I've been wanting to come here to just write for quite some time- not so much that I would actually sit down and do it. Until today, of course.
I'm not sure when I'll sit down to do this again (maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month), so today I'm just going to write. I hope that it all ends up making sense, but if it doesn't, please ask questions if you want. I will answer as best as I can.
It's the last day of January, and the yoga habit I hoped to get back to didn't stick (maybe after sick season?), but I am still eating mostly vegan. I intend to keep up with that indefinitely.
I've been thinking for weeks now that my next goal needs to be something along the lines of "write and send a card every day." With an actual message. Nothing online counts. It's a goal that's kind of evolved into "connect with someone every day." Phone calls, visits, and cards all count. A goal like that sounds so obvious when written or said, because hello? We all need connection with other people. It's surprisingly easy to go through a day without really sharing myself or really listening, but I'll tell you- life is so much richer and better when I'm willing to be vulnerable and make those connections.
Oh, that word. Vulnerable. Ugh. It means I am just myself, no pretense, no excuses or apologies. And it's scary because it's an invitation to accept or reject.
I'll tell you what- sometimes I'm pretty good with the whole vulnerability, openness, confidence thing. Oh, but sometimes? I'm not sure how to adequately explain what happens in my head, but I'll tell you that the past couple of months have been a roller coaster for me emotionally. I love my life, but then some days I would annoy myself so much with my own second guessing and unwillingness to just be myself that I was pretty sure no one else would want to be around me, either. I would hole up. Stop making real, technology-free connections.
That is not a good thing for me.
In my marriage, my husband is the outgoing one, but I am the extrovert. I feed off of real life connections. When I don't have that, I kind of wither and become a less and less healthy version of myself. Not, not good.
Lucky for me, making real-life connections only requires a little effort (and doesn't actually require spending a lot! My most expensive outing recently was less than $2, I think). I just have to ask for what I need. I ask people to come over or if Nolan and I can visit. I ask one of my willing family members and meet a friend for coffee.
So, as much as I am a writer and I so love this space, most of my working life out recently has been happening as I go. In other peoples homes, in coffee shops, while playing, that kind of thing. Much of life happens in seasons, so I know I will be back on a more regular basis. But this is where I am today.
We are all burdens. Wonderful, terrible, lovely, obnoxious burdens. It is the reality of community. -My husband, in response to the "but I don't want to be a burden" excuse for not making connections
I can already tell this is going to be the kind of post that has me sitting down to write, not really sure of what's going to end up published when I get up.
I'm just going to write, ok? If I say something that doesn't make sense or you don't agree with or that resonates with you, I hope you feel comfortable speaking up (if you want to).
You may know that one thing I love in life is sharing a meal. I love a full house and full plates and bellies and lots of noise and laughter and nodding and chaos.
That happened in my house last night.
In the name of Food Day, I invited a few friends and family over. We had a potluck. My Lauterback side had me worried we wouldn't have enough. But we did.
There is always enough.
And I don't know, I guess I was kind of tired. I said a few things that I wish I had said better, and I did dwell on them. I felt pretty bad for not saying them better, not saying what I was really trying to say.
Those people in my house?
They're the kind of people that I CAN be my messy, tired, sometimes high-strung and/or spacey, I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing self with and know I am okay there. Do you know what I mean?
I feel like I've been wanting community, people I can be completely human with, for so long.
All along, they've been right there waiting for me. Waiting for me to be a little more honest, a little less trying-to-be-perfect, a little more willing to disagree or have a bad moment and not trying to make up for it in a hundred way. I little more willing to say I'm not a finished product. Will you bear with me?
Lately, I'm seeing that the more aware I am of myself (the good and the bad), the more I can let it go. I can relax. I can stop worrying if one perceived mistake wrecked everything.
When I relax, stop straining so much, my world kind of opens up.
Every one's evolving all the time, I think, so I don't know if my relationships are deepening or I'm just more open to them. More okay with screwing up if it means I'll just get back up again.
I get all kinds of grateful and journal-y whenever I have lots of noise and people and food over at my house, so maybe I need to do it more.
I'm in the mood to record a few thoughts right now, so I'm going to attempt an unedited version while Nolan rearranges the furniture (ie. pushes the recycling bin around the kitchen).
