I'm Just Saying

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few

Let’s talk about regret. And about doing things that we regret. Because I’ve been really, really good at that this last week.

This might sound arrogant or presumptuous, but if I’m being honest I really don’t often do things that I regret. I try hard to keep a level head on my shoulders and to think before I do things.

But this last week has been a rough one in my life for a lot of reasons. My mind has been pulled in a lot of directions with a lot of things, and as a result my mind has been even less mine than it normally is.

What is hard about doing things you regret is that you can’t undo them. You have no way of knowing just what your actions have done or how they have changed your life.

What’s funny about this post is that from a grand perspective these things I’ve done really aren’t bad. They really aren’t even regret worthy. I honestly should’ve saved this post for something regret worthy.

I was talking to God about this tonight, and it was a really great experience because I’ve felt rather far away from Him throughout this whole thing.

He assured me, as He always does, that He has a plan and everything is going to be okay. That our tiny mistakes aren’t going to ruin the grand scheme.

It’s such a relief to know that even when we slip up, God is still on our side. He is still there for us, and His promises are still sure.

We just have to start again and have faith and hope.

For Laughs · Just Writing

The Predetermined Poem

I recently had this idea for a poem. Now, it’s a really intriguing idea, and I’ve heard of poets doing similar things. But there are several potential problems/facts that come along with this idea. But first, the idea itself.

By now, you are all aware of how important music is to me. I’m constantly listening to music, writing about music, trying to find the perfect song to fit my mood. I’m really, really into music. One of my favorite things about finding a new favorite song is identifying that ONE LINE in the song that strikes a chord in my soul. That one line in the whole song that says everything I need it to say.

I recently wondered – what would happen if I took all those lines that struck my heart and created one giant heart-striking piece of literature? What if I took all those lines from all these songs I love and made a poem out of them? My first thought was something grandiose about my level of genius.

But, like I said, there are a few factors to consider:

  1. I know A LOT of songs. Like thousands and thousands and thousands of songs. Making this a ridiculously huge project from the get-go.
  2. Is this even legal??? ……I honestly don’t think so.
  3. I won’t get to choose what this poem is about. Essentially, every song is about love. This is going to be a giant love poem filled with heartwrenching lyrics. So there’s that.
  4. How do I choose which songs to use and not use? How do I choose lines that will somehow all work together?

All of these factors and several others not here mentioned make this project and its aspects:

  1. Something I now have to do just to see if I can do it
  2. An unnecessarily extra thing I’ve now decided to do
  3. Largely predetermined due to the nature of songs
  4. A very interesting writing challenge

So I’ve been working on this project and it has been really interesting. I’ve come to the conclusion that this project must be done in chunks, and we’ll see what happens. I’m also not even sure what to do with this project once it’s finished…due to the fact that I’m quite certain it isn’t legal.

One thing that has surprised me about this project is that even though I strictly have to work with just the lyrics – no adding words – there is still quite a bit of room for me to create something that I love. I can still arrange the words into a pattern that means something to me.

I finished the first chunk of this project this evening. Which consists of some of the artists I listen to regularly and the lines of only some of their songs that have always really touched me. I’ve decided to share this chunk of the project with you. Enjoy:

The Predetermined Poem

I said, “Remember this moment”,
in the back of my mind.
Cause you feel like home,
you’re like a dream come true.
Feels like this could be forever right now:
everything will be alright
if you keep me next to you.

When all those shadows almost killed your light,
I saw a shooting star
and thought of you.
And it’s so quiet in the world tonight,
the truth is I never left you.

I’ve been there too a few times.
I thought, “Heaven can’t help me now.”
Just grab my hand
and don’t ever drop it.
Come morning light,
you and I’ll be safe and sound.

You can see it with the lights out:
how the kingdom lights shined
just for me and you.
And pain gets hard,
but now you’re here
and I don’t feel a thing.
I think I might give up everything
just ask me to

I’ll be waiting,
all there’s left to do is run

 

I'm Just Saying

When The Night Is Coming Down

Today I want to talk to all of you about anxiety and depression.

This post is something that I have had on my mind for a really, really long time. For a few years probably, if I”m being honest. I have mentioned this kind of this vaguely in some posts or posted about it indirectly in others, but today I want to be open and honest about it. True to Jordan fashion I’ll probably remain a little vague, but I’ll share the most important facts of my story with you.

