In college I was in a sorority. I joined my freshman year at the urging of some upperclass(wo)men. I made quick friends with most of the juniors and seniors. There was another Shannon, and so the family nickname “Sedge” took hold easily. In true form, I lived into my personality of being charismatic, energetic, and a class clown of sorts. I can remember my first year at roast and wills, a senior send-off of sorts. One of my favorite pair of besties gifted me a Sig Chi Derby Days shirt because I was “Spit-fire Sedge”. And it became my mantra of sorts–sometimes it takes someone else seeing it in you for something to stick.
There was a point that I started loosing that spark, drive, joie de vivre. I can’t place exactly where or when that happened. In the last year or two I’ve worked really hard to get it back. It hasn’t been easy, and I’m not fully there yet, but the progress has been a good thing. Last year I led a book study for work on Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead”. I decided to pick a word to guide my year. That word was “dare”. And it served me surprisingly well.
For 2020 I’ve decided to choose the word “grit”. There have been two posts swimming around recently in my sphere and it’s driven me to select that for my word. Hopefully it will continue to guide me, stretch me, and remind me of my core. I’m thankful for this “fad” of selecting a word for the year. New year, new mantra.
Growing up, our parents had a special hiding place for our presents. Somehow, my mom also stored some potent smelling candle in the same drawer. Every gift we received smelled like this candle. Even years after the candle had been disposed of, the scent still lingered in the drawer and on our gifts. This drawer isn’t used anymore–it was in my mom’s closet and my dad doesn’t use it.
Tonight two of my fabulous coworkers gifted me a homemade candle (in a tea cup!). I took a sniff and was transported back–the same candle smell. Took lots not to cry. Took lots not to laugh. It was a wonderful reminder that even in the most unlikely (dare I elude to our church sermon series and say “unexpected”) moments and locations–mom is still present.
I will treasure this gift from my friends. Not just because of their generosity but because it reminds me of my mama. Sometimes it’s the little things.
It’s been an epic year. Not only have there been many changes for me personally, but also professionally. We had our Staff Christmas lunch yesterday, and it was refreshing and hopeful and made me remember how much I enjoy doing ministry alongside these talented individuals. They make me laugh, challenge me, ask questions, offer support, and make me laugh (did I already say that? 😜).
Work has sometimes been an ebb and flow: moments when I’ve wondered if it was time to move on, situations where I’ve wanted to throw in the towel, feelings of stagnation. But, keeping one foot in front of the other, I’ve trekked on–largely because of the community and family that is my job and congregation. A few days ago one of the modern poets I follow on Instagram posted this:
And that hit hard. Touché. There is so much more to my story here: in this time and place. And I will keep bending toward that light.
If you read my blog regularly you know I’ve grown a lot in the last calendar year, spurred on by a class I taught at work on vulnerability (shout out to Brené Brown). It’s pushed me to think about what I want for my life longterm (hello grad school). It’s made me do a better job asking for what I need, or sometimes creating what I need.
Intentional time is one of my love languages. I get a lot out of shared time, retreats, camps, conferences, hang outs etc. at one point I dreamed of running my own girls summer camp and retreat center (that’s still a glimmer out there). I love being on retreat, being away at camp, going on mission trips. The intentional time is essential for me. The atmosphere is different than anything else. But the unique community created each time is so powerful to me. I’ve never been formally trained to lead retreats. But I have lots of experience: as a youth, college student, and adult.
Based on a blog post from a dear friend, I reached out to her to see if she’d ever be interested in co-leading some experiences for our local community. We dreamed a little, figured we should start small to gauge interest, researched locations, figured out goals, and set a date. Our first endeavor will be this January. It’s exciting to see the pieces coming together, to be creating space for others to do some of the work I did for myself in 2019, and dabbling in some side work that also fills my spirit.
Event info can be found here.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me. Whether I’ll get married. Or have kids. I don’t spend too much time worrying about that. And nights like tonight remind me that it doesn’t really matter because I have a pretty fulfilling life where I am right now, surrounded by some wonderful people.
Tonight I had the opportunity to see one of my kiddos perform at their first big show at IU (okay, dress rehearsal but still). I’ve seen this young woman dance since she was in the 5th grade. Through in-class workshops, dance camps, The Nutcracker, competitions, Youth Sundays, open houses, Adult Hip Hop, Zumba, dance team, choreographing, and more competitions. I’ve watched her grow, strengthen, find her dance and performance “voice”, build confidence, teach and choreograph, and continue to learn and better herself.
Tonight took my breath away. It reminded me that you plant seeds, water them, tend them, and hope that they grow. Sometimes you don’t know right away what that will look like. Some seeds lay dormant for a time, some forever. But in helping plant the seeds you get to watch what blooms too–to see the flower turn out exactly as you thought, or become more beautiful than you ever imagined, or be firmly rooted with a sturdy stem.
I may not have kids. I may not ever. But I have lots of them–people to be proud of, to celebrate. People who give me chills when I see them doing what they love, when they are flourishing. People who I will continue to support and care about for years to come. I’ve watched my kids get married. Heck, one of my first youth and his wife just announced their family is expanding. It’s wonderful to be able to share in their lives. Their joy brings me joy. And for that I’m forever grateful.
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.