A letter to myself, a manifesto for relationship

On a walk with a friend this morning I told her that I felt God prompting me towards something. What I actually said was “in church on Sunday I felt God say to me “Stop qualifying your relationships with your past sin”” and then I let that hang in the air a bit. Like watching a balloon float higher in the sky after accidentally letting it go.

Even though I talk candidly about God with my friends over coffee or via email there’s something about saying words like that out loud and then realizing that you can’t pull them back from the air around your head and stuff them back inside.

Shhh, nevermind. I don’t hear voices speaking deeply convicting things to me or have conversations with God on the regular in the car while I’m driving. Just, just nevermind. Let’s talk more about your thing.

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Later on in the morning I was stretching and decided to focus my attention on a personal mantra of “I am enough” which was all good until I was done and the rest of my day begged to be gotten on with and I could no longer breathe like a normal functioning person.

We had poked a deep seeded bed of unrest inside of me. And it wanted to play.

Enough

Naturally I got in the car, drove to the grocery store and bought 4 dozen eggs, 2 gallons of milk, some canning jars and the tinfoil pans for batch baking cinnamon rolls. We were out of eggs and we don’t drink milk. Makes sense.

Still not breathing normally, the phrase “I am enough” is rolling around in my head like a baby trying to take it’s first steps. Persistent, a little uneasy, determined.

And I start to panic because I can’t catch my breath and these are JUST WORDS after all. WORDS. But I kept running in to them head on.

Stop qualifying your relationships with your past sin, you are enough. Put them together and it’s a doozy. I tend to go all in. Open book Jodi wants to race you to the finish line of my story and see if there’s anything left. Maybe if all my new and future friends know all my dirty little secrets they’ll just get the ‘abandoning me’ thing over with quickly so I can suckle my victim wounds and stay broken and afraid. Or perhaps, I can just stay Right. Instead of always Wrong.

I do this. I drink a few glasses of wine and open my mouth where the bits and pieces of me that need protecting walk off my tongue like an army marching towards the front-lines. Ready to fall at the first mention of rejection. And I don’t share this with you to seek pity or comfort within this certain misery but because it bothers me to no end.

I’ve learned this before. I qualify relationships, always new and often tried and true ones, with the parts of me that make me who I am – yes, but that are no longer where I stand. The real story is the victory over the burden of my past. But I leave that part out, because that part is even more uncomfortable than the qualifiers into humanity.

We all have walls and triggers and pasts and struggles. We do. And I’ve said before (and I mean it) that relationship is my favorite human condition. But what am I doing wrestling to bring my burden back for show and tell when the real story is my own resurrection from the deepest regrets, mistakes, and suffering of my past.

I am enough.

Enough

Today. Today I am enough.

Take it or leave it, I promise not to hold on to your decision like I had anything to do with it. But my past is no longer for sale for click bait or interest level or acceptance. It’s not fodder for girls night or something to whisper when I’m not present to offer my heart with all it’s brokenness.

I’ll bring to the table what I have to offer, and inside of relationship when trust is established and vulnerability is fostered, I will open up and let you in if need be. But I won’t throw you in my deep end and expect you to swim back to the safe shores and shallow waters without first giving you the same life raft I drifted in on.

It will be slow going and not all at once.

Because the fire that burns the hottest is the one that is stoked carefully, fed easily, and given room to grow.

building a fire

I needed this today. I’m still holding my breath, consciously trying to release this deeply rooted belief that I’ll never be enough. Less is more but the lie about that phrase has become that we can do more with less, when really it was supposed to be a reminder that with less – we are more. More free to rest and recuperate. More free of the obligations of stuff or debt or schedules or showing up as a shell of who we know we are. Less is more doesn’t mean emptiness. It’s supposed to mean fullness. It’s supposed to be the room we need to give space to the places in us that need to be seen. Less is more; it’s more work. But this work is worth it.

xoxo,
Jodi

New Hoirzons

School is well underway for us and with it, a new routine to our days. The beginning of each school year is always a good clean-out season for me. I get on top of things. Lists, charts, chores, stocking the fridge and freezer. I imagine it’s a very different version than what my Grandma might have done to prepare for the winter. Canning, butchering cows and chickens … the constant work of having a home and family just amplified for time away and ease back at home.

