Oh Alice

Recently, there must’ve been seemingly cryptic posts on my social media; truly, that wasn’t the intention.  As a result, I received two separate phone calls from two dear friends, neither of who knows the other.  One of them referred to the “I, I, I”  context of my posts and my reaction was immediate defense.  I know this friend’s beautiful heart is intent on doing the will of God and I was throwing up my walls against a lecture that perceived me in a way I wasn’t meaning. Being intently aware of this defense, I reminded myself that this friend was safe and that I could keep my heart open and listen.  I’m super thankful that I did, for as I spilled my heart out about the goings on in my life, he had great experience of his own to share and much wisdom to offer.

The second call was a precious friend who had some heartfelt observations to share with me.  First, he thought that I must be in a deeply introspective mood (true and positive), and that many of my introspections were self-deprecating.  (true and ouch).  He told me that he had never once heard me speak of the good things I was doing.  (i.e., I speak of my wonderful children, I do not speak of the wonderful mom that I am to them or the sacrifices I make to be that great mom).  I am still reflecting on this.  I like to be humble.  Even voicing that I like to be humble makes me feel like I may as well say, “Look at me!  I am soooo humble!”  That just defeats the whole purpose.  I did share with a few people recently that my grad school grades were really awesome.  I didn’t share what it took on my behalf for that to happen.

I’m still not sure about all of this.  Growing up with a constant verbalized message of, “children should be seen and not heard”, I think I have internalized that to “Sarah should be seen and not heard” in many significant ways.

Look at this!  Two friends that I trust see me ponderings through totally different lenses.  One is the “I” of me and the other is kind of the invisible “I”.  This is likely one of my favorite internal conflicts.  Shrink or stand tall?  Oh Alice.

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Mosaic Masterpiece

This post doesn’t want to happen.  This post is resisting moving from head to heart in every way.  This post knows it contains some deep potential for growth.  Hands on the keyboard, my fingers tap out whatever is inside of me, initially unedited.  I am assured that this is a post that must be written.  It is difficult to know where to begin when one is spinning in a multitude of directions.  Gut, heart and brain are in the midst of great conflict and soul keeps saying, “keep going, keep going, keep going”.  The internal struggle isn’t new. What’s new, is is being able to grasp that not being exactly where I want to be is okay, I just am where I am.  Honestly, sometimes that pisses me off, but that’s all part of being where I’m supposed to be too.

A memory that I had written one year ago today popped up on my Facebook timeline.  No accidents, God’s timing deserves a mic drop, again.

“There is an adventurous 19 year old girl inside of me that really just wants to come out and play.  There is also a 45 year old wounded but wise grown up in me who speaks a tiny bit louder that that frivolous 19 year old girl.  There is always that “good girl” mentality deep in my heart, even when I am trying to drown her out.  Honestly, she’s a little ‘over-concerned’ with image.  The thing is, they’ve all been struggling and arguing and have finally decided that they can meet in the middle and explore life.  I wonder what this is going to look like?”

A year later…what does it look like? Here’s what I’ve come to learn in the past year about Sarah, the woman.  She delights in being playful, yet she craves deep connection and reverent solitude too.  She still has wounds, old and new.  The martini glass looking patch over the hole in her heart is something that makes her acutely familiar with the healing process.  She knows that sealing some old wounds with healthy protection is the best way to heal.  She sometimes forgets that this is a very rare situation, because generally, the best path to healing is to stay open, yielding and aware rather than placing a seal over a wound.  Besides, although she can’t see that martini glass patch without special examination, she still knows it is there.   She is strong, and she is fragile.

