The word “audacious” is not one that I keep in my everyday vocabulary. It has a time and a place, but for whatever reason I don’t pick it up off of the shelf to speak out loud. But during the month of July it has creeped into my life, and popped up in a variety of ways and places. It started in the form of a heated conversation. One I wasn’t prepared for, in the middle of an otherwise enjoyable day and enjoyable lunch. It was “audacious” that I believed what I did and felt the way I did. Blow number one
After that it started showing up in things that I read: poems, books, emails, devotions. And things that I was listening to: podcasts and radio programs. Less of a blow, and more of an inspiration. But the repeated presence was curious to me, it still is. Maybe the first blow was enough to make me recognize all of the places the word appears—maybe it’s not that it’s actually been more prevalent. Kinda like when you buy a new car that you haven’t noticed before, and you start seeing them everywhere. Either way it’s a word that is going to stick around for a while; for better or for worse.
I don’t think “audacity” and “audacious” are words most people use in everyday conversation. Well known words but not consistently used. But they will for sure strike an emotion in me moving forward when I hear them: a cringe, ever so slight. They will leave a taste in my mouth ever should I use them: like a vinegary morning breath. It’s funny how words can do this. Songs can do these. Smells can do this. Our brains are hardwired to make connections and forever use surroundings to serve as placeholders for memories good and bad. The mind fascinates me. And I’m thankful, most times, for these links it makes. Even when thoughts come flooding through that seem unwanted, I’m learning and embracing the fact that my past was, is, a part of me. Without it I wouldn’t be who I am. These memories and reactions to the memories are all just a small sliver of Shannon. And for that I’m thankful.
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, a week or so ago I made the decision to deactivate my Facebook account. I’ve said before that I have a love/hate relationship with the platform. So many hateful words and inappropriate diatribes get spewed, and people who are loving and cordial in person sometimes let their tongues wag a little too much without fear of the repercussions. My mental and emotional health were screaming for a break. On top of that, I became a zombie scroller. I’d lose hours of time just flipping through the same information continually, dragging my newsfeed down to force it to refresh and show some new gleaning. And admittedly I didn’t (don’t) have the self-control to just stop. So, somewhat reluctantly, and without any fanfare, I deactivated my account. It felt freeing, liberating, like I had some sense of control over how I was feeling and how I was spending my time.
I’ve had a couple people reach out and ask why. And I’ve been honest. Saturday I was hanging out with friends and we were discussing my recent hiatus and he said “what have you been doing with your time instead?” And, honestly, I was shocked because I hadn’t really cataloged where my “free time” was going instead. To his point, such breaks from social media are usually most effective when backed by a plan of how to spend that time instead—otherwise people generally revert back to the platform they tried to give up. And so I thought: I’ve been outside more, I’ve been reading more, I’ve created a new Instagram account (yes, I realize this sounds counterintuitive) where I’ve been posting daily inspirational quotes/poems and design elements that are completely of my own making. These things have brought me joy. I’ve felt lighter. I find my interactions are deeper and more genuine because I don’t know every nitty gritty thing people post each day.
I know this break won’t last forever. There are things I miss and that are useful about Facebook. But I want to prove to myself that I can survive without it. And possibly after this time apart I‘lol be better able to self-regulate. And if not, it won’t be as daunting to deactivate for another set period of time. We are living in a climate that is so technology/screen/social media driven (amplified by social distancing and quarantine). But there are still ways to do without. And I am thankful for the respite.
I wrote this once before, and it didn’t save. So here we go again (and hitting “save draft” quite often!). I’m not sure it will be as good, or the same, but hopefully the message and intent is still there. I think it’s important to take note of when others show up for us, in a million little ways (and big ways) they do it.
I’ve felt extremely humbled the last couple of weeks by the myriad of ways people have showed up in my life. I don’t just mean the happenstance of them sharing the same space and time, but them actively be present (on purpose). The wonderful thing is that it hasn’t just been in one area of my life, but several. Unexpected offers, words of wisdom, and praise. It’s easy for me to get stuck in the doldrums (cue The Phantom Tollbooth). But these moments help to bring me out.
I’ve been pretty open here about my love/hate relationship with dating (online and otherwise). And have talked about asking my close friends to set me up via a form letter I crafted. The swipe world is disappointing. I’m not sure I’m good at it (hi, if you know what it take to be good at swipe culture, please let me know). No connection has really took hold for me much longer than a week. And after you swipe for a while you end up getting messages like this:
Well, crap. Can’t tell you how similar seeing these messages feels like the world is ending (because you know, I’ve somehow exhausted all of my options!). A friend reminded me the other day that I know pretty well what I am looking for, and I don’t need to change that to fit what is out there “being offered”. Patience. Hey, if you know how to conquer this patience thing, girl could also use some help there (don’t believe me? Just ask my dad. He’s been trying to engrain that one in me for years). So where I may have previously been quick to click “expand/widen” in terms of the qualifications I set, I am learning to trust myself and my wants and needs. Something will come, eventually. And who knows in what form.
