Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Show Your Age

I was watching YouTube the other day and a commercial (that didn't give me the "skip" option) came on for a skin care product in which Gwen Stefani was the spokesperson. She claimed that this product would make you look "years younger." First of all, Gwen, you haven't aged since like 1995 and I'm pretty sure it wasn't because you used L'Oreal moisturizer. And second of all... why is this a thing? What is this obsession we have with youth? What did youth ever do for us anyway? Give us pimples? Make us feel awkward because we didn't know how to talk to the opposite sex? Give us anxiety over needing a job to get experience but not having enough experience to get a job?! All of my worst moments took place when I was younger than I am now (because that's how time works). When I was less experienced. When I had less confidence and less knowledge. I wouldn't want to go back to my mental state as a fresh faced 18 year old (or even 21 year old if we're being honest), so why should I be expected to still look like those ages? Why can't our outsides match our insides? I'm in a different stage of life now than I was then and you can see it in my face and my body. And that's okay. That's how life works.

I understand that we all want to look younger because that is what is valued in our culture. But what I don't understand is WHY. Intellectually, for the most part, we all want to be mature. We want to be established in our careers and valued in our relationships and stable enough to at least act like the adults we know that we are, even if sometimes we feel like imposters (or is that just me?). So why can't the maturity that we work so hard to gain on the inside be reflected on our bodies on the outside? Why can't we value laugh lines and stretchmarks and scars as proof of a life well lived? Of things we survived. Of lessons we learned.

I'll be the first to admit that getting old terrifies me. But would it still be so scary if the world around us didn't tell us it's so bad? The actual physical process of aging is often not fun, anyway. No one wants hangovers that last days instead of hours, and heartburn after eating things you didn't even have to think twice about consuming as a kid. And the older we get the more our bodies break down. And it sucks. But it's life. As a 20 something I'm still young and therefore don't have the experience that people twice and three times my age have. But I can only imagine how much harder the process of aging is, not just physically, but mentally when everything around you is telling you that you're less valuable, less beautiful, just less in general, simply because you've lived to see your current age.

I truly value the wisdom and beauty (both inside and out) of the older people, specifically women, in my life and it hurts me to think any one of them believes they hold less value in our society because their age is reflected in their outward appearance. It's absolutely preposterous. Something has got to change. And it has to start within each of us. Recognize your value. Look for beauty in the physical and spiritual parts of yourself that you once hated or were told are things to be hidden, not appreciated. Because until we stop buying into the bullshit and allowing it to change our opinions of ourselves we will all continue to perpetuate the lies.

Love your age, love your self.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Salt for the Soul

A lot of people like the beach because they can sit in the sand and drink a beer, get a tan, and cool off in the water on a hot summer. But I think it has to be more than that that draws so many people to it over and over again, myself included. I think that it feeds our souls. It calms us and relaxes us. Something about it calls to us. The wind and the deep water and the colorful, almost magic sunsets and the smell of salt and sand. Something in us yearns for that connection to nature, that connection to God. Nature doesn't change. Physically, yes. But nature is always nature. It is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It works in ways that sometimes can't be explained, at least not by the average person. And no matter how many unnatural things we erect in the name of progress, nature is ancient and far superior. It was here before us and will be here after us and though we are hurting it in many ways, it's still here. Always growing, always moving, always transforming. And oceans seem to be the greatest representation of that. While nature can also be a garden in your backyard or a park full of trees, nothing represents untamed nature like an endless ocean full of unseen life. And the endless sky that reaches far above us into yet another somewhat unknown sea. 

I believe with everything in my heart and soul that nature is one of God's greatest blessings to mankind. And that has to be why we yearn for it. I don't know about you but the deep breathes I take inside of four walls or in my car are never quite as satisfying as ones I take standing with my feet covered in wet sand and my hair blowing in a salty breeze. Nature reminds me of God's endless love and creativity. It reminds that he's always there, in every breath I take. Somehow it's easier to remember Him when I'm surrounded by his work, instead of ours.

And I think that's why we love it so much. Even sub consciously I think we are always seeking something greater than ourselves, a higher power, if you will. And what's second best to the creator himself? His work.

All photos taken this week at Orange Beach, Alabama
The one at the beginning of the post was taken as I wrote this post.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

You and the stars are endless.

I've always been good at remembering to smell the roses. And to find shapes in the clouds and appreciate sunrises and sunsets, but the thing I always forget about is the stars. I live in a place full of lights. A place that never sleeps it seems.  But when you're in a coastal beach town and sitting outside on a balcony with nothing infront of you but dark sea and dark sky, you see the stars. And they're endless and magical and all the things you used to think about them when you were a child and still thought about such whimsical things. The bright spots of wonder in the endless expanse of darkness make you remember how limitless life is. How limitless the universe and love and creativity and spirituality and happiness can be. It's easy to forget that you and your immediate surroundings are not in fact the center of the universe. So on days that you forget that your minor problems are just that, minor.... drive out onto a pier or take a walk down the beach or a country road. And look up. Be reminded of the tiny little lights that float in the sky. Of their magic and their twinkle and their magnetic pull. Remember how small you must be from their view, and how endless the space is between each of them as well as between them and all the things up there that you can't see, but know are there. Like planets and moons and galaxies and astroids. Be reminded that magic is endless. Life is endless. You are endless.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Theory of Mirrors

Picture Credit to vbagiatis

The bottle slipped through my fingertips and dropped into the salty sea like a bomb. A bomb filled with words that will splinter into the universe, causing far more destruction than any metal and gunpowder cylinder ever could. In her world man wields power through machines. In mine it's only through spoken words. Syllables and rhymes woven together to make something greater than themselves. In her world man uses fire and force to create beasts that will fight their problems for them. Not here.

