Life in the Slow Lane

I talk fast.  I think fast.  I drive fast.  I make decisions fast.  I move fast.  Everything is fast.  But I think it might be time to slow down.  Welcome to the South.  Where even the state troopers don’t drive the speed limit.  Where people have a drawl, even when they’re hyped up on caffeine.

I never quite learned to rest.  I wrote a while back about staying put.  About how it might be time for me to be present where I’m at.  But I think it’s more than that.  I wonder if I’ll settle here.  Although I may never settle. My heart is learning to beat for the land.  And this land ambles.  It does not run.  It does not race.  It does not scream at you to speed up.  If anything, it whispers to slow down.  It calls you to rest.  It asks you to wait and see what might be around the next bend,  because if you take it too fast, you might miss it, you might hit it, you might kill what could have been an opportunity.  Life in the slow lane means not jumping to conclusions.

I think my heart has been so miserable because it is always racing, and I won’t listen to the beat.  I followed it here, and then I forced it to keep me awake so that I could do far too much again.  I’m not going to do far too much anymore though.  I am going to breathe for a little while.  I’m going to take things in stride.  I’m not going to worry, I’m going to listen to the constant streams of consciousness that might be telling me that everything is okay, that good things do happen.  I think I’ll live here, in the slow lane, for a while.  And for anyone who tells me that it’s time to speed up, they can exit the vehicle.  Because this is my life, and I’m going to claim it.

Blogging Everyday in July|Guys, Girls, Friends

Over the years I’m sure I’ve talked about guy-girl relationships before.  And in this moment I’m not sure why we make a deal out of it.  Can guys and girls be just friends?  Why is that a question?  Obviously the answer is always yes, but it’s as if so many people don’t want it to be.  But that’s not even what I was planning on writing about today.

I am one of those girls who connects more with guys.  I always have.  Maybe it’s because I had an older brother and grew up in the middle of nowhere and liked doing things outside.  “Boy things.”  That’s what they called hiking and camping and riding bikes and playing in the dirt when I was a kid.  Now they’re just “things that people do, regardless of their gender.”  Because people are trying again to realize the equality of the genders.  But again, I digress.
My mother wanted me to be a tomboy.  I wasn’t allowed to be a girl scout because she hated it when she was a child.  I wasn’t allowed to be a cheerleader because she didn’t want me cheering for boys.  If I was going to be on the field at a sports game, I better be playing.
But now she wants me to wear lipstick and dress like a lady, so I’m not entirely sure how this all makes sense.  The first time she heard me swear she blamed the “guys I hang out with.”  Because curse words aren’t said by females, I guess.  Sorry, I’ll stop.

When I am in a room of people, I naturally find myself sitting with a group of guys.  I seek out guy friendships before girl friendships, until I become aware of it.  In high school, almost all of my friends were guys and they made all the guy jokes and it didn’t matter that there was a girl in the room.  In college, I had a few choice female friends, and then a lot of guy friends.  That’s how it is everywhere I go in life.  And this isn’t because I’m subconsciously looking for a boyfriend.  I don’t date or develop feelings for most of my guy friends, and I’m sure they could say the same for me.  We just get along.
And it’s not even that I don’t like hanging out with girls.  My best friend is a girl.  And since I’ve moved to Florence, I’ve made a point to develop some strong female friendships.  A group of us have a Bible study/hang out every Thursday.  And I’m so thankful for it.  But part of the reason I want strong female friendships is because it seems like it’s time.  Like I’ve finally started to believe this lie that guys and girls can’t be just friends.  That it’s always something more on one end.  Or that all of my guy friends will be intimidating to a future partner.  But this isn’t true.  I don’t know what is true.

I like people.  I like friends, old and new.  I like that we can make the world a better place if we try to.  I like that although we are all flawed, we make a kaleidoscope of good intentions.  I get that genders are different.  But also, I don’t.  I understand anatomy and thinking.  But hearts and souls are the same.  Can’t we all just be friends?

