seasons, seasons.

Two months ago my house looked like this:

unnamed-1Today my house looks like this:

unnamed-2

SPRING!!! But really, this picture doesn’t do justice to the explosion of life that has taken place around the house with the yellow door. It feels like a fairy tale every time I pull into my driveway (…is this real???)

Spring has snuck up not only on my house, but my heart as well.

November brought my first snowfall (in Buffalo, NY) and a season of brokenness. It felt like my skin had turned inside out as I began to dive into a deeper level of emotional healing.

I got off Facebook and signed up for counseling.

I stopped hanging out with people as much. While everyone was getting engaged or getting ready to have babies, I would get away to my room.

It was there I would spend sweet, sweet time with the Lord. On the floor.

When I came home from the World Race four years ago I was met with disappointment after disappointment. My spirit was so low – the floor seemed like the only place to meet with God (because I knew he was down there with me.) I would lie on my back or kneel with my forehead resting on the hard wood, praying, crying, waiting.

And so, just as I did four years ago – I spent the last few months meeting God on the floor.

Recently, however, I’ve been meeting with God in my bed. The floor doesn’t seem right anymore. My spirits are higher. Stronger.

It’s been a gradual progression. And I’m still in process. But on Thursday I made a spontaneous decision to get out of my room and go see a movie with two friends after work. On a school night!

New waves of life are pulsing through my veins.

A few months ago I looked like this:

unnamed-3

sad selfie after a cry sesh with my counselor

Now I’m all like this:

5261ab8d41e8d52f7af47896deb2966d293ff5be_m

(NOT ACTUALLY ME)

Spring is here and I can’t complain…

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

rainy sundays and other fine things in life.

This morning I woke up to rain.

tumblr_maywah5cZo1rfp1lho1_500

I love waking up to rain, especially when I have no where to go that day. How often does that happen? Not often enough… which makes me appreciate it even more.

I rolled out of bed in pajama pants that are too big (aka perfect) and made some chai tea and raisin toast.

Then I sat on the couch most of the day. I had a work call. I looked up recipes for the week and read Divergent (…just started yesterday. I knew I would eventually cave; I always do.)

Around noon my roommates and I broke bread together (waffles.) Later in the day I went grocery shopping and visited a friend in the hospital – she had a baby yesterday.

In just a few weeks there will be a baby living in my house (married roommates are prego.) Kinda crazy.

Life has been slow and I’ve been loving it.

bigstock_woman_relaxing_on_grass_field__12155456

I started taking gym classes at the end of February – boot camp, kickboxing, weight lifting, “ride & glide” (spin class), barre assets and of course yoga. The day after my first class I could barely walk. My body felt like 1000 pounds of pain when I got out of bed. I limped down the stairs at work and when I was in Starbucks I used the handicap rail to help me sit down on the toilet. I was sore in places I didn’t know existed. It was bad. And I loved it.

istock-tired-woman1

I was actually like that the whole first week. Limping, grimacing, picking outfits that were minimal effort to put on.

But now I’m golden – barely sore after class. Basically an Olympian.

alyweb8s-1-web

I come home from the gym and cook dinner with my roommate Bethany almost every night. Curried butternut squash soup, salmon with brown sugar & mustard glaze, tofu tacos with goat cheese, asian dumpling soup, quinoa with mushrooms, kale & sweet potato, blackened tilapia with buttered carrots, etcetera etcetera (God Bless Real Simple magazine.)

tumblr_mk7r58uvL61rm3ie5o1_500

After gym, dinner and dishes I go to my room around 9pm. I’ve been having some sweet times with the Lord – sprawling out on my bed or floor and allowing his presence to give me rest. A wise woman named Rozy recently told me I could either wrestle with God or rest with him. I’ve been wrestling for too long; I’ve worn myself out. It’s time to rest. But rest, of course, is still an active choice.

And then I read. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling and Divergent by Veronica Roth. One at a time, of course. I’m not one of those people who can master multiple books at once.

books

I will say this: going from Jane Austen to John Green gave me whiplash. I went from sentences like this:

This would be the way to Fanny’s heart. She was not to be won by all that gallantry and wit and good-nature together could do; or, at least, she would not be won by them nearly so soon, without the assistance of sentiment and feeling, and seriousness on serious subjects.

to this…

He responded a few minutes later.
Okay.
I wrote back.
Okay.
He responded:
Oh, my God, stop flirting with me!

Yes, please…stop. (I think I’ll like the movie better.)

