Honest, I choose champagne

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

I’ve been in Bellingham for two years this weekend.

That’s insane. I kind of can’t even fathom it. That I’ve been here for two years with all the ups and downs and tantrums (by myself and by toddlers). I’ve learned more here then I can articulate. 

The main thing being, I am very, very glad I have decided to the best of my ability to not just “get through” this season.

It was something I noticed being the two year old room. The two year olds were rough. I would find myself counting down the moments til nap and then the moments til three pm.

Trying to force yourself through moments, trying to just get through days is not a way to live.

There was a time in my life that I didn’t want to sleep at night because I didn’t want the sun to come up. I was working in a pretty hostile classroom and I was in an incredibly deep dark well of depression. I would stay up ‘til one or two in the morning just to have more hours in the day to myself.

If I slept then I would have to do all the things again. 

I remember hitting my breaking point, knowing that for myself and for those around me I could no longer just “fake it ‘til I make it”. Something had to give. I couldn’t just put my head down and try to get through.

It wasn’t working.

So, I made changes, I moved out the classroom, I started therapy, I went on antidepressants.

I tried to find joy again and I worked really hard to do so.

There are times, chunks of the last two years, when I know in my knower that I was sitting in a pit of depression. That I didn’t want to go to sleep at night because then the day would come again. 

And I would have to do all the things.

I’m thankful for the people around me who remind me to be present and for the tiny humans who demand it.

I don’t know what this third year in Bellingham holds and I don’t know how many years will follow it; but I’m going to choose, still, to the best of my ability to be present. I’m going to choose to try not to live of faking it ‘til I make it. 

I have parts of my life that I can say without out a doubt that I’m trying to get through. I’m pretty sure most of us would be lying if we said we weren’t trying to get through something.

A season in a city, a season of singleness, a season before marriage, a season of a job.

Days, weeks, months that we are so desperately trying to get past, to get to the next season.

But why?

Why do we deem these moments less important than the ones we are trying to get through? Who are we to decide what moments we can learn from?

If I allow myself, I can learn from everyday. I can learn from the tantrums and the laughter and moments when I feel less than myself. 

But the instance I put my mind in forward, the instance I decide that minute I want ahead of me is less important than the minute I am in, is the instant I decide that my present doesn’t matter

During one of my object lessons I did at camp a couple weeks ago I talked about how there is a plan and a purpose for our lives. There are big, awesome things ahead.

That’s hard to stomach sometimes.

More, is hard to stomach.

But, this minute you are in right now? The one in which you’ve decided to read this collection of words?  

This is a part of your more.

And so is the next and the next.

Let’s start with tomorrow. Let’s start with not getting through tomorrow, but for living every moment of it.

Let’s create joy and growth and hope and light.

So, when we get to the next day and the day after that, we won’t have moments lost in the abyss, but days we can build upon.

Let’s do the damn thing each and every day.

And when we need to- take a deep breath to our toes, and dive back in.

 

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

But first, celebrate.

About two months ago I had this outlandish idea. For my birthday, all I wanted to do was construct a big table, cook a bunch of food and combine all of my Bellingham friend groups.
Combining friend groups is tricky. Mixing and mingling between multiple groups of humans where, for the most part, you’re the only bridge.

that one time I combined multiple friend groups in the OC before I left the country.

Here in Bellingham I have those I’ve met at A Life and those I’ve met at the Y.

They are the both eclectic, diverse and weird groups of humans.

So, I found tables, asked people to bring chairs and (mostly) sparkly beverages. I bought 25 lbs of chicken. I borrowed crockpots and my neighbor’s kitchen space. My roommate decorated and I scrubbed our back porch with bleach.

And I cooked and chopped and sliced.

And then when people started showing up, I put them to work. 

I wish I had taken a picture, but I will have to settle for a mental image. Friends, from two different parts of my life, shredding chicken, cutting watermelon, mixing coleslaw, hauling chairs, setting up tables, sprinkling confetti. Friends who have spent time in my house separately, grabbing cups out of the cupboard and ice out of the freezer and knowing where the forks live.

