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what are you curious about?

I consider myself a passionate person. I have lots of opinions and get fired up easily. I tend towards extremes and express an expansive range of emotions on a daily basis.

Living your passion can be quite lovely. But if you can’t identify it, if you can’t identify yourself, or if you just don’t have the energy — living your passion can also be intimidating and burdensome.

I can confidently recognize activities and causes about which I care a great deal, but my life is not stripped of direction if I am not constantly engaged in them. In fact, in this season, I would prefer to not be preoccupied by passion. It sounds heavy and exhausting.

Lately, instead of: “What are you passionate about?” I prefer a question that’s more sustainable for my everyday life: “What are you curious about?”

Passion asks, “For what cause will you die? What keeps your soul awake at night? What battle will you fight until the very end?”

Curiosity asks, “What are you interested in right now? Maybe not tomorrow, but just in this moment?”

I learn a lot from watching my one-year-old discover the world. He may hate blackberries for the next month, but in this moment, he loves them and wants to devour a dozen all at once. I want to embrace life with such eagerness, and not worry if things will change tomorrow — because inevitably they will.

My toddler doesn’t need to submit to one life path now (or ever). If Atlas develops a clear passion, he will go after it, for is that not what a passion is — an extravagant conviction that compels you to follow? I want to foster his interests, but I don’t want him to be overwhelmed by the pressure to commit to them, as I felt for years.

I used to be obsessed with purpose, obsessed with passion. I wanted so badly to live right, with unwavering zeal and determination. But out of fear and disconnection with myself, I hardly lived at all.

Now, I am motivated less by ambition, and more by gratitude and wonder. I am not naturally a curious person, but staying in this moment — not tomorrow, but just in this moment — is exactly what I need.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you living your passion? How did you identify it? What motivates you? What are you curious about today? What reflective question is most helpful to you in this season?


Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic

Photo credit: Taryn Kimberly Photography

 

this i believe

The following are the first 50 things that came to mind:

  1. I believe pizza from NY is the only pizza worth eating. I’ve been to Italy twice but my Long Island taste buds won’t change their mind.
  2. I believe skiing and snowboarding are too much effort for what they’re worth. I haven’t been since high school. But I remember looking really dumb in my overall snow pants.
  3. I believe life is better as a musical. When I’m happy, I sing. When I’m unhappy, I sing to get happy.
  4. I believe with instruction, time, and motivation, anyone can sing or draw to some degree of skill.
  5. I believe in writing in books and passing them on. But not library books, of course.
  6. I believe in my local library.
  7. I believe if you don’t have a good group of friends at college, the best part of college is studying abroad. For two semesters. The summer, too, if you can get funding.
  8. I believe in outward meditation. Sometimes, cleaning my room is the most spiritually cleansing practice I can do.
  9. I believe in yoga groupons.
  10. I believe stove-popped popcorn is always an appropriate snack (sometimes dinner). Usually with parmesan, garlic, and red pepper.
  11. I believe in the difference between entertaining guests and showing hospitality.
  12. I believe in having people over for dinner on a regular basis. And asking them to bring something, otherwise I can’t afford having people over for dinner so often.
  13. I believe in Saturdays of solitude. I love when Noah goes spear-fishing, or has work, and I get the day to myself at home. That’s when I write posts like this one.
  14. I believe in monthly planners. Weekly planners distort my perspective of time. Also, I don’t like all those lines. They’re so constricting.
  15. I believe in sociocultural concepts of time.
  16. I believe in mirrors. Especially when you live in a small apartment.
  17. I believe in showering in the dark for a womb-like experience. Or in the mostly-dark with candles.
  18. I believe in showering every other day at the maximum.
  19. I believe Asians have the best hair. Therefore, I believe I have the best hair.
  20. I believe in fancy drinks when I get home from work. Work is work.
  21. I believe in taking spiritual or emotional sick days from work. Just 10 vacation days a year is not sustainable in teaching at an all-year-round alternative school for at-risk teenage girls.
  22. I believe in babysitting for free when parents need to go on a date. It’s easier if the kids are cute. And if I happen to get paid, I can feel extra-thankful.
  23. I believe it takes a village to raise a child, even if the village is not intentionally raising said child.
  24. I believe in my sister. She’s two years younger than me, but I look up to her a lot. She’s pretty much wonderful.
  25. I believe in eating clean as long as I can afford it. I can’t really afford it right now. I try.
  26. I believe in writing it down. Especially my dreams.
  27. I believe dreams are real. The dream-kind and the kind when you’re a kid and have a big imagination.
  28. I believe apathy is the opposite of love.
  29. I believe women can be strong, independent, successful, and powerful without being man-hating bitches.
  30. I believe in progressive simplicity.
  31. I believe in loyalty.
  32. I believe in celebrating anything and everything. And taking pictures of it.
  33. I believe in taking pictures.
  34. I believe babies are a blessing from God, but I am oh-so-very-thankful that there are currently none in my care. If you’re not mature enough, a blessing can be a curse.
  35. I believe my childhood was happier than I remember it being.
  36. I believe that I will be a good mom.
  37. I believe in big, happy families. And family vacations. And reunions.
  38. I believe if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t get married until I was at least in my mid-30s, if at all. I wouldn’t see the point.
  39. I believe in my marriage. It is the best hard decision I have ever made.
  40. I believe I will always be beautiful if I believe that I am loved.
  41. I believe that believing I am loved is the most challenging and most important thing I have ever believed.
  42. I believe in honorable, selfless rebellion.
  43. I believe in being special without needing to be better than everyone else. But it’s definitely challenging.
  44. I believe lots of things about race and racism. I believe many of them could be offensive if I tried to summarize them in a bullet point.
  45. I believe in the Kingdom of God, but I don’t claim to understand it. I just know it’s really, really good.
  46. I believe in mobile stability.
  47. I believe everyone gets older, but not everyone grows up, and not everyone comes of age.
  48. I believe I have come of age.
  49. I believe life can begin again and again.
  50. I believe there is room for everyone.

