7:45 PM

Sometimes you need to disappear for a while. When I was 18 years old, I wrote a poem about moving away and disappearing into a new life. Then I moved away and disappeared from the things that I hated about myself. Unfortunately the process of disappearing, while it has its benefits, also creates a void where your old self once stood. I forgot, or was forgotten, by friends and places I loved. For me, it wasn't perfect or ideal, but it was necessary: the result of a trauma. I needed some thing unfamiliar, because the familiar was either stale or heartbreaking. So I started over, completely. The things I loved had to be sacrificed to make room for the things I so desperately needed. 
Before college, I was hiding, shrinking from the person I wanted to be. During college, I changed, built myself anew. I was gifted beautiful friendships and I learned endlessly about my own heart. 
Then after college, I disappeared again. 
Trauma once more visited me in an already empty place in life. This time however, I needed something to pull me out of complacency. I lost my hope. That's when I disappeared. I hid myself in books, in songs, and in naps. I drank lots of wine and I watched a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...
There is nearly a year and a half between me and that invisible, hesitant person. I'm starting to reappear, but the fog is slow to clear and I feel as though I've been gone too long. I don't want to sacrifice my friends again; my college relationships are so dear to my heart because they made me who I am. 
This post isn't meant to be cryptic or dramatic, but I know it will come across that way. I don't anticipate anyone reading this, but who knows? Post grad life is weird, so why not blog about it?

A delayed note on Grief

8:12 PM

Talking about grief is difficult. Its not easy to articulate everything you're feeling. But today I'm going to try because it feels necessary. Maybe it'll help me cope and move forward or maybe it'll help someone else feel a little bit less alone in their grief. 

On December 26th I lost my Nana. She was- is- one of my favorite people in the entire world. My whole life I have watched her and tried to be as kind, as generous, as creative, and as fun as she was. Her life was full of laughter and she carried joy with her wherever she went. She was never idle, she was alway going somewhere, doing something spectacular. She is the reason I love to travel so much and why I started painting. She made life colorful. But when she was diagnosed with brain cancer, life didn't feel so colorful anymore. Everything felt heavy, and dark. I watched her struggle through six months of pain and then she was gone. It felt too fast, it felt cruel. I cried angry prayers, begging God to heal her. During the last few months my prayer was mostly 'If you won't heal her, please just make it stop.' He did. The morning after Christmas we crowded around her bedside and watched her leave- fighting all the way. My prayer was thankful after that. She went to meet the God she loved so dearly. The past 9 months have been crippling. I found myself on the floor crying out to God more than I can count. Somehow through all this mess, hope has been peering out. My family is closer now, we're stronger. I've grown even closer to a good friend because her grandmother passed away from cancer just before mine. I feel bolder now, as if my Nana 's confidence and love of people has come out in me. I'm still sad, I still cry quite a bit- especially if I try to talk about it, but there seems to be deeper, brighter moments of joy than there have been in my life in a long time. God will make beautiful things from these seasons of despair. And while I heal and slowly unpack the sadness and depression I've been carying, I will continue to think about my Nana and all the beauty she gave to this world, and maybe, if I'm lucky, I might be able to do the same. 

A thankful note

8:56 AM

Today I am thankful for friendships that span hundreds of miles and I'm thankful for a God who never runs out of grace. This Thanksgiving finds me in a rough place. Life is an unpredictable mess sometimes, but I'm learning to be thankful for the messiness of it all. In moments of pain and fear I'm thankful for the raw reality that gets stirred up. I think I get complacent at times and forget how precious even the suffering can be. I'm learning to savor the sadness for what it gives- a new awareness of blessings. Everyday, God reminds me of the good things that hide behind the bad. Happiness is not so far away really, it's just out of my line of sight and until I can see it I will appreciate the suffering that will eventually break and breath a sigh of relief. So today, if you're struggling at all, remember that God is present and He is in control. 
Happy Thanksgiving 

In defense of Creativity

9:32 PM

I grew up around creativity. My parents are both extraordinarily creative individuals and the phrase "artsy- fartsy" has been applied to my family on multiple occasions. So my pursuit of the creative began early. Theatre and music was my outlet of choice and I saw myself doing those things as more than a hobby once I achieved "grown up" status. But somewhere along the line I lost that desire for an artsy life. It seemed far fetched and unrealistic. I spent the first two years of college trying to figure out what major I could tolerate for two more years that would still get me a decent job. I chose communications for it's practicality and I've found that I'm not just tolerating it. I'm excited about it! It's no longer a battle to convince myself to go to class at 9am. I'm enamored by what I'm learning, but I'm also realizing that the classes I love the most aren't the classes that are teaching me "practical" and "realistic" skills. They're the classes that encourage me to be creative. And not just creative in the "write this academic research paper on what ever your heart desires" but "use your hands to make something awesome"! I'm taking a class on aesthetic theory and it's a dense class, but all we do is discuss art. How do we define it, how do we evaluate it, and how are Christians supposed to look at art? I love it! First thing in the morning, it sets my mind in this attitude of "you can be artistic today" because there's no one to tell me that art isn't practical. 

