*I feel it to be my civic duty to warn you that this post contains excessive use of the word “and”.

When I was in college, I had this amazing professor, the Dumbledore to my HP if you will, and she taught one of the best classes I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing: Rhetoric & Style.* We did so many unexpected things in this class, and while we learned a lot about Rhetoric and a lot about Style, I feel that what we learned the most about was our place in the universe.

I remember one day she got carried away on what seemed like a tangent, which generally would give my sweet little structure-craving temperament a bout of the anxieties, but on this particular occasion I still remember feeling drawn to the dialoguelike something inside of me was reaching out for something else, like part of me was already expecting it. She went along this path that transitioned from English majors to journaling to list-making to poem writing to sound and color observing to rhetoric to our creative muses to unity within the universe. (this same teacher who in another class that same semester would settle in with “The center cannot hold/ all things fall apart” as our lens for analyzing all the works we studies those 4 months) Later we watched Elizabeth Gilbert deliver this amazing Ted Talk about all the things we had been discussing and I teared up as I felt myself recognizing the magic that lies in being present to all the things that are endlessly working together to create…magic. Then we walked with the Victorians as they struggled to understand how and why the center cannot hold; we sat in the sadness that their revelations mandated. Then we in our present day held their works to the light and saw the beauty they held, and suddenly there it was again, that magic—that stuff that presented itself in the midst of seeming dichotomies and sadness and pieces of a fragmented humanity. Peace-bringing, soul-shaping, life-giving magic.

And then the semester ended and I didn’t feel the magic any more. So, I chalked it up to superlative teaching and mutability and carried on.

Fast forward to a while back when I started going to therapy and doing yoga and meditating, all things that force you to look inward and be present to what’s going on. One day I saw this phrase “create space for magic” that someone had put on their yoga mat, and while what they meant by “magic” probably had more to do with executing a solid King Dancer pose, I decided to adopt the phrase as my mantra. I wrote it down and began to use it to set my intention for my yoga practices; then I found myself referencing it during trying times at work; before long I realized this wasn’t just some trite phrase, it was a way of living, it was the way back to that wonderful indescribable soul medicine I experienced that first time with Rhetoric & Style.

Recently I’ve been listening to some new podcasts, reading some new authors, and I swear for every single thing that has made me say “YES!” or “Me too!” there’s been a reference or tie to another thing that also made me say “YES!” or “Me too!”. I’ve started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast titled “Big Magic” (right?!) and in the first episode I stepped into, she had Rob Bell (episode #4) on who talked about living as though “the action is here” and being present for what’s already happening in us and through us and around us. Just today I had an issue with my library account, so I called them and had the loveliest conversation with the lady working the circulation desk who said it was a system error then remarked on one of the books I had checked out (which is a phenomenal book about a certain personality trait that apparently we both have), and we bonded briefly in solidarity over our DNA-based compositions. Then she, without any prompting from me, remarked on how our conversation must be why the system gave me an error message even though it was working.

It would take me days to tell you all the ways everything is cross-referencing and things from one area keep filling in the blanks for things happening in other areas and everything is clicking together and connecting and making sense and it’s wonderful. That semester in college, I recognized that something was speaking to my soul. Somehow deep down I knew a part of the core of who I am had been reached and its thirst had been quenched, but when I lost it I failed to relegate any responsibility to myself.

Now, I know that it’s up to me, and you, dear friends, to create the space for the magic in our lives. If you create space, if you show up, if you truly believe that the action is here, with you, right where you are when you are where you are, then magic will find you. And man, it’s something spectacular to behold.

*I know I’ve talked about her and probably this class before, but this my friends was a game-changer, a turning-point, one of those people-shaper things we all have along the way.


