Present Moment, Only Moment.

Being a present-moment kind of girl has never been one of my strengths.

On the positive side of things, I’m an ambitious, achievement-focused kind of person.

On the negative, I worry a lot about things that don’t need to clog up today.

Sometimes this means you’ll catch see me gazing out the window on car drives, ignoring my car mates, miles away from where I’m actually at — stewing on what should happen in the next three years.

Other times, that means sitting at Andy’s dining room table in beautiful Oregon, worrying about what next Tuesday will be like when I’m back home in Atlanta.

Both are unnecessary.

Am I right?!

Today is point A and I’m always battling the desire to know about point C. What about what’s after the next thing?

I’ll be honest though; while it’s helped me accomplish a lot, that phrase about “depressed people are living in the past and anxious people living in the future?” I’ve had my fair dealings with anxiety.

A great accomplishment over the past two years has been that — I’ve let a lot go. I’ve found balance in being in the moment and anticipating what comes next.

And a lot of that came from realizing how little control you can have in life. Realizing that sometimes the best things are unplanned.

For me that’s meant finding a new everyday life rhythm.

I’m content in my job and while I want to grow and move up the chain; my todays are focused on doing my tasks better than yesterday; learning something new every opportunity and finding ways to set myself apart.

In my personal life I’ve found a lot of peace in strengthening my faith. i don’t control the overall tide of life myself; but I can trust in the one who does. And I can have good faith that if I’m focused on today; tomorrow is going to come together.

How many times have I written about this? A lot.

The reason I write about it today is because one of the best ways to STOP worrying about the future is to acknowledge your worry. Realize that it’s pointless. Find the motivation of what’s REALLY getting to you. Make a plan, if you can, for how to absolve that. And then redirect your focus positively in the moment. 

And sometimes writing about it is the best way.

Being in a long-distance relationship has affected my ability to not worry about the future in polar opposite ways.

When Andy and I are together, it’s almost paralyzing how much I want to worry about fixing this long-distance 3,000 mile issue immediately. Then in other ways, it’s so much more complicated than a quick fix — that I realize i only need to focus on the way his hair smells. What his shirt feels like when I hug him. How nice it is to go to the store together. The crunch of his steps next to mine when we take a hike. How the intonation of his voice changes at different times of day. Or how when he gets really sleepy he starts twitching. Those are nice things people who see each other everyday appreciate also; but for us when we’re together–they’re intensely meaningful.

This time last year when I visited Seattle for the first time and Andy and I were embarking on our first stint apart; I experienced for the first time “present worry.” I was in the moment — experiencing Seattle and precious time with him. But I was worrying about when the present would end. Worrying about having to get on a plane and say “see you later.”

We had brought burritos up to his favorite park in Queen Anne to look out at the Space Needle and under the bench we shared was a simple plaque that said:

“Present Moment, Only Moment.”

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Maybe to you, it’s kind of a “duh.”

But in THAT moment. I thought “I’m such an idiot. I need to just look around. I need to just give him a hug. I need to just be here.”

Ever since Andy and I saw that plaque it’s been a way of living when we have these stolen days together.

It’s a mantra when I get sad thinking about missing him–and he’s sitting next to me. It’s a meditation when I’m tempted to daydream about the “what ifs.”

As a result of HAVING to stay in the moment I’ve come up with my own list of ways to control yourself when you get all worked up about controlling life:

  • Take in the five senses of right this second. What do I smell? How does that fabric feel? Have I ever seen the light fall like that? Isolate the sounds floating through the room.
  • Keep my phone tucked away as much as possible.
  • Abolish a schedule and instead focus on overall task priorities for the day.
  • Actively acknowledge a desire to think about the future or worry // and deny it. “No, we’re right here right now.”
  • Start your day with a prayer. Give away those worries at the start so that your day can stay clean. (This is my favorite.)
  • Create conversations. Mull over the best questions. Put your heart into it.
  • Distract yourself with something new happening TODAY. See something for the first time. Find a new route to take. Try a fresh recipe. Stop by that bar that always catches your eye.
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2013 was just the prologue. 2014, I’m ready.

I looked back at 2012’s New Year’s Eve post today as I sat down. The first sentence said “I have the most deliriously, deep-to-the-bone happy feeling about 2013.”

Man.

Was I ever right to feel that way?

2013 was a year of conquering. For the very first time I think I really waded into some selfishness. I wanted to really evaluate what I wanted in life. What was I going to do to get there? For the last three or so years I had been floating along with good enough; and turned out––that wasn’t good enough anymore. In that case, I think selfishness is the way to go.

The list of 25 by 25 was a huge impetus to get my butt in motion. To stop talking so much and do a lot more. I never imagined how putting a list together and reflecting on action could make so much happen.

