I’m an expert at hiding how I feel. It comes naturally to me, and I honed the art to virtual perfection well into my 30’s. It wasn’t until I had kids that I lost some of my skills, and came to realize how utterly poisonous a habit I’d been cultivating. The slipping of my masks caused me some panic, as I thought the world would come crashing down around me if I cried in public, showed anger, or expressed fears. Just a tad messed up I’m afraid! Having kids ripped me open emotionally (not to mention physically) and I’ve done my best to keep my heart open so I can begin to relate honestly to the people around me. I’m learning to be vulnerable.
I used to write a monthly newletter called Shaking the Grapevine, sharing thoughts on how to approach life, my hangups, and meditations on the meaning of things. With almost 5 years worth in my archive, I still think they share some of my more profound thoughts … so please, dig in! I’d still love comments if you have any.
It’s hard, this thing called life. You think you have it running on auto-pilot for awhile, and it throws you a curve ball. You solve one thing, and four more pop out their buds, showing you they’ve quietly been taking root for weeks. The webs are tangled, the challenges deep. It hurts, this relating and parenting and growing. Anything worth doing hurts somehow though, doesn’t it?
Watching the blowup and fallout over a guest post on one of my favorite blogs recently, something finally clicked in my mind. It’s an idea a good friend of mine has been stressing for years. It’s something that I sniffed at while listening to someone try desperately to prove his theological position last week. It’s something I struggle with daily in my relationship to my oldest son. It’s how badly we want to be RIGHT.
My 3-year-old came out of his bedroom last night, not long after he was put to bed. His standard excuse of “needing to pee” was no surprise, but the hard-hat he was wearing had me utterly flummoxed. As he trotted by I raised an eyebrow to my husband with a hushed “What’s the hat for?” He whispered back that he’d suggested it to assuage the fears coming from the “ceiling might fall in some day because the crack over there is getting bigger” discussion that I’d faintly overheard at bedtime. We live in an old house, older brothers ask lots of questions, and little brothers interpret them more dramatically. I had to turn my head away to hide the shaking of my shoulders as I found the entire situation hilarous. I wasn’t terribly sympathetic, I confess, just amused.
The horrors and devastation in Haiti last week are fresh in all of our minds. The images, stories, and painful details continue to wash over us, prompting a variety of reactions and stirring up ideas and plans and projects. I’m reminded once again of a quote by my friend Nate Burgos of DesignFeast, which he wrote a few years ago as part of a manifesto. I’m reprinting it here again, along with a slightly modified reprint of the original article it went with.
“Disasters make change. They particularly defined 2005, from the Asian Tsunami to Hurricane Katrina. They galvanized attention and simultaneously provoked a drive for innovation, whose essential value is betterment …. Bottomline: They incite change. What lessons are afforded by disasters to innovators? This manifesto aims to provide these essential, and reoccurring, truths that contribute to the quality of not only things, but also people and places. Disasters displace, but what is never displaced is the need to make life better. This need, whatever the scale and wherever the setting, is shared by all of us, who possess the power to innovate.”
The quote excites me for a very simple reason. I adore change. Really. But at times I have a very hard time getting over my own hang-ups to pursue it.
I was talking to a friend this morning, struggling to deal with the reality of finances and where we’re at right now. It’s not a nice place, and I’ve been getting very depressed about it. This time of year is always especially difficult, as my husband’s work inevitably dries up around November, and doesn’t kick in again till February or so. We live hand-to-mouth pretty much all year, and have no credit because we can’t handle it, so the winter months tend to be faith-stretching. I had a bit of a wrestle with God yesterday about it all. Like I talked about rather abstractly last month, where the hell is my faith anyhow?
Faith is a touchy subject. It’s a deeply personal thing, and something that varies widely from one person to the next. When push comes to shove, and you’re grasping for the reasons behind something that you can’t quite see, you find out where you’ve been hiding your faith. What or who are you trusting? The deluge of swine flu information got me thinking about it all a bit more than usual. Who or what am I trusting with my family’s health? How do I know I’m making the best choices? What should I do?
Faith has two main ingredients, with a twist.
Knowing When It’s Time
We’ve been making noises for over a year now about moving out of the city. The desire is there, the vision is getting more concrete, and yet the ways and means aren’t visible yet. It’s been long enough that when I run into friends I haven’t seen in awhile, they often ask “So how are the moving plans going?” I find myself cringing internally, as I don’t really have a solid answer. They feel like they’re going nowhere, at least in any ways I can talk about. I don’t want to appear wishy-washy, but have to say something about “getting closer.” We are closer to checking off our last major get-done-in-nyc dream, but it’s not quite that simple.
When is it time to leave that job? To make that leap? To get rid of that possession? To take that chance?