“Cans” in the Silence (Seasons Part 2)

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Man Standing At Beginning Of Winding RoadSo this is a follow up to the blog I wrote earlier about seasons we go through that we can’t see around, over, through, or quite understand. While I’m flipping my mind over from looking at what I can’t change or what has happened that makes me sad or who I want to be but am not quite yet, I am doing some things that I can do that are positive. I’m also making goals to do more as I progress. I thought I would share some of these these “cans.”

1. Choose to speak and think more positively. Removing the words stress, worry, and fear out of my vocabulary. Not because it’s not okay to feal but because I want to choose more positive words and not reuminate. Also, I don’t want to label something a stress or worry that might be a blessing.

2. Keep a list of things I’m a appreciative of, grateful for, or that are positive on a daily basis. (I find this helpful whenever I find I’m concentrating too much on myself or have gotten in a bad/weird place) Journal about one of those positive things.

3. Rest when I need to rest. Seek true rest. I want to learn to rest not just physically but in Christ. Sabbath. Learn to practice a true Sabbath.

4. If I liked more who I was a few years ago, begin to relearn the things I was practicing then or unlearn the things that have stopped up my joy and free spiritedness. De-layer with the wisdom I’ve gained. Keep what I love and let go of what I don’t need.

5. Write more. Even if it’s hard. Even if I resist like crazy. Even if just a few sentences a day. Not only has it always been super healthy and what I believe is one of my life callings. I believe I meet with God in the gifts He’s given me.

6. Sit by the lake more. Why praise God for finding us a house near the lake if I never go be still near it?

7. Reduce the use of electornics and social media in my life. Why? It exhausts me. It’s something I’ve learned recently or remembered. I’m a bit of an introvert that knows how to skillfully function socially when needed. Too much info from any source can be heavy. Also, they’re are two points I wanted to make about social media that I wanted to make in length but I believe I can express succinctly.

*** When you are going through a difficult season or even a season of illness Facebook can be a deterant to finding joy where you are (I believe this can be true for anytime actually). Most of us are addicted to social media. Two things can happen if you’re fatigued and sick for a long period of time the only thing exciting may be scrolling through a FB feed or you can be laying there feeling sick and your brain wants to go and do and you look at a social media site and see people with makeup and cute clothes having fun and having the energy to go and do things. No, it isn’t good to compare yourself to others, but if you’re seeking to practice this idea in your life — FB is giving you know benefit in reaching such a goal. Yes, you’re happy for your friends, family, and people you slightly know but have for some reason befriended but let’s not lie. You’re struggling to have a baby or het well enough to have a healthy pregnancy and everyone on facebook is posting baby announcements. You wish you were at the beach. Everyone is posting photos from the beach. Once again, it isn’t that you’re a grinch, it is just a bit more healthy at certain times in your life not to rub your nose in something while you’re trying to overcome. So, I’m taking a break from FB for many reasons (not saying that FB isn’t good for keeping intouch with far away friends or with writing events). I’m not saying quit every social media site you’re involved with but reducing one or two and investing in quality time with friends, yourself, or a book could bring more love your way. Gossip. I’ve tried for quite awhile to be less of a gossiper. It is easier to do this when faced with the obvious avenues that gossip takes a trip on. FB instigates much gossip and is gossip in many ways. Do we pick up the phone or go out and spend time with the people we’re friends with on FB or do we scroll through their photos and read up on what they’re doing? Gossip disguised as interest. What are our motives? The other thing for me is following so much and reading up on all the celebrity sites. Over a year ago, I realized I was spending too much time on Perezhilton.com. Personally, for me, I felt like that was gossip. I will seek to illiminate some of the other sites that are purely for feeding my brain when I’m bored or having a “life” when I feel like my life is lacking. It’s gossip. Not succinct but there you go, a mini blog inside a bigger blog. :)

8. Take more prayer walks or walks where I can listen to music. At least, once a week make this walk take place in the woods.

9. Listen to positive music. My husband and I started back in the Spring keeping the radio on Christian music and worship music playing in the house. I’m not saying that’s what everyone needs but it helped me. Even if it’s not on the Christian station I’d like to stick to positive music.

10. Accept myself where I am.

11. Celebrate the little things. If I could go to the grocery store this weekend with Heath when I haven’t been able to in a month. Er, er! I’m going to celebrate that even if it doesn’t make since to anyone else. Include God on even your smallest celebration.

12. Continue to eat well and exercise. Do the best I can to help my health improve.

13. Be kinder to my husband, learn to love him more, and to find more ways to encourage and surprise him to brighten his day.

14. Bless others. Bless others. Bless others. From simple to big — anything! Bless others.

15. Reach out more even if it’s just to sit and drink tea with someone or send a card or Skype or write an email.

16. Spend more time with God. Look for God in everywhere. Listen to sermons. Paint. Write. Hear Him in the song of a bird or find Him in the crispness of the first days of Fall.

17. Get on my face before God every morning and night. I like to bow at His throne and just be quiet for a few seconds.

18. Thank myself and apologize to myself.

19. Do things to get out of my head.

20. Read things that inspire me. Right now I am amazed by another book that I’ve had but picked up when I really needed it. It’s called, Walking on Water and is a book on the life of an artist from the Christian perspective. It is why I am going to start listening to the silence and relearning the things my younger self knew.

21. Rest. (I need that one more than once.)

If any of these are encouraging to you, I’m so glad. I will keep seeking to put them into action in my life and to add more to the list.

Remember you are loved by God 100 percent whether you every move, change, or grow. You just you, as you are this moment, He’ll never love you more or less. Be kind to yourself. Seek to accept His love and love yourself like He loves you.

And she said, ‘kindness is magic, Derek. It’s more important to be kind than clever or good-looking.’ I’m not clever or good-looking, but I’m kind.”

– Derek, Netflix TV Series

(PS If you haven’t seen this show. Watch it every day!)

