Ride the Wave

So, I’m sitting in the computer lab of my apartment complex typing this because I haven’t had internet for five days. (If I did, I’d hope that I’d have been back on the bandwagon of making regular posts.) Conveniently enough the computer lab is right next to the gym, so that all worked out. And I just happened to make a new friend. Well, anytime I have a connecting conversation with a stranger I tend to use the phrase “made a new friend.” But either way, positivity spread. It’s kind of rejuvenating sitting at a desk space being productive, though. And I brought goldfish, which probably the weird orb security camera above me disapproves of, but that just means Century Link should go ahead and fix my internet!

Today has been a day of days. This week marks a little more than a year since I’ve worked at my current job, which is crazy if you think about the past year. So much has changed, so much has happened in such a short span of time. How have all these months been so filled with friends and family and adventure? New experiences, repeats of favorite old experiences, memories, losses, growth. Change is inevitable, and most of the time it’s out of our control. Lately I’ve been reminding myself that because so many things are beyond my grasp of control. So the things that I can affect I just have to be very intentional about. In the meantime, I’m trying to remember to flow with the wave of life right now.

(Sunset on the way back from Mexico Beach last week.)

In other news my days have been filled with parks, happy hours, good phone conversations, family time, friend time, sunsets of cotton candy colored skies, walks and walks, puppies. Lots of puppy play times! Today a friend a few stores over brought over surprise egg rolls and fortune cookies. Last night I went and saw “Boyhood” and went to sushi with two of my cousins. Saturday my brother and I fiiiinally got to have a sibling dinner at Burrito Border, which hadn’t happened in quite sometime. While I was doing my cool down on the bike at the gym, Shelby and I reminisced over my time as house manager and VP in our sorority house. (And how somehow that turned into me being the person in charge of the internet, even after I graduated?) It’s funny to look back on all of those times now, and impossible not to laugh at the absurdity of being awoken in the middle of the night because someone wanted me to kill a bug in their room, or the buffet was leaking downstairs, or a girl locked herself out of her room and wanted me to call a locksmith. I’d like to think all these crazy circumstances were prep for something in this life, and I think they very well were.

(Meet Chief, one of my favorite puppies on the planet.)

Expect the unexpected. Life is full of surprises. Sometimes, beautiful ones. 

(Like these flowers waiting on my doorstep two weeks ago.)

 

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Ohh oh we’re halfway there…

Well, look at that? How many times have I sat in a room, somewhere in this state thinking about the future? I mean, there’s only so much thinking you can do. Only so much preparation. At some point, it just comes. The future arrives and you’re in it. Right in the middle of it, whether you’re ready for it or not. So, I’m just going to remember how all those other times I didn’t really have much of an idea what was ahead of me then either. The summer when I got that envelope in the mail in Inverness, telling me about who my roommate would be in the all girls dorm at FSU. Freshman year trying to figure out housing for the next year, thinking maybe I’d live in New Hall with my big sister? And then getting a spot in the sorority house and matched with a girl who I wasn’t very close with at the time. Look where that brought me? Two years of an awesome roommate, a lifelong sister and friend. Summer after sophomore year having one of the most amazing experiences of my life studying abroad in London. Living in a “flat” with one of the most amazing girls I know, who would have known then that little lady would be the one to inspire me to run years later? Junior year, after a trying time, and trying to figure out an internship for summer and all kinds of other weird stuff you try to pretend you’re planning going into senior year of college – and then look! I wound up in the senior annex living with another sister would become one of my greatest friends. That whole house brought me all these friendships I might not have stumbled upon otherwise. Friendships that would last years later. A lifetime later. And then when I left Tallahassee and came back, there Camille was again to offer me a place to stay. Then I found Alex and who’d have thought answering a random Craigslist ad would bring me to the position that it did? Another “lifer” friend, an amazing housemate, and it’s been a good run. I don’t know what’s next. I have no idea. But one way or another it’ll work out, and probably, most likely, I think I’d even bet on it that whatever’s next…it’ll be more amazing than the slightly in the back of my head kind of panicky me could imagine. I just have to get there. And I will. Because pretty soon there won’t be a choice, it’ll just…be. But until then! Onwards and upwards right?