At about 7:35, when all the food was out, when everyone had a beverage and was laughing and talking, I paused.

See, I was celebrating my birthday. That’s true.

But really, I was celebrating my people. My community.

I wanted to build a table, so that my people could bring some chairs to it and we could laugh and talk and eat.

It wasn’t perfect.

Everyone I wanted to be there couldn’t.

But there was no shame.

Only celebration.

My table, my heart and my life in that moment, was full.

The thing that I love about the people in my life, whether here, in Irvine, in Kingsburg, or scattered around the world is that when the time and the space happens where we can sit around a table it’s normally for one specific reason. 

To celebrate.

When I finally get to see people in my life that I never see, we don’t tend to jump straight into serious conversation. I spent an entire day sitting in silence with my friend Tiffany even though I hadn’t seen her for well over a year. She didn’t have the time to hang out and talk as she was studying for the GMAT, but I just wanted to be in her space.

Jess, my best friend of about twenty-eight years, and I, see each other so infrequently, but we always take time to laugh, reminisce and drink Dutch Brothers.

The crew of humans I will be seeing in about three weeks, I see most of them once a year. And we will spend a lot of our week at a table, eating bad camp food and being tired.

But we will show up and we will laugh. And celebrate. (And drink A LOT of coffee)

Community has become such a buzzword lately. It feels as if it’s binding. And serious.

But, it’s not.

There is a time and a place and a sacred circle. 

But we need to make time, more time, to celebrate. The more we choose to celebrate, the more foundation we have to stand on for those more serious hard moments.

The more we celebrate, the better position we are in to grieve with and console.

The more we sit and celebrate, the more space we have in someone else’s life.  

Community, establishing it, living in it, being a part of more then one, is gritty. Sometimes you only come to them once a year, sometimes once a week. Sometimes someone can’t come, but now, you just have an open seat.

I came to Bellingham to be a part of a church.


I got so much more.

I got so many more people then I could have even fathomed. 

When you make showing up your norm, when you meet people where they are, when you don’t shame the ones who aren’t capable of showing up, you clean out the clutter and you are left with celebration.

My birthday dinner taught me a lot of things: I am loved, I can cook for thirty people stateside, I am loved, I have hysterical friends, I am known and when you lead with celebration at the table, people will come to it.

Let’s build our lives on celebration and joy, so that when the dark and the hard and sad comes, we will have a foundation to sit with each other and the space to do so.

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

Bookmark the positive

I can tell you the month and the year (if not the date) of every tragic, hard thing that has happened in my life. I can tell you where I was, what I was doing. I can tell you the emotion I felt prior to the other shoe dropping.
I think that’s sad.
It is also slightly the world we live in.

Even in my job. I rarely hear amazing things before 8 in the morning. It’s mainly a run down of bad things, a run down of things that might make the day harder, a run down of things I did wrong yesterday, a rundown of who won’t be there.

We don’t stop for the positive.

Sure, we celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. We honor achievement. We lift up notable advancements.

But, what would happen if, as often as we said “that was a long week” or “today, was such a Thursday” if we also said, “Today was kick ass!”

If you haven’t noticed, for me, 2017 is about adding positive words in the atmosphere.

Because I sucked at it last year.

Now, I am not saying this is a rose-colored glasses situation. Because there will be hard days and long weeks and tragic moments and unspeakable things occurring in our world. I am not even saying to “find the positive”, even though that’s great.

I’m deciding, that when it’s a good day, I am going to say just that.

So….

Today was a great day.

The sun was shining, the kids were in great moods. We went on a long walk and made people smile. I didn’t get slapped. The kids slept for a long time. We took silly pictures while we made no bake cookies. I went and said hi to the smiley babies. I had a beautiful conversation with some grandparents who thanked me for taking care of their grand baby. I laughed in the office and was productive when I needed to be.

