Spring Manifesto

April 29, 2010 § 1 Comment

It’s raining, Portland. It’s raining, but don’t be fooled.

Spring is coming. Heck, spring is basically here.

Here’s the plan:

This spring and summer, I will remember that these days, the perfect ones with the breezes and the sunshine and the irresistible flowertreesmell wafting around all poetically, these days are numbered. I will take advantage of them fully. I will frequent parks and swingsets. I will dance on my patio, I will play my guitar under stars in the backyard, I will build campfires. I will seek out the ocean and jump in it. I will go barefoot. I will drink iced tea.

I will take advantage of the amazing resources at my fingertips in this city. I will explore. I will learn new neighborhoods, take long walks, and blaze new trails. I will hike, bike, blade, skip, and paddle my way through every piece of nature I can find. I will go to the zoo and get ice cream cones. I will ride carnival rides. I will try to remember that cotton candy smells better than it tastes. I will eat it anyway.

I will be taking my meals on the patio, thankyouverymuch.

I will remember that the best things in spring are free. I will sit on my front porch with good friends and glasses of wine and watch the world go by. I will invest in long, lazy conversations. I will get to know strangers and start to call them mine. I will attend BBQs. I will wear cotton dresses and twirl my little heart out. I will sleep outside. I will make peace with mosquitoes. I will campout. I will stage midnight jam sessions with kidnapped friends in my parents’ big backyard. I will soak up the sun.

Who’s with me?

love.

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Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

April 26, 2010 § 3 Comments

When you’re 13, and easily a foot taller than all of the girls and almost all of the boys in your middle school, and you’re in theater, you are pretty dang likely to wind up playing a dude in the school play. Which is exactly what I was doing almost fifteen years ago – playing one of the mighty forest rangers in Rolling Hills Middle School’s production of Little Mary Sunshine. I’d been called back for the romantic female lead and lost it to a cuter, shorter, girly-er girl named Katrina. To add insult to injury, I had a huge crush on the male lead, and instead of being conveniently, theatrically thrown into his arms, I was cast in my usual role as his buddy. But I digress…

I found myself remembering Little Mary Sunshine last Saturday night. My friend Annie, who is fantastic in ways that merit description in her very own blog post and simply cannot be squished into this one, had a birthday party with a Great Gatsby theme. And though I didn’t have to dress as a dude, I did have to dance like one. Swing dance lessons (continuity check?) and a shortage of men put me back in my eight grade position – on the wrong side of a partnership, trying to reverse everything my body naturally wants to do and lead.

Men, we owe you an apology. We give you a lot of flack about not stepping up into your leadership roles. We complain about how you never want to get married, you never take initiative, you don’t ask us out. We whine and whine about the lack of strong, capable men who want families and responsibility and picket fences. We lament our singleness, praise each other for being patient and strong, and completely fail to consider one major detail: leading is hard, man. Seriously hard.

I mean, there I am, doing absolutely nothing that even resembles difficult on the dance floor, and I’m stressed out. What do you mean, I have to make a decision? I have to know I’m going to turn her how early? I’m losing my mind trying to keep my feet moving while thinking two steps ahead and attempting to decide what our next move is going to be. And the whole time, this girl across from me is just looking at me like “Hello? Anytime! This is painfully boring and you’re taking for-ev-er and just make a move already!” I’m caving from the pressure, and this isn’t real life. This is just a costume party in somebody’s living room.

Men, I’m sorry. I’m sorry because the task you have before you is not an easy one. I’m sorry for the times I’ve been impatient, or belittling, or just plain whiny in your general directions. But you should know, we believe in you. That girl across from you, the one looking at you like she’s never seen anyone more clumsy or awkward in her whole life, that girl has total confidence in your ability to make a good call. She’s on your side. She and I have probably spent hours talking about you, and you always come out on top. We won’t fight you if you try to turn us, and we won’t think less of you if you step on our toes in the process. We want this whole thing to go well, too, and we’ll help you out in any way we can. We’re not expecting perfection- hell, we’re bored to tears by perfection. We just want to dance. Even with, especially with, two-left footed, overwhelmed, directionless, charming, fearfully and wonderfully God-designed you.

I’m glad, ultimately, that I only have to play a dude in musicals and at dance parties. Because as lame as it sometimes is to wait, as frustrated as we sometimes get, every once in a while we get to let someone spin us around and around. And that’s pretty great.

Go tell the men in your life you appreciate them. Pray for them. Say yes if they ask you to dance.

love.

More or Less

April 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

Girls grow up constantly comparing ourselves to other girls.

