Tag Archives: carpe diem

Completely Honest Thoughts at the End of A Long Week

30 Jun

I’m up too late again. But maybe not. Maybe this is when all the traffic and noise has gone away and I can finally be free to think and feel and process.

I’ve had a lot to process but not much space to do so. With all this change happening, I haven’t really been able to ask myself a key question: “How do you feel?”

It’s easy to go through life and be numb. Emotions are too hard. Relationships take too much time and investment. And if I’m honest, lately I don’t really want to engage, I just want to coast. I want God to show up and I don’t want to have to work for that relationship. I want friends to call me and somehow know that sitting in traffic is lonely. Looking at a clock and wondering what time I’ll make it to that appointment all the way back in Pasadena when I’m in Beverly Hills stresses me out. I long to run with friends, have events already planned, and the permission to just have fun. Not talk deeply, persay. Maybe pick up a golf club and drive some balls. Maybe bowl. Maybe hike or run. Or finally, through some vigorous exercise or something get to the bottom of this nagging feeling that something is left unfinished and all I can hear are the whispers: “How do I finish it? ”

In those moments, I reject all that I have learned and it’s like I put my earbuds in and tune out to the world. I can see people around me, just like the cars on the sidestreets in LA (especially on San Vicente near Olympic and Fairfax at about 5:42 every night). I can watch police pull people over. I see wealthy men yelling at a homeless guy for no apparent reason other than that our world is a broken place and who really knows why people are jerks sometimes? Elsewhere a woman gives a dollar and her last piece of bread to a different homeless guy. What does it all mean? I feel a cool breeze you can only really feel on the West Side of LA because the East Side feels more like a hairdryer but without the wind. It’s just plain hot.

In the midst of all of this change, I’ve numbed myself out. I’ve been turning to food for comfort. I’ve never done that before. But something about salt and vinegar chips spells comfort. Reverting back to the fast food of my youth soothes me, if only for a second. And then I start to wonder, what hunger am I trying to feed? What pain am I trying to avoid? What would happen if I said no to myself again when it came to stopping by Mcdonalds for a midnight sundae? In those moments I feel a sense of rebellion because I got away with something (breaking my plant based diet) and yet a sense of shame knowing that I’m trying to cover something up but not really aware enough to put my finger on it.

These could be anxious ramblings at the end of a long week. I could need to give myself grace to eat some fries once in awhile. I don’t know what appetites I’m trying to satisfy but I do know that when all of this feels up in the air, all I can keep turning to is Jesus. He is my sole-provider. No friend, no person, no conversation can ever take the place of who he has been and will be in these moments of uncertainty. He is my security and my life. He is my fortress and my shield. I shall not want. And I shall be thankful for all the things he’s brought me through.

Troubles, pain, sorrow, uncertainty. I long for a day when the brokenness I feel is completely restored. It will never happen in this life and yet, I ask God for the grace for some of those broken places to be brought to him. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

I hope to remember that the next time I’m feeling numb and disengaged. Trust is a process. It’s an active process. But before I reengage with that fully, I may just follow the advice of someone I trust and go to a quiet place and just read a book. No striving. No self improvement. Just me and words on a page that will melt off of it into my head stringing into happy thoughts, songs of a life that isn’t mine. Situations I don’t really have to face because I’m just reading about them. Time to just get away…

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Sweet Home, Chicago

29 Feb

(Part of the writing practice I did today)

Buckingham Fountain with my friend, Vanessa, back years ago

Chicago:

I called it home once.

The Metra would, without my parents’ knowledge, whisk me away from stark suburbia to The City where magical adventures awaited.

With my friends, I’d skate on State or press my face against the ornate Marshall Fields Christmas window displays, wondering to my teeange self if they might hold the key to happiness.

Often, I would find my way to North Avenue Beach after lingering at the Hancock’s 95th floor to sneak a peak at life above the Lake Effect.

Through Navy Pier I once walked with white platform sandals on Prom night to the Odyssey, the boat where my senior year boyfriend sweetly but naively promised me forever with a $95 purple amethyst from JC Penny.

