Take me back to WildWood!

 

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I can remember the night I met my now husband. I can remember thinking to myself that a person this good, this moral would never love me because of that one thing in my past. That one thing I tell no one, that my closest friends know and never bring up. The one thing I am more confused about than any other decision I have ever made in my past. The one thing that makes me feel like I am not good enough to have this man love me. As a result of this fear, I reacted in the opposite way that I normally do with this piece of information. Normally, I hide it until someone sees me, loves me enough to love me in spite of that one thing I did when I was 16. This thing that I completely believe is everyone woman’s choice to make, but why when I acknowledge that I used my right to choose does it make my skin crawl. However on that night I didn’t bury that information, when my wonderful now-husband asked me about the significance of my tattoo on my back instead of using any one of the reasons I normally share with people, I told him the truth, I told him about a choice that I made when I was 16 and the ways that it still drives my life today. And guess what. .. he still loved me. He still asked me if I was upset he wasn’t trying to make out with me that night, and still convinces me every day that I am his “have-to-have” in life, that I am his most beautiful woman in the world. And I like to think it is not in spite of my choice to tell him about my past, but maybe just a little bit because of my choice to tell him. ( And look at me even now, not wanting to write the word out)

A wonderful woman named Grace spoke to a group of 16-18-year-old girls this week, she will continue to speak to them every week for the next 10 weeks she will influence the way that they share their lives with people, and she impacted the way I hope to share my life. She spoke about vulnerability but beyond that, she spoke of transparency. Transparency in our lives in our stories is typically reserved for the few closest to us, those we believe, as I did, will love us in spite of the choices that we made and not turn our back on us or run and tell their neighbor the things we choose to share. They will see themselves a little bit in our stories and find our humanity refreshing. But vulnerability is what we chose to share with people who have not earned transparency yet, with the people who ask to hear our testimony, who ask us about our day. We pick and choose little-edited pieces of our life that we feel comfortable sharing, things that may make us look like we have been through something tragic but still paint us in a good light. We don’t talk about all the shitty things WE have done when we are just being vulnerable.

But what could we do, if we were transparent with more people if we shared the struggles the hardest decisions we have made and then let people see the ways we were formed and shaped by those choices. Through the times that we hide away from others, don’t you think we all probably have a little more in common that we think? But we just spend our lives only showing the “instagrammable” moments with each other. We paint our lives to appear beautiful all the time. But I think we could all become a lot closer if we showed the browns and the grays of our lives instead of only the golden, the bright and shiny hues.

First off, I have never been to WildWood, not as a camper, not as a counselor, not as a staff member.  Wildwood is a place where campers spend a week of their lives trying to get closer to God and get closer to each other. It is a place removed from cell phones, social media and a place where you get to work hard and take a week to breathe deeply again. I spent a few nights at Wildwood this summer as a guest and in the moments I start to hide away the moments I forget what it is like to live transparently, I hope someone will Take me Back to Wildwood.

-Rae

P.S. I wrote most of this post back in June, and am just getting around to posting it.

(Wildwood, camp- Hume CA)

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Fortitude!

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Fortitude:

Noun

1. mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously 

What does it look like to have Fortitude when you are not truly facing any adversity, or danger but you are just not content with where your life is at the moment? What does it look like to have the fortitude to stick with your commitments in order to see personal and professional growth?

Almost a year ago my husband and I made the decision to move across the country to a very small town that happened to offer career growth opportunities for both of us. He would be working on developing a marketing department and I would be starting a job in a school where they essentially had no special education program. I would get to design and implement the new program .

We have been here about 9 months and as is always the case, that hasn’t gone exactly to plan. We are both still doing those things for our career, I am just discovering that I don’t want to be the person to design and implement a new special education department, I don’t want to be the person that has to change an entire downs mind about special education. I don’t want to be the only person in the entire town that understands why we need to have a special education program or deal with the teachers and parents that just want to fight me. I have been finding myself dreaming of other places, dreaming of my students back in CO that made my life so much more rich. Dreaming of a place where I felt involved and needed, a place that isn’t this place.

So what does Fortitude have to do with any of this?

Well this may not be the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but it is the thing I am having to push through the most. I have always had an end game in mind, something I was working towards and when things got hard I just thought of my goal. But here, this has no goal. Maybe to set up a successful program, that may or may not fall apart once I leave. Maybe, to experience something new, but mostly my end goal as I see it right now is to leave.

So Mr. told me the other day to have fortitude, to stick with the commitment we made and see it through at least this school year. So here I am, finding fortitude.

My point here is, fortitude doesn’t have to mean that you are facing the hardest challenge of your life, or even that you have been forced to face adversity in any one else’s mind. It may be the most basic problem and yet it can really affect our lives. So what would happen if we all made Fortitude our mantra and gained the stick-with-itness that I try so hard to instill in my students everyday.

What if we all used Fortitude throughout our everyday life and had the strength to follow through, work hard, fight the battles that no one even knows we are fighting. What would happen then?

