Inside

Off like a rocket it went

A brother dodging danger

A brief relief with a birthday and the beach

But when spring began it’s usual bloom

The warning signs began to blare

A virus, novel and like no other

From one corner of the world to the next

//

“Stay inside” reverberated some

While a so-called president twiddled his thumbs

Playing it off like a failed casino bet

Omission of truth, for who’s sake?

Declared a pandemic, despite the questioning and ignoring of common sense

Daily news briefs were almost too much to bear

Anxiety, chest pains, and lack of appetite by day

Depression descended as evening fell

//

“Routine, Productivity, Positivity!”

My body responding differently

I didn’t want comfort as much as I wanted personal connection

To physically feel common threads

My extroverted self a little lost in the hubbub

Afraid of losing the confidence I’d gained in the last year

//

So I stayed inside

Detesting “new normal”

Preferring currently reality

Though the unknowns loomed larger 

Than dormancy

A reprieve through walks and sunshine

Access to the water

Mom started a new chapter

The city came alive again

//

Behind closed doors

The desire to walk through fire

To support those who were struggling

To keep living, keep going

They needed me, and I needed them

Late nights

Deep conversations

Protective, patient, and learning how to hold space

Finding different ways

To carry them however I could

Capped by a reunion

A long time coming

//

And then the second wave

Predictable at one point

But could have been avoided

By collective responsibility and respect

The plea to stay inside again

Saved by the grace of changing colors and important milestones

I relished the tv specials

The snuggling up to read, watch, and just be

Real rest, without fear of missing out

My work in progress for as long as I can remember

//

But the fatigue is real

Body aches with unknown origins

Colder weather?

Lack of usual activity?

A response to stress?

//

Yet the most challenging aspect

Was not the confinement of four walls

But the confinement of thoughts inside my mind

Swirling around like storms

To reach out or give space?

To tell the truth, or pretend I’m ok?

Are you ok? Are we ok?

To ask for what I want/need

Or hold it in for as long as possible

//

Distraction could only do so much

When the healthy distractions weren’t always available

Overthinking, deeply feeling

Jealousy, more questions than answers

My prayers feeling dry and without heart

Sitting in the tension

I’m still learning

//

And as the calendar turns again

Cautiously Optimistic comes to mind

With new leadership

New possibilities

Changing seasons

A new year

//

I dream of music and dancing again

Lots of people

Opportunities for living

Being in nature

Assertive

Growing Confidence

Expression

Thriving

Roaring

A Virus and A Reckoning

 

There were initially whispers of warning

Something is coming, sickness will spread

That were largely quieted by selfish ambition

Self-preservation  over people

Stocks over saving lives

Drowning out concern with cries of “hoax!”

Denying experts the right and necessity to speak

And hiding the truth from all who needed to hear it

Not a big deal

It will go away

 

But it hasn’t, and now hear we are

Hunkered down to ease the rise and chaos

Daily life, collectively, has come to a screeching halt

Like misbehaved children, we are forced to think about

What we should have done 

In terms of heeding the cries of science

Weaponizing faith and privilege instead

Of being mindful and prepared

 

For extroverts, a new territory

How long has it been since I last stayed home this long?

No social gatherings, church, or bopping around the city

Like living in an alternate universe

How the actual hell did we get here?

But I welcome the resting, reading, and reconnection

 

And from this I’ve seen

That connection is essential 

To the human experience

Conversation, vulnerability

And physical touch

The latter which I crave

And miss the most

 

But where do we go from here

When a lack of leadership and transparency

Have brought us collectively

To such a dark place in history

A legacy stained by lies, corruption, and sickness

Those on the right side of history trust facts and science

More than blubbering buffoons 

 

I pray for healing, restoration, and protection

Accountability for politicians that looked the other way

That we may learn from this devastating season

Taking a damn good look at ourselves

What many have enabled

 

There might be dollars and so-called power in big business

But solidarity in the small and local

Heroism belongs to the every-day workers who cannot stay home

God go with all of those on the front lines of this crisis

Let us support them, honor them, and lend them our hands

For there is speaking truth to power

And power in speaking the truth

 

