when your graduation is not honorable

Like many people I know, I’m graduating college this week. I am so relieved to be done, but at the same time there’s this weight in my stomach. I feel sick, thinking about the fact that I don’t have any further opportunity to raise my GPA and bring honor to my name.

See, I’m not graduating with any sort of honors – personally or academically. It all feels a little less than honorable.

Yeah, the girl who finished high school 3rd in her class, with a 4.3 GPA, 33 college credits already completed before I even received my high school diploma, is graduating college without any sort of thing to be proud of, besides the fact that I barely dragged myself to the finish line.

In some ways I feel fine about this, knowing that in the grand scheme of things, GPA doesn’t matter a great deal. Hardly any employers look at that, my friends won’t ever know, my boyfriend doesn’t judge me. My parents might be a little bit disappointed, but they’re not going to hold it over my head forever. The fact is, I finished, and I did enough to earn this degree. But part of me feels totally disappointed, ashamed, embarrassed. Especially as a Daniels Scholar, I just feel like I owed it to everyone to do better.

Obviously I don’t want to be angry and disappointed at myself for the rest of my life, just because I didn’t do as well in college as I had hoped. And I also don’t want to become bitter towards those people whose GPA and grades really reflect solid and consistent work these past few years. I don’t want to be mad at people who have done an excellent job. So how do you keep from beating yourself up and at the same time, still celebrate those around you who excelled, who received those honors, who deserve the accolades? And you… What do you deserve? What do we deserve for making it through but not really excelling?

The answer is — I’m just spewing out a lot of rhetorical questions and don’t really know the answers to any of this. Honestly sometimes my posts are just a stream of consciousness and I have no idea where I’m headed, so I don’t have answers yet.

All I know is that I’m proud to be done but feel oh-so mediocre right now.

But maybe this is a good thing.
A good lesson, though a hard one.
Maybe this is a big ol’ slap in the face of the reality that most of us go through life feeling pretty average.
Maybe it’s a reminder that we’re not alone in our success and we’re not alone in our failures. Countless people graduate every year with honors, and countless do not.

Maybe it’s a lesson that sometimes you’re going to have to keep pushing forward with something even when other aspects of your life are crumbling. And maybe it won’t be perfect, but at least you are moving and doing. Anything is better than staying put. For me, it was really hard to propel myself forward in the midst of the messiness of last fall. I wanted to quit school, stop going to work, never try out another church, and just stay in bed all day every day. But I knew I had to finish my degree and I had to keep getting up and out of bed every day. I needed to keep going. I just had to focus on each little step, each assignment, each reading for the day. Like in the movie What About Bob? “Baby steps, write a paper. Baby steps, get a college degree…”

I don’t want to sound like I’m only trying to comfort my wounded ego, or that I’m defending mediocrity in general. I’m not.  But as I’m learning, there are just a lot of parts of life where you do what you can at the time, and that has to be enough, and you have to be able to move on without regretting all the work you didn’t do. Be proud of the work that you did, and forgive yourself for the moments when you didn’t study, didn’t put an hour more into that paper, when you spent time with friends instead of doing homework. All of those little choices added up and maybe they weren’t exactly what you hoped for, but in every moment, you were moving forward. You did your best — or maybe you didn’t and that’s still okay. You did what you could, and you learned. Someone said once, “Experience, that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn” (it was either C.S. Lewis or someone else, as some website told me the quote was misattributed to him; I don’t know). Anyways, how true that statement is. Life can be unforgiving in its lessons, but you learn and move on and remember those for the rest of your life. And while life brutally beats lessons into you, you work on giving yourself grace for your less than honorable moments, and remind yourself that you receive grace from other sources too — your friends, your family, God. Also, just a reminder – God doesn’t care about your GPA. Thank goodness for that.

So, maybe your graduation (or some other aspect of life) feels less than honorable. You’re not super proud, but it’s over and it’s time to move on. And guess what? Regardless of the details, you still completed a four year degree. You did it. No one is going to continue checking your GPA, or ask if you graduated with honors. They just see that you spent four years of your life consistently working towards a big goal and you achieved that. How cool is that? And that’s what I’m going to try to remember through all of my moments of being disappointed in myself. I did what I could, I kept striving forward, I made it, time to move on. Another (maybe) C.S. Lewis quote – “There are far better things than any that we leave behind.”

Keep moving forward! You’ve got this.

-Claire

a lament to social media

I never thought this little life of mine would look less like a life of my own and more like a dusty old hard-drive for everyone else’s perfect, pixelated highlights.
That’s just me – I compile and organize the lives of everyone around me. But then I lose a bit of myself everyday.

When I was little, I didn’t expect that every morning as an adult, I’d wake up only to scroll endlessly through the lives of everyone else while my eyes adjusted painfully to the light. I would never have guessed that I would subconsciously start my day with a little less confidence just because of this, and a splitting headache from the screens that take up so much of my vision.

I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d slowly but surely lose my attention span so that I can no longer spend hours upon hours reading. I can barely get a solid fifteen minutes in without jumping out of book-world and back into Facebook-world.

I couldn’t have guessed that every time I see a pretty view, instead of just enjoying that fleeting moment of a pretty view, I have to capture it in the best angle and the best light, and then add feigned light, and cover it up with a mood-altering filter and add a nice caption, and then wait (aka refresh eight hundred times) to see how many likes I can receive.

I would never have known earlier in my lifetime that I’d spend huge chunks of my day checking and rechecking and refreshing and rescrolling through my photos to make sure I hadn’t missed a single like or comment.

When I was younger, the box in my hand had nothing to do with the things I imagined for myself. And yet, here it is, occupying my thoughts and my hands most of the time on most days. Isn’t that insane? I had dreams of reading every book ever written, learning how to paint five thousand different ways, running across the United States, making it to Broadway, memorizing the Bible. But I feel crippled because of this damn technology that has overtaken so much of my life.

And I never dreamed that the good friends I’d have, the company I’d keep, would also be addicted to their own little squares. I never could have fathomed that the people closest to me would still be kept from me because the intangible world of everyone else’s lives would be more attractive than understanding deeply who we are.

Some days I feel so weighed down by the fact that my life seems to be going nowhere, or at least moving at a much different pace than I’d hoped — so quickly, but overwhelmingly fast. Too much is happening that I feel I can’t keep up. And I’ve lost sight on what’s most important because I’ve been sucked into this world of watching everyone else.

