I had a beautiful day today, got to hang out with favorite people, hug the necks of those I don’t see a lot. It was just good.
So, I decided I wanted to sit and write.
I was trying to grasp at something to say-somewhere to go.
I had an experience this past week, something good and soul filling that I’m still digesting for myself and for the first time in more years than I think or I can comprehend-I feel just simply like myself.
Nothing dark or heavy or weight bearing is surrounding me.
I feel like I’m allowed to believe that hope is tangible.
It’s no longer “I believe something good can happen, but…”
I feel like there’s a part of myself that was always so ready for the other shoe to drop, that was just in wait for the next thing that was lined up to build my resilience, that that part inside me has realized it can actually just rest.
That I can lay my defenses down.
Back when I lived in Orange County and was actively in therapy, at the end of that preschool year, my director gave us all a verse. The verse she gave me was from Nehemiah 4 wherein the builders were building but also held a hammer in their hand. A couple weeks later after upping my meds and having a really hard time with suicidal thoughts, my therapist made a comment.
“You know it’s just reminds me of the builders in Nehemiah. You’re going. You’re moving forward. But you have a sword too.”
Since then I’ve kept in that manner. I’ve held a sword while I’ve kept moving forward.
But, I don’t need that sword anymore.
I’ve read a lot of books and read so many stories of warriors and soldiers who were always battle ready, who never shook the cloud of war and fight from them.
Who always had a sword under their pillow.
And I’ve learned in the last 12+ years of my life that it’s really damn hard to sleep with a sword under your pillow.
And, I’m done with that.
I don’t need it under my pillow because at the end of the day- I have what I need without it.
And to me; that’s hope.
I don’t know what’s under your pillow. I don’t what my train of thought led you too.
I just know that I made the decision to find a way back home to myself this year and that my home doesn’t have swords under the pillows.
That’s all for now.
With absolutely love and hope,
In September of 2021 I started a new job and about 3 weeks into I finally felt capable of attacking something that I had put off far too long: my closet.
So I pulled everything out and just had it on the floor as I began to go through it and see what I was and wasn’t wearing anymore.
Then, a trip that was supposed to be going to hang out with my Orange County family turned out to be one that flipped my whole world around when my mom passed away.
I came back for a few days before going to spend a week with my dad- took one look at the clothes and shoved them back into my closet.
And it’s been like that ever since.
2022 was inevitably just surviving.
And I still feel weak for saying that but that’s what it was.
My closet bursting at the seams has been this symbol of everything I didn’t think I was capable of handling.
But this year I’m coming back home to myself.
Which means doing things that feel really hard and overwhelming.
So, last night I decided to start the work of cleaning out the corners of my room.
I shoved my bed as far as I could into the middle of the room and began a trash bag of things I didn’t need anymore.
I created space.
Then tonight after a long day I unboxed some things I’ve gotten for the kitchen and then got to work on moving all the furniture in my room and vacuuming and taking a lot of deep breathes.
It all feels like a long time coming.
My friend Michele has been someone who I’ve talk to a lot about not feeling shame for being incapable of doing something. She’s been a cheerleader when I’ve been able to do something that feels bigger than me.
Today she said that this year feels like we’re getting out from underneath all the shit that’s been squishing us. And we know we aren’t going to get squished again because we’re strong and we’ve practiced and now we can thrive.
I got emotional as I cleared out my corners.
As I vacuumed and threw out things and contemplated what I needed and didn’t need.
I’ve realized how heavy I’ve felt and been and how my room has been a picture of what was going on in my brain.
And how I’ve felt like- in a way- that I deserved the things because I didn’t know how to feel better and because I thought I just should.
Grief is lonely.
And my room was ultimately a picture of that.
But, now, I’m cleaning out the corners. I’m not done yet and I get a new mattress on Saturday and I’m going to be able to sleep again and enjoy my space and keep moving forward in whatever this is.
I don’t know what you might be holding right now or what your room or your brain looks like but this is my encouragement to you to mentally, spiritually, physically and tangibly clean out your corners.
You deserve it for you.
I was going to go sit and write somewhere, but nowhere was sitting with me and it’s cold out and I have things I should do instead. But, I decided to make a snack and grab a sprite and sit on the floor with music in my ears and try to do something I don’t do a lot: write at home.
I don’t know if I currently have the capacity to write about what I’m feeling heading into this year but I’m hearing some things loud and clear so I thought I’d write even a muddled mess of a first try.
Last year my word was “create” and as I pondered through that and what I thought I did or didn’t do; I realize I did create-it just didn’t feel like how I thought it might.
