welcoming summer

This year is moving at blazing speeds and I have felt myself running, hustling, jumping – simply to catch up. Somehow, when I awoke the other morning it was June and the sun was shining through at a cool 84 degrees. Summer has arrived.

Summer is my favorite time of year: shorts, sunglasses, and ubiquitous green oak trees, along with an ease to the air that has been absent all year long. And it’s easily the best time of year to snap on rollerblades and roll along with views of the city.

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Mostly, summer reminds me to breathe, relax, and just enjoy the existence of, well, life.

Summer is also easily planned; booked with trips and adventures and any other outdoor activity you could think of. This summer is a bit different, too. Fresh off a week-long jaunt to Mexico, I’m squeezing in extra classes at school while also dreaming and planning a wedding with Chelsea for next summer (in 2019). Summer, then, feels like a bridge over water, a transition that we have all been anxiously awaiting (at least I have).

Summer is usually when I am most happy. Life feels a little more open, a little more spontaneous, like a meandering walk with no agenda, or a flower blooming without a care in the world.

When this year started, I choose the word “breathe” to be my mantra. My hope was that I could remind me to stop and simply be in the crevices of moments when things got crazy.

Easier said than done, right?

Yet, when I have honored those short, still moments it feels like I can tap into something deeper, as if for an instant I can absorb all that is sweet about life. Awareness does this: it opens our eyes, minds, and hearts – suddenly we can observe and bear witness to occurrences that we wouldn’t otherwise see.

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Case and point. I paused to breathe the other day while walking from the bus. I sat at a bench and looked around. It was as though everything and nothing was miraculous at once. I saw people hurrying to work. I saw, in the same blocks, people begging for money. Students were in the thick of exams, double-fisting with coffee and study guides. And, I saw a sweet old woman mightily propelling her walker up the hill, presumably to enjoy a mid-morning stroll. She was tenacious; never once stopping in her aims to proceed with her journey. It was surprisingly beautiful to see – all of us, simply living our lives on another day, at the edge of a new season.

Breathing lends itself to seeing and seeing keeps the wonder alive. Even in the craze of summer, that is my goal – to stay wonderous, adventurous, and of course, to breathe deeply every chance I get. It’s easier for those moment to slip by as life changes course and more adulting and responsibility comes our way. However, they do not have to.

When we breathe and find awareness to our world, we are present to life. And, I do believe our presence is the greatest gift we can bring, not only to others, but also to ourselves. Happy summer, friends.

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A Sojourner’s Staff

When I stumbled upon Communal Table, a publication about recipes and sharing meals together, it was in start-up phase, being launched on kick-starter. I knew I wanted in.

I submitted an inquiry about contributing to the online journal one of the upcoming issues. I got my chance. And so, I wrote this.

It got published and I was over the moon.

Becoming a writer does not happen just because a piece of work is posted somewhere officially.

No, becoming a writer is more nuanced, hidden between the pages of coffee-stained journals and late nights of contemplation. It’s frustrating as hell and also, one of my deep, great loves.

Capturing life, it turns out, through word is no easy task. But my, I do think it’s noble.

When my words appeared back to me for the first time, I realized that someone else had found meaning and power in them. And that was invigorating. It was as though being a writer was no longer an isolating experience – at least for a moment.

Communal Table  is all about the conversation. On their website, they map out their purpose by answering the question below:

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Their editorial team issued a call for submissions on a recent issue with the theme of “staff.” It was described as:

The staff of life keeps us going, and so does the staff that makes it. We appreciate all those who work in the background to make our daily lives happen. Consider this our ode to them. This issue is all about the hidden inner workings of the seemingly ordinary day and the people who make it all occur.

I submitted a piece about my grandmother. It’s called “A Sojourner’s Staff.”

To my delight, their team agreed to work with me to edit, refine, and perfect it. Five drafts and two months later, it’s finished. And, it’s here.

It’s about aging, love, and the tension of embracing the seasons we enter. Enjoy. And, keep writing.

busy-ness.

