I Accept the Terms and Conditions

The three biggest lies in America are: ‘That was my last piece of gum,’ ‘I’m fine,’ and ‘I have read and accept the terms and conditions.’ These are, of course, in no particular order.

It’s not that you want to lie when we encounter The Terms and Conditions, but nobody wants to sit there and read hundreds of pages of writing either.

So, when it comes to downloading the latest iTunes version, you can be divided into one of the following groups.

1)      You just click the little box without even reading a page. This could be because you are too lazy, too busy, or you just don’t care. If you are in this group, you are pretty safe; I have yet to see a Terms and Conditions that obligates you to participate in criminal activity.

OR

2)      You attempt to read the Terms and Conditions; but, somewhere between the beginning and the

end you either fall asleep, or the words become a group of undecipherable mumbo-jumbo that

literally fries your brain. If you are in this group, I applaud your effort.

 

OR

 

3)      You read the hundreds of pages of words and are able to decipher the legal jargon into an understandable language. If you are in this group, you deserve a medal; you are most likely one of the following: a superhuman, a robot, a super-intelligent ET type thing, or you have a Masters and three Doctorates.

Life doesn’t have one of this Terms and Conditions; but if it did, I imagine that it would something like this:

Contract with Life:

By signing below, you agree to the following Terms and Conditions.

1)      Life has the ability to make your time with us as easy or as hard as it would like.

2)      Life has the ability to end your contract with us whenever it wishes. At that moment, your contract will be null and void and you will no longer have a place with us. *

*this may occur with or without warning (ßwritten in fine print, as all important things are)

This document is not permissible in a court of law.

I have read and accept the Terms and Conditions

X________________________________

Unfortunately, life does not have such a thing. There is no Caution sign as you enter the world blinking “Warning: Bumpy Road Ahead.” If there was, I’m sure we would be at least a little prepared for the difficult journey that is life. In my short 18 years of life, I have learned a few valuable lessons.

1)      Don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, sometimes it is difficult. Life continually shows us people who are more successful than we are. These are the people who are out winning Olympic Medals, saving lives, changing the world. While parades and accolades are being given to them, you are standing in the background, waving your arms, trying to get noticed; you are left to eat their dust. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. Trust me, I’ve been there. But over time you learn that everybody is good at something—just at varying levels.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish byits ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

2)      We all have a purpose; we all were put here for a reason. Sometimes the reason is slow in showing itself, but eventually, it will. If you ever doubt that, put your hand over your heart; that beating you feel is purpose.

3)      The sooner that everyone realizes that we are all beautiful, interesting and unique, the sooner we will all love ourselves and stop spending our lives trying to change everything to fit in. We are made and altered exactly how we are supposed to be. Everything happens for a reason. But don’t change yourself just to fit into a society that has no idea what it’s going on about. You. Are. Gorgeous. Whether you are fat, thin, tall, short, mainstream, different, you are beautiful. Please, please, remember that. Confidence will always be your most attractive feature.

4)      People aren’t mirrors; they don’t see you the way you see yourself. So go easy on yourself.

5)      Failure is the key to success.

6)      You are harder on yourself than anybody else is.

7)       Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to call people out. The people that matter will respect you for it.

8)       When people hate you, you must be doing something right. Those who aren’t living don’t have enemies.

9)       Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to be. People don’t define you.

10)    People you talk about you. They will point fingers, whisper, and laugh. Don’t let it get to you. You are worth much more than what they give you.

11)    Always hold your head up high. It’s easier to see the beauty in things when you are looking at the sky.

12)    It doesn’t matter what people in High School see you as. Most of them won’t remember you 10 years from now.

13)    The only people that really matter are those that are there for you when you need them.

14)    You can’t trust everyone. And even when you think you can, sometimes they end up hurting you.

15)    Popularity is overrated. Being “cool” does not have any merit in the real world.

16)   . Everybody has a story. We all have hurt we are carrying. Be mindful of it.

17)   Always be willing to go out of your way to help someone, even if it’s just holding the door open. It could brighten someone’s day.

18)   Laughing until tears stream down your face and you can’t breathe is one of the best feelings in the world.

19)   Smile

(I will admit that I stole part of that list from a previous post about Graduation…).

