icicles

Winter is finally touching down in Georgia this week with lots of rain and below freezing temps. After what happened last year, we’re all understandably cautious and schools & businesses have already begun to close down in preparation for the “wintry mix” that’s been forecast. On my way home from work tonight I noticed icicles quickly forming on power lines, traffic signs, and trees. Thankfully the roads were a ways away from succumbing and my drive was safe, leaving me free to enjoy the way the light sparkled through the tiny bits of ice. I couldn’t wait to get home and snap a few photographs before curling up under multiple blankets with my small family all nestled together.

IMG_9378-1We like the word “blessed”. We love it, actually. Hashtag blessed. “Got free guac at Chipotle #blessed” “Three day weekend! #blessed” “The wings on my eyeliner are symmetrical #blessed” We straight up love being #blessed. And I’m counting myself in this crowd.

There’s synonym for our beloved blessed that isn’t nearly as favored. I think we’re scared of it, honestly. Our hackles rise in defense when it’s tossed our way and we’re quick to respond, “You have no idea what I’ve been through!” We freely admit to being blessed all day. But being privileged? Hell to the no, I’ve earned what I have with my own blood, sweat, and tears! Screw you AND YOUR MOM TOO.

This is particularly a problem in American Christian culture, I think. At least, from my limited perspective and experience in this world. (That last sentence should be how we all end most of the statements we make. Agreed?) We like what “blessed” means because it has a positive connotation: God has chosen to bestow upon me this big/medium/small gift not because I have earned it but because He loves me and wants me to be happy. Hallelujah, bring on the #blessings. We do not feel the same way about “privileged”. We get mad at “privileged” because it brings with it a heaviness and at times, a guilt. There is a difference between blessed and privileged, that is definite. Does it have to be a bad thing, though? Privileged is: God has chosen to bestow upon me this big/medium/small advantage not because I have earned it but because He loves me and wants me to use it as a tool or platform for loving and helping others.

No wonder we hate privilege. It comes with responsibility. An obligation. Damnit.

Blessings we feel free to enjoy like birthday gifts. Just because. Just because you’re special and lovely and a good person. You have to DO something with a privilege though. It is a call to action. It is our highest and most important calling.

A new commandment I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

This is where the guilt comes from. We are called to love each other in a Godly way. But we are human. And selfish. And it’s so much easier to call something a blessing and move on. It’s hard to acknowledge a privilege and look for ways to utilize it for the good of others. Who wants to give away birthday gifts, ya know? We’d prefer to just deny its existence.

This is a difficult subject to broach. I have a lot of thoughts about it and there are so many different points to cover (the American Dream culture and celebration of busy-ness, etc). I sit on my words for a long time. I don’t like to talk about something until I feel comfortable that I actually have a decent amount of knowledge to contribute and not merely an opinion. Opinions are easy to have. Kind of like blessings. I don’t really know if this jumbled collection of words can or will do much good. But the teacup of my brain was overflowing a bit and I needed to pour a little out. So thank you for being here for that.

It is both a blessing and a privilege that I had a warm group of huddled bodies to come home to tonight. That I have a warm house in which to retreat after enjoying icicles for the beauty they have to offer. It is a privilege that is not shared by all.

Please consider donating to your local organizations that work diligently to bring short-term and long-term solutions to the challenges faced by our homeless brothers and sisters. Might I suggest Gateway Center in Atlanta.

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thrive

I wrote last year about the powerful influence words & mantras can have. I love words. I love the process of choosing the right ones – trying them on like clothing and leaving behind a crumpled mess on the floor. I love thinking about the subtle nuances of their definitions and listening to the marked differences in their sounds. As a critical optimist I keep a foot in both camps when it comes to New Years Resolutions and the like. On one hand, it’s just another day, week, month, etc. You’ll lose this burst of motivation by March. And did I mention nobody cares? BUT- FRESH START! NEW BEGINNING! TURNING OVER A WHOLE TREE OF LEAVES!

I’m a proud fence-sitter.

So I’ll don my lemming suit while keeping a good sense of humor about it all. That seems to be the right balance for me.

My word for 2015: thrive.

verb / to grow or develop well or vigorously; prosper; flourish

On paper my last few years don’t seem so bad. College graduation, bought a house, got hitched, got pregnant – on purpose. A lot of wonderful things happened and those blessings should not be discounted. But when I think about how those last few years have felt rather than how they looked, so much of it was spent in survival mode. Just trying to get to the next day. To the next weekend. To the next paycheck. To the next breather. I have some guilt when I think about the amount of depression and anxiety I experienced during what should have been golden years. But there it is. Depression doesn’t often choose convenient moments and it doesn’t really care about what your life looks like to other people. It just is.

