The red list

I had wanted to write an “ode to my twenties” type of thing… but I just couldn’t get the right feel. As I sit here on my 30th birthday, all I can think about is how very far and fast this past decade has taken me. It’s been a journey to say the least and as this journey has progressed, a map of sorts has formed in my mind.
It is a map that I’ve subconsciously created for my younger siblings, my daughters and others coming up.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was also given maps and directions. Not as transparent as this perhaps, but words of knowledge and forewarning never the less. Most of which I thought didn’t apply to me at the time they were given. However the truth is that every generation has the same lessons to learn from their twenties, but how they choose to learn from them is often the factor of change.

The “roaring twenties” really are about finding yourself. This decade is like a bridge between paradise and reality. Everything you’ve heard about this decade both good and bad are true. I’m very grateful to the Lord, my parents and my community that I reached thirty. I’m also grateful for every year that made up my twenties…

What I refer to as a map, I think most people refer to as a “list.” A list of things to do, become and create in your twenties. Since my twenties were a red hot mess of living and loving hard; I’m going to call this list, “the red list.”
Everyone agrees you should take care of yourself in your twenties and this is one piece of advice I got from everyone. While I didn’t go the party route (due to having babies at home), my addiction was not based in drugs and alcohol. It was based in very toxic relationships instead and the stress/trauma from those experiences very much did take its toll on my body. Taking care of one’s self is so much more than just drinking water, brushing your teeth, getting rest or enough exercise. It’s the mental, emotional and spiritual care that ultimately determines the physical. I wish that instead of someone saying “take care of yourself.” Someone had said, “love yourself, because nobody else can love you as well as that.”
Self-love… the key word for me in that compound word is SELF. It really does take nearly a decade to narrow down your passions, strengths and abilities. Some blessed few actually do get it right; they graduate high school, pick a degree, go to college, graduate from college and go about their life with eagle eye focus. The rest of us seem prone to wander and muse and fret and explore. Knowing who you are is essential to knowing where you’re going. Instead of being told, “the twenties are for finding yourself.” I think it’s more accurate to say, “discover what makes you happy. Discover your strengths. Explore the person God created you to be and love/value those possibilities!”
On the subject of possibilities… another item on the “twenties check list” is to pick a career. Well… it’s been my experience as a consumer of many different jobs… that your most meaningful work is not always something you pick. Sometimes it picks you. The world really is full of possibilities and life will always require you to change something… I didn’t earn a degree in my twenties. I earned a valuable trade instead and while I was good at it, it was not my passion. While it did provide for my children, it ultimately took more than it gave. A job should not define or own you. It should compliment the life you want to live. Again, your twenties are about day dreaming and creating a blueprint of that life. Your core values and beliefs need to align with your job. Otherwise conflict and dissatisfaction will be a constant companion.
Also on the twenties list… relationships. What woman in her twenties doesn’t daydream about a wedding and a home with a white picket fence? The twenties seem geared for a maze of good and bad relationships. I definitely wish I could have loved my twenty year old self into the realization that toxic friendships and relationships are deadly. If they don’t love you for who you are…walk away. If they demand more than you have or are willing to give…walk away. If they make you feel anxious, confused, compromised or afraid…walk away! People are everything. The people you align with will determine your future. The people you talk and share things with will influence your future. Who you date will influence your future. It all counts! Every single person!
I took every “nice to meet you” as a sign from the Almighty that I was supposed to have a best friend/love in that person. I was in love with life and in love with people. Truly successful friendships and relationships don’t come that easy or overnight. Half the folks you meet in your twenties are not going to help you build the foundation for your life. Although some will most likely teach you important lessons along the way.

