I Believe It To Be Worth It

Musings

I do a lot of stupid stuff. Really I do.  I once bought $160 worth of vitamins per my nutritionist’s instruction and then proceeded to only ever take the vitamins when I thought I was getting sick. I recently just threw out about $155 worth of expired vitamins.

A few years back I was somehow convinced to become a Mary Kay consultant when all I wear is cheap mascara and all I wash my face with is bar soap. First I spent some $236 on the princess package of makeup and face care. Then I paid another $130 in startup kits, which then sat in my basement, for, well forever. My sisters got a lot of Mary Kay as gifts that year. I never once hosted a Mary Kay party and was therefore never gifted with a pink Cadillac.

I have cut my own bangs multiple times, and multiple times it has resulted in my looking like Ringo Starr, circa, well whenever he sort of looked like a prince boy.

I continually move to new places with anywhere from $3-$73 in my bank account and a bunch of board games, books, lanterns and ceramic whales and horses strewn about in my backseat.

And I always give my heart very freely, even if it has recently been crushed like a Valium that’s about to be snorted.

Which brings me to today. I am not bummed about my absence of a Pink Caddy, nor the look of my bangs which I just cut this morning and look A-okay, very non prince boy, and somewhat chic. I will admit I am a little bummed about the wasted vitamins as I have a slight tickle in my throat but I suppose I will survive.

But about the move and the breakup. Here is where I am at there:

Blissful.

Yeah I said it, blissful. I know, bliss, and anywhere in the vicinity of bliss were not my sentiments just a few short weeks ago. I was much like an unraveled piece of yarn being demolished by a rambunctious kitten.

But I tried this new thing I had never tried before. I threw up my hands in utter exasperation and said, “you take over, God!” I had said it a few times before, but as things seemed to continually throw me for a loop in a most disconcerting way, I figured I was still fixating on having all the control. I wanted all the control but with God being nice to me in the mix.

But it didn’t seem like it was going to work out that way. I am big on life lessons and if this was one of them, it was becoming abundantly clear to me that the lesson was one about trust. And I was battling a huge lack of it.

I finally decided to give it a whirl.

It’s not to say I hadn’t had practice trusting God before with the wild whims of my life. All I had ever done was new, bold, spontaneous things with God being my only safety net. And that is perhaps what led me to flippantly jet on back to the West with no real game plan. But when things started to go awry, I began to fret. I wondered if I had gotten too cocky with how many times God seemed to get me out of binds.

Maybe this time He was going to teach me to be a better planner and that’s why things were feeling so grim. In fact one of my favorite personal trainers during The Biggest Loser, once asked me my game plan, as the show was wrapping up and I was inching toward the wilds again. I beamed and said, “I am a vagabond gypsy…” waving my hands like that was explanation enough. He responded straight-face and deadpan, “that’s just a fancy name you gave yourself for being a poor planner.”

At the time I found it hysterical, but I began to wonder if indeed the time had come for some sort of reckoning with my gypsy soul?

Before I could decided if God actually wanted to teach me a lesson about being a better planner, I decided to let it all go. The lack of job, and money and boyfriend and wholeness of my heart, and now vitamin supply should I come down with a cold.

I prayed: hey God, I trust you. I do. So if this is a big fat failure lesson… got it. I will recover. If I don’t get a job at a dude ranch the second I want it, or am not hobnobbing with ranchers in the foreseeable future, I believe you will help get me there eventually, and you know what’s best for me. You timing is right on all things and I trust your will.”

That phrase: God’s timing is perfect, has always brought me both comfort and dismay. On one hand it has given me ample hope that He is working things out in my favor. On the other, more baby brat hand (which I have a tendency for from time to time) I get a little cheesed when things aren’t on my timetable.

But the whole God’s will thing was definitely something new to me. I had heard this phrase a ton of times before too, and always kind of took it with a grain of salt. I thought, well, I have free will, and God knows what I want so if I am going after it, He must support me, because He loves me. So we’re all good. 

I had never considered to do what I was doing in life, meaning try as I always had to manifest my goals and desires, but to also not be disappointed if those things didn’t manifest right away or in the way I expected. And I began to see that perhaps that’s where God’s will came into play.

