Adventure in Phrasing

A thing about my life is that there are a lot of words I don’t like. And words that I think have gross meanings or make me think of gross things or things I simply don’t like. No, I’m talking about the words out there in the world that I think are gross to hear. Many of you will relate to this when you hear the word “moist.” For me, it’s a lot about the way a word feels when I hear it. The way the letters add up in my head. Alphabetic calculations. Some of the other ones also come from when I say them. How they feel in my mouth as they come across my tongue and exit my lips on their journey to destroy my ears. “Jiggle” is high on this list. I won’t give you more of them. It’s too risky. But everything about “jiggle” feels gross in my head and my mouth and saying and hearing them makes me hate everything. Usually they make me gag. There are over 200 of these words. Over. 200.

That’s a lot of negativity. A lot of reactionary negativity. Soooo here is a very short list of four words or phrases that I keep falling in love with and why I love them. Are you reeeeady? You’re not, is the lie I’m telling myself to make sure I feel good and important.

Fainthearted:
it seems to so often perfectly express my weariness from life. less “all of the sadness in my soul,” and more “all of the fatigue that soul sadness brings.”

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 12:3

Tenderhearted:
tenderness is severely under-appreciated and under-acknowledged. when was the last time you noted something tender? when was the last time i did? not quiet and sweet. straight-up tender. a quiet, gentle, tender spirit. that’s what i want. (i don’t have one even a little)

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of god, by who you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,  forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:25-32

in my bones:
our bones are our structure. they hold us up. to feel something so deeply one feels it in one’s bones is to feel it in one’s stability and structure. to feel it in your framing. to feel it within your marrow. your essence.

O LORD, you have deceived me,
and I was deceived;
you overpowered me
and prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all the day;
everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I cry out,
I shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the LORD has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:7-9

and now for something completely different.

My fellow Americans:
        this phrase, i don’t know who first said it, who first wrote it for a president, but that person was a genius. what a beautiful phrase. it says to the population “i too am one of you. i am in this too. we’re all the same.” i should really research that.

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Adventure in Losing Myself

Let’s take a minute and just breathe. I need to. Pulse. Breathe. Pulse. Pulse. This one is a heavy one for me. I’m asking you to breathe with me, because I need to do it, and some times things are easier as a team. Okay. Here we go.

When I was younger, I’d some times wake up not being sure where I was. If I slept in the bed a different way than I usually did, I wouldn’t know where I was. Or if it was darker than normal. Or lighter. or too hot. or too cold. Many factors, or no factors, could contribute to my confusion. “I’m in my bed at mom and dad’s. No. Grammy and grandpa’s. no. Nana and papa/s. No. Wait. Am I in a bed?” I mostly kept this information to myself. It didn’t seem like the sort of thing one s supposed to share, so mostly, I didn’t.

Eventually, I’d figure out where I was, and my mind would settle.

Last year, it happened on a grander scale. I may have written about it. I don’t remember, which would make sense. Last year one day, I needed to go to Walgreens. There’s not a Walgreens in my neighborhood; I’m fully aware of that. I was fully aware then. Nonetheless, I drove in a circle for over half an hour looking for something I knew didn’t exist. I drove and drove. I let Erica know what was going on in my head. It seemed like someone should know, in case I got lost. Which was possible. I knew I was thinking of the Walgreens near my apartment in Indy, but I drove and I drove. Finally, I ended up at a Walmart, because all roads lead there. I wandered and kept Erica apprised of my actions. Then something worse happened. At the time I was still working at yogurt, and I ran into one of my kids from work. I saw her a few times a week. I knew her. I knew I knew her. I stared and stared and couldn’t think of her name or who she was or why I knew her. I only knew that I was supposed to. I followed her around the store, because it’s what you do when you’re at a store and you run into someone you know. I bet. She left, and I made my way home. I think I bought things. I don’t know why I did that. What I needed was at Walgreens.

The year wore on. Alice increased and decreased. Monday Alice was bad. My brain was bad. Then yesterday happened. I woke up and had no idea where I was. Then, I did something stupid, I guess. I listened to the Arnold Schwarzenegger episode of Nerdist Podcast. That’s what I think ultimately broke my brain. Outside of thinking how amazing his goal oriented drive was, my brain also kept thinking it was about 1990. It was not. I assure, yesterday morning it was not 1990. Not 1988. Not 1992. Yesterday morning it was as 2014 as it is now.

