Others.

“And no, we don’t know where it will lead. We just know there’s something much bigger than any of us here.” –  Steve Jobs

Photo by Joseph Hart

Photo by Joseph Hart

This past weekend was July 4th – my favorite holiday. It’s largely my favorite holiday because of nostalgic memories of how it used to be celebrated in my family. We would make a day of it – burgers, home-made banana ice cream, fireworks – it was magical. While it doesn’t have the same feeling or excitement that it used to, Independence Day is still a holiday I look forward to celebrating.

 

During the fireworks show, the national anthem began to play and I looked around, with tears in my eyes, as everyone around me began to sing. Some sang goofy (and perhaps tipsy), others held their hand to heart, still others whipped out their smart-phones to start recording. Suddenly, there was a community that had formed in that parking lot. A few minutes ago we were all onlookers who didn’t want to pay $8 to watch the fireworks from the stadium, but now we were all in unison singing and smiling (and in my case crying).

It is nice, to celebrate with others in community. People would never ordinarily gather in a parking lot and get to know strangers. People would not normally have neighborhood wide cook outs – at least not in my neighborhood. But on July 4th, people are celebrating, thanking veterans, and putting aside differences to enjoy the day.

There are several traditions that accompany all holidays – this one included. I’m always glad to participate. It makes me remember that I am a part of something larger than just me. It makes me think about how the holiday will be celebrated in future generations. It makes me feel like John Adams would be proud that today it is celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” It reminds me that I am not alone.

I hope, if you are not American, that you can relate to the spirit of this post. I hope, if you are American, that you were able to enjoy the holiday with excitement. I hope you know that you are not alone in your celebration.

Signiture2.0

 

 

Advertisements

Facts.

“Never speak from a place of hate, jealousy, anger, or insecurity. Evaluate your words before you let them leave your lips. Sometimes it’s best to be quiet.” – Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

400774_3794598230604_1976024237_n I watched Inside Out last week. The movie is all about how people deal with their lives through emotions. There are several emotions that come together and decide how a person is made and how they respond. There is one scene where BingBong, an old imaginary friend, comments about the “facts and opinions” getting mixed up and to that  he says, “Don’t worry about that.”

 

The adults in the theater all laughed. There are people who view their opinions as facts, and others who view all facts as opinions. I think we sometimes forget that no matter who you agree or disagree with – they are still people.

Vincent Van Gogh said, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” I would say, there is nothing more truly adventurous either.It’s easy to attack people with different ideas, it is harder to love people with different ideas. With all of the emotions in our heads trying to help us deal with our lives, it is easy to forget that everyone else is trying to figure it out too. I am guilty of being so passionate and ready to share my beliefs that I don’t care about anything else. I love to discuss issues and hear others opinions. I hope that I am able to show that I care for other person, even if I disagree with them. I hope I convey my opinions without using hate, jealousy, anger, or being defensive.

I hope you are able to find a caring community. I hope you feel free to speak your mind, and hear others speak as well. I hope you know that it’s possible and adventurous to care for others, even if you don’t agree with them.

Signiture2.0

Fight.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

IMG_0567I think that life can sometimes feel more bad than good. We look around our seemingly mundane lives at times and we don’t see progress or change happening. We look around our community and read the newspapers and we are reminded that people are dying, stealing, and hurting other people. We grew up reading stories that tell us that good wins over evil but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

It feels hopeless sometimes. It feels hopeless and it is often easy to believe that it is hopeless.

It’s easy to stop fighting for hope when we believe there is none. It’s easy to stop looking at the good things when the bad things seem to outweigh them.

The truth is – there are a lot of bad things in life. There is a lot of injustice. There is a lot of sadness. There are a lot of problems that we don’t understand. I often feel overwhelmed at the amount of need in this world and focus on my limits. I can’t right all of the wrongs in the world – but I can decide to do what I can. I can stand shoulder to shoulder with others who chose to help spread good and end injustice. I can fight for hope that the good will not be beaten by the evil.

Deciding to keep fighting for hope in your seemingly mundane life will be hard. Deciding to keep fighting for hope when we see the community and society around us getting worse will be hard. Deciding to keep fighting for hope will always be worth it.

I hope that you can find the strength to fight for yourself and those around you. I hope you find a community that has the strength to fight for them and for you. I hope when you focus on your limits you are able to remember that you are not the only one fighting.

Signiture2.0

 

 

 

 

P.S. In light of recent events, I wanted to share this blog here, though I originally wrote this for my friends at Kyrie Coffee – an organization that is committed to doing good in the world and reducing world suck.

