Wonderland.

Some days are hard. Some weeks are hard. Some months are hard. Sometimes they all happen in a row.

Sometimes you miss someone. Sometimes you miss a lot of people. Sometimes you just miss the way it used to be. Sometimes you just miss a feeling.

Sometimes things are hard and a lot of other things go wrong at the same time. Sometimes there’s not really much left to give up on.

Except a heart. And a soul. And some hope and a little faith.

I’m lucky, ’cause I like those things the best of all. And I don’t know how to give up on them.

At least I have a heart I like at the end of the day. That’s all I could ever really ask for, anyway.

Full Hearts.

The older I get the more I believe in fate. I know that seems backwards – that we’re supposed to grow out of our fairy tale complexes and graduate to a real world full of logic. I refuse to accept that. I like my world of plans I don’t yet understand, daydreams for the sake of what could be and explanations of what doesn’t work out – it’s simply that it wasn’t right.

I like these things. They keep my heart full – mostly of joy and occasionally with sadness. But it can never be said that it’s not full.

Logic doesn’t keep your heart full.

So tonight I’ll dream. Maybe it will all come true. Maybe none of it will. But at least I’ll have a few memories – even if they’re only mine.

Kids Today.

I had to take a break from the news.

I used to hear people say this and get kind of upset – why wouldn’t you want to know what’s going on in the world?

I do want to know what’s going on in the world. I want to hear the bad things – we need to hear about the problems before we can fix them as a society. But I also want to hear the good things because our spirits need a little help most days. We don’t hear enough about the good things. The news is mostly people killing other people these days – which has always happened, I suppose, we just didn’t hear about it every two seconds. Do I think – especially as a woman – that we need to know where crimes happen and be aware of what’s going on in our community? Yes, wholeheartedly. But I also want to hear more about some firefighter who saved a cat from a tree and made some kid’s day.

I understand these things are the downside to a connected world.

But then I read this story, about a community coming together for an autistic boy’s birthday party after no one showed up, and it warmed my little heart this morning. Humanity is still good. We just hear about it less.

We hear a lot about how kids are mean – and I think they totally are. I don’t have a child so I don’t know particular circumstances surrounding all kids today, but I know kids have always been mean. I think we hear about it more – and I’m a little thankful for that part of the equation, because it gives us all an opportunity to fix the future.

I think often about the kids I grew up with in suburban white-people world. My family was lower middle-class, but middle class nonetheless. There were one or two apartment complexes that bussed to our schools, but I was mostly on the lower end of things. There were also a lot of extremely wealthy people at my schools.

In elementary, I was chubby. I was weird, mostly because I’ve always been pretty weird. I took medicine for ADD and got in trouble a lot – mostly for talking too much when I wasn’t supposed to. I liked books and music and my imagination – and not really other kids much. Field Day was literally my least favorite day of the year because I hated the idea of having to participate in three athletic activities – some of which included the three legged race and a bean bag toss. This is what I thought of as an athletic activity in my youth – I don’t even think I need to explain that I was always, always the last kid to finish assigned running when we had to do that. In fifth grade, I had some health stuff happen where I basically missed an entire six weeks of school. I had to wear an eye patch at one point and was blind in one eye when I returned. I had to wear glasses. I couldn’t go to a whole day of school for weeks after a few surgeries. Not to mention, at the beginning of the whole thing, I had gotten sick in front of the entire class – to this day, I still refuse to drink anything artificially colored orange. And I was still chubby.

So I didn’t have a ton of friends. I still remember at sixth grade graduation when a classmate told me my shirt had ridden up and he could see my belly. It was mortifying.

I was overweight until the summer after my sophomore year of high school – mostly when I got tired of feeling weird. I lost weight because I got tired of boys not wanting to go out with me and getting made fun of. It was completely superficial and had nothing to do with feeling better about myself or being healthy.