Listening to the Silence

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2013-01-tt-05-ia-still-life-glass-ball-reflection-of-landscape-300x200Have you ever gone through a season in your life that you didn’t understand? Of course, we all have, to some degree. There are some of us, I think, that put so much pressure on ourselves to find the answers or the lesson or to be on the other side, we forget that there is so much importance in the actual journey. Yet, I suppose if you’re a pressure-putter on yourself, like I am, you put pressure on yourself even when you’re not floating on the the boat that gets you from one season to the next correctly. Here is a bit of my thought process at a given time. I started some nutritional shakes four days ago and initially instead of just thinking of the positive changes that have occurred this morning there was a bit of this going on — What if it doesn’t do anything? What if the kelp in the milkshake slows down what my thyroid medicine is doing? I woke up too late, what if the day gets over too fast and I haven’t had enough time to rest? What if I’m not resting good enough? I’m ready to take on the world … what if I can’t do that by Thursday? I don’t even feel like I can go take a shower and dry my hair, how can I don’t EVERYTHING else I “need to do” as a wife, daughter, woman, writer, employee, friend, etc.?

Here is something that I know about myself and that I’ve known for quite awhile. I know how to look for positivity, set goals, and find the beauty in things. I was taught that at an early age and then again as an adult. (I have a great Mom and I’ve had amazing mentors and well, I have a fabulous God) Here’s the thing, most of the time you have to sift the loud to find the quiet. Have you noticed that? God’s voice, the positive thoughts, the things you do have going good or are doing well are a bit softer than the chatter at the top of the rough waves in your mind. (Thank God, if you have a quiet mind. I think mine was churning the day I was born.) However, I do know that though it’s difficult and the enemy would like for us to resist what we know is healthy and good, once you do listen to the soft and the quiet, you can work hard and train yourself to be more in tune to those things than the negative, the questioning, and the hopelessness. I know because I have. Over and over and over. Well, it’s not a one time lesson.

So, positivity for today. I slept late. (Yay! I believe God is trying to teach me about resting during this season. It was safe to get that rest.) I’ve started drinking these nutritional shakes that is #1 a healthy step in the right direction of getting, well, healthy and #2 I felt better than I did on Friday. Also, because I’m drinking these shakes I’ve had to exercise. I’m not saying I’m doing the Insanity program but it is more than I was doing last week and I’ve been doing it daily. I’ve felt less bloated, my mood has improved some, and it is giving me some energy whether it is from the bit of caffeine in it or my health improving. A little ADD is better than not being able to eat or function from fatigue.

What season are you in right now?random-wallpapers-seasons-art-wallpaper-wallpaper-30896

If there is a storm that hovers, I think that I’ve been in a season of grief, illness, stuck, loneliness, thankfulness, blessings, quietness from God, and fear of waste. All that to say some confusion and some lost. My joy has been a stolen somewhat, my vision that has only ever come from God a bit blurred, and my purpose a little unclear. I’ve called my thirties that new “training bra” and the puberty I never though I’d have to go through again. The storm has hovered or at times I’ve hovered in it. It hasn’t been a stagnant season. I am learning. (and relearning) Fear, stress, and worry will leave you looking back on a year that seems like a blur and not in a good way. Love yourself and be as easy as you would on a traveler sitting next to you on a bus or an airplane. I mean you’re not going to beat them up for not traveling in all the right ways are you? Remember, that you’re always learning in life. Always. I never want to stop learning. But sometimes, we’re not getting to choose what we learn and we’re not always learning the fun stuff. You aren’t going to make the perfect decisions or get it right the first time (ever) but especially in a season that you’re struggling to understand. Do what you can do. Don’t give up. Draw nearer to God even if you can’t feel Him. Also, no matter how isolated or alone you feel (whether it’s physically, as in a town you haven’t quite adapted to or emotionally, as is in no one could understand what this feels like or what I’m struggling with), you aren’t alone. Well, you don’t have to be. Reaching out is hard, but you’re already reaching in and that’s just as hard to do. Finally, you’re so much braver than you think you are.

God loved us too much to give us a spirit of fear, so He gave us power, love, and sound mind. It might not always seem like it, but if your His, you have it there. Grab on and believe desparately. Lightbulb. It’s okay to be desparate sometimes, especially if it’s for God.

Does the season come to a close because we learn the lesson? I’m not sure. Once again, I’m more comfortable when I have control (although we never really do). So, if we just find the answer, figure out the lesson, and learn it we can move on … I don’t think it’s up to us. I think that’s why we have to learn to float and rest in God no matter what the season. His purpose is larger than ours. I think we can keep our eyes and ears open and learn to sit.

We live in such a immediate gradification type world. At my fingertips, I have the answers to everything from what the symptoms are to a disease I can’t even pronounce, who that actor that kind of looked familiar in the background of the scene I was watching in a new tv show I like might be, or how a red dwarf is formed. The answers to the season are not on a phone or a computer or pintrest or wikipedia. Although, Heaven knows I’ve looked. We, well, at least I, have to learn to give up control. I also have to learn to keep loving myself in every season, even if I don’t like who I am when I’m learning as much as I like who I am when I’m walking in the wisdom I’ve gained from the journey. If I got up, put some mostly clean clothes on, and did the best I could. I should be grateful and kind to myself. Some seasons can kick your butt and some can take longer to fight through the resistance and see all that is going well. Sometims you have to relearn and rethink and unlearn and unthink. I believe God is teaching me to rest in a real and spiritual way. Whatever that process looks like and if I ever get it completely right before the great rest, I am learning. I am also seeking to listen to the silence.

Being in a season doesn’t mean that you’re in that season enjoy_the_silence-1920x1080forever. It doesn’t mean that your dreams don’t get to come true. That you’ll never get where you’re supposed spiritually, emotionally, or physically. Because in this life or the next it’s going to happen and fear — fear like the enemy is a liar and a thief of your moments. Don’t doubt God. Don’t doubt that you want to best for your life. Don’t doubt how big God is. Just believe and move one tiptoe at a time … scratch that, Just believe and rest. The boat will keep floating and the maker and the calmer of the storm is never far away singing songs of comfort and listening.

Listening to the silence.

The Late In Coming, Never-Ending Period

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My mouse is rolling on a book called Big Girls Don’t Cry — The Election That Changed Everything For American Women. Today I am living proof that big girls cry. It isn’t the first time today I’ve given into that particular release. Also, the election … it didn’t change everything for women. For instance, I still have ovaries and a period and one of my ovaries is still pretty mean to me. Given that I am in my last days of this wonderful July-August episode of menses I believe that you should take the truth in this and hug it and the over-emotional and appreciate it like you’d appreciate abstract art or the humor in throwing up from car sickness only to ride by later and see birds feeding off the nourishment you couldn’t keep down. It has been the late in coming, never ending period. I’m bleeding slowly, birthing the invisible nothing. Cramping out everything but the answers.

