Let Me Love You

Today is your 20th birthday.

I have known about you for 17 years. I feel like I have loved you forever…since the beginning of time.

I’m not gonna lie to you, Jenna. When you were a little girl, you kinda drove me crazy. We’re so close in age, and I felt more often like you were my little sister than my niece. You wanted to be near me every second, and I didn’t think it was very “cool” to have such a little girl following me around. The word “cool” is in “” because I don’t actually know if I have ever been cool a day in my life.

Which leads me to my next point…

I’m not gonna lie to you, Jenna. When you were a teenager, I was a little bit scared of you. There were times when it was me who felt like the younger one. You knew the coolest bands and had good fashion sense. I was always convinced that you were judging me, even though I should have had the confidence to not care. But I did. And I was also pretty jealous of the fact that you looked up to “Uncle Nick”. You two had the brother-sister relationship I always wanted with him, and I felt like even though he is only 4 years older than you, that he was a better uncle than I was an aunt. I started to wish we could go back to the time when you were a little girl following me around…I wish I had known back then that I would totally miss having you look up to me.

And then, somewhere along the way, you stopped driving me crazy, you stopped being a teenager, you stopped intimidating me and you started to become one of the people I admire most in this whole world.

You’re smart and you’re funny. And you’re a good listener and you’re an amazing writer. You’re beautiful and you’re worthy of love.

It’s crazy how lucky I feel to be in your life. But I still don’t feel like an aunt. First of all, you have never called me that which is fine. But more than that, I feel like I have somehow failed you. I have never been there for you to cry on my shoulder. I have never heard your deepest secrets, dreams, and fears. I didn’t even know about your heartache until you wrote it on my blog. And I have never come to your rescue when you needed someone to come get you in the night.

Jenna, I am so sorry about that.

This past year has been wonderful as we have definitely become closer than we ever have been before. I know that there were things that needed to be resolved, truths that needed to be told, light shed on much darkness. It wasn’t for lack of wanting or trying to be your aunty, and I hope you know that. All those years that went by where we didn’t speak, please don’t think it was because I didn’t want you.

You are now in your 20’s and even though you might not feel any older today than you were yesterday, this is a big deal. Your 20’s are going to rock your world, I can feel it in my bones. Who you are now is going to start spiralling, evolving, developing, solidifying and best of all…settling. Gone are those hormonal, confusing, complicated and damaging feelings of “who am I”. You will still wonder from time to time who exactly you are, and so you should. It’s healthy. But thankfully, it gets a bit easier now.

I’m very excited to see what this year brings, not to mention the ones to come. You are going to do great things, you are going to have grand adventures, and you are going to bring light and love to lives that you don’t even know exist yet. Are you pumped?

Jenna, don’t live your life in a box. Dream things that scare you. Take risks that terrify you. Befriend someone who annoys you. Think about things that make you uncomfortable. And let’s help each other to start finding love in all the RIGHT places. How does that sound?

I don’t have a gift for you, Jenna. Not unless you count my devotion to you. A 7 year age-gap makes it hard for you to be able to see me as your aunt, so let’s just drop that. How about an older sister/friend/family member who cares deeply for your mind, body, soul and heart? I’m here for you. Please know it.

Today is your 20th birthday. That’s 20 candles which means 20 wishes. Make ’em good ones, Jenners.

You. Are. Loved.

~C

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…The Next Generation

Most of the time I really hope that children are in my future. When I was a bit younger and trying to sort out what I wanted to do with my life (ha, like that actually happened), I really resisted the urge to work with kids and youth. I looked into professions that took me far in the other direction—geriatric social work, for example. Doesn’t get much further from working with little ones than that. Maybe I just thought that I had done my time caring for young children. Maybe I thought it was “too easy”. Whatever the case, I was in some serious denial.

Regardless of whether or not I ever become a parent, I have realized now that children will always, always, always be in my life, and I will more than likely always work closely with them. Which is great. But sometimes, it is really hard.

Not because they are snotty. Not because they are whiney. Not because they are so needy.

It’s because they grow up so fast. And not always in a good way…

Exhibit A:

This is a conversation that took place recently between me and a very tiny 8 year old girl…

~Me: Enjoying your lunch?

~Little Girl: Yep, and thankfully this only has 10 calories

~Me: Oh really?…So, is that something that is important to you, hon?

~Little Girl: Oh yes. Mom says that if I don’t watch it I am gonna get fat and that means ugly

Me: Your mom said that? Does she care about calories, too?

