there’s a noah and the whale song entitled “5 years time.” nothing profound in the lyrics, but it’s a catchy tune about a guy and a girl and how he feels about her and where they’ll be in 5 years.

the last few lines:

In 5 years time you might just prove me wrong
Oh, there will be love love love wherever you go

i received a little message from wordpress, congratulating me on my 5 year blogging anniversary with them, which got me reminiscing. this time 5 years ago i was still in norway with no plans of moving. today i live in a city i had never visited 5 years ago. colorado is where people vacationed, where our family vacationed. today i have a different job, my value and belief system has changed in varying degrees, i have a niece and a nephew, i’m thinking of going back to school. i’m living in the states! that alone still baffles me at times. i’m an adult now. not that i wasn’t 5 years ago, but time and circumstances has caused me to think differently, take advantage of the life i have and grow up. (but not too much)

someone recently posted a picture of me from high school. i can’t bring myself to post it here because let’s be honest – it wasn’t pretty. but it’s proof yet again, that life has the potential to get better. but it only gets better if i keep putting one foot in front of the other, following my instincts, trusting that i have everything i need right inside me. i can’t make the same mistakes i made 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago. i am responsible for me – no one else. if nothing else, time has taught me that.

who knows where i will be in 5 years time? one foot in front of the other, a day at a time, trusting and choosing to love this life i’ve been given.

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i’m packing up and moving on and as a result, this little house is looking sad and barren. she’s served me well these past 2 1/2 years. i’ve written a little of the journey of finding this place (tears and long lost midwestern-ness were my saving grace) and my journey of beginning again. my roommate at the time and i scoured craigslist the weeks before moving to denver and ended up couch-surfing the first few weeks, being told that the wait for a three bedroom place was at least 3 months. we finally found this place, toured it, applied and were promptly rejected because of our incomes. i burst into tears on the phone, explaining to the landlord (an old man with an oxygen tank, also from kansas) that we were responsible and had money, even if our bank accounts didn’t reflect that. he called me back a few minutes later, saying that he liked us and we’d better not let him down. he’s still crotchety, but he likes us and we’ve proven ourselves.

the duplex on yarrow street has provided me a place to rest, figure out what it meant to live in the states again. i wanted it to be a place of peace and calm in the midst of a crazy, busy world and i think it’s been just that. i’ve continued my journey of creativity here, had a place for friends and family to visit. i love this house, even with the sketchy neighborhood, (3 standoffs/drug busts in a week is the record – so far.) drafty windows and old-house quirks. there’s dave, the next door neighbor (to whom i owe my second hand highs) who has lent his lawn mower, shoveled the driveway after a snow and cleared off our cars early in the morning. i love being independent, but it’s been reassuring to know there’s someone who could help out in a pinch. his phone number was an added bonus.

the transition back to the states, to a new place in particular, has been more difficult than i ever could have imagined. i still feel norwegian and have norwegian tendencies (candles at the table, shoes off at the door and coffee all day to name a few.) and have struggled to keep those tendencies alive. this home has helped. this house has held beautiful backyard bonfires, multiple brunches and parties. and now i’m moving. i’m just moving into the city, but it’s one more change. upon change, upon change. the last year has brought new roommates, changing relationships and jobs, not to mention internal changes and it seems like this is the perfect time to make a physical change.

so, thanks for being home, little duplex on yarrow street. you’ve served me well.

i am very much aware of myself. self-aware, narcissistic, call it what you may, but i know myself. i know what motivates, what makes me angry, what hurts, what makes me come alive. but for a long time i did not recognize myself. i honestly don’t know if i can pinpoint when it all began, but i suspect it started young, hiding when life was downright unfair, not having the coping mechanisms i needed at such a young age. but we can only hide so long. our true selves are not patient people and they will show themselves. and often, we are unrecognizable to ourselves and those around us when it happens.

i think my true self finally had the courage to emerge after a series of several traumatic events – a natural disaster, a friend’s death, a bombing and transitioning from not only a country, but a career. over the next few months i lost a crazy amount weight, didn’t brush my hair because it scared me how much hair was in the brush, lost my appetite, cried multiple times every day, couldn’t sleep and i thought about death – a lot. look up the definition of depression and my name was there.

