myself and I


I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Washington this month. My whole family was there and we celebrated Jake and Leah's graduations from graduate school and then spent some time in the mountains at an awesome cabin. It was wonderful.
I realized that week that my soul needed to breathe. It needed room to have a nice long exhale without being rushed back to routine. The minute the plane took off I felt lighter and lighter. It's not a reflection on my life in Nashville, but just a reminder that my soul needs room to breathe. I need to make room for my over-thinking mind to rest, my over-empathetic heart to take a break and my always achieving soul to stop. It was a chance to be reminded that I do not hold the world together and that it keeps going when I'm gone.
My soul took a nice long exhale and I was able to rest. I was able to think about things that I usually just push away and cover with busyness. I was able just to be. I was able to exhale and inhale rest, peace and joy.
With every fit of laughter, every game played, every beautiful scene taken in, every short nap in the car, every page read in my book, every breath caught on the hike, every talk with one of my family members, every thought that with these people I am completely known and soul exhaled.
The hard part is not to feel like you're choking when it's time to get back to reality, to not feel like your soul is getting stuffed back down after experiencing that breath of fresh air. How do I make room for my soul to breathe in the everyday and the ordinary? How do I allow myself to feel that freedom and rest in the middle of the busyness and routine?
This was supposed to restore my soul and give me rest to start again and it did, but it also just made me long for more, long for more room to breath, more room to rest and more room to be restored. So, how do I create the space for my soul to exhale in the every day?  I guess it's something I'm still trying to figure out.


When "Let it Go" Became a Holy Moment.

I know there's been a lot of buzz around the movie, Frozen, and the song, Let it Go, and while I really liked the movie and the song, I haven't been quite as obsessed as other people have been. I know most parents are ready to burn the DVD because they've watched it so much and their kids won't stop singing and I can't hear someone say "let it go" without the song popping in my head, but I haven't thought too much about it. About seven months ago I started counseling. (I know, kinda a random jump, I promise I'll get back to Let It Go, I didn't just want it to be stuck in your head for the remainder of your time reading this :-) ) For whatever reason, there is a stigma around counseling that I think is so completely wrong. Where some people think that going to counseling means you're broken, something's wrong with you and you're crazy, I think it means you're brave, you realize your mental health is just as important as physical health to be a whole person, and sometimes we need a safe place to let it all out. (and sidenote...we are all broken, we all have something wrong with us and everyone's a little crazy, but I digress...) I'm not shy about sharing with people that I'm in counseling and how much I love it. (although, I never really thought I would post about it here) I've gone to counseling off and on since college and it has always been the best decision I could make.

Counseling this time around has been a little different. Other times I've done counseling, it's been for a specific reason or situation of life I'm dealing with, and this time it was just because, well, of life. There was just so much transition, so many things happening and I had so many feelings and I just felt like I needed to let it all out there to someone who had to listen and not judge. Best decision I've made in a long time.

This journey I've been on through counseling has helped me arrive to the truth that it's okay to be who I am. It's helped me realize the deep issues and struggles I've had that made me think I was never going to be enough. It helped me identify the natural tendencies I have that lend towards counting myself as less and shifting to be the person who everyone needs and likes rather than staying true to who I am.

To go into everything that's come from counseling would be pages and pages of writing, but I will say the last seven months have consisted of some of the hardest, but most rewarding work I have ever done. I am not the same person I was seven months ago. I have discovered who I am and that I don't have to apologize for that. I have truly realized that I am good enough, just because I am me. I have come to face my issues and work through them and realize it's okay to feel things besides happy and "good" feelings. I know that my life is my life, no one else's and I can walk through each day with the knowledge that I am staying true to who I am. I have felt empowered, I have experienced freedom and I know what it means to be whole.

