Quiet

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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”

No-vember

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

If I happen to cross your mind during the month of November, this is how I would like you to picture me:

Yes.  Please picture me as a happy farm girl with a smile on her face (pig optional).  November will be a month of me keeping the cows and chickens from going to the dickens.

See, I’m feeling more at peace these days than I have in the past year and a half (in case you’re wondering, I credit counseling, the Bible, more sleep, and less alcohol).  I’m learning to be less anxious.  I’m learning to see situations that would usually make me afraid as opportunities to practice trust.  I’m learning that time doesn’t heal everything, but it does heal some things.  I’m learning that hope seen is not hope at all.

After spinning and striving and trying so hard to keep up with life, I find myself with a surprisingly (and blessedly) quiet month on the horizon.  In the spirit of simplicity, I’m choosing to keep it that way.

So Happy Halloween from “Farm Girl,” the only thing I thought to be – and I’ll see you in December.

To rest is to waste, and other lies

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Sophomore year of high school, my algebra class was the last period of the day.  Every Friday, in the last two minutes before the bell would ring, the teacher would stand up in front of his squirrelly students and give the same speech: “I know you’re anxious for the weekend.  You’re thinking about all of the fun you’re going to have, all of the time with your friends, how you don’t have to come to school for two whole days.  But listen: the minute you walk out that door, the clock starts.  The instant that the bell rings, time starts ticking away, getting smaller and smaller and smaller.  Right now – this moment – is the very best part of your weekend, because it’s all still ahead of you.  But,” he would famously finish, “IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE.”

Cue the bell ringing, and me sprinting out into the weekend, hell-bent on not losing a single second.

Who knows how formative my high school math teacher’s speech was in my current life.  All I know is that I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, to succeed, to do more and do it well.  I find it next to impossible to sit still, and it’s hard for me to separate “time rested” from “time wasted.”  Add it to the list of reasons why “Annie needs therapy”: in my mind, nothing-doing is synonymous with failure.

This belief system keeps me moving at a frantic pace.  My busy, busy job takes up the vast majority of my brain space, and whatever is left is instantly snatched up by family, friends, exercise, and commitments.  If I have a free day, I fill it up – if I have a free HOUR, I fill it up.  If “vacation” is defined as “a scheduled period in which activity is suspended,” then I have never taken a vacation.  Ever.

Years of a rapid, anxiety-driven lifestyle are catching up with me.  These days, I am so tired.  I find it hard to breathe, and even harder to think.  Stress has reached an astronomical level.  My shoulders are tight and knotted.  I’m starting to believe that the biblical concept of a Sabbath isn’t such a dumb idea after all.

So it’s after 9 on Sunday morning, and I’m still in bed.  I skipped my original plan of getting up at 3:30am to climb two more mountains in favor of a day of nothing-doing.  I can’t remember a day in which I had zero plans – and even though I’m tempted, I’m choosing to not feel guilty about allowing my heart and my brain and my body to rest today.

It’s all downhill from here.  But maybe that means I can sit back, close my eyes, and just coast – if only for a day.

Clean slate

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

You have no idea how symbolic this bumper is of my life right now.

A fresh start?  A clean slate?  An empty void?  A hella fine backside?

Maybe just pure potential?

Interpret as you will.  Private Self is asserting herself these days.

But I can tell you that in one way or another, it has something to do with this.

Saving grace

Friday, March 5th, 2010

In the midst of this move (because a move doesn’t just happen, you know… it is a process that takes place over a period of time – however long it takes, really), I have had hours upon hours to myself.  I think that I am predisposed to handling solitude a lot better than most – I don’t mind being alone, and in a lot of ways, I thrive on it.

But what I’m finding is that while quiet is good, silence can be hard.  A girl can drive herself crazy with the thoughts that she thinks in silence.  The vacuum of nothingness attracts all manner of mental material – because, as a wise man recently told me, “nature abhors a vacuum.”

Granted, he was trying to encourage me that my singleness will not be forever (dear sweet Jesus, please and amen), but still.  Same idea.

To fill up the hours and keep the silence at bay, thankfully, I have running.

In a small way, I think that running may be saving me during this move.  I am running 5-6 days a week, and at least one of those days is 10+ miles.  I’ve mentioned it before on this blog: what has come over me?  I didn’t become a runner until last year, when I trained for my first major race – and that was with my beloved East Nasties, who I do not have here in Denver.  I am stunned at my own commitment in their absence.

While running with the Nasties last year was just as much a social opportunity as it was a training regime, running alone is proving to be a discipline.  I have to corral my thoughts – because while my body is incredibly strong these days, it’s my mind that needs a crack of the whip.

In 2009, running was theirs – something that I participated in, but I didn’t own.  It didn’t belong to me.  But this year, running is mine.

Then again, perhaps I’m just avoiding the silence.

Keep walking

Friday, February 19th, 2010

There are a lot of days that I don’t feel like blogging.  You would think that with my complete absence of a social life in a city where I am totally anonymous, I would have all the time in the world to come up with universe tilting posts – but no.  Sometimes life is just quiet.

