Christmas Eve

I didn’t know what it was going to be like….Christmas Eve and Christmas Day not spent the way I’ve spent it for the last 26 years. Would it even feel like Christmas to not go to a Christmas Eve service, be at my parents’ house, eat corn beef buns, read the account of Jesus birth from the Bible, spend time opening presents from my family….could it still feel like Christmas without it being a typical Christmas?

I’ve been nervous about it since Lindsey and I planned our holiday. But, I was also excited…excited to share it all with Lindsey, excited to find a way to enjoy both families together….excited to try something new…excited to begin to create our own traditions.

We left our apartment yesterday morning at 4:45 in the morning. Our friend, Emily, drove us to the airport and somehow we fit 4 suitcases, one guitar, all of Bo’s stuff and Bo, plus the 3 of us girls in Emily’s little corrola. It was comical, and I was nervous and sleepy. You know all the attention the airport screening process has gotten in the media lately? I’ve been paying attention, and my already anxious mind didn’t waste any time obsessing about everything that could go wrong. In fact, last week I got down on the floor to play with my little charge’s big sister and discovered a reminder of what I’d soon be facing at the airport in the most unexpected place…

I sat down thinking we were going to play “airport”, pretending the planes were taking off and landing and the passengers were sitting at the terminal. Until I looked a little closer…

Ouch. I was like, really? Why do they have to put the guy with his arms up going through security in the kids play book? That’s like the worst part of going to the airport! (I just had to take a picture of the proof of  the constant reminders of my inability to escape my fear of going through security!) Yes, it’s an irrational fear, but who wants to feel like a criminal just because they want to travel somewhere? I surely don’t, and the thought of even more security measures made me feel like flying anywhere was the last mode of travel I’d like to use.

So as Lindsey and I entered the airport I felt only dread about the long lines, grumpy people, and the coming feeling that I was doing something wrong by trying to get on a plane. It seemed like it took forever, but we finally made it to the point where I stood and removed my shoes, jacket, sweater, cell phone, and took the laptop out of my backpack. I told myself that I had to get to Georgia, so I had to go through security too…

A bit extreme, huh? Well, I’ve always dealt with a super high level of anxiety. Most people don’t know what I go through every day. I quietly deal with my severe anxiety and Lindsey and I battle through the difficulties of it daily. I don’t usually talk about it to anyone but my closest friends because most people have a way of judging things, anything, that might be seen as a weakness or as different and using it as an excuse to discount others or to look down on them. But I’ve been thinking lately about how brave it really is to be different, to own one’s differences and imperfections, and to keep moving forward with joy and purpose. Do you know how rare this bravery is compared to the number of people in the world? Yet we all admire it when we see it showcased for what it really is. Consider Mary…

She was a teenager pledged to be married in the proper way, but ended up pregnant before that happened. Everyone judged her. She was experiencing something different than she knew, different than anyone around her, different than anything she could even comprehend, but she moved forward with joy and purpose. Knowing in her heart what the right thing was, knowing she had to be brave, and she was.

And they called His name, Jesus.

There are a million examples of this bravery in the Bible, in history, and even now all throughout the earth. There are millions of people too, that aren’t ready or able to embrace or pursue this kind of bravery in life. I want to be one who does pursue it, who does attempt to recognize the challenges I’ve been given to face in life and continues to pursue a life of purpose and joy anyway.

It’s Christmas Eve. I made it through security at the airport yesterday with no issues….none of my worst fears came true. I’m sitting here in Georgia enjoying this holiday, Lindsey’s family, and, of course, Lindsey herself. Yes, things are different, but I’m so thankful that I’m actually enjoying this change…finding beauty in the new, in the different. And as I think about the new year coming, I’m thinking about my deep desires to live with courage, to use my voice, and to live with vulnerability and hope.

I am so thankful that God used Mary in such a vulnerable special way to bring Jesus to earth as a baby (also special and vulnerable). I’m thankful I can enjoy such a special time spent celebrating Him and the wonderful gifts God has blessed me with. And because of that no matter where I am, how I feel, or what I do this Christmas….it still feels like christmas time to me….it still brings that magical wonderful feeling of joy to my heart.

