Tag Archives: story

open

Living open is hard. It’s stunning and beautiful and exactly like cold water to the face. And sometimes it feels like that’s all this year has been. One foot after another toward living wide-eyed, living open.

I don’t want to be a person who holds on to my life with a white-knuckled grip. I know there are better pieces inside me, pieces that are pure and wild and fearless. Those are the places I want to live from.

But open hands are such a tricky thing. Because as quickly as they receive, they surrender.

And surrender. It’s that thing that’s beautiful and freeing, but it can feel so hard in the moment, when you’re surrendering things you thought you needed.

This year has been that. Opening my hands and receiving beauty that I never dreamed about, while simultaneously letting go of pieces I thought I needed. Pieces I have allowed to define me.

But the truth. The truth is you never receive until you’re willing to surrender.

So tonight, with my back flat on the floor, eyes staring at a candlelit ceiling, she asked what our intention was. Asked us to phrase it in the present tense, rather than as something to be hoped for in the future.

I am open.

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in which themes really aren’t my thing

Every October, they pop up. The lovely 31-dayers, with their beautiful words and their respectable consistency, and I think of joining them. Every year, I want to put a few small words out there, give them wings to take up residence beside the words of the ones I would consider great writers.

But every year, I get stuck on the same thing. The whole idea of a theme. I’ve never been very good with themes. Too many things are too terribly interesting and important to me. Which sometimes feels like a lack of focus, mostly because sometimes it is.

This year is more of the same. I’ve tossed around at least ten different themes in the past couple of weeks, and they all hit the walls of my soul and slide off. Nothing sticks, nothing clings to my insides, my ribcage.

But oh, how I want to write these days. I feel all of the things inside of me, scratching and clawing to get out. And if the only thing stopping me from challenging myself to write every day for a month straight is the lack of a theme…well, that’s just silly.

So I, personally, am considering my theme “31 Days of who-the-hell-knows-what.”

It’s slightly less poetic than “31 Days to Listen” or “31 Days to Dream” or “31 Coffee Dates in 31 Days.”

Slightly less poetic, but far more true to where and who I am in this moment.

Because too many things are rattling around these days to pick just one. Maybe that’s why I need to write so much these days. Maybe that’s why I spent half my drive to work yesterday teary-eyed because I just wanted the space to crawl into a quiet part of my soul and put the rest, the part that’s not at all quiet, on paper.

Too many things are too important and too heavy and too possible and too never-gonna-happen and too unknown.

Too much of life is who-the-hell-knows-what.

And so I will write from there, from that place.

It may not be pretty, but it will be honest. And I’m sure it will look a little like healing, in that way that only the ugly, honest things can be.

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grace alive

Grace alive is an unpredictable thing that can never quite be pinned down.

I so often watch for grace to arrive in an expected package, something beautiful and aesthetic and wildly appealing to my personal tendency to over-romanticize pretty much everything.

I saw it coming from months away, the grace of a long weekend away with my love. I saw grace coming in the form of early morning coffee and long, quiet moments to write the sunrise. I thought it would be found in climbing mountains that hold thousands of years worth of secrets in their jagged edges. Surely grace is standing at the top and breathing deep and experiencing the perspective you can only get from above, from watching large things become very, very small. I thought the best grace would come from exploring new territory, trying new things. I saw grace coming in moments that would undoubtedly be fresh and breathtaking and special and unusual.

And I stood at the bottom of the mountain for five days, and at the end of those five days, I felt a little disappointed. I felt the itch of the temptation to be jaded. Because all the graces I thought I would have turned out to be not at all the graces I got.

I got the grace of sleeping in, and then waking up and walking out the door to see a truly stunning mountain skyline literally in my backyard. Of watching Law and Order SVU in the same room with people I love dearly, people I rarely share air with. Of giant bear hugs from my biggest-littlest brother. Of making mischief with my sister, who loves to tease my husband and does so like a boss. Of a tiny blonde niece who simply could not get close enough to my skin, could not contain within herself all the six-year-old stories she needed to tell me while she had me close enough to be whispered to. Of Jimmy Fallon and Cards Against Humanity, alternating on repeat until midnight, punctuated by wild and irreverent laughter. Of watching the shortest, fattest dog I’ve ever seen just trying to waddle from place to place, and laughing until I ugly-cry. Of snuggling up to my love on an air mattress that kept rolling us both toward the center, always closer, always laughing.

