inspired by sweatpants and coffee breath.

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My goal for 2018 was to write once per month for this little space. It didn’t have to be perfect, it didn’t have to mean anything, but I wanted to stay faithful to a thing on a consistent basis.

Did I make a plan to accomplish this? Absolutely not. Which is how I found myself at 9pm on May 31st scrolling through the Ghosts of Google Doc’s past looking for a semi-finished thought to quickly edit & share here. And — no surprise here — everything sucked.

Granted, I’ve been writing a lot for other projects which is just the best. But if I don’t create space to write for myself then it won’t happen. Because I romanticize the writing process: sitting in a coffee shop and stringing together pretty words as they come to me on a caffeine-induced whim pretending I’m Meg Ryan in her 90’s RomCom prime. It’s all based on the idea of being a “writer” than the struggle of sitting my butt down and writing so many crappy first drafts it makes me question why I like doing this in the first place.

The writing process looks less shiny and more like humbling yourself with your sweatpants and coffee breath, typing the goal of 500 words per day. You end up re-reading what you wrote and realize how much it sucks. This makes me remind myself that I actually have no talent whatsoever, so I might as well give up and make more coffee to soothe me then quit for the day by taking a nap and reading a book. The next day I wake up, re-read the previous day’s work, notice that it isn’t completely terrible, and wash, rinse, repeat.

So here’s what I learned tonight: goals are great. Creating habits to meet those goals is even better. I knew the day would come when I had to create a writing routine. I promise next month will be inspired by sweatpants, stale coffee, and my own self-loathing/doubting tendencies.

But for now, here’s the best I could come up…

A Lazy Listicle of Things That I Know to be Absolutely True

1. Boundaries are love.
2. Bangs are most likely not a good idea.*
3. Honesty is the best policy.
4. The Office truly is the greatest show of all time ever.
5. Your time is limited. It’s okay to guard it for the things that matter most to you.
6. It’s okay not to be everyone’s best friend, but you do have to be kind.
7. Dry shampoo changes the game.
8. Always remove your make up.
9. Say “thank you”. And stop saying “sorry” so much.
10. Do everything in your power to show up for your people.
11. Read non-fiction and fiction. Just read in general.
12. Life is hard, but it’s less hard when you can laugh easily.
13. Like what you like and don’t give a damn if that’s not cool.
14. Trust your gut feeling.
15. You are already more capable than you think.
16. Stay curious. Ask questions.
17. Put your phone away. At weddings, at dinner, at concerts… just put it away.
18. Always have ice cream in your freezer and a bottle of wine on hand.
19. When you stop trying to be seen, you end up being more fully known.
20. Drink water.
21. The best time to see a movie alone is at 1pm.
22. Make sure you move a little every day.
23. Call your mom.
24. Breathe prayer.
25. Follow the Photo Booth Rule.**
*I said MOST LIKELY. Shoutout to all of my fringe-rocking friends who are chic and way more hip than I’ll ever be.
**When you see a Photo Booth, you have to take a picture in it.
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my car insurance broke up with me.

a story about why what you call yourself matters

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My own mother likes to gently remind me that I am good at many things, so I need to hold close the things I am terrible at. This is so I will stay humble and actually have friends who want to spend time with me. Good moms do that. They slip in subtle criticism next to a reminder that they think you are the most special, amazing human being that ever existed ever in order to preserve your self-esteem and have their own contingency plan in place for the amount of issues you will likely bring up in counseling years later. I hope to be exactly like her one day.

It is with this advice in mind that I have become a great passenger. I know how to AUX-cord-DJ for the specific company in the car, I always bring snacks, I can talk about anything in order to stay awake with the brave driver on long road trips, all because I loathe driving. Lucky for me, driving dislikes me almost as much as I hate it.

For years I’ve been in denial, telling myself that I am a good driver but I just don’t like driving. Because I should love driving! It means freedom: it’s a major rite of passage to turn 16 and get your driver’s license. And I didn’t even fail the test my first time! Therefore I must be a great driver. And then one month ago this little narrative was shattered by a seemingly harmless piece of junk mail.

