value the effort or care I take.  I don’t feel appreciated for the way I bend for them, the yes’ I say or the miles I run sometimes.  I constantly feel stressed and frustrated trying to provide what they need and inevitably feel like it’s never enough.  Our time together is filled  with just their “I needs, I wants” and never feels like soul connecting time anymore.  I feel like our relationship is constantly tense and full of unnecessary stress that I always hope to change….without ever feeling like it does.

My Advice:

Relationships with parents are tough.  They inevitably come with a lot of baggage – and dealing with aging parents is tougher because there is a feeling of helplessness everyone brings to the table in this difficult season of life.  While their needs go up, you get pulled in a million directions – and to boot, there are a million communication breakdowns which create huge barriers between you guys.  You feel responsible to them and for them, but it is impossible to always want to say “yes”.  You are not perfect.  Their holes will always be deeper than what you can fill, because they won’t ever be able to truly communicate what they actually need.  They don’t come from a culture of self awareness and reflection, so you’ll never be able to provide what you don’t know is missing.  Whatever culture of shame, fear or privacy they come from will never allow you guys to ever connect on that emotional level you wish for and have always being holding out for.  None of you will ever be truly known or understood by each other.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not love.  Between your version of love, and their version of love, is an exchange of love.  Accept their love as that provisional and transactional love that didn’t express itself in words but in actions of care, you intimately knew and relied on while growing up.  And in return, let yourself do what you can with a heart that knows it’s good intentions.  It’s not just their limited capacity in this season of life, it’s yours too; and we are all just human, imperfect human beings.

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Rest instead knowing that you are a daughter of the Most High – already fully known, fully loved, understood, created and loved. 

Our Shared Weathered’ness

It’s funny – it’s hard sometimes to really identify the passage of time, other than the changing numbers on our cell phone screens  or page turns in our (well MY  “kicking it old school”) daily planner.  We don’t really notice how each passing day brings about a small ounce of change that eventually all amalgamates together and forms something we loosely identify by a number we call our age.  It’s hard even to sometimes see in each other…but every once in a while, something stands out, knocks me upside of the head and reminds me that time is moving and we are changing…forever.

Maybe it was the crookedness of my Mom’s arthritic  knuckles, or the discolouration on top of her hands – or maybe it was the way my Dad rubbed his face the other night, maybe it was in the small subtle way he did it, that looked weathered and tired…

Actually noticing these changes makes my heart feel heavy – makes me nostalgic of the people they once were and will never be again…and in the midst of their declining health, their eroding mental states or weathered bodies… I remember to be glad.

Today is the best day I will ever get with them again….tomorrow will bring another small change that may go unnoticed, until more days compound and that initial change from days ago, deepen and builds into yet another remarkable change that may one day knock me off my feet again. I remind myself today, to serve them joyously, love them ceaselessly but constantly forgive everything I will inevitably do otherwise.

I understand that their wants feel immediate and their needs feel pressing to them now, their minutes of quietness feel like repetitive hours – their waning purpose makes them sleep longer and think more…but as much as I want to, I can’t always respond selflessly and idealistically anymore – I don’t always feel so bright eyed and bushy tailed and will not always be keen to ask “how high” when told to jump…you see life has weathered me too.

But in this shared weathered’ness we continue to embrace today in the ways we are most able to, and love each other now, because time doesn’t allow it to be any other way. <3

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Goodbye Fear (2018), Hello Accountability!!!

 I LOVE the magic of a new year.  As cliché as it may sound, the start of a new year always feels like a new beginning for me.

Truth be told, 2018 was annoootthher tough year to get through.  It’s funny how many others have shared that same sentiment with me.  But what would this past shitty year mean, what purpose could it serve, without some post reflection and understanding to ensure this new year doesn’t follow the same suit?

2018 felt like a year of numbness, transition and stand stills yet the desire to move forward without really being equipped to do so.  The hardest yet most enlightening part of 2018 was the mirror it held up to me forcing me to see myself in ways I’ve never looked at before.  It made me meet parts of myself I needed to acknowledge and confront parts of myself I’ve denied or not quite understood.  2018 can be encapsulated and best summarized by a visual of me trying to out run many fears and the paralysis that would happen every time those fears would come close to catching up.  FEARFUL is how I can best describe what I was struggling with for most of 2018.

Fear provoked me to chase friendships this past year unnecessarily, and have those friends watch me run.  My fear of walking away from people and how that action might define me or how that might paint me prevented me from making healthy moves and creating healthy distances…the fear of being  inadequate, unworthy, not good enough, not nice enough, not loving enough or too much.