This afternoon I said I don’t want to die, but I also don’t know how to live. I’m not a “give-upper.” I’ve been the person for a quite awhile that doesn’t understand why people don’t risk bein brave. I like being brave, not always in the midst of it, but I’ve always liked leaping and having to hang tight to God — seeing what He can do when I have to stretch. I’ve been stretching for months now. So, far even, that I’m not sure I’ll elasticize back into something that is recognizable for me. Maybe that’s good and maybe it isn’t — maybe it’s hormones.

I’m so tired. My body is exhausted more hours a day than the moments it dances. I once lit up everything. Some days I feel like a shell trying to be the moon, with only a memory of how to glow, trapped in sand and drowned by the water that’s meant to refresh it. I’ve been chronically ill for so long now — it’s a bore even to talk about. It certainly hasn’t made me more interesting or appealing to be around in this town that I thought crushed my spirit but I’m pretty sure it was all the twists, turns, “let-gos,” and changes. I thought I was a trapeze artist, but you can only catch for so long before you get stuck in the net. So, I breathe.

The week after vacation was triumph. It wasn’t health but it was more energy. It was more activity. It was pushing and moving and the hint of night light. And then I got so sick again. So tired. Back to the heavy body, the swollen tummy, and the struggle to walk straight when it felt like I was walking on a belt that only moved sideways. I have a thorn and if my spirit has a side, I think that’s where it lives. I had someone tell me once that maybe I was trying too hard. Well, that’s how I remember it. She said for me just to be Amanda. So many people loved and cared. She’s probably the only Russian I’ve ever missed. Mainly because she was the only one I ever knew. I haven’t spoken to her in years and I don’t hear her that much anymore because well, I learned to hear myself. Love me. Depend only on God.

Still, I feel trapped in a body that won’t let me do all the things I want to do, in a life that for some reason I resist the things I love, I feel numb, I fight and try and do everything I know to do and the solutions aren’t there.

I feel like I was put on this earth to change it for the better. To find the beautiful. To share a story. And maybe this is another part of that story. My homeless friend Irene made me a work of art last week. She drew me a paradise.

Tonight I am struggling. I know I am blessed. But it’s easier to peek through that keyhole of all I want and yet can’t make happen when I’m bleeding and emotional. My period was late. For the second time, in six months I was late. This time it was different. I wasn’t as sick, all the symptoms weren’t there, but I guess hope comes with something being different. I suppose that went you’re not married being late can be really scary. I have a lot of love for it. However, it has hurt me twice. Less, this time around. I was ready to hold, meet, to tell her she’s beautiful, to tell her she’s loved … It makes sense that all of that would come when I’m healthy. A lot of things hinge on that and the wellness hides just outside of my grasp. I can breathe, talk, most of the times walk straight, and I’m thankful.

I want to jog, ride bikes, I want to do things with friends, find adventures, and not have to bail out of readings. At times, I let myself be. Today I felt trapped. I go home and go to work. As much as I love my husband, most of the time we see just each other. I’m like snow white sleeping. The prince there to kiss, but without the thing I crave — the dwarves (well, the community). All my snuggle friends are far away. I described it to a friend, a fellow Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland lover in a land meant for faeries at night time and bare feet dancing in a Cape Cod pub. It’s those girls that your friends with that you can just snuggle with on the couch and read or watch a movie or listen to music. You don’t even have to say anything. But those type of friends take a long time to root with and well all my live in forests far, far away having there own adventures.

Nashville has led to little community. For a introvert who loves her alone time, I’m also a craver of community. I am loved most by quality time. I suffer in a social media age. It feels kind of like waiting on the sunshine in the winter. The truth is it feels like everything hinges on my health and admittedly, fear and stress were hindering that for awhile and then they weren’t. But still no well enough to have the things I’m dreaming of come true. Not well enough to go after what I want. Just well enough to be still. I am trusting God even though I’ll feel somewhat clost to Him from a distance. I suppose everyone goes through seasons of loss and struggle and change. I pray for direction. I am hungering for meaning, because I love His whispers. I love looking for the beauty in things. I love finding gratitude in the moments. But I am weary and worn and my eyes they’re not lit from within like they used to be.

The truth is I have the best husband in the whole world. The truth is God has given me so many desires of my heart. The truth is I am loved by so many people. The truth is that I get to share my words. The truth is that I get to talk to the homeless. The truth is I have a job where people are kind and like my help. The truth is that I took a chance for a relationship I believed in and so, the transition wasn’t easy but the relationship is worth it.

The truth is happiness isn’t a feeling.

The truth is I won’t be tired and stuck forever.

The truth is there has to be meaning and purpose.

God is too big to keep me around for no reason.

Not after all the times He’s healed me before.

I love Him.

I’m having trouble finding my happy.

I need …

Sipping Water on a Saturday in a Coffee Shop — Old Hickory, TN

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Today is a sitting on the couch, beside a newly checked-out book about Mother Teresa, rainy Tennessee afternoon. Yesterday, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????at least I had an answer for the pressure on my body, the big pain, the knots in my shoulders, leg cramps, and muscle spasms. This morning, I woke up in a lot of pain. I was foggy from sleepiness and I couldn’t get my body to move even though my mind had things to do upstairs. I cried in a great big hug my husband gave me, my head on his shoulder. He did the most beautiful thing he could have. He held me while I cried. While I talked about a garden I wouldn’t get to work in. Babies I wouldn’t get to have because it’d put to much strain on my body. Tea that I wanted to make that was just upstairs was hard for me even to get to … He made me speak positivity. He asked me if I believed in a big God and that he could heal me. Yes. Then, he prayed for me. What was important for me after that was that I got out of bed. Yes, it would have been one hundred percent okay for me to stay in and rest as much as I’ve traveled in the past 24ish hours. After two shots yesterday and a new medicine last night, I believe sleeping in all day was permissable. However, I got up. I needed to do something fun. To expect more out of my day. I needed to overcome the pain. I wanted to spend time with my husband. Admittedly, I had to give up the “showering, makeup, and cute outfit” aspect. But I put on some shorts, a tee, pulled up my hair and went on a trip of discovery with my love.

