Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bullying: it's not just child's play

This is a story I have been reluctant to tell, and I know I certainly cannot share a lot of the details because of the situation, but I have to share something.

Have you every been rolling along in life, just thankful for the pleasantries and lack of drama and then BAM? That is sort of what happened to me. People would ask for updates or want to catch up on life, and I would almost feel bad that I did not have an area of life I really wanted to complain about or express distress or frustration in. Don't get me wrong; I was very grateful for my life. I just did not want to come across as a naive and out-of-touch Pollyanna. But life was good.

And then I became a target of harassment, unfortunately mixing both my personal and professional life. My bully had been a friend, someone who claims Christianity. But the words and actions were not those of a friend, not those of Christ. It was malicious, and intended to shame, intimidate, and humiliate me. Sure, I felt threatened. I found it hard to sleep for weeks. I found myself looking over my shoulder and jumping at slight startles. I found myself feeling anxious more than I would like. I was nauseated and infuriated. But shame? I felt ashamed I had nurtured a friendship with someone who did not have my best interest at heart, who sought to betray me. Intimidation? I felt empowered to shut the bully down, stand up for myself, and take appropriate actions to find justice and comfort. Humiliation? I felt validated and respected by those I had to interact with throughout the situation.

The intent was to tear me down, but it really built me up. It reminded me how I have grown. I have experience with harassment and bullies. I am familiar with the dark, and you know what? It does not overcome. There is a grace that shines brighter than any darkness I have known. It is a grace that gives patience and self-control, when my natural tendency would be to fight the situation myself and act impulsively. This is a grace that gives confidence and assurance I can distance myself from continued harm and an unhealthy relationship. It means I can seek justice and intervention without needing to control the outcome. It is a grace that points me to trust in Him who comforts and redeems--who was also despised and betrayed. It is a grace that illuminates the darkness and reminds me it does not win. It is a grace that compels me to pray for the hurting and offending heart, that peace and love would manifest within. Father, forgive my offender for she does not know what she is doing. My natural inclination would be to feel resentful and harbor a hardened heart. But grace softened that.

God upholds, governs, and sustains. What others mean for evil, God means for good, to bring life and hope to me and to others (my translation of Genesis 50:20). This is why I share. I have seen a great Light, and I know that darkness does not overcome.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Life Lately

What I've read recently: Name All the Animals: A Memoir
So good. The writing is poetic and raw and sucks you in. The true story is of the author's high school years after she lost her brother in a tragic automobile accident. Her family is close and very Catholic, and her days are filled at a private, all-girls, parochial school with nuns aplenty. The family's world is thrown upside down, and while her parents lean into their faith, she shirks it, believing God left her when her brother left. The author goes through anorexia stemming from grief, lost appetite, and unconsciously saving half her food for her brother in case he returns. She also goes against the culture she lives in, throws caution to the wind, and develops a relationship with another student (that's right, a girl...in the straight-laced, nun-led Catholic school and very hetero-only-accepted community). The book shows sibling grief, which is not often written about. But it was not depressing. It was a view from the outside looking in, almost objective and still gripping. Emotional. Funny. Spunky. Coping.

What I'm doing: yoga. Medical yoga! For free through work so that's fun! Watching TV. We're getting so close to finishing several of our shows. Research, which for the past few weeks means lots of emails. Tackling the spring cleaning in the summer. Cleaning up a lot of pee since our dog has regressed and may have some separation anxiety/getting back at us for leaving some evenings or going to the grocery store on the weekends. We're working on it! Going to the pool. This will be the year I get my money's worth out of the HOA, gosh darn it!

What I should be doing: scheduling interviews and collecting data and writing. Stringing my hammock up and reading. Inviting people over in smaller groups for dinners and potlucks and board games. I've wanted to, and it's been on my list for months and months. Somehow the schedule fills.

What I'm listening to:
Lake Street Dive
Audiobook by Hillary Clinton, one by Fannie Flagg, all my podcasts

What I'm eating: I have been wanting to finally go through recipes clipped from magazines to try them. When making a weekly schedule and menu (because it helps both of us so much to make sure we have ingredients on hand, a plan for eating together at home, and to give a little guidance for whoever is home and able to help first), I have pulled out several recipes to try. We made a delicious, kind of strange salad. We were both intrigued and skeptical. Here are the basic steps to cauliflower radish salad:
1. Boil water in saucepan. Put 8 eggs in for 7 minutes. Take off, drain, cool with running water, peel, halve, set aside.
2. Oven set to 425. Take 2 baking sheets and spread out cauliflower (entire head, chopped into florets), 6 quartered radishes (whhhhat? and ew?), can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, 1/4 c of chopped almonds. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and mix around to get all coated. Put in oven for 20-22 minutes, check at half point to turn over for even browning (will only get a little brown).
3. In mixing bowl, whisk together 3 T. olive oil, sprinkles of salt and pepper, 3 T. red wine vinegar, 2 t. Dijon mustard (though we didn't have it and just used a little extra red wine vinegar, regular mustard, pinch of sugar).
4. Assemble! Spinach in bowl, roasted veggies, eggs, and a little dressing on top. Enjoy!

It was actually quite delicious! Neither of us are skeptical any longer, I have a new respect for radishes, and we are keeping the recipe for our rotation.

Oh, and wedding cake! Because we celebrated a year (whhhat??) and could reclaim a fourth of the freezer space. Heated about 12 seconds and it was terrific! Thanks again for such a beautiful cake, Megan!

Enjoy July!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Vulnerability of Storytelling

I prefer reading non-fiction, and I love writing. I need to write. I have wavered between whether or not I want to share my writing, how seriously I take it, loving and hating what I have written in the past, and ferociously editing or just posting first pass drafts. The longer I live and the more I write, the less perfected and draftier my posts.

Blogging is my version of storytelling, much like the memoirs and biographies I am drawn to reading. My writing could use an editor, or at least a second or third read. Some posts should probably sit as drafts for days or weeks, until I come back and better connect points or polish paragraphs. Letting it go "as is" helps me fight a desire for perfection and get my stories out there though, and I think it's better for the readers. I don't want people to think I have it all together, because I don't. And I shouldn't.

Portrayals of life should be genuine, real, and honest We're all a little broken, a little hurting, a little frustrated, a little disappointed. But if we don't get to see that in others, we define ourselves that way, lose hope, feel like failures, and often lust after the "perfect life" we think we see. The hospitality of inviting someone in our lives is a vulnerable, beautiful practice.

We think of hospitality as how we open our homes to others, when it's really how we open ourselves to others. Own your words, talents, skills, dreams Because Vulnerable Makes the Thing Better. Vulnerability and authenticity feels scary, naked and exposing. Sharing our dreams, experiences, and hopes should feel that way because the stakes are high and our hearts are tender. The more the risk, the more the caring. If we did not care about our dream, it would not hurt as much to have it thwarted or unfulfilled. Storytelling highlights the risks we take, the regrets felt, the insecurities harnessed, and the stakes we gamble. Storytelling is a vulnerable act in building trust with another, and like anything we practice the more we do, the better we get, the better we see, the better we give.

I'm just a regular woman who loves, lives, and spends a lot of time falling apart a little. Here is where I write that story.