The Inspired Life

Crossbite

October 27, 2016

So, three months ago I got braces and *spoiler alert* they suck. For the first month and a half, I was resigned to eating most foods with a knife and a fork (including hot dogs) and could only eat tiny baby portions, which meant that it would take me at least an hour to eat a moderately sized serving of food. Because I have clear ceramic braces, if any food gets stuck in my braces—which includes just about everything, including pepper—the whole entire world will know. And if I eat too much ketchup, the clear bands start yellowing, which makes my teeth look yellow. So from far away when I smile, one would think I have really yellow teeth and poor dental hygiene. Oh and you want to know what the best part is? I have developed a pseudo-lisp, which kind of sounds like I have cotton permanently stuck in my mouth. Really, spitty cotton. These next two years are going to be awesome. *eye roll*

But the funny thing is that whenever people see that I have braces, their first response is always “Why do you need braces? Your teeth look straight to me.” Which, yes, I see why they would say that. My teeth are pretty straight, so that’s not the reason why I need braces. Unlike the proper curves of my lower dental arch, my upper dental arch is warped. Just imagine if a giant angry fist sucker punched the St. Louis arch on both sides resulting in permanent indentations that never got fixed. Yea, that’s what my top teeth look like. The result of that improper formation has been the slow misalignment of my teeth; a crossbite. And if I didn’t get it fixed soon, the gradual shift would lead to problems with my jaw.

The truth is that I should’ve gotten braces a long time ago but I made a bunch of excuses as to why I should keep putting it off. They’re too expensive. My jaw isn’t going to get that bad. My mouth has been okay for this long so I can wait a little bit more. But as time progressed, I realized that my mouth was getting worse, slowly shifting more. Then I got scared. And embarrassed for even being scared of something like that. Feared that I waited too long and caused too much damage. I would love to say that I had this great epiphany and spurt of courage to finally face the orthodontist after 2 years but the truth is that I was turning 26 soon which meant that I would officially be off my mom’s insurance, the good insurance. So it was time to bite the bullet and make an appointment. And I did it. I got braces and finally started the lengthy process of correcting my crossbite.

Similarly to my crossbite, there are sometimes issues in our lives that we avoid dealing with for many years. And sometimes others are unaware of what we’re going through because it isn’t surface issues, so it’s only evident if you take a deeper look inside. It’s so easy to mask everything behind a seemingly perfect smile, or a laugh. And there’s always a plethora of excuses as to why we avoid dealing with these problems. Maybe we’re scared that we waited too long; scared that the problem has grown too deep. Maybe we’re in denial, not wanting to truly admit how bad certain things are. Maybe we’re embarrassed and afraid to be fully transparent and vulnerable. Maybe we don’t like to be out of our comfort zones and know that working on these issues would be very uncomfortable at times. Maybe we don’t like processes but instead want things to be fixed immediately. Whatever the reasons are, maybe it’s time to consider getting braces and finally fixing those crossbites in your lives.

Be prepared for the shifts that are going to occur, some sudden and others gradual. There might be some unhealthy relationships that have been crowding your life; it’s time to pull them out completely to create enough space for the healthy ones to find their proper place and flourish. You’ll need those healthy relationships to help you along this journey. Expect some painful days, mildly uncomfortable days, and days where you would rather lie in bed all day instead of getting up and facing the world. But also look forward to the good days. The days where you feel energized and encouraged. The days where you look in the mirror with a hopeful spirit because you’re starting to recognize the subtle changes that are occurring.

On those days when I feel discouraged, I have to constantly remind myself that this is a process. And as much as I hate it sometimes, processes take time. *ugh* And patience. And endurance. Plants don’t just need the sun to grow, they also need dirt AND rain. We need the storms just as much as we need the sun. So stop avoiding the challenges and difficult processes; embrace them. They make us stronger and help us grow into the mature and complete person that God wants and needs us to be.

 

 

 

Micro Stories

Inhale, Exhale and Let Go

October 25, 2016

“You’re beautiful,” he whispers. She quickly turns around and her eyes widen as she vigorously shakes her head.

“Please don’t say that,” she quietly pleads.

“But I have to. And I mean it. You’re beautiful.” He takes one cautious step towards her.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispers again as he takes another small step in her direction. Her eyes flutter closed as she instinctively crosses her arms over her chest and inhales deeply.

“You’re beautiful.” He inches closer. She takes another deep breath and exhales shakily.

“Please,” she utters with her eyes firmly shut, “Don’t.”

She rubs her hands up and down her arms restlessly and glances up at the sky. Overcast and grey. Just like me, she thinks. She reluctantly tears her face from the sky and meets his gaze. His eyes, a deep amber with flecks of brown, remind her of her favorite marble she used to play with as a kid. She sighs. I wish I could go back. Although piercing, his eyes are incredibly warm and comforting like the glowing flames of a fire burning tenderly in a cozy log cabin fireplace. They gently invite her in and earnestly plead with her to relax and stay for awhile. The tension in her body slowly eases and her arms fall languidly to her sides. It’s okay. You’re okay.

