Archive for May, 2010
For the past three years my Wednesdays have included these three lovely ladies. Our small group typically involves food including, but not limited to chips and salsa, strawberries (for me), gluten free brownies (for Hayden) and anything else chocolate. We have conversations covering an array of topics: family, boys and dating, friendships, God, self-image, smushes, church, youth group, social justice, the world, quarter stories, prayer, scripture, listening, culture and music. Sometimes these conversations are interrupted by urgent bathroom breaks (Katie), occasional text messaging (all of them) and frequent bouts of laughter. We make room for questions, tears, sadness, celebrations, dreams, hopes, doubts, cuddling and good hugs!
I see part of my high school-self in each of these young women and there are countless times I’m left thinking, eh, I’m 27 and I still struggle with that. Being a leader doesn’t constitute having all the answers, but it does involve a certain level of commitment. And for the past three years I have been committed to these girls–it has by far been one of the best commitments I’ve ever made.
I love them. Hayden, Katie and Jenna, you reminded me that sometimes love is simply showing up and saying, “I’m here for you.” It is choosing to be together and admitting that I can’t do life on my own.
Today was the final Wednesday, our final small group. And I’m going to miss them dearly!
Somewhere between the boxes and the piles and the packing I lost a little bit of my excitement. I’m hoping its temporarily buried under my mountain of shoes (yes, I know, guilty as charged: so, I may have a slight shoe fetish. And no, I will not be bringing any of these to Guatemala. When you’re 5’8 and already tower over most Guatemalans no need to add another 3 inches to the mix)
I wish I felt bounds of joy about my upcoming move, but instead I’m sitting on my bed surrounded by stuff–and with that stuff comes stress and fear and this wave of questions. The main one being, “ahhh, what the heck am I doing?”
Moving and Packing
I am moving this weekend– leaving my home of the past 2 1/2 years, saying good-bye to two incredible roommates and packing up my hodgepodge of belongings– to go live with two of my favorite people in Santa Barbara who have offered me their guest bedroom for three weeks until I leave. So, now is the time to start packing.
Packing has a way of bringing up and sorting out what’s important. Old CD’s, letters from ex-boyfriends, and articles from grad school (many still unread) are intermixed with camera batteries and saved receipts organized in envelopes with black writing that says “2007-2008.” I have a costume box with feather boas and hot pink sunglasses and 80′s crop tops because you-never-know-when-you might-just-need-a-costume, right? These things don’t quite make it to the important side.
What’s important are people. Friends and roommates. My parents and sisters and brother. And then there are the kids from kids club and my students. And these are the things I can’t pack. I get sad about leaving these people. Sad that I am going to be missing out on part of their lives. And I get sad that sometimes it feels like I am leaving alone, while everyone else gets to stay here together.
Maybe that’s part of the catch-22 about sending out support letters. I’ll be honest it’s a humbling process mailing out a letter to family and friends not only admitting that I need your help, but also admitting that I actually can’t go through this next year without your support and care. I realize I have gotten pretty darn good at doing most things in life on my own and as a result this confident, self-reliant, independent spirit has been fostered deep inside. But I am learning that maybe I also need to leave room for the humble, meek side that admits, “I can’t do this alone. Will you help?”
I would say I do 3 out of the 4 quite well. My dancing, flossing, and traveling skills are adequate. My singing on the other hand– is lets just say, not one of my finer qualities. (Imagine Cameron Diaz at the karaoke bar in My Best Friends Wedding- and that’s me on a good day.)
I went to a FREE yoga class at Lululemon on Sunday morning. Sitting on my purple mat, with my legs folded and arms gently resting on my knees, I tried to appear relaxed as I waited for class to start. After some long, droning, always slightly uncomfortable breathing, the instructor started the class with a question, what is your intention for your practice? (which in non-yogi language simply means, what are you focused on right now?)
But I like the word intention. It implies something about purpose, focus and well, intent.
I started asking myself, what is my intention right now?
My intention has been letting go.
Preparing to leave.
Getting excited for a new opportunity.
And feeling scared to death of the unknown.
I’m going to Guatemala-again! But this time I’m actually taking a year off of teaching. My school district approved a one-year leave of absence. So, I am letting go of a job that I love, friends that I cherish and a community that feels like home because I believe in taking risks, being bold and listening to that still, small voice inside that says “go” even when you don’t know where you’re going.
It’s been a year or so of processing, thinking and praying. I’ve justified and allowed myself to make every excuse in the book about why this move doesn’t make sense. This was by no means in my 5-year plan. But I am learning that life isn’t necessarily about 5-year plans. A life of convenience, comfort and control is not a life that I want to live.
I have been to Guatemala four times and every time I want to stay longer. Something in my heart longs to be a part of the culture and the language and the people. And I am finally listening to that. I leave June 21st. I’ll be serving with an organization, Mission Impact, that I have worked with before. And I’ll also get to study more Spanish. You can find out more about what I’ll be doing here.
Until then, this next month is dedicated to three of my most time consuming enemies: packing, organizing, and moving.
Maybe my intention this next month shouldn’t be to dance. sing. floss. travel…but rather, to change. balance. enjoy. trust. Maybe Lululemon will put my motto on their next reusable bag, hmm? Maybe.