How to Pick Up the Pieces + Start Somewhere

coffee mug

Mornings are the ideal time of day. Sunshine glinting through the blinds, a newspaper waiting on the front stoop, a fresh pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen. It’s the time of possibility— this day could be anything you want it to be. You have an expanse of time ahead of you to do whatever your little heart so deeply desires.

Reality check: we don’t wake up every morning ready to take on the world. click-to-tweet

(Heck, some mornings I don’t even want to put on pants.)

There are plenty of days where I feel stuck. I’m not always sure what to do next or what direction to go in. There are plenty of times when I get sidetracked, or distracted, or simply don’t have a plan to start with. And those are the times when I get caught up in my own thoughts and can’t shake the feeling that maybe all I’m meant to do that day is lounge on the couch in sweatpants.

We’ve all got big plans. Goals we want to accomplish. Items on a mile-long to-do list that we can’t seem to check off. And there are too many moments when we get lazy, or distracted, or nervous and think, “Oh, well, I’ll get there someday.”

Let me tell you something, plain and simple: someday isn’t coming any sooner, love. You’ve got to pick up the pieces of your dreams, your desires, your heart, and just go for it. Start somewhere. heart

Here are tips on how to do just that:

1. Cry.

Get it all out now. All the insecurities, all the fear, all the wishy-washy doubts of “I can’t do this” and “I’m not good enough.” Do whatever it takes to cleanse yourself of those obstacles: complain, cry, throw a tantrum. Cling to some Kleenex until you’re ready to face this fact: none of those thoughts you beat yourself up with were true.

2. Tell a friend.

Word vomit into an email. Spill out all your desires, secrets, troubles, wants, and needs. Send it off to your BFF with no regrets. Trust me, their response will be the perfect mix of encouragement and tough love advice that you need to hear. Let them be your cheerleader and your drill sergeant through this process.

3. Put on some lipstick.

Or your favorite shirt. Or that brand new pair of shoes you bought two weeks ago. You have everything it takes to play the part, but putting yourself in the mind frame that you “look” the part can be a huge confidence boost.

4. Order a tall latte.

And maybe a blueberry muffin. Hard work takes determination and a little bit of gusto; you’ll at least need a shot of caffeine to fuel you through this. Treat yourself.

5. Change your environment.

Get out from under the covers and head to a spot with free wi-fi. Whether it’s your local library or a hip co-working space, changing your surroundings can amp up your productivity. Make yourself a promise: that space is going to be your nest until you tackle that nagging task on your to-do list. Don’t go home until it’s done.

6. Take baby steps.

Write down whatever it is that you want to achieve. Then write down every step on the road to getting there. Nothing is too small to consider. Script it all out and hang it some place prominent. Go from one task to the next. Check all those accomplishments off. This is the path to that “someday” goal.

7. Read + research.

There’s always something new to learn. Don’t close yourself off by thinking that you already have all the answers. (Trust me, no one does.)

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Those inspiring mentors you look up to? Send them an email. That friend who has the dream job you want? Tweet them for advice. People are willing to help. Seek and you shall find.

9. Focus on the have’s.

You got something beautiful going on, love. There is always plenty to be grateful for, but we overlook all of that goodness by sourly focusing on what we still want. Take a few minutes to think about your blessings. Write them all down. Appreciate them every chance you get.

10. Be relentlessly you. heart

You’ve got somewhere to be, but you won’t get there by cutting corners. Don’t let anyone’s harsh opinions or scathing words deflect you from what you’re after. Don’t shy away from being yourself through the entire process— it’s the most authentic way to reach your goal.

All you have to do is start somewhere.

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Be A Dream Catcher

dreamcatchers

From a young age, we are told that we can be anything we want to be. We read the motivational posters in our elementary school classrooms telling us to reach for the stars and bypass the moon, that the possibilities are endless, that we can go the distance. We’re force-fed the idea that we can do anything we set our minds to.

So we dream of being astronauts and actors, fire fighters and veterinarians, painters and politicians. Until the day when someone introduces us to the word “practical.” When they lug the Merriam-Webster’s off of the shelf and point to the definition that preaches “ordinary.” Suddenly they tell us those dreams are simply too grandiose. They chip away at our confidence by mentioning “being realistic” and “having a back-up plan.”

