after the rain, the sun

QUOTE it is well

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question

– Elisabeth Elliot 

It’s hard to accept that you are in control, that you have a plan that’s good.

It’s hard to trust in a story I haven’t written myself.

I wish I could skip ahead a few chapters and see what’s next.

Then I’d be able to trust you. Then I’d be able to relax and enjoy my life and not get bogged down by the what ifs.

Then I could say with confidence that your promises are good.

But it doesn’t work like that, does it? It’s not that easy.

I guess there’s purpose in the process.

Your will is in the waiting.

If I knew all the answers to my deepest questions, I’d only trust myself–my efforts. My abilities.

I wouldn’t cling to you so desperately, the bleeding woman with nothing else but hope.

If I knew it all I wouldn’t need you. You’d be a benevolent benefactor I’d acknowledge on occasion–“thanks for everything!” and our relationship would dissolve into YOU GIVE and I TAKE.

I would miss the unexpected joy of a miracle, the tiny ray of sun struggling through the clouds when it’s rained and rained and rained without stopping.

I would learn nothing in the dark times, the hungry times, the wandering, the wondering in the wilderness.

I wouldn’t see the beauty in the brokenness, the way you whisper in the wind:

I’ve got this.

So I relent.

I relinquish control to the one who orders the storm to still.

I silence my soul to the rhythm of waves on the shore.

It is well.

I have another blog!

Hey guys!

I love you, and I miss you.

I’ve been spending a lot of time over at the blog I started with my BFF called T&F, which is basically a blog on our thoughts and feelings about the stuff we’re watching and reading and listening to.

So far we write a lot about our unhealthy obsessions with Outlander and Downton Abbey, but I’ve also written on Bridget Jones’s Diary and Ever After.

Go on and take a gander, and give us a follow if you like what you see.

I promise you won’t be disappointed!

High Sensitivity: A Blessing and a Curse

When I was in my early twenties, my dear, gentle dad (an introvert) referred me to a book he’d just read called The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney. After I read it, it was like the sky parted and the angels began to sing.

There was nothing wrong with me! I wasn’t antisocial or weird, and I wasn’t a loser for needing time to recharge my batteries after stimulating interaction–I was just an introvert!

Hear me roar (but only if I’m well-fed, well-rested, I’ve had a lot of downtime by myself, and I’m totally comfortable in my surroundings)!

All by myself ... it's a good thing!

All by myself … it’s a good thing!

Later on, probably in first-year Psych, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, and more of my complex and often puzzling (even to me!) personality became clear–I’m an INFJ, the rarest of all 16 types (approximately 1-3% of the world’s population!)

Discovering these things about myself has brought a lot of healing to my life. Although the cultural awareness of introverts has been on the rise in recent years, we still live in a society that largely celebrates brashness and boldness (just watch any reality TV show, with the possible exception of The Amazing Race Canada), outspokenness, toughness, and bulldozing, cocksure attitudes.

Which is why realizing I’m an HSP has deepened my understanding of myself, and other sensitive souls.

"Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness" - Katherine Henson

“Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness” – Katherine Henson

An HSP is a Highly Sensitive Person. The term was coined by Elaine Aron who began researching high sensitivity in the early 90s. Apparently, HSPs make up 15-20% of the population, which, according to Aron, means it’s “too many to be a disorder, but not enough to be well understood by the majority […]”

High sensitivity is a personality trait, not a disorder, and it means that we may process data more deeply and thoroughly than others due to a biological difference in our nervous system. HSPs can be introverts or extraverts, and any acronym on the MBTI.

To find out if you’re an HSP (you’re in good company!) you can take the test here.

According to Aron, it’s a good thing to be highly sensitive.

But it’s not without its pitfalls.

blessing and a curse

blessing and a curse

There are tons of illuminating articles out there on common HSP traits and it’s so refreshing to read traits you thought were unique to you aren’t quite so weird after all! It’s also been helpful to get tips on coping in an overwhelming world.

Here are some articles I’ve found to be particularly useful:

tea helps

tea helps

Being an HSP can definitely be both a blessing and a curse. For me, it means the following traits:

  • I notice everything, so a cluttered kitchen or workspace, specks of dirt, crumbs on the counter, dust on my work desk, etc. will get me really annoyed
  • Not being able to perform, or performing poorly, when scrutinized (which is why I didn’t drive so well with my parents or an instructor, but once left to my own devices, I drove fine)
  • Easily startled
  • Agitated by loud and/or persistent noises (sirens, car alarms, chewing, incessant coughing, loud talkers)
  • More sensitive to extreme cold or extreme heat than others
  • Intensely moved by the arts; often “getting lost” in music, movies, a book, etc.
  • Deep connection to animals and nature
  • Strong intuition
  • Picking up on the emotions of others and being affected by them
  • Able to pick up on non-verbals and the “emotional climate” of situations and places
  • Physical reactions to stress
  • Feeling all the feels intensely, from elation to depression–quick to laugh; quick to cry
  • Overwhelmed in cities or places with crowds
  • Feeling sorry for inanimate objects. In her matron-of-honour speech at my wedding, my sister told the story of how, as a kid, I wanted to take all of my stuffies and dolls with me on our trip to Myrtle Beach because I didn’t want to hurt any of their feelings!
  • Very vivid dreams
  • Conscientiousness and high self-awareness. For example, when grocery shopping, an HSP will make sure her cart is not blocking anyone and will wait patiently for you to go through a crowded aisle rather than pushing through with an insistent, “Excuse me!” They will also become very annoyed when other people lack that same level of conscientiousness
  • Deeply distressed by any form of conflict and will develop headaches/stomachaches when there’s tension or conflict
  • People pleasing to avoid criticism, which is taken very personally
  • Able to read people well and know what to do to make them comfortable (we do quite well in customer service!)
  • Unable to stomach violent movies, TV shows, the news, books, etc., and not able to quickly forget them if I do. I have to be extremely careful what I watch, see, listen to, read, etc. I walked out of the movie Looper in theatres and then felt disturbed and physically ill all day
  • Sensitivity to certain words or expressions
  • Vivid imagination
self-care

self-care

As an HSP, and an introvert, and a Blue, and an INFJ, it’s been extremely important for me to continually self-care, to treat myself gently so that I will then treat others gently, and to remind myself that God made me this way for a reason, and everything He made is good.

BLOG Pearl S Buck Quote

Manifesto: my heart broke loose on the wind

I don’t want the half-life

half-mast life

teeth clenched to another day

another chore

the prison march to mundane.

I don’t want the half-assed life

wearing the necktie noose of mediocrity,

shoulders hunched

slouching towards the pursuit of nothing.

 

Give me the full life or give me nothing at all.

 

I want the full life

the rich life

the mess and ooze of it

sink my teeth in it

fall in love with it

again and again and again.

To embrace the mystery,

to fully accept the fluctuating rhythms of life, of

moons and milk and windstorms,

And yes:

the crazy.

That which makes us human,

That which makes us ache and feel and the

light and dark and frays on the edges.

That which makes us magnificent,

standing on the edge and thrumming with joy,

light spilling up to the brim and burning over,

electric-charged, resilient, shaking, shimmering,

pioneers, vikings, resplendent.

That which makes us mortal,

A seeping mess of science and suffering,

blood and bionics

skin and scars and scrapes:

There is no cure for the human condition.

 

And yet–

 

Yet there is a cure for the half-life

And I want it.

I want all of it,

The full cup, the elixir, the balm,

filled to the brim and spilling over,

the light the dark the

edges rough and raw and frayed.

The open life, the spilled open life,

the one smudged with passion

rather than pessimism and defeat.

I would rather be bruised by loving life hard, than from

knocking against my own negativity.

The free life, unfettered, unhinged, cracked open

and filled with

gold.

 

photo courtesy of tumblr

photo courtesy of tumblr

And I, infinitesimal being,

drunk with the great starry

void,

likeness, image of

mystery,

felt myself a pure part

of the abyss,

I wheeled with the stars,

my heart broke loose on the wind

— from “Poetry” by Pablo Neruda

 

Adagietto

Rest is a beautiful thing.

In music, the rest, a breath, lives between one note falling into another.

In the above piece of music, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 5. IV Adagietto, the pauses between notes has a painfully beautiful effect. Go to the 8:o4 mark on the video and you’ll see what I mean. The heart melts, finds relief, as all hinges on one note melting into the next.

In life, to rest is to drink deep of the divine.

To still, to slow, to pause, is to strengthen the soul.

Tonight I listened to Mahler in a darkened room with my eyes closed and allowed myself to be immersed in beauty for twelve minutes and seven seconds. Rather than let myself become distracted by a million other things I could have been doing, I rested.

Just like when Cynthia and Jenny listened to The Swan (Le Cygne) by Camille Saint-Saëns and the drama of the day melted into much-needed rest, I too fell captive to music and did nothing but breathe while the symphony stoked the fires of my imagination. 

Adagietto. 

Light-hearted, but a slow pace.

The sweet spot between movements where rest is just as important as the notes.

photo from Call the Midwife (BBC)

Bryony Hannah (Cynthia) and Jessica Raine (Jenny) in a scene from Call the Midwife (BBC)

 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest

– Matthew 11:28

You were meant to live for so much more …

Today my husband and I were talking about Storylines.

Particularly, the ones society imposes on us:

You’re supposed to grow up, do normal things, walk the tightrope line of others’ expectations, go to prom, be straight, kiss the boy, kiss the girl, get married, work your way up the corporate ladder, accumulate wealth, have kids, have a big and perfectly decorated house, have a nice car, vacation in the Muskokas in the summer, go skiing and/or go to the Caribbean in the winter, retire, move to Florida, die.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Any deviation from that Storyline and you’ll get the Glances. The Whispers. You know the ones. What’s wrong with him? What happened to her? Isn’t it sad? Never married, never had kids, not straight, still renting, still living in their parents’  basement, using public transit, can’t lose weight, can’t retire at 65, can’t ever afford a vacation, still waiting tables, still waiting to get asked on a date, has a cat instead of a lover …

Isn’t it tragic? Isn’t it sad? 

To all that I say Good Riddance. And screw it. On this achingly beautiful day as I write from my balcony with a chai at my side and a dog at my feet and my neighbour strumming her guitar and singing so beautifully right into my heartstrings, let me grab you by the shoulders, look you in the eyes and beg you to listen:

You were meant to live for so much more.

So your Storyline deviates from what society expects of you?

So you’re not straight?*

So you never got married and you don’t want to?

So you don’t have kids?

So you can’t afford to buy your own house?

So you don’t have a corporate career?

So you’re ____________________ (fill in the blank with anything not considered “normal?”)

So what?

So the heck what?

Society’s Storyline is so narrow, it’s no wonder it can’t be imposed on everyone. And it shouldn’t be! Not only is it illogical, it’s also unintuitive, unbiblical, and potentially harmful.

Look, I’ll say it again:

You were meant to live for so much more. 

You will kill yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses (those stupid Joneses. Who are they, anyway?) So don’t bother.

You will kill your spirit, your soul, trying to be something other than who you are. Trust me. Once you break free of the prison called What People Think, you will see that the world is big and wonderful and wide and your soul will expand in it. It will blossom like a flower and you’ll be happy. You will have to take a good hard look inside of yourself and write your own Storyline, society be damned.

Personally, I’d like to greet each day in the fullness and richness of who God meant me to be. I want to open like a flower in the radiance of His face and walk my own path, unfettered and free. I crave the adventure of where it will take me if I don’t for a second stop and worry about the Glances and Whispers.

I hope you can too.

photo courtesy of weheartit.com

photo courtesy of weheartit.com

* I’m not saying that being homosexual is not “normal,” but unfortunately we still live in a society that largely thinks so.

 

Woman in the Mirror

Every morning I wake up and go to war.

As I wash, I wonder what strategy my enemy is going to use on me today. Will she pounce on me as I prepare myself first thing this morning, or will she slowly poison me every hour throughout the day?

Either way, if she wins, it will darken the entire day. My open wounds will bleed into every encounter, every situation. I’ll find adversaries in friends, ill-wishers in loved ones. Every ray of sunshine will have a cloud, and if there’s no cloud I’ll find one in the far, far distance and stare it into being.

If she wins (and she’s a very worthy opponent–skilled and experienced and trained in the art of uncovering vulnerabilities), she will wreak havoc on every aspect of my life.

She’s won battle after battle. Preying on a thoughtful little girl with big daydreams. Unrelenting, not letting go, not even for a minute. Not ever.

Pinning down a sensitive, searching teenager and breathing hatred into the lungs. Coiling around the heart and sinking in her venomous teeth, poison carousing through the body until choking and sputtering, the white flag was raised.

I give up.

You win.

Take my body and my heart too.

Take my soul.

I’m too weak to fight.  

While the battle is now less bloody, the enemy lingers, more of a silent assassin than a barbarian warrior–a dark spectre at the periphery, brushing her wings ever-so-lightly here and there, so as to let her presence remain a constant. Slowly sucking up joy like an invisible vampire, casting a shadow on the loveliest days.

I’m here, she reminds me. I’m here in case you get too comfortable, too strong. Too loving.

I’m here. You’ve been mine for so long that we’re almost friends, you and I. 

No need to focus your attention on anything else. No need to try to forget me. I’ll always be here for you, your constant companion. Together, we can continue to live a half-life. 

Keep your enemies close …

She’ll continue to win. She’ll continue to keep her stranglehold on me and life will ramble on as before, a little bit darker, a little bit emptier.

Unless.

Unless I rise up and fight back with every ounce of power and strategy she’s used against me.

Unless I decide that I want a full life, a rich life, and I can’t with her so close.

Unless I laugh in her face and see her for what she is she is. Not ignore her or minimize her presence, but fully acknowledge her special assignment on my life and fight back fire with fire.

Not to forget the scars she’s left, the battles she’s won in the past and the post-war ruin. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say, so then my strength must be immeasurable. I can crush serpents beneath my feet, a twenty-first century Eve. I can hold my sword high and ask for Help, and know that I have it.

I can rise from the ashes of a lifetime of destruction and come back as the fierce beauty bent on reclaiming that which was stolen. The diamond dazzling from years of fire.

I can wake every morning with the song of victory on my lips, aware that this is a battle of the flesh, the mind, and the spirit. This is a war greater than just me and her, and good will triumph over evil.

So I’ll be vigilant, mindful, intentional. I’ll fight back with gentleness, love, care. I’ll show my scars to a broken world and my words will be a healing balm on millions of warrior brides blind to their own weapons. I’ll sing a new song of joy–a battle cry to drown out the world’s deafening clatter.

I’ll wake up and not forget my armour.

I’ll lock eyes with my enemy in the mirror and declare that the war’s not over.

It’s only just begun.

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel — Genesis 3:15

 

Woman at a Mirror by Theo van Rysselberghe (1907) [photo courtesy of WikiPaintings]

Woman at a Mirror by Theo van Rysselberghe (1907) [photo courtesy of WikiPaintings]