January 29, 2011

two truths and... a country song

One. I read this on my great soulsisterfriend's blog this week and it's been on my mind ever since.

"Truthfully, it is no one's fault but our own if we do anything in life other than bring ourselves without disclaimers."

I am the world's champion prefacer. I preface everything I say; vulnerable or not, important or not, I feel like I have to give a full dissertation of the reasons why I am about to say a given thing before I can just come out with it. I've been called on it many-a-time. I actually gauge friendship legitimacy based on whether or not a person has at one point told me to "STOP PREFACING AND SPIT IT OUT." I have one friendship in which one of the key rules of our relationship is no prefacing. Anyway. I want to be better at bringing myself without disclaimers. We're cool and unique and fun and we bring ourselves with all these warnings and prefaces and disclaimers anyway and I hate that.

Secondly. I saw Country Strong last weekend and ever since I have been on a country kick like you would not believe. I think it was a long time coming (I blame the brothers Smeester primarily) and Gwyneth Paltrow just threw me right over the edge. I don't think I've listened to this much country since the days when I was singing John Michael Montgomery on the back of the bus on the way to Eagle Elementary School. I know I'll take some heat for this flare-up, I'm ok with that, because I also like cool hipster Indie stuff which these days I think some people my age take as a dealmaker or breaker for whether or not I'm a worthy human being. I'm going to see The Decemberists in concert in February so it should all even out. Now that I've covered all my bases and countered any judgments you could come up with and disclaimed all there is to disclaim (are you starting to see what I mean? I didn't even plan it!), here's my song for the week.

THIRD. I love this blog post too by another sister of my soul and I think you should read it:
"Aren't we all just kids who got old?"

I have brilliant friends. I'm thankful this week for all the truth that's getting told. And also for country music.

January 26, 2011

addendum [to that thing I said about booty shaking]

I told you that I intend to make amends by shaking my booty. And Zumba is fun, it's a fact. I dig shaking my groove thang and you should too. But it's not the whole story.

I think I (we?) believe lies in an attempt to remain protected from inevitably catastrophic fates which I can easily avoid by just not taking risks. So in going to Zumba, with a whole gym of people (read: attractive young professionals who always work out exactly when Zumba happens) watching me do the Merengue march, I risk that I might fall on my butt and be embarrassed. I believe truth (= I can do Zumba if I want), and I trust God (= God is bigger than potential catastrophes) and since I am at least relatively coordinated, probably I won't make a huge fool of myself. Therefore, Zumba is a risk, yes, but a relatively benign one.

With bigger risks, sometimes the "catastrophe" that we fear [rejection, embarrassment, vulnerability, sadness, hurt] comes true. While I'm having the time of my life popping & locking at 24 Hour Fitness, other things like actual legitimate wholehearted vulnerability are far scarier. By entering opposing lies territory, in the same breath as the fun came the suck. I think I sort of expected that since I am operating out of a healthy place, (for vocabulary's sake we'll call this "recovery") the world would respond to me as such. Well, shoot, that's not how the world works. I gave myself a pep talk, let myself be vulnerable, and lo and behold - catastrophe of catastrophes.

I started to get homesick for the safety of shame. I started to sort of yearn for before when even though I wasn't satisfied, I knew what would happen because I controlled it by not risking in the first place. I thought if this is freedom, no, thank you very much. I considered a valiant return to my old tricks, because being sad isn't fun and I wasn't prepared to give in without a fight, nooooo sir.


The lie told me I couldn't survive the risk. And I am sad, hurt, and disappointed, BUT as catastrophic as I thought catastrophe would be, lo and behold, I am surviving it. I won't go back. I know too much about freedom (and recovery and life and love and joy) to give it up now.

On the other side, truth is still truth. I am still me. Maybe even a little more so than before.

January 21, 2011

I have been a fool for lesser things [have I, though?]

Here I sit - the babysitter nanny. I'm wearing leggings and a Wichita State t-shirt and Ugg boots. I am partaking in a healthy morning snack of baked natural Cheetos something-or-others and watching TV while the babe sleeps. What I'm telling you, is that I'm a stereotype. All I need to do is start chewing gum loudly and call the boy I have a crush on from the landline (I'll hang up when he answers, duh) and it's 1999 all over again.

