Hide & Seek

As number eight of ten children, I have played a fair amount of hide and seek in my lifetime. There would be games where there were six or seven of us all playing hide and seek together throughout the house. And let me tell you, even though hide and seek sounds like a tame pastime it was not. It got wild. In fact, at one point my mother had to officially ban hide and seek in our home, and from then on we had to ask permission to play it.

boardwalkMy brother’s favorite hiding spot was in the very top of the linen closet in the hallway. It was a giant closet full of the ridiculous amount of linen it takes to maintain a family of 12. And he would climb to the very top and hide among all the blankets and sheets.

We had a window seat in the hallway with a bench you could climb into. That was a popular hiding spot if you could get somebody to help you rearrange all the cushions and pillows back on it after you hid inside. The sock basket in the laundry room was also a very popular spot. It was exactly what it sounds like: a gigantic basket full of the number of socks it takes to maintain a family of 12. (We have long since upgraded to a different method when it comes to socks.) But again, that took cooperation from your fellow players.

Can you see now why my mom banned the game? I never got it until I was older.

It was usually fairly easy to find the first few people. But my older siblings were always the best at hiding, of course, and so if it ever began to take too long to find somebody we’d have to shout, “Give me a hint!”

It was then the privilege of whoever had picked such a good spot to make whatever noise they deemed necessary to lead us to them. It was usually some variation of a high pitched hoot.

I’ve been thinking for some time now about all of this, and about how life can seem very much like a game of hide and seek sometimes. I think that, as humans, we tend to get caught up in the fact that we’re all looking for things. And how we can’t always seem to find them right away.

And the entire world is stuffed to the brim with cliches about how life isn’t about always seeking and you should enjoy the journey and blah blah blah. Not that I am knocking these cliches. It is my firm opinion that cliches exist for a reason. So don’t disregard the cliches.

However. The older I get, the more I come to realize how individual life is. We are all lighthouseconnected in so many ways, I believe much more than we know. And yet life isn’t a “one size fits all” type of thing. It just isn’t. Everybody’s story is different. I believe that there are lessons each one of us needs to learn. But we all learn them differently. And thus, nobody’s life is exactly the same.

Another thing I have learned is that in so many situations you have to do what is best for you. That could mean a lot of things, but at the end of the day, you have to live with yourself. Your personal wellbeing is what is really important.

I think that in today’s world this idea can get over exaggerated to the point of selfishness. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about living the life you’re supposed to live and waking up every morning knowing that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

And the thing about life is that we all make mistakes. We all do things that we sort of regret or really regret or crazy deeply regret. But that’s just the way it is. Our tendency to do human things doesn’t change the truth of what is really in our hearts and souls. We are so much more than a bundle of substances. You only have to look deep into somebody else’s eyes to see that.

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I was the worst seeker in the hide and seek game between my siblings. It seemed like it took me hours to find everybody. And life feels like that sometimes, too. You feel like you fail over and over again to find something or get somewhere you think you should be. But the reality of it is that you’re just living your life, walking down your own path. And that’s going to look different for you than it does for others.

I heard it said once that if we could hang everybody’s troubles up on a clothesline you would choose your own every time. I have always found this very interesting, and yet very true every time I really think about it.

As a general rule, I think that we tend to be our own worst enemies. And that isn’t fair.

I was told recently that a lot of my views would only work in an ideal world. It hurt me pretty deeply until I thought about it some more. And then it was pointed out to me: shouldn’t we be striving for the ideal? We are imperfect people in an imperfect world, italybut shouldn’t we always be trying for something better?

And I think that’s the key. You may feel lost or you may feel that you can’t find your way. But if you do your best, whatever that might be from day to day, then you’re striving towards the ideal. And it isn’t always enough to tell yourself that everything is going to be okay. Even though it absolutely will be. You are okay and you are enough today. Right now. Just as you are. Any steps you take should just be in order to illuminate what is already beautiful.