20)   Life is short. So make the most of it while you are here. Life your life the way you want to—within the legal constraints of the law, of course; because I am going to assume that you enjoy not being in jail (unless you do enjoy being in jail, in which case you have a whole different set of issues entirely). Life your life to the fullest. Don’t be afraid to take risks; because nobody gets out alive anyway.

So, life, throw whatever you wish my way. I can take it; I’ve learned the tricks of the trade. I accept your Terms and Conditions. Bring it on!

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Because When You Smile, The Earth Stands Still

Dear Stranger,

I saw you walking in the mall the other day, eyes staring intently at the ground as you walked, feet shuffling as though you wanted to avoid the noise of stepping—as if you wanted to remain invisible. For a moment as we were in the same space, next to each other, breathing the same air, you lifted up your head; your eyes met mine, and you smiled. For that one millisecond, you left the comfort zone of being invisible, and piqued my interest.

As you were walking away, a billion thoughts ran through my head. What causes you to walk that way, as if you are carrying a heavy burden? What causes you to keep your eyes fixed on the ground, as if you are harboring a wounded pride? Did something terrible happen to you to make you feel inferior, less important? Or, perhaps, are you just naturally introverted, and cautious of people? Do people make you uncomfortable?

And,

I wonder if I’ve ever caught someone’s attention, like you caught mine. Even if I was just walking among a crowd I wonder if that somebody wanted to get to know me, like I wanted to get to know you.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter. The possibility of us meeting again is slim to say the least, just like the chances of us being in the same place at the same time.

But, despite the slim chance, if I ever see you again, I will tell you:

“You might not believe me now, but one day you will; so, trust me when I say ‘You’re Beautiful.’ Because when you smile, the earth stands still, and the sparkle in your eyes puts the stars to shame.”

 

And you may think I’m strange, but I know that the kindness of strangers is capable of brightening a day. So, if the stars ever align again, and we happen to pass each other again, I hope you will allow me the opportunity to brighten your day. Allow me the opportunity to make you smile.

Because when you smile, the earth stands still, and the sparkle in your eyes puts the stars to shame.

Home is Where the Heart is

When she finally opened her eyes, it took her a moment or two to realize where she was. She was lying in a dorm room bed, birds were chirping outside the window, and the sun had already made it’s ascension into the sky. She looked at her clock: 8:15 am, Saturday Morning. Her plane back home would leave in less than 13 hours.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

She never expected to fall in love with this place; frankly, she fully anticipated not liking it. Everything she had ever heard and read about Seattle told her that it was usually rainy, and if it wasn’t, it was still really humid. Not that she had a problem with rain, because it’s oddly beautiful in its own way; it was the humidity she had a problem with. Actually, to be more exact, her hair never got along with humidity. Her temperamental, unevenly curly hair becomes a giant ball of frizzy, unruly curls when going out to play with humidity. So, when she had to imagine a week of never-ending battles with the humidity, she was pretty reluctant.

But she never anticipated the beauty that is Seattle. When she landed in Seattle-Tacoma Airport, the first thing she noticed was the mountains. Oh, how beautiful they were. She was amazed that she could be in the middle of the bustling city and could still see the mountains—their snowcapped majesties visible off in the distance. The second thing she noticed were the hills; it seemed that any path she took would be uphill both ways. That is, until she got close to the shoreline; the land there seemed to be perfectly flat. She noticed how mild the weather was—it was in the 60s or 70s every day, which was a welcome relief from the summer heat of Western New York.

Despite being outside every night, and despite being near the ocean, she never got eaten by bugs. Somebody told her it was because it was too cold at night for the eggs to hatch. Despite how bad her allergies are, she hardly ever sneezed. In fact, she sneezed more in the JFK airport during their 4 hour layover coming back home than she did all week in Seattle.

She never expected to fall in love with a place so far from home. But, she did. She fell in love with the view. She fell in love with the rain and the smell that accompanies it. She fell in love with the city. She fell in love with the little island town she visited. The town on Bainbridge Island reminded her of those little towns that Nicholas Sparks writes about. The town reminded her of those picturesque villages where everybody knows each other; a town with quaint little shops and little cottages seen in cape towns.  She loved it all. She loved the anonymity that the city offered. As she walked through the city, she grew more confident because nobody knew her. She could have been anybody she wanted to be.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

As she looked out her plane window that night as they flew over Seattle, she felt a pang of sadness as her heart broke. She finally understood what it was like to be in love. It was at that moment that she vowed to return, because home is where the heart is. And she left her heart in Seattle.

