some stuff i wrote.

Last weekend, a good friend of mine let me know that there was a free writing workshop being offered by an author who was in town to speak at a church. As you can tell from my dusty blog (hello cobwebs) my spirit hasn’t exactly been… um… pleasant enough for blogging…

Oh well — if you can’t be honest on the Internet, where can you? 

I’ve been in a major life funk lately.

There I said it.

And I hate blogging when I’m in a funk because it makes me re-feel all my funky feelings and, because I write on the Internet, it subjects all of you lovely people to my funk, too.

It must have been providential, then, that this workshop was titled, Open-heart Writing; like open-heart surgery, it is painful but life-saving.

The author gave us three prompts (one at a time) and gave us ten minutes to jot something down (on PAPER! with PENS!) And, despite the time crunch and my inability to edit, I kinda liked the things I wrote. So I’m gonna share them with you, the Internet, in lieu of a funky-feely blog post.

Cool? Cool.

PROMPT 1: Describe the room.

The room is golden, both in color and in ambiance. It doesn’t sparkle though, fighting a looming tarnish. The windows pour in a summery stream of mid-February, south Florida morning, as I sit between a Diane and a woman whose name will always be to me, Also Talks WIth Her Hands.

Laura sits at the head of our mango-colored table, adorned with silver rings on her fingers and around her neck, and her crooked smile and quiet voice reminds me of Erica.

PROMPT 2: The most important room in my life. 

Converted

Walking along the maroon, cracked tiles, the soles of my shoes always stuck a little bit, presumably because there was residual barbecue sauce forever festering in the pores of the tiles. The smell has gone, but the look of the interior of Mickey Andrews’ Barbecue Joint (was that its name?) would always linger in the church corporate gathering area.

It was in this dark, awkwardly arranged ex-restaurant where I was reintroduced to a guy named Jesus Christ who, contrary to everything I’d ever been taught as a small, loud-mouthed girl, loved me so very much just the way I am.

Being a converted barbecue restaurant, the dining tables exchanged for handmade wooden cafe tables and broken stadium seats, it doesn’t really look like a church. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much.

There were no stained glass windows, only dingy double panes dressed in cheap, plastic blinds. There weren’t any bad, last supper themed murals. Instead there was a thick coat of dark red matte and framed artwork by members of the community. Instead of a chancel with an organ and handbells, there was a rickety, slapped-together collapsible stage precariously cradling a drum set and a few acoustic and electric guitars, as well as a homemade stool for the pastor to teach from.

PROMPT 3: Tell the story in this photo. 

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The hot, sticky air disguised itself as that of mid to late May, but the calendar, turned to the twelfth month, called its bluff. Comforted by the shelter of a banyan canopy, sweating in long sleeves, you and I struggled to keep up with a smaller, more wild version of ourselves, who had just learned how to walk.

Stifled by both the south Florida winter’s heat and the reality that a toddler and a clock ticking seconds closer to nap time were a volatile combination, our appearance was remarkably pleasant. The perfect little trio, an enviable Christmas card, telling terrible lies to all its recipients.

“Things are beautiful and perfect here! We love our life! Cheese!” was what we said on the sandy path, our unruly boy trapped in the binding and protective embrace of a tired and frustrated father. Deep in our eyes, though, the truth was louder.

Sadness, loneliness, and betrayal leaked out of us onto the card as the cruel sun climbed higher behind the defenseless branches. But we are here, alive and robust in perspiration, together in a beautiful and clumsy dance of survival.

Like the Spanish moss to the stretching limbs, we are committed to growing and stretching upward, downward, and in spirals.

The end.

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2013 in maths.

Hi there! I realize I haven’t blogged in approximately a hundred years, so let me apologize for that first.

I’m sorry for not blogging. Really I am.

This post is intended to be partly a way to explain the reason for my silence as well as a wrap-up to 2013.

Yes, another 2013 contemplation post. A good 15 days into 2014.

I NEEDED SOME TIME TO PROCESS, OKAY? Sorry.

Today a friend/coworker of mine came over for a meeting about work/life/whatever, and while we were meeting, I drew a crude graph of what 2013 looked like for me in terms of how crappy it was. Observe:

Image

DISCLAIMER: I failed all of the math classes.  

The beginning of the year started out okay, but then we found out that we were going to have to quit our jobs and move with no foreseeable solution. And, as you can see from my oh-so-accurate graph, having a tiny mouth to feed with no real idea of how to afford that caused a spike on our suckage axis.

But in the spring, we got offered jobs in a fancy town called Naples, Florida, which brought our suckage down a considerable amount. Granted, I was still very sad to leave the support network we’d spent the better part of a decade building but I was hopeful for what was to come. So while there was still some suckage caused by the realities of packing up and moving away, it wasn’t terrible.

