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Monday, July 31, 2017

Searching for Soulful – Part One

Anyone else feel like they're walking through life in a daze? 

Looking forward to big events only to have them grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror? Or constantly flying from one season to the next like a trapeze artist? Letting go of one season to zip on to the next?

For so long, I've complained that my life has lacked focus. Not so much that I feel like I should be pouring my energy into achieving my goals, but that I'm just not fully paying attention. There should be more to life than laundry, cleaning, careers and appointments and Netflix subscriptions, shouldn't there?

There should be more to life than the physical. There should be more to life than entertaining yourself to death.

Years ago (maybe half a decade ago?) it seemed easier to live in the bevel of appreciation and purposefulness when I journaled every day. Pen to page. Left hand characteristically smudged with blue ink. 

I'll be honest, there is very little time for journaling these days. And I know that's a trite excuse: you get done the things that you make time for.

What I miss about journaling is the discipline of taking the time to remember the day you've lived. The good. The bad. The frustrating. The joyous.

Mostly, finding meaning, finding soulfulness, in the every day is what I miss about it.

The best thing about being a writer is deriving meaning out of an otherwise normal day. But if you can't remember the normal days, you're left with a sense of cloudiness. Like you're living whole life full-on in those moments before you have your morning coffee.

Perish the thought.

This series is an attempt to practice the art of being aware. Of having the discipline to not live a life in a swarm of distractions. As cliche as it sounds, enjoying the moment. Actually, forget enjoying it. I'd settle for simply being aware of the moment.

I'm on the search for soulful, and I hope you'll join me.

taking a seat

For all of the health benefits of breastfeeding (for mother and baby), there is a downfall for the extravert I wasn't aware of: isolation.

Don't get me wrong. I know my rights as a woman. I know I have the right to feed my child when and where I want. Covered. Uncovered. And I fully support women who do. 

Doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it, just yet. Further, it doesn't mean I expect others to be either.

One night last week I was with a group of friends at a dinner party when my little one began to get fussy. Like clockwork, it was time for a feeding. I excused myself to the next room, grabbed my wrap from the diaper bag, fighting back hot tears.

Yes, I was feeling a smidgen sorry for myself. I already felt so out of touch. Like the whole world is a part of an inside joke that I'm not in on.

Here I was, finally gaining my way back into the world, though still feeling like a sense of normalcy was torturously out of reach. As I began to focus on my little one, I pushed the feelings down.

This is motherhood, I thought. This is, in its own way, a tiny sacrifice.

Then a friend of mine left the dinner table and came to sit with me.

I don't remember what we talked about. But I remember her taking the purposeful walk to join me. To ask me about my week. To be in the quiet with muffled laughs and chatter playing in the next room.

Soulfulness is in the friendships that see and sense you.

folding laundry 

The clothes were still warm from the dryer.

I sat cross-legged on the floor and caught a glimpse of the time on my phone.

11:30 p.m. And with a potential 2:30 a.m. wake-up call to feed a restless two-month old, I should've been in bed.

My husband came into the room and could tell – maybe by the way my head hung over the laundry pile, or maybe he's just gotten the hang of the whole hormone-thing – that something wasn't quite right.

"What's wrong?" he asked, sitting down with me on the floor, beginning to fold the stack of clothes in front of us.

Then I confessed how I was fearful of returning to work after three months. I told him how I was dreading not being with our little one every day.


How I didn't want to leave my heart behind and get swallowed up by expectations.


Fearful because this would bring about change. Real change.


The world wasn't stopping for our baby anymore. It's almost time to reintegrate. And I was scared. This wouldn't be like folding laundry. With compartments and order. This would be a much bigger mess.

I told him how I was anxious about stepping into a new role, all-the-while raising a kid. It seems, as of late, that everything is heightened. The stakes are higher.

"I'm just worried. Worried that I won't be enough here at home or the office. All I know is that our little one is worth it."

"Do you think you're worth it?" he said. The shadow of the hallway light painted clarity across his face.

Am I worth it? Am I worth grace? Am I worth a few slip ups and uncertainties? Am I worth permission to make mistakes? To still learn? To recover? To grow?

"You've been saying the last few years how you want to grow. How you want to nurture," he said. "Maybe this is it."

Soulfulness is being seen, known and encouraged.

running in the rain

Norfolk, Virginia is slated grey.

I grab my lime green rain jacket and lace up my hot pink running shoes before I head out the door.

Pounding my feet on the ground gives me a task with a start and end time. A mini-goal to achieve. Something to point at when I come to the end of the day. Something that warrants an "I did that."
Apart from the rain, the run is business as usual, tracing the same city loop I have for the last few months. Past the museum, over the bridge, past the cute cafe...

I lost myself in a podcast until I was interrupted by a sudden splash of cold water on my left foot. I looked down to see that the road had flooded.

I should've anticipated it. This part of the road floods all the time. Our city sits below sea level, after all. They're always talking about how it's sinking.

As it stood, I couldn't do my usual route. I had to turn back and wiggle my way through a neighborhood. Though I knew where I was, it was disorienting. Foreign. This wasn't going how I planned. I couldn't auto-pilot this run. I had to pay attention.

I had to follow a different route.

Soulfulness is pressing on when the world doesn't bend to our plans.

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