P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N (gulp)

A few days ago, a friend tagged me in a picture on Instagram.  I quickly reviewed the picture (see below) and ever since the phrase has been ruminating in my mind…

FullSizeRender-2

It’s a mantra whose humming rhythm won’t quit.

Write hard and clear about what hurts.

                 Write hard and clear about what hurts.

                                    Write hard and clear about what hurts.

Write hard and clear.
(heard: it won’t be easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated)

About what hurts.
(heard: Know what hurts and articulate your heart around that)

Gulp. Gulp. G-u-l-p.

===============

Then I came across this writer’s summit online and began to take a listen.  The very first author I heard was the lovely Edie Wadsworth and as she spoke about her own memoir that is coming out in September, the theme I kept hearing was to write the hard stuff.  In her own words, “The thing you’re most scared to write about is probably the very thing you should write about.”

Gulp. Gulp. G-u-l-p.  Here we go.

I AM A RECOVERING STRUGGLING PERFECTIONIST

Some of you may laugh.  “Haha… that’s not so bad!” you may think.  Oh, but I’m here to tell you it is when you are on the receiving end of my perfectionistic tendencies.  My kiddos have been on the receiving end, my husband and more often than anyone else, myself.

Lofty ideals.

Expectations of self and others that were never meant to exist.

Striving.

And then rolling up my sleeves and striving some more.

Shame.
(And just to be clear, when I say “shame” I adopt the renowned shame expert, Brene Brown’s definition: Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging)

Shame because I didn’t meet said expectations that were never meant to exist.

Anger.

Anger because I don’t know how to deal with the shame that exists because I didn’t meet said expectations THAT WERE NEVER MEANT TO EXIST.

It’s a vicious cycle.  One that I have to be aware of constantly.  And one that I have to CHOOSE to combat.

===============

I’m listening to podcasts.  OK, well, technically I’m listening to ONE podcast.  My first podcast EVER– for those of you who think I might know all about podcasts, and all things technologically advanced, I do not.  My friends give me a hard time because I still have a yahoo email account.  That is a telling testimony in and of itself. And podcasts are actually kinda old, right?  Not really so technologically advanced in the normal, “more connected to the world,” human’s life.

But, I found a podcast.  And I love it.  And I listen to the same 5 episodes OVER. and OVER. and OVER.

And in one podcast the authors are sharing about “Unlikely Writing Teachers” and they talk specifically about a bit of microphone feedback that was left in a live recording of a Bob Marley song on his classic Legend album. They continued to talk about the way it actually seems to make the song better with the feedback there because it “humanizes the process.”  Yes, indeed, even legendary rockstars, and their teams of people, make mistakes in their craft.

THE ART IS MADE IN THE MISTAKES.

There is truly something about living in the tension of knowing these 2 things:

1. Perfection is not a possible or even worthy goal and…
2. There is great beauty in the growth process

 Growing up, I feel like I heard (in various words and actions) from many adults all around that, “Ho-hum, life happens!”  There was this general attitude that life happens to you and you have no control over it.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing–the disparity between beliefs.  But now, we tend to take on a “control your destiny” mentality.  “Work hard, attend this event, sign up for this activity and MAKE your life beautiful” is the mantra I feel surfacing within my own generation. I feel like my own resolve to never believe I am a victim of my own life circumstances and combativeness to falling prey to that belief, has at  times led me to swing to the other side of the pendulum.  The “take charge attitude” of my own life has left me wanting for more peace & stillness and less busyness & action.

Brene Brown, in her book I Thought it was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough,” says this,

Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, ordinary, hardworking men and women.  In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless.

And therein, lies the rub.  What I believe is often the root of our struggles with perfection.

WE ARE AFRAID OF BEING MEANINGLESS.

Gulp. Gulp. G-U-L-P.

