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. 

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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?

Don’t See Me! I’m Sneaking!

In the days when my family was very young, my parents lived in a double-wide trailer on the family farm. I have vague memories of this house, which we now refer to lovingly as The Blue House. It was situated at the bottom of a hill which held two massive rock piles we aptly named The Big Rock Chuck and The Little Rock Chuck. Back then I thought they were completely massive. (Age and perspective, as well as later visits, have assured me that The Big Rock Chuck is, in fact, quite massive. The Little Rock Chuck, not so much.)

mountainsMy mother had a rule that we were never supposed to play on The Big Rock Chuck, which was a rule we obeyed most of the time. When I was that age I imagined that these huge rock piles had once been a medieval castle. The home of a great king who ruled the land with power and influence. I even imagined once, when I found a formation of rocks that looked rather like a chair, that I had found the ancient location of the throne room.

And this was the playground of my youth. In front of the house was a stunning view of the mountains and a wheat field that was brilliantly gold in July and August. It was absolutely stunning. A very rare place to have a very rare childhood, I now realize. But as beautiful as it could get in the summer, it was equally beautiful in the winter. The entire land is covered in a thick blanket of snow until you can’t really remember where one field ends and another starts, and every here and there telephone poles jut out of the blank canvas. It’s lovely.

But there were dangers.

In the summer, the biggest danger was always rattle snakes. Oh, we got super good and hearing them and running away really fast to get help. If they were far from the house we would leave them be, but if they were close to the house my dad would come home from work long enough to kill the snake and dispose of the head. (It’s still very venomous and dangerous even after being separated from the body.) It was something he’d been trained to do his whole life, as shown by the little green jar of rattles he now keeps on a shelf behind his desk.

But in the winter, the danger was the ice and snow. On the farm, the winter can get exceedingly brutal. Very high winds, unheard of low temperatures. You name it. Winter as epitomized in every “I’m-lost-on-a-mountain” movie ever made. Winter is kind of scary at the farm.

It is in this context that one of our very favorite family stories occurred. The characters of this narrative are my mother, angel that she is, and my older brother Jud. He was about two years old at the time, which means that I was not a being who yet lived upon the earth. However, this is one of my favorite stories that we bring up as a family.

One snowy day, my brother Jud wanted to go outside and play. However, my mother wouldn’t allow it for one reason or another. Probably because we lived in the North Pole, or close to it, anyway. I think the weather was particularly harsh that day, and so for obvious reasons my mother didn’t see fit to let her two-year-old go outside and play.

This, however, did not stop Jud.

One thing it is necessary to know about Jud is this: he gained the nickname Mowgli. mowgliSome of you may immediately recognize this name for the character in The Jungle Book. Jud became Mowgli early on in life, and to this day he still responds to it occasionally. Why was he named Mowgli, you may ask? Because he never, ever, ever kept his clothes on. He ran around in a diaper or his underwear until he was fairly old, but I’ll keep those details private for the sake of his modesty.

So, on this very snowy day when my mother informed Jud he wouldn’t be able to go outside and play in the snow, she discovered him only moments later at the back door trying to open it. Wearing a diaper, boots, scarf, and hat. At seeing this sight, my mother asked, “Honey, what are you doing?” Jud turned around, facing her with wild eyes as he responded:

“Mom! Don’t see me! I’m sneaking!”

When I was three years old my family built a house in town. We now lovingly refer to this residence as The Town House, even though it was not, in fact, a townhouse. Merely a house that was located in town. For many years we moved back and forth between The Blue House and The Town House. Blue House during summer and potato harvest, Town House during the school year.

When I was probably about eight years old we began living permanently in town, as we’d given the use of The Blue House to my aunt and uncle. That was hard for us, but a few years later we moved back to the farm permanently to a different house and have been very happy with that choice.

Now, in this time of life when we lived permanently at The Town House, I was what you might call a daddy’s girl. I spent as much time as possible with my dad. We were the very best of friends. Which also consequently means that I probably got away with more things than I should have.

One night I remember very clearly. My older siblings, rebellious teens that they were at the time, had all been banished to their rooms. For reasons I do not know and can only attribute to my status as the favorite daughter, I was not forced to go to bed. I was sitting by my dad’s chair watching a movie with him and my mom. When very suddenly, a major rule was broken.

audreyOne of the bedroom doors opened. And one of my siblings emerged.

Completely unheard of under the present circumstances of: go to your room and go to bed. Do not come out until morning.

It was my sister Jessie. Ever the bold one.

She emerged from her room wearing a huge, poofy blue parka with fur around the hood and a large pair of sunglasses (very Audrey Hepburn). In this disguise, she walked through the living room and into the kitchen, got a glass of water, and then went back to her room.

We. Laughed. So. Hard.

My dad literally could not be mad at her. Her disguise was everything she needed to gain access to the kitchen and a drink of cold water. Mission accomplished.

What I absolutely love about both of these stories is how blatantly obvious, and quite hilarious, the “rebellion” is. Jud was very clearly not going to last out in the snow in his diaper, boots, and hat, and Jessie was obviously recognizable despite the parka and sunglasses.

But they tried anyway. One successful, the other not. Both equally funny.

I’ve been thinking about these stories today, and what they mean in several different contexts. And interestingly enough, I have found a parallel between these stories and something else. Something that makes so much sense to me.

God knows us perfectly. Completely and perfectly.

It is like the story of Jonah and the whale in the Bible. Jonah legitimately thought he could hide from God. And while Jessie didn’t legitimately think she was fooling anyone in her disguise, but she knew she had humor on her side. In Jud’s case, he was just fiercely hoping he wouldn’t get caught.

I know that I have done similar things a million times.

Sometimes it can be so hard to understand that God knows and loves us perfectly. Sometimes we try to hide away from Him, disguise our lives, or sneak away. Sometimes we have experiences where we just want to move in our own direction, in our own way, and throw behind our shoulder, “Don’t see me! I’m sneaking!”

But even though we are intelligent beings with our own minds, our own plans for cherishedourselves are never as amazing or perfect as God’s plan for us. Surprisingly, though, it takes a fair amount of humility and courage to admit that we shouldn’t be sneaking into the snow storm.

I love that these stories brought me to this spiritual parallel because both of them are some of the funniest stories in the family repertoire. And when compared to our relationship with God, it helps me remember that He loves me completely and perfectly. And yes, He can see through my disguises and see me sneaking, but He always loves me.

He knows.

Perhaps that can be ominous, but for me, it is the biggest comfort in the world. I don’t have to hide anything from God. Because He knows me. I can be completely honest and transparent with Him because He understands. He gets it.

So while the world may be confusing at times, or even a place of turmoil, I never have to be afraid.

Forever is Stronger

Have you ever had an experience where the darkness seems so much stronger than the light?

I have had this thought on my mind quite a bit lately.

candleThis post is a hard one for me to write. It is one of those posts where I have the thoughts and feelings rolling around in my head for a very long time. And for whatever reason, I then decide that it is okay for me to pour out my soul to whatever human decides to stumble upon my internet space.

When I write these posts, there is usually one thought that ends up pulling it all together. One thing that brings it home and helps me make sense of it all. And maybe that’s the real point of posts like these. That I somehow make sense of it all.

When I was fifteen years old, my older sister Jamie had her first baby boy: Barrett. He wasn’t the first grandchild, and so obviously being an aunt wasn’t new to me. But for some reason, it was different. Maybe it was because it was my sister’s baby this time instead of my brothers’. I’m not really sure. But from the moment he came into the world my nephew Barrett has been one of my best friends. He used to call me when I was in my first year of college and say things like, “Hey, Jordan. Where’s you at?” or, “When you coming to see me?”

But today I remembered something that I had forgotten about. A memory with Barrett that was actually one of the most precious moments in my life.

One day, only a few months after Barrett was born, I got to rock him to sleep. I was sitting in a chair in my bedroom. It was slightly cloudy outside, a light rain falling against the window. I remember looking down at him: so tiny, and so completely perfect. And I suddenly felt the most overwhelming peace and love. A feeling unlike anything I’d ever felt in my life. And I was struck with the powerful realization that this baby, this little life, was the most sacred, precious thing in the world.

It didn’t take long for tears to start streaming down my face. door

I wish I could say that this moment turned a dark night into a bright day. That it changed everything and that nothing was ever the same again. But this wasn’t the case. It was, however, a moment that lit a candle in a dark room and gave me hope for the day when the drapes would be cast aside to let the sunlight stream in.

Let me explain: for as long as I can remember, physical touch has been very hard for me. I’ve never been an overly touchy person. It takes me quite a while to be comfortable with touching people, even just hugs. Even with my family, many of whom are very touchy, I sometimes have to put up some physical barriers. What is hard about this quirk of mine is that as far as love languages go, physical touch is probably my first language for both giving and receiving love. So you see the paradox I’ve lived in my whole life.

It was never really an issue until I got older, and started thinking about boys and relationships. I had a lot of guy friends, but when it came to the thought of anything romantic I never felt good about it. Not with anyone. To make a long story short, I eventually had to face the reality that the thought of holding hands with somebody or kissing somebody actually made me physically ill. It made me shaky and scared. I couldn’t do it.

What followed all of this was an extremely long process that took years.

All spelled out like this, it really isn’t surprising that it was eventually revealed that I experienced sexual abuse in my past. I say “revealed” because it wasn’t something that I remembered. It took some extensive therapy and a lot of really hard moments. And believe me, coming to the discovery wasn’t easy. You see, it happened when I was very young. Probably about the age of 6, which is why I don’t really remember anything.

What makes this hard is that I still had to live with the consequences of the experience. That years later I was still haunted by it. That it kept me from living my life and doing things that normal people are excited to do.

tunnelAnd it wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that as a child I experienced something that horrific. And it wasn’t fair that it made something that’s supposed to be exciting and good horrible and terrifying. When I came home from my very first date I went into my room and cried. And the worst part is that it was a lovely date with one of my best friends. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time. Nothing bad happened at all. But the very thought that I’d been on a date, that I’d been in a setting where romance could’ve been possible completely sent me over the edge.

And that wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that I was stuck with these fears. It wasn’t fair that I had had this thing happen to me and I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t have protected myself. I couldn’t have stopped it. I was the victim of something absolutely horrendous. And not even just as a child, but for the rest of my life after that.

That wasn’t fair.

And it was so overwhelming, so horrific, so terrible, that for years I just convinced myself that I was better off alone. That I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ever even try to be in a relationship. I wasn’t capable of breaking down walls that dark. And for years I was content with that understanding. I simply accepted the fact that this was my lot in life. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way it had to be. Because I couldn’t be anything else.

Obviously, this is no longer how I feel. And there is an even longer story mountainwrapped up in that. I can’t say that I’m 100% cured of every fear and insecurity that comes with having this in my life. To this day, there are moments that it overwhelms me. Where it brings me to tears. Where I am struck once again with just how horrible it is. And that it isn’t fair.

But back to this moment with my nephew Barrett: it was the beginning of the healing process for me. Because I was able to see, for the first time, how a physical relationship between two people created the most precious thing in the world. And I understood, even just a little, how sacred it is that a man and a woman can love each other that much. That they can literally create life. The beauty in that is indescribable.

It also taught me the incredible nature of the human soul. I looked down at that baby and knew how precious he was. I looked at him and knew how amazing he was. That he was going to move mountains.

It was a moment that taught me that even though I was surrounded in darkness about the most important things in life, love and a family of my own, that one day it wouldn’t be that way.

There are moments in life so dark that light is nothing but a vague concept.

sunThere are moments when darkness is so, so much stronger than light.

But they are just that: moments. Brief shadows.

But that experience with my nephew, that moment, was a glimpse into eternity. A perspective so much wider than the darkness I was facing in the moment. A promise that my forever was so much stronger than the horrible things that I had experienced in a brief shadow.

So I guess the point is this:

Forever is stronger.

 

 

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.

The Predetermined Poem

I recently had this idea for a poem. Now, it’s a really intriguing idea, and I’ve heard of poets doing similar things. But there are several potential problems/facts that come along with this idea. But first, the idea itself.

By now, you are all aware of how important music is to me. I’m constantly listening to music, writing about music, trying to find the perfect song to fit my mood. I’m really, really into music. One of my favorite things about finding a new favorite song is identifying that ONE LINE in the song that strikes a chord in my soul. That one line in the whole song that says everything I need it to say.

I recently wondered – what would happen if I took all those lines that struck my heart and created one giant heart-striking piece of literature? What if I took all those lines from all these songs I love and made a poem out of them? My first thought was something grandiose about my level of genius.

But, like I said, there are a few factors to consider:

  1. I know A LOT of songs. Like thousands and thousands and thousands of songs. Making this a ridiculously huge project from the get-go.
  2. Is this even legal??? ……I honestly don’t think so.
  3. I won’t get to choose what this poem is about. Essentially, every song is about love. This is going to be a giant love poem filled with heartwrenching lyrics. So there’s that.
  4. How do I choose which songs to use and not use? How do I choose lines that will somehow all work together?

All of these factors and several others not here mentioned make this project and its aspects:

  1. Something I now have to do just to see if I can do it
  2. An unnecessarily extra thing I’ve now decided to do
  3. Largely predetermined due to the nature of songs
  4. A very interesting writing challenge

So I’ve been working on this project and it has been really interesting. I’ve come to the conclusion that this project must be done in chunks, and we’ll see what happens. I’m also not even sure what to do with this project once it’s finished…due to the fact that I’m quite certain it isn’t legal.

One thing that has surprised me about this project is that even though I strictly have to work with just the lyrics – no adding words – there is still quite a bit of room for me to create something that I love. I can still arrange the words into a pattern that means something to me.

I finished the first chunk of this project this evening. Which consists of some of the artists I listen to regularly and the lines of only some of their songs that have always really touched me. I’ve decided to share this chunk of the project with you. Enjoy:

The Predetermined Poem

I said, “Remember this moment”,
in the back of my mind.
Cause you feel like home,
you’re like a dream come true.
Feels like this could be forever right now:
everything will be alright
if you keep me next to you.

When all those shadows almost killed your light,
I saw a shooting star
and thought of you.
And it’s so quiet in the world tonight,
the truth is I never left you.

I’ve been there too a few times.
I thought, “Heaven can’t help me now.”
Just grab my hand
and don’t ever drop it.
Come morning light,
you and I’ll be safe and sound.

You can see it with the lights out:
how the kingdom lights shined
just for me and you.
And pain gets hard,
but now you’re here
and I don’t feel a thing.
I think I might give up everything
just ask me to

I’ll be waiting,
all there’s left to do is run