Friday, January 28, 2011

Stand Out

This morning came too quickly.

I woke at 5:12 am to find that Baron had finally vacated his spot at the bottom of the bed, so I could finally pull up the extra cover that I had been longing for all night. I pulled up the comforter and snuggled in ... for 2 minutes until my alarm clock beeped.

... or, more accurately, "until my alarm clock drummed" ... I use my phone as my alarm, and it has some of the most eclectic alarm noises (ring tones, I suppose) that I've ever heard. Currently, I am awakened by bongo drums. ... Anyhoo.

I lay in bed for a while, listening to Jon's even breathing, thanking God for a new day, and mentally rolling down the list of things that I had on my agenda for the next 16 hours. After a few minutes of this quiet, half-awake contemplation, Gracie spoke up ("brrrrrreeep, brrrrreep") and hopped onto my chest, reminding me, For goodness sake, Mama... some of us have been awake all night... and we're hungry!

I obliged, fumbling for my glasses & slippers in the dark, slipping out of bed in the cool quiet of the morning. I replenished the cats' food supply, poured a cup of coffee, stroked two silken heads (not necessarily in that order), and then, coffee cup & Gracie in tow, I headed upstairs for what has become a treasured morning routine.

Since the new year began, I have been waking early on weekdays so that I can take time in the morning for quiet reflection & journaling. I crawl into the guest bed (flannel sheets! down comforter! Yes, please!) with my spiral notebook, colored pens & Simple Abundance, and embark on a short but sweet 30 minutes of pure "me time". It has made all the difference in the world. Corny as it sounds, it really helps me to start my day off on the right foot, and it gives me the peace to make a graceful transition from "home-time" to "work-time".

And you know what's cool? One place where I can tangibly see this difference is in my Good Lists. I've found that taking time for morning devotions not only gives me strength for the rest of my day, it really allows the good stuff to stand out. Proof:

Good List:
  1. Jon, my wonderful husband. Even as we maneuver through the everyday "mundane-ities" and idiosyncrasies ...
  2. New beginnings.
  3. Sweet dreams of old friends.
  4. Surpassing my own expectations.
  5. Joe-Joes have returned to my life :)
  6. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling & the moldings around the windows, blessing the house & it's structure... remembering the magic of our first night here, when I lay awake praying, giving thanks for all the life that will fill these walls in the next 50 years ...
  7. Sunshine & Star*bucks coffee. Unplugging & withdrawing from the world so that I may draw closer to my Creator & bask in the creativity he has gifted me with.
  8. Date nights!
  9. Taking back my life :) This will be the year of dreaming and doing.
  10. "There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself." ~Ruth Stout
Your turn: What are you thankful for today? What tops your list of good things?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Faith Like a Child: How Lucas Saved Christmas

Sometimes I've just got so much that in my head that when I sit down to put it on paper… nothing comes out.

Do you know what I mean?

Sometimes there is just way too much that I want to say-- that I need to say-- and the wanting and needing gets all tangled up in the emotion and then the execution becomes absolutely ... well... exhausting. I've been thinking this post through for quite some time now-- as soon as I worked through it in my life I knew I'd like to write about it to gain some closure. But here I am. Tired and tongue-tied.

It's times like these where I really need to discipline myself to just sit down and let the words flow, rolling seamlessly from my thoughts onto the paper (or screen, as the case may be). ... And I've got a glass of red wine & a purring Gracie within arms reach, so I'm going to try. This may be some of the most raw, un-edited posting you will ever see from me -- But this is me. This is Real. And, ultimately... this is good.

I've always known that one of my biggest (okay... THE biggest) faults is that I'm impatient. I'm very "type A"... I like to have an idea of where things are going, and when I'm going to get there. I've had a basic life plan since I was 12, for crying out loud.

And I think this is why in November, at the age of 24, I felt totally blindsided when I woke up one day and realized that I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I mean, I really didn't know, and that was scary.

I guess from a lot of angles, it seemed like I'd all ready DONE everything. College? check. Get married? check. Buy a house? check. But when all was said and done, I felt empty. I felt lost, and I felt like there was something wrong with me. You see, the only problem with counting your blessings is that when you are able to recognize all the good things in your life and still feel lonely and sad, there's only one explanation for it.

Clearly, you've gone insane.

I didn't know what my problem was... I'm blessed to be married to my best friend... I am a contributing member in my workplace... I have a lovely home and two delightful (if sometimes badly behaved) cats to snuggle & fill my life with mirth. And yet-- there was this void. I was unhappy, and I didn't have a clue what to do to fix it. I felt like I was stuck in a rut so deep that I couldn't even see the sunshine. Honestly? I felt lonely.

Needless to say, I was definitely not in the holiday spirit. Not at all.

I tried to pull myself out of it ... I really did. I tried every trick in the book: I ate chocolate (my holiday baking did not suffer one iota...); I journaled (pages upon pages); I snuggled with Gracie (spending the better part of some weekends in bed); I exercised (running & I are totally back on, btw); I prayed constantly. And it became clear to me that I couldn't do this by myself. Something outside of me was going to have to intervene.

And on December 19, someone came into my life that was able to yank me out of myself and change my perspective.

On December 19, my nephew Lucas was born.

