06 December 2011

our winter skin.

number five on the list and friends, I am excited about this one. I have have finally created my winter mixtape and have been listening to it nonstop since thanksgiving. and in this season of giving I thought I would share it with you too. you can download it here. (tip: arrange by album once it's in itunes).


cover art from the library of congress.

05 December 2011


I started a new project. inspired by this. and in my need to notice more of the everyday. and maybe to get a better vantage point.

23 November 2011

traditions of gratitude.

its officially thanksgiving and I am sitting in the dark in the bathroom in a house in tennessee. nashville to be exact. the furthest south I have ever traveled and full of that wonderful southern accent I have come to love. that accent so charming in a quirky sort of way. that accent I have been trying to perfect all day by drawing out my vowels and drawling in a way I never thought I would be able to do. it's a beautiful thing.

this year marks the third spent away from my family and with one that has adopted me for the holiday. and although it feels unnatural and a bit unsatisfying to be away from my own, it is always such a lovely surprise to be apart of a family on a day like today. one in which happiness of being with one another abounds and food and conversation rule all. it is fun to be a little piece of furniture observing the comings and goings of a family on a day of such high honor. tonight - the day before the big day - was a night of giving thanks in a simple yet significant tradition of gratitude. we sat around the room, sharing couches and overstuffed chairs. legs intertwined. feet touching feet. heads on shoulders. soft light settling around us. and we just talked about what we were thankful for in the past year. for community and health and new life. for help with family projects that seem to be lasting forever but will end with new family traditions and space. for learning how to choose love and positivity and joy. for learning how to let go of expectations. we talked over one another and into one another and with graciousness and love.

and now, maria is asleep in the room we share - hence the dark, cold linoleum floor and my futile attempts to press these keys just a bit softer. I have to wake up in a few hours and would love to get some sleep before overdosing on tryptophan and extroversion tomorrow. but of course, despite all my best efforts, my mind will not settle. I find myself thinking about gratitude and wondering what the next year will bring for me to be thankful for. to find joy in. to find humility in. because when it comes down to it, thankfulness is the best antidote to pride. it reminds me that I am blessed. and it reminds me that I did nothing to earn it.

so here I am, back in my own little tradition of gratitude. of painting a thank-you on my palm.

(context here and here).

pinkie: I am thankful for seasons. this year has been one of distinct seasons. not just as they are marked by the changing of fall leaves or blooming of cherry blossoms. but as they are marked by the placement of people in and out of my life. by the lessons learned and relearned and the moments shared and forgotten and remembered again and again. this year, I have learned how to fully rejoice in the seasons of delight. of true fullness of joy. and in the same way, I have learned how to be content in the seasons of waiting. of uncertainty. of grief. change will always come. few things will remain the same forever. and that is scary. but also kind of great.

ring: I am thankful for laughter. I know. this is sort of a no-brainer. but think about it. how often do you take laughter for granted? I do it all the time, friends. because laughter is so easy. but it's also essential. necessary almost like breathing is necessary. this year has been one for the books when it comes to things for me to be sad and anxious and frustrated about. but laughter reminds me that in the midst of it all, there is so much to find joy in. even if for just a moment. even if it's by watching kristen wiig and amy poehler. even if it's because of something completely ridiculous and nonsensical. laughter really is the best medicine. that and extra-strength excedrin.

middle: I am thankful for teenage girls. this year I am spending my thursday nights with seven girls all in their first year of high school. and let me tell you, I was no where near as self-aware and intelligent as they are. it's actually a little depressing to think how far behind in mental development I was when I was their age. but with all their poise and maturity, they are still 14-year old girls. dealing for the first time with (gasp!) crushes on older boys. with (gasp!) homecoming dances and pep rallies. with (gasp!) drama and gossip and everything else that comes with the joy (or despair, depending on who you are) that is high school. and what fun it has been to work through it all with them. to experience with them, all the fears and excitement and giddy anxiety that comes with being young. it is a great way to be gaining perspective on how fun life can be. not to mention the fact that I am getting pretty darn good at pre-dance makeovers.