I realized that it wasn’t simply the loss of having our own children I was struggling with, but it was the fear of what NOT having a “family” would mean for us….the “insignificance” or “shallowness” that could taint our future married life. 

I was struggling with the fear of not being enough for Mom and Dad, not being able to provide for their needs in the ways they ask for and deserve and in some ways I sometimes feel resistant to….for probably a myriad of reasons.  Fear of feeling guilty “one day” made me not want to put up or honour boundaries in my relationship with them creating a lot of chaos, unmet expectations and at times resentment.

Then of course this fear of getting older, less relevant, losing time, regrets for starting things so late…

Fearfulness led to a lot of perceived mediocrity, a lot of frustration and emotion, a lot of unproductive time spent, a lot of back and forth and a lot of vices or distractions pursued to placate the discomfort.

But it wasn’t all bad.  In these dark places He definitely shone some lights.  I met new wonderful people that re-inspired and reawakened me….people who spoke life into me without even intending to…we were surrounded by a strong community of family and friends and welcomed into new worlds that felt like home to us.  It was a good year of taking care of my outsides and health, while wonderful women participated in a book club with me helping me unravel my insides.  This year brought small opportunities of reconnecting with people, praying for others, sending encouraging messages to those going through difficult times, cooking food for friends, saying yes to things I would normally want to shy away from as an adult and other opportunities of accepting or extending love. 

So what with this new year?  Following the lead of a beautiful friend of mine, I’ve written down a list of 19 things I want to accomplish for 2019.  Some of these things include silly things like “learn to mow the lawn” (which sadly I haven’t done since I’ve been married and have nooooo clue how to use our electric lawnmower lol!)….others include things like “growing a herb garden”, “less proving and more being”,  “doing three road trips with my boys” or “creating a backyard oasis”.

Now seeing how fearful I was and the fear behind much of my indecision and non movement last year, I begin this new year present, plugged in, engaged, accountable, grateful and hopeful.  Maybe accountable should be my driving word this year, owning my fears, owning my responses to them, and owning the path I choose to take instead.  Don’t they say that life begins at 40??

Happy New Year! May it be a life changing one <3

Bob and I Coffee with George Blair and Ver Family Houston Sisters J and I J and I in BC K Girls Kalathoor Fam in BC Kels Ver and I Kissed by Ted Liz and Nancy Lorne and Danna with Lees and Colin Me and Ted Michelle Bday Mom and Dad at Airport Post Run Ren Beryl Bless and Jennie Sharon Bday Drinks Sheeba Volleyball Summer Bbq The Kids Ver and Mark's bbq

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Resuscitating my Head, my Heart and our Marriage

I worry sometimes that I inflate things. That I make mountains out of molehills or spend too much time analyzing heart stuff with my head – and the truth is, not all heart matters can be contained (well actually restrained) by words…but this is just me, experiencing this world though my emotions first then perfecting the art of over analysis when my heart and my head seem out of whack (sigh).

When we couldn’t get naturally pregnant again after our first ectopic pregnancy, the non-option seemed to open a world of limitless options. The abundance of choice was actually quite paralyzing. Had we gotten pregnant, a part of me would have naturally defaulted into the acceptance of that purpose for my life – I would have believed that despite my own inadequacies and doubts, I would have trusted that I was “meant to be” a mother. But when the choice suddenly became mine to make; adoption, fertility, egg donor, DINKS (double income no kids)…it forced me to have to face all of the things I hate looking at in myself to really examine; what do I truly want? How do I truly feel about these things? What should I choose? Oh goodness, this was really like opening Pandora’s box because the questions seemed to breed more questions – much more complicated questions, like, what am I meant to do with my life? What’s my purpose?…The over achiever in me probably stepped up to bat first, not wanting to make the “wrong” decision….oh but what comes first when one approaches the magnitude of these matters? Head or heart? And geez, the prrressssssuuurree of needing to decide in the appropriate, conventional window of practicality and reality that I only have so much control over…and so brews the perfect storm.

I didn’t realize when these questions started to bubble, how “me” focused I was approaching them – but come on, that felt natural, because yes, it was my body at stake, my future to consider…all I kept asking myself is, “what do I really feel about these things” – constantly trying to pinpoint how these different things would affect me. So this head vs heart grappling turned into days, which turned into weeks, which have turned into months (to really no avail or resolution) but almost a year post efforts, it dawns on me (seriously out of the blue) how unintentionally “me centered” I’ve become.

