This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Open the box

So last weekend sucked. It was bad and it’s over.

Now it’s Wednesday. I made it to Wednesday – yeah me! The other days were ok. I could breathe and think. One thing at a time but progress is progess. Today was descent for most of the day, until 3pm. At 3pm I did not get any tragic news. There was no devastation or life altering messages. Just one that made me sad. And I stayed sad.

I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t a terrible message and it just meant re-working some plans. So why did I stay sad? I finished work, made diner and then left for my class. I don’t like to call it yoga class because that is NOT an accurate description. It is a full on fitness class in a sauna that they call yoga. I had a great class but at the end it was like my mind was playing a tape and I started to cry. The cool thing about this “yoga” class is that you all sweat so bad no one can tell that you were crying. I’ve done it many times.

I came home and I made a list. I wrote out all the things that have been very difficult or very hurtful since October 2017. I covered an entire page, line by line with my life that I watched from the tape in my mind. It occured to me, this is why your still sad. It has been one thing after another after another. So when I get sad about one thing I am not just sad about that one thing, I am sad about all of it.

It’s like sadness lives in a box and when I open the sad box it’s all there together because I haven’t been able to fully unpack the box yet. I think it’s the same with all my emotions. Life has not only had difficulty, but it has had incredible joy as well. When I open the happy box it has my kids, my accomplishments, my friends, my school, and my upendo. This is how I can be happy in one minute and sad in another. It depends on which box I have open. Sometimes you can close a box easily (happy often closes easier) and others are more difficult (sad is harder to close – especially with so much stuff in it).

Maybe one day, life will give me some time, and I will take time, to start to go through my sad box. There are some things that will live in that box forever. They are permanant fixtures. But not everything is and I need to work on those things, in my time. They are my boxes and I won’t rush through them. They are part of me now and I choose when to let them go and when to hold them close. Not everyone agrees with me on that, but the one who knows my heart, because He made it, He’s got me and He doesn’t rush.  He would like to slowly unpack with me when I am ready. I love that about Him.

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Adjust

Life hardly ever goes as we had planned it. Maybe we screwed it up or maybe things beyond our control altered the course. Either way, the course has altered; but have we?

A year ago I made plans based on where I thought I would be. I took a second job, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. There were perks to it. Later I applied, got accepted and started my Ph.D. I made financial decisions based on where I was at in life.

Life altered. I have been pretending it hasn’t. Pretending it’s still the same and I can continue the same way. I can’t. The supports I thought were going to be there, are not. We fail when we don’t adjust.

A driver has to turn and direct as the road curves or dips. I have been wanting to continue the same way as before because it was what I wanted, but I have to adjust to what is real and not what I wish things to be. I am in deep grief because I have to let go. I can not do it all or be it all. I left my second job and I will not be able to continue with my school. My school was more than just a degree. It was the hope and dream of the change I wanted to make in the world to help others. I have to let all of that go.

I am angry and I am hurt. I like moving forward but right now moving forward means to be here. To face my pain. To readjust to life and find my new path. Sometimes things have to die for new things to begin.We can’t keep pretending things are the same. They died. Nothing will be the same. What I thought I could achieve is not possible. I have to change my goals,  adjust my pace, and breathe. 10 seconds at a time.

How can I take on the world when I can barely get through 10 seconds?

Adjust.

 

Living in Leaps

I have always been a dreamer…big dreams. That’s never changed and never going to. It was built into my genetic code. The problem with big dreams is that they take great leaps and not every time you leap ends with a perfect landing.

I have been able to dream some big dreams and watch them become reality. It is exciting to see it all come together piece by piece and so affirming. Dreaming big is like living vulnerably. You don’t know if you will fall flat on your face. You can’t always take small steps because there would be too much time pass before it would be too late. Leaps are usually what are required.

So what happens when your leaps fail. You get the wind knocked out of you. You lie broken and bleeding on the concrete. Some stand around and scoff at the dreamer. Some want you back on your feet immediately. Get up and get at em!

