Thursday, September 29, 2016

The authentic artist.

In my life I've found so much freedom and inspiration from writers and artists who have been able to portray their authentic selves through their craft. People who put it all on the line, every disappointment, every single moment of success, it was all out there for everyone to see.

Those people changed the way that I pursued and consumed media. I no longer sought after a superficial and empty reality but rather I craved authenticity. I had a seemingly unquenchable thirst for a moment in the presence of something that was sincere.

The word authentic is defined by good ole Google as meaning "Of undisputed origin; genuine." Growing up my artistic interests and obsessions could all be easily summed up by that word. They were musicians, dancers and painters that all chose to be themselves in a world that told them that someone else was better.

I was home-schooled for all of my K-12 years and although I wasn't particularly fond of it at the time, I now see that it played a huge part in the type of person that I am today. I didn't grow up in an environment where I was constantly struggling with peer pressure and being bombarded with over-sexualized media and crude language. I grew up being teased only by my siblings and never really having anyone make fun of me for the things I liked.

I was raised in an environment that allowed me to have the space and security I needed to figure out who I was.

Recently, I've struggled with being open and truly authentic on this blog. At times I hold back my thoughts, focus too much on what certain people might think and even worry so much about views that I start to write posts that are just eye catching instead of thoughtful.

I've been thinking a lot about why I started blogging in the first place and that train of thought took me back to my youth and the experiences that guided my life. I did not start this blog with the purpose and intention that lots of people would read it. I started this blog because I wanted it to be a space where I could leave it all on the field.

A place where I could pour out my ideas, my dreams, my ambitions. I wanted and still want this to be a place where readers can come and find a human not a robot trying to fit the mold of the modern day writer.

I'm constantly tempted to adapt and change in order to be more popular. Just last week I was looking through my blog  history and looking at the posts that have gotten the most views. I was trying to find a trend so that I could continue writing about those topics so that I could continue to get that volume of views and shares. I was actively feeding into the practice of writing for numbers.

I realize now that those posts didn't get 100's of views because I was writing with an agenda but rather because I wasn't. People shared them and wrote to me about them because they could see my heart in the words and could hear my voice in it's tone.

I started 'Give the grave only bones' because of my love for authenticity and the way that it has inspired and directed my life. If that spirit is lost or is pushed to the side, this whole thing something that I love and enjoy doing so much, will simply become a chore. A task that becomes exhausting and eventually too much work to continue.

My unique upbringing and the art that I consumed during it has paved the way for me to live a life that is my own. A life that is genuine, sincere, vulnerable and most importantly authentic.

I pray that God continues to give me a heart that is tender to the things of this world that are real. The things that beat to a different drum and shine with colors anew. Things that remind me that to try and be a copy is to reject the gift that comes with originality.

God could have easily made us all the same. He could have given us all the same skin color and personalities and fingerprints, but he didn't. He didn't do that because he sees the value in diversity and the beauty of our differences.

I wasn't created to fit a mold. I was created to thrive and to share my unique perspective with the world. I feel so blessed to be able to share my thoughts and ideas in this space every single week. The people who read this have been so supportive and loving with their kind words and comments and I'm so grateful for that.

I'm the culprit in this current dilemma. I'm the one that put pressure on myself and let the thoughts and lies of conformity take root in my heart. That all stops today. Authenticity can be scary but compared to the other options it's truly the only route, as an artist, that I'm allowing myself to take.

"Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." -Brene Brown.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The heart of life.

Four years ago, I was sitting on a bus with my friend from Sweden. We were about two months into our semester traveling the world and he had just found out that his grandmother had passed away.

Not only was he away from his family but he was on another continent, didn't have a working phone and had to utilize emails and Facebook to stay up to date. To say that he was upset would be an understatement.

We sat together on the bus and talked for what seemed like forever. We really didn't spend much time talking about the death of his grandmother but rather we talked about her life. He couldn't stop smiling as he shared with me his memories of her and how glad he was to have had her in his life. Right before the bus stopped and we arrived in our new city we listened to a song together. Although I wasn't the one facing a loss, I couldn't help but to cry.

The song was 'Heart of life' by John Mayer and if you've never heard it, I think it's definitely worth listening to. I don't even know why I'm writing about this because it's not the blog that I planned but this morning I woke up with this story on my mind and this song on my heart, so I feel like I should share.

The first line of the chorus is what impacted me so deeply, it says 'Pain throws your heart to the ground, love turns the whole thing around." I think that John Mayer, though at times politically incorrect and wild, was maybe on to something.

I think that we could expand on that line and say that so many things can seemingly grab our hearts and be careless with them, right? Yes, pain throws your heart to the ground but that pain could be caused by our friends, a relationship, our parents, ourselves...the cause of that pain always changes. But love...well love, I truly believe, turns the whole thing around.

I have a hard time focusing on the love when I'm in the midst of pain. As optimistic and silver lining type as I am, when it comes to matters of the heart I'm easily derailed. I'm often quite numb to things that are emotionally too painful or sad and it's because I choose to be that way. When I actually feel it all...when I allow it to hit me like a ton bricks I'm usually pretty undone.

So to wake up thinking about that day and my friend smiling and having so much joy in spite of his pain, I'm reminded of the power of love. Love does not say that there will never be pain, that you will never have hard days but rather that it will be with you in the midst of it.

Love is making the tough decision, even though it may be painful because you know it's the right thing to do. Love is choosing to open yourself up to the possibilities of life. Love is choosing to not be numb with someone... even though you were with everyone else. Love is allowing yourself to bask in the memories of the good times even when you're facing the end.

I think that for this next season of my life God is really encouraging me to not have a heart that is numb and easily derailed but rather to allow him to give me one that is steady.

 The word steady is defined as being "firmly fixed, supported, or balanced; not shaking or moving." What a powerful definition. Now the song on my lips is 'Steady Heart' by Steffany Gretzinger and particularly the line that says "I can't see what's in front of me. Still I will trust you." The chorus goes on to say "Steady heart that keeps on going, steady love that keeps on holding, lead me on."

The Lord often speaks to me through songs and art and today is no exception. I think that what he's leading me to with these songs is that for too long I've had a heart that was rocky and easily moved. But if I allow myself to trust him, even when I can not see, he'll give me a heart that's firmly fixed and supported.

A heart that is steady.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." | 1 Corinthians 15:58

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Here's to 'Happily ever after.'

"When the time comes for me to fall in love, I hope I love the way I learned to ride a bike. Scared but reckless."

I've idolized love and marriage my entire life. I've thought of it as the ultimate goal, the place where every wrong would be turned right, every tear would have meaning, every sad day would be washed away. I would dream about the dress, walking down the aisle with my dad, my mom crying in the front row..for as long as I can remember all I've ever wanted was to get married.

As I sit here writing this I think it's so insane that so many little girls are raised with marriage in the forefront of their minds. Not necessarily because their parents beat them over the head with the idea but rather because culture and media does. I was raised watching Disney movies and other films that didn't have swearing or sex scenes but almost all ended with a girl meeting some wonderful guy and falling in love and most importantly living happily ever after.

Since I was little I've associated marriage with living happily ever after and who doesn't want living happy to be their goal?

Man, was I way off.

This year I had the honor and the privilege of attending four weddings. It was so cool to see some of my closest friends vow forever to each other in front of their family, their friends and in front of God. I cried, I wore bridesmaid dresses, I danced until my feet were killing me but not once did I think "I wish that was me."

My views on marriage and love have changed so much this year. It has gone from being something that I was striving for and arranging my life in order to get to, to instead being something that's now on the back burner.

Falling in love and getting married will never complete me. It won't. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Once I learned that undeniable truth, I was able to dive head first into the things that truly bring me peace, completion and so much happiness.

This weekend while I was watching my college roommate get married I was so happy for her. I was genuinely filled to the brim with happiness because I knew that there wasn't even a hint of jealousy in me. It wasn't there because I'm no longer living in this world as half of a person searching for the other parts of me.

I talked to my best friend, who just got married in March, about this topic and she gave me an interesting perspective. She affirmed my feelings that the idea of being incomplete is a turn off but then said that instead of that person completing you think of it as them complimenting you, which I loved.

She also reminded me that God works through the people in our lives and believes that he uses our friends and spouses to help us where we're weak and to build us up where we may be torn down. Just like he used her and this conversation to help me see how marriage is not completion but it's definitely a partnership and an opportunity for two people to grow not only as individuals but together.

The Lord has been working in my heart so much this year and has been pouring his love over me in such a mighty way that it reminds me of how it's impossible for anyone on this earth to love me more than him. I think that the person that I am now could actually be in a healthy and life giving relationship because I'm able to love others from a place of completion compared to scarcity.

So here's to allowing our forever person to compliment us instead of asking them to take on the daunting and assigned to God task of completing us. Here's to happily ever after.

Until next time. Xoxo.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Denver dreamer.

The morning sun shines bright through my window
I'm awake
I can breathe
I'm alive.

The pain of the night before
seems faint and almost unreal
I can't seem to remember
what the tears were for
what the sadness was about.

As I sit up
wipe my eyes
and take a deep breath
the warmth of a new day envelops me.

It's hard to believe but I'm okay
I'm whole
I'm complete
I'm bursting at the seams with love and light.

With this new horizon comes the joy
the hope
the excitement
for the potential that each new day holds

With yesterdays end
comes the promise of today's start
and it's there that I set my eyes
it's there that I place my hope
it's there that I leave the sadness and expectantly embrace the joy.

I'm letting go and it's in that release
that I'm free.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Give the grave only bones: The inspiration.

In 2013 I read a poem that changed my life. In 2014, after a year of thinking about it, I got a line from that poem tattooed on my right arm. In 2015 after some thought and lots of prayer I decided to start a new blog with the line that changed it all as the title.

I realized today that though I've alluded to it, I've never shared the text that was the catalyst for so much change in my life. I hope that this poem resonates with you the way that it did and still does with me. Give the grave only more than just a poem, or a blog, or even a tattoo it's a lifestyle, it's a choice to leave it all on the field every single day. It's the mission statement of my life. Enjoy.

"If at the end of my life, the only thing I've accomplished is a comfortable life, than my days have been wasted.

If at the end of my life, the only thing that I've fought for is my own name, than my days have been wasted.

If at the end of my life, the only thing I've cared about is my own care, than my days have been wasted.

If at the end of my life, the only thing I've stood up for is my own reputation, than my days have been wasted.

If at the end of my life, the only thing I've traded is works for rewards, than my days have been wasted.

May we not go to the grave quietly.

May we not make refuse of the gifts we've been given.

May we never chase the shiny in place of the holy, the trend instead of the truth, the immediate instead of the eternal.

Arrive empty to the grave, having given all you were given, stewarded all you were tasked.

Give the grave only bones."

Until next time friends. Xoxo.