Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are You a Bear or a Goat?

No, I'm not talking about Chinese New Year.

On the retreat weekend, we watched this clip by nursing scholar, Brene Brown. It literally takes about a minute or two to watch and speaks volumes.

If you're just lazy and don't feel like getting in touch with your visual learning side, I'll sum it up for you in a nutshell -

The clip shows a fox and a bear with the narrator (Brown) talking about the differences in empathy and sympathy. It shows the bear going "down in the dark hole" with the fox and simply just being there. It then shows a goat representing sympathy coming down and trying to "silver-line" the situation. In the end, the bear just puts his arm around the fox, signifying empathy.

In the last two months, I've had a handful of friends who I would consider the "bears" in my life. They've gotten down in the hole with me. They've listened, they haven't talked and tried to tell me everything will be ok. They've let me cry on the phone, let me cry on their shoulder, and curse and vent about it all. Some of these "bears" include Tammy, Lindsay, Heather, Laura, Brie, Ashley, & Bridgett.

There have been a few goats. They mean well, but really, they don't know what to say so they just make up the first thing off the top of their head that is automatically supposed to make me feel better. I don't think the "goats" read my blog but I'm not going to list them, regardless.

So, are you a bear or a goat? It's ok if you're a goat. I'm pretty sure we've all been goats plenty of times because let's face it - when life gets hard for people we love, we want to make it better.

But in the last two months, to be completely honest, the best way to make it better is simply to just shut up and be there for them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Retreat

This weekend I got to attend a women's retreat hosted by Coaches Honor, a ministry started by my aunt and uncle. I was apprehensive about going. I knew about 2 other people going and even though I like meeting new people, my heart hasn't exactly been in a warm spot lately.

The theme for the week was on the Prodigal Son. If you've read Tim Keller's Prodigal God, you know that the story isn't about the wayward son, but more on the father's heart for his son. In each breakout session, we talked about which son we were - the older or the younger brother.

We also shared stories. Lately, I've discovered that I'd rather get to know someone's story than be surfaced and this weekend provided many opportunities to hear other people's stories. It made me see that in the midst of the crap and uncertainty I've been walking through, that it's just a part of the story I'm telling.

This quote from Paul Miller was on the back of the t-shirts for the retreat and pretty much sums up life for me today:

"Often when you think everything has gone wrong, it's just that you're in the middle of a story."

I hope one day that all I've gone through with an unforeseen break-up, living in the middle of confusion, and transitioning back from another place will be helpful to someone else going through a storm of their own. Everyone has a story. They're all different, but we all struggle with pain and rejection and wounds that are deeper than we'd ever let anyone else see.




Monday, April 6, 2015

A Story of Loss (in a good way)

Six years ago, I started working out with Kim. I lost a total of 70 pounds in a year 1/2. In the last three years, I put 40 pounds back on due to stress of seminary, then moving to a country whose main diet consists of bread, cheese, potatoes, and beer. Not to mention desserts and pastries from the local bakery.

When I came back in December, I wanted to start getting fit again b/c my fat jeans had turned into jeans that hardly fit anymore. I struggled in Orlando because I couldn't find a rhythm (though I know why now) and then when the break-up happened and I moved back to Jax, I decided I needed something to keep my mind occupied.

Kim was glad to have me join again and three weeks ago I started with boot camp and personal training. My goal is to lose a total of 70lbs once more. Originally back in 2009, my goal had been 85lbs and I was only 15 away from that but sadly, that never happened. This time, I'm not quitting.

I've lost 14lbs so far and I'm so excited about this. It might not seem like much, but last week I was able to get a dress from Ann Taylor Loft and I haven't been able to shop in a store w/o plus sizes for three years now!

There's a reason for everything. I don't think if the break up had ever happened I would have taken weight loss seriously again. But I'm doing this for me. Nobody else. I can't wait to see what the final outcome looks like.

Sometimes loss can be a good thing. As much as I'm still mourning what was, I am coming to realize what I gained in the aftermath.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

She Brings Me Joy

My counselor told me last week to seek things out that bring me life. It didn't take me long to list the three things right now that are life giving and joy-full. I applied for my last seminary course to be started in May and I'll FINALLY Have my MA in Educational Ministries in August. YAY! I also applied every and anywhere that was hiring for a theatre teacher or where I felt I could best use my gifts. I've heard back from a few, mostly 'thank-you-but-we're-hiring-from-the-inside', but still. At least I know where I'm not supposed to be. And God has opened my heart to new directions. I want to be closer to my family for once in my life. More or less because of this baby here:


I'm probably biased, but my niece is the most beautiful child I've ever laid eyes on. And I've gotten to spend so much time with her in the last three weeks. She always makes me smile and is the happiest baby in the world. It also helps that she thinks I'm hilarious. It doesn't take much for her to laugh at a silly face. I can have a horrible day and when I go over to visit, my whole world is made better.

Lauren brings me joy. And I need a lot of joy in my life right now.


Friday, March 27, 2015

What to Say

Watching the news about this Germanwings plane crash has really hit home. They keep showing a map of a continent and countries with which I'm so familiar. And today and yesterday my kiddos in Germany left to go to their various mission trips around Asia, Africa, & Europe. I couldn't help but be somewhat concerned for them. And I know they're resilient to flights and airplanes, but it still got me a little worried.

Not to mention I've just...missed them. Especially this week. I think because I know had I stayed I would've been leaving on a mission trip with them. And if I'm honest, I haven't really given myself a chance to mourn Germany like I thought I would. When I got back to America it was one big whirlwind and the person I thought cared so much about me and my life there, really wasn't interested in hearing about it except a few times. So I kept it all inside and soon life here became more about my relationship with someone who inevitably knew it would end before it was given a chance.

And now...nobody really asks me about Germany. That's not a plea or a cry for anything. It's just honesty. The questions now are more about what's next, how my heart is, how I'm doing...which is all well and good and great. But do the last 2 1/2 years I spent in a country that I love with amazing people not count for anything anymore? I was there a lot longer than I was with him.

I finally came to a place of reconciliation with myself, at least in the part of the journey that's led me to Jacksonville. I know that I'm here right now and that I don't have any idea of what's next. And the best thing I can do is choose to live in the circumstances given to me. I can't fight it and really, if it wasn't for my parents, I'd be on the street right now. So as low and as crummy as I feel right now, I know that I have to continue walking in it for as long as it takes.

On a random note, if you want to contact me, email me at allistroud78@gmail.com. I don't know how soon I'll respond, but since I'm off FB inevitably, it's a good way to keep up.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mourning

Nearly a month ago, my world was rocked and what I thought I'd moved back to America for was completely shot into oblivion. To be honest, I have no idea what I'm mourning more - a relationship that I thought was going to be "it" or the continent I've lived off and on for 12 years and left to pursue the former.

I signed off Facebook and although it happened around the same time as Lent, I did it more for my mental sanity. I didn't want to be bombarded with all of the questions and, selfishly, I didn't really want to see anything going on in Kandern for a while. I just needed my head to breathe if that makes any sense.

Everyday I wake up and feel either worse or better than the day before. I'm essentially transitioning from two different experiences and feel quite alone though it all. My best friends are spread out all over Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, and Europe. And because I didn't really give anyone any notice that I was getting off Facebook, I'm not in touch with a lot of people. I guess you take the good with the bad? I don't know.

There seemed to be somewhat of a light at the end of this long and dark tunnel - on Monday I had a job interview in Ft. Lauderdale to teach next year. As I was driving on 595 and then onto Federal Hwy, I could feel my spirit begin to awaken for the first time in 3 weeks. I'm not saying that living back in South Florida will solve all of my problems because I know that I can't escape them. But at least I know it's a familiar place that I know with friends and a church waiting for me.

So, this is where I am. Just sitting and waiting and doing my best to keep my mind occupied. Walking in the pain is something that comes with all of this and I'm definitely doing my share of that. I'm just waiting to feel like myself once again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This Describes Everything.

Yes, there has been heartbreak. Yes, the expectation of what I thought would be is dead. But today a friend sent me this song and it is exactly what I needed to hear....

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again - Danny Gokey

You're shattered
Like you've never been before
The life you knew
In a thousand pieces on the floor
And words fall short in times like these
When this world drives you to your knees
You think you're never gonna get back
To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning
Just let that word wash over you
It's alright now
Love's healing hands have pulled you through
So get back up, take step one
Leave the darkness, feel the sun
Cause your story's far from over
And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak
And every scar
Be a picture that reminds you
Who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working
Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday's a closing door
You don't live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you've been
And tell your heart to beat again
Your heart to beat again
Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again