be relentless

Almost exactly 4 years ago I was sitting in this same house, taking in the changing colors, cheeks flushed from the crisp east coast air. It was a joyous week celebrating life – 50 years of one well lived, the union of two beautiful souls, and the anticipation of meeting the little one growing inside me. Family from near and far all converging with shared purpose and excitement. There were so many hugs and squeals – the air riddled with hope, elation, and that feeling – you know the one – where all just feels right in the world.

Weeks before our trek across the US, we learned our Little Bird may not be growing as she should. The messages were mixed and tests inconclusive. We kept the potential of her defect to ourselves – we wanted our ignorance to last as long as it could. The air was thick with joy and maybe selfishly we knew, this would be the last time we would breath with ease, the last time we could wear joy and know it was genuine. Surrounded by every face we’ve ever loved, receiving thoughtful gifts – some passed down through generations, and resting in the idea that life was good – it is something I will never forget.

As I sit in the same house, cheeks flushed from the crisp fall air, tears sneak quietly down my face. This isn’t how we were supposed to return here. Empty handed. Hearts deflated by pain and anger. Broken in every way. It feels as though we exist on the outside looking in. Always asking ourselves, is this our life – forever and ever? Does this state of devastation and grief ever lessen? Does it ever become something capable of sharing space with joy and happiness? I don’t have the answer. It is likely I never will. That has to be OK.

What I do know is this: even when I can’t see through the grey and the fog, life is still beautiful. It’s beautiful because even in this mess, this effed up brokenness, there is love. I know that love is so much bigger than me and my pain – it is the currency in which I should place all my investment. Without it – we would not have made it this far and neither would you. We all have a story – likely littered with pain and disappointments – that’s OK – it makes us human, it gives us common ground. We need to use that common ground to be there for one another. If you know someone in pain – sit outside their door – take them a meal – send them a text or email (snail mail is WAY cooler though) – love them in whatever way they let you, until they let you in. Once you’re in – don’t freaking screw it up! Don’t give unsolicited advice, ask them how long it will last, or lament about your own problems – JUST BE. 

I cannot stress or say this enough – if someone you know is grieving, the loss of a person or their life played out in depression, anger, isolation; maybe they’re struggling with family or lost in their own pain – don’t stop reaching out. Ever. Also, Don’t make it about you. If they don’t respond, do so harshly or coldly – don’t take it personally (well, try not to). It won’t be easy – there is an ugliness that stems from shame, loss and pain. It manifests as self preservation; the thickest and tallest emotional walls, and words sharper than knives. It generates visceral reactions to the simplest of things and strikes out of fear, loneliness, and exhaustion. Nine times outta ten, it has nothing to do with you. Chase them down and leave your expectations outside – try and try again, be relentless in loving them even if they only let you from very far away. One day your love will seep through, it will sit with them when they feel alone, it will tap them on the shoulder when they’re about to lose it, it will keep them going.

The house we live in

Big change tends to stir up those things we repress. It draws out any ugliness we try to cover with the “New” thing or the “New” experience. I guess the real adventure is embracing every part of the process – not just the shiny newness, but all the brokenness that brought you there in the first place. Since we moved I have been a lost and found box of emotion. I have tried detaching, scare tactics, distraction, numbing, close up magic (just kidding) – none of it works. At the end of the day I look like an out of control emotional crazy person, and basically, I am.

Over the last six or so months I have been a little obsessed with personalities. There is a part of me that always wants | needs to know the “whys” of things. Why things happen, why two people can look at the same situation and come to separate conclusions…etc. Back in September a friend introduced me to the Enneagram (read: diagnosed me). The nerdy researcher in me began reading everything and anything I could get my hands on. It’s an absolutely fascinating concept, and dare I say, spot on. I am familiar with various other methods of personality typing, but this one described me perfectly, to the point where I may have had a small identity crisis. If you aren’t familiar, and are willing to see yourself in the best and worst sense, I would encourage you to check it out.

