Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Life is a Seattle Ferry

I sat down on the Ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge about 20 minutes early and put my head into a book. I got done with the chapter and looked up to realize we were far from the dock.  I hadn't even notice how far we had gone.  I looked at the city.  It was a beautiful city, but with the sun just about to set behind the clouds, it was dull and grey.  As we moved further away, the city disappeared behind the fog and before I knew it, I couldn't even see it.

We landed on Bainbridge Island and I walked to dinner at a local restaurant.  It was raining and cold, but it was beautiful.  I had a wonderful dinner and then headed back to the ferry.

I took a seat facing Seattle.  The sun had been down for about an hour now and, through the fog, I could see little sparkles of lights from the city.  As we moved toward the city, the fog moved away and the city became larger and more brilliant.  My eyes couldn't take in all the beautiful lights of the skyline.  It was just gorgeous.

I walked out to the front of the boat.  The wind off the water chilled my face and hands.  A small tear fell.  This was my story.

I hurt my back so suddenly that I was far from who I used to be before I even knew it. I watched as my injury slowly took my life from me.  As I gained weight, rolled in wheelchairs, and layed in bed for weeks at a time, the person I had been slowly disappeared behind the fog.

I was stuck in that fog for months.  And just like the lovely dinner I had in Bainbridge, I had small wonderful moments in the cold, confusing times.  But then, I had surgery and found myself sitting there, squinting to see a few lights of my old life sparkling behind the fog. I started physical therapy and I knew I was moving back into the direction of that old life that I loved.

I haven't docked back in Seattle yet, but I am really close.  I'm still on my journey back to the city that I know will be even more brilliant than when I left it, but for now, I will still exercise everyday, eat right and work on finding the girl that I was before my life was ripped from me.  And when I do, I will sparkle brighter than even before.

Monday, May 2, 2016

No Miracle for Me

My friend Brooke saw a real life miracle.  Her husband was gone.  They told her it was the end and to say goodbye.  She prayed, we all prayed, people all over the world prayed and within the hour a nurse ran in and told her to come quick her husband was back.

I don't understand miracles.  I don't understand how God decides which miracles to perform.  But I know I saw a lot of people's faith renewed watching Jason come back to life.

And then there's me.  I was on vacation with my family and on day one (Monday), the combo of roller coaster, throwing my nephew and hoola hooping with my niece made my back seize up in a way I never experienced.

Within 24 hours I couldn't even stand.  I was in Florida with my family and all I saw was the speckled ceiling of my hotel room.  I would lay there helpless as my family played with Mickey and Minnie.  I asked for a miracle.

By the third night, I would hold in my screams as I rolled onto my stomach to throw up into a garbage can next to the bed.  The pain meds and my stomach didn't get along.  Throwing up would make my back seize and lightning bolts of pain would shoot down my legs.  It was the second worst pain I have ever experienced.

I had already tried asking for a miracle.  So I thought maybe I didn't ask right or ask enough.  Maybe (like Brooke) I needed more people to pray.  I sent texts out to friends and posted on Facebook.  I prayed over and over, begged for a miracle.


So what do you do with that?  Have I suddenly found out God doesn't exist?  Is this the moment when I realize even if there is a God he doesn't love me enough to heal me?  Or maybe he just loves Brooke more?

And then you start feeling selfish and small.  There are wars going on.  There are people who will actually never walk again.  There are children being deserted by their parents.  Maybe God's off worrying about the real problems in life.

But here's the truth.  God doesn't have to choose who to worry about because he can worry about everyone all the time.  He isn't ignoring me, he allowing me to be here for some reason.

So it began.  I reminded myself all the miracles I have seen.  All the times God came through.  I reminded myself that God doesn't love me more or less compared to my pain level.  I believe that suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance to character, and character to hope.  So I will sit in this suffering knowing that hope will arrive.  And maybe the fact that I'm sitting in pain shows how much God loves me because he wants me to learn or to grow.  

Our human minds want answers.  I don't have answers and I have now been sitting in this pain for two weeks.  I'm jealous of people who can walk.  I just want to get up and run.  But instead I will sit in my wheelchair reminding myself to have joy.

I have seen amazing kindness from so many people.  From small acts of a stranger offering to help me into a car to my friends bringing me food and transporting me around.  There is so much good in every bad situation.

So, as I wait for my miracle, I will smile at people staring at my purple flowered cane.  I will tip the wheelchair lady at the airport more than I should.  I will accept the humility that comes with constantly asking for help.

But I know this.  God is not only real when miracles happen.  He is also real in my pain.

Monday, February 29, 2016

You're In Charge of Your Hurt

There a new guy around.  He's tall and skinny and loves Jesus and likes to camp.   All things I adore.

But he's brand new to me.  I didn't meet him on a dating site or grow up next door.  He asked a mutual friend for my number and texted.  I internet stalked him.  Nothing.  No Facebook, no instagram, no snap chat, nothing.

So after a week of texting, New Guy and I went to coffee.  It was so very strange sitting across from a guy who I had probably only seen in real life about 4 times and who I knew absolutely nothing about.  I was really hopeful from our texts, but I was hoping for the strangest thing.  I wanted to have a good time, but not a great time because in the past having an absolutely great time during the first date always led to my heart breaking after Mr. Great doesn't like me back.

And I got exactly what I wanted.  A guy who seemed really fantastic, but had a couple of things I needed to know more about.  So, no deal breakers, we move forward.

The next hurdle we had to (slowly) get over was a guy I'll call Josh.  Josh was this guy I had hung out with for a good 8 months many years back.  Josh also had been brand new to me.  Josh just wanted a friend with benefits and I just wanted a boyfriend.  So, I kept stupidly hanging out with him because I was sure he was going to come around and be my boyfriend.  Nope.  In the final scene of our ridiculous friendship, he told me that he had been lying to me the whole time.  Everything I knew about him was only said to win me over.  All lies.  The true Josh was a stranger to me.  It was only after the final credits rolled I realized I never met one of his friends or any of his family.  I would never do that again.  (Thank God Josh never got one benefit from me.)

So, now here I am.  New Guy is sitting across from me saying all these great things, but all I can think is that in 8 months I'm gonna be walking away with a broken heart from all the lies.  And poor New Guy is kinda new to California and so I can't meet his friends and family.  Is this guy worth breaking the getting to know the friends and family rule?  I don't know.  But I'll give him another hang out.

Next hang out, he informs me friends are coming into town!  Ok, I'll meet some friends and that will surely help me get to know him and I'll see what kinda of people he is surrounded by.  When I meet his friends they show me pictures from New Guy's past.  He's legitimately unrecognizable with long, different colored hair and different glasses.  New Guy was a stranger to me.

My knee jerks.  This feeling, I know this feeling.  This is the feeling I had when Josh told me about all the lies and I felt like he was someone I didn't even know.  Who was this guy in the pictures, I didn't know that guy.  I sat on my couch that night, still dressed with my heels on, staring at my wall.  Although this feeling was the same, this was not the same.  The reason I saw those pictures and met those people is because he was trying to be transparent and not hide from me.

I honestly felt like running.  This feeling inside of me was familiar and freakin scary.

I didn't run.

I knew that this scary feeling was a feeling.  And feelings can be very very wrong.  My logic mind was telling me to give it a chance, to keep trying and so I did.  I pressed in.  Scared out of my mind, I pressed in.  The next day I hung out with his friends a little more.  They were really awesome.  Awesome people don't usually hang out with douche bags.

So, using only logic.  I pushed forward again.  Reminding myself to tell him I liked us because my emotions were telling me to protect myself, to run.  I didn't want to tell him how happy I was or how great he was because what if it fell apart again.  I would write text messages and then stare at it. I would actually have to count to 3 outloud to make myself hit send.

The biggest blessing I have is that he seemed to like me enough to move at the speed of molasses through all my crap, but here's the really crazy part, I told him all of this and he seems to be sticking around.

Vulnerability.  It's so hard.  It's so scary.  It's so necessary.

Don't let past fear ruin your life.  You don't have to run.  You don't have to hide your hurt.  You can just accept it and tell it shut the hell up and live a fanastic life.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I Can Keep Up With The Boys

It was pitch black.  I knew the moon was out, but the glow was blocked by the tall Santa Cruz Redwoods all around us.  My friend, Nate, turned on his flashlight blinding me and 6 other guys.  "Ok, this should work."  Nate duct taped the flash light to the handle bars of his mountain scooter.  A mountain scooter is like a razor scooter that got angry and turned green.  Instead of tiny wheels and handlebars, the wheels and handle bars looked like they belonged to a BMX bike, and instead of a tiny little piece of metal to stand on, there was a skateboard deck that you stood on.  I loved mountain scootering, but this was our first attempt at night.

