The drive back home was riddled with blinding rainstorms and interstate standstills so I had plenty of time to think back to life in Los Angeles and life in Jacksonville… The people I met, the things I learned, the growth that took place. As I look back over the last five years there are definitely some people who stand out in my mind. Some of these people are like Kirsten, Liz, and Tracy who became my close friends and made life fun. Liz was my adventure pal. We scaled a waterfall, paddle boarded and kayaked our way through various marinas and hiked our way through various mountain ranges during my time in Los Angeles. I hope to start an annual girls adventure vacay with some of my LA friends and some of my Jacksonville friends soon. I have so much more to see and experience and I want to make travel a top priority once I have the debt paid off and am back in my own place. Kirsten, Larissa, Nora & Lauren were my Mosaic friends. I met them all in a life group. On my first visit I knew I’d found friends and we became just that close friends doing life together. I miss having that in my life, but I am hopeful I will have some ladies to do life with again soon.
Someone I probably have not mentioned at all on this blog is a man named Joel. He was a producer at a church I went to for a while prior to making Mosaic my home church. I was freshly sober and scared of everything and somehow got put on the production team of this church to basically run the services. By that, I mean I ran the ever so important Macbook that ran the pre and post house music, the pre and post screen loops, the worship lyrics, the teaching screens, the videos… the only thing I did not run was the lights and sound, but I learned how to do that too… well, the lights at least. When I say I was scared of everything, I mean I really was scared of everything and everyone. I had no idea how to do anything without alcohol and I walked around looking like a deer in headlights to everyone I encountered. People were always asking me if I was okay and I always gave a very unsure “yeah”. Joel had the task of taking this deer in headlights girl and making her into someone who could run church services like a pro and that is exactly what he did. I remember the first time I was up to run point and he, being very smart, did not tell me. Instead, he let me figure it out when I heard him praying for me in our pre-service prayer. I had no time to freak out or get upset or think anything really. The only thing I could do was quickly go over what I needed to do and just do it and I did.
This experience came in handy shortly thereafter when I was working with a filmmaker on a live non-profit show that featured celebrity guests. One day I showed up a tad late at our downtown show location and the first words out of her mouth were “good you’re wearing something nice. The host cancelled. You’re it.” And just as before, I did not have time to freak out and I relied on my previous experience to ask the questions I needed to ask and memorized what I needed to memorize and about 45 minutes later, after introducing myself to the celebrity guest and getting some information from him – I took the stage and played host for the evening. It was so much fun! I got to welcome the audience, introduce the guest and occasionally remind everyone why we were all there – for a charity called Kids Need to Read. It was a great evening and we had a great time and more importantly I had a great time doing something I never thought I would ever do! I’m an introvert after all, but I have realized that doing what I never thought I would do has been the name of the game for this deer in headlights girl.
After leaving Los Angeles, I got involved in Celebrate Recovery and soon found myself back on a stage. This time I was giving my alcohol testimony and I did it for a few CR’s in the Jacksonville area. The more I get on stage, the more comfortable I become. I have learned the hard way that the only way to get over something that scares you is to do that very thing you fear. Now, I give other people advice on how to overcome their fears and I routinely put those with public speaking fear on the spot because it is the only way anyone can ever over come that fear. My next move is to get my teaching/preaching feet wet either in CR or in a Women’s Ministry, but I guess I need a CR or a church home for that.
Actually, my CR leaders Jay and Karen in Florida also had a big impact on my growth over the last couple of years. Looking back I now know the reason I was led to Celebrate Recovery – I needed a lot of healing. I needed to learn to love myself. I needed to learn how to make healthy choices and healthy decisions and healthy boundaries. I needed to raise my self-respect and my self worth and that is exactly what I did. I also was able to get my ministry feet wet by learning to become the women’s share group leader. Jay and Karen are also the ones who got me onto the testimony circuit and provided feedback so I could get better at speaking in public. I also needed to learn to love others, but I think that comes with being comfortable with yourself and understanding who and what you are.
This leads to the people that made the most impact on me. The Liz’s, Tonia’s and Tracy’s – the people who like me for me. They think I am funny and intelligent and pretty and a whole lot of fun. I didn’t know anyone could like me without alcohol. I lived most of my life under the oppression of extreme social anxiety and it was not until I got sober, learned to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and started making sober friends that I found true friendships that showed me things I never knew about my self. I do belong and I do have a place in this world and there are people who cherish me for me. I guess this is the biggest lesson I have learned because it is the lesson that freed me from trying to be anyone except me.
I do not know what lies ahead for me, but I do know that I can handle whatever is coming my way. Right now I am focusing on job hunting and once I land a job I can start making a place for myself while I get back on my financial feet. I always wanted to leave Memphis and never come back, but maybe I wanted to leave because of what I needed to learn.
"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls." - Anais Nin
I find myself walking up to a fork in the road. I am not there yet, but I can feel it coming. It has been both a blessed and a cursed year with the curse being extreme financial lacking and it has weakened my resolve. I am exhausted from the strain of not being able to cover my basic needs much less attend outings to which I have been invited. I am also finding that I hate the hectic pace of my current career. I swear I do nothing but bend over and take it in the rear all day long and for absolutely no reason at that. But this is the glory of being in the distribution world…Not.
The fork that I see coming is the decision to stay in the entertainment industry… albeit in a completely different part or jump ship to a stable, slower paced and financially rewarding private sector institution. There are pros and cons to both roads. Road 1 (the industry) has definite advantages for writers: creative environment; networking with agents, actors and producers; and privy to the inside scoop on everything Hollywood. The down side of the industry would be the long hours, high stress and hectic work environments often supporting projects you don’t support or believe in and until you make it past a certain milestone – very not great pay or benefits. Meanwhile, Road 2 (the private institution) has its own pluses and minuses. Pluses would be the slower pace and non-neurotic managers, the better pay, hours and benefits, as well as better job growth and job security and a better possibility of actually supporting that for which you toil. The only minus on this road is the simple fact that I would be out of the creative scope for a majority of my day.
No doubt to many of you it seems like the simplest decision on the planet. Road 2 clearly has more advantages than Road 1, but Road 1 still has my heart or at least some of it.
Considering the fact that I am known for making bad decisions and passing up opportunities like they number the stars in the sky, I have thought about partaking in an experiment of sorts: Do whatever it is that I do not want to do. In other words, if I want to go left – go right. But I struggle with this decision. You see even with all of the hardship I have endured out here in LA, I still feel I am supposed to be here. I still feel that I am right where I am supposed to be; I still feel that it was the right decision – It’s just not making complete sense yet.
And so I continue to make my way towards this fork in the road, hoping with each step, that the decision will somehow be made for me, that perhaps circumstance will force me onto one road versus the other. If not, I will have to decide whether I should go with my gut like I have always done or try something new and do the exact opposite.
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood
“There comes a moment when you have to stop revving up the car and shove it into gear.” – David Mahoney.
Anyone remember that video you saw in biology class? You know the one where a jaguar has two little cubs and the male cub is very active while the female cub is timid and refuses to do anything but hide? Well, for some reason I have always identified myself with that female cub. In the video this female cub’s fear causes her to refrain from activities that would teach her to survive resulting in her becoming someone else’s dinner. From the moment I saw this documentary something inside of me said, “That’s me. And that’s what’s going to happen to me.” Why, I haven’t the slightest idea. There is no proof to back up such a thought, but nonetheless, I have believed and acted upon that very thought for quite some many years.
I am now in the process of taking back my God given power. I think I’ve been afraid to make mistakes. Someone I once looked up to spoke about how if we get off our divine paths we would miss the blessings of God. While I think this person probably meant well, I took what they said and allowed it to create a state of fear in me and just like that female cub I chose to simply not. I’ve never had the privilege of being one of those lovely people who practically came out of the womb knowing exactly what they wanted to do with their lives and my timid personality did nothing but prolong the ugly situation. As life would have it I have gotten a well-rounded idea of what I do not like and what I do not want to do with my life by refraining to do and just be. So now I am starting over at the about to be lovely age of thirty-two. Am I scared? Yes. Do I care? Not really. If I want to design a new life for myself and go after my own God given dreams I cannot stay in my current city, as it does not meet my needs. And I have to admit that the prospect of just picking up and moving across the country in the middle of a not so great economy does not sit too well with eighty percent of my being. The other twenty percent, however, is one hundred percent on board with the notion.
This whole scenario has me thinking about Abraham and Isaac. I mean if I’m this uncomfortable with the simple notion of moving across the country without a secured job, how much more freaked out was Abraham to take his son up to that alter! Thankfully, for Abraham and Isaac, God only wanted to see the extent of Abraham’s loyalty and never actually intended on making Abraham perform such a sacrifice. That’s pretty much the scenario I’ve been hoping for… However, there are times when God does want us to step out of our comfort zone and do something that we might have zero comfort in doing. But if God does require us to step out of our comfort zone or go through something unpleasant we can be sure He has a reason for asking us to do so. I have found that God usually uses such experiences to teach us something about ourselves, about Him or both.
Take the very well known tale by the name of Alice in Wonderland, for example. Alice struggled with doing what everyone told her she ought to do versus living life by her own rule book and following her heart. During her trip to Wonderland she yet again gets confronted with everyone trying to tell her who she is and what she is supposed to do only this time she was being told things she couldn’t begin to believe about herself or her own ability and it was not until she remembered who her father was that she realized who she really was and finally harnessed her own power. Drawing a parallel between Alice in Wonderland and God might seem a bit odd, but just like Alice, once you and I realize just who our spiritual Father is, we will recognize that we too have the power to make our own God-given dreams a reality.
Will there be fear? Yes, but one thing I’ve learned you can always count on is this: God will either provide the way or walk with you hand in hand the entire way through. So, if you, like myself, are about to embark on a journey that you know you must make, but feel a bit overwhelmed concerning those darn what-if thoughts… Well, take heart. God has a plan to either supernaturally supply what you need like He did for Abraham or He will walk beside you the entire way while imparting His wisdom to boot. Either way, if you keep close to God and keep moving forward you will reach your destination and come into your own destiny and I know I will too.
I will prepare and someday my chance will come. ~ Abraham Lincoln
I don’t have many resolutions for 2012, but the ones I do have will sustain me in the now and prepare me for the very near future.
Resolution 1: Replace my math with God’s math
I am borrowing this concept from The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. In the book the concept looks something like this:
For most of us, when we have a dream or goal in life we usually tally up our ability to reach that dream or goal with a formula similar to the one below.
My abilities + my experience + my training + my personality + my appearance + my past + the expectations of those around me = my outcome.
There are two main problems with this formula. The first being that everything is dependent upon what you did before you figured out what you want to do with your life. The second problem is the fact that it is extremely limiting in terms of who can amount to what. The good news is there is another formula out there. God’s formula and it looks something like this:
My willingness + my weakness + God’s will + God’s supernatural power = our outcome.
With God all things are possible. If God works through His children on this planet in order to do great things then shouldn’t we, His children, expect Him to want to step in and assist when we feel as though we might have bitten off more than we can chew or dreamed a dream larger than we know how to handle?
The only problem with God’s math is that for most of us, it contradicts our common sense, our life experiences, our feelings, our teachings and it can make us appear to be complete idiots to the outside world. But when you look at the lives of the most successful, more often than not, you will find evidence of God’s math at work and not our own. If you look closely at their lives, almost every single one of them had divine appointments that pretty much set the stage for the success they enjoy today. The good news is God can and will do the same for each of us too! We just have to seek His will for the dreams and goals we hold.
Resolution 2: Write. Write. Write.
If you want to be a paid writer, then you have to write, right? Well, for those like me out there, whether or not we write is not really the question. I write because I absolutely have to. I’m always writing. I’m always thinking about a project I’m working on or I’m jotting down pieces to a new project that is in the process of revealing itself. I carry multiple note pads and sets of pens with me everywhere I go! A writer writes and that is what I do though I do have to admit that for quite a bit of this past year I became very disillusioned and actually stopped writing. Then a little shimmer of light appeared and I’ve been in high gear ever since. I am currently working on three TV specs and intend to begin three feature length specs and a possible novel.
I guess you could say I’m exercising Resolution 1 while carrying out Resolution 2 in that I can write these projects, but as far as getting in touch with the right people at the right time and in the right place to actually make any of these projects become a reality… Well that would be where divine appointments come into play.
Resolution 3: Spiritual Cultivation
I have definitely been in a spiritual study mode this past year and I see it continuing into the next year. The farther along I get in terms of my relationship with my Creator, the more I am realizing that while He may in fact have a purpose for me in my desired city and in my desired industry, that purpose may be secondary in His eyes. This is a very recent discovery and it is still in digestion mode.
Resolution 4: Stay Focused on God’s Truths
I put this as a resolution because the world likes to put limits on everything, whereas, God has no limits. The world says you have to look a certain way, act a certain way, talk a certain way and think a certain way if you want be cool, have friends, get married, be happy and be successful. But, what exactly does the world know? Not too much when you actually think about it.
This year I am going to stay focused on what God says about me and what God says about His ability to work through me in order to benefit myself and to benefit of those around me. And if you want to know what God says about you, well, you do in fact have to read His word.
So there you have it. My resolutions for 2012 may not look like much, but if I can master them I will be one happy and peace-filled woman. What are some of your resolutions? If you are willing, please share! Sometimes just letting another person know what you want to do or become can be the difference in whether your resolution stays a resolution or becomes a reality! Oh, and Happy New Year!