8 things saving my life in the midst of transition
From car mints to a reread of a favorite book, here's what's helping me feel like a person lately.
This spring has held transition and travel, and even as I’m grateful for the gifts here, I’ve been catching my breath from it all. I’ve gone through enough transitions to know that even the best of them involve grief, and the messy middle before coming through to the new beginning on the other side. Knowing that those things are coming feel like they should make a difference in how it feels, but I’m often caught off guard with the waves of grief or the feeling of walking-through-mud as I take my next step forward.
I know my temptation in times like this is to try harder, to push myself to look like myself in seasons absent of transition. Yet, in recent years, gentleness has been the invitation to my heart again and again. I feel this invitation in this season, with the whisper that it’s okay to still be learning this. Arrival isn’t the goal anyway. This is a journey. Gentler, even gentler.
Part of that gentleness is not rushing this process, not flinging out words out of a place of pressure. I want to be kind to myself and faithful to the process of grief and tending to my own soul with the Lord. I want to be kind to you too, and share words that I know to be good and right and true. And that has made me quieter, in this space, on social media, on my blog. This isn’t always a comfortable place to land, but I know it to be what is the gentlest way for now. I’m trusting there will be more words, born out of a place of kindness on the other side of this. So for now, I’m waiting.
I’m so grateful for these words from Ashley Hales’ book, A Spacious Life. They feel like a gift to receive right now:
What is waiting is an invitation to see ourselves as children again, dependent on a good father? Waiting is good news: it is an invitation into a spacious life not the barrier to it. Waiting isn’t wasted time.
Hurrying ahead or taking things before they are ready and ripe for the taking is the habit of the orphan. Waiting is trusting that our normal human limits aren’t meant as defects but as guardrails that guide us to God.
So for now, I want to share with you 8 things that are saving my life right now*.
While not all things on this list are created equally, nor is this list exhaustive, yet I’m celebrating each and every one of them for the way they’ve helped me feel a little more like a person and extend a little gentleness to myself this spring.
*This phrase comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Leaving Church, which I highly recommend. She shares about a time where she is invited to speak on the things saving her life right now. Anne Bogel turned this into a regular prompt on her blog, which I’m happily borrowing here.
Car mints. On a whim a few months ago, I bought a small bag of Lifesavers’ Wintergreen mints and left them in my car. They were such a hit with everyone that I’ve since bought the party size bag to replenish my car stash whenever we run low. It seems like such a small thing, but to have an abundant supply of mints in the car has been better than I would have guessed it would be. It is such a joy-bringer.
Bouquets. This one could probably be on every “saving my life” list that I ever make, but it is not less true or appreciated. April brought tulips and daffodils to my vases and tables, and we’re onto wildflowers, clover & honeysuckle on neighborhood walks and the roses from my yard, while I wait for marigolds and zinnias that I planted from seeds.
Slime. As someone who is highly sensitive, I’ve always been aware of how different textures can impact for me the negative, but I’ve been recently noticing how the opposite is also true. I’ve learned there’s lots of slime textures (butter slime/cloud dough texture is dreamy!) and have found this to be a way to relax or ease some stress as I squish and squeeze. I’ll admit that I’ve always thought of this as something for kids, but I’m grateful to be discovering it all over again and enjoying it so much. It has felt like an invitation to rest and play lately.
The Message translation. When something’s familiar, it can be easy to miss the impact. It has been a gift to my heart to find a fresh way to receive powerful verses, creating space to go a little deeper with the Lord. For someone who grew up in church, certain verses can be easy for my brain to dismiss because of their familiarity. I’ve been so grateful for Eugene Peterson’s work with the Message Translation. I shared recently about how Isaiah 58:11 has been working its way into my heart these past weeks. Romans 8: 22-25 as a Lectio Divina on The Slow Word Movement podcast with Summer Gross has been on repeat as well. If you also find yourself in a season of waiting or transition, I invite you to make space to listen soon.
Changing how I write book reviews. Out of a lovely conversation with The Paper Ladies (my IRL book club), we collectively stumbled upon the idea of a book doctor, who writes book prescriptions. I loved the idea so much, and felt like it fit what I’m trying to do when I share book reviews online. I want to help people find the next book that might be right for them, and sharing the information that will be most helpful for figuring that out. Several other delightful parts of this conversation included the warning that The Poisonwood Bible shouldn’t ever be read on a plane (or anywhere that is physically uncomfortable) and the recommendation for the Nevermoor series if you’re going through a hard time. You can find my first reviews in this new format here for No Cure For Being Human, Awake & They Called Us Enemy.
Peony watch. I planted peonies three years ago, and this was the first year of any real buds. I squealed when I first saw the start of a bloom (to the point of my husband wondering where my injury was) and have been checking almost daily for the past few weeks. I’m so happy to report that these gorgeous flowers were worth the wait, and made all the sweeter with the anticipation. One is sitting beside me while I write this to you, and I had to pause to sniff and soak in the beauty all over again.
Crying when I’m triggered or upset. This one feels funny to share, since it never feels like it is saving my life when it is happening. I’ve been noticing in recently weeks that I’ll be triggered or very upset and feel the urge to cry. Usually this timing doesn’t feel terribly convenient for a good cry, and I don’t particularly want to make space for tears. I’ve had years of pushing aside unwanted tears, so to give them space when they appear is still something that feels uncomfortable, but also tremendously helpful. Yet, I’ve been listening to what my heart and body are asking for and letting myself cry in the moment, or as close to it as I can get. I’m amazed every time how much better I feel on the other side of the tears.
Rereading Try Softer. It was such a gift to be able to slowly make my way through the pages of Try Softer this spring in the company of other women through Table of the Beloved, the spiritual direction group I’ve been part of for the last two years.
This whole book by Aundi Kolber is an invitation to gentleness. I felt like even more was able to sink in as I created space to do it with others this time around. This is one of my favorite quotes that I ended up needing to watercolor:
"No matter how hard we try, we can't hate or shame ourselves into change. Only love can move us toward true growth. This is love given to us by a gentle, kind, compassion, good God-and the love we are invited to give ourselves too."
Dear friend, what is saving your life right now? Whether you’d like to share the list with me or just make it for yourself, I’d invite you to pay attention to what things are helping you feel like a person right now. I’d invite you to notice the gifts here.
And thanks for being here. It means so much that you want to read this letter. As always, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to just hit "reply" to this email. Whether you want to share a prayer request, your own saving-your-life list or if my words brought up anything for you, I’d be so glad to know.