A couple weeks ago, I went to Barnes & Noble to smell the words. I go to bookstores to walk among my people, to see their dreams on the shelves, and I let my mind rest in the truth that the journey I am on to tell my story is a life journey. It is not a weekend goal but a day by day, moment by moment, dream in progress. As I walked around Barnes & Noble clutching tightly to two books I needed to hold onto like they where a life preserver and I was floating in the deep oceans of my dreams, I came across a book. I was standing just outside the children’s area waiting for my little boy to find the one thing he most needed to spend his birthday money on. I looked down and I saw a book that was dark blue like the night’s sky, with what looked like fireworks and stars all over it. I picked it up because my hand was reaching for it before I knew I wanted to see it. It never left my hand after that.
Looking For Lovely, Collecting The Moments That Matter, by Annie F. Downs. The cover feels of textured fabric under my fingers and the first words on the back of the book say, “When the enemy whispers lies that you are not smart enough, pretty enough, or rich enough? Or you are too dumb, too loud, too quiet, too thin, too fat, too much or not enough? What if you don’t have what it takes to be who you really want to be?”
I couldn’t put these words back down on the table. They didn’t belong on this table, in this section of the store, so it was very clear that someone had left it there for me. I fully enjoyed reading Annie’s words. She collected moments of pain and joy, and wrote them out to help her readers find lovely.
As I flipped from page to page and read her moments I began to see so much of myself. It brought me a great deal of comfort. I lived very close to the area of Nashville that some of her story takes place in and I could visualize myself there. I found myself on her pages as if she was writing about me, not to me. I could feel her heart beats in her words and hear her hate for herself turn into love and her disgust turn into compassion.
In the opening chapter Annie talks about realizing she is a quitter. I was confused because I was holding her dream in my hand and if she was a quitter then how did I end up with her heart on these pages? I kept reading and she goes on to say she has been working on conditioning her mind. My breathing slowed way down and my mind seamed to like this idea quite a lot.
I have never really played sports. My school mates in New York let me be on the soccer team. They let me cheer for them and take trips with them, they loved me even though I couldn’t run and breath at the same time. They cheered for me when I made my one and only goal in two years because they knew how important it was that I feel valuable even when I wasn’t needed to win the game. I didn’t ever have to quit soccer because we moved from New York to Oklahoma. I was granted the time to tell people, “I play soccer, but not here yet,” for a while. Even though I didn’t have to quit playing soccer, I found that I have been a quitter most of my life. I do not like the conditioning part of an athlete’s job, or the process one will go through in school to seek out their dream of becoming something great. I just want to be great. I want to wake up and speak French, I want to go to the gym every day for a week and then come home on Friday fit and healthy and never have to go back. I want to organize that hall closet and for it to stay that way.
As I was reading about Annie and her realization that she is a quitter, and I was realizing that I am a quitter, there was a peace that felt like a blanket over me and around my heart. I may have quit all kinds of things in my life, but that means I also have tried all kinds of things in my life. I didn’t know I wanted to write when I was young. I didn’t think I would be brave enough to tell people my story and I for sure had no interest in letting people in my space to hear the lies I was being told, because I didn’t know they where lies. I didn’t quit hiding them for a very long time but I am so glad I did. I am glad I quit on the idea of going to school as a finance major. I would have enjoyed the work but hated the 9-5, I would have had too much debt to stay home with my children, to hold them while they slept and to homeschool them and watch them learn.
Quitting isn’t always a bad thing, but I learned a new mantra for when things I am desperate not to give up on get hard. I am conditioning my mind and it may take every ounce of me to keep going but it will be worth it. I imagine Michael Phelps swimming and how he lives and breathes his dreams in the pool. I sit at my computer and bleed sometimes, but I am healing wounds and conditioning my mind while I write. My dreams are worth the moment by moment conditioning, my healing is worth each word typed and edited. My life is worth letting people know of the lies and accepting that I am not alone.
Annie goes on to talk about so many beautiful stories in her life and she shares some of her most favorite lovely moments in the pages; there is a mission to her writing. A challenge to find lovely, to recognize how beautiful this place is right here, right now, and that we can live in lovely if we pay attention. So, I have been out collecting images of my most favorite places. The items in my home that bring me joy, the things that bring reminders of God’s love. It’s been a beautiful experience to stop and see my day from the perspective of lovely. If I could capture a picture of the moment I am having right now, I would just for you. It isn’t easy to capture the feeling of perseverance; the understanding that dreams are built one moment at a time. That my dream to tell you about my most hidden away moments is coming closer to print with ever word that I write. I can show you an image of my most cherished of places though.
I am currently on my couch wrapped in a blanket handmade by my grandmother, stitch by stitch she created the design on fabric. Hours of her life went into the gift I now have wrapped around me while I write out each word that will soon be sent out for you to read. I am wrapped in her love and her perseverance while I condition my mind and tell my story.
I hope you look for lovely, I hope you seek out the spaces that breathe life back into you, and I hope you will find rest in the conditioning of your mind.