Callings

“Finding your calling” is something I have heard tossed around often in recent years. A calling – something ancient in you, YOU. It can be personal, it can be an occupation, it can be the way you contribute to the world, it can be big or small. It’s different for everyone.

I used to want to be happy in any situation. That was my goal, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find joy sitting in my apartment, watching movie after movie and ignoring the world, during my first year of grad school because I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t find happiness despite harsh efforts.

A few years ago, sitting in a therapist’s office in Eugene, I took a different approach. I can’t be happy in any situation, but I can bring love to any situation.

Just this year, I gave space for my calling to emerge. And it’s a simple one – sit in love, now. Remember where you are, now. Love, now.

Photography was a love of mine in high school. People who knew me then still ask about it, a passion that I have long forgotten. I wrote college essays about taking pictures – what it’s like when the rest of the world drops away from your frame. Capturing, seeing, appreciating, understanding truth. I joined a club in middle school of retired photographers and learned the first rule: impact, impact, impact. They guided and encouraged and taught me how to see.

I got scared. There are so many good photographers out there. I got distracted – hello boyfriend, hello college. I worked for the college newspaper taking pictures, and got discouraged. There were people so much better.

So, I dropped it. I started writing again instead. I’m still writing, but that feeling of missing my calling with photography pops its ugly head on occasion.With this blog, I can share both words and images. All the photos on here are ones I have framed.

And, I figured it out, for now. My calling is to write, through the lens of a camera. Each morning I get up, write down the date, a few sentences of thought, and choose a picture from my arsenal to describe in words. They are my daily writing chords.

I will share some of these with you in the future, perhaps when I feel dry from other writing or want to nurse this seemingly forgotten blog (hi mom).

Thank you. Thank you readers and friends, for listening and seeing, with me.

Sailing

This blog post is inspired by the new iPad Air commercial, aired sometime between women’s inaugural skiing half pipe and the epic women’s figure skating final during the Sochi Olympics.

It quotes a Walt Whitman poem, O Me! O Life!

“That you are here – that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse”

 

Here’s my verse.

 

 

A full desert and an empty ocean

Sweeping and falling

While the compass, reliable

Shifts in spinning; Rests in pause

 

Only always

 

 

A Space to Heal

        

My body heard the roots crack as the dentist turned the tooth one way, then the next. The Vaseline on my bottom lip helped the cold tool angle where it needed to, left and then right and then left again.

The crown popped off, as expected, from the second root canal the tooth underwent a year ago. That’s when the pain really started, after that second root canal.

The first root canal was when I was in High School, when my braces maneuvered my jaws so only two teeth touched when my mouth closed, killing the tooth with too much contact, too much pressure, too much expectation.

In trying to do something good for myself, something bad happened.

And it happened again with the second root canal. At a routine teeth cleaning a few years ago the dentist told me I would have to get another root canal eventually in the same tooth – number fifteen.

So lots of money was spent doing something good. The first dentist had missed a root, which continued a low grade infection for the next ten years. The second root canal packed the root, tickling it’s tip to the edge of the sinuses.

But then the sinuses started hurting, and other new pains never seemed to quite go away.

The dentists agreed that the next best course of action would be to pull number fifteen.

“Do you want to see your tooth?” the dentist asked. He showed it to me, with three strong roots of bone and one root of bloody flesh, limp and infected.

I’m babying that side of my mouth now. But the sinuses still hurt. And the tooth next to number fifteen cries in sharp pain when it hits its lower mate, the shock breaking me into tears. Each time making me afraid this isn’t over, that it might just get worse from here, again.

But if I let it, each time the pain could remind me that as much as I think I have control, I don’t. That even though I think this is my fault, it isn’t.

That, maybe, healing doesn’t always look like healing.

New Years

It’s already been a seemingly tough year. New years generally start with a lot of hope and a first journal entry that encouragingly expounds on possibility and intent.

Not this year. The first journal entry this year started with: “The dream of myself then is not the dream of myself now.”Some may call it growing pains, or some kind of life transition moving to Kansas and living with a man for the first time. But, now in the bleak midwinter with below freezing temperatures, this upcoming year is going to be scary.

I dreamed myself into a certain image when I was young – smart, beautiful, strong, traveling adventuring journalist – but it stopped at the point when I met someone I could see my life with. I thought everything would effortlessly fall into place after that. I stopped fantasizing about myself beyond that point.

And that’s where I am now. I don’t know what happens next. I can create a new image for my future self to find arbitrary worth – perhaps as a teacher or a mother or a writer or whatever I think I want to be.

