November 15, 2013

just for being the you-est you

There is a thing that happens, when you get to know a person. Something I have noticed.

I'm never sure just when it will be, which part of what makes it fun. Maybe I've known you for years or months or minutes, I can't be sure about that part either. But there will come a moment when you will come alive, right before my eyes. And it's certainly not that you weren't before, this is different. Because everyone has something[s] they are passionate about, things they love deeply, that will one day - without warning - overflow from themselves. And whether sooner or later, a moment will come when it will seem you could very nearly burst about that thing, whatever it may be. It's possible it will be a very ordinary seeming moment, to any unsuspecting onlookers. We'll share in knowing it was anything but.

In my experience you may not even realize it's happening at first, you will be so caught up in this thing that you love you will have very little awareness of me. Because this isn't about what I think. This isn't a show or a means to impress anyone, and I know because you speak freely and you may be a little sheepish after, like you've been caught doing something private, something intimate. And it will have been. You will have for just that moment forgotten the expectations you have of yourself, any you think I have of you, and been the most genuine you you could be. It will be irresistible.

It might be about your community or homeless people or Jesus or art or writing or your kid or fishing or cooking or a book you read or music or your family or your best friend in the world and maybe even me. I don't know what it will be and if I'd asked, you may not have either. It will likely be many things as I get to know you. These moments, they will come - each one as captivating as the last. And if I'm lucky, I will be privy to them. I will soak them in.

And you, just for being the you-est you you had it in you to be, will be loved.

I wrote this a long time ago and I couldn't decide if I wanted to post it or not, if people would understand what I was getting at in this sort of ambiguous observation. Then, one of my favorite artists/wordsmiths/story-tellers of all time, Brian Andreas of StoryPeople, who has a penchant for portraying my deepest emotions using a pen and paper and an Instagram account, posted this.

That. Exactly that.

November 1, 2013

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

[ee cummings]

October 1, 2013

a love letter to the month of October

I'd be remiss if I didn't note this as something I endorse that happens around October -

- but aside from my minor obsession with baking the perfect pumpkin cookie, I adore this particular month. Few things make me want to write in quite the same way October does.

Maybe it's the weather. I walk outside after sweating in my cardigan all day to find that the temperature has dropped nearly 30 degrees. I almost don't want to get hopeful, weather, you have toyed with my heart before. But soon, according to a forecast I almost never check unless I think maybe it will tell me that fall weather is coming, I get to wear fall clothes.

And oh, October attire is my favorite. It's chilly but not freezing, usually, and that is the happiest of mediums in my book. It's cozy. I get to pull out and pull on my scarves and sweaters and leggins' and boots, ohhhhhh boots. I don't like closed-toed shoes at all, honestly, but for boots I make an exception. I am all about a good boot.

Maybe also it is the activities. [I'm not even talking about Halloween, because my appreciation for playing dress up is more of a bonus here than anything else.] But how much more special and exciting is a cup of coffee in the morning when it not only nourishes my intense and overwhelming need for caffeination but also warms my hands and throat? Add to that a splash of peppermint mocha coffee creamer (sugar free, of course) which is only available around this time of year and I'm about done for. Pumpkin patches and hay rides and haunted corn mazes and looking at the leaves changing in the mountains. But it is more simple even than that - I get to watch movies and use extra blankets and I wear a jacket and shiver a little when I'm standing outside in the nighttime. It's something. I don't know why that feels almost romantic to me, but October, hello. You are all things romance.

And perhaps that is the thing: October is romantic. Not in a way like February where expectations are high and everyone is dopey and dewy-eyed but in a way that is sophisticated, even surprising. It's romantic in a way that is idyllic and exciting and mysterious. It's sunsets and colors and wrapping my scarf tighter and I have my hands in my pockets and all of a sudden I am hopeful. Is that weird? It might be. But probably if you think about it there's something that makes you feel that way too. And maybe it's weird, but maybe that's fine. I know I love October and I look forward to its coming. I will soak in all its autumn-ness until I think my heart might burst.

Then, well, then it is November, and it will surely bring its own excitements. But until then, I'll be here, baking and drinking coffee and wearing boots, madly in love with right here and now.

September 18, 2013

we're closer now than we've ever been

Once upon a time I participated with some of my fun-loving friends in an event called the Ugly Sweater Run, a 5k where tacky garb was the name of the game and a mustache was included in the actual race packet. Add that to the fact that the entry fee could be purchased through Groupon, and they were just plain speaking my language. I figured, sure I don't necessarily run, but how strenuous a race can it be if the finish line feeds right into a beer line? I remember asking my friends as we collectively bought the Groupons, how many Zumba classes do you think it takes to train for a 5k? We laughed, and no one really answered my question - I think assuming I was joking, which I was not - but whatever. I clicked purchase and hoped for the best.

It did end up being fun, I'll say that. I wouldn't say I was so much trained as I was vaguely in good enough shape to make my ponytail bounce for 3ish miles, but it all worked out. One of my dear pals, an encourager by birth, repeated something to us over and over, like a mantra, whilst we plodded along the path. Every few minutes she'd turn and say to us,

You guys. We're closer now than we've ever been.

I highly suggest including her in all of your future fitness endeavors if only to say that to you over and over. It was the best. First of all it made me laugh a lot, which maybe made the running part harder, but always a useful trick to getting through a thing which is working to sap you of all life and energy. And second of all, I mean, I don't know if you've ever run a 5k when you haven't run in over a... while, but it's not as easy as it sounds, and those 7 words were the ultimate comfort to me. I was determined to run as much as I could, so giving up wasn't an option. The only comfort to be found was that at any given moment, we were closer than we'd ever been.

Before I bring this beautiful metaphor full circle, let me say that I am fully aware life isn't quite as simple as a 5k. Mostly in that if you get lost or aren't sure what to do in the general life sense, there aren't typically arrows spray-painted on the sidewalk showing you where you need to turn. Sometimes those arrows can be pretty faded though, and in those cases maybe the analogy is a little stronger. Point being, I can't begin to tell you how much comfort there was in the sentiment of being farther than we'd ever been. We were moving forward, and that was enough. Sometimes that's all I've got. I'm farther today than I was yesterday. And that is something.

There may be times when I look back and see I was maybe spending some time moving backwards, or I may feel that for a while I was a bit more stagnant than I'd like. But for the most part, I'm moving, if slowly. And hopefully there are people in your life too, who when you are gasping for breath and wearing a flannel nightgown sinched at the waist by a fanny pack, will run right beside you and remind you as you go, 

Hey. You're farther now than you've ever been.

