Spaces

Spaces

I cleaned out my storage unit in November. Emptied it completely and (with the help of a wonderful TaskRabbit) hauled everything away. Some of it to my place. Most of it to Goodwill. And when I say most of it, that’s the God’s honest truth. It would be a safe estimate to say that I shed 80% of what I had been holding on to for somehow, somewhere, someday. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep this?” the TaskRabbit kept asking me about different things and while the hoarder in me kept wanting to reconsider, I was resolved to be resolved. So I said goodbye to boxes of clothes and shoes, pieces of furniture, dishes, shelves, odds and ends; with some unopened/brand new things in each of those categories. And you know what? It was hard. And it was expensive. And annoying. Having to get up early on a Saturday: hard and annoying. Catching an uber to and fro: expensive and annoying. Hiring a TaskRabbit: expensive. Letting go of the way I thought my life was going to go: hard, expensive and annoying. Because that’s why I had the storage unit, right? To stockpile things I used to have space for while waiting to have space again. Somehow, somewhere, someday…

So what made me give it all up? Two realizations:

#1. It wasn’t fair.
Things are meant to be used. It’s what they (non)live for. And me keeping them locked away was feeling more and more wasteful. And selfish.

#2. It wasn’t worth it.
I’ve had some type of storage space for nearly three years. And as I have moved and my living situation has ebbed and flowed, I have downsized as needed, but averaging it all out, it would be a pretty accurate estimate to say that storage has probably cost me around $4,000. And NOTHING I had in storage was worth $4,000. Maybe all of it together was worth that much. MAY. BE. But, sentimental value aside, with any long-term storage arrangement, there is going to come a point where the cost of holding on, is equal to and then higher than the cost of replacing. And to be completely honest, I probably crossed that threshold 4 months in. Maybe five. MAY. BE.

So I set a date to shut it all down. And I remember getting there that morning, unlocking the unit and just immediately feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting through it all. “Maybe the taskrabbit will cancel and I can just save this for another day… maybe I should just cancel the taskrabbit and save this for another day… maybe I should just keep saving all this for someday…” The second thoughts were there, but I had already given up my sleep-in so too bad, too sad – it was happening. And it did. And afterwards…

It felt SO. GOOD. I actually felt freer. There was something liberating about knowing there wasn’t a bunch of stuff waiting to be sorted. And something exciting about not knowing how I was going to replace any of it. Not that I would have to worry about that anytime soon. Or so I thought.

But three weeks ago my roommate got a new job. In a new city. And she’s moving today. As we speak. So when I go home tonight, it will be to a now unfurnished apartment. So all that stuff I gave away… well, I was thinking about it this morning and you know what? I’m still glad it’s gone. Maybe even more glad. Because instead of stocking this new year with old things, I get to wait and see what God has next for me. Will it be annoying and inconvenient when I go to reach for something (a toaster, a kettle, a couch) and it isn’t there? Yes. But will it kill me to be without it temporarily? No.  “But Janice,” I can hear some of you saying, “Wouldn’t it be better to have something than nothing while you wait for the next thing?” Good question. And the answer, for me (and probably for you), is NO. Because most of the time, when I have something, it’s really hard for me to make space for the next thing. Because why should I? If it ain’t broke, why fix it? And if there’s no space, why fill it?

If I had to sum up 2016 in one word, that word would probably be “loss”. From celebrities to politics to friendships because of politics… I feel like we all took a lot of Ls. And those were the public, widespread ones. On personal levels there were breakups, financial issues, plans that went awry, relationships that went off-track, hopes that were disappointed – I feel like 2016 left us all with new uncomfortable spaces. And old spaces feeling emptier than ever. In December, I had no less that three friends who went on Bumble streaks. And I myself spent about 36 hours on Coffee Meets Bagel before remembering that nothing is actually better than something when something is just a bunch of nothing in disguise.

So for those of us who entered 2017 with spaces in places we’re not quite sure how to fill: good.

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lordhe brought me into a spacious place.
Psalm 118:5

God is a creator. He specializes in making something out of nothing. It’s kind of like His thing. But He seems to like starting by clearing something out first.  So what do you have in storage? And I don’t mean just physical storage units, I mean in the back of your mind and heart. What old habits, relationships, apps or coping mechanisms are you hanging onto? And why? Maybe it was the best you could do in the past, but do you think it’s the best God can do now? Or next?

Lowkey, I’m excited by all the blank spaces I’m facing in 2017. Because I have no idea how to fill them, but I know someone who does. And I trust that He will. Because NOTHING is impossible with God. So He’s always up to something.

