The Strength in Her Bones

 

There is strength in your bones.

It is etched into the very fibers of your DNA.

It trickles through the blood which flows through your veins.

It is pushed through your body with every heart beat.

It is made stronger by every rift and tear.

There is strength in your bones my dear, don’t you dare doubt it.

 

There is strength in your hips and there is strength in your lips.

There is strength with every move that you make.

There is strength with every word that you speak.

So walk proudly and speak boldly.

Live passionately and fight fervently.

There is strength in your bones my dear, don’t you dare forget it.

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Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

 

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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

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

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.

Memoirs of an Introvert

“Really you are an introvert?”

Yes, I really am.  People who don’t know me well are always surprised by this.  While I do have some extroverted tendencies, I am more of an introvert.  Truth be told I am probably more of an ambivert, which is somewhere in the middle.  But when push comes to shove, I end up on the introvert side.

I use to hate being called an introvert, because I thought that it meant I was shy and boring.  We tend to think of extroverts as the life of the party and introverts as the weird girl in the corner playing with a cat.

I have spent most of my life misunderstanding myself and being misunderstood by others about what it actually means to be an introvert.  Learning that my brothers were introverts helped me a lot.  They are the fun, life of the party, outgoing type of people that you wouldn’t assume to be introverts.  Far from the weird shy girl playing in the corner with a cat.

So what does it mean to be an introvert?  What is life really like for us silent mysterious types?  Let me tell you, and hopefully help you relate a bit better to the introverts in your life.

 If you want to hear what an introvert is thinking, stop talking for two minutes.

One of my favorite things about African culture, is that they cater to introverts.  They value silence in conversation, because they value sometime taking the time to think of the words they want to say.

American culture is quite the opposite.  Conversation is fast paced and silences are awkward.  We haven’t been talking for five seconds quick say something to fill the silence before they think you are a boring person who doesn’t have anything to say.

As an introvert, fast paced conversation is exhausting.  Our brains are not wired to work that way.  We are by nature deep thinkers.  We need time to think of what we want to say.  We need time to process through every possible answer. If you can give us time, you will be rewarded with a well thought out answer.

Please don’t our lack of enthusiasm in a conversation as a cue to just keep talking. 

It is actually more work to listen to someone who has been talking for the last hour straight then it is to be in a conversation with someone.  This past weekend I went camping with my family.  On the drive home, me and my fellow introverted brother maybe said a dozen sentences to each other.  It didn’t mean that we didn’t like each other or want to be around each other, it just meant we need to decompress.

I think a lot of extroverts tend to confuse our silence as a sign to just keep talking.  No, please no.  It means we want silence.  Like I mentioned earlier, we can’t change gears as quickly.  That is even more amplified in a one sided conversation.  We are trying to listen as politely as possible, while silently begging you to stop talking so we can go back to our thinking.

No matter how much we may like you, some days we need to just go hide in our introvert cave.

When I am done with people, I am done with people.  My brain turns to mush and I start to think that I will lose my sanity if I have to listen to one. more. minute. of mindless chit chat.  I am not trying to be rude, but I have no energy to care what happened to your shoe belt buckle.  I am going to go lock myself in a closet for an hour, k bye.

We are not trying to be rude, I promise.  Our brains are just shutting down, and we will get crankier by the minute until you let us decompress.  Let us have a minute to ourselves to breathe, and we will come out refreshed and ready to listen about your shoe belt buckle problems.

We like to think, A LOT.

We need to think a lot.  It is how we are wired.  We are the deep thinkers and the over-analyzers. The best way I can explain it is that extroverts think externally and introverts think internally.  Introverts are always thinking about something, just like extroverts will always be talking about something.  Introverts are constantly analyzing and re-analyzing whatever happens to be on our mind.

I think that is part of the reason large crowds exhaust us so much.  We have so much internal stimuli happening all the time, that the added external stimuli just overheats our brains.  There will be times in crowds when there is so much activity going on that I literally can’t even hear myself think.  I feel like a caged animal that just needs to get out.  It is akin to an extrovert being locked in a closet for a day not able to talk to anyone.

Please don’t try to force us to talk.

I can’t count how many times people have tried to force me to talk in group settings. I know they are just trying to be helpful.  They think that I am not talking because I am shy, or maybe I just haven’t gotten the chance yet.  While those may be true, it is mostly because I am just not ready yet.  (Am I beating a dead horse yet?)  Introverts need time to process and think.  We will talk when we are ready to talk.

The times in group discussion when I was called to share before I was ready, I just spewed words that didn’t make sense and were not at all what I was trying to say.  It left me feeling like I just didn’t get my point across (because I didn’t).  Forcing us to share something that we are still digesting will just leave us feeling resentful.  Be patient with us.  We patiently listen as you never seem to stop talking, you can patiently wait when as our silences never seem to stop.

I don’t want to go is a valid reason.  