Change, Change, Change

Life can change so quickly. We, as humans are more adaptable than it seems sometimes, or maybe more than we can remember when we’re feeling like we’re not. I did one thing for so long, and the parts of it I liked, I really liked. But you know that whole, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly but expect different results? That’s where I was in life for quite a while. I have all these complexes – loyalty, responsibility, ethics but you can’t expect things to change when they keep on showing you they’ll stay the same. And when things don’t change, it’s just like that South song “if we don’t make it, nothing changes.” It’s true. It’s the truth. So sometimes we have to figure out how to make some changes, whether they’re temporary or permanent or circumstantial and it’s hazy how long they’ll be around for – they can be pretty necessary. Just one step to tip the scales. So all of this is how I wound up working at a friends store about two months ago, and finding out I really, really like it. It’s shown me things I’m capable of that I probably wouldn’t have envisioned if you asked me two months ago. There are so many things about me, as a person, that don’t change regardless of the situation you put me in. Like group projects – I passionately hate group projects, but I’m always going to want to put in as much work as I can before it’s done. If an area is lacking, even if it drives me crazy, I’m going to want to do what I can to balance it out. And even if I hate group projects, I’m a walking contradiction because I love team work. I love a clean operating partnered effort. The thing is, I know it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people right now, but that’s not important. For right now, it makes sense to me and that’s enough.

Why Not?

I stared down at the phone in my hand, and I couldn’t help but smile as I scanned across the names that appeared in all of my recent messages. The majority of these people came into my life within the past few months, and the ones who didn’t – they’ve been in it for the long haul. I smiled because the phone in my hand, wasn’t the same phone that was in my hand the last time I got on an airplane a month before. I smiled because if you think about it, flying is weird. We trust one human being to direct this gigantic piece of machinery soaring through the SKY. Moving a katrillion miles high in the air, like birds, except we’re not birds. We carry tons of junk with us everywhere we go. Our hair is loaded with hairspray and gel and the jewelry some of us have on probably weighs more than your common bird. It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? We walk across this carpeted tacky hallway, and we step on, and we secure those flimsy seat belts, and we take a peak out of the corner of our eyes at this stranger sitting next to us. What a strangely intimate experience an airplane ride is – when else are you going to see a stranger sleep? Notice all their little weird habits, sometimes mirroring our own. (More often than not – not, because doesn’t it always seem our seat assignments are paired by opposites?) I watch the feet that glide down the aisle, strong calves and neon sneakers and I ache to be running. And I think about those new friends, the ones I met from running, the ones who I’ve only shared conversations with in the middle of the woods, ducking beneath branches, sweating in the Florida springtime humidity, or through the winding sprinkler soaked neighborhood roads. I think of the new friends I’ve met in hotel lobbies, or in a dark concert venue waiting for a show to begin. I think about how it only takes the initial strike up of a conversation and the world opens up ten fold. I think about the endless possibilities, how there are dozens of millions of people on this planet who I will never have the pleasure of meeting, never have a chance encounter with – but there are so many that I will. And what stops us from hearing the stories of those around us? From sharing a few words, a deep laugh, a sincere smile, making some new memory? Why doesn’t everyone do that more often? I’m compelled to not live any other way now because I just can’t stand it. That person that you just passed up, who’s been sitting across from you in the terminal for three hours charging their phone, sipping a coffee, and taking long glances at each person walking by, or the one at the other end of the row who sparked your attention as they leaned over a notebook in their lap diligently scrawling notes across the pages – how do you know that person isn’t your new best friend? Your lover? A musical soul mate you just haven’t met yet? You don’t. We never do and that’s the beautiful surprise of life. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as being too friendly, maybe? I’m not sure. But with all the different new bonds you could be making at any given moment, why not? Why not?

Probably Why I Feel Tired

It doesn’t seem to matter what phase of life we’re in, middle school, high school, college, post-college – things don’t change that much. (I would say people are the same, but I know deep down we’re really not or that would be so boring!) By this I mean, I don’t think it matters how simple something starts off as –  people always seem to be looking for more. If something begins on a kind of platonic level, I always find that the simplistic, basic, normal level of things doesn’t seem to last long. Maybe I give off some kind of vibe I am unaware of, but this is has happened my whole life. (Until you know you meet a person that you want to have a non-platonic relationship with, and they don’t see it the same way. So it goes, right?) But really. I mean, why can’t a straight guy and a straight girl just be friends without some kind of underlying expectation? I for one, have always operated using The Butterfly Test. Sure I’ll hang out with someone with an open mind, but if I don’t feel it, if it’s not there it’s the truth when I say I’m not going to miraculously develop feelings for you later.

