life

9.

Have you ever met people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their life? I have a friend who I met when we were just teenagers. It was so apparent to me he was meant to create music. I remember sitting in the music room where I pretended I could harmonize, watching my friend light up while he sang and went against the grain. It was so clear who he was going to be in that moment.

That same year, I spent an entire weekend forcing a thought on what I should do with my life. If I racked my brain any harder I’m sure I would’ve popped a blood vessel (it’s still up for debate if I did). All I could come up with was generic answers about changing the world. I was disappointed and frustrated in myself that I couldn’t figure it out.

A few years ago I had a particularly intense year of work and decided to take a solo vacation. (One of the perks of being a single working woman.) As an extrovert, taking a week to not talk to a soul was a new experience for me. My mind would wander most at night, when I’d sneak down to the beach and lay in the cool sand watching the moon shimmy behind the floating clouds. I wrote, and I thought a lot, hoping I’d get the answer to the question that still miffed me, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”

You never forget the moment the purpose giver speaks to the purposeful. It wasn’t a glamorous moment. In fact, I almost missed it. I had come from the bathroom to walk down the stairs to play a pick up game of volleyball when the thought brushed quietly through my mind – your greatest purpose is to love.

How simple? How broad? Isn’t that even cliché? I knew that I was to love, but when I stopped to really think about it I realized how revolutionary that thought was. My whole life I was looking for something totally different. I was looking for significance in doing something. Although if our purpose is to love, then being an artist, a mother, or a mayor is a way to express and give it. We certainly can do all those things that we are gifted at well, but without love we won’t feel fulfilled in our purpose. And who knows maybe you are so gifted, you may just change those avenues a few times in your lifetime.

Here’s the truth: Our purpose isn’t to prove the value of our existence by doing things. Our purpose is acknowledging the value of our existence by loving. At the end of my life, I don’t think I’ll ask if I got it all right, but I’m certain I’ll reflect back and wonder if I loved well.

 

x.

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Uncategorized

8.

I found myself slouched on the floor in my tiny bathroom sobbing while replaying the moment in my head over and over again. A friend of my family was in town speaking at a major event that evening. I made a point to go hear her, though I was exhausted from a long week with little sleep. At the end of the night, I worked up the nerve to go say hi, which meant I had to say hello to several people awkwardly just to get to her. By the time I made it to her, my anxiety was on high and my social cues were on low.

Unfortunately no one I said hello to was privy to the fact she was a close family friend, so when I asked her if she was pregnant as my opening line, they were dumbfounded. The family friend knew me well, so she laughed and saved the moment by asking me about my life. After 15 minutes of catching up I went to leave to see the group had disappeared.

Later, my friend who had tagged along with me told me how furious the event heads were at the situation and how awkward she felt. Needless to say, I was mortified. I knew my “uncouth statement” was the talk of the group by the looks and standoff nature I was getting in the weeks following.

I was devastated. Not only was my “people pleasing” bruised for disappointing people I valued, but I also didn’t know what to do when I felt hurt by people above me that I trusted. I was used to mentors sitting me down and asking what was going on in a conversation and seeing the best in me.

If they had just asked, they would’ve known she was family. If they had just asked, they would’ve known my stress and exhaustion from life was on overload. But they didn’t.

Instead, my heart hurt in a space I felt like I was supposed to feel safe. I was trying to keep a good heart, but the hurt would bubble up all over again when something new happened that wounded my heart.

It has taken time, but I’ll say I’ve learned a few things from those kind of moments.

I had to learn how to see leaders in their humanness. They are held to a high standard I couldn’t even uphold at times. The perspective that they are figuring out life just like I am, help me allot more grace towards them.

I had to learn how healthy and important boundaries are, especially as a people pleaser. It’s an addiction you know – people pleasing. It’s that urge to say ‘yes’ to not disappoint someone or tarnish their view of you. Creating boundaries according to conviction, kindness and intention goes a longer way than saying yes to everything. Something I am still learning.

The hardest thing I’ve had to learn was to let my heart break when it is hurt. I thought most of my life that if I just held it together, plastered on a smile and believed for the best, it would be just fine. But at some point you’re going to want to feel more than the dull simmer of just fine. It’s starts with facing wherever the pain is stuffed. Facing pain is apart of the process. It’s not a weakness. It’s not stepping backwards. Nor will it break you to a point of no return.