That’s not possible. You have to tend to your wounds first. You have to examine yourself for where you got hurt and why. That can take time. That can be even more painful but necessary. Sometimes you bandaid your wound because it’s all you can do even though you know at some point it will require sutures.

You become afraid to leap again. Maybe even afraid to get up period. Why try again? It didn’t work last time. Why take another giant leap? Slow and cautious seems smarter. Less people get hurt going slow and cautious. Less people accomplish big things too.

I’ll get up when I decide it’s time. I’ll leap again when I decide it’s time. My calling hasn’t changed. My DNA remains the same.

Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I am not calculating. Evaluating and healing is a process. It’s not hardly ever as fast as anyone wants but forward is forward.

This morning I was told about a long time addict with serious crime issues. He overcame his addition and has changed his life. He was asked how he did it and he said “just make the next right decision.” So simple. When your knocked down, all you need to do is make the next right decision. Don’t focus on other peoples expectations, don’t expect more of yourself than you can do at the moment- just make the next right decision. Each one of those will take you to the place where you leap again.

I’m Strong

Yesterday I came home from a meeting and my younger son excitedly ran up to me to tell me that he beat his older brother at football. I asked him how it made him feel and he said, “strong.” Later in the day I went to my fitness class and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and a thought entered my mind, “I’m strong.”

Quite a while ago now, a counselor told me that it was important for my sons to feel strong, so let them beat you at wrestling or some physical things at times. Yesterday night at my class that was taken to another level for me for understanding.

I have not felt strong in a very long time. Yesterday I got a lot of work done, my house was clean, my school was done, and things felt like they were in order. I keep telling myself that it’s going to be ok, but yesterday I actually felt it. It was a great feeling.

And then there was today.

Today everything felt like it fell apart. I couldn’t keep up to work, the kids made messes, and I couldn’t even look at my school. A friend disclosed to me a personal violation, for a time I was concerned one of my students was in crisis and was worried for her safety, and I made some big personal decisions. So by 12:30pm, I broke down. I literally went back to my bed and just laid down because an anxiety attack hit so hard I didn’t know what else to do.

I felt so defeated. How could I go from feeling strong to not being able to move? I am still in my pajamas from this morning. But as the day comes to an end, I get why what the counselor told me to do with my son was so important. It is absolutely critical that at some moments we feel strong because there are so many when we don’t. How can I make it through the day if I never felt strong? At least by being able to feel it for a time, even if it is a short time, I know it’s there. Every day is different and being strong today looks much different than being strong on other days. Today being strong meant drawing my next breath, getting out of bed – twice, and meeting the bare minimum of the day. I don’t feel strong because today looks different than yesterday, but because of yesterday, I know that I am, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it.

I am still breathing. I am strong.

The 40’s

So this is it.

I’m watching the last minutes of my thirties run out. I’m ok with that.

They have been good and they have been not so good. I came to my favorite place in the world, Mexico City, so I can enter my fourties with all it’s sights, smells and sounds that make me feel like home. I get to have diner with my family. It’s a place I feel like I belong. The more confident I am in who I am, the more places I find where I fit. I just left my first residency for my PhD and I found that I fit there. I found people I connected with and instantly bonded with. I found people who want to change the world, just like I do.

The more I am happy with me, the less I care about the places that I don’t fit. It doesnt mean it never bothers me, but it bothers me less. I have enough difficult things anyways. I was talking with a friend and he said, Amanda you have been depressed for the last few months. I didn’t understand what he was talking about. Then I took some time to process and he’s right. It’s not that I am sad ALL the time but when I am sad I have been REALLY sad. It’s not that I give up, but it’s been harder to get back up and keep going. Who wants to admit that they are depressed. Who wants to put that out there for the world to make their judgments.

I will. Because people get depressed. Good people, strong people, people like me. It doesn’t mean I have to stay that way, and I won’t, but it means I am here now.  This wasn’t the easiest trip to pull off, but I knew I needed it. I didn’t realize how bad I needed it until I got here and after saying I was depressed, my friend said I was now glowing. He said he saw a smile that he hadn’t seen for a while. I laugh like I haven’t laughed for a while. He said it is evident that this is the place where I belong. I am not able to live here but I can come and recharge here. I don’t have my four favorite people here with me, and for that I am sad, but I needed to be here for me.