Hope.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”- Shel Silverstein

photo 2-1

 

It has been a long, but good work week for me. There has been a little stress and little time to stop and write. Yesterday I went kayaking so I could unplug and allow myself time to rest. The river was beautiful and the sky was clear. I was able to listen to what was on my heart. Today’s post is not long, and it is very simple – it is what my heart was saying.

There is still hope.

 

I don’t know most of my readers personally. I don’t know your stories or your battles, but I know that there is always hope. Life can be hard. People can tell you why it won’t work out. Maybe most days all you can see is that there is no possible way for things to be okay. Don’t give up. Hope is still there for you, and for me, and for our communities.

I hope that you are able to take time to experience the beauty around you. I hope that you are able to hear what your heart is saying. I hope you know that you are not alone. I hope you know that there is still hope.

Signiture2.0

 

Brave.

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” –  Theodore Roosevelt

photo-3This has been an exciting week for me. I’ve submitted articles for possible publication. I’ve asked an author out to coffee. I’ve been adventurous and honest. I’ve failed and had fun. And it’s all been really hard.

It’s easy for me to write on my safe blog and say things about fear and failure, and starting again, and being brave and adventurous. It’s easy to write about and it sounds really good and poetic most days. It’s very hard to actually do.  Sometimes it’s easier for me to imagine moving across the country on a whim and a dream than staying planted and risk not growing where I am. Adventure sounds better when it means doing big things, but I have found that adventure often means doing small things.

I wanted submit a new piece to an organization that had already turned me down once before. I called a friend and asked her opinion on if she thought I should try again. Her response was simple: Be brave – again and again and again.

I submitted the article.

Another friend encouraged me to ask an author out to coffee to discuss writing and books. I wrestled with this idea for many reasons. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. I don’t like being the first to extend an invitation. I don’t like being told no. I looked at her once more before introducing myself and she said simply : Be brave.

I asked the author out for coffee.

I’ve not heard back about my writing pitches. The author was very kind, and told me no. The only that made this week adventurous, was me deciding to be brave. Actually, it was my friends convincing me to be brave.

Bravery can be seen in many different ways. Sometimes  it is  a big move or a bold conversation. Sometimes it is standing up for someone or quietly telling someone you love them. Sometimes it is the decision to just keep trying, even in the face of discouragement and failure.   Bravery is always hard but always worth it.

I hope that you have a community around you that pushes you to reach out to the world around you. I hope that you are willing to find small adventures in courageous little moments. I hope that you remember to be brave – again and again and again.

Signiture2.0

Clouds.

“The sun always shines above the clouds.” – Paul F. Davis

Cloud1. Copyright Danielle Elise 05.15I’m not much of a “take pictures while flying” person. I used to be when I was younger. I would annoy every passenger next to me because I was flying and that was amazing. Of course taking pictures on a plane used to be very obvious – wind up the disposable camera, click, flash, and repeat. Now it is much more simple, but still not common practice for me. Last weekend, though, it was too beautiful for me to not take a picture.

It had been storming in Nashville. It had been storming in Dallas. It had been storming in Tulsa. While leaving Dallas, I made it above the storm and the sun was there, peaking over the mountain of clouds. Soon the sun and the clouds were dancing in hues of pink and orange and it  took my breath away. I appreciated the storms below because it made for a spectacular show above.

I showed my parents the picture after landing safely in Tulsa. “It’s nice to know the sun is still there,” my dad said. I know he was talking about the actual sun because it had been raining for almost a month in Tulsa and all they have seen are grey skies. It made me think of the metaphorical sun too, though. It made me think of hope.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see that there is light above the darkness. Life is hard, and we are broken, and sometimes storms are all we see when we look around. I wonder what our storms look like from above. I wonder if hope and reality dance together, painting our futures with beautiful hues that will one day take our breath away. I choose to believe in that dance.  I choose to believe that adventure can be found in small, simple ways, even when we feel stuck. I choose to believe that the sun is still there.

I hope that your skies are clear. I hope that you know that storms will pass. I hope you know that there is life, even in the storms. I hope you know that the sun is still shining, still dancing, still believing in your tomorrow.

Signiture2.0

Weekend.

“Happiness [is] only real when shared.” – Jon Krakauer

I am flying home today so there will not be an “official” blog post. However, I was able to spend time with family and friends this weekend. I’ve added some pictures of the fun weekend below. Enjoy! 

I hope you have been able to enjoy time with family and friends. I hope you’ve been able to take time and rest.  I hope have been able to share happiness. 

image image   image   IMG_0261-0

 

Signiture2.0

Kind.

