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Life, Loss, & Light

There seems to be a general consensus that 2016 was a heaping pile of poo pellets. If you are not in this majority, save yourself now and don’t let any of us drag you down. However, I would ask that you please allow me a few moments to process through what I’ve been referring to as “my dark year.” 

This is the year I went through extended periods of time forgetting what it felt like to be passionate about something. This is the year I slid down several notches on the scale from extroverted to introverted, which was painful and exhausting. This is the year I mixed myself up a dangerous cocktail of introversion and paralyzing FOMO that left me in a constant state of: “I don’t want to hang out, but I don’t want anyone else to be hanging out either.” This is the year I learned what depression feels like. This is the year I watched my husband writhe in pain in a hospital bed, unable to help him. This is the year I owned my obligation to be an ally in the world, and also the year I felt suffocated by shame in my complacency and privilege. This is the year I let envy and longing cripple me. And in its final moments, this is the year I lost my grandma. 

Four days before her 85th birthday, my grandmother passed away. Given the tone of the rest of the year, it made sense that this would be the final darkness of my 2016, but it also feels odd to think of 2016 as the year we lost her. It feels odd because Alzheimer’s is the kind of greedy thief that doesn’t snatch all at once. He takes, gradually and painfully, over prolonged periods of time. The truest version of Sherrill Ann Aubrey slipped away years ago, but the woman who remained continued to be a delightful shadow of her former self. Throughout it all, she was a human of value, and my mom made sure the world saw her that way. 

The fact that she hadn’t been herself for years doesn’t make her death devoid of sadness. It’s healthy for death to be accompanied by grief and lamenting, and there has certainly been room for that these last few weeks. However, in processing and reflecting on her passing, I have found joy in the thought that she has been reunited with herself. The pieces that had been taken from her, and taken from us, have fallen back into place and she is whole again. I am grateful for that. Death is such a hard thing to wrap our minds around.

But the thing I have strangely come to love about loss is the opportunity to learn about and be inspired by a well completed life. 

I have spent more time this year in reflection and introspection than ever before. This all culminated, in a way, over the last month. This advent season has been more meaningful to me than any other year. The season of advent is all about preparing a dark world for the coming of the light. I got to create the advent service of my dreams this year, and not only did it reacquaint me with passion and affirm my creative spirit, it hit my dark year in the face with light. Those themes of darkness and light kept popping up as we planned for the service, and on one particular day as I was praying for the upcoming event, it suddenly clicked with me how very relatable advent is to my own life and to our current world. My desire to be rid of the darkness of this year had grown desperate by the start of advent, and in that moment of prayer I felt overwhelmed by a promise for light. 

I've been clutching that promise and singing these words to myself every day:

I heard the distant battle drum
The mockingbird spoke in tongue
Longing for the day to come
I set my face, forsook my fears
I saw the city through my tears

The darkness soon will disappear
Be swallowed by the sun

I am coming home

I can feel that new and glorious morn about to break through and I am on the edge of my seat waiting for it. There has been much healing and there is more to come, but I really do feel like the home to which I'm returning is my full self. I’m ready to bid farewell to 2016, but I carry with me many life lessons learned and a sense of self rediscovered. Here’s to 2017, to living a life that exudes inspiration, to pressing on and starting fresh. Much love to you all and may your new year be so very bright.  

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My Leslie Knope Year

My number one New Year's Resolution this year was to live by the motto: What would Leslie Knope do? If you don't watch Parks and Recreation, this basically means that I am trying to go above and beyond in every way that I can. 

So far I've hosted two Leslie Knope inspired parties this year, which I'm pretty proud of. The first was a watch party for the Season 7 premiere. We ate breakfast food, because 

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Here are pics from that night. I'm especially proud of the Councilman Jamm Bars (the pun and the product). 

It was a roller coaster of emotions: joy that the show was back on, devastation that it would be ending soon, food pun induced delight, whip cream sugar highs. There was a lot going on in our minds and our hearts and our bodies.

A few weeks later, I hosted my very own Galentine's day brunch. 

As much fun as this all was, and as hilarious as Leslie Knope is, these are not the reasons why I am striving to live more like her this year.

I don't just love Parks and Recreation because it makes me laugh. I love P&R because it preaches ideals I believe in. 

I want to be like Leslie Knope because she is passionate. She cares so much. She loves so hard. She would do anything for her friends. She would do anything for the things she believes in, and she won't lay down for anything. 

She is a lover and a doer and a believer and a dreamer and a goddess. 

This show makes a point of saying that women are just as important as men. Women can do the things men do, and vice versa. Leslie can be good at hunting and Tom can love to shop. This show says it's okay to be a 30 year old kid at heart. It's okay to disagree with people as long as you listen to them first and treat them with respect. 

I didn't make it my resolution to live like Leslie Knope because I thought it would be a funny thing to say. I genuinely want to live the way she does. I know that she is fictional, but her ideals are real. She may not literally exist in this world, but if we all lived a little bit more like her, we can bring her to life in our own way. 

I know you might think this is a really sappy post to make about a tv show, but every now and then a show comes along that extends beyond the boundaries of my tv screen and bleeds into my life and this is one of those shows. It's special to me, and I'm genuinely sad that it is ending. 

But, the end of Parks and Recreation doesn't change the fact that I am living this year as much like Leslie Knope as possible. 