Blogging Everyday in July|A Poem About Mass Attacks

I’m sure everyone is aware of the shooting that happened at Pulse, the club in Orlando.  It was a terrible thing to happen.  Any shooting is a terrible thing.  Any mass killing spree is a terrible thing.  And a lot of them seem to happen in the name of something, whether it’s a god someone believes in or something that a person believes that they stand for.  Battles like this are things that I try to stay out of.  My thoughts are controversial for some Christians.
I believe that if I follow the God that I say I do, then my first job is to love.  God loves and accepts his children.  Whether or not we live the way he originally created us to or not is besides the point.  So I choose to love and accept everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, preference, or religion.  I hope that everyone would act the same toward me, but that’s not always the case.  Not every person knows how to love.

The man responsible for that shooting, it is assumed, did it because he believes homosexuality is wrong.  However, it has since come out that he “struggled” with homosexuality himself.  I put struggled in quotes, because once accepted, sexual orientation is no longer a struggle.  One only struggles when one is resisting something they believe is wrong or sinful.  (In my opinion, of course).  So he hated something he saw in himself.

In saying all of this, after the shooting I felt compelled to write a poem about conviction.  I don’t usually explain my poetry, but there you go.

Conviction
Maybe it’s conviction
That causes so much pain
Believing so strongly that something is wrong
Then finding it within your own self
Must be terrifying
There is either hatred or acceptance
So many choose wrong

This whole world might be broken
Thought it was held together by perfect beliefs
Beliefs that keep getting challenged
It’s not so black and white anymore
Finding more truth in the grey areas than we’d care to admit

How could someone live their life that way?
Is it sin nature?
Or just sin?
Or could it honestly just be nature?
Something we found we hated in our genetic code
Refusing to evolve with it
Resisting until we feel we might just give in
Or give up
Take a gun to your head
Or harm someone else in this wrongful conviction

Blogging Everyday in July|Nostalgia Makes Mountains Out of Molehills

This isn’t something anyone asked me to write on.  I’m just writing on it.

I woke up this morning feeling numb.  Feeling nostalgic.  Feeling unsettled.  I have a lot to do, yet nothing to do.  Why do anything at all?  I stayed in bed for a while.  Then I felt like playing a song I wrote right before I went back to California for the wedding.  Then I started playing music I wrote last year.  Music I wrote the last time my heart was broken.  And I remembered.

I remembered getting through that.  How that doesn’t hurt anymore unless I dwell on it.  Because it wasn’t right.  I’ve been thinking about all the times in the past when I’ve been broken.  When I’ve been disappointed.  When I’ve been so angry and hurt at situations, whether relationships or otherwise, that I just felt like giving up.  And I’ve gotten through all of them.  They aren’t even scars anymore.  They’re not even molehills anymore, but they were mountains at the time.

That’s what depression does.  It makes mountains out of molehills.  It makes the little things seem insurmountable.  Not that someone struggling with depression is making a big deal out of a small thing, but the energy to get over that small thing just doesn’t exist.  When you’re from a flat land, even small hills look like mountains.  Sometimes, everything looks like mountains.

I’m a funny person.  I’m not a funny writer, but I make people laugh, and more importantly, I make myself laugh.  But I’m also a cynical person.  So a lot of my jokes are dark, and I think I’ve left behind most of the people who get them.
I tweet out a lot of funny one liners.  And I don’t really care if people see them or understand where I’m coming from, because when I’m out of context I’m even more cryptic of a person.  But it’s when I get the offended responses that it bothers me.  Yes, social media is just a game, but it’s one I feel that I’m losing, because all the conservative old people don’t understand.  It annoys me more than it helps me.  Yet it something that we’re all addicted to.  But social media is a topic for another day.
Lately I just feel unheard.

Most of my thoughts are how to express how much I miss people.  There are people that I’ve almost forgotten, but when I remember them, I miss them.  I miss familiarity.  I miss being known.  But I have the chance to completely remake myself.  So why not take that chance?

I’m rambling.  I know.  And this isn’t stretching me at all.  Day one, and my goal of writing everyday is already failing.  But I will keep going.

While I was playing through old music today, I started to write something new.  My song writing process is not something that I’m going to talk about today, but here’s a clip of something new.  Have fun with my nostalgia.

