My husband, Evan, and I kind of take turns being the Chatty Chad/Cathy in our relationship.
Evan can talk at length on one very focused subject. This is why, for example, despite having never even seen one second of it, I feel like I’ve watched the entire series Dexter. And why I’ve experienced an extremely detailed explanation of what a superior ending would have been–all from the comfort of a Wendy’s.
I, however, am much more likely to produce what Evan has come to endearingly dub Alissa’s Stream of Consciousness. I start out with one topic in mind, but truly there is no destination set in stone and we take a lot of rabbit trails, some of which we do not return from.
That’s why I started calling my more introspective pieces on here stream of consciousnesses, because they work much the same way. They’re sort of therapeutic for me. The nice thing about not knowing exactly where you’re going is you can trust you’re going to get where you need to go. That’s my theory at least.
Also, I don’t always like a lot of structure. I mean, I love lists. Making and reading them. But sometimes what I want to write isn’t so clear to me and I don’t feel like having self discipline. I do realize it is possible no one actually wants to read my stream of consciousness because who cares what thousand directions my mind is going. But this is who I am. I’m 50% stream of consciousness, so take it or leave. Or only take the other blog posts. It’s cool. I just like to write.
Anyway, welcome to today’s stream of consciousness.
On a side note (do those even exist in a stream of consciousness?) I spell consciousness wrong basically every time, because I forget that stupid s before the second c and then I get mad at my computer for underlining it with that red squiggle instead of correcting it. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEANT TO TYPE.
There are two things that have been dominating what I’ve been learning lately.
- Trusting my gut
- Making my own joy
I did sneak a list in here! Damn, I love lists.
I think I’ve always had a vocal gut, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to be more in tune with it and consider it a valid source of information. When I was a kid there was this guy at church my dad thought was a creep and didn’t trust him to be around my brother or me, at least not alone, even though my dad didn’t have evidence of anything. (My dad is very intuitive about people.) I remember my dad telling me if I ever felt weird about someone in that way, to get out of that situation immediately, even if it was just a feeling. I didn’t know exactly what he meant until I got older but I think his advice has served me well more than once.
And I’ve found my gut has much more to talk about outside the topic of keeping me safe from creeps.
Lately, I feel like what it looks like to listen and follow my gut is being refined. (My gut is also how I believe God talks to me, so whether you believe in a God or not, that’s where I am.) I recently got a gut feeling I needed to something–yes, I’m going to be vague about for the time being.
Instead of freaking out and overthinking too much about whether it was my gut or me making stuff up, I decided to take a week to listen and then take action if I still felt the push. I trusted that if God wanted me to do something, I would be given the time I needed to digest it. I spent the week reflecting, praying, and journaling. It was a super insightful experience. The gut feeling did not go away and I learned a lot about myself in the meantime. I realized that a lot of times I feel a push to do something from my gut/God but when it doesn’t go exactly how I thought it would, it’s because I put too much mental speculation into filling in the gaps.
Here’s an example from the past: In December, I felt in my gut I should apply for a job at a nursing home. I did not get the job and I’ll admit I was a little bit confused because I had been confident and embarrassed because I had told a few people about the gut feeling. However, I didn’t regret doing it. Even today I feel strongly it was what I was supposed to do. When I was taking the steps to apply and going through the interview process/being upfront with my job at the time, I had to process a lot of emotions, face the fear of the unknown, and deal with the idea I could be disappointing my current workplace. When I didn’t get the job and found myself slightly relieved for some mysterious reason, I had to introspect on why that was, which ended up with me finally being honest with myself that all I really wanted to do was work with kids, something I had been afraid to admit because it wasn’t “hard” enough or academic enough in other people’s eyes. At that point, I pursued working with kids through a connection I already had made and it panned out. I might not have had this self-discovery at just the right time if I hadn’t followed my gut to apply for the other job.
So what I’m saying is, I’m learning that just because my gut says to pursue something or to reach out to someone or to do whatever, it doesn’t mean it’s for the reason I think or that it will look like how I assume. I have to let the feeling be as simple and as stripped down as it needs to be and trust that I’ll get to where I need to go. Kind of like with my stream of consciousnesses! I did not mean for that to come together so well. Nice. *gives self a pat on the back*
And now to the making my own joy thing. This is not revolutionary at all, but I’m coming to terms with the fact whether or not I have joy is almost entirely up to me. I can’t wait for everything in my life to be perfectly situated in order for me to feel peace. I have to practice peace and joy through practicing being present and grateful. I say practicing because they are habits and skills you have to strengthen, not switches you can turn off and on.
I told you this wasn’t revolutionary, okay!
I always think after the next piece falls into place, I’ll be at peace and can let go of my striving. But history has over and over again demonstrated to me this is not the case. A faster learner would have noticed a long time ago that every time I find one more loose string, one more wrinkle, one more thing that needs to be tweaked. I’m never happy and it’s never enough! I’m such a drag on myself.
I want to change that.
I got out of the habit on reflecting on meaningful things I had experienced or witnessed every day. I used to do that and it was working for me, but then I got lazy. I’m getting back into it though. And I’ve added onto it. I’m trying to recognize sacred moments while they’re happening and letting myself feel the bliss of that sacredness. Things like a laughing fit with my husband. Or meeting up for lunch with my parents. Starting flower seeds on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Being demanded to “Eat more! Not enough!” when I go visit some of my Eritrean friends and their perfect new baby. Listening to Taylor Swift and not apologizing for it. There’s a lot of sacred stuff, I’m finding. The more I name it, the more I can’t help but see it everywhere. And isn’t a life filled with sacredness more worth living than a life of striving? Um, duh!
Life isn’t going to wait for me to get it together. I have to get it together as I go.
So that’s what I’m trying to do, build the plane as I fly, trusting my gut and enjoying the ride. Because you can’t know how long the ride will be.