I anticipate the day

When I can wrap my arms around the people I love

Dance in public

And worship in community

A celebration unlike one I’ve ever felt or seen

Until then I pray for peace and ease

Waiting and expecting

Let it be so

And So We Rise

It has been over a month since the election, and I refrained from writing (let alone posting), because I wasn’t sure how to express my feelings. In some respects, that’s still true, which makes it challenging to have conversations on the subject. Since I’m a much better writer than a talker, I thought I would let these words be a symbol of my thoughts.

beach-1867285_1280

 

 

And So We Rise

 

After months of anticipation

And anxiety

It came down to one day

I cast my ballot and prayed

All through the counting hours as results rolled in

The outcome looked dark

The unknowns were swirling

Like my head after two glasses of wine

I cried at midnight

Physically sick

Like millions of others

Lamenting and asking why

 

The air had changed

From hopeful to questionable

It seemed like a free for all

Divided and pitted against one another

Us vs. them

And so I grieved

 

Politics is like a foreign language

One I only know bits and pieces of

I rarely speak it for a concern of looking silly

But now I know that consequences of not learning

At least to the extent that I should

It’s hard to understand

But not impossible

 

Reality TV is not real life

And real life looks grim on the surface

But let this not be a reason to hide

Or a reason to run

Let this be a wake up

Call to action

To be moved by compassion

To not rely on one person alone to represent us

Or fight for us

But to look in the mirror

And be the change we so desperately need

And so we should act

 

This chapter will not be an easy one

It might get worse before it gets better

But we cannot allow fear and cynicism dictate the direction

We as individuals and collectively

Want to go in

We might fall

And hit the bottom

Time and time again

But we keep going

Speaking

Writing

Teaching

Advocating

Together

And so we rise

Photo Credit

Life Lately: Different Kinds of Light

Some days, this post-graduate chapter that I’m currently embarking on feels like this: 


Fresh. New. Vibrant and colorful. In a way that when I look around I think to myself, this world and this life is yours, darling. Make it happen! It’s why I love mornings so much: to some people every sun rise is the same, but I honestly never know what I’m going to get as my make my thrice-weekly trek from the suburbs to the city. Somehow I manage to get this kinds of snapshots, either by luck or by knowing how to capture a beautiful moment when I see it. 

And that has served me well since moving back: despite not living with my parents and being away from my best friends (along with everything that I’ve come to know since I was eighteen), I can still confidently say that life is awesome. Life is awesome and God is good.

I love the environment that I’m in; it’s not only healthy, but it gives me the space and ability to focus on both my goals and who I am as a person. My therapist is great and working with her has uncovered a lot of aspects about myself that I didn’t know existed. Keeping a journal and having quiet time has done wonders, which is why I’ve come to cherish spending time alone. 

My relationships are getting stronger: through the discovery of FaceTime (I kind of find that a lot easier to use than Skype), I can keep in touch with friends and still actually see them, despite being hundreds. at times thousands of miles apart. I’m slowly building individual, adult connections with each of my parents; this past weekend was the first weekend I spent with them since August. 

I’m enjoying my internship and slowly making my way into the working world. I’m very much a city girl and every time I go there, part of me just lights up! I’m also getting involved in a church and connecting with other people, which has allowed a lot of spiritual growth and finding a sense of faith that I wasn’t sure I was going to have again. 


And then there are days when life feels like this: 


Foggy. Unpredictable and filled with more unknowns than I can count. It’s as though the world says You can do anything…as long as you have money. And not that money wasn’t a concern before, as demonstrated by the student lones that need repaying. Despite that, I do not regret one dollar that I invested in the last four years; I learned a lot more that went above and beyond what was required to get my degree, and for that I make no apologies. 

Nor will I do so for saying that I miss college. It wasn’t about the weekend fanfare or the difference in responsibilities, but about the community. It was about the beauty in the smallest of moments that have stayed with me to this very day, and probably will for the rest of my life. Those moments which in turn bore traditions, conversations, and friends that eventually became family. I’m grateful that I took the time to savor it, along with having the ability to do so. 