We began at a cute little coffee shop in our new town that we haven’t ventured out in a lot. We ate brunch and had a devotional. The beginning started out rocky. I was still groggy and in some pain and boy did I make the girl at the counter wait as I oscillated from choice to choice where my brunch was concerned. A few tears fell at the table, but I ate … Heath read a devotion from my “Freedom Refresher” book that I got after my spiritual cleanse in a time long ago. Then, I read Ephesians two out loud. I especially took to heart the part about God preparing good works for us to uniquely do in advance. Before I was born, God new what He would have me to do to love on His people and advance His kingdom. That was special to me and comforting because the last few months I’d been living in a lot of fear. God knew I wasn’t going to take the path most people my age took — that I had some healing to do, that I would graduate college late, that I would have the desires of my heart fulfilled and move to New England for two years, and that I would find the man I wanted to be with in my early thirties. I’m not “too late” for Him. I guess I’m right on schedule. Also, something I realized in a song this week. My fears DO NOT make God a “promise-breaker.”

After we ate and spent time talking about the devotion, we chatted with the owner and got invited to visit a church that seems to be doing some unconventional and spectacular things for the community. We visited some small business and found an artsy place that offers classes. We enjoyed conversing with the woman that owned the art center but also Heath found an opportunity to step forward closer to a dream he wants to see realized and I make get to teach a poeCome-Be-My-Lighttry workshop for kids. Finally, we went to the local library. Small and precious. I immediately found a movie I wanted to watch, a book of Mother Teresa’s writings, and a CD of Classic Musicals from the movies. None of this would have happened if I would’ve chosen to lay in my physical pain today. It’s not right or wrong. It was just a blessing.

The enemy likes to come at me with the fear of death. That fear had intensified in a colossal way since February. Consumed my life no matter what I did. It has caused me to forget who I am. How special I am to God. That God isn’t through with me. It’s caused tears and physical pain. It’s caused guilt over feeling like a bad follower of Jesus because I want to have more time with Heath and have a baby. Shame over succumbing to something that I know is irritional, especially in the light of the promises of God. But life is a battle. The light comes on and we shake out of lies we’re believing. We seek to overcome the darkness and fear because we were made to be brave. I love getting to be brave with God. I don’t always love the struggle. Finding out about Fibromyalgia wasn’t like discovering that my poetry book go picked up by a mainstream publisher or something. However, it was a blessing in it being an answer that took my eyes off my fears and gave me something that wasn’t life-threatening to seek to overcome. To seek healing for. To get up for every day even after I fall down. Somewhere in the journey we have to realize, it isn’t that life is unfair, it’s that perspective and gratitude are so important. If God is with me, I’ll go anywhere. Somedays crying, somedays kicking and screaming, somedays waking up and walking forward.

Happy Ten Years! Cheers! — for there are days I don’t even remember I used to wear the label “cutter.”

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broken chains“My chain are gone, I’ve been set free …”

 

There’s no rule that says you can’t celebrate a victory from your past while you’re walking through something you so desperately want to overcome in the present. This is a lesson I’m glad I have the compassion to realize in my life today, at thirty two years old. Today I wanted to wake up with ten years of healing, greeted by a day of gusto, energy, and something that God and I could do to celebrate together. What I found was a partly cloudy day (with sunshine at the moment) and a breeze that higlighted bouts of tears — some of thanksgivng and connection with God, some of fear and sadness, and some of just tears (because this happens to a lady once a month). I almost didn’t go to church. I was struggling a bit emotionally and my physical health has left easy tasks a bit more exhausting recently, but I wanted to be in God’s presence. This victory is His and mine. No one can know how great the darkness was, could have been there with me in the scary moments, and no one knows how immense the healing, how blessed a redemption, or could have shown me what a palpable thing true Grace is. No one but my Papa. So wearily I walk into Parkway Baptist Church in Madison and as I’m waiting for my sweet husband to come out of the restroom I here a song that has been special to me for quite some time wafting behind the people opening and shutting the doors to the sanctuary. In a church where every time I’ve visited they’ve sung mostly beautiful hymns, comes a contemporary praise song that in the past God has sung straight into my spirit.My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, My God, my Savior has ransomed me, And like a flood His mercy reigns Unending love, amazing grace …

There are some things that I am blessed to say in my life that I know from experience about victories and miracles. Truthfully, I’ve never understood why I’ve had so many when there are plenty of people who are desparately crying out for a specific one. I choose to be thankful and I choose and then try to remind myself to choose when I am not, to never take for granted the healing and the miracles (plural) that God has done in my sweet life. I’ve learned that victories that come from God’s healing are to be grateful for, to bring glory to him, but they are not there to be dependent on forever. God bringing me out of the depression, the cutting, and the eating disorder that really should’ve taken me out of this world was a huge victory in my life. There were days where I couldn’t make it hours without cutting myself or throwing up something I’d eaten. Ten years! Ten years since I’ve taken something sharp to hurt and bleed because my life was out of control, because I couldn’t be perfect, or I couldn’t stop pain that was happening to myself or others emotionally. I am thankful of that every day of my life, but it cannot be the last victory. Every day there is a chance for another miracle, no matter how big or small you just have to keep looking through the special vision only God can give. I can’t rest on something accomplished in my past.

It isn’t the last thing I’ll have to overcome. It’s a struggle some days right now to stand up or walk up stairs. I promised myself that because God set me free from paralyzing fear during the four years I really struggled deeply with self harm in my life, those days when I couldn’t leave a dorm room only watch other students enjoying life from those huge windows on the third floor … that when he broke that bondage to the kind of fear that makes you afraid of yourself that I would never walk in fear again. Yet, I’ve found myself in a season of painful fear. Does it make what God did in my life any less than a miracle? Absolutely not. But that huge addiction that God helped me to overcome in my life, well He never said it’d be the last thing I struggled with. Today I believe it makes this sort of celebration even more special because I know that I’ve overcome fear worse than this before and circumstances scarier and because today I know the tools to walk out of it. Miraculous in itself. I might now be a doctor and I might not know how to stop the body cramps, the whacky heartbeats, and the dizziness, but I do know who to go to with my fear. Which is why when I thought about how to celebrate my anniversary today with God and nothing significant popped out, I knew the answer was to share and share honestly.

