Settling in

The past 4 years of intense focus on my program has taken it out of my. I woke up one day after graduation and felt like my bones were tired. My soul craved connection and mindless existence. My head was desperate for a break, and the more primitive parts of me felt utterly neglected.

I often told Josh during school that the only thing I wanted in life was a weekend of silence, by myself, in the woods. To turn off my brain and be reminded of who I was-books and lectures and group projects aside.

While I did not anticipate finding a job would take this long, the last couple months have been an unbelievable blessing. It’s been a time of deep connection with the people I love, quiet reflection, walks to the park with Henry, hour-long phone calls with long-distant friends, and slow mornings with a cup of coffee. I certainly count myself spectacularly fortunate to be afforded things like “self care” and though I feel undeserving, I am so so grateful for this season.

Josh and I took our first little trip out to West Texas to Big Bend National Park as part of my disengagement therapy. We stayed in a super off-the-grid adobe hut built by the guy who rented it out to us. Henry came with us and it felt like such a perfect weekend in the desert laying low with my 2 favorites to be around.

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Perhaps it was for eggs, perhaps it was in protest to taking anymore long trips in the coming months and settling down, perhaps it was for the companionship…in whichever case, we also got some chickens. Princess Beyonce and Nasty Woman are now part of the family, happily pecking around in the backyard while Henry anxiously looks on through the kitchen window. We call it his “chicken TV”. Nothing has made me more at peace or happier lately than putzing around the backyard, cleaning out the coop, throwing Henry’s ball for the millionth time, turning the compost pile, raking up the leaves…The little moments that add up to such contentment. Getting to invest in my own space and having autonomy over how I spend my time and energy. I know better than to take those for granted after the years of hustle I just finished.

I am so happy with the speed of our life at the moment, the things we are dreaming up for our future now that school is out of the way, and for the life we have built in a place we adore. I did end up finding a part-time COTA job, and began treating patients this past week. It’s going to be a long time before I feel completely confident in the job I am doing, but I’m learning to be okay with that and trust the process. We won’t be traveling for the holidays because of my work schedule, so things certainly won’t be speeding up anytime soon. And I am not upset at the thought of more days ahead with my chickens, a good book, and plenty of space to settle into this weird new season of life. There is so much goodness in the ordinary days.

 

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Hi. I hate all of this too.

Everyone has their two cents about this election, so now that it is over, here are mine. They aren’t comprehensive or meant to begin an argument about Hillary Clinton’s emails (much to the chagrin of all the people who left us with this Trump situation). These are feelings. Undeniable, not going away feelings that can’t be argued out of existence.

This is a deeply personal post I didn’t want to have to write, but the longer I sit with these things the more compelled I am to share. The events of the past few months have hit me hard. Harder than I ever thought a dumb political race ever could.

Before going any further, I’d like to give a little context: For 3 years I have been doing some hard work on myself. As a 28 year old recovering deep south baptist I have been slowly, steadily unearthing deep wounds within myself I was previously oblivious to.

Buried deep in my subconscious were some pretty disgusting things. As it turns out, I really didn’t consider my own worth to be equal with men. I didn’t think I was capable of contributing value to society. I never once allowed myself to hope for a future in which my worth was not measured in either smooth skin and hair or how clean a house I keep for my husband. The message instilled in me from well-intentioned elders was that my calling came in the form of marriage and child-bearing (only one of which I have attained so far in life). Which means to many, I am only half-way to wholeness and fulfilling my ideal societal role.

I grew up with subtle (and not-so subtle) hints that I should be flattered by grown men smiling at me in a way that made me uncomfortable. Pastors would boast about their “hot” wives, while I brought home failing grades in school, not seeing the point of trying if hot wife was all I could hope to become. I was a cheerleader to please others, not understanding why it resulted in so much self-loathing.  It took me a decade to look at these wounds and begin to unravel the messy, tangled narrative of my youth.

Once you get a glimpse of injustice, I don’t think there is any going back. I began to see my story in a different light. For the first time in years I thought of that boy who kissed me in my parent’s basement when I was 14 as I tried to pull away but couldn’t. It felt terrible and made me ill for a week, but the belief that shone through that experience was that my body to belonged to men. To look at, to touch, to marry and talk about from a pulpit. I had more shame for wanting to pull away from that boy that afternoon than I did for hiding the incident from everyone who loved me.

I’m not pretending my story is unique. Every woman knows what it feels like to be looked at in that particular way, talked down to, thought less of, expected little from. What is different now, though, is this feeling that the work I have done in myself-work I know God has walked closely with me in accomplishing.

I’m weary from the years I have spent letting God rip open the places I had kept Him from for so long.

So yeah, it did mean something to me to see a woman rise and conquer and debate like a boss and stand tall and take every hit without flinching. No matter what anyone thinks of her, it is allowed to mean something to me that Hillary Clinton is a woman. It would be ridiculous for me to reiterate to the world yet again the attitude Donald Trump holds toward women and girls. It is undeniable and destructive to every ounce of self-worth I have strived to muster the past 3 years.

Of course, feeling the pangs of set-back in attaining gender equality is only one cause for grief.

I have cried a lot these past 24 hours. There are so many layers to be sad about. I cried thinking about my friends of color who have shared they are more afraid than ever to leave their homes. I have cried thinking of my 5 year old niece and the fragility of the inner voice she is developing.  I cried for my immigrant friends who now believe most of their beloved country doesn’t want them here. I cried for how much despair I feel around bringing children into this world where hate is ushered into the position of utmost power. I cried for the imminent destruction of our planet in the next few lifetimes when those at the top reject measures for protection. For my best friend’s 6 month old with special needs who will have no healthcare. I cried when told again and again by the members of Christ’s body that my grief is unwarranted and petty. I’m having to face the reality of  a questionable future for not only women and minorities, but also my brand new healthcare career. It is all too much.

In August I finished a 4 year long journey to dedicate my career to empowering people with disabilities, naively believing that we as society value those lives and desire a better world for them to live in. The person we just elected publicly demonstrated his conflicting belief by mocking the movements of one of those individuals in front of millions.

So yeah. I’m angry and afraid and undone. I will be for quite some time. It feels too personal, too much a slap in the face not to be.

I am not yet at a place to hold hands and sing songs and rally the troops. A hope in me that women could emerge from this election with their dignity in tact has withered away. My hope that the voices against muslim and hispanic people was just a few loud and obnoxious individuals, not an entire army, has been shattered.

I share this grief as an extension of a hope for understanding. I can see a tiny slimmer of hope for a future where healthy dialogue is born and movements for mutual respect happen, but not until the grieving process is thoroughly employed.

Those of us with heartbreak and white skin have work to do in leveraging our position in this society to give a louder voice to those on the margins. I personally will have to fight harder within myself to protect my own voice I have worked so hard to develop. This will be a long, hard road. Let’s walk it with strength, unapologetically demanding equality, and being a nation of people who believe we can move past a history of violence and oppression. I am going to work hard in the coming weeks to re-ignite that belief.

Until then, I am grateful for hot tea, cuddling with my dog, long walks with people who value my life and story, and a community of people who believe diversity is sacred, not defective.  Is there hope? I’m honestly not sure. But for now, there is tea.