At which point you will pick up the pace (if but for a moment, meanwhile swearing up and down you will attend more Zumba classes per week from now on), and keep on keeping on.

And here's some bonus advice, on the house:

Surround yourself with people who not only encourage you, but who make you laugh a lot, especially when stuff is hard. If you're anything like me, you'll also need people who will appreciate how funny it is when in your exhaustion you pull your reindeer hat over your face and put aviators on it. Or at the very least, people who will stick by your side in spite of it.


August 7, 2013

take a deep breath

original post here, reposted because today I needed it.

I have stated before, as a professional, that sometimes people need help that isn't. So it should come as no surprise to you that one of my very favorite therapeutic techniques is not something I learned in school, but rather something my mom taught me when I was just a wee tot.

And that, my friends, is to take a deep breath.

Often I will sit with a client who is upset and I will stop the proverbial presses until they agree take deep breaths with me. They'll refuse, or say they can't, and much like my mother did with me when I would fall into hysterics on the reg, I wait. I take deep breaths and wait for them to join me. And before we know it, like magic, they're breathing. It always works. For the moment at least, panic has passed, all thanks to a simple deep breath. It's very effective. I highly recommend it.

I know it's effectiveness from experience because when I stress, I don't breathe. Literally. It's as if I believe things are so fragile that even the tiniest gust from within me could bring it all crashing down. If I can just hold it in another second, I think, I will still be in control. In my scariest and most fragile moments I will often find myself physically struggling for air. Trying desperately, pitifully to remain in control; and unsure of the last time I allowed myself a breath.

Once not long ago, during a particularly frantic time in my life, I had a serious not-breathing moment while I was at church. In an attempt to not make a scene, I tracked down a friend I knew would be able to handle me, and she helped me calm down. She [recognizing that I wasn't] told me to breathe, and I did a little - just enough so I could go back and work at the food bank like I was supposed to. I took a deep breath and held it, so as to regain control, confirm my composure, and try to keep the whole thing from crashing down again. At least for another hour.

Almost immediately when I walked into the other room, this darling little nugget of a girl ran to greet me. I scooped her up, and as she sometimes does when I don't see her for a while, she began to reminisce on our relationship. I like this about her. It's like she remembers she loves me, but a few weeks have passed, so she has to remind herself why. I like it because she's cute and it's fun to listen to her process, but also because as the list of memories she is compiling gets longer, her hugs get tighter and her face gets brighter and it's just about the best and most affirming gift a person could ever get.
As she played with my necklace, she recounted the Valentine she made for me, the craft box I gave her and what she made with the stuff inside it, her birthday party, when she had dinner at my house that one time. And then, as if she'd just uncovered the best treasure she could imagine, she pointed to the exact spot on the couch where once, many months ago, she had sobbed, and where together we had taken deep breaths. She said as she pointed, you taught me how to exhale! It caught me a little off guard but I said yes, that was me, and she threw her arms around my neck. Thank you for teaching me, she said in a tiny voice. Now I can do it even when you're not there.

I don't want to get caught up in semantics, but I feel confident I never used the word exhale with a 5 year old. That was her word. And in that moment, holding all my breath in, her word made all the difference. It was like something in Violet's tender little soul knew there was something I'd forgotten, something she needed to teach me right back.

So I exhaled. It took about the rest of the day to do it, but I did. I took a deep breath, exhaled, took another. That night I thought, when I wake up in the morning, I'll do it again. And again after that. I've been breathing ever since, in fact.

Things may be fragile, but in my experience, holding one's breath isn't a very effective method of control. Because, you see, we are humans who require air. And I am so thankful, so very desperately grateful, for people who remind me to breathe. Who give me permission to to quit holding it in, to breathe all over them, and can handle it when I do. Who will sit with me, patiently, presses proverbially stopped, until I agree to exhale.

Because sometimes? Sometimes it's all you can do. Take a deep breath. Then take another.

August 1, 2013

on what it's like to miss Jesus

I'm an extrovert. Have been since the beginning of this life, as I know it. I've told this story before, I know, but when approaching the playground in my new neighborhood at around age 3, I am said to have exclaimed, "Look at all those kids! They're going to be so happy to meet me!" So I mean, it just kind of is what it is.

As such, I've always been the type of person who has maintained a solid array of friendships at any given time. Sure, as I've gotten older and somewhat removed, at least by distance, those relationships have changed and altered somewhat, but I've always been sort of an overachiever about it. And I try. I really do. I work so hard to not get flakey, and believe you-me, it's easy for me to veer in that direction. With what I like to think are really, really good intentions, it is a regular occurrence for me to over-commit, double-book, and end up not getting everywhere I want, when I want.

Another trick about being me is I'm not terribly organized. I rely heavily on myself to write down anything and everything that needs to be remembered in a place I can trust I will think to look again. I can be a little oblivious about the details, as it were. This means when it comes to maintaining this level of social activity, I have had to learn the importance of nailing down hard dates and times, and to have a calendar to write it down in immediately as the plan is made. If I leave an interaction with "oh yeah we should definitely hang out sometime!" or "we'll be in touch!" it's not that I don't want to see you, it's not that I don't value who you are, but there's a good to very good chance we definitely won't hang out or be in touch in any kind of timely fashion. (To be fair, I have lots of friends who are better at this than me, and for them I am eternally grateful. I also have a lot of other ENFP pals, though, so basically our lasting friendships are doubly impressive.)

In church a while back, in a discussion about prayer, my pastor suggested scheduling time for it. He detailed for us his prayer "schedule" - the times during the day he sets aside to pray, and he compared it to maintaining healthy relationships. He made a comparison I related to easily, as it is basically exactly what I just said to you about keeping up with people I care about. Essentially, if not a little dramatically, I have to force myself be organized in order to keep my relationships alive. But I have a harder time with that when it comes to my prayer life, and, by extension, my relationship with Jesus. It's always seemed to me that loving Jesus should automatically override all of my natural inclinations (ha!) - that having to schedule or pencil in God had to be on a list of "don'ts" somewhere. I mean, right?

So to back up a tick, it's not that if we don't have a scheduled plan I won't ever see you again - because eventually, I'll miss you. And maybe I should be embarrassed to say this - but I realized last night I miss Jesus. In just the same way I miss my friends when I begin to feel disconnected from them during the summer when we're all gone and busy and our schedules are all screwy. It's not that I believe God's been vacationing on opposite weekends amidst my busy summer schedule. It's that I've failed to make the time and effort and calendar-solid plans I know are necessary to properly engage in the level of relationship I want.

