Information Overload

Information Overload: Disorientation, frustration, or confusion resulting from too much mental or visual stimuli or attempts to process or organize multiple tasks simultaneously.

Urban Dictionary: “Urban Dictionary is used for sentimental purposes or just for sh**s and giggles.”.  They had me at hello with that website description of its intended use. Thank you to my recent friend made who reminded me of this resource. I promise to overuse it to the point of annoyance.

I’m writing again. Today I will get uncomfortably close to “Information Overload”. I took a little trip around the moon and I’ve learned a few things. I left my verbal filter back there somewhere and it calls to me at times, but I am a big girl now and realize that I can share my stuff and leave the responsibility to the reader to use whatever filter they work best with. I think that’s how we all manage to deal anyway. We take information in, give it a filtering process and whatever nuggets of truth that get through the density of your filter are yours for the taking. Whatever is left behind is either up for grabs for another or it just felt good for me to get it off my chest. I’m okay with this process.

I could talk for days right now, but I’ll go bitesize:

3 points to ponder:

  1. No one human was meant to be all things to all men. That is a job description best fulfilled by God and God alone. There’s a scripture about that. Spoiler alert: I am the “weak” He was referring to. I am completely okay with this now.
  2. It’s not only “okay” to be yourself in absolutely every single scenario of your life, it’s imperative. This little life journey is sometimes extremely overwhelming at times. So is attempting to do algebra with my son as a grown ass woman who’s paid her dues with respect to homework (see college diploma). Somewhere way back there I already passed algebra. So, I’m kinda done pretending I know what the frick the value of “x” or “y” is. Those two letters, that are really numbers masked by the alphabet, and laugh at me as I exhaust myself bending over backwards trying to find their value: I’m over it. My thought here is this: “X” and “Y” either the two of you just be whatever number you are right in front of my eyes or retire. Go live with the alphabet. They have accepted you as one of their own. You are free. Quit making us try so hard to get to know you. And for the love- I’m not plotting your potential with a protractor. I could be wrong, but I think that’s your job. I’m sorry architects, but we all know that approximately no one uses a protractor. Ever. I’m sure you feel cute when you go “old school” and break it out in some meeting…. but, you ruin it for all of us with maneuvers like that. Save us all the trouble and use your protractor to pick a lock for a room with a door you shut too soon. There are calculators and computers and programs all built by human brains just like yours that are offering all of us a mental shortcut so we can focus on the important stuff…. like getting to my point here: You don’t need to be anything other than the exact representation of your intended value. Take a room full of people. Someone in that room is better for having been near you. What you have to say matters. What we all see on the outside of you serves as nothing more than a welcome sign to come inside and take a look around, stay a while, learn a thing or two. It’s not complicated. No one person makes the world go round. It apparently takes a billion different people to the power of infinity to make the world a place worth living in. You are not going to ruin anything by being yourself. You are just giving everyone a shortcut through all the available things and getting us straight to your intended value. Right up front. No one benefits having left your presence exhausted searching for the real you. “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up”. Written by Marshall Bruce Mathers III, otherwise known as Eminem, has a hit song about this. The song lyrics are not worth highlighting. I am strictly referring to the hook. I feel like I made my point somewhere in the above rant. Take what you will. Leave what you want. I hate algebra. I do love architects. People that show who they really are become a gift to everyone they come in contact with. Period. Full Stop. The End …. of the Beginning of my next and final point for today….
  3. It’s all gonna be okay. I am banking on that. Everyone feels a little bit lonely and broken. Everyone. And I can totally prove it. Remember the game “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?”…. I found Carmen you guys. He is not as handsome as I expected. But, I found the infamous dude in a red and white horizontal striped sweater that somehow doesn’t add 10 extra pounds (insert eyeroll here). He (She) is sitting on a street corner begging for money wondering how he got to that place. He (She) is sitting in a cafe in Rome wearing some lovely, European exclusive, scented perfume sipping coffee while it rains outside. He (She) is in a prison serving a life sentence that he earned with one decision that lead to a series of questionable decisions and culminated in a decision (made in the heat of some moment) where he was at his breaking point. He (She) is sitting in an AA meeting trying to remember what we all forget too soon- We are NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER ALONE. He (She) is pounding it out in an office on the top floor of some building directing the future for all of us through his inexhaustible creativity while we all function at ground level blissfully unaware. He (She) is the self employed, friend of many and mother of four that sits in a Hobby Lobby parking lot crying after returning something purchased at said store with extremely stupid name. She is crying because she is at Hobby Lobby in Woodbury because that’s where her second therapy appointment for the week was and conveniently also where last weekend she left her computer in a high school bathroom (I cannot even) after 9 hours (Zero exaggeration) of watching basketball that she could care less about. She also cries because sitting in the car at 5:00pm while the traffic dies down contemplating her life is all she can do at the moment. That is what her level of self care has come to. She cries as she faces the fact that she feels alone again and is overwhelmed by her own insecurities that seem to be in charge…. again. Carmen San Diego is a lot of other places too. We’ll get to that.