So I gave this new experiment a whirl. I put myself out there with jobs, while maintaining hopefulness and gladness in my circumstances, attempting to let go of my worry. When a job interview that I had sort of counted on to lead to a job didn’t pan out right away, I let it go and said it wasn’t meant for me. Not God’s will. When a babysitting job landed in my lap right when I was about to run out of money, I thought, well, isn’t God’s timing perfect indeed. When I got my car tremendously stuck in a snowy ditch one day when I had an interview and began to panic as to what to do, some gent just came along, hooked my vehicle up to his truck and pulled me out. No questions asked. He saw I was in trouble and helped me. Meaning, God saw I was in trouble and sent him to help me.

And it went this way, back and forth in a beautiful ebb and flow of my trust and gladness in God and the way He was working on my life for me and not against me.

And this is when I started to see different lessons altogether.

Maybe God didn’t want to teach me a lesson about being a better planner, like some rigid school marm about to slap me in the corner with the dunce cap because I was a letdown. No, I suddenly didn’t think that was it at all. God made me! He didn’t mess up when He crafted me into a free spirit. I mean I don’t profess to know everything about God, but I suspect being the creator of the universe and all, he wouldn’t want to undo his handiwork. Unless it was about Ohio, because I mean Ohio… need I say more.

I’m teasing… Sorta.

No. I think this was a lesson on my willingness—in the midst of what felt like some serious strife—to trust that God had a handle on it.

And when I began to do that, which meant at the same time giving up my stronghold on worry, I began to feel lighter. I handled things not going my way with aplomb. And when I started to feel fretful, I asked God for Grace and He gave it to me.

And that brought me to yesterday. A day in which I felt downright jubilant with the circumstances swirling around me. Some pleasant things were happening in the way of jobs and epiphanies (and I cannot reveal too much as I am a firm believer in the jinx) and sunsets and Trader Joe’s and finding my way back.

You know what one of my favorite God quotes is: God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

And while there a lot of nice things to be said about God and His ways, sometimes words don’t cut it. Like this quote for instance which has always brought me great comfort:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Initially post breakup, this brought me no comfort. In fact it kind of irritated me. Hope and a future, my arse, I thought. I had hoped to have a future with the cowboy and that ended rather dismally.

All that aside, though, my little experiment had worked. Because what was interesting about yesterday wasn’t just circumstances aligning in my favor, a purple and orange mountain sunset and yummies from my favorite grocery store, it was the epiphany I had about the cowboy. And my future and my hope.

Suddenly I felt very sure of what God was doing in my life. I no longer suspected Him of foul play, or mucking up my life, or withholding love from me. Contrarily I felt entirely certain He knew what He was doing. And if steering me off-path from love, meant steering me back to the path that included mountains and ranching and horses and wildness and writing, then maybe He was onto something in the vicinity of love after all. Just a different kind.

I have never been secretive about how much I love and admire God. Or adventure. Or the mountains of the West. Or my writing. And yeah, I get those kind of loves can’t spoon me or kiss me real proper, but they do count. So if God redirecting my course meant some muck and resistance at first but ultimately led to my trusting Him—for real this time—and the haphazard course of my life, then I believe it to be worth it.

All of it.

I’m Not a Country Song

Musings

I have often wondered why my parents weren’t lighthouse keepers in Maine. Not because either of my parents have expressed an interest in being or becoming a lighthouse keeper. The fixation on lighthouses and Maine are in fact both preferences I lean to. But it’s simply that my family is an unusual and creative bunch who all seem to have other worldly inclinations. Almost all my siblings mirror my love of travel and adventure and hopeful possibility.

So it seems to me of all the places my parents could have settled, the logical fit would’ve been somewhere epic and worthy of an epic backdrop to accompany our family’s grandiose dreams. But my parents chose Fowlerville, MI: a flat, farming community with a population of less than 3,000. And I won’t bemoan Fowlerville here as that’s not my job and I wouldn’t want to for anyone who truly enjoys Fowlerville. However, I will say I have never related to this place much. Furthermore it has never really felt like my home. Or at least the home of my heart.