Camel Pose

(Credit Unknown)

So in yoga there’s this pose called Camel Pose. It looks easy enough, but it’s actually super hard. And honestly, it’s more mental than physical. I’m pretty sure every instructor I’ve ever been with during this pose has said something along the lines of, “don’t give in and come out of the pose early; stick with it”. Not coincidence. While your body is probably muttering something like, “this is kind of weird…hmmn” your head is SCREAMING, “STOP THIS MADNESS; RUN LIKE THE WIND BULLSEYE; GET OUT LEST YOU PERISH”. When you’re in Camel, your heart is exposed, your throat is exposed, your hands and feet are cut off from your core, your shoulders and hips are open, you’re helpless. And most people’s brains just literally can’t even. And people who’ve been there and passed that, try to encourage others by telling them that if they don’t run from all those emotions that come bubbling up from the deep recesses that no longer have sturdy walls to hide them from everything, then they’ll make it to the other side -the rainbows and butterflies side-of Camel Pose. But here’s why I’m pretty sure the difficulty is more mental than physical: if you don’t quit the pose, all those feelings are still there waiting for you.

At first I couldn’t even do Camel Pose, tilting my head back was the most I could muster, but then I advanced a little to being able to do a slight backbend with my hands on my lower back. Basically this stage looks like you’re not doing anything at all, but let me tell you that stage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s this panic that creeps over you with each millisecond that passes. You start feeling a little fight or flight, but the panic intensifies so much your brain forgets what fight even means. Then as soon as you come out of the pose there’s a wave of dizziness, along with all the emotions the panic was shielding. I came out of it crying every time I did it. Then I progressed and was able to do a full expression, and still the panic, still the emotions, still some tears. Until one day (and kudos to all the instructors, because they all said this would happen) it WAS rainbows and butterflies. I came out of a full expression feeling invincible, feeling happy, feeling strong. But not because the emotions and panic and vulnerability stopped. Somewhere along the way I became more mentally strong, my heart more open to facing the fear and the rejection and the hurt and the sadness, and once you name your fear, you steal its power. It’s still there, yes, but you can see it for what it is, breathe in its existence, breathe out its importance. It no longer serves you, so you let it go. Until today I have been quite pleased with that progress and those realizations, but tonight we did a partner Camel Pose, and something clicked for me.

In an attempt to make sure we were using core strength and our legs rather than abusing our spine we partnered up, one person practicing Camel, the other supporting. It’s a little weird to have a stranger touch you at all, and to intentionally push your hip bones into their hands seems even weirder, but it wasn’t. It definitely felt better doing the posture correctly, but after completing a full expression and coming out of the pose I realized, it felt better mentally too. Tonight I didn’t experience even one second of panic. Not one second of confusion. Not one second of convincing myself to overcome and reminding myself it’s worth fighting for. Because I was supported; I knew someone was there (literally touching me) and I wasn’t alone. My Enneathought the other day said that I “tend to cope with problems by being competent” and that my message to others is “There are a number of hidden issues here: let me think about it.” And it’s spot on. But it also challenged me to ‘expand my coping skills by expressing my feelings and adopting a positive outlook’. I like living in my head; it’s safe in there. But I have seen and experienced the joy that can come from leaning on others and practicing the same things with a positive community. Every time I go to yoga class I’m reminded to be mindfully meditative about what it is to be part of a gracious and growing community that encourages me to open my heart and live with gratitude, but tonight I got a physical reminder that I need others. And I guess I wanted to share my positive outlook and feelings. LOOK HOW MUCH MY COPING SKILLS ARE GROWING ENNEAGRAM! Life is hard; be kind to yourself. And each other. And also do yoga.

(P.S. this is an old post i never posted [when i figure out what’s wrong with me i’ll let you know], but i still believe in all these words 1 million percent.)

Best of All

“And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” -Maurice Sendak

Sometimes I remember this part of the story, Where the Wild Things Are, and it makes me kind of sad. I can go in-depth about why I hate it for Max and we can analyze the book from front to back and probably arrive at Max’s need for a child therapist and the problems his mom will inevitably face during his teenage years from the mixed signals she gives by sending him off without dinner then eventually leaving him some without explanation or discussion, but let’s not. Let’s talk about how it makes me hate it for us.

I really feel like this is such a profound insightful sentence, a deep well of insight. This is what we all want— to be where someone loves us best of all. This is the first time I’ve ever talked about this with anyone (and the irony of me typing this to an unknown and un-guaranteed audience is not lost on me) so, I don’t know if we all go through a period of feeling like we lack that, or if it’s just me, but I know that it never leaves you.