It doesn’t matter how much we like you or how much we may even like the event.  Some days we are too peopled out.  So we try to spare your feelings by telling you we have a lot of stuff to do.  “Oh I would love to but you know I really need to give my cat a bath tonight.” Our cat is fine, we just don’t want to go because the thought of being surrounded by strangers for a whole night makes us cringe.

I normally try to force myself to go anyways.  I know as cozy as my favorite chair and book may sound that I want to live a life filled with memories and experiences with other people.  Some times I am glad I went as I ended up having a great time.  Other times I sit and count the seconds until I can return to my introverted ways.

But we still do love people.

I know, it is kind of contradictory.  We don’t quite understand the conundrum ourselves.  The best way I can explain it, is that it is like running a race.  No matter how much you may like running, you are still exhausted after a race.  No one runs a marathon and then turns around wants to run another marathon.

I know some people who like running more than any human should like running.  But even they don’t run all the time.  The body isn’t capable of it.  The same goes for introverts – our brains aren’t capable of running social marathons all the time.  We like people, quite a lot actually, but we can’t be around them all the time.

This is just one introverts perspective, not a one size fits all guide to making introverts happy.  Introverts and extroverts have been mislabeled for quite some time.  If you are outgoing you are told that you are extroverted, and if you are shy you are told that you are introverted.  That may be true for some but not for all.  Some of the most outgoing people I know are introverts.  In short, it all comes down to how you process information.  Introverts process the world internally, and extrovert process the world externally.  Most people are a mixture of both, but it still helps to understand both sides.

There you have it – the not so mysterious thoughts of the mysterious introverts.

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*** Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, as I always appreciate others thoughts.  Tell me about you experiences as an introvert, or your experiences as an extrovert dealing with introverts.  

Frozen by Doubt and Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suitecase Sarah Moldovan

Photo Credit: Sarah Moldovan

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

Guilty Vacations

I am on vacation this week.  This is the first time in a long time that I had a vacation that didn’t involve something along the lines of building a house in Mexico or going to a conference in Philadelphia.  In fact I didn’t have anything planned for this vacation other than seeing old friends and sitting on a boat.  Then again it is hard to plan much of anything when you are going to Eufaula, Oklahoma.  When I told people where I was going I always got the same response, “What is there to do there?”  Nothing, that is the point.

I am completely awful at doing nothing.  Is it just me?  I feel guilty for doing nothing, especially if I have been doing nothing for more than an hour.  My brain starts to panic, I haven’t been doing anything productive for an hour I am wasting my life away.  Sometimes doing nothing is more stressful for me than being productive.

Yesterday I laid in the sun on the back of a boat for probably close to two hours.  I dozed in and out, and I have never been more content.  It was fabulous.  Who knew that doing nothing could be so much fun?  This morning I sat outside drinking coffee and watching the flash flood.  I know a flash flood in Oklahoma, what is this?

Stress wrecks havoc on us.  It is a silent killer, because we often are not even aware that it is happening.  Once I finally allow myself to rest, I realize just how tired I really am.  I haven’t been doing anything I shouldn’t be this tired.  That isn’t entirely true.  I haven’t been doing anything today but that doesn’t mean my body isn’t exhausted from the last few weeks, months, years.  It reminds me just how much our bodies need to rest. I don’t just mean getting 8 hours of sleep a night.  I mean truly rest.  Like sit on a lake and not think about work type of rest.  It is good for our bodies, it is good for our brains, but most importantly it is good for our souls.

Do nothing and don’t apologize.  

The world can wait for a few hours.  Everything that you need to get done can wait for a few hours today.
Photo Credit: Lori Rensink 

Restlessness and the Pursuit of Happiness

“And how is work going?”

“Work is going good, I really can’t complain.  But . . . I don’t know I have been in kind of rut, it is hard to focus.”  *My mother made some soothing listening nosies* “I’m not sure exactly what is wrong because honestly I have a great job with great bosses, I should be happy with it.”  *more soothing listening noises*

Then finally realizing I would never get there on my own, she chimed in, “You’re restless.”

“Well, I mean I don’t know . . . yeah I suppose you are right.  I’m restless.”

My whole life I have struggled to be content, even in the times when life is relatively good. I didn’t want to live my whole life waiting for the next best thing.  I had to learn to think of life as a journey not a destination.  It wasn’t so much about where I was going in life that mattered but what happened along the way.  It helped with the restlessness because I started seeing life as something to enjoy as is and not as somewhere I needed to get to. I do mean helped.  I am far from cured.

I started spending a lot of time reading and thinking about what it meant to actually enjoy my life no matter where I was or what my circumstances were. Life gets hard and it moves way too fast.  I have been trying to find ways to make the most out of the time I have and the best out of the bad situations.  In my youth and naivety I decided to create a list of things which have helped enjoy my life a little bit more.  I don’t want to saying that this list has made me happy, because happiness is fleeting and not something that can be permanently attained.  But these things have at least made me happier and less restless.

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