Be still

You guys… I can’t even tell you how many times I have wanted to randomly burst into tears this past week.

At the grocery store.

While driving.

During dinner.

When checking the mail.

It’s ridiculous. There’s this simmering goop just stuck in my chest cavity, threatening to come up at a moment’s notice. Suddenly I understand why kids throw things across the room and shout ridiculous insults at anyone in their path just before bursting into tears.

You wanna know why?

Lack. Of. Sleep.

I don’t sleep anymore.

Well, I do. But I sleep poorly.

I wake up about 10 times every night either shrieking in terror or lying there in panic-stricken anxiety knowing that I just can’t do it all. And yet I lie there chiding myself for not being able to do it all. Because if I wasn’t able to do it all, then why did I promise to do it all for every Tom, Dick and Harry that crosses my path? Why didn’t I just stop talking? Why was I trying to make everyone happy? What was I trying to prove?

Of course.

Sure.

You bet.

No problem.

I would love that.

Yes, let’s do that.

I’ve got it covered.

And you know what? I don’t have it covered.

Not. Even. Close.

I used to think it was a pride thing with me. You know, prove to everyone that I have everything together and then they’ll really be impressed? But it recently occurred to me that for the most part… I don’t care enough about what other people think of me to try to impress them. As much as I appreciate making a good impression, my main objective is not to impress people. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m okay with that.

The more I thought about it… the more I realized… I’m trying to be everything to everyone. I’m trying to meet the needs of dozens of people, and putting the burden of making them happy on myself. Not because I have something to prove, but because I’m not okay when other people aren’t okay.

I can’t tell you how much I fret over people feeling lonely, or sad, or left out, or forgotten, or overlooked, or overwhelmed, or not supported, or discouraged, or disappointed, or frustrated. When I see that, I feel for them so deeply, that I absolutely HAVE to swoop in and help out.

  • I can’t say no to that opportunity because it might disappoint the students.
  • I can’t not help out with that situation because that friend may not feel supported.
  • I can’t not say yes to every visit, coffee date, or lunch get together because that family member or friend might be feeling lonely or forgotten.
  • I can’t not agree to help out with this mission, because look at how overwhelmed that coworker already is!

I don’t know at what point I started thinking I was God, but clearly there’s a bit of a pride problem there if I think I can fix everyone’s problems and be everyone’s everything all the time. But changing my thinking on that feels impossible. Because every time I say, “No.” and decide to take a step back… I chide myself over my selfishness. Because what if my “yes” meant that I was going to be that ONE word of encouragement that a person needed to hear, or that I was going to be the ONE smile that person saw all day, or that I was going to be the ONE way that person was going to experience the light of Christ in their lives? I mean… what if? Saying no is just another missed opportunity, is it not?

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, when I would walk down the street and see someone who looked unhappy, I would immediately pray for them to know of God’s love and their value in God’s eyes. I still do this today. In the ten minute drive from home to work, I can find dozens of people to pray for. I didn’t actually realize this wasn’t something everyone did until a couple years ago.

I realize how dumb that all sounds. I mean, it’s ridiculous to think that a human being’s one chance for a joy-filled day or opportunity to hear the gospel lies squarely on my shoulders… but I always think I can do more… and should do more. And then whenever I try to do more, I end up wanting to burst into tears at random because I’m trying to do too much and burning the candle at both ends. And it becomes a vicious cycle.

I’m not God. I know that. His glorification in this world is not dependent on my “Yes”. (Except for those times when maybe it is… ) But I need to trust Him enough to know that when He does need me to act… when that person needs to see Him in me… He’ll let me know. He doesn’t expect me to run around like a mad woman trying to meet the needs of the masses. Maybe I just need to be the light to that one person every day. And He’ll let me know.

In the meantime, I need to rest. Rest enough to listen to His leading; Rest enough to be able to discern His promptings; Rest enough the reestablish that trust that He’ll put me where He needs me, when He needs me and for whom He needs me. Because if I’m too busy running around trying to solve problems, I may just miss out on those opportunities when He really needs my yes.

 

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Feelings… Nothing More Than Feelings

You guys…

I had some feelings today.

Usually, before the feelings can get the best of me, I do this :

60fbf108267cf5cc245097bd64bcff0c

But, I just couldn’t fight this feeling anymore…

feelings 3

I’d forgotten what I started fighting for…

feelings 2

It was time to bring this ship into the shore…

bring it in

And throw away the oars…

oars

Forever.

forever

(Why YES, I DID just make a Giphy montage for an REO Speedwagon song… because I AM that awesome. Thanks for noticing.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes. The feelings. All the feelings.

