you don't need to live there

IMG_3103Tuesday was an off day. It was just weird. And truthfully, there was no reason for those feelings. I have so many good things on the horizon. Like a conference in Chicago [tomorrow!], a flight to San Francisco on Friday to head on to Australia; a trip we've been planning for over a year now.

And we’re finally able to do it. I am so excited, truly.

It was also one of those perfect Fall days. It was glorious really. I had a morning all to myself to write and cook and clean.

Can you see my hesitation to be honest when folks asked, “How are you?! Aren’t you SO excited?”

Yes, yes I am. I feel abundantly blessed and completely undeserving. But if you leaned a little closer and really had the time to sit and stay a while, I would have said, “I feel a little insecure today. And I don’t really know why.”

I would’ve told you I felt like a bad friend, like maybe folks were going to desert me. I felt like I was back in elementary school and the only one not invited to Susie’s birthday.

I would have told you a complete stranger asking about Chinese food was the sweetest interaction I had all day.

I'll explain.

Two women were asking another lady if there was a Chinese restaurant close by. They were so cute and sweet and so excited to share a meal together. I jumped in and provided another option - a sushi place at the other end, since Chinese food was nowhere to be found.

I quickly apologized for being nosey and interrupting. As I clearly eavesdropped on their conversation while walking by. Something I NEVER do.........

The lady asking looked at me with bright eyes and a warm grin, “What? NO! You are PERFECT. And we just so appreciate you for it!”

Perfect? Me?

I know she wasn’t really saying that to me, rather to the information I provided but for some strange reason, it was exactly, EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that moment on that day.

Because if I am being honest, on that perfect, blue sky, sunny day I felt like I was losing, like maybe I was failing. I felt so small and insecure.

I felt like old wounds, memories from the past were creeping to the surface and seeping into my day and trying to steal all the joy. They were sneaking in and making me believe things that weren’t true.

Have you had that happen, friend?

We heal from past bruises but I’m not sure if we ever really forget them.

Like, I'll never forget how my best friend from first to third grade picked on me daily. And how I just wanted her to like me so bad that I took it. I took the mean words and awful looks because being beside her, having someone to play with at recess, was better than being alone.

I can’t forget that time in the bathroom. How the girls I spent most of my time with were talking about me. I put my feet up in the stall and pretended I wasn’t there so I could hear those awful, mean words.

I’ll never forget being told, “Yeah, I know we were friends yesterday and the day before. But I have a new best friend now."

Over and over again.

I know, out loud, this might seem foolish and silly. You might be thinking, “That was so long ago. Kids are mean. Get over it.”

And I don't say these things to have you join a pity party with me. As painful as those moments were I am fully aware some folks had it way harder. My heart aches for those stories.

And I am grateful for what those moments taught me. You better believe I have a zero tolerance for bullying and unkind words and will tell you about that.

I am grateful I notice the person standing by themselves or hiding by a wall at a party. My husband giggles at the way I smile at people when they walk into public spaces, like a coffee shop or gym, it's not even my home.

But something in me wants that person to feel like they are welcome here.

The truth is, when we dig real deep to those parts of our insides, the ones we don’t always want to see, we realize so many of our insecurities in the now, are a result of those times long ago.

In so many ways, I am still that little girl begging for other people’s approval. I still want to belong, be accepted just as I am and fear so much that a friend will find someone better.

And Tuesday, for reasons unknown to me, felt like that.

But Wednesday feels a heck of a lot brighter.

So maybe you needed to hear its okay if today’s weird. Maybe, you needed to hear – you are more than who you've been.

You are more than what’s happened to you.

And despite our culture shouting, just get over it – pull your boot straps up and keep on trucking. Sometimes, all we need is to feel the muck and sit in it for a little.

We don't have to live there. But we do need to visit once in a while.

Sometimes we need to hear we’re perfectly enough just as we are. We don’t need an upgrade or filter or shinier model.

You’re winning dear one, even if you feel like a total failure on a Tuesday. And those things that happened to you – it’s okay if you aren’t over it. It’s okay if you're still working on it. You take your time friend. You take all the time you need.

