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Bouncing back and living forward

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

It is a truth universally acknowledged that we can’t always date who we want.

I’ve been both the rejector and the rejectee – and even if it’s mutual, it’s still the pits. Blame it on timing or distance or one person deciding that they’re just not that into the other; whatever the circumstance, love can knock the wind out of you.

I’ve grown really hesitant about writing about singleness online, mostly because sometimes it brings up some well-meaning but largely unhelpful responses (not from YOU, my compassionate friends. But from The Others). For example:

  • Love will find you when you’re not looking. I would wager that 95% of couples I know were “looking” when they found each other – cab light on, antenna up, and putting out the vibe.
  • Just be content with God alone – then he’ll bring you a husband. As if marriage is a reward for the very most devoted. Super lame formula.
  • Maybe you should try online dating. It’s 2015 – of course I’ve tried online dating! A bunch of times. And while I know plenty of people who have had great success with it, I hate online dating more than I hate pickles, which is a lot, which is why I don’t do it anymore. It just doesn’t jive with me. If this decreases my “odds,” so be it.
  • I can’t understand why you’re single. While I know this is usually meant as an encouragement, it insinuates that there must be a “reason” I’m single. What if there’s no reason, except that I am? I can’t give a reason.
  • You should enjoy this time. I am enjoying this time. I am traveling, spending and giving money the way I deem best, investing in friends both male and female, pursuing some passions, learning, moving where and when I want to, and reveling in the delicious silence of living alone. Silence is a gift. Someday when babies are screaming and – God forbid – Caillou is blaring, I will shoot up my veins with the stored silence of these quiet days. I am taking full advantage of this relatively uncomplicated life and living well, as best as I know how.
  • You’re just too intimidating. I can’t tell if that’s an insult or a compliment, but either way, I am drawn to men with guts.
  • Here’s a rough one: Pity.
  • And finally, my favorite flurry of contradictions: You should flirt. You should play hard to get. Stop being picky. Keep your standards high. Look for a guy at church. Look for a guy at a bar. Look for a guy on the top of a mountain. Put yourself out there. Just pray about it. Try harder. Just stop trying.

May I gently suggest some alternative things to say to a friend who happens to be single and hopes to someday not be?

  • I think you’re a catch. That is, if you really do think that. If the person is a schmuck, well, I suppose you’re allowed to say that too.
  • I’m sorry that this feels hard today. Regardless of one’s relationship status, I think we can all agree that some days are great and some days suck.
  • I am so hopeful. This one is especially good when the other person is tired of hoping. I’ve found it really nice to occasionally let someone else carry the hope for me, like a really huge backpack, until I know I can take it back.
  • You’re doing a good job. Period.

These days, I can honestly say that most of the time, being single doesn’t make me sad – because in so many ways, I love it! Even when I experience false starts. When the guy I’d been on three dates with and decided that I really liked texted me when I was at Home Depot to say he thought we should just be friends, or another guy called me before a first date to tell me that God had told him not to take me out (?), or even in the wake of a recent romantic bummer, I’m bouncing back and living forward – which is the healthiest thing to do, no matter if one is single, dating, or married.

We can’t always date who we want. We can’t engineer our lives to manipulate our futures. We can’t speed up time, and we can’t predict what’s going to happen next. We can’t control another person. We can’t “If You Build It, They Will Come” love – unless you are building a brewery.

But we can still choose to be happy. And I’m getting pretty good at the choosing.

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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”

Seasons

Friday, May 25th, 2012

For me, the year is split up into four different “seasons.”

Fall is running.
Winter is gym.
Spring is walking.
Summer is hiking.

When it comes to exercise, these are my natural inclinations – during that particular season, the corresponding activity just feels RIGHT. They’re not mutually exclusive – I’ll still go on walks in the fall, or to the gym in the summer, or hike in the spring – but by and large, the weather and the air dictate my workout, and this spring, I’ve found myself a 9-mile walking loop.

I start at home, and head south through the Sunnyside and Highlands neighborhoods until I hit Lohi. Then, I cross the pedestrian bridge to downtown, and wind down Platte Street past REI. With the rollercoasters of Elitch Gardens off to my left, I walk underneath the Speer Bridge and past the Denver Aquarium, cross back over I-25, and through Jefferson Park. It’s a mile to Sloan’s Lake, which I circle, and then make the long trek north back to the house where I drink a gigantic glass of water.

