Friday, March 27, 2015

Keep Dancing

*Please note before you read this that this post contains far more swearing than is normal for me. Just thought I'd let you know.*

This is rough.

Breathe, Charity.


Here we go.

Yesterday, 4am-ish Pacific Time, my Abuela left us to go Home.

Keep breathing.


Obviously, I'm undergoing all the standard emotions: sadness, frustration, then the second-hand anger. All of them. I'm not going to write much about what I'm feeling really because you can probably guess and that doesn't really seem to serve a purpose.

But I am going to write about her.

The thing about my Abuela was that she took whatever life handed her and she fucking dealt with it. She didn't mourn and she didn't complain. She got off her ass and she went to work and she handled things and she made people laugh and she kept on dancing.

That was the thing about her, she just kept dancing.

I could honestly write for decades about who she was and what our relationship was like. She was kind, she was loving, we were real with each other. But I have no doubt that most of the poetry and prose that I will pen in the years to come will have her tucked neatly between the pages someplace.

I wrote once about how most of the life lessons she taught me had to do with dancing in some way (my favorite being "life is too short to dance with ugly men"). And I really think that was significant. She was always telling me stories about how she loved to go dancing, she loved to wear high heels. When we were younger we would always click on the radio and tramp about the kitchen. I'm certain that's why kitchen dance parties make up such a crucial part of my existence. One time there was an earthquake and while my aunt did the sensible thing and dove under the table, sensible was not really a part of Abuela's DNA.

"I feel the earth move under my feet . . ." She sang the popular tune while spinning around the kitchen. That's just who she was. She was life. She was joy.

Like I said, I'm sad. No shit, right? But I also know that she would smack me in the face with a slipper if she knew that I was being sad and not learning and growing and rejoicing in her memory instead.

So I'm not going to wear black until I don't feel sad anymore. She was shades of colors the world isn't even ready to witness yet. I cannot dishonor her memory by mourning her. Oh no, she was not a mourner. She was a warrior and a celebrator. Her blood is in my veins. I am those things too.

The last gift she ever gave me was something of hers that I had always admired - a flamenco dancer doll. That doll fascinated me since I was a little girl. And a few Christmases ago, she sent it to me.

I think that's significant. That last token I have of her is a Spanish dancer in a red dress.

It'll probably be a while before I genuinely feel okay.

But if there's one thing that I learned from Abuela, it's that I need to keep dancing.

Life is sure one hell of a lot better when you do.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Not Going Anywhere

Oh, Mondays. No other day is so greatly loathed by the general populous as thee. So like Papa to choose 6:30am on a Monday to teach me a major life lesson.

Since I left, a lot of my relationships with people have fizzled out. This doesn't really bother me much, I expected such a thing when I was getting ready to go. Some relationships just can't withstand distance and that's okay. You can't be "friends forever" with everybody; it's best to just learn what you can from them while they're there and move on when they're not.

That lesson in itself took a while for me to understand and even longer to be okay with. But now I am. And since I've lived in Germany, I have had many opportunities to put it to use. Some of the people I've drifted from were people that I used to be really close with - they were on the list of relationships that I genuinely thought were going to be able to last. Obviously my judgement isn't always the best.

I've been learning to let them go, learning to move on, learning to be okay even without them by my side. This weekend I breathed a sigh of relief under the knowledge that I am actually really okay without them in my life.

But this morning, at around 6am, thoughts of them came into my head that were stressing me out and I wasn't sure what was going on. Naturally, I asked Papa.

"You have learned to let them go in the sense that you are okay not being with them now. You must now let them go in the sense that they may very well never come back."

That revelation hit my like a sucker punch to the gut and I had to grip the edge of the kitchen counter to make sure that I remained on my feet.

See, relationships - and people in general - are organic, always changing, always moving. Just because I said goodbye to someone six months ago doesn't mean that we won't start over again five years into the future. I've been living life since I moved here under that knowledge - that nothing is permanent, not hellos or even goodbyes. We may very well find ourselves back doing life with people who we thought we had lost somewhere down the road. Nothing is for sure.

So yes, I had let these people go with the idea in the back of my head that I was just going to run into them again, whether that was when my season in Europe has run its course or years from now at a mutual friend's wedding. I hadn't even considered the fact that I might not.

Realizing this, I immediately became plagued with symptoms of anxiety - my heart rate picking up pace, my breathing becoming more rapid, I felt that sick knot you get in your chest before you have to give an oral presentation or confront somebody about a mistake they have made. Stress was making my head hurt, my teeth were chattering, my hands began shaking. Making lunch for the boys to take to school this morning, I found myself in the middle of a panic attack.

Never in my life have I suffered from anxiety, not enough that I couldn't just power through and be okay. This was a new experience for me, and it was terrifying.

"Charity, look up."

I did, out the window into the street, and I noticed that the light reflecting on the house across from mine had changed its shade. It was glowing pink.

I grabbed a cup of coffee - really only to warm my hands - and I slipped on my shoes and I stepped out the front door and I sighed.

The sky had been painted.

I took a couple pictures before Papa told me to just relax and watch. And as I did, He spoke again.

"You're going to be okay, alright? You really are. I know that this sucks right now. Trust me, I've been in your shoes. But I care about you, Beloved. See what I did? You don't need to worry. You're going to be just fine."

Anxiety melted, and I stepped back inside to finish making sure that the children got off to school okay. They did, and now here I am, a new sense of peace instilled within my heart.

People come and they go. That's life, and it's best that we not live in ignorance of that fact. But there is One who isn't going anywhere. And He will gleefully splash a couple of watercolors onto the horizon or send a sweet bird to the tree outside our window to remind us that even when our hearts are hurting, we still know how to sing.

Life isn't all peaches, and I shan't be so naive as to pretend or to think otherwise. But I have a divine Friend who genuinely cares about my happiness. And things can't really get much better than that.

Mondays aren't all bad, Kids. If anything, they're a fresh start, a chance to begin anew and learn great things. Spend some time with somebody you love today. And make sure you whisper a thank you to the One who's not going anywhere.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


As of yesterday I am two months in to my grand adventure and honestly, things just keep getting better.

Today I played some music and FaceTimed my person, Monica. Then I built a couch fort with two of my boys and played with them for a while. After Nan came to take the little one to the playground, I worked on my German lesson and helped the oldest one work on his French lesson. Then I built a slingshot for the boys to play with, we had pizza for dinner, and now I write and relax and maybe have a Skype date or two before I go to bed at a completely reasonable hour.

This life feels too good to be real.

I think part of me has just been waiting for something to go wrong. That's been the general pattern of things, at least. Life goes great and turns into something amazing and then one area crashes and burns and drags the rest down with it. I'm sure most of you know what I'm talking about. We begin to live in fear, refusing to allow ourselves to get too happy, believing that at some point our happiness will just be taken away. But we don't need to live life that way.

The pastor at my church in Colorado told us about his mother's amazing cooking. He said that she makes the most amazing ribs in the universe and everyone who had tried them could attest to that. He described her process, how she cooked them for hours and every half hour or so she would pull them out and brush them in more sauce than seemed necessary.

"Mom, they're already dripping with this barbecue sauce, I think that's enough."

"Nope, just a little bit more."

This is similar to the way that Papa douses blessing upon us.

Subconsciously, I think a lot of us believe that we must work in order to be rewarded. And don't get me wrong, that is undoubtedly true. God loves to bless us when we do work for His kingdom. But He doesn't need an excuse to give us great things.

The Word says to delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. I really and truly believe this. I have seen first-hand over the course of the 2015 year just how real this truth is. Seek His face and He lavishes His grace upon you. He doesn't need a reason besides the fact that He loves you.

I chase Him first. And because of that, I can now be happy even when I am sick or lonely or stressed. My joy stems from nothing but the fact that He is. And now nothing can ever take it away from me.

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