On my quest to gain a better understanding, I realized my biggest enemy, other than grief, is stress. When I am stressed I either get very sick or basically turn into a monster. I could be a monster to those closest to me, those within a 3 to 5,000 mile radius, or just to myself. I researched introvertedness, logical | critical thinking, sensing, feeling, judging; all the ways we as humans emotionally react to any given situation. I am incredibly hard on myself, the expectations I chase are more often than not impossible to catch. When I disappoint myself I take it out on others. When I am angry or lonely or sad or frustrated, but cannot put words or emotion to it – I project. It is a vicious cycle, one I am desperately attempting to correct. Stress inspires a way of acting/reacting that gives me visions of what I would have been like as a cavewoman – absolutely terrifying. If this were a sitcom we would flash to a scene: me in torn clothes, feeding on raw meat, blood trickling down my face, dirt smeared skin, and grunts and growls being my only form of communication. It also gives me an appreciation – like a deep tear inducing appreciation – for friends and family who love me in spite of my gnashing of teeth and/or disappearing acts.

Who we are and why we are those people is an important study. I was insulted at first by my personality typing and I was incredibly unkind to myself as a result. I am thankful for so many of the things that make me, me – but there are scary parts – there is a wildness that needs – not taming so much as love…self love. I read a quote the other day that basically said – the words you say to yourself, become the house you live in. Throat.Punch. The house I live in is weighed down by words of frustration, sadness, and weariness. Words of joy and gratefulness are certainly scattered in there – but self reflection is no joke. I need to strengthen my walls with encouragement, lower my expectations, accept my lack of control. I need to stop withholding grace – be OK with time: time for growth and healing.

I have been horrible at balancing life this last month. I have been difficult, cold, and ambivalent. Here’s to embracing all the messy broken parts – accepting responsibility and owning the process. Part of showing myself grace, is also a practice in showing it to others, better than I have in the past. Recognizing we are all works in progress – and the only way we can do this life is together is by simply loving ourselves and one another. Love has no expectations or pro and con lists; it is kindness, it is grace. And when we do a crappy job, which we ultimately will, love is owning that failure and trying again, over and over and over.

Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is something I am learning and training myself to do. I often find it difficult because I get so caught up internalizing everything and lose myself in the analytics and process. I can write down ten things for which I’m grateful, but I am more excited about the list writing than its actual content. I am making a concerted effort to be more present in life, opening up to things that cause me discomfort like hugs and compliments and general touchy feely things. Saying it aloud makes me cringe a little. I can do this – and by this I mean – be a little less awkward and less controlled and embrace life for exactly what it is.

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance…Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. -Brene Brown

Have you ever played that game where you stare at something for a really long time and it almost becomes unrecognizable? It could be a familiar face, a piece of art, or a word – it shape-shifts and the longer you stare, the more familiar you become with its beauty and flaws. If you stare at yourself (read: your past | your present) and allow it to shape-shift – become something different entirely – you may just see beauty. You may see how the flaws of your youth created unique and fantastic bits that freckle the landscape of who you are today. You may see how the difficult times prepared you for a larger mountain to climb later in life. You may recognize past relationships and their impact on your ability to love and be loved. I don’t think I knew true gratitude until I was comfortable with imperfection – not being OK – loving the mess that is me and being grateful for all of it…even the messiest bits.

So as this season of thanks continues through the new year, I want to encourage you to actively practice gratitude. It can be a journal or sharing them aloud with friends/family/partner. If this cynic (I’m talking about me guys) can get sentimental and a little sappy…anyone can do it.

I am grateful for relationship. I hit the friend jackpot – some dating back to 4th grade and others still in their introductory phase. I don’t know if your friends would fly cross country for a cocktail, spend 36 hours talking about life, take a night drive as a ritual, call you on the plane to say I love you one more time, hold your hand through the sad part in a movie, send you amazing things from thousands of miles away, or make up a dance just to see you laugh – mine do and I adore them. I want my legacy to be honesty, dance parties, and laughing, A LOT – these people, make me believe it’s possible. That may sound trite and weird but I’m 100% serious. What more is there to life than relationship; showing up, loving people for exactly who they are and walking through life together. Everything else just kind of happens when you’re letting love and grace light the way. Cliche’? Maybe, but it’s gold and I am incredibly rich with the greatest friends and will fight anyone who tries to tell me different.

I am grateful for a temporary retirement – one that allows me to rest, be present, be available to people I love in a way I am incapable when buried under stress.

I am grateful for adventure and a partner who is willing to face just about anything, trusting we can handle whatever’s next.

I am grateful for my brain and how it over analyzes everything – because of it’s annoying approach to life, I have learned so much about myself this last year – and look forward to more growth.

I am grateful for new friends when I least expected it.

I am grateful for family who continue to champion Mick and I on and speak truth into our lives in ways that change us and bring us back to a simpler way of living.