Little Girl: Doesn’t everyone?

Don’t get me wrong—adults who don’t have a great metabolism anymore probably should be on the careful side to be healthy. But telling an 8 year old (one who is already kinda small for her age) to count calories? What is going on?

And…Exhibit B (during a clean game of Truth or Dare)

~Me: Hey Grace*, Truth or Dare?

~Grace: Um…truth

~Me: Would you rather be really, really happy or really, really famous?

~Grace: Definitely famous!!

~Me: Really? How come?

~Grace: There is nothing better than being famous. It’s everything. I would rather be sad for the rest of my life than not famous. I wish I was Kesha. Badly.

Sigh…

Is there even a need for me to write anything, or are we all on the same page here? Is your heart sad for these girls? Because mine is. Am I too naive? Am I “behind the times”? Am I too protective of these kids?

Or is this legitimately sad?

My mom said that I can listen but I can’t take this on…and she’s right. I can’t change the course of the next generation. I can’t stop them from growing up. But I can care. And I can do what I can to help people, young people, see that they are beautiful.

When I think about becoming a parent, I usually think of it in terms of raising a baby…you know, strolling around Wal-Mart at 10am on a Tuesday morning, soaking in every moment of my mat leave. I think of folding tiny baby sleepers and onesies and rocking my baby (babies?) to sleep. But how often do I think about raising a human? Like, a person who is supposed to better this world by being alive?

It’s an intimidating thought. And even though I can imagine that sleepless newborn nights are hard, how much harder it would be to have an 8 year old girl who wants to lose weight. One who probably only weighs 55 pounds to begin with. I am going to start praying now that I have the courage to take that on, and when my (hypothetical) kids turn 8 or 9, that I have I have the grace to walk them through this life that is just changing and evolving so quickly.

But for now, I am going to continue working with the next generation. I am going to do my best to show these young kids acceptance, love, and empathy. I won’t become a geriatric social worker. I will continue my studies in psychology and sociology and do my best to become an effective child and youth care worker one day.

And tomorrow, when I get to work, I’m gonna thank God that I have such a cool job this summer.

Hope everyone is fine and dandy out there!

~C

*Needless to say, that kid’s name is not actually Grace. But you already knew that. 🙂

Auntie and sweet Joey 🙂

Jenna’s Song—July 18th

Hello my Just Let Her Sing blog buddies. It’s been far too long.

I am writing this while I sit on my porch, watch the summer rain fall, and am listening to the same song on repeat (Marvin’s Room by JoJo). I have been having a strange week, a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I know that writing always makes me feel better. It releases whatever pent up karmic energy I need to get rid of, but for some reason I choose to wallow in my thoughts. Love has been on my mind, along with loneliness and lust.

I came to the realization a while back that I am in love with being in love. I don’t necessarily mean “true love” (whatever that is), but the beginning of it. The heart pounding, sweaty palm, can’t-stop-talking-to-him, dreamy stage of love. Those butterflies are my heroin. Knowing this about myself scares the shit out of me. I am afraid to get involved with anyone new for fear of losing that feeling. Sort of like I would rather not get a taste only to never taste it again. So I either put my ‘don’t talk to me’ disguise on or I choose losers who I know deep down inside are never going to make me happy.

One is to much, a hundred is never enough

I sabotage good relationships that are actually special and make me feel good by smothering the guy or getting overly sensitive. Analyzing everything they say, and having an overwhelming need to be, well, needed. Anyone who knows me knows that sensitivity isn’t much of an issue for me and I absolutely hate smothering people. I don’t blame anyone for running away when they feel like they are being emotionally suffocated. Why I do it, I have no idea.

Get ready, get set, don’t go…

I talk a lot about feeling worthy on Pink Apartment. Maybe my poor relationship skills are from my lack of feeling worthy. I don’t think I am special enough to love and be loved. The emotional instability I have sometimes deepens my fear that I will never find Mr. Right. Not that guys aren’t interested in me, but as a caring, thoughtful person I don’t want to bring someone into my mess. I have been the one who’s walked into the life of someone who didn’t know who they were, and let me tell you, it was no picnic.

I wish I may, I wish I might, find out who I am tonight…

Maybe I am over-thinking it. Maybe all I can do is cross my fingers, pray to the Big Guy upstairs, and continue pursuing love with my heart on my sleeve with honesty and passion. I am okay with being in love with being in love, I just want to find someone who will share the same intensity for love as me. I would rather seek love in all the wrong places with all the wrong people than never know love at all.

