(Thursday night) Friends

“Your love is like a giant pigeon, crapping on my heart” — croons Phoebe. Phoebe is and always has been one of my most favorite characters on Friends. And the sitcom Friends is a staple of two of some of my oldest and most important friendships.

Every Thursday night in high school, Kathryn and Christina and I would gather at Mama and Honey’s house to watch Thursday night’s comedies, which included Friends. We bonded over Dr. Peppers, the dramas of high school, and scattered papers of last minute homework assignments that we were scrambling to do in the back room of Christina’s grandparent’s house. It was a glorious tradition that I cherish in my memory. It bonded us. We were three young girls trying to figure life out in the echoing halls of high school; we banded together in solidarity as we faced the world.

And we’re still friends to this day. We’ve gone the distance as far as time and literal distance. We’ve all traveled far and wide and we’ve had each other’s backs through it all. I’m not saying our friendships have been without their bumps. What relationships are perfect? But those bumps make us real. I love these two dearly.

What is friendship?

Proverbs 17:17a tells us “A friend loves at all times.” That’s pretty straight-forward. I am blessed to have some pretty awesome friends. Kathryn and Christina are just two.

Friends are the ones that hold your hand in the dark times. They wipe your smudged eye-makeup from your face before you go back out in public after an emotional moment. They give you courage and strength when your well has run dry. They make you “welcome home” signs when you return from months abroad. They send you encouragement cards in the mail when they live across the country and know you’re going through a hard time. They dance with you to silly songs just because life is great. They dress up with you and get fancy because “why not?!” Friends are there for the good and the bad. The mundane too. Friends don’t desert. They stick around. Friends are the coffee of life — they’re what you want in the morning to wake you up first thing. They give you energy. They can be sweet at times, but bitter if not treated well. Friends, like coffee, must be treated well. Friends, like coffee, must be chosen well. Friends, like coffee, bring me so much joy. They are essential.

I love my friends. And I love you. Love to you, my friends.

XOXO,
emily alma

cinnamon spice lattes & then some

embracing my feminine side — wearing makeup, Premier Designs jewelry, and a dress — nestled up next to my love.

Continuing that conversation of choosing joy, I sit here with my cinnamon spice latte and Amos Lee on my pandora station and not only am I happy, I am joyful. Sure, life can be pretty annoying sometimes. Take for instance when my client last week berated me for a good half hour because his apartment complex did not provide a key for him quick enough when he had requested a replacement. Oh the injustice! #life Haha.

But really, life can be pretty great. It can have its sweet and delightful moments. Since this blog is new to me and perhaps you as a reader do not know me at all, I want to share some things that bring me both joy and happiness!

>>Cinnamon spice lattes with soy milk from Biggby. I worked at Biggby for a summer. After I graduated from grad school with my masters in social work, I had to find work lickety split because I knew student loans weren’t going to pay themselves. And thus: Biggby! I got to experiment and try all sorts of drinks. Not being much of a tea drinker, it was kind of unusual that I fell in love with it, but being that it was the a tea latte: tea and steamed milk, it was a bit sweeter and creamier. Mmm…oh so good (and no, I am not getting paid for this, bahaha!).

>>A good quality book. Also beside me as I write this from the Biggby down the street are a handful of books and my Kindle full of many more that I have yet to explore. I love to read. I love to escape into worlds unknown, or topics left to be discovered. Whether it be the true stories of someone’s life, the fictional tales created in someone’s mind, advice about life from a wise sage, or knowledge for knowledge’s sake: I love to read. Words entrance me. I am a gypsy of the page. I get lost and can be hard to be found again. It’s a love affair that I will never recover from.

>>Nature, hiking, camping, campfires, grassy knolls, sandy beaches, streams, lakes, mountains: I swear I am kinfolk to Cheryl Strayed and Wild is in my blood. I may not be an “uber-wilderness-girl” — but I surely do love being outside. Get me some fresh air and I’m good.

>>Sleeping bags are my home. Is that weird? Was I a caterpillar in a former life aching to be in its cocoon? Perhaps…

>>This is something I’m more recently discovering about myself, was perhaps a bit embarrassed about for a while, but am learning to embrace: my feminine side. As a youth, I was a total tom-boy. All my neighbor friends were boys — so I was just “one-of-the-guys.” Even in middle and high school, I was always just a friend to everyone. But more recently, I am wearing a bit more makeup, occasionally donning a dress or skirt, and wearing a lot of jewelry. I even worked for Premier Designs and sold jewelry for a while (and consequently have a lot of jewelry in my collection…like a lot). It’s been kind of fun — not gonna lie. So there’s that.

