Tonight finds me settled in on our deck, Toddler B fast asleep and Hubbz out running errands. My tiny fur-ball is curled up on the patio chair next to me and I am reading a book. I can feel the setting sun warm my bones and a solid wind blowing from the south. (Thank you, countless summers of caddying loops at our local country club for my directional knowledge.) 😉 It’s summer in The Mitten and for a girl who prefers a cold, crisp fall day, I do have to say, it’s absolute p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n. (also, it was super annoying writing perfection that way- I digress.)
Lately, my free time has found me writing my book- and by writing I mean sitting down to write and then coming up with all the things I need to be doing instead of writing. I am not a procrastinator but for some reason when it comes to writing my book I can give you a list of 783 things that I need to be doing instead. I don’t entirely know why this is a thing, but it is. When I am not writing, I have been reading. I am a Gemini with a mind that can overthink something seven ways to Sunday, and because of this I have taught myself to have a voracious appetite for a great book… otherwise I get myself in trouble.
My current read was given to me by a writing mentor that I met with recently. She showed up with an armful of new books for me to read. Nestled into one of the pages was this beautiful line by E.L. Doctorow, “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Does that hit anyone else right smack upside the head like it does me?! I don’t know about you but when I apply that to my life, it gives me permission to breath… specifically to exhale. It gives me space to not have it all figured out. So many times I strive to see the whole pie when all I am given is a slice. This little snippet of wisdom I uncovered in this book was just enough of a reminder that I don’t have to be able to see the entire path. I only have to see enough of what is in front of me to be able to take the next step, and the one after that, and the one after that.
The sun is starting to fall deep on the horizon now and the air is feeling mighty cool for a summer night. I take a look at the baby monitor- Toddler B is tucked in for the night and Hubbz should be home any minute. I start to have a little peace around the fact that I don’t have all the answers on this side of Heaven. I just have to know enough and be brave enough to take the next step- even when I can’t see the whole road or even where it goes.
I exhale and feel a stillness in my body. The tension I had about things in life that seem unresolved isn’t entirely there anymore. There’s nothing hanging over my head to figure out.
It’s just this moment.
I sit back in my chair and exhale.
Just as the sun slips beyond the horizon.
All we have is this moment, Friends.
Just this moment.
An event happened in my life recently that caused me serious angst. The event itself isn’t important but the emotion around it and what it revealed is profound. It’s in this emotion that healing and a little revelation happened. It changed my perspective and it’s my hope that by sharing it, maybe it will help you in whatever you are going through right now. In true “life out loud” fashion, here is a glimpse into my psyche.
God, I just can’t even with you right now.
By the time I reach the highway my emotions went from sadness and hurt to bat-shit, cray-cray anger… Cute, I know.
God, I am S-U-P-E-R-D-U-P-E-R mad at you and by S-U-P-E-R-D-U-P-E-R mad what I mean is that this is bullsh*t.
And there I drove, for the next 26 miles, having a knock-down, drag-out fight with God. My end of the conversation went on for longer than I would like to admit and the God of the Universe stayed silent… He wasn’t ignoring me- I think He was just waiting for me to shut up… I didn’t. I was in a horrible mood the rest of the day. I went through the motions of life wrestling with my feelings. Balancing being a grateful, fun, happy Mommy and Wife with a realization that in life, 100% of the time, though I pretend I am super in control, I really don’t know how any of this is going to turn out.
Later that night,
Baby Toddler B is fast asleep and Hubbz is at basketball. I lay in bed with a book I am reading. I come across the story in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus calms the storm. Jesus is in a boat with his disciples. A storm rages but Jesus is asleep and the disciples freak out. They wake him up and say “Teacher don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus gets up and calms the storm completely. He looks at the disciples and says “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” #DropTheMicJesus
I literally sat up in bed and put my hands over my face. I took a deep breath and shook my head at my humanity.
One little word in Jesus’ response pierces me right in the gut of my soul. “Do you still have no faith?” STILL? After everything He took us through- a marriage that fell apart then put back together, infertility that broke my soul then healed it, a career and education journey that I still can’t believe is my story- did I still have no faith? Jesus may have been talking to His disciples but the words he spoke so long ago echo true to me… I felt like through this story he was saying “Desireé, dear girl, do you still have no faith? After everything I have carried you through, do you still have no faith?”
Jesus has the power to calm the storm… ANY. STORM. He has the power to calm the raging storms that threaten to capsize our lives. The ones that come out of nowhere and the ones that we see coming from a mile away. The ones that seem too big to handle. The ones that we don’t think we can get through. That thing that keeps you up at night stealing your joy and sleep. The thing you fight with your spouse over. That thing with your kid that you just can’t get right. That thing that worries you in the back of your mind through your workday. Jesus is powerful enough to calm the storm. He’s waiting for us to call out to Him so He can show us His glory.
Jesus is in the boat… WITH. US. I almost fell out of bed at this realization. I also felt so foolish. How is it not ingrained in my soul that Jesus is in the boat too? OF COURSE He is in the boat. He is there every single step of the way. In good and bad. On the mountain top and in the valley. He is there. The God who made us will never leave us or forsake us. He is the Jesus that carried us through the moments when we couldn’t carry ourselves. We never have to look beyond the boat to find Him. He is always with us- until the very end of the age.
I take a deep breath and lay back in bed. I click off the light on my nightstand and I close my eyes. As I lay there in the dark I can feel a peace come over me that surpasses my own human understanding. God’s got this.
My sweet friends and loyal readers, you know that thing that is nagging at your soul? That thing, that situation that keeps you up at night? The thing in your life that you try to hide and keep secret? The thing you know that if people found out, your cover would be blown and your life would never be the same? That thing- that situation- that if it would just go away and resolve itself, your life would be great… I promise you friend, as sure as I am writing these words, God’s already got it. All we have to do is lay it at the foot of the cross. It sounds hokey and weird… I get it! I thought that once too… Until I hit rock bottom and realized in a last-ditch effort that all I could do was lay my junk at the foot of the cross. Know what happened? God showed up. Apparently sometimes he’s just waiting for us to relinquish control from our bloody-white knuckled grip we like to have on life. He waits patiently while we rant at Him. He waits patiently for us to shut up… when we finally do, we make room for God to show up. He’s already in boat with us. He’s already in our lives along for the ride. All we have to do is keep the faith and then call on Him.
I hope today you hear something in this for you.
Maybe even a tiny truth that resonated with you.
Maybe a tiny truth that will take root and one day set your soul free.
This post was written a year ago and has been sitting in my “pending drafts” folder because #life, #husband, #child, #job (pick any one of them… if you are adventurous, pick all of them.) A recent shift in life priorities has offered me more time to write (you can read about that here.) I offer this post with a better late than never sentiment attached to it! Enjoy!
There is a hobby that I have loved since childhood and I am kind of embarrassed to admit it. In the spirit of the whole “be transparent, life out loud” mantra, I am forcing myself to share it… Are you ready?
I don’t really, entirely know how to tell you this so I am just going to go ahead and say it…
I sometimes enjoy putting together puzzles – And by “sometimes enjoy” what I mean is that I friggen’ love putting together puzzles. Also, they make me giddy.
Possibly weird, I know.
You might think this factoid about me basically means I am super lame… Whatever, Bruh. Before you judge me, hear me out.
I come from a long lineage of professional puzzle constructors. My grandma and grandpa did puzzles and my Ma herself has laid down the pieces to many a puzzle. I remember growing up helping Grams and Gramps on their latest masterpiece. We would sit at the table in their basement and sort through thousands of tiny pieces. If I close my eyes I can still feel the shag carpet between my toes and smell the amazing smells of Grams’ house. We must have put together thousands and thousands of little jagged pieces. I was such a Rookie at the time but years of practice has paid off. I basically I have a PhD in puzzle constructing now. You can have my autograph if you want.
There I was in Target, minding my own business on an outing with my little man. What caught my eye as I was gallivanting through the aisles was the phrase “The 1980s”.
Why hello sexiest decade ever.
I kinda smiled.
I kept going.
I stopped again.
I went back.
I picked it up.
I put it down.
I picked it up.
I put it in my cart.
I was made in the 80’s.
Who was I not to do this puzzle?!
1000 pieces. Enough to be a challenge while keeping me engaged. I already had a game plan for putting it together before I reached the checkout line. Start by putting together the phrase “The 1980s” and work out from there. Find the corners, separate the edges from the middles. A little MTV, a little JFK, some Maverick and yes, Mr. T… That A-Team tho!
Back at home, I got baby boy down for his nap and I unboxed the puzzle. I was giddy with excitement. Each piece I sorted through offered a little childhood nostalgia. I came across a Rubik’s Cube and put it off to the side. I found some Run-D.M.C. next and before I knew it the Rubik’s Cube and the Run-D.M.C. pieces fit together. After that came a Mac Computer and some Adidas Superstars (swoon). That was followed by Cheers, Blues Brothers, some Dirty Dancing, a little Michael (both Jackson and Jordan) (double swoon) and of course Rocky…
It is here that I pause my writing to offer some wisdom. I urge you disconnect from the world and destress via a puzzle… Preferably one that reminds you of all the amazing things from your childhood. Just sitting and sorting the pieces thinking about zero things beyond the moment I was in. No phone calls, no emails, no texts pinging, no red notification badges or banners popping up to distract me. Just me and the 80’s and a trip down memory lane. I got all ZenAF with the puzzle. I think we had a moment.
As I was constructing this new puzzle, a thought occurred to me and my ego laughed at the irony. Sometimes in life we are sure of the path we are going to embark on. When I picked up that puzzle box, I knew exactly how I thought it was going to go. I had a plan in place to ensure my success. As soon as I opened the box, my plan became as jumbled as the thousand pieces that laid before me. Isn’t that just like life sometimes? As I sorted through them trying to make sense of the big picture, piece-by-piece little vignettes started fitting together to make the whole. It became clear to me as I nostalgically trekked through the 80’s that more times than not, our best laid plans are nothing like what actually happens in life. Sometimes they end up being just that- best laid plans. Something to pivot from, something to learn from, something to grow from.
Don’t have a cow though.
It’s not all grody-to-the-max.
Sometimes, it ends up totally rad and bad-to-the-bone.
I pity the fool who doesn’t agree. 😎
Thanks to a recent shift in priorities and a social media hiatus, I have had a lot more time to write… Lessons I Learned from Earning my Master’s Degree was written in December of 2016 (ummm, I’ve been busy… better late than never). It’s finally seeing the light of day and that’s cool because life lessons are timeless things. Enjoy…
It’s a freezing December day, but the Breslin Center is packed and I am sweating under my cap and gown. I look around and I cannot believe this day is here. This journey that I have been on is coming to an end and I have so many emotions about it. My family is with my little 2 month old Baby B in the stands. I think of him and smile… And feel my milk come in. SHIT. While part of me is so sad this part of my journey is coming to an end, my body reminds me that it’s time. The next chapter is here in full force and it’s time to raise our tiny human.
The commencement speaker (whose name I cannot remember #MommyBrain) talked about how he became an accidental surgeon. It wasn’t his intended plan in life. I write this having my life echo that exact sentiment. When I earned my Bachelor’s degree a decade ago, I thought I was finished with my formal education. Yes, I believe you never really stop learning but for all intents and purposes I was finished learning in the classroom… Or so I thought. (There are many points in life where I believe God must watch us and just laugh and shake his head. For me, this is probably one of them.) During my Master’s pursuit, I solidified my path to becoming an accidental educator. I write this now having a Master’s in Higher Education and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Ed. In a nutshell, I found my calling working with college students and helping them become the best versions of themselves in and out of the classroom.
Working full-time and earning a degree isn’t for the faint of heart. Throw in growing a human, building a house and being a wife, and you have your work cut out for you. I learned a wealth of fascinating things in the classroom these past couple of years. Theories and practices that I will carry throughout my career. In addition to that, there are a multitude of things I learned outside the classroom that have become imbedded in who I am. The highlights of the journey are what follow…
EVERYTHING WORTH DOING IN LIFE NEEDS A SOLID HASHTAG
By solid hashtag what I really mean is a strong “why”. Hashtags began as kind of a joke with my people. It started with the Fallon/Timberlake hashtag skit, (if you have zero idea what I am referring to… HERE also, you’re welcome.) then grew limbs and took on a life of its own. If a story is good enough to tell, it better end with a good hashtag or three as the punchline. A good hashtag can motivate you even on the worst days. #ThePursuit was mine for my Master’s and it carried me through the toughest days. A good hashtag can become your why- which is the most important of all things. In everything you do, I am a firm believer that you must know your why. Another way of saying this is come up with a damn good hashtag and use it everywhere to motivate the pants off of you. Times will get hard and you will lose the will to keep going and for these times you need to remember your why. #FindYourHashtag
WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
Sir Isaac Newton was onto something here. Though I am on this journey, I am not on this journey alone. My success is not mine alone- it is because of the educators and researchers who came before me, and the family and friends who stand beside me. I don’t believe in coincidences- we were born for this time in history. We are here to make discoveries, be successful in our endeavors and leave our little spot in the world better than we found it. “If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” #YouWereBornForThisMoment
BE A SELFISH JERK
You know when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you incase you lose cabin pressure to put the mask on yourself before you help the person next to you… This is just like that. Sometimes, to succeed in life in a certain season, you have to learn how to create boundaries and be selfish. Sometimes that makes you a selfish jerk. So be it. You have to learn to say “no” and “I can’t take that on right now”. You have to learn to protect your time and your resources. Life is ravenous and if you let it, it will eat away at everything you have worked so hard to build. It is up to you to protect that with a vengeance. Create boundaries and be a selfish jerk over the things you love. #BeSelfishSometimes
DON’T BE A SELFISH JERK
If you know me at all you know it’s super easy for me to dig in my heels and be a selfish jerk. My Master’s taught me how to not do that- actually, Hubbz taught me that while I was getting my Master’s. My Master’s taught me that there is a balance in life, especially in marriage, that needs to be honored. My husband selflessly supported me through this process. He did this with no complaints… Like, zero. Even when I know for myself, I would have totally complained… He didn’t. He cleaned the house. He cooked soooo many dinners. He did the grocery shopping. He took care of the yard. He got the oil changes and filled the gas tanks. He shoveled the snow. He did the laundry. He did all of this (and more) while I studied and read and wrote papers for countless hours. He showed me what it meant to selflessly love another while supporting them in their endeavors with zero question. He allowed me to be privy to the blessing of his selfless love. #LessonsFromHubbz
I am a firm believer that in anything worth doing in life, it takes a village to help you accomplish it. At the end of the journey, after I walked across the stage, it was up to me to thank the people that helped me get there and make it through. The ones who planted the seeds, the ones who encouraged the process, the ones who prayed over us when things got hard, the ones who helped me see it through to the end. Gratitude is everything in life. When people talk about an attitude of gratitude, it’s a real thing that shouldn’t be downplayed. On our journeys through life, the most important thing we can do is have gratitude for and acknowledge the people who have helped us get to where we are going. Zig Ziglar knew what he was talking about when he said “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” #BeGrateful
Find your why- the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning and make it a #hashtag. Recognize that you didn’t get where you’re going alone. Be a selfish jerk over the important things. Don’t be a selfish jerk where it matters most. In everything, above all, show gratitude.