Day 50!!!

Day 50 of 100 intentional reflective steps.

I began this 100 day exercise as a way to discipline myself to write every day. Less important but also significant, I wanted to see if there were readers out there who would absorb and enjoy my particular brand of honestly, snark, humor and faith.  50 short essays and 9,000 page reads later I have arrived at the half way mark. 
I love writing. I love telling stories. I actually claimed out loud that I am a writer. (Albeit to a stranger sitting next to me on an airplane while we were grabbing each other’s asses trying to find seat belts.)  At this point “I am a writer” should roll off the tongue smoothly but it feels awkward to claim that mantle. Awkward like meeting new relatives and finding out they are all lip kissers. And lets not  even mention the fact that you have to dodge the toothpick with half of them! I feel like I am dodging, repositioning and steeling myself for a weird response. It just doesn’t feel right yet. But I’m doing it anyway.
All my life I have mentally captured images and tucked away cool words and phrases in my mind, to be pulled out for use “someday”. I dreamt what it would be like to be a writer. It just never seemed like the right time.  Now is the time. I have several articles for different publications in the works, and am playing “cat and mouse” with a book proposal. This is fun.

And it turns out being a writer is a lot like my old life, just with better editing and more illustrations. 

Day 47

Day 47 of 100 intentional reflective steps.
I was so afraid to tell my story but it felt like the right time. I have been shocked at people’s encouragement and responses. 
“Your’e so brave. You’re vulnerability is inspiring.” 
I don’t feel brave. I’m in a sword fight with a pool noodle. I feel over exposed and under prepared for opinions and criticism. And vulnerable? In a world where nothing is sacrosanct I am walking an imaginary tight rope between overshare and honesty. But I’m not a Kardashian so I will keep the most intimate details to myself.
I keep writing because its the kind of writing I would have loved to hear from others along the way. This is my truth, my struggle, my triumph and my joy.  To tell my story does not does not diminish the truth of grace, it magnifies it 100 times over. Why? Because I am still standing, breathing, living, loving and learning. 
My therapist told me, as I’ve been told many times before, “Jill. There is no way you should be alive, let alone able to function as you do. You were made to survive.” My circumstances were such that I was set up for addiction, promiscuity, crime etc. I literally should not be alive.
But I am. I am very much alive in all senses of the word; heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit. 

To God be the glory.

Day 36

Day 36 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.
Zoot and Janice

I wanted to play the sax. I imagined myself a hip, cool, wild and free saxophonist, Zoot and Janice style! Not floaty and romantic Kenny G. style.  Although, to be fair, Janice was floaty too but more in a “molly” kind of way. Sadly, I was a disgruntled pianist who, in addition to playing sax, wanted to be a brave, soaring solo vocalist.  I tried. I remember singing in a trio in high school but when I went off key, from the audience my mother put her finger up to her lips to shush me. I was mortified and swore off spotlight singing from then on. I was just a boring pianist. Sure, I successfully played for 13 years. Yes, I won competitions. Yes, the neighbors said they opened their windows when I was practicing. Yes, I had my own students when I was 13 years old. But still, it wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to play that big, unwieldy formal instrument. I was Zoot in spirit.

I fell asleep the other night crying. The last thing I remember sobbing about was “but I don’t want to be a writer!”  It isn’t that I don’t love writing or appreciate the impact of well placed words on lives. It is just that I imagined my life to be totally different right now. “I’m a teacher. A pastor. A preacher. A leader. I’m supposed to be at the microphone not sequestered to my desk writing word puzzles in anonymity that nobody will ever read.”  
If this sounds like a temper tantrum, it is. If it sounds like ingratitude, its because it is.
Twenty years ago when I moved into this small town a dear friend, retired pastor and brilliant writer used to say to me EVERY TIME I visited their house to fix their computer “Jill! You need to write. You can reach so many more people if you write. Start writing. You can do it!” He had no idea that inside my heart there were many books already started and so many stories “banked” for just the right moment. He sensed something that God was already speaking. The truth is, I may never have taken the time to discover whether writing “fit” me or not if I weren’t forced to be still, be silent and be alone. But I have and I truly love it.  “I’m listening Brother Brandt. Thank you.”

Today I thank God for the things I am, without diminishing myself or the gifts I have by wanting something else.  So with gratitude in one hand and my pen in the other the only thing I can say now is . . . how am I supposed to hold my coffee?!
6/62/208 (214)

Day 27

Day 27 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

I wandered the airport participating in a weird cat and mouse game.  A dozen or so people walked crooked lines, crisscrossing through the terminal. Our eyes darted here and there across the ground and up the walls. We walked with the attentiveness of one looking to avoid bugs skittering about. But it wasn’t critters we were looking for. Looking like odd little critters ourselves, each one dragging a corded tail, we just wanted power.

There were a variety of outlets under the seats and on the walls but it seemed that 80% of them were non functional and only a small percentage of the ones that appeared to be working actually were.  You know, kind of like constructions crews?  Only one out of 12 seems to be doing anything.  I finally landed on one that actually made the Harry Potter lightening signal on my phone light up and felt like I had won the electric lottery.  I plugged in and plopped down. My copping a squat here quickly turned our game of cat and mouse into one of sardines.  I was joined by three others who also “plugged in” with a sigh of relief.  I was happy to share my powered oasis with these strangers.

It occurs to me that any perceived source of power or strength can serve as a similar oasis. Take faith for instance. So often we can get ridiculed for sharing our faith with other people.  The reason I share my faith is because it is a shared source, ENDLESS source, of power, strength and hope for me.

Some day in the future these writings may be a similar source of power for others who are working through some of the same challenges I am. Who knows? However, currently what this writing has done for me is create a beautiful pool of people who are honoring my risk of being vulnerable and honest by cheering me on. It has been such a raw joy to find new companions and renewed faith in “old” ones through my 100 days.

27 days in and still writing.

Day 6

Day 6 of 100 intentional, reflective steps

How naked is too naked?

This is the question I keep asking myself. As of this day I have not yet nailed this blog to the social media door.  I still feel protected from the poisonous arrows of criticism, scrutiny and judgement. I want to be vulnerable and honest but I know there is a part of me that wants to stay “covered” as soon as the world (Let’s be real. It may only be 10 people.) reads it. Once this hits my “crowds” of readers will I want to cover myself to hide all the unsightliness of my soul? I think this is the line in the sand. I want to be honest but not to the point of feeling embarrassed or embarrassing others with the view of my raw exposed soul.