Many the Miles

I’ve been running. I’ve done it before and haven’t stuck with it. In the 43 days that have made up 2020, I’ve worked out 41 days. Most of those have included running. I’m to the point where I actually really enjoy it. Sometimes I crave it. I started only enjoying running outside. But with the weather I’ve had to resort to treadmill running. Ugh. But..after repeating that process I’m better at it and it is way more enjoyable than before.

My sister and I participate in a 5k each year that supports the Indiana Parkinson’s Foundation. I’m hopeful this year that Incan run the entire thing. If it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. But it’s the goal I’m working toward. Tonight I ran 20 minutes straight, with a pace that is okay (not my fastest but possibly for that amount of time).

We have several friends who will join us for the 5k. And I’m thankful for that. As my birthday approaches I think of ways I can keep giving back and feel like sharing this link is what I can do for now. If you feel so inclined, you can donate here.

The Shadow

It’s tradition. Grandpa always gets a birthday shout-out. I don’t know how to not recognize him and his influence on my life. People often tell me how much I look like my mom, it’s something you just can’t miss. But what they often don’t say is how much she looked like her dad. You can see it in pictures over a range of ages if you compare photos. You can definitely see it as they aged and deteriorated. It’s a mixed blessing to see them in me, and to recognize how time will take a toll on me.

But in more than our looks, there are points that tie the three if us together. My grandpa had an amazing and unwavering faith. He traveled to Jerusalem, always had a Bible by his side, and believed in the simplicities of life that it spelled out. He gave to charity, kept himself physically fit until he couldn’t anymore, and held his children to a high standard.

My mom followed in the footsteps of her dad in her firm faith, her love to travel, her passion for giving back, and her care for self and others. Though she wasn’t convinced she’d get married or have children, both ended up a part of her story and she was committed to providing for her family in a myriad of ways. She loved the three of us girls with a fierceness that couldn’t quite be grasped when we were young. She was strong, and tenacious, and carried the silliness and wisdom she learned from her dad into her own parenting style.

I remember more of my grandpa’s life in a car facility than I do his time out. But some of the earliest memories I have, come from days spent at his apartment: doing laundry in the machines and playing on the playground as he and Herb folded clothes. I remember fig newtons, and smiles. I remember the way he’d squeeze your hand in a way that you thought he might never let go. And I remember in the moments we couldn’t communicate (because I was too young or he was too old) the winks.

I often wonder what he would think about the person I am today. What words of wisdom he might share for my current vocation. And how he might support me if he was still here. Happy (almost) 110th, Grandpa.

I will be with you…

I have often wondered why timing plays out the way that it does. There are moments I wish would slow down and last forever. And moments I’d quite rather speed right through. Three years is right around the bend. And I can’t help but thinking, these days, that my pain and grief had place and meaning so that I would know how to handle the pain and grief of others.

I’m a sucker for finding meaning in things. I’m known to overthink, analyze until the subject disintegrates in my mind from wear. It’s a double-edged sword but it’s a gift that I don’t think I’d want to live without…it’s part of what makes me, me. Since mom passed there have been several moments and experiences where I’ve walked alongside others who have experienced their own grief. And what once felt like an unspeakable time and situation has morphed. I’ve been able to add perspective, experience, and a type of grace that only comes with having walked a similar journey.

I never would have wished my own grief on myself, but there is a silver lining, a way that I use the memories of those I’ve lost to move forward and help others. With the unexpected passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and several others this week I’ve been reminded that life is a precious thing we often take for granted. It reminds me that telling people you love them is important, letting people know they have an affect on you and a very real place in your life is something not to overlook. No matter how silly it seems, or how repetitive it becomes, it’s important to appreciate and values those around you–you may not always have the same opportunity to do so.

In a world that feels unknown, scary, and as if we have no control at times–I believe there is still good, light, and love when we are courageous and vulnerable enough to share it. In a world where we second guess, worry, stress, and concentrate on “failure”–I believe there is peace, grace, hope, and growth. Things aren’t as grim as we make them to be. And if we open ourselves to sharing, really openly and authentically sharing, our lives with others we will know happiness and joy.

Every Voice

When I was in middle school we were required to take a general music class as one of our “specials” rotations. Our teacher was eclectic, some would have probably called her neurotic. She was one of the sweetest ladies, but generally misunderstood by our pre-adolescent selves. As an assignment we all had to complete a singing memorization test during the course of the semester.

We sang every day in that class with content drawn from a wide range of classic musicals. But our singing was more patriotic in nature. We had two songs to choose from: The Star Spangled Banner or Lift Every Voice. Our teacher told us the story of one of her former students who chose to memorize every verse of the National Anthem. Because most people already knew our National Anthem, that was the song most decided on. But Lift Every Voice resonated with me. Not just the intensity of the words and the vivid picture it paints, but the lyrical and rhythmic dichotomies it contains. The melody is haunting–you can hear the strife and heaviness of the story it tells just from a few opening notes.

So among a diverse group of students, there I stood, belting my heart out to a National Anthem that I barely understood as a white 12 year old girl. There are times during the year that I call upon this song, it has a way of soothing my soul in a unique way. It helps me connect with something outside of myself. It reminds me that there is still work to be done. As I write this post I am cautious in my language. This semester in grad school I’m in a class on Diversity. I recognize I bring my own (sometimes invisible) bias and privilege when talking about race (and other categories we are taught by society should divide us). On this MLK day I hope to be a little more open-minded, a little more willing to have and engage in tough questions, a little more vulnerable to how I’ve contributed to the problem of privilege over the years.

Maybe one day all of our voices can join as one, as humans, to true proclaim and embrace liberty for all people.

“Easy”.

I’m holding myself accountable in new ways this year. Listening to my body and my spirit and really becoming in tune with what I want and need. As a part of that I have committed to doing some type of exercise each day–could be big or small. I created a new Instagram handle: @sedgefit I’ll use it to help me track daily. It’s a public profile so feel free to follow along. It’s really for me but if someone else gets something out of it, great!

The big accomplishment today was that I did a 25 minute run and I ran the first 15 minutes of it without walking! I’d call that a win! I’ve got #grit

Spit-fire and Tenacity

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.

And the Scent Endures Forever

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.

Bend Toward the Light

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.

Visioning2020 👓

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.

And the Seeds Grow…

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.