I'm Just Saying

Just Do It, Please?

I have so many things going on inside of my head tonight. And if I’m being honest I have absolutely no idea how to get any of them out. I have begun this post three or four times and gone back and forth about whether or not to post anything tonight.

Earlier tonight I had a really great idea about what to post. I think it was going to be really wonderful, and I was quite excited about it. And then after three or four hours of homework in which I read two very shaking short stories and a 23 page article about Confucianism, I could no longer remember what this blog post idea was.

But still, I felt the need to come on here and say some of the things that have been rolling around in my head the last few days.

I’m not sure why.

Sometimes I feel this burning need to get something out, to say something that has been nagging at me. And I just know that after I get it posted and somebody out there reads it, something in the world is going to change. Maybe I’ll change somebody’s life and they’ll be inspired to act on my words.

I can’t say that this has ever happened in the years that I’ve been blogging. I also can’t say that it hasn’t, but I digress.

I’m fairly certain that I wanted to post something spiritual. You are all aware of how religious I am, and that my religion plays a huge role in my life.

Do you ever feel like you just say the same things over and over again in your creativity? I don’t even want to know the number of times I have posted something to the effect of:

Just do it. If God tells you to do something, do it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, there are unknowns. Sure, it’s scary. But there will never be a time in your life when you’re completely ready for something. There will never be a time when you know all the answers. Life is too short to wait around for whatever it is you’re waiting around for. Trust that God has a plan and He knows what He’s doing. And if you happen to do something really stupid and not do what you’re supposed to do, then get back on the path of doing what He told you to do. It’s never too late with God.

And since my mind is now blank, I’m just going to trust that this was, in fact, what I was meant to write to you all tonight. Even though I’m quite sure this is just me giving you the same post I’ve given you a million times. But if I am supposed to write it again, I can only assume from a spiritual perspective that that means that one of you isn’t getting the message.

Whoever you are, just do whatever it is you’re supposed to do. Please?

For Laughs · I'm Just Saying

Imma Be Honest

Imma be honest with all of you:

Sometimes I get so ridiculously tired of blogging.

But I have this thing where I’ve been writing this blog for almost…four (?) years now and thinking of blog posts is just a part of who I am now.

However.

bad decisionsI don’t really know what’s going on inside my head, or what the cause is, but for whatever reason the last couple of days I have just been so, so, so mad. Just mad.

Have you ever woken up absolutely furious?

I still can’t decide if I would recommend the experience or not, but I’ll get back to you assuming that at some point in the near future I don’t wake up furious. One of the objects of this anger has been my blog.

I guess that for some reason I always thought it meant something, but I’m not sure it does. I guess I always wanted to write these posts that rattle everything inside of me while also putting it all into place, and somehow everything in my life causing the rattling would just fix itself. It would be like the universe saying, “Yo. I read your blog. And all those things you’re working towards and waiting for? Here they are. Stay golden.”

Actually, that’s never happened. Maybe the universe isn’t following this blog.

I’m fairly certain that I’m trying to be funny in this post. And that the fact that I’ve been absolutely furious for three days straight is also quite funny. Not sure. Nothing really feels funny right now, but the part of me that usually finds most things funny is assuring me that it’ll all be funny soon.

When I feel this way, I just constantly have to remind myself to remain focused on what I know. Just remain focused on the answers I received, do my best to avoid falling into sadness (which is so easy when life feels uncertain), and just continue doing good things and doing what I know makes me content.level of hell

I will say with complete confidence that I’ve been doing this remarkably well in recent months. I’m actually proud of myself for all I’ve been able to do.

But the last three days I’m just mad.

I think it’s an experience I only recommend if it doesn’t last too long. Sometimes you just have to drive through town wearing your sunglasses and mean face. With the bass turned way up and your rap music blaring. Actually, I’d recommend that experience on any day, but on days like this, it is an entirely new level of satisfying.

Stay golden.

