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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Dear You – You Were Made for More

Dear You,

You were made for more than to just be born and die.  You were made for more than working 8-5 and looking forward to Friday.  You were made for more than paying bills and living paycheck to paycheck.  Dear one, this is never the life that I had planned for you.  When you were breathed into existence, there was far more dreamt up for you than this.

You work so hard to do everything that you are told you are suppose to do that you completely miss the things that you are meant to do.  You are so busy following who those around you tell you to be that you silence the voice in you that says they want to be someone different.  Find that voice again.  Find your voice again.

You were made to struggle, to explore, to rebel, and to thrive.  You were made to live – in every definition that one can live.  You were made to laugh, and to go off on adventures.  You were made to take chances, and yes even to fail sometimes.  Stop trying so hard to survive that you miss every reason that you are alive.  There is so much that this life holds for you if you only stopped to notice, if you only believed you could have it.

I want you to do great things,  I want you to believe in great things, and I want you to fight for great things.  I want you to see the world as a beautiful place, and to see yourself as a beautiful person.  Life is too short to let you insecurities silence you.

There will be tough days.  Days that challenge you.  Days that make you want to hide and cry.  But on those days you will learn what you are truly made of.  You will push back because you are resilient.  You will not let the bad days ruin the good days.

There will also be good days.  Days that you laugh so hard you cry.  Days when you will make memories you cherish forever.  Days when you are brave.  Days when you are kind.  Days when you fall madly in love.  Those are the best days – the days that makes us glad to be alive.  On those days never believe that you are not deserving of this much happiness.  You are every bit deserving.

Life won’t be everything you have dreamt it to be, but if you let it, life will be more than you expected it to be.  Stop molding your life to everyone else’s expectations and go chase your life.

Feet.jpgPhoto Credit: Lori Rensink

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.

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Photo via Her Paperweight

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

 

We Are the Generation

We are the generation that is lost and imperfect.

We are the generation that has been bombarded by media since birth.

We are the generation that constantly is been told how we must look at act, but we rebel – we are who we are and we look how we look.

We are the generation that is stumbling around blind trying to figure out our love life.

We are the generation that is desperately trying to find our soulmate in a sea of online dating and ambiguous relationships.

We are the generation that has no idea what true intimacy looks like, but we hope we find it one day.

We are the generation that has mastered communication through tweets and snap chat, but has no idea how to communicate face to face.

We are the generation that has been spoiled by our parents hard work and yet we know we are still missing something in life.

We are the generation that stays up way too late trying to find the meaning in our life.

We are the generation that has no idea what we are doing but knows we need to do something.

We are the generation that is sick of the petty carelessness of the generation before us.

We are the generation that doesn’t vote because we can’t find a politician that we trust no less believe in.

We are the generation that is running hard and fast, pushing the world for answers.

We are the generation that doesn’t like how the world works, so we challenge it.

We are the generation that is lost, misguided, reckless, and imperfect; but we are the generation that won’t settle.

We are the generation that is hungry.

We are the generation that is searching.

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Photo Credit: Michael Penn

 

 

Let That Be Enough

Happiness is fleeting.  I have been told this my whole life.  Happiness comes into our lives as quickly as it slips through our fingers.  Life gets hard, and bad things happen.  We will have moments on top of the mountain, and we will have moments in the rut.  But I am not convinced it is that simple.  I think it goes deeper than that.

By this standard, everyone should have relatively equal amounts of happiness and misery.  Take a look around you, and you will realize how inaccurate that is.  Some of the most miserable people have everything, and some of the happiest people don’t.  It has nothing to do with their current life situation – it has everything to do with them.  

Maybe happiness isn’t that fleeting, maybe we just don’t know how to appreciate it when its right in front of us. 

We see our happiness, and we want more.  Good things happen to us, but there are better things that we want to happen.  We see our life but our friends lives look better on social media.

We have become a society wrapped in our own greed.  And when we find that our greed for material things cannot be satisfied, we replace it with greed for the perfect life.  We need to have the most elaborate proposal, the most pinterest worthy holiday dinner spread, the mother that can manage all.  We run ourselves into the ground trying to chase this perfect picturesque life that we don’t even want only to wonder why we are left feeling miserable.

Bad things happen and we push through them, and they make us stronger and more resilient.  But then good things happen and we brush them aside.  We don’t take the time to see what is right in front of us.  We have so much, but we push it aside because we don’t think it is enough.   We are try harder than ever to capture happiness, and all we get is this feeling that there should be more to life.  There is, we just can’t see it because it can’t be bought in a box or posed in an Instagram post.

It is right there in the midst of the messy part of our life.  It is right there in the moments gone forgotten.  It is right there waiting for you to stop looking for other’s to approve of your life.

You don’t need the world’s stamp of approval, you just need yours.  Let that be enough. 

We have lost sight of the life that happens in the margins, the life that happens when social media isn’t watching, the life that isn’t perfectly cultivated at our fingers tips.  We have lost sight of what it means to be alive, because the best things in life can’t be planned, they just happen.

It is a hard thing to be human, it is a very hard thing.  It becomes even harder when we refuse to let ourselves be human – messy, unsure, imperfect.  We are human.  We make mistakes.  We have no clue what we are doing most of the time.  We feel things deeply, sometimes too deeply.  And we are forever haunted by this voice that tells us we are not enough,  that we will never be enough.  Silence it. 

Let life your life with its messy imperfections be enough.  Let what you have be enough.  Let the things you do be enough.  Let who you are be enough, even when you believe that you never will be.

Be messy.

Be imperfect.

Be real.

Be you.

If you don’t, you will spend your life chasing someone else’s happiness.  Chase your own happiness.  No one else but you can decide what your own happiness is.  Chase your dreams relentlessly, and always believe that you are capable of more. Be complex, be confused, be chaotic, be content – be human.

Your life is beautifully imperfect, and that is enough. 

So, I’ve been thinking about this whole being happy thing, and I feel like people get lost when they think of happiness as a destination . . .  We’re always thinking that someday we’ll be happy; we’ll get that car or that job or that person in our lives that’ll fix everything.  But happiness is a mood, and it’s a condition, not a destination.  It’s like being tired or hungry, it’s not permanent.  It comes and does and that’s okay.  And I feel like if people thought of it more that way, they’d find happiness more often.” – One Tree Hill

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Photo Credit: Erwin Blumenfeld

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.

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

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Photo Credit: Svetlana Chekhlataya

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

Be Kind

Be kind,a reminder to myself and to you.

Be kind, because life is not always kind.

Be kind, even to those who are mean.

Be kind, because we are all humans and we all hurt.

Be kindest to those which are hardest to be kind to.

Be kind to those who seem tough, its an act, they cry too.

Be kind, because hate doesn’t fix anything.

Be kind as kindness begets kindness, but the same goes for hate.

Be kind to those who laugh at you.

Be kind to those who hate you.

Be kind, because the world needs more of it.

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Photo Credit: Kristen Duke