But I still made fun of other kids. I think maybe because I felt so bad, and I didn’t want to feel alone in that. I wanted other people to feel bad sometimes, too. There was one girl in particular I think about a lot. When she was born her brain didn’t get enough oxygen, and we were relentlessly mean to her because she handled social situations differently than the rest of the world and because she learned a little differently. I still remember her mom being one of the kindest people I’ve ever met – to an entire grade level of kids who made fun of her daughter or simply weren’t her friend because they didn’t have to be. There was another girl who – looking back – had some problems processing social situations, as well – and was kind of angry and we weren’t nice to her. There was a boy who never showered – I remember now that he lived with his grandmother off and on, and I’d assume now that showering was probably not the biggest problem in his world. But we were still so mean to that poor boy.

I remember watching a Louis C.K. sketch one time where he explained he thinks kids are mean – and they don’t really realize what that means until they see the look of hurt on another kid’s face. Which I think is pretty true. Eventually kids realize it doesn’t feel good to make other people feel that way.

No one ever came to my birthday parties. My birthday was always during spring break and I also didn’t have many friends. My mom never made me invite the entire class – because she wanted birthday parties to be economical on her end – but she always made me invite the kids who got made fun of more than I did. My mom is a teacher and also has a fantastic heart. I am so thankful for this. I was never thrilled about it – and often, those kids and my handful of other best friends were the only ones who showed up. The cool kids in fourth grade didn’t give a shit about me. They were football players and cheerleaders and had more money than I ever will. My mom never participated in the PTA and was never one of the cool moms, so those kids didn’t care about my birthday party. She made a lot of my clothes and I think maybe bought me three $20 shirts the entire time I was in school – because it was dumb to spend that much money on clothes that were going to fall apart – my mom is also a very smart lady. But those others kids’ moms – the ones who did come to my parties – knew that kids need love, and sometimes that’s all that matters. I’m thankful for them.

And then I think about kids today. For me, it’s pretty easy to remove myself from the situation completely – I obviously don’t have any children – and don’t know much about what’s going on in their world. But I know they’re our future, obviously – so it’s important to think about what’s going on with them here and there. I know their grammar scares me a bit, but that can be remedied. I do feel lucky that many of my friends are teachers with great hearts – who also grew up in similar situations as everyone in the rest of the world – and know what it feels like to be made fun of and also how it feels when you realize you hurt someone. I’m thankful they’re around to teach them what to do and what not to do.

I also know many of my friends are their parents. I know without a doubt they are teaching them what’s right and wrong. I know there are parents like the ones in the article – who would show up at a stranger’s birthday party to make a kid’s day. I know they are police officers and firefighters and teachers, also – changing the world a little at a time.

Will there always be people who don’t force their kids to do things they don’t want to – like go to a birthday party they don’t want to or participate in a sport they have no interest in playing? Probably. I’m thankful my parents were not those people  – and that my friends are not those people.

I feel hopeful for the future. I believe kids today have so much access to amazing things – educations and resources to change the world, much more easily than ever before. I believe some of them will. I’m excited about that. I’m thrilled to see the beautiful hearts many of them grow up to have – simply because their parents made them go to a birthday party they didn’t want to.

I guess i just wanted to feel a little hopeful this morning.

Transitions.

As I approach 25 (a month and three days, for anyone else that’s counting), I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Truthfully – I mean that with every bit of my little heart. I’m happy.

I feel a sense of peace about life that I can’t say I’ve ever felt prior to the last few months – which is a little funny because my life is definitely in a transitional place on all fronts. But maybe that’s why I feel so peaceful. Maybe I’ve finally accepted that I really control very little of this – and as long as I do my best with the pieces that are mine, there’s not much to be upset about. Of course, there are also days where I have absolutely no understanding of that concept and wonder what exactly I’ve done in this area or that area or why something worked out the way it did. But that’s for another day.

Today feels peaceful and fairly lovely.

Sure, there are things I want and things I don’t want at the moment – but I guess accepting that as life makes them a little easier to deal with.

And I control very little of this whole thing.

I’ve felt a lot of emotions in the past few months – probably even the past year. It’s been full of tears and smiles and some obnoxious laughter – and a little more sarcasm than anyone ever asked for. But it’s been grand.

I’m happier with myself than I’ve ever been – I recognize that I’m not awful at everything and some things I’m actually pretty good at. I know there are parts of my personality that I do like and some that aren’t so great – and I can work on them to some degree, but I’m not perfect. And that’s okay – because imperfections are one of the sweetest parts of life. As long as I keep doing and moving and going and trying, it’s my best and that’s all I can really ask myself to do.

