Get It Together

Get It Together

When “Lemonade” came out back in April I distinctly remember thinking “Welp, I know what  I’m doing for a Halloween costume.” I wasn’t sure which look from the video I would go for, but I wasn’t worried about it. I knew I had plenty of time to get it together.

So ask me which look I decided on…

There are some people who looooove Halloween; they’ve been thinking about tonight since last year and will start thinking about next year tomorrow. And then there are people like me. I don’t have anything against Halloween. If given a compelling reason and enough notice, I’ll participate. But I can just as easily do without it. True story: as I was writing this post, a coworker stopped by my desk and asked if I have plans for tonight, and I legit wondered why she would be asking me if I had plans on a Monday night. I forgot that today is Halloween. While writing a post about today being Halloween.

That’s the relationship Halloween and I have.

So I have no costume. Because I never did get it together. Which is no big deal because I don’t have any Halloween plans. But part of me can’t help wondering…

Did I not get it together because I didn’t have plans? Or do I not have plans because I never got it together?

Hmm…

Because if I had gotten it together, if I had decided on a look from that video and gathered the pieces needed and put in the effort — I PROMISE you, I would have found someplace to wear it.

And in a strange way, knowing that comforts me about some of the other stuff in my life that I’m trying to get together. And maybe it can comfort you too. Because chances are that you’ve got a picture in your head, a future look you’d like to pull off in some area(s) of your life. And you’re trying to get it together. Gathering the pieces. Laying the foundation. Putting in the effort even though you’re not really sure when and where it’s going to be needed. And sometimes you get tired and it seems silly and you’re tempted to just stop. But I hope that you don’t.

To be preparing for something that only you can see right now might feel crazy (and it kinda is) but it’s not for nothing. It’s faith.  You just keep learning, keep practicing, keep preparing and keep getting it together. And it will find a place to show itself. You’ll see.



What about you? What’s a future look that you’re trying to get together?

Crying in the Bathroom

Crying in the Bathroom

This time last week I was crying in the bathroom at work.

The day started out normal. I got up, went to work. Everything was fine. I was thinking about an event I was hosting that night and was working on the relaunch of this blog, so I was a little anxious about the outcome of both those things, but not overly so. And then I got a text. Asking me something about the election. This election that might not completely destroy our country, but has definitely deep-sixed many a Facebook friendship. And the question was coming from a huge influence in my life, someone I love and respect very much, but who I also had to strike a “Let’s-just-agree-to-disagree-and-leave-it-alone” deal with over the summer. Because I can talk politics and I can talk religion, but when religion and politics start getting overly enmeshed, my soul starts trying to leave my body via my sweat ducts. So when I got that text, as politely as I could, I declined to continue the conversation. And the text that I got back (message version, paraphrase) said that my answer confirmed why they had heard a certain word over my life when they were praying for me. And that word was “barrenness“.

Now listen, I wouldn’t say I’m wildly insecure. But I am wildly sensitive. I always have been.  So to cope in the real world, I’ve learned to mask a lot of it and deal with it on my own time; so it’s rare that I encounter a sting that I can’t pocket for later. But that was not a sting. That was a shrapnel bomb direct hit to my face. Everything external went mute and it felt like I had actually been physically struck. And I can usually have civilized conversations with my emotions where we can agree to meet up later, but not in that moment. My emotions were like “We out here. And we doing this. NOW.” So I picked up as many pieces of myself as I could and dragged them to the bathroom.

tobias

 

And I cried. And cried. Because damn. Barrenness?? To be barren is to be unproductive. Unfruitful. Sterile. And the first and most obvious association has to do with children, and more specifically, the lack thereof. To say that to any single, 3o-something is probably not the best idea,  but for me personally, I won’t lie – it’s a sore spot. And to have someone close to me throw that in my face — it was devastating. Not just mean, it was overkill. And it was actually the overkill-ness of it that helped me start to rally. Because it was just too much.

