I'm Just Saying

If You Leave The Light On

It has been about a week since I’ve blogged, and I have a lot on my mind tonight. Surprise, surprise. If I’m being honest, that actually happens to me a lot. I get on my blog pretty much every day, just to check and see how everything is and to peak at the blogs I follow. And sometimes I look at my blog and think, “All is well. I am pleased.” And then I continue on with my day. And after doing this for a few days, I’ll suddenly come on my blog and it’s as if my brain explodes with all these thoughts, feelings, and ideas that I absolutely have to get out and it’s as if the creator in me screams, “How have you been waiting around with all of this in your brain for eternity?! Write something, you fool!”

So here I am, writing something.

Like I said, I have a lot on my mind tonight. And if I’m being honest not a lot of it is positive. I have been having a great 2019. That is no lie. Wonderful, amazing things have happened to me so far this year and it’s only February. And there are so many more incredible things to come. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my off days. It does mean, however, that when I do have my off days I get frustrated. I just say to myself, “Um, self. What the devil? You’re actually doing super great so … get it together.”

Today is not, in fact, an off day. But I have had a few in the last week or so. And they haven’t been bad days. Just off days. Days when negativity comes seeping into my head and I can’t figure out why it just won’t leave me alone. Days when the people closest to me have felt like they were falling apart and I had to help hold them together. Those kinds of days.

I think it was last November, I was having a really, really, really bad day. I felt so alone and lost. I couldn’t figure out what to do with everything that was happening in my life. I was trying to hold everything together. So late one night I got in my car – wearing the classiest outfit I’ve ever put together mind you: Christmas pj’s, a sweater, socks, and flats. Class, class, class. – and I just started driving. I went to a very peaceful spot and called one of my good friends. She helped a lot. And then I started driving again. And I drove and drove and drove. All around my town and to my old town and around my old high school. And the entire time I listened to “Home” by One Direction on repeat. And somehow that helped.

Truthfully, every single time I am having a hard moment, no matter where on the scale of hard moments that it falls, I always come back to the same conclusion: trust God. He has a plan. Everything is going to be okay.

Several weeks later I went and spoke to one of my very trusted spiritual advisors and told him some of the things that were going on in my life. I had some pretty heavy issues I needed to discuss with him, and I was scared. But it was an incredible meeting. And I wish I could say that he said all of these wonderful, groundbreaking things and introduced all this truth I’d never thought of before, but he didn’t. In fact, he let me tell him some very hard things from my past, and a few things in my present, he let me shed a few tears, and then he said, “Did you know that Heavenly Father is in charge?”

And for whatever reason, it hit me right in the heart. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

I just started beaming from ear to ear. I couldn’t have stopped smiling if I’d tried. It is something that I have always known. It is something that I take for granted, actually. But for whatever reason, the truth of that sunk deep into my soul at that moment and it was exactly what I needed. He continued on telling me about how everybody’s life story is different and rarely does life ever go the way that we think it will. But God is God. His truth is unchanging. He cannot lie. He will not tell you something that isn’t true. He will not lead you down a wrong path.

A few days ago, my little sister Josie, who is one of my best friends on this earth (pretty sure I’ve blogged about that a million times), sent me a Youtube link. She does this often: sends me videos and pictures and all the things. And since I have this habit of not actually viewing them they are usually accompanied by a passive-aggressive, “Please watch this.” Well, the link she sent me the other day was accompanied by:

“Please listen to this song. I freaking love it. It might make you cry.”

I couldn’t decide if I was happy that she knew me this well or frustrated that she knew me and my life this well, but I did indeed listen to the song and it was beautiful. It did not, in fact, make me cry, but I responded, “I am not crying. But I feel like she spied on me.” You know those songs?

Anyway, it was very sweet. And I promise that there was definitely a point in telling you all of these very random and seemingly unrelated stories. But at this precise moment, I can’t remember what it was. But they do relate, and they are all very important to me. And they show that we aren’t alone, ever. And they show that life takes twists and turns but that what’s meant to be will always find a way.

Because God is always in charge.

I'm Just Saying

At The End Of The Day

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Hello, everyone! And Happy Christmas Eve! If any of you have been around my blog for a while, you understand how I feel about Christmas. I love Christmas so much. And this year I am actually more excited for Christmas than I have been since I was a little girl.

Every year I try to write a Christmas post about what Christmas means to me and how special it has always been for me and my family. And every year I do this and it’s great. But this year I want to do something a little bit different.