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Darling, Just Hold On

I have drafted this post probably ten times. Each time gets more confusing and way more wordy than it needs to. The idea I’m trying to convey is not a complex one. But for some reason, it has been hard for me to accurately explain myself.

There is a trend in humanity that I am not fond of. I have thought about it quite a lot, and collageI can’t decide if it is a product of our times or if it is a product of being human.

It is the idea of cutting people out of your life.

To be completely truthful, I almost can’t go a single day without seeing something posted somewhere on social media about how people are toxic and you need to cut them out of your life. About how people wrong you and make your life horrible so you need to cut them out of your life. Good grief, I could probably write a novel on all of the things that people say about other people and how they aren’t good for any of us.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I have a fairly long list of people who used to be in my life who are no longer actively in my life. I understand that this is a thing that happens as a product of living. We grow apart from people, we don’t live nearby them, life takes us in different directions. Whatever the case may be, there are a million things that happen. But this isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about that moment when you look at your relationship with somebody and have to actively decide whether or not you are going to keep them in your life.

Of course, many of you are probably thinking that I am referring to romantic relationships, but this can apply to any relationship. I have at least three people on my mind that this post applies to, and all of them are very different people and have very different places in my life. So apply it freely. Take my experiences for what they may be worth in your life and realize that what has proven to work and be true for me may not be what you need. I understand that, too.

But sometimes we just have to hold on. darling

Because haven’t we all been there? Haven’t we all been the toxic one at least once? Haven’t we all been the one that our friends or partners or family probably would’ve been happier without, even for a little while? We all make mistakes because we are all human.

There are times when walking away is completely and totally the overwhelming answer. There are experiences when it is the best thing for you to do, the only thing that will make your life better, happier, and more fulfilling to live. I’ve had experiences like that, too.

I guess what I’m saying is that you need to know the difference. You need to be completely sure. Know when you need to walk away, and know when a person is absolutely supposed to be in your life regardless of the hard times that may develop feel like homebetween you.

There are going to be times when people do things that hurt us. There are going to be times when it feels like it might not be worth it. But for the right people, the people who bring a foundation into your life or the people that help throw back the curtains of clouds to let the sun shine or the people who feel like home, it is always worth it.

So, darling, just hold on.

Thoughts On Plan B

townOne of the reasons I decided to study history was because of how much it changes. The past may be set in stone, but there is so much about it that is different every single day. We discover new things, learn about new perspectives, and uncover lost truths. And through it all, we are constantly building the story and the identity of the human race.

I find it incredibly beautiful.

And one of the reasons that I am a writer is because of the same thing. I love meeting new characters and figuring out what their stories are. I love seeing their perspectives. I love being able to figure out how the words will fit together so that what I’m actually trying to say is said.

There is something I have often struggled with in writing that I have never struggled with in history. And this is the problem of originality.

I have fallen into the trap so many countless times of thinking that whatever I write has to be totally and completely unique. But the truth about literature is that this isn’t really a thing. We take elements that already exist and we create a story in the way that we wish it to be told. It is the way that we put them together and the way that we say what we need to say that makes a story different and individual.mountain

For some reason, I’ve always understood this about history but never about literature.

Do you ever look up at the stars at night and wonder? I once read something that said that whatever your mind goes to when you’re looking at the stars or the ocean is where your heart truly is. Perhaps this is true sometimes and not others, because the child in me will, every now and again, look frantically for the Big Dipper when I look at the stars and I can promise you that isn’t where my heart is.

And sometimes when we are faced with something that vast it makes us look inwards and wonder what we are in relation to it.

Can I compare to a star? What does my life truly mean in the face of the countless ones a star lives through?

The last several days have been pretty hard ones. A lot of things that I struggle with have decided to come for a visit all at once, and it has been very hard. It is in times like these when I start to question absolutely everything. I look back at posts I wrote when I was doing well and wonder how I was naive enough to have that kind of hope.

