Showcasing other Creatives

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher

I had the privilege of being part of Hannah Brencher’s book launch for Come Matter Here.

It’s for those in a season of transition and those in a season of waiting. It’s for questioning. It speaks on community and mental health and faith and being present. It’s an anchor and it’s wings. It’s beautiful.

And maybe it’s for you.

I’ve followed Hannah’s blog and social media for awhile, and she does not take lightly the responsibility of the platform she’s been given. She’s a consistent reminder to show up for people. To use our lives and our careers and our passion to value people rather than treat them as a commodity. She’s a dreamer and a hustler, but she manages to values people through that work.

If you’ve read Hannah’s blog or Monday morning emails or social media, Come Matter Here is just an overflow of that same heart.

I wanted to share one of my favorite passages of hope in the journey:

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If this book speaks to you, order it. If nothing else, follow Hannah’s blog and sign up for her Monday morning emails to give your Monday a little pep. You won’t regret getting to know this rockstar of a human being.

Mental Health

Arm surgery, anxiety, & the abnormals

 

A lady had broken her arm and the doctor had a quick-fix, something for the interim because of other health complications that prevented a complete fix. This lady no longer could lift so much as a cup of tea with that hand now, halfway helpless, but her bone slowly healed in that wrong way and she grew stronger and found ways to adapt and get around without using her one arm so much.

Months later, the doctor said it was time for the Big Fix – a complete recovery and healing for her arm.

 Does it come as a shock that she didn’t want it?

Thing is, her arm had healed wrong, so her arm would need re-broken to be completely healed. It would be a long painful process and she would have to readjust to new pain and then to this new “normal” life with both arms in relatively perfect condition.

I heard this story and immediately could relate. Can’t you? To that thing you’ve gotten so used to, that wrong thing, but you’re not sure you can live without it?

 

Because being broken is less painful than being fixed.

The novel I’m working on is called “Unfixed” and that’s oddly a safe place for these grotesque characters. But I wonder what would happen if in the end I heal them, if their story heals them.

  • Who would they be then?
  • Would they be themselves anymore, or someone new?
  • What would they have to re-learn, and would they ever like it?

I’ve learned to manage my pain, much like my characters manage theirs. A community of misfits. We’ve created a new normal. And it’s scary to think of leaving it. It’s kinda like arm surgery. And I’m not sure I’m ready to break again.
 
 

The great & terrible light ahead…

As this post is published, I’m in the middle of a month of busy. Me, a social life! So many things I’m doing, and I love them all, but I’m just waiting for anxiety to knock me back down. But it can’t keep me from living, not totally.

And that’s not the end of my story either. Really, I don’t know the end to that lady’s arm surgery story. But I know that the end of mine will be complete healing – in this life or another. Healing isn’t regret – that’s a lie, likely from the very pain that afflicts us. I and my characters are going to learn to be brave, to be the hero of our stories as we go into the terror of the woods and as we emerge into the great & terrible light again.

 

Free, Take 1:
|Normal| |Control| |Courage| |New Name|

I recently read this Hannah Brencher post on keeping your normal. You should read it all, but here’s a snippet that I think reminds of the control and the courage we do have.
 

Here’s the thing: I am not my depression. I am not defined by it or confined by it. It happened to me. It still happens to me. My depression does not, on any day of the week, give me a new name though. It will never have that sort of permission.No mental illness, no horrific tragedy, no person who did you wrong or left you broken is allowed to name you. It does not work that way, no matter what other people tell you. This is your life. These are your lungs. This is your space.

 

 

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Faith, Mental Health

While I was doing other things, life.

“Your life gets lived while you’re busy d0ing other things.” –Rizzoli & Isles

I’m pretty sure formulaic crime dramas aren’t supposed to be inspiration for writing. But I finished Gilmore Girls and need some feel-good TV female relationships. And every so often a certain quote just hits you.

