FIX

Dear Strong Woman,

How many promises to yourself have you broken?

I’ve set a few goals for myself.  I’m talking the serious from x to y by when, reversely-engineered, this-IS-happening kind of goals. I have specific action steps, scheduled time to take action on said steps, and a compelling vision driving it all.

And yet, I’m slacking.

Not stalling.  Not backsliding. Just…taking…a little more time…than originally planned.

While I sit here and remind myself  that “baby steps are still steps” and “slow progress is better than no progress”…I can’t tell if I’m giving myself grace or giving in to excuses.

How do you know when to call bullshit on yourself?

Most of the time, my gut tells me exactly when that is.  I know the answer by a feeling, before I can even put words to that feeling.  It’s that still small voice.  That tugged upon heart-string.  That potential ping of regret.

But what if you feel none of that?  What if your go-to bullshit meter isn’t sounding the alarm here?  Is it broken?

Or does the lack of alarm set off a bigger siren?

Example #1:
While I’ve scheduled in time on my calendar to work towards these goals, your girl is t-i-r-e-d.  I set alarms.  I read my vision statements at night.  I tell myself all the “I AM” statements to get me pumped about taking an action other than pressing snooze. But when the time comes for me to wake up and turn those dreams into reality, I often pull a solid Rosa Parks:

“Nah.”

I literally just don’t feel like it. This results in the back-and-forth finger-shaking in my head where things like “Discipline is showing up even when you don’t feel like it” and “Listen to your body. Learn to rest, not to quit” try to duke it out for which is the right mantra in this moment…and I’m pretty much over the Pinterest Quote war going on in my head.

I mean, which is it?

Example #2:
Yesterday.  Intention was to workout before work due to an evening work event.  Reality was waking up so late that I had to forego hair washing. (As one does.) But, upside! I find out I don’t have to stay for the entire work event, leaving me time to actually get that missed workout in.  Intention was to do just that.  Reality was getting invited to watch Anders serve as a test patient for his brother’s upcoming physical exam evaluation.  To be crystal clear: big brother agreed to let little brother poke and prod him for an hour.  Can you not see the opportunity for childhood retribution here?  Can you see why I didn’t decline the opportunity to observe? How often to moments like this happen? (Hopefully once more since I failed to make popcorn.)

Time spent with family is worth every second, right?  Was this merely a perfectly opportune excuse, or an appropriate hall pass for me to skip doing the thing I said I was going to do?

This constant battle over what’s right or wrong…I think I finally came up with an answer.

I. Don’t. Know.

I don’t know…and that’s okay.

I don’t need to know the answer.

“But wait! Yes, you do! How else are you going to figure out what’s wrong?”  Perhaps that’s your question. It was the question a previous me not only asked, but clung to like those spiderwebs you accidentally walk through.

I needed to know so that I would know what to fix.

But friends, I ask you:
What if there is nothing to fix?

What if instead of focusing on getting this whole thing “right” we focused on making the next right move in the moment at hand?

A plan is GREAT.  (I’ve got all the planners to prove it!) Make them. Follow them. They’ll keep you facing due north.

But don’t be so focused on getting to your destination that you fail to take in your surroundings.  Embrace the journey, even if it isn’t the most efficient path.  Take the scenic route.  Lean into the curves of the pavement.

It’s the winding backroads where our strength story is born.

NOTE TO SELF

I did a thing.

In an effort to raise my vibration around writing, I decided to surround myself with some like-minded souls who are also working on creating art with their words.  Thanks to Meetup, I found myself braving D.C. traffic this past Tuesday night after work to sit on a couch with strangers, in a stranger’s home, hoping to bring new energy to my craft.  

It was beautiful.

We did a handful of writing exercises that resulted in a momentum and flow I haven’t felt in a while.  One of those exercises was to write a letter to yourself from a future version of yourself.  Below is word-for-word what came out of the tip of my pen – which of course naturally started with my usual salutation – unedited and perfectly raw.  My favorite part? As I wrote the final two words, our host and timekeeper for this exercise said those same two words out loud.

It’s those little idiosyncrasies when the Universe is nodding at me, confirming that I am right where I need to be.

Sharing this in honor of the magic that comes from strangers uniting to create something beautiful.  I hope that magic finds it’s way to you, or better yet, that you go out and create it for yourself.

As my future self will tell you, act as if it has already been done.

Thank you for being here.

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Dear Strong Woman,

Everything you can dream you can create.

Just know that it has already been decided.  Just know that yes, that small voice telling you to keep going is right…and it’s not your mother.

It’s you.

Your voice matters.  Your story matters. Not just because it is yours, but because it is simultaneously ours.

We belong to each other, and our stories, collectively, are what make for a beautiful light in a sometimes dark world.

So don’t you stop shining.
Don’t you stop writing.
Don’t you stop letting you voice be heard.

GET LOUD. Do you hear me? Turn up the volume and share what is true.  Because what is true for you may very well be true for others.

How will you ever know if you remain small and silent?

You were made for more.
You were placed in this world that is missing something because it is your job to create it.

For you.
For me.
For us.

Be our lighthouse. Blind out the dark with your brightness.  Be the light-worker you are called to be.