We lead busy lives.  We strive for the perfectly clean, organized and polished home.  At times, our motivation to work out, diet and seek to alter our bodies is because we want to fit the “culturally acceptable body type.” We often can’t walk our children through the process of deciding what they truly love to do, so we plug them into dozens of various activities.  All in a hope of providing them with some sort of MEANINGFUL life.  And in the midst, we too are scrambling ourselves to find our own meaning and make our own mark in the world because we deeply fear leaving this life unmarked, as an ordinary individual who did not achieve great things.

And yet, I look not far from myself and see these sweet reminders.

IMG_0820

IMG_1098

THEIR SWEET,
AMAZING PERFECTION LIES IN THE
VERY FACT THAT THEY ARE INDEED IMPERFECT.

 The peanut butter and jelly smears in the crevices of their mouths.  The Greek yogurt smears across their foreheads that WILL NOT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ever come off.

The way they readily admit they need help– even take comfort in asking and receiving help.  Jesus, help us learn from them.  May we become like the little children.

They have no problem expressing their true feelings.  Letting it all out, so to speak.  And a successful day in their eyes, is not one measured by how many items they were able to check off their lists.  It’s measured in play.  How much fun was had?  How much did I laugh?  Amidst the piles of laundry and dirty floors, what friends did I connect with?  What playdates occurred?  What yummy foods did I eat and what funny things did I see?

IMG_1168

Oh sweet friends.  I am on a journey.  Looking back in my own Instagram feed, I found this gem of a reminder:

At the end of each day, I hope I’ve loved better than the one before.  Sometimes I have.  Other times I fail miserably.  I am thankful for grace.  I am so glad that perfect is not the goal.  I am learning and growing and changing… Hopefully becoming better.

But a lot of days, I find that I’ve forgotten.  In the midst of working so hard to FIND peace, and trying so much to BE better, I forget that it’s all around me.  I don’t have to work hard to achieve it.  Or look forward to it at the end of my day.  It’s there.  It doesn’t always look the way we envision it.  But, it’s there.  Waiting for me to stop trying so hard and just fall into it.

These little people are peace carriers (even when they are crazy chaos).  They are real and they carry Him.  And they wait for me to stop, to slow, to breathe, to fall.

And so I will.  Each day I will remind myself and I will grow because of it.  As sweet author Amber Haines writes in her book, The Mother Letters,

I push away that woman in my imagination who tells me who I’m supposed to be if I want to be ‘good,’ to be doing it right.  I push away even what I think another mother’s life seems to be, the vacuum lines in her carpet.  But here gather, mother, women who are for you, women confessing how little any of us know and how precious it is to be right where we are and who we are.

IMG_1179

IMG_1161

Breathe deeply friends.  Perfect was never the goal.  Your life is meant to be enjoyed–as you chase the dreams, as you plan and set goals– find the peace and fall into it.  It’s there.  And the marks you are already making, as ordinary as they may be, are oh, so deeply meaningful.  Of that I am certain.

Your delicious perfection, your unique imprint, lies in the very fact that you too, are an imperfect, beautiful person, capable of love and difference-making, right now, in your present state of being.

Embrace the imperfect friends!  It’s so lovely.

Redefining Home: A Celebration of Him

He is our rock, our stabilizer, equalizer, provider and safe haven.  And today, we celebrate his 37 years of life.

Because of him, I have redefined HOME.

259501_10151090595978898_1607208186_o

We have moved around a bit over the course of almost 14 years of marriage and I find myself not really being too unsettled by it all.  The moving.  Sure, transition with a family of five can be difficult, but we have done it.  We are all stable, happy and thriving.

When I hear people wonder out loud how we can makes moves from Indiana to California to Indiana to Ohio with our tribe, I find myself wondering if indeed there is something perhaps “wrong” with me because the moving doesn’t bother me.  Do I not put down “roots” enough?  Should this transition feel more difficult than it does? Don’t get me wrong, I have had my own process and journey through many emotions regarding this but, for the most part, it’s felt seamless.  And after some reflection, it’s caused me to realize, there isn’t anything wrong.  Instead,

We transition and settle well because of him.

callen2015110590278

I recently bought a piece of artwork for our bedroom that reads, “Whenever we are together, we are HOME.”