“Sometimes we live our lives like puzzle pieces turned upside down – only showing the world our gray sides. Then along comes life, and it starts flipping them over, showing to us and the world more than just the outline of who we are – it shows us the colors. If we can start to turn more over and put them together, we can see the picture of who we really are emerge.”
~Manifest

Live, love, laugh,

J

The Hutch

I’m going out on a bit of a limb here—I try not to use this blog for advertisements that you guys don’t want to see. We have enough unwanted stuff thrown in our faces and shoved down our throats everywhere we look these days. But this is a bit different…

Alisha and I try to get away at least once a year for a Girls Weekend. No boys. No stressful reality. Just fun. And each other.

Last year our destination of choice was Vancouver Island, where we met 7 years ago, and our long-standing friendship was born. This year we decided to spend the weekend in Seattle (although we somehow ended up staying in Bothell…long story). Anyways, on the way down we decided to get off the highway and scoot over and down to the lovely and charming little town of La Connor, Washington.

There is one particular store in La Connor, called The Hutch, and it is simply amazing. The reason behind this post is because, without wanting to sound pushy or salesgirl-ish, I think you should go there. The owners are awesome and warm and creative and kind. They let me take a million pictures of anything and everything that I wanted to. And, well, simply put…it was an inspiring place to be. It was simple and quiet and comforting.

So I was chatting with one of the artists, Chris, and we exchanged websites. He took down mine, and I took down his. And I promised him and his wife that I would tell you guys about this store. Not because you have to go there and buy anything. But just because you should go there and see it. It’s pretty cool.

*****************************************************************************

Sometimes I wonder if I should be strictly writing about bulimia on this blog. In the 18 months it’s been up, you have been reading it and I have never got the impression that I shouldn’t stray from the heart of why I started it. That’s a silly sentence actually, because the heart of this blog is not really bulimia at all, but recovery. And recovery is all encompassing. I will be in recovery, so to speak, for the rest of my life. Because addiction is a serious thing. And I’m striving to pick up on the best things in life, the things that get me through it all, and you all are along for the ride.

So forgive me if I don’t always use the language of an eating disorder…I might not be as tempted anymore to binge, or purge, or hoard food. I might not be struggling daily to keep food in me. But that doesn’t mean that I am miraculously healed. And I so, so, SO appreciate the fact that you have been tagging along on this journey of mine. It really touches me to know you’re out there, and obviously you know I am here, too.

If you have time this summer, or even this fall, take a little detour off the I-5 and say hello to Chris and his buddies at The Hutch. And don’t forget to ride on elephants and horses and eat fish and chips at the local pub. Divine.

Happy new week, friends. Stay tuned for another post from Jenna later on tomorrow. Your Monday Special, as we like to think. 🙂

~C

Bonheur de L’amour

It means the “joy of love”.

I don’t know how or when or why the joy of love went away, but for a long time I was living in darkness this past year. Not the whole year, but a lot of it. Even though I was going through the motions of my life and had times of happiness, the joy was missing. And it was a terrible feeling.

But that’s not the case these days. Perhaps my anti-depressants have made the difference, perhaps it’s the sun. Maybe it’s the fact that I am working with camp kids again, maybe it’s the time I am spending with my friends. It’s probably all of those things, mixed in with the fact that I am rediscovering my faith these days. Not that I ever, ever stopped believing in God, but I definitely stopped talking to him. And I felt really lost. For a long time. But my faith is not about religion; it’s about a relationship with a God who doesn’t stop loving. Ever. Even when I forget he is there. Which is so very often.

My friend Lindsay has been a huge influence in my life this past year, and especially in the last few months. She is an encourager and a fighter and a ray of light in my life; one of those rare beings who gets inside your head and somehow knows exactly how to make it all better…Sometimes it seems surreal how quickly we clicked, but mostly it just feels insanely natural. For my birthday she bought me this book, one I would probably not even know to pick up. But there you are…she somehow knew it was what I needed.

And this morning, waking up feeling feverish and sick and overall disgusting, this is what I read…

“I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the joy of being loved constantly and perfectly. You make a practice of judging yourself, based on how you look or behave or feel. If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My Love. When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child. When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward to correct whatever is wrong. Instead of trying to “fix” yourself, fix your gaze on me, the Lover of your soul. Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising me. Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect love.” *

This is where my joy is coming from these days, my friends…it’s coming from a place where I am letting go of the idea that perfection needs to come from me, a place where perfection doesn’t exist.

