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Over eight years ago we bought our Faithful House. I wrote about this on my blog … about how this house taught me about weary bones and being brought back from the brink of the edge. How I felt, driving aimlessly around our town looking for a home we could afford to purchase, that this home would hold something so essential, so completely life giving to our family that I could trust God. That what I had dreamed of, what I had heard in the whispers of my soul – I hadn’t made up. I hadn’t heard wrong.

This house was our Faithful House. God is faithful. These walls, this foundation, this fertile ground we grew up and out of – it bore so much fruit in our lives. Memories and being woven together as a family and sleepovers and friendships and the gift of hosting. We’ve shared this home with so many people, whom we love, this house knit us back together after the storm of life ravaged our hearts. This home held us together through life crises and helped me flip decades from 20’s to 30’s. This house was a dream maker, a hospice for our souls. And we have loved her so much.

In April of 2020 we made a list of the Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves for a new home in my journal. We very much wanted to buy an existing home that we could do some (not a ton of structural) work to. We wanted the same amount of yard, or more, and more room inside the home. The kids each got to give us their input and then we kind of laughed at each other and were like, what now?

I’ll tell you: months of looking. Seeing every home we thought might fit the bill, our rock star Realtor was always available. We started looking at land to build, because, as it turns out, we were very serious about moving. But we started to feel weary in the search. It’s definitely a sellers market, so homes we would look at inevitably had multiple offers within days. We were ready, but we just couldn’t justify any of them as the place we wanted to fight for.

I had to wrestle all kinds of demons about what it meant to find the house we wanted, if I was “allowed” to have a home like this or if we “deserved” it.

But now it’s time to move. So we sold this faithful house. In a whirlwind 29 hours from listing to signatures. The house we bought is another blank slate that we can’t wait to pour into.

Since I can remember, I’ve never pictured my life beyond the age of 36. That was just the number for me. My mom’s life changed dramatically for her at age 36 – and I think it just stuck with me. If I can make it to 36, I’ll have lived. We’ll be closing on our new home days away from my 37th birthday. God. He writes the most beautiful stories.

He let me do it all. He let me write life lists and cross off items as if I was the author of it. He let me have my babies, and He let me heal from the pain of my past. He let me have a beautiful marriage and a man who never saw anything but beauty in my mess. He let me go, and watched with wrapt interest in my love for this world as I came running back to Him, enamored with what I saw. What I had learned. He held me as I wept over loss and healed my broken pieces with compassion and understanding. He never told me I did it wrong, He never told me not to. He waited for me to walk – and then He went with me. EVERYWHERE. God. He writes the most beautiful stories.

This new home is the home my children with leave from. They’ll leave as adults, carrying their wounds, accomplishments, their tender hearts and their future hopes and dreams.

They’ll leave my nest and return to me a beautiful creature in flight.

Thats what this new home is.

It’s next.

Right, so. I’m a 5 on the enneagram. Let’s dive in.

I was thinking today about my enneagram number as I was listening to podcasts to better understand my type, my wing and my subtype … I’m a 5W4 (sexual) for those of you who might know what that means and yes, I’m as bothered by the subtype name as you are. I don’t think I’ll ever shake someones hand and admit that I’m a Sexual Type 5 on the enneagram with a 4 wing. That sounds … off.

I digress, because the reason I was even listening to hours and hours of conversation about this is because tomorrow I’m being interviewed about being a type 5. Which of course means I need to know everything there is to know about it so I can do it justice when asked.

Here’s what I learned and loved: I am very shotgun-shy in conversation because I need more time than most to respond thoughtfully. A Type 5 will often look up or away (or up and away) when asked questions because we’re going through all our mental files, or tabs, to best formulate our response. I do this all.the.time in conversation, and I’m aware of it and very self conscious about it. I do much better with long hand communication. Writing (emails and messages – not over text) because I don’t have expectancy or social pressure to perform.

(Aaron is an 8W7 on the enneagram and one of the things I am constantly impressed with his how fast he is. In response, in conversation, in mental capacity. He’s like the roadrunner. When I’m in a healthy mental space and have habits of rest in my life – I operate like an 8, I can be very quick in all the same ways, but this is something I’m always in awe of about Aaron.)

