Mail, it’s called mail

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Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you well. Did you enjoy the holidays? I hit a rough patch while decorating for Christmas, which I think I told you about, but other than that, everything went pretty smoothly. My family did our annual “Christmas Eve Stocking Stuffer Challenge” where we exchange names and are each given 30 minutes and $15 to buy stocking stuffers for the person whose name we drew. You would think, logically, that Wal-Mart would be a madhouse on Christmas Eve, but surprisingly, no. This year I was teamed up with my oldest niece, and we wandered about the store, conducting our stocking stuffer search like we were Navy Seals on a top-secret op. We even had a code word for if another family member was spotted. Rudolf, of course.

The start of the new year was supposed to be spent at home, enjoying a bottle of wine I received as a gift, but alas, I was sick, and spent the night drinking mug after mug of tea, and called it a night at 11pm. As with last year, I decided against writing down strictly measurable goals, and instead made intentions, stating the things that I intend to do more or less of this year (my good friend Jacob pointed out that if one of my intentions was to argue more about semantics, I was well on my way…which is both hilarious and accurate.)

One of the things I want to do more of this year is give back. There are so many people in IMG_0832need, and I’d rather make small, realistic movements than none at all. Oh, I forgot to tell you, I cut my hair! It was the first of my “giving back” movements last year, donating over 10 inches to Locks of Love. I’ll enclose a picture so you can see the change – I have to say I love having it short. Such a small thing to do on my part, but I hope that whoever got those inches of myself can feel a little more at peace now, having the option to look more like everyone else, when they want to. Anyway, how about you, did you write down any goals/intentions?

Well, I really should get some sleep now, but I wanted to write and at least say hello. It’s been forever since I’ve written, and although I’ve been wanting to write, I keep coming up with nothing much to say. It’s a little late, but Happy New Year, and may it bring us more laughter, more love, and more strength.

Much Love

 

Ornamental Ambush

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Warning: this is not a feel good post about the holidays.

I didn’t realize it until just now, but today was hard. I hate that it’s hard, because I want to be beyond this, to be more “healthy” than this…I want all of the emotional and spiritual progress I’ve made over the last couple of years to make these days obsolete, but that’s just not the case.

Today my son and I decorated for Christmas, and in so doing, I pulled out my box of ornaments that I hadn’t touched in a few years. There, inside the box, was the ambush. Physical ties to a previous life. I got married at Christmastime, did I ever mention that before? My ex and I would say that all the Christmas lights everywhere were also in celebration for our wedding…it was a nice thought. Anyway, getting married at Christmastime meant that we got quite a few ornaments that said “Our First Christmas”…and when I opened the box, there they all were. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them…save them for my son? I didn’t think he’d really care – I’m saving other things from his dad and I, and these ornaments won’t really mean much to him. Give them back to my ex? I figured he probably doesn’t want the reminder either…so, I just put them awkwardly into my trash can.

To celebrate our first anniversary we had a combination birthday/anniversary party (did I mention that my birthday is coming up? Also kind of depressing…), and we asked our guests to bring homemade Christmas ornaments as their gifts. The cheesier the better. I loved that party, and all of the crazy ornaments we got…and those were in the box too.

And then there were the ornaments from my ex mother-in-law, who sung my praises while we were together…and who now, regrettably…but understandably, wants nothing to do with me.

It hurts. All of it.

So I’m sitting here, looking at the happy family pictures plastered all over Facebook, with my trash can filled with “Our First Christmas” ornaments, and I can’t help but tear up. I am trying so hard not to be envious of those parents that get to share their child’s delight with their spouse – it feels like the other parent is the only person who truly gets how wonderful this little human is. At this point any timeline I might have had for my life feels decimated, and although I am extremely grateful for what I have, it sucks that there are only two Christmas stockings to hang up. I guess this is just part of it, part of the mourning, part of the inevitable…and while most days I am just fine, there are definitely days when it still stings.

Daring Greatly and the Roxy in Hollywood

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 I went to my first concert when I was maybe 12 or 13…my sister and her best friend were going to the Roxy in Hollywood to see a Christian band called The Newsboys. At the time, my sister and her best friend were nothing short of obsessed with the group…for months beforehand they learned everything there was to learn about each band member, adoring them with a devotion matching that of a Beatles fan…and because I idolized my sister, I idolized the band as well. And before you stop me for divulging these possibly embarrassing details of my sister’s teen years, let me assure you that my embarrassing moment is coming.

So, my dad takes the three of us down to Hollywood, and while we wait in line to enter the theatre, The Newsboys arrive at the scene, they are there, in the flesh. As they emerged from their limo I was overcome by teen hormones and little sister enthusiasm, and let out the most humiliating, unconscious, and un-christian-like scream of delight.

I ended up having a great evening at the concert, but I can now laughingly admit that it was not my finest moment.

The reason I bring this up is because I had a similar experience of “twitterpation” recently. I was “Newsboys-at-the-Roxy” excited to attend Brené Brown‘s book signing in Austin the other day. She just came out with her third book, Daring Greatly, which discusses “how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.” (By the way, I haven’t even finished it yet, and already it’s a game changer!) Weeks ago I’d put the book signing on my calendar, vowing to myself that I would make it there. There were several reasons why attending the signing might be difficult, but I decided I would do everything within my power to be there.

Book cover image courtesy of <a href="http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781592407330,00.html?Daring_Greatly_Brene_Brown#" target=blank>Penguin Group</a>.My excitement grew as I realized that the roadblocks to my attendance of the event were being cleared. I started to think about what I might say to Brené (we’re on a first name basis in my mind), about how I might convey to her just how much her courage inspires me, and that I’m so thankful for her willingness to share her research. I didn’t want to just be another person who loved her work, I wanted to be memorable somehow. Should I make a poster to hold up during her talk? Create a tacky home-made t-shirt? I had to laugh at myself – it was like I was back at the Roxy, and all I could do was try to somehow prevent myself from going overboard or borderline stalker.

