The Silver Locket

The Silver Locket

Though he was the one who came to say goodbye,
she was the one who walked away.
She had already begun the walk
weeks before when she realized that he
had never left the war.

She heard in his voice the remnants of
who he had once been.
The man who had very carefully
unlocked her heart and claimed it.
The man with the heart of gold.
Who challenged her to be better.
And kept her safe.

When he was with her now,
that man shone from his eyes.
And she knew he was still there.
Waiting to be rediscovered.
To come into the light once again.
But for now, he was different.
The war had changed him.

The mistakes were all jokes.
And the black words were too ready.
The people around him let him
stay in the shadows.
She watched it and it broke her heart.
The way he was now.
How she couldn’t seem
to bring him back.

So when he came to say goodbye,
it should’ve been a storm.
But it wasn’t.

They spoke of all the things
that bound them together.
And she knew that wouldn’t change.
She held his hands in hers.
The way they had always done
when they couldn’t bear to part.

Everything between them
poured together, strong and true,
just as always.
And when they pulled away
their hands held silver lockets.
She held hers in her hand and knew
it contained everything.
She pressed a kiss to the silver and
put the chain around her neck.
It settled against her heart.

As she walked away from him,
she imagined that he kept
his locket with him.
In his pocket, perhaps.
Or maybe he left it there.

But the world is round.
The storms were all cleared.
The road before her was strong and true.
There was joy.
And freedom.

 

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Clean

I have so much on my mind tonight. Usually, when this happens to me and I decide to blog about it, I try and bring all back to one theme. I think it’s my way of trying to make sense of it all and put it together in my brain into something that I can process. And then I just happen to publish it and let all of you read it.

But this time I just want to get everything that is on my mind out there. And I’m hoping and praying that I can communicate it in a way that conveys exactly how it is all going on in my head.

I’m not one for New Years. I never have been, and honestly, I can’t say that I ever will be. It has always frustrated me that we have this one time when the entire world decides to start over, but then none of us actually do. That’s why I never make New Year’s resolutions. Not because I don’t think I can keep them, but because if I’m going to make a life-changing promise to myself I’m going to do it whenever I please. Any day is a day when we can start over.

My sister-in-law was trying to explain it to my nephew on New Year’s Eve that the next day was a new year. And his little five-year-old brain could not fathom it. He just couldn’t understand what that meant. So much so that later that night at our family party he remarked to my sister, “Hey, Aunt Jamie, did you know that tomorrow is a new day?”

And while that story is incredibly adorable, it is also incredibly profound.

He couldn’t understand the idea of a new year because in his mind every day is a new day. Every day is the beginning of something else. I think we should all have this perspective in mind. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a New Year’s resolution or anything like that. It’s a great time to start over, and I’m starting over in many ways. But every day is a new day. Every day is a moment when we can make new promises to ourselves.

We’ve been doing this thing in my family, and by that I mean it’s been my mother, my sisters, and I, where we have been choosing one word for our 2019. The word that is going to be our year, the word that is going to define who we are and what we do and how we feel going into a year that promises a lot of change for all of us. It has been really fun to hear everybody’s different words.

My younger sister Josie burst into my room last night – I’m still home for the holiday break – and roused me from my almost-asleep state to inform me of her word. It came to her in the shower, as all good ideas come to most people, and it was my privilege to be the first person she told. She turns 18 this year and is going to be starting all sorts of adventures. It is only fitting that she chose the word: Fearless.

What I love about this choosing a word exercise is that it hasn’t just been something we all decided. It has taken prayer and meditation and thought. It has been a process of figuring out where we are and where everything is going to take us. My word wasn’t something I decided or came up with. It came to me and felt right and perfect for the year ahead of me.

Clean.

This word came to me because I have had so many incredible experiences this last year that have seemed to cleanse me from several years of very hard experiences. For the longest time, I felt like all of the hard things I’d been through, all the pain and suffering and personal trauma, had made me somehow dirty. I felt used. Broken. A patchwork of parts that somehow still had a heartbeat.

But that is not me anymore.

I had an experience several weeks ago where my emotions did this crazy thing and it felt like I was literally walking through a freezing fire. And when I came out on the other side I was completely clean. And I felt powerful and fierce and free. Free in a way that I had never known I could feel.

And so here I am. I feel completely new and different, and yet I am exactly the same. I am still so much me. So completely myself.

I realized that I still want all of the things I ever wanted before I walked through that fire. But it all feels different now in a way that is hard to explain. I do not need things like I did before. I have always been one to hold on to things so tightly. I have depended on things and people. I have needed them. But I no longer feel this way.

In my head, love has always been tied with need.

I realized that this is not right. That is not the way love works. No matter what kind of love you are talking about, love is not about need. When you love somebody, anybody in any way, it is not about you needing them or them needing you. Now the bottom line in life is that we do need each other. We can’t survive this life without each other. That’s why we have friends and family and significant others.

But saying that you need somebody takes away your own ability to be there for yourself. It takes away your own strength and power, and it puts them in a position that they can never fill. They can never fill this position because it isn’t their job.

The only one you really need is God.

He is the only one who can fill that position. He is the only one who can be there for you all the time, 100%, completely and truly. It is far more important that you keep people in your life not because some part of you thinks it needs them, but because you want them there. Because it makes sense. Because it feels right.

Life is such an interesting thing.

