Sorry I Skipped Your Baby Shower

Dear Friend,

Baby showers make my knees sweat.

It started about five years ago.

I used to adore them. I can still remember the first one I ever attended as a little girl with my mother in Tennessee. Women in beautiful dresses. Tiny sandwiches. Pink watermelon balls. Refreshing beverages.Beautiful ribbons and bows. Itty bitty bits of baby delights.

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And then I grew up and graduated college. Time passed and my friends started having babies. One. Then two. Some four.  First day of kindergarten pics turned into junior high. And more time passed. So I made new friends. Younger friends.

And now my news feed is filled with ultrasounds, baby bumps and adorable announcements like this one.

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How adorable is that?

And I love it. I’m so excited to meet these little people.

I mean, how can you not love these  faces??

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I mean seriously. Bring on the babies!!

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I LOVE being an Aunty.

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But if I’m honest. Baby showers strike a chord deep within me that makes my womb ache.

It’s different from wedding showers. Wedding showers fill me with HOPE. Every new love story I hear reminds me that anything is possible and that Mr. Right could step off the plane tomorrow. (I live on an island)

Baby showers are trickier for me. Sitting there, trying to balance my refreshing beverage and plate of tiny sandwiches, I feel like a fraud. An imposter. It feels like I have nothing to bring to the party. Literally and figuratively. Your life is about to change in ways I will never understand. And I get that. I just don’t know how to fully relate to it.

I tend to leave these festive events feeling overwhelmed by how far behind I am compared to everyone else. With no hope in sight. Time is ticking and the clock might have run out. So when everyone starts doling out advice and telling their funny little stories, I will sit there and begin to do math. If I meet someone tomorrow and we date for two years…and then wait two years…and it all spirals downhill from there.

I mean, I was the girl who started dreaming of marriage and children straight out of the womb. Life didn’t quite go as planned. And as I told my dad after he read  Pushing Through the Lonelies (he was worried about his little girl),  87% of the time, I love my life.

But baby showers touch that part of my soul that is raw and disappointed. And I don’t want to bring that to your party. You deserve to be with women who can celebrate with you, wholeheartedly. And most days I can.

Here’s the crazy part. Please don’t stop inviting me. Because I want to come. And when I RSVP  yes on your adorable invitation, I have dreams of women in beautiful dresses. Tiny sandwiches. Pink watermelon balls. Refreshing beverages.Beautiful ribbons.  Itty bitty bits of baby delights.

It’s just if by chance I “get sick” or “something” comes up, please know that I love you very much and honestly couldn’t be more excited for you. It’s just, I’m having a little trouble being happy for me. And as lame as that is…it’s the truth.

So please forgive me…

And I’ll make it up to you in free babysitting….

Once they’re a toddler. (and I can no longer accidentally break them)

 

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

 

Why I treat celebrities like cats

Okay. In my funny little life I have had the opportunity to meet some slightly famous people.  And to be honest, it has not gone well. To say I get starstruck is an understatement. I get stupid. I once saw our governor at the Maui Mall and froze like a statue.

I have never been breezy. More bumbly with a hint of overeager awkward. SO I have learned to treat celebrities like cats. Meaning, I ignore them and if by chance they decide to come to me at one of our random social encounters, I will be cautiously friendly yet slightly aloof. This does not come natural to me. In the personality scheme of things, I’m a dog. Super friendly, curious and lovable. I’d like to think I’m a yellow lab but I might actually be more of a Cocker-Spaniel.

Tonight I got to celebrate Easter with some dear friends. And because one of them might be a little famous, they invited another slightly famous person and his new wife to eat with us. I’ll be honest. When they walked in the door my heart sank a little. I don’t like these encounters. They make my insecure junior high self come out so I took a deep breath and treated them like cats. It’s harder to ignore people in a crowd of thirteen but I managed it. Until we sat down to eat. And my dear friend sat me next to her, which meant I ended up by this couple. And I thought great. This will not be fun. Awkward Leslie, here she comes.

But you know what? It didn’t happen. Because this guy and his new wife were actually very charming. Down to earth. Honest. Funny. Real. They made me laugh and they got my jokes. I have a tendency to think in song lyrics and movie quotes. And this girl picked up what I was putting down.They were people of substance.  And dinner was easy. Afterwards, I had a lovely chat with this new bride about Young Life, marriage and women in ministry. She is a dynamo with places to go. I love their story and of how they met. And how he knew right away that she was the one and how she begged to differ. And he kept praying and she fell in love. It gave me hope.

