A forest dark and grim. A young girl shutters as she gasps in between sobs. Her blonde hair hangs in strings from days of neglect. She dared not care for where would she go now? She hesitated, but finally stands up. She looks first southward, where her old, dull, yellow, paint chipped house lies, but turns northward. A dark wind blew from the horizon. She knew not where this path would lead, only that she could no longer bear where she came from. The past was riddled with guilt and doubt. Boldly holding true to herself, she made her first step.
Out of the forest line, she awakens to the shine of a fading orange sun. Heavy and burdened, she made her way out to the plains. She hoped to meet someone there. Someone who could make this all make sense. She blinks her eyes towards the fading sun. Her hopes are scattered in front of her while her heart is cast upon her shoulder. The seams that were stitched together are beginning to crumble and rip. Would she ever trust again? Could she ever trust again?
Her faith makes her strong; the world makes her weary. No longer could she be concerned with the daily passages, for a mission had been taken exposing the frailties in who and what she is. The betrayal was too much to admit. The long lost effort is painful; the passing glances are too much.
Her father’s whiskey stained words echo in her head, but she presses on. Bird wings can be heard fluttering in the long grass in front of her, and for a brief moment a smile flickers across her face, pressing creases in the sides of her mouth. She yearns to fly like a bird and finally be set free. Free from the burdens that never cease from her heart. Free like the un-caged bird.
Falling to her knees she cries out to the blanket of silence that engulfs her. Crying for the love and laughter that had ceased long ago. Her father could never understand. He was, after all, the reason she left in the first place. But now…the deep breath of fresh air liberated her soul. She rises back to her feet.
She feels free at last, as she untucks her wings that were hidden inside of her. Her legs begin to go forward, faster with each step. Faster down the hill she runs. Glorious with arms spread, as if she were to take off at any given moment. And then she came to the bottom. The brief moment of freedom had ended.
She begins up the next hill.
*Though this story is very short, it was co-written with one of my good friends. We were messaging each other back and forth via Facebook, and together we created this story.*
She hugged me and told me, “This isn’t your career. I want to read your book one day.” Shaking and not trying to cry, I whispered, “Okay.” We embraced for a few moments longer, before letting go, and heading towards our cars to go our separate ways.
Peggy is one of my best friends, and the reason why I have the job I have. About a month ago, she told me she was possibly moving to a city almost two hours away, and she wanted to run the thought by me. Instinctively I wanted to tell her no because I didn’t want to lose my best friend at work. After thinking about it for bit, while taking phone calls, I realized it would be best for her to take on this new adventure. I was excited for her and this opportunity. I knew this is exactly what she wanted and needed at this moment in her life.
See a couple months ago, her long term relationship suddenly ended and the happiness that once was an aura around her was now clouded with hurt and frustration. I didn’t want her to suffer from the same pain I took on two years ago. I wanted her to be happy. And when my ex and I decided to go our separate ways, it really helped me personally to be far away from him during that time that my world was shattered and hurt. They say time heals, but I also think distance helps. I didn’t have to worry about that awkwardness if I ran into him at the store, or that disappointment of seeing him on another date at a restaurant.
When Peggy hugged me on our last day at work together, a great pain of sadness hit me. I didn’t want May to end. I didn’t want to go into this summer without her by my side at work, because she was my rock at work. She calmed me when a guest would get me upset. She played mom when I got wound up from drinking energy drinks. She stopped me from quitting when I felt so frustrated with things. I realized I no longer will have those amazing talks after work, discussing whatever happened at work, or laughing at those silly questions we get asked.
As I head into work tomorrow, it probably won’t hit me that she’s officially gone. It probably won’t hit me until Monday, in the middle of my shift, when I’ll probably get a frustrating call, and I’ll look at the empty chair beside me. In the end though, I know we’ll see each other again, and we’ll pick up right where we left, as if time had stopped while we were separated.
It’s never goodbye, Peggy, but always see you later.
A few days ago I went hiking with one of my good friends Luke* at a local state park. It was quite breathtaking. Literally. With my face all red, my legs aching with every “one more step,” my heart pounding so fast it felt like it was about to jump out of my chest, we both made it to the top. And it was probably one of the most spectacular views.
It wasn’t my first time hiking at this state park, but it was the first time I made it all the way to the top and around. I’ve gone with a few of my other friends before and at one point I even took my dog (he enjoyed it quite a bit). The start itself was pretty decent. By this point I knew the beginning part quite well. Those nook and crannies. Those particularly slippery rocks. The part where the steps were significantly high. But as I took it one step closer towards the top, I repeatedly joked with Luke, “Just leave me here to die. You carry on without me.” And he always replied, “No. I won’t leave you here to die.” A little less than halfway, our first real breather stop, he took my backpack and carried it the rest of the way. He is in far better shape than I am, and he knew the path ahead much better than I did. That breather spot had a fantastic view, and I could only imagine the view up ahead.
As we continued on, and I yearned to just stop and turn around to head back down because I was tired, I kept yearning to make it to the top to see that spectacular view. At one point, I lost my footing and fell on my knee. It has a tiny scratch there. Throughout the trek I kept telling myself, “One more step,” until at last, half hour later, we made it to the top. The view…well let’s just say it was ‘on point’ as teenagers say nowadays.
As I stand there marveling at the tiny parking lot below me, and the lake that looked just as grand as it does at the bottom, thunder rumbled across the sky and water began to sprinkle down. At this point it was a horizontal walk for a bit. There were flowers and trees everywhere on top. I knew there were trees everywhere, but for whatever reason I had it in my head that it was going to be really rocky and hardly any vegetation up there. It’s amazing how I picture something in my head and I’m proven wrong but in a beautiful way.
The hike down wasn’t as literally breathtaking as the climb up, just figuratively. The rocks, which had been carved and moved by glaciers in years past, were so beautiful with their shades of red and brown and even a touch of black here and there. The formations were extraordinary. At one point, I saw these really smoothly indentations that looked like the outline of a giant’s butt. I would have taken more pictures, had it not been sprinkling and my battery wasn’t low. Every step down, I’d whisper inside my head, “just one more step…you can do this.” My friend was a trooper in going at a slower pace than he probably would have liked, but he kept making sure I wasn’t going to fall and giving me pointers about where to step based on rock-slipperiness (is that a word?).
After we finally made it down, we continued on. He showed me these indentations in the ground, and when we walked down them, the lower temperature difference immediately wrapped around my ankles. “This would be a grand place to sit and read in the summer time.” He just nodded his head. And at one point, because the rain made the ground rather soft and muddy, I ended up falling down. I shrugged it off like it was nothing, but I was so embarrassed. I don’t even know why.
It’s amazing how this hike resembles so much in my life. In the past few weeks I’ve been on such an emotional roller coaster. An unexplainable emotional roller coaster. My manager at work, though he never asked outright what was wrong but always hinted that he understood, described me as melancholy. The word rolled off his tongue like a ball down a hill. I was baffled that I was noticeably ‘not myself,’ because usually I hide any feeling other than happy deep inside me. In the past few weeks I tripped over a stumbling block. More than once I cried in front of my manager, apologizing, him handing me a tissue and talking me through it, making his typical sarcastic jokes to make me laugh.
In the end, despite how hard it was, and how sore I am now, it was wonderfully worth it, and I couldn’t help but be relieved to overcome something so trivial. In the end, it was just “one more step…one more step” until at last I made it to the top and eventually down again. Just like how the Jordin Sparks song goes, “Just take one step at a time, there’s no need to rush, it’s like learning to fly, or falling in love…it’s gonna happen, when it’s supposed to happen, and we find the reasons why, one step at a time.”
If you press on, on step at a time of course, you’ll eventually be able to climb over your mountain. But don’t give up because you’re tired, weary, and red-faced.
“Hey, head to the training room.” I hear my manager say to me and a few others. “This will be interesting,” I think. So I head over to the room. For the next half hour or so we go over some numbers and look at the top three employees. Then we were handed a piece of paper with our stats on them, and…well let’s just say I’m not as high as I wish I could be, and I felt super frustrated. Not with my manager, or my job. But with myself. My chest got heavy. I couldn’t breathe normally, only in short breaths. I had to fight back tears. “Don’t let these numbers discourage you,” I heard my manager say, but it sounded muffled as I slowly began to feel the sinking motion of me being pulled underneath the current of discouragement. I felt frustrated with myself because I knew I could be better and that although I thought I was improving fairly drastically, the numbers showed me I barely was.
I’ve been really hard on myself the past few months on my stats. I’ve really pushed myself to lower the amount of “wrap up” time (this is how much time I spend after I take a phone call doing notes and such). I’ve also really worked on making the length of my call as short as possible, and tried to learn the secrets of the top employees on making more reservations. We all have our good days and bad days. I mostly have good days, but the past week I’ve really been having a difficult time. I’ve recently found out a few of my friends from work (okay the only ones I really hang out with outside of work) are moving on to better places. I’m a little off because of it, not because I’m not happy for them, I am, but because of selfish reasons. I don’t know what I’m going to do now at work or even after work for that matter. I feel like I just want to find my own little cubicle in the corner away from everyone so I can avoid them, but I can’t do that, that’s just silly. In due time, I”m sure I’ll learn how to branch out and make new friends at work.
About a month or so ago, I started “dieting.” And by dieting, I mean I started watching my carb intake. I wanted to cut carbs completely out, but realized maybe I shouldn’t eat as much, ya know just kind of watch what I’m eating. All fine and dandy, and I have a good friend who is actually doing the same thing. When we’ve gone out to eat, if one of us wants to not eat something without carbs (or low carbs) then the other will follow. Which is nice and motivational. We’ve also planned times of walking around after work playing our games. Granted, he’s more motivated than I am to actually work out on top of it (once it gets warmer I’ll start walking more outside…I don’t like gyms). I don’t know how much or if I’ve lost weight, because I’m not doing it for weight, I’m doing it for inches.
Can I just say now, after alllllll that rambling, that numbers do not define who you are. Let me repeat it, because I need constant reassurance and I’m sure many of you do too, NUMBERS DO NOT DEFINE YOU OR YOUR WORTH! Those numbers I was given at work don’t make me a bad employee, they just show that I need to work really hard to improve myself. Which yes, it will be super hard, yes I’ll probably cry…a lot! But everyone has to hit rock bottom before they can swim towards the top. Now I’m not saying I’ll ever be top dog, I know the top three people and they are really good at their job and one of them has been with the company for years. But my goal is to improve, and that’s pretty good.
That number on the scale or the inch around my waist doesn’t define whether I’m a good or bad person. People always associate larger numbers as unhealthy, and smaller numbers as healthy. I know many, many men and women who are deemed “perfect body size” and they are actually quite unhealthy. Like not only underweight unhealthy, but also in what and how they eat. I also know several folks who are “apple shaped” and are actually extremely healthy, in fact I know one woman who is larger and actually does yoga and is very flexible. It’s tiring to hear that one’s health status is defined by the size of their shirt or pants or skirt. It’s tiring to hear and see everywhere in the media that a woman should be the “perfect” size with their size zero and 32C cup.
NUMBERS DON’T DEFINE WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON. So don’t be discouraged by that number on the scale. Be encouraged by who you want to beno matter what size. Don’t be like me and get easily discouraged when you’re given stats on how “well you are performing your job,” but be encouraged that you for one have a job, and two that you’re growing at your own pace. Goodnesss, sometimes I feel so hypocritical because it’s easier for me to encourage others and tear myself down in the process. In the end, none of us are perfect. So why not be imperfectly perfect?
One of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to experience was right before the beginning of two summers ago, when my ex and I parted ways. Despite the fact that we were on a break for awhile before then, as I watched him drive away, a deep pain twisted my stomach like someone punched me. It was in that moment I knew that we would never be more than acquaintances ever again. Sure we talk when we see each other at church events, but neither of us go out of our way to have a conversation with one another.
It was hard. And to be brutally honest, I don’t even know why. In the end, there was nothing but constant fighting and emotional drainage. I was jealous of his time he barely gave to our relationship. I was jealous of all the girls he would secretly talk to when I would be sitting there wondering why he wasn’t responding to my messages, and I was hurt that he would talk about me behind my back to these girls not only telling them lies, but bashing on some of my personal medical issues. Not that I was perfect either. In the end I probably could have tried harder; I felt justified in giving nothing because I felt like I was getting nothing.
That summer, though it was painful and lonely, it was probably one of the most rejuvenating summers yet. For the first time in a long time I discovered who I was as a person. I learned what kind of qualities I look for in people—whether it be a friend or partner. And my true friends revealed themselves.
Since my breakup I’ve embraced the whole single status. It’s fun. I can go out with friends and not have to worry. I can go days without having to text or call a specific person and not have to worry. But it’s also lonely. I see many of my friends getting engaged. I watched two of my friends get married a couple months ago, and I have two more friends getting married in about a month. I’ve also been browsing Facebook and see so many posts about expecting. There are days where I ask myself “what am I doing wrong?” I wonder if there is someone out there this exact moment wondering the same exact thing. I question if God’s plan in my life includes me finding someone special.
A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog about living life with the “single” status, and how even in the end if that’s what I’m meant to do then so be it. Granted, I would love to find a special someone, but I think that even if I didn’t, I could be happy. Because my purpose in life isn’t to get married and have children (goodness, I’m at point in my life where I don’t even know if I want children), my purpose in life is about serving Him and bringing others to Him.
Relationship is defined as, “an emotional or other connection between people.” I had this relationship with this person, while my relationship with God was diminishing. Into a line. A thin, thin line. I started skimping (yes that’s a real word) on my prayer life. I avoided subjects about faith or God, because I was afraid that someone would know and say, “Hey, you aren’t even that religious.” Oh sure. It was easy to continue to dress and look all “churchy” but it was hard to utter the simple phrase, “Thank you, Jesus.” One of the easiest goodbyes I was experiencing was saying, “Bye” to Jesus. The One I shouldn’t have been waving off.
When I finally big goodbye to the person in my life that was hindering my relationship with God, that’s when He started mending my heart. The healing process was beginning. And honestly, I’m still healing. My heart still has stitches on it from where the words of my ex slashed into me. Even though I do feel the depths of loneliness more often than not, I know that it’s not in my best interest to have someone in my life at the moment. Because I’m still learning and growing with Him.
In the end of my relationship, it wasn’t love that I felt, it was numbness and convenience of having someone. I wasn’t giving because I wasn’t getting. Loving someone is about giving your best and not expecting anything in return. And if two people love each other, they’ll give consistently as much as they will receive consistently.
In the end, I was just settling because I felt like I wouldn’t have anyone. And that’s something that no one should ever do. Settling because one is afraid of living the rest of their lives partner-less is probably one of the least satisfactory things in life. One of the best things I’ve ever been told is, “There are worse things than being single, and that is being in a relationship, and wishing you weren’t.” So maybe for now, I’ll keep my relationship status as, “Single, but still hopeful, but not too hopeful, more like a casual hopeful. But also okay if I’m forever single.” Don’t ever settle for less than what you’re worth. Because you are worth MORE than gold.