1) Her impressive use of technology. Mama Beth rocks instagram, facebook, and even has a twitter account. In a world where it would be easy to step back and say “Nope. That wasn’t around for me. I have no interest,” Mom jumps in with both feet. She is always willing and excited to learn.
2) Her impressive ability to make me laugh. She is always funny, a biting intelligent with that she doesn’t share with everyone, but if you’re lucky enough to see it you’ll be in stitches.
3) A few weeks ago, I was home during a tough family time. It had been a sucky week. I woke up, and did something that I’m guessing is strange for most 25 year old women.
I crawled into bed with my mom. Ok, it’s probably strange for really most girls over the age of, you know, 10, but when I was thinking about my mom today, it struck me how calming feeling her near me still is. How, with my father, I am consistently provided an anchor, a support. I am immensely blessed that I never walk a step in this world without having my mother’s hands, spiritually, anchored around my heart. I never take a breath in without knowing that I am loved, unconditionally, by a strong woman who taught me how to love that way as well.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom
I have come with a nomad’s heart and a travelers’s body.
After years of being out at sea— the
twitch-muscles in my calves are so used to
the constant swaying of shaky hands and
fluid commitments that the stability of feeling
safe is so foreign it is almost dizzying. My
internal buoy has been measuring the
up-downs of surrounding ebbs and flows
that simply sitting quietly while he holds
my hand is a level of sea-glass calm that skews
all of my previous internal measurements.
He mentioned that he was surprised at
how much I tossed and turned at night,
and I realized that it’s because
I’m so used to sleeping on turbulent
jetstreams my body doesn’t know
how to rest on smooth skies any longer.
I’m terrified that, in my attempt to get
back to my equilibrium I will throw him
into my tornadoed heart instead. He
will get sucked into the current of my
tossing and turning and get taken out to sea.
It’s ridiculous how quickly the body
adapts to a stormy climate, and
I don’t know how to broadcast that I
am raging weatherstorms untrusting of temperance.
Today, I ran farther than I have in months. I found 2 things:
Let’s start with the first:
Back when I started teaching in 2009, I wrote about how I could only cry while I ran. Somehow, “the wall I’ve built around myself to keep [my students’ harmful words] out is thick enough that…I’m just not vulnerable enough to break in front of them.”
It’s funny, but more than 4 years later (blahblahblahTIMEblahblah I’M SO OLD), it feels like I have not really let the walls down. I still rarely cry in front of anyone outside my family. This is strange, considering that my aunt passed away days ago. Really, no one in Hawai’i has seen me break down.
The wall that I built while teaching never fully went away. This, combined with failed relationships, have made it so that it takes a lot of work for me to feel really vulnerable around anyone. I’d rather handle emotional problems on my own, and when I’m upset, take the space and the “high road” to discuss a problem instead of get emotional.
Today, though, I finally found space to breakdown and grieve completely. I miss my aunt. I am so sad I never really got to say goodbye to her. I am so sad I will never see her smile at me again. I am sad for my cousins, who will not have their mother. I am sad for all the missed opportunities to say “I love you,” or spend time hearing her laugh. I am sad for my uncle, who has lost the mother of his children. I am sad. I have no great realization around that. I just realized how hard I will have to work to let myself trust that not everyone I allow into my life is going to abandon me in some way.
And the second.
On Forgiving (or Conversations with Myself)
Sometimes, when I am angry at someone or wish I could have it out with someone, I imagine we are in an improv scene on stage together.
Yes, that’s immensely weird. I am a ridiculous crazy person who talks to myself in my head, I know. It’s one of the few things I have kept from my theatre days. Sometimes the best way to say the things you really want to is imagine that someone else is saying them.
So, I don’t know why, but God decided it was time for me to forgive. I imagined we were in the kitchen having an argument. In my mind, I screamed about how angry I was. How annoyed I felt when they were around. How hurt I was that someone I had let myself feel even a little vulnerable with had left me so disappointed. Then, I simply broke down and started sobbing. In the end I wasn’t actually angry. I was sad and hurt that I wouldn’t be able to trust this person anymore, but that I had made choices too that made that happen.
