To Strengthen and Soften (1.17.19)


Phew! I feel like I really need to get a blog post out about how my heart and head feels. My friend, Katrina, and I have a running joke that goes a little something like “2019 …. keeping me humble.” (Because – it truly is.)

I feel like I always end a year grasping at straws, which is a little discouraging and dark, but it’s just an honest way of describing what happens to me as fall turns to winters and work deadlines get tighter, life gets busier, and the lines across budget spreadsheets get fuzzy with Christmas presents and travel plans. It’s a lot of anxiety-sparking little electrical fires that seem to pop up throughout the gloomy, cold days of October to December, and while I take a little reprieve in the sweet, sweet truths of the holiday season, I feel a bit of emotional burn out come January 1.

Maybe it’s my winter blues, my Capricorn heart, or just my humanness, but I always find this emotional spiral tugging at me – getting caught on a thread of my comfiest knit sweater and pulling me backwards this time of year. It’s sticky and frustrating and leaves me a little down.

This year, I think it’s been change – and the wanting for change.

Cameron and I got engaged at the end of September…basically early October because that’s when we got home and actually shared the news with the world. 20 days later, we moved and I became a rent paying, closet organizing, “why-do-the-dishes-never-end” whirlwind of a human buzzing to solve each little puzzle piece that presented itself in this new season of life. And all the while, I was entering into a new, recovered version of myself which has brought so much joy, but also a lot of differentness and other-ness that can be unsettling.

While I found joy in new plants and the sun-soaked corners of a new home – an oasis from the hustle and bustle – it was (and is) hard to feel like I could take a deep breath. I’ve always got my jaw clenched and my shoulders up to my ears as if the sound of the other shoe dropping has paralyzed me indefinitely.

taken after we decided on our wedding venue

Wedding planning is humbling. Becoming a family is humbling. Finding a work-life balance is humbling. And I can be a very prideful human who wants to have it all figured out before the sun comes up.

So maybe that’s where it all started for me: the planning and creating and conceptualizing of something that isn’t yet there, but needs to be fully polished and ready before the time comes. Our wedding, which will usher in a whole new story in our book.

We had a really hard time finding a church to be married in with our desired date and also, a venue that didn’t cost the price of our college tuitions combined. It hasn’t ever been in our hearts to have a huge wedding with all the bells and whistles, but we also didn’t want to skimp. We want a beautiful day that can beautifully serve the people who’ve loved us these past 8 years, and it was hard to find the right path for that.

Typing this, it seems like such small change. Boohoo. You’re getting married and it’s hard to find the right photographer or pick a dress. It’s more – I know that, and I wish I could articulate it as such, but I think it was really just the dawning of a new day while being very much busy in our current ones.

Wedding planning is happening during work’s busy season for both of us. I don’t think we were even aware that we’d be so busy in the Fall/Winter, so it has taken us by surprise and left us breathless at times. In the beginning of our engagement a couple months ago, there were weeks where I felt like we got to say 3 sentences to each other before falling asleep and each managed maybe a mumbled greeting in the morning. Not out of lack of trying or prioritizing, but just simply because of the current we were riding with life. Being two busy individuals who thrive off quality time and meaningful communication, this was a downer as well.

The holidays swept us up with much sparkle and bits and baubles and pies, and I saw November and December flash before my eyes. Almost like sitting on a train that’s not moving and watching the one next to you begin to speed off and having to really ask yourself, “Am I moving to or simply allowing myself to feel moved by all of this?” The jury is still out.

January has come around and it always feels like New Years and my birthday are 30 seconds apart. That was a little struggle for us, too, as we wanted to make my birthday special (on the 11th), but Cam had been traveling 2-3 days each week for 2-3 weeks in a row and we couldn’t collaborate well on a plan. It all came together in the end and I had about 12 loving people over to see me into year 23 with chicken nuggets and Chantilly cake, so I really wouldn’t have had it any other way.

And then even since 23, I’ve already experienced anxiety, loss, confusion, desperation, depression, joy, sadness, impatience, rejoicing, and more conflicting emotions that leave me tired, headache-y, and make my heart feel like hard, melted candle wax. I’m trying to have patience with myself and to help myself understand the truths of my life and my existence, in order to put in perspective any hard feelings I may have about the “right now”.

My devotional this morning read something along the lines of:

“Stay in constant communication with Christ, so that you may be able to live above your circumstances even while you’re in the midst of them.”

That is my only – and only true necessary – saving grace. To keep my eyes fixed on God and understand that He is making things move in my life for the right and best reasons. I love the line about living above my circumstances because I am someone who takes a bad circumstance and instantly feels weighted down – whether it’s struggling with wedding planning, being stressed and exhausted, or just not getting along with someone. If it’s bad, it gets me down, and I’d like to challenge myself to see the beauty in these struggles – an opportunity to trust God more soundly and to rise above what is in my present midst.

If you don’t see it like I do when it comes to faith, I don’t think you’re to be counted out of this narrative. We can all take the trials we are given in life and view them as opportunities – to be kinder, to pursue something you’ve always wanted to.

In yoga, when we are in pigeon pose (my most challenging pose because of my horrible hips, lol) my instructor, Bailey, always takes the last few breaths of that pose to say, “Take these last few moments to either soften or strengthen something.” She means that we have a choice to challenge ourselves and push deeper or, if our bodies need us to ease up, we can let go a little bit and just let gravity have it’s way.

I think about that a lot right now. Softening or strengthening. There’s no wrong choice in these circumstances. If I am stressed out I can soften (take it easy, take a break, go to bed early, read a book instead of working late) or I can strengthen (view it as an opportunity to count my blessings that I have opportunities in my life, even if they are stressful at times, and use it as a moment to trust either my own intuition or the one I believe God instills in me to push through.)

The real, joyful version of these struggles is that I am doing well. So much healthier, so much happier than a year ago. We are making a lot of progress with wedding planning as we have a date, a church, a venue, and I have been asking my bridesmaids/MOH over the past couple of days! I even get to have dinner with a florist next week.

I have a house, I have a job, I have really great people to be my people. I have a lot. I have more than I have wanted in many areas of my life.

So I am looking at the struggles as opportunities, asking myself to soften and strengthen, and taking deep breaths when I feel a little tensed by it all.