vulnerable

Lost

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Today is a tough day. Driving the 13 or so hours from Orlando, Florida back to Louisville, Kentucky, my husband and I have a lot of time to talk and think.

I miss my boys, who are scattered all over – one on the West coast, one on the East coast, and one in India. I am missing ‘home’ in the Northwest. I don’t want to go ‘home’ to Louisville. I don’t even know where to call home anymore. A couple of days ago at Disney World, our waiter asked us, “So, where are you from?” Craig and I just looked at each other, unsure of how to answer that question. It’s a strange feeling. Unsettling.

I’d love to wrap this up with words about growing, learning, trusting your path, being right where God wants us, all steps have led us here, blah blah blah, but not today. All of those things may be true, but I can’t go there today. Some days there is value in sitting in the uncertainty of it all.

“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that  are right with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity, to name a few.”  Brene Brown

 

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Growing a Friendship: pt 4 in finding community

   October 9, 2014 by Kristin Meador
 Day 9: For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts. 

Once you have found friends with whom you can share your heart, how do you grow a friendship?

In the past year or so, these are some of the things I have learned (and am still learning) about growing a friendship.

This is my sweet friend. Shelley. We met when our sons were in the same class in second grade. For five years we said, "We'll have to go out for coffee sometime." Instead, we would just chat in the school parking lot, or when the kids had sleepovers, or if we saw each other at church. 20 years later, we are still friends.

This is my sweet friend, Shelley (she’s on the left, that’s me on the right). We met when our sons were in the same class in second grade. For five years we said, “We’ll have to go out for coffee sometime.” Instead, we would just chat in the school parking lot, or when the kids had sleepovers, or if we saw each other at church. Twenty years (and two grown children) later, we are still friends.

 

You must be purposeful.

Relationships rarely just happen on their own. You need to be purposeful and plan at times. Set regular times in the calendar. Call when you haven’t heard from someone in a while. Send a text, or better yet, a card or a letter to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask how they’re doing, and really want to know.

You must be present.

In the screen age, I find that this is more challenging. We are used to texting rather than calling (even I prefer a text to a phone call). But there is nothing like face to face, sit down for coffee heart-to-heart chat. And put the screens down. If you can, turn off your ringer so you’re not checking notifications every two minutes. I know it’s hard, because our phones have become an appendage, but try. I read last week that the message you send if you’re looking at your phone while talking to another person is “You are not enough for me right now, at this moment.” Even if that’s not our intention, is that really the message we want to send? Look people in the eye. It can be disconcerting – people don’t look each other in the eye any more. Try active listening – ask open-ended questions, and really listen to their answers instead of planning what you’re going to say next.

You must be vulnerable.

Take down your guard. I’m not saying that you have to do this all at once, but piece by piece, share your story. Share your flaws and your imperfections. As you open up, they just might open up, too. If you’re scared, it’s okay to say it. We are all just garden variety humans trying to get through life together. Don’t pretend that you are something other than that.

You must have grace.

Have grace when your expectations are not met, or when you’re disappointed. It is scary to put yourself out there, and being rejected, or feeling like you’ve been rejected, hurts. If someone is late for a coffee date, or if they don’t return your phone call or text, give them grace. Lives are busy, and we don’t know what is happening in their lives. Maybe they’re just forgetful. Maybe they’re just flaky. Maybe they are trying to scrape together every last bit of patience to deal with their kids. Maybe they just got in a fight with their significant other. Be forgiving and show grace, and don’t take it personally. It’s not all about you. Life happens. Move on and try again.

You must show up.

The most important thing you can do is just show up. Even if it takes you seven coffee dates before you can share your story, show up. Being vulnerable is scary, but just show up. Be there. Be available. Not just physically, but emotionally. Be present. If you know you are both going to be dropping your kids off at school, buy an extra coffee and just talk in the school parking lot for five minutes. If their child is sick, bring over some crackers and ginger ale. I love the phrase that author Bob Goff uses in his book, Love Does. “Be love with skin on”.  Just show up.

What does it mean to JUST SHOW UP?

Shelley just finished her last round of chemo and radiation. When she had her surgery, I came over to help her shower, empty her drains and give her injections in her stomach. Sometimes you just show up. Because LOVE. (She is the silly one on the left.)

Shelley just finished her last round of chemo and radiation. When she had her surgery, I came over to help her shower, empty her drains and give her injections in her stomach. Sometimes you just show up. Because LOVE. (She is the silly one on the left.)

 

* There is one more thing –

You must have FUN.

We’ll talk about the importance of fun in the next post.

31 Days in My Search for Balance: body, mind, and soul

For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts. 

 I’m calling this series 31 Days of My Search For Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. I have accepted this writing challenge as a step out of my comfort zone, so put on your seat belt, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . . .

So I’m showing up. It’s scary, and I feel nervous and vulnerable, a little naked. But I’m here.

As a woman of fifty (how the hell did that happen?) who has only recently returned to writing, accepting a 31 day writing challenge is terrifying. I just spent two hours trying to figure out what a ‘linky’ is and how to get it right. I may or may not have figured it out. I changed the theme of my blog because I wasn’t happy with the previous one, or the one before that, or the one before that, and I thought that if there is even a remote chance that more people will be reading this it should at least be pleasing to the eye. At least more pleasing than it was 10 minutes ago.

I loved to write when I was a child and a teenager. English was the only subject I LOVED in high school. The one time I tried pot  to English out behind the backstop in between 2nd and 3rd period, I returned to class to write a paper. At the end of class, I went to proofread my paper and realized I had forgotten to write about half of the sentences, so I never tried pot again. Because I loved writing that much. (And it made me cough more than cigarettes, which I started in the fourth grade but quit the summer of sixth grade after I smoked so many that I vomited in the middle of a movie theater. Yep, I’ve always been classy.)

I stopped writing creatively as I got older. In the past 15 years I’ve only written journals, nursing care plans, and APA style research papers. About 8 months ago I attended the Storyline conference, where I learned about living a better story. Learning about living a better story led to dreaming, and somehow dreaming led to writing. It was an unexpected joy, and it feels really good. I am ever so rusty, but I’m working out the kinks, blowing off the dust, and whatever other mixed metaphor you can think of.

I feel like I’ve found my heart again.

I accepted this writing challenge to step out of my comfort zone, and well, challenge myself a bit. While others have been preparing for this challenge for months, I just found out about this challenge on Day 1, so I am playing catch up (this is acutally Day 2). I have been writing about my search for balance, so this is a continuation of that journey, but now with a daily deadline.  Pppppffffttttt. It makes me anxious to think about, but I hope you (and by you, I mean my husband and my two best friends who read this and encourage me consistently, and anyone else who happens along) will find this a time to think about your life and heart as I search through the chaos that is life, trying to find balance.

Hello friends (and Craig), and thanks for joining me! And if we haven’t met, you can read more about me here.

And did I say thanks for joining me? I really mean that, so it’s worth saying twice.