Finding happiness in the dark

Yesterday was a magical day.

It was one of those days I never wanted to end, where you just soak up every moment. I played in the woods and enjoyed some time away from the craziness of Orlando and drank good beer with a pretty fantastic person.

You ever meet someone who just…gets you? Where it immediately feels like you’ve known them forever? It doesn’t happen often, but it’s pretty incredible when it does.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining and we walked and walked and talked and talked, and it was amazing. It was one of those days that proved this was the right move for me. I’m appreciating where I am and who is in my life and all the good things so much more now.

I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time. Remember when a few months ago I said there were good things coming, I could feel it? I was right.

But those are different stories for different times. They’re not ready to be committed to paper, I’m still enjoying having them in my brain to day dream about.

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Forests of ferns

Waking up this morning was awful.

I woke up to news of the attacks on Syria. I woke up to news of the attacks on Stockholm. I woke up to news of the shooting and murders that occurred outside of one of my favorite pubs in my hometown.

I woke up with a smile still on my face, but it quickly fell.

How can things be going so wonderful for me, yet so terribly for so many others? Why am I so lucky to be stressed about paying for summer camp for my daughter when there are people literally fleeing for their lives?

How can people be so downright shitty? There may be a more eloquent way to word that, but at this point I don’t care. Yesterday’s events are just plain shitty.

Emma put it best, I think. I hope she doesn’t mind my stealing her words, “How am I supposed to explain to my child someday that I’m scared to let her stay out late because she might get shot? How do I explain to her that people fucking bomb each other in the name of defense and loyalty to countries?”

I wanted to have all the answers. I wanted to pretend I knew exactly what to tell her, what to tell our daughters, and what to tell everyone else who is as confused as I am about why the world is the way it is.

I don’t, though.

Why am I writing this, then?

Mostly because it’s the only way I know to attempt to make sense of it. Maybe if I write enough about it, I’ll understand. Or at least come to a place where I accept that I’ll never understand.

Sophie was so excited when I came home from work today. Her face lit up, “mommy! mommy!” she yelled. “How day?”

How am I supposed to tell her anything but good? One day her questions when I come home will be much more complicated then how my day was.

One day I’ll have to tell her that people suck.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those parents who can just brush stuff under the rug. I’ll always want to answer her questions.

But there are some I just can’t because I don’t have the answers myself.

My heart is heavy. I feel everything too deeply, and I know that. I’m not one of those people who can separate myself from the terrors of this world. Especially when terrible things happen right in my own back yard.

I just want to always feel the way I did yesterday.

Happy. Free. Beautiful. Excited. Relaxed.

But those feelings become replaced with such anxiety, sadness, anger, hurt and confusion when things like this happen.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel to other people? How do people feel like it is their right to just take away someone else’s life?

How is there so much anger and hatred in this world? It breaks my heart.

Maybe I’m far too idealistic in my wish for people to just get along and be happy. I always strive to see the good in people no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been. I look for the best in everyone I meet and have a hard time accepting that some people do shitty things just because they can.

I’m naive, and there are some people who try to make me see the darker sides of things, who try to make me be “realistic.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a realist.

I can see the slight pity in people’s faces when I start going off on a tangent filled with child-like excitement about something going on in my life. Things don’t always work out the way I want them to, but I haven’t let any of it break me yet.

I’ve been to hell and back so many times they should give me a VIP parking spot, or at least pay my tolls. My point is that, I’ve seen some shit. I’ve been some dark and twisty places, to quote Meredith Grey. I’ve crashed, burned, fallen flat on my face and failed more times than I can count, especially over this past year or two, but none of it has broken me the way some people must be to do the horrific things they do.

None of it has made me lose hope in the world. It’s fading, sure. I’m afraid for the future. I’m afraid for my daughter. I’m afraid for the battles that are coming. I’m afraid to lose the light in my eyes because this world is just so dark.

I don’t know what to do with all of this. I have such a small place in this world, but I want to make my place count. I guess I also just have this terrible need to save everyone and take care of everyone.

I can’t, but sometimes I wish people could see things the way I do. I wish they could see that the shitty stuff isn’t forever. That yes, it’s shitty, it hurts, it sucks. I fully believe in people wallowing in their hurt and dealing with it and even letting consume them for a little while.

But don’t let your hurt cause you to treat others like they don’t matter. They do.

