July 30, 2015

Friday Finds

Because sometimes we need a good read with a good cup of coffee, but we also need a good laugh, too!

Wait...I'm An "Ambivert"? (via The Wall Street Journal)

-I've never fully identified as an introvert or an extrovert, but a little bit of both. And now I know what to call it!

Another reason to adore Luke Bryan (via Country Rebel)

Being "too emotional" can be a good thing (via Allison Vesterfelt) 

What NOT to say to a writer (via Entertainment Weekly)

-Based off the popular Twitter hashtag, and I could definitely relate to it!

Failure is your friend (via HeartSupport)

Have a great weekend!!!

photo credit: Message Stones via photopin (license)

July 23, 2015

Caring Less, Caring Differently

The older you get, the less you should care about what other people think.

 I’ve been learning and absorbing this, both in my own experiences and in other reflections from various bloggers and thinkers. There comes a point in every adult life where you realize that you’re no longer living in a bubble; you’re in control of what you do with your time, your energy, and your heart. You’re not necessarily surrounded by all the same people who are always doing the same things, so therefore you’re not saturated in specific culture or way of living. And even if that’s the case, you have the choice of going with what’s easy or embracing the awkwardness.

I know this, but it still takes effort to believe, to practice, and genuinely act on it. For years I’ve lived as an impressionable person, believing that if a chorus of people told me something (especially if they were older and family), then they must be right. It never occurred to me that might be wrong, or they could be neither wrong nor right. It about perspective more than anything, and mine is one that I’m in the process of learning to trust and see as valid and worth talking about.

The less you care, the better you become at dealing with rejection, ignorance, hatred, pain, self-doubt, and so on.

I can agree with this to a point; it’s important to know how to be resilient, to stand up and keep going (even if it means hobbling for a little bit). But I’m not sure that giving the finger to those mentioned above is the answer; people love to rant and complain about how entitled, self-centered, greedy, and narcissistic this current generation is, but forget that we’ve grown up in an era where vulnerability and transparency equals weakness. Our primary education has been through technology and one-sided media outlets, rather than real-life conversation; when you’re exposed to all these different view-points and ideas and so on, of course it gets overwhelming. So you retreat, buying into the lie that if you don’t tell anyone how you really feel, it will all go away on its own.

But it never does; pretending that you’re immune to being real and complex only creates disconnection and resentment. I’ve done my damnedest to convince myself that I’m a lone wolf, but I’m a people person inside and out. And honestly, are any of us really all that better off alone?

Don’t stop caring, but rather, choose to care differently. I’m finding that this is two-fold:
One, you stop living in your head and actually let it out. Sometimes it’s in a journal or sometimes it’s in the presence of another person, but I have to be able to acknowledge the darkness, the not-so-pretty stuff in order to make room for what is good.

 Vulnerability is both terrifying and liberating, but I have to be able to talk about All The Things to at least one person. Silence gives the enemy golden opportunities to fill my mind with BS, leading me to believe that those I care about would be better off if I wasn’t around. But when I speak, scream, lament, however it comes out…God uses people to act as a tender voice, or maybe a bullhorn, to speak truth into my life when I need it most. Then once I’m done heaving word-vomit (or tears), I take a step back and am able to see the situation a bit more clearly, because my head isn’t going in a million different directions.

Two, acknowledge the truth and then do something about it…

We’re all human here, humans who long to be loved and taken care of. We’re all scared of rejection, of failure, and ultimately wasting our lives. It seems like in your twenties you have so much to prove, but what about what you have to offer? What about the gifts you have to share?

It really comes down to this:

People will judge you and criticize you, but the loudest voice is often the one in your head. I have no qualms admitting that I am often my own worst enemy.
The only way to get what you want is to ask for it. It might be through whispered prayers or blunt questions, but ask nonetheless. Looking back on my younger years, I wish I had done more of it.

What’s the point in going out of your way to get people to understand? I’m tired of over-explaining and having to justify my intentions, my desires, and what brings me joy. If I want to go on an adventure or try something new, I will.
In other words, if you’re by yourself and you want to have a drink, go out and do it. You’re not the first person to dine alone, and you’re not the only one who will feel weird about it at first. Friendships can happen in bars, on street corners, and the most unexpected places. Be open to the possibilities.