There is almost a seductive illusion or veil to selfishness because it can innocently start off as so-called self care, self awareness or soul searching but when not managed properly or transparently, can become a hole that’s hard to dig out of. In a perfect world as a perfect human being I would be able to manage and handle the weight of such enormous pressure and questions functionally and I wouldn’t need to worry about the potential of me instead responding by shutting down, shutting out or choosing dysfunctional escape. But let’s be real. Of course I’m not perfect and we all have our own defaults and dysfunctional ways of being (which for me can look like constant impatience, anger, fear…well to just name a few…).

What seemingly started off as innocent “me” questions, inadvertently shifted and snowballed my sight line off of my marriage, my parents, my community – really anyone outside of me – and sure enough, I’ve become the centre of my own world. It’s funny because the place from where our thoughts and feelings come from, totally impacts our actions, and the choices we make. I was so wrapped up in all of my “me” questions, that I stopped asking the “we” questions; like what is best for us, what is best for Jason…and this “me’ness” infects everything…I stopped really looking at my parents needs, the needs of those around us…. And yes, I won’t argue that it’s difficult to care for others when we haven’t really cared for ourselves first. I would definitely agree that there are probably seasons of needing to be selfish, but God forbid we set up camp, overstay these times or develop roots that eventually become too hard to pull.

This has been tough for us. When the questions would become too ominous and too expansive to pick apart, I would table them in my own head and heart without sharing these weights even with Jason. Tabling them without sharing them has been causing some breakdown between us. But it’s hard sometimes, to navigate such divergent paths or streamline our different dreams, goals or desires in life; especially when we both have such vested interest in what either of us might choose – but I guess, that’s what marriage is – the commitment to at least try. So living in my head while trying to figure out my heart, has been my own fallacy; because it’s not just about me, and this selfishness is luxury I don’t believe a healthy marriage or real friendships can afford.

As tough as it is, I appreciate these breakdowns because they always seem to provide moments of change or growth. Jason and I have had many breakdowns that have allowed us to figure things out together. I’m not sure why I didn’t opt for this “together” approach from the get go, but am glad to be able to redeem that now. Thank God too for the friends who have very patiently been nudging me out of this selfishness, probably without them really knowing that’s what they were doing – the friends who check in, who ask without judgment, who listen without advice or the ones that invited us into their communities and lives when we’ve really needed these connections and support.

Struggling with heart/head issues is obviously a part of life, I guess the reprieve comes from who we let walk down those paths with us; or who God puts in our lives to hold our hands down them. <3

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Making Life Again….not babies….

I feel like I’ve been at a stand still for some time now…almost like an emotional or spiritual paralysis…not like an intentional resistance to move on more like an involuntary unsureness of now what…now where? “Midlife Malaise” (a term from a book a girlfriend recently recommended).

There are probably pinnacle times in life when we pour ourselves into accomplishing certain goals in life…that fire to finish school, establish careers, find a partner, start and raise families, root ourselves into our communities, make meaningful impacts and accomplish big things…moments of fighting tooth and nail with bleeding finger tips trying to make those deadlines and check those boxes…and it’s exhausting, whether we hit those marks or fail trying. 

I guess what happens between pinnacle moments is really what life is.  The unexpected, the unpredictable….and when we aren’t striving and accomplishing, we are just riding those waves in between.

After we closed our chapter on trying to have babies last year, I was ultimately left with a feeling of what I can best describe as rebellion.  Rebellion to the bs expectations I put on myself or the bs expectations I felt otherwise burdened by.  Rebellion for me, felt like a desire for wilderness, figurative chaos … imaginary forests with overgrown trees and messy abundance of unruliness….big open spaces where I could just breath again…be free again…new mental and emotional space where I could feel refreshed and inspired again…like an imaginary escape that could evoke immediate feelings of newness and exhilaration that would cure the flatness of failed trying.  But where was that? What could that look like? How could I find and experience that?

It’s a pretty tall task to translate these things into every day responsible adult life. (an old me might have found that in partying with friends, travel, tons of reflection, maybe a new job or new relationships). 

So instead of discovering, seeking and striving….I’ve been sitting…dipping my toes into potential pools of relief…whether it’s been making new friends at work, dipping deeper into some new personal friendships, reaching back to some old friends, attending a new Church every so often, or having gone to a Women’s Retreat with some beautiful girl friends, reprioritizing my health again, reconnecting with family (all of which I’ve done in peppered and inconsistent bouts)…. But maybe even just this period of indecision has it’s place…maybe these blank stretches of noncommittal coasting is in and of itself therapeutic…because after a bit of a hiatus, here I am, in front of my computer ready to write and move…well sort of.