In Order to See the Rainbow, There Must First Be Rain

It started at the beginning: a refreshed way of looking at the world. Not enough of a change to look at the world through the eyes of a child both innocent and trusting, but enough of a change to be less cynical, less doubting—enough of a change to learn how to see the world from different perspectives.

She had learned to walk through life with open hands, catching everything that life dropped in her lap. Somebody told her once that she didn’t have to walk through life with her arms up, defending herself from all things evil, that hurt was a part of life, and from it beauty could grow. She learned that life could be beautiful and magical if she allowed her mind to remain open to all life had to offer.

Gradually, she began to see the world anew and refreshed. Rain was no longer just dark and dreary; it could be alive if she would just let it. She learned that dancing in the rain is beautiful and is capable of changing moods. Rain, she learned, can wash away all the regrets and the pain. The steady pitter-patter of the rain on the roof is soothing and able to lull her to sleep, but it’s also capable of inducing much thought—deep and insightful—as she begins to fall asleep. And the smell after a rain is synonymous, to her anyway, to new life. A renewed world, ready to take on whatever life throws at it—a refreshed world, that is ready to begin the day after a refreshing shower. Très bien.

The backpack she carried now, vastly different than the one she started her journey with, contained chocolate, rain boots, and a notebook.

She carried chocolate because when life begins to get tough, when life leaves her with the short end of the stick, she can eat it. There is no problem that chocolate can’t fix. But when there is, she can wear the rain boots and dance in the rain. She can let the rain wash away all the problems. And when that doesn’t fix the problem, she can write about it in her notebook, because words are capable of doing so much.

Words, she learned, have the ability to make people laugh, evoke feelings, provide healing, and connect people on an intimate level. Not only that, but, she learned, in order to know someone, in order to irrevocably love someone, you needed to be connected emotionally and mentally. But love, she learned, doesn’t always go the way you plan. You get hurt. Love can be dangerous and confusing. Then the rain comes and washes it all away. The cycle continues until the rainbow appears. Happiness, at last, is hers.

Because in order to see the rainbow, there must first be rain.

 

On a Scale from 1 to Well-Versed, I’m Pretty Naïve

                Magic is what allows airplanes to fly. I like to believe that magic exists. I like to believe that I live in this fairy tale dream world. Happy endings are in abundance, and the good always win in the end. I like to believe that everything in life goes my way. My choices will not cause bad results, and my life will always be cheery and filled with happiness.

But then reality sets in. I realize that magic doesn’t exist. However, physics does, which allows us to explain how airplanes really fly. Happy endings don’t always happen. But it’s beautiful when they do. The good don’t always prevail; sometimes they are left shaking their heads, wondering what happened, at the outcome of the fight. My life doesn’t always go my way. I’ve made bad choices, and consequently, I’ve had bad results. And my life definitely isn’t always happy.

I’ve seen the bad and the good in the world. Sometimes, I ignore the bad because it’s just too horrific to comprehend. I’ve heard of horrible things that people have done to their fellow humans. The news is always swarming with stories of murders, kidnappings, assaults, hate crimes. Sometimes, the cruelty of others is simply breath-taking.

Opinions have begun to take form as I experience life, even though I don’t know that much about life and the world—yet, anyway. And although they’re not worth that much at this point, they still exist. They grow and breathe as I become more aware—aware of things like corruption, cover-ups, scandals, ethical dilemmas, and the divide on issues.

I wonder what life would have been like if the ‘could-have-beens’ had been, or if the ‘if onlys’ somehow had managed to be ‘if only it wasn’t.’ How would my life be different now? Would my perception of life be different? Would my life be less planned out than it is now, less clear, less coherent?

I believe in love: pure, unrequited love. I believe that love is beautiful and magical, and that when two people fall in love, they fall in love with everything. I want people to know that falling in love with me means loving my everything (the picture below explains it best).