Any Minute Now

Any Minute Now

Yesterday was a weird day. I woke up and everything was fine. Showered and got dressed, and everything was fine. Got to work and everything was fine. Had been at work about an hour and everything was still fine, but then all of a sudden – I was anxious. Full on knot-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach-I’ve-got-a-bad-feeling-about-this anxious. And I had no idea why. And I couldn’t shake it. All day. I did ask for prayer backup in the late afternoon and that took the edge off, but by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was go lay on the living room floor and pray. And journal. I felt like I really needed to journal. So I really needed to find my journal. Because it had been awhile. Well over a year according to the date on my last entry. And as I read through those last recorded thoughts from August 2015, it was eerie how similar the thoughts I had on that day were to the realities of yesterday.

  1. All The Single Ladies. In 2015 it was a ministry idea proposal I had written up and submitted in hopes of helping my church change the conversation around singlehood and single women. I had high hopes for it and was asking God to help it get off the ground. Yesterday… I had just gotten a text message setting up a meeting, to talk about getting a ministry off the ground in 2017… to change the conversation around singlehood and single women.
  2. “Leaving Nazareth”. In 2015, it was a script idea that I was telling myself to get off my ass and get writing because I thought it could do really well. Yesterday, it was a script I was reminding myself to get off my ass and finish because it actually has a deadline coming up in January. And I still think it could do really well.
  3. Some guy. In 2015, I was trying to make sense of some conflicting signals coming from a conflicted character. “What is this? Where are we? Is he…” Yesterday, I was not thinking about him (or anyone) AT ALL. I only added this here to laugh at myself and THANK GOD for the prayers that He answers with “Nope.”
  4. Any minute now… for a few different reasons, on that day in 2015 I was convinced that my life could completely change for the better at any moment. I was so full of hope, practically just waiting for the phone to ring with an offer, a “yes” or some kind of recognition that was going to change the game for me. Yesterday, knowing that call never came (yet) I realized that I still had that hope…

Here’s the thing. Judging by the amount of Facebook statuses I’ve seen begging 2016 to just be over already, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that it wasn’t the year most of us imagined. By pretty much all measurable standards, 2016 has been a garbage year. A dumpster fire of epic proportions. And pretty much everyone will be happy to close it out. Myself included… but also… I’m not mad at 2016. And I think when a lot of us look back at all the bad, the worst and the ugly that happened, if/when 2017 is better – it’ll be because of seeds that were planted and roots that went deeper in all the sadness, the madness and the chaos.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately because I’ve been comparing my progress with the progress of the people around me. Friends have been moving and starting companies and getting roles and doing shows, and yes they’ve been working hard and struggling, but they’ve been having visible triumphs. And meanwhile… I haven’t done anything. This has easily been my least visible year. No shows, no internet presence, no nothing. And that definitely wasn’t the plan. I recorded things this year. That never went public. I wrote things this year. That just didn’t go anywhere. I even filmed things this year. That were never edited and never released. In fact, yesterday, I tried to turn the tide – tried to set up a rendezvous to get already shot footage so I could edit it myself and get it released in 2016. “No problem, how about Monday?” said my friend (and The Universe). So okay. That’s a wrap for me in 2016. There will officially be nothing to write home about in this year.

And that’s okay. Because all that footage, all those songs, all that writing — it still exists. And a lot of it will (hopefully) find its footing and find a place in 2017. And you know what else will probably show itself in 2017? A lot of the lessons learned and the growth and strength that were required in 2016.

All month I’ve been encouraging myself and the people I know not to count 2016 out just yet. As long as there are still minutes left in this year, there is still possibility, anything can still happen. And as we’re literally in the last days of it, I still believe it’s true. And while I’m not counting out the possibility of a life changing phone call or encounter, I’m more aware than ever that the greatest power to change my life forever, for the better is in my own hand… it might be in what I choose to do today. Or it could have been in something I did yesterday. Or maybe in something I wrote 2 weeks ago. Or filmed months ago. I don’t know.

I just know our lives are changing all the time. Moving closer to the big moments that we’ll remember as milestones, but milestones take miles to get to. So we shouldn’t count ourselves out or discount the quieter days (months/years) of our journey.

However this year was for you, I pray that 2017 is better, but I hope that you don’t buy into the idea of 2016 as a total loss. I bet you’ve grown more than you realize, learned more than you know and are better, faster, stronger than you think. And it’s not for nothing. It’s for whatever’s next. And it’s gonna be great. Any minute now…

Five

Five

I’ve been struggling to blog lately. Pretty much every post leads me down Struggle Street at some point, but my last few attempts found property they really loved and decided to settle down and raise families there. God bless ’em. So my blog has been blank for a month now. Yikes. And I wish I was returning in glory now with stories of all the exciting things I’ve been doing but… nope. I’ve just been chilling. And saying a lot of goodbyes. To things. And see-ya-laters to people. The past month has been very moving, for a lot of the people around me and very “Stand here and watch them go.” for me. Which is annoying because my plan has ALWAYS been to leave all the chumps I know behind, never to be left. But that’s not quite working out. #ThanksObama. No, but seriously, Thank you, President Obama for also being on your way out, because I haven’t lost enough yet, apparently. Geez.

