Cry me a river.

13. What always brings tears to your eyes?

I gotta say, I’m not a crier. It takes a lot to get me to cry. Unless I’m PMSing, then I cry at like everything, so let’s not count that, k.

  1. The end of Return of the King.

    Are you kidding me? I can’t handle Sam’s face. Frodo’s strength. So by “brings tears to your eyes” this one for me is more like “sobs like a child”

  2. The music that goes with THAT part of the movie. (Seriously, I just listened to it and thought I could get through it. I can’t.) Listen to it, I dare you. It’s called “The Grey Havens.” Oh you didn’t cry? Monster.
  3. Also this part of Fellowship of the King…

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4. “Always.”

5. The last few pages of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Also all the movie trailers for it.

6. The death scene of Romeo and Juliet. (Reading mostly, but sometimes watching one of the movie versions.)

7. My wedding vows.
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8. Other people’s wedding vows. -Seriously, I am a MESS at other people’s weddings.

I might edit this as I think of things… but 8 it is.. Don’t judge me, y’all.

 

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Nothing. Everything.

12. Name what is enough for you

I chewed on this for a long time because I kept coming up with an answer that isn’t pretty. I guess I thought if I thought for long enough and avoided this prompt for long enough I wouldn’t have to share the real, raw, ugly truth of my answer. Answering this requires a lot of vulnerability from me, because you might not like the answer. But I’m going to Dare Greatly and tell you the truth:

Nothing.

Nothing is enough for me.

And that is a problem.

I am not enough for me. No amount of sunshine or coffee is enough for me. No amount of ice cream or pizza or steak or potatoes. There are not enough hours in a day. There is not enough time with my friends. There is not enough time with my husband. There was not enough effort on my part. There was not enough emotion in that text or thought in the other one. The project wasn’t done well enough. There weren’t enough people there. The colors aren’t bright enough. Nothing. Nothing is enough.

And this is so scary for me to say because what if someone I love reads this and thinks, “Am I not enough for Liz?” because the answer is YOU ARE ENOUGH! Really- I almost wrote this on how other people, about how YOU, are enough for me. Because I would never tell someone they aren’t enough. I have no trouble seeing other people and their ‘enough’-ness. But I cannot see my own. And the way I see the world, except for other people, there is never enough.

But I wanted to write this, because it’s something I am working through. And have been for a long time.

I have a lot of journals. I’ve been keeping a diary in some form since 1st grade. It started with a little Hello, Kitty journal from 1996, but I got more serious in 3rd grade. Like- “Dear Diary” and I wrote down everything and I journaled through elementary, middle, and high school. I journaled through the start of college but it turned into “prayer journals” when I was a freshman at some point. I was on a women’s retreat with my mom and the speaker during her first session had us trace our hand on the paper and write “I am enough” in the middle of the palm. I did not believe that at the time at all. Not one tiny little sliver of belief. What a journey those three words started. I eventually discovered that who I am is enough, which is a much longer story, so it’s at my core, but somehow Not Enough still silently dictates almost every aspect of my life.

A perfectionist to my core, ENOUGH, is a scary word. It has an air of finality. It implies completion and DONE. It implies that no more or no less is needed. And it a way, that is scary to me. Enough is the opposite of scarcity. The book I’m reading, Daring Greatly, talks about this at length. That we have a culture of “never enough” and scarcity and fear, and the solution is believing we are enough. That’s it. We just have to believe.

One of my favorite snippets of dialogue goes like this:
Alice: “This is impossible.”
Mad Hatter: “Only if you believe it is.”

I mention that because I know, that I know, that I know that if I believe in the core of who I am that I am enough, then that is it, I will be enough. If I believe that what I have in my hands, what I see with my eyes, the time I am given, the amount of sunshine in a day, the coffee in the cup I have, if I believe all that is enough, then it will be enough. I can overcome the ‘never-good-enoughs’ I hear all day long.

But oh gosh it is so easy to cling to the security blanket of Never-Enough. It’s safe to complain and still attempt perfection. It is not healthy, but it’s all I’ve known. And I know it’s not okay. And I know it’s not what God wants for me. It’s not what I want for me. I want enough. I want to believe every day, all day that I am enough, that this day is enough, that it is all ENOUGH. God says I am enough. And in the very depths of me, I believe that and I stand on that. But I am not very good at living it out.