Now, this is the part that always is up in the air. Most of the time when I imagine actually arguing with someone, I tend to focus on all the excuses they would give, all the things they would say to make me mad. The cycle of anger continues and spirals deeper.
When I imagine someone in this context though, I always feel like my brain removes that bias and actually let’s me think through what might happen. Sometimes, they argue back. Sometimes, they point out what I actually did wrong.
This time, they started crying and apologized too. Then it hit me that we are all struggling. We all make mistakes. We all hurt people without meaning to. Christ compels us to remember that we all need His forgiveness, because none of us are without sin or mistakes. No, that does not mean that I instantly forget what I learned. It does mean, though, that I need to move on.
So, I took them in my arms, asked that they breathe with me, and on the exhale I let it go.
Feel him anchor himself to you as a partner.
Use this new sensation to override the memories
of a powerful Southern palm as it slid, slowly like
cigar smoke, along the back of your neck in a crowded bar.
Admit that you loved the way it massaged your neck
that night, held you in its power like a dog holding a pup
by the scruff of its neck, but all that meant was that you
would never stand side-by-side, only behind.
Feel his fingers press softly into yours as reassurance
of how gentle he can be if needed. These are not the hardened
hands of a Chicago-style dog who painted a red line of
distrust down your back while you lay naked in his arms.
where you should have been safe.
deleted lines (that I really loved) from an upcoming poem, “how to treat the one you’re with, version 5”.
This is my Auntie Achara, more often known to me as my Auntie Mee. A few days ago, she passed away from pancreatic cancer.
While the prognosis was nearly 2 years ago (so we were able to prepare a little, and she was able to do things before she left us), this feels horrible. My 2 cousins, who are 11 and 13, shouldn’t have to be without their mom. My uncle will have to raise them on his own. Please keep them (and my whole family) in your thoughts.
My aunt was an amazing special education teacher, a fantastic mother, and an awesome auntie. She always made me laugh. She always made you feel good. She was a great cook and photographer too. Fortunately, she took some great family photos so that there are things to look at and make us laugh when missing her hurts too much.
I think the worst thing about this week has been how helpless I have felt. While I have amazing friends, coworkers, my boyfriend, and especially my phenomenal family to help keep me together, I feel completely out of control. One minute I’m fine, and then as soon as I open my mouth I just start sobbing uncontrollably. I’m normally pretty even-keeled in my emotions, and I just feel like I’m raw and walking on eggshells with my own heart. I just feel so far away from my own family as well. I have nothing to offer but text messages and kind words. I didn’t even get to see her to say goodbye. I know she knew I love her, but it still hurts a lot. I really liked my aunt (I mean, I loved her obviously, but she was also really great and I just liked being around her too), and I’m going to miss her pretty terribly.
Throw in Boston, and this was a pretty terrible week. Seeing explosions at the finish line was a huge and terrifying trigger that just made my entire body shake with sadness and panic. Fortunately, I was with my parents when it happened, but I would like this week to end, please.
That said, this week was also a reminder of the goodness in the world. My family (especially the cousins) have banded together to support each other. I have so many people being so good and loving and kind. My parents got a house (!!) on the Big Island. I am still so blessed.
Anyway, there’s no real purpose to this post other than to share what’s going on.
God does not demand that I be successful, God demands that I be faithful. - Mother Teresa
Lent, the 40 day period of repentance and reflection before Easter, comes to a close. Hallelujah! He is Risen!
That, by far, is one of my favorite phrases (I’ve used it 2-3 times already on social media alone). It’s such an honest exclamation of joy (Hallelujah! aka ”YAY!”) and the humanity of being surprised (He is Risen! aka “OH SNAP JESUS WOKE UP GUYS”) that it always seems to resonate.
So, what did I accomplish this Lenten season?
—> I did, in fact, keep up nearly every day of prayer and reflection.
—> I did not keep up with my weekly plans, but did manage to get most of my stuff done. Hrm.
—> Letters were started. One was finished. One was too painful to finish. Instead, I shared the story with some people, which felt amazingly liberating.
