There Is No Competition

I've always been a very competitive person regardless of what kind of activity I'm participating in. I get very serious when there's something to win. I am NOT FUN to play Monopoly with. Just ask my friend Chrissy - several years ago we were playing and disagreed about the rules and the argument ended abruptly with me throwing my money across the table and saying, “WHATEVER! YOU WIN!" I still cringe and laugh at the same time remembering that. I threw MY MONOPOLY MONEY at my dear friend - I am a ridiculous person.

I took roller derby practice very seriously and would often yell at my teammates to shut up if they weren't paying attention during practice. I practiced my clarinet and choir parts in high school obsessively in order to make sure my performance was as close to perfect as you can get - I would practice so much that I got bored and would teach myself extra instruments over summer break.

This has fed into the larger narrative of my life in ways I haven’t been able to articulate until the last couple of years of self discovery and therapy and slowing down. Motherhood put me in the backseat of life in a lot of ways and forced me to look at my “false” or “shadow” self closely and ask questions and really pay attention to how I was feeling instead of trying to fix it. When I teach the Enneagram I refer to this as nonjudgemental observation and practicing it can be hard work.

Before becoming a mom I was in graduate school for social work. I just assumed I would attend through the pregnancy, graduate on time and work toward my clinical licensing without missing a beat. Life sure is funny like that, because all of a sudden I had this deep desire to be with my  baby as much as possible. I didn’t want to look back on my kids first 6 years of life and just see a blur of tests and holidays.

I quit school, decided to stay home and began the process of wrestling with this deep seeded fear that I was going to miss out, that there wouldn’t be room for me when I was done being a mom. I watched my friends from school graduate and start working toward their LCSW (what I wanted to do). I was surrounded by creative people pursuing their dreams and I felt like I was getting left behind. There was a pendulum that swung between two extremes. One day I’d be completely content with where I was at, blissfully thankful for the chance to stay home and watch my kids grow up and confident I’d figure out the next step when I got there. The next minute I would swing to feeling panicked - who hires someone after they’re out of the workforce for seven years and they didn’t really have a career before they left? Will I have to start from the very bottom of a new profession?

I would look around and see other moms killing it - owning businesses and staying home with their kids. When I tried this I just couldn’t find the balance, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the quality time with my kids or with Kyle just to get ahead a little bit, but there was a deep resentment growing in me while I watched my husband and my friends succeed in their careers. I couldn't embrace what was mine because I was scared that if I grabbed it with both hands and took hold of it fully that something else may slip away from me, gone forever.  Essentially I felt I was “just” a mom, and that didn’t feel good. Since I felt that way I projected it onto everyone else and for the first 2.5 to 3 years after Savannah was born I was convinced that everyone tolerated me and only wanted to be friends with me because I was married to Kyle. 

 

Woo Sah. 

 

Y’all, being a human is hard.

 

A couple years ago I read "You Are A Badass" by Jennifer Sincero and it was one of the most encouraging books I’ve ever read. I had to let some of it go because it wasn’t for me, but I was really impacted by her emphasis on believing the universe is abundant and giving and gracious and has enough for all of us. Here’s an excerpt from her chapter entitled ‘Give and Let Give’

“When we trust that we live in an abundant universe and allow ourselves to give freely, we raise our frequency, strengthen our faith, and feel awesome, thereby putting ourselves in flow and the position to receive abundant amounts in return. When we’re in fear, we hold on to what we’ve got because we don’t trust that there’s more. We pinch off the energy, we’re scared to share, and we focus on, and create more of, the very thing we’re hoping to avoid, which is lack.”

Then in her chapter on money titled ‘Money, Your New Best Friend’ she drops this truth bomb:

“Once you understand that we live in an abundant Universe, you can also drop the limiting brief that you serve the world better by not taking too much for yourself or by getting too big. Your playing small simply withholds your gifts from the people who were meant to receive them, including you.

And then one more, y’all this book is really good. 

