Little More Than Dreams: Reflecting on INTEND

So Josh and I moved into a new apartment.

Granted, it is literally across the street from our old place but still. Moving is moving.

It has been exhilarating to imagine the whole life we’re going to build in this place. This top-floor apartment with clapboard detailing and sliding barn door, views of a tree-lined street, and high ceilings. This place will surely be the location of mine and Josh’s first fight. Where we’ll spend happy holidays and host our families. Where we’ll solidify what it means to be us.

Our first home together is full of hope and good INTENTIONS.

All of which began with the move in.

On Monday morning, I dropped Josh off at the airport for a work trip he had already on the books. I had INTENDED after the work day to begin packing up our apartment room by room and transporting our things in small batches to then unpack in the new place. Repeat over the next days until Friday, when Josh returned and would host the movers who were scheduled to transport all our big stuff. We anticipated getting situated on Saturday, all in time for a work trip between Sunday and Wednesday.

Our first home, filled with all these good intentions, did host a first for us. It is the location of the first time we’ve been sick together. I, with migraines and gastro issues. Josh, with congestion and fevers. And it was due to these illnesses that INTENT became a very applicable verb for the week because it impacted nearly every facet of our move.

I moved slowly and painfully as I packed my things and unpacked around the contracted crew placing final touches around the apartment. When my flu got so bad, I made mini deals with myself to soldier on. If you pack the kitchen cabinets, you can skip the fridge until Josh gets back. If you empty the bookshelf, you can end early tomorrow.

All my INTENTIONS became defunct pretty quickly. The week became a testament of flexibility and pushing through exhaustion. The illness took hold strong enough that I was out of the office on both Thursday and Friday. When he returned, Josh was equally exhausted from travel and illness and therefore unable to easily pick up my slack.

There were many sacrifices and compromises during this move. None were terribly significant, but their abundance influenced most days. Our guiding light was the unmovable (pun intended) fact that we had to be out of the old place by Saturday. The method by which we accomplished this was up to us. So it meant being less organized and less speedy than (I) ideally desired. It meant takeout and 7:00pm bedtimes over sexy times and toasting with martinis.

Moving indisposed was miserable. But I’m delighted to report there was no sniping at one another throughout the process, so our first fight will have to wait for another day. It’s already feels like a happy home and when all was said and done on Saturday night, we lay exhausted in bed, too weak to hold tightly to one another. We expressed excitement and gratitude for what lies ahead, for the life we INTEND to build. Together.

Annie Dillard & #VOWintend

I was listening to a podcast last week when the host quoted Annie Dillard.

It’s a quote I’ve heard several times, but during a week in which I was focused on INTEND-ing, it stopped me on some District street in the middle of my run.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

It’s a message that’s been coming to me more frequently from the universe these days: the intentionality (or lack thereof) with which I am living my life.

I say life, because it’s so true, what Dillard says.

It’s easy to be intentional with this theoretical lifespan of years. To think about the changes you want to make and the projects you’d like to tackle and believe there is and will be time to do them. That eventually things will settle down, and you will just do them.

When you start to think of your life as a single day—not in a last-day-of-my-life sort of way but in a day-in-day-out sort of way—it’s harder to hold that mindset with integrity. When you admit that how you spend your day-after-day is your life, it’s more difficult to make excuses. You simply are living the life you want or you’re not.

There are seasons in my life, just as I am sure there are in yours, when I am better at this than others. But as it almost always (and always will) happens, when life is throwing the most at me, I tend to be far under my best. And that’s because I simply let it happen. I stop being intentional. I start convincing myself that all I can do is go with the flow. That all I can do is stay in survival mode. But the truth is, I make that choice.

For example, working out used to be a part of my daily life. Every afternoon, I did it. It was not a choice I made; it was a non-negotiable part of my day that was vital to not only my physical health but my mental and emotional well-being. Then I started graduate school, and I didn’t have evenings in any more. So I relegated runs to the weekends. And then I really didn’t have weekends, so I just stopped. Incorporating it back into my life post-graduate school has continued to be a struggle. Theoretically, I have more time, but I have just as reasons why it isn’t a non-negotiable.

Now, for me, and I have known this for years, this choice is bad one for my mental health. Working out should be non-negotiable for me. While the changes in my waistline are noticeable to me, they are not significant shifts. What is significant is the lack of ownership I feel over my body. The absence of gratitude for it. The voices their absence empowers. And the not-who-I-want-to-be version of myself I become.

So last week, with #VOWintend, I made a different choice. I chose to workout. It didn’t happen every morning as planned, and it wasn’t always as long as I wanted. But I chose to make it part of my day at some point. And this week, I chose to make it part of my morning. And when it almost didn’t happen this morning for no other reason than I didn’t feel like it, I remembered those words from Annie Dillard.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

And the life I want to spend is one where I wake up and…

STRETCH.


Steph’s INTEND mantra: How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

Steph’s Song of the Week: Now or Never by Halsey

& Don’t miss Lin’s post on #VOWintend (currently being drafted).

I Asked for Wonder & #VOWrelish Moments

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder…”

I spent most of last week, walking around Maui, praying to God something similar to Heschel. My prayer was simple and all I felt like I could ask for in those moments, because we hadn’t spoken in quite sometime: Please, give me something to marvel at.

Maybe it was too much to ask. Or maybe it was just a big one coming from me, given I am still trying to sort out the whole God thing.

But I desperately needed something to mean more. I needed to feel small in the expanse of something instead of invisible.

I didn’t get wonder. To marvel.
But there were little moments.

And maybe sometimes that is all we can ask from life: just a little bit of relish, just enough light to get us through the day.

This week, we intend.


Steph’s RELISH mantra: Relish everything that’s inside of you. the imperfections. The darkness. The richness. And light and everything. And that makes for a full life.

Steph’s Song of the Week: End of the Line by VVE

& Don’t miss Lin’s post on #VOWrelish (coming soon!).