Hey You

I turn 31 in a few hours.

I didn’t think I would get here. Once I realized we all weren’t going to die when the clock struck midnight on 01/01/00, I was convinced God was going to come back long before now.  On the other hand, it would be a complete lie to say I didn’t at all imagine what my life would look like at this point. My younger self would have painted this picture:

I have been happily married for 4 years with 1-2 kids. I would be a thriving pediatrician making a huge impact on young lives. When I leave work, I would come home to the house my husband and I built.

That is not my life. Not one part of that is happening. I definitely wouldn’t have imagined I would be living in my uncle’s loft, waiting to start working again, questioning who I am based on what I have and have not achieved. At the same token, neither my pre-teen self (or 30 year old self, for that matter) would have guessed what would happen between 11/24/16 and 11/24/17.  Here’s what really happened:

Junior year of college, I realized I loved biology but was more passionate about mentoring young people. I couldn’t have as profound an impact as I would have liked as a pediatrician and decided to take a different, cheaper (lol) path.  That led me to be a gatekeeper of an awesome college and helping prospective students not only consider my institution of higher education but any institution. Sometimes I did not care where a young person went but that they thought they could go and where they wanted to go. I had the ability to plant seeds of hope. That career rolled into student engagement and development.

Wow. What a career. I was challenged in so many beautiful ways in my most recent. I don’t know if the students realize just how reciprocal that experience was. Some would ask me questions that I either did not know the answer to or just hadn’t considered and I had to think. They couldn’t walk away empty-handed. They didn’t come to me to walk away empty-handed so we had to think it through together. And sometimes I just had to say, “I don’t know but this is what I do know…here are some things to consider, people you may want to speak with who might know more.” Watching those young adults process what’s to come next, laying out their hopes and ambitions showed me how complacent I had become.

I would say I am a fairly reasonable, logical person…to a fault. I will think myself out of a good time. That being said, I do not take a lot of risks. I make pros and cons lists and I go with what makes the most sense based on my many hours of mulling it over. Most often, I am right in my decisions. I like certainty, accuracy. I am not proclaiming to always be right but when it comes to making decisions for myself, I am pretty sure in my decision when I make it. That’s smart. That’s logical. It’s cute but it’s not fun and, for me, it wasn’t living. So, when the time came to decide if I was going to continue another year in my most recent position, I had to say no even though I did not have anything lined up. I took a leap of faith.

I have read a couple of cool books by cool people talking about daring, out of the box, leap of faith type of experiences.  The two that come to mind are Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Amazing books. I highly recommend them. I resonated with so many of the stories. I just hadn’t taken my leaps, tried new things, stepped out of the comfort zone, looked past the fear. I stayed right where it was safe thinking about how much these books made sense…until I said, “No.” No meant I had a month and it was on to something new yet unknown.

I want to say these leap of faith stories only talk about how they took these leaps and everything worked out and yay; that they don’t tell you of the struggles between the leap and the landing. That would be a lie. The truth is I read the in-betweens. I held on to the yays, the magic moments. These last few months after my “no” has been a S T R U G G L E!!! I can’t begin to tell you about the internal challenges. Struggle bus central.

So, here I am. 30 going on 31, riding what feels like a neverending struggle bus, living in my uncle’s loft, waiting to start a job. I traded my friends for my family.  They are both awesome groups of people but different groups of people. Social life, professional life, romantic life…all of it is up in the air. Why? Because I said, “No.” Here’s the beauty of that:

I said no to living in fear. I said no to living a life that I wasn’t happy with. I said no to stress and anxiety. I said no to complacency. I said no to routines. I said no to comfort zones. I said no to doing what I have always done: what “makes sense.”

My “no” meant “yes” to faith, to new adventures and challenges. It meant yes to taking risks for the betterment of my growth. It meant yes to living. It meant yes to trying.

So, no. I am not at all where I thought I was. I am in a moment of character-building. I am living an adventure, choosing my happiness and taking risks. I am saying “yes” to “big magic.” Many do not understand it. Many have ideas and suggestions as to what I should be doing. Hell, I have thoughts on what I should be doing or should have done but, here we are. I can’t say I made the wrong decision. I know I made the right one, in fact, I just did not, and do not entirely know where this will lead me and that is the scarily fun part.

