What a difference a sunflower seed makes

So I’m on my 4th day of a Candida cleanse diet. You can check out what that means here (http://www.thecandidadiet.com/). This is not easy, people, but I’m doing it to increase the quality of my healthy. For years I’ve had a run down immune system, adrenal system, thyroid system, and, well, just a run down body! I was put on thyroid meds several months ago, and I’ve seen a huge improvement in the amount of energy I have on a day to do day basis.

You can’t ever imagine what a difference energy makes in living a life filled with quality unless you’ve experienced the day after day struggle of not wanting to move a lot. So thankful for thyroid replacement therapy!!

Anyhow, I’m still experiencing some bothersome symptoms (such as low blood sugar bouts and skin issues), and I continue to try as many different things as I can to help my body get to a healthier, less stressed out place. Enter the Candida cleanse diet! This diet is all about starving yeast populations out of the human system in order to improve it’s all around health and return the intestines to the right balance of good bacteria.

Basically this means I get no sugar, no starches, no dairy, no fruit. Nothing but meat, eggs, and a dang lot of green vegetables with some brown rice and quinoa on the side. Now, I’m already allergic to wheat and gluten, so this forces my diet to be pretty darn healthy. I don’t eat many carbs (or much “normal” food, since it all seems to contain wheat); my normal diet consists of a lot of protien, vegetables, and fruit with some brown rice and quinoa on the side. However, this diet has made my already “restrictive” diet look like an absolute cornucopia of deliciousness!! O.M.G.

Seriously, I know that the 3 weeks of torture (and I loooove vegetables, people, but eating celery sticks with a little almond butter spread on top for breakfast is taking it a bit far!) that I’m putting myself through is going to be worth it in the end if it can help my body function better. But wow….I miss so many foods right now that I could shed a tear! :P

It’s made me think about the fact that I really am determined to include health and wellness in my quality over quantity living. I’ve already come so far; if I could take a snapshot of myself and my health 5 plus years ago and put it next to the same shots from now, you’d be shocked! I’m seriously proud of myself! And being proud of one’s self is a quality feeling/state-of-mind to experience.

I’ve got to say that in the midst of this 3 weeks of what feels like completely depriving my body of things that it totally wants and probably needs…Sunflower seeds are making all the difference. I may wish I could be eating an apple right now, but instead I’m going to pop a couple of sunflower kernels into my mouth and suck on the husks until I get the tiny seed out 15 minutes later. No, it’s not a banana, but it sure keeps my mouth busy when I just can’t face life without bananas anymore. :D

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Ok people!

Wow, it’s been a busy month! With wedding planning, schoolwork, and travel, we’ve been busy beavers here at our house. I knew that planning a wedding was going to be a large task, but, wow, it really takes a lot of work!

Thankfully, Lindsey and I are always working on keeping up a good balance of work and play and quiet time together, and lately we’ve been doing an exceptional job of ordering time the way we need and want it. (I have to brag on us a little because I really am so proud of us!) I’ve been learning an invaluable lesson about myself as we work on this particular angle of our lives: I am a quality over quantity kind of person.

Quality trumps quantity.

Have you ever experienced that moment when you realize you’re with a bunch of people doing mediocre things that you don’t really want to do? Or that moment when you realize you’re exhausted because your calendar is so full, and, yet, somehow you’ve spent none of that time doing the things you most enjoy in life? Or how about that moment where you find yourself watching someone or something and you know deep down that that’s the kind of person you want to be and the kinds of things you want to be doing, but when you look at the reality of your life, it looks nothing like that?

In my mind this is where quantity comes into the picture. We do and we do and we do and we say “yes” to activities and friendships that really, deep down, do nothing for our souls, for our lives, except keep us busy and make us look like the world’s most desirable person. Maybe it turns into….”If I look desirable, then I am desirable; If I am constantly being invited to gatherings, constantly asked to do this or that, or constantly texted/called/e-mailed/facebooked, then I am worth something.” And, for some people, that is enough. But for me…

I started to have an issue with that kind of living sometime this past fall. I’m not sure what changed in me. I had spent almost 10 months fooling myself into thinking that because Lindsey and I had such a full social calendar that I should be happy and thankful that we were so loved, but I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t feel loved. I just felt exhausted and resentful, and I missed Lindsey, a lot. I missed our “just us” time. We’d spent years doing fun and amazing things together, but in our hope to find friends in a new city, in a new stage of our lives, we began sacrificing the way we truly enjoyed doing life, and we spent most of our down time with other people. Every weekend was packed with activity. Every weeknight was often packed with activity too. I was reaching the end of a season. I could tell it was happening, but I didn’t know what to do about it and I didn’t even really know what it meant for me.

