The Fear of Falling Failure

“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.

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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.

Life is a beautiful story of falling and picking ourselves up again.  Those who do great things are not the ones who never failed, but the ones who refuse to let their failure stop them.  Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to just let go.  To fall so we can catch ourselves, so we can once again believe in ourselves.  So that the next time we find ourselves having to swing to the other side, we won’t hesitate, we won’t let our fear hold us, we will just swing, and for one split second feel free from our fear.

Fading Summer and Falling Leaves

I have been suffering from temporary writers block these last couple of weeks.  I have tried multiple times to write new pieces but have sputtered and died after about 150 words.  I have had a lot of ideas of topics I want to write about, but then I sit fingers ready at the keyboard and nothing.

All of my creative juices have been thrown into trying to write my personal statement for my law school application.  I foolishly thought this would be the easiest part of my application.   I mean I have a blog, writing prose about my life experiences is kind of what I do.  I had mentally checked this off my to do list before I even started.  Foolish and naive I was.  I am learning there are no easy parts to apply to law school.  I made a meme to reiterate my point . . .

meme law schoolIf I am going to do this, I am going to do it right.  Which means months of studying for the lsats (I know disgusting).  It means hours spent writing and rewriting my personal statement.  It means researching law schools so I know what my options are. It means asking for help when I have no idea what I am doing.

I keep thinking that I have plenty of time, it is only August September October (tomorrow?!?). I am still in shock about August being over that I can barely comprehend how September started and ended without my notice.  I was told that life moves faster as you get older, I just never thought it would be this fast.

Which is why now I must begin the painful process of saying goodbye to another summer.

Summer was fantastic, but it was a blur.  I traveled, I laughed, I cried, and I watched my brother get married.  Some days I was so busy going places that I forgot what it was like to be home.  Summer flew by way too fast, and suddenly before I knew it, fall was creeping in.  The crispness in the air, the crispness of leaves that have just fallen to the ground.

I absolutely adore fall.  I use to never like fall, because it stood for the end of summer freedom.  It reminds me that dreadful winter is just around the corner.  Fall was just that season that brought the end of summer and the beginning of winter (and school). Fall meant letting going of the promise for adventure that summer holds, and buckling down for the long, never-ending, barren cold of winters in South Dakota.  Fall is a last chance to enjoy being outside before the snow and cold traps us in for months.

However now that fall is no longer coupled with the dread of going back to school, I can actually enjoy it.  Oh I am still sad to see summer go, and I still am dreading winter, but fall is absolutely the most gorgeous time of the year.

I love wrapping the chilly air out with scarfs and boots.

I love the taste of an apple that has spent all summer soaking up the sun.

I absolutely love pumpkin everything.

I love Halloween and Thanksgiving.

But most importantly I love the colors that get paint-brushed across the trees.

Fall 4 PC Terri Gostola

Photo Credit: Terri Gostola

I love listening to this song in the fall. It gives me nostalgia for another summer that I must let go of.  It is also a beautiful song if you want to listen to it.

Photo Credit: Terri Gostola

 Summer Again by The Afters:

I’m watching the green give into gold
As summer becomes October’s cold
Gravity begs
For one final kiss
She drops it to him, as she gives in

Traces of light, linger around
As laces of white fall to the ground
The softest of sounds for the heaviest things
And the pain that it brings

As she falls I try to catch her
For one last touch of warmth from summer
As one thing leaves to becomes another again
I remember when

Don’t remember the day, she started to fade
The ground felt a chill as she gave it away
A whisper – a sigh, for the time that she passed
But this winter won’t last

As she falls I try to catch her
For one last touch of warmth from summer
As one thing leaves to becomes another again
I remember when
Oh to be with summer again

The days were warm and we wore them like skin
Now I feel the effects of October again

As she falls I try to catch her
For one last touch of warmth from summer
As one thing leaves to becomes another again
I remember when
Oh to be with summer again

I’m watching the green give in to gold
As summer becomes Octobers cold

So to help myself accept that summer is over and to make sure I take time to enjoy fall, I decided to make a fall bucket list.

