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.

feet

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

 

I am Done

For when I blamed myself because I thought it was my fault.

For when I felt powerless to control my own body.

For when I felt ashamed of my own body.

 

On the nights I wanted to feel safe but I couldn’t.

On the nights that I stayed up crying.

On the nights that I felt small, silent, powerless.

 

To those I should have been able to trust.

To those that should have taught me to be proud.

To those that make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

 

I am done.

I am done playing nice.

I am done playing scared.

I am done playing by the rules.

 

I am done.

I am done with your expectations.

I am done with your disappointments.

I am done with your judgments.

 

I am done.

I am done being ashamed.

I am done being uncomfortable.

I am done being silent.

 

I am done.

I am no longer giving you the power to affect me.

I am no longer giving you the power to make me feel small.

I am no longer giving you the power to shame me.

 

I am done.

 

Done

Photo Credit: Jake Olson 

New Beginnings and Changing Seasons

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

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

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

Spring is coming.

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

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

Summer is coming.

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

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

Sticky summer tears that came with no explanation.

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

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

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

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

Feet florida

Photo Credit: Lori Rensink

Life in the Slow Lane

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

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

Something was wrong, something needed to change.

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

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

We get gentle.

We take a moment to breathe.

To process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hike.jpg

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.

phone
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

Happiness

Photo Credit: Erwin Blumenfeld

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.

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!

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 

What it Means to be a Writer

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

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

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

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

Writing PC - Carolina Mila

Photo Credit: Carolina Mila

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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