Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Life is Full, Exciting, and Confusing in the Land of 20-Somethings.

I am quite possibly the most emotional person many of my friends have ever encountered.  We've talked about this before, I'm sure.  I cry at the drop of a hat: when I'm happy, sad, frustrated, tired, freaking-so-excited-I-don't-know-what-else-to-do-but-cry.  You know, all the usual reasons.  But for someone who is so in tune with their emotions, I've been having a hard time grasping a particular concept.

That you can have more than one emotion at a time.

Every time I go into counseling, my sweet and precious counselor friend hands me this dreaded piece of paper covered in simply drawn emojis.  There are at least 30 of them all staring back at me with different facial expressions, such as, angry, frustrated, disappointed, hurt, vulnerable, excited, content, etc, etc. and I just want to make all those faces back at them as they mock me.  She makes me circle all of the faces that I am feeling at that time and I always sit and grumble and ask her if I have to.  I think I hate this activity for two reasons:

1) Because I am an overall positive and upbeat person, it is not always fun to admit when I'm frustrated, disappointed, sad, whatever.

2) Because I am an overall positive and upbeat person, I have a hard time understanding how I can be happy, plus all of the other negative emotions at the same time.

My complex personality apparently just wants things to be simple when it comes to how I feel.  I just want to be happy.  Or I just want to be sad.  Or I just want to be excited in each moment.  I don't want to be 17 different things, because this makes one feel cray-cray and no one likes a cray-cray.  But recently, my sweet counselor friend looked at me and said, "it's okay to be excited and sad at the same time, Katie."  Chances are she's said this to me a bajillion times before, but for whatever reason, it clicked this time.  Ah-ha.  Finally.

It seems that lately I've been in a constant state of excitement and sadness.  Ugh, and it's the worst.  Can't I just be constantly excited for everyone and everything around me?!  What's the deal, here?  Well, the deal is that it's hard to be 100% excited when you feel like you're being left behind.  It's hard to not be a titch sad when you feel like you're standing still, being left to inhale everyone else's dust as they take off running.

Now hear me clearly when I say that I live a very full, busy, and rewarding life.  I am constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off (I have never known anything different) and I love keeping my plate full of activities and friends.  In a sense I, too, am definitely kicking up dust in folks' faces like my feet are on fire.  But guess what dust I'm not kicking around?  The dust of moving forward in a new stage of life.  You know the stage I'm talking about.  The stage that all of us 20-somethings desire at some point.  The stage of finding that person to do the full, busy, and rewarding life with.

All around me, my fabulous and great and beautiful friends are entering new relationships, getting engaged, making big life decisions with their significant others because that is the direction life is moving, and I'm all back here like, "hey guys, I'll just be here hanging out with George the Beagle!"  At least he's dang cute, right?  And while I squeal when they squeal about new and exciting plans and cry tears of happiness when they cry tears of happiness over their new fiance, there is still an underlying nagging of feeling like I'm standing still in the dust.

Thankfully, though, peace always sets in eventually.  Peace floods in and drowns out those nagging feelings of bitterness and frustration.  Prayer is my constant crutch to move forward through the muddy waters of emotions, knowing good and well that God makes no mistakes and His timing is greater than the timing my little, impatient heart conjures up.  And I remember that it is commanded that, if we hope for what we do not yet have, we are to do so patiently (Romans 8:25).  And I do not always do this gracefully, (just ask my parents), but I try my best to circle back around to God's promises.  Life is full, exciting
, and confusing in the land of 20-somethings.

So if you're reading this and you've related to it in any way, maybe not about relationships, but about a multitude of other life stages, know that you aren't alone.  Know that God hears your cries and knows your heart and He's got a better plan in mind.  Try to hope for what you do not yet have patiently and cling to His promises.  Stand in the dust with a joyful heart and know that yours is coming and when it arrives it will be beautiful.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summertime Makes Me Miss You.

Summertime makes me miss you. 

It’s amazing how our minds and bodies work, how one smell, one sound can take us back to a place in time that we haven’t thought about in so long.  We started our journey together in the summer, spending the long nights sitting outside on benches around the city, attempting to soak up as much knowledge about one another as our brains would absorb.  Many of those bench moments were spent stealing kisses in the night as we sat closely together, limbs intertwined.  Those moments were my favorite, full of innocence and excitement of getting to know someone new.  Back before things got beautifully complicated.

The smell of the gym in the summer makes me think of you constantly, daydreaming back to when we first met and to where we spent much of our time together in the beginning of our relationship.  Back to when I would casually stride into your office, arriving earlier than I needed to, just for a chance to chat with you.  Back to when you would randomly pop your head into my class like an absolute creeper, but I found it hilarious anyway.  Back to when we were keeping our newly found attraction to each other under wraps for at first and we would linger around the gym, waiting for all of our friends to go home so we could get in the car together and make a late dinner run to Waffle House.  The smell of summer, the feel of summer, the sounds of summer – they all take me back to you.  My thoughts completely skip every other summer that I’ve had in my 27 years and circle back to you. 