I'm crossing my fingers that everything I was just thinking doesn't fly out of my mind this very moment that I decide to write.
That boy? The apple of my eye (<--that is literally the phrase that just came to mind, but not something I would normally say. You get what I mean, though, right?), but sometimes I just need a break from being a mother. Last night, Tim told me to plan to do something relaxing when he got home from work, so I headed to my sister-in-law's with a bottle of wine. We bundled up and sat outside on her perfect porch and just talked for a few hours and then I went home, excited.
Because I'd missed Steph and I'd missed having long, thoughtful conversations...and of course, by the time I arrived home, I was looking forward to some snuggles with a certain little boy.
I'm feeling particularly grateful and (maybe uncharacteristically) secure this weekend. Sometimes I find myself getting downright insecure, and you know what? It is usually the result of projections and assumptions when I really just need to have a conversation.
I could write and write and write tonight
but I won't
because my husband just joined us
(Nolan squealed with delight, of course. He LOVES his daddy. )
and I want to enjoy my family before Nolan goes to bed.
I had plans for posts this week that didn't happen.
I wasn't planning on writing this one at all, but it's been stirring around my mind, and it seems like the one that needs to be written...
right now, if I can squeeze it in before my sick (again!) baby wakes up. So, maybe I won't get to edit and there will be errors, but...
I used to think I was such an open book- an "ask me anything, and I'll tell you type of person." But I don't know, I've just seen lately that I'm not. I have some walls and some people who would like very much if I would just relax and let them in. They hand me glasses of wine and questions and try to shoehorn me out of this armor I have around me and...
There are things I know about myself that I'd like to change, but I'm not quite sure how.
Like the fact that I tend to stress out about particular things. Just thinking about those things has me feeling all tense and crazy. I know I need to just stop and relax and let them go, but I don't know how.
For a long, long time I've felt like I really want community. The kind that is people really knowing each other, including knowing everyone is a pain in the butt sometimes, but being able to hash those things out. To talk about them without being defensive or judgmental.
I really, really want that kind of thing.
Except I wear this armor.
This I need to be in control kind of armor.
And another kind, too.
I'm the kind of person who, up until recently, would usually say I was okay even when I wasn't. Because I felt like I should be. Because I didn't want to have an awkward conversation. Because the risk of being too honest felt like too much, you know? Even if it meant a potentially closer relationship.
I wonder if that's why "every one" always said I was such a nice girl.
There is this relationship I had that I sabotaged by telling my white lies. It took me a while to realize what I'd done- the saying I was okay out of cowardice, the backing away because really, I was hurt, all of that repeated until in my mind, there was no friendship.
I know that some relationships are seasonal. I know that. But I wonder how many other relationships I've helped to end prematurely because I've been too scared to act the way I need to get what I really want?
Sometimes I wonder am I doing this friendship thing right?
People spin in and out of my life, I in and out of theirs.
It seems kind of natural
but I find myself longing for the kind of friendship that is every day.
I want to not have to tell my background info over and over.
What I really want is to be understood. Known.
I have a theory that everyone is an interesting story
if only they know how to tell it.
If only we know how to listen.
I have trouble telling my story sometimes.
I'm so grateful for those who read between the lines.
Nolan had this look on his face this morning while I made his breakfast that I just needed to capture on camera.
Except the camera was upstairs and my desire to just be with him and experience that look won out. Grabbing the camera would have taken me about 30 seconds, but staying is what I chose in the moment.
But that look? Oh, my goodness. Eyebrows raised, lips puckered into a closed "O," waiting expectantly- mostly patiently- for mashed banana and rice cereal. It had me breaking out into a smile at every glance.
We both did our kitchen thing-him with that look, his waiting, his watching the cars go by. Me with my mashing, mixing, and trying to get some kind of breakfast for myself started.
He took a few bites but was more interested in taking the kitchen in, in watching the sun rays stream in and those cars move across the highway.
A week ago (and even further back than that), I was struggling. Struggling to put my finger on just what was bothering me. Wanting to talk to someone who might get it but not quite knowing which words might provide a proper outline.
Layer by layer (a blog entry or two,conversations with a friends, a social encounter-or several!), I realized I felt like a different person and I wasn't sure if I liked me because I felt like I didn't know me. Not everything has changed, but so much has. That realization came with an almost instantaneous of COURSE you've changed- you're a MOTHER now.