I mean, just the cliff notes?

– Visiting NINE new states.

– Going to Canada.

Me + Soon-To-Be-Little-Did-I-Know-Now-Current Roommate

– Running a 10K.

– Really kicking butt at my old job. I was given some great new accounts and was really proud of the work Woodbine was doing.

– Sibling beach camping trip.

Me + Brother

– Running a HALF MARATHON.

– Making some amazing new best friends. Ones that came in the last half and ones in the first (looking at you, Tara).

It's amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

It’s amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

– Little brother graduated and moved to college.

Davis looks good.

– Quitting my job.

– Welcoming Evan into the world. That was a best.

He’s growing like a weed, though.

– Moving to Boston.

– New, great roommates.

– Starting graduate school.

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– Teaching myself the guitar.

– A Savannah AOII reunion.

– So many sporting events. Countless Dash. W-S Open Tennis. A Braves weekend. Red Sox. Patriots. Panthers. Whew.

– Going to probably 10 concerts.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

– Being at the Macy’s Parade for Thanksgiving.

– Staying close with best friends. Even when they’re freaking far away.

Katieryn LANE! (Wright.)

B + VK + Me. ❤

Sha. ❤

Roberta and Stephanie. 🙂 Rob and Steve, you know I love you.

Denise and Briana. Derek and Brad, you know I love you too.

The B.C. to my A.D.

Linds Love.

V found me in Boston.

And of course Kait. Plus Sha. Plus Brooke.

Mushy.

Mushy.

PS, if you’re my friend and don’t have a nickname we apparently need to work on that.

– Finding a new church.

– Coming back from a rough sports injury.

–  Starting OVER with friends and coming out with a pretty amazing group.

Broadcast Family Class '14

Broadcast Family Class ’14

– Oh, and a new boyfriend. That’s a pretty big deal. Love this guy.

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I pretty much (minus a few 25s) crushed 2013. I honest-to-God do not know how it could’ve been better unless someone came out of the scenery and gave me like $100,000 or something.

Seriously. I am so freaking blessed.

And on the one hand where I am infinitely grateful to the things that God has moved in my life; I am also just so proud of myself. I know I couldn’t have done it without Him––but there was a part that required me to be brave. And there was a part that required me to have some insane trust and at the same time strength.

Moving to Boston was one of the most terrifying and gratifying things I have done. But I couldn’t see the gratifying part while I was laying in the floor of my Winston-Salem apartment crying my eyes out. Committing to a Boston apartment before I was sure that I wanted to leave? Committing to an apartment before I had let anyone know? That made it real. And that made it scary. But I took a deep breath and I went.

There have been equal forces at hand in each part of 2013.

The incredible joy of travel while facing an uncomfortable fear of flying.

The reward of returning to school with the painful goodbye and sadness of leaving an office made of my second family.

The excitement of new friends while missing the old.

The happiness of conquering change while feeling the holes of traditions and being with family.

The fresh victory of testing my body and seeing my running capabilities blossom with the regret of pushing too hard and finding its limits.

The amazing excitement of  love and then also the fear of vulnerability.

My life is amazingly balanced. And if you know me, and how Libra I really am, you know that I couldn’t be happier. On a daily basis I am amazed at the fullness of my heart and the satisfaction I have.

For the first time in a long time I don’t feel like I am settling.

2014 you have one heck of a lot to match; but I feel confident. I feel excited. And I feel like I’m going into 2014 with the best momentum I could ever dream of.

You know when you were young and adults would tell you “Just wait, these aren’t the best years of your life.” I had the scary and happy and confused and curious thought recently that . . . I think 2013 was. I think it was one of the best. And I think 2014 will be the second. This roll that 2013 started doesn’t feel like it’s settling down. Instead,  I really think God just got started. 2013 was a prologue and I damn can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next act.

So for my annual predictions.

Last year I called: Happy changes. Beautiful friendships (new and old). Fun celebrations. Promises followed through. Adventurous travels. Getting out of the comfort zone. Being invested. Healthy growing up. Lots of love.

And I want to keep all of that. But I’m going to add:

  •  A little growing up. 25 is young; but I can grow.
  •  A graduation.
  •  A stronger family.
  •  A running come-back story.
  •  A giving back to the city I’ve fallen in love with.
  •  Decisiveness.

Decisiveness? You might say. Yes. I think 2014 is going to challenge my confidence in the big decisions. I’m going to need to jump fast and with my whole heart. I’m going to have to know what I want, how I want it, when and where. And I’m going to have to be 100 percent in those big choices.

I want to go with my whole heart.

And if 2013 is any indication, I know I can.

I tend to hyper-focus.