She has pieces of every experience of every age inside of her…from birth to right now, a 46 year old woman.  She is a mosaic.  She spends a good amount of time trying to figure out how all of those pieces fit together to create the masterpiece God made her to be. (This would suggest she still has trouble believing that she already is God’s masterpiece).  She still goes to that good girl mentality in an instant, especially when she is afraid she has hurt another.  She finds herself slowly transitioning more to who she was made to be and in the midst of that, she fights to separate from living as some other human created her to be.  This is one of the most difficult things she has ever done, for in separating, she could be a wound inflictor.  In her heart, she struggles to believe that she can’t hurt the dead.  She only enjoys joyful magic these days, not black magic thinking…which is exactly what that is.  When she deals with this, an image of a five year old blond girl, feeling ashamed of what she did to offend (but not sure what that was) pops into her heart.  It’s such a helpless feeling that overcomes her.  So, she is likely to try and please even those who are not worthy of her heart.  Danger zone.

She is emotionally aware of others, sometimes too much so.  She still idealizes, sometimes seeing what she wants to see rather than what is reality.  Then, when she is disappointed, it’s because she trusts she will never be good enough to have the deepest desires of her heart.  She is learning that life really does begin out of her comfort zone and that she firmly resists anyone who tries to put her in a box.  That’s a funny thing to figure out when she still wants to please.  Anais Nin once said, “I take pleasure in my transformations.  I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”  Heart affirmation.

She is building her prayer life and learning to trust God fully with her heart.  This is a process in every way.  She often asks herself how she will trust the right man with her heart if she won’t trust God with her heart.  She doesn’t know the answer; she does recognize the significance of this question.  Her prayers are very different, her tears flow freely and her laughter is genuine and without apology.  Seeking God’s heart and strengthening her faith are constant forgings; and part of this is searching deeply for her own grown-up understanding of God and the Bible.  She has come a long way from believing that God was a big guy in the sky waiting to strike her down for any minor offense, with a long way to go still.  She is learning to seek Him as Father and friend.  She has many people who have come into her lives with polar opposite thoughts on God.  She listens, she prays, and she seeks intimacy with Him above anyone’s opinion.  The conversations grow her, and hopefully grows them but in the end, she knows she wants to honor what is between she and God above all else.

She is raising her kiddos and absorbing hard truths.  As caller number two pointed out, those kiddos are pretty much raised and she can’t go back and change what she may have broken.  She can only do better with what she knows.  She loves them fiercely and wants to be enough, and she often feels insufficient to do this job without their father in the house.  This is tough.  She enjoys (usually) dating and is wary of how any man would impact the lives of her children.  She also knows that coming from a beautifully blended family that the good possibilities are beyond her imagination, she reminds herself that her fairytale dream is not going to happen, ever.  She wonders how she can reframe her fairytale.  Speaking of dating, she investigates her gravitations in this area with fierce curiosity.  She notices that if there were a scale with a man on each end and one in the middle, she drifts toward the middle.

Man on the left talks about men who are Godly leaders are but doesn’t live that way, the only place he is giving is in bed, is manipulative, super smart in a ‘take note of everything so I can use it against her’ way, selfish, temperamental, impulsive, bad boy imaged, gas lights, lashes out, lies, is not faithful, treats her less than and is still yummy smelling and gives great kisses and hugs.  She knows he is not good for her in any way, but this tells herself this must be how love really is.  After all, it is volatile just like her grandparents were.  There’s no inbetween, its either on or off but she holds all the power to heal him, to heal them.  This makes her feel validated and important.  She has someone or something to save.  She is someone else with this man.  She is wild and passionate in the beginning and then she is broken.

The  man in the middle….he smells fabulous, usually hot, gives great kisses and hugs, sweet, gentle, kind of smart but not really a deep conversationalist, wants to be pursued, drops bread crumbs but just not ready or not wanting to be with her…does want her as a back up just in case.  Whew!  She wants him badly, he is likely not going to happen but she spends way too much time fawning over him and feeling a false sense of relief every time he calls or texts.  She knows he is unavailable, either emotionally, spiritually or in some manner and she chooses to believe that he is ‘good enough’ because she never will be fully worthy of man on the right.  This man gets her very best, she pulls out all the stops to keep him engaged.  She works harder for his attention than he ever will for hers.