I went to work. “It’ll go away,” I kept assuring myself. “It always goes away.” The day went on. “What day is it?” I stood up twice to say something to Justin. Justin my boss from Indy. He no longer works on the other side of my cube wall, because I no longer work for Justin. I slid my chair back at least once to call over to Devin and show him something. Devin doesn’t work in Indy anymore either. We don’t work together. We haven’t for a couple of years. I went to Target with my mom and was convinced I was at my Target in Indy. “I should stop by that Marshall’s on the way home before it’s gone forever.” It is gone forever. Moreover, I don’t have a car, AND driving to Indy to a Marshall’s would be so inconvenient.

I walked home fine, waging my war against the wind. I could see exactly where I was. I knew my exact position on the planet when I got home, and still the feeling grew. I explained what was happening again to Erica and to Rachel and concluded that perhaps a walk would clear my head. Then I instantly changed my mind because I knew I’d get lost. I went to Henry’s. I sat quietly by myself and wrote in my journal to Joel, forcing myself to try to explain it.

A few pages later I wrote thing. (it’s important to remember that Brian is what I call my brain)

“It’s broken. I thought it was just Alice, but this isn’t Alice. Something is wrong with Brian. Something is wrong with Hayley, and Hayley means me.

It won’t rest. It won’t settle. Make it stop. I don’t even know how to explain it to you. It hurts. It genuinely hurts my head. But it also feels like when a limb goes to sleep. All tingles and pain.”

I wrote myself directions home in my journal to Joel. I wrote directions to walk four blocks. i called Jared back. He picked me up.

Eventually I fell asleep, but there’s no knowing when it will happen again.

I only know that when I woke up today, I knew where I was, but wasn’t convinced that I didn’t simply dream an entire horrible Tuesday.

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Adventure in Moleskine

I’ve always been dreadful at filling notebooks completely. I don’t do a lot of things well in that way. But once in college I filled an entire journal. I forced myself to write in it every day. It was bleak. The end result was bleak.

But something about a Moleskine, this Moleksine, has made me faithful. It’s the second one I’ve ever filled completely. Almost two full years (short by a mere two weeks), and as it has come to the end of its journey, I offer you several of the trinkets in it that stick out to me. May they serve you as they serve me.

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This Sunday I crack open my Moleskine with the sketch of Smaug on the cover, and a new adventure shall begin. A Moleskine befitting Resurrection Sunday.

Adventure in Strength

strength

(some times, even I don’t understand my neighborhood)

Let’s be clear. I’m a weak lady. People are far too generous when they tell me they think I’m strong. I’m here to tell you that I am not. Not really. I’m a persistent person. I’m an independent person. Ya know what? I’m well-practiced. Let’s call it that. Can we?

I am not strong. I am easily manipulated, particularly through guilt. I am quick to relinquish power. I have multiple times found myself in dangerous situations and thought, “yeah. Of course, this is happening. And this will be how I die. That’s fine.” I survive, because I’m supposed to. Not because of anything I’m doing. Every day that I am alive is not because I woke up and said, “Ah yes, I shall live on.” I never make that decision. That decision makes me. No. That’s dumb. And not true.

Here’s what it is. Here is why I continue on.

A few years ago, I finally started to get the wherewithal to recognize that I needed prayer. not just “oooh stuff is bad. I need prayer.” I mean, okay, that’s where it came from, but soon I started recognizing that that was something I needed all of the time. So I started asking for it, and would in return offer prayer for those individuals as well.

*That has value. Please, don’t misunderstand me on this. Having others pray for you is important. Praying for others is important. These are intrinsic to strengthening the body of Christ.*

What I didn’t learn, or learn to embrace and then practice, until about a year ago was one very important thing. Hear me. Please. It is not selfish to pray for yourself. It is imperative. Open communication with the Father about your needs, fears, pains, victories. All of it. Let me tell you, from my own personal experience though, having others pray for me to understand and have peace, strength, be surrounded by hope? Is virtually useless if I am not also admitting to God that I need those things. It’s one thing to say to a friend “I am broken here. Please pray for me that it can be repaired.” It is something else entirely to say to a friend “please pray with me in this brokenness.” AND to take that brokenness and say “Father, I know it’s broken. Help me fix it. Fix it.” It’s easy to admit to those who don’t already know and can’t fully understand “oh this is broken.” One, because you don’t ever have to be completely honest in that. Two, because they can’t fully comprehend it with you. It’s hard to admit to the one who actually gets it and already knows, but wants to hear you say “I know you know, but hear me out.”