My Fall Bucket List 2015:

  1. Go to a corn maze
  2. Go to a haunted house
  3. Go to a pumpkin patch
  4. Carve a pumpkin
  5. Go to an apple orchard
  6. Make fall goodies
  7. Host a friends thanksgiving
  8. Run on my favorite trails at least once a week
  9. Watch a scary movie
  10. Decorate for Halloween
  11. Make a Halloween Costume
  12. Give out candy to trick-or-treaters
  13. Make homemade apple cider
  14. Tailgate a football game
  15. Spend time outside doing nothing but enjoying fall

Fall PC Chris Asche

Photo Credit: Chris Asche

**** I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave your comments in the section below.  What items do you have on your fall bucket list?  Are you just as sad as I am to see summer go? Also any advice on banishing writers block would be appreciated. 

Memoirs of a Prison Intern Part 2 – the Good, the Bad, and the Crazy

A weird thing happens to me in life.  People either don’t take me seriously at all (I blame the blonde hair), or they hand me the keys to an entire unit of inmates.  I wish that was just a metaphor, but no they literally handed me the keys.  Because why not put a 20 year old white girl in charge of a unit of inmates?  What could possibly go wrong?

One of the COs came to me to tell me that they were short kitchen staff.  It was apparently my job to walk into the commons filled with hungry inmates and tell four of them that they needed to serve in the kitchen line.  Don’t worry we will pay you a whole $0.25 an hour.  I don’t understand who wouldn’t love to do that.  I am of course oozing with sarcasm as kitchen duty is hated by all.

“I have to do that?”

“Well you are the big boss.”

Yes that is me, the big boss.  Watch out, big boss is on the move.  Don’t mess with me.  I mustered as much confidence as I could, and then walked into the commons.  I told the first four guys I saw that they were on kitchen duty and then left before anyone had the chance to argue with me.  I thought I had made it out alive, when the room erupted into whistling.  I was not in the mood for this today.  Well any day really, but especially not today.

One of my gifts is the ability to give someone a look that shuts them up faster than any words could.  I don’t really do it on purpose, nor do I have any idea what it looks like.  But my siblings have told me it exists, so I believe them.  This look came out in full force the moment I turned around.

For the first time since I started working there, I think I saw slight traces of fear in their eyes.  I had my finger up pointing it like a disapproving mother. I put on my big girl pants and yelled, “The whistling stops here!” and then turned around and walked out.  One inmate had the audacity to bark at me, but never again did they whistle.

Luckily for me, there were no more naked inmate fights.  However one day I would arrive at the scene of a fight to find that someone had already loosed their entire can of pepper spray.  Oh that burns, that literally burns everywhere.  My eyes, my lungs, everywhere.  I turned around and ran straight outside.  It didn’t help.  I was coughing up pepper spray for the rest of the day.  So were the rest of my co-workers.  Weirdly enough those were that type of mutual suffering were the things that bonded us together.

Needless to say, there was never a dull moment. Here is an example of a “normal” conversation:

Let’s call him Fred.  Fred was a nice guy in his 50s.  He came to my office first thing in the morning before my brain had enough coffee to wake itself up.

Fred looked like he was going to ask me about something, but then got distracted and said, “You look like you should be barefoot and pregnant somewhere.”

“Excuse me?”  My under-caffeinated brain was trying to process if I heard what I think I heard.

“I just mean that you look like the type of girl who shouldn’t be working in a job like this.  You should have a husband who goes to work for you as you sit at home barefoot and pregnant.”

It takes quite a bit to leave me speechless.  This was one of those moments.  I could tell Fred was not trying to malicious, he was just making an observation.  Fred was also old enough that he probably came from an era when that was normal for a woman to do.  I just stared at him for a while.  Once my brain caught up to what had just happened, I muttered something about female rights and how I wanted to be working.