That captures it all.  His very essence lies in being so comfortable in his own skin, his own preferences, his own home and his own decisions.  I take great comfort in these qualities that he possesses.  Sure, my own people-pleasing nature kicks in at times and then those very qualities of his that provide comfort actually begin to drive me a little bonkers (ha!).

But, I always land back on the belief that we, in our sometimes polar-oppositeness are beautifully together for a reason.  And that’s to do life side-by-side, raising three beautiful and strong ladies, making our own impact in our various corners of the world and spheres of influence.

He’s helped me to redefine home.  To be more comfortable just being.  In the everyday, in the ordinary, I can relax and settle in because I see him do it so well.

I am often driven and motivated by the anticipation of big activities or plans.  I look forward to family vacations, dance recitals, trips, conferences, events.  I look forward to experiencing those things as a family and a couple.  I look forward to the memories that will be made together in those spaces.

But he always whispers, HOME.

And so we go there, our safe space.  Wherever it may be.  Together.  The two of us.  Then the three.  Then the four.  Then five.  He leads us there well.

And I’m confident that because of that, our girls will always love coming home.  I’m confident that he has led us into feeling safe and comfortable in our home–and that this will carry on for all of us in years to come.

And it’s in those not-so-glamorous moments of being home, that we grow as a family.  It’s in the less than extraordinary that the EXTRAORDINARY is birthed.

IMG_7790 IMG_8248Happy Birthday babe!  We love you with all our hearts.

 

To All the Mamas

Today. Mother’s Day. A day we celebrate the Mamas. There is a beauty in never knowing exactly what you’re signing up for when you decide you’re ready to become a mother. Or, when life decides you are. Hidden treasures… perhaps realities that would scare the living “bejeezus” out of us if we knew of them before becoming a mother. There is a safety mechanism in not knowing these things until you experience them. Ha!

For example, these are the only pictures I’ve managed to capture today, on Mother’s Day, with my children.

IMG_1049 IMG_1051

That’s because when they were taken (as a selfie by my 9-year old), my 2 year old was racing around the house screaming that she did NOT want her Dad to change her dirty diaper and she wanted him to “leave it alone” while my middle child was huddled in a corner of the living room crying because she did not realize that she, herself would not be receiving gifts today since she IS the daughter of a mother, and that it’s not fair and so sad and that she wants to change her birthday to today because August is TRULY too long to wait. Yes. Hidden treasures. Hidden treasures.

Today, we had church at our house. That’s right. We are a part of a house church movement and we are hosting for the month of May. After church, all the kiddos (sometimes 17 total) all race up the stairs, often famished, and tired, closely followed by the (often also famished and tired) adults who’ve been pouring into them for the past 1.5-2 hours of the morning. Often we pull together a meal for those sticking around and it always seems to work. It’s one of my favorite things actually.

Today, my almost 5 year old, Harper, sweetly snuggled around the table up next to one of my dear friends (who is not yet a Mama herself) and whispered, “Happy Mother’s Day.” My friend chuckled and hugged Harper in thanks. We all smiled. But, I got to thinking and yes, today is about that—today is about thanking ALL the MAMAS. Because here is the truth:

BEHIND EVERY MAMA IS AN ARMY OF MAMAS
HOLDING
YOU UP.

The neighbor down the street who opens her doors for your kiddos literally every time they show up to play.

The not-yet-Mama friend whose creative patience steps in and kindly teaches the moment your own frazzled patience is nearly depleted.

The new Mama friend whose baby girl is not yet talking and who takes crazy joy in watching your own children in the things they say and do, reminding you that every moment truly is an incredible gift.

The Mama friend who quietly recognizes that you’re doing a good job as you (thank the sweet heavens) are able to diffuse a nearly explosive 2-year old temper tantrum.

The Mama friend who you walked with every week, each of your perspective 3-6 week olds wrapped on your bellies, your minds full of wonder as you discover the road of motherhood together, knowing that this is cementing your friendship—this moment of experiencing the exact same stage of life together.

