Trust is a fickle little thing

I’m coming upon some big life experiences: things are going well in the AIA, I’m trying to navigate my career, and I’m buying a house. You heard me right – a house. All by myself.

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That’s not actually the point of this post, though. It’s just a piece of it. You see, the big things make you BE big. You have to act like a grownup because…well…the real world doesn’t take kindly to throwing toys, much less temper tantrums.

These big things, though? They also have a way of making you play it safe. They frighten you into doing the thing that ruffles the least amount of feathers. They keep you in a bad situation out of fear. A mortgage, a car payment, a family. They’re all things to answer to and answer for. And sometimes the fastest answer is the least frightening one. Because let’s face it, it takes a lot to stand up and push for better when you might have good enough (or something bad that keeps the rest of life comfortable).

I’m moving through this process right now in a lot of ways. And tonight I realized just how much I’ve grown over the last couple months.

I’ve been given a lot of opportunities in the last couple months at the moments I needed them most. Some of them have continued to grow and provide fruit, and some of them appear to only have been temporary. I still learned from them, and I will continue to try to do so, but I sense that opportunity to learn is quickly ending. I’ve been praying about what the right move looks like, that I might be shown the path.

Today I got an option to that path and I’m struggling with it a little bit. It has become increasingly clear to me that a part of my career path has provided as much fruit as it ever will and from this point will only continue to rot (to continue with the fruit metaphor). This new option would provide me ample learning opportunity from people I know and respect, but currently cannot promise to be long term. I’m struggling with waiting it out in a bad environment while hoping something better comes along – and taking the leap of faith and learning as much as possible in the time I am provided while hoping it turns into a long term situation.

Here’s where the difference comes in. In the past, all of this would have made me a straight up HOT. MESS. I would have been such a worry wart that I probably would have given myself an ulcer by now thinking over every option and outcome and figuring out every single minute step of the plan.

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But in the last couple months I’ve come to see all of the grace from a loving God showing it in tangible ways that mean something to me. A really great AIA Convention where I was able to build the foundations for relationships that have continued to grow to this day. A job that gave me the chance to learn the front-end side of the architecture world. Things in a part of my life aren’t panning well and I’m unhappy and uncomfortable and have been praying about it. And He’s presented me with a new option that solves the issues of the uncomfortable scenario…the option just doesn’t have a defined ending. The very thing that would have made me so very anxious…

But what I realize now is that if it did have a clear path…I wouldn’t have to trust Him as much. To trust that it will all work out. And that’s where I’ve grown, because I’m more okay with that thought than I’ve ever been.

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The sky hooks of safety

So the Lenten season is over. And I stuck to my goal of not seeking out dates and focusing on my relationship with God.

In that time, I did go on two dates. They were…what they were. And I started to think I was ready to entertain the idea of a relationship with someone other than/as well as God. Evidently I still have some more healing to do, because the resounding answer I felt in my heart and stomach was “nope”.

INDEPENDENCE

That one word can bring so much growth, and yet cause so much turmoil. Yes, it is good to be independent. It is good to want to work towards goals. It is good to have the desire and gumption to dream and act on those dreams.

What’s not good? Doing those things without God.

The Lenten season, and the two weeks since, taught me that I’ve been doing a lot of independent-of-God aspiring lately. Yeah, we’ve talked about it before. The bull in a china shop, the child with tourettes on the roller coaster. Take your pick…the theme is woven throughout this blog. I knew it was a part of me, but I could never name it.

These last weeks…I’ve named it. Independence. Self-protection. In aspiring to achieve a fulfilling life, I turned my focus away from God. I assumed He was right beside me, cheering me on. I decided, like the ignorant human that I am, that I could achieve my goals faster and easier on my own, with Him as my failsafe and cheerleader.

Holy cow, I’m dumb.

Time for some architectural metaphors:

Background: In architecture school, there’s always bad students who don’t consider the reality of their design…namely: how it will stand. When it came time for presentations, we joked that their projects would be held up by “sky hooks” – theoretical hooks in the clouds that held the load of the roof and somehow kept the building from collapsing.

So…in me trying to take on the world by myself, in being independent, in protecting myself…I built this wall. Whatever its need was, it was sturdy, and made of real things, and there was “evident” safety in its structure. It held me up. And then the next problem or goal arose, and I built another wall. And another. And another. And soon enough I’m running around in this maze of walls, trying to figure it all out on my own. My “safety” is now my prison.

God? He’s the sky hooks. You can’t see Him. And that’s crazy scary. You don’t know how He is going to hold you up. How He is going to get you to your goals, His goals for you….but you just have to trust. You have to depend on Him, and know that you are safe. You have to know that your life, your plan and path, is this beautifully wondrous design. It defies all human expectations. And it is capable of happening if you just trust God.

