Tag Archives: about me

Freedom Found (The Story Part 5)

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I watched this TED talk once about memory. I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no desire to repeat the last 9 years. But, I would not trade the person it has helped me become. So if that’s what it had to take, I’d do it again. Not happily, but I’d do it. I wouldn’t give up the freedom I’ve discovered through the journey.

There is great freedom in being able to move again, in not having to think twice about going to the grocery story or the mall or the movies or even the gym. When I first felt well enough to move again while living in Appleton, I started with a personal trainer at the YMCA. She tried to get me on an elliptical and three minutes in, my legs gave out. Today, I can do intervals on the elliptical for 45 minutes and still walk out the door of the gym. There is immense freedom in that.

A friend graciously offered to take some head-shots for me recently, and I realized something profound in the process. I was completely comfortable. I was completely comfortable in front of a camera because I’m more comfortable in my own skin than even I realize. I think that countless doctor’s visits and medical tests will help with that, but I know it’s more than that. It’s that when I realized I had control over my body and I claimed it, I became proud of the whole person I am and all of my “perfect imperfections” as John Legend calls them. There is massive freedom in that – in being able to accept and love and welcome your whole self.

TO BE CONTINUED

This journey isn’t over. I will forever have to work at feeling good. It means I drink things that are green and take lots of vitamins and make it a priority to go to the gym and get good sleep and and no longer love Italian food and these days even carry coconut milk in a thermos in my purse when I go out for coffee.

Yesterday I spent 5 hours with a friend prepping healthy, healing food for our bodies. Five hours. Yes, taking care of myself takes a lot of time. There are days it feels like a part-time job and that’s frustrating. But, the fact that I could be on my feet for 5 hours cooking and not be thoroughly exhausted today reminds me of the massive progress that healthy food has helped my body make. 

And all of that is worth it to not live in excruciating pain every day of my life. These days, there are more moments than not when I don’t even think about the painbecause it’s so slight.

I know not everyone’s story ends in healing. And I don’t take it for granted that mine has. But I also know that while we have an amazing Healing Father, he has also It’s my choice. My responsibility. My opportunity to partner with him in the healing process.

So Much For That Life Plan (The Story Part 2)

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College graduation – May 2008

My plan to take 20+ credits a semester was derailed as I contemplated dropping out of college all together. In the end I decided to try to stick it out by cutting to 13 credits, just enough to stay full time and keep my academic scholarship.

Navigating our small old college campus in the Wisconsin snow and ice proved to be extremely challenging. I found routes I’d never considered to find elevators to replace stairs and hills. I couldn’t do my own laundry, grocery shopping was an all out exhausting process, the mall was unthinkable. I even remember going to the movies and realizing it required altering my seat choice to avoid stairs. Needless to say, my college roommate was a saint.

I can vividly remember one fight she and I had. It’s the only one I remember, but it wasn’t pretty. The ultimate driving force was that I was unhappy, miserable, in pain all of the time and she had essentially become a caretaker in my life because there was so much I couldn’t do. My compromised immune system meant I got sick often and so many daily activities were now not so ordinary or simple.

The months and years that followed included a series of medication trials and errors. Some didn’t work. Others caused other health problems to spring up. And others I had extreme adverse reactions to. One of the first they tried was called Imuran. It was fine at first and then I started throwing up…often. Without a fever or other symptoms, I was convinced it was my medication. I remember going off of it and finally being able to keep food down. But my doctor’s wanted me to try it one more time…you know, just to be absolutely sure it was the medication. My roommate and I decided Cracker Barrel sounded amazing for dinner one night and afterwards the medication ruined that meal. I still can’t eat their corn or chicken to this day.

I’ve only been hospitalized once in my life and it was the Fall after I first got diagnosed. They decided to try a new treatment called IVIG (a helpful acronym for intravenous immunoglobulin) After an initial five day hospital stay with two infusions a day, I visited the infusion clinic two days in a row for four to eight hours a day about every three weeks for almost the next year. You can see how keeping up with college might become difficult.

Plan B

Three years, one year longer than planned, and a modified student teaching placement that ended me in bed with the flu for a solid month later, I graduated from college. I look back at pictures from college graduation and it’s hard to believe it’s me. I had never been a particularly healthy or in shape person, but at the time I didn’t realize how out of control it had gotten because of my medications and lack of movement.

Teaching was all I had wanted to do my entire life. Sure, other ideas had momentarily passed my mind, but I always came back to teaching. But, thankfully my passion for teaching had fizzled somewhere along the way because I couldn’t have physically been a full-time teacher.

Dear October

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Three different events in three different cities. October, I will reach your end exhausted. I can guarantee it. Over the last couple of years, you & September have been a marathon – one that requires several sprints to get to the finish line.

Yet, I repeat the same marathon every year. I say yes to the same projects knowing when they take place. And I say yes because, in the end, the exhaustion is sweet. It’s an “I’ve poured out absolutely everything I’ve got & I got to do it alongside some of my favorite people on the planet” kind of exhaustion. And so, the memory is always sweet no matter how painful the road is as I’m running, some days unsure I can take another step.

I want to fast forward & slow motion your weeks all at the same time. This year that is particularly true. I am exhausted already & my heart feels pulled in one too many directions.

But, I am resolving to savor you, dear October. Savor the long lasting relationships that are woven through your days. Savor the new relationships waiting to be birthed. Savor the fact that I have a job that takes me traveling this beautiful country. Savor the opportunity to have a small part in creating experiences that will forever mark someone else’s story just as they have mine.

I sometimes wonder how I possibly have the passion to pour so much care into so many different visions. And on some levels I still wonder that. But on other levels I see they’re different missions but a common vision of a world where people are inspired to live fully alive to their life, to their calling, to their own passion and story. And that’s a vision I can support all day long…even when I’m doubled over in pain at mile 23.

