Saturday, March 29, 2014

What I Learned in March

 Every month I link up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky to share what I learned that month-- the serious, the silly, the down right mind blowing.

1) Grey's Anatomy's opening song has lyrics. This month I've started watch Grey's Anatomy from the beginning. I've been watching the current season but it's just not the same without the back story. To my surprise, the opening song has lyrics! And they are catchy! Who knew?

2) Retail and medical personnel work similar hours. Since I have been gorging on medical drama, I have found parallels between hospital and mall life. We work similar hours, build a family with our work friends and are inevitably busy on weekends. While the work itself is vastly different, the lifestyle is similar and it comforts me to know that we all have highs and lows with our jobs.

3) The Enneagram personality test is creepily accurate. I discovered Enneagram last month's linkup. Leigh Kramer did a blog series about the Ennegram and posted about each type and the characteristics of respective bloggers with that type. After some research, I settled on Type 6 and when I read her post about what Type 6 bloggers think and feel, I was floored. She wrote some exact phrases I had shared with my husband the night before about writing. Such a confirmation! Do you know which type you are?

4) The Night Circus's writing style is described as "lush".

I discovered this through our library's website. They recently updated their catalog to add a research application called Novelist that analyzes aspects of a book you like and suggests other books along similar guidelines. You can even narrow your search to the writing style, like lush. This discovery led to many hours following rabbit trails but all in the name of my "to read" list. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

5) A cat with the best intentions can still end in destruction.

    Exhibit A:

One evening, I heard a scratching noise in the bathroom. Fearing that it was my cat, Mayhem, in his old makeshift toilet (the sink) I went to investigate. Turned out, Mayhem was innocent. Instead, I found Milton scratching at the shower curtain. I looked closer and found this. He was batting at the water droplets, but claws and a thin curtain liner don't mix.

6) My husband knows how to enjoy his birthday. Our friends threw him a surprise birthday party and presented him with a two layer cake, candles on the rim of the first layer and covering the top. My husband takes his time opening gifts (something about reusing paper), and since there was only the cake, he decided to blow out each candle one at a time. Twenty-six candles. He may not have gotten his wish but he was one happy guy.

What did you learn this month? Share in the comments below.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Creeping Discontentment

Discontentment. It starts tiny, like a small mosquito bite. The itch is distracting but you can live with it. Then it swells. So you apply an ointment, but now you can't ignore the uncomfortable feeling. The swelling continues, disrupting your sleep, causing you to toss and turn at night until, restless, you stumble out of bed and down an antihistamine. Finally, blissful sleep arrives. Peace. Serenity.

I've been searching for that peace lately. Something to take the edge off this restless feeling that somehow my life has entered a state of limbo. Social media feeds circulate headlines from my friends: "I'm pregnant!" "We bought a house!" "I got the job!" Headlines in black and white stain the screen and leave me searching for my next big thing. I look up from the screen and wonder, when did I enter a routine? When did I lose that excitement and state of anticipation?

At times, the itch is gone. I look around at my apartment, with such a glow of pride. I've made it a home. Books line the shelves, warm tones wrap around my husband and I in a comforting embrace and I jump at the chance to bake and cook. My job is fun; I work at a tea emporium, introducing customers to the wonder of loose leaf tea, encouraging them to slow down and enjoy the ceremony. I enjoy the Friday night dates, going out or staying in, I enjoy a night that is all our own. I enjoy my life, but then the itch creeps back, leaving me hollow, haunted as if something is missing.

The opening scene of P.S. I Love You epitomizes this haunting feeling. Holly and Gerry are arguing about not being ready to have a baby. They live in a five story, four floor walk up in New York  City and Holly has a job that makes her cranky. She doesn't feel ready for a baby but she would like to have one, someday, but "you've got to have a plan" she explains. "I see people buying bigger apartments and having babies. I get so afraid that our life is never going to start." Her confession of fear unleashes tears that leak onto my cheeks. Then Gerry whispers back, "We are already in our life, baby. It's started. This is it."

I want to believe those words. "This is it." A statement not of resignation but of action and excitement, seizing the moment and living in it, as if today was the last day of my life.  But.... how do you enjoy a third page story when you are surrounded by everyone's  highlights and headlines? How do you ignore the itch and not aggravate the bite by scratching at it? How do you let the grief heal? The grief of it's not my time to have a baby. The grief of, I'm on a journey, or I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. How do you stop and enjoy the NOW?

I don't have a clear cut answer. I know it takes looking, peering through the thick mist of "not now" and "what if" to capture the beauty of "what I have."

What I have, is a husband who loves me and works tirelessly to graduate with a PHD. I have two ornery cats who fill every day with laughter at their antics and sweet displays of affection. I have a job filled with people who are not just co-workers, but are friends; friends I know, that if I allowed myself, would be there if I needed them despite our differences. I have friends who invite me to coffee and lunch dates. And I have family, who support and love me even when I fear I will disappoint them in some way.

