Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slowly, ever so slowly….

Sometimes your story isn’t the Legends of the Fall or Last of the Mohicans, or God forbid, The Notebook.  It isn’t extravagant and wild -dancing in a thunderstorm.  It doesn’t come with a flash and a bang like fireworks exploding in a summer night sky.  Sometimes it doesn’t overwhelm you, suffocate you, and flood your being.  No… sometimes it comes slowly… creeping steadily into the facets of your normal everyday… filling in cracks of time that you didn’t know were vacant… taking up your Friday nights, weekend afternoons and your days.  It comes in the form of cooking meals together after work.  Running errands.  Going to the gym.  Watching a Redbox on the couch.  Doing yardwork.  Normal  life... 

And one day you realize that your time and thoughts and even heart have been infiltrated … and it doesn't look anything like you thought it would. 

Does anything look like we thought it would?

Finding your purpose?  Building your Career?  Meeting your someone?  Making a difference?  Raising a family?  Do any of our ambitions pan out the way we expected?  No… often, it is harder, messier, and more rewarding than any of our fairy tale dreams.

And that is life: a slow, unraveling story different and better than your most cherished expectations.  Sometimes it drags and you don’t know what the Author is doing or thinking.  You want to shout: “Get to the point already!  What is happening with these characters?!  Where is this story going?!!”   You want to put it down and pick up something more stimulating.  You want suspense and drama!  You desire heated romance and death defying feats.  You turn to other things looking for your cravings to be met… but when you remain unsatisfied, you concede and pick up the story again.  And what you get is the steady revealing of dynamic characters whose end is unclear and to whom anything is possible.
There are days (many in fact) where I wish I could read the Sparks Notes on my life- where I wish I could skip to the synopsis and see, in a glance, the beginning, middle and end.  Just to know.  But there is something lifegiving about the uncertainty. The maybe’s and possibilities.   Especially when I know and trust the Author.  I have faith in His ability to write a worthy and excellent story.  He is not a novice writer fumbling with paper and pen.  He is the Great Storymaker.  And I am blessed to be a character written on to the pages of His grand tale. 


And so, I take heart.  When life is uncertain and feels monotonous and dull… when I don’t know the next turn in the plot or how long I’ll be walking down this dusty, barren road… when I wonder “Where is this story going?!” and lose interest …  I remember: Sometimes the best things come slowly… and I patiently (and painfully) pick myself back up and try to turn another page.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

to new heights

Half Dome:  /haf dōm/ (noun/verb)  a 16 mile, 4,800 ft elevation change, granite stair stepping hike past 900 feet of waterfalls concluding in 400 vertical feet of gnarly-hold-on-for-your-life cable climbing excitement in the heart of Yosemite Valley.


 The hike was arduous to say the least... with multiple moments where I wished/prayed/pleaded for a piggy back ride or a mule to come and transport me to the top.   The steps pounded my knees and ankles.  The elevation change left little oxygen to fill my lungs.  The trail felt endless.  At one point, in the middle of the evil sub-dome steps of death (as they shall always be referred to), I dejectedly sat on a rock and conceded that the stupid mountain had won... to which I was quickly ordered to get up and get moving by my faithful support squad!

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to throw up or throw in the towel... But I wanted to make it.  I may have slowed to an almost glacial pace and stopped for a breather every 2-3 minutes (with faithful friends by my side)... but like the tortoise or little blue engine, I tried to keep plugging along.  And eventually, after what felt like an eternity...and after so many kind encouragements and affirmations that its ok to rest sometimes...  I made it.

I battled more than steps, elevation, and fatigue along the way... I came face to face with some very real, very ugly personal demons.  Ones that told me I'm not good enough, fit enough, fast enough, slim enough, active enough, outdoorsy enough... that whispered maniacally into my head that I was dead weight and my group would be better off without me, snarled insults about my body and told me to quit, turn around, go home.  Insults quickly spun out of control, encompassing almost every shortcoming, fear or inadequacy in my life.  The hike was hard, but the strain didn't feel proportional to the sharp pokes from these devious gremlins.

But now that these vile insults have fully surfaced, I can look them in the eye and figure out what to do with them.  How to fight them.  How to rise above them.  I'll tell ya one thing, they look a lot smaller and weaker from the top of 8,835'.

I am grateful to have this little accomplishment under my belt.  To look back and think, ya... we did that!  Sure, my feet felt like raw hamburger and I was almost unable to move the next day... but its done. and it was great.  and I'm proud of it.  And the views... oh... the veiws.  Breathtaking. Unbelievable.  Holy.  I was awed and overpowered by my surroundings.  I'm starting to understand this granola eating, nature-loving, wilderness hiker thing that people do.  It is powerful and enriching to the soul.

I went to have some fun, see some trees, and climb a rock.  Needless to say, I got much more than I bargained for...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Echos from Brooklyn

Shhhh don't tell... but I may have a ridiculous crush on this "wild and wily brunette" out in Brooklyn whose writing echos the thoughts that are tucked deep away in my soul. I read her words and a breath of knowing escapes my lips... and I mutter..."YES!... exactly!!"  Her words are real and poetic and heartfelt and gruesome... and the truest of true.