Happy P&R series finale, world! Tonight I will make myself waffles, sit on my couch and watch the last episode. And I will cry real tears. And I am not embarrassed. 

Here are some of my favorite moments:

Lady Werm Out.

(also this)

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2015, y'all!

Guys. I love New Year's. You've probably heard me say before how much I love new beginnings, fresh starts, new opportunities, all that great stuff. I've always loved the idea of resolutions, but I don't love how unsuccessful they always are. I like to set myself goals to be accomplished throughout the year. Things I can measure and check off on a list. 

This year I decided to make a book of those goals. I got this cute journal for Christmas and I'm officially making it my book of 2015. Inside are 22 things I hope to accomplish by the year's end. These are measurable goals that I will either achieve, or I won't. There really isn't any grey area. In the back there are some pages designated to documenting fun things like who comes over for Friday Night Pizza, what we do for date nights, places we go, and people who come to us. Also, it gave me a chance to use my stamps. I love my stamps. 

In addition to all this, I have one overarching resolution:

Live by the motto: "what would Leslie Knope do?"

I'll be writing more about that later. If you don't know who Leslie Knope is, now is the time to look her up. Spoiler alert: she is fictional. And amazing.

I'm so pumped about 2015. I'm excited about the goals I set, and the adventures that I know not of yet. It's going to be a good year!

Lady Werm Out.

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The Should, The Bad, and The Ugly

If you read this post, you know there are certain things that Werm and I intentionally don't say to one another. The other day we added to that list: "I wish you would have..."

Nothing good comes from that statement. In fact, little good ever comes from any -ould word. I should have studied, I wish you could have made it, I would have [   ] if I had known, etc. 

Nothing can undo what has already been done. You can't go back in time and do what you wish you had done. There is no point in berating yourself or someone you love about something they have no power to change now. All you can do is move forward.  

I have generally been an irresponsible person my whole life, specifically in terms of losing things or locking my keys in cars. One time I got home from school and my debit card was just sitting on my driveway. I can remember some very panicked moments looking for a passport or a check or an essay, and my mom (love her to death) always thought it was a good time to say something like, "you really should have put it somewhere safe." I'd be all like, "IS NOW REALLY THE BEST TIME TO TALK ABOUT WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE, BUT DID NOT DO?"

One thing that will always be true until the end of time (unless you live inside the 5th season of Lost or the 3rd Harry Potter book) is that we cannot go back in time. You can never undo what you have already done or do something differently. 

It is futile to live your life in shoulds. In one of Carrie Bradshaw's (I'll try to make that my last semi-topical reference) columns on Sex and the City, she wrote, "Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?" We have this habit of dwelling on what we didn't do, or what we did do but we wish we hadn't (and we do the same thing to the people around us). Life happens in the present, there is hope for the future, but holding onto regret will get you nowhere.

If we sit around and think about what could have happened if we hadn't moved to a new city, or if we had gone to school somewhere else, or stayed in a relationship, or this or that or a million other things, we will never be happy with what our right now looks like. 

Stop smearing your shoulds everywhere and focus on what you do have the power to change. 

Lady Werm Out.

 

Post Script: My 30 days of writing are finished. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that there were a few days where the writing didn't happen. But, for the most part I wrote every day, and I definitely accomplished my goal of making writing into more of a habit. Thanks for tuning in this past month. I plan on posting as frequently from here on out as I have been the last 30 days and I'm excited about where my writing is going! Whoever you are, if you're reading this, you rule.

 

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What I'm Thankful For:

A husband who is just as weird as I am who does goofy things with me like this. Who is so fun all the time and makes me feel beautiful, funny, creative, and deeply loved.

The family that I miss, and the fact that I miss them because it makes me value my time with them even more. 

Friends that feel like family. The ones who live far away but never lose touch, and the ones streets away with whom we spend holidays and life together.

Babies that have opened my heart to a kind of love I never knew I could feel. The practice of taking care of them that gives me the confidence to someday embark on my own journey of motherhood (emphasis: someday).

A community that welcomes us with open arms. For being out in public and running into people we know and love nearly everyday. 

A church that gives us the opportunity to live into our callings. That gives us a platform to share our gifts and puts us around families that open their homes and hearts to us. And the nine freshman girls in the church whom I have the privilege to lead and learn from.

A job where I am constantly encouraged, affirmed, and given the freedom to be creative and the opportunity to make a difference.

Those days where the sun is shining, my windows are open, a good song comes on and I feel like I could really change the world. 

Creativity. And that moment in the middle of a poem where my stomach flips with excitement and pride over what I'm creating. 

Being able to look in the mirror and love the person looking back. 

Making music with friends.

Vision casting with Werm.

Date nights, picnics, walks around the block, bike rides down the Katy Trail.

Friday Night Pizza and the people we share them with. 

The weeks we are so busy having fun we barely see our home, and the days where we never leave it.

Not being able to recall a day where I didn't laugh at least once. 

Inspiration in whatever form it comes. 

And food. I love food SO MUCH. Thank you for being in my life, food. 

 

I lead an amazing life for which I am so thankful. I'm also aware that it isn't enough for me to just be thankful for my blessings without striving to bless others as well. I'm thankful for the people in my life who compel and inspire me to think outside myself. 

