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.

The Grace House

The Grace House

below the little house
at the top of the hill
are cottonwood trees
that cast shadows
across the silvery road
and for a moment they
hide all of the reasons
that I am driving
to the house

• • • • •

my sister’s hugs
have always been
the perfect balance of
fortress and lighthouse
comfort and strength
when I walk in the door
her excitement is soft
and she smiles

• • • • •

the guest room is
full of rosy light and
plump, gray pillows
Lucy wags her tail
and crowds my feet
as I leave all the reasons
in my suitcase

• • • • •

William has a red box
full of small Legos
that we dump out all
over the master bed
red, yellow, and blue
against white blankets
and he always wants
a house or a bike

• • • • •

Gus wobbles on tiny legs
sometimes giving up
to crawl even faster
other times he hugs
my legs tightly for
just one moment as
he walks by me in a
small second of needed
love amid play

• • • • •

two dainty, white cups
live beside the stove
after bubble baths and
bedtime stories my
sister fills them with
steaming water and as
the peppermint steeps her
husband smiles goodnight

• • • • •

our words mingle
together with the tea
and the cups make soft
clicking sounds
we’ll do this more than
once in the calm of the
night and unpack all
of the reasons

• • • • •

I have reasons for coming
and she for asking me to
but they all gather close
in a cup of herbal tea as we
transfuse both wisdom and
a special love that exists in
the realm where others don’t

• • • • •

she is older than me
but often asks for wisdom
I simply wish that
I could hold the soft
strength and love that
she protects me with

• • • • •

in the cool grace of her
home my sister repacks
all of my reasons
but now they are rose gold
instead of midnight blue
I help her weed the beds
of her reasons and reposition
the sun

• • • • •

she planted bits of lavender
that quietly spread until the
garden mists with purple sprigs
she presses her hands together
tightly and smiles proud and
happy excited for the growth
William does that, too

• • • • •

she holds a depth that is
similar to my own
a universe attempting to
fit inside flesh and bone
the spaces have collided
but know now that they
extend one another

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

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.

Like We’re All Gonna Make It

There are a handful of memories in my life that I look back on as the best ones. I think you know what kind I’m talking about. They are the kind of memories that you look back on and the beauty almost hurts. There is a sort of golden sheen over the picture as you sunrelive it. Sometimes when we’re in the midst of these moments we understand it, and we think to ourselves, “I’m going to remember this forever. This moment is about to join the foundation of who I am.” And other times we don’t know that, we only have to discover it later.

These moments are happiness.

I’ve been really intrigued by the idea of happiness for a very long time. Mostly because I think that happiness means something different to all of us, but yet we are all scrambling to find it. Amidst the countless directions that life pulls all of us in, I believe that at the end of the day all of us are working towards a moment when we feel like we’ve “made it”.

“Making it” is an interesting phrase, but I think it is what we modern people say in place of happiness. We want to be financially stable, emotionally stable, stable in relationships, or just able to watch our favorite show every now and again and not feel ragingly guilty about wasting time. We are all working towards this moment when we’ll finally be there; when we’ll finally arrive at the sight of happiness. When we’ve “made it”.

Now before you jump to conclusions, please understand that I am not going to sit here and tell you any of the following cliches: Happiness is in the journey [and/or] Happiness is a choice. While I believe that these cliches hold truth and exist for a reason, I also just hate cliches. Just so much. So I’m not going to take that route on this happiness post. flowers

I think nobody has found the perfect formula for happiness because it doesn’t really exist. And I think it doesn’t exist because happiness is different for everybody. And there are different kinds of happiness. For example, I received several vinyl records for Christmas. My family knows me very well that way, and that gives me happiness. Each time I pull them out and listen to them, I feel that happiness all over again. My records make me happy. But that isn’t the kind of deep, long-lasting, “making it” type of happiness that we are all looking for. I think it’s a piece of happiness.

So what is happiness, really? Is it one big “I’ve finally made it” or is it just the little pieces of happiness all added up? Or both? Or something different altogether?

I think that the answer is very simple but also a little complicated: whatever happiness means to you is what it means. I wish that happiness wasn’t such an elusive thing. Are we really meant to just search for it for forever before finally realizing that the journey was the happy part? Or are we actually supposed to get there?

My personal belief is that we’re supposed to get there. We’re supposed to make it.

light and darkI think that happiness evolves over the course of a lifetime. And there are definitely going to be times in our lives that are anything but happy. And no matter what inspirational quote dares show its face in those times, sometimes life is just darkness. Sometimes you can’t choose happiness no matter how hard you try. But I think that in those times the important thing is to remember that it did exist once and that it can again. And in that way happiness is very closely linked with hope. And that is one of the ways in which it lasts.

