July 31, 2012

Small Moment, Special Day

I've come to believe that you know you've met someone special when you can remember the smallest of details regarding the day you met. You know you've met someone important when you can recall the memories that you made with them, as though they happened recently rather than seven years ago. And you know they will always matter to you when you find yourself not only thinking about them, but praying for them. 

This poem is not about any kind of wishing or hoping. This is about thanking a friend for what he has done for me, and thanking God for bringing this person into my life. There have been many up's and downs, but I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. It is not something I talk about openly with other people, but today I celebrate someone that meant a lot to me, and still does. 

When There Was You

I remember the day you reached your hand out to me
Years ago it was, but clear as yesterday
Out in the middle of nowhere we were
Learning and living by faith

I was young and lost without a clue in the world
How to stand up and pull myself together
Even though you helped me to hang on
I’m sure you didn’t know either

For all the laughs we shared
And all the memories we made
All the moments we spent sharing our hearts
The love and friendship we gave
No I don’t regret the days of when there was you

There were times when times when you stumbled and fell
I didn’t understand
All I felt was hurt and confusion
Knowing how close we were as friends

But I needed that time apart
And we both needed time to grow
I’m no longer a girl and you’re now a man
With struggles and responsibilities
 trying to set our own paths and follow our dreams
But I’m still in the process of learning
From the times of when there was you

We all have those special people
Who may not always have a physical place in our lives
But leave the deepest of footprints on our hearts
A sense of love and admiration that will never fade
Regardless of how many days go by
Or who we become
I’ll remember it always

We’ve charted different courses
And exchanges of words seem few
But still I lift you up in prayer
For you success, along with gratitude

Perhaps one day if God wills it so
We’ll find each other once more
Joke around and talk like we used to
Except there won’t be pain or silence between us anymore
Just peace

But right now I’ll just say thank you
For the years that we were given
It changed my life and taught me well
When there was you

July 28, 2012

A Sobering Truth

I can't remember where I was exactly when I heard the horrific news about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. At first, I didn't believe it, because it happened in a crowded movie theatre as opposed to a high school or a college campus. The gravity of it all didn't register until  a few nights ago, when I learned that there had been not one, but multiple people from my hometown that were either injured or lost their lives. I didn't sleep for most of that night, and cried on and off the following day.

This is not the first time that something like this affected me in such a way. But it's not so much that I simply feel heartbroken this time around. Rather, I feel haunted. 

I was having a conversation with a woman after church on Sunday, and we were discussing just how unbelievable it was, and still is. She said something that I have not been able to get out of my head since: that nothing is ever completely safe, at least not anymore. 

Things like this are no longer just a reminder of the fragility of life. They're no longer a reminder just how deep and dark hatred can be. For many, a sense of innocence and normalcy has been lost.  

I have found myself asking, "why?" Not exactly why this happened, for that there may never be a definite answer. The question that screams for address is "where do we go from here?" It is an issue so much deeper than gun control and comparing them with other murderous attacks. From this point on, how do we balance our lives not being completely skittish, while also realizing that we're not invincible?

I can't say that I won't not have a twinge of fear every time I go to see a movie. I'm not one that likes to sit in the back rows as it is, simply because it's hard to walk down the stairs, especially if there is a crowd. I will probably hold my breath for a little while, and be prepared to run if need be. 

But I refuse to live in complete fear; I refuse to allow a heartless act of pure evil to keep me from experiencing joy and beauty. 

And if there's one thing we should learn, it's to be aware. Not to be afraid necessarily, but aware. We're not invincible and we're certainly not promised tomorrow. All we can do is squeeze every moment out of life and savor it in the best way we know how. Yet, I do understand that it will take time and faith to be able to do so. 

Right now, my prayer is that  there may be light in the midst of darkness. That journalists, politicians, religious figures, and the like keep their biased opinions to themselves and allow those affected to mourn and heal. And that we may become one step closer to keeping these senseless acts from ever happening again. 


July 22, 2012

Self-Care: Because I Like It

It's a shame how indulgence often has a negative connotation attached to it; although I suppose it would have to do with what you're exactly indulging in. In the past, I always felt like I had to come up with a reason to support everything I did. Basically, I did it because I needed to take care of myself. And if I didn't do it, I might just go a little crazy.

It seems like hobbies or any form of bliss either get put on the backburner, or you feel the need to explain why you do it in order for it to be justified. And if you don't explain yourself, you get talked down to or get a label slapped on your back: you're lazy. You're self-centered and materialistic. You have your head up in the clouds.

