The Direction of Your Feet

9. Your favorite moment of the day and your least favorite moment of the day.

My favorite moment of the day and my least favorite moment of the day happened to be the same moment, differentiated only by the direction of my feet, the position of the sun, and the numbers on the clock.

Some days, I do neither of these in which case, I could always come up with a new high and low. But most days, I do these things and they are the best and the worst. Not that the things in between these two moments are less, or not enough, or terrible. Often, the moments in between these two are delightful, and fun, and full of people I love. Many days, the in between is frustrating and makes me extra glad for my favorite moment. But I can appreciate something that makes me grateful for another thing. I’m not always alone in my favorite and least favorite moment. And being alone certainly makes the worst moment worse, but it doesn’t make it better.

But I am an introvert and home is home. So leaving is the worst and arriving is the best. Feet pointed out is my least favorite moment, and feet pointed in is my very favorite.

Home means Allen.
Leaving (usually) means he is staying and I am going.
Home means quiet.
Leaving means traffic and jam packed cars on tiny streets or busy highways.
Home means I can read.
Leaving means rain or snow or too hot or too cold.
Home is just right.
Leaving means people who might judge me or say a mean thing.
Home means acceptance.
Leaving also means friends and new experiences and fun places.
But home always means comforts: my pillow & my favorite blanket.
Leaving means new sights and smells.
Home means familiarity.
Leaving means crowds.
Home means home.

Big enough

7. Something that shook your belief system to the core (a big disappointment in your life)

Whether my parents had this intention or not, I grew up in a seemingly perfect family. Mom, dad, daughter son, and of course, a dog. The only thing we were missing was a white picket fence outside our house. We went to church every Sunday. My brother and I were good students- like I almost had a meltdown when I received my first B junior year of high school good. Yes, everything was grand.

As much as it pains me to talk about, growing up in my family was tough for me at times. You see, my brother is bipolar (an illness he wouldn’t be diagnosed with until he was 20 years old). This meant a lot of things for me and my family. It meant the tempers were as strong and unpredictable as a summer storm. It meant a lot of arguments and a lot of yelling behind closed doors and sometimes in open spaces. It meant family meetings in the living room that no one really wanted to be at. It meant tears and anger, but mostly for me- it meant resentment.

I could not, no matter how hard I tried, wrap my head around why this was happening to us. To the family that did everything right. That went to church multiple times a week, served in numerous areas, and did all the things a “good Christian family” was supposed to do. It must mean that God wasn’t really who he says he is, and he doesn’t care as much as he wants us to think. In fact, it’s possible there isn’t even a God at all.

I remember one day in particular, I was so tired and frustrated, I didn’t know what else to do besides cry. I wasn’t quite old enough to drive, which means I was barely old enough to deal with emotions to begin with, but I lost it. And as all good stories go, I didn’t lose it in my room or at my friend’s house. No, I lost it at church. The one place I felt like I was supposed to have it all together. I couldn’t help myself. All of the overwhelming thoughts and emotions I had kept in for so long finally came pouring out of me, and by some miracle, Kathy was there.

SIDE NOTE: I’m going to break for a quick second to tell you a little bit about Kathy. She is joyful and kind, spunky and brave. She was never afraid to ask me the tough questions and push me out of my comfort zone,  yet she was so gentle and encouraging. I left my time with her feeling like I could accomplish those big dreams that didn’t even have words yet. To this day, she is one of the people I hold dear to my heart for the role she has played in my life. 

So Kathy found me crying in the bathroom (can you say low point?) and decided we needed to get together. I had never gotten together with an adult before, but I thought it was a pretty big milestone for me. Since I wasn’t old enough for margaritas (Kathy’s words, not mine), we decided to go for a walk at the park.

I’ll be honest- I don’t remember all the details of our conversation. I remember feeling like it was a safe place to pour out all my doubts, fears, anger, questions, and Kathy seemed good with that. The one detail I do remember is once I was done, she asked me one question: “If someone could prove to you today that God wasn’t real and he doesn’t exist, what would you miss the most?” “Having someone to talk to.” “That’s a good place to start,” she said.

Now I know those words don’t seem that profound, but they blew my preteen mind at the time. I had a good place to start. She was the first person to ever give me permission to doubt all the things I had been taught up to that point, and doubt I did.

I began to ask questions of God every day. I told him how angry I was at him for sitting by and watching my family struggle. Angry at all the hurt in the world that he had the power to make disappear and didn’t. I admitted I wasn’t even sure he was real or if I was just talking to myself.

Looking back, I can see God’s hand in all of this- how he watched out for me and took care of me. The lessons I learned from it could be their own blog.