I leave you with this: Every single time your life looks anything like the examples above, to whatever degree, you say this to yourself: “I matter. I’m not one big bundle of screwed up. I’m just one of the humans that this planet is hosting. My real day job is simply to be ME all day long. That feels incomprehensible at times, but it does for everyone else too. Open your eyes. Fix your tear soaked makeup. Drive the distance home that you need to and don’t worry about being late again. Home is where the heart is. You are doing your absolute best and if that’s “enough” for everyone will be a question that goes unanswered until you leave this fine Earth. It’s all gonna be okay. And for every single thing else shove a huge “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” straight up the middle.” That, friends, is your next best move.

Fix You – song that summarizes the 1200 plus words above.

You’re welcome. I believe in us.

One man’s trash….

…. Is another man’s treasure.

I’m convinced that there is nothing… literally nothing of waste in this life in terms of experiences we face.

I’m sitting in my favorite spot in my house as I write this morning. The sun rises around me. I stare out the wrap around porch windows to the lush green surround that makes me feel completely hidden despite the hustle of traffic I hear in the distance. My fiddle leaf fig, which is my favorite tree in my favorite room, stands tall and yet drooping in the corner surely from over watering in my eagerness to establish its roots. My coffee sits piping on my favorite piece of furniture in my favorite room just across from my favorite droopy tree. A collection of seashells, where no one is like the other, hangs on the wall reminding of my first love. If a hundred hanging seashells don’t initiate an image for you there’s a picture of an ocean’s pier just opposite that mimics the pier of my home town and my favorite landing spot on the planet: Cocoa Beach. My favorite room, my favorite tree, my favorite piece of furniture (that holds my favorite beverage), surrounded by images of my favorite place on this Earth. What is not to love? Believe me, I love this room so very much as it sits perched off the far back side of the house to the degree that my four children seem to forget it’s here and therefore…. miraculously forget to bug me while I’m in it.

As surrounded as I am this morning with peace, quiet and my favorite things a la Oprah Winfrey style, one item of interest catches my eye above all the rest. In the corner below the hanging seashells sits a doorstop. A DOORSTOP. At least- that’s what it was used for when I crossed paths with it. It sat outside tossed to the right of the front door of a home I was staging for resale. The homeowner had emptied the place, but left behind the convenient doorstop for whomever needed it. How thoughtful of him. Everyone needs a good old doorstop. When I laid eyes on this doorstop it was love at first sight and I was baffled how anyone could leave it behind…. IMG_8859

Don’t even play! You too have shock and awe that this beauty was used as a doorstop. When I saw it – it stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me of driftwood, which reminds me of the ocean, which reminds me of my favorite place. I had the rare, but desperate boldness to ask the realtor to ask the homeowner if he minded that I took the “doorstop”. And so it goes: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

What’s the friggin point? Just pause for a minute today and hear me. HEAR ME. There are things in your life that look like absolute crap… to you. There are places you have been and moments you’ve experienced that may seem entirely meaningless…. to you. There are pains you’ve encountered that have left you wondering what the point of it all was for. I have seen it time and time and time again so far in this little life of mine and I’m convinced that NOTHING is wasted. What has looked like and felt like complete trash to you has, in reality, served you with a treasure trove of depth and understanding. Your pain has NOT been in vain. It can be the treasure of your life to another man that needs a hearing ear and a listening heart some day. The experiences in your life that seem little more significant than a doorstop can be the very moments that generated a knowing in you. That knowing, in turn, can stir and heal and mend the heart of another gracing them with beauty of feeling seen and known and ultimately ….. not alone.

