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day 26: the flu, pt. 3: contingency plans

Thursday, 3/31/2016 

I never plan for getting sick. I mean, I don’t think anyone really does. “In two weeks, I’ll get the flu…” Uh no- that’d be weird. 

But before my brain surgery- I always had a plan for getting sick. Because I didn’t ever just get “normal people sick.” If I got a common cold, or the flu, oh holy Lord… - double the pain, uncomfortability, and frustration felt normally, and we’re in the outskirts of the ballpark of what my friends and family have lovingly dubbed “beckybrain." No lie. Your brain being strangely positioned will do that to you - both the pain and the horrible nickname. 

So I had a plan: icepacks. If I could strategically headband (yeah, those stretchy workout ones) 2-3 children’s lunchbox icepacks to the base of my head/neck, I could manage for a few hours until I could go home, lay down, put more icepacks on my head, and wait a few hours (aka 6-36 dependent on that days severity) for things to return to normal. 

Because of this, it never occurred to me that there was such a thing as “normal people sick” and that it sucked too. Until this week. And I was not prepared. No plan in place. Totally planned for the crisis, but never planned for the normal. 

This shouldn’t shock me. I’ve never had a contingency plan for my life. Why would I have any type of plan for being sick? I feel like normal people have back up plans. Not me. Which is funny because I think I’m currently living in one - the backup, contingency, never-really-thought-this-through plan. My original unplanned plan, was to be successful in the entertainment industry. That was it. There wasn’t much planning to the plan. So I guess, somewhat inevitably, here I am, living in a contingency plan that I made up along the way. Geez - how many times can I say “plan” in one paragraph?

So, now what? 

Well, I’m still young. 25 is still young, right? Even though, when I was little, 25 seemed ancient and I was convinced that by 25, I’d be a millionaire, a popstar, a business owner, in movies, a wife, a mom, a gymnast, a teacher, have won every award imaginable, somehow have managed to compete in the Olympics, and have met my ever elusive goal of being a teenager? Yeah. 25 is still young.

Yeah.

Obviously those dreams have shifted and changed. I mean, be a teenager? Been there, done that. #winning. So beyond that, what is there…? Just kidding. But they have changed. (Thank God.) 

Some days I don’t even totally know what they are anymore. And I find that everyone around me asks me (and wants me) to define them.

“What do you want to do? What’s your dream? What’s your end goal? What’s your plan? How are you going to make it happen?” 

Well, put it this way. I never in my wildest dreams thought that doing this would fall into the dream category. Writing. Speaking. Sharing my faith. Wanting to be in ministry. “In ministry” - not a huge fan of the term, but I should get over myself - bigger fish to fry, B, bigger fish to fry.  

Having this little outlet to write about all the unreal stuff that God has done in my life, share my insights (hopefully theologically sound ones,) and encourage those who read it… that’s spurred on a whole new dream - a big one. One that still somehow fits in with the old dreams - the changed ones - not the list above. Though some still make the cut. Believe it or not, being a popstar is not high on the list of priorities these days.

And you know what? There’s still no concrete plan. I’ve got ideas and goals. But I still have no idea how it will all fit. Like none. Some days I don’t even know what the next right move is. But I do know that if I make the next right choice, take the next right step, and listen carefully to the next right nagging of the Holy Spirit, I’ll be ok. I’ll be more than ok. 

When I was a baby, my nana gave me “my verse."

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Ps 37:4. 

I always found it so encouraging - but I would also get so frustrated. 12 year old Becky’s prayers went something like: Ok Lord, I love you. I delight in you. Why am I not a popstar? 

But now it’s the verses around it that get me. 

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong. For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. -  Ps 37:1-7a

My nana was the wisest lady I’ve ever met. She passed away before I began the blog - but she was around for the attack and the aftermath. She was around for a lot. When she gave me that verse as a baby, she couldn't have known that it was the first place I would turn when I decided to go on this journey, but that my eyes would fall just barely above those familiar words…

“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

She couldn’t have known how desperately I would need those words when I didn’t feel righteous. When I felt I was to blame. But Jesus knew. He knew that when I was so angry, I didn’t want to open my bible, I’d need to turn to a place that was easily found. And He knew that when my eyes landed on those words in the verses preceding "my verse," I’d be set free from blame and self condemnation.  

We can’t plan for life. We can dream of how we’d like it to go - but we don’t know the twists and turns - both good and bad. We don’t have a play by play of those we will encounter who are evil. I mean, I never planned to be on a journey ignited by sexual assault. But here I am. And now I’ve got a cause. And one day, the justice of the cause will shine like the noon day sun.

In the in between - I’ve got to continue to trust. To do good. To dwell. To enjoy safety. To delight in him. To commit. To be still. And to wait patiently. I’ve got to be ok with being 25 and being where I’m at. I’ll have to be ok with the fact that I never competed in the Olympics. (The hilarious thing about that is that I have no idea what it was that I thought I would compete in.)

And duh, 25 is young. There’s a lot of time left to do it all - whatever “all” is. What’s nuts is that three years ago, I didn’t have a lot of time left. I was living “on borrowed time” as my doctor said, and I didn’t even know it. So I’d say things are looking pretty freakin great. 

I’m actually not living in the contingency plan- I’m living in the plan. The one God had picked for my life from the very beginning. I’ve obviously taken a few detours - where’s the fun in a straight line - but it’s the path. The life path. I’m in the plan and I’m on the path - and it just doesn’t get much better than that. 

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jer 29:1 

Day 2: don't ya know that you're toxic?

