not only, but also

the existential crisis i was kind of vague about in previous posts was regarding my work. i’m so dramatic. it’s amazing what a few weeks of perspective can achieve. even in these several days, i can look back and see where perseverance and vulnerability to change has gotten me over a hurdle into the centered environment i have longed for myself. what i’ve tried to articulate in previous posts is that i was passionate about my last job. i felt important. those brands resonated with me, because i took ownership and responsibility of all i could. i value the people i worked beside every day. 

for five years i had the same bosses. for five years i had the same career responsibilities. for five years i had the same mental projections about the future based on those essentials. again, i’m framing this very dramatically. i sought the ends to all of these things. even though i still get to do some part-time work with my old company, i can’t be as immersed i once was. for me, when i transition into a new role, i’m all in. my mind begins to soak in and soak up. i start noticing the world from that perspective, and the old point of view fades. it’s still there somewhere. it’s just not in the forefront. 

to be real and raw, it all just happened fast. i knew my marriage was ending far before papers were filed. we both did. that’s how we’re able to be friends now and raise our daughter together. but right after i filed, i decided i was moving to a new, clear space. and to a school zone for V’s future. then, i felt a prompting to look for jobs. i applied for two. i got called for this one, and i prayed for a specific offer. i told my mom if i got that, i was accepting it. and here we are.

that kind of faith leaves room for doubt, and it got to me for weeks. i picked up and left a lot of comfortable knowledge and command behind. for weeks, i only saw my parents and vayda. i didn’t even really tell them about work because i was too tired to articulate what i was learning. we finally got to the week before i moved and packed up the whole house, my mom, dad, and grandma. that was the turning point for me. it felt so light to give away all that burdened me, organizing it beautifully into a place that is mine and Vayda’s only. without realizing it, i was performing all my tasks with my own flair at work and feeling like a team member. i had gotten through a big event and two grants while maintaining my marketing functions. 

i was doubting myself in certain moments, but ultimately i knew in my core that my belief in myself and my values is what landed me in this position. in the past month since moving and having this realization, i am overcome with more peace than ever. i wasn’t suffering in unrest before. i was simply enjoying solitude while i meditated on the right direction for my life. but now that i have this peace, i find my productivity has increased tremendously, and i attract great opportunities in areas that i desire. i have several commissioned painting projects in my queue which brings my heart so much joy. i have graphic design clients i work on in my free time.

and i simply love my career. my job with the agency is something i am passionate about. it’s fast paced, i design all day, write grants, talk to the press–there is always something going on. it’s something that makes me proud. i can visualize a future now that makes me prouder than anything i previously imagined. 

wanting for nothing feels excellent. blessed is really all i can say about my life.

fortress ’round my heart

“[Your eyes so full of wonder]
I have crossed the horizon to find you
[Your heart, an innocent warrior]
I know your name
[There’s a task for you]
They have stolen the heart from inside you
[My dearest one]
But this does not define you
[And your deep thoughts]
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.”

it’s clear my heart is completely vulnerable when i cry tears of solidarity with the monster/hero *spoiler* at the pivotal moment in Moana (lyrics to song quoted above).  i spent a couple of weeks on my parents’ couch in November. i’d been on my own for eight years, and it was the most depressed i’d felt in a while. i had the option to sleep in my old bedroom, but i couldn’t bring myself to accept the accommodations. my mom got V to sleep even though it was my joy to rock her every night of her life. my world was upside down, and i had turned it that way. i made the decision. there were no surprises. i planned it all to go this way. but i felt like i could barely carry on except to watch tv on the couch. it took me a moment to accept the reality i was creating, because i was creating new for someone else who i want to protect more than even me.

but i made a decision in those weeks that i’ve opted to keep living by. keep moving. sometimes life’s favorable. sometimes life’s miserable. but even if i’m treading water, i’m not drowning. i’ve been barely above water some days. but most always, i have moved forward with optimal outcomes. processing things as they come and allowing myself to move through them in a wise and timely manner has mattered the most.