One of the reasons I got off Facebook is because I wanted to spend more time on things I value, like reading. After deactivating Facebook I found myself checking email a lot, which is kind of like gnawing on nicotine gum after quitting cigarettes.

But now I forget about the Internet as soon as I leave work. It doesn’t even cross my mind until I’m back at the office the following morning. I used to wake up and check Facebook, then I woke up and checked email, now I just wake up.

facebook-Are-you-a-Facebook-addict-Test-and-find-outI rarely touch my computer at home, which is why I haven’t blogged in a month.

Overall, I’ve been pretty hermit-y. My weekends are often spent in yoga pants and boyfriend tees, eating leftovers and watching old Carey Grant movies.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m in a season of valuable, but small and I’m soaking up every second.

Now, back to Divergent. 

b8b6393081fddc5e167321c25ebedee7

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

do you like me? yes no maybe???

When I was in Nicaragua a few years ago I met this guy. I was fasting from men at the time, so I didn’t give him the time of day… even though he was incredibly good looking. Like, just walked out of an American Eagle ad good looking.

Instead I would talk to the girls on the trip I was leading, or the other members of his team. But not him.

Then one day we ended up on a log together. At the beach. Everyone else from our teams was swimming in the ocean, splashing and playing, but we were glued to that log. The sun beat down on us as we talked, and talked, and talked…until the waves came crashing on us and everyone’s belongings. We jumped up and immediately started chasing after floating flip flops and water bottles.

I was intrigued.

But still I stayed away. Until, that is, he came up to me a day or two later and said, “Hey Esperanza, we need to finish our conversation from the beach.”

My knees became weak, along with my heart.

From there on out our conversation continued… for days. I never initiated, as that’s what I had done the year before that led me to a bruised heart, and consequently this fast from men. He always found me, though, and I didn’t mind.

My girls began to notice. They told me he would ask for me when I wasn’t there. They thought he liked me.

No, no, no, I would tell them.

But secretly I wondered.

The last day he was there he took me up to the roof of his hotel. We talked for four hours, our sweat piling in puddles around us. But neither of us moved.

Surely this was love.

I desperately wanted to ask him for clarification – what did this all mean? Something? Nothing? Was I reading into things? Was I a fool to wait for him to get back from his mission trip?

He had seven more months left on that trip, and there was a very strict DO NOT DATE OR EVEN TALK ABOUT DATING OR YOU WILL DIE rule (I knew about it because I had been on that trip. And broken that rule. And while I didn’t die, it sure did hurt.)

I told myself the rule was the reason I wasn’t asking for clarification, but really it was because I was afraid of rejection.

The good news: he happened to be from a town 15 minutes away from where I was living. Clearly, the stars were aligned in my favor.

And so I waited. For seven months.

He came back and I saw him for the first time at a social gathering, where he said he really wanted to get together to catch up. This was it!

And then I found out he kissed someone the week before.

I was crushed.

More than that, I felt stupid. I felt stupid for dreaming (literally and figuratively) all those months while he thought nothing of me.

It took me a while to grieve and get over everything from this experience, but I also learned a valuable life lesson…

CLARIFICATION IS KEY.

And so, the next two times I was confused, I clarified.

One time that meant sending a letter (he was long distance) in which I literally did one of these:

(Go big or go home, right?)

The time after that was in person, which was super scary. It was January and I was about to leave for a few months. I didn’t want to waste those months waiting for something that wasn’t real, so at my going away party I asked him if we could talk. We put on our coats and stepped onto the back deck.

It was dark and cold, and I stumbled through my words. “So, um, I think we get along really well as friends, and, uh, I’m not sure if you’re interested in taking this to the next level, but, um, I just wanted to let you know that if you are that’s like, totally fine by me.”

Wow, he said. You’re bold.

I told him that actually I wasn’t. I let him know I had been hurt before and it was no longer worth it to me to wait around to find out I was rejected; I would rather know up front and save myself months of fantasy, false hope and the grief that follows.

He told me he was flattered, that he had considered it, but no, that was not the direction he was moving.

Okay, I said. Now I’m going to run away for 4 months. We laughed. And then we hugged.

I figured we would never be friends again, because clearly he would think I’m forever in love with him, and because I was embarrassed.

The truth? We are still friends to this day.

Here’s where I preach. Ladies, if you are confused about where your friendship with a guy stands, ASK HIM. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You don’t have to tell him you like him. All you have to do is say, “does this mean anything when you do this?”

Honestly, 95% of the time IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. Either A) the guy is just being nice or B) he has affirmation issues and uses friendships with women to fulfill that need.

If you live in confusion and stay silent, it’s on YOU.

One time my friend Hannah sat down with a guy and asked for clarification. She had him look her in the eyes and say, “I don’t like you and nothing will ever happen between us.” Damn!

She knew she needed to do that to protect herself from creating a fantasy and holding onto false hope. That, my friends, is a woman.

There is a lie that says if we initiate a clarifying conversation with the opposite sex we are stepping over our boundaries as women and acting like men. THIS IS FALSE. False false false.

I know too many women who allow themselves to be victims of passivity. And they are dying inside. I know, I used to be one of them.

Save yourselves the heartache and ask. It’s not ruining anything that “could be” – it’s setting yourself free.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

on being 27 and single…

I never wanted to marry young. Ever since high school I thought 26 or 27 would be a good age to start dating. There was too much to do before then…books to read, places to go, people to meet. I didn’t want anything or anyone holding me back.

image

Now I’m 27 and I definitely want to get married.

Turns out people have a lot of opinions about that.

I’m told my husband will come “if I just stop looking.”

No. False. I spent 25 years “not looking” and he never came. There have also been seasons in the last few years where I haven’t been looking – not in the least – yet he never appeared.

image

What does “stop looking” even mean? To stop wanting? To stop hoping? To never have a crush? It’s not like I’m throwing myself naked at men or writing my digits on bathroom stalls. I’m not a serial dater; I’m not desperate.

I just want to get married. Yet people tell me I should stop that, to “stop looking”- as if having the *desire* is the problem, the very obstacle holding me back from my one true love.

image

If only I could stop looking! Then he will magically appear before me on one knee, right??? ‘Cause that’s how life works.

When I read stories in the Bible I see people waiting, longing, hoping, expecting. To receieve something, to be freed from something. What I don’t see are verses telling those people to stop looking for what they want, because then they will surely receive it.

Instead, by faith by faith by faith.

I 100% believe that God is intentional with our seasons of waiting & wanting. He doesn’t want us to yearn for anything more than we yearn for Him, but I don’t believe he wants us to repress our longing for husband / baby / job / whatever. He wants for us to turn to him with that longing. Not to ignore it.

image

Another concern people have when they discover I want to get married is that I’m not “content.” Because clearly if I were content I wouldn’t want anything I don’t have.

Is that what being content means? Not wanting anything… ever?

Let me tell you this. I love my life. I love living in the South, where my car isn’t covered in snow November-March. I love working at a place where I can rock purple hair and tattoos. And somehow I’ve hit the jackpot with relationships- friends and family and roommates galore.

image

Not only am I content with my life, I freaking love it.

I also want to get married.

Wanting to get married doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for all those things I mentioned. I still love them. And I want a husband. Can it really be???

Other things I’ve been told: “you’re too picky” (cough cough mom) and “instead of waiting for your husband to come, you should work on becoming the kind of wife God wants you to be.”

Does this mean I need to memorize Proverbs 31?

I get that people have good intentions, that they want to help. But what they’re communicating when they say these things is “the reason you aren’t married yet is because you’re doing something wrong.” If you would just stop doing this or start doing that, then you’ll get what you want.

image

It’s very disheartening… if not a bit demeaning.

People don’t say that to women who want to have kids, but can’t… do they? Or to someone who is unemployed and looking for a job? Someone who is waiting and longing for physical healing?

Sometimes life doesn’t play out the way we want. And so we hope. We wait. We cry to our counselor and we wipe our tears away, ready to face another day.

We pray to God for strength.

Waiting isn’t easy, and that’s okay. There isn’t a formula for everything. This life is about living in the tension between making the most of it and waiting, longing, for what is to come. The earth is groaning in anticipation! We don’t tell the rocks and mountains to just stop looking…

I can’t speak for the other single ladies out there, but I’ll go ahead and speak for myself. When I tell you I want to get married please don’t try to fix me. Don’t accuse me of being discontent. Just listen. Pray for me instead. Lend me some faith when mine is slipping away. That’s all I really want. (Ice cream doesn’t hurt either…)

I’ll do the same for you, whatever it is you may be longing for.

831db56af7a09432284b37aa1b3b574d7f90c975_m[1]

And if you happen to know a great, single, bearded guy who wouldn’t mind a feisty female by his side…that’s cool too.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

my first post on venture magazine!