This Ground

 

Casualty

Even as the price has been paid
I cannot bring myself
To be like the rest of these
Whole people
Asking me to dance in freedom
Before a loving God

Why cannot I
Just sit at the feet
Of my loving God?

In the quiet
Basking in a glory unknown
Though they cannot see my freedom
As it has not been fully realized
Does not negate its reality

I am free
Just feeling caged in
By the warriors around me
Not their prisoner
Not ready to be another casualty
Please let me be

Again

When people ask me what my type is, I usually say your name
But I can’t help feeling like this is all just a game
What are we playing at?

You are music to my ears
And my knees grow weak at the mere sight of you
I am so fragile in your hands
Please don’t break me

And I know it’s against my better judgment to let you in again
But who am I kidding?
I can’t say no to you

You had me at hello
And I could never let that go
No matter how hard I tried

You’re everywhere in my mind
Even as I try to forget
There’s still traces of you that I’ll never erase

I keep this door I’ve closed unlocked
Just in case you try to come in again
You don’t even have to knock, I’ve been saving you a key

And as broken as I am, I keep waiting for you
I don’t even have to expect your return
You always find your way back to me

I like to think that together, we are home
But we still set each other free to roam
On the coldest nights, I just want to know I’m not alone

Somehow though, I think I’m always alone with you
The closer that we come, the lonelier I get
Because I know the time is coming when you’ll leave me again

I hate when you forget me
But maybe I’m never forgotten
You always seem to remember me enough to return right when I move on

As much as I’d like to leave you behind
We both know that’ll never happen
I drowned in your ocean far too long ago

If there’s ever someone new
They can never compare to you
So shall we try this again?

Royalty

What is on your mind?
Write it, speak it, say it out loud!
Because if you keep it locked inside,
If you keep it bottled up,
You might explode

Remember your importance;
You exist, therefore you matter
Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise
Because you weren’t created to simply drift
Never be afraid to shout

Let it out!
Scream until you have nothing left
Because when you feel like you have nothing left
You’ll find where your life depends
That’s where you’ll find yourself

Please don’t ever give up
Because you are worth so much more
You might not realize it now
But there is a crown resting on your head that you just haven’t noticed yet
You are royalty

Friends

I was supposed to move to Portland this month, but things changed.  I thought I belonged there, but now I’m thinking maybe I don’t belong anywhere.  Mammoth is where I am at, though.  And I’m realizing that maybe, right now, I wouldn’t survive in Portland anyway, because I don’t really know anyone there, no one there has really tried to accept me, and I’m not one who makes friends easily.  In fact, I think I have forgotten how to altogether.

When I was in high school I had a lot of friends.  I made friends any time I went out of town, and I was pretty good at staying in touch with them.  I loved them all deeply.  Most everyone at my high school knew me, and most everyone who knew me liked me, even if they didn’t know the shit my mind put me through.  So I never realized I had a problem until I got a little older and realized all of those friends were out of convenience.

When I got to college I didn’t make an effort to make friends right away, and stuck with the ones that piled on and accepted me as time passed.  My sophomore year I had a mental break down and pushed everyone away.  Those that helped me through that time, for the most part, forgot that my mind is not always broken, and that I can be healthy and happy and normal.  And so, when I was ready to pull them in, they pushed me away and forgot me.  I accepted that I am forgotten.

When my mind broke, I developed some pretty strong social anxiety, just to add on to my manic depressive tendencies.  Going to someplace where I don’t have someone to cling to gives me panic attacks and overwhelms me unless I have something to distract my mind with.  But it’s like no one understands that.  Because of this, meeting new people freaks me out, and even though friendship and community is something that I really desire, it’s not something that I feel capable of obtaining.

My biggest fear is that I am annoying.  I think I become more annoying when I mention that I’m annoying, than I am in actual annoyance.  When I meet someone new, I am afraid to pursue their friendship, because I’m worried that I’ll push them away, and when they don’t pursue me in any way, I decide that we’re not friends and that they don’t like me anyway.  When someone does invite me to do something, I expect to hang out with them.  However, when they invite more than just me and I’m with a bunch of people that I don’t know, I shut down and become afraid to go at all.  You can see how making friends is a problem.

