Sounds Good

Apologies, Living Wide faithful.  I know I’ve been absent these past few weeks, which reminds me, I need to update my bio because the reasons for my truancy are both very good.  First, I’m writing again!!  YAY!!  I have been trucking along on the manuscript for my second book, tentatively titled “Perfect.”

Wait, second book?  Where’s your first book?  I’m glad you asked about that.  See, my first book was a project I started in 2002, one year post-college.  It was a tale I returned to several times over the course of the years, and I was pretty happy with it until 2008 when I decided to rewrite all the parts that I had finished from a completely different point of view.  Why?  I don’t remember really, but it definitely set me back and led to four more years of starting and stopping.  I also can’t tell you why I couldn’t just get it together and finish the first draft, but after a while, I had to admit to myself that things weren’t working.  It had been nearly 10 years and still no book.  Late last year, I made the conscious decision to admit that I’d failed.  That my first book wasn’t the story I needed to write in this moment.

Accompanying that decision was a batch of my soul searching over the past couple of months, during which I realized something pretty important… I want to follow my dreams.  I know that’s something everyone says, but few actually do.  Well, I think you’ve realized by now, if I am anything, I am the follow-through-girl.  I’m also a little bit crazy and daring (hello, quitting my job).  So I decided to do the ultimate wakadoo thing and have faith in myself.  Faith that whether I would be published or not, whether people liked the story I had to tell or not, I was going to write a book.

I picked up one of the ideas I had filed away and started to play with it around October of last year.  And bam, I was writing again.  I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and then I stopped for grad school finals, and then I wrote again.  Oh, did I mention that’s the other reason?  Grad school?  Like I said I’m a little nutty… new job, grad school and writing my first/second novel all at the same time.  But I digress….  I finally found my story, and I promised myself, even if it kills me, I will finish it and someone, I don’t know who or how many, will get to read it.

Now that you know the why, let’s get to the fun part.  I’ve decided to challenge myself even more.  Again, what is she thinking?!?  I know, but roll with it would you?  So every day in the month of April I am going to post an inspirational song that is Living Wide-themed, and hopefully will encourage you all to follow your dreams too.  I’m calling it the Soundtrack for Successful Failure.  I will also accept submissions for songs that make you want to stop living small, break out of your box, and chase the horizon.  I can’t wait take this journey with you all!  Who’s bringing the snacks?


Turn the Page

So long 2012. Can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. To be honest, you weren’t all that bad, but nonetheless, don’t let the door hit ya and all. Buh bye.

Normally, I’m a little sentimental about a new year. I usually try to be positive and think about all the good things that have happened over the course of the previous 12 months. And don’t get me wrong… good things have happened. I was able to leave a job that was not the right fit for me anymore, and walk into a new position that seems much better. I also got accepted into a pretty great grad school program and started taking classes. Not to mention, my friends all hit major milestones, of which I was able to be a part of.

But ultimately, 2012 was the cap of a trying set of years that I am very ready to leave behind. In frankness, Living Wide came along directly in the middle of that season. We’ll call it the brush fire season. Why, you ask. Well, the brush fire is an interesting phenomenon. Pretty much every year, the air gets a little too dry, and the sun a little too hot, which results in a brush fire. It generally rips through everything that is old and decaying, scorching the earth until it’s barren and unrecognizable. In the end, it is so damaged, that most believe, there is no way it could ever recover. But then, something miraculous happens… things start to grow. The land pushes back against the devastation and trauma it endured to become fruitful again. In fact, new things emerge that simply couldn’t have grown unless they were exposed to fire.

It wasn’t until recently that I started to feel that way… fruitful again.

I’ve taken the time to look at who I’ve become over the past few years, and frankly, for a time, I haven’t liked her. She was complacent, afraid, trapped, easily convinced, misguided, weak. She wasn’t brave… not in the slightest. She lacked many things, most of which, was a spine. Harsh words to speak about one’s self, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

If you’ve been following along on this journey, Living Wide started with a death. A very unexpected death of a man who should have had many more years left to live, but didn’t. Who managed to live more life in his time on Earth than most people I know and seemed to have a blast doing it. As I watched those who cared about him say goodbye, I knew that the woman I saw reflected back at me in the mirror every day was a degradation of who I used to be, and it was time to reclaim her.

