Venison with a Side of Exhaustion

The Mrs. wrote a short post today about relief. You can read it here, if you didn’t get here through those means.

Relief can come in different ways at times. Sometimes, it’s a relief to have fears confirmed, because at least there is closure. Other times, it’s a relief to find out there is nothing to worry about. I took a walk today, for the Mrs, and as I walked I considered the leaves under my feet, the scents in the air, and I observed the random thoughts that flooded my mind when I let down my guard.

I walked to the Mrs.’s mother’s house to fetch an armload of venison that was to be prepared for when she got home from her very long day of counseling, teaching, and foster-care interviewing. I considered the warm welcome I got when walking into “Mimi’s” home. Two smiling faces, welcoming me with cheer. Two happy dogs eager to receive my affection. Oh, and an arm-full of assorted venison.

As I departed, my heart was full with this thought: Home is a beautiful thing. It knows no geographical location, nor is it limited by any physical constraints. Home is where they love you.

The walk home was filled with thoughts of all that needed to be done. Anxieties were fully felt, and I allowed them to pass by. Again I focused on yellow tree leaves under my feet, the smell of burning wood in fireplaces, and the bite of the cold on my lips.

I acknowledged the perfection in nature.

I appreciated the work those trees did in producing that leaf that now lies dead up the blacktop. I appreciated the scent of smoke from the trees that now serve a different purpose. In those few moments, I chose also to appreciate myself and those around me.

Why? Because I’m actually alive. And in choosing to appreciate, I’m choosing to acknowledge the incredible work that goes into even one element of order in this world. One successful relationship, one completed project, one well-deserved evening of exhaustion.

And as the Mrs. and I ate our venison and veggies, we appreciated the light cast from our Christmas tree. We appreciated the savory flavors and aromas from our meal. And most of all, we appreciated the presence of a fellow world-worn sojourner.

We found life in our shared experience… of exhaustion.

Day #16

Progress is sometimes hard to see, hard to know. It’s like the colors at dusk changing– subtle but constant.

An image of a path lying before dormant trees in the last lingering light of the day. At times, it peaks in glory and color and we see the culmination of all the work and planning.

Sometimes it shifts slow and steady, one step melting into another until we’re there.
The path never stays straight or short as we trod to that next hope. It’s curvy, it’s rocky, and it’s exactly the right way, every time. And hopefully, we get the opportunity to share it with someone we love… this journey toward progress.

I just walked and talked today with my Love. We dreamed future dreams. Discussed bold decisions vs. reckless actions. Held hands and laughed. A mile and a half later my heart knew progress toward hopes yet unrealized.

Talk about your dreams my dear readers, for in speaking you find courage to create the life you love.

Day #14

An image of a 25 mph speed-limit sign in a residental area on a cloudy day.Time is such a strange concept to me.

And finding its balance seems almost mystical to me most days. If you push too fast you often cause wrecks. Go too slow and you can miss the point of existence. It’s finding the pace that flows with, not against, this strange stream of life. So much of that is intuition oriented.

Most of us have so many voices in our ear that it’s difficult to hear our own. I encourage you today, gentle reader, as you walk, think inwardly…

What choices will create a healthier me? What do I need to do to be authentically happy? How do I practice contentment in my present while walking with intent toward my future? If no one else was around, what would I be doing with my life right now?

I’m not saying these should be impulsively acted on today, but I would consider who you are beneath the schedule, the roles, the peer pressure, and the “rules.” When you peel all that away and are left staring at your own reflection, can you live with that person? Probably.

Are you in love with that person?

I walked today in neighborhoods and dreamed possible dreams. I noticed things like speed signs and windmills, and how the world responds to changing seasons in its own time. As I walked, I hoped mightily for the wisdom of the flow and the grace to dance in this life- river.windmill

Day #11

I love finding grace in unexpected places. Not a self-imposed deity kind of abstract grace; but rather, a tangible human-hand kind of grace.

The sincere “It’s okay, Mama,” when I goof.

The generous back rub after a stressful day.

The enthusiasm over a simple breakfast for supper.

Unshaven legs.

Forgotten appointments.

Mismanaged time.

Pimpled faces.

Extended dead lines.

I saw broken grace from broken humans all around me. The tears of understanding. The statement of forgiveness. The heart that continues to love, despite hurt.

I saw it all today, gentle readers. And now I request your grace… for I did not walk today. I chose instead to advocate for two young clients, to mindfully connect with my Love, to dine with the princess.

An orange sunset set agains the snow-scattered Tetons, overlooking Jackson Lake.It was cold and rainy and dark all day… I’m extending grace to the sky… resting in the beauty of the pause… for tomorrow is a new day.

