Reading time: 3 minutes
When I was younger, I was pretty flexible. I know most of us can say that - we bent in ways as children that we can’t even imagine now as adults. I was most definitely not the sports oriented kid, though I did enjoy the basketball goal my dad installed above our garage door. And he bought me a bat and glove once. We would pitch and catch and there were times I actually hit a few he tossed. But I was never going to be on a team. I’m much too afraid of things flying at my face ever since I stepped foot in a racquetball court with my older sisters when I was younger. People laugh when I say that, but those echoing sounds of balls bouncing and ricoheting off the walls almost uncontrollably. More than once I found myself backed up into the corner of the bright, white boxed room. Pressing myself into the glass wanting to get out of a room that seemed to grow louder and smaller with each hit. I hated it. But I don’t think anyone ever really knew how much I hated it.
I liked quiet things the most. Books, forts with canopies of greenery because they were in the bushes, riding my bike fast down a street with the sound of wind rushing in my ears and hair, pencil diving into blue pool waters and then bobbing up before diving back under and pushing water behind me as I glided toward the shallow end. Back to flexibility, I remember practicing the splits and sitting with my legs v-ed out in front of me - head and stomach to the floor. I could actually touch my toes back then. And reach past them. It was one of the parts of the Presidential Fitness Test I could actually achieve. Rope climb? Forget it. Pull-ups and the mile? Never. My arms and my endurance have never helped me with anything. Well, maybe endurance. But I think that's a lesson I've haven't fully learned yet. But flexibility? Maybe in ways I never knew.
Stretching and reaching out, past myself. I felt strong. And in a way, it took me outside of myself. Almost like an unfolding of myself that maybe felt like it had been curled up in a ball for whatever reason. The poet Rilke wrote, “I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie.” In our child self, there is a part that is our true self. And almost certainly, it gets ripped away somehow. We don’t like to think about it, but it happens. We are sinful humans, learning to love and be good, living amongst others doing the same. Life is wonderful. But also messy and heartbreaking at points. Death, abandonment, divorce, abuse. Pick your turmoil, you have it. And in learning to live, to keep going, you chose something along the way to try and protect your child self. But all it ever did was press you forward, one step in front of another they say. And before we realize it, we don’t even remember being a child. Memories lost. Forgotten. Folded up.
Now, at 31, I feel I’m unfolding for the first time since a child. I’ve started doing yoga in the morning and evenings. Say what you will about the practice, and be assured I’m thinking of no higher power than my God. And the flexibility I felt as a kid, where I felt stronger and outside of myself? It’s coming back. My stomach and head can’t reach the floor, yet. I can’t sit with my legs outstretched and reach past them, yet. But in between the deep breathes and stretches, I’m unfolding. Standing taller a little more each day. Stepping into days that seem to expand and not close in around me. Still stepping forward each new day, yet somehow looking back and the child that once felt far away? She gets a little closer each time I turn around.
NEEDTOBREATHE released a new album this week, Out of Body. One for healing and wonder they say. That it truly is. Here are two songs I can't quit.
Reading Time: 6 minutes
A few days ago I shared one of my favorite posts from the archives, The KitchenAid Mixer Dilemma: A Singleness Story. I was not prepared for the conversations I was to have with both my single and married friends. When I reposted it, I also asked two new questions.
Singles: what is something you haven't done because you feel it's something you can't do because you're single?
Marrieds: what is something you wish you would have done when single that you didn't and would encourage singles to do?
Twitter and Instagram began to buzz, with great discussion, and then to what color we have or would love to have. (Have you guys seen the hobnail one?? It's gorgeous.) And with great tips on how to not drop $300 for one, by using coupons and Kohl cash and then maybe you can snag one for $150 like one of my friends. This still amazes me.
Some were confused on how owning a mixer could be associated with being married. And that's exactly the point: it shouldn't be.
And we aren't exactly talking about owning a mixer here. The KitchenAid mixer is a mixer in my story, but it could be something else in yours. The "mixer" is whatever "it" is in your single life that you think you can't do because you are single. The goal? To do that thing, to "buy" the mixer.