The consequences of your actions might not go away, but the hurt goes away.

It always goes away.

Then you have beautiful days where the sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky and you walk through the woods and admire the ferns and hope the rustling sound behind you wasn’t a snake with someone who makes you feel alive and beautiful and happy.

Somehow, some way, we will all be okay. All we can really do is keep trying to find happiness in even the darkest of times. What’s that Dumbledore said? We just have to remember to turn on the light.

And sometimes we have to be the light.

Love can change the world in a moment, but what do I know?

Too beautiful for this world

I remember when I found out.

I was lying in bed, mindlessly scrolling through social media like I do every day.

I sat straight up when I saw it. I couldn’t believe it, but it was true. My friend had taken his own life.

It’s been three years since that day. It still doesn’t seem real. We hadn’t talked in ages, probably since I’d moved away, but it still hit me when I found out he wasn’t around anymore.

I think it’s because of the way he went.

I knew Eric during a particularly dark time of my life. He knew the me who was trying to navigate the dark tunnels of depression for the first time. He knew the me who regularly contemplated suicide. He knew the me that had cuts on her arms and legs and a razor blade in her pencil case.

There were days when he would tell my angsty, depressed, twelve-year-old self that it would be okay. That this wasn’t forever. To smile. Then he’d give me a hug and be on his way. He was a light on some dark, dark days.

The small things made a difference to me. Small acts from a lot of people helped me dig my self out of that dark place. I may have visited a time or two since then, but overall, I reign champion over my inner demons.

I attempted, contemplated often and am here now writing this. In a cemetery of all places. How ironic that I would be at a funeral on this anniversary. We buried my beautiful great grandmother today. She lived a long and happy life. She met her soul mate, had a beautiful family and lived a fulfilling life.

I often wonder why some people live forever and others are ripped away cruelly far too soon.

Sometimes I forget and think he is still out there making kick ass art and putting smiles on people’s faces.

Then it hurts all over again.

From my own struggles, I know how he must have felt when he died. I know what it’s like to feel like the world is just too much and the pain is just too much and there is no way out. I know what it is like to feel hopeless and helpless. No one deserves to feel that way.

Depression is very real. Anxiety is very real. Pain like that is real and dangerous. As much as I know that when it gets to that point, very little makes a difference, I still wish there was something someone could have done.

I’m sure the people that loved him, that were a part of his daily life, feel the same. I cannot even fathom how that must feel.

I watched them grieve from afar and just wanted to wrap them in a giant hug and make the hurt go away.

The shitty thing about something like this is that you can’t make the hurt go away, you can only learn to live with it and hopefully turn it into something good.

The strength I have seen, especially from his sister, as time goes on is incredible. She knows it, I’ve told her. I hate that I never got to tell Eric how much those little things he did for me meant to me so I make a point to let people know how much I love/admire/appreciate them while I do have the chance.

You really never know when it will be gone.

Something Danielle said about him has stuck with me: he was too beautiful for this world.

Some people just are.

I hope that he is out there in the universe somewhere watching down on us knowing how much we all loved him.

It’s unfathomable. I’ve written about it over and over and over again, and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that something like this is possible.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

I think I’ll always question why we struggled with some of the same things, but I get to be okay and he doesn’t.

I’ll just take the hurt and keep writing until my hand cramps. I’ll keep remind the people I love that I love them and that they matter.

Love is the only thing that cures us anyways.

 

If you’re hurting, struggling, contemplating, or whatever, please get help. Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255. If talking on the phone gives you anxiety, google it and they have an online chat. Reach out if you need a friend. Sometimes people really just have no idea what someone is going through even if you think they should.

Take it from me, things really can get better if you work to build your better. I promise.

Forgetting Lane (Poem)

There are some people who come into your life, and your heart, with little intention of staying.

Yet somehow, people like me don’t know when to let go.

Forgetting Lane

I had forgotten.
Maybe not completely,
but I had traveled far enough down forgetting lane to know it wasn’t easy,
but it was a road I could navigate
if I had to.

Then there you were.
You jumped out from behind a curve
when I was least expecting it.

“Remember me?”

You said you felt it was time
to come out of hiding —
you didn’t like running from me anyways.
You said you missed me and you were sorry.

No excuses,
just an honest apology,
and I could see the remorse behind those blue eyes
that make my heart melt and my knees weak
everytime I see them.

