peace, love, and having a mind of your own

i refuse to look at life through the lens of tradition.
i refuse to believe everything i am told.
i refuse to live a life that doesn't promote peace, love, and having a mind of your own.

26 February 2011

the gentle hum of anxiety.

maybe it's not such a gentle hum. maybe it's more of a panic-alarm somewhere inside me that's slowly getting louder and keeping me from a good nights sleep, keeping me up at 3am reading On the Road -again- and wondering if God has forgotten about me because I've been sitting at home anxious for three months and this is way too long to be stuck in one place and when the hell is God going to tell me what to do??
[deep breath]
I've been trying to write a blog for eleven days and honestly I can't get anything out. I'm too busy sitting around the house in my tie-dye pants, eating apple slices and having imaginary conversations in my head because there's no one to talk to. [Because I'm ignoring my phone calls.]
It's like I'm in a weird cloudy dream.
I make these great to-do lists at night and ignore them the next day. I feign enthusiasm the best I can, but it probably comes off as nothing more than a casual awareness of whatever is going on around me.

Clearly something is wrong.
I'm freaking the hell out and not trusting God.

Tonight I had the terrible idea of reading all my old blogs to remind myself how lame my life is compared to last February when I was jumping off waterfalls in Australia and hanging out with Albert, who has the most amazing laugh in the world.
Terrible idea.
Actually, though, something good came of reading these old blogs. One year ago, I posted about faith. [The opposite of anxiety.] The blog was centered around Dustin Kensrue's Consider the Ravens.

I thought I understood this idea last year when I wrote about it, but apparently I've forgotten everything I learned about trusting God. Here's what I wrote, a year ago:
[2010] Faith and anxiety do not coexist. If I say I'm trusting God, I can't worry, I can't be afraid of the future, I can't try and manipulate situations because I don't see results fast enough.
[2011] Okay, but like, I've been home for three months now, God must have forgotten about me because I still have no idea what I'm supposed to do. Time is flying by, I'm almost twenty-four, and I don't have jack to show for it.
[2010] I know that God has more planned for me than I could ever plan for myself. The fact that he hasn't yet let me in on these plans shouldn't worry me. It should excite me because that means it's probably beyond my imagination!
[2011] I want to throw a slushie in her face. Who does she think she is, all jolly and optimistic? I bet she didn't know God's plan was for me to sit here, paralyzed by indecision, unable to discern his voice from all the other madness in my head.
[2010] When it comes down to it, my purpose in life is to be everything that God created me to be. Without carrying around my anxiety and fear, I'm free to explore, laugh, appreciate, challenge, discover, love.
[2011] Maybe I have something to learn from 2010-me. Maybe my stupid anxiety is keeping me from believing God when he says, "Wait, I have something good coming up for you." Maybe Dustin is right... how can we ever be great until we're free?

Let me digress, for a moment, into a different train of thought.

I've been praying [a lot] about what it means to be fully myself. Like, what was God thinking when he made me? Last night I thought about the word individuality: the distinguishing quality or characteristic of a person. What makes me an individual? As I was picturing it in my head it split up into two words:
indivi + duality   
I know "indivi" is not a word but it made me think of "indivisible."
in-di-vis-i-ble [adj.] incapable of being divided or separated.
...and duality...
du-al-i-ty [noun] the quality of being twofold; having two natures.
So according to this bizarre definition that materialized on the videotape of my mind in the pre-dawn hours, I am only authentically me when I consider the indivisible duality that constitutes who I am: the two clashing entangled natures within me.
I am a part of God. He has endowed me with certain characteristics of himself, and Me-without-God is false.

So maybe I've been suppressing the God-part of me. When I'm anxious about my future and scared that I'll still be sitting on my parents couch in ten years wearing the same pants and reading the same books and not doing shit with my life, I am obviously not acknowledging the divine holy mysterious brilliance of my nature. Instead, I'm ignoring God and thinking I can figure things out on my own- which of course I can't- and getting stressed every time I lie to myself.

So, why all this self-sabotage?
Because trusting God is hard when you're surrounded by people who are convinced they don't need him.

I miss the communal, exotic, multi-cultural, heartbreaking reality that I lived last year. As I move forward it's hard to get excited about regular life, things like resting, and working a 9-to-5, and putting things into machines to get cleaned, and taking them out to put them away again. Everything seems trivial.

I know that if I expect God to come and save my sorry ass from this trite existence, I need to start seeing that he is bigger than me. 

God, I need you so much bigger.

15 February 2011

confession: my mom was my valentine.

It's true. Yesterday my mom and I got massages, had coffee, went shopping, and then joined dad for dinner and a movie. And did I feel like a lame-ass because I didn't have a guy bringing me red roses and chocolate? Nope. I wasn't the least bit disappointed to have my parents as Valentines.