I often joke that invitations are my love language, but it's a little bit true. One of the ways that I feel the best loved, the most cared for, is in pursuit. I love to be invited. I love to be pursued for my time and my company and I try (really) to pursue people I love in similar ways. I haven't been doing a great job of pursuing time with Jesus. It's always been hard for me to conceptualize that Jesus is pursuing me, always. And if we're being honest, as a result, sometimes I can be a real flake about it.

I was feeling lonely. And worried. And anxious. I felt sad, a little, and I wasn't even very sure why. Which is when I realized what (who) I was missing. I realized, sort of abruptly, that I was longing for an invitation. Even more abruptly I realized it was one that was already being extended to me.

As I write this, and ok as I cry a fair amount about it because hellooo I am the queen of emotions, I can't even decide what example I want to use for this concept of a standing invitation, simply because there are so many. But probably because I was reading some Jon Acuff today, I am stuck on the parable of the lost son. I am stuck on the image of a father who, while his son is still a long way off, sees him and is filled with compassion for him, runs to him, throws his arm around him, kisses him.

The father throws a full-on freaking party, in fact. All because his kid who was gone (frankly, because he was being a big flakey loser) has accepted what was, quite apparently, an open invitation to come home.

Yes please.

July 24, 2013

no but seriously, what do I do now?

Six years ago in August, I moved to Denver. Look at me, so young and unassuming. Hanging out in my grown up apartment, using the photobooth feature on my new MacBook. I'm sure it was later at night than I am able to stay up nowadays. There I was, in all my 22 year old glory, adulthood staring me in the face, deciding to start a blog, and ready to take on the crazy world - starting, of course, with myself.

I just can't believe it's been six years. I mean, I was fine then. I knew some stuff about stuff. I was kind of into running for the only time in my life I can say that about, so that's something. Mostly I look at that picture of me with the sort-of-brown hair I rocked for a hot minute and I can't believe it's the same blonde Zumba-fanatic I am today.
A lot can happen in six years of adult(ish)hood.

Not long ago I found out that after 6 years, a delightful medley of schooling/ having jobs/ excessive amounts of paperwork, I am officially licensed. I have letters after my name. Six of them!(!) I am a licensed counselor of both the professional and addictions varieties, which is exciting. But the thing that's weird about it is that's it. When I started the counseling program at Denver Seminary six years ago, this right here was the end goal. LPC, LAC. Done & Done.

We've now reached the point in the show where I freak out a little because when you're done THEN WHAT? Accomplishing a goal is weird in that on the one hand, I'm super proud of that nameplate. When after weeks of checking online every single day (sometimes more than once) to see if my applications had gone through it finally said "APPROVED," I did an actual dance in victorious delight. But then, of course, I panicked. Because this is the thing I've been waiting for before I do the next thing. But I never was really quite sure what the next thing would be, and oops, I'm still not. So.

It's funny, because I'm pretty easy going and comfortable not knowing a lot of detail the majority of the time, but in this case, I really super hate it. A whole new world of professional possibilities is before me and I have no idea which one of them I want to be doing, yet. I guess this is one of those situations where I have a choice. I can hole up in a veritable psychotic episode of panic and indecision, or I can take a deep breath, be proud of where I am, keep on keeping on, and see what happens.

Since the obvious choice is the latter, let's refocus on the positive with a recap: six years of finally knowing cardinal directions because the mountains are always West. Three hundred (and one!) blog posts. Two apartments, two houses, a million roomies, and one tiny place of my very own (if you don't count the zombies). Two and a half years of grad school, one and a half years of weird half-jobs, two years of a real one, and six letters after my name hanging outside my office. Countless: people I love, jars of Mod Podge, losses to grieve, awesome stuff to celebrate, experiences that sucked but I learned something anyway, etc and so on and so forth forever & ever amen. All of it brings us to my happy little life, today. And I may not be able to stay awake when I start a movie after 9 PM anymore, but at least I can still do this:
Not to brag.

So what do I do now? There'd be no way of knowing. Which is totally exciting or something.

June 13, 2013

we're lake people

I don't like to stereotype, but I think you can pretty well categorize people by the kinds of vacations they go on. There are people who ski, who spend their spring breaks in Breckenridge and their Christmas bonuses on goggles and poles. There are people who spend long weekends at resorts in Mexico, who buy sarongs and wide brimmed hats and have jewels on their sandals. There are people who just want to park their mobile homes in your driveway for a few days on their way to Niagara falls. I hear there are even people who just like roadtrips, belting out Springsteen as they blaze down the highway, nothing but open road ahead of them. There are people who camp, hike, backpack and those people, well, they're tougher than me. People do all kinds of different things for pleasure. And sometimes we branch out, yknow, to broaden our horizons and whatnot, but for the most part people seem to gravitate back toward their own vacation kind. I am of an interesting breed myself, always have been and always will be --

I am lake people.

Lake people are a lovely kind of people to be, I think, and vary quite greatly in terms of their non-lake living. Some of us actually live on lakes, sure, others go for weekends, others once a summer, etc. We come from all different walks and places and lifestyles [mostly midwestern], but at the lake, we are the same. And while this does not go for all lake people, people who go to lakes are probably pretty average on weekdays. They probably go to a job and are productive members of society, most days, but when it's time to go to the lake? Things shift in a big, delightful, borderline trashy way. We transform. We become lake people.

Maybe you wear a suit every day to work, but the ones who are lake people can also wear a swimsuit and nothing but for a straight week and not flinch. No shoes, no shirt, no service? Sorry, that's a dealbreaker. Drinking during the day at home may be unheard of, but at the lake? If you're awake, I'd say it's fair game. Children are wilder and adults let looser and teenagers dream of the day they'll be allowed to go to party coves and take Sea-Doo rides with the boys from the boat next dock (who they also plan on marrying, one day). Lake people don't worry about showering - on a day we're feeling particularly fancy we might bring some soap down to the dock. Lake people don't get upset when they accidentally have a cocktail too many in the afternoontime and end up using the dog's brush on their hair. Lake people eat dinner at 10pm and still wake up early to ski before the rookies come out. Lake people have not a care in the world aside from when do the fireworks start and do you think we have enough bratwurst?

As you know I am a girl of many families, but one thing we all share is a common acceptance that we are lake people. It's something I get from both sides, and thank goodness for it. Since I live farther than is drivable to any of the lakes we frequent, I don't get to go as much, but I am always thankful for the ease with which I slink back into my easy breezy lake self. Give me a speed boat, a cooler full of cocktails, some jorts, and a bottle of sunscreen and I'll be happy for days. Add some smutty mags and a couple whips around the lake on a tube and I'll be downright giddy. Maybe I'll lake bathe [i.e. suds up/rinse off in the lake] once. Maybe I won't. It's fine. We're lake people. We can handle getting a little filmy for a few days.