So it was in a bathroom stall at my workplace that I realized how far I’ve actually come on this journey. Because within minutes (and after desperate”please pray for me!” texts to a few friends), I felt the truth rising up in me and I just said “No. I reject that.” And I stopped crying. Because my life is not barren. If my life is an orchard and all the different hopes, dreams and desires are trees, the marriage and children one might not seem to be doing anything at the moment, but it’s not the only tree that I have!

And it can’t be the only one you have.

I don’t know what my life looks like from the outside. Different people see different parts of my orchard depending on where they’re standing, but I have actually spent a strange amount of time the past 3 weeks being consistently verklempt just thinking about how strangely blessed I am. To see friends who I’ve prayed for finding their feet and progressing on their journeys. To remember little conversations and random moments from YEARS ago and see what shape they’ve taken in 2016. Even just the fact that in the middle of crying, I had friends to pray for me! To be in that state and know who to call for backup – that’s fruit of a growing tree. It’s all fruit. So I left that bathroom stall and went straight back to doing what I was doing the moment that bomb was dropped – working on this blog.

Because that’s the whole point of this thing. Our lives ARE NOT and CANNOT be defined by this one area. Our self-esteem and self-worth cannot be based on it. It’s too much pressure to put on one tree. Especially since I don’t think marriage and children are a tree… I think they’re fruit. Fruit that could sprout any day from any tree in your orchard. I think way too many of us have spent way too much time staring at the ground waiting for this one thing to spring up when there are so many other things we could (and should!) be tending to right now.

Listen, the life I live today is not the dream life I would have described to you if you asked me 20 years ago, 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. But if you described my current life to those past versions of me, I’d think they’d actually be pleased. To hear that in the future they’ll have great friends, that they’ll be a stronger writer, that they’ll be generous and empathetic. That they’ll be funny and working on some great projects. That they’ll have been behind some pretty cool changes in some pretty cool places. That they’ll be happy. And hopeful. And looking forward to what’s next. And when they’d ask “But am I married? Do I have kids?” I wouldn’t tell them.

And if no one told you – how would you feel about your life today? If your life today, stripped of it’s marital status, was described to you. What would you think? What do you think? Is your life fruitful? Are you who you want to be or at least on your way to becoming her? Because if not, changing your marital status won’t fix that. And if so, your current marital status shouldn’t break you. Don’t let this one area trick you into thinking it’s the only one that matters. It’s not. And if you take a look around, I bet you’ll find that your life is bearing more fruit than you think.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit– fruit that will last– and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
John 15:16

So ::note to self:: stop crying in the bathroom.


So what do you think of all that? And what is some of the fruit of your life that you’re most proud of?
Singular She

Singular She

Back in March of 2016, the founder and writer of a wildly (mildly) popular blog suddenly and unceremoniously shut it down, leaving her readers with the promise of a timely retool, rename and relaunch. A promise she did not keep. But this past Friday night, when most of the world had forgotten her and her blog were ever even a thing, she quietly began her desperate attempt to return from oblivion. So today, I will be catching up with Janice Wooten (me), the founder of what was once The Miss League. I’ll ask her (me) the tough questions about the shutdown, the long absence, why she’s returning now and what’s up with that new name.



Janice, thank you for joining me today.
Yeah, of course, thank you for having me!

So let’s get right to it.
My thoughts exactly.

So what the heck?
What?

What the heck? You start a blog, you run it for two years and then you just shut it down. What. the. heck?
Well, I didn’t shut it down, I just… I mean, I did shut it down, but it wasn’t a “shut down” shut down, it was just a break.

Seven months? That’s just a break?
Has it been seven months? Wow. I did not mean for that to happen.

So what did happen? Did you get a boyfriend? And then he broke up with you and that’s why you’re back now?
No.

So he didn’t break up with you? You have a boyfriend and you still feel qualified to write to single women?
I think we both know I never had a boyfriend. I mean, not never, but not in the last seven months.

Dang girl, that’s sad. So that’s why you shut it down, because you were sad?
No – I wasn’t sad! My relationship status had nothing to do with the blog.