It was the summer of 2011, and it was hot. The humid Georgia days stuck on me like glue, but I didn’t mind. I was the happiest I had been in a while. I had a job I loved and new friends who felt like old friends. Not to mention an apartment complex with a pool.

The past year had been full of disappointments and loneliness. Sure, it had had its finer moments, like apple picking in the fall and Nicaragua in the spring, but it also left my bedroom floor stained from tears. I wondered if the best was in the past, where I had had purpose and people understood me.

I moved to Georgia earlier that summer, leaving behind those hurts and tears with every mile I drove on I-75.

I was afraid but hopeful.

(Read the rest here!!)

Image*photo from Venture Magazine.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

valuable, but small.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small… 

vlcsnap-488952

(Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail.)

This quote sums up my current inspiration for life right now. Valuable, but small. This is why I got off Facebook. This is why I’m saying no to most social events. This is why I cooked a salmon dinner for myself and then took a bath the other night.

Small. Still. Quiet. Peaceful.

These words define the desire I have for this season.

The world was starting to get too large, too unmanageable. Everything was spinning and I couldn’t keep up. Before Christmas I wrote in my diary, “It’s all too much. I need to make life smaller. I need to be able to scale it. Right now I’m drowning.”

I decided to slow down and smell the flowers (or, in my case, the “vanilla firewood” candle I got for Christmas.)

Scaling life down to a more manageable size has been fabulous. I say no to most social things, which makes the specific things I say yes to more meaningful. Lazy weekend mornings with roommates. Lunch with girlfriends. Dinner with my best friend & her husband.

I have 0% fomo. Like, I don’t even have to fight the fear of missing out. It’s just not there.

Instead, I have more space to read. To go on walks. To write in my diary. To write blogs. To sleep in on a rainy Saturday.

I love not being on Facebook. My life feels less cluttered. If I could I would get rid of email too…

I’m reminded of the list “What I Won’t Miss” Nora Ephron made before she died (…she wrote & directed You’ve Got Mail, btw):

What I Won’t Miss

Dry skin
Bad dinners like the one we went to last night
E-mail
Technology in general
My closet
Washing my hair
Bras
Funerals
Illness everywhere
Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism
Polls
Fox
The collapse of the dollar
Joe Lieberman
Clarence Thomas
Bar mitzvahs
Mammograms
Dead flowers
The sound of the vacuum cleaner
Bills
Emails. I know I already said it, but I want to emphasize it.
Small print
Panels on Women in Film
Taking off makeup every night.

And, because I love it, here’s her list of “What I Will Miss”:

What I Will Miss

My kids
Nick
Spring
Fall
Waffles
The concept of waffles
Bacon
A walk in the park
The idea of a walk in the park
Shakespeare in the Park
The bed
Reading in bed
Fireworks
Laughs
The view out the window
Twinkle lights
Butter
Dinner at home just the two of us
Dinner with friends
Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
Paris
Next year in Istanbul
Pride and Prejudice
The Christmas tree
Thanksgiving dinner
One for the table
The dogwood
Taking a bath
Coming over the bridge to Manhattan
Pie

She wrote the line about valuable, but small and I can tell by this list.

My counselor says I should go home more often, and I agree with her. Because I don’t know how long the people I’m surrounded by will be in my life. That leaves me a little unsettled. My family, however, is forever.

unnamed

Christmas Eve 2012

And so, as this new year & new season begin, I’m realigning my life. I’m coming back to center after letting myself get a bit off balance. I’m figuring out how to best invest my time and energy into things that matter in the long run.

I’m discovering the wonder of valuable, but small.

So far, so good.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Bring it on, 2014!

New Year’s Eve: I decided to shake it up this year. I put on a new dress & bright lipstick and ventured into Atlanta, where my girlfriends and I danced like fools for hours.

IMG_4749-MIMG_4691-MToo tired to drive an hour back to Gainesville, we crashed at a cheap hotel. In the morning we went to Waffle House in our pj pants & dancing shoes. (…can you say classy?)

I spent the rest of the day in jammies… cleaning, taking a nap, eventually acknowledging my to-do list.

It’s officially 25 hours into 2014 and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I sense change is in the air- it’s dancing around me and hinting at new chapters & plot twists I am soon to discover.

I’m ready.

This year feels different. 
feel different.

Ready, set, let’s go…

fly a kite.

balloons via iheartstolenimages

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments