this is a star
this is your heart
this is the day you were born
-Switchfoot (Yeah, I went there.)
They say it’s my birthday. It’s a good thing, right? Here are 31 things I am learning or processing as I hit the big 3-1. Just for you. Or maybe for me. In a lot of ways I feel like my little buddy Caiden, who learned how to pull himself up in the last two days, and life is about to take off for him. When we hang out, my broken record repeats, “you are such a buddy,” over and over. And he is. His new found ability, though, makes this little buddy a force… but that is not the point of this blog post.
1. For my birthday, I want this more than anything. Go. Read. Give. Thanks.
2. We are capable of making the world a better place; I really believe this (reference #1). I try to live like it. You can too.
3. God is big and real, and He loves me. A lot. You too.
4. Photography makes me believe a better story , because it makes me look for better stories everywhere.
5. Running makes me believe I can set goals and finish things.
6. What we believe matters.
7. It’s okay that I burned out on working at church. It’s better than okay that my relationship with God survived and is making it’s way (feebly at times) back towards thriving.
8. My family? Absolutely rocks. Messes and all.
9. This from the past few months of dating more than I have in a while: I don’t need a man. And this from that: so if I have one it’s because it works.
10. It’s okay to make the above statement while recognizing that one of these days I do want to settle down and have a family.
11. I do need people, and the quality of people in my life continues to amaze me.
12. The wanderlust isn’t going away. Thankfully.
13. Saying thank you is important.
14. I have a lot to learn. A lot.
15. Beauty isn’t that hard to find if your eyes are open and expectant.
16. There is enough time to play music just because.
17. Sometimes excellence is just finishing.
18. Compassion is hard sometimes. It’s still worth it.
19. Good food facilitates genuine community.
20. That said, it’s worth it to learn what and how to eat and drink to feel good and be healthy.
21. Anne Lamott makes me want to write more.
22. A lot of times, my insomnia is stress related. I need to work on that.
23. Hope. Relentlessly.
24. This year, I want to become quicker to confess wrongs and apologize.
25. This year, I want to be more intentional about the words I use and how I talk to and about others.
26. People are worth the investment.
27. Apple is the way to go.
28. Laugh. Every day.
29. I will preach and teach again. I don’t know what that looks like.
30. Life is really good.
31. 31 isn’t old at all.
Thanks for helping make my birthday happy by being in my life. It is very full.
clicked heels and the pathway home
meant passing ruby red moments
that she wrote down so that later they read them
lazy on a blanket, drowsy starlets with smirks and smiles
in the meadow where the sun lit the grass just so
and after that same sun crept behind the horizon
with clammy hands uncertainty set in
without being given permission to redefine
the motion, that ever-present motion
pulling and pushing and writing and revising
all the way home
(oh i am thankful. thank. full.)
“I like the character roles. Somewhere back there I really came to the conclusion in my mind that the difference between acting and stardom was major. And that if you become a star, people are going to go to see you. If you remain an actor, they’re going to go and see the story you’re in.”
Season four. That’s when I started watching. I inhaled the first three seasons on DVD with Randy, one of my besties, over dinner and beer multiple nights in a row. We opted in late. And in the end it didn’t matter. Tonight we ate sushi and said goodbye to our favorite show. We invested 121 hours in Lost like millions of others.
And I cried at the end. Not so much because it ended. During the last episode all the faith/science questions came up, and life and death choices were made. Heroes revealed themselves to be just that as they had time and again over the last six years. Romance? Adventure? Success and failure? Consequence? Yup, all there. Epic stories give us space to consider ourselves and our stories in spaces different than our own. They allow us to wrestle through hard questions and linger over lack of answers. They involve sacrifice. They don’t necessarily resolve.
We tell stories because we live story. Epic stories, I think can provoke us towards epic lives if we let them. The TV is off. I’m thinking about redemption and hope and joy and sorrow and life and how I want to live in a direction that errs on the side of grace, that clings to the thinnest sliver of hope no matter what the context. None of the characters in Lost started with clean slates, but many made choices that redefined and directed their paths towards redemptive chapters. I love that.
