Do you have something you regret?  Big or little- minor or severe- most, if not all of us regret something in our lives.  For me, the one thing I always wish I could go back and ‘do over’ was walking away from my family, the church and most of my friends… for a guy.

Now, to be honest, he wasn’t a normal guy.  He was an extremely manipulative, controlling, abusive guy.  And there are times when I thought that no matter what, I wouldn’t have stood a chance.  But I can’t blame everything on him.  I made the decision to be with him.  I made the decision to let him have control over me.  And yes, he was a master manipulator, but the initial decision to be with him was mine and mine alone.

For as much as I desperately want to regret my decisions and all of the time I spent with him and everything I did, I can’t regret it.  Because as terrible and horrible as it was, it taught me so much.  First and foremost, I think I truly for the first time began to understand forgiveness, and unconditional love.

There was so much to forgive after everything that happened.  My parents forgave me more times than I can count.  I had to beg forgiveness from God, my family, my friends.  I had to learn to forgive myself.  And the big one that I’m still struggling with- I had to forgive the guy.

Going through traumatic experiences in life teach you a lot about the person that you are.  It amazes me to hear the stories of people that forgive the killers of their loved ones.  And while my experience may not have been that extreme, I still had a lot of healing and forgiving to do.  And I don’t think that the point of forgiveness is to fix everything and go back to what you had before.  It’s not about letting a situation define you.  It’s about letting it teach you.  Forgiveness is finding healing and strength in the face of things that tear you down and knock you out.  Forgiveness is learning that no matter what a person does to you; their offense is never as bad as the offenses that you’ve committed against God.

That last line, I can’t claim as my own.  Several months ago I went and heard Joyce Meyer speak.  She talked about the characteristics of a perfect heart and for some reason, that line is something that has stuck with me ever since.

Regrets are something we all deal with.  They’re something that we all have the option of.  But why worry about something that is in the past and can’t be changed?  Wouldn’t a better use of time be to figure out what you can learn from the experience and use it?

During this journey, I’ve decided to read through the Bible in a year.  It’s something that I’ve never actually done before and I’m really excited by it.  During just the last few days a culmination of things happened.  And I am convinced that God wants to use this to teach me something, and so I am going to share it with all of you.

The first thing that happened was I read through the story in Genesis of Joseph.  For anyone that doesn’t know- the story is about a boy who found favor in his father’s eye which caused all of his brothers to be jealous.  So jealous in fact- that they thought about killing him.  They didn’t actually go through with the plan however and instead sold Joseph in to slavery.  Crazy you say?  Yes, you read correctly.  They sold their own flesh and blood into slavery.  Talk about jealousy.

Anyway- what happens next, you ask?  Well, you see- Joseph pities himself and gives up.

I’m kidding.  The truth is MUCH more impressive.  Because years go by, and one thing leads to another until Joseph becomes the right hand man of Pharaoh.  As in- ruler of the land.  So here’s Joseph- the man who was sold into slavery and then thrown into jail for a woman accusing him of rape, he interprets the dreams of the ruler of the kingdom that no one else has been able to interpret, and Pharaoh makes him second in command.

Talk about impressive.

Okay- so I read through this story the other day, and it really got me thinking about regrets and circumstances and how God can use all of these things.

Onto the second thing that happened to me.  This morning, I went out to breakfast with a friend.  We were talking about reading the Bible and how sometimes the stories are hard to read, and I mentioned my thoughts on Joseph and how God uses the strangest things for his Glory.  Just like Joseph.  We talked a little bit about how it always seems to amaze us- the way God uses people.

The third thing that happened to me also happened this morning.  And here’s the kicker- and why I’m convinced I need to be writing about this right now.  Sitting in church this morning, my dad is talking about how God gives us all opportunities to shape us.  He mentioned David and Goliath.  How David had been faithful to God before Goliath.  In fact, the Bible says that David killed both a lion and a bear to protect the sheep that he was entrusted with.  He learned to stare danger and adversity in the face and attack it head on.  He had been faithful in those areas.  God knew that David would be faithful again.