The thing I keep hearing for this year, loud and clear, is just a simple phrase “come back home to myself”.
I know that feels like it should be easy right?
I’ve been surviving the last year of my life. I’ve been doing what feels like the bare minimum to keep my head above the water line. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. I’ve been doing exactly what I need to do and I’ve been pushing through.
I think I’ll be honest that at the end of it all, I just truly want to come back home to myself this year.
And I’m not 100% sure what that all entails.
I just know that I need to find those parts of me that I’ve lost along the way.
That I need to not be scared of it.
That I find hope again.
And I know this all sounds dismal- it’s not.
The reason I want to come home to myself is because I have people and spaces and times and abilities that show me who I am.
I know those things.
But, it’s time I start remembering that I have to walk in the door to come home.
Finding ways to care for myself that aren’t always easy and that take some vulnerability and courage. Finding more ways to be exactly who I am.
Finding ways to come back home to myself.
It’s truly an up in the clouds type of word for the year but I’m sure I’ll keep delving and keep figuring out what it means each day.
Happy new year my friends.
I honestly just want to go to sleep.
I’m tired, I had drinks with a friend and some fries, I have a full week ahead- but this morning I had a thought about story. And I feel like I need to flesh it out a bit, so here I am, in my comfy with a Yule log playing on the tv, my Christmas lights on and we’re gonna talk about it.
I just finished a book in a supernatural series I’m reading and with each book I’m shocked to see that this author has more story to tell and more places to go and more character development.
I’m a sucker for a supernatural story. I think it’s the BA in English in me that loves stories that aren’t cut and dry where I have to search out the themes and character archetypes and strings that weave through a story. I love the moment where I realize that something I read ten pages ago was actually the foreshadowing I thought it was.
And I love when an author uses all of those elements; archetypes, themes, context clues and story crafting to take a hard left when you think they were going to go right.
[For example: Gargoyles. (The girls that get it; get it)]
When they craft a story that feels like it always was only to open the world in the story to things you never thought possible.
And as you read on you realize it all makes sense. All the things that have lead to that moment make sense. You just couldn’t read it in the way the author meant because to you that’s what they had always done.
I’m really bad at believing that life is just going to be the same again.
That the situation is the same, the scenarios are the same, the feelings are the same.
That nothing lifted to make the story different.
But today, sitting in church during worship I got a fierce reminder that if the story was the same I’d just be rereading a chapter.
And I’m not.
Going into a new year can feel like a lot of things. And no, the world doesn’t change when the clock strikes midnight. But it becomes fresh.
You can create hope and life and walk into something choosing to believe that the story is going to turn left rather than right.
You can believe you aren’t rereading-it’s a new chapter.
(Like maybe there might suddenly be gargoyles).
I can admit freely that especially in the last year of my life I’ve lived in fear of the other shoe dropping. That I’m gonna get on a plane and the world will crash down again, that a phone call will crumble me.
I’ve treated each season like I was rereading a chapter rather than writing a new story.
I haven’t stepped out of the box enough to see that the themes and context clues and foreshadowing mean something wholly different than before.
And that is honestly terrifying to admit.
There are a few weeks left of 2022. I know there isn’t a magic spell, or some potion or anything that will change it all.
But, I do know that I have to stop living as if I’m rereading a chapter.
And honestly I don’t know what that means.
But, I do know that this isn’t just a me thing.
You also aren’t rereading a chapter.
You don’t have to live in the monotony of what always was.
And you, human reading this, have so much to contribute to the narrative.
So, with that, I’m going to shower.
With absolute love,
I’m currently a little scared to look at all the things I’ve swept under the rug.
Sweeping things under the rug, shoving them in a closet, chucking them in a bag to deal with later isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes to survive you just have to do that.
Today in church as I sat during worship this line stuck out and played in a loop for me the rest of the morning.
“Everything you’ve lost; love’s returning”.
Now; I’ve felt really ugly for the last year.
I’ve tried so hard.
I’ve tried to not be the daughter who lost her mom. I’ve struggled almost every day with that. That weight of grief. The absolute utter loneliness I’ve lived in. The feeling of not having done enough or been enough.
I will repeat: I’ve felt so ugly.
I have to pause and say that I’ve had the most amazing humans in my life who have held me and fed me and looked me in the face and told me that my mom would be proud of me. Friends who I hadn’t talked to in years who still check on me frequently.
I have not been alone.
But the deep loneliness has been hard to shake.
And I have just had to survive.
My word this year, the one that spun in my brain at the beginning was create.
I tried to run from it, I tried to find any other word, but that was the one.
