Category Archives: authenticity

Ya Got Trouble – or do you? A glimpse into the wilderness

Unless we know how to be alone on purpose, not in a runaway alone, but an intentional pilgrimage, we’ll never learn how to be with people.

That’s why I wrote yesterday’s post. Not everyone knows how to be alone. I thought I did. I used to look forward to my days at the lake – until they spread out to over 200 of them. That’s when I discovered that I have a limit for alone.

That’s okay. We are created for relationship. We aren’t created to stand alone. One aides the other, but one should never exclude the other.

I admitted something yesterday that is really taboo in my circles. I admitted that I don’t always like myself. Everyone goes through seasons like that, but not everyone admits it really. We’d rather hide behind an all’s well mask.

I’m not much for hiding really.

Unless I want to, and then I’m killer at it.

I’ve shared many things over the years with you guys. We’ve talked about fear, about courage, about death, about being tired. I’ve even shared stories about things I’d just as soon forget, like the *real reason I hate being called “darlin'” (see bottom of post) and about my past experience with depression.

I do want to clarify, I am not using soul-tired and depressed interchangeably. They mean two different things to me.

I’ve been depressed, I know that black night of the soul. It sucks.

Thankfully, I’m not there today. But if I’m not careful, soul-tired can become soul-sick very easily. It’s a slippery slope really.

What I honestly didn’t realize, before heading on this adventure is how tired I really was last fall. I slept the first three weeks I was here and blamed it on the surgery.

That wasn’t the problem.

I had some big emotional items on my plate. Things I don’t share here because it would harm others. But trust me, just because I don’t share them does not mean they aren’t real. They are very real and they weighed on me because I confused myself with Atlas and thought it was my job to carry it all on my shoulders.

I’m kind of egotistical like that.

I had pushed myself beyond my limits and did not do the things I know to do to stay above water.

Now it’s true, life is not without it’s problems and we can’t always escape them. We do however have choices and can take right action to help ourselves.

The first thing we need to do is not be victim of this guy:

They didn’t even know they had trouble until he came along. And the truth is they didn’t have trouble – he just wanted to sell some musical instruments. He had a motive, and an agenda to create a FEAR BASED need. The town bought it, hook line sinker and tackle box.

That happens today – just look at Facebook or Twitter, MSNBC or Fox News — Town Criers everyone proclaiming trouble. Turn it off once in a while. Use discernment.

If you’ll recall, I posted a bit of an emancipation proclamation a few days ago – the whole Best Friend or worst enemy thing. I’ve had to consciously remove myself from manipulative circumstances for my own sanity — that’s a sign of health. I’m no longer willing to blindly follow fear based leaders.

Charisma is a turn off to me today.

As are threats of abandonment — do this or I’ll leave. Okay. Leave.

Cold? Maybe, but not really. It’s the most loving thing I can do for both of us today. Took me years to learn that.

I have HUGE attachment/abandonment issues. I’ve spent the past 200 or so days facing them. You know what I learned? They aren’t that hairy after all.

Other things I didn’t do during my Let’s go out and conquer 2013:

1. I didn’t exercise. Oh sure, I planned for it, wrote about it, bought things and signed up for clubs, but I never pulled the trigger. Exercise is important. It released endorphins and gives oxygen to the brain.  Yes, I got injured, but I spent so much time staring at closed doors (Cycling) that I didn’t look for new doors.

2. I didn’t face my problems head on. That’s not like me. I’m a deal with it now and get over it kind of woman. I value my relationships. The trouble is, fear kicked in. I’d done such a great job (tongue in cheek) cleaning house in 2012, I found myself not wanting to rock the boat in 2013. That made me dishonest. I hate dishonesty. That hurt some very important, to me, relationships. Rather than honestly deal with issues, I internalized them and created a wedge with more than one person.

3. I cut off my spiritual arm to spite my face. I had my mentoring group and we studied scripture and whatnot, but that is not the same as being in fellowship with other Christians. I wasn’t even reading my bible if it didn’t pertain to my classes. I let my well run dry. That made me thirsty.