I have had so much on my mind lately, and a lot has happened in my life very recently. And if I’m being completely honest, a lot of it has been shocking and also exciting. I discovered recently that I am more than my fears, even my very biggest ones. I also discovered that no matter what, at the end of the day, God is always, always, always in charge. We may not understand the twists and turns that He puts into our lives, but He has a purpose always.

One thing I love about Christmas is how absolutely magical it is, and that we get to end the year with that magic. I think it’s a way of reminding us that no matter what we’ve been through and experienced that there is always magic at the end.

Looking back on my 2018, it has been incredibly amazing. I got to travel to many different places, visit old friends, go to concerts, and overall: my life completely changed. It was a phenomenal year. I’ve loved every second of it. There have been some lows, and they have been hard, but the good has outshined them so spectacularly that I can hardly remember what they felt like.

I know that we have all had moments in our lives where we think, “If only I would have said this…” And that’s an idea I want to touch on for a bit. I find that every single time I have a very serious conversation when I look back on it I realize I said everything I meant to. But there are bits and pieces that were the most important, the most from my heart, and those are the bits and pieces that I hope that person remembers the most.

You see, I think we have it in our minds that if we would have just said whatever it was we felt like we didn’t say then things would be different. But that isn’t necessarily the case. I have learned that you can say everything in your head and in your heart, and even though it might mean the world to somebody else, it isn’t always going to change anything. Like I said before, God is in charge, and even though we don’t always understand the paths He puts before us, one day we will.

I also learned this year that hope is never, ever lost. I went through several experiences this year, some of which are ongoing, in which it would have been very normal for me to feel like all of the hope in the world was lost.

But I don’t feel that way.

In spite of everything in these situations with some very important people in my life, I am thinking of two in particular, I have come to feel that there seems to be even more hope than there was before. In fact, I will even confess to you that I actually feel closer to these people now than I did before.

You know how we have emotional connections to people? I feel mine in my heart, almost as if there is a rope that connects my heart to the hearts of the other people in my life. For one specific person in my life, this rope should have been completely severed about two weeks ago. And for reasons I don’t entirely understand and therefore cannot explain, the rope feels stronger than ever. It feels like I could reach out and touch them. For whatever reason that this connection still exists, I know that it does.

I know that the future is bright. And I know that no matter what happens, there is always hope. I know that we are bigger and stronger than our worst fears. I know that there is a plan for each of our lives, and as confusing as it can be at times, it will bring us ultimate joy.

God bless you all. Merry Christmas.

I'm Just Saying

If You’re Reading This At 4 A.M…

I have almost written this post probably 20 times in the last year. Every single time I have obviously not, for various reasons. I just want to tell all of you a few things that I’ve learned. And a few things I believe. And a few things I’m holding on to. And a few things I am still trying to figure out. 

I have learned that human beings are infinitely complex. And that we have the capacity for so much. Whether that be good or evil. I have learned that the older you get the more gray areas emerge. Nothing is black and white. I have learned that life is messy. And that no matter where you go or who you meet, everybody as problems. And everybody has baggage. I have learned that the worst pain in the world isn’t physical. I have learned what it is to be connected with other people. To feel what they feel. To know they are in pain that you cannot heal. 

I have learned what it is to love. To love with every fiber that makes you who you are, and every infinite thing that makes up the spaces inside you. And I have learned what it is to fear that even that isn’t enough to heal the broken pieces. 

I have learned what it is to give second chances and to be given second chances. I have learned what it is to be so broken inside that you look in the mirror and can’t believe you are still put together. I have learned what it is to be so whole that you feel as though you couldn’t possibly contain all of the joy and rightness that is bursting through your heart. 

I believe in God. I believe that He speaks to us. And I believe that He always keeps His promises. And that He doesn’t lie. And that sometimes He asks us to be patient. Sometimes He asks us to wait. And sometimes that is hard. But He is always, always there making the same promises over and over again. Reminding you of the things He’s told you before. Reminding you that you aren’t alone. Reminding you that He is in charge. Reminding you that all things are possible. Reminding you that true joy and peace comes from Him and Him alone. 

I believe that life is different for everybody. And no story is exactly the same. But also we are all intricately connected. And it is absolutely vital that you find the path that God wants for you and stick to it, no matter what voices pull you in other directions. No matter what the world throws at you. That’s where true joy is. That’s where true peace is. 

I believe in love. That it will conquer everything if you let it. 

I’m holding on to answers whispered to me by the wind. And answers thrown in my face like a billboard. And answers spoken to me as if there was an actual person saying the words in my ear. I’m holding on to hope. I’m holding on to dreams. I’m holding on to love. Because it turns out that this love is stronger than every broken moment I’ve ever had. And it refuses to go away. It refuses to break. Maybe that’s the point of love. 

