Brutal Honesty

**I reeeealllly hesitated posting this. But as I often remind myself, this blog is for me. It’s healing and cathartic. And so, I think this post deserves to see the light. Some things need to be spoken to be lifted from our shoulders. And speak it I will.**

This is one of those things I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to write down, let alone share “publicly”. But sometimes the Universe picks and picks and picks at you until you finally cave. And so here we are. Maybe it’s most appropriate to start with a quote. I’ve been reading a lot of Mandy Hale recently. Mostly her Instagram posts. But I traversed down “You Are Enough” and very much enjoyed it. Certain things just resonated.

I served and served and served the church because that was what was expected of me. And in the process, I lost sight of what it meant to simply serve God”.

Mandy Hale

That hit home. I’m a cradle church-goer. My parents actually met at the church I grew up at and they were married there as well. That place was so formative in who I am today, and so many connections have been made there over the years that are priceless. I found my first calling at that place. I fell in love with serving youth and children there. I had what felt like an unshakeable faith and was deeply connected and committed to the religion. But then college hit. And though my major still kept my faith life afloat, and I connected with Christian and Methodist clubs and activities, I was quick to let myself sleep in on Sunday mornings. And I was quick to make excuses for why I couldn’t find a church home away from home.

My summers though provided much of the faith and spirituality I needed to ride me over for a whole year. Working with ASP reminded me of the love of Christ, the grace of God, and the magic of the mist over the mountains. I learned about prayer and deep love in those mountains.

When I graduated from college it took a bit to find a job in my profession, but thanks to the “old school” nature of my dad, I answered a classified ad about a position and things fell into place. And as much as that place those people fed my soul, that place drained me and stole my own spirituality and belief of organized religion from me. If I’m honest, brutally honest, I stayed too long. I was there almost ten years. Those people became my friends, many of them became family. And it’s hard to see your friends and family act in ways you’d never imagine. It’s hard to see the home you’ve helped build and upkeep be stripped of its drywall when all that was needed was a few new coats of paint.

Some were shocked when I left. Others knew it was coming, that I had had 4-5 other job offers over those 10 years. But I’d always been too afraid of making that jump into the unknown (cue Frozen II sing-along here). I was too afraid from leaving my kiddos. I was too afraid of walking away from people I love. I was, simply put, too afraid. But there comes a time in your life when you realize you can’t live bound by fear. Or rather, you need to act on what God is calling you to despite of the fear. The last year and a half had been the biggest struggle. Not just because of COVID, though I’m sure that exacerbated things.

The last year and a half of my time there showed me how undervalued I was. And, yes, I am fully aware that I have a skewed perspective. Every story has more than one side. But this is my story. And I own that not everyone saw or experienced the same thing. I literally poured my everything into my job. I sacrificed who I was, and the time I had, because I loved the people. But that love was not often reciprocated in more than just words. I was given a title change after 8ish years. But not the added benefits of the title: no raise, no extra time off, no sabbatical time, no continuing education relief. Just more assignments and work to be done. I was mandated to be in the office at least twice a week when part time staff and my boss were free to manage their own time without restrictions. I was micromanaged and told how I was and wasn’t allowed to carry out my tasks and responsibilities: which seemed harsh and heavy handed when I had been doing this job ten years in the same community, a community I knew very well and has listened to and done ministry alongside of. I watched as a place I loved and valued lost their collective sense of autonomy, creativity, and passion. They were told how to dream, they were told how to respond, they were told that everything they’d built could be scrapped for the vision of a leader who had little care to invest deeply and meaningfully in their lives. I watched, sometimes silently and often with a bleeding tongue, as the wool was pulled further and further over their eyes.

I think there were many things that led to me wanting to needing to leave. I was raised to use my voice, but too long my voice went unheard, rather unlistened to; my complaints and concerns fell on deaf ears. I was unhappy. My mental health was constantly being challenged. I was not excited about the work I was doing—the joy had been taken away, the opportunity for creativity and collaboration and growth were long gone. Without my voice and my creativity, I feel like a shell of a person. And it all felt fake. I began doing and acting what/how I knew was expected of me merely to get through the day and collect a paycheck. They had stopped investing in me long ago. And it was time I stopped investing in them. I truly didn’t understand how we got to that place. But I knew there wasn’t anything I could do to change it. And I would never again find joy in that place.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever go back to worshipping in a church. I’m not sure that’s how I want to find community. I don’t know that I trust the aspects of organized religion that have repeatedly burned me. Let me be clear, I allowed myself to stay in an unhealthy (for me) environment for too long and that colored my experience. I blame myself for not getting out sooner, for not having the guts to leap. I’m not pointing the finger at anyone else. But I feel secure in knowing I can connected with the divine in my own way. I can still continue in my own spiritual journey. I don’t need an intermediary. The things that are important to me (mission, community, etc) can still be richly a part of my life. I can make it so. Because I’ve been doing it for the last 15ish years.