4. I caught myself wanting things that I didn’t have instead of being thankful for the things I did.  I started filling up a spiritual void with junk food. Wrong relationships, wrong motives, wrong everything really. Wishful thinking replaced right action mostly,

While it is true that I didn’t necessarily do something permanently stupid just because I was temporarily upset, I did hurt myself with my own unrealistic expectations of how it was supposed to be.

I refused to own my feelings. Or my thoughts. Every time something unpleasant bubbled up in my life – whether a relational conflict, or a fear, or hurt, or anger, I stuffed it and got busy doing more. The conflicts went unresolved.

I was alone long before I came out here because I’d already gone inward and withdrawn into myself.

The one thing I’ve wanted most in this life after kids is to live an authentic life.

Authentic lives are messy. They involve people. And before I can fully introduce myself to that equation, I have to deal with me first. And that is why I’m here.

*There are people in my life today who are allowed to call me Darlin’. They’ve earned that right. They are what Henry Townsend calls Safe People. They know that trust is earned and are gentle in the earning process. They tell the truth in love. (they call me on my bull) While they don’t always like me, they do express a kind of love that is endearing. They have boundaries and they respect mine. They give me a chance to make amends when needed and they own their own side of the sidewalk. Always a good sign.

So, dear readers — have you ever gone into the wilderness of alone, whether on purpose or out of necessity? Would you like to share something you learned?

 

 

 

 

 

A Subversive Revolution

Image

This is my last resolve quote. I’ve sat on it for quite a long time. I looked up subversive and it doesn’t sound like a nice person at all. It sound’s rebellious. I’m not rebellious. (okay so that’s a total lie.) And then I remembered, I said “tits” on a Facebook Post and I’m a Christian. That’s pretty subversive if you ask me. Granted it was totally in context of the point I was trying to make even if it is shocking.

I’ve sat here at my desk for well over a week trying to come up with my end of year blog. Every year I take inventory of my life. I write what went well, what didn’t and ponder where I want to go next year. Something ate at me though.

All I saw for days was what I didn’t do in 2013. 

I didn’t ride with the Tulsa Diva’s like I said I would.

I didn’t walk the Rt 66 Marathon or run in a 5K

and I still stink at banjo. I didn’t practice enough so I have no one to blame but myself.

Now the fact that I had a physical limitation that took most of that off the table did not matter to me, all I could see was I failed my physical goals for the year. I couldn’t see my successes at all.

You know what?

As I wrap up 2013, I’ve decided that the most subversive thing I can do, for today, is to tell my broken brain to shut the heck up and start agreeing with God that I am who He says I am. I’ll admit that I do sometimes struggle with that.

2013 rocked!

I began 2013 with one word on my mind, Resolve. Every week I’d look up quotes that spoke to me and focus on them. It’s interesting to me to see the theme now.

  • Dare to be powerful.
  • Be my own best friend.
  • Get outdoors.
  • Free myself from criticism, fear, negative self-talk, and discouragement.
  • Push myself to my limits
  • challenge myself
  • be fabulous
  • don’t give up
  • trust my courage.
  • Remember who you are.

Wow, what a list. I did all that. While it’s true I didn’t do it all perfectly every day, I did do it to the best of my abilities. That’s an accomplishment. I also allowed myself to go on a four day vacation with some friends – only the second time I’ve ever done that in my life. That’s pretty cool.

  1. I gave up my IPhone in order to reconnect with real people face to face instead of online.
  2. I got a ton of stage time performing locally. While it was exhausting, it was fun.
  3. I met some personal heroes like Anne Lammot, Mark Lowry and Jennifer Rothschild (we sat next to each other on a plane. It was awesome)
  4. My humor piece about never having met Mark before is the most shared story of the year. He’s read it, I’m embarrassed, but I am allowing myself to admit it is funny and besides now that I’ve met him I’m a little less embarrassed that he read it. oh and thank you thank you thank you for that! You guys are awesome.
  5. I drove 15 hours by myself to podunk Indiana to compete in a clean comedy challenge next to comics who’ve been doing this for years and in front of national celebrities — AND I allowed myself to be critiqued by them. HOLY CANOLLIES — that woman – the one brave enough to do that did not exist five years ago — I’m just saying – we’re talking full on miracle here.
  6. I graduated from Thelma Well’s Daughters of Zion mentoring program and was awarded 30 college credit hours from the seminary she teaches at in Indiana. How cool is that?

