Love everything, but be attached to nothing

Mom picked me up from the airport that summer. I had just graduated high school but wasn’t quite ready to claim independence yet (cue: “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”). I laid my head against the window as tears rolled down my face. I had only been in Oklahoma for a week, but somehow, coming back to my small town felt like a prison sentence.

I have always been one to attach myself to places and experiences. It’s a feeling of being a part of something greater. The last week has been extremely difficult. People keep congratulating me on my new job but all I can think about is the end of my internship. Buddhist teachings would say to detach, but how are we to learn the lessons of an experience if we are unable to fully submerge ourselves into it, mind, body, and soul.

In lieu of my goodbye lunch this afternoon, here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last ten months.

Trust God. I have never in my life believed so much in the statement “everything happens for a reason,” until this September. As of August, I was all set to move home and finish up my masters degree with a year-long internship at a local school district. Two weeks before I was to start, the school psychologist with whom I was to be working informed me that he had put in his resignation but that he had found me a different internship at a school district an hour away. I have never been more grateful for something going wrong. The love I have for the district I ended up at is insurmountable and I can’t imagine any other experience having been as great, as encouraging, and as helpful as the one I had. Let. Life. Be.

Feedback and criticism are not the same thing. I’ve talked on the blog about my anxieties before and believe me when I say I’m not the best at receiving feedback. Throughout the year I’ve learned that every mistake truly is a learning opportunity. Through reading scribbled margin notes and debriefing after meetings, I believe that there are genuine people in this world who want nothing more than to bring out the best in you.

Working with students is the most gratifying and satisfying experience in the world. Monday morning I sat on an old metal chair in the gymnasium as student after student walked up the stage stairs to perform. Tears welled up in my eyes (and okay, rolled down my face a bit) as I watched a girl, too anxious to make it through a math lesson, stand up in front of her whole school and sing more beautifully than most of us could ever dream of singing. It is the moment when your third grader walks in the office with smiley faces the whole way down his or her behavior plan. It is the day when your gifted student tells you the definition of the word mimic: “It means, what is the definition of the word mimic.” It is the smiles and the hugs and the “hey, I worked with her once!” that make all the difference in the world.

There are going to be teachers who sigh and rant about “the worst class they have ever had,” and then there will be teachers who rise to the occasion and say, “what can I do to help my students?” Some will use a clip chart, others will live by 1-2-3-magic, and some will even exclaim that they don’t believe in behavior plans. Little Johnny might be an only child, from a single mother, living in the trailer park – and you know what, the best teachers in the world are the ones who can look past those factors to ask “how can I help this student learn best?” The best teachers are those who aren’t coaching the team, but standing there on the field ready to catch whatever fly balls come off the bat.

I did not choose this internship, but the internship certainly chose me. For the past ten months I have been so truly blessed to learn from some of the most inspiring people I will ever meet. Most importantly, my supervisor who changed my life the second he stepped into it and will forever serve as one of my greatest role models! Now on the the next one… as a School Psychologist!

Peace, love, and good coffee ❤

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Humility, Grace, & Falling on my Face

I was standing on the corner of lemon and lime when I heard the clinking of my car key passing through the metal of the storm drain. The pedestrian light had just lit up as I stared down past the leather mini skirt and high heeled boots – defeated. The sun had only warmed the city air to a breezy fifty degrees and my phone was dead.

I would go on to tell this story countless times, always noting the look on the police officer’s face and the dirt on the city worker’s hand as he scribbled his number on scrap paper. I told it in the same way I would go on to talk about my date at the “park” and the time the guy I thought I loved, made out with my best friend. I told those stories for the same reasons I compared myself to characters like Jessica Day or Kimmy Schmidt. If I could call my mistakes and bruises, “quirks,” they would be cute and funny instead of sad and disappointing.

Why-a-Laugh-a-Day-Keeps-the-Doctor-Away

The moment I learned to laugh at myself was the very moment I began to love myself. I’m talking tears rolling down my face, abdominal muscles crying out in pain, laughter. I can get drunk, sing karaoke, eat 7 slices of pizza, and laugh and laugh and laugh the next day. Because hangovers only last for so long and the rest is just character building. It’s been one of my greatest gifts – humility. The past is easy. I can spin it with my retrospect or write poetry about hindsight bias. But the now and later doesn’t go down quite as easily as that sweet, sticky, candy. One of my greatest weaknesses – hope.

Today I was eating popcorn with one of the most key models in my life, but tomorrow I could be interviewing at schools twenty hours away. The truth is, that’s terrifyingly beautiful. Anxiety has always been such a huge piece of my heart, acting as a driving force in all that I do. I’m an adventurer through and through, but just like many others, I find solace in the comfortable; in the known.

Four more months until my new journey.
Three more weeks until interviews.
Two more certifications to send.
One more prayer for this season of my life.

I am so very ready, and yet so unprepared. I’ve made lists on lists, compiled template on template, and searched wildly for cities where I might feel at home. It’s just not real. Not yet. I’m aching not to find all these answers, but to find hope in the right questions. I pray I find something to laugh at. Something to remind me that I’m here, that I’m human, and that just like all those times before, everything will be okay.