I'm thankful for all of you. Thanks for reading. 

Lady Werm Out.

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100% Possibility.

I realized a few years ago that, more than any season itself, I love the time in between seasons. I love the transition. But really, I just love anticipation. I love to be excited about things, to look forward to something. We spend more time in anticipation for things than we do enjoying them. Anticipation is hopeful.

Anticipation is where potential lives.

While we're still looking forward to something, we haven't yet had the chance to ruin or fail at it. Before we go on that first date, we can still hope that person will be the love of our lives. Before we get on stage and start performing, there is still a chance we will get a standing ovation. 

It's the reason I'd rather fill a whole legal pad full of word banks and brainstorms than actually face the blank page. While I'm still imagining up a poem, it has all the potential in the world to be a masterpiece. As soon as I begin writing it, there is a chance I won't produce something I'm proud of. I might not even finish it. This is where anxiety comes in.

Anxiety is at the crossroads of anticipation and fear. 

When we let our excitement and hope about potential success become overshadowed by our fear of failure, it can result in us not following through or even trying in the first place. 

When I ask Werm what should be a simple yes or no question, he likes to answer by saying, "there's a 100% possibility." And as annoying as I sometimes find that response, he isn't wrong. Before we actually try, there is both a 100% possibility of our success and our failure. We have to decide if we're going to let the fear of failure keep us from shooting for the thrill of at least trying.

My high school English teacher is one of my all-time favorite teachers. As much time as I goofed around in those classes, I still remember many of the things she taught me. During sophomore year, we had an ongoing vocab list of commonly misused words. The list included such words as less v. fewer, between v. among, respectful v. respective, and the one I want to focus on today: eager v. anxious. 

Thanks to Mrs. Schaeffer and 10th grade Advanced Communication Arts, I now know that to be eager about something means to look forward to it. It has a positive connotation while anxious has a negative one. To be anxious means to be worried about something. 

When we look upcoming challenges and risks in the face, we have two options. We can be eager- we can choose hope and excitement, or we can be anxious- we can choose fear. We can shy away from trying to do something awesome because it's hard and scary, or we can live in that shiny land of potential and give it everything we've got. 

If you could do anything, be anything, go anywhere, and fear were not a factor, what would you do? Stop letting fear be a factor, and go after it! The risk is worth it. There is a 100% possibility that you will succeed. 

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Be Happy.

I remember where I was when I decided to be happy. It was about 3 years ago, and I had recently started working at Starbucks where I opened 5 days a week. Opening at Starbucks means you get there at 4:30am. I'm pretty sure that is the actual buttcrack of dawn. 

I started working there in August. I also started my senior year of college that August. Not only was it my senior year, but the previous semester I had changed my major. I was basically cramming an entire degree into 3 semesters. I literally purchased 25 books that semester. Hashtag perks of being an english major. 

I was assigned about 300 pages of reading a week and was cranking out papers/short stories left and right. I was working about 30 hours (pretty much ALL IN DARKNESS. SO EARLY). And I was still totally stung by a break up that happened a year ago. I could hear myself complaining all the time. Have you ever felt yourself being so annoying to other people that you were even annoying yourself? 

I was still volunteering with the youth group I had worked for the previous year and I was leaving a bible study early one night so I could go to bed so I could wake up at 4 so I could keep hating my life. I was exhausted and unhappy. I had just finished dumping my woes on someone else and I was pulling out to drive home when it just all kind of washed over me. What am I doing?

I was actually choosing to be unhappy. I was letting all of these things completely weigh me down instead of embracing them. I felt like such a fool, but more than that, the realization of it all made me feel liberated. It's like chains came off me. Chains of unhappiness that I had put myself in. I had this profound realization that my current circumstances were not going to change anytime soon, but my outlook on them could change that very moment. So they did. 

Sometimes at the drive thru I would say, "Welcome to Starwars, what can I get for you today?" to see if anyone would notice. 

Sometimes at the drive thru I would say, "Welcome to Starwars, what can I get for you today?" to see if anyone would notice. 

After that, I learned to love my job (for the most part). I embraced school with gusto, and I made and/or strengthened friendships with people that have become more like my family. I decided to enjoy the stillness of those early mornings before customers flooded in. I watched more sunrises in that year than the rest of my life combined, and they were beautiful. I probably got less sleep in that whole year than I did in the last 3 months, but damn it if it wasn't one of the best years of my life. I wrote this poem that year and in response to my awakening. It's still one of my favorite pieces to perform. 

Circumstances are out of our control. No matter how hard we try, we cannot make life go as we want it to. But we do have the power to recognize all that we have to be grateful for and live a life that rejoices always. I hope you'll make the choice to rejoice. To be happy. To smile. It's a choice only you can make for yourself.

Lady Werm Out

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Dear self. [A guide to creativity.]

Writing every day has gotten more difficult over time. It started out exciting and liberating. Now it sometimes feels like one more thing I have to do in my day. I need to do a better job prioritizing it and helping myself find inspiration. Today, I've decided to write myself a reminder to be better. Not just a reminder, but a checklist. Self, before you sit down to write again do these things:

1. Make some coffee. The warmth, the caffeine, even just the act of drinking from a mug always make you feel creative, self. Don't underestimate that.

2. Get comfortable. It doesn't matter what you look like. It matters that you feel good. You are highly distractible, self. Don't let your comfort level interfere with your creativity.

