Brave Brave Brandy

I had a lovely Friday afternoon driving out to Turtle Rock in the Red River Gorge to spend some time with my brave, beautiful, cousin Brandy (her wonderful sister Sherry was there to help too!). She’s a senior this year. She’s also funny, adventurous, and kind. She’s an extraordinary person, one who is willing to brave cold water and the woods, to wear my first ever flower (ok it’s eucalyptus) crown, and generally just be uncomfortable with so much grace! Brandy has a presence. She is one of the most serene individuals I’ve ever met. I am sure her future will be filled with love and joy.

Red River Summer

Today I got the chance to run around the Gorge with an adventurous new friend, Ben. We scuttled up a rope to reach the top of Cloud Splitter and he even–successfully–encouraged me to climb/crawl through a cave to get a better view of the Gorge. We also took it easy and spent some time playing with the camera and lounging around in a handy little hammock. Of course we finished off the day with pizza.

River River

The Kentucky River is not a remarkable landmark by any means but there is something I love about its humble lack of pretension. It twists slowly through the bluegrass murmuring about the mountains. The river is a friend of mine. 

Mississippi

I found out this May that Mississippi is a great place to explore genteel ruins, swamps, and unfinished octagon houses. But more importantly, it’s a great place to be with friends. These are just a few of my favorites.

Namaste y’all! (As quoted from a local arts and crafts gallery)

Remembering 

The sun sank into the horizon as I dangled my feet into the lukewarm hot-tub of my apartment complex this evening. Watching it, I remembered. You see, I realized that I lost someone this week. If I’m being honest, I lost this person nearly ten years ago.

The worst part is that I didn’t realize that he had slipped away. He’s been gone for days, and I didn’t know until yesterday. I don’t know what happened and I don’t need to. I’ll just remember.

The him that was mine–a long time ago–was a wild-eyed boy with disheveled hair and a quick smile, a quick quip. He was the kind of boy who would lead you outside and slowly point out the constellations that filled the sky on his mother’s farm. He was the kind of boy who caused butterflies to flutter in your stomach while you tried to focus on a chess match and then wait until just the right moment to kiss you for the first time. But, that boy was lost to me long ago.

We grew up. We took different paths. We lost touch. Then his mother died and suddenly years of unknowing one another didn’t matter.

We stayed with that boy out on the ridge where his mother once lived. We three, once very young and unwise, sat outside and looked at the stars, and for the smallest of moments, we were 18 again and friends. Very little else mattered.

Now he’s gone again. And, this time he won’t come back. We will never sit in the quiet of an early summer evening and watch the stars come out. But, I’ll remember.

March Meandering 

A few weeks ago Christine and I searched the curving roads near the Kentucky River off of highway 27 for a route to the palisades. Well, my mother and I found them today in a tiny park called Jim Beam Nature Perserve. It is a quiant little walk hidden behind some tricky one lane roads where dogs jump out at your tires and it’s easy to drive around in circles.

Spring in Kentucky is a beautiful thing. I hope you’re out enjoying it. We got out and were goofy.

“To be born in Kentucky is a heritage; to brag about it is a habit; to appreciate it is a virtue.”

-Irvine Cobb

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A Little Dose of Gratitude

I am sure that–like me–you have those times when you feel a little aimless. I am naturally a goal-oriented, meaning seeking, creature. Down time is not something I am comfortable with. If work is finished then chores or projects need my attention. If the mood to clean hasn’t struck, then perhaps it’s time to read something edifying. I cannot count the number of times I have reached over the bookcase for a battered copy of essays by Emerson that I snatched from a free book box in the 9th grade. I don’t like to live in those spaces in between doing things. I’ve struggled with being still my entire life.

This struggle has intensified since graduating college…the first time and the second. Frustration is a near constant companion of mine. Sometimes, I feel like my entire life is being played out in one of those “in between” spaces. Wasted time. Wasting time. Killing time? I don’t know. All I know is that I am always waiting for the next thing. The job that will give me that elusive sense of fulfillment, the house that will give me creative space and a garden. I live in anticipation. It isn’t a fun place. In fact, I think it is a dangerous place because it numbs us to the most important state of living, thankfulness.

