Monday, August 31, 2015

Looking over the Cliff...

I wanted to write a post dedicated to my 33rd year.  A post that spoke to the things I learned this past year, and who I was as a result of it.  My birthday falls at a perfect time for my profession.  It always falls at the beginning of the school year, a time when I am starting over as a teacher.  A time when things are fresh and new.  In many ways my years run from August to July, instead of the typical January to December.  I am okay with my life running this way....and Target has even come to grasp the fact that teachers lives/years start in August, not January.  So here's to reflecting on the old year, and looking forward to the new.  

I was looking over the cliff, at least that is how I felt.  As I looked down on the aqua blue water below, I thought about what I was about to do.  I could jump, there wasn't a guarantee that I would even land in the water, there was definitely no guarantee that the water was deep enough for a jump that high.  I could die, I could hit the side of the cliff, I could land in the water and be okay.  These were all possibilities.  

My life had taken a turn that I hadn't imagined.  I was broken, alone, and in a place where I only felt attacked, put down, and hated.  It was not a fun place to be.  When you would rather jump off a cliff, then face the people around you, well you know that you have decision to make. 

I like to pretend that life is perfect, that I have everything together, and that I always make the right decisions.  It just isn't true though. Life is messy, there are sometimes no matter what I do I can't be happy.  But I learned in this last year, that really happy is something that you choose to be.  It's a choice that you make.  Jumping off the cliff wouldn't make me happy.  It would be an easy fix, it would get rid of the problems for a little while, but it wouldn't change my level of satisfaction. 

So I chose not to jump off the cliff.  I chose to keep walking on the trail, to take a deep breath, and look at the good that was around me, the good that was within me.  I chose to look ahead to where I needed to go, and endure whatever I needed to along the way.  For that I came through the year learning a few things, being a little stronger, and able to love a little more. 

Here are some truths I learned:

#7   Each person you meet along your journey was put there for a reason, examine all your relationships and encounters, learn from them, receive them, and then let them go if you need to.

I am not so good at the letting go part.  I tend to hold on way past time that I should.  Once you get past my wall, you can pretty much punch me in the face and I will still want you in my life.  I spent this past year watching someone that I really cared about self-destruct.  It isn't a fun thing to watch.  It is hard, it is messy, and it hurts.  I am thankful for the people in my life, but this year has taught me that some people truly should only be in our lives for moments.  They teach us, and we let them go.

#6    My journey is unique to me. I'm not perfect, and I never will be. I choose to live my journey with grace and love. I choose to trust that every moment is a moment to treasure and learn from.

This year has taught me so much about having grace for myself.  I tend to be really tough on myself.  Guess part of that is first child perfectioness syndrome.  I want to do things the right way, all the time.  I do not want to make mistakes, and if I make them I want them to not be noticed.  This year has taught me to embrace my messy journey.  I am not perfect, and I can't be perfect.  It is my imperfections that make me unique, make me worthy of humaness, and make me love the imperfections in others more.

#5   It's okay to like change. Change is good, but so is blooming where you are planted. The balance is unique to my journey, but taking it one day at a time is definitely a huge part of a successful blooming story.

Change is all around us.  As Americans I feel like we hate change, we go out or our way to make change non-existent.  This year has taught me that change is so good.  I already loved changed, but I have learned that if we don't change, we don't grow.  If we aren't constantly looking for ways we can improve, then we can't bloom.  I want to bloom, I want to grow daily.  I don't ever want to just live.  I want blossom.

#4  Dreams and goals are there as a guideline. Just because dreams and goals change over time, doesn't make you a failure, in fact it just inspires you to never stop dreaming, or living!

Why is it that we make those that aren't married with 2.5 kids at the age of 33 failures?  I have dreams and goals that have not yet come to pass and they may never happen.  That doesn't mean that I am a failure.  This was my Jesus year.  The year that Jesus had his most successful ministry if that is the way you look at it.  Failure is failing to make dreams, it isn't when those dreams and goals change.  My hope is that every single day my dreams and goals are tweaked and changed in a creative way.  Life would be boring otherwise!  

#3  Being true to who you are is more important then having a million people following you.

