Friday, October 30, 2015

autumn in the mountains

As I type this post, the last of the autumn leaves are falling and frost greets us in the mornings. What magic has transpired here in the mountains with the changing of seasons! It's a treat to experience very precise seasonal transitions.

September was a very long and grueling month. On top of adjusting to my new job, my health seemed to fail me nearly every waking hour. My anxiety and moods were a roller coaster and I felt pretty darn desperate for answers! It was during my time at a gloriously relaxing local massage center that I experienced an answer to my health struggles, which then led me to a chiropractor here in town by the beginning of October. Five chiropractic adjustments later, I have experienced that tingling of fresh hope. Some of the inflammation in my body has become a bit more manageable and my chiropractor says I'm a little easier to adjust each time I visit him. Apparently, I've been a locked up in my upper back/chest, with a misaligned pelvic/hip, and a great deal of inflammation across my entire back, chest, and neck. This has affected my adrenal glands, kidneys, my ability to function through small daily tasks, and probably more that I'm not aware of. I'm trying to be mindful of my physical limits, as well as work on building strength in my core and arms. As I've come to accept, there is no one to blame for this but myself as I have pushed myself beyond my physical and emotional limits these past two years. I have done things I should have never done. But I could not have foreseen this as I had lost myself for awhile there...indeed, I nearly gave up on hoping. I was caught in a cycle of surviving and completing daily tasks as a means of coping through my losses and heartbreaks. Now, I'm trying to regain strength in my overworked physical body, but also in my heart and spirit. It is still a long road to travel with becoming healthy again, but now I have found something I could not see before: Hope. 

Life can be devastating. But it moves forward, almost mercilessly at times. Yet, we need it to keep moving forward, to continue its usual mundane course. We need to know there will be a tomorrow, the sun will rise, and the seasons will change, and all will continue on its usual cycle. After loss and repeated hard circumstances, the human mind becomes wired to expect the end of a thing. There are no new beginnings, there are no second chances. The mind only anticipates the end. And that is all I have expected out of everything good. A new job, a new living situation, a positive doesn't matter, I just anticipate that it will be taken away, that nothing is permanent. In truth, there is no permanence here on earth, but we're not meant to live in dreaded anticipation of this, as I have been. As I have watched the seasons change here in Durango, I feel an odd mixture of sadness and comfort. The transformation of summer into fall has reminded me that there is a permanence and purpose to the rhythm and order of the changes. There is consolation in the fact that seasons come and go again and again. That order is a reminder that there is a time for everything under the sun. And through each of those times, no matter how long or how short, everything is and will be made beautiful by the hands of our Creator.

I've really needed stability in my life again. Stability of a place to call my own, a job that gives me a routine, relationships that aren't always marked by emotional highs and lows, and a chance just to live life where I am planted without any traumatic hindrances. I am not promised stability from anyone or anything on this earth. For years, I did assume the stability of my early life would continue on as it always had. The waves of life have thrown me against the Rock of Ages, but not without dragging me out to sea again and again, engulfing me in its cold and desperate torrent, thrashing me over and over with its force. And I, becoming more and more limp with each wave, not even bothering to push myself towards the One who stood in the center of it all. The physical pain in my body has been humbling in that I have crumpled beneath the force of my self-will and am, once again, in very small ways, wanting to trust my Father again. I am not quite sure how long my state of humility will last (haha!), but I am trying to trust Him in my own way. He, always whispering, "My child, in whom I am well-pleased. You make Me so proud." I know that's all I need to hear each day, over and over and over and over again. All my bitterness aside, I wonder...maybe in all those years of wanting to be great for Him, to be an exemplary Christian and prayer warrior that is well-studied in the Word, to live the "victorious" Christian life, I completely and utterly overlooked the small for the great. That would seem very much in my character. I was told that as a baby, I wanted to walk before I could barely crawl. My parents sensed an impatient and over-achieving nature in me from a very young age and it has only increased over the years. I do wonder now that all those things I listed above, those "great" things I thought a Christian should want to be, are, in fact, not even what our Father wants for us. I feel so stupid to ask Him this now, but maybe that's the best way to approach Him - in my own stupidity. Father, who do You want me to be? What do You have in mind for my life here?

These days, I am beginning to view life a lot more simply, to not take myself so seriously, and to focus only what I am capable of focusing on here in the present. I suppose I find a stability and security in this simplicity of focus. It feels good, to be honest. I'm beginning to not expect more out of myself, others, or God. I'm slowly (very slowly, ahem!) learning to rest even in my restlessness, if that makes sense! 

I'm not the same young woman I was nearly two years ago when I said goodbye to my home of 24 years in the Phoenix valley. Personality and unique personal quirks don't change much, but minds can be stretched, hearts can be broken, and bodies can become worn down as mine have been. That will change one's inner spirit, attitude, and mindset. Sometimes...well, many times, I have thought I have been changing for the worse. I will often endure many circumstantial and outward changes for a long time, but when it's my inward being that begins to experience monumental transformations, I am not quite so accepting of it. Watching and feeling myself becoming something other than what I was has been the most terrifying process. There are days still when I mourn the loss of who I knew myself to be before all this. It's not that my husband, family, or God have not been accepting of me...quite the contrary, they have loved me with open arms! It's myself that has not accepted. Long story short, I am learning a proper view and relationship towards myself. It sounds odd; I can't quite explain why I am this way. I can only ascribe it to that little over-achiever in me that wanted to always be something different and beyond who God made me. A little girl who just wanted to be so beyond great and talented and perfect. It's strange and humorous the patterns you begin to recognize in yourself. 

The end of this autumn season brought a most wonderful gift to me this past weekend - my sister and cousin (aka my second sister)! A wedding of a mutual friend united us for a short weekend and it was pretty grand (even through lost sleep and my aching body) to just have our usual "trio time" (as we call it, hehe!). In addition to this, my job as a preschool teacher aide has been going well and becoming more of a routine. I have been asked to consider becoming teacher qualified for the preschool and I sense some good (albeit challenging!) things are on the horizon in my work there. At home, my husband and I are still navigating through work stresses, the ups and downs of it all, and discovering ways to settle into our new life here in Colorado. We're at a place in our marriage where we more quickly voice our needs and are more honest in an up-front, but gentle and firm way. We've been through a lot in our almost 3 years of marriage. It feels like we took a high-speed intensive learning course on conflict, communication, and resolve - haha! In reality, we just sank deeper into Grace and that has meant everything in how we relate to one another. :) He and I are also experiencing the blessing of making our apartment a home we enjoy coming home to at the end of the day. I tend to dwell quite a bit on the hard days we've experienced the past few months with all the stresses and transitions, but when I am being honest with myself, there is nothing that brings me more satisfaction then my husband and I praying together at the end of the day. That is happiness.

A few weekends ago, we took a day trip to Silverton (my first visit there!), which was one of the most laid back and quiet little towns I have ever visited. We dined at an old saloon bar that welcomed us in with ragtime tunes being played by a gentleman on a very old piano. I don't know if Colorado is my "forever home," but it's pretty grand here. Never have I met so many compassionate and empathetic people in one area. From my massage therapist, chiropractor, herbalists, shop owners, to my coworkers at the preschool...I feel accepted here! That is something I am so grateful for. It's not even that I have made friends with these people, yet. These are just individuals that I run into or see on a daily or weekly basis. I feel comfortable with them because they are so non-judgmental. It is pure refreshment!

I close with some of my captures from this past month - taken with my new 50mm lens, which I am absolutely enjoying!

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