18/01 - 18/02: or January & February 2018 (In Austria)

January was a bit of blur, well heck, February was too.  You know, since we kicked off our new year in a new country!  Yes, that’s right.  We landed in Vienna on New Years Eve, four of our six people and ten pieces of luggage between us all.  Well at least seven that night, three had been left behind in Istanbul and would be finding their way to us the following day.  After close to thirty hours of travel we arrived at our temporary apartment only to discover it was not ready for us.  The sheets were dirty, the space hadn’t been cleaned after the last tenants left and all we wanted to do was find a bite to eat and then find our pillows.  The relocation agent for the accommodations was a young man who attempted to make light of the situation, a gesture which was not received well by four exhausted and weary travelers.  Not to mention we had left behind two of our six on opposite ends of the country.  For any Mama that has ever had to leave her children adult or otherwise I get it.  There are too many emotions to even mention here.  Our apartment dilemma was remedied and we made a transfer to a different building.  At the new building we were gifted with a box of Mon Cheri chocolates.  The Things knew I was done for at chocolate, despite the fact of not being a fan of fruit and chocolate together.  They took the first taste and their reactions were priceless.  None of us were aware that the filling inside was alcohol.  Surprise!  Definitely a welcome to Austria moment for us all! 

Travel day.
We kicked off our NYE celebration at Hoffbrau Haus, a traditional spread of weiswurst, pretzels and schnitzel.  Along with some beer of course.  2018 was toasted to and it was at this point that I do believe the weight of our travels started to kick in.  The four of us were actually in Vienna.  We made it.  And then we collapsed in bed, only to wake early the next morning in just enough time to wish Nani a happy birthday!  The morning was spent wandering the streets looking for an open cafe.  Most places are closed Sundays and nearly everything was shut down due to the holiday.  Lucky for us we found the most quaint cafe.  At least  Husband Jared and I did.  The two Things were snoozing away while all this was happening.  We were seated at the cutest little table, with a birds eye view of all the passers by.  What a treat.  Being the good parents that we are we did manage to order some take away pastries for the sleepy heads.  Seems by the afternoon we were all going a bit stir crazy so Husband Jared, Thing 4 and I headed out for some exploring.  Thing 3 had unfortunately succumbed to a travel bug and she was in bed for the New Year celebration.  And by New Year celebration I mean we went to a restaurant at 8pm, ate pasta and came home and went directly to bed.  We did manage a walk to the Rathaus just in time for the annual Philharmonic televised performance.  It was breathtaking.  The Christmas market stalls were still up and we roamed through the maze and took in all the sights.  Gluhwein, pretzels, ornately decorated gingerbread cookies, wurstelstands and trinkets every which way.  What a sight.  Our hearts were a bit raw and we did our best at celebrating the new and making the most of the situation.  The apartment we were moved to was beautiful, other than being across from the jail.  It was an altbau, which means an old style apartment, that had been renovated.  The kitchen was large, by European standards, the dining table called to me and the brown velvet couches in the sitting room were icing on the cake.  The space was so large it felt as if we all had our own wings.  Thing 4 promptly informed us he could get used to this life style.  Yeah, me too brother, me too.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  Reality came calling and after our luggage was delivered and the New Year had come and gone we were transferred back to the original accommodations.  Nothing to complain about at all, mind  you.  Except for the fact that Thing 4's bedroom was also the dining room and living room.  Changes all the way around!  Here's to our first two months of living abroad.

NYE dinner! 

New Years breakfast.

The Rathaus.  New Years Day.

Our temporary living situation was supposed to be just that, temporary.  As in maybe 4 weeks, at the most.  The goal was to have found a place and be moved in prior to the store opening so that could have Husband Jared's full attention.  Once again not so.  I say that with humor that maybe isn't quite conveyed with the written word.  No sarcasm, OK, maybe a hint.  But what I do know is that even the simplest tasks are never quite so simple when living as a foreigner in an unknown land.  Vienna is no different.  The paperwork here is enough to swallow one entirely and if you can manage to not get buried underneath it all there are lines to wait in and numbers to take and appointments to be scheduled, don't forget the documents that need official stamps.  (they do love their stamps here!)  Through this entire process I will say that I am thankful we had advocates and mediators to assist us in navigating the system.  And even then details were missed.  Visas were delayed and payments not accounted for.  I'll spare you all the specifics but just know that Husband Jared was responsible for more than just his day job during this.  I have often made light of the "expat" experience.  At least the initial go of it all.  The settling in, organizing and caring for a family in flux.  Those are not for the faint hearted.  Still we weathered the rollercoaster of an International move and will continue to do so, all while smiling and reassuring the children that yes, yes this was the next best and right thing for our family.