Let your faith be bigger than your fear

Your choices are:

1.  the maze of man-made walls with no window to the future

or

2.  the amazing sky hooks that allow views to the wonder of life surrounding you.

It’s a no-brainer to me now.

Now I just have to actually practice that realization.

He is the sky hooks holding up the design of your life. You just have to get out of your own way to trust the safety of His love, and everything else will come in His time.

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Merry Christmas: The journey to the light

I’ve struggled the last week or two with whether or not to write this post. I didn’t want to only share negative, selfish thoughts surrounding a most blessed of holidays. But this is about my journey, so I’m sharing.

I’ve run the gamut of emotions this holiday season. After the last several years of my life spending this holiday with someone, it is underwhelming to spend it alone.

I LOVE Christmas. I love the holidays spent with those you love, doing things, making memories, decorating, relaxing. I’m a giver. I love finding the perfect gift for someone and seeing their face light up when they receive it. But I have no special someone to share these moments with this year, so it all seems very sad. It’s not that I feel the need to have someone to make things special in my life. It’s not a body count. I’m certain that spending your days with the wrong person, especially holidays, is probably just as bad, but you get what I mean. It is its own brand of suck known only to those who’ve spent holidays alone. *raises glass of alcohol to all the singles reading this*

I’ve never wanted a holiday season over with more than I do this year.

I’ve spent many a night wondering where my path is taking me. Feeling surrounded by darkness in the moments where families are busy brightening their homes with Christmas lights and holiday cheer. Wondering the plan God has for me.

I realized tonight as I listened to the sermon of the Christmas Eve service that Mary must have had similar concerns about her path and her plan. How the months leading up to Jesus’s birth, that night when no inn would take them, her son, the Son of God, being born in a barn among the animals, must have been wrought with dark moments and questioning thoughts. She must have wondered who was she to have this burden, how would her life change, what would lie ahead.

But she kept her faith. Even in the darkest of moments, she kept her faith. And she was rewarded with the ultimate Light. A light that continues to shine in each and every one of us, even in the darkest of our moments.

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And so in the moments of uncertainty, I am reminded to look to Him. In the sadness, loneliness, questions of the future…He is there. In the moments where I wonder my path, where I wish for someone to share these days with…I am reminded I am so blessed. I may not have a him in my life right now, but I have HIM.

In my darkest of days, He is the light. He shines through me. And that is enough.

For His birth, His death, His love…I am amazingly and wonderfully blessed.

Merry Christmas.

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Meandering thankfulness and lessons in painting

 

The year thus far has been…insane. A whirlwind. Life-changing. Fun. Sad.

If you were to paint on a canvas a storyboard of my year thus far….I’m pretty sure a finger painting by a blind toddler would suffice. A cacophonic jumble of colors, no coherent destination or path. A swirl of crazy; some splotches of fists pounded in fury against the canvas.

During this time of year meant for reflection and thanks, my knee-jerk reaction is…I’m not sure what to be thankful for. I’m 27. Divorced. Unemployed. This definitely isn’t where I saw my future self. Even a year ago.

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And yet, as much as it isn’t the path I foresaw, I am thankful for the hurdles. I wouldn’t change my decisions, nor the decisions others made that are out of my control. Cheesy romance movies typically have some line about “I wouldn’t change anything, because everything lead me to this.” Well…good for you, Ryan Gosling. Your blind optimism as you stand in a white t-shirt in the rain is radiant with justified faith. (BTW, RG, if you’re reading this…you can say that to me any day.) But me? I don’t know the destination of my journey. I don’t know what color the blind toddler will choose next. But I know the finished painting will be worth it. Perhaps it is my own blind optimism.

Maybe each canvas is its own year. Maybe each color is its own person, its own experience. Maybe some colors don’t continue on to the next year. Maybe you start off bold with a color and expect great things and even the blind toddler can “see” as he moves into the next canvas that something is amiss. That something about the interaction of that color just doesn’t work. So he learns, sets the color aside, and moves on. He may have had great hopes for that color and its part in the ultimate design, but he saw that it didn’t work and learned from the design on the canvas how to better move forward with the next one.

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Maybe all of these canvases of years are pieces of the bigger composite. The summer months you spent when you were two splashing in the pool are the blues on that year’s canvas that make up the glint in the eye of the bigger mosaic. The turmoil of broken hearts and lost love are the reds on the canvases and the rouge in your cheeks.

The actions, decisions, times of love and times of loss. The people. The jobs and the moments spent fervently searching for jobs. They’re all colors. They’re all specks on the canvas that tell our story.

So this is the mosaic of my life. And it may not be pretty right now. But I know the outcome will be stunning.