I never would have predicted that I’d have an addiction – multiple actually. An addiction to what people think of me and their approval; an addiction to seeing what’s happening with others all the time; an addiction to the sleek, rectangular box that is always in my hand or my pocket; an addiction to not being alone.

That’s the root of it: I think I have truly forgotten how to be alone, and I think the rest of the world has, too.

It’s easy to avoid being alone – you don’t even have to walk out of your empty house now in order to fill your mind with attractions that will remind you how great it is to be connected.

And it is great to be connected, don’t get me wrong. We’re just focused on a feigned version of connection.

How often do we hear that nobody knows themselves anymore? We are lost, confused, young and reckless. Some of that is part of the natural progression of growing up, but some of it we’ve actually put on ourselves.

We know more about the romantic entanglements of fictional TV characters than we do about how we take our coffee.

We can understand the motives of Facebook fights more easily than we can understand our own knotted up emotions.

We analyze statistics of Instagram likes, followers, and followees better than we analyze our own personalities.

We can name every new Justin Bieber song, but we can’t name one thing we did wrong to make our friends mad at us. (It’s their problem anyway; if they can’t handle us the way we are, then they shouldn’t be our friend — right?)

We could state every single date that our new favorite movies are coming out, but we could not state a friend or family member’s birthday (it’s all recorded on Facebook, though, so no need to worry).

We can predict movie and TV show plots but can’t predict our own lives two years from now. Why is that? Are we afraid? Or are we choking out our own potential and desire to succeed because we are succumbing to lives unworthy of what we used to dream of as kids?

 

I know, I know. Claire’s being melodramatic again.

 

So what do you do when life doesn’t seem to go the way you planned – aka, life looks like everyone walking around flicking their thumbs against glass screens, eyes down, glazed over and clouded because of the overload of information charging itself into tired heads. What do we do?

Just collapse on the floor and cry? (sometimes I do that. It’s whatever).
Ignore the problems and keep scrolling?
No. We can’t.
We have to take humanity back. Call me crazy, call me dramatic, but I truly believe we have to take a stand against all of this madness.

 

And it starts with the tiniest, smallest steps.

Turn your phone OFF during dinner.

Put it AWAY when you’re with friends.

Don’t prioritize a box of information over a person with a heart and a mind worth listening to and understanding.

When you’re waiting, when you have an “in-between” moment, don’t look down and scroll. Look up and observe. Remember what it used to be like to have to entertain yourself in the waiting places of life. Count birds, recall the last time you were in that location, write a song in your head. It sounds so silly, so childish, but we have to remember what life was like before phones established dominion in our heads.

Think of your memories and photos as sacred parts of your precious, beautiful life, unfit for the world to see and criticize. Keep those close, think before you throw them out into the void of the Internet.

Commit to only checking Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest an hour total a day (did you know that the average American spends close to FIVE hours a day on social media?). Then 45 minutes, then 30, then 20, then 10. Then try a day without checking it all. Unshackle yourself from the obligation to check in with the entire universe.

Instead of reading articles about celebrities and people you don’t know, try to understand more and more the people you do know. Seek depth, not breadth. No one needs to know how much Kim Kardashian’s baby weighs. Ask your friend how their day is going, what you can do to help them.

Instead of scrolling through pictures, feeling your envy and discontentment rise with every double-click of a photo, practice a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. Go for a walk – have you SEEN the outdoors in awhile, like more than just the walk to your car and into buildings, back and forth every single day?

Just sit. Just breathe. Close your eyes. Meditate, pray. Don’t just compartmentalize meditation for a moment of your morning – make it a life practice for any moment during your day. Don’t fill your mind with more useless, clickhole information; cultivate thoughts and ideas already planted in your mind.

We’re going for depth, not breadth, remember.

Look people in the eye as you walk by. I know, it’s scary — people are frightening, messy, untrustworthy screw-ups who hurt each other and make fools of themselves. Let’s look at each other anyway, and remember we’re not alone.

This one’s hard for me — don’t be so quick to end conversations with people. What’s the rush? Connection is the reason we’re here, why force it to a close so fast? Answer questions honestly, ask great questions back. Small talk is scary because we think we have to stay on the surface. We don’t have to. Dig deeper.

 

Depth, not breadth.

 

Breadth may be attractive. It might feel like the right thing to do, culturally. Spread yourself long and wide, to as many people, as fast as possible. Be open and available to all. With breadth, there are no rules except more, more, more. Spread, spread, spread. Shine up your facade, make sure it looks perfect to everyone who sees it.
But what’s underneath? Nothing. Sidewalk chalk is fun but if you color the whole street, underneath is still cold, hard concrete and pavement.

Depth is harder. Depth requires work, getting your hands dirty. Cultivation. Discipline. Depth is a garden, filled with rich, nutritious soil. And the rewards that surface to the top, the ones you see finally appear after all the hard work, they’re so much more rewarding because you know their roots grow deep, deep, deep. There are rules to depth – recipes for success — like too much water will drown the crops, and too much sunlight will dehydrate them, and a lack of picking weeds will choke them. Why do we feel like we always have to break the rules because they’re so restricting? Sometimes we forget how helpful rules can be, and how much life can be created because of them.

 

Today I challenge you to unplug for just a little while. Emails can wait, Snapchat stories don’t always have to be viewed, notifications won’t disappear by tomorrow or an hour from now, you’ve already missed millions of Instagram photos so you might as well miss a few more.

Unplug. Close your eyes and breathe. Or open them and breathe. Take in life — true, real, raw, in-your-face life, not life behind a screen. Just for awhile.

Social media is not the root of all evil. It’s just a tool that can be too distracting, too draining, too overwhelming for goodness in your life. Don’t let it have control, don’t let it win. Don’t let it have control over the way you spend your hours every single day. You’ve got this, I believe in you.

 

Put your phone down, pick up a book or write your dang paper or go for a run or bake something.

And then send me a Snapchat of your progress, and post a photo to Instagram.