And then, my dad mentioned Joseph.  Oh Joseph.  This guy is starting to seem like a real pal to me these last few days.  (And hey, as a sidenote- this is my year without a man…. I’m not supposed to be giving men this much thought… even ones that lived thousands of years ago).  Anyway- Pastor (it sounds more official than ‘dad’) talked about Joseph and all of the things that he faced in his life.  His own flesh and blood sold him, a woman accused him of rape, he was thrown in jail where the jailer gave him responsibility over everyone in there, and then once he had used the opportunity that God had given him, God gave him another one.

Life is all about opportunities.  Sometimes it’s hard to see them when we’re so focused on all of the things that we think are going wrong in our lives.  And yeah, I’m sure Joseph had some hard times.  I’m sure he had some days where he didn’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning.  But that doesn’t mean he didn’t make the most of the opportunities he was given.

For me, this year is an opportunity to focus on things outside of me.  It’s a time to take opportunities, no matter what shape they make take.  I’m not sure I’ll take it quite as far as Jim Carrey’s character in Yes Man, where he HAS to say YES to EVERY opportunity that comes before him, but we’ll see.  If the opportunities are from God, than who am I to say no?

Besides, if I’m faithful with the little ones, who knows what’s just around the bend.

Be brave,

P.S.  It’s my birthday today.  Leave me a little note? You’re all the best! ❤


Somebody To Love

I spent another week mostly treading water.  I got up, went to work and came home.  I made dinner, I ate alone, I went to bed.  I spent another week mostly treading water.  And hiding.

I’m not sure exactly what it is I am hiding from, but the truth is the same.  You know, it’s easy to put on a brave face- to say to the whole world “I don’t need a man to be happy, I’m fine on my own.”  And sometimes, it’s just as easy to fool yourself.

I know in my head that I don’t need a man to be happy, but that doesn’t change the ache in my heart for love.

This week, I was cleaning out my emails and I came across a letter that I wrote to my parents several years ago.  And looking back over it, reading the words that I expressed to them, I could see how lost and broken I was back then.  I could remember the hurt and the pain that I felt, that I caused them to feel.  I can remember how it felt to hide from them.  I remember lying to the two people who never stopped loving me out of fear that they might.

It’s so much different now.  I’m amazed at how much my life has changed.  But in the very deepest part of my soul, I know that I’m still hiding.

I’m hiding from the person that I want to be, and the person that God created me to be.  I get up in the morning, I go to work, I come home.  And all the while, I feel like I’m hiding from the world, from the person that I am supposed to be.

See, the truth is- I know that there are people in this world that love and care for me.  I know that God has a life planned and mapped out for me.  And I know that somewhere down the road, I could do incredible things.  But what about right now?

The last relationship that I was in ended 7 weeks ago today.  And for a while I missed him.  But you know what I realized I miss now, even more than I miss him?  I miss the person that I was when I was with him.  With him I felt brave and beautiful.  I felt adventurous and precious and loved.  With him I felt special- like I could do anything.  He gave me strength and courage and determination and I felt like with him all of my dreams could come true.

And seven weeks ago today, he ended it.

Sometimes I wonder how you can mean so much to a person, and then one day, just stop.  I mean, it’s not like I went anywhere.  He still knows where to find me, and he said he wanted to be friends.  And yes, I understand that ‘being friends’ never really truly happens.  But how do you wake up one morning and just stop caring?

With him, my favorite part of the day was 8:00 a.m.  Because even though we had distance between us, every morning we would text each other just to say I love you.  Just to say ‘have a great day today’.  Every morning those messages set the tone for my entire day, if for no other reason than knowing that someone out there was thinking about me at the exact same time I was thinking about them.

I’ve never been good at letting go.  My life has been characterized by my failure to let go.  My best friend in high school, my life with a controlling boyfriend, friends that I’ve lost touch with.  So, it comes as no surprise to myself that I still hold this close to my heart.  I’m not saying that it will always be this way.  In fact, the days are fewer and further between that my heart aches this way.  But it’s hard knowing that your love for someone wasn’t enough.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing photographer.  And I think there is a real possibility that working with him could make a lot of my photography dreams come true.  I showed him some of my work, and he seemed thoroughly impressed and has agreed to take me on as a sort of apprentice.  The good news is, I have my first gig with him tomorrow.

