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

Something Happy

When my younger sister was about three or four (give or take a year or so), she had two favorite books. I remember that I used to love to read them to her. When she was little her red hair was crazy curly and always stuck out everywhere. She constantly wore stretch pants and white t-shirts. She was the most beautiful child in the history of the world.

coverOne of her favorite books was called “Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep” by Joyce Dunbar. It is about a little bunny named Willa who can’t go to sleep and so her big brother Willoughby tells Willa a lot of very good and wonderful things. Then they can finally go to sleep. It is such a beautiful and cute story.

And for some reason, it’s been on my mind a lot the last few days.

I have been thinking a lot about those moments right before we go to sleep, and how crucial they are. You see, my powers of introversion are very strong (which is just a dramatic way of saying that I’m CRAZY introverted) so I like to stay up late at night so that I can be alone. I know that the rest of the world is asleep and that I am more alone then than I’ll ever be. It’s when I do some of my best thinking and creating.

However, I will be the first to admit that the thoughts that you think late at night or right before you go to sleep have the potential to be weapons. In my experience, a lot of the time you shouldn’t listen to any of the things that you tell yourself past a certain time of night. Your brain can start going in a million different directions and put in you bad places. That’s just the way it is.

On the flip side, though, sometimes those are the purest hours for thinking. You aren’t distracted by everybody on the planet. Your mind isn’t drowned out by the world. It’s just you in the middle of the night. willa

It can be so powerful.

In my experience, the thoughts that you think in the middle of the night, right before you go to sleep, are either your worst nightmare or the wisest thoughts you’ll ever think. The truest, purest, most heartfelt thoughts. There really isn’t any in between.

So pay attention. Pay attention to where your heart takes you in those beautiful, vulnerable moments. It very often will guide you to the places you need to be if you let it. You’ll see.

The best part about this children’s book that I used to read to Josie is that the thing that gives Willa the most comfort, the thing that makes her excited to go to sleep just so that she can wake up in the morning, is the knowledge that Willoughby will be there in the morning. Just like always. That’s the happiest thought for her. And I love that.

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. 

I'm Just Saying

Is It Cool That I Said All That?

Something happened to me today that hasn’t happened to me in a very long time. I was sitting with my family, enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, and suddenly I got the very strong feeling that I needed to write a blog post. 

I have had this blog for five years now. And it has been through many highs and many lows. But through everything, it has always been the place I’ve gone to that houses all of my thoughts. It has been there for me through thick and thin. I’ve gone through times when my views and comments have exploded and I’ve made tons of new friends, and times when nobody ever visits. Which I think is a normal thing. 

It’s just always been my place to come and let everything out. And it’s been a while since I’ve done that. 

The problem that I’m facing tonight is that I have so much on my mind. The last several weeks have been a really interesting time in my life, and there’s a lot going on in my head. But since it is Thanksgiving, I feel this obligation to write about the things I’m grateful for and all of that. But to be honest, the last weeks have been really hard and being grateful has been something I’ve had to give an active effort towards. (An effort that hasn’t always been successful… or successful at all, really.)

You know something? SO much of life is unsure. I think that’s just the nature of life. There’s always going to be something we don’t know. There’s always going to be something we don’t think we’re ready for. This happens to me a lot, actually. I have had several experiences in my life when I thought that I was set and everything was going to be fairly steady for a while. And then all of the sudden everything changes and it’s all unsure again. 

When this happens, my strategy is usually to just hang on to what I know to be true and ride the wave. But it isn’t always as simple as that. 

I am at a time in my life when I have a lot of really big decisions before me. And if I’m being completely honest, my absolute ideal for the next year of my life would probably shock everybody that I know. But I’m not sure what’s going to happen. It’s almost like I’m living day to day right now. Just waiting for whatever life decides to hand me next. 

As a very spiritual person, this is sometimes hard for me. I have this relationship with God where He will tell me something about my life in an incredibly powerful way, and then tell me to trust Him. In order to explain this a little bit better, it’s almost like somebody really, really influential and powerful in your life telling you that all of your wildest dreams are going to come true. Absolutely and completely. But you have to just trust them and they’ll take care of it. And they’ll let you know what to do every now and again. Your job is simply to believe what they’ve told you and do your best. 

It sounds really great, I know, but it’s more frustrating in practice. I think it’s God’s way of teaching me that I can’t control everything and that ultimately He is in charge. I think it’s His way of letting me know that He’s aware of my life and the things I want in the deepest part of my heart, and showing me that He’s ultimately got everything taken care of. 

Trust is hard for me. It always has been. I’m not exactly sure why. I’ve gotten much better at patience, but trust not so much. 

In learning patience, I have learned that it is something you have to continually work on. And ideally, you should never run out of patience with anyone. I have only had to deliberately cut somebody out of my life one time. And honestly, it wasn’t my favorite thing. I wish I hadn’t had to do it. I don’t think that’s the way we should have to live our lives.

