Vulnerability

Why do you think that is?

“I haven’t been as regular in posting,” I said to the man on the other end of a Skype connection.

“Why do you think that is?” he asked kindly.

I was in the middle of a podcast interview last weekend and his question gave me pause.

My answer centered on my desire to turn this project into a book and how with each new post I ask myself, “Is this the last one before I stop?”

There is truth in that sentiment and when I take off my interviewee hat and listen to my heart I hear this too.

I am getting tired of risking my vulnerability here.

Not in an exasperated way. It’s not that I’m over it – not in the least.

Rather, sharing my search for good and beautiful things has left me open and raw and seeking connection with other brave peace warriors. Sometimes this internet space is not as fulfilling as Instagram tells me it will be.

I talk about grief and joy and feelings and fewer want to engage with these truths than with work-out routines and make-up tips and how to make the perfect soufflé.

This practice, my friends, takes time and emotional fortitude and sometimes I wonder if I’ve still got what it takes. Whatever “it” is.

All the doubts creatives have start trickling in and I question – Is this really the best place for me to process my way through the world?

And then, I read this tweet by Jon Acuff:

“You can hold your breath and pretend your perfect, shoving those fears back into a quiet corner or you can be vulnerable and brave enough to ignore the handful of people who will mock your vulnerability because they are terrified of their own. You get to choose each day.”¬†

I let out the breath I’ve been holding and climbed out of my dark corner. My fingers began to twitch with the need to keep typing tales of my life and the beauty found here.

I am not terrified of my vulnerability – only in how you will receive my expressions – and the difference there is much more about you than me.


This week I’ve been sick, coughing until abs I did not know I had in my body are sore. I’m constantly sucking on Ricola, the Swiss sweets soothing my scratchy throat.

I slept for eleven hours thanks to the help of Tylenol PM.

My body is recovering and in my resting I’m making lists of the beautiful while my body shakes from gack in my chest.

Here’s the beautiful things surrounding me as I start again:

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Big bowls of bright red cherries – bursting with juice

Rolling thunderstorms clouds and quaking thunder claps

Butterflies with patterned wings

Lemon Mint cough drops

Peanut M&Ms

Influencers tweeting

Stretchy pants

Drives to the airport with accents

An ounce of bravery for tough conversations

Warm cups of tea

There’s so much beauty and good and holy things around me, even when I feel raw, achy and sore.

Why do you think that is?

 

May Favorite Things – 2019

There is snow on the ground. Welcome to spring in Colorado.

Where the weather keeps you guessing and you can’t quite put away those sweaters just yet.

I’m dreaming of sun dresses and sipping peppermint tea and sending you my favorite things this month.

  1. Rob Bell’s book What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    A really compelling argument about how our conversations are evolving. I keep telling everyone about this book.
  2. Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Boost Root Lifter
    I’m not a big beauty (like cosmetic, hair, nails, beauty products) gal. Typically my routine includes a shower, a bit of mascara and a good hair tie. BUT this past weekend I cut my hair to my shoulders and need a bit of help with styling my new ‘do. This product smells lovely, adds volume, and doesn’t leave me feeling crunchy or grimy at the end of the day.
  3. Brene’ Brown’s Netflix special
    Keep watching all the way to the end. Her story about her daughters swim meet brought me to tears. So much of life is like that swim meet.
  4. Peas and Beans and Lettuce
    We planted some of our cool weather plants and I’m very excited. Look for frost resistant varieties of seeds and get your gardens started. Especially if there isn’t snow at your house.
  5. Strawberry Bubly Water
    Remember Michael Buble’s Superbowl ad? It was clever. When my boss brought in this sparkling water, I said, ‘sure – let’s give it a try.’ And the strawberry variety is delicious. Watch out La Croix. Bubly is going to give you a run for your money. Especially in my office.

May your May be warm and sunny.

 

A Tequila Toast

I stood at the edge of the stone pit, toes warming as flames licked the burning wood as it spat and sputtered to a start. I stuffed my hands in my pockets, the sounds of laughter rolling around behind me in the cold mountain air.

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Belly digesting rehearsal dinner food, I was having one of those moments where I felt full. Not just my stomach, my heart too. We had gathered for a wedding weekend for one of my oldest friends. All around me acquaintances chatted, laughter bubbling on the waves of pre-marital promise and bliss. I felt reminded of my roots, where I came from, and how these people shaped me at age thirteen, eighteen, twenty-two, twenty-five. Love for people with whom you have history.

I received a friendly slap on my back and I was invited into a loud conversation with my girlfriend’s dad. I used to spend weekends at his house, stealing Cokes and bobbing in the pool in his backyard. Summer afternoons on his ricksha, and movie nights in his basement. Time passed. I haven’t seen him in at least ten years.

With a big smile and a tip of his cowboy hat, he asked a perfectly normal question.

“How is your family?”

Oh…. shit… he doesn’t know. That question isn’t normal for me any more.

The warmth in my toes disappeared, and I shrank a bit into my puffy North Face jacket.

“Well,” I started, ” my mom is great. She’s working at a pre-school and my brother is still in town.”

Pause. How far do I go? Does he know? Gulp.

And then I jumped right in because I realize the burden of my grief often oozes out when I have to tell people who don’t know, over and over again, that we lost him.

“Not sure if your daughter told you,” I said, “but we lost my dad a year ago.”

Damnit.

I hadn’t had to say that stupid euphemism since I got a new job. I have exited the insurance agency, and the phone calls from his old clients stopped haunting me. I don’t remember how many of his clients had to hear the horrible news from me. Not many, but enough to make it no fun. A strength I didn’t even know I could possess, handling those calls.

The dad’s eyes softened. Chin dropped. Smile faded. He didn’t ask questions, and instead offered sympathy, jumping into his own story about the loss of his sister.

“Oh good,” my little, squeezing heart whispered to itself, “he kinda gets it.”

After mumbling a bit, said dad quickly bent over, grabbed a fancy glass bottle, and offered to toast to my dad. He poured the golden liquid. A couple fingers worth.

Strong, expensive tequila on ice in a styrofoam cup. Raised to you my papa, with other dads who wish they could still know you.

I drank it all down.

This is the space I’m living in now. A mix of integration, acceptance and painful memories. In being present in really happy moments, taking deep mountain breaths, and reconnecting with old friends. In telling people who don’t know and telling myself (who really ought to know by now) the damn truth. We lost him.

Yet, I haven’t lost these things:

  • I haven’t lost my friends. The ones who knew me when I was chubby and awkward with braces, who went to Prom with me, who stood by me when I got married, who I have had the privilege of watching walk down the aisle. They know me and they knew my dad and will continue to walk with me forward, out of this hell of sudden loss. Life long friends, a beautiful, beautiful gift.
  • The importance of laughter. Belly laughs. Make fun of yourself, dance, put on the cowboy boots. Show up. You will feel better when you get there.
  • The symbolism of toasts and celebration. Honoring memories with tequila makes sense. Standing and raising a glass to a friend of fifteen years as they make the biggest commitment of their life. A privilege.
  • Peace. It comes in waves and whispers and mountain breezes. A long hug. Fog rolling in, lapping your arms in cold, wet, kisses, the universe wants to bring me peace. If I am willing to accept help, people are there making me hot cocoa and offering an extra pair of socks.

Humans are funny, friendly, cheerful, present, and unsure. Death is inevitable and soul sucking for those left behind. Living in these real intersections of the choices to be in relationships and the quivering vulnerability that it can all go away – a beautiful thing.