[Now, don’t get me wrong, friendships are great things to have…IF you make the right friends, friends who like you for you, friends who stick around even when you say “no” to things, friends who aren’t using you only for what they need, friends who don’t need you constantly there, friends with their own rich lives, friends who are healthy, friends who can have a good time without a lot of noise or activity or alcohol…those kinds of friends! :)]

Lindsey and I had some long discussions about it. We decided to reshape the way we do life. To prioritize each other. To say “no” often. To spend time doing things that build us up. To be more selective about our friendships.

And then quality started to enter the picture. I started being able to think clearer, to get an authentic picture in my mind of the person that I want to be. And, instead of it being wishful thinking, I started to make choices that put me squarely in a position to actually be that person. A dreamer. A writer. A poet. A deep thinker. An introvert. An outdoorsy, hippy type who loves bare feet, picnics in the sun, and quiet moments just staring into the sky, a princess of the most high King of Kings, a lover, a sister, a best friend. I wasn’t running around anymore, running myself ragged, being someone I wasn’t in order to please people who didn’t really even value the things I value. I was deepening; my heart was widening; and I was starting to feel deep-down, giddy joy about our life again, about my days, about myself!

What a difference quality makes, is making, in my life! Since coming to this realization about myself, I have seen major changes inside of me, between Lindsey and I, and in my closest relationships. I feel more than ever like I am truly learning how to be myself, to embrace it and enjoy it. This is a gift that I am so thankful for, and I’m reveling in the freedom of it!

This lesson I’ve been learning has even begun to affect the way I think about this blog. I love story and the power of story. I love working on writing a better story with my life day after day. But, I’ve begun to realize that I’m not doing that by “learning to live an adventure one day at a time” (my former tagline). No, I’m creating a better story with my life by choosing quality over quantity! That “quality” moment might involve reading a good book in the park with my head resting in Lindsey’s lap, sitting on the couch just talking and laughing with her, biking to the library, kayaking in our kayak on some peaceful lake, or sitting in the quiet by myself writing poetry. Whatever it is, adventurous or quiet or relaxing or exciting or new or old or strange or familiar, I want it to be a deliberate act of choosing quality over quantity, authenticity over acceptance, the rich over the mediocre.

So, just as I’ve adjusted my focus in some important ways, I’m going to adjust the focus of this blog as well. I’m incredibly excited about using this format to explore this incredibly life-changing and important concept! I can’t wait to see what’s in store as I focus on quality in my life (and life in general) and record the triumphs, slip-ups, drawbacks, rewards, and gifts that come with choosing quality over quantity.

Really, my heart just soars thinking about the possibilities! :D

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

Last day of 2011. What a year it’s been for me. For Lindsey and me.

I’m sitting in a hotel in Santa Fe at the moment. We decided to have a new years adventure. Last night driving down here was so precious as I got to spend hours talking to Linds and listening to her thoughts. We reminisced about past adventures we’ve had, and I felt so thankful. We talked to an old and dear friend we haven’t gotten to talk to in a while who makes us both smile. I felt renewed. A renewal I desperately needed. Watching the sinking moon in the sky and the millions of stars stretching for miles helped me to remember my place and the great hope I have and the beauty I am so privileged to take in and wonder at in life. I thought about who I am and who I want to be, and it centered me in just the way I needed as I say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012.

2011 is a weird number, but it was a beautiful difficult tragic wonderful year filled with hardship and wonder and memorable adventures and new things. A year I will never forget or gloss over. The year God brought me closer to living authentically me. The year I opened my heart to the world, my world, and embraced authenticity in a deeper way by being open about my orientation and relationship with Lindsey. The year I watched God bless us in ways I never could have imagined. A year filled with rejection and misunderstanding and judgment. Hardship that sometimes felt like it would swallow me whole. And pain, heart pain, the pain of being rejected, of being misunderstood, of being judged, of being stereotyped and turned on by people I dearly love and wish to be close to. A year marked with story after story of support and peace and help and strength and hope in the midst of the hardship. A year so marked with God sending us love and support and hope that it sticks out strongly in my mind more than the difficult. A year when I feared and suffered under the pain of withdrawal, but a year when God never withdrew, never abandoned me, and pressed His love over me and deep into my heart. The year I asked Lindsey to marry me, and she said yes. The year I started school again in an attempt to end school for good. :) The year I made new friends, remembered a lot of things about myself, worked hard with Lindsey at focusing our time and energy and making our life as healthy as we possibly can, cried and hurt, and came out on the other side remembering the hope we have and the good things surrounding me.

An epic year.

A year full of stories worth telling.

2012 will be the same way with new stories and new adventures and new hurts and hardships and new triumph and new strength and support and new hope and new peace and new mercies to sustain me and remind me of the truth. Love will remain. Hope will hold my heart as I walk into this new year.

So here I am, Abba. Butterflies in my stomach as I think about the excitement of unending possibilities in this new year. Joy and gratitude as I think about walking into another year with Lindsey and anticipate the wonderful things You have for us. I lay my heart before you as I consider this old year and look forward to the new one. You are everything to me, and I pray that the treasure our relationship is will only grow in vibrancy this coming year. Bless this coming year with Your love, pour it over us no matter what this new year holds, so that when I come to reflect on 2012 I will reflect most of all deep in my heart on Your unending love and how much it has caught me and held me and caused me to wonder the whole year long. In Jesus Name

Amen

Happy New Year everybody. Happy old year. Happy change. Happy memories. Happy hope for the future. Happy adventures and stories worth telling. May you consider the past with depth and perspective today, and may you find a thrill in your heart when you think of the celebration of tomorrow!

Surrender

Friday again. :) I’m so so sleepy today. All of the work it takes to get through a week has tired me out and left me dragging a little today. The little boy I nanny seems to be tired from the week too. He also seems a little more set on testing me a lot today. He decided this afternoon that it was funny when he tripped and slammed his head into the carpeted floor. Evidently it didn’t hurt much because he started laughing and trying to recreate the experience for the next hour. I’m not kidding. I got books he likes out, I took him outside for almost 30 minutes (even though it’s absolutely freezing outside!!), I started talking about his ball and pointing it out, I even tried “no, stop that right now you’re going to hurt yourself”. (And let me tell you, this kid is a listener, he is very consistent in his ability to respond to the word “no” and move on in a different direction.) Nothing worked. I think if I wasn’t feeling so tired I probably would have gotten a video of this precious kid attempting to do something really dumb over and over again. But I could only sit dumbfounded and keep interfering before he actually bumped his head hard. I was shocked that he was focused on hitting his head on the floor again even after a long trip outside. It was one of the first things he attempted to do when we came back inside. Really, D? Really? Let it go, buddy. Let. it. go.

I do the same thing in my head some days. I run the same worrying thoughts through my head over and over and over. I emotionally run myself into the ground over and over by trying to wrap my mind around everything and try to feel like I’m in control. I forget to let. it. go.

I was reminded the other day that God doesn’t call me to worry or to think through worst case scenarios or to run myself into the ground in an effort to “get used to” the amount of negativity I might encounter in life. He actually says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” Philippians 4 verse 8.

It’s a little ridiculous to spend so much mental time forcing myself into a situation that drains me and hurts me. I like that God can use the funny antics of a 1 year old to remind me of the truth He is teaching me. It’s going to require more than a trip outside, a couple books, and some distractions to keep me from playing this hurtful game in my head though; it’s going to require a step of faith, a choice to trust that God really is faithful, loving, and powerful and that He really does want me to have a mind full of good thoughts.

So, friends, on the way home from work tonight I will be intentionally  focusing on embracing surrender. To “let it go, Steph, let. it. go.”

It’s Monday Time

Today is Monday. Ah the lovely day after a full weekend where Lindsey has to go back to work, I get focused on schoolwork again, and we both face the week ahead. (I know…it’s weird when I’m sarcastic, huh?) It’s not my favorite day for sure. I will say that this Monday it was nice to get up and plug in the lights on the Christmas tree we joyfully decorated yesterday together. It’s a lovely tree, and it looks great in our apartment. We also strung lights over the fireplace and such and put up the nativity scene, so our apartment is quite festive. I’m also keeping in mind this Monday that in 2 weeks we will be a few short days away from Christmas and a trip to Lindsey’s parents for the holiday. Normally I would be stressing out, but God is bringing me through a lot, and I walked through a particularly large refining fire this weekend that seems to have burnt off my tendency to worry about the future. We all know that this tendency could return, but I feel today that those days will take care of themselves. Also, as Lindsey so gently reminds me a lot, we’ll take one day, one moment, one conversation at a time.

 

Since today is Monday, I’m going to mix it up a little and post a video that I saw this past week. It warmed my heart and made my sweet Lindsey get all teary-eyed. Love is such a miracle, such a blessing to witness, to experience, to give and to receive…

 

 

Circumstance

Last night I saw a movie that was one of those movies that resets your perspective in a very powerful way. It was about two Iranian women caught in a world I know very little about and can’t really even imagine experiencing firsthand. (You can check it out here https://www.facebook.com/circumstancethemovie ) I left the theater more aware then I was when I entered. Aware of how blessed I am to live in the country and city that I do, to have the church family that I have, to be privileged to the freedoms that I have, to know the Lord like I do, and to have a VOICE. Because, let’s be honest, I have a voice here in America….you have a voice…and even though we choose not to use that voice at times, we still have the freedom to use it, which is a lot more than most people in most countries around the world.

I will say that I don’t often think about the freedom and power that my own voice has. This movie changed that for me. In the movie the women aren’t allowed to have a free life….they have to marry when their told…they can’t love or marry the person they want….they can’t have different ideas….they can’t use their voices at all (and when they try, they suffer grave consequences). It was a sobering picture of a system to which many women are enslaved. I’ve always wanted to use my voice to make a difference in the world, but I’ve never thought so much about the privilege it is for me to have the freedom to use my voice. I have to face my own hardships for loving the person that I do, but I never thought about what it would be like if I could be thrown into jail for loving Lindsey. I love being analytic and thinking deeply and having ideas and making plans to affect the world (even just affect the people I come in contact with), but I don’t have to sit around fearing that those thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams will get me beaten or imprisoned or even killed.

I am so thankful to have a loving, faithful, godly partner in life, but this movie also put into perspective how amazing it is to be with someone who loves me so much and would do anything for me. This really isn’t something to be taken for granted! I am not ashamed of that relationship. I am proud of it and incredibly thankful to God for it. What a gift! I realized while sitting in that movie that even though there are many people who don’t agree with my relationship, I will stand up and praise God for it because I know in my heart that it is an amazing gift from Him.

There’s something about watching someone else who is desperate for freedom and trying to fight for it. Not only does it make me want to fight along with them for their freedom, but it makes me want to fight for my own freedoms and claim with passion the freedoms I already have. Maybe this is just me, but I think and hope it’s true for a lot of us.

Are you fighting for your own freedom in some area? Keep fighting…even if it feels like it, you are not alone.

Are you aware of your freedoms today? Breathe in that freedom today!

Are you willing to fight for someone else’s freedom?

No really….are you?

Because it seems to me that freedom is meant to be spread. Jesus spread it. And I want to spend the rest of my life spreading it as well.

Simplify

So I’ve decided that my mind and my life need some simplification. So I decided I’m taking a break from facebook, and am going to spend more time specifically focusing on my life here in Denver instead of spending too much time on the computer. This may result in more time to blog, read, write, walk outside, work, etc etc. It’s amazing to me that I feel so stretched thin to the end of myself when all I’ve done all day is be at home. That clued me in to the fact that I’m not doing the things that truly give me joy and peace and purpose. So I’m going to experiment and try taking out some things and putting in some other things to see how that changes my life daily. :) I’m actually quite excited about making this change, but absolutely unsure of what it’s going to be like. The fact that I don’t know what my life will be like without facebook and more grounded in the present is a big clue to me that it’s something I definitely need to do!! Here’s to a new adventure of simplifying my life!

In other news (incredibly big news!), Lindsey asked me to marry her yesterday, and I said YES :D She took me away to this beautiful inn in Grand Lake for the weekend. I took this pic when we first got there…

Lindsey wrote me a poem asking me to come away with her and it was so romantic. I was so happy to be in such a beautiful place with my favorite person in the whole world. Look how beautiful this place is…

But this was my favorite view of the weekend :)

We went kayaking together…

And the next day we went hiking by a waterfall and my Lindsey asked me to marry her :) I was very happy!

I love her so much. I am incredibly blessed and thankful that God brought her into my life 4 years ago. She is my soul mate. She makes me a better person. God is so good to us! We see His hand working in our lives, in our relationship, all around us. It is a beautiful and wonderful thing. Thanks baby for such an amazingly fun, romantic, and memorable weekend filled with love!

What do you want?

John 1:37 and 38
“When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

I want to be me
A person of authenticity
A lover, a friend
A family member

Adventurous
Traveling
Open
Aware
Creative
Hopeful
Real

I want to be kind
Gentle, truthful, graceful
Peaceful, wise

I want to be a selfless person
To be a great boundary setter
To be a safe place for others
Who consistently points to God
Points to love

I want to love
And to receive love
I want to be a vessel
Which pours out God’s unconditional love
On everyone around me
And accepts that love for myself

I want to make the most of every moment
To not be so hard on myself
To not lean on my own understanding of things
And constantly rest in the fact that I am saved by grace

I want to help when I’m needed
To open my mouth at the right time
And keep it closed when it needs to be

I want to be right sometimes
And be ok
I want to be wrong sometimes
And still be ok
I want room to doubt, wrestle, and question
And to always believe that God is bigger
And not afraid of my humanness

I want to live with purpose
To dream, to grow, to be
To affect and be affected

I want to soak in the truth of the Bible
To read it, to hear it, to run it through my mind

I want to learn, always learn
To be teachable
To see good change in myself and rejoice over it
To be gentle with myself

I want to be free
Free to feel
Free to know and not know
Free from my own judgmental thoughts
From guilt and bitterness
From the judgments of others

Free to live in the love of the Lord
Free from the pressures I put on myself
Free from the pressures other people put on me

I want to be governed by love, not fear
To love everyone for who they are
To trust that God is in charge of people
And their lives, and their hearts
I want to be the one who loves even when it costs
To be like Jesus more and more as long as God keeps me on the earth

I want to celebrate
I want to celebrate without anxiety
And truly embrace the joy of being thankful
To spend time being joyous over my life on birthdays
To revel in the wonder of Jesus birth
To get excited about new beginnings
To truly celebrate my relationship with Lindsey
And the church family that God has given me

I want to give
To give of my time, of our money, of my heart
To bless other people and the Lord
With my giving

I want to have fun
I want to be deep
I want all this and so much more
Most of all
I want to truly live
Because I truly am loved and love others

What do you want?

Mileage

We went camping this weekend near the Arkansas river. Our campsite had an amazing view of the mountains, which I continue to picture in my head today. We also got to go rafting on Saturday, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. The water was ridiculously cold, but the whole experience was just so much fun. We even got to see a group of bighorn sheep as we rafted, and the beauty all around me was mesmerizing. The beauty of nature makes such powerful imprints on my mind. It makes me actually feel like part of a bigger picture. It creates space everywhere even inside of me, and with each exposure to such beauty, I gain even greater space and depth inside of myself.

I love thinking about how I am just a tiny part of huge forces that are so much bigger than me or my thoughts or my life. When I begin to lose site of that, I think I become so much more frustrated by everything and stressed out over life. I don’t want life to be about me. I don’t want my life to be about me. I want my life to have a depth and a purpose that is far beyond what I could ever come up with. I want my thoughts to be on things outside of me….on God, on relationship, on truth, on serving others, on love. I want me to decrease and Him to increase.