And then our dreams collapse in a downward spiral. We take the coveted career we had in mind and turn it into a side hobby. We attend safety schools and settle for the first job that’ll pay the bills. We get caught up in the normalities and simplicities, in the “supposed to” and the “should.” The words daring and fearless leave our vocabularies, and our elusive dreams get pushed off to the side, packed tightly into a box that’s stored on the highest shelf, locked away where no one can reach.

If I could, I would climb a ladder and dig through that abandoned shelf. I would shake the collected dust off of that faded box and wrap it in polka dotted paper. I would tie a white ribbon around its edges and place it gently in your hands and tell you simply, “Your dreams are a gift. You are worthy of receiving them.” heart

There has been a dreamcatcher hanging above my bed for years, in hopes that any impending nightmares will be caught in its webbed trap and will disappear at the first sight of morning sunbeams. But what if some of my wildest hopes and dreams are stuck among its threads, waiting to be plucked from their hiding spots and put into action? What if I just needed to wake up one day and realize that they got sidetracked?

No one will hold your hand while you’re trying to reach accomplishments. No one will feed you the answers to life’s hardest tests. There isn’t anyone else who can make the tough decisions for you. No one else knows your dreams through and through like you do; they can’t chase them the way that you can. Pluck those wild and crazy dreams from the tangled web of practical and normal. Weave them into the most beautiful artwork of your life. heart

Be a dream catcher. Go after what you’ve always imagined. click-to-tweet

I Threw All of Your Notes Away

bundle of letters

I threw all of your notes away.

I stumbled upon them in a rose-covered box, hidden in a corner of my bedroom closet, stowed away for safe keeping if anyone were to come snooping. As I pulled the lid open on his hinges, the neat stack of them toppled out, spilling memories I had long forgotten onto the carpet. I unfolded their delicate little crease lines and watched as your handwriting sprung into view, etched onto the faded rule of notebook pages. And while reading them— page by page, line by line, word by word— I found the moments that I had buried so long ago behind a pile of sweaters.

The notes that had been shoved between locker doors. Ones that had been secretly handed off in hallways. Scribbles written on receipts and post-it’s. A few poems that have no rhyme. Crossword puzzles where we wrote in our own made-up answers. Sentiments that include “You are beautiful” and “I’m sorry” and “No one has ever made me feel the way you do.”

I wondered where their counterparts were, where the notes with my penmanship had ended up. I wondered if you had ever saved them in your sock drawer, if you had read them again after it all fell apart. And then I began to wonder why I had kept them, why they had stuck around for so long.

We are creatures of habit and hope. We strive to hold on to good moments forever, even when we know in our hearts that certain ones are past their prime. Even when we accept that someone is not coming back, that something is too good to be true, that it was never meant to be, we still cling to it with a firm grasp and wonder “what if.”

We keep the physical evidence because it feels like disposing of it rids us of the emotional keepsakes, too.heart

I used to think that one day you’d show up on my doorstep, out of the blue, unannounced, with a bouquet of tiger lilies and a box with my notes in your hand. And you’d ramble on that it’d been a mistake. And you’d shuffle your feet and keep your eyes cast to the ground and I would know that it was true.

But some things are just better left as memories. They are best as fleeting moments that come back to us occasionally to remind us of a lesson instead of packed away possessions that weigh us down with a ball and chain. Some things are just better left as brief smiles on our faces at times past, that will only lead to times forward.

Hello, September

swing fall leaves

At the beginning of every month, I normally find myself posting a recap + intro post, listing the moments of my life that have just fleetingly slipped away and those that are creeping up in the squares of my calendar. But when I sat down at my desk yesterday morning to write that post, my fingertips couldn’t find the right spot on the keyboard.

Sometimes I hide behind my little corner of the internet. I write about real things and real thoughts, but too often wonder if I am doing all that I can in this life, if I am living up to the potential of “good” that I could have. I wonder and worry about the future, about whether tomorrow will be a day of happiness and content or a day where I question my worth and wonder what I might be doing wrong.

