Growth

...now browsing by category

 

Heads and tails

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

For me, Nashville is a safe place to land. It’s a city that always welcomes me back and tells me that I belong.

After spending last week with friends, holding new babies and touring new homes, being surrounded by people who know me and accept me, talking about life, love, and other mysteries (not this), I found my heart creeping back to that place that it always goes: Do I want to move back?

But I know that the question is bigger than that. It always is. The real question is, Is my life what I hoped it would be?

And for the entire 17-hour drive back to Denver, Foxy curled up in a ball on the passenger seat, I turned that question over and over in my head, an existential coin toss.

I don’t live in Nashville – tails. But I do live in Denver – heads.

I don’t get to see these people on a regular basis – tails. But I do have them as friends forever – heads.

I’m not independently wealthy – tails. But I do have a job that, most days, I really love – heads.

I don’t have a guest room – tails. But I do have a charming little hut just big enough for my dog and me, with high ceilings and skylights and an interior brick wall and a gas stove and a clawfoot tub – heads.

I’m single – tails. But I am single – heads.

Sometimes we choose our circumstances, and sometimes they choose us, and sometimes the only choice we have is to choose them back.

Fox

How to be Social: A Guide for the Introvert

Monday, June 17th, 2013

I love a big party. I’m far from shy. I can carry a conversation, nail a job interview, draw a stranger out of her shell, and tell a good story.

But I am also an introvert, which means that if left to my own devices, I would hang out by myself basically all of the time. I don’t hate people, I don’t hate fun, I’m not (always) socially awkward – I’m just more content than the average person to be alone. I like being alone. I need it. When I’m alone, I feel creative, laugh out loud at jokes I make up in my head, drive my car in silence, and sort through my emotions like a boss.

But just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean that I’m immune to loneliness. And just because my tendency is to choose solitude doesn’t mean that it’s always the best thing for me.

So I’m learning how to occasionally combat my natural disposition, because I believe that people are actually pretty spectacular creatures and it’s worth it to spend my time with them. Go figure.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on How to be Social (and So Can You!).

:::::

PLAN AHEAD
When it comes to social activity, introverts aren’t the best with spontaneity. For example, if I drive home from my open floor plan office where I’ve been within arm’s reach of people all day long and I don’t have any evening plans, chances are that I will turn down any last-minute invites to spend time with friends because LEAVE ME ALONE.

But when an introvert puts something on the calendar and has an opportunity to mentally prepare, the chance is greater for social success. So I’m trying to project out a week or two in advance and agree to at least one event each week. And then I spend the days before gathering up every ounce of energy I can muster in hopes that I’ll be happy and personable when I attend the event. Sometimes it works, sometimes it…

Sometimes it works.

TAKE RISKS
I don’t like to do things that I don’t know I’m going to enjoy or be good at, so I tend to stick with what I know. I eat the exact same thing for breakfast every single day, I don’t go wakeboarding, I ignore volunteer opportunities, and I hike alone so there’s no chance of awkward conversation with a companion. Then again, there’s more chance of death by bear mauling. I suppose that’s the trade-off.

But I’m learning to just say yes, even if I’m not so sure about it. Go see a band I’ve never heard of? Yes. Look a stranger in the eye at the grocery store? Yes. Head downtown to an event even though I don’t know exactly where to park? Yes. The little risks add up, and all of a sudden, I’m meeting new people and doing new things and the story of my life has literally changed.

HIDE IN THE BATHROOM
When I find myself surrounded by people, I’ve decided it’s okay to take breaks to clear my head. I politely excuse myself, shut the bathroom door, and lean my head against the doorframe like a crazy person about to lose her mind. It’s okay.

But I’m not allowed to escape out the window, and neither are you.

Take a deep breath, fix your hair in the mirror, and get back out there. Take it from me: introverts are fabulous, and it would be rude to withhold ourselves from the world.

SPEND TIME ALONE
Counterintuitive, yes. After all, aren’t we talking about how to be social?

But introverts are wired a certain way. We will self-destruct if we don’t take the time to refuel in solitude. If we pressure ourselves to DO MORE! SAY MORE! HANG OUT WITH PEOPLE MORE! all of the time, we will fall apart and probably be a miserable person to the people we’re trying so hard to interact with.

Hole up sometimes. You’ll thank yourself later.

:::::

Yesterday, I didn’t leave my house until 4pm. I spray painted a picture frame and played guitar and watched three episodes of “The Bachelorette” (a topic for another time) and wrote a few emails and organized my bathroom and did laundry and reveled in extravagant silence.

Then, when it was time, Toad and I walked out the door and we drove to a party in Boulder. I chatted with people I had never met, caught up with the few I knew, and put two chicken breasts on the grill so I would have dinner for a week. Later on, I drove to Lafayette and walked into a house I’d never been and met a bunch of new people, and I took out my guitar and we all played songs and sang, and I learned 4 chords on the banjo so I could be as backwoods as I’ve always known I am, and I whispered about heartbreak to a new friend, and when the clock read close to 11 and I finally left, I put Toad back in the car and we drove through the darkness in silence and I thought, “Whatever today was, I want more of it.”

