7 Things Sunday

A couple of years ago on Superbowl Sunday, four words came out of my mouth that changed everything.

I moved back to Des Moines this weekend and in the process of packing up my belongings I found all my old journals. Which might need to be burned after they’ve lost their entertainment value. Do people really keep these forever? Anyway. As I saw everything laid out chronologically, things started clicking. Obviously everyone experiences that hindsight is 20/20. But oh man. I was cringing at the girl in those pages. I simultanesously know her intimately and not at all.

I saw something on one page that caught my eye. In the summer of 2013 I wrote an excerpt from a book I had been reading and it said, “Sometimes God delivers us from the furnace, sometimes he delivers us through the furnace.” Below that I wrote, “God, sometimes I wonder if you’re going to deliver me from divorce, or if you’re going to deliver me through divorce.” 9 months later, to the day, it was Superbowl Sunday. I didn’t even know what I was writing.

I don’t know if everything happens for a reason. I didn’t want to say those words or for this to happen. But if it hadn’t, I would probably still be writing sad, cringe-worthy journal entires. Here’s 7 things I would tell the girl in those pages:

One. You will be spending more time by yourself. This means you will spend countless moments racking your brain about what happened and why. You will write yourself a list of the reasons why the choice you made was the right one, and for awhile you’ll read it to yourself every day. Otherwise your heart will grow too soft and mushy. You should take the opportunity to explore what kind of person you are right now and what kind of person you want to be. There will be a long string of nights where you’ll roll over in bed, limbs reaching for your person, and the chill of empty sheets will consistently startle you. Eventually you will relish your days and nights alone, especially if you’re productive with them. Also, you’ll get a twin mattress.

Two. You will begin to push the limits of what you thought you were capable of. Day by day, you will conquer new challenges. Especially of the emotional and mental variety. Oh, you’ll also fail miserably at some of those challenges. Like, epically fail. But hey, sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. There is nothing more revealing than divorce. You will see exactly what you’re made of. But you’re still in the formative years of self-discovery. Make the most of them. Try to impress yourself.

Three. You will sit through some laughably terrible dates. You will be in awe at how self-absorbed some can be. You will do a fair amount of robotic head nodding. But you’ll also go on some great dates that remind you of what was missing in your marriage and if nothing else, give you a confidence booster. Mostly though, you’ll figure out that a lot of dudes are very confused about what they want. Which sucks, because you’re not so much. Having been both married and divorced at such a young age, you know exactly what you don’t want. Any desire to settle for good enough or to spend time investing in something that comes with a handful of doubts is pretty much squashed by fear of history repeating itself.

Four. Possibly the most important thing you, specifically, will learn from this is the art of choosing yourself. It sounds inherently selfish which is why it makes you squeamish. However, the decision to say no to what wasn’t serving you in any healthy way or choosing you in return, was the first of many decisions that involved sticking up for yourself. You will get better at unapologetically saying what you really think. You will recognize that what you need will change and fluctuate (different days will call for different boundaries) and that’s ok. You will start to raise your voice a little bit. You will trust yourself more and more. You will learn to never try to convince someone of why they should choose you because…well because everyone is on their own path, free will to exercise, etc…but also because if they don’t choose you, you’ll choose yourself. And you’re pretty really cool.

Five. Don’t give up on the notion that God is in the business of mind-blowing. In scriptures you read stories where there are these seemingly isolated, terrible events that happen and then later on you see there was purpose in them the entire time. It gets revealed that those events were used to restore people back to their God so they could experience this crazy, redemptive love and freedom. This gets reflected in your own life. When everything is going terribly, a little bit later you step back and see all that was being weaved together to teach you and bring you to the places and people that restore your hope and freedom. But you absolutely cannot see that from where you are now.

Six. Remember that true love is action and not passive acceptance. Being truly loving requires that you define and take a stand for what you believe to be important, regardless of the conflict it may cause. It doesn’t always make sense or come easily. It’s work, it’s messy, and you don’t need to justify it. Fear of what other people think or of upsetting anyone will prevent you from taking the steps that will ultimately bring you peace and fulfilment.

Seven. You will look back at this girl who is so insecure and unable to trust her intuition. This girl full of ambivalence, taking care of everything else but herself. Eventually you will feel like you’re contemplating an entirely different person, but this is only made possible with strength, initiative, self-awareness, and support of those who will listen to your broken record- none of which may have revealed itself if you hadn’t said those four words you hate so much.

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I’m sorry you didn’t get rescued from having a “worst day ever anniversary”. But I’m really thankful that you had the courage to get through the worst day ever and to discover that the worst is never really the worst. I’m proud of you for leaning in and walking through the furnace with all your questions, complaints, and doubts.


Good Grief

People aren’t very good with grief.
Grief comes in shapes and sizes. It comes whenever life changes, whether they’re tiny or huge changes. Change is often a form of loss, and loss needs to be grieved to some extent. For example, moving to a new place involves change. Even if it’s a move you want to make, it still means losing daily interaction with people and places that have been your constant and comfort for however long and that is going to involve some level of grievance as you learn to move on from the old and enter into the new. Then of course there’s the biggies: death, divorce, disease, break ups, etc. Those ones really leave their mark. They are the toughest to walk through. I once saw a print that said, “I don’t know which is worse: the shock of what happened, or the ache for what never will.” That pretty much describes it perfectly, doesn’t it?
What is certain about grief is that you will experience it and you will experience it many times over the course of your life. People don’t like to talk about grief because it’s hard and awkward. I get that. But the implications of this is that what we really, really don’t talk about is how grief can become a good thing if we allow it to. Since grief will inevitably be a process we have to somewhat continually endure, what would it look like if we tried to become good at grieving? To learn how to navigate it rather than letting it drive us into a ditch (literally or figuratively, I suppose)? To embrace it for all its worth rather than fear it for what its not? To let it shape and redirect us rather than ruin and hold us back? I’m not saying that we will ever feel prepared when we suddenly have to grieve something. The shock will always be there. It will likely feel as if someone threw you into the washer on spin cycle. Loss rips you open. It allows you to see what you’re made of and what you value most. It’s a game changer in more ways than one, but we still have power over how we give and receive within the context of that emotion.
This a little collection of things I either learned in my own grieving or wish someone had told me:
  • Stop craving this idea of closure and just focus on making progress towards healing. Closure implies getting over grief and loss. It implies needing to reach a certain point by a certain time. This isn’t realistic or healthy because the pain never goes away completely…it just lessens over time, and that’s ok. You don’t get over it, you just get used to it.
  • There is no timeline for grieving.
  • Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. In fact, just expect that it will.
  • Sudden waves of emotion are normal. Don’t fight it. Allow them to run their course. If you start crying while you’re ordering a coffee, just go with it. Who knows, maybe the barista will take pity on you and offer it on the house. Suppressing or delaying the process will only make things worse in the long run.
  • I think God brings the right people into your life at the right time to walk you through stages  of grief. Lean on them. Let them listen 5, 10, 1,000 times. It’s okay to admit that you need to just be taken care of for a little bit.
  • Grief brings out the best in people; you’ll find out who your real supporters are. Grief also brings out the worst in people; be prepared and don’t take anything too personally. Everyone is going through their own shit.
  • Be kind to yourself. Sometimes you will need to play the victim card. Eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while you watch Netflix all day alone in your bed. That’s okay as long as you don’t stay the wallowing victim forever. Being kind to yourself also means making the choice to do something beneficial for your health. Get up, get out, and do something even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Say it. Say everything. Just get it out. Word vomit. Don’t bother filtering. Grief can make you say some insanely stupid things, but that’s what you may need at the time. If you regret it later, just cut yourself some slack.
  • You will never get your old self or your old life back. Rather than focusing on what you could have said or done differently, turn your attention towards building the new and accept that you did the best you could with the time you had.
  • While it’s not a good idea to rush the grieving process, don’t procrastinate it either. Numbing any pain or attempting to avoid it by using other people’s bodies or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings…that is a dangerous game, my friend.
  • Learning to be lonely, to get comfortable with that feeling, and to eventually work out that you actually aren’t ever alone is one of the most valuable journeys grief brings you through. Don’t miss out on it. You will be a better person because of it.
  • What you allow is what will continue.
  • Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.
  • It’s all messy. So messy. There are no right answers. There is no one-size-fits-all model for what it should look like. Don’t judge or compare yourself to how other people appear to be doing.
  • One of the hardest things to believe is that it will get better. Find people who have been through a similar loss. They will be able to tell you that it does and sometimes this can bring a glimmer of hope to cling to.


If you’re grieving in a big or little way, whether its been a week or five years, my heart goes out to you and I am here for you if you need it. It gets better. Lets get better.



October 17

When Love beckons to you, follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you, believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as Love crowns you so shall he crucify you.

Even as he is for your growth, so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

He assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast. All these things shall Love to unto you that you may know the secrets of your own heart.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses nothing, nor would it be possessed. For Love is sufficient unto Love.

When you Love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.” And think not you can direct the course of Love, for Love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

-(parts of) ‘Love’ by Kahlil Gibran

I saw Clayton yesterday. Today would have been our 5-year wedding anniversary. And although my stomach was in complete debate mode over the thought of being in his presence again, I’m glad it happened. Really, really glad. It ending up being one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. There was laughing, crying, hugging, happiness, sadness, regretting, forgiving, and gushing over the new. It never once felt painful or awkward. It was honestly like something out of a movie. Like a bittersweetly heartwarming ending to a romantic comedy. It was how a Bon Iver song makes you feel when you listen to it. And as I walked away from him, my heart was pounding and a smile was beaming from my face. I was in awe of how healing it was…to see each other and to know that we are both okay. That we are both incredibly proud of the other. That we are both rooting for each other with all the adoration in the world.

If it were not for the hard and steep, the wounds, the shattered dreams, the crucifying and root shaking…I would not be who I am today. Today my heart aches over the loss, but it is simultaneously overjoyed because of what I gained through that Love. It grew us, pruned us, and refined us. Where I once wanted to curse that Love for the ways it hurt, from a place of wholeness I can now say that it formed me and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. I am unendingly grateful for the Love that directs my course and for the years that course was with Clayton.


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I think this ^ sums it up. Keep going. Everything is going to be alright 🙂

Good Girl


I’m sitting on my therapist’s couch, clenching wads of damp, mascara covered kleenax in my fist.

I’m a crier. If you get me alone and talking about anything remotely emotional, the tears just flood in. It’s uncontrollable. I don’t even mean to most of the time. I try not to. It’s something I used to feel like I had to apologize for.

My parents tell me that when I was a little kid all they had to do was give me a look or raise their voice and I would start sobbing in remorse. Apparently their mild signs of disappointment were enough of a punishment for me. And this is still a thing. A while ago someone wrote me a lengthy message all about why and how this particular thing I had done was wrong. It wasn’t even something I had done to this person, but they wanted to make their opinion known and because I felt like they were disappointed in me, it ate at me for weeks. I cried. I wrote replies and deleted them. I was praying to get a sense of whether there was something I needed to feel ashamed of. I felt self-conscious and worried until I came to a point of realizing I had absolutely nothing to apologize for. I was okay with this thing. The other person involved was okay with this thing. The person who wrote me the message was not okay with it, but did they really know everything going on? No. The point being…I tend to base how I’m doing/feeling on how other people are doing/feeling and it’s really annoying.

“So, if you weren’t being the care taker or the good girl, then who would you be?” my therapist asks me.

An impostor, but a less stressed and anxious impostor. No…I don’t know.

I get what she’s doing. She wants me to connect these roles to my own self-worth. And she’s right. Because in my mind, if I’m not sending you a random card in the mail, or bringing you soup when you’re sick, or driving you to the airport at 4:30 AM, or buying you coffee, or volunteering for your event, then you won’t have any reason to like me or desire to do the same for me. And if I’m not always encouraging, forgiving, listening, reachable, peaceful, putting the needs of others before my own, accomplishing my goals, following the rules, making sure everyone understands me and is okay with who I am, etc., then I’m not being a good girl. I feel worthless if I’m not those things. That’s been one of the hardest parts of getting divorced; not feeling “good” anymore. And it’s not like anyone is making me feel that way. I’m doing it to myself. Why? Because for me, it’s always been the wrong/bad choice and all these other choices piled up that led to the “bad” one. It’s the whole thing where the one thing you would never let happen, happens and life becomes painfully ironic. Sigh.

But I can’t just turn these instincts off. I’m probably always going to try too hard to do the right thing. I will feel insanely guilty if you’re ever unhappy with me. I’m always going to worry too much about how other people are doing. And maybe swear words will always sound contrived coming out of my mouth and I’ll never have the ability to smoke or take a shot without looking absolutely ridiculous. But hey, it’s cool guys. I have this sense of obligation to be someone no one needs to worry about, someone who doesn’t ask for much, someone who has it together, someone who is always reliable and conscientious. Someone who lives her life in the lines. Creative, colorful lines, but still organized in a particular fashion.

Maybe a sense of obligation isn’t the right phrase because I’m fairly certain it is ingrained in me. I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t want to be someone else. But I’m working on catching myself before I step too far, you know? There has to be a happy medium between, “Hey! These beautiful qualities make up the fabulous being before you” and,”You’re trying way too hard and becoming increasingly detrimental to your own mental health. Chill, lady.”

So, I’m working on not getting taken advantage of. On not feeling hurt when I give and don’t get what I’d expect in return. On not doing something because I should or shouldn’t but instead because I want or don’t want to. I’m navigating my way through the past, trying to piece together what happened that caused me to arrive at this particular place. And in doing so, I’m processing how to move forward and be more in tune with my own wants and needs. I’m trying to find my voice and not be afraid of it. I’m getting better at bracing other people’s emotions and opinions without making it all about me. Because honestly, (and this is what my therapist is so good at reminding me of) I’m not all that important. And that’s a relief.



7 Things Sunday

7 things I’m trying to do:

One. Save $$$ for graduate school. If all goes as planned (which almost never happens in my life…so, we’ll see) I’ll be starting a MA in Arts, Festival, and Cultural Management in Scotland THIS September. I’m enrolled, I’ve applied for scholarships, I was accepted for student housing…now I just need to apply for a visa in June and hope they’ll take me. But there are all kinds of deposits involved and a lot to pay for in general. Plus, it would be nice to travel elsewhere if I have the time or resources. Wish me luck as I depart on a summer of bare necessities. Don’t ask me to eat out, plan a vacation or go shopping, people. If you have any personal tips or tricks on living the frugal life, please do share!

Two. Read more. I’m a go, go, go person. I like to pack my schedule with people to see and things to do. But lately I’ve been a book fiend. I couldn’t put down ‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers, which is a thrilling/disturbing novel about a woman who works for the biggest, most influential internet company in the world. As her role there becomes more public and the company grows and implements new ideas, it raises big questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge. I also recently read two books by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, which is a collection of short stories that explores the “ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States”. And ‘Americanah’ which is a novel about a Nigerian couple who leave each other and their country to live separate lives in the West, but then they return to a very different Nigeria 15 years later and rediscover their homeland and each other. I loved and would highly recommend all of them. 

Three. Laugh every day. What is the most hilarious thing you’ve read, heard, or watched lately? I’d love to know because life is rough right now, friends. I need laughs. They say it’s the best medicine.

Four. Tell myself the truth. I lie to myself a lot. I think things that aren’t true, so then I feel things that aren’t true. And the media lies to us all the time, too. So that doesn’t help. I have found that when I’m on a slippery emotional slope or over analyzing something, I just start repeating truths to myself over and over again. Sometimes in my head, but it’s most helpful to say it out loud when I’m alone. I try to do it before I go to bed, when my mind is most susceptible to tired nonsense and unable to shut off.

Five. Meditate. I don’t know how people do it. I think shutting my mind off is unattainable. But I’ve been meditating on these words a lot:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not foresake them.” Isaiah 42:16

Six. Feel all the feels. Grieving is awkward. No one wants to do it. There’s no time for it. Everything in life is in motion, even if your insides are stuck in quick sand. When someone dies there’s time set aside for closure. There are days off work. Probably not enough, but there’s at least something. People come to you to. They say things like, “Take whatever time you need.” They bring you meals because they know you’ll be too sad to cook or feed yourself. No one says that when your marriage dies, but it’s just as life-altering. I’ve choked back tears in meetings, at the gym, talking with friends, ordering food (the most awkward one), etc. Break-downs are not becoming. No one wants to see that, right? But I’m trying not to suppress the feelings anymore. I’m not going to be embarrassed of them or feel pressured to always keep it together. I know that if I don’t grieve, I won’t be able to let go and if I can’t let go, I won’t experience healing. I’m going to stop telling everyone I’m doing well when I’m really not. I’m free to feel everything in its entirety: the emptiness, the fear, the hurt, because I know that I will survive and that the feelings will eventually pass. I know every day I can turn a little more over to Him. I know healing is a choice and it requires release.

Seven. Set more goals. My job now requires me to sit down with kids and figure out what their goals are and then follow up with them. If I’m going to make other people do it, I should probably do it myself. So, that’s sort of what this list is.