I Don’t Want To Lose What Was, But I’m Not Willing To Stay Stagnant

Tonight I’m in my own head. I think this is natural in moments of transition—we start to question because we’re walking in uncharted territory, because we’re afraid, because everything is unfamiliar so the little voice in the back of our minds becomes louder.

We scroll through social media, look back at old photographs and memories, try to figure out where we are now in comparison. We remember people and places we should have tucked away long ago. We sit and wonder what could have been.

And this hurts. Oh, it hurts. It hurts to picture the trajectory of our lives suddenly changed, to imagine ourselves in someone else’s arms, to realize that each and every moment we move forward, we’re slipping farther and farther away from what was.

This is what happens as we grow; we leave little pieces behind.

And that’s where I am tonight, sifting through old images wondering whether things will ever be the same, reminiscing on the relationships I built, on the people I worked with, on the life I had before—and wasn’t it a beautiful one?

Yet, change was calling me, is calling me still. As much as I loved where I was, I had to move forward. Don’t we all at some point? Isn’t this our purpose—to move, to grow, to shift, to change, to discover what and who we are?

I’m struck, tonight, by the paralyzing fear of the unknown, by the nervousness of stepping forward into a new place with new people, no longer tied to everything that’s always been mine. I’m scared of losing the ones I loved, the opportunities I had, the ways life made sense.

But just as equally as I’m scared, I know I cannot be held back.

I know that this is my time to explore and be free and I cannot stay stagnant, stay rooted to one place. There are memories that will forever pull at my heart; there are people and moments I will forever look back on and smile. But I simply cannot stay. I must grow. I must grow. I must grow.

Nights like these, we decide what we want for our lives: Do we wish to stay in the same place, clinging desperately to things that have forever been the same? Or do we want to release and step forward in faith, to take on whatever comes, even when it’s unknown?

My heart aches looking at old pictures, reading old captions, seeing people I cared about living their lives. I feel foreign, like I’m looking through a stranger’s eyes at what used to be mine. It pains me to know that with every day, I am further and further away from that old life, that old version of me.

Yet the draw of the future calls me, welcomes me with open arms. As much as I long to stay comfortable, my desire to grow far exceeds anything else.

No, I don’t want to let go, to leave my past to collect dust behind me, to lose what I had. But I am not willing to stay, to be still, to wonder but never step, to hope but never go.

If it is a life of comfort I trade for a life in the unknown—I will choose the unknown.

Being Positive Does Not Mean Ignoring Your Pain

There is a difference between being positive and masking your pain, a difference between ‘putting on a good face’ and genuinely letting your soul dance, even in the worst of circumstances. There is a difference between hiding your emotions and setting them free, between pretending and allowing yourself to feel.

And I am here to tell you that being a person who shines with joy does not mean you have to walk around with a smile plastered to your face. It does not mean that life always goes your way. It does not mean that you’re a ‘better Christian,’ ‘stronger person,’ or that your life is ‘simpler’ in comparison to the person standing next to you. It does not mean that you don’t feel pain, or that it’s easier for you to let things go.

I am here to tell you that everyone will break, and bleed, and ache, and hurt. And being a positive person does not mean you don’t experience or feel those things. It just means you choose to continue, to find beauty and hope, to believe you will survive, and then, as a result, begin to heal in the best way you can. Continue reading

On Leaving The Past Behind

The summer after I stopped playing softball, the earth felt different. It was a lazy June afternoon and I recognized this feeling halfway through my run. I was headed along Hanson drive, the road that twisted around the sports complex where the gravel crunched dry and gritty beneath my feet. Since the end of my season I hadn’t wandered down this way, purposely avoiding the path to the practice area where I spent most of my days playing victim to a bat and a ball.

I held my breath as I turned the corner, the athletic center looming in the distance and coming into view with every stride. I thought, as I passed, I would ache for the familiar, for the sound of metal cleats on concrete, the thud of a composite bat against a ball. I thought I would yearn for the smell of dirt on my palms, or the wild beat of my heart as I stepped forward onto that pitching mound.

I thought that in passing I would be reminded of the woman I used to be.

But to my surprise I felt nothing. A hollow absence—not the desperation to go back, to rewind and bring myself to the sun beaming down on my forehead and the sweat dripping from my brow; not the desire to open those double doors and step onto that turf again; not the longing to get away and never look back. Nothing.

Nothing but a deep breath of peace, the acknowledgement of something left behind. Continue reading

Let It Be, Let It Go

Like the wind chimes dance in the breeze, like the birds sway gently between the afternoon clouds, like the leaves fall and the sun rises—there is an ebb and flow, a shift and change to this life. Sometimes we fit naturally into the pattern of what is happening around us. Sometimes we laugh and the world smiles right along with. Sometimes we close our eyes and the earth hums to our melody. And sometimes what happens is unlike anything we ever imagined or planned—and that is both beautiful and frightening.

But there is a rhythm, a natural order to things. There is a sense of peace that we find when we let the universe speak the answers to us, instead of trying to hear our voices first and foremost in our minds. There is a purpose, a plan that we discover when we stop trying to desperately to seek.

But instead to stay, to lean in, to let it be, let it go. Continue reading

Maybe You Learn How To Live When Stop Trying To Figure Everything Out

Sometimes the most refreshing moments are the ones where you stop trying to have all the answers, stop trying to predict the future, stop trying to navigate the places you haven’t yet reached and just exist right where you are. Continue reading

Let It All Go

What is on your heart right now? Is it frustration that a dream didn’t, or hasn’t panned out? Is it the fact that you’re still single, still searching for someone whose heart aligns with yours? Is it the purposelessness you feel within you as you stumble through your days? Is it the fact that it seems like everyone else around you is figuring themselves out and there you are, just floating?

Sometimes we’re so damn hard on ourselves.

This can be a good thing, don’t get me wrong. When we’re our own critics, we push ourselves to greater heights. We stop settling for less. We motivate, and challenge, and change. But then sometimes we go to the extremes, too. We never take time to pat ourselves on the back, to appreciate who we are or where we’ve been. We’re just so damn focused on all the ways we’re still falling short. And we obsess until we feel as if we’re inadequate, unworthy.

Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and let it all go. Continue reading

Learning To Accept Life’s Curveballs

Five years ago, I never thought I’d be here. I never thought I’d be living by myself across the country, that I’d have published a poetry collection and be working on releasing a Christian book, that I’d be in a relationship with someone living 2,500 miles away, or that I’d be this happy. I never imagined that I’d lose one of my best friends, that my heart would be so broken, that I’d watch one of my biggest role models head to heaven, that I’d be so frustrated with myself at times.

I never imagined my little world would be as messy, as confusing, as up-and-down, as beautiful as it is right now.

But even though life’s switched, moved, shifted, changed, and spun me in circles, even though everything that’s happened has been completely out of my plan—I wouldn’t change a single thing.

When I was in high school, I thought I’d marry my high school sweetheart. God had other ideas. Now I’ve watched our relationship become a friendship, one of the most valued ones in my life, to this day. When I was in college, I thought I wanted to settle down. Little did I know one of the most painful heartbreaks, and an unexpected job opportunity would push me into becoming the absolute best version of myself in a few years’ time.

I had so many plans. I wanted life to look a certain way, I wanted to be with certain people, wanted to chase certain dreams. I thought I had it all figured out: the goals, the future, the way things would look down the road.

But life threw me curveballs. And I had to learn to change my approach, my stance, my position, and go to bat again.

And I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful for the way certain things have fallen apart to teach me how to push forward, even when others doubted I could. I’m thankful for the jobs I’ve worked hard for, even if and when that meant saying ‘no’ to other opportunities I wanted at the time. I’m thankful for the times I was let down, bruised, or shattered by people I loved, by change, by loss—because each of these painful moments have shaped my character, my resilience, my strength.

Life hasn’t gone the way I planned, but honestly, this is the biggest blessing of all.

Because sometimes unanswered prayers lead to better opportunities. Sometimes closed doors force you to turn around and see the open ones. Sometimes you have to strike out before you hit the damn ball.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s not about the home runs, the grand slams, even the simple contact of ball and bat—it’s about getting up there, readying yourself, and looking for the next pitch.

Unbound

I’m sitting in my favorite seat of the coffee shop, listening to cars pass by, listening to the voices floating from customers around me, listening to the construction across the street and the hum and flurry of activity around me. There are so many people. People who are content. People who are fighting illnesses, or disease, or injury. People who are heartbroken, or overflowing with love, or trying to find their way, or learning to let go. There are people like me, trying to breathe and slow down and remember that everything will turn around. That we won’t always be stuck. Continue reading

I’m Trying To Figure Out Where ‘Home’ Is

I watch the sun set over the grey clouds on the horizon. From the airplane, it’s almost surreal—earth and sky one blur of color—grey, gold, pink, blue, a hint of yellow-brown. Lately, I’ve been on airplanes probably more than I should, traveling back and forth from the town I grew up in, the place my sister lives, the city I went to college, and where I live now.

Sometimes I feel like I’m always in motion, spreading myself between people and places I love. Trying, so desperately, to understand the connections I have between each location and my heart, between the person I am in each city, each town, and each relationship I’ve kept and left behind.

It’s been a year since I’ve left the Midwest—what has always been my home. It’s been a year since I gathered my life and loaded it into a uhaul truck, hitched my little car to the trailer, and watched the city where I grew up fade in the rearview mirror.

It’s been a year since I said my goodbyes, since I walked down the gravel paths in my college town, since I hugged one of my best friends, since I unpacked my entire existence in a town two thousand miles from what I used to call home.

Displacement.That’s what I call it: the feeling of not really knowing where you fit. When you’re tied to a place you’ve always known but suddenly feel more comfortable somewhere new. When you’re connected to more than one location, considering both of them where you belong.

It’s always strange when I board a plane, when I feel the mechanical body lift underneath my own, when I watch the houses and cars and boats and people suddenly become specks, when I get that giddy feeling of heading somewhere I used to belong.

Used to belong. Continue reading