He steadily creeps forward and reaches his arms out until his fingertips graze the hair on her forearms. Slowly and hesitantly he pulls her in, her body flush against his, and wraps his arms gently around her. She sharply sucks in a breath and stills, unsure if she should return the warm gesture or hang there like a limp noodle in his arms. You’re okay. Relax. 

He bends his head down until his mouth skims her ear and whispers, “I love you.” 

She lifts her arms, shyly placing them around his back and lays her head softly against his chest. Inhale. Her eyes begin welling up with tears. Exhale. The salty droplets gracefully fall to the ground. Inhale. His arms tighten around her back and he holds her closer. Exhale. As each tear drops, a little bit of heaviness falls with them. You’re okay. Waterfalls continue to cascade from her eyes as she releases it all. You’re okay. She lets it all go. And then she inhales deeply, breathing in the fresh, crisp air.

He dips his head until their eyes meet and firmly cups her face in his hands.

“Trust me,” he whispers.

Holding his gaze, she takes another deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. And another. Inhale. Exhale. She calmly nods her head and smiles as the last tear tumbles to the ground.

“Okay.”

The Real Life

Confessions of a Perfectionist

October 5, 2016

Confession time.

I am a perfectionist and a highly detail-oriented person who can sometimes straddle the line of being anal-retentive. SometimesWhew. There, I said it. But to make myself feel better, I like to think of it as a gift and a curse. Gift because I tend to notice the minutiae of everyday life that often goes unnoticed by most people. And that makes me special, right? Curse because that same minutiae of everyday life can sometimes distract me from well, life. For example, I have this really weird thing with note-taking. I need my notes — mind you, notes that no one will ever see — to look aesthetically pleasing. What do I mean by that? Firstly, I can’t rush through my notes because then my handwriting will be sloppy and God forbid I take notes that no one will ever see in a messy, hurried scrawl. Secondly, my notes must appear organized and symmetrical. And thirdly, I need my notes to look non-basic; un-uniformed. There can’t just be bullet points and text because, how boring would that look. I need arrows, boxes, underlines and highlighting to break up the monotony. My notes need pizazz. But I sometimes get more caught up in how my notes look, than what I’m actually taking notes of. And therein lies the rub. They’re just notes. Notes that no one will ever see. Yet I inflate the details so much so that they become bigger than the entirety.

I care too much about outward appearances, often to my own detriment.

I want to be perceived in a certain way. I like being perceived in certain way. I strive to have a polished outward appearance because then it looks like I have it all together, like I know what I’m doing. And that constant desire is part of the reason for my lack of writing. Sharing the oftentimes messy inner workings of my life infringes upon all of my perfectionistic tendencies. And it makes me uncomfortable. In my head, I tell myself that I need my writing to be good. Always. And if I don’t deem something I write satisfactory, then it’s not worthy to be shown to the world. So you can imagine that the combination of these things creates quite the life dilemma for me. It’s very hard to truely live when you can’t live until everything seems good enough, perfect enough. I overthink things. I’m always in my head. I overanalyze. I live a life of re-edits and do-overs. But I do want to write honestly and that desire is constantly at war with my compulsive need for perfection. And it’s evident from my lack of blog posts that perfectionism has been winning the battle.

The thing about honesty is that it can’t be scripted. Feelings are sometimes so raw and intense and un-edited. Not polished. Not presented in this impeccably dressed little package with a pretty little bow on top. And I want to share that honesty. I want to BE and just write about BEing. And that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. It includes the messy and the mistakes. The flaws and idiosyncrasies. It includes the tough moments of life while I am in the midst of them, not after I’ve overcome them. But most importantly, it includes all the things that are making me, me. I know I have to learn to embrace the imperfect. The un-polished. Because no matter how hard I try to turn those beloved little details into perfection, its never going to happen. Nothing is ever truly perfect, not even circles.

So how do I find that balance? Still wanting things to appear polished and flawless, yet being okay when they are not. Focusing on the details, yet not being consumed by them. How do I let go more? Honestly, I don’t know. But if I had to guess what the next step would be, I would say it’s simply just to write. Write more and write often.

The Real Life

Moment of Crisis

April 14, 2016

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What do you do when you have a moment of crisis? Do you read the Bible? Confide in your best friend? Cry-talk to God? I’m asking because I’m in that moment. And I don’t exactly know what to do. You see, I’m a stuffer. The ultimate represser. I can shove pain so low that I forget about it. And then I think I’m okay. Until moments like this come and I remember. I remember all too well. The events replay over and over in my head and my emotions burst through me like a volcano erupting, like my body is on the verge of implosion. So what do I do? Continue Reading

The Inspired Life

#DearlittleAutumn

January 23, 2016

1st Bday Party

 

#dearlittleAutumn,

Did you know that one day, 25 years from now, you’ll write a letter to your little self? And in that letter, you’ll remind yourself that all of the things that little you goes through are only there so that big you can become the best you.

One thing you’ll quickly learn is that time moves swiftly, so please be in no rush to get to the future. It will be here before you know it. One day you’ll drive a car, graduate from college and get married but until that time comes, try your best to relish every precious moment, as hard as that may be. The present is a gift. Please handle with care. Continue Reading