Last night, my friend and former co-worker Anna joined me on this walk. If you know Anna, you know that she is something special: kind and generous and authentic, an insanely hard worker, and uniquely talented. Also, if you know Anna, you know that she will probably be embarrassed that I wrote those things.

Sorry, Anna. I would say you’re lame, but that would be a lie – and I’d rather go to heaven.

Anyway, Anna has been in Denver since last September, and has done such an amazing job of embracing this current season of life. She, like many of us, finds herself in some unexpected circumstances – but has marched forward and done the things that feel right – for right now. Her current season is helping to determine the direction that she goes, and she is rolling through with such grace and aplomb. For a girl like me – often hell-bent on bulldozing my own path, come hell or high water, with nothing but The Future in mind – it’s so inspiring to see Anna live in the moment, enjoy the simple things, and take each day as it comes.

There are seasons to life, and adaptation is key. Like my exercise-of-choice, different seasons call for different routines, different practices, different processes. Little by little, and with friends like Anna, I’m learning to embrace my current season, shelving my expectations for the future, and experiencing the Now.

Except I’m really excited that it’s almost hiking season. You understand.

[Quote by Gabrielle Blair. Who made it into art? I don’t know, because sometimes Pinterest fails us. If this is your picture, let me know so I can credit you (and tell you that you’re great).]

Denver 2010ver

Monday, December 27th, 2010

When I moved to Denver a year ago, it was on an open-ended basis – I moved to be close to my family as my mom underwent cancer treatment, but had no idea what the future would hold. I decided to live it up and soak in every bit of Colorado that I could, since I didn’t know how long I would be here. I ran hundreds of miles all over the city, and went to concerts, and climbed mountains, and got involved in a church, and made some friends, and felt grateful every single day to work for a company that made it possible for me to live close to my family during this time.

And now, it’s been a year, Mom is doing awesome (cue the confetti, for real), and nothing is “officially” holding me here in Colorado.

But I’m going to stay anyway.

I’m going to staaaaaayy exclamation point!

I’m going to dig in here, and see what Denver might have to offer me, and what I might have to offer it. I’m going to move forward into the unknown, even when it’s tempting to go back to what’s familiar and comfortable.

Because trust me, both Nashville and Seattle are tempting, wonderful, good options. I have people who love me, and people that I love, and opportunities and connections and community and a heart that bursts at the thought of any number of amazing memories. I wonder if I’m crazy to make a life for myself in yet another city, when I already have ready-made lives in other states.  In a way, it’s scary to think that I’m deciding against these wonderful places that I love so much, because, as Tom Petty says, “Well, the good ol’ days may not return / And the rocks might melt, and the sea may burn.”

But, you know – I’m learning to fly.

And I can honestly, wholeheartedly say that I love my job, I love the mountains, I love my family, and I love a good adventure. Why NOT stay?

This is a good decision.

But friends?  Please come visit me.

Tug

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Well, what can I say. There you are, chugging up the hill, successfully pulling the heavy load – and then in one brief moment, the balance shifts, and the load is pulling you.

Life is a cosmic tug of war.

– – – – – – – –

So, tug.

– – – – – – – –

Laughing Cow now makes blue cheese wedges.

If you don’t like blue cheese, you won’t like them. Then again, if you don’t like blue cheese, it’s time to accept the fact that you just don’t have good taste. Then AGAIN again, Laughing Cow is made of “cheese product” – so why do I admit to loving it anyway?

– – – – – – – –

Tug.

– – – – – – – –

Do you know Holly and Meagan? If you don’t, you should. I (finally) met them in person on Sunday night, and they are the deep sigh of relief you breathe when you realize your soul is safe.

It’s a rare thing for me to fall head-over-heels in love with people so instantly. We’re already scheming ways to see each other again.

– – – – – – – –

Tug.

– – – – – – – –

I am not in control – even when I think I am, I’m not.  I cannot force the world to spin a certain way, nor can I force anyone else to act or think or feel any way other than the way they are going to act or think or feel.

But I always have a choice for me.

– – – – – – – –

Tug.

– – – – – – – –

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Christopher Robin to Pooh

We’ve come a long way

Friday, January 29th, 2010

September 2008:

picture-51

January 2010:

picture-7

My ponytail is making a spectacular comeback.  It’s almost a full-blown mane of glory.

