As a reader pointed out, perhaps it isn’t entirely fair to ask you to tell me your story, to beg you to see how important you and your story are, without embracing a little vulnerability myself and telling parts of my own story. I say “parts” only because some of the questions I asked last week could be blog posts in and of themselves, and they may well develop into those someday, but for now I will offer up a look at some of the things and experiences that help make me…me.
My favorite color is purple. All shades, but I’m especially fond of lavender. Why? No clue. It just is, and I love that reality. There was a time in my life when I would have told you my favorite color was white because it symbolized purity and innocence. At least, that seemed like a good church girl answer, a right answer, and Lord knows that I was always looking for the right answer – even to questions that didn’t – shouldn’t – have a right answer. Someone told me once that their favorite color was iridescent, and I distinctly recall feeling this overwhelming sense of shame at not having come up with that one first, in spite of the fact that one shouldn’t have to “come up with” their favorite color in the first place. Being a people pleaser has been part of my personality for as long as I can remember; it’s practically written into my DNA, but when you’re looking for the “correct” favorite color and a suitably good explanation to match, something is wrong. Years later, my favorite color is unapologetically, inexplicably purple, and I’m quite happy with that.
I don’t have any scars to remind me of childhood misadventures. My heels are covered in scars from the blood gas tests done on me as an infant born three months too early. I have burn marks on my arms from handling pizza pans still hot from the family’s pizza oven. There’s a fading scar by my right elbow from the night at the Weapons School when we were all too tired and too giggly and I fell off my ever-present stepstool and sliced my arm open on the wooden edge of a 3D map. And I have four significant scars from biopsies, as cancer is a very real threat in my family. Even without childhood misadventures, my scars can tell you quite a story in and of themselves.
I don’t have a “thing I do” when I drive through a yellow light, but I used to kiss my fingers and then tap the dashboard twice and the windshield once. It was a college thing, I think.
I drink my coffee the way my mom drinks her coffee: two sugars and a dollop of flavored creamer. Coffee is a special thing with my mom and me. Sitting down and chatting over a cup of coffee is a tradition we’ve had for years now, even across the miles.
Growing up, I went through the gamut of scientist phases – I was going to be an astronomer, or a paleontologist, or an archaeologist. I even majored in archaeology at one point, after I decided that I didn’t have the stuff to be an investigative journalist like Woodward and Bernstein. I then realized that archaeology was a lot more than doing digs, so I moved on to majoring in Communication. My dream job at the time would have been to become a communications coach, teaching business people how to effectively communicate their ideas – especially in front of large groups. During my last couple of years of college, I was dead-set on going on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and doing campus ministry; God clearly had other plans, and I ended up enlisting in the Air Force. 12 years later, I have a commission, completed Weapons School (with a cool scar), and I’m in a career I love.
While I watch a variety of TV shows, my favorite is Supernatural. I discovered this long-running show this summer, and I binge-watched 12 seasons in my spare time. I love the show because very rarely is anyone all good or all bad; these are people with broken pasts, broken hearts, and broken lives trying to make the world a better place than they found it. That’s probably a pretty good description of any of us, and I love that they’ve taken a show that mirrors many of the struggles and drama faced in the real world and managed to couch it in a supernatural setting. The actors themselves are phenomenal, but also down-to-earth and out to make the world a better place too. The fandom – or the Supernatural Family / #SPNFamily – raised more than $300,000 in a matter of days for Hurricane Harvey relief through a CrowdRise fund set up by Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins’ Random Acts organization has been finding real, solid, meaningful ways to help and change the world for years now. Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting (#AKF) campaign really opened doors to depression and suicide awareness, and I’ve talked to more than one person who has said that his openness about the struggle is why they are still here today. I love that a single show with some amazing people can have a ripple effect with a global impact for good. Don’t we all hope for a legacy like that?
The movie that I loved that I’ve only seen once and will never watch again because I cried all the tears was P.S. I Love You. I am a profoundly hopeless romantic, and that movie did me in from the moment it started.
I like pineapple on my pizza if the pizza is Hawaiian. The flavors meld so well.
The first concert I went to was Jars of Clay. I spent the entire evening waiting for them to play Flood, and it was awesome.
I’m divorced, but I have a little girl, and she is my entire freaking world. My daughter tends to spark my creativity in new and exciting ways, so you’ll probably read more about her in the future (with her permission, of course).
For years, I have painted myself into a very analytic corner. Always good at academics and very logical, I would wistfully look at my creative friends and wish that I could be more like them. For some reason, I associated free-spiritedness with creativity and assumed that they were mutually inclusive. Only in the last few months have I begun to embrace the reality that I am a creative as well. I love to write – can’t you tell? I’ve been singing for years, and making music really makes me happy. I was a theater kid in high school, and while I don’t act anymore, I am ridiculously excited for my friends who are pursuing that art form…because I get it. Making something where there was nothing before, or where there were just words or notes or colors, that sets my soul on fire.
Something else that sets my soul on fire is advocating for mental health. Although I just wrote this blog entry, and it has nothing to do with mental health – and it has everything to do with mental health. As someone who has struggled in silence for years, I have found my voice and my will to fight for myself and others as we walk forward in this. Depression is something I’ve known every single day for as long as I can remember; it is truly a thread interwoven in the fabric of my life. But it isn’t my entire story. It may have shaped part of my story, and experiencing it may have been the spark that set fire to this passion of mine, but I am so much more. So are you.
So there you have it – part of my story. There’s certainly more to follow, and as this blog continues, the story will continue to be written. The point is that we have stories, and they aren’t defined by our struggles. The fact that I’m still here writing, and the fact that you’re still here reading means that hope is the other thread that’s been making its way through the words, through the painful parts, through the fall-down-laughing hilarity. Because hope is as real as any of it, and hope is my story.