Authentically Me?

Most days I want nothing more than to be the cool, single girl they write about on the internet. You probably know the one I'm talking about, don't you? She's the one sitting crosslegged on her kitchen counter at 3 in the morning, cradling a mug of tea between her sweater cuffed hands while having deep conversations with her friends or - if she's alone, (and she's quite happy being alone) - contemplating life in a contented manner.
She's the girl from the pinterest illustrations with her hair in a messy bun and a cat at her feet. She knows who she is, she reads the cool authors and she's just the right degree of feminist. (But lets not get in to "degrees" of feminism... I know that's a loaded issue.)

Most days, I feel that I am almost that girl. In my lest than perfect way, I curate a sort of capsule wardrobe that is equal parts striped-shirt-wearing-cool-girl-chic and children's-librarian-who-plays-the-ukulele. I cup mugs of coffee while curled up in my thrifted chair. I decorate with ikea white, and twinkle lights. I know my mind, my personality, my habits and pitfalls, and I can self regulate my emotions with the best of them. I have my quirks, and am loved (I think?) for many of them.

These lifestyle choices are just that: choices. I suppose I could be a children's librarian that plays the ukulele and not also dress the way I do, and dye my hair blue, but I don't think I know what that would look like. Pardon me for throwing in a half-baked computer-geek metaphor here, but I know that while my life's software is written by the Great Programmer (okay, I told you it was half-baked... I know we're not robots) when it comes to the skin of my life, the graphical user interface, how it looks and feels and acts, I get to set the parameters, and there's nothing wrong with that!

The problem I come to this this: when making those choices to dye my hair blue, and buy flowers every sunday, am I doing so out of complete authenticity, or am I writing myself into a trope - a mere storytelling device that's quite possibly two-dimensional. (not the standard definition of trope, but an accepted understanding.) I realize that with the advent of Peggy,  my trusty uke (oh glob, naming inanimate objects is not helping my case) I may have put some pretty solid nails in the coffin toward becoming the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of cinema and literature. But rather than being the savior of some poor lost white boy's boring existence, (I see you John Green. I see you.) I feel like subconsciously made myself the MPDG over the past few years to save myself  from a possibly horrible demise of boringness. (small town America will do that do a person)

Is that such a bad thing? Honestly, you tell me. If self-awareness is a key towards living authentically, (and I really believe it is...) then I should be okay. If I know why I do what I do, and do it out of the depths of my being, then I am truly myself, not a stereotype or a two-dimensional character on paper. Remembering not to use my quirks as a crutch for my fear of  change and growth will be the challenge.

Living life is hard yo.

yours in authentic striving,

Sarah

On Being Heard

I had the opportunity today to sit down with my pastor and tell the story that doesn't get told enough. If you were to look at a drawn timeline of my life thus far, you'd see a little blip of ink on the the year 2007. Seeing that blip in comparison to, say, the 4 years of my life in college, or even the past three years of my life in West Tennessee, you'd not think that mark very significant. However, if you were to analyze the richness and concentration of that blip of ink, you understand that much more can happen in a short period of time that you could ever imagine. Having moved (technically college counts, because new community) three times since 2007, and considering that nearly 10 years have passed, there's a reason the story of that blip doesn't get told much anymore. You can't just drag up a 10 year old history of your past at a dinner party or when you meet someone new for the first time... it takes a certain degree of familiarity or need for familiarity for someone to want to hear about that one time for 6 months that your family attended an Anglican church and your life was never the same.

Or does it? Maybe I need to tell that story more often. I don't know. you tell me. 

I was talking to the pastoral staff at my church the other day about membership and that blip came up, because it was relevant. When giving your testimony, you don't leave out the most influential spiritual time of your life. I didn't go into detail however, but just gave an overview of my entire testimony, honestly and completely.

I was called back today to discuss more with our pastor, for reasons I won't go into right now, but essentially, he told me he wanted to hear more about that blip. For the first time in ages I told the full story to ears that not only were willing, but understanding and interested. I might have cried with the catharsis of it. For the story of a major time period in my life that is often not understood (even by family members) to be heard with such compassion and grace is a rarity and a blessing. I might even be inspired to tell it more.