Singed wings and disappointment for all.

I believe that every so often, we need to fly a little too close to the sun just to remember what falling feels like. Sure, it burns like hell, but the emotions are so raw. So vivid.


I laid under the fluffy white comforter staring up at the ceiling and counting my breaths. In, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. I touched my hand to my neck trying to control my rapid pulse. The horizon was quickly making its’ transition from navy to cerulean. From cerulean to sky. The hints of amber seemed to whisper “don’t panic,” as the sun made its’ debut above the church steeples.

Some people think good friends are hard to find, but I think the trick is in the keeping. Nearly anyone can look good for a night, but it’s learning to live with the disappointments and the character flaws of all your secondary characters. We are all so goddam flawed. Straight out of a Shakespearian tragedy. It’s a wonder that we are even able to let people in at all.


I smiled at the people sitting on the park benches. So unaware that they were being watched. They sipped their coffee and read news articles on their phone about the snow, about the schools, about the shootings. I wondered then if one of them had also singed their wings and tumbled to the ground this morning.

Heartache is just another emotion that gets swallowed up in the city. It’s everywhere and thus, nowhere at all. Did the gentleman with the briefcase have to pull his crying daughter off of his pant leg before he got in his Mercedes to make it to work on time? Did the woman with the torn up coat pull her children in close under the blanket in the heatless bedroom they all shared? We spend so much time being miserable on our own, that we only see the beauty in the lonely parking lot attendee or the children getting off the bus. We fail to notice that same disappointment in their eyes reflected right back at us.

The rooftops were still lined with snow, but the grass was green throughout the courtyards. If you closed your eyes and breathed the air, it seemed more like mid-April than Groundhog’s Day.  An early spring, he unveiled before scrambling back into his hole. A rodent, popping out from hiding once a year knowing that he’ll always disappoint at least half of the population. What a terrible destiny that must be, to always be letting others down. But then again, isn’t that the case for all of us?


Icarus wanted to feel the warmth of success. Of happiness. Of all those good feelings that cannot truly be measured by numbers and figures. But it’s never enough. We can never get close enough and eventually we all fall down.

Laces tied through all seasons

I flung the front door open as a gust of snow circled around my feet and then settled on the carpet. “Ah, they’re still there,” I thought to myself as I turned the corner toward my car.

For a little over two months now, a pair of shoes have sat outside my apartment building. I first noticed them in the parking lot, haphazardly lying on the white line of the space. A few days later they laid in the grass beside the curb, as if waiting patiently for their owner to retrieve them. They’ve managed to find their way right next to the building this week, maybe seeking some sort of shelter from the sleet and the snow. Lord knows, they’ve nearly been run over, become water logged, and no doubt are the private residence of a plethora of tiny insects. And yet, through all of those trials – for those past two months, roughly 56 days – the shoes have remained tied.

Why has no one thrown them away? These shoes must be battered beyond belief, and yet over 75 residents have let them lie outside, a mere 75 yards from the nearest dumpster. The shoes have become a symbol in my own life to be certain, something stable, always there to greet me when I arrive home. More than that, they remind me of the tough times in my life; the times I was completely sure I would break. When I felt the anxiety creeping under my skin like tiny ticks. It was in those times that being moved just out of the snowflakes grasp was enough.

This morning as I walked to my car, I saw a pair of socks laying beside the wall of my building.

Another day, another memory

“So, per usual, I had another amazing day with this guy who might be the best thing since sliced bread. He’s so tall, gorgeous, muscular and mmmm. The day starts out by making the best stir fry ever and then he decides to take me to see the best movie ever: Star Wars Episode VII. Let me tell you what, so epic!!!” (My life as dictated by this guy who might be the best thing since sliced bread.)

Scared of my own heartbeat.

He walked into Panera looking like a Ken doll, all dressed up after work. He sat beside me in the little booth as I rambled on and on about work. It’s been a long time since I was so excited to share my life with someone else.

With every text it seems easier to trust my gut, trust my heart. Every single time he calls me “babe” is like a check mark on the to-do list. Not in that corny, oh my goodness I love pet names kind of way, but because that’s how people do it these days – how they prove where their hearts lie. 

 

I’m not quite sure why I’m typing this all all. I guess to remind myself that these feelings can exist without all the insecurity. That safety can be found in another person’s arms. 

Hannah Brencher says not to “flush the fish.” And I think I’m learning. In order to find happiness, you have to give up the fear of losing happiness. If I could get any tattoo right now as a permanent reminder, it would be just that; “Don’t flush the fish.”

Someone who when he sees me, wants to again.


Brick after brick, I could picture the tower growing taller in my mind. The walls I built up around my heart. And now I’m watching it chip apart; red dust quickly falling from the top like snow with each complimentary word.

It’s hard to face rejection. It tears up your heart and leaves you with insecurities dangling down the side of that tower. Scarier yet is the mutual admiration for one another.