“There comes a point where we need to hand the job over the The Universe. This doesn’t mean that we give up or discontinue taking action. This means we let go energetically, release our kung fu grip and create some space for what we want to come to us. It’s about allowing instead of forcing. It’s about releasing and trusting that if it’s in alignment with our life’s purpose, it will come back to us (or that something or someone even more perfect will come in its place.) It’s about surrendering and letting The Universe do its thing while holding faith that our highest desire will come into our lives.”

Living in the United States, and more specifically in Dallas, Texas, makes it very hard to remember this little fact: there is enough for all of us. We are socially programmed to believe that you have got to hustle and get it done before everyone else, that you’ve got to “get yours.” Harder better faster stronger - the best, number one. There are many things I love about my city but the push to always be busy and be the best and run that rat race or risk missing out is exhausting at times. 

After putting the business on hold last year I’ve had to repeatedly overcome this fear that by the time I’m ready to get the ball rolling that there will be no one left who hasn’t heard of the Enneagram or still wants to attend my workshops. I’ve had friends dive deep into the Enneagram, some of them starting to teach it themselves, and I’ve had to stop and breath in the belief that there is enough for all of us. I have to rest in the knowing that God called me to this and that as long as I’m sensitive to that calling and follow it obediently that I will get what is mine to have. 

Not only that, I want to support those friends who are pursuing the Enneagram. I want to work with them and learn from them and share the wisdom I pick up along the way. I want to work with friends who are also in the business of helping people grow - I want to learn from them and encourage them when I can. I want to be able to let go of what isn’t mine to do and fully grasp what I know is mine. Life is so much more enjoyable this way than seeing everyone around me as competition. There is no competition - there's enough for all of us.

I want to encourage you today if you are believing that if someone else gets something it means that it won’t be there for you - because you’re right. It won’t be. It isn’t yours. It's theirs.

However, if you can get out of your ego long enough to raise your head up and look around you’ll have a better chance at finding what is yours. This moment right now is all we’ve got, so commit and hustle for what you know is yours to have right now and try to appreciate the journey for what it is.

Hearing God

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to "hear God." 

I've heard spiritual leaders in my life say before that they can only count on one hand the number of times they can say with certainty they know God spoke to them. I found that surprising because the spiritual world I came out of most recently was filled with people constantly sharing what God was saying to them. Lengthy and specific dialogue, words of encouragement, short answers to prayers and reminders of truth that pointed back to scripture. Stories of healing and praying and faith that would make your hair stand on end. And I connected with that, because God has always talked to me. 

So lately I've been thinking and wondering about how different people have such different experiences with God. My next blog post will most likely be about my spiritual journey in the last three years, and that will go into more detail about what my experiences with God have looked like over time, but this is something that has really been echoing in the back of my mind lately so I wanted to go ahead and get it out. 

What if "hearing God" is really just trusting ourselves to recognize truth that is within us? Because God is truth, correct? And if we hear the truth resonate in our bones and connect with it and follow it, I am beginning to realize you can call that hearing God. 

I'll give an example. In the post titled "An Ode to Holy Quitting" I shared how I heard God say, "I never told you to start a business." And I did. I was standing in the shower, I was listening to worship music and I was contemplating where I wanted this Enneagram thing to go and I felt deep in my bones and in my mind and my heart and my gut - everything in my felt it at the same time - that now wasn't the time. It's not what I was supposed to be doing. I heard a voice in my head say "I never told you to start a business." 

It was so impactful that I literally had to steady myself on the wall of the shower. It resonated so deeply that when I told the story to people over the next several days that I had to swallow hard when it came out of my mouth because I was getting choked up.

So, was it God? I think so. I'm pretty sure.

Was it true? Absolutely. 

So, I'm pretty sure it was God. Since God dwells in my being I'm confident that my body physically and spiritually can recognize Holy Truth when it hits me, or when I hear it. I believe that the spiritual leaders who have made comments about hearing God are referring to something different than what I'm talking about when I say I hear God. I believe we all "hear God" regularly whether we acknowledge it or not. 

Have you received an encouragement from a friend when you most needed it? 

Holy Truth. God.

Have you stared at nature and felt physically affected by it's beauty? Taken in the patterns in nature that directly reflect the truths in the Word? 

Holy Truth. God.

Have you read a piece of fiction that struck you so deeply that it literally changed your life and how you live?

Holy Truth. God.

Have you seen a piece of artwork that communicated something that you could never articulate but know at a bone deep level? Heard a piece of music that did the same? Watched two people dance and walked away stunned by how connected to humanity you felt in the moment? 

Beauty. Truth. God. 

I am trying these days to slow down and notice the God around me. I was raised in a faith tradition that says if it isn't biblical it isn't truth and these days I wholly reject that idea. How can God be contained in anything? God is everything. 

So when my kids are yelling and crying and I'm on the verge of tears and I want to punch a wall and my house is a mess and I'm completely losing my mind ......

it is a gift to take a deep breath

welcome my feelings

and then meditate for seconds at a time on the feeling of my body against theirs, the heat in my ears from the anger bubbling to the surface, the sound of the wind chimes outside my door, the wind rustling the leaves in the trees surrounding my house, the air going in my nose and out my mouth. 

God is in this beautiful and devastatingly hard life and talking to us each minute of each day, we just have to decide to enter the beautiful flow that is Spirit and listen and take it in and receive the holy truth that is being offered to us this day. Here. Now.

The Pace of Making Bread

In the past week I have watched an entire season of The Real Housewives of Potomac. I've never watched any of the Real Housewives shows before now, but my brain reveled in the petty drama that ultimately had no real consequences in how the world works. It's almost like my brain got to take a nap while I was awake. 

The last year of my life has been one of the most challenging in a long time, but it's been very manageable and hasn't registered as hard in the moment.

I started doing some community organizing and it felt like the hits wouldn't stop last year - every single day there was a new issue to add to the list. On top of learning a new trade (organizing) it felt like really really important work to get right. I also made friends with people who were and are directly affected by the issues I was working on, which had more of an emotional impact. 

I also did months of training for the Enneagram, hours upon hours of reading and writing a presentation, prepped everything to start a business and then felt called to pump the brakes on that. I applied to Suzanne Stabile's cohort program certain that it was the next step for me only to find out I was not accepted into the program. 

I had 3 very close friendships change a lot last year. They went from relationships that were strong tethers in my life to people I barely speak to. There weren't any big falling outs or hurt feelings, but it still left a gap that I felt like I didn't have the bandwidth to bridge. I started new relationships and grew others that mean a lot to me - that has been emotionally and mentally demanding while also being exciting and life giving. 

In the past two years Kyle and I have had to relearn how to be married to one another, going to couples therapy every other week for several months and individual therapy weekly for years and using dozens of new tools that were unfamiliar and daunting. I am full of hope for my marriage and am learning to be vulnerable, intimate and connected to my husband in a way that is foreign to me. This has been the heaviest of everything on my plate in the last year. I would do it again every year for a decade if it meant we always got back to where we are now, but it took a lot out of both of us to stand and fight for each other when things got hard. Life is still life and sometimes hard but it feels like we were finally able to come up for air. 

As if that weren't enough to hold we also walked through cancer with some of our closest friends last year, after 2016 had left our friend group wearily hoping for a year of calm, and most of us are going through a deconstruction of our faith that is creepily peaceful and unsettling at the same time. It has been incredible to have our core group walk through this process at the same time as us because it is far less lonely than I imagine it would be without them, but it also has been unsettling after being so sure of where I stood spiritually for years and years to suddenly find my questions aren't answered and that God is much much much bigger than I ever imagined possible. 

Did I mention I still have two kids? This last year my kids may have been my saving grace. They still drove me crazy but they also represent innocence and love and kindness in a way that nothing else can. Watching them fall in love with each other and bond makes me so joyful and hopeful that they will have a lifelong friendship. They show me grace when I don't deserve it; when I yell or snap at them or am too quick to firmly grab an arm they are so quick to accept my apology and freely forgive. 

Y'all.

I am weary. 

Last year when I realized I wasn't ready to start a business yet Rachel Triske asked me, "What are the holy desires God has placed in your life?" and my answer was, "to slow down." 

