Some Thoughts on Patience

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about patience.

If there’s one thing I could use more of, it’s patience. I need to be patient with my writing because it’s happening, even if it’s happening slowly. I need to be patient with God and trust His timing in my life. I need to be patient with myself as I struggle against anxiety and try to figure out my next steps in life. I need to be patient with the people I love because they are just as imperfect and incomplete as I am.

Sometimes I just want to be done waiting and get to the part where I’m there, having done/doing the thing or living the life I’ve been waiting for. Today I had a conversation with my boss about how the tough thing about patience is that you’re never DONE being patient. Even if you get to the the thing you’ve been waiting for, there’s always something new to have to wait and be patient for.

So then I guess life is one long string of waiting for something…unless you stop just living for the next thing and start being present in the moment.

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I’m really bad at this. That’s why I bought this shirt, as a wearable reminder to myself.

I tend to live in the theoretical someday because it is either more interesting or more concerning than the present. The older I get, the more I realize how much time I waste and how much I miss by doing that. True, a lot of the time, the present moment is painful or hard or even just boring, but it’s only going to happen once and if I miss it, that’s it, it’s gone.

It becomes easy to live in the past, which has already happened and we can replay, or the future, which hasn’t happened and we can imagine however we want. Living in the moment is hard. The moment is happening now and it’s always moving. It takes patience. It takes conscious effort. I’m trying, but I know I still have a long way to go.

I started thinking about this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke this afternoon. I think it captures what I mean.

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“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as though they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future. you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

So, here I am, waiting, trying to live in the moment, to love the questions, and praying for patience.

 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

A Love Letter to Anxiety

Dear Anxiety,

We go way back. I didn’t know your name for a long time and I don’t remember exactly when we met, but I do recall when I was five or six, having that chronic fear of being lost, being locked in rooms or being locked out of the house. You stole a lot of fun and joy out of my childhood.

I got to know you better when I was twelve years old and became convinced that my chronic headaches had to mean I had a brain tumor. I still didn’t know your name, so every time you showed up, I just assumed you were a symptom of whatever was killing me. Finally, I found out that I needed glasses, and when my vision was corrected my headaches went away. But you stuck around in the form of that crippling fear of death, which took years to ease off.

And then, December 2014. That was your big breakout, wasn’t it? I was sitting on my bed and thought I was going insane from the all the thoughts and fears spinning around in my head. I felt so physically ill, I wondered if I’d caught a stomach bug. I grieved a relationship that wasn’t even over yet because you had me so, so, scared. I fought with you for six more months, and finally, I was able to get past you and make the decision I needed. With nothing I could love and lose to torment me over, you faded into the shadows.

But you’re still here. You got a good grip on my heart that night in 2014, and now it’s easier for you to sneak back up on me. (Kind of like heat exhaustion.) You keep flaring up whenever I have to do something new, whenever I fly on a plane, whenever things get too crazy at work, whenever I’m alone for too long, whenever I drink too much caffeine, whenever I perceive something wrong with someone, and whenever I care about something a lot. Could you stop doing that?

At the end of the day, you aren’t me. I believed that lie for a long time. But you’re not. You’re something that happens to me. I know you come from some weird survival instinct, this need in me to protect myself from getting hurt, to weigh the risk vs. reward before doing anything. I’m learning that it’s not my job to protect myself from everything because that’s impossible. At some point, after I’ve thought things through and done my best, I have to trust God enough to let my future be uncertain. 

You and I are probably going to spend the rest of my life together in some capacity. And that’s okay. I won’t live my life afraid of you. That being said, you better believe I’m going to work every single day to be stronger and smarter than you. My life is so much better when you’re in your proper place: keeping me from jumping off of bridges and away from possibly-rabid cats.

I’m choosing not to be afraid of you. Even when you jump me and pin me to the floor, sitting on top of my chest and asking me a million questions, I’m trying to choose not to be afraid of you. You drive me straight into the Garden with my God who was so anxious, He was sweating blood. He knows you better than I do, and you didn’t stop Him. You won’t stop me, either. 

As I wrote in my journal back on January 21st: “This is just anxiety. It’s just something that is happening to you. It will go away, and when it does, you will still be here. Don’t be afraid.”