If you're one of those people who hates-on Valentine's day when  you don't have a hot date, I've got news for you.... you're a downer. And you're still single. Whether by choice or luck, this is the boat you're in, so quit pissing on everyone else's parade and talk with me for a minute.

Let's think about your last relationship. Why did it end? Were you bored with each other? Did you feel like you weren't living up to your full potential? Was it compromised? Unsatisfying? Was your ex a selfish dirtbag? Were you a selfish dirtbag, and the relationship made you aware of it? Whatever it was, there's a reason you're not together anymore. Side note: if you gave your heart away and got it back destroyed beyond comprehension, I am sincerely sorry. But there's still a reason you're not together.

I have a confession: I used to be a serial-dater. It started with my first boyfriend at 17, and shortly thereafter I became addicted to being in relationships. I loved being loved, so much that I even got married when I was 18. The marriage ended after three years [which is a long story I won't get into today] and I resolved take that as an opportunity to relish my singleness and let my free-spirit fly.

Yeah, that lasted about 2 weeks. I had a sequence of short term almost-boyfriends before settling into another serious relationship just a few months after my divorce was finalized. When that romance had run its course, I again pledged my independence. I knew I needed freedom, and discovery, and time for myself. But the next weekend I met a real charmer who I just had to keep texting and calling and kissing. And when the thrill of that one died, I started going out with a hottie from work.

Through this process, I grew increasingly more aware of a subtle suspicion about myself: I was co-dependent. I couldn't be single for longer than a week or I started to doubt my self-worth, attractiveness, and likelihood of someday being kick-ass wife with a trophy husband. I had to prove to myself that I could win the affection of whoever I wanted. So I did. Over and over again. I lived for the excitement of a new crush, of hearing what a babe I was, of sweet texts and notes and fun dates and kisses and hand-holds. But I got bored with each guy as quickly as I decided I liked him. I knew none of them were right. And more importantly, I knew I was fooling myself to think I had it goin' on, because something inside of me was always screaming, "Who are you?"

And it killed me that I didn't know the answer.

In October of '09 I signed up for this crazy/amazing spiritual journey, the World Race. It's 11 countries in 11 months of volunteer work and adventures, and I signed up just in time to leave in January. One of the requirements of the trip was that you had to put your dating life on hold for the duration of the 11-months. They wanted us to be completely free of infatuations and relationship-drama so that we could focus wholeheartedly on God and service for that season of our lives.

When I heard about this, I almost called the whole thing off. The idea of being single for a whole eleven months was too much to handle. I thrived off male attention and affection. And besides that, I can't stand rules. I passionately dislike being confined. The World Race is easy-going about a lot of issues, but they believe so relentlessly in their dating policy that, however unpopular, they stick to their guns. I admire them for it. And my instincts told me they were right.

So I got a passport and a backpack and got ready to leave in 9 weeks. Does that mean I stopped going out with my smokin' hot co-worker? Nope. [Don't tell!] I kept seeing him until a few days before I jetted of to New Zealand with the Race. I still wasn't ready to break up with my co-dependency.

My travels afforded me an abundance of time to get to know myself, and illuminated some unsettling truths about my past. For the first time ever, I slowed down long enough to process my marriage, why it ended, and how I felt about it. I had never cried about it. In fact, there were tons of things I'd never stopped to do. Always ready to jump into a new relationship, I rarely thought about any past ones. I never even thought about what I wanted, or didn't want, in a boyfriend. I was easily charmed by a handsome face and a great sense of humor, and all else was thrown to the wind. I would eventually find myself disappointed, wanting someone more challenging, or adventurous, or intellectual, or honest, or just.... different. But these feelings were never given the light of day before I was falling in like with someone else. I desperately needed to give myself time to process and acknowledge what I was learning.

Now I don't have anything against dating. It's a valuable learning experience, and some of us don't figure out who we are and what we want unless we can try on different options and see which one fits. But for every not-quite-right relationship, there should be a time of reflection and evaluation.

So if you found yourself without a valentine yesterday, lucky you. You didn't have to buy into the commercialization, or spend your evening in a crowded restaurant with a stressed out server who ignored your empty wine glass. Don't panic, you'll find your sweetheart someday. Use this time to ask yourself why you're so upset about being single. If it helps, reflect on all your dirtbag exes and why you couldn't stand them. Then use that to figure out what it is you're looking for, so you'll recognize it when it comes along. And don't settle for anything else!

Now go on, free spirit! Get out there and LOVE.

11 February 2011

“I’m f-*king awesome!!”