I understand that everyone’s family has some dysfunction in it; I’m well aware that normalcy and dysfunction are completely subjective entities, and I’m going to assume that I can speak freely without harping on that. My family growing up was very disjointed. Drawing a picture might help you, but instead I’m going to type it all out and confuse you, Wuthering Heights style (I totally drew a family tree before I could make it through the first chapter of that book). Growing up I had a mom, step-dad, dad, and step-mom and each of them excepting my mom had a child from a previous marriage. (My sister came along after my mom and step-dad got together) This is why I awkwardly giggle when people ask about my standing in birth order; mostly I was oldest, but sometimes I have been the youngest, and for the longest I was the middle.

The second thing we’re just going to have to all agree that we know and then move past is that a child’s perception is just that, the perception of a child. (No one bothers to point that out when the opinions belong to Scout Jean Louise Finch, but I guess to be fair, things told from my elementary perspective have yet to win me a Pulitzer Prize) There was a time when it seemed logical for me to match everyone up. Each child got a grown-up, and that grown-up was their defender, their supporter, theirs— they loved them best of all. It wasn’t a totally CRAZY thing to do, but seeing as it left me odd-kid-out, it wasn’t the most healthy or accurate thing to do either. What’s done is done; now we’re just stating facts. I remember feeling like Max. I felt like I was Queen of all wild things. I was the one who saw all the sides. I understood all the opinions. I ruled over communications. But I was lonely. And all I wanted was to be where someone loved me best of all. Not second of all, not equal of all, not most of all every now and then. BEST OF ALL.

It wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t rational. But it was real. And it doesn’t go away. That want, it still plagues me. And as uncomfortable as I am making generalizations, I don’t think it’s just me. I think you’ve felt it too. I think quite regularly, daily, hourly even, people are using all their resources to prove me right.

Sometimes I catch myself feeling like Max. Not lonely, because now I’m older and a little wiser and can maintain perspective enough to see what that really is, to then see past “loneliness”. But if I’m not careful, I’ll find myself mentally pairing people off with who they love best of all. I’ll catch myself lying, telling my heart that it’s not enough for people to simply love you, you need them to love you best of all. The trick is living there. I’m not fully convinced that it’s a bad thing to want; I am fully convinced it’s a bad thing to only want.

Life is full of dichotomies. Things that seem to contradict, but actually sustain each other. These paradoxes that keep things moving, keep us growing and stretching. Wanting to be loved most of all is both the most heartbreaking and most optimistic desire I can ever imagine having. I never want to be consumed by it, but I hope that I can be strong enough to  contend with the pain in lack in order to perceive the blessing in abundance. I hope that I can gracefully sustain a season of living in that tension.

Save Room

We never ate dessert as part of our dinner growing up. We got dessert. We ate sweet things. But never did we finish our dinner so that we could get dessert. So when I got older and started eating out on my own or visiting with friends who did have that tradition, I started hearing a new phrase— “don’t forget to save room for dessert!”

I like that. Take initiative. Make plans. Demonstrate discipline. Go big. Get the pie. But what inevitably happens when the server comes back to the table to ask if you’ve actually saved room for dessert? You say, no, maybe next time. Right? (90% of the time, yes, right.)

I don’t like that. I eat my dessert first. If I want dessert, why would I take the chance of it not being there when I’m ready, or me not having room because I used up all my dessert space with other filling things that I didn’t want as much, or me changing my mind (and most likely having a least one subsequential conversation about how good I bet that chocolate pie was?) If I want dessert, I make sure I eat dessert.

I think there are people who don’t know the practical applications of this principle. People who enjoy what they have, yes. Who cultivate intentions of having good and desirable things, yes. But sometimes I think these people follow timelines created by a culture that doesn’t offer individualized specifications, and by the time they realize and decide what they want, it’s gone. I think sometimes people get so caught up pursuing good things and competing (whether with others or with themselves) in an endless race to be better and more that by the time they stop to evaluate what they really want, they realize they haven’t the room to take it in. And I certainly think that every single day there are people who after changing their mind (because it’s their prerogative) wonder what might’ve been because they were too ___________ to give it a chance.