The night finally arrived and I got an early start – it was an hour+ drive and I hoped I would avoid rush hour traffic…the only problem was that Austin was in the middle of one of the worst rainstorms I’ve seen here. I actually considered turning back, and probably would have, had it been anything else other than the chance to hear Brené in person. Once I finally made it there, I walked around the store, grateful to be alive, but also sheepishly aware that I had arrived a few hours before her talk was to begin. None of my friends could make it that night, but part of me was grateful for that, because one of the things that I love about Brené is the type of people she attracts, and I was excited to see who I might meet there.

From her blog post, “the perfect protest“, where readers posted pictures of their own “perfection protest” signs (you can see my response here), I ended up following some pretty spectacular blog writers (Kelly Rae, Superhero Life, Joy Tanksley, and Less is More (Fun) to name a few). The type of people that read Brené’s work and support her seem to all be working towards the same goals of vulnerability, connection, compassion, and courage – those are the type of people I want to hang out with!

Despite going stag and having to brave the rain, the only real damper on the evening was the knowledge that the bookstore’s website stated that I had to purchase Daring Greatly from their store in order to get it signed. Blast! I had ordered her book weeks ago on Amazon…but I had a plan. This same bookstore also sells the artwork of Kelly Rae, which I love, and she and Brené are good friends. I tentatively asked the staff if I could get a Kelly Rae print signed, and to my relief, they graciously agreed.

I sat in the front row, sitting next to a friend of mine who happened to be there (he is an awesome faith community leader, and you can read his account of the night here), and the night was everything I hoped it would be. She is authentic and funny, and vulnerable, just like she is in her books. She’s the real deal.

When I got up to the table for her to sign the print, hands shaky and heart racing, she held the canvas to her cheek as if to send a hug to the artist. After signing it lovingly she asked me to hold it up so she could take a picture. I then thanked her for introducing me to such amazing women through her blog, for being the “captain of the dream team” of all these writers…and then she was on to the next admirer.

And just like that, because of scrambling to solve the problem of my Amazon pre-order, I had unintentionally given her a memorable moment. I kept thinking, “I’m in Brené Brown’s phone!”

“everything shapes us” from Kelly Rae

It’s somewhat of a silly story, but the fact is that I have a lot of respect for her, and it was really an honor to meet her; she is one of my heros…one of the ones that I look up to the most. She is a hero to me because I know that she’s not perfect, gets scared sometimes, and she goes out there anyway. She has people that call her names and say mean things, but she continues to walk in her value of living a life of vulnerability ad courage ….and that is what Daring Greatly is all about.

glimmers of hope

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I’m sitting at my kitchen table right now, drinking a delightful cup of coffee and enjoying the rare moments of silence surrounding me. It’s been one of those days, that while holding nothing spectacular, manages to soften your heart with feelings of subtle gratitude and refreshing peace.

As I’ve been working around the house today doing those normal everyday things, I’ve been listening to music, and again, more softening. And tears. Tears for all of the days gone by where I was so far away from the God that I loved so desperately. Tears for the glimmers of hope I keep feeling and seeing, that maybe he didn’t give up on me, even when I gave up completely on him. For some reason I feel such a sense of grace for my unbelief…I guess I expected that if I ever returned I’d be met with an unrelenting sea of guilt. Not even necessarily from God, but shame within myself for having fallen away. Perhaps I’m being too easy on myself, but I just have this feeling that he understands why I walked away.

I’m trying to figure out a way to describe this journey, this feeling, this softening. I feel like my faith has been a secret garden, locked up and unattended by me for so long, and when I finally was ready to unlock the gates again, I saw that someone had been tending to the garden the whole time while I was away. The garden doesn’t look like it did when I last walked the grounds, a lot of things needed to change (and still do!)…but it is nonetheless beautiful…and worth the effort.

again and again

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How do you like the new look? I’m kinda loving how cheery it feels :) Anyway, here is a great quote I thought you’d enjoy…

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.

-Abraham Maslow

Random updates

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I’m having a hard time figuring out what to write about.

So I think I might tell a few picture stories :)

The roads out here have been lined with wild sunflowers, and EVERY time I drive by them I absolutely love them. I think they’re my favorite flower, they’re just so happy, and I love seeing huge fields of them out in the wild.

I have been trying to take advantage of all the wonderful things there are to do this summer, including going to see The Sound of Music at an outdoor theatre.

I decided since my hair is longer than it’s been since I was about 9, I would chop it off and donate it to Locks of Love…here is a funky picture of me, completely disappointed, just after I found out that it was still too short to donate it. I am going to do my best to wait another couple of months (the hair stylist said I could still go through with it now, but her warning that I would “HATE it” made me think it would be a decision I would regret, lol).

We’ve been getting a lot of rain the past few weeks, and it’s been wonderful. A couple of highlights from the rain – it’s brought out the frogs (which delights my son to no end) and I also got to see a very cool double rainbow, which I decided to just enjoy instead of trying to take a picture of it.

I’ve had some interesting God experiences lately – I might share more

from the wood on my back porch – see the heart?

later, but for now, I’ll say that I’m starting to find my way back. I’m realizing that I need to stop holding God accountable for the actions of others. I feel like I’m on a path of self-care right now, and I’m so very thankful for the space and time to walk it.

My brother is letting me borrow his old iphone, and I am freaking loving it. I am finding lots of great apps for meditation and fun, and I am really grateful to have so much at my fingertips!

My current iphone wallpaper:

And finally, a gnome candle, just for kicks.

 

Hope ya’ll are having a fantastic summer!