The last couple years of school have been what I will refer to as “The Adjustment Period” of my life for, um, ever. I think the last 5 or 6 years have been a trajectory of change and coming off of it, I finally found my footing. I’m a girl who will always look for whats coming, inquisitive and introspective. I want to learn and I often look backwards to discover how to move forward but that’s all changing too.

Camping: Fayette and Wilderness State Park

School felt like a celebration this year. A return to something worn and loved. A found object, which maybe is just us. Turns out being a young lady in this day and age is tricky and we’re learning all about it but also learning how to navigate those waters with her. A friend recommended the book “Untangled” to us, and parents/guardians of ladies in the tween/teen age group? I want you to read this book with me. And then we will get coffee together and be honest with each-other. And I will cry. And we will not be alone.

Honestly one of the best books I’ve read about parenting a girl so far.

There’s also so much shaking free in this season. I’m changing the rules I made for myself, or my family, that were more like contracts in the OR ELSE category. “It’s a work in progress” might be a better way to say it. I grew up knowing what I did not want but it wasn’t easy to stick up for what I did want. The opposite of knowing what not to do is rarely easy or perfect or the exact right thing instead. It’s a whole world of confusion because knowing the wrong thing doesn’t automatically make the rest of it explainable, or right.

I read something recently that resonated with me about Water and Rest. This amping up on lists and charts is always good but where I used to overcommit my capacity and then overwhelm my schedule, I’m learning to take it as it comes. Today I might be prepared for tomorrow but tomorrow I might need to rest or just go to the water and listen. And that’s what I do.

I watch my husband go to work and slay all day. He comes home tired and spent and always a little bit stressed about tomorrow. Being married to an Entrepreneur is kind of like saying that living in the moment is for “other people” because you’re constantly forecasting and planning and worrying and building and creating. Slowing down to be right here, to be right now … near impossible. Although it’s not impossible. We accomplished this on our trip out West this summer – removing ourselves from the regular distractions of location, we were forced to slow down and look around, outside of ourselves, to capture life.

It was beautiful. And this is the hardest part of coming back. I’m forever impacted by the summer we spent away. I know the difference, I experienced it. I want it, I crave it, I live for it. We came home to all kinds of questions, like what are we doing this for any way? And when do we stop doing this for us or for them or for (you name the reason) and start doing the things we dream about when no one is asking us for the answer.

Which brings up all kinds of questions that we don’t have answers to, of course. The big ones. The future ones. Should we?? has been a theme in our house lately. Should we do that? Should we do this? What should we do?

And enough. Enough already. I don’t know what’s around the corner but I know today is taken care of. I know less than I used to because there’s less certainty and more opportunity than I ever could have imagined. But some days I just stop running in circles and I stand still, and rest.

And some days I go to the water and drink and get refreshed.

And those are good days.

These bubbles disappear as fast they appear. My favorite Lake Michigan trick.

Let’s look each other in the eye

I’ve been doing a lot of summer reading recently. It’s a nice change in pace – coming home from our extended trip gave way to a few new rhythms. I decided not to pick up the busyness I left behind, wanting nothing to do with empty accolades – I’m letting this last bit of summer be a season of deep boredom. And I am so completely bothered by it, beside myself, that I am crawling out of my skin.

As a person who needs solitude to recharge, when I hire a babysitter – my vision is that they’ll take my children away from my safe place so I can be here, alone. You guys, it’s taken me about 8 years to admit this. I don’t even care any more. Zero fucks to give when someone looks at me cross-eyed when I explain that I need intense silence, away from my people, in order to function as a whole person. This is something I’ve learned the hard way and when it’s been too long since I’ve had a moment to myself to think my own thoughts, or journal, or write a letter … or gather my thoughts enough to craft an essay instead of stream of conscious writing – I start to get frantic.

This is it. This is the rest of my life. Always drowning in unmet expectations and unrealized dreams. Always taking care; giving, giving, giving. Never walking the slow amble of self preservation and lifting the ladle from deep within the well to fill my cup. It’s over.

My daughter is about to start middle school and I half-laugh, half-gasp because it’s taken this many years of rhythm to finally recognize patterns. The week before school starts? That week is the first layer of hell. Note to self: Plan nothing for that week. You are going to want to run away with everything in you. Do not sign them up for sports or camps. Just don’t. It will trap you into the the routine of showing up to fake it. Running errands or back to school shopping? It’s torture. It’s the reminder that they’re leaving mixed with the elation that they’ll be gone. Those two sides don’t fit on the same coin and yet here I am … flipping it over and over hoping it lands on a third side yet to be seen. Maybe that side will look like wisdom. It might just say “It’s ok.”