Also, please take a moment to note the difference in my work environments.  Thank you, Emma, for saving me from Sir Allen Stanford.

In response

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Hearken back to Monday’s post.  What was meant to be a shoulder shrug, a lark, a lighthearted jab at my pal Andy, actually sparked quite the response.  While I got a lot of “You go, girl!” comments from women, I have been much more impacted by what I have heard from the men – whether in comment, email, or response via their own blog post.  And while there is no way that I will be able to say everything that there is to say today (yeah, or ever), here is what has been rattling around in my brain this week.

If there is anything that I want to be, it is humble – humble, and teachable.  So THANK YOU to the brave dudes (especially Joey – the catalyst for many of these thoughts today) who had the guts – spine – balls – to challenge my thinking.

Which brings me to my first point: it was wrong of me to emasculate men – denying them of the very thing that makes them male (um… balls… sheesh, I can’t wait to see what keywords bring people to this post) – for not being able to communicate in the way that most women would like them to.  I am not a man-hater – I LOVE men! – and in no way desire to make eunuchs out of a bunch of surely well-meaning guys.  I’m sorry for sounding – snip, snip – harsh and judgmental.

Here’s the deal: in an ideal world, men would communicate clearly.  In an ideal world, women would communicate clearly.  In an ideal world, both sexes would have eyes to see and ears to hear the other person loud and clear.

That is obviously not the world that we live in – due to culture and socialization and upbringing and experiences.  So things get a little bit muddy, a little bit complicated, and sometimes, a little bit… hostile.  Men aren’t up front with their feelings.  Women send mixed signals – a “come hither” straight into a stiff arm.  One person doesn’t know who he is, the other doesn’t know what she wants – or vice versa.  Television only adds to the confusion, portraying men as bumbling idiots, and women as capable-yet-snarky ice queens (think “Everybody Loves Raymond,” or “Home Improvement”).

Who are we?  Who should we be?  Men and women alike are confuzzled.

I so wish that was a real word.

When it comes to love, we’ve all been hurt.  We’ve all been disappointed.  We’ve all got skeletons in the closet, and wounds that haven’t quite healed.  And for as much as we want them, it’s easy to make the opposite sex into the “enemy.”  I have my own stories – things that have happened that have made me a bit gun-shy when it comes to putting myself out there – and when I think of these disgraces, even years later, I still want to bury my head in the sand.

I think it’s safe to say that on a very fundamental level, women want to feel “worth it” to a guy – worth the risk, worth whatever it takes.  But hello – this is 2009.  A man can’t exactly prove his devotion by riding into battle with her hanky in his pocket.  So some of us feel like the least he could do is say, “Hey, you seem great.  I’d love to take you out sometime?”

Then again, the feminist movement sort of threw a wrench in that plan.  We women-folk sure asserted our independence, didn’t we?  Dang it.  We’ve stabbed ourselves in the back.  But that’s another post entirely…

Bottom line: I am backing off from the stance I took on Monday, however playfully I meant it when I first wrote it.  I don’t expect for a guy to take the reins, run the show, ask me out, sweep me off my feet, order me the lamb chop at some swanky restaurant while I sit mute and adoring.  Can you imagine?  Me?  Being conquered?  I do hope for a partnership, with honest and frank communication, equal parts respect and affection – and prior to a relationship, I think that means that both parties are going to need to communicate our interest in whatever way makes sense.

Sigh.  This just zapped every ounce of brain power I possess.

We all just want to matter to someone.

I wish it was easy.  And I hope that one day, it will be.

Weightless

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Yesterday, I threw away my scale.

Just like that. Trashed. Into the dumpster.

I am a compulsive weight-checker, always keeping tabs on my poundage, and consequently tempted to feel either good or bad, happy or sad, proud or ashamed, jubilant or angry. It’s amazing how a great day can be ruined by a number – a NUMBER – like an ever-shifting scorecard for whatever level of healthful diligence I have demonstrated.

In the last few months, I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated at the number on the scale RISING – despite my ability to run further than I could ever run before, despite my capacity to carry on a conversation throughout a 60 minute jog, despite my clothes fitting the same, despite my energy and improved attitude. In the face of all of these accomplishments, the scale says that I weigh 10 lbs. more than I did before I started running last fall.

