Once I started, it was hard to stop. My pace grew quicker. My arms swung wilder. Each step had more intensity. Each breath, more purpose. And each time I arrived back to the start, the wind blowing past my ears, a roaring cheer, it shouted, “one more lap”.
There have been very few times in my life when I envied men’s fashion. Not that I don’t appreciate a well dressed man. In fact, I’m extremely appreciative of a man whose wardrobe complements my own. But, seeing as I have so many wonderful options as a woman, there’s rarely a need to envy men. Except, of course when it comes to undergarments and Christmas season. Though deep-rooted, my hatred for medieval underwire bras and flesh-eating pantyhose will have to be discussed in a different post; for at the moment I am green with envy and red with frustration as I stare at the rejected pile of clothes.
What man isn’t at any moment ready for holiday festivities? Just tie on a cravat with a little shimmer, and he’s set. He doesn’t even need to worry about the traditional holiday colors. Make it a bow-tie and he is immediately gift-wrapped geek chic. But perhaps, you will argue, that he doesn’t like the restrain of a collar. Two words: sweater vest.
And voila! He’s ready for whatever or wherever your holiday celebrations may take you.
Not so with women. More specifically, this woman. Trying to look festive for a holiday party without looking like a giant ornament is virtually impossible. Everything is either that awful color combination I would never wear at any other time during the year, or woven with yarn that spun its way through the glitter aisle at Michael’s. Granted, I’m a bit harsh when it comes to this subject. After all, as far as I’m concerned, by its very definition, a “Christmas sweater” is a fashion faux pas that will not stumble into my closet. And don’t even get me started on velour. But take it from someone who’s searched the racks far and wide, holiday attire for women is a sorely neglected trunk in the house of fashion. I think I can rest my case by pointing to the popularity of “ugly Christmas sweater” parties.
Ho! ‘Tis the season for this Fashion Grinch to loathe her closet and covet the gifts under the other tree. The month has just begun. Holiday party number 2. And I’m already weary of Christmas wear, desperate for anything that whispers, rather than obnoxiously shouts, “Merry Christmas, I’m happy to be here and I will convey that by blinding you with sparkles”. Something classic and subtle… like pearls.
Phase I – The long-awaited call finally comes on Wednesday, October 17th. Of course, I am immediately thankful. After all, it has been one year, three weeks, and five days. More specifically, I have been waiting exactly two weeks for this particular phone call. Of course I am thankful! But I am just as quickly flooded. My mind is swimming laps around thoughts of what I need to do next. Who I need to call first. Somehow, I know this isn’t right. This is not how one shows deep gratitude for the end of a year-long drought. “Stop and be thankful”, my spirit warns. But, I already am. Aren’t I?
Phase II – At the tail end of my second unsuccessful call, it hits me: the elation, the relief, the sudden release from a heavy burden that makes it impossible to stop smiling. It’s un-containable, the joy. The realization that something has ended and something wonderful is beginning. I cannot stop laughing. I am succumbed to a complete lost for words. I am overwhelmed with the emotions of gratitude. I am swept away by the attempts to articulate praise. Where could I begin? The last year? The last seven years? The last 32 years? It all seems so much… and yet… I feel it… there’s something more.
Phase III – The uncontrollable joy turns into ceaseless tears. I try to compose myself. I try to find the words to express myself. But I cannot. I finally realize what I am truly grateful for. I understand what I must “stop and be thankful for”. As the memories flood my thoughts, I know what I don’t want to ever forget. I acknowledge that it is not God’s provisions that move me, although they are wonderful and miraculous. No, what is stirring me to blissful tears are His withholding. The comfort He withdrew, the ease He prevented, the peace He frustrated, the resources He withheld, the fiery furnace He did not cool, the prayers He did not answer, the pain He did not thwart… The circumstances, though grim, that brought me to my knees. The heart breaks, though painful, that caused me to love Him more. The fire, though scalding, that refined the gold. That is what I’m deeply grateful for – to have learned to be content with little, to stand naked before my maker with this season’s dross fallen at my feet and know that He is truly delighted; that for that perfect moment, I am purely beautiful… that is what fills me with inexplicable joy. That is when I finally learn how to be thankful.
P.S.: It’s official! I am the new Assistant Director of Student Success – FYE at Palm Beach Atlantic University!!
Why does one blog? Obviously there are varying interests, topics, niches, and reasons to start a blog; but why does one blog? What is it about these interests that makes one take the time, the energy, the risk?
In the last few weeks, I’ve written several blogs. Blogs about issues with my car. Blogs about a rough start to the semester. Blogs about being flooded by Isaac and crashing my car into a mailbox in an attempt to get away from alligators. Blogs about blogging, or lack thereof. Blogs about the HOA Nazi with a Napoleon complex terrorizing my community. Blogs about being afraid to let go and move on. Blogs about throwing fear aside and taking a leap of faith. Lots of topics, lots of reasons, but none of which were reason enough to… Speak.
