Just Writing

Heartbeat Part 4

My broken heart has been a funny thing.

Actually, in case you didn’t get this, it hasn’t been funny at all. Like…at all. After one month, I expected to be better. I expected it to not hurt any more. I thought that by now I’d have moved on. I’d have forgotten. I’d be okay.

Well, that isn’t really the case. It still hurts so badly sometimes that I have to wonder how I made it this far. I still feel so confused about so many things. I’d still give anything to have it be different.

But God is teaching me things.

I’ve always been the type of person who could look ahead and see myself in the future. I’ve always been able to just see ahead. That hasn’t been the case for me recently. Every time I try and look ahead past the next hour, all I see is darkness. So I’ve been praying about this very sudden shift in my vision. And what do you suppose He said in response?

“Be patient.” God said. “I have a plan. I need you to trust me.” God has been pretty adamant about teaching me patience and trust in the last year and a half. Don’t even get me started. He keeps telling me things like, “I have everything under control. You work on you. Fix you. Leave the rest to me.”

You’d think that this would be easy.

Turns out it isn’t. It turns out that I like to be in control of my life a little bit more than I was aware of. So this moment in my life, when I can literally only see for one hour at a time, is really hard for me. It is really hard for me to simply let go. To trust that God has a plan, that ultimately He is in charge, and that no matter what happens in the near future it will all work out the way that it is supposed to.

I’ve realized that pretty much everything is easier said than done. This last month of my life has been so incredibly hard. There aren’t words for it, actually. I honestly wasn’t aware that a person could feel this kind of emotional pain and live through it.

But somehow my heart is still beating.

I wish I knew what the ending was. As an author, I’m pretty used to knowing the ending of things. I feel very out of my element right now. But God is teaching me things, so I have to trust Him. The truth is that I don’t know what the ending is. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or the day after that. And right now, I know that I’m not supposed to know. I’m just supposed to have faith. Trust God.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my hopes or desires. I was praying about them earlier today, in the middle of a particularly hard moment when I couldn’t believe it still hurt that badly. God let me know very quickly that He understands exactly where I’m at, and He’s got everything under control. I get this feeling that something big is coming in my life. Something wonderful, just around the corner, and I need to be ready for it. God is just asking for a little bit of faith and trust, and something totally amazing is going to happen. I know it. I have literally no idea what this something is. But I know that it’s coming. One of my best friends in the world, Adele, said to me today, “You don’t have to know what it is. You’ve been given all the answers you need. Just move forward, hour by hour.”

She’s right. She’s pretty much always right.

Sometimes the pain is so fresh, like it just happened yesterday. And it feels like I’m drowning in it. And I can’t get to help fast enough before I absolutely lose it and cry so hard I can’t breathe. Sometimes I feel so confused and angry I could scream.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t learned anything, though. There have been a ridiculous amount of blessings in my life in the last month. I’ve repaired relationships with siblings, become closer to my friends, spent much needed time with my grandparents, gotten a stronger relationship with my dad, and have had countless moments with God. He and I have talked so much about all of this. And it has been really wonderful. God is good, everyone. He is so, so good.

I’ve realized so many things about life.

I have realized that life is scary. And love is scary. And there are a million things to be unsure about and worried over. And I’ve also realized that there will never be a moment when you feel you are 100% ready. It’s going to be terrifying. There’s going to be things you don’t know. So many of them. But you just have to do it. Just jump. That’s all life is. A lot of jumping off cliffs when you only have the tiniest seed of faith in your pocket.

I have also realized that for too much of my life, my priorities were ridiculously out of wack. There’s a really long backstory as to why that was the case, but I spent so many years being bitter and angry about the things that are the most important. I don’t feel that way anymore. Not in the slightest. Those things I was so angry about, those things I was so scared of, they are all I want now.

God is teaching me so many things.

Tonight was hard. Today was hard. I left work with a very heavy heart. The steering wheel of my car got washed with a lot of tears tonight. My very wonderful roommate got bombarded with a lot of my pain tonight.