Oh how easily you can suck me right in
and put me under your spell.

Then there we were
sitting in your car laughing and holding hands.
You wouldn’t let go
even when you struggled to shift gears.
You held me tightly,
the smile I love never fading from your face.

We bonded over the smallest things —
a love of road trips with the windows down and the music turned up,
mountain time and our matching cameras.

I fell into your bed,
plush with pillows,
as if I’d been there a thousand times before.

You laid there with me
kissing me,
holding me,
nestling your head between my shoulder and my neck,
arms draped over me as if we were always meant to be there.

I traced the outline of the tattoo over your heart
wondering if you knew I never wanted to hurt you,
only be there for you.
But the walls you built to guard it
are damn near indestructible
and I’ve been chiseling away at them for so long.
Everytime I get close,
you shut me out again,
building them higher and higher.

We are miles and miles apart now,
I the one who ran away this time,
but forgetting lane has gotten tougher to navigate,
and I can’t shake the way I feel about you.

Gentleman (Poem)

Despite the fact that I have notebooks and notebooks full of material, I rarely post poetry on here. I usually keep it to word vomit/life updates, but lately I’ve been feeling the urge to publish other things.

I’m used to getting personal on here, but this is a different kind of personal. Here is a poem about the time I learned to confuse sex with love. About how people aren’t always who we think they are. About when I learned that not everyone values transparency and honesty the way I do.

Anyhow, I’ll stop rambling and let the poem speak for itself.

Gentleman

She called you a gentleman,
but I didn’t get that side of you
when you fucked me on the driver’s’ seat of your car.
You moaned my name
and told me I was the best you ever had.

Your hands traced my skin and gripped my body
As we moved together.
The tight space between my back and the steering wheel
Forced us to be closer,
Breathing the same air.
Our respective moans swirled together in a
Steamy fog of passion and lust.

You told me you wanted all of me, but
You only wanted my body.
I gave it to you easily,
Crawling out of my bed and into the shower
In the middle of the night
To get in your car
For a quicky and a heart to heart
In a nearby parking lot.

You weren’t a gentleman when you flicked your lights off
Before pulling into my driveway.
A condom in your glove box
Ready to take what you wanted
Knowing I was willing to give you my heart.

There was nothing gentle about you
When you pulled my hair
And claimed me as your own
Before disappearing for weeks at a time
Tossing me to the side like I was nothing.

You weren’t a gentleman
when you said we would go out
And never had the decency to call and cancel.
I waited by the phone,
Desperate for your name to pop up and give me something
When I’d given you everything.
How gentlemanly of you to lie to my face
Time and time again
When all I asked for was a bit of honesty
Even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

How stupid of me
To make excuses for you
Time and time again.

You weren’t a gentleman
When you let me hand you my heart —
Words scrawled out across a page as neatly as I could manage
Then folded into thirds
And handed to you as I hugged you goodbye.

You, the gentleman,
Couldn’t even be bothered to read it.
You’ve left it crumpled in a box under your bed
To make friends with dust bunnies and other forgotten things.

She called you a gentleman,
But you were anything but gentle with my heart.

The ocean, love and holding back

The ocean and I will always be the best of friends.

I throw myself into its waiting arms with reckless abandon, like an overeager lover.

Overeager, overwhelming, over dramatic, over enthusiastic, too much. You name it, I’ve been called it. I love fast. I love hard. I know it, I try to calm it. But calming my desire, my need, to love others deeply, truly, wildly, is like trying to calm the ocean’s waves.

Impossible, and quite honestly, a stupid thing to attempt.

I spend a lot of time at the ocean now that it is 45 minutes from my house. (In case you missed it, I moved to Florida a month ago. Despite the numerous tearful goodbyes I said, it seems I sort of left without announcing it. Anyhow, now you know).

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The ocean and I have rekindled our love affair and man is it exhilarating.

The ocean may be the only thing I’ve ever loved that hasn’t let me down. The only thing I can throw myself into and know that it will always catch me.

The ocean may toss me around a little bit. I may tumble within a wave or have my legs scraped up by the sand on its floor, but it also supports me. It is also the only place I feel entirely free. It is the only place I don’t have to worry about my joints failing me. It is the only place I can let go of my need for control.

I can hand control over to the ocean and just relax.

My body is supported by the water, and I move easily over the gentle waves.