And then my work wife got off early and we got to hang out. And not just an out of exhaustion need someone to lean on but a happy, lighthearted afternoon.

Today was a great day.

And maybe, a year or two from now, I will see this post on my time hop and I will remember the feeling before the great day started. Maybe February 2nd will be this day I remember from now on.

Or maybe it won’t be.

And I know, that I will probably still bookmark the tragic. It will just happen. Because most tragic is also a remembrance of what was and what is about to be.

But, I do know, that I am going to make room for good days. I am going to make room in my life and in my vocabulary.

Let’s choose to bookmark the positive. To dogear that page so we can remember the feeling and the actual-not-from-exhaustion but joyful laughter.

Today was a good day.

I didn’t even have to use my AK.
PS and as a favor can we all please agree to let frozen go away and please play this song on repeat.

I choose champagne

2016: the last word pt2

Here goes nothing.

I just went back and read my words prior to 2016. And the final line of that blog was “here’s to a new year with space for all the things.”

I just wrote four or five lines on how this statement wasn’t true. But I deleted them because I realized that this year did indeed have all the things. Meaning there was space for them.

There just wasn’t space for anything else.

I wrote in part one how I cried a lot this year. Painful, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking sobs.

But, because most things in my life in one way or another relate back to tiny humans as this last week has been me in a state of exhaustion I began thinking about this fact that’s always in the back of brain especially in regards to the tiny humans that take a little bit more of my teacher Meg voice.

For every negative that is spoken over a human (no!, that wasn’t a good choice, redirecting, or even stepping into help with a direction) you need 5 positives to balance it out. And actually, at the end of the day most need ten. We have an average of about 20,000 interactions a day. And how many of those are positive or negative. 

This is where I feel we get hit.

This is where I feel I get hit.

Partly because if I’m being honest , I am not the first to speak positive things to myself. Not neccesarily that I speak negatively to myself, but I don’t counteract the outside world.

I also am not the greatest at receiving the words or big acts from people. 

It’s not like I had many people being mean to me left and right this year. But I had a lot of being second choice, I had people physically showing me they did not want to be in my life, I had a lot of the life around me telling me I wasn’t enough, or that I was needed not wanted and I had people that showed they didn’t respect the kids I loved so dearly to just show the eff up. (Ex. The dark times in T1. Shout out here to: Katy and Krys for always being there, Jamie for always being encouraging, elizabeth for looks through the window, Victoria for always showing up early and Patty for always having wine)

So, as I’ve come to the end of this year I feel I can say that this as a sum up of all the things:

2016 was a full fledge attack on my identity.

It was a year that told me time after time after time that I wasn’t enough, or good enough, or first choice, or wanted. It was a year that told me to just give up. It was year that tried to strip the joy away from things in my life that are good and lovely.

But you know what? There is something, deep ingrained in me, that tells me that the lovely and good are still there. And for as much as I will be the first to say that I battled things in this year that I thought were long passed-insecurities, and ghosts and anxiety I will also say but.

Because the people.

Because the people in my life had so many lovely, celebratory things happen in their life and they invited me along for the ride. Because the people in my life had hard, hard times and they invited me to grieve with them. Because the people in my life put their arm around my shoulder when I had no words for what I needed. Because for as many times as I told the people in my life that they weren’t crazy and it was ok they said the same thing back.

If this year has taught me anything or really reiterated a lesson I already knew, it’s that I do better, I’m more myself because of the people around me. 

And on the days when the lives of the people around me cause me to see what I’m lacking, I have to choose to remember that without them I’d be lacking and vice versa.

So yes, I have absolutely no problem saying this year will not go down as a favorite. 

But I will say that I learned to celebrate small things and REALLY celebrate the joyous beautiful things. 

I will say I learned to choose my battles. And to stand my ground.

I will say learned to say no (more than the year prior)

I will say I fell more deeply in love with the people in my life.

Because without them, what’s really the point?