Yes, my physical home resides here and these four walls bring me joy because within them are every memory from my youth and my family. But if ever I felt I was coming home, that place has always been and always will be Marquette, MI, or really as soon as I cross the Mackinac Bridge into the Upper Peninsula. Sure it isn’t the place that raised me, but it is the place that I can feel in my veins when I’m away from it and when I am there I always feel I’m where I belong. I was explaining this to my friend Meg yesterday as I feel badly that I don’t have more of an attachment to the place I was raised.

“I don’t know why I can’t relate to this place. I think I am missing something in my DNA that makes me fond of the place that raised me. And it upsets me, because I want to. I just can’t. I mean all the country songs are always going on about the place that raised them and how proud they are. And I don’t have that.”

“Because you’re not a country song,” Meg pointed out matter-of-factly.

My eyes lit up like that explained everything. I am not a country song! Of course I’m not. That’s it. I thought it was beautiful and succinct. And it relieved me to have an explanation of sorts to help me understand my compulsion to leave this place once and for all and never look back. The thing is lately I have felt like a displaced person and it has been unsettling to a certain extent. I had been staying with my parents for awhile and then I was staying at my cousins for a spell. And then with the constant travel I do whether it be to Chicago, the Yoop, Florida, wherever I fancy or get invited to, my car became a sort of collect all for the in-between.

And that isn’t the part that bothers me at all. In fact it is specifically why I bought this SUV, for it’s roomy interior and ability to easily be converted into a sleeping space. It is that nowhere in particular feels like my home right now. I am growing up (begrudgingly I will admit) and finding a place of my own feels very important to me. I just am not sure where exactly that place is, yet I want to find it. I am simply very afraid.

My whole life, despite being a fanciful dreamer of the first order, I have had a plan. I planned to go to college. I planned on being a writer. I planned on moving to New York City. Check, check, check. Then the plan got a little topsy-turvy. I left New York and for the first time in my life felt adrift with the what next. Lucky for me my boyfriend at the time made it very easy for me by taking the problem out of my hands and asking me to move in with him. He lived on the East Coast and better yet he said he wanted to marry me.

That settled that. I was living in view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a half hour (if we didn’t hit traffic, which of course was rare) drive into Washington D.C. I loved my new home, I loved my boyfriend and I loved the idea of what our life could be. Me, pursuing my writing, and then settling in closer to the mountains with my sir and starting a family. Except that plan didn’t work either. And the only plan I had after that was to keep my head above water. And in doing so, I found I had a whole lot left in me even if all my plans had crumbled like day-old coffee cake.

My favorite personal trainer, EJ, had asked me while I was still in training for The Biggest Loser, what my plan was then. And I responded that my plan was to be footloose and fancy-free. And his response was, “That’s just your fancy way of saying you’re a poor planner.” I have always found this very hysterical, because by my own admission, yeah I can be a pretty poor planner. But in other ways, I make the things I want to happen, happen. If I want something bad enough, I plan and I make it a reality. Seriously. How do you think I got on national television?

The Biggest Loser producers didn’t knock on my door and say, “Hey Cassandra, we heard you were chubby and lookin’ for a change. Would you like to join our ranks?” Nope. I showed up in Detroit at 5 a.m. for the casting call and fuckin dazzled them. And then I continued to put in the work for months until I made the show and then worked tirelessly for seven more months while on the show to lose 92 pounds. And then I worked my much smaller arse off to get to New York City.

The problem here and now is, sure I am going out West and sure that’s as natural a choice for me as my choosing to drink strong black coffee every morning. It’s that I don’t know what the plan is after that… Because I still want the things I have always wanted. To be a smash writing sensation and ya know eventually locate a man who thinks I’m a humorous delight and then wants to really lock it down and impregnate me five times and then once more for good measure.

And truly my real problem isn’t a lack of a plan or not knowing what the next move is after mountains meeting the sea. The problem always has been my incessant worry. Every single friend I have points this out to me. Meditate more. Quit stressing. Stop worrying. Why do you need to have a plan? These were all things that were said to me only yesterday by varying friends. All nice friends who care about my happiness and well-being.

I just can’t actually comprehend being a person who doesn’t fret over the future like an overprotective hen clucking over her chicks. What, just go West and hope for the best? Really what else can I do though? I am as prone to hope as I am to worry. So I may as well choose hope and try and strangle the worry, though she is an elusive and bothersome little gnat.

In this case, my main man God really says it best and I should just shut up and listen to him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11