Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Take my heart with you.

I’ve lived a lot of years of safety. Seconds and minutes and hours and days and months and years of breathing easily without that catch in the chest. I love hard and I love well when I know the cushion is there to catch me. How does one teach himself to take risks? How much self-protection is too much? I don’t want to look back and see life that wasn’t lived simply because my eyes were closed too tightly to allow any light to get in. Fuck safety and the crossing of arms to prevent anything getting close enough to touch. I want to love extravagantly and not only when it will be returned. I want to take risks of having my heart broken because then at the very least, it’s serving the purpose it was created for. I want to be seen for all my flaws and strengths and laughter. I crave connection. Deep breaths taken together, water lapping at my feet, lyrics that level and anger and demand response. Eye contact. See me. I put it in a box once and I gave it away and it wasn’t enough, so I left it in that box. Days and months and years of forced suffocation simply because it was safe. With a deep breath I start to open the box and let a little light in. Reminding myself it’s worth it, to trust, to connect, to hurt. My eyes are open. My arms are at my sides. Please take my heart with you. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Life as a House

I spent the last week siding a house. Not my house, or someone I know, but a woman in New Orleans I met for just a few minutes in passing. It’s fascinating to me the way that God reveals himself when you step outside of your comfort zone and do something that you never would’ve pictured yourself doing. Like siding a house. 

My job for the most part is sitting at a desk. I get to be creative and I get to be organized, but rarely does my job entail anything more physical than typing or thinking. That’s a large part of why the Habitat trip to New Orleans was so appealing to me. It often takes getting out of one’s comfort zone and doing something completely out of the norm to make more room for God to show up.

Somewhere in the last few years, due to life circumstances and my own shortcomings, I’ve allowed myself to become such a muted version of the person I was created to be. If I didn’t know the person well that I was spending time with, I felt like in every conversation I was shrouded in gray. It was such a slow change, I didn’t notice it until I found myself uncomfortable in most social situations. I knew that I was missing out on life connections that could be incredible, but I couldn’t find a way to shake it. I felt myself shying away from speaking up, and I would leave conversations knowing that the other person knew nothing more of me than I was “nice.” As someone who strives to be transparent, and vulnerable even when it’s hard and I hate it, and embraces who I am, all the quirky traits that make me- me, this felt like a failure. 

Going into this trip, my biggest prayer was that I would be able to shake the gray, that I would be the me that I am to those in my life I feel safest with and that I would see God. And I did. I saw him in more laughter than I’ve experienced in months. I saw him in the hands that worked beside mine and in the love of people I’d never met, appreciating me for simply being me. And as the week wound down, I realized it was going to be hard to finish the side of the house I’d been working on. As Friday continued on, I felt a sort of quiet desperation settle in. All I wanted to do was see this wall completed. I had hammered hundreds of nails here, and I wanted to be the one to put the final pieces up. As we continued working and I realized it was going to come down to the wire, I felt myself becoming more and more determined and panicked to see the finish. Another person from the work site recognized it, without me saying a word, and came around to help us finish. He was the one that realized due to an error in framing, there was a stud we weren’t going to be able to side around. When he tried, the siding cracked in half. This meant, 3 pieces of siding to go, the wall wasn’t going to be finished by us because we simply didn’t have time to fix the framing error. I found myself fighting back tears at the thought that it wasn’t going to be completed by me. And the whole time I was having this inner battle with myself over why I was so passionate about seeing it through. It was just a wall of a house. But it wasn’t until days later, upon returning home, that I realized why I reacted the way that I did. There are several areas of my life that I find myself living in quiet desperation to see the culmination of, the next step, the ending that I’ve been praying for so long to see. And over the last several months, I’ve felt myself resigning myself so many times to simply feeling lost. I don’t understand why areas of my life look the way that they do, when I so desperately wish and pray for them to be different. I realized though in this act of siding a house, that sometimes it’s just not ready. No matter how hard I work, or pray, it may not be time. There are some things I pray for that I may never get to see to fruition. They may not come in my lifetime. There are other areas that feel like God is clearly saying, just breathe. You can’t force this. You don’t want it to crack. You want it to last. You want it to weather what is to come. At the end of the day, the simple act of siding a house gave me peace, and hope and helped me find myself again. 

What a beautiful, and unexpected, gift. 

 “You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don't even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don't even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me.”
                                                                                               ~ Life as a House

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm an optimistic person. 99% of the time you can count on me to tell you the glass is half full and just wait until tomorrow when things look differently. But occasionally if I'm being honest, that's not really how I feel. Today is one of those days. Not in one of those "I'm really depressed." sorts of ways. More so it's the realization that life doesn't look like I want it to look today. Sometimes you just have to face that one head on and admit that it really kind of sucks. Today, it just sucks.

