Posted in Media Mondays, Thoughts

Enough

It’s time for another Media Monday post…

From Sara Groves’ most recent album, this gem of a song has resonated with me deeply from the first moment it hit my brain. Have a listen…

Enough by Sara Groves

“Really we don’t need much, just strength to believe it: there’s honey in the rock, there is more than we see. And these patches of joy, these stretches of sorrow; there’s enough for today, there will be enough tomorrow…”

My frantic soul hears this and sighs with relief. God is still good. Calm down, little Jes. He is still good and He’s got you. And amazingly, if I stop long enough to watch my little world, to read the sign of the times and really get under the surface, I see…this is true. The more I slow and rest and stop striving or adding or saying yes to more things, the more I experience what I already have. And guess what? I have enough of every last thing I need. Everything my soul cries out for, every thing I literally need, I have. That is ridiculously good.

Praise be to God! He is a good Papa.

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Posted in Thoughts

How do you define “self-care”?

Apparently, “self-care” is all the rage.  This may be the only “hip and now” post I write in 2017.  Savor this moment, all, Jes is trendy!

I’ve been thinking about self-care a lot over the past 3 weeks.  I had no idea it was an “it phrase” until a conversation with my awesome mother-in-law revealed that fact.  Our Christmas trip provided me with many examples in the importance of self-care.  It’s been marinating in my brain since then.

During our 14-hour drive back to Minnesota, I had begun to process all my emotional, high-feeler responses to our 5 days in Cincinnati.  But, we walked into our house & my mind shifted gears from “process all the feels” to “do all the things!”  I began attacking the to-do list that accompanies trips ending: unpacking, laundry, cleaning, all the cat petting.  Driving a car overnight, vacuuming the house, scrubbing a toilet: these are the perfect kind of mindless tasks that really let you think.  There was a moment for me where I shifted into auto-pilot on the chores while my brain took over on evaluating my emotions again.

It became too much.

I sat down 4 hours into “do all the things!” mode.  A cat immediately took advantage of the available free lap and almost instantly fell asleep.*  In that moment, I felt like God was putting an emphatic exclamation point on a loud sentence, “Yeah! Sit down!”  Like He was sitting up in Heaven wondering how to get His kid to stop & slow and thought, “I know! I’ll put a cat on her so she won’t get back up again!”

Needless to say, it worked.  And I am learning I suck at self-care.

There are people I know that are fluent in it.  They speak the lingo, they experience it daily, they can read the signs of their own bodies and know when to say no.  I am not one of those people.

My pathology passionately screams, “Who can I serve now!?!?!?!” or “What should I be doing now!?!?!”  All.  Day.  Long.

I’m tired.

To some extent, there can be beauty in self-forgetfulness.  And to some extent, self-care can be twisted and selfish.  Let’s all acknowledge those possibilities to be true.  Got it?  Moving on.

I wonder; if you react to the phrase “self-care” with, “sounds pretty selfish” (like I did), does that reaction reveal weakness?  We cannot serve water without…wait for it…water.  I literally offer the world NOTHING if I am empty.  My ability to correlate self-care with service is flawed.  Because self-care does not always mean selfish.  It is not “me first, no other humans matter!”  It can be, “me first so I can serve you without me in the way.

Does the thought of spending money and time on yourself for no other beneficiary than yourself make you cringe?  Cause I am so bad at self-care that the very thought of saying no to someone/something in order to take care of myself feels wrong.  Not just selfish.  Wrong.

The Holy Spirit has so much work to do with my crazy brain!

Needless to say, the process of changing years of habit and pattern that reinforce a flawed understanding of self-care will not be easy.  In many respects, I don’t feel like I’m allowed to serve myself.  To want something that I would define as self-serving is selfish.  I need a brain overhaul!

What does a self-denying, people-pleasing, extroverted girl do to take first steps in self-care?  She unapologetically goes to yoga.**  She buys things at the grocery store that she likes, even if no one else in the household will eat them.  She does less. She practices saying no.  She makes space that others will have to fill.  She admits that she is flawed and never could do it all.  She prays, a lot.  She relies on Jesus.

This is what my January has looked like so far: baby steps in self-care.  I want to be able to offer every human I interact with a deep drink of water.  That means I need to be full first.  (Are you listening, Jes?)  I’m a finite human.  I need moments of slow to just be.

Thanks for listening…

*Even the cats are better at self-care than me.  LOL.

**I recently tried yoga for the first time and have so much to say about the experience that there will most certainly be an entire post dedicated to it later.  Stay tuned.  🙂

Posted in Media Mondays

Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff

Dudes…

I love Rachmaninoff. When I started collecting music that would lend itself to ballet classes (many moons ago), I fell in love with his compositions. I like the way his works sound light but full. Does that make any sense? Probably not. 22 year old dancer Jes was particularly fond of Rachmaninoff’s Arabesque #1, which sounds like a fairy tinkling across the piano and floating off into space.