And today all I could think is that all I’ve created this year has been a mess.
I’ve fallen behind on projects, I didn’t meet goals I wanted, my room is still a disaster, I’ve barely written.
I haven’t created anything.
I know this year held hope, it held newness, it held camp and rocky and working with people I love.
It held good things.
But all I can think of is how ugly I have felt.
How grief was so messy and tormenting and how I wanted to yell and cry and throw things.
All I can think of is the parts of myself I’ve lost and don’t know if I’ll ever get back.
All I can feel are the rough edges that feel like they are permanent.
All I can identify myself as is a daughter who lost her mom.
All I can see is what I’ve lost.
I don’t know what higher power you believe in if you do. I don’t know if you find God tangible. Right now, I’m sitting in the back corner of this brewery, tucked in a corner, (trying not to cry and not make eye contact with the bartender who has clearly watched me cry) and I just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is here too (yes, God sits in breweries). And the God I know is just sitting there and being in this space with me. Which is a lot for me who’s been dealing with not knowing how to sit in a space with God. But thankfully this God meets me even in places I don’t think I’m allowed to be in.
I don’t know right now what’s on the other side of all this.
I don’t know if things I’ve lost can be returned.
If the pieces of myself that I dropped to make space for pain can come back.
I don’t know how to tie any of this up in a neat bow.
I think what I’ve realized in the last 40 minutes or so of writing is that I can hold both life and whatever this is.
I can hold feeling ugly and moving forward.
And I can choose to keep speaking up instead of believing the voice in my head that I should be stronger than all this.
Sometimes I wish I could be more poetic or eloquent in my writing. But, then I realize that’s not who I am.
I’m just me, sitting here, peering under the rug and deciding what I actually need to keep.
If you’ve made it this far-if any of this hits you, if you’ve felt ugly, I want you to know I’m here with you.
Let’s keep fucking going.
With all the love,
I am not enough, I am not capable, I don’t hear from God and my voice isn’t needed.
All the words I’ve had, all the words I’ve deleted, all the words that have percolated in my head over the last hour have all had the same theme.
I am not enough, I am not capable, I don’t hear from God and my voice isn’t needed.
And I know how that sounds, but I’m gonna need you to hold on and keep reading.
Because at the end of the day, until we realize what binds all the awful things together in our brain we will be unable to figure it out.
I emote for the most part a very bad ass bitch attitude. Because honestly, you just have too.
But, when the exhaustion hits and the seasons change and memories come back to haunt us, it comes chugging down the tracks with a force.
And if you’re wondering: that’s where I’m at.
Exhaustion, changing into a season I’m realizing I have more against, and the memories flooding in.
I was having a conversation with someone a few weeks ago about how I’ve gotten better at meeting situations that feel heartbreakingly similar to other seasons in life not with “but I’ve been here before” but instead “I guess I have to go deeper”.
Because at the end of it all these phrases “I’m not enough” and “I am not capable” are not the same that they were.
They can’t be.
Not only am I am different human than when I met them before, not only am I stronger, but also I’ve seen some shit.
When I first wrote this long list of all the ways in which I feel like I fall short (it was pretty damn long), I felt guilty for even thinking them.
Not because they didn’t feel true, but because I had a momentary pause of; I should be stronger than than this.
But that’s not true.
I don’t need to be stronger than all the lies.
I need to be strong enough to recognize them for what they are and keep moving forward.
I’ve referenced this movie before, but I’m thinking of the scene in The Labyrinth where the main character realizes that the Goblin King has no power over her.
And I wonder how frequently she had to repeat that in her mind.
If she saw an owl, or had a moment of anger at her baby brother, or if she wanted to run. I wondered how many situations she met in her life past that where she has to tell that little voice in her head that it had no matter over her.
(It’s now I’m realizing that lies in my head are 100% David Bowie as the goblin king)
Because some days it feels easier to give in to them.
How easy would have been for her to give the baby to the goblin king and live a life free from the thing that made her feel something.
Sometimes, I don’t want to show up for myself.
I want lean in to all the things that cause me to not be who I am and just exist.
But, what kind of life is that?
I don’t really know where I’m going from here.
I have the legal pad of all the ways I currently don’t measure up.
I have the Goblin King trying to hand me a magic crystal to take the baby away.
Here I am though: standing my ground, speaking out that he has no power over me and choosing to keep moving forward and sitting in the muck and grief and places wherein I don’t feel I have the strength.
If you’re still here I want to remind you that you haven’t been here before because you’re in fact a different human than you were.
And the Goblin King has no power over you.
I read a list on Instagram couple days ago that was entitled “What I wish I would have done while I was single”.