I am grateful for brokenness – it has brought me more challenges and joy than I ever anticipated – this next year is going to be incredible. I look forward to watching our life shape-shift further into authenticity and vulnerability.

words.

Do you ever feel like you wake up each and every day trying to catch where you’re supposed to be | where you thought you’d be; yet, as your head hits the pillow you feel the same weight of exhaustion and failure with which you awoke?

Do you ever feel like happiness is a concept, not an experience? You’re constantly clocking in and out of life but never embracing all its parts? You get so beat down with the day to day you settle for what was once thought temporary. You begin to convince yourself that your dreams, those magical gems that gave your soul fire, they’re just that, dreams, not tangible things.

Stick with me here – and no, this is not an infomercial for some emotional support group or self-help book that I read last month, or even a judgment of your current state. It’s more a free flowing thought process that has been tapping my shoulder, whispering – what the hell are you doing with your life…do you even know…do you even see yourself? I arrive to this blank page with zero answers, however, this deserves a conversation even if a conclusion is far from reach.

blog pic

This is what I know to be true based on my experience and my observation of many I know and love. Living a reactionary life is no life at all. If we are always reacting, we will never be in front of life, we will never dictate our futures; we will exist hopelessly. Be in charge, create your own path, take responsibility and ownership of your decisions. We all have ugliness and failures but, what if, just once, we viewed them as triumphs? Without them we would not grow, we would not evolve into better versions of ourselves. Obviously, we have to make that choice; choose to embrace the struggle, choose to walk up a mountain because, at the top, is a view we could never imagine. It’s a vast openness of possibility. 

I am IN THIS right now – I do not speak from a superior place, this is not a life hack. This is hard work, it is dedication, it is stepping out into the unknown. If you fail…ok. So what. Get up. Try Again. Take the risk. Do not apologize for being bold, being honest, or being an individual. I know I have a unique personality – I am not saying be like me or that fear is for suckers. I am afraid all of the time, but I do not let it define me, I will not let it dictate my future. I want authenticity, I want joy, I want a life well-lived, one I can look back on and think – holy crap – at all times, my cup overflowed, I was true to myself, I fought hard for what I have, and I am loved greatly.

So…I leave you with this – because let’s be honest, I’m just dissecting this and applying it to my life – because it’s brilliant:
“If you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you. It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.” | Cheryl Richardson

Image | quote found via Pinterest 

being known

Interrupting our house updates (because nothing is happening) for words on, being known.

We are slowly watching This is Us – and by slowly, I mean, it takes me a bit to recover before the next episode…and by a bit, I mean, weeks at a time. Believe it or not, I am sensitive; I tend to absorb whatever feeling is being portrayed which is obviously the desired effect of exceptional acting. I don’t mind feeling things – I do like to control how I receive it. If I can almost guarantee something will make me cry, make my soul ache with sadness – no thank you. So, why the heck did I start watching this show?! Well, if I’m being honest, I have a thing for the actor who plays Jack – aka Milo Ventimiglia circa 2002/2003 when he played the bad boy to Rory’s good girl on Gilmore Girls. I own this fact; that character will always have a spot in my cold heart. Then he went and played Rocky’s son in what turned out to be a cheesy addition to the Rocky series, but it was truly perfect casting. (if I have to hear “Hey Lil Marie” one more time….) Anyways, this is not about him….Right?!

This show is blowing minds everywhere – the acting, writing, storytelling – it’s top tier. If there were enough time in a day I would elaborate on how William instantly stole my heart and how I love Randall just as much – those two slay me. The character development on this show is absolutely incredible! This requires a separate series of gushing and not what brings us here today. No, what has me fangirling is the story and portrayal of family. My whole life I was surrounded by big, loud families. You would think a family like that would cause the introvert inside to cower, retreat to a tree and read a book. Surprisingly, these people were a force by which I was controlled. I loved loved being around the chaos, the banter, and being an audience member to their love and dysfunction.  When I was 17 I lived with one of my best friend’s family – it was a revolving door of kids, lacrosse sticks, instruments, debates, sarcasm, and laughter. A tornado of extroverts spinning around me as I sat quietly, taking it all in.

As I watch this show I can’t help but see all the reasons I love loud families – families that talk, laugh, play, and love being together. There is freedom facing a relationship without fear and the comfort in being known. This has been a theme for me this last year – I keep coming back to the idea – resting in it – craving the crap out of it. I am so very private – I trust few people with my heart, my true free self. It has very little to do with insecurity and more to do with me weighing their worthiness. I by no means think I am the most fantastic of people; that you would be SO honored to know me and love me and diiiiiine with me (said with an uptight British accent)…it’s more that I am flawed by introversion and self-preservation.  I have always been choosy as to who sees me…really sees me. I desire authentic relationships; I want to be with people who talk about things – like REALLY talk about things. I value my time, I value the time of others and find it difficult to project anything ingenuine.

Being known doesn’t just mean someone knew that at 16 you may have worn your great grandfather’s clothes; thought make-up was for suckers, and bought a pair of steel toed Doc Martins two sizes too big because you couldn’t part with them. I would say, whoever that weirdo is, they are lucky if they have friends. Being known is not only one of the greatest parts of any relationship but also the most difficult and most jarring. It takes an incredible amount of vulnerability – to trust you are embraced for whatever “ugliness” you bring to the table; to know love is the foundation even when anger and hurt make everything blurry.

I believe there is an emptiness we carry when no one knows us, Humans are meant for relationship. We are hardwired to be a community, to carry each other’s burdens, to rise up when we see others falling. We were created to love and show kindness. I can’t think of a better way to be love, to be kind, to be strong than to just be yourself – no matter what that looks like.

I cannot express the gratitude and freedom I feel when around those who truly know me. I find joy in their honesty, their grace, and I am so thankful they love me. These are the ones who push through my silence and my distance; they seek me out when I try to disappear. They will have week-long conversations with me strictly through giphs (yes, this is real life people!). These people hold me as dearly as I hold on to them and that’s something…truly something. To exist with people who have seen you at your worst and stick around even if in fact, that wasn’t your worst; the beauty in this – this state of being known – is one of such purity…there is joy, there is honesty, and there is light – so much damn light.

love one another

I have paid little attention to our current election – cue judgmental gasps. I naturally shy away, or not so shyly, walk away when I feel bullied or demanded into anything. So much of the last year has been a constant assault of:

You have to! It’s your duty! You’re un-American if you don’t! It’s a privilege!  || He’s a racist and hates women! She’s a criminal and a liar!

I don’t have to list the rest because each of you have seen and heard the same pollution on TV, Facebook, Instagram, magazine covers, church sermons…etc., it’s out of control. 

My heart breaks for America – not because a man or woman may be elected who may be wrong for our great nation. My heart breaks because this popularity contest has ruined relationships, those between sisters and brothers, parents and children and the closest of friends. It’s created a chasm between the rich and poor, white and black, Muslim and Christian. It has broken the very people it claims to serve and protect. The conspiracy theorist in me would believe this to be deliberate, however, we choose our reactions. We dictate our behaviors – no one has forced us into this mindset of hate and fear. They may spoon feed the ammunition, but we choose to eat it up without a second thought.

Let’s not forget – it is just a woman. It is just a man; both flawed and broken human beings themselves. A woman and a man who, by no means, can save anyone. What is this power they have been given? They carry all your hopes and dreams and expectations ? They are no better than you or I. Our eternity does not belong to them.

We need to love one another better. We need to love ourselves LESS. We need to stop this madness, this rhetoric laced with hate and entitlement. We are no better than our fellow man/woman/race/religion – we are each blessed with one precious life; our greatest duty is to love and respect each other. Hug your friends and family, mend broken relationships and be kind to everyone. The world will not implode today, but if it did, would you be ok with the state of your life and relationships? Would you be proud of the way you treated your fellow American these last few months?

three years later

Three years ago today (and what started this blog), after 40+ hours of driving, we arrived in Idaho – the Inland Northwest (Google it, it’s a thing). We are so incredibly thankful and happy to live in this place. It is breathtaking, the air smells like Christmas year round, we know and love the best people, and have never once looked back; hashtag blessed. Ironically some dear friends from Maryland will be here in three days and we are pretty pumped – you better get on that plane! Looking forward to celebrating another year in Idaho, but also showing friends our little corner of the world. Cheers!

A couple line items:  

I graduated to an actual domain – you can now read my ramblings via – http://www.misiesface.com

More importantly, Justin Timberlake’s documentary on Netflix is AMAZE. If you haven’t seen it already – DO IT! Seriously, do it right NOW. Do it.