In 2013, that journey continues. This year, I turn the page.  I’ve decided I will be braver. That I will push out of my comfort zone and stop worrying so much about what is the “right thing to do.” The times I’ve rejected that “right thing” and flung myself blindly into my faith in the Lord, I’ve been rewarded more richly than I ever thought possible. So, in 2013, there is no “right thing,” there’s only the horizon.

Tell me who you hope to be in 2013? Leave a comment.

Risking It

Even as we were packing the moving truck, I had doubts. It was the summer of 2005, and I was moving to Washington, D.C. It was a decision that was either going to further my career or end up with me calling my parents six weeks down the road to tell them that I was A) out of money and B) needed to move back to Atlanta. Why those two outcomes, you ask? Well, I was making the move purely based on faith. I was living wide before I even knew what living wide was.

A few months earlier, I’d passed the two and half years mark in my job, and I was feeling restless. I’d previously toyed with the idea of moving away from the state I’d called home for nearly two decades, but never felt it was the right time. At this point, I’d been exploring my faith for several years and had recently begun bringing the big prayers to God. Like, is it time for me to move? I’d always liked Washington, D.C. I’d visited the city a handful of times and knew living there held great potential for my career. As I prayed about what was to come next, my heart kept turning back to D.C. Initially, God made it obvious that D.C. was to be my new home in subtle ways, but in the spring, He got downright overt. An apartment I could afford was available down the street from the only friend I knew in the city. My resume was getting some interest. Things were looking good. All signs were pointing to “Go,” so I decided to.

It was a leap of faith that would land me an 11-hour car ride away from the safety net of my family. A fact which hadn’t dawned on me until we were loading the moving truck. My decision had suddenly become real. I was really taking a leap into the unknown based solely on an inkling from God. I was trusting that my faith in Him and the talents and abilities He’d given me were going to be enough. That I would be okay and it would all work out.

Invariably, it did all work out. By my fourth week in D.C., I had a job. My bills were all going to be paid, and my cat and I would continue to have food to eat. I had taken a flying leap into God’s will, and it turned out better than I’d hoped.

I’ve been thinking about this step in my journey quite a bit lately. In many ways, my choice painted me as a risk taker. I was risking my financial security by responding to God’s call. Was I scared to do it? Yes, absolutely. The fact that I was trusting God, that I was leaving everything I knew for something I had no clue about, made the decision terrifying. That kind of faith was simply scary. But I tell you what, I never regretted it.

The reason this particular decision has been so on my mind is because I reached another crossroads recently. I had to decide whether it was worth it to continue in my current job, or walk away and trust that God would bring about new possibilities. I had to choose, was I going to be faithful or fearful.

After much prayer, thought and counsel, I decided. I decided I’d rather terrify the Earthly side of my nature by leaping into the will of God, trusting in His provision, than do what’s expected; to do things the “right way.” How’s it all going to turn out? I’m not sure really, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

What, Me Worry?!

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a worrier. Not of the perpetual furrowed brow, constant handwringing variety per say, but I do have a fairly regular level of concern. Being single, that’s kind of a given. In terms of income, you’re it. Reconciling bills, you have to do it. Unexpected pricey repair for the car, well, it gets you too and from where you earn the income, so you have to figure it out. As you can tell from my last post, my living wide life has been more living day-to-day as best I can, and a lot of that has to do with worry.

Quite a few storms have rumbled into my world recently, but instead of blowing through quickly, they’ve stalled. If I could draw a cartoon of myself (believe me, you don’t want me to try), it would look something like a completely drenched girl with a gray, violent cloud over her head from which lightening strikes out periodically as a zinging reminder that, yep, it’s still there.