But it’s all good. For real. My friends are stepping up, moving on and stepping out into things that they’ve been preparing for all along. But the plot twist is that they mostly had no idea what they were being built for until they were thrown into it. It’s like training to be a swimmer and then being made CEO of the company that owns the pool you practiced in. And I’m proud of them and happy for them. I am. But, in all honestly, all this leaving has left me feeling some type of way… not envious… but intimidated. Like I’m really not pulling my weight. My friends are outchea doing big things and I’m just… outchea. Not that I haven’t been working or building anything, I have, but 90% of it has been underground, undercover and in the background, with no guarantee that it’ll ever progress beyond that.

“You’re a writer, right?” One of the guys at work asked me as I was stocking the fridge this morning. “How’s it going?”
“Yeah, good.” I said as I moved the cold Diet Coke cans to the front.
“Do you make enough at it to make a living?” he asked.
“Do you not see me working here right now?”

He spent the next few minutes trying to understand why I don’t love the thing that consistently pays me more than the thing that constantly costs me and I spent those same few minutes imagining a life where they are one and the same. And panicking a little. Because if that whole “You are the average of your five closest friends” thing is true — then I should probably be bracing myself.

Sidenote for somebody out there: as we’re all looking towards 2017, I’ve been saying all month (and am still saying): Don’t count 2016 out just yet. It ain’t over and literally anything can happen. So if you’ve still got some outstanding prayers, you might want to brace yourself.

So as I wait for the next shoe to dropkick the next door open, I just want to take a few minutes to thank my five…ish friends that have been doing the damn thing and teaching me some lessons. I’ll keep it anonymous, but you know who you are, in no particular order. (Don’t pretend like you don’t.)


One. You have so much talent and gifting and have put so much time and effort into honing it, strengthening it, stretching it – you really are phenomenal. And more than qualified/able to be all (and more!) than you dream. And yeah, you have your doubts, but deep down – you know you were born for this. And you’re getting better and better at just accepting the fact that you are a force to be reckoned with. Thank you for showing me that God isn’t swayed by our fears or overly concerned with “practicality” and will go out of His way to make a way for us.

Two. Your sense of humor is top notch and your perspective is amazing. You don’t have all the answers but aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions. Of yourself and the people around you.  They say the funniest people are secretly the saddest and if that’s true, it’s only because they’re the most perceptive and don’t always know how to effectively channel all that they take in, but you’re already finding that balance. And it’s going to serve you well. You and the people around you, wherever you are. Because you are going to keep on affecting many lives in many different ways/arenas. Thank you for being so honest, so transparent, so brave and showing me how it’s done.

Three. You are kind. You are smart. You are important. Because you’re smart, you are able to step in and steer what would otherwise be runaway trains. And because you’re kind, you do it with grace and with dedication, that fosters a positive environment. And that makes you important, not just to me, but to anyone/everyone who gets the opportunity to work with you. Because you never let being tired be an excuse to give less than your best. Thank you for showing me that even though the work is hard, it is possible to carry it with an ease that  inspires others.

Four. You are a one of kind character. Known (& loved) by pretty much everyone, but somehow still humble and low-profile. You hate injustice and are passionate about seeing people being treated properly. When you see something, you say something and have greater influence than you know. You sometimes get frustrated that people seem to overlook you, but God never does. Your life isn’t charmed, but it’s definitely blessed. Thank you for showing me that being significant isn’t about being showy, it’s about being intentional.

Five. You are relentless. Always working on something, forever following your dreams. I won’t say tirelessly, because you do get tired and emotional and frustrated, but you always rally. And you refuse to give up. Because a dream that’s only big enough for you, isn’t big enough for you, so you keep going because you’ve got so many people that you want to take with you.  Thank you for showing me that succeeding really is as easy (and as difficult) as just stepping out. Again and again. And again.


So that’s that. As single women, it’s easy to spend so much time thinking about who hasn’t come into lives yet (or who didn’t stay) that we can easily lose focus and start to believe that we’ll never be loved, but it’s just not true. And it’s dismissive of the relationships we do have. Because they’ve been given to us, not as replacements for what we’re waiting for, but as reinforcements of the kind of life and love we deserve.

So take a few minutes to think about your five today. Who are they? How do they love you? What are you learning from them? And what does that tell you about who you are and where you’re probably headed next?