Places Unknown

Our Advent sermon series at church this year is “Unexpected”. Today’s subject was Unexpected Places. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see God working in our lives. Other times we face those “small world” moments. It made me think of how I came to work at SCC/Tapestry to begin with–my dad found the posting in the print newspaper Classifieds. I kid you not. Unexpected place–uh, yeah. But that’s how God works.

I’m excited to see what the rest of this sermon series holds. Having a new boss has brought new energy and ideas and conversations. It’s like a breath of fresh air Things feel good, and right, and there is lots of joie de vivre floating around. It’s a reminder that life is full of unknowns. That often means you have to take a leap of faith, or many. Thank goodness for the leaps that got to this place, this point in time.

I follow the poet Morgan Harper Nichols. She posted the below earlier today and it resonated with me. It’s wonderful to feel like others get it.

And so today, I choose to embrace the journey–this journey. And that brings me peace.

The Once and Future Carpenter

My life is led by poems, quotes, and song lyrics. As a creative, I identify with an array of artistry. Just one of those is the written or spoken word. Hence, this blog is very cathartic for me. I often think “this platform is for me, but if it speaks to someone else, that’s just a secondary positive outcome”.

Today is a hard day. A day sure to be filled with the gamut of emotions. Mom’s birthday is a wonderful day of remembrance–of all the things she was (is), of what she taught me (us), of her interactions and relationships with others.

It’s our third thanksgiving celebrating without mom. One while she was in hospice, two after she passed. That first year was the worst–but we had our family all together. The next two we graciously accepted the invitation of some of our dearest friends, family really. But this year is different. Mom’s birthday is Thanksgiving. It’s happened a handful of times over the years. So we come together as a family again this year. Part of me is sad not to be with our friends this year–but I know that this is what we all needed (in different ways).

There are many things to be thankful for this year. For biological family. For chosen family. For the growth 2019 has brought me. For actually feeling like an adult some days. This year has brought lots of realizations about who I am, who I want to be, and directions for the future. It’s brought new dreams, new connections, and new learnings. And I am thankful for all of it.

Mostly today I’m thankful for supportive and understanding people in my life. For those who reach out. For those who might not fully understand but still keep showing up. For those who don’t let the little things go unseen.

I miss you, Mama. Forever on my mind and in my heart. And though I said things to reassure you as you neared the end, as we spend time with Sweeps this week I get teary thinking of the things that you’ll not be here to enjoy with us. And that’s tough.

And so I’ll leave it with these lyrics. Today they feel all too real, and close to my heart. I love the Avett Brothers–today and most days.

Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black cloak drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die

Family and “Family”

I’m a firm believer in making your own family–whether by blood, marriage, or friendship. There are just people you gel with, who’ve seen you at your best and worst, who know you to your core. These are the relationships I love and hold dear.

Today we got to spend the afternoon with two of our nearest and dearests. Time with them is always worthwhile, even when we are sitting in silence, watching the dogs in the yard, or cooing over Sweeps. They know my heartaches. I know theirs. They know my joys and dreams. And though not quite the same, I know some of theirs. We identify with each other over nerdy fathers, strong mothers, and the odd-ball choices our families make. We gossip. We play games. We make believe (more so when we were kids than we do now). We craft (boy, do we craft).

I am thankful always for people who knew Mom before she was sick–pre2016 really. But I’m especially thankful for the relationship that one of these two had with our Mama. Their own friendship and mentorship. I’m thankful for the way Mom accepted and loved both of them. And they way we all laughed and smiled and enjoyed time together. It makes me remember how much my heart longs for time together–it’s one of my top love languages. And when there are those you can’t spend time with physically any longer, it’s relieving to share stories and memories with those who knew them, no matter the stage.

A Very Happy “Un-Thanksgiving”

I have always loved holidays. Mostly, I think, because of the family time, traditions, and gobs of together time. I’ve realized this week that I am relishing the unique and non-traditional things about holidays now. Foods that are atypical. Activities that are a little off-kilter. This is what I thrive on now. But the family time (in the right amount of doses) and the chosen family time (when possible) is still essential. I am thankful for our time with family this week. And I am thankful for being together during a time with heightened emotions. I don’t want to do what we’ve always done anymore. Because with someone missing it isn’t the same and the tradition is lost and it feels flat, so to speak. And so we take on new holiday directives and experiences and surround ourselves with warmth, and light, and the people we love. And that makes me very, very thankful.

