Hello, Summer…

It has been ages since I’ve sat down and really focussed on an intentional post within this space, so I’m just going to pretend we’re in the middle of an exchange, okay?

Sure, summer is technically 20+ days away, but we who live within the confines of an Americanized calendar operate under the summer system of Memorial Day to Labor Day, and truthfully I’m a fan of this practice. The bright blue sky outside hardly screams SPRING, and with my freshly summer pedicured toes red and ready for sandy beaches and flip flops- I am more than happy to stand up and say what we’re all thinking: Helloooo, Summer!

For the 4000 Jurassic years that I have existed within adulthood, (for the Ross Gellar’s out there pointing out the flaws in my wording, I’m pretty sure you caught my drift so, as far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished! XO) I  have had specific practices that summertime has held:

Fresh squeezed lemonaide, BBQs with friends/family, swimming, my grandma’s cobbler, warm jars of sun tea, red toenails, fireflies, long summer evenings the highest SPF of sunscreen allowed (I’m irish, after all), drive in movies and dreaming of real beach time- these made up the bulk of said summer lists…

As summer draws near, in between adulthood stresses of work and life, I have been plotting my summer reading plans. We have gotten our sunroom all ready and have been enjoying early morning cups of coffee, fresh fruit snacks and conversation in its breezes. The smell of fresh cut grass wafts through my window screens and there are cubes of cold watermelon in my fridge. Our summer plans are casual, yet carved out. (these may or may not read like this: grilled tacos, beach, grilled fajitas, beach, margaritas on the patio, hiking, beach, farmers market, beach, drive in movies, tacos, tacos, tacos…)

The really fun thing about our new home, and this being our first summer here, is that it is a SUMMER DESTINATION. Life amps up and, from what we can tell, the party gets started right about now, and wraps up around snowfall. Friends have told us all about all of the “musts”, and we are ready!

The not-so-fun, but still kinda-fun thing about our new home is that while we live at a truly beautiful beach, it isn’t the ocean. I know my heart will still long for a true sea coast, but also, I’m feeling really blessed to have this beach too.

in ALL of my adult summers, I have spent weekends at the Farmer’s Market and kept beautiful, fresh flowers in my home. Whatever we may, or may not have taken on that summer, these two things were SOLID. This is where the truly odd thing about our new home comes in-

NO FARMER’S MARKETS

NO FRESH CUT FLOWERS

Sure, re: the later, grocery stores have some. Honestly though, it’s the worst selection I’ve ever seen and they are 3-4 times the normal price. Re: the first absense- what the actual heck? Truthfully, I cannot wrap my brain around it. We are surrounded by farms. SURROUNDED. Word on the street (iow: the World Wide Web) is that there is a decent market about 90 minutes away. NINETY MINUTES. (While my heart wants to take a moment to whine about my grandma’s cobbler recipe, our summer-staple homemade ice creams, and my end of summer (most delicious ever) jam, the reality is our grocery stores do an amazing job of stocking local, organic produce. While it’s a bit spendier than the average Farmer’s Market, I am still really grateful for this so I simply can’t actually complain about it.) I just really love the experience of the market, with the community, farmers and artisans coming together… (plus then our local taco truck could set up somewhere other than a pub or brewery…)

For all the terribleness of these two things, I’ve still mustered up excitement at summer in our new city. There are a few road trips planned, lots of adventure and exploring, and both my patio & sunroom are prepared to be well lived/loved… Probably (tragically) my house is going to stay fairly flowerless, with my treasured Kate Spade vase feeling alone- but my toes plan on being sandy and my taco-loving-tummy happy, so it feels like a win for me.

What do you love about summer? Where are your favorite places to summer?

The darkness and the spice…

Some months really have the effect of reflecting back over their days and feeling like they themselves lasted a year. This month has been one of those...

Like many, I began the month with goals and plans. I set off January pretty proactively, despite still feeling under the weather. While there were things I put off until I felt better, for the most part I forged forward. One of the lessons that this month held for me what that I am not guaranteed to feel better, no matter how many “right things” I do to ensure it. (thanks, January! You’re a pal.) My list, written in terrible script on my kitchen chalkboard, looked like this…

  • get set up with a trainer and ready to get back into a fitness center routine.
  • reorganize my spice storage.
  • jump back in to The Collective podcast stuff, after a couple of months off.
  • make progress writing on my memoir.
  • learn to do something new.
  • make a pot of homemade soup and a loaf of scratch, crusty bread.
  • establish a weekly evening tradition.
  • continue adjusting to my husband’s non-traveling schedule.

Oh, friends…

Ohhhh, friends…

I could write it a third time, but I still feel like it wouldn’t be enough. There are so many quippy things that one can say about “best laid plans”.