I’m trying to figure out how love really works. And how to use it to help fix the dark days. I’m trying to figure out if I really can use love like a weapon, or if it really is just a matter of feeling it and pouring it out of my heart. If it is the latter, I am more than capable of that.

I had a therapist teach me a visualization exercise once. You imagine somebody standing before you. The person in your life that you love most, or that you are having a hard time with, or the person who you want to express your love to the most. And you imagine the color pink, which represents love, pouring from your heart into theirs. And you let it flow freely, and you allow them to receive it freely. And if you do it correctly, you can actually feel a connection with that person as if they are standing right in front of you actually receiving all that love. 

And if you’re reading this at 4 a.m., please know that you’ve been that other person a million times. 

Just Writing

Songs As Open Notes

Dear Out of the Woods,
Never stop fighting. Never stop flying.

Dear The Best Day,
You are the most amazing person. Thank you for all you do.

Dear Treacherous,
You’re just that.

Dear Mirrors,
You’re stunning. Just go for it.

Dear Flicker,
There’s nothing I can say to you that I haven’t already said. So I’ll do it this way instead: TS6 Track 10, TS4 Track 9, TS3 Track 1, 1D3 Track 7, 1D5 Track 6.

Dear Tim McGraw,
You astonish me daily.

Dear Ready to Run,
I love how close we have become over the last years. Thank you for all you do.

Dear Lose Yourself,
If I didn’t have you I’d lose so much laughter and happiness. You’re the best.

Dear Downtown,
I miss you. You’re so fantastic and I’m eternally blessed to know you.

Dear Dance Off,
Gosh, you’re incredible. Thanks for existing.

Just Writing

The Pilgrimage Road

The Pilgrimage Road

At first we stepped onto it
because wilderness was less wild
and more uncertain
And we thought we’d been promised
enlightenment instead of fear
in miracle prayers

Protected by our blindness
we traveled the pilgrimage road
holding our trinkets
Prior to our journey we wanted
to transcend the uncertainty
we thought we might rise

They told us ahead was hope
urged us to forget the disquiet
in marvelous prayer
The road grew ever wider
and the stops became less frequent
soon we did forget

Memories were pushed away
because we no longer needed them
on this crusade road
Men, women, and their children
traveling the pilgrimage road
did not need reasons

The road became our houses
filled with our baubles and trinkets
we found new meaning
There was no need to look back
without mirrors or memories
just our daily road

But in the blind forgetting
a danger heavier than fear
more than confusion
Bright sunlight burned dark to ash
spread it under flowers we past
still we didn’t know

All along our faithful road
lay crates and baggage forgotten
soon to become ash
Abandoned by forgetting
we didn’t need remembering
we didn’t need fear

Boxes of why forgotten
and left where we couldn’t remember them
we did need reasons
By the time we remembered
too far down the pilgrimage road
it was much too late

I'm Just Saying

Reputation: Themes in Taylor Swift’s New Album That Changed Everything

coverI am a Taylor Swift fan. I will neither deny it nor apologize for it, and there was a time when I might have done both. But I have been on the Swift team since the beginning. Since the “Teardrops on My Guitar” days. And I am not ashamed to admit it.

A few years ago I wrote a post about Taylor’s last album, 1989, and how it was just what I needed in my life at that time. I wrote about how it helped me start over and heal and begin again. Today I want to do something similar with Taylor’s most recent album, Reputation.

Reputation is definitely Taylor’s edgiest album. It brings to light a lot of her struggles and highlights a lot of things that she’s usually very private about. It lets us into the darker sides of her, and the darker sides of what she experiences as a result of who she is. But like the true artist that she is, Taylor somehow manages to turn that darkness into light.

From beginning to end, Reputation is a journey: each song taking us through a different phase and highlighting different themes. As I’ve thought about this, I’ve settled upon seven major themes throughout the album that have come to mean everything to me. Themes that have changed the way I look at life and helped me see my own experiences in a different light.

Theme #1: The Fall From Grace

Even if you aren’t a T Swift fan, or don’t know much about her either way, it is pretty much common knowledge that she went through the ringer for a while there. As an ardent fan, I feel like I should know all of the details and have a very strong opinion, but honestly, I don’t know all the details. I really don’t know a lot about what happened. What I do know is that it hurt her, and she disappeared for a long time. I do know that it was a very hard fall for her.