In May I accepted the “postaweek” challenge and had been faithfully posting. And then a series of “unfortunate” events became increasingly catastrophic. I will spare you the details, but after the aforementioned HOA terrorist with an overwhelming sense of self-importance unlawfully had my roommate’s car towed, I had my head-spinning exorcism moment. The flowery gloves came off. The eloquent quill was down. And my “all things work together for my good” attitude was having the daisies choked out of it in a corner somewhere.
I was angry! I wanted someone to hear me roar. Yet, I was tired of hearing myself. Sure, it was cathartic to put pen to paper (or keyboard to virtual notepad) my feelings, frustrations, and lessons about what was going on in my life. But, I could only imagine the resounding gong of my woes boring or annoying everyone who read them. I mean, how many ways could I express that I was going through a difficult season of life? How much creative writing would it take to explain the lessons in my experiences? Could the world really handle any more cryptic wording about my lost dreams and broken heart? One look at TLC will prove that the world’s capacity for ___ is limitless; but I was not about to be the contributor of such torture. So, I remained silent.
And then something else happened. A friend commented, on more than one occasion, about my virtual silence. I explained that I actually had a few posts brewing, some of which were inspired by her, but that I simply couldn’t find a reason to post anything. To which she replied, “Well your blog isn’t about me. Blogging isn’t about the reader. We read to get the writer’s perspective. And what a wonderful perspective it is you have.”
This was not the first time I took a hiatus from the blogosphere. It was not the first time I worried I was becoming an endless drone. But I’ve been thinking a lot about that statement for the past few days. I thought about it until I could answer my question: why does one blog? When my story is told, I don’t want bits and pieces cut out because it was boring or repetitive. I don’t want to edit seasons of footage because I’m hard-headed and slow to learn. I want my gracious accomplishments listed right next to my glorious failures! I want people to know that I fought hard and gave up quickly. I want people to know what made my belly roll and my head turn. I want people to know that I took risks and cowered in fear. I want people to know that my daisy-loving, Christ-honoring perspective suffered devastating blows. When my story is told, I want it to be complete – whatever my reason for blogging may be at that season. I want the writer’s perspective to be true.
If you have been following this blog, then you may have noticed my attempt to write a post per week. If you are like most bloggers/readers, this may not have phased you at all. In fact, you may NOT have noticed. But for me this is quite a challenge. The WordPress “PostAWeek” challenge, to be exact. One that I accepted at the beginning of the summer in order to, well, challenge myself in my writing. I was honest enough not to consider the “PostADay” option, for the same reason my twittersphere is seriously lacking attention – I can’t imagine anyone’s life being so interesting that it warrants constant updates. Incidentally, this is the same reason I don’t like talking to my mother on the phone everyday: there are no updates. I did not get a new job. The Lord did not give my future husband a sudden revelation or ship him express overnight. I did not have a life altering epiphany that revolutionized everything I knew before. Not one thing had changed so much from the previous day that it requires a call to answer who’s new and what’s different. To be perfectly honest, even a post a week seems a bit excessive for me. But, seriously, I have had this blog for several years! So, I figured it was time to try something a little difficult. And what’s a challenge if it isn’t… challenging?
Unfortunately, as the weeks of my challenge wear on, I’m finding it harder to think of something to blog about. Is my life interesting enough? Is my life that boring??!! Granted, I am particular about what I post on my blog about my “life in no particular order”? But really, do you want to read graphic details of my freshly polished bright blue nails? Which, by the way, took two days, four coats, several fixes, and the realization that I now owe myself more money in time than what I was trying to save by not going to the salon. Maybe you would be more interested in my first world problem of hating every salad dressing I’ve tried this week – making it torturous to eat my tub of lettuce and vegetables every day? I could go on about the endless paper trail in my office that I’ve been avoiding all summer – thereby explaining why I’m typing this from the dining room table — which would inevitably lead to a tantalizing exposition about posture and the usefulness of chiropractors. Oooh! Sarcasm aside, there are of course the wonderful nuggets of gold found in the various books I’m reading; the delightful conversations with friends; the teachings from church; the frustrations with singleness; the frustrations with friends, church, and singleness; the much needed rant about all that is wrong with the government; on and on and on…
But honestly… Honestly, when I take an honest assessment, I suppose it’s not so much a lack of subject matter that’s plaguing me this week. After all, I could cleverly recount the aching of my heart as I walked away from a cute pair of shoes on clearance because I’m on a budget. Or with heartfelt emotions confess another painful blow to my derrière when I fell off my high horse on Monday. But… honestly… I’m just not in the mood to write today. I have no desire to go inside my head and come up with something clever and entertaining. I’m simply suffering from an unwillingness to speak just because someone may be listening… But, what is a challenge if it isn’t, well, challenging?