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Monday, September 29th, 2014

“Do you find the tension between seeking contentment and desiring more, difficult? I do, certainly.”

Those were the closing lines of an email I received last week from a woman who has lived more life than I – and just like that, she so concisely distilled my entire life’s dilemma. Perhaps you relate?

Contentment in its truest form is a beautiful thing, and worth cultivating. But personally, I can easily confuse contentment with complacency – an artificial version of “satisfaction,” keeping my dreams and desires in the OFF position.

Contentment should never be at the risk of betraying one’s heart.

I used to feel a little sheepish that I (still) love the song “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid – but not anymore. Why shouldn’t I love it? The lyricist, Howard Ashman*, perfectly articulates the honest acknowledgement of restless desire, regardless of how much one has – which is actually quite profound.

I want more.

When’s it my turn?

Contentment and wanting more seem to be in direct opposition of each other – and like my friend Joey recently said, “I think that for some people, it’s honestly just harder to be happy.” And if it hadn’t been 10 in the morning, we would have clinked whiskey glasses.

The trouble with wanting more is that we’re never satisfied. The beauty of wanting more is that it cracks our lives wide open – for better and for worse, but ultimately for better. It’s like when you love someone. Loving makes you vulnerable to pain. Loving means there’s a lot to lose.

Loving can make you afraid. But being loved means you don’t have to be.

I don’t know that any of this makes much sense, and I don’t know if I even mean for it to. All I know is that I want MORE – and I’m not talking about the material things (although I’d definitely take another pair of Frye boots if you’re offering), but just… more. Life. Depth. Beauty. Freedom. I don’t want to play it safe – because this is what Mary Oliver calls my “one wild and precious life.”

What if there’s more for me? What if there’s more for you?

IMG_2720

(Once on a trip to Texas, I forgot pajamas. I raided the Target sale rack, and obviously chose this.)

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*From what I’ve learned about Howard Ashman (and trust me, I’ve obsessed over the man), I so wish I could have met him. His work on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin is some of the best musical storytelling there’s ever been. Watch this short clip, and try not to fall in love with him. And then watch this longer clip and witness Jodi Benson sing like a laser beam.

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

Crossroads

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I know.  I KNOW.  I haven’t blogged in hundreds of hours.

What’s been going on, you ask?  Well, this happened.

Whatever dramatic scene you’re envisioning, yes, it was all that and more – although probably more hilarious than you imagine.  Poor Toad.

Another thing is that I mentioned to someone something about Gadhafi being dead, except I pronounced it “Gandalfy.”  I like make believe more than reality, it seems.  I can’t help it.  The Real News is too heavy sometimes.  So when I go to CNN.com, the first thing I check is the Entertainment page – where, yesterday, I learned that the kid from “Jerry Maguire” just turned 21.  And then I promptly died of old age.

In other news, I’m at a crossroads of sorts.  It’s general and yet specific and encompasses a lot of defined areas of my life without being about any one thing in particular.

How do we ever know the right thing to do?  How do we ever know the best decision?  And if we make the wrong choice, is the rest of our life derailed?  (I know that the answer is no, but just humor a girl who often feels the need for hyperbole.)

Hope floats (not the movie)

Monday, October 10th, 2011

As one who grew up in the church, I have had moments in the last several years when I have wondered, “Why am I a Christian?”  Is it just because I was raised to believe what I believe – or is there a deeper reason?  Do I have faith on my own, apart from my family and friends and community?  If I was born in another time and place, would the core of what I believe be the same?

These are big questions, especially for someone who has never had much opportunity to separate God from the American Christian church – and I, like many others, have learned that the church is not always the best representation of what the Christian faith is about.

Come to think of it, *I* am not always the best representation of what the Christian faith is about.

Personally, I have struggled with a lot of cynicism and doubt, especially in the last couple of years.  I don’t doubt that there is a God, but I have wondered if he is, indeed, involved in an intimate way in our lives.  Did he create the world, set it spinning, and then just step back?  Does he really love us – not just in a “whole world in his hands” kind of way, but in a deeply personal and specific way?  When the Bible tells us that God says, “I know the plans I have for you,” does it mean that there is, in fact, a PLAN for our lives?  Is God truly in the details?  Does he care if I choose option A or option B?  Does God care, period?

I’m supposedly a grown woman these days, free to live as I please, and no one is making me go to church.  The stable home and family that I had always known has recently crumbled beneath my feet.  While my childhood and college years were spent largely in church-centric settings, I’m out in the “big, bad world” now, surrounded by plenty of kind and intelligent people who would not necessarily align themselves with the Christian faith.  So what is it about this Jesus?

Some days, when life hits me like an avalanche and I’m pummeled by rocks and snow, left jarred and confused and not sure which way is up, I can be at a loss for answers.

But in the midst of all of my questions, here is what I know.

Regardless of what I believe, or what you believe, or what anyone believes, humans ask the eternal sorts of questions.  Where did I come from, and where am I going?  What is my purpose?  What is good and what is evil?  What will happen to me after I die?  All of us have wondered these things – they are the deep and primal questions of the soul.  Why would we long for answers if there wasn’t a supreme truth?  This makes me trust that there is a God, and that there is an ultimate answer – and that even if the details might be fuzzy and confusing now, I believe that one day we will see the truth clearly.

When I think of my own path, and how many times I have been tempted to give up hope – for little specific things, or in an overarching way – the moment hope returns is nothing short of a miracle.  I mean it – it’s a miracle.  It’s not by my own doing – I cannot will the hope back – it’s not the “triumph of my human spirit” (because trust me, my human spirit isn’t that strong – currently, it’s shriveled up and ugly, like newborn Benjamin Button).