I was perfectly fine not dealing with the feelings. I’m an expert at not dealing with feelings.

I just shove them deep, deep down into the cavernous depths of my soul where they will never see the light of day again.

But then I ran into a friend… who was having feelings… and at first I was all,

dont be cry

But she kept talking about all of the feelings…

And somehow the feelings got ON me…

And… before I knew it…

giphy

And the kids were staring at me like I had lost my ever-lovin’ mind…

You guys…

I hate it. I hate the feelings.

Feelings are hard.

I used to not hate the feelings, but I’ve had so many hard, ugly-cry, grief stricken feelings the past few years… that I just can’t do it anymore. Feelings are the worst. I avoid them at all costs. I don’t want to feel anymore. It hurts too much. So, I just keep jamming the feelings down, down, down, down, down in my heart.

WHERE?

Down in my heart to stay.

And never see the light of day.

But some “people” say that’s not “healthy”. Well, if it’s so not “healthy”,  why do all the feelings eventually erupt in a production of GLORIOUS madness once a month? Huh? HUH?!

Oh…

(It just occurred to me what those productions of glorious madness actually were… I’m not the most self-aware person.)

At any rate, those feelings had no business rearing their ugly heads. I’m a lady, for crying out loud. I don’t cry in public. I am made of stone. And my heart is two sizes too small.

(Basically, I am a man, trapped in an itty-bitty girl package.)

Please tell me someone else has this problem with the feelings. Am I an anomaly? Are all girls just, “I’m gonna let it ALL OUT and SPEW MY FEELINGS ALL OVER EVERYONE BECAUSE EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW EXACTLY HOW I’M FEELING AT ALL TIMES!!! Is that how girls are now? If so, what’s wrong with me? Why the running and the stuffing?

*sigh*

I have so much to work on, don’t I?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, Hallmark

Ah, Mother’s Day. That most painful of all Hallmark-created holidays for the motherless and childless. And if you find yourself fitting into both of those categories, it can be the most dreaded holiday of all.

Unlike Valentine’s Day, where you can always find someone to spread the love too… (even if it’s just your neighbor down the block)… both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day oftentimes serve as an ugly reminder of not only what has been lost, but dreams that have never been fulfilled.

Thanks, Hallmark.

Okay, I’m kidding. I’m really not that jaded by Mother’s Day… but I can promise you I won’t be touching social media with a 10 foot pole for the next 2 days. It’s exhausting. Picture after post after touching tribute of Mother-Daughter-Son-Husband love. Ooey-gooey gushiness oozing all over your news feed.

Yes, your children are beautiful.

Yes, your mother is amazing.

Yes, your wife is a warrior and champion of all that is right with the world.

“Like”

“Love”

“Share”

“Repost”

Oddly enough, despite all the joy, it’s both emotionally draining and depressing.

Not that I resent all the happy, shiny people out there with amazing moms and children. I’m genuinely happy for them. Family is a cornerstone of our faith. Family is the best thing this side of heaven. But, when you’re without, you realize just how much you’re missing out on.

SO, to avoid the bottomless pit of despair that can sometimes accompany this holiday, I’ll be praying for those amazing moms out there – to continue mom-ing to the best of their ability, to keep fighting the good fight, and to shine with Christ’s light and love to all His children. I’ll be praying that ALL the mothers out there – spiritual OR biological – will be strengthened with His love, joy, and peace on this day… and that those without children to mother will recognize in themselves the spiritual motherhood they offer to all those around them. And the rest of the day I’ll stay curled up with my Father, celebrating Mother’s Day and thanking Him for the mother He has been and always will be to me.

Teacher Needs a New Pair of Pants

You guys… here’s the thing… and I apologize if this sounds ridiculous and shallow and absurd and makes you want to gouge my eyes out… but, here’s the thing…

My pants don’t fit anymore.

I don’t know why. I mean… I get it. I’m on my feet all day… sometimes I forget to eat… and I barely have a chance to sit down until AFTER dinner…

But… They DON’T fit!

And while I get it… I DO… like, why should I be complaining about losing weight?! But… here’s the thing…

I CAN’T AFFORD NEW PANTS, PEOPLE! NEW PANTS ARE EXPENSIVE! I BASICALLY WORK FOR FOOD.FOOD THAT I CAN’T AFFORD. AND THEREFORE… I NEED NEW PANTS BECAUSE APPARENTLY I’M NOT BUYING ENOUGH FOOD.