 

Just Writing

The Leaf

The Leaf

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on the high branches

one day she changed
to vibrant red and gold

she merely thought it was her time
the time she’d waited for

she didn’t know
she was about to die

in hues of majesty
she held onto her branch

overlooked the forest
and understood contentment

she watched her change
and was happy

she didn’t know
she was about to die

a wind came from the south
carrying black clouds

but she didn’t have strength
to hold on

it had been sapped
the colors had weakened her

she knew
she was about to die

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on high branches

one day the red and gold betrayed her
and she fell to the ground

and shattered on the forest floor
nothing to catch her

she hadn’t known
what it felt like to die

and there, upon the ground
the leaf stayed forever

ever slowly falling apart
blending into the brokenness

she watched the long life of others
saw their contentment

she watched as they knew
that they would never die

 

 

I'm Just Saying

The Way It Is

I have a secret love in my heart for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I wish I didn’t sound like such a typical woman admitting that, but I suppose that’s just the way it has to be.

balconyThe sad thing about Romeo and Juliet is how overdone it is. Pure and simple, everything about that play is overdone. The play is overperformed, there have been far too many movie adaptations, and the discussions surrounding it are also over much. Simply put, everything coming out of this play is just a little bit extra.

Which shouldn’t be surprising considering the fact that it’s about two people who would rather die than be without one another.

If you’re a human alive in this world, you know the story of Romeo and Juliet. And you also know everything that has been said about it. I believe that the most popular thing to say about this is: that’s just hormones.

Well. Okay then.

I’m sorry, but I’ve never bought this argument and I never will. I don’t really care how old Romeo or Juliet are supposed to be. Never have. Never will. Call me crazy, but I’ve just always looked at the play as a rather tragic love story. Kind of how Shakespeare wrote it. Shocker.

You can also attribute the reconciliation of a terrible feud to hormones, too. Probably.

A few years I ago I saw this play again, and even though I’ve always loved it, for some reason this particular time it really struck me. I mean, it really, really struck me. And I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I couldn’t fathom it, really.

Love.

They loved each other so much. They really, truly did. So much that everything they had always been taught or told didn’t matter because they had found their other half. And they were willing to throw everything away for that. Both of them had very bright futures within their families and sphere of influence.

I remember getting to the end and just crying.infinite love

And in my prayers later that I night, I was talking to God about it. And, bless His heart, I just sat there and cried some more. I remember praying about this story, about these characters. Even though it isn’t real. The lessons are incredibly powerful. I remember praying and asking that one day I’d be able to know what it was like to love that way.

A bold choice of words, coming from somebody who already feels things very deeply.

(Like super deeply. You guys don’t even know. It’s exhausting most days. There are so many times when I just want to look myself in the eye and be like, “Okay. If you could not feel so many feelings ALL. THE. TIME at this insane intensity that’d be great.” Unfortunately, I have a red hot don’t-tell-me-what-to-do streak and it also applies to myself. I’m working on that, though.) Looking back on it now I’m not altogether sure I really thought that one through. But hey, that’s life sometimes.

But I digress.

This last week I’ve had two very powerful moments that keep resurfacing in my thoughts. Both of them are just statements that really touched my heart. And I think the point of this whole post is to make sense of them. So bear with me.

The first was a statement from a book I finished reading this week. Now I have read this book at least 800 times. In fact, I’ve read this book so much that I can skip around and find all my favorite parts. I’ve read this book so much that I know the story as well as if I’d written it myself. I’ve read this book a lot. That’s all I’m saying.

But as I was rereading it this week, a phrase I had never noticed before hit me in the face.

second balconyThe main character is talking about the man that she loves. They have a very unique bond. One that surpasses your typical love story. Because all of the forces in the universe try and pull them apart. Literally, everything is working against them and both of them know that no matter what, even if they were to never see one another again, they belong to one another. That they were made for one another.

It is suggested to the main character several times that she ought to move on and forget him, to find somebody else and try and live as happily as she can. And in the course of these conversations she finally says something like:

Once you give your heart, you never get it back. Once given, it is gone forever.

The other phrase was something that my older sister said to me. I’ve been staying with her, her husband, and their two toddlers this week, helping out with the wheat harvest. Now my sister and her husband are an interesting story because on paper they shouldn’t work. But they do. Good grief, they are so perfect for each other it can be a little painful. Honestly. She was talking to me about it the other day as we drove through town, and she said,

We were just supposed to be together. We were meant for one another. That’s just the way it is.

And that is the truth. A lot of things were combining against them, and somehow they still pulled through. There was a moment when it got hard and they ended things. I don’t know the full story but I remember my brother-in-law said something like, “I just don’t know if I can be the man you deserve.” His past was haunting him, and he didn’t know if he could do it.

Obviously, things worked out because they are married now and have two beautiful boys. I think after a while he finally came back to her and said, “I know what kind of man you deserve and I know that with your help I can be that man. I’m a better me when I’m with you.” So they got back together and pushed through the unknowns and the past hurts as a team. And today they are the best example of a beautiful marriage that I’ve ever seen.

It’s so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes.

The reason I began this post with all my thoughts about Romeo and Juliet is that I think it never did run smoothillustrates these two ideas. They knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they belonged together. They were meant for one another. Once they had truly given their heart they weren’t going to get it back. But then again Shakespeare also wrote, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: the course of true love never did run smooth.

The tragedy of their love story lies in the fact that it took their death for love to win. I think it illustrates an absolutely beautiful point and was probably written to do so. It shouldn’t have taken that much for love to heal.

But at the same time, love like that isn’t easily found or given or maintained. Just like my brother-in-law realized, it can be really hard. And far too often a lot of painful factors get in the way and it can seem hopeless. But as he also realized, that type of love is also worth it.

That’s just the way it is.

 

I'm Just Saying

Just Revise, Please

I have an announcement to make. Everybody stand back and listen:

This week I finished my novel.

It is done. It is finished. I have finished it. One year after beginning it, this novel is finally done. I have had this story in my head for over a year now and this week I finished writing it.

It has been a very long time since I finished writing a novel, and I forgot how amazing it feels. I forgot how crazy it is to plan a part of a novel and then be actually able to write that part of the novel.

The end of this novel is like a bomb. Seriously. Everything just falls apart real quick. Seriously. It gets put back together fairly quickly, but the falling apart part is absolutely crazy. For a year I’ve been worried about writing these parts.

There are two parts in particular where my main character just kind of runs into a wall of reality. And the thing about writing things like this, at least for me, is that there doesn’t need to be a lot of fluff. It just happens. Kind of like running into a wall would actually feel.

I’ve been wondering about these two parts of the novel for the last year and hoping that when it was finally time to write them that I’d be able to convey everything all of the characters were feeling. I think I was able to do well. I feel quite confident about the project as a whole.

One thing that I really wanted to do for this book is eliminate unnecessary things. So if something did not directly contribute to the plot I did not include it in the story. Imagery is something I love in my novels, and is one of my strong suits as a writer.

But since I know it is something I’m better at I also know that I tend to get carried away with it. So it was actually really refreshing to write this book and keep reminding myself not to get carried away with things that didn’t need to be there.

As a result, it feels very bam-bam-bam to me. I can’t really think of another way to put it. But another reason I did this is because my main character has a lot of these similar traits. She’s very honest, very straightforward, and doesn’t like to deal with things she feels don’t matter. So naturally, it seemed like a novel from her perspective would follow the same type of pattern.

But when you finish a novel, there is always one glaring question:

What now????

Well, obviously I’ve been tweaking it like crazy. Something happens to me when I’m finishing a novel where I finish the last chunk in record time. I think I wrote seven or eight chapters in two days or something insane like that. All of it is just fighting to get out of my head and so I just write like…I’m running out of time. (I would’ve been struck been lightning if I hadn’t used a Hamilton reference right there. If you know Hamilton you’ll understand. Also, if you do know Hamilton let’s talk and be best friends, if you don’t I’m sorry.)

So because I wrote a huge chunk of my novel in record time revising has definitely been a thing. There have been quite a few moments of, “Oh! I forgot to write this one thing!” Actually, the other night something really incredible happened to me. At 3 a.m awoke very suddenly and realized something I’d forgotten and had to fix it then and there. For reasons I’ll never be able to explain I’ve always wanted that to happen to me. It finally did.

The thought of rewriting this novel it makes me want to cry. It doesn’t matter that this is actually a thing serious writers do. In my head, I’m finished with it so rewriting isn’t even real. Heavy, heavy editing, moving around, rewriting parts, yes. But actually starting all over? How does one actually do that?

To all of you writers who actually rewrite your novels from scratch, I salute you.

If you need me I’ll be revising.

I'm Just Saying

Ed Sheeran & Harry Styles

music heartbeatI am definitely one of those people who have so many feelings that sometimes I just have to be like: just this song. This song. Listen to this song and feel what I’m feeling, please. Listen to this song and you will understand.

Actually, I can pretty accurately break my life into musical phases.

If I had to name the musical phases I’ve been through this year, well, considering the title of this post it shouldn’t really come as a shock.

Ed Sheeran kicked off the year for me. 2017 held so many promises for me, and Ed edSheeran seemed to be the only one who truly understood what all of those promises were. My days were filled with his songs. His songs accurately portraying everything I felt, somehow touching the deepest things I was experiencing.

I think I died and got reborn all at once when his new album entered my life. I will say with absolutely no shame that I listened to “Perfect” on repeat for probably two weeks. (Though “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” and “How Would You Feel” snuck in for several days during this time.) I’d never had an experience like that before. It was like Ed just knew. He knew everything that was going on in my life and decided to contribute to my newest discoveries.

As 2017 ages, I don’t want to say that Ed lied.

perfect lyricsBecause I honestly don’t think Ed Sheeran is capable of lying.

(In fact, on a completely nonrelated note, I’ve decided that someday I need to write some sort of official essay on the cultural phrase “cinnamon roll”. For those of you who don’t know what this phrase refers to, quite simply it refers to a person who is a cinnamon roll to the human world. Very pure, very good. Genuine hearted. In this official essay, or maybe even a dissertation who knows, I will use three examples of the human cinnamon roll: Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

I heard once that if you are doing the right thing, your path will always be harder. If perfect lyrics 2you’re doing the right thing, it will always be uphill. I guess there is comfort in that, but still. Why do you suppose it has to be that way? Actually, don’t answer that. I know the answer. I’m just complaining.

The next phase of 2017 was, you guessed it, Harry Styles.

Now I could probably write a very lengthy post about all of the things that I used to think about Harry Styles. Back when I was doing my “I can’t do what everybody else is doing just because they are all doing it” thing. (I’m still working on that, by the way, and getting better.) In fact, earlier in the summer my roommate and I were driving around. I distinctly remember driving through Wendy’s to get a chocolate frosty, and she tried to turn on a Harry Styles song.

I distinctly remember saying, “Is this Harry Styles? Bleh. Turn it off, please.”

Karma, ladies and gentlemen, has been a close companion of mine this year. And it hasn’t always been fun.

HarryNevertheless, Harry Styles and I are on good terms now. I’ll avoid the specifics of my enamored feelings there because this post is actually supposed to be about music. So let’s continue.

“Sign of the Times” broke my heart wide open. Thanks, Harry. I honestly think I just cried when I first heard it. And then another time, my roommate and I went for another drive, and she played “Ever Since New York”.

I seriously doubt that she expected me to burst into tears and wail, “Who did this?? Who hurt him?? Why would you ever, ever, ever hurt Harry Styles??!!”

I’m not sure what it is about that particular British gentleman, but literally everybody I know has the fiercest urge in the world to protect him at all costs. Like, if I could protect Harry Styles from all of the bad things in the world then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again.

Oh, right. This post is about music.

Anyway, after Ed was no more, Harry Styles swooped in to two hearts lyricsave the day. Harry’s new album is quite honestly just gold. Don’t even get me started on “Sweet Creature”. It is too pure for words.

Because my emotions are so intense, I have to find periodic times when I can give myself an allotment of feeling. “Two Ghosts” is usually the song I listen to. You may think I’m kidding but I’m not. I sit in my car, turn on that song, and say to myself, “Self, you may have all the feelings you want for the next three minutes and forty-nine seconds.” About…5.5 times out of ten it does the trick.

two ghostsOkay, but am I the only one who hears “Two Ghosts” and just dies a little bit for Harry???? I just want to be like, “Bro! Go after this woman! Go after her! You’ll remember how to have a heartbeat, I promise! Go get her!”

