On Monday, I swallowed a bug.
It was a big bug and it was completely unexpected.

My mouth was wide open, huffing and puffing as I ran (read: fast walked) up a huge incline (read: practically flat). I took a huge inhale and choked, coughed, and swallowed.

"That was a hard, little something. Those felt like wings. Those were definitely wings. That was a bug." Catch.

In the past when I've heard people say they swallowed a bug, or one flew into their mouth, I just kind of expected that it was a very rare occurence and that I'd never have that experience (read: problem). The joke is on me--not only did I definitely swallow a bug, I instantaneously had a sore throat from the unexpected smack of a dry little creature in the back of my esophagus followed with choke-coughing. I also was so close to being done with my "run" that I didn't want to stop. Teary-eyed and semi-confused, I kept going with the realization slowly coming to light that my sucking a bug down accidentally just put me into a club that I never thought I would join or ever wanted to join.

Well friends, give me a bug-swallowers patch for my jacket and the official certificate because I am fully initiated. At least I had an increase of protein for the day! (Why do people always say that swallowing bugs is added protein? And I just did it too. Weird.)

When one of my closest friends died suddenly 3 weeks after TJ and I got married, I was in shock. It was completely unexpected and threw myself and so many others that knew her for a loop.

When TJ and I took a risk to try out something new in life and community, but then found ourselves broken, exhausted, misunderstood and spiritually empty, we couldn't have anticipated it.

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest for a job that I didn't feel qualified for, but it seemed to be just the right fit initially, I was so grateful. I couldn't have anticipated shortly after feeling such a tension of deep love and passion for my students and those I work with coupled with confusion in the realization of the unjust undercurrents that exist in the system that I have given so much of my energy and life.

When TJ and I became increasingly disconnected from unacknowledged painful cycles of hurt and misunderstanding, neither of us could have anticipated that from our deeply rooted love that divorce would have been an option. Yet for a season, this was reality.

When a friend of mine who didn't want children got pregnant, then shifted to welcome the hope of a little one with joy and love that only a mother can know, then miscarried, there was deep sadness. People forget that she has been a mother in her own way, and that she grieves the loss daily and often is lonely making sense of it all.

When I got the call that one of my dearest friends lost her father to cancer so quickly after he had been diagnosed; then shortly after her husband was diagnosed with cancer, we were heartbroken. Then after what was "supposed" to be hopeful news, her husband (and also our dear friend) was told he would have limited time left, and passed away just a week later, 6 weeks ago. She is now a single mama, trying to make it one day at a time. Absolute devastation.

When one of my other dearest friends mom had been rediagnosed with cancer and after a year and a half suddenly took a turn for the worst and passed away, we were all in shock and wept. We couldn't have guessed it would happen that way and it was an unbelievable loss. This was just 9 weeks ago. Mother's Day was this past weekend, and luckily we were able to escape together as friends to be present with and distracted from it all.

Pain. Grief. Injustice. Heartache. Trauma. Confusion. Brokenness.

Bug after bug is being swallowed whether by myself or those around me. Every time it is unexpected. It causes a reaction that leaves something you can't quite shake...and it becomes a part of the story.

Tuesday I got a text from a friend saying they had a little something for me. For what felt like no reason, I received flowers and a card that I needed right in the moment without realizing it. 'Remember your pain, Lindsey, and let yourself feel it' an encouragement I don't often consider to offer to those around me, but very important.

As a person who may, ahem, avoid pain through the adventures and trying new things and looking for the next fun experience, I needed that nudge. And by the very nature of writing this, I welcome that nudge.

This morning I had coffee with someone that knows me very well (at times to my dismay and embarrasement; but everyone needs someone like this in their life) and found it in her to see me and speak into this odd season I find myself. She told me that when women go into labor, there is a moment when there is nothing left to give, the exhaustion sweeps over her body and there is a letdown. This is the precise moment that indicates she has made it to the other side, and soon after, their baby enters the world.

When there is nothing left to give,
let go,
be overwhelmed,
and watch something new be born.
She looked me in the eyes and told me that this is my time of release.

There isn't much that I have to offer anyone right now, and my feelings and well-being are muddled and confused from the many things I have been carrying in my heart and mind (read: avoiding the pain). Every day I have to make small decisions to take care of me while also being present with those that are in my care. Honestly, it often feels easier paying attention to others than addessing my own stuff; it serves as a distraction. Yet I know that if I don't take care of myself, and react to the bug in my throat, it could choke me to the point of losing my breath. I'm trying to breathe, at times huffing and puffing (or more like gasping), but the effort is there, if only to take one more breath, one more step.

Have you ever noticed little flowers growing through the cracks in the sidewalk? They can be easy to miss if you aren't looking for them. In this season I have to make a conscious effort to notice the flowers blooming through those cracks, especially when the heaviness of the sidewalk on the soft earth is evident in uncomfortable ways.

When I started blogging, I didn't think it would be anything of importance, just a way to make a little space for me and if it offered something to someone, then I willingly and happily share this gift. Today my gift is authenticity in acknowledging the wave of pain I see in those around me and in myself.

Today, friends, I am okay.
Not great, not terrible, just okay.
And that's okay.

I swallowed a bug, and it is pretty funny to think about how ridiculous I must have looked when it happened. As uncomfortable and unexpected as it was, I'm glad to be in the club. It breaks me open a little bit more to make room for an increase of flowers to bloom, to expose more beauty--not because of my doing, but by knowing what has cracked me and letting that crack tell its stories and believing for healing in each step of the journey.

In this moment of pause, I am reminded that I am waiting for the new birth,
and now,
just for now,
I breathe and release.