Merry Christmas everybody. :)

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Italy and The Present

I want to go to Italy some day. And Greece. I love the Travel Channel because I can see some of the places I want to go, so it makes it easier to picture myself in them.

Isn’t it true that if you picture yourself attaining the things you desire then you’re more likely to attain them? :D

Today I have the day off of work. (and tomorrow as well) It would be a lot nicer, I think, if I hadn’t had a long frustrating dream about work just before I woke up this morning. I dreamed that I fell asleep on my day off and woke up at work. I was so confused in the dream, and no one was happy that I had been sound asleep at work. Makes no sense at all! Somehow no one understood that I had no idea how I got to work in the dream. Ha!

Thankfully Lindsey gets off work at 1:30 today, which is only 3 hours away. We’re going grocery shopping, and I enjoy grocery shopping when we can go together. :) We’ve got the rest of the day to relax, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it. I don’t feel like being by myself today. I am enjoying sitting by the Christmas tree though. I feel like this holiday season is rushing by. It always does, and it’s always a sad thing that it goes by so fast. Lindsey and I are celebrating our Christmas together this weekend and then we leave for Georgia next Thursday. We’ll spend 6 days in Georgia (3 with her family and 3 with mine), and then come back home to our dogs and our city. I know that we have many enjoyable moments still ahead of us to spend celebrating the holidays, but thinking about it right now just reminds me of how quickly it’s all going to be over! Thankfully we’re planning a vacation for sometime in January and a trip to see the Starnes family in February, so I’m reminding myself that I have so much to look forward to, but I still don’t like thinking about the end of things that I’ve been looking forward to. That’s the dilemma sometimes of planning wonderful things! At some point you have to think about the end of the wonder. I suppose that comforting one’s self with thoughts of new wonderful things can be helpful, but I think that embracing the “end”, finding peace despite the rushing by of time, and learning to be present in each moment instead of letting my mind constantly wander into the future can be and should be a skill set in which I become an expert.

I’m quite sure somewhere inside of me that being proficiently able to be present even in the “end” of a season will bring a richness to my life that I can’t know when I’m lost in the rush of time and thoughts about the ever approaching future. And that, my friends, is the goal of my heart and mind over the next 2 1/2 weeks. It is an adventure for my heart that I’m not sure how to measure, but I am sure it will be the beginning of a journey worth taking.

For now, the tree lights are glowing, their are some presents I can wrap, the dogs would like a walk, and even the sunshine is waiting to be enjoyed, so I will stop thinking about the future and give this “being present” thing a try.

Today is Tuesday. December 14th. (Happy Anniversary yesterday to my dear sister and brother-in-law!) It’s 61 degrees outside (warm, right?!). I can hear someone vacuuming the lobby outside our apartment. I feel hungry and a little sleepy and most of all, ready for this moment…

o Christmas tree

Well, we finally got the tree decorated as well as the entire rest of the house! Our apartment feels like a wonderfully festive space now. Last night we watched  a Charlie Brown Christmas while decorating the tree. Then we set up the nativity, strung up more lights over the fireplace and the sliding glass door in our dining area, and hung our stockings over the fireplace. Everything looks lovely. I’m kind of sad that we leave for Georgia in 2 weeks because I feel like Christmas will be over before I’m ready for it to be! For now, though, I’m just trying my best to soak up every moment.

How about this tree??

Our adventure in the forest cutting this down turned out to be a beautiful addition to our Christmas cheer at home.

I dreamed it was about to snow a lot here last night. I hope my dream comes true! There’s a chance we might get some on saturday, which would just be lovely of course.