Or, I don’t have to.Instead of designing a new expectant identity, that separates me from humanity, I can reach into the fear of not knowing in 2014. I can trust, and open, and sit with that soft vulnerable spot in our hearts that connect us all.

I can just be. I can appreciate that I don’t know. And, kindly, that I never will.

You might be rough and scary, 2014, but thank you for it all.

Trains of Thought

With a dry run of inspiration for blog post ideas (after more than a year), it’s time for that fun writing exercise: stream of consciousness writing. So, the following is four minutes of “train of thought” writing. It’s always fun to see where this stuff goes.

          

The sun glances through our new curtains in a divine filter. Makes you smile when you get up in the morning and see it. My boyfriend noticed it first when he got up – oh baby look at the curtains – and yes, it is beautiful. Trains planes and automonames. Automonames. Sounds like a failed Disney movie.

Oh it’s almost Christmas! We are wrapping gifts and cooking things and listening to my Holiday play list of random holiday music that is not holiday music. Kind of fun. Snow outside. Cold outside. Sunny skies and squirrel nests in the trees. Ryan Adams makes me want to dance. Dance with honesty.

There is a pile of books next to me – some of my favorites – waiting to be wrapped. It will be my first Christmas in Kansas. That has a ring to it, huh? Christmas in Kansas. With the north wind and freezing temperatures and icy roads and Christmas wonder. Wonder of everything we know and don’t know, of God, and God. Of control and trust. I know there are more things I don’t know, than what I think I know. We never know, really. Our opinions and what we think is right or wrong or what is going to happen in the future or what we actually want even – we don’t really know. We just watch, and feel, and appreciate wherever the path may wind.

A Death Letter

Dear Death,

Hello!

I just wanted to let you know that you have been on my mind of late, especially since turning 30. I fear you, big time, even though I have been gifted such amazing moments and feelings in this world. It’s more real now, getting older, and after meeting my boyfriend I feel that there is more to be possible in this world, and I have “more” to lose now too – a future I wasn’t expecting (which will of course not happen the way I expect anyway, so perhaps a mute point there).

So, just in case something does happen any day now (like dad comfortingly says, “if it’s you’re time, then it’s you’re time”), here are a few thoughts.

Key to accountability: self-forgiveness.

Key to shame: don’t be ashamed of feeling ashamed.

You’re ego: give it a hug – that’s what it wants anyway.

Don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to love. Don’t forget to not be hard on yourself. Don’t forget that you don’t have to earn self-worth because it is there the whole time. Don’t forget to smile. Don’t forget to be thankful. Don’t forget to love.

We all know these things. But, I need the reminders in a book or a movie or a song or a laugh or a landscape that angles these thoughts in a new slant.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s love. It comes down and back to that: love. So why should death be any different?

Hello Goodbye

A skip. A jump. A catch. The elongated hug as she wraps her legs around his torso, the blue snowflakes on her knitted sweater distorting in as she clings to him. Eventually releasing her, the veins in his arm strain as he holds a bag in one hand and blond woman in his other hand. Reflexively he dares not drop his bag – or her.

Everyone has watched the airport greeting-farewell. Clinging hugs or awkward pats, it is hello and goodbye, releasing and holding, separating and connecting.

It is the same thing. It is the same love. It is the same hug. When she wraps her body around his in goodbye, the snowflakes would have stretched the same way. A hello, and a goodbye.

 

Fifty Shades of Something

Seventy million copies of the trilogy sold worldwide. The motion picture will be released in 2014. I have been involved in numerous discussions about the plot, the “bad” writing, and the romanticization of control and abuse.

So, I finally read the book.

Surprisingly, it hit me on unexpected levels. After participating in a destructive relationship of my own in the past, I had to put the book down for days or weeks until returning to it. Here are a few pull quotes that made me pause (and apologies for getting a little soap-boxy here…)

“So you want to possess things?” You are a control freak

“I want to deserve to possess them, but yes, bottom line, I do.” Pg. 12

It falls back to self-worth; we reach to external answers to mask our internal holes. Things are not our identity, and more things collected for that reason begets more holes. Traveling in Jordan years ago, one of the girls in the tour group bought two paintings that hit her heart. After leaving the Roman ruins and dusty gladiator show at Jerash, she noticed the paintings were not on the bus. Understandably she was upset, but then someone commented, “It’s ok. Easy come, easy go.” True. We are gifted things and people in our lives, and when they leave it’s because we don’t need them anymore. It’s rather freeing, to release the fear of control and impermanence. As my boyfriend commented the other night, we can just hold on tighter somewhere else. We can be grateful instead of wanting – that might really close those holes.