I think it’s sad.

I don’t want that.

My hope is that I would be someone who is constantly evolving, constantly weeding out things old and unused, things that have become ineffective or impractical, to make room for better things—things that will stretch me, grow me, make me better. I hope that I never become so self-satisfied, not even so engulfed by a passion or project, that I forget to look outside myself, that I forget to let others contribute to…well, to me. I want to make room in real time not theory. I want to live as if this is all I have, this here and now, this hurt and pain and beauty and love. I don’t want to have to make room for good things, for things that I love, I want to have some room ready and waiting, and when those things come along, I want to embrace them, then and there, and enjoy them and treasure them and have no regrets.

Isn’t that what you want too?

The Pack is Back

Apartment shopping is the absolute worst. Second maybe only to moving; the act of lugging a 200[million] pound table made of solid wood up two flights of stairs while one lung collapses and you lose a limb to the tetris-like rotating required to fit it through a door, and that is enough to make even a saint cry in a corner. That being said, I just had the easiest apartment-finding experience to ever grace the pages of history.

In order for you to fully appreciate this situation, I still feel like you need more background. Apartment hunting = awful. Apartment hunting in Nashville = 3rd ring in Dante’s Inferno. We all know people in Nashville can be a little boujie. Sometimes they be thinking that just because they added some crown molding to a living room, you will be totally on board with their conviction that this building is now basically the Taj Mahal. “Now this one is about $150 more a month” they’ll grimace slightly just so you really feel like they’re one of you, then they turn on you and practically shout “BUT! It’s because IT’S UPDATED!” *cue hair flip and wink as you’re partially blinded by all the brilliantly white teeth they’re suddenly flashing at you in full force. What exactly does that mean, you’ll ask innocently. And you’ll learn that OBVIOUSLY this means they’ve cleaned the carpet. And made absolute certain that the dishwasher is the same color as the fridge and IT’S YOUR LUCK DAY, they’re both black because FOR THE LOVE, how would you ever have been able to look anyone in the eye if you had WHITE appliances!??!

And please, don’t even get me started on location inconsistencies around here. I currently live in the most diverse part of the city, but because we live near some old WASP-y people, our rent is higher? There’s nothing here but a Kroger and a McDonald’s but since the people in the neighborhoods 5 miles up the road are capable of differentiating between peonies and cabbage roses, you get to pay more rent. If you drive 5 miles the other way, however, you’ll find that rent is almost halved, and even though people’s eyes will grow as round as dinner plates when they hear you’re moving to Antioch, the only real difference is that people in those neighborhoods don’t have any seasonal monogrammed wreaths hanging on their doors.

It was with this insight looming in the back of my mind that I entered into
my latest bout of house hunting. I got easily frustrated with the basic Trulia, Craigslist game, so I made calling all the “For Rent” numbers I saw while driving my thing. One Saturday we walked to Musician’s Corner from KB’s (because, like, global warming and fitness and stuff) and on our way back I saw a tiny little sign in a cul-de-sac. Per my MO I called and some very confused sounding old man asked me weird questions about whether I was an adult or not and do I have ANY pets, because no, don’t have pets. It was weird and maybe most people would’ve been skeptical, but it was a one bedroom in an amazing location and it was affordable. (Also there’s that really unfortunate lack of fear when in potentially dangerous situations thing that plagues me too) I set up a time to meet him to see the place, and that phone call went like this:

Me: Well, I could come by Wednesday morning if that’s ok.
Him: Well, yeah, ok. Tell me your name again. What time?
Me: *spells name again. Is 9:00 ok? I can really do whenever is good for you.
Him: 9:00? Yeah that’s fine.
Me: Ok.
Him: Well can’t you do earlier? Earlier is better.
Me: I can do whenever works best for you.
Him: Well anytime works best for me.
Me: Ok….so 8:30?
Him: That’s perfect. Let me write it in my calendar. *35 seconds of silence
…Ok it’s in there, and just call me that morning and remind me about it and what time it is.
Me: […] sure.

