Honest, hope is a verb

To just BE (#7)

I had the realization as I was getting ready to come write that this would be my last silent Sunday in the bar as a 32 year old. I’m going to be on a plane next Sunday and then the Friday after that is my birthday.

It’s a bit overwhelming of a feeling for me. I have this wonderful middle of the year birthday. Almost like a new year in the middle of a year. I have a chance to hit refresh and pause and take a deep breath before I dive in to the crazy busy of summer and what feels like a fast forward on an already fast forwarded life.

But, that’s the ahead. Let’s look back instead.

I got a tattoo last week.

I wasn’t planning on it, it was a fleeting thought I mentioned to Victoria on Tuesday. So then, on Wednesday after work I text my roommate Patty and asked her to draw “be” for me. And an hour and 11 little sketches later, I was sitting in the chair at a tattoo parlor.

I am currently reading “Come Matter Here”. It’s a book by the lovely Hannah Brencher and it comes out on May 29. But, as I have been reading this book, I’ve had moments where I’ve thrown the book on the ground, where I have told it to shut up and where I have just started sobbing.

I’ve been reading Hannah’s blog for the last 3 years or so. I read her Monday morning emails as I fill bleach bottles and sort laundry at work. I know her words.

Her words, quite often have been mine.

She writes in “Come Matter Here” about getting a tattoo in the midst of a debilitating season of depression. She gets the word “stay”. Not necessarily in the moment to stay in a place. But to stay in the fight, stay in the struggle.

And as I read those words mere hours after mentioning the word “Be” to Victoria my brain started moving.

To “be” has been incredibly hard for me lately. To BE myself. To BE at peace. To BE present. To BE loved.

And of course, to BE with God.

This past season of my life in regards to God has been one of the most draining that I’ve ever walked through, solely because, I chose to still show up. I still chose to (for the most part) show up and be in the places that felt the most dangerously close to where God was.

I kept and keep showing up even when I don’t believe God himself is showing up.

“I am learning that God doesn’t bring us places to meet our expectations. For him, it’s a lot more about the transformation. He loves who we are, but he will never pass up on the chance to use life events to make us better.”

Come Matter Here*Hannah Brencher*pg71

This last stretch of time, this current moment I am in, has been about choosing to BE. In however that may look. And for me that choice is showing up and choosing to bring who I am to the table.

Because, my last in this list of meanings for a two letter word is this: BE at the table.

This past year I’ve wanted to run. Run fast away from the things inside of me, from the abilities and the pieces that I know I bring to the table, because it was too much.

Because as much as I preach that you have the thing that someone else needs, the responsibility inside of me felt daunting when my inability to believe was shaken.

To BE part of the puzzle was too much, too heavy.

I know, that I don’t have to be all the things. But, the energy to even be some of them was weighing down everything inside of me.

To be known, to be at the table.

To be noticed.

To take up space.

To be loved.

Now, doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?

That I have to coach myself into being ok with being known?

Being known, being seen and being present in that is horrendously scary.

But, as I have been told by multiple people in my life- it’s also my reality.

I am a human who is known. (Even when I think I am really good at not being known)

I am timid to write more declarations about choosing to BE in the year of 33.

But, what I think I can say is this:

I’m learned this year that in the places that I have MOST wanted to run from, the places where I’ve wanted to slip out before the end, the places where I didn’t want to participate or share or give, were in fact the places that I needed to BE the most.

I don’t know what my choice to be will bring me this year.

I just know, believe, choose to remember that the choice to be will bring more to myself than I was yesterday.

As always, deep breathes to the toes my friends.

Let’s be.

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.

Honest

I haven’t always been this whole.

I’ve been talking a lot these days about being whole. I speak to my wholeness on an almost daily basis. 

Most of the time it’s easy. 
But also, there are times when it’s not.

There are times when it’s easier to cry or run or let whatever is pounding at the door come in. 

I am grateful though, that the easy outweighs the hard these day

I haven’t always been this whole.

Even now, speaking out about the non-wholeness that used to infiltrate my being is tricky. 

Somewhere in my life a very simple sentence spurred its way into my thinking, thought life and being:

Don’t take up space.

This translated out into my life in so many ways: always be helpful, don’t be a burden, don’t have people be mad at you, be quiet.

Don’t take up space.

This thought from somewhere in my life colored everything. My interactions with friends, bosses, family, coworkers. It spiraled me into serious depression, burn out and thoughts of suicide.

Those four words crushed my spirit and almost killed me.

I didn’t necessarily know how to deal with them. I sat in therapy for almost four years, was on and off antidepressants. I stopped smiling, stopped living, I didn’t know who I was. 

And I wasn’t going to make what I was going through anyone else’s problem.

How wrong I was.

There’s a saying that says “it takes a village to raise a child”—but what happens when that child is raised?

Does the village leave?

Does the village throw you into the forest to fend for yourself?

No, the village becomes community. 

And we raise each other into the humans we were meant to be.

I lived a lot of my life working my hardest to not take up space. And then four years ago I chose to do this crazy thing called the world race where getting packed like sardines into a bus or in a stable or taxi cab was a norm and I physically couldn’t help taking up space.

me and the se(a)rahs literally on top of me.

I couldn’t be alone at all. Like physically we weren’t allowed to. For 11 months. And community becomes a mirror. You begin to see yourself in others. I was with the same women for most of the race. And you being to learn that who you are effects others. And if you aren’t living in your whole self, it actually makes it pretty damn hard for someone else to live in their whole self.

So, I tucked that knowledge in my pocket, stamped myself as complete and went on my merry way.

the humans with whom i spent most everyday of 2013

Then, I went to Spain, kicking and screaming, and was shoved into a huge room and told to fill the space (not literally, that’d be weird).

But, what I learned in Spain was that I was fully capable of filling that space. Easily.  
That’s terrifying. 

I’m really great at looking like I’m filling a space. I’m great at being who I am. I’m pretty awesome at my job. I’m great at communication. 

I’m excellent at being the center of attention, when it’s my choice.

I’ve come to realize though it’s not necessarily my choice.

he is the word, i am the voice, i’ve got something to say and i’m going to say it.

I’ve come to realize that me filling a space is a part of who I am. I’m not meant to be a background person, I’m not meant to be alone. I’m not meant to give up my space for someone who isn’t as great at taking their own. But a part of who I am is helping them find their seat. A wise Yoda once told me to never diminish myself. 

And that’s not just for my benefit.

A part of my wholeness is the community that surrounds me. A part of my wholeness is me taking up the space at the table that I was meant too. 

That goes for you too. 

We need you at the table. 

You don’t have to be whole. 

You don’t have to know who you are.

We can help.

Lesson one:

You, my friend, were meant to take up space.