Today I pulled out the “Richard” box for the first time since January.  I pulled out the stack of pictures, bypassing the letters from you and the cards from so many people after you died, though had I had more energy I would have sifted through those as well.  I looked at you in all of those pictures and became overwhelmed by emotion.  It is still so hard to grasp the concept of you being gone.  It is still so hard to understand why God chose me to spend your final days with.  It is still so hard to fathom that you chose me to spend your final days with, though of course you didn’t even know they were your last.  God tethered our hearts together as soon as we met and I am forever grateful that I had the chance to know, love, and share so much with such an incredibly intricate person.  I look at those pictures and everything comes flooding back – the conversations, the struggles, the jokes, the happiness, the pain of each moment.  There is a, and I suppose always will be though maybe not as prominent, a hole in my heart that is reserved for you.  You, sweet Richard, saw me for everything I was and for everything I wanted to be.  You loved me with an unconditional love that I did not deserve.  You taught me so much about strength, determination and grace.  So much about grace.  I often wonder when these feelings of nostalgia will go away.  Will they ever go away?    

Summertime makes me miss you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Next Day She Ran Away.

I'd sat across the Starbucks table from her, looking into her eyes trying to channel my thoughts about her to her brain.  My thoughts about how loved she was, how cherished she was by God, and how I believed in her so much, that she would be able to break the cycle.  We talked about boys (we always talked about boys), and her GED classes and why she should respect her house mom.  It was one of our best one-on-ones we'd had.

The next day she ran away.


This is the brutal and honest reality of working with foster kids.  Just like they have had many people pop in and out of their lives, they, too, pop in and out of yours as well.  They either run away, get sent to another group home, (hopefully) get fostered by a family, etc.  And you're left standing here in the dust, scratching your head, wondering what just happened.

When she ran away I cried and cried and cried.  First I cried for her safety, worried she was in harm.  Then I cried because I was angry at her for running when I knew the potential she had and the things she could have done had she just sat still longer.  And then I cried because I was heartbroken for her that she felt like that was her only other option.  Now I don't know who she's with, what she's doing or where she is.  It's the worst.

Selfishly I thought - did I even have a chance to make a difference in her life?  Did she hear anything I said to her?  Doesn't she know how much I loved her?  But of course, this story is not about me.  Of course no matter how much love I showed her, if she had the chance to run away because she caught even the smallest glimpse of being back with her family, she was going to take it.  No matter what these kids have been through or how horrible their home lives are, they still want to be home.  And that, my friends, makes my heart throb.  But it is a part of our sad, broken world.  Something we cannot avoid, something we really cannot blame these kids for, and we cannot understand.

After my pity party, I slowly began to feel peace about her whereabouts.  She finally sent me a text and relief set in when I knew she was okay.  God began to whisper sweet nothings of protection, calmness, and sovereignty to me.  I pray and hope and desire and wish that I did, indeed, make a difference in her life, even if just a small one.  Obviously, I was not meant to be her mentor forever, but I hope that the short time we had together was real and raw and she felt the sincerity.  God is sovereign over all things, including that little girl's life.  I pray for protection over her and that she will continue to see her worth in His eyes, instead of in the eyes of another.  And in the meantime, I will continue to love those kids with every fiber of my being, attempting to channel my thoughts about them to their brains.  That they are loved, they are cherished and they are believed in.  It's all any of us can really do.

And merely days after she ran away this article I had written for Shattered Magazine was posted.  Life certainly is ironic.  ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars/How Many Tears Can One Shed in Approximately Two Hours.

Listen.  If your boyfriend, that you had a fleeting romance with, is suddenly diagnosed with leukemia and dies in the ER, it is probably not wise to go see a movie where the main character's boyfriend also tragically dies in the ER due to cancer.  This is pretty basic stuff, folks.  But I'm not a pretty basic girl.

Instead, this not so basic girl threw herself into the theater, forcing a few friends to go with her after several other friends told her that they would absolutely not go and see this movie with her and sh freaked out and panicked because SHE HAD TO SEE THIS MOVIE, so she drove to Birmingham and watched it with two friends that she knew would appreciate it as much as her insane self also would. (shout out to C. Graham and Yates, whaddup!).

And you're wondering: What does it look like for 3 grown women to struggle to not be the loudest criers in a theater full of teenagers?  Horrible.  Like the most horrible thing on the planet.  Like as horrible as sitting down in a public bathroom stall to realize, too late, that there is no toilet paper times infinity.

