Lost & Found

Sometimes things get misplaced and lost and we have such a strong desire to find them again, it’s not even that we necessarily need the item but we had it. When I was little a family friend gave me a Gorilla beanie baby. I loved it so much. And I lost it somewhere – I’m not sure where but I remember being upset about it for a long time. It happens all the time right? You’re getting dressed and you realize you can’t find that favourite blue shirt and now, even though you didn’t want to wear it that day, you desperately want to find it and you’ll waste 15 minutes of your morning looking for it.

Sometimes people can get lost too. Have you ever felt lost? I know I have. Feeling like I don’t know what direction I’m meant to be moving in, seeing other people have their lives together while I don’t know what the next year holds. Sometimes we feel lost in relationships – if we lose someone we might feel like the world isn’t quite the same or the things we thought we understood have now changed. Sometimes we know we’re lost or that something is missing, but other times it isn’t so clear. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing pretty good, like I’m on the right track, and then it becomes obvious that I’m not- that I need something more.

When I think about my faith, I think about how each day feels like a new beginning. The line “I was once lost and now I’m found” from Amazing Grace. I think we are all lost at one time or another, and we need help to get re-centered, be the person we want to be, and know how to keep moving forward.

I spent most of Easter weekend listening to old Hillsong United albums, thinking about how precious life is, and knowing that I need to learn to lean into my faith a bit more. I was investing in what I like to think of as “spiritual self-care”. There has been a lot of conversation lately about what self-care is, and what it is not limited to. No, it is not just eating ice cream or having a bubble bath – I think it can be spiritual and reflective.

In my own life, the hardest self-care practice for me to do is alone time – because I’m so extroverted that I sometimes have a hard time scheduling time for myself. But lately I’ve been trying to give myself that time to reflect and process my feelings. This is where my spiritual self-care flourishes. I need that alone time to make time for God – and I think sometimes that makes it easier for me to be motivated to find the time.

If you need an analogy get ready: I love bacon cheese burgers. And I love soft serve ice cream. Together that sounds like a dream, right? Well if my diet was comprised of that I’d feel sick within a day or two. Have you ever found yourself just craving healthy foods when you know you haven’t been putting good food into your body? This girl can only handle so many waffle fries before I need a salad or an entire bag of baby carrots. Our spiritual health is more similar health than we think and you need to nourish your heart and spirit just like you need to nourish your body.

While in Florida I’ve been part of a bible study, a few weeks ago we talked about the idea of being “overflowing” with the spirit. If you aren’t familiar with what the fruits of the spirit are, they are  “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). The way I interpret the idea of being overflowing with the spirit is embodying those qualities which requires giving yourself time to recharge to have energy to be the person we want to be. If you’re burnt out it’s a lot harder to be those things. And I know when I skip out on that I start to feel more lost, maybe you do too?

Last week I was watching This Is Us with my roommate and was struck by a quote from Mandy Moore’s character “Life has a middle, and middles can be hardest because that’s when you can get really lost.” Sometimes it feels like we are on the right track, sometimes it can be a little more obvious that we don’t have our bearings. And if you are already feeling lost that can be scary or confusing. In the moments I feel most overwhelmed, taking that time to re-center helps me feel a little less lost and a little more found.

Usually, we find the things we lose. Of course there are things we can’t get back – I’ll never know what happened to that stuffed animal gorilla that I loved so much. But I did find my blue shirt at the bottom of my laundry hamper. By giving yourself the time and care you need – you can find yourself a little bit more each day.

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Things That Feel Like Home

I’ve had the privilege of calling Florida home for the past few months, and in a few short weeks I will be getting on a plane and flying back home to Canada. When we think of home we usually think of the general definition, “the place where one lives”, but I think there is a lot more to what home means, and what it feels like.

The other day my roommates and I pulled into the driveway after going to see Love, Simon (it’s great – go see it) and one of them said “we’re home”. Which was followed with a gasp because usually we call the places we are from home. But now this place we’ve been living feels a little like home too.

If you’re curious, I live in Indialantic, Florida. It took me half my internship to memorize the zip code, but I finally did it. It’s a town where I have a favourite ice cream place, and a favourite breakfast place, I have rituals of pizza and Starbucks at the beach, and it is where the little coral house I share with my roommates has become our home.