Of course, this is ridiculous. But that’s what I think.

planI realized something about myself this week. And it is this: I am a Plan B-er. I am. 100% completely and thoroughly and absolutely. I am a Plan B-er.

Let me explain.

I have this picture in my head. This very special, sacred picture, of what I want my future to be like. Of what I believe would be the very best future for me. The future that would help me learn and grow, but also make me wildly happy. I have this picture. I very rarely look at it or entertain the notion of it, because if I’m being honest, too much of me doesn’t really believe it will happen. I believe in how incredible it would be. But a lot of me likes to whisper horrible things about it. That it’s a stupid picture and I should get rid of it.

And as terrible as this sounds, it is the way I’ve always been.

No matter what my dream was, and no matter how hard I believed in it or prayed about it and felt amazing in it: I always let a very horrible side of me dressed as practicality talk myself into believing that it was a joke.

And so I live my life for Plan B.

I think of the next best thing. Whatever would do its best at filling the void. Whatever would get me to the silver medal. And I plan on that. I pour over my plans for that. I tell everyone about them. And nobody ever knows that it isn’t even what I absolutely and truly want for myself.

And all the while I’m pouring over Plan B, in my deepest heart of hearts, I pray for Plan sunA. It is so deep inside my heart that sometimes I even forget about it. I just focus on Plan B and do whatever I can possibly think of to get there. And then sometimes, very late at night, when my mind is full of all the things I don’t let it think when the sun is shining, I remember Plan A.

And I say a prayer. And I hope. And I let Plan B go away until I’ll need it again the next morning.

I have realized this about myself, and I think it is something I should stop doing. Maybe you’re the kind of person who thinks that we should absolutely go for our Plan A, for our number #1 dream. And if so, you’d probably agree that this isn’t a very good mindset to have. So I’ll see what I can do about fixing that.

Space of Sky

If I lay very still, close my eyes, and breathe out everything that is crowding my head, one of two things always happens to me.

I always see myself somewhere. Every time. Sometimes I am in a green field. It is probably my favorite place to visit. It’s very beautiful there. And sometimes I see myself in a stretch of sky. Arms and legs outstretched, eyes closed. Floating.

Perhaps it is a form of meditation that causes me to go to these two places, perhaps my imagination. It could be any number of things, really. Maybe you have similar experiences, places that you go when you leave the world for a moment. And, like it is for me, maybe these places show you a bit more about yourself. And maybe they help you move forward when you come back to the world. And maybe they offer you the answers you can never seem to find elsewhere.

Whatever it is or whatever it may mean to you, to me these things that come to me are very special. They help me so much, and perhaps more than I even know.

Space of Sky

I am in a space of breathy blue and cloudy white
floating with arms and legs outstretched
filling the space my soul has already claimed
perhaps this space is the sky
but there is no box of ground and space
only me and the sky

Perhaps I fall very slowly downward
or maybe I rise
my hair ripples around me, my eyes are closed
peace and tranquility live here
it is as if every pore of my body and soul
is open to the space around me

It is the space of my higher self, I think
and such a lovely place
when it holds me in the embrace of stillness
I have no fears, and I have no doubts
every thought and feeling points to the same thing
if there are voices they whisper good things

Here in this place of soft light and sound
I am free from daily things
there exists no bubble inside of my chest
which holds all the things I do not say
no bridge of emotions instead of a diaphragm
helping me breathe forward

In this space of peaceful movement
there is no fierce longing for things unknown
there is no reckless passion
I do not ache for soil I haven’t touched
or yearn for words I haven’t found
I only am

When I come here, to my very own sky
I am empty, and also full
everything in my soul that I try to contain
spills over the edges and fills my sky
so that I am there inside myself
but also in everything around me

In this moment of my soul spilling outwards
and surrounding me
I realize that it is good
and fears are put to rest
it is as if all the bits and pieces can breathe
and my deepest self is clean

I see what I am
what I can become
I view time not in a line
but in a massive expanse of perspective
I feel the promise of eternity in my fingertips
I know where the truth lies

And for the briefest of moments
for the smallest of seconds
I am free
I am brave
I understand what I cannot
I am a soul ignited

The Blooming Heather

The first time that my parents visited Scotland, they brought me home a necklace. It is a very special kind of necklace. It’s called a heather gem. It is made from heather, that beautiful, purple plant that grows all over in that magical part of the world, and as such, each piece of jewelry is completely unique and individual.

all gems.jpgI was 14 years old.