But the truth of the matter is that I was exposed to this story in the summer of 2012 (coincidentally the summer I met Richard, but this is beside the point).  The story I am referring to, in case you have been under a protective/unemotional/want-to-deny-yourself-beautiful-things rock lately, is The Fault in Our Stars.  I read the book that summer and freaking fell madly, deeply, widely in love with the characters and the author.  This author, John Green, has a way with words that I strive to emulate and channel when I write.  He is witty and has a way of laying out exactly what you're thinking without even knowing that you were thinking it until you read his words and OH MY GOSH YOU WERE THINKING THE SAME THING.  But he says your words way better than you could ever dream of.  The depth that he is able to portray in a young adult book about two teenagers with cancer that fall in love is a thing of the cosmos.  I can't even.

So, you see my friends, I HAD to see this movie.  It wasn't even a question.  NO, it did not matter that I would spend the entire movie tearing up, to only have the flood gates OPEN and to start SOBBING thirty minutes before the movie ended and to think it would NEVER END I SWEAR I DIDN'T KNOW WHEN IT WOULD END.

Because I was invested.

But truth be told, this movie-going experience would have been different if Richard had never happened.  I still would have lost my composure in front of a multitude of teenagers, but the deeper heartache would not have been there.  The deeper understanding, longing, and empathy would not have been there.  But this is no surprise.  Everything would be different if Richard had never happened.

Wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sundays Are for Cleaning. And Apparently Crying.

Sundays and I have been in a fight lately.  But I think we're about to make up.

I have been finding myself crying every Sunday, lately.  At least over the past several weeks.  This is not incredibly surprising since I'm, like, the most emotional person you've ever encountered, but it's really been throwing a wrench in my days.  WHY AM I CRYING SO MUCH, I've found myself wondering.  I LOVE SUNDAYS, WHAT'S THE DEAL!?!  But I think I've figured it out.

See for me, Sundays are for cleaning.  I enjoy throwing on (loud) music and starting the process of cleaning up the crumbs of the week before.  Sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, etc.  I am, by no means, a "clean freak," but I love how fresh the house looks/smells/feels after a solid wipe down, shaking off all of the remainders of the days prior, setting it up for a new week.

I also find myself cleaning out my mind, heart and soul on Sundays.  It typically starts with a church service, where I am fed spiritually and emotionally.  Hoping to carry on the feeling I get after hearing God's word, I usually find myself reading, writing or studying later in the day, with a tendency to focus on things that will satisfy my heart and mind (don't worry - I gorge myself on junk TV and such on Saturdays.)  I prepare myself for the week ahead, while reflecting on the days I've just left behind.

Because of this routine, Sundays tend to be full of reflection, contemplation, and grace-filled insights. Thinking of what my life looks like now, remembering what it looked like before, daydreaming of what my life may look like in the future.  Shaking off the worries and the burdens and sitting in utter awe of God's unconditional love and grace.  And because, remember, I'm, like, the most emotional person you've ever encountered, I typically find myself with tears streaming down my face.

But it's okay because crying is my reaction to most emotions - happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, elation, boredom - and I believe it is my soul's way of cleansing itself.

So even though Sundays make me cry...I adore them.  What other day of the week can you wake up slow, drink obscene amounts of coffee, be fed spiritually while visiting with friends and family, enjoy nap time, and reorganize your life for the days ahead?

I hope your Sundays are just as lovely.  But maybe a bit less emotional.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

White, Blank Page.

I'm sitting here, on my bed, staring at this white, blank page in front of me, trying to figure out the words to type out.  I know that in order to be a successful writer, one must...write.  Sometimes writing is just the easiest part of my day, words flowing out of my fingers like nobody's business, like my fingers were created to type.  But sometimes the words run away and hide from me, deep down in the crevices of my brain.  I know they are there but bringing them to the surface can be difficult.

So I guess I'll just write about writing.  I am trying to blog more, again.  Knowing that I need to practice this skill and actually practicing are two different acts.  I am attempting to encourage (read: force) myself to write at least two blogs a week.  At least two blogs a week just on my personal blog alone; not including writing I'll be doing for Shattered's blog among other things.  Oh and this doesn't include, you know, trying to write a book.  So basically there's going to be a lot of typing going on up in here.

To date I have written approximately (read: exactly) 5,817 words for my book.  That's enough right?  It's coming along slowly, but sweetly and surely.  Maybe by 2050 I'll have them all written out.  It's such a delicate balance writing a book that you would actually like people to read.  Figuring out a way to delicately interlace straight forward facts and all the emotions and thoughts and feels in a way that shows grace, love and sincerity is kind of a ridiculous idea if you really think about it.  But I'm determined (read: stubborn) and I'm going to make it happen.  I recently found out that I FINALLY got into graduate school...for next year.  I will start Summer 2015.  I am choosing to see the silver linings in having to wait another entire year and one of them is to finish this dang book.  I work well with due dates and deadlines.

I shall now leave you with a gift.  A gift of a picture of my dog contemplating the world's problems.  Like maybe why there are not enough tennis balls on this planet.  Or why he can't seem to physically catch the reflection from his collar tags.  Or why our cat hates him so much. 

You're welcome.