September, 2013

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Out loud

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Sheesh, thank you for your wonderful words of solidarity and encouragement after Monday’s post. I’m humbled, truly.

A few things I haven’t mentioned:
1) This blog has a Facebook page!
2) I’m on Instagram!
3) I’m NOT on Twitter (this girl is not me) – you know I need more than 140 characters.

But let’s connect on Facebook and/or Instagram, shall we?

Also, you may have noticed that the Music tab at the top of the page has disappeared. This is temporary. It’s probably time that I tell you that I’m writing again – writing toward a project that is slowly coming into focus. If I say it out loud it has to happen, right? But I’m so nervous to say it out loud (too late).

Seriously, after typing that, my hands are shaking. I just stood up and had to flap my arms out.

I hope you have a great day, and I really hope that Deacon and Rayna are okay.

Sunrise into day

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Things look different here (you might need to refresh your browser). After 6 years, it was time.

I loved that photo, the one taken in a Kansas field, sun-drenched and vibrant and glamorous – because who wears heels in a meadow? That girl was a great girl, bold and impulsive. She had so many wonderful things ahead, things that she couldn’t have dreamed even if she tried. She was running full speed into the unknown, and the latter half of her 20s was sensational, to say the least.

She was happy, and she didn’t know it.

But then again, her life was censored. She didn’t know that, either.

The field was eventually plowed over, and townhomes went in. That flowered chair ripped apart, and so did her family. Her free spirit was trampled into the dirt. Her skinny thighs got a little bigger, while her confidence got a little smaller. And one night, the left stiletto on those red high heels snapped right off.

Uncensored reality can be ugly. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that the last several years have been dark for me. You’ve tracked along with what I now know to have been seasons of crippling depression and despair. And when the struggle got to be too much, I just went on auto-pilot, choosing monotone over minor chords through a variety of anesthetics.

But Brené Brown says, “We cannot selectively numb emotions.” She’s right: when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb joy, love, and compassion. And what kind of a life is that?

So I’ve taken that idea to heart, and have spent the past year plowing forward into the darkness – which, by the way, has been about as fun as venturing into my spider-infested cellar with nothing but a Zippo. But at least I’m seeing things for what they really are, or at least closer to the way that they really are. These days, the veil is lifted, for worse and for better – and there is a “better.”

So it’s time for this space to be fresh.

Life is quiet these days, and largely uncomplicated. It’s also lonely, although that’s probably mostly by choice. If I told you the last time I went on a date, you would cringe. I have more questions than answers, and the things that are unresolved – the broken relationships, the questions of purpose, the nagging insecurities – peck at me from time to time.

But somehow, there’s an element of contentment. I am rooted – not necessarily geographically, but in who I am and what I’m willing (and not willing) to wait for. I can’t say exactly when it happened, but I feel a simple confidence that just like there are good things behind, there are good things ahead.

The light is soft, the colors gentle, and the good hair days abound.

Thanks for being here through the slow, slow changes. Here’s to more light and laughter in the midst of the quiet unknown.

Change comes slow,
And sometimes you don’t notice
The twilight into darkness,
The sunrise into day
-Jill Phillips, “If You Were Here”

Intuition

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Three months ago, Colorado was in the midst of out-of-control wildfires. Everything was brittle and dead, and when the summer storms started, the lightning-induced fires were hard to contain.

And because this state is completely bi-polar, today is a very different story.

Unless you’ve been living under a (dry, well-insulated) rock, I’m sure you’ve heard that Colorado has been experiencing major flooding in the last week. The worst of it has been north of Denver in the Boulder/Longmont/Fort Collins area, and the images are heartbreaking. Some people have lost everything. Some have died. Hundreds are unaccounted for, and they expect the death toll to rise.

Still, I thought I’d wander alone into the wilderness on Saturday. DON’T WORRY – I headed south, away from the floods.

:::::

“Have you ever been turned back by weather?” he asked.

I thought about it. There was that one time where we arrived at the trailhead and it was already snowing, so we knew we were doomed from the start – but aside from that, never. Each and every one of the 35 14ers I had attempted, I summited that same day.

“When it happens – and it will happen – it will be good for you,” he said. “It will make you a better climber.”

:::::

On Saturday morning, I headed up Humboldt Peak with the hopes of it being my 36th 14er – but 4 miles in, I had to turn around at tree line. The top of the mountain was encased in a thick cloud, and even if I didn’t sense electricity above, I knew that if I lost the trail, I’d be done for.

I was disappointed. I had wanted to check another mountain off my list. But I listened to my gut, just like I did on the road to the trailhead when I came to a spot that I just didn’t think the Subaru could clear, and thus abandoned ship (have you ever reversed down a 4WD road? Lord, have mercy). And when you listen to your gut, when you act on conviction even when it goes against what you want – it builds confidence.

My friend was right: being turned back by weather was good for me. It confirmed that intuition is trustworthy – that instinct should be honored. I can only imagine the times in the future when this lesson is going to come in handy.

On the way back to Denver, I stopped in Westcliffe where I ordered coffee from a completely no-nonsense lady. Then I took a different route home from the road I’d driven to get there, soaking in the beauty of the state and feeling a million miles away from the flooding.

