The Great Unknown of 2017

Change is scary.  Change is uncertain.   Fear of change is what keeps us clinging to past mistakes and bad habits simply because they are familiar.  Fears paralyzes us to stay where we are at, instead of moving forward into the unknown.  Because it is the unknown and not change that we are truly afraid of.  Change is only the vessel with which we are forced to face the unknown.  The unknown is this place where we fill inadequate and unprepared, and maybe worst of all – powerless to control our own destiny.

So we stay.  We avoid the unknown, because here may not be great, but at least we know what to expect.  Here we are prepared; we are in control.  Here is comfortable; it is safe.

I don’t think we ever truly conquer our fears.  I don’t think  we are suppose to.  Fear is there for a reason, and it isn’t going to go away.  No, we will never truly conquer fear, but we can become more comfortable with it.  We can learn to embrace it instead of run from it.  We can learn to stop letting our fear get in the way of our own happiness.

In the last five years, I have done many things that I would have never believed myself capable of.  I was certain that there was no way that I could do something that bold or that brave.  But I did.  I was scared at every step, but I slowly started to learn that maybe I had no idea my limits of what I could do.

My great unknowns still scare me.  However, I am learning that my great unknowns hold some of the best experiences of my life.  They are just waiting there, waiting for me to have the courage to reach out and live them.

The last year has been pretty comfortable for me.  That isn’t too say that it wasn’t hard, simply that I felt the most settled I have ever felt in life.  But I can’t stay here.  I was not made to stay here.  2016 is gone, and 2017 is likely to look much different.  2017 involves me quitting my job, putting a couple more stamps on my passport, and starting law school.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was scared.  That is my great unknown, and it is daunting.  I am not going to run from that fear.  I am going to embrace it, and pull myself closer to being the person I want to be.

Whatever your 2017 holds, whatever your great unknown is,  I hope you embrace it.  I hope you learn that you are strong, capable, and brave.  I hope you have moments in which you find yourself pulling closer to the person you know yourself to be.  I hope you learn that your limits are far wider than you ever thought they could be.

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.”

“We can’t, we MUST not loose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

– The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

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Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

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New Beginnings and Changing Seasons

Spring is coming.  With it it brought the promise of new beginnings.  The thrum of the frozen ground as beats into new life.  A chance to start fresh.  To slough off old disappointments and breathe in the hope of something better.

I know you never thought you would make it here, but you did.  Here you are.  You survived the harsh winter, the broken hearts, and the nights you cried yourself to sleep.  You had to take time to heal and that is okay because you did heal.  You picked yourself up with a resilience that you should be proud of. It takes more than a broken heart to break your spirit.

Its been a year now.  You try to forgot the way the snowflakes stuck to his eyelashes or the way he smiled at you as you ran away from the rest of the world.  You try to forget, but you also try to remember.  The memories don’t sting as much.  In fact they have a beautiful element to them, because even though it came to a bitter end, in those moments you felt hopeful and in love.  You need to hold on to that feeling.

Spring is coming.

A breathe of fresh air after a long desolate winter. Spring is coming and bringing the promise of something new, something good and full of hope.  And you can’t help but hope that maybe things will be different this time around.

Spring is here, and so are you.  You with your gentle heart and your old soul.  So strange how life keeps moving and seasons keep changing without barely a notice.  How interesting that you should notice now.

Summer is coming.

The promise of freedom and adventure, as new beginnings turn into late night stories.  The world is alive under your toes and at the tips of your fingers, and you can’t help but to feel alive as well.  You can’t help but feel like nothing can hold you back.

Summer is here and you are sitting on a fence watching the sun set over the rolling country hills.  Your skin had that feeling it gets when it has been immersed in sun and water all day.   You are sitting there in silence, watching the sun go down and the stars come out.  The misquotes had come out hungry and angry, sticking to the tears that were gliding down your face.

Sticky summer tears that came with no explanation.

But You knew.  You didn’t want to admit it, but you knew.  Healing is a funny thing.  It never happens as quickly or completely as you think it should.  You think you are fine, but then pain sticks its thorny hands back into your heart and rips open the scabs.  So you cry about strangers who become friends only to become strangers once more.  And just sit on a fence alone with the misquotes and your thoughts.