I’ve been thinking about how things, other than houses or buildings, can develop a feeling of home. Small sensory things like flavours, smells and sounds can remind me of home. If you don’t know what I mean, I’ve talked about maple syrup incessantly since I moved to Florida, and don’t get me wrong – I love maple syrup, but I didn’t talk about it on a daily basis in Canada. I get maple donuts from the donut shop across from my office more often than I would like to admit. Songs have that same nostalgic power, they can transport you through time and space. One minute I can be in the present, and the next I can be brought back to memories of dance recitals or road trips.

I think the biggest thing that develops a feeling of home is people. The lyrics Home is wherever I’m with you come to mind when I think of people feeling like home. So does the phrase, “home is where the heart is”. When we are away from people we love, part of our heart is with them. I think home is found in relationships, and the sensory things we crave are to remind us of the people we have memories with.

The difference between a house and a home, is that a home isn’t always a building, it is the people who make places special to begin with. When I miss home, it’s not the house I call a home that my heart yearns for. It is the family and friends that make my hometown special.

As I prepare to fly back north, I’ve been reflecting on the parts of life down here that have felt like home, and what I know I’ll miss most when I’m home. I love my little beach town I’ve called home. I like my local donut shop where I get lattes on long Monday afternoons, I enjoy that I live an eight minute walk from the ocean, and that I feel like a local when I know where I’m going in the grocery store. Building routines and finding favourite restaurants has been fun – but the things that make this place feel like home aren’t things.

It’s people.

I know when I go home the things my heart will miss most will not be the beachside Starbucks (but it’ll be a close second), it will be the friendships I’ve made with my roommates and coworkers. These people who I’ve learned from, been inspired by and who encourage me to grow. This place feels like home because of the community I’ve been immersed in. I can’t bring them all back with me – but I know when I miss them I’ll eat some tacos and listen to their favourite songs and be grateful for the time we’ve spent together.

 

A little challenge for you: think about the people that make home feel like home to you – tell them how much they matter and give them a big ol’ hug.

 

Waffle House is Loyal

This week’s blog is coming to you from someone I admire very much. She is a fellow TWLOHA inter, has introduced a love of tacos into my life, and loves a good pair of socks. She is so wonderful and needs no further intro, here is Montana:


There are currently 99 Waffle House restaurants in my home state of Texas out of almost 2000 in the entire country. By total area Texas is roughly 268,581 square miles. That is roughly California, Colorado and half of Rhode Island combined. As you can see Waffle House is not a big thing in Texas.

Making my trip by car to live in Florida for 4 months, my best friend and I noticed many Waffle Houses at various exits almost in the exact same spot as the ones before, along I-10 passing through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and then to my final destination, Melbourne, Florida. (I counted, from the start of Louisiana to Melbourne, Florida; there are about 173 Waffle Houses. And I counted under.) My friend said, “You know, Waffle House is loyal. Every time we’ve passed one at an exit they’re always in the same spot, so you know where to look for them.” This got me thinking; metaphorically speaking Waffle House is kind of how friendship should look.

In high school I had my fair share of best friends. I also had been hurt and abandoned by the same best friends. Going into college was a very lonely season in my life. I was trying to figure out whom I was in a new city surrounded by so many people. I was guarding my heart from being hurt again from the people I wanted to care most about. It was very hard for me to find friends my first year at college. I had seen from previous friendships that people walk away when things get tough, so I had set the bar high for friendships and I wasn’t going to settle.

This is solely my opinion on how a healthy friendship should look, and if you’re still with me, congratulations for making it this far! Like your first experience at WH it can’t be forced and you will experience it in due timing, friendships can’t be forced, they need to happen naturally. When you find your person you will know. WH and breakfast food as whole makes most people happy; I also heard from my mom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Friendship should impact your life and happiness. It should also be an important priority in your life.

As stated earlier WH was always there, in the same spot on the same side of the road at most exits on I-10. WH is also opened 24 hours, 365 days a year. Friends are supportive and they’re always at every exit, to walk with you through the hard stuff. I’ve only been to WH once because like I said; there is not many of them where I live in Texas. WH started in 1955 that means the first couple Waffle Houses are about 63 years old. Some of them might not be in the best shape, but then again sometimes our lives aren’t in the best shape. Friendship is accepting others for who they are regardless of the condition your WH is in. When I went to WH for the first time, I felt a sense of welcome-ness and it felt homey. Be welcoming and secure in your friendships.