Worry less about having answers and focus more on being present. I believe in listening and being sensitive to others, but sometimes I get so sick of tap-dancing around certain subjects because they might be uncomfortable. Death, suffering, sickness, pain, and depression are all difficult to cope with, but avoiding them won’t erase the fact that they’re part of life.
Know when to apologize and when to own who you are. I’m sensitive. Quirky. Sensual and child-like. They’re all part of me, but they’re layers that aren’t exactly visible on a daily basis. You can be a social butterfly and still appreciate taking time for yourself. I call it being an antrovert.

They all have to be practiced and preached a thousand times over, always a work in progress.  But that’s the beauty in it, realizing that you don’t necessarily have to decide just once, and can change and evolve is time goes on. 

If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be able to relate to anybody. But there’s a big difference between caring and putting my livelihood on the backs of someone else’s opinion.

And it's not a bad thing, being able to show what's important and what matters, versus what is a waste of time. If someone asked me what's really attractive and appealing, especially in relationships...I'd say it's actually giving a damn.

I'm not an acrobat, so I'm not going to act like one. But we're all better together than we are apart.

July 12, 2015

Music Monday

Saturday Night-Brian Wilson
-I recently went to see "Love and Mercy," and am an old soul when it comes to music. Unfortunately I couldn't find the original, but this one is enough!

Hell of a Night-Dustin Lynch

I lived-One Republic
-Will forever remind me of the Chicago Blackhawks recent Stanley Cup Championship. They played this at the rally and I couldn't help but get emotional over it.

Out Like That-Luke Bryan
-I can't wait to see him at Country Thunder again!! Say what you will, but he was part of the reason I fell in love with country music again. That, and the way he says "Twin Lakes"....

Addicted to Love-Florence + The Machine
-Different than the original, but still catchy nonetheless!

John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16-Keith Urban

Have a great week!

All music videos/clips can be found on Youtube!

July 08, 2015

Marks and Measures (Of a Woman)

Marks and Measures (Of a Woman)

What makes a real woman?
She asks
As she curls her hair, her lashes
While trying to stand up-right
*Stares at unpainted nails*
Her closet begs for change
Sentimental remnants long-since hanging by thread

Wear the black heels, they said
Raise your height so that you can actually be seen and heard
Take care of yourself so that others can take you seriously
Walk right, speak firmly but softly, don’t appear foolish
Act the part, and she might believe it

She sees her body as a vessel
Yet unsure of the role it’s meant to play
She’s no Victoria’s Secret Angel
Child-sized with flesh and muscles
Meant to give life and share intimacy
Untouched, but demanded to perform and please
Though not just in media or magazines

Sacred texts take it to the other extreme
Let a man lead without question
A clean home paves the wave to a clean heart
Look up at others, because she doesn’t know any better
She was not raised, but she can be taught!
Sensuality is a light switch
Still a performance, albeit joined by a ring

The images come together as I quiz my reflection
Preferring what’s in my head to what’s in the mirror
Fighting labels the way some have fought for autonomy

I am
Worthy of love and connection
A child-like heart molded by my Creator
Eclectic and multi-faceted
Wanting to be wanted, but still valuing independence
Dancing and laughing
Simultaneously wearing a cross around my neck
Shining gold or silver pairs with red lipstick

You cannot measure a woman by the size of her jeans
Or the height of her shoes
Beauty doesn’t necessarily fade
But it changes
We’re all different kinds of colors and flavors
Sweet, spicy, determined, and feisty
Marked not just by what we give
But how we love, embrace, and honor
Let’s honor ourselves as human beings
Speaking in kindness and bravery, with-holding judgement
That’s the real thing

photo credit: Time. via photopin (license)

July 01, 2015

When Morning Breaks: Moving Onward, Looking Up

Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
-Psalm 30:5

I've often spoke of the multiple transitions that I've been experiencing since finishing college, much of which has been taking place in moments rather than in stages. The last year or so has felt like one incredibly long night, and one that is filled with grief, loss, fear, anger, uncertainty, exhaustion, and occasionally despair. Every so often the darkness threatens to swallow me whole, causing me to wonder if my friends and family would be better off if I just went away for a while and didn't come back until I got my shit together. In the grand scheme of things, I'm fully aware of how important it is to acknowledge and embrace emotional ups and downs, despite the societal encouragement to go numb all together.

