Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Monday, July 21, 2014
Let's talk about the single life for a moment. Insert the general "I know they mean well and are being nice and I take it as a compliment and stuff" disclaimer here. K, now. I'm just not sure how people think it's useful to say "Oh, he's coming! You just are waiting for the very very best. Don't you settle." and "He's going to come from somewhere you least expect it." and my personal favorite "Well, have you showed interest in my son? Maybe you should send him a message on facebook. Just say hi."
Like I said, they mean well. And at least they all think I should be dating someone, right? Mad props to them for that.
Sometimes, I don't want to be dating someone. Like, I reach this point of "actually I'm pretty cool on my own and that whole dating business is exhausting and maybe I'll just change my relationship status on facebook to 'donuts' and call it good".
And actually, most of the time, I actually much prefer the idea of dating someone. I even like the idea more than donuts when I'm thinking straight.
So, mostly there's no point to this post. And I know it's not Wednesday and I know I haven't dear boy-ed in forever, but these letters happened the other night at 1 AM and I need somewhere to share them, so, there's that.
dear no. 2 pencil,
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The thing I love about these drives is not just that I have the time to really think, but also to listen. Sometimes, I think we pray, or start down a train of thoughts in our minds, and quickly get distracted by something. When you're driving, it's much easier to stay on that thought because you really don't have much else to do until you reach your destination. I've had a few great a-ha moments during these late night drives recently.(But not of the "Take On Me" variety, the radio is off, remember?)
I don't really know how this train of thought came about, but one night I got to thinking about how good I feel about my life right now and thinking about how rough things felt just a couple months ago. I want to understand what made the difference, to know how I was holding myself back, to figure out what I was learning... my mind often works in images, and the "picture" of my life a few months ago is of me clinging for dear life to a rope. Like, one of those awful gym class ropes. The "picture" of me now is of me standing on a solid, cement floor.
I've let my mind play with these pictures for a few weeks now, and I'm kind of putting the pieces together. The clinging was just that - clinging. The more I imagine about that picture, the more I realize that I felt like I had to hold onto that rope with everything in me. I thought that letting go meant falling. I didn't think I had anything to land on. In fact, in my mind, I imagine giant alligators in a big, yucky, bottomless swamp. And in my mind those alligators have names like "what if" and "you're not good enough" and "nobody wants you". The rope, in my mind, is multiple things - things like writing thank you notes, going to the temple, reassurance from friends and family, prayers (lots and lots of tear-filled prayers), etc.
I learned a lot from the clinging. I've never read my scriptures quite like I read them during those really rough months. I craved them. I needed more knowledge and more peace and I was starving for it every day. I talked to friends and family often. They reassured me and I often wrote down things they said so I could go back to that and rely on that when I had moments where I didn't feel so reassured. Things changed when I felt like all I had was that rope.
And then one day, I loosened my grip on the rope. Not to let go, not to give up, but to breathe. Because I realized I hadn't been breathing. I was white knuckling it and terrified. On one magical day, I finally loosened my grip just enough to step back and look at my surroundings. That's when I found that solid cement. It had been there underneath me the entire time, right below my feet. It wasn't moving, it wasn't going anywhere, it was firm.
Maybe this is feeling cheesy to you. I realize it might seem silly, but in my mind, it's a beautiful, visual representation of what I've learned. Things got hard and I didn't feel like my feet were on the ground. I clung to the best things - I needed to. But more importantly, I learned that you don't have to spend your entire life clinging. At some point, you have to loosen up enough to recognize that foundation that's been there the whole time. There are things you already know, solid ground to rely on - and often that solid ground was built from the very things you were clinging to.
Letting go of the rope felt wrong. Because clinging to the rope was about doing all the "right things". And I knew those things were blessing my life, I knew they were! But there is a difference between doing "what you're supposed to" and actively making choices that you deeply feel are right. It turns out that sometimes actively making your own choices is hard, really hard. Sometimes there are hard questions to ask, sometimes other people won't understand, and sometimes you may even feel like you are stepping away from all of those things you've relied on your whole life. The secret is in where you're stepping. There are murky waters with alligators and there's a solid cement foundation that's been built all your life. Trust the foundation, trust what you know, but take those steps and ask those hard questions.
The ropes are always there for times you need to cling - sometimes, you need to cling. But that foundation is also always there too. Trust your foundation enough to stop clinging when it's time to stop clinging.
Interestingly enough, this song is one of the ropes I was clinging to:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.
“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
If you take anything away from this blog post, take this: Sometimes, our pathways take us through fiery trials - it is meant to be that way. But the flame will never harm us. "All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good." Our deepest distresses will be sanctified to us and we will never be forsaken. Hold on to what you know, trust your foundation, make choices that feel right to you - not based on what you're "supposed" to do. Walk through that refiners fire with the confidence that you are gold - you are already gold simply being refined to something even more precious and beautiful.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Something about that talk and some recent conversations with friends sparked something in me. Like, my soul visited grandma, ate too much sugar, and can't sit still for the life of her. That's exactly how it feels.
Sitting still feels all kinds of wrong. A couple weeks ago on a Tuesday night, I thought I might have legitimately lost my mind. I wanted to drive to a far away mountain peak and scream at the top of my lungs, I wanted to dye my hair pink again or go skinny dipping (also again... shhh), and really, I just wanted to do something to break free from my current "sitting still" lifestyle. (Which resulted in this steak at 10 PM and intentionally staying up way past my bedtime escapade.)