I had a small inking of hope that maybe it wouldn’t be a list of things that have nothing to do with actually being single.
Maybe it would be like “travel more. Felt less shame going out to dinner alone. Not put my entire personality into being single and waiting for someone”.
Obviously I was wrong.
The list had nothing to do with any of that.
One line read “being alone is a lonely, depressing confusing and rough place to be” and to “trust god- it’s worth it”. And “He will come through”.
Might I counter that with maybe don’t put that on single people?
Life can be rough and lonely and depressing and confusing and while yes sometimes it does have to do with being single it’s not the whole story.
And do I believe that God will “come through”? Yah, I guess kind of. I don’t know if I would use that language.
I would say that I’m walking in the path that I’m supposed to and I’ll pick up the things set down for me as they come for me.
If that’s a relationship than great.
If it’s not-great.
God is still “coming through”.
I think I could go on to list more things about how problematic I feel the churches response to singleness is.
How much we are targeted in all the wrong ways and how we feel less than on a daily basis for not being in a relationship.
(I could easily go on a rampage about single childless woman but that’s another word for another day)
This string of Instagram post about guarding your eyes for another person and choosing to better yourself in listening for another person and leaning on God for another person.
You should do all that for yourself.
There’s that moment where I realize that there are people who there whole existence is finding a partner. That they want to do all those things.
But not all of us do.
I honestly don’t know where I’m at in the life of relationship.
(I would say that I’d be fine with a cat and some plants and a good library but I’m gonna be honest I kill plants)
But at the end of the day I do want to better myself, I want to trust the spirit inside me more, I want to be kind to myself.
To whom it may concern:
We’re not all waiting.
We’re not all sitting on our hands using our time to prepare for a person to come into our lives and make us whole.
Honestly we’re not making ourselves better for someone else.
We’re making ourselves better for our own selves.
A single woman
I’ve been trying.
I’ve been trying to move through my days and not let anything I’m feeling leak out into the humans around me.
I’ve been trying to be strong.
I think it can go without saying that I haven’t been doing the best. I’ve been trying too. I’ve been attempting to deal with this thing called grief and struggle against the voice inside my head that says I should be over it.
I’ve been attempting to deal with feeling like not enough a lot of days of the week- like I don’t measure up and am physically incapable of doing so.
I’ve been attempting to not feel like a third wheel- attempting to try so hard to not shut down and be an island.
I’ve been attempting to not feel like less than- which is different than not feeling like enough- trying not to feel like my pain and grief and lack of hope makes me weak.
I’ve been attempting to not give in to all these things.
And it’s really fucking hard.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again and again: I don’t like writing from the middle.
I don’t like putting things out into the world that feel hopeless or lacking the spirit I have inside.
I don’t like placing what I feel inside for everyone to see.
But what I’ve realized is my ability to see it- to fight it- even when I don’t feel like I’m winning- that’s hope.
My ability to show up even when it feels like it goes beyond what I’m capable of doing- that’s the spirit inside me.
And writing from the middle? That’s me fighting.
Choosing to write from the middle and choosing to call out the things that want me to hide and cry (which I’ll still cry- I’m only human) is me remembering that I’m stronger than I think.
When I was in church this morning God clearly reminded me that I was built for this.
Now, don’t get me wrong- you will never hear me state “god only gives me what I can handle” because I call bullshit.
I’ve many moments in life but prime example: I was not in anyway shape or form able to handle losing my mom when I was only 36.
What I am saying is that, the hard, hopeless seaming things; the grief, the singleness, the feeling lost- it may (it has) knock me down. It may push me under.
But, I will rebuild.
I’ve talked a lot about ruins lately. My letterboard still reads “the city will be rebuilt on her ruins” and well, to be honest, a lot of my life still feels like ruins.
But, I’m working on cleaning it up. On finding the foundation.
I don’t know where you are.
I don’t know if you feel like you’re surrounded by ruins.
I don’t know if you feel like you don’t know what to do with your hands.
But I do know that all we need to do is keep trying.
I’m here with you.
You got this.
To the greatest Royal family there is:
Can I just say; ain’t no tired like after camp tired when you haven’t done it for three years.
I’m on my second cup of coffee sitting in my California home base and just starting to truly think about everything that the this past week was.
As I shared in my devotion on Monday morning, I didn’t think I had all the things I needed. I was emotionally drained, tired, and honestly just didn’t think I had the ability to teach bible stories to kids.
It’s felt for awhile as if I’m walking among ruins. Like my life fell apart and I haven’t started building again.