Leaves fall, summer has left, and jewel-toned scarves slowly surface from boxes long neglected during the height of sunshine season. Time, as usual, has escaped us, and in rare moments of breathing room, I contemplate: “what has happened? where has time gone?”

Intentionally, I slept in this morning, allowing my body and my spirit to catch up with the swift movements of my days. My eyes flickered just after 10:00am and as I cracked my toes from a deep slumber, I realize it’s my first Sunday home alone since….well, I can’t even remember. I curl back in bed with a warm cup of coffee, a bowl of warm oatmeal and banana, and, of course, my notebook. I want to soak up the stillness of this time for as long as I can.

Weekends have guided me through Texas plains, Aspen mountains, rugby pitches, Silverthorne hikes, brunch with old friends, and cozy couches as I’ve offered my dog sitting services. Bouncing around, living life like the quick turning of pages in a delectable book, I have lost any semblance of routine that it took an entire summer to build.

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Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado. 

Certainly, my days are far from regurgitated sameness – on any given weekend, I might be farming, exercising, watching football, or baking. You never really know. Still, as I’ve become better about creating structure in my work-flow from Monday to Friday, I’ve also added markers for rhythm: things like, morning work-outs, evening walks, Sundays at church, and most importantly, daily morning time set aside for journaling, prayer, and devotion.

All of these have been essential as I’ve practiced what it means (and looks like) to work effectively, hard, but also with a heck of a lot of balance. Earlier in the year, I struggled with this a lot. Working remotely provides great freedoms and flexibility. However, if you fail to find boundaries, you might find yourself working from bed far too much, or worse yet, in isolation. A continual mindfulness is required when so much of your day can be autonomously determined. I’m proud of the balance I have struck. And yet, the end of summer and early fall has slipped away, and the benchmarks that I’ve established to bring rhythm to my life have fell by the wayside.

I’ve acquiesced to the tides of time, even forgetting the number of the day or the context for the week.

Busyness is not always inherently bad, but it does become problematic when we are robbed of the ability to recognize the present moment. Routine is essential in this way – in my experience, if you build your life with both room for expectation and spontaneity, you are full alive. Yet, when time just keeps slipping away, it can feel like you cannot exist in the experiences you are a part of.

I took time to delve back into scripture this morning. Space give us time to think. To reflect. To ask hard questions. To offer gratitude. To rest. I needed this immensely.

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The beautiful part though, I think, is that we don’t have to feel guilty when we feel far from the things that nourish us. Instead, there’s always an opportunity to return, to re-calibrate, and that will do much more for us than guilt ever could.

We could design our life with schedules that are rigid and focus on “what we do.” We could. However, in a return to this space, I realize our life should be lived more from our heart, and the orientation of our love towards God, ourselves, and others. Doing doesn’t guarantee peace. I could engage in time for morning prayer every single day, but if I’m doing it out of obligation – and not love- than my practice is fueled more by religious expectation than with a real kind of desire in my heart. Relationship implies sacrifice and commitment, but if we do things simply because we think we have to, we will hardly be living a grounded kind of life.

Time has slithered by, and I confess that I’ve hardly noticed. Busyness can numb us – but not forever. We can choose the way we live our day. Days, it turns out, become weeks, and months, and years. Small choices make a difference. I hope to practice my life with a bit more intentionality, even in these seasons of busy, busy, busy things. Intentionality doesn’t mean doing nothing. Actually, I think it means choosing to approach our schedules and days with an awareness about what we are doing – and why. Whether it’s work, or church, or family, or fun – why are we doing what we are doing? Do I need rest? How can I take it?

Maybe it’s time to say “no.” Maybe it’s time to say “yes.”

It’s different for everyone.

But, at the end of the day, we all have the same amount of time.

The question is,

What will we do with it?

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Amarillo, Texas with four generations of women in our family. 

 

 

Practicing Commitment

A true free spirit, I’m addicted to possibility.

