Number One. Hurricanes suck. And not just because the drive-thru Starbucks closes indefinitely so you have to go inside places and risk ~seeing people~ if you want that good good burnt espresso. That’s just one con. It sucks to see a place that used to be so firm in your memory turn into a ghost town. It sucks that you don’t hear from your dad for days. It sucks that he has to stay in your house virtually blocked in by debris for a week with no light or noise. Just desert-like loneliness. Minus the cool nights. It sucks that for a little while it seems like everyone is helping except you. It sucks that you thought your house was okay and then you don’t have a backyard and your sisters’ room looks like a prison cell because it’s nothing but cement block. It sucks that your mom has to box up everything precious at a moment’s notice because -whoopsie- the whole ceiling has to come out today- yes right now, so get moving. It sucks that you can see every one of your neighbors’ “houses” for a few blocks because every tree and bit of buffer or green is gone. It sucks to see your landscape of memories clotheslined by 155mph wind. It sucks to see the world move on outside even if it needs to. And it sucks to hear people say “it could’ve been worse” or “we’re so blessed.” Because it is worse for a lot of people that I love very deeply and I can’t do anything for them. It sucks that – at least for now – this world is my home, but I don’t know how to fix roofs when they get ripped off.
Number Two. I am not meant to be a pinball. 2018 bounced me between and against what felt like a million opinions. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people whose thoughts mattered to me. However, it can be unbearable when the voices around you weigh so much on your heart that you realize you can’t please everyone. Soon you’ll realize those voices are only trying to tell you how much they love you, and it’s your turn to speak.
Number Three. Prayer is hard. Really really hard. It feels like a chore, which is hard to admit.
Number Four. Betrayal stings. It stings the first time and the second and the twelfth. It stings directly, like when you cut your nail to the quick. And indirectly, like seeing someone stub their toe.
Number Five. Your happiness can’t be for anyone else. Neither does it belong to anyone else. You don’t put it on like a hat. It grows, but only as you tend to it. It is so good to give, but it’s hard to give from a place of weariness or lack. The best kind of giving starts right at your core and spills over. That’s joy.
Number Six. Ignoring is not healing. You have to look your pain in the eyes and see the lies for yourself. You gotta talk it out, scream, whatever it takes but it does have to come out.
Number Seven. You can’t always do what you want to do or go where you want to go, but you can always always be the kind of person you want to be. That’s power.
Number Eight. Writing poetry is really hard. It takes discipline and massive amounts of humility to reach out and in to that part of yourself. Poets have every ounce of my respect and admiration. I want to be like you guys.
Number Nine. Learning about the enneagram is such a rewarding process. (I’m a 2.) It shows you how you should grow. It helps you to see people for their motivation, not their environment or their personality flaws. It taught me to recognize my pride when it pushes to the forefront and to allow myself to take up space. Without apologizing.
Number Ten. Sometimes, you just have to wait. On people, on opportunities, on inspiration, on yourself.
Number Eleven. Nobody’s ahead of you. Nobody’s behind you. Nobody’s you. Your pace is your pace.
Number Twelve. Friends will stay friends even far away. Nothing makes me tear up faster than thinking of the patience people have had for me this year. It’s so crazy when people stay with you. That’s a linkage of souls I think. A certain meant-to-be-ness. I could go on and on.
Number Thirteen. Emily Blunt is a powerhouse. Why it took me over 20 years to watch her movies I’ll never know.
Number Fourteen. I can be the strong one sometimes. Granted, not for very long. And maybe not with as much grace as I’d like, but that takes time.
Number Fifteen. I’m actually very stubborn. Tell me what to do and watch me not do it ever. Even if I want to.
Number Sixteen. The West Wing is the greatest television program to ever exist. It’s the show I didn’t know I needed. Also enjoyed: Call the Midwife, Great British Baking Show, and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Number Seventeen. I’m not a great multi-tasker. It seems like I’ve always known people who are really good at it – like expert multi-taskers. They’re my best friends, relatives, mentors. But I tell ya, it is not in my wiring. And that’s okay. I do my best work one step at a time.
Number Eighteen. It’s good for me to have plants around. And to name them. After characters from The West Wing.
Number Nineteen. I can send letters. I can pick out a card, sit with my thoughts about one person, and write words to them they deserve to hear. It’s something I love and something I’m good at.
Number Twenty. When you love people as if they are not hard to love, you will get it all back in abundance. It’s this beautiful unfolding of the human soul and all its layers. The hiding falls away, and it’s such a privilege to see the spirit of someone you love crystal clear and without apology. To love is to give permission. Like the free space in bingo.
At the end of my list and the beginning of this new year I wonder why I’ve been living like Christmas didn’t come. Like God didn’t say, I have been your pillar of fire in wasteland, but it wasn’t enough. So now – now I will send you my own hands to hold. With fingerprints different, just like yours. Hands to grow among you, work among you, heal among you, hurt with you, guide you, and lift your head. I was once a voice in the sky, an olive branch in a beak, a flame in a bush, a path through seas, an eastern star. But now– now I will be warm blood in a body beside you. Surely I am with you always. With you with you with you… Immanuel. Christmas came. And I have a lot left to learn.