Last year, Heath and I had our reception on June 1st. I didn’t think about the anniversary it represented on that day, but it was such a special date that worked out in a way that never could’ve been a coincidence. We had a huge party. I danced with Heath, I danced with my Dad, his Dad, and I danced with my Papa. I radiated joy. It was a great way to celebrated life and a new life with Heath.

I think we put so much emphasis on numbers. 5 years. 10 years. 20. 50. What makes them more special than 1, 39, or 17? Today is special because I’m living. I am in a season where I’m struggling at times, but I am living. I was floating in a sensory deprivation tank Friday night for an artist’s project I’m doing and I thought ten years ago I would’ve been cutting to get through a time in my life like this. Today, I’m already anxious from this season in my life and I’m naked, floating in tank, nervous, but I made it through the 1.5 hour session whole and intact. So, today is quieter but no less celebratory. I guess if you can revisit your fear and even if you have to crawl somedays and be really happy the days you feel like yourself … well, you keep going and you remember what a beautiful and different person you are — an overcomer then and now. I am learning to love myself over again, even when my chest hurts and the view of my life is through dizzy eyes that reflect a little more fear than I’d like them to.

Today I thanked God for being my warrior. Because even when I was stuck in the darkest addiction of my life He never left me. Because even though it was scary and I didn’t understand why it was happening, He was blessing me. When I went to sleep with a paper towel stuck like glue with my own blood holding it to skin that would scream in the shower in the morning, I held my hand in the shape it would have been in if another’s hand was grasping tight and I asked God to hold my hand while I was scared. I believe He did. When I was locked behind heavy doors in a mental hospital He was there — through the people I met, those that protected me, through the lives I got to touch, through a man that found a relationship with Him there, through tears in a bed when medicines made me sick, and as I read His word on that same bed clinging to Him for my very survival. Through the love of family, friends, and therapists. Through recovery after recovery. When I shouted at Him, questioned Him, and almost gave up, He was there. At a funeral, He brought a mentor. When, I drooled down my own face watching I Love Lucy with a group of othres in the same type of pain as me (the day that takes the place of and while you’ll never here me say “today was the worst day ever”), He never left me. So, today, ten years later when I cry in fear over a life that maybe I love too much. He isn’t as far as I think He is. I know He’s wiping the tears.

It’s our celebration today. Many more victories still to come. Always, grateful He’s loved me enough to not just walk with me when I can see Him, but when I try to take back the control that was always meant to be His. Happy Ten Years! It has been ten years of blessings, more miracles, and beyond my imagings of dreams coming true. Enough to fill an entire book.

Did you know that I met my husband sharing my story of healing to a group of girls in a detention center in Alabama? Think on that a minute. If I hadn’t have gone through that time of pain and darkness, I never would’ve had a story to share. God works in beautiful ways. I’m not the only life that was saved because the enemy didn’t win ten years ago and I don’t take credit for all that happened afterwards, but WOW, redemption is not just an idea it is an amazing reality.

Honest and real I wanted to share. I am thankful today where I’m and hopeful because of what I’ve had to overcome before, that there is a light out to something healthier for my body and my mind once this season is complete. Gratitude.

I also honor whatever you’re seeking to overcome today. Stick with it. Cry out to Him. It’s more than worth it.

 

 

 

 

Then I saw Heaven open wide — and oh! a white horse and it’s Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of Kings, Lord of Lords. — Revelation 19

Easter Shoes

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Just a little bit of self-promotion and then writing to fall in the next few days. I have much to purge from my heart — and head.

Easter Shoes is a poetry book that I put together from my undergrad thesis manuscript. If you’re a local Nashville poetry fan, I have also been reading from it for the past two years. It is available now on Lulu.com and Amazon. Please check it out and support an avid lover of words. Feel freed to read it, take it in, review it, and share it with someone who needs to connect with the poems on its pages.

Much love to all who read my pieces and come out to hear them here in Nashville,

 

Amanda

 

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Hold The “Pee Stick” Downward or What to Expect Even If You May Not Be Expecting

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It has occured to me that all of you might not know Lily. Lilienne.I knew the connection to this post would be much harder if I did not introduce you to her … Lily is my daughter. I’ve had her for about 6 years now, but she’s still up in Heaven until she gets to come into my belly and meet us. My husband and I. All of us.

It was during/after the Oscars. The in which Kate Winslet FINALLY won. I was dressed up as usually watching the broadcast in my room. (I don’t like to watch with other people because I like to daydream, write my speech in my head, and I don’t like the speeches on TV to be interrupted). I began to think about the daughter that I wanted to have. I wanted to dress up and watch the Oscars with her, wake her up just to watch it snow or look at the stars, go on those adventures where you just pick roads one after the other and see what kind of fabulous destinations you find. I wanted to hike with her in the woods and show her all the things that I learned as a naturalist in New England. It was that night that I knew that I was going to have a little girl and name her Lily. I felt it. God speaks to me in special ways and I that promise. I wanted to have her whether it was just the two of us, whether she came through me or was addopted. Two fabulous ladies making life a beautiful adventure. I loved her so much. I began to share her with people. One reason was that my cousin’s were having babies around this time and I didn’t want them to take that name. The main reason was that I wanted to be able to tell her when she finally got her that her family loved her so much before she was even born. I wanted her to be born into love like that. So lots of people know about Lily. My friends in

other states, other poets, my cousin’s little girl, Hadley. When I met Heath (my husband) before we even dated I knew he looked like Lily. He had to love her before we even thought about marriage because I knew she would be apart of my life. He did.

A few days after my period was finished in Jauary, I had a huge mood swing in the car on the way home from Gallatin with Heath. When I got home, I got a fishbone stuck in my throat and did a lot of self-examination (that’s a whole other story). The next day I realized I hadn’t been acting a whole lot like myself and I apologized to my husband. I thought maybe my thyroid was acting up. For the next three weeks, I felt a sickness I had never known before. I’m always fatigued but I felt a tired that was double what I normally felt and came home on a Friday and went to bed at 6 PM and stayed there until the next morning. My breasts became very sore (this is something I don’t normally have with my cycle). I was nauseous like I’ve never been in my life. It was kind of like being seasick in my brain, I felt that my knees would buckle, and it was hard to walk very far. Smells made it worse. I never threw up but I felt like this every day for three weeks. Originally, I thought I had a UTI and some thyroid issue. In the beginning, my mom said, “Do you think you’re pregnant?” My answer was no. I’d just gotten off my period and it was fine. It was too soon. But as the days continued and the symptoms fell into place it was hard to ignore the idea.