The mission statement for WH is “We are not in the food business…we are in the people business.” On WH website it says, “Since day one, each Waffle House restaurant has provided guests with a unique and comfortable dining experience. At every restaurant, the bright “Yellow Sign” greets customers like an old friend.” Joe and Tom, the founders of WH did not envision what WH has become, but they stuck by their concept and their belief in shared ownership. Friendship should not require you to compromise your values.

Friendship should be concrete and not circumstantial. WH does not give away their recipes. (They are “well guarded secrets.”) You should be able to trust your friends with the things you tell them, knowing they will stay between the two of you. Some WH menu items can be greasy and sometimes grease is nasty, but it also doesn’t stop you from digging into the delicious breakfast sitting in front of you. Friendship can look a little gross sometimes, but that shouldn’t stop you from facing fears head on and working through the hard stuff. WH gladly accepts cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. They do not accept checks. A lot of businesses don’t accept checks anymore because they can be written as a “hot check”. A hot check is often referred to as a “bad check” or a “dishonored check” WH is an honest and loyal business, and friendship should be too.

Good, Bad, Bad enough, and Better

Language

Language can be a funny thing. We express ourselves but sometimes it doesn’t come across the way we want. I studied communication and I think the power of it is so intriguing and beautiful. I could talk your ear off about semiotics if you want – but the real point is we need to be careful about our use of language. When we aren’t careful, our language can unintentionally make people feel shame or isolation for the things they are dealing with.

The terms ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘better’ are so arbitrary when it comes to describing our mental and emotional health. It doesn’t help us communicate clearly if we use binary language to describe mental health. My biggest pet peeve when someone asks you how you’re doing, especially if they are checking in because you’ve been having a hard time, and you say “I’m okay” is when they assume that means you’re completely fine. You’re totally great. You’re not still being affected in anyway. The thing is, okay doesn’t always mean doing well. Sometimes it just means you’re making progress.

I was talking to one of my roommates about this and she related to this frustration. I told her sometimes I don’t know how to convey feeling better but still having a hard time. She said a phrase she uses, and one I’m going to start borrowing, is “I’m more okay today than I was yesterday.” I love it. Sure, it still leaves things up in the air a little – but I think it helps encapsulate progress while struggling while honouring that the struggle is ongoing.

“More Okay” vs. “Better”

Better is a confusing term to me. I don’t like it because it sounds like struggling with mental or emotional health is a negative or shameful thing. It sounds synonomys with getting back to normal and in my mind it limits the scope of healing. I think we often go through hard seasons to learn valuable lessons, to grow and come out different, or transformed on the other side.

I think it is also okay to struggle.  To face pain and deal with it head on. The healing process doesn’t need to be rushed. I like the idea of being ‘more okay’ than ‘better’. Healing, learning, growing and processing emotions all take time. There shouldn’t be pressure to be normal or better. Healing looks different for all people; it can be feeling pure joy again, it can be getting ready in the morning and having a dance party in the bathroom because you’re excited about the day; it can be booking an appointment with your counsellor two weeks apart because you feel confident you won’t need to see her in a week, it can be making art or making plans with friends because you have energy to be social.

I think, it is understanding that there is no deadline to feel better. And more importantly, that any other state of being is not better than where you are now.

Bad Enough 

You might be wondering why I named this post Good, Bad, Bad enough, and Better. The thing I want you remember, if you remember anything from reading this, is that you don’t have to wait until you’re in a desperate place, you’re “bad enough”, to ask for help; asking for help, in any form, doesn’t have to be a last resort.

Even if you aren’t one of the 1 in 5 Canadians who experience mental health issues or mental illness *, every person has mental health and it’s still important to take care of yourself and keep your mental health in check. If you feel like you’re struggling it is okay to ask for help. I consider counselling like going to the gym for my mental and emotional health. It helps me keep myself in shape if I need to. It’s so good to ask for help when you need it – but I’ve also found that you don’t need to wait until you get to your breaking point to make the call for an appointment. If you’re starting to feel stressed but think you’re strong and can go it alone but then remember that you don’t have to.

Counselling is great and if you feel like it could be beneficial to you you should try it. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. The way we talk about mental and emotional health matters a lot so please be careful with your words and avoid broad or binary language. And always know that it is okay not to be okay, and to take your time to heal from things.

