Playing It Unsafe

I have done it.  I sent in my law school applications.  I thought I would feel a huge sigh of relief at having it done.  I mean I spent months working on getting everything ready.  Writing, revising, starting from scratch and writing more.   I was finally done with all of it, so the stress should be done too.  It wasn’t.  It seemed to have doubled over night.  Now all of the hard decisions I am not ready to make are quickly approaching their deadline.   I need to have answers that I cannot find.

It is starting to get real, and that is terrifying.  It is no longer a far off thing I hope to do.  It is right up close knocking at my door, and I am hiding under the table pretending not to be home.  You may think that is a metaphor, but no I have actually hide under my table when I didn’t want to answer the door.  I can be a hider when I don’t want to deal with things.  People or decisions.  I burrow my head in the ground and pretend that the world isn’t still moving above me.  I will fly to Africa and rock climb without a second thought, but put me in a confrontation or in charge or making a decision and I am done for.

If you have been reading my blog for any time at all, you will have noticed how adamant I can be about chasing dreams – pulling the life we dream of into our reality.  Now it is time for me to practice what I preach.  I know I cannot get where I want to be in life my staying here comfortable.  I know I need to make the hard decision, take a leap of faith, and not look back.

That isn’t to say that it won’t be hard.  I have gotten very comfortable here.  I like my job,  I like my house, I like my roommates, I like my city, I like being close to my family, and I like my friends.  I finally feel peace about where I am in life, and now I am shaking it all up.  That is hard.  It is hard to walk away from a good thing in hopes of finding a great thing.

Living a full life doesn’t happen by staying where we are comfortable.  It happens when we realize that we want more, that we can do more, and we go chase it.  Dreams are wonderful on paper.  They are wonderful as those thoughts you have right before you drift into sleep.  They are wonderful things that we tell people we hope to do someday.  Living dreams is hard and terrifying and uncertain.  It requires stepping out blind and hoping you don’t get hit by a bus.  What is even more terrifying is being too afraid to ever take a chance on yourself.

Maybe sometimes it’s riskier not to take a risk. Sometimes all you’re guaranteeing is that things will stay the same.” – Danny Wallace

Life moves fast.  The older I get the more I am learning this to be true.  Life moves fast whether or not we play it safe.  One day my life will be over whether or not I chased my dreams.  To me, that is even more terrifying than stepping out of my comfort zone.  Life doesn’t wait for us to silence our fears – it just keeps moving.

Here is to the uncertainty, the unknown, the unsafe – where ever it may take you.

Railroad.jpg
Photo via Her Paperweight

Dear You – Someday You Will Be Old

Dear You,

You will get old someday.  It’s true, and it’s unavoidable.  You know this is true because you can feel it in your bones.  You are a ticking time bomb for wrinkly skin and bad knees.  It is something you have always known would happen, and yet the older you get the harder it is to accept that it is happening now.

Someday you will be old.  Starring into the mirror at a face that no longer should belong to you.  But it does.  The crinkles from all of the laughs that you have shared.  The wrinkles from all of the times you worried about nothing. You just stare, turning your head from side to side trying to find the person you use to be.  Trying to reverse the damage that time has done.

Some day you will be old, realizing that you have more life behind you than you have in front of you.  You will open up your box of memories, pull one out and examine it.  It use to be a box of dreams.  The places were you kept your hopes and somedays.  Now it is a box of memories holding your yesterdays. It is the most precious thing you own.  It is your friendships, your laughs, your rebellion, your courage, and your struggles.

It is the life you have lived and the person you have become.

You will also die someday. Which is more frightening than simply getting older.  Death doesn’t ask for our permission.  It happens however and whenever it pleases.  Which makes you almost wish for old age, because then you will have lived long enough to see it. Death is something you have also always known would happen, and yet that doesn’t make facing it any easier.

It is strange to think that death is our primary motivation to live.  It pushes us to make the most of every moment, because we don’t know how many moments we have left.

