Sunday, January 11, 2015

stream of consciousness.

this second weekend of 2015 has been one of the loveliest ever.

on Friday, after work, i drove down the coast to get dinner with Yesenia, one of my best, sweetest friends. we had dinner at BJ's, where we drank dark, rich beer over pepperoni pizza, then picked up a couple lattes for dessert before spending the next two hours walking alongside the dark Laguna Beach coastline. we talked about love and family and writing and hardships and dreams, all while looking at the waves and the houses lit up on the coastal hills. the evening was magical and full of life, and even though i was sad to hug her goodbye, i couldn't help but thank God that i'm lucky enough to have one of the most amazing friends. i took the long way home that evening - country love songs blasting, the music high up in the sky, and my heart feeling full. the evening ended with a hot bath, coupled with a good book and a beer. :)

the rest of the weekend has been equally lovely. i woke up to rain, and lived in boots and leggings all day. Ethan and i tried a new breakfast place yesterday, where we got THE MOST AMAZING chorizo omelettes coupled with french toast + coconut syrup, and spent the rest of the day cleaning, purging, donating, meal-planning, and running errands. in the evening, we drank beer + mimosas, made chicken and potatoes for dinner, and watched movies until midnight.

but this morning has been one of my favorites so far. i got up early and took a long hot shower, cleaned the bathroom, started laundry, and woke Ethan up with a cup of hot coffee. the rain was still going strong, so we opened up my back door, lit some candles and a fire in the fireplace, while we sipped on coffee, watched the hummingbirds flitter around my feeder despite the downpour, and listened to the rain and the sound of each other's voices. the best part was the talking talking talking. about family history, about music, about politics, about the power of a good story. we laughed a lot, held hands, snuck in kisses. it was a precious set of hours...felt like time had stopped, like our soul connection was surrounding us, pulling us closer, deeper.

and now, i'm writing this. my belly is full of yesterday's leftover omelette, the candles are gently flickering in their mason jars, and the rain is still pattering steadily against the roof. today's agenda is mostly empty, save for more coffee drinking, bird-watching, and maybe a little painting. there is room for rest today, and that feels amazing.


the new year, in all its fullness, has also been teaching me so much already. i am taking with me hard and good things, like listening to the Spirit. right as the new year came, i stood in one Target aisle, surrounded by handfuls of planners. i had found the perfect one - clean and white, with pretty gold polka dots. i picked it up to hug it to my chest, and at that moment, i felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to put it down. "no plans" is what i heard, as clear as if someone were standing right next to me. i felt a continued prompting, as i stood there, debating whether or not to listen - prompting to live in the moment, to be present, to be content. all very cliche things often thrown around by people who don't know your place in the story. which is why i don't think i am ever able to relate to those kinds of terms until i feel them being made clear to me in MY spirit, and in the right timing. i left the planner - and the idea of plans - right there in that aisle. and i feel like i am continually being led in that direction. when i try and look forward to possible dreams or ideas for the future, i literally feel as if i am left blind, like the Spirit is putting some sort of mental block there. normally, i have scads and scads of travel plans, hobby plans, whatever plans, but i know God is pushing me back from that. "no plans." it is reassuring me that there are always seasons for everything, and i have had heavy dreaming and planning seasons, but that is not where i am right now, and that's okay. and while it's so weird and foreign, it also feels amazing, this living in the moment. i am ALIVE right now, and there is so much contentment, beauty, joy in that.