I have the best friends – so many lovely hearts that love me without question. Many of them are not new – but that realization is, I suppose. I’ve always known it, but this year it’s sunk in a bit more than ever before – I’ve finally grasped the importance of surrounding myself with the people who matter and holding onto them for dear life. Because God, everyone needs a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear, just as they need a hearty laugh and smile – and if you find people that provide all of those things, do not let them go. Ever. I’ve lucked into finding some great people since I’ve moved and feel pretty blessed to know so many kind souls already, as well.

I’ve realized what little capacity I have for drama – my heart simply isn’t good at it. Not processing it. Not responding to it. Certainly not understanding it. People who make it are toxic and don’t even really deserve a thought – and certainly not my time.

My family is really the best thing in the world – I think this year I started to understand that better than ever before. We have our faults, each and every one of us. But we love each other and I know we would all do anything for one another. That’s what family is – regardless of what imperfections we may have.

I’ve learned the importance of love and kindness. I don’t think that’s new, but both have been clearer than ever before. That it’s important to leave this world with a little more of each when we go, but it’s also important to live surrounded by them. We’re here for such little time, but it’s sure going to seem much longer without either of those things.

For the past few months, I’ve been pretty terrified about my birthday – not because I think things change magically at the stroke of midnight, but because I know I’m already in a transitional place and I know that’s not going anywhere. That I’m in this for awhile.

And today I’m pretty excited about that.

“Life is hard and so is love…”

“Child, believe in all these things.”

I had coffee with a lovely friend yesterday. As is the case most of the time with moving, it’s sometimes difficult to find people to connect with. In dating, in friendships – though I suppose those two things are actually pretty similar in a lot of ways.

Anyway, I met a friend for coffee. We’re in different places in our lives, but seem to have a good amount I common – at least with how we view the world. I met her the month I moved to town and have thankfully gotten to know her a bit since – and all the facets of her life that make it so lovely.

As is the case when talking with me, I talked about dating because I’m learning I do that a little too much lately. I’m going to go ahead and call it a quarter-life crisis, because that’s definitely what’s happening.

One of the first things I noticed about this friend is how highly she speaks of her boy. I’ve never heard her say anything that wasn’t incredibly sincere about him. I don’t mean in the this-is-clearly-fake-and-you-can’t-be-that-happy kind of way. I mean in the you’ve-obviously-found-your-mate kind of way. It’s lovely to listen to.

Because I’m feeling a little disillusioned by dating in this town (because it’s literally the worst thing ever a and every woman in Nashville will agree with that statement, guaranteed), I asked her to tell me their story. I was quite certain it was the kind of thing I would love.

And I did.

It’s the cutest story and not mine to tell, but I was so impressed by how her man made things happen. Removed any obstacle that was there and made sure things worked out the way he wanted, by being masculine and chivalrous and all adorable things like that.

Because guys that are worth having around tend to do things like that.

I won’t take any more time to discuss why dating is so terrible in this day and age and what I think guys should do less of and what’s going wrong.

Because that doesn’t help anyone. Valid thoughts to be had, yes, but sometimes it means more to talk about what does work.

Chivalry. Masculinity. A little bit of old fashioned. An understanding that women are women – and that’s something to be celebrated, not criticized. Initiative. and I suppose a little bit of care.

I wholeheartedly believe things happen for a reason – even things as simple as a coffee date working out with a lovely little soul. I was so happy to hear about her whole life, but I really needed that story.

To remind me that I’m worthwhile – that everyone. And settling? There’s no reason when everyone’s fairy tale is out there somewhere.

Luck.

I grew up with a lot of Jesus surrounding me – something I’m quite thankful for – but many of the people who surrounded me also often discussed the world as an awful place. I’ve never understood that. I mean – yes, there are times I’ve understood it for a little while – this life is often full of pain and heartbreak. Sadness fills the news and sometimes the people around us. In comparison to the everlasting, it doesn’t even compare.

But this world is so breathtaking.

I guess if I’m going to believe we were created out of love – and I certainly do – I can’t really think of it as anything else.