The lions guarding the Art Institute would welcome me with their protective scowls to discover George Seurat’s version of Sunday in a Parisian park or “American Gothic” and I’d gaze into a window of Edward Hopper’s soul otherwise known as “Nighthawks.”

Chicago means Buckingham Fountain during a summer sunset right before I had to sprint to the 5PM train to make it back in time for dinner without my mother knowing. It is fireworks at the Taste of Chicago and sweaty humid afternoons spent wandering.

It’s me as a production assistant for a commercial at Charlie Trotter’s posh restaurant where I first learned what was really in fois gras.

It is Shakespeare and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, cultural experiences I discovered for the first time on awkward middle school field trips that left an indelible imprint in my memory.

Chicago was my cousin’s church cathedral wedding at the same venue where Cameron Diaz married Dermot Mulrooney in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

It is Giordano’s pizza and Chicago Pizza and Ovengrinder where I discovered heaven as a food.

The piece of heaven I'm referring to

It is ornate bridges and a green river on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s shopping on Michigan Avenue and driving down Lakeshore Drive by myself the first day I got my driver’s license.

It is smokestacks and breath that freezes in your lungs before you can catch it. Buildings so tall I lay down on the pavement just to see them scrape the sky.

It’s the El train and shiny lights at night. Taxis everywhere. Buses rumored to be homes for rats. The financial district deserted by dusk.

Admittedly I have never been an adult while living in Chicago. I’ve become a California girl and replaced a lake with an ocean, bitter bleak winters that build character and frostbite tolerance with February short sleeved mornings with windows down and sunscreen streaks across my arms.

Yet Chicago whispers to me. When I let myself think of it, it beckons. And slowly I let myself remember driving down 290 under the Post Office building into a real City where people work and bustle and toil and become. And in that moment, I go home.

The Hike Where I Almost Died, The Risk That Hurt, Singleness, and Other Mini-Thoughts

29 Dec

Mini-thoughts On My Year – #1

At the end of the year, I often reflect on where I’ve been, hoping to find some commonalities, a story, maybe the imprint of God on my life. This year was no different. An unexpected year, to be sure. A difficult year? Yes, in many ways. But did I grow more? Did I stretch more? Yes. Yes I did. Did I impact lives like I’d hoped to? I’d like to think I did even if it wasn’t in the ways I’d originally thought. Did I love until it hurt? Yes. I can say that for sure I did. Did I come out unscathed? No. I have bruises and scrapes. My heart hurts sometimes from loving this much. Was it awkward? Yes. It is always awkward to love people. When it’s really love, I’ve noticed that it becomes a sacrificial act. And it’s intentional. I had to decide to love even when I didn’t want to. I had to step out. Do things that hurt. Forgive. Grieve. Laugh again. Risk again. Know when I couldn’t participate. Know when I had to push myself forward to take part. I had to trust. I had to examine. I had to let go. I had to spend some time in counseling. I surrounded myself with great people. I realized I have a long way to go. Still do.

Mini- thoughts On Singleness- #2

Note: The following is not a boo-hoo fest on being single. Just a few thoughts I’m processing.

The hardest part about risking and having it not work out is that you sometimes lose a friend in the process. That’s what I’ve noticed about dating. It’s a lot of fun to date and get to know someone else. I highly recommend it and think that it’s necessary and essential if you ever really want to be known. But if you do it right, you’ve gained a real friend when getting to know someone and saying goodbye to that person, no matter how long you’ve been seeing them, is painful.

This is especially the case around the holidays, as I’ve discovered this year. When you see couples and families and get Christmas cards with pictures all over them (which I happen to love, by the way 🙂 ) and you somehow hear every version of “Blue Christmas” ever recorded (the one from Glee is my fave this year!), or when you are just having a sad moment when you remember what it was like to not be alone, it does make it a little difficult for us recently single people.

