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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Hey Auntie,
How are you? How’s heaven?

Boy, I sure do miss you. A lot has happened since you left, and I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could just call and talk to you. Or come over to your house so we could play Monopoly and eat potato bread with butter. I’d even be willing to sleep on that old cot next to your bed again. Just to be next to you. Hold your hand till I fall asleep, like I used to when I was little. Have you draw on my back and say, “It’s something that runs across the road…”

Sometimes, if I listen hard enough, I can almost hear you say, “Hey, Kar.” Almost.

I hate that we don’t get to hang out. It’s been almost 10 years and sometimes it still feels like yesterday. Grief is a tricky thing, you know? Life goes on, but at the same time, we’ve all lost something. You were a huge piece of my puzzle, and most days, I can see the whole picture. But some days, the hole is so big I don’t know how to fill it.

Today is one of those days.

There is so much I want to tell you! I’m engaged. His name is Cody, and he came along when I least expected it. Guess that’s what love does, right? Shows up when you think you’ve sworn it off forever — becomes more than you’ve ever hoped for. I know you’d really like him. I think that’s what really gets me, you know? That you’ll never meet him. That he’ll never get to meet you. I have these moments, and he holds me. And all I can think is, this sucks. Two of my favorite people in the whole wide world and they don’t get to meet? How fair is that?

I want you to be at the wedding. I want you to be there when we have kids. I want you to be there to make cut-out cookies with your great nieces and nephews. (Okay, maybe not plurals but you never know! Verdict is still out on that one.) I want you to be here so we can have a glass of wine and really chat about life. I want to go for a walk with you, the way you and my mom used to. I want to take a drive in the hills. Or make a big bowl of popcorn and watch a cheesy Hallmark movie together. I want you to be here so I can hear your voice again – really. And give you a great big hug.

I want you to be here.

God, I wish you were.

It’s hard for me to watch or read anything associated with cancer. Sometimes I cry — at times just a little, other times a lot. It makes me so sad to see that kind of suffering, to be reminded that’s why you’re gone.

But I’m glad you’re with your best friend. I’m sure you guys are up there having a grand old time. And while I have some things I’d still like to do down here (more like a lot) I find comfort in knowing we’ll be together again someday. For God is not a God of destruction — but of hope and of love. He loved us enough to give us that gift, and He loved me enough to give me you.

I feel like I was so young when you died. Of course, at the time I thought I could conquer the world. Graduating high school? I was an adult for sure. But, the truth was, I didn’t know what that all entailed. I had a lot to experience. Places to go. People to meet. Heartaches to have. Growing up to do. Hard lessons to learn. I am far from the girl I was when you were here. But, I have held onto the important parts. Parts like you.

You were the mom I needed, when I didn’t like my own. Which is easy to do when you’re a teenager. You’ll be happy to know my mom is my best friend now. And we miss you together. I wish you and I had the chance to have the same kind of mature, honest, relationship now. But I want you to know you changed my life. And you will forever be that person. My role model. My crying shoulder. My hideaway. You let me be myself, and you were always there for me no matter what. You loved me unconditionally. You loved me like a daughter. You took me places. You made me feel valued. You made me feel special. You helped me believe in myself. You showed me that God should always come first — to have love in order to give love.

I’ll always remember you and Danny’s Bibles sitting open on the kitchen table. You planted seeds in my life, just by being you.

I want to thank you for loving me. For being my Aunt. For being the kind-hearted, caring, person you were. For laughing. For farting. For playing Christmas Trivia in the car. Pretty sure we knew every answer to Carols and Songs. For playing Scrabble with me. For making cut-out cookies with me, even when you were leaving for Christmas. For spending Thanksgivings with us. For your homemade pumpkin pies. For giving me a home away from home. For coming to my piano recitals, choir concerts, soccer games, and track meets. For seeing me off to prom my junior year. For taking me places — calling me on a whim and asking if I wanted to go shopping in Loveland for the weekend or ride with you to Sioux Falls. For playing cards with me. For being that cool Aunt who wanted to hang out with me. No matter how young or uncool I probably was. For taking me to church. For singing me songs. For rubbing my back. For listening. For laughing. For filling my life with happy memories I will never forget.