It is so interesting because it is so short. It goes by so incredibly fast. And yet everything that happens is so important. Crucial. When you believe in the afterlife as I do, you have to understand that the things you do every day, the decisions you make, impact your eternity. And it’s crazy because this life is just a blink of an eye, really. And yet we have all that forever. It’s a little bit scary but also so amazing. It means that any hardship, any struggle, any black moment will not last. It can’t. Our souls are much bigger than that. It’s incredible because it means that no matter what complications or hardships arise, we are capable of making the correct decisions that will bring us true happiness literally for eternity. It’s an absolutely spectacular thing.

I hope that at least some of the things I’ve written about have made sense. Whoever you are, reading my blog, thank you. Thank you for reading it. Thank you for being here if you’ve been here for a long while. Thank you for being here if you’ve only just arrived. Thank you for reading my words.

This one is for all of you:

I hope that your 2019 is a spectacular one. I hope that you break free from any chains that bind you. I hope that you find the strength you never knew you had. I hope you become clean from any parts of the past that haunt you. I hope that anything that you have lost that is meant for you comes back at the perfect moment. And that it is more perfect than it ever was. And it isn’t something you need, but something you want. I hope that you always remember that anything worth having in life, any happiness worth achieving, is worth working for and hoping for. I hope that great things flow into your life. I hope you have wonderful adventures and so many laughs.

Bless you.

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. 

What Happens After “The End”?

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to change things. I have always wanted to be able to make the world different, or at least make somebody’s world different. And since writing has always been something I have considered myself at least adequate at, I have always imagined that it would be through my written words that I’d be able to help make these changes. 

I’m honestly not sure if this has ever been the case. 

In fact, I realized the other day that I am 23 years old and if I disappeared tomorrow it is very likely that nothing would happen. I have made no significant changes in the world. And this thought didn’t necessarily come to me as something depressing, but it did make me think. It made me think about a lot of things. Mostly, it made me think about complexity. 

Have you ever wondered what happens after you read the words “The End” on a page or movie screen? What happens after they get home from their epic journey? What happens after the guy runs after the girl and they go off into the sunset? 

Well, I’ve got a few thoughts about this. 

I recently finished a novel in which (spoiler alert) the main guy goes after the woman he loves months after they’ve been torn apart. And honestly, the scene is very sad. You can tell that even after all they’ve been through and everything that has happened, they love each other so much. But they are both terrified. And she tells him that. And he responds with, “We’ll be brave together.” 

And even though it’s true, and very beautiful, what I don’t tell you is what happened later. About how it was very hard for her to ever trust him again. About how it tortured him every day that he had hurt her like that, and how he was worried it might happen again somehow. And I don’t tell you about how even though they loved each other very much there were still obstacles to overcome. There were still moments when they fell into old patterns and she was terrified and the emotional connection between them felt frayed. 

I don’t tell you that there were moments when she wondered if he really would be happier without her. I don’t tell you that he struggled wildly, too. 

I don’t tell you that there is so much more to “The End” than we all think. That “The End” is hard. That “The End” is really just a new bend in the road. That “The End” is just another way of saying, “Let’s start over.” 

But I think that the point of “The End” is to hint at all those things the creator doesn’t tell us about. The point of “The End” is to say that the storm has passed and whoever has faced it is stronger or happier or, if the story is wildly depressing, at least this one storm is now over. 

The point of my “The End” was to tell you that both characters were very, very aware that the future before them wasn’t an easy one. But that they would rather face it together, because they have discovered through all of the not being together that they were meant to face the storms side by side. And it doesn’t mean that it will be easy. It doesn’t mean that everything is now fixed between them. It doesn’t mean that it is all riding off into the sunset. 

It means that they found what they truly wanted, deep in their hearts, and fought for it even though they knew it wouldn’t be easy. It means that they decided to be stronger, even if they didn’t feel like it. It means that they decided to be brave together because it was worth the fight. 

The End

Songs As Open Notes

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

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

Dear Treacherous,
You’re just that.

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

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

Dear Tim McGraw,
You astonish me daily.

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

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

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

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

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.

Phoenix

Phoenix

There was a girl who stood
at the top of the world
we all watched her rise
and some of us were happy

She stood there and glittered
clean and untouchable

And then one day the world turned
and she fell from that place
we watched all the glitter shed
off of her like skin

None of us were there when she
hit the bottom of the sky

I thought about her often
and wondered about her death
If it had been white, red, or black

White like a soul escaping
stretched thin by its separateness
and burned away before the sun

Or crimson red like a broken heart
stuck in a pattern of beats
until it surrenders to the silence

Though perhaps it was black
like the souls of men who put flowers
on the graves they’ve created

But maybe it was none of those
and it was only gray

Gray like the ashes of an explosion
that was so beautiful
it killed everything to live

I think those ashes covered her
becoming new glitter
trying to convince her
of her new place in the world

And for a very long time after
we could not see her

Out of habit, we looked for her skyline
and all the lights were gone
we wondered about the aftermath
what would be there
if the ashes ever left the sky

I imagined a ring of fire
around the crater where she lay
and her eyes were closed
below the costs of ash and smoke

But one day they opened
and they were full of so much fire
that all her condemning flames
shuddered and withdrew from true might

She rose from the crater
brushing ashes and glass off her skin
like words that didn’t matter

with every step that she now took
across her new wasteland
a hot wind blew at the edges
of a once blue dress

She reached her hands high above
to a limitless sky
empty of the reels and negatives
while she declared,
“You don’t need to save me.”

And the world grew back

Instead of a mountain where she stood
it was a wide plain
wide and free

To this place she rose
and here she will rebuild
something much more beautiful
than all the shattered lights