I was lake people all weekend, in fact, but now I am back; wearing a dress and washing my hair, putting on makeup and being professional. But it doesn't mean I won't morph right back into the same kinda trashy, jorts-wearing, dog-brush-using, day-drinking, tubing-even-though-it-hurts-me, lake-loving fool when I get in sight of the water again. Give me a good fireworks show, put a cocktail in my hand, and color me delighted. We're lake people. We don't need much more than that.

If you're curious about finding lake people outside of lakes, there are ways. They can often be spotted singing karaoke [this, in my experience, is a big tell], hanging out in dive bars, sitting in the Rockpile at Rockies games, shopping at Walmart, wearing Corona t-shirts, talking about wakeboarding, and frequenting the frozen drink and encased meat sections of the grocery store.

May 24, 2013

and go be it

A lovely recurring thing about adulthood, for me, is that I learn. I learn a lot, and I learn often. You see, in my lifetime, I have believed a lot of things that are not true. I said to someone recently that I feel like lately I just sit back and watch the things I've mistakenly believed to be hard and fast facts of life pop like bubbles right before my very eyes. It is at once the most liberating and terrifying experience of my life to date, and I mean that with the utmost sincerity.

Yesterday while I was walking to the grocery store a few blocks from my house, I stopped at these flowers to marvel at just how quaint my little life was, right there in that moment. And as I stood there, in awe that such perfect colors exist in nature, just steps from my back door, something occurred to me.

Since I was but a wee tot, I think I have struggled with the belief that the things I wanted to be would come naturally to me. I don't mean that boastfully, like I assumed I would just be good at everything - because I can assure you I sacrificed any confidence I had in my "natural abilities" to middle school athletics a long time ago. This is more the thought that I would be certain ways and not others by no choice of my own. I know that sounds weird, but bear with me. A simple example would be that I am not a morning person. At all. In any way. So I would think, oh, I wish I was a morning person. But alas I am not, so I must push the snooze once more. Woe is me. The reality is, if I was serious about being a morning person, it would take a lot of work. It would take days, weeks, of setting 25 different alarms every morning until one day I finally woke up on time. It's possible. Though I'll be honest, not probable in any kind of immediate time frame.

I remember the first time it occurred to me that I could be whatever I chose to be. I was looking in a magazine and I thought, oh, I wish I was a person who could pull off red lipstick and it occurred to me that I COULD BE IF I WANTED. And I did. So I was. Have been ever since, in fact. Liberation and terror abound.

Which brings us to yesterday: I think I've been in a teensy little bit of a funk lately. One where I am very tired from working with difficult people all day long so I come home and my natural inclination is to drink wine and watch Netflix until I eventually fall asleep. Now, that's all well and good once in a while, but for me that's not a super healthy pattern to get into. I don't want to be that person. So instead, last night when I got home, I walked to the grocery store near my house with a cute yellow reusable bag I have and bought a spaghetti squash and some other things I'd been wanting to cook and I stopped to look at flowers and then I walked back home. It was lovely, and I realized as I looked at those very flowers that I was not a slave to my funk. I had gone against my natural inclination and done something that in the moment had not seemed all that genuine to my immediate desires, and somehow it wasn't disingenuous. In fact, just right then and there, I had chosen quaint and lovely [with a little more effort] over funky and mopey [which would have been easy-breezy]. It had taken some work on my part, but I was being what I wanted to be.

Is it always this simple? Heavens, no. There are about a million other factors in this life to contend with than just choosing to have one quaint evening instead of a funky one, chemical imbalances and whatnot. Even to sustain this one little thing I'll have to make the same choice again tomorrow, and the day after that and the one after that too, which is a little exhausting to think about, if we're being honest. But practice makes perfect. I can be whatever I want to be. It may not come naturally. I may have to work at it. But the great part is, I get to choose. And that's at least kind of fun.

All in all, I think my musical boyfriends the Avett Brothers say it best:

If you need me I'll be here, wearing red lipstick and sleeping through my alarm and walking to the store and cooking spaghetti squash and doing lots of other glamorous activities I have busting the seams of my iCal in order to build the life I want to live.

Be whatever you want to be. Be liberated and terrified. I highly recommend it.

May 10, 2013

glass slippers

She grew up watching Cinderella. It was the first movie she ever saw in a theater, a musical she performs often on road trips, one she's watched far beyond an acceptable age to do so, one she can't wait to show her daughter, someday. She still hums that song every once in a while, she'll catch herself: in dreams you will lose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep...

She'd imagined, once upon a time, that being a grown-up was something like this; hoping secretly that adulthood looked like whirlwind romance, twirling through meadows, and breaking into song at every turn. Certainly, she grew out of this dream in it's fullness. She accepted that she would likely not be rescued from a tower or dressed by squirrels in a forest every morning and the like. Those were realities she could handle. But like any little girl who's grown up might admit to you in a moment of vulnerable truth-telling, one doesn't fully let go of wanting to be Cinderella. The dream changes over time, of course. But well into adulthood, in my experience, a little bit of your heart still believes that it's possible, one day, to feel like Cinderella again.

She is a full-on grown up now, with a job and bills and a retirement account and a dentist she found all on her own. She walks through a mall, mindlessly, on an evening with potential for loneliness. She is thinking it would be nice to have something new, pretty. And with full awareness that there are life necessities like rent and car insurance to be paid, she steps cautiously into her favorite store, which on a good day she can neither a) afford or b) resist. She saunters back to the sale room, nonchalantly touching dresses on the way, trying not to get attached. She peruses candles, aprons, pillows, and a smattering of accessories thrown haphazardly into a tub, when something shiny catches her eye.

It is perfection, in a shoe. Unique, delicate, flashy, and stylish - with a sensible heel. One pair left.

Cautiously she reaches for them, they appear to be an appropriate size, she is certain she could not be so lucky. Sliding one on to her foot, her breath catches as her heel slides perfectly into the back of the shoe.

Suddenly she is overcome with a feeling that transports her back to a time much simpler than this one; she is running out the front door, tripping a little as she kicks off a patent-leather shoe for a particularly participatory uncle to retrieve. He chases her down the driveway, she slows theatrically, just a little short of breath because her favorite part comes next. He stops in front of her and places the shoe over a ruffled sock on her tiny foot. As always, a perfect fit. She felt special. Pursued. Fancy. Loved. Happy.