Dear Baptist Friends,
You have an Anglican in your midst, and guess what!? she's normal. Her heart may beat to a liturgical rhythm but she she's a sinner in need of a Savior just the same as you.  She might not understand why you believe some things and you might not understand why she doesn't understand. But she's walking alongside you and trying to grow alongside you. Ask her about her story.  We can meet over coffee and I'll tell you.
-your sprinkled friend





Worth It // Four



Today was my first day of the school year. Kids went back to school in August, but as I'm a librarian and not a teacher (and a northern born and bred one at that) I don't consider my self bound by the school calendar... or not a southern one at any rate. Like the good Yankee my mother raised, I believe in school starting after Labor Day.  So today was my first day of the school year. I spent August getting my calendar in order, rearranging my daycare outreach appointments in order to fit the two extra storytimes I've added to the library roster this year, and after a busy summer, the blank calendar of August -- though I was getting important focused work done on scheduling and planning -- felt too idle. The last few days or so I even felt my old restlessness creeping back, manifesting itself in some anxious overthinking at night. What a boon it was then this morning to come into work knowing that a.) I had everything ready and planned for "school" to start today, and b.) I had goals to accomplish and a finish line to chase. No more idleness!

I had my first dayschool at 9:00 so that afforded me half an hour to buckle down to planning the day, and twenty minutes to look over the book kit for the day. I like to look back at the path I've traveled (look at we are.. look at where we started... the fact that we're alive is a miracle! -gratuitous Hamilton line for you) and see how I'm doing now... and now that I'm two full years into this gig, I can feel the ease with which I go into  the daycares to read (can you believe I used to get tied up in knots of worry ... about preschoolers?). I know the routines of each one; I know where I have to fill out my visitor sheets and where I don't. I know which teachers have specific classroom styles, and which of those I like best. There's comfort in familiarity.

There's a theme I see forming in this, my third year at the library. I've spent the last two years steadily showing up... to daycares, to schools, to storytimes, to the lives of my kiddos... and this year its paying off. I have friends. I have relationships with these kids and families, and I'm seeing them grow. I had a library visit the other day from a kid who used to be in one of my daycares, but is now in Kindergarten. He recognized me at my desk and we shared memories about old times at the Headstart like we were peers and classmates. Then just today, in my first class of the year, I saw one of my storytime babies... all grown up and going to preschool. I wanted to cry seeing him... knowing that I've been reading to him for three years now, and seeing how far he's come. I'll live through the moments of restlessness and anxious thought cycles if it means I get to see my circle of influence grow a little wider every year. It'll be worth it.

*I write these Worth It posts as a gratitude log of sorts, to look back on when I'm feeling frustrated and antsy and want to run away. It is a prompt for mindfulness, a dose against dis-content, and a reminder of purpose.

Autumnal Advent


Fall arrived this past week in Tennessee... at least the spirit of Fall, if not the scientific date. Many people agree on September 1st for being the cultural first day of fall, the day that you're allowed to start putting pumpkin in everything and thinking about flannels again. I knew it was Fall because of the inevitable homesickness I get this time of year... homesickness not for a physical place I can pin on the map, but for the unknowable place I've yet to discover.  (and also by the intense craving for Anne of Green Gables that I got the other day... It comes with the season's change, I swear.)
The leaves haven't started changing yet, (with the exception of some flashes of yellow I saw breaking out in East Tennessee the other week) but they'll come soon enough--as soon as the chilly snaps start coming more frequently.
There are so many things to count down till September 22.  My roommates and I already had our inaugural PSLs at Starbucks, and I found my first autumn palette dress (in which I transition from light blue to dark blue). Soon will come the boots, and cozy socks... no more sandals exposing my poor feet to abuse and bugbites! My best friend -- the queen of fall and halloween -- gets married in a few short weeks, with my bosom buddy expecting to deliver her first child a few days after (if not before!) It'll all be here sooner than we know, with stores even trying to rush on buy to winter. 
But I'm in no hurry... For now, I'm putting a dash of caramel in my coffee (okay, so I always do that...) wrapping up in a quilt and watching Anne of Avonlea. 

Yours in autumnal advent.
Sarah