But whatever happened to doing something simply because it made you happy? Because it made you smile from ear to ear? And if that's true, why does anyone else's opinion matter? I'm not not referring to dangerous or unhealthy things, like binge drinking or getting yourself into sketchy situations. I'm referring to activities that when you partake in them, you feel a sense of peace, as though all is well with the world.

Personally, my indulgences include the following:

Elements from my childhood-I've made no secret of the fact that I love and adore all things Disney. But lately, I've discovered that there are many things I used to surround myself with, that subconsciously I haven't given up. I still swing out on the swing set in my backyard. I still listen to 90's boy-bands and can remember most of the lyrics. I get a kick out of the quirkiness that is the Wisconsin Dells and a lot of the other theme parks that I've been to.

The bottom line is that I'm willing to embrace life with a sense of childlike wonder; something that unfortunately, people try to desperately rid themselves of as they leave childhood behind. I do get the occasional "but you're almost twenty-one, shouldn't you have given this up by now?" There are times where the boring, bland side of my brain tosses around that idea. But you know what? If it's becoming socially acceptable for kids to grow up way too fast, for whatever reason, adults should be allowed to embrace their inner child as well.

Shopping/Dressing up/Glamour-I'm all for being bare-faced and wearing sweatpants, but I equally love getting dressed up for a night out or a special occasion. I'm no expert, but it's interesting to experiment with make-up and seeing the different looks that I can create for myself. I try to stick to what enhances my natural features and not cover my face with gobs of product. Clothing is also a favorite, but it can be frustrating because I'm petite, along with the fact that I want to look modest without looking dowdy or plain.

And while there is the assumption that fashion and beauty products promote greed and vanity, I've learned how to separate myself from all of that. As long as one doesn't build their entire life around their appearance, or base their worth on what they look like, it shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Getting together with friends and family-If there is one thing that I have learned to cherish in the last twenty years, it's making the most of every moment that you have, with those that mean the absolute world to you. Last year I realized that it wasn't about how often you made certain memories, but who those memories included. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my family during birthdays or important holidays, and it always turns into somewhat of a gut-busting comedy special (and I mean that in an extremely positive and humorous way). I appreciate the nights when my friends and I can get together in someone's apartment and either bond over cheap wine or a good movie (sometimes both). And it's always an extra blessing when we get to catch up on life and just be real with one another. It's a good reminder that we're not put on this earth to go through life alone. 

This year I'll be living in a new apartment; one that is definitely a lot nicer, and is also closer to campus. My hope is that it will be a place where everyone can feel welcome and safe. A place where they can kick back and enjoy themselves. And above all, a place where people can leave with a smile on their face. Perhaps it might seem unrealistic, but I'm all too familiar with not having that kind of place to go to. And instead of always looking for a "happy place", maybe it's time I be that place for someone else. 

So if someone asks me why I want to do something, from now on I'm only going to sum it up in three simple words: because I like it. 

July 14, 2012

Stream Of Consciousness: Slugging Along

It has been a slow week; after getting back from Wisconsin last Sunday night, all I wanted to do in the following days was lie around and empty my mind of all the thoughts and stresses. I had a lot to catch up on as far as school work and daily chores, but most of the time I didn't feel like I was being incredibly productive. And if there's one thing I don't like, it's having a multitude of days where productivity just doesn't happen. On top of that, I had a test yesterday where according to the internet, I did not do well on. But as the saying goes, all you can do is get up, dust yourself off, and keep going. 

I wrote my brother a letter for the first time since he left for Basic Training. From what I've gathered based on pictures that have been posted on Facebook (not by him, but by photographers that take pictures and put them on some kind of website), along with other letters he has written, he is doing pretty well out there. On Monday morning he'll be marching three miles to Jack's Valley and spending the next couple of weeks in what he described as "pure hell." I'm not sure what that means exactly, but all I know is that I couldn't be more proud of him for choosing to do what he is doing. 

It never dawned on me until recently just how much I admire him for going to into the Air Force. Although there are other members of my family that have served in other branches of the military, I never got to hear very much about what they did, or see videos/pictures of it, or miss them each and every day while they were gone. When you have a parent or a sibling choosing to serve, you get to see a lot more of it up close, and therefore, the impact is a lot bigger. And not that my brother and I were particularly close, but it's strange not having him around. On the flip side, I do get to see him over Labor Day weekend, thankfully!