  • I DID! (even feeling crappy!) And it was great, until said trainer had me do an exercise that I felt strongly I should not do. I pulled a muscle, caused major stress to my (bad, seemingly 80-year-old) hip. Good times…
  • I’m sure you’ve seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. While this was already a (desperately needed) goal, her show made me come face to face with the realization that how I had my tiny little cottage kitchen set up was NOT working. I was avoiding it because I felt helpless about how to fix it. Too much stuff/too little space, but try as we might, C and I could not get rid of anything else. We’d downsized so significantly and what remained was essential. It was a bleak 10 day attack. Stress and frustration became my new kitchen decor theme, (shout out to any of you 90’s young homemakers and the need to have a “theme”) and my husband began scripting funny comedy sessions about the ever evolving state of the kitchen. I insta-storied my low moments… It was truly, truly bad. But guess what? My spices are the best their going to get and the entire kitchen really is MUCH better.
  • done and done! We trouble shot some technical things, I connected with other podcasters. We started a Patreon and are REALLY excited about what’s down the road!
  • I did. Not as much as I’d hoped, but I am really proud of what I did put to paper.
  • FAIL. EPIC FAIL.
  • Done. Winter and soup are really the perfect couple. Well, and fresh, crusty bread plays a part, so I guess perhaps the perfect thruple?
  • For the month of January we settled on Fridays and began the routine of unplugging, grabbing carry-out for dinner and renting a movie. We LOVED it… Will it continue? I think so, at least on the Fridays we can.
  • You would be surprised how actually difficult this is…

So, there you go… a little account of my significantly flawed person, in this odd little month.

My truly biggest January lesson/revelation was that while I felt significantly depressed pretty often, I wasn’t alone. I would utter those words to a friend, and hear an emphatic agreement that they too were feeling depressed. This happened several times, and I was surprised, comforted and a little less heavy with each occurrence. It is a little ironic that the very idea of being bravely transparent and then accepting that you aren’t alone is the premise behind my podcast and yet, here I am going WOW! This REALLY works!

This month I read several books, but the book that I really connected with the most was In Pieces, by Sally Field. Truly raw and transparent pages chronicling not only the highest and the darkest moments of her life, but also her own flawed perceptions and reactions. Never soapboxing, Sally simply shares her truths. It was a brave undertaking, and it resonates.

A few things that I unexpectedly fell a little in love with, this month, were the American version of The Masked Singer on Fox, (I am actually pretty good at guessing, and their masks did NOT give me the nightmares I feared, so this is a win!); the film Juliet, Naked, (which I really, really loved and did not expect to even like it!) and this recipe for sheet pan shrimp fajitas. (I thought it would be ok, but we both loved it so much! It was so easy and so delicious!)

The only thing that didn’t really work this month, (other than my continued pursuit of cold medicine, and my waste-of-time new (now ex) physician) was that, in an effort to connect with other women locally, I bought a ticket for a ridiculous book club. The price seemed so extreme ($29) but the original description had made it seem like it came with the book, tapas & beverages at the venue (wine and craft coffee beverages) and so I thought it was worth a try. I received the book in the mail, (not a super great book and seriously the length of a pamphlet) and a little note talking about the food and beverages costing extra. I emailed the organizer to clarify my confusion and it was true, the ticket price simply included the book and (her words) the privilege of coming. Hmmm.

Wasted my time reading the book, wasted my money and decided I simply didn’t want to go waste my time at the actual meeting so I skipped it. You win some, you lose some. This was a definite lose…

How did your January play out? Did it pair nicely with your own goals?

What were your bests? (and equally important, was there something you tried that simply did not work?)

Faithfully…

It is absolutely acceptable for the Journey song to be running through your mind right now.

Seriously, I get it. It’s a catchy tune and totally applicable. (well, minus the rockstar/long distance relationship stuff.)

Hello, 2019! I can’t even believe it, while also, I 100% can. On one hand, what they say is so true- the older we get, time just goes by so quickly. I understand the science of it, and why that is true. On the other hand though, I feel like the start of 2018 was a lifetime ago. Life… It’s a funny thing.

If you’re around on instagram then you probably saw that my Word of the Year is Faith. The response to this was cautiously supportive. I got a  lot of direct messages that questioned if I have lost my way with Jesus, while others hesitantly asked if I was going to become all churchy in everything I shared… The answer to both us a resounding NO. Doing great with Jesus, thanks for asking, and I can’t imagine (honestly) that much would change regarding what I share anywhere online. (except for the continued goal of being more attentive to this website)

Here’s the thing…

Choosing a word is a very personal process. I’ve shared briefly about the very personal (and often excruciating) chapters, in my life journey, and how they pertain to my yearly words. With each and every word, my personal faith and walk with God has always been affected. (The process us all-encompassing, I don’t think there is an area of my life that has not been affected.) The same goes for this year… While my faith will undoubtedly have a large role in this particular chapter, my word is FAITH, not ‘my faith’.