Relationships, debt, educational challenges, crazy schedules, addictions, parties, questionable friends… there are a lot of things to trip up your twenties. It is a time to grow up, but this should be done gently and with kindness for yourself and others. The most beautiful creations do not happen overnight and neither does growing up. The twenties really are a doorway into the rest of your life. The choices you make in your twenties do not have to define you, but they do build a foundation that may or may not serve you well in the future.
I made so many mistakes in my twenties that I can only now own and see transparently. I don’t believe in regrets, only in lessons learned. Sometimes I learn very well and other times I learn the hard way. If I had any regrets about my twenties, it would be that I was not more kind to myself. I was anxious and always in a hurry for things to come and happen. I invested more time into what I could get rather than in being resourceful with what I had. I cluttered my life with toxic people, places and things. My mid twenties (and second kid) finally forced me to start caring about more important things. But by 28-29 I was an emotional and physical meltdown waiting to happen. Sheer exhaustion from a too-fast paced lifestyle is eventually what happened.
As I look back over the past few months leading to this birthday, I can truly see God’s handiwork. He really allowed me to slow down and even come to a stand still long enough to take in the view.
If the twenties really are “roaring” then I expect (and hope) that my thirties will be gentle and full of grace. A time to really edit, explore and create more of this blueprint for the life I desire and believe God has for me. Because truly, each decade brings another piece of the puzzle. More lessons, more desires, more choices, more building and growing. As long as we are living, we keep moving up and onward.
So… the red list from my twenties in summary:
Be gentle, be kind…to yourself and others. Explore, establish, be open to a realm of possibilities…really, the sky is the limit. Dream big and carry that dream with you. Don’t let anyone take it away. Walk away from the people that take more than they give. Don’t take more than what you need. Work with what you have, be grateful. Give out of your abundance, stay in communication with your parents and with God. Set your values and core beliefs, don’t compromise them for anyone or anything. Embrace the quiet moments, even if they feel uncomfortable. Create. Invest in yourself in a positive way. Take some risks and know that there is no such thing as failure, as long as you learn from your mistakes. Respect, value, love yourself… and enjoy every day.

Care

(This is dedicated to my grandmothers, my mother and my sisters… thank you for always inspiring and caring for me).

care

As I write this, I am watching my baby sister care for her home and family… after a storm at the ‘little home in the great big woods.’ I have retreated to higher ground for the time being. My sister’s own little home in the woods was the closest sanctuary.

I marvel as my sister bakes homemade bread and makes almond milk from actual almonds. Her chickens are laying eggs and I watch in admiration at her morning chores outdoors. She is a great mother and a great wife. Her love and care of others is very evident in her small home.

As I watch the care of everything around me; I can’t help but be inspired and yet also very disappointed in myself.

This has not been my most well-cared for season of life. I have been hard on myself and if I’m honest…hard on others.

Care of self and care of others are two of the hardest things to do. Yet the beauty of balance and life thrive between these two actions. God created us for care and fully discovering this fact is quite life changing.

At the core of who I am lies the desire to both care for others and be cared for in an intense and passionate way.

As the oldest of five children, ‘care’ of others has been ingrained in me. It’s an instinct that comes as natural as breathing.

However, the older I become the more I struggle with finding the balance of care for others AND myself. Burnout comes all too easy for those of us that live and love hard.

Being a mercy personality and a woman ruled by compassion, the act of care is something that has also been greatly exploited in my life. So much so that I am very careful and sometimes confused about where to invest this action.

(Fast forward to the big storm)…Here I am at the start of a fresh, new year and already feeling like something the cat dragged indoors.

I hope that whoever is reading this can identify a little and perhaps find some inspiration and hope.

 

The universal truth of care (and every other positive action) is that we all crave it and we all need it. Caring for ourselves and others has a trickle affect. It creates ripples, which causes waves, which can carry us all to a better place and way of living.

Here’s some treasure I found during my heart ponderings today:

Galatians 6:9-10 ” let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.”

Philippians 4:10 “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me, but lacked the opportunity (to show it).

May we all seek out the opportunities to be well and cared for in 2017.

 

 

 

The change of a blog

For the past decade my life has very much been a “beautiful real mess.” Hence that became the title of this little blog created two years ago.

Life changes however and so does our perspective. I must say that I no longer look at my life as a “mess” instead I see it for what it really is, a journey.

No one comes away unscathed from life and especially not from their twenties. For some of us these years leave a lifelong imprint.

Little home in the great big woods,” is not just a change of this blog’s name. It is fast becoming a change of perspective, thought and desire… one of the biggest changes of my life to date.

Becoming a single mother in my early twenties was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Before my sense of self had developed, I was suddenly in charge of developing a sense of self for another human being. Then there were two little human beings…and after my second child, I had all but kissed my sense of self good bye.

My professional life also started early and was born out of desperation more than a desire to do something I liked or loved. I lost myself a dozen times over while trying to learn life’s hard lessons about trust, money, discipline, sacrifice, relationships, passion and systems. The dynamics of the work place have probably shaped my sense of self more than anything else.

Money, health, time…these things consumed my thoughts and twenties.

I now know that I love to work and will always work, but I thrive on working for myself more than anyone else. My health and time have also become more important than money and I dream of the day when I feel more in control of both.

Little home in the great big woods” is where I find myself now- physically, emotionally and even spiritually. I am more aware than ever of where I stand and where I have been. I am starting to feel at home in my own skin and I like it!