In two weeks, I will unofficially be moving into my new apartment; that is, moving my furniture in and getting everything set up. Don't get me wrong, I've very excited to be starting this new sub-chapter in my life, but I don't want to look too far forward into the future or think that living on my own is going to be the answer to everything. That has always been one of my biggest weaknesses; being overly dependent on my circumstances and having high expectations. I think it's because I am very much a dreamer and tend to paint a picture of what a situation would be like if it were completely perfect. But I've learned the hard way that what we want and what we actually get are two different things. 

My goal from here on out is not to lower my expectations, but to not have any expectations at all. Instead, I want to be in the present moment and find joy in each day as it unfolds, and to be open to whatever God has in store for me. Despite my insecurities flaring up from time to time, there is really nothing worth over-thinking about or worrying about. 

For now, I have other things to focus on; I have three and a half weeks of class left, and am working on editing a story of mine that I plan on submitting for publication once I am done with it. I'd like to make a couple of ventures into the city, and catch up with a few other friends from home before the summer is over. I'm continuing to grow spiritually and becoming more grounded in my beliefs. 

When life moves a little bit more slowly than usual, sometimes it can get a little frustrating. But it enables me to focus on the here and now, which when it all comes down to it, is all I have.

July 11, 2012

Keeping Up With Creativity

With any kind of creative art, it's common to experience a lack of ideas or a complete block all together. However, I've always found inspiration just about anywhere, from my backyard, my own life experiences, and the crazy dreams that I tend to have while asleep. So I'm not necessarily beating my head against a wall for the sake of getting the wheels to turn. Rather, it's allowing others to see the end product.

When I was young (about ten or eleven) I can remember being extremely defensive about my writing; I didn't want anyone to read it, nor did I want anyone to talk about it. 

At thirteen, I began writing poetry, and I only shared those poems with one other person. At the time, I was extremely vulnerable and believed that he was one of the few that understood where I was coming from. To this day, no one else has read them. 

And even just recently, I wrote a poem for my grandparents fiftieth anniversary and read it out loud  during the toast at their party. I was terrified, so much that I was literally shaking and crying. 

Looking back on it, a lot of my resistance comes from my fear of being vulnerable. When I write something, I try my best to put everything I have into it. There are some pieces that involve being nearly transparent, as if I am allowing another to see into my soul. To put it simply, it's like being emotionally naked, which sometimes makes me want to run away and hide. 

Yet, I also realize that I have been given a precious gift; one that has the capability to teach people something and perhaps someday make a change. As scary as it was to write my last post about the underline issue with dating, deep down I knew that so many people needed it. We're constantly led to believe that romance is the key to absolute happiness, and that it's going down the drain because few seem to care about it anymore. I wanted to offer a different perspective, something that was realistic, but not incredibly negative. 

My other issue with creativity is that I tend to second-guess myself while I'm going through the process. It's not necessarily, "am I good enough?" but rather, "Is this believable and will it make any sense to those that read it?" Whenever I did workshop for any of my writing classes, the big thing that always came up was plausibility (whether or not it was realistic). So now whenever I'm working on something new, that's always the question going through my head. Even when I come up with ideas, nine times out of ten I don't put them out on paper right away because I'm trying to figure out exactly what the story will be. 

What I have to remind myself of is that there is a little thing called editing and revising; it may not be near perfect during the first go-around, but that doesn't mean that it never will be. I need to get in the habit of just writing it down, instead of doing a little bit and then going back and seeing what can be changed. That's why it takes so me so long to finish whatever project I'm working on; I want to figure it all out, to have a perfect vision; and that's not the way it goes. 

I'm currently in the process of submitting something for publication; as far as when that will happen, time will only tell. 

I'm also thinking about new ways to branch out; I always thought that to write a memoir, you either had to be a lot older than twenty or many years worth of larger than life experiences (see either Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber's autobiographies). But that's not the way I want to go about it; I would like to write a series of personal essays that focus on the small, but equally defining moments of my life. Many of them will be deep, and some of them I may just choose to keep in a folder for a while until I'm ready to be open about what happened. Either way, I believe in the power of writing down your own life story, and I plan on doing it; it's just going to be a little at a time. 

When it comes to my own creative talents and gifts, I don't think they were given to me just for the sake of my own enjoyment. I can only hope that all of them will be a blessing to many, even if it's just in the smallest of ways. But if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that gifts are meant to be unwrapped, and in one way or the other, they're meant to shine.