lesson learned

I don't do resolutions. Not for New Year's, not for birthdays, not for new eras. I would, were it not for my raging authority issues. As soon as I resolve to do or not to do something, I become pretty determined to sabotage my efforts. Don't ask me why. I just don't like being bossed around, I guess.

It's just like the Yoga fiasco. Had I not made a public declaration of my intents, and had I not made a list of my goals with a deadline, I probably would have been able to accomplish all of those goals with little effort. But we all know that's not what happened.

My stomach, legs and arms are still flabby, if you're interested.

I learn a lot more in the situations and seasons I find myself in on accident than in those I resolve to experience. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl, so my "accidental" life experiences are the majority of my experiences. So, instead of listing the things I want to do or achieve in 2011, I'd rather write down the things I learned in 2010 that I just stumbled, tripped and hokey pokey-ed my way into.

1. I can be a writer if I want to be. That terrible sentence is just but a nugget of the writing fiend I obviously have a lot of work to do to become. Yikes. This is turning into the worst-written point of all. That's irony, right? Or a metaphor? Or maybe it's a onomatopoeia. Nope, that's what comic book writers use when Batman punches someone, isn't it? Anyway, I like to writes good.

This year, I decided not to give up on my dreams. Call me hokey if you must, but I was actually very close to walking away from what I think I've been called to do in this life because I was pretty sure it was an impossibility. I had a LOT of excuses, but it turns out, I didn't really like any of them. So, in 2010, I learned that giving up on my passions just isn't an option. It will take work and will be inconvenient, but dreams are earned. They aren't usually dropped on your lap with a *POOF* *BLAM* *POW* of fairy dust. My life is filled with very little fairy dust, but I will make up for it with persistence. And begging, if that's what it comes to.

2. I don't want all my kids to look like me. Adoption is something I've had on my mind for years, but until now was just a seedling. A giant adoption tree exploded in me this year. Weird visual. Sorry.

I have always thought it would be magical to have a child that was a miniature version of me - and it still sounds kind of nice. But after this year, it seems a lot more magical to look into the face of a little one who doesn't have a momma and vow to love them, squeeze them and cut up their chicken nuggets for the rest of their life. Or maybe until they're like 6. Then, they should probably learn to cut their own nuggets. But the squeezes are forever. The point here being that I can't imagine a bigger adventure and one equally agonizing and blissful than adoption. I don't know when we will be able to start the process, but my heart is already clearing space for a few sets of bunk-beds.

3. I like living in the 'Hood. This is big for me. I always thought I was flexible, patient and kind to everyone I met. But my world was small. I'm the product of a largely middle-class childhood. My parents were and are awesome (Hi, Mom and Dad!), we had what we needed, mostly had what we wanted and they loved us really well. I had experienced poverty and addiction and brokenness on short-term trips and conversations in college, but I had never been close to it.

When my hubby and I moved to Dallas, we got a taste. A huge mouthful, actually. And I freaked. But now, I'm in love. Taking short jaunts into the 'Hood when I was younger was a shot of reality, which was needed and good. But living here, loving our neighbors and being so generously loved by them is a constant IV drip of reality. It has given me perspective that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise, and I'm so thankful.

4. I'm a lucky woman. I've always loved my husband. But, this year, I LOVED him. For real. We've been married for 3.5 years, and they have been really hard. People talk about the honeymoon stage of a new marriage lasting through the first few years, but our honeymoon was over when we landed in Dallas after one carefree week in Kauai. We printed our pictures, and then real life came rudely barging in.

There have been a lot of times that we've both considered throwing in the towel and walking away. A lot of times. Somehow, we didn't. We've spent much of our marriage trying to convince each other, and ourselves, frankly, that walking away would have been a huge mistake. I have no idea if I've convinced him yet - I wouldn't try to speak for him - but he has convinced me. There's no way for me to compare, really, but I'm pretty certain that I'm the luckiest girl to have nabbed a man who:
has a secret dance with me. No, it's not dirty. It's just ours.
can sense when I need a bowl of ice cream, and who NEVER makes me scoop it myself.
will race to meet me at the door with a hug when I get home, and who mopes like nobody's business when I'm too slow to run to greet him. (For the record, it's usually because I'm tangled up in my pajama pants.)
has vowed to drop out of school or quit his job if it meant choosing between his dreams and our marriage.
makes being a grad student's sugar mama really easy by making dinner and cleaning our house when I work late nights - or regular nights.
understands my heart and doesn't feel the need to hesitate when it comes to telling me he loves me or making sure I feel beautiful and secure.
sees my passions and supports my pursuit of them, even if it means my head is almost always in the clouds.
has met every challenge our rickety house has thrown at him with patience and these really great, strong hands. There's something about a guy with a tool box, right?
This year, I looked at my husband objectively, beyond our past hurts, and finally let myself see how ridiculously he loves me. And it seriously makes me wonder if other married couples have dance parties. I really hope so.