Not to mention that there were signs. God speaks to me in special ways unique to Amanda. He has since I was a wee little girl. I’ve always had a special connection with Him. I’d put a movie in the Netflix queue that I’d seen the preview for a very long time ago. It arrived and one Sunday we finally got around to watching it snuggled up in the bed. The movie was, “The Incredible Life of Timothy Green.” The story is about a couple that cannot conceive and they write down all the things they wan they’re kiddo to be and bury these papers in their backyard. In the middle of the night, a boy comes into their house. Through a season he teaches them how to be parents and at the end of the movie they adopt a little girl — Lily. It stayed with me the next day as if it was something I was meant to pay attention to.

The first weekend after the pregnancy symptoms began Heath and I went to breakfast at Cracker Barrell. That morning whe we cuddled and talked we thought there might be a little Lily growing inside my belly. I felt so beautiful in his presence and so loved by him. We went to the toy section and there was a little blonde-headed girl beside Heath. She was talking to a woman that I thought must’ve been her grandmother and the lady called her by name, “Lily.”

When we were at the table that day, I told Heath I didn’t think all these things being brought to our attention was a coincidence. God works with me in this way and I try to pay attention to the little things. He said he would need a little more time to believe but he thought it was strange. That next night we went to church and I was still feeling so lightheaded and nauseous I thought wer were going to need to leave. This is when the pastor stood up and started talking about all the new moms and babies in the small church, “You may even be pregnant now …” He said. Heath put his arms around me. I was in a bit of a awed state, a daze. I knew I couldn’t go to the doctor until Monday, but when we’d gotten there I asked God to show me himself that He was better than any doctor could ever be. The pastor talked about being a parent and I took many notes. Heath and I have this thing where we right something affirming on each other’s arm during service. On his hand I wrote about how he’d be the best dad ever. Later, while we were sitting behind a couple with a little infant he wrote on my palm, “Loving Mom.” The next day we received a postcard in the mail that was not for us and it said, “Lily.” Heath was like, “Okay, God we get it.”

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It was a precious time for the two of us. His face would light up when I had a pregnancy symptom. When he left for work he’d say, “Bye, Lily’s Mom.” I felt so special. Very sick but special. I shared with my boss and my supervisor that I thought I might be pregnant. For several reasons … I wasn’t feeling like myself, at times I felt faint, and we had a huge conference coming up and it was going to require longer hours and I knew I’d been having to go to bed early and getting grouchy and sick when I didn’t.

The weeke before the conference we hand delivered invitations to the governor’s office, house of representatives, and the senate. I was very fun but it was my sickest day yet. I remember crossing the street and thinking about something that I believe was a blessing. All my life I’ve heard people/parents say you’ll never realize how much you can love a child until your a parent yourself. Somehow feeling this sick for someone else made me realize in a smidgen of a way how that could be amazingly true. You carry something for nine months, your body changes, you become so protective, and your sick for this little person in a mega big way. You couldn’t know that unless you were a mom. Not in that exact way.

I became protective of this little fertilized egg I thought was in my belly. During this time, I took a few tests way too early and some closer to when my next period should come. It was a hard wait. This is when I realized that having a baby is not like on TV. You imagine peeing on a stick and immediately having a response and finding a cute way to tell your husband and later to surprise your family. I did all theose things. The daydreams, the peeing. But I got negative responses. I trusted how intuitive I am about my body and the way God was speaking to me. Although, knowledge can be a blessing and a curse and this is where the internet comes in.

I knew we were buying a house for the first time and it probably was not the best moment to be pregnant. I also knew that all my life big things have happened all at once. I think God does that sometimes so that we have to draw nearer to Him and cling for dear life. So overall Heath and I were at peace and content. I felt happier even at work. I felt like I had a special something inside. I was so excited. There were days later where the enormity hit and I felt overwhelmed. There were days when the internet gave me too much hope. I began to pin things. (See Pintrest.com) I began to look up pregnancy symptoms. I began to get very excited. And then there was the conference.

I work like clockwork (my body). I was late. The only time this has ever happened is an extremely long time ago when I was purging and in May when I came off my birthcontrol. I was having symptoms unlike my normal PMS symptoms and I was late. At the conference, I felt nauseous and super tired. I also felt very faint at the reception Tuesday night and I couldn’t definitely tell when I waited too long to eat. I was sure Lily was coming.

Wednesday afternoon after lunch we started packing up and I began to have big cramps. This also is not the norm for me cycle-wise. Mostly, I have back pain with my period. I went to the bathroom and when I looked at the toiled tissue there was a skinny blood vessel. I broke into tears. This is the way I normally start my period. I was devastated. No it hadn’t been the “right” time. No we weren’t “trying.” However, I’d already fallen in love with her, spoke to her, had been protecting her. I was so happy to meet Lily. Finally.

I went and got my boss. He gave me a hug and called Heath to come and get me because I was really sick and shaking. When Heath got there he drove me home in light snow, took me upstairs, changed me into pjs, and put me into the bed. My heart was broken. I sobbed. I was angry and confused. I was upset with God because I didn’t believe He would show me those things for no reason. I was hurt because yes I wanted to have time to build a life with Heath with just us but I felt so excited to carry his sweet baby. I talked to my Mom who tried to sooth me, but the tears kept coming. Yes, God’s timing is perfect. But I wanted to hold Lily in my arms. My doctor called and this is where the hope I tried not to let seep to far into my soul comes in. He thought I could have had an egg fertilize and not implant in my uterus and that I might be miscarrying or I could still be pregnant.

