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Sometimes I can’t find myself in the morning.

Whatever dreams I’ve had have left a bad taste in my soul and I wake up feeling like there’s a thousand pound weight on my chest.

For all of my friends who start this week with trepidation.

Tourniquet

2ea0b4f47225c04dba62330221b6c76aDo you know that feeling?

It’s as though all of the frustration in the universe is bottled inside you with no release valve. You have no options. You have no moves left. And the pressure is building, threatening to destroy everything inside you, leaving you a shell of a person. 

You can’t handle feeling. 

You can’t stand not feeling. 

It is relentless and you are stuck

What if I told you that it’s an illusion? What if you could believe that stuck is one of the greatest tools the enemy has to keep you from understanding the freedom that comes with finding courage. What if you realized that the worst possible outcomes you can imagine are a vail of lies hanging between you and what God created you for– bravery, beauty, adventure, meaning, trust, walking on water, climbing mountains, and doing the impossible

You can feel it can’t…

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Tessa and Katie

The most wonderful and terrifying thing I have ever heard is that my niece wants to grow up to be just like me.

It will make you think!

Lots of hours holding a baby who has made up her mind that she is against all kinds of being put down and will happily nap, but only in my arms.

An hour and a half of Just Dance Disney Kids with my nieces and nephews. I am good.

Realizing that I did in fact sweat enough to call that cardio and be satisfied that I’d gotten my workout for the day.

The hottest shower I could stand because after all that dancing I needed to relax my muscles.

Wishing I had some kind of sports drink right about now.

Strawberry flavored Eos balm.

I have been “pinning” like crazy the last couple of weeks.

Project Just As I Am  uses Pinterest. We pin encouraging phrases, quotes, and scripture to help remind people on a daily basis to love God and love each other. In order to keep it fresh I search through one “Words To Live By” board after another looking for pretty, readable, interesting pictures with words on them, basically.

A couple of mornings ago it occurred to me that Pinterest boards are kind of like a secret  window to a woman’s heart and mind. Especially when it comes to the boards we create for words. It’s been really entertaining and eye-opening during my search to watch the mood shifts that happen on a board of words. You’ll be skimming through and there will be a series of bright, enthusiastic statements of faith, strength, empowerment and then a row or two down suddenly every pin has to do with having your heart broken, being lonely, with lots of depictions of rain and dark oceans.

My personal boards are no exception. I mean, I steer clear of declarations of female empowerment as much as possible because it’s just not my thing, but I do enjoy a good quote about bravery right next to one that expresses just how hurt my heart is at the moment.

Roll all of those words into a collection of tutorials on how to make your own face masks, wall art put together with shoe laces, paper clips and a string of Christmas lights, and more shoes, clothes and DIY furniture projects than you’d see in a year of watching HGTV and QVC and it starts to feel like chaos.

Because it is.

Sometimes I amaze myself with how many different emotions I can feel at one time.  I might be really sad about an element of a specific relationship, while I am excited and encouraged by a project that I’m working on, concerned for one of my students, proud of my nephews or nieces, worried about something that is happening later that day and how it will work out, angry at a sibling, amused by something a friend just text me, frustrated that I can’t think of a particular word that will perfectly articulate what I’m trying to say in an important email, and that’s all packed into sixty seconds of my day because in the next sixty seconds any one or all of those can shift, change places, or be replaced by something totally new.

I don’t know how the male mind works, I really don’t. I have no real idea if it’s at all the same, but I suspect it’s profoundly different. No less complex, just different, and after days of going through other women’s Pinterest boards, I feel a great deal more compassion for the men who are trying to understand us.

Something from yesterday…

Tourniquet

Today is my first official day of not being an employee of retail cosmetics. The decision to leave a job that has held me financially steady for six years was a scary one, possibly one of the hardest easy decisions I’ve ever made.

I say “hardest easy” decision because knowing that my time with the company I was with was over couldn’t have been more clear. Everything going on in my heart and my life pointed right towards the door, but taking the actual steps to walk out and facing the fear of all of the “what ifs”, took every bit of guts I have.

And here I am.

I jumped with both feet because I couldn’t not.

My constant prayer these days is, “Here is my life, God. Wreck it. Ruin it for your glory.” But don’t go thinking I’m super brave because most of the time I have…

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FOT642D (1)I decided not long ago that I needed a writing desk and a dedicated place to write. I had an office when I lived alone, but now that I have roommates I haven’t put much effort into having a specific place to sit and think and write. I need this kind of space.