As life shifts and progresses…so has my desire to document these changes and experience them freely. I want to live large and yet small (simply), I want to develop more of the good that I know is inside of me… I very much want to polish, fine tune and improve upon this person that I am becoming…

I want to live in every moment and embrace the bad with the good. I want the people I love to sense this goodness and find joy in it. I want to find that clearing hidden in the midst of a deeply wooded forest.  I hope that a decade from now I am a wiser, kinder, more generous and strong woman.

I hope that 2017 (and my 30th year!) launch us all into a deeper, richer and more meaningful perspective of the journey we have been given.

 

Lack of sleep, lots of words.

Words, words and more words…I find such edification from them. The meaning of my exact emotion can be so easily summed up in a single word. I thank God for words; without them I would drown in my own expression and with no release. Especially right now.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about words because truly that’s all I’m really feeling. It’s all I have in me right now…

I think about sleep too and the loss of sleep, which as a result creates lots of  words in my head.

My mind is consumed with thoughts and longing for simple things.

Since coming to this place (a physical, emotional and even spiritual place), I have very much discovered, “a lack of sleep and lots of words.”

This has been an overwhelming and exhausting season. It is a place that I am all too ready to leave and be done with. I have been met with challenges and difficulties that would quite literally knock over an innocent bystander…

The kind of stuff that makes you want to run and take all your senses with you… Whatever kind of special place this is, I quite loathe it. Yet it’s here, or I’m here and so with due diligence; I am attempting to pay attention.

It’s my experience that we feel things for a reason. We experience things for a reason… and even when it doesn’t  always make sense, there is an understanding that comes in the unfolding.

… I feel as if my entire life has been enclosed in a capsule and while I have most certainly cried, screamed and laughed a thousand time before this moment. Truly, I feel as if this is my first time to utter a single sound. Only I haven’t made a sound; it all comes out of me in words… in turn I feel exhausted in the most gratifying and yet empty kind of way.

It’s overwhelming, not only to me but I imagine those around me… thankfully, those I keep close understand this place I’m in. What a blessing and gift that is.

I wonder sometimes if others have the treasure of such validation…hence this little reflection of this late night blog.

I thought writing all this might save someone else the headache of wondering whether or not they are sane… I assure you; you are and so am I.

At least I think so…

We all deserve a  “get away”… a time and space reserved only for us… with no guilt for the lack of movement or focus.

Personally, I want to be lazy and hazy…in fact, I’d prefer not to reason or communicate, not to be seen or heard from…for just a little while. To fall in love with silence. Hmmmm, there is an exhaustion that can not be cured with sleep… there is a silence within the silence that is so hard to reach. Sometimes words can bring us close though.

Chances are you’ve experienced some of this and are thinking along the same lines…craving silence and rest. Writing for perhaps the first time or laying in bed…wondering at the loss of sleep. 

There’s a place I think we must all reach. A place that brings us to a halting stop, even to our knees. It’s a time to pause, to fall apart and then regroup.

To all the tired souls tonight; too tired for even a word’s expression… my thoughts and prayers are with you. I imagine something very great is waiting on the other side of this strange place. I feel hopeful that the days of rest will indeed come again and with them perhaps the treasure of words that can make us thankful for these days… the lack of sleep and lots of words days.

The “Home” Space.

Over the past few years (that have truly dwindled down to months, weeks and days) “home” has become a day dream word. Something unattainable and not at all tangible. A word that I have almost grown resentful of at times.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been blessed with a roof over our heads, beds to sleep in and tables to eat at. But that feeling of contentment, security and warmth has mostly evaded me. Okay, completely evaded me.

I’ve chalked it up to all the upheaval and many personal losses that have taken their toll on my life. I used to tell myself that maybe it was just time I grew up and gave up the fantasy.

As it would turn out, a recent move across the state became very necessary. Suddenly, the word “home” took on a completely new meaning. The endless packing and discarding and discovering. It was emotionally exhausting as well as physically exhausting and all in pursuit of something that we could call “home.” Major resentment all over again…

By nothing short of grace, it suddenly clicked though. In the midst of putting together beds and cleaning off shelves, I found my home and it wasn’t in a building. It was (and always has been) in my heart. Ridiculous as that sounds, that’s where “home” really  waits for us all. It will always be there… sometimes we are just to numb and broken to feel it.