And I get that every transition comes with a variety of changes, but it still makes me wonder if such changes have to be so isolating. Why did one part of my life seem to be filled with magic and endless possibilities, while this one appears to come with an endless roll of red tape? I’m in the process of trying to do things for myself that will ultimately allow me to be somewhat independent without feeling like I’m constantly draining my bank account. Yet, it’s as though whoever came up with those concepts made it purposefully difficult to get access to them. 

I’m growing. I’m learning. But I only have so much energy, emotionally or physically. It makes me wish (or beg) for my brain to be quiet at night so I can stop having nightmares. (More so, now that I know why I have them, I wish they would stop all together). If I had a choice I would fix myself up tomorrow and call it a day. I don’t like being afraid to be vulnerable. I hate living in fear that trust will only result in abandonment. Greater is the fear that all of those things will keep me from truly experiencing life and love. I know that it breaks the hearts of friends and family members to see me like this: desperately trying to break out of a mold that has done more harm than good. A mold that started with the best of intentions but had completely different results.

I experience guilt for not going to church every Sunday since moving back. I genuinely want to connect and be involved, but yet I feel guilty about asking for rides or having to explain that I haven’t quite found a groove yet. This definitely warrants its’ own post, but going to church again is still a little scary. 

But wait…

Both of these images are different, yet one thing in common: they are filled with light. Some days reflect different shades, different colors, different seasons. Yet there is still light; and where there is light, there is hope. Hope that I don’t have to wait on time to make life easier or better, but instead be able to rise above my circumstances and make healthy choices for myself. It frees me to fully trust in where God is taking me, though I don’t really know where I’m going right now (Psalm 142: 3). 

This is the light that I not only see before me, but the kind that I pray that others will see in me. 

I envision being able to look back at this season in my life and not necessarily laugh, but realize there was a reason for it. What that reason is, I’m not trying to find out anytime soon. I’m content in waiting to see it when I’m meant to.

What I do know is that I am taken care of, and I will be OK.

When Silence Fails

I thought that after coming back to campus (the first time), I would be OK. It felt that way on the outside, but as the following poem says, deep down my feelings and emotions were like a sleeping monster.  When I went home for Country Thunder, it was like being slapped in the face (figuratively speaking). I did my best to keep quiet, but it made those three weeks a lot worse. 

And that’s why I haven’t really written on here in that time; I was afraid that by trying to discuss it in writing, it would come out wrong and be completely misinterpreted. I actually did try several times, but always wound up deleting it. I remembered that when I’m really sad or even angry, I write poetry as a response. So in the midst of trying to find a counselor or a pastor to talk to, I thought I would share this. I wrote it as a way of expressing how I’ve been dealing with these last two months, and my frustration at not being able to connect with the people around me.




The Life of Grief
Grief comes in many different forms
Morphing and changing with the passage of time
A tidal wave that washes over you, drenching you with tears
Chilled to the bone in shock
Natural, yet paralyzing
If not expressed, it can become a monster
Sitting in the underbelly of the layers of what makes us human
Clawing, tearing, and lashing
I try to keep it at bay for the sake of others
But I’m not one to hide or fake a smile
It’s just not possible
And when it finally breaks free
It can either feel good, or leave wounds
Deeper than when the first tragedy struck
Grief has two lanes
One where there’s a legacy to honor
To give love and spread kindness, as that person did
There’s no traffic and you just keep going
The other is when you can’t ignore the hurt beating against your chest
You can’t deny that something big has changed
While not knowing what the “new normal” is
Figuring out if maybe you’ve hit a detour
Or you’re dealing with a hurting or bruised
If not broken heart
This is not a something that anyone can ease
There is no such thing
As making the hurt and loss completely go away
But even if you don’t know what it’s like
To travel this road
That doesn’t mean your presence has no value
Pain has no comparison
So don’t wipe away their tears
And command them to be strong
This is not about avoiding awkwardness
Let them show what they feel
Connection doesn’t always mean sharing similar experiences
It doesn’t always have to involve words
Ask, don’t assume

If nothing else, embrace them
 And let them know you’re there
Not just in the physical sense
But that you support them
Even if you’ve never been in their shoes

You don’t have to hold their hand
Just walk with them
Respect their feelings and expression
And allow them to heal

photo credit: Paolo Margari via photopin cc

What IS Broken?

I’m taking excerpts of my own thoughts from my personal journal, because I hadn’t originally intended to write this as a blog post. But after reading Elizabeth Esther’s riveting piece  regarding how we teach children about being broken vs. being whole, I couldn’t ignore the urge to write about it for myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about brokeness, particularly in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, as well as the drug-related death of Cory Monteith. There is no denying that it exists, but how do we go about living in the face of all of it? One can only run from it or avoid it for so long, but ruminating in it doesn’t seem to help either.

There are two definitions that seem to be spoken of the most: 1.) We all have pain and problems to deal with; No one is exempt from it, regardless of how good you are at putting on a happy face about it.  2.) That we’re sinners, God hates sin, and ultimately we will never be good enough because of that. 

I’m not going to dispute whether or not sin exists, nor will I dispute that not all people are good. There clearly is evil out there, especially after realizing how many horrible events have taken place.  however, I don’t think it is as black and white as some people make it out to be. Over the years, I have come up with my own definition, which can easily be summed up in two words: hitting bottom. The point where you can no longer go on unless you get some kind of help. The point where I so often realize that I need God in my life; not just to get through the tough times, but in everything I do. 

What frequently leaves me asking questions is the way being broken is taught both inside and outside The Church. We all fall short in one way or another; we will never measure up in the sense that we will never come close to being perfect. With that being said, those imperfections should not define a person’s worth. My struggles and flaws should not be the deciding factor in whether or not I’m able to give and receive love. This is true in terms of both to/from God and people. While certain areas and relationships in my life may be faulty, that brokeness is not me. 

And that is why there is Grace; sin may be slapped over our heads or rubbed in our faces, but Grace is meant to be received with open arms. For some reason, I thought of Romans 8, and these verses in particular brought tears to my eyes: 

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death (v. 1-2). 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow—not ever the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (v. 38).

I wish that was talked about more in church. I’m not against discussing sin and the consequences that come with poorly made decisions. But when that is the constant focus, the true message of Jesus seems to get lost in the cacophony of finger-pointing and condemnation. When we spend so much time and energy beating ourselves or each other up for wrongdoing, we leave no room for forgiveness or compassion. Therefore, we can’t live out our ultimate purpose, which is to love. 

I used to walk around telling myself, I’m a broken person and that makes me useless. I believed that I would be stuck in that place of self-deprication, never fully getting out because of all that I had done/been through. I didn’t know how to embrace the healing process, or at least do so in a way where it felt real.

Jesus came to set us free, not to hold us back, which is what we do when we think or talk about the bad things so often. There needs to be a balance; you can teach both sides of the coin, but it is a matter of how you do it. 

Which is why it bothers me when some people say/preach that there is no such thing as self-esteem or depression. When you’re constantly told that you’re first and foremost a bad person , or you don’t deserve love or acceptance, what do you think happens? Worse is when you’re told to “pray the pain away” and everything will be fine. Dealing with that level of pain takes more than just prayer or a one time conversation. These things take time, and for some it can turn out to be a life-long battle. I know that I will always have somewhat of a hard time with feeling “good enough” especially when it comes to personal relationships. But I refuse to allow that fear to keep me from having meaningful ones. 

As far as I’m concerned, self-worth needs no reasoning or justification. If anything, worth should come from being a child of God, or simply for being human. And quite frankly, I think I’m OK with that.

photo credit: Thorius via photopin cc

A Reflection on Loss


I’m not sure where to begin; I go back and forth from being heartbroken, to scared, to confused, to guilty, to angry, and then wishing I could just flip a switch in order not to feel anything for a while. I was on my way to see Luke Bryan and Florida-Georgia Line when I first found out over Facebook; not wanting to get emotional before the concert, I shut my phone off and just focused on what was going on around me, yet I knew in my heart that whatever I would find out after that was not going to be good. The four hours in between before and after were incredible, but I’ll get to that shortly. 

It was confirmed on the drive home, and I stayed awake until four o’clock in the morning crying, listening to music, pacing, and reaching out to other people. In those moments, it was like I was floating in some kind of time warped space, transitioning to what I thought was a dream to the heart-wrenching reality. I admit that I do not deal with death very well, mostly because I’m not sure how to deal with it “appropriately”, if there is such a thing. I’ve never lost a friend in this way before, but I realize that I’m not the only one. He and I were not the best of friends, but we were friends nonetheless. He called me “pal” and treated me like he would treat anyone else: with love, respect, and a damn good sense of humor. The best part about him was that he was completely comfortable with who he was and had no trouble owning it. This summary does not do the memories justice, but I’m experiencing so many thoughts and feelings that it’s hard to articulate them.

I didn’t want to break down right then and there, so I threw myself into the music and the experience.  I don’t know if my friend was a fan of Luke Bryan or not, but he did love Country music. When Luke started to sing “Country Girl (Shake it for me)” I immediately just let go and danced like a crazy person. At one point, I got up on a chair and didn’t give a crap that I was standing in front of another person (I’m petite, so I felt like I had a legitimate excuse, aside from having a little too much to drink). And then when the rain began to fall and soak most of us in the process, I thought “this is what truly living is, isn’t it? Doing what you love, with the people you love, regardless of the circumstances. From what I know and have heard from others, that’s exactly what he did.

I can only hope that he would have been either smiling or laughing at me in this situation. 

And is in these moments that I wish there was a manual for grief. My heart feels torn between wanting to cry ridiculously ugly, gut busing tears at the unfairness of it all and trying to be strong for those that might have known him better than I did. . I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t know what’s right. I wish I could do it freely, rather than staying up all night for multiple days on end because my brain won’t quiet down. 

But this is not about comparisons or what is justified versus what’s not. This is about coming together and celebrating an amazing person, whether you were close to him or not. That’s the beauty of of going to a small, private Catholic high school: if you don’t personally know someone, you know of them. Sooner or later, you want to know them.

This may be the first time that I’ve experienced a passing of someone I care for, but this is not the case for my high school community. About five years ago, a similar accident took place. In the midst of trying to come together, I remember somebody had written on a chalkboard in one of my classes: “Remember guys, we’re a family.” 

There is so much more I want to write about, enough where I think that I’ll split this into multiple posts. What I have written here is only a small fraction of the words and emotions that I’ve scribbled down in my private journal. As I’ve said many times before, writing is my therapy, and I don’t expect this to be the best thing that I have ever written.we’re all hurting and angry and shell-shocked in some way. Each one of us has different ways of coping, and I’m just not sure what mine are yet. 

God Bless

In The Cracks

Over spring break, a girl from my hometown passed away. She was the fifth person I knew of from the area that has died young in the last year and a half. Shortly after getting back to school, I learned that one of my former Girl Scout Troop leaders, as well as the mom of an old friend, had lost her battle with cancer. My TA for one of my classes then informed us that she had been diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer and that we wouldn’t be having a final exam. Nearly a week and a half later, the bombings in Boston happened. 

It has been a lot to take in, and I’ve started to wonder, how do we really go about not taking anything for granted in life? Is it possible to truly live and make the most of the moments that we have without ignoring personal pain? On one side, there’s the acronym made famous by a popular rapper. On the other, there’s the notion of having an “eternal mindset.” Instead of trying to explain it all, I’ll just let the poem do the talking. 

In The Cracks

Bombs flying
Buildings collapsing
She says she’s got cancer and the other is one breath away
From the other side
It seems like the world has been brought to its knees once again
And as much as I don’t want to ask what the hell or why
Together it doesn’t make sense
The short span of time
And so I’ve realized that real life
Is not just short, but precious
Like grains of sand coursing through my fingers
The question then becomes
How do you hold on when something moves so fast?
Which side do you choose when you’re standing in the cracks?
The side where the rocks are always moving
And you’re slipping and sliding
Living for the thrill of the unexpected adventure
Maybe not always doing everything right
But trusting God to guide you
Then there’s the smoothest path
The one without any roots to get stuck in
You never get scraped, or bruised, or burned
You just simply watch from the cracks
I don’t want to live by a silly acronym
Or wait till Jesus comes back
Is it possible to live for the moment, to not have any regrets?
At least without betraying beliefs
I’m not sure and I probably won’t ever be
And that’s OK