So 2016, I bid you a gigantic peace out. I thank you for the tears from laughter, for the margaritas on Tuesday, the champagne on Sundays, for a dozen cheesecakes and tables teeming with people. 

But like, please let the door hit you on the way out.

2017, let’s choose champagne. 

Honest, I choose champagne

Not the last word pt1

We’ve reached the point in the end of the world/natural disaster/plane crash on a deserted island movie where the survivors are about to see the sunlight for the first time. They are bracing themselves. They know that the outside is still there because they can hear the wind and see scattered light in the midst of the caves of wreckage they find themselves under, but like what if there are zombies waiting, or people with huge guns, or worse: zombies with huge guns.

What if what’s outside the wreckage is just as bad as being piled under it?

Or as per Jamie…what if we can’t breathe out there?

Now, pardon my French, but for the most part, 2016 has been a shitshow.

And even though I almost feel like I can use a royal WE in this blog (which Patty knows I only ever use with permission) I won’t use it. I will say that there are people in my life who have been in the trenches with me in this year. People around me who the same year as I did. People who were exhausted all the time. People who shook their fist unable to figure it out.

I think I’ve cried more this year than I have ever cried. I ugly cried this year. I hurt in ways I didn’t think possible. I was gut wrenchingly lonely amidst some of the best people I’ve ever known. I battled depression so much that I collapsed on my bed most Fridays. I was numb by the end of each week, from busyness, heartache, loneliness, anxiety and sheer exhaustion.

The need to run was maybe the highest I’ve ever felt. It lit my nerves on fire. Wanting to leave these place, these people, this home of mine. Because it was staying. And it was hard.

I questioned most of my actions. I questioned my okayness. I questioned being a broken record. I questioned my fineness. I questioned people wanting to be around me.

And also, again, it bears repeating, I cried.

I sobbed in the office at work multiple times in the first half of the year (less the second half-not none, just less). I sobbed in front of Patty. I sobbed on the garage floor with Joanna and Patrick. I sobbed in silence on my bed more times than I want to admit. I cried tears for my aunt Ann. I sobbed in airports and in Tiffany’s car. I cried in restaurants and bars. I cried at church. I cried to Glenalyn as I walked through back roads of Bellingham. I cried at NMC after camp, regretting not buying contacts just so I could wear sunglasses.

I cried more tears than I ever have in my life.

Something in me was reacting to everything around me. Some force outside of myself was telling me to fold. To wave the white flag.

And sometimes I did. If I’m being honest, sometimes I didn’t show up when I knew I needed too or I left early when I just couldn’t take it. Sometimes I didn’t push through.

{and here it is folks}

BUT

There is a reason why this is a two part blog.

For every time I cried, I probably laughed.

Even it was from the absurdity of life or the horrors or that span of life in T1 where teacher Meg got off the grace train and never got back on.

For every time life tried to kick me in the face, there was a reason to celebrate, even if it was just getting through another week of ypocalypse or ya know, all the weddings and babies.

This year has been hell. It’s been pain. It’s been heartache.

But that’s not going to be my last sentence.

Part two is filed with the loveliness I wasn’t always able to see. Or I was too exhausted to talk about. Or was in the midst of planning

Part two gets the last word.

So, watch this space.

And find your own last word on the end of this chapter of your life.

I choose champagne, washington whimsy

people gathered

For the last few years, I’ve taken a moment to write some Christmas thoughts, to ponder, to wonder.Yesterday was full and lovely without a moment to sit and write.

And that was 100% ok with me.

Yesterday started before my alarm went off. I was cooking sausage and kneading dough before 9. I was sipping mimosas out of a coffee cup with people I am so grateful to have in my life before 10:30, I had sufficiently fed 8 people before noon and we had played a round of cards against humanity before 2.

By 5 I had spent an hour singing Christmas carols in preparation for Christmas Eve and baked and bagged 200 cookies. By 6:30 I was huddled in the snow with about thirty people singing Silent Night with candles lit. By 9 I was curled up on couches at my neighbors drinking and laughing and watching Star Wars for the first time.