I’ll be here waiting on the other side.


Why I Write :: Part 1

IMG_2803 I won a D.A.R.E writing competition in the 4th grade.

We had just spent the whole year learning about drugs and alcohol and were asked to write a letter to a "friend" struggling with a substance abuse problem. 

About anytime anyone sipped a beer during that year I'd be on their case. Which to someone who does not have a problem could be a wee bit annoying. 

"You sure you want to do that Dad?"

I'd be nearly standing over you reciting statistics and facts, while your patient, loving self would just smile, listen to me sweetly and take another sip once I got off my soapbox.

Sorry pops.

I'll never forget when my teacher told me that my letter [that I admit, I worked really, really hard on] had been picked and she wanted me to read it in front of the entire 4th grade class. A local police officer handed me a microphone while a bunch of kids sat cross legged on a carpet made of blue, red and yellow squares.

The boys fidgeted while the girls sat in lines braiding each others hair.

It was as if I had won the lotto.

It wasn't the fact I got picked and was asked to read. That part actually made me pretty nervous. Elementary school was full of awkward, hurtful moments. Anyone else?

What mattered more was that someone thought I had something that should be shared. Someone told me, "You are a good writer."

And still to this day, nearly 18 years later, it sticks. I remember that moment as if it were right now; typing on these keys, just returned from yoga, sipping my coffee and getting a second helping of oatmeal bake.

Those moments stick y'all. Those moments of feeling all filled up. Like maybe you're flying and standing on solid ground all at once.

They stick to the core of who we are and what we're made of.

Some moments are good, we hold on tight and grip them with all our strength. Moments like riding in the car with my mom, telling her that I thought Grandma should live with us instead of that big building full of people she doesn't know. I didn't know it then, but I look back now knowing full well my life changed drastically for the better.

There are those other moments that stick and we'd like to see them go. We'd gladly take a giant eraser and get rid of the parts that make us cringe or ache.

Regardless of being good or bad, or if we even dare to remember - each one shapes us. Each one is part of a map, drawing in detail where we've been and where we might want to go. They are a reminder of home, of truth, of where we get filled up.

Writing is my chance to come home. It's my sacred spot. It's my surrender when I have a hundred stories floating around my head and I have to put them down. It's my challenge when I get stuck and think I have nothing to say.

You always have something to say. Even the days you feel completely ordinary and simple. When it feels like life is on repeat. You still have things to say.

I imagine this blank white space as a dear friend, "How are you? What did you learn this week? What are you proud of? What are you willing to let go of? Tell me about the best cup of coffee you had."

You have a gift, that when shared, makes you happy. There are days we forget what it is and our feet are confused where to land. But think back, be it yesterday or 15 years ago, when you felt full and purposeful. When you felt like you were living out loud. Write down what you were doing, who you were with, where you were and how it all made you feel.

The sweetest thing I've found is that circumstance and age and location never have to dictate joy. That fullness we get to keep and carry with us, if we choose.

So I write. I keep on writing. Even when I don't know what to say. Because I know it fuels me and reminds me of where it all began, when I was nine years old and heard, "Maeve, you are a good writer."

And I don't say that toot my horn. I don't say that I've arrived. Because most days, if I am being honest, I don't think I'm a very good writer. I forget when you should use a comma or semicolon. I mix up there, their and they're. [Have I left any out?!?] I worry my words are way too emotional and think, "Do folks know I am silly? Do they think I take life and myself way too seriously all the time?"

But that attitude is paralyzing folks. That attitude is what took me 5 years to start a blog.

So I encourage you to think back. I encourage you to ask yourself the question - what can  I share? And if you can't answer that question [it's okay] ask someone who can.

Chances are, the things you are good at bring you a lot of joy. And that joy brings other people a lot of joy. And Lord knows, we always need more joy.

So start dear one, start right where you are - practice it, fight through it, get messy, start over, and do it all again.


p.s. Tell me, why do you write?