Alright, if this post has taught me anything it is that I obviously need to write a separate post detailing all of my feelings about particular songs by Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles. Maybe that’ll be coming your way soon.

I have been writing my novel fiercely the last few weeks. And if I keep at it, I’ll be finished with it very soon. That’s both exhilarating and frightening. But I can’t wait. Someday you’ll have to remind me to tell you what music I listened to the majority of the time that I wrote this book. It will blow you away.

And now I’ve come to the end of this post. Go listen to some Ed and Harry.

I'm Just Saying

Palace Views

14375342_1898733117020628_440956483_oA year ago today, I set foot in London, England for the first time. And realized I was home.

I went to England for three weeks on a study abroad tour with the English department at my university. We spent the first several days in London, and continued from there. Each Sunday that we were there we attended church. On the last Sunday I remember sitting in the meeting and weeping. I remember silently praying, talking to God about a lot of different things.

I remember praying, “How can I do it? How can I leave here? I’ve never felt such a sense of belonging in my life. How can I leave, Father? How?”

Then I prayed, “And you’re probably so tired of hearing about my problems. You’re probably so done hearing about the same concern over and over again. Even though I’m here in England I’ve still been praying about it and I’m sorry.”

More tears just came pouring out of my eyes. I thought the woman next to me was going to have to pull out her umbrella. “Please,” I finished, “I can’t leave. I don’t know how to leave this behind.”

The thing was, even as I was caught up in this sorrow, I felt a peace I’d never experiencedPhone Pictures 707 before. To be honest, this peace settled over my heart the instant I arrived in England and never left the whole time I was there. But in this moment, I felt so much genuine sadness. I was so grateful to be there. So, so incredibly grateful. I had known that I would feel that way. In fact, much of my life my parents had been reluctant about letting me travel to England because, as my mother once said, “You’ll go there and realize it’s your home. And then you’ll never come back.”

She was right. Because a part of me is still there, and it’s never coming back.

But as I spoke this prayer, and felt this peace, I also heard something. Very distinctly.

“I’ll never get tired of hearing you speak to me about anything. I don’t care if you say the same prayer all day every day if that’s the prayer of your heart. And I know you’re sad. I know it’s hard. And I’m right here with you. Don’t worry. This isn’t the end.”

Phone Pictures 927My time in England was the happiest time of my life up to that point. It was so much more for me than just seeing things I’d always wanted to see. It was so much more than a great thing I got to experience.

It was the very first time in my life where I saw dreams coming true. It was the very first time in my life where I wasn’t just waiting for my turn. (What can I say, I grew up in a big family. Waiting my turn has always been and will always be the story of my life.) It was the very first time when something completely spectacular, something beautiful, something so, so incredibly good that fed my soul, happened to me.

It was the first time that I realized good things could actually happen to me. And not just to everyone else. I think that the combination of me being number 8 of 10 children and also a writer has doomed me to a life of observation. I have always just been a watcher. I’ve watched things happen to other people my whole life, with me just standing on the fringes.

My deepest held desire has always been that one day it would be my turn.

You see, when your time finally comes, it is so much more than just seeing the sights. It is about dreams you’ve had your whole life coming true. It is about prayers you’ve whispered through tears finally being answered. It is about finally inhabiting a place in the universe you’ve only seen others step into. It is about joy so pure and full that you think your heart will burst. Joy you’ve waited your turn for your entire life.

This last year has been a year of it finally being my turn for a lot of things.

And it all started with England. England welcoming my soul home. England teaching mePhone Pictures 843 that it is about so much more than just the surface of what’s happening to you. England teaching me that it is actually about dreams coming true, prayers being answered, long awaited joy bursting your heart. England letting me go in a very painful moment, but whispering that it wouldn’t be for long.

I remember standing in Hampton Court Palace, only a few days into the trip, looking around me in complete awe. My heart was so full, my head buzzing. I couldn’t get enough of the view.