My car insurance sent me a Dear John letter effectively ending our nearly 10 year relationship. It started off sweet by thanking me for my years of commitment but it took a turn when I noticed the kind introduction was soon followed by a list of “incidents” that have occurred over the past three years. When you lay them all out, it really does look like a rap sheet straight out of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road that all points to one truth: I am a terrible driver.

But I should be a good driver. I drive more often than most for my job, I’m a relatively safe driver (despite my extensive list of offenses, the majority were very minor) and, most importantly, I’ve told myself that I am a good driver for years. I wonder if I didn’t live in a society that says freedom is having a driver’s license and a car if I would even have discovered this part of me wasn’t true? Or what if I took public transportation my whole life, would being a bad driver even define me if I never experienced it?

That letter helped me piece together a little more of my identity: I am Emily, a really bad driver.


It has recently come to my attention that the way I refer to myself when I first met people is not actually the way I move through the world. In the past, I used terms like “awkward” or “embarrassing” or to self-describe personality quirks in social situations. Which everyone does. People can laugh and deal with awkward. It’s the selfishness, fear, and pride I want to distract them from noticing.

Maybe you can relate. If I can get ahead of the flaws, then it would keep the world from being disappointed in my other very real and very not-so-desirable character traits. People like us, we put all of our junk right out in the open so that when we inevitably mess up in front of others we can say, “See?! I told you when we met — I’m the worst. This shouldn’t surprise you. You can’t be disappointed because I already gave you the heads up that I’m imperfect and WILL let you down because this is who I am.”

This is two gross realities wrapped up in one broken-identity burrito: (1) these words are a self-fulfilling prophecy and (2) they just highlight how much of a fraud you’re making yourself. You do what you say you are, and if you aren’t what you’ve been telling people then you also have the difficult task of keeping up appearances or risk being exposed.

If you want to avoid accountability and rejection, you quickly learn how to operate based on the rules learned in middle school on the bus, at home, in church, on a team. For me, this looked like having the personality version of a classic 2000’s throwback playlist – a definite crowd pleaser in the churchy circles I ran in, but when you listened too closely the lyrics they never quite match up with what you believe. I experienced acceptance and success when I was told I should self-identify as the type-A, perpetually positive achiever to feel like I had a place in the communities I called home .

No matter how many times I told myself that being this kind of “leader” was a good thing, this wasn’t the identity that should define my life. It got tiring always having to pretend that I like being in front of people and making decisions. That’s normally the last thing I want to do. That stage held up by the label “leader” fueled my pride and being seen made me want to tell lies to make sure people liked me. Just because I should be a leader and that should be good doesn’t mean that it was what should define me.

It is a beautiful, hard, never-ending process of getting to know yourself apart from the experiences that have told you who you should be.

After my fraudulent identity was exposed last year, I learned how sorry these attempts to be accepted were. Belonging requires you to be yourself. Not some version I think will gain the most amount of admirers, not the version I tell myself I am because I get a front row seat into my own cynicism, but the realest of the real version of me. Uncut, live, on the couch watching Golden Girls, and likely going on my 4th day of unwashed hair.  The person who aims to please no one but her ever-present, unseen Jesus friend. The one whose name was whispered by an unseen, unfamiliar God way back in 2009 when I was still operating under the label of “nice, responsible girl” by day and “bitter, angsty, know-it-all” by night.

I love that this is the way God gets his kid’s attention. He called their names: Abraham, Jacob, Martha, myself. I love that God shares his name with us and that name is self-descriptive. Did you know that? What God calls himself is exactly who he is. He doesn’t bait and switch to get us to like him. He is unapologetically, totally God and I think that’s one of the biggest privileges of being in relationship with anyone – loving them exactly as who the were made to be. Might as well start with yourself.

I spent time trying on words like “follower” and “dreamer” and “good” and many more this year.