And for a girl who has been a dieter since age 11, this is traumatizing news.

Miranda has been telling me for years to just throw the damn thing out. She would get outwardly angry when she would see it in the corner of my bathroom, and, knowing the emotional stranglehold the scale has on me, would order me to get rid of it. But for me, to get rid of the scale would be to give up control – and then, maybe, to expand, expand, expand like bread dough.

At first, I thought that I would just take the scale and stash it beneath my bathroom sink – out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. For me, keeping my scale would be like staying friends with an ex-boyfriend on Facebook – an unhelpful temptation “just to check.” Sorry boys.

And sorry scale.

It’s time for a new chapter in my life – one in which I have no idea what I weigh.

Who knew that tossing out my scale would be one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done?

Making strides

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

When I moved to Nashville, I had two goals: to play at the Bluebird Café, and to run a half-marathon. Let me say it again: SQUEEEEEEE! But the running thing is still… how should I say… in process.

I hate to run. The other night, I tried to go running, but called it quits after a mile and a half. I am not “Chariots of Fire” material; however, should they ever make a movie called “Lazy Lass,” I will be the leading lady. I think that God created me with the spiritual gift of lying in bed watching “Oprah” and drinking wine – it’s in my genes. Every ounce of energy that I expend is a battle – one that I am willing to fight, but not something that comes easily.

But my friend Hunter tells me that anyone can be a runner.

A few weeks ago, I heard about a running group that meets on Wednesday evenings in East Nashville, and runs a 3-4 mile route. That’s farther than I’m used to running, but thinking that I might find more motivation by joining a pack of people than doing it on my own, I showed up last night.

The route was 4.32 miles. I need to say it: GOOD LORD. I had never run that far in my life. But when I looked at the clock, and then did the math, I realized that I was going to HAVE to run the entire thing – no walking, no resting – because I had the Handy Graham coming over at 7:30. And if I was going to make it home in time, I had to RUN.

As one who doesn’t have many opportunities to “achieve” or “accomplish” in her everyday work-life, it was a HUGE satisfaction to run, and finish, and do something that I didn’t think I could do. I ran – I ran slowly, but I ran. I was home in time. And I felt proud.

By the way, if you live in Nashville, hire Handy Graham. He’s great. AND, he was voted “Best Handyman” in the Nashville Scenesee? I know. I have impressive friends.

Lest I leave you hanging…

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Plastic bags
I have a confession: I’ve forgotten my canvas bag TWICE. Both times, I slunk out of Harris Teeter (oh yeah, did I tell you that the grocery here is called Harris Teeter? Ironically, it was the site of this smudge on my dignity), stealthily surveying the parking lot for any blog readers who might catch me with the plastic bag contraband in my hands. Once safe in my car, I leaned my head against the steering wheel, counted my lucky stars, and then prayed that God would heal the earth of global warming.

Otherwise, it’s steady on with my mission to save the planet.

The weather
Oh my word. I am in heaven. I am Miss Congeniality. I am Maria Von Trapp. I am a Disney princess whose hair is braided every morning by cartoon birds. October has always been my favorite month, and I am happy to report that there is no geographic chauvinism involved when it comes to autumn: October comes through in Nashville just as it comes through in Seattle. Praise be.

Dan Evans
What can I say? The man is totally redeeming his name!

After contacting him via MySpace with a quick note saying, “Hey, I’m the girl whose TINY car was clobbered by your GIGANTIC bus,” I received the sweetest, most apologetic message in response. He graciously offered to cover any damage, and even had some very kind words about my songs. I wrote him back saying, “It ain’t no thang,” asked for a free CD, and said that when he’s back in Nashville we’ll go for a beer.

And so, in about two weeks, we will be real-life friends.

Thus ends any Dan Evans smack-talk. I won’t have it. He’s won me over!

This weekend
This afternoon, I am rushing off to fly to Kansas City for the weekend. I have 3 Southwest drink tickets, and will be sharing with two friends of mine who are booked on the same flight. I will probably not have the chance to blog tomorrow, since the three of us will be otherwise occupied doing something that is currently non-bloggable. But should a day come when it IS bloggable: oh sweet mercy, it’s going to be good.

But maybe… just maybe… tune in over the weekend. I’m hanging out with my nephews, which typically instigates some sort of hilarity.