Maybe trust is kind of the same way. There are definitely people in our lives who betray our trust. There are a lot of circumstances, I understand, and in the end, I think we just have to be the judges of what we are patient with and what we trust. But when all is said and done, I don’t want to be the kind of person who doesn’t trust. I don’t want to be the kind of person who doesn’t have patience. I don’t want to be the kind of person who can’t trust God to fulfill His words. 

There is a sentiment that’s been floating around my life recently. Essentially it’s that you should remain breakable, but be strong. If I’m being honest, I only agree with this in theory. The truth is that I’m tired of being breakable. Because I’m actually a very breakable person. I’m tired of that. But I don’t want to have an ice castle for a heart, either. And as a person who feels a crazy amount of emotions ALL THE TIME, that would be the alternative. 

Another thing I’ve learned, and I’ve written about this a lot, is that life is very individual. It’s actually really hard for somebody to say: this is how life goes, live your life this way. Because everybody’s story is different. For example, one of my older sisters got married at 18 and now has 6 children. She and her husband have been married 10 years. They love each other very much, and they are very happy. They’ve had a great life together and will continue to.

And because this is her story and she’s been so happy, she has the tendency to think that everybody should have the same story as her. I think we all do this to some degree. But that just isn’t the way that life works. She and her husband didn’t date for very long before they got married, and to be honest, we were all a little worried about the whole thing because of that and because they were so young. But that is their story and it’s been great for them.

My other older sister does the exact same thing. She’s even more forceful about the whole, “This is the way love works…” thing. But I am with somebody right now who I care about very, very much. And our story couldn’t be more different than either of my sisters’ stories. The point is that everybody’s story is different. But that doesn’t make one story better than another. It doesn’t mean that there is a way that everything has to play out. Life is just different for everybody. 

Sometimes when I post on my blog a lot of the thoughts that are rolling around in my head I expect some kind of repercussion. I write things out that feel incredibly bold to say, and it’s like I wait with bated breath to see if anything’s going to happen. Nothing ever does, but I always wait to see if it will.

Sometimes I’m tempted to think negatively about this and think that my thoughts just aren’t worth commenting on, but other times it actually helps me to know that my thoughts aren’t so uncommon. I think a lot of people feel uncertain. A lot of people are worried about things. A lot of people hope that everything in life works out. A lot of people are waiting with patience and trust and putting their thoughts out there for the best version of their story. 

Is it cool that I said all that?

Just Writing

A Different Kind of War

A Different Kind of War

It is a different kind of war we wage when it comes to love. For in finding our center of gravity we also let go of everything that ties us to the floor of certainties. We don’t realize how many puzzle pieces are missing until we find the soul who owns them. Within this completion is a sense of peace unheard of. Within this wholeness dwell the innermost truths we never dared to whisper out loud, but only dreamed we would actually feel someday. And within this orb of unheard truths we step forward together, hand in hand, heartbeats syncing. We don’t know what is around the blind corners, but nevertheless, we do not let go of each other. Because if nothing else we have discovered that the world makes no sense if we aren’t together.

It is a different kind of war we fight when it comes to love. There are monsters behind those corners, and they attack our orb of pink gold light with weapons made of shadows. But I will fight back to back with you against these attacks and the dark places, those innermost truths my weapon. And if our light sputters and we lose some of the battles, we still press forward hand in hand: always stronger together. Perhaps a day will come when I am not strong enough to fight. When thick gray fog rises to obscure the intricate ties that bind our hearts and souls together. If this should happen, please find me again, and hold me in the home of your arms. Until the beat of your heart beside my ear heals all of the broken parts and makes all of those ties even stronger.

It is a different kind of war we face when it comes to love. As we continue forward we will glimpse peaceful cities and rolling fields so vibrantly green, and perhaps we’ll jump into rivers and dry off again under brilliant rays of sun. We will not always have to fight shadows and monsters. But if a day comes when we enter a dark wood and you should lose your way, remember that I will find you. Or if you find yourself facing an impenetrable wall on all sides, know that I will not stop until I conquer the wall brick by brick. And if it should happen that you fall inside yourself, trapped at the bottom of your soul, never forget that I will always reach for you and pull you back towards the light. One day there may be problems I cannot fix. But I’ll hold you as close as I can while I fight ghosts that haunt you. And keep you safe until morning.

It is a beautiful kind of war we declare when it comes to love. And we know it isn’t a constant war, and in the end, the plenty will outweigh the famine. Perhaps there will be days when I wear a white dress that tickles my feet, and we’ll visit hilltops or orchards of apple blossoms. Or perhaps we’ll find a peaceful library with a nook containing just enough pillows. You’ll read something French and I’ll stick to the Postmodern. And the days like this will make it easier when the white turns to red, and we find ourselves in battle again.

I visited a cathedral once. And saw rows of standards taken into battle. Flags that had seen so much death, and had somehow made it home. Now they hang in places of sanctuary and God. A testament to their victory, to the preciousness of what the fight was for.

I'm Just Saying

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.

I'm Just Saying

Thoughts On Plan B

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

I find it incredibly beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

And so I live my life for Plan B.

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

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

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

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