When the rough ones come, I throw myself into them, back arched moving along with the currents.

beachhhh

I’m unafraid.

I’ve crashed and burned enough times. My heart has been bruised, beaten, taken for granted, drug through the mud and left washed up on the shore enough times that I know I can handle it.

I know that whatever happens, I’ll be okay. I can take care of myself just fine.

None of the bull shit I’ve been through has taught me to be guarded. None of it has hardened my heart the way people tell me it will.

I’m only 22, there’s still time, but I’m afraid to see what it would take for me to build walls the way others do.

I guess I’m just not afraid to risk it all for love. I’m not afraid to love all the pieces of someone. The thing about me is that whether friend or more than that, I want to see the dark places of people. I want to know what makes them tick. I want to know what they’re passionate about. I love watching someone light up when they talk about what they love. I love being able to assure people that their crazy is lovable. People are flawed, and I think we oftentimes forget that it’s okay to be that way.

I don’t want “perfect,” I’ve been there, tried that, didn’t bother to get the T-shirt, and we all saw where that got me.

The perfect life, the perfect relationship isn’t all its cracked up to be.

I don’t want that. Never have.

I think that for me, I would just eventually like to be with someone who gets that we all have baggage. We all have a past and things that hurt us and things that changed us. I guess I just want someone to accept that about me and understand that I’m willing to accept that about them.

I don’t know why I’m word vomiting all over the place right now. I don’t know what the point of writing all this is. There was just a little voice in my head telling me to word vomit.

I’ve been blocked because I’ve been avoiding my feelings. Well, sort of. I don’t know that I’m actually capable of avoiding my feelings.

I’ve been avoiding writing them down. I’ve been avoiding putting these stories to paper because I’m worried about hurting people.

How dumb is that? I’m worried about hurting people who had no regard for me. Who knew me, who knew how my heart works and shit on me anyways.

Seriously, I’m too sensitive for my own good. I care far too much.

I often wonder if there is even anyone else out there who gets it? Or am I just this crazy, oversensitive anomaly that is destined to end up with a broken heart over and over again?

Who the fuck knows.

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Anyways, there are a million things that I’ve wanted to write. A million words to put on paper. A thousand stories to tell. They’re trying to claw their way out of me. My hand itches every time I pick up a pen.

But I haven’t told them because I’m too worried about other people’s feelings. My tears have stained numerous pages as I try to protect people who usually never even gave me the time of day.

Fuck it.

I’m sensitive, but I’m strong. I’m loving, but I’m done with bull shit. I’m done with ghosting, pulling on heart strings and dishonesty.

So I return time and time again to my lover the ocean. I come back to the water to remember that life is hard. Life will knock you on your ass hundreds of times, but strength lies in your ability to get back up and keep fighting and keep loving.

And usually things are worth the risk.

I’ve been told that I need to get a thicker skin, that I need to stop being so willing to let people in.

That might be true, but I don’t think I’d be me anymore if I stopped feeling everything so intensely.

I’ve worked too hard to regain my sense of self in the last year to ever let that be taken from me again.

“Love can change the world in a moment, but what do I know?” –Ed Sheeran

You’re crazy, but you’re also sane

Here I am. Yet again, surrounded by boxes and half-packed suit cases, trying to sort through the piles of clothes, books and toys to pack them away.

Again.

I’ve moved five times in the last two years. Five. Not counting the three times we switched hotel rooms in the four months we lived in Virginia.

Five times.

I should be an expert at this by now. I should have a method to the madness of moving, but I don’t.

I don’t have a method to much of what I do in life. I have a restless spirit, almost to the point of recklessness. I’m a wanderer, physically and mentally. I day dream more than the average person, and I’m frequently wishing I were somewhere else. I can’t sit still to save my life so here I am, packing. Again.

My books and notebooks are off their precisely organized shelves and packed neatly into boxes. They are usually the only things I pack with any semblance of care. Seeing my journals filled with the stories, thoughts, mistakes, regrets and dreams of the past few months (or years) in a box always has an interesting affect on me.

Most of the time I feel like a complete mess. Once everything is packed though, and the physical parts of my life are put away, I can’t help but hope that maybe the less tangible parts of my life can be that organized. Doubtful, but a girl can dream.

I know it is time to have new experiences to fill more notebooks with.

It’s time for a new chapter. Again.