YOLO

This is the most impromptu post I’ve written yet, but my dear readers my family is visiting me in Florida this week!! And I haven’t had the time to sit down and write until now, 11:41 pm on the day I usually share a post with you. I was going to just write this week off – but I’ve had something on my mind and on my heart lately so I’m going to see what I write for you in the next 19 minutes. Fingers crossed that it is coherent.

What’s been on my mind? Well, I’m what you might call an over-thinker. I worry. I stress. I make little things much bigger than they need to. But lately I’ve been doing a good job at not doing that. Being in a new place, having totally different experiences out of my comfort-zone is the kind of position you’d think would add to the stress.

But it actually hasn’t.

Whenever I go somewhere like a new city it’s often up in the air if I’ll get to revisit it. And I don’t just mean in this trip, I mean there is no guarantee that I’ll make my way back to Tampa or Miami again. So I make the most of my experiences, and I’ve been trying not to think too hard about it. Get the burger. Get the ice cream. Say yes to trying new things. You only live once (okay I know YOLO is very 2010 but my Canadian heart loves Drake and it’s just really fitting).

I still have my moments when I second guess myself, or I feel indecisive (impulse purchasing tacky souvenirs is my biggest struggle.) But I’ve found if I don’t give myself the chance to second guess myself and go for things before I think too hard about it I’m golden. The more I just say “yes” and try things, or say “no” and give myself permission not to have to try everything (but be at peace with the choice) the less stressed I get.

I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t think at all, but I’ve loved letting myself relax a little more. Going with the flow. Embracing not making plans and learning to love spontaneous adventures. Taking advantage of the moments in front of you and appreciating that if this is your only chance to live that moment you should do your best to make the most of it. Sure, I could give you examples of impromptu trips to Miami or Orlando, but it you don’t need to be in some glamorous tropical city and to make the most of the moments you are living in.

Maybe it is just treating yourself. Maybe it is making the time to do something you love or connecting with someone you love. Maybe your YOLO moment is learning to trust yourself a little more and let go of stress; giving yourself permission to indulge or be imperfect.

Trust me, when you learn to give yourself a break and let go of the little things you over-think about you’ll give yourself so much more time and energy to make the most of your life. And you’ll breathe a little easier.

So remember, you only live once.

Heart Cries

This week I’m really excited to let you know that we have a guest post. It wasn’t written by someone I name drop on here often, but a lovely new friend named Jess. I met her through one of the girls I’m living with in Florida and on a whim I asked if she would think about writing something for the blog. I didn’t know what to expect, but she did write something and it’s lovely. If your heart is tired, this one is for you.


Do you ever have those seasons where you are just really struggling with something? And you don’t want to admit it? You dont want to acknowledge that you’re not doing okay, that you’re feeling so much.

I’m right smack in the middle of one of those seasons right now. I don’t like being vulnerable, but here I am, about to be vulnerable, and hating every second of it. But I think that maybe this will help me process. And maybe even help you?

So anyways, I have been struggling with my looks (shocker, a girl struggling with her looks—but read on). I’ve been struggling with my looks in the sense that I know I’m not awful looking, in my own opinion, but knowing you’re not awful to look at and believing you are beautiful are two completely different things. And well, I can tell you this, the last time I felt beautiful was March of 2017 when I was in a saree (traditional Indian dress) in India going to a birthday dinner for a close friend. Y’all, its 2018. Its been a bit. And I’m not staying I’ve struggled with my looks that whole time, but that’s the last time I’ve truly felt beautiful. Believed that I was beautiful.

I think I started battling the lies of beauty and ultimately insecurity since January of this year. So about  two months now.

And I think I have not wanted to admit that I’m struggling because then I feel weak. And weak people are needy people. And needy people are too much for people to handle. And if I tell someone their immediate response is to affirm me in my looks, but that’s not what I need. And I don’t want to be seen as weak, as needy, as too much, and the last thing I need is my friends and family telling me Im beautiful; I need to believe it myself. I guess if you’re a therapist or someone who looks for root causes, it can all probably come down to the question “Am I enough?” But we’re not going to go that deep today.

This back story all brings me to what happened the other morning, and the reason I’m writing this, I promise. I was going to Whataburger to pick up some breakfast for my mom (if you have never had Whataburger I highly encourage you to go asap). As I pulled up the drive through line was halfway blocked by an 18-wheeler and there were too many cars and it was kind of chaotic, so I decided I would beat the system and just walked inside (spoiler alert: it wasn’t faster at all, it was a lot slower). As I was shuffling through people to get a drink I side-stepped so a little old man can pass by, we made eye contact, I smiled, he smiled, he said hi and I said hi back and then he stopped and looked at me. Then he said “just so cute” and then he smiled and giggled and started walking again. Then I laughed because I didn’t know what to do.