I want my answer to be EVERYTHING. Everything is enough! But I’m not there yet.

 

 

Happiness is…

12. Name what is enough for you

Confession time. I am a very impatient person.

I hate driving behind people who slow down to go through the EZ Pass express lane. If I have to wait for than 3 minutes to get through the drive thru at Starbucks, I groan and think how I should have just gone inside to begin with. I especially hate having to wait behind more than one or two people at the grocery store.

tumblr_mbgckbH8rj1riqizno1_500When someone has a tendency to include what I deem too many details for a story, I zone out and don’t hear what they’re saying because I think it should be said quicker. I get the itch to move across the country about three times a year because I don’t like having to stay in one place for a long period of time. I’ll let friendships drift apart when I no longer want to deal with a person’s quirks that I find really annoying. (I know- it’s not pretty.)

I know I’m not the only person who would say they struggle with being impatient. In fact, I hear it a lot:

“I can’t wait to get that promotion.”

“I know I’ll be so much happier if I could just lose those extra five pounds.”

“All I want right now is to get married… have kids, etc.”

“If I just had X, I would be good.”

There’s always something better out there. There’s always a next thing we’re looking forward to. I used to be that sort of person. The sort of person who looks forward more to what’s next instead of enjoying what’s now. I won’t sit here and say I’m completely over it because I do still struggle with this, but I will say I’ve come a long way in this area.

It’s caused me to do a lot of self-reflection (and even more journaling) to figure out just what it would take for me to be happy with where I’m at. Here I go breaking some more introvert stereotypes, but I know now what I would consider to be enough for me.

Relationships. 

That’s it. I need people. People who aren’t afraid to be honest with me and tell me when I’m being a brat about something. People I can laugh with until my sides hurt and tears are streaming down my face. People I can call when something bad happens and show up at my door 30 minutes later with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. People I can debate life’s great questions with or sit and be quiet with.

When I have that and really take the time to cultivate those relationships, nothing else really matters. I don’t spend as much time thinking about the next best thing that’s going to happen. I spend a lot less time thinking about me in general and focus more energy on loving those around me. I become less selfish because I realize I have everything I need right where I’m at.

I have people, and that’s enough.

 

Hello from the other side

11. If I could talk to my teenage self, I would say…

Dear Alyssa,

Hi, it’s me. Or you. I have some things I want to tell you, and while I know you think you have it put together (you do sometimes), just listen for a minute. I’m going to tell you some of the things I wish I had known back then. Some things I won’t tell you just because there’s important stuff you’ll need to go through to really learn, but I’ll do my best.

Take more time to be a kid. I know there’s a lot going on between church, school, coaching, and you starting to work when you’re 16, but try to relax. Take more days to go to the creek, have water gun fights, kayak, drive to the beach… I think you get it. You’ll look back and wish you had done more of that.

While we’re on the subject of the myriad of activities you find yourself involved in, take a chill pill. Yes, doing your best is important, but stop feeling guilty when you don’t get an A on your next paper or when you have to say no to something that, if we’re being honest, you really don’t want to do anyway. It’s okay to not be perfect.

Let’s talk about Aaron because this is a big one. Don’t let him get to you so much. I know he can be a jerk, but there’s a lot going on there you don’t see yet. Find a better way to deal with him even that means walking away at times. Trust me, it ends up being one of the better ways to handle his mood swings. Do your best to show him more grace than he deserves. Oh- and let him hang out with you and your friends sometimes.

I know you love your parents, especially dad. But I’m gonna ask you to show a little more respect to mom. I know you don’t understand her and she can be confusing and doesn’t really talk the way you and dad do, but she’s still your mom. Suck it up and go shopping with her more just because it’s what she likes and take the time to look at things from her perspective more often.

Don’t be afraid to keep in touch with your friends you make right now. I know you’re used to leaving, but you’re gonna be here for a while, so you need to keep those connections. Some of the girls will be mean and nasty, but that’s just their thing. I promise you’ll be able to laugh about it one day. There’s something really special about those friends you’ve had for 10+ years. You’ll want to hold onto them.