pointer: I am thankful for joy. again, seems somewhat obvious. who isn't thankful for joy? but this year has been one of learning to find joy in everything. of learning to see the true, unyielding, unfailing joy of the Lord in the midst of every single situation. this year, God has not just revealed his steadfast goodness (a term I was wrestling to even believe just a year ago) to me in obvious ways. he has also been faithful to remind me of this goodness in small ways every day. his goodness shines through in all the details of life around me (hence this blog) and helps me rest in unceasing joy. I may not always be happy. happiness is a feeling dependent on so many things I cannot always control. but the unending joy of the Lord. a joy that is not dependent on emotion but is a gift from One who pours grace over me to the point of overflowing. that is something I am finally beginning to understand.

thumb: I am thankful for words. let me tell you something, friends: words are just the best. the bees-knees if you ask me. the way they somehow string themselves together to form comprehensive statements that convey my message to the world. the way they fill up a blank pice of paper in a lovely, accomplished sort of way. if all I could ever do was process my life within my own mind, I would go crazy. without a doubt. certifiably insane. but words. they save me.

so while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

the joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young

07 November 2011


you can be in no circumstance in which the Lord cannot help you, in which he will not help you, if you look simply to him, rest on him, and wait for him. for every condition in which you may be placed, there is a promise; by that promise, the Lord stands, pledged to appear for you and help you; he is ever ready to deliver you; only he will have you believe his word, exercise confidence in him, plead the promise at his throne, and wait for its fulfillment. wait, then on the Lord at all times. times will change, creatures will vary, but the Lord remains always the same. in your youth and health, in manhood and prosperity, in old age and its infirmities, we should wait on the Lord. he will adapt his mercies to us, make all his goodness pass before us, and cause all things to work together for our good. he will never leave us, change his views of us, or withhold his tender mercies from us. he is faithful to his word, true to his character, and full of love to his people.

whatever change there may be in creatures, there is no change in him. health may give way to sickness, plenty to poverty, strength to weakness, and life to death, but he is the same. with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of a turn. therefore, "wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I saw, on the Lord."
- from "wait on the Lord" sermon by rev. james smith of cheltenham, new york, 1869

27 October 2011


friends. here it is. I know you have been waiting forever. I know I have. shared with me by a good friend. directed by her amazing brother. featuring one talented guy. who knew that freezing and thawing a typewriter in a big block of ice could be so...magical?

Listener "Falling in Love with Glaciers" from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo.

14 October 2011

thoughts from :: the train.

it's almost midnight and I am sitting on a train traveling from new york city back to dc. after two weeks of traveling from one coast to the other I am finally heading…home. yes, I just called dc home. it feels sort of weird. anyway. lately, words have come and gone at the strangest times. they have eluded me when I most needed them and then have filled my mind to the point of over-flowing when I most needed to do things like sleep. and so it is now. I would love to sleep. to have this train rock me to sleep as we pass through new york and delaware and maryland. yet words and sentences keep coming to me with such force that it is all I can do to type them out and give them a permanent place to rest. tonight, only writing will do the trick.

in the past 10 days I have traveled from one coast to the other. dc to san francisco to dc to new york with a few stops in between. I have spent more time than I care to count in transit - four airports, two train stations, and one white mustang convertible driving down the california coastline. I have walked through chinatowns in two cities separated by 3000 miles. I have seen the golden gate bridge and the brooklyn bridge within seven days of one another.

in the same way, and with similar velocity and speed, I have traveled from one emotion to the next. the calm of peace and joy before the storm of confusion and grief. extreme cities that have overwhelmed my senses. extreme emotions that have knocked the wind out of me and hit me from all sides all at once. and I am tired. tired in the way that sleep won't fix. I am fighting to keep my head above water but survival mode really is an exhausting way to live. of course, there is always someone to blame. but let's be honest - there is really no one to blame. we are broken people. this is not what we were created for. but this is where we are.