My head is full of inanities and songs from the eighties today. I'm going with it.

My head is like an endless abyss of nonsensical song lyrics and tunes. I get things stuck in there, and they will not leave. This song has been stuck in my head for the past week or so (if not longer). Essentially, Billy Joel has taken up permanent residence in my poor defenseless little karaoke brain. Watch the eighties magic below and maybe you can get it stuck in your head for weeks too!

What am I doing this weekend? Glad you asked. By some miracle, two of my very favorite people will be making the journey to Denver tonight! These girls, well, they are a couple of my oldest and dearest. I knew them when they were wearing jelly bean tights with their Doc Martens and trying out for cheerleading. We rode in the same limo to our Freshman homecoming with a bunch of sweaty boys who couldn't drive yet. I knew them when I had braces and wore a half side pony (thanks for that Mom) and when I was writing love poems in my diary about a different boy every week.

[They went something like this:

standing by your locker
I am kind of a stalker
you are my one true love
sent to me from up above
I only wish you knew
that my feelings are true
please ask me to the prom
so I can call and tell my mom

I was a pretty promising poet. Never should have given it up. Maybe if you're lucky someday I will show you a real one from the archives.]

Those two were also there when I thought I could potentially be a clothing designer:

I know, I know. I've missed my true calling. Comfort is important, people. So if you want a swim suit that looks like something Kelly Kapowski might have worn in the Hawaii episodes of Saved by the Bell, I'm your girl. I also do wedding dresses, but that's another picture for another day.

I digress. My friends are coming. I still remember their home phone numbers. That's the kind of friends these are.
ali su wu, kelly "misdemeanor" marv, meeee, circa 2005, lawrence, KS
So, there it is. Maybe I will make a habit of posting a song on Fridays for your listening pleasure (other people do this... so I'm not original, but I have some really great music so I'm ok with it). Maybe I'll even throw in embarrassing pictures of when I used to dabble in all sorts of arts: modeling, more design, sketch artist, lyricist... oh yes. My Wichita closet is a wealth of embarrassment.

Time to go - the baby's up. I guess it's time to stop giggling with my BFF's on the cordless phone (3 way calling, of course), turn off MTV, and go fetch him. 

January 15, 2011

I intend to make amends by shaking my booty

It has recently come to my attention that a lot of good things aren't fun. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that "good" and "healthy" are often antonyms for "fun." Making amends is the notorious part of the 12-step process that almost everyone super hates. By the above definition, lots of steps aren't fun, but amends are the wooooorst (see how many o's there are? That's how you know I mean it). Sincere efforts to offer apology for past harm. Sick. We all [the addicts, the crazies, even you normalest of humans] have done harm - both to others and also, I think, to ourselves. It's a fact. If we're lucky, we've made right in a timely fashion. Other times though, we haven't, and those are the places we need to revisit during this whole step nine business. What I'm struggling with is that I think I owe myself an amends. I need to apologize... to myself. Awkward.

In my experience, self harm can have a lot to do with lies. The lie could be anything from "you can't do that" to "you're not good enough" to "you're not enough, period." It's easy, when that voice is loud (and this is the part where things get harmy) to live like those lies are true. To say, "you're right, I can't do that." So I don't. "You're right, I'm not good enough." So I won't even try. "You're right, I'm not enough." So if I work hard enough, maybe I can DO enough to somehow BE enough. Which, if you've been there, you know just doesn't work. Because I would argue our worth isn't our own doing. The lies perpetuate.

There is a post on Stuff Christians Like called "Thinking You're Naked" and the first time I read it, it spoke to my soul. From Genesis 3:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She gave some to her husband and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" [Adam] answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Jon Acuff calls God's response one of the "saddest and most profoundly beautiful verses in the entire Bible":: 
"Who told you that you were naked?" 
Before this moment, naked wasn't really even a thing - not a bad thing, anyway. I think it's not insignificant that the very first thing that happens after their interaction with the serpent is that Adam and Eve are struck with the awareness (lie?) that how they are naturally is shameful, and that they must cover it up. Naked was how they came. It was all they knew how to be, and they had never felt the need to hide before that moment. Here is the sequence of events as I see it: they came into contact with the father of lies. As a result, their "eyes were opened" and they "realized" that what they were was bad, and they became ashamed. As a result, they hid from the Father who loved them. They (we) exchanged the truth for a lie, and it separated them (us) from God. Lies induce shame. Shame tells us we'd better cover up, and fast. And I just don't think we were created to live under wraps like that. God hears our shame, sees the lies we believe and asks, "Who told you that?" There is an implied second part, I think: "because it wasn't me." That is profoundly beautiful. The truth often is.

