I’ve had some wonderful highs over the past couple of weeks. Here are 5 of them . . . .
Dining room art
I have a really hard time putting holes in my walls. Once I commit, that hole isn’t going to disappear unless I haul out the sparkle and paint to make the wall blemish-free again. I know this really isn’t a huge hassle, but in my mind it always makes me think for a second, third, even fourth time before pounding the hammer to the nail. I want it to be perfect. So, I repainted my dining room last August, as in August 2012 and, that’s right, my large dining room wall has been empty for a whole year. That wall is a large expanse of space and I really haven’t known what I wanted to do there. Then, I saw this painting in a local store over the summer and loved it. I went back to the store and visited it several times before purchasing it and taking it home with me Labor Day weekend. It is absolutely PERFECT! Love the colors, love the size, love the way it makes me smile just looking at it. Worth the wait and definitely worth putting some holes in the wall!
An excuse to buy jewelry
A dear friend introduced me to this sweet little gift shop. It’s located inside an old house at a crossroads out in the country just north of where I live. It’s in a somewhat random location out there all by itself, that I wonder how they stay in business. I think that’s what gives it such great charm, like a diamond in the rough or seeing something beautiful where you don’t expect it. This little shop sells precious home decor items, candles, kitchen goods, and jewelry, lots of beautiful jewelry. I can see why my friend loves it so much. This bracelet is my beautiful memento from our time in this special place and it will always remind me of time spent with one of my besties.
Pool time with the fam
Although I was certainly happy to see August go, I’ve been a little nostalgic this week over the fact that pool time for the summer is officially over. It became real today when I drove by my community pool on the way home and a big, red ‘pool closed’ sign hung on the entrance door. I had a very challenging summer in my personal life, but throughout that journey, a wonderful constant was spending a lot of quality time with my family. We made it a regular routine to go to church together on Sunday morning, then head to the pool to swim. I will never forget playing in the water with my two little nephews and enjoying time floating and talking with my mom and sister. You know how you can just feel that certain experiences will be etched in your memory for all time? That was what time with my fam this summer feels like to me. It resides in a very special place in my memory. Those experiences were greater than my struggles. I think it was God’s gift of love for me during a time when I desperately needed to be loved.
Ocean = JOY
Imagine my surprise when in the middle of the children’s sermon in church I hear my name referenced. A friend from my women’s circle at church was giving the children’s message. The theme of her message was joy and she told the children that something I had said has always stuck with her. She told the children that I explained that the ocean is just the beginning of Gods love for us. That even though that ocean seemed endless and huge beyond words, that God loves us even more than the ocean is deep and wide. This was a blessing I gave to her, but in that moment, the joys and blessings of those words I shared with her several years ago flooded right back to me.
I was going through some books on my nightstand looking for my Sunday School journal to bring to church on Sunday. I found it, thumbed through it, and realized I had used it a couple of years ago to start recording 1,000 gifts in my life, based on Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts (if you haven’t read it, you must!). I glanced through the gifts I had recorded, but one gift really stuck out to me and made me smile:
gift #111: The way Gpa’s smile lights up his whole face.
My Gpa passed away earlier this year and in that moment, I feel like I was directed to read that blessing and that he was there. Thank you Lord for that gift.
Who am I?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I can’t focus on what’s beyond myself without first finding out who I am. I’ve been working on fully embracing my identity – this reflective, sensitive, energy-filled, girly-girl who God created to walk the Earth in this space and time. It’s not about my dreams, my relationships, or even what the future holds. It’s not about the external. My journey this summer has brought my focus inward. Back to me. I’m uncovering the depths of my being so that I can see relationships and circumstances and life through a sharper lens. I’ve never experienced a greater discovery or clearer picture of who I am. It’s transforming.
Who am I?
For years, I tried to be someone I’m not. My mom has told me that I’m an introvert who desperately wants to be an extrovert. She’s right. I’ve beaten myself up for not being like the socialites I so wanted to become. I wanted to be the brilliant conversationalist who told hilarious stories and captivated a crowd. I would leave social situations feeling grumpy and inferior, when in fact, that was not the person I was created to be. I was not fully comfortable living into my own gifts and the personality God gave me . . . until recently.
I don’t want to try to be someone I’m not. It’s exhausting. If someone doesn’t respect the person that I am or make time to be with me, then I don’t want them in my life. Period. I’m not keeping a tally of the number of friends I can collect or relationships I have at the finish line. It’s the quality, not the quantity. And, I have some amazing friends who support me, the real me, and love me for me. Friendship shouldn’t be hard work, it should be a joint union. A mutual listening and speaking, smiles and tears, ebb and flow.
Who am I?
I am an ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs personality indicator. This is not the most common personality type, and yet several of my friends and my closest family members are ISTJs. I’m sure this is not by chance. I think we’re wired to surround ourselves with people who ‘get’ us….people who look at life and interact with others in a similar way. My ‘I’ on the Myers-Briggs is pretty strong. Without a doubt, I gain energy from my ‘cave time,’ not from social situations. I like to be by myself. I am most comfortable sitting in a quiet room alone with my thoughts.
