Archive for November, 2009

19th November
written by Michelle

photo credit: curly girl design (one my favorite greeting cards companies)

It’s been a while since I have taken time to write. Usually, when my blog post stays the same for weeks on end it either means one of two things:
a) Life has been too busy or b) Pure avoidance.

In my case it’s been a little bit of both these past few weeks. I notice these patterns. When my schedule is too full, and I spend more time trying to save the world than take care of myself, all of my creative energy gets buried somewhere between stacks of paper, my ever growing inbox and the lack of adequate hours of sleep. But that’s only part of the equation. The truth is when there is something nudging at my heart and being tossed back and forth in my mind I actually (almost purposefully) try to avoid it. Sometimes I wonder if my refusing to commit words to a page is my way of pretending that this thing, this internal voice, doesn’t exist. I can try and keep it at bay, where it is out of sight, but eventually it washes back up to shore.

Usually I don’t even notice it, that is until I get away. And then it whispers loudly, clearly and purposefully, echoing in my heart and head; and my whole being:

I am longing for some change.

So, I spent the weekend away- away in Portland, visiting a wonderful city with some truly fascinating people. I mean what’s not to love about Portland…no sales tax, buffalo exchange, cozy coffee shops, scarves and boots worn out of necessity, instead of an attempt to make a fashion statement, neighborhood churches in bars, autumn leaves, Laurelhurst park, cool bridges, 3 dollar movies, and places to walk to from almost every point on a map.

I got to see some friends from Westmont and spend a few days with Whitney. We’ve come full circle- I met this lovely girl when I was a college freshman at Westmont and she was just a little, bundle of 5th grade joy. Fast-forward 9 years and now she is a college freshman and I am, well…just getting older, but you get the point. I got a chance to re-live college dorm life and remember why I don’t think I will ever miss sharing a bathroom with 16 other girls.

Sometimes it takes being away-literally away- for me to get a glimpse of what I am really longing and hoping for. It’s almost like some switch goes off as soon as I leave the comfort and conveniences of familiarity, the responsibilities of work and the ever-growing list of should-do’s and could-do’s.

I listen. And I slow down. And I settle into a different rhythm. And it’s only then that I realize I am craving something new, some kind of change.

I wish I knew exactly what kind of change, because if I knew then I would obviously follow a three-step process and voilà, change complete. done and done. check it off. But I think, I, and probably you too, know that change doesn’t happen like that. Change is a process. And the more and more I pray through and listen to this process I wonder how much of my desire for change is based on changing my external surroundings or rather changing my internal state of being. And maybe it’s a both/and, not an either/or. But I still find myself wanting to make sense of it all; trying to find the “right” words to justify and explain the longing. I am learning that it is hard to give words to some internal feeling that is not grounded in any ounce of clarity, nor does it come with the slightest bit of convenience.

What I do know is that something needs to change in my life. I am just not sure what.

The truth is I really don’t have any clarity. The dots have not been connected. But Portland did something good for me. It reminded me to listen and not avoid that gentle, whisper that longs for something more.

Thank you, Portland. I will be back one day.

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2nd November
written by Michelle

I am a night owl and consequently, I am also a night blogger. The hours between 9 and 11 pm are like prime writing time. It’s normally in these evening hours that I find the time to slow down and let my heart and mind begin the tremendous task of sorting through the thoughts and feelings floating through my head. On a bad night this process lends itself to overwhelming questions and insecurities about the big what ifs of life. But on a good night, this very process lends itself to writing. And somehow, almost automatically words begin to flow from my fingertips and appear on the screen.

So, on this first night of November I am up late, but I blame it partly on the time change. Somehow I convince myself that it’s really only 11:22, completely disregarding the bold 12:22 on my clock, and I feel a little more justified to still be up.

One of the best monthly investments I’ve made in the past few months is my $4.99 Netflix membership. Given that I don’t go to see movies that often, I spent years trying to keep track of all the movies I wanted to rent on a pink little post-it note next to my bed. This worked fine, except when I walked down to Video Smideo and realized I had forgotten to bring that blessed little post-it note with me. Ugh. For this reason, I think the online que is the best thing every invented. And now, twice a month I get a spiffy red envelope in the mail filled with the solution to my post-it note dilemma.

This month I watched Dan in Real Life and loved it. If you have not seen it, you should. It is maybe once of the most enjoyable films I’ve watched in a long time. Sweet, simple and just flat out funny. Not to mention, it has an incredible soundtrack! I am obviously not a movie critic. My three adjectives don’t do it justice, but there is a line at the end of the movie that grabbed my attention and stuck with me.

As Dan Burns (played by Steve Carell) is reflecting on the events of his life and offering up his last bit of fatherly advice he says, “Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.”

It was one of those moments when you feel like, holy crap, he is speaking to me. That line was meant for me. Plan. To be. Surprised.

I sat there and realized that so often my rational, pragmatic self gets the best of me and I plan for what makes sense or what seems manageable, but rarely do I plan to be surprised. At first glace it almost seems like an oxymoron or some clever play on words. How can you really plan to be surprised? (this is my cynical, logical voice speaking). Surprises by definition are just that “surprises, usually spontaneous, unexpected events in life.” You can’t plan those types of things or if you did they wouldn’t really be surprises, obviously.

However, I think the line in the movie is getting at something else. It doesn’t mean that we get to necessarily plan out exactly how we’re going to be surprised. But rather, I think it means that we have to learn to expect surprises. To plan for them. To be open to them. And maybe to even look for them.

How would your life look different if you planned to be surprised? I mean it. What would today or this week look like if you planned to be surprised? Try it. I decided that I am going to adopt this new mantra for the month. I am going to plan to be surprised. I’ll let you know how it goes : )

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