Those sound like really good graces, right? Maybe even the best graces. The ones I found myself briefly tempted to be disappointed by. I am quite literally rolling my eyes at my own expectations and my ability to kill off a beautiful series of moments with them.

Because what about the unexpected grace of the everyday? The grace of recognizing, even in the grimy mess of your own humanity, that sometimes you don’t need the an escape into new and different and better. Sometimes you just need to see grace alive in the ordinary, wherever you are. Since that’s what makes a life anyway. That’s what makes all the moments worth having. Grace alive is why I can be just as glad to fall asleep at home in Texas as I was to fall asleep in Colorado last night.

Yesterday’s grace, today’s grace, expected, unanticipated, wild, alive. If there were five words to be prayed for myself and for the ones whose hearts I hold, these are the ones.

May we see grace alive.

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starfish

She showed up at my door at the worst possible time, at the almost-end of a long day. I’d already packed my bag, put on my coat, grabbed the door handle to walk out the door.

But there she was, when I flung the door open with the forward momentum of walking out. Dark skin and wet eyes and sniffles.

I had somewhere else to be, somewhere filled with professional obligation. I knew I needed to be there. But she showed up for me, and I knew she needed me to show up for her. To really be there, in a way that meant something more than a quick hello and goodbye.

So we sat.

We sat there on the floor of my office, and we talked about the everything and nothing of life. She told me about how she felt out of place with people her age. As though there was something broken about her. As though she valued all the wrong things, and thought the weirdest stuff was important.

She told me about her therapy sessions, rolled up the sleeves on her customary long-sleeved t-shirt, and showed me the scars again. Words, designs, straight lines etched into ashy skin. We talked about how much better they looked since the last day, the first day I’d seen them. She thanked me for that day, for telling her that she could talk to her mom, that she should talk to her mom.

She talked about all the ways it’s still hard, the way life is always still hard, even when you’re doing your best to deal with it in a real way. She talked about her dad, and the day he told her all the impossibly heavy things that no daughter should ever have to hear, things she’ll never completely forget. She talked about all the things she was afraid to tell her mom, not because her mom wouldn’t believe her, but because she would. And because there’s a self-loathing and shame that goes along with the choices you make that somehow come back to affect your own children in horrific ways. And because she knows her mama is a good and loving person who shouldn’t have to feel that self-loathing and shame.

She talked about starfish, how they regenerate their own limbs, and how cool it would be if we could figure out how to capture the part of their being that makes them able to do that and apply it to humans. She talked about how impossibly weird she is sometimes, that she thinks about things like that in her free time. I talked about how really, truly lovely it is to be impossibly weird in a world full of people just trying to be normal.

It must have been two hours that we sat there, sprawled out on the floor of my office. And maybe some day I’ll forget about that all-of-the-everything-and-nothing conversation. But probably not, because I don’t easily forget people or the moments I share with them. Because sometimes, people and moments and the connection that happens during two hours of everything and nothing—those things make me feel a little bit like a starfish. Like even the most broken parts of me can be reborn.

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because yoga is a lot like life

Three…two…one…breathe.

I can feel it in those first moments on the mat, all the tension I’ve been holding for hours and days, or maybe weeks and months. And so I lie there, dealthy still, eyes wide and staring at the ceiling and I let myself feel it.

I don’t love Pachabel’s Canon in D. I can see why anyone who’s not a music major would. Or anyone who hasn’t been doing the music for weddings since their teens. Or anyone who has managed to not hear it hundreds of times. But I am a music major who’s been doing the music for weddings since my teens, and I’ve heard it hundreds of times. So I just don’t love it, and it doesn’t feel like yoga music, and thoughts bounce around like a toddler inside my mind.

I do like this instructor, though, despite her questionable taste in music. I like her voice, I like it that she asks us to commit to an intention, a point of focus, a meditation. I usually pick my own, and tonight I think my point of focus will be this idea that all is grace. Feels like something I need to remember more than usual these days, especially if I can find a quiet enough space in my head for it to take root and stick around.