I don't know if everyone is like this, but I'm the kind of person who almost always feels so much better after she untangles all the mental knots she's been working through.
I also realized- I do like me. I get to watch the world through the eyes of this little boy who is the best of both me and my husband. I get to watch the different kinds of excitement on his face, listen to that giggle, hold him when his lip goes all pout-y and he breaks into a slow, sad cry.
I don't care about cars at all and I can't catch or throw very well (you can imagine how I am in group sports situations), but I will learn those things because my son loves them and I have a feeling he will continue loving them. We will try out thousands of new things together, but we will also be content with simple things- like plastic spoons and sitting on the porch to watch the world go by.
That look on my son's face this morning, with its patience-but-not-really, is a mirror.
I'm linking up with Just Write, an exercise in writing about ordinary and extraordinary moments.
I'm not planning on writing a mushy post to go along with my anniversary (but my posts often end up quite different than how I planned them to be, so no promises), but I will say that it's true what you hear about communication being really, really, REALLY important to a quality relationship.
I will also say that a major reason why I think I can say this from experience is Tim.
Communication is not my strong suit.
I mean, yes, I do like to write (ahem, I love to write), but that in-person, super-honest stuff? It's hard. It's awkward sometimes and it requires boldness. (It's scary.)
But over the years, I have learned- through conversation, experience, and observation- how to be more honest. The kind of honest that deepens relationships and sometimes sounds awkward coming out of my mouth; the kind that requires courage (there's that word again!) once in a while.
Let me tell you.
Communication sounds simple,
but it is so not.
Think about it.
We have all these words (and oh, how I love words!), but you know there are times when, even amongst all of them, you can't find the right ones to express what you'd like to say.
You know there are times when you're saying one thing and someone else is hearing another
due to differing perceptions and experiences
with the same words.
It's hard work.
Work which has (mostly) turned in to joy and reward
thanks to the persistence of one man.
I mean it. Many, many thanks to Timothy Koller.
He has made and continues to help me become a better person and is my perfect partner in this adventure called life.
Ok, there's the mush.
(Like I said, no promises.)
I was awake around 5:30 on Saturday morning for no reason other than being pregnant. I used some of the time to do a little immobile nesting. I updated the budget with all the receipts I hadn't entered yet, did some planning for meals, and did some reading on Equal Exchange and the corresponding blog, and looked into joining up with a possible CSA. (I've done the CSA thing before but wasn't thrilled with my experience, so I didn't keep it up. However, I think there is a lot of merit in giving it another shot.)
All that reading got me hyped up. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that my choices include consequences for myself and for other people in big and little ways.I planned my shopping excursions to include more earth/farmer/local- conscious choices while still keeping my budget in mind. Actually carrying out that plan took some time, especially because I'm a slowpoke these days, but it felt good.
Today, in church, I wrote down this sentence soon after it was spoken: "If you want to live, do it."
I'd made a tentative plan to leave the meeting soon after it ended, but that didn't happen. Instead, I stayed and talked for an hour.
In that time, I was reminded by some sweet women that pregnancy is quite beautiful.
I was reminded that that thing that's driving me crazy because I'm not doing it? That's when I know it's exactly what I should be doing.
I was reminded of the importance of accepting help in order to be a good mother.
There is so much that is important for me to remember, to live by, to hold close to my head and my heart, but I have a hard time remembering it all at once.
I need other people to help me with that.
That's why I'm thankful for internet, for websites and blogs (and the people that write them) that inform me and inspire me about things like fair trade and adoption.
I'm thankful for community and relationships with people who are willing to share their stories and earned advice with me.
Because I need to be reminded of truth every day.
It's been 8 months since I officially discontinued my role as "youth pastor's wife."
I was a mentor.
A behind-the-scenes/ get-it-done/ideas/lunch and goodies "chef" of sorts.
I had the title I'd wanted for the last 9 years.
Oh, but titles-mere words- are not enough.
I-we-had to go.
My husband and I made the best decision we knew how to, and we left.
We had to.