But I was reminded that, for the most part, ruins still have a foundation.
We were starting from scratch this year.
And might have felt, a little bit, like we were walking among ruins.
But, what hasn’t changed, what remained and maybe evolved, was all of our whys.
I saw it in all of your faces as you were eagerly awaiting the kids to come up the mountain. I saw it in your dance moves at chapel and your animated conversations at meals. I saw it in the staffs faces sitting at breakfast club or helping with woodworking or walking another kid to the nurses station.
We may have been walking among some ruins, we may have been missing a few tables and maybe a dunk tank (though did anyone really need to be in that on Wednesday?).
At the end of the day though, the foundation, the heart of the matter was the same.
We were there for the kids.
And we were there for each other.
On Monday I challenged and reminded us to be where your feet are and that you had everything you needed.
Mostly, I was just preaching to myself.
I’m pretty busy at camp. My desire is to always be available to help, to be present and to help make transitions from place to place be the easiest I can.
But, knowing myself, I knew that there would be moments I’d just have to force myself to pause. One of those was on Wednesday when I sat at an activity table for 45 minutes making one of those beaded flower projects with a camper.
Another was when I went on the zip line first and stood across the way for an hour cheering on the LIT girls and counselors.
I could have easily not gone on the zip line, I could have easily sent someone else and then done all the logistics of getting the girls on. But, instead I looked at the girls and said, I’m scared, I don’t want to do this, but I’m going too.
And it was amazing.
I stood across the field for an hour listening to the LITs cheering each other on and it was just a beautiful present moment where all I was focused on was the girl coming down the zip line next.
We all had to do some hard things this week. Maybe it was engaging with a camper or figuring out how to make something when you didn’t have all the pieces. Or figuring out a job someone else used to do for years.
Our campers had to do some hard things this week. Maybe it was going in the zip line or calming themselves down when they were frustrated or making it across the swimming pool.
But what we did this week was create a place where those hard things felt manageable. What we did without knowing it was show campers what they could do by us just showing up again.
Right before the world shut down in 2020, I was in a musical. And I found out after it had gotten cancelled that my parents were going to drive up to Washington and see it. Because, to quote my mom, “She wanted to do a hard thing for her to remind me I could do hard things”.
And I thought of that this week. I thought of it when I was having a hard time being present or when I didn’t feel capable. I thought of it when I was tired and someone flagged me down to walk somewhere with them.
I know we all have stories and reasons why we do camp.
This year, for me, my why was a little different. It was to face a thing I didn’t think I was capable of anymore, because at the end of the day I love and believe in those kids more than I believed in my inabilities to do the damn thing at camp.
At the end of the day my love and belief in YOUR abilities was greater than my inabilities.
You all inspire me and push me on more than I can even comprehend. The ways you show up and jump in and speak life and love with your actions and your words to the kids we serve pushed me on each and every day.
I get asked a lot why I don’t just go to a camp in Washington.
And it’s because of you all.
You are my family.
You are my lighthouse.
Thank you for always welcoming me back home 💜
I don’t really know what to say to you.
As I look back through memories and pictures and words I’ve already written I’m trying to find kind things to say that aren’t seen through a filter of just trying to see the good in a situation.
About 7 weeks after I turned 36 I got to hug my mom for what I knew in my bones would be the last time.
Soon after that I made a decision out of necessity for my incredibly burned out self that I needed to quit the job I’d been at for a little over 6 years.
About 5 weeks after I started that new job; my mom died.
Now, I can say something about you 36; you set me up to make some choices before I needed to make them.
You pushed me to make some hard decisions I didn’t want to make.
You allowed me to make space before I knew I needed it.
In my letter to 35 I wrote these words
“thirty-five feels like the end of the chapter that leads into an entirely different part of the story”.
And 36 has indeed been an entirely different part of the story.
But to me 36 feels like one of those montages of a movie where life is just happening and you aren’t quite sure what to do.
And then then main character opens the door and gets blinded by the sun and the fact that it’s spring again after what felt like too long of a winter.
36 has felt like winter.
I don’t know if I can say I’m grateful for it.
I’m grateful for the people in my life who have showed up for me in the most beautiful, kind and loving ways and to those humans there is no way I’ll ever be able to repay you for the love and support you’ve given me.
I’m grateful for the bright spurts of joy; like trips with friends, performing on the Lincoln stage for the first time, family shot Friday and the hilariously wonderful humans I work with.
But I can very easily say that I’m ready for a new year of life.
I’m ready for winter to be over.
I’m ready to open the door and be blinded a little bit by the sunshine.
I’m ready for you 37.
Please, be kind.