What do you believe?

without walls

“Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed.” -William Blake

Life is a story, told in fragments.

At home, our apartment is not well insulated. It is one of six 1-bedroom, ground level apartments in our complex — the type made for the free flow of warm Floridian air to circulate throughout. Now that it is less humid, we open our windows and avoid using the AC. Our neighbors leave their doors wide open and we all exchange privacy for fresh “autumn” air.

At church, I help out as one of the youth group leaders. Last week, Summer gave me a word: that I could be vulnerable with those who are trying to love me, that I did not have to be afraid they would abuse it.

In August-December 2010, I studied abroad in the Pacific. In Samoa, we would talk about how the architecture clearly reflects their communal culture: Houses are open fales, comprised of wooden posts supporting a domed roof. Traditionally, there are no rooms, no doors, no barriers. “The only walls that exist are those in our minds.”

The day I decided I loved Noah was also a day I hated him. It was an occasion in which he spoke some truth into my life, addressing thoughts I never told him. I remember feeling alarmed at his audacity, as I perceived it, and the power he had to take away my agency to share what went on behind my eyes.

I go to sleep each night in an exposed safety, next to the man with whom I have become one, with all our windows open, breathing in the sounds of sleepy suburbia. It was not an easy journey, but in retrospect, deciding to move here for the sake of community was one of the best decisions I could have made.

I don’t live life on my own, and now I don’t have to pretend to.

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Related posts:

On making the most difficult decision of my life

On “settling down” in marriage

On being vulnerable with others

worthy to hear what is worth most to me

I had a mentor once. She observed that I often share what I am learning before I allow myself to be changed by it, and that I should own a concept before I share it with others. But then she basically abandoned me, and it has been difficult to value her input, which seems to have been applicable for a different life, a different time. Perhaps a time when I could only see in black and white, and had not known enough grace to live by anything but absolutes. Or a time when it was harder to keep my mouth closed than it was to proclaim my latest theological revelation or insight into what God was doing in my life.

I used to resent “thinking things through” with other people. I was frustrated that it was virtually impossible to make a decision “on your own,” since there is not one who can escape the influence of culture and society in their pursuit of individualism, and I was determined to “think for myself,” avoiding as much external input as possible, as best I could. (All these phrases are in quotes because I kind of despise them.) In the beginning, I never wanted to talk with Noah about what I was thinking, in the midst of figuring it out. “You mean, invite you into my thought process?” It seemed absurd. If I was not sure of something, why would I say it? If I could not make my own decisions, why did I deserve to have those choices in the first place?

It turns out recognizing my weakness as a social creature makes it easier for others to fulfill my need for them.

Sometimes it is important to process things solo, to quiet the periphery voices in order to hear the ones that actually speak love and truth. Sometimes it is important to process thoroughly first, because speaking on a subject without understanding it can give a false sense of authority on a matter of ignorance. I definitely see value in being shaped by something before I attempt to see others shaped by it, but measuring growth and change is never cut and dry.

In this season, I want to share in the interim. To remember the steps, value the journey. I want to be open and honest with others because I want to believe I have no reason not to be.

It is so difficult for me to share the things that matter most to me with people who do not understand. In the natural, I want others to understand more than I want them to care. It is a rare case indeed to find someone who both understands AND cares. It is the issues closest to my heart that I trust least in the oblivious possession of those who can do little more than listen, but I am learning to view others as worthy to hear what is worth most to me, at the risk of being misunderstood or not being understood fully. I am learning to trust my community to steward the thoughts and stories I make known, though they may be received lightly and without regard. I am choosing to present to them shards of my life as a reflection of my desire for vulnerable authenticity and wanting to know them truly in return. I am being reminded that community is not synonymous with friendship.

I am not pretending to have answers, I am not protecting a reputation, I have no need to prove myself. I am living in gray, and if you want to listen, I am not afraid to tell you about it.