You can find me at the lost and found.

and you’ll be surprised, you’ll be surprised if you just look around. 

When this year started, I had grand expectations – as I suppose most people did. I wanted to change the world, as I do almost every year. Because what good are resolutions if you’re not trying to do something big with them? Instead of wanting to change the universe, though – I just wanted to change my world.

I was already well on my way. In October I moved across the country. I knew a handful of people when I moved here, but none all that well. I walked away from my best friends who have spent countless nights comforting me as my life fell apart – they watched over the years as those reasons went from absurdly dramatic to slightly dramatic and loved me anyway. And listened to every moment of it without judgment – except when I needed it, of course.

I’ve spent the past six months missing them terribly.

I moved away from a salaried job with a 401K, good benefits and stability into waitressing and living off tips, picking up shifts and prayers that my tables were feeling generous – I am a planner by nature, and the idea of not having the stability I spent years creating was terrifying.

But I survived. And I guess I started a trend – for myself, at least.

I started this year wanting to do pretty much anything and everything that I found frightening. But I didn’t really make a list. I suppose I mentally assumed I’d just know when I found things scary enough to make myself attempt them. I’m the kind of crazy person who likes to force myself into situations I don’t want to be in simply to say I overcame them. Because I guess I like torturing myself or something.

These were my grand expectations – do a whole bunch of shit this year that terrifies the hell out of you.

And then about a month ago I started thinking – what exactly have I accomplished in terms of changing my world? Have I forced myself out of my comfort zone and into this wonderful being who simply walks around saying, “Ha, I’m roaring like a lion. Listen, world!” Well, no. Not exactly. Not really at all.

I felt like I spent the last few months being a bit of a hermit. I missed my friends and family and wasn’t really sure if I would ever find those same kind of relationships here. I barely spent any time with the handful of people I did know when I moved here, and the new friends I made seemed like wonderful people, but I wasn’t sure how well they actually liked me.

I felt bad. Like I let myself down. But people forget resolutions all the time, right? What’s the big deal?

I turned 25 this year; my one and only 25 year. The only first quarter century I’ll ever get. And I wanted to make it epic. Why? Because everyone around me seemed to be doing big things. They were engaged, married, having babies, making career moves – sometimes all at once.

And all I had done was move to a new city where I felt pretty lonely. So I wanted to change that, because life is too short not to at least try to change the things you hate.

But when I thought about it, I hadn’t actually tried very hard to change anything. It didn’t feel like it anyway.

Then yesterday happened. It forced me to think about the past four months.

And I mostly thought, “Wait, what?”

I’ve changed everything in my world in four months. I’ve moved, started a new job, lined up another job, made new friends, found a church and totaled a car.

And I thought about how thankful I am that I was able to accept all of those things without too much discomfort. That I didn’t realize how much changed in those months. That by the grace of God I was so used to discontinuity that I didn’t hold up my hands and scream, “No more,” – at least not too loud.

I thought about how much I’ve changed in those months, in regards to handling my surroundings, mostly.

I feel confident for the first time in my life. And not the kind of confidence that comes from attention or affection – the kind of confidence where I do actually feel like walking around and saying, “Hey, listen, I’ve got this roar thing down, y’all.” Not because I’m great at everything or even good at most things, but I feel good in my skin.

And I feel like enough.

But I don’t feel like enough, really. I know I’m enough.

I feel a new kind of peace that I’ve never felt before. The kind that comes from knowing you’re where you’re supposed to be. The kind that comes from being still spiritually – the hardest thing for me – and listening. I’ve been trying so hard to listen. I still fail, but I feel okay about it. I know that’s where this peace is coming from.

And as I look at the past four months, I think about how terrifying things don’t always have to mean hanging out in a lion’s cage or hiking across the desert. Sometimes scary things are just part of life – and they take many different forms.

I’m glad to have faced a few of them. I’m thankful for the grace that reminded me of that this evening.

Jesus said, “Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer.”

Faith is harder when life is going well, I think.

When things are at their lowest, it’s pretty easy to remember. Truthfully, when you’re at the bottom, it’s hard to think of anything other than hope.

But when things are going well, it’s so easy to forget. It seems second nature to latch onto this idea that we have anything to do with our successes and the good will we experience. It’s easy to say it was hard work; we tried our best. Things fell into place because we tried with every little bit of our being.

Try as hard as you might, you’re never going to make anything happen that wasn’t supposed to.

And that’s where I get caught up.

I forget that good will and the ability to work hard are a blessing.

I’m learning that bad days are also a blessing. God has this amazing set of checks and balances where he reminds me that I did none of this, I screw up regularly and shit happens.