“are you OK, erin?” i haven’t known what to say, so i give really awkward answers. when people ask me that, i really appreciate it. they really inflect certain parts of the question to let me know they’re inquiring about my personal life. how do i say in three to four sentences that i have been processing this situation with professional help for over a year now so i feel kind of peaceful and clear now? people think i’m in denial or callous. but, if you saw an inevitable future a long while ago, would you face it and protect yourself, or would you lie down and die in it?

when i wrote my last blog post, i decided to be open about my journey through counseling. it was kind of like i was opening the door to everyone, “hey, something is coming. i am grasping for connection. i am living in the now until now is no longer.” i knew when i started the therapy journey over a year ago i had some big personal choices to make and i couldn’t make them based on my own wisdom and understanding. i had to develop tools and strengths. i had to sort through a lot of emotional and relational chaos. i read endlessly, listened to wise counsel of the experienced, discussed with professionals, talked to Biblical counselors. after the final decision was made in fall, i finally opened up to my best friends, who were totally clueless about my personal life. you know, it’s odd that way. i’m one of those people who claims to be open, light and free, but i have hidden so much darkness and pain over these last five years. depression showed me so much truth and humor about the world, but it isolated me into becoming a pitiful sliver of myself.

through my therapists, i have been able to look at my life over and over through many lenses.

looking things in the face and not making excuses for my actions was troubling, but i have experience with people who blame others for their problems. i refuse to become a bitter person who can’t identify my responsibility in a situation and move past things, making the best of a bad decision.

i learned to accept choices made from the perversion of duty in my mind. i embrace my anger and my darkness. i’m fueled and impassioned by feelings, but i have to abide by reason and balance. pushing those energies toward good makes all the difference for me. i can look inside myself and accept me, even if i don’t like aspects. i aspire to be better. i forced myself to find beauty and healing in the choices i made, even though i acquired a tremendous amount of pain. over time, the emotional pain got to be so much that i became numb without noticing, and that was the worst. i would fearfully wonder if i would feel again, being such a sensitive soul yet so disconnected from the realm of emotions. there were months where the only things that brought sparks of emotional energy to me were my child and hip-hop music (weirdly true).

then, i came through it. over time, the numbness dissolved. i feel it all now. i’m grateful for pain. pain means i’m living. and sometimes my feelings are so raw, i’m like a child expressing them. i don’t inhibit myself much. it’s a double-edged sword. not in a tantrum kind of way, but in the way that i almost wrecked my car last friday as my eyes filled with joyful tears as i stared at the blooming whites of the trees against a perfect pink sunset. sometimes i am so scared i will move back into the old mindset that i throw walls up really hard at people to protect myself. so basically, i’m a very free-feeling hermit. i hid behind a facade and a concept of what i was shamed into being for so many years, i lost myself for a while. that was my choice. i forgive myself for giving into those ideas, and now my life is back in the correct direction. i’m rebuilding.

i am not afraid of love. i believe in love more than ever. my ultimate goal has always been peace and authenticity. before this season. throughout my entire life. getting out of unrest was the goal, and moving toward peace is the vision. positive thinking and clear boundaries are helping me achieve this. i have found forgiveness in myself and everyone and every hurt. i am so thankful to look back and take a calm breath at the end of a difficult season. spring is here with the beginning of a lot of “new.”

i have no regrets, and my mind rests.

i’ll bite

or write, rather.

