Life Lately–Adventures in the PNW

I’ve sat down and tried to write this post a million times. I don’t know where to begin. 

If you are wondering why I changed the title of my blog page, it’s because a chapter of my life has ended, and a new chapter has begun. Life has brought a new wave of changes, and I’m looking at them through the window of the past and the future. How I got here is complicated, and where I am going is also. I don’t know what is ahead, but I wanted to share with you, my readership, where I have been and what I am planning. Just know, that nothing is for certain these days with me. Everything is about to change. Everything has changed. Life won’t ever be the same. 

Here’s what I mean. In the past few months I have taken the 2,000 mile journey from my home state of Illinois to the state of Oregon. I have picked up every scrap of the life I had in Illinois and carried on the back of my worries. I gathered up all of my courage and my memories and drove and drove and drove. It took me four days, and I battled two blizzards in the mountains. I pushed through every doubt and fear, and have found myself here, in the suburbs of Portland, on a new adventure. 

For years we have felt the pull to move, the tug of an unsatisfied life. I have fought with the depression that closed in on me when I was living in my hometown. There was nothing there for me. I won’t deny the experiences I had, or the life I lived as being a part of me– a necessary part. I met some amazing people, and learned a lot of valuable lessons. There was a lot of good things that happened to me there, and through it all I became a new person. Sometimes when I look back, I don’t remember how I got to where I am, but I know that I am not who I used to be, not the person who used to look in the mirror and wish that she could be more lovable, could be more understanding, and not so full of bitterness and sadness. 

There have been a lot of challenges. Mostly money. We saved up for so many years to finally find this life, to feel that we were able to move to a place we had never visited, so far away from home and everything we ever knew. That’s the funny thing about this, and the great thing too, I guess, is that we don’t know anyone here. We have no family. And that’s what makes this such an adventure. A new  beginning. A start from scratch. 

We quit our jobs for this. We picked up everything we have and decided to throw it at the wind in an effort to find a new life. We know the things we have been promised. The light that is there, and the beauty that comes when you trust, when you have faith in the unknown. 

So here we are–jobless, in a new city. 

My core fears are being challenged. My type A personality is worried about the fact that I have applied to a dozen jobs and heard nothing. I have always gotten quick responses. But I think that this is a test. Do I trust Him enough? I hope I am passing. You may not believe in a god, and that’s okay, but I do. I believe that He has my best interest at heart, and here, here is where He guided me, so I’ll push through all of the doubt and into the light. I can’t be in the dark anymore. I can’t fight to feel something greater than myself. And here, somehow, I already feel at home. 

I may know no one. But there are people here who look at me, curious. 

I may not know what lies ahead. I may be a little afraid, but fear does not mean I lack faith. 

So I push forward, bright with the possibilities my future holds, and open to a world of new beginnings. A fistful of chapters.

I am so excited to share with all of you the adventures that lie ahead, and the things I will find here. Are you ready for the journey? Because I am. 

The repeating dream

Here’s an interesting dream I’ve had off and on for a few years.

I somehow manage to find myself in a bad part of town. It’s dilapidated and broken down, signs on the buildings are sad, and there is a weight all around. There are no one on the streets but some dirty, aggressive men leaning around shouting assaults at either me or the people without faces who are walking around. I try to pick up my pace, to blend in like one of the faceless people. I walk down an alley way. It is narrow. On each side of this pathway there are doors. Each locked up with padlocks, or gates, or they look terrifying. Tonight, I noticed a few of the doors were pathetically decorated with pretty paper or decorations to try to make them look lively. Finally, I enter one the buildings.

As I begin walking around, from apartment to apartment or room to room, I notice that they are dark and dimly lit. They are often dirty. Very dirty. Once I enter the filth I am always floating, because there is so much stuff everywhere that walking is impossible.  I rarely see tenants, but if I do hose that live in these places never talk to me. (I know this is difficult to explain. I’m doing the best I can right now). The places contains a depression and brokenness I can feel and it is extremely heavy in the air. Tonight, I dreamt that there was a “specialist” going around to the apartments discussing to the tenants why they are so sad. (for some reason I can’t decide if I was the specialist or if it was someone else I was observing.) The specialist in my dream began asking the tenant why she was so sad, what happened that parts of her home were closed off from being used. She said that her sister had died there and she was unable to grieve. 

In a different part of this building, I entered someone else’s home. The woman on the chair in the living room was so desperately broken she couldn’t get out of her chair. There was a gruesome fact that I will spare you, but she looked sickly and sad. Just so damn sad. There was a dachshund quietly walking around. The carpet was so disgusting. 