Early morning registration appointments.

Squeezed into a teeny, tiny OLD lift while apartment hunting.  
I won't forget that experience anytime soon.

Once the apartment hunt commenced and was then finalized we were more than relieved.  The real estate business is quite different than what we experienced back home, to be expected.  After viewing umpteen apartments in districts all over Vienna we settled on a new building in the third district with a terrace and views of church steeples and a canal.  My heart was happy.  Our place is small, unlike anything we've lived in before and we are city dwellers now.  Complete with our rolling cart for market visits and walking shoes that take us everywhere.  The home search was consuming and exhausting, leaving us with little energy for much else.  I honestly don't know where Husband Jared found the stamina for it all.  Things 3 and 4 were involved with the looking, measuring, weighing out pros and cons and all the tireless debates that ensued, along with the worrying and praying and trusting that just the right place was waiting for us.  We all believe without a doubt that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.  Despite the fact that this small space is contrary to anything we've lived in before I am confident in our abilities to make it our home.  Because after all, home is wherever we are.

The unexpected nature of our living situation, prior to finding our own place, did not deter us completely from exploring or adventuring.  We managed to book train tickets to Bratislava and spend a day there, we used our annual passes at the Belvedere, had dinner with one of Thing 2's friends who was visiting Vienna while on a study abroad trip, went bowling after using all means of transportation to find said bowling alley, Thing 3, Husband Jared and myself attended the Vienna Coffee Festival at Ottakringer Brewery and experienced a highly caffeinated afternoon together, we found a craft brewery owned by a man from Michigan, and learned the ins and outs of the S-bahn, underground, above ground and bus system.  We celebrated Thing 4's birthday at the derby match between FK Wien and SK Rapid.  That was nothing short of an experience.  The match was actually delayed twice due to fans throwing flares and other oddities at the players on the pitch.  First time was a warning, second time was a ten minute delay ushering the players into their respective locker rooms and if it had happened a third time the match would have been called.  The four of us had not witnessed anything like that before.  Thing 4 also had two trials with local football clubs, has been snowboarding twice in Stuhleck, we've visited two churches, Thing 3 has made friends and we even celebrated my birthday, iceskating at the Rathaus, as well as the grand opening of the first Apple store in Austria.  It has been a full seven weeks.  While Husband Jared had busy days filled with trainings and meetings and the like the Things and I would go out on mini adventures, both in our district and elsewhere, chasing after the best cup of coffee or pastry, finding a park and a pitch or a new market and shortcut to our "known" places.  Thing 4 was fearless and ventured out giving his German a go and playing in pick up games or kick arounds.  Thing 3 has traveled over an hour by all manners of public transport to visit friends and help Husband Jared out while I was away in the States.  We are settling in.  Finding a new rhythm and learning all about the Viennese way of living.  Here's to our new chapter unfolding and all the unexpected and ordinary.
*(way too many photos posted below of ALL of our activities mentioned above, consider yourself warned)

Life imitating art at the Belvedere.

Britta and four Hansons in Vienna.  Such a treat seeing a familiar face!

Bowling, family style! 

Latte art throw down.

Espresso in a chocolate coated sugar cone, that is one happy girl!

Rooftops of Bratislava.

The view from the castle.

Delightful alleyway.

Four adventurers in Bratislava.

Footie all day, every day.

Friends and Family night at Apple, Wien.  

Another day, another coffee shop.  Thanks Coffee Pirates.  

Wien Derby.  

Flares, super fans and loud cheering.  All part of the experience.

One happy Mama and birthday girl!  

Learning to skate backwards.  Thanks little brother.

Snowboarding days.

Up on the mountains, the Austrian Alps.