We use words and words are far more dangerous. Words plant thoughts and ideas and are spread through whispered wisps of sound that move faster and farther than tanks and jets. They carry more weight and cannot be stopped by an ordinary man holding a machine gun or a sword or a grenade. Words are unstoppable once spoken. Like a disease or a cure.

The number of rules I'm breaking by dropping this bottle and it's paper and ink contents are uncountable, immeasurable. But if I chose the right words, if I wove them carefully enough, she may be able to save him from repeating our mistakes. I couldn't bare for her to suffer the same madness that I have. That he has. That we have, possibly over and over again. Every mirror has a different shape, a slightly altered view, but in the end it can only mimic the image in front of it. If this bottle reaches her, every mirror will shatter. In theory. And right now theory is all I have. Words and theories.

How many times have I stood on this very rock and thrown that very bottle? How many waves have crashed against the shore between the last time and this time? How many times have I, has she... found that bottle and read it's contents aloud?

I hope this will be the first time. Her life and her world depend on this being the first time. But when you've only ever known one life, how can you know what happened in other lives? In other times? In other worlds? In other memories? This time has to be different. For their sake. For our sake, I hope this time is different.

I heard them behind me but I didn't bother turning. He yelled for me, no at me. He yelled at me to turn around, to look at him. He needed reassurance. As his army descended on me he was still asking for forgiveness. How dare he.

Just as I knew they would, they spoke the words reserved for those of the wickedest ranks, who break only the most dire of laws. It hurt more than I thought it would. The blood in my veins boiled and my skin was suddenly too tight and there were a million angry bees buzzing in my head, and yet through it all I knew I had made the right decisions. And as their powerful words seeped into every pore and molecule of my self, I made a decision. One that would make things easier on him. Because that's who I am. Who I have always been. Even in death I will be braver than him, more kind, more sure.

I turned, barely able to stand up straight, my hands covering my ears to stop the sound that was already within me. The wind thrashed my midnight hair across my face in waves of darkness and through the strands I met his eyes, now so much duller than my own. The words pouring from his lips slowed, allowing the pain to recede only minimally. Was this on purpose? Did he know what was coming? Suddenly those around him seemed to fall away and once again it was only him and I in our world. Almost like the first time we'd met, only this would be the last time. We both knew it. I couldn't concede and he didn't have the strength to.

I tried to smile through the pain, because it's laugh or cry and I would never leave him with the memory of such a weakness.

"Goodbye," I whispered, knowing my words weren't even audible and in that second he stopped chanting and a single tear slid down his nose. I felt his pain. Our pain. We have an uncanny connection that will ever only be broken by one thing. We both know it. We both knew it from the second we met. Perhaps we should have seen this coming. Seen all of it coming. But we didn't. And now we're faced with the reality of our decisions. Those we made willingly and those we forced upon each other.

With his silence I felt no pain and moved surely to the edge of the rocks. He didn't move to stop me. The coward. And I jumped.

image credit to Neonnote

Sunday, June 19, 2016

To the Man One Row Up and Two Seats Over

To the man one row up and two seats over from me in church this morning, thank you. Thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for showing the emotions that so many must have been feeling, but so few would show in public.

You don’t know this, but I prayed for you on my way to church this morning. I usually don’t pray before church, but today I felt myself drawn to pray for others that would hear today’s sermon. I know now that you were one of those others. I knew today’s sermon was going to be on how our relationship with our earthly father affects our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and that I’ve had a pretty great example of what fatherly love looks like. So I knew that while the message would be inspiring, because it was Tanya Whitaker giving it, I knew that it wasn’t necessarily going to be for me.

So on my very short drive to church this morning, as I was running very late, I prayed that everyone who was going to be listening would find a connection to Tanya and find some personal understanding and meaning in their own lives, from her lesson. I prayed for all the fathers. And I prayed for those without fathers, regardless of circumstance.

To the man one row up and two seats down, I just want you to know that I don’t know which of those categories you fall into, if any of them. I want you to know that I don’t understand your pain, but I felt it. I want you to know that you were meant to be at that service this morning. And I want you to know that I hope whatever takeaway you have from this morning is a good and lasting one.

You sir, are a stranger to me, but I want you to know that when I saw you cry, I cried with you. I can’t pretend to know anything about you or your circumstances, your past, or your present. But I know that I am thankful to you for serving as a reminder that church isn’t about me and that God does answer prayers. You don’t know it, but you were part of an answered prayer. And I hope that whatever you prayed for at the end of service this morning, is a prayer that God will answer for you.