return to austin
this past weekend was my first return to austin since our move six months ago. i originally booked my ticket back in mid august right before my month long resurgence of anxiety/depression/insomnia. when that hit, i immediately wanted to cancel my trip because i didn't think i could handle it. i booked the trip earlier in the summer when i was missing austin and my friends there. i was hoping to visit when the heat was dying down and have that to look forward to as i was beginning to make my new home in michigan. at one point, the flight times got changed and i thought that was my opportunity to cancel for a full refund. however, that didn't work out and so i kept my trip. i am so glad. it really came at the perfect time.
i hadn't thought about the fact that i was going to be flying two days after election day. actually i was a bit nervous about that when i realized this as things have been so charged in our country leading up to november 8. i found myself veering in a different direction politically than i have in the past. it was actually nice to be around some like-minded austin peeps, especially when previously i didn't see eye to eye politically with some of them. the only thing i'll say about the election is that i found myself experiencing some fear when i heard the final result. mostly because i am concerned about racial tensions escalating in our country, and what that means for our future and for the climate my daughter will grow up in. but i reminded myself that ultimately god is sovereign. that i am only called to do my part in his plan. so i will continue to promote racial reconciliation within my little sphere of influence, and do what i can. because in the end that's all i can do. and if we could all just do our little part, i think we'd see a lot more change than can be brought about by a political party taking office.
so the weather was perfect. 50s-70s. we enjoyed meals outside, play time with friends, walks around some of our favorite spots. i was refreshed talking with friends from my church and work circles. it felt so strange to be back. when we were driving up 35 right after we arrived to head to our first visit, i found myself looking at the exit signs and thinking about how i used to drive this route every weekday. this could still be our lives if we had stayed. i spent time with some of my favorite people, ate amazing food, even got to hit up the east austin art tour while we were there and i got to see my favorite artist. we walked along the river. sat on the capitol lawn and soaked in the beautiful day.
at times i asked myself "why did we leave?!" which made me glad i didn't visit before the six month mark. it would have been too soon. i love austin and i always will. i love the friends we made there. i love our old neighborhood. i loved my job, my coworkers, my students. austin will always stay deep in my heart. i am so thankful for our four years there. they were not easy years, but they were good. and i'm thankful that we have friendships during our time in austin that will last a lifetime, much like some of the friendships we made during our time in massachusetts while david was in seminary.
i had anticipated bina not sleeping well while we were in austin, and that was pretty much the case save one night (during which i was up late for girls night, of course). surviving despite lack of sleep was a major victory for me though. bina was up an hour or more each night and i would take her into bed with me. one night she fell out. oops. bad mom. but she lived so it's all good. no bumps or bruises that i could see. in the past when she has been up for hours at night i have trouble going back to sleep, i get anxious, i get angry. i knew it would be hard too because i was by myself without david to keep me sane. i had prayed for this trip and many of my friends were praying as well. and even though the sleep was not easy, i kept calm. i didn't become anxious or angry. i did drink coffee. i was tired. i did come back home totally exhausted. but it was so worth it. i enjoyed such sweet time with friends, and i proved to myself that i can do this. i'm building my confidence. it may not be easy, but i can do it. i'm so thankful that god sustained me through this trying time of anxiety/depression/insomnia, brought me to the other side, and has given me opportunities to grow in faith in myself. we are getting somewhere.
when we returned home after a very early morning flight, all i wanted to do was work on our christmas card. we had family photos taken several weeks back. they turned out so so good. i had a really hard time picking one photo for the card because i pretty much love them all. these are my favorites of bina.
i love my little family so very much. i loved the setting of the photos because it reminded me of the austin setting we had the last two years, along the trails in wells branch. this year we were in the forest of bicentennial park. it was perfect.
in other news, i've been trying to finish brene brown's book daring greatly. i have a backlog of books i bought and need to read. but i started watching switched at birth and now i'm hooked and so my free time often is filled watching an episode of that instead of reading. i'm trying to get back on the reading train as i know that is more enriching for my soul. but boy do i love that show... anyways. i reached the chapter on wholehearted parenting and it is rocking my world.
brene writes "in terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the 'never enough' culture, the question isn't so much 'are you parenting the right way?' as it is: 'are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?'" this both comforted and terrified me. ha. "parenting is a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self doubt when it comes to raising our children." brene calls parenting "by far [her] boldest and most daring adventure." that it is.
i've been challenged to examine my own life and my own sense of worthiness, as that is what my daughter will learn from me. i want bina to have a healthy body image. so when i find faults with my own body, what am i teaching her? my job as a parent is to "teach and model shame resilience" and to do that i need to be able to talk with bina about shame and how it rears its ugly head. i need to be willing to admit when i make mistakes, and not beat myself up incessantly. according to brene, bina can only have as much shame resilience as i do. so if david and i want to raise healthy children, we need to be healthy ourselves. it starts with me. where am i finding my worth? how do i feel about myself and others in relation to myself? am i cutting others down because i am insecure? am i afraid to step out in faith for fear of failure? whose opinion of me really matters? all this needs to be rooted in my faith in jesus, the creator and redeemer of all things. i'm challenged in my role as a parent to make sure my life is right before god. to make sure i am making time to be in the word and be in his presence. because if i'm not plugged into the source, i'm dying. i cannot do this on my own. my worth is in jesus. and that needs to transform my life inside and out.
may i learn and grow and not be afraid to dare greatly. may i dare greatly in my parenting. may bina see the life david and i have led and the zig-zagging journey we have been on and know that things aren't always easy. they aren't always clear. but we can step out and admit when we have failed, pick ourselves up, and keep trying. because beautiful things come from broken people. broken people who are willing to recognize their own brokenness, extend grace to themselves and others, and glorify god in the messy process of it all.
snot buckets unite. we will do this thing called life. together. and i'm so thankful for the places we've lived and the people we've befriended that make up our messy, beautiful life.