Washington and California In February

A post documenting another adventure of sorts in the midst of major transition in our lives.  My trip to Seattle to witness a marriage of Thing 1's friend and spend some time with Pop and Nan and two of my three girls.   Thing 1 was quite consumed with wedding responsibilities for the first few days of my visit so when Thing 2 arrived on the Thursday we had a quiet night in, just the two of us.  Take away in bed and a movie.  Without shame we were fast asleep by 8:30pm.  It was a good night and kick off to our eating extravaganza we are about to embark on.  Prior to the wedding celebration Nan and Pop arrived with Laura and we spent our night being silly, arranging flowers and all that.  Thank goodness Laura was there with her master designer skills.  Flowers were prepared, Thing 1 fulfilled her maid of honor duties, hosting the bachelorette party and attending the rehearsal and dinner following and then she came home to us!  Wedding day began early with Pop being our chauffeur, a stop for coffee for the bride to be and then home with donuts and last minute flower touch ups, etc.  It was all hands on deck for delivery and instructions and then Thing 2 and I attended the wedding and reception. We toasted the happy couple with "dilly-dillies" and witnessed a most beautiful speech given by none other than Thing 1.  It was a beautiful day.  We raced to catch the sunset over the sound and then Thing 1 met us at a local pizza place for dinner, where Pop confused a customer for a waiter.  What was most memorable was the fact that said customer fetched the to go box Pop had asked for and handed it over with a smile.  Well played man, well played.   Our evenings were spent watching the Olympics and cheering on all the athletes and of course I cried at all the back stories and struggles shared.  Why?  Well because stories of fight and championing and endless hours spent realizing dreams makes me cry.  There I said it out loud.  I am my father's daughter.  With the wedding behind us there was time for celebrating.  Thing 1's 21st birthday and my 40th.  Birthday brunch and walking around Seattle was just what the birthday girl ordered.  Thing 2 asked to catch a fish in Pike's Place and was granted her request.  She found herself behind the counter and surprised us all when she caught said fish in her very own hands.  A bucket list item crossed off and a good time had by all.  I had never seen anyone do that before, outside of the guys that work there.  Little did I know it happens quite often, one simply must ask.  And if that's not a mini life lesson there I don't know what is.  Moving on.  We brunched, we bought a pink champagne birthday cake, we walked, we shopped and we got take away Mexican food and watched movies for my birthday celebration.  By choice.  It was a good day.  The next morning was airport day for Pop and Nan so we went to Totem for breakfast and walked the shoreline in Mukilteo.  A huge sea lion gave us a show, we carved our initials in a piece of giant drift wood and scoured the sand for sea glass and treasures.  The lot of us tried our hand at skimming rocks.  Pop out did us all.  From there it was coffee at Red Cup and an afternoon of relaxing after see you laters were said.

Working on the bride's bouquet!

First toast!  

Wedding day!

Sunset shennanigans.

Successful catch!

Me and Pop.

Cake time.

At the bay.

Next cover of PNW magazine?

The next day was Valentine's Day, or Galentine's in this case because it was just us girls!  Thing 2 and Laura had scheduled hair cuts in Seattle so we all spent the day wandering the streets after breakfast at Portage Bay, which quickly became my favorite.  Then off to a local book store, Buffalo Exchange and Mighty O Donuts.  Then dinner at Thing 1's favorite burger place and a dessert that was nothing short of life changing.  Thank you for making vegan desserts that taste scrumptious.  I've never had cashew ice-cream before and now it is all I ever want.  I just made myself drool.  I'll stop now.  The next day called for city exploring and an attempt at visiting the Space Needle.  Much to Thing 2 and Laura's dismay it was closed for renovations that day.  Insert sad face here.  We walked around the Museum of Pop Culture, played on the play ground, drank coffee, found the water and the sculpture park.  We snuck in to a bathroom, because 40 year old bladder, and walked some more, stumbling upon a bakery, rather infamous in it's stature apparently.  It served us well, filled our bellies and provided dessert for our last night together.  To make amends for the Space Needle let down we all went to the Columbia Center, the tallest building in Seattle, for an epic view from the Starbucks and then Thing 2 and Laura went to the observation deck.  Thing 1 and I were feeling queasy just thinking of it.  The view was astounding and city skylines just make me so happy.  They are so unique and quiet and contradictory, especially from the 73rd floor.  We had Galentine's game cards and special desserts and more snuggling on the couch waiting for us and that is just what we all did.  Another good, good night in the books and memory bank.  Then off to the airport for Thing 2 and myself.  Thing 1 and Laura had another day together.  From what I understand they went to the premier of Black Panther, drank more coffee and enjoyed the time together at a cutie little boutique hotel in Seattle.  Thing 2 and I said goodbyes, hugged necks and met in the airport for breakfast before she boarded her flight to Nashville and I boarded mine to Long Beach.  I held close to the promise that I'd be seeing her in ten short weeks in my neck of the woods.  But still, see you laters are never easy for this Mama's heart.  Soon is not soon enough.