Nate took off first, fast and suddenly.  We started at the top of a hill and went down a hiking path.  I knew I needed to keep up in order to know where I was going.  So, I kicked off and started rolling down the slippery dirt path.  There are no breaks on these things; jump off or crash.  Those were the only two options.

The flashlight taped to the handle bars lit the path just in front of me but nothing else.  Only 5 feet in front of me I could see the end of the path which meant I needed to turn, but I had no idea which way to go.  With only a second to spare I heard Nate yell in delight off to my left and throwing caution to the wind I made a sharp left turn praying to God I didn't end up in a pile of poison ivy.

Sure enough, left was correct, but that was close and I needed to catch up to Nate in order to be safe.  I crouched down to lower my center of gravity and leaned forward.  I started moving even faster with last minute jumps and turns every other second.

I finally caught up to Nate and, man, it was so fun.  Following in his path, I jumped off logs and over ditches. I made quick turns, but when the path straightened it was like nothing else.  It was freedom.  I let the wheels turn as fast as they could.  The wind screamed in my ears.  My hands gripped the handlebars tight.  My heart pounded in delight.

In the middle of the journey, the dirt path ended and you rode on a pretty flat street for a while before joining back up with the dirt path again.  This is where we would all come back together.  The people in front would coast along while the in the back would push to catch up.

Nate came off the dirt path and his wheels hit the pavement. One second later I jumped onto the pavement.  Nate heard me hit the pavement and looked back in shock.  He started laughing.  "I didn't expect you to keep up with me."

"I'm surprising."

We laughed and cruised along waiting for the rest of the guys to show up behind us.

I often think back to this moment because I think about how he underestimated me.  I sometimes wonder if I had known what he thought if I would have been able to keep up.  Would his opinion of me made me doubt myself?

Every time I feel ill prepared for something or someone expects too much of me or I doubt myself, I remember that moment and think, "You can do more than people think you can.  Surprise them."

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Strangers and Prayers

I sat there looking around the table at all these strangers; a creative director, a graphic designer, a music arranger, a build guy, and a look leader. When I was the creative director, these were all the roles I knew, but my time at that church had come to an end and these new people were strangers.  I’ve been asked to choreograph the Christmas show for a big church in Anaheim and I’m so excited, but sitting there staring at those strangers my heart hurt.

I missed my friends.  I missed the comfort of knowing the people around the table. I was just praying I would remember at least two names.

Then I remembered all the times I sat around a table like this in the past, praying for the right person to arrive.  If only I knew someone who did graffiti.  If only I knew someone who could build towers.  If only I knew someone who could make costumes.  And every time, every single time, that person arrived just in time.  I saw my prayers answered every time I asked.

It’s different this time.  This time, I think maybe, just maybe, I’m the answer to THEIR prayers.  Maybe this time they were thinking, “If I could just find someone who knows how to choreograph/direct on a large scale.”  And there I was.

I've never felt this way before.  I always felt like my prayers were answered, but I never thought of myself as the answer to someone’s prayer. 

Then it occurred to me.  I bet we are all the answer to someone’s prayer.  Maybe you don’t believe in God or say words like prayer, but you know what I mean.  That person who held your hair back while you puked.  That person who sat with you when your dad died.  That person who helped quiz you before that test.

These people are our angels.  They are the people who make our lives easier and, man, I hope I can do this more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I Don't Have Confidence, I Have Courage

I was floating in a two person inter tube with a good friend, the sun warming my skin, the laughter of my friends behind me, and my favorite drink in my hand.  I couldn't get the smile off my face.  My fourth of July weekend was going exactly as I hoped.  I opened my eyes to see my friend sheepishly jumping into the pool before anyone could get a glimpse of her "imperfect" body.

My first thought?  "I know exactly how you feel."

I'm a 39 year old woman who hangs out with people who are anywhere from 25-29.  We really don't seem that different.  Maybe it's my young heart, maybe they are old for their age, maybe age really is just a number, but these are my people and I love them.