Girl, interrupted

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

… and we’re back.

I thought about making a video to give a glimpse into my life in November, but if I had, it would have been full of long, drawn out silences and artsy frames of my face staring off into nowhere.  Trust me, I respect you more than to put you through that. The month was fairly quiet, nothing exploded, and I crossed off each day in my calendar as it passed.

It’s an odd thing we do, this virtual sharing of our lives. The internet is still a new frontier, and WE are the ones determining the etiquette – how much to tell, how vulnerable to be, what is meaningful, what isn’t. In real time, we are succeeding and failing and flying and flailing – and we’re often giving hundreds (if not thousands) of people a front row seat.

When it’s great, it’s really great. But when it’s not, it’s magnified.

As far as this blog is concerned, I’ve been playing it safe. Having once written from a very authentic place, I’ve been sharing less and less – and what I do share is surface-level, at best. I’ve wanted to maintain an image of having it all together – of being fine, even when I’m not. I’ve wanted to be cool and smart and witty; I’ve wanted you to like me. There, I said it.

I have spent years chasing excitement, adventure, and change – looking to validate my existence with various and sundry admirable feats. I’ve sought interruptions to the mundane, and solicited drama to avoid being bored with my life (or, more exactly, disappointed with my life).

But it turns out that what I’ve needed has not been an interruption of circumstances, but an interruption at the core of who I am.

These days, my sense of self is being torn apart in the best possible way. Oh, sure, it can feel like being put through a cheese grater, painful and terrifying, like the pieces could never possibly be put back together (unless they were melted in a microwave) (which doesn’t sound much better).

But it’s been SO GOOD, you guys. Humbling. Necessary. And it’s leading to good things.

In fact, Greta, who knows me better than just about anyone in the world, recently wrote to me, “I just feel like you’re leaving this very safe, very small, very familiar square of space and heading out into the biting air – and now you’re WALKING and FEELING and seeing things. I see you MOVING right now, more than you have in years.” What an encouragement to have someone who can recognize the things that we’re too close to see.

And how ironic that the acceptance of what I’ve historically thought of as an “ordinary” life could actually lead to much greater truths: freedom, clarity, peace.

I am still very much in process. I have jack-nothing figured out. But I am tired of holding my breath, hiding beneath the surface-level words posted in this space. I am ready to come up for air, no matter what it might look like, no matter who might see the inevitable thrashing (and you know there will be thrashing).

So thank you for being here, whoever you are. Your presence, even virtual, makes a difference to me. Our stories are meant to be shared – and I’m grateful to have a chance to share mine with you.

Keepers

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

If eyes cleansed with tears see the most clearly, then today, I have perfect vision.

Sometimes, I think that I’ve gotten really good at confessing my tiny faults in hopes that no one will ever suspect nor discover the big ones.  But lately, I’m not very good at hiding them – and as a result, have been pummeled with my rather large, rather imperfect, imperfections.

I guess that’s bound to happen when you exist in relationship with other humans.

We are messy creatures.  I am a messy creature.

And sometimes, it brings a lot of tears.

But I’m learning that the people who stay – the ones who don’t run away when the going gets tough, the ones who listen without trying to fix, the ones who forgive ugly words and flat-lined attitudes and the same old shit that you carry around no matter how your life changes or morphs or moves – are worth anything and everything it takes.

Communication.  Honesty.  Vulnerability.  Compromise.  Effort.  Forgiveness.

I am learning a lot.  And I don’t call them my “starter husbands” for nothing.

– – – – – – – –

My friend Heather (SHOUT OUT) recently told me that this blog is the only “Dear Diary” blog that doesn’t make her want to vomit.  Well, that kind of made me want to vomit, because wait – I don’t write a “Dear Diary” blog, do I?

Who am I kidding.

Enough about my feelings.  I’m changing the subject.

I woke up this morning with 7 spider bites on my thigh, abdomen, and armpit.

I never go to movies, but all of a sudden, I want to see a ton: “Away We Go,” “Harry Potter,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Julie and Julia,” “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (you know during the preview where he says, “You have a choice,” and she says, “I never had a choice”?  I LOSE MY MIND), and “500 Days of Summer.”

I wish I had a cute lunch bag.

Friends old and new

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

My friend Matt is in his second year at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, and the other day, he emailed me saying, “I miss Seattle more and more. Yet, sadly, it’s becoming more of a memory than an old reality.” What an unfortunate truth – and one that has been sneaking into my own way of thinking in recent days. Seattle will always, always be home. But all of a sudden, it feels further away. I hear about the things that my friends are doing, and the new people that they have met, and I see pictures of them having fun in my favorite places, and it all just feels so… far.

I know that my friends will always be my friends. But space changes things. Distance changes things. Time pulls certain people and circumstances away, away, away, like taffy – and the longer we try to hold on, the more stretched we become.