The bad news is I have never felt worth it.  I am beginning to realize more and more that my own self worth is almost nil.  In fact, the reason that I even started this journey was to begin to teach myself to find worth in who I am, instead of always identifying myself by the guy that I date.  Because until I can learn to love and respect myself, how can I expect to do the same to anyone else?  And how can I expect anyone to love and respect me?

The first three weeks of my journey haven’t been exactly easy.  They’ve mostly been spent in hiding.  Hiding from the world and hiding from the person that I am.  The truth is there are things about myself that I need to change.  But there are also things about myself that are good, that I like (maybe even things that I love).

Tomorrow, out on this photography gig, I am forcing myself out of hiding.  The witness protection program phase is over.  I am searching out ways to make a difference.  To get out of the house and stop hiding.  If God can love me for who I am, the incredible mess, all of the mistakes (for he sees everything after all) then maybe I should give myself a shot.

Be brave,

Alone Vs. Lonely

Have you ever had a day that was just horrible from start to finish?  A day when you felt so alone that all you wanted to do was wallow in it?  I don’t have these days often, but yesterday was definitely one of those days for me.  It came following a long, stressful week of work, and personal trouble that just hit one thing after another all week long.  And despite attempting to make the best of it, Friday just really hit me hard and all I wanted to do was sit at home and wallow in the fact that I wasn’t just alone- I was lonely.

Loneliness isn’t something that visits me often, despite the fact that I am often alone.  I have always thought of myself as an introvert- drawing energy and calm from being alone.  But I’ve recently discovered something about myself.  It’s much easier to be an introvert surrounded by people, than to be an introvert in the house all alone.

Several years ago now, I dated a guy.  I won’t go into all of the horrible details (the ‘cancer’ relationship I mentioned last time)- but the point is that we lived together in a place that was 400 miles away from my family and friends.  During that time, he was really the only person that I had.  And despite being with him every single day, all I wanted on a daily basis was to be alone.  I always felt like I was missing my ‘alone’ time.

Skip ahead a little bit.  I moved home (and not just to my hometown… I’m talking after seven years of being ‘on my own’ I moved back in with my parents).  I’m not resentful of this decision, the truth is very much on the contrary.  It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.  It allowed me to get the perspective and distance that I needed in order to start healing.  And it also gave me something that I had for so long desperately craved.  It gave me a chance to be my own person.  To do my own thing.  Alone.

And even though I was around my family, I still had the ability to coop myself up in my bedroom with a movie or book.  I could do anything and everything I wanted behind my closed door.  And even though I was alone- I wasn’t really alone.  I was still in a house full of people.  Oddly enough, it made being an introvert that much easier.  I still had that daily connection with people that love me, and people that I love.

Last summer my parents bought a house.  In November I moved in to that house as a tenant.  And while I do enjoy the time that I get to spend by myself doing my own thing, sometimes it gets lonely.  Not always, but sometimes.

It makes me reminisce about my best friend in high school.  Have you ever noticed how the most quiet girls always seem to make friends with people who are crazy and offbeat and incredibly LOUD?  Well that was me in high school.  My best friend was crazy and wacky and pulled me from my shell more than she will ever know.  For anyone that has read (or seen the movies) Anne of Green Gables, she was my bosom friend.  The one person in the world that I could tell anything to- no judgment.  And sure, we had our arguments, what hormonal teenage girlfriends don’t?  But at the end of the day, she was as close as a sister, and I would have done anything for her.

That’s not to say that she was my only friend in high school, because I had a wide circle of friends back then.  Even in college, I made some amazing friends.  But as we grow up and move on- as our lives change and circumstances change- sometimes we lose touch along the way.

And ever since I moved ‘home’, friends are something that I have been severely lacking.  I don’t admit this to elicit pity, because that’s just not me.  But as a general rule it seems like people after college meet in one of two places, work and bars.

My workplace isn’t exactly conducive to meeting people my age and the bar scene isn’t really mine.

So where does that leave me?

Especially when my main interests are reading and writing.  Not exactly big friendship builders there.  Not when you live in a small town and go to a small church with an almost nonexistent young adult population.  There’s not much in the way of book clubs or writing groups- both of which I have looked into starting in the past and couldn’t generate the interest.