Maybe I need to just start posting Craig’s List Missed Connection ads. Would it be totally creepy to write something like “Hey! Bearded guy running down Thomasville Road on Tuesday around 630pm in front of the bike shop. I liked your pace, wanna run sometime?” Yeahhh, and that’s probably how you meet the serial killers…

I’m driving home from work, rambling to the ever-faithful listener, my mom about how maybe I just don’t like anyone? (Not like as a human being, but in a romantic context.) Then I see someone running down the street and blurt out how they’re pretty cute. And of course, this is better than just some stranger you see in a parking lot somewhere because I can already deduct that we have running in common. Then about .7 seconds later I see my ex-boyfriend pulling out of a local park. Surprise! That seems very typical of life, and the weirdness of the way things happen.

All of my dreams this week seemed to revolve around weddings in one way or another, which is completely strange. Sure I have two to attend coming up (one at the end of May, one at the end of June,) but really? Why so on the brain? Earlier in the week I dreamed that I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding for the second time. I didn’t know the groom. It was a chaotic ordeal. I felt really uneasy about the whole thing. Then I was talking to a friend about her own wedding in the dream, that I was in, which didn’t happen in real life. (You know like your subconscious creates fake memories?) Then last night I dreamt that I was wandering around in my compression socks (they’re obnoxiously hot pink and bright) and I wasn’t even running which was so weird, and I was apparently looking for a wedding date? I got set-up with one of my male friends who is gay, at the same time as I got set-up with a stranger. It was just, weird. Completely weird. I woke up kind of disoriented.

It all makes it sound like I really have relationships on my mind, but honestly I don’t. You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Friendship. I have some incredible friends in my life, but they are scattered everywhere. Literally. So, I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. (I’m working on this because money is just money, and who ever knows how much time they have? And I don’t want to be sitting here saying “I wish we could’ve hung out just one more time.” Though don’t we always wish that when the inevitable happens?) But really time goes by and as we get older some of my friends are settling down into a different life. Getting married, having babies, real jobs that mean you can’t just take off days and days of work for some exotic spontaneous trip…And it makes me ache a little because although in some people’s worlds it doesn’t seem to work like this, in mine it has – it feels like as these life changes happen, new boundaries are drawn, and I feel confined to small little boxes in each relationship. And I get it. There’s an appropriateness to things, certain parts of life have to change because we aren’t who we used to be when these changes come. And most of my friendships have always had this weird dynamic, a certain energy that buzzes in the air, that’s heavy with an intimacy not of the physical type, but in the connection – the depth of the heart. And I know these can’t carry on when others are added to the equation.

But lately, I just miss what it’s like to pile in a car and drive around, adventuring. I miss cramming on a couch having movie nights, (or Olympic nights, or Degrassi nights haha.) I miss sprawling across beds staring at the ceiling, talking about life. The future a fuzzy cloud of uncertainty in front of us, imagining the possibility. I miss sitting on kitchen floors with my feet tucked under me, giggling at everything and nothing. Feeling like in that moment, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I miss going on walks in the still of the night, only the light of the stars shining down, and the things that only go spoken in the safety of the dark. I miss making pancakes at random times of the day. I miss the way that music sounds different when you’re listening to it with someone else, as it fills the space between you in a room.

There are certain people who just know me like no one else. The silence is comfortable. The laughs are the deep kind that make your stomach hurt. Lately those relationships just feel far away, and like they’re slipping through my fingers. I know the tone changed here, but the thing is I’m not really looking for what people probably think I am. It’s not about boyfriends or romance. It’s that sense of companionship, a partner, sharing experiences with people who get it. This is the stuff I’m carrying around all day. It makes me smile because I’d have to know the happiness of such moments, to miss them but it gives me heavy boots to feel the weight of it, too.

Spend Less, Give More: To Write Love On Her Arms

If you’re just now tuning in, I’m doing a “Spend Less, Give More” series. I’ve spotlighted several awesome organizations so far: Charity:Water, Heifer International, and TOMs. In the spirit of giving this holiday season, I’m encouraging you guys to not waste money on junk, but instead contribute to something with a purpose, somewhere that will improve someone’s life! So far, these organizations have centered around assisting basic physical needs in life (that obviously have chain reaction effects to everything else – education, opportunity…) but today I would like to share with you guys To Write Love On Her Arms. This is a different one because it’s about the inside – suicide prevention, mental health help, recognizing emotional issues.

(Image via TWLOHA Facebook.)

To Write Love On Her Arms mission is simple: “a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.”

