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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

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The Advent/Christmas tree is up. It has pockets.

Advent started yesterday, and as is my (recent…within the last few years) custom, I put my Christmas tree up on the evening of the first day. All those little knitted pockets are pieces of a deconstructed Advent calendar, and each will hold a small task for each day (which I will distribute among them tonight). I love the practice of daily calendar, whether the surprise inside is a memory, a quote, a fun task, or a chocolate.

But there are other things I’m skipping this year.

I seem to get worked up over how busy this season is. I’m worried that I won’t have enough time to do the things I want to do (i.e., drive around and see Christmas lights, go to parties, etc.) and also still do the things I need to do (i.e., jobs, shower, etc.). My calendar is overloaded from the excess. I can’t look at it too long (which is sad, because you know how much I love my planner), or I get anxious.

None of that this year. I’m skipping the worry. Yesterday, our pastor preached a sermon on the foreboding apocalyptic text for the first Sunday of Advent, and the point he made was that this is a season not of either/or but both/and. The world is awful and everything is bleak and ending and there is joy and love and hope and peace. I love that. I’m embracing that this month, and that leave no room for worry. I’m going to do what I must and what I want, and at the end of the month, chances are good that I’ll still be standing despite (or possibly even because) all of it.

The trick is this: I’m also skipping anything that doesn’t fall into those two categories. If I neither need nor want to do something, I’m not gonna. I’m skipping obligation. I know – the holidays are a dangerous season for that. But yesterday, I also skipped our congregational meeting. I didn’t mean to. I meant to go – set my alarm and everything. But when I woke up, I was so hungry. I knew there would be donuts at the church, but donuts are only nourishing for the soul, not the body. I knew if I didn’t eat real food, it would affect the rest of the day. So I stayed home a little longer and did just that. Nothing bad happened, and I got to start the day right.

More of that this season, please. The expected busyness with a few cracks where the light can get in.

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Hope

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One day I hope my skin will be less habitually dry.

Sometimes, I talk to students for a long duration of time. And then I see it. The moment that they realize I will not be able to help them do the thing they need to do and how much that is going to disrupt their lives. They end the conversation abruptly before the tears that fill their eyes betray them by spilling.

Inevitably, I spend the evening and significant portions of the week (month…sometimes year…anxiety is hell) that follows rehashing how it could have gone better and trying to figure out if there was anything I could have done, any miracle I could – even now – pull off to help them recover. Anything to erase the reality and thus the memory of their despair.

We have all been where they are in one way or another. We all know those moments. The one when we realized the person we loved most wasn’t going to be our forever person. The one when we discovered that, no matter how tightly we crunched the numbers, there was no saving the business we had poured our soul (and all our savings) into. The one when we knew that truck absolutely was going to hit us, and there was nothing we could do about it.

I believe that these moments are unavoidable, but more than that, I believe they aren’t the last line of the story. I mean, the intermission that follows these moments might get really long. And that’s okay. Things take as long as they take. But eventually, there is more.

I believe in hope. That is, I desperately need hope.

When I made a plan to dissect my core values this year, I figured hope would be in there somewhere. Maybe in the middle, keeping all the others motivated. Maybe at the end, enjoying its grand finish. But the more I looked over the list I have started, the more I realized that it has to be first.

Everything for me starts with hope.

I’m not what most people would call an optimist. I see details and patterns and wayward caveats too easily to ignore all the things that could go wrong. To disregard them would register in my brain as irresponsible. I can’t shake the idea, though, that for every way something could go awry, there’s at least one way it could go really well (eventually. Sometimes the path to well is paved with awry. So much awry), and I’m addicted to the hunt for it. I don’t always find it, but I want to think that it’s out there. Otherwise what’s the point of anything?

Hope is often unreasonable. I like that about hope. There are many posts this time of year about why we should say no to making New Year’s resolutions. They paint a picture of discouragement and disappointment when those resolutions don’t ever come to pass. But disappointment is not usually my experience. I go into the year suspecting that I will probably not meet every extravagant goal I set (as an example, I mused the other day, “Hey – I could combine my goal of reading Don Quixote with my goal of reading a book in Spanish this year!” Isn’t that precious.). And I suppose I could set simpler, more sensible goals that I would have no problem attaining. Part of that would be gratifying, as I do enjoy checking things off lists. But another part of that is just super dull. At my core, I would rather risk failure than stagnation. I may periodically land at mediocre, but I’m certainly not going to aim for it. I see the potential for better, and that is where my hope leads.

Hope is overwhelming. You may be overwhelmed just reading about it. That’s not an uncommon reaction. I know that my hope is showing when I’m part of a group that is tasked with coming up with one thing we could do better, and the more our excitement builds, the bigger everyone’s eyes get as I calmly and rationally explain that all I want is for us to un-break the world. God help the group if there are more than one of us.