I guess I’m about to see. . .

-Rae!

 

Live Like It’s Spring!

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Live like it’s Spring. . . Spring. . .what does it mean to live like it is Spring? What does Spring represent? New life, growth, change, the warming of the seasons and the growth of the flowers. The way that everything seems to have possibilities as the world emerges from the snow and glum of winter? If you live somewhere that doesn’t have seasons, none of this Spring talk probably hits you in the feels, but for me a Colorado turned California mountain girl, it gets me.

 

Last summer was the first summer since I was 15 that I wasn’t working. I didn’t work summer school, or camp, I wasn’t working part-time at a pizza place or movie theatre. I was a teacher, on full on teacher summer. I had June, July, and part of August to just relax, do some DIY projects and hang out with my husband. Older teacher friends applauded me for taking the summer and talked about how I needed it to recharge after the crazy year in Special Education that I had. I was excited to sleep in, forget what day of the week it was, and maybe drink wine during the week without a reason.

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That lasted about a week. . .

After about a week I was BORED, I needed something to keep me occupied that wasn’t burning through 2 books on the “Hot Summer Reading List”  a week! I watched as other teacher friends my age went on hikes and to the pool and on road trips. .. all without inviting me. My best friends all moved across the country one by on to the Pacific Northwest  and I was feeling alone. Making friends as an adult. . .. SUCKS! I watched people I thought were my friends live a Teacher Summer like I thought I was supposed to live. But that teacher summer was only leaving me feeling like a 16-year-old girl who didn’t get invited to the prom.

 

Fast Forward to this summer, I am again taking the summer off. I have spent the summer hosting guests, going on one of those road trips that would have made me cry last summer. And spent many days paddle boarding on the lake 5 minutes from my house.

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SO what has changed? And what does it say about “Living like it’s Spring”

Well in my life, a lot has changed and a lot as stayed the same; we moved from CO to a tiny town in CA, I have a new job at a much different school. But I am still married, my best friends still live 1000 miles away from me, I live in a place with fewer options of activities throughout the day, but this summer I spend my days peacefully not full of anxiety about what I “should” be doing.

 

So I ask again, What has changed?

Me!

I have figured out how to live like it’s spring! Live like something new is always growing, something could change right around the corner. No matter how gray the sky is now, no matter how many feet of snow the winter dumps on you. Remember to live like tomorrow the sun is going to come out and you can jump into the lake! I still don’t love Summer, I still need a project to keep myself active, I still would make a horrible trophy wife. But I am content with here I am in life now, I am not comparing myself to the people around me and wondering “why they don’t like me” or why I wasn’t invited to this or that (Okay I still do both of those things sometimes) But somehow my life ended up somewhere I never pictured, In a tiny town 60 miles from the closest grocery store. Where I could name almost every full-time resident of the town and during the winter there is literally NO restaurants open during the week. But I also can’t remember a time since college that I have been this content in how all the pieces of my life fit together. I love waving to people as I walk through town, I love having dinner by the lake and knowing at least 10 people sit around me. I love having the sense of community that comes with living in a place where we all are forced to do life together without our cell phones.

 

My life looks nothing like I thought it would a year ago, but Hey maybe it is Spring.

I am just over here watching myself Bloom!

 

The Elimination of FOMO!

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The Fear of Missing Out, something I think this generation is cursed with. We are constantly assaulted with all of the wonderful things that everyone  around us is doing. At any given minute any of our friends could be on a cruise, drinking margarita’s in the sun. But the worse cases of FOMO for me happen with things that are right down the road, they are things you easily could have attended if you had only known about it before it popped up on your instagram feed. This was the source of the most anxiety for me living in a city, what could I be doing instead of sitting on my couch curled up with my husband. Which is something I greatly enjoy doing, but someone just posted about a flea market in Cap Hill, and that new movie I wanted to see (or like semi wanted to see, or everyone says I should see) just came out. Or I know that the jazz group is putting on swing dancing lessons tonight, and I have always wanted to learn to swing dance. Or something as simple as I haven’t posted a good beer drinking picture on the instagram lately I should probably go check out a new brewery.

I always wanted to keep up with the pace of everyone around me, I wanted to be doing something just as cool, just to prove that I could. I didn’t even notice this was the source of my anxiety until it was eliminated from my life. Like most of the people in my generation the constant assault of instagram, Facebook, snapchat posts had simply become my normal.

And since I didn’t have very many friends I was constantly forcing my husband to do all of these things with me and even though I didn’t think this was causing me anxiety but here Except for the fact that the first weekend my friends in the PNW all did something together without me, I panicked to the point of literally making Mr. get in the car with me and just drive. . literally just drive so I wouldn’t be at the house. But I wasn’t stressed at all right? Here, I am not even a month later just realizing that that is exactly what it was doing, I wasn’t happy or excited for my friends, I would hit like on all of their posts and comment how cute they looked doing XYZ, but secretly I was wishing they would have invited me, or that I would have been somewhere even cooler.

Last month when we moved to the mountains I feared the fear of missing out for the first time cognitively  I worried about the concerts I would miss being in the middle of nowhere the nights of eating out at my favorite restaurants I wouldn’t get to do anymore. But here I am feeling the most content in my adult life

Here in our mountain town there are now raging parties happening on Friday night, there are no spur of the moment pop ups happening  in downtown. You don’t have to worry about that new movie because no one else has seen it either. But you can count on being invited to the all town broom hockey on Monday night, and you can probably count on watching the Bachelor with the ladies. You may not know everyone in the town very well but you can ensure that they all have a fairly similar life that you do.  And that when there is something going on you will know. I cannot be attached to my phone at all times, because it only works in the wifi, at my house! so I don’t need to look at what everyone else is posting during my lunch break or worry about making sure I post something every time I do something cool. I can focus on God, and life and the people around me. I can engage in conversations without any worry of phone interruptions I can meet new people because I am not too concerned with what the old people are doing. I can actually connect to the world around me.

It has been the most scary and freeing part of living here so far, the ability to immerse myself in the beauty around me the people, the mountains, the living where I can count the stars. I can enjoy life without any FOMO, and that has made all the difference.

-Rae

Out Here!

My new backyard– kind of!hume1

I was born for the city, I grew up dreaming of the smell of the subways and the cigarette smoke of New York. I longed to be lost in a city with millions of people moving around me where none of them knew my name.

See I grew up in a town where EVERYONE knew your name. . .and if they didn’t know my name they sure knew the color of my skin, I was the only black girl in within the town limits. There was one black guy and that was it. There was no such thing as anominity where I grew up. One grocery store, a post office and two bars sure, but wherever you spent your evenings everyone was sure to know about it, and that was before the days of Facebook check-ins and live instagram updates of your whereabouts.

So how in the world at 25 did I end up in a town where there isn’t even 1 bar. Well really it probably has more to do with WHO I did it with rather than How I ended up here, but there are a few hows’ to go in there too. So let’s go through a few of the how’s, the big who and then there where is out here even.

How #1) Growing up I never dreamed I would stay in Colorado my whole life, in all honesty I thought I would move to New York right out of high school go to College there and that would be that. But that was before I understood money and how MUCH money it would take to go to out of state college. That was also before I realized that my Mom was a badass and who would want to move that far away from her. She was the reason I changed my mind about college a month before it started so that I wouldn’t even be 5 hours away I would be closer to 45 minutes away, but that decision shaped the rest of my life so once again, Thank you Mom.

How #2) I never really went to church growing up, not that people didn’t try bringing me, I can remember friends inviting me countless times and I would almost always go with them but I always just felt like the outsider. I felt like these people were just trying to “Save” me to do some good deed but I never felt like I could truly be myself. That’s not to say I didn’t believe in God, I just didn’t believe I needed the church in order to have a relationship with him. (This is something I have found out is much more common than I knew) However my senior year of college I ended up at a church that just felt like home, I was finally able to open my ears and probably my heart to see that there was good in having a community to share this with. Why church is important will come into play once we get to the WHERE I am.

How #3) All of my friends moved away.

That one is pretty self explanatory, no one ever explains to you how truly difficult it is to make true friends after College. I don’t think it helped any that during college I met my soulmates (because our friends are our soul mates of course, Thanks Sex and the City) It was like my ability to make friends was broken in Denver, I couldn’t get past the friends that were supposed to be there but weren’t. And when I did feel like I truly tried to make friends to join a community centered around church I just ended up getting hurt over and over again by realizing I was not someone they actually wanted to hang out with outside of our designated times, right up until the week we moved away. And everyone needs friends right?

Who) Of course it is for a boy, isn’t that why all (straight, cis gender) women do anything truly. I have done countless stupid things for boys, driving my car through a snowstorm and subsequently crashing it into a ditch, quitting my job, skipping school you name it. However this boy or should I say man I guess once you get married he is probably a man right? Has only ever led me to things that will better myself things that will make me grow as an individual and as the wife half to our marriage. He has supported me through grad school, my first years as a teacher in an urban school teaching children with significant special needs. And now, now it was my time to support him in a career move we couldn’t pass up, it didn’t hurt that it would also led me to leaving Colorado, reference How #1.

Where) So where in the world did this city girl end up, right smack dab inside the Sequoia National Forest, in the smallest town I have been in where every one waves hello and stops to check in on you. And where we unloaded a 16 foot moving truck in under and hour because people just wanted to help. This is a place that is so full of Church and Full of Jesus that the How #2 is really important and a place I truly believe I will grow as a wife, person, teacher and in my spiritual understanding of community and hopefully make a few friends.

I am going into 2017 in a completely new place where I don’t know anyone so I figured what  a better place or time to have a few commitments– 1. Be more truly open dive into whatever is around me. 2. Strive to be a “Shannon” – to share my heart and be so loving to people that it is contagious. 3. Put effort into my relationships.

So here I hope to share my life with you while I am out here. Here are My Years Out Here

– Rae