BUT! That’s very soon going to change (I hope).  Of the young adults that ARE in my church, along with some other interested people and my dad (who is a pastor… I don’t think I’ve mentioned that yet… anywho!) we are starting a young adult thing.  I only call it a thing because I honestly feel like it is going to be so much more than a church service, although that is the initial plan.  I really want it to become this massive group of young adults that do more than just hang out at bars (which will not be on the itinerary).  And it excites me because in my normal day to day life, I really don’t have a ton of interaction with people my age, and I’ve grown to just have this ache for it.  For that sense of community, for the relationships.  I don’t necessarily miss high school or college, but I miss what they do.  I miss the community of diverse people that those places bring together.

That kind of brings me back to my whole alone vs lonely thing.  Because I have an incredibly hard time believing that just because I am single means that I should be lonely.  And as I said before, it’s not something that I feel very often, but when it hits me, it seems to be like a punch to the gut- stealing my breath and my resolution to do much more than wallow.

I think that part of the reason why it is so hard to distinguish between alone and lonely is that we were never really meant for either.  In the Bible one of the very first things God said about men was “It is not good for man to be alone.”  And so, out of Adam he created Eve.  And there they were- the very first love story.

Down through the years family relationships have changed dramatically.  It used to be that a woman would live at home until she was married.  And often even after she was married the family ‘clans’ all lived close to one another.  Women cooked and baked and sewed and had all of these bonding activities to do together on a daily basis.  Women back then did everything together.  They had that closeness, that bonding.  And then somewhere over the last 100 years all of that changed.  Women started leaving home during adolescence.  Going to college and having jobs outside the house.  There was a dynamic shift in gender roles.  Women became progressive.  We became strong.  We became ‘equal’.

And while there is nothing wrong with equality (trust me, I have no desire to revert our society back to what it was in earlier centuries) we as women have lost something along the way.  Remember when I said that we as women have an intense desire to have another person ‘get’ us in a real and deep way?  Well, why does that person have to be a man?

Let’s be honest here for a moment.  There are jokes and songs and movies up the wazoo about how men just don’t ‘get’ women.   You’ve got:

What Women Want
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

A woman is mystery
A man just can’t understand
Sometimes all it takes to please her
Is the touch of your hand
And other times you gotta take it slow
And hold her all night long
Heaven knows there’s so many ways
A man can go wrong
-Billy Currington ‘Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right

Men, on the whole don’t understand what makes us tick.  They don’t understand the mood swings or the emotions.  They can’t comprehend the desire to be thought of as beautiful, or why we change our minds and our hairstyles so frequently (which I sometimes don’t even understand myself, to be honest).

But where does it say that a man has to be a woman’s everything?  Why does he have to be her husband/boyfriend and also best friend, confidant, lover, therapist?  When we rely on one person for so much, it’s no wonder they don’t understand what we want half the time.  No person can fill all of those roles all of the time without a mistake here and there.

But having someone to lean on, a ‘partner’ throughout life, is definitely something that can be achieved.  But not without a little help from our friends.  As women, we need to learn to trust our female friends.  We need to be careful what information we give out to people.  We have to invest our time in people, but that doesn’t always include giving them our hearts.

And this is the problem that I have always seemed to have in the past.  When it comes right down to it, despite the fact that the Bible tells us to guard our hearts, it is something that I so infrequently do.  I’m not talking about being overly emotional (although I am that too often) I’m talking about letting the walls down for every person that shows an interest.  And those walls can be physical, or they can be emotional.  I think a major problem in our society today is not only that women so freely give their bodies away, but also that they so freely give their hearts.

The heart of a woman is sacred and special.  It deserves to be cherished and protected with as much fervor as her body.  There is a reason that our hearts are tender.  We shouldn’t let society and enemies and hate harden our hearts, because if we do that, we lose something so special.  In Matthew 5, Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Being alone isn’t an excuse to give ‘the goods’ away for free.  And again, this applies to physical and emotional goods.  In the past, I would definitely categorize myself as someone that holds on too much, I invest far too much into people that don’t return my affections.  I give my heart when I should guard it.  And in the end, I get a broken heart and a feeling of such intense loneliness, that I don’t think anything will ever be the same again.  And while the feeling dissipates, there is always a part of me that misses that person.  Maybe that’s what this year is really about for me.  Not only just taking a break from men, but finding a way to guard my heart through a sea of uncertainty.  Because not every story has to end in heartbreak.  But somehow, I always manage to let it be that way.  So here’s to a year of being on guard.

Touché!  (yeah yeah, lame I know.  That’s just me. Nerd and all.)

Be brave,

For The First Time

On Monday this week I got a tooth pulled.  Although I didn’t initially search out some sort of corrolation to being single, it kind of hit me dead on as I was sitting in the dentist chair.  Breaking up is a lot like surgery.  Some surgeries are necessary.  They’re required to keep people alive.  Some are to remove ‘dead weight’ and others are to replace vital organs.  Some surgeries are ones of convenience in order for us to look or feel better.  But the end result is always the same.  Big or little- they always end in a healing period.  The bigger surgeries, much like the bigger break-ups, take a long time for the wound to heal.  It may require therapy, or staying in bed for a few days.  The end result may be a change in diet or exercise.
The ‘surgery’ that I had on Monday wasn’t necessary.  Maybe someday it would have been, but for now, they did it to keep me from any more pain in the future.  I thought about it later that day.  The dull ache that I felt after the surgery that wasn’t necessary, but pre-emptive.  Maybe it was more like my break-up than I thought.  The pain that I felt was minimal- in fact, the dentist told me that the tooth had come out easily, and they weren’t even going to have to stitch it up. Similarly, my last break up, although painful, was over easily and I was back to my day to day life quickly.
I know this is not the way of all break ups.  In fact, my previous relationship was more like going through cancer treatments considering all the damage that was done- but that’s another story.  But sometimes these relationships ending serve to push us toward something new, something better.  It’s been several days now since my tooth was pulled- and I still feel that dull ache.  The faint throbbing that tells me that something is missing.  Maybe missing is the wrong word.  It tells me that something had once been there, and isn’t anymore.  That’s why I think it’s okay to miss people that have gone from our lives.  Even though they once felt like they belonged, in the long run it’s possible that having them there would have done more harm than good.
Anyway- that’s all I’ve got.  Now that I think about it, it’s a little cheesy that I’m using something like having a tooth pulled as an analogy for a break-up.  But there it is.  I felt like it was something I needed to write- if only just so that I would stop thinking about it. 
I’ve got my 2 books picked out for January, and I’m currently in the middle of both of them.  My selections as well as my ‘reviews’ of them so far are coming up soon!! 
Be Brave,

If This Was A Movie

You know those cliché movie scenes where the favorite couple breaks up and the girl is driving home all broken hearted- but when she rounds the bend to her house, the guy is standing there waiting?  Ok, well maybe they don’t happen exactly like that, but you get the gist.  Just when the girl thought she was going to be alone and that the love of her life doesn’t feel the same- suddenly there he is- waiting.  I guess my point is this- have you ever wondered “why isn’t my life like that?”  Come on girls- we’ve all thought it about one movie or another.  But here’s the kicker- real life isn’t like the movies.  Real life is messy.  It’s broken hearts and broken homes.  Its unemployment and family illness and you can never tie up all the loose ends in a 2 hour span.

I used to be that girl.  The one who drives home with the small flicker of ‘will he be there waiting for me?’  I used to dream of the romantic comedy chance meeting- the falling in love with a perfect stranger over an ‘accidental’ meeting of fate.  I used to hope for a two hour neatly tied up ending.  And I say used to because I’m not that girl anymore.  Or at least, I don’t want to be.  That girl is a waiter.  She waits for the chance encounter with the handsome stranger.  She watches the ideal fantasies of often love deprived writers who create characters that have the romance and adventure that they crave.  And yes- love stories do still happen.  But the hard truth is- waiting gets you no where.  Waiting= never going to have a part in any sort of story like that.

And that’s why I’m not that girl anymore.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about women in society today.  More specifically, why it is that so many of us think that we need a man to be happy.  And more over why we measure ourselves by how men see us.  We’re supposed to be thin, but not too thin.  Trendy but without caring too much about it.  Successful but not more successful than him.  Beautiful but not fake.  Cook and clean.  Need him but not be clingy.  Sensitive but not overly emotional.  We have to do jobs twice as well as men to get half the recognition- or it’s said that we’re sleeping our way to the top.  And on top of all of that we have to be willing to give it all up in bed but not too soon or with too many people.  We have to do all of these things just to be recognized by society’s standards and to what end?  So that a guy can grace us with his presence until he finds someone younger/skinnier/smarter/blonder?  Why do we hold ourselves to such a double standard?

I know I may sound bitter, and that’s really not my intention.  I just don’t understand why we as women continue to torture ourselves to fit some mold.  To be something that we’re not.  To hide the true feelings and needs of our souls and to repress it so far that our only escape are these romantic movies that only briefly sate an unquenchable thirst.

Why do women love romance movies so much?  Because we all ache for another person to ‘get’ us in some deep way.

Personally, I think it’s the same reason we all go for bad boys.  Because even though we know they’ll break our hearts in the end, the brief explosion of passion and romance gives us the chance to feel like the women in all those romantic movies that we idolize.  There’s something in our souls that longs for romance and adventure and passion.  And those things so often seem to come at the expense of the bad boy jerks who tend to love and leave.

I’m reminded of one of those cheesy ABC Family movies I insist on torturing myself with where one of the characters says something to the effect of “You can change everything about a relationship except the most important thing- fate.” For some reason, all those other relationships that I’ve tried have failed.  And there’s a line of thinking that says that someday in the future, I’ll meet the guy that will show me why.  But that doesn’t change the now.  It doesn’t change the fact that until that person comes along, I have to be somebody.  I can’t just be the ghost of a person who goes through her day to day actions just hoping that she sparks some guy’s interest.  Because as far as lives go, that one’s pretty pathetic.

Going back to the past for a moment, I just want to say this.  No matter how good you thought things were or how perfect you thought the guy was for you, God has other plans.  If you think that I don’t understand that this is a hard concept to grasp when you’re elbow deep in Ben & Jerry’s and snotty tissues- I promise you, I get it.  But what if the heartbreak was preparing you for something?  And I don’t just mean the cliché ‘you have to know the bad to appreciate the good’ although that is applicable as well.  But what if it was preparing you for this time.  Right now.

That guy (the one in my past and yours) was great for a reason.  What did he teach you?  Maybe to stand up for yourself?  Maybe he taught you how to laugh again, or how to enjoy the little things- how to motivate yourself to do something you never imagined.  And because of that you have the strength to be exactly where and who you are right now, today.

God pinpointed today on his map of your life.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now.  It’s up to you to figure out why.


Be brave,

Hey, Soul Sister

In my day to day life, I tend to pride myself on being on time.  For job interviews I’m always 15 minutes early.  Doctors appointments are the same way.  I’m consistently in the parking lot at work 3 minutes before I’m supposed to be there.  I hate feeling like I have to rush anywhere to be on time.  And I REALLY hate being late.  I avoid it at all costs.

It should be no wonder then, that watching friends and family grow up, get engaged, married and start families while I am still single, has been difficult for me.  I always thought that my life would follow the same general course of events as my parents.  I would meet a guy in college, get married and have kids by the time I was in my mid twenties.  And now as I’m staring down the barrel of my 26th birthday and have only been in one (short) relationship in the last several years, I am met with mixed feelings.  Because despite being on this journey of finding myself I’ve often felt like I’m running late.  That my life isn’t where it is supposed to be.  And while it may be foolish to think that I am running out of time, my mind inevitably goes there with every wedding invitation or baby announcement that comes in the mail.

And so, my feelings of running behind and missing out on life only add to the boy-crazy inherently in me and cause major problems.  My mind tells me that I’m behind, that my life was supposed to be different, things weren’t supposed to happen this way.  And I get frustrated and impatient and I want to make things happen before their time.

But none of this changes the fact that in 2010 the average age of women getting married was 26 years old.  Obviously there is something in today’s culture that is hinting at (or maybe shoving me towards) my desire to settle down.  And while that is a goal that I have for my future, I have decided that I am taking 2012 off.  I am not worrying about things like that.  My ‘break-up’ with boys is something that needs time to settle into my bones.  I have to learn to be okay with just being me down to the core.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the reaction that I have gotten from people in my life since beginning this journey.  Because even though I officially ‘started’ it only 2 days ago, I have been thinking and praying over it for about a month now.  Everyone I have talked to has been amazingly supportive, but I have to admit- I was nervous about telling my parents.

On Saturday (New Years Eve) I went shopping with my mom.  I got in the car and looked at her and said “I have something I have to tell you.”  She got that nervous ‘uh oh’ look that I’m sure moms everywhere would recognize.  I explained to her (with a little crying) that I was tired of being this girl who measures her worth based on what guys think.  I told her about my reasons for wanting to do this and even though I knew she would support me in it, I was afraid to tell her.  The ‘always waiting’ girl inside me was scared to talk about it.  Because talking about it with Mom meant that it was real.  I could tell anyone else and it would just be an idea, but Mom made it tangible.  It went from being this far away ‘maybe’ of a thought to an actual plan, and that scared the crap out of me.

During the course of my conversation with my mom, she asked me one serious, thought provoking question.  “Why a year?”

I have actually thought long and hard about that question since she and I talked.  And here’s what I’ve come up with. A year is enough time to be a challenge, but also long enough to make it stick.  It would be easy for me to say “I’m taking a month off.”  Or even two months.  But would I really see the changes that I want to see in myself?  Will I really give myself the time I need to heal, to fix the broken pieces inside me and find a way back to the girl I could be?  I don’t think I would.

But a year… 12 months, 366 days.  It’s long enough to keep myself from making excuses (which I’m extremely good at).  It’s long enough to see a change in myself.  My goal isn’t to force myself away from guys.  In fact, my goal has very little to do with men at all.  On the contrary, it’s about learning to love myself.  Learning to BE myself BY myself FOR myself.  Men may come and go… but I’m stuck with myself for life.  If there is anyone in this world I need to learn to love, it’s me.

And so, this is my great unveiling of my ‘bucket list’ for the year.  Below is my list of 25 things that I want to accomplish before Dec 31, 2012.  And the accomplishments are just for me.  Through them, I hope to become the person I’m meant to be.  And I hope to discover just how much that girl can be loved.

  1. Get and stay right with God.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”
  2. Lose 25 lbs
  3. Get a tattoo
  4. Take a roadtrip
  5. Take a class (photography/cooking)
  6. Spend a day at the best spa you can afford
  7. Have photos taken of you that you actually like
  8. Evolve your look
  9. Finish story (I’ve been stuck in the middle of it for a year already)
  10. Build and stick to a budget
  11. Learn how to spend TIME wisely
  12. Volunteer
  13. Buy yourself flowers, just because
  14. Invest in a Little Black Dress
  15. Buy something frivolous and expensive that you LOVE wearing.
  16. Host a girls-only night
  17. Purchase a decent piece of furniture not previously owned by a family member
  18. Dress up just because
  19. Plan a summer concert tour- even if it’s just a short one
  20. Be spontaneous (day, weekend, who knows!)
  21. Create.  2 craft projects a month
  22. Purge.  Spring clean every room in the house.
  23. Yard Sale/Flea Markets on weekends.  Give old things new life.
  24. Read. 2-3 books/month
  25. Take pictures. Everywhere.

I’m not claiming it will be easy.  I’m not claiming it will always be fun (okay, the spa thing will be fun), but it is something that is necessary.  There’s a lot of year left and huge list of things to do!

Be brave,

All The Single Ladies

I know that New Years is often about making changes or resolutions.  Unfortunately, most of the time, it seems like the changes don’t stick.  We crash diet and buy gym memberships.  We give up coffee or sugar or swearing.  We always have good intentions.  And somewhere along the line, we lose sight of what we wanted when we made the resolution.  We slip up.  We give in.  We decide, consciously or subconsciously, that the changes we wanted to make aren’t worth it.

I’ve never been much of one for resolutions.  But something about this year is different. For the first time in my life,  I took a good, long look at myself- and I can honestly say, I didn’t like what I saw.

I’m not talking physically, although there is definite room for improvement there.  My problem is more than skin deep.  Because in my entire adult life, I can’t remember a time when I’ve been happy being single.  And so, this year is different.  I’m not making a resolution; I’m not feeding into the good intentions that will inevitably lead back to my past self within two weeks.  This time around, I’m making a lifestyle change.  I’m choosing a different path.  I’m creating a new me.

Let’s start with the basics and go from there.  Call it a man detox, call it a hiatus or a cleanse.  Regardless of what you call it here it is:  366 days (2012 is a leap year after all) of simply no men.

