soundtracking 2015 – august through december.

Happy New Year! I finished off 2015 sick (thus the delay in publishing) so here’s hoping to a better end to 2016 in 365 days!

This post is a continuation of Tuesday’s post summarizing the 2015 soundtrack from March through July. Here’s how my year concluded, in song form…

Time to Be Well – Jenny Simmons.

In August, I started on a journey towards better self-care. In September, I tried to spark myself a “Self-Care September” challenge. Self-care, actually, is hard shit. In part, I wrote that I wanted to “try to pay more attention to what’s around me—and how that affects what’s going inside me, and how I respond to it”, and I think I’ve done okay with that, even beyond September. It’s a challenge sometimes, but Imyself, am a work in progress—and I had to learn that.

i wasn’t looking,
i wasn’t ready
kicking and screaming 
tired of believing by myself
i never would have done it on my own

oh but You, You were never gonna let me go
You took me, You took me, You took me…

straight to the Healer,
You were my believer
when i couldn’t even see it for myself
and now i’m whole, i can feel it
now i can see it,
when i couldn’t even say it for myself
You said “it’s time to be well”.

The thing is, even though I’ve been ignoring Him so much, I do feel like God was pulling me in this direction: I may not feel like I’m ready, or be ready, but He knows if I am or if I need to learn. This song, when I first got Jenny’s EP, tugged at my heart right away with the truth packed inside this 4 minute and 8 second track. Now in December, I can put into words the realization I had in August: that I am a work in progress, and I always will be. But that does not mean I am on my own.

no man’s an island
we need each other

no use in hiding
no pain in lying to myself
‘cause i don’t have to do this on my own

oh, with You, i don’t have to walk this world alone […]

Not only do I not have to do this on my own because I have Jesus, I also have other people in my world to help me. And, as I’m currently exploring a bit in writing a guest post for Smart Girls With ADHD, in this season I learned better how to ask for help. It’s a task I struggle with more often than I care to admit, but it’s so important to BEING well and feeling whole—feeling supported.
These things—songs, stories—they cross our paths for a reason: for me, I think Jenny’s words in Time To Be Well were a way that I heard a message I needed to hear: that I had to choose this for myself: I had to choose to not be an island in the midst of people, I had to choose to invest in self-care, I had to choose to make an effort to be more well. (“More well” is probably a grammatical nightmare. You get it, though.)

Repeatedly—back in September 2005, and today, this is true of my journey with God:

You tore a hole in the roof, and You laid me down
just to make me well, just to make me well,
and He made me well, and He made me well.

Transformation is conscious, and it is continual. And that is okay. More than okay.

Therapy – Relient K.

There’s a lot of this song that tugs at me, and other parts that don’t really fit my world (“I never thought I’d be driving through the country just to drive“, for example, doesn’t, but “with only music and the clothes that I woke up in” does…) but, there’s more truth than not here.

One night at the cabin, at 2 AM, in the Time to Be Well phase (with my spotty 3G-sometimes-LTE-data in the wilderness…), struggling with aspects of my life, I found a very sliding-scale payment counselling clinic—it works well with my lack of insurance. After my assessment, I was offered therapy, which I passed on since I’d have to go through the queue again—also, I wasn’t ready. Yet, as I kept going, kept reading, everything says therapy is one of those things that should be part of my ADHD treatment. It wasn’t, so I took initiative to make that happen—at 2 AM, like all worthwhile things. Legit—it’s that reflecting-in-the-darkness thing:

[…] I never thought I’d need
all this time alone, it goes to show
i had so much, yet i had need for nothing…
[…] this is just therapy,
let’s call it what it is
with a death-grip on this life, always transitioning.