Why do I get the feeling that I’ve spent 2013 being subversive and revolutionary and I didn’t even realize it?

I’m presently in a boot, recovering from surgery on my tibia. One of my goals for 2014 will involve physical therapy and learning how to walk again. Beyond that though, I’m still stuck. I don’t have my word or a scripture verse. Somehow, I’m okay with that.

Maybe all I need to do in 2014 is show up and leave the rest up to God.

What do you think?

Walking each other home: Book review of Stitches by Anne Lamott

IMG_2539970996080 “My time is limited. I’m dyingyou know. Not that anybody cares.”

Sigh.

It is one of those conversations where I catch myself with one hand on the receiver and one hand on the ground so that the Earth’s trajectory – and her self pity – doesn’t send me hurling into space.

“Are you going to die today?”

“Well, no.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It’s been almost four years since I first met Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies. A lot has happened in those four years and in that time, I have read every non-fiction book she has written. I find that how I receive her books is very much contingent on where I am at when I read them. What jumps out at me today, might be entirely different tomorrow.

ultimately, we are just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

The main alcoholic in my life is dying Not today, or tomorrow, but soon. They have a year maybe two at the most left.I think they need to live with me so that I can help and they think they need to stay exactly where they are (over 1, 000 miles away.) They want to die the same way they live: On their terms.

I think that stinks, but nobody asked me.

I can either spend what is left of their life arguing with them, or I can see them for who they are, a child of God, and allow them the dignity of making their own choices.

Stitches is full of Anne’s trademark dry humor, subtle wisdom, and gentle heart. It’s almost poetic in its writing style and it’s soft-spoken much like Anne’s actual speaking voice. Rather than hammer at you, she almost whispers. Stitches is like a sacred conversation between old friends.

Anne writes and speaks with gentle authority and with the wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s as the overly sensitive child who learned the freedom that comes from choosing to see what is really going on, the woman who is walking her husband home after 40 years, the best friend who grieves, the mother with a mentally ill son, or the teacher who doesn’t give up – Anne teaches us that life is a miracle, the sun continues to rise with or without our permission, that we are not rags, and that if we hold hands, we can stand against the wind.

I don’t know what season you are in. For me, I’m in the thick of chapter two – The Overly Sensitive Child. Perhaps you are facing life without your mate, a sick or wayward child, the loss of a best friend or a community tragedy much like what hit Moore Oklahoma this year. And maybe you are wondering how to stitch your life back together.

Maybe, like me you need to hear that it’s okay to let other people in , that beauty has meaning, we can take our own turn and that we are not rags. Whatever season you are in, or what you may need to hear, Stitches is a book that has something for everyone. I give it 5 stars.

You can get your copy at Amazon.com

DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: While I do at times receive free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, no goods or services were received in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself via Amazon and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to tell my readers about it.

Where Were You When You First Met Anne?

anne-lamott-credit-sam-lamott-final-small_custom-508ad61ad7cd1860a90521caedf65c1aeb330750-s6-c10It’s not like I’ve never heard of her. I have. “If you want to learn how to write, read Bird by Bird.” my friends say. I own Bird by Bird and while I’m not entirely certain as to whether or not I’ve read it, I know it’s here in my home somewhere.  I put it away for safe keeping — along with all of my other safe keeping dreams.

Time and busyness of life have relegated the book to one of my piles of things that stack up when unattended. Sometimes my piles of things include tangible things like books and papers, other times they are more reminiscent of Pandora’s box — this dream, that lust, this need, that resentment. Which box or which pile or room I’ve relegated that book to, has yet to be determined. In many ways, I’m still sifting through yesterday’s hopes, and clearing out some wreckage in order to make room for the good stuff. Only recently am I starting to remove the bandages on my wings and testing their muscle. I do notice that while they tire easily, they grow stronger every day.

I could simply go buy it again. It’s not like I can’t afford to. And maybe I will, maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter at the moment because in all honesty I didn’t meet Anne in Bird by Bird. Maybe I sensed something when I held that book in my hands that I was just wasn’t ready to face. I think I was afraid. Afraid of change. Afraid of truth. And maybe even a little afraid of meeting myself.