The future can be scary.

The future can be unpredictable.

But for now you are young.  For now you have your whole life ahead of you, and what a terrifyingly beautiful gift that is.  I know you are scarred of what the future may hold.  I know that you think you are too little to do the big things you dream.  You are wrong dear one.

You are exactly the right size, and so are your dreams.

Take a chance.  Chase after what it is that you really want.  Chase after the life you want.  It is right at your finger tips, just waiting for you to have the courage to reach out and grab it.

Take a chance.  Failing is better than the constant regret of what if.  You will always find a reason to not chase your dreams, but I want you to find a reason to chase them.

Take a chance.  Life doesn’t wait for us to silence our fears.  It just keeps moving.

Some day you will grow old.  Someday you will die.  Someday all too soon you will look back at your life and see how all of the puzzle pieces fell into place.  Some day you will look back on your life and know that you lived it well.  Someday all of your dreams will be replaced with memories.

It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday.  And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today.  And that someday is yesterday.  And this is your life.” – One Tree Hill

PC - Svetlana Chekhlataya

Photo Credit: Svetlana Chekhlataya

A Nice Box of Dreams

I am the type of person who is guided by my intuition.  I trust it.  I listen to it.   I snuggle up close to it and let it make my decisions for me.  I see a fact and needs something more.  I need a sign – a feeling.  A need my gut to jump up and say, “Yes, that is it.  That one right there.  That is right.”

I have been bouncing back and forth on law school for so many months now that even I find it annoying.  I am going to go, I am not going to go, I am going to throw my arms up in the air and admit I have no idea what I want.  My intuition hasn’t been that helpful on this one.  I have been too scared to really listen what my intuition was telling me.

Dreams are elusive.  By that I mean that our dreams are hard to define.  It is hard to take your dream and put it in a nice little box.  That would make things easier wouldn’t it?  Just open your nice little box and look through your dreams like old photographs.

Instead we are left chasing the elusive. We chase the feeling that there is something better out there, in we could only touch it. The driving whisper that tells us we can be more tomorrow if we just have the courage to try. If we could only define it.  If we could only put it in a nice little box.

Some days I want to buy horses and an apple orchard, other days I want to storm congress.  Most days I am left feeling like I have no idea what I want.

So I tried a different approach.  I didn’t ask myself if I wanted to go to law school.  I asked myself if I would feel like I gave up my dream if I didn’t go to school. In 10 or 20 years when I looked back on my life, would I regret never going to law school?

My answer shocked me.  I didn’t think that I might regret it, or that there was maybe a chance I would regret it.  My intuition was screaming at me that I would absolutely regret it.  I think it has been screaming at me for a while now, I just didn’t have the courage to listen.  The signs have been there for a while, I just have been fighting them because I am stubborn.

It will not always be easy, in fact I expect it will be very hard.  It will not always be everything I dreamed, in fact it will rarely be close.  But I have been telling people I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 13.  I at least owe it to myself to give it my best shot, come hell or high water.

Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.

The bravery we had when we took that first step, the grace we had the first time we failed, and the guts we had to pick ourselves back up and try again. There is so much to be lived in the messiness of life, because those are the moments that define who we are. That is why it is important to enjoy the moments that take our breath away; the moments that make our heart beat a little faster.

Can you feel it? The beating of your heart, the thrumming of your veins? Can feel the way your heart aches after it has been broken? What about the fear you feel when you finally find something worth fighting for?

Embrace that life and this moment are incredible gifts, no matter what you may be going through. Embrace that this moment is shaping the rest of your life.

Embrace that you will fail and that life won’t be what you expected it to, but don’t let that stop you from trying.

Embrace the uncertainty, embrace the fear, and embrace the restless stirring of your heart that pulls you to your feet to chase your dreams. Sometimes the beauty is in the attempt.

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.  -Oriah Mountain Dreame

Glitter

Photo Credit: Christina Re

**** Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Please feel free to leave you comment in the comment section.  Tell me about your dreams, I would love to hear them!