There was relief, but there was also some nearly-unwelcome aftermath: What's next? What is my role? I knew what I wanted to do for these past 9 years, and now it was gone. That thing I had wanted? Brought me so much joy but also sucked me dry.
I had disappointment, confusion, recuperation, purpose, and some bitterness to work through.
The process hasn't come quickly.
But it's been 8 months, and I've been getting restless.
With the loss of a job, so much change-emotionally, physically, and mentally- that comes with becoming a mother, becoming some body's mother while still being some body's wife/lover/best friend, the change in churches (and also the closeness of some circles of friends that come with such a change)- with all of that, I've been feeling restless.
I've been searching my husband's-my very best friend's- eyes,words, tones for clues as to what I should be doing next. What do I do now that so much has changed? What is right for me?
I've been frustrated with him when he couldn't give me answers. Nobody else (not that I've asked "everybody") has been able to give me the answers I've been looking for, either. I guess I thought marriage gave Tim some magic super powers. I was mad when he couldn't get his powers to work on my time.
I'm not a very patient person, but I will agree that the time off has been a good thing. I left my last church burnt out-despite trying to cut back on emotional and physical commitments in a desire to renew my energy. I got pregnant a month later. I was exhausted in more than one way, and that's no way to jump into a new role. But I've done it- at least part of the time- kicking and screaming.
My cutie-pie husband and I decided to turn a wedding weekend into an extended last-getaway-before-the-baby comes. We left last Thursday night and didn't return until Monday night.
I am a big fan of exploring new places with Timothy.
On Friday morning, I remembered that, at 16 years old- the first time I decided I wanted to "be a youth pastor's wife"- I'd determined that I would spend time sharing myself with teens even if I didn't end up marrying a youth pastor.
Hours later, I brought up my normal frustrations during a long drive.
Still Tim's magic wasn't working to my benefit, and it was then that he pointed out how I'd been acting during conversations of "what should I do?" I hadn't realized.
Tears washed over me, kind of like a cleansing of sorts.
I hadn't realized that I was still upset that what I wanted had been tarnished and then completely taken away.
Words came, but better than that, some clarity.
It's amazing what just getting away can do for the mind.
So. Maybe I needed that 8 months. I was worn out, spent. I think I needed to just be. I needed some time to just be Tim's wife. To be me. To take in all the changes. Despite my restlessness, I think it is ok- a great idea, even- to take some time off after a time of particular emotional/spiritual/mental (or even physical! - but that part doesn't apply to my situation) challenge.
But after those tears- and a few words- washed away the hurt I still had left, an energy remained.
I know who I am, mostly.
I am a woman who is energized by organizing and/or running events.
I like to be the one in the kitchen, while my house is full of laughter, stories, and eating.
I believe strongly in being intentional about sharing money, time, and other resources. I am energized by those kinds of things.
I feel most "myself" when I am consistently sharing my time with teenagers, and even kids. There are a number of ways to go about this, including:
- volunteering at a local church
- joining up with a local Big Brothers/Big Sisters program
- volunteering with Girls on the Run
- getting involved with the "yoga version" of Girls on the run, Believe in She
- being more intentional about spending time with my own family members
For awhile now, I've been thinking maybe I need to pick just one "cause" to help define me and my own personal cause, but now I hardly think that is the case.
You know what I think now?
Every day is a chance to live out who I was created to be- and share that. I happen to do that best through words, food, and shared time, but everyone has their own way they can live out their best best.
That really has me excited.
— Martha Graham
I'm even deeper in love with it because it's made with recycled and local materials by women in Uganda who are paid fairly for their absolutely incredible work. The same women are given English lessons, finance training, a weekly support group, AIDS and health education, and vocational training by a group I am absolutely in awe of: 31 Bits.
I got it at that party I was so nervous about as a gift from my mom.
That party was a complete success. Not only did I get to spend time with people I absolutely love to spend time with, but everyone who came was excited to learn about what's going on and buy the jewelry. I was encouraged to hold more of the same parties, to spread the word further, to keep pushing against my scaredy-cat tendencies to do the things that are so important to me.
I still haven't returned the leftover jewelry.
I will; I promise.
I'm just not sure I don't want to buy more of the gorgeous stuff.
Still, on Monday, it will go back.
I need to give someone else a change to snatch up some of the treasures I've been hoarding for myself.