Just Writing

I Rise

The world has whispered many things in the places we call home. Sometimes it tells you glittery lies and others dark truths. It whispers of excitement and exhilaration in deep kisses and strong drinks. It lures you into cold water. It tempts you to regret the black corners when you walked without a light. It lurks you into fog where you cannot see the sun.

But the world never whispered of the ashes you arose from. It never hinted of the strength you possess. It makes you think you can only get so far before the regretted moments catch up. You are dependent on me, it says. You are dependent on this hurt for happiness.

I stumble and fall because at times I follow the whispers of excitement. I want to live, live like they say. Fully, and in each moment. I want to give my love generously, and believe in the fairy tales. But we all carry inside us a heart as deep as the ocean, as vast as the universe. So strong, and yet so fragile. We allow our hearts to be tinged with blackness. We put them in strange, wrong places and call it love.

And perhaps it is not the fault of those we thought we loved. We are all vast universes looking for a star, and that journey is not an easy one. So how silly of us to think that in our vastness we could fit inside this world. How silly of us to listen to the dark things it says. How strange that the world and the earth are two different things. I think sometimes that the earth is mourning the use of its beauty for so much destruction. I look at the beauty of the earth and wonder how the world became so cruel inside of it.

I am not the world, but neither have I overcome it. I work to rise above the black regrets, to move past the need for hurts. I don’t want to wear them like badges. Each day I work on rising. Rising. Rising. From the ashes. I work on renewal. I rise.

I'm Just Saying

One Full Minute

I had an English teacher once who brought us into class one day, sat us in our desks, told us to get out our journals and said, “For one full minute, I just want you to write. Write everything and nothing. Don’t stop to think. Just write everything that comes to your mind.”

paperI need to do that today. There is a lot on my mind.

I’ve never been good at living in the moment. I only have a handful of memories in which i could feel myself absorbing every detail, every emotion. I’ve always wanted to be good at it, but I’m not. I think too much. I’m tired of thinking too much.

I miss England. I feel oddly out of place now, as if the changes I’ve gone through don’t quite fit inside of me and I’m not sure how to make it all work. I know it can work, I know it. I just have to figure it out. Whatever that means.

This last week I’ve discovered a lot of my weaknesses, and I don’t like it. I don’t like looking at myself that harshly, not when I’m already super hard on myself anyway.

I don’t like feeling vulnerable. I don’t like that feeling that other people have power over me and there’s nothing I can do about it. I hate feeling that exposed, that open to whatever it is they might decide to do.

Today I got upset and made lava cakes. I’m very good at making lava cakes. I’m actually a great cook. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that before. But I love to cook. It calms me. It is a different type of creation that I absolutely adore.

I’ve been trying really, really hard lately to gain more confidence. I’ve never, ever been a confident person. Ever. I’ve been trying really hard to begin to really and truly love myself, to understand my worth and to live in such a way that I can magnify all the things that are beautiful inside of me. Sometimes it is hard. I am having to change everything about how I think. It’s harder than I expected it to be.

One full minute. Write it out. Think it out. One full minute.

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.

Just Writing

Clock Like

Clock Like

Looking at the clock
For months on end
Waiting for it to stop
Just waiting

Dreading it so much
Hardly able to think
Would there be touch?
How many tears?

Then came the night
The clock finally stopped
Beside bright car lights
That moment

Beautiful, when it came
More so than I thought
A memory in a frame
So precious

Books and smells
Talking and reading
Laughter can tell
All of the story

Funnier than I thought
The moment at the end
A moment so caught
By friendly eyes

It ached, you know,
More than I imagined
I held the tears close
Until the clock began again

It is much different now
A different kind of waiting
More subtle, anyhow,
Than I expected

So long since words
Came from me in poems
Somewhat like birds
Singing the veiled stories

I wish I knew how to say
All the things it was
That moment at end of day
But I cannot

For it was both beautiful and unfinished
Like a clock


I'm Just Saying

Standing In A Nice Dress

Sometimes we are blessed with incredible moments of clarity. The fog of confusion clears away and suddenly everything in our life makes sense. Everything fits into place.

moonThese are beautiful moments. Moments when you look around and you just know that it is a moment that you are never going to forget. It’s so beautiful it almost hurts.

I have a handful of memories like that. Christmas mornings. Summer night parties. Holding a new baby nephew. The first time I won a Speech Competition. The orange moon during potato harvest. The first time I went on stage. The first time I finished my first masterpiece novel. Dancing with my best friends to Frank Sinatra. Walking the streets of Texas.

It is my opinion that life is made up of these small moments of clarity. They are the threads that tie us together, that form who we are. They are little moments, dream-like moments that feel like heaven. It’s moments like these that make premature good-byes and unfinished stories worth it. They make the hard things okay again. As simple as it sounds, I’m so grateful for memories. They are our very own thoughts and feelings, a book of our lives that we get to carry around with us.

Today I’m thinking of one of these moments in particular. I was with a group of new fireworksfriends training for an incredible experience. We only had 12 days together, and at this point we’d only known each other about a week. It was Independence Day, and we were standing outside with hundreds of other people just like us, watching fireworks explode into an indigo sky decorated with stars. We were holding glow sticks and eating ice cream bars. I looked at all of them and knew it was one of those moments. Because everything made sense.

I think I’m thinking about it today because one of those friends has been on my mind recently. We all became so close, like family, and promised we’d always stay in touch. But I think that even though you mean those things, life can get in the way. But like I said, memories like this make unfinished stories worth it.

I Was Wondering

All The Flowers Of The Mountain

Today, life is very beautiful. It’s pulling at my heart in the most peculiar way, filling every single crack and crevice. I’m not sure what it’s trying to say, if anything. And I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, if anything.

FallI’ve found so often that sometimes life is achingly glorious. There are moments so perfect it almost hurts. Feelings so deep that you could never hope to explain them. The heart is such a wild thing, you know. Words are the framework of my life, of my existence, and yet today I’m sitting beside the window with my thoughts, looking out at a cloudy sky and brilliantly colored leaves with lovely music filling my ears. And I can’t find the words.

I wish I could. I wish you could feel even a bit of what I’m feeling in this moment. And the more rational part of my brain is scrambling in a million directions, trying to find meaning, purpose, and explanation for moments like these. It’s the thing trying to find the words.

But there aren’t any. There is only gratitude and a few tears I can’t explain. Wishing I could put these feelings in a box, deep in my heart for when I’ll need them again. But perhaps that’s the wild, rugged beauty of moments like these.

It’s like a beautiful landscape, like this autumn day that surrounds me and fills up my heart. I can’t capture this day, these hillsights. I can’t carry them with me as much as I wish I could. I pray for the memory to stay with me, and I live in this completely beautiful moment as fully as I can. I can’t capture autumn leaves, crisp air, and clouds, or this feeling that is filling my heart. I can’t capture the mountains or take them with me.

They are gifts. Moments like these. And for that I can only be profoundly grateful.

I'm Just Saying

That’s How It’s Got To Feel

frankI’ll never forget the moment that I saw my very first Frank Sinatra record.

I was in Birmingham, Alabama, at the National Speech and Debate competition with my coach and two team members. We’d just gotten breakfast in this great little restaurant in Birmingham and saw an old record shop near where we’d parked. Naturally, there was no choice but to go inside.

It was up a narrow flight of wooden stairs, located in a tiny little room stuffed to the roof with records. Old movie posters covered the walls, tables and tables were filled with every record imaginable. The floor was covered in a thin carpet. Morning sunlight streamed through the windows and the air, of course, smelled slightly damp in the summer humidity. The shop had an old smell, and of course some music was playing from the corner.

I found the Frank records as soon as I possibly could, and purchased three, along with a Dean Martin record. For the rest of the trip in Birmingham they were my precious little find. I wrapped them carefully in my suitcase and prayed they would be safe on the trip back across the country.

And even more than that moment of finding the records in Birmingham, a moment where the sunlight streaming through the windows reflected off of the records like they were gold, is the moment when I got home and turned one on.

The very first song that I ever heard Frank Sinatra sing on a record player was “All the Way.”

I’d listened to Frank nonstop for years, but I’d never heard him on an actual record player until that very moment. My mom placed the needle on the record, and sound came out of the record player as if by magic. And then, in that really close yet somehow faraway and incredibly clear sound that a record player makes, he began singing.

“When somebody loves you, it’s no good unless he loves you all the way…taller than the tallest tree is, that’s how it’s got tofrankie feel. Deeper than the deep blue sea is, that’s how deep it goes if it’s real.”

I couldn’t help myself. I put my head in my hands and started crying. It’s been a while since I posted anything about Frank Sinatra, but most of you know that I’m a pretty big admirer of his. And when I heard that sound for the first time, it just got to me in a way I hadn’t expected.

Tonight I’m thinking about that experience, about how it felt. And it makes me grateful for beautiful things, and precious moments. For special things that tug at your heart and make you feel that deeply.

“Who knows where the road will lead us

Only a fool would say

But if you let me love you

It’s for sure I’m gonna love you, all the way…”