i’ve been seeing this thing i like where people are posting very stream of consciousness style and it took me back to a time i was reading a lot of faulkner and i am trying it. although i am already struggling in my mind to quit thinking about what audience i’m writing to and what my eventual message is going to be but the purpose of this is just a writing exercise and maybe also an exercise in vulnerability. if we are really being honest, i can never spell excersize correctly on the first try. i may even get crazy and forget some commas and add some s.pontaneo’us punct!uation, or maybe even write in one big run-on sentence to free myself of the ongoing grammar critique inside of me but anyway, i digress. i have not written in a while on my blog. i will visit my website and think about all the topics i might be able to conjure up a few paragraphs about. but then i wander away in thought thinking that wouldn’t even seem authentic in an age where everyone has a blog and is trying to be as raw, as fashionable, as healthy, as mommerific, as artsy, as creative, as barf me barf me barf me this is exactly why i cannot write about anything quite much at all because all the ideas are taken and how am i even unique? even this little exercize seems overly done “hey look at me i’m different…?”but really the reason i did pop in because i do think noting one’s thoughts is important. sometimes it seems a little weird posting a selfie but gosh i have been loving it lately. i remember when there was some intrigue, spontaneity…what is that word i am looking for? resist google. stretch your mind. think hard. keep resisting google. look out the window and don’t think about it for a second. synonyms…fine, i will google it: ANTICIPATION in even seeing your selfies because you were taking them with a disposable camera and even 24-hour pickup was a novelty. so be cynical all i want to about the age of oversharing and noses stuck in phones but it really is a ‘thing” to be experiencing to a certain degree. after all, we are here in this culture and simply by reacting whether participating, criticizing or observing we are creating a very distinct and necessary point of view for posterity. and as for me. me me me me me. i will partake. why not? i regret way more that i didn’t say in the grand scheme of things and john mayer said to say what you need to say and i will listen to pretty much anything that he says in the key of G. so today i am writing as vayda lays here next to me in the bed. lays lies is laying is lying? i never honestly know but at this point i am not tabbing over to google. i know, you don’t care about me thinking about my grammatical errors, but that’s about 25% of my waking thoughts so they must be included for sheer intellectual honesty. so we are lyyyyyyying here and i feel bad that my baby doesn’t sleep in her own bed. that she has only slept in the beautiful babys dream crib my mom bought her for an hour and fifteen minutes of her whole life. thank goodness its crib to college because i could have bigger things to worry about i mean really you can figuratively spit on me that i am actually worrying about where my child sleeps because she is sleeping and there i go judging myself for caring about the pettiness of my life because it really is an easy, good one and no one cares except you. but anyway i care and i pay for this website and when i started it ten years ago it was just a place to pour my thoughts into an anonymous black hole of eyes that hear with different ears that may never even tell me they see me but i find comfort in knowing they’re around. it’s like writing a letter that drowns in a bottle or a thousand notes and poems and words in a box about you that you or no one will ever completely decipher correctly. see, i enjoy laying here next to vayda every time she naps. i do need a night a week that i don’t go to bed at nine o’clock p.m. but on nights like last night when i sleep ’til 7a.m. and accidentally fall back asleep until noon, i’m able to think in complete quiet besides the soft hum of the fan and the choir of summer birds chirping just behind the bricks that surround us. i’m able to think and reflect and connect instances from today with memories from earlier today or last year or two decades ago if it’s a really lucky day and if i can’t connect them and they seem slightly notable i can record them to be redeemed at a time when i need them. and that is beautiful – that incredibly existential moment when something you’ve kept inside for days, weeks, years all the sudden comes to fruition and makes all the sense it never seemed to could before. all these stories and moments that are individually mine, those are my treasures comma splice. not this blog or your blog that’s popular for a minute or has a lot of followers because of your theme that’s cool and all but it’s mostly about you about me about us our connections our moments our memories and how other people share and relate. so i lie here with vayda gazing out the window thinking about how bright this life really is. how the most ear-piercing noise in this room is your breath moving in and out of your nose in the most peaceful utterly heartmelting way and how i know this moment is fleeting by as i waste time to type some my-mother-is-a-fishy brain vomit as mr. davis coined it, i suppose. but how could i not take just a couple of minutes to be silly and remember the nuances of such a seemingly insignificant moment in the neverending hours inside our familiar four walls? see everything is a circle to me and i look at this circular A monogram that hangs from our window and creates this beautiful monochromatic thing that i stare at as i wonder and doze and begin to dream, probably because it’s all black and white as they say dreams are but i swear i dream in colortechnicolor and everything is a circle. one big circle we all rotate on and our cycles of moods our cycles of habits social circles (need i go on with illustrations) and an astute observer can pick up on them all just by listening to stories and possessing the proper amount of empathy. and i hula hoop in my circle and i can move and work to make my circle bigger and hold maybe your circle inside my circle. i would do that for you, or at least move my circle to rotate at just the right axis that our circles often overlap or maybe we miraculously mirror each other in size and shape and maybe we warp the same way for a time or forever or orbit apart accidentally or excruciatingly but that is just life. if design govern in a thing so small, or could robert frost be right in proposing all those white things sitting there so perfectly kept for the ultimate plot? i didnt even have to google that because it’s one of my favorites other than the discerning eye by emily and everything by ee cummings of course i love writing like this because segueways aren’t necessary how freeing how nonsequitor i see why the teenagers aren’t using punctuation now.  see, i’d write more letters like i used to but mama always told me never to write something down unless you’re prepared for someone to keep it forever. so i end up doing this dance where sometimes i only keep it all in my mind and don’t even write in my journal but what’s the point of being so restrained? why not say something stupid on facebook or share a little meaningless selfie or create something i’m not totally sure i’d even qualify as art? why not? i guess in the end there is a great balance found in doing that dance. to find the great charm, the great interesting mystery in waltzing between vulnerability and restraint but then i guess when i listen to the hamilton soundtrack when v is playing i get really excited to share even this without reading it three times in a row and correcting typos or expounding upon sentences that may have incomplete thought. i will post it just the way it is and pretend i am the girl from awkward. on mtv i wish that show wasnt over because i watched every episode and vayda didnt wake up this whole time