The Mamas who are your “soul sisters” with whom you’ve journeyed with some for over 15 years of friendship with and saved a string of text messages that are almost a year old, simply to look back on and be reminded that they are there. They will drop anything to support you and they choose to make your friendship a major priority, despite any distance or path we all choose to take.

The Mama who birthed you and walked the road of childhood, teens, and now adulthood by your side—watching you grow, as she wonders if she’s truly given her all and done best for you throughout these years. You have Mama—you have.

The Mama who was in no way connected to you until your family started volunteering at the local Alzheimer’s facility—the one you can’t wait to see because of the way she allows you to hold her hand, allows your girls to pour out their own curious love as they stroke her shock white hair and beautiful wrinkly skin. The way (despite the fact that she meets you anew each time you visit) she always finds a moment to grip your arm, look straight into your eyes and say, “You are blessed Mama. Look at them! (pointing fiercely at my girls skipping around the room). YOU are blessed. And so are THEY. So are they.”

This week I was at the park with my 3 little ladies. I was sitting, watching them swing, watching them just be together. They were beautiful and it took my breath away. I found myself filling up just thinking that they are forming relationships that will stand the test of time! They will someday be “The Mamas” for one another and their own sweet friends.

IMG_1002 IMG_0999

I also was able to sneak away for a date with my middle daughter this week. She and I had noodles at her favorite restaurant and I acknowledged the fact that she was with just me, so wondered if she wanted to take that opportunity to ask me ANY question she wanted.

IMG_1026

She began with small talk, “So… how was your day?” (ahh… so stinking cute) and quickly dove deep.

“Mom… what helps to make you be a good Mom?” Whoa. I took a minute and gave her a list of 3 things:

  1. You and your sisters- you guys are amazing and you make me want to love better each day
  2. Doing something each day that fills my heart up
  3. My support system (your daddy, friends and family who help to remind me I’m doing a good job)

It takes a village. I’ll die believing it. And I hope my daughters see that and believe it too. We weren’t created to go it alone. Mothering. It’s a wild and crazy ride—one that will change you if you’ll let it. It’s a dying to self (daily) and a choosing to say yes as often as we can. We lay down our expectations and pick up what is before us. We choose love. We choose play. Our weaknesses are exposed and we are learning, always learning. We celebrate the victories together and share in our deepest fears. But together, always together.

So today, to ALL of my sweet, sweet Mamas: Thank you! I’m so glad to be doing life by your side.

Chasing Joy

I’m documenting this.

My husband and daughter being sick this past week MAY have been the best thing that could have happened.

Yes. You heard me right.

And, you’re probably thinking one of two things right now:

  1. I’m intrigued, because she actually can’t mean what she just said… or
  2. She is officially the worst mother and wife in the world

Although I will readily confess that I am indeed a flawed human being and I make mistakes (often), I truly HOPE I’m not the world’s worst mother or wife. So, please, keep reading! Be intrigued!

Yes, my husband and daughter being sick this past week may have very well been the best thing that could have happened. Because of it, I feel like an entirely different person.

I know. It sounds oh, so dramatic. And, if you don’t know me well or don’t fully have me figured out quite yet, then go ahead and get used to that feeling. Indeed, I, on various occasions have been labeled “dramatic.” I prefer to think of myself as a “creative, deep feeler with a spice for life” but, call it what you want.

I’ll just take a minute to thank them both (my husband and sweet daughter) in advance to for sacrificing their wellness for a hot minute to help me jump on the speeding train that has been circling my life for Y-E-A-R-S. That’s right. There’s been a train, on a well-oiled track, flying by me every single day for as long as I can remember. Every so often I hear it as it whizzes past. Occasionally I’ll see it for a moment. And every now and then, I’ve even grabbed onto the back rail of the final car and held tight with white knuckles in a crazy state of fear.