Love,

Clare

Blogmas 2017 – Day 31/31 – 2018 Goals Pt. 2

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

Today is the last day of Blogmas 2017. It’s been a wild ride of a December for me, but on December 1st I set out  to write a blog post everyday in Decemeber. Did I accomplish that? No. No, I did not. But I did write 24 blog posts (including this one). I’ll try again next year, but overall, I’m happy with what I accomplished for Blogmas 2017.

Without further ado, here is a revised list of goals for 2018. I’m sure this will continue to change and grow as we get into the new year, but right now, on December 31st, 2017, these are my hopes and aspirations.

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  • Learn hand-lettering
  • Go on 3 dates (?)
  • MOVE OUT.  Check!
  • Publish 3 books
  • Actually try to learn Spanish
  • Travel 2 new places, anywhere.
  • NaNoWriMo 2018
  • Cut down/get all my stuff in neat and tidy order.
  • Create a nice summer wardrobe
  • Exercise somehow
  • Save $3000!
  • Pay off loan woot woot!
  • Road trip with friends?
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY – Currently my plan is to post 2-3 times a week, but if I can get into a rythym I’ll aim for more posts a week.
    ADDING:
  • Write 1,000 words a day.
  • Continue learning how to cook.
  • Learn how to eat with chopsticks! Just for fun.
  • Write and shoot a short film. This has been an aspration of mine for a long time and I’d finally like to go for it.
  • Write two short plays. I love writing plays and it’s been over a year since I’ve written one. Time to change that. Plus, I was asked last night if I’d write a play for the homeschool group my younger siblings are with, so that’s some good motivation.
  • Continue going to counseling and work on building my confidence and self-esteem.
  • Discern the next steps for my life, particularly come August 2018. My roommate will very likely be moving at that time so I will have to decide if I want to stay here or move again, myself.
  • Go back through my old journals, particularly from 2013-2015. This is a very personal one, but I went through the hardest times of my life over those two years. I know it’s time to go back and see where I was so I can truly appreciate where God has brought me.
  • Read, every day. There are so many books I want to read so I need to commit and just dive in. I’m thinking at least one chapter or ten pages a day, I’ll see what I’m best able to stick to.
  • Say yes to more new things. I often just pass up oppurtunities to learn new games, listen to new music, see new movies, go new places, meet new people. I will make honest efforts in the new year to be humble enough to give new things a try.
  • Pray. Every single day. No expections. I know by now that this is the most important thing in my life. I need God, and prayer is my relationship with Him. Even if all my other goals go out the window, this must be a constant in my life.

Alright, Happy New Year everyone! God bless you and have an amazing 2018!

Clare

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Blogmas 2017 – Day 20/31 – Story Birds

Originally posted here 3/23/17. Why I write.

Some Thoughts – 3/23/17

“Is this it? Are you really going to be a writer?”

I was in my car, on my way to the coffee shop (to write), and as I was going over the train tracks, I asked myself this question. It popped into my head, kind of from nowhere, but it generally spawned from the following self-reflection: “Here I am, driving 20 minutes to go sit in a coffee shop and write when I could have sat at home to write, because I seem to focus on writing better at the coffee shop than at home,” 

So the thought came chasing me down, as it has done before, but never this strongly. “Is this really it? Is this what you’re going to do with your life?”

I am a class-A self-sabotager, so my brain was trying to trick me down all the usual rabbit-holes: calling me out on my flakiness, how I was super into writing as a kid/teenager but I let it drop for three years, how I’m lazy and scared of hard work, how I always aim low in life, my fear that I can’t actually support myself as a fiction writer/playwright, etc., etc.

But I stuffed all that down for a moment, and I thought, “Dang, I want to try. I want to put in all the work and see where it goes,”

As I walked into the coffee shop, carrying my new bag that I bought specifically for the purpose of hauling my writing stuff (to the coffee shop), I greeted the barista who recognizes me because I’m kind of a regular. I’m the girl who comes in and always sits by the window and always gets a small cappuccino. Honestly, I found myself hoping she’d ask me what I do so I could tell her, “Oh, I’m kind of trying to become a freelance fiction writer,” She didn’t.

Kind of? Trying? As I look at how I talk to myself/about myself as a writer, I realize how serious this self-sabotaging thing is. I am becoming a freelance fiction writer. I think I might already be there. Just because I’m not making money yet doesn’t mean I’m not freelancing.

Every time I say, “It’s worth driving 20 minutes so I have better focus and can get more outlining and writing done today,” Every time I say, “Sorry, guys, not tonight, I haven’t written yet today,” Every time I’m reading a book and I highlight the things that stand out to me, things I want to emulate. Every time I pin and (more importantly) read articles on improving one’s writing on Pinterest.

This feels especially important to me right now, at this moment in 2017, when I’m 22 and still living in my parents’ house and trying to save up enough money to move back to a city I loved living in. I have spent so much of the last five-six years of my life lost and insecure. I spent most of those years caught up in a dead-end relationship and a vision of myself as a pathetic, stupid, little girl, which has kept me underachieving and unhappy.

I can feel how, over the last eight months, my mindset has shifted. Back in August, I made this post about the fact that I had officially decided I wanted to start taking my writing seriously. I guess this is a bit of a followup post. I keep praying about my writing and I feel like God is cheering me on, or at maybe doing the God-equivalent of Shia LeBeouf saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams!!”

I want to. I want to fight for these stories. I want to fight to get them into the world, like beautiful little birds who will land on other people’s windowsills and become part of their lives. I. Love. Telling. Stories. And I love sharing my stories with people. So, please, don’t let me get away with talking like a flaky waffle. I’m already doing the work I need to do to be successful as a writer; I’m writing. Every day. I just need to be brave and keep at it.

So, yes. This is it. I’m a writer, and I’m going to be a writer. As long as that’s where I’m called, that’s where I’ll run. Hopefully, I can send you some story birds soon.

Thank you for reading this. God bless,

Clare

 

My first story bird. 

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Blogmas 2017 – Day 9/31 – Winter

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I wrote this on December 9th, 2015. I’m sharing it again because I think it’s important to remember where we have been so that we can see where God has brought us.

One year ago tonight, I had my anxiety attack. 

It was the most intense spiritual and emotional pain I’ve ever been in. It spread to my body until every part of me hurt in some way. I lay in bed with my head racing back and forth between two things. It may sound dramatic, but I sincerely felt like I was going to die from the decision in front of me. It had suddenly become clear to me that I was truly unhappy in my relationship, and that I couldn’t see a future with this person, even though I was, in many ways, tailoring my life around him. 

That night was hell, and many of the days and weeks, months following it were different levels of hell. 

Today, one full year later, that relationship has been over for almost 5 months. 

That night, that anxiety attack, changed me. My life is completely different now, for both better and worse. 

I just wanted to pull this back into my focus, to remind myself how richly, beautifully blessed I have been. God has been so gentle, so patient with me. He allowed me to fall away from Him and to suffer intensely, but He didn’t let it destroy me. He let it purify and redirect me. When I broke up with my boyfriend in July, I had never felt such peace and joy, knowing God had waited patiently to help me let go of something I didn’t truly desire anymore. 

So here’s to a better December than last. A December with less anxiety, less agony. I am just as confused, lost, and uncertain as I was a year ago. But God has brought me through something I honestly believed would shatter me; He has made all things work together for my good.

 

Looking back on the winter of 2014 used to be hard. Things had been weird for a while. I always felt far away from him, and then I read an article online about not settling in your relationships. I panicked. I thought I had caught the stomach flu I felt so sick. My mind was racing so much I felt like I was going insane. I told my poor boyfriend everything. We tried to make it work. He and I made a cake together on my 20th birthday and tried to move forward while this cloud of my anxiety hung over us. I had to keep plugging away at my job and my internship and I couldn’t talk to anyone about any of it. I cried so much. It was another seven months before I finally broke up with him.

In the midst of that intensely painful year, I discovered the song Winter by Kina Grannis.

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Every word seemed to be a narrative of what I was going through with my boyfriend. I couldn’t listen to it because I was scared that it was going to become my reality. Later, this song brought me so much comfort. It made me feel less alone in the painful experience of losing a love you were once so sure of. The lyrics to the bridge still give me hope whenever I look back and the sorrow creeps back in:

We made it all these years
And no they were not wasted
No life was lost right here
If love is what we tasted

 

Those years and that pain and that love are all a part of my story. They helped make me who I am. They aren’t wasted.

Thanks for reading, God bless,

Clare

 

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