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.

second guessing

I recently created a Facebook page for this little corner of my world. It took A LOT for me to do that – because even though you would think everyone who knows me, knows about this blog, you would be wrong. There have been many times this last week, since creating this page, that I wanted to take it all down, hide it away, run the opposite direction. In the last week I have interacted with acquaintances and shared things that I never ever would have said aloud – because I took a socially abnormal risk – being vulnerable. I have participated in meaningful conversations, and really weird ones since laying it out there, and by weird I mean, I was greeted with dead silence and shifty eyes. Like when you sit in a chair and it squeaks but sounds like a fart and you say, “ha, sorry, this chair is so noisy…” everyone assumes you’re covering up a fart…and if you say nothing, everyone assumes you’re covering up a fart…lose, lose. Anyways, For a split second I questioned my efforts, my openness, I felt insecure and exposed….and then I remembered…why do I care, they can divert their shifty gaze. My truth is my truth no matter who you are, and, I am still Misie – which means – I lovingly do not care if you like the way I’m telling my story. ** If it makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why? I earnestly hope it will help someone; that someday, if you ever face a trauma so earth shattering, you will remember our story, and if you need someone, we are always here.

** I am sure there is a more graceful way to say this – I am a constant work in progress when it comes to grace.

Thank you to everyone who has liked, read, shared this page – It means a lot that you not only comprehend my ramblings, but follow along. If you know anyone who may benefit from reading our story, please feel free to share. We all have a story, this one is mine.

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.

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*

trials of an introvert

The other day I was trolling facebook – it seemed everyone I know was or had been in Ocean City and I was being assaulted by fried food porn. In this moment I remembered the most embarrassing OC story from my post high school days. My friend lived there in the summers and it was always fun to go be a beach bum for a week [which meant getting entirely too burnt the 1st day and suffering for the following 6]. I didn’t have a car and I certainly wasn’t going to ask my mommy to drive me there. In a very random turn of events I ended up hitching a ride with this guy I knew, not very well, but he somehow passed my parents creep test [if they only knew!]. We got along OK and it’s only a 2 hour drive – I figured it would fly by. It took all of fifteen minutes in the car before he pulled out a book he brought – he wanted to read it on the way down to “kill time.” I remember holding it, blank stare in his direction – “you want me to read to you?” Yea, it will be fun – he said. Ummm OK…I cracked it’s spine and began reading a historical tale about Israel and thought, this is boring but I think I can muster through. Fort-five minutes in I realize – this book is NOT about Israel – it is about courting, relationship, and marriage…and i am reading it to some dude who clearly thinks that’s what’s about to happen and he’s letting me know over story time! Every page got worse and worse, every moment felt creepy from the passenger seat and intimate from the driver’s perspective. Did I mention we were in a truck with a bench seat?! Of course I was up against the door hoping it would fall open and spill me onto the pavement. He would stop me every now and then and ask my opinion on the author’s perspective and I would choke out something non emotive and suffer through his analyzation. All I wanted was to go to the freaking beach and be lazy and eat ice cream, instead I was stuck in a car with a boy who wanted to make me his Biblical wife without me even knowing!

I remember arriving at the beach and jumping out of the car, grabbing my bag and power walking down the street. He literally ran after me and offered to walk me the fifteen blocks – I politely refused multiple times. He walked behind me for fifteen blocks. We arrived at my friend’s and she could tell by my face that if she didn’t get rid of him, something utterly terrible would spew from my mouth that would involve not only dream squashing but more than likely permanent soul crushing. He finally left and I was able to tell her everything. For the next three days he would show up at her work, scour the beach for me, and randomly show up to her house interviewing her parents as to our exact location. All I could think was – he’s also my ride home! Worst news ever.

One evening on the boardwalk I ran into a very dear family friend – in a span of two minutes I told him my situation and he offered to not only drive me home, but hang out with me the rest of my time as to fend off any suitors. I could not have been more relieved! Although I dreaded the fifteen block walk to the skate park to tell said weirdo I no longer needed his services, there was a tiny bit of joy in breaking his heart.