BEGIN PSA- So this New Year’s Eve or even this next year, if you have someone to kiss or you have kids and a family, remember those of us who don’t and give us a hug. Invite us to hang out with you. I realized the other night when I was hanging out with one of my favorite families and my 5 year old friend was bejeweling my fingers and toes after painting them with hot pink Hello Kitty nail polish, that hanging out with families is so healing for me.  I’m reminded there’s more to the holidays than my blues. I’m thankful for how I’ve seen my married friends and their kids grow.  Hug us. Give us a call. Invite us into your lives. We won’t be sorry and neither will you.  END PSA.  

Mini-thought That Turned Into A Story #3

If I could encapsulate this year in an analogy, I would say it was like this hike that I took in the latter part of this year in Malibu.

The whole point of the hike wasn’t to get to the waterfall at the end, although that was a big part of it. I didn’t know where I was going. At first, it was just a street with a group of majestic mansions on it. It was a beautiful walk but did not resemble a hike quite yet. Little did I know what was coming. After the street, I trekked down through the grass, on a dirt path, through the woods. I got to this point where I literally had to crawl up a steep part of a jagged path. Then after I made it through that, I scaled a couple of boulders and pulled myself up. Finally came the rope. In order to climb up the side of this steep cliff, I had to use a rope and lean back while pulling myself up the side of a mountain. I was parallel with the ground. That took trust. Part of me didn’t want to continue.

After venturing past that and a lot of people, I made it to the waterfall. It was beautiful and tall. Unexpected.

Along the side of the waterfall was this branch that jutted out. Next to that was a slim that one could use, if they were crazy enough, to climb up, shimmying their way across a slippery, thin ledge up into the waterfall. It took a lot of faith, a few swear words, a whole lot of trust, and a few people to help me, but I wanted to climb up into that waterfall and make it back in one piece.

The water was cold even though it was an 80 degree day. It was pelting on my head and I was shaking, getting all of my clothes drenched as I muddied my arms and hands, clawing my way up through moss and slippery rocks until I stood erect in my triumphant arrival .

When I could finally stand and enjoy it, I realized something. I had to figure out how to get back down. I had made it up so part of me knew I could make it. But sooner or later, I would have to start down the waterfall the same way I’d come up. I was surprised when I was able to climb down. It took more effort than climbing up. A stranger literally had to prop me up. I took steps and then backtracked, not trusting where I was stepping. I almost cried. Part of me wanted to jump off although I surely would hurt myself in the fall. In the end, I made it  down to safe ground and I was proud. Proud that I had risked at all. Exhilarated that I could do something like that and not die.

Ever since that moment, I’ve wondered what else I could do. How else can I let myself be surprised? How else can I trust? How can I go through 2012 with more moments of triumph?

Risking in community

Mini-thought on Risk #4

Going back to my year, I’m surprised. Surprised that loss after risk didn’t do serious damage to me or to my friends. Yes it hurts. So much. But not as much as it would hurt if I hadn’t realized what I do now. I know more of what I want after I risked and it didn’t turn out. I am healed more from a past that sometimes feels like a bag full of rocks that I don’t want to carry anymore. As much as it has hurt and still sometimes hurts, the risk was worth it.

Looking Closer for Love Notes

28 Dec

A “Glee” song played at the exact moment when I want to dance. 

Waking up to the Beatles on the radio. 

Christmas lights. 

The smell of broccoli cheddar soup on the stove. 

An unexpected message from a friend on Facebook. 

A whisper in my heart to turn off the radio and tune into an often missed world underneath the surface of the things I worry about most of the time. 

A sober reminder that we only have 525,600 minutes in a year. 

A love note

What do all of these have in common?

They are love notes. My friend, Jessica, told me about love notes yesterday. She said that they are all around and that she looks for them now that she’s aware that they exist. Some probably call them signs. I’m not sure, but I’m starting to believe that they do in fact exist.

Today I began a process of discernment and observation. I’m attempting to make some major shifts in my life and before just jumping in like I often do, I want to step back and observe to make sure that where I’m about to go, what I’m about to put my time into is worthwhile. To observe means you have to focus. It means stopping. Slowing down. Paying attention to these little things that are all around me. It is not easy because it’s actually a huge discipline. But when I do it, the worry stops. Instead, the beauty emerges.