Now, generally, I handle stress pretty well, but when there’s no preamble to a storm, when it starts at a deluge and doesn’t let up, unfortunately, even keel kind of goes out the window. And where worry was once creeping in through a few small leaks in the roof, now it’s an unadulterated pummeling because, well, there was no roof anymore. I was worrying so much, in fact, that I was worried about how much I was worrying. I know, I know… vicious cycle.

The thing about being worried, especially when in a worrisome situation, is that people around me begin to worry sympathetically. Trust me, my circumstance did warrant it, and those around me weren’t just being supportive; they had concerns of their own. The issue was that the collective worrying began to self fulfill and spawn a whole host of bad juju, like paranoia, emotions I’m sure swirled round and round the bottom of Pandora’s box.

One day, at yet another collective worry session, I hit a wall. I simply could not worry about one more thing. Big, small, it didn’t matter, there was no room left at the inn. I looked at the people around me as they speculated and spit-balled, and realized, this is kind of pointless. There we were, trying to crystal ball some outcomes, trying to define the unknown variables, when truthfully, the dominos were already falling. The best we could do was navigate the present and not try to predict the height of the waves or the pitch of the ocean.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is chronicled in a couple of different books of the Bible. He and the disciples were on a boat in the middle of horrific storm, and Jesus, unconcerned, was asleep. The disciples woke him because they were scared, and, invariably, he calmed the storm to appease their worry. But notice, he wasn’t worried. He was so not worried that he was asleep. He knew that particular moment was scary, yes, but his father, God, was going to get him through it, while Jesus’ disciples, not yet quite as sure, worried.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly thinking of this story when I hit the wall, but when I did, I realized something. The only thing you can control in a circumstance that is worrisome is how you react to it. You can’t control someone’s behavior, choices or actions, but you can control how you respond. So, basically, stop trying to be hyper offensive to avoid being defensive. Be aware, don’t be naive, but don’t be a slave to the “coulds,” of life. Rest in the fact that someone far more capable than you has “got this,” and you can rest easy in the fact that you had faith enough to get in the boat with him.

Things Fall Apart

Confession time: I have not made living wide a priority. Not just the blog, though I’m sure y’all can tell by the lack of posts, but actually living wide in my day-to-day life. The reason… things fall apart. The rub of things falling apart is that it is in those moments that I should be leaning harder into the concept of living wide. I should invite change into my situation; I shouldn’t cocoon in and make myself really small just to weather the hard knocks. I shouldn’t be self-preserving and simply exist, I should be finding a way to rip open the horizon and charge toward it. But, I haven’t.

Let me explain. Right now, my life is hard. It’s hard to get up in the morning. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to keep going. It’s hard to remember that things will work out. It’s hard to see the glass as half full. It’s hard to fail. It’s hard to not see everything as so hard.

Now, before you say, “You think your life is hard? Let me give you some perspective on what is really hard,” trust me when I say, I recognize that to 99% of the world, my problems are trivial; first world ramblings full of petty concerns. And they’d absolutely be right. There are people in my own backyard and around the world that have it far worse than I. But, a wise person once said to me, DO NOT diminish your feelings. Your feelings are your feelings. Allow yourself to feel them, and don’t talk yourself out of how you feel simply because there’s someone out there that is worse off than you.

In walking through these fallen days, I knew there had to be a lesson somewhere. It was all I had to cling to at times, how could this help me live wide? That’s when I realized, I already was. In watching an interview with Cheryl Strayed, author of “Wild,” which I have yet to read, she talked about how not all experiences in life are good or easy, but they will teach you something. And more than that, they’ll help shape you into the person you’re meant to be for whatever life has next for you.

Not that I in any way compare myself to Moses, but it is true that sometimes you have to wander. Sometimes, you know there is a promise land, but right now, you’re not deserving of it. And sometimes, you have to keep wandering knowing that your destination is purely guided by faith; faith that wavers, faith that questions, and faith, that no matter what, will always be there.

So, even though things fell apart, are hard and have left me to wander, if I can, at the very least, draw strength from the fact that there is a lesson in every situation, and what it has to teach me has the potential to urge me on toward living wide, well then, at least I’ve got that.