I had a hard time with Easter this year. I don’t really know why; on paper, it should have been a grand celebration – one of the best Easters of my life. I’m more active in a church than I’ve ever been – active in a way that isn’t for show and is because I actually believe in what I’m doing. My life is in a good place. My soul feels energized and my heart feels pretty whole.

But it wasn’t. I spent the morning in the nursery at church; anyone who knows me well knows that’s one of the first places I should find joy. I went on a hike for a few hours through the woods and contemplated grace. I thought about it for hours, and just couldn’t make a connection. It was a good day, but nothing special. Not really.

Then the past 12 hours happened – 12 hours that have tested my faith completely in every way possible. Twelve mentally, spiritually, emotionally taxing hours.

And it’s been more of a celebration than I could have ever expected.

The truth about faith – the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place – is because faith and grace and hope and the whole thing is just so beautiful. And big. So much bigger than anything else.

Because it has nothing to do with any of us, really. Because it has everything to do with us, also. Because it shows up when we need it, regardless of how much I’ve forgotten about it previously.

These days are the ones that make life worth living just as much as the overwhelmingly wonderful ones. They remind me that I’m human, but I’m alive. And this whole thing is just beautiful, for all the twists and turns it may throw my way.

And sometimes that reminder is everything I could ever need.

But everybody needs a little forgiveness.

I like to think forgiveness isn’t that hard.

I like that – mostly – because I keep so many people in my life who have done hurtful things. I keep them around, so I must be good at forgiveness.

But I’m starting to finally realize forgiveness is a process, not an action. It’s many actions.

I suppose it’s recognizing hurt. I guess then we accept an apology. We recognize sometimes things happen. Sometimes life is hard. We all make mistakes. I understand – we all make mistakes.

But then we have to move on. And that’s the hard part. The moving on.

Because what’s the appropriate way to move on? It seems almost detrimental to my own emotional well-being to completely brush over an issue. That’s how I end up with all of these people in my life who don’t really deserve to be there.

But the other option doesn’t sound great. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t often feel like I know how. Plus, if someone meant something at some point, why would I cut them out of my life? Certainly, they add value to my little time here on this planet. And I would hate to lose something that could be good at some point later.

So letting something go – completely forgetting it – seems like a bad idea. But letting someone go and completely forgetting them sounds awful, too.

Either way, the baggage is still there. The hurt sticks around.

I know at its definition, forgiveness is letting go of hurt. It’s extending grace to another person.

But how do we extend grace to someone else, and still learn a lesson from it? The hurt is what provides the lesson.

These thoughts fill my head before I go to sleep. They keep me awake some nights.

I guess for tonight my resolution is this – show grace. Wherever possible. Maybe lessons get jumbled sometimes in there – but the idea of grace and forgiveness so baffles my heart in the best way possible – I’d rather have that than a story of someone who hurt me.

And I suppose once we get to that place – where it doesn’t hurt anymore – the moving on happens naturally. The baggage disappears.

And I raised my voice to the air, and we were blessed. Everybody needs a little forgiveness.

I carry your heart in my heart, some with every song.

I suppose there are people in the world who don’t associate every moment of their lives with certain songs. Maybe they don’t remember their dad’s voice singing along to “Carolina in my Mind” on a family road trip when they were eight.Perhaps they don’t remember putting Nobody’s Crying” on repeat on Christmas Eve, two weeks before their grandmother died.Maybe they don’t have a memory of an ex-boyfriend singing “Thunder Road” regularly before they went to sleep.

Maybe other people don’t have those kinds of memories. But I do. Music pervades every crevice of my life; it’s etched in most moments I remember.

There are a lot of songs I keep to myself now. I won’t listen to them around other people. Not because I always have an overwhelmingly emotional reaction to each of them – but because they’re mine.

Well, those memories are, at least. And sometimes I just get a little selfish.

Because in my mind no one else’s memory of “Thunder Road” compares in any way with mine. I heard it several times a week for years – often times my heart so full of love for each and everyone one of those moments I had no idea how life could get any better. It has – but I certainly didn’t know that. And those words encompass some part of that feeling. That it’s as good as it’s going to ever get – the joy that comes with feeling like you are exactly where you are meant to be.

I also remember the song I wrote on the back of his Christmas present one year. And the one I framed.

So I won’t listen to any of them with anyone else around.

I still can’t listen to “Nobody’s Crying” often – I so fully remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach that said the most important person in my life was soon not going to be around to hug. She wouldn’t ever tell me to chase my dreams or follow my heart again. She wouldn’t tell me stories about her grandpa’s farm and Sunday dinners with potlucks and chicken necks. She wouldn’t ever tell me she loved me again. I remember that paralyzing grief – and how I couldn’t listen to any other words but those. I probably listened to that song 20 times that night. I sat on my floor and stared at the wall. And I listened.