It’s a vicious cycle, really…

Because every morning I’m like, “Hm… what should I wear today? OOH! Those pants go really well with that top! But they don’t fit… I could pair them with that pair instead… but that pair doesn’t fit either… I suppose I could change the outfit entirely… which is perfect… because this top looks SUPER cute with those pants… which ALSO DON’T FIT.”

Yesterday, I was all excited to wear an old pair of Chuck Taylors I had found buried in the back of my closet… which look super cute in my “hang out” jeans… and I put the jean on… and I kid you you not… They. Fell. Off.

As in, they LITERALLY FELL OFF. THAT’S NOT EVEN POSSIBLE. I suddenly have the body of a skinny 12 year old boy. It’s ridiculous.

So, of course, being a resourceful, problem-solving, critical thinking kind of gal, I pulled out my belt.

First of all… how does one wear a belt without this weird oblong BULGE appearing right below your naval? It’s like, “Are you pregnant? With a mini SpongeBob?” WHAT IS THAT?!

And then one of my coworkers was all, “Just tuck in your shirt.” Or not. Because it’s not 1989 anymore.

So I just have to walk around all day hiking up my pants… which is not only really inconvenient, but also really, REALLY awkward. Especially when you’re trying to go unnoticed while hiking up your pants as you stand up/kneel/stand up/kneel during Mass.

And now? I just noticed I’m on the LAST hole of my belt. Am I going to have to make a new hole? What am I? The incredible shrinking woman? Do I have a tapeworm? I’m healthy! I swear! I eat! WHAT IS THIS?! Besides ridiculously inconvenient? I’m going to have to start taking up a collection for new pants. Forget about asking for tissue, paper towels and anti-bacterial wipes for the classroom. Teacher needs a new pair of pants.

*sigh*

 

A Dorothy in a Rose and Blanche World – Part 2

Didja all think I was done with my story? Ha! Silly humans. Of course there’s a Part 2… isn’t there always a Part 2? (And if not, there totally should be. Part 2s for everyone! You get a Part 2 and you get a Part 2 and you get a Part 2 and…)

Sorry… I digress.

Okay, so here I was at this women’s conference surrounded by Roses and Blanches and feeling not only out of place, but maybe… just maybe… exasperated? Like, “UGH… all you Roses and Blanches are SO exhausting. I just don’t understand you.” As though that somehow made me superior to them?

In my defense, I’m not normally this judgmental, critical and self-absorbed… but I may be a little PMS-y and pretty much anything sets me off: “You don’t drink coffee?! How do you even SURVIVE?!” (Okay… and a little bit overly dramatic too. Those 3rd graders have started to rub off on me…)

So, with all this time on my hands to lament my predicament of being a Dorothy among a sea full of Blanches and Roses, I decided to go to confession. And what I REALLY wanted to say was something to the effect of, “Okay, so I know I have a horrible case of PMS right now, but these women are driving me crazy… and I’m pretty sure I only would get along with a handful of them because the rest of them are just so….” But I figured the priest wouldn’t appreciate me going off on a tangent and mentioning PMS, so I just summed it up as being “overly critical and judgmental”.

So, his advice to me was to receive whatever it was that the Lord wanted to show me that day at the conference. And admittedly, I was all, “Seriously? That’s it?” for a minute before it evolved into, “Wait… I have to be quiet and listen to what the Lord is telling me instead of sitting there silently judging everyone? UGH…” (In my head, people… I wouldn’t actually say that OUT LOUD. I’d only admit that kind of stuff on a blog where everyone in the world can read it. C’mon…)

So, I went to the next two conferences and tried to listen and receive.

And then a crazy thing happened…

The speaker… started talking… to me… about me.

(Which would only be weird if we didn’t already know that after all the confessions were done, the priests and the speaker got together in a little huddle and were all, “Okay, so this is what we’re hearing and this is what you need to admonish them for…” Because you know, that totally happened.)

Oh, good grief. I’m kidding, people. That didn’t actually happen. What did happen was just as bizarre though.

The speaker started talking about her own insecurities as a woman… how she didn’t “fit in”… she didn’t fit the mold of a put-together, loving, merciful, gracious, mini-Mary. And she was so preoccupied with getting everyone’s approval that she was trying to squeeze into a mold God never wanted or asked her to fit into. And while she was so busy chastising herself for not fitting in, she was actually judging those around her at the same time for being so annoyingly perfect. And basically, she spent the rest of the conference talking about me. (Which was flattering… but honestly, a little awkward. She could have at least asked me first.)