(juuuuust kidding).

for you on a stressful day

1)

Hey you,

You, who are stressing,
You, who are hurting,
You, who are exhausted,
You, who are overwhelmed,
You, who are lost and confused and worried and feeling broken and eight hundred shades of crazy today,

I want to apologize for the world that has overwhelmed you — and I know, I know; it’s not my job to apologize for that and we should all work a little harder to not say “sorry” when it’s not our fault. But today, I do, I do need to say it. Over and over and over. And I will carry the weight of the world for you today.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry, friends, brothers, mom and dad, sisters, strangers, self.
I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain that even walking isn’t an easy action anymore.
I’m sorry that being sick has become an old friend, constantly present.
I’m sorry that you feel guilty for letting people down, not following through, never feeling accomplished.
I’m sorry that exhaustion floods your body no matter how much rest you get, like receiving a giant beautifully wrapped gift with nothing inside.
I’m sorry that people don’t seem to understand a lot of the time; they try to relate, they try to empathize, but they can’t.
I’m sorry you feel lost and alone, even sometimes in the presence of the people who know you most.
I’m sorry that it seems no one has an answer when you desperately need even just one word of comfort, and it seems that everyone has a million words of advice to shove down your throat when all you need is a pair of arms around your shoulders and a whole lot of silence.
I’m sorry that it feels like we are chained to reputations and to-do lists and that evil liar of a voice that says “you’re not doing enough; you are not enough.”
I’m sorry that you can’t see yourself the way other people do – like photo filters, they see the highlights, while you only see the shadows. I’m sorry that your beauty doesn’t ricochet off the mirror when you stare into it, hitting you in the face with the reminder that you are a striking, captivating, perfectly crafted being, created in imago dei – the Image of God.
I’m sorry that we make each other mad with our differing opinions and decisions. I’m sorry that conflict exists because if it were up to me, there’d be none. Because it hurts, a lot.
I’m sorry that no one can make these hard decisions for you. I’m sorry that no matter how much wisdom and guidance you seek, you still feel in the dark about what to do, and the only decision you want to make is to climb into bed with a good book and a steaming mug of something comforting, but the world is calling – expectations scream your name – and you are expected to answer.
Expectations. I’m sorry that we’ve all let these taint our views of life. I’m sorry that I expect so much out of you all the time; I’m sorry that I can’t reach your expectations of me all the time. I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry that I’m not the person you need me to be sometimes, and I’m sorry that you feel inadequate too sometimes.
I’m sorry that school, work, and people expect you to move mountains every single day. It doesn’t seem like anyone remembers that we are all fragile little humans with cracked, bruised hearts that need to be cared for a little more. And work and school sometimes just feel like places that have forgotten what it means to be a human, and what it means to be a human who hurts who also takes care of other hurting humans.

As silly as it sounds, I think if you and I were sitting down over coffee right now and we had both subconsciously taken off our armor of small-talk in order to have a real conversation, the first thing I would ask you would be, “Do you feel human right now? Or do you feel like a walking conveyor belt of generic responses to generic questions, spitting out the right answers, and throwing away raw emotions and vulnerability like they were the broken parts instead of the truest things about you?”
And you might look at me like I’m an alien, but that’s okay. Because I’d rather try to ask the ridiculous questions than let them sit and scald my heart.

I’m sorry for a lot of things that I can’t fix. And I’m sorry I can’t fix them, because if I could, I promise you that I would. So here I am; I’m just here, typing these words, reminding and relating to the things that are weighing us all down. And now what? What happens now? We have these things to deal with, and sometimes it feels like so much and we feel so incapable and too exhausted to face them. So then what? Ask yourself that today: then what?

There’s no ribbon to tie these thoughts all together, because there’s no ribbon to tie this life all together; at least not yet. But we have hope for that.
And I have hope that your pain will subside.
I have hope that your stress and exhaustion will finally be overcome by eucharisteo – joy and grace and thanksgiving – and peace and trust. It will always be a struggle, but I know that the light overcomes the darkness.
I have hope that these seasons of being overwhelmed will give way to seasons of abundant blessings and sometimes fearsome blessings and sometimes blessings-in-disguise and the ability to look back on these times and say, “Oh yeah; that was a blessing. And that, remember that? A blessing, also. And that – that darkest moment where it felt like not a drop of hope could be found anywhere – it led to this. And that is a blessing.”
And I have hope that we will all wake up soon and realize that we need emotional self-care as much – if not more – as physical self-care. I have hope that we all remember to take some mornings nice and slow, turn off our phones, crack open an old book, underline some good passages, write our thoughts down, and let our minds slow down for a while.
And I have hope that your expectations and your to-do lists and your worries and your fears and your anxieties and your temptations will be shattered and destroyed and buried. Because this is true: you’re currently in a battle and you’re fit for the fight, but the fight is not easy. It’s absolutely exhausting, at times terrifying. But do you know what fighting means? It means you’re not giving up. Not giving in. You know the end result; with the help you’ve been given, you will win. Don’t give up.
And I have hope that our hurting, broken hearts will be renewed and we will feel beautiful; we will be reminded of the beauty that has been there all along.

Keep fighting.

the year of open palms

We rang in the new year with sushi, card games, sparkling cider, and a marathon of The Office. And when the clock struck midnight, I breathed normally but the metaphorical lungs inside my head let out an enormous sigh of relief. Because 2014 had felt like a lifetime in itself; so many ups, and so many downs.

And even though it’s just a passing of intangible time and we’re all still basically the same at 12:01am on January 1, 2015 as we were at 11:59pm on December 31, 2014, it feels like such a giant leap. I still can’t decide if I like that feeling or not.

Here we are, five days into 2015, and resolutions and goals and new habits are being formed and broken as you read this. Frustration is already present because some thought this would finally be the year that everything would be different, but it turned out to be exactly the same as all of the other new years of disappointment and frustration. Time can do a lot of things, but it cannot perform your goals. [sorry, the cynic in me is showing].

I’ve been thinking about resolutions and goals and hopes for this year. This year, 2015, holds so much potential for big changes, but when I think about it too much, it just makes me want to crawl underneath my giant fuzzy blanket and lay on my couch for the whole year. Because it’s overwhelming to plan out your life by yourself. Too much pressure, I think. And then I remember something. I’m glad I don’t have to do that, and that someone else has it taken care of. I just get to see it unfold as I follow where He leads.

And so, I’ve deemed this year — and hopefully every year following — as the year of open palms. Unclenching my fists, letting go of all the control I’ve tried to gather in my feeble little hands, and lifting my hands up to the one who holds everything. If His hands are bigger, stronger, more powerful and loving and good than mine, why would I try to hold my life in my own hands?

Thinking about this idea of open palms reminded me of a conversation that I had in the spring of last year.