The Rules

  1. No Dating
  2. No Relationships
  3. No Dating Sites
  4. No flirting with the intention of dating
  5. Nothing physical (kissing, cuddling, etc.)
  6. No ‘future’ relationship talk
  7. No boy behavior dissecting (except what is needed for this blog)

The Background

When I was in high school, I would have categorized myself as boy crazy.  I’m not sure if I was normal boy crazy, or a different category of boy crazy- but I can recall specific instances of obsessive behavior that makes the current me shudder.  Before cell phones and Twitter and Facebook and texting, my friends and I would sit in class and write each other notes,

fold them into wacky- origami like shapes, and pass them to each other in the halls between classes.

Most of those notes were about different boys that we liked.  Somehow, we consistently found pages and pages worth of information to discuss and dissect every single day about these boys.  Some of it was legitimately worth the hype over which we gave it, but for the most part, we spent our time overanalyzing the tiniest things that the respective boys in our lives probably weren’t even aware they were doing, or were simply doing out of friendship.

Over the subsequent years, I thought that this behavior had dissipated.  In fact, for a while, I thought that the longing that I felt to be in a lasting relationship- the urge to get married and have kids and a life and a family was something normal and natural.  But in truth, what I felt for all this time was that I was waiting for my life to begin.  I lived in a constant state of single and looking- or of dating and fantasizing about the years to come.  And through all the heartache and first dates and crush hazes I never realized how miserable I was just being single.  I never realized that I was sitting so eagerly on the sidelines watching everyone else live their lives instead of embracing the person I was as a single and getting out there and doing all of the things that I’ve always wanted to do in my life.

In April of 2011, during a particularly ‘lonely and looking’ time in my life, I had an idea for a story.  The basic line follows three friends in varying states of relationship drama who decide to make a pact and take 90 days to do everything they always said they wanted to do before they settled down.  During these 90 days they would be boy free.  No drama, no dating, no flirting, nothing.  It was a challenge for them to prove to themselves that they didn’t need a man to be happy.  (I know, I know, can you say foreshadowing?)

Anyway- the story writing was interrupted by my quitting one job and searching for another and then put on indefinite hiatus when something incredible happened.  I met a guy.  And let me tell you- this guy was amazing.  Because despite all of the crazy man drama that I have had in the past (and trust me, I’m sure you’ll learn about some of it here) I finally found a good, decent guy who was interested in me.  The following six months of pure bliss that I felt with this guy made me forget all about the fact that I was trying to find a way to be happy without a man.  He was everything I wanted in a guy.  I thanked God for this man every day.  I finally felt like my fairy tale ending was coming true.  And then one day it was over.  Just as quickly and as beautifully as it began, it was all gone.

And I wanted to be devastated.  I wanted to sit in my room for days and cry and yell at God and just be miserable.  But I wasn’t.  The decision that he made completely changed the course of my life as I had imagined it.  But it didn’t end my life.  It wasn’t the end of my world.  And in fact, things stayed pretty much the same for me.  God gave me peace and strength that I’ve never felt before.  I got up in the morning, I went to work.  I did all the things I had done in a regular day and I knew for the first time almost immediately following a break up, that I was going to be okay.

In talking with a friend who knew about the story idea, I mentioned in passing that I was thinking about taking a year off from men.  Her reaction was this:  “your mind came up with that story idea for a reason”.  The more I thought about it, the more a man fast appealed to me.

The Now

I know I’m not the only person out there that has these feelings.  The above clip proves that I’m not the only one.  I’m starting this blog, not for attention, but in attempts to reach out to others like me.  Women who are desperate for their lives to start.  Women who have been waiting for a guy to come along and make them happy.  Women who have been sitting on the bench waiting.  Our waiting needs to stop.  This blog is my attempt to discover how great life can be as a single.  Part self help, part humor, part nostalgia- this is my attempt to find the real me.  The me that God sees lurking behind all the pain and heartbreak and fear.  One year is my goal.  366 days of not focusing on finding a life partner, but instead doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do and always put off.  A year of healing and self discovery has just begun.

Stay tuned for more.  Next up is my ‘bucket list’.  25 Things that I want to do during my year of singleness!

To all the women out there like me,
Be Brave,

*Thanks to Kayla for editing the video clip.