I listened to Stephen Kellogg’s “See You Later, See You Soon” when I found out she passed away. Oddly enough, I’m filled with joy every time I hear it. Because I know I will, I suppose.

I remember a random Tuesday listening to Phil Collins in my mom’s car. Because my parents were all about Genesis when I was growing up. I remember my dad singing along to pretty much anything you would let him – but specifically James Taylor.

There are countless other examples. Vivid examples of moments I’ll never be able to erase, and don’t really want to share.

I spend time building a mental playlists of sorts. Of songs that are taken. I play it sometimes when I’m feeling lonely. Because for all of those memories – for all that may have happened since – those words feel cozy. They feel warm. Like I belong.

I suppose not everyone remembers moments like that. Maybe their memories are separate. But I just can’t even imagine it.

Rain.

I’ve always loved rain. Well, being inside for rain. Sometimes outside – but only when my soul needs cleansing, which is more often than not, truthfully.

I woke up two hours before I had to be awake today – the day after my birthday. I was cursing it, because it’s Friday and I have two HOURS left of sleep. I also had approximately one drink too many last night and would have appreciated a little extra sleep.

The truth? My birthday wasn’t the best day of my life – but it’s what made sense for 25 in a new town. I missed my friends and family. Holidays are hard without them – I love cards and flowers, but they don’t compare to the hugs I’m missing. (Do not mistake this as me saying I love hugs. I do not. I love personal space, except when I really love someone.) I understand that’s a glass half empty mentality, and I try not to have that – but it’s where I’m at this morning.

My birthday was what it needed to be. Full of twists and turns and ups and downs and honestly a little bit of heartache – but what better reminder of being alive? I had a little bit of a mental breakdown around lunchtime. I kept saying I’m officially an adult – and I finally felt like it. I ate Subway in my car alone for lunch and thought about how – out of the guys I’ve dated in the past five years – the only guy who told me happy birthday was my ex-boyfriend, who actually has every right to hate me at this point. So I sat in my car at a park and contemplated getting older and probably dying alone because I have the absolute worst taste in the history of the world. I started the day unhappy about not being around the people I love the most and was determined for the day to be everything awful about that situation. So I started throwing myself a pity party – one of my most frustrating and all too present qualities.

But the day got better. I left the park and heard a song on the radio that my Granny always loved – I think she was reminding me that I’m where I need to be. I ran into a homeless couple I talked to for maybe five minutes, who were so kind I have no words to explain it. I walked up to my door and realized my parents and best friend sent me flowers. I went to a lovely friend’s birthday party – which was a beautiful reminder of how joy radiates from people, if you’re willing to put it out there. She is, and it was so evident with how many people showed up to celebrate her. And I saw so any of my favorite people in Nashville – who gave me big hugs and loved on me.

So maybe birthdays change as we get older. Life does, so I guess it only makes sense.

But I woke up this morning and was pretty hard on myself, as usual. Did I say the wrong thing to someone last night? Did I embarrass myself? I wish there was a cancel burton on texts you’ve already sent.

The truth is – even if all of those things are true, there’s always room for an apology. People who love you are usually understanding. If they don’t, the friendship was probably never worth much in the grand scheme of things. And life moves on; it did you a favor.

The thing is, life always moves on. That’s the great thing about it. There’s always a chance to start over.

And I suppose that’s why I love the rain.

Choices.

One of my favorite conversations so far in my life was with a stranger on a plane. It was an early Saturday morning flight, and turned out to be one of my favorite examples of fate. How people end up in our lives for a reason, always.

I’m a bit of a nervous flyer sometimes, and he built airplanes as a hobby. I didn’t tell him I was nervous, but he still explained how the plane worked. I’m not always the greatest at talking with strangers, but felt like I needed to talk with him.

Right before we landed he asked if he could tell me something. I said sure.

“Remember you get to choose who you spend your time with. You have so many things going for you, and you always get to choose.”

Funny how a small sentence changed my life, but it did. I think about that man almost daily, and his advice.

All of life is a choice. When things stop making you smile, it’s time to move on.

And that’s always a choice we have.

25.

For the past month or so, I’ve been trying to make myself write a list of things I’ve learned in 25 years. The important stuff. Then it turned into 25 things I’m proud of myself for. And I kept getting stuck – not because I can’t come up with that many things, but because the words sounded funny each time. None of it was right and just seemed like too much. Like when you see an ex and they ask how you are so you go into more detail than either of you ever cared to know or share. That kind of too much.

It made sense this afternoon, though.

What am I the most proud of myself for learning in 25 years?

For realizing life is so good. So fucking good.

So beyond my imagination, wildest dreams, happiest moments, joyful thoughts kind of good. It’s all of those things. And I’m so thankful for mine.

It’s not what I expected or what I thought I’d have in my daydreams. But damn, if it isn’t just perfect as what it is sometimes.