A little confused about the purpose of his aforementioned calendar, but excited about potentially having a place to live I was excited for the meeting. When I pulled up that morning, he was already there, ortho-velcro shoes on, fanny pack in full force, moving the trash cans. I knew when I saw that fanny pack, I was looking at my new home. It’s tiny and hasn’t been renovated since probably 1972(the home, not the fanny pack) (they were required by the fire department to give me a brochure about lead paint and say that to their knowledge, there was none in that building), but I think it’s charming. The lease I signed had clearly been typed up on an actual typewriter, maybe also in 1972 and I had to agree that I WOULDN’T HANG ANYTHING OR PAINT STUFF, unless I used little tacks. It was all in all a pretty painless process seeing as I thought I was filling out an application to be considered while he was filling my name in on a lease. Absolutely everything about the entire happening was old school, but since the one bedroom in the condo next door is being rented out for $750 more A MONTH than my new place, I think I can live with it.

Pretty soon I’ll be running to the park and walking to KB’s for Kardashian marathons, and it’s all thanks to the unwarranted trust and confidence that wearing a fanny pack will cause people to have in you. So take that, fanny pack nay-sayers. The pack is [sort-of in a really weird way, almost] back. And I’ll be sending out new address post cards soon, to all you letter lovers.

Type 5 on a Monday


Again with the Enneagram? YES, it’s my blog so suck it up. Just thought I’d share some insight into me, because even though reading this in a CAC email first thing on a Monday morning was not the most fun, it’s all true. It’s been really cool to read more about each Enneagram number for the past week, but this is what I’ve been waiting for. I love the Enneagram as a resource for learning but also for growing. Good. Stuff. (post with life updates coming soon)

Type Five: The Need to Perceive

The Five appears to be the headiest of all the head types (Five, Six, and Seven). Their primal experience as an Eight Soul Child was of the absolute order of God and the genius of controlling all the parts in one working universe. Fives go inside the mind to find the power that they were denied, or denied themselves, in the external world.   The sin of the Five is avarice (or greed), and they are avaricious for knowledge, thoughts, ideas, silence, and space. To them, knowledge is power and they can never know enough to fill the emptiness they feel inside. Fives always need yet another course, another book, another silent retreat. They are always observing, often from a safe back corner. Fives spend most of their lives behind a one-way mirror through which they can look out, but won’t let you look back at them.  

Fives try not to be drawn into the whirlpool of feelings and events but instead develop their own kind of “objectivity.” It’s important to them to remain calm—at least externally—and to keep their emotions under control. In reality, most Fives have an intense emotional life. But at the moment something happens, it’s as if their emotions are blocked and always come limping behind. At first Fives register something with eyes, ears, and brain; they can stand alongside the event with seeming objectivity. As soon as they are alone, they begin to evaluate it, once again from the head. That’s how they gradually get in touch with their emotions, if they do at all.  

Detachment can be seen as the virtue of the Five. Fives can be outstanding listeners and counselors. Their ability to withdraw themselves emotionally can help those seeking advice to appraise their own situation more clearly. But detachment can also be seen as the Five’s greatest weakness. Among the life tasks of Fives is learning commitment and action. Fives have to fall in love passionately. “Learning to love” is one of their great challenges because it crashes up against their wish for distance. Fives who won’t allow themselves to “lose their heads” in love are incomplete. Without it, they remain emotionally stingy all of their lives.  

Meditation and prayer are for Fives crucially important sources of power. Fives need to cultivate their inner world in order to find the courage to devote themselves to the outer world. The latter becomes possible only when the inner world is experienced as less threatening, when Fives have found repose and security in God and hence in themselves. Meditating on the Incarnation, that is, the commitment and passion of Christ, his readiness to get his hands dirty and heal human beings by touching them, can reconnect the Five with their Soul Child, the Eight.  

