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?

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.

2015 Year in Review

I told myself I wasn’t going to do one of these this year. “No one cares,” I thought to myself. “Everyone already saw you obsessively social media most of this,” I said.

Then I realized that I care, and I’m working on realizing that doing something because it makes me happy is a good enough reason. With all of the transition our family has been in, I’ve been feeling a bit like my life is on hold. It’s hard to set longer term goals when things are constantly changing and evolving. That’s the nature of Army life, but it will be really nice to be settled in our own home and our own space in Germany in the spring. It’s hard to roll with the punches and work toward anything for myself so this reflection has helped me realize how much I’ve accomplished, despite feeling completely uprooted.

Here are my favorite moments from this year:

  • Having Sophie: This obviously tops the list. Bringing our perfect, healthy little girl into the world last January was easily the highlight of the year. I was lucky to have such a (relatively) easy pregnancy and birth, and a really calm, easy going baby. She has brought so much joy to my life this year, and as much as she has challenged me and changed me, I know she’s made me better. I’ve learned so much about myself through being a mother, and she just ignites the fire under me to work toward my own goals to be the best mom I can be for her. She teaches me new things every day, and I love getting the chance to see the world through her eyes.
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My year was made at 12:02 a.m. on January 21 with the birth of my little love, Sophie Elizabeth.

Her birth also showed me that I have some of the greatest friends ever. Eden, Patrick and Emma sat in the hospital with me all 15 hours of labor so they could meet Sophie as soon as she was born. They even went on a 2 a.m. cook out run to get me a cheeseburger and an oreo milkshake once I was allowed to eat. You guys are the best.

  • Graduating UNC Charlotte, Chris’s commissioning: When I found out I was pregnant in June 2014, I heard a lot of “well how do you expect to finish your degree with a baby?” I didn’t have an answer, all I knew was that it was going to happen. In May, it did! Hooray! I graduated in a record three years with my English degree all while maintaining a job and raising Sophie. It still doesn’t feel real, but it happened and was probably my proudest moment of this year. I spent a lot of tearful nights up with a fussy Sophie trying to finish assignments. It was really hard to prioritize school when all I wanted to do was snuggle her, but I got it done, and I’m so glad that I did.
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I’m lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family who helped us celebrate a wonderful weekend!

Chris commissioned as a 2LT this spring as well, and I could not be more proud of him! It’s crazy that everything he wished for and worked for came true, and while the transition into Army life hasn’t been the easiest for me, it’s been wonderful, and I’m so happy with where our lives are going.

  • Working at camp: As messy, stressful and crazy as my job was, I loved it. I am so glad I decided to go back to work after having Sophie. Even though we’ve moved, and I had to quit, I think going back was a great thing for me. Transitioning to a stay at home these past few months has been difficult so I’m glad I took the opportunity to work while I had it. I love staying home with Sophie, and I’m so lucky to get this opportunity to be home with her, but it’s kind of strange not working or going to school.
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Dobby misses causing shenanigans at camp.

Even though it’s been three months since I left camp, I still occasionally have a stress dream about it and wake up around 6 a.m. petrified that I’m late for work. What’s that they say, old habits die hard?

  • Traveling: Looking back on it, we went so many places this year! Little Sophie is quite the adventurer already. We went to Charleston in April which I was really happy about because I’ve been asking Chris to go for years. We went to the beach a few times and down to Florida for my brother’s high school graduation. Once we moved to Virginia, we were able to go to D.C. a few times which was wonderful, it’s one of my favorite places! We also spent a lot of time in the mountains this summer going for hikes. I really fell in love with hiking once I wasn’t pregnant, and I could safely do it again. I think it really showed me how strong I am. Let me tell you, it’s no freaking joke climbing a mountain with a baby strapped to you and a dog who has to smell all the things. I think it is the main reason I lost 22 pounds this year! (Hooray!!)
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This was one of my favorite hikes we went on in Boone this summer!

With all the places we managed to get to this past year despite our crazy schedules, I’m so excited to see where all we get to go once we move to Europe!

  • Sophie’s first holiday season: I love the holidays, like a lot. You know what’s better than being a kid for the holidays? Having a kid for the holidays. I loved watching her eyes light up as Christmas decorations went up in stores. I loved watching her investigate Christmas lights. Even watching her try to lick the glitter off our Christmas ornaments was entertaining. It really brought the magic back for me.
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Watching her enjoy her first Christmas was the best.