I’m not discounting sadness or pain, or denying anyone’s right to feel those feelings – I’m often the first to get wrapped up in them, and I’ll be the first to admit that. Life is hard and often it seems difficult to see past obstacles and loss. Or even loneliness (my personal detractor from seeing beauty most of the time).

But I feel so lucky to have this life of mine.

Because sometimes the light catches the trees in just the right way. Or there’s a small hint of every color of the rainbow on the horizon. Or someone says the words I desperately needed to hear.

I remember that I am loved. That I am Yours.

And I just feel so lucky.

Dating and Tuesdays.

I’ve spent a good amount of my girl time lately — as usual — lamenting the disastrous dating life I have mostly always. This experience is shared by a good majority of the girls I know who aren’t in committed relationships. That’s what I tell myself at least. There’s a lot of other ladies out there, who spend just as much time wondering why they’re single, and quite frankly, what’s wrong with them and what’s wrong with guys. Then there’s some more ladies whom I admire — the ones who date regularly and date to get to know people and don’t seem deterred by the whole experience. Then there’s another set of ladies who are just fine with their lives and pretty much tell me I’m crazy regularly for even caring.

I am definitely not the second option. I don’t think I ever will be. I’m an introvert by nature, stubborn as hell and make up my mind whether I enjoy someone’s company pretty quickly. So dating to get to know someone has never appealed much to me, because I’ve made up my first impression about a person in about five minutes. And if I don’t like my first impression, I’m probably not allowing for a second. It’s odd, because it’s the complete opposite of how I handle relationships once I know someone well. Then they get about a million and one chances to do whatever it is guys do. Anyway…

I see myself becoming much more of the third option. I’ve spent the better part of a year and a half really single, I like to think by choice, and I’ve come to really, really love my life for what it is and what I’ve made of it. I’m quite comfortable in my routine: sleeping in the middle of the bed, cuddling with my dog in the morning, not talking before I leave the house and hurriedly running around to get ready — because I didn’t used to be late for anything, but I’ve since adopted a necessary daily dance party and gosh it just takes up so much time, but it makes my soul feel so much better.

Because I haven’t quite morphed into this person I want to be, this person that really doesn’t care, I do spend a good amount of time lamenting the things I hate about the current state of dating.

Mostly, I just think we’re all a little confused, and I’m not really sure who’s right or wrong. I don’t really guess there is a right or wrong. I love chivalry and romance and all things associated, but there’s just as many people walking around telling guys not to hold doors open and buying their own dinner. Yes, I mentioned that, and no, I don’t expect it always or even most of the time, but sometimes the offer sure is sweet. I’ve said, “Wait, was that a date?” more times than I’d like to admit in that year and a half and way too many hours convincing myself something was something when it really was nothing worth thinking a second thought about. But I’m so confused about what even constitutes a romantic relationship at this point that who knows — it could have been something. Girls mention how guys don’t try anymore, because they don’t have to — because there’s things like Tinder and 2 a.m. phone calls. That we answer. I know the same amount of guys who don’t know why girls are so flaky and why they won’t make actual plans with them. So everyone’s in this half state of confusion about what we’re all supposed to do and what’s the right answer and how do we behave because no one really knows! The necessary counterpart to my comment about chivalry and romance is — of course — mentioning that I am one of the most romantically commitment-phobic people I’ve ever met — unless I’m really into someone. And what’s the criteria for that? I don’t even know. I do know that I’m nowhere near the only person like this, making life all the more complicated and confusing.

So, I think I chose to let it go — for a just a little longer at least. Mostly, I’m tired of complaining about something I don’t know how to fix, especially since I have no idea how to fix my side of the equation.

I spent tonight on my couch, watching “The Mindy Project” and “Parks and Recreation.” Then I read some of “Bossypants.” I listened to Marc Cohn (Because, are you kidding? That first album is great.) and drank hot chocolate. I didn’t spend a single second wondering whether I did something right or wrong or answered correctly or too quickly or what does he think about what I said. I thought about these wonderful women who mastered singledom and made lovely little lives for themselves as strong, independent smart forces to be reckoned with.

And you know what? I’ve never second guessed wanting that.