Since every journey is different, you really can't put a timeline on the healing process. There is such a thing as getting through it, but never quite getting over the pain, the piece of your life or your heart that was buried underneath all the devastation. There is indeed a time for everything, whether it involves mourning or celebration; for me it is not a question of what exactly, but of when.

When is it time?

Time for what, exactly? I don't want to say "let go" because that seems to imply that you go through a whole range of motions and then act like the whole thing never happened. "Move on" is rather cliche, and is more applicable to relationships; in my case, relationships aren't necessarily ending, but some of them will look and function differently. When I truly think about it, it comes down to this:

When is it time to stop wallowing and start living?

I'd been angry and depressed for a while, and to such a level where I felt like an animal gone rogue. Having no control over the decisions that were being made, I felt like it was the only way to truly protect myself from what was going on around me, and to make sure that I wasn't taken advantage of. Lashing out didn't do a whole lot in regards to motivating the people around me to listen, but neither did holding it all in.

Some have and will call me selfish, and I'm not going to deny it. I came to a point where I was tired of being the rock, the parent, the one that held the fort down while all hell broke loose. I didn't know how to support one without resenting the other, and I've always believed that you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else. Isn't post-grad usually the time when most people establish healthy boundaries in order to find their own footing? I was constantly being told that I needed to focus on my own life, so that's what I did. I wasn't always compassionate, nor was I always mature. Now that the smoke has begun to clear, understanding might be a little bit easier to come by.

I've learned a lot, much of which I'm not quite ready to share with the world just yet. Though I don't agree with how certain aspects were handled, I pray that this next chapter gives both of my parents the freedom to find their own sense of happiness and make better, healthier decisions for themselves.

So what now?

I'm re-discovering my identity, one that is fully anchored in faith instead of the events of the last decade or so. I'm learning about truly being comfortable with who I am as a person, to own my perspective instead of questioning it. The beauty of being where I'm at now is that I feel like it's less about what I have to prove, and more about what I have to give/offer. I shouldn't have to constantly explain or justify my reasoning, as long as I don't harm myself or others in the process. I still care, but I'm not putting my lively-hood on the backbone of other opinions.

It comes down to choices, really: you can use happenstance as an excuse to blame other people for your wounds, or you can put on your boots and keep walking. The older you get, the more autonomy you have to go your own way. It's why I don't fear getting married or being committed to someone, because I'm aware that history doesn't have to repeat itself.

If nothing else, I'm afraid of missing out on life because I held back.

That doesn't mean it's easy, or that it won't involve falling down, picking myself back up, and starting over again. It's going to happen a lot. A lot of my personality has been a defense mechanism in what has gone on, not just with my parents' situation, but for most of my life. There is a part of me that will always have this feisty, don't mess-with-me attitude that is more than determined to accomplish what I've set out to do. From this point on, I can be stubborn and hard-headed while having a soft heart. I can take things in baby steps while still building something worth holding onto, whether it be creative or relationship-oriented. 

Yes, it's very possible. 

I still have moments where I feel like I'm going through a bit of an aftershock: like I'm a character in a horror movie who's standing in a clearing in the woods, waiting for the monster or whatever to come out and attack her again. It will take time to get used to this "new normal" as it's called, but it will happen eventually.

I have trouble finding adequate words to express how grateful I am to those that rallied around me, who still walk with me to this day. I'm grateful for the validation and reminders that I wasn't alone, that I had people to confide in and carry me (both literally and figuratively) when I needed it. I'm thankful for those that prayed, listened, loved, and still continue to do so. And...I'm grateful for a kick in the pants every so often. 

I'd like to think of myself as a strong person. Resilient. Determined. Brave. Raw. Nothing can hold me down, and nothing can keep me in.

I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. 

Let's move.