Here’s the truth: when you find grace for human nature, set healthy boundaries, and face your pain, you’ll find a healthier and freer you.

 

x.

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life

7.

It was the last quarter of the game and I was finally benched. With a burning foot, I realized tripping into my first high school basketball game didn’t just sprain my pride, but also my ankle. I’m not sure whether it was the somersault I did or, getting my foot caught in my pants while running full speed that did me in. All I knew was my foot had grown to “elephantiasis” status and turned purple. To make matters worse, we lost 39-0. You read that right. We didn’t score one point. How do you recover a loss like that and then explain you are on crutches because you tripped before the game? I think it was clear basketball wasn’t my sport.

Living in New York was the dream. I was enthusiastic about the new world I was about to enter. I graduated excitingly and  ran around applying for what seemed like countless job opportunities. After a few months I was over 80 applications deep and dozens of interviews in with a losing score of 80-0. That’s right, I didnt score one job. It felt like I had fallen and everyone who believed in me was watching. I didn’t know how to handle a sprained dream. They don’t sell crutches for those.

It took time for me to mourn the loss of my expectations. Once I did, the truth settled in – The dream may not be an accomplishment, but a confidence in the journey. I wasn’t unworthy of the dream, but maybe the dream looked different than I expected. I have had really incredible adventures that I couldn’t have even dreamed up even if I tried.

Over time the look of my dreams have changed, but so have I.  Now I leave space for the dreams to be free to form how they wish. I carve out space for growth and process so they stay alive. Every once in a while I look up and see I am living a dream; but even more, I see am winning because I stopped keeping score.

 

x.

 

 

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life

6.

You could not convince me that I was not a child prodigy growing up. By the time I was ten years old I had at least 3 full cassette tapes worth of songs I wrote on my own (quoted from my 6th grade school report). By twelve I had a designer line drawn out with accessories included. (Doc martins and clear plastic coats may have been in the line.) I was also a proficient speaker to thousands. Just ask all 12 of my stuffed animals and the other 988 imaginary friends. I knew I was bound for greatness at a young age. It was only a matter of time before this greatness was discovered. And by time, I meant any day.

Fast forward to my young twenties and I was not quite changing the world. In fact, I was barely experiencing the world I lived in. Reality looked more like I was dying a slow death at desk job I would have rather napped at than answer one more email. I thought I was destined for greatness, yet it felt like I was shortchanged to the 4 walls I lived in.

At twenty-five, it was time to finally change the world and find my souls destiny in New York City. I got accepted and excelled at my dream school – Parsons School of Design. Yet, after school, no one in the universe seemed to be privy that I was a prodigy waiting to happen. I entered the fashion world working in retail to make ends meat while being overworked in an unpaid internship from hell. With my dreams deflated by an industry I no longer loved; once again, I found myself at the crossroads of wanting to change the world and feeling shortchanged.

There were so many moments where I felt like the life I bought into was a lemon. I thought, if I was meant to be average, why did I have a desire to make a big difference in the world? There was a constant tension between trying to be satisfied where I was while still desiring to do great things. I have felt lost on many occasions in my life (mainly while driving), but never more lost than in that tension of in-between. You know, those moments that feel seemingly aimless, small or mundane.

Here’s the truth, we aren’t shortchanged from greatness, we are just seeds comparing ourselves to the oak trees we will becomeA seeds entire potential is packed in the smallest of forms. In fact, it cracks, breaks, and reforms constantly to become its destiny. You can never say what day or time a seedling became a tree. It wasn’t one sudden moment; it was a million small moments. Is a tree less in purpose when it’s small, or when its in winter with no leaves versus the days it’s in full bloom? I’d venture to say, no. Just the same, approaching the seed spaces; the moments that feel small, undefined, or broken are not short-changing us, but are purpose-filled, growing us into the greatness we were born to become. 

 

x.

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life

5.

I still remember the ice-cold, melt-your-soul, kind of rain in New York City. When I was in college I interned for a couture fashion label whose office was right by the river. It was frustrating to have to walk almost a mile to the subway with 40lb garment bags bigger than me. All while trying to balance an umbrella, which did nothing to save me from the rain falling sideways from the wind tunnels.

Trying to get a day right when everything is going wrong feels like moving a freight train bare-handed. What makes it even harder is being frustrated with yourself about not being able to change it. I’m learning that sometimes the most frustrating things we deal with (or people) have to do with what we want to change, but it’s not actually changeable in our hands.

