I can't really make sense of anything in this moment. I'm sitting in a backyard Airbnb living room shelter in the quiet, the home owner's boxer pup at my side, string lights gently glowing, finally taking a huge breath.

This year has been a wild one. The last 2 months? Literally, unbelievable.

Nothing feels quite real and I just don't know what to do with it all.

Of course I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I am confused with the insane timing of it all. I am hopeful of what this affords TJ and me individually and together. And I am still grieving working with my students and co-workers for this year since I left my last job.

It is all being held together by this crazy, tangled string that feels like at any moment it could just unravel, yet miraculously it continues to keep it all secure.

In the past month I have celebrated birthdays, a wedding, new jobs, freedom, transition, and the excitement of the unknown. And not just for myself and TJ, this has been for so many of my nearest and dearest around me. It's as if someone had a humongous party popper and pulled the string, instantaneously filling the air with the shock and thrill of goodness showering down with all of the confetti.

It's a unique and wonderful time. And I also am the slightest bit apprehensive.

When life has brought difficulty and pain, unexpected twists and turns, the addition and the loss of people, loneliness and heaviness and burdens and fear, it is easy to look past the charisma of the party popper exploding all at once and live in the almost missed silence of dead air that immediately follows. POP! It catches my breath--I focus on what the impact is going to be versus what it is that is being celebrated in the first place.

All I want is to receive these good gifts with gratefulness and humility, yet there is a part of me that feels like the smallest movement could turn everything onto its head. It's possible that this is the result of the past 8 years of, well, stuff. The stuff has been real, left its mark in both beautiful and heavy ways, but I also don't want the stuff to discolor and strip this gift of brightly colored joyous blooms of the life that they are to live, for however long that may be.

There are a handful of people in my life that have the incredible ability to constantly live in the complexity and tension of life and let it be just what it is in that particular moment. They feel the feelings and take in each experience on its own, opening up their heart and themselves to the vulnerability of being exposed. Small treasures are found in the most mundane. In general, expectations are tossed to the wind and life is experienced with a fullness that wails in sorrow and dances in joy.

I envy these people.
I watch them and long for that reckless abandon. Presenting as if this is how I, too, experience life, I have to be honest and let you know that I really don't. I live in my head, my expectations, my disappointment, letting things of the past make me more critical of the present rather than letting the present speak for itself.

To clarify, the past informs the present and we are each made up of our experiences which tell the story of who we are. However, for myself, when the past robs me of goodness in the present, it is a cause for pausing. There must be a way in which I can allow what is happening now to hold its own place in the story, without assumption or criticism (unless, of course, assumption and criticism are necessary dependent on the situation, which I believe we each likely are aware of the differentiation).

Today I was in a plane and the flight was gorgeous. Mountain ranges spanned as far as the eye could see, the late afternoon sunshine boldly exposing alpine lakes, glaciers, trees, and secrets tucked away in the glorious expanse. Often I have thought about stepping outside of something to gain a different perspective, whether for situations or with people. Until today I hadn't realized the magnitude that a shift in perspective could actually hold. I pictured myself hiking up one of those mountains, on a trail surrounded by trees, pockets of the sun piercing through the density of the forest. To be in the trees on a mountain is so vastly different than looking down on the forest and the mountain ranges from an infinite vantage point. Being immersed in something can be profound, beautiful, necessary even, yet it is a part of something much more substantial, a greater narrative unfolding.

Being reminded of the larger picture sets in all in place. The "me" in the moment experiencing and living things, though significant and defining, is incredibly minute in comparison to the grand scheme. It is all interconnected and we are all interconnected, the tiniest specks on this infinite painting.

Shifting perspective is a reminder of a few very important things: I am not on this adventure alone. I am not the first person to experience these things, be it fear, elation, uncertainty, guilt, confusion, joy, loss. Detaching myself from a moment robs me of wholly living my story, experiencing the grandeur of it all, and limits the expanse of the storyline to something bland and predictable for myself, which has greater impact beyond me. My life matters, but so does yours and wherever we each find ourselves on the journey, we must be gracious with one another, encourage one another, and also challenge one another.

If life was intended to be stagnant, we wouldn't be surrounded with tangible examples of rootedness and growth.

So today, as I find myself headed toward something and somewhere new, surrounded with the confetti of the party popper holding celebration and enthusiasm and goodness, I will choose to practice being here, now. I will let this day speak for itself and trust that whatever happens, it is okay, and important even, to experience it for its fullness, and that in doing so, a better story is being told. Not just for myself, but for you as well.