Back to the topic at hand: I owe myself an apology. For believing lies, for living out of the shame that the lies created and for allowing them to separate me both from the Father who loves me and from the freedom I think was intended for us. I owe myself amends for hiding out from the things that I was created for (connection, joy, freedom, worship) because I was afraid of what might happen if I let myself be naked (metaphorically speaking). The question is, how does one apologize to oneself? Do I take myself out for coffee? Write myself a letter? Offer to do my own laundry for a month? Buy myself a nice bottle of wine? A gift certificate for a mani/pedi? I've been toying with it for a while now and then the other night as I walked out of my Zumba class, it dawned on me. I was making amends with myself and I didn't even know it.

Every time I do something that opposes a lie, it's an amends.
Every time I say yes when something inside me screams, "you can't!! you can't!," it's an apology.
Every time I tell shame to shut the @!#$... well, you get the idea.

It'll look different for all of us probably. For me, so far, it looks like being honest regardless of the outcome. It looks like sharing my junk with someone I trust without fear of rejection. It maybe looks like writing something that makes me feel a little bit naked and not feeling like I need to cover it up because I know it's truth. And as silly as this may sound to you, it looks like letting myself go to a Zumba class and admitting that I love it. Good things.

And I know what I said before... but some of it's actually even kind of a little bit fun. 
Especially the part that involves shaking my booty on a bi-weekly basis.

January 7, 2011

the upsetting power of the party pic

I used to think that a party was only truly great if it produced approximately 267 pictures of me doing fun things and looking awesome with crazy people having a crazy time. In most of said pictures, my mouth is open and my hands are in some sort of rockstar positioning (that's my go-to). So many candid shots of us having a grand ol' time. Posed group shots where we're all laughing because right before the picture was taken someone said something hilarious. It may have been about the creepy guy who is consistently lurking just on the outskirts of our dance circle, but there'd really be no way of knowing. The next day, you'll put up a totally hilarious Facebook photo album and title it some crazy quote from around 2 AM the night before about crab walking down 16th street mall or something. (The other option is to call it something like, "best night everrrrrrrr" with extended consonants to fully get across to the Facebook world just how AWESOME the night really was. Without them, no one will believe you even had fun.) Honestly, I think the day-after-picture-upload-frenzy is sometimes more exciting than, in reality, the party/night really was. If we're being honest.

It's a high-pressure situation then, taking party pics. This is part of the reason that my wise friend Cristy and I have decided that Facebook is probably going to end up being the root cause for 98% of anxiety disorders. It used to be that you could go to a party, have fun, and maybe scam a photo double (I loved double prints so much) at a sleepover a few months later. Or, you could NOT go to a party, and easily not have a clue what went on or what Sheila wore or how much fun everyone had. NOW, not only do you have to a) look good b) have fun, but you also have to c) be careful and not wear the same outfit you wore to last weekend's party (even if it's with different people and it was a really cute outfit) because what if you are outed by the Facebook pics? and d) (the worst) deal with the repercussions of your actions the next day when undoubtedly someone has taken a highly unflattering picture of you on the dance floor at the Tavern with an 80 year old man (not that that's happened to anyone I know). And if you miss a party, well, get ready to be jealous, because we all looked hot and had the time of our lives. Serves you right for thinking you could get away with going to visit your grandparents for the weekend. We'll probably never have that much fun again, I mean, did you SEE how many consonants were in that photo album title?!

It has become highly unnatural what we know and see about each other's lives, yes? The stakes are so much higher now! With everything you do, every step you take, there is a high likelihood whatever it is will inevitably be immortalized until the end of time on the internets. It's no wonder we're anxious. But I digress.