It's not that she doesn't know it's a bit silly - this stupid pair of shoes tucked back in a sale room for half of half the price in exactly her size and style - for this to be an impactful moment in her life. It seemed she had forgotten for a moment - but on a lonely Wednesday evening in a sale room, all at once, she is special, pursued, fancy, loved, happy as she ever was. A little girl, grown up - a whole world of possibilities ahead of her - and a sparkly pair of shoes to wear as she faces whatever comes next.

April 11, 2013

here's to another year of exactly this

I haven't been blogging a lot lately. I've been busy, that's true. Plus now it's April which is the best because around the middle comes the day of the year on which I usually can convince anyone to sing any karaoke duet I want. Anyway, lots going on. I thought about doing a super braggy post about all the cool stuff I've been up to, and posting a bunch of pictures with cool hipster filters on them to depict for you how busy and important [and also cool] I have been being lately. Sure, I planned on doing that.

So last night, after I watched Sleepless in Seattle and ate a lime popsicle because it's my birthday week and I do what I want, I went to scroll through the photos on my sparkly little iPhone to find some cool stuff to braggily post up in here to shove all my cool happenings in your face.

What I found was a reality check.

I've been real busy, you guys. Reeeeeal busy indeed. This is one of my prouder achievements, really.

All lush-itude aside, I think back on each of those little punches to the people who came to my tiny doll-sized apartment to sit around and chat and wine [never whine] with me, drinking champagne and getting facials with the zombie statues who live in my backyard, Netflix nights, spending time with my cute dater, episodes of the Bachelor made that much better, singing 90's sitcom themes, laughing and laughing and dancing and singing and celebrating and coping. My growing cork collection and full punch card makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world, to be walking through life with you truly wonderful human beings. And also walking, together, from my doll-house to the Wine Seller.

With that free bottle - whatever it may be - I will toast to each of you. To another year of exactly this.

March 28, 2013

reflections on a holy week

I love my church because I'm consistently doing things that
1. are awesome but
2. make me wildly uncomfortable

Case in point: Maundy Thursday.

I didn't actually know what that service entailed until about this time last year when I got there and learned that we, as a congregation, would be washing one another's feet. I was sitting with a friend, so there was no stranger danger [you know, when you're in danger of having to touch a stranger's foot], but still I was sweating it a little. It wasn't that I didn't want to touch her feet, because I felt confident her foot hygiene was fine, and I didn't think she'd judge my washing techniques. What made me nervous was letting another person hold my feet in their hands. I wasn't prepared. I hadn't had a pedicure in months, but unless I made a run for it, this was going to happen despite my chipped nail polish and calloused heels. The thing about our feet is that give away where we've been. In order to get anywhere our feet have to take us, so at the end of a day, our feet have on them all the mess of a day we lived and sinned in. And that's a scary thing to put in the hands of another person.

I tried to put myself in the position of the disciples on that night when Jesus knelt before them and took their feet in his hands. I tried to imagine the panic that the disciples must have felt when they prepared to have their dirtiest part examined, up close and personal, by their leader, their savior, their mentor. I imagine their thoughts were similar to mine. Suddenly I get why Simon Peter flipped out a little, tried to refuse. He wasn't ready. He hadn't prepared. Had he known Jesus would be washing his feet that night, maybe he would have walked more carefully on his way over. Maybe he would have avoided that one place where things tend to get especially messy. I thought of how I approach Jesus all the time - prepared, prettied, primped. Ready to go. Looking my Sunday best. Hoping maybe he won't pick up on the real, true, hot mess that is me.

But regardless of their lack of preparation, Jesus took their feet and washed them of the mess of the day. And in so doing, I think he sent a very clear message to the disciples (and by extension, to me): I know. I know the very messiest parts of your mess. I know where you've been. And I know what I'm doing. Then he instructed them to do the same for each other. It was a symbol of humility, of service, yes. But I think it's also a call for vulnerability in community.

At our Good Friday service the following day, we were given the opportunity to write down any sins we felt convicted of and nail it onto a giant wooden cross near the altar. [Revisit the above checklist for my feelings on this.] I thought up the parts of myself of which I'm most ashamed, and I scribbled them quickly, carefully, onto the paper. I approached the cross, praying no one would see what I'd written, and I remember thinking, my sin is too great. My list is too long. There's no way Jesus can cover this much. And there's no way, if Jesus had known what I would be doing, how I would betray and deny and doubt him, he would have done this for me. The previous day's thoughts began circling in my head as I put together the pieces.

I wonder if it's not exactly what he was saying when he washed the disciples' feet. Jesus knew full well how awful you and I would be. He knew he would be betrayed and denied by the very men whose actual feet he washed. And God sacrificed Christ that we might be saved in spite of it. Jesus saw their feet. He held them in his hands. He knew their messiest, dirtiest, most shameful places. He knew, and he gave his life anyway.

For the season of Lent, we purposefully omit my favorite part of the liturgy of my church [which, for the record, 1. is awesome and 2. no longer makes me uncomfortable]. At the end of service every Sunday, we mimic the action of throwing stuff at the cross. It's the best. Our pastor says the "all of our..." part, and then all together we say the rest, while I nearly throw my shoulder out sending them in the direction of the cross:

All of our problems - we send to the cross of Christ
All of our sins - we send to the cross of Christ
All the devil's works - we send to the cross of Christ
And all of our hopes - we set on the risen Christ

Sunday, finally, we will throw things again. Sunday is Easter and Easter is my favorite because it means that we are saved. We are free. We are loved. We have a place to throw our junk and a place to set our hopes. We have a Savior who loves to wash us clean and we have a community of believers to be our messy selves in. We get grace and mercy and all kinds of wonderful gifts we didn't earn and don't deserve.

Every year around this time, I get this song stuck in my head for days and days:

To make a wretch his treasure.
Me. A wretch. His treasure.


original: here

March 20, 2013

an open letter of apology on behalf of adolescent girls everywhere

Dear Mom,

Hello, hi. It's not been long since last we talked, but I just want to take a moment to say some things to you. If I may. It's about the times we rarely speak of - when I was... well, adolescent. 

See, I was in Target just the other day, minding my own business, browsing through the clothing, when I happened upon this mother and daughter, shopping together. The daughter, on the low end of her teens, was shopping for bras; certainly a sensitive venture in and of itself, but they seemed to be faring alright. They were bantering a little about brands, basically, what the girl wanted vs. what mom was willing to spend. Nothing too spectacular. I smiled a little as I listened to them go back and forth, even thought fondly about shopping with you, way back when, bickering at Kohls about how I'd rather be at Abercrombie. I walked into the dressing room to try on my items and promptly forgot about them, stepping back into my own little daze.