So more waiting. He wanted me to make an appointment to have a quantitative serum blood test. So that the OBGYN could monitor my HCG levels and see what was going on. The next morning there was pink on the toilet tissue and I lost it again. The internet had told me about implantation and breakthrough bleeding. This could mean nothing bad. For several days, once a day and then later two to a few there would be pink. My hopes grew again. Lily might still be in there. It was a painful and confusing process. At times I felt very alone. I have a super sweet, supportive husband, but it wasn’t his body that was changing for three weeks, it wasn’t him trying to protect this little thing inside, and do everything possible to stay off his feet and anything else thinkable to stop what might be the inevitable. I knew that once a miscarriage started it couldn’t be stopped. I knew that. I got down on my face more than once in front of God and I told him I believed Him. I asked Him if it be His will for us to have her that she’d be okay.

And I waited. And I loathed cliches. I hurt. I hoped. I cried. I felt excited. I read too much on the internet. I trusted that everything was going to be fine. It was a logic Heath adopted earlier than me. If we were to have a baby we’d be excited and if not we’d get some time to continue bonding alone in our new house. I agreed inside, but down deep I wanted her so much. My breasts continued to be sore and I craved Cheesburgers and Kool-Aid. On Monday night of this week, I started cramping again and it turned into the flow of a regular period before slowing down a bit again. Again, I read some women bleed during early pregnancy. I went to the doctor because the appointment was already made and I needed a new OBGYN anyway. In the waiting room, I felt a bit silly. I wasn’t having the symptoms really anymore. Not since Saturday or Sunday. I knew I most likely just felt things too early and the baby hadn’t implanted or I wasn’t pregnant. Heath said, “I’m praying for you.” Again, I felt so loved. He’d told me earlier in the week, “Amanda, God promised you Lily, right?” I nodded. “Well, then this is not Lily. If God promised you Lily then she knows to stay in your belly.” (I told you I have the best husband.)

The doctor did want to do the test to rule out pregnancy, but she explained something to me. I was so blessed that day to be with a doctor who would talk to me and listen. She said sometimes for no particular reason your body can produce way more progesterone than it needs. This can cause a chemical pregnancy or cause pregnancy symptoms — extreme fatigue, breast pain, nasusea. Basically, your body is tricked into thinking it’s pregnant. It can make your period late and make it more painful. This made sense to me. It also felt good to have a doctor beleive me and that I wasn’t just making things up. I know my body. I’ve lived in in for 32 years. The test hasn’t come back yet, but I don’t think it’ll be positive.

This has been a hard experience. At times blissful. At times hard to handle physically. At times heartbreaking. I don’t know why God showed me all the things He did. I’m not angry anymore at Him. Just asking Him to give me the lesson. I am grateful for the things I realized and learned. During this time I thought of how much I loved someone who might not have ever been there. I only felt those changes in my body for three weeks or so. I can’t imagine losing a baby to miscarriage later on, to stillbirth, or even to lose a child in general. Mothers are strong, beautiful, overcomers. I also realized that I loved Lily for so long before she “got in my belly” of course I was excited to finally “have her in there.” If I can love and protect and want the best for her now, how much more when she really gets in there. It was an interesting experience to go through. A lot of the pregnancy stuff with no beautiful baby at the end. Lots of women go through that on a bigger scale every day though. Maybe I was just meant to share. I’m not trying to be naive or to even know how much worse it feels as pregnancy progresses and the end result is not positive. I just know I wanted her so much. It still hurts some down deep. Like having to return a special gift before you are ready to … I do know it’s much more than a plus or minus on a “pee stick” and there’s so much love in trying to hold something in so that it doesn’t slip away before it’s supposed to. I wanted to be able to tell Heath on Valentine’s Day that he’s going to be a Daddy. That time will come. I will cherish this time for what it was and keep trusting God’s plan for me and for Lily.

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 Trust what you know about your body. Trust God. Never give in to the lie that you are silly, dumb, or naive. Love yourself. Love your experiences. Just love a lot.

Sometimes Even At 32 A Day Can Become “Urinetastic!”

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Today. In this moment. I feel pretty. I say this because I’ve been having some difficulty adjusting to outwardly aging. Also, because I’m trying to marry the how young I feel and how fast I believe the year count is going. It’s not a bother. It’s just an adjustment. Many things ment this. Helping others. Drawing nearer to God. Watching videos of inspirational people that I admire for their stories. Remembering the truth that some people lose limbs, are born with handicaps (though end up being more motivated and amazing than people who weren’t), and without the opportunities I’ve had, so I need to get on with changing the world and worry less about my face and wrinkles that came from smiling and laughing. The fact is I think older women are beautiful, but no one ever teaches us how to transition from one decade to the next. All the magazine would have us believe 50 year olds look like 19 year olds …

But this story isn’t about 50 year olds. It’s more about 50 dollars and the tale is “Urinetastic!” At least, that is how I would rate it and I’m the one who lived it. 50 dollars. It was the set price for gifts for a dirty santa game we played over Christmas. I thought it was too much. For 50 dollars you can draw names and get someone a thoughtful gift that they’d really like instead of spending fifty dollars and getting something you’d never use or want. Alas, the dirty santa fairy smiled on us and we got to play. I’d been wanting a massage for some time and I ended up with gift certificate for just that. I picked it for the third time and it was locked. It was frozen. It was mine.

I didn’t even know if the company existed in Nashville, but oh how I longed to feel my body relax in that way. Stress oozing away. In the end, I decided to get a facial. I’d wanted to try one for a long time and I thought it would be healthy for my skin, plus all the aforementioned word paraphanalia in paragraph one. It was set. 5:30 PM. Green Hills. Facial. Ah … (which are also my initials)

About 3:50 I went to the restroom at work, squatting as we girls tend to do. Well, sometimes I sit on my hands but I’ve stuck my hand in strangers’ pee too many times to do that consistently now. As I was squatting, my mind wandered. I saw a Christmas tree needle from our artificial work Christmas tree that I’d taken down earlier in the day on my new boot and leaned over to pick it off. I leaned all the was over. What is that sudden fountain of warm liquid making your pants and new red, silky Christmas underwear soaked? Why that’s your own urine you sweet, fabulous 32 year old woman! Great, I thought. Maybe it was just a little. No way. So I pulled my pants off. Stuffed my underwear in my pocket and tried to blot. I didn’t want to go home first and get out in the cold and get stuck in traffic and be late for my first facial. I needed relaxation! Thinking it would dry in the car on the way to Green Hills, I still couldn’t quite push out of the mind that I was going to a ritzy part of town smelling of urine. Did I wrap my sweater that I keep at my desk around my waste and throw on my coat? Ummm … of course not. What my coat didn’t cover, I hoped my purse would and I walked in the cold toward the parking deck. This is where I turned on the heat and sat on a car air freshner. Sorry, Glade, but this flat, bony hiney was crying out for you.