and yet. in the midst of our despair there is always an opportunity to experience something outside of despair. with my heart feeling like stone and my stomach like jelly. there is always hope. there is always the odd moment of beauty that reminds me that I was made for more than this. we were made for more than this. we are broken. but it won't be this way forever. we are grieving. but one day joy will come and it will not leave. by the grace of God. we are a glorious ruins.

and if there's one thing I know about all this, it's that I just have to thank my lucky stars for all of the people who have loved on me like it was their full-time job over the past two weeks. because thanks to them just as there have been lots of tears, there has been a whole lot of laughter too. and while they have encouraged me to face the moments of pain and confusion, they have also made me embrace the moments of silliness and joy. laughter truly is the best medicine. especially when it's because of something ridiculous and nonsensical.

so here's to you, friends. those of you who have sat with me and cried with me and let me use up all your kleenex. who have given me excessively long hugs and let me pick the movie and even have ice cream for dinner. who have let me turn up the heater and made me dinner and baked pumpkin pies so the house smelled delicious. who have helped me notice little bits of beauty that still float all around and pop up out of nowhere like fireflies. who have called and emailed and prayed from thousands of miles away. I may not have called or emailed back, but please know how incredibly thankful I am.

because here's the thing: all of it fed my soul like water. every single word and gesture and hug has lifted me a bit more out of survival mode and a bit closer to healing. even when you didn't know what to do or say, just knowing you are there has made all the difference. that has been more than enough. and I have been completely blown away by how God has shown me his love through you. I am overwhelmed. in the best way.

27 September 2011

calm before the storm.

day off gives new meaning to the phrase "calm before the storm." it's amazing how one day things are going along and you are resting and healing and breathing. and then in an instant, everything changes. nothing is the same and nothing will ever be the same and you feel like you are under water. the ordinary instant indeed.
Remember your word, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this - your promise preserves my life. psalm 119:49-50

24 September 2011

day off.

after almost a full year of planning, the big event is complete and I feel equally accomplished and exhausted. months of negotiating venue and catering and other important contracts. weeks of debating details like what kind of font to use on the program and how to assign tables while being aware of who needs to sit with whom...and who cannot sit with whom. and now I am tired. but if I ever get married, I will know exactly what to do. and if there were awards for excel formula building and delicately written emails to people with fragile egos I am pretty sure I would beat all the competition.

but this weekend was to rest. to sleep and heal my immune system that has been ravaged by stress and lack of sleep and existing almost entirely on dried cranberries and almonds.

friday was a day off and you know what I did? I taught myself how to poach an egg. I have always wanted to learn how to poach an egg. and I cleaned my room and wrote letters and watched a wonderful little movie in the middle of the afternoon. it was raining outside and I drank mt. hood vanilla and pretended I was in portland. I had the house to myself and I listened to quiet music and I even took a nap.

and then saturday came and you know what I did? I rested some more. I did not rush. I met a beautiful friend for coffee and she asked me how I was doing and really wanted to know. so I told her. and we talked. about what it's like to be yourself and trust in timing that is impeccable but so not what you would expect. and it was exquisite. and then I went to the movies all by myself. which, if you really want to know, is one of the best treats you can give yourself. and watched another wonderful little movie. and it made me feel melancholy in a good kind of way. in the way that also lets you feel hopeful at the same time. and then I did groceries and made dinner and went on a walk with my roommate. and we talked more.

and now tomorrow is sunday and for all intents and purposes my week is beginning. but for two days I did nothing of consequence. I did only what I wanted to do. and I think I am ready to take on this week. I think.

here are some photos from the big event. I didn't take any of them. but I did plan the whole thing. so I think I deserve to use them. all credit goes to this amazing lady.