Get in my belly.  Thanks Mighty-O donuts!  

Sculpture garden smiles.

The park.  Why yes, Thing 2 and I did climb up, cross the bridge and slide down the slide.  

City skyline.


Ginormous trees.  Wow.

And here, well I have no caption.  Except I love these two.  A lot.  

I landed in Long Beach and was met with smiles by Aunt Theresa and Tristin.  First stop: coffee, duh.  Then on to Chino for family dinner.  Most of the family was able to join us with the exception of Auntie Robin, she was with Framma.  We sat around the table, as you know, its my favorite place to be, and laughed, shared about life in Vienna and caught up on the latest and greatest with everyone.  And then the phone call, Framma was being rushed to the hospital, her blood pressure had dropped during dialysis.  The prayers began and we were all unsure of what to do.  The doctors assured Auntie Robin that she would be stabilized and there was no need to rush over.  So we didn't.  In fact we went to the Stucks and did homework with Gianna, caught up with Cameron, Kayla and Mailee and Aunt Tina and then another call and Aunt Tina headed over to help Aunt Robin and give her a break from the hospital.  Nan and I decided to go to bed and first thing in the morning we would head over to visit and surprise Framma.  Then the wake up call at 1am, Nan and I raced to the hospital but about half way there we received a message letting us know that Framma was gone.  She stopped breathing and her life ended.  Peacefully, with Aunt Tina beside her.  That was it.  We walked into the room and it was all so surreal.  Not the way I had planned it.  We prayed, awkwardly, started making arrangements and then went for coffee at IHOP, as you do?  I don't know, we definitely don't fit the mold when it comes to family so pancakes at 4am seemed reasonable.  There was so much to process.  Coffee was consumed, pancakes eaten and it was back to reality.  Us going home for donut friday with the Stucks and everyone else gingerly hugging and saying goodbye, a little shaken from the finality the day held.  Despite the sadness of the morning, and the mourning, donuts and smiley nieces and my nephew brightened my world in a beautiful way.  The normal, the routine, the expected.  I was grateful for that morning.  For the peace I felt and the love that was shared.  We spent the day arranging appointments for Nan and the funeral home, celebrating Brother's fitness challenge success and picking up Gianna from school and then Olivia and Luca too.  It was Auntie LeLe heaven,  we played and read and prepared a restaurant for dinner at home and then we all fell asleep watching a movie together.  Doesn't get much better than that!  My last day with the fam was spent at Ballast Point Brewery in LB before my flight.  My people had a surprise birthday celebration for me and it was so much fun.  We scored seats overlooking the water, there was good beer, good food and good conversation.  They even sang happy birthday to me and drove me to In N Out for a goodbye burger before I returned to Seattle and my Thing 1.

Family dinner.

Reading a new book. 

Teach them in the way they should go...or something like that, right?

Donut Friday! 

The view.  Thanks Ballast Point!

The Stucks and 1 Hanson!

This girl helped me blow out my candles.

Aunt Tree and me!

Back in Seattle and my girl met me at a super fun place for dinner and drinks.  Her very first time ordering a drink at the bar with me.  A tad momentous, mostly it is one of those parenting milestones where I had to pinch myself and ask if this was really happening.  And how did it arrive so quickly, I was just sorting through her board books yesterday and the day before that I was combing through her curls when she had bubble gum stuck in them.  Time.  It can be so cruel.  And yet so beautiful too.  I am grateful.  We had dinner with her friend and headed to the hotel where we snuggled, ate Ben and Jerry's in bed and woke to snow.  I was secretly hoping that my flight would be cancelled but as we drank our coffee I savored those last few moments knowing that I would be in route to Vienna shortly.  There was no snow in the city and so the trip continued on.  Husband Jared and Things 3 and 4 waiting for my return.  Another see you later, another airport and another trip in the books.

