First We Say Goodbye {On Feeling Untethered}

by Andrea Kolber


In the last 15 years, I have moved at least ten times. Each move caused me to feel a bit untethered—as though the world wouldn’t know me anymore once I left my address. Almost like the physical place is why people knew me at all, and once I left it, my permanence in the world would be gone and my place in it erased.

There were the times in college when moving felt as simple as throwing my stuff in a bag, grabbing my journal, books, and a few pictures. I sensed the whole world was available to me, and it felt as ripe as a strawberry ready to pick. In those days, I mostly tried to ignore the gaping hole of change and would try to only embrace what lie ahead.

There were the times after college when my heart had been broken; in a way that felt irreparable, and I moved with a sense of hope, but also the weight of sorrow and grief. I didn’t know what was ahead, but I knew—with certainty—it would be better than where I was currently. By the grace of God, something in me pushed and moved into this truth, and convinced my unadventurous side to move thousands of miles from nearly all the people I knew.

And then once I lived in Denver, after I met my husband, moves didn’t feel quite so scary—until we moved into the house on Flower. Then, I felt excited but also overwhelmed. The house was built in 1954, but had been remodeled sometime in the early 70’s. As we surveyed the market at the time, we knew this house had mounds of potential. But I was also too wary to put my purse on the floor the first time we looked around.

It was that bad.

The green brick was intense. The yard was an almost half an acre jungle. The paneling made me dizzy—and the carpeting in the bathroom nearly made me cry.

Actually, it did make me cry.  

We were also in the midst of parenting a fiery 11 month old, B was switching jobs, I was building my private practice and we were very, very tired.

Tia (11 months) and I while project managing our house (also, notice the Tiki bar in the back corner!) 

Tia (11 months) and I while project managing our house (also, notice the Tiki bar in the back corner!) 

So for all those reasons, it seemed like a good time to take on a major housing project, and the house on Flower became our other baby.

**

As we gained footing with our remodel and house eventually became livable, I was faced with the root reason I felt terrified. It wasn’t so much the house, as I had thought (although that would continue to be it’s own thing!), it was having to start over again in a new address—but this time as a mom.

I had to find friends. I had to find mom friends. I had to figure out what to do with my child on the short, dark winter days and the hot, winding summer days too. I had to figure out how to stay calm when the day seemed like it would never end and I all I wanted was to take a nap or run away.

**

The long and short of it is I did do those things. God grew me in remarkable ways as I learned to mother. It was hard and awkward, but I made dear friends. B and I learned our rhythm again as a couple. I began to find my people. I learned how to lean in (usually!), even when I felt like it was impossible.

One of my favorite places in our house is to watch the sunset from our kitchen sink. 

One of my favorite places in our house is to watch the sunset from our kitchen sink. 

And this is why, as we pack up our house on Flower, I am feeling a bit untethered again. This house represents a season that was beautiful, good, hard, bittersweet, and fleeting. My baby learned to walk here. We grieved infertility and a miscarriage here. I took a chance on writing here. I have soothed hundreds of tantrums here. I have made friends here. I have said goodbye here. I have welcomed our rainbow baby here.

We have lived here.

I feel certain we will feel rooted once again, and I am excited and hopeful for our coming change. But first, it feels right to say: thanks for the memories Flower Street.


Small: An Update on my #OneWord365

by Andrea Kolber


Back in January, when my eyes were still bleary from sleepless nights with my newborn, I chose a word for the year. It felt ambitious to pick one at all, frankly. I felt infinitely grateful for the new life in front of me, but also insanely tired and even taking out the trash felt like too much.

And so the word that came to me, after prayer and waiting, was this: small.

Now here I am, five months into 2017, and small feels like God’s grace to me in this season. I’ve learned much about myself recently. I’ve learned how hard it can be to respect my own boundaries; how even when I say I’ll give myself permission to do less, I still struggle under the weight of my own expectations. I’ve learned how humbling it is for me to admit how weak I truly am. Not because I’m incapable, but because some seasons require us to admit our frailty so we can grow stronger.

And so this word continues to feel like a gift to me because I am most naturally a big picture person. I often get caught up in the enormity of a dream or a hope and it can either wash me away or cause me to feel tremendous pressure. This journey toward accepting that I am finite and small is a good one because it feels like a continual grounding of my soul. It serves to root me in truth and reality and in the process I remember, again, that while God made me capable and gifted in some things, I am also limited; I need him and others deeply. 

**

Often times in therapy or with any change, it seems it follows a framework. Generally, it goes like this:

First, the acceptance of reality as it stands.

Second, gaining resources to support a person in the change.

Third, utilizing the resources so a person can integrate their new way of being into reality and allow their brain to continue to re-wire.

And finally, repeat the steps again and again as we work toward change.

Any of these steps can take days, months, years, or even decades. And so while it seems simple, it’s not. I bring this up though, because in my own process of honoring the word small, I see myself beginning to utilize the resources in my life to actually love my smallness.

Instead of being angry I can’t do more, it’s beginning to feel a bit like a launching pad so I can focus on the details that are important, but I frequently pass over in my haste to accomplish what feels big. I’ve been trying different methods to help myself stay with the small and some of them have been fantastically helpful while others have been an utter failure (Yay, Sacred Ordinary Days planner, boo to post it notes everywhere!) The piece that feels like success however, is being willing to try it differently; to keep moving toward growth.

