I should probably start with a list of what HASN’T changed for me since January 2018. That list would be a lot shorter.
Since January 2018 I’ve moved four times, gotten engaged and married, started (and ended) my career as a nanny, and am now, ever so feebly, beginning a new work as a freelance writer.
A couple weeks after ending my nanny career, I picked up a 20 hr/wk barista job. I hoped this would bring structure to my writing weeks in addition to being an outlet for my ever-increasingly extroverted heart.
That second goal was achieved abundantly. I have about a dozen new best friends in the warm, coffee-filled space that is Two Mile Coffee Bar located in the 95th Street Metra Station (come visit me and drink coffee, yayyyy!). However, that first goal of structure for my weeks has been a *S T R U G G L E.*
While this barista job is delightful, it was an addition to All The Completely New Things I’ve Started This Past 18 Months. It wasn’t connected to my old writing routines or my inspirational spaces. It was providing structure but not a structure I was familiar with. How do I find connection within myself when the very thing I’m feeling disconnected from IS myself? This question was hurting my brain so I avoided it. I did a lot of Beach Bumming and Netflix Bingeing. Still, (not surprisingly) nothing.
Then one day about two weeks ago when I was particularly stressed about the disconnection I’ve been feeling, I went out on a long(ish) run. Exactly two miles into that run I was stopped in my *actual* running tracks as the Chicago skyline came into view. In all my hours of training for the Chicago marathon last year, I saw an awful lot of this skyline. It was a familiar, nostalgic sight and as I stopped to take a picture of it, I felt my anxious heart ground itself just a bit. A sense of calm washed over me as I realized that in all the Very Strange Newness in life some things remain Blessedly The Same.
Thus began my quest to discover more of those Blessedly The Same spaces. I began a list in my phone to add to every time I experienced that sense of grounding. I’m sure there’s a therapist term for this but for now I’ll call it:
Blessedly The Same: Things I Love For The Nostalgia Factor That Are Helping Me Reconnect To Myself
- Hotel or gas station coffee in all its nasty, nostalgic glory
- When Adam and my cars are parked next to each other on the street because it feels so randomly meant to be – like us
- FRIENDS or The Office theme songs (blessed college memories)
- Dutch Blitz & McDonalds Carmel Frappes that my sister and I spent an entire happy, relaxed, connected summer partaking in
- The Chicago Skyline (as previously mentioned)
- The warmth on my hands that quickly spreads to my heart while holding a fresh cup of coffee (are we seeing a theme yet?)
- Grocery shopping at Aldi
- Sitting in my bed in the morning with my journal, bible, and coffee – a routine I started when I was 16 years old. I’d like to give a huge *THANK YOU SHOUT OUT* to my parents who encouraged, modeled, and joined me in early morning devotional spaces in my teen years. This space helped me connect to myself then and it’s still helping me find my way to my truest identity in Christ now.
Instead of continuing to add new things to my life, I’ve gone back to some good ole things. As I write this, I am sitting at my own kitchen table. I moved here from my bed where I was sitting for a while with Jesus and my journal. I’ve had two cups of coffee, I’m still in my pj’s, and there is some very nostalgic worship music playing in the background. This is me.
I am a word girl but sometimes words don’t cut it. Sometimes we need help finding our way back to the words through familiar spaces, some things that are Blessedly The Same.
Next time I’m feeling anxious and disconnected I’ll reference my little iPhone list: maybe I’ll go for a run to check out the skyline, maybe I’ll open space for Jesus while sitting cross legged in my bed, maybe I’ll go snag some nasty gas station coffee, or maybe I’ll walk outside to see if Adam’s car is parked near mine. ITS THE LITTLE THINGS, OK GUYS.
What random things are nostalgic for you? What have you found to be grounding as you move into a new season? Seriously, I wanna know. Hit “reply” to this email and your words will come straight back to me. I promise I’ll reply and you will most likely make my entire day for a long time to come.
Talk soon, Sara