For Framma

For you Framma, words to send you off.  Wherever you may be going and whatever journey for your soul lays ahead your life here on earth mattered.  Without you there would have been no Mom for me, or Nani for my four.  Without you I would not have learned how to play cribbage, the art of a handwritten letter, the connection with nature, how to breathe in fresh air or sleep under the stars.  A privilege anytime I went camping with you.  I have always admired your bravery, your willingness to go your own way and the unapologetic manner in which you lived your life.  There were times it was confusing to me but as I’ve grown I have carried that adventurous spirit within me.  I have learned from your stories.  Questioned your mistakes and wondered about your childhood.  I’m certain you shielded so much in order to spare us the hurt and sorrow that cloaked your heart.  When you smiled it was almost as if I could hear a bit of that shell crack and I witnessed a glimmer of the light within.  It was beautiful, as you were.  You were a risk taker.  Leaving a city you knew when a divorce came, starting businesses, even at the age of 75 and never fearing that the risk might not produce a reward.  Life was worth living and if not contrary to the norm than why at all?  I always considered you to be on the fringe.  And I think that inspired me in so many ways.  You said more with your silence than your words and I thank you for teaching me valuable lessons in how not to live, as well.  I have you to thank, in part, for my love of the ocean.  Water has been grounding for me, a place to connect to myself and I feel that it will always be a place that reminds me of you.  I suppose that is what happens when you have a grandmother who moves to an island, collects shells and sand dollars and lives with geckos in her house; a grandmother who bucks tradition wearing electric island colors and Birkenstock sandals to your wedding.  Framma, our letter writing kept me connected to family at a time when I didn’t even know who I was.  There was never judgment or shaming or should have’s with you, just a grandmother and granddaughter, writing and sharing our lives as they were.   I thought some grand poetic words would flow and I’d be able to accurately portray the Framma I knew and loved.  I’m not sure that is being accomplished here but I am finding that this letter to you is cathartic.  When we began writing again last year I realized how much I had missed that connection with you.  I am grateful.  Grateful that my children have memories of visiting you in AZ, of you hanging out by the pool with us, of you and I hovering over the cribbage board and you always winning and exploring the desert wildlife with you.  Those are some of the same memories I have of you as well.  Weekends spent camping with PWP.  Playing board games, exploring and not showering for a few days.  Learning how to pitch a tent, cook on the Coleman and roast a mean marshmallow.  We played and you never once told me not to get dirty.  Heaven on earth for this tomboy!  I never had to be anything other than myself with you.  There are countless memories and twists and turns in the story of your life, those are not for me to tell.  This toast and prayer is for you.  In honor of the life you lived, the people you loved and the memories we carry with us.   Thank you for it all.  You have shaped our lives with yours and loved us the best you could.  I’ll carry on and when I hear the waves crashing on the shore, or find a whole sand dollar buried deep in the sand I’ll think of you.  When steel drums are playing in the background my mind will drift to breezy island days and mocko jumbies towering tall and the smile on your face when you felt free.  I love you Framma, here’s to you.  Peace and Love always. 

Lani xo 

This is my 40.

A few days, ok a month, after my 40th birthday and I am sitting at the desk, where I start most mornings and feeling all contemplative.  I knew 40 was coming.  I've imagined grand trips or some list to accomplish before I arrived at this number.  At the end of the day though, I am just thankful to be here.  To have celebrated the day of my birth and been gifted another day.  Or that is the narrative I am choosing to believe.  Because if I am real honest with myself and all of you, that doesn't feel like enough.  I have let my fitness level decline.  My diet has included more bread than ever before, because you know European flour is different and more pastries for the same reason.  A "when in Rome" attitude if you will.  For the past two years I have been on the outside looking in.  Before we left Minnesota I had a plan.  A direction for my life.  The Things were running in their own lanes.  Comfortable.  Secure.  In all the categories, school, friends, church.  Making that statement should not imply that our lives were without challenges or mistakes, simply that we had community of sort and a life that was predictable to a limited extent.  And yet there was still an unsettled feeling stirring within.  Changes on the horizon.  But me, I had just enrolled at the junior college and was going to be working towards my degree.  That decision felt right.  Change reared it's head and we found ourselves celebrating our eldest child's high school graduation, moving her to the West coast for 7 months and moving ourselves down South shortly thereafter.  Throwing our family into upheaval and uncertainty.  We had assumed we were moving to a known place.  Thing 2 was beginning her senior year being home schooled, having left behind a solid circle of influence and an education we valued so highly.  Things 3 and 4 were along for the move and all a bit reluctantly.  When we arrived in TN the people we thought we were shifted.  Those that had remained in TN had changed.  We had changed.  The city had been in motion while we were away and although we visited often being a full time resident was not the same.  Regret arrived heavy and hasn't left.  Looking back is a valuable tool but remaining there is no good.  Learn, move forward.  Clutching tight to hope and trusting that this was the plan.  A way prepared for our family.  And I do believe that it was exactly where we were supposed to be.  But believing that and living in that fullness are two completely different acts.  I digress. This is my 40.