On the 24th it will all be over & I’ll be wishing I could relive some of the next 24 days. For now, welcome, October. Let’s do this.

 

The Fear of Being Found Out

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a thousand people stood in line
to hear a couple words of mine
afraid i will miss a beat
and everyone’s watching me

i don’t know why i’m still afraid
it’s not like it was yesterday
i’m the one stopping me
from all that i want to be

If Colbie Caillat sings about it I know I’m not the only one who fights the fear of being found out.

In general, on the surface there’s not a lot that scares me to the point that it holds me back. Usually the fear of “what if?” wins out for me. But recently I’ve had to own up to my fear of being found out.

Maybe you know the fear – your anxious spirit perpetually on edge waiting for your life to come crashing down around you. Your life – who you are, what you do, all of it – feels fragile.

There are moments when this fear can be all consuming & down right paralyzing.

It usually starts from a very positive thought or overwhelming gratitude – “Is this really my life? Do I actually get to live this story?” I have that thought at least once a day. But when I think about it too long doubt creeps in & starts asking me who I think I am to be living this life.

It was four years ago today that I made the move from Appleton to Nashville. Not only did that move relocate me physically but it took my life in a direction I had never ever imagined.

When your life looks so different than any story you could’ve written or any plan you could’ve constructed, it’s almost impossible not to be overwhelmed by the greatness of it. It naturally leaves you feeling like you’re living in a dream.

Most of the time I find myself living waiting to wake up from the dream – certain that the moment is going to come when the plot completely turns & I’m suddenly living in a nightmare. The moment I realize that what I’ve thought is my life really was just a dream after all.

I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this fear & I think it has a little something to do with self-worth. Something has convinced us we aren’t worthy of or don’t deserve the life we have. And while it may be true that we don’t deserve it we live in a world of grace that doesn’t so much care if we “deserve” it or not.

One of life’s greatest gift is moments when we get to see ourselves through other’s eyes. My friends are one of life’s best mirrors – I learn more about myself by listening to them than from any self-discovery process I try to engage in. Listen to how your friends would describe you and chances are you will hear that you are completely worthy of the life you’re living even if you don’t “deserve” it.

Through other’s eyes we see that we are worthy in spite of our struggles & weaknesses & that most of the time we are our own worst critics. In those moments we’re reminded “I’m the one stopping me from all that I want to be.”

photo-2I got a new tattoo a couple of weeks ago – the emblem from the Tennessee state flag. It sits on my forearm right under the word “surrender” It’s my daily reminder of the story that has been & continues to be written for me. A story that I am worthy of living because of grace. It’s the story of a girl who, surrounded by the spirit & community that is Nashville, has learned how to be. A girl who is learning to own every bit of her story, celebrate the unimaginable, & step out of her own way.

And Guest

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I pulled the invitation out of the mailbox and I immediately had that “I don’t like how this feels” feeling in my gut.

“…and guest”

The site of those two little words immediately made my heart sink just a little.

Last they knew I was dating someone…seriously enough that I was posting pictures on Facebook…which was the only reason they knew because I don’t talk to my family often let alone about my dating life. But they knew about him and they were insistent he come with me on my next visit. In July. For the wedding.

The invitation has arrived. But he is no longer in my life. And no one has filled his spot. When I saw the words “and guest” I immediately felt the shame and pain of that void. The sadness of the loss came rushing back.

And not just shame. But the difficult admission to myself that I really want someone to be in his place. I want a name to put in the guest line. Not having a name to put there is lonely. Isolating. It can cause me to feel like I’m not enough if I’m not careful.

Six months ago…for that matter six days ago…I would never have let myself seriously consider posting a blog that had anything to do with relationships. But, here’s to living life a little more vulnerably & letting go of trying to control people’s perceptions of me.

It’s amazing the flood of feelings & thoughts that can be started by two little words, isn’t it? But I’m learning to pay attention to those little feelings & thoughts because I’m beginning to think my truest self lives in those gut instinct reactions, the ones I all too often miss.

Somehow it All Belongs

I used to think it was about balancing all the opposites within me, but slowly I have learned that it is actually “holding” things unreconciled that teaches us – leaving them partly unresolved and without perfect closure or explanation. – Richard Rohr

I love this photo. My cousins & I are on the steps of my great-grandmother’s house. I have no idea what we’re eating, what caught my attention was what I’m wearing. A skirt, dirt marks on my legs, tennis shoes that appear to be a bit muddy, & a necklace to top it off.

I spent much of my life trying to rid myself of paradoxes like that one. To be one way or the other. To fit into this label or that box. But I’ve discovered the freedom that comes from embracing the paradoxes; the grace to be unconventional. 

The very name of this blog is a paradox. Cautious & creative aren’t exactly friends.
But they’re both a part of me.
A northern girl who has found a “long lost,” “meant to be born here” home in the South.
A country girl who comes alive in the bustle of the city.
A grounded girl with a rebellious spirit.
A spreadsheet loving organization junkie with an artist’s heart.
A planner whose soul is a dreamer.
A Type A who thrives on the spontaneous.
Quiet wallflower in a crowd who can talk for hours.
Lover of silence always listening to music.
A “slow life” savoring workaholic.
A homesick lover of travel.
A control freak who loves adventure.

I feel like I live with one foot on the gas & one foot on the brake at all times. But I’m learning that life isn’t about “achieving balance” but about learning to maneuver the tight rope. It’s about leaning into the tension of the paradox knowing that in the Creator’s eyes the opposites belong. 

We may not understand it today…or ever. But some how, in some way, it all belongs.