We had a New Years Eve party, and I realized the next morning that I took exactly two pictures: one of Cristy and Lindsay trying desperately to make ugly ribbon look like decoration instead of trash (to no avail, sorry girls), and one of the infamous board which was hosting a "Midnight Kiss Sign-Up List" that we thought should be documented. After that, I took no more pictures. Not a one. I wasn't really even IN any pictures. All total, I was in two, and I've decided that's great. It was a fun party and we had crazy moments and things certainly happened that would be funny in a Facebook album, but now we can sleep easy at night with the knowledge that we had fun and leave well enough alone.

But I do have these two gems to remind me of the fun times we had. I like to call them, "BC" and "AC" which stands for "before & after champagne." You can say it, I'm very clever.

Before: Megan & the aforementioned Cristy sipping Champagne in fancy outfits that sparkle
aaaaaaaand After.

There you have it - a truly great party. I'm 265 pictures short of proving it, so you'll have to take my word for it.

January 3, 2011

oh-leven [2011]

I have a seriously screwy love/hate relationship with transitions. On the one hand, I am reeeeeally bad at them. Not my forté in any sense of the word. But in theory, I think they are delightful. Which is why I like the idea of New Year's resolutions. I like the idea that one year ends and a new one starts, and that in said new year I can do new things. I can make new choices and meet new people and be new myself, somehow. I like that. I think it's hopeful and sometimes when things are full of yuck it's nice to get to a new year where there is a possibility of less yuck. I mean goodness, along that same line of thought I even sometimes like Mondays. New weeks when old ones weren't great. Yes, technically, any day or even minute can have the same effect, I recognize this. But there is something neat and clean about a Monday transition. And even more neat and clean is a new year. Oh-leven. New and neat and clean. 

Given my natural bent toward irrationality, I can tend to put too much stock in that, though, and I never want to put too much pressure on something silly like a change of date. Because really, it's just a different day. Things may not change much, in reality, and not even in a bad way. More in a just-because-we-write-a-different-year-on-our-checks-doesn't-mean-our-lives-are-dramatically-altered kind of way. Seems logical.
Which is why I really don't like resolutions. In theory, delightful, but in practice, potentially disastrous. In the past I have viewed it as much like saying, "Hey, I have an idea - let's make a list of things I probably won't do this year, so that when the year is over, I have an actual, pre-written, physical checklist of reasons I suck." Perhaps a little dramatic, sure, but my point is NYR's can go one way or the other. That said, I went back just now and read my blog from New Years LAST year, and I am unexpectedly thrilled. I did not plan this. I swear to you. Check it: 
[in 2010] I will be freer, generally speaking.
Direct excerpt from my "Christmas Card" this year. Check it:
Despite the fact that life is not perfect, that I still don't have a job and I am still in transition and I still have a ton to figure out, I feel thankful to reach the end of 2010 and tell you... I am free-er than I have ever been.
And you know I didn't plan that, because if I had, I would have spelled free-er/freer the same both times. (The difference is driving me a little nuts actually. I would say I am uptight about a total of 3-5 things total in my entire life but one of them is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, spelling.) I am acutely aware as I read those words (all spelling issues aside) that there was no resolution I could have made to make that happen for myself.

My hope for us in oh-leven is pretty simple. I want to learn how to do free better. I want to do new things and make new choices and meet new people and live newly. I want to do more of the things that delight me, like investing in wonderful people, singing karaoke in my living room, and wearing red lipstick and crazy nail polish. Probably I will try to find a job and go to the gym more or read more books too, let's be honest. I'm not completely above resolutions. But mostly I want to enjoy the gift I have already been given and try to live from there. I want to rest in the truth and power of Jesus and live out of that, because that's the only place I've ever found freedom. I want to take risks, and I will only take risks if I am free. I've started practicing (it's hard and hurts a little, I will not lie to you, and I can't say yet that I love that) but I want to get better at it. 

Making freedom the goal for 2010 wasn't a resolution, it was a prayer. 
And I'm not achieving it, it's being given to me. 

happy New Year & happy Monday & happy 1:19 pm. Newness all around. Let's pray and take risks and be free and new. What do you say?