Oh but see, they followed me, back there to those dressing rooms. I recognized their voices and I noticed their presence, still focused more on my own current tastes than anything they were doing. I tried on a dress, pretty cute, a little long. I tried on one of those peplum shirts I always think I'm going to like and never do, remembered I don't like them, took it off. It was around this time, however, that their presence in my midst became relatively impossible to ignore.

For the love of all that is good and holy, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Mom, for ever being that age, for ever using that tone, for ever screaming at you in a dressing room, because I know I did. Initially I was irritated - I wished they would take their brawl elsewhere so I could enjoy the serenity of the Target fitting rooms in peace. Then I was amused, for about a hot second, before my amusement was quickly replaced with something alarming and utterly distressing - like a ton of bricks it hit me - I was that girl. Like a PTSD flashback, all of a sudden it wasn't Arielle who was yelling, but me. I cringed, nearly fell to the ground in a dramatic heap of shame, certainly as red as the walls around me.

As a full-on therapist nowadays, I know that girl is (as I was) ridden with angst and body image issues and embarrassment and a whole gamut of things that, as a counselor, as a woman, I have empathy for. I possess that awareness, now. She (and adolescent me, by extension), on the other hand, did not. She just yelled and screamed and "UGH WHATEVER MOM YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ME 'd" until she was, I can only imagine, blue in the face; and even that didn't stop her from continuing to be the actual most horrible.

While normally in these types of situations I find assurance - yknow, certain job security for my whole life long (God help me) - what I felt in this particular moment was an uncontrollable urge to apologize to you. And to my other family members, parents specifically, certainly you were not spared from my reign of terror, not clear from my path of destruction - though not necessarily dressing-room specific - to you I extend heartfelt apologies as well. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for any family vacations I may have ruined, any trips to the mall or the movies or a restaurant I may have taken a proverbial crap on with my hormones, angst, and changing-body anxiety. On behalf of teenage girls everywhere, to everyone, in fact: I'm sorry. I will work my whole life to repent for the atrocity of my behavior at fifteen. I will be a freaking delight for the remainder of my years and even then my debt may not be paid. But I'll die trying.

This may seem like sarcasm, but having been privy to Arielle's Target meltdown, I can assure you, it is genuine [and maybe just slightly hyperbolized for the sake of entertainment, but who's counting]. There may be no degree of apology, in reality, to repair the trauma of being close to an adolescent girl. But that's why I wrote you this letter, so you could feel affirmed and validated in a public forum. Much like the ones I used to yell at you in. See what I did there?

So in closing, I'm sorry for all the dressing rooms in which I am certain you were mortified as unsuspecting bystanders in their late 20's stood by in horror while I screamed at you.

But also? I still don't really see why we couldn't have just gone to Abercrombie.



For those of you reading at home who are not my mother/other parents, this is me in the very beginning of my adolescent years. I know what you're thinking - how could a girl in such stylin' short-alls be such a pain in the a-money-money? I'm as confused as you are. Seriously. Look how hard I rocked those short-alls.

March 15, 2013

romance, where I am

Last weekend I rode a train.

I've ridden a train once or twice in my lifetime, I think, but it certainly isn't my typical mode of transport. I didn't even so much realize trains were still a thing, except I was pretty sure I'd heard my brother talk about taking them sometimes when he lived in Chicago. But when my plans to drive to the mountains last Saturday were seemingly foiled by a snow storm [which really didn't end up being all that storm-y, but whatever], I booked myself a seat on the Amtrak. I set off that Saturday morning in the snow, unsure of pretty much everything about train-travel, filled with as much nervous excitement as I could muster before 8 am.

I will enjoy almost anything that makes me feel like I'm a character in a novel, and this was exactly that feeling. I was given a ticket at the station [on which my assigned car was written by hand!], located my designated seat on the aforementioned car, and sat down. The conductor, a jokey old man wearing the hat and everything, came by to check my ticket and wish me a nice ride. I heard: Breakfast is being served in the Dining Car, just three cars back before the Sleeping Car! as it was announced over a tinny loudspeaker and I about thought I'd died and gone to heaven. As the train pulled away from the station, whistling just like in the movies [Taffeta, darling...], leaving Denver behind us and heading off into the snowy tundra, it felt as though somehow I'd managed to step back in time. I knew when I arrived at my stop there would still be iBooks and iMessage and eTrade and all that other stuff that makes the world go 'round, but for those delightful couple hours, I was somewhere else entirely. In a glamorous version of my very own life, I was taking a train into the mountains.

It is well known among my contemporaries that I am a lover of old things. I could listen to Dean Martin all day long. I could watch only black and white movies and be satisfied. I prefer handwritten correspondence and real-life books to e-mails and e-books and whatever other e-things are replacing paper nowadays. This is not to say I don't appreciate my iPhone [etc.], because I do. I am as in touch with modern technology as the next person, but there is just something so inextricably romantic about these old things, the classics, the vintage, the antiques, I can't help but hold on to them. This struck me on my train ride; I more or less live knee-deep in romanticism. Where I spent years believing I am not some sappy romantic, avoiding the word wherever possible - it's exactly what I am. Turns out one can't simply avoid it. Sometimes romance finds you right where you are.

Now, this is not to say I've harbored some aversion to romance all these years; I just didn't understand it properly. Because the thing about romance I think goes unnoticed is it's not just the stuff of those icky Harlequin novels you find in the awkward book aisle at King Soopers. It's not only candlelit dinners and walks on the beach and whatever other stereotypes you'd like to call in, though it certainly can be - I don't mean to pigeon-hole the term to either end. But romance is also a sort of a mysteriousness, a  strange kind of beauty, adventurous and fascinating. It's watching a spectacular fireworks display. It's sitting in the back of a quiet house-turned-cafe, sipping a glass of wine. It's sitting on the top of a car way out on the dirt part of Andover Road, drinking limeade and looking up at an endless, starlit sky. It's going off on a jet ski all alone on a particularly quiet day with nothing but the sound of the wind whipping in your ears, an occasional splash of water in your face.

It's riding on a train through the snow up a mountain. And if there happens to be a cute boy to meet you at the station, I mean, it certainly doesn't hurt. Oh, and if there happens to be an unexpected actual fireworks display that evening? [!] As I waited at the tracks to board the train home the next day, writing the whole thing in my head, I felt thankful. Amused, almost, to be standing at these tracks, writing about romance like it was just another word I could throw around, now.

But like I said. Sometimes it just finds you where you are.

February 14, 2013

look, I made a valentine

I mean, that's kind of the dream, right*? Love me on the good days, sure, when I'm all dolled up and well-mannered and wearing pink because it's the holiday of love and all that. Love me then, sure. But also, love my junk. Love my crap. Be crazy about the stuff that isn't pretty or clean or tied up in a neat little bow. Don't tolerate it, or accept it reluctantly, or cross your fingers I will change with proper training. Valentine's Day is nice because it celebrates love, but it's tricky because everyone works so hard to make it good-looking, at least for today. And it's nice to feel good-looking, to get all dolled up for a minute, maybe many minutes; maybe on more days than it doesn't, your love looks really good. But if you can't hang with it when it's not good-looking, well, I can't hang with it when it is. Because that's what real love is. Love of any kind, really. It is without condition.

Just as strong and crazy and can't-keep-your-hands-off-y on laundry day as it is on Valentine's Day.


February 8, 2013

The Well

[I wrote this a while back about the food pantry where I spend my Sundays. I have been feeling especially thankful for this place, of late, and it felt like a good time to post this little ditty bragging on the community I call mine. Come see us.]

It was a sweaty Sunday a few Augusts ago when I walked down into the basement of Wellspring Church to The Well food pantry to volunteer for the first time. I probably could’ve counted on one hand the number of homeless people I’d interacted with in my life up to that point. But through a strange chain of events that I can only attribute to our funny God, there I was, about to sit down and pray about I had no idea what with someone I’d never laid eyes on before and who similarly had never laid eyes on me. I didn’t know what I was doing, what to say, or how to be. I didn’t know what it was like to be hungry or homeless or really even in need. But like I said – there I was. I took a deep breath, pretended I knew what I was doing, and prayed one day I would.
I came down the stairs that first time because I thought I could help. Oh Jesus, you are bigger than even our very best intentions. I will never not be thankful for that.
And since that first day, I have seen wonderful things. There was one woman in particular I prayed with regularly for a long time. I will never forget, after weeks of praying for his heart to soften, the day she came in beaming to tell me that she’d just sat in church for the first time with her husband. Or the day a man who couldn’t get a job to save his life came in practically giddy to tell me he finally had an interview. Or the day a woman who only a year ago was living in an abusive home, desperately miserable, came back after several months and said, her prayers answered, “I’m so happy.” 
As an “interviewer,” I get to do what I like to do the very best: talk to people. Talk and listen and pray. It’s a little counter-intuitive for me, though, because I like to have answers. I like for there to be a neat little bow tied at the end of everything, but I quickly found I wouldn’t get that here. The ugly truth of the matter is that some days, it feels like too much. Some days I am speechless because a 9-year old girl is here by herself getting groceries for her family. Or a man my dad’s age is holding my hands and weeping because he hasn’t spoken to his children in years. Or I meet with 13 people in a row who can’t find jobs and aren’t sure where they’ll sleep tonight. Some days the world is so overwhelmingly not good that things can start to feel hopeless, and I don’t have a bow to tie on that. And yet even on those days, even then, I am continually amazed by the faith and strength and even joy of the people sitting across from me. Because the world may not always be good, but God is. In the direst of circumstances, that truth remains a promise.
The Well is a food pantry. But it doesn’t stop at just meeting people’s physical need to eat food – it’s about transformation. Prayer isn’t just about answers – although often we see them, and it’s amazing – it’s about the changing of hearts. Recovery, over time. And sometimes, yes, it’s about sitting still in heartache and addiction and suffering and holding hands with grown men while they cry. It’s about hope when things feel hopeless because while the world isn’t good, Jesus is. In the messiest story, the dirtiest past, the saddest circumstance, there is hope. Fixing problems and tying bows may be quick and pretty, but it’s nothing compared to messy, beautiful, new life in Christ.
The Well taught me that. And I will probably never be the same because of it.

January 31, 2013

ain't nobody got time for that

You all know by now that I like - nay, love - Zumba.  It is the self care-iest thing I do for myself; as good for my soul as it is for my quads. At the end of my favorite class each week, we stretch it out to that Baz Luhrmann song about wearing sunscreen. I remember when that song came out - I was probably fourteen and I thought it was just about the most profound thing I had ever heard. Probably in reality that was only because I thought the class of '99 was hella cool and I wanted to be a part of things, but whatever. When I first heard the song come on in this class, I'll admit to you that my eyes rolled a little bit. It was involuntary. But dang it if that song hasn't stuck itself into my brain and I kind of don't hate it. Maybe it's that by the end of class I'm so exhausted I'm partly delirious, but each week I catch myself listening to the words and as I stretch, letting each part sink in as I need it to on that particular day. 

Recently, though, there has been one part that makes me feel a little more in my feelers than the others.
Baz says: "don't be reckless with other people's hearts -
don't put up with people who are reckless with yours."

 I harp a lot on a lot of things, and one of those things is relationships and how they are risky and hard. I write a lot about how I think it's worth it to take the risk - I think to talk myself into it more than anyone, because engaging with people is, yknow, hard. I made the above card with this very thing in my mind. I remember standing in a store looking at this photo and thinking what a perfect picture of relationship it is. In loving each other, we are all at once at risk of both squishing and being squished. In a good way, for sure, but in a risky one nonetheless. CS Lewis said"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken... to love at all is to be vulnerable." I have to remind myself continually that it's worth it, to make myself keep doing it - because the alternative is quite a lonely reality. I don't think I'd last long there.

Here's the trick about it though - and thank you Baz Luhrmann for reminding me of this - we can't be flippant about this business. We aren't responsible for one another, per say, because that can get a little codependent. But we are absolutely responsible to one another; especially to those who put their tender little hearts in our hands, and ours in theirs. It's a great honor and a big deal to enter into relationship with another person. It happens all the time, every day, every hour even [if you're an extrovert like myself], and as such, I think it can be easy to take for granted it's big-deal-ness.

My point is, we have to be careful with each other. Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't do that. It's a big deal for someone to put their heart on the line and I want to urge you to think about it before you let them. We will have reckless days, days we will be selfish and forget to be careful for a minute. We'll screw it up sometimes and I pray for us the chance to make our amends when we do. But here's maybe the even trickier part, for me anyway - don't put up with people who are reckless with your heart. Don't do it. I struggle with it, honestly, but I promise you from experience it's not worth it. It's not good for you or for them to let it happen, and I urge you to put the kibosh on it when it does. Our hearts are valuable. Worthy of care. So don't even for one hot second put it in the hands of someone who won't.

It's a lesson I needed to learn. I wasn't open to it for a long while because it meant I had to put some kiboshes on, and I'm really not good at that. But thanks to a combination of Zumba exhaustion [thanks, Portie], a tug at my pre-teen heartstrings [thanks, Baz], and a warning I'd heard a thousand times before [thanks, Clive] - I think I see it now. I will not be reckless with other people's hearts; I will acknowledge the risk they take to be close to me. And I will not put up with people who are reckless with mine.

Life is short, sure, but you're far too important to be reckless about it. Let's try our hardest to quit squishing each other. Because to quote Sweet Brown, a poet for the ages - ain't nobody got time for that!

January 24, 2013

what does she see?

I recently spent some time in the homeland, and one day while I was there my niece Shelbie and I had some quality time together while her mom, my sister, was still at work. Shelbs was in the bathtub and we were playing a rousing game of drive-thru bank teller with the sliding shower doors when she stopped and she asked me a question.

What does my mom see?
As I am with many of this girl's questions, initially, because she is so stinking profound for a 5 year old, I was confused. What do you mean? I asked her.
She tried to explain. What does she see? Right now?
Still unsure if I was answering her question or not, I said that her mom probably saw her office, her computer, that kind of thing. And that sweet little angel face bank teller held her hands in the shape of a heart, sighed, and said, I wish she could see my heart instead.

We texted her a picture right then and there, thanks to the miracle of modern technology, so her mom did get to see her heart instead. But you guys. If that isn't a lesson in basic human empathy, I don't know what is. I don't sit often around wondering what people are seeing at a given moment. I don't think I have ever asked or heard of someone asking that question before. But isn't it a good one?

I take for granted that we are complex people with many senses, all of which we use to encounter the world. As a counselor, I ask all kinds of questions all the time about feelings and thoughts, about motivations and beliefs and experiences, but I rarely think about what someone simply sees, and what that means for them. Just the fact that Shelbie stopped in her tracks, assessed what she saw, thought about her mom seeing something different, and then wondered what that was is sort of amazing to me. And then she even went so far as to wish that she could make a difference in what her mom saw. I learn all the time about empathy from these little chickadees; it is one of their more powerful skills, I think. Whenever I spend time with them, it makes me want to be better at it myself.

I can get pretty caught up in my own self, in my own proverbial bath time and bank teller games, as it were. But that we would have these moments, however brief, where we stopped what we were doing for the simple purpose of wondering what another person is seeing at that same moment. Maybe even thought about a way we might help them see something better.

January 11, 2013

family, simply defined

lyrical inspiration cred: Mumford & Sons, "Timshel"

you are not alone in this
and you are not alone in this
as brothers we will stand
and we'll hold your hand
hold your hand

January 4, 2013

when pigs fly

Something you may or may not be aware of is that I make cards.

If we're being honest, I seem to have developed a sort of need to constantly caption things. I see a picture and I caption it, even if only in my brain. I started making cards because it also met the desire I have to cut and glue and craft things on a regular basis. See, one can only make so many crafts before they start to take up lots of space in one's home. Making cards, then, is a compact way to scratch my decoupage itch. While simultaneously captioning things. It's really a perfect combination.

Anyway. I give them to people sometimes, but sometimes I just make them for the sake of making them, so I thought, why not post a few occasionally? I especially like this one for the beginning of a new year. I think it's hopeful, in a weird sort of way. 2013. Full of possibility.

January 1, 2013

new year, new you

I don't love transitions. Any of them. Even the good ones cause me lots of stress and worry and bother. I don't love beginnings either, for that matter. I'd pick being comfortable and established over being new any day because I hate not knowing what I'm doing and it seems beginnings are always full of that. But for someone who is against transitions and beginnings as much as I am, there is something I really love about new starts and clean slates. I suppose it's an exception to my rule about hating all change. So as you maybe can imagine, I've always had kind of a love-hate thing with New Years. It makes me all kinds of anxious, but there's something nice about waking up January 1 feeling all shiny and new.

About 4 months ago, not for any particular reason really, I started making some relatively significant changes in my life. I don't know why September happened to be the time, but it was, and here we are. Whenever we've talked about it over the past few months my friend Kim has exclaimed, supportively, "new year, new you!" I just love that. I feel a little thrill every time she says it, and in approaching the actual New Years event, I have been thinking both about glitter and champagne type things and also about how exciting it is to have a whole new year ahead and to be going into it with a whole new me.

The past few New Yearses I have written about wanting to be more free, then feeling more free than the year before, and wanting to be even more so, still. But this year for the first time I accepted freedom - as a sort of gift I'd already been given - and decided to stop looking for it so much as just living in it. I even got the "freedom tat" I said I would get someday, and though I know that really only means something inside my own head, still, it means something. More so than in years past, I look over the year behind me and standing here today, I feel different in a lot of good ways. That's a nice feeling. Even so, when I look ahead, I don't see a whole hell of a lot with any kind of definition or certainty. Which I suppose is normal, given I'm not a psychic, but normal or not, it's not a great feeling, right? Not the kind of thing that's super reassuring when you've no choice but to keep moving and you have no idea where you're headed or how you'll get there.

When it comes right down to it, I can think of about a hundred things to worry about. I'm anxious as I write this, in fact, about quite a few things. I don't know if my September self-renovations will continue to go smoothly, but I'll keep at it right on through next September, if I have to, because this is my life and it matters. I will work on taking deep breaths through the tricky stuff, I will do the next right thing even when it seems like there isn't one. I'll keep learning how to treat people more kindly, make amends to myself when I owe them, I'll keep trying to figure out where the Lord is in all of it even when that part is really confusing. I'll keep taking risks and loving people and letting them love me and probably getting my feelings hurt more than occasionally; but if it happens, it will be because I decided someone is worth risking that for. And I feel ok about that.

If I were making resolutions for 2013, which I try not to do because I can get real weird real fast about putting parameters like that on life-change, I suppose it would be just to keep living. Not like as opposed to dying, but to keep doing all that life stuff I mentioned before. I'd like to live so that at the end of a day I know I've done what I could. To love myself and people and Jesus, to get what and where I want to get and go with my life. I will do what I can. Some days I won't, and that will be hard. Some days I will and that will be hard too, though. So.

"New year, new you" happens when it happens. Either way, come January 1, it's still exciting [if also slightly terrifying] to ring in another new year full of equal parts possibility and uncertainty. But any way you slice it, kiddos, life is happening. So do with that what you will.