So far, I’ve seen the above love notes. And the pain that I’ve been feeling, the sadness, the waiting, the loss, the hurt, the heartache, the question of why has become much more subtle. It’s muted because instead I’m seeing possibility. I’m seeing hope and a future. I’m believing that there’s something else happening that maybe I just don’t see or haven’t been able to see lately.

Earlier I was watching the movie, “Soul Surfer” about the young surfer, Bethany Hamilton, who survives a shark attack but loses her arm. In the movie, they discuss this idea about being so close to something that you can’t really see it for what it is. I feel like this about my life recently.  I’m so close that I don’t always have perspective. So I will actively observe. I will watch. See. Observe. And in the process, I’ll hopefully stumble across some of these love notes that my friend keeps talking about.

I want to look closer at my life. At the beauty around me. During all of the moments when I’m worried or anxious or insecure, I easily forget that God has a story for my life. I’m starting to remember. Here’s a little reminder.

From my favorite movie, “American Beauty”:

Ricky: It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me. Like a little kid beggin me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid ever.
Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember. Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it… and my heart is going to cave in.

 

“Rent” asks the question, how do you measure a year? 

“In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.” 

It was all of the above. I learned truth. I cried a lot. I said goodbye to some people I needed to let go of. I died to myself over and over.

I’m proud of this year. I’m proud of where I’ve been. I’m proud of where I’m going. Right now though, I’m going to look closer and hopefully find some love notes from God that will guide me in the direction I’m going.

A few days left of 2011. Make ‘em count.

 

“How will this be, since I am ____?”

2 Dec

In my reflection this morning, I came across a powerful thought that was spoken directly from the lips of Mary herself. When the angel came upon her and frightened her, telling her she was about to bear the son of God, she asked the angel a question that is similar to a question I’m constantly asking God.

She says, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Good question, Mary. It seems impossible. For all intents and purposes, it IS impossible. Except that it wasn’t.

The question of “How?” surrounds me. If I’m in this hard place, HOW will I ever feel better? If my friends are struggling with getting pregnant, HOW will it ever work for them to have children? If I have so many great single girlfriends, HOW come they aren’t married yet? If my friend’s mom has cancer, HOW will she get through it? If something in my friendships or family relationships is off, HOW will it become right again? If there is so much injustice in the world HOW will God ever be able to make it right? HOW will I ever attain all of these dreams that God’s put in my heart?

“How will this be, God?” Sometimes God takes his sweet time answering. On those days, I honestly just cry through my shower and then cry through my lunch break and cling to the hope that things are going to get better soon. Sometimes on those days I get encouragement from a friend that gets me through it and that’s enough for that moment. But then there are those times that I’m full of hope after asking the “how” questions. Times when I remember that just because I ask how doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Mary questioned her calling. She questioned God. And yet she still became arguably the most famous woman to ever live. Not that it’s all about fame,  but my point is, God was not disuaded by her questions. She still had an assignment. She still fulfilled it. She was scared. She was young. She was unsure. But she said yes to it all despite the how. She trusted that although she had a How, it would all work out.

So I’ve been asking myself another question. “How am I going to get through the holidays?” They seem harder this year. Lonlier. More “going through the motions.” Luckily, I’ve been studying advent and the anticipation of the coming of Jesus. And in small moments I remember that’s what it’s about. The anticipation. It’s not about me and my problems. It’s not about all of the junk I’ve been carrying around. It’s about that whisper that comes between Christmas carols. It’s about the breath I breathe when I first get out of the car on a cold, December night that’s crisp and smells like burning leaves. It’s about those moments of joy I feel in between my tears. In those moments, the HOW fades away and I anticipate. I remember why I believe. I remember that God is good. I am alive right here and right now. And I think that if I miss those moments, I’m missing the point. Sure it’s okay for me to be in this season. Most days it’s really hard. But I can still ask how. I can still wonder. And maybe in between those moments, I can remember Mary and realize that her “How” wasn’t the end of her story. It was really just the beginning.

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