One of the different names I’ve tried on this year is “creative”. I’ve never seen myself as creative, which is wild considering this little blogosphere exists and I suppose that’s creative enough. But I do have a creative energy that needs air to make me feel more like me. The more time and energy I devote to making something – a meal, cutting a pair of thrift shop denim jeans to a length I like, writing copy for a marketing project – the more I can breathe easy. My sleep comes out of a day’s satisfaction instead of exhaustion. So I’m Emily, and I’m a creative.

What you call yourself matters because you become what you say you are. And the names that seemed forever like tattoos were just temporary. You belong. You were always invited into the party, but you have to be honest about what name is on the list.

I’m Emily.

mind the gap.

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Wanderlust isn’t my thing.

Never have I ever felt the urgency to purchase plane tickets to a foreign country because the thought of planning a trip abroad brings me severe anxiety rather than joy. I wouldn’t self-identify as a “traveller” (although my airport routine is a tried and true science because your girl doesn’t want to bear the shame of holding up the security line). I don’t have a bucket list of places I would like to visit before I die, because truthfully I could die tomorrow having never visited any of those places and I would think that my fully restored self is more preoccupied with the fact that I could see like 8,000 more colors or something and resurrected Jesus is handing me a cup of water-wine rather than spending eternity regretting the places I hadn’t seen on Earth.

But when I turned 18 years old I got my passport. Not because I was going anywhere but because I wanted the ability to go everywhere. Collecting all of the freedoms offered to you is a thrilling thing to realize as a young adult. Especially for a cautious girl who used to like to get close enough to her fears to feel the heat of them but never actually do anything about them.  

My passport’s most recent tattoo is from London, where a friend and I met to play tourist for a week. Honestly if you travel for no other reason than just to experience life with a friend you enjoy, then that’s a good enough reason to buy a ticket.

We spent most of our days exploring the city via the London Underground, which if you’ve never heard of it is basically London’s subway system. If you have heard of it, then you’ll recognize the saying “Mind the Gap.” It’s a very George Orwell 1984-ish intercom reminder that there is a small space between where the tube loads and the edge of the platform. If you’re not aware of it, then you could fall to your inevitable death or dismemberment. “Mind the Gap” is the perfect blend of a logical, safety reminder with dark, British humor. Most people probably disregard this announcement as background noise and common sense.

The things that are repeated, normalized, and routine are when I feel closest to God. It’s a liturgy of the everyday. Things like my morning alarm or making the same breakfast or hearing “Mind the Gap” over and over again for a week straight somehow are written in all-caps to make me notice them. It’s these things that make me want to bring them to you.

Sure. On this trip I danced in front of the Tower of London, felt things in the Tate Modern, strolled through Notting Hill just like in my favorite movies, embarrassed myself in the best way at local pubs, and tasted the stars in a bottle of prosecco but what I’m taking with me from this place is to mind the gap.

You could stay on the platform all of your life if you mind it too much. The Gap could control you. Its constant reminder of your own mortality could paralyze you into never leaving home ever again. Fear is my most familiar feeling and they say that the only thing that kicks it to the curb is perfect love. Love is a verb. You can’t love if you don’t step out and move. So mind the gap but realize that there are things that matter more than your own fears.

And then again, not paying attention to where your feet are could be the end of you. You could seriously injure or damage yourself or other people with your own recklessness getting to where YOU need to be. So mind the gap because love looks around.

“The mere exercise of attention – eyes wide, ears pricked, heart open – is not a bad way to move through the world.” // Mary Karr

Eyes wide. Ears pricked. Heart open. More human and more whole.

take what you need.

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The “un’s” in life shake up a feeler like me. What is the main source of the “un’s” you ask? That’s a great question. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

New seasons. Change. Being hungry. Too much routine. Politics. Lack of control. Lack of freedom. Dreams. Injustice. A good movie. New opportunities. Things ending. Naps.

So basically anything.

Without fail, every January I’m faced with a new set of “un’s” and a whole lot of processing. Uncertainty and unpredictability and unknown and eat me up on the inside until they steal my words and my focus. I can’t quite get my footing and when I finally do, it takes some time to stomp my way back to stable to get a hang of living in this new year. The “un’s” can make their way down into my guts and become part of me if I don’t get ahead of them. Luckily I’ve developed a fool proof prevention system with a visit to my local Target.