Friendships and Boxes.

My coworker (and friend) at work and I often have those Friday conversations I’m sure are typical at most workplaces. “Got any plans for the weekend?” And often I talk about dinner with friends, or catching up over coffee, a hike, some household tasks, studying, seeing my dad, etc. But as these conversations have grown and morphed over the last several months (whaaaaat? It’s been that long??) we’ve come to find that she has few friends, and she categorizes me into “having a bunch”. I’m not sure what constitutes “a bunch” but I digress.

I have always been a highly social person. Whether with family or friends (and to some extent strangers who have then become friends). It’s part of who I am. Though he’d deny it, much of that derives from my dad. I am a true extrovert. I thrive on interactions with others. Though I’m an HSP and empath so it is also very effing draining as well. A constant battle for sure. What wins out goes in waves. But I’ve learned over my 30+ years (and even more so during the pandemic) that I need to be intentional about the time I spend with others and who gets access to me. And even though I’ve learned, I don’t always make the best and healthiest decisions in this realm. But I try. As you may have read in previous posts, I’ve let romantic relationships (situationships?) take precedence and this has been detrimental and somewhat demeaning. But I know I need to create those communities that I need and crave. And so I put in the effort.

So what do adult friendships look like (for me)?

  • Weekly texts with my dear friend in Spain.
  • Haphazard texts and phone calls with my longest term friend—since 1st grade??? 🤯
  • Daily (or almost) texts with my best friend.
  • Monthly dinners with some special couples.
  • Bimonthly book club.
  • Intentional check-ins with three ladies who just “get” me. And organizing times to hang, hike, frolic, eat, bitch, etc.
  • Coffee dates and park dates with friends and their kids.
  • Dinner and drinks shenanigans with my free spirit animal. How’s that for a ‘before and after’ Pat Sajak?
  • FaceTimes with family.
  • Seeing family friends once in a while, or when they are in town, or I’m in their town.
  • Phone dates with my house mom.
  • Random drop ins on my secondary dad.
  • Notes and texts when something makes me think of someone.
  • Holiday get togethers.

I’m sure there are things I’m missing…but I guess the moral here is that people are important to me. And it is hard for me to let people go. Even the people I know I should. So I make it a point to keep connecting. Because it’s what I need, and I hope it’s what they need too.

Honest. Direct.

If I’m completely honest, there have been many times in the last two years where I haven’t felt like enough. That’s super vulnerable to admit. But maybe it’s important for someone else to hear and realize. If you’ve had those feelings you are not alone! I’ve felt like I’m not enough in a job where I was taken advantage of repeatedly. Where expectations were high, bosses were unfair, and compensation was low. I’ve felt not enough in dating. The constant swipe, the empty words and broken promises, the repeated dead ends.

I have to remind myself that I’m human. So what I am feeling is normal to an extent. I’m human and there are trials and tribulations and lessons along the way. But they are human as well. They aren’t perfect, no one is. And because of our humanity, we don’t always show up in positive, full bodied ways. We do shitty things, or act rude. We don’t always have the capacity to show up for others. And for whatever reason I’ve run into that a lot this year. People without the capacity to understand or receive me. I told a friend recently that all of it made me wonder what the learning is in all of it; what is G-d trying to teach me?

Though I’ll never know for sure His intentions, I think I’m supposed to be finding pieces that will come together and be embodied by one person. “Oh you didn’t think this existed? Let me show you this trait in one person. But ‘no’, he isn’t the complete person for you…” Things don’t always work out how we want them to. There’s a reminder in there that not everything or everyone is meant for us. Not everything or everyone is meant to stick around. And sometimes it is hard to let go. Sometimes it is hard to want something so much, and yet to have things fall so short.

At the end of the day I know my worth. And I know I’m not willing to settle. I know what is important to me. And I know what I need/deserve. I’m pretty secure in my life course at this moment, which is a beautiful thing. I would like to find someone who walks alongside of me in the journey and amplifies what I already have. But the time is not now, and so somewhat unsuccessfully I try to be patient.

I still get into “what if” spirals sometimes. And I have days where I don’t feel anxious at all. It’s a big back and forth as I process through gobs of emotions and experiences from the the last year plus. But it’s exactly why a break is needed. Room and space to just be, to listen to what is meant for me, to reground myself and have a fresh (more directed) start. Time to just be without putting in effort to things that were draining me (more than I realized). It’s finding new rhythms, a new balance. It’s about going to my core and making sure that continually shines through, regardless of who it does or doesn’t draw near.

Morgan Harper Nichols. Always.