My human nature wants to be known.  I want to leave a legacy, but in fact if my legacy is false and only what I think others want me to be, then how is that a legacy in the first place?  It doesn't matter how many people read this post, or comment on it.  I think what really matters is that I am authentic and myself.  This year I learned how to be more of myself.  There will be people that don't like me.  I have to be okay with that.  I have to be me.

#2 Community doesn't just happen over night. Community takes courage, perseverance, and the willingness to be authentic. Community is something worth climbing the unfamiliar mountain for.

This is one I am still learning.  Everyday I have to remember that there is so much courage to being in community.  You have to be willing to be yourself, be brave, and be willing to get hurt.  You have to keep putting people first, no matter what kind of obstacles there seems to be.  I remember about 10 years ago, I was content to be around people who were just like me.  I am no longer that way.  Community to me means celebrating those differences, climbing through the hard times together, and making it to the top of the mountain.

#1    Being authentic is about the truth that lays within. Being real, open, honest, and unique. Not hiding behind the expectations that others put on you, but instead living out the expectations you have for yourself. Being authentic means genuinely loving and living life.

This year taught me to be myself.  It taught me that even in the midst of people telling lies about me, judging me, gossiping right in front of my face, stabbing me in the back, and other things that are too hard to mention.  Even in the midst of those things, I can still be authentic.  I realized as I looked back that I really wasn't the person this past year that I wanted to be.  It was too hard to see beyond the hurt and pain and be happy.  I focused on the pain instead of overcoming it.

I choose to be authentic.  I choose to love.  I choose to use this Jesus year as  turn around point for my faith, my life, my love and the outlook I have of the world.  I choose to be happy in the midst of pain.  I choose to see from other's point of view, and love them anyway.  I choose to listen, when all I want to do is defend.  I choose to make a difference, and challenge those around me to live authentically.

This year was my growth year.  There won't be another year 33.  It was tough, it was challenging, but I made it.

I am different, I am changed, but I am still me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Walking Through Spider Webs

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, but just have not sat down to do it.  I feel like there is so much on my mind, especially tonight that I just need to write. 

This summer I spent my summer in Rocky Mount.  I was the program director at a special needs camp, and it changed my life in so many ways.  I went thinking that it was going to be a nice way to step outside of my comfort zone, and earn some extra money in my time off of teaching.  What I didn't know was that I was going to be stretched beyond anything that I have ever known before. 

This summer was so draining.  It was so tough.  I went in wanting to give 110% because I wanted to be the best program director the camp has ever had.  What I found out is that you can give 110% and still not live up to people's expectations. 

A few days after camp was finished for me I went on a camping trip.  I needed time to think about and process all that I had went through during my 9 weeks at a special needs camp.  I probably chose to go on this quest on one of the hottest days of the summer. 

Just the heat, a fire, my little backpacking tent, and my journal.  I spent so much time just thinking and pondering, but it wasn't until I went on a couple of hikes that I really understood the impact that my summer had on my perspective of life. 

As I walked down this trail I found myself constantly bombarded with spider webs.  I literally walked through a spider web every 2 seconds it felt reality it was probably every 5 minutes or so.  As the spider webs hit me in the face and I tried to get them off I had this very real sense that this was a parallel to my own life.  The trail was my summer adventure.  The spider webs were the obstacles that I continued to face during the summer.  Stepping into the webs, was like every time I was given another task, or an unkind word.  They hung on me, annoying me.  I tried so hard to be free of them, but the webs or words just kept hanging on.  As I walked that trail, listening to nature...seeing the flowers I realized that I had given up my power.  I had given up some of myself.  I had lost track of the beauty that is camp, and only focused on the problems and words that were only meant to cause harm not good. 

Towards the end of the trail I realized that my summer didn't need to be defined by those negative thoughts/people.  My summer was what I wanted it to be.  I got to step outside of my comfort zone, and realize people with differences they are so amazing.  They love without expecting anything back in return.  They are joyful even when their life isn't perfect.  They give till there's nothing left to give. 

I choose to let the good memories stay.  I choose to remember the campers/staff that changed my life.  The ones that were there for me through everything.  I choose to allow my life to be changed.