You know what hope is?
Hope is a bastard;
Hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease.
Hope comes near you;
Kick it's backside.
Got no place in days like these.

~Ben Folds & Nick Hornby (Picture Window)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Be Careful With Me

I love people. For as long as I can remember, that’s who I’ve been. I make friends easily and I keep them. They’re important to me and I let people know. I’ve gone through periods of time where I was too social. I typically wouldn’t recognize it for a few weeks when suddenly I’d realize I was exhausted. I wasn’t even giving myself time to breathe before I’d be making more plans. I was afraid to just stop and be with my thoughts. I know that I was trying to outrun those thoughts that come when I would be by myself. I found self-worth in the people who loved me. I found self-worth in knowing that I loved people well. Then the last three years happened. The last three years brought a lot of pain. There were brief moments of joy in the midst of all that pain, but there were definitely periods of time where the pain blocked out so much of the sun. There were heart attacks. There was cancer and mental illness. There was a move away from the people I loved most in the world. There were broken marriages. There were months on crutches. There were degenerative diseases. There was rehab. There was distance. There was pain. There were weeks of the hospital food and fold out beds and hours and hours spent in my car driving. There was death. I want to be on the other side of all of that. And there are moments when I feel like I am. And then there’s tonight. I find the effort to be pretty damn exhausting. I know that I need to be available. I know that I need to be social. I know that right now in my life I need to be seeking community. But I’ll be honest, I’d rather just be alone. I’d rather spend the day reading a book in the sunshine of my living room. I’d rather spend hours among paper and songs and silence. This is the me that I don’t really quite know how to deal with.-this sudden turn around to being an introvert. The me who finds that if you’re going to ask me to explain myself or do anything more than just breathe, I just don’t want to even begin. I long for community. I long for relationship. But somehow the thought of the work that’s involved there just seems too much. I find myself justifying an entire weekend where I don’t spend time with a single person. I tell myself it’s healthy to enjoy time by myself. That this is the grown up Liz. But is it? Is it me adjusting to what life looks like as a single 30-something whose family and closest friends are hours away? Or is it me afraid to try- afraid to love anyone else when I know that’s opening the door for more pain? I know that you can’t have love without pain. You can’t be vulnerable without risk. And in my head, I know that it’s worth it. I look at the people that I love and I know. But right now my heart is just really, really tired. This version of me- I just don’t where to begin.

Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me.
p. griffin

Monday, January 24, 2011

I had someone ask today what dream I most look forward to coming true in my life. I really had to stop and think about it for a while. I guess it must be a sign that I’m growing up when I don’t think of my dreams as much as I used to. Or maybe it’s just a sign that I’m really happy and fulfilled. I’d like to think it’s the second of the two but sometimes I worry that maybe I don’t dream as often as I used to for fear that if it doesn’t come true, the disappointment is worse. If I’m honest at this point in my life I really only have one “dream” and that is to eventually get married. I’m not someone who talks about my singleness often because I don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype of the single girl in her 30’s who feels incomplete without someone to spend her life with. To be completely honest, I think my life is a lot more fulfilled than it ever would’ve been had I gotten married younger like I always assumed I would. My relationships are stronger, my independence is healthier and also there’s that awesome cat I have. (Really everyone’s life would be a little more complete if they had a little Helena in their lives.)

I guess my question is though, at what age does one stop dreaming? Especially about those things so out of our control. Or is that something we should never outgrow? I lean towards never outgrowing it, but there’s such a fine line between too many dreams and too little reality. And vice versa I suppose.

Can someone take a year long break from blogging and then just come back and pretend like they never stopped? I think that’s easier than making excuses for why I didn’t write. Sometimes it’s a lot to just live our stories and it’s too painful at times to talk about them. 2009 was that year. Sometimes brokenness calls for change so I changed. Jobs and apartments and state lines. 2010 didn’t start out much better, but I guess somehow I was. Better I mean. Or more realistic about life. When it comes down to it the one thing I’ve realized about myself more than anything else is that my story is to simply love. Whether that’s loving through others ‘ joy or pain, or cancer or loss, or peace or laughter, I want my love to fill in all the spaces and all the air that I can’t fill with words. I guess that’s a dream I’m ok with keeping around.

And Helena. I think I’ll keep her around too.

