On the in between after creating a void

beta.edm.me

Credit: beta.edm.me

So…this past weekend, Christians commemorated Jesus’ murder and subsequent coming back from the dead.

(If you don’t hold these beliefs, I invite you to resist the urge to click away. This post is not a meditation on Easter, but rather on what I call the “in between.”)

Jesus’ disciples lived through long, anguished hours between those two events. They didn’t know the events of Sunday would happen. All they knew is that their beloved friend and leader was GONE, the target of political and religious hatred. They could be next. They huddled in fear. They were left with a void. No direction (although had they listened to Jesus, they had some clues).

I have experienced similar times, when voids were created in my life. Losing a job. Receiving an infertility diagnoses.

And then there are times when I intentionally create some voids.

I created one in spring of 2014 that involved letting go of someone very special in my life. I knew the time had come to separate, as much as I loved (and still do love) her. I didn’t have any other love interests. Going solo wasn’t fun. It created a void. That was scary and lonely.

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yoko fukase, izu, 1973

A year later, I am creating more voids. I’m in the process of not renewing two large volunteer commitments. I know the time has come to separate, as much as I love these organizations and their activities. Here, going solo feels not so scary. It feels exciting. Like a child looking forward to Christmas to see what lovely surprises she finds under the tree.

Credit: generation-impact

Credit: generation-impact

Creating a void can assist others, as well. I explained to my fellow volunteers: “It’s not good for a group or organization to have the same leadership for too long. It’s time for me to create a void so that other people, and the organization, can flourish.” (hm…new thought…several disciples stepped it up a notch after Jesus was gone after the Ascension. And here’s an interesting article about knowing when to step down.)

In a few months, I will celebrate a year being in an intimate relationship with the woman I consider to be my life partner. I may not have connected with her had I not created space.

I look forward to seeing what other activities present themselves now that I am creating the void in my schedule.

What voids could you create, or are you creating, to make room in your life for something, or someone, new?

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Right to Work v At Will

Thanks to an alert reader, I learned that the phrase I wanted to use in this post was “at will” employer. Thank you PL!

“Arkansas is in fact a right to work state which simply means you do not have to join a union or pay dues unless you join one. The term you meant to use is “At Will” which is determined by the employer. The State chooses to be an At Will employer. The result you noted is accurate but it’s because the state government is an At Will employer.”

I plan to read these later. Right to Work States: Arkansas      At Will: Arkansas

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Out and proud…sort of

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This week, I attended gatherings at the Arkansas Capitol building to show my opposition to House Bill 1228. I was proud to exercise my right to assembly and free speech. I was proud of others who did so as well. I was proud to see some friends and I made some new friends.

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I was proud of many of my fellow protesters who remained respectful. I heard that others were not respectful, and for that, I am not proud. But I cannot control other’s behavior, only my own.

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In a moment of enthusiasm, I ran up one side of the steps and down the other, high-fiving and thanking those who were there. I was so happy that we were doing our thing, chicken wing, and felt celebratory.

(P.S. I was pleased I did not trip, especially as I was sporting these shoes. Thank you, Nike Air technology, Cole Haan.)

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After my little high-fiving party, a photographer from our statewide newspaper approached me. He asked for my name in case the paper decided to use it.

My pride and enthusiasm evaporated, WHOOSH, replaced with fear.

I said I preferred not to be in the paper. “Are you sure?” Photog asked. “It’s a really good picture.” He seemed genuinely disappointed (bless him, can you blame him? I’m cute! hehehe). I work for a state agency, I explained, my voice trailing off in an apologetic tone. I said I needed to protect myself and the agency from any possible criticism or backlash.

Arkansas is a right-to-work state (what a misnomer) and I could be fired for any reason, not the least of which is being present at a political rally (during the work day, yes, but on my own time) about a hot-button issue. And being gay.

On my walk back to the car, I wept. I felt ashamed at saying no to the photographer. Which spilled over into feeling ashamed for who I am, what I believe, who I love. Crying prohibited me from seeing some mud on the sidewalk and –SQUISH– this happened.

IMG_4164Then I laughed. How appropriate. I got a little dirty doing the most American thing I can think of (other than voting)…I am not ashamed of who I am, what I believe, and who I love, but I am ashamed that I live in a place where I have to worry about it.

Thoughts still floating around about my experiences this week and the odd connections I’m drawing to Holy Week.

It’s Good Friday. Jesus knew who He was (is), what He believed (believes), and who He loved (loves). He too, lived in a place and among people who were unwilling to allow Him to be. I imagine His human-ness felt fear knowing what was ahead, His calling, and He didn’t want to hide. His feet also got dirty.

And so I live with the tension between being who I am and being part of movements to support freedom, and the very real concerns for safety and security.

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1/12/15 Riding the struggle bus

Credit: the bafiles dot blogspot dot com

Credit: the bafiles dot blogspot dot com

Sarah over at Sarah’s Real Life used the phrase “riding the struggle bus” in today’s post. In addition to a lovely turn of words, she has a supa-cute outfit. Go check her out. I’ll wait.

…waiting…patiently

…what did you think of the background of her pictures?

…too much bling? (I don’t think so)

STRUGGLE – verb  make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction. strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance. engage in conflict. make one’s way with difficulty

“RIDING THE STRUGGLE BUS” I’m digging this phrase. I’ve talked before about how my initial reaction to grief, not getting my way, etc. is anger. So if I can have the awareness to think of this phrase when I encounter, difficulty, it might shake me out of myself and help me redirect my energy from anger to productive grief, processing, etc.

So the phrase. First of all, it’s cute. Second, it’s hopeful. Still turning it over in my mind, but here are some initial thoughts:

Riding a bus is a way to get from one place to another. Struggling can take me to a new destination, or take me home. Deeeeeep.

The ride is temporary. So often is struggle. Sweet.

Fellow passengers are also going somewhere. If not the exact place, then somewhere along the way. Maybe I can learn something from them. Or vice versa. If I choose to get outside of myself.

The ride can be pleasurable, frustrating, silent, noisy, solitary, filled with companions or strangers. Many situations on a bus are out of my control, as are situations in my life that cause struggle, but my perspective or outlook can change my experience of the struggle.

I trust that the bus driver knows the route. God, the universe, whatever, has my back. And butt.

Are you riding the struggle bus? What’s your experience? How do you view or handle difficulty? Any other thoughts on how struggling is like riding a bus? Completely different view?

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1/9/15 Give me some credit

Credit: bankuptcy blogger dot com

Credit: bankruptcy blogger dot org

My credit card balance will be $0 by December 31, 2015. I will be free of the undercurrent of stress! Here’s how:

1. Relocate: Credit cards are out of wallet and in a safe place at home.  No dramatic card-cutting or freezing them in a block of ice. They are just inaccessible enough for me to access in a REAL emergency (not queso or a dress).

2. Face the music: In an excel spreadsheet, I noted each card, balance, and interest rate. I told my mom, my partner, and a friend everything, including specific numbers. I cried because I felt ashamed. They assured me there is no shame in this; they are proud of me for facing and conquering this.

3. Priorities, b*tch:  I prioritized the higher interest card to pay off first.

4. Make it rain: Paid OFF the first card.

(SCREECH!?!?! WHAT?? HECK YEAH I DID!)

Fortunately the balance on the higher interest card was low enough for me to do this. I pulled this $ from an area of my budget (I already had one–I can talk more about that in another post if anyone is interested) for discretionary spending.

5. Commit: I identified a specific amount each month that I will put toward the other card, including that damned interest. I have (and will continue to seek) freelance work to earn this extra money. It means giving up some weekday evening and weekend activities, but worth it.

Can I get a witness?

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1/1/15 Throwback Thursday: 1987 opening gifts from high school graduation

Katie20

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Tattoos

“I see tattoos as memories. It’s not about something you’re gonna like forever. It’s memories, it’s like a recording of memories in a certain point of time.”

I have two tattoos. I thought about getting them for over a year. On my left wrist is a set of red lips and on my right wrist is the St. Jude Hospital logo, to commemorate my first half marathon (Little Rock Marathon) and my first marathon (St. Jude Marathon). I chose to put them on my wrist so I could see them when I run, or when I encounter anything challenging, to remind me that I’ve persevered to a goal before and I can do it again.

I’d like to know your thoughts on tattoos. Do you have any? Have you thought of getting any? Stories behind your tattooes?

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