3. Clear your mind. Forget your schedule, your to-do lists, your current worries. Don't clear everything, but let go of what might get in your way. 

4. Think. What do you want to write about? What are you feeling passionate about or interested in? What thoughts are living inside you that need to break free? Think, and pick something you are really inspired to write about.

5. Follow your process. You don't have to win a staring contest with the ever-terrifying blank page. Get out the ol' legal pad, and go through your creative steps- the ones you teach other people to use. You are not above the steps, self!

  • Pick your topic
  • Write down every possible word that comes to mind when you think about that topic.
  • Pair rhymes, assonance, consonance, synonyms, antonyms, etc.
  • Form your take-away thought. Your bottom line. What do you want to clearly convey?
  • Choose a tone. Will it sound light-hearted? Heavy? Compelling, inspirational, motivational, convicting? 
  • How will it sound? Speed, cadence, rhyme, flow. Listen for its sound even before you have lyrics.
  • Meditate, pray, ponder, etc. over this outline. Breathe it in, then...
  • Go. 

6. Reread what you've written as you go. Keep editing, but don't criticize. Encourage yourself!

Oh, self. You can do this. Creativity doesn't always come when you want it to. And no matter how free-spirited you consider yourself, there is power in practice. Capture sudden inspiration as it comes, but don't be afraid to apply a practical formula to summon it when you haven't felt it in a while. I believe in you! Good luck!

Lady Werm Out.

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The Road to Awesome.

I'm involved in a study right now with 4 of my favorite women in Dallas. The book we're reading is called Becoming Myself, and though that title is ridiculously cheesy, the study is kind of changing my life. Well, it's kind of wrecking my life... but in a good way.

I texted one of the women in it the other night about how I just feel like "such a mess right now." I described it like this: I feel like I've been fine, just fine, for quite some time now. I didn't realize this until recently when I started discovering things about myself that need serious work. Now that I'm aware of what I need to deal with, it feels sometimes like I'm walking around with open wounds. I feel so sensitive to everything. BUT, I believe that working through all of it will take me from being fine to being awesome. I'm on the road to awesome, but the path is bumpy and I'll have to spend some time here and there dipping below fine before I can reach awesome status. 

There have been some moments as I discover these not-so-fun things about myself, that I feel embarrassed. I want to keep all my insecurities and struggles hidden. I want to post pictures of me in the best light with captions about how fabulous my life is. I want to write just the right words that make me look like I have it all together. News flash: I don't. And neither do you.

Why are we so afraid to be transparent? Not every aspect of your life needs to be documented to the world, obvi*. But we're lying to the rest of the human race by only letting ourselves be seen as all fresh and put together. Every woman, every person really, struggles with something or other. Wouldn't it be so much easier to deal with if you felt like you weren't the only one? 

We owe it to ourselves and the people who look up to us to stop pretending. You're not perfect, and that's okay. Be present. Be real. Be transparent. Be honest. 

::Confession::
I crave attention and affirmation. I compare myself to other people. I'm jealous of my friends' friends, and sometimes their talent. I'm insecure about growing out my hair right now. I worry about whether or not people like me. I'm guessing you're with me on at least one of these things. I'm proud of all the good things about me, but I'm not going to pretend anymore that the bad stuff isn't there. Pretending it isn't there doesn't make it go away. I'm changing, healing, growing, learning. I'm trying. That's the best I can do. 

Lady Werm Out

*My computer corrected that to "Obi," as if I'm more likely to be talking about Obi Wan Kenobi in a sentence than use the abbreviation for obviously. I almost inserted this parenthetically into the sentence, but I realized how ironically it defeated the purpose of abbreviating.

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Matrimony.

Last night we sat on a marriage panel for a class of engaged couples at church. Even though I'm proud of my marriage and think it totally rocks, there is still something nerve racking about answering the questions of people about to take the plunge. It actually turned out to be pretty fun and (hopefully) went well. It challenged me to look into our marriage and see what has worked best and maybe what we've learned to avoid. I'm still not (and will never be) claiming to be any sort of expert, but I thought I'd make a list of things we try to do and not do (not in any particular order). Some of this we claim as our original advice, and a lot has come from other people. Disclaimer: The word spouse feels weird and stiff to me, so I'm going to replace it with "boo."

1. Always + positive; Never + negative.
You will not hear us say to each other, "you always" followed by something bad. Not even if you bugged our house. We don't do it, on purpose. Likewise, we don't start sentences with "you never" and insert something we wish the other would do. For instance:
        You always make me laugh // You never make me feel stupid :: good
        You always interrupt me when I'm talking // You never put your clothes away :: bad.
Resorting to the hyperboles of 'always' and 'never' makes your boo feel like they don't measure up. If you want them to do something differently, there are much better ways of asking/discussing it.

2. Have each other's/your relationship's best interests in mind.
Make decisions based off of what will be best for the marriage rather than what is best for you/what you want to do. Consider your boo as often or more often than you do yourself.

3. Trust that your spouse is practicing #2.
It is so hard to genuinely get upset about something that Werm does if I remind myself that he would never intentionally do something to upset me. I believe that he wants what is best for me and for us and that keeps my head cool when I don't fully understand something he does. Trust is about more than infidelity. It's so important that you really believe your boo wants what is best for you. 