so i went to counseling. i went to an amazing woman who validated and listened to me, made me ask tough questions. she taught me to take up space in a room and love myself. she showed me that life is really shitty at times (there’s really no other word to describe it) but it is also beautiful and kind of magical. i learned that thankfulness is key and for the first time, my faith was NECESSARY. i didn’t have answers, but i realized that really isn’t the point.

cue the end of a relationship and all of that hard work was threatened. i was back in the same cycle. i remember telling the person i was dating that i didn’t think i was suppose to be on anti-depressants and that i felt like a lot of what i was dealing with was really important to notice and experience. but when the relationship ended, i was right back in the same place, only it felt really personal. i couldn’t see myself anymore. i did what i was suppose to do: counseling, eating right, vitamins, working out, surrounded myself with really great people – but nothing helped. i felt like i was giving in, but i went to the dr, found myself on a tried and true anti-depressant and within a week, felt like ME for the first time in 3 years. not the paranoid, emotionally unstable (let’s be honest here, i’m a crier and always will be), hopeless person who often took front stage, but the person who was creative, saw the potential of a really beautiful future and could truly appreciate what she had been given.

there are days and situations that are ridiculously messy and difficult. and even with the help of a happy pill, my life is not perfect. that pill tricks my brain into working the way it was intended, but it solves nothing. i have to consciously be aware of the lies in my head and invite truth to take precedence. i have to take care of my body and practice vulnerability. i can’t just sit back and let life happen. and even then sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. tonight with the reminder that life is oh so short and precious, i choose life. again and again.

i went to the gym today, worked, saw a movie (audrey tatou can do no wrong) and came home, sat on my back porch, lit a cigarette and cried.

it’s been a week. tough news, crazy spouts of achy loneliness with no resolve, a world that is harsh and violent, busyness, yet the moments when i am alone and aware seem so very long. in the midst, there are these beautiful moments of peace – a kind word, gentle reminders of goodness, storms sweeping in over the mountains, new possibilities to dream, my little garden that provides herbs, tomatoes, peppers. and then the loneliness hits again out of nowhere. there are these little roots of distrust, insecurity and jealousy that threaten to kill relationships – good relationships with lovely and kind people. i have questions and doubts and i question not only myself, but God. and i know i am not alone in these thoughts.

and then i am reminded that i am human. i make mistakes, but i have also made brave, good decisions. i am not defined by my past and am being made new. i believe in truth, but also know that there is room for questions. the world is far too full of stagnant people, never daring to question what they see and hear. i want more. and that is uncomfortable. and lonely. i have questions and very few answers. but i am comforted, trying to living in paradox.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” (rilke)

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”     – mary oliver

if you’ve been around me long enough, you know that my mantra for the past year has been “yes.” that mantra was born out of a long season of grief, depression (i don’t use that word lightly), loads of fear and the effects of all that nastiness. i discovered ruby woo (a red lipstick that has rocked my world), the power of leather pants (sometimes they work a little too well) and am learning how not to live so analytically and simply LIVE because of saying “yes.” it’s harder than it sounds.

i use to think i was a pessimist. now i’m not so sure. i think i’m actually an optimist that was given a few bad hands and instead of standing up for myself, i backed down and believed the little ugly voices in my head. those voices robbed me of life for several years. i’m finding my way back and last week i had a moment where i realized that saying “yes” has become a way of life. and perhaps the freedom to do so has even affected those around me for the better.

there are days (or weeks, if i’m honest) when life is really difficult. take last week for instance: two of my first and best friends here in denver both decided to move within the same week. i saw a couple traumatic things happen and my heart is trying its damnedest to remain open to possibilities when everything inside of me just wants to run. so what did i do in the midst of this? i wish i could say that i rose above and handled everything with grace and openness. instead i hid a little and cried a lot. i busied myself so i wouldn’t have to deal with all that was outside of my control – which if we’re honest, is everything outside of myself. i tried to control situations and i based present circumstances on past results. i work with teen girls, some of whom have experienced things i can only imagine. and we talk of mindfulness, taking people at face value, not reading into situations. i’m not always good at listening to my own advice.

all this to say… saying “yes” to life is a day by day choice. some days it’s a moment by moment choice. and as i write this, i am choosing yes, choosing life, choosing to be okay – whatever happens. what a gift.