So when this cd came across my workspace last year, I exclaimed, “oooh!” and requested it be mine. When a classical composer is long gone, and other musicians start playing his* works, I think there is something special to be gained from hearing the original composer fiddling around with the stuff he wrote.

MAN.

The first piece on this album is Liebesleid and Rachmaninoff attacks it with such force and attention that I literally stood up straighter in my chair. Listening to a musician who has completely mastery over the instrument they are playing is just stunning. That can’t be faked. Hours of practice and failure are behind that kind of performance. And the hard-won confidence to play something that took you hours of time and effort to be able to get just right is…just that…hard won.

And I get to sit with my ear pressed up against the recording room for a paltry $2 thanks to Half Price Books. 😀

YAS!

*the masculine pronoun is used here simply because the majority of classical composers who are dead are probably men, in my assumption 😉

Posted in Exploration and travel, Thoughts

“Holi-day-i! Cele-brate!”

I know all of you are on pins and needles wanting the update from me on how my Christmas went. You just can’t handle that you had to wait, I’m sure. Well, never fear, your post-holiday update is here!

After working on the 22nd, the hubs and our housemate picked me up and we drove through the night to arrive in Cincinnati, Ohio for a long weekend of family time. We stayed with my too-wonderful-to-deserve in-laws. They are just so hospitable and showed us the kindness & love that true hospitality means over and over again during our short time there.

Almost upon immediate arrival, I had the joy of getting a mother-daughter date with my Mum. She took me to see the Nutcracker performed by the Dayton Ballet! Such a treat and MAN, that Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is super professional. I was duly impressed. The costumes were also stunning. (As was one of the lead dancer’s massive thighs, but we won’t go there.) 😉

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Sorry for the blurriness! I think we took it from the “selfie” side. 😦

Other favorite parts of the time with family include*:

  • Laughing so hard with my parents that my abs hurt afterwards and my throat was wheezing
  • That awesome conversation about evangelism with my Dad
  • Seeing my parents ongoing reaction to their Christmas present (a trip together next Fall), the excitement is high & I am glad it is catching!
  • So many real and deep conversations with my favorite in-laws EVER
  • A hug that went where words could not with Traci in her kitchen
  • Donn freaking out over the drone he got for Christmas from Lauren & Chris, and then generously sharing his toy with his kids
  • Countless moments where people intentionally included our housemate, Abdullah, in the Christmas celebrations
  • Lego (a 25 pound cat) choosing to sit on my lap
  • Seeing Meagan & Dave’s home, the peace they both have in being themselves there, and the conversation in the kitchen while Meg baked a pie.
  • Cutting to the deep in the kitchen with Meg & Lou, revealing a bit of my emotional state and the understanding & recognition in their eyes.
  • And most certainly not last: so many hugs from Nayt throughout the days in Ohio, his unswerving devotion to understand his strange extroverted wife and the space he gifted me with to be me, even at his own expense.
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I’m not crying, I’m so happy cause Dave (my secret Santa) chose to replace my sentimental & much loved/used teapot that I broke earlier this year. In this moment, I might have been retelling the epic tragedy: “Breaking The Most Glorious of Teapots”.

We could stop right there and just say I had a good Christmas. BUT WAIT, there’s more!

There were moments with friends that were so good, it seemed like I was just reaping a ridiculous amount of heartfelt joy**:

  • Hugging my friend Bekka and meeting her amazing boyfriend who totally gets that he got the sweet end of that deal (but seeing that my friend is happy and at true peace with him and in general, which is NO SMALL FEAT!)
  • Celebrating 20+ years of friendship with my two best friends from high school by sneaking in a long overdue coffee date, getting updates on their worlds and feeling their sweetness & acceptance of who I have been and am trying to be now. I am so lucky.
  • Unexpectedly getting to connect with my brilliant friend, Amanda, who will change the lives of so many people by being a light in the medical program at UC (not to mention “and beyond!”).
  • Random texts from friends out of the state at just the right low moments, as if they knew they were being used by God to step in and see me.

And then, we came home and the cats stole all the attention & love I had leftover to give them. 🙂 (Alright, I may have done other things besides pet my cats over the past 4 days…maybe…)

So, while it could be easy to dwell on the busy-ness and the craziness and the emotional stress that I think most people feel around the December holidays, I am choosing to opt out of remembering them. Instead, I am recording for posterity’s sake, that the good moments FAR outweighed any bad. That God is so good, and blesses us with so many things that it sometimes takes even extroverted, externally processing, quick-thinking me a few extra days to really absorb all that was really given me.

I am beyond blessed. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

*this list is by no means exhaustive

**this list is also, by no means, exhaustive