I want to record this moment and my discovery, in case I forget it while going down one of life’s many arduous paths again…

Note to self: “home” is something we all carry inside of us. We help it evolve for the sake of those we love. When our hearts are whole this “place” becomes  beautiful, wild and full of possibilities. When we are broken, it can become dark, scary and a lonely space.

 

 

 

 

The Story behind the Beautiful Real Mess…

Today, I needed to revisit my story. A chance to decompress and express. Although it’s intimate and personal, it’s my story. This is me and in between each line is the story of many others. May all the broken pieces become even more beautiful in each of you!

The Beautiful | Real | Mess

ME.
My life has been beautiful, is beautiful, (at one time) felt more | BEAUTIFUL|
The kind of beauty that everyone desires,
that everyone deserves.
First love beauty, first home beauty, first child beauty, first real taste of the world…beauty.
Innocence, dreams, hope, home, late nights by candle light, giggles, bright eyes, toasts, well-wishes, strong ties.
Living one beautiful, hopeful, joyful, adventurous moment at a time!

Then came the | MESS |
Betrayal, heartache, fear, pain, anger.
Divorce, loss of home, loss of standing, loss of friends, loss of family… Loss of self.
No Innocence, no dreams, no hope, no faith…
Long days, longer nights, tears that won’t stop, screams that are stifled. Darkness, pain, confusion. MESS.

Then realness… the kind must be faced head on. A cross silently carried, a burden we all share. LIFE.
Daily striving…
Work, work and more work. Job #1, job #2, job #3.
Single parenting, anxiety, nervousness, loss of confidence, loss of trust, loss of self all over again.
Angry moments, fearful nights, angry days, fleeting dreams, fighting fatigue…
Exhaustion, the kind that makes your bones ache… the kind that makes every moment seem more difficult than it actually is.
Blurred vision, no vision.
An alternative reality to the one that is actually wanted/desired.

This beautiful, real mess is mine.
My life, my story, my existence.
One day I hope that this story will come full circle. That I will once again be able to experience beauty in any moment.
Love without fear, joy without pain, sleep without exhaustion. I want to be whole again, to experience life again. To see myself as someone who is worthy, deserving, desired, beautiful. Don’t we all?
One day I hope somebody will see and know all the messy parts. No more secrets, no more silent suffering, no more hidden pain, no more shame.
One day someone will love all my broken pieces back into wholeness, I know it.

One day… I will do more than just exist and function.
I will soar. I will thrive. I will love…myself.
It will be beautiful, it will be powerful and it will be | REAL |

Shell of me

As I stood there washing the last pot of this evening, I felt drained. Granted it’s only Tuesday, but it’s been a long week. A long month too (and its only the 7th of June). I know that anyone who takes time to read this can relate.

Life goes by too fast and it WILL take pieces of you with it… it can be hard to create moments that will last.

Even for those with no family demands, no children demands, no job demands… life all on its own will drain you.

I’m usually a hopeful realist. Half Dreamer/half critic. I see things that need to be done and I do it. I plan most everything out, with sporadic instances of spontaneity and later followed by moments of cringing.

At least once a week I tell myself, “slow down, take a breather, write some of this shit down.” As life changes I find myself mentally shifting and I feel this should be documented somewhere… everyone’s life moments should be documented somewhere… one day I believe they will be reflected in another generation and that generation will need to be reminded of what life is really about.

So, back to washing that pot… I want to document this moment in a  youngish, single, stressed and exhausted mother’s life. Mine, that is. As I washed that huge pot, left from a huge dinner (I come from a huge family that I frequently help feed), all I could think about was how empty I felt…truly, like a shell of myself.

Waking up at 5 am for work, putting in a full day’s work, the two hour commute home (in Texas heat no less), making dinner, cleaning dinner and managing to still take the kids swimming, all before the sun set…  that was my day and every other day really. Almost every moment of all my days, requires this game where I have to convince myself to just keep going. Going, going, going, gone.

I push, plead, pull and scream…all at myself that is.  I watch others juggle things (seemingly) effortlessly. I make lists in my head of all the undone goals. I cram productivity into every waking moment and still find myself running to catch up. This is my life and it IS a beautiful real mess. Often I find myself begrudging that “shell-like feeling.” The empty, drained feeling…the one that makes me feel like a failure, like I have nothing to show for this part of my life…

Tonight I felt that emptiness and at the same time, something greater. That’s when I realized this shell of a person I’ve been dragging around is changing; a metamorphosis is occurring, on the inside of me. I may not feel any greater today, but in the future…I just might be flying.

I think we should all celebrate these “shell-like” moments, something great is happening behind the scenes.

 

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