Even if age is just a number, it is also relentless.  Everyone will get wrinkles, everyone will learn life lessons, and everyone's metabolism will slow down.  I kinda hate those blogs about moms who should learn to be proud of their mom bodies because their bodies are their proof of having a baby, accomplishing something amazing.  What if we ALL were proud of our bodies because our value isn't determined by whether we have had a baby or not, whether we work out everyday or not, whether our metabolism is 25 or 39?

I decided at the beginning of the weekend to not allow my 39 year old body to hold me back from anything.  I would dance around in my swim suit next to my 25 year old counterpart.  I would sit in my inter tube although the position made my stomach look awful.  I would get up and joust with my friends even though my legs would show my age.

Here's the thing.  I'm not a confident person.  If I was, those thoughts wouldn't even occur to me.  I don't have confidence, I have courage.  And the good news is that you can't force yourself to have confidence, but you can force yourself to have courage.  You CAN just choose to do something that feels scary and intimidating.  You can apply for that job.  You can ask that person to dinner.  You can be vulnerable.  You CAN dance around in that swimsuit.

The best part?  Your courage doesn't even have to come from you.  Have more faith in your friends.  Believe that they will still love you even if you're 10 pounds heavier than you think you should be.  Believe that they will be there to celebrate when you get that job.  Believe that they will carry your burden when that person doesn't like you back.

So here we go.  What are you scared of that you really want to do?  Don't rely on your confidence, rely on your courage and the people who love you.  Go do it.  Now.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Alone and loved.

Last Friday I had a very scary morning.

“Do you have someone in the waiting room?”


“You are here alone?!”



The ER nurse went from a look of confusion to a look of sadness.  What was going on in her head?  Did she think I was so alone that there was no one there to support me?  Did she think I was an idiot  driving myself to the ER?  Did she just feel bad for a girl who is my age with no one around?

Just a few hours earlier, around 2am, in the middle of rehearsal, I had coughed and a pain in my chest (that I knew well from a sickness a couple weeks ago) returned with a vengeance.   I pushed on my chest waiting for it to subside like it had so many times a couple weeks ago, but this time it stuck around.  And a few hours later, around 4am, while watching Grey’s Anatomy at home, it felt like someone stabbed me in the chest with the biggest knife you can imagine.  I felt like someone pulled my breath out of me and my whole body tingled.

I calmly called the after hours nurse and while on hold, it all happened again only worse.  Ok, time to get in the car and get to an ER.  After the second episode I started shaking so awfully that I couldn’t even read my medical number off of my card.

The shaking was going in waves, so when I arrived at the ER I looked and sounded fine.  The nurse was confused why I was even there until another wave over took me and I couldn’t even talk correctly.

Her first thought was that I was a meth addict coming down.  I laughed and it made her smile.  Then she asked me if I was responding to any prescribed medication.  I said “Nope, fit as a fiddle.”  Then she asked me if I was maybe having a panic attack.  Look lady, I don’t care about McDreamy that much.

After multiple EKG attempts (they couldn’t get a good reading because of my shaking), blood work, heart monitoring, and an IV, the doctor came in with the best and worst news.  “You look completely healthy.”

I sat there waiting to be discharged and looked around my empty room; the plain beige walls, the smell of sterile equipment, the tubes of my IV, and the lonely beep of the heart monitor speeding up every time another wave occurred.  During one of my shaking spells, I thought back to that nurse who wanted to know why I was alone and teared up a little.  I guess it’s true, other people probably have a significant other or at least someone with them, but I have trained myself to do things on my own.

But as the weekend went on, my roommate was pissed I didn’t ask her for help, and my parents wanted to bring me things, and my work team asked how they can help. It all reminded me, just because I am alone doesn’t mean I am not loved.

I am loved deeply by people all around me and I don’t need someone sitting in my ER room to know that.  I think that ER nurse is good example of how some people may look at us single people.  We seem alone, we seem unsupported, we seem unloved, but the reality is that no matter what other people think, I am loved, I am supported by so many, and sometimes my “loneliness” is actually a sign of great courage and strength.

There has been no answer to what happened to me and it took me a good three days to even be able to stand for longer than 5 minutes, but everyday I have made huge improvements and I’m almost back to feeling 100%.  (Sometimes God just wants to slow you down and making you stay in bed for three days is a good way to do it.)