{your eyes do not deceive. that really is isaac slade, lead singer of the fray.}

09 September 2011

this is it.

a lot of times I wish my life was neat and tidy. I wish I was settled in one place. I wish I knew what I am doing with the next 60 years of my life. (60? is that all I have left?) I wish I had a clean mind and a clean heart. sometimes even a clean room would be nice.

but then I think of this thrift store. I walked in and was instantly overwhelmed. but I also thought, yes. this is it. what an adventure. I had every intention of visiting the dozens of other hawthorne shops. every intention in the world. but this is where I ended up. for more than four hours. labyrinths of recycled hats and handbags and homemade scarves. racks upon racks of shoes and shorts from the 70s and shirts with pictures of sonny and cher. vintage typewriters and traditional record players tucked in corners. lamps and leftover armchairs and even a few sets of legos. I would discover different versions of the same thing in a million different places. I would leave something in one room and never be able to find it again. every where I turned there was something else to get excited about. spending only $12 was nothing short of a miracle. and a necessary sacrifice considering I had to get on a plane back to dc in a few days.

there was stuff everywhere and yes, I was a bit overwhelmed. at one point I actually had to sit down and take a break. on a discarded card table bearing the face of one elvis presley no less. but here's the thing. it was amazing. amazing to always be finding something new. amazing to spend minutes marveling at a previously loved porcelain doll that would haunt my nightmares, only to turn and marvel at a discarded painting that I would pay good money for. amazing to turn around and find my friend smiling at me from under, what I'm sure, was a very genuine ushanka. it was messy. and unorganized. and probably a little bit dirty. and I could not get enough.

and so I will remember the house of vintage and its lovely chaos. I will remember how I reveled in its horribly flawed organization "system." and I will rejoice in my own lovely chaos. in co-workers that are flawed just like I am. in plans for the future that I have yet to even freak out about. in a mind cluttered with bon iver lyrics I do not fully understand and the occasional philosophical enlightenment. in a heart full of a lot of heartache and a lot of joy. I will even rejoice in a clean room once a week. fine. once a month.

07 September 2011

lord willing.

flowers and unexpected care packages are getting me through this week.
one that is dreary and difficult and never-ending.
any other suggestions of how to get through a week like this?

13 August 2011

24 before 25

here it is, friends. I am starting early (or on time?) this year so I really have no excuse not to get all of this done. no excuse at all.

1. make the the red velvet cake. made famous by this lovely one. (here.)

2. throw a party with a super epic theme. suggestions now welcome.

3. learn how to be content in my own skin. try to stop second-guessing myself.

4. learn italian. at least a little bit. (done. by necessity.)

5. create my perfect christmas playlist. (I was pretty excited about this one.)

6. travel somewhere I have never been. (done! most exceedingly done!)

7. become an expert polaroid shooter.

8. weekend trips on the train. (here. but more forthcoming.)

9. acquire a genuine record player. (huzzah! needle is fixed now too.)

10. go for more walks in search of swing sets.

11. celebrate the unexpected. remember to be grateful. (in progress.)

12. make more lists. as if that was a necessary item to add.

13. read more books by collum mccann.

14. write more short stories. share at least one with someone. try not to be embarrassed.

15. have a guerilla art adventure.

16. take a yoga class. remember to breathe.

17. talk to grandma nancy about her childhood. also her marinara sauce recipe. (must be moved to the next list.)

18. go to a drive-in movie. (but I did find out there is one in nashville. on the next list!)

19. understand the words "the joy of the Lord is my strength." get a firm grip on that concept. (here.)

20. read les misérables. the unabridged version.

21. rediscover my love for puzzles. yes, jigasw puzzles.

22. create a photo book. give said photo book to someone I love.

23. write a poem.

24. stretch more often. (thanks to that pesky physical therapist.)

11 August 2011

thoughts from :: home.

this is about recognizing the details in myself. the ones I forgot were there. it was nice to have them come back and greet me. nice to be reminded that they are there and surely they'll always be there. forever and ever amen.

what an odd feeling it was to return to a place that I love and slowly begin to have pieces of myself return from the places I have tucked them away. and to realize that the self I am in one place is totally different from the self I am in another. not any less real or less me. just different.

