Unpacking Grief

I was talking to my discipleship group recently about how I was processing a recent loss. One of my friends remarked how they admired how well I was handling it. I had been hearing that a lot lately, how surprisingly well I was handling it given how objectively upsetting the circumstance was. I laugh at that comment a little, because I feel like I haven’t done anything exceptionally brave or special.

I responded by explaining that it seems as though God has passed me my grief in parcels. To unpack one at a time.

I am glad I have heard His plea for me to be patient in this unpacking process, because I can almost feel the weight of what it might be like to climb up on the counter and open that messy cupboard by myself. I can imagine the mess and discomfort of letting it all hit me at once- all the questions, all the pain, and all the fear.

Instead, I wait patiently. Whether it be day by day, or week by week, or longer. Some days I let myself forget or pretend I have completely forgotten. Some days, now more than before, I don’t feel the weight of it so much, and I savor that, because its a gift. I trust that in time I will know all the little pieces that broke off in the calamity, and I will know where to return them to, or if they need a new place entirely.

Perhaps all this is a nonsense metaphor, but for me right now, it brings me so much peace to know that it is not up to me to put all the pieces back together, or to make sense of the events that caused the fallout. I am simply writing this post because my discipleship group asked me if I’ve ever thought about writing and I shyly admitted I write often, on my semi unknown blog for rambling thoughts. I decided this would be one of the few posts I’ll publish.

Year 1 of Marriage

Turns out, even when you don’t want to, even when it feels like you’re not getting what you asked for, even when you don’t understand or you’re just flat out angry- love requires something, something bigger than you’d like to give. But as it also turns out, the steady, everyday, good morning and good night kind of love lends itself to moments of completely unexpected awe as well. There are moments when I can’t seem to remember ever not knowing this person, and there are moments I see him for the first time all over again. This whole, individual person who lets me depend on me, who allows himself to depend on me.

One year ago I married my husband. I still feel every much as silly using the word husband for my best friend, because it feels so grown up, because we’re still kids in a lot of parts of our heads. That day was this kind of chaos I find myself laughing at a year later. I sit here and try to remember how eager I was to be my husband’s wife and just as everyone does I am humored by the two people who had no idea what the 1st year would require of them. We were, and often still are, blessed with an ignorant optimism about what we’re capable of. Together this year, as a young team, I graduated from college, we added a puppy to our team, we fought to open a coffee shop and finally did, I got a job, lost a job, weathered some storms and rebuilt some parts of myself, this time with someone who was looking out for me a little better than I cared to for myself. It feels like we’ve really finished this first year as a team. We are sending off this first year with some laughs, sighs of relief, well wishes and a little skip jump forward into the next year. I am proud of how we’ve grown and loved this year, but I know I am so much more excited for what is to come.

LOOK OUT It’s The Writer Nobody Asked For

Writing and I have a very will they/won’t they relationship in my head. That very sentence proves how much I live in my own mind most of the time. Here’s the thing, I love writing, I need to write. I get antsy if too much time passes and I don’t spill out my thoughts a little bit…BUT I can’t help but feel slightly aimless in my pursuit of dumping my heart and mind out through words. Who needs to know this information? Why do we as humans feel compelled to share our words? For me, it feels like my words are only half alive until they’re exposed to others.

So after much unnecessary and studious consideration, I have decided to just keep writing and sharing my words. Not for the self betterment of those reading, but for mine (sorry but welcome to the internet). If I believed I was writing to help others I think I would easily collapse within the first mile; it is far easier for me to write with reckless abandon and pray one day somehow it lands on someone and brings a sliver of thought, joy, amusement, laughter, or even judgement if that’s your style. I’d rather write for me rather than slave in thought over how to best appeal to others. That’s not my forte and I feel like that’s a little more than obvious in most art-obsessed-romantic types.

In conclusion (the way I’m pretty sure you should never conclude a piece of writing), I am writing to release the pressure in my head and heart like its a balloon about to explode.

So have a good day, don’t overthink everything & care way less. That’s my recipe today.

2019

It’s surely been a while since I’ve allowed myself to sit and write. I think due to the nature of growing up, I’ve ruled out a lot of things that feel self indulgent or unproductive, but I’m learning many of those things are things that make me come alive, so I’m back here on the keyboard.