I also succeeded in giving up peanut butter for the second half of Lent, because it was becoming a problem. Of course, my guy bought me Nutella instead, which was equally delicious, but we all make trade-offs.
Now, though, the real impetus for this post comes from something I read last week in My Life with the Saints:
“Ready for Jamaica?” [the older Jesuit] said to me.
Out came all of my fears. My worries about living in the developing world, my concerns over running into violence and, most of all, my fear of getting sick.
Joe [the older Jesuit] listened patiently. I can still see him sitting across from me, pulling on his gray bear and rocking in his chair.
Finally he said, “Why not just allow yourself to get sick?”
Sometimes it takes just a few words to open your mind. And those were exactly the words I needed to hear. What Joe was telling me was that I needed to allow myself to be human. And sometimes humans have get sick and deal with it the best they can… I wrote: “I really pray for that kind of acceptance of myself. And also for the ability to be myself, not always putting on a brave face before everyone, particularly when I am depressed, worried, confused, etc…”
My Life with the Saints, Fr. James Martin, SJ, pg 160
This page really stuck out to me as I continued to read about Fr. Martin’s discovery of and connection to Mother Teresa’s own crisis of faith. We often spend so much time beating ourselves up (definitely me included), that we forget how beautiful our humanity is.
God CREATED us, and so our “imperfections” may really be self-created or seen. His love for us is so great, it transcends any criticism I could create of myself. What matters most is do I love Him, do I love others, and do I commit myself to serve him by loving others. When I do not live up to this standard, this question is am I willing to get off the mat, grow from those choices, and try harder the next day. None of us has a perfect relationship with anyone, including God. What matters is that we keep working at it, even when it seems too hard.
The next part of my realization came from a series of things said and things read in my journey towards Easter. This past week, I had the immense privilege of hearing an amazing number of educators, community members, and organizers speak in New Orleans. One was Dr. T, aka Dr. Marvin Thompson, the principal at John McDonogh high school. At one point, someone asked him what we should give to teachers joining this work, and he said the following (I’ll paraphrase to the best of my memory…):
They need to love and care about kids… we don’t need heroes, we don’t need saviors. Saviors get crucified. Only ONE person has done it so far… but don’t worry. He’s coming back.
Not only was it a great (and hilarious— the room burst into laughter) and timely comment to make about educators, but about Easter and the savior as well. GOD is so great, and his son Jesus is Christ the King— not any political or education reformer, not any celebrity, and certainly not me.
Instead of that being degrading though, I find that beautiful and empowering. Our failures and shortcomings can be, ultimately, how we learn.
God does not expect me to be “perfect,” (whatever that means— and who knows?), so why should I expect that of myself? When I beat myself up because I feel fat, or am not as successful as I’d like at a project, or I can’t do a pose perfectly in yoga, who does that serve? Certainly not the God that loves me. One of my amazing CPY teachers, Mara, often starts her class with this empowering thought:
So often we come to the mat thinking about how we’re going to improve ourselves or beat our last class or the person next to us. Let that go. Today, know that where you are right now is absolutely perfect. You are exactly where you need to be in this moment.
Part of the grace of this season is that He has risen and continues to rain down His everlasting love (I mean, He loved us so much He died for us. Big.), forgiveness, and blessings. What matters is not standards or benchmarks placed on me by myself or societal structures, but that I did my best to love Him by loving and caring for others, including myself.
So, for the 50 days of this Easter season, I’m going to add some things, get back on the wheel for some others, but also work really hard to love myself a little more. I would love for you do the same!
I click-through photos, watching a
face I once knew like the back of my own
hand change with time. As you, as we, move
forward so far from the path we once
tread together, the face has hints
of the nose I once knew, the cheek
whose temperature I could recall at
once, but is now no longer a part of
my life. It morphs, grows older, changes.
The eyes that I once looked into
each day now look into another’s.