I’ve recently begun Amy Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. In her second chapter a passage struck a chord with me because it held sentiments that I understand so well:

“I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary…It’s the in between that drives us mad.”

Oh, now! I could sympathize with that statement one thousand times! I live in fear that I am wasting time. I am not doing enough. I am not enough. But, that’s just not true. I’m just striving after the wrong things. And, you probably are too. If we look around and appreciate the wonderful, crazy, beautiful things that make up our lives, we can stop striving and find what we need right where we are.

Voskamp, is a Christian writer approaching life from a Christian perspective, but I think her words and thoughts are valuable to anyone. So many cultures teach that gratitude brings peace. And, Voskamp does a lovely job of breaking down the Greek word Eucharisteo to show that grace and joy can both be found in the word for Thanking–Eucharisteo. Even more convicting, she shows that the ultimate form of thanksgiving, the eucharist, is made up of ordinary daily things. Bread and wine. If you want to live fully, to find joy, grace, and peace then you have to choose to live in a state of thankfulness. You cannot take the wonderful, mad, scary, fantastic things in your life for granted. Of course, my battered old copy of essays had been trying to tell me that for years.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”-R.W. Emerson

 

Peace.

Strive No More

We can breathe–the weekend has arrived. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready for it.

It seems like we all spend so much time striving throughout the week (the weekend is a fiction for most of us too, I suppose we’re striving then as well). I was listening to a Gungor album earlier on Spotify and a line from Wake With the Morning  caught my attention and held on to it for awhile:

“Oh my soul, Deafened by striving”

Just getting by, and working for that weekend can leave us feeling exhausted and deafened. I don’t know about you, but my reserves are running a little low tonight. I hope you are taking the time to chill out–to listen to a little easy music, and take a deep breath and a slow look around at the wonders about you. Sigh. Let it go and get some rest.

A New Story

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The end of Febuary seems like an odd time to start living a different life. It doesn’t have the sophistication of a New Year’s resolution, but every morning is a new start. Maybe we should live a new life every day? Or maybe we should at least reevaluate our lives every morning? Just a thought.

Febuary has significance for me though. This time last year I lost my best friend, Al. Al was a sweet and special kitty who came into my life at a turbulent time, and he stuck with me through a lot of trials and adjustments. There were many good times too! He was my baby.

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Losing Al was the beginning of one of the most stressful years of my life–my quarter life crisis  if you will. My world had exploded and I tried to hold it all in–to swallow my grief and outrage. I didn’t want to be a crazy lady who fell apart when her cat died. But, he was so much more than a cat. And, I was falling apart, slowly and quietly.

My anger was so stealthy, I didn’t even know that it was lurking in the back of my mind and tainting all the things I touched. I didn’t take care of myself last year. Not once did I check in with my feelings, with the things I was doing, or not doing. In short, I had a wasted year. I didn’t grow as a person. My spiritual life was in shambles and my priorities were all wrong. I wanted to escape my own life. My bank account can show you how many movies and books I turned to just to accomplish that goal.

I don’t want to live like that anymore. Our days should be spent intentionally, as should our money and energy. We should do things that feel purposeful to us, that aid our growth in those areas that are significant to us. This is my new story. I am determined to weed out things that clutter up my purpose. I don’t want to participate in things that take up my time, but give little or no value or meaning to my life. I want to live authentically. I want to be my best self. That doesn’t mean that I need to be in control of everything. That’s impossible. But, I can decide how I use my time and energy. I can choose what obligations and activities that I prioritize. If I had known that my poor sweet kitty was going to leave me last year, I would have done a lot of things differently. I would have worked less, and spent more time with him, for one. But, I cannot change the past, I can only control how I move forward.

Your life is a magical work of art. It’s a masterpiece that deserves intionality, care, and meaning. Don’t settle for less. Don’t waste your chance. Drop your job and pick up a paintbrush. Hit the road instead of the grind. Find what really matters to you and seek after it. Follow your head. Follow your heart. Let your soul be your guide. And, always be kind to the universe and it will be kind to you right back.

Peace.