I don’t remember much else of the dream, but there have been different versions in the past. One of them is the same dream, but I don’t remember talking to anyone else, and the homes are always hoarded. I don’t often see people in the dreams. Another version is the same thing, but in a hotel. A rundown hotel and I sometimes hear people in the shower or mulling about, so I hide.  The other involves a house. I never know what it completely looks like but the first part of the dream, it is clean. I think that there are children in other rooms playing, but somehow I find myself in someone’s clean closet, amidst their clothes. I push the clothes aside to find a hidden doorway. It’s big enough for me to crawl into. I do so, and there are levels and levels of undiscovered rooms. They are empty, but there are big windows on the top floors. Some reason, I am afraid that those on the outside will see me. When I go to the basement of this house, I find rooms of hoarded things. I can’t figure out why, but usually my great grandmother is standing at the door way to the basement with me in this part of the dream. When we cleared her house, she had hoarded generations of treasures. She grew up during the great depression and there were times in her life when she wasn’t sure when she was going to eat next. She stands at the top of the stairs with me, and below there are piles and piles of the things she hoarded, broken and covered in filth. I may have ventured down to this part of the dream before, but I am not entirely sure. I don’t remember anything happening after this. 

 

The way grizzly bears are more like fire flies.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what love looks like. And how often that word carries with it the weight of a thousand definitions and reasons and complications. Too often we make love selfish, and wear it on our wrists like a fashion statement, when love is the most beautiful, astounding thing I have ever seen. Someone who is really attempting to live a life full of love–now that is truly a sight to behold, because once you really begin to try to love the way love should really happen, your heart becomes a wellspring. It’s indescribable. 

I just think of the inside of a person who is learning to fight is a nighttime in summer. Within lies all the potential and greatness, floating around as lightening bugs, waiting for the moment they can pour out of their mouth and shine. 

Last night I learned a powerful lesson. It was a difficult lesson, but I knew something was changing inside of me the moment I chose to find peace instead of anger at the position I had been placed in. Let me explain. I was working my job in retail and a woman that has been known to cause trouble in our store came in last night. Generally speaking, she’s downright mean and bitter. Nothing you say will calm her down or make her compliment you. She just gets a rise out of her harshness. I am definitely not one for confrontations. Especially from people I don’t know. Last night, she unloaded on me, big time. Her ranting and raving lasted for quite some time. But something inside of me screamed louder than anger and told me to bite my tongue, stand up for myself a little in a kind manner, and let it go. 

After she left I was kind of overwhelmed. As the minutes ticked on, however, I wasn’t angry, I felt sorry for her. I had seen her in our store before. She looks lonely and miserable. And honestly, as I began to ponder the circumstances for her arrival last night, I began feeling regrettably empathetic towards her plight. 

I have been addicted to watching the show Hoarders for quite a while. I quite enjoy psychology, and comprehending the reasons behind the way people behave when they have had difficult challenges in their life. One of the things that is a common theme in the reason why I have observed people hoarding is their desire to keep people out. They have been repetitively wounded in various ways for so long, that in their desperate attempt to deal with the pain, they hoard stuff that is useless to build barriers between themselves and other people. That at least the objects would love them always, that it would be there when they cried. That happiness could be found in another sack of papers or useless shirts. But no matter what they could somehow manage to find peace in something that couldn’t hurt them. It’s not that they didn’t want people in their life, because honestly most of the time the stars of these shows are so lonely you can see their breaking heart worn in the crooked way they smile. They are just so damn afraid of letting anyone in that could hurt them, that they feel keeping then out is the only way. 

And this is exactly what I felt about this woman last night. It was like she had been wearing the weight of generations of pain and all of these traumatic things that had happened to her in the direction of her step, in the cut of her words, in the bite of her anger. There is one thing I have really learned these past few months, and it is that most of the time, that anger is all a front. It keeps the people out. Anger does a good job of scaring others to stay away. It’s a defense mechanism. It happens when we are afraid to see or deal with what we are capable of inside, when we don’t comprehend that healing can happen. 

When I started thinking about the incident after, all I could do was be humbled by the prospect that she is still in the darkness with a blindfold, feeling around the cave. Something settled on my heart and made me feel stunningly aware that anger was not the appropriate response. Love will bring light. Pray for your enemies. Smile when it’s hard. And for goodness sakes, be brave. Love is never easy, but it’s worth it. I will probably not change her, but she changed me. Even if it was just because she was angry for the millionth time. 

Like I say, there really is beauty in everything you see. 

Until next time,

Rosie

Gathering my walking stick–the continuation of a heartbreaking journey.

I want to take a moment to apologize for my hiatus. Life has been a whirlwind lately. A good one, but a little insane nonetheless. I recently picked up a second job, got promoted there, and am working on working as often as I can to save up money for the next part of my life. 

I’ve had a revelation. One that’s extremely good. For so long my bones have been aching for adventure. My heart has nearly ruptured beneath the weight of dreams that have had the inability to come to fruition. Of childhood desires that have been unable to grow beneath the stunt of life. And now the hand of God has reached out and written “soon” on my soul. I can feel the tension rising as I know the answer to his promises. He does not falter. He does not joke. He is not a liar. I see the next step. 

You see, he promises that He will be a “light unto our path”. Always. What some people fail to realize, however, is that that light only illuminates our next step in life. It does not bring forth the entirety of our life trajectory. We may be propelled to action with that one step. If we knew the complete future of our lives maybe we would be compelled to act differently. And He knows that.