I know it’s hard. But, just for a moment imagine that your life and its myriad of experiences that carved you out hollow are like a glistening, blindingly bright treasure to those who encounter you.

I believe in us and that nothing we’ve experienced has been of waste.

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*Favorite table credit: Timber & Tulip

The Body

A kindergarten teacher once asked her students what the purpose of their body was. The classroom’s consensus and precious reply was this: “It’s used to hold our head up.”

Oh, the irony of that perspective. The profound simplicity.

When I was in nursing school (far too long ago) I had to take anatomy and physiology. I straight up consumed every lecture like it was as good as air. I loved it so much I swear I’d go back right now and take it again. I was fascinated by the genius of the machine that our bodies are on a cellular level. (I mean, can I please get a quick shout out for the Krebs Cycle or what?!) Like many of my fellow colleagues, I held several different positions as an RN. In my former glory years, I worked in Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Surgical Intensive Care and Trauma Nursing. I had the fortune to see the body function, heal and sustain mind blowing injuries. I saw countless babies inhale their first breath. In my Trauma days, I saw a man live to tell about the horror of falling thirty feet from a building onto a bar of rebar that impaled itself straight through his skull. I saw the inside of a chest cavity more times than I can count. I can do CPR in my sleep like a BOSS. I’ve seen patients return to an alert state of mind after being comatose for two whole months or more. Our bodies are incredible and they’re forever seeking a state of whole homeostasis (stable equilibrium).

If we stopped for a quick ponder, no doubt, we would all agree that our bodies are intelligent and globally mesmerizing. In the light of my knowledge, experience and education why then did I allow my mind to reduce the sole purpose of my body to: appear “thin”? Why did I lose the respect and wonder of its actual functions and endless abilities? At what turn did I begin to believe the shallow societal notion that our size and shape are our vehicle for securing other people’s opinion of us? That’s such a slap in the face to the wonderment of the body’s near indescribable capabilities.

I’ve lived with a (self-limiting) narrative that I’m as good, desirable, acceptable and respectable as I am thin. As if “thinness” is the showcase for my worth; the strength of my internal locus of control; or the reflection of my self discipline. As if “thinness” equals beauty somehow and suggests that my body is all that and then some. As if “thinness” somehow secures my seat at the table of life one row ahead of where I’d be otherwise. I can hardly get over how shallow that sounds. I can barely stomach how narrow that perspective is and the realization that it ruled my life for decades.

We have to fight a little bit. We have to wrestle a lot a bit. We have to subscribe again and again and AGAIN to the truth that we are so much more valuable than our size or shape. I have two daughters and two sons. When I think of how beautiful and priceless they are I want to protect them and filter any influence over their belief system in their worth like a raging caged animal. I want to stand at the gates of their thoughts and arrest anything that will mess with their sense of how precious they are. I would fight to the death to protect them. I would need massive restraint as I’d nearly rip the throat out of anything that spoke crap over them. FACT: I am worth that same level of intensity. How can I convince my children of something I don’t believe for my own self? I have learned repeatedly that kids can smell a fake from a mile away.

People- please hear me. There’s nothing easy about going against the grain of society. I think we all know that full well. I let my mind be water boarded by shallow lies for sooooo damn long. There is no time like the present to stand up for myself and to get vigilant about protecting what thoughts I believe to be true about my value. I have children to model authentic self confidence for. I have WHOLE people to care for. My body, in full view, is a total machine y’all. It is working around the clock for me. In the same way that our bodies are infinitely more complex than simply holding our heads up, our worth is tied to so much more than our size and appearance. There genuinely is NO room to believe otherwise.

I believe in US.

 

 

 

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

“When confusion or pain seems to tighten what is possible, when sadness or frustration seems to shrink your well-being, when worry or fear agitates the peace right out of you, try lending your attention to the nearest thing.” Mark Nepo

Life is a mixed bag. Some days our greatest struggles include, “how do I get my laundry done, floors mopped, get to Costco, the gas station and back in time to pick up the kids from school?” Other days our greatest struggles include, “How do I make it through this day without absolutely breaking down under the weight of what sits in my heart?” And other days our struggles lie somewhere in-between.

To live a full life means to be fully alive to both the mundane and the storms of pain and emotion that come our way.

Hope. Defined: to cherish a desire with anticipation; to expect with confidence. The Hope is that we stay awake and receptive to both the mundane and the storms without shutting down, closing off, or worse stuffing it all away. Facing our story can be brutal at times…. like a storm or a mid April snow shower that dumps eight inches on the ground that had finally thawed and was showing signs of life again (Thanks so much Minnesota). Things creep up on us from time to time as we move through our narrative chapter by chapter. Unwelcome things. Unexpected things. Painful things. Things we didn’t anticipate.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. That lyric is a bit genius and not merely for child’s play. Rainbows show up in the sky after it has just rained and the light shines through the water droplets like a prism. After it has just rained…. indicating there was a storm either great or small. And the nearest thing that reminds us that our peace will come is that bright, beautiful cascade of colors painting the sky.

When trouble comes your way – face it. Embrace it. Feel it. Move through it. Let it have its way. And then…. Lend your attention to the rainbow and the hope that just above its prism of colors from light permeating the water droplet filled skies that the skies above ARE blue. Your release will come. Your healing will come. Your peace will come. You’ll get to Costco and back in time and you’ll get through the heaviness of your story. But, stay awake to both. Stay fully alive to your story. Lend your attention to hope and the anticipation that your peace will come, your page will turn, and your story is as beautiful as a rainbow high in the sky.

I believe in us. Stay awake. Live fully alive. You matter.

When the Birds Sing

“We share the same river, and where it enters, we lose our stubbornness the way fists wear open when held under in the stream of love.” Mark Nepo

I’m sitting here this morning taking a pause. I hear birds chirping outside my window and I swear it’s filling my heart with peace. Peace, because their song tells me that the arduous Minnesota winter has indeed come to a close. There’s still snow in mounds on the ground here and there that’s melting all too slowly. But, it had its day and Spring has bid it adieu.

Life is like that.

This winter was a brutal one. Technically, they all are with me being born and raised in Florida (which is God’s favorite state, but you already knew that). The winter grind in life hollows us out, sends a chill through our bones, and makes us seek warmth. The tough stuff of life does the same work. When difficulty waltzes into our story we often feel a cold river rush through our soul. We sometimes stand a little frozen and don’t want to move much. And the work to simply go outside, having to put on seven layers and all, is exhausting. We slow down, hunker down and wait… We wait for the birds to come. We wait to hear their song that tells us that the sun is on our side and everything is gonna get better from here on out.

We go through seasons and some are so much harder than others. Some things in life cause our fists to clench and we can feel like fighting our way through. Not the good kind of fight, the ugly, scrappy, irritated kind of fight. There are struggles present in my life that I often just feel mad at. I want to raise my fists and knock them into next week. But, as I sit here this morning, serenaded by the birds, I feel a river of peace wash over me. I realize I want to dip my clenched fists into that river and emerge with open palms so I can receive what’s on the other side of my winter. I want to calm down, embrace my story gently, and take in the lesson of it all. I want the frozen mounds to melt in me and to give way to the Earth beneath. The sun will come for us. It always comes for us at just the right time.

There is ALWAYS a Spring on the other side of your winter. Do not be disheartened today. The birds have come. They are singing for you to remind you that you’re gonna make it. Dip your fists into that river of love and open your palms to receive the lesson. The winter is hard. It’s always hard. But, let peace have its way in you today and let those birds remind you of how strong and beautiful you truly are.

I believe in us.

Dear Homework

Dear Homework-

I hate you. Is that too harsh? I’m sorry, not sorry.

If I remember correctly I graduated High School. And college for that matter. I have done my time, man. I put in my hours and made it through and I did right by you. I mastered my 3×5 cards and studied like a boss. You have a lot of audacity to show back up in my home like every stinking night with a vengeance. We soothed ourselves by saying, “I’ll never have to use this again.” Turns out that was a big fat lie.

Math. Seriously- bite me. My dad is a math teacher. I disgrace his legacy daily around here. Who in the Frick wants to add, multiply, and subtract fractions at 40 years old? No one. And by no one, I mean no one. You are not welcome here pre-algebra. Take your x’s and y’s and go. Far away. I don’t want to figure out what number you are. Just tell us already so we can all move right along. I have meals to cook, laundry to fold, and fights to break up. You are cramping my flow. There are tears and complaining around here and I’m soothing my kids with, “you’ll never have to use this again”….. until you have children of your own, that is, and you have to PULL them through their homework.

Spelling. Dear baby Jesus. I have managed to get through life pretty squarely and I thought intelligently. But, as it turns out I apparently don’t know how to spell words. Thankfully, I am the one quizzing my kids. And thank you so much for reminding me that I have relied heavily on spell check to the point that I’m a little dumb and dumber. Why is my fourth grader smarter than me?

History. I can’t even. There are just too many details. Too much has happened around here. I really just want to watch documentaries on Netflix, okay? I don’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday much less the leader of some (albeit super important) war that occurred approximately a billion years ago. All I really know is Eve ate the apple, she blamed Adam and now we have to do homework. The end.

Geography. Where in the world is Carmen SanDiego? Where in the world is anything? Did I even take geography as a kid? I’m thinking no because these countries you’re needing me to show my kids where they are …. literally the first time I’ve even heard of them. My world view is the size of a penny I guess. I get it. Got it. Thanks for the confidence boost geography.

To all the parents out there doing homework with your children I see you. I feel you. I pray for us. If we can get through this I swear we can get through anything. Amen and amen.

 

The Mystery of Pain

We will do just about anything to avoid pain. But, pain is a component of life that is simply unavoidable. No mystery there. The mystery lies in the travel time through it all and the resilience its journey produces.

I think of the book I’ve read to my children a thousand times or more “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”. There’s a line that reads in repetition every time they come to an impasse: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ve got to go through it…” We never truly know when we’ll find ourselves on the other side of pain. It’s a thing we must travel all the way through. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts.

To this day, I have not wrapped my head around why God allows so many painful experiences in people’s lives. I’m literally dumbfounded by what certain people have encountered and come out the other side of still standing upright in their spirit. The human resilience is staggering.

But, why? Why does God allow such torrential downpours in our lives? Like my six-year-old says, “Can’t we all just live in candy world”? I don’t have even the slightest answer for “Why”, but I do know this….

The pain I’ve experienced in my life has produced in me a river of empathy and compassion for others. It has wrought in me a hushed, quieted, slowed down surrender to the busy bee cadence of my life. It has provided me with eyes to see more clearly, ears to hear more acutely, and hands that give more readily. It has helped me to feel joy more fully on a deeper level than I knew was available. It has mysteriously let me learn that, in hindsight, we are strong, and able, and capable to weather any storm. It has taught me that I’m NOT better off alone – we need others. And when others show up for us, and lift us, and hold us, and care for us… there is beauty in the exchange. The kind of beauty that defies logic and lasts forever in our memories.

Pain is teacher, a mentor, a wise guide into the finer things of life. It hurts like Hell sometimes, but as Mark Nepo writes, “We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep. Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink. But, life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all.”

Pain is a mystery. It’s an entirely un-welcomed teacher that crushes us, but strangely does not leave us in pieces. It always, always, always partners with healing and time and those two somehow, some way co-mingle with one another and produces a mending.

One of my favorite scriptures from Psalm 107 reads, “He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed and He carried me to my desired haven.”

Wherever you are today – be carried by the deep. Be lifted by those around you. Be hushed by the knowing that time and healing will mend you.

God will not abandon you. He just won’t. Ever. He will carry you – today – and all the way through to your desired haven.

I believe in us.