But, on this particular occasion, the week of my husband and daughter’s sicknesses, I grabbed tight, got on and climbed in. Because I knew in order to survive this week and not become zombie monster mom, I had to do something that filled me up. In order to take care of my people well, I had to put myself in a good place first. So, I’m in the train. I’m learning all about it and I’m taking my time discovering its nuances and character.

I’ll stop there before I KILL the already not-incredible metaphor to say…

THE TRAIN IS WRITING.

I’ve fearfully tried to make it happen, then readily convinced myself it’s “not the right season of life.” But, the more I live in that place, the more miserable I become. And the more I observe others around me, the more I realize life is less about sitting back and watching amazing things happen, as it is going AFTER, even chasing, the very things you desire.

I was reading this morning in Colossians and the words were coming alive to me in new and incredible ways. I am a student in so many ways. I learn best from a book with highlighter or pen in hand and journal nearby. Maybe even a few sticky-notes. And the theme I was observing was the idea of BEING FILLED UP in order to “live a life worthy of the Lord.” I don’t know about you, but living a life worthy of the very embodiment of perfection, kind of makes my eyes bug out and my stomach drop to the pit of my toes- if there even is such a thing. Is there?

And yet, a quick re-read and yep, there it is, TRUTH. It is possible.

“…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in EVERY WAY.” Colossians 1:9-10

Oh my gosh guys. This is crazy GOOD news! We can actually PLEASE the Lord in E-V-E-R-Y way. And guess what? It comes from 0% of our efforts. It actually comes from Him. He fills us up so we can please Him. That is what I want. Yes, please. It’s good stuff. Keep reading and you’ll find phrases like, “stored up for you in Heaven,” “being strengthened with all power,” and “has qualified you,” to name a few. The news gets even better. It is already finished. The filling up, the qualifying, the strengthening… It’s done. Totally done.

I may know (head) that this is true. But, do I feel (heart) that it is? So, it left me begging the question, “What is my part?” And I think the answer is actually quite simple.

Get. On. The. Freaking. Train.

Chase your joy.

You know what makes your heart sing. You were created that way for a REASON. Chase it and get it.

Or maybe you don’t know what makes your heart sing. Chase that and find out! It is out there people. Of that, I am 100% certain.

So, like I said earlier, I am a completely different person. Dramatic, yes. But, so true. Because guess what? I am nicer to my kids this week. I am gentler with my husband (at least I think… you can ask him). I am more honest and authentic with my friends. I am more willing to have intentional conversations- even if they are difficult. The world looks a little brighter. The mundane doesn’t bother me. The piles of laundry have somehow made me smile because (although they may be a tad neglected), I know they are that way because I chose well. I chose what makes my heart sing. I’m on the train and I’m learning. In my free time, I chose me first. I chose what makes my heart sing and everything else followed, a bit easier than it had before. And that’s in the midst of an out-of-commission husband and a quite sick little 9 year old. Imagine what chasing joy will look like on a good day?!?!?!

I have heard this most of my adult life, but I think I fear ruled supreme, disabling me from making the best choices. Does my blog look perfect? No. Do I have a load of followers? No. Are all my Instagram posts the most thought-provoking, clearly penned from a “writer’s perspective”? Not in the least. Do I know anything about algorithms and how to drive traffic to my blog. Not yet. But, I’m on the train. And I’m not hanging on for dear life from the outside caboose. I’m actually inside, working my way around, learning.

One day, this may look like sitting down to write. The next, it may look like reading through my wordpress tutorial to begin to better understand and optimize my site. Another, I may do nothing in regard to chasing the joy… and that’s OKAY too. But, it’s in my mind. I’m already thinking about the next time. And that next time, may look like listening to the podcast I (by chance) happened across that is designed specifically for writers. Even if it’s re-listening to the same episode for the fourth, fifth, sixth time. Something new sinks in EVERY SINGLE time.

So, my questions to you are these…

WHAT FILLS YOU UP?

WHAT IS YOUR TRAIN?

WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?