Frozen by Doubt and Fear

I am going to do it, I think to myself, I am going to start applying to both law schools and writing schools.  I have been putting this off for too long now.  Oh don’t worry, I had plenty of good excuses reasons.

I start looking at schools that are far away, because I promised myself that if I am going to do this then I am going to make an adventure out of it.  I have no idea where I will end up.  I am mostly hoping that if I throw enough things against a wall the right one will stick.

My throat starts closing up, is this what it is like to have a panic attack?  Don’t be ridiculous, I try to console myself, you have wanted this for a long time.   My sub-conscious has no empathy for me.  Which just leaves me feeling ridiculous.  For all of my talk of bravery and stepping into the great unknown, I am a big chicken. 

Don’t judge me.  It is easy to talk about going out into the unknown while you are safe in your warm bed.  It is a lot harder when you are dangling off the edge of a cliff.

It is hard to leave everything and everyone you have ever known to venture out all. by. yourself.   Oh it is easy to do for a couple weeks, months even.  That is manageable, because I know I will return soon.  But to leave for years, or forever – that is even harder.  To know that my 2 year old and 3 month year old niece might not even remember me when I return, well that is the hardest of all.

So I find myself torn.  Torn between chasing my dreams and seeing where life takes me.  Or staying in the place that I am surprised to say I have fallen in love with.  Then the panic starts in, because I think that if I don’t leave now then I never will.

It is hard to pinpoint what exactly I am afraid of.  I know I will be fine.  I know I will survive.  But knowing that doesn’t stop the fear from creeping in.   Knowing this is what I want should make it easier, but it doesn’t.

So we convince ourselves that our dreams our merely meant to be pretty pictures put on our shelf of someday.  Thought about and admired, but not something we ever dare lived.  Letting go will probably be terrifying.  Until it isn’t, until I am fine.  It can be terrifying to let go of our comfort, of our safety, of the life we thought we had wanted.  But what is even more terrifying is the thought that we can miss out on the best parts of our life because we were too afraid to let go.  

Suitecase Sarah Moldovan

Photo Credit: Sarah Moldovan

What it Means to be a Writer

I have been writing ever since I can remember.  I have many flower printed journals filled with the childhood adventures I had with my cat.  Journals about absolutely nothing.  I can’t really say why I even started a journal other than I just wanted to, and my mother bless her heart kept buying me flower printed notebooks to fill.

I also have bits and pages of the times I attempted to write books from my overactive imagination.  I never got very far; I wasn’t patient enough for that.   I still tried though because writing has always been a part of who I am.  It is just as much inherently who I am as my stubbornness.

The books I have been reading about career and purpose all mention going back to what our childhood self wanted.  I had a list of things I wanted to do when I grew up including:  Lawyer, Detective, Vet, and Wedding Planner.

Despite how much of my childhood was spent writing, it never made that list.  I am not sure why other than I suppose I never thought of writing as something I could do when I got older, (Other than buying more adult leather-bound journals to fill).  This whole time I have been exploring the things I dreamed of doing as a child, that not once did I explore the thing I had actually been doing since I was a child.

Writing PC - Carolina Mila

Photo Credit: Carolina Mila

A writer in my mind has always been this grand term.  The type of person who is magic with words and strikes that magic into our hearts.   As if the type of people who write things that others want to read are somehow just better than the rest of us.

I had this idea in my head that you had to be someone special in order to write.  At least to write anything that you wanted to bother others to read.  I am neither magical or special.  I am just a girl with too many thoughts in her head and too big of an imagination.  I started sharing my writing anyways, because I thought that maybe someone, anyone would want to read it.  The weird thing was that people did want to read it.  I am still trying to figure out why, but at least I know that I don’t have to be special to write.

In fact, the only magic writers have is the courage to be honest.

What it means to be a writer, what it really means is quite simple.  You just have to be honest with your thoughts, and have the courage to let others read them.

So you want to be a writer?  Good, start by sharing your deepest thoughts with complete strangers.

Okay you don’t have to start with your deepest thoughts.  We can work up to that, because it is hard and scary.  You might as well be saying,  “Here have a look into my brain, but please don’t think that I am crazy, egotistical, or mentally unstable.”  Or worse maybe you will think that my ideas are stupid and my grammar is terrible.  (I will admit my grammar really is terrible.  I don’t like following rules, especially grammar rules.)   

I have been telling people for a while that I am thinking about law school.  But only recently have I started telling people that I am also considering writing school.  Saying it out loud makes it seem more real.  I like that way it feels as it rolls off my tongue – glistening and sweet.  More importantly, I like that it feels right.

Writing is a door that I have never explored in my life, and I am oh so curious as to what lies behind it.

Maybe you are like me, and think that you aren’t magical enough to be a writer.  Maybe you are right, or maybe you are wrong.  There is really only one way to find out.  Try.  

Oh you might fail.  In fact you might fail a lot.  But then one day, one seemingly normal day when you are about to give up, you just might make it.

The Great Unknown

“You just need to push off and swing to the other side.”

The Just implied that it was easy.  A piece of cake.  What the experienced rock climbers, safely planted on the ground, were really telling me was that I need to let go. Obviously.  Just let go.

It was my first time rock climbing.  I felt a twinge of fear as I looked at what I was about to climb, but I silenced it.   I have always been good at climbing.  My family likes to tell me about how when I could barely even walk I would love to climb up the step stool we kept in the kitchen.  I would climb up, fall down, dust myself off, and climb back up.  I don’t remember this at all, either from being too young or from hitting my head each time I fell.  My point is that  I have always loved climbing things, as a child and yes still as an adult.  So my excitement about rock climbing quickly squashed any nerves or fear I had.

That is until on my first run up.  I managed the first half like a natural, and then I got stuck.

“You just need to push off and swing to the other side.”

Yeah okay, sure, easy peasy, I’ll get right to that.

I tried to use my unnatural long limbs to reach to the other side, so I wouldn’t actually have to let go and swing over.  I had half let go, but I was also half still holding on for dear life.  What sane person wouldn’t when they are that far above ground?  At that height you forget that you are being supported by a rope that will catch you.  At that height all knowledge that you are safe feels like a lie trying to trick you, and suddenly there is no way you are letting go.

Undeterred, I tried a second time on the second rig.  Once again I was climbing quickly and easily.  Look at me go.

10463044_10152499053900606_4973141489921762852_n

2014-06-28 15.10.59
Then I fell.

I don’t remember how it happened.  I just remember one minute I was reaching, the next minute I was falling, the next minute I was caught, and then I was fine.  After that falling didn’t seem so scary anymore.  I took more risks, and yes fell many more times.  But each time I was fine.  The more I fell, the less I was afraid of falling.

My next attempt back on the other rig, I got stuck in the same place.  And you know what I did without even hesitating?  You guessed it, I let go and pushed myself to the other side.  Not only did I survive, but I realized that letting go was ridiculously fun.

Letting go can be scary.  Until it isn’t  Although that is easy to say in rock climbing (relatively) it is a lot harder when you are talking about something more personal and permanent.  Especially since in life it often seems like their isn’t a rope to catch us when we reach too far.  So we convince ourselves that our dreams our merely meant to be pretty pictures put on our shelf of someday.  Thought about and admired but not something we ever dare lived.

I have been a dreamer ever since I can remember.  I use think that when I grew up and finally started living my dreams it would be like running through a field of daisies as I easily glided into happily ever after.  Not even a little bit.  It is more like being stuck 50 feet in the air the first time I decide to rock climb.

Terrifying.