Setting yourself free will set others free in the process.

IT’S ALL CONNECTED.
IT ALL MATTERS.

And quite frankly…

          it’s time.

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HOMECOMING

Dear Strong Woman,

Love is a verb.

Some families make a big to-do over a child returning home. Grand outings. A house full of people. A fridge full of favorite foods. Hugs with extra squeezes and eyes that smile as much if not more than the mouth that shares the face.

But some show their excitement differently.

Maybe they come out to greet you upon arrival, but it’s possible it’s only because they were already outside tending to the garden. Maybe you go out for a meal, but it’s more so to avoid having to cook something rather than to celebrate being together.  Maybe you check out a local event, but maybe you stay in and watch a movie instead, laughing over the lingering smell of burnt popcorn as someone attempted to pop a bag that expired back in 2009. (Why do we even have this?!)

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You’re handed a towel to dry dishes or a basket of laundry to put away like it’s a normal occurrence. Hugs are fierce, but brief because there are things to do, and you fit back into that flow as if you never left. Never a question of “What do you want to do while you’re in town?” but more so “This is what we have on the schedule this weekend.” Never knowing if you’re going to be clocking times for a swim meet or grocery shopping or moving furniture or (attempting to) paint momma’s toenails.

This is my family, and I love them for it, and despite living hundreds of miles away and coming back to visit way less often than I would like, it never feels like I’ve missed a beat. I am not treated like someone special, but rather appreciated for the fact that now there is an extra set of hands available to help with something.   And when you’re not around for the little things anymore, these opportunities to be of service to the day-to-day tasks are truly treasured moments.

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Perhaps it’s the introvert in me who prefers to blend in rather than be seen, but it’s this kind of environment that allows me to truly exhale and be myself. It’s in this setting where I can rock unwashed hair and a pimply face with ease like it’s the newest trend from New York Fashion Week.  It is here where no one will bat an eyelash if I open a bag of salt and vinegar chips right before dinner because they will all help me finish off said bag without asking.

It is here where the judgement isn’t. (And sometimes where the bra isn’t, either.)

In our home, we might not say “I love you” all that much…

but we sure as hell show it.

PRESSURE

Dear Strong Woman,

 

Take the pressure off.

 

I love to write.  It is where I feel most like myself, almost like a tool of recalibration to get me back to me.

 

But pressure is a total killjoy.

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Because I love writing so much, I programmed a writing block into my calendar so that I would sit down and do it every morning.

 

One month later, I have yet to sit down and actually do it.

 

In fact, the more times I didn’t sit down during my scheduled writing block, the more pressure I felt to do it…and the less I even wanted to bother.  It was almost laughable.  To think that I have this dream of being a writer, and yet I wouldn’t write?!

 

Enter negative self talk.

Enter doubt.

 

Enter FEAR.

 

I started calling bullshit on myself.  I started thinking that I was so full of shit for even dreaming that dream was possible. All because I wasn’t sitting down for my scheduling writing appointment.

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It took me a little while to realize this…but I had turned it into…*gulp*…work.  In my head, I was so attached to the outcome of seeing page after dated page of my handwriting, even more so that what my hand had written on those pages.

 

The pressure made it feel like a chore.

This thing I love…I was growing to hate.

 

So I let go of the outcome.  I deleted it from my calendar.  I decided my only rule for writing was to do so when I felt so called.

 

In the morning.

Post-workout.

In the middle of running errands.

A random Tuesday.

 

Whenever.

 

No requirements for length, full sentences, complete thoughts, or that it would evolve into a blog post (as this one did).

 

Just writing.

Just for me.

Just like I used to do.

 

And wouldn’t you know it…here I am.  Just me and my thoughts spilling out onto paper once again.

 

Oh, sweet release.

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It’s truly amazing what is possible once you let go of your expectations.

 

At some point, you have to detach from what you think should happen and live in what is happening.

 

So I ask you, Strong Woman, to stop being the heartbreaker of your own heart.

 

Whatever it is…just let it be.

PRESENT

Dear Strong Woman,

Finally, some quiet time to think.

It’s been a blur of a week – a true holiDAZE – but I’ve consciously made an effort to be 100% present wherever I am. There were a few times around family where I found myself lost in the scroll on my phone and it felt… icky.

Thankfully I can count those moments on one hand. Progress.

Now I find myself sitting in a quiet house that has been bustling with activity the past few days. It’s as if we both needed the time to think, breathe, and recalibrate.

I swear I can hear it exhaling.

(Or maybe that’s my pup snoring.)

Either way, the moment called for me to write.

I’m always so thankful and appreciative for the holiday break, but about halfway through I get pretty down about how fast it’s going. In the past that frustration came from the optimistic to-do list I had planned for myself because honestly, who are we kidding!?

There are no breaks… only catch-up time.

But now, despite still having a to-do list in hand, I’m more saddened by how fast the moments seem to pass because of what’s happening in those moments. Time with loved ones. Of all the gifts given this holiday season, that is the most precious. That is what will stay with you as the days, months, and years pass by.

Not all gifts come wrapped in pretty bows and shiny packaging.

(Or with a gift receipt.)

Embrace the space between what you had planned to happen and what is happening right now.

Being present is the real present.