Those years were hard. And exhausting. And so, so good for me. Those years prepared me for whatever it is that this year has for me. The person I need to be this year needed those experiences in her hand. I firmly believe that God doesn’t intend for us to just “make it” through this life. There is a reason we are animals and not machines. We are meant to have joy. We are made to dance and laugh and make love. We are made to thrive.

I know this year won’t be void of challenge or obstacle. I know this year won’t be “easy”. We are about to have our little world turned up on its head. And I am so excited for that. I am ready, I have been prepared. God has laid the foundation and given me the tools I’ll need. Let’s go, 2015. Let’s do this. Let’s thrive.

joy

givers and receivers

I haven’t been to yoga in a couple of weeks. Mainly because sleeping in sounded so much better than waking up early to climb into a freezing car. And in the mornings after Andrew has left for work the dogs cuddle up real close to me for those extra couple of hours — Robin in the crook of my arm and Benji curled up on the pillow next to my head. That’s namaste, for real. Today though, I managed to take on the Southern Tundra and get my downward dog on. My studio mates very sweetly complimented me on my baby belly modifications and mentioned they’ve missed me. It was like coming home from college on the weekends to my little spandex-clad family.

mfyogaAn old photo from this past summer.

There was a great moment as we were winding down the practice. One of those moments when universe stuff clicks into place and you can feel it in your bones. We were sitting in sukhasana with our palms facing up. Sonya began talking  to us about the visualization of receiving what we needed through one hand and giving what we had through the other. “Find your dominant, active hand. This is where you give. Now find your submissive, passive hand. This is where you receive.”  Giving is active, receiving is passive.

Giving is active.

Receiving is passive.

 

Oh.

My realization was almost audible. Receiving is passive because we do not need to be active in it. We are receiving always, all the time, from all directions. Receiving is such a constant we often do not even realize it is happening. It comes in so many forms it can be hard to recognize. Let that sink in. We receive SO many gifts from the people, God, and universe around us that we have become numb to it. That is incredible.

The flip side to this is that giving is an active choice that we have to make the conscious decision to participate in. Giving won’t happen unless we initiate it. We are the catalyst, we are the movement. And yet, the only reason we CAN give is because we have already received. It is cyclical. There is no guilt in receiving and there is no pride in giving. There is no fair and unfair. It is inherently balanced. Yin and yang. We don’t have to wait to receive before we give because it has already happened and will continue to happen for the rest of our lives. We don’t have to wait for the ball to be passed to us before we can pass it on; it has already been placed in our hands and there are hundreds waiting to take its place.

For me, this is something that is deeply rooted in my belief in God and our calling to love and serve. We are not called to keep tabs and maintain the score. God established that when all sins were declared equal to one another. Not only is there not a score, there’s not even a scoreboard. There is no record to be lorded over your head nor one to boast about.

There is no guilt in receiving and there is no pride in giving.

We need not worry about being taken care of because that is already in place and set into motion. Our piece of the puzzle is to take care of others and keep the wheel turning. Receiving is passive, giving is active.

It was a good day to get out of bed.

due dates

We would have had a baby now. Or at least have been very close to it. You see, tomorrow is my first due date. Had that little life not left us I would be hugely pregnant or recovering from whatever kind of birth that babe needed to come into this world. That is not the case though. And ..I’m ok with it. I think. I’m better, in the very least. It used to be that not an hour went by that I didn’t think of him. Now it is not a day. I don’t want to ever forget but it feels good to be moving towards a healthier balance. September 18th will always be a day that sticks out a bit in my mind.

red budOur red bud.

So will February 28th. I was excited when we received that second positive pregnancy test although it was a quieter excitement than I was expecting. It was when I calculated my new due date that I felt that breathlessness. This new life inside of me is due one year, to the day, after my miscarriage. Or rather, the day I went to the hospital to have my uterus emptied because sadly that little life had already gone. For me though, that is the day. A lot of life is spent wandering, wondering, not understanding. But in that moment I felt the delicate hand of God.

It’s been a long, hard, exhilarating year. I think would have been a damn good mom had everything worked out the first time. Without a doubt though everything not working out will make me a better one.

I am grateful. For this pregnancy and the one preceding it. For the friends that let me complain about pregnancy without making me feel guilty. For the friends that will let me complain about parenthood without making me feel guilty. Because the fact that something is desperately wanted doesn’t negate the hardship that comes along with it. There is good and bad in all experiences and I am grateful for both sides. The bad makes you better.

church

20140404-113717.jpgI am curiously amazed and thankful at how church-like of an experience yoga has become for me. As long as I have been on this earth I have not found connection with the many steepled buildings I’ve stepped into. I went because I was “supposed” to, but it was not church for me. However, I have not been without church and without fellowship and without worship. I have found and continue finding these things in the people and places and experiences all around me, every day. Now, breaths are prayers, flows are worship songs, and I spend the entire class in conversation with my God.

