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.

S.O.S.

When I was little I always wanted a little brother. I can remember dreaming of it, and mentioning it to my parents, and I even remember their side glances that I didn’t understand (that actually read as “sorry kiddo, not physically possible”). I thought it would be wonderful because all of our initials were alphabetical and so he could be “SOS”. But as I got older I realized it wasn’t in the cards.

My first year at camp at my now job, for some reason my name got jumbled on the sign-in sheet. My last name got superseded by the surname below me alphabetically. And so it became a joke that I was a part of that family. They had two boys who were in my youth groups. And they became my “brothers”. At the end of the week we even took a “family” picture together (I’m sure much to the enjoyment of me and the mom, and the chagrin of the boys). But whenever I see those two (no longer) boys, I get a wonderful sense of pride. They aren’t actually my brothers, but it makes my heart swell.

Friends and I talked about going to get drinks at a local brewery where one of my “brothers” works. I immediately texted him to see when he works and found that his schedule wasn’t necessarily ideal, and then he said something that tugged on my heartstrings, “if I’m free I can meet you there”. It’s the little things, am I right? He’d spend his time off hanging out with me at his place of employment? Well that’s just cool. It’s wonderful to see the seeds you plant grow. It’s wonderful to see the respectful, considerate, genuine people your kids grow into and the ways they still reach out to you (and each other).

Hopefully I get to take him up on his offer soon!

A Reminder

Today was a reminder that I feel deeply. It’s one of the things I love about being me (even when it’s super hard and draining). Whether it was information I shared with a colleague that had been weigh on me, information shared by a friend in confidence, news of a friend’s family member passing, or the possibility of a missed opportunity later this year. I feel these things deeply. It’s a part of who I am. It’s my super power and my kryptonite. I love that part of me and continue to seek to use it for good.

Do What You Love

Yesterday was a very productive day. In looking back, it was more productive than most Saturdays I have. And at the root of that, it seems to be the case because I was doing things I enjoy. Funny how that can make all the difference.

I got to watch one of my kiddos play a soccer game (probably my favorite sport). I love watching high school and college soccer–men’s or women’s. I told the folks I was with “this is why you never take me to a game for a sport I know/love–because I don’t shut up”. It’s the truth. I have comments and insight (and yeah, strong opinions). Most other sports I just follow along and concentrate more on the fellowship than the actual game.

I got some needed homework time in for grad school. It’s not too intense, but there are weeks I feel like I’m waiting until the last minute to get everything done, and I definitely don’t like that. Always room for improvement!

We have family coming to visit soon (lots and lots of family). I’m super excited, but it also means we had/have to do a deep clean of our house. We’ve had little ones around, but not staying with us for an extended period of time. It’s a reframe for sure to figure out what we need to prep and make safe and reorganize.

The night included games and tv and reading outside (for maybe 30 minutes because I started to bake). So many good things–some of them things I don’t usually enjoy, but in this case their result mean very, very wonderful outcomes. And that I can get behind.