“Hold your hands open, palms up. Hang onto blessings loosely. The only things that should be grasped onto oh-so-tight are Jesus, and the man you make a promise to on a Saturday morning — I know how much you want a morning wedding –, wearing a white dress, as he slips a ring onto your finger. Other than that, everything else this world has to offer you should be held gently, loosely, able to slip through your fingers when its time to leave has come.”

Her face shines. Her eyes sparkle when she talks, and they squint when she smiles big, her dimples spreading across her cheeks. She is one of the most stunning people I’ve ever met, and not because she spends hours in front of a mirror with all of the latest tricks and tips for outer beauty. Her inner joy and light shine right out of her skin, giving her a glow that could never come from any sort of man-made beauty concoction.

She is wise beyond her years. She holds onto truth and grace more than most. She gives advice, but not in a way that says “Let me tell you how to live your life because you are stupid and immature.” No, instead she says “Here’s what I’ve learned to be true during my struggles that I still continue with. Let me share what I know about our Savior, so you can find freedom in this life too.”

When Jess and I get together and bear our souls to each other over steaming cups of coffee, we often get on the subject of action: doing, doing, doing in this world. Endless opportunities. Job openings. Mission trip offers. Class commitments. Organization meetings. Coffee and lunch dates with strangers and best friends. Internship possibilities. Career goals. Networking. The list is endless. And we’ve found we’re really similar in that we both often taint opportunities with a sickening obligation to them: we HAVE to do this. We MUST. Otherwise…there are negative consequences.

We both have to remind ourselves that obligation has its place, but it should never be what leads us to do the things that we enjoy, the things we love. Loving Jesus is not an obligation; it should just be the best thing ever because he’s Jesus, this radical, whimsical Savior who wants us, and we desperately need him.

Getting hit left and right with opportunities can be so exciting, but it also means that some commitments that have been crusted over with obligation are now things to let go of. When we keep our hands open and loose, we have less of a chance of locking ourselves up in guilt when we decide to end a commitment. We have less of a chance of being heartbroken when someone waves goodbye and heads on out the door of our life. Keeping our hands open means that we are willing and able and ready and ecstatic to accept any blessing thrown our way, and keep it for however long Jesus has intended, whether that’s a few months, a few years, or an entire lifetime. That’s an important part of the story to remember — we’re not closing ourselves off to intimate relationships, to deep-down messy work, to life-changing opportunities. Our hands are open. We are ready for those things.

When a blessing falls from above into our open palms, we grasp it, and take advantage of the time that the blessing is in our hands. We work hard at the job. We invest in that person with all our might, showing love and grace and truth and serving them as best as we can, because that’s what Jesus did. We dedicate time and effort to whatever has been given to us.

And then, when the time is over and the blessing falls gracefully out of our hands or it’s time to pass it over to someone else’s readily open hands, our thankfulness for the time that was had overpowers the negative emotions of guilt for letting it go, heartbreak for wanting to hold on forever, sadness that it’s over. We may still feel those things, but living with open palms allows us the freedom to realize that our greatest reward and treasure lies beyond this life. Nothing that this world can offer us will be greater than that, so we are free to watch blessings come and go, give much and receive little, put others first, show grace to those who have never seen it, love and serve those who’ve never been served before. Open palms mean strong, courageous hands that are secure enough to not hold onto a fleeting moment or thing or person for dear life, believing that those things can save us.

By opening my palms and giving my life completely to Jesus, I’m free to simply walk in his footsteps and allow His will for my life to overwhelm my worries and anxieties. Sure, I can continue to stress about how to best use my time this spring as I take a break from school and emotionally recharge, and I can worry about my summer plans, and overthink where I should be in the fall and what I should be studying, but what good does that do me? Has it not been said that worrying only robs you of what could be your present excitement and happiness?

Now, don’t get me wrong; we’re all human. I’m human. I will still worry and stress over a lot this year. I will probably try to clench my fists again, desperately seeking control. But when I start to overwhelm myself with scattered thoughts and anxieties, I hope and pray that I remember to open my hands, as a symbol of letting all of that go. God’s plans for my life will always be so much more fulfilling than anything I could plan for myself, so I am incredibly excited to see what unfolds this year.

I hope that you are able to open your palms a little bit too, and allow peace and contentment to flood your life, instead of stress and anxiety. Sometimes it feels impossible to do that, but His peace is always there for the taking.

Open palms. Allow God to be in control of your life, and let him lead you. Accept blessings from Him graciously; but hold them loosely because those things will not save you; they only point to the one who can.

happiest new year to you,

claire

even Mother Teresa had boundaries

I want to tell you something that someone very wise told me this morning.

mother teresa

Even Mother Teresa had boundaries.

The renowned, completely selfless and wise, loving, hardworking, humble, mind-blowing little lady who shook up the world.

Even she built up strong walls against harmful things and people.

Even she armed herself well to defend her mind, heart, and body from what and who were ready and waiting to destroy her.

Even she protected herself from wasting time and wasting energy on the people who would keep her from loving others in the ways she knew best. So did Jesus.

No guilt or shame in that.

Even Mother Teresa had boundaries. Even Jesus had boundaries.

I say this to myself over and over today, on this sunny day that I wish was cloudy to mirror my mood. Sunny days should not be spent feeling sick and mulling over who has control over my emotions. I wish this sunny day held only joyful things, not the slow process of beginning to build my boundaries.

But, even Mother Teresa had them.

I want to shake the world like she did. I must need them too.

I want to believe that Mother Teresa had emotional, restless nights that held hands with long, exhausting mornings. I want to believe she had nights where she stayed up fighting with herself and praying with every fiber of her being for the discernment needed to build up the right boundaries and break down the wrong ones. I like to picture her as a young woman, sitting at a table surrounded by older, wiser people, receiving and soaking up what they all say to her as she fights battles inside herself and with others. Maybe she’s like me during these moments, staring at the ground as she takes in every word of wisdom – wishing they would stop talking because it hurts and at the same time never wanting the wisdom to end because it feels good to hear others say “Hey, me too. I’ve been there, and here’s how I made it through.” Wise words have this tendency to cut and heal at the same time. Like loosening chains after so long. The metal has festered and embedded itself into bloody wrists and ankles. It hurts so much for the chains to kiss skin goodbye – the pain too much to handle – feeling lightheaded. Ouch. No. Stop.

And then all at once, freedom. You’re free.