It also happened that at that time in my life I was also in a very, very dark place. It was the first time I can remember feeling completely and utterly broken.

To make a long story short, my best friend decided one day that I wasn’t worth it. One day she was my best friend in the world. More of a sister to me than my own sisters. Closer to me than anybody in the world. In a way, she was my entire life. And then very quickly it was over. She was gone.

The story is long and not very complicated, but honestly, it was just hard. Plain and simple, it was so hard. I had to rethink my whole life in so many ways. We had been friends for so long and our lives were so tied together that I didn’t really know how to exist without her. To add to it, I didn’t really get any explanation. I didn’t get any discussion. She just turned off.

I remember my parents taking this trip to Scotland, and how excited our whole family was. Many of you will remember that my family is Scottish. It is something we’re very proud of. So when my parents finally took this trip, it was almost like the completion of something for our entire family. Even though we didn’t all get to go, we were all so happy about it.

I remember holding the necklace in it’s purple and white box. I looked at the shiny stone that had once been a plant. It was beautiful.

I wore that necklace every single day for years. It came to symbolize a lot of things for me. Mostly it helped me remember that I was more than the black moments. It helped me remember that there is something inside me that reaches further back and further forward than so many shattered pieces. It helped me remember every day that I didn’t need to be a different version of myself than I was. I only had to be me. And that was enough. heather in highlands

Years later, I got the amazing opportunity to visit England. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go to Scotland on my visit. But it was beautiful. If it were a poem, I’d say that my soul recognized the land.

And for some reason, I’ve had all of these thoughts on my mind tonight. I remembered the first time I learned what it feels like to be completely broken by the one person you thought you could trust. I remembered when I first got that necklace and the way it was somehow able to bring me back to life with all it symbolized.

Even though that time in my life was hard, I honestly don’t remember much of the hurt.

I just remember this incredible feeling of emerging. Of becoming somebody I could be proud of. I found dreams and let myself bask in the hope of them. I think that was the moment when I really started to become who I truly am.

And it was beautiful.

 

Religion, Macklemore, & Wine

Today I did something completely insane.

I scrolled all the way to the end of my blog. All the way to the very first post. Published on November 12, 2013, and titled “Fear No More” this post was about how it’s okay to love Shakespeare. To embrace the wonderful things he gave us and not shy away from his work, even in this day and age.

shakespeare loveWhy did I do this, you may ask?

Because I have been thinking about this blog incessantly lately. If I posted for the very first time in November of 2013, that means that we hit our five year anniversary this year.

What?

And I’ll be the very first to say it: this blog has been through SO many ups and downs. One of the great things about reaching my very first post, which took a lot longer than I’ll here record, is that I got to see how I’ve evolved in my writing in the last four and a half years. I got to see the things that I used to blog about. The things that used to excite me.

I used to be a very exuberant writer.

The number of exclamation marks. The language. Oh, glory. What a ride we’ve been through to develop the writing style that I know pose on this blog of mine. If you think it’s a little crazy now, scroll back a few years. I dare you.

My blog has been struggling recently.

I won’t deny that. In fact, I’ll be even more honest and admit that my blog has been dead for about a year now. I have blogging friends that I haven’t heard from in a million years. Do you suppose they’re still alive? hello neon

The reasons behind the death of the vitality of my blog are probably many and various, and to be honest I’m not sure if this post is the correct way to go about fixing it. I’ve admitted before how dead this blog has been for a while, and none of that seemed to do much.

Not that I’m complaining.