But you see, the biggest thing that people were created to want, desire, need, is community.  Humans need each other.  I need people, so why am I so afraid of them?  If I had moved to Portland I would have starved myself of other people and eventually quit functioning altogether.  Being in Mammoth, near where I grew up, I know people, but I don’t have friends, and it’s already a struggle.  So I guess what I’m saying is that I need friends.  I need to remember how to make them.  I need to remember how to be a person again.

Witnessing to Witnesses

Have you ever had something happen and wish you had said something or reacted quicker moments after it was too late?  I think most people have.
That happened to me yesterday.  I was sitting in the park by myself because I had a bit of time before I had to be at work.  A man started to approach me and I instantly felt uncomfortable, because meeting strangers usually gives me anxiety if I’m unprepared.  He was about 15 feet away when he says, “Do you want life?  You need to accept the blood of Jesus.”
I looked up at him managed to stammer out, “Um… I already have.  I actually have my degree in–”
He cut me off saying, “Don’t take it personal!” While walking away from me quickly.
I wish that I had asked him to stop and come back to have a conversation.  I have to admit that I was offended that he immediately assumed I was some sort of a heathen when he had only seen me from a distance.  I was also put off by his approach.  We could have actually had a conversation that brings life, and maybe we could have learned from each other.  Instead he made a snap judgment about me while I allowed him to have it.

All of this makes me think how often we make snap judgments about people.  But his snap judgment was more than just that, as he had no information about me to judge.  He just saw a stranger and assumed I was “unsaved” and that he was better than me due to this.  The more I have had these thoughts though, I realized that I often do the same thing, albeit on a different level.  When I make friends from work or meet someone in any place that isn’t some sort of Christian affiliated format, I assume they are not Christian.  However, I do not try to “get them saved.”  No, I am much worse.  I just don’t talk to them about my beliefs unless it comes up in conversation.  It doesn’t even occur to me to ask someone what they think about God or life or death or heaven or hell.  I just let them be and wait for them to ask a question.

So what’s worse?  Assuming someone is a heathen and witnessing to a witness?  Or assuming someone doesn’t care and keeping your beliefs to yourself?

One Year

It’s amazing how much can change in a year.  Think about where you were a year ago.  Last year at this time I was living in Eureka doing an internship.  I had a year left of college and I didn’t know what I would do after that.  I played with the idea of figuring out a spoken word tour, but I’m not ambitious enough to bring that idea to fruition.  I started formulating what eventually became the plan to move to Portland post graduation.  I made friends that I hoped to keep for the rest of my life.

A year ago a pair of my friends had recently gone through a breakup, making their relationship somewhat less than friendship.  There was so much anger in that situation, but looking at them now, one of them is about to get married and the other one is happily spinning toward engagement.  A year ago neither of them would have expected this.

A year ago I thought that at this point I might have my life somewhat figured out.  I thought I would have my book on its way to publishing.  I thought I would have a cool job or some other thing going for me, and that I would be living in a cool city like Portland, sipping coffee and hanging out at pubs with my hip friends.

The day I left the camp in Nevada City I had a conversation with one of the other employees.  He told me that Chicago is on his heart.  He said that he feels God is sending him there, just not yet.  He knows he’ll be there eventually and that he might invoke change, but he has some things to figure out first.  Portland is on my heart.  I feel like it’s where I belong, possibly where I am being sent, but maybe not yet.

I came home, because right now this is where I am supposed to be.  I’m hoping to take a job and move up to Mammoth, but I really don’t know what the future holds for me.  No, I don’t know how I’m going to pay off my student loans.  No, I don’t know when my book will be finished.  No, I don’t know when I’ll move to Portland, or England, or anywhere else.  But I think that’s all okay, because who really has their life all together, especially at 21?

So, I’m taking one year.  One year to make no plans, but to just see where life takes me, where God takes me.  Where will I be in a year?  I don’t know, and I’ve decided not to care.  I need to focus on what is in front of me.  A year of freedom, maybe.