That first pose, though, has me questioning my affection for her. My long legs twisted up around one another, bent and angled and wrapped and stretched. And then she says it, the phrase that makes me hate her just a little bit.

Relax into it.

Uh. About that.

This is a great hip opener, if your muscles are tight in that area. Just breathe and let gravity do the work.

Okay…okay, I’m breathing…but for real, this is not okay.

We’ll stay here for about two minutes.


We will do what??

Try not to fidget. When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s most necessary to stay the course.

You are a jerk, woman. And why, for the love of all that’s good and holy, is that wretched song still playing??

And so I’m sitting there, tangled up with myself, and I can feel the resistance and the beckoning of a constant urge to just stop, to go back to the resting pose, to just enjoy the silence of a quiet, candlelit room where no one knows my name and no one needs anything from me. I know that’s an option. I know I can use this time to relax without challenging myself. We don’t judge each other’s practice in yoga. That’s the rule.

But even as I mentally explore that option, I’m so terribly aware of my own achy pieces. I’m sitting there, and the tightness in my muscles is exposed and raw, and loudly so. I can feel it all right now, for the first time in a long time, even though it’s been there for months. I can feel the feelings that have been going unnoticed, the parts that I haven’t been caring for, the places that have been carrying the weight of unnecessary things.

And I literally laugh out loud in the middle of that still and quiet room, because the reason I love yoga is because I am a lover of metaphors. And yoga is life.

When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s the most necessary to stay the course.

That thought keeps replaying itself in my mind today. Because I am so prone to chase comfort. So prone to do the easy thing. So absolutely aware, one hundred percent of the time, of the option to tap out. Because the passions and loves that beat inside my chest are HARD. They are hard, hard things. 

I made myself a deal on my 29th birthday, that I would start writing music again, that I would write my life and write raw. But writing music is like yoga for me. It’s uncomfortable in the doing. It’s so terribly uncomfortable. It is time-consuming and vulnerable, a demanding mistress who won’t be satisfied with anything but everything I have. And so here I am, almost to the halfway point of this year, and nothing. And yet–there it is, in my mind. All of the mess of truth that I need to put on paper and bring to life. It hasn’t gone away. It’s that achy hip, the one that’s been holding tension in the background for so very long, but the process of healing hurts and challenges and stretches. And I’m afraid of it. Is it okay to say that? That it’s just easier to binge-watch Netflix than it is to sit down and use my God-given gift. Because I’m afraid of it. All the time. I’m afraid of being uncomfortable.

And yet…

When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s the most necessary to stay the course.

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a warm drink and few good reads

I am a little bit in love with the world of blogging.

Because, in my experience, it is the one place where it’s basically impossible to feel lonely for too long.  There are so many voices out there, people.  Beautiful voices who are saying really important things, things worth hearing.  There are people who are saying two very, very important words with their stories and their lives:

Me too.

They say it to me all the time, and if you look long and hard enough, I am certain that there are people out there saying it to you as well.  No matter who you are, where you are, or how long you’ve been feeling like you’re probably the only person who and where you are…you’re not.  Search the voices, and find your “me too” tribe.

Today, and probably a lot in the days to come, I will share a few of my favorite “me too” moments.  These kinds of stories, these kinds of voices, are the reasons I sit down as often as possible with a warm drink and an open heart and some time on my hands.  Some of them will be new, some will be old, but all of them will speak, if you have a moment to listen.

Please understand from the onset that I don’t edit the blogs I read for language.  If you’re looking for a person who values the idea that this messy, dirty, unfathomably broken world can or should always be expressed in pristine language, you’ve unfortunately got the wrong girl. However, it’s never been my intention to offend or disrespect those whose convictions run parallel to my own, so I like to put a disclaimer out there.

 

“Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: ‘We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.'”

I just recently found Momastery, and every word out of this woman’s mouth is a heart-stopping brand of gold to me.  I have long harbored the suspicion that in order to love messy people well, we have to live our own messiness out loud.  I have yet to find anyone who does that with the grace and audacity that Glennon Melton does.  Her words and her story and her heart are shocking and brave and beautiful, and she gives me hope that my own loud messiness can help others heal.

“For me, the process of rebuilding and redefining has taken time, and it’s something I continue to struggle with and work through. And looking back, there’s a million other ways I could have done it.

