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Posts Tagged ‘life’

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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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 I’ve written to everyone but you. I know you’ve had to endure too many stories of guys that came before you. I know that it’s not fair. I have strung you along like a yo-yo, up one day and down the next. I don’t deserve you, and I probably never will. For you are the opposite of everything I used to love. You are kind, even when I’ve hurt you. You are comfort, those arms I already miss, the afternoons spent curled up in them lying on your couch. You are laughter, a sure excuse to let go of any bad day and just breath. You are considerate, the desire to make me feel valued. Which you did, always. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I really mattered. My opinions. My hurts. My struggles. My weaknesses. My dreams. You listen with an attention I know is real. You look into my eyes and I know you care. Thank you. For doing that, for being there when I least deserve it. For wading through all the bullshit of my past, to give me hope for a future. Even if it’s without you. You have given me more than you will ever know. Beautiful memories that actually are beautiful, instead of just a imaginative version of what was. I don’t remember the last time I felt so safe. A place to be myself, instead of who I think you might want me to be.

All of this makes letting go of you so very hard. I jokingly said you’d move on before I did. I wish I hadn’t been right. I wish it hadn’t been her. And the hurt and anger I feel stems back to everything that happened before you. The reality of being just an option, instead of the only one. I guess I’ve always loved with my whole heart. It is this flaw that keeps me from moving on. It’s hard to understand when people don’t do the same. I sit at breakfast with another man, and all I can think of is you. I wonder if I’ve just made the biggest mistake. And, I think about all the reasons why. The missing feelings. The uncomfortable nights spent trying to understand what went wrong. The disconnect I wish I never felt. I have to hope I made the right choice, even now as I write this in tears. Is it jealousy? Am I selfishly trying to hold onto you? Is it real? Is it now just making sense?

The reality is, you deserve more than what I gave you. I’ve taken the person I can’t stand, and become him. Someone who can’t commit. Someone who can’t deal with their demons to love the way you should be loved. Someone who wants you, but not enough. And, I’m sorry for that. I wish I could figure things out, give you the answer you deserve instead of this back and forth game we play. I wake up in your bed, and it feels right. I leave your apartment, and it feels like the last time.

I don’t deserve you, not now and maybe not ever. I just hope that she does. I hope she looks in your eyes and feels the same way you do. That she wants to be with you as much as you want to be with her. I hope she appreciates your tender touch, the way you never made it just about you. I hope she does things for you, because she wants to. I hope she meets you half way. I hope she gives you what you deserve. The relationship I never could. And, I promise I’ll try to be supportive. I promise I’ll try not to show you how much it hurts. To see you get everything I always wanted, everything I never gave you.

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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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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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I am

an extensive novel housing
difficult dialogue
hidden secrets
complex character

I am

an epic love craving
honest heart
open trust
pure passion

I am

an energetic song blaring
fantastic feeling
infectious laughter
carefree contentment

I am

an easy evening holding
solemn silence
welcoming arms
lasting loyalty

I am

an entangled woman wanting
real relationship
quality time
mutual risk

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