All day, every day, we are trained to size each other up – on streets, in magazines, our classmates, our celebrities… a constant weighing of who is thinner/blonder/tanner/prettier/bustier/better. We learn that, in order to win this never ending competition, we need to identify flaws: “Oh, that haircut is wrong on her,” “Those pants are so unflattering,” “Ooo, sister, can we say overplucked?” Eventually, this looking for error becomes so second nature that we stop seeing whole pictures and start noticing only the pieces we think should be airbrushed away. And then, when we’ve analyzed everyone we pass, consciously or otherwise, we return to our homes/spouses/families/dogs/emptyapartments, turn our critical eye to the mirror, and tear our own reflections apart with a venom that should be exclusive to mean girl characters in teen movies.

But thankfully, finally, at different ages, in different ways, and hopefully before too much damage is done, we do grow up.

There are things I wish I could say to the girl I was, the one who was always more or less of something than the person standing closest to her. I wish I could tell moreorlesser me that I see bodies every day, and nobody, no body, is perfect, and therefore everybody (every body) is as perfect as is necessary. I’d love to tell her that every woman I meet is more of something and less of something, but every one of them is loved, and everyone has a beautiful something that is uniquely her own. When the size of your paycheck depends on finding and emphasizing that beauty, you stop seeing extra pounds or acne or wide hips or cellulite and you start identifying fabulous curves, pretty shoulders, tiny waists, and killer smiles. And when you start seeing those things in clients, you start seeing them in every girl you meet. And eventually, you confront yourself in the mirror and realize you’ve been seeing the wrong picture from the beginning.

I wish I could lend other women these rosy glasses… I wish I could take the damning words out of the mouths of friends, mothers, and voices in their heads and replace them with affirmations: You are art, don’t you see? You are fearfully, wonderfully, beautifully made. You are no more or less than you need to be. You are as you were intended. You have been always, always, always loved. Now work it, girl. Go turn the world on with your smile.

Sigh.

I wish I could see, just for a minute, what our Creator sees. I’m going to guess it’s a pretty different picture.

love.

The Lesson in the Letdown

April 7, 2010 § 2 Comments

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just constantly missing the point.

I’m usually the sort of person who gets what she wants. That sounds weird to say, but I’m persistent, and friendly, and optimistic, and generally I can combine those elements to make the things I want to happen, well, happen. Every once in a while, though, something I really want will just plain elude me. Which sucks, obviously, because it sucks to not get what you want. But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if the desire for something God simply isn’t going to give me right now exists not to torture me, but to prove something to me: God is still good, even when I’m not getting my way.

I know, I know, it’s the most basic Sunday school lesson in the history of time, but it’s also one of the hardest things to really drive into your heart. God is great, and greatly to be praised, and that is true if the sun is shining and I’m dancing in the street, and it’s true if I’m frustrated or angry or disappointed. It’s true when I’m waiting. It’s true when I’m crying out. It’s true when everything around me seems silent, and it’s true when the things I want are simply unattainable.

I used to get a lot more upset when I didn’t get my way – lose my cool and throw an adorable little temper tantrum in God’s general direction. Recently, though,I’ve been scandalously close to something I’ve been praying about for a long, long time, only to have it fizzle out before it ever really started. I want to be mad, really, and I went around in emotional circles with it for a while and spewed my heart out to a lot of my innocent friends and family. But ultimately, I can’t help but see what I gain in the losing. I get to stare disappointment right between the eyes and realize that I’m still ok. I’m still fearfully and wonderfully made, and I’m still part of something so much bigger than I am. I get to learn that the world won’t end without whatever I’m coveting at the moment, and I get to explore how to take myself out of the equation and just pray for someone because it’s the best I can offer. I get to be lifted up by my amazing community, supported, loved, and I get to trust, blindly, and wait. I’m not usually good at waiting. I’m learning as I go.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I could see the plan, understand what God has in store for me and be able to avoid the long, winding paths I seem to have to walk down to learn my lessons. I’d be superhuman if I didn’t get scared, and stuck, and itchy, and worried, and antsy. But here’s what I know: Whatever God’s plan is for my life, it’s better than what I’m able to dream up on my own. His grip on me is firm, and His love for me is solid. I can hope with confidence, because my hope is built on a promise that He isn’t going to break. God is good all the time.

Doesn’t that sound well-adjusted of me? Here’s where the missing the point part comes in: somewhere in me is that stubborn, relentless little Pollyanna voice who refuses to stop believing, who keeps on singing and hoping and generally refusing to accept defeat. She’s still convinced the whole thing could turn around at any minute, that we could still get our way after all, that anything can happen. And as much as I want to be the girl who learns, who is peacefully and happily willing to accept a closed door and what God wants to teach her, well, I sort of love that stubborn little voice. She’s got spunk. She’s a fool, but she’s got spunk. 🙂

Oy. Pray for me. 🙂

love.

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