 So, that was two and a half years ago and now we are living on a new continent, in a new country and again I feel so distant.  Not just as a matter of the kilometers between us but the space in my head.  Shame and pride and regret fill the available space and I cannot seem to provide any sort of distance between the mistakes of the past and where I am present day.  They consume me.  I know that is my weakness.  A false sense of belonging.  Not really believing that I do.  Or that I am good enough.  Nor am I worthy of the beautiful words that were gifted to me on the birthday I am reflecting on.  Words from friends and family and my Things and Husband Jared.  Life giving words dripping with sweetness and encouraging to my soul.  And  yet, what I called to my mind were the failings.  Yes, I can be all those things but what about when I am not?  Don't you remember then?  And if you do, which you should, because in my mind they live so large, why not talk about those?  With force and power, mostly provided by me and the time I indulge them with.  Where is the block?  What wall am I up against?  I want nothing more than to break the wall down.  To live in the light where the past is not who I am.  But as I reluctantly admit here I invest too much in other people's opinions.  I place them higher than God's.  Most of what I remember has to do with choices I made.  Usually alcohol was involved or words that spewed from my lips that I didn't really want to say.  Actions that did not match the theology I was pushing.  Thorns in my side that I directed like arrows into the crowd.  Manipulative motivation behind my helping.  Thank you enneagram for giving language to that twinge of uncertainty I had felt when offering my "help" or when reaching out to lost relationships in the hopes of feeling something that could not be fulfilled by the person on the other end.  And now when I do recognize that rising up the guilt and shame rush in, and when I don't act on that inclination I feel proud and self aware.  Shit, it's about time.  This is my 40.  

As I reread what I've just written I am wondering quietly, can I actually publish this?  How will those that read it interpret my words?  These letters composing a gateway to my mind and so very vulnerable.  All for the sake of authenticity.  I will sit with this thought as I send this post into cyber land to be read or not.  This therapeutic writing is more for me than anyone else.  Yet, maybe someone can relate? Possibly these words resonate with another soul struggling.  My intent is pure.  Let's keep on pushing through, shall we?  So, if I can be all those things, the evil and desperate and ugly, I can also be good and pure and lovely, am I right?  Apologies have been given, forgiveness asked for, I think in most cases.  If not, can I do so here?  Publicly?  I've confessed to my heavenly Father.  There it is.   The hesitation is in the realization that I am ALL of these things.  A wife who is selfish and harsh with her love, a mother who reacts and then disregards and lacks attentiveness or sits in judgment because of the reflection or lack of respect, a sister who hasn't always honored or considered the feelings, values and wants of her brothers and sisters, a student that didn't value the education she was given, a liar, smoker, drinker, lost little girl offering her body to others because she thought that was all she had to give.  A people pleasing friend who morphs her likes and dislikes to have common ground with others, a friend without a voice and unwilling to stand up for what is right, a friend that judges or compares and doesn't speak life.  I could go on and on.  There is more, heck we all have more.  More whispers of inadequacy and unforgiveness, less than, wrong and right.  Forgotten sins and those we left behind in the wake of our sin and lust for better.  Alright.  Now the choice.  In this year of 40 I want to make a different choice. Leave the darkness of the past behind.  I have ruminated for far too long.  About everything, all the time.  Trust me, it's a real thing for me.  Ask anyone who knows me well.  This isn't a grand declaration.  Only a mere acknowledgment that I can be all those things.  I have been all that and more.  So much worse.  In that I have lived as if I still was.  Not in freedom.  Those lies of what once was have been chains around my neck.  My ankles.  My legs, feet and head.  Weighing me down.  Placing a burden of hell around my heart and binding up the capacity I carry within.  Trust me when I say I am taken with lengthy confessions, pages upon pages of self loathing, this is not that.  This is my 40.  A self revelation that has been years in the making.  Years of not understanding that I can be.  I can be all those things and still so much more.  I AM all of those things and so much more.  This isn't about the past defining who I am.  Although that does play into the equation.  It is more about the dynamic make up that constitutes our character, our personality, our entire being.  Holistically.  Mind, body and spirit.  Together.  