There is something exhilarating about starting over. New opportunities, new challenges. I know this next step will lead me to some great places. There are quite a number of good things coming my way, I can feel it.

Still, it is hard to leave other things behind. There are people I will miss more than I know how to handle. Some I know will still be around, their loyalty has been proven time and time again. I’m grateful to have friends who don’t care about my geographic location.

Others, well, I worry. I worry that not being here means those relationships will end. They likely will, and that means they weren’t meant for me anyways, but they aren’t things I’m ready to let go of.

I’m big on closure, and there are some things that will feel unfinished.

I’m still trying to convince myself that is okay.

My fear about this next step comes from my lack of a back up plan. In every scary step I’ve taken, I’ve had a clear “If plan A doesn’t work out, then I will…” So as much as I’ve felt like I’m diving into things head first, I’ve always known what I would do if it didn’t work out. My issues stem more from a lack of confidence or courage to act on those plans.

This time, I don’t have a back up plan. I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t get things to work out. On the one hand, I have every confidence that I will figure it out. On the other, trying to be okay with uncertainty is a constant process.

I feel very Rory Gilmore in the revival, except I know where (most of) my underwear is, and I (unfortunately) don’t have a super attractive international lover. Man, would I be less upset if I had Logan Huntzberger in my back pocket.

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Scratch that, I would be happier if I had Jess Mariano to remind me that I’m still a contender. 

I rambled about this to my lovely friend Eden earlier today. She told me that my uncertainty shows I’m a mature and sane adult.

“Mature and sane?” I questioned. “Those aren’t usually how people describe me.”

Her response?

“I mean girl, you cray. But you’re also sane.”

She’s right. I’m cray. I keep thinking I need to tame myself, to “get my shit together.” I don’t even know what that would look like. I keep thinking that maybe if I were less restless I would be happier. That if I didn’t let people in so easily I would be happier. That if I got a better job or a retirement fund or something that I would be happier.

Fuck that. 

The people in my life love me despite my crazy. I will forever be grateful to them and will constantly search for ways to show them just how much I love and appreciate them.

I have always had this need for outside approval. I can’t do anything without running it past a panel of people. I either do what they say, or I do something because they told me not to, and I felt like I needed to prove to them that I’m a grown ass woman who makes her own decisions.

Neither of those are good ways to make decisions. Doing anything based solely on anyone else hasn’t gotten me far in life. In fact, it made me completely lose my sense of self. I’m just starting to get it back, and I’ll be damned if I hand it over to anyone else again.

The past month I holed up. I didn’t drink. I didn’t go out. I hardly saw anyone, and I didn’t reach out much to talk or catch up.

It was just me and my notebooks (and Sophie, of course). I needed clarity. I had decisions to make and things to figure out.

Usually, I would feel terribly lonely and anxious. I actually enjoyed the alone time quite a bit.

For one of the first times, it is nice to feel like I am doing what I need and not what other people need from me. I suppose I’ve been doing that a lot over the past few months, but it is nice that it feels like a new normal and not just a whim I followed.

I’m so tired of taking better care of others than I do for myself. I always talk about how I love big, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes people aren’t deserving of it, and I have to realize that taking my love back doesn’t make me a bitch. It just means I’ve learned to love myself as much as I love others.

That’s another story for another time.

All I know right now is that it’s okay. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. It’s all gonna be okay.

Poetry, dates and coming home

I took myself on a date tonight. Make up, clean pants, brushed hair, favorite lipstick color and all.

It is part of my effort to be more comfortable doing things alone. Too often I skip out on things because I don’t have anyone to go with, and I don’t have anyone to drag begrudgingly along anymore.

I’m learning to enjoy my own company. It is uncomfortable don’t get me wrong, but I’m actually really glad I went out by myself tonight.

N.C. poet laureate Shelby Stephenson was speaking at the coffee shop downtown so I figured I would go listen to what he had to say and hear him read some of his poetry.

There is something magical about listening to a poet read their own work. He read with such enthusiasm and confidence. I hope one day to write things I am that proud of.

I’m not used to doing things alone so I assumed I would end up a wall flower among the gallery portraits in the crowded cafe. Attendees included groups of old friends, fellow writers and creative writing students from local university, obviously there out of a class obligation judging by their discussion of ‘the assignment’ on the evening.