Over the past couple of months I’ve on and off discussed with my brother that I might like a custom writing desk. My brother, Kevin, is a carpenter and a pretty damned great one. So when I finally decided what I’d like I had visions of him doing the work and me reaping the benefits, sitting warm and cozy at my desk writing away, but Kevin had a different plan. Wise beyond his years, my brother recommended that I come and be a part of the process and let him teach me how to build a desk.

While it had never occurred to me help build it in the beginning, I like doing things with my hands and the idea of ownership is one that always appeals to me, so I agreed with excitement.

Kevin is second to youngest in our family but the only boy. Sometimes I believe this also makes him the oldest in a way. He’s always seemed to feel a sense of responsibility when it came to the role of protecting and being a rock for the women in our family. He takes after my mother’s side of the family– average hight, broad, started greying in his early twenties so now that he’s in his mid-late twenties he looks handsome in that way that only men who grey early can. One of his most distinguishing features are his eyes. He has one brown eye and one hazel. I think the contrast becomes greater with each passing year because I swear I notice the difference so much more now than I did when we were younger.

Many of the tools my brother uses belonged to my grandfather on my Dad’s side. I didn’t know Papa very well. He died when I was around twenty-three and when I was a child he and I barely interacted. I remember his workshop mostly for the way it looked on the outside because we weren’t allowed to go in and the I remember the way it smelled. I never saw my grandfather working in the shop but I did see the things that he made.

Walking into Kevin’s garage, floor covered in saw dust and the sweet smell of freshly cut wood hanging in the air, almost felt like being granted entrance to a secret world you’d always known existed but had never found a way to get to. I realized then that up to this point I’d never seen my brother work either. I’ve seen many things that he’s designed on paper and then the end result, but I had never been a part of the process. It felt really wonderful to be invited into this space and my mind effortlessly clicked over into its record mode–  My  subconscious begins to absorb every nuance like a witch’s second sight, while my eyes see what is right in front of me and my fingers memorize textures…

I used one of the very large, very loud saws exactly three times before my part in this whole thing became to simply watch and lend a hand to the master where it was needed. I am terrified of cutting myself and move very slow and, truth be told, probably put myself at greater risk for hurting myself by being over-cautious.

Kevin showed me how to properly use the saw and then stepped back and let me go for it. The first cut was fine. The second cut on a larger piece of wood didn’t go as well. I wasn’t holding one end of the wood the way I needed to and it had moved in a way that was messing up the cut and I couldn’t get all the way through. Instead of jumping in to correct me before I made a mess of things, Kevin stayed where he was and waited for me to realize something was wrong and that I needed help.

He let me make a mistake and then he showed me how to fix it.

If you could really watch music, not watch someone play music, but rather be able to see the music itself it would look something like my brother’s hands while he works with wood. There’s a fluidity to his movements that I can only describe in terms that are musical or like the smoothness of river water running over rocks. Kevin played football, he rode go-karts and he climbed trees. The result: broken arms and broken fingers. His right arm doesn’t straighten all of the way and neither does the pinky finger of his right hand due to pins placed in his arm and wrist after he shattered bones in both after falling out of a tree. Neither injury impedes his ability to build, but somehow adds character to the act.

I watched his hands with a kind of childlike amazement and curiosity. After we (he) drew out our plans I felt I had a pretty decent understanding of how this would all go down, but when the building started I realized that my ideas about what would work to accomplish the end result we’d planned for were ill-informed. It could have been accomplished the ways I envisioned it, but it would not have been accomplished well and it would have come with a whole host of possible problems. I found myself, at times, trying to anticipate what he would do next or how he would solve a particular challenge and every time I wasn’t even close and every time his decision made complete and perfect sense in a way I never would have gotten to.

The light of the setting sun was making the saw dust on the ground take on a soft golden glow, my grandfather’s tools casting shadows across the floor of the garage and I am thinking about how exactly to capture all of it with words while Kevin strategically placed five clamps on one corner of the frame of my desk top in order to be able to hammer in two nails at just the right spot and angle.

Our minds work so differently and it’s lovely.

I learned how to build a desk.

I am overwhelmed with life right now.

Yesterday I mentioned needing some downtime, some reenergize time, whatever. It was an understatement. I’ve stretched myself really thin and myself and everyone else within a 12 foot radius is reaping the consequences.

I don’t mean to be a jerk, really I don’t. If I’ve been a jerk to anyone reading this, I’m really sorry. There’s really no excuse for it, I’ve just grossly mismanaged myself in this finale phase of 2013.