I’ll get to soccer practice and find a familiar face and all of a sudden my anxious thoughts about wanting to hide will evaporate and I’ll sit on the edge of their every word as we catch up about our summers and the year ahead. I will forget that I want loneliness when the gift of being seen is right in front of me. With one smile, with a pair of eyes willing to meet mine – I’ll start to remember why I live for this season, just as much as I’d prefer for it to be the one thing that finally undoes me.

My headstone might read: Reluctant to embrace the life she built. But damn, she was good at it.

One of the books I just finished, “When Breath Becomes Air”, was haunting in a way that answered one of my deepest emptinesses. But it answered it with a blank space. Essentially, “When Breath Becomes Air” is a memoir of a brilliant mind. A neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with cancer – the doctor becomes the patient. And it seemed most of his life’s work was to understand death. To wrestle with it and to usher people towards their death while respecting who they were as people and what made them such. He grappled with what it meant to live and when death became his life, he wondered still what it meant to leave it all behind.

I’m desperate to understand the meaning of life most days. What makes this matter so much? For him, in the end, it seemed what mattered most is having been here at all. Able to taste and see and experience, able to live regardless of the eventual death we all will come to. And I ask myself: am I really living? Or, worse, if I were to be diagnosed tomorrow with terminal cancer – what would I change about my life? (So many, many things) And then … why am I waiting to die so that I can have the permission to live?

So along with reading this summer and the boredom, I’m also crying a fair amount. A cleansing. A release. An acceptance. I followed “When Breath Becomes Air” with Shauna’s newest book, “Present Over Perfect,” and I’m about half way through currently. I can read about 2 essays before I need to get up and stomp around my house. I toss a few more things in the “give pile”, throw some laundry in the washer, feverishly make lasagna and wash the dishes. By hand. I walk in a few circles, go outside. I let the sun touch my face and I rapidly write in my journal until my hand aches. Then I sit back down for another round.

Until the bleeting and laughing and merriment my kids are experiencing with friends and neighbors invades this sacred place of stillness in my life and I regret the disruption and beg for forgiveness when my anger becomes palpable.

And then I write.

Sailing

A friend of mine has a sail boat and I sort of imposed a ride on it this week. In my mind it was a dingy, 4 people might be too many on it but I wanted to know what sailing was all about. You guys. It’s a legit 25 foot sail boat. That my dear friend captains on her own only after learning how to sail just recently.

You know what this means, right?

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

Sailing the high lakes. Lake Michigan.

It means we can do anything.

Just try.

like you, like me

Our time in Washington was memorable. There aren’t any words, really, that do it justice. We rented a house for a month and I was worried that I would forget what our life in Michigan felt like, it was that seamless. The last puzzle piece, lost under the couch for ten years until the moving truck comes and finds it. That was this month. Complete.

Home

My grandma's garden

a walk to Grandma's

First morning in Washington, Home.

I was trying to explain this to a friend of mine and the best I can do is that going home felt like being adopted and meeting my family for the first time. They looked like me and talked like me and we’d be hanging out and someone would say “you look just like … when you …” or “No way! Me, too!” Even weird stuff, like the kinds of products I use or different cooking things. There was just so much LIKENESS. So much of me. I wasn’t the only one.

My aunts are writers and they write books! Like, it’s not just this idea they’re dreaming about or this secret they don’t talk about. They’re DOING IT. They’ve done it. No one looked at me funny when I took photos of literally everything or recorded their stories and they all went along withy my wild adventures. Clamming (even if it rains), baking hundreds of cookies for a kids market (even if they don’t sell), fishing (even if we don’t catch anything). My grandma said we really revved up their life while I was talking to her on the phone since we’ve been home and I feel the same way. The very best possible way. All revved up.

But being back in Michigan feels like I’m driving around in my past. We’re back and life is “returning to normal” and I don’t know why I keep waiting for my past to tell me a different story. It never changes. I’m tired of waiting. There’s a lot to learn here so I’m listening but still struggling to find the silver lining.

First morning: home

I’m excited for what’s next. Who knows, maybe we’ll do this next year. Or maybe we’ll find ourselves traveling to all the corners of the globe immersion style. It’s not out of the question, as I’ve learned over and over again, anything is possible. And never say never.