And by midnight I was asleep.

Even now just writing it I have to smile.

Because if I am being honest, being a single adult, who lives away from her family, holidays feel tricky. You lack traditions you grew up with, you lack a person to share them with, you lack kids to buy presents for.

The holidays can very much give us a picture of what we lack. Money, spouses, gifts, love, kids. They can remind of us people who are no longer there. They can remind us of what we’ve lost.

They can do all of those things, unless we choose to not allow them too.

I could have been a recluse this weekend. I could have closed the kitchen, turned off the porch light, and not asked to join anyone, or anyone to join me. And that probably would have been ok.

But this morning, as I sat pondering my day yesterday, I thought of the manger.

Because the birth of a child brings people together. I remember when my niece Courtlyn was born. It caused something to change and shift. It brought people together. I’ve purchased two plane tickets this year to go see my sweet baby Choi.

The birth of Jesus did the same thing.

If Jesus would have come as a full grown man, it probably would have just been weird. Like, out of nowhere this 30 year old just appears. And people might not have noticed. He might have just blended in.

But he came as a baby.

So people gathered.

And they continue to do so. Even people who don’t believe a baby came, people who celebrate different holidays during this time, they all gather.

I think there were so many lovely things about Jesus coming as a baby. So many beautiful, unique stories that spun off of that singular moment. But, as I ponder yesterday and think forward to later today, I believe that I have found a new favorite angle to the story of baby Jesus in the manger.

It caused people to gather.

I pray you have someone to gather towards today, I send love and light if you’ve lost people that you’ve normally gathered too. I pray you find a piece of them today. If you have an abundance of people to gather with, pull up another chair and invite someone in.

Let us gather together.

Happy Christmas my friends.

IMG_6323.JPG
Photo by jessica drake
Honest, I choose champagne, washington whimsy

What if I can’t be thankful?

I’ve been trying really hard to be thankful.

I am person who can generally jump into gratitude. I am thankful I have a job that I mostly love, I have a roof over my head, clean water, food, and people in my life. 

But these days being thankful for 2016 is not natural. 

I feel like I’ve been making my own luck these days, making my own story whimsy and beautiful and I’ve gotten tired. 

I’m thankful I’m someone who finds beauty in creating a beautiful meal for myself, or writing a note to someone or popping open a bottle of champagne.

As I wrote a week or so ago, I’m wanting to go into the new year actively choosing champagne. Actively choosing beauty.

But, if I’m being a little honest, I have some trepidation.

I’ve speaking a lot about changing my perspective, changing the way I see things, choosing champagne and buying my own damn kitchen aid. 

But what if I can’t?

What if 2017 is filled again with tears and loneliness and long weeks and tiredness and I find myself unable to push through? 

What if I can no longer be thankful for the little things?

What if I still want to run?

Choosing for yourself to see beauty, to have gratefulness, to choose hope daily amidst everything else in life is exhausting.

The weariness of this year is like the fingerprints on the glass doors in my classroom, it never quite goes away, and right when the fingerprints are scrubbed off 14 pairs of hands rush the door again.

This has been a different kind of year. I’ve had years that have caused me to question my life, my faith, my choices.

Ironically, when I reached a point where I felt like I knew who I was the most, this year has caused me to question the things that make up who I am.

And that has caused me to be weary.

I am thankful for parts of this year. I’m thankful for my roommate, for my friends, for the yellow house, for my job, for my church, for baby Choi, for plane tickets and Facetime and tears caught by people I trust on a cement floor in a garage.

I’m ready for the new year, excited by it and hopeful–because those are buried deeply in me, no matter what has happened to me. They’ve been question this year. I’ve pondered if it’s worth having those defaults. If they have gotten me anywhere.

In the midst of writing this blog my beautiful friend Katarina text me on of her favorite quotes:

That’s where I am with only a few weeks left in 2016. I know eventually down the road I will be thankful for what this year held as a whole, but right now I’m choosing to not be.

And I think that’s ok.