So as I walked down the driveway after exiting the party, I wrote a little note to my junior high self.

Dear Junior High Self,

In your life you will meet all kinds of people. Some will make you feel funny, smart and occasionally even beautiful. Find those people and spend time with them. Cultivate those relationships. Even if they aren’t the coolest or most popular people at the party. Because they are fun. They make you laugh. They get you and you make them laugh. Those are your people. They are your tribe.

Other times you will meet people who make you feel small, awkward and occasionally insignificant. Be kind to them but don’t stay long at their table. You will know when you meet them because you will walk away feeling less than and wondering why you don’t measure up. It’s ok. They just aren’t your peeps. Don’t give in to the desire to impress them so that one day they might see that you were actually really cool at your old school. It’s not worth the effort. And it rarely pays off.

Brush off the encounter and go hang out in the treehouse with the kids who speak your language and dance to the same rhythm as you. Because you are fun. And funny. And pretty freaking fantastic. Enjoy who you are. Don’t waste precious time and energy on not your people. Because you have a tribe. And they are worthy

Love, Love, Love

Your Future Self

PS Tonight I learned what a longsnapper is.

One time I played sardines with Bethany Hamilton. This is actually the photo we took.
One time I played sardines with Bethany Hamilton. This is actually the photo we took.

Call me, Maybe?

Five years ago I wrote this:

I love Christmas cards. I tend to keep them on my wall year round at work. They make me smile and bring me so much joy. But I will admit that last year, they also made me wistful. I was in a place where I felt like everyone’s life was moving forward and mine had in fact…gone backwards. And it made me hurt a little. As I opened what felt like my 25th card filled with smiling faces and children who are no longer tiny, an idea occurred to me…why not come up with an awkward single Christmas card that would make people laugh? Something cute and funny but cringe worthy enough that a stranger opening the fridge door at a friends house would do a double take? And so the awkward Christmas card was born.

 

Voi-La! I present to you my life in Awkward Christmas cards.

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My favorite part of the whole process is writing the greeting. It’s a fun way to keep up with friends and family while celebrating what the Lord has done over the past year. You can definitely see my journey towards wholeness as the cards progress. I don’t know how long I will keep them going but they sure are fun to make.
Photo Credits Include: @MartinEason, @jennastrubhar and @JESclaydon

Pushing Through the Lonelies

I don’t know about you but I find there are times in my life where being single is harder than others. In those moments, I feel all these feelings. I can feel sad, wistful, longing, blue, melancholy, possibly hopeless and at times I may even teeter the edge of light despair. After facing them year after year, I finally decided to call them “the lonelies”. As in, man, I sure do have a case of the lonelies today.

 

I find that single life has this ebb and flow kind of like the seasons. Metaphorically speaking when it’s spring, summer and fall, I’m totally fine. But man, when winter hits, things get bleak.  And it’s weird because the lonelies can come out of nowhere. And if I’m not careful they can take me out. Sometimes it’s just a random day where they come on fast and then I bounce back to normal. Other times they can last for weeks if not months and seem to follow me around like a dark grey stormcloud. The nighttime and long weekends tend to be when I am most susceptible. But over time I have developed a few little strategies that help me keep the lonelies in check and keep those winter seasons short and sweet.

 

5 ways to push through the lonelies:

1. Take a break from love songs.

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Love songs are wonderful, magical even. I have so many favorites. I have my go-tos and somedays. But when the lonelies hit, the first thing I do is change what I’m listening to. I remove all romance. A song that in a summer season makes me rock out in the car can reduce me to pitiful tears on a lonely day. So when the lonelies knock at my door, I make sure to only listen to music that leaves the heart strings alone. The radio is tricky because I can be beeboppin along just fine and then some slow song that triggers the right memory and bam…down the rabbit hole I go. So, I make a different choice. One that protects me from the sadness and in turn hopefully gets me outside of myself. A new worship album can work wonders. I keep a playlist of fun platonic tunes that just make me smile. Pandora on Hawaiian or Pink Martini keeps it breezy. And it doesn’t last forever. Once the threat has passed and spring has sprung…love songs lose their power and are ready to be enjoyed once again.

If it is a particularly brutal winter season, I might even cut out love stories all together. Movies and books if they start to trip me up. I just make sure to delete anything from my life that invites the pain and makes the rabbit hole look appealing.