I wonder what “making life” again looks like.  Does it mean a creating a bucket list? Does it mean creating new dreams? What breathes that fire again? Is it in having purpose? 

I’m not quite sure where it is, or what it actually looks like but I know it’s somewhere here in between my last pinnacle moment and the next one…… <3

The Mathews 2018

Taking a Heart Inventory

It’s time to take a heart inventory – it has been a friggin long ass winter and I know somewhere in the last while, I’ve shut down my intentionality and have been coasting on auto pilot just trying to get through this season.  I know on a deep level I’ve been feeling somewhat spent, tired, irritable, short…running on low motivation and trudging through these cold days lethargic and uninspired.  Sure, on a surface level,  I’ve still been working out, eating well, loving and spending time with friends and family here and there…but deep down I know there’s a lot that I’m purposely leaving untouched and cold.

I feel like I am trying to navigate myself through too much unfamiliarity and these big unknowns feel like mountains I don’t feel equipped yet to climb.

We aren’t going to have children – so now what? What does that mean for our lives? What does that mean for our marriage?  Will we be happy? Will we be fulfilled? Will it feel like we live lives that are contributing and meaningful?  What will we pour into instead? What are we being called for?  Will we stay in love with one another without that experience together?  Will we always find enough reasons to stay together without that major glue that seems to tide couples through some turbulent times?  What does it look like to have a meaningful, successful marriage without kids?  Is there more that motivates monogamy and forever committed partnership?

Can I be okay mothering my mother and fathering my father?  Will I find a happy medium in caring for their needs and letting go of my incessant attachment to wanting to just stay in the familiar daughter role I’ve known for the past ever?  Can I manage and mitigate through their resistance to feeling vulnerable and defenceless, and still preserve their dignity while I watch them being stripped of freedoms they’ll never get back?  Can I be strong enough to care for their needs and not feel overwhelmed by these responsibilities?   What does loving them and caring for them look like, without personally owning the totality of everything they are, everything they are becoming and everything they need?  Can they feel loved while I am so busy doing?  Can I find more to give them outside of doing stuff for them?  Between appointments, medications, shopping, cleaning, cooking, driving, being their go-to…can I find space to check in, to laugh, to love, to spend quality time without feeling stretched too thin?

I found out this week that a friend of mine has thyroid cancer.  Her palpable fear of that unknown is crazy and a reminder that these days and this life is not promised, even though we live in a taken for grantedness way as if we will always have so many more days ahead of us to get shit right.  God, when will I get it right?

Why can’t I find home in Church?  After leaving our small group last summer – why does it feel like we are still wandering?  Why does currently participating in a big Church with friends we love, in a huge building, with tons of different services, amazing spiritual music and strong messaging just not hit home for me?  I know it’s me, it’s not all of that.  Somewhere along the way I guess I’ve stopped being Church – Church stopped being inside of me and because of that I know that I won’t find home in a Church outside of me…so then what?  What does that mean? What am I looking for?  What am I feeling resistant to?  What am I struggling with?  Where will I find it?  Better yet, how and when will I find it?

In actually looking, it feels like a season of more questions than answers.  I bet I could google some inspirational quotes and life slogans that I could tape up on my bathroom mirror in the hopes of nudging me out of this heart and head space…but it definitely feels like it’ll take much more than that. What specifically?  I have no idea.  The irony of a response to my question being another question, doesn’t escape me.  Sigh.

I guess it’s just time to learn how to climb mountains. <3

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I’m Sorry if You are a Victim of my Storytelling

I hope I’m one of those “happy” old people…one of those seniors that you run into at the grocery store who meet you with a smile, laugh with the clerks and forgive their own stumbles.  The ones who feel warm and don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. OMGSH HOW??? How did you possibly live so many years and manage to stay happy?

With this in mind, I often struggle with how to somehow loosen that drain catch in my heart and let the resentment or anger that builds, out somehow. I don’t want to be bitter and twisted, though I know that potential is great.  God help me.

Truth is, I’m a great story teller…yes sometimes in the middle of social circles re-telling some hilarious experience I’ve had with a glass of wine in hand …but I don’t mean those kinds of stories.  Maybe I’m more of a great story creator, specifically those fictional stories I create around people and experiences in my life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s natural, and I get that we all do it.  Human beings are meaning making machines and it’s like we almost have no choice but to give meaning to the things we experience; it’s how we understand our worlds and make sense of stuff.  We rationalize, we explain, we blame, we justify, we validate and we label…not always maliciously, but instead in a “natural” attempt to understand shit that we go through.  We connect the dots. 

It starts off mildly, “oh so and so forgot to cc me in that important email”….and then another experience happens and we begin writing chapter two of that story “I can’t believe so and so started the meeting without me, she must really feel threatened by me”…then of course chapter three and chapter four soon follow as the plot thickens and the story becomes more complex…and before you know it, so and so missing me in an email culminates into so and so competing for my position and trying to squeeze me out! 

How many Chapter 10 complaints do we have in our lives and in our stories about certain people around us? Chapter 10 Complaints are those high level, broad, generalized, damaging labels – he or she is selfish, he or she never helps out, he or she is using me or is always competing with me, he or she is always taking care of themselves….you can recognize these story built personnas by the language you use, because NEVER and ALWAYS are pretty strong indicators that these characterizations are coming from your own story telling. 

The Truth is, it might have been that so and so had really missed me in that first email; innocently!  Maybe she was so nervous about sending out the email she missed the detail – maybe she didn’t realize I would need to be involved.   The problem when we write chapter one is we usually do it in the vacuum of our own thoughts, feelings, judgments and assumptions – we never usually test the things we are offended by…we rarely ask or call people out…we assume everything is always about us; and then we inevitably start to story tell.         

We buy into our assumptions and our fictions as if they are truth – but we forget, that they were based on our thoughts and perceptions, influenced by our emotions and limited by our limited understanding of the totality of a situation.  If Chapter One was off, then how can the rest of the story, on which Chapter One has been built…be true or trusted?

In recognizing these things, I keep trying to pull at those threads that weave my stories together.  I keep trying to deconstruct these chapters and back space all of the untruths I’ve layered for plot, drama and meaning.  I’m trying not to story tell, especially when I reach points where I can’t stand certain people anymore or the anger or bitterness I feel becomes stronger than feelings of amenability and love.  It’s not easy but I’m trying.  I don’t know what this actually means or what it looks like in real life…does it mean I start communicating more? Assuming less? Maybe I reflect on the assumptions I’ve made in my vacuum? Pray for understanding in the relationships that I struggle with?  I’m not really sure….

All I know for sure is that the LAST thing I want is a resentful or hardened heart…which is where I think story telling ends up.  I don’t want to feel blocked in love or stand off’ish to vulnerability or gun shy.  I want to keep myself open…

After all, I’m hoping to be a happy senior with a gummy smile and comfortable orthopedic shoes.      

#goals

<3

A B C D E F G H I J K L M O P Q R S T

Beware of Chronic’ing

I’m a big dreamer…a big plans kinda gal. My daily to do list and my “one day” to do list are both miles and miles long.  One has vacuuming and grocery shopping while the other has things like write a book and take a sewing class.  Although I’m usually chasing these plans and trying to catch up, part of me relishes in wildly and imaginatively juggling all of these balls simultaneously (of course while often dropping a couple or slipping on a few). 

I was told over beers last night post volleyball (it’s all about balance) that it’s actually counter efficient for people to multi-task and keep to do lists…that people are better off focusing and honing in on one goal at a time…I mean, I can’t argue that, it makes sense.  But for me this isn’t about efficiency or practicality.  For me, it’s a pulse check.  It’s a litmus test that yes, the list is still being written, I am still dreaming, still striving, still awake, and still moving forward (well backwards some days) – okay let’s just agree that I’m still “moving” (ish).

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been life stuck a number of times.  I know what it’s like to spin my wheels and really accomplish nothing, I’ve had many seasons of standing still.  But the chronic stand stillers or the “movement avoiders” are soul sucking to me.  I get it, we all  go through shit, but do we need to sit in it? Do we need to wade in it? Of course it’s a personal and subjective thing, because I don’t how long it takes before your skin starts to prune in the tub, only you know that for yourself.  But let’s be real here, sometimes we definitely over stay those welcomes.

