Sick and Sorry

Sick and Sorry

“Is it too late now to say sorry?”
Abraham Lincoln
(or Justin Bieber. I always get those two confused.)

I felt sick for all of February. Every single day. And I’m pretty sure it actually started sometime in January, possibly even December, but February was when I actually noticed that I consistently didn’t feel good and hadn’t for a while. And it was nothing major or unbearable – no pain, just a constant feeling of being slightly nauseous. All. the. time. Hungry, full – didn’t matter. In fact, the only time I didn’t feel sick was when I was literally in the act of eating. It was like my body would think “Ooh! Maybe this will help!” but it wouldn’t. And within 5 to 10 minutes, I’d be back to feeling BLAH. And so, naturally, like any reasonable adult with health insurance and a will to live, I thought about going to the doctor. I thought about it a lot. I even looked up my insurance card and spent a fair amount of minutes on the interwebs trying to find an “in network” provider, but the doctors with the best reviews and most human-like photos were booked solid until April, May, 2019 and the other ones were a little too available (why is your next available opening at 11am when it’s 10:45 right now??) So I did eventually book an appointment (for April 14th, I do believe. hashtag: adulting) but in the meantime, I figured I’d keep soldiering on, bravely, nobly. Handling all the stresses and responsibilities of life in New York, all the while suffering. Silently. Bravely. Nobly.

And then I figured out what was wrong. And I’m sitting here today feeling absolutely fine. As fate (and probably genetics and age) would have it, I do believe I have become lactose intolerant. So now that I’m not having milk in my tea, eating ice cream like it’s my job or downing Chai lattes, I’m feeling a-ok. Which is great. But in looking back, this whole experience has been fascinating because it made me realize how easy it is to get used to functioning at a sub-prime standard. To be feeling sick while carrying on as if its normal. Because as far as anyone else knows – everything is normal. You’re normal. And doing just fine.

But I wasn’t. And I’m still not. Because it wasn’t just my stomach that was bothering me. My soul has been sick for all of 2017 thus far. The poor thing feels like she’s wasting away. Actually… no. Wasting away sounds like a problem of lack, so I guess my soul is actually on the verge of imploding from the weight of everything that I’m not doing.

I came into 2017 with solid ideas of things that I wanted to do, goals to accomplish, endeavors to… endeavor. And here we are with the first quarter of the year very nearly over and what have I done? Basically, nothing. I hosted one disaster/reading in January and have been fixated on everything I don’t have and can’t do ever since. And it’s ruining everything. I can’t enjoy anything because I feel convicted all the time. I went to see a friend in a show last week, a terrible TERRIBLE show (my friend was amazing) and I was so mad. Not at the show or the writers, but at myself. Because what the hell am I doing? The team of people behind that terrible (TERRIBLE) show actually sat down, made a plan, found supporters, held auditions and produced something. Middling talent and absolute terribleness, be damned – they did something. And people came and saw it. I know because I was one of those people. Because my friend, my insanely wonderfully talented friend, was in it. Because my friend just wants to work. And those terrible (TERRIBLE) writers produced work. And meanwhile… I’m sitting over here fixated on what I don’t have and can’t do.

And my friends deserve better than that.

So I probably owe you an apology. And please believe, if you have talked about/asked for prayer re:/mentioned in passing any of your audition stories/struggles, you wouldn’t have known it, but I have felt convicted. And if you have joked/not been joking about auditioning for me someday (which an annoying number of you have recently, #jesusbecreeping) please know that I probably went home and cried about it. Which is exactly what I deserve.

Earlier today, I saw that quote about strength being for service and not status and it just hit me how that covers all the different kinds of strengths it takes to step out and do something – not just the talents and skills, but the strength of will it takes to face possible ridicule, failure and falling short – because somebody has to do it. Whatever talents we have, aren’t just for us and us alone, they’re supposed to find their place and fulfill their purpose in conjunction with others. For others.

So I have to stop living with this sick feeling of holding back. And I don’t know… but maybe you do to.  We all want to whatever we do to be the best thing ever and the easiest way to stop ourselves from moving forward is to imagine all the worst case scenarios but we’ve gotta push past all that. Done is better than perfect. Something is better than nothing. And honestly, this moment – knowing that I’m not really doing all I can to push forward the people and the causes that I care about — this is the worst case scenario. Well… the second to the worst. The very worst case scenario would be to live quietly with this sick feeling for the rest of my life. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Not me. Not you. And not the people waiting on us to move forward.

So let’s not let this month end and this quarter close without offering some sincere apologies by making some moves.  And cutting back on the fears and excuses that have been keeping us sick. And, hopefully, we’ll all feel better in the next quarter.

Spaces

Spaces

I cleaned out my storage unit in November. Emptied it completely and (with the help of a wonderful TaskRabbit) hauled everything away. Some of it to my place. Most of it to Goodwill. And when I say most of it, that’s the God’s honest truth. It would be a safe estimate to say that I shed 80% of what I had been holding on to for somehow, somewhere, someday. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep this?” the TaskRabbit kept asking me about different things and while the hoarder in me kept wanting to reconsider, I was resolved to be resolved. So I said goodbye to boxes of clothes and shoes, pieces of furniture, dishes, shelves, odds and ends; with some unopened/brand new things in each of those categories. And you know what? It was hard. And it was expensive. And annoying. Having to get up early on a Saturday: hard and annoying. Catching an uber to and fro: expensive and annoying. Hiring a TaskRabbit: expensive. Letting go of the way I thought my life was going to go: hard, expensive and annoying. Because that’s why I had the storage unit, right? To stockpile things I used to have space for while waiting to have space again. Somehow, somewhere, someday…

So what made me give it all up? Two realizations:

#1. It wasn’t fair.
Things are meant to be used. It’s what they (non)live for. And me keeping them locked away was feeling more and more wasteful. And selfish.

#2. It wasn’t worth it.
I’ve had some type of storage space for nearly three years. And as I have moved and my living situation has ebbed and flowed, I have downsized as needed, but averaging it all out, it would be a pretty accurate estimate to say that storage has probably cost me around $4,000. And NOTHING I had in storage was worth $4,000. Maybe all of it together was worth that much. MAY. BE. But, sentimental value aside, with any long-term storage arrangement, there is going to come a point where the cost of holding on, is equal to and then higher than the cost of replacing. And to be completely honest, I probably crossed that threshold 4 months in. Maybe five. MAY. BE.

So I set a date to shut it all down. And I remember getting there that morning, unlocking the unit and just immediately feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting through it all. “Maybe the taskrabbit will cancel and I can just save this for another day… maybe I should just cancel the taskrabbit and save this for another day… maybe I should just keep saving all this for someday…” The second thoughts were there, but I had already given up my sleep-in so too bad, too sad – it was happening. And it did. And afterwards…

It felt SO. GOOD. I actually felt freer. There was something liberating about knowing there wasn’t a bunch of stuff waiting to be sorted. And something exciting about not knowing how I was going to replace any of it. Not that I would have to worry about that anytime soon. Or so I thought.

But three weeks ago my roommate got a new job. In a new city. And she’s moving today. As we speak. So when I go home tonight, it will be to a now unfurnished apartment. So all that stuff I gave away… well, I was thinking about it this morning and you know what? I’m still glad it’s gone. Maybe even more glad. Because instead of stocking this new year with old things, I get to wait and see what God has next for me. Will it be annoying and inconvenient when I go to reach for something (a toaster, a kettle, a couch) and it isn’t there? Yes. But will it kill me to be without it temporarily? No.  “But Janice,” I can hear some of you saying, “Wouldn’t it be better to have something than nothing while you wait for the next thing?” Good question. And the answer, for me (and probably for you), is NO. Because most of the time, when I have something, it’s really hard for me to make space for the next thing. Because why should I? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? And if there’s no space, why fill it?

If I had to sum up 2016 in one word, that word would probably be “loss”. From celebrities to politics to friendships because of politics… I feel like we all took a lot of Ls. And those were the public, widespread ones. On personal levels there were breakups, financial issues, plans that went awry, relationships that went off-track, hopes that were disappointed – I feel like 2016 left us all with new uncomfortable spaces. And old spaces feeling emptier than ever. In December, I had no less that three friends who went on Bumble streaks. And I myself spent about 36 hours on Coffee Meets Bagel before remembering that nothing is actually better than something when something is just a bunch of nothing in disguise.

So for those of us who entered 2017 with spaces in places we’re not quite sure how to fill: good.

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lordhe brought me into a spacious place.
Psalm 118:5

God is a creator. He specializes in making something out of nothing. It’s kind of like His thing. But He seems to like starting by clearing something out first.  So what do you have in storage? And I don’t mean just physical storage units, I mean in the back of your mind and heart. What old habits, relationships, apps or coping mechanisms are you hanging onto? And why? Maybe it was the best you could do in the past, but do you think it’s the best God can do now? Or next?

Lowkey, I’m excited by all the blank spaces I’m facing in 2017. Because I have no idea how to fill them, but I know someone who does. And I trust that He will. Because NOTHING is impossible with God. So He’s always up to something.

Any Minute Now

Any Minute Now

Yesterday was a weird day. I woke up and everything was fine. Showered and got dressed, and everything was fine. Got to work and everything was fine. Had been at work about an hour and everything was still fine, but then all of a sudden – I was anxious. Full on knot-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach-I’ve-got-a-bad-feeling-about-this anxious. And I had no idea why. And I couldn’t shake it. All day. I did ask for prayer backup in the late afternoon and that took the edge off, but by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was go lay on the living room floor and pray. And journal. I felt like I really needed to journal. So I really needed to find my journal. Because it had been awhile. Well over a year according to the date on my last entry. And as I read through those last recorded thoughts from August 2015, it was eerie how similar the thoughts I had on that day were to the realities of yesterday.

  1. All The Single Ladies. In 2015 it was a ministry idea proposal I had written up and submitted in hopes of helping my church change the conversation around singlehood and single women. I had high hopes for it and was asking God to help it get off the ground. Yesterday… I had just gotten a text message setting up a meeting, to talk about getting a ministry off the ground in 2017… to change the conversation around singlehood and single women.
  2. “Leaving Nazareth”. In 2015, it was a script idea that I was telling myself to get off my ass and get writing because I thought it could do really well. Yesterday, it was a script I was reminding myself to get off my ass and finish because it actually has a deadline coming up in January. And I still think it could do really well.
  3. Some guy. In 2015, I was trying to make sense of some conflicting signals coming from a conflicted character. “What is this? Where are we? Is he…” Yesterday, I was not thinking about him (or anyone) AT ALL. I only added this here to laugh at myself and THANK GOD for the prayers that He answers with “Nope.”
  4. Any minute now… for a few different reasons, on that day in 2015 I was convinced that my life could completely change for the better at any moment. I was so full of hope, practically just waiting for the phone to ring with an offer, a “yes” or some kind of recognition that was going to change the game for me. Yesterday, knowing that call never came (yet) I realized that I still had that hope…

Here’s the thing. Judging by the amount of Facebook statuses I’ve seen begging 2016 to just be over already, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that it wasn’t the year most of us imagined. By pretty much all measurable standards, 2016 has been a garbage year. A dumpster fire of epic proportions. And pretty much everyone will be happy to close it out. Myself included… but also… I’m not mad at 2016. And I think when a lot of us look back at all the bad, the worst and the ugly that happened, if/when 2017 is better – it’ll be because of seeds that were planted and roots that went deeper in all the sadness, the madness and the chaos.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately because I’ve been comparing my progress with the progress of the people around me. Friends have been moving and starting companies and getting roles and doing shows, and yes they’ve been working hard and struggling, but they’ve been having visible triumphs. And meanwhile… I haven’t done anything. This has easily been my least visible year. No shows, no internet presence, no nothing. And that definitely wasn’t the plan. I recorded things this year. That never went public. I wrote things this year. That just didn’t go anywhere. I even filmed things this year. That were never edited and never released. In fact, yesterday, I tried to turn the tide – tried to set up a rendezvous to get already shot footage so I could edit it myself and get it released in 2016. “No problem, how about Monday?” said my friend (and The Universe). So okay. That’s a wrap for me in 2016. There will officially be nothing to write home about in this year.

And that’s okay. Because all that footage, all those songs, all that writing — it still exists. And a lot of it will (hopefully) find its footing and find a place in 2017. And you know what else will probably show itself in 2017? A lot of the lessons learned and the growth and strength that were required in 2016.

All month I’ve been encouraging myself and the people I know not to count 2016 out just yet. As long as there are still minutes left in this year, there is still possibility, anything can still happen. And as we’re literally in the last days of it, I still believe it’s true. And while I’m not counting out the possibility of a life changing phone call or encounter, I’m more aware than ever that the greatest power to change my life forever, for the better is in my own hand… it might be in what I choose to do today. Or it could have been in something I did yesterday. Or maybe in something I wrote 2 weeks ago. Or filmed months ago. I don’t know.

I just know our lives are changing all the time. Moving closer to the big moments that we’ll remember as milestones, but milestones take miles to get to. So we shouldn’t count ourselves out or discount the quieter days (months/years) of our journey.

However this year was for you, I pray that 2017 is better, but I hope that you don’t buy into the idea of 2016 as a total loss. I bet you’ve grown more than you realize, learned more than you know and are better, faster, stronger than you think. And it’s not for nothing. It’s for whatever’s next. And it’s gonna be great. Any minute now…