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

My 6 Word Memoir

This past friday I attended a training sesson and one option was to give students an assignment to write a 6 word memoir. At first I didn’t really understand this but if you google six word memior you will see some fantastic things.

It made me think about mine. Of all the words in existance what how could I sum up my entire life in 6 words? Well… I got it, or what I aspire it to be.

She overcame and changed the world.

For me this encompasses the garbage life has brought me that I have had to deal with, and deal with it I am. But it also captures that I am more than just that, that I am going to make a difference. I try right now with every oportunity that avails itself to me – big or small. I have bigger dreams than what I have achieved so far and I know that I can accomplish them. I still don’t have exactly defined parameters on it or a precise road map, but I don’t need those.  Those details will come in time, for now I just keep moving forward every day.

I have felt injustice and with everything in me I will seek to end it in any form that is shows its ugly face. It has impacted me but it does not define me. It motivates me to make the world better.

It’s coming. I don’t even know what “it” is but I am excited for what the future is bringing because I am up for whatever challenges it holds. I’m going to change the world.


I finished it.

Shake Hands With the Devil was a library book and I am going to pay a lot of fines because it took me so long to get through it. Part of that was busyness but even more was just processing the emotional weight you carry to know in greater detail the horrors humans have done to each other, but we need to know. Especially since these horrors continue.

I think that’s one of the worst parts of reading it, is knowing that conflict is not over. The killing has moved to different parts of the world, but it hasn’t stopped. Wait, I was wrong; the worst is that the international community still doesn’t care that much more than we did before when we ignored the calls to prevent the slaughter, when the killing was happening, and the support needed afterward. Dallaire quotes Michael Ignatieff and writes “risk-free warfare presumes that our lives matter more than those we are intervening to save.” Maybe that’s why we still don’t care the way we should – maybe we really do think our lives matter more than those in developing countries. We were sure upset when a cathedral burnt down, and rally when there is a loss of life in Europe, but we change the channel when the stories are about Africans or Syrians or Rohingyas.

Dallaire himself continues, “we have fallen back on the yardstick of national self-interest to measure which portions of the planet we allow ourselves to be concerned about.” Why do we do this? How entitled do we deeply believe ourselves to be to hold our lives in higher value? Humanity is so selfish in so many ways.

I bought a bracelet from Epimonia. It is made with the jackets of refugees fleeing conflict. I am going to wear it every day to remind myself that people around the world are not safe and I will not accept a safe and unchallenging life until they have one too. ONE has a saying “no one is equal until we are all equal.”

I plan to use my voice, my resources, my talents, and even my research to fight for the fundamental rights that belong to every living human – the right to value, which is encapsulated but the universal declaration of human rights. It astounds me that the world’s governing body could articulate these onto paper but fails to uphold them by keeping leaders accountable for their violations. We have to do better.

I planned to just get through that book to know more about the history of this magnificent country I had the honor of visiting one year ago, but it has turned into so much more. I downloaded research articles and bought four more books today that are going to broaden and deepen my knowledge in ways that I want to use in the future. The stories of people move me deeply. It is not the color of my skin that makes me want to have an impact, as though we in the west know better and can solve all problems, but it is the content of my heart that feels the pain and hears the cries of those who suffer. They are real to me.

I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I am honored to be on the journey.

Previous generations didn’t talk about things. Sex and feelings are the top two that I see that were taboo. That void has resulted in misunderstanding, missing out, hurt, an inability to navigate relationships, and mental heath issues. Since these conversations were never embarked upon, we don’t know how to have them or start them.

I’m proud of my generation for wanting something different, something more. We’re not sure how to do it so we screw it up all the time but at least we’re trying and have opened the way for younger generations to take it further and maybe get it right.

I have talked with my children about my passion for this next stage of my life to be encapsulated but the Swahili word – Nakuona. It means I see you. People need to feel seen. This morning my youngest son said “mom, yesterday the cat ran away from me and my sister didn’t want to play and I felt unseen” oh my heart lept for joy. He’s getting it and I have taught him that vocabulary for his feelings. Brene Brown uses the term “rumble” for engaging in a difficult conversation. She also uses “the story I am telling myself” and I am really trying to make those part of my vocabulary.

