November 29, 2010

birth-days are the best-days

It is no secret (I don't have many of those, if you haven't noticed) that I love birthdays. Love them. So much. I love my birthday. I love other people's birthdays. I love children's birthdays and geriatric birthdays. (I feel a little like Dr. Suess and I don't hate it.) I do not discriminate where birthdays are concerned.

There are several reasons for this, which are (but are not limited to):

1. I unabashedly love being the center of attention 1 day a year. If I ever tell you different, I'm lying. Or I'm being held hostage and I'm trying to let you know in an obvious way that my life is in danger and to please send help. One of the two.
2. I really love parties
3. Invitations, generally speaking, is my love language
4. Simple genetics (my mother is the birthday queen)
5. I get to send/receive greeting cards, and I really love greeting cards
6. Everyone gets one and no one is left out of the fun
7. When you're late with a card or gift (which I always am) it's acceptable because that only extends the fun of the birthday rather than being a bad thing (which it typically is). At least that's how I spin it.

There are more reasons, I'm sure of it, but 7 seemed like a good, holy number to end on. Anyway, this weekend I heard about a birthday celebration where celebrators sat around that evening and told the birthday haver why they all appreciated her. They poured encouragement out on her, prayed over her, loved on her and praised Jesus in all of it. I loved that. It made me realize today that THAT is the big reason I like birthdays so much. Because on that one day, we all get to be thankful for just you (unless you share a birthday, in which case fear not, there's enough to go around). The rest of us get to reflect, that day, on how much you mean to us and the reasons we love you and why we are so fortunate to know you.

It's not that on this particular day however-many years ago you were born as a tiny babe into the world so much as it is a good reminder, one day a year, that you (whoever you may be) are a gift. Maybe you are an attention giver, and getting attention gives you pit stains. Or maybe you are an attention fiend and birthdays are where you'll really shine. Whether you're a friend or a wife or a boyfriend or a sister or a dad. Whatever you are, on this one day per year (or one week per year, as I prefer to celebrate birthdays) we will celebrate you.

I think what I like most is that we all get a day. And to you birthday naysayers far and wide, fine. Naysay all you like. Don't have cool parties with hula hoop contests (I had that in 5th grade, not to brag) or bring funfetti cupcakes to school or let me sing to you in a restaurant, that's fine. But you cannot stop us from celebrating the gift that is you.

One day week a year.

November 23, 2010

lost in transition

For those of us in this great stage of life that I love to hate to call "transition," the holidays are annoying as all get out. Because really, there is just NOTHING more frustrating than having the "OH HI I haven't seen you in a year what are you doing what's new tell me everything!" conversation over and over again when there is really nothing cool to say at all. 

I don't mean to sound bitter, I really don't. I'm actually getting quite good at the "What's new?" "Nothing!" conversation. I have lots of great one-liners dripping in just the right amount of self-deprecation and humor. It's a science, really. And while, sure, I had to have a tutor for high school physics, I am something of a savant when it comes to THIS kind of science. (The banter kind.)

I used to think about making stuff up, just for kicks. I think maybe once I kind of did but then I got confused by my own story and ended up sort of just hoping people would forget what I'd said. I think it worked. Tomorrow I will embark on another journey through the luscious landscape (ha) of Western Kansas. Thing is, I am a 30/30 extrovert on the Myers-Briggs - and as such, I very rarely require alone time. But about once a year I dabble in introversion, if you will, and I CRAVE a road trip by myself. I need 8 hours to serenade myself with bad country songs and entire musicals. Heeeeavenly. So tomorrow, home for Turkey I go. And oddly, I do not have nervousness about said trip or said transition. And here is (I think) why.

Because I may be in transition, and I may hate it, buuuuuut I also get to see the mountains every day. I have an immaculate collection of fun, brilliant, big-hearted people who I call friends. I bake delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on demand. I think my family is the coolest. I laugh, a LOT. I wear red lipstick when I feel like it. And because I read somewhere that those who look to him are radiant, their faces never covered in shame.

