Last weekend Chris surprised me with a trip to Rosemary Beach for my 30th birthday. Rosemary immediately makes my shoulders drop - the kind of relaxation that comes from a familiar, slow place that is full of only joy and ease. As soon as we hit those Alabama backroads and wound our way through Eufala I started smiling like I had a hanger in my mouth. The Panhandle is full of so many memories for our family and I was thrilled to create new ones with Chris.
This weekend, we're headed to New York for my cousin's wedding. It's going to be a big jump from 94-degree Florida to Western New York and we're so excited. Everyone keeps telling us to bring layers to bundle, which is all fallish and exciting because Atlanta is still smoking hot. I keep putting on fall clothes in the morning, only to be reminded by 2 p.m. that the crisp cool air isn't here to stay just yet.
We're at that funny point in the year where you still want an iced coffee and sandals, but booties and a hot latte sound kind of amazing, too. I saw a yellow leaf the other day and plucked it right from the tree. A yellow leaf, already!? You go-getter tree!, I thought as I did a little summerfall dance.
I'm a big time labeler of things - constantly trying to put a name to my feelings and experiences. We live in a dichotomous society that yearns for things to be either black or white. It's summer or fall. It's a failure or success. It's good or bad.
Lately I've been working on leaving more opportunity for grey areas in my life. Things can be a little good and a little bad. Some things are going well, others are not. It's neither this nor that, it is a little bit of both.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to have a plan, to understand exactly how we feel about it and to be able to condense it down to 140 characters and an Instagram post.
What if we stopped trying to explain everything? What if we allowed ourselves to operate in a little bit of unknown? What if we told the truth a little more, when we feel pressed to give an answer and a plan? What if we simply said: I don't know.
I don't know how I'm going to make this dream of mine work
I don't know why I am not married yet
I don't know when I will buy a house
I don't know where I want my career to go
I don't know when we'll have kids
I don't know where we'll live next
I don't know how I feel
I don't know.
What if we stopped trying to be buttoned up all the time and told the truth a little bit more?
A friend of mine took a few months off of work last year while trying to decide what direction he wanted to take his career. He recently told me that, when he'd meet people and they'd inevitably ask right away: what do you do? He started saying: I'm unemployed. He said people were completely caught off guard by his response, unsure if they should be apologetic or celebratory. Instead of asking something simple in response, they'd back out of the conversation, afraid of offending him.
Unemployment is a sensitive topic, which he understood. But, without him being able to deliver an elevator pitch about his career and who he is in two quick sentences, people didn't know how to continue the conversation.
People were so afraid of the unknown that they moved away immediately, as if the grey area in his life could be contagious.
This summerfall season is reminding me that sometimes the in between is the best place to be. It forces us to trust that we are not in control. It reminds us that there is room for growth in the unknown and deep-hearty change in the grey area.