Story Matters

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I used to think I had it all together.

Of course I would have never admitted that. That would not be a humble answer. I also don’t even think I really was that self aware of this fact.

I think I functioned that way though, or tried to. In my dishonesty with myself, I thought that I was in control of more of my life, immune to many sins, and not fully owning certain character flaws.

I love an artist called Patty Griffin and she has a song entitled Don’t Let Me Die in Florida. I hate Florida. I resonated with the song the moment I heard it.

It’s frickin’ hot.

Florida is full of holiday goers and half a yearers’ who’ve left their roots for sand and golf, which in my opinion gives it a transient culture-less feel. I did the college “spring breaks” to certain Florida beaches and I was not impressed with the tack.

To top it off, Florida is full of alligators, cockroaches and an assortment of other creatures that could eat or terrorize you. (I have lived in the UK a long time and I keep switching.. terrorize? Terrorise? Which is it?)

No sir. Florida was not for me.

Which is why my move to Florida for this year has been filled with such horror by me and amusement by those who know me.

I am on a great leadership program for work. Coming here was not my first choice though. It was a brought on by hard circumstances.

In the kind of leadership we are looking at, the way to lead is to lead from your brokenness, and honesty. It has been a year of exploring your story.

Now, coaches and personal development plans and every kind of leadership tool you can imagine are drawn in to our lives. (ENFP, Strategic, Woo, Ideation, something, something Strengths Finder, Enneagram 2 wing 3 and a Berkman analysis that is still over my head if ANY of that makes sense to you and you love all of those business development tools created by social scientists and psychologists!)

But the meat of the year has been story. My story. Everyone else’s story. Looking honestly at story. Owning story.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am shaped by story. So is everyone else. And you know what?

I don’t have it all together.

It’s been a rude wake up call. I didn’t start to realize that this year. But this year I have had the time and space to explore that more. What’s worse is I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went. I try to make life function and work well and I do it in ways that will hurt others and myself.

Story matters.

What life events have shaped who you are and how you relate to others, yourself, God, the Gospel?

I know some of this will make no sense to the non-God followers who read. Keep reading. (Please? I mean you don’t have to!) I promise my rambles are applicable to you too.

Awakening Sardis is a phrase that lodged itself in my head a long time ago and I bring it with me. It’s about waking up from deadness and finding real life. My year of story exploring has only just started to open up my mind to how much we need that. All of us do, so desperately.

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I didn’t want to stop writing..

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I wasn’t planning to stop writing.

It just happened.

I had no idea how prophetic to my very near future this post would be.

When I wrote it, I was not planning to stop writing for over a year.

I wasn’t planning on stopping everything creative.

Art, music, dance, writing were all getting difficult when I penned those words fourteen months ago. Life had been amassing a strange amount of suffering that seemed to mount and get worse as each month passed, in every area of my life. It was strange to experience the havoc it rained on my creative outlets. Normally a good amount of melancholy is GREAT for creating. Especially writing songs.

But when I wrote that post, I had not experienced the worst of the betrayals yet. I had not had my breath taken away.

Just yet.

But it came, just a short time after writing my questions about art and honesty. How do you be a transparent artist when life is hard? How do you write about real things when they affect other people? How do you create when there is a type of pain that kills creativity?

My answer became “sometimes I can’t.” And all the writing, public and private, as well as the music, stopped.

One of my best friends quoted “Bye Bye American Pie” in his graduation speech (or at least I remember, he wanted to.. did that happen? I forget!) a long time ago. I have no idea what it had to do with graduation or why he tried so hard to get it into his speech. In an odd familiarity, I felt that line: “the day the music died” came to life for me last year.

A bunch of rock and roll legends didn’t get taken out of music last year. Instead, a very small time guitar player put her instruments, songs, and writing habits on hold and didn’t touch them again for a long time.

I always thought people who swore sounded rather stupid. It was this arrogance that kept me with a squeaky clean vocabulary for most of my life.

I discovered swearwords. Sometimes pain is so much that you will give up expressing yourself for a long time in anything other than swearwords. I became one of the stupid people.

But now, I am back. I probably won’t tell you much. I’m still one of the stupid people. Nothing is fixed. The pain is less but still there and more faceted than I knew last year. I am aware of more loss than when the lost moments happened. I am going to try to start writing again however.

It’s Easter. Easter is about resurrection and hope. Resurrection is what I have needed the last 14 months.

I need resurrection and hope in my life and I can’t conjure them up myself.

Oh, and welcome to my new domain. Thanks for joining me as I emerge from a really long creative nap.