2019 was the year I was engaged and quickly married to my best friend. There were the pre-wedding festivities with all the people I love…showers and parties, and then the post-wedding quiet that gave us the space to stretch out our arms as married people and learn about this new space we inhabit. It was the year we bought a house and began making it a home. It was the year that “coming soon” was all we could say about the coffee shop. It was the year we decided to get a puppy and name him Mowgli. It was the year I graduated from school and stepped into another new chapter. It was a year that felt a lot like promises fulfilled and also a lot like winding up a jack in the box and waiting to see what would happen next. I don’t know how I’ll remember 2019 10 years from now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll laugh at the two kids who decided to do everything in sight and didn’t even realize it because they were so blindly excited.

Gold Thread : Looking Back Last Summer

Life lately has been a little extra emotional for this ball of emotions over here. This post is kind of proof of that, but it’s also proof of something a little greater I hope.

I had a facebook memory pop up today, it reminded me where I was this time last year. I was wearing the same orange and white striped shirt I’m wearing today, and I was on top of a mountain. It was perhaps the most beautiful mountain I had ever stood on. I remember feeling it, I still feel it- the most conflicting feeling of overwhelming beauty and intense pain . . .

For someone like me, I can step into pain and really feel it all. I’m made up mostly of emotions and I’ve come to find when I feel, I feel deep and strong. Emotions seldom brush by me, rather they twist around me like a blanket, I can become completely entwined in a feeling.

I can remember standing on that mountain, feeling naked. I felt like my comfort and my safety had been mockingly taken from my hands. I felt robbed. Just the same, I felt overwhelmed with the view I had in front of me. I felt joy in the cool breeze that danced through the warm sun rays on my skin. I felt God in the lush grass that seldom saw many footprints. I felt every bit frail and collapsed as I did held together by something bigger. In that moment, I think I really learned a great contradiction: beauty in pain.

The days to follow were some of the hardest with some of the worst news. Learning one the most valuable people in your life won’t stay with you for all your days on earth like your childlike mind had pretended…well I don’t have words for that feeling, just the feeling that remains with me. In those hard days last summer, life was never more painful, the moments had never been that valuable and just the same I had never experienced so much joy in such small places

 

I recently heard this quote from a woman named Ruthie Lindsey, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”. I don’t know why this is true, but it is. God met me in a hollow place and he showed me overflowing beauty. He showed me the overwhelming beauty of a smile, and it was only so beautiful because there would be days where I didn’t see one. I saw birds differently, I saw my family differently, I saw flowers and water and food differently.

 

Looking back at last summer, I see the golden thread woven throughout the most painful memories. A laugh in a hospital room became the very best thing I’d ever heard. Life isn’t all pain, and it’s definitely not all beauty, but I am thankful for a God who can use pain, who wastes nothing- who uses every piece of the pain for beauty.

 

 

 

If you’re walking through something right now & can’t see the beauty, that’s okay, just keep your eyes open and it will find you. And if you need some encouragement in your inbox, send me an email & I’d love to send you some words that might bring some light or hope to your life right now.

with love

 

The Word of our 20’s

As a kid/teenager, I never really realized how much of my life was mapped out for me. I didn’t realize there would come a time where me and my friends had to choose our own paths and make decisions only we could make. Coming to college and into adulthood has introduced a new word to my life: should. It’s my least favorite word. It is often full of anxiety and shame and all the wrong reasons. I use this word when I feel in adequate or confused- when I’m comparing my path to those of the people around me. Becoming an adult has meant making my own decisions, living my own life and having to accept the fact that my everyday will look different than those to the left and right of me.

I chronically suffer with doubting I’m doing it right. If I see success or goodness on someone else’s path, I often think I must need that to find my own success as well- completely ignoring God’s own unique plan for just me, and believing there is simply one or two ‘right’ ways. In my doubt I begin to think..

“I should do more”

“I should clean my house more”

“Why am I not doing that too?”

“I should I should I should”

Maybe the word makes you cringe like it does for me too. Whenever I hear a friend utter that word, more often than not I tell them, “should is a bad word”. I looked up the definition of this word I’m writing about, and it only reinforces what I’ve found to be true in my own life:

should
verb
  1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions

I wonder why we often let obligation and “correctness” be our guide– shaming us into inadequacy. It is truly a word of comparison. So instead of nagging myself with “I should really go to the gym” I want to reframe my thoughts to be more loving and gentle:  “I want to go to the gym to take care of the body I have been given”.

In creativity there is no room for this shaming comparison, yet I often find myself thinking “I should practice more so I can make work like that”. Instead, the thing that will truly bring me into my own best work is working from a place of rest, knowing I don’t need to catch up, or be the same. We each have our own paths, our own best next step forward. ‘Should’ simply has no place as we navigate our own unique and completely personally-written paths.