There are so many things I want from this life. There are items to be crossed off on to-do lists, and memories to be captured in snapshots, and goals to plan for and work towards. There are dreams that I haven’t even dreamed of chasing yet. But those “dreams don’t work unless you do.” heart

I am finding myself in a rut. A standstill of waking up and going through the motions, of wishing of things greater but being too burdened by worry to reach out and grab them. I have been too afraid to take first steps.

So instead of listing out how excited I am to grab my first pumpkin spice latte of the season and, once again, trying to mask the struggles of the everyday by brushing them aside, I’m being honest on my little corner of the internet today.

The onset of September always feels like a clean slate to me. The cool temperatures and crisp leaves signify change, an ease into the season of sweaters, scarves, bonfires, and apple pie. But there is something else about the crunch of boots on the sidewalk and school buses stopping at every corner that gets to me: it’s the infusion of possibility and new beginnings. And while I’m certainly looking forward to hayrides and orchard visits, I’m also looking forward to making this month the time of getting started. The time of taking baby steps. Of starting somewhere, anywhere.

With 50 degree temperatures comes a spark in my bones, a reminder that time does not stand still and I can’t wait forever. Hello, September, and thank you for bringing the invigoration I needed to start making the dreams I have into realities.

Words Are the Marrow of My Bones

open notebook

It was a common sight: my 6-year-old self pulling the tiny blue typewriter down off of the basement shelf and lugging it upstairs into an open space of living room carpet. Filling it with a pristinely white sheet of paper stolen from my brother’s computer printer and lining it up exactly right. Poking at the small black keys. I’d lay the latest edition of my elementary school’s newspaper out next to me and copy every single word for practice. I’d type my favorite poem from my favorite book and then tape it to the wall in a grand display. I’d make up my own stories, fantasies of princesses and dragons and knights in shining armor, all while rifling through the Merriam-Webster’s for any word I couldn’t spell.

I would read a story and immediately wonder what happened after “the end.” I rushed home after school to write down the day’s events in my tiny pink diary. I would take pages of notebook paper and staple them together and spend days drawing and writing on them to create my very own storybooks.

A teacher helped me unwrap the gift of words when I was in first grade by teaching me about the power of books, but she also told me that I had the passion and potential to create beautiful stories of my own.

That’s when I knew that writing was a passion running through my blood stream and that words made up the marrow of my bones. heart And ever since, I am able to get lost in the muck of letters and syllables and sentences that are churning in my head.

I’ll never stop picking up a pen. I’ll never stop pouring words out into moleskines, letting my thoughts be processed through ink on a page. Writing was never a choice, but a necessity, at first buried deep beneath other dreams until it emerged with the help of a little encouragement. And at the forefront it will stay, pumping relentlessly through the veins under my skin.

What’s the one thing you’ll never stop doing?

GoldBrink_3

This blog post serves as an entry in the
‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.

Be Like Alice

alice in wonderland There used to be certain days when I was afraid of the moon. It would appear in the sky in crescent form and I’d hide my eyes from the backseat of the car, incessantly asking when it would be out of sight. In my mind, that moon was the Cheshire Cat’s smile, and I feared that if I kept my eyes on it for too long, that slinky row of teeth would pull me down into the rabbit hole with Alice and the white hare. I was terrified of being stuck in a land full of Tweedledee’s and Tweedledum’s, that the Queen of Hearts would behead me after witnessing my awful flair for painting the roses red, and I wouldn’t have the courage to defeat her and return to the place I called home.

I grew up wanting to live inside a fairytale. I wished for a coach pulled by white horses to meet me at my doorstep and whisk me away to a castle in the midst of the woods with a library just for me. I wished for a Prince Charming and a pair of pristine glass slippers that were just the right size. I wished for a “happily ever after” and a “all their dreams came true.” I dreamed of living a life that was bigger than the one I would leave behind. I ached for a Cinderella story.

And what girl doesn’t let her mind wander to thoughts about her fairytale? About a white dress and the perfect shoes? About the knight in shining armor who’ll whisk her off her feet and stand beside her forever?

But are we letting the idea of a fairytale overshadow the other plot lines of our storybooks? heart

Do we focus too much on finding the perfect romance that we let our other dreams and wishes fall to the wayside? Are we too concerned about finding happiness in someone else that we forget that we can create it for ourselves?

