ten years.

Ten years ago tonight I didn’t think I’d be spending much of this day with music in my ears and tears in my eyes at the goodness of God. Because if you asked me ten years and a month ago today, and I was being honest, I probably would have said I wouldn’t be here. A little over ten years ago, at fourteen, I had too many mornings where I didn’t want to wake up.   

i spent my days giving my heart away
to anything new
only to ache from the poison of my
temporary muse
and there were times i’d cry myself to sleep at night
only to wake up wishing that i didn’t.
 

And now, I can’t imagine not being here. 

September 7th, 2005, at about 10:30 pm and without the faintest understanding of what I was doing, I surrendered my inner screwed-up-ness for something greater.
Which doesn’t mean I’m no longer screwed up inside, just that I know everything is for a reason. Nothing is for nothing. I am still alive because of this. The last few weeks, I’ve had more God-moments than I’ve had in a long time. Moments where I haven’t turned away from His voice, speaking through music, and often bringing me to tears. It’s been beautiful.

thank You for never giving up on me
when i looked to everything else,
and lived so selfishly
and You bled
and You died
to be with me
why would You do something like that 
for someone like me? 

[…] You formed my heart with Your own hands
and now i finally understand
and i give You my life, and i’m healed by Your grace
i was made for Your love that no one can replace
this is it, i won’t miss, everything i am made for
to be Yours—all Yours.

the reason, lacey sturm

I don’t understand it, at all. I know I am here for a reason. I try to embrace that every single day—even if I don’t embrace God every day like I should. But somehow, I keep finding my way back. I’m not perfect—but that’s kind of the point. I have too many questions and I can’t follow blindly—but in my world, that’s kind of the point, too. God can handle my questions, and I know that He is bigger than my questions. Still. My questions have only evolved over the last ten years, and they’ll keep doing that. I’m okay with that. I’m okay if I can’t fit into boxes now—Jesus didn’t fit into boxes, and Jesus still doesn’t fit into boxes.

This September, I’m working on self-care. On healing. And then today happens. It’s Suicide Prevention Week. If you need help, please find it. 
I am not here by accident. And I have not been distant for nothing, either.

so how does this work? how much will it hurt to open my heart again?
and will there be scars, reminding me of the way that You healed me?
i wanna be well—i wanna be well…

i’m splintered, i’m many
there’s light and dark within me
but i’m bringing all these pieces
only You can heal me, Jesus
i’m here now, i’m ready
giving everything that’s in me
only You can mend these pieces
be my Healer, be my Jesus.

‘cause i wanna be whole.

be my healer, jenny simmons

Each moment I stretch my arms up or out while my heart sings to Jesus today, I am getting closer and closer to being whole. And, while for now I’ll try to keep up that vibe for as long as I can, I know I’ll wander again—but those who wander are not lost, and I know I’ll learn more about God’s love, and myself, in my wandering, too. Even in the wandering, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Because I am still here.

Ten years ago tonight I was writing about taking the leap into faith, into trusting God to heal so that I didn’t end this journey mid-sentence. He did that. So I celebrate: by smiling and laughing, being free of anxiety—being the opposite of who I was on that night.

And, I like this version of me a lot better.

self-care september.

From Wikipedia:

self care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.
A theme I intersect with time and time again is that of intention -> action. For nearly four years now, I’ve struggled with actually achieving the things I’ve wanted to, and been cognizant of that, of the concept above.
Because “good intentions fill my life, but they’re not good enough.” (Life’s Passing Me By, Addison Road)
Repeatedly, intentional self-care is a thing that I neglect. I wrote about it again semi-recently: nutrition, exercise, writing, mindfulness, slowing down and appreciating even the slow moments.
Last year, I tried out (unsuccessfully) Self Tracking October. And back in early August, I began to percolate on Self Care September. (Big difference!)
Except, there will be low stress in blogging it. Because that wouldn’t really be at all conducive to my overall wellbeing, no?