We spent Christmas with my grandparents up in Brevard, and it was just lovely. Sophie had a blast opening all of her presents, even if she was a bit overwhelmed. She’s still too young to really understand, but we still enjoyed it, even if the boxes were more interesting to her than her gifts.

Looking back, this has been a crazy busy but wonderful year. So much has changed now that our lives aren’t marked by semesters or school calendars or classes. We’ve moved into the “adult” world, the Army world. It’s like everything has been flipped upside down in the most incredible way. I struggled a lot this year. The transitions weren’t always easy on me, and I spent a lot of time this year trying to stop time in its tracks and keep it the same for as long as possible.

There’s no “new year, new me” happening this year. I’m still me. I still have the same goals, the same desires. I’m taking everything I went through this year as a learning experience. This year I want to roll with the punches a little bit more instead of letting them knock me down. I want to be more open to the changes coming instead of being nervous or afraid of them. I want to try to seize more control and take more action toward what I can and be less upset about what I can’t.

This coming year will be full of even more changes, but I’m ready. Bring it, 2016.

 

Intentions

My birthday was last week, and with that came a new year of life. A new year to accomplish new things, set new goals –to make 21 a year I will always remember. I at least want to feel as though I worked further toward bettering myself and reaching my goals this year, even if I’m not quite certain what my goals are at this point in my life. I might as well work toward becoming a better person so when it does come time for me to dedicate myself to whatever passion I discover, I can dedicate my best self to it.

I spent some time doing a yoga practice and meditation before I discovered what my word for this year is going to be. Chris got me a book called Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates for my birthday. You read through it a day at a time and it gives you some guidance for your home practice –it sets an intention. What is life without intention? I’m struggling with that right now as I am transitioning into being a stay at home mom when I previously thought I would be well on my way to a writing career by now. I have since realized that writing may not be exactly what I want to do with my life, at least not solely, but I’m not certain what I do want to do.

I love practicing with blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters. It allows for deeper access into poses without putting too much pressure on the body.
I love practicing with blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters. It allows for deeper access into poses without putting too much pressure on the body.

For now, I’m working on being happy with where I am and enjoying all of this time I get to spend with my daughter. I know that I will cherish these memories one day. I sat in a meditation and thought a lot about what kind of person I want to be. I thought a lot of love. I thought how I want to be much more positive in everything that I do. There are a lot of changes coming up in the next year: this current transition then moving to Germany in February. While I want to see the good in everything, love didn’t seem like the word for the year. It didn’t feel like the quality I needed to work on the most.

Gratitude crossed my mind because I know that there is a lot that I take for granted most of the time. Still, that didn’t feel right. Then I was sitting there working on visualizing what I want in this life, and it came to me: bliss. Not bliss as in everything is wonderful all the time, but bliss as in finding the good in everything. There are a lot of things that aren’t going to be quite so blissful that come up this year (and every year of life). I’m not going to like living in a hotel all the time. I’m not going to like waiting on housing to give us a house once we get to Germany. I’m not going to enjoy all the parts of figuring out life in another country. Some days I’m going to wish I still had a job instead of being a stay at home mom. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t wonderful parts of all of that. Hotels are easier to clean, and you have a housekeeping service. Waiting for a house may lead to the best possible one. Living in another country is an amazing opportunity many people save for years to be able to have –my move is paid for. Being a stay at home mom means I get to be here for all of the little moments with my girl. She’s learning to count on me and will grow up knowing I’ll always be here, something that is so important to me as a mother.

There are wonderful parts of everything, even when at the moment you look around you and think, “this really sucks.” It might suck. It might be bad. But I’m challenging myself to look for all of the blissful parts that come. It won’t always be easy, but I think it will be worth it.

After I decided this, I came across this quote: “Bliss is not a feeling, but a state of being. In a state of bliss, everything is loved.” –Deepak Chopra

That’s exactly what I was thinking when the word came to me. That there are things to love in all things.

Having this intention helps, I think. Not just this intention, but any intention. Even on days like today, where we are stuck inside this room because the roads might be flooded from all of this ridiculous rain, I have something to work on, to work toward. What will bring us bliss? We may not get to go exploring and adventuring like we love to do most days, but we can snuggle and read stories and do yoga together. We can find bliss in the storm.

xoxo