Thanks for reading this, I hope some of it made sense and you step back and think the next time you hear should come into the conversation.

Two Months into Graphic Design School

I’m so proud of that cliff hanger title…definitely too proud, because there’s nothing too earth-shattering here, more just a life update. Two months into Graphic Design school and I love it. It’s hard, my classes are all 3 hours long and sometimes I spend an hour long class attempting to perfectly draw one letter, but I love it. (side note: you may find some new changes in my site/my portfolio)

Deciding to change tracks from studying photography to studying graphic design was a big deal for me. It wasn’t simply changing my college major, no, not for this ball of emotions and heavy heavy feelings- this was an existential decision- a move away from something I’d been chasing for 6 years and a step into the unknown…I know, welcome to my brain.

I feel SO much peace about this change of creative focus and SO much joy that I took the risk to apply to a program I felt way unqualified to step into. And now here I am, calling myself a graphic designer. And I truly truly love it. It combines all my passions in one study- photography, illustration, writing, design, and typography.

Now here’s a little list about the unique traits of being in art/design school :

  • those lovely previously mentioned, 3 hours studio classes
  • hours of work outside the studio (daily)
  • an expectation to invest your whole mind and heart into your classwork, simply doing the bare minimum isn’t good enough…for your professors or for your own personal convictions
  • a community of people who you commiserate with, work through pieces with, eat with, laugh with and maybe even cry with (it’s not as uncommon as you may think) (or maybe I’m just too emotional)
  • being driven by making work you’re proud of instead of just making an A in a class
  • you know most people are there for a purpose deeper than just getting a degree so they can get a job

I wanted to write this post because I am trying to be better about blogging/writing in general. I’ve started seeing it as a way to archive thoughts and stories along my way, something to look back on, and also just a way for my mom to keep tabs on me…

with love,

Emily

Wednesday PostJune 7- June 14first week in Austria

Here are some photos from our first week in Austria. Please enjoy these photos, I’ve been so overwhelmed by the beauty and peace of nature lately. While these photos may capture some real beauty, we’re walking through a valley in life right now. The days are hard and these are photos of the good times, we are holding tight to the good times. I’m learning how important it is to enjoy rest and joy amidst trial and heart ache. God is meeting me right where I am right now. He is literally leading me to green pastures and still waters.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

PSALM 23:1-3

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Jägersee: we walked the loop around the lake and had dinner. When we walked up to the lake, it was so quiet and there were literal SWANS on the water, it felt like paradise. Perfection doesn’t exist on this planet but God is good to show us glimmers of Heaven.emilylouise-1286emilylouise-1291emilylouise-1300emily louise livingston 2emilylouise-1310

One more stop on our way to Oberndorf- Rossbrand Mountain, my mom said it’s possibly the best view of Austria she’s ever seen. It’s kind of wild how quiet it is when you’re so high on a mountain. We enjoyed the sunshine and sat in the grass while equally knowing this is what the calm before the storm feels like. God is with me on the mountaintop and in the valley.

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

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Mountain cows are the best cows.

My family at my uncle’s 60th birthday party, missing dad and Grace.

The oldest coffee house in Salzburg – where Mozart took his coffee.

Life is hard and beautiful and God is with us and He is good.

California Trip 2017

In March my sister, mom and I got to spend a few days traveling around California. My favorite moments in California are always always driving along the coast. It was a simple trip, we stayed with friends, we drove around, mom told us about the glory days of how she rode her bike to her University and how she worked a full time job and yada yada (honestly my mom was such a badass and I love her California stories).

I took as many photos as I could until my mom and grace were rolling their eyes at me (my general photo parameters when photographing my loved ones).

California, I love your humidity, your flora, your sunshine and your coastlines.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Austria – December 2015

This is my home and my heart. It is constant and seems to be unchanging. It was an amazing trip, and it was so cool to be able to bring Matthew along with us and show us a piece of who we all are.

Home is where I was born

Home is where I’ve only been once

Home is where I go every summer

and once every 2 years

Home is where my bed is

Home is where my bed isn’t

Home is where I will never stop returning to

Home is a delicate, aged pair of hands holding mine

Home isn’t one place or even two

Home is the places I leave pieces of myself

Like breadcrumbs

I’ll find myself coming back home

Home is sometimes a plane ride away

Home can be out a door

Home is here

Home is way over there too

Home is that worn out cliche

Home is where my heart is