solo travelin, good for the soul

Solo traveling is good for the soul. A little uncomfortable, a little scary, but ultimately, good for the soul. 

The displacement and discomfort are good for reminding you of what you value, what you enjoy, what you are like. Take away all the comforts of familiarity, and there you are, just you and some time and this new place, getting (re)acquainted with each other in the break from reality, mundanity. 

This elongated weekend in San Francisco has had me strolling unfamiliar streets, in unabashed admiration of the copycat-European architecture, walking quickly when I feel like it, walking slowly when I feel like that. Breathing deeply. 

I’ve memorized Google’s directions to ice cream places and famous landmarks — to be able to walk like a local, no smartphone glow lighting the way for me — taking my time to look into people’s faces and into stores where locals are bustling, to see what it’s all about.

I’ve been heartbroken by the people who sit in the pee-covered curbs finding privacy right there in the open, to sleep, to beg, to do drugs. 
Miles and miles of city blocks in all their upsy-downsy glory, two grapefruits bought at a Hispanic grocery store, one ride with “the best Uber conversation” ever. Which he confirmed. We high-fived on it.

I am reminded of me at my best self. My smiles-at-strangers self. My broad-comfort-zone self. My pondering-while-walking self. My asks-strangers-interesting-questions self. 

I’ve missed that self. 

Thank you, San Fran, for reminding me of her. Of me. 

after a bout of crying in the car

WHAT I KNOW NOW:

  • The coming together of two individuals in marriage is just one — crucial, but — relatively small facet of two families coming together.
  • Even when you’re just the catalyst for a storm, you can get caught up in the middle and get quite hurt, tossed to and fro in the fray.
  • When you’re feeling that distance from your people — impermeable, imperceptible — press in bravely and they just might surprise you with their reaching-out in kind. And remind you that you’re among family indeed.

THINGS I’M LEARNING, STILL:

  • The impulse to pull away and be cold toward the one I love most when I am hurting comes from a darker place that I’ve been willing to imagine. As God brings us togetherer, so Satan works to separate. Don’t let him win. (“Choose each other. Always choose each other,” she said.)
  • It doesn’t do any good to tell yourself the victim’s narrative over and over — in fact, it will only make you cry more, probably in public. That song of self-pity is a tempting one to hum sadly to oneself (though loudly enough for people to hear), but it’s not healthy or productive. Or fair.
  • Speaking of fair: Past hurts, built-up issues, personal sensitivities are not fair. They blow up at inopportune moments and burn innocent victims. If you’ve been hissed at, the only thing you can do is propagation prevention. Make sure the hurt doesn’t go forth and make more victims.

PRAYERS I AM PRAYING:

  • God, teach us how to be closer to each other through difficulties and hurts. Use these times to teach us what it means to “have each other’s backs” and to “be on the same team.”
  • God, let my heart be more like yours — in undeserved offenses, let me see the hurting heart. In unfair circumstances, remind me of the grace that you lavish on me. In those dark and stormy corners of my heart that I like to sit in sometimes, back to the world, humming that song of self-pity, show me hope and teach me peace.
  • God, help us to continue to press into this community you have us in. Let us not miss out on the present for fear or shyness or laziness; let us be open, and give us opportunities to learn from that openness. Keep teaching me about community, God, it’s a fascinating gift you’ve given us on this side of heaven.
  • Thank you for surprise interventions and people who love us through treats. Thank you for places that are private enough to cry in, public enough to hold hands in. Thank you for being greater, more merciful, more gracious — more light and hope and everything good — than all of my grievances and fears.

wedding dress shopping

Wedding dress shopping is a really interesting phenomenon. The experience of shopping for your Perfect Dress parallels a lot of what they say that your Perfect Romance is supposed to be like.

“Supposed to be” — key words that turn on alarm bells in my head, cause of this season I’m in, you know.

Are you supposed to have that THIS-IS-IT feeling that all the TV show brides-to-be talk about? Are you supposed to cry tears of joy? Are you supposed to ring that bell as you commit to your dress, hoot and holler and make everyone’s heads turn with your choice?

Are you supposed to be flooded with emotion? Are you looking for a tingle in your tummy? Will there be a light bulb moment over your disheveled little head?

I’m skeptical. As I have been, throughout this entire wedding planning process. Just questioning all the “supposed to do’s” and “supposed to be’s” because there are endless ways to spend your money on this single (admittedly, very special,) day.

This high-stakes decisionmaking based on a fleety feeling is also an interesting kind of logic, because, how the heck are you supposed to know what “perfect” feels like, if you’ve never found the perfect wedding dress before? How are you supposed to know what “bridal” feels like, if you’ve never been a bride before? How are you supposed to feel about hemlines and trains when you’ve never ever worn a dress for gettin’ married in before? I don’t have any personal context for any of these questions.

They’re all borrowed ideas, you know. Those ideas in your head of what you think you’re supposed to look and feel like. From TV shows and Pinterest boards and wedding blogs — they hail from all corners of the internet, in loud, ringing voices. But you’ve never actually been here before — it’s totally new territory — so it’s probably an okay thing that you feel awkward and a lil out of place in those expensive white dresses. As a first-time, usually mostly casual kind of gal, my bride-to-be-ness feels a little uncomfortable and discouraging in some of these dresses.

