Archives For

Spring.

Whitney —  June 22, 2015 — Leave a comment

“Seasons of life” always struck me as a bizarre phrase. How do you know it’s a season, and how do you know when it’s changed? Do you see the metaphorical leaves changing colors? Do you watch the flowers bloom? Do you feel the heat? The cold? And regardless, isn’t it better and less pretentious and less, I don’t know, Biblical to just call them phases?

***

In mid-February, I sent this text message: “I promise you, winter is almost over.” I meant it literally. Technically, spring was a month away, but in Georgia we were in the final couple weeks of legitimate cold, and an obnoxiously-timed ice storm was potentially getting in the way of plans and progress. But more importantly, I meant it symbolically. This phase – this season – of tremendous pain and change and uncertainty was almost over. He was one morning in court away from some stability again. From a simple answer, even if it wasn’t the one he’d counted on for the last seven years. And for maybe the first time, I saw the literal and the symbolic align, and the “season of life” thing made more sense.

***

A couple weeks ago, I was practicing, as I do most mornings. I was in the middle of the standing sequence, which opens each practice, and a thought that had trickled into my brain the night before would not leave me alone. It felt a little like God was (gently) knocking me on the head with it. Over and over. And for the first time, I stopped practicing to open my journal and write:

“I think it’s time to let go. I’m scared of it. Part of me wants to hold on just so I can keep scrolling through moments in my head. But for the time being – for this moment, this new season – I have to release this grip. I have to wish you peace and love and light and growth and let my fingers and shoulders relax in surrender and submission and faith and grace. I want to remember all of it. I still have so many questions. So many loose ends. But I’m setting you free. I’m setting me free, too. I don’t know what will happen. With anything, really. But I’m going to be ok. Spring is almost over.”

And so, as we start summer, as I let go, I think it’s time to talk about spring. Continue Reading…

The beach.

Whitney —  May 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

I didn’t mean to write a post. I expected to write throughout the weekend, but I didn’t…until I sat down at the kitchen table on Sunday evening as the towels and sheets were drying. And then I still didn’t mean to write a post. But the words came, and as always in moments like that, I don’t remember writing most of them. Just…I opened the journal and picked up the pen and there was reality and God and whatever else waiting on me.

These are the kinds of things I’m now scared to publish. But, then again, we could just add that fear to the list. There are only about a dozen in the next couple hundred words. And just like two and a half years ago, I still believe in the truth. In sharing it. Even when it’s hard and the kind of petrifying that makes you believe in ghosts. I still believe in vulnerability and openness and honesty and conversation, even when they lead to hurt and heartbreak. So I’m publishing this and hoping that everyone who reads it finds some peace in their own questions, own waiting, own middle.

“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if 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.” — Ranier Maria Rilke

“‘What if I fall?’ Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” — Erin Hanson

***

I came to the beach, and I thought it would be better. Hoped it would, at least. And it has to some extent. But here’s the ugly, bitter, obnoxious truth: there is no magical potion. No new Bible study or book, or old house or beach, or spectacular sunset picture or break from reality is going to eliminate this hurt and uncertainty. The quiet helps. So does the long drive with just Grady sprawled out beside me. The front porch early on a Saturday morning, empty except for me, my mat and my dog. Wine in a solo cup and a walk around the island like a local, stopping only to give directions to lost tourists.

Family feels nice. Grandparents. Cousins. Little ones burying my feet in the sand. And the light and the breeze and the warmth remind me that breathtaking beauty is never that far away, even when the winter feels especially long and bleak.

I finished a book of essays, and I liked it, and there were some snippets of wisdom that spoke to me, the most prominent one being about how brutal the middle can be: when you’re trying to figure out the lesson — the point — and how ultimately fruitless that guessing game is. Continue Reading…

Find your people.

Whitney —  March 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

I cried on Christmas Eve. I was at the 11pm service at the church I grew up in — the one Christmas tradition I love and uphold — and I ugly cried. The truth is I don’t love the holidays. In fact, I kind of hate them. And I swear I’m not usually that cynical, but the holidays come with so much pressure and so many schedules, and frankly, I enjoy the tailgates we plan and the suppers around the fire that we don’t plan so much more than the forced celebrations. But I love Christmas Eve service. And over the years, it has evolved beyond a simple tradition. It’s become a safe place and a touchstone, where I can take a step back and see where I am and what I need and what’s going right or terribly wrong and where I stand mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

When I got to church this past Christmas Eve, I was already a little frazzled, and I spent most of the service holding back tears. Our pastor opened his sermon by asking if anyone remembered what happened on October 14, 1992…the day that Sid slid and the Braves won the National League pennant. And that was a pretty weird opening line because the Braves winning the pennant on October 14, 1992, though I didn’t know the exact date, is my first full memory.

I was in bed with my mom. My dad was downstairs ironing his shirt, as he did every evening. I had fallen asleep — I was 5 — but I woke to Daddy yelling and cheering. I opened my eyes and saw Sid Bream lumbering around the bases with his mustache flaring. Sid slid, the throw from Barry Bonds in left field was slightly off the mark and somehow — somehow — Sid was safe. “He is… SAFE! BRAVES WIN BRAVES WIN BRAVES WIN!” [True story: I just looked up Skip’s call of that play to link here, and it brought tears to my eyes. The Braves really were the fist thing I consciously loved in this world, and it breaks my heart all over again every time I think about them abandoning Atlanta, but that’s a different story for a different day.] And here’s the video, but don’t kid yourself, Skip’s call is the best. I’ll forever be grateful for that base hit, Frankie Cabrera.