Tomorow I am going to Frida’s house. I say that like she’s my friend because I wish she was. She had so many horrible things happen to her in her life, she made tons of poor decisions. I wouldn’t hang some of her artwork on my wall but I admire them because she painted her pain. She lived life fully and was not ashamed of who she was or her story. She lived it. So I am going to sit in her garden and write in the place where she painted and the place where she died. I’m going to start my 40’s in the state that I am and I am going to do the very best with it that I can. I will make mistakes and I will get back up.

It might be getting off to a slow start but I’m going to watch three of my kids graduate in my 40’s. I’m going to finish my PhD in my 40’s. The research is going to make a difference in my 40’s. I will change, the world will change, and I will continue to get better; in my 40’s. I’m writing my story.

Following my heart

I am 39 years old, 40 in 12 days to be precise. When I was a child I always wanted to learn to play the piano. It has such a beautiful sound and I could imagine those sounds being created from my fingertips. I was not given that opportunity as a child so as an adult I have now gotten a piano for my children but I also have a teacher and am learning to play. I did not start easy. I told my teacher I wanted to learn Fur Elise, but not the childrens version; the proper three page long, full Beethoven style. It was ambitious but it’s my favorite piano song.

I have almost all of it memorized now and when I play, I can create the sounds that Beethoven composed so many years ago – with the exception of the non-memorized parts. I realized when practicing today that as long as I follow my heart I play flawlessly. When I start to lose focus and think about the notes or even about life I stumble and falter. Today I told myself to stop the words in my head and hear my heart. And I sat at my piano and cried.

Someone I love dearly has repeatedly told me to follow my heart but I have rejected that advise based on Jeremiah 17:9 which says that the heart is deceitful. I refused to listen, but I was wrong. I follow Celtic Christian Tradition on facebook and am continuing to learn about Celtic Christianity. They have a post that talks about the fact that we can not actually be lost. I have felt lost so many times. Their point is that we are not lost, we are just covered over by the labels of the world, by stress, pressure, expectations etc. We are actually there, underneath it all, who we were created to be. We just need to unbury ourselves and we are there.

This morning as I felt so strongly that I was to follow my heart I looked up Jeremiah 17. I read the WHOLE chapter. In verse 10 it says that God searches the heart and then rewards based on our deeds. I believe this means our deeds are connected to our heart and it means there is good in our heart – there also can be evil, as I have witnessed in my life, but it does not have to be. The heart is not ALWAYS deceitful. We have a Christain adage that when you accept Christ, He is allowed to live in your heart. Jesus is my saviour and I will follow Him all my days. I will make mistakes, I will mess up but HE LIVES IN MY HEART.

His voice can, will and does speak from my heart. In accordance with His word in the Bible, I will follow my heart.

Times

I wanted to write days ago because days ago was the one year anniversary of when everything started, but I was unable because another family crisis demanded my attention. One year ago a beautiful young girl ended her life for reasons that are tragic in that they should not be the cause of an end of life or lives. The way she chose to do that has left trauma for others more than just feeling her loss.  I had to stop as much in my life as I could because I started to fall apart. I just didn’t know it was the beginning of a series of events that could continue to tear apart pieces of me.

It’s been a long year, it’s been a full year, good and bad. Time always ticks on with no regard for our feelings or state of being. Time refuses to stop. There has been loss upon loss this year and my heart has not had time to recover before the next wave washed over me. There is a time to be sad. I have had many of those times and the thing I am most grateful for are my friends and family who have walked with me, sat with me, cried with me, spoken affirmative words over me and loved me in ways I desperately needed.

There are also times to push through pain and move. After each wave there should be a time of reflection on what could life look like now and what do I need to do to make it like that. You start to build and of course have to adjust your plans often. The waves will never stop as long as your breathing. Some are bigger than others and some have more time in between. There have been so many this past year that at times I have felt like I am drowning but by God’s amazing grace I somehow keep finding breath.