I’m almost 50/50 with my Type 5 and Type 4 but I dominate in the 5 space because of the beliefs as a child (fear of being incompetent, called stupid etc.) which I live with to this day. This is my biggest fear and her cousin is abandonment (which is the 4 fear).

I’m a very private person, so this space on the internet has always confounded people. However, I’m always alone when I’m writing. It’s just me and my keyboard – this is the most free place for me. It’s how I process, how I feel, how I know my emotions are real.

Like most Type 5’s; I don’t ask for help because being self sufficient is a core value of mine. I do not need anyone else, I will carry myself and I will be autonomous.

I’m not a negative person, by nature, I’m a cautious one who has learned how to say yes and wants adventure. But I always start with the negative. You want a memory of mine? Here are the bad ones … we have to unearth this before I can understand the good ones. There is such a ying and yang in me that I don’t know how else to put this: I do not experience joy without knowing true sorrow.

It’s not a rule I was taught, not something that was modeled for me. It’s not a belief I developed, it just is. This is just the process for me. I will get to the joy – and there is so much joy – but first I have to see the underbelly. I have to know WHY there’s joy. I have to see her receipts.

I’ve really struggled with the enneagram, am I a 4? Am I a seven? I wouldn’t describe myself as anxious, but thats only because I’ve been this way my entire life – I don’t know another way. So, am I a 6? I’m well prepared for almost everything. But I don’t do the avarice with information like all the material talks about for a 5. I have areas of interest that I understand many facets of, but I want to share those things, not keep them to myself.

If I do hoard – it’s resources, mainly my time. I am very, very picky with how I spend my time, with few exceptions. My family (Aaron and my kids) have full access to me, all the time. They are where I spend my energy first, even if I’m already on reserve. They get to bankrupt me (and, honestly, they often do) but this is my gift to them. I will give them all of me, even when nothing is left. They get me first.

I hoard ideas and secrets, but not the ones you trust me with. More like – the end of this street is the most peaceful view of Lake Michigan. I won’t advertise this (or I’ll delete it soon after if I do) because those nuggets are mine.

Because I’m so comfortable being alone, being silent, being with myself … I don’t waste a lot of time thinking about what other people think of me. Do I want to be liked? Yes. Do I want to be invited? Of course I do. But without invitation, I’m already happy with myself.

Like most 5’s, I’m different in that I am social, or when I am comfortable with you – I share easily. I WANT to be known but I will not advertise this. I’ve shared very sacred parts of my story with a lot of people – but the ticket is that I was the one sharing it. If you hear my story second hand and then come to me for confirmation, fuck off.

I am not here to serve as your ATM of information on my life nor will I be the access you desire to your own thoughts and feelings. I have exercised my capacity in this way for many relationships and they always end. Some end badly, others just end. Either way, they end. Because I can’t see my way out of being someone else’s access to themselves, or myself … and I don’t have the capacity to carry anyone but myself. (Exception is my own family, who again, breaks all the rules and is allowed to.)

My pet peeves are incompetence or people who waste my time. I know this is starting to sound very 5-ish and I own this part of me. I am not down with surprises, the worst thing you could do to me is invite me to do something and then hours before said event surprise me with new details or other people. I need (and I’m serious) all the information first. Who’s going to be there? Is this a group thing, just you and I? Will I be expected to perform?

I prefer one on one conversations or very small, previously agreed upon gatherings. I can, and have, stepped in to leadership roles but I much prefer pulling the strings behind the curtain. I will prop you up to do your best and if you could just whisper how much you appreciate me, that’ll do.

I read all the time. I consume a shitton of information but I have access to my feelings about it. I’m generally being an anthropologist on my own experience and welcome conversation about it. I’m constantly confused about people who don’t choose authenticity.

Watching movies and listening to music are the number one ways to get me to unleash the emotions I’m working hard to avoid, this is why I prefer documentaries or, unless I’m well rested, cannot handle live shows of any kind. Dance, especially. I am 100% emotional and all it takes to unlock me is someone on a stage doing what they were made to do. I am undone at this. This is the ultimate beauty for me.