And anyway, as soon as Terry started talking about the Braves and Frankie and Sid and Skip, I knew I was supposed to be there. I knew this spot and this sermon and these tears I was struggling so hard to hold in were for me, even if I didn’t understand them. Continue Reading…

A Note to Graduates

Whitney —  May 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

Eight years after graduating high school and four years after graduating college, it dawns on me that I’m marking my fourth complete year of full-blown adulthood. Except there is no big celebration this time. No finals. No ceremony. No cap. No gown. Instead, there’s just a continuous stream of small tests, small victories, small moments marking my progress as I keep growing.

Still, I’ve learned a lot over the last eight years. [A lot of it the hard way, too.] So, I know these lists are over-done. But I feel compelled to share whatever small pieces of wisdom I’ve gained with those graduating from high school and college and inching their way to this adult school known as the real world.

Continue Reading…

“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” — Agnes Sligh Turnball

IMG_0913 I met Tinkerbell when I was nine. My brother, Michael, and I went with Momma to the feed store [I grew up on a small horse farm], and the store owners had just gotten a Jack Russell puppy. She was mere weeks old, barely bigger than my two hands. Michael and I sprawled on the floor with her and played for hours. I remember it now — still so clearly — and wonder why Mom let us stay that long; surely, she had things to do. But there’s no way I could’ve come between children and their dog either. Momma offered to buy her from the store owners that day.

Tink didn’t actually become our dog until a year later. The owners originally declined Mom’s offer, but their store and home were on a main road, and Tink’s energy couldn’t be contained to a single yard and they were worried about her running in the street. Mom brought her home, and Michael and I were in heaven. We didn’t like her name — she was definitely more Captain Hook than sparkling fairy — but we couldn’t bring ourselves to change it.

Continue Reading…

How to Go to Therapy

Whitney —  January 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

I’ve been toying with the idea of therapy for years. Mostly because I’m convinced every single one of use could benefit from it, but also because I think I, someone who craves an understanding of herself, others and the world around her, would particularly benefit from it.

But thinking about it and doing it are two vastly different things.

So when I left the room in the middle of Elf on Christmas Eve and went upstairs to get on my mat so that I didn’t scream and start a fight (and you know, sort of put a damper on the holiday), I decided that my present to myself this year would be therapy. Real, professional, dear-God-how-much-is-this-per-hour therapy.

Continue Reading…

How to Make it Better

Whitney —  December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

I had a rough week.

Now, I realize that’s relative. I am healthy. I have a savings account. My family is okay. My dog feels better. I am loved. In the worldly way of things, I have nothing to complain about.

But some weeks are hard. This last one was really hard. The kind of hard where your Saturday night ends sitting cross-legged on your bed in a very pretty dress [purple tights and a French-braided bun, too] with your dog next to you, sobbing into the phone as one of your dearest friends sits on the other side of the country and can only say, “I’m so sorry. You’re being tested, that’s for sure.” The kind of hard where you look forward to Monday because at least it’s a new start.

Continue Reading…

I had this post 3/4 written two weeks ago. I was going to get up on my glittery soapbox and rage against the ignorant, self-righteous, hypocritical machine that often is the Republican party and this Republican presidential ticket when it comes to women and the issues that affect them. The words “back the f— off my uterus” were in the second paragraph.

But then, last night, I watched the first half of the Half the Sky documentary, which is based on the beautiful, heart-wrenching and life-changing book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky investigates the personal and political challenges and sufferings of women in developing countries. Issues like sex trafficking and genital mutilation. Gang rape and familial beatings. Girls stolen from their homes and brothels full of pre-teens. Things that you want to believe don’t exist. But they do. Oh, they do. And yet these girls — these women who hold up half the sky — they persist. They survive.

The stories of the women featured in the documentary reminded me that screaming about Republicans being bad guys trying to take away my access to contraception or the right to my body (not to mention the continued absence of rights to my gay friends) doesn’t get us anywhere. Might make me feel a little better, but it doesn’t actually do anything. It doesn’t change any opinions or open any minds. It doesn’t evolve our positions. It doesn’t educate.

Continue Reading…

I finished my fruit fast on Wednesday, and I won’t lie — that oatmeal and coffee tasted a-maz-ing on Thursday morning. Technically, I broke the fast a little early on Wednesday, when I had two basil martinis [herbs are just a step away from fruits, right?], but I still refrained from eating, so I think it’s fine. [Pro tip: When one of your directors invites you to happy hour, always say yes.]

I only lost two pounds this time, which is less than normal, but I found this fast less daunting than previous ones. I rarely wanted to cave and was generally satisfied consuming [lots of] fruit. But while this fast included fewer physical challenges, I stumbled upon more and deeper mental and emotional realizations than normal.

Continue Reading…

Cleansing is all the rage. This is not news. From the cayenne pepper master cleanse to Kaeng Raeng‘s vegan, gluten-free, Kind-Diet-approved detox, the concept of refraining from our normal diets, washing away the preservatives and excess calories that clog us and restarting our metabolisms is one we’re all aware of, even if we’ve not all participated.

But let’s be honest: the draw of these cleanses is mostly weight loss. Sure, we may get rid of some toxins and gain some self-pride in the process, but we choke down lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper [Seriously? Has someone actually completed this? I’d love to hear the story.] and/or pay $100 for three days of juice because we want to be a few pounds lighter.

Continue Reading…