the wild of our unknowns

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This past year my typical approach, my self-identifiers, have faced more opposition than I can remember. All past methods do not work and seemingly create more conflicts or unknowns. The need for control does nothing when one is completely out of control. It truly complicates life further and sets everything off kilter. Through grace, bucket loads of grace, I am slowly learning that all-important lesson of stillness. I am getting in touch with emotions, those founded in love, empathy, and shared wisdom. Since moving back East life has felt unsettled, filled with uncertainty; a plethora of obstacles and unknowns. I often struggle with balance, with rest. My mind is always onto the next thing or it’s processing multiple realities and solving a myriad of problems all while grocery shopping. Sitting still and resting in these things is a last resort, a laughable suggestion, and not typically part of my life practice. 

People always want to see external evidence of change; for example, I can say – I am softening, I am becoming more open and loving and vulnerable. You may not see it, or maybe only bits and pieces. I don’t necessarily smile more or make friends everywhere I go, and my party attendance has actually decreased. The changes of which I speak are 90% internal – a change in thought process, a deterioration of walls, and an approach to others with more grace and empathy. I am working to cultivate relationships differently, to invest a lot more in others, to take emotional risks and be OK if they don’t pan out. It doesn’t hurt that I am surrounded by genuine people, ones who give away love and grace effortlessly, without condition. It is inspiring and I am beyond blessed to watch it, take part in it, and receive it. They provide this safe space where failure is merely a stepping stone, where love has no limit, and being seen is the only way to be. They remind me of who I am and who I am becoming. Meeting people who see through your walls or are entirely unaffected by them, has been challenging and eye-opening in so many ways. It makes me love them all the more and crave more relationships like that. I am so thankful to have people who remind me to stop, look up, breath in the chaos and just be still. 

Every single day offers a lesson, a challenge to be better versions of ourselves. We get the honor and privilege to love and be loved in return. We can view our unknowns with a child-like curiosity of where life will lead, or we can get lost in our worries and need for control, missing out on the beauty of it all. I would be naive to think this is all random. I would be remiss to brush it off as a season, or simply the act of maturing as I inch closer to 40. There are no coincidences in this life. There are choices. There is the action one takes in making said choices, and there is acceptance of the outcome. These choices, these moments in life where we either step up and admit our helplessness, our brokenness, and our weakness, they are divinely planted. They are rushing waters of love flowing toward us, open hands asking us to trust, to love, to be exactly who we are and recognize the endless amounts of grace, the richness of life and love, and the one who gently whispers – come to me – Cast your cares on me. 

It will be a year in a couple weeks since we moved back east. It will also be ten years that Mick and I decided to share life together. There are oh so many things we are learning and relearning and so many things we’ve overcome. Through it ALL there is a steady faithfulness, a continued promise of being renewed, and a future ripe with more adventure. We just have to embrace all the parts, the highs, the lows, and especially, the wild of our unknowns.

** image found via Pinterest; words by the lovely Morgan Harper Nichols

Adventure: En Why See

My sweet lil friend Celine came to visit from Idaho this past week! It was my pleasure to assist in checking a few items off her bucket list. Honestly, I’ve explored the city many times and it’s always a dream for me; however, this time was different and magical for so many reasons. The biggest reason being – the awe and delight on Celine’s face brought me so much joy – she was such a trooper too! So thankful for her in my life – she is one of the best around and I adore her face!

12.5 miles walked | Times Square | Empire State building | Grand Central station | The Met | Central Park | Bethesda Fountain/Terrace | 5th Avenue | Alice and Wonderland statue | Brooklyn Bridge | Statue of Liberty | Tiffany’s | Madison Avenue | Vera Wang | NYU | Hillsong Church NYC | Bleeker Street | NY Subway | Washington Square Park | Macy’s/Herald Square

She definitely got a true NYC experience: drug deals, public urination, piles of vomit, mobs of people, two famous people, the best coffee, the best pizza, a swanky hotel and rooftop bar, and her Gossip Girl dreams fulfilled on the Upper East Side. She kept up with me, power walked like a champ and brightened everyone’s day with whom she came into contact. I can’t wait till next time – hopefully, it is warmer than 23 (“feels like 11”) degrees.

words on adventure

The thing about adventure is: it is fluid – it is not limited to space and time, and requires an open mind and heart. It will be uncomfortable, at times painful, and scary. But, it can also be life altering – bringing joy and personal growth. Moving to Idaho has been epic in ways I never imagined. The air is ripe with juniper and pine – which, to a gin enthusiast, is basically a dream. The landscape hosts the most extraordinary parts of this country – the conservation of wilderness, the mountains, the massive sky, and the lakes/rivers – it is phenomenal. The people are some of the kindest you will meet outside The South. When they ask how your day is, they actually want to know. Everywhere you go they smile, and offer assistance above and beyond. You might wait 45 minutes at the DMV, and once you get to the counter, you are greeted with a smile and delightful conversation. Honestly – I still cannot get over that part – it’s like Mayberry or a movie lot. For two East Coasters this was the most jarring of culture shocks.

These last four years have been some of the most enlightening of my life. The seemingly organic ways I have grown, perhaps matured, have always felt bigger than me. Even in the trying moments, something in my gut whispered, you are being prepared for so much more. I am still clueless to what that, more, is; however, I would not change a single thing. The relationships we built are of monumental proportions. Seriously. To think in four years we have secured depths and heights with such beautiful souls, makes my insides a little bit mushy and warm. It’s weird…but I kind of like it. These people are kind, generous, broken, loving, forgiving, freaking hilarious, gracious, and stuck with us always and forever.

You may be curious why I am suddenly sentimental, verging on sappy; It looks weird on me, right? Unfortunately, it will continue just a bit longer, bear with me. Our trajectory is taking a sharp right turn – one both unexpected and exciting. In a few short weeks we will be embarking on a new adventure, one taking us back East. It is filled with a lot of excited anticipation, many unknowns, and a constant state of pinching ourselves. If I am being honest, we have been emotionally dehydrated these last two years. We are looking forward to some serious soul feeding times with family and friends. A reset, a filling back up of sorts. Our exit is incredibly bittersweet – it has been a beautiful chapter of life – leaving a permanent bookmark in our story. We are humbled by the love and lives so richly shared with us. It was beyond our wildest hopes to know this place and its people. We will definitely be back here to visit; however, we cannot wait see our Idaho peoples on our coast very soon!

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life. – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Image found via Pinterest 

All the feels

We went back east a couple weeks ago – we walked into all things familiar. My hair instantly frizzed upon exiting the airport, my ears were assaulted by car horns and sirens, and my nostrils filled with bus exhaust. It was oddly comforting. Every face looked and sounded the same and the hugs, although tighter and longer, felt the same. There were a few eerie moments – moments we were reminded that life has moved forward for everyone even if ours stopped back in 2015. It is entirely out of self preservation that we are here, this space of alienation. It has allowed us to function with little emotion and skirt by these last two years without crumbling. I recently read in an amazing [read: FREAKING AMAZING!] book that the first year of grief you walk along numb and unattached [check!]. The second year, all the shit you pushed down down down begins to surface. Not just a twinge here or there – more like bursting into hysterics because you can’t get the ice tray to crack, or screaming at inanimate objects for running into you when in fact they are in the same spot they’ve always been. My heart is colder than most so I’ve stretched it out an additional year. I rarely cry too which means my hysterics involve throwing things [like ice trays], cursing in patterns that make little sense, and kicking dressers that jump out of nowhere. To describe an ache for something, something you never really had is the most difficult thing. The yearning is powerful, it can be a monster dragging you down and around emotions you once thought hidden or absolved.

I once wrote how the dichotomy of death and life existing at once and altogether shared, is…surreal. It’s changing us – it’s changing our world and relationships. Relationships come and go – some run dormant for years only to be picked back up when needed most – it is all part of our story. The pain we experience, the ache of loss whether in relationship or in death – is an ache to explore. We chase moments and memories and seek familiar feelings but in a new reality. Every day is an opportunity to accept a new set of circumstances and be honest with ourselves, honest about the raw feelings, honest about the fear and the what ifs. There is always hope – there is always the idea that someday, even if we’re 80, loss and the reasons why, will finally make sense.

I think these last two years have made us homesick – not for a place but for the people that make a place, home. We realized we are parched – emotionally speaking. The amount of love that rained down on us in Maryland was incredible – we were watered and cared for and every last bit of us, dusted off. We left, our souls filled to the brim. Even the briefest of conversations left their mark and we are so thankful for our friends and family back east. You all know how to make two worn out people feel loved and missed in the most epic ways.

“it’s the tragedy of loving, you can’t love anything more than something you miss.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

Trials of an introvert – Freshman year

I had really high hopes for my freshman year in college. I attended a two week summer program prior to the first semester and knew a handful of incoming freshman. Initially, this was a good thing. I was also living out of state with one of my best friends in one of the oldest residential halls on campus and we had an awesome room [read: no A/C, this-end-up furniture, a mirror too tall for me to use, and a neighbor who did interpretive dance at night to Disney music – she clearly had a single…and was single]. Despite the recurring brown theme and plywood smell; we lofted our beds, had a mini fridge, microwave, tv/vcr combo…coolest kids on the third floor.

There are so many awkward meet and greets when a college freshman – aka organized torture created to crush the spirit of any introvert. There were nerds in collegiate sweatshirts overzealous about extracurriculars, selling used books, and telling you how much college was going to “rock!” no thanks. Keep your group activities to yourself, I’ve got friends already. Anyways – after getting all set up and going to a couple mandatory events, I set off to find the familiar faces I met over the summer. [Please note – I was 18 with an attitude problem]

The first few months went by great – my roommate and I made friends with the girls in our hall and heard all about the promiscuous soccer players. One day exiting class I ran right into one of the upper classmen who helped facilitate the summer program. We chatted and he told me where to get the best coffee on campus…and that he was a soccer player. At that night’s game I ran into two other summer program leaders and introduced them to my roommate and her boyfriend. All three really nice guys, all three happy to see me; I was clueless.