Despite the fact that I wanted to climb 7 14ers this summer and only got 4 (the last one being two months ago, for shame), I recognize that living life continually at full throttle sometimes just makes you want to throttle yourself. Maybe it’s better to enjoy the moment; after all, fires and floods remind us that nothing is guaranteed. And in the meantime, perhaps learning to trust your gut is as big an achievement as reaching your intended destination.

Shotgun, revealed

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

It’s no secret that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t like to admit that I’m a person in process, because I would love for everyone to think that I have it all together 100% of the time.

Well, I don’t have everything together 100% of the time. And as if there weren’t already enough hilarious (read: mortifying) reminders of this on a daily basis, I am now the owner of a 113-year old house – and it is definitely not perfect. The roof leaks in the kitchen, the hardwoods are scratched and stained and disintegrating, the backyard is completely dead, and there is no central air, leading the thermostat on the wall to read 86° every minute of the last 3 months.

But it’s mine, and I love it so much. I’m working to fix things, one tiny dollar after another. Little by little, it’s coming together, and although it’s taken me 4 months to start to feel settled, these 600 square feet really do feel like home.

So here it is – the Shotgun, revealed*! Although I’m not showing you the outside because then you would come and steal me.

THEN

NOW

I know. You have to walk through the bedroom to get to the kitchen. It makes everyone uncomfortable except me, because hey, I’m the one who gets to sleep 5 feet from the refrigerator (life dream).

I’m trying to not make it Girlyville, hence the burlap curtains, selection of bourbon, and a few gender-neutral pieces. The last thing I need is for a man to like me only to be driven away by my decor like the girl with the unicorn house in “Dodgeball.”

Someday I’ll show you the bathroom. But I guess it won’t be today – because truth be told, I forgot to take any pictures. Poor bathroom, always being overlooked.

There are still things I want to do with the space, of course – new windows, a gallery wall in the hallway, building a closet to hide the washer/dryer, sealing the exposed brick in the bedroom, installing an awning over the back window, somehow fixing the standing puddle of water on the roof over the kitchen (any ideas?) – so more to come. But for now, I think it’s pretty good start. And I’d love to have you over any time for wine or whiskey – or more likely, both.

*Please do not judge my photography. I have no idea how I’m related to We Are the Parsons. I’m going to make my own company called I Am the Parsons, and it will specialize in horrid blue/green lighting and zero skills.

When you can’t go back

Monday, September 9th, 2013

On Friday, I witnessed a tragedy. It’s not my story to tell, but everyone who experienced it was deeply affected, and I spent the afternoon close to the surface, eyes brimming with tears. That night when I called my mom, I erupted into sobs, undone because what happened could not be undone.

I spent Saturday morning quiet, sad, in my backyard pulling weeds. The yard had been sprayed a few weeks ago and everything was brittle and dead, but I needed to clear the ground. As I worked the roots out of the dry dirt, I realized just how many foxtails I was dealing with.

The foxtail weed looks like a wheat head, small and bristly. When Toad would come in from the backyard, her legs would be covered in them, and I would pull them off one by one. But then Becca told me that foxtails can burrow themselves in a dog’s skin, working their way deeper and deeper – and like a porcupine quill, they can only move in a forward direction. Once in, their awn-shape makes it impossible to pull them back – you can only hope that they’ll work their way out someday.

I never let Toad in the backyard again.

When horrible things happen, we want to reverse them. Most of the time, they’re irreversible.

The only thing to do is to keep moving forward, looking for the light.

Labor Day

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

I don’t feel much like getting up from this bed. My legs are stretched out in front of me and crossed at the ankles, left over right, giving me a good view of my newly pedicured toes. I broke one of them a few years ago – stubbed it on my couch, the one I bought brand new – and it still juts high above the other four, like an adobe hill out of the desert, the kind that gutsy kids use as a bike ramp.

It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bike, even though the Trek I got for my 14th birthday is currently crammed into the mudroom of my house, the front wheel turned perpendicular to the rest of the frame, blocking the doorway. I step over it whenever I go into the backyard, which is infrequent now that Toad is gone. I keep thinking I should put air in these tires. I should ride to work. Or I could try to sell it. Homeowners can always use extra cash.

It stresses me out, money. It always has. When I was a kid, I would pull the dollar bills out of my piggy bank and count them, splaying them across my bedspread, the ones together, the fives. Then I would walk across the hallway to the laundry room, set up the ironing board, and turn the iron to low. The literal smoothening of my money somehow translated, and when the stack of bills was crisp and orderly, so was my spirit – at least, so I thought.

Last night in a church pew, I wrote my September budget on a Post-It note. I had not been to church in – months? It must be. And already, the rhythm of the service felt unfamiliar. Do we really stand for this long? Funny, I went to church nearly every Sunday for 30 years, but take me out for just a few months and all of a sudden attending feels new.

I like it when things feel new and fresh. I also like it when things feel familiar and routine. This desire for both roots and wings is a tug-of-war, and I’m right in the middle of it, and I don’t know if I’ll be pulled to one side or the other or just torn in half.

They – three different friends now – say that they think I’m “on the verge.” Of what, they don’t really know, and it would be silly to speculate. But I feel it, too – the sense that something is almost. I wonder if it will feel like roots or like wings.

So I pray. I think that prayer is important – not so much because I think God will do what I ask, but because it reminds me that I’m not him. Not so much because God is a shelter from the storm, but because I hope he’ll stand out in the rain with me. Not so much because it leads to the absence of pain, but to the presence of love.