Nothing at all?
Nothing! Well… maybe a little.

Yeah. Thought so. Please elaborate.
Look, I loved The Miss League, I started it for women like us – single, Christian women over the age of 27; but the more I kept writing and talking with more women, the more I realized that a lot of the things I was grappling with didn’t suddenly start at age 27 and they weren’t limited to just Christian women or just single women.

What kinds of things?
All kinds of things! Struggles with confidence and what it means to be a woman, fears about not being enough – pretty enough, interesting enough, feminine enough; worries about the future and running out of time, all the issues and shame around sexuality, feelings of being overlooked and looked down upon in church circles. So many women are fixated on a relationship as a fix, but marriage is not a catch-all cure for any of that.

So realizing that struggle was more widespread than you originally considered, you thought it would be best to just pack it all in. And leave everybody hanging.
No. I realized that I needed to find a way to widen my base and be more inclusive.

So?
So I knew that the first thing I needed to do was find a new name.

Why? I thought The Miss League was a great name.
It was.

Thank you.
What?

Nothing. Continue.
It was a great name, but one of the most common questions I got from the beginning was “Well what happens to the blog when you get married?” And I always said that it wouldn’t matter. I would still write The Miss League, even if I wasn’t a Miss anymore, but… I didn’t like that it was such a black and white term that was so tied to marital status. So I started praying and searching for a new name.

And?
And I ran across this word. This amazing word that means “exceptionally good or great and remarkable.” This word that has a list a of synonyms like extraordinary, exceptional, outstanding, noteworthy and it was like a rocket went off in my heart because that word? It’s Singular.

Singular.
Yeah! And I love it because it sounds so close to single and one of it’s other definitions is as a reference to something individual, but it has nothing to do with marital status. Me being single? That can (and hopefully will!) change some day –

Dear God please.
But me being singular? I pray that NEVER changes.

So the new name…
Is “Singular She”.

And who is the “She”?
She is me. And you. And whoever. She is any woman, of any age, stage or marital status.

So the blog is back?
It’s back.

And who is it for now?
Well, it’s still being written by a Christian, single woman in her 30’s so that will always be the homebase, but I’d love for all women to read it. And be part of the conversation, because honestly… in a lot of ways, it’s too late for me – I wish I had known in my 20s, not necessarily what I know today, but that the things I was worried and afraid about weren’t isolated to just me. I think it would have saved me a lot of angst and anxiety if I could have heard more honest conversations. I mean, I survived and I’m okay, but I would love to save the women right behind me from as much of that shit as possible.

You, uh, wanna watch your mouth there?
Nah. I’m good.

But you just said you were a Christian.
Yes I did. And I am.

Mmmhmm.
Look, this isn’t your mother’s (my mother’s) blog. Which isn’t to say she can’t read it, but this is my space and I’m trying to build something as authentic as possible, so I’m going to be as authentically me as possible. Everything in moderation, ya know?

Okay. Well… good luck with that.
Thank you.

So Singular She. It’s here, it’s authentic, it’s live. What’s next?
Well, I’m excited to be writing again and seeing what comes up, I’ll also be editing and re-releasing “classic” posts from The Miss League and I’m gonna try out some new things — I want to start Singular Reads, a book club where we’ll be reading some of the books that I love and have helped me. And I i’m excited to do some Singular Meets, where we’ll be getting together in real life!

And doing what?
Well that remains to be seen. But uh… it’ll be great.

Okay then. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the people reading this, any final thoughts to finish this up?
Yeah, I just… I’m sorry it took so long, but I’m really excited to be back and moving forward and I hope you decide to come along with me. So please – subscribe, share and be part of this thing. Decide to be singular. Because the truth is that you already are.

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And there you have it folks. “The Miss League” is so yesterday and Singular She is on the move, with it’s sights set on encouraging and empowering all women. So if you’re into that kind of thing, get into it. And let’s see how it goes.