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.