Monday, November 09, 2009

2 Steps Away

There was a routine on last week’s So You Think You Can Dance about a girl and her fear. I finally had a chance to watch it tonight and when I say I watched it, I mean I watched it over and over and over again. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long long time. And it totally spoke to me. I have an incredible fear of being alone. There’s an element of that that is so incredibly ridiculous because my life is filled with people that I love, that love me. But I still fear being alone. I think that’s part of why I made the move I just did. I guess I just want to embrace that fear. Pretending it’s not there hasn’t really done a lot of good when it comes to healing, so I decided to face it head on. Some days, it’s really really hard. This last week especially. I found myself on several occasions worrying that I was going to fail in this job, that I won’t ever find a place that I really fit in here, that maybe I’m just not strong enough to do this. Really that I’m just crazy to move away from the people who love me most in my life and start again.

The song that was used with the routine about fear talks about being two steps away from loneliness. That resonated with me on so many levels. Right now with this move I think I’m walking a bit of a tightrope. I don’t want to fall into the loneliness that’s below, but at the same time I’m not sure the journey is going to be complete if I don’t fall off a couple times before I make it across.

Life is hard. This past year has been really really hard. I’ve found myself missing my friend that I lost in May almost as much this last month as I did when we first lost him. I’ve seen people that I had to look twice because for a split second I thought it was him. He’s been in my dreams and I still can’t even get myself to delete his number out of my phone. Isn’t that crazy? Grief is a lot like fear in that. It’s completely irrational. You can pretend it’s not there and some days you don’t even notice it. Then one day you wake up and it’s so thick it’s like a spiderweb that you can’t seem to brush away no matter how hard you try. I think part of me is just starting to wake up again. I’d allowed myself to become a bit numb with life in the last year. I think a lot of that was a form of self-protection. Sometimes life is just hard to process. I think it’s been a while since I really tried. For the last year I’ve been going through the motions because some days that’s all I could ask myself to do. I know that God won’t give us more than we can handle but the past 11 months have been rough. It was the hardest year that I’ve ever dealt with and I fear- there it is again- that this past year is just life- it’s the way life works. It’s the way life is.

But I need to learn to love through that. I need to learn that Joseph is not the only person I loved that I will lose. Losing him doesn’t make the loving him any less worth it. It just made it that much more real. I need to learn that our family is sometimes all we have and this past year helped remind me that I don’t have to be related to someone to be their family. I need to learn that I can succeed in this new place I’m in. It might not look like what I think it will but that doesn’t mean it’s not successful. More than anything else though I need to keep learning that life is fragile and tenuous and hard and that maybe we’re all two steps away from loneliness. It’s worth it though. It’s so totally worth it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So I guess now is as good of a time as any to admit to being a closeted control freak.

With a new job comes that moment or moments as I seem to be having many of them, when you realize that you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at the exact right moment. I really loved my job. Really. I loved the people I worked with. I loved the people that I talked to on an everyday basis. I loved having a job where I felt like I was making people’s lives better by what I was sharing with them. I loved getting up and going into work in the morning, even when I knew that it was going to be a day when I could never possibly get everything done. As I’m going on month 2 in this new position, I’m also discovering something else I really loved about my position. I loved being in control. This is a strange discovery for me. I have never thought of myself as a control freak or really even someone who enjoyed being in charge. Apparently I hid these qualities so well, I even overlooked them in myself. When I was in my old position, I set up and executed every step. Doing so ensured that the level of quality was where I wanted it to be as well. If it wasn’t good enough, the only person to blame was myself and I had to recognize that and fix it. It’s just not quite that simple in this new job. I think one of the biggest lessons I’m going to learn in PR is that you’re never in control. Even when you feel like you’re in control, there are a million things going on along the sidelines that could totally derail where you were planning to go.

I don’t think that this discovery in myself and this change of career at this point in my life is by chance. Really I don’t often think things happen by chance. I think our decisions are constantly shaping where we’re going to end up. I think more than anything else, at this point in my life, I need to realize I’m not in control. I need to stop trying to be in control. I need to just let life happen around me. My views on God have changed a lot in the last several years. The way I love people has changed, the way I view the “church” has changed, the way I view Jesus has changed. The one thing I’ve tried hard not to change is my desire to not control the important things in my life. The more control I’ve tried to impose on life around me, the more I seem to get lost in the details. Not that the details don’t matter. They matter a lot, but all I can do is my part and then learn how to adapt to how my part changes and shifts into something else. That’s what I want my life to look like. The difficult part is getting there. I guess it’s no coincidence that the getting there is actually the most important part.