I’m not divorced from my body, like most 5’s. In fact, being Type 1 Diabetic doesn’t lend me this escape, I am constantly thinking about my body. But if I could see her through another lens, maybe? Ask her what she needs or how she wants to move, instead of performing the task of taking care of her? I could move from my head to my heart about her … and this is the work I’m currently doing.

Are you new to the enneagram? Do you know your number?? I’d love to hear from fellow 5’s! Are you out there?

March 17 // Coronavirus Quarantine Day 2

March 17, 2020

We got this. We can do this. Yesterday was … how do you say … hard. I think the vast amount of information I had been taking in finally caught up with me. That and coming to terms with the loss of privacy or alone time hit me hard yesterday. But today is a new day and already I’m feeling better.

March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

Yesterday started like I’m sure every day will start for the foreseeable future: the kids were awake before me checking their email and getting a jump start on their studies for the day. Or pinteresting. It’s hard to tell. I made my coffee, did the dishes, sat down for a minute and then freaked out.

Aaron has been able to set up an at-home office here so he’s generally only a hundred feet away, in the tinyhouse in our backyard, and he was getting our daughter signed up for some online learning, among other things. Like I mentioned earlier: the vast amount of information I had, to this point, been digesting really hit me. Add to this the onslaught of new accounts to sign-in to, more online systems to learn and oversee and the general sense of overwhelm I started to feel: this is what broke me.

March 17, 2020

I politely asked for everything to please stop. As in, stop sending me invites to new things. I cannot with the amount of tasks at hand, give a shit about a family slack channel. Also, please leave me alone. We don’t have any carrots in the house and how am I supposed to make the lunch I planned without a carrot to chop?! WE NEED CARROTS.

I went there, guys. I went dark. Everything fell apart over a slack channel and carrots. There were actual tears. And then we made lunch (a new, different lunch plan) and the kids were getting along and I announced we would be LEAVING THE HOUSE TO FIND SOME NATURE FOR A WALK.

March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

It. Was. Awesome. So we hiked Sanctuary Woods (with most of Holland) and driving away from the house in a car felt like rebelion. It was naughty and I wanted the chance to explain to everyone who saw us that we were just going to a park, away from people, to be outside.

After our hike, there was more school work to complete and then a lot of down time until dinner. I put my headphones on and disappeared for a while. I started drinking wine and feeling better and texting family and friends.

March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

The kids learned how to play Jacks and we ended up watching old home movies for hours past their bedtime, which is relative at this point. They finally went upstairs and Aaron and I sat there staring at our phones with a mindless show as background noise. It was a day. And we got through it.

Coronavirus Quarantine Day 1

Quarantine day 1

Yesterday was the first day of my kids’ schools being canceled. We have one in the public school system (high school) and another in a private school (middle school). Our high schooler doesn’t have any instruction from school yet, school just … stopped. And our middle schooler has a school-issued laptop where emails stream in with instructions and google-classroom work and the engine keeps moving.

Quarantine day 1

I decided to pick up my camera and document the everyday moments of the quarantine. I’m immunocompromised as a type 1 diabetic and we’re staying on top of the information available. We had expected school to be canceled and in my 24 hours of prepping mentally for it, I had grand ideas of schedules and menus and regular exercise. We did go for a walk yesterday, I did make a bunch of food, as planned, but I spent a lot of time on my phone digesting new and ever-changing information. I listened to hours of podcasts with headphones on in the same room as my children while they did school work, called friends or read. We played a game, Aaron went to the office and recreated an office here at home. At one point, I took a shower.

Quarantine day 1

And then it snowed.

We watched a movie together before sending the kids to bed and all my anxious energy finally had a place to go: up and out of me. Suddenly I realized that I would have to repeat today all over again. And again. And again. I haven’t had any feelings of panic about this situation until last night. It sounds irrational when I write it, and selfish. And yet, here I am. In day 2 of some weird version of Ground Hogs Day.

