I'm Just Saying

Just Do It, Please?

I have so many things going on inside of my head tonight. And if I’m being honest I have absolutely no idea how to get any of them out. I have begun this post three or four times and gone back and forth about whether or not to post anything tonight.

Earlier tonight I had a really great idea about what to post. I think it was going to be really wonderful, and I was quite excited about it. And then after three or four hours of homework in which I read two very shaking short stories and a 23 page article about Confucianism, I could no longer remember what this blog post idea was.

But still, I felt the need to come on here and say some of the things that have been rolling around in my head the last few days.

I’m not sure why.

Sometimes I feel this burning need to get something out, to say something that has been nagging at me. And I just know that after I get it posted and somebody out there reads it, something in the world is going to change. Maybe I’ll change somebody’s life and they’ll be inspired to act on my words.

I can’t say that this has ever happened in the years that I’ve been blogging. I also can’t say that it hasn’t, but I digress.

I’m fairly certain that I wanted to post something spiritual. You are all aware of how religious I am, and that my religion plays a huge role in my life.

Do you ever feel like you just say the same things over and over again in your creativity? I don’t even want to know the number of times I have posted something to the effect of:

Just do it. If God tells you to do something, do it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, there are unknowns. Sure, it’s scary. But there will never be a time in your life when you’re completely ready for something. There will never be a time when you know all the answers. Life is too short to wait around for whatever it is you’re waiting around for. Trust that God has a plan and He knows what He’s doing. And if you happen to do something really stupid and not do what you’re supposed to do, then get back on the path of doing what He told you to do. It’s never too late with God.

And since my mind is now blank, I’m just going to trust that this was, in fact, what I was meant to write to you all tonight. Even though I’m quite sure this is just me giving you the same post I’ve given you a million times. But if I am supposed to write it again, I can only assume from a spiritual perspective that that means that one of you isn’t getting the message.

Whoever you are, just do whatever it is you’re supposed to do. Please?

Just Writing

The Leaf

The Leaf

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on the high branches

one day she changed
to vibrant red and gold

she merely thought it was her time
the time she’d waited for

she didn’t know
she was about to die

in hues of majesty
she held onto her branch

overlooked the forest
and understood contentment

she watched her change
and was happy

she didn’t know
she was about to die

a wind came from the south
carrying black clouds

but she didn’t have strength
to hold on

it had been sapped
the colors had weakened her

she knew
she was about to die

somewhere deep in the forest
a leaf grew on high branches

one day the red and gold betrayed her
and she fell to the ground

and shattered on the forest floor
nothing to catch her

she hadn’t known
what it felt like to die

and there, upon the ground
the leaf stayed forever

ever slowly falling apart
blending into the brokenness

she watched the long life of others
saw their contentment

she watched as they knew
that they would never die

 

 

I'm Just Saying

The Way It Is

I have a secret love in my heart for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I wish I didn’t sound like such a typical woman admitting that, but I suppose that’s just the way it has to be.

balconyThe sad thing about Romeo and Juliet is how overdone it is. Pure and simple, everything about that play is overdone. The play is overperformed, there have been far too many movie adaptations, and the discussions surrounding it are also over much. Simply put, everything coming out of this play is just a little bit extra.

Which shouldn’t be surprising considering the fact that it’s about two people who would rather die than be without one another.

If you’re a human alive in this world, you know the story of Romeo and Juliet. And you also know everything that has been said about it. I believe that the most popular thing to say about this is: that’s just hormones.

Well. Okay then.

I’m sorry, but I’ve never bought this argument and I never will. I don’t really care how old Romeo or Juliet are supposed to be. Never have. Never will. Call me crazy, but I’ve just always looked at the play as a rather tragic love story. Kind of how Shakespeare wrote it. Shocker.

You can also attribute the reconciliation of a terrible feud to hormones, too. Probably.

A few years I ago I saw this play again, and even though I’ve always loved it, for some reason this particular time it really struck me. I mean, it really, really struck me. And I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I couldn’t fathom it, really.

Love.

They loved each other so much. They really, truly did. So much that everything they had always been taught or told didn’t matter because they had found their other half. And they were willing to throw everything away for that. Both of them had very bright futures within their families and sphere of influence.