 

But I didn’t.

 

And Grace found me anyway.”

I just discovered Addie’s blog this week, and I cannot even start to put words to all of the me-too moments I’ve had in reading her story.  She is a questioner and a cynic who grew up in a very similar evangelical culture to my own, and she is a lovely example of what it means to be a questioner and a cynic who is caught in the arms of grace and Jesus.

“Then Sabo I say it brave, my voice refusing to shake as it stands in the truth: God looks at you and he looks at me and he sees exactly the same thing – the righteousness of Jesus. 

Sabo laughs a little, shaking his head. Truth be told, it’s a little bit of a hard pill for me to swallow too. How can we be the same when I’ve done so many GOOD things and he has done so many BAD? But the gospel stares me in the face, with deep brown eyes and a stubborn set to his jaw. Because ALL sins nailed at Golgotha. Not just mine, not just his. All of them. And the ground stands surprisingly level here at the foot of the cross.” 

I have never met Becca, but it took me about two of her blogs to understand that our hearts beat the same rhythms of grace for the same brand of kiddos, and that she knows how quickly that grace-beat can tear up your whole heart and your whole view of life and faith and grace.  

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the raw ones

It’s this one word that keeps coming back to me, one word I can’t disconnect from.

One day a few months ago, I sat curled up in my bed on a Skype date with Aubrey.  Wrapping fingers around a ceramic mug of tea that was almost still hot, gripping it like a tangible shred of the last little bit of my control.  Control over myself, over life, over dreams, over fear.  Maybe over God, if I’m being completely honest.

And I could not meet her eyes, the sweet friend who was watching me from my computer screen.  Dallas and Lima in the same room, Dallas losing it and Lima holding on for them both.  I remember just sitting there for a second, wishing that distance wasn’t what it is and that we could just curl up in my bed and cry together.

See, this year has felt in many ways like dreams buried and dreams planted, and that day was the first that I ever spoke of it out loud.  That day was the first time I said actual words to an actual human, words articulating this nagging feeling that I was supposed to start saying no to being what I’ve always wanted to be–a musician–so that I can start saying yes to being what I’ve always been scared to be–a writer.

And the truth did what it always does, and tumbled out fast and terrifying.

Aub, I can’t write worth shit unless I write raw.

And it all closed in at the same time, and I ugly-cried while I tried to squeak out words, desperate to convey to another human being that sometimes you know what it is that divine hands are trying to drag out of you, but for the love of sanity, you just want it to stay in its place because if it escapes, God only knows what might hit the fan.

Singing, playing, performing, it all lives in this easy, comfortable place for me.  Because I’m comfortable with the fact that I’m pretty good at it.  I’m good at using a pretty voice to sing someone else’s song, tell someone else’s story.  A story that doesn’t really cost me anything, that doesn’t share too much or hit too close to home or leave me with that horrible and beautiful feeling that I just handed another human being my whole heart and gave them permission to eviscerate it.

I’ve spent so much of my life figuring out how to be pleasant and palatable, easy to be around, and lately it feels like that’s being wrenched from white-knuckled hands.  I feel as though I’m finally finding my voice as a writer, and some days I want to give it back and ask for a different one.  Because this voice I’m finding, it pokes and prods and challenges.  It rocks boats and doesn’t always sit comfortably.  It’s not for everyone.  Which feels impossible to me, because something inside me has always wrestled with this misplaced and irrational desire to be pleasing to everyone always.

But I’m figuring out that in truth, that’s not a way to live.

Maybe life is a lot like writing for me.  Maybe to be worth something, it has to exist in unedited abandon.  Unfinished, unrefined, untamed and wild.

I want to be okay with the fact that my voice isn’t for everyone.  I want to be able to love people well, regardless of whether they connect with my heart and my story.

But I also want to find the people my voice IS for.  The ones who mate for life.  The ones who think All of the Big Thoughts and feel All of the Big Feelings.  The ones who have spent life trying to play small and conventional, absolutely terrified of being too much for the people around them.  The ones who live with doubt and chase wild hope.  The ones with dirty hands and gritty stories full of truthful loose ends that haven’t ever tied themselves up.  The ones who experience each of the things at every end of all the spectrums in brilliant technicolor.

I want to find the raw ones.

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