And for that I am thankful.

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Enough

So after my “bring it, dating world” post, I began thinking about the data points the single men on the market (who are worth dating and spending a future with) might also have. And wondering if I would live up to those standards. Like I said, “Divorcee with dog and no steady income”…doesn’t really attract the men.

I would’ve never expected to be divorced, still not licensed in my field, and without a full-time job at this point in my life. I wouldn’t have expected to be sleeping alone, spending holidays with friends and family instead of a man who holds my heart. I think as a child I would’ve pitied my current/then-future self. The outsider sees loneliness, a woman unloved.

If only I could tell her that her heart is worth treasuring. That the life she sees shouldn’t be pitied, but aspired to – maybe lacking the divorce and adding jobs.

That life is worth living…fully…not just surviving.

That sometimes the road worth taking isn’t easy, but that she has enough in her to make it through the rough spots.

That she should never let the fire, the strength, in her die. It is the sparkle that sets her apart. It should be cherished by herself and should be respected and cherished by the man who will someday hold her heart.

Those are the things I hope little girls growing up now know. They are the things I grew up being taught. And they are the things that, when faced with the possibility of a future of bad dates, remind me now that I am worth the work. I should be treasured, just as I will treasure the man who will have my heart.

I am enough.

 

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TED Thursday: The world of online dating

I came across this TED talk today. A girl, recently out of a relationship, who loves data and connecting the dots and makes a mean timeline. She’s a planner. Any of that sound familiar?

I found myself laughing out loud at a couple parts, loving how she broke down the system to find what she needed. The talk is hilarious. Give it a listen.

As I’ve talked to friends, most of whom are happily married, about the re-entry to the single world…they are at a loss for advice on how to meet guys. You can’t just stroll across the Quad or go to a new class next semester and hope you find a cutie worth getting to know. And most of these happily married friends? Have friends who are happily married. So they can’t troll their friends for possible dates for me, either. Time and time again, their answers were “what about online dating?”

There are so many thoughts that come to mind with that simple question. Because it doesn’t feel so simple. Which site would I choose? Where do I even begin when it comes to setting up a profile? How much/how little information do I tell? What happens when no one emails/pokes/responds/messages/(insert whatever it is you do to chat on online dating because I’m so clueless here) me?

This lady took those frustrations and her skillset and made it work for her. It’s hilarious…and ingenious. While I don’t plan on engineering a handful of fake profiles, I applaud her for doing the legwork. And the moral of the story is: the legwork paid off. Sometimes, alright – most times, boys are dumb and they need help putting their shoes on, let alone finding someone who could conceivably become a life partner – so the creepy fake profiles seem less creepy when it pays off. Alright, the shoes are probably an overstatement, but I bet every girl reading this is nodding her head.

It all seems laughable to me.

[Find site]

[Create account with boringly literal or strangely funny username to lure boys]

[Insert picture]

[Add stupid quip that continues to attract said boys]

I’m pretty sure “Divorcee with dog and no steady income” is not the product of the algorithm that ends in my favor. That is not the milkshake that brings the boys to the yard.

I’m also pretty sure that my list would have at least 72 data points.

But what I do know FOR A FACT…is that I have awesome friends who will remind me along the way that he is out there and I just have to keep living and working and someday my man of action will show up.

Bring it, dating world. Smileygirl1978 ain’t got nothin’ on this milkshake*.

*In fact, it appears she hasn’t even seen a milkshake in awhile.

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Building my future

While I joke about being okay with being a single gal, and I am, I also know that at some point in my future I will want to be an independent-minded woman staring at the adventures of my future with an independent-minded man at my side. I won’t NEED him there, but I will want him to share in the experiences with me. And he won’t NEED me there, but will equally want me.

I spent many nights mulling over the issues of my last relationship, both while it was happening and after the fact. I’ve learned from it. I may not ever know exactly what changed, but I’ve taken away from it the things I know will make me an even better partner in the future. And I also understand that there’s no looking back. There’s no sense in constantly re-hashing in my mind the events that occurred and the events that didn’t. I will always enjoy the fond memories that I have of times past, but the memories aren’t the present, and they hadn’t been in awhile. You can’t remain happy only from memories of long ago.

Just as you can’t live in the past for happiness, you can’t live in the past for sadness. You move on, you learn, you build your future forward.