Some people sit in a quiet room and journal. Some go for a hike and marvel at creation or whatever. I walk every aisle in Target with my Cartwheel app ready to go and save me 30%. It’s the Christian thing to do.

So about a week ago after chasing my turtles all the way down I grabbed my keys and went to Target to wander. There’s something about it’s familiar layout and clean aesthetic that help me to separate my voice from God’s, as if in the Dollar Section I’ll find all of my insecurities piled onto each other but once I get to Aisle 17 truth and wisdom are expertly merchandised and waiting for me to take home.

If you don’t believe in a god then the idea of hearing from one is probably super weird. And even if you do believe in God, then the idea is still super weird because how many times has the audible voice of God actually interrupted your totally normal day to terrify you and make you near certain that all of your worst fears are true and you are actually crazy? For me, only once.

But if you find yourself here on this little platform then you know I am fully convinced there’s a string of holy that runs through every human. It can unexpectedly tug and pull you to apply for that job or move on or speak up. It points you to the goodest of things that you never would have dreamed up on your own if you let it. It helps you put language to things that you’ve been carrying thinking that you need them and asks you to leave them behind so you can pick up something better instead.

That red bulls-eye did point to my own “un’s”, and then all of the sudden I found myself buying shampoo and thinking about my roommates and family and everyone else who might need the same words I received right there in the organic beauty section.

I don’t know what kind of “un’s” January placed on your plate, but here’s what happened in each aisle for me. Like one of those little tear off pieces on a poster, take what you need.

Cleaning Supplies

You know when you take sheets out of the washing machine and they’re all twisted up and bundled in a large knot? That’s what my heart was this last year. I could get my hands cold and wet trying to pull it apart and straighten it out or I could trust the process. Without fail, every three years I need a permanent press cycle to rinse and clean out the gunk in my heart that I pick up from daily use. But now I’m just waiting for it to finish the cycle and come out of the dryer all safe and warm, sooner versus later. Sometimes it takes a fabric softener and a full tumble dry to get us back to where we need to be. Just remember that before you were ever useful you were loved.

Kitchen Items (But like, the cute ones.)

I do not need more coffee mugs. I want more coffee mugs. I like coffee mugs, I use them daily. But I do not need more coffee mugs. Whatever your mug is, you already have enough. You may even have more than you need and they are just using space. Decide what you’re going to hold onto and let the rest go.

Stationary

Here is where I could spend hours. Loneliness is so funny because no matter how many thriving relationships you have, you can still feel like you’re stuck on an island. These cards and their quips make me look up and around at my tribe. I have people near and far who are celebrating, in need of a laugh, healing, preparing for little humans and mourning losses. But my selfish little heart likes to think that only I matter and that if I am not being sought out then I therefore am unwanted and not important. HA. How middle child of me.  

The remedy to complaining is to create. When you feel unseen or lonely or hidden, send a card. Tell someone you love them and be the first one to reach out. Sometimes you have to be the invitation to engage and that’s okay. Your Lonely Self will thank you later.

Home Decor (More specifically, Hearth & Home because it is perfection.)

I have a self-protective need to retreat when I see change of any type on the horizon, even if I’ve dreamed it up myself. I say “no” out of fear of failure or being uncomfortable. I run away from people and responsibility. I control what I can – my surroundings, my relationships, my schedule – because the world sometimes is scary and dreaming too hard is risky.

When change happens I crave Home. I want forever in a place where all of my people can find me and it probably smells really good all of the time and there’s cinnamon rolls and no Celiac disease. I don’t want to have to do the exhausting work of rebuilding the things that made my life seem like it was ever mine.

Change doesn’t have to be a wrecking ball if your foundation is solid and dreaming is teaching you how to trust.

If you see me in Target, say hi and tell me what you need. Walk with me for a bit. Welcome to my church.

missing my British twin.