There are always unknowns, does that mean we stop stepping out?  Yes, life is busy and stressful and unpredictable in many ways – but does the comfort of complacency feel better?  Before you know it, too many days pass with our inaction; that eventually any movement becomes unfamiliar and scary.  So much so, that those “to do” lists become chronic intention lists.  Like suffocating in the chatter of someone’s repeat story, repeat complaint or expired emotions….those “one day’ers” waiting for better conditions, the reeeepppeeeeaaaatt story tellers whose plot never changes.  Tell a new story – make a new list – plan a new day – come on already, let’s just move.  Status quoers love the potential of maintaining status quo, by pushing status quo on everyone around them (because of course, it serves them) but before you know it, we’ve all stopped moving.

There is a season for all things.  A time to wait, a time to plan and a time to do – there is a natural cycle –  If you don’t reap what you sow, if you don’t dig what you plant…if you wait too long the harvest rots.  The chronic holdout on the chronic intentions eventually become a chronic burden…and you almost become a slave to the idea and revere change as an idol that’s untouchable but worthy of worship. 

As a Christian, I believe that God equips us to live in this impossible world and accomplish impossible things.  As I grow older, I sometimes forget how very capable I am – and I see people around me forgetting to dream, forgetting to plan and putting off movement too…but capable is in our make up; capacity is in our DNA.  So on this day off, while I nurse my healing dog, I write and rewrite my to do lists, hopefully crossing off a few by day’s end but graciously remembering that it’s this juggling that keeps my blood flowing and my dreams moving.

<3

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Marry a Man Who Can’t Dance…

Truth be told, my husband and I had a not so fairytale start together.  Despite our crazy chemistry we were absolute opposites in EVERYTHING – you name it, we were on opposing ends of it!  Our connection was entirely irrational and definitely unreasonable.  But despite our differences, we were unexplainably drawn to each other from the start!  How? Why?  The connection came before we connected intellectually and emotionally – I always figured it was chemically, but now looking back, I realize it was spiritually – a meant to be kind of thing…

It’s hard to choose a husband with immature eyes and an ego driven heart.  Back in the day I was attracted to good looking guys (well beauty is in the eye of the beholder #hindsight) with big personalities – the cool guys.  Back then too, I had a specific group of girlfriends I use to brunch with and party with all of the time.  We were fun, funny, sex in the city type gals who were too cool for everything.  I remember the first time I saw my husband dance was just a few months into us being together, and we were amongst these friends…my husband unexpectedly busted out into some kind of super jovial VERY commotionary dance maneuvers  which I’m pretty sure included random clapping…and I remember seeing the huge grin across his face as he danced in front of me while I stared back at him in mortified awe worrying about what my girlfriends were thinking.

He was unlike anyone I’d ever dated before.

Thank God for that.  Thank God, he came into my life and bursted my cool little, ‘constantly worried about what everyone thinks of me’ bubble…thank God he was bigger, and the plan was much bigger than my ego.

Fast forward almost seven years later to this past weekend.  Despite having huge holiday plans, I got bronchitis and, what felt like a friggin extra large side of flu and fever.  I was completely laid out for five days.  I hadn’t been this sick in years.  Everything hurt, my entire body ached, I  had a fever, bad cough and was entirely out of commission- well out of my mind might be a more accurate way of describing it.  I might have tried pulling the blanket over me only to inadvertently flip my glass of cranberry juice all over me, my pillow and side of the bed…ugh…I was confused almost, slow to react, feeling completely bogged down, not myself and crazy emotional.  Not having health on any level is hard to confront and sure makes you appreciate what it means to be healthy.  But without even a second thought, there was my husband, constantly filling my hot water bottle, changing the sheets, rubbing my back, helping me in and out of the tub, picking up food for us, and being the incredible support I felt so held and comforted by.  Those big shoulders that carried my emotional and physical heaviness the whole time.  He watched a movie on his ipad beside me as I slept through New Years Eve.  My Dad also came down with a similar virus and without any hesitance, my husband took my Dad to the emergency clinic and stayed with him there from around 6p to 5:30a.m the next morning without any complaint.

I am so heartened by Jason’s incredible heart, his patience, his joy, his deep capacity to selflessly help those who need it, his willingness to run miles for those he loves, his creativity, his sense of humour, his strong arms, big shoulders, idealistic outlook, powerful strength and emotional depth – I am so thankful for this amazing man who humbled my loud ego, who quieted my judgment and totally cracked my heart wide open.

So that would be my advice – when and if you choose a partner…choose one who can’t dance…well, let me rephrase that, someone who can’t dance with ego and conscientiousness; instead marry someone who dances without inhibition and with joy…and crumbles your cool little world and shatters everything meaningless and finally lets the meaningful in.

<3

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