I don’t always make the right entrepeneurial-dreamer choices. I watch TV too much and blame it on needing relaxation time or – the writers’ perfect scapegoat – research 🙂 I don’t always know how to balance my need to push myself and exercise self-discipline with my need to monitor my anxiety levels and say no and rest. But while I’m figuring all this out, my life is being lived anyhow. TV shows and all.

While I’ve been busy figuring it all out, I’ve grown bitter and skeptical, in general but of the church specifically. How bad is that! A professing Christian who loves the church doesn’t know how to just be there anymore. And I’m trying to fix that. To remind myself that God has put me in a safe place.

But while I’ve been busy figuring it all out, I’ve been questioning, good questioning. Who is God really, beyond Christian tradition and deep in the Bible. Who does God say that I am? What is my sin and what is my sickness and what needs deliverance? It’s not easy questions, I certainly haven’t found all the answers. But it’s a reminder that God loves disciples who don’t have it all figured out.

 

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Mental Health

Today I’m Not Strong

I’m not sure when it happened. There’s no moment I can pinpoint, no catalyst to blame. Or maybe there’s too many. Did it happen when I lost my dream? When I lost my community? When I lost my future?

The symptoms, the evidence piles up against me. I’m out of control.  To be blunt, I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost friends, I avoid gatherings, I’ve neglected my blog, I’ve postponed my writing/teaching, and I failed a dream I’ve been working toward for 4 years.

But this isn’t supposed to be a pity party. I haven’t lost everything (for instance, I haven’t lost weight…haha. ha. ha. I know, not funny…). I am discouraged, but I’m not gone. I am discouraged.

The thing is, we don’t go through this life unscathed. There’s some days I just don’t know if I can make it, but an easy life isn’t promised and I’m not sure that’s one I’d want anyhow.

I’m still working on myself. I’m still working on my dreams. I’m still working on looking past myself to all the other people in this world I can care for. I’m still working. I’m still here.

Those picture-perfect people who are the epitome of grace and beauty? You know the ones….You’ve got them on your facebook because they’re friends, but also to remind you that you’re not who you’re supposed to be, not yet. But when we enroll in a battle, when we’re fighting for something, it’s not pretty. We’re not necessarily gonna be pretty. We’re gonna be scarred and bruised and calloused and somehow still beautiful.

Some warriors have frazzled hair and cautious steps. That’s me. I’m not supposed to be this way, but if that’s the wound I carry from battling for love, for dreams, for life, then I’ll take it.

I’ll limp my way through and believe that somehow at the end I will come out “a pure and spotless bride without wrinkle.” I don’t know how I go from broken to spotless. I don’t know how I go from weary to youthful. But it’s my hope. And until then, I’m broken yet beautiful.

 

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Faith, Mental Health, Musings

Karitos Retreat 2015

 

“Hey! How do you get out of here?”

 

“We don’t. We’re trapped,” I wanted to say.

 
 
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I never intended to write this blogpost. The title, yes; the content, no. Karitos 2015 was supposed to be a lovely artistic post about all the techniques and spiritual life applications from a gathering of creatives. It wasn’t supposed to be this mess.

But Karitos 2015 wasn’t a conference, it was a retreat. The classes were designed to delve into the creative’s mind and heart, not their skills and art. So unplanned by me, I was faced head-on with my anxiety, that thing that I shouldn’t blog about again so soon because I’d just finished telling everyone about it.

 
 

I sat outside the writing room, curled up, begging no one to notice. Hoping that the class had fallen for it when I picked up my phone and ran out, as if I had a call though there was no ringing. And I breathed and cried and hoped to God this wasn’t who I am. Then the girl came up – limping along in an uncertain scurry as if something was chasing her. I’m a mess, but she doesn’t seem too great either. Desperate. I saw it in her eyes. She asked how to exit the building – “How do you get out of here?” – and I told her to turn left and then right. What I wanted to say is “There’s no escape.” That’s what it feels like, and I wonder if she felt it too.