5. I probably won't live forever. This year, I got a swift kick in the invincibility complex. You can read about it more here. I was given a very clear reminder (as in, it could be printed out in my EKG) that my life is fragile, and my heart is kind of spazzy. There is no guarantee for good health or more time or a second chance. I learned that NOW is the time to live the way I always assumed I would live later.

Dealing with this and wrestling with my significance here has brought me to a place where I can love wildly and without so much worry about perceptions, or perhaps unrequited friendships - probably my worst phobia, right behind butterflies. At the end of this thing, I'd like to be able to say that I gave everything and expected nothing. I want my life to be sprinkled with grace and pleasant surprises. Don't get me wrong... I'm not there yet. But I learned this year that it's more important that I put everything out on the table and risk embarrassment and vulnerability than to be lying in a hospital bed feeling like I'd missed the boat.

6. I found my first legitimate gray hair. This was not a lesson. This was just a bad day.

What did YOU learn in 2010??? Tell me, please!


  1. Really love your blog. Love that you love the 'hood. It shows in that last article you wrote. Your heart for people on the margins was all over the page. As for 2010 lessons, I learned that God is good even in the worst moments of life. Our youngest son, Patrick, developed a seizure disorder this fall. The burden of carrying autism and a seizure disorder seems like more than an 10 year old boy ought to carry, and I experienced a lot of fear and uncertainty about the future. God has been gracious to remind me about the importance of living one day at a time (Matthew 6:24) and not borrowing trouble from tomorrow. And He provided me a host of friends who remind me that life is for LIVING, in spite of the limitations or unexpected turns that come our way. So after 'holding our breath' for a couple of months making sure our son's seizure medication worked, I feel like we're back to truly living: swimming, playing golf, going to church, and doing all the things that make life feel full. I'm grateful that the joy of those moments remind me of just how good our God is and how much I have to be grateful for... Blessings and Psalm 147:10-11 - Ann Piper

  2. Pure, honest, truth. Your words make me laugh, cry and explode with excitement. It is extraordinary to watch you truly LIVING your life, Michelle. Thank you for so freely sharing it with us.

    I learned a few things in 2010, but this is the most important:

    It is excruciating to have my children in harm’s way. No matter where they are - a Dallas ‘Hood or deployed to a combat zone – I find myself holding my breath. That's what I tend to do. Literally. Hold my breath. When I quietly gasp for a bit of air, I realize I am doing it and just pray. That’s what I learned. Just pray. They are fine because God is in control and their hearts belong to Him. When I just pray, and give them over to Him in open hands, I can step back and watch them truly LIVE their lives. The lives they were called to live. Extraordinary…

  3. I learned that hokey-pokey can be used as a VERB!!! Who knew???? (that it could be a verb...and I could identify a verb :))

    I learned a new Gibbsism too...well more of a thought than a word. I was talking to my class a couple of weeks ago about doing what you love and loving what you do. We were talking about money and I thought "how much money do I make?" I couldn't remember and it dawned on me...You can only recall exactly how much you make if you are just working for the money. If you love what you're doing the money is just a bonus...I still have no clue how much I make (ADD kicked in before I could look it up).

    I learned that I LOVE earthquakes! I think that God uses them to remind us that there are things that are WAY bigger than us and that we can't control, so relax and enjoy the ride. I also learned that some people don't enjoy my attitude regarding quakes and think I'm wierd...so what else is new?

    I hate drywalling...just sayin'

    I learned that everybody needs that point in their lives when they are financially at their wits end, to prove to them that some things matter...and others really don't. I can still remember mine, it was on December 19th, 1997. The hard times reveal to us a new path, the "open window" to complement that "closed door."

    Hope you guys are going along fabulously. You'll both remember these days when you're old and (entirely) gray, so be sure to take mental notes :)


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