Especially on things that I’m excited about, or really into. Right now there are a number of things on my mind:

– First and foremost; dag I’m back on the Jesus train. I’ve been SO stressed out lately; and it’s been amped up by the fact that I can’t run. So instead I’ve been back on my taking deep breaths and remembering that “there’s a plan….” So Joel Osteen has been helping again. There’s another ingredient coming, don’t get discouraged.

– I’ve seen a lot of movies lately, and I can’t wait to see “Despicable Me 2” next. Don’t judge. Too sassy to care.

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– I am FINALLY in the midst of “Parks & Rec” season 3. And oh my, so wild about Adam Scott. Always loved him. Always loved “Parks & Rec.” But the two together have raised my obsession with powering through the show even greater. Love.

     

          
 
 
– Does someone want to make me a beautiful cake? I’ve been wanting cake. all. week. long. Another bad side effect of not running. (Who am I kidding? I always want cake.)
 
 
– Lastly, I’m sick of my summer wardrobe already. Not a good place to be. GAP Outlet is beckoning me. Need to resist…need to resist…

When it’s out of your control, all you can do is trust Him.

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There are a couple of situations in my life right now that seem a little unsurmountable. There are a lot of prayers going up. And while I’m trying to just channel a lot of hard faith that things are going to work out the way that they are supposed to—I realized how easily I forgot this bible verse that I held SO dear just six months ago. It goes a little something like this:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

– Ephesians 3:14-21

Just a little devotion for your Thursday.

Sunday Devotion: Checking my ambitions.

It’s hard to believe it was almost five years ago that I spent a summer serving as a youth ministry intern. During that summer of missions and ministering, it was incredibly humbling to see the way that God was moving in my life when I handed over the reins.

I had taken the internship after a lot of deliberation. An alternate offer was on the table to work with a minor league baseball team and honestly, that was probably more on my self-projected career path. It didn’t necessarily make sense or seem like it would further me professionally by taking the youth ministry position — but somewhere, inexplicably, deep inside; I knew that was what God was calling me to follow.

That was the first time I laid down ambitions to follow a calling.

The entire summer of 2008 I was pretty much stripped down. All of my preconceived notions about who I was, what I was worth and where I was going were challenged. My vulnerabilities felt exposed. And so did all of my faults. But in a perfect way. I was daily reminded of how blessed I was; and thankful that I had listened to God’s calling on my summer.

And as I was spending the last night of the last mission trip of the summer in a small town in Georgia with nine  middle-school kids, we each picked up a stone to lay at the cross. And with that stone we would also lay down something that was hindering our relationship with God. What did I choose to lay down? My ambition.

I am so susceptible to my personal ambition.

Where school could take me. Where a career could take me. What greatness could I achieve? What prestige could I gain? How much money could I make? How many honors could I achieve? Such a slave to my own ambition. And with that I pledged to try to listen to God’s movements in my heart closer. To lift up more of my big decisions to what he wanted. To make my achievements for His glory — not mine.

And, oh, I stuck to it for a while.

But then college graduation came and a job called and a move happened and other internships took place and new friends came into the picture and old friends left the picture and time passed and more time passed . . .

And you get the idea.

God has always been a part of the decision, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started trying to make God the full decision.  Where does He want me to be? How does He want me to be acting? What does He want me to be serving?

Ambition is like a sleep.

It slowly creeps in and like a dream you get swept into your own stream of reality. If only ambition was as easy to hand over as it is to wake up from a deep nap.

This morning pastor led us to read Mark 10:43-45:

“…But whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (NKJV)

To lead, to be great, in Jesus’s eyes? That’s to serve. In His big picture it’s not most important to Him who is on the Forbes top earning lists or who has wrote the latest Pulitzer Prize or who has just been named an NBA All-Star. He’s worried about who is caring for others. He cares about who is serving others in His name.

And I know if I listen to God’s calling on my heart for how He envisions my life playing out–what do you bet it involves serving?

One of my 25 by 25 pledges is to find a group I am passionate about to begin serving again in the community. But I know that’s not going to be enough for my faith and what God expects of me. That’s laughable. I know that God is calling me to serve in my current job. How can I serve my co-workers? How can I serve my neighbors? How can I serve people I don’t know in the community? How can I serve my family? How can I serve the people who would never thank me?

And how can I make sure that I’m not serving for my own recognition, laying down that ambition, and instead dedicate it to God?

I’m not saying I have to quit my job and work in a church. I think God gives us specific talents to also serve in other places in the community. But I am saying that it’s time to stop being so focused on personal achievement and see what I can give, what I can lay down, with no regard to myself and all the regard for what He wants to do through me.

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh (or that selfish ambition),  but through love serve one another.” Galations 5:13 (NKJV)