Truthfully,  I have found the moment when fulfilling one of my dreams is in my grasp to be some of the most terrifying moments of my life.  It would have been easier to stay in my comfortable shell only dreaming of my dreams.  Going to Africa has been on my dream shelf for many years.  Until one day I took it down.  The days leading up to me leaving was very surreal and very terrifying. I imagined the worst possible scenarios, and I had a few freak outs.  Not that I ever admit it to anyone when they asked.  “Aren’t you nervous to go to Africa,” they would ask me with wide eyes.  No of course not, I am tough, I am brave, I will be fine. And then I just let go, and got on a plane to fly to the other side of the world.

My first five hours is Zambia looked like this: Don’t drink the water unless you are positive it is safe,  oh and there are geckos staring at you in the bathroom, oh and watch out for snakes they are posionous,  oh and you have to use your hands to make this corn mush into a bowl so you can eat your veggies.  But that was the worst it got.  All of my freaking out and I had been fine.  Of course I knew that, otherwise I would have never got on the plane.  However just like rock climbing, it’s hard to be rational when you are 50 feet above ground; or thousands of feet above the Atlantic ocean.

For me right now, letting go looks like letting go of the life I think I should have for the great unknown of what I believe I actually want.  Which is scarier than rock climbing and flying to Africa combined.  When it comes to careers and education, I have always been practical.  In college I majored in Criminal Justice and Business (both of which I enjoyed), but if I had been truly honest with myself then I would have realized that my true passions lied in art and writing.  But I hadn’t allowed myself to want those things because they were not practical.

At one point I had a political science minor, for one of my classes I was going to take international affairs.  I was actually a bit excited for it (nerd alert), until I found out I would be one of four students with a professor I did not really like so much.  I dropped the class, changed my minor, and never looked back.  Until now.  Until now when I realize that Masters in International Relations has a nice ring to it.  Especially if it meant I got to meant people like this:

2014-12-09 02.07.25

599103_10151488542775606_1589400341_n

And I thought – Huh – that sounds pretty cool.

I feel like the last three years of my life have been building for me to go to law school.  I have been putting law school on my someday dream shelf.  But I keep putting it off, and I realized that maybe it wasn’t what I actually want.  It is what the practical side of me wants, but it don’t know if its what I want.  My brain always gets this annoying idea in its head that I should do a little more, go a little further, live little more adventurously, and climb a little higher.  What I want feels a lot like this song . . .

Keep up your head up
Don’t take your eyes off the road
Oh, you’re never gonna change
By doing what you’re told
You don’t want let yourself down
So don’t be scared to stand out
There’s a thousand voices saying
The time is now

So let go
You’re on your own
There’s something waiting for you
There’s something waiting for you
So let go
Of the world
You know
There’s something waiting for you
In the great unknown
The great unknown

Read more: Jukebox The Ghost – The Great Unknown Lyrics | MetroLyrics

And maybe that means me letting go of my practical plan to be a lawyer for a much risky plan that I am not sure about.  Letting go will probably be terrifying.  Until it isn’t, until I am fine.  It can be terrifying to let go of our comfort, of our safety, of the life we thought we had wanted.  But what is even more terrifying is the thought that we can miss out on the best parts of our life because we were too afraid to let go.

Beautiful Whimsy

Being a senior has led to the usual well meaning question of what I am going to do upon receiving my diploma in May.  This question tends to leave me floundering try to think of something to say that makes it sound like I am planning some great heist for my future.  Then I realize that I have no such heist planned and I admit defeat as I answer like most seniors, “I don’t know.”  Maybe it is just my A-type personality, but I don’t like that this answer requires me to admit defeat.  Since when do I have to have my life planned out at the age of 22?   Can’t I just enjoy being young and whimsical with an open door of all the possibilities of where I will end up in my life?  I mean it is not like I don’t have dreams that are turning into a semblance of a plan.  If you know me well, then you know that I have way too many ambitious and even slightly ludicrous dreams that is healthy for someone of my stature.  But I do not completely have my head in the clouds.  I know that it is completely ridiculous to think that all of aspirations will come true the moment I receive my diploma.  I have accepted that achieving my dreams is going to take time and hard work; I just wish that everyone else would accept that too.  Now I don’t mean to sound like I hate every person who asks me what I am going to do after I graduate.  I know that they just generally care and want to know what is going on in my life.  And you know what, I appreciate that I really do.  I have been blessed to have so many people in my life who care about me, and it would be childish of me to take that for granted.  That being said, I am a control freak.  So the fact that I have come to a place in my relationship with God that I have been able trust him to figure out my future has not been an easy task. 