But the biggest thing for me was I finally learned to be honest with him. I learned that he can handle my questions, my anger, and all the other things I thought I couldn’t bring to him. He is big enough for all of it. 

 

 

Elizabeth Rose

6. Write about your best friend (not significant other) and what makes them special.

Moving around a lot is not the best lifestyle to learn how to develop deep and meaningful friendships. Sure, I had “best friends” growing up, but when you’re eight, all a best friend was was a girl who would come over for sleepovers. You don’t really have baggage when you’re eight and the darkest secret you have to share is you stole a stick of gum out of your mom’s purse.

I learned that friendships come and go and that’s just the way it is. They don’t last a long time and that was okay with me. I never knew any different, and I didn’t really desire to have anything else.

When my family moved to the northeast, I was expecting the same routine: move here, stay for a year or two, and then leave. My parents, however, had a much different idea. Apparently the northeast was where we were going to call home now. For good.

Since moving here, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever come across. People who have challenged me, trusted me, listened to me and help me become a better person. Liz is one of those people. In fact, she’s very near the top.

I’m going to do my best in the next several paragraphs to put words to one of the truest, kindest people I’ve ever been friends with. I have a feeling that no matter what I say, I won’t be able to quite do her justice, but I’m going to try.

Liz is honest. In every sense of the word. She isn’t afraid to tell it like it is and ask you questions that cut straight to your soul. She’s the one I go to when I want someone to tell me the things I don’t necessarily want to hear, but need to hear. Not only is this a rare trait in and of itself, but she does it with so much grace, she would make Princess Diana look bad. There’s a beauty to her words that is unparalleled and truth you know only comes from Jesus.

Liz is funny as crap. You can even ask her- she’s the funniest person she knows. She’s the type of funny that makes you cry and your belly ache from laughing so hard. Her wit is a hard one to match and keeps me on my toes, despite the fact the only language I know is sarcasm. There have been multiple occasions in which we’ve talked about putting together a Buzzfeed list of all our thoughts on a particular subject just because we know we can crack other people up as much as we crack ourselves up.

Finally, Liz is brave. She doesn’t let all the junk that comes up in life stop her from doing what she feels like she’s supposed to do. I have seen her wrestle with wanting a husband for herself and finding said husband, then deciding to get married just a few months later. I personally thought she was crazy, but Liz didn’t care. She knew that was what she was supposed to do, and she was brave enough to stick to it. I’ve seen her be brave when she’s had to let go of old friendships, make new ones, and struggle through learning to be vulnerable. She lives her life with a conviction you rarely get to see.

There aren’t many people I’ve met that are quite like Liz. She is one of the good ones.

Big dreams

5. Discuss some of the things on  your bucket list

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a bucket list. Activities I want to do, places I want to see, people I want to meet. I must have started this list in elementary school, and it feels like every time I cross something off, I think of something new to add. While some may think having a never-ending list drives my Type A personality crazy, it actually keeps me grounded.

Keeping this list is a constant reminder that there’s always more to life than what I’m currently going through. It reminds me there’s more places to see and keeps me dreaming. I think it’s so easy to let go of big dreams the older we get. Our logic kicks in more and more with each passing year and tells us it doesn’t make sense to want to see every country or one day meet the president (I plan on taking this off for the next 4-8 years depending on who wins this election.).

In the meantime, here are some of the bucket list items I look forward to the most!

  1. Visit every continent.

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I’ve had the travel bug since I was born. I grew up moving around every year or two, and while some may think that’s a crazy way to live, I loved it. It taught me how to make new friends easily, what it’s like to be the new kid, and how to entertain myself for hours on end.

While all of these are great lessons, I think the most important thing I learned is there’s always more out there to see. The thought of getting to see so many different people and cultures is exhilarating to me. The more places I go, the more I want to. So far, I’ve been to both America’s, Europe, and Africa. I’m basically halfway there, which isn’t too bad for being 24.

2. Visit every state.

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Yes, I’m super excited to visit every country, but the more states I visit, the more I realize how much there is to see right here!

Just last month I went to San Diego for the first time and absolutely fell in love with it. Though I’ll be honest- being on a flight for 6 hours and ending up in the same country did feel a little anticlimactic. Visiting the sea lions totally made up for it though.

IMG_0121I also would love to be able to look at map of the United States and be able to say, “Yep, I’ve been to all those places.”

3. Run a half-marathon.

Okay, so I know this one is completely unrelated to the first two, but I still want to talk about it. I used to love running. I’m talking “would run 8 miles just for the heck of it” type of love. Yet the older I got, the less I loved it. It started to feel like a chore, and anytime I started training for a race, something got in the way. I injured my foot, I ended up going on vacation, etc.

For me, being able to say I ran 13.1 miles is another way for me to say I pushed past all the stuff I don’t like to do something that’s good for me. I don’t want to be the type of person who quits something just because it’s hard, so this one is definitely more of a symbolic bucket list item than actually wanting to run long distance. I’m also hoping that in the process, maybe I’ll start to love it again.

 

 

 

Alyssa.

6. Write about your best friend (not significant other) and what makes them special.

I do not have a sparkling history with female friendships. Most of them have disintegrated over time, some of them had abrupt endings I wasn’t ready for, one ended in basically every girls nightmare, but mostly they’ve just quietly faded like jeans that have been washed many times.

At this point in my life, I only have so much energy to invest in friendships anyway. I feel like I have a core group of ladies, all over the U.S. really, that I would consider my closest friends. ‘Best’ implies one, but I really have at least 4 or 5 ‘best’ friends, so that’s kind of my middle finger to the English language and I don’t care. For the focus of this blog, Alyssa is my best friend.

There are roughly 8 people that I can truly be myself with. 4 of those are immediate family. 1 is my husband. 1 is Alyssa. [The others are irrelevant for this post.] I do not filter my thoughts or feelings when I talk to Alyssa. I’m never embarrassed by my words or actions or questions or thoughts when I share with her. I am truly my 100% unfiltered self with her. I don’t feel a need to please, and I’m not worried I’ll disappoint her. I don’t wonder if she’s judging me (usually she tells me if she is) or if she’ll hate me if I do a certain thing, and I don’t usually have to explain myself to her because she gets me.

That, among all the things that make her special, is what makes her the most special. Because I believe that this isn’t just true for me and our friendship, but for all people who know and are close to Alyssa. In her presence, we’ve found someone we can be our true selves with. Our conversations with her are raw and filled with the awkward beauty that only shows itself when a person can share all the things hiding in the cracks of our souls. Something about Alyssa beckons you to pour out the things you stuffed inside those cracks, and without judgment, she listens. And then she accepts you. For exactly who you are in the moment that you are. I know so few people who, when you’ve put yourself on the line, she takes it and says, “you are enough.” I have gone most of my life believing I was not enough, particularly in my female friendships. But I have never felt less with Alyssa, nor has she ever done anything to make me feel less.

I have more to write, because although that is my #1 reason Alyssa is one of my favorite people alive today, it is not my only reason.

This sentence will never truly capture how intensely I mean this, but Alyssa is thoughtful. Which is the most understated sentence on this blog. Tangible examples? The presents she buys/makes for people. A gift should say, “I understand you and everything you are” and all the gifts she’s given to others and the ones I receive they are just that. It honestly floors me, because I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who understands her ‘people’ the way she does. One of a kind is another giant understatement.

Alyssa is honest. And honesty is all I ask of people. Seriously. I learned a long time ago it is THE thing for me. It’s a deal breaker in a relationship. Dishonesty boils my blood. So Alyssa’s blunt honesty is one of my favorite things about her. I can always count on her to give it to me straight, even, and especially if it’s something I don’t want to hear. Again, she’s like that with the people she loves. She’s strikingly honest and says what needs to be said to the people who need to hear it.

Alyssa is funny and a joy to be around. You might be like, okay yeah but there are a lot of people who are funny and a joy to be around. But Alyssa has my kind of humor. Her sarcasm is top of the line, her wit is off the charts, and I often want to screen shot our banter texting and show the world that we’re basically Fey and Poehler but not as famous. Yet. To say that Alyssa “gets me” is cliche, but so true. I’m circling back around to my other point, sometimes my humor can be a little dark or extreme, but there’s no need to filter, because Alyssa comes back with the perfect response. Every. Time.

There are a million things I love about Alyssa.
But this is what makes her special.

 

*insert globe pic*

5. Discuss some of the things on your bucket list
My bucket list is 90% travel destinations. If you’ve known me for more than 24 hours, this cannot be a surprise to you. All my locations hold special meaning though! So… happy reading!
1. Verona, Italy
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I’m going to go ahead and assume that you, my dear reader, are not going to be too judgmental when I open my heart up to you and tell you some of the special meaning behind these places for me.
Okay, having said that, I’ll let you guess why I want to go to Verona.
“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives. Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows doth with their death, bury their parents strife.”
Yes, that is the opening for Romeo and Juliet.
Yes, I wrote that from memory.
There is probably nothing super special about Verona. (Save that it is located in Italy.) And I understand that Shakespeare didn’t WRITE this in Verona, it’s just set it Verona. I know. I’m an adult, I know things.
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But Romeo and Juliet holds a really special place in my heart. It’s my favorite play. I honestly find it so beautiful and so tragic. I weep every time I read it. Romeo is one of my favorite fictional characters and Leonardo DiCaprio is my favorite Romeo. It’s okay that we can’t be friends anymore, but one day, I will read Romeo and Juliet sitting in a cafe in Verona, and you won’t get to see the artsy photos that I post about it cause we aren’t friends anymore.
2. Hobbiton 
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The other thing most people know about me within 24 hours of meeting me is my love for The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. Yes, it’s that fandom movie obsession thing and whatever. But I’m going to give you a slightly more sentimental reason for wanting to visit and perhaps you’ll understand more and judge less. (*cough* Alyssa *cough*)
“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit…”
When I was in 4th grade, my mother and I read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien together. We would read chapters out loud to each other each night, or almost anyway, until we finished it. It’s a memory I associate with love- love from my mother, love for my mother, and love for reading. The Shire, the Misty Mountains, Erebor, Lake Town, the Lonely Mountain, these were the far off places my childhood imagination explored. They came with me to adulthood. When I finally read the Lord of the Rings series, I added locations: Rohan, Mordor, Gondor, but I also went back to The Shire.
You can imagine my excitement when I realized that The Shire was a real place. So it’s been on my bucket list for years.
3. Visit WWII memorials/ camps
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I love history. Love to study it and read it and I find it interesting and engaging. However, This (WWII) is my favorite time period to study. I am morbidly fascinating with all the events and details of this World War. I’ve been to DC six or more times, and visited the Holocaust Museum at least 4 of them. I love fiction novels set in this time period, movies set in this time period, I am beyond fascinated by every single aspect of this war. I took a class in college called “Remembering WWII: Europe” about how different countries in Europe remembered WWII in their literature, museums, statues, etc… I waited three years to take that history class because I specifically wanted to study WWII.
I grew up in The South (Georgia) and being able to visit historical sites had a great impact on my life. A lot of our family vacations had some element of history to them. I always feel weird admitting this, but I want to take a tour of Europe and see the camps and the statues.
I’ll finish up on a happier note…
4. The Globe theater 
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You already know I like Shakespeare. There’s a good chance you know I was a theater major in college. Combine that with my appreciation for history and it doesn’t take a detective to figure out why I want to go here.

ACTUAL FIRST TIME SHAKESPEARE PLAYS PERFORMED HERE. This is history and theater and SHAKESPEARE, people!! I’m dying to go here. So much so that two different people have brought me mugs from the gift shop. I also had a friend who was in London briefly, and took a picture outside of the Globe JUST FOR ME. Like, crunched her schedule, forced her travel companions to go to this place, and took a picture outside just so I could see.

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Proof that my friends love me and believe in my dreams.

We talkin ’bout practice

4. Something in life that gives you balance

Despite my introvertedness (read more about that here), I am quite the doer. I have a hard time saying not to the people and things that I love. Want to grab dinner? Sure! Need someone to volunteer for a project? I’m there.

I love feeling like I’m contributing to bigger things and to the people around me. I get a ton of joy from being able to help someone out and going on random adventures whenever the chance comes up. In fact, some of my fondest memories are from times I said yes to spontaneous beach trips, road trips, girls’ nights out, whatever.

I enjoy looking at a full calendar on a Sunday night and seeing the name of each person I know I’m going to connect with the following week. Even in high school, my mom would drive me from school, to cheer practice, and then to church- all on a Tuesday night. I’ve always been this way… basically, I like saying “yes.”

“Yes” is a beautiful thing when used in the right context, but I’m learning to practice using another beautiful word. NO.

Saying no is not an easy thing for me. I struggle with feeling selfish with my time, and if I’m being totally honest, sometimes saying no makes me feel a little guilty. I can’t help but secretly wonder if I’m making the people around me happy.

So while I don’t really enjoy saying “no,” I have started to practice it more often. Because like anything we want to start (or stop), it’s going to require practice.

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It’s going to require a willingness to disappoint some people even though that’s the last thing you want to do. It’s going to require the courage to say no to dinner with your friends because you need to stay home and spend some time with Jesus after a long day.

Luckily, I am not the first person to struggle with this, and I certainly won’t be the last. Lysa Terkeurst says it perfectly in her book The Best Yes. “Here’re the reality of our current technique: Other people’s requests dictate the decisions we make. We become slaves to others’ demand when we let our time become dictated by request. We will live reactive lives instead of proactive.

I don’t know about you, but the last word I want to think of when I look back on my life ten years from now is reactive. I don’t want to let other people’s demands and expectations determine the way my life unfolds, but if I say yes to too many things, I think that’s what will happen.

I want to live a proactive life. A life that’s filled with moments where I wasn’t afraid to say no to some things so that I could say yes to what was best.