Perhaps it’s better to be like Alice. To have a sense of adventure that leads you hopping off after a rabbit who is far from punctual into a world where anything in your imagination is possible. To be curious enough to carry on a conversation with a Mad Hatter over a cup of tea. To have a streak of independence that causes you to play a wildly chaotic chess game in a world of nonsense words and characters and eventually be crowned queen. heart

To take each moment as it comes.

Maybe your prince will come someday, or maybe there won’t be anyone to save you as a damsel in distress. But in the meantime, you have the power to create your own Wonderland.

Under the Blue Sky of Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

we are fiction.
a bond formed from imagined convictions,
based on countless, unedited predictions to form
a desirable depiction of a girl and a boy.

The sky had opened up over Manhattan, sheets of pounding raindrops scattering over the gridlocked streets and monumental skyscrapers. The beautifully blue ceiling of Grand Central was the only refuge, a sign of a peaceful sky that seemed so distantly far away. I was huddled in one of the marble corridors clutching a too big cup of Starbucks coffee when you emerged through the gold double doors, another wet wayfarer in the crowd. But, for me, my eyes were caught by your stare and I immediately felt a pull that I still to this day cannot explain.

We traipsed through the city like vagabonds, ducking into the shops of St. Mark’s Place in a futile attempt to stay dry. I watched you linger along the spines in the bookstore for hours, curiously looking over title after title, never letting your eyes shift toward me in fear of giving away a secret. I perched on a stool in the corner with a fictitious tale, pretending to read, pretending to prove that you weren’t the only object in that shop that could capture my attention. We ended that day with a train ride, with a dissection of good playlists and an admittance of the things we felt we were missing out on. A kiss passed between us in dim lighting and the original pull that ran through my nervous system turned into a shower of sparks.

we ran on the beat of heart palpitations,
an open ended invitation for a seemingly long
narration that never arrives, it never has time.
we abandoned the art of conversation.

Months passed with plenty of rampant conversations and taunting advances, and somehow, in the midst of being cautious, I let my emotions slip through my tightly held grasp and unlock the cage around my heart, hoping that you would notice the open door and dive into the spaces that, for so long, had been confined. heart

But it didn’t quite turn out that way. We became stuck in a standstill position, a boat in the midst of calm tides without any oars, with no compass to point toward the direction of sacred land. We wrote each other into lines of poetry and reminisced in an effort of escaping from ourselves, but doors had closed and minds had changed and I was left grappling with the overpowering thoughts of loneliness once again.

I reached out in attempts to bridge the miles of countless state lines, but the telephone wires would always become tangled with emotions and selfishness, ignorance and quickly deflated elation. I imagined that first meeting over and over, holding on to it like it could go and leave me forever, but I knew that it was ingrained in my memory for always. There was a trigger you had stumbled upon inside the recesses of my ribcage that connects us in a permanent way, but I didn’t know at that first meeting that you only had the word ‘temporary’ stamped onto your bones. heart

and she’s left to wonder if the spell she’s under
is a piece of his flawed facade, a fraud
she feels compelled to applaud.

We fell apart to the rhythm of John Mayer lyrics and the whispers of doubt echoing in our eardrums. We were left as a series of unanswered question marks, of stretching miles on a map, of syllables tucked throughout the digital realm. We were swimming in holds that couldn’t be broken without a firm promise of commitment and neither of us was bold enough to take that leap.

Some days I stumble into thoughts of you and am left wishing for sunflowers on my windowsill and walks through Central Park, because they remind me endlessly of you. Some days I wish we could’ve been like the bright blue sky of Grand Central, but that ceiling was always just a sign of a peacefulness that was so distantly far away. heart

• • • • •

Many times, we set ourselves up for heartbreak. We put all of our energies into one vessel and send it out to sea, hoping that it can survive the crashing waves thrown at it from all sides, but mostly we just capsize. We cling to someone so tightly with hope that we drown in the idea of smooth sailing. But love, in all forms, is messy and unpredictable, sometimes here and then gone tomorrow. And many times, we are left to build our broken mosaic hearts back up into the cages they were harbored in before.