It is interesting to me that happiness creates so many problems.

If I look at it from the spiritual perspective that I tend to apply to most things, it makes sense. I mean, why would Satan (or whatever you believe in as far as the kind of realm goes) want us to be happy? I personally believe that God wants us to be happy. He wants us to have joy. He thinks we deserve everything good. God thinks we deserve happiness.

So whatever happiness means to you, remember that. If you find yourself surrounded bybridge darkness, remember those golden moments and have hope that there will be more. If you are in a moment of happiness in your life, cherish it. Be grateful for it. Love every second. We’re all navigating our personal road, and that’s okay. But just remember that 100%, totally, completely, you belong in the light and not the dark. You deserve the gold moments.

Happy travels.

 

10 of the Songs…

Even though I played the flute for four years, it’s been forever since I’ve picked it up. I don’t really consider myself as being musically talented. But I could never overstate how important and influential music is in my life. I don’t really understand why, but music is really a lifeline for me.

Because my parents are quite wonderful, I grew up listening to all kinds of different music. Pretty much every genre has a few memories in my past. As I’ve gotten older there are several genres that have stuck out as my favorites, but as a whole, I really enjoy every kind of music with very few exceptions.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and about some of the songs that have influenced me. Now, it would be absolutely impossible for me to make a list of all of the songs that have had an influence on me.

But there are some songs that can only be described as soul-touching. There are some songs that you hear and they just strike something inside of you that nothing else does. If I were to make a list of these songs it would be much easier, but still an incredibly long list. So I decided to narrow it down as best I could and blog about each one because these songs all hold a very special place in my heart and mean something very important to me. So, in no particular order, here are only 10 of the soul-touching songs:

heat of the moment1.”Heat of the Moment” – Asia

This song is everything good. Oh, what can I say? I went through an incredibly powerful 1980’s phase my senior year of high school and this song fulfilled every single need posed by said phase. It is a very powerful song because while delivering that unforgettably wonderful 80’s guitar that rocks everything, the lyrics are also very powerful. That’s going to be a common theme among all of these songs: the music itself says what words can’t, and the words somehow say what words normally could never touch. This song is about how sometimes we do things in the heat of the moment that may take us in places we never planned, but how it’s wonderful because the heat of the moment is a beautiful thing.

2. “One for My Baby” – Frank Sinatra

I have written countless posts about Frank Sinatra, so obviously this isn’t a surprise to anybody. There aren’t many words that I can use to accurately describe that whole situation. But if you’re curious you can visit my tag cloud and click on “Frank Sinatra”. It’ll be a good time. This is one of my favorite Frank Sinatra songs because I love how simple it is. There is that simple, lonesome piano playing and just the natural richness of his voice. And that’s really all you need for a song like this. This song is about a man whoone for my baby has just lost a great love, probably the love of his life. He’s telling a bartender about all of it, and about how the road before him is incredibly long and lonely without her. It’s completely heartbreaking, really, but something about it is also very beautiful. I love it so much.

3.”Two Steps Behind” – Def Leppard

I bet you weren’t expecting Def Leppard!! Okay, but seriously, Def Leppard was a childhood staple for me. When I was a little girl I used to drive around the farm with my dad. On summer nights he liked to drive around and check on all of the fields, just make sure everything was going well or the irrigation was doing what it needed to be doing. I loved going with him. I’d sit in the front seat of his pickup, legs barely reaching past the edge of the seat. I’d have a Pepsi in my lap, and we’d drive around together. On these excursions, we would always listen to his 80’s music and Def Leppard featured prominently. This song (particularly the acoustic version) always touched my heart. It’s actually a pretty sad love song, just about a person who will stand in the background and let their love do whatever it is they need to do. But when they are needed, they’ll be right here to help.