Then she suggested we go for a drive. We ended up on top of the hill in our city. We shut the car lights off, unrolled the windows, turned on some music, and sat on the hood of the car looking up at the sky. It was absolutely stunning.

I felt truly happy for the first time since it happened.

We talked about God. About how He has a plan, and ultimately He is in charge, and sometimes we just have to have faith that everything is going to work out. Right as we were saying this, an absolutely stunning shooting star zoomed across the sky right in front of us. It had two tails. I’m taking it as a sign.

We laughed a lot, too. I can’t even remember what about. All I know is that it felt good to laugh again. God has been feeding me constant support and hope recently. He has never left my side. He’s given me numerous answers, and always sent me help in the moments that I needed it most.

I know there is hope.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow. And it will probably hurt again tomorrow, because it hasn’t stopped hurting. But tonight I saw a shooting star.

And today God told me He has a plan. He asked for my patience. He asked for my faith. He told me He understood what my hopes, desires, and pain are, and He’s got it under control.

This is what He told me.

And for now that’s all I need.

I'm Just Saying

Don’t Look Back

For those of you who may not have been able to pick this up yet by reading my blog, I’ll just make your day and tell you. I am the type of person who often looks back.

new not going that wayWhat can I say? I study history FOR FUN. Of course I’m obsessed with looking back. It’s just what I do. While most of the time this is great and I get a very strange amount of joy from learning about the past, it can also be a great weakness, and something that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.

Looking back, like I said, can be a good thing. Without a past, who are we? But honestly, I think a lot of the time looking back is a very negative activity. We start overthinking and we wonder what we could’ve done differently in our lives or a host of other things.

The reason that I bring this up tonight is because, like I mentioned, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Mostly because of my brother. I have a brother just older than me who has been my best friend my whole life. We are so close in age that we were inseparable growing up. Whether we were dressed in everything camouflage ever made and playing army, or pretending we were spies and making gadgets with the random things my mom found in the drier, or sitting on the couch together watching movies, we were always together.

Inevitably, this closeness disappeared as we got older. My brother, though I love him with my whole heart, began making some really poor choices as we advanced into our teenage years. And as a result, I lost him. I’m not trying to get all hardcore and emotional over here, not this time, but I really did lose him.past hasn't changed

Even though we were still living in the same house, still siblings, still seeing each other all the time, he was gone. And to be honest, it has only been in about the last year that I, or my whole family for that matter, has really gotten him back. He was there the whole time, sure, but he wasn’t. It was as if he disappeared inside himself and he was just walking around as somebody else.

Things will never be the way they were, that’s just kind of how life goes. But my brother is back. He’s now doing great things, moving mountains, he’s dating an incredible girl he’s absolutely crazy about, and most of all, he’s happy. He’s back. And though we live far from each other and don’t see each other often, or talk as often as we should, he’s finally back.

better aheadAnd when it comes to the years that he was gone – horrible, hard years that were terrible for everybody and probably most terrible for him – we don’t look back. We’re not going that way, and there’s no need to. It isn’t that we don’t look back on them or talk about those years because it’s taboo or anything. There is just a feeling of wholeness, an it’s-okay-now feeling. There’s no need to look back. There is only looking forward.

While I’ve spent this post applying the “don’t look back” idea to negative times, I think it goes for positive ones as well. I am literally the queen of being THE WORST at making decisions. Seriously. Give me a life-altering decision and I’ll take some time getting back to you. In fact, it can get so insane that God usually starts preparing me weeks or even months (usually months) in advance so that when the time comes I’ve had a ridiculous though sufficient amount of time to think everything through.

I’m not kidding. (Though to be honest I usually end up going with the choice that scares me the most. The one I knew all along I’d go for.)

But decision making can also be great breeding ground for negative looking back. What are afraid ofwe going to do, we’re human. We just look back and wonder. But because this post is already a bit long, even for my Sunday night thoughts, I’m just going to do something I’m rather fond of and tell it to you straight:

Just don’t look back, okay?