Right before the event began, a table in the very center opened up. Quite the juxtaposition from the position I thought I would occupy. I sat down and was shortly joined by an older couple rushing to snag a table before Stephenson began to speak.

The husband was a fiction writer and an old friend of Stephenson’s. Ironically enough, my table mate wrote fiction because he couldn’t find his rhythm in poetry. I told him that I gravitated toward poetry because I couldn’t find my voice in fiction.

We chatted for just a few minutes, but it was nice. It was interesting having to define myself to a stranger. This person knew nothing about me, had simply sat down with me for lack of another option.

I didn’t quite know what to say when they asked even the most basic of questions. I have spent the past few months rebuilding and regaining my sense of self, but this might have been the first time I had to introduce myself to and make small talk with someone who had no background knowledge of me.

It was fun being able to tell them I write. Maybe if I say it enough times to enough people I will start to really believe it’s true. Lord knows I’ve been working hard at it, submitting all over the place and surely developing a case of carpal tunnel due to my incessant need to write everything by hand the first go round.

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The woods will always be my happy place. 

Stephenson started out talking about the idea of “home” or where you come from. He stumbled over his words as he tried to sum it up, and I couldn’t help but nod my head in response. How does one sum up where they come from in a meaningful way?

I have no idea. The concept of home is one I mull over quite often in my writing but don’t know if I share often.

I was struck by his words, or lack thereof, in that moment. All I really knew was that I felt a strong connection to this place. This tiny little town that we all couldn’t wait to leave, yet many of us returned to even after we spread our wings a little.

There is a force as strong as gravity that pulls us back. Maybe it’s toxic, and we are all just crazy, as one of my friends so often says. Or maybe there really is something magical about this place, something deeper than the surface that can’t quite be explained.

My heart hurt as I thought about leaving it. Hickory was the only place I wanted to come back to when I left Germany. I couldn’t imagine finding myself and rebuilding anywhere else. There was a pull to this place I couldn’t deny even though my family left years ago.

I’ve been back for a few months now, and despite the love I have for this strange place, I know it is time to go.

I rediscovered myself. I cut ties. I picked up the pieces of myself that I left here, and I claimed them as my own. I learned how to be defined by my values, strengths, weaknesses and interests rather than by my ties to another.

I cultivated friendships with people who were quick to remind me that I don’t need them. That while there is a lot of love, it isn’t a love of necessity. It is a love that is not conditional to my geographic location.

I needed to come back here to collect myself, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay.

Sophie and I are off to the next adventure in a few weeks. Packing up and moving and uprooting our lives yet again is terrifying, but it is the right thing to do. The sunshine state is calling us, and good things are coming.

I can feel it.

Happy birthday, baby goose

I guess I can’t call her “baby” goose anymore, now that she is just hours away from turning two years old.

It’s hard to believe that two years ago I was in the height of labor, waiting anxiously to meet my sweet girl.

baby
It is hard to believe she was so tiny. 

Everyone told me motherhood changes you. Everyone told me I would never be the same again, that I would never sleep again (not that I did anyways), that I would be different. While the statements were mildly annoying and definitely cliche, they rang true.

I am not who I was two years ago. Being your mother, sweet Sophie Elizabeth, has changed me in so many ways.

It has made me more stubborn. I am your mother, and I know what is best for you. God forbid anyone try to swoop in on mama bear’s territory. You are my baby, and I am your mom. No one can take that away.

It has taught me patience, sort of. I wish I remembered who told me they were so surprised to see how patient I was with you. It’s true, though. Patience has never been my strong suit. In fact, I am crowned queen of impatient land. Yet with you, all I want to do is slow time down. I want to make sure you enjoy every moment of your life you have to enjoy. I want to make sure that you don’t only get the short-tempered, fast-paced sides of me. I have my weak moments, but overall I want you to know that I am always here for you.

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How perfect is that tiny yawn?!

It has shown me what is really important in life. You, my little love, are always the priority. You come first. Over work, over friends, over potential relationships, over hobbies or anything. Sometimes that makes things difficult, the past few weeks haven’t been easy, but it is the right thing. Nothing will ever be more important to me than this little girl. Ever.

It has taught me to slow down. On hikes, in museums, even in walks across parking lots to the car, you are always finding something to look at and explore. A lot of times you are met with a frustrated, “Sophie! Move your body, we have to go!” Yet, despite my frustration, it is nice to see what you are interested in. I love when you point out the colors of all the cars and find cool rocks on our wooded paths. You have taught me to appreciate everything, no matter how small. Mostly, though, I just appreciate being able to watch you grow and explore.