It’s silly to wait another five decades to live like I have nothing to lose
And spend time caring about what other people think
Love, forgive, and accept Grace
Inhibitions will not keep me at bay
Others opinions will not change my mind
If I’m that determined to accomplish a goal or get something done
I’m not going to stop until all the doors have been closed
Maybe we’re not always supposed to know what to do
Or how to do it
Maybe the most beautiful things can only be seen
When we end up in the cracks 

Other Writing

I wanted to blog about this particular topic on here, but since I’m required to contribute one or more articles per week for my internship, I thought it would be best to post it on there first and then provide a link for others to read. I’ve been thinking a lot about being “good enough” and how validation, particularly from online communities, has become so magnified in our culture. Unfortunately, it’s starting to destroy people who take it too personally, ultimately keeping them from real connection. 

You can find the link to the article here, and if you like what you read, feel free to like College Social Magazine on Facebook!

When Details Should Be Called Definite Headaches

I was sitting at a high school basketball game a little over a week ago, watching my cousin lead her cheerleading squad. I couldn’t  help but feel a little nostalgic for those four years of my life; not that I miss them terribly, because I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in being older. Yet, I’ve always maintained   one single regret since graduation: I paid way too much attention to details.

In fact, I’ve learned and am continuing to learn that who/what we pay attention to, and how much attention we give to it, can tend to make or break an experience.

But those choices are not always easy to make; sometimes we become incredibly invested in a situation without truly realizing just how deep a hole has been dug. I know that on a personal level, I am very much a dreamer, a fighter, and a go-getter. I believe there are circumstances where you have to work your butt off in order to make it happen, rather than letting the opportunity simply fall into your lap. Nine times out of ten, it could very well be an uphill battle.

There’s no shame in wanting the best, or for something to be the best that it possibly can be. But what happens when your dream wedding, dance/party, vacation destination, etc. leaves you sighing with relief (or defeat) once it’s over?

The usual advice is to lower your expectations so that you won’t be disappointed. I find that doing so doesn’t always ease the stress. In fact, expecting things to go wrong can be just as bad as expecting everything to go right. When you always prepare yourself for the worst, it’s as though you’re trying to find something wrong with the current or approaching situation. It doesn’t always protect you from disappointment, either; you might actually feel more let down because you kept telling yourself X would happen, and you were right. 

Instead, take a different, and perhaps a more simple approach: be more open. More specifically, be open to various kinds of changes, from the people involved, to planning strategies and so much more. Especially when you’re planning something huge, there’s almost a fifty-fifty chance that something will happen out of nowhere. When it does, you can either choose to roll with it and make the best of it, or you can cause yourself more grief and frustration. 

Yet that line of thinking can be excruciatingly tough to go along with. Truth be told, it’s a pain in the butt for me to do, as I’m sure it is for most people at one time or another. There are times when I think to myself, “I’ve worked so hard and I have always tried to put others needs before my own. Darn it all, I deserve this!” Or, as sad as this sounds, I also feel my thoughts drifting toward “I want to feel important and I want to know that I matter, if only for one particular night.” 

Not to say that it’s right or wrong, because it is healthy to acknowledge negative emotions. Once you do that, you can make room to allow positive ones to replace them. The task is whether or not you’re going to allow yourself to dwell on them. 

On the other side, there are situations where details are important. You want to put your best foot forward when it comes to school work and personal projects. You want to be the best person you can be in terms of a job and a career. And you want to make sure that there is an equal amount of respect and contribution in relationships. 

It’s about discerning what you can control, versus what you cannot. 

At the end of it all, I’ve seen that the most perfect moments aren’t ones that are intricately planned or somehow created. They just happen because I’m being present in whatever is happening, and I’m finding joy in it. 

For me, I have to learn how to trust that everything will work out, somehow and in some way. I have to have faith that while I may not get all that I want, I most certainly will never lack what I need.

I’ve been saying this since I was eighteen, and it’s one of those things that has carried me through some really stressful periods of my life, and it is now. Do what you can, and let God take care of the rest.