4. COMMUNICATE.
Don't spur plans/obligations on your boo willy nilly (unless it's a really awesome surprise which is always okay and highly encouraged). Ask them before you make plans with other people whether they involved both of you or not. If it's something you can't get out of, still make sure to tell your partner in advance. Nobody likes to find out the night of that they have to fly solo all night, or attend some event they have no interest in attending. Having good communication makes me feel cared for.  It's so important to be on the same page about things- and not just regarding the schedule. Share your feelings. Express what you're dealing with or what you're learning. Be clear but loving if you're unhappy about something the other one is/isn't doing.

5. Never stop getting to know each other.
Maybe you could win a game of Know Your Boo, but that doesn't mean you know all you can know about each other. Think of questions to ask one another. What would your perfect day look like? If we got on a plane right now, where would you want to go? What are you afraid of at this moment? It's fun, and you won't be surprised in 5 years when all of a sudden the person you thought you knew is totally different. If you're constantly getting to know each other better, you won't miss out on those changes. 

6. Physical touch is important.
I'm not going to get weird here, don't worry. Physical affection is more than just physical, it's emotional. There have been a handful of times that I've been upset about something Werm and I talked about right before bed. Every fiber of my being wants to face away from him and stew in my anger, but I suck it up and choose to cuddle with him even though I'm upset. My anger melts away almost instantly. There is something about that physical touch that softens my heart. Reaching out to him on a physical level is also a sign that emotionally I am choosing to be his partner rather than remain against him. 

7. Don't say, "I love you, but..."
The conjunction 'but' implies that the second clause in your sentence will actually contradict the first. It puts a condition on your love. I really try not to say it even if it's something as little as "I love you, but I need you to stop asking me questions right now." I would also steer clear of, "I love you even though you..." for the same reasons.

8. Say, "I love you," all the time.
Someday I should count how many times we say this to each other. We say it every time we get off the phone or leave the house. We yell it across our apartment without any prompting. We randomly text just those three words probably every day at some point or another. I know that you can mean it without saying it all the time. But if you love someone, why not tell them as much as you can? I know I like saying it and I really like hearing it.

9. Verbalize Gratitude.
This advice was handed down to us and we use it often. For big things especially, but even for tiny things. Nobody ever gets sick of being thanked. It's really nice to be appreciated. And verbalizing your thankfulness reminds you that you are, in fact, grateful for him/her.

10. Be Active Together.
We go on a bike ride almost every Saturday morning. It's one of our little weekly traditions. We also go to the gym together (sometimes more frequently than others).  

Pretty much sums it up.

11. Be Creative Together.
This has been one of the greatest joys of our marriage. All of my work is creative. My passion lies in being creative. In this way, we are very equally yoked. We challenge each other. Bounce ideas off each other. Create together. And it is the best thing. 

 12. Be Stupid Together.
If you've spent any time around us, it's probably hard for you to picture us being any weirder in private than we are in public. If you think we make a lot of poop jokes in public, you don't want to hear any of our song parodies. There is something so beautiful and fun about being your absolute weirdest and truest self with another person. We make each other laugh all the time just by being complete idiots. We have dance parties. We make up songs (or rewrite them, as I mentioned before). We don't have to filter our thoughts. We can just be our weird selves.  

13. Dream Together. 
Some of our most sacred conversations have come from 8 hour road trips to or from Missouri. We like to talk about places we might live, or what life would be like if we stayed here forever. We talk about what cool names we could give our kids. Spending weeks in Hawaii writing on the beach. Being in a different city every New Year's. Co-writing a children's book or TV show. Not all our dreams will come true, but it's so fun to talk about them. 

14. Surround yourselves with good people.
It's super important to have a strong community. We are blessed with a lot of really sweet friends, two of which tremendously bless us by being our mentors. They have a marriage worth emulating. They speak truth into ours. They constantly point us in the right direction, and I cannot imagine what marriage would be like if we didn't have people like them in our lives. They also make beautiful babies.

Last, but opposite of least:

15. Keep your faith at your center.
Pray individually, pray together. Go to church together. Care about each other's personal spiritual health, and keep your marriage spiritually healthy as well. If you do this, I mean really do it, the bad stuff won't feel so bad. The hard stuff won't be so hard. Your marriage is your ministry and you want to keep it healthy for each other, but also to be an example to other people.

I'm sure there are a million other things I could say, but there are a few off the top of my head. We don't nail them all 100% of the time, but we do our best. 

Lady Werm Out

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This is How I Chipotle.

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Chipotle is one of those experiences I have to do just right. While each individual element is delicious on its own, it's the combination of it all that makes my mouth water at the thought of it. Here's how I do it:

Step One- Order Declaration: Bowl. Always go for the bowl. Buuuuut, fun fact, my friends: you can get your tortilla on the side all hot and steamy and wrapped in foil for no extra cost. Do it next time and thank me later.

Step Two- Brown, White, Black, or Pinto?:  Rice: brown (healthier), beans: black (tastier).

Step Three- MEAT: It has always been my belief that a meal with no meat is just a snack, so meat is not an option when at Chipotle. My preferred meat is chicken, though I hear the barbacoa is quite tasty.