One memory I will always treasure about his birth day was how we celebrated. Oh, how we celebrated... You see: Lucas is a smart little man. He timed his arrival "just so", and everything fell into place so that a big group of us was together-- Jon & me, both sets of grandparents, Jon's sister from Texas, my parents. We had spent the morning performing the Messiah at Church, and were headed out to lunch together when J's father received the good news via text message (where would we be without technology, right?!) What followed was a celebration of life like I had never been a part of before. There was laughter and tears… and so much love.

I think it was in those moments that I woke up. It was like I had been in a fog for the past 6 weeks, passing through a dream world. I've got to tell you, it was the best wake-up call anyone could hope for. To wake to hugs and kisses & stories told over multiple cups of coffee; homegrown warmth and peace & comfort that only time with family can provide. And it clicked for me… settling deeply and unshakably in my soul: this is what the season was really about-- what life is all about. It isn't about achieving everything on your to-do list, and it certainly isn't about simply moving from point A to point B. My faith tells me that I am right here right now for a reason. My family's love gives me the courage to stand in that moment and own it, even when I haven't yet discovered the gift that I hold in my hands, even now. Their love gives me the strength to laugh in the face of fear-- to smile in the face of the unknown, because their love is the one thing that is constant and unwavering. Their love coupled with my faith gives me the determination to dig deep and stand stand firm on the ground of my "now"… and I know that when the time comes, their love will support & uphold me as I venture forth into new territory. If I cannot say anything else for myself at the end of my life (and, lets be honest, I really hope I can… I'm just sitting here waiting for my divine directive :), I know that if I have created and sustained this kind of family love, it will be enough.

In short, the day was absolutely perfect.

And furthermore, Lucas is perfect. Jon & I brought dinner to his parents (Jon's sister & her husband) several days later, and we got to meet him. ...And we got to hold him; to stroke his downy head and experience the warm weight of a baby in our arms. Together, we rejoiced quietly in all the possibilities that he holds- delighting in his smallness now; wondering at the man he will become.

And it was (and is) good.

A brief afterward: Something else that has been important for me to realize is that my soul seems to periodically experience these "winters" of angst and unrest. But, like the earthly season, the winters don't last-- they move gracefully into soft springs.As an optimist, I hold to the hope that someday the "winters" will simply cease to exist … but until that time I will give thanks for the wonderful people who have been put in my life to guide me as I grow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Odd numbers (or perhaps I should say, more correctly, "odd integers") have always fascinated me. If I'm asked to pick a number between 1 and 10, it will always be 3, 7 or 9. Always.

I think part of the reason why I love odd numbers is because they have such individuality to them. You cannot divide an odd number in half without obtaining a decimal answer-- it cannot be wholly divided and it retains parts of the original. And I think that's cool. It follows a basic truth that I have always believed about myself, so innately that I take it for granted most of the time: no matter where I am, what I'm doing, or what outside forces are acting on me to pull me in different directions, I am me. Unique and indivisible.

And all this goes to say, I'm pretty darn excited for 2011.

While I cannot begin to predict where all I'll be going this year (and, you know, part of me doesn't even want to try... aren't some of the best stories rooted in surprises and plans that did not work out exactly as projected?) there are a couple business items I would like to address, which will give you a general sense of direction for the next year.

For a long time now, I have been struggling with the idea of "finding my voice"-- which, when you boil it down, means finding what I'm really good at and doing it consistently. Finding my niche as a writer.

But you know... that's an awfully hard thing to do. And while I've been silent for the past month, I've been mulling this over and over and over. Searching the depths of my heart and soul to find the passion... to find the me that has been lurking below the surface this past year + of blogging, just waiting for her moment to shine.

And you know what? I think I've found her.

I won't go slapping a "label" on myself just yet (i.e.: this is a "blah blah" blog) ... although I have absolutely no qualms about saying, big picture, that this is a healthy living blog ... because I believe that healthy living is, above & beyond all else, about loving yourself and embracing all the possibilities of you-- truly living every moment. (...and that treating yourself right with exercise and nourishing, mouth-watering entrees is just the icing & sprinkles! on the cake.)

But, labeled or not, I do have some promises for you. Promises that will forge a new path for the coming year, and help to define "Amy Around the Corner" a little bit more.

Without further ado, I present to you:

My Blogger's Manifesto
  • I promise not to write just for the sake of writing, or to get up a certain number of posts per week. I promise you quality, and that everything I press publish on will be something I am proud of.
  • With that said, though, I promise you at least 2 posts per week.
  • I promise you honesty. I will not be a tease & say things like "I've been worried about some things" and then not tell you what. In my next post I will tell you exactly what I've been dealing with this past month... and how it played out. Writing honestly means that not every post is going to be dripping with sunshine & butterflies (although, in the spirit of honesty, I admit to you that I am an optimist.... so there will be a decent amount of sunshine) -- I am going to write about things that I struggle with, because I believe that somewhere out there, someone else has dealt with the same thing.
  • I promise you pictures :) I do not promise you LOTS of pictures, or gallery quality pictures. But I will give (& take, hehe) more pictures this year.
  • And finally, I promise you that the good lists will keep on coming :) Creating them is such a treasured ritual to me... and I think that they are becoming an integral part of my voice here. I love to share them with you. The lists speak from my heart; sometimes more eloquently than any essay ever could.
Won't you join me on this new journey in the new year? I'm thinking 2011 is going to be pretty wonderful :)

(Hello, bloggies! I've missed you!)