The upsides are this: I’ve always wanted to try homeschooling my kids. At exactly these ages, which is weird and awesome and I will rock Home-Ec like no other. Personal Finance, Credit building, How to obtain a mortgage, buy a house, balance a checkbook. I’m here for it. We’ll plan a garden, bake bread, and dance in the living room.

I haven’t decided how yet but I want to use my huge picture window in the front of our house as some sort of message board. “Free bread” “We’re all in this together” or just opening the blinds and turning all the lights on when it’s dark outside and slow dancing. A moving picture for whoever needs one that we still get to be held, loved, wanted, needed and together.

Here’s to life

Today marks the 15th year since my dad died. He had lung cancer, diagnosed about 17 months before the cancer took his life. In those 17 months of knowing he was going to die, he really lived.

Number ONE!

And so did I. I got engaged just before his diagnosis, then married, and when he died, I was pregnant with our first child, a daughter. We had just found out she was a girl, it was one of the last lucid conversations I had with him. Told him I was having a baby girl, what we planned to name her (at the time, which isn’t her name now). He was in his hospital bed in the living room next to the windows and all this natural light was flooding the house. Everything was brighter those last few months. I, of course, didn’t live at home anymore, so I was visiting sitting on his bed next to him and we watched the ultrasound video together. We both cried. I knew the hardest ending of my life was coming and in the midst of it, the very best beginning was already on her way.

Four and half months after he died, I gave birth in the middle of the night. There was almost no light in the room. I wore my dad’s watch and my mom was in the room with us. She came out perfect and I later learned the cord was wrapped around her neck. In those moments I didn’t know how serious it was that she get out NOW, my doctors were patient and careful with me. Everyone in the room knew why it felt heavy … and then all of a sudden she cried. My mom was crying, Aaron was crying, my breath was taken away, she was here! She was here. She was finally here, with me.

Jessica meets Pappy

Those first few months and years are really blurry in love and pain. Grief is a weird salve, life is often a great distraction. But I can’t help but wonder if in those four and half months after he died and my daughter was still in the womb, did they know each other? I know how that sounds, and it’s ok. I’ve made peace with where my grief goes sometimes. But she’s always known who Pappy is. She has always known her grandpa. As a very little girl, she would have dreams about him. I used to think it was because we kept him alive for so long, in memory. We would talk about him and tell her stories and remember what it was like when he was with us. But then, 3 1/2 years later our son came and he did the same thing.

Some of the most important men in my life

Life hasn’t turned out how I thought it would when he was still walking the earth with us to listen to my hopes and dreams. In a lot of ways, it’s better, in other ways, it’s just different. New, undiscovered. Things I hadn’t even known I could hope or dream for are now my life and I credit most of that awareness to the time spent with him. To being a student of his life. Watching him love, and hunger for living.

He was well enough to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, with my birth-father. I had both of my dad’s flank me as I walked towards Aaron on a beautiful August afternoon.

Given away

364 days later he died.

That was 5,478 days ago.

I’ve missed him every single one.

But here’s to life: to learning how to live with no regrets, how to be generous in our love, time and efforts and to always picking up the check. To letting the people you love know, often, how much they mean to you. To chasing every dead end road we can find. To doing the weird thing, like packing it in to a motor home or camper for 6 weeks and traveling the country. Why? The answer is always, always: Why not?

Why not live this messy life wild? Why not capture each emotion on a mountain top? Why not take hundreds of photographs that maybe only ever take your own breath away, but make you remember what it’s like to be breathless? Why not say yes? Why not say no? Why not?

In the fifteen years of time passed since Wayne walked here with us – my grief rounded her edges, my writing found a rhythm, my heart softened towards love, and my regrets and mistakes that held me hostage have lost their teeth.

Now instead of being sad that he isn’t here, I am so, so thankful that he WAS at all. Whatever he was for me, I started to wonder what I was, we were, for him. And I have so much happiness in knowing that we were actually everything.

We sure were lucky to have him, but he left totally fulfilled. Maybe early, but ready.

And damn it, if there was ever a way to go. That’s it.

My dad and I