That’s just a snapshot of what brings me joy and happiness. There is much much more where that came from. Honestly, what brings me the most joy and happiness in my life are the people and relationships that I have. I treasure my friends and family and loved ones dearly. I hold them close. But if I were to even begin to write about that topic, it would be a novel of a post, and well, it’s about time I start wrapping up the night and getting ready for bed. Haha. Thanks for reading. Until next time.

love to you my friends,
emily alma

joy vs. happiness

Happiness fades with the sunset, but joy is everlasting as the sun. What is the difference between joy and happiness? Happiness is like a drug, it feels good when you’ve got the high, but it is not long lasting, it is not sustaining; it is circumstantial.

Joy, on the other hand, is a state of being. Joy is a way of life. Joy is a choice. Joy, like the sun, is always there and warms you whether or not you always see it or feel it. You choose to believe in it’s power, in it’s existence. Joy is a fruit of the spirit.

When life brings you down, when the bills come due and the bank account is dwindling towards empty — happiness fades. When a friend promises to be there for you and the phones lies silent on the desk — happiness fades. When the MRI report reads possible sarcoma and you can’t breathe — happiness fades. What then? What sustains you? Joy. You persevere with joy as your guiding light.

There have been times in my life when choosing joy was not an easy task. After just reading through some of my posts from my old blog when I was in Spain, especially the second post following the first time my classmate raped me…just re-reading that post reminds me of how lost I was. I started to question what I wanted to do with my life, what my goals were, who I wanted to be, and who I was. I was feeling empty and void. I was struggling to find my purpose, and definitely my joy.

I was robbed of my happiness and I let my joy be stolen from me. I had become a shell of a being. For three months I walked those city streets of that tiny coastal town in Denia, Spain: empty, void. No joy. I let it escape me. I did not pursue it. Looking back, I think I found happiness in simple things: the Mediterranean coast, the cafe con leche, the siestas in the afternoon where I would take 2-3 hour naps in my cozy bed. But I let joy escape my grasp and did not make it a priority.

Choose joy. I had to choose joy. I had to wake up every morning and make a conscious choice to choose joy. Upon my return to Grand Rapids, I met with my counselor and processed through my experiences and my emotions and my feelings of shame. I began to learn how to live life again, to choose life again, and to ultimately choose joy.

That lesson has helped me time and time again. It helped me when I was un-diagnosed with bipolar disorder and taken off my meds, when the mania struck, when I was hospitalized (twice), and when life took a downward spiral. Joy is hard to grasp when life is at its seemingly worst. But that’s when you must hold on the tightest. Joy sustains. Joy uplifts. Hold on tight. Life is a wild ride and joy is a great companion.

dinner and drinks @ Greenbush Brewing with my dad, 9/7/17

Cheers to joy.

 

 

every moment i laughed, yearning, as life’s missteps allowed

Hey guys — welcome to my blog, my thoughts, my musings.

In case you didn’t catch it, the title of this post, and subsequently the meaning behind my blog, is a play on my name:

Every Moment I Laughed, Yearning, ALife’s Missteps Allowed.

Yes, my life is full of missteps — but at each misstep, and throughout all of life, I can laugh: laugh at myself, at a given situation, at the peculiarities that life throws at me. And I yearn for more: for growth, for change, for laughter. Because these missteps happen throughout all of life. I stumble. I fall. I mess up. And I laugh at myself. For what is life without laughter? Deep down belly laughs are some of life’s best medicine.

Hi. My name is Emily. I’m 29-years-old and live a quick walk away from a sandy beach and a golden sunset on Lake Michigan in the southwest corner of the glorious mitten state.

I’m a social worker, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, Christian, have bipolar disorder, victim of rape. But there’s so much more to me than labels. I’ve had a blog since 2007, but this blog is a new chapter for me. On the outside, nothing has really changed, yet every day is a new day, so why not today be a day to start fresh?

What better way to start fresh than by pondering the past, reflecting on it, learning from it, and taking those lessons into today? I sit here wrapped in blankets snuggled next to my love and reflect on where I’ve been in life, the paths I’ve walked.

This past spring, I recorded a video of my testimony to be shared with my church. It’s the first time I went public with my story of my bipolar journey and my experience of rape. It tells only snippets of the strength that my God, my family, and my friends provided, but also of the growth and change that I went through because of those experiences. I am a different and stronger woman because of where I’ve been. And that’s not to say that I wish bipolar disorder or the torment of rape on anyone, but I would not be who I am today without the journey I’ve walked and battles I’ve fought, both external and internal.

I invite you, now, to spend a few minutes understanding a bit of where I’ve been through my testimony.

My life is full of missteps, whether forced by chemical imbalances, by the hand of a perpetrator, or any other situation brought on by circumstance and even choice. However, I choose to laugh and find joy.

I’m also reminded of James who so wisely tells us in chapter one verses two through three:

Yeah, life can be tough. Life can be full of trials and missteps and hard times. But I choose to laugh and find joy because I know that there can be great benefits and growth from those trials and missteps, and then eventual laughter and joy. So, thank you for stopping by. I hope you come by again and continue to walk with me on life’s journey. Until then, love to you my friends.

 

joyfully,
emily alma