When I leave, limbs are pliable, heart is warm, and eyes bright & wild. But I enter the studio heavy with baggage, although sometimes my excitement to begin masks the fact that I’m carrying anything. It always hits me though, on that mat. As I begin to focus on my breath God reveals to me what is in my heart. Usually, it is no surprise to me and I welcome the next hour or so to help me focus on and work through it. But there are times, like today, that what He has to say catches me off guard. I feel dizzy with the realization that what I was bringing to the table wasn’t the heart of the matter. I have been halfheartedly praying for patience, believing that to be the answer to the restless stir inside of me. But as it turns out, I am not ready for patience at all. Because I am still very much freshly wounded and angry and frustrated and wanting. I have been praying for patience but what I need is comfort.

I am not used to asking for comfort. I am used to asking for whatever tools I need to complete the job at hand on my own, which is why I asked for patience to get me and us through these next months or years or whatever is in store. I am used to fixing things. For myself and for other people. I am not used to handing over myself to be fixed. I am not used to presenting my problems to others and admitting that I need help.

So, of course that is the very thing that I need to do.

I am hurting and I am angry and empty and sad. I pass by my reflection and quickly glance down to the soft curve of the lower belly and I just feel empty and alone.

I am asking for comfort and I don’t even know what that means, or what would be helpful. I do know that phone calls are too much for me to take on, so that is my only real request. If you pray (to whom does not matter) then please say a prayer for me. I humbly ask for any way you see fit to brighten my day and send me love, because I’m having a hard time doing it on my own.

Even now as I sit here typing this out on my phone in a parking lot, I am tempted to erase it all and nobody would be the wiser. But I’m going to ignore that temptation and practice my hand at asking my friends for help.

life after miscarriage: one month later

Life is good, and God is better.

IMG_7653(This is our beautiful redbud tree, a gift from a dear family friend in honor of the little one we lost.)

Like all large moments in life, one month feels both entirely too long and too short to encompass all that has happened. I feel as if I have aged eight years and the person I was just four months ago is already a very distant shade of who I am now. We still go about our day and talk  with family plans very much at the forefront. I know for some people it’s better for them to give their hearts and bodies a break, for a multitude of reasons. For us this whole experience has very much solidified how badly we want to be parents. That we are parents, but with an empty room in our home. That we want to immediately continue that pursuit. There are times when we see, hear, or say a certain something that stings a little and makes us pause, but we just grab a hand and give a sad smile before moving forward. A great place of comfort and solace and laughter for me has been Allana — a friend that I found through here and in the short time we’ve been writing each other has already become very dear to me. The similarities between our lives and struggles and thoughts and plans and beliefs and hopes are eerily close despite her being in Amsterdam while I am in Atlanta. There are some moments when you’re able to see just a glimpse of God’s plan for you so clear and sharp; meeting Allana was one of those moments. Thank you, friend! I am as hopeful and wanting for your future as I am for my own. (:

IMG_7655It’s been helpful to throw myself into activities and projects like yoga and sprucing up our backyard. The grand majority of the time I am really happy and (while the tiniest bit scared) excited for what’s to come. I have to admit though, I do feel obligated to express that happiness as if to put those around us at ease. I’m finding that much like a wedding, pregnancy is not just for the couple but for everyone around them as well. It follows that the grieving of a lost pregnancy is the same. Taking on and bearing the emotions and reactions of other people is something that, as an introverted middle child, I’ve done my entire life and this was no different. As tiring as it was/is at times, I don’t say that to paint it as a negative or painstaking thing (and certainly not to paint myself as some martyr)! I say it to admit and be honest about the fact that I’m not handling everything with perfect grace and a warm heart. I bring it up because it’s something that I’m learning about myself; in my efforts to be someone who is strong and capable I do not yet know how to unload my burdens to the people who want to share them with me. I know only how to pick up. With every heartfelt word or embrace, I tell myself I must add theirs to the pile. And it gets heavier. I’m not sure where to go with that from here. Perhaps that’s why the rest of the world moves on shortly after loss. They have to so that you have room for your own stuff.

IMG_7658Those weren’t exactly the words that I set out to give to you guys today. But here they are just the same. I want to challenge myself to be honest and open. But, I don’t know where the line is — the one where the dam has given out and I’m asking too much of the people who want to help me. And so I hold back everything just in case.

This has to be a step though, right? This public writing space of mine. This has to be movement in the right direction.

IMG_7673I don’t know if with our next pregnancy we will carry to full term and deliver our healthy baby. I don’t know if we’ll have a family biologically at all. But I do know that we are parents. And that God has picked out a soul and a body for that soul. And whether they are on their way or already here on this Earth, we will have the rest of our family home one day.

IMG_7659(I opened this fortune the night before our ultrasound. I don’t normally keep them but something prodded me to tuck it into my pocket that night.)