I was assigned a therapist and started with him at the end of October. I spend an hour every week or two learning how to navigate my world better. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of therapy, except to control my reactions better, mostly—he was cool and worked with my vague-ness, though, for me, I continued the internal debate of whether I even wanted to be there.

letting it all sink in,
it’s good to feel a sting now and again 

Guess what? Therapy is fucking hard sometimes, but that’s why I’ve learned to like it. It makes me think and think about shit differently and criticize myself a bit—I’m cool with that. My therapist doesn’t have much experience with ADHD, and I’m okay with that, because he does seem to totally get the fact that I’m working with a “death grip on this life, always transitioning,” probably at a pace quicker than most people.

forgetting it all, begin
fresh paper and a nice expensive pen
the past cannot subtract a thing from
what i might do for you, unless that’s what i let it do 

This part is huge in that other stuff: the past is only what I let it be. End of story.

[…] loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused
‘cause i spend my solitude with You
gather all the questions of the things i just can’t get straight
and i answer them the way i guess You do
‘cause this my therapy…
‘cause You’re the only one that’s listening to me.

this is my therapy, let’s call it what it is
not what we were, with this death grip on
this life that’s in transition, this is my therapy

Yeah, therapy for me happens in a room now, not only in a notebook or on a keyboard. But what I’ve learned in that room repeatedly runs through my racing thoughts throughout the day: I reflect, extremely often, without really realizing it. And this is how I know that it’s, at least somewhat, worthwhile for me to go through that “sting now and again”…

I needed to have some solid thoughts on therapy before I threw them all out here. And maybe I’m starting to have those. I’m lucky that I found a clinic I can afford, and a therapist who’s working his ass off to get me and my world, and how to help me to make things work better—yeah, maybe there’s somebody with more experience in ADHD (who I could pay $150 an hour rather than a subsidized $10 an hour), but I’d rather work with someone who tries to get me instead of someone who tries to compare me to a textbook. I actually like coming in to see what he’s printed or pulled up from journals via/or the web, to see that not only am I learning from him, he’s learning because of me, too.

So, I’m learning to navigate this life that’s in transition. And I’ve bought some new black Moleskines and tracked down some Sharpie pens to help me on that journey into next year… With five-plus therapy sessions left and all.

Armistice – MUTEMATH.

It’s sometimes a challenge to find a song to end the year on, especially since I am ending this year hugely in transition: a few blogging gigs started, a couple to begin, being employed but very under employed, in the midst of the process that is therapy. Armistice is a song I identified with a certain line of after my ADHD diagnosis, and I feel the song is pretty fitting to my current world.

out of time, and out of inclinations that we’re in
how’s it feel to watch a man relenting?
let’s just say that i might be a sucker for progress
it’s all in how you cope in spite of knowing…

The actual lyric here may be “cope in spite of no end,” but the internet people and myself are conflicted. This is the lyric, as it is above, that was a key player in sorting through the whole assessment/ADHD/learning issues diagnosis thing,

you don’t have to say it, i know, it’s all my fault
you don’t have to worry, i know, it’s how we are
you don’t have to say it, i know, it’s all my fault
the give and take is taking its toll

it’s an honest work if i can stand up on it
maybe we’re not as far apart as it appears
swallowing the blame is second nature,
i’ve got to keep on handling my business my way

2015 marked a year that I got into more contract-type work as well—right now, I’m working on four blogs, not including my own, and two are yet to begin, and I’m really stoked about that. I began writing with Understood.org and for the first time am working with an editor (!!!), Andrew, who has been amaaaazing.
Fortunately, I’ve found great people to work with who allow me a huge amount of freedom, and understand I won’t compromise who I am and what I stand for to land a writing gig—not everybody does

[…] i will take the fall if it takes us somewhere
the give and take, the give and take
the give and take is taking its toll

you don’t have to say it, i know, it’s all my fault
you don’t have to worry, i won’t
it falls apart.
you don’t have to say it, i know
it’s all my fault
the give and take is taking its toll…
you don’t have to say it. 

I’ve felt that give-and-take first-hand, so I don’t need reminders of what may have not unfolded as I expected. What goals I have yet to achieve. 365 days never unfold as I’ll anticipate they will, 2015 included. And that’s okay, that’s how growth happens. I’m working on it.

My first soundtrack project, in 2013, ended with “avalanche, in the blink of a year”. While 2013 was more of an avalanche than most, it worked to prepare me to be here. Prepared me for the waiting, the working, the being a work in progress. 

And, here I am, in the first days of 2016—I’m working on things here, still. As I should be. ‘Cause I weren’t a work in progress, wasn’t constantly in transition, I probably wouldn’t be learning anything, and wouldn’t be where I am meant to be.

a season to be well.

A season.

Lower portion of tree with lake behind it

Another, to be well. To become well. To realize anew that this is not a passive act–I can exist, or I can live well and be fulfilled. And these fulfilled seasons are the ones I remember. The ones where I know myself and where I am headed and maybe even feel connected to the One who is coauthoring this story with me–the same God that Jenny Simmons refers to, in her book The Road to Becoming, as the Storyteller.  I am here to live a story, not a passivity.

I wasn’t looking
I wasn’t ready
kicking and screaming
tired of believing by myself
I never would have done it on my own.
oh but You,
You were never gonna let me go
You took me

straight to the Healer
You were my believer
when I couldn’t even see it for myself
and now I’m whole, I can feel it
now I can see it when I couldn’t even say it for myself
You said “it’s time to be well”

no man’s an island
we need each other
no use in hiding
no pain in lying to myself
cause I don’t have to do this on my own
with You, I don’t have to walk this road alone

You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
just to make me well, just to make me well
You tore a hole in the roof and You laid me down
…and He made me well, and He made me well.

–time to be well, jenny simmons 

Yes, I’ve lost time by circumstances out of my control. Yes, I’ve (even worse) neglected time. But these are chapters in my story, too. Just, the next one(s), I’d like to write more intentionally; explore plot lines deeper, know characters more thoroughly–connect with myself, my circumstances, and the people around me, playing important parts in this story as well as their own stories. In this next chapter I want to embrace the chaos through interacting with it. To work on embracing the moments as they come and appreciating the little things. To be grateful. To own my mistakes and say sorry. To practice more self-care and define what that looks like for me, and begin yet again to work at feeling things and feeling better in all ways: I know from experience I am happiest and feel best when I connect with myself in ways that don’t let my mind and body and spirit exist separately, but together. Things like exercise and meditation and how physical activity especially helps to make my ADHD a strength rather than another source of struggle, how both of the above allow me to use my brain and body in tandem rather than simply as vehicles for one another. And, as for the Storyteller, yes, it’s challenging myself to dig in to this act of spirituality as well. After years of struggle with this, I had a realization today, after I’d been toying with a little more interest in the Bible the last few days. I’ve always been candid that I do not believe in infallibility of the bible, yet attending church in previous seasons caused me to be frustrated by this fact–because I was supposed to believe everything in there and I didn’t. Today, I realized while reading The Road to Becoming: “What if I stop looking at the bible as a thing I have to believe every word of, and instead as another thing to explore?”

shoreline of rocks with lake behind, and row of forest/trees in distance with cloudy evening sky above. I am opening my eyes to exploring.  Really, everything above: from exercise and nutrition and writing and meditation and creating things and being connected–owning my life, in other words–is all about exploring. Discovering where the map for this season, this chapter leads me. Where I am going and how I am going to interact with what surrounds me. It is all about choice.

So why am I not choosing these things? Because it’s work. It means changing myself within my circumstance in tandem with accepting where I’m at. Yet, I know this is important, and that I should make these smallish huge acts of self-care a priority. I can create excuses but I can also create change. And I know my body, and my spiritual and mental wellbeing will thank me for one far more than the other.

I need, though, to stop trying to do this on my own. Because my excuses to remain stuck sound a lot less dumb in my head and I should be forced to admit them more often.

You took me / straight to the Healer / You were my believer / when I couldn’t even see it for myself / and now I’m whole, I can feel it / now I can see it / when I couldn’t even say it for myself / You said “it’s time to be well”

The people I’ve coached to make positive life changes… I have always told them to do it with someone. I have frequently volunteered to be that person. Time to take my own advice ;). Sometimes, an app is not enough–positive peer pressure can be.

the young want to change the world
the wise want to change themselves
the young want to change the world
but i just want to change myself.

spent, let it happen (spotify link)

For now, this season, I need to change myself.
Again. Continually.

Cabin to left side, flowers focused in foreground with lake and trees behind in distance, unfocused.
it is time to be well.
it is time to grow.

being lost.

Society has this vendetta against being lost.

I’m reading The Road to Becoming by Jenny Simmons right now. It’s opening my mind to the fact that lost can be okay. I mentally made a commitment to read more books about lostness (though, I think that the majority of books are kind of, in a way, written about lostness in one form or another). I did re-find The Art of Non-Conformity in my room, though—The War of Art is somewhere I cannot find.

Fitting.

Yesterday, my friend Drew asked on Facebook “Since a lot of people check in on *me*, how are *you*?”

I replied,

I am far too awake for midnight, and far too content with being mildly misplaced in this season of my life.

Misplaced is really the same as lost. Lost does not always mean forever: misplaced and lost, in the sense of being, are very much the same.

I am pretty okay with being here. Here means there is room for ideas, for growth, for challenge and change and hope. It means I can try new things because the old things clearly aren’t reciprocating as they need to be.

Except society really isn’t interested in teaching twenty-three-year-old university graduates who are funemployed* what they are doing, where they are, is okay.

*Funemployed is a word that probably my cousin Dean invented (or stole) one summer when I was unemployed. I use it now to describe my sort-of employed state doing projects that only sort of count as employment and/or don’t pay me yet.

The Road to Becoming has a chapter called Iowa Cornfield, and the next called Lost Girl.

Some people are desperate for a detour. It’s a pretty good litmus test for figuring out if you are in the right place or not. if you can’t stand your current situation and secretly wish the road you are on would close in front of you so you can take a much-needed detour, it’s probably time for a life change. Don’t wait for the road to crumble; it might not ever happen. Pack your bags and get going. You have permission to write your own Road Closed sign.

I wasn’t interested in any of that Road Closed business. I wanted a road. My road. The original one that we had a map for. So my answer was to stay at the Road Closed sign until someone from the Iowa Department of Transportation showed up to explain themselves and cleared their stuff OUT OF MY WAY so I could continue on the road I planned on taking.

I will sit here until you build me a road. Take that, highway bureau.

The thing is, I’ve never been given the option to lay out the roads. The only choice I get is what to do when the road suddenly ends.

—Jenny Simmons, The Road to Becoming (page 99)

I don’t know much about Iowa cornfields, but as soon as I saw Lost Girl at the top of that page, I knew that this book landed in my hands right now for this reason.

Self-reliance, fully mapped out futures, and divine epiphanies; these were the things that young adults should strive for—not lostness. Accepting lostness as a viable way of existing, if even for a short season, is not a mantra our culture is familiar with.It certainly sounded backwards to a girl who was desperate to move forward.

[…] Time to accept the seemingly insignificant nothingness of the blank page in front of me.

—Jenny Simmons, The Road to Becoming (page 104-105)

Lostness is, perhaps, the fervent search to find where you are going right now. It does not matter for how long, maybe lost is a place after all, whereas misplaced is a temporary-ism without the intensity of lostness. To do things without having to commit to them forever, to get by, to explore, to do things you’d never anticipate because you are now that person in that place you never thought you would be because the world prepared you otherwise.

The world doesn’t prepare us for lostness. We prepare ourselves.

We don’t all get to be lost. Even fewer of us don’t all get to embrace being lost. I tried already to become found quickly, and through that, I’ve only discovered that found probably isn’t even where I want to be right now—and definitely isn’t where I need to be. Six months ago, I made the realization, again, that I am more happy discontent—at least in this season. And being funemployed for the last five months challenged me to learn how to embrace that discontent.

I am living inside a blank page, a blank canvas, a Word document with only the cursor blinking.

I am content in discontent.