Day #6

Life is too short to be too serious.

Sometimes you gotta let your hair down and dance.

image of shot glass on tableI lived so much of my life focused on the future. Everything for the eternal reward, the appearance of evil, the belief of everlasting. And I missed so much Joy in the process of serious living. Last night we walked downtown after having a few drinks at dinner with family. It was loud and bright and busy and fun. We experimented with flavors and types of beers (they had local brews and such). But we needed to walk before heading home so we enjoyed festive lights, cold breezes, pavement and old store fronts instead of our usual scenic nature walk. We joked and laughed and acted silly and danced.

It was fun.

Of all weakness, seriousness is mine. I tend to over-think, over-do, over-achieve. I like deep conversations, intellect, and meaning. But sometimes there is no meaning, no point to make, and honestly every achievement in my life has been a double-edged sword. We tend to sacrifice so much in the present for the hope of future reward. And that actually turns out to be pretty counterproductive in most instances.

In my first marriage, I feel this was my greatest downfall. I focused so much on the future and setting us up for success — 10, 20, 50 years down the road. But I mostly forgot to love that day with him. My focus was ministry, career, school, and even marriage but I was so worried about doing everything “right” that I forgot to enjoy the doing at all. And I learned that lesson when my marriage crumbled and the smoke and mirrors of my identity were torn away.

And when I got the opportunity to be with my Love (now husband), I repeated two mantras to myself:

1. Don’t worry about tomorrow with him; enjoy today and trust the process.

2. Always choose to move toward him… physically, emotionally, etc.

Almost three years in, this has worked so much better… we have goals and hopes and plans but we don’t get hung up on them. And man do we have fun… every single day… and this is the best gift I have ever given myself.

I live one hundred pounds lighter, one thousand times brighter, and with every part of me. I want to never chose not to be all of me again. To only have a fraction of myself thriving was unacceptable.

I promise myself as I walk amongst the Christmas lights: “I will always choose my brightest.” large lighted christmas tree

Day #5

Today was busy.

The hustle and bustle of family and food. Macy’s Thanksgiving parade to watch. Pies to cook. Places to be. And oh the roles we play. Wife, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, mother, friend were just a few of mine today.

We talked and shared, laughed and cried. We ate and then ate more. We connected in superficial ways and meaningful ways, and all the ways in between. We drank wine and dissected ads and solved all the worlds problem. Family togetherness…fleeting but beautiful in all its bursts of color.

And then the Love and I came home. It was already dark and cold outside.

“I didn’t get to walk today,” I said.

“Well, let’s go.”

And we changed shoes, bundled up, and walked. Not long and not too far-but enough. The dark and quiet after such a full day was enormous in my head. The moon and the stars twinkled at me and the cold chill made my skin come alive. As I walked, I thought about a piece of advice recently shared with me.

She said:

“Imagine you are sitting on a bench holding balloons of all that labels what you are: mother, wife, friend, worker, etc. Now imagine letting go of each balloon until they are gone. What are you left with?”

Just me,” I had whispered then.

A couple's shadows cast upon the pavement.And “Just me” I whisper now. I look at our shadows, long in street lights. I see the most stark version of myself staring back at me. The version without color, accomplishments, superego, or beliefs. It’s just me. I am grateful to be at a place in my life where I can finally enjoy just me in just this moment.

Happy Thanksgiving, my gentle readers…

Day #3

heart-shaped-rockLove.

It’s the one thing that when all else is stripped away, I still believe. And I know it comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. I’ve witnessed the beautiful, the magical and the absurd. And love has found its way to me… it came unexpected and surprised this broken heart.

But that has been some time ago and as I walk hand-in-hand with my Love today, I ask him: “Well it’s almost Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?” He looks at me sideways and grins, “Well, you, of course.” And I know he’s teasing but I also know he is speaking complete truth because he tells me every day in a thousand different ways. He loves so hard and thoroughly and playfully. I never go one day without laughing, smiling, blushing, and feeling certain my heart will burst with joy.

Seriously, everyday.

We continue walking and I push a little harder (because it’s what I do),”Why are you thankful for me?” He walked in silence hand still tight on mine. “Because I can just be me with you.” And isn’t that all we really ever want?  I feel inexplicable happiness with this statement because it means I am his soft-and-safe place. To be silly or to cry or to be angry about the cards that have been dealt… it doesn’t matter because he knows I have the empathy and the courage to stare all of him in the face and just love.

And love is all I know for certain, so it’s what I choose… every time.