My hope is unruly, lively, persistent, often annoying. But it’s mine.

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Core

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Making my dream board/goals collage/etc. was oddly invigorating.

As I briefly mentioned in my 2017 review, I’m not quite done with wild, my one word for 2017.  Experiences of the last two years have left me bruised and skittish, and I think that impeded my courage to step out more than I imagined it would. I had visions of going on hikes and long walks in unfamiliar places by myself, but that didn’t happen. I had plans to be more spontaneous with my time, and what will surprise absolutely no one is that I really don’t like doing that. I’m more cautious than I’ve ever been before, and wild has just barely started to rear its head. I want another year with it.

Being more physically active helped. Running is exhilarating and also exhausting and omg I feel old. But it’s part of my wildness. I can’t be wild in the way I am wild without running, just like I can’t be my kind of wild without dancing. My wild is inherently embodied.

Running isn’t just important in the literal, physical sense, though. I want to run my life better. I don’t rest the way I talk about resting. I don’t eat the way I talk about eating. I don’t give the way I talk about giving. I don’t move the way I talk about moving. I am not as responsible, hopeful, well-read, and about 10,000 other adjectives as I want to be.

Before you jump to my defense, let me assure you that I am not lacking in confidence. I don’t feel bad about these things or about myself (for the most part – everyone has those days). I just see where I want to be, and I know I’m not there yet. I am also rational enough to realize that I won’t magically be there at the end of the year.

But I can get closer to it.

The way I’m doing that this year is by focusing on the traits that are most important to me. I was just going to sail through the year, clinging to wild, and then this post on Chookooloonks’s blog punched me in the gut.

Or, if you will, in the core.

Core is my word for 2018. I will examine what my core values are, and listing what I plan to do to better exhibit those values. Periodically, when I gather enough to say about one of them, I’ll outline it in a post. By the end of the year, I hope to have a list and, if not a whole post, at least brief descriptions of each.

I may end up with three core values. I may end up with twenty (and let’s be real – twenty is more befitting my personality than three). Most likely, I will end up somewhere in the middle.

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Friday Five 4

Today I am in training most of the day. It’s about a topic I’m interested in, and there are snacks. But real talk? I kinda just want to nap.

Here are some things I’ve loved this week. My Facebook saves have been cute-animal-intensive. This solidifies my plan to do as little as possible this weekend and rest.

  1. I appreciate the work that Pastor Charles Johnson is doing in Texas. Fair warning – this interview is from a highly biased source, and I find the interviewer annoying in that regard, but I like his answers. Yay, public education!
  2. Tracee Ellis’s speech that lifts up single women with no children? LOVE.
  3. Andi is reading books about books during the holidays. I might have to join her. Drop by and leave suggestions if you want.
  4. This dog. “THROW THE STICK YOU MONSTER.” Hilarious.
  5. Goats really are the best animals. THE BEST.

Feel free to drop inspiring things (especially cute animal videos) in the comments. Have a good day!

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TW: eating disorders

I read a book tonight called Binary Star by Sarah Gerard. The main character was anorexic and bulimic, so it had the potential to be a little triggery for me. It wasn’t. I didn’t come away with a need to binge or starve. I ate dinner. I finished my water. I did a couple of loads of laundry. And now here we are.

I was prepared to put it down, though. It would have triggered something earlier in my life. I’m glad I didn’t have to, not only because I like to finish books when I start them but also because not getting triggered was an amazing experience. It’s one I’d like to have again.

I haven’t dabbled with consistent disordered eating or lied about my eating habits in a long time (like, the kind of long you can measure in decades). But I’ve wanted to. At some times more than others. It’s always been there, that unstable feeling like I’m standing at the edge of a canyon and need to concentrate very hard on not toppling right on in.

For a moment, it wasn’t there tonight. I saw the character’s behavior for the downward spiral it was.

Tonight I feel like I’m in my right mind, which is a new feeling for me regarding food issues.

I had a post scheduled to write today about being judged for my weight, both when I was thin and now. More accurately, I had planned to write the first of my nostalgia posts where I take old blog posts and reorganize them slightly to shed new light on the subject. I am going to take rampant liberties with this one.

The original post was about external messages that people (women, specifically) receive about weight and its ties to their perceived worth. That is a conversation I have often, and it is a conversation worth having. These messages are a plague. They’re dangerous. Particularly when they come directly from people we love. And the people who bear the heaviest burden of the effects of these messages are hardly ever the people actually responsible for them.

Tonight, however, I’m thinking more about how people in general and I in particular absorb(ed) messages about body image, process(ed) these messages, and turn(ed) that processing into behavior that’s not always healthy.