Make the decision you know is right in the moment and stick with it. You won’t be sorry. You’ll just be really happy. Truth.

Don’t dwell on things that don’t matter anymore. Forgive and move on. It has worked for my family.

And that is all for this time everyone.

Don’t look back.

 

I'm Just Saying

Merry, Merry, Merry

Merry Christmas!!!

I have said it before and I will say it again, I absolutely love Christmas with all of my heart. One of the things that I love most about Christmas is the way that my family celebrates it. lights-and-snowChristmas does not end when December 25 is over. We not only celebrate all before Christmas, but we will be celebrating this entire week as well. We’ll be spending a lot of time together and enjoying the continuation of the holiday. Everybody wears their Christmas pajamas all week long, except for when we venture out to see a movie at the theater, and we eat lots of food and make lots of messes. We’ll share our Christmas presents with one another and think of creative ways to spend each day.

For reasons I’ll never be able to quite fully explain, this year was completely magical. I believe wholeheartedly that Christmas is a time that heals, uplifts, and inspires as well as a time that teaches about what is most important. We have the opportunity to become better, to see the world differently, and to me it has always seemed as though anything I could dream or imagine was close enough to reach out and grab.

Because Christmas has always had all of these aspects, for me it has also always been a hot-chocolatetime of deep reflection. It isn’t even the aspect of the New Year that does this for me. To be perfectly honest, New Year’s has never been as exciting for me. Maybe it’s that rebellious streak in me, but I’ve always found it annoying that people spend so much time celebrating new beginnings when we all tend to just drag the year before right along with us. That is why instead of making New Year’s resolutions of new things I’ll begin doing, I always choose one thing to let go of. It could be something as big as a bad habit or something as small as a grudge.

I’ve been thinking back on this last year a lot today. Wow, has it been something!! If you had told me last Christmas all the things I’d experience this year, I’d have been completely terrified and probably laughed in your face. I’ve fulfilled lifelong dreams as well as experienced a massive amount of heartbreak. Through it all, though, I’ve learned so many lessons and hopefully I’ve become a better person.

I feel so incredibly excited for this coming year. I have quite a few things I’d like to do, the most important among them is that I’d like to move to Stratford-Upon-Avon with some friends later in the year. We’re planning on being there for two to three months most likely starting in August. I’m so incredibly excited for such a wonderful adventure!! There’s lots of planning to do to prepare for something like that, and I can’t wait.

streetI’m also very far into my latest novel and working steadily, so hopefully I can get that finished before June and onto editing and then the big P word….publishing! We’ll see how it all plays out. I’m not particularly concerned about the timeline, because I know it’ll happen soon. I want to begin trying this new thing where I believe in myself and my abilities, where I understand my talents and strive to develop them, and where I love others despite human weaknesses.

So maybe I set some resolutions after all.

For Laughs

Scones, Codes, & Gowns

Today after work, I drove up to the farm. Right now I’m staying with my family, ignoring the fact that I have an apartment in town close to work. It is Potato Harvest right now, and something in me feels the need to be near, even if I’m not working in it this year.

sconesIt is one of those odd days that can’t make up its mind. Half of the sky is brilliantly blue and sunny, and half of it is indigo and promising a gorgeous rain storm. For the sake of our harvest I know I should pray for the sun to stay out, but it is one of those autumn days when a bit of rain and hot cocoa seems like a good idea.

Adjusting back to life here in the U.S has been a little bit more difficult than I imagined it would be. First of all, I was only in England for three weeks, so I hadn’t expected to have adjusted to life there as much as I did. I’ll be completely honest and tell you that jet lag one the war for almost a week. A week! But I’m finally back on schedule. And of the many, many things I miss, scones are Number 1.