Refocus and Connect

I’m overwhelmed. I feel it. In my bones, skin, blood. Yes, in my being. I put so much into dating. Into getting to know other people. Into being my truest self: vulnerable and honest and raw. And so often that has led to disappointment. Don’t get me wrong. I am not berating myself. I am full and complete. But I throw myself and so much energy into the process that it can be overwhelming. I let myself expect consistency from others. I expect it because I crave it. I look the other way when red flags pop up–give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t run. I allow myself to be hopeful. Hopeful because now more than ever I know what I want. Hopeful because I believe someone is out there for me. Hopeful.

I don’t understand folks who say one thing and then do another. Say they will text, or call you back and then don’t. Say they will tell you a story because they can’t in the moment and then never do. People who say they want long term. Say they are ready to do the work. Say they are tired of people giving up and not working through stuff. People who say all of this and then show absolutely no effort. I’m tired of people promising good communication and then sorely lacking. I don’t get it. How difficult is it to say “I’m busy but I’m still interested”. Or “I’m not into it”. Or “I wanna be friends”? How hard is honesty? Consistency? Vulnerability?

When I look back at the last year and a half I see how much I 1) put myself out there (go me) and 2) didn’t give myself space for me. I was consistently either dating, talking to, or swiping for 18 consecutive months. EIGHTEEN MONTHS?!?! Holy. effin’. Shit. That’s crazy. I’ve said it before that I needed a break. I was ready to put myself out there and I did. I proved to myself that I could do it. But, I need to recenter, come back to me, and remember I am complete without anyone else.

Life is pretty damn great right now. I have a wonderful family. I have supportive friends. I have a fulfilling job. I do things that I enjoy. It’s magical and I am happy. Even though a relationship feels good and like and end all be all, it isn’t. There is time. I have more growing and healing to do. I have more searching and questioning to do. I have more living to do. So here it is. No more dating in 2021. Time to refresh. And after that, absolutely no more chasing. If they want it, they will show it. If they don’t, well, then they won’t. And that is that.

Things I have Remembered
  • I’m flipping’ awesome.
  • If they think I am too much, then it isn’t a good fit.
  • It is okay to compromise, it is not okay to change who you are/your values.
  • It’s a two way street. I can’t do all of the work. Can’t and won’t.
  • I deserve someone who responds.
  • No one is perfect. No one.
  • People will show up. People will stay. People, your people, will be there when it matters.
  • What is meant to will come. What is meant to will go. Be kind and let both happen with grace.
  • These things often say more about others than they do about you.
  • You don’t need validation. You don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t need to hide or apologize or shrink.
  • “Decide what to be and go be it”. –The Avett Brothers.
  • This is not the end of the story.

Creative Outlet

If you know me well, you know my creative outlet comes in many forms. And the varied formats come in waves for me. Sometimes it’s words, sometimes music, sometimes yarn or fabric, sometimes hand lettering, and so on. Right now I’ve been especially drawn to collage journaling and the thought of a poetry book. Im not sure how those will take shape over the next several months. But Im just letting it flow. And to me, the first step always comes with putting the idea out there into the universe.

Bart the Glub Glub

Sometime you have to make really tough decisions. You know in your bones it’s the decision you need to make, and you put it off or avoid it. You try and hold on to the last little sparkling piece of “what was”, the last of a really good feeling. But once the need or decision is verbalized, it starts slipping through your fingers and you can’t hold on any longer.

I truly believe people come into our lives to teach us something. Maybe just for a moment, maybe for a longer piece of time. Perhaps they teach us a lesson, or remind us something about ourselves. Perhaps they champion us or show us things we don’t want. Perhaps they just give us company along the way. But they make a ripple and we are left forever not the same.

For me it’s easy to care about those people. Really, any of the people who come into my life and stick around for more than a couple of days. I invest in others quickly, and oftentimes very deeply. That’s part of my own personal and unique empathic ability. And when it gets to the point when someone needs to exit my life, it hurts and I struggle. Even when my intuition tells me it is coming or needs to happen, it’s hard. Sometimes I do everything I can to avoid letting it happen. Even when that is more hurtful than just letting go.

I was talking to one of my dearest friends yesterday about how you can me happy and overwhelmed. Or joyful and tired. Etc. and I’ve found that this and concept applies here too. Because I can care about these people and know I need to walk away/not engage/move on. Perhaps I’ll come back to them some day, perhaps our paths will cross again. Or maybe not, maybe this was the only entrance and exit on the stage that is my life. I suppose only time will tell.

But what I realized last night as I contemplated what I wanted and what I needed, I realized that “waiting to see if we could be friends” was not going to work. Because I’d end up with the same answer I have now. It isn’t. It can’t. And in this knowing I feel content. Even though it’s hard, I know I did what had to be done. I did it for me.