Just like Mother Teresa probably did, let the wisdom from trustworthy people overtake you, cut your chains, and give you discernment to carry your bricks to the right places and build those boundaries.

And boundaries mean so many things.

Guard your heart against the people who make it ache. And I’m sure you know what I mean by that. If you’re a human being, you know how capable we are of heartache.

Build boundaries against the people who try to break your heart – in the careless kind of way. I’ve said it before: your heart breaking open is not a bad thing always – but letting the wrong people break it apart will always leave you with the “what-just-happened-help-me-I’m-bleeding” feeling.

Don’t give people that power. Guard your heart, build a boundary.

Build your boundaries against time thieves.

I need this reminder today: Facebook will never comfort me. Instagram can never save me. Social media will never fill me up, it will only drain me until there’s nothing left. Reading or creating or discovering or learning or traveling or staring into someone else’s eyes can and should never be replaced by screens and little boxed messages and hopes for a certain amount of “likes.”

Limit the time you spend with these thieves. And also limit the time you spend trying to achieve what you hope will save you. Because it won’t, I promise. Your grades won’t save you. Awards won’t save you. Ribbons won’t save you. Titles won’t save you. Don’t let that steal your life away. Guard yourself.

Build your boundaries especially strong against those who only want you for favors and granting wishes and then secretly naming you their whipping boy. They’ll draw you in with promises of good times, jokes, and laughter and their hook will be caught in your mouth the moment you realize what fun you can have together. But the glamour will fade, the polish will chip, the glitter will fall off, and you’ll be left anxiously filling your hands with pieces and handfuls but not a whole. Glimpses but not the portrait. You’ll be left muttering “sorry” more times than you can count for nothing that you did wrong, and yet you’ll still feel like everything is your fault.

And once this has happened, it will take a painfully long time to trust people again, as dramatic and cliché as it is to admit. I don’t mean for this to sound like you are a victim if you find yourself in a situation like this. It doesn’t mean you have to play victim – please don’t. But if you do find yourself in this role, throw down your script, yell “I quit!” and head out of that little production.

And go build your boundaries high and strong against these people that want to tear you down.

Because if you’re searching for friendship that is all the right kinds of messy, that’s not it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it is, either. Don’t try to reassure yourself or force yourself to believe it. Just go.

And I’m telling you right now, you may feel sixty-seven shades and textures of lonely. I said it before, I’ll say it again: the ache is the worst. And you may cry and scream and yell at the sky, “Hey! You! Are you there? Please change this, it hurts too much and it’s not fair.”

And you’ll have days where sitting in your favorite coffee shop feels like a chore, and doing schoolwork feels like torture, because you can’t stop thinking about the lack of alerts on your phone and the empty weekends in your planner, the days that used to be full of color with all the reminders of parties and get-togethers. No longer.

And that’s okay. Or it will be someday. Because eventually your heart will agree with the rest of you that being lonely is better than being chained to someone who kills your spirit, weakens you, pulls you down, empties you of everything you have to give — whether they’re aware they do this to you or not. And eventually you will find people to fill the holes better than any friends have in the past – you’ll find the people who build you up, give you trust and loyalty, make you feel fully loved and needed, remind you of the truth, give you grace.

Let me tell you what I don’t think boundaries are. They’re not sticking a mask onto your face. Don’t stuff your emotions under a cover and call it good. Because like an untreated wound, it will spread and show through sooner or later. And then what? How do you deal with it then?

And boundaries don’t mean color coding and labeling people in your head — ‘the blue ones I love, the red ones I hate.’ Don’t let boundaries equate to creating enemies. It doesn’t have to be that way.

And boundaries don’t mean running away. Don’t run if that’s not what you’re meant to do. Stand your ground; stand firm in who you are and what you know to be true. Boundaries are not an excuse to run in fear.

Boundaries confidently declare, “I love my God enough to show you grace and kindness like He has shown me, but I also love myself enough to know that this is unhealthy for me. For my own sanity, distance is necessary.”

Boundaries shout, “”I love myself enough to know that I’m worth more than these current circumstances, but I love my God enough to choose to love his people instead of deciding to hate them for the rest of my life.”

Boundaries state, “I’ve forgiven you. And it’s time for me to be on my way.”

And if you’re called self-righteous for saying these things, that’s okay.

If you’re called a bad friend, that’s okay.

If you cause pain in the midst of this process, that’s okay.

If you get sad, that’s okay.

If you grow lonely, that’s okay.

If your heart aches from all the lost possibilities and unchecked boxes on lists, that’s okay.

Forgiveness. Distance. They can be true and right at the exact same time.

If you’ve built strong, healthy boundaries that allow you to love yourself, love others, and love God, then you’ve done well.

Because even Mother Teresa had boundaries.

little reminders

tree

Hi. Hello. It’s been quite a while.

I didn’t forget about you, or this page, I promise. Someone asked me a few weeks ago why I stopped blogging.
I haven’t stopped – at least, not in my head or in my secret file on my computer.
It’s just that this crazy thing called life sometimes steals us away from simply sitting down at our desks or favorite coffee shops to bleed out onto pages all of the things we wish were easy to say while looking into someone’s eyes.

Anyways.

Here I am, and here you are, and today I really wanted to paint a list of little reminders for you. Articles and blog posts of lists seem to be a popular thing nowadays; they allow for easier skimming of a page, yeah? My list doesn’t exactly have a little bow that ties all of the points together — 15 ways to get the boy; 23 reasons why college is the best; 8 things you need for your first apartment. No, my list is random and in no way complete; it’s just a rundown of thoughts on my mind today, reminders that I need and maybe that you need as well.

  1. You don’t have to be sorry for breathing in a bit of oxygen, taking up some space on the sidewalk or the bus, being the one that someone else runs into, asking questions. You just don’t. None of those are reasons to utter that toxic two-syllable word. It is toxic, you understand. It’ll plant itself in your mouth to attack whenever it wants if you let it. Don’t let it. Don’t be sorry for things you don’t have to be sorry for.
  2. Confidence — oh yeah, that thing. That thing that so many people seem to have lost. It’s like a little piece of a dandelion that starts to fly away and you have to try your hardest to focus on it and catch it. It may take you more than a few tries to finally grasp it between your fingers, and once you do, you don’t ever want to let it go. Promise me you’ll try hard not to let it go and then let me know how you finally grabbed hold of it for good.
  3. When your body feels out of whack, just go work out. I promise you’ll feel better after that than after spending four hours on the couch eating goldfish and watching The Office (I mean, what? Who does that? Ha…haha…)
  4. Life is not a weighing device, a balance that catches everything on one of two sides and convicts you to fill the other to keep it balanced — asking the same amount of questions in a conversation, splitting bills, taking turns doing whatever. Those are sometimes important pieces, but that is not life. Let him spoil you and pay for everything and don’t feel guilty about it. Let your friend spill her heart out to you and don’t be mad or hold a grudge that she didn’t let you do the same this time; she needed that today. Life is not always a balance.
  5. Some days you will just need to eat six bagels and not destroy yourself over it. It’s okay – move on.
  6. Some days you will feel like not doing your schoolwork. And to that I say, only if nothing is due today, skip it and go do something to make yourself feel worth. Because not much worth is found in doing the day-to-day tasks of schoolwork. And it’s lame that that has to take up so much time of all of the young people’s lives. And that’s why I’ve vowed to try and not let grades and my GPA and my success inside of this institution define me, because this college-Claire could very well be the dullest facet of who I am, and to let yourself be defined by the thing/time/place that makes you feel least alive could be the worst betrayal against yourself that you’ll ever know.
  7. Grace is real and grace is good. Do you know the definition of grace? ‘Getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve.’ It’s a crazy, counter-cultural phenomenon, and it is still the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Ask me about grace if you wish; I could go on for days.
  8. Love looks a lot different than anything we initially picture. Love is not just sitting across from someone, dressed to the nines and eating exotic things and having intellectual conversation. Love is not just the flicker of eye contact and the rushed heartbeats and the stolen kisses and the curling of fingers around each other. It can be that, but that’s not all it is. Love could also look like holding your friend at 3am as she sobs over past mistakes. Or looking into someone else’s glistened eyes as tears start to fall from your own and telling them what a wreck you are, and having them reply, “Me too. But I care about you too much to let this friendship die. We can do this together.” Or wishing someone would stop asking you questions because it hurts to have someone care that much, but they keep asking anyways, and eventually you get to a point where it doesn’t hurt and instead you realize that love is dancing around the whole conversation. And Love above all can look like a half-assed, exhausted prayer, mouthed silently while you’re lying on the floor, and having that EXACT prayer answered 3 hours later, when the song you prayed to hear that day was played at church. Having your heart pierced and broken open – not broken apart; that is love. A sometimes uncomfortable, radical, “what the heck?” sort of thing, but love nonetheless.
  9. Coffee – make that your friend. It opens doors to a lot of other friendships too – not even kidding, I have like twelve barista friends now thanks to all of my time spent in coffee shops. I guess tea works too, but not even tea can trump the awesomeness that is coffee.
  10. And then sometimes coffee can become an enemy – and I don’t mean that in a dramatic sort of way. I just mean that sometimes when people ask you to coffee, it’s the spark that will ignite something more. And sometimes when people ask you if you’re available to get coffee, you just know that it is different. It’s not to continue something, it’s to end something. To wrap it up with a tattered ribbon, to move on with bright, flashing memories still inside your head. Maybe I only speak from watching too many movies or maybe I speak from past experiences, but either way, I think you understand the truth in this.
  11. Ladies, if that guy is not giving you all of his attention, just move the heck along. Easier said than done, I know, but you deserve to be “pined over,” as a good friend once told me. If that boy is not pining for you all day every day, time to say “adios,” and keep on rolling with your good life. ‘Cause you will be just fine without that one dragging you down, causing you to check that silly little phone of yours eighty-seven times a day.
  12. And speaking of checking your phone, STOP. Put that thing down for a bit. Take in everything around you. Those texts will be there in an hour. People twenty years ago went on with their days just fine without sending and replying to a hundred instant messages. And I need this reminder more than anyone I know: a lack of response over text usually, usually, usually MOST LIKELY means nothing bad. Hop over that hurdle and keep moving with your lovely day.
  13. Learn to say no when you need to. That’s a tough one, but essential in order to keep your sanity.
  14. Don’t feel like you have to compete with others around you; we have all been created to handle different amounts and different types of loads. Just because your best friend has four majors and two minors doesn’t mean you need to too; just because your boyfriend works two jobs and plays six sports doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty for your ‘lesser’ load. It’s not less; it’s yours and that’s just fine.
  15. Girls, remember that thrill you got when you had your nails painted when you were little? That thrill is still there; go paint your nails. It’s so fun.
  16. Take that advice from Ratatouille – “Anyone can cook” – and go cook yourself something fancy. That’s also very fun.
  17. Trust your intuition and your initial reactions more; if you feel like something is wrong initially, don’t ignore that.
  18. Friends, don’t feel inadequate if your life doesn’t look like all the articles you read online – forty places you have to go, sixty things you have to do, why you can’t stay in the same place for too long, ten dates you need to go on…Those are not you. You have your story and you already have the one who penned it; you don’t need Internet articles telling you how to orchestrate the rest of your twenties, or where you’ll live for the next ten years. Don’t let all of that make you feel less of a person.
  19. Speaking of personhood, YES you are a living, breathing, real human being. The other night I was sitting on a rooftop with a friend and told him that often I don’t feel like a human being – he said that’s rather normal. My mom once said that at the age I am now, she still had barely noticed she was breathing and alive. I feel ya, mom. But yes, we are all human beings. And we are all breathing and living. The question now stands: what are you going to do with that?
  20. Movies to watch when you’re feeling all sappy and emotional: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and classic Disney movies like Robin Hood, The Sword in the Stone, Sleeping  Beauty, The Aristocats.
  21. If you’re an INFP like I am, you’ll understand that writing is so much easier than vocalizing thoughts. And sometimes I feel like my writing voice is completely and utterly different than the way I speak, and then that makes me feel like a fraud with my writing. But this isn’t true. I’m still me. Writing is just a more natural way for me to throw out some pretty words. If you feel like that, don’t fret. You’re all good. Keep writing and keep speaking; they’ll bring out different shades of who you are, not different people entirely.
  22. Here’s my last reminder of today: You’re here. Yes, you’re alive and breathing, but that’s not all you are. You are full of sparks and overflowing with colors and hues that make you up and that is so breathtaking. You are all the poetry that could ever come from my little fingers typing across this big keyboard. Life is so overwhelming and giant and scary and thrilling, but don’t let it keep you from reaching your highest potential. Don’t let anything get in the way of who you have been created to be and what you have been created to do. You are lovely; you are worthy; you are desirable; you are loved; you are needed and wanted; you are cared for. And don’t shy away from this sappiness – take it all in.

