Just Be


Photo By: sxseventy on instagram

Change is difficult.

I’m not very good with it. Actually, if we’re being honest, I am pretty terrible with it. And I’m terrified of it.

I know that this isn’t unusual… most people have a hard time with change. But for me, the “hard time” involves my world being rocked and my being shaken to the core. It often leaves me feeling like the wind has been knocked out of me and that everything would be better with the doors closed and me hanging out in a corner all by myself, with my heart locked up in a little box where change can’t touch it.

But, I had an epiphany the other day which is slowly taking shape in my soul.

What if instead of getting better, I just be.

I don’t mean just “be better.” Change isn’t hard for the hell of it. It’s hard because it’s challenging and it has the potential to crush me.

No, I mean: Just. Be.

Just experience the change and see what happens. Don’t be a bystander, be a participant.

Starting my PhD program was a change. Getting married was a change. Taking a photography class was a change. Opening my heart to new relationships was a change. And each of those changes have been beautiful. Each have made me a better person.

So, my goal today — because this is a day-at-a-time thing — is to not aim to get better.

My goal is to just be.

Traffic and Self Worth

So, I have Google Analytics installed on my blog. I don’t think that would actually surprise anyone, I mean, I do like keeping track of how many people are coming to visit and where from. It can also tell me how “popular” my blog is in the sense of percentages. It will also share with me how long people stay on a page. And, it tells me where y’all show up from (link on another blog, facebook, etc.) It’s handy, definitely.
What’s not handy about it is how I start to value those numbers on the analytics homepage.I obsessively check them to see how many people looked at my blog. And I start to wrap my value as a writer, thinker – as a person – into it. And that’s not okay. 
It’s not okay, because I’m truly not my analytics numbers. I’m more than that. My self-worth and my identity are not tied to how many unique visitors I receive or how many comments or whatever.
Now, I would like to say that it’s way easier to write that then to believe it. When I want my corner of the world to be important, I sometimes let those gremlins slip in and tell me that I’m not good enough because I don’t have enough traffic. 
But here’s the thing, gremlins – the people who are coming, are people who love and care about me. And that’s what matter.

Shame Triggers

Shame triggers are situations, comments, or comparisons that can cause each of us to fall into a spiral of shame – activating our sense of not being good enough and not belonging. These triggers are unique to each person and can come from any number of sources internally, from our family of origin, or from society. 
I have many shame triggers. One of my triggers is writing. I love writing. I love putting my words on paper (or in a word processor) and emptying my brain. It’s really helpful for me. And, I love sharing most of it on this blog.
My trigger is within grammar and spelling. Also, word choice. I try to be very conscious of how I spell and use grammar, though I recognize that I also have my own special way of saying things. 

So, this morning, when I looked at facebook and a really good friend of mine wrote, under my link to yesterday’s blog, “I’m grateful that I can spell ‘gratitude'”….. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. In my original title, I spelled “gratitude” as “gratiude“.

When my shame is triggered, I don’t really get angry or defensive, I get sad. I get deeply embarrassed and deeply sad. And if it happens in the morning, like today, it colors the entirety of my day. It may not be a bad day, but the shame crawls in during strange moments, colors my face red, and makes me feel more than awful. 
And that was my day. 

My Heart’s in the DRC

I have about 800 things which I want to blog about. They just keep running through my head. So that means that tonight, while I make taco soup and wait for 10:30 to come around to pick up the husband, I will be blogging and saving and getting my thoughts down. 

But, for now, I want to talk about my heart. Not my literal heart in that the thing which keeps me alive (although I’m quite grateful for it). I mean my heart in the sense of what I followed onto this career path, what I listen to if I’m making good decisions, that heart. 

In August of 2007, I read an article that has literally changed my life. It’s by Eve Ensler and it’s about rape in the DRC. It was published in Glamour, and I tore it out and kept it folded in my wish box for a long time.
From Amy’s Picasa Album. Link at bottom

The second I read that article I believed without a shadow of a doubt that one day I would go to the DRC and work in that hospital or with another group and work with these women whose lives have been shattered by rape. By rape in a way which we can’t fathom and don’t want to. These women are amazing, and I want to know their stories.

I told my husband (who was my boyfriend, at the time) about this. He was not pleased. And still isn’t. My husband wants me to have nothing to do with the DRC. He says this out of a his concern for my safety, not because he doesn’t want me to follow my heart (we moved to Nebraska for goodness sake’s. He’s all about me following my dreams.) And I believe him. But I just can’t turn it off. 
Recently, I started reading a blog called The King Effect. And, it’s amazing. It’s a woman who decided to move to the DRC to do something about what was going on. 
And I want to be her.

I’m looking into Fulbrights. As a graduate students certain parts of the world are more open to me than undergrads. I’m going to the DRC one day to work with these amazing people. I promise. 

Photos of her time in the DRC can be seen here: https://picasaweb.google.com/amy.ernst114

Teenage Spirituality

I volunteer at my church. Specifically, I work with the youth group. 
Even more specifically, I am co-leading the confirmation group this go around. We have 7 guys, which has been fantastic. And very different. I don’t know if you’ve ever hung around with teenage guys, but they are totally different than teenage girls.
Now, I am also a therapist-in-training, for those of you who didn’t know. This means that I deal with emotion on a fairly regular basis both from my clients and from myself. 
But sometimes, sometimes it catches me off guard. Like tonight. One of the guys from the confirmation class had a hard, hard weekend. He lost a good friend of his suddenly, and, as with anyone he is in a state of shock, and sadness, and he’s questioning everything. Just like any of us would. 
And tonight, while we’re talking about what happened in class he begins to get emotional. 
If you’ve never seen a teenage boy begin to be upset, it’s heartbreaking because the pain is palpable. And as myself and the other leaders try to get our bearings, one of the other boys stands up and walks over and places a hand on the first. 
It was so beautiful. So amazing. And so powerful. 
And made me unbelievably grateful to be a part of this process.