Transition isn't glamorous, that is one thing I know for certain. But in transition, I am learning about freedom. And though it may not make for riveting conversation over cranberry sauce*, if I have to be in transition to get that, then fine. I'm not even mad about it.

And per the advice of a wise girl I know, I will do my freedom dance. 
Radiantly and without shame.

Take THAT, transition.

* I've never liked cranberry sauce anyway.

November 16, 2010

don't you dare "we" me

I kind of hate the collective "we."

It starts simply enough; you're telling a story, writing a blog, giving a testimony or teaching a lesson... and then you cross the "we" line. One minute you're telling a story about yourself, and the next you're offering general commentary on the human experience. "When I was a little girl, Susie told me on the playground that unicorns weren't real. I never talked to Susie again because I was so upset. I think we have this tendency, all of us, as people, to believe in unicorns and hate any and all naysayers." and suddenly, I'm being lectured on the nonexistence of unicorns. I don't even care about unicorns.* Nor did I have any childhood friends named Susie. What just happened?! How did I get inside this story?

Here's what I think happens. You're talking, and you're fine, but then suddenly there's this moment of panic: "what if no one knows what I'm talking about? what if they don't realize that I'm making an attempt to relate to each of them individually with my personal anecdote? quick... how can I let them know??" And then you've done it. You've crossed into "we" territory. No no, I can't let people decide for themselves if they identify with my story. I must put them in there with me myself.

When people we me (yep, its a verb now), I usually have one of two reactions. Either a) I'm angry and outraged because for goodness' sake, you've just lumped me with you in the crazy without my permission! Everyone here now assumes I am crazy too (because everyone is always thinking about me) and I must prepare my defense. Now I'm not even listening to you because I'm too busy arguing with you in my head.

Or b) I'm just mad because you're right and I don't want to hear it. (9/10 times this is probably the case.)

I am just as guilty. I bet if we went back in time on the old blog, we could find one trillion examples of the collective "we." I we you all the time, and I'm sorry about it. It's just that I want you all to be here with me in crazytown. Nevermind that you didn't agree to come here - I have brought you here against your will. I don't want to be alone, goodness no, I feel too conspicuous! So I've brought you in with me.

Now it's not just me, it's we. 
I hope that's alright with you.
Personally, I feel great about it.

* False. I love unicorns.

November 8, 2010

I couldn't find it, so it found me

Forgetting is the worst.

There is a subtle difference (I think) between forgetting something and just letting go of it. Letting go might be a choice, or you might do it because of stubbornness, or laziness, or indifference, or even bitterness. And some of those things might be a part of the process of forgetting, but it's still different. It's worse.

Because when you forget, that's it. No one chooses to forget, it just kind of happens. You can't summon what you forgot back, and no matter how much you look there's a chance you don't find it. That it stays lost, forgotten, for a long time. There is also a difference between brain forgetting and heart forgetting. And I would argue that the heart kind is the worst of the worst. Because I can learn all I want. I can read, memorize, recite, listen, tell, and be told. But I cannot will myself to feel. I cannot think myself into emotions. I can't decide one day to trust or love or be comforted. I just can't.

Once I lost my favorite necklace. I got it at YoungLife camp - and I tell you what, I loved that necklace. It was sentimental and exactly perfect and I loved it. And then I lost it. I just forgot where I put it one day. I looked and searched and wracked my brain and retraced my steps and simply could not find it. I forgot what it looked like, after a while. I forgot how it was shaped and how long it hung on my neck but I knew it was gone and I hated that.

I think for a while I forgot how to believe that there was power in prayer, that there was comfort in that power, that there was relief in that comfort. And no matter what I did, or how hard I looked, or even how many prayers I said, I couldn't make myself remember what that felt like. I just knew it was gone and I hated that.

And I bet you know exactly how I felt the day I found my necklace. The day I looked in the bottom of a bag and saw it lying there, unworn, unchanged. It was relief and joy and delight and the assurance that, finally, a search was over.

This was like that. But like... 342,908,654 times better than that.

I didn't feel it, then I did.
I wasn't sure, and then I was.
I couldn't find it, so it found me.
I don't know why and I don't know how, but I remember.

I think that's neat.