I guess I've discovered that I like to break rules. Not at all in a go to jail (do not pass go, do not collect $200) kind of way. More in the letting go of the "what I'm supposed to do" kind of fake rules I sometimes let control my life.
When I go to bed and set my alarm clock on my phone, it tells me how many hours of sleep I'm going to get. I always feel guilty if it's less than 8. Because somewhere, I learned that rule. And I'm working at a full-time job because, well, that's what you're supposed to do when you graduate, right? (Plus, that's how you get insurance and all that good stuff. Because society.)
It's not like those things are wrong. But who ever decided they were right? And most importantly, who ever decided they were right for me?
I realize this is a really rambly post. I won't even complain if you think I'm crazy after trying to read it. And really, I'm not going to apologize, because, I'm breaking rules these days. When I say breaking rules, I think I really mean, being free. Flying. Because instead of listening to those "you should do this" "you're supposed to be like this" rules that I heard somewhere, I'm learning how to make real choices. Doing what's right is a lot more about actively finding my own passion and my own joy than about what someone else would recommend or what John Tesh said last night. (Don't get me wrong, I'm actually a big John Tesh fan.)
On a different note that may only feel related in my mind:
I recently went to SNAP! Conference and Elevate Conference. I hung out with all kinds of stellar bloggers with deep senses of passion and creativity and drive. Both conferences felt almost... healing. Like waking up after finally getting a good nights sleep. As I sat in a google analytics class listening to the speaker, I found myself completely tuning him out. Partially because he was brilliant and therefore totally going over my head. But also because I remembered an idea that's been working its way around my brain for over a year now. And suddenly, the idea felt like a possibility. So, I stopped listening to the google analytics jargon, pulled out my notebook, and wrote the first chapter of my book.
And then, there I was at Elevate. Sitting on the floor because I wanted more doodle space than my lap can provide. And suddenly, blog friends were making sure they picked their seats based on where I was so that they could watch me doodle. My day was filled with all kinds of "you need to open a shop" and "why can't I buy this print?" kinds of comments. And my heart said "yes yes yes!" and my brain said "you don't have time, you have a full-time job, what if people don't actually buy anything, what if you're not good enough, it's too scary." And then the fabulous Lisa Leonard said wonderful things about being brave and being yourself and taking chances. She said "If you don't give up, you will succeed." and "You're not a failure, you can do it. You just have to find a way."
So, here we are a couple of major brain storm sessions later. I've got a book in the works, the beginnings of a revamped website, and a shop on its way to being open with my very own hand-lettered prints. And I want to vomit just thinking about pressing publish on this post. Because then these things aren't my secret projects - they're real life. But deep down, I know that's what I actually want them to be.
Monday, May 12, 2014
I've blogged recently. I haven't posted anything publicly though. It's not that I don't want any of it to be read, it's that I haven't wanted to post anything they only tells half a story. Sometimes, things happen in your life that aren't blog-able.
That being said, I'm here to talk about half a story.
I've mentioned that life has been hard recently in my last couple posts. Things are less hard right now. I'm in a new phase and I'm grateful for that. Things are different. Of course, I still have challenges, but they're new (and less exhausting/draining than the last ones).
Let's talk about worrying. I've come to realize that worry is my comfort zone. Why would something so stressful and even painful be my comfort zone? I'm not really sure. But sometimes I think we attach ourselves to things just because they're familiar, not because they've got any value. Worry is familiar. I know how to worry, I know how to cry, how to feel, how to attach myself to things in a way that allows me to care from a safe, worry-filled distance.
And then there's peace. Peace is something I've felt and experienced before. I love peace. But it's actually completely out of my comfort zone. I don't know how to simply be at peace and not worry. So much so that I begin to worry about whether or not I should be worrying any time I'm not worried. (How's that for mental exhaustion.)
Recently, I've felt a lot of peace. It has been very uncomfortable. Contradictory? Yep. Am I worried about it? Actually, no.
Months ago, I was talking to my dad about a really concerning challenge in my life. The advice he gave me (as well as the advice is received through prayers and blessings) was to be at peace. I told him I didn't know how. The idea of figuring out how to do that stressed me out in all kinds of non-peaceful ways.
Then, my dad said "Stop thinking, Luke. Feel." Perhaps not a direct Obi-Wan quote, but definitely a true principle. (And who doesn't love life lessons from Star Wars?) He was referring to Luke learning how to use the force. Here's a real quote: "Let go of your conscious self and act on instinct."
If I've learned anything in the last 6 months, I've learned that there is so much more than what we think we know or "get". The way to be at peace is a lot less about a step-by-step list and a lot more about letting go of your conscious self and allowing yourself to simply be in a place of peace. It's about going to the Prince of Peace. Letting go in a way that requires complete trust.
There are a lot of things I don't know. And a lot of things that I'd realllllly like to understand. But for the moment, I'm okay with this out of my comfort zone stage because I'm learning that there is actually a lot more genuine comfort that comes from trust and from allowing yourself to be at peace.
And as I type that, I think my favorite part is that I'm learning. That feels a lot more like progress than a consistent feeling of "being okay". Learning feels like more.