But hope just keeps coming back.  I can’t shake it.  And every time it returns, I think that there must be a God who loves me, Annie – and maybe he even has a plan for my life.  Maybe he’s somehow steering the course, despite my anger and doubt and fear, and all of the times that I’ve thumbed my nose at him.  Maybe I don’t have to believe that “everything happens for a reason,” but maybe I can get behind the idea that “nothing is ever wasted.”  Maybe there is a purpose and a design to the apparent chaos of my current world – maybe it’s actually getting me where I’m supposed to be.

Maybe it’s less about “being a Christian,” and more about knowing Jesus.

I may not have all of the answers, or see the truth clearly.  I know that many who read this don’t believe the same things that I do – and I’m not going to try to convince anyone of anything.  This blog is not a tent revival (yelling and sweat have never really been my thing).  But in the words of Frederick Buechner:

A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, “I can’t prove a thing, but there’s something about his eyes and his voice.  There’s something about the way he carries his head, his hands, the way he carries his cross – the way he carries me.”

That’s all I know.

Game plan

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

On this little blog, I don’t really talk in specifics about my dating life (do I have a dating life? You’ll never know). In the event that any given romantic endeavor doesn’t work out, I can handle my own disappointment – but the collective devastation of us all? That would just be too much.

I actually approach a lot of things like this. Unless something is a “done deal,” I don’t really volunteer much information about it. I have a secret project right now that will be blogged about at some point, but not yet. I have some upcoming plans that you’ll hear about, but not until they are fleshed out a bit more. I have some big ideas and dreams and such, but right now, they’re just that: ideas and dreams and such. Blame it on the fear of everything coming crashing down, but for now, my lips are sealed.

So with that said, maybe it’s a risky thing of me to talk about something that is by no means a “done deal.” But tomorrow, I have an appointment to go look at a car – one that, from the ad, looks like it very well might be “the one.”

And I have no idea how to buy a car.

And my dad is out of the country.

And I’m afraid of making the wrong decision.

Mike already pointed me toward a very helpful video of Cliff Huxtable and his game plan for negotiation. I plan on showing up looking one step above homeless, and talking about the moment that I realized I was poor (when I started eating the heel of the bread). But beyond that, I’m nervous that I’ll overlook the important things.

So, blog readers, tell me. What is a Carfax? What are the important questions to ask? What repairs should be red alerts? And when all else fails, is “going with my gut” as good a plan as I’ve typically found it to be?*

*Except for that time when I spent $400 on a date at a date auction.  But I don’t talk about dating here.

I trust you, blog-readers.

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I have a confession: I have never listened to Mumford & Sons.

I know.  They’re, like, all the rage these days.  But I don’t even know what they sound like.

Everybody loves them and will probably murder me for not being on the bandwagon already.  Who knows – maybe if I heard them, I would promptly die of love anyway.

Julie tells me that one of my strong suits is the fact that I know what I like, I know what I need, and I know how to say no to things that don’t fall into those categories.  Other people tell me that this makes me a boring, prudish, unenlightened killjoy – but then again, they just promptly earned themselves a place on my List of Things I Don’t Really Like.

Other things on my very short List:
– Watching sports
– Going out to lunch
– The Twitter

But really.  I’m trying to be more OPEN.  Should this list actually be called the List of Things I Don’t Really Like (Even Though Maybe I Should)?  Tell me the truth.  I’ll believe you.

And if you tell me to listen to Mumford & Sons, I’ll do it. You have the power.

In terms of love

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Is it better to have high expectations, or none at all?

You guys have come through with some excellent thoughts in the past – care to pipe up again?

How?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I was going to talk about Seattle today.  I was going to tell you how much I love that city, how much I miss it, how much it still feels like home, how much being on the water is necessary to my emotional health and survival, how much my friends mean to me, how much I would love to live there again someday.

But all of that lovely, aching wistfulness has been hijacked by something I was reminded of last night.

I’ve been a member for 8 months, but I don’t know where the bathroom is at 24 Hour Fitness.

I know where the women’s locker room is, and I’ve gone in there looking for a restroom.  But I can’t find it.  I’ve looked everywhere, around every corner.  I’ve found the showers, the sinks, the lockers, the scales, the mirrors.

But I cannot find the toilets.

How?

At this point, I’m too embarrassed to ask.  I mean, it’s too late.  They KNOW me there.  My window of opportunity has passed, and now I’m on my own to to figure this one out.  Godspeed, little gym rat.

But I really do love Seattle.

You know how sometimes…

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

- your hair just needs to be cut?  Immediately?  Because all of a sudden, and without warning, you are Morticia?

– you wear the black racerback tank with the rainbow graphic eagle on the front?  Because it’s so awesome?

– you eat breakfast at an oatmeal cart?  Because this is Portland?

– you hear a song that changes your life?  Because it gives you the words and the framework to deal with what you couldn’t deal with before?  And it’s called “Closer to the Moon” by Alli Rogers?

– you write a blog in a format that gives the illusion that we’re all on the same page, when really, we’re probably not?  Because not everyone can own a black racerback tank with a rainbow graphic eagle on the front?

More questions than answers

Friday, June 11th, 2010

How is 7-11 still in business when most of them don’t even have gas pumps?  Are Slurpees really a big enough draw?

How can I lose so much hair every day, and still HAVE so much hair every day?

What does a stress fracture feel like?  Do I have one in each ankle?

Where can we find the world’s greatest mac & cheese?  Should it have lobster in it?  Should it have green chilis in it?  Should it have cream cheese in it?

Why can’t “lackadaisical” mean “twirl in a twirly dress”?

(I so wish “lackadaisical” meant “twirl in a twirly dress.”)

How many times will I go to 3 Crow Bar and Ugly Mugs next week?

Why did I buy that baggy dress at Target last night?

How can almonds have so many calories?

What are you doing this weekend?

Just wondering.