I’m starting to put my focus back on the little things in life, things that make my smile 100 times brighter than it was a few months ago…Seeing people picking their nose in their car, oblivious to everyone around them. An old man carrying his precious strawberry sundae on a tray in the food court. Hearing the perfect song on the radio at the perfect time. A nurse in the paediatric unit showing upmost respect and love towards a sick babe. The giant smile on the face of my neighbour after a simple good morning wave. It really is all these little things that make life worth living, especially on hard days.

My friend lost her baby last week, the day he turned 1 week old. I so don’t know how to deal with that. I remember being at her wedding, looking at her in her sparkling white dress and thinking that nothing bad could ever happen to her again…and then something like this happens and I feel guilty for smiling ever again. But I somehow have to believe that when she held her little boy, she felt the joy of love. And that’s what we live for; whatever the dosage, whatever the length, whatever the outcome. It’s what makes us all survivors.

The joy of love. Bonheur de l’amour.

Look for it. Ask for it. Bask in it. Live for it.

~C

*Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Jenna’s Song

Hi everyone,

For those of you who don’t know me (erm…I suppose that is all of you), I am Christina’s niece, Jenna. I am a blogger as well. For the past year or so, I have been admiring Christina’s writing; she is a real inspiration to me. When she asked me to be a guest blogger on Just Let Her Sing, I was a tad intimidated but extremely excited. Christina has a grace and flow about her writing, even when she is on fire with emotion. One day I hope to be like that.

My blog, Pink Apartment, is a mixed media blog. Similar to Christina’s, I put personal posts about things and people in my life. However, I also post music, photography, quotes, and basically anything I find that inspires me, makes me laugh, and gets me thinking.

Now for my story…

I am a 20 year old from Canada. I love coffee, photography and music. I suppose I am the definition of a “Starbucks blogger” AKA: pain-in-the-ass-who-over-uses-the-comfy-chairs. I love sushi, my family, and of course blogging! Although my life now, today, this very second, is sweet cherry pie, the past has had moments of dark, suffocating breathlessness with a pinch of salt to the wounds. I have tried my very hardest to look at those moments as lessons learned that will only better me as a human being.

As a little girl I lived without my dad, and my mom has severe depression. I love my mom, but it was hard as a kid to understand what she was going through. My father has addiction issues and can be very abusive, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Throughout my life he was in and out. Most of the time I wish I never knew him, that the fantasy I had created in my head would stay intact. Sadly, we don’t choose our parents and we deal with what we were given.

I think the hardest thing I have ever dealt with (I am sure you’ll hear more about it in the future) is my break-up with Nathan. I met him when I was 15 and we dated for about 3 years. There was a fairly large age gap, which is partly one of the reasons we broke up. He was my knight in shining armor. He took care of me and in a strange way (or maybe not so strange way), he replaced the love that I was not getting from my father. Nathan brought some of the best out of me, and some of the worse. He taught me how to love and be loved. But he also taught me heartbreak and loneliness.

I think we can all say that there are people and instances in our lives that truly define our character. For some of us its heartbreak, family issues, mental health or just plain life. Simply being here is hard enough and when you throw in all the other crap it can be almost unbearable at times. Having blogs to read and coffee shops to converse in and wine to drink make the rigid edges soft. Because really, it’s those moments of quiet enjoyment that keep us all going.

I am a complex being, I have more to my story. I hope that you all check out my blog, and stay tuned for upcoming posts from me on Just Let Her Sing.

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.” 

~Haruki Murakami 

Live, Love, Laugh, 

J

                                    Jenna (9), Christina (16) and Little Tina (3 months)

Perfect Love

I hear you say…

“My love is over, it’s underneath, it’s inside, it’s in between
The times you doubt me, when you can’t feel
The times that you’ve questioned ‘is this for real?’
The times you’ve broken, the times that you mend
The times you hate me and the times that you bend

These times you’re healing
and when your heart breaks
The times that you feel like you’ve fallen from grace
The times you’re hurting
The times that you heal
The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal
In times of confusion and chaos and pain
I’m there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame
I’m there through your heartache
I’m there in the storm
My love, I will keep you by my power alone
I dont care where you’ve fallen, where you have been
I’ll never forsake you
My love never ends, it never ends”

~Times-Tenth Avenue North

This song, by Tenth Avenue North, gives me shivers every time I hear it. And I don’t know about you, but I could use some of that lovin’ myself. How great to know that we have access to it 24/7, whether we know it or not. Tap into, guys. It’s a beautiful, life-giving thing.

~C