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The 90’s and early 2000’s pop culture marketed at young tweens had a weird obsession with twins. If you went to a sleepover and didn’t eat pizza and watch Billboard Dad (or another classic Mary-Kate & Ashley movie) you weren’t crimping your hair right.

Knowing its audience well, Disney reintroduced The Parent Trap in 1998. This movie convinced me I had a long lost twin somewhere in the world and that I needed my ears pierced. It also kicked off my deep admiration for Lindsay Lohan & Dennis Quaid. My mom assured me from her eyewitness experience of my birth that I most definitely was not a twin, but sometimes on my hard days I like to imagine there’s a British version of Emily on the other side of the world. She’s having a great hair day and has perfected all of the steps to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” choreography. In other words, I hope alternate me is having a killer day when I am feeling less than.

This idea of imagining another you in another space at the same time is the dip-your-toe-in-version of what a multiverse is.

Why am I writing to the internet about the multiverse? Because my idea brain is the most active on airplanes, with the heights and perspective and whatnot, and flying inspires me. It’s probably why I impulsively buy tickets instead of clothes like a normal woman. As I write this, I have literally flown from coast to coast and back again (Eastern Standard to Hawaii Pacific Time, which is 6 hours of difference so I was #TeamNoSleep). Then I listened to a podcast about the multiverse. If you’ve ever wondered how big someone can think, make sure they’re exhausted from travel and then challenge them with quantum physics and philosophy.

Time to get sciency: I learned that multi-universes are not plausible according to everything observable. Which is fine by me. But I’ve been in a heady space and I’m a heady gal and I think the universe is full of things unseen. I’m not saying that there’s other universes out there, but I do think it’s important to know where your head goes when your heart is hurting.

After changing time zones too quickly I found my mind wandering back to my long lost British twin and I wished her well, like the proper psycho I am and also like someone who misses someone when they’re alone on a plane 30,000 feet above everyone you love in real life. 

I don’t think the world does a good job of talking about loneliness. We’re all afraid to admit that from time to time, we all feel lonely. There’s an expectation that if you have awesome friendships, maybe a great romantic relationship, consistent/stable/healthy time with your family, or any other form of thriving community in your life then you aren’t allowed to feel sad when you’re alone. It’s like if you admit that you’re lonely, then you’re weird or desperate for more relationship in your life, which isn’t true. It just means you’re missing someone somewhere.

I’ve had a lot of alone time lately, and because of that I’ve felt real lonely. This is not a cry for help or a realization that I need more friends – I have those, I swear! – but it’s a simple statement of fact. I’m not good at being alone. For those of you who are into things like the Enneagram, I’m a Type 6 which literally means that my biggest fear is being without support and guidance from people/communities I trust. Without people around me, I tend to get insecure and indecisive and scared. Lonely likes to sneak in and whisper lies that my secure relationships aren’t actually so secure and no one wins. 

I don’t really have a tidy quote or life lesson prepared by being honest about this, other than the belief that loneliness is as powerful as it is normal. I’ve seen it make hearts hard and lead people to make split-second decisions that hurt themselves and others. So I decided I’m taking loneliness back.

The way to slay the dragon named “Lonely” is to embrace it with open arms – fully, wholly, completely. Don’t let Lonely tell you lies that you’re unworthy of love. Lonely just means you were brave enough to let people in once upon a time. That should be celebrated and I hope you continue to have courage to step into situations that scare you – like being alone or choosing love over apathy or renting a moped in Hawaii and pretending you know where you’re going.

We’ve got to talk about this feeling that can influence our decisions and bring so much shame around such a normal concept. So how do you respond to loneliness? Do you think being lonely is a bad thing? Why do you think admitting that we’re feeling lonely is such a hurdle for most people? If you’re feeling bold, leave a comment below or send me an email if you prefer a little anonymity.

The next time you’re feeling lonely, just know that we’re all missing our British twins and we all wish them well. Maybe there is another universe where they’re all wishing us well, too.

ending well & other things I’m bad at.

Featuring that one planner everyone owns by Rifle Paper Co, that one bedspread everyone owns from Ikea, and my favorite wool socks.