Some days that bite flares and that mist is so thick I cannot see past it; it consumes my thoughts and feelings. But just like I know relief comes to the bite, so I also know that sun is beyond the mist. Today that mist may not break, but the sun exists. I hold tightly to the promise and truth that the sun exists. Let it shine and break through this current darkness.

Friday, February 28, 2014

What I Learned in February

Tomorrow is the first day of March! Spring is so near. The birds have returned to serenade the dawn and last week we had our first tease of 50 degree weather. But before I embrace March like a long lost friend, I am linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky to celebrate what I learned in February.

1) Even one who loves snow as much as me (imagine Lorelai Gilmore celebrating the first snow fall- that's me) can tire of its prolonged stay. After several "snow days" and continually shoveling out my car, I am ready for daffodils and crisp, watery mornings. I think Winter may give us one more dramatic show before she exits the stage; Sunday and Monday is calling for 8 inches. Just keep dreaming of spring, y'all.

2) My husband and I will brave a winter storm to celebrate Valentine's Day at the Cheesecake Factory. For two weeks, I had been planning a special night. Got a new dress, a new hairstyle and planned to have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Snow showed up that evening, but it didn't dampen our plans. Yay for perseverance!

3) I can make pie dough from scratch! Take that Betty Crocker!
 4) Transparency and courage are needed to pour out words onto a page without knowing who will hear them. After months of silence, I have found my way back to this blog and taken the courage to step out and write. I'm still shaky on my feet, but I am finding so much support for chasing after my dreams.

5) My favorite part about bedtime are the fun questions my husband and I ask each other before we go to sleep. Example: "What would you put on your celery? Peanut butter,  Ketchup or Mayonaise." I chose ketchup because I could pretend they were french fries... chewy, stringy french fries. Nacho cheese with meat was suggested, but I thought that was a little too extreme.

6) The extended winter hiatus of Once Upon a Time is driving me crazy! Who else is ready to figure out the role the Wicked Witch will play this season?

7) If I check a book out multiple times without reading, it will eventually get read. After checking out Night Circus three times, I've finally found my stride and am already 2/5 of the way through it. This gives me hope that eventually I will make my way through my "to read" list, it just may not be in the order I originally intended it.

 8) Pharrel Williams has a 24 hour music video of his song "Happy."This will genuinely make you happy. Also, check out Sara Bareilles' video "Brave", it will also make you smile and inspire you to bust out some moves.
What were two things you discovered this month? Comment below.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Letting Go

The pages of this blog have gone dark for the past few months. Some might call it a natural season of hibernation; others a season of silence and contemplation. For me, these past few months have been one of heart reflection and deep questions. Point blank: I didn't know if I could do THIS. Words are so intimate and such sacrifice of the heart. Black and white they stain the page just as if your life's blood were pouring out to give a transfusion for someone else to live. Just as blood can heal or kill, so can my words. I have struggled with what to share here, in my own intimate corner of the web. What is appropriate? How will people receive my words? Can I be honest and open about the struggles I face, or is that too deep, too messy, too much?

A few days ago, I came across a blog post by Kailey Rogers at Living in the Rain which described the meaning behind her blog's title. I was struck by her honesty about how the sugary sweetness of always appearing happy on her previous blog exhausted her and how her current blog was really used to embrace the rainy moments that come. Life may not always be great or even okay, but she is still realistic and searches for the good in the rainy moments.

That made me think about what I had been trying to accomplish with my previous posts here at Grace Oasis. This blog was inspired out of a desert of graceless living brought on by my own drive for perfection. I craved a refuge of hope and peace, and thus, Grace Oasis was born. My hope has been that this will be a place to learn the meaning of grace during the moments when the sun shines bright on a balmy spring day or when the snowstorms of life that leave you stranded. This is a place where I want to pull up a chair with either an ice cold tea or a hot steamy cuppa, and talk honestly. Talk about what inspires, what terrifies, what frustrates. This is a place for confessions, the daring and humble. Grace Oasis exists to refresh and revive myself and others.

Ultimately, I just wanted a place to come and just be me, but the me I was experiencing five to six months ago was going through an identity crisis and a struggle with her faith (still am in some respects). Writing posts here felt... well, not completely honest. I believed I needed to show I was learning something out of my difficult season, that I hadn't lost the ability to lead others in their faith. There were times when the words felt forced and I was writing behind a too-familiar mask of perfection.When keeping up the appearance became too hard I retreated to the background and kept my words from forming, whether they were real or fake, perfect or messy, they remained unspoken.

I had retreated. Given in; given up.

Past tense: HAD given up, until Kailey's words broke through:

"One of the biggest lessons I've learned through this blog is that even if I'm standing in the middle of the rain, I am not alone. I've learned the value of community and the impact of words. Not just my words, but your words, too... Are you trying to make everything look hunky dory when you're falling apart or are you willing to rest in the chaos?"

Sharing my story, no matter what the circumstance, is what allows for life to flow in and out of me, of us. She made me realize that I had been severing ties to community and silencing my voice even as God was urging me to speak, share, write! So I'm coming out of hibernation and cracking open the door to opportunity. So although I cannot yet grasp the fullness of this blog's potential, I am letting go of fear and seeing where the words will take me.

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