Part of my counseling is something called EMDR therapy (it's too long to explain what that means here), but it has been incredible what it has done for me. So at one point today, my counselor asked me what I noticed during EMDR and the lyric from Let it Go (you thought I forgot about that by now, didn't you?) came to my head when she sings, "Here I stand" and then the rest of the song flooded my head.

We decided to play the song at the end of my session, so as I sat there with my eyes closed listening to Let It Go, I felt like I was experiencing a holy moment (after I stopped myself from almost laughing out loud because it seemed a little ridiculous), with the help of a Disney song. It was a moment where I fully realized where I had been, where I was, and where I was going and all I had processed and journeyed through the last seven months. "Here I stand, Here I'll stay"...this is who I am, this is where I'll stand, knowing who I am, whose I am and letting go of this "perfect" person I think I should be so that everyone else is happy. While this song played, in that little moment in a small therapy room, I felt like Jesus was there. I felt like I could feel and know my worth and value, that I know the confidence I can have in who I am because I am one who is dearly loved, that I can keep living life unafraid and let go of anything that has made me feel less than enough or that I'm not able to be who I really am. It was a moment of freedom and holiness. Who knew a Disney song could usher in such a moment!

Just in case you don't know the song I'm talking about, find it here! Also, a sidenote, but if you're reading this and you actually made it to the end, you should consider looking into counseling! I think it's something everyone should do in their life and it's so beneficial for so many reasons, even if you don't think something is "wrong", but that's just my two cents, and not that I'm telling you what to do or anything like that... ;)

25 Things.

It's become a tradition to write this post each year and I love it. It gives me a chance to think about the last year and what all has happened...specifically 25 things that have happened in my 25th year of life. This year was a pretty big one. are 25 things that have happened in year 25.

1. I bought a house. This is kinda a big one so I thought it could go first. Technically it's more like a town home than a "house", but I bought it and I love it. It worked out with perfect timing and it is becoming home.

My new home!

2. I started grad school. Also kinda a big one so figured it should be #2. I began the Masters of Urban Studies program at Eastern University and I have loved it! It has been really hard to learn how to balance working full time, having a life and doing school, but I'm working on it. The whole having a life part needs some work, but I love to learn and working towards my masters degree has been really empowering for me.
3. I started running. Never in my life would I think I would write those words, but they're true! I ran two 5K's and I think I've had my fill of those. Hear more about that here.
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4. I realized how much I love hospitality and learned it's not always comfortable and can remove you from your comfort zone but that's kinda the point and it's great. I love having people in my home and making them feel at home!
5. Got a tatto. I absolutely love my tattoo and the daily reminder that it is to me each and every day.
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6. Read some great books. One of my favorites was Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey.
7. I lost some really great people. We lost my Aunt Pam this year unexpectedly. Nothing can quite prepare you for that, but her life was celebrated and I am lucky to have been loved by such a great lady! One of our older neighbors, Miss Hattie passed away this year too. She lived a full life and I'm happy I was able to know her.
8. I discovered and realized some new things that are life giving to me and I'm excited to explore them more this next year.
9. I gained confidence in ways I never thought would happen.
10. I continued to experience deep and full friendships. I am so thankful for the friends that I have in my life and how they walk with me through life. I also have met new friends through my program at Eastern and they are just some of the best people.

Some of the wonderful people in my life!

11. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at Trevecca which made me realize I love talking about things that matter and that could move people more towards joining in on kingdom work and tearing down ignorance and unawareness.
12. I took the longest solo road trip of my life from Nashville to Michigan to Philly and back to Nashville. It wasn't the worst thing I've ever done, but I wouldn't really want to do it again.
13. I figured out that eliminating decision making when possible is life giving to me so I'm making some habits and practices that help with that.
14. Bought a new TV and a new hutch and coffee table that I love!
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15. Realized I need to let my life be ruled by reality and not by my expectations.
16. Quit drinking real milk. Almond milk is the best.
17. I have been able to experience some of life's great moments with friends. Weddings, babies growing into toddlers, graduations, grad school beginnings, etc...
18. Realized life goes in seasons, relationships change, circumstances change and it's okay. I just need to take them as they come.
19. Another year of good travels! I visited new places like Philly, Washington DC and New Orleans. I like Philly, I absolutely loved DC, but New Orleans wasn't my favorite. I also got to visit Denver, go back to Michigan and Knoxville for some weddings and visit Florida with some of my family!
20. I have four TV shows that I absolutely love...New Girl, The Mindy Project, Scandal and Grey's Anatomy.
21. Realized how much I love reading random articles and learning about anything and everything. Following Huffington Post on Twitter has increased my daily article intake, maybe too much.
22. I rediscovered what I'm passionate about. It's changed  some over the last few years, but it's an exciting time! It's this feeling like I discovered a song in my soul and beliefs that reach deep into who I am.
23. I created a new chili recipe and it's actually pretty good.
24. Trying to find pleasure in the little things and when an experience may not be the greatest, making it better. On New Year's Eve Becca and I got stranded in Indiana because of snow and it could have been a terrible situation, but it ended up being a great time consisting of matching PJ's, Ben and Jerry and the movies.
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25. I set new goals for myself and realized some long term ideas for my life. It's a balance living in the here and now and the not yet but I'm excited about both the right now and the what is to come. Living within this tension has become my way of life and I'm enjoying the ride.
Year 25 was pretty great. I experienced a lot, took some big and some little steps, learned a lot more about myself and have enjoyed life even with all of its ups and downs. Here is to a great year 26!

Reality vs. Expectations

I have been called out recently. Called out in a way that brought attention to something I didn't even realize but as this person said it, I could only nod and agree. She said, "in one hand you have your life as you thought it would be. You have your life as you expected it would be, as the person you think you should be and doing what is expected of you. This is who you think you should or could be. In the other hand, you have your life. Your real life, with everything you've accomplished, struggled with, and face every day. This is who you are and the life and circumstances that are shaping you into who you're becoming. You aren't accepting your reality and reconciling these expectations with your reality. And really your reality is a good reality!"

This was so true. I didn't even realize how I was struggling with accepting my reality. My life has not really turned out the way I expected. In many ways it's like all I planned to do and thought I would do have been thrown out the window. I have had the opportunity to do things I feel like I don't deserve and have been fortunate to do so many good things. I kinda struggle with that in a way I'm not fully even able to explain. I desire things I thought I would have and try to bring things with me from the past that I thought were good. I never realized how much time I've wasted on this. How much time I've wasted on letting my expectations rule over my reality.

When we allow our expectations to rule our decisions and our mind, we miss out on our reality. We miss out on what's right in front of us. We miss out on realizing that the opportunities we have been given are just that, opportunities! I don't want my life to be ruled by my expectations. I want to fully live in my reality and not the "what could be or should be", but by what is.

Keep Breathing.

It's been a season of life where there's a lot going on. A season of life where if I'm not doing something I know I'm two seconds away from realizing what should be done. A season of life where I feel like I have a balance and then the next day I don't. A season of life where I am doing things I never thought I could or would do. A season of life where I'm growing a whole lot. In this season it's easy to forget to breathe. It's easy to forget to breathe deep. It's easy to get so overwhelmed. It's easy to feel like I'm doing so many things, but nothing well. It's easy to feel like I'm a not so great friend, employee, student and family member because it's all just too much.

I have to remind myself to breathe these days. Sometimes I just have to take a minute and sit in my car away from all the noise, the to-do lists, the due dates, the emails and just take a few deep breaths. I have to remind myself who gives me these breaths to breathe each day. With each deep breathe I remind myself I cannot do this by myself.

These days the words of one of my favorite songs resound in my head...All that I know is I'm breathing...all I can do is keep breathing...all we can do is keep breathing.

Some days all I can do is remind myself to breathe and remember who gives me these breaths to breathe each day. Just keep breathing.