See… what I didn’t realize, was that I had spent most of the day comparing myself to other women… and because I was so desperate for approval in this new setting… that instead of being content with who God made ME to be and asking how He could use ME to bless others, I was simultaneously cutting myself down for not being more like them, AND judging them for not being more like me. So, basically, I spent the entire day being a big, fat jerk. Both to myself and everyone else.

You guys… do you realize how much I needed to hear her story? Do you know how much I needed that message? Do you realize I have spent the last 6 months or so trying to fit into this mold I will never fit into and lamenting the fact that I’m not “good enough” to be a “good Catholic”?  (… whatever that means…) I couldn’t understand why I laugh ALL the time (I literally find the dumbest things hilariously funny), why I want to spend my time researching and writing, why I couldn’t relate to others’ rapturous stories of motherhood and sisterhood, why I like to challenge and discuss and question, why I am how I am. I felt like there was something wrong with me. And then to placate myself, I turned those insecurities outward so I was judging anyone who wasn’t like me in the process. It’s been exhausting.

But to finally hear that… it’s okay… that God made me this way for a reason… that He can USE those gifts and personality traits (and He wants to!), that there’s a purpose for how God made me… was so incredibly freeing. I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re all okay to be who God made us to be. And the more we try to squeeze into these molds, and fit into what we think is this ideal of a “good” Christian woman… we’re actually robbing the world of the gifts God put in us for a reason. Stop trying to be what you think you’re “supposed” to be and just be you. There’s not only freedom in being the woman God made you to be… but the world needs more women like you… so you can bless others and further God’s kingdom just by being you.

True story.

A Dorothy in a Rose and Blanche World

Today, I attended a women’s conference.

Complete with food, and gift bags, and vendors.

And women. Lots and lots of women. Laughing women, talking women, shopping women, women who were all….

giphy 2

Can I be brutally honest with you all for a second?

When I walked through those doors, into a swarming throng of 500+ women?

I wanted to turn around and run away.

I should have felt welcomed and at home and overjoyed to be with my fellow sisters in Christ…

But instead… I wanted to turn around and run away.

What I’m about to tell you is not going to make ANY sense what-so-ever. And I know this. And I’ve come to accept this fact. But it doesn’t change anything.

So, here it is…

Sometimes? I’m not really sure… I like women.

I know! How ridiculously absurd is that?! I AM a woman. I’m supposed to appreciate my own kind, for crying out loud. I mean… who doesn’t like their own species?!

I think part of my problem is that… I don’t really… understand women.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! How can you NOT understand your own kind? WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME?!

I’m not saying I don’t understand ALL women… but for the most part… this idea of “femininity” that a lot of people have? It’s not me. It is SO not me.

To clarify, I don’t really think I have a reason for feeling this way. I grew up genuinely believing that girls were the bomb. Boys were cool too… but girls? Girls were awesome.

But… the way I remember it… girls were cool because they were feisty and spunky and opinionated. They were girly but tough. They had their own thoughts and opinions. They were self-sufficient. They were funnier than heck, could hold their own in any conversation, and they just kind of did their own thing. They just were who they were… which is what made them so cool.

It wasn’t until I got older that I started to recognize that all women weren’t this way. A lot of the women I was meeting were the opposite of this. A lot of these women simply wanted to find a husband. They wanted to get married and have babies. They liked to knit and crochet and cook. They looked through bridal magazines for fun and were the first in line to every romantic comedy that came out.

And for a while? I fell in with these types of women… because I hadn’t quite figured out where I fit in. But once I started writing and finding my voice… this group just didn’t make sense to me anymore. Suddenly, I had an opinion… and I wasn’t afraid to voice it… and I didn’t fit the mold of a good “woman”… I was too feisty and independent, and yeah… I was a bit of a feminist. Not in a bra-burning, pro-choice touting, “MEN SUCK!” kind of way… but I figured I had something to add to the conversation, and just because I was a woman didn’t mean I wasn’t going to speak up.

And this way of being and thinking came naturally to me. I never felt “less than” because I was a woman. Honestly, I never really thought much about it. A woman was a woman was a woman. She just was who she was.

But after a while… it started to dawn on me… that there were two different TYPES of women… and I didn’t really fit in with either group.

Where I grew up, women were supposed to be tough. Too tough. They swore like sailors, could drink anyone under the table, belched the alphabet, and would beat any man in an arm wrestling match. They like loud trucks, getting dirty, and proving they could carry their own weight. Femininity be damned.