4.“A.M” – One Direction

I have blogged about this song before. (If you are curious click here.) But I just…wow. I honestly don’t have the words to explain this song. I honestly never thought that this would be a thing ever, ever in my life. But not only is this my favorite One Direction song, it is my favorite song. Period. My favorite song in the whole world. Out of the thousands of songs that have made me who I am, out of the thousands of songs whose lyrics I’ll never forget, this is my favorite song in the entire world. Now you can think what you want about One Direction (I personally didn’t become a fan until this last year and it’s a sad regret, but that’s a post for another time) but this song is pure gold. I really a.mdon’t understand it, but something about this song strikes a chord within me that no other song ever has. I hear this song and suddenly feel like my soul is just displayed before me in musical notes. It is about love and the uncertainties of life. It is about two people who have grown up together – which can be taken in many ways I think. It could mean that they literally grew up together, or that the experiences they have shared have made it so that they have grown older and wiser together. Either one is equally beautiful. The chorus then says, “Won’t you stay ’til the a.m? All my favorite conversation’s always made in the a.m. ‘Cause we don’t know what we’re saying.” I love these lines because I think “a.m” is a bigger metaphor. I think they are asking their love to stay until the morning, to stay with them through the darkness. To stay with them and love them even though there are things they don’t understand. Because together they are able to make it there. I could honestly write novels about this song. It’s beautiful.

5.”Caledonia” – Celtic Woman

If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I forget about this song. And then every now and again it pops back into my mind and I remember how influential it was for me. It is a traditional song, sung by many different people and groups. But the Celtic Woman version is the one that changed my life. For those of you who don’t know, “Caledonia” is the traditional name for Scotland. And this song is about somebody who is from Scotland and who has been away from it. And they are finally ready to go home. It is about how important home is, and how it often makes us who we are. And that no matter what we experience or where we go home is constant. It was interesting for me because my family history is heavily Scottish, and for reasons I couldn’t explain I’ve always felt the tie to that. A sort of pull. And the first time I heard this song and really listened to it I felt such a feeling of comfort or understanding. That the land of my ancestors is still very important to me and still very much a part of me. It was beautiful.

6.”Faithfully” – Journey

This is another one of those “driving with my dad” songs. I have countless memories of driving places together as a family and listening to this song and many others by Def Leppard and Journey. This song is a classic love song: about being faithfully in love with somebody despite the challenges that often arise. If I’m being honest there is nothing spectacular musically about this song or even the lyrics, really. It’s just a classic. It’s beautiful in its classic simplicity.

7.”Perfect” – Ed Sheeranperfect lyrics 2

I debated heavily about whether or not to include this song in this list. If I am being completely and totally transparent, I can’t even listen to this song. But there was a time in my life when it described everything flawlessly. It was like Ed somehow knew and wrote me a song. So, I actually don’t listen to this song anymore. But to deny its impact in my life would be dishonest and horrible. Because it is truly one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. If you haven’t heard it, go listen to it. There’s no way to explain it, you just have to hear it for yourself.

8.”Knock Three Times” – Tony Orlando & Dawn

Okay, I decided to put this song in because its just plain and simple fun. I grew up on this song – again, lots of driving in the car memories. But interestingly enough these ones aren’t tied to my dad but my mom. She has always loved this song and we listened to it all the time when we were driving with her. It is about a man who is in love with the woman who lives in the apartment beneath him. They don’t know each other, but he’s convinced he loves her. The chorus says, “Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me. Twice on the pipe – if the answer is no. Oh, my sweetness (knock, knock, knock) means you’ll meet me in the hallway. Hhmm twice on the pipe means you ain’t gonna show.” It’s just a fun, lighthearted song that always made life a little bit better.

9.”Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” – Il Divo

This song was originally composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the musical Evita. But the version by the band Il Divo was the first time I’d ever heard the song. Again I encourage you to go listen to it if you have never heard the song before. It’s incredibly beautiful. It’s about how when we go out and experience life to the fullest and do all the wonderful things we wanted to do, sometimes it can be a sad thing if we forget where we came from or the people that got us there. It can be sad if we forget who we are in the process of our accomplishments.

10.”Long Live” – Taylor Swift

long liveSimply put: I love this song. I love this song with everything in my heart. It has such a special place for me. Ever since the first time I heard this song, I’ve never been able to hear it without getting goosebumps. Honestly, I almost cry every time I hear it. I’ve heard a lot of different interpretations of the song: that she wrote it for her band, that she wrote it for her fans, for her friends. But whatever the case it is an amazing tribute to the people that you go through life with. The lines, “Long live the walls we crashed through, I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you,” always punched me right in the heart. Because there really are those people who stick with you through everything, you go through the night with you and fight all your dragons with you. And they are incredible. This song pays tribute to them.

So, there you have it. Only 10 of the songs that have touched my soul and largely made me who I am today. If you haven’t heard any of them I urge you to go and listen for yourself. Or to sit and think about what things (it could be music, movies, books) have impacted your life in a similar way. You’d be surprised by the things you remember and how you suddenly realize they made a difference.