2. Make a Date

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I don’t know about you but when the lonelies hit, I have been known to isolate…some might even say wallow. I pull away, roll around on my couch for evenings ( if not days) on end and think of how happy I would be if I were just married or 10 pounds lighter or whatever it is I’m convinced would break the sadness. To be honest, I sometimes kind of enjoy the misery of the wallowing and can get trapped in a painful cycle. For me, this is when I need to put down the Netflix remote and call someone. I intentionally make a plan to see someone the next day,  usually an early dinner because I’m less likely to punk out because hey, a girl’s gotta eat.  If they are single and on a budget,  I might invite them over and we watch a show or four while one of us catches up on laundry. If they are married with kids and dinner is not an option, we might grab coffee or visit over nap time. I just make sure that there is a plan in place to connect with someone the next day. Otherwise, a lonely day can turn into a lonely month.

True confession: I may or may not have watched 154 episodes of West Wing this summer as tried to avoid dealing with a broken heart.

I think it is easy for single people to assume all our married friends are busy living fabulous lives, making out with their sweethearts 24/7, so we wallow in a bed of loneliness when in reality…our married counterparts often struggle with the same feelings of isolation. Because the lonelies don’t go away once the wedding bells have rung. I remind myself that constantly. I have to learn how to cope and process these feeling now because loneliness is a heart issue that follows you wherever you are. So when the lonelies come a knocking, I have a go-to set of peeps to schedule a date with so that I get outside of my head and start pouring into others. And I rarely bring up “the lonelies”on these outings. The point isn’t to make a date and chat them out. The point is to make a date and do something fun outside of the den of despair that I have created. Mix things up. Get some fresh air. Stop being alone.
3. Get touchy

A Christian counselor that I greatly admire (Karen Johnson) once said that humans need 7 healthy touches a day to thrive. This is definitely true for me. I grew up in a very affectionate family.Lots of hugs, pats and squeezes. It was my normal. Because touch is one of my love languages* getting my daily dose has always come easy. Sometimes to the chagrin of my less touchy roommates (Shout out to Caroline and Andrea for always letting me tuck my toes but not wiggle them while watching TV). Anyway, in a winter season, I make a habit to add a little extra healthy touch into my life. A massage or a pedicure allows for me to meet this need and fill up my love cup so that I’m not looking for connection in way that might leave me wounded.

 

4. Get out and serve

Working the snack bar at the roller rink. Good Times.

It’s really hard to wallow and be sad when you are doing something great for others. Part of living a life of maximum impact is to find something that you enjoy doing that helps others and do it well. In my hardest bouts of the lonelies, I keep myself busy doing things where I don’t have time to think about…myself. Looking back, there have been times when I had something to do 4 or 5 nights  a week. And it was awesome. I can’t keep that pace forever but if you are truly rolling in the blues…sign up to serve (more). Bible studies, youth ministry, homeless shelters, food banks are just a few ways you can improve your serve. Find something that you are passionate about and commit.
5. Pick up a pen and journal

This is by far the best way to beat the blues and usually my last resort. Isn’t that just how it goes.  We know the cure but avoid the medicine? Stubborn and hard hearted. Anyway, if I take the time to journal out my feelings and then turn them into a prayer where I cry out to the Lord…things tend to change pretty quickly. It opens the door to hear from the Lord and get some perspective. When journaling, I try to focus on identifying the lies and replacing them with truth. What lies am I believing in this moment? What is the truth? This is where the Bible really helps in sorting things out. God’s word is the truth and there are so many precious promises starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation.

This process also helps me to not eat my feelings.

Bonus….Get thankful

One night about 6 years ago I was spiraling down the rabbit hole of loneliness and was in the throes of a midnight crying jag. All of a sudden, I felt like I was supposed to make a list of all the things I was thankful for. I took out a pad of post-its and one by one filled up the side of the fridge with everything I was thankful for. Turns out the list was long and I had much to celebrate. That broke the lonelies and turned around my heartache. I left those stickies up until I moved out of that sweet little ohana. They were a constant visual reminder that even though I may not have that relationship I long for, my cup overflows with blessings galore.

Side note…Singleness is not forever. It is a season. We all start single and statistically a lot of us will end there after our spouse passes away. Learning to be content and even joyful whatever my season is a huge part of developing mature faith. One of the lies that tripped up

Eve in the garden was that this is all there is so you better grab hold of whatever pleasure you can…it sells a lot of beer and terrible decisions. When things get hard, I use these little tricks of the trade so that I won’t fall for the lies of the lonelies and end up make choices I regret. Hope this helps.

Love, Love, Love
The Girl Who Lives In My Head