As an ENFP – which if you happen to be a nerd for Myers-Briggs Personalities –  curiosity, enthusiasm, exploration, and relationships largely shape the way I act in the world. ENFP types echo life as a “dreamer”; much like sentiments found in this beautiful piece of poetry:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer
This is all really great stuff. And, I’m glad I’ve turned out the way I am. However, constant curiosity can create points of dissension in life, namely practicing what it means to commit – both in big and small aspects of life. 
Frequently, I find myself thinking of nearly 1,000 different directions I could take – and that’s even before I’ve chosen what I’m going to eat for breakfast. Rarely do my days look the same; I pile on interesting opportunity after interesting opportunity, only to find myself exhausted by weeks-end. What happens, when you are in the thick of options, choice, and never-ending wonder, is the lack of grit for commitment. Boundless options actually create paralysis, and I am only learning this now at the ripe age of 27.
And so, I’ve been praying a lot these days, about what it practically, tangibly looks like to commit in my life. It doesn’t mean I’m a wonder kill-joy. Of course not.
Remain curious, remain excited about the endless openings of life, but also, find roots.  

 

I want to “love the hell out of everybody.” I desperately want to feel “liberated and free.” And, like John Lewis talks about, I want to see “the spark of the divine” in everyone. My curiosity will open these paths; but it will be my commitment to the life in front of me that will build the kind of relationships that necessitate community.

This requires a hell of a lot of practice.

It means that my “yes” must mean “yes” and my “no” must mean “no.” It means that if sleep is important to me, I should aim for 7, maybe 8 hours (not 4 or 5). It means that I know my limits. Commitment, means living right where you are. I have dreams. Dream them. I have a beautiful past. Remember them. But, what God is teaching me now, more than ever, is that part of welcoming new seasons is the striving to commit to what they have to teach you, presently.

And so, to also instill a new kind of drive to commit, I recently joined a rugby team.

I have a blank, white slate to learn something new.

Unlike a new endeavor that I’m doing just for the heck of it, I am on the rugby team because it’s something I can tangibly work towards. It brings opportunity for goals – and the striving for achieving them.

I have practices each and every week – all of which that will test my physical, mental, and emotional endurance. I have team-members that I can learn from. I have regularity – a schedule that I know I can depend on.

I rest somewhere between the zest of being a student of something new, and the longevity of seeing hard work come to fruition.

I read in an old journal recently (from when I was around 8 years of age) about my dreams to join the NFL. Rugby is no NFL, but it is bad-ass. It is hard. The women that I am playing with are immensely impressive and I have a lot to learn.

So, I feel beautifully content that I’m still following old, planted dreams, with a newfound balance of curiosity and commitment to the endeavors I take on. I don’t have to grasp at all the tassels of life that present themselves.

Instead, I can know myself intimately, celebrate who I am, and commit to living the life I have wanted to live.

I am committed to being me. And really, there is no greater feeling.

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Post-first-ever rugby scrimmage at Infinity Park in Glendale.

 

welcome to the neighborhood.

I decided it would be fun to go on a run/photo session after work one day. Completely, totally worth it. This State Park is about a 15 minute drive from my new place.

I decided it would be fun to go on a run/photo session after work one day. Completely, totally worth it. This State Park is about a 15 minute drive from my new place.

Sunset on the front range - Friday, after work, post-run.

Sunset on the front range – Friday, after work, post-run.

Chatfield State Park, Douglas & Jefferson Counties, Colorado.

Chatfield State Park, Douglas & Jefferson Counties, Colorado.

Exploring the bike paths behind the neighborhood; this leads to the Highline Canal, a 27 mile long trail that leads right into Denver.

Exploring the bike paths behind the neighborhood; this leads to the Highline Canal, a 27 mile long trail that leads right into Denver.

Me and the trees. You know, gotta capture that stunning yellow color!

Me and the trees. You know, gotta capture that stunning yellow color!

Could fall be any prettier?

Could fall be any prettier?

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I took my bike out to a nearby pond close to my home and it was full of leaves, trees, and ducks!

I took my bike out to a nearby pond close to my home and it was full of leaves, trees, and ducks!

fall.

fall.

Evening stroll in the park - my backyard is kind of awesome.

Evening stroll in the park – my backyard is kind of awesome.