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I know I'm in there somewhere

This is me. I was sitting on a beach in sunny Southern California. It was 2009 [almost 14 years ago!]. My sister Renee snapped this photo of me. Somehow she always seems to capture that one piece of me that I spend my lifetime trying to find. That one piece... Unhindered. No stress. No worries. No insecurity. No walls. No chains. No pain. Just me without all that extra garbage (insert bulging heart emoji).

These past couple of weeks have been the hardest that I have walked through in a long time (or at least it feels that way). It feels like I have never cried harder, laughed louder, or hurt deeper. My only solution that blazes a hot fiery trail through my heart and mind is RUN!!!! It makes no difference the steps I've taken, the choices I've made, the direction I've chosen... my entire being just wants to pack my shit into this new car I resent and flee. There have even been a few moments where I have rose to my feet intent to make it happen. And the only person in the room that I have to bounce this idea off of is me. And thanks (but no thanks) to this age of smart devices, my social F'ing everything only manages to remind me of this tormenting place I find myself in. I either see quotes about getting stronger by staying where I'm at... or finding myself by getting lost on the wide open road of life. WTF?! I hope someone out there can relate (insert exhausted emoji).

Today my own words came back to me. "Let's be honest, life is not easy. Hearts get broken. Food makes you fat. People disappoint you. Traumatic things happen. Your body gives up. Money runs out. And grief holds no favorites". [Ouch!]. It makes me wonder at what point I somehow convinced myself that I was immune to this truth. I can preach it--but I have a hard time receiving it. Personally, I just want to revel in the 'wow' portion (Wow enters from stage left and takes a deep bow on the stage of friggin fabulousness) "But wow... life can also be pretty freaking fantastic! Fresh starts. New beginnings. Good food. Great people. Love. Laughter. Hugs. Furry friends. Twinkle lights. Music. Chocolate. Sand between your toes. Healing. Hope". Don't we all just want to sink ourselves down into that bubble bath of feel-goods?! The only problem with that is that sometimes (or more honestly, more oftentimes) we want to skip the walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death and just be on the other side of it already. When you find yourself in that dark valley it is hard, if not impossible, to remember the other part of that verse which is... 'I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me' [Psalm 23:4 KJV]. These past couple of weeks, I had somehow convinced myself that this pain would just end if I just hit reverse and traveled back the same way I came four states ago. I could even envision this giant soul-crushing weight would just suddenly dissipate and I would be able to take a deep cleansing breath again. The only problem with that... denial. The long lost lover of my soul that is always there to comfort me when life gets hard, when I feel wronged, or when I just want things to go my way because I fucking deserve it. Ok- in absolute honesty, I just saw a chorus of angels in heaven break out in hysterics... not with me... but at me. Not just normal hysterics... but the laughing so hard that your stomach hurts and tears are rolling from your eyes (Ugh!!). Glad I could provide some human entertainment for you angels up there. Not!

I won't say I am here in Minnesota for good. And I won't say I'm not. All I know for sure--is that I am here on purpose. It took me the better part of 2 years filled to overflowing with questions, doubts, prayers, and soul-searching to even come to that place of decision. Agonizing is such a small word for what I went through. But what matters most in all of it, is that I made a decision and stuck to it. That decision involved a lot of weighing out the pros and cons... a lot of personal reflection... and a lot of incredibly lonely nights when I had nothing but time to think. What was that magic moment that tipped the scales and helped me decide to make the move? I heard someone repeat a quote that I have heard or read a hundred times over. That quote... 'No decision is a decision'. And boom--I decided to move. I placed my destiny in the hands of chance by applying for an apartment complex I had toured when I was still stuck in the land of no decision. I told myself that if I was approved, that would be the sign of a door of opportunity opening. I was approved. Next was getting a car that would weather the Minnesota weather. It happened. Next was a travel companion for the cross country track. It happened. Next was an open job opportunity. It happened. And next... and next... and next. It happened. All of those nexts convinced me that I am here on purpose. I don't know if I am here for a reason--a season--or a lifetime, and to be honest, I don't think the answer to that really matters. All that matters is that I made a decision. There was a lot of things that I had to give up, some of which hurt my heart (and still do), but somewhere deep down inside I know that in the end, it will be worth it. 'Nothing has been lost'--those are the words God spoke to my spirit though a $20 scratch it ticket when I was 2 & 1/2 hours from home one morning. That morning was a key part of the trajectory of what helped to bring me here. So what if no one has surprised me at my new apartment with a Good Morning coffee. So what if dinner invitations are lacking. So what if I spend more time at work than at home. So what if rubbing my nickels together isn't producing more nickels. (All expectations created by me BTW). And so what if I feel a bit owned by a 17-month lease that I am realizing may be next to impossible to free myself from. I am really trying to find truth in it all--even if that truth happens to be as small as a grain of sand. The most pronounced truth in my life today is that something is poking at my fight or flight response, somedays poking hard enough for my joy to leak right out. That does not feel good. I have worked damn hard to usher joy into the soil of my life and I will not allow some old trigger to rob me of the beautiful bloom that God has coming in my life. And neither should you. This is a growing season stemming from a seed that was planted so long ago that I can't even recall. All of these countless years that I have weathered the storms and basked in the sun... they have all been to prepare me for what is coming. And it will be good. And it will be worth it. And it will cause me to feel completely and unashamedly unhindered. And I cannot wait! Don't be afraid to sit with you. Don't be afraid of the long days or the lonely nights. Don't run when your first impulse is to pack your shit and leave. Don't push down those feelings you are meant to face. Sit in the silence. Listen to what your heart is trying to tell you. Listen to that still small voice. Let that joy rush in. Let that smile escape. You, my friend, like me... are in there somewhere. We are in a blooming season!

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