OK, and i know for sure it is OK not being rude all caps but grammatically correct it is OK not o.k. or O.K. or okay or Okay, but OK i did read it over once and i didn’t take anything out but i really wanted to backspace the word comma slice since it isn’t a comma splice but i kept it there to enjoy the irony later on when i read this again when i’m bored or old or never

i need rules.

it’s easy to be really involved with a creative idea in the beginning. ultimately a road block appears where the project is avoided. it just isn’t fun anymore or it’s too complicated/time-consuming to complete at the moment.

the most disappointing part is, i rarely pick it back up. and if i do i wait forever to finish it. life has changed gears for a season, and my aim is producing more with my time. producing more of whatever it is in that moment for me. producing an intentional and finished product. one day, it’s a random craft with repurposed bottles. rearranging our den as a playroom for V. the next day, owning a task at work. organizing a junk drawer. designing a gallery wall. i’ve penned lists in my notebooks: projects at home to conquer, and project tracker with goals for work.

in order to be intentional about working through my grandiose list of possible design projects, i have defined some new personal guidelines…or something like that.

1. choose one project from the list only. enjoy thinking about the project in advance and divide the project into clear-cut steps.

take one of my latest piece for example (pictured). i wanted to do something a little different and fun with V’s birth announcements. don’t ask me why, but i had 12 different cards printed that i wanted to collage on a canvas with some sort of handpainted work included. i started by ordering the cards, obviously, and picked out canvases from my stockpile to use. then i took time to envision the piece and imagine the arrangement, colors and tools i would use. after planning out the timeline, i felt confident and excited about my upcoming craft.

Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.
Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.
Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.
Canvas with paper cards, acrylic paint and modge podge.

2. house must be clean and all work-related tasks completed before i start to art.

my OCD mind will wander to what’s unfinished or undone, and then I’ll inevitably be juggling 15 chores with my designated project. making sure things are in the order before i step into my realm of peace with the piece.

3. communicate with the art.

quite possibly the lamest way to put it, but the most enjoyable part of any creation for me. it sounds nuts (and maybe it is). for years i have pondered God as an artist and how He must delight in the artform of nature, space and humanity across decades and dimensions. could you imagine…? i don’t [think i] have a god complex, but i appreciate the idea of imagining my blank canvas as a creation i’m breathing life into as i work.  so, i enjoy “getting weird” while i paint. fluid patterns and strokes that follow the imperfections of a specific tool. mixing colors to massage their best pigments and making sure they feel good on the canvas. that no stroke or pen mark feels completely awkward unless agreed upon between me and the brush. call me crazy, but those are my favorite pieces. they get the most of me in them.

4. let the stuff sit out.

the house is clean, so i intentionally leave my craft necessities out in a designated, but obvious, space until i finish the project. ‘not wanting to drag the supplies out’ can’t be the excuse not to finish. barring a visit from important company, i allow my supplies to get some fresh air mid-project. why not? my living room, my life. and who ever got much done without getting a little messy? (these questions aren’t rhetorical. i have to motivate myself that a little of art supplies gathered by the bookcase and gallery frames on the table are not the end of my clean house.)

 

so those are my new four rules for myself, the ultimate procrastinator. this lazy artist with all ideas and not much product to show for it lately has been churning out some stuff recently.

the creative process ebbs and flows, of course –but i’m maturing my processes to get the most out of my creative time, at least until Baby V is stealing the paintbrushes out of my hand.

image(which she can totally get away with being this cute.)

 

newspapers

i’m really digging my new job. i’m working for managers who are positive, full of knowledge and willing to share. i have coworkers who have gone above and beyond in lending me help in my first week. i have some experience in what i’m doing, enough to carry principles i’ve learned to where i’m at today. i can smile knowing that my previous career choices have ultimately prepared me for a wonderful today.

i wish i could do justice to a description of how cool the albany herald building is. there are fabulous nooks and crannies with departments hidden away inside. and it’s all tucked away under the remnants of a very vintage department store persona. this organization’s supportive culture and this building’s stunning physique have struck a familiar chord in who i am. finding a match has never felt so good.

everyone says i’m looking happier these days. i guess it’s hard to hide. my life feels like one big sigh of relief. i don’t have to fake feeling confident about myself, my career, my friendships, my art, my community involvement. i hate to sound like a braggart, but i am happy–something i haven’t felt in a while.

i feel like thanking everyone who has taken the time to believe in me. thank you for standing by me as i sacrificed my life to a difficult job for a year and a half. thank you for encouraging me when new opportunities presented their face. and thank you for loving me enough to stick around. for as many sunny day friends have made their exit from my world, i have a group of valuable people who really know how to clutch an umbrella. ultimately, thank you, Lord, for bringing me the people, the job, the talents. i’m more grateful than can be expressed even in the best of cliches.

i gave of myself last year in ways i will never be able to properly pen, and i’d like to believe that now i’m receiving return on my investment. and what a beautiful ROI this is. happy friday.

jesus saves

i will never forget the moment i accepted Christ. when i was at vacation bible school around seven years old,  i wanted this thing i’d been hearing about since birth that seemed to change everyone around me. i had prayed a prayer at a puppet show previously when i was four–a moment i remember vividly–but i just didn’t feel like it had done the job. maybe if i prayed a little harder and got baptised that would do it, i thought.

it didn’t.

i spent many years of my youth ritualistically praying in my room alone and sometimes with my parents and sometimes in the church pew. i was doing everything right. i threw my system of a down cds in the church trash can and i didn’t know any bad words. i read my bible. why couldn’t i feel secure in my salvation? i would waver between frustration and desperation over this, sometimes being able to put it out of my mind and sometimes plagued with obsession. this created a deeply-rooted insecurity in me that still exists today in my weakest and messiest moment. i started researching the subject of eternal security, a subject that–if you know me well, you know–is something i am very passionate about. i often fail to explain why: it helped me understand the truth of salvation and studying it ultimately led to my personal acceptance of Jesus Christ.

my dad gave me a book when i was 19 that would ultimately end up changing my life. “what every christian ought to know: essential truths for growing your faith.” i started reading it on the way to atlanta for the forward conference the summer of 2007. chapters two and three had me feeling so insecure. here i was on a church trip in a church van going to a church conference with my christian friends, and i was feeling scared that i wasn’t really saved again. a familiar feeling that i liked to put out of my mind. i chalked it up to “everyone feels this way.” but in my heart i knew that i was different than these people around me. my heart wasn’t the same. my joy was flawed and inauthentic. i just didn’t understand.

i started getting angrier as the day went on. i was praying for reassurance. i was praying so hard i was sweating. i remember so vividly telling God how angry i was at him for letting me feel this way. “have i not done enough for You to just give me peace about this? i witness to people for You. i act right. i think right. i do everything i know to do.”