Decades

It’s been ten years since I started a new job. I think part of me forgot what that’s like. Ten years since I’ve had to ask a load of questions every five seconds. Ten years since I’ve felt like all I’m doing is making mistakes. Ten years since I’ve been a fish out of water just trying to swim. It’s frustrating. And exhausting. And there are points I want to throw in the towel.

But then I remember why I’m doing it: the kids. What I do is for them. And though I haven’t met many of my students yet, I care about them and helping them achieve all of their goals. It’s been a tough month. But leaving my old position wasn’t difficult. And those who have always supported me still do. I like a challenge. There is much work to be done as we head to the beginning of school.

I don’t know what the future holds. That’s part of being human. But I know I’m full of tenacity (Janca and Ebitz didn’t call me “spitfire” for nothing). And with that drive I can accomplish great things and keep spreading light to those around me, especially my kiddos. I’m thankful for a supportive family. I have wonderful friends. And dang, what a wonderful new boss I have.

Create

I will make my own magic. I will be my own person. I will stick up for what is right. I will love people, and love them hard. I will extend grace to others, to a point. I will surround myself with light and love. I will remain passionate about what is important.

And to the things that don’t matter, the haters who are gonna hate, to those who can’t see further than the end of their own nose, the things that try to bring me down: I will let that all go.

Reflections on a Decade

I’ve known this blog post was coming. I’ve been avoiding it to some extent. I’m not sure I can put into words all that I want to express. But, me being me, it’s important I get out what I can. And so I write. if you’ve followed along here for a while you know I’m a huge fan of growth and learning. The last decade has been leaps and bounds in terms of those two items for me. I went from a recent college grad to a working professional. I went from someone who had no idea what I wanted or who I was to someone who is fairly grounded in being her own person.

Much of the last decade has been dedicated to my time at SCC/Tapestry. I went through my photo archives the other day and posted on Facebook a bunch of significant memories from the last 9 years (and 9 months). It was cathartic. There were pictures with my kids and youth, but also with adults who have been so formational for me as well. It’s crazy thinking it’s been almost ten years at this place. It’s crazy thinking back to all of the transitions of staff over the years, transitions of church identity and locations, transitions of families in and out of our programs. And though it hasn’t always been easy, I’m happy for each piece along the way.

It’s hard to leave a place that you know so well, and people that you love so much. But when it’s time, you know it’s time. There have been times before when new job opportunities have presented themselves that I’ve thought about things being my “lasts” and setting myself up for them emotionally. But I didn’t do that this time. The pandemic “stole” some of those from me. And, honestly, I think that will make this transition “easier”. It gives me a way to separate and compartmentalize things a bit. It gives me a chance to remember that closure is what you make it, you aren’t owed anything.

I’m beyond grateful for where I’ve been, and excited for where I’m heading. The relationships I’ve built, the kiddos I’ve seen grow up and mature, the pocket communities I’ve helped create: I’m forever grateful for those experiences. And I truly believe all of the hills and valleys we’ve been through over the years have taught me about my own resiliency, flexibility, and level headedness under pressure (I know, shocking). I know I’m a better person because of my time at SCC/Tapestry. I know I’ve learned to deal with difficult situations because of that time as well.

It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be where I am today (personally or professionally) without the presence of Tapestry folks in my life. And while I’ll take some major steps back in terms of engagement, I also know there are some lifelong connections that have been forged there. Friends. Family. There are certain things, and people, you just can’t walk away from once they’ve entered your life. Several folks have asked if I’ll come back and worship at Tapestry. Honestly I don’t know what the future holds in terms of my spiritual journey. But I know this: it isn’t fair to jump in immediately. The congregation needs space to figure out who is the right fit to fill the position (whatever they deem the position to be). They need space to allow that person to be acclimated without the pressure of my presence looming over them. And I need space too. I need to reclaim my Sunday’s for a while. I went from Sunday morning responsibilities during my internship in college, to Sunday morning volunteers at ASP, to a short stint of attending NUMC, to working Sundays at SCC/Tapestry. I need a break. I need to time to myself. I need to figure out what will best support my own spiritual journey. At coffee with a friend this week, she said it best. Something along the lines of “that time to yourself makes sense; the beauty is you’ve had to get your spiritual needs met in places other than Sunday mornings in the last almost ten years. So you know how to do it in this transition time.” I never would have had those words, but it’s so true.

I’m sure there will be more reflections to come. But for now, this is what I have. I’m giving myself grace to enjoy my last four days. I’m giving myself grace to enjoy my last Sunday; my reception, my staff lunch, my last time seeing some folks for a bit. I’m giving myself grace.

I absolutely love this piece from Etsy.