Show up. Stick around.

I didn't want to show up.

I wanted to go home and sleep, but I had a commitment, so I mustered up energy I didn't think I had, and I went. I showed up. I lingered on the edges of the room, thawing out and warming up, remembering to smile and shaking hands with strangers who showed up too.

I saw him walk in, knew he looked familiar, but it took most of the night for me to place how I knew him. It wasn't until the crowds had thinned that I finally walked up and made an awkward I'm not creepy, I promise introduction.

We started chatting.

We kept talking.

We laughed.

We stuck around.

And somehow, three and a half hours went by.

At some point in there, we moved from standing in the middle of the bar to sitting at table, but we never ordered another round of drinks or had an awkward silence. The conversation flowed easily, I laughed often, was asked great questions and threw others in the mix too, and it was an unexpectedly fun and full evening.

I didn't want to show up.

I had bought the ticket weeks ago, when I saw a one-night, try-your-hand workshop for wheel throwing pottery had seats still available. I had always wanted to try throwing on the wheel, but had never wanted to commit to an expensive 8-week class, so this had seemed perfect.

But it was a rainy Friday night, and I didn't really want to go.

I wanted to go home and read books and wear sweats and drink a glass of wine as the rain fell outside my window.

But, I went. I showed up.

I made awkward small talk with the other people in the class (mostly couples, because of course) and watched the instructor's tutorial carefully, trying to remember every detail. When I sat at my own wheel and threw that wet ball of clay down, I realized I had no earthly idea what I was doing, and that this whole thing was going to be so much harder than she had made it look. I was flustered and frustrated and failing horribly at making anything remotely resembling a bowl (or a vase, or a mug, or literally ANYTHING useful...).

But I stuck around.

I kept coning and flattening that clay (terms I never knew before). I kept my foot steady on the pedal. I got messy. I messed up, and I tried again. I asked for help, and I let myself be taught.

In the end, I made three things. I'm still not quite sure what to call them, but in a few weeks, they'll be fired and glazed and I'll go pick up my finished products. I'm sure they won't be beautiful, but they'll be proof I showed up and stuck around. I'll have something to show for my bit of bravery.

I didn't want to show up.

I had called, made the appointment, filled out the paperwork, but I felt stick to my stomach and more anxious than ever. I sat in the waiting room, palms sweating, legs shaking, trying to just remember to breathe.

He came out and led me back to the corner room, where I sat on a blue couch and tried to remember to make eye contact, answering questions that made me dig deep, tears springing to the surface more easily than I had anticipated.

Week after week, I showed up.

I stuck around.

I came with all my frazzled nerves and brokenness, and I started breaking open and letting my realness be seen. I started wrapping words around my story. I went to the dark places, and I broke down the doors to let the light in, and I started to feel the healing happen, little by little.

There are so many days I don't want to show up.

There are mornings where my bed feels like a prison, where my brain feels like it's burdened by storm clouds, where everything feels heavy and I can't remember how to put my feet on solid ground.

There are evenings I can't leave the house. There are weekends I go without saying a single word to anyone else. There are days I move on autopilot, just going through the motions and forgetting how I got to work or got home at the end of the night.

There are whole afternoons I waste away because I just keep napping-- half to try to finally find the rest my body's craving, half to avoid the world.

But lately?

I've been choosing to show up. I've been (like Ellie Holcomb sings) using my fighting words to speak back to the lying voices in my head that tell me I can't do it, I won't make it, I shouldn't try. I've been swinging my feet out from under the covers and planting them firmly on the ground, even if my eyes aren't quite open and everything in me just wants to keep sleeping. 

I've been starting with small changes, tiny tweaks, and I'm seeing them start to snowball into bigger things, better things, healthier things.

I'm learning the beauty of roots. Of going down deeply. Of stretching wide. Of feeding myself with what is nutritious, both for my body and for my soul.

I'm learning the strength required to keep being present and awake and here.

I'm learning the bravery it takes to show up fully and open up to the world.

I'm learning the humility that comes when you try, but you fail, and you have to pick up the pieces.

I'm learning the honesty necessary for true, abundant living.

I'm learning to say "no, thank you" and also "yes, please" and "will you help me" and "thank you for doing that."

I'm learning to pray for the people who frustrate me, to write them little love notes when I'm tempted to instead be bothered by things they've done.

I'm learning to risk, but to guard my heart, to take chances, but to think things through, to chase whimsy, but to be wise as well.

I'm learning to use my words and not think others can read my mind.

I'm learning.

I'm learning to show up.

I'm learning to stick around.

I'm learning how to do this thing called living, little by little, better and truer and freer day by day.