Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

I had just graduated college with an English/Creative Writing degree, when I landed a job at one of the largest banks in the United States. It was an entry level teller position, but I fell in love with the company’s core vision. I spent hours reading about what they stood for before my first group interview. They valued their people. They valued their customers. They stood for honesty and integrity. I felt personally drawn to those values and decided I wanted to be a part of that story.

I spent almost four years dedicating my time, my heart, my tears, and my stress to a company I thought would be my long-term career. In that time, I had earned three promotions and was waiting for an opportunity to the next.

When I lost my job, I was the number one Service Manager in the district.

I didn’t realize then losing that career would turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

In the desire to climb the corporate ladder, I had lost track of who I was. I had immersed myself in a culture no where close to that of which I had read about before applying. Every day was full of new stresses, every day was another deadline of sales goals, every day I came home feeling like it wasn’t quite good enough. We had to be the best. I had to be the best. And, I was. But, it came at a cost. The cost of not realizing life is a lot more than a means to an end. If your people are who matters most, then that means valuing who they are before what they can do for you.

I lost my job, and felt as though who I was meant nothing. My success did not matter. My ability to lead a team did not matter. My time did not matter. My honesty did not matter. I was as replaceable as any other person.

But the truth is, nobody is replaceable. Every single one of us has dreams, aspirations, personal triumphs and struggles. Those characteristics make us who we are, influence how we work, and determine our futures. It is the heartbeat inside of us, not the amount we’re getting paid, that makes us strive for more.

I may have lost my job, but that’s all it was. A job. It was doing nothing to better who I was as a person or encourage my heart. Day after day, I came home feeling like I could barely breathe. I was constantly stressed. And I complained about it all the time. The saddest part is, I felt like it was worth it. To be the best. To make the money. To influence others to do the same. In reality, it was harming my personal happiness, my real dreams, and my heart.

Since moving on, I have had countless people tell me how much happier I am. How I’m like a completely different person. I have also had other friends move on from the same company to other avenues only to be told the same thing. Funny isn’t it? How you can be so bought into an certain way of doing things that you forget what matters most.

Managing where I am now, I have the opportunity to hire people based on who they are and the personality they add to our team, instead of how much I think they can sell. I have the privilege to interact with customers and get to know their story because I want to, not because I have to in order to uncover a clue leading to another product sale. It’s still a business, and it’s still necessary to sell things to make a profit. But I get to do it in a way that feels right. My boss genuinely cares about who I am, my well-being. And in turn, I get to care about my employees personal lives in addition to our work relationship.

And, isn’t that what matters to all of us? To be known for who we are. To have the opportunity to do what we do best every day and feel like it matters.

Yesterday, I found out that I got a writing position with a private magazine.

The amount of gratitude I feel is beyond words. I now have the privilege to follow my dream as a writer, on top of already loving what I currently do. The craziest thing is, I never would have ended up here if I had stayed where I was.

I believe God allowed me to lose my job in order to find something so much better. The loss, as hard as it was, was not near as great as what I have gained because of it. Not only for my career path, but my own personal well being.

I am not just as good as the day. I am not the worth of one accomplishment. I am not the product of one promotion. I am not the value of one sale. I am a human being. I am the desires of my heart. I am my dreams. I am my aspirations. I am my hopes for the future. I am whoever God wants me to be.

So, thank you to the individuals responsible for my loss of a job. You gave me my life back.


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I turned twenty-six on Thursday

I remember when I was in high school, I had all these plans about where I’d be at this point in my life. Dreams, really. Naieve notions about how old is old enough for this, that, and the other thing. I realize now I don’t know as much as I thought I did then.

Life isn’t a timeline of should have’s.

I’m not the same person I was last year. I’m not even sure I’m the same person I was a week ago.

I carry with me a lot of the same surface level dreams I did then: Get married. Have a family. Write a book. Travel to Europe. Run a marathon. Be a better person. But, my view of those dreams has changed and adapted over time due to the circumstances I have endured and the people I have encountered. They say, you become who you surround yourself with. I used to be a stubborn enough person to not believe that was true.