Excuse while I get a little grade school on y’all, but I met a boy. And I really, really like him. And I’m really, really, really scared about that fact. But something I’m realizing is how good it can all feel. Because, even though I am terrified of what is happening here, all of those feelings of insecurity and fear melt away when I’m in his presence. I’m not afraid of saying or doing the wrong things, because I’m so genuinely fascinated by his interest in my personality.


“Why are you so cool,” he whispered between kisses. And I guess the word “cool” depends on your definition, but I want to keep being that self for him.

I’ve been counting the dates one by one as if once we hit a high enough number (5? 8? 15?), there will be some sort of safety net. I’ve been shielding my emotions from even my best friends, as if this new spark is in the first trimester and can so easily be snuffed out.

“I love that word. ‘Forever.’ I love that forever doesn’t exist, but we have a word for it anyway, and use it all the time. It’s beautiful and doomed.” – Viv Albertine

Stay caffeinated

I had to buy two packs of batteries on Wednesday. Every single one in my apartment decided to deplete itself within the same three days. Wii remotes, speaker, the keyboard I’m typing this on right now; all completely devoid of energy. Kinda like me. 

 

I have been trying to wake myself from this state of loneliness for two months now and it always ends with my fingers wrapped around a warm coffee mug, pretending the silky brown liquid holds all the answers.

The last thing I want to do is count down the days until my time in this little town is over. Because, if I cannot make friends here, then what does that mean for the next town. Or the town after that. 

Take another sip. One cream. Two splendas. Take it all away. The mistakes. The heartbreaks.

I’ve lost my sense of optimism and it is wrecking my little world. I’ve learned to take pleasure in the singular moments because I have no hope that they will last longer than that anymore.  I’m scared to be excited. So scared I will screw something up and disappoint the world, or worse, disappoint myself.

 

I sat there at that little corner table last night. The black of the house blend in my mug contrasting against the baby blue of his eyes. I wanted to soak in that moment right then, right there. To believe that it could work. But I was so scared. 

It’s hard to describe the stress I’m under because I know I’ve placed it all upon my own shoulders. Every little thing, ever small mistake turns into a great ordeal and I want to turn it off, to just be free from it all, but I don’t know how. 

For the short time that my mug is full, everything is okay. For now, that will have to be enough.

Weak wristed apologies

  
I played tennis for the first time Tuesday night. As we drove closer and closer to the courts, I could feel my heart beat faster, my palms beginning to sweat. “I’m freaking out,” I finally blurted out as he shifted the car into park. I felt bad then, knowing full well that I would only make every single one of his friends feel more awkward. 
They laughed at one another, jumping into funny positions and hitting the ball into the net. I laughed right along with them, except when it was my turn to hit.

I found myself apologizing for every missed stroke (is that even what it’s called?). It wasn’t funny, it was “I suck so bad – I’m so sorry – my wrists are so weak.” Excuse after excuse would fly out of my mouth before I could even realize how pathetic I sounded. “I don’t do things that I’m not good at,” I told him as I stared at my shoestrings. 

The thing is, we are never good at things right away. Perspective. I’m not sure if I’ll ever relieve myself of all this silly anxieties, but one step at a time. One step at a time. Because, self awareness is half the battle.

Desperately seeking (insert soulmate’s name here)

“Wow, your nails look really nice,” you exclaimed as I looked down at my fingers gripping the glass of Stella Cidre. Five minutes earlier we were standing in the middle of Lancaster city while you changed you shirt in the 20 degree weather. I tried to look at the frosted pavement while you buttoned the light blue oxford that you had worn on our first date. 

It was the kind of compliment you don’t expect from a guy. The gold sparkles shimmered above the navy blue laquer on my ring finger. “Thank you,” I whispered, urging myself not to reach out and grab your hand with those same fingers. 

I explained to him how long I’d been seeing the other guy, while he smiled and talked about his new home. I hugged him goodnight knowing that I had won this battle against temptation. And yet, that lovely gentleman is the same that would tell me 8 months later that his girlfriend would prefer if he and I no longer communicated – regardless of the 1,400 mile distance between us.

“I couldn’t date in today’s generation,” my mother told me over the phone. “I would be obsessively jealous. I would be checking all of their messages!” We can all complain about technology while we update our facebook status and post a new selfie, but the truth is – there is no going back.

For those of us single 20-somethings desperately seeking (insert soulmate’s name here), that is an absolutely terrifying fact. Because in reality, someone else’s “soulmate” is sending his ex-girlfriend flirty snapchats while he lays in bed with her head on his chest. Let’s be clear, people intent on cheating on their significant others have been finding dirty motel rooms and taking extra long “lunch breaks” for years, but these days being emotionally unfaithful is much too easy. 

There was a time when I cried a lot. Over movies, songs, text messages, soup that got too spicy. Even with the loneliness lately, my eyes have been dry. The one exception is when I emerse myself in books. The creative non-fiction types. The Hannah Brencher’s and Marina Keegan’s of the world. We are here. This is the way of the world. Maybe we’re all bound to seeking out a new type of commitment – and maybe when we find that bond, it will be stronger than any of those that came before. Because it means going up against that temptation and finding your way back home. You see,  the “thing to remember is if we’re all alone, then we’re all together in that too.”