Ultimately, it’s taking actual responsibility for your head and your heart, your spirit. Anything else is really shirking that responsibility. Not always. I know that. Some times it is impossible. It is impossible to say what you need to say to God. Some times all that comes out is a string of expletives that would not only make you sound like you just murdered a pirate, but also probably embarrass your mother that you even knew all of those words. He wants those too.

Pray is our greatest strength. Christ is my only strength.

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Adventure in Concussion

By nature I am not what one would want to call graceful. I’m clumsy. Stupid clumsy. I don’t know if it really happened more than once, but I have multiple memories of walking behind the glider on our swing set and getting knocked square in the face. In my head this happened a lot. I played tag so hard once that I tripped and fell and smashed up my face. I ripped my shoulder throwing bags at the airport. I broke my foot at work by dropping a box on it. The night before we left for a volleyball tournament in grade 8 I jumped up to the net for a block and came back down on my ankle. Not the side of my foot. My ankle.

I’m scarred beyond recognition. Okay, that’s not true, but there are parts of me I hide because of scarring. That’s true on a mental/emotional level as well. I’m scarred. I’m clumsy with my head and my heart and my body. To be fair, I think some of the body issues are related to my tiny feet.

But Sunday, I got roped into hosting one of our open mic nights. I hate hosting things. I do. My brain doesn’t have fun with it. It goes right into business mode. “Must keep the time. Must pay attention.” But as the first act went up, I’m told, I was walking on a booth bench, and I hit my head on a thick, wooden crossbeam. I filled in the gaps and determined it was the top of my head. I know that because that’s where the bump is. And the cut. *It’s important that you know I don’t remember because of adrenaline and head hitting reasons. No alcohol was involved in the making of this concussion.* That night I didn’t really sleep, which was probably good. The next day I took a sick day, which was also probably good.

Semi-related, it’s important (it’s not important) that I tell you I love the word “concuss.” It’s easily my favorite verb. I am concussed.

Now though, I find myself sort of off. I think hitting my head knocked something loose. All day yesterday my Alice in Wonderland Syndrome was in full force. No warning, no bracing. Pure brain noise. It never quieted. I just had to deal with it and move forward. I woke up this morning around 3 a.m. in a full panic. From the moment I fell asleep until the moment I woke up I was chased by nightmares. Nightmares aren’t uncommon in my life. I’m quite prone to them. I blame them on an overactive imagination. But these weren’t normal ones, if that’s a thing. These have left me with my heart still racing 9 hours later. Now my brain is whirring with fears in my sleep and the nonsense of my own personal, less-than-wonderful Wonderland.

Maybe some day I’ll wake up.

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Adventure in Silence

Because of my mounting stress when things start to get chaotically loud. Because of my inability to distinguish brain from reality. Because some times I can’t handle the pressure. I don’t like loud noises. My brain sort of collapses within them. My office has a tendency to become one enormous din.

Last week I was offered a few new tasks to my job, which was timely because I’ve been running out of things to do. One of them though, takes place every Wednesday afternoon, and all alone. On Wednesday I leave the building and go into this dank room where sadness lives. And I surround myself with stacks upon stacks of files. For as long as it takes, I organize them. By time. By last name. By peace. By silence. By calm. By no thought other than. 9. 9. 9:30. 10:30. 10. B. L. S. M. 10:30. No distractions. No room for my mind to wander. As long as it takes. As long as I need. Calm.

This is a blessing, because I’ve been trying to take a part out of every day to be silent. I’m bad at this. I’m bad at shutting my brain down and listening to God. Now, the endless waves of the file ocean lulls me to a peaceful attentiveness, and it’s just me and him.

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Adventure in Accidental Hobby

Since I’ve moved downtown I’ve spent a lot more of my time wandering. Last summer and autumn I found myself fascinated by something that used to be so commonplace. To be fair, they still are commonplace. Most of us just don’t need them anymore.

I think that’s why I love them. They started as a joke to me, because I’m a bad human who relishes my wealth too much. But as it happens I fell in love. They seem irrelevant, and they aren’t. I’ve started collecting them. It’s the only way I can describe it. I appreciate, but never add any pictures of them sent to me by friends. If a friend sees one, and thinks of me, I appreciate the thought, but never share it. This is an organic and personal project. If you’ve been in the car with me when I’ve seen one you know how weirdly important it is to me. I’ll yell, and if I’m driving slam on the brakes. I gasp so loudly you”ll think you’re about to die. I have to get them. It’s a part of me. I’m starting in Fort Wayne. I’ve seen them other places, but until I’m satisfied with what I’ve found at home I will not branch out.

Nothing breaks my heart more than a shell. An empty shell. It tricks me and tears my heart out. I only ever collect an empty shell if I find it near a filled shell.

With that knowledge. Here they are. I don’t know which ones work. I never test them. I never change the scene. I take them as they are, as I hope people take me.

 

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Adventure in Restructuring

Here’s the thing about human interaction. It has both positive and negative impacts. I can spend time with really any sort of person, even the sort that drives me bonkers from their incessant talking.

(And I know you know, I’m saying it for my own sake, to remind me. Sorry, things are getting selfish.)

The thing is that some times you can spend time with people you absolutely love, and they sort of destroy your soul because they take credit for your work. And you’re forgiving. Or because they really love to destroy their own lives and you don’t even bother to do anything to stop them. Not because you don’t care, but because they don’t care and being in their life has made you indifferent to everything. Because it’s easy to just let whatever happens happen. Because you lose your will to say “no.” Or you forget to focus on Christ and maintain a Kingdom mindset. You forget to love people well.

But there are people in the world that you spend time with that challenge you. That push you. Without even meaning to. They’re just having conversations with you and living life with you, and you just naturally pursue being a better version of yourself. You find yourself signing up with several organizations to volunteer. You find yourself actively working to maintain focus and constantly alter your perspective. You find yourself being less selfish. You find yourself loving life more. You find yourself loving people better. You find yourself working on the things you love and working hard at them. You find yourself working hard on things you don’t care about. You find that everyone is important, and you want them all to know how important they are.

People are so important. Voices are so important.

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Adventure in Misery or Sadness Takes a Holiday

Disclaimer: Some day I may have the strength or presence of mind to fully explain the back story for this, but for now embrace a big dose of vague. You’re welcome, I know how specificity irks you so.

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Lately, things have been strange. Downright odd.

This particular week is, generally speaking, a very hard week for me. This week every year. Among other very painful things, the father of a dear old friend of mine died this week when we were but freshmen in high school. This week is riddled with similar painful reminders.

In previous years I’ve let the pain of the week just wash over me. I’ve allowed myself to wallow and suffer and drown. To barely keep my head above water. To take in whatever I needed to stay alive, if I must, but otherwise sink. And sink hard.

A recent conversation, or series of conversations, has left me admitting one very powerful thing about myself to myself. I love misery. It’s disgusting how comfortable I find it. I thrive in misery. I also love to be the martyr. Try not to be surprised. I bet you are. I put misery on like a baggy sweatshirt and yoga pants in front of the TV for an entire week. I curl up inside it like I’m Luke Skywalker, and it is my toasty, dead tauntaun. Like…no, enough similes. that’s a hard thing to shake though. It’s hard letting go of something that’s been such an enormous part of my identity for so long. If I’m terribly honest with you, I’ve let it be my identity for a very long time. And that’s messed up. That’s gross. That’s disgusting. It genuinely disgusts me.

What troubles me is now I find myself in a healthy place, and still I try to find that misery. Peace is weirdly uncomfortable for me. Still. It shouldn’t be. It should be my comfort in these trying times. It, by nature, is comfort, and I can’t seem content in that. It makes me so uneasy. While it is true that there is no need for hope or grace, if we aren’t broken and torn and hopeless, that doesn’t mean we should ignore hope and grace when it’s there. And it’s there. It’s here. It’s everywhere.

Instead of dwelling in my own self-produced disasters, I should be reveling in grace. I should be overcome with joy from the moment I wake up, because I’m being constantly repaired and constantly renewed. When I go to sleep, when I am asleep, I am renewed. We are renewed.

Any claim I hold on misery, is my head and heart screaming, “no thanks, Jesus. I got this one. I can save me.” Joke’s on me. I cannot.

“You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things.” Stephen Chbosky Perks of Being a Wallflower

These songs have been pouring through my head and heart the last month or so.