On saturday Lindsey and I are planning an outing to see the newest Chronicles of Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I’m excited! I love the Chronicles of Narnia. There are also so many fun festive activities that we could check out this weekend, but it’s definitely going to depend on my energy level after working thursday and friday. I hate to miss any special activity that could contribute to a really fun holiday season! For example, last week I said we were going to the Parade of Lights. But, because of being exhausted and having a lot on my mind, Lindsey and I just decided to stay home and watch the parade on TV. Oh the joys of broadcasting! :) Needless to say, I didn’t get to experience the parade the way I wanted to or take pictures or anything, but it was worth it, I suppose, to keep my sanity in tact. :P

I’m hoping this weekend will at least include a little more Christmas shopping, a really good movie, and maybe even a relaxing dinner out together. :)

For now, I’m just going to enjoy the rest of my day off, enjoy taking care of ben for the next two days, and soak up every evening I get to enjoy with Lindsey. :) Sometimes I think that just being really present in the day and the moment is a really great way of living a better story with my life. It’s something I’m really not good at, and something I intend to keep practicing!

sleepy

I only got 3 something hours of sleep last night. I just couldn’t sleep. So eventually I got up and started doing dishes and cleaning the house. I finally stretched out on the couch at 6am (when my alarm was set to go off in the bedroom), intent on laying there for 5 minutes. Lindsey woke me up 30 minutes later and I had to rush to be ready for work on time. I just don’t understand why when I need to sleep I can’t and when I need to be awake I fall asleep.

I keep telling myself that I have the next 2 days off of work to sleep as much as I please. Hopefully that will be enough to make me feel somewhat rested again!

Yesterday Lindsey and I went with some friends to Pike National Forest to cut down a Christmas tree. Wow was that ever fun. When I was 8 years old and we lived in the Adirondack mountains, we went trekking through the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree, and this was a similar experience. Lindsey and I got a little lost in the woods, but we found a beautiful tree and the drive out there and back was so beautiful. I just love living in Colorado. It’s so beautiful. There are so many things to love about it :)

In other news, I took a bad cell phone picture of my hair cut on Saturday…

I still think it’s too short, but hey, doing something different and new is a great way to live a better story with my life. :)

bus riding

This morning I had to take the bus to work. It’s always an adventure when I take a new route (I’ve never taken the bus to work before). It’s like a million thoughts go through my head making the entire 45 minute trip like a suspense novel…..Was I listening properly to hear my stop called? Does my stop even exist? Maybe the route map was fooling me. Maybe it suddenly changed this morning at 6am, and I got on the bus at 6:25, so I wouldn’t have any idea of the new change. Maybe the bus driver will just randomly decide not to go by my stop. Which side of the road is my transfer bus on again? I hope all these people will get off soon, so I won’t have to give up the seat currently occupied by my 7 lb. dog all tucked in his little bag. Oh my gosh, is that my transfer bus coming down the street? I’m not even standing at the stop yet! Ok, on the transfer bus, just barely. Is this bus going in the right direction? I think I recognize that park over there. Ok, this is the right street. I wonder how long it’ll be till my stop? Oh my gosh, that’s my stop!! At that point I yank the cord and the “stop requested” sign glows red. I breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, when I get off and realize that I actually pulled the cord a block BEFORE my stop, I just have to shake my head and be glad I got anywhere at all. ;)

After I got off the bus this morning, I still had about 20 minutes of walking to do to get to work. My little travel companion, Bo, loved that part. Of course, he’s just glad he gets to come to work with me instead of having to sit at home with his brother by themselves all day. I, however, was worn out by the time we got here. I was walking so fast to make sure I made it on time and carrying a heavy back-pack. It was great to be outside though. The sun hadn’t come up yet and the breeze was wonderful. I would have been really cold had I not been walking like I had somewhere to be (cause I did have somewhere to be), but as it was it was really quite nice. I got to work feeling like I had already conquered a lot and it was only 7:30!

Hopefully the rest of the day will be rather quiet because I want to have at least a little energy for the parade of lights tonight. I’ve heard it’s a really fun parade, and I’m looking forward to the huge reindeer balloon float that I’ve been told comes right before Santa. Sounds like fun, huh? :D I’ll definitely take some pictures to share!

In other news, Lindsey and I both got hair cuts last night. Mine turned out to be shorter than I had expected, but everyone who’s seen it decidedly likes it, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign. :) I will try to post a decent pic of it at some point. What are you doing this weekend?