a fast.

I've never tried a fast before, but I've been re-reading Shauna Niequist's Bittersweet, and it seems like the right thing to do right now. I love what she writes because it speaks to me exactly where I am at this moment:
"And then all at once, Aaron said he wanted - or rather needed - to fast, the spiritual discipline of going without food for a specific amount of time as a way of trusting God's provision and creating silence and space for prayer. He said he needed to do something to honor God's role in all this and to prepare himself as best he could for a new future...

Some people are connected enough with God on a day-to-day basis to go without fasting. Some people weather major life changes with aplomb and Pilates and vegetables, just like how they live the rest of their orderly, lovely lives. I, however, was feeling totally untethered to God or anything else and wanted to find a way to connect once again to the things that matter to me. 
Fasting was a move of desperation."

Lately, I've been carrying my anger around like a shield. I've been waking up at 4 am, overwhelmed with anxiety and dread. Every other phrase out of my mouth has been a complaint about one thing or the other. And my thoughts? I've killed people with my thoughts, hating them for things like clipping their fingernails on the subway and letting their baby go poop in the street. I've rewarded myself with Starbucks, strawberry margaritas, and glasses of both red and white for "making it through the day" when actually I haven't deserved a reward at all.  Enough hasn't been enough, and I don't want to carry my currently bitter, resentful, selfish and fearful self into the next season of visits from family and friends, celebrations, and weddings.

So from today until the afternoon of June 6, when the fam arrives, I'm on a fast of sorts. A work day fast. I'm fasting from caffeine, alcohol, sugar, most dairy, and anything that I didn't prepare with my own hands. Basically, I'm fasting from all of my "treats." I'm eating breakfast in the morning, usually fruit with plain yogurt and cinnamon or oatmeal with almond milk, but from 6:45 am until dinner (around 8 pm), I'm only drinking juice, water, and green tea. I'm planning on simply-prepared vegetables and grains (maybe some fresh seeded baguettes or organic brown rice) for dinner - mostly raw, nothing cooked in butter or too much oil. I'm reading scripture every morning and evening, and my set prayer times are at 8 am, noon, and 4 pm.

Last night, when I made the decision to fast, I felt so much more peaceful, almost immediately.  Dave and I went out to a last supper of sorts, and it was delicious - the drinks, the food, the company. I made juice when we got home and stuck it in the freezer for today's "lunch." It's 10 am now. My stomach is already churning from hunger and my head feels a little unsettled without my normal caffeine stabilizers, but surprisingly, I think I'm doing ok. Less cranky, less angry, less impatient. Less. My prayers have already changed from, "Why??? Help me!" to "Thank you for the amazing friends who have gone out of their way to connect with me today." Fasting for me is about an attitude reset, about going without those unintentionally superficial life-fillers, and about preparing myself for the future. Less is less. Less is enough.

fighting words.

I made this as a reminder for myself more anything. It was an assignment for the Illustrator 101 class that I'm taking, but keep it as my desktop background, and I repeat it to myself every time I log into my computer.

I've never needed this reminder more than I do right now. Because right now is hard. Like, it feels like there is so much that is wrong with my world right now, kind of hard. Earlier this year was a season of perpetual gratefulness. Gratitude for the little things got me through the day. Now, that's not enough. It's a new season. It's a season for strength and bravery and courage. Fighting words.

I'm terrified about what this time of my life means, and I'm terrified about the future.

I hope that I can look back on this season and see that I didn't back down or give up. I pushed. I fought. I wiped away the sweat. I persevered. I risked. I didn't look back. I hope that I can look back and see that I wasn't alone. That there was an army behind me and around me and above me.

But right now, this mantra is all. Be strong. And courageous.

monday mornings.

Almost every Monday morning before I start teaching, I go on a walk to the Starbucks down the street.
The walk is less for the Starbucks and more for mental preparation for the week.
As I walk, sweating - because it's already 85 degrees and humid outside and I have about 15 pounds in my backpack, I say prayers that mostly sound like internal moans:

Lord, how am I going to make it through this day?
How am I going to make it through this week?
And progressively whinier, how am I going to make it through the 27 days (counting off the calendar like I'm serving a prison sentence) of this horrible, torturous employment contract?
Why did I think this was a good idea???

Somehow, I've made it through the last months when I didn't think I would, and maybe this is just the final painful push to the finish line. I'm pretty sure it's a character-building exercise that I'm failing. But I for sure know that there is a reason for a Starbucks in every corner of the world. Because that perfectly made iced caramel macchiato and the walk with God along the way are two of the few things keeping me sane.