But I totally do get that tingly feeling sometimes while shopping — about the perfect pair of jeans, cuffed to just the right leg length, or a silky dress in mustard yellow. So the feeling itself is real, is attainable. I know that. It must be the context that’s throwing things off.

[Western] Weddings — and all things wedding related — are probably one of the most hyped up of human experiences. They hit that sweet spot of a marketing perfect storm, swirling somewhere between Specialness and Ubiquity — lots of people have them, but all with the hopes of only doing it once. With the exception of wedding planners, you’ll never get to practice enough times to get good at the thing, but there’s incredible pressure for you to present, sometimes to hundreds of guests, a Perfect event.

The only hope, really, is to remember yourself and to remember your main purpose (psst: it’s to get married and to have enough money left over so that you can live life after the wedding day too). And ask, once in a while, along the way:

Who are you, and how do you normally dress? Is that the way you want to present yourself at your wedding, as your normal-days self? Or are you looking for something different?

And, seriously, how do you LOOK in the dress? If ya look good and ya know it, you’ll feel it. (Clap your hands!) And that’s a virtuous cycle, if I’ve ever seen one.

And, of yeah — if you don’t know what it is that looks good on you, try on lots of different silhouettes, cause what your heart leaps at might surprise you. Those feelings are sneaky.

What the heck. What am I doing here. Shopping for wedding dresses. Blogging about the experience. Okay the blogging part, that feels right. Is it still you, ladisonmee?? When did you become a lady who shops for wedding dresses and has feelings about different kinds of white fabric? Life is a mystery.


Update, 3/4/17:

Found it.

Had the feeling.

Don’t care that I am a foolish girl; I’m excited for this dress.

Emotional support cred goes to RH on the journeys to and from Annapolis on this drizzly Saturday.

IMG_1738
and props to mompops Lee, who dashed all the way up to nova to inspect my rash purchase and promptly took it home to Charlottesville to get second opinions on how to get the thing altered to fit me. I am well loved.

 

old and new

A long weekend full of promised (and expected) beginnings but also of unforeseen (unexpected) retrospectives.

It’s hour 47 of the new year, but here I sit, resolutions-less and inauspicious. 2017 bodes well, don’t get me wrong, but feelings are definitely different this time around. No mad rush of sentimentality, no contrived collections of Year in Review photo dumps. Insert self-conscious head scratch here.

I spent this past weekend driving all over this northern chunk of Virginia I call home now — haphazardly socializing in odd and familiar circles. It’s funny because spending time with old friends just reminds me that I need (that I want) to spend more time with these people. That these are the relationships I want to hold onto, to spend time on, to grow.

It’s been a weekend of quietly commemorating the pared-down master list of mass-text recipients. No ping parades at midnight; rather, a steady stream of good wishes marching through my phone at odd hours like 3 pm and 8:30 am. It’s more about the person on the other end than the timing of the messages, this time round.

It feels good, and odd, and good again, in turn. It’s a different ladisonmee scribbling these late-night words of commemoration and memory-keepsaking, but also much the same — munching on gummies for continued willpower, tenaciously refusing to fall completely into bed until the blog itch has been scratched.

Semi-relatedly, I gotta get myself a new computer. This blogging-via-phone thing is getting really old, really fast.

:) 9/18/16

hi E!

I liked New York! and yeah, that’s something I’ve thought about these past two trips there — whether I’d like to live there or not. I think I’d like to — just for a year or two, maybe. it’s definitely a little too crazy for me for the long term, but I think for a short while, I’d enjoy the liveliness! Mark never wants to live there, though, so…maybe not. haha we’ll see. who knows what’ll happen. I never went to Take 31!

I know it must be so hard… but you’re absolutely right that the Lord is with you. and through EVERYTHING, he’s shaping you and molding you to be the person you’re meant to be. yeah, maybe that’s a good gauge of whether or not you’re progressing and moving in the right way — if certain steps you take (or don’t take) are refining you (in your character) to be more like a character that God would be pleased with. the fruits of the spirit, right? if certain situations, even if they don’t seem to be “clear” in terms of your career path or life trajectory, are increasing your character’s capacity for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… maybe that’s a good sign. but if you’re decreasing in patience… if you’re at a loss for joy… if you can’t hold onto faithfulness… maybe it’s not the way to be going. maybe it’s time to find a different direction from the Lord. whatever that might mean in your life right now.

a verse that talks about this “refining” love of God: Isaiah 48:10

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
    I have tried[a] you in the furnace of affliction.

 

this is a good reminder for me, too. life is pretty good in general, but I find myself getting impatient with people around me — friends, family — and also just really easily upset by trivial things. traffic. messes to clean up. stupid stuff like that. and I take out my anger on other people around me. but doing that takes away any semblance of love, of joy, patience, kindness, goodness from my character… I am NONE of those things when I dwell on the negative. this is clearly not the right place for my mind and my heart to be in.

hope you’re well! happy Monday.