Yet these lines are not filled with
anger, but with joy. As I click through
the photos I see how well she fits into a
world that I have long since outgrown. Or
maybe “mis-grown,” since it’s not that
I am too “mature” for it, but rather that
we grew into different shapes. The puzzle
pieces of our lives once stitched together
with entwined fingers and kissing palms
have long since mis-aligned. I see now
how much better you are with a more well-fit
piece, how the “things you loved” are so much better
suited as the “things WE love.” And I cannot
help but feel both happiness and relief— because
it only serves as a reminder of the things I
never wanted, the things I never loved, the
things I could never give you.
That’s a two-way street, though, and I see
now how you have grown into a way that would
no longer have fit into the larger picture
of my life either. How blessed I am to finally
feel empowered to paint my own vista
across a canvas I had to build all
on my own. How the pieces have finally
start to fit together in a way that feels
good, and the hands of someone new whose
fingers fit my own feel so warm and right
it’s hard not to feel happy.
Happy Holy Saturday! With the crazy amount of traveling/conferencing/shenanigans happening in my life this past week, I’ve missed writing/updating. I plan to write something for Easter, but in the spirit of catch-up, here’s a slightly-Easter-themed 3-2-1:
3 Things I’m Excited to Restart/Return to:
1. Fitness. Oomph. Traveling is always tough, but our hotel gym was literally 2 treadmills and an elliptical machine. That’s it. This, plus getting around 4 hours of sleep every night means I haven’t worked out in 3 days. I also haven’t done yoga in a week. And my diet hasn’t been awesome (though, I have tried to be mindful of my choices). So, I’m planning on getting back into the swing of things by rejoining my yoginis/yogis in CPY teacher training and going to the gym 3 times a week again.
2. Mass/Church. I’ve also missed mass 2 weekends in a row. BOO. I miss my mass buddies and having that consistent connection with God and my faith community each week.
3. Going outdoors. I realize I haven’t been on a hike or to the beach in weeks because of how nuts everything has been. Must see the sunshine and enjoy the beautiful place I live in!
2 Things I’m Adding to My Life:
1. Writing Daily. I’ve never kept a private/personal journal, and I think I would like to start. Fr. James Martin, SJ has noted the importance of this in his book My Life with the Saints (which is AMAZING and I can’t recommend enough!!) as far as parsing through difficult thoughts and reflecting on one’s relationship with the world and the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life.
2. Public Transportation/Using my car less: Gas is expensive. I used the bus a few times this past month and really dug it. I also have to get my bike fixed so I can return to biking to work, which I also really loved. Time to go more green/cheap/healthy!
1 Thing That Surprised Me:
1. I Really Missed My New Home. For one of the first times since moving there nearly a year ago, I really missed Hawai’i on this trip. I missed the beautiful green trees. I missed my apartment. I missed my friends. I missed my guy a whole bunch. I missed yoga and my yoga studio. Weird (and awesome).
I’ve always been a words girl (I’m one of those folks who, upon hearing the word cat, does not see an image of, say, Bingley, in my mind’s eye, but rather the word “CAT” in all-caps. Then Bingley. Actually, the font in my head is eerily similar to the one in the GIRLS, which is not something I love)
Still, there’s been a rash of music coming into my life lately that, well, just makes you wanna do something, for lack of more eloquent language. I don’t know what it is, but it’s like I’m finally getting what people mean when they talk about how music really affects you physically.
Anyway, there’s no real point to this post, but here’s a brief and disconnected group of songs that just makes you feel things.
I missed last week. Oops!
3 Things Getting Me Hyped:
1) I AM GOING TO NEW ORLEANS THIS WEEK! I get to eat delicious food! I get to see a number of my friends! I get to help present at a conference and see all kinds of cool stuff!
2) AFTER THAT I GET TO GO TO LA AND SEE MY FAMILY! I get to see my parents! My brother will be home too! As will my cousins Natalie (coming home from Japan) and Amber (currently living in NYC)! YAY!
3) I MEAN AREN’T THE FIRST 2 ENOUGH?! No? Okay. Today I realized I haven’t had a panic attack of ANY size in over 3 months! I credit a better diet/yoga/meditation/Jesus.”
2 Things I’m Addicted to Lately:
1) Scandal. This show. A friend recently said it sounded like “The West Wing but more scandalous.” YUP. A close second would be BBC”s Sherlock, but I only have one ep left (but will likely rewatch it).