The summer happened and, while I didn’t have any real close friends in Naples yet and I was really shy and scared and Dan was always out of town working and it was roughly eight billion degrees outside everyday, it was still relatively good. Even the loneliest person (who I kind of was this past summer) can’t complain when you’ve got Naples sunsets on the Gulf to gawk at every evening.

The summer also included the worst Tuesday which was absolutely a frighteningly high suckage point but I didn’t include it in my graph because it was thankfully just one day (I believe in math they call that an “outlier”) and I didn’t want to throw the summer baby out with the febrile seizure bathwater. Plus, some people came to visit us in the hospital, proving to me that we did actually have friends already and that we weren’t as alone as I may have thought. It was also a good learning experience for us; now we know that even if Dax is running a low-grade fever we have got to be diligent about treating it. But seriously, it was literally the scariest thing I’ve ever gone through and I would rather yank my fingernails out one by one than ever go through that again.

But then…. the fall happened. And Dan got caught in some majorly sucky work-related junk that left us seriously questioning our decision to move to Naples. I won’t (and definitely should not) go into it here, but just know that the months of August, September, and October, and November left us feeling pretty hopeless and sad.

But we got pregnant in September! Which gave us lots of hope!

And then we miscarried in October. And all of the hope that was blossoming in my heart was stomped out by dirty, messy heartbreak and I became so very angry. I harbored the kind of anger you can taste in the back of your throat; a bitter emotion that, rather than dissipating, festers with every minute that passes by and spreads through your whole being in an infectious rage, eating away at every blood cell and oxygen molecule in your body until you feel like you have literally rotted from the inside out.

And it is for this reason that I’ve avoided blogging. The internet, quite frankly, is chock full of negativity and sadness. I didn’t want to contribute to that. I wanted to give myself some space to get into a better place so that I could use my blog to speak some life into this world rather than to suck the life out of it. I think we can all agree that there are already enough things in this world that do that.

*pushes up glasses* So. In light of that… this is the life I’d like to speak to you today.

As you can see from the graph above, the suckage points do start to fall steadily after the terrible autumn. Things at work started stabilizing a bit, and after the miscarriage I was overwhelmed by love and support from so many people — people I’d met, people I hadn’t met, people who I knew but never knew had gone through a miscarriage themselves…

Based on all the bad things that happened in 2013, I could have easily shoved 2013 out the door with a scowl on my face. But to do that would discount all the great things that happened last year; all the friends we have made, all the debt we have paid off despite our barrage of medical crises, all the dates we’ve gone on, all the new words Dax has learned, etc…

The best way I can put it is that 2013 tore my heart wide open with gaping wounds of pain, however these holes made room for real love to be planted within me. And now, I’ve just got to spend 2014 nurturing those love seeds and investing in the relationships we’ve formed and watch them grow.

So, all that said, as we look forward to 2014, take a look at my graph and see that for every sucky peak, there is an impending valley of peace. 

Listen, Reader: nothing is forever. As long as you’re still this side of the soil, no suckage peak will ever plateau. What goes up must go down. (That’s science. Which I also failed.)

So don’t give up. Don’t let what is currently sucky consume your whole life. Rather, let the hope of the future’s peace comfort you.

Happy 2014, all.

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getting real on instagram.

Jennifer Lawrence has been known to speak out against the way the media attacks women’s self esteems. She’s a body image/self-love warrior if I’ve ever seen one.

Over the past couple weeks, though, a GIF showing a recent picture of her and its dastardly photoshopping has begun floating around the internet. When I saw it, naturally, I was livid. (Click here to check it out and to likely get mad, too.)

A couple days ago, when Dan, Dax, and I were on our way to meet our friend Zach for a family photo shoot, another friend of mine texted me about the Jennifer Lawrence thing. I told her I’d seen it already and that OMG HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO HER, UGH. 

Mere minutes after that text, I posted a picture of myself to Instagram expressing my concern over my hair. (I’d used a volumizing shampoo that morning and it was dreadfully humid outside and so my hair was quite huge.) Here’s the photo I posted:

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I got lots of comments along the lines of, “ZOMG U R SO PRETTY”, to which I sheepishly replied, “Awww thanks guys!” And my self-consciousness faded away more and more with each new LIKE and praise-worthy comment.

But about an hour later, I got really convicted. You see, I am no different than the magazine that photoshopped Jennifer Lawrence.

That photo I posted to Instagram is a picture of a very pretty girl, for sure. But I am not that girl. I WISH I was as pretty as that girl. But that girl on Instagram is covered in makeup and filters. She, like the Jennifer Lawrence-imposter on the cover of that zine, is not real. It’s not enough to compare myself to fake women who aren’t supposed to look like me; now, I’m comparing myself to fake images that really are supposed to look like me.

It’s making me feel all kinds of weird.

I’m about to do something really ballsy. I’m about to post a picture to the internet of me without any makeup or filters. Want to see the real me? Here she is.

gross

 

See? Way different.

I’m not sure why my face looks like it’s been through puberty five times in the past month. It could have something to do with being pregnant and then miscarrying, all while still nursing a toddler, but really, the reason behind it doesn’t matter because it’s so bad and I want to hide under Instagram filters forever so who cares.

As if Instagram isn’t bad enough, there are actual apps you can download for your smart phone so that you can actually photoshop photos of yourself before you post them to Facebook or Instagram. So you can make sure you look extra perfect before choosing which filter you can put on your photo to make you look even more perfect.

Instagram is, no doubt, the egg to the photoshop chicken, so how can I, in good faith, use it to perpetuate the problem and claim to be a champion for self-worth?

I love using Instagram to keep up with my friends (especially those who live far away and have babies who, for some reason, keep growing despite my distinct instructions for them not to do so) but I hate the way it makes me feel like I have to have a perfect photo before posting it. Furthermore, I hate comparing my pimply face to perfect pictures other people post of themselves. It’s not fair to my spirit and it does nothing to fight against the media’s insistence that images can only be published once they’ve been doctored to unattainable standards.

So I’m taking a pledge — rather than quitting using Instagram (because I love it) from here on out, anytime I post a photo of myself or any other person to Instagram, I will not use a filter. I can’t promise I won’t be wearing makeup because holy acne you guys I want to claw my face off but I will forego the filters.

Get ready for a slew of pimply selfies, y’all. It’s about to get real.

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thanksgiving.

As I stated in an earlier post, I went back to work full time a couple weeks ago. The transition has been mostly positive, but it has been a transition nonetheless. And, not sure if you know, but November is quite the busy month for church employees, so I’ve been run a bit ragged.

But it’s okay! Because it’s a huge financial blessing to my family that I’m working full time again.

So, on this Thanksgiving day, when I haven’t had the time or energy to post daily gratitudes like I said I would, I’m thankful for a great job, a great husband, a great kid, and a time of relaxation in a (mostly) great hometown.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

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shifty eyes.

I know you all are giving me shifty eyes right now. Committing to a blog a day was certainly biting off more than I could chew. I admit it! I’m sorry!

So let’s play catch up.

TUESDAY I was thankful for the ability to play music with friends. Can’t beat that, right? Some people like to lose themselves in cooking, or running, or yoga, or, like, America’s Next Top Model marathons. Me? I prefer to lose myself in playing music. (See also: America’s Next Top Model marathons.)

WEDNESDAY I was thankful for the fact that, in November in South Florida, it’s really nice outside. Perfect for late night stroller walks. Mind you, it wasn’t ME taking Dax for a stroller walk. It was the nursery workers at our church. For some reason, Dax doesn’t mind the nursery on Sundays or on Tuesdays. But on Wednesdays he screams his head off the whole time. So these poor ladies have to take Dax out in a stroller and do laps around the church campus until Dan and I are done with our Wednesday night responsibilities. Oy. Bless those women. (Also, any insight from other moms out there as to why he’s so anti-nursery on Wednesday nights?)

TODAY I’m thankful that, at this point, I’m the only healthy one in the house. Last night Dax was up every hour screaming for nursings (yay teeth) between coughs (getting over a nasty cold) while Dan was up battling against (and losing miserably to) a gnarly stomach bug. Praying I stay healthy! Yikes!

What are you thankful for today?

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partnership.

Well guys, I am now officially full time at the church which is a HUGE financial blessing (miscarrying a child in an emergency room without insurance isn’t cheap, y’all — just a heads up from yours truly). I’m also still able to do about half my job from home so we really only need a bit of finagling to make childcare for Dax work.

Today took quite a bit of juggling; Dan and I both did half our days at home (mine in the morning, his in the afternoon) so that we could both get all of our work done and Dax could be well cared for.  While it did take a bit of logistical brainpower to make the day work, it did work, and Dax was happy all day. (Went to bed early, even!)

I am so very grateful to have such a great husband and parenting partner. Dan is so supportive of my endeavors and I try to be of his, and we are both on the same page when it comes to bringing up Dax. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always workable when you have such an awesome partner.

Thanks for being you, Dan.

Oh and here’s a gratuitous adorable picture of my baby sleeping because duh. (It took everything in me not to crawl into that crib and snuggle with him when I snapped this picture.)

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second chances.

This week I had to write a blog for my job about the idea of forgiveness — namely the difficulty of forgiving ourselves — and, I think, when I wrote it I sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Check it out and let me know what you think. I’ll wait.

Then this weekend happened and my husband and I got into a fight that started because I don’t know how to give myself a break. The biggest reason that sucks is because it put me into a funk too strong to break through to blog.

So today, on this quiet Sunday, I am grateful for second chances and for a husband whose memory is so bad that he only has to remember the most recent chance he gave me to get this wife thing right.

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