An account I follow on Instagram, Jessica Honegger of Noonday, posted a little Friday therapy note a while ago that has pricked my heart and boggled my mind and made me say a loud and resounding, Amen Sister.  It eludes to this notion of congruity, authenticity and the beautiful capability we innately have to inhabit such a time as this within our divinely created beings. This space is called tension and it is where we reside.  In between and all of the things at once.  She says it so much more eloquently than I did in the paragraphs above.  Essentially, the idea is this: yes, I did all those things, I said and wrote and believed all of it.  And yet, here I am.  Now I live forgiven and still in the tension of self awareness and choice.  Jessica says, "We can hold tensions well when we hold them together."  That being said, it isn't so much of the past but where I am now.  This is my 40.  And here are some of my "#choosingand" statements.  I may have misinterpreted her intent with the post but again, her words spoke to me in such a way.  This way, that I am sharing here.  In the letting go and being bold and afraid of it all at the exact same time.  

I can be authentic and hold some things for myself.  I can be an introvert and still love people.  I can be right and wrong.  I can take Juice Plus and eat cake for breakfast.  I can shop at Target and be an advocate for fair trade.  I can be educated and not have a college degree.  I can be a Jesus lover and use cuss words.  I can be content and grateful for where I am and long for change.  I can love living abroad and miss my people so much it hurts.  I can be a gypsy and desire a place to settle down.  I can love city living and the country.  I can think my way is good and right and know that yours is too.  I can love rap and traditional hymns.  I can love planning and the unexpected.  I can love you and not agree with you.  I can have wrinkles and stretch marks and feel beautiful.  I can love the tele and be an avid reader.  I can love traveling with my children and alone.  I can be a stay at home Mama and a successful business owner.  I can be a runner and not run races.  I can be strong and need help.  I can parent well and be a friend to my adult children.  I can give and spend.  I can be scared and confident.  I can love social media and believe that it has the potential to be  dangerous.  I can be a hippy at heart and appreciate the finer things.  I can be idealistic and a realist.  I can be dependent on Husband Jared and an independent woman.  I can be silly and go deep.  I can need sleep and go without.  I can wear workout clothes and not work out.   I can love who I am and want to become more.  I can love Jesus and question Him.  I can read Scripture and novels.  I can want all the things and be a minimalist.  I can like wearing happy pants and a pretty dress.  I can love the church and want to be a part of her change.  I can home school and appreciate public education.  I can love the environment and not use a recyclable coffee cup.  I can love my people and set healthy boundaries.  I can say yes and no without guilt.  I can feel loved and not needed. I can be fierce and gentle.  I can be patient and demanding.  I can forgive and not forget.  I can be conservative and liberal.  I can love to be at home and go out.  I can be a leader and a follower.  I can love homeopathic medicine and visit a traditional doctor.  I can appreciate tradition and be an agent for change.  I can be a lover and a fighter.  I can be quiet and loud. I can laugh and cry.  I can still be a good parent and screw up royally, like everyday.  I can be a beach person and love the mountains.  

In all it's glorious contradiction there is my list of #choosingand.  Everyday has the potential for struggle, within or externally.  And everyday I walk in that tension of choice.  These are choices where I can live fully in tension and feel good about it.  I am sure this list is organic and will evolve as self awareness heightens.  As it should.  Change is constant and growth is inevitable.  So I will allow myself to move fluidly here within these statements.  Living on purpose.  Being kind to myself and others.  This is my 40.

With this new season and all that it seems to have ushered in, a tad unexpectedly, I will choose to embrace it.  Thus the words written and shared.  Vulnerability, in all the weighted expectation it brings.  I stand, with puffed out chest and all the false security I can muster, bring it on.  That is a win, right there my friends.  A proclamation of hope that my 40 will be a year of trust.  Trusting that I know me better.  That all the statements I made above will be believed and lived to accordingly.  Trusting that the past helped mold and refine me.  Trusting that just because I made mistakes doesn't mean I am not worthy of love.  Or of Jesus.  Trusting that this womanly change is natural and good and holds healing potential.  Can I get an Amen there sisters?  Trusting that my words do not convey darkness or self loathing.  Trusting that I am where I am supposed to be.  For such a time as this.  Trusting that my adult age children, who are not living in the same country as me, are prepared and ready and equipped for adulthood.  Trusting that friendships will withstand distance.  Trusting that community is waiting for us here.  Trusting that the two children that are here with us will weather the transition.  Trusting.  Loads of trusting.  This is my 40.