It can be easy to play the victim.  To stay here and cry.  To get angry and wonder why life can be so cruel.  It can be easy to sit here and feel sorry for yourself, all while missing everything that is right in front of you.  But you won’t let yourself give up that easily.  So you fight back, and you refuse to play the victim.

It’s okay to stop running.  In fact it is time.

Hold your breathe and jump in feet first.  Sink or swim – the nervous anticipation as you wait to see which one it will be.  Before long you know that cold desolate winter will be here once again.

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Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

Life in the Slow Lane

I have always been fast.  Ever since I could walk, I started running and I didn’t stop.  It’s just in my blood.  I want to go, I want to move.  I never saw this a problem until recently.  Life has turned into a blur.  I can barely separate the days out from the last year.  Christmas has come and gone months ago.  Now spring is here begging for my attention.

How did this happen without my notice?  I thought this was just something that happened when you get older.  When you no longer have a school calendar to break up your time, everything kind of runs together.  I started to get nervous.  I am only 24.  Am I going to blink and wake up 50?  Life was moving too fast, and I was letting it.   Where am I in such a rush to get?  Certainly not my death, so where?  Where am I going that is going to be so much better than where I am?

Something was wrong, something needed to change.

I woke up, another Monday morning, another week laid out in front of me.  All mornings are tough, but Monday mornings are notoriously tough.  I woke up this morning thinking of all the things I would have to survive this week before the sweet beautiful weekend arrived once again.  You are probably reading this thinking, “I feel ya sista” without a second thought as to how backwards this way of thinking is.   Since when did life become something we need to survive?

It is hard to just be.  There is so much uncertainty that surrounds us.  We begin to notice all the things we tried so hard to hide with our busy schedules.  We notice how lost we feel.  We notice how hard life has been.  When we stop we give ourselves a chance to listen to the small guiding voice.

We get gentle.

We take a moment to breathe.

To process.

To hit pause on a life that never seems to stop moving.

I went on a hike a couple of days ago.  It was beautiful.  Spring was emerging.  Green grass breaking through cold melting snow.  I was eager to blaze the trails and get to my destination.  But I didn’t.  I went slow.  I took my time.  I soaked in the nature and let it effect me in the way that only nature can.  Winter melting into spring, just as the seasons of my life are melting into each other.  New life coming from what was once barren and ugly.

I took a moment to listen to what I had been to busy to hear.

My journey has taken me far and wide.  The last year alone has been filed with devastating disappointment and overwhelming joy.  I have broken and I have rebuilt.  I became both malleable and resilient.  And slowly I started to turn into the person I never thought I would be brave enough to be.  How could I not be grateful of a journey that has brought me so far and taught me so much?

I have been so focused on where I am going that I have completely lost sight of where I am right now.  I have being living my life like the destination is the point.  It’s not.  It’s the journey.   It’s about finding the person we never believed we would be brave enough to be.

Life isn’t just about the big moments that take our breath away.  It is also about the small moments, the forgotten moments.  It is about taking our time to get where we are going.  It is about life that is sweet and slow, not a life that is rushed through.  It’s about taking the time to ponder where we have been and where we are going.  It’s about being fully present in the moments we are given. It is about a life lived in the slow lane.

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Confession of a Clutterholic

I create clutter.  I am not sure why, I don’t do it on purpose.  In fact I really hate clutter.  I hate everything about it.  I hate having drawers so full that you can’t find anything.  I hate having mountains of stuff that I never use.  I am a minimalist at heart, but somehow I always end up with clutter – with crap that I don’t need and will never use.  But I am also a die hard sentimentalist.  Which means I can’t even throw away a scrap of paper without getting teary-eyed about “that one time”.   Do you see my problem?  I am beginning too . . .

I think my problem starts with my love of shopping, combined with my waste not want not attitude.   I feel like a terrible wasteful person any time I throw something away.  So instead I stuff my life into drawers.  The dozens of scarfs I amassed in college when I thought I was a scarf person – stuffed in a drawer.  Lotions that I use and buy in mass when they go on sale -stuffed in a drawer.  Items I have no idea why I am keeping but don’t want to look at anymore – stuffed under my bed.  Old Halloween costumes I will likely never wear again – stuffed in the back of my closet (looking at you giant peacock skirt).  The sombrero I got at Chevys for my 21st birthday – stuffed in the trunk of my car.