Finally, don’t let people make you bitter. There are going to be things coming that hurt you pretty bad, but the most important thing is they don’t change who you are at your core. Love the people anyway. See that they have more going on and aren’t perfect and that’s okay. It’s okay to be hurt and cry and get angry about this stuff- just make sure you actively forgive when it’s over.

Good luck, kid,

24 yr old me

 

Hey, it’s me.

11. If I could talk to my teenage self, I would say…

Dear Liz,

It’s me, Liz. 27 year old me. I know you thought by this time we would be much skinnier and have long flowy hair that was always perfectly curled and be married for at least 4 years at this point and possibly have a kid. You know? Those things we thought were the best parts of being 27. I’ve only been 27 for a couple of months, but so far so good! Just maybe different than what we imagined at the age you’re reading this. I don’t want to spoil anything, although I know how much you wish you knew ‘the ending’ – I still wish I knew that. But I have a few things I do want to say that won’t spoil any of the great adventures you’re coming up to.

He’s coming. Not when you want him to, and he won’t be what you expect. But you won’t spend your life alone. I promise you’ll get married and one day a man will look at you the way you’re dreaming of. In the mean time, please chill out with trying to win the affection of every guy who looks at you. You’re going to look back on this part of your life and I know you’ll be deeply ashamed. Just spend more time with your friends and read a few more books.

Be nicer to Mom and Dad. I wish you understood what I do now, people are a product of their environment. Sure, we can change and grow and be different in time, but Mom & Dad are raising you the best way they know how. They’re making decisions they believe will keep you safe, healthy, and happy. And that’s what they want for you- to be happy. They are not great with their emotions, don’t expect them to be lovey and touchy like other parents, and don’t expect them to be like the parents in the books you read about. Accept them as they are. And stop yelling at them and getting angry at them. I get it, emotions and hormones. But try being honest, telling them how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Productive, mature conversations would benefit everyone in the house.

Paying bills is hard. It’s also expensive. Being an adult is expensive. Being an adult with kids is expensive. Cut Mom & Dad some slack about the money thing. They’re probably stressed to tears with it, and you’re being a snot. Work some extra hours and be grateful that you live above the poverty line.

Stop making fun of Danny and Michael. Michael isn’t his boyfriend. And later you’ll regret teasing him about that.

Be nicer to Madison. She’s a lot sweeter than she is annoying.

Please eat healthier. I know you love crunchy, salty snacks- we still do- but losing weight at your age is much easier than mine. I wish now that I had started eating healthier at your age, so please, do us a favor and pick up a salad.

Good friends are really hard to find and keep. I know you know that by now. That problem doesn’t go away when you get to be this age. But I promise when you find the good ones, they’re really good. And no, there isn’t anything wrong with you that they don’t want to be your friend. They just suck. Girls your age suck. Just keeping being you and doing you and you’ll get some really amazing friends along the way. I promise.

Last thought – learn some self love. This is a battle that took so long for us. We still struggle with it, but it’s easier now. Just be kind to yourself, don’t talk to us so negatively or harshly. Just practice being kind to others, and yourself. We’ll be glad you started when you did.

Best of luck,
Me

Life’s ups and downs

10. Discuss something you planned that ended up not being what you expected

Wowza. Do you have 72 hours? Because that’s how long I’m estimating it will take for me to tell you all the things that are different now than what I expected. Relax- I’ll save you some time and my fingers some arthritis and pick just one.

One of the things our society seems to be fascinated with when it comes to other people is their occupation. It’s a rarity these days you can meet someone new and not be asked what you do. I think it’s because people tend to find value more in what they do, instead of who they are, but that’s just one woman’s opinion.

My job isn’t that odd of one- I’m a general manager for a local business. Pretty standard as jobs go. The different part about it is it’s a garage door business. I can picture your face now- it’s the same one I get when I tell other people. It’s the look you give a little kid when they bring you a mud pie to eat: try to look understanding, smile, nod, insert a bit of confusion.