And, are you doing it? Are you chasing it? Are you taking a step in the right direction? Have you jumped on?

Whatever it is for you. Find it, do it! Do it from the top of your head to the pit of your toes (if there is such a thing).

In the meantime, let these pics bring you as much (JOY!!!!) as they are me. I am finally sorting through our family photos from 6 months ago to decide which ones to hang around the house.

That’s right. Six months ago. That’s over one-fifth of my youngest daughter’s life! You’re not the only one. You never are. One thing at a time dear ones, one thing at a time.

callen2015110589986

callen2015110590129

callen2015110590144

callen2015110590158

callen2015110590285
With Much Love,
Amanda

Gratitude

Pink tape. Store in basement of rental until new house is built. Green tape. Unpack at rental. There is a method and a strategy to the chaos. Ah, the joys of a double move!

In less than a month, we will be packing up our family and moving to a rental just outside of Columbus, Ohio for approximately 6 months. At the end of which, we will move into the house we are currently building.

Transition is definitely the word of the year for the Callen family. Lots of it. Sometimes in small doses. Sometimes in massive waves that cause my husband and I to look at one another and ask in whispered tones, “What in the world are we doing?!?!?” But, it would be unfair to say that “transition” is the only word defining our year. Coupled with the transition is the fact that we are being carried. Carried by the One who has purposed our steps and known about this move from before the moment he created us. The fact that we are being carried is so tangible that at times I physically sense Our Father’s arms of peace surrounding me, picking me up, providing deep comfort, instilling excitement, hope and vision for where He is carrying us next.

Last week, on the eve of exactly 12 ½ married years with my love (whoa), and the eve of Father’s Day when we get to celebrate him as the amazing daddy, husband, leader and man he is, we went on a date. A date to celebrate! A date to celebrate him. To celebrate this transition. To celebrate being carried and the One who carries us.

To say that we are deep in processing this move is an understatement. I sense it all around us. As our kids watch us take down their precious decorations in their rooms. As we all walk around boxes (labeled with pink or green tape of course) ;). As we finalize plans with movers. As we experience “last moments” this side of the move and dream about “first moments” on the other side. We are joyous and happy over what is to come. At the same time, we are scared and uncertain. We celebrate the community we’ll be joining and deeply grieve the one we are leaving. We cling to each other and God, trusting that He has and will continue to knit together the relationships that mean the most.

Family and those dear friends I lovingly call “Framily.” He knows us and knows WHO and what we need in this journey called life. Precious people. Deeply precious people. Words can’t even express. You know who you are. Whether we see you every day or every few months. Whether we have known you for years or a few months. There is purpose and there is reason behind our relationships with you. Purpose and meaning beyond our comprehension. If you’re reading this, you know who you are. And to you, this message is yours. Read it and let it sink in. My prayer is that these words will dwell in your heart and the meaning will resonate….

We are moving to the Columbus area to be a part of a church plant with a group of people. A group of people and a way of doing life that we just can’t shake. A vision for community and love for God and others that is radical and lasting. A new way of experiencing and connecting with God that we want more of on a daily basis. We caught the vision for this type of community almost 3 years ago when we trekked across the country for my husband to attend a year of ministry school at a marked and unique place that is experiencing a powerful revival.

Today, as we are about to make what is perhaps the biggest leap of faith to follow the dream God has imprinted on our hearts, I want those who have affected our lives to know this….

We are more committed to you now than ever before.

 We may not be able to answer all of your questions (because we don’t have all of the answers) but I can assure you that we will discover these things together.

 We are thankful for our “net”- and you are a part of that!

 We aren’t choosing this over you, but we are choosing this.

 We are blessed and excited to see you bloom where you’re planted.

 So, last week, as I enjoyed date night with my husband, I set one rule for the evening and our conversations. We were only allowed to talk about dreams. What we dream and envision for our family in the coming months and years. Oh yes, there’s much pink tape/green tape logistical conversations to be had, but for tonight, we put those on hold.

We celebrate this season.

We dream together.

And we cling to one another and the One who brought us together as we do this. We GET to do this. We are so thankful. So very thankful. For transitions. For being carried. For our precious people. For you.

Invited In

As some of you may or may not know, we are moving to Columbus, Ohio this summer.  We will be moving into a rental for a few months as we are building and our home won’t be finished until November 2015.  We are so excited to be doing this and daily I find myself whispering prayers of thankfulness.  So thankful that our family is taking this step.  So thankful that we are able to do this.  We are building our dream home.  We are moving our family to follow our heart’s dream.  We are trusting what God is whispering to us… “I have plans for you.  I have things I am going to do in you and through you because of this leap.”  It’s exciting, but overwhelming at times and definitely busy.  So much unknown.  So much.  There is a LOT involved in making a move like this with a family.  School enrollment, building meetings, packing, purging, many choices… many, many choices.  Some of which you aren’t exactly sure of and so tons of faith and trust along the way.

As we wade the waters of transition, life feels chaotic at times.  It’s easy to shut down and remain so laser-focused on the tasks at hand that everything else gets a fierce “no.” And in a lot of ways, that’s the safest and easiest route, right?  Don’t get me wrong… there is definitely wisdom in knowing what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.  Tons of wisdom.  But, sometimes, it’s a safety mechanism, isn’t it?  We tell ourselves we’re saying “no” for the right reasons when in reality, perhaps we’re just attempting to keep ourselves safe.  Safe from feeling hard feelings.  Safe from grieving.  Safe from your heart ripping over what you will miss in your here and now.  What you will miss in what is known and what you love and where you’ve chosen to dwell for over the past 9 years of your life.  Safe from tears over old friends, family, new friends and the shared experiences you have with all of them.  Safe from embracing the fact that even though you are 100% confident that you’re making the right decision, it’s still difficult and there are still so many gray areas. And it’s in these gray areas that we are vulnerable.  It’s in these gray areas, where you have a choice.  The choice is this: I will drown in the chaos and uncertainty of my soul by staying safe and alone, or I will open up and invite you in.

My husband has a work colleague-friend in town this week from Canada.  They are working together on a joint project and his family is here with him.  The 5 of them (6 counting babe on the way) 🙂 have made the trek down to be together in a new place.  I often get anxious over situations like this.  What is expected of me?  What can I do to help them feel comfortable here?  To make their stay in a new city fun and worthwhile?  And my perfectionist tendencies blaze fiercely.  I don’t just want to welcome them and host well.  I want to host perfectly.  I want the house to be spotless.  The time together to be great.  The meal to be delicious and fitting for everyone’s dietary needs, etc… And then I start to spin.  How can I do this?  I don’t feel capable!  And before I know it, I’ve often talked myself out of even making the invite.  And THAT is the loss.  A big one.  For me. One that I’m not willing to lose any more.

So I sent this message:
If you guys are feeling up for it, we will be around tomorrow evening.  If it works, maybe you could swing by after an early dinner?  Or you guys could eat at our house and we could all just pick up our own carryout food?  Dinner time is often a little crazy at our house with the girls.  BUT… We don’t mind inviting you into the chaos.  Ha ha ha…

And there it is.  The invite to come in.  In the midst of chaos.  In the midst of the gray and unknown.  And the gift always comes after the invite.  Because, I don’t know about you, but I always want to be invited in, regardless of what’s on the other side.  There’s something beautiful about choosing your people and inviting them in.  Whether it’s for a simple carry out dinner or tears of grief over what you’re about to leave.

Don’t. Shut. Down.  Don’t do this alone.  Find your people.  Choose them wisely.  And then… invite them in.  Those moments of what may feel chaotic are actually some of the most beautiful you’ll ever experience.  Sweet moments that you’ll fondly remember years from now.  A conversation that occurred.  Tears shared. Bursts of laughter.  Quiet times just being together.  OK… usually not quiet in this house, but being together?  Most definitely.