Man on the right is strikingly handsome to her, good, kind, tender, wise, compassionate, loving, funny, Godly. smells delicious, gives great hugs and kisses and wants her best; even above his own.  He is intelligent, witty, and has big hands that are gentle.  He is trustworthy, holds her heart in his hands with care and has eyes only for her.   Their souls know each other, he is beyond what she has dreamed.  He might even be special enough to meet her family, friends and fur babies.  She considers him fondly and worries that he is too good to be real. All at once, she is afraid and she is intrigued.  She is cautious and inquisitive about the extraordinary pull she feels toward him.  She does not know how to recieve or whether to trust his kindness, so with every fiber of her being she focuses on the present moment and not on the what if’s.  A new kind of hard.

In each of these scenarios, she is torn.  She doesn’t know who to trust and ultimately, it’s herself that she doesn’t trust.  She knows.  She is working hard to trust.  She is trying hard to own her story while believing that she is worthy of the best God could bring.  She likes to refer to the hard things in life being much like a bear hunt, “can’t go over it, can’t go under it…guess you gotta go through it.”    She has a beautiful imagination and in her relationships can use this to create unreal scenarios or to destroy something before it happens.  She has a protective reason for this.  Control prevents chaos and for someone who grew up with emotional chaos, creating safety in this manner is the logical, albeit not always healthy, thing to do.

She is definitely  work in progress, in every area.  This is okay.  She shares openly many of her thoughts, but there are still many secrets inside of her.  They aren’t intentional secrets, but precious things that she doesn’t want to give away to the world for their dissection and judgement.  Some things are meant to be precious gifts from God in her own heart. She doesn’t want to risk those things being torn apart because they are part of what pieces her together.

There she is…one year later.  Lots of life to live, tons of growing to do and more contentment than she remembers feeling in forever.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 34:4-6

46 Reasons

This last week has been fabulously filled with new life adventures, and I have enjoyed every single moment.  Here are 46 reasons why:

  1. Last Sunday, I went to church.  I may have been feeling just a little bit lonely’ish.  A dear friend was a few rows away with her beautiful children and a friend; instead of sitting by myself, I sat with my friend and her family.  This just made the service/worship so much sweeter.
  2. Later that day, I met a new friend for coffee.  We had a deeply rich, spiritual conversation that seemed to be the beginning of chipping away at a few of my soul’s survival tactics that really do not serve me well anymore.  I had found a little bag of my Grandma’s Catholic books and it was so incredible to be able to share them with a friend who appreciated them….not planned but incredible.
  3. I feel like my spirit has been napping and I’m waking up to the vibrancy of my being.  It’s just in the air or something…a new (or renewed?) energy
  4. It was a week of fun selfies and spectacular quotes.  One of my favorite is worth sharing here…”If you’re pretty, you’re pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving.  Otherwise, it’s just, ‘Congratulations about your face.'”  This is the best!!!
  5. On that topic, I have noticed that we as a society can be very mocking and critical of selfie taking.  I say just let people be.  I can only speak for me, but taking selfies after the divorce was a huge stretch for me…it always felt like part of the picture was missing.  Now, I take them not because I am vain…usually because I feel silly, or contemplative, or whatever I feel and this is a way to share it.  So…this week I took a selfie nearly every day and shared it.  Why?  Because it was a lovely week and I chose to share my journey in this way…the end.
  6. Tuesday, I got to work on homework….I did this all week.  It was supposed to be stormy on all the days ending in Y, but that didn’t quite happen.  When it got down to the wire though, it rained…this meant more focus on my paper.  (Don’t ask, I’m just quirky like that!)
  7. Also Tuesday, I made another lovely friend and had a wonderful evening.  All I’m going to say is this…it’s socially awkward when one is on a date, and while on that date, runs into someone they’ve also been dating (not secretly) with their date.  Think that over.
  8. On Wednesday evening, (my actual birthday), I said bon voyage to 45 bonjour to 46! My precious momma and kids took me out to dinner.  Not one of them complained that I chose sushi and we had a fabulous time together.  I am extraordinarily blessed to have gotten that time with the woman who gave me life and the children that I gave life to.
  9. Also on Wednesday, my Facebook wall, text messages and phone calls were inundated with loving birthday messages.  Maybe I’m more like a child on birthdays, but I believe we ALL deserve special love on the day of our birth….find more reasons to celebrate…life is a celebration when you live in gratitude!
  10. I went to the chapel at St. Bernard’s…where my Grandma went to church.  I spent an hour praying, being still, looking around, thinking, and praying some more.  I was relieved that the toenails on Mary’s feet were not painted and were very real looking.  I left with something…I felt like God was letting me know that my openness was a gift, and at the same time asking where I needed closure.  Suffice it to say, there is an entire post to be written about this experience.
  11. The bestest part of my birthday was finding the video of my Momma and Daddy singing me the happy birthday song together.  Daddy was starting to struggle with his memory then, and that memory popping up made my heart incredibly happy.  I think I watched it 100 times throughout my day.
  12. I got flowers on my birthday.  Because my friend loves me and she knows that flowers fill me with joy.  I didn’t expect flowers, but she remembered.  It’s a gift to have a friend who remembers you like this.
  13. Thursday was a busy day at work, and I was reminded through my clients how very fortunate I am to have a home, clothing, food, pets, mostly happy and healthy children, air conditioning, blankets, a toothbrush and not a consistent fear for my safety.  Gratitude gratitude gratitude.
  14. Very good company Thursday night and another birthday dinner.  And…I saw the movie CLUE.  No, of course I didn’t doze off during the movie!
  15. Friday, I took 1/2 a day off work…thank God for a flexible job!   I finished a paper I’d been putting off for way too long, it really wasn’t so bad once I sat still.  Good thing since the paper was due in class that evening.
  16. Friday was the one year anniversary of our divorce.  I didn’t feel broken, ashamed, weary, hopeless and defeated.  I actually felt just the opposite.  I’m coming together, content, peaceful, hopeful and anticipatory.  I’m human so sometimes I struggle, yet this is authentic healing.
  17. Saturday was lovely.  It began early as I awoke listening to my brother sing loudly and cheerfully from the other room.  It was an awesome way to wake up and get ready for a day of class!
  18. My dear brother and friend joined our class Saturday afternoon.  So did one of my classmate/friend’s gorgeous wife.  It was absolutely fun to have their interaction for our discussion and I believe every weekend class should entail some sort of bring a guest show and tell!
  19. After class meant a drink or two with the above mentioned gentlemen and lively discussions!  That was awesome and I think I have now tried every flavor of Moscow Mule at PJ’s except for the one with whiskey…because whiskey is ewww to me.
  20. I had the opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation with my baby daddy.  (The wonderful man who I was with for 23 years).  I wanted to apologize to him for things I had done in our marriage that I just needed to take ownership for.  It would’ve been easy to continue to let him own it all, but this honesty is part of my continued healing and hopefully his as well.  I wish everyone had this chance.  Say what you need to say.  Forgiveness.  Compassion.  It all lets us move forward in grace.  If it’s not possible to share with the person, write it out and burn it…do what you need to do to heal…it’s worth it.