And so I work on bettering myself, continually. I work on sorting out in my mind and planning for the life I’d like to have. I work on doing the things I love and being the person I want to be. I work on being happy, and doing the things that make me happy. I work on enjoying the moment. I’m building my life for the future.
I am a woman of action. And I know, both from that acknowledgement and from past experiences, that I want and need a man of action. A man who can help carry the load when it gets heavy. A man who will work with me, side by side, through the good days and the bad, to continually make our relationship the best it can be. Who will put in the effort to make the relationship great without making it feel like work. A man who will say nice things to me, both romantic and funny, to make me smile and laugh, but will also then follow those words with actions that reinforce the thought. A man who will call me on my sh!t when I get too sassy for my shoes (as Katie will attest I am apt to do), but love me just the same when the dust settles.
Does that man exist?
Who knows. I hope so. But until then, you can find me building my future…
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Another’s brave journey

A dear friend lost his job today. I know this blog is about me and my journey, but so much of me is given strength by the close knit group of friends I am lucky to have (see here and here) – so for me, his journey is my journey. As he is my friend, I am his. And today I feel for him.

I almost don’t know where to begin; all of the thoughts seem to be swirling like an unkempt merry-go-round, tumbling around with the mismatched clothes in the dryer (because why the hell would a merry-go-round be in the dryer? My point exactly. Bag o’ cats up there). I pained that I didn’t know how to come to his aid today, and I myself have heard – and been frustrated by – too much of “I know how you feel” lately to be able to utter those words to him as he shared the news with his friends. I’ve had to leave a job, many jobs in fact, in the past because of military moves, but have yet been stationary and without. So I don’t, truly, know how it feels. I found myself wanting to say it, and bit my tongue as we spoke. Remembering how those words felt like a hot hand on my cheek when others said them to me.

But I empathize nonetheless.

The world of architecture right now, and in recent years, is not an easy one. While most of the nation struggled/struggles under a max 8% unemployment rate, architecture has been almost double that at times – and still sits above the national average. Even so, he is a talented architect. He is goal-oriented and attuned to details. He is so worthy of a blessed future and I can only imagine how downtrodden he feels tonight.

He is one to always see the design in things, how something relates to another. Another friend described him recently as “the big picture” guy. When I saw this quote today, I immediately thought of him.

I hope he realizes the support structure he has. His family. His friends. His peers. I hope he realizes his value to the profession. I hope he sees this as a chance to redirect the journey, rather than a collapsed bridge. I have many hopes, but mostly I hope he finds peace in the unsettled moments, both now and in the immediate future.

I know he is a believer, so I will end with this, because no one ever says it better than He does.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

We’re all in your corner. Know that, if you know anything.

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Friday Fun-day

With both a mix of inspiration and fun, I welcome Friday. Today is the Sara Bareilles concert – holla!!!

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Real vs Perceived

I saw a tweet the other day that spoke to me:

Sometimes it’s hard to live the life that would make you happy instead of the life that would make other people think you are happy.

I think it pretty well sums up some of the kickback we received after letting people know of our decision. A lot of people, when they found out, throw all sorts of “fix” ideas at us. Like they somehow thought we wouldn’t have tried everything in our power. I am beginning to understand it’s their own version of a coping mechanism in hopes to be helpful because they don’t know what else to do. But it’s tiring to have to re-explain and convince them that we did our due diligence and made the decision we think is right.

Most of this has calmed down, but I do think it is a continuous struggle to remember, after trying so long in a different vein, that I am worthy of living the life that makes me happy.

This is not to say we didn’t start happy. We were. But something changed. I don’t know what. I don’t know that I’ll ever know what. But I know that I put in enough effort to try and fix it to be okay with our decision. And I think that this long-span time of fixing singularly, while necessary, is what threw off our friends and family the most. Because in that time I continued to act in a way that made others think I was happy, that masked the real struggle. So when we decided to change the situation, to take the step to find and live the lives that would make us happy, it was a surprise to many.

There’s a song off of Sara Bareilles’s new album that sums this up pretty well.

“Let me paint a picture for you then I’ll have to teach you to see it
Illustrate the remnants of the life I used to live here in Eden
Rolled a lucky pair of dice, ended up paradise
Landed on a snake’s eyes, took a bite and ended up bleeding

You know if I could change anything, I think I would start with the name
The truth is all those angels started acting the same
And I know there’s no going back now cause
Life in Eden
Life in Eden changed
No way to make the pain play fair
It doesn’t disappear just because you say it isn’t there
So when they ask why’d she go you can say cause
Life in Eden
Life in Eden changed”

A conversation with a friend kind of sums this up. She questioned me a month or two ago. Not out of trying to change my mind, necessarily. But out of concern and understanding. She wanted to make sure there wasn’t something she was missing…some bit that made it all make sense to the outsider looking in. In trying to explain to her, I began to realize just how shut off I had made myself in the struggle. How hidden it was, even to my closest friends and family. And I think so much of it goes back to that quote. I had tried to continue to live the perceived life that made others think I/we was/were happy, while not really being happy.
Life in Eden had changed.
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