Monday, October 14, 2013

On Calling It Quits

One of the things I have had the hardest time admitting in the last several years of my life is that sometimes I just can't do the thing I want to do.

At first I thought it was a motivation issue. I'm just not motivated enough....If I wanted it badly enough...If I had as much gumption as...woe. is. me.

Well, folks, it turns out that it's less a lack of personal prowess and more a realization that somethings just can't be controlled. Some things just don't work.

That is tough for me to say, because I have such a deep belief that the impossible can be possible. That the situations that others have given up will one day enter a new season of growth.

The problem is that I would like to control said situations and sometimes forget that if my free will were to dictate such redemption, it would not be redemption, but dictatorship. The joy of change is that it is chosen individually and corporately and that no one person can force another person - that is the power of the human spirit. It is both corruptible and glorious.

Now, in the realization of that, sometimes it seems as if it would be much easier to simply control myself - and I have tried. But, controlling ones's self is just as difficult.

So, a new season is beginning.

It is fall. The old is passing. The new is coming. See, I am looking for the clouds.

Monday, March 18, 2013

To Don't List

In the spirit of this darling post, which is based off Shawna Niequists' thoughts in her book "Bittersweet" (I have yet to read, although I did love "Cold Tangerines" which I borrowed from a friend, immediately lost on an airplane, and then casually replaced), I have put together my own "To Don't List" otherwise titled "What I have tried and will not choose to try again or pretend to know anything about"....meaning "Please don't ask me to."

  • Fashion - I don't think I really understand fashion or what's in or how to dress for my body.  But, I try to like what I wear.  And, I try to like my body. 
  • Direct quotes or funny stories - I can't quote the movie we just saw word for word, but I can tell you the theme. And, my stories will probably end up with me rambling and no punchline whatsoever. 
  • Large groups of people - I just would rather be having coffee with one person. Maybe two. 
  • Being on time - Okay. I have worked on this. But, please understand that I would much rather exist in the movement and rhythm of the day, and if that means I'm a few minutes late for something, I'm okay with it. 
  • Having a green thumb - This one is hard to admit, because I want to be a gardener so badly. But, as it stands, I have only one living plant (there were many others to start, believe me) and that lavender pot is probably living despite me. 

The thing about all of these is that they may change.  We're always becoming.  But, if they don't, it's absolutely okay. Heck, it probably makes me more myself.  And, that's the only self I've got. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I believe a lot of things.

Tyler Lyle is someone who never ceases to produce music that hits the doubts and confusion perfectly. Enjoy.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's Lent got to do to do with it?

Hi, my name is Nia.

I've been trying to follow this Christ figure since I was six. That's when I decided I wanted to "give my heart to Jesus." And, I grew up in a fairly charismatic, evangelical circle. My family moved often because of my dad's job, but we tended to join faith communities that were of that similar vein.

I grew up with Christmas and Easter, with youth retreats and Bible drills, and with avoiding hard questions. But, they grew like kudzu in the heat of July.

Post high school, I got involved with parachurch college ministry, and loved it's fresh, accepting, and sometimes seemingly controversial ways. No, we were not handling snakes, but there was an emphasis on knowing Jesus, where you were, and letting transformation take place without trying to fit yourself into a mold. And that meant we were messy. Midway through university I had been going to a church similar to those in which I had found myself in throughout my childhood. But, after studying and serving a ministry in Spain for a semester, I came back disillusioned by mainstream Christianity as I had known it to be.

I am not saying that everything is wrong about the Church. But, those doubts, hurts, experiences, and questions that had been rooting and knotting began to push out my cultural bias and desire a larger understanding of the Bible and why we're all really here.

I did not grow up with Lent.

What's Lent got to do with it? I was given a book a year ago called The Accidental Anglican. Towards the end of university, I began attending an Anglican Mission (formerly Vineyard, so yes, a little unique). So, when I received this book, I had been going to this church for two years and was drawn by its simple, yet challenging look at faith. One thing mentioned in this book and that I resonate with is a focus on history, and understanding where we came from. That is a goal and purpose of the liturgy. It also recognizes the beauty of those people who have struggled with this faith before us.

And, that's why I'm struggling through Lent.

I first tried Lent in college. I gave up chocolate. I lasted 7 days, and then decided the amount I "feasted" on Sunday defeated the whole purpose so I just began feasting everyday and forgot about the whole thing. I've been retrying it the last few years, thinking more honestly about what and why I'm trying to fast.

What's the point of this whole practice then? Honestly, I'm still learning. But, as difficult as it is, I connect with the pushing towards discomfort, the wrestling, and the living in darkness. Lent requires me to believe that God is more powerful than the evil, and that the evil is still very real and I am not immune to it simply because I quote scripture and put on my best Sunday face.

Lent points me toward my need for Jesus and others. It's not about giving up for the sake of giving up, but rather, it empties so be filled by something real. The thing about emptiness is that creates space for anything to live in, so the temptation to be pulled in any direction is immense. I've realized addiction is second nature to me, so I have to fight it. And, I fail often.

But, when I do, resurrection is on the other end.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by surprise
Of it's own unfolding.