 

“My worst fears have been realized. And strangely, it’s liberating.” Pg. 510

Right now, for some reason, my worst fear is death. I worry about it. In my 20s, I thought I could die happy at any time – I have been lucky to lead an amazing life full of love and dreams coming true. But, at 30, I notice that there is a whole new level of living I’m just beginning to touch on. I have more to lose now – a future that is not just mine anymore. Maybe I am worried about this transition, the death of my old self and reaching into the unknown again. Hmmm…that is rather liberating.

 

“All those decisions – all the wearying thought processes behind them. The ‘is this the right thing to do? Should this happen here? Can it happen now?’ You wouldn’t have to worry about any of that detail.” Pg. 224

Free will is the basis of America, Christianity, the human condition. It is sometimes a relief not to have so many options, not to think there is always something else that is better. I totally get that. But I found my answer about it (thanks mom – I know you’re reading this): It is the right thing to happen, because it is happening right now.

Bottom Line? When we tap into our true nature – devoid of ego or want or stories or man-made suffering – then we don’t have anything to question.

 

 

(Just a gratuitous picture here of a gladiator and I)

Flipping Pages, Again

Well fellow friends and followers – it’s time for another change, and another chapter.

I just turned 30, so the blog’s tag line needs editing, but not too dramatically. Instead of “dangerously close to 30,” it shall become “barely 30”. As time inevitably passes, I would like to start making these changes with grace and integrity instead of with resistance. Clinging and resisting, I think, actually just makes time go faster. Feeling and trusting allows it to slow.

The essence and intention of this blog will endure, so not to worry.

Embarking today for my move to Topeka, Kansas (not via a tornado), I chose to begin another blog to record those adventures that will be happened

upon in Middle America. Check it out or follow the new blog: Kansas Adventuring.

While the Kansas Adventuring blog is a side project, Wonderings and Wanderings will continue to be updated twice a month with posts about geography, humanity, time, connections, and duct taped those small truths.

Even though we are now “barely 30,” we are still wondering and wandering.

Forever, and ever.That’s a promise.

30 Plus Infinity

 

I am thirty today.

 

Here are a handful of thoughts and experiences learned during my 29th year about aging:

 

 

1) Watching the Olympics last summer on TV, I accepted that my unrealistic Olympic dream can never be realized. I had scotch-taped newspaper articles about Kristi Yamaguchi on my bedroom wall as a child, dreaming of the beauty in possibility. Now, my irrational Olympic possibility is even more impossible since I am 30, except perhaps in skeet shooting because the gold medalist was a 33 year-old woman. But it’s ok that I will never by an Olympic figure skater, because I have different images taped to my walls now, ones that still celebrate the beauty in possibility.

2) A personal relationship with hemorrhoids. I don’t think I need to say more here.

3) Inspired by a commercial explaining that Julia Child became a famous chef in her 50s and that Picasso didn’t paint masterpieces in his 20s. Turns out it was an AARP ad.

4) My biggest lesson this year: it’s the process, not the outcome. It’s the space to quiet everything and safely ask the question that allows answers to unfold without fear. They are there.

5) I catch a glimpse in the mirror of my face. More refined, grown, beautiful, and not as afraid to look into my own eyes. I see my mother, grandmother, or sometimes my father, and now I am oh so proud of that.

6) Eating a handful of walnuts on the way to the toilet and one drops into the bowl. That’s an unpublicized reason why you don’t eat in the bathroom. (Basically just a life lesson here, nothing to do with aging).

7) We are all connected. Everyone and everything.

8) My nieces and nephews gave me a tour of six bouncy castles at an establishment called Jump ‘N Bounce about a week before turning 30. Occasionally we just have to suspend our beliefs, and our bodies, to feel joy.

9) Sometimes life isn’t perfect: there may be physical pain or emotional sorrow. But we can’t let that stop us from having fun. And living, nonetheless.

10) Goals before 30 included dancing on a pool table to Journey, mastering parallel parking, peeing my name in the snow, being jailed, eating a steak and drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar simultaneously Ron Swanson style. I have accomplished two of these (I’ll let you guess which ones – pretty much the ones that sound most fun) so I suppose the rest will be added to the “to do before 40 list.”

That’s the thing. No matter our age, it’s the process, always changing and ever-learning, that never falters. Our discoveries with age only reach deeper into the heart.

To infinity and beyond.