Because the truth is, you cannot  meet Anne and not be changed. I wasn’t ready to meet me yet. Sweet little,dishonest to a fault,  people pleasing, just give me the rules and I’ll follow them so you’ll like me, me — standing on my branch and rather than flying choosing to climb back down for a while. The clamor of life: laundry, dishes, dirty floors, homework, sex, obligations, gardens that keep dying cover the voices screaming in my head that there has got to be more.

More to this recovery thing.

More to this God stuff and service.

More to writing and family.

More to life.

More to me.

Anne’s is a name that is sometimes spoken in hushed whispers in my somewhat conservative circles. Even in AlAnon, she is considered contraband  “Non Conference Approved Literature” and all. It’s not as if she’s Voldemort or anything. I mean she’s just a woman like me – except for the dreadlocks. Oh how I love the freedom in those.

I didn’t meet Anne in Bird by Bird. I met Anne in Sunday School while teaching a safe and Board of Education approved class on Spiritual Disciplines. Not a bad study really. We talked about the importance of prayer, and meditation, forgiveness, and walking in the Spirit. Strong, spiritual Godly stuff. Stuff fit for women taught to serve and not ask questions. Problem is, I had a lot of questions. I still do.

Two visitors wandered in one day and joined my class. After a month or so one of the ladies torn over the ultra conservative nature of our church and her own personal beliefs, offered me a book on loan. “Read this and give it back to my friend when you are finished. I’m not coming back.” -

The book is Traveling Mercies.

This is where I met Anne.

This is where I learned that it is okay to have a crazy family, a messed up testimony,and a messy faith that is wholly mine and no one else’s. It’s okay not to have all the answers, have teeny tiny control issues, and I learned that thinking things that would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of a cat dish is a starting place for forgiveness sometimes. It’s okay to tell the truth. To stand up for women. To be ourselves, without apology. It’s okay not to believe everything people believe and to think for yourself.

It’s okay to find your own music and purpose in life.

We listen to the same radio station, (K-FKD) only I was too embarrassed to admit it. Not Anne – she called it was it is and dropped the F-Bomb right there in black and white. I giggled out loud and looked around the room to see if anyone had heard what I just read. Feeling safe in my overstuffed green chair, certain that no one had overheard,  I sank in deeper and read the book through the night. By the end of the book, I wanted dreadlocks as well.

I don’t have them. Frankly they would look foolish on me.

Being the only daughter of an alcoholic mother myself, I run the gamut of loving and hating Anne. Sometimes I feel jealous and fall into traps of self-pity and wonder what my life would be like had my mother stayed in the program. Other times, I feel alive and torn between conviction and reassurance that I am indeed on the right path.

Anne is to me what women like Gloria Steinem were to my mother — an awakening. A voice to be heard and digested. A reminder that I am a child of God first, as well as a woman and a sister to others. All of my roles, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend MATTER.  I too have a responsibility to wake up and keep the fight that the women before me fought. Freedom does not come from passively enjoying the benefits bestowed upon my generation by my Grand Mother’s and Mother’s generation or by assuming they will always remain. Simple things like credit, workplace equity,educational equality,  peace in this world, caring for the poor, all of those things matter and can go away with the very next generation if we don’t speak up.

This world needs voices.

This world needs women.

This world needs you and it needs me.

I’ve been asking Anne (via Facebook, I know weird right?) if she’d please include Tulsa in her book tours. That hasn’t happened yet. She is however on tour again discussing Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son and is coming to Kansas City MO in April. The church she’ll be speaking at is only four hours from my house — I’m going. Bought my ticket already and everything.

I just want to meet her and say thank you.

Hopefully I won’t gush. That would be embarrassing really –

She’s influences me as a woman and that influences me as a writer.

She is just a mirror really — because the truth is – you spot it, you got it.

That which is we dislike in others are things we usually dislike in ourselves

AND JUST AS TRUE

Those things we hold up and admire in others are also those same things that exist in ourselves.

So, where were you when you met Anne? Have you? If not — let me introduce you — I think you’ll like her. I do.  – ANNE LAMOTT FACEBOOK PAGE