July, 2012

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20 things learned in my 20s

Monday, July 30th, 2012

It’s the final week of my 20s, y’all.  I’m running down 30 like a lion runs down a gazelle, or, in the case of “The Lion King,” a wildebeest runs down Mufasa.  [Wah, wah – killjoy.]

Nothing against the 20s, but can everyone agree that they are some weird years?  Don’t get me wrong, the 20s haven’t been all bad – most of my best stories thus far happened in this decade – but I am ready to move beyond them.

However, I have learned a thing or two or twenty in my 20s.

  1. Suitcases.  Do not own a gigantic suitcase.  You will be tempted to fill it up completely – which means it will weigh over 50 lbs. and result in a penalty fee at the airport.  Invest in a smaller bag to keep yourself in check – you won’t wear all of those shoes anyway.
  2. You can’t do everything.  Growing up in America, kids are taught that they can do anything.  And while it’s true that we have a tremendous amount of options and opportunities open to us, it’s important to remember that we cannot pursue every path.  Even the most abundant life involves choices – and saying yes to one thing oftentimes means saying no to a plethora of others.  This is okay.
  3. Learn what’s worth the investment.  Good concealer is.  A good sports bra is.  A good set of knives is.  Wine glasses, bangle bracelets, and sunglasses are not.
  4. Wherever you go, there you are.  When faced with the temptation to run – from a city, from a relationship, from a job – don’t count on the change of circumstances to fix your problems.  Three or six or nine months down the road, you’ll wake up and realize that you’re the same person dealing with the same stuff.  Tackle the real issues – which are probably with yourself, anyway.
  5. Don’t drink & Facebook.  Just don’t.
  6. Hang curtains.  It ain’t home until the curtains are hung.  As one who has moved a lot (a lot a lot), I’ve realized that fastest way to make a room feel “finished” is to hang curtains.  But you won’t find me wielding the drill – it’s good to have an excuse to talk to boys.
  7. Most conflict is fueled by fear.  When someone attacks you, it’s safe to say that in some capacity, they’re probably afraid.  Let this knowledge give you grace for that person.  On the flip side, when tempted to lash out, inspect your own heart for insecurity.  You’ll probably find it.
  8. You can either be right or be happy.  Have enough humility to not have to be right all the time.  I’m working on this one.
  9. No muffin tops.  Listen up, ladies: I have it on good authority that men do not care how much you weigh, nor what pant size you wear, nor any other kind of “number” you attach to your self-worth.  Take care of yourself.  Exercise in a way that feels enjoyable.  Eat colorful produce.  And then buy clothes that actually fit, no matter the size.
  10. Student loans are not “free money.” They are not.  You will pay – for a very long time.
  11. Dating.  I’ll just go ahead and say that 90% of dates are a waste of a Crest Whitestrip.  But that doesn’t mean that they’re a waste of time.  Sometimes you meet a good one, and sometimes you feel understood and seen, and sometimes you connect and talk and think and laugh, and sometimes you get kissed like the angels sing, and it’s… the best.
  12. A dog is a big responsibility.  But worth it.
  13. Nothing is unforgivable.  Growing up in the church, I was taught in a round-about way that certain sins are worse than others.  These days, I do not believe that this is true.  We are never past the point of forgiveness, and never too far gone for grace to hit us like a tidal wave.
  14. Don’t mess with your cowlicks.  You will not win.
  15. Dreams are important.  Pay attention to them, make time for them, foster them, and grow them.  The best dreams are the ones that you’ve had since you were too young to know your so-called limitations.
  16. Don’t let money be an obsession.  Be a good steward of your cash.  Watch where it goes, and be aware of how you’re spending it.  But good grief, sometimes it’s okay to spend the extra $4 for guacamole on the side.
  17. You cannot change your body.  Oh sure, you can gain or lose weight.  But your height?  Your hips?  The shape and length of your legs?  Those are here to stay.  Get nice and comfy with them – because no amount of dieting or running or stretching is going to change your basic body structure.
  18. Being single is hard, and being married will probably be hard – just like being single is great, and being married will probably be great.  No matter what relationship status you find yourself in, there are going to be tough parts and great parts.  There’s no use in playing the “grass is greener” game, because once we reach “the other side,” I’m pretty sure we’ll find that it’s all just grass.
  19. Trust your instincts.  You’ve lived long enough to know when to go with your gut.
  20. And finally, it’s okay to be happyIt’s okay to be happy!

I know that 30 is just a number, and that Saturday, August 4th will be just another day, but I can’t help but think that this birthday signifies the beginning of a new chapter.  It’s a cause for reflection – for looking back and remembering, and then looking ahead and hoping, and ultimately, feeling so thankful for the good gift that is my life.

A sense of home

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

My grandma has lived in the same house for 57 years.  Fifty-seven.

She spent the entirety of her marriage there.  She raised her children there, from infancy to adulthood.  Her kids, her grandkids, and her great-grandkids have eaten in that same kitchen, swam in that same pool, and sat on that same front porch.  She has attended the same church, shopped at the same grocery stores, seen the same neighborly faces, and driven the same streets for a lifetime.

I recently sat down and made a list of how many times I have moved.  In the 12 years since I left my hometown of Montrose, Colorado, I have moved 18 times.  The longest I have lived in any one place is 2 years (a studio apartment in Seattle); almost all of my tenures have been less than a year.  A total of 13 scattered months have been spent with no address at all, squatting with friends or family for short fragments of time, all of my possessions boxed up in basements, garages, or storage units.  I am on my fourth set of friends, with countless other relationships far-flung around the world like a constellation.

Perhaps this is the norm for my generation, but at this point, the concept of home barely rings a bell.  I don’t know where my home is.  But I know that I crave it with every ounce of my being.

Last night, I went to Red Rocks for the first time ever, and heard James Taylor play “Carolina in My Mind.”  Before he began, he told the audience that he wrote the song in 1968 in London.  There he was, recording overseas, with the accolades and attention of some of his heroes (two of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, are actually featured on the track); by all worldly standards, he had reached “success.”  But even with his accomplishments, he explained, he had been so homesick – and that prompted him to write and record this song that so many of us now know and love.

Old or young, famous or not famous, home calls to all of us.

My grandma has lived in the same house for 57 years – but we know that her time here on earth is winding down.  Even for one with a very strong sense of home, she can’t stay.  What an ache.

But I believe that our true Home is more than just a spot on a map.  It’s more than geography and more than circumstance and more than time.  It’s where my grandma is headed, and it’s what James Taylor sings about, and it’s what my own heart longs for.  It’s absolute familiarity and comfort and permanence, a lack of insecurity and an abundance of joy – and it’s closer than we think.

In the meantime, while I’m in this life on earth, I am thankful for little reminders of Home: a cup of coffee in whatever house I wake up in, a flawed but precious lineage, and the songs of James Taylor.

Reminded

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

First things first, thanks to everyone who has called/texted/written to make sure I’m okay.  I am not dedicated enough to go to a midnight showing of any movie, let alone a Batman one – and in fact, I wasn’t even in Colorado on the night of the shooting.  I am very much okay, aside from being horrified along with the rest of the country.

I am reminded once again that this world is not a safe place.

Other things have been going on in my life – big events, changes of plans, last minute flights.  I spent the week in in Richland, WA, feeding ice chips to my grandmother, smoothing her hair back with a wet washcloth, sleeping on a too-small hospital loveseat.  I hate cancer with a passion, and in spite of missing a week of work, there was no doubt that I was exactly where I needed to be.

I am reminded once again that family always wins.

Life continues to feel fractured and imperfect, and “happiness” isn’t something that I feel much of these days.  But even when walking in the cold shadows, we are bound to come across patches of warm light – the trick is to just keep moving.  I am moving.  And I’m encouraged by the moments of warmth, and trusting in a hope that is bigger than circumstances.

I am reminded once again that “happiness” and “joy” are different things.

(Bosom) Friend Fridays: Lacey Gault

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I can’t believe I haven’t told you about Lacey.

This girl is a VIP in my life, a hall-of-famer.

Two years ago, I went to church.  It came time to “greet the people around you” which, let’s be real, is my least favorite time of the service.  Usually I plan my bathroom break around it.  It feels like junior high all over again – standing up to greet someone, only to be met with the possibility that MAYBE NO ONE WILL TALK TO ME.  Or if they do, MAYBE I SHOULD BE WEARING TIMBERLANDS.

But on this particular day, I turned to the girl sitting next to me, and she had the warmest smile and most genuine manner.  We introduced ourselves, but instead of then moving on to greet other people, wonder of wonders, we continued talking.  She was nice.  She was cool.  And beyond being a stunner (which she obviously is), Lacey is warm, funny, and real.  She told me that she had recently moved to Denver from St. Louis, and that she was a nurse on a bone marrow floor.

She made an impression.  Because of this girl, who I didn’t know from Adam (or Eve?), I signed up to be a bone marrow donor that week.

Not long after we met, Lacey and I made plans to grab a drink at a local bar.  We thought we would have a beverage, catch up, and then make it home at a reasonable hour – but this was NOT TO BE, friends.  It was NOT TO BE because we were… recruited to be in a music video.

I can’t even explain how it happened, but one minute we were sitting at the bar, and the next minute we were in a dark basement surrounded by a bunch of yoo-hoos, pantomiming a club scene, continually standing where we shouldn’t be.  The “director” (I use that term loosely) kept yelling at Lacey, “Tall girl! Move!”

I am mortified to confirm that yes, this music video exists out there on the internet – but due to our vow of secrecy, you will never, ever find it.

Lacey and I have steadily grown closer over the past two years, meeting for wine or walks, talking about everything from faith (belief and contention) to body image (we are girls, nice to meet you) to dating (obviously).  Lacey is the kind of person that makes people feel good about being themselves, and despite her insane social schedule (the girl is popular), is never too busy to look you in the eye and ask the important questions.

She rocks the red lipstick.  She can wear a romper and make it look cool.  She is equally comfortable in a dress or on a mountain.  She is compassionate and wise and up for anything.  Denver is lucky to have her – I am lucky to have her – and my faith in the greeting time at church has been renewed.

Wrong number

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Here’s a text I got last week.

Seems… sensitive.