There are few things as satisfying as finishing a great book. Knowing that I spent weeks (albeit sometimes days, or even hours, depending on the story and my schedule) devoted to finishing one thing and finally reaching the empty pages at the back is a unique form of relief. The definition of closure is flipping the last page and reaching “The End.”

I grow attached to characters and the message; often I’ll write my favorite quotes down on pieces of paper and stick them around my room to find later to help me through the post-book depression that starts to settle in soon after I’m finished. For awhile I’ll mope around and refuse to read anything ever again because I’m convinced it just won’t measure up. I’ll tell all of my friends that they have to read this book because I feel some sort of strange loyalty to it. One day I’ll go to the library to find another piece of fiction to tide me over and the cycle starts all over again: read, fall in love, finish, mope, move on.

That’s what ending well looks like to me.

Sometimes I wish life’s seasons were divided into chapters and bound by hard covers. That way  ending well would look like living the story, falling in love with it, finishing the season, mourning about the good times in memorandum, and eventually moving on a little wiser and stronger than before.

This time though, I’m eager to shut 2016’s cover. Screw the process. I want to duct tape this year shut, shove it away in a box marked “NO” and never look back. It’s easy. It’s quick. It allows me to ignore the tough stuff instead of doing the gritty work of sorting through this year. During a couch talk – aka the slightly less dramatic equivalent of a driveway car talk – with my sister, I realized that in order to move forward we have to decide what to bring with us from 2016.

Here’s an unpopular opinion: 2016 wasn’t actually the worst year ever.

Life really sucked when the Black Plague hit Europe in 1346. I’m also going to give a HARD PASS on going back in time to 1861 when the Civil War was taking place. I lived in North Carolina for a month this year, and even though that was less than ideal I would gladly take Charlotte in 2016 over 1861. Just saying. And I’m going there: World Wars. Hitler. Genocides. Even though you can make valid comparisons of these past crises to current world problems, the list for “The World’s Worst Year” is pretty thick.

I don’t want to invalidate the pain that has scarred this year for individuals and people groups. People made choices that left others hurt and confused about where they belong, if they belong. That’s devastating and shouldn’t be made small. But this year hasn’t had more or less letdowns than others. We have always been living in a world that is bleeding from the inside out, it just became more obvious this year. If anything, 2016 was the year that left me feeling a little less naïve than before because of this realization.

Surreal is the best way to summarize how I felt looking at the state of the world and my life after this year. It was hard to believe I was actually seeing and hearing things. Most things I held as true and safe were challenged. I kept saying that I felt older after reading the news of another worldview shattered. A lot of my good friends have expressed feeling frustrated by this constant second-guessing of what is real in their lives as well.

Life never gets clearer, you just get more sure of yourself.

I wrote this quote down on a sticky note and kept it on my work computer. It’s been acting as a subtle reminder that I need to rip the 2016 box open and sort through it. Otherwise it’s going to sit on my shelf for years taking up valuable space in my heart. So I’m holding the triumphs and trials of 2016 in my hands and choosing to keep close the moments – good and bad – that made me feel more sure of who I am. Kind of like a weird, mental version of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. I’m in my mid-twenties and these are the kinds of books you read when you’re trying to pretend to have your life together.

Moments like standing next to my best friends when they got married are the ones that show me that this year mattered. Or times when I took a risk and learned something new. Or where I was when I found out about Brexit or the US election results. And how I felt when I looked at the picture of the little Syrian boy in the ambulance. This highlight reel of living 2016 out to my edges is what I’m able to point to as experience, wisdom, and has revealed more of God’s heart to me.

I mention God a lot in these blogs but I don’t really address the fact that yes, I am a Christian, and yes, my life has been completely changed by following Jesus. Maybe that’s because I’m afraid that somebody will assume things about me that aren’t true based off of what they read. So here it is: I’m passionate about loving God and His people (that’s you, that’s everyone). I still drink far too many margaritas and say things I shouldn’t and that’s ok. It doesn’t change the fact that I am completely sure that God has called me His daughter, even if I’m not sure about a lot anymore. That’s big for 2017.