I cleaned out about two garbage bags from my already small closet, only to find that my closet was still too full.  My life is still too full.  I don’t need all of this stuff, and furthermore I don’t want it.  I am a firm believer that we need to have margins in our life.  Margins of time, space, and our future.  We need to have room to grow, room to breathe, and room to rest.  I have found that the best things in life happen in the margins. It is time I start creating margins in my space.

Maybe I am getting spring cleaning fever a bit early, but I can’t wait until spring to get here.  So I am going to spend my day getting rid of crap and hopefully start living a more free and spacious life.  So here is my plan of attack for today.

My decluttering goals:

– Get rid of clothes that I haven’t worn in the last year;

– Stop using the trunk and backseat of my car as a storage facility (this one makes       me want to cover my eyes and do a walk of shame);

– Stop hiding things I don’t want under my bed, including getting rid of said items that are currently hiding under my bed;

– Get rid of bathroom/hair/nail/girly products that I will never use because I don’t even like the product;

Whew, that is a lot to do in one day, but it needs to be done.  Here goes nothing.

Do you also struggle with amassing clutter?  Tell me your struggles – strength in numbers after all.  I think once we can identify what it is that causes us to create clutter, it becomes that much easier to avoid it.  After all you can’t fight a war if you don’t know who your enemy is.

Or, are you a master declutterer, who would care to leave some tips?  Please do, my comment section is open to all.

Happy Sunday and wish me the best as I dig myself out of clutter!

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Meet Sophie

I have always been a fan of the underdogs.  The scrappy ones.  The fighters.  The ones who aren’t suppose to win but do.  I think it is because I have normally been an underdog, the type of person that people under estimate.  I also have a weak spot for strays.  It doesn’t matter if they are animals or people.

It was just a normal night in the Summit house, when my roommate and one of our friends came back with a little bundle.  She had climbed up into a farmers engine to stay warm, and ended up riding all the way into the city with him.  Until he stopped at a gas station and she climbed out and found my friends.  They brought her back to our house.  I held her in my arms and it was love at first sight.

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Don’t take me for some crazy cat lady, but I couldn’t help but feel like we were meant to find each other.  That in some way we belonged together.  I just knew from the very moment I held her, that I was never going to let her go.

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I know I told you, it was love at first sight, and I was not going to let anyone take her from me.  It was not without challenges though.  I had to convince my roommates, some were easier than others.  Next came a very well planned out speech to my landlord.  There was a lot of uncertainty during that week, and with that came the tears at the thought of losing her.  But my some miracle, probably the same one that brought us to each other, she became officially mine.

She makes it easy to love her.  She is the sweetest and most fearless cat I have met.  She will love anyone.  The only time she ever makes noise is when she is purring.  She sometimes follows me around like a little puppy dog.  Its quick adorable.

I took her to her first vet visit last night.  I had guessed she was probably about 6 months old.  To my surprise the vet told me that at not even 5 lbs, little Sophie was already about a year old.  She did not grow normally due to being malnourished during her first year, and it was likely that she would never grow to be the size of normal cats.  To break my heart further, the vet also told me that the tip of her tail had fallen off due to frostbite.   And she currently didn’t have enough muscle mass to be able to hold her tail up.  He gave her medicine for her respiratory infection, ear mites, and roundworm. She was a trooper through all of it.

I think that is why I fell in love with her right away.  I could tell she was ridiculously tough but also immensely sweet.  A combination which is just as rare in cats as it is in humans.

It breaks my heart to think of her being cold and all alone with out any food.  How can something so sweet and little have such a hard life behind her?  We are also just starting the heart of South Dakota winters.  Meaning we have negative temperatures with windchill making it even colder.  I can’t help but thinking that if I hadn’t found her when I did, she would have likely not survived the winter.

I think it can be easy to save that I saved her.  While that is true, I think it is more accurate to say that she saved me.  I can’t explain it other than she has just made my life better.  Sometimes I think she is a little angel sent to me in cat form.  I know she will always be in my corner, because she is a fighter like me.

She is my little badass survivor.

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Lessons on Love Part 2

It is no secret that the people we love the most have the biggest ability to hurt us., because they should have known better.  We understand that the world is not fair.  We expect strangers to let us down or to be rude to us.  We don’t expect that from those we love.  Which is why it hurts so much when they do.