i also feel this prompting toward making peace with being uncomfortable. i realized this shortly before the new year came. i had been drinking more and more on the weekends until i made myself sick, and i mentally kicked my own a**, asking myself, "why do i do this?" the answer came almost immediately, as i realized the drinking was to alleviate being uncomfortable. we all have our own vices. mine usually look like compulsive shopping or comfort eating. i have never struggled with drinking. i've never drank alone or heavily or regularly. but the past couple months, i have started to slip on the weekends. i have wanted to numb my discomfort, to be happy and carefree, more wild, fun-loving, whatever...until i looked in the mirror one day and realized that i was not MORE any of those things, but more angry, more uncomfortable, more unhappy, and less of who i am and who i truly want to be. and i just happened to remember a quote from comedian Tom Papa, who put it so plainly and perfectly: "That's it; it's uncomfortable being a human being." i have thought about that quote every single day since then, and i have been trying to remember the concept of "bittersweet", as Shauna Niequist describes it - that the uncomfortable, the difficult, the painful things are truly what make us human beings. if everything was good, joyous, beautiful all the time, life would be boring and surface-level, lacking depth and complexity and triumph. so, i am embracing the idea that being uncomfortable isn't something to hide from or fight against, but something to embrace as part of this being ALIVE. i am reminded, particularly, of the Crucifixion and the Tomb in this. that was more than discomfort; it was pain, despair, hopelessness. but in those things, it was where God was preparing the most glorious things.

lastly, i am learning to say no - what that means and that it is okay, and even good. i don't know if the word "no" is easy for anyone to say, but i know it is certainly not easy for me. i have had a couple recent examples, but my most difficult one was in dealing with a roommate. i have a roommate who is graceless and controlling, and has not been nice to me. she wanted all of us roommates to get together for a dinner to discuss housekeeping, and i decided from the beginning that i was going to say no, i will not meet with you under any circumstances. i have been bullied and talked down to by her more than once, and i won't subject myself to that ever again. and i surprisingly followed through on this promise to myself. i had to say "no" to her once in a text message, and again, in person. both times were hard, and left me feeling shaky and doubtful. and then i read this perfectly timed quote by Emma Bleker that said, "you should not have to rip yourself into pieces to keep others whole." i am not sure what the balance is...the balance of being selfless and giving, while also making sure YOU are taken care of. i have known enough selfish people in my life to make me paranoid about becoming anything like those people. but i have also been talked down to, been a doormat, and i am done with that. so, as a Christian, how do i love the unlovable while also keeping myself whole? Jesus gave of Himself, but i don't think He did so to the detriment of His identity. so, to follow in His footsteps, that will be the lifelong challenge. and as i said before, everything is a season. and i think this will be a season of learning to say no.

and on a final is my current, lovely Sunday morning scene.  i am a little bit in love with my post-Christmas mantel. :)

happy Sunday, everyone<3 hope your weekend has been full of rest, love, and laughter.



Thursday, January 8, 2015

on holding on and letting go

we are a little over a week into 2015, and it has been lovely so far.  i brought in the year with Ethan and my brother, Kyle, and we celebrated it by sharing a bottle of wine over fancy Italian food, danced to hip-hop music with drinks in hand, and finished it off with a few pool games and a couple Long Island iced teas.

the weekend following New Year's was shared with Ethan.  we drank fancy coffees.  browsed the nearby flea market.  put my new bike together.  played afternoon tennis and evening games of Battleship.  had a dinner and a movie date - Chinese food and Gone Girl.  

and the last few days following have been busy.  i've been on sunny walks during work breaks, watched gorgeous sunsets, caught up on phone dates with family and friends, slowly been putting away Christmas decorations, but mostly, i've been purging.  i've donated clothes, organized documents and letters, deleted pictures from my online archives...and it's all felt so, so good.

this time last year, i felt fearful of what i was sure to come.  i was positive that 2014 was going to bring about scary, hard things.  but this year, i couldn't feel more differently about the turning of the page.  i've been taking sunshiney walks on my lunches at work, and when i do, i listen to instrumental music, and i think about the days of the calendar being blank - just waiting to be filled with good things.  i don't feel afraid.  instead, i feel hopeful and excited and fully present in today.  i haven't felt this way in so long, and i can't help but feel giddy with content in all of it.

i'll admit that bringing in the New Year was hard for me.  Ethan and i had a difficult conversation in which he said to me, "you really hold onto things."  i asked him what he meant, and he said, "i mean, you hold onto EV-ER-Y-THING."  i cried for a long time after that.  i cried in his arms, and then i went and sat in the shower and cried in there.  it was very symbolic - AND NECESSARY - for me, i think...crying in the shower, hoping the water would wash away the pain and the anguish and the fear.  i watched the water droplets run down my legs and into the crevices of my toes, and i held my hands in the hot mist, and i cried and prayed for grace and for a fresh start and for HOPE.  i did that - cried and held out my hands - until the water ran cold.  truly, i never wanted to get out of that shower.  i wanted to stay in there - pruny and safe - until the end of time.  getting out was hard, but i did it, and now i'm here, writing this, feeling like a different person.