and then i got bold. in the middle of the conference as everyone around me was getting their Jesus on, i was frustrated. i couldn’t take it anymore. i looked up at the ceiling as if Jesus was hanging out in the rafters and i said in prayer that if i could not resolve to know Him i was giving up right then. i would rather revoke everything i had ever said of Him, unlearn everything i had every heard of Him than to feel inauthentic and tired in my “relationship” with Him.

i was scared lightening would strike me dead, as i had been a big rituatlistic actor for years in my faith–and knowing that renouncing Christ was the one unforgivable sin.

then something i will never be able to explain happened. it wasn’t a special song, but i will remember it forever. hillsong united started singing “hosanna” and i started feeling something different in my heart. for the first time in my life, the Lord was clearly speaking to me. the Lord said to me in my heart that i had been putting on a show for years. i had been reaching and doing and trying to climb my way to heaven through my actions and that was just silly, impossible, missing the mark. how could i misinterpret His word after hearing it so often for so long? the reason Christ is different from all other religions in society today is because all I have to do is accept Him. He has done the work for me. He died for me–for every failure, every stumble, every sin in my life and in the lives of all who live.

i cannot save myself. i cannot earn salvation. i cannot gain salvation. i can only accept Him. i accepted Christ that night in 2007. it may sound looney and it may not sound like a moment worthy of explaining in such depth–but in that moment i was finally alive in my Spirit, and i was full of joy knowing what it truly meant that Christ had died on the Cross for me.

i have never really shared that moment before here or anywhere. i had so much pride in being saved since i was a child even after that night. i didn’t want to be seen as a “new christian.” man, my pride has always crippled me. i feel it is important to discuss the journey now, because i realized some things today. salvation doesn’t insure a perfect life. it doesn’t mean putting on a face that everything is OK. it’s not black and white. christians are sinners like everyone. they’re hypocrites and failures and a bunch a gray people in a gray world. it’s Christ in Christ-followers who is unblemished, and sometimes Christians don’t display the Lord accurately. sometimes they don’t display Him at all.

i’ve been conflicted for a year and a half. i started hiding from church. i don’t know if i have been to a service three times between today’s easter service and last year’s. at first i was OK. then i became lazy because of work, and then i didn’t want to admit i was struggling with sin. i didn’t want to admit i had gotten into a pit that i couldn’t get out of. i wanted to still be the erin in choir, organizing mission trips, leading bible studies, interning in the youth department. but i made some choices that i felt were inappropriate for those roles (like drinking, bad relationships, etc.), and i bowed out. rather than seeking Godly council, i progressed to a point where my heart was hard and blinded with my earthly choices.

i realized this today. i kept nursery, and hugging on the babies and seeing lovey-dovey couples made me feel so agonizingly helpless and impatient. i often give in to this desire to keep up with everyone around me. i’m too old to hunt easter eggs. i can’t pretend to be a kid this year to avoid feeling bad. i can’t stay out of work like i could ditch on college classes. i’m almost 24. i want to be on my way to starting a family and a life beyond myself. then i remember that when i accepted Christ, i accepted that even though it’s natural for me to be stubborn, impatient and selfish–i’ve got to wait. if i don’t wait on Him and His time and take things into my own hands, my life will be a tornado full of murk and trash like many moments of the past two years have been. if i do wait, i will be rewarded.

He put Philippians 1:6 in my head to comfort me today. though i am not happy, that’s just my circumstances. i have my joy in knowing that the most important thing in my life, my relationship with Christ, is fully intact and growing again. the Lord has placed specific desires and traits within me. i am not letting go of the hopes i know are of Him for i know i can be confident He will fulfill them in His time. it is my job to take in his word, give to others and live a life each day accepting and appreciating what He did for me on the Cross.

it has never been me. it has always been Him. and i’m glad to have that straightened out in my heart again.

i post this in hopes that my vain journey around the bend for quite some time will resonate with someone who reads this and that they will be inspired to put their pride, their confusion, their stubborness, their sin, their sorrow, their circumstances aside and see the simplicity of returning to Christ.

Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”