The TWLOHA story started back in the spring of 2006, (founded by Jamie Tworkowski)  when a group of friends joined together to help Renee, a 19 year old girl suffering from depression, a drug addiction, she was a cutter…a treatment center refused her, so a group rallied around her and provided her with a support system for days. Just loving her, praying with her, taking her to events, coffee runs, cigarette breaks, just being there for her before she entered a rehab program. The group started selling t-shirts to fund-raise for Renee’s treatment, and with those t-shirts a movement was sparked. The team soon realized that there were literally thousands of people all over the world, who had questions, who needed someone to talk to, who could benefit from the message of hope and encouragement – people need to know they are not alone.

 

Did you know that more than “350 million people around the world, suffer from depression?” (Find out the FACTS.) It’s sad because depression is almost like a taboo topic in our society. It’s deemed normal to talk about our feelings in the face of tragedy, but what about the rest of the time? There seems to be a stigma surrounding depression. It’s a shame because not talking about it, is part of what makes people think they’re alone in what they feel. We all have questions. We each have a story. Your story matters. You are important. You are loved. You are worthy. God has a purpose for your life, and you are not meant to walk alone. That it gets better, that there is possibility, that things can change…

“The vision is better endings.  The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships.  The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love.  The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.  The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.  

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.  

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.  

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.” – TWLOHA, vision

To Write Love On Her Arms is meant to serve as a “bridge to help.” You’re encouraged, if you or a friend needs to talk to someone – call a helpline or seek treatment.

If you’re not familiar with To Write Love On Her Arms, I encourage you to go check out their website, read the blog. If a TWLOHA event is coming through your area – go. The Heavy and Light tour kicks off in January! There are a lot of ways you can contribute to the TWLOHA movement. You can make a donation here. There’s a huge assortment of merchandise in the TWLOHA store, everything from the original t-shirts, to hoodies, stickers, even iPhone cases. Like other items featured in the previous posts, something as simple as a t-shirt can be a great conversation starter, and a wonderful way to spread the word. Is TWLOHA an important cause to you? you could even Join the street team!

 

 

If this is you, don’t be ashamed to seek help, don’t give up, and please don’t feel like you’re alone in your struggle, don’t be afraid to reach out. If you think you have a friend going through some of these problems, support them, love them, encourage them, make sure they know how much they matter to you, help them find help. Life is a heck of a lot better when we support each other.

Weekend Musings

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“More than anything, I want to see you go
Take a glorious bite out of the whole world”

I was running and Snow Patrol’s “You Could Be Happy” came through my headphones. I was tempted to skip the song because it’s not very upbeat for a run and it used to have a tendency to make me cry. Instead, I just listened as I tuned out the pitter patter of my feet on the pavement. I’d stayed in bed longer than most Saturday mornings, constantly checking The Weather Channel app on my phone, waiting for the sun to come out of hiding and make the temperature rise to a degree I could convince myself was a bit more bearable. Because of all that I was able to see the sunlight shining through what we have to show for fall foliage in Tallahassee. Tall trees, wide limbs that stretch out to cross the street like arms extending hands to shake hello, fill my line of vision. Sunlight trickled through the leaves, lighting them aglow with yellows and orange if you look close enough. All of this gave me just enough to think about to distract from the time on the clock. I always thought that line was, “more than anything I want to see you grow.” Funny that it’s not, because it’s always had a weight of meaning to it while I’ve listened. For years I’ve had a few people in mind when I hear that song. Maybe not anyone who actually walked away from me, but people who ties have been severed, (or at the last seriously frayed.) I’ve thought about their potential for life, their ability with a magnetic personality to light up a room, the kinds of smiles that stop strangers in their tracks, and the happiness you want someone else to find going out on a limb and finding the most out of what life has to offer. I guess this whole time, (kind of like a Taylor Swift song) I’ve been singing a long with these people in mind. But this time, it occurred to me…maybe, I’m singing to myself? These songs aren’t about these other people anymore. While I still want them to be happy, I want myself to take a bite out of the world. I want to venture out and reach this unknown potential. At least attempt to do so. See what happens in the process. It’s always the journey that creates the memorable experience anyway. The getting there, and not where you get. My brother was in New Orleans this weekend. I’ll tell you, I may have been a little bit envious because my wanderlust bug has been on high alert lately. I want to feel the miles on the map between where I am now, and somewhere else. By plane, by car, just that freeing feeling of adventure (and maybe a little bit of escape.) But even more I’d like to create a situation, where I don’t feel a constant need for that, not the perpetual nagging from the inside begging for a little escape. And all that seems attainable, I just have to figure out what changes to make. In the mean time it’s a step that I’m serenading myself for a change, and maybe I should recognize my own potential before it dries up and disappears.