Redeemed Fives link their knowledge to a search for wisdom and strive for a sympathetic knowledge of the heart. They have a quiet inner power and are tenderly emotional, loving, polite, hospitable, and gentle—while also protecting strong personal boundaries.  

the key to learning

I think it’s safe to say that for most of us repetition is the key to learning. For myself especially I know that learning anything looks a lot like processing any single thing multiple times with multiple perspectives and generally the same outcome. I find that even if I believe something, there inevitably has to be a point where I question and analyze that thing a few times before the belief becomes real to me.

For the past few months I’ve been learning a lot about what it looks like to be faithful in the mundane. What obedience means when you’re just…normal. Where the beauty lies when you’re not doing anything big or seemingly significant. I’ve been learning about true freedom and what that means for my expectations. Of both myself and others. (A lesson I don’t feel like there will ever be an end to my learning)

It’s been interesting to say the least. And even the very first time I was confronted with idea of beauty being present in mundane boring things, I believed in its existence, its truth, its importance. And so I began saying it. I began telling people about how that’s what I was seeking and that’s what I was investing in. I found myself changing the way I viewed and explained my job, my hobbies, my stuff in general. Some people got it and some people didn’t. And honestly some days I get it and some days I don’t.

But there’s another principle I firmly believe in, and that is “if you say something often enough, you will start to believe it”. We see it in culture all the time–body image, societal motivations, even religious organizations thrive by the practicality of that statement. Now this can be a dangerous thing, totally, absolutely, without a doubt, but it also can be a really helpful thing when your heart and your head just can’t seem to play nice.

Recently I found myself talking to a new person—explaining these things and my focus and my passion and my belief in what the unknown future holds. I realized as I was saying—repeating really—things I’ve been saying for a while now, that I meant them. And not just believed them, but I felt them. And I said them with absolutely no hesitation and only felt satisfaction and confidence and joy resting in my chest. Somewhere along the way something transformed and became not just something external that I believed or said, but rather a part of me.

I don’t really know how it happened, and I don’t really know how to explain it even. But I do know that it’s made a world of difference. And I guess the whole point of this is just to say, Don’t Give Up. (Never Quit, Never Surrender) If you know you believe something and can’t quite feel it, keep digging deep and allow yourself to rest and become comfortable in the tension because eventually that tension becomes a beautiful place of support and strength that you likely don’t even realize you’re cultivating for yourself.

you do you.

PS i got a new job which i guess is the real culmination of this experience in my life, but i’m going to save that for another post.

as always, thanks for reading.


numbers & letters.

I know I’ve talked about it a little before, but in case you missed it, I’m a little obsessed with the Enneagram. Really, I just love personality tests, but this one is my favorite. Every day I get an “Enneathought” which generally makes a thought-provoking statement about your type. (I’m a 5, in case you’re wondering) I love these thoughts. Most of the time. Sometimes they’re a little too right, if you will, so I don’t love them as much, but they’re always pretty spot on.

Well, the other day I got this one:

Each type tends to “train” others to see them in certain ways. How have you boxed yourself in by training others to see you as an intelligent, perceptive person? What can you do today to reveal a new dimension of yourself to others?

Uhhh, whoa. Have you ever thought about that? I don’t know that I have, not with intentionality (<not a real word) anyways, not with the desire to do anything about it. But it’s true. When I think about what people say to me, what people I barely know say about me, it’s clear I somehow in some way train them to think of me in certain ways.

Honestly I’m not even sure how I do it. And for that reason I don’t know how to even begin showing another dimension of myself to people. Do I have another dimension? In-ter-est-ing. I want to talk more about this, to dig deeper into it, but not here, not with cyber air.

What about you, you may not be a 5, you may not train people to think you’re an intelligent or perceptive person, but what have you trained people to see you as? And more importantly, are you content with it?

(Also, being the obsessive personality geek that I am, I found this funny tumblr “hipster intj” [btw I’m an intj] where this girl takes phrases or things from an intj profile and overlays a ‘hipstery/emo-ish’ photo with them. I think it’s awesome, but maybe that’s an intj thing? ANYways. the images below made me giggle a little [although the first one is generally very true…i can’t get past that background]) 

P.  S.   if you know your Enneagram number or Meyers-Briggs classification PLEASE share. I LOVE knowing my friends’.