I have always suspected that problems can be alleviated but never really go away. I assumed that my history of disordered eating and all the messages that helped to lead me there would mean I’d always be stuck in doing the work of the cycle:

  1. A message is sent. It could be one of the abominable judgy messages, or it could be a message like a book with a character who has some serious eating disorders. It might even be a great message, like body positivity statements.
  2. The message sticks because I absorb it as a trigger.
  3. I reframe my internal reaction to the message. To me, reframing is different from adapting a positive attitude. For starters, the term reframing doesn’t make me want to punch the person who suggests it in the throat. To me, reframing is about getting to the truth of a situation rather than just throwing a blanket of sunshine over it, blindly hoping it will smother anything untoward that lies beneath. I filter through the message’s layers, attempting to separate them into piles of true and false, healthy and unhealthy, helpful and destructive. For the record, this doesn’t always go the way it ought to go, despite very good intentions.
  4. I react/respond with external behavior. Sometimes, I process, and the truth does set me free, and I behave with sanity and reason. More often, there’s no time for that, and the chances of making a good vs. bad choice are about 50/50. Sometimes I think it out and still make bad choices, such as eating more than my body is comfortable holding just because it’s there and I can.

Whew. Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted. If you’ve ever wondered why a person with an addiction or mental health issue can’t just get over it, this is why. Getting over it is hard work. If it weren’t, it never would have been a problem in the first place.

Tonight I caught a glimpse of what it was like to arrest the cycle at stage two. I received a message, and my gut reaction was to see the truth of it. No trigger. No exhausting process just to get through the night intact.

This must be what people with a healthy relationship with food and good body image feel like all the time. It’s incredible. I highly recommend it.

And I have no idea how it happened. I mean, I suspect it has something to do with the years and years (omg the years) of working through that cycle (with and without qualified professionals) with varying degrees of success. But even the thought of that is exhausting, so if you are reading this and it hurts you more than it helps, let me just carry that to the unhelpful pile for you.

Nor am I done. I’m not saying that I’m cured and that I’ll never struggle with food issues or the temptation to engage in disordered eating again. I have no way of knowing that for sure. I kind of doubt it, actually, although that would be really nice. I learned tonight, though, that moments of right-mind, true, gut-reaction, health are possible. And that I want a whole lot more of that.

For all of us.

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Friday Five2

March is my birth month, and you should know that I tend to be obnoxious about the celebration of me. So Fridays on the blog this month are going to be celebratory in nature. I want to highlight things that make me happy to be alive. This may look like, “Look at this awesome person and what they’ve accomplished and also buy all their things in rampant support of them.” Or it may look like, “I love this cause – please donate.” Or it may look like, “This is a simple way to brighten your day. Enjoy!” Or it may look like cute animals, because who doesn’t need more cute animals in their life?

Speaking of things you need in your life, that’s how we’ll get started:

  1. Today (March 3) is National Moscow Mule Day. Do with that what you will. Also, bring me one. But, you know, after 5:00. Because it’s impolite (i.e., against the rules) to drink at work.
  2. MISTY COPELAND HAS ANOTHER BOOK COMING OUT. First, a few words about her. She’s the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.  She calls people out, particularly those she works with, to hold them to the role model standard to which she holds herself. She has founded her own brand of dance wear, called Égal. I’ve already pre-ordered my own copy of her new book, but I recommend it and everything she does ever. It’s called Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You.
  3. Also, if you use Amazon, go ahead and use Amazon Smile. They donate a portion of every purchase to your charity of choice. If you need a charity of choice, I humbly recommend Christ the Servant Lutheran Church of Denton, Texas. 🙂
  4. Support my friend Emily’s GoFundMe for her surgery.
  5. The Float Spot – they stick you in a floaty pod with water and Epsom salts. I want to do this! I feel that water massage would kick traditional massage’s butt. If I do it, I’ll report back.

Happy my birth-month to all!

 

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Friday Five!

Friday Five2

The exclamation point is for hope.

I enjoy seeing stories like the ones below. We may not like the hand we’ve been dealt *cough*dealtourselves*cough* but I like stories about people doing something other than just throwing their hands in the air.

  1. Joaquin Castro may run against Cruz. That would be exciting.
  2. Stephen Colbert is funding every existing grant request on DonorsChoose.org  made by South Carolina teachers.
  3. Since DeVos is going to be Secretary of Education, people who don’t like that are running for their local school boards.
  4. Biden’s daughter is making hoodies and I’ve never wanted a hoodie more.
  5. I want to do this to the entire state of Texas – cool off without using refrigerants.

Bonus – in case you’ve ever wanted to hear a conversation between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde (and if you haven’t, you should. You should want this) – here you go.

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