It has taught me to be the best version of myself. You deserve it, little goose. You deserve the best version of me. You deserve a me who is strong and patient and self assured and independent and caring. I want you to grow up with an excellent example of a strong, capable woman. I never want you to doubt how much you can accomplish. I never want you to second guess yourself. I’m sure you will, but I never want it to be because of me. I want to know I have given you everything I have to give. Being your mother has taught me more about the woman I want to be, and I thank you for causing me to be more introspective and thoughtful with my words and actions.

Motherhood is just the craziest experience. Watching her grow the past two years has been wild. There is nothing I love more than watching her little brain work –than seeing those wheels turn in her little head as she figures out how something works.

We spent the afternoon at the art museum today, and she was just simply amazed with the art work. She would squeal and get excited about some, and others you could see didn’t captivate her in the same way.

She is becoming more and more opinionated every day. While that comes with its own frustrations, it is also so exciting to see her blossom into her own person. She is smart and strong and brave and resilient and creative and all around incredible.

The past two years have not been without their challenges but having this little girl has made everything worth it. She is truly the apple of my eye, my little side kick and my mini me. I couldn’t be prouder to be her mommy.

Happy second birthday, sweet girl. Thank you, for everything.

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It is amazing what a difference two years makes. I love you, little love. 

A battle between head and heart

My mind is a muddled mess of opportunity.

I think I’ve written that line before. In fact, I’m sure I have. It isn’t the first time in my life I’ve found myself at a crossroads, and I doubt it will be the last.

I had this idea growing up that one day I would have it all figured out. That I would grow up, build a life and suddenly know what I’m doing or where I’m going. I had a map in my head. I didn’t quite know what was on it, but I assumed it would be as simple as following it and life would work itself out.

I’ve learned that it isn’t that cut and dry. If we’re being honest, most of us don’t have it figured out. I just have a hard time accepting that I may never really know what I’m doing or where life is going to take me.

I stand here with numerous opportunities open before me. The world is my oyster, as those in favor of cliches would say.

If there is a map, it leads to too many places. There are too many times where I have to choose which way to go. Isn’t it supposed to lead me? That’s what I always thought.

What do you do when you know there a million and one ways to be happy? When you can see numerous paths to fulfillment?

I’ve always been one to follow my heart. I wear it on my sleeve (there are those cliches again). I hand it out openly, I lead with it. I love big, and because of that, I fall on my face a lot. Because of that, I tend to crash and burn more often than my more cautious peers.

Caution isn’t in my vocabulary. I throw myself into things whole-heartedly and run with it until it doesn’t feel right.

I don’t mean to be so indecisive, but is there really any other way to figure out what is right for you? If you don’t try, will you ever know? Or will you live in a constant state of what ifs and wishful thinking?

I’ve rarely regretted throwing myself out there and bearing my heart for the world to see, even when it doesn’t work out in my favor.  You can say a lot about me, but you can never say I don’t try.

My point is, how do I know when an opportunity is worth it or if it is a big waste of energy –physical and emotional?

I tend to fall in love with possibility, with the idea of what things could be. I’m a dreamer and my head is in the clouds more often than it is present here on earth. But how beautiful would it be if I somehow made all those dreams swirling around in my head a reality?

My brain is muddled. My heart wants to leap, but my brain is a mess.

I’ve become sure of who I am lately. I’m sassy and loud and indecisive. I come on far too strong, and I’m a hopeless romantic that believes love will always in in the end. I feel stronger than I ever have, but it hasn’t made me any more sure about the specifics of what I want out of life.

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All I know is I want to be happy, and I want to do right by my little girl. What that means or what happiness looks like is a mystery to me.

I don’t know why all of this stresses me out so much. I don’t know why I can’t just make a decision, choose a path, and stick to it.

Maybe because I like the idea that life is fluid and that we don’t have to be stuck with things we don’t want forever. That it is okay to decide something and realize that while it may have been the best thing at the time, it isn’t the best for forever.

Nothing is permanent, and that is both beautiful and terrifying.

Or honestly, maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to be wishy-washy. Maybe I’m just enjoying the feeling of being in complete control of where my life goes from here for the first time in my life that I’m getting power hungry.