People are complicated.  At least I know I am.  We have layers of the battle scars love has left us.  We do irrational things when we feel vulnerable.  We become sensitive to actions and words that were never intended to hurt us.  But they do, and we are left just as confused by it as the person who hurt us.

We barely understand ourselves sometimes, and yet we expect those we love to understand us.

Relationships are complicated.  It is just as complicated no matter if it is a relationship with a family member, best friend, or a significant other.  Any relationship worth having takes work.  It takes constant communication.  Because we have all been hurt and we all have the ability to unintentionally open up an old scar.

It will happen.  It does not matter how much someone loves you, people are complicated and we hurt each other even when we don’t mean to.  When this happens we have two ways we can react, love or hate.  We can get angry, we can hate them, and we can try to hurt them back.  Or we can choose love, which is immensely harder to do.

Hate is me focused.   When we hate, it becomes all about what we need, how we were hurt, how we didn’t get what we wanted.   If we focus on only us, we think others are out to get us.  We get angry when people don’t treat us how we think we deserve to be treated.  We become frustrated when life doesn’t seem to give us what everyone else is getting.  We get so stuck looking at our own two feet that we cannot see everything else that is happening around us.

Hate pushes other’s away, love pulls them closer.

Love is seeing past our own reflection into someone else’s reality.

Love requires us to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view.  It is understanding that they never meant to do us wrong.  In fact sometimes we may realize that we were the one being selfish.

Love is realizing that a relationship isn’t all about us.  When we love someone that means we have to put them before us sometimes.  We have to forgive them.  We have to fight for them.  We have to trust that when they say they love us they mean it, even if they don’t always show it.

For most of my life, when people hurt me I push them away.  I don’t fight for the relationship, I just run away from it.  It is hard for me to trust people – to be vulnerable with them.  It is only recently that I have started to respond in love.  To forgive someone when they have hurt me and to know that sometimes I react irrationally.  It is a lot harder, and I do mean A LOT harder.  But is also worth it.  Because when we work to restore relationships they always bounce back stronger.

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Photo Credit: Unknown

 

Dear You – I Know You Thought You Loved Him

Dear You,

I know you thought you loved him.  I know that you got swept up in what felt like a fairy tale.  I know you believed that it would all work out in the end because he was your soulmate, or so you thought. And finding your soulmate means something, or so you thought.  And he felt the same way, or so you thought.

He promised he would never leave, because you told him about all of the people who have left you and he understood how hard trusting someone can be for you.

But he left anyways.

And you know that in his mind he was trying to protect you, but the only thing you can feel is that he did what he always promised to never do.  And how can you forgive that?  How can you forgive yourself for opening your heart up to be broken?

But you have to forgive yourself.  You have to silence the voice in your head that tries to remind you over and over again that you should have known better. You have to learn to trust your instincts again.  Yes they were wrong, but they were also a little bit right.  You have to learn to reconcile that.

You have to learn to move on.  Dearest one you have to move on.  I know it is scary.  I know that you are too scared to open your heart because you just think it will get broken again.  Rightfully so, you are still picking up the pieces.

Because sitting here scared isn’t going to fix anything.

You have to let yourself love again. It’s about learning to love, and yes I really do mean learning.  Its about learning to allow yourself to fall in love, and to be in love.  Its about learning to be foolish in love, because love defies reason.  Its about learning to embrace the fear of being vulnerable with another human, knowing the risks of what could happen if things fell apart, but also knowing the reward if they don’t.

I know you believe yourself incapable of love, but I believe otherwise.  I know that you think your heart just healed to break, but you are wrong.

It’s okay be gentle.  Of course it hurts baby girl, of course it hurt.  Its okay to let yourself cry, even on the days when you thought your heart had healed.  It’s okay, but also know that you are strong.  You are stronger than you know.  You are tough and resilient, and you can move on.

I know you thought you loved him dear one.  I know it still hurts, some days more than others. But you will love again and it will be magnificent, just like you.

Love,

~ L

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Photo Credit: ZsaZsa Bellagio

I Don’t Hate Mornings (or you), I Just Need Coffee

Mornings are rough.  If you are like me (the cursed half of humanity that was born to hate mornings), getting out of bed will be the hardest thing you have to do all day.  That is until you stumble into work clutching your coffee like the lifeline it is, trying to shake the fogginess from your brain, and praying no one bothers you for the next hour.