Fred just said, “Well anyways have a good day miss Lori.”

Did Fred come into my office just to tell me that?  Yes, yes he did.

I survived all of it – the good, the bad, the crazy – all of it.  I am not sure how, but I know that I did.  During my first month there, one of the veterans told me that this place would change me.  I will never forget that conversation.  He was right, but it didn’t change me in the way that either of us expected it to.  It forced me to look at the world with eyes wide open, and I have always been grateful for that.  

Prison

Photo Credit: Francois Delbar

**** I was talking to a good friend who I asked to give me feedback on my blog.  He told me, “Its good but I am left feeling like I want to know more about you.”  Huh I guess I didn’t realize people would care about that stuff.  So I decided to write a series of memoirs about my life experiences, because I some how find myself doing things like catching chickens in Africa or running to stop a fight among inmates.  

Up next is Memoirs of a Prison Intern Part 3.  I was only planning on doing two parts, but part 1 brought up some very good discussion on social stigmas of criminals.  This is something that I am very passionate about, and I simply could not fit it into this blog.  So Part 3 will be more serious, but something I believe is important for everyone to understand.  

Thank you for reading,  and please feel free to comment below.  If there are any stories you have that you would like to share, or any stories from my life you would like to read about please let me know.

Memoirs of a Prison Intern Part 1 – Jump In and Don’t Drown

When I was a sophomore in college, just barely 20 years old, I accepted a internship in a state penitentiary.  I had been a criminal justice major for all of three semesters.  Obviously I was ready for this (that is sarcasm in case you missed it).  Apparently my professor thought I was because he is the one who encouraged me to apply for the internship.

It all happened very quickly.  Within about a weeks time I applied, interviewed, and got the job.  I didn’t have a chance to stop and think about what it would be like to work in a prison.  I didn’t stop to wonder if this was something I could even handle.  I had absolutely no idea what I had just signed myself up for.  

Working in a prison was very hard.  One should expect that, but I didn’t.  I didn’t know what I expected, because like I said I didn’t have a lot of time to build expectations.  Still, I was naive enough to think that it would be easy.

That the job would be easy.

That working with inmates would be easy.

That it would be easy to walk away every day and just be fine.

How very wrong I was.  It was anything and everything but easy.  And yet working there was one of the best decisions I have made so far.

Walking through the prison gate is something that becomes normal very quickly, and yet is a feeling that you can never quite get use to.  The gate slams behind you as you walk into the prison, and the despair is palpable.  It hits you like a wave, and it is suffocating.  It is if the very oxygen you breathe has been replaced with every regretted decision and unheard cry for help.

And how can one naive girl walk into that feeling prepared?  The answer is, you can’t.  There is nothing that could have prepared me for something like that.  Just as there is nothing that could have prepared me for every hard decision I would have to face.

How to help those which you cannot help.

How to show mercy without showing weakness.

How to fake enough confidence that I don’t get eaten alive.

How to stop the whistling, the tears, the fights.

How to pick the black and white answer when everything around you seems to be a swirling mass of gray.

I walked up to the gate, and tried to very confidently hand them my ID badge to let me in.

They just gave me a look, “Who are you?”

I mean seriously, this happened about every day for my first month working there.  I know I don’t look very intimidating, but my badge says Unit Manager Intern.  So I would have to embarrassingly stand there (again) as they called around to confirm that yes, this girl is our intern.  Thanks for the confidence boost everyone.

Today was my first day actually working inside the prison walls. I had maybe been there an hour when a Code Red, Code 3  was called for our unit.  Which meant that somewhere two inmates had started fighting.

I headed towards the scene, only half running because lord knows I was not going to be the first one to arrive there.  Correctional officers were flying by me like lightening bolts, yelling at me to move out of the way.  Each time I tried, I would almost run into a different CO that was sprinting down the hallway.

When I arrived at the scene, I just saw a huge pile of men.  I am sure somewhere under that pile of COs were the two inmates that started fighting.  One by one they started to peel themselves off of the pile.  They handcuffed the two who started the fight, and started to walk them out.

And that is the moment when I realized, oh that man is not wearing any clothes.  He got into a fight naked, and now that very naked man is walking right towards me.  In that moment the only thing I could think was what the hell have I gotten myself into. 

I learned that life is 98% of having absolutely no clue what you are doing, but doing it anyways.  There are somethings  Most things in life are impossible to prepare for.  I learned to not be intimidated by those things, because those were the moments that I found out what I was truly made of.   Most of the time we don’t know what we are capable of surviving until we do.  However, this was only the first of what I would experience.  So until next time.

Wire

**** I was talking to a good friend who I asked to give me feedback on my blog.  He told me, “Its good but I am left feeling like I want to know more about you.”  Huh I guess I didn’t realize people would care about that stuff.  So I decided to write a series of memoirs about my life experiences, because I some how find myself doing things like catching chickens in Africa or running to stop a fight among inmates.  

Coming soon is part 2 of Memoirs of a Prison Intern. 

Thank you for reading,  and please feel free to comment below.  If there are any stories you have that you would like to share, or any stories from my life you would like to read about please let me know.

Favorite Song Fridays

Hey guys, I was inspired by Ordinary Adventures recent blog in which she talks about how so has developed a plan for her blog.  She has a calender filled with the topics that she is going to write about.  I think this is a great idea because it helps to really define what you want your blog to look like.

It got me thinking that I should maybe start being a bit more organized.  My blog has been a bit scattered all over the place.  I am still trying to figure out how much time I can commit to blogging.  I don’t want it to turn into something that I have to do.

In my blog Just Words and Just Music, I touch on how music is and always has been an important part of my life.  There are so many songs that just touch my soul.   I have been waiting to share a lot of these songs with you guys for a while, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.

So I decided to take a step in the organized direction and start doing a Favorite Song Fridays, in which I will share with you some of my favorite songs lyrics.  I plan to do this on a trial basis through the month of August, and if things go well continue.  Look for the first Favorite Song Friday post tomorrow!

P.S. Thanks for being my readers, you guys rock.

Cherished Blogfest

Our van pulled up to the marketplace in Livingstone, Zambia.  The air was hot and sticky.   The air was always hot and sticky.  It was the type of heat that makes you forget what it is like to be cold.

Within a few short days, the Zambians we had partnered with already felt like brothers.  They promised to help us navigate the market place, but there were much more of us than them.

With big eyes and Kwacha (Zambian Currency) in hand, I took my first steps towards the market place.

MichaelLiedtke_Market1

Photo Credit: Michael Liedtke

They barter everything in the market place.  I would eventually barter my hair tie for a nice hand carved wood bottle opener for my brother.  Bartering is kind of intimidating to me in itself.  I am not a demanding, forceful person.  I could never work in sales.

So here I was trying to barter for my first time.   Of course it would be with a foreign currency.  Not that it really mattered since I had no idea how much any of this stuff would be worth in American money.  Add to that the fact that my white skin screams I have money and no idea what I am doing.  I was basically a moving target for disaster.

The marketplace vendors were indeed happy to see a van full of mzungas (white people) pull up.   I wandered off on my own.  True to their word, my Zambian brothers came to help me.  They helped the marketplace vendors take me more seriously, but besides that they were mostly there for moral support.

If I played confidant, maybe the vendors wouldn’t catch on that I had no idea what I was doing.  One thing I did have going for me, is that I can read people really well.  I could tell which vendors were trying to take advantage of me.

The first thing on my list was a chitenge (a chitenge is a long colorful piece of fabric that the women wrap around themselves as skirts).

MichaelLiedtke_Market3MichaelLiedtke_Market4

Photo Credit: Michael Liedtke

I know that I paid too much for it, but I also knew that I didn’t care.  The woman was nice and I had talked down the price enough.  Plus she needed the money more than me, and it felt greedy to pay any less.

I had bought my first chitenga.  Oh I would buy others.  In fact I cherish everything I bought in Zambia.   But my first chitenga would always be special to me.  It reminded me of a girl who was fearless, even when she had no idea what she was doing.  It reminded me of the girl who wasn’t afraid to jump in and get her hands dirty.

It reminded me of my last night in Africa.  When I stood barefoot in the orange African dirt looking up at the stars.  The wind was gently whipping my chitenga around my legs.  I scrunched my toes into the dirt and promised myself that this would not be the last time my feet touched African soil. 

**** Michael Liedtke is a professional photography that went to Zambia with me.  To see more of his amazing photos from Zambia, click here.

**** Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read my blog.  If you have a cherished object you would like me to read about, please put in the comments below.

cherished-blogfest1

Liebster Award

liebster-award

This week I was nominated by Abi of Random Joys for my first Liebster Award.  I was excited and honored to be nominated by Abi.  What a great idea for getting to know other bloggers!

I want to thank Abi for nominating me!  If you want to read her answers you can do so here.  Abi is a food fanatic, but she is also a great writer.  I loved her poem Renewed Beginnings.

Here are my answers to the 10 questions I received from Abi.

1. What’s your favorite thing to do on a weekend?

Sleep in.  I know that is not very exciting, but I am not a morning person so I love a good lazy morning.  I love stay snuggled in my bed for as long as possible, and then making myself a killer breakfast and drinking coffee.

2. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

Ooo, time travel for sure 🙂  I love to travel, and time travel seems like it would just be an extension of that.  I would absolutely love to go back to ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt when they were in their prime.  I am fascinated by history and different cultures, so I would love the chance to see history in the making.

3. What’s your favorite dessert?

Tiramisu, enough said.

4. What kind of music do you like listening to?

Acoustic, folk, and indie are probably my favorites, but I like pretty much anything besides rap.

5. If you had to eat food from just one cuisine all your life, what cuisine would it be?

Don’t get me wrong I love a good burger (see #9) and I love ribs and bacon, but if I had to I could go vegetarian.  My brother calls me a rabbit because I just like to eat vegetables all the time.  They just taste fresh and crunchy, yum 🙂  Anyways if I had to being a vegetarian wouldn’t be that hard for me.

6. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

All of you of course!  I know that is cheesy, but its true.  I am so grateful for every single person that reads my blogs.  When I first decided to start blogging regularly this past spring, I never thought I would receive as much support as I have been.  So yes, my favorite part is getting to connect with all of you, as we inspire each other.

7. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Lots of things, I had quite an active imagination.  The one that sticks out most to me is a secret agent.  I use to run around my farm trying to solve mysteries and spying on people.  Yep, I was an interesting child.

8. Any travel plans in the near future?

Yes, far too many.  I fell in love with Africa.  It is a beautiful land filled with beautiful people.  I plan to go back in the next year to five years.  Other places I would like to go in the next five years include: Italy, Ireland, France, and Australia.

9. What’s your favorite restaurant?

I really don’t eat burgers often, but when I do it is almost always at JL beers.  JL beers is a cool niche restaurant in downtown Sioux Falls, and they have the best burgers I have ever had.

10. If you had to play the role of one movie character, who would you pick?

I would want to be Rapunzel from Tangled.  I think she is spunky and adorable.

I picked the following 10 blogs to nominate:

Of Whiskey and Words , Lindsay Waltner, Vanessa Marie, What Inspires Your Writing, Ordinary Adventures , A Person A World, My Thoughts on a Page , Freedom, M.C. Tuggle, Narrative Spark

These ten humans are pretty awesome.  They inspire me to be a better person and a better writer.  I have linked their blogs to their name so feel free to go check them out!

The rules of the award are pretty simple:

One- Thank the nominator
Two- Display award in post
Three- Nominate 10 other bloggers
Four- Answer the 10 questions

Here are my 10 questions for the nominees to answer:

1. What is your weirdest quirk? 

2. What is the most embarrassing thing you did as a child? 

3. What is your favorite type of weather? 

4. What is your favorite summer activity? 

5. Who is someone that you have known that really influenced your life?

6. What are the top five things on your bucket list?

7. Where is the coolest place you have traveled to?

8. Where is a place you would love to travel to?

9. If you had to pick a different time period to live in which would you pick?

10. Why did you decide to start your blog?

Have fun with it, I can’t wait to read your answers!

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.

Friends 2

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

Following Breadcrumbs & Finding Purpose

I have been restless and relentless.  Searching for the answer to the daunting question of “What am I going to do with my life?”  It has turned into my own little research project.  I have read as many books as I can get my hands on, and talked to as many people who will answer my questions.

I was desperate.  Desperate to not end up doing the same job that I hated for the next 40 years of my life.  Desperate to not miss my calling, my purpose.  Desperate for answers that no one seemed to have. Desperate for some lightning bulb, neon sign, or message from above that would tell me what to do with my life.

All I got was breadcrumbs.

Little bits and pieces of information that I was somehow suppose to puzzle together into an answer.  I started listening for the little pings that went off in my heart when something felt right.  Slowly I started to form a little breadcrumb trail of pings.  A trail that could be easily overlooked if one was instead looking for a neon sign.  I haven’t figured out where I am going yet, but with each new ping I feel like I am getting one step closer.

I think it is normal for young people to feel lost in life.  Maybe old people feel this way too, I don’t know I haven’t made it that far yet.  If we are honest, we can admit we have no idea where we are going, but when we stop to take a look at how we got here, we can realize just how far we have already come.

I think about all of the places I have been, and all of the places I am going.  When I look at where I have been, I feel successful. Not in the tradition sense as I am far from being rich or famous.  But I feel successful in the way of relationships, memories, and adventures that money can’t buy.

Successful is maybe the wrong word, but I like to think of success in broader terms than the traditional sense.  I heard a story of a friend of a friend who had spent his whole life building an empire, only to find himself old and with no one to give it to.  I thought this sounded like the saddest way to live a life, yet often that is how we define success.

The friend who told me that story has been running a camp with his family for about as long as I have been alive.  He has little to leave to those behind him after he dies, but that is because he has already left so much.  He has lived one of the richest lives I know, and he has made others lives richer because of it.  That is the type of life that I want to live.

When I think about the future my life could hold it is exciting but overwhelming, because in the grand scheme of my life I seem too little.  I am left feeling like life didn’t know my shoe size so it gave me ones that were way too big.  Shoes I desperately want to fill, but know I never can.

Then the doubt and the fear creeps in, strangling the seed of hope that sprouted there.   I begin to wonder, am I enough?  Am I really?  Do I have what it takes to keep walking forward?  Or have I been found wanting?   Who am I?

Who am I really to want these things, to believe I can chase these things?

You are you.  When has that ever not been enough?

Me

Photo Credit: Christin VanderPol

I have learned that the question “What am I going to do with my life?”  doesn’t have an answer, it is an answer.  It is an action, one that you are constantly doing, constantly adapting to.  And on the day when what you are longer doing no longer fits, that is okay.  You can do something new.  Purpose is fluid that way.  We define it with our life, rather than our life being defined by it.

Many people fear regret.  The fear of making the wrong decision can paralyze us from making any decision.  Then we grow old, and we realize that our biggest regret was not the times we stepped out of the box, but the things we never dared to try.

The beauty in life is that there are no destinations, only defining moments that change the course of our path. So run hard and jump high and trust yourself to make it to the other side.  Follow your breadcrumb trail and know that where ever you end up, where ever you are, it is a good place to be.

“What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it.” – Michael A. Singer