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

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 

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.

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*

take me to Tofino

Four+ months ago Mick and I had an honest conversation about how we wanted to spend Birdie’s week of life. The main things on which we agreed – somewhere far, somewhere isolated, somewhere healing. Over the years we have ventured out of the box for vacations and not once been disappointed. Even when feverish in Mexico, someone (Mick) nursing an injured knee (most of you know this story), we would go again. The best healing retreat we encountered was with our dear Lois in Idaho – her hospitality and serene location pushed us over the edge and started our adventure to move – we still seek healing there. All of these, randomly found on the internet, out of the ordinary and perfect in every way. Virgins to Air BnB – I scoured countries, towns, hot spots relying on my gut to show me where to go. The pictures of Cedarwood Cove sucked me in, but it was the owner’s description that sold us. As a nutrition nerd who spent a year hands on healing with a nutritionist and greatly benefiting – Michelle’s words about food, the earth and living life resonated. I researched their island gem and after showing it to Mick, we paid in full.

We both know a lot can happen in four months but we held out hope we’d make this happen. When rough days or weeks came our way – we looked at the pictures, we reread Michelle’s words and we repeated, “take me to Tofino!” The photos speak for themselves – Beauty is everywhere. Eagles soaring directly above, the sounds of migrating birds mixed with the powerful ocean rumble. It is a community of less than 2,000 people but holy geez, do they have it figured out. A surf town in the middle of a rain forest, surrounded by jagged tree-covered mountains. The ocean on one side, the sound on the other – it truly has everything to offer. It’s part of the Pacific Rim National preserve, the drive across Vancouver Island has many a jaw dropping moment. Between Mick and I we have seen quite a few astounding places, but there’s something about this place – it warms your soul. The way of life, the food, the culture and the smiles on everyone’s face – it is one of a kind. We are thankful for people like Michelle and Alan – their desire to enjoy life – to make it rich and rewarding is something we all need. Even if we only have eight days of anonymity.

I haven’t used my real camera in a long time and there was a learning curve for sure…but I picked it back up slowly. Below are some shots – very few edits because it takes too much time, I mean, seriously. (Click on image for slideshow)

365

I never wanted kids. I do not get excited about new babies. I am horrible at interacting with children. I find it difficult to come down to their level and I get bored playing pretend. If they are girls I am even worse at princess things. I grew up playing “war” in the woods, boxing with my brother and dad, and when I played Barbies she was on her third marriage, and Skipper spent every other weekend with her pretentious step-mother and her bob haircut. When Mick and I discussed a future we talked about how it was not a goal for either of us but agreed we wouldn’t rule it out. We voiced simplistic generalities about how our kid would be adorable, and athletic and all things that seem ridiculous now. We sounded self righteous using grand statements of never, or three years from now, or before I am 35. We were ignorant to assume we had any say in eternal things.

When we found out Miss Birdie was coming – I had a very difficult time. My introspection was working overtime. I was convinced I would be a horrible mother – cold and mean. About halfway through my pregnancy I began singing to her. I sang in the car, in the shower, resting on the couch – music was always playing and Mick and I would do our best to squeak out harmonies. One afternoon in the hospital we had to make an incredibly difficult decision – our energy was sorrowful and Birdie could sense it. Her comfort level was plummeting and she was maxed out on morphine. I began humming scales – simple C scales up and down, over and over. Immediately Birdie’s oxygen levels began to rise, her heart rate leveled and she squeezed my finger. If I stopped humming her numbers would plummet. I hummed and hummed and when I couldn’t do it, Mick took my place. We hummed together, we made up songs, we sang to her about Buddy and her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and whatever we could think of. When our tears took our voices our sweet nurse turned on music. Other than the moment they finally placed her in my arms, she was never that calm. As I unraveled under the weight of it all, Mick looked at me and said, “honey, you are a natural at this…only her mom would know she needed that.” 

Although we do not have the stories and the photos of a one year old, we are parents, and in that moment, I was a mom. 365 days have passed, and the days are easier yet it still steals our breath. We miss our precious bird.

 

Intention

We do not have the luxury to define how life prevails us. We can only choose our intent under it’s weight.

 

It is easy to exist – to be owned by fear, sadness or anger. It can be the most exhausting of things to take the weight of emotion and redirect it into purpose. A common narrative in our culture is that doing life selflessly is most difficult and inconvenient. There is such focus on how any given thing will impact you….you….you…it’s everywhere. What if the narrative was about sharing? Sharing in joys, successes, the honest to goodness soul crushing moments? Can you imagine how rich and vibrant “existing” could be?

 

The heaviness of life has not lifted – it spins and curls in every attempt to make a permanent home here. Our efforts to find normalcy get trapped under our need to process. Our need to process gets trapped under our fear of feeling. Our fear of feeling is the greatest of fears. It can be small things – choosing a different line at the grocery store because we see an infant seat…skipping a meeting because someone brings their child to work…walking away from a conversation riddled with the joys of parenthood. Every moment is owned, whether a milestone or failure. Every moment is a part of this perpetual process. Our intent is to keep moving; to be productive, not just dwell on the bad. In the moving and the smiling and the social experiments, there are moments where sitting in silence is necessary. It could be an evening, a week, a month… It is whatever it needs to be. The walls we build in our silence can be temporary or permanent, it’s up to us to fight against permanence. Instinct can rule our action, it cannot rule the intention of our heart. We remain vigil to our intent.

 

We are in a season of silence. We may not be reaching out to family and friends often, but we are good. We are busy with the day to day – allowing ourselves to get lost in work and projects. We are aware, we are present in this season to not let it become the norm, but this is where we need to function right now. We look forward to a season where silence is not the theme but this one feels right. We are surrounded near and far by the most gracious family and friends. The consistent contact, in all its forms, is so dear. We appreciate it even if we do not respond.

 
In other news we have had record breaking heat – the highest so far has been 106! It’s hot, yes, but honestly, it’s really not that bad. It certainly makes Idahoians grumpy, but we would take this any day over humidity and mosquitos. Our sweet friends let us borrow their kayaks last weekend – here are some shots from beautiful Lake Pond Orielle

Mick