I did not fit in here. I didn’t want to be treated like a man. I liked my femininity, and I expected to be treated with respect and dignity. I wasn’t about to prove my brawn to someone because…. I wasn’t brawny. I didn’t have to be brawny. I was a woman… a lady… and that was OKAY. Being feminine was okay.

But on the flip side… where femininity was embraced… I realized I didn’t fit in here either. A lot of these women (Notice I didn’t say ALL. Not ALL women… just many… maybe not even many. Maybe just more than I expected. Good grief, please don’t judge me for this…) enjoyed the things I didn’t… like… scrap-booking and quilting and cooking large meals. They were quiet… and demure… they asked lots of questions and got easily confused. If a question arose, it was best to consult a man who could help them. They laughed heartily at puns and gave quizzical looks at sarcasm. They enjoyed romance novels, shopping, and a good bottle of wine. They accepted things as they were and didn’t want to challenge the status quo or ask the hard questions. They talked about emotions and “motherhood” and “sisterhood” and made vague allusions to feelings and thoughts that I could not relate to in any way shape or form.

It was in this kind of environment that I found myself at this woman’s conference… I didn’t know where I fit in!  I desperately wanted to talk to someone who would crack a sarcastic joke and could carry on a non-emotional, practical, analytical discussion of the current state of politics in this country. I didn’t want to shop. I didn’t want to share my feelings with my fellow sisters in Christ. I didn’t want to talk about a devotion to the Blessed Mother that I didn’t understand. I just wanted to talk about… news, and theology and politics and books. I wanted to think and dissect and discuss. But no! I was expected to SHOP and… I don’t know… appreciate a depiction of the Blessed Mother looking down on us with favor and I was all…

giphy

You guys… I am Dorothy! Not Rose, or Blanche! Some days I’m a little bit of a Sofia… but mostly? I’m just a big ol’ Dorothy. And where does a big ol’ Dorothy fit in?!

Sometimes… I don’t always feel like there’s a role for me in this world…at my work… at my church… among my “people”. I don’t know if people know what to do with me. I get a lot of blank stares. I’m not kidding you. A LOT of blank stares. Like… constantly. All the time. And when this happens? I can’t figure out if I said something ridiculously stupid that people are silently judging me for… Or if I said something brilliant that they’re trying to process.

Either way… I don’t think I fit in. And I’m not sure what that means. Maybe I’m too prideful. Maybe I don’t appreciate “authentic femininity”. Maybe I harbor a resentment against the norms established by society for keeping women oppressed. (Okay… I’m totally kidding… I can’t actually say that and still be a Catholic, can I?) But… it makes me wonder… what does one mean by “authentic femininity” and where does one fit in when their natural gifts don’t fit the mold? IS there a mold for authentic femininity? And if so, and if one doesn’t fit that mold, does that mean she is not authentically feminine? And if one is NOT authentically feminine… what does that mean? Does it make her disingenuously feminine? And what does THAT mean? And can one honestly say that they fit the mold for “ideal” authentic femininity? Does that even take into account our God-given differences and quirks? I mean… there’s gotta be a place for quirky people too, right? I can’t be the only one who feels this way… right?

And I know…. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I have to be the person God made me to be. I know. But I can’t quite shake the feeling that I’m expected to fit into a mold that I’m incapable of fitting into. But then again, doing so wouldn’t exactly be “authentic”, now would it?

I don’t get it… This is what passes for sexy?

I keep seeing ads on TV for “Magic Mike XX Stupid”… or something to that effect. And all I can gather from the ads is that the movie is about men being forced to change out of their clothing time and time again (and unable to afford any shirts, based on the amount of naked chests being shown on the previews) and women unable to find affection and attention without being forced to pay for it.

I don’t get it… Is this supposed to be sexy? Fun? A crazy good time because all women fantasize about Channing Tatum gyrating topless? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. It looks like the DUMBEST concept for a movie since the first one came out. Are women this desperate for scantily clad men? Are women literally regressing to giggly fifteen year-olds who can find nothing better to do with their time than ogle shirtless men at the beach?

ARE YOU SERIOUS?! This makes me question the future of feminism and womanhood. It also makes me question what the hell Andie MacDowell is doing with her career. Could she not find a nearby toilet to flush it down? It also makes me wonder why the writers, directors, and producers thought making these films were a good idea in the first place. Were they sitting around watching “Showgirls” and thinking, “You know what would be awesome? The GUY version of this film!” Really? And what about the male strippers? Was Channing Tatum deliberating what to do with his career and he thought, “Hey! A stripper movie! That ‘Showgirls’ film did wonders for Elizabeth Berkley’s career!” REALLY?!

As a human race, I fear we are screwed.