-John O 'Donohue

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


A friend who has a kindred musical spirit sent me a video earlier this week and I kept putting off watching it, claiming busyness. I finally pushed play early this morning and I'm not embarrassed to say it's been repeating ever since.

Sometimes a song gets stuck in your soul and you can't do anything more than just let it play. This is the kind of video I get lost in, asking questions and hearing stories with depth that leads me tumbling down a hole of childish imagination.

My friend called the lovely ladies singing "sirens." I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ballet, to find my birthright

One of the most courageous women I have met this year is my co-worker, S, who is recovering from Ovarian cancer. She is currently under going chemotherapy and has been very active despite all of the treatment she is undergoing. Whenever she able she goes to a dance studio over on H Street. We have had some great chats about the dance classes there and through her encouragement and advice, I decided to try a ballet class this weekend. I took ballet classes for about 8 consecutive years as a child, but sometime in middle school, the nonathletic child in me, decided to involve herself in "real" sports like soccer. Needless to say, soccer was a disaster and that quickly ended after one season.

As I biked to ballet class on Sunday, I was slightly nervous yet expectant. I wondered what I would remember from my childhood ballet classes--I wondered what body parts would be sore after the class. I wondered if any instructions would help me better tap into truths about who am I and who I was as a child.

In Parker Palmer's book, Let Your Life Speak, he writes about noticing his granddaughters inclinations and proclivities that were planted in her. Palmer plans to give her a letter in her mid twenties so she is able to remember who she was when she first arrived and able to reclaim her birthright gifts. He teaches that we all have birthright gifts--we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them.

"As young people, we are surrounded by expectations held by people who fit us into slots under social pressures of race or gender. Our original shape is deformed beyond recognition and we are driven by fear simply seeking the approval of others. We are disabused of original gifted-ness in the first half of our lives--if we are awake--we will spend the second half trying to recover and reclaim the gift we once possessed. "

Ballet, in itself, is far from my original gifted-ness (no false humility here). Yet, as I stood at the barre and looked at the 25 year old woman in the mirror--I saw a 9 year-old looking back at her in a navy leotard and horrendous thick pink itchy tights. She was still trying to compare her movements to the other people in the class and wished she didn't have curly hair. The moves she knew really well, she did twice as fast as needed. Nothing has changed, I kept thinking. My memory could very clearly recall what position was next, but my body had fallen out of practice.

So many parts of me have changed since going to ballet class at 5:45 PM on Monday evenings on Piedmont Road.  I don't own those terrible tights anymore. I don't get to eat my mom's delicious lentils, spinach, and yellow rice after dance class (we did meatless Monday at our house). I don't even own ballet shoes.

At the same time, nothing has changed. I'm still not very good at ballet but ballet is very good to me. It brings me back to my original self that struggles to fit in, is flooded with comparison, and wonders why the person in front of her is always better. But, all of that is quite negligible to the bits of wholeness that I find in attempting each gran plie without sticking my butt out and looking a fool. There is an energy that is offered to me during ballet which I don't fully understand. It just feels right--it lets me tap into what I think may be my birthright.

I am on the quest to find my birthright and morph into my original shape.  I never star in the Swan Lake, but I will try to fly some kites, read aloud to my stuffed animals, and do this.

I long for my original spirit and pray for the vulnerability too keep searching for her.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Two Thousand Twelve Best Beats

Lose Your Mind Lyrics:
Head and the Heart (from the Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions)

Best and Worst Breakup Albums:
Best - Tyler Lyle | The Golden Age and the Silver Girl
Worst (and by that we mean best) - Taylor Swift | RED

Most Mature Breakup Song:
Erin & the Meanwhiles | I hope you get what you need 

Drink a Glass of Wine:
Besides Daniel | Learn How to Fight

Can't Stop Dancing:
Florence & the Machine | Shake it out

Lovely Local Artist discovery:
Casey Harper (Check out her kickstarter for Low Tree Grow Tall!)

Just a few..feel free to add!

Friday, January 4, 2013

mm it feels good to work...

That's what Lawana said when I got to N street this morning. It nicely shot down the profound idea I thought up last night where I was telling Hannah that I wished the week was Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then then again, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. One day of work = two days of rest. 

Lawana has been out of work for more than a year and as our team celebrated a final round interview for one of our team mates, she kept saying-it feels good to work, don't it. It just feels good.

Work gives us dignity. In the handful of jobs I have had in my 25 years, I have experience sentiments of excitement, joy, boredom, and angst--yet, it is gratitude that shifts everything. It is gratitude for x, y, z that gives me dignity. When I have gratitude, I know my work is enough. I spend less time wander lusting (not that there is anything wrong with daydreaming), but I never want my dreams of tomorrow to steal the joys of today.  

Gratitude says thank you every chance she gets. Gratitude makes friends with all types of people--young and old, men and women, Muslim and Jew. She is not impressed with climbing the corporate ladder. She is not afraid to be repetitive. She is not afraid to speak up when she has a cold. She makes all sorts of ummm's and yumm's when she tries new food. She holds her tea cup extra tight in November to feel the warmth and soak in the aroma of the rooibos chai. Gratitude teaches us that we are enough and what we have is enough. That God is enough. (My take on J Ruth Gendler's book of qualities)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

motto for 2013

"I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life." -The Weepies