I found a recipe and have made myself British scones several times since coming home, which is truly the only thing that is helping me past the withdrawals. But even though they taste the same and technically are the same, they aren’t the same. They have this appearance of a scone, the taste of a scone, but no matter what they aren’t what I wish they were: the delicious scones I had in Grasmere, Salisbury, or even Ireland. To all my British friends I say this: count your blessings. Go to the nearest tea room and order a scone. Just do it. For me. Please?sherlock

Have you ever had a conversation that ended up being a little cryptic? And after having this conversation, you feel very un-Sherlockian. It may begin as a normal conversation, and quickly evolve into a not so normal conversation while also keeping the appearance of a normal conversation. Now I feel as though I’m in the middle of a very big code. It was enlightening while at the same time more confusing. And of course I’ve been overthinking it. Please, please tell me I’m not alone in having had this experience. Even if you have to lie. Just tell me that.

On top of all these things pretending to be things they’re not, I need an evening gown. In a week and a half I’m going on a girls trip with two of my very best friends, and we’ll be doing a night with a fancy dinner. I need an evening gown. I thought I had one, but it turns out it is nowhere to be found. So now I have 10 days to find something. Wish me luck.

cocoAnd here I sit. Missing England like crazy, wanting real scones, feeling very un-Sherlockian, and evening gown-less.

And that’s it.

 

 

For Laughs

We Are Wesley

My family is pretty amazing. I mean, obviously I’m a little bit biased in that area, but believe me when I say that I’m saying this as objectively as possible: my family is incredible. Not only because we are all hilarious, but because they are all just pretty good humans in general.

good workEverybody in my family is really smart in some way, and all of us are really artistic and creative in different ways. It’s really cool to see all of us working on that as we get older. But besides these things, one of the things that my family does probably better than anything is quote movies.

And no, I’m not kidding.

There really isn’t any way to explain it, you just have to kind of experience it. But we are ridiculously amazing at quoting movies. We have entire conversations in movie quotes, and an eternal game of “name that movie” which will never be won by any single individual. This is actually one of the things that makes everybody in my family really hilarious. We are all fantastic at quoting movies, and not only that, but quoting them at the right moment. Our timing is impeccable.

The reason that I mention this today is because I’ve been thinking about the movie The Princess Bride. If you have never seen this movie, let me know so that I can light a candle for you, but then you must promptly go and watch it. I literally have no clue where my life would be if my siblings and I hadn’t been raised watching this movie. It is not only hilarious and totally classic, but it has the best one-liners in the world. It is very often quoted in our family.

I realized today, however, that besides the fact that we quote this movie all the time, we as you wisreference it even more without even meaning to.

In the beginning of the movie, you meet Wesley and Buttercup, who soon realize that they are deeply in love. One of the things that happens in order for them to realize this is something Wesley says to Buttercup often. He is farm boy, and every time she gives him an order to do something around the farm, he only ever replies with the words, “As you wish.”

Time after time, order after order, that is the only thing Wesley ever says in response. As you wish. Buttercup eventually comes to realize that when Wesley is saying, “As you wish,” what he is really saying is, “I love you.” And the rest is glorious history involving giants, miracles, and really big rats.

In my family, we have this phrase we use all the time. Like…all the time. We say it usually in moments that are hilarious and totally adorable, so inevitably we almost always end up saying it to my mom. We get all emotional and can’t handle life and we just say, “You’re so cute!” As I’ve thought about this phrase that we often say to each other, I’ve had a few thoughts. In the beginning, we kind of meant it as a very endearing insult. Something like, “You’re so adorable and weird and I don’t know how to say that so I’ll just call you cute with this really lovable face and voice and hope you get the message without being too offended.”

But as I’ve thought about this, I’ve had a major break through. Whether we all realize it or not, when we say, “You’re so cute!” what we really mean is, “I love you so much I can’t express it in this moment.” Because it almost always happens in the innocent moments when you’re watching somebody just be and you realize how incredible they are and how lucky you are to have them in your life.

wesleyIt happens in small moments when I watch my mom make a face as she’s thinking, or my little brother eat chili and orange soda, or my little sister blink blankly in annoyance, or my best friends do one of the one million things they do that are just completely them. And then your heart kind of swells in gratitude a little and with a whole lot of love and you just really can’t contain it.

My family has translated this moment into, “You’re so cute!”