 

I would like to believe that I know a lot, but I don’t. I only know what I’ve been taught, what I’ve picked up along this journey called life. I only know what I’ve experienced in my life. There are 7 billion other lives out there: 7 billion other lives out there that I don’t know a thing about. I’ve only seen about none percent of the world, none percent of things that are out there to experience. Compared to the rest of the things to learn, my bag of knowledge is but a grain of sand among all the other grains of sand in the world. I go where I’m comfortable, not often venturing outside my ‘zone of safety.’ I look to my past to guide my future. Because I know that the future is full of possibilities, but I have to allow myself the opportunity to explore them.

So, on a scale from 1 to Well-Versed, I’m pretty naïve. But I’m learning as I go.

 

 

 

 

I Survived; I’m Free!

A letter:

We were in 8th grade when “the incident” occurred. You were guys; so to you it was probably all in fun, a game of sorts. But to me, it was pain. My feelings were involved—I had liked you all at some point, and you knew that. That didn’t stop you. That doesn’t matter. You did a serious number on my self-esteem.

My trust: shattered. Like a glass hitting a concrete floor from 50 feet in the air.

My self-esteem: crushed.Like a boulder rolling over an ant.

Your words are super-glued to the inside of my brain. Like a tape they are on repeat, never to be forgotten, just turned down. Your actions are like a bad movie being replayed over and over again. Although, sometimes, the screen is turned off, granting me a brief reprieve.

Because of you, I learned that there is pain. Because of you, I learned not to trust. Because of you, I learned how to build walls. Because of you, I fell straight down—fast and hard.

But…

Because of you, I learned that there is beauty in pain. Because of you, I learned that trust should be earned. Because of you, I learned how to tear down walls. Because of you, I started fighting for my footing.

I’m stronger than I seemed to you, apparently, because I fought for my right to be here. Even when the odds were not in my favor, I fought—my strength coming from those around me, and coming from somewhere deep within me. I do matter. I do have value.

Albert Camus once said, “But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

It’s true, you know. It would have been easier to give up; it would have been easier to just do what you said. But, that would be akin to me admitting defeat, which is not something I do easily. I prefer winning and coming out victorious. So I fought. And I fought hard. Even when the air was knocked out of my lungs again and again, I got up screaming through the pain, determined to prove you wrong. Because, let’s face it. I’m a girl; therefore, I’m always right.

I’m not angry anymore. I’ve grown up. I’ve moved on. I’ve forgiven. And now, I’m saying goodbye to you, to the bitterness, to the sorrow. I’m letting go. I’m free.

A lot can happen in 4 years; you grow up, you mature, you start seeing things differently. 4 years ago, I was a lot different than I am now—I was shy, I was quiet, I was broken. 4 years ago, I had my innocence ripped from me in a matter of minutes. All it took was minutes, and I’ve spent the last 4 years healing. I’ve spent the last 4 years trying to get the images of what they did out my mind; I’ve spent the last 4 years trying to get the words they said out of my head: “You’ll never amount to anything. You won’t succeed. You’re worth nothing.”

Nothing took the pain away more than cutting. So, that’s what I did. Multiple times a day, every day for two years. The wounds have faded now, but the scars are still there. The words they said don’t have as much of an impact anymore, but sometimes they come back loud, and I have to resist the urge to pick up that razor.

A lot can happen in 4 years. I entered Freshman year as quiet and insecure. I ended Senior Year as loud, and sometimes obnoxious, sometimes confident, but mostly insecure. I’m still broken, but I’ve seen beauty come from my brokenness. I’m beginning to see healing that is coming from the rain. After 4 years I’ve proved them wrong.

I SURVIVED! I’M FREE!

Forest of Obscurity

 This post is unlike many of my other posts, but I feel as though it needs to be shared. In one of my earlier posts, I shared with you a Spoken Word Poem that I had written, but converted it into letter form; today, I will be sharing with you another poem, but this time, I will be keeping it in the original written form. However, the form is not that of a true poem; rather, it is in the form of a paragraph, because it tells a story. 

Forewarning: The next few days will see a lot of posts, because I have been receiving massive amounts of inspiration. Some of the posts will be more traditional, others will not. 

 

I am a girl who has been used and abused, broken and bruised. I know what it’s like to be so far off the cliff of life that I’m holding on to the rope of hope by a thread; to be so far down in the pit of despair, the only way out is to dig deeper and deeper until I come out somewhere in China; to be so weighed down by a backpack filled with my pain and regrets, disappointments and mistakes, failures and dashed dreams, that I crumple like a piece of paper under the weight of it all.