But when we learn to let go – when we choose to let go – we find other hands to hold. They are not replacements. They are not the same. But they are wonderful and beautiful in their own unique ways – ways that no one else could be – and they are walking a parallel path to mine in this new chapter. I have found some of these people, and I am so grateful. And as my friend Emily mused about her own life in a recent email, “I don’t want to miss this good season because of selfishness or envy.” Me neither.

My friend Joel wrote to me, “I think that if you take steps, at every opportunity, towards your dreams, you generally find that somewhere along the way, you’re actually living the dream.” All of the little steps that I have taken since leaving Seattle have led me to where I am now – 10 months into a new life in Nashville, new relationships, a new perspective. I am not the same girl that I was when I arrived – this time has changed me. I have seen sides of myself that I never knew existed – and some that I would never care to see again. I have doubted and despaired, and I have lived and laughed. Many, many times, I have cried – and I know that I will cry again.

But today – beautiful today – the tears are nowhere to be seen. And today, I feel like I am living the dream. So take it from me. If you are thinking of making a life change or taking the plunge or chasing a dream, do it. It’s never easy. But it’s always worth it.

And my new friends are making this whole thing so much more fun.

Publicizing my goals

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

I woke up late again. Therefore, it is a “lick my palms and smooth my hair in my reflection in the microwave door” kind of morning. I suspect that whenever I think back and remember working an 8-5 desk job in Nashville, the words “not” and “cute” will be associated with my appearance. It’s just too early.

I’m taking a wee break from playing writer’s nights in order to work on my guitar skills. Being self-taught up to this point, I decided that lessons would be a worthy investment, so I had my first guitar lesson last night. I had visions of walking in, telling my teacher exactly what I wanted to learn, and walking out Slash – but of course, it doesn’t work that way. I have been doing music long enough to know that you have to start with the basics in order to have the capacity to improvise or extemporize or appear effortlessly versatile – and never having gotten the basics in the beginning, I have a lot of back-tracking to do.

But mixed in with the C-scales and proper posture and music theory, there is a bright and shining light. At some point in the hopefully not-too-distant future, I will be flawlessly playing the opening lick to “Pretty Woman.”

Can you say party trick?

I spent two hours practicing last night, reminded of the hopeful, burgeoning feeling that used to occur for me at the beginning of each school year. A fresh start! A new resolve! The possibilities! I’m going to master this! Nothing can stop me! I am disciplined! I am capable! “This is my nooooooow…!”

I wish that I could bottle that feeling. Eventually, it always fades, and I fall back into the darkness of passivity and lethargy. It’s why I have never yet run a half-marathon – a long-time goal of mine – it just seems too hard. Too far. Too much. I honestly do not believe that I can do it.

Which is why I have to do it.

Consider this my formal announcement that on April 25, 2009, I will be running the Country Music Half-Marathon. If I say it on the blog, then I have to do it, right? And this gives me plenty of time to, you know, become a runner.

And hopefully before that, a “Pretty Woman” guitar player.

Losing teeth and growing up

Monday, October 29th, 2007

This weekend, I talked to a 7-year old girl who had recently lost her first tooth. A gap in her grin, Claire told me that no, it didn’t hurt when the tooth fell out. Something about the momentous occasion that losing your first tooth ever is took me back to my own experience of the occasion.

I remember having that tiny bottom baby tooth, no bigger than a Tic-Tac, wiggling back and forth, back and forth. My tongue would push it around each day, loosening its bond with the gum, fretfully anticipating the day when it would finally fall out. My older brother Jeremy had already lost several teeth, and he assured me that it was a crazy experience – painful and traumatic – a right of passage that he had survived, and valiantly, but not without agony. He encouraged me to tie a piece of dental floss around the tooth, and attach it to a door, which he offered to slam; this would be a far less torturous experience than the slow, natural process.

I was terrified.

In my limited knowledge, I believed my brother. My fear forced me into trusting that his experience would be mine, too – that this was going to be the most harrowing event of my young life. And there was no escaping it. Unquestionably, the tooth was going to fall out, like it or not – and I would probably lose a lethal amount of blood in the process.

How often do we take someone else’s word for it? I know that I regularly listen to other people’s accounts of their exploits, good or bad, and assume that if I tried the same thing, my experience would be identical. My fear keeps me firmly imprisoned in settling for the truth that others have experienced, and not challenging myself to test the waters on my own.

But I am relishing my new-found callously courageous existence. I am learning to trust my gut, and make bold moves simply because what if it works? I am finding the balance between listening to the advice of those trusted friends who have earned the right to speak into my life, and letting go of the inessential pointers from the peanut gallery.

I think this is what “growing up” feels like.

When my first tooth finally fell out, it was painless. I felt around with my tongue, detecting the vacant hole where the tooth had once stood, and thinking that the gap that was left felt impossibly large. I lived. And the next time, I wasn’t so afraid.