That’s all from me today.

In the words of Mr. Magorium, “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

—claire

to the girl who looked more at her phone than into his eyes

To the girl who looked more at her phone than into her boyfriend’s eyes,

Surprise! You’ve been caught. I saw you. Not. Even. Once. Not even once did you look into your boyfriend’s beautifully colored eyes as you sat with him on that black leather couch in the corner of the coffee shop. I was sitting twenty feet away, my nose buried in my book, and I still saw more of his eyes than you did.

Why?

Because you were too busy staring down at a little box in your hand, swiping through other people’s lives on social media. You were too preoccupied with SnapChats, texts, and pictures to look him right in his face and have a genuine conversation. I legitimately watched as he sat across from you, waiting for you to finish sending a duck-face to someone on SnapChat. Not even kidding. You can’t deny it. I saw you.

Your phone can wait. Those messages can wait. The alerts, the notifications, the questions unanswered; those can all wait. Your boyfriend, sitting across the couch from you, is a person. He is a human being. I am sure he is patient, but he will not wait forever. He deserves to be treated with more respect than what you were showing him this afternoon. Whether intentionally or not, by sitting on your phone instead of looking him in the eyes, you told him that he’s not worth focusing on, even for a few minutes. He’s just background noise. He’s just an accessory in your afternoon excursions. He’s just your method of payment for your outings (ziiiiing. Oh yes I did).

How clear do I have to say it for you to understand that human, face-to-face interaction and relationships are infinitely better than hiding behind a phone for all of your conversation? A phone will never decode you the way another human being can. A phone will never look into your eyes a thousand different ways, and help you begin to understand every look, every flick of movement, every subtle eyebrow raise and lip twitch. A phone will never pay for your coffee or let you pay for theirs. A phone will never embrace you, introduce you to friends and family members, give you a firm handshake or a kiss on the cheek. A phone will never gently drop a present into your hands, surprise you with an act of kindness, jump on your back, share food with you, cry on your shoulder. A phone will never let you decode it; it wants to stay complicated — that’s how it draws you in. Unlike a person, who desires to be known, decoded, understood in the deepest, darkest crevices of their being.

But hey, maybe I’m being too judgmental. Maybe you two are at a point in your relationship where you’re both okay not knowing any more about each other and actually prefer to hide behind phones to avoid eye contact and relational intimacy and secret-telling and staring contests and watching smile lines appear and sharing looks and talking about things that can only be said away from the grips of social media and technology, and all the beautiful things that come along with getting to know another human being.

If that’s the case — if you two really are okay with letting phones be a barrier between you — then by all means, no need for me to keep writing. I guess you don’t mind all the things you’re missing while you’re sitting there, scrolling and texting and double-tapping pictures of other people’s lives happening right before your eyes.

I have made the challenge for myself not to use social media or my phone when I am in the presence of other people unless it is an emergency. It is a privilege and a joy and a blessing to be surrounded by the people who are in my life, and I am completely disrespecting them when I tell them through my actions that they are less important than the device in my hand. No longer.

I want to know you. You! Yes, you. I want to know what makes you sparkle, what makes you angry; I want to know the things that make you cry hardest, and your favorite passages in your favorite books. I want to know why your fingers move the way they do, and what all of your eye movements mean. I want to know what your half smile is trying to secretly convey to me, and I want to know where you want to go in this life. I want to know what you want to name your kids, and what you do in your spare time. I want to know your favorite kind of cookie, and what your go-to film is. I want to know what and whom you love, and how you got your scars.

I will never know these things if I am always on my phone. You are more important than my phone, and I want you to know that.

So, dear girl who stared at her phone and never looked her boyfriend in the eyes,

I hope someday soon, you realize what a terrible habit we’ve all developed, and I hope you’ll join me in this challenge to respect human beings a little more. Your phone can wait. Relationships and friendships and acquaintanceships are budding everywhere you look and are ready, ready, ready to be ignited. Let’s get out of the world of our phones and jump into some of that real life stuff that we’ve all seem to forgotten about.

–claire

Choosing Celebration — Being Okay with Being Okay

This past spring, a wise lady named Hannah Brencher replied to an email I had sent her. [[If you don’t know Hannah, you should check out her blog and her social movement, More Love Letters. She’s ah-mazing]] In response to my angst-ridden message about feeling blue, restless, and overcome with intangible negative feelings, she responded:

“Dearest Claire, I just feel this strong itch inside of me to tell you– with no ruffles and no frills– that you’re doing okay. You’re okay. You’re okay. I think the culture we live in has this tendency to tell us that we either need to be sky high or rock bottom but there is a middle ground we don’t talk about much. And we don’t ever romanticize it when maybe it is the thing we should learn to romanticize more. There is something beautiful, something enviable, about being okay. And being good with the world. And trying our best to just fall in love with the pieces around us. So for the moment I think you need to know, more than anything, that you’re okay. And life is good. And you woke up today. And there are blessings sitting in your hands.”

I keep this email in my Starred folder, painted golden, with imaginary flashing lights around it — not only because it’s my very own, precious and beautiful message from one of my favorite bloggers, but it’s because she sent me one of the truest truths I’ve ever heard in my life — a bit of a slap in the face when I first read it three months ago, albeit; but a necessary slap in the face. *slap* Claire! Wake up! You’re okay. You’re okay. Look at the life you live. Look at the blessings around you. Look who you have the pleasure of doing life with. You’re alright; you’re okay.

 

Even before I received this email from Hannah, I’ve definitely had this feeling that our society distinctly highlights two kinds of people: those who are millionaires in any sense of the word – financially, intellectually, socially -, and those who are knee-deep in the dirtiest of the dirt, finding their way out of all sorts of bad situations.

[[Hear me out: I don’t think that giving recognition to the people who are in these two categories is bad; in fact, I think it’s fantastic to make a point of recognizing the top contributors of our world for their hard work, and recognizing the most broken and hurting among us so we can help them. In no way am I trying to undermine the people who are in one of these stages of life at the moment.]]