So today, I’m focusing on practicing what I preach--attempting to set about a short list that needs accomplishing; doing humble but important work in the midst of my ordinary life; focusing on the next right thing.

**

I’d love to hear from you. Did you pick a word for 2017? How’s it going so far? 


Longing for Abundant Life {Featured on the Redbud Post}

by Andrea Kolber


May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Redbud Writers Guild is focusing their articles on this subject. If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know it's my desire to educate and promote healing through the modalities of writing and psychotherapy. It's my honor to share some of my story on the Redbud Post today. If you or someone you know is struggling, I encourage you to connect with a counselor or a crisis resource. At the end of this article, I have listed some crisis resources for your use. 

All the best, 

Aundi


“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV).

If I could go back and give anything to my tender adolescent self, it would be an excellent counselor. Unless, of course, I could have healed my family—that would be my first choice. It may sound odd to some but growing up in a family plagued with addiction, trauma, and mental health issues, one of the resources I needed most was someone whose training allowed them to understand how significant dysfunction affects people. And maybe, even more, someone who could provide me with the tools to validate my experience in the middle of what felt like madness.

But lacking this, I shifted and adapted to our unhealthy family system. I became over responsible for dealing with the constant chaos in our house. I became rigid and perfectionistic to ensure success, believing that if I didn’t look after myself, I might fall through the cracks. I created a façade to show the outside world that I was strong and independent—all the while developing severe anxiety, a need to be noticed, and adopting a wounded view of the world and myself.

Photo: Sharon Christina via Unsplash 

Photo: Sharon Christina via Unsplash 

Graciously, faith was also knit into my family in my childhood, and it was a source of hope and joy for all of us. I experienced Jesus at a young age in the midst of my family turmoil, and I am deeply grateful for God’s presence in my life. And yet, he chose not to heal my family or myself in an instant; and believe me, I asked.

I'd love for you to keep reading and join me over at the Redbud Post (while you're there check out the other wonderful posts too!) 


Crisis Resources:
If this is an emergency or if you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911). The hotlines below are 24 hours and are confidential.

I Thought I Was Brave {Learning to Redefine Courage}

by Andrea Kolber


When I was six years old, I entered a talent show and told them I had a dance routine to perform (I didn’t), and I went up on stage and made it up as I went. People told me it was good. I thought I was brave.

image via Unsplash

image via Unsplash

When I was in college, I thought I wanted to attend law school, become a social justice lawyer, and save the world (I didn’t). I thought for sure that was brave.

All through my childhood, I fantasized about the amazing things I would do with my life.

I would be important!

I would save the world!

I would be brave!

I used to think bravery meant performing a big, fantastic act. I thought if I could do something noteworthy, something extraordinary; something that would definitely help another, that would be brave.

But in this season of my life, I find I was wrong. I don’t want to discredit the way bravery can, certainly, include situations where we put ourselves in danger, or feel tremendous fear, or use extraordinary strength.

Yet, I see now bravery is often about doing the small act of service or obedience right in front of me. It is frequently presented as the thing God is gently or not so gently asking of us, and our faithful leaning into that calling.

I see now, courage is almost always small, first; usually, it's woven into our decision to live our ordinary lives, even when they're hard.  

And this holds true in my life now, too. These days, instead of doing what I perceive to be more significant—using my masters degree, running my counseling business, creating volumes of writing—I am sitting at the computer typing with one hand, whilst rocking a baby and wiping the face of my five year old. My eyes are tired as I was up through the night with my youngest and I have soothed and shushed that beautiful baby more times than I can count in the last few months. For most, this would not be viewed as brave or courageous.

But may I share with you a vulnerable thing?

This is extremely brave for me; choosing to step back from my established career for a season was a terrifying decision. The reason it’s scary, is hidden in a remaining fear that occasionally creeps in: maybe I’m not valuable and worthy. Maybe everything that I believe about myself; that I was created in God’s image and that my life is redeemed in Jesus and I don’t need to strive any longer—is wrong.

Maybe, I do, indeed, need to earn my value.

Maybe, I need to keep hustling to prove I’m loveable.

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

Even as the heartbeat of why I write is about living as the beloved and understanding my value is hidden in Jesus— I occasionally circle back to wondering if it’s ever been true.

Do you know the feeling?

I still wrestle with the idea that my life would matter less if I don’t do something appearing noteworthy, rather than just the ordinary. I share this with you because it’s okay to be unfinished, y’all. Years ago, I would have said if I’m doubting this then none of it was true. Or, I’m a failure.

But instead, I’ve learned this is exactly what courage means, to keep going even in the discomfort and the tension. I’m trusting again, that all my experiential learning and healing was real; that I don’t have to hustle for my worthiness. I’m believing even if no one sees what I do for my kids or the words I write, if God has called me to it, living into that calling is brave.

And so, this is my act of courage for now: listening and acknowledging, again, that my value does not lie in the perception of what I do, but rather if I am called to it. My brave act for now is doing the small and important work of obedience to the right now call on my life: parenting, living whole and writing.

Reader, I don't know what ordinary hard things you are doing in your life today--but I pray you have the courage to keep going. 

"Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take” (Joshua 1:9 MSG).

**

What does brave look like for you today?