But what we really mean is, “I love you.”

We are Wesley.

I Was Wondering

They Vs. Me

Sometimes I wonder about the word “they”. If you look up the definition of the word, among other things heavy in grammar language, you’ll find a definition that states: people in general.

I’ve been wondering about this word because it keeps coming up a lot. You hear people say things like, “They wanted me to do this.” Or quotes that read, “They said I couldn’t…”

done in loveIt is the second instance that has gotten me thinking recently. The hundreds of thousands of variations of the quote: They told me I couldn’t, so I did, are meant to be inspirational and motivational. I totally get that. But here is my question. Who are “they” exactly? And why were you listening to them in the first place?

I recognize that in your life, their are genuinely people who are going to tell you that you can’t accomplish something great. But in the spirit of complete transparency, I have to be honest and tell you that the person most often saying that to me is me. Not them.

While I think that the sentiment of doing things despite failure and hardship is completely worthy and wonderful, I don’t think that it should be the sole motivator in why we accomplish good things. Because that is just revenge masked as your success story.

As I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve realized that the reason for success should never be because somebody told us we couldn’t. And we also need to realize that more often than not, we are the ones saying those things. Not them.

In the end, you are only responsible for you. And I firmly believe that so much of the time, we create our own barriers and limitations. We are the ones holding ourselves back from the wonderful things we want to do or be.

It occurs to me that the real reason behind all of this is fear. We are afraid of failure or limitmistakes or looking like we didn’t do the right thing. It is what holds us back from telling people we love them, or pursuing that outstanding career, or starting a family. As much as fear can protect us, it can also hurt us.

When I think back on the most incredible times in my life, I can tell you with complete certainty that those were also the times that I was totally and completely terrified. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what would happen. But I went forward because I couldn’t deny that I knew what I was supposed to do. I went forward because, despite the fear, I knew something great was coming.

And sometimes I’m in awe of that girl who did those brave things, and I wish  could be like her every day. Because instead of doubting and belittling myself, instead of creating my own barriers, for once in my life I moved forward with complete faith. I pushed aside the fear. And I’ve never been more grateful for anything.

More than we realize, I think that they keys to our happiness are right in front of us. In our sight, and within our reach. It isn’t up to “them” to tell us what we can and cannot have, and nor is it the job of fear. Maybe the real key here is to open our eyes a little bit, and look past the barriers we put ourselves behind in order to see what has been there the entire time.

I'm Just Saying

Tacos & Salaries

inspire youIf I had to make a list of my best friends, my older sister Jamie would be very near the top. At the age of 26, she is the mother of five children (the oldest is not yet 6) and has been a wife for 8 years. She is beautiful, ridiculously funny, and an incredible wife, mother, and sister. I spend at least one day a week at her house, playing with her crazy wonderful children and talking about boys. I tell her everything, and she listens attentively while doing the 9 million other things that are on her plate. Besides helping me in innumerable ways, Jamie teaches me things that she doesn’t even know she teaches me.

A few weeks ago when I was at her home, her husband called her during his lunch break. While I was holding because of youtheir six month old baby, I listened to them have an entire conversation about what he was eating for lunch that day. Tacos.

The next week when I was at their house he came home from work that evening, greeted everybody, and then started talking to Jamie about his salary at his new place of work. While they didn’t go into any specifics with me in the room, they still had a very serious conversation.

In the last weeks I’ve been thinking about these two conversations quite a bit, and about how they relate to each other. I’m sure that Jamie and her husband have no idea how much these two instances have impacted me. But they have.

the reasonThese two interactions have taught me that when you find the person with which you can have the conversations that don’t matter, the ones about tacos, and the ones that do matter, about salaries, you’ve hit gold. And eventually the conversations that didn’t matter will be the only ones that do, and the ones that did will be the ones that end up not mattering. If you can find a person who can make you laugh even when you’re angry with them, a person who knows when you’re making fun of them but lets you do it anyway, or a person who will call you on their lunch break to talk about their meal, you should probably never let them go.