In the same breath, though, for those of us who don’t fit into either category at this point in our lives, we look from the sidelines and think “There must be something utterly wrong with me. I’m boring; I’m mundane. I’m in the middle ground. I haven’t been awarded top honors, and I’m not going through a dark valley. I’m…okay.” Being okay and good with life is suddenly the wrong place to be; you either have to be on top of the world or the one with all of the struggles piled onto your back. If you’re not in either of those positions, you’re not worth anything.  You have no story to tell, wisdom to share, reason to ask for help. Being okay is all the sudden uncool.

*buzzer* Wrong!

I would like to say, with my little mouth and my little voice and my giant laptop, that it is absolutely okay to be okay. And “okay” in this sense doesn’t mean “I’m just barely clawing my way through the dirt of life.” “Okay” here means “This life thing makes a little more sense to me. I don’t have it all together, but I see the blessings and I see the opportunities and I’m loving the way that I wake up every morning and get to do it all over again. I’ve got this.” If you can relate to that definition in one sense or another but have been feeling out of sorts lately, I’d like to step out on a limb like Hannah did for me and tell you that I think you’re doing okay. You’re okay, dear reader. And it’s okay to be okay, to stand tall on this middle ground and stake your claim.

And here in this middle ground we don’t often get fireworks just for walking in a room, nor do we get looked upon with pity or immense sympathy for our dire circumstances. We’re just here. We’re just living and breathing and doing stuff — good stuff, I might add. Here in the middle of the scale, things can feel a little fuzzy sometimes. I think that’s why I thought I was so down in the dumps for all these months when in reality, I’ve been here, I’ve been okay this whole time. I just didn’t realize it until someone reminded me that making myself the center of attention for either positive or negative reasons isn’t the way to get out of the hole I dug for myself. I got out of the hole by realizing that my life and the blessings in it are exactly what I need, and I don’t want to waste anything anymore trying to pick apart the mechanics. Nothing’s broken, it’s just figuring itself out and finding how to run best.

Dear fellow middle-grounders,

Don’t feel guilty when you’re surrounded by people who can’t see the light shining bright in their faces, but you see it more clearly than anything.

Don’t feel like it’s wrong when you choose celebration while everyone else chooses complaints.

Don’t beat yourself up for not doing more, getting more, achieving more than anyone else. That doesn’t mean you’re not doing enough with your time; it means you value your time enough to realize that life is not about beating everyone else. That’s not what it’s about. Let others compete with their own crowd if they must. You’re above it. You don’t need to make life a competition; you know it’s more than that.

I’ll say it again, life is so much more than a competition of who can achieve the most.

Life is all in the details within the big picture, and I think that’s what middle ground, “I’m okay” kind of people are able to see really clearly — the big picture, along with the incredible little blessings thrown around every single day. Life is about all those cliches that everyone secretly likes deep down but won’t be the first to admit it – like pancakes and coffee in the early hours of the morning and sunrise hikes and late-night walks and blasting music in your car and the way your fingers felt curled around his and the belly laughter after a hearty meal and hour-long phone calls and thought-provoking questions and stupid movies and books that make you cry and pictures that make you laugh and adventures that look different than anything you could ever imagine. Everything you’ve ever thought about that comes with the afterthought of “But that’s silly” or “It only happens in the movies” — all of those things — you should add more of those to your life. Not even kidding.

And once you do, you’ll realize that more people than you originally thought are also not fitting into those emotional extremes — sky high or rock bottom. You’re not alone. More people are finding themselves standing in the middle ground — finding out sooner or later that they’re okay, just like I did, just like you did. Life is a little more beautiful on that middle ground than we sometimes give it credit. And once we realize that it’s okay to be right where we are, we can see the beauty of life a little clearer and share it with the next person so they, too, can realize that they’re okay. Those little details of life are the exact things that make us realize that the sustainable middle ground is where we want to be. That’s where you can take deep roots and grow strong. It’s harder to do that when you’re standing on top of the world, or buried too deep under insecurities and doubts and fears.

 

So I used to think that I wasn’t okay because I was letting my feeble, fleeting feelings guide my emotional state all the time. I was listening to the voices of self-obsessed negativity and low self-esteem. But now I know that I’m more than my emotions, those swirling, toxic thoughts of “What am I doing right now? Could I be doing more? What’s wrong with me?”

I don’t base myself or my happiness solely on my present circumstances and feelings. I owe myself more than that.

And not only do I owe myself more than basing my worth and happiness on my emotions, but I also owe it to the people surrounding me to stop flailing around in the “I’m being a dramatic overthinker” water, distancing myself from them, when they’re the ones who are trying to knock some sense into me, telling me that I am worth something, that they want to spend time with me, that I’m not annoying (this is a really big problem that I have; if you want to love me well, please remind me that I don’t annoy you). I’d be a much better friend, daughter, sister, aunt, student, and peer (and someday girlfriend, wife and mom) if I stop aimlessly thrashing around in that pool, climb out, dry myself off, and go find the people that I can serve and love and do life with.

And that’s what we need to do. Instead of getting locked up in our own minds, asking too many questions, getting wrapped and tangled and practically strangling ourselves in our circular thoughts that get us nowhere, we need to jump out and look outward. Look to the people who really are struggling, who really do need our help. Look to the people who want to build relationships with us.

 

So I challenge you to make the decision to see yourself as being okay, right where you are, and romanticizing that, like Hannah suggested.

See every day as a rundown of options, of choices; choosing joy, or choosing sadness; choosing to lock yourself up in the negativity, or choosing to set yourself free to love and live and recognize blessings for what they are.

Choosing a daily outlook should be like choosing your morning coffee drink. It should not be a decision that your emotions have already made for you by the time your alarm goes off.

If you have been stuck in a rut like I have been, you know it’s easy to stay in the hole that you’ve dug for yourself because it gets comfortable down there. But I promise you, it’s a lot prettier up here. You can’t see the sunrise from down there. You can’t enjoy being fully genuine, fully real and fully alive amidst other people from down there. You can’t accept yourself, flaws and all, from down there. You can’t know what it is to be okay from down there.

Trust me, climbing out is a lot easier than you think. So do it. Climb out and come up here. I want to show you what it looks like to live life on this oh-so-beautiful middle ground, my territory for choosing celebration.

 

 

 

[[Note: the phrase “Choosing Celebration” was intentionally inspired from the song “Joy” by Rend Collective Experiment. Look it up, it’s a fantastic song! ]]