If I’m being honest I feel like I’ve set myself up this way as a distraction of the quickly approaching 2014. Everything changes in 2014, I’m going to do new and exciting things with my career, and by new and exciting what I really mean is terrifying and panic inducing. But I’m going to do them, because it’s time. Because for some reason I cannot stop thinking about just how short our lives really are in comparison to existence as a whole and it leaves me feeling like I can’t breathe. I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now, or even ten, wishing I had taken risks and jumped into the things I dream about doing.

All of that comes with an undercurrent of fear, unfortunately, because I don’t know how it will all work out, I don’t know how all of my bills will get paid, I don’t know where I will end up or if I’ll end up with anyone. I just don’t know. And I can’t know. And it is ok for me to both be comfortable and uncomfortable with the not knowing.  But as a being who lines to be in control of my surroundings I have made the worst possible choice to cope with the near future. I’ve chosen the path of exhausting myself so I don’t have too much time to worry about the future and how things will play out.

Don’t do this to yourself.

Especially if you are at all introverted. Don’t do it.

The people in your life wont thank you.

Everyone in the world is doing something at this very moment to irritate me. Everyone I know is at their absolute worst lately and pissing me off left and right. I find myself in tears over things that are… meaningless at the end of the day, but seem, in the moment, of the most deep importance. And the problem isn’t that the people around me have suddenly become hopelessly obnoxious, it’s because I am worn down. I’m not taking time for things (like blogging, for instance) that I know will make me feel more sane. I’m not spending enough time alone, which I know that, in particular, is hard for some people to understand, but even sometimes when I think I want company the choice I should be making is to have a quiet night in with just myself.

So please forgive me if my facial expressions give you the impression that I want to kick a puppy. I assure you I do not, will not, have no plans to kick anyone. Unless you kick me first.

I haven’t been taking enough time to be alone lately
I can feel it in my head and my mood. I am a person who needs space and time to process things and to recoup energy spent in social settings and groups.

This is a socially intense time of year for me. I have had weeks and weeks and more weeks of having places to be and people to see and it’s a very good thing. A very, very good thing, but it’s also exhausting.

It’s funny to me. I will feel myself getting emotionally tense, feeling short tempered and irratable, and wanting to cry over things that really shouldn’t be tear inducing. And I always think, “Ugh what’s wrong with me?!” It’s not until I find myself in a moment of alone time that and my whole being seems to sigh with relief that I realize that I just need some space.

Space for me rarely involves shutting myself up in my apartment and not coming out for long periods of time. For me really good alone time usually involves popping headphones in at Starbucks, listening to inspiring music and writing or taking walks in the park where there are other people jogging, running, walking, swinging, and yoga class is probably one of the best places. Everything is quiet and we are alone and together all at the same time.

There are times when I would like to shelter in my own apartment for a while though. I’m trying to create a space for that… I have to have designated places for things. I don’t like to write sitting on my bed, because bed is for sleeping and I neither want to feel sleepy while I write, or have my head spinning while I am trying to sleep. Right now what was my “office” is my sister’s bedroom, so I think I need to find a way to make a writing desk work in my room so that when I want to be at home I have an official, out of the way, space to think and write and all of that good stuff.

I hope everyone is having a good Wednesday so far.

I’m about to enter a new season. I’m going to be spending a lot of time writing… well at least more time than I have been. I’m excited and a little nervous about it. But I am absolutely sure that it’s something that needs to happen. I guess the part that makes me nervous is that I know if I am going to do this there are going to be some big changes that have to take place and change is always scary.

With my schedule the way it is now I will never be able to squeeze in the amount of work that I know I need to be doing and even if I could manage to get it in I don’t know how I would be able to focus through the whole thing. This means that I am going to have to take a leap of faith, trust that God is in control and free up some space. I know exactly what space needs to be freed, It’s just really hard getting it done.

This afternoon I just kept thinking I wished that I could have someone tell me when it was the “right” time to take that kind of leap. Is there ever really a wrong time? I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t want to get 30-40 years down the road and think, “man I wish I had stopped doing a job that was sucking my soul dry and took a risk to write, to travel, to get involved in the things that I care deeply about, to speak up and speak out.” I have to do those things. I can’t not.

Pray for me.
I don’t know what all of this looks like.
I don’t know where this will take me, but I want to be willing to go. I want to be able to drop my nets to follow Jesus.

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