So yeah, adios Jack and Sawyer and Kate and Hurley and Jin and Sun and all the others (and Des, especially Des… how I will miss him). May the epic-ness of one well-told story produced from the imaginations of a team of writers, producers, actors and all the others that contribute to a TV show provoke epic-ness in the way we do life. It’s reflective of Someone I know, and He tells a great story because he is the great Story. That thought makes me want to leave the TV off for a while.
“…he thought about it and said he didn’t think we should be afraid to embrace whimsy. I asked him what he meant by whimsy, and he struggled to define it. He said it’s that nagging idea that life could be magical; it could be special if we were only willing to take a few risks.”
in the end, it comes down to walking through these doors
as they present themselves
some seeming imposing and alive in their bigness
and wide-eyed trembling bodies make hard choices
to pass through, deliberate and determined
some beckon the way a warm spring night
invites tired feet to kick up so wine can be sipped
as a hush falls in the backyard as the neighbors put the little ones to sleep
some mysteries remain such until long after
the conversations, theorizing, cease
you just wake up one day aware that you walked through the door
because you had to or you wanted to or you thought you should
and found yourself, calculated or not, standing right here
on the inside or outside, the other side at least
and where you are, there you are
threshold crossed when you said yes
and yes is the affirmation that opened this world of doorways
(it is good. so very good.)
“I sat by the fire until the sun came up; and asked God to help me understand the story of the forest and what it meant to be a tree in that story.”
this world, beauty and scars
we live it only
it is not ours alone
but it is wholly ours
Today Caiden and I walked, and we were both quiet. He kicked his chunky monkey legs as I pumped mine, pushing his stroller in front of me. We are worlds away, this little man who I supernanny-it-up for a couple of days a week, and I. We are worlds away, but the days we spend together are grounding, somehow. He needs such simple things: food and naps and walks and tummy time. Mostly, though, he needs love to secure him. When his mom leaves, he cries for her. I can keep him occupied with little plastic balls and blocks, and we roll them and stack them and knock towers down. Eventually, he relaxes in our time, and we laugh. We dance. We rock before his nap. He sleeps. I work. And he is perspective for me most days, a little one who only knows how to be. A little man who knows but one thing: to live in the present tense. That’s the best version of the human story, I think, to live in the present tense, to just be there, needing love to be secure and not afraid to cry when you think you’ve been forgotten by the one who loves you most. She’s still loving him when he can’t see her.
We are fragments of that human story, Caiden and I.
How quick I am to forget the present tense part. How quick I am to forget I am loved when I can’t see Him. How precious is the grace that is Caiden reminding me.
“…and as they laughed and drank their wine, I wondered how much it costs to be rich in friends and how many years and stories and scenes it takes to make a rich life happen.”
wide-eyed, she recognized
the shape and contour and color
the lack of words to be uttered
as the expectancy raised and lowered
chest breathing in air and out tension
as if story could be manicured
as if acceptance were ascension
wide-eyed, she recognized
this would cost everything
but without this resolve,
there would be no gain
this road, wide and now juxtaposes
a narrow gate, change
Our hammers beating hard against that old facade
Some other air to breathe
That we might break these molds and free our restless souls
Start to believe
we sunk our hands deep into the stuff of life
(unaware of the reality at the time)
unconcerned with the persistence of some of the grime
we found that what did not brush off would scrub off eventually
mistakes were bound to get made
and hearts would definitely break how
ever to avoid the mess of it all
would have been to avoid the joy of it all
and that simply would not do
we danced solidly in the living room
in the aftermath (which was a continuation)
youth and experience stepping on each others toes
neither realizing what we didn’t know
both clinging to each other conceding this:
we must go. still we must go
sinking our hands into the good stuff of life
risky at times, full-faced and bold in the way we are alive