making things happen

Warning: These Words are Not Pretty

In case you haven't deduced from our lengthy absences from writing here, my dear friend Miranda and I have been up to our necks in life. Between her graduate school and work duties and my big move, I think I speak for both of us when I say we've been doing good just keeping our heads above water.

When I started this project, I made a promise to be transparent, so here it is: I've been avoiding coming here to share with you all. I've felt ill-equipped to write anything useful because, well, I'm all the things I hope you're not - stressed, anxious, scared - and if I were an innocent bystander right now stopping by to read this blog, I'd probably have a hard time thinking I could put any of these words to work in my life at the present. I've been completely overwhelmed, lacking balance, and definitely not the voice of positivity I pride myself as - and to echo Miranda's last post - I've been telling myself the lies that I'm not enough.

Writing that feels like a punch to the gut, and I can't even believe I'm admitting it on the Internet.

If you've seen my Instagram account, you probably think I'm living the life. Most recently, it's filled with:

  • photos of our trip to Europe alongside my handsome husband
  • pictures of a fun few days in Nashville with some of my dearest friends
  • posts about my time at the spring Making Things Happen conference and how grateful I am to be a part of such a powerful movement

While all those things are true, what you don't see is: 

  • I had a full on internal meltdown my first day in Germany - between severe jet lag, the reality slapping me in the face that I'm moving to a new place where I know no one, and immense frustration with the language barrier, it was the perfect storm. There was blubbering, moments when all I wanted to do was stay in our hotel room and sleep, and severe anxiety. And I almost cried at our first apartment showing when the landlord told us she doesn't allow dogs (don't worry - we found an even better place where sweet Monty will be able to live with us). Yes - we had some good times, but no, it was definitely not the amazing, relaxing vacation that it may have looked like.
  • Nashville was so much fun, and I wouldn't trade time with my best girls for anything. However, we all have A LOT going on in our lives right now - and that's, like, the understatement of the year. Out of respect for their privacy, I won't go into detail - I'll just say that there were a lot of exhausting, emotionally-charged conversations, packed with high highs and low lows, filling the two days we spent together.
  • Making Things Happen is one of the most rewarding experiences I've had the pleasure to be a part of - I'm incredibly passionate about the mission, I love serving on the Encouragement Crew alongside some of my favorite gals to help create a wonderful experience for everyone, and I love that we get to do the hard work right alongside the attendees. But when I say hard work, I mean hard work. Digging below the surface to cultivate a life filled with purpose means wading through a lot of your own crap - and all those fears and insecurities and lies you've told yourself are hard to face. There were lots of feelings and tears and two days coming home that I could barely muster up the energy to have even a simple conversation.

I don't say all of this in hopes that you'll feel sorry for me (that is so not my jam), just like I don't post on Instagram to try to make anyone think I have some fairytale life. And please, for the love, don't think I'm ungrateful, because I fully realize that relatively speaking, my life is not that difficult. 

I say it to let anyone reading this or looking onto my world through the rose-colored windows of social media know that I am broken. I am imperfect. And sometimes, I throw pity parties for myself. I struggle daily with surrendering control and trying to be perfect and putting on a great face and making too many decisions based on what other people might think. And without my faith and my friends and my incredibly patient husband, I honestly have no clue how I would have gotten through the past three weeks. 

I'd probably be huddled up in a corner somewhere rocking back and forth.

So, if you're having a kind of crummy day or a messed up week or are just on a roll of bad circumstances, I'm here to stand with you and fight for you. I'm here to say it's alright to feel sad or angry or just plain irritated. I'm here to encourage you to feel all the feels, then pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep moving forward, little-by-little. I'm here because I don't think you should have to do it alone - find someone who will listen, someone who will pray with and for you and wade through the mess right beside you. Trust that, just like you, we all need people do life with us. All you need to do is ask - write that email, send that text message, pick up the phone.

I'm here for you. I'm rooting for you. And I know we'll make it through the mess together.

Quality and Quantity and Getting the Most Out of Community

Last Friday, I ventured with a group of women to a little cabin in the North Carolina woods for a weekend retreat. The intent was to have a chance to relax and prepare ourselves for a year of conquering the goals ahead of each of us. What we were met with instead was a mountain road covered in ice and snow, a cabin with frozen pipes and no running water (read: no showers or flushable toilets), and nine ladies whose idea of roughing it is having anything below 3G service on a cell phone. 

Cabin in Roaring Gap NC

Life is like that though - even our best laid plans are often met with challenges. How we approach those challenges, though, depends a lot on who we have by our side. Adversity feels much less lonely when we have people to hold our hands through the storm.

When I made a snap decision to attend the Making Things Happen Intensive three years ago after randomly stumbling across this blog, I never could have imagined the ways it would turn my world upside down. I never could have fathomed that the girl who walked into that room in March of 2012 would be molded into the one I see in the mirror today. I couldn't have guessed the tremendous community of people that one decision would have brought into my life.

As I've said before, I always been vocal about thinking quality was more important than quantity when it comes to friends. I limited myself to just a handful of close pals who knew all my life secrets, and I held my cards close when it came to anyone else. I said no to hanging out with new people, instead opting to lay on the couch and watch yet another Grey's Anatomy rerun - not because I needed a time of rest and reflection (good), but because I didn't want to put in the effort and energy to have a real relationship with a someone new (bad). Instead of allowing myself to have a community - a tribe of people who would push me to be the best version of myself - I limited myself to a few good people who couldn't possibly carry all that weight on their own. 

What I didn't realize was that quality and quantity can coexist. 

More and more as of late, I'm reminded of the importance of being in community with others. The importance of inviting people into my home and saying yes to their invitations and picking up the phone instead of sending them to voicemail because I'm just too tired/busy/etc. to talk. The importance of being with people who push me, who challenge me, who love me, who tell the truth even when it makes me mad, who make me laugh, who push me into the unknown - people who are molding me into the best version of myself. And then, being there to do the same for them when the tables are turned.

he funny thing about community is that it happens gradually and hits you all at once. One second you're alone and the next you are surrounded by like-minded individuals who you know you can call "your people." 

Community requires work, but meets you with grace.

It forces you to say "yes" even when you know it would be easier to wallow on your own. 

It asks you to contribute when you're strong and gives when you yourself have nothing to give. 

It surrounds you with love and empathy and encouragement.

And we could all use a little more of that.