Untitled

I’m not blogging everyday, most likely. But, there’s a framework for if/when I do blog if I lack ideas. Because that’s been common as of late. I’m thinking on a pseudo-schedule for theming days (but I’m not sure. You know, something along the lines of Thankful Thursday and Music Monday and #SelfCareSunday and Writing Wednesday and that sort of jazz). The Wikipedia article also notes self-care as an important part of managing chronic disease—don’t I know it, even if I don’t think about it this way. It’ll be something, among the many things, that I work at reframing my perspective of this month. September will, I hope, be a kickstarter to doing the things I want to accomplish—because I may have ADHD to contend with too, but that’s not stopping me. Look, the dude who invented IKEA did that with ADHD, okay?
How did I start out September?
  • I started writing this at 12:56 AM, laying in bed, while characteristically not following through on my plans to “go to bed at a reasonable time”
  • I slept 8 hours and 46 minutes (98% efficiency per SleepCycle)
  • I cleaned my AeroChamber for the first time in maybe a year? [Ick…]
  • I walked to the store and bought things for organizing my room (a work in progress)
  • I talked to a friend going through a pretty stressful time on the phone the walk; I ran into my former boss at the dollar store and we’re doing breakfast in a few weeks.
  • I focused harder on the words in the music I was listening to—and shared it with a friend who I thought it might resonate with.
  • I hit my 7500 step goal on Fitbit (I decreased it from 10K awhile back because what’s the point of a goal that you never hit?)
  • I actually ate vegetables at lunch today (in the form of minestrone soup, but hey, it was homemade)
  • I learned how to empty the lint trap of the dryer. (Lint is weird, y’all)
  • I listened to a livestream concert and book reading by Jenny Simmons as she released her new [non-kickstarter!] book today. Re-reading The Road to Becoming is again on my list for September.
  • I prayed for the first time in probably months alongside Jenny and those attending the livestream concert tonight. And it felt like something.
  • I signed a contract for a new blogging gig (that I’ll tell you guys about soon!)
  • I wrote this, I did some writing for the IDentityDoctor blog, and intend to do another half hour of some sort of writing project before I go to bed today.
  • I’m not sure I checked anything off of my to-do list, but, I got one-eigteenth of an item done. Progress is progress.
Writing this down is just one more step towards getting where I want to be. Because all of these things fit into some category of the concept we call wellness–these things can, should, and now, because I am reflecting on them, do mean something to me today. They mean I’m not letting today pass me by.
I feel like I started today off fairly strong. I’m interested in seeing where the rest of the month goes. Especially as I try to pay more attention to what’s around me–and how that affects what’s going on inside me, and how I respond to it.
In September: I want to use more moments fully–embrace them. I want to write more words and take more pictures and meditate and exercise and sing and dance. I want to hug and laugh and cry with people and share in and appreciate their stories. I want to know myself better by feeling better and feeling more and sharing more and doing more, but finding balance in that. I want to appreciate the world around me more fully; have a few more coffee dates with Jesus like I used to, and be more connected.
Through being intentional, through self-care, I want to find the pieces of myself I’ve misplaced in the chaos. I am to start something this September that lasts far beyond these 30 days…

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.

make yourself.

From the first time I heard the title track of the Incubus album Make Yourself seven years ago, I’ve (as I always am overanalyzing) constantly listened with a new appreciation of autonomy; of choice. The world only shapes us as we allow it to. Consciousness, mindfulness of what we are doing has every ability to win out if we let it.  Nobody is in charge of our reality except for ourselves.

if i hadn’t made me / i would have been made somehow. / if i hadn’t assembled myself, i’d have fallen apart by now. / if i hadn’t made me / i’d be more inclined to bow / powers that be would have swallowed me up, but that’s more than i can allow.

if you let ’em make you, they’ll make you papier-mache. / at a distance you’re strong, until the wind comes / then you crumble and blow away. / if you let ’em fuck you / there will be no foreplay / rest assured, they’ll screw you complete / till your ass is blue and grey.

you should make ammends with you / if only for better health, better health. / but if you really want to live / why not try and make yourself? / make yourself.

if i hadn’t made me / i’d have fallen apart by now / i won’t let ’em make me / it’s more than i can allow / so when i make me / i won’t be papier mache. / and if i fuck me, i’ll fuck me in my own way / fuck me in my own way.

make yourself.

–make yourself, incubus

There is the reality that we are shaped by our surroundings, however, we are not created/formed by them.  We can decide how we choose to let our circumstances alter our realities. It’s an intentional process of growth.

If I hadn’t made me, I would have been made somehow.

Letting go of apathy can be extremely hard–it’s evident in some past posts that I’ve been trying to let go of spiritual apathy for almost a year and a half now, and I’m still stuck.  In the process of that apathy though . . . I am allowing myself to explore my thoughts deeper through my disconnection. And that, i think, is a good thing.  Looking back on the last seven years, it is completely obvious that I have been being shaped, and then remodelling myself from what I did and didn’t like spiritually–kissing “religion” goodbye; preachiness goodbye; spiritual bullshit goodbye.  It’s not by the book, it’s not to the letter, but I am so much happier this way.

Assembl[ing] myself.

Spiritually, I’ve figured out for myself that it’s okay if I don’t follow all the “rules”. Others may not be okay with this . . . but that’s okay.

To me, that means love is love. Maybe it means “broken rules” and disconnect. All that can be okay if I let it be okay. It’s experiential, it’s experimental, it’s journeying with God . . . what’s the point of having a story if there’s not story to tell?

Powers that be would have swallowed me up, but that’s more than I can allow.

Though it sometimes perhaps felt like a curse, the fact that I simply couldn’t allow myself to become a cookie-cutter clone in the past has worked out to my advantage. The world has shaped me in many good ways, taught me many tough lessons, but in the end, I’ve still come out of it myself. “I don’t know what I am, but I’m not a category.” [inspectors of inspectors, driftless pony club.]

If you let ’em make you, they’ll make you papier-mache.

Choices, friends and good things, good influences, have lead me to where I am.  Mostly healthy in spite of this thing called chronic illness. Happy most of the time. A sense of insatiable wanderlust that is being fulfilled in more unexpected ways than I could have ever dreamed. I’ve fought myself. I’ve fought with the world around me.  And . . . I grew. To realize the importance of growing through these experiences.

You should make ammends with you if only for better health. But if you really want to live why not try and make yourself.

The world can impact me, shake me, teach me . . . but I am who I am.  If I’m not on the right path, well, I’m quite enjoying this one–so, if I’m fucking up, I’m fucking up my own way: the way that will teach me something and help me see things better every day.

If I hadn’t made me I’d have fallen apart by now […] and if I fuck me, I’ll fuck me in my own way.

make yourself.

We make ourselves. I make myself.

make yourself.