Ethan was right about me holding onto things.  i have held onto the same things for years...even just words that one person said to me one time.  i hold onto those things, and i dwell on them, and replay them.  i am continually hurt by them and continually place my value in them.  i don't know why or how, but Ethan has the ability to say the smallest things that reach to my very core.  it was so simple - "you hold onto everything" - but i felt it and knew it in the depths of my being.  it felt painful to hear, and yet, i found myself finding comfort in it.  

i started to think that i CANNOT let go of things.  and then i realized that it is more than is that i REFUSE to.  there is almost enjoyment in it.  because i feel like letting go means that i am saying that i am less than what i am.  that i am somehow agreeing that the bad things that have happened to me are now - somehow - okay.  i feel like letting go means that i am letting my guard down, and that someone else now has the freedom to hurt me in the same way - or worse.  i feel like letting go is - as my friend, Ryan, put it - laying down in the middle of the road, and praying someone doesn't run you over.  that's how letting go feels to me.  holding on makes me feel safe, protected, even powerful.  but it also makes me angry.  and unhappy.  several days ago, i was venting to Kate about this on the phone, and as i started mentioning the wounds i still carry with me, most of the more recent ones happened 7 years ago.  SEVEN.  how is it that i am still holding on to these wounds when the people who caused them are long gone?

my mom once told me that my dad used to go to different counselors all the time.  he would hash out all his issues with a counselor, until the metaphorical horse was dead beyond recognition.  and then, he would move onto a different counselor, and start all over.  he could never let go of what had happened to him.  and i completely understand why.  life, in some ways, feels safer behind our wounds and issues.  but, while i have a lot of qualities from my dad that i love about myself, never-ending grief and anger are not ones that i would like to carry with me.  and that's why i know that it's time to start letting go.

i would be lying if i said it hasn't been a painful, scary process so far.  after all, holding on is easy.  letting go is hard.  but i'm doing it.  it's happening and I'M DOING IT.

and maybe it's just the new year and the fresh slate.  or maybe it's the gorgeous days we've been having here, and the good music that's been keeping me company.  maybe it's the phone calls with the people i love, or the purging, or the writing... but since that day in the shower, i feel lighter.  happier.  less afraid.  more hopeful.

i can't help but find myself relating it to a bonfire.  i imagine writing all my wounds on paper - every touch, word, gesture, action that has broken my heart - and tossing them into a beach bonfire.  and at first, i'm a little sad to see them go, as i watch the flames creep up and destroy every memory and moment.  but after awhile, i forget about everything but the warmth the fire provides, and the way it lights up the faces of the people i love.  i can appreciate where the bonfire has brought me, but i don't have to live in it anymore.  the calendar is blank, the tomb is empty, and 2015 is the perfect time for a fresh start.



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014, or something like that.

i've felt freer lately.

i'm not quite sure why.  i think part of it has to do with not having any school.  it's been almost a full year since i've had no school on my shoulders, and it feels amazing to think that i have an entire month full of free time to do the things i've been dreaming about for months.  i've been dreaming about running again, about reading again, about taking long baths, about taking time to sing...but mostly, i've been dreaming about writing again.  it feels good to dream, and it feels even better to write.

the past year has felt like a blur.  i don't remember much off the top of my head.

but, my favorite moments looked something like this: much fun my sister and i had when she came down around the new we drank toffee latte after toffee latte, laughed hard, sang loud to our favorite country songs, and how it was warm enough for the beach, even in the winter. trip to Maryland only a short week or two later.  the weather was cold and magical, and the days felt full and peaceful.  there were moments of nonstop laughter and of restful silence.  Ryan and i had the best time exploring historical landmarks in Delaware and Pennsylvania, ducking into warm places here and there, so that we could browse through antiques, or sip on blueberry lattes and the best spiked cider one could ever have.