Many of my close friends haven’t readily had viable eligible bachelor options available for me. They’ve been excited and supportive, but no one has come to mind per se for a good set up. So in true Shannon form I graduated to round two of asks. Granted, these were more direct, not as detailed, and did not receive a formal letter. I was nervous about it. “What will people think?” But in sticking with my vow to choose vulnerability whenever I can, I forged ahead. And let me tell you, people showed up. People who were appreciative to share in the story I told. People who reassured me, were proud of me, reminded me not to give up. I mean, hell, it felt good that these folks think I special enough (cool enough? Eh, maybe not.) to be willing to set me up if they did know someone. When you trust others, they trust you. And that makes the honesty and vulnerability that much more worth it.
I’ve also been candid here about my health and fitness journey. I feel like for the most part I have the nutrition and “diet” under control—meaning I know what to do, I just have to stick with it. But I’ve also found that keeping moving makes a huge difference for me. I’ve tried to walk or run every day—it hasn’t always happened. Some days are better than others.
My sisters and I are hosting a small 5k through our neighborhood this weekend. Shelly and I typically run the IN Parkinson’s 5k each year in memory of our mom, but we aren’t able to in 2020. So we are doing our own instead. I even set up a month long fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox foundation as well. Details here. Our family and close friends are joining us. And those who can’t make it are showing up in other ways. It means a lot to be surrounded by folks who continue to hold us up.
One friend from my sorority in college aww my post on Instagram and pledged to run a 5k the same week in memory of mom. She sent me this photo today after having it completed:
She and I don’t get to talk all of the time anymore. But it was so sweet to have the surprise of her being willing to show up in this way. And gave us an excuse to reconnect (long overdue, Kriegs). Heartwarming to say the least.
As a part of my job I’ve been required to I’ve been given the opportunity to preach on occasion. My new boss has instituted a quarterly expectation which is exciting and intimidating all at the same time. So I preached in March right before things shut down, and then again on June 28th. Those experiences we very similar and quite different as well. One was in person, the other completely virtual. One took me weeks to prep. The other was done post-summer classes and completed in a mere few days. One stuck strictly to the scripture presented, while the other expanded on the subject. I don’t consider myself a preacher (just like I don’t consider myself a runner). But the last couple of weeks I have had several interactions with people who have appreciated what I’ve offered.
I have a good friend who own a couple of shops in Nashville, IN (check them out here). He was so excited about what I offered in March, and told me that if they lived closer, they’d definitely attend my church. And he was exuberantly waiting to watch the June sermon. My former boss sent me a Facebook message and told me how proud she was of me, and how timely my June message had been. Both very humbling experiences. I even saw a congregant in the grocery store with his son who introduced me and the son said “I know you! You preached last week, it was really good”. This reminder of why I do what I do was needed, a reminder that my current call and my call for the future can still walk hand in hand.
For me, all of these experiences go back to people. At my core, my people (tribe, group, fam, circle, etc.) is what matters. Community and social interactions are what drive me, revitalize me, and keep me in a healthy state. As I normalize the world around me, I take stock of my needs and wants and how I can best take care of myself moving forward. One of my love languages is “quality time”. And so I am intentionally scheduling monthly hang out sessions (coffee dates, lunches, walks, adventures, small shindigs, swims, hikes, craft nights, etc.) with my nearest and dearest. I’m holding myself accountable to nourishing the support system that I needcrave and value so much in my life. I made a list of people and different tiers for the place they hold in my life. Not all of the people I want to connect with in person live close enough to make that a reality–but I’ll do what I can. Then there are concentric circles moving outward of how much energy I can commit to and expend on people.
This means organization and scheduling (yay, two of my favorite things–being serious 😍). It means intentionality and vulnerability and potentially (unintentionally) hurting others by putting myself and my needs first. That’s not easy for me as I often prioritize others above myself. But I’m working on it, one day at a time. I’m using poetry, quotes, song lyrics, and advice from those I love to move my evolution forward.
I’m on the verge of something new, something great. I don’t know what, but I know it will be uncomfortable at times. I know not everyone will be by my side during or after. I know I will have to use my voice, at varying decibels. I know it will bring positivity. I know it will not be easy. But I can feel it in my bones all the same, things are about to shift. This butterfly is ready to shed its chrysalis.