On the flip side, I love being with others. Coffee with friends, game night with the fam, a night out with the girls…..these are all such precious, priceless gifts in my life. Quality time with those who are special to me is my love language and the most meaningful way others show me that they care about me. But, I do have a hard time balancing my social life with my alone time. If I have too much of one or the other, I feel off balance, like I’m losing part of myself. Finding that balance is a constant struggle for me.
Who am I?
I have a hard time jumping in to a conversation. I either interrupt or I miss my opportunity. My timing is off. The conversation seems to naturally flow from one person to the next and I’m left reflecting on something someone three people ago shared. Where’s the space for quiet and introspection? How can others gather their thoughts so quickly and effectively and be able to share so effortlessly?
But, this is me. When I do say something, people usually listen. They pay attention because if they know me, they know that it was been tossed around in my brain and thought out enough to make it share-worthy. I don’t speak just to be heard; I truly share with intention and after great thought and reflection.
Who am I?
I want to have a voice. I cringe at being the center of attention, but I still want to be noticed. I want others to understand and respect who I am. I crave words of affirmation and appreciation from those who are closest to me.
Who am I?
I organize my world. The last time I took the Myers-Briggs, my ‘J’ was at 100%. I definitely don’t thrive on disorder and spontaneity! I crave order and schedules and putting dates on my calendar. Waking up to my morning Google calendar email update brings energy and enthusiasm for the day ahead. I feel most fulfilled when I have a productive day that also includes some time just for me.
Who am I?
I’ve always had more friends who are older than me than younger. I love the quiet confidence of those beyond my years. I learn so much from others and their experiences. Getting older is a blessing. With the passing of time, I’ve learned more about who I am and what makes me ‘tick.’ I’m growing more and more comfortable in my own skin. I continue to evolve into the person God created me to be. I am more comfortable and confident in being ME, and not what society thinks I should be. Each year of my life is my new favorite year. The ‘best years of my life’ are right now….in this moment….always.
So, I talk about wanting to be in love and feeling left behind. I’m certain that my 20-year-old self wouldn’t believe that I would be at this point in my life and haven’t found ‘the one.’ I guess I haven’t been brave. I haven’t put myself out there. I’ve been too shy. Well, that is, until a little over a year ago. That was when I went out looking for love. Intentionally looking for it. Last month, I ended my one-year journey with an online dating service. ‘Why would you cancel now? That seems like the perfect way to meet a guy!’ many people would ask. I joined because I was always curious about it and have had countless conversations with friends and colleagues who said they knew someone who met their boyfriend or husband online. I joined because I wanted to take a risk; I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to look back later in life and regret not giving it a try. So, I signed up.
It wasn’t an awful experience. It was exciting to meet someone new and see where it might lead, but I honestly learned more about myself than through my connections with my ‘matches.’ This was an unexpected result, for which I am grateful. My experiences saw three categories of guys: those I reached out to, but who didn’t reach back; those who needed an instantaneous connection with me and wanted to hear wedding bells within the first few dates; and those who were so socially awkward, I was embarrassed for them. I will say that with one guy in particular, I caught a glimpse of how I want to be treated in a relationship; how I should be treated. To be the one who’s chased, and not the other way around. It felt good. It made me feel special and wanted.
Even still, I had total peace about clicking the ‘cancel membership’ button. It was without a doubt the right decision for me at this time. I can define the reason why in one word – – authenticity. Online dating lacks the authenticity I desire. It feels so forced. I have no idea who these guys are. We don’t have any mutual friends; we weren’t friends first; we didn’t see each other from across a room or share a smile or conversation that drew us to each other. We are complete strangers who are brought together because a computer thinks we’re compatible. I just don’t think it’s for me.
Maybe I’m analyzing this to death. It really is just a way of meeting new people. I can choose to be as involved as I want to be. I can make it what I want. But, the time I spent trying these guys out was precious time taken away from the already-strong relationships in my life. Do I really want it THAT bad? Do I want to feel like I am consistently on the hunt for that perfect guy? I honestly don’t think I do. I want it to be an authentic experience. I want to be friends with a guy and then fall in love. I want it to feel natural and not feel like a dating service is in control of setting expectations for what it should look like. So, even though I bawled like a baby after clicking the ‘cancel’ button, I felt relief at the same time. I was sad that the journey did not produce the results I was hoping for, but I gained a deeper understanding of who I am and where my priorities lie. For now, I’m done with that time-consuming process, but not done with being open to finding love.
So, this summer, I’m focusing on those in my life who I already love and care for so much. Pool time, bike rides, coffee talk, dinner, movies with my favorite peeps. Giving up online dating is not a forever decision; just a right now decision. For now, I know that being present with my friends and family is what I need. That’s me being authentic, and it feels right.