Add to that someone asking me every other day what I am going to do and the dozens of law schools that keep emailing me.  Is it any wonder I have a daily minor freak out that I haven’t figured out my life yet.  But you know what, that is normal, beautiful in fact.  At the age of 22 do you know how awful it sounds to have your entire life planned out before you even start it?  Ugh, might as well put me in my casket now.  Please don’t squelch my chance to live a life filled with endless open doors by forcing me to pick one.  Please accept like I have that God has a plan for my life, and that when the time is right things will fall into place.  As a wise friend once told me, “Why doubt an obvious path that is in front of you.”  God has a plan for my life, I may not know what the plan is but I know that it is there.  So for all of you reading this, I want you to know that it is okay to not have all the answers to what your future holds.  Hold on to your faith and dreams because those are going to be what guides you on this journey, but realize that it is a journey and live it as such.  Don’t get too caught up in your dreams for someday that you forget to live in the opportunities that you are presented with today.  The end of your journey will come soon enough, so for crying out loud stop wasting all of your time worrying about it and go do something whimsical. 

“I think a father’s job, when it’s done best, is to get down on both knees, lean over his children’s lives, and whisper, ‘Where do you want to go?’ Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, ‘Let’s go do THAT together.” – Bob Goff

“You Have a Gift, Don’t Waste It.”

I first started my blog because my brother in law and I made a pack to start a blog at the same time.  Tonight I read a blog that my brother in law wrote in which he tells the story of a man who told him, “You have a gift, don’t waste it.”  These simple words spoke to my brother in law by a man I don’t even know really hit home with me.

As some of you may know, I am currently in the middle of trying to start an organization called Scribbles of Hope.  What most of you don’t know is that I constantly feel like I have no idea what I am doing, and have no confidence in my ability to pull it off.  Yep its honesty time.  I have no confidence in my painting ability and that people would actually want my paintings; andI have no confidence in ability to get people’s attention about the issue sex trafficking (I don’t really see myself as the type of person that people pay attention to).  So needless to say as I am planning to launch this organization in about a week, I am a little, ok a lot freaked out.  Despite all of the wonderful people God has put into my life who believe in me, I still don’t believe in myself.

This last Sunday at church towards the end the service, there was time were we could come to the front of the church to kneel and pray.  I went up to the front, determined to tell God that he had made a mistake, that he had picked the wrong girl, the wrong time, or maybe both.  Instead I just knelt and cried.  And cried.  I hadn’t intended on crying, I didn’t even feel sad.  But there is something about going to your Father asking for his help and in return being held in His love.  And that is what happened.  I flat out told God that I have no idea what I am doing and I cannot do this. And do you know what He told me?  He told me, “Well of course you can’t do this.  You were never meant to, that is why I am here.  I WILL take care of everything.  I just need you to be your crazy passionate self and do what I made you to do.  The rest will fall into place.”

Can it really be that simple?  That God isn’t asking for us to “have it all together” but that all He is asking is for us to be who he made us to be?  Could it be that we already are everything that we need to be, but that we just don’t have the courage to believe in it?  Could it be that all God is asking of us is that we don’t waste the gift that we already have in us?  We don’t have to search to find our gift, and we don’t have to spend years hiding in our closet perfecting our gift.  We are our gift, and our gift is us.  It is one and the same thing, made inseparable by the one who made us.  He isn’t asking anything from us other than that we follow Him and believe we can be who He made us to be.  You have a gift, don’t you dare waste it.

Image