Monday, 3/7/2016

So in the past few weeks I’ve become pretty obsessed with the idea of removing any and all toxic chemicals and allergens from my life in my food, beauty products, and household cleaning products (yes, yes - this is me being your typical white girl. Case in point: I simply cannot let the chance for an apropos Britney gif go by without taking it.)

But seriously, I was shocked when I learned about the harmful chemicals present in what we are lathering our bodies with ladies (and gentlemen.) Unreal.

What’s more unreal, is the junk we allow into our minds. I’m realizing that part of my desire to remove all this material toxicity from my world might stem from my subconscious knowing that I need to deal with the mental toxicity too.

Chemicals are the toxins affecting my physical body, and negativity is the toxin affecting my mind. 

boat jump.jpg

Negativity: well, that’s general. But I think it’s only general because it’s so widespread. It’s a pesticide that seems to spray every part of life. When was the last time I didn’t feel negative? Four days ago on the speedboat in Antigua. Jumping off the boat, eating on the beach, flying through the waves (sometimes whilst seriously questioning if I was about to go overboard,) hearing JD’s story, and laying in the water while it rained. Four days?! Four days is a long time. The inner knowledge that my life doesn’t look the way I want it to still existed that day, but I felt the teeniest part of my adventurous spirit peak it’s head around the corner and say, “hey, nice to see you again.” I remembered that I get to choose which steps I take next. 

Not too long later, I got some news that inspired one of the worst feelings around. Envy. 

Envy is an icky icky thing. There’s a reason that its known as one of the seven deadly sins.     

[Can we talk about that ‘America’s Next Top Model’ seven deadly sins photo shoot though from like a million seasons ago for just a second? So good.]

Envy makes me feel gross. Like what type of person doesn’t want to be happy for someone else when something good happens for them? I don’t think anybody wants to feel envy. It’s certainly not something we go around advertising. “Hey everybody!! I’m so jealous of blah blah blah, hear me roar!” But we do feel it. We are human after all. 

What’s interesting about my experience with envy these days is that it always turns to annoyance at myself. Probably rightly so. My thought pattern tends to go like this:

  1. “I wish                            would happen for me!” 
  2. “ Yeah but how could                            happen for you when you're too afraid to try?” 
  3. “Uhhhh hello have you seen the last two years of my life? Cut me a little slack.” 
  4. “Yeah, Becky, you’ve given yourself enough slack - it’s time to put your big girl pants on and get over yourself. If you want                    ,  go get it.” 
  5. “You’re right. But what if I try and                    happens and [insert negative emotion or experience here.] 

So, I have the awareness to know that envy is childish and unhelpful. Thank God. #winning (at least a little bit.) What I have trouble getting away from is the “slack" part. The me version of the little Lizzie McGuire cartoon that tells us Lizzie’s thoughts on the show, Lizzie McGuire, (a very important part of my pre-teen years) having this internal convo is not wrong.

I have needed to cut myself slack - yes. But I’m thinking it’s been the wrong kind of slack. It’s been the slack of excuses instead of the slack of mindfulness. And excuses lead back to negativity. And negativity leads back to the pit. And the pit sucks.

Negativity accuses and mindfulness observes. Negativity beats you down and mindfulness asks to help you move forward. For example: 

Thought: “I really need to prioritize my health and wellness.” 

Negativity: “ Yeah but today has been a tough day. And if ordering Indian food and cookies makes you feel better, you go ahead and do that. But don’t complain when you’re fatter tomorrow.” 

Mindfulness: “Am I actually hungry? If not, what am I trying to ignore by eating Indian food and cookies? If I am, is there a healthy option that doesn’t employ deprivation?” 

Negativity complicates everything. It strips away the simplicity of - this is how I feel - ‘x.’ This is what I want - ‘y.’ 

The more I read about life and health, the more I realize that to live a life of mindfulness requires retraining the brain. It is 100% the opposite of how the world communicates with us and therefore, 100% the opposite of how we’ve been conditioned to communicate with both ourselves and others.

I now feel overwhelmed. 

This whole 52 day thing is starting to feel like a total chore and why did I even set out to do this in the first place? I need a little reminding. So I go stalk the Team Wadadli (the Antiguan rowing team) Facebook page, and subsequently stalk a ton of other teams' Facebook pages and blogs, as one does, and I’m reminded why I started. (Don’t even try to tell me that you do not do some social media stalking every once in a while!)

The fact that I need reminding on DAY 2 scares me a little, but hey - keep on keeping on. And looking at those photos and videos of them coming into the harbour, the excitement, the sense of accomplishment, the victory... well, it gave me just the reminder I needed. 

In case you can’t guess it by now, I don’t believe in chance encounters, but I do believe in divine appointment. I believe that people are put in our paths and we are put in others’ paths for specific reasons, usually without knowledge of it. I know that JD was put in my path to jolt me awake to the adventure of life. It’s only with a sense of adventure that I would be willing to fight my way back. And the only way I'd hear that was if the vessel was completely new.

PS: I can’t decide if this is going to be suuuuuuper awkward if for some bizarre and very unlikely reason JD ever reads this. Hopefully it would fall on the - I’m so glad my story impacted a complete stranger in a positive way spectrum and not a - this random chick is crazy spectrum. But as one of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing once said to me, “it’s none of your damn business what anybody else thinks about you."

I have no idea where this leaves me and I have no idea what the next step is. There seem to be a bajillion to choose from. But I do know that the negative part of me wants to say that I’m getting nowhere, while the mindful part of me wants to encourage me to keep moving, even if at a snail’s pace. And for the first time in a long time, I'm going to choose to be mindful - not negative.