Now, I realize people change you slowly, melt you like a candle. Some people are cigarette breaks, others are forest fires. One day you wake up and realize your flame has burnt out. And you have no idea how to get it back.

I’ve learned that subtle compromises often turn into great risks. That first time you choose to be less of who you are for someone else is the first time you lose a piece of your heart. He should ask you about the tattoo on your ankle. Care about the fact someone you loved deeply died for it to be there. He should ask you about the tattoo on your wrist. Ask why you thought God’s grace was so important then. He should ask you about your heart. What makes you come alive. Why writing is so important. Why you haven’t slept with everyone like he has. He should care about loving you the way you love him. And, you shouldn’t have to ask.

I’ve learned that just because you’ve been friends with someone forever, doesn’t mean they will stay. I’ve learned that just because you want to get married and have a family, doesn’t mean you’re ready. I’ve learned that even though you believe in God, doesn’t mean you believe He loves you.

I’ve learned that words really can hurt you. It’s hard to sleep alone, after. Sometimes, you won’t be the friend you thought you were. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Your family will love you even when your friends don’t. It’s okay to cut people out of your life. Music is still beautiful, even without him. You can be angry. You can cry. It’s okay to stay up all night, and call in sick the next day. Retail therapy is okay as long as it’s not your only therapy. Loneliness will either make you run toward hope or into despair. Life is a series of choices. Sometimes, you’ll make the wrong one.

I’ve learned that life is really hard. Often, you fight battles you can’t even see for yourself.

One of my friends recently said, I miss Kari.

I miss her too. In the past couple years, I’ve lost large pieces of who I thought I was.

I hope that twenty-six is about finding her. And not who she used to be, because I don’t think you can ever really go back to who you were. But I want to find who I want to be. The pieces of the girl I miss, transposed by the experiences of the woman I am. To something brighter than where I am right now.

We all have our own demons. And, to clarify, that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for my life or the people and blessings in it. Because I have an amazing family who love me unconditionally, friends that have stood by me through thick and thin, a job that challenges me every day, and a God who chooses to protect me even when I don’t fight for Him. I am blessed beyond measure.

But I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay. And to be honest about it.

I hope in the year to come I am able to share that with each and every one of you out there. May we all be honest with ourselves, and fight for who we are.

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The last words you ever said to me are saved to my phone. Five sentences. Sixty-two words. Eighty-seven syllables. Less than a hundred ways to signify our thousands of days together.

You used to be a constant, and now months pass by without a thought of you.

Standing in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, singing the songs you wrote about me. Something about seashells and adolescent hopes I’ve long ago forgetten. Washed away with the fading memory of what was, what will never be again. The late night Skype sessions, characterized by hours of conversation and a shedding of clothes in our later days. Nothing was ever frightening with you. The familiarity of wrapping up in your arms. The tears you never ran from. The loss you helped me through. Love was what made us work. Unconditionally real, through good times and bad. Bible verses or cuss words. Music or silence.

You were my best friend.

Now, a memory. One that resurfaces when least expected. I’ve never been hit with a ton of bricks, but I imagine the expression signifies the way this feels. I close my eyes, as if the wind has been knocked out me, and it all comes rushing back in. Who you were to me. What conversation meant to us. When everything was different. Where it all began. How loving you felt.

We fell in love at the wrong times, all at once. And I’m so grateful for that. You showed me what it means to truly let someone in. To the deepest parts of your soul. The places that no one wants to expose, but the ones that really matter most. You let me know it’s okay to trust someone down there. And how people can breathe in more understanding than you ever thought possible. You showed me how to love someone for who they are, not who they might be. You loved me in spite of myself, when I least deserved it. We fought for each other, so I fought to let you go.

I now know you can love someone so much it hurts (each other). Sometimes it’s not healthy to keep things forever. Even security blankets are eventually outgrown. And yes, perhaps, the world is at first a little scarier. Sadder. But I learned something in your absence. The ability to stand on my own two feet. To move forward toward new memories and conversations and songs. To love the wrong way. To come home at night bawling without anyone to talk to about it. To move on. To let our past push me into my future.

You said, then, You deserve someone who can play all the roles he’s supposed to.

Three years later, I still don’t know what that looks like. But I want to thank you for showing me a glimpse.

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It’s not about what is actually true; it’s about what you believe to be true.

There will always be a part of me that misses the way it was then.
Then — wherever that is and wherever I dream it might be.
Bare feet soak in the creek, and we speak as if we’re running for our lives.
Every moment could be life or death. You choose and then — it’s over.

I don’t remember the feeling of being in your arms, but I know I felt safe there.
It’s those words you no longer hear from a mouth you’ve forgotten exists.
Then is — memory’s movie in which you know every line.
Then was — when it all made sense. Or, at least, I think it did.

I’ve become disillusioned, the way I’ve let go of pen to paper just because.
Do you think then can be now? Can things you loved be the things you have?
I miss the best conversations resulting after too many drinks.
I miss feeling invincible. I miss not wanting to care.

Then meant believing in men, meant believing in love.
Expectations were exciting, even when they were bound to be broken.
Then was — recklessness and curiousity. Learning who I was, who I wasn’t.
It was the things I did because I knew I shouldn’t.

I see late nights spent staring at a screen, talking to the first one I ever loved.
Then meant not admitting. Then meant running. Then meant pretending.
I have always been okay on my own. Except when it meant being alone.
I see faded lines on softened skin — then was stupidity and sadness.

I miss friends and family in one place, merging until friends became a family.
To believe I was the luckiest girl alive. When there was always someone.
And nights turned into mornings and you forgot sleep was needed.
Adrenaline as the drug.

But not all drugs can save a life.
I see her face serene; I see her eyes closed.
I remember never thinking she’d be gone —
monopoly and cut-out cookies mix with laughter and motherly advice.
Some smiles never fade.

Then will — forever live on inside my heart.

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I remember. Two words. The truth.

We’re dancing shadows in the empty parking lot. I see laughter fading into flowers on the horizon. Tears speak goodbyes we’ll wish to say again. The past is melting in our hands, the water too deep to stand. I close my eyes to play it all again.

I remember. Our trip. The moment.

Sleep creeps in as it should, with weary eyes and open mouth. We yawn in correspondance facing each other. You taste like peppermint and beer. I inhale deep from longing, your breath like oxygen. We spend a night beneath the stars; I lie awake wrapped inside your arms.

I remember. A facade. The love.

Outsiders look on with desire desguised as disgust, a world meant only for two. There is candlelit dinners and quiet hikes, indepth conversations and stolen kisses. I become the thing I hate; I become yours. No wonder falling means losing. I lose myself.

I remember. Your face. The almost.

Wishing won’t will us into corresponding puzzle pieces. We are a harmony and melody meant only for one song. Now my voice is out of practice, raspy without words. You sing with new accompainment; I search to find the music again.

I remember. Another one. The cycle.

Lovers come and go like seasons change; I wish for one and then the same. Satisfaction is merely a floating leaf upon the ground. I have yet to find somewhere I long to stay. Someday I’ll dive into water that leaves my skin fresh. Until then, I’ll wait upon the shore.

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In the Review Mirror.

I pull out of the driveway of the house I have lived in for almost my entire life. There is a brand-new feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is unknown and uncombated, I know not how to cope with its influence. My car is in reverse but my life is moving ahead. I realize I will never live there again. The basement room I’ve called my own will now be used for guests, myself included. Future visits will be spent with suitcase in tow. The empty closets have bid me farewell. Gone are weeks and months spent there with nowhere else to go, nowhere else to be. I stare in the “review mirror” as I drive away — leaving behind who I’ve been and where I’ve belonged for so long.

The tears come as they usually do – sprung from a few simple words on the screen, in my ears: You continue to be one of the most amazing people I have ever met. I needed to spend time with you more than you know. The goodbye waves in the driveway they just resonate and a trembling silence fills the air. I have barely left town and already the truth pulls me back – I am missed; I am loved. I drive down the highway through foggy vision. I leave behind pieces, yet take with me memories and the assurance of people who will never let me go. I replay everyday spent through the weekend — running down the streets I’ve grown to love with her, sharing ice cream with friends, laughing until I can’t breathe, riding in his truck talking about life, freezing memories together through a lens, crying as we say goodbye. They say that leaving gets easier with time, but I don’t know how. It is never easy to walk away from the people and the places that you love.

My future awaits in the distant. The horizon signals unforeseen destinations and sings an unfamiliar tune. I look again in the review mirror, wishing for moments that have already gone. I’m stuck in the middle — driving toward possibility and onward from familiarity. I will spend days clicking through photos and listening to somber songs. Transition is only hard when where you’ve been is as important as where you’re going. It hurts because I’ve dared to feel. It aches because I’ve been privileged to love. Nostalgia sets in because I have touched truth and tasted authenticity. I have believed in a place in time; that place molded me into who I am. I have given my heart to people; those people have filled me with things I never even knew I needed.

On my journey, there are the things I take with me: Laughter; the little comments, random conversations, and silly circumstances that bring a smile to my face simply upon remembering their happening. It is the laughter that helps me breathe. Faces; those lights in the middle of this new adventure, reminding me they’re by my side, giving me the courage to believe in myself, because they believe in me. Truth; the words God gives to me everyday through His message and the words of others, renewing my mind and equipping me with strength. Memories; the things I once desired are now among the things I will keep forever, hidden away in my heart for safekeeping. The beautiful thing about memories is they can never be taken from you and there are always more to be made. Tears; for often tears can be happy or sad, yet either is simply a type of cleansing, of healing, of shedding a feeling to make room for another. The tears make me stronger; they help me feel.

I reach my destination and look in the review mirror for the last time. I see sky, and I realize it is the same here, there, and everywhere. We are all connected; we are all people on our own journeys, but we are never alone. For paths cross, intersect, and merge — for moments, for years, forever. There is nothing we leave behind that isn’t a part of where we go. There is nowhere we will go where what we leave behind will not serve to empower us in some way. Our lives are a string of destinations, but they are all connected.

I am where I have never been. Still, I take with me people – for distance only separates as far as one lets it. And I take with me myself – for I am the same person here as there, although my surroundings change, inside I remain the same. Fear of the unknown will never replace my desire to feel, to know, to love. And so, I look ahead.

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There was once a certainty in the unknown — dreams we dreamed without knowing if they’d ever come true. We were bound to be school teachers, firefighters, doctors, and laywers. We believed in what we couldn’t know. We were young and naieve; it was what made us strong. There was no one to tell us “No,” and if they did, we paid them no attention. We were who we were. We were stubborn and headstrong; we were determined and curious. There was once a time that we dreamed dreams because it was all we knew. We did what we wanted, and longed to grow into our imaginations.

They warned us we would wish to be young again. They told us things would change. We only saw certainty in the things we knew then. We couldn’t possibly see the truth in the unknown. They told us we had our whole lives to grow up; they told us to enjoy being young. We didn’t know how to listen. We couldn’t listen. We thought we knew it all. They told us to enjoy it slowly. We only knew how to live fast — too fast.

We were once reckless and free — living in moments we thought would never fade. We acted impulsively, with stupidity and passion. There was no one to stop us; there was no one who could. We ignored the rules and made our own. We stole kisses in the night, pretended they had never happened in the morning. We danced until our legs were bound to break. We crossed locked fences and forgot to sleep. There was laughter and tears; there was tears from the laughter. We held hands and shared hugs, thinking it would never end. We were crazy for youth, oblivious to reality. There was once a world for us, untouched and protected.

They tell us we have to move on. They tell us that we will find others who understand us. We are still stubborn and determined. We tell them we will hold on — forever, even if it kills us. The memories and secrets shared are enough to keep us together. Somewhere along the way we stopped being friends and became a family. We’re growing up, but our hearts are still young. The dreams that we’re dreaming will be shared. Distance is a challenge but not a deal-breaker. There is still a certainty in the unknown, because no matter where life takes we know we’ll still have each other.

They tell us nothing can stay this great. We tell them they’re right — because it can only get better.

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