I know what it’s like to be pushed down again and again, and as soon as I get the strength to stand, I’m kicked in the chest, wind knocked out of me, barely able to stand; to have the innocence torn from you like a lion tears at the skin of its prey; to be blindsided by the cold truth that people will tear me down to build themselves up, like a wrecking ball demolishes  ugly, weak buildings to build better looking, stronger ones; to be walking through the thick, dense forest of obscurity, hoping to find the field of clarity; to be focused on my past so much, that I miss the here and now–because time waits for no man; to be so caught up with the horrible things that I forget the good.

And yet, I stand here today with my scars and my imperfections, unashamed of where I’ve been, the road I’ve traveled; because I have a God who loves me through it all.

 

 

This song doesn’t really pertain to this post at all, but since I learned how to play it on the piano recently, it’s stuck in my head. 

An Adult

Today, I became an adult. Yep, I turned 18 at 5:53 pm, Monday, July 2, 2012. Now, being a legal person in the state of New York has its benefits. I can:

  1. Get married without parental consent
  2. Get a tattoo
  3. Get a piercing without parental consent
  4. I can now drive after 9 pm.
  5. Similarly, I can drive with more than 1 non-family member in the car.
  6. I can vote.
  7. I can enlist in the military.
  8. I can order things from those infomercials that say, “You must be 18 or older to call!”
  9. etc

However, despite being an “adult,” I don’t feel any different than I did yesterday. I suppose, that like Graduating, this too takes time. Time, I’ve noticed, is something that I tend to lose track of. For instance, last week, I was in Seattle; and I noticed that I don’t remember Saturday at all (actually, I do; but between leaving Saturday night, and flying all night, it’s all rather distorted. It seems as those I lost a day, which makes it seem as though it’s not really my Birthday at all). But, I digress. Despite the fact that I just recently got the ‘go-ahead’ to enter adulthood, I fear that I’m not ready. You see, there’s an old adage that goes, “With adulthood, comes great responsibility.” (Actually, that’s not how it goes, but for the purposes of this blog post, I edited it, which, I’m allowed to do, because I am a writer. It’s called “artistic license”).

As a result of the circumstances that have been thrown my way in life, I have grown up faster than I would have liked to. I would have liked to remain innocent and naive about things for as long as possible. Alas, twas not to be. That is not to say that I have let go of my childhood entirely. Rather, I have discovered recently that parts of my inner child still have a firm grasp on who I am. For instance:

  1. I love to color, especially with coloring books.
  2. I laugh at the most inappropriate times.
  3. I hate shoes, and I would much rather go barefoot (I seemed to have done that a lot this past week, because, despite all my scrubbing, my feet are still black).
  4. I still find joy in Stuffed Animals.
  5. Play-doh is still the best stuff ever.

For whatever reason these parts of me refuse to go away, whether it be because I am terrified of growing up or because I never really left my childhood behind, I have grown and accomplished a lot this year.

  1. I pushed myself by taking 7 AP classes (I highly advise against this).
  2. I went on a canoe trip, which allowed me to become refreshed and strengthened in my relationship with Christ.
  3. I fell in love with Seattle.
  4. I fell in love with a person who will remain anonymous, because, I fear, he will never like me in the way that I like him.
  5. I Graduated.
  6. I’ve been to new places (Algonquin, Canada and Seattle, Washington).
  7. I have experienced jet lag.
  8. I have literally been “Sleepless in Seattle.”
  9. I have had my appendix out.
  10. I learned that sometimes it’s best to just walk away.
  11. I discovered the magic that is Spoken word.
  12. I discovered that I have the gift of communicating through my writing, and that what I have to say is important, and it does matter.
  13. Consequently, I have begun to write a book.
  14. I learned that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see,” and that God “will never leave me, nor forsake me.”
  15. I learned that God was always there for me, even when I doubted him, even when I was angry with him; I just had to reach out my hand, like Adam did in this painting.

Even though I am terrified of growing up, of leaving the old and entering the new, I know that whatever lies ahead of me is no match for him who guides me. So, I can say this confidently: “You better be prepared, world. Because I am a force to be reckoned with; and now that the whole world is at my fingertips, I can follow my dreams, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. Because, I am still young.”