It’s like we now have our own language between us so we can communicate our feelings. We can work through things. I explained to him that the cat ran away because he was angry and stomping around so that scared the cat. We could then talk about how to be angry and not scare others – something that we can learn together because I suck at that.

We need to give each other words. There is power in words. There is a freedom when I can speak my truth. It’s hard. Telling someone that I had been abused was hard but I found the words and it freed me. I can’t heal if I am silent. I am excited that I have private languages with people in my life. My kids especially but even my best friend and I can text one letter to each other and it means a whole lot of things that we both understand. There are lots of languages I can’t speak, but if your willing to teach me I would love to learn yours and I will do my best to teach you mine. It is then that I see you. Nakuona

Eshet Chayil

It is amazing how someone you have never met can have such a profound impact on your life. Rachel Held Evans gets to party with Jesus now and I feel like I lost a friend. Her writing encapsulated many, especially women, who struggled with their faith, doubt, and the church. She helped us to find hope, to know that we were not alone in the struggle, and to not give up.

I remember reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood and it was like it connected to my soul, the very core of my being. She helped me see scripture in a new way that made me feel more confident in who I was, how I was created, and how I fit with the body of Christ. I learned from her that the “Proverbs 31 woman” wasn’t a list of expectations of who I am to be. Growing up,  Christian women were compared to that list and I always felt that I never measured up. Her research liberated me from those expectations and allowed me to celebrate all my victories – Eshet Chayil. I printed those words and they hang on my wall to remind me that I AM a woman of valor.

Several months ago I picked up her newest book Inspired and my children and I have been reading it slowly during our devotions. It has sparked amazing conversations about the Bible and its stories.  Her faith journey resonates with so many because it’s what so many of us have experienced. She talks about how unacceptable it has been to ask question or challenge theological beliefs but we ALL have them. She makes it ok to have questions and still hold your faith – something that was not permitted before. If you questioned then you were not a believer and if you were a believer then you didn’t question.

This is a huge loss to the world. I don’t understand God’s soverignty, what He allows and what He doesn’t. In this instance, like many others in my life, I will allow Him to be God and accept that I will not understand until I get to be with Him. I will also allow Him to be my comforter and pray comfort for Rachel’s family and friends in this very challenging time of loss.

Going somewhere

I have never liked flying. I still don’t really, but it’s been too long since I was last on a plane. I have a short business trip and even though I am not leaving the country I’m happy to be on a plane. Again, I’m not a fan of flying but it means I am going somewhere. I really like to be going somewhere.

There have been a lot of changes in life the last year and they are not finished yet. It takes time to process and adjust to change and I have just wanted to move ahead. This week will be good to have time to process. Soon I will only have to travel with one laptop not two. I’m looking forward to that but there is a grief with letting go. It’s easier when you have something to grab onto – maybe thats why people have rebound relationships so often.

A wise friend has encouraged me that when people ask where I am going to – to tell them that I am going to me. I’m going to take time. It’s been much needed time but taking time is not comfortable to me. I know it’s necessary and healthy.

I’m staring into a blank canvas and I get to decide what to paint. I already know my colors but I don’t know exactly what is going to appear. I’m not an artist but I believe they take time to conceptualize before they start. This is my conceptualization and preparation time.

I’ll take it and when the time is right I’m going somewhere.

I’m Brave and I Won

Gosh, I love Brene Brown.

She makes me feel courageous. She gives me the inspiration to be brave, the permission to fail, and the drive to live vulnerably. I just watched her Netflix special (WATCH IT). I had been counting the days until it was live and today was the day, and my heart needed it. I have been wrestling with my vulnerability, as you do when you are hurt and rejected, but vulnerability is how I live and breathe. I don’t want to be any other way.