I love you so very much. And as much as I wish you were here, now and in the future, I am forever grateful for all the time we got to spend together. You made an ever-lasting impact on my life. Who I was, who I became, who I am, and who I have yet to be. I won’t ever forget you. I hope I’m half the woman you were “when I grow up.”

Now you are among the angels, and forever one in my heart.

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A Hearty Cup of 2016

This year was like an exceptional cup of coffee — The fragrant aroma that lends itself to a close your eyes, inhale deep, kind of breath. The bright and lively flavor. The sharp, yet delicate, way each sip dances on your palette.

I got engaged to the love of my life, experienced two job changes, and in the process, was able to get to know “me” better than I ever have.

At the end of each year, it seems people are inclined to do away with the old and focus on what is yet to come. The promise of new beginnings, unknown adventures, hidden opportunities, a clean slate. And while I am excited for what 2017 has to bring, I have learned that every day is a chance to discover something new about yourself, to fall deeper in love, to cherish time with family, and to invest in the friendships you couldn’t live without. Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed by the people I am blessed to know and the opportunities I have been given, it brings me to tears.

That moment I get to look in Cody’s eyes and say, “I can’t even tell you how much I love you.” It’s one of those too good to be true kind of feelings, except it’s never been truer than it is now. Love has never been like this — this real. this vulnerable. this transparent. this joyful. this safe.

We have chosen each other this year — as best friends, partners, and lovers. To be by each other’s side through all of life’s adversities and it’s joys. To accept who we are and who we’ve yet to become. To complement each other as we face this life together. To put each other first and trust in God to guide our future.

I prayed for this my whole life, and often wondered when God was going to deliver. And while it was definitely a lot later than I hoped, I have to say what I have always known to be true — God’s plan is perfect. He reminds me of that every day as I have to continually learn to trust in Him.

I took a leap of faith this fall and transitioned in a job based primarily on commission. It was challenging, emotionally draining, and yet, very rewarding in my quest to discover my passion. I discovered how amazing flexibility and working from home can be, at the same time, had to surrender some of my independence with the loss of a steady income. My brokenness is also my comfort — turns out I can’t do everything alone, as much as I wish I could. And there is a humbleness that comes from not getting to expect what comes next. To trust that God is our Provider. And I have so enjoyed the freedom rest and reflect. It has been such a blessing to spend time on me in the midst of all the changes this year has brought. I look forward to continuing to carve out that solace as I go back to working full time.

My family continues to be my foundation, and while we’ve all experienced some trying times this year, the guarantee we have is always each other. My parents are two of my best friends — the couple Cody and I spend the most time hanging out with. We do “Survivor” nights every Wednesday — watching Survivor when it’s on TV, and always enjoying a meal and a bottle of wine together. It is time I treasure, and am blessed that Cody loves that tradition as much as I do. It’s amazing how the older I get, the closer me and my parents become. Too bad high school me didn’t figure it out sooner — they’re pretty amazing individuals. And my little brother, although he lives in Sioux Falls, is the link that ties us all together. Getting to spend a week together over Christmas was not long enough. It’s hard to say goodbye every time, as I wish he could be here to hang out with on a regular basis. We all have each other’s back. We cry together, laugh together, and face every obstacle as a family.

And my friends — where do I begin? In planning this wedding, it’s been such a joy to ask my nearest and dearest to be a part of our special day. And while they’ve said yes to standing by my side, I really have to thank them, as well as a handful of others, for being there for me for many years past. There is something to be said for people who have seen you at your darkest and believed in you enough to not only help you find your way, but continue to be there no matter how long it takes. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my friends. You are my extended family, my lifeline, my heart.

And so tonight, as I have the privilege to celebrate with some of those friends as we say goodbye to 2016, I will hold all of these things close. To taste the complexity of this past year, the changes that are yet to come, and constants I will carry with me when they do. This is a full and abundant life. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

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This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with things we’re too afraid to say. The memories we’re not supposed to miss, or at least as much as we do. The loves we’ve lost. The regrets we’ve learned from. The dreams that were misplaced somewhere along the way. The lies we tell ourselves and everyone around us. The facade we create to feel better, to feel something.

Everything happens for a reason. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Actions speak louder than words. Ignorance is bliss. Better safe than sorry. It’s not about the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away. Live every day like it’s your last. Laughter is the best medicine. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Life goes on.

Bullshit.

Sometimes, life fucking hurts. It’s not fair. There is no reason to explain why.

Just because you felt something doesn’t mean it was enough.

There is a life size doll sitting in the corner of my room at my parents house, wearing a dress I used to wear when I was little. Most people that see it for the first time think it’s creepy. All I see is Big Doll downstairs at my Aunt Karen’s house. Standing in the corner by the bed I used to sleep on for sleepovers when I was older. The quilt. The space heater. The green and blue coffee trays older than me. All I see is a photo of me dancing in that dress in my Grandmother’s living room. The broken straw hat. The girl with barely any hair. The safety of having two homes beside my own.

This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with what it feels like to lose someone before you should have. Because every day it happens — to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, wives, husbands, friends, and lovers. But don’t worry… life goes on. Or some other incredulous bullshit like that.

Life is just a role that we play.

My God, may we play it well.

Stop worrying about the election, the price of gas, how many likes you have on Instagram, the latest fashions, the weekend, how much money you make, whether or not you have pimples, the latest celebrity gossip, the top of the charts, what people think, what things you have, what you didn’t do, who you should have been.

What if all you had was today?

What role would you play?

Who would you spend it with?

What memories would you make?

There is no guarantee.

Stop acting as if you’re entitled to one.

This has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

This has everything to do with making an effort to be the best version of yourself, day in and day out. To commit yourself to making the people you love a priority. To stop selfishly waiting for someone else to make the first move. To act as if you give a damn. To not allow your fears to control your life. To wake up every morning with a purpose. To believe in God. Or something. Yourself, for starters. To stop feeling entitled to second chances and treating people as though it’s the only shot you got. To tell the truth. To love like crazy. To travel. To stop waiting for tomorrow. To stop planning so god damn much. To put pride aside and be there.

Be present.

It’s all we’ll ever have.

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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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Over 100 people lost their lives today in Paris, France. Over 100 people that were just out trying to live life, enjoy things they love. A stadium. A restaurant. A concert hall. Regular activities for regular people who didn’t know tonight would be their last. My heart goes out to them. Their families. Their friends. Their co-workers. My heart goes out to the entire nation in this treacherous act of terrorism. How many times has this happened in our world’s history? And how many times do we begin to understand why? The answer is none. And it is in these unfathomable circumstances, that you realize life is a lot less complicated than you make it out to be. We are all just people. One human to the next. Trying to live our lives the best way we see fit. And yet, in these moments of injustice, we realize the world is not our own.

Still, we create it out to be. As a twenty-something growing up in modern day America I will admit that we are a selfish generation. We are a generation that thrives out of get it now satisfaction. The tabloids scream that you can have it your way… be as pretty as you want, as rich as you want, as skinny as you want, as tech savvy as you want. Get it now. Feel something. And, if you don’t like it, there will probably be another option on the marketplace shortly. You don’t have to live with your choices for long. We have become a generation capable of buying things because we want them, not because we need them. In turn, we have shaped who we are and how we encounter life.

We feel so entitled to the privilege of choice, we too often forget those choices can be taken away from us.

And, now, for a moment, we remember. Over 100 people lost their lives today in Paris, France. It was not their choice. Somebody else’s, maybe. But the life we so often take for granted can be gone in a blink of an eye.

Then you realize it is not about the get it now lifestyle. Maybe then our lives can become more than a moment of temporary gratification. If we stop for a second, we could see that our problems are often so small in comparison. We have the ability to choose life each and every day. To appreciate the world around us, and everyone in it. There will always be other opportunities out there, other adventures. There will always be another thing to spark your interest, another fad to try. But it is the simplest things that take up the most room in your heart. The people that love us. The people that have gone out of their way to show us we are not alone. The roof over our heads. The food on our plates. The gift of today.

May we live today for all those people who no longer have a tomorrow. May we stop for a moment to think about all the people who have impacted our lives, all the ones near and dear to our hearts. Thank them. Hold onto them. Fight for them. Life is too short to give up on those we love. We think we have all the time in the world, but sometimes, we don’t. These moments remind us time is a gift. One we so often take for granted.

I may only be twenty-six years old, but if I could do a few things over I would. Give more time to the people who have proven they care, and less time to the people who don’t. I would try to remind myself every day that there are no guarantees. I would try to remind myself to embrace every chance I’ve been given. To make life less complicated. To enjoy the simplicity of treasured friends and family, and the moments shared that will never be forgotten. The memories that shape us and carry us through when times are hard.

It is a privilege to be alive. May we make the most of the days we have, so that we leave no regrets for tomorrow.

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I Know It Well.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a reminder for my still fractured heart.

A friend recently told me she still cries, sometimes, when she thinks of her first fiancé. A love that was but wasn’t: enough, whole, right. A happy marriage and two beautiful kids will never erase what once was. For memories are merely wrinkles etched upon your soul. Pieces of a past that will forever influence your present and your future.

There is a place that still belongs to you, at 3 AM when nothing make sense.

A dream for the nights I miss you. That soft voice and steady laugh. Mornings wrapped up in your arms. The way I feel you touch me there. Again. Again. Again. The best I’ve ever had. The worst I’ve ever had. A nightmare for the nights I hate you. The lies you whispered like sweet nothings to disguise the other women in your head, in your bed. I fall back asleep praying to forget you.

There is a place that still belongs to you, a lesson I’m still learning.

A never ending supply of writing material. The book I have yet to write. Someday I’ll plaster you across chapters. Someday I’ll categorize our failures into lovely phrases more constructive than our conversations. I’ll make love to you in words, and in the same breath, I’ll tear you apart syllable by syllable. There are no promises to be made for treating our story with grace. The same way you broke every promise you ever made.

There is a place that will always belong to you, a reminder of what love isn’t.

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Explosions in the sky sounds like you —that easy silence, every breath telling me you felt it too. I hear tears next to memories of all the things we used to do. And, still it calms me. The soft ebb and flow of the chords singing syllables only known to me. And, once to you. Music isn’t the same without you. It’s been years and last week was the first Bon Iver has once again come through my speakers. It doesn’t hurt the way it used to. Just lost, like having a home you no longer know the way back to. Your favorite highway, divided, widened, made public. Nothing is sacred once it’s shared. Never the same the second time, the last time. 
The first time I fell in love I was young, naïve. I’m not sure I even knew what it meant. Different is frightening at 17. Easier to run 700 miles away, pretend reality was only make believe. Love is just a a fairytale until you’re ready.
The last time I fell in love was messy. The way your room feels after a trip. Dirty laundry and unpacked memorabilia strewn across the floor. It’s home, just not clean. You can’t live this way for long, even though you want to. Even though it’s easier to ignore. But love should never be lazy, never feel like a chore.  
Sometimes I think about you, when I’m with him. His tongue moves differently than yours did. He doesn’t know how I like it in bed. Like the time, with the scarf, on the chair. Maybe that’s why you’re meant to be with one person that way. Intimacy is hard to erase. You miss this. Compare that. Start thinking I’m not over it all over again.  
Again, and again. You’re expected to play the game but nobody tells you how many losses you’re going to take when you start. The more I try the less I know. The more I see the less I want to be anything but alone. I’m honest. Too honest. And I’m scared the one person who gets that about me will be the only one who ever will. 10 years and I still want to look to him for advice, for approval, for relief. The pause when nothing else makes sense. He is my late night conversation and my phone call home. The one I think about when I can’t think anymore. Something to hang onto, that song you’ll always remember because of the memories you’ll never forget. Never regret.

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