Through These Eyes

November is a heavy month. We roll into winter, often sooner than I’d like. The sky greys, the time changes, and everything seems to be starting its slumber. But the last few years I’ve been hyper aware in November. Watching for the Facebook memories to tick through some of the most grueling moments in my life thus far. Ticking through the moments of joy and celebration as well. An endless emotional roller coaster.

This year I realized I haven’t really been paying attention. I’ve been busy with school, and work, and working out, and trying to get my head on straight about all of the changes around me in different areas of my life. I haven’t been cognizant of my emotions or memories. I don’t feel like I’ve stuffed them down, but I definitively haven’t kept them at the forefront like I usually do. Not sure that is good or bad–it just is.

But earlier this week I was reminded about the anniversary of the passing of a dear family friend and it jolted me into my typical “November habits”. I texted Shelly one morning to let her know I was in a heightened emotional state (we have a “crying pact”). And I did some remembering of this family friend in hopes of sharing some solace with her daughter, which lead to this:

But I still hadn’t gotten to the point of fully embracing November. This year mom’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving. It happens every so often. So we will be together as a family. And a month or so ago I texted a handful of people and asked them to specifically reach out to me next week because I’d surely struggle (thankfully I have an even smaller handful that would/will do this without me asking). But last night I knew I wasn’t giving myself what I needed. I offered to do dinner with people in my cohort–most were unavailable or bailed at the last minute (totally okay). And I felt relieved, because I could just take time for me. I did. I went to the gym. Got tea for a friend and had a quick catch up. And went home and vegged on the couch with Shelly (who I’ve barely seen all week).

But I was reminded that I need to notice my emotions and the time of year. I need to consciously not forget. I woke up at 4am this morning. And I knew. I could feel my brain acting like a fly swatter saying, “alright, I get it. I see you. I feel you. I. Get. It.” Not terse, but tired. And so I start the remembering. Because she’s too important to forget. Because I’m fueled by emotions (the ups and the downs). Because I fully intend to be the same kind of spirit that tugs on sleeves, and wakes people during the witching hour, and refuses to be silenced. Because this is her time.

I see you.

The Gossamer Veil

I’ve always had a curiosity in things of the occult–before you freak out, let’s break that down a little. “Occult” comes from roots of Latin meaning “secret” or “hidden”. In ancient times the occult weren’t things that were feared or hush hush as it’s seen oftentimes today. Ancient religions and spirituality was strongly intertwined with things recognized as “occult”. And honestly, many religions have threads of the occult woven into their own practices as well. Those interweavings peak my interest. It’s maybe also why I love fantasy and fairytales so much.

All Hallows’ Eve is a holiday closely associated with the occult. It’s one of the many pagan celebrations that has come into modern tradition, and modern religion. All Hallows’ Eve is also back-to-back with All Saints’ Day in Christian tradition (only one form of back-to-back Christian and pagan/occult connections). Both holidays deal with spirits/those who have passed on. It’s often talked about the thinness between the human realm and the spiritual realm in the days bookending Halloween. I never thought about this much–not until I experienced great loss of my own.

I like to think of the thinness as a gossamer veil–it seems delicate and fragile and weightless. I’m not sure how people generally experience this time–I’ve seen many-a movie or television show that mentions it in some form (whether in passing or as a “knowledgeable” source). To me, it’s a reminder that there is much about the spiritual word that is secret, or hidden. There is much we don’t know–that dependent on your beliefs we may never know. But it fascinates me the traditions that we hold to make sense of loss and grief. It fascinates me the way we pay homage to or commune with those who have passed on. In whatever way, it’s a reminder that they never really leave us.

Real talk

Sometimes you read things for class and you just feel it in your bones. this. This. THIS. Thankful for my friends who allow this mutual give and take–CBIT, CEDMM, AMB, SLB, CSL, EJH, ALBW. Beyond words.

Your Feet’s Too Big

I wrote this last night but didn’t want to post it back to back, so I’m posting now:

There are times that you just need to rest. Things begin to feel like too much. You just need to breathe. First, it’s okay to admit the need to slow down, recenter, clear your head, and disengage. Second, it’s important to identify what is yours and what isn’t.

When I don’t do a good job of checks and balances, it’s easy for my HSP heart and mind to get overstimulated. I value being present for my friends and family–but sometimes I take in too much of their emotions (oftentimes unintentionally). So I have to process and set aside what aren’t actually my emotions. I just finished a book about empaths and that’s something it suggested–to know your boundaries and be clear about what is yours and what isn’t. Tonight I felt feelings that weren’t mine, in processing through a loss and grief of a friend. It sat heavy. But I had to remember that I can show up for her without taking on her feelings–and in the long run that is better for the both of us. And this doesn’t make my presence and my support any less.

I also felt plenty of my own feelings today. Responses and gut checks associated with a specific situation that has been repeatedly brought to light over the last two weeks. Sometimes there are feelings or situations we’d rather not have to recall. But we don’t always get to control that. And so it’s good to have mechanisms in place to guide us through those times. For me that means owning what I’m feeling, and sharing with a very small group about those feelings. Vulnerability is important. And having people you trust to share with is also key.

These paired together made the evening feel heavy. It makes sleep look really great. It makes the start of something new tomorrow–a new day–feel promising and exciting. Some moments can feel like too much. Recognize it, embrace it, and then work through it and get to the other side (whatever that looks like for you). Take care of yourself. Listen to what you are feeling. And don’t be afraid to be selfish and stubborn and protect your own needs.

She Speaks…

You’ve always been early, so it doesn’t surprise me when I wake ten minutes before our witching hour. 3:50 a.m. and my instinct tells me there is something you are trying to say, though I’m sure J don’t always get it right. Advice wasn’t like this before–I wasn’t really one to ask for it, and generally you didn’t just dole it out either. But things are different now, and I think all too often about what you’d say in certain circumstances or how you’d react to what’s happening in my life (really in any of our lives). You are speaking and I know there is something I need to hear.

Maybe it’s your reaction to the wonderful chaos of the last ten days, maybe you’re screaming your presence with us as we prepare for family photos, maybe you are reminding us that not everyone was raised like we were and it is okay to set our own boundaries as we need them.

Maybe it’s a reminder to be fierce in the face of adversity, to show grit and not back down when things feel uncomfortable or a little bit off, to allow ourselves to shed our skin when words and phrases make every part of that skin crawl.

Perhaps you are telling me to be patient (though that lesson usually comes from dad). Are you softly saying that I need to start sharing more of what I know so others don’t feel left out or left behind? I know your thankful for the time we created with two of your dearest friends–who both think of you often and might miss you as much as I do.

It’s a reminder of your pride for each of us. For our academic pursuits and other accomplishments. For the way we hold onto and hold each other up. It’s a recognition of your love for Sweeps and the joy he brings to us all. It the reassurance in the moments that I doubt and worry–about who you won’t meet or what you won’t see–that in fact you will and you do. Just like I reassured you. Your presence is here in large and small ways–and sometimes I just need that reminder to see, to feel, to listen, to know.

Don’t Forget to Stretch

I’ve been running three times a week. It’s a good practice to get back into, my body feels better when it is moving, but boy is it rough some days. I was commiserating with a friend the other day about how my legs hurt (okay, I ran two days back to back). Their words of advice, “don’t forget to stretch”. I hadn’t really thought about that any more until today when I watched my sister stretch before she went for her run this morning. How often in our lives do we forget to stretch?

One of my dear college friends gifted me a book several months ago. She recognized all the work I’ve done on and for me in the last year. (Boy, does it feel good when people actually see me and get it). I’ve started reading it and spent some time with it this morning as I sipped my coffee. One theme, you don’t need much to take the plunge and be brave. But you do need some framework–you can stretch yourself into it. You can do it, with passion and drive. Don’t forget to stretch yourself.