living courageously... but what is that all about?

live courageously.  what does this even mean?  i've contemplated it for a while now as it is no small task and proven very difficulty to understand - living courageously.  it includes not only an adventurous spirit, but the recognition that there's a purpose to be had and to go after it with white hot passion.

there's something quite romantic about having a purpose, a calling, something specific to do with your life with the knowledge that you're leaving a path of breadcrumbs for others to follow in suit.  but truthfully, few people ever get a clear sign on what this purpose may be.  indeed, life is full of unpredictable things, foreign things, messy things;  we are chicaned into believing that the settlement of less is more and comfort is something to welcome, though i've come to find it brings a sort of limitation that keeps me up at night.

life's narrative is a tricky one.  it's harsh and chaotic, sometimes uneventful, or even too eventful, perplexing and endlessly challenging.  difficulty disguises itself with goodness, stringing the two along in a web so complex, so tangled, so uncanny that it's hard to discern the good decision from the bad one, even the light from the dark.

i think i've been harder on myself these past 14 months than i have before.  i've learned about control, about holding loosely onto norms and conventions, about ignoring tangible decisions to dream about doing the unexpected, about contemplating the possibility of those things impossible, about over-anticipating and over-expanding, about the difference between what i truly love to do and what i love to tell people i do.

i've re-learned about living courageously...  that it's not necessarily defined by those mountain-top moments and life altering decisions, but by taking two steps to the side, by finding pleasure in small things, the little moments that encourage me to rest, to breathe, to be still.  moments like these:  randomly making breakfast for a friend, exploring a place you've never explored, reading something you'd normally ignore,  climbing something you've never climbed before, coordinating a road trip, getting to know a stranger.

i've been terrified of not living courageously.  terrified of not having the strength to dive into doing more of what i love.  terrified of worrying about what others think.  terrified of having others limit the opportunities i've imagined for myself.  terrified that my ideas weren't big enough, grand enough, or would lead me to those mountain-top views.

but i realized that my fear of courageous living had created in me a person filled with terror and fear;  someone who had locked herself in habit, in routine, in complacency, in comfort.  the time i spent over-thinking, waiting, and planning out ways to be more courageous had been the very things that prevented me from doing just that.  after all, no one holds the power to limit you but you.

the universe has a plan, and that plan is always in motion.  stars move, the seasons change, a butterfly flaps its wings and it starts to rain.  it's a scary thought, but it's also kind of wonderful...   all these little parts of the machine constantly working to make sure you end up exactly where you're suppose to be when you're suppose to be there.  living courageously is not about those big moments or grand life decisions of making a major move or quitting a job.  it's about each individual piece of the puzzle because when they slowly start to come together, the picture of your life becomes fuller, more beautiful, more intricate, more complete.

if we spend our time defining our lives by the big things, where's the courage in that?  indeed, life is easier to understand in big, life altering patterns, but there is much to be learned by understanding the simple things, the quiet things, the small deeds of ordinary folk.  and even though small is very much mingled with big, it grows perhaps the greater.

so that's what i intend to do.  i intend to take each day as it comes, challenging myself not in big ways, but in the little ones.  to pray more, try something new, create something, read more, write more;  to witness the movement of the stars, the changing of the seasons, the wings of a butterfly and each time it rains.  and every morning when i step out the front door, these little pieces constantly work with fate to make sure i end up exactly where i'm suppose to be when i am suppose to be there.

what's wrong with death, sir?  what are we so mortally afraid of?  why can't we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and dignity, and decency, and god forbid, maybe even humor?  death is not the enemy, gentlemen.  if we are going to fight a disease, let's fight one of the most terrible diseases of all, indifference.
 - robin williams, as patch adams

creative people across all genres, it seems, have a reputation for being enormously mentally unstable.  all you have to do is look at the very grim death count in the 20th century alone, of really magnificent creative minds who died young and often at their own hands.  and even the ones who didn't literally commit suicide seem to be really undone by their gifts...  just before he died, norman mailer said  "every one of my books has killed me a little more."  an extraordinary statement to make about your life's work.
but we don't even blink when we hear somebody say this because we've completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.
and the question that i want to ask everybody is, are you guys all cool with that idea?  are you comfortable with that?  i'm not at all comfortable with that assumption.  i think it's odious.  and i also think it's dangerous, and i don't want to see it perpetuated into the next century.  i think it's better if we encourage our great creative minds to live.
- elizabeth gilbert, on genius

lost in reverie

I’ve been thinking a lot about life, lately.  About why and in what ways I take it too seriously.  About why and in what ways I settle.  About how and in what ways I can find more joy.  About how and in what ways I can become more passionate, more happy, more patient, more human(e).

I've been wondering around and have been going through some changes, lately.  They've taken hold of my life.  And they center around balancing this thing we call life.

A few months ago I found myself in this weird mix of work, family, friends, school, travel, amongst some other major life decisions.  I was consumed in a continuous merry-go-round of thoughts and emotions and I didn't actually know where I'd end up.

I was working full time for a small company and while I learned a fair amount and established some good relationships, I disliked my job and yearned for something a bit more real.  So I changed the plan.  I quit my job.

I’m twenty-two years old and still figuring out so much about this world.  I don’t know what my dream job is and I don’t remember what my favorite childhood toy was.  I don’t know where my next decision will lead me and I certainly do not have all the answers.  But I'm not afraid of the future.  Because failure?  It happens all the time.  I set expectations for myself but the noises of other's opinions and my own fears and insecurities drown out my inner voice, and I constantly fall short.

Failure is hard work, but it's part of life and I'm learning it's a sign of experience.  Every failure along the journey to becoming your perceived ideal is what ultimately defines you and makes your totally unique.  With failure comes the courage to accept yourself and expand to the absolute limit.

Yes, I am a hot mess.  Please don’t judge.

But in this world of non-absolutes and varying circumstances, more importantly and above all else, I want to be a good person.  A loving daughter and loyal sister.  The kind of person you can turn to when you need a friend.  The kind of person who takes risks and challenges herself, despite the fear of failure.

You must have some vision for your life, even if you don't have a plan.  Most things that create the best endings are sometimes the things are least certain about.  Of course while you're doing them you have absolutely no way of telling which way is up or hanging upside down.  But all you need is a place to start.  No plan, just a simple desire.

And I do know one thing:  To keep myself on the path towards the pursuit of Love.

kacey & jj

in January 2013 i was blessed with the opportunity to be with Kacey and JJ as they celebrated their engagement.

witnessing love is one thing.  witnessing mushy gushy love that oozes is a whole different ball game, especially when the foundation of the relationship is rooted in God.  Kacey and JJ were married on January 26th, vowing boldly and beautifully to transcend what it means to be joined together in love.

in August 2013 this couple welcomed Savannah Grace to their little family and it was awesome.  like to infinity and beyond awesome.  this baby girl has no idea the spoiling she will entail with these two.

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Nashville

this past weekend my sister and i flew down to Nashville to witness our friend get hitched.

we were newbies to Nashville and with the help of a few taxi drivers and lovely companions we quickly checked into our hotel and before we knew it were on our way to the chapel, albeit getting lost a few times.

i was quite impressed with how easy it all seemed.  the groomsmen tall and proud, the mother and father of the groom more poised than i could have ever imagined, the mother of the bride tearily joyful, johnny anxiously awaiting the very moment his eyes would connect with hers, and caroline the perfect combination of restless, overwhelmed, beautiful and ever-present.

there they stood vowing to love each other through a marriage rooted in Jesus and proclaiming it in front of God and their closest friends and family, all those who have been a witness to their character growth, hardships and mistakes, accomplishments, and happiness both separately and as a couple.

the party was at A Venue.  exposed brick, wooden beams, large windows and hanging chandeliers.

mealtime came.  buffet-style.  then the cake, of course.

[photo credit:  Danny Howard]

johnny and caroline.  it works.

the guests took to the dance floor and wiggled, stepped, and shook their way through song after song.  Sweet Caroline played as the groom, brother of the bride, and father of the bride surrounded the woman in white.  after hours we headed down Broadway and hit up live country music and bar dancing and copious amount of alcohol.

sunday morning was welcomed by a large breakfast with elated family members and friends, satisfied with saturday’s events and reinvigorated by the new love that’s begun.  the day was filled with chatter and laughter, a few good meals and fresh strawberry lemonade, and celebratory goodbyes.

in a mere 24 hours together, a lifelong journey had begun.  and then it was time to fly home.