Snow is on the ground, and my couch is finally being delivered this morning.  I’m spending the weekend in Colorado Springs with my parents.  Mom just finished infusions for round 3 of chemo, which means she’s over half-way done.  The snow might interfere with my long run this weekend.  Work is busy.  I spend most of my free time alone, and can usually go from the minute I leave the office until arriving back the next morning without saying a word to anyone.  I go to the gym every night.  I still don’t have the runner’s booty.  I watched “The Hurt Locker” and had dreams about bombs.  I’ve gotten some wonderful Real Mail recently, and sent some back.  Denver continues to wrap me up.

So many of my beloved extroverted friends would come unhinged if this was their reality.  Thankfully, there is grace enough – and I, introverted Annie, don’t mind it.  Life feels strange and restrained, but not in a bad way.  Maybe one day I’m going to get lonely – but that day is not today.  Until it is, I’m going to just keep walking forward.

This all might sound so simple and dull, but it felt nice to write it.  It’s what I’m living.  I’m grateful.

Revival

Monday, February 1st, 2010

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my feeeeeelings.  For those of you wishing to keep a finger on the pulse of my emotional health, this one’s for you.

I remember around this time two years ago, soon after I had moved to Nashville, feeling lonely and afraid and sad.

This move could not be more different.

Not much scares me these days.  I don’t know why this is, why this time I feel so much more stable and confident – maybe because my reasons for moving are different than what they were two years ago.  Maybe because of what I experienced in my time in Nashville.  Maybe because I’m just a little bit older.

Nashville was an amazing two years – but it was loud, and it was painful.  I will never be sorry for the time that I spent there, but to be honest, it felt like being put through a cheese grater.  A big part of me died while I was there.  I was stripped of a lot of things: dreams, expectations, confidence, even truth.

A lot of times, I forgot what I know to be true.

This past month has been quiet and understated – a welcome change from the chaos of my life for the past two years.  I miss my friends in Tennessee, and start to feel a bit left out when I think of their lives going on together and without me (because how could they possibly live without me?), but most of the time, I feel calm.  My heart feels still.

I have no idea and no expectations for what this season in life will be or bring about.  But I am seeing glimmers of revival in the parts of my heart that I thought were dead and gone.  It feels foreign, but it feels like hope.

Day off in Denver

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It’s 10am, and I’m at my kitchen table drinking coffee in my pajamas.  Julie is still asleep – I can’t blame her, she drove 1,200 miles to get here.  We had dinner with joeljoeljoel (SHOUT OUT) at the Cherry Cricket last night – have I mentioned that Denver is a destination?  Since I moved here 3 weeks ago, I’ve met up with at least 5 out-of-town friends who have just randomly been in my new city.

That is an invitation, by the way.

Because Julie is here, I’m taking today off of work to go explore the city a bit.  The plan is to walk to the downtown public library (because I drive past it every day, and it is gorgeous), maybe stroll through the Denver Art Museum, hoof it to REI, and the whole time, keep our eyes out for a place to have dinner tonight.

Tomorrow, we’ll head to Colorado Springs to be with my mom and our friend Lisa, and on Sunday morning, we’ll go on a long run.

I am so thankful for easy, low-maintenance friends.  Julie doesn’t care that I don’t have a couch or a TV, or that we went to bed before 11 last night.  We can’t be exciting all the time – and the ones who know this about us and honestly don’t care?  They are keepers.

This is my brain

Friday, August 14th, 2009

fried_egg

No drugs required.

I have 5 different possible directions to take this post, all of which are saved as fragments of Word documents on my desktop.  I have been trying to write for days, but quite frankly, everything that is coming out is baloney.  All I can do is stare at the wall.

Y’all, I am exhausted.  And when I am exhausted, I get super pessimistic and woebegone.  Another car honks at me, and I burst into tears.  I find myself presented with chocolate peanut butter brownies, and immediately eat 4.  And then I eat half a frozen pizza.  And tortilla chips.  And maybe some cream cheese on a spoon.  My mind wanders when it should be focused, and I am serious when I should be playful. When I feel overwhelmed, human interaction is the first thing I cut out.  I criticize my body, my abilities, my decisions.

I do not like who I become when I am exhausted.  And I do not like how other people experience me when I am exhausted.

So I’ve been staying quiet.

I’ve been writing in this open venue long enough to know that there are certain things that I should not share.  There are certain times that I should not write publicly.  There are certain emotions that should not be accessible to just anyone.

I make my insides far too available.

But I’m learning to protect my heart, trusting it only to those who have earned it.

So forgive my silence as a simple act of self-preservation.

Off the grid

Monday, July 20th, 2009

On Saturday afternoon, just after discovering some sort of maggot larvae undulating in my bottle of cumin (do you have any idea how long I’ve waited for the opportunity to use the word “undulate” – and how this horrifying experience totally wasn’t worth the satisfaction?), I deactivated my Facebook account.

I am trying to give my spirit a fighting chance at being still.  It’s amazing to me how unaccepted that is in today’s culture.  But Facebook felt like it was adding to the noise and clutter in my mind, and is, thus, worthy of a hiatus at the very least.  That’s about all the explanation I am willing to give.

I am just now realizing that this means no one will get a reminder that my birthday is coming up.

WORLD: MY BIRTHDAY IS COMING UP.

I know that I’ll reactivate it sometime relatively soon(ish), but until then, if you want to find me, you know how.