Faith is the opposite of doubt, the opposite of fear. Faith is synonymous with trust.  Faith is so many, many, many things. Faith is the direction that my life is going, and the area which I need to work on. Faith pertains to my relationships, my health, my mental/emotional clarity, my writing, my finances, my goals, my passions/projects, my work and of course Jesus.

I have a novel of personal goals to work on throughout the year, as I do every year. A handful of these are:

  • finish writing my book.
  • submit a book proposal.
  • take in more sunrises.
  • take the intentional time to cook more and get back to paying attention to what goes into my body.
  • celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary.
  • see some really great concerts/shows.
  • reacquaint myself with learning.
  • embrace (more fervently) sacred activities such as practice, fitness, conversation, prayer, reading, tea drinking and skin care.
  • free creativity.
  • read more/watch less.

By now it is possible that the Journey song has faded and new thoughts have crowded your mind, which is perfect timing because a modestly busy day looms. I look forward to traveling this chapter of life along side of you, and hearing where your journey is taking you…

I’ll show you my brave…

www.rainydayinmay.com

Brave to you will likely look very different then it does to me…

I was recently challenged to consider the bravest thing I have done. I thought, instead, of all of the courage and bravery I have seen in the people I know and love. I have friends who have literally chased down muggers/assailants. I have law enforcement friends. I have inner-city-teacher friends. I know several people who travel the world, adventuring into unknown and remote locations… (I recently read a story about an Anaconda, in the Amazon, that stalked someone in the water. It STALKED them. Snakes are in the wild, unknown and remote locations. This is a problem for me.)

My sister Joy lives in a beautiful home in south-eastern New Mexico. (she also has snakes who stalk and intrude on her life) My son is a soldier, as are so many friends. I know a beautiful soul who is a surrogate. The list goes on and on. I see bravery demonstrated so regularly and, when I look at myself, I feel like there is no comparison.

And therein lies the issue. There IS no comparison. My brave won’t look like yours. While it may have been brave for me to fight for my marriage and stand by my husband after infidelity and betrayal, it may be brave for another woman to walk away from a similar situation… And that is the thing about courage- no one else gets to decide it. A soldier, in and of itself, does not make them brave. A soldier who is willing to protect us and fight for what is right, even if it costs him his life- THAT is the brave part. Courage and selflessness in the face of danger is their brave. We can define ourselves a thousand ways, but brave will never be located in the title.

My brave can be found in my pursuit of motherhood long after I lost my uterus. I was shattered, but did not give up.

My brave can be seen within the moves I’ve made, the jobs I’ve taken.

My brave is there, beyond my comfort zone. In the once-awkward situations, the stranger-conversations, the elements of life just beyond my natural limit. I have grown to push myself there, into that place. Sometimes it is downright nauseating.

My brave is rooted deep, in my writing. To be authentic, raw and displayed does not come naturally, but it is the only way that it feels right.

My brave may have been born the day that I realized it was up to me to stop the patterns of sexual abuse that were happening within my childhood. There was no shame, only a concrete knowledge that the more  people I told, the less likely it was to happen again.

I told everyone.

It never happened again.

Perhaps the most ironic part of each one of those things though, is that they never felt brave. They often felt woven with elements of worry, anxiety and more than a healthy sprinkling of fear. Second guessing was my second nature during the seasons that, upon reflection, reveal themselves as brave. Bravery often makes me feel like I need to throw up, pass out, curl up in my bed and hide… The list goes on and on, but never have I though Woah! Now that, Misty, that was one mighty fine act of bravery! And it’s pretty unfair for me to hold myself to another soul’s standard of bravery before I’m willing to label it is as such.

Maybe you scale rocky mountainside’s for fun, eat nails for breakfast and only date psycho clowns- if so, my list probably seems pretty mild to you. (I’d also like to point out that two of those three things aren’t brave, they are reckless and that’s not actually always a fine line. Sometimes it is a gigantic 8-lane interstate.)

I don’t know when I’m brave, always.

I am pretty sure I could sit here and list out the ten-thousand ways I have felt and acted the opposite, just this month.

I’m working on accepting my brave for what it is. I’m learning I don’t need my neighbor, brother, husband or friend to call it brave, for it to be. Most importantly though, I know to my core that I need the brave list to be growing longer, by the day, while the other list grows smaller and smaller…

So that’s my plan.

(Minus any and all snakes, anyway.)

What has your brave looked like?