Trust me, I get it. Garage doors. Most people don’t even think about them in terms of business. Seriously- who thinks of that? Luckily for me, my dad did. You see, the garage door business is the only one I’ve ever known. My parents started their own company before I was born, and it’s grown into a national franchise with eighty locations across the country. (They’re kind of a big deal.) It’s an industry he loves and is incredibly passionate about. I’m talking helping orphans in Africa level of passion here. I just never wanted anything to do with it.

If you were to ask me at any point growing up, what I wanted to do when I got older, you would have gotten a myriad of answers that ranged from youth pastor to teacher to doctor (that was before I realized my hatred for biology) to social worker. I was all over the place, but the one thing I never said was taking over the family business.

I wanted something more glamorous than garage doors. Something that made a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to work for a big non-profit and change the world while still getting a paycheck. I didn’t want to work in the garage door industry, but we all know how God likes to be funny and put us in places we never saw ourselves in, and that’s just what he did.

Through some random circumstances, I ended up moving back to the northeast when I was 19 to start working with my dad. I drove in on a Saturday and was at work the following Monday. Let me tell you- the first couple years were SO. HARD. My dad and I fought a lot. I cried a lot. I questioned what I was doing with my life over and over again. I couldn’t seem to remind myself the reasons I came back in the first place. I applied for several other jobs and never got an interview (a first for me), so I started praying even harder.

“God, this isn’t where I want to be, so get me out.” Not the most sophisticated or mature of prayers, and I get that, but it’s where my heart was at. It wasn’t until probably about two years into working with my dad that I realized maybe the problem wasn’t the job, but my attitude. So I changed my prayer to “God, show me why you have me here,” and gosh, I’m so glad I did.

I was finally able to see that no matter what business you’re in, you’re always in the people business, which, if you couldn’t tell by my list of dream jobs, is kind of my thing. I heard stories from customers that would make the Grinch well up tears. I was able to see the lives of the employees getting better because of changes we were able to make for them.

My job had turned into something beautiful. Though it was probably always beautiful, and I just didn’t take the time to see it.

 

Can I phone a friend?

9. Your favorite moment of the day and your least favorite moment of the day.

I’ll be honest- I have not been looking forward to writing this post. I knew it was coming, and I’ve been putting it off like it’s my job. I even debated whether or not to use our “freebie” prompt- one we came up with in case we really get stuck on one topic and didn’t want to write it.

The reason I’ve struggled with it is because every day I have a different answer. Ask me on a Monday? My favorite part is getting home from work and least favorite is the morning in general. Wednesday? Completely different story. I don’t like that I don’t have a set answer. I prefer to know where I stand on any given topic, and if I’m not sure, I’m probably not going to open my mouth.

Having to wrestle through which answer I want to give has forced me to look at it in a new light. It’s forced me to think maybe I don’t have to have an answer for every question that comes my way. Obviously, I’m talking about this particular post at the moment, but I even mean in other areas.

I’ve been put in positions throughout my life where I felt like I needed to be the person with all the answers. Being the older sibling, leading small groups, being a trainer/supervisor at every job I’ve had- people expected me to know what was going on. But being older or in charge doesn’t automatically give you all the answers, and it’s been a huge struggle of mine to learn to be okay with that.

I find myself in situations where people ask me questions, and my first response is wanting to use a lifeline and get someone else to answer for me. We all know that’s not how life works, but it sure would be nice.

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I’ve had to learn to make myself comfortable with the unknowns life throws our way. Whether it’s waiting for an opportunity for a new job or wondering if the person you’re dating is who you’ll spend the rest of your life with. It’s all hard. It’s all confusing, and it’s all messy.

When I think about the people who have made an impact on my life over the years, I don’t think about how they had all the answers. Instead, I find myself grateful that they were just there. Sometimes they had good things to say, I’m sure, but I couldn’t tell you now what they were.

I think about them letting me struggle through the questions I had. They listened to me rant about what I didn’t understand. They comforted me and let me be vulnerable without judgement.

So, I don’t know what my favorite and least favorite moment of the day is, and while there’s part of me that wishes I did. There’s a bigger part that’s okay that I don’t.