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Letters From Grace

24 May

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Once upon a time, my therapist suggested I start writing letters to myself from grace.

It makes sense.

I am a words person. A words of affirmation person. A words-are-the-best-thing-in-life person.

It makes sense I should be writing to myself.

Grace is a very new second language to me. It is unnatural and uncomfortable and sometimes I forget I ever started to learn it in the first place.

And so I practice with words.

April 20th

Hey there.

Wow.

OK.

You know that was beyond you, right?

Like, that was a tsunami. An earthquake.

And you are human. You were swallowed whole.

Be gentle with yourself in the aftermath. Treat yourself like a friend who survived something tough.

What do you need?

What can you give yourself right now?

Even some kind words like

I still like you

or

I still love you, too

You’re doing WAY better than you think you are.

xo

Grace

I don’t know how to transition this part of the blog post.

I’ve tried.

Again and again and again.

I’ve tried so hard that I started to wonder what grace would say about it. Would it tell me to just publish the mess and give myself grace?

Or would it tell me to set it aside and that itself is an act of grace?

Both are potentially right answers.

Both sound like grace.

April 22nd

Hi there. Me again.

Yes, you need me twice this week.

I’ll let you in on a secret:

You actually need me FAR more often than that.

And guess what? That’s totally normal. Totally human.

This sensitivity you have isn’t a curse or a weakness, it’s a wonder.

You’re a wonder.

It’s true!

That whole list you have, of everything wrong, everything so far away from where you’d like it–your health, bank account, career–there’s also another list. The other side of things, the things you do have — health, bank account, career (LOVE).

You’ve got this.

xo

Grace

The creators of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text are doing a Little Women & Writing as a Sacred Practice retreat.

It’s the sort of thing I would go to immediately if money weren’t an object.

The description of the event says:

We will spend three days asking ourselves one key question; what role do we want writing to play in our lives?

We will ask this question of ourselves, of each other, and of Louisa May Alcott’s classic work of genius, Little Women.

The thesis of this trip is that writing can be a form of prayer. This trip is not about writing for publication, but writing as spiritual technology that we can use to live full, actualized, joyful lives.

I’ve read and reread that description a few times, feeling myself shift through the words alone. Grow a little more solid.

Writing as a sacred practice

These letters from grace are exactly that.

A form of prayer.

To myself. To the universe. To a God.

Let it be so.

Let me treat myself better.

Please, let there be grace.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I got a text from my friend Bailey.

It said this:

Hey Jillo,

SUP?

Hey gurl guess what? Today’s a free day.

I mean, I know you have to work, but beyond that free day!

What does that mean? It means you can have all the cups of tea you want. Until you start to shake then maybe step it back and switch to fizzy water.

AND THEN! You get to go home and see Dolly and Robby! <3

And then it’s weekend time. Even if you have responsibilities this weekend, let’s not think about that right now. Let’s just be like, “Hey it’s Friday. Not Monday, not Wednesday. Friday. Almost Saturday. Holla.”

OK I gotta make sure your fellow sisters and brothers are showing themselves grace, so off I go. Call if you need me.

Love,

Grace

(It spread.

My letters from grace spread.)

It’s Thursday night.

Maybe write yourself a note from grace?

Maybe start it out with something like

You’re doing way better than you think you are

or

I like you

and

I love you

Maybe start wherever you are?

That’s always a nice place to start.

A few breaths for transition?

xoxo

Jill

I Am Not Exempt From Life

11 May

IMG_2827Rob Bell talked about The Rock’s Rolling Stone interview on his podcast.

Apparently, at the beginning of the interview, The Rock recounted a story. How he finished work at 2AM and was exhausted. How there was a strange noise coming from his hotel room. How no one could identify it and after an hour of trying everything (including earplugs) he had to move rooms at 3AM.

“It was a whole thing,” Dwayne said.

Rob laughed as he recounted it.

No one is exempt from life.