But I immediately thought about how that has been the question of my heart lately. Does anyone think I’m beautiful? Does anyone think Im valuable? Does anyone see me? And I know that he said “cute” and not beautiful, but my heart needed to hear it. My heart needed to know the answer to a question is has been asking for two months now. And it was from a complete stranger, from an old man who will never know how much it meant to me.

It was then that I realized the Lord truly hears our heart cries. I honestly believe Lord sent me that little old man to remind me what He thinks.

Through the sad thoughts and the mental battle that happens within my own head, I have a God that listens. He’s listens—truly listens. He’s been listening to my heart cries. Cries of not feeling beautiful, of not feeling lovely, or wanted, or valued. Just honestly the things I only admit to Him because He knows my heart.

In times when our hearts are broken and hurting and we don’t know when we will be okay again, the Lord hears us. He hears our deep cries. And every so often, He sends us people to remind us of that. Remind us that He is with us in this journey. Now, I’m not magically not questioning my beauty anymore, and Im not magically 100% again, but I am trusting this process and am encouraged and hopeful.

And please don’t hear me say that beauty is the only thing that matters, because it definitely is NOT. But it’s the battling I am currently fighting, its the battle that I will soon be winning. We all fight different battles, we all have things we wish we weren’t going through, we all have those deep cries of our heart that we think no one hears or cares about.

But the Lord cares; He hears, He listens, He cares.

 

Be Where Your Feet Are

A few weekends ago I traveled across the state of Florida with my roommates so that we could see the sun rise and set over two different oceans in the same day. We woke up to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic and made our way to watch it set in the Gulf off of St. Petersburg.

It was a day that reminded me of how small we are, how big our God is, and that in the moments when we feel like things are out of control we know we don’t need to panic because we don’t need to be in control. The biggest take away I had that day was to be present in each moment and grateful for the things I get to experience. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned. You can’t be in all places at once, you can only be present for what is in front of you.

Sunset At The Pier 

We had been planning to end our day long adventure by watching the sunset from this cool pier, but realized that it was much farther away than we thought. Rather than being upset about missing out on that thing we planned on I reminded myself that it opened the opportunity to experience something else.

We ended up watching the sunset from a beach . I was standing with my toes in the sand, ankle deep in the ocean – I have no complaints.

About 3 hours before the scene I just described, as we were wandering around St. Petersburg, I had a moment of panic realizing that we could see everything the city had to offer. We were only there for a day and there were too many cool things to do. I realized I could either stress about what I was missing out on or I could be grateful for and appreciate the things I was able to see and do.

My Deepest Fear: Missing Out

FOMO is so real, and it’s easy to think the grass is greener in other places. What if the sunset was better somewhere else? Would we have had more fun if we picked a different city to visit? The world has endless opportunities to explore but you can’t do everything. You can’t be everywhere and see everything. All we can do is be present for what we do get to see and be so grateful for it.

I know you might be reading this and thinking “Of course it’s easy to be grateful and present for every moment, you moved to Florida in the middle of a Canadian winter”. And yes – that is true. But I think gratitude and mindfulness are things that can, and should, be practiced in all parts of the world in all seasons of life.

Being here is wonderful, but each of my roommates would agree that the world hasn’t stopped since we arrived and there are things happening back home that each of us are missing. Family events, concerts we would have attended, loved one’s birthdays, time with people we love. It would be easy to miss home and wish for a day to be back there every once in a while – but each day you are where your feet are.

Enough is Enough 

Each day is special. Sometimes you might be far away from the people you love most, or you might wish you were doing something different. But don’t waste the precious moments you have wishing for something else.

It is easy to think if we just have one more thing we will be happy. We will be happy when we finally meet the one, when we get the dream job, when we go on that trip. Sometimes I feel like if I just get one more Aerie swimsuit I will be satisfied. (It’s not true I will always want one more).

Being happy with what you have and feeling like it is enough needs to come first. Where you are is enough. The experiences you have are enough. Being content can be easier in some situations than others, but ultimately if you can’t be grateful for the hard moments I think it’s actually harder to appreciate the good ones.

You are enough. The moment you are in is enough. You don’t need anything else.