Step Four- Salsa: It took me a long time to realize that my two least favorite tastes are onion and cilantro. This rules out the medium and corn salsas. However, I am also a big, whiny baby when it comes to spiciness of food. I finally discovered the perfect way to get my salsa: Hot and ON THE SIDE. I can use as much or as little as I want and(!) I can dip it in the chips I will get in step 7.

Step Five- From the cow: Sour cream and cheese: yes and yes, please!

Step Six- The One Healthy Part: Lettuce, but just a little. I mean, I didn't order salad for a reason.

Step Seven- "Any chips or a drink?": Uh, duh and duh. It's all very necessary for maximum meal consumption pleasure. Guacamole, on the other hand: pass. Let's not get too carried away here.

Step Eight- Hydration Station: Fill the cup up about 1/5 of the way with ice, then let the floodgates of the Coke heavens be opened. 

Step Nine- Brown Bag Special: Rip off the top of the chip bag for easy access. Ain't nobody got time to reach their hand all the way in.

Step Ten- Consumption: My favorite way to do this is to rip up my tortilla and make teeny tiny little burrito bites. Then I accompany each of these bites with a chip. When the meat is somehow all gone (which always happens to me), commence dip mode: mix the salsa, rice, sour cream, cheese, and beans together and scoop it up with the chips. Occasionally cleanse your pallet with summadat delicious coke (which will obviously be refilled on the way out to enjoy on the way home).

And there you have it, a foolproof way to enjoy Chipotle. There is no reason for me to have written this except for the fact that I ate it for lunch and I just wanted the world to know how much I love it. Also, now you know what I like from Chipotle if you ever want to bring me some. 

Now it's time for my food coma.

Lady Werm Out. 

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Let There Be [Me].

This past weekend I listened to someone read all of Genesis 1. It's a poem, so naturally I resonated with it. It's one of those things that you don't have to believe to find beauty in it. I wrote in my notebook, "God said, 'Let there be [Allyson], and He saw that it was good.'" I can't stop thinking about it. I feel like it's the remedy I needed to apply to the void I've been trying to fill by seeking affirmation. He made man, and He made woman, and He made me. He made [you], He made [the love of your life], He made [your enemy], and every time He saw that it was good. No matter what we have become, He made us and we were good, and we're never too far gone to be made good again.

Let There Be [Me].

God said, "Let there be [Allyson], and He saw that it was good."
He formed her.
Breathed life into her lifeless form.
He knew she would get excited when it storms
And inspired watching the sunrise
He painted the blue line around her eyes
And He knows that good music makes her cry.
He made her. Notoriously unorganized,
But nevertheless, of His design.

He said, "Let there be [Allyson]."
He knew she would be small but mighty.
That she would love fall and at times be flighty,
But she would learn to be better.
He knew she'd love the seasons for reasons beyond weather.
He made her,
Created her,
Hand painted her.
He gave her a love for harmony,
As in the counter to the melody
And also the kind that keeps the peace
He knew she would like things to be still,
but never boring, never lacking in thrill.

He said, "Let there be [Allyson],"
What He knew she'd lack in elegance
He made up for in eloquence
Laying rhymes on her heart
Words that would be formed into the art
By which she praises Him.
In the image of a creator,
He formed her to create
He gave her a passion to eradicate hate
And to care whether people have food on their plates
He made her, not to be great,
But to do great things.
To let go of the bad,
But to good- always cling.

He said, "Let there be [Allyson].
Let her be strong
Let her be kind
Let her be creative
Let her be mine
Let her be forgiving
Let her be hopeful
Let her be fearless
Let her be helpful
Let her be selfless
Let her be joyful
Let there be [Allyson],"

And He saw that it was good.

 

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Writer's Unblock

I don't like reading blogs full of apologies and self deprecation about how few and far between the writer's posts come, so I'm going to intentionally not do that right here. 

30 days without TV was a breeze, and returning to TV has only made me think that maybe I shouldn't have.

I did love the challenge though. I like to challenge myself. I like to do it in 30 day intervals. It keeps life interesting and keeps me creative. In fact, I've decided to do it again. 

Starting tomorrow, I will spend one hour every day writing. I am a writer, so I should have been making myself do this a loooooooog time ago. If there's one thing I've learned in life, though, it's that there is absolutely nothing to be gained from wishing you "had done" anything. You didn't. You can never stop not being able to change the past, but you have all the power in the world to live differently in the present. Every moment is a choice. 

So here we go, 30 days of writing starting tomorrow. And just to be clear, this is for me. I've spent a lot of time lately caring about how I'm viewed. If people like me, if people are reading what I write, if people think I'm beautiful, if people think I'm funny.

I heard recently that today's generation is not necessarily narcissistic, as many have argued. We don't post selfies and ask to be rated because we are so sure of our beauty and worth. In fact, it is the opposite. This world is full of young people desperate for affirmation, and I have found that I am one of them. I check my like counts (my stomach hurts at the absurdity of that sentence). I check how many people read everything I post. I hold onto every compliment I receive for wearing my hair a new way. But I don't want it to be that way.

I don't want this to be that way. I believe in my gifts. I believe wholeheartedly that creativity is holy, so for the next 30 days my desk will be my sanctuary. You are welcome to follow what I write, but I am not writing to try to convince the world of how good I am at writing. I will write for a love of writing, and when that is not the case, I will write because I must. Because practice makes better, if nothing else. 

Lady Werm Out.

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Halfway!

It's already been 15 days. Not "ughhh I still have 15 days left!" No. It's already been 15 days. That's how things are going.

It hasn't really been that hard.

Granted, things like cooking and doing laundry and addressing endless envelopes are downright daunting to me without my trusty Netflix to follow me from room to room thanks to my plethora of technically advanced devices (it's not that many). But those are the only times I've really missed it. 

So far I have finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I have about 150 pages left in Order of the Phoenix- which, let's all be honest, is the hardest HP book to get through- and I'm also halfway through Bold as Love by Bob Roberts Jr and The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse by Michael Gungor. I don't usually make a habit of reading 3 books at once, but they all serve different purposes in my life so it's working. Also, to be clear, I am rereading HP. Not a first-timer here. 

I have practiced a lot of piano and guitar, and I actually wrote a song (this is not to brag about how cool I am, but to show how much I'm able to do when I redirect my freetime [and also I am pretty cool {and also you can't hear the song}]). I've done a lot of bike riding, running, walk-taking, and playing with babies (which I basically already did at least every day). 

My apartment is soooooooo clean. All. The. Time. Dishes are always washed right away. I straighten up before bed. I put clothes where they belong after I've worn them (or tried them on and decided not to wear them. Which happens approx 100 times per week). 

Don't get me wrong, I still have pangs of longing to know how things are going with Danny and Mindy. I actually had to unfollow Mindy Kaling from social media because it was too difficult. I, having successfully made it through 7 seasons of Grey's before going on this hiatus, find myself wondering if things are going to work out with Callie and Arizona. I want to live tweet the crap out of everything Nick Miller says. As of tomorrow, between recently added series and new seasons of shows, Netflix will have 273 episodes of TV waiting for me to watch/rewatch. This does not include the 16 episodes of current seasons that will have aired by my return (and had BETTER BE ON HULU). 

The thing I'm hoping to really take away from this is prioritization. Instead of choosing TV over most other things, I want to make sure I've done all my work, cleaned up after myself, etc. I want to make sure I spend time doing things like music or exercise or just enjoy hanging out with Werm without having to watch something. We got a new couch right before I decided to do this, and we've spent so much time just reading on opposite ends of it. I LOVE IT. 

Life is good. Here's to the next 2 weeks which are full of travel and weddings and overnight babysitting and soaking up fall in all its beauty. I'm going to be having so much fun I won't even miss TV... Right?

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#30TVfreedays

I love TV. That is not a strong enough sentence; TV is kind of my favorite thing. It would not be hard for me to spend an entire day watching TV. In fact, that sounds like an amazing day to me. Let me try to show you just how much I truly love it.

I've watched seasons 1-4 of the Office no fewer than 10 times (not hyperbole), and I've seen the entire series at least 4 times. I've done the same thing (to varying degrees) with Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Breaking Bad, Parenthood, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Sex and the City, and more. The people on those shows are my friends. I care about them (probably, no definitely, a little too much). One time, I was so wrapped up in a show that, upon witnessing something happen to one character, I had a thought that I should text one of the other characters about it as if I knew them and they were real. That was a weird moment for me...

Kids spend all school year waiting for summer. I spend all summer waiting for September and the TV premiers that come with it. I've been looking forward to this specific week since May- which makes what I'm about to say even more difficult.

I'm taking a 30 day fast from TV. I need you to understand how big of a deal this is for me.

I mean, I dream about Mindy Kaling on the reg. That is not a normal thing to do.

Here's the thing though. I could spend hours at a time watching TV, so that's exactly what I do. I spend so much time watching TV instead of actually doing anything. So, I'm taking 30 days to challenge myself to explore what life has to offer away from a television screen.

I'm not excited about missing the premier of at least 5 shows this week, not to mention American Ninja Warrior: USA v. World. Nor am I excited about not being able to binge watch  ALL OF GILMORE GIRLS which is being released to Netflix in the next few weeks. 

I am, however, very excited about the following goals I am setting for this 30 day period.  
-Finish 5 books. 
-Do something active every day.
-Make music every day.
-Write, and write, and write, and write.
-Keep my house clean. All the time. 
-Go on adventures!

I know this will eventual feel more rewarding than it does sacrificial, and I'm eager for what's in store! You can follow my progress on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #30TVfreedays.

Bye, TV. See you on October 15th.  

p.s. I beg you not to discuss with me new episodes of any of the following shows: Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, The Mindy Project, New Girl, and Walking Dead. 

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My July.

These last 3 weeks have been incredible. Let me just start off with that. Perhaps more than any other time in my life, I felt so unequivocally sure that I was doing exactly what I was created to do. Not only do I mean this for the poetry, but also the ministry taking place, and especially the constant community in which I lived. 

As a little refresher, for 2 weeks I served at Texas Youth Academy in Georgetown, TX. Over the course of 12 days, I led 5 poetry workshops and collaborated in a time of worship through arts. When I wasn't teaching sessions, I was doing whatever the students were doing: attending lectures, sharing meals, playing frisbee, worshipping, etc.

This past week, I went to Lake Providence, LA on a mission trip with nearly 150 youth. I co-led a roofing site with 12 students, played piano, sang a little and shared spoken word during worship all 6 nights. All 3 of these weeks were hands on from 7am-10/11pm. All three of these weeks were amazing.

Guys, I just can't express how right it felt. I've never felt so completely surrendered to the Spirit leading. I've never felt more in tune with my calling. These last 3 weeks were so far from any sort of regular schedule I keep, but they felt like a glimpse into my future. 

Not only am I certain that this is my calling, but I see more clearly than ever how very real and present the Holy Spirit is in this world and in my life. I walked on water (figuratively, obvi) in ways this past week that I never had before. I fearfully but boldly let go when I knew that the Spirit had better things to say than what I had prepared. I say none of this to boast, but to prove the greater power at work here.

After I walked off stage one night in worship, I sat down in a pew and scribbled some thoughts onto an offering envelope. I wrote about some of things I shared above, and I ended it with this:

"I am truly an instrument of a very real and poetic God."

And that about sums it up.

But, enough about me. The week was fun for many other reasons. I loved leading worship with my sweet friend, Ani, and the rest of the band. I had a blast with all of the other adult leaders, specifically some youth moms on the trip. And as always, I left this week completely in awe of how amazing my life group is. 

I feel like I say this at least once a day, but I also feel like I can't state it enough: I love my life group. I get to work with 10 of the absolute coolest people and I could not be prouder of them. I loved seeing them lead on this trip, even though they were the youngest people on their respective worksites. I can't wait to return to regular schedules in a few weeks because I'm guaranteed at least one night a week to hang out with them. I'm seriously so excited about the next 4 years with these ladies. I can't even think about them graduating or I might start crying.


July, you've been good to me. Thanks for keeping it real.

Lady Werm Out


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TYA

For the past two weeks, I had the privilege of being an artist-in-residence at Texas Youth Academy. As I leave in approximately 8 hours (a mere 29 hours after returning home from TYA), I'm going to keep this brief for now. 

I had an amazing time. I led 5 poetry workshops, collaborated on an incredible time of worship-through-art, played countless hours of frisbee, ran approximately 15 miles, slept approximately 8 hours (hyperbole), and loved every second. 

Someday, I will go into more detail, but today I leave you with a few photos. 

When life slows down (so, perhaps never), I hope to share more about this experience. Now to soak up a few too-short hours in my own bed before another exciting week.

Much love to you all.

Lady Werm Out.

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Bye, Dallas!

Hello, friends! 

Today I leave Dallas for the next 3 weeks (minus one day in the middle where I'll be home. ONE.). Where am I going, you ask? I'll tell you!

For the next 12 days, I will be at Texas Youth Academy in Georgetown, TX. While I'm there, I'll be leading 6 workshops about spoken word poetry and its place in worship. The camp is for rising juniors and seniors in high school who are active in their church and eager to dig deeper. It's 2 weeks long, which is longer than I've ever been at a camp whether as a student or adult. So we'll see how it goes!

Creativity in worship is my jam. That is what my heart longs to do. The opportunity to inspire a bunch of students into creating new and different experiences in worship is something I'm super excited about. I would say, at this exact moment, I am a cocktail made with equal parts excitement, nervousness, and apprehension. I've never done something like this before, and while I believe that it will be awesome, there is also a huge level of uncertainty as I leave my comfort zone and jump into this new world.

I get home Friday night, the 18th, then get to spend Saturday celebrating Foster's 2nd birthday, doing laundry, and squeezing in some quality time with the hubs. Then Sunday morning it's off to Louisiana for a youth mission trip with HPUMC. I'll be leading a worksite, helping lead worship, and performing poetry every night. These trips are crazy, but so wonderful.

It is going to be an exciting 3 weeks! I'm eager to see how the Lord moves in and through me. 

Here are some final photos with my favorites.

"Doing nothing" for the last time in a few weeks.

Live jazz at Klyde Warren Park.

Sleepover!! We managed to sustain two other human life forms overnight, which feels like a pretty big deal to me.

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My Father's Day Card

One time as a child, I remember my siblings and I asking my parents if they would ever get divorced. They said that we didn't need to worry about that, implying that they never would.

My dad went on to say that no matter what my mom could ever do, it wouldn't make him stop loving her. 

That has stuck with me since that moment decades ago.

This is my real life example of unconditional love. I love my dad for teaching me such Christ-like love at such an early age. My dad always had a way of teaching me life lessons in a constructive way. 

Like the time he taught me that lying was wrong. I was in kindergarten. He sat me on his lap and explained it to me in a way that made me want to be good. He compelled me to do right in life. I still think about that conversation, and I can't lie. I think about that conversation and how I still want to make my dad proud.

My dad inspires me to be virtuous and honorable. He is the reason I love to make music. He is the reason I love good music. He pushes me to be my best. He makes me laugh. He makes me want to make other people happy. He taught me to make friends with whoever is near you and be kind to everyone. 

Dad, I love you and I miss you all the time. Thanks for all you've taught me.

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Lost & Found

This weekend I had the incredible privilege of being featured in the Missouri Annual Conference. I wrote a poem called "Lost and Found," and my extremely talented videographer friend, Dexter Evans, turned it into a pretty cool video.

Many of you have asked where you can watch it or how you can share it with others. The video is up on Dexter's website. Just click here, and you'll be watching in no time!

As always, thank you guys so much for your unending support. What an exciting journey this is turning into! 

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