I’m bad at making resolutions. It’s hard to set measurable goals when you only have a sliver of an idea of what you want or how God is working in and through you. But I want to give 2016 credit where credit is due: it made me more into the Emily that I want to be in 2017.

In 2017 and for the rest of my little existence here, I want to see people and run toward them rather than running away because I’m uncomfortable. I want to celebrate well and dance hard and often, because some things – like love, hope, and forever promises – deserve to have a bottle of champagne popped and a killer playlist. I want to freely forgive. I want to travel because I can and pet dogs because I can and vote because I can and love because I can. I want to be bold and say the things I mean and hug people a little closer because no one gives good hugs anymore. And I want to ride my bike more.

So as much as I want to ignore 2016, it mattered. And 2017 will matter, too. And one day all of the years will add up and matter a whole lot. Then everything that happened won’t matter at all because I’ll be way too focused on praising God for who He is and has been all this time.

Here’s to becoming more of who we already are.

the good life.

I’ve been walking a pretty steady pace in 2016, and then November came into my life. November cranked the speed all the way up to 10 and told me to keep breathing.

Each weekend in my planner quickly filled up with celebrations, conferences, trips to the airport, and promises. In the moments between scheduled appointments, life’s news decided to push in for space as well. What little room I had to rest and recoup was filled with a mosh pit of hard feelings – the blues and the mean reds and even the confusing combination of violet, too.

At first glance, I’m usually pegged as an extrovert who is a “yes” person. I’m a chatty gal who loves a good happy hour with friends and holds her own when talking to strangers, so it’s easy to assume that I’m most relaxed in a group of people.

Hard as I have fought to uphold this image, the older I get the more I’m realizing how much alone time I need to function as a person who loves people well. I look forward to cancelled plans because that means I can go for a run or read a new book. Showers are the best because I have an excuse to be alone. After parties I turn myself into a blanket burrito for a day just to feel human again. At the heart of all social interactions, I’m an introvert of introverts.

Needless to say: November was exhausting.

Every other blog and op-ed circling the Internet seems to have the same feeling that we all got socked in the gut and we’re not sure why. I think we’re all just looking for someone or something to blame so we can move on with our lives, but when there’s no one to point to you just feel stuck.

How do you move forward when you don’t know how or who brought you to the place you’re in? It’s a desert out there and God feels far away. It feels like he dropped us off here in 2016 and left us with the clothes on our back and a canteen to build character.

Lately I want to throw my hands up and say “I don’t want to be here, I want to be there.” I’m guilty of treating this “desert” as the in-between before my actual life. Like once I move or get promoted or make 10 new friends or join one of those hip, niche gyms then the things that made November so full of disappointment won’t have a hold on me anymore. We’re all slaves to the next thing that makes us feel whole again.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with hope. But the cocktail of hope and the in-between is a dangerous one. It mixes feelings of discontent with the reality of now. Because in the midst of all of the crap November brought, there really has been a lot of light.

This month I’ve been on six different planes and have spent weekends in four different places. At each stop along the way I’ve been able to share a meal with someone I love and do something I’ve never done before. I’ve checked two dreams off of my bucket list and have lived out the true stories I will tell my kids someday when they’re falling asleep. Disappointment won a lot of battles this month, but joy won the war outright.

Here’s a piece of wisdom that I’ve tucked away for the especially gray days:

“Whatever is happening in our lives right now, that’s God’s best for us. Even if what I think is best is different, He knows. And I want to live out His best and honor that gift.”

Yes – life does feel a little lost right now and God feels too big and far away in the midst of the mess. Where I’m at doesn’t feel like what’s best for me and what I think would be the best is over there… wherever there is. I’m learning that I don’t need to feel like everything is okay to come, sit at His feet and wrestle through the hard stuff together. He knows I’m tired and I need a moment to be upset. But He’s also a good gift giver, so good that I found myself sitting in Main Street in Disney World with a cup of warm coffee humming “The Good Life” and “Holly Jolly Christmas”.

It feels good to breathe in the now rather than wishing for less than. It might even be what’s best.