I would often receive a voicemail or two from one of these three guys…calls I never returned. I would randomly, or so I thought, run into them outside my residence hall, the cafeteria or hear them yell my name as I walked into class. One night while my roommate and I were studying, there was a knock on the door… “Yo…I was in the neighborhood, thought I would stop in and say hey…” Classic Misie response – “oh, hey. You don’t live in this neighborhood so that’s a weird thing to say.” We chatted briefly and I awkwardly let him know I was in the middle of an intense study sesh and needed to get back to it. The phone calls increased, as did the clandestine meetings at dinner and in common areas. One day a guy popped out of the woods while I was walking home from class, “I figured you’d be walking home around this time!” [How would you like a swift kick to the throat?!]  I began to freak out! How the hell did he know my class schedule/walking route? Since when is it OK to hide in the woods to see a girl? I began ducking behind columns and tall people, taking new routes to class and my dorm. One time I hid in a cabinet while my roommate’s boyfriend convinced them I was on a date. It was getting ridiculous and my flight or fight reflex was off the chart. I remember my roommate telling me, “Misie, just be nice!” Ha – yea, OK Liz…if I knew about human trafficking in 1999, I would have transferred out immediately. [I still love you and your kind heart Liz!]

One night there was a salsa dancing event and the girls on my hall really wanted to go. I begrudgingly attended, sitting in a corner scowling at anyone who dared make eye contact. As I attempted to leave, someone grabbed my waist and pulled me back onto the dance floor. I found myself mere inches away from one of my suitors/stalkers beady little eyes and almost mustache. Of course all three guys were in attendance and I spun back and forth between them. As my face grew hot and panic set it I scanned the room for someone, anyone, to save me. Suddenly I saw a hand reach into the crowd – I grasped tightly and was yanked out of said dance circle. It was a friend from high school – he didn’t know I was panicked – he just didn’t like that these jokers were all up in my biz. From that moment on I decided to never leave my dorm room except for class and the bathroom. I could easily live on saltines, pilfered bagels from the cafeteria and raisin bran. So, while most girls gained the freshman 15, joined every extracurricular, and created long lasting friendships…I lost ten pounds, hid out in dorm rooms, and became the invisible college student.

This sounds dramatic – and at the time – it was a bit over the top. Thankfully my stealth secret agent moves sent a clear message and eventually I was able to travel to class in peace. The phone calls and messages stopped and every once and awhile I would make a special trip to the cafeteria with my friends. By year end it became a running joke…and still is actually.

To Christian, Vern and Jelani*: if you ever read this – I know you guys weren’t total creeps – if it’s any consolation, I had a very cold heart and no intention of warming up to you. Today, I am mildly flattered. In 1999, I was sure you wanted to kidnap me and keep me in your basement.

*yup, these are real names…Philly represent

 

trials of an introvert

This is what happens when I try to step outside my Misie shaped bubble and convince the world I am a real girl.

FIRST:

The other day a kind man bought me a drink. I don’t know why. I did not know him nor had I ever seen him. He handed me the drink, when I offered my card he said, “don’t worry about it.” I was shocked, my eyes widened and I squeaked, “are you sure?!” He smiled wide and nodded yes, as I fumbled, almost knocking over the free beverage, he grabbed my attention again, “the proper response is ‘thank you’…” totally embarrassed and getting clumsier by the second, I sheepishly smiled and thanked him. I was nervous to even take a sip, he obviously may have been attempting to human traffic me, but I also couldn’t compartmentalize why he offered such kindness. Does this happen to normal people? Yes, and they handle it ten times better!

SECOND:

The awkward hug you didn’t realize was awkward until eight hours later. You are seeing people you have not seen in a very long time. You cannot figure out whether the statute of limitations has passed on whether you know them well enough anymore to give hugs when saying hello. There is a grey area where it should be socially acceptable because it’s been years, but at the same time, you do not know them anymore.

They walk up to you (at least you think they are but now you cannot remember if they even made eye contact with you); you smile and their arm goes out toward you. Your stomach settles – oh ok, this means they want a hug – so you go in, like ALL in, both arms squeezing tight (might as well have closed your eyes, breathed in deep and threw in a back rub), however, you realize they were possibly only offering a side hug. As you back away, hoping they did not notice you smell them, they are looking in a completely different direction. Hmph – that is weird – maybe someone called their name? You turn and notice everyone is very serious – like praying over dinner serious. Wait was it a hug?! Oh.No. It wasn’t even a side hug!!!! Were they actually waving to someone, sniffing their armpit, stretching!? Introvert.Nightmare. The worst part – I will never know because introverts do not ask the follow up questions, especially if they know it will lead to further embarrassment. I will soon be that person at parties who says, “I’m going to hug you now.

*Places hand to face, whispers…oyyyyy*