A Year of Desire

I spent the better part of 2017’s last quarter working my way through The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte while huddled in the back of Rough Draft, drinking whatever latte the barista recommended that day. Pages and pages of my journal are filled with quotes and ponderings from the book, dotted occasionally with tear stains as I drank in the idea that my heart and emotions aren’t actually evil above all else.

[Briefly, the idea behind the book is to identify not what you wish to accomplish, but how you want to feel, and to learn to work in pursuit of those desires rather than material accomplishments.]

Therapy is another place I spent a lot of time at the end of 2017, sitting on a couch in downtown Hillsdale trying to figure out who I am and what I’m doing and what is even going on. In other words, being a young adult. When I told my therapist about this book, she asked a question that squeezed my very soul.

“What feelings would you chase if you believed you were worthy of feeling them?”

With that question ringing in my mind, I came up with these four core desired feelings. They’re not resolutions, “One Words,” or proclamations. They are the things I want to believe I am worthy of feeling. These are the desires I want to run after in 2018.

grounded. firmly planted with roots stretched deep into the ground, impossible to pull up. like a tree planted beside still waters, planted firm in the faith of my ancestors as it mingles with the things i am learning to believe for myself. feet in the grass, hands in the soil channeling nana baker as i dig and weed and prune. i want to be sure and secure in my identity, my relationships, my livelihood. to have my feet firmly planted in my truth and my arms wrapped securely around my people. i want to be connected to a community of likeminded people and to those who challenge me. to be truly known and heard and loved, to stand strong and sure in who i am and what i believe and where i come from. grounded.

insatiable. i want to always want more, to be thirsty for life and hungry for adventure. i never want to stop learning, yearning, reaching, trying. i want to always want. may life never be enough, may i always long for more joy and life and food and pleasure and adventure and peace and challenges and friends. i never want to stand throwing distance from my dreams and declare that i’m close enough. i never want to be satisfied. insatiable.

fulfilled. filled up. overflowing. i want to live out my calling, to spend my days doing work that matters and my nights pouring myself out for those i love. filled up to empty myself for others, to know beyond that shadow of a doubt that i am where i should be and doing what i should do. boots on the ground, feet on the grass, hands in the proverbial soil getting dirt under my nails while i dig ever deeper into life.  constantly chasing that feeling of sitting on the porch of the miracle building with coffee on my armrest and my bible in my lap; always longing for the dirty feet and linked arms of dusty pucallpa nights. i want to do what i was made for, live the life intended for me. fulfilled.

safe. i don’t want to have to hide who i am or pretend not to be passionate about the things that light a fire inside me. i want to be myself, loudly and honestly and truly. i want to know that i am loved and cherished no matter what i do or who i am. i don’t want to walk on eggshells or have to guess what’s okay to feel that day. i want to laugh late into the night about things that won’t make sense in the morning, to know i’m not a burden or an annoyance or too much. to take care of myself unashamedly. i want to be protected, sheltered, cared for when the world caves in; to be held when i can’t stand up anymore. safe.

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Things I am Done Apologizing For

Like many women, I frequently find myself saying “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t matter the circumstance; if I feel my presence, opinions, or personality are an inconvenience, you better believe I’m muttering a “sorry,’ and backing down. My desires, needs, wants? Unimportant. Shelved for the convenience of others’ comfort. I mentioned this to my therapist today when she told me to work on “just doing me.”

“I’m really not good at that,” I said. “It’s easier to just… not.”

She laughed, then grew serious again. “But isn’t it far scarier to live your life with yourself in the back seat?” She was right, of course. After all, that’s what I pay her for. And so, without further ado, I present you with a list of things for which I am finished apologizing.

Splashing and making noise while I swim. I’m not small. When I propel myself through the water, there will be water displacement. This is science, and is something I am unable to control. I will make my noise, breathe loudly, kick hard.

Not always wanting to talk on long drives. Seriously. Can’t we just sit in silence? Maybe listen to a podcast? I don’t hate you, I’m probably just tired.

Dipping my fries in honey mustard or ranch instead of ketchup. It’s just delicious.

Setting boundaries. Period.

Needing alone time. This goes with the long drives thing. I’m an introvert. Sometimes I just need to be alone, or at least not be actively engaging.

My political and religious beliefs. No, they aren’t a carbon copy of my parents’ and family’s beliefs. Yes, I engaged in critical thinking to come to my conclusions. No, I am not stupid just because I don’t believe exactly what you do.

Liking those awful little Totino’s party pizzas. Look. Sometimes it’s 9 pm and I haven’t eaten and I just want to sprinkle extra cheese on some glorified cardboard with highly processed “meat” and call it dinner.

My stomach, thighs, and general body shape. I am not small. I take up space. If you sit by me on an airplane, our arms and legs will probably touch. This doesn’t make me less of a person (in fact, it quite literally makes me more of a person). Sometimes my clothes might reveal the fact that I have a stomach/boobs/thighs. Because I DO HAVE THEM.

Not being head over heels in love with the USA right now. This country, right now? Is not great. It’s not welcoming the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free. It’s not treating all men as created equal. It certainly is not practicing religious equality. So no, I won’t be waving my tiny flag in a parade anytime soon.

Believing that LGBTQIA+ people are, in fact, people – deserving of full and equal rights. Do I really need to explain this? Still? In 2017?

Not running. I’ve tried. It is terrible. I do NOT feel better when I’m done. The runner’s high has to be a myth perpetuated by Big Running to try to trick me into screwing up my ankles and knees forever.

Taking care of myself. After growing up in a world where any self-care or acknowledgement of my own needs, desires, wants, or plans are selfish and my heart is “deceitful above all else,” learning to care for myself has been a steep learning curve filled with excuses and avoidance. No longer.

From here on out, I will be free.