Mental illness is a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. Despite the growing understanding of it in recent years, I think that it still remains a largely taboo subject. I think there are a lot of reasons for this, honestly, but one of them is because mental illness is really hard to understand. And until you’ve dealt with something like anxiety or depression it is really hard to wrap your mind around what it does to your brain. Another thing that makes it hard to understand is that even though there are common symptoms or feelings, it honestly does different things to everybody. But today I want to tell you my story; or give you as much of a glimpse as I can.

I grew up in a family who operates by ignoring the deep issues. My father was severely boxesabused as a child and to this day has never sought any kind of professional help for the things he experienced. We are a farming family: hard workers who believed in getting the job done. Because of these many different factors, any kind of emotional struggles we ever had as children were dealt with with a “get over it” mentality.

Before I continue let me just say that I don’t think this was any fault of my dad or his experiences. Or my mother for that matter. The older that I get the more I realize that the generations before mine simply dealt with hard things that way in general. If there wasn’t a physical problem or a physical way to fix it, then it is easier to forget about it. Box it away in your head. And even though we’ve discovered that this isn’t necessarily healthy, I understand it. Maybe because I was raised that way or maybe because sometimes it just makes sense, there are days when boxing away the emotional baggage is incredibly tempting.

Anyway, with this background as context, this was the mentality I grew up in. Looking back at my childhood now, I recognize one period of time in particular when I was very depressed and needed help and didn’t get it. After this experience, I followed in the tradition of boxing things up. A lot of other factors played into this, factors I won’t get into, but eventually, my mentality was to either deal with my issues by myself or act like they didn’t exist. I didn’t feel like bothering anybody with things because I didn’t like asking for help. I didn’t like inconveniencing anybody with my problems. So if I couldn’t deal with it alone, I simply ignored it.

For me, anxiety and depression go hand in hand. I think that’s the case with a lot of people. (I will also say as a quick aside that there are way more people in this world that deal with anxiety and depression than we even know.) As a general rule, I think I deal with depression more than I deal with anxiety, but anxiety is still very real and usually triggered if I’ve had a bad day depression wise.

All of this information about myself was hard learned. If I’m being completely honest, the words “anxiety” and “depression” did not exist in my vocabulary in reference to myself until I was 19 years old. I was serving my religious mission when all of that happened, which is really where everything came to a head.

I will never forget the moment that I broke.

I remember where I was and who I was with. I remember what time of day it was – 9 brokenp.m. I remember every detail of how it felt. Like a giant cavern had opened inside of me and I was falling inside of it, falling forever and ever and ever and smashing into the sides along the way. After several weeks of intense pressure, one single moment not only cracked open the emotional boxes I’d packed on my mission itself but every emotional box I had ever packed ever. Every single one split wide open all over inside of me.

To date, there have been two such moments in my life when this type of thing happened inside my head. And both times my very first thought was, “Well (insert expletive of choice), this is going to hurt.”

I’m not sure if this practical/joking approach to emotional decimation is healthy, but nevertheless, that’s what my brain decided to say in that moment. The last moment of sanity before the madness, apparently. But I digress.

The aftermath of this first breaking moment was not good, to put it mildly. For months afterward, every moment of my life was a constant battle to try and figure out what was going on inside my head and how to fix it. It was the hardest thing I’d ever dealt with up to that point in my life. Looking back on it now, depression was probably the main thing I was dealing with, but anxiety was close on its heels.

I remember waking up every morning. Waking up was the most horrible thing to ever happen to me for days and days and days. The instant I gained awareness, the dark cloud descended on me again. There was absolutely no escape from it. Have you ever woken up in the morning crying? I wouldn’t recommend the experience. Every single morning was the devastating moment of, “Oh, I’m still here. This is still my reality. I have to do this again.”

candleDepression is horrible. There’s no way around that. Nobody should have to deal with things like that. Nobody should be trapped inside their own head like that. There is something about depression, about the moments when it is the worst it gets, when you are in the darkest of places, and you sit and realize that nobody is coming to save you, that is one of the worst things a human can experience.

And as hard as it is for those of us on this side of it, it is also incredibly hard for the people who have to watch us go through it.

Because more often than not, they just want to help. They can see the value of life and the potential we have so much more clearly than we can. More than anything they want to be there for us and help us fix it. But when we don’t even understand everything that’s going on in our head, it’s so hard to let others try and figure it out.

For me, one of the hardest things about depression is that even when it is horrible, just downright terrible, and I’m in the midst of that kind of darkness, I still know what all the answers are. I know the value of life, I know there’s a point, I know great things are ahead of me, I know that God has promised me incredible things and that He does not and cannot lie. Everything motivational you could think of, I know. I know all of that. But in those moments that are the darkest of dark: I just don’t care.

And I honestly think that’s the greatest tragedy of all. Just not caring.

When you mix this mental illness that brings you to a state where you truly and honestly do not care with a mental illness that makes you care too much, you’re going to have issues. It is 100% completely immobilizing. And honestly a little bit humiliating. I have a hefty record of canceling plans, being unable to make it to work, and basically avoiding the process of life because of things that are going on inside of my head. It’s frustrating because you want to be fine. You realize how crazy all of it sounds, and that by all accounts you’re completely okay.

It’s hard because on the outside you appear completely fine.

But you’re just not.

To continue with my story, I eventually got things figured out. I say “I” but honestly I was not the one who figured it out. I was surrounded by an army of supportive people who refused to leave me alone, but not in a way that suffocated me. They were simply there. To talk when I needed it, to support me when I needed it, and to cry with me when I needed it. They figured it out for me. They carried me through. They taught me that love is the key.

I wouldn’t say that there just came one day when everything was suddenly okay. Because to this day, I still fight the same battles sometimes. And they are still just as devastating. But I will tell you a few of the things that helped me get to a point where I could entertain the notion of life again.

  • When I realized that the things I was dealing with were real, it became easier to move forward. I had spent so much of my life feeling like emotional things were fake, something to be pushed away. But once I came to terms with the fact that it was a real thing it was much easier.
  • For a period of time, I allowed myself to embrace the darkness. It is a risky strategy lightthat I’m not sure I’d recommend. But for a moment I let myself be completely immersed in the darkness, I embraced it, I lived in it. The hard thing about this strategy is that it is so easy to get stuck there. But for whatever reason, allowing myself to be in the darkness helped in the end. I didn’t stay there long, not at all, but getting to a point where I could admit the issues with complete honesty and face them head on helped. If you’re going to pull this kind of mental battle, you have to know when to retreat. If you fight it too long really bad things happen. You have to run away from the darkness before you’re ready. If you get too comfortable there that’s not a good thing.
  • I had to understand some things about my mind. I had to come to terms with the fact that I am a human being who feels things on an incredibly deep level. That goes for sadness or happiness and everything in between. Once I came to terms with this fact about myself – or was at least aware of it – it became easier to move forward.
  • I learned the difference between moving on and moving forward. I learned that “moving on” is pretty much a myth. Sue me, but none of us really ever “move on” from anything. Nobody just forgets completely about the things that happen to them and live life merrily like it never happened. To be honest, I felt dirty. I felt dirty and used after going through all of this. And when you feel dirty and used, moving on isn’t really a thing. You just do your best to move forward and cling to whatever whispers that someday you’ll feel clean again. You move forward, not on.
  • Along with this, I had to learn that being beaten up by the world doesn’t make me dirty. For reasons I don’t know, my entire life I’ve thought that if I remained untouched or innocent of certain things in the world then I was clean. But the moment I broke I was dirty, the moment I let the world hurt me I was dirty. To this day I still struggle with this and fall prey to it, but until I began struggling really badly with anxiety and depression I didn’t even know it was a thought pattern that I had. Becoming aware of it made a lot of things a lot clearer.
  • I learned to find joy in small or new things. I learned to dig the joy out of small moments. I went on this crusade to discover new things and find the joy in learning and discovery. This discovery of new things to love and find joy in is a great strategy that I still use.
  • I learned that sometimes we just have to go for certain things – even if we aren’t ready. A few months after this breaking moment the time came for me to move areas in my mission. I was terrified because even though I’d been struggling so badly, at least everything in my life was familiar. I felt I had come so far and I was scared that a move would take me right back to square one. But even though I wasn’t ready I went forward with faith, and it ended up being one of the best parts of my mission. I didn’t feel ready, I was still so trapped inside my own head, but I went for it anyway.
  • I learned to hang on to words. Because my brain/body is so crazy steeped in emotion, I had to learn how to hang on to facts. For me, this came in the form of words. That way, even in the black moments there were words I could remember. As a person who loves words, this was an especially effective strategy for me. Even when I wasn’t feeling great, when my emotions were so dark and so overpowering, I could remember words, comforting words from others or from God, and get through it.

dream of sunlightThis is definitely my longest post to date, and if you’re still with me, thank you so much. The end of my story is an interesting one. And since I’ve dropped you this novel I’ll give you the short version – I mostly “recovered” from this breaking moment for a few really wonderful months that are very precious to me. I met great people and had so many wonderful adventures. I eventually experienced a relapse, however, and became so ill that I had to return home. I had to sort of begin again with my recovery process, but all the things I had learned about anxiety/depression and myself made it much easier.

Anxiety/depression aren’t things that you ever 100% recover from. They are things that you learn to live with and manage. Some bouts are more serious than others. And you do your best to move forward step by step even if you don’t care, even if you’re surrounded by darkness. Hang on to the words, the facts that you do know. Remember that you aren’t alone, even in the moments when you realize that nobody is there to save you. Because even if you can’t believe or feel that you’re not alone, it is still the truth. That’s the beauty of truth: it is the truth no matter how we’re feeling. That’s been a huge comfort to me in my own journey.

Much Love.

Just Writing

For the Red Haired Girl

For the Red Haired Girl

sun peeks over a white horizon
evergreen twinkling in the window
your red hair tumbles down around your shoulders, love
your picture in my heart because

believe me, you’re stunning
and I’m thinking that I wish your eyes could always hold
this gleam
your world is wide open
and it be a joy to watch you as you live
your dreams

your smile’s brighter than all the corners
you’ve never been afraid of a dark day
a day might come when the sunlight goes
when you’re broken and tired and nothing’s okay

the tide pulls so hard now
and all the light is drowning in a sea of
blacks and greys

keep hold of the memory of the sunlight, my dear
you have nothing to fear

please keep that memory in your pocket
what’s meant to be will always find a way
please keep that memory in your pocket
what’s meant to be will always find a way

sun peaks over a while horizon
evergreen twinkling in the window
red hair’s gleaming in the new sun like ruby gold
waters recede and you’re going home

please keep this newness in your heart, now
it will help you if you happen to forget
please keep this newness in your pocket
what’s meant to be will always find a way

I'm Just Saying

‘Til the A.M

Summer 2017 was the summer of stars, drives, and songs.

night skyI honestly don’t know how many times my friends and I had what we term “rooftop sessions”. We’d get in my car and just drive, drive anywhere. And eventually, we would pull over somewhere, open the sunroof, and sit on top of my car. From up there, the world looked a little different, and the stars were a little brighter.  We were often surrounded by fields of some kind, in the quiet of a beautiful summer night.

And we would listen to music.

Usually One Direction, or Harry Styles’ new album. (We’d have listened to Niall’s, too, if it had been out. Can you even believe how wonderful it’s doing?! I’m so incredibly proud. But that’s a conversation for another time.)

And we’d have all kinds of conversations, about all sorts of things. Sometimes they were deep conversations and sometimes they weren’t. But those moments, surrounded by my friends, the beautiful summer night, and music in the background are memories I will treasure forever.

I’d also always look for a shooting star.

I had an absolutely amazing experience one night during a rooftop session that had to doshooting star with a shooting star. As we sat there, listening to our music, I was praying. I was expressing to God how I was feeling. I was asking Him about answers He’d given me, and telling Him that I had faith. I was telling Him that more than anything I wanted what He wanted for me. I wanted to remain faithful so that He could keep His promises. And as I finished saying this prayer, an incredible shooting star with two tails shot across the sky.

Call it what you will, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

And ever since then, I look for a shooting star whenever I get a moment to look at the night sky. And every time I see one it is just one more reminder from God about all the wonderful things He’s done for me and all the answers He’s given me.

It’s part of what made those rooftop sessions so beautiful.

One of our favorite songs to listen to during a rooftop session is the song “A.M” from 1D’s last album together. It’s an absolutely beautiful song, and if you haven’t heard it I implore you to set aside whatever atrocity has lived inside of you to make this your reality and go listen to it.

track 17But remember that music is incredibly important to me, and so when I ask you to listen to a song I need to really listen to it. Drink in the lyrics, let the music itself wash over you. Experience this song in every way that you can. All too often people take listening to somebody’s favorite song too lightly. If you learn anything from me, learn how to really listen to somebody’s favorite song and all that it says about the way they’re feeling.

Anyway, I’m not sure what it is about this song, but it strikes a chord deep in my heart. I’d post the lyrics for you right here and now if I thought it would penetrate your heart the way it penetrates mine.

One of my good friends just finished reading the novel I recently finished. Late one night as she read, she sent me a video. She was reading about the couple in the novel and said to me, “If they had a song it would be ‘A.M’. It’s perfect for them. They’re perfect.” I honestly couldn’t have ever been given a better compliment about my writing.

Essentially, this song is about people having a conversation late into the night. The lyricsa.m imply that it is about two people who love each other, who have been through a lot. It is about them talking late into the night, and into the morning. It is about how they always come back to each other. It’s about that enduring quality of love. One line says, “You know I’m always gonna look for your face.”

It is a sweet song, so sweet and full. Really that’s the best way I can describe it. Just full. The song talks about how these conversations sometimes don’t mean anything, and how sometimes they have no clue where they’re headed or anything. But underneath it all there is a sense of surety in the person they are with.

Won’t you stay ’til the A.M.?
All my favorite conversations
Always made in the A.M…

 

 

For Laughs

“Don’t Even Get Me Started”

This phrase – don’t even get me started – is a very well known and well-used member of my vocabulary. Call it the veteran if you will.

Now the reason behind this is pretty self-explanatory.  You see when you first meet me it’s pretty easy to mistake me for a shy person. I’m an introvert, and as such, I hate meeting new people. My biggest thought when it comes to meeting new people is usually, “But wait. I already know people. My people capacity has been reached.” Unfortunately, the universe has consistently seen fit to ignore my people capacity.

So if you’re persistent enough to actually get to know me, you’ll come to understand a few things.

  1. I’m really not shy. Like…at all.
  2. I actually have quite a bit to say about life in general.
  3. And as a general rule, it’s best not to ask me what any of those things are because I will tell you. And it will be rather emphatic.

So here’s how it normally goes: some kind of topic will somehow come up in the natural flow of a conversation. And I will immediately say, “Don’t even get me started.” Now the fact that I have developed this self-regulating mechanism is actually a source of pride for me. Truly.

However.

It hasn’t gotten to the point where it continues to be self-regulating. Let me explain: after I say this phrase it is totally up to whoever I am talking to to decide whether or not I actually get started.

Those closest to me generally respond in one of two ways:

  1. They think it’s hilarious when I “get started” so they sit there very patiently in silence, waiting for the topic to begin bubbling under my skin so as to drive me crazy until I explode. And therefore “get started” anyway.
  2. They change the subject as quickly as they can, saving themselves from the very passionate rant that will surely follow if they don’t act immediately.

I’m telling you all of this because today I’ve got the blogging itch. I’ve got this itch to blog and it’s been driving me nuts ALL DAY LONG. I’ve had at least 47 topics all vying for attention in my head today. If I were a better writer, I’d think of some very clever way to connect all of these topics into a glorious blog post that would existential your mind to pieces.

But that’s not going to happen because I’ve gotten started and this is where it ends people.

  1. I have a friend who pushes herself too hard. Plain and simple, she pushes herself too hard. She holds herself to an impossibly high standard because in her head if she isn’t working so hard that she nearly dies then she isn’t doing her best. If she isn’t working so hard that she can’t see straight then she’s a failure. If she doesn’t spend at least 10 hours studying for the test that we both have to take this week then she’s not doing all she can do. And as much as I love her, and I do with all my heart, I can’t tell her enough times how absolutely absurd this is. Nobody can live life on 150% all the time. Nobody can and nobody should. We have to give ourselves some grace and decide what is and is not worth our time. And not be so hard on ourselves.
  2. Do you ever have those days when you are just drowning in memories? Every now and again this happens to me, and it usually isn’t the same memories or the same times. Some days I feel like I’m reliving my religious mission all over again. Other times it is memories from my time at my previous university. And no matter how hard I try I just can’t escape them. I spend the entire day in a memory field. Honestly, it doesn’t happen that often. But I’m not the only one this happens to, right?
  3. The Prince in Snow White. OH. MY. GOODNESS. There are very, very, very few things on this earth that I have such passionate negative feelings about. But this character is one of them. And I’ll tell you why: he is the most WORTHLESS character that was EVER created in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD. He shows up for five minutes, sings a song, leaves, and then at the end, he shows up and is all, “Oh, I sorta remember her. She looks dead. Maybe I’ll kiss her and see what happens.” Then he gets the girl – because he did absolutely nothing except smooch her – like he is the hero of the day. He is worthless and stupid and stupid. He got way better than he deserved. He is worthless and stupid. The dwarves were totally the heroes of that story. The prince is worthless and stupid.

So I know that I said there were about 47 topics in my head, and that – though a slight exaggeration – was quite true. Has been true, in fact, all day. But now that I’ve written this out, I think those were the most important.

As far as all the other ones go, though, don’t even get me started.