I love blogging and I always have. My blog has often been a great place for me to go to in order to create and express myself. It’s been invaluable to me for so many reasons.

When I first started blogging, one thing that I loved to do was write posts about specific things about myself. I’d tell people fun facts about me, or overall just try to be funny, in order to attract more followers and feel a little bit more validated.

So I thought I’d do that again today. Just for old time’s sake.

  1. I love God. I love Him so much. It’s not enough to say that my religion is important to me. It’s everything to me. It influences most of my decisions, if not all. My relationship with God is central to my life. I’d be completely lost without it. I love it that I know He is always there. That He loves me unconditionally and knows me perfectly. There is no greater comfort than that. I know that He has a plan for my life. And when I am following Him and doing the things I know I need to be doing to very best of my abilities, there is such a safety and comfort to life. God is so good. He is so, so good.
  2. I am a huge Macklemore fan. I am. Most people would never, ever guess that about geminime in a million years. But Macklemore is one of my most favorite people who has ever lived on this planet. I not only love his music, but I think he’s a great person. If you don’t follow him on Instagram, you should. It’s a treat. I love Macklemore.
  3. I love wine. I have never had wine. In fact, I’ve never drunk at all. No joke. Not a lie. 100% honesty. For religious reasons, I have never drank and I never will. It’s a belief that I hold very close to me, no matter how ridiculous it might sound to the outside world. But all of that being said, you will have a very hard time finding anybody in this world who loves wine more than me. I’m absolutely fascinated by it. If it were in any way possible, I’d be a key figure in the wine industry. I’m fairly certain it’s impossible to do that and also keep my religious standards, so that will have to remain a dream. But I think wine is totally amazing and incredible. I study it whenever I can. I have books about wine that I’ve read a million times. I study every wine menu I ever come in contact with. I love wine. I think it’s beautiful.

You’ll Bring Me Home

For the entirety of my university career, I have lived either three hours away from home or 30 minutes away from home. Neither of which is an exceedingly monstrous distance.

Interestingly enough, I actually went home much more often when I was three hours away than I do now when I’m 30 minutes away. I think that has to do with a combination of factors, age most likely being one of them.

It’s strange because as the black sheep of my family, I have most definitely spent a lot of time feeling like I don’t belong as a member of it. (Don’t tell anyone, but my family is so large that I usually refer to them as “the nation”, rather than “my family”.) Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of similarities with many of my siblings. I am very close with most of them. But I also happen to possess a lot of differences from the rest of my family. I won’t get into them here, because at the end of the day they really don’t matter. I am a member of my family and that is that.

Today I want to talk about home. And reality. And how they relate. I was going to do the thing where I write a huge post and make my point at the end, like always, but I’ll just tell you the point now:

Reality can be a very strange thing. And sometimes we have to realize that reality is different than we think it is.

I don’t have this experience every time I go visit my family, but it happens often enough that this observation has hit me again and again and again. So many times when I take a break from my crazy college life to return home and see my family, everything slows down. Everything stops to take a breath. And I realize something very important: that is REAL life.

The house a bit dusty at the end of the day because we live off a gravel road. My nieces and nephews raiding the pantry or begging for chocolate chip cookies because they know my mom always keeps them in a bag by the fruit. My younger sister playing with her dog before she makes him settle down for the evening. There is a stability and flow to the way things happen at home, no matter what different paths life takes us on.

And so often I get jolted out of my mindset. And I realize that so often the life I live at college isn’t real life. It isn’t what really matters. The acquaintances that come and go, the friends I may or may not know in years to come. So much of what makes up my life isn’t really real life. It isn’t the reality I’ll be living for the rest of my life.

And in many ways, that is what makes college special. It is a time for you to embrace that not-so-real reality you experience for a few years and see if you can get life a little figured out. It’s a chance for you to shake things up and see where you land.

But when all is said and done, and when all the dust settles, you’ll find yourself in real life. Experiencing what truly matters and what truly lasts.