I feel myself looking for some sort of permission. From who? I have no idea. I’m 22, it has been at least six years since I’ve listened to a thing my parents told me to do, as I’m sure they will tell you.

It is a constant battle between head and heart. Between letting fear win and letting love win.

I feel less like there is anything tying me to one specific place. Less like I need to be tied to one specific place.

I spent my whole life searching for the elusive “home,” and I’ve realized over the past few months that it is less a place and more a feeling. In a lot of ways, I’ve come to accept that part of loving so many people means that my heart will always be stretched across the globe, and there will always be parts of me that long to be elsewhere to be with them.

What is important is figuring out where I want to be.

I’ve never felt more okay feeling so rootless, feeling so much like I can do whatever I want.

If only I had any clue what that was –or how to discover it.

Maybe love only wins in the end if we have the courage to overcome our fears and let it.

Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?

A story about the time a silly question I asked to pass time on a long car ride made me question everything. 

“Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?”

I asked you this as we drove through the mountains in Greece last summer. We were going clear across the island to a beach I found on the internet that was supposed to be absolutely incredible (it was).

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Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece

We got a taste of a little bit of everything the island had to offer on that trip: the beach, the mountains the incredible canyon, the cliffs, the mountain goats and the roadside stands that were someone’s livelihood.

I remember looking closely at all the people we passed: they all seemed happy and content with their lives.

I remember feeling like I could be really happy here, too. Like maybe the Greeks had it all figured out and life isn’t about money or cars or all of the things we make important. Maybe life is about the simple things like having someone you love to share it with.

I was contemplating happiness a lot that summer. Mostly because it seemed to be an elusive presence in our lives, but also because the things that make others happy has always fascinated me. We were experiencing all of these cultures, and I wanted to take pieces of what made these people happy and apply them to my own life.

My wheels started turning, and I asked the question as it floated through my mind.

“Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?”

You thought for a second before answering with words that shattered the very basis of what I thought our relationship was.

“I could be happy that way if I didn’t have you and Sophie.”

I felt like I’d just been punched in the gut and hit in the chest all at the same time. I’d never felt more like a liability, more like someone you just needed to take care of rather than someone you really wanted to share a life with.

I wasn’t suggesting we pack up and move, but the fact that you didn’t think you could be happy with me there hurt any way.

I asked you what if it was what I really wanted? What if it was my ideal life?

You still said no, that you had to do more –to do better. That it simply wouldn’t be enough.

Tears welled up in my eyes, but I just said okay.

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I could’ve stayed here forever. 

You were rarely honest with me when I asked things like this so even though the answer I got wasn’t the one I wanted, I was happy you told me your truth.

I always knew we were different, that we often spoke different love languages and that we challenged each other. In this moment, though, my heart broke a little bit as I realized that we didn’t value the same things.

All I want out of a relationship is someone who will love me for me, not because of what I will offer them or what I can do for them. I want someone who will be happy with me no matter where we are or what our life circumstance is.

I want love, real, raw, true love. The kind of love that isn’t necessarily easy. I don’t want my partner to be naive to my flaws, but rather to love me so completely that they love them, too.

More than anything, I never want someone to feel like they need to take care of me. I never want them to feel like they can’t take risks because of me.

I cannot speak for you now, it would be unfair, but in that moment, it felt as though you cared more about fulfilling your role as a provider than you did about me and my hopes and dreams.

You thought I needed a fancy house and nice things and the world handed to me on a silver platter, but all I wanted was for you to want me, no matter what.

It’s been months since we had that conversation, the one where you told me you would feel like you failed if you didn’t give me the life that looks good on paper, but I still can’t shake it.

You didn’t want to live in a dirt house with me.

I wasn’t enough to be all you needed, and that hurt my heart more than any of the other things that led to our eventually downfall.

Or maybe it wasn’t that you needed more. Maybe it was that I made you feel like I did. I didn’t, though, for what it’s worth. Probably nothing, at this point, but my love for you was never based on what you could or could not give me.

Maybe I’m naive. If anything, I am certainly a hopeless romantic, but I’d like to believe a love like that exists. A love where nothing matters but two people loving each other deeply and openly regardless of what their life looks like.

I don’t need someone to give me anything but themselves. I don’t need money or a protector or a provider. I need love. We all need love.

I’ll wait for it.