Besides, the benefit to our not knowing the whole plan of our future allows us to remain entirely dependent on Him. There are two types of people–those who see an obstacle and spend the next year crying and worrying about it, attempting to find the right tools to chip away at the obstacle until we are able to tackle it; and those who see the same struggle and rely on the only one who can take that mountain and completely shatter it. I am not saying that always relying on Him is easy. Heck, I’ve had a hell of a time these past few years attempting to understand the direction in which he was leading me. It felt like for so long that he was leading me into the wilderness with nowhere to turn but the quicksand. At some points it has even felt like my ankles have been dragged into that pitfall, and I am slowly being suffocated by a swelling desire to find something to accomplish. I have just felt so damn useless. 

And that’s the truth. 

Useless doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

I just see this whole, vast world with a belly full of aching people and I feel as though my efforts to make a difference are being overlooked. I remind myself daily that we may never know the footprints we leave on someone’s heart when we attempt to continue down the rugged path and inspire others. But yet there is still a longing so deep and so unfulfilled it can only be from my Heavenly Father. 

And that’s when I remind myself that only He can know the desires of my heart–because He placed them there. He formed them deep in my soul the day he formed me in that secret place in my mother’s womb. They say that in heaven a day is like a thousand years. I sometimes wonder how long He had with me to form every facet of my being before He nestled me deep inside my mother and made her life a little better when she discovered she was pregnant. 

So why is it so hard to trust when we know He formed the roadmap eons before we met Him? Because trusting often implies that we know we do not have the answers. We have made trust to look as though it makes us weak. It’s the same reason that strong-willed people sometimes struggle in relationships. If I’m admitting anything here, it’s that sometimes my will gets in the way in life, and it can be hard to combat, especially when I know that the compass is right in front of me, in the form of clasped hands and a mouth full of jumbled prayer words. 

I know this blog entry is long. But tonight, I’m feeling passionate. i’m feeling vibrantly loved. My heart is overflowing with the biggest sense of joy because I know I have been doing the right thing. And my Father is happy for my patience. It feels like it has been centuries. But sometimes He likes to take the forty-year route instead of the week-route because he knows you need the exposure to trials, and he is trying to build your heart up for something bigger than you could know. Patience cannot  be obtained from immediate gratification. The lesson to be learned is through those trials. And sometimes the journey is hard. Mine has been beyond difficult these past few years. 

The other night, however, I felt him tap me on the shoulder and say “It’s your time, you have been patient. You have trusted me.” 

So, I gather my walking stick, because this journey isn’t over yet. A revelation is not the end of the trials I will seek. There will be a lot of uphill climbing from here. Good thing He has hydrated me–refreshed my soul from the weary desert land He knew He needed to guide me through to encounter a spiritual break through. 

I am not perfect, but the longer I remain exposed to the fire, the less it burns, and the more refined I become. 

 

I have risen up from my past, and shine anew

So, today I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I was cleaning and afterwards decided I needed a break. I rummaged around and found old journals from when I was in high school. For most of my life I have been writing at all times, when it is convenient and when it is not, when I feel like it and when I am just screaming at my hands and brain to just give me something, anything to write. I sometimes wonder if I came out of the womb with a pad of paper and a pen, having used my nine months growing also writing of my experiences. Either way, God gave me an innate desire to continuously write everything I could down. 

As far as journaling goes, I’m actually kind of awful at it. I write, in all places. I have numerous documents on my computer, blog entries here, and probably 10 notebooks with different time-lines. This does not include the pieces of paper I find shoved in places with idea on them. But I’m really bad at continuously writing so I can keep up with more life events. I guess my life dream has been to leave a legacy on paper for others to read. It isn’t always pretty, but it shows my struggles internally through every major event, and through a lot of changes. 

Looking back on my writing I was flooded with memories of my childhood. I have done a lot to find peace in my circumstances growing up. I don’t know if I will ever be ready to completely talk about that. I just don’t feel comfortable because I know my parents had good intentions, that they never stopped loving me, that they did their best. But holy hell sometimes I struggle with that. I am so blessed that now I can happily say my parents and I are working on a complete and peaceful relationship, one step at a time. It has been wonderful. 

I can’t help but see how much time has allowed me the opportunity to grow. Mostly, I remember feeling extremely lonely all the way up until I graduated high school. It felt like no one wanted to understand who I was on the inside. Or if they did want to, they couldn’t. I was depressed. I laughed a lot, but inside was a tumultuous mess. I was constantly battling my needs with my desire to be liked and craved. The only thing steady about this whole time, was that for the most part I never walked away completely from my faith. I struggled, maybe even became angry at God a little. But I knew he loved me, that he had a hand of protection over me, and that some day every thing would work out. 

Healing has been a scary process. But I’m learning to let go, of a lot of things. Those things are allowed to be memories, but hanging on to the hurt only allows them to fester. Pain is not an easy thing to get over. It takes time. And sometimes when we think we are almost healed a scar is revisited and sometimes even re-injured and we must hang on tight. 

I might be able to open up more about this in the future. Right now everything is just a jumbled mess. I’m so very proud of where I am. Blessed to know healing has come. God has been faithful in his promises. And I hold tight to the knowledge that I have learned from my past, and will continue to grow as time goes on. I refuse to be stagnant.