We read an essay for that class by Janine Langan called The Christian Imagination and in it she talks about the importance of cultivating our imaginations. We often think that we need to deal with reality and practical matters before we can reward ourselves with a little imaginative thinking. We see it as extra and unnecessary. In reality our imagination and ability to be creative is what set us apart from the rest of creation. One of my favorite quotes from the essay is:
"A Christian imagination does not see the world as a prison from which the soul must escape, but as the stage of humanity's interaction with its God... it sees reality, not as a horror to abolish, but as an ongoing revelation to orchestrate in praise."
I love that! Our imaginations should not be stifled, but allowed to flourish and express our interpretations of the world. Creativity is not extra and its not superfluous. It is in our nature. God created us as creative beings. So perhaps I won't become an artist, but so many things have been laid on my heat this week about not letting my creativity become a simple hobby that I pick up occasionally. I need to cultivate it and let it grow and see where it takes me.  

Sparkles of Hope

2:27 PM

"Maybe you just have to live for the small things, like being called pretty or someone picking up the pen you dropped or laughing so hard that your stomach hurts. Maybe that's all that really matters at the end of the day." - Tianna Kavanagh 

This week I've been reminded just how tragically beautiful life is. This week has been hard, probably one of the hardest in my life, but  I've been clinging to the little things and the certainty of God to make it though. Sometimes life just hurts, but I can see that it won't always because of the friends in my life and the wonderful little kindnesses they give me. When I look back at college I'm going to remember my best friend bringing me coffee, because she knows it's my comfort food, and my roommate climbing into the top bunk to hold me while I cried. And so many people telling me that they're praying for me. That used to mean very little to me. Oh sure, I appreciated it, but in this moment prayer seems to be the only solution and I have never wanted it more. 
When life gets rough sometimes it's just easier to wallow in sadness and spend all day neglecting homework and watching Gossip Girl and believe me, I did not skip that step, but God has such wonderful plans for us and he makes everything happen for a reason. So I will focus on God and his healing love and let my friends know just how grateful I am for them. 
I hope you're having a good new year :)

Who stole your enthusiasm?

6:10 PM

I've gotten into the habit of saying "get excited" sarcastically. As in "Spanish quiz tomorrow, get excited!"or "About to start that 20 page research paper... Get excited!" And recently, I've been struggling to be actually excited about things. Whenever I'm truly excited about something, I tend to play it down and my demeanor suddenly becomes "too cool for school" as I pretend to be mildly amused while suppressing the desire to jump up and down and laugh and giggle at something that sets my heart aflutter. Where did this reservation come from and why can't I shake it? What causes me to cover up an excitement that is bursting from within me? My theory is that somewhere along the line, high school probably, someone convinced me that my enthusiasm made me nerdy or childish and so I chose to reign it in and tone it down in order to please some standard I thought I had to meet.

There's a well known quote from John Green that says, "That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt." But I think that could be said for most emotions. Enthusiasm demands to be felt, happiness demands to be felt, insecurity, fear, awe, they all need to be felt. In my Theatre and the Church class this morning, my professor was explaining aesthetic experiences and she said "We were created for intense emotion."If we don't allow ourselves to feel our emotions we stunt our growth as people and eventually we'll have to experiences those feelings. If we want to live as we were intended to, we have to let ourselves feel, we have to let ourselves get excited and sad and whatever else we need to. So maybe I'll work on showing my excitement and delight when I feel it, and stop hiding it lest I be judged by some faceless entity that has no real value and purpose in my life. 

Room to Change

8:28 PM

It's no secret that "Drops of Jupiter" is my favorite song. I can't really explain why, but I just really love it. One of the best lines is "[She] reminds me that there's room to change" yea ehhh ehh ehh ehh yeahh.... I've always liked the optimism of it, there is no point at which you cannot change your mind, yourself, your life. But where in life is there this room for change?

Today, in my Theatre and the Church class we were discussing how in acting, "what's true today doesn't have to be true tomorrow". Our choice for a character can change as we grow and learn more about that role. There is freedom to change and to mess up. This led to us talking about how society tells us not to make mistakes, that we have to do things perfectly the first time. Consequently, every time we mess up we throw ourselves into a trench of embarrassment and shame. Why is it so wrong to make a mistake? How do we learn? How do we change and grow as people if we can't make mistakes or change our minds about who we want to be? The people around us often stunt our growth. We stunt the growth of others as well. We place expectations on one another based on the past and we give them little room to change those notions we have of them. We expect our younger siblings to be immature and in need of guidance, but the truth is those siblings grow up and maybe don't need our advice constantly in their ears. We expect our friends to remain constant throughout a friendship, but people change, for the good and bad, and we need to accept that. If we're unwilling to lift our expectations off of people and let them change and be who they want to then we will drive a wedge into our relationship that endangers it's future. Perhaps that's the hardest part of changing yourself, convincing others to accept that change.  

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