Haven’t we all been there? I know I have.

We’ve all been through that point in life when we fall from grace and become very familiar with the feeling of a cold floor against our cheek. And quite frankly there is nothing worse than this kind of brokenness.flowers as thorns

This theme is highlighted in a couple of different songs on the album. “Call it What You Want” and “Delicate” are a few. Lyrics like: “My castle crumbled overnight, I brought a knife to a gun fight”, and “my reputation’s never been worse” whisper a little bit of this feeling.

Theme #2: Because You Break Them

Sometimes the people in our lives do stupid things. They do things that hurt us deeply. Things that confuse us. And while that isn’t fair, it is a part of life. What is interesting about this theme is that it is something we’ve all seen, and it can usually lead us down a couple of different paths.

If we have been deeply hurt by others, sometimes the healthiest thing to do is just move on. Leave it behind and start over. And other times we have to acknowledge that the pain changed us, and maybe not completely positively. Pain can do dark things to you. Again, that’s just the way it is sometimes.

“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” and “Look What You Made Me Do” talk about this idea.

Theme #3: I Did Something Bad

Obviously, I can’t speak for everybody, but I think that most often the theme/phase that follows is usually the rebellious one. It was for me, at least. If we’ve been hurt sometimes we lash out. Sometimes we have to go through a moment in our lives when we do things we might regret later.

bikeThe song “I Did Something Bad” is the poster child for this phase. The lyrics say, “You say I did something bad, then why’s it feel so good?” This is an entirely accurate summary of how it feels to do something bad. It is an interesting look at the difference between good and bad or right and wrong. But the cold, hard truth is that sometimes doing bad things is fun.

But I will be the first person to say that staying in this phase really isn’t good. It’s not healthy. At some point, you have to realize that sticking your middle finger to the world is hurting you more in the long run.

Theme #4: In The Middle Of The Night, In My Dreams

One of the things I love most about this album is that while there are heavy themes of brokenness and rebellion, there are also very strong currents of hope and rebirth throughout everything. I love the words, “In the middle of the night, in my dreams,” from “…Ready For It?” because they start off the album with this idea of hope and dreams. The kind of dreams that you saw break into a million pieces against the floor. The kind of dreams that you slowly begin to dream again, piece by piece. The kind of dreams that are so precious you only dare dream them in the middle of the night, when the world can’t reach them.

Theme #5: I Know That It’s Delicate

When you start to begin to dream again, that is when it gets scary.

Picking yourself up off the floor, or letting people pick you up, is one of the hardest, scariest things you will ever do in your life. Because there is a certain comfort in being that broken. When you’re that broken you may be completely miserable, you may be in so much pain and darkness that it is unfathomable, but at least it can’t get any worse. At least you’re there now, not fighting to stay afloat. is it cool

So the process of standing up and walking back into the light is slow and scary, and very delicate. It’s very piece by piece, moment by moment. And somehow it can be the most reckless thing in the world to even fathom the idea of hoping for something again. But you do it anyway.

“Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate … isn’t it?”

Theme #6: My Broken Bones Are Mending

“King Of My Heart” is one of my favorite songs on the album, because it is such a blatant celebration of healing. It talks about how bad things happen, and we do find ourselves on the floor sometimes, and it is the absolute worst. But then healing can happen, and it does happen. We just have to believe in it. Even a little bit.

“Is this the end of all the endings? My broken bones are mending.”

I don’t care who you are, these lyrics are iconic. There is a bit of mystery to it. Like she can’t fathom that she’s healing. As if she’s watching it happen in disbelief. Another song has a line which says, “I woke up just in time.”

your midnightsAs if she emerged from her brokenness just in time. As if she threw the darkness aside in an act of wild faith and hope and passion and it was the best thing she ever did. Because now she is mending.

Theme #7: But I Stay

I love the song “New Year’s Day” more than I love many things on this earth. It ends the journey of Reputation on an incredibly beautiful note. It is a foundation song. A remembering who you are song. A grounding song.

I love this song because it is very simple. It talks about standing beside somebody through thick and thin. It talks about a very deep and abiding love. Something very powerful. But also very real and human. The kind of love that holds you through a dark night or helps you clean up after a party.

It is the song that says, “I know I’ve been through a lot of darkness. But somehow I’m still me. I’m better and stronger. I didn’t stay broken. I rose.”

Reputation is an incredible album about rebirth. There is so much to it. I could write a million more words about it, and extract countless other themes, I’m sure. These are only a few. Just some very powerful things that have changed my life and helped me in my own journey.

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.