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.
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.
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.