I did things I used to do all the time but never find time for now. I smiled at strangers and people-watched. and I'll tell you something, I don't think I saw one person rushing around in a suit. actually, not one person even wearing a suit. except when it was a hipster and they were wearing a crazy vest or bow-tie with it, of course. I took my earbuds out and listened to the sound of the world humming around me. it hummed with much less force than the car horns and idling buses and electronic buzz currently filling my mind and causing me to reach for those earbuds right now. I thought about something other than work and what I need to do tomorrow. I hugged the people I love with intention and I let them hug me as much as they wanted to. I actually might have overdone it a bit. if you can overdo something like hugs. which, luckily, I do not think is possible. my shoulders loosened. my jaw unclenched. my breath came back in deep, satisfying gulps.

let's just be clear here, people. I actually enjoy my life as it is right now. I have friends who are fun and real and teach me how to live fully. I am exploring a city and drinking lots of wine and eating lots of really good food with lots really great people. I am productive and I am growing and for the most part, I am myself. most of the time I am pretty content. and for the times that I'm not, the joy of the Lord is a wonderful thing I am learning.

but you never can beat the feeling of being home, right?

03 August 2011

not too often.

oh bon iver. how I wish I could live next door to you and hear you creating this music all the time. I would have to live in wisconsin. but I might be okay with that.

it's not too often that you experience something so full of beauty that you feel you might burst under the weight of it. not too often that, in a room with 1200 other people, you experience something that feels intensely intimate. not too often that a silly little piece of music somehow causes the sacred to crash into the secular, merging the two so you cannot begin to pull them apart to dissect how they might differ. not too often that you are smiling throughout an entire two-hour show. not too often that simple little chords and words and melodies make you giggle (yes, giggle) with unadulterated, innocent, pure joy. that is, right up until they bring tears of feeling understood and a little bit less alone in this crazy world. not too often that a concert makes you write posts on your blog that seem just a little bit over-dramatic and extreme and silly because you just can't seem to find the words to explain how completely amazing the experience was. not too often.

18 June 2011


in my hiatus from blogging I was not, in fact, hiatusing from inspiration. there was a ton of inspiration to be had. more than I can even list. but here are just a few things that have done the job over the past few months.

1. weekend vacations - often times, being what some might call an "adult" is overwhelmingly hard. sometimes you just feel inadequate and ill equipped to rise to the challenge. but the good thing about being what some might call an "adult" is that in these moments you also have the ability to step away. to get out of town just for a weekend. to give yourself a break. to remind yourself that your heart is beating and pulsing and regenerating. to think and imagine and create. and it is really great when being what some might call an "adult" means you can rent a hotel room all by yourself. and wander around annapolis. and write. and take pictures of people resting and breathing just as you are resting and breathing.

2. let the great world spin by collum mccann - how wonderful to find a little book that makes you happy you are alive and know how to read. the images he paints with his words are just incredible. and for a little while his characters became my best friends. only the greatest of books can do that.

3. fear - it seems antithetical. but sometimes the best inspiration for action is fear. fear of things changing. of things staying the same. fear of loss. of gain. fear of God.

4. helplessness blues by fleet foxes - I can't stop listening to them. it is a problem. their harmonies are perfect like simon and garfunkle. their lyrics are indelible and raw and honest. and all those instruments being traded around the stage and played impeccably by any one of the six members? I just can't get enough. I am pretty sure I need to move back to the pnw as soon as possible so I can increase my chances of meeting robin pecknold.

5. the bay bridge - so long and high and suspended in that beautiful, impossible way. it goes on forever in a way that makes you think that if you just keep driving straight you will drive right out into that hazy sky above the chesapeake bay. not to mention that I have now been on a bay bridge on both coasts of this country. something about that feels a bit "full circle" to me.

6. the year of magical thinking by joan didion - never before have I experienced grief and mourning so clearly articulated in a matter-of-fact and yet achingly beautiful way. the ordinary instant...

7. an empty house - I was so sad when betsy left for the bright lights of nashville. but the idea of an empty house seems somehow refreshing and revitalizing. like a blank sheet of paper. a box waiting to be filled. a body ready for new challenges. a mind ready for new ideas. a heart ready for new experiences. I think I like that.

8. tapping keys - what a lovely sort of music, the sound my fingers make on the keyboard as I type out my imagination onto a white screen. what a lovely sort of music, the ping of the letters moving up and down. the thoughts flowing from brain to fingers to keys to screen. what a lovely sort of music.

9. thunderstorms - lately its just been so hot. and humid and suffocating. but every once in a while those clouds roll in. and the sky opens up and lets all that humidity turn into what it is meant to be. every once in a while the clouds break open and the rain falls in heavy sheets. steaming off the hot asphalt. every once in a while everything gets washed away in a flash of thunder and lightening so bright night seems like day. and I am reminded that there is always a respite. if only for a moment before the heat begins again.

10. smiling - sometimes I wonder what would happen if I smiled at everyone I made eye contact with. on the train. walking down the street. at the bagel shops and coffee shops and grocery stores I frequent. I worry that they would think I am silly and dumb. or would they appreciate someone noticing? would they smile back?

11. listener - this should be somewhat obvious based on this. he inspires me with his passion and honesty and slight melodrama because let's face it - we all wish we could be a bit melodramatic every once in a while. he inspires me with his words in songs like this. and this. and of course, this.

06 June 2011

listener - wooden heart

I have loved this song for so long and for so many reasons. and if I could imagine the perfect images to go with it, these would be them.

a small warning: maybe don't watch this on a saturday afternoon in the middle of a crowded coffee shop. its beauty and honesty will make you cry. and then you may feel awkward when you look up and people are giving you odd looks of concern and confusion.

but please watch it. as big as you can make it (all you have to do is click on the little arrows in the bottom right). and more than once. and then tell me what you think.

back in march in the midst of regrouping, this song was getting me through so many things. in its own way, bringing order to the chaos I was feeling in and around me. and now, just in time to be the first post in this little experiment in the ordinary instant, here is the official video. I can't really believe how great it is.

thanks to my wonderful friend with the wonderful blog, I found it this weekend. it was actually directed by her super cool brother, whom I don't know, but often wish I did because of how he captures light and details in videos like this one (and also in this one).

I love his voice. the cadence of his tone and how it mixes with the words. I love the melody. the slightly distorted simplicity of it. I even love him. the way he is honest and raw and slightly dramatic in a way I wish I could be sometimes. but mostly it's those lyrics. lyrics like this: I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board. but also like this: but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change. and definitely like this: everything falls apart at the exact same time that is all comes together perfectly for the next step. how they show me life is broken. but also full of hope. and beauty. and a small glimpse of what is to come.

02 June 2011

things are changing a bit!

lately I've been thinking a lot about focus. my life seems so disjointed so much of the time. I run from place to place. friend to friend. moment to moment. but according to dr. clifton, I just can't function without some level of connectivity. I need continuity. I thrive knowing that "we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it." I see everything in relation to something else. I find meaning through connection.

I've also been thinking about focus in terms of this blog. I feel as though I need a more distinct purpose for it. a reason to write even if it's just for me to read. I am not particularly good at do-it-yourself crafts or around-the-house projects. I barely have time to eat, let alone cook and write about it. I am not yet brave enough to share the copious amounts of stories and poems I have written.

but I notice the little things. the little details that we miss if we don't look carefully. the insignificant moments that are not so insignificant.

the way a book or short-story or poem can bring us back to memory or even to new life. the beauty of words strung together like twinkly lights strung around a room ready for christmas. simple words that paint an image so complex and real in our mind. the single sentence in a book. the single repeated word.

the way a silly little piece of music can convey so much life - for better or worse. the melody that reminds us what it is like to grieve, to hope, to love, to grow. the sound of a song that brings us back to specific memories in such a real way we could swear it just happened yesterday. the live show that is a moving work of art - less permanent than a painting, but never to be removed from our experience with it. the way a song makes you feel everything around you more distinctly and deeply.

the unnoticed gesture of kindness. the unseen movement of character. the forgotten tree. the lonely fountain. the afterthought. these are the details I love. the details I thrive off of.

joan didion talks about "the ordinary instant" and how it is not so ordinary. for her, the ordinary instant changed everything. for her, the ordinary instant ended a life. for all of us, the ordinary instants are all the details. the ones we overlook in our busyness to reach our goals. to progress.

so in an effort to focus, here is what I will focus on in this little corner I have claimed for my own. the details. the little things that inspire me. the ordinary instants. as anne michaels says, the "gaping life" that is poised in the casual moments. I will observe. I will notice. and I will share it with you. and I would love it if you wanted to share a bit with me too.

17 May 2011

writing to myself.

so it's been a while. and I'm going to be honest, I didn't really think it mattered if I came back or not. but then I remembered why I started this thing in the first place: to remind myself what it's like to write. and to notice the details. and to learn from every experience. and to acknowledge that even the most seemingly ordinary moments are not so ordinary after all. and I realized that even if not one person ever reads this (other than my mom - which of course, counts!) it doesn't mean that this doesn't matter. because it matters to me. and even if most days I don't know what to think about the life coming at me so fast and full of chaos this is one little way of reminding myself that I'll be okay. even on those days when I am tired and grumpy - or maybe especially on those days - I still need to keep writing and noticing and learning and acknowledging. if for no other reason than to look back years from now and remind myself that it is possible to find "gaping life" in every single moment and ordinary instant.

**couldn't find any photos of 17-year-old carrie. so here is 17-year-old mom.
such a fox! she was much more photogenic at 17 than I was.**

so in honor of writing this little blog to my future self - here are a few things I wish I could have told my high-school self.

1. you are not fat.

2. don't worry about losing the senior class-president election. you will be enormously thankful when you don't have to plan reunions in five and ten years.

3. that boy you like so much? the one who just seems so charming and fun and worth losing friends over? he's not.

4. please understand that red mascara is not as cool as you think it is.

5. not all friends are forever. sometimes God places people in your life for just a season. you will learn from them and love them and grow so much through knowing them. you will feel like your friendship will last forever. it won't. you will learn to be okay with this. you will learn to be thankful for this.

6. your dad is not as clueless as you think he is. you are furious now, when he refuses to let you go to the movies alone with that boy you think is great because he is rebellious and "carefree." but years from now, when you are 23, you will be inexpressibly thankful that he knew more about boys than you did.

7. there is absolutely no need to go tanning. you live in the mountains. it snows all the time. being tan in the middle of december is frankly, a little bit weird.

8. the friday nights you spend alone watching black-and-white movies and listening to music are actually a much better use of your time than the parties you are missing.

9. pray more.

10. stop complaining about where you live. it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. go outside more. furthermore, from here on out, you will live in cities where artificial light overshadows everything else. appreciate the stars.

11. please stop trying to be an adult. spend more time doing things that seem childish. you will really regret it if you don't.

12. and stop trying to be so serious. the serious world will knock you off your feet soon enough. for now, allow yourself to laugh when things are funny. allow yourself to smile.

13. it is okay if you don't have all the answers. it is okay if you can't fix every situation. it is all okay.

14. people you love will fail you. you will fail people you love.

15. try harder to understand grace. it is a pretty big deal.

17. get into the habit of waking up early. it will make things easier when you have to do it. for the rest of your life.

18. when ryan gives you a mix cd LISTEN TO IT. and ask for more. he knows what he's doing.

19. what they do at school dances is not dancing. it is gross. please give dancing another chance.

20. listen to the old record player your parents have more often. and appreciate their taste in music.

21. I know you feel like a loser with no friends. you are not a loser. and five years from now you will have friends. really great friends. in lots of different places.

22. appreciate people who disagree with you. learn to listen