tonight, in the quiet of the living room with only the Christmas tree lights on (one of my favorite christmas habits), comes my writing. it always does.
Matisse once wrote, "creativity takes courage." I think following dreams does too. And facing fears. Sometimes being creative and following my dreams is downright scary. Sometimes I wonder if it hadn't been easier if I had just been a business major or a chemical engineer (I meet a lot of people in Houston who easily found a job at some oil company because that is the Houston 'thing')
But if I had been a business girl, I wouldn't be myself. I sometimes joke that I am the most colorful person in my office. In a sea of khaki, I am a strange vintage skirt wearing bird. I'm okay with this. I am happy with my skirts and my dreams of magazine writing and my cubicle is a bit more bearable given that it's not so....grey....anymore.
But it does remind me, often, that being yourself isn't exactly an easy feat. it takes courage to pursue dreams and to be who you really are. it takes bravery to say this is me. it takes bravery to say this isn't me. heck, it takes bravery for me to even write this.
every January for the past few years I've come upon a sort of starting place for my year. it's the thing that my entire year is built on, something I write about over and over again, until it becomes branded on my heart, the thing by which (I feel like, although it's probably somewhat of an exaggeration.) all other things are filtered through. it's by this starting place that I see my entire year, and what I look back on at the end of it. (January 2013-December 2013 was very specifically Proverbs 31:25.)
So it was January 2014. I was in a current work schedule of furious freelance writing from 8 am - 4 pm followed by closing every single night from Tuesday to Saturday. A couple of people had quit or flaked on their schedules, and I was one of three consistent workers, which meant the shifts got longer and harder. I remember driving home at 1 am on quietly dark streets, my pulled rib muscle aching, every part of me exhausted and tired. no jobs had materialized after 6 months, which I had (I thought) asked for faithfully, desperately, as my savings dwindled and nothing I tried worked on my extremely painful injury. (it sounds kinda wimpy, but I'm telling this part of the story because it was a literal and figurative thorn in my side. it was so strange but felt very real.)
One day I read something written by a poet and writer, Ciona Rouse, who I think might be a kindred spirit if we ever met - but anyways, she wrote this little monologue called "Do the Crazy Thing" and it reshaped my attitude about the difficult season I was in and set me straight onto an entirely different path for the coming year - it was then that I decided "Be Brave" would be my starting point for 2014. Brave enough to shed the heavy cloak of distrust and anxiety about my decision to move here and lay it at the cross. Brave enough to just keep going, to keep going to work every day, brave enough to keep expecting, to keep asking, to keep waiting for Jesus to show up.
It happened in small ways. Freelance editors started to call me so much I had to turn some stories down because I didn't have enough time to write them all. I opened a bottle of Sweet Leaf tea one day and the cap stared back at me with these words "Keep your chin up" - I became the weird girl crying in the grocery store because I was just so thankful Someone seemed to be listening to me. I wrote some articles for Style and Pepper that afforded me only bylines and sweet emails exchanged between me and women who were loving and accepting and kind in return - things of far more value than a paycheck. those stories also taught me so much about Fair Trade and socially-conscious businesses, about women across the world who felt exactly like I did - at a dead end with their dreams, but still moving forward - and taught me how to pray beyond myself. If I felt like this, then surely they did too! My prayer life exploded as I asked for the same things for them as they navigated strange and difficult waters of stormy seasons and desired bravery and dreams to be ignited - what an incredible salve for my heart. to know you are not alone in something is a bit like finding a compass when you are lost in the desert.
every day those two words took on a different meaning.
be brave. be brave. be brave.
"do the crazy thing. the-hard-to-imagine-but-somehow-you-did-thing. the brings you to your knees thing. the "no one would ever do it that way" thing. the safety net would not even matter thing. the it could kill you but not trying is another kind of death thing.
the thing on your heart? DO IT.
and let them gasp
right before they call it
a thing of wonder."