Sometimes you just have to scream that to yourself in the car on a mid-February night when you’re in the midst of a serious case of the WTF-am-I-doing-with-my-life-s… or at least I do. That was my state of affairs last night as I drove home from the gym. I was congratulating myself on being, um, awesome… because I had exercised my muscles instead of loitering at home perusing the Internet between trips to the fridge.

You see, normally, I’m all about getting down on myself. I finish doing something and then tell myself, I could have done more, I could have done it better, I could have worked harder, etc. etc. Last night was no exception, and while vacating the smelly sweatbox where I’d just spent the last 2 hours, I dispatched my standard round of criticism: condemning myself because I only accomplished half of what was on my to-do list that day, agonizing that if I could just get to the gym more often I would sleep better and feel better and not be depressed ever, and blah blah blah... and that’s when it hit me. I’m such a nag! No wonder I don’t get anything done, if afterwards I just make myself feel like crap about how much I didn’t accomplish.

It was one of those striking revelations that immediately produced change. So the next thing I know I’m sashaying into my car, getting all pumped up about how I’m gonna change my attitude, finding the loudest song I can blast through the stereo, and screaming like a nut-job. I think it went something like this:



I’m f-*king AWESOMMMME!!!!


I sure hope I didn’t scare anybody in the parking lot.

Actually I don’t care if I did scare people, I felt phenomenal afterward! You should try it sometime. Maybe you could omit the F word if that’s not your thing, but roaring your awesomeness is absolutely necessary. In fact, I am challenging you to do this.

I want you to think of some positive affirmations to say [or scream] out loud to yourself, declaring your value and acknowledging your own accomplishments. You must say them out loud; there’s power in your voice. If you don’t want everyone thinking you’re a creeper for talking to yourself, you could do this while blow-drying your hair, vacuuming, or some other obnoxiously loud activity. Find whatever works for you, just do it.

Here are some more declarations I think are just fabulous. Feel free to use these as a jumping off point until you come up with your own.

I am a goddess, not a doormat.

[All you gentleman readers should stick with something manly. Try "I'm a warrior" or something... This one is for the ladies, but don't worry, you can participate in the rest.]

Picasso said,

“For me there are only two types of women: goddesses and doormats.”

I am so sick of women bending over backwards for the approval of men. Ladies, approve of yourselves first! Then find a man who appreciates your God-given exquisiteness. Do you realize that you were made to resemble and be like the highest power that exists? [That would be God, ya’ll.] The big man himself spent time and effort and thought creating you, ever so artfully, exactly the way you are. You're a piece of Him. And there are no bad pieces of God, he’s alllll goodness. So you’re beautiful. Start acting like it.

I am outrageously loved.

It doesn’t matter what you do, you can never earn or un-earn God’s love. He loves you because he loves you, not because of who you are, but because that’s who he is. God IS love. He can’t even help it. In spite of your circumstances, the catastrophic state of the world, and perhaps your own cynicism, you need to believe this: he loves you. Your belief in this statement will be evidence of its truth. Believe it. Be loved.

Nothing can defeat me, because God is on my side.

God is fighting for you, he wants you to be a winner, and he is ready to blow your mind to shrapnel with the wild, ridiculous things he can do for you… if you let him. Seriously, it’s absurd how much God loves us and wants our lives to be amazing. And it’s equally absurd how often we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed, unhappy, discouraged or unsatisfied with life. If that's you [and you're with me], stop being such a pussy! God is on your side, stand up and fight with him! Don't let life get you down. Know that you’re un-freaking-stoppable!!

I have permission to _____________.

... stop faking it and express the way I'm really feeling.

... care less about pleasing everyone, and say “no” when I need to.

... have great days and bad days.

... both shamelessly succeed and flamboyantly fail.

... change my mind a million times or until I get it right. Even about important things.

You know what? It's called being human. Give yourself and everyone around you permission to be honest, to mess up, to learn from their mistakes, and to do great things.

Wherever I am, that’s where the party is.

Stop thinking you’re missing out on anything. You’re not. All you have is right here, right now, so you better start working with it. If your life isn’t a party, start planning one! Seriously, what are you waiting for? You aren’t promised a tomorrow, so do whatever it takes to enjoy your todays! Figure out what you’re passionate about. Have a fantastic adventure. Change the world. Help someone out. Start living large, right now. [I’m not talking MTV Cribs large, I’m talking Ephesians 3: 20 large.] As C.S. Lewis put it,

“In the present alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge and all pleasure dwell.”

Understand that your life is for enjoying, and don't waste another second wishing you were at someone else's party. Yours is where it's at.

I don’t know about you, but I feel f*-king spectacular! What are your favorite things to tell yourself when you need a boost?? Let’s hear em!