My mom has been pretty retrospective today. She talked about how she was feeling 11/23/86. She couldn’t sleep. She walked the house looking at everyone else sleeping. She was so uncomfortable. She happened to walk back to her room and my dad asked if she thought they should go to the hospital. The next afternoon I made my debut. Funny enough, I was born on a Monday. It’s funny because that just makes sense to me. Let’s start this life at the start of the week. LOL

My mom said today, as we were standing in the kitchen cooking, “Sweet pea, I’m proud of you.” I have heard that a lot from her but, in those moments, it made sense. Currently unemployed(ish) without my own home and few dollars in my pocket I quipped, “Why?!” She said, “Because you’re living you’re life your way…the way you want to live it.” I am. I must admit I am pretty proud of that myself.

Going into 2017, I felt it would be the year of reconciliation and it surely was. So many relationships were reconciled but, there were things reconciled within my own self as well.

So, here’s to 31. May you live your life with conviction and truth. May you live it brave, creatively and compassionately. May you trust the process and continue to learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. May you continue to trust God and your gut. May you continue to build relationships so powerful they make you cry. May you love honestly though it can be both overwhelming beautiful and painful…because, regardless, it’s worth it. May you continue to dream, to hope, to play. May you massage your passions and curiosities. Let yourself create and let it be. Hey you, I love you.

– Me

 

 

Advertisements

Toothbrush: A Response to a Prompt

tooth-brushHave you ever stopped and thought about the power of a toothbrush? Think about it. A toothbrush is part of a set of tools designed to provide you with the confidence of a fresh mouth.  Confidence in the hygiene of your mouth – correlated to the appearance and smell, leads to greater confidence when meeting someone knew, smiling big or knowing that plaque isn’t going to make its way to your arteries and cause a heart attack…at least not from a lack of oral hygiene.

And smiles?! Smiles are probably the most disarming thing out there…next to laughter.  Smiles are contagious, they release hormones, blah blah blah, good stuff, bunnies and unicorns.  I think you get my point. A toothbrush is powerful.

The other thing I think about when thinking of a toothbrush is vulnerability. Let’s say you’re meeting someone for the first time, personal or professional, you probably want to be sure your breath is fresh and there is no parsley in your teeth.  Maybe you aren’t meeting someone for the first time but you just had an amazing cheese steak sandwich that was loaded with onions for lunch and you have a team meeting right after.  Granted, you probably thought this through already but sometimes the cravings grab us by the collar and we don’t give two pennies of thought to what our breath may smell like.  In those moments, aren’t we looking for a toothbrush? Gum? Mint?

I mean, who cares if anyone else can smell it, sometimes it’s bugging you. That’s enough to be just a smidgen uncomfortable.

On the other hand, arguably the most freeing moments are when you are around people you’re comfortable with. Mom. Sibling. Partner. Bestie. Those folks can deal with morning breath, lunch breath, jalapeno breath. These companions will also, however, tell you when you are in dire need of a toothbrush – either for their sake or yours.

I have to admit, I love a good honest friend. To have someone that will call me on my stuff – stuff I sometimes don’t know I have, is powerful.  It causes me to pause, re-evaluate and move forward. Sometimes it causes me to freeze or change course. My best friends are those that challenge me to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability, as simple as it is, is not an easy thing. No sir. It’s not the response I may receive that i get anxious about. It’s the being honest with myself part.

I’m going to go on a limb, and you’ll probably disagree, but honesty has layers. Facts are real. The truth is relative. Honesty has layers.

ogres

Let me explain.

Fact: I was engaged. The truth about what happened will be different depending on who is telling the story. How I honestly felt about it changed at different points as I processed my emotions with different lenses.

I am angry. Why am I angry? I am moreso disappointed. Why am I disappointed? I thought we would work out. …I wanted us to work out. …I wanted us to work out because of my own timeline for my life. …Now that I look back on it, we probably pushed the dating idea due to pressures from ourselves and those around us. …The level of love and commitment and maturity wasn’t there for us to have a flourishing marriage.

That level of honesty with myself took years.  It also took a lot of conversations with friends who knew and didn’t know the situation. The stories my homies tell now surprise me. I didn’t know that I was so openly raw. But I needed to be. And I needed friends that would let me be. And I needed friends that would encourage me to be. And one of those friends and I keep coming back to a conversation about how we can be or why we aren’t just vulnerable.

Why does vulnerability have conditions? Haven’t we all seen the power of healing that comes from sharing one’s story? Connecting with people in a raw and honest way? But we, I, keep making “buts” about why I shouldn’t just be vulnerable.

You can probably guess by now that I love connecting with people. I’m all about making friends but best believe there are levels to friendship. And, you guessed it, there are levels to vulnerability with these individuals. And the question my friend keeps asking is, “What do you have to lose?” …I may have onion breath…

breath check
Toothbrush