So it goes.  There will always be a reason to say no.  There will always be a reason to postpone.  You can convince yourself of it for a lifetime.  Or, you can open the door and invite your people in.  And I promise, chaos and all, as you wisely lead others in, you will be changed for the better.  You will love and be loved. As for the chaos?  Ya.  It kinda fades.  It actually becomes sacred and sorta beautiful.  Ya.  Extremely beautiful.

To Begin

This is a post from my journal entry dated 7.29.14.  Yep.  And the date is actually not completely telling.  This has been brewing in my heart for years.  Fears creep in and before I know it absolutely EVERYTHING has taken precedent over this.  Laundry… more important. Making meals… more important.  Surfing the internet… more important.  Wha-What?!?!? You heard it.  Ridiculous, I know.  And it all boils down to fear.  Fear of failing.  Fear of starting something and it not being perfect.  Fear of putting myself out there, being vulnerable.  The list goes on and on.

This morning I was chatting with my 3 year old about the importance of “doing hard things.” She has a tough time at preschool toward the end of the day.  She cried every day about a month ago because she no longer wanted to nap and she wanted to join the other kids in enrichment time.  So, we talked to the teachers and made the leap.  Now, she cries because she wants to be napping.  She said, on the verge of tears, “Mommy,  I want to be in enrichment.  It’s just a hard time for me.”

OK.  So baby girl and I talked.  We talked about doing hard things.  We talked about how sometimes every other choice seems like it will be better and easier and make things more comfortable.  We talked about how we are brave and strong and when we hit those hard moments, we can power through and almost always come out on the other side, happy and proud and triumphant.  We gave each other fist bumps at the door and she walked boldly into her preschool classroom.  I walked out to the car, swallowed the lump in my throat and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that TODAY was the day.

Time to do hard things Momma.  Fist bump with self.  Let’s do this… And so, we begin.
=================================

 

Terrified. That is the word.

It’s where I am and it’s what I’m feeling.  I rolled out of bed this morning at 6 am to nurse the baby with the best intentions of immediately escaping to my basement “retreat” area to sit and write.  But the fluffy comforter, mounds of pillows, sleeping husband and the hazy morning light peeking through our windows drew me back in once again.  I collapsed into a pile, curled up and welcomed a few more sacred moments of glorious sleep.

But, there it was again.  That nagging desire.  The one that never goes away.  The message that is whispered far and wide, across the days, months, years and entire landscape of my life.  You were made to do this.  You must write.

So, I started the coffee quietly in hopes that my slumbering bears would stay asleep a bit longer and I crept downstairs.  Coffee, phone, baby monitor and journal in hand to do this.  To write.  Knowing that taking 15 minutes to scrawl some words on a page would likely mean that I’d be the “messy mom” in pj’s dropping her kids off at day camp.  Because time is THAT scheduled these days.

]The voices in my head tell me, “You have nothing important to say.  No one really wants to know.  This is not your reality right now.”  Even though I’ve heard from many (friends and perfect strangers) that this is the direction, the journey, I am to embrace, my heart fears that they are all wrong and this is another dream unfulfilled… a disappointment… a “remember when I tried my hand at writing” story that is told in laughter around a table years from now while deep inside, a bit of my heart secretly dies.

And I’m terrified.  Partially because I don’t know what I’ll write about, but mostly because I do know what I’ll write about and I’m afraid of what you’ll say.  I fear your judgement most of all.  I fear not getting it right.  I fear my messy, imperfect self.

And yet, that is the main reason WHY I write.  Because I want to embrace her, in all her messy imperfection and learn that she is beautiful.  Right now.  No regrets.  No, “I’ll do that once I get this in order.” No, “This just isn’t the right stage of life for me to do this.” Now. In the thick of it.  Because I have 3 daughters and I want them to know that indeed, they can have both… motherhood and following their dreams.  It may not be glamorous, but possible?  Hell, yes.  And oh, so beautiful in the mess.  In the pj’s at the drop off line.

It’s 7:31… the bears are rousing and it’s time to start our day.

================================

And… we begin.