  21. Saturday night…topped with a warm bath, clean sheets, a great book and a glass of wine…had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!
  22. Sunday began with a yummy breakfast cooked for me by my brother…and coffee…of course, coffee.  I sat on the porch and enjoyed this, read my Bible and enjoyed the magnificent morning.
  23. So…I read all of Corinthians 1 again, beautiful.  In my deep conversations with my new friend, I have felt a bit challenged.  Not in a bad way…in an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of way.  I know my faith is strong.  I am sure of my salvation.  I understand and have many biblical stories and scriptures stored in my heart.  In my quest to grow closer to God, I think it worthwhile to examine my foundational beliefs so I can better explain to others where I come from.  This is absolutely not the same as wanting to right fight and defend.  I want to understand more deeply all of the Bible…in context, not just here and there, for myself more than for anything.
  24. I had an especially sweet afternoon with a handsome, poetic hearted friend.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
  25. Tonight was coffee and a long overdue conversation with someone I love very much.  It was time to hear each other’s hearts so we could just move forward.  I thank God for these moments.
  26. This birthday week has been overflowing with new adventures and healing of old wounds.  In earlier blogs I’ve discussed my love of the words synchronicity and serendipity.  I still love them.  Even more, I love watching them in action.
  27. It’s been a deeply contemplative, prayerful week filled with thought-provoking discussions and earnest seeking.  These things are important to me, so I am thankful for each of these experiences.
  28. My children have been extra peaceful.  I don’t know why, I’m not going to try to explain.  I am intensely thankful for these moments though.
  29. Watching my daughter ice-skate and seeing her joy after she’s learned a new maneuver…priceless.  It was her daddy’s turn to take her this week but he sent me a video.  She wows me.
  30. Seeing the twinkle in my son’s eyes this week, even for a fleeting moment, makes my Momma heart happy.
  31. I have lost 20.3 pounds.  My next size down clothes are beginning to fall off of me.  I might not love that I had to change bra sizes but I do love my mostly steady energy and the way my body is changing.
  32. I see that while I am opening myself to new experiences, I am beginning to find healthy vulnerability again in areas that I had chosen previously kept  walled off.  I’m relieved that this is happening.
  33. I have set boundaries where before I would’ve not done so.  Sometimes, it really is less about fulfilling others expectations and more about taking care of myself.  This especially applies to my journey in dating. Stating my boundaries clearly and expecting that they be honored is just as new as dating.  This is all fresh territory.
  34. Staying in touch with new, new/old, old friends is a gift.  Remember, “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold?”  Yes.  Do that.
  35. I look in the mirror and sometimes I look tired.  I see more wrinkles than I used to. I see a belly that housed two healthy, glorious babies.   Guess what else I see?  I see a woman who is lovely and becoming more at peace with herself as time passes.  I see the heart of a child and the strength of a woman.  I see God’s princess.  I see someone who is worthy of goodness.
  36. I have laughed, cried and enjoyed myself this last week more than I have in so long.  I’m not sure why.  Whatever….I’m grateful.
  37. I turned down a fabulous internship opportunity because I knew it would not be the best for my family.  Doing the right thing isn’t always fun.  There will be an even better opportunity, this I know.
  38. I ate cheesecake on my birthday…tempura battered cheesecake with cream and strawberries.  I haven’t had anything like this since April.  Oh my goodness, life is short and enjoying dessert is a luxurious treat!
  39. My puppies, my kitty and even that little lizard make me smile.  God is so cool to even provide us with these little muffinheads….just makes me think how much He loves us to give us these kinds of enjoyments.
  40. I got myself a couple of new books for my birthday.  I don’t buy myself things often and most of my reading time is spent on school books…but I’m so excited to read something purely for pleasure.
  41. My house is an absolute mess.  Parts of it feel like they are literally crumbling under my feet.  (Literally, it’s kind of happening like that).  It’s gonna be okay.  I don’t know how but I know it is.  Trusting the process.  Praying hard!  Remembering, I have a home.
  42. My coffee was paid for twice this week by random strangers.  How’s that for a birthday treat?
  43. Baby tomatoes are still growing on my vines.  I was shaking one of the plants one morning…to shake the pollen down.  Although I was gentle, a little baby fell off the vine and I felt so sad.  So…I buried it.  If I were that baby tomato I’d just use my seeds to make another vine and I’d grow taller and stronger than the original vine.  However, I’m not the tomato, I guess we will see what happens next!
  44. I’ve found lots of new music to enjoy on Spotify this week, I once forgot the love of music that I have.  Like…how do people ever live without music?  TV, I understand but music has to be.
  45. Stella and I came up with a grand book idea…maybe we can make it happen.  That’s pretty hopeful!
  46. I learned that sometimes, you just gotta spill the tea, sis!

It’s just been the best birthday week ever and my cup overflows.  The kindnesses bestowed on me are astonishing and I hope I give back well all that I receive.

Grace.  Peace.  Joy.  Mercy. Compassion.

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