I’ve noticed a lot of frustration in me lately. Not stemming from anything specific but directed at every little thing. I haven’t been able to put my finger on what is going on in me except to acknowledge that I have a lot going on, am physically run down, and have every right to feel stressed about certain things like family issues, looking for a job, health issues, etc. I realize this is all true, but as I’ve been thinking about the beauty of God’s creation, and the space and depth it creates in me, and the size and scope of life and the world and being alive, I’ve found a deep hunger for that space, a deep hunger for freedom, a desire for me to decrease in the presence of the power and majesty and sheer size of God, who He is, and the grandeur of the gift called Life that He’s created…..not just for me, but for the entire universe! When I focus my mind on this, I can feel my frustration melting away. I am aware of myself, but aware that I am part of a bigger whole, that I am in the will and hands of the Lord, that everything exists far outside of me, and it is a gift to be alive in the midst of Life as God moves it and directs it and keeps it all running.

I started out this day feeling like a car with high mileage, oil leaking, belts cracking, parts needing to be replaced. I started out feeling worn down by the challenges of life. I started out feeling like I need a vacation, a place where I could go to escape details, and conflict, relationships and conversations, work and routine. Somewhere in the course of this day and the process of writing, I turned outward instead of inward, and I realized what was going on. I can’t escape the high “mileage” of life, of the process of being alive. I can’t check out for a while and come back to find my relationships are perfect, the dishes no longer require washing, everyone I care about magically agrees and gets along,  furniture no longer collects dust, and I never have to plan a meal or cook dinner again. When I focus outside of me on God’s bigger plans for my life and the reasons He has for sustaining it, I don’t feel so run down anymore. When I remember the beauty of the mountains and the feel of that ice cold water on my face, I remember that it’s not a chore to be alive, it’s an outstanding gift. When I think about the fact that I am created with purpose and that Life goes on and on because God is in control, I don’t feel like getting furious at rush hour traffic; I feel like opening the windows and hugging Lindsey and singing.

It’s just amazing how much difference perspective makes. Mileage in life doesn’t have to mean getting more and more run down, when it means you are experiencing the power, beauty, and joy of the journey!

perfection, obsession, and letting it all fall apart

This weekend was full to the brim! Friday night I went to Dave and Buster’s for the first time to celebrate the birthdays of two of our dear friends. I’ve heard about Dave and Buster’s as kind of the adult Chucky Cheese….a place where you can go and play games and eat and have fun. The food was pretty good (I had a salad of course, since the restrictions on what I can or can not eat are pretty strict right now), and it was fun to be with my friends. My introverted self couldn’t really get in to the game part of Dave and Buster’s though. I don’t feed off of other people’s energy….in fact it usually drains me…so imagine a huge space filled with tons of people, loud games, and flashing lights. Yeah, my brain was on overload. I get so quiet in situations like that, and I tend to get pretty down on myself because I feel like I should be different somehow. We’ll come back to that thought.

On to Saturday! We had the amazing privilege of going to see U2 in concert on Saturday night. I entered the night feeling a little nervous because I was afraid I would have the same reaction to a lot of people and even more noise. I didn’t want to get quiet and feel the urge to withdraw. I wanted to experience the band and the music and have fun with my girl and my friends. I actually did better on Saturday night, the show was incredibly amazing and I loved being able to sit there and watch it.

I had a moment where everyone in our group had left for some reason or another and I was sitting by myself just watching the thousands of people in Invesco Stadium. At first I just lost myself in thinking about people and their differences and how much God loves everyone. Then the wave started. I’ve never seen that many people do the wave. The wave actually went around the whole Bronco’s football stadium like 7 times before it started to die out. That was pretty fun to watch. I found myself feeling amused watching the silly excitement of people, but I had no desire to join in. I had a moment where I wondered if this should be a problem…that I like to watch and analyze and take in and think about things so much more than I like to participate a lot of times. Again, I started to question my personality and wonder if my kind of personality gets people like me (or myself) anywhere. Of course then there is always the question of where am I trying to get myself and what’s so important about it?

On to Sunday. Went to church and thoroughly enjoyed it. After all the stuff I’ve been thinking about, just letting go and worshiping God with everything that I am was wonderful. It’s great to be able to take all my thoughts, all of the things I don’t understand, and all of my perceptions of myself and such and just lay them at the feet of the Lord. It was a precious time for my heart.