She says that daring greatly is having the courage to show up when you don’t know the outcome. I have dared greatly and it has not paid off in the hoped-for outcome. I chose to love and then love again and both of those relationships ended with my heart being shattered. I was very aware they were both high risk, but if they had worked out it would have been worth it.

But neither worked out so does that mean I failed? Yeah, kind of. The relationships certainly failed. But Brene tells a story about how winning isn’t always about being first to the finish line. Sometimes winning is to get on the blocks and get wet. So I won. I showed up and I chose to love, not knowing the outcome. She says that you can’t let yourself be loved if you don’t let yourself be seen. I put myself out there and I was me, good and bad, and I let myself be seen. That’s winning no matter what the other person chose. I want to be a person who sees and is seen. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt – because it SURE AS HELL DOES. Every single day. You can’t be vulnerable and avoid pain.

I am terrified to get into a relationship again. It is true that I don’t need a man, but that’s different than being closed off to it. The story I tell myself (you’ll get that line if you watch the show) is that I should have known better, I should have been smarter than to love the way I did. There were signs things wouldn’t work out and I ignored them. I realized today though that there will always be “signs” because nothing and no one is perfect. This doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to everything, but it means I am watching me talk myself out of a relationship before it’s even begun because I am scared.

I don’t want to hurt again, especially not like this, but I don’t ever want to live in a castle. Vulnerability is our path back to each other – Brene. I quit my job and I am looking for what is next in my life. I have no idea what that is because I have applied to about 14 other opportunities and nothing is happening yet, but whatever it is, is going to be in the direction of seeing people. I started working on ideas and I have given my vision for the next stage of my life the name Nakuona because in Swahili it means “I see you.”

I am going to connect with people and show them that it’s good to be brave, that vulnerability is strength and it’s how we will all heal together.

Put Your Hard Shoes On

I am in an interesting place. It’s a place of opportunity, a place of seeking, a place of dreaming but also grief, loss, change, uncertainty, and pain. In this place I am continuing to read Dallaire’s, Shake Hands with the Devil, but I needed a counter balance and so I started Philip Yancey’s, Where’s God When it Hurts?

Sometimes life takes you off-balance, or the course as you thought it would be, so I am looking for direction towards my specific purpose. Getting here has taken some very hard decisions, but I refuse to live a life of mediocraty. I want more, I want to do more and to be more, because I know I am capable and worth it. I will not settle for anything less anymore. It’s my time. But it’s hard and painful and slower than I would like it to be.

I get stronger. Every. Single. Day.

But, there are still days when I doubt I will make it, I worry and I am afraid. Yancey writes about a Dr. who was a pastoral counselor who was asked how he cures his patients of fear and he said, “I don’t. Everything that’s worthwhile in life is scary. Choosing a school, choosing a career, getting married, having kids – all those things are scary. If it is not fearful, it is not worthwhile,” (emphasis mine).

Wow – that’s a bold statement and way to live, and it’s how I want to live, because to me any other way is not actually living – it is existing. I dont want to exist, I want adventure, I want to make a difference. I do not seek recognition while I am here but I want the world to notice when I am gone, because what I did and how I lived my life mattered. I read advice written to a young man and it encouraged him to choose a girl who gave him the most colorful life imaginable. I hope I do that or have done that. I hope as I have been in your life that I help to open up the opportunity for you to live. I can’t make you do it but I hope I show you what living really is. How scary and difficult and painful and WORTH IT ALL.

You will make the choice for you. I have made mine. I have no idea what the future has in store. I don’t know which of the opportunties will open for me but I knew I had to let go in order to move forward. So I did and I am mid freefall, and I’m ok.

I take Irish dance now. It is amazing. The movement, the music, it grounds me. It makes me feel like I know who I am. I am Irish. We are strong. We take on giants. We do things that we are afraid of, we challenge and fight the good fight. We don’t ever give up.

Every week I am reminded of this, everytime I put on my hard shoes. Erin Go Bragh