I couldn’t change the rain or that it was pelting me sideways or that I threw away countless umbrellas’. I could quit but, I didn’t want to give up on the dream. So the only thing I could change was my perspective. Now I could say I could’ve changed my attitude; however, attitude is a direct reflection of the way we see things. So if we don’t change our perspective, then our attitude won’t move.

I’d like to tell you that after I changed my perspective it got easier and sunshine and rainbows followed; however, that isn’t real life. I had to be okay with it not being okay. Sometimes it’s a frustrating day, sometimes it a frustrating season.

So here is what I pass on to you. Give yourself grace. Not every day will be okay, and that’s okay. It really is, I promise. If it were meant to be perfect, you wouldn’t need tomorrow.

Once you breathe and give yourself grace, find a place that makes you happy and find a reason to laugh. Why? Because it’s so good for your heart. If your heart has happy beating through it, it adds color to those rainy days.

 

x.

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life

4.

It took me several seconds to decide if I was going to laugh or cry the moment my face hit the ground. I’d never fallen so dramatically in all of my life – especially over something so silly as getting my heel stuck in a crack. At 22 I decided to give college a try, while maintaining a full time job (that I was not so enthusiastic about). Lugging enough bags to title me “the bag lady,” I walked my usual route to the train after class. I didn’t know what happened until my bags and I were sprawled across the sidewalk in front of someone’s house at 10:30 at night. Walking into a stranger’s lawn to pick up my flip phone and the pieces of my dinner that fell out of the container, I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous that must’ve looked.

I laughed the entire ride home and laughed again when I told my co-workers. I re-enacted it several times just for the drama and laughed some more.

Looking back, it’s still one of my favorite stories to tell. Maybe because in that same time frame, I put so much pressure on myself to get my life together that there was no grace or space for cracks or falls. I was juggling school, work, trying to be healthy, starting my first fashion show, and to top it off, battling exhaustion.

Taking the fall relieved the pressure of perfection and laughter was medicine to my pride. Being human, it’s only a matter of time before we fall. (And truthfully, who walks a mile in heels? Not me anymore.) The story ended well. I still walked everyday back to the train, and giggled every time I passed the scene of the crime.

Here’s the truth: taking a fall is inevitable, but being able to laugh when you get up is invaluable.

x.

 

p.s. Remind me to tell you about the time I tripped on my pants running to get to my first basketball game and sprained my ankle in front of the huge crowd…

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Love

3.

Did you ever play hide and seek when you were little? I was the worst at playing the game. I got too antsy in my hiding spots and always gave myself away. Playing as an adult, I became more stealth in my hiding steak-outs. I was playing with a load of kids recently knowing I had the upper hand. I had the best spot in the house – the broom closet. I knew they would never remember it was there, plus I scored a seat on one of the shelves. Several minutes go by and then a few more continued to drag along. The hallway was too quiet, so I peaked my head out to see if they were coming. No. They were playing tag in the living room. Apparently they gave up their search and moved on without me. I thought I was winning the game, when really; I was the idiot sitting in a dark closet by myself.

Dating can be like the game of hide and seek. We want to be found, but we also want to hide our heart so it doesn’t get hurt. Growing up in church we were always told to “guard our heart.” I think it became a personal competition to see who could hide their heart the best. Some of us are so good at hiding we forgot we are supposed to be found.

I am the first person to admit I have been a winner at hiding my heart, and have lost a lot of opportunities because I didn’t let anyone find it. Pride welled up that I had successfully been single, but sometimes it felt like I’d been sitting in a dark closet peaking my head out 30 years later wondering where my rescuer has been. Church girl or not, winning the game of hiding can be proving our fear of being found. Truly being found is authentically being real. Maybe we aren’t hiding all of us, but parts of us. And maybe it’s not for a man, but relationships with people. Those are the same areas that crave to be found and loved.

Brené Brown ruined my hiding spot when she said vulnerability is true confidence. It may be messy and scary and at times it feels exposing, but it’s real. I’ve traveled the world, jumped out of boats into the sea, lived in crazy places and lived on a dime, but I realized the grander scale of courage is in being found. Letting our crevices be seen unadulterated and loving with all of us.

The truth is, there is something so magical about being found. Knowing someone is searching for us. I’ve learned it’s not going to be a rescuer of perfection, but by people who are searching to be found as well.

x.

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