I love movies. And one of my favorite things to do alone (when we aren't in quarantine) is to go to the movies. It's one thing as a single that I've never had a problem or second thought about doing. Eating out at a restaurant? That one took me a little longer, but now it's also something I enjoy every once in awhile. Traveling? Also took me a bit to get comfortable doing that solo, and I've yet to do a whole week or something longer than a weekend by myself. Yet, I heard from one of my friends who has traveled solo several times, but hasn't gone to the movies by herself! It's going to look different for all of us.
The number one thing that my married friends answered with on what they wish they would have done while still single? Travel solo. While you obviously can still do this once married (as with anything), traveling solo has so many perks. You aren't as limited in activities or places you can go. You are free to do or see whatever you desire. And if you're an introvert, it's one of the best ways to recharge. So to the singles who are thinking about that vacation? Take it. And to my married friends who still wish to solo travel? Do it. Carving out that time to still be by yourself is important and never a waste.
Other things my married friends suggested? Start the small business you've been dreaming about, go to the movies, buy a house, build good habits, invest in friends and families. No matter what it was, the sentiment was the same: don't wait, do it now. As one friend said: Buy the KitchenAid. Take the trips. Ignore the stupid rules.
And yes, that is the goal, but sometimes it's harder said than done. I think we first have to break free from the notion that life begins at marriage. It doesn't. You are alive and living now. While having a person to join in on those things may be enjoyable, once a second person is added, the dynamic changes. Today, if single, it's just you. And the only person truly telling you "no"? Is yourself. Everything else can be worked through.
Single friends say they didn't wait to upgrade their bed size (and I long for this day, because a big bed sounds heavenly) or to buy a house. Some literally got a KitchenAid mixer (or a Hamilton Beach if that's your brand). And many are traveling (seriously, take the trip). Celebrate graduating college, that first job, your first apartment. While marriage is a big milestone in life to be celebrated, if we only waited for that moment to be fun and throw confetti? Some of us may be waiting for awhile, or may never dance in it at all. Be brave, "buy" the mixer.
And married friends: Recognize when your single friends are silent, or when they say something that makes them feel something isn’t for them because they are single. Most likely that isn’t true and they can partake even if single. Listen and then affirm them to go for “it.” Whatever “it” may be.
And for both married and single friends, if you're able (and desire to), go to counseling. I'm so glad that one of my married friends added this! She began going once dating her now husband, but wishes she had gone years before while still single. What she shared with me is so true and I echo it, it's so helpful to know who you are as your own person before in a relationship. Some people don't need counseling for this, but I'm an advocate for anyone going if they can. After beginning my own journey two years ago, I can honestly say I know more of who I am now in these first couple years of my 30s, than I ever did in my 20s. Like high school, I was ready to kiss those years goodbye. And I know that I'm better prepared now, than I would have been then, if marriage had been something on the horizon.
Friends, there are a lot of "rules" we have to play to keep up with society, or who the culture thinks we need to be. Single people can adopt or have babies on their own now! We can land amazing jobs or move across the world! At the core of who we are, we are all beings made for community and relationships - and the thing we think we can't do because we are single? That could be the very thing where community is waiting for us.
Where will you find it? What will you be brave enough to "buy" during this time? If it's the copper KitchenAid mixer, get two please. I changed my mind, I don't want the retro blue one anymore.
Two book recommendations, for both those single and married:
+ If you're interested in solo traveling, check out Dream, Plan, and Go by Rachel McMillan! She's written "a travel guide to inspire your independent adventure"!
+ If you want some help in being brave, a little each day, check out 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. You can start it anytime, but a collective group is beginning August 3rd (this coming Monday) and I'm joining in again! This will be my second time and would love to have some friends join in with me. It's not too late for you to join in - she'll post the first five days on her social media, while you wait for your copy. And it's about $10 on Amazon currently or buy at your favorite retailer!
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