No one is exempt from life. From those 3AM inconveniences, those mystery noises. You can be The Rock, the highest paid movie star in the world, and you still have to do life.

No one is exempt.

The past few days I’ve had annoying life problems pop up. Paperwork. Unexpected bills. You know.

You really know.

And for the past few days I’ve had a bad attitude about them. An “Are you kidding me?” “What a nightmare!” “Why me?” attitude.

Today I was able to take a deep breath. Begin what will likely be a long process of figuring them out.

Take a step.

Today I was able to say, this is life. I’m not exempt.

Rob Bell continued. He said that, to him, people who are successful generally are people who

Keep going

Pay attention

Are open

I like that.

It’s not completely on topic, but it’s not off either, really, is it?

I am not exempt from life.

Keep going.

It’s going to be a whole thing.

Instead (A Post About Depression)

26 Apr

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I wanted this to be a slightly smug, self-congratulatory post.

Hello everyone. Have you gotten your physical recently?

I did, and let me tell you what. It changed my life. It solved all my problems.

I wanted it to solve all my problems.

Instead.

Well, instead.

I got a physical a few months ago. My therapist suggested it, as I’ve been struggling with fatigue and she wanted to make sure there was no physical component to it.

I doubted there was. I have depression. Depression and fatigue go hand-in-hand.

But I went to the doctor.

Several tests, several strange results later I ended up in a specialist’s office. From everything I’d read about this highly unusual condition I had, fatigue was a large component. All I needed to do was get the thing removed, a quick surgery here, a quick medication there, and bing, bang, boom.

New lease on life.

New woman.

Problems solved.

Instead.

Well, instead.

The specialist told me that I was totally fine.

Yay! My friends said.

That’s great news, my family said.

Oh no, I said.

You see, somewhere in those few months I had let myself hope. Let myself hope that maybe there was something bigger at play here. There was a reason! something tangible! for the way I was (am). There was an easy fix. Soon I would be accomplishing things with the best of them.

With the “normal” people.

Instead.

Well, instead I’m here. Writing the opposite of a smug post.

It turns out that this condition I have, this depression and fatigue I live with every day, yeah, it’s exactly what I thought it was.

That can be incredibly daunting.

Depression, for me at least, doesn’t have an end date. I can medicate it, but I can’t eradicate it. I can put things in place, set my life up to manage it, and yet, it can breeze into town and destroy everything without thought.

In my lowest moments I wonder how I’m going to do it. How I’m going to live day-in and day-out with this darkness, this pressure, this sadness.

It’s overwhelming.

There’s not a lot of light or hope in it.

I wanted the easy out.

The easy out felt so good.

Instead.

Well, instead.

Two Ways To Talk To Yourself

9 Apr

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ONE OPTION:

  1. You’re on spring break
  2. You’re surrounded by people who love you
  3. You should not be upset about anything right now, cut it out

 

ANOTHER OPTION:

In the past month:

  1. Your grandfather unexpectedly passed away
  2. Your family dynamics shifted (and keep shifting)
  3. You don’t live by your family and feel unable to help. But you really want to help!
  4. You got strange medical news
  5. You defended your thesis
  6. You presented at a church conference
  7. You had a sad conversation you’re still thinking about
  8. Your feelings are totally valid, of course you’re stressed. This is a crazy time and it won’t always be this crazy. Give yourself a break. Seek help if you need it.

Sounds During My Evening Meditation

29 Jan

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The Celtics game two rooms over

Cheers, male voices, sneakers?

Chicken sizzling on the stove

My own breath, struggling through a stuffy nose

A siren

Cars

General breeze things

A bird?

Running water

The garbage disposal

The opening of a trashcan

More cheers

A sneeze

Chopping on the cutting board

That garbage can again

A Diet Coke next to me, lazily going flat

Andy Puddicombe’s soothing voice, urging me forward

My stomach, growling, ready for what’s next

 

 PS: When I started meditationa year into meditation, and how I use meditation