“Do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

28396_1291681539251_7985155_nI used to try very hard to do random acts of kindness. I would buy people behind me at Starbucks coffee. I would treat my friends to a meal. I would let myself into a friend’s house when they were gone and I’d clean for them (don’t worry – I always had a key). If I wanted to feel very good about myself I would even give a person who was homeless some money, or maybe even some food.

It took me a long time to realize that doing kind things doesn’t make me a kind person. I didn’t really care about what I was doing or who I was doing it for – I just wanted to feel good about myself. I think that kindness really begins when we look at each other in love and want to do anything we can to make their day better or easier.

Maybe this means not saying something rude, when we really want to “let them have it.” Maybe it means picking someone up from the airport when we’ve had a long day and really don’t want to fight traffic. Maybe it means listening in silence. Maybe it means realizing that other people are hurting too and their lives matter too.

When we forget that people are more than just a role in our stories, we lose the ability to truly be kind. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that the people I need to “help” have a lot to teach me as well. I like to imagine myself gracing people with my presence and kindness, but if I show up in the world like that, I miss a lot of opportunities to make a real connection with people.

We are all human. We are all fighting. We are all learning. We are all worthy of love and kindness.

I hope that you are shown kindness. I hope that you are able to show kindness to others. I hope that when you take the time to do small things for others  you will find a beautiful community of love around you.

Signiture2.0

 

 

Light.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

 

Photo of Kintskuroi by Lakeside Pottery

This quote has been rolling over in my head for  about a month now. For awhile it was popping  up in conversations, in books, and (obviously)  in music.  A small truth that made being broken  seem okay.

I was talking to a friend recently about life and he said, “I keep expecting this to get easier  but I feel like I’m just getting more broken.” “I’m afraid that I will always be here, where I am now, trying to make it through life safely so I won’t be more hurt than I am now,” another friend said.

All I can think to say is, “Yeah.” I have friends who are dealing with recovery, it seems impossible every day to keep going forward. I have friends who are dealing with mental illness, it seems impossible  to enjoy the good days because they know the bad days are just around the corner. I have friends who face death and injustice at work. I have friends who face broken marriages. I have friends who have heard devastating news at doctors offices and are trying to figure out what to do now. I have friends who are broken. I live in a world that is broken. I am broken.

There is an old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with metal, typically gold or silver, called Kintsukuroi (“golden repair”). This repair highlights the cracks and breaks in the piece, and is often more valuable and more beautiful than the original. What I love most about this art is that it replaces the missing pieces with something stronger.

 

I don’t know if we all start out whole, or if we are broken from the start. I know that we all break differently. I know that we are all broken. There is a crack in everything. It allows light to shine. It allows community to grow. It allows us to speak out. It allows us to become more beautiful.

I am learning to embrace my brokenness. I am learning to reach out to those who are broken as well. I hope you know that being broken is okay. I hope you know that you are not alone when you feel this way. I hope you know that the crack in everything allows light to shine into a dark place.

Signiture2.0

 

 

Story.

“A good story makes you thankful to be alive because it reminds you that while sometimes painful, life is indeed beautiful and even magical.”-Donald Miller

Sunset All of my favorite stories have good and bad, light and dark in them. All of my favorite heroes have good and bad, light and dark within them too. I like to imagine the hero struggling to make the decision to fight or  wrestling with regrets of the past. It would not mean as much if the hero simply woke up and lived a perfect life and smiled a lot and saved the world from evil. Those aren’t the heroes people look to – those aren’t the stories people love.

People love the struggle between good and bad because it resonates with them. Light and dark wrestles inside all of us. Sometimes we forget the darkness when we laugh with family and friends or read our favorite books. A lot of times, though, that darkness can sneak up on us and in a moment overwhelm us. We feel like our past, our failures, or our anxieties define us.  Monica Lewinsky recently spoke at a TED Conference. When asked why she is speaking out now, she responded, “…because it is time to take back my narrative.” When the darkness defines our lives it’s hard to remember that the story is still being written. You are still being written, and you aren’t alone in the story.There are other characters who come beside you and love the light back into your story. You play a role of importance in other’s lives too – a role only you can play.

I play many roles in my life. I am friend, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, cousin…the list goes on. Sometimes I play the role of a shoulder to cry on; sometimes the role of the one who is crying. Sometimes I play the role of a comedian trying to cheer up a friend; sometimes the role of one needing some cheer. It is all of the roles, all of the ups and downs, all of the light and dark that make up our stories. It is all of those things  that makes us remember that life beautiful.

It is all of those things that makes your story important. I hope you know that you are not defined by your past or current struggles. I hope you know that your story is still being written. I hope you don’t give up. I hope you know you’re not alone. I hope you remember that living a good story is magical.

Signiture2.0

 

 

 

And….

lightsabers-clash

 

May the Fourth be with you :)