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Don’t talk to me.  Don’t need anything from me.  Do you see the cup of gold in my hand?  Good.  Now wait until it is gone before you approach me.  I try to hold back the death glare when you ignore the above request.  But it is hard, really hard, so I am sorry.

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It isn’t that I hate mornings.  I actually quite love them when I don’t have to do any productive.  Sitting on my porch with a cup of gold in my head on a crisp fall morning, that is something that might get me out of bed.

What I hate is the assumption that every jumps out of bed ready to tackle the world the moment their first alarm goes off.  Lets be real, I said first because I have several and I always hit snooze.  Waking up for me is a 30 minute process in which I am trying to figure out which alarm clock I have to snooze this time.

Now I am fully aware that researchers say hitting snooze only makes it harder for you to wake up later, but I am willing to bet that researcher was also a morning person. You see morning people just don’t understand.  What do you mean you aren’t happy and perky to be awake?  What do you mean you don’t ooze confetti and rainbows the minute you step out of bed?  Why are you crabby, don’t you know it is a beautiful day.  

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The worst type of morning person you can find is the overly optimistic kind.  You encounter one of those and you run fast and you run hard. No one is that happy to get out of bed.  No one.  I don’t want to hear about how much you love mornings while I am still miserably half asleep.  I promise you it won’t make me like mornings, it will just make me glare at you until you stop talking.  Please don’t take it personally, its not you its me.  Well its a little bit you, but I will get over it.

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If you are the half of humanity that is lucky enough to enjoy being productive during the hours that society dictates, please be gentle with us.  Please don’t tell us we look crabby, we know, we can feel it.

Yours truly,

– The grumpy cat that ate the morning bird because its chirping was too obnoxious.

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.  

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Photo Credit: Sarah Moldovan

Long Friendships and Hard Goodbyes

It’s a strange thing to be young and have your whole life ahead of you waiting to be lived.  Life is both very short and very long.  It is a conundrum that leaves us feeling lost in our past and scared of our future.

Last week I was sitting on the deck with the people I have been friends with since my freshman year of college.  Which seems like it should have not been as long ago as it was.  We were sitting out there just listening to the rain crash down on the red Oklahoma dirt.  I now understand the phrase, “when it rains it pours,” because in the south when it rains it always pours.

Rain is good thinking weather.  I started thinking about how crazy it was that this might be one of the last times we are all together.  Maybe not the last, but certainly one of the few last times.   We are all growing up and moving on to become doctors, lawyers, and biologists.  At least that is what we will try to be.  Life might redirect us along the way.

Never the less, someday we will be moms and dads.  Some day this moment will be a distant nostalgic memory of the time we spent with friends we haven’t seen in years.

And I wonder, will we stay in contact over the years?  Will we continue to be apart of each others lives?  Or will life slowly pull us away from each other?  What will all of our lives be like in five years?  In ten years?  Will we be married? Parents?  Will we have succeed at becoming doctors, lawyers, and biologists?  Will we remember the nights we stayed up way too late?  Will we remember each other at all?

Of course we will, I think.  Moments and people like these are not easily forgotten. 

I think people come into our lives for a reason.  A deeper reason than  just our human need for relationship.  People are sent in certain times of our lives to teach us and to inspire us.  People are sent into our lives to show us there is someone in us worth believing in, that we have a future that is worth fighting for.

Some people are meant to be in our lives for a long time, maybe even for our whole lives.  I am blessed to have a large group of people who have been in my life for the long haul.  There are always there in my corner pushing me forward, believing in me far more than I deserve.

There are others for that are only meant to be in our lives for just a moment.  Those people should not be easily discounted.   Some times they can be the most influential people we met.  I can’t explain it, only that it seems life only gives us a few moments together so we fill it like a lifetime.

The hard part is when that time expires. When we must say goodbye to someone who has taught us so much. When we must move on because life is moving on.  When we must let someone out of our arms, not sure if they will ever return. 

I use to be scared of goodbyes.  I was scared of getting too close to someone because I knew one day soon they would be gone.  I have learned that hard goodbyes are a good thing, because it shows just how much that person meant to us in the first place.

I plan to live a life full of hard goodbyes, because no matter how hard a goodbye my be, it is still better than never knowing that person.

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Photo Credit: Kari Lena

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”

– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar