The War Within Words

Words are everything in my world.

They comprise the books I love reading after a draining day at work. They fill pages after pages of stories that take me from where I am and launch me into another world, someone else’s world. They stand as an open door luring me into an unknown escape. They don’t rush me or hurry me along, they wait patiently on me to crack the spine of the weathered book they lie dormant in and come alive until my eyes are heavy and I am lulled into sleep.

They are my own personal solace for when I am feeling happy, sad, overwhelmed, indifferent, angry, and all emotions in-between. They willingly fly from my fingertips onto a page. Relief crashing over me like the feeling of finding someone I thought was lost. They bring me peace and comfort. When my emotions overcome me I run to my computer or my journal. I blindly write until that need, that nagging itch, is satisfied.

They shine light into the closed off room of my heart, they explain what I sometimes can’t when talking. They make me bare, translucent almost. They pull venerability from my heart and they make me brave and confident. They help others to understand me and they oftentimes help me to understand myself.

They help people from different ends of the world come together in similar thoughts, feelings and situations. The unite us all. They sometimes hit us just right and the feeling of being alone fades away as we find there is someone else that understands us.

And some sad times, hopefully seldom times, they crush me. They hurt me. They are cruel and mean and they fire out from the mouth of someone who doesn’t cherish words the way I do. They rip me to shreds, these words. Horrible words that come from the beautiful language I cherish so dearly. The fact they can go from everything I enjoy about my small little world to the weapon that breaks my heart, ultimately does just that, it breaks me.

Then I do the unthinkable. I use them to hurt others as well. I lash out, I think of the meanest words possible and sometimes I say them. Other times I beg the person I am screaming with not to say them, always aware of the power they hold.

What’s worse is that they stay with you. Loving words flee quickly, easily taken for granted, but the ugly ones always stay. They permanently do, even when I think I’ve let them float away. These words are ones I can’t stand. They stick all over my body like leeches. I try to rip them off, I try to move on but I can’t. They suffocate me and they suck the love right from me. They vibrate through my mind for weeks after. I feel their weight on me. I feel other people’s eyes on them covering me. I hate these words.

And yet, I love them, they are magical in all their power. I have always loved them and will always love them and part of that means willingly taking the bad words with the good. The kind words with the cruel and the loving words with the hateful ones. I am reminded to pick my own words more carefully, for I can create love with words, or hate.

 

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Thoughts On Doing Lent Backwards

This year, I am doing Lent backwards.

Lent, the Christian period preceding Easter that is associated with fasting, abstinence and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness, begins Wednesday, on Ash Wednesday.

This will be my second year participating in Lent. Last year I decided give up alcohol for the duration of Lent, which is about 6 weeks long. My life was changed during that challenging and gorgeous period. While I don’t drink every night, it was a sacrifice to abstain from wine on the weekends or a beer during social settings. I realized that social drinking had become a constant in my life during my 20’s and not a constant that I was very fond of.

During Lent last year a number of amazing things happened. It was a true period of self-examination. During social gatherings I didn’t have the comfort of a smooth glass of smoky wine to push me, a naturally introverted person, into the outgoing, entertaining and witty woman that most of my friends know me as. I felt a little bare in social settings, having to expose myself and discuss why giving up alcohol was important me and then awkwardly attempt to be gregarious and fun.

Surprisingly, during Lent my life became more vibrant. My weekends were relaxing and productive and my agenda wasn’t focused around ensuring my friends and I all got together for happy hour on Friday nights. The lack of wine in my life made room for other components of me to thrive, therefore I stuck to it. I leaned in toward God and I embraced the changes that came from Lent.

On the last day of Lent my life changed. My inner self was already full of magic from a stronger relationship with God and a clear mind during those 6 weeks but on that last day, two other things happened that changed my life in an amazing and positive way. I got a call from a wonderful company asking me to come in for an interview (which went tremendous and lead to my current job) and I got an email from the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine asking me to write a story about love. Coincidence? I wouldn’t say so.

Thus, here we are a year later and Lent starts once more in a few days. I thought about saying goodbye to my beloved wine yet again but God is calling me to do something new this year. I know that Lent is about sacrifice but I know already that I can go without wine and I don’t plan to give up something that I find meaningless like social media or candy (although not having dark chocolate every day would be painful).

For these reasons, I decided to do Lent a little backwards this year. The goal is always to become closer to God and I want to consciously do something every day that will bring me closer to Him. Something I have wanted to do since diving into my faith is spend a dedicated amount of time with God every single day. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for various things all day long and I pray regularly but I have always wanted to spend a few minutes a day reading the bible or a Christian based book. I have wanted to develop a habit and I have started numerous times, always failing.

I know what you’re thinking. This seems extremely easy and how hard is it to set aside 10 minutes a day to read the bible. Well, it isn’t easy. I wake up at 5am to work out, I get ready for work and I spend 10 hours a day driving to work, working and driving home. I get home, show my family attention, do chores, make dinner, do more chores, maybe watch one TV show, head to bed, attempt to read or write but usually I just fall asleep before I even get a page down. (I can never have kids, there is no time!)

Life is like this and I know those reading this article deal with similar hectic and busy lifestyles. And frankly, I am not strong enough to ensure I sit down at my kitchen table for 10 minutes every morning and read the bible (Read: I suck at holding myself accountable to myself). But, the good news is I am not alone, God is with me and He expects more of me.

And that is why, this year, I am doing Lent a little backwards. Plus, in an interesting twist of events, my boyfriend has decided to do this every day alongside me. In some way, I feel that is God telling me I am doing the right thing because my partner has decided to lean in with me. Already, Lent is bringing God not just into my soul more, but into my relationship, a place He should be at the center of but oftentimes is not.

If you’re thinking about participating in Lent this year, I highly recommend it, no matter your denomination or upbringing. If you love God and crave a closer relationship with Him, embrace Lent. Ponder on the ways in which you can change some small and challenging component of your life to better enhance your relationship with God. I promise you won’t regret it.

Who I Am

For the past few years of my life, certain characteristics have defined me. For a long while, my relationship defined me. Although I don’t mind being defined by my many loves, I have always rebelled against being defined by another person. I was, and might always be in some minds, “the girl that dated _______.” For others, I might be defined by my passions. I am the girl who works with the homeless, the girl who raises money and awareness for Alzheimer’s. For some, I might be defined by my jobs. I am a writer, the safety girl, an environmentalist.

But who am I really? Underneath my hobbies, my interests and the things I love, who am I? Who are you? Are you defined by your role at home? A wife, a mother, a father, a caregiver or a brother? When you’re introduced, are you someone’s “creative friend “or “the musician.” Have you ever taken the time to think about the labels you’re given? The labels you give yourself?

I have been ripping off labels surrounding me and really getting to the heart of the matter lately. When I am not drenched in love and a relationship, who am I alone? When I am not achieving a personal or professional goal, what is left? When I am not taking care of someone or spending my time giving back to my community, what am I doing?

I am giving because I am a giver. I find immense joy in giving to others. Giving time to organizations that need help, giving money to the sad, lonely looking man on the street corner. Giving a listening ear to a friend wading through pain and joy. I am a giver of gifts, I love to put thought into people and really give a good gift. I am a giver of food. Come to my warm home and sit around my chaotic table. Let me feed you meals made with love and a little too much pepper. I am a giver of hugs. I know that some people are weird about being touched and those people should probably stay away from me. I want to hug you, to hold your hand, to lay my head on your shoulder. I am a giver of prayers. Let me pray for you, even if you have no God. I want to sit quietly for a few moments and pray for you, for your happiness and for your health, to my God.

I am a lover. I am a giver because I am a compassionate lover. I love my family, my friends and even my enemies. I never run out of love or take my love from you, although I am sure, sometimes, it feels like I do. If I love you, I will until I die, in whatever form or fashion I can. Even if I never talk to you again, for whatever reason, know that I still love you. My heart has been touched by so many amazing people and I carry those moments, that love, along forever.

I am a daughter to two beautiful and generous parents. I am their friend, their companion and their family. I would do anything at all for them and I prefer time with them over time with anyone else. I feel blessed that one day, I will be able to take care of them the way they have always taken care of me. I am often seen as their light when in reality, they are mine.

I love to write although I would not call myself a writer. I love to read although I never feel I reach the quota of books necessary to be considered a reader. I like to run but I am definitely not a runner. Two small and furry lives depend solely on me, but I am not a mother. I love God, I go to church, I try to live my life the way He intends, but I am not a great Christian. I love being in a relationship, I love being the woman on the arm of a good and honest man, but I am not a girlfriend.

Sometimes, I don’t know who I am. I know things I love and things I don’t. I know what makes me feel happy and what makes me feel sad. I know that I will chose red wine over white 95% of the time, that I rarely leave my house without lipstick on, that I never think buying a book is a bad decision, that I can listen to Billy Joel sing for hours, that I have literally no idea if I am on the right path or if the things I want in life will ever happen. But each day I become someone new. I try something new and I have a new thought. I realize that yesterday might not have been what I wanted and I change today. I may never be sure who I am exactly. Maybe we never should be so sure of who we are. Maybe we should never stop seeking new corners of our being. Maybe each year we should let new things define us. New people and places, new convictions and passions.

I am not sure but I do know I love who I am. All the many versions and pockets that make me, me. My hobbies change, my job changes, people fall in love with me and out of love with me but I always love me for who I am.

 

For A Friend In Pain

Written By: Kara Dailey

It’s the worst kind of pain to fall madly in love with someone who lights a fire in you, only to realize that they are not always the one you will share your life with. It’s an all over body ache kind of pain, like a piece of your heart vanishes into thin air without a trace. It’s been more than two years since I’ve been in that space, but it’s not a feeling you forget.

When I first sat down to write this entry I was planning on writing about what it’s been like to be known as the perpetually single friend. Since most of my friends are in committed relationships I thought it would be funny to write about what my life’s been like since I ended my long-term relationship. I played around with taking time to acknowledge how lonely it feels to process a broken heart, but still including a lot of  ‘I‘m an independent woman, I don’t need no man until he needs me’ type of shit. Then I started thinking about how I’ve changed over the past two years; how I’ve learned so much by living life alone, with myself as my first priority, addressing my personal short comings, and getting my life together. I felt good about the whole idea but when I sat down to put my heartbreak and witty one-liners into words, it hit me. One of my closest friends just chose to end her relationship with a man she truly loves and all of our recent conversations came flooding back. So I thought, instead, maybe I should write her some words of encouragement that all friends need to hear from time to time…

BAE-

First of all, I want to tell you how proud I am to be your friend. You inspire me to work harder, laugh longer, and keep my lipstick game strong. I want you to know that I understand how shitty it feels to have an amazing night out with friends and come home only to break down in a full on ugly face cry the minute you’re alone in bed. Why are you crying in the middle of a trashy TLC reality show if you weren’t even thinking about him? Who fucking knows, but it’s terrible – that’s going to happen for a bit, and it’s okay. It’s totally normal to cry as long as you never lose sight of the fact that you are amazing AF. The loneliness lingers but, never doubt, you’re doing what is best for you and that is always the right choice. I must admit that I detest the word lonely. It sounds scary and permanent and gives me that body ache feeling. I promise that being single is not as bad as everyone clinging to his or her significant other makes it seem. Here’s what I wish someone told me when I was riding the newly-single-struggle-bus:

Don’t settle, travel as often as you can because making new memories is so clutch; call any weekend and we can plan day trips and weekend getaways whenever your heart desires. Being the third wheel is actually incredibly entertaining; you suddenly become the relationship councilor and everyone usually buys you drinks when you’re out (are they doing it out of pity? Oh well, DON’T CARE because it’s free). You will have to deal with your friends knowing the PERFECT guy for you that you just HAVE to meet. It’s obnoxious but it’s easy to laugh it off because it won’t take you long to realize that you really are fine by yourself. MOVE ON! That’s right, I said it. I know right now you can’t help but think of your last few days together, how you made this decision so suddenly and how you still ache to be around him constantly, but you have to let go. When your heart tells you that it’s time to move on, listen. Don’t hold yourself back with thoughts of the past. Cherish the time you had together, but put it behind you.

Lastly, I want to remind you how much you’ve accomplished. From landing a kick ass new job, to buying your own house, managing two dogs, and volunteering more than anyone I know, you are truly a force to be reckoned with. Being single pushes you out of every comfort zone, and it’s empowering as hell to love who you are and to take pride in yourself. This is an amazing time in your life, and I can’t wait to see how you grow from this. You already light up every room you enter, you’re graceful, intelligent, and, most importantly, you’re an independent woman, and you don’t need no man until he needs you! You’re doing great things, keep your head up and your heart light.

You are always enough.

I love you bitch, welcome to my life.