2) Honey. I don’t even know why. I’ve been eating it by the spoonful. It’s a problem.
1 Phrase I’m Sticking to This Week:
1) “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.”
I’ve been twenty-five for about six months now.
Ok, real talk: that’s a terrifying thing to admit. Still, let’s skip all the holy-shit-I’m-so-old and why-the-fuck-is-time-moving-so-fast nonsense. It’s a given at this point, yes?
Twenty-five is one of those ages that hits hard for a lot of folks. It’s the downhill of the twenties, the slope now definitively headed towards 30. In the years leading up to it, you make all kinds of assumptions about what life will be like or what will be happening at this point in your life (or, I certainly did).
While I’m nowhere near wise, and about 500 yards from even being considered “knowledgeable,” I have come to some things I’ve realized after standing solidly in this mid-twenty zone for the past six months, especially when I compare it to what I thought, say, 2 years ago (for writing-conventions sake anyway). Here’s what I would tell 23-year-old-Christina if given the chance
At 23: I
‘m sure better have all this stuff figured out by 25, or I’m screwed.
At 25: You will be lucky if you have one aspect of life figured out between love, career, where you will live for the rest of your life and current world-views. You will also be lucky if the rest of those things are only at the “shambles” level of the shenanigans scale. You will probably be pretty normal if at least one these is at the “omnishambles.”
At 23: I know what I’m looking for in a relationship and in a man now.
At 25: You might have no idea what you want for a while, and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a nice meal and a drink with someone, having some nice conversation, a kiss goodnight, and leaving it at that. You have a right to step back and create that space for yourself.
More importantly though, your standards will change and so will your tastes.
Now, often people look at that idea and assume it means that at a certain age you start lowering your standards. I really disagree with that (at least at this point in my fairly inexperienced life). My standards have certainly changed since turning 25 (and experiencing a period of singledom longer that lasted longer than my previous record of… 2 months). They have NOT, however, lowered. You simply learn that there is a difference between what you actually need and what you thought you wanted. Can I get over the fact that a man has little interest in Star Trek or sports? Sure, we can probably find other stuff to talk about, or we can learn from each other. Can I date someone that actively dislikes that I am religious? Or that I can’t have long, intellectual conversations about pop culture or politics with? Probably not.
[Also, there will be times where you think Huh. I am… going to die alone with 6 cats. Remember that’s probably not true. Because you have friends who love you. and cats are fun]
At 23: When I closed the chapter on this part of my life, it’s out of it for good.
At 25: Nothing really ends, your relationship with it/the person merely changes. To assume you will never want to try something again (say, teaching, for example) would be putting unnecessary restraints on yourself. To assume that the people you have cared for (either romantically or platonically) should simply be erased from your past is not only silly, but a disservice to your future self. You shouldn’t lose the lessons or the finger prints that molded you into the person you are now.
More importantly, this goes for the next person you will care for too. They will have people that have molded them who will never completely fade from them. That’s okay though. You can find a park bench that fits you two perfectly, and jokes that make you laugh.
At 23: If this relationship/friendship/job ends, it’s because one of us failed.
At 25: If this relationship/friendship/job ends, it’s probably because it was time. If someone “failed,” we likely weren’t ready or right for each other to begin with.
At 23: I’ll make myself an actual dinner when I’m older. Trader Joe’s meals ftw!
At 25: Perhaps you have found yourself in a place that doesn’t really have a kitchen. And you are currently single and living on your own. And so maybe that means you spend a number of meals eating peanut butter and bananas. Enjoy the money saver, and be really appreciative when your friends invite you over for dinner.
Though, you could also probably start cooking more.
For someone who loves words, I haven’t been great at writing them.
Not for bad reason, just I’ve been pulled in quite a few directions. BUT in an effort to get back to writing about my life overall, I’m hoping to start doing a little 3-2-1 action again each Tuesday. And here… we…go!
Three Recent Blessings
Two Things I’m Hyped About
One Goal For the Week
Alright, folks. That’s what I got.