 

The one with the Do’s and Do Not’s…

I used to wake up, before the sun, every morning. I would make breakfast for my husband and get him out the door. I would write until it was time to wake my youngest. Before any of those things happened, I had made my bed, gone through my diligent face care routine and dressed in real (non-pajama) clothes. She had a home cooked breakfast, every morning, and then we homeschooled.

I was not a coffee drinker.

I managed to write an entire novel this way, make a decent income as a blogger and worked as both a freelance film critic and consultant for Random House. At some point, in 2010, I decided I needed more on my plate, so I turned my passionate hobby of photography into a small business.

Allow me to pause here, for just a minute, to advise you against taking something you creatively love and making it a business. This does seem to work out for some, but for so many of us it only leads to disaster… My DSLR is hardly ever on these days, and after two years of taking orders from people who did not care what my focus or vision was, I closed the doors on that endeavor. There was also the fact that I was tired, my writing was suffering and I was joining the masses as an exhausted/uninspired blogger…

It will probably always come back to this blog.

It’s not surprising that when one pulls away from consistent blogging, allowing months to pass between half-hearted attempts at posts, their audience gravitates elsewhere. Social media and the miracle of micro-blogging was not a thing yet. Somehow I kept this little space of the internet there, at bay, for the someday to come. The someday when I would feel inspired and suddenly once again share everything through the lens of an observer.

The thing is, that day will never come.

Just like sitting on three completed novels, a hundred personal essays and poetry pieces does not a published author make. While I know that several of those projects are nowhere near publishable, it annoys me to wake up at 42 and wonder what I was thinking? I kept my life at bay, waiting for that day when I’d be an agent represented, published author. How I would ever get from point A to G without accomplishing B, C, D, E, & F, I never seemed to consider. It would just happen, wouldn’t it? No. “If you write it, they will read it…” “If it’s meant to be, it will be…” *Insert other stupid nonsense, we put our faith in because we need something to believe in and that might be less vulnerable than actually going after it, here…*

When my youngest left the nest, I knew the season of pursuit was upon me. I knew that the running list of things I used to do, would be mine again-

  • I would blog.
  • I would find an agent.
  • I would publish my book.
  • I would begin a podcast.
  • I would have this amazing army of a support system around me.
  • I would master time management, beginning with a sacred morning quiet time, which would fill my soul with infinite peace…
  • I would read so many books.

The good news is that I did manage to start a podcast, and I really love the experience. It has been like nothing I ever could have imagined, in my wildest dreams. The truth is though, the podcast wasn’t ever meant to be the focus or the most important part. (Someone asked me the other day how I felt podcasting and writing went hand in hand. I couldn’t answer. The truth is, they don’t. Both support my heart, my vision/what I believe is my purpose, but that is the only real connection.)

The rest though, minus point five, is on me. My time management is far from mastered. No longer having kids at home, it is beyond me how I can not manage to find time to do these things. How many times did I say:

When school is out for summer I will…

When Gen graduates I will…

After we move, I will…

Just let me get through the holidays and then I will… 

Because, in some dysfunctional way I believed time would magically appear, but it doesn’t. Time to write, time to sit quietly to connect/pray/reflect, time to work out, time to… IT DOES NOT *POOF* into existence. We adapt and fill those spaces once filled by other things, with new things. Because the habits didn’t already exist, they don’t fall in line.

I have felt so much insurmountable disappointment in all of this. I half heartedly throw a post up and only a couple dozen people may read it. Defeat. I take part in a few linkups in an effort to connect with readers and grow an audience (again), but see little to no traffic increase. Defeat. I start the year off with a simple, lovely little devotional and open it yesterday morning to see five weeks have passed since my last check in with that sweet little book. Defeat. I catch a glimpse of my TBR pile. DEFEAT…

And, to be honest, I find myself incredibly hurt and disappointed by the lack of support in the people I love more than life itself. Which, is ok. It is ok to be hurt when it seems like others should care. HOWEVER, out of an entire list of things bearing my frustration and disappointment, that is the one point I cannot do anything about. Instead of allowing that to debilitate me further, I need to just get up, dust myself off and DO ALL OF THE THINGS. Period.

Instead, I stay stuck, and we all know that defeat and disappointment feel terrible.

I have lived silently within the dimension of my growing frustration at these things. With each passing day, I have felt worse, but did little to change a thing. Then I became a part of a conversation with others. Other women, women I respect and admire, who are living an almost identical chapter. What?!?!?! Something magical happened though, when this conversation began…

I was able to start addressing these things, one little bit at a time. I am still chipping away and maybe that will sum up the next ten years of my life. That’s ok too. I’ll get there and it WILL be worth it.

This early Wednesday morning I do not have time management mastered, but I am managing to use my time better. I am realizing my mistakes within the dream world of overwhelm.

I am doing something, and so at least there is that.