It dried mostly and somewhere along the way I resigned to the fact that if people I didn’t know though I smelled like pee for I don’t know an hour of my life while I was in deep relaxation I could live with that. Was it in the back of my mind in the waiting room during a close intake session with the person that pre-questions you? Yeah. Was I awkwardly commando in some not so fabulous to be commando in pants with sticky urine on my legs. Yes. Before the facial, the asked me if I need to go to the restroom. I said yes. I also reminded myself to focus and do it better this time. I walked bare butt over to the paper towels, wet them, and wiped up and sprayed the outside of my pants with Lysol. This would have to do. When they took me in I was told to lie down on a heated table in a dark room while a lady pampered my face and massaged my neck, back, and collar bone area. Was it “Unrinetastic!” Oh, my gosh yes! I think a lot during massages and always misask or don’t ask for the correct pressure saying “Ow!” over and over again in my mind. I couldn’t believe it when the facial was over and walked out like a drunk girl. That’s how relaxed I was and just like some drunk girls I already peed my pants.

Sometimes we have to just laugh at ourselves, accept things, and relax. Sometimes even at 32 you have to embrace the “Urinetastic!”Image

Hope To Stir The Love For Writing Within (And I Waited One Week and Two Days to Post This)

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I want to start writing again. This statement is in reference to the fact that I haven’t written very much at all in the last two years. But it does indeed spring from a deeper well altogether. I began acupuncture a few weeks ago and on Thursday evening, I’m pretty sure the nice lady that was sticking me with needles shoved one right into my brain. I had a headache down the back of my head for most of the next day. Not to worry, though, this hope I am sharing with you does not come from my brain (that may or may not have a thinly shaped hole from an acupuncture needle). It comes from the creative part of my soul.

I’ve been reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. I don’t read a lot of books on writing, but I enjoy her very much and so far the book is just what I need. I want to write again. With this desire comes more specifics. I want to write again because I love to write. I want to write again because there are things I need to say. I want to write again because I need to get out the everything I need to get out and stay healthy and whole. I want to write because I’m daydreaming and imagining. I want to write because I’m passionate and I’m learning new things. Trying to figure out new things. Because I’m good at it. Because God lends you a gift and you don’t just shove it down into your intestines and try to hold it there.

The summer after the 5th grade I got a desk in my room. I sat down at this desk and I began to write. I wrote because … I wrote. That summer I’d fallen in love with Star Trek: The Next Generation and it was going off the air. I began a novel with a young girl not too much older than I was who was the daughter of two of the main characters. I wrote her story. I wrote their story. And in a way, I wrote who I was, what I was feeling, what I wished I could be, and I began to find a voice for this character and most likely for myself through the creative process of writing. I want to write again — just like that.

I don’t want to rely on writing for identification reasons. I don’t want to always answer, I’m a writer. “What do you write?” Poetry. Memoir. Plays. I had three plays produced. I worked on a novel at residency in Vermont. I studied with my favorite writer. These are amazing things, but they are not who I am and they are not why I write.

I believe writing is to share. That we all have a story, a perspective, a vision that someone else can relate, connect with, or benefit from if we are willing to share in a real and honest way. I want to write more to not share. At least initially. I feel like right now I mostly just have my prayer journal that I keep to myself. I want to go back to just writing something I want to call and share with my best friend or read to my husband. I want to do away with that pride or attachment that any creative person has and stop checking to see if the blog I just posted has been read, commented on, etc. I want to write just to see what comes out. I want to write because I want to see where a character goes. I want to sit down and write fanfiction just because I miss the characters or the TV show and it gives me joy to revisit them.

It’s not that I don’t want to “be a writer.” It’s not that I don’t want to fulfill a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl. However, I want to write because of the “fun of it.” I want to sit down once a day and just write anything whether it comes out at a reading or stays on my computer until I’m long gone. I am a writer. And while it’s nice to be published or study with cool people or do readings or have creative friends. I used to write because I had to, because it was part of who I was … I used to write because there was a computer on a little desk in a room decorated with gymnastics medals, Star Trek: TNG posters, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas photos. I used to share my work by passing it around in the hallways or watching the face of a friend in the desk next to mine. It’s not that I wrote to be something, but that I was becoming more me and more aware of who I was because I wrote. Sharing words is important, but everything need not be a blog or a post or something that hangs out there waiting for feedback.

Without the byline, without the esteem, without explaining who I am by explaining what I’ve accomplished I want to write. Everyday. Sometimes in secret. Just for the joy. Just for the experience. Just because it is what I was made for. In the still, in the quiet … Just me and the Gift-Giver. Just a lover of words.

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Struggling to “The Least” When the Love of Others Propels You “Up”

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201209-omag-conflict-balloon-284x426 imagesMy mind is in a bit of confusion. While my spirit is calm. It could be the good for of exhaustion I’m experiencing, the coffee, or, you know, just me. But here’s something I was thinking about yesterday.

It is beautiful to be loved on and to be made to feel important by others. I believe we should give that gift to one another as fellow human beings in a community of sojourners. However, where it can become a problem is when we start believing we’re important. It’s a thoughtful concept I was thinking on in reflection of a work even this weekend. It personal thought in taking inventory of my inner self. I can be appreciative of others treating me in lovely ways, but while I may be important to them relationally or in my role on a team. I am not important. I am a servant. I will constantly ask God for that reminder in prayer and seek to remind myself moment by moment. In a healthy way, I am always to make my self the least. It is my desire to be humble and to serve. So I must remember that having beauty and recognition and appreciation fed into me is not to make me go up and up like a colorful balloon into the clouds. I am to be more like a floating balloon. I go up when encouraged (in that sweet breeze) and then I let the heaviness of gravity (or a great, divine God) bring me back down to earth. I am constantly moving. Yes, maybe that’s how this thing is supposed to work we lift up others and we they lift us up as well, but we seek to bring ourselves back down. We ask God to lovingly push us back down. And we are full, like a balloon with His love. Satisfied. Up and down, up and down. Never just up.

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