 
 

“You cannot manage a life of lies.” — Matt Tommey, #Karitos2015

 
 

It struck me. I know. I know that all this pent-up anxiety and fear and panic, it’s lies I somehow believed at the core, that somehow own me at the most inopportune times. And I knew that managing, what I’d been doing for years, wasn’t enough. I would fight this.

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But a fight doesn’t look pretty. A fight doesn’t mean as soon as I know the answer it’s all over. And I think that’s what the Christian world pretends, that enlisting in the fight means it’s all perfectly won that instant. Physical illnesses the church can understand if someone believes in healing but isn’t healed. But mental illness and the like, somehow the problem is that the person hasn’t been preached to enough.

 
 
 

In the few short weeks I’ve had a problem large enough to be on medication, to speak out about it, consult others, I’ve been told so many things I never need to hear.

 
 

“It’s just fear and lies. Let go of the lie and embrace the truth.”

I hear:

“You’re wrong, you’re believing so many wrong things, and if you just believed right like me, you’d be okay.”

 
 

“Be glad you can deal with this now before you’re married with kids. That adds so much more difficulty to bring that into marriage.”

I hear:

“You’re not whole enough for marriage yet, you’re not enough for someone else to take your problems.”

 
 
 

“Take your focus off yourself and praise Jesus. The devil can’t stand praise and will leave.”

I hear:

“You’re so self-centered with your anxiety, unlike us who are able to focus on God just fine.”

 
 
 

Those with anxiety don’t need a sermon, an answer. We have that bottled up within us, terrified to face it yet seeing it every. single. day. When my emotions are in a panic, my thoughts are overrun with dread, and my body experiences chest pain or twitching, the anxiety has taken my mind, emotion, and body, and in that state what more to a person is there? The anxiety is me, it’s all me, is what I believe. And all the while as I scream at myself “BE REASONABLE, AMY” nothing changes. Though it seems controllable, I have no control. Though it seems like it’s all my own doing, I can’t do anything but let it pass. I’m a prisoner to it. I’m fighting, but it’s not me. It’s not me. And that’s what I remind myself every. single. day.
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And if anyone feels this way, I just want to take a moment to say what I most need to hear: You’re strong! I see that. That the victory is slow does not mean it’s any less. I hope healing and freedom is instantaneous for you, but if it is not, know this: That you get back up every time to fight, you. are. strong. Keep going. And I’m with you in it.

 
 
 
 

You Are Strong

 
 

I won the battle at Karitos 2015. My unexpected panic attack where things should have been safe, it made me stronger. I’d like to say I won everything, but I’m still getting there. I opened up. I pressed forward. And I will keep on going.

 
 
 

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Mental Health

Re-Learning to Breathe

You’d think it’d be easy. I mean, everyone does it, needs it to live. It comes naturally from birth. How could I forget?

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  “The problem is, Amy, we think it’s normal because we grew up with it all around us. But it’s not.” That’s what my sister said when I called her up a couple weeks ago. That’s what I’ve reminded myself over and over since then. It’s not normal. But I can be.

  *Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  Managing was no longer enough. Going to the same gas station or Dunkin Donuts or Family Video. Having my anchors, my people I cling to in social situations if I branch out. Having “do nothing” days and saying “no” more than was socially acceptable. It wasn’t working anymore.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  I was forgetting how to breathe. How to be what should just come so naturally to me. How to live. I was a zombie walking through life looking for something to sustain me ’til the next fix, but it never came.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  What do you think bravery is? Keeping on doing the same thing, hoping circumstances will change or you will change or life will change? Stubbornly refusing to admit your need for something more drastic? I hope who I am is brave. What I’ve done is brave. Every step forward makes me wonder if I’m running, but I only hope it’s the right direction.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  I’m trying to reconcile this all now. That God is my healer, but I’m not well. That God is my peace, but prayer and tears and crying out did not help me breathe. That God is compassionate, and I as a Christ-follower must be like Him, but I just can’t take one more person’s problems when I can’t control my own. But I’m still His. And He is still my healer. And He is still my peace. Somehow. Like this.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

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