Preacher and writer Barbara Brown Taylor often poses the question, "What's saving your life right now?" It's an open-ended question, leaving room for both the mundane and the big. It's been a hellish few weeks (months?) in lots of ways, but in some other ways, surprisingly affirming and grace-filled. It's been an eyes-wide-open time, and a just-hunker-down-and-do-the-best-you-can time. It's simultaneously been exhausting and refreshing. And it's been a time where I'm sort of acutely aware that I'm being held, and that things both beyond and bigger than me are saving my life.
In no particular order, here are my life preservers.
Writing I've not been blogging, but I have been writing. Not big or impressive things, but I'm reflecting on life these days. I'm writing something every day. And I'm finding that my creativity is beginning to flow again. (The Artist's Way has been pretty helpful at various places, and I'm picking that back up again. Additionally, the author has written another book that I'm digging right now, The Write Diet, but that's a post for another day.) Writing is both discipline and gift for me right now. A looming workshop sponsored by the Collegeville Institute is giving me a project about which to think.
Short, Sassy Hair Seriously. In the heat of summer, it's awesome. But more than that, I feel like a slightly sleeker, classier, less frizzy version of myself. It's forcing me to get up and to actually make the effort to fix my hair-- a new thing for this former step-out-of-the-shower-and-go curly girl. And once I've made that effort, it seems silly not to make the effort on the rest of me. I'm dressing better, and look a little more like a professional and a little less like a muppet. And oddly, I stand up straighter.
Strong Women I've been gifted, especially lately, with a lot of strong women who are becoming a community for me. The local ones are the ones who show up with fun things just to make me smile, who offer to off my detractors, and who love me anyway. They also make me snort unattractively on a regular basis. But there's also a profound sense of community with a group of writing Sherevs.
Paul Simon Every year when my family went from Tennessee to Florida, we listened to Paul Simon's Graceland. It's kind of become music for the journey (whatever the journey is...). And it's on repeat as I go about my day.
The Gym It's become about community as much as it was ever about working out. I've been too exhausted to focus on pushing myself as hard as I should (though I'm ready again... starts today.) but just being there with the same people who have the same goals and struggles has been a huge help. Besides, it's an outlet-- which I guess keeps me from being so mean.
Purple Fingers and Toes I guess this is dumb, but it makes me wildly happy. Since becoming a pastor, I've chosen sedate and professional colors--or at least made certain to remove my wild polish before Sundays. I was in need of some pampering on Friday, so I got a rare mani/pedi. The color that grabbed my attention was BRIGHT purple. So I did it. And on Sunday, when I needed a little oomph in my life, the purple polish made me smile. But it's more than that. It's a letting go of the need to appear to be a certain way. It's an embracing of who I am, instead of worrying about what people will think.
Real Friends Who know, and get it--who get me. Who will ask if I'm alright, and not accept crap answers. Who challenge me to stand strongly, but who wrap me into a hug when I'm not strong enough to stand at all. Who defend me if I need it, who push me if I'm not pushing myself.
Bella My 5 year old, 40 lb mutt lapdog. She has this wonderfully joyful personality--and whether or not people agree that this is possible, she totally smiles. She makes me smile. And she makes me get out of the house and walk and breathe. We have entire conversations (ok, I do most of the talking, but she always nods in agreement... before slyly trying to drink my coffee.) And she rocks as a guard dog.
Text messaging Some of my techy church folks are super texters, and they get that I'm sort of in a place. Yet they want to love me and support me. So they send me rockstar texts before I preach or at random other times.
Hammock Napping Sunshine, gentle rocking--maybe a book. Nuff said.
Grilling So let me just say it. In all this revamping I'm doing, I've become a grill master. Porkchops, shrimp, chicken, steaks and maybe a fish if I get really brave. Love the smell of charcoal, and cooking outside without having to heat up my kitchen. But more than that, I love that I did something new and wound up loving it.
I'm sure that while this is an expansive list, it's not exhaustive. A lot of things are saving my life right now. And I'm able to notice and appreciate them, small and trivial though they may be.