...Kate coming down to visit in February.  we sipped coffee at hipster coffee shops, woke up with the sunrise to go skimboarding, had a romantic Valentine's Day dinner, played cards for hours, saw one of my favorite comedians live in Long Beach, and ended her trip with beers and bowls of hot chili at a local pub. :) alive i felt every time Angie and i spent a Friday night out on the town. gorgeous it was when spring finally arrived.

...and how magical and perfect it was to have Ethan finally come home in April.

...the best Easter weekend i've ever had, when Ethan and i spent Good Friday sipping wine and breaking bread while we watched The Passion of the Christ together.  on Easter Sunday, we went to church, got amazing coffees in the sunshine, then spent the rest of the afternoon drinking beer down by the water at the beach.

...when my mom and sister came down only a couple short weekends later, and we drank coffee after coffee, ate good Mexican food, laughed too hard playing mini golf, went on a thousand rides at Disneyland, had tear-filled hotel conversations, and just relished in the lack of distance between us.

...crossing Las Vegas off my bucket list...

...celebrating a perfect 26th birthday.  my coworkers made me a gorgeous cake, and Ethan bought me fancy coffee + donuts, took me to the zoo, and we ended the evening with a fancy dinner right along the coast. June, i went home to dance at my cousin's wedding, proudly attend my mom's huge retirement party, spend a perfect day up in Lake Tahoe with my bebe sister, and have an awesome "siblings night" with 3 of my favorite people. ;)

...the 4th of July, when Ethan and i spent the day up at Big Bear, hiking in the morning rain, drinking beers in the afternoon, and slurping down ice cream cones as the fireworks came out.

the rest of the summer was one of the hottest, and yet, one of the best i've experienced so far in SoCal.  it was the summer i learned how to skateboard, found the perfect pair of brown ankle boots, and got up before the sunrise to hike to a waterfall.  it was the summer i made lavender cookies, started picking wildflowers on the side of the road, and started playing around with watercolors.  and it was also the summer when i spent the rest of my free time working or doing homework for summer classes...but we won't get into that part. ;)

the summer ended with two last visits... from my little sister, which looked like dinner at Joe's Crab Shack, trips to LA for henna tattoos + Hillsong worship, and beach sunset after beach sunset...

...and the second from my best friend, which looked like cigars + poker, drinks + dancing, Hawaiian shaved ice, and any air conditioned place we could find. ;)

fall came swiftly after that, bringing with it a week-long vacation home.  it was a week of dreaming over coffee with my sister and laughing over late-night dinners with friends.  there were chilly mornings for jeans, and sunny mornings for t-shirts and pretty cemetery walks.  there was leaf collecting and hikes overlooking Lake Tahoe.  late night drinks for Ethan's birthday and family movie nights...all in between packing boxes while cherishing the last moments we would have in our family home.

that was also the week when i had my seizure...when my priorities instantly had to change and my perspective was altered in its focus.

the rest of the year flew by.  i got through the semester, took Ethan to an amazing concert, drank lots of coffee, watched sunrises and sunsets, and rested.  a lot.

2014 was the year when i learned to really love the taste of beer, and when i finally got the courage to dye my hair purple.  it was the year i went through all the notes and cards i've ever received, and had to begin making peace with my past.  it was the year i got to see Penny&Sparrow live in San Diego, and worshipped along with Hillsong in LA.  it was the year i re-pierced my nose, spent copious amounts of time at the beach, and took a step back from technology and social media.  i blogged less, took fewer pictures, and lived in the moment more.

it's hard to sum up an entire year in one word, but if i had to do it, the word would be FULL.  2014 was full of good food and deep laughs and thought-provoking conversations.  of adventure and growth and letting go.  of family, of friends, of LOVE.  true, deep, gut-wrenching love.  and it was an absolute blast.  i wouldn't change one part of it.

and if you're one of the few reading this?  thank you, SO MUCH, for being a part of all of it. :) i love you.  and i can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for all of us.