Sunday afternoon Lindsey and I got some Indian food and then saw the 4th Pirates movie. It was so good! On the way home we walked downtown a little to get to where we parked. While I was walking I was getting lost in my thoughts again. I was feeling weighed down by all the striving that goes on in my mind. Striving that looks a lot like a hamster wheel.

Over and over I think about where I should work, if I should work, when I should write, what I should write, what I should do, how I should do everything I do, on and on and on. I’ve always had this issue. This problem of obsessing about every little detail in my life because I think I need to be something or be doing something that is “other” than who I am or what I’m doing. Even though my life really is in the best place it’s ever been, I still deal with the same old crap I’ve always dealt with…..second guessing my dreams, putting lots of pressure on myself to be something that I can’t even define.

It really was like my eyes were opened, and I could see my life from a different perspective as I walking Sunday afternoon. I suddenly realized that all the things that have the most impact on me and my life are things that I’ve had very little control over, haven’t seen coming, or haven’t asked for (or even wanted!). I didn’t ask to go through a lot as a child, I didn’t have any choice in the family or time period I was born into, I didn’t ask to be or try to be gay, I didn’t plan on meeting Lindsey, I didn’t plan out my personality with it’s quirks and introverted analytical tendencies…..yet, these things effect my life in the largest ways possible!

I realized that the things that I “strive” over on my hamster wheel aren’t the things that “create” my life or who I am….I realized that trying to get every choice right and every day perfect and every situation ideal did nothing for my life at all. The question that came to my mind was one that asked if the things I try so desperately to control actually do anything for my life, actually change the course of my life, or actually create the life I love….and the answer was a resounding “no!”.

The things that have shaped me and continue to shape me into the person that I am are actually things that I have very little control over. I haven’t “made” my life happen. Life just keeps happening whether I want it to or not. In fact, life would keep happening whether I existed or not. Ok, so I know this isn’t rocket science, but this idea was like discovering gold in my mind. Do you know how much anxiety is created in us when we try to control things we can’t control? Or when we try to reach something that isn’t actually there? Like perfection?

The truth is that God is the author and perfecter of my life. Not me. Living my life doesn’t require a lot of obsessing, striving, worrying, etc. My life already exists…I can’t create it. What I can do is lean into the life I have been given. What I can do is “show up” (as my good friend, alison, says) for the life that God has created. I can’t do anything more than live today as the person I am, as the person He’s created me to be and is shaping me into. I can show up as that person and own who I am and enjoy who I am and love others.

I still can’t quite wrap my mind around this new idea. I’ve been so used to pressuring myself to be something I can’t even define, and I do it so automatically. I start a conversation with my sister…and instead of just being present and being myself, I start to obsess in my mind about saying all the right things and communicating love perfectly. It happens so fast and all of the sudden that in most situations I’m like, wow, I’m doing it again. I start writing in this blog and all of the sudden I’m not being myself anymore and I go into “must communicate what I’m thinking perfectly” mode.

But that’s not what life is about, and it’s certainly not the way I want to live my life anymore. So I would say that I’m on a different track, but that would just be feeding my old way of thinking. What I will say is that I’m listening and keeping my eyes open for God’s working of this change in me….keeping myself open to being aware of when I’m in perfectionist mode….and letting myself be a little raw…

I’m looking for signs of life in me instead of striving in my mind about how to create it.

I’m looking for a job as just a job and not a huge statement about me.

I’m leaning into my introverted, quiet, thoughtful personality instead of wishing I could play games with the best of them at Dave and Busters.

I’m enjoying my tendency to watch instead of worrying that I should be doing the wave with the rest of the people at Invesco Field.

I’m letting my writing be a little confusing and a lot of processing instead of trying to be the best communicator out there.

I’m embracing the things that I love instead of worrying about how to keep them special.

And I’m allowing myself to be imperfect so that maybe I can take my eyes off of myself and take in the view that God is constantly creating all around me.

I’m falling apart a little bit, so that maybe I can live from a place of wholeness that only God can create.