When thinking about that the last six months I keep coming back to the idea of making bread every week. Taking the time to be present and feel the dough and relax and soak in the moment. Breathing deeply and meditating in the beauty of a simple loaf of bread and everything God can say through it. 

And so, I am taking a sabbatical. I'm taking the month of April to rest. I won't be listening to political podcasts or keeping up with the news or planning any Enneagram workshops or planning any events or registering any voters or teaching any essential oils classes. I'm planning to write through the process, and I'll push my posts to social media in order to invite you into the process with me, but I will be fasting from social media during the next month. 

Instead I'll be making bread, drinking wine with friends, smelling the top of my kids heads as much as possible, picking up my guitar and sitting down at my piano more often, reading soul feeding books and writing about what matters most to me. I'll be soaking up conversations and moments with people that I love and I hope to find new rhythms that carry past this period of rest. I'm excited to slow down and listen and recharge. 

If you've read this far, thank you. It means a lot to me to know that there are people who are journeying with me through life. Please leave a comment, even if it's just a wave to say hello.

Have you taken a sabbatical before? What do you feel like you learned during that period? Were there any spiritual practices you took into the process or away from the process that you found helpful or life-giving? 

Piers of Truth

Well here I am again staring at the cursor and feeling it in my bones, it's time to write. 

I just got done playing my guitar for a little bit. Most people don't know this about me, but I have played the guitar for 17 years now (WHAT?!), and I love to sing and play piano and I was kinda a huge happy band nerd in high school. Music is something that has always brought peace and joy to me and it's the number one way in which God connects with me.

I've been thinking of trying to join our church's worship team, but there's one thing that keeps stopping me. It's that I cannot make it through some songs without tears pooling in my eyes and my voice cracking. This is so interesting to me because I'm in a place spiritually where things have been thrown in the air and some are on their way back down while others have been obliterated on the ground. Some theologians or spiritual people call it deconstruction. It feels closer to destruction because I didn't slowly take my faith apart and examine it, it all just crumbled slowly around me. I always thought that if something like this happened I wouldn't survive it, but I've been okay. I've been okay because for the five years before this happened I'd been praying a very simple prayer to God and it was, "I surrender, I'm yours, do what you want." So I trust that while God may not be who I thought he was, he certainly is still who he has always been. The rubble that is airborne isn't God, it was what I'd been handed over time by people who thought they knew who God was. Among the airborne debris and smashed pieces on the ground, though, there are piers of truth that remain solid, I know they can be trusted. The explosion felt like a supernatural experience - as if God said, "come with me, trust me, leave what you know behind."

So I have.

I've had conversations with people who used to mentor me, people who I used to mentor, people who used to be my peers in bible studies and d-groups and all sorts of church experiences and they seem concerned that I've lost my way. This reaction is confusing to me, but I understand it. My experience doesn't match up with theirs or doesn't match up with what we've been sold that our experiences will look like. It's been hard to realize that my experiencing God in a new way has driven a wedge in some friendships. I'm still sorting through how I feel about that. Mostly sad and disappointed, and also trying to continue to pray that simple prayer that gives me a peace. "I surrender. I'm yours. Do what you want." 

Whew. Deep breath.

Back to music.

It's confusing to me that these songs that have meant so much to me over the years still mean so much, sometimes even more than they meant before this process began. It's not all songs - but there are some that crumble me from within. After thinking about it and examining the words of the songs that have this effect I've realized that there are themes in them or prayers within them that I've prayed over time that resonate so strongly with those piers of truth that it shakes my soul. Here are some of the lines:

"I reach out and you find me in the dust; you say no amount of untruth can separate us." (Simple Gospel, United Pursuit)

"Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you will call me" (as if you need the title but it's Oceans by Hillsong and honestly if everyone who sang this song would live it, including me, we wouldn't have any problems in the world)

"Heaven taunts the hearts of men / We can feel it from within / The beauty of it all / The mystery / The swelling of a voice / A rising sea" (Vapor, Gungor - really this whole song slays me, it's so beautiful and full of genuine praise and awe)

"There is a strength that rises up in me, to know that you've been here before me; a strength beyond what I can see, Jesus your love, Jesus your love" (Jesus Your Love, Kristene DiMarco)

I cannot sing these lines in these songs without tears running down my cheeks. God finds us in the dust, calls us out on scary waters, is a great mystery and beauty and goes before us into unknowns we're called to enter. 

If you are in a space of wondering what happened to the faith you knew, or maybe you've lost it completely or maybe you just can't feel God anymore - find a simple prayer that resonates in your being and pray it daily, and ask to be shown the piers of truth you can depend on. You are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone. Most of us are more uncertain than certain, a lot of people are just afraid to admit their uncertainty. It's okay, you're okay.

An Ode to Holy Quitting

"I never told you to start a business." 

I was in the shower and stopped. I stared at the tile and tears filled my eyes and I thought, "now you tell me." 

God has always spoken to me in clear and concise ways, but only when I'm asking questions. To be honest I haven't been asking questions for a while. Maybe a year. Maybe more. And god is gracious because I still did not ask a question in the shower that morning. I took a breath and opened up space and god took the moment.

"I never told you to start a business."

That afternoon I had a conversation with my pastor and she said, "I want you to think about what the holy desires god has given you are." The only thing I could come up with was, "I want my life to slow down." 

Have you ever started a business? There is nothing slow about it.

The truth is I have been going back and forth for the last month about what I really want. As an eight on the Enneagram I am feeling repressed, which means that out of the three stances (doing, thinking and feeling) I use feeling the least often. I have to ask myself what my feelings are because, unless it's anger, it takes time for me to figure it out. It turns out that after making the space to feel my feelings I have some clarity.

Teaching the Enneagram is a CALLING from god, and not one I have to monetize. Sigh. My North Oak Cliff friends will totally get this, but this is not a popular direction to take in our hood. For those of you who don't live in Dallas, I am part of a community that is highly entrepreneurial. If someone has an idea they typically can figure out a way to turn it into a side hustle or a hustle hustle. It makes it really hard to not take every single idea and start brainstorming on how to make money doing it. When I take a step back I realize that making money is not a priority for me, and it actually stifles the passion I have for the Enneagram because I get caught up in, "is this thing going to pay for itself?" instead of "am I transforming lives and helping people grow?" THESE ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, I have a friend (shout out Rocky) who does this brilliantly, but in this season I have realized that turning my passion into a business is not what I'm being called to do yet. I will still be teaching around the DFW area, but it won't look like I thought it would. This takes the pressure off and allows this calling to grow organically instead of forcing it to be something immediately that causes stress. There may come a time when it grows into a business, but for now I'm content with giving it some space.

I do not want to run my own business. Working for myself is a dream; working by myself is my nightmare. I need a team of people around me to work with. I have been doing some work with a local organizing group and it has been energizing and exciting. A big part of that is my passion for the work we are doing, but another significant part to it is the door it has opened to work with some really smart, fun and inspiring people. Running a business by myself and working out of a coffee shop is not where I get excited and thrive. I am excited to see where god places me in the years to come, because I have faith that it will be with an amazing group of people.

I miss my kids and my kids miss me. I don't have to elaborate on this, it is what it is.

God has placed me in a space in a time for a reason. My faith community is amazing. We have been a part of the church for about three and a half years and I am still meeting people who are inspiring and funny and who challenge me. I am excited to start with my faith community and share the Enneagram and see where it leads. I believe this is part of a larger calling on our faith community to deepen our relationships with one another, and what better way to deepen relationships than learn the Enneagram together? 

I want to thank everyone who has been supportive of this endeavor. Some of you have spent time texting and brainstorming with me, drinking coffee and listening to my passion and excitement. Others of you have been pillars in the last week as I have processed this realization, and your encouragement was perfect. Thank you for your friendship and comradery and honesty.

I'm ready to see what this next year holds. If you were excited about attending a workshop, shoot me a message and we can work something out. I'll still be teaching, I'm just not making it a job. 

Cheers to holy quitting.