 

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Oh man. Sometimes we just feel the torrential rush of the troubled waters. We feel the cadence of our failures rush against our ankles. We see ripples of many moments missed and botched by our weakness’ to our left and right and we feel super heavy. Like an anvil tied around our neck and we are almost drowning beneath the weight of it all.

Thank God for God. He takes the MOST broken places and He comes for us. Piece by piece. Mending by mending. Morning by morning. He will not leave you stranded. He will not abandon a broken heart. He will not allow a flower to wither in the desert. He brings the sustaining rain in its due time. He provides the bridge over the troubled waters and He obliterates the troll guarding it all.

Broken places are no joke. They call to us and suggest we are a hot, hot mess. But, child – you are never beyond repair. Never. The crap you’ve pulled over the years is hushed by the weight of the grace of God. It’s literally quieted under the mystery of His redeeming kindness toward us. He will show up for you. He will come for you. He will lift your heavy heart out of a tub of piranhas and set your feet on solid ground.

He redeems EVERYTHING.

It’s all gonna be okay. All of it.

I believe in us.

Under Pressure

Pressure. It mounts on every side from time to time.  Pressure to be something. Pressure to change something. Pressure to grow something. Pressure to nurture something. Pressure to be whole. Pressure to embrace our brokenness. Pressure to dream. Pressure to live out our dreams. Pressure to produce. Pressure to be perfect. Pressure to accept our imperfections. Pressure to spin the plates. Pressure to keep the plates spinning. Pressure to effect change in the world. And on and on and on….

Sometimes I just feel pressure on every side and I genuinely want to scream.

Raise your hand if you’ve bought into the pressure cooker phenomenon of the Instant Pot?! I was raised with a mom and grandma that used the pressure cooker of the olden days. The kind that had a little bobber on the top that would wobble back and forth in a furry and make this loud hissing noise. You’d have to seriously know how to use the thing because there was no “indicator light” to tell you when to open it. You had to trust your instinct, memorize how long things needed to cook, and literally learn the sounds it made to know just when to open it up. Otherwise, you’d have a mess on your hands and green beans might explode all over your kitchen. Thanks to modern advancements the pressure cooker of our day, Instant Pot, comes with an electrical panel, a little red pressure valve, and a subtle beeping noise that tells us exactly when to open her up. It’s almost fail proof and it cooks your goods in a third of the time that my grandma’s pressure cooker did. There’s so little thinking involved and you can completely walk away from this machine without a watchful eye because it’s programmed for you. And, if that’s not enough, it’ll simmer itself down and keep a timer for you letting you know how long it’s been waiting for you. It handles the pressure for you and all but tells you “I’m done, your food is good to go, but don’t be rushed, I’m just here waiting for you until you’re ready.” There’s almost no human instinct required in the use of this machine.

Why am I talking ad nauseam about an Instant Pot? I would just like to say that while we have great advancements in kitchen products that handle pressure in a programmable, fail proof, patiently waiting kind of way… Life is more like the pressure cooker of the olden days. Things can heat up with a fury and ripple through us and the only thing that tells us we’ve made our way through a pressured situation is that internal knowing. That familiarity with the sound of our breathing. Life situations just cannot be hurried. The things we need to get through cannot be cut by a third of the time no matter how bad we want them to. If you hurry a healing you may just explode on someone, somewhere, at some time.

We live in a microwave, Instant Pot world. But, life experiences do not follow that trajectory. No matter how advanced we’ve become, sometimes things just need the ways of the days of old. They need time. They need a watchful eye. They need our attention divided as it may be. They need us to know ourselves so well that we are our own indicator that we’ve made it through to the other side.

This is me, right here, right now just offering permission today to not be okay for a while. Some things just take a while to get through. Again, we cannot rush a healing. We cannot spin everything all the time. We cannot walk away from the pressure and expect things to just magically turn themselves out for us. Sometimes we have to sit in our situation longer than we’d like to and …. wait. Wait for the revelation, the inspiration, the change to come. It’s okay to go at it slow and to feel the pressure for what feels like “too long”.

Bottom Line: You are not an Instant Pot. You are a human being that is absorbing life on every side. And oftentimes we need what feels like a really long time to make it through to the other side. And that is seriously okay. Do not rush a breakthrough.

I believe in us.