I never liked blogs... I never understood them.  I thought it was strange that people had weird attachments to people they had never known or met.  It seemed incongruous to post deeply personal things out there in the abyss and be connected to people you'd never met through their own distant scribblings...

But as I once heard, and am learning more and more to be true, the most personal is often the most universal.

As a tribute to my new found love for blogs and the personal stories that strangers expose for the betterment of those lucky enough to stumble across their strong and satisfying words.... here is an excerpt from the 'bombshell':

"So say yes. To coffee in the morning. Or tea. When he asks you for a second time, after you've already said no, you should be getting home, please just say yes. It may amount to nothing. It may be just what it is, a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. Or it may be the beginning of everything. Say yes to the shower offered. Say yes to a man's fumbling attempt at kindness. Say yes to saying what you're afraid to say. Say yes to being bold and appearing uncool and revealing just how deep you're in it. Say yes to the full power of your femininity--to the full extent with which you're capable of love. Let him pull you in close  and nestle in the slope of his neck. Kiss him that second time even if he's already late and rushing out that door. Make him a little bit later. Say yes to what is so damn pregnant with potential that it utterly terrifies you. Say yes to anything that might count as experience or adventure--even if the adventure at hand is navigating the long, grueling road of heartbreak. Say yes to letting the guy help you get the dresser in the apartment--self-suffiencieny don't make you more of a woman and it doesn't protect you from the good, the bad, the ugly. Accept love when you want to accept it, accept help when you can, and accept that it'll be the second photo--the one you didn't plan for--that'll give a certain shape and meaning to everything that comes after."  

Amelie Introductions

A couple years ago my very creative and awesome friend wrote this lovely post about Amelie and her ability to bring a character to life via a quirky description of their likes and dislikes.  Though brief, these odd-balled introductions capture more of the true essence of the characters.

Using this idea as a stepping stone, I present Blog Challenge #4 -

"15 Things You Should Know About Me: An Amelian introduction to Aubrey"

  1. I prefer salty to sweet, unless its ice cream. Ice Cream trumps everything
  2. I often make up my own words… and facts
  3. I bake bread in a lime green Chantal Dutch Oven
  4. I prefer political intrigue to any other movie genre
  5. I don’t really care for apples, oranges, grapes or bananas
  6. I despise group planning
  7. I can only drink milk if its ice cold and accompanied by cookies
  8. I prefer jewel tones over brights- except in office supplies
  9. I got my first coach purse for Christmas this year- and finally feel like a grown up
  10. I would rather spend money on food than entertainment, but I’d chose travel over both
  11. I prefer tulips or ranunculus over roses
  12. Owning a piano makes me feel musical the way owning a kitchen-aid makes me feel like a chef and having tall bookshelves makes me feel scholarly
  13. I clean my house frantically before guests arrive (and rarely any other time)
  14. I’d pick a Gin over Champagne
  15. I’m not necessarily a “morning person” but I feel compelled to wake up cheerfully

Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning it can't be Learned

If you know me… you may know the 4 little words that have been attributed as my unofficial mantra. 

“Say it with Confidence” 

If you don’t know, make something up and say it with confidence
If you might be wrong, but think you’re right, just say it with confidence
If you absolutely know you are right… by all means, say it with confidence.  (catching the gist?)

I remember my parents trying to drill the words “in my opinion” into my vocabulary.  Trying desperately to teach me to not state opinion or whim as cold hard fact.

I remember being in class and unable to stand the silence of an unanswered question.  My fingers would tap, my feet fidget… I would try as long as possible to hold back (seconds would feel like eternity) until finally, when I could stand the uncomfortable silence no longer, I would raise my hand in relief, and confidently answer the question. 

I hate when things go unanswered…

We’re supposed to learn as we go:
Writing, Reading, Arithmetic. 
Driving.  Dating.  Breakups.
Laundry.  Making your own meals and balancing your own budget. 
Resumes.  Bills.  Taxes… 

Most things come with age and experience.  Some take longer than others… (Boundaries).  Some lessons feel like you may never learn them…(Humility).  We acquire answers and knowledge in a multitude of places in a myriad of ways.  Our questions will eventually get answered… right?

I am a learner.  I love stuffing my brain full of tid-bits of information like a piñata full of candy.  I hate when I don’t know something. I will google it on the spot or make something up until I can research it later.  I must have an answer to give.  And in most things I can wear this “I know all things mask” and get by.  I can do a quick wiki search and find the ingredients in that “Army Navy” cocktail or tell you how to replace your rear brake pads.  I’m really good at finding the answers I need.  I’m really good at Learning.

But what happens when there are no answers. When it can’t be found out there in the wonderful world wide web.  When I can’t learn my way through it.

That… That is the hardest lesson.  That not everything has an answer.  That not everything can be learned.  Some things are just…. uncomfortable, sticky, mean, grey anomalies.   

In my 27 years I’ve learned a lot (and forgotten much too).   But the most challenging lesson I wish I had learned earlier is that in reality there are limits to learning.  There are things without answers.  There are difficult “Why’s” that I desperately desire to resolve.  There are reasons and rationales that slip into that much loathed “mystery” file.   

I still hate not knowing. 
Some lessons you learn and some answers you find one day.                                                                                                      And some you can only hold lightly and pray that the unknowning doesn’t crush you.

I wish I had known that earlier.