I remember getting to the end and just crying.infinite love

And in my prayers later that I night, I was talking to God about it. And, bless His heart, I just sat there and cried some more. I remember praying about this story, about these characters. Even though it isn’t real. The lessons are incredibly powerful. I remember praying and asking that one day I’d be able to know what it was like to love that way.

A bold choice of words, coming from somebody who already feels things very deeply.

(Like super deeply. You guys don’t even know. It’s exhausting most days. There are so many times when I just want to look myself in the eye and be like, “Okay. If you could not feel so many feelings ALL. THE. TIME at this insane intensity that’d be great.” Unfortunately, I have a red hot don’t-tell-me-what-to-do streak and it also applies to myself. I’m working on that, though.) Looking back on it now I’m not altogether sure I really thought that one through. But hey, that’s life sometimes.

But I digress.

This last week I’ve had two very powerful moments that keep resurfacing in my thoughts. Both of them are just statements that really touched my heart. And I think the point of this whole post is to make sense of them. So bear with me.

The first was a statement from a book I finished reading this week. Now I have read this book at least 800 times. In fact, I’ve read this book so much that I can skip around and find all my favorite parts. I’ve read this book so much that I know the story as well as if I’d written it myself. I’ve read this book a lot. That’s all I’m saying.

But as I was rereading it this week, a phrase I had never noticed before hit me in the face.

second balconyThe main character is talking about the man that she loves. They have a very unique bond. One that surpasses your typical love story. Because all of the forces in the universe try and pull them apart. Literally, everything is working against them and both of them know that no matter what, even if they were to never see one another again, they belong to one another. That they were made for one another.

It is suggested to the main character several times that she ought to move on and forget him, to find somebody else and try and live as happily as she can. And in the course of these conversations she finally says something like:

Once you give your heart, you never get it back. Once given, it is gone forever.

The other phrase was something that my older sister said to me. I’ve been staying with her, her husband, and their two toddlers this week, helping out with the wheat harvest. Now my sister and her husband are an interesting story because on paper they shouldn’t work. But they do. Good grief, they are so perfect for each other it can be a little painful. Honestly. She was talking to me about it the other day as we drove through town, and she said,

We were just supposed to be together. We were meant for one another. That’s just the way it is.

And that is the truth. A lot of things were combining against them, and somehow they still pulled through. There was a moment when it got hard and they ended things. I don’t know the full story but I remember my brother-in-law said something like, “I just don’t know if I can be the man you deserve.” His past was haunting him, and he didn’t know if he could do it.

Obviously, things worked out because they are married now and have two beautiful boys. I think after a while he finally came back to her and said, “I know what kind of man you deserve and I know that with your help I can be that man. I’m a better me when I’m with you.” So they got back together and pushed through the unknowns and the past hurts as a team. And today they are the best example of a beautiful marriage that I’ve ever seen.

It’s so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes.

The reason I began this post with all my thoughts about Romeo and Juliet is that I think it never did run smoothillustrates these two ideas. They knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they belonged together. They were meant for one another. Once they had truly given their heart they weren’t going to get it back. But then again Shakespeare also wrote, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: the course of true love never did run smooth.

The tragedy of their love story lies in the fact that it took their death for love to win. I think it illustrates an absolutely beautiful point and was probably written to do so. It shouldn’t have taken that much for love to heal.

But at the same time, love like that isn’t easily found or given or maintained. Just like my brother-in-law realized, it can be really hard. And far too often a lot of painful factors get in the way and it can seem hopeless. But as he also realized, that type of love is also worth it.

That’s just the way it is.

 

I'm Just Saying

Just Revise, Please

I have an announcement to make. Everybody stand back and listen:

This week I finished my novel.

It is done. It is finished. I have finished it. One year after beginning it, this novel is finally done. I have had this story in my head for over a year now and this week I finished writing it.

It has been a very long time since I finished writing a novel, and I forgot how amazing it feels. I forgot how crazy it is to plan a part of a novel and then be actually able to write that part of the novel.

The end of this novel is like a bomb. Seriously. Everything just falls apart real quick. Seriously. It gets put back together fairly quickly, but the falling apart part is absolutely crazy. For a year I’ve been worried about writing these parts.

There are two parts in particular where my main character just kind of runs into a wall of reality. And the thing about writing things like this, at least for me, is that there doesn’t need to be a lot of fluff. It just happens. Kind of like running into a wall would actually feel.

I’ve been wondering about these two parts of the novel for the last year and hoping that when it was finally time to write them that I’d be able to convey everything all of the characters were feeling. I think I was able to do well. I feel quite confident about the project as a whole.

One thing that I really wanted to do for this book is eliminate unnecessary things. So if something did not directly contribute to the plot I did not include it in the story. Imagery is something I love in my novels, and is one of my strong suits as a writer.

But since I know it is something I’m better at I also know that I tend to get carried away with it. So it was actually really refreshing to write this book and keep reminding myself not to get carried away with things that didn’t need to be there.

As a result, it feels very bam-bam-bam to me. I can’t really think of another way to put it. But another reason I did this is because my main character has a lot of these similar traits. She’s very honest, very straightforward, and doesn’t like to deal with things she feels don’t matter. So naturally, it seemed like a novel from her perspective would follow the same type of pattern.

But when you finish a novel, there is always one glaring question:

What now????

Well, obviously I’ve been tweaking it like crazy. Something happens to me when I’m finishing a novel where I finish the last chunk in record time. I think I wrote seven or eight chapters in two days or something insane like that. All of it is just fighting to get out of my head and so I just write like…I’m running out of time. (I would’ve been struck been lightning if I hadn’t used a Hamilton reference right there. If you know Hamilton you’ll understand. Also, if you do know Hamilton let’s talk and be best friends, if you don’t I’m sorry.)

So because I wrote a huge chunk of my novel in record time revising has definitely been a thing. There have been quite a few moments of, “Oh! I forgot to write this one thing!” Actually, the other night something really incredible happened to me. At 3 a.m awoke very suddenly and realized something I’d forgotten and had to fix it then and there. For reasons I’ll never be able to explain I’ve always wanted that to happen to me. It finally did.

The thought of rewriting this novel it makes me want to cry. It doesn’t matter that this is actually a thing serious writers do. In my head, I’m finished with it so rewriting isn’t even real. Heavy, heavy editing, moving around, rewriting parts, yes. But actually starting all over? How does one actually do that?

To all of you writers who actually rewrite your novels from scratch, I salute you.

If you need me I’ll be revising.

I'm Just Saying

Ed Sheeran & Harry Styles

music heartbeatI am definitely one of those people who have so many feelings that sometimes I just have to be like: just this song. This song. Listen to this song and feel what I’m feeling, please. Listen to this song and you will understand.

Actually, I can pretty accurately break my life into musical phases.

If I had to name the musical phases I’ve been through this year, well, considering the title of this post it shouldn’t really come as a shock.

Ed Sheeran kicked off the year for me. 2017 held so many promises for me, and Ed edSheeran seemed to be the only one who truly understood what all of those promises were. My days were filled with his songs. His songs accurately portraying everything I felt, somehow touching the deepest things I was experiencing.

I think I died and got reborn all at once when his new album entered my life. I will say with absolutely no shame that I listened to “Perfect” on repeat for probably two weeks. (Though “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” and “How Would You Feel” snuck in for several days during this time.) I’d never had an experience like that before. It was like Ed just knew. He knew everything that was going on in my life and decided to contribute to my newest discoveries.

As 2017 ages, I don’t want to say that Ed lied.

perfect lyricsBecause I honestly don’t think Ed Sheeran is capable of lying.

(In fact, on a completely nonrelated note, I’ve decided that someday I need to write some sort of official essay on the cultural phrase “cinnamon roll”. For those of you who don’t know what this phrase refers to, quite simply it refers to a person who is a cinnamon roll to the human world. Very pure, very good. Genuine hearted. In this official essay, or maybe even a dissertation who knows, I will use three examples of the human cinnamon roll: Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

I heard once that if you are doing the right thing, your path will always be harder. If perfect lyrics 2you’re doing the right thing, it will always be uphill. I guess there is comfort in that, but still. Why do you suppose it has to be that way? Actually, don’t answer that. I know the answer. I’m just complaining.

The next phase of 2017 was, you guessed it, Harry Styles.

Now I could probably write a very lengthy post about all of the things that I used to think about Harry Styles. Back when I was doing my “I can’t do what everybody else is doing just because they are all doing it” thing. (I’m still working on that, by the way, and getting better.) In fact, earlier in the summer my roommate and I were driving around. I distinctly remember driving through Wendy’s to get a chocolate frosty, and she tried to turn on a Harry Styles song.

I distinctly remember saying, “Is this Harry Styles? Bleh. Turn it off, please.”

Karma, ladies and gentlemen, has been a close companion of mine this year. And it hasn’t always been fun.

HarryNevertheless, Harry Styles and I are on good terms now. I’ll avoid the specifics of my enamored feelings there because this post is actually supposed to be about music. So let’s continue.

“Sign of the Times” broke my heart wide open. Thanks, Harry. I honestly think I just cried when I first heard it. And then another time, my roommate and I went for another drive, and she played “Ever Since New York”.

I seriously doubt that she expected me to burst into tears and wail, “Who did this?? Who hurt him?? Why would you ever, ever, ever hurt Harry Styles??!!”

I’m not sure what it is about that particular British gentleman, but literally everybody I know has the fiercest urge in the world to protect him at all costs. Like, if I could protect Harry Styles from all of the bad things in the world then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again.

Oh, right. This post is about music.

Anyway, after Ed was no more, Harry Styles swooped in to two hearts lyricsave the day. Harry’s new album is quite honestly just gold. Don’t even get me started on “Sweet Creature”. It is too pure for words.

Because my emotions are so intense, I have to find periodic times when I can give myself an allotment of feeling. “Two Ghosts” is usually the song I listen to. You may think I’m kidding but I’m not. I sit in my car, turn on that song, and say to myself, “Self, you may have all the feelings you want for the next three minutes and forty-nine seconds.” About…5.5 times out of ten it does the trick.

two ghostsOkay, but am I the only one who hears “Two Ghosts” and just dies a little bit for Harry???? I just want to be like, “Bro! Go after this woman! Go after her! You’ll remember how to have a heartbeat, I promise! Go get her!”

Alright, if this post has taught me anything it is that I obviously need to write a separate post detailing all of my feelings about particular songs by Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles. Maybe that’ll be coming your way soon.

I have been writing my novel fiercely the last few weeks. And if I keep at it, I’ll be finished with it very soon. That’s both exhilarating and frightening. But I can’t wait. Someday you’ll have to remind me to tell you what music I listened to the majority of the time that I wrote this book. It will blow you away.

And now I’ve come to the end of this post. Go listen to some Ed and Harry.

Just Writing

The Truth About Broken Things

The Truth about Broken Things

The Fullston’s lived at No. 9 Chaddick Drive, just around the corner from the recruiting office. In the days following the bold black headlines of the Lusitania lines of men extended well past the front door. Their eyes all held different stories. Frightened or yearning for glory, and always perched above gray coats.

Eventually the gray spread to trousers and boots, and bled into the streets. And soon everything was gray except the signs for bonds.

At first I thought that it wouldn’t find its way past the front door. We kept it out for as long as we could, or at least I did. Mr. Fullston embraced the war, and for his sake Diana did as well. I don’t even think they noticed when the gray touched the marble and mahogany.

In the hallway outside the library was a mostly empty china cabinet. A shelf behind the dull glass held a colorful variety of tea cups. Diana once told me she collected them on her travels. In the years before meeting Mr. Fullston.

The gray touched the cups one by one. Hand painted flowers and bright rims eventually faded. And as I watched it happen I knew it would eventually reach me. It seemed the war would scar every inch of our lives.

When the lines had shortened and the obituaries were much too young, I noticed that two cups near the back of the shelf remained untouched. Behind the faded glass and rows of gray, the weak light reflected off their gold rims. The porcelain was a clean white. It spoke of purer times.

Each day I walked to the cabinet and pressed my fingertips to the glass. Just to look and see. To make sure that it hadn’t touched them. That it wouldn’t touch them. I was never sure what I would do if it had. I just hoped that it wouldn’t. It began to seem as though everything was hung in balance by that single moment each morning.

Diana asked me about it once, right before she left for one of her war effort meetings. I answered without thinking, “It hasn’t touched these two yet.” For a moment I was paralyzed with the notion that she wouldn’t understand.

She put her fur muff to the side, next to the boxes of gray clothes that were to be donated to soldiers. Her eyes were misty with confusion until she saw the cups. And a soft smiled graced her lips then. “I got those two when I was away at school. They were so simple. Ordinary, even. But perfect. Incredibly perfect.” She brushed a graying stand of hair from her eyes. “I usually only collected one cup at a time. But I couldn’t separate them. They were made to be together. I think that is what made them special.”

“They seem so…clean from the world.” My voice came out in a ragged whisper. To my surprise, Diana merely nodded.

“I’ll be back shortly, my dear. We’ll use them for our tea this afternoon.”

Mr. Fullston left soon after her, a telegram in his hand and a cigar jammed in the corner of his mouth. No doubt he was heading downtown to one of the large buildings with marble floors. I was never to know what he actually did there. He left clouds of gray smoke behind him as he closed the door.

I decided to wait until Diana came home from her meeting to get the saucers out. I was both excited and frightened to remove them from behind the glass. I needed the perfection Diana had spoken of to remain. And yet I had a small hope of absorbing their purity.

Perhaps it was this hope that caused the accident. I’ll never be entirely sure.

Diana sat at the table, our tea set before her as I removed the cups. They were dainty, yet somehow strong in their light clinking. I wiped them clean of any gray dust and walked back towards the tea room.

But the cups fell.

They slipped from my hands and shattered into fragments on the gray floor. I screamed. And I could not get to the pieces before the gray began weeping into them.

“No! No, no, no!” My tears splashed onto the tainted porcelain. But they didn’t wash it clean.

“It’s alright, my dear.” Diana’s voice was suddenly beside me. But I couldn’t seem to hear it. I frantically began gathering up the pieces, hardly noticing when one of them cut me. Then I saw that even my blood looked gray. And that was when I realized that there was no escape. There was no remaining untouched.

“We will fix them.” Diana’s voice came piercing through my realizations.

“But we can’t.” My voice was as raw as my new reality. “They are broken. I broke them. They were perfect and now they are tainted.” I was finally able to meet her eyes. “Diana, it’s all broken.”

Diana smiled at me, and then carefully picked up the fragmented cups. At her silent invitation I followed her to the kitchen where she scrubbed the blood from my hands. Then we sat at the large table and I watched her repair the cups. Piece by piece, the porcelain fit back together and the gold rims returned. Though I thought I would be forever haunted by the cracks.

“Everything gets broken from time to time.” Diana finally said, “But you should learn now that brokenness is never final. I told you earlier that I’ve always felt that the perfection we sense here lies in the fact that they were made for one another. Tainted or whole makes no difference.”

One day, the gray was gone. Perhaps it left on its own or perhaps I simply stopped seeing it. For the rest of the war I visited the china cabinet every day. I pressed my fingertips to the glinting glass and peered inside at the two white cups. And I often heard Diana’s voice in my head, teaching me the truth about broken things.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I’ve had this short story floating around in the gray areas of my mind for some time now. It wasn’t until recently, when I had a very wonderful conversation with somebody whom I love dearly, that I was able to put all the pieces together. I felt myself looking for some grand way to express the simplest truth I’ve learned this year. But it wasn’t until I stripped away the thoughts of grandeur that I could really see it before my eyes. Sometimes the grandest way to express our deepest truths is through simple means. It was a joy to write.

Just Writing

Say It In Writing

biggerWhen I blog, what I’m really doing is writing down all of the things I wish I could say out loud. I think it’s probably like this for most of us. Especially the writers. Writing is the way that we say the things of our soul. The things that we are thinking, feeling, and knowing, but can’t actually say.

I’m not sure what it is about our world, but none of us ever say what we really think. It’s much too raw. It’s much too real. And when we look back on it we have a tendency to be embarrassed. We have a tendency to wonder what we were thinking when we were so unabashedly ourselves. Or at least that’s what happens to me.

Honesty has been hard for me lately. Not because I’ve been lying like crazy, but because the truth has been very painful. I have let fear get in the way of my life for the past several weeks. And when I made one tiny move to try and let go of this fear, it proved to be a little anticlimactic. Even stupid. Go figure.

I wish I could explain to you all of the times I’ve prayed and gotten amazing answers. One of my friends told me today that God has been spoiling me recently, and I couldn’t agree more. It really is true. He has been. I’ve never been this close to Him in my entire life. Which is actually really good because I’m carrying a lot of crap around inside of my heart right now. And it isn’t very fun.

But what I really wanted to do tonight is say a few things to the most important people inchapter my life. I want to say what’s in my heart, and let them know what I’m actually thinking. And when I come back and read this blog post I don’t want to be ashamed. I want to be proud of myself for being this brave. I want to be okay with being vulnerable again. I want to be okay with saying what’s in my heart. Even if it hurts. So here it goes:

A: How could I ever explain to you how amazing you are? Seriously I’ve known you for such a long time and you never ever cease to blow my mind. I just want to be a fraction of your type of cool. You have so much strength in your heart and it honestly leaves me in so much awe. I hope that when you look in the mirror you see the woman that I see. We both know that I have a gift for seeing people as they really are, so don’t try and fight with me on this. I’m right. You absolutely shine. Thank you so much.

M: Thank you for teaching me how to be a dreamer. I wish you would stop dreaming and live your dreams now. Don’t be afraid anymore. It’s time to live. Just do it. Please.

perfect goodD: Thank you for teaching me to be a doer. I love you very much. Please don’t forget that sometimes your heart’s more important than your mind. In fact, I honestly think that that’s where all of our truth is. I wish you could see that.

H: Please never stop laughing. But also please remember that it’s okay to be sad. You don’t have to be perfect, and in fact you never will be. We’re all here to help each other. That’s the point. Thank you for holding me while I ugly cried, and smoothing my hair. And buying me Jimmy Fallon ice cream. And loving me through every disaster. You help me believe in the redeeming power of love, and that as long as we trust each other we can do anything.

S: You’re probably so tired of all that I have to say. And I wouldn’t blame you. So here’s all that I have to say this time: if God tells me to be patient with you one more time I’m going to lose my freaking mind. I’ll either have to actually do it or just be in open rebellion, harderwhich I don’t see ending well. Actually I tried that angle for a while, the angle of “oh my gosh I am so done because this bloody hurts” and suffice it to say… it didn’t end well. I laughed, but I’m pretty sure He was serious. I’ll tell you that story some day.

K: You’ve gotta trust yourself more than you do, girl. I wish you could see how incredibly bright your eyes are. There is so much there it kills me. Don’t let fear run your life anymore.

J: I love you so much. You teach me so much as our lives continue to unfold. But I wish you would stop treating me like an innocent child. I wish you could see that I have scars, too. The other day you told me that you kind of gloried in my pain, and that hurt more than I can ever say. I’ve experienced a lot of hurt, and a lot of things that have changed logicme. I’m not who I was in those days. And there were things about that person I was that you’ll never know or understand. She spent so much of her time being angry about love, but in her heart that’s all she really wanted. She wanted to believe in it. She wanted it to be real. It was all she really, really wanted. She prayed for it every day. That’s who she really was underneath everything you saw. I hope that someday you can trust me with every vulnerable part of you. That someday you’ll stop thinking that you have to change what you think because you’re with me. But dude, you’re a freaking rock star. Thank you for that.

homeJ: Just don’t be scared. Live your life as brilliantly as we all know you’re going to. And don’t you dare think for one minute that you have to prove us wrong or prove us right or prove anything. Do what makes you happy. Just let your awesomeness shine. And don’t you dare give up.

C: Where would I be without you???? I just have absolutely no clue. You are the greatest human. The greatest. The purest of cinnamon rolls. Thank you for being an amazing friend and an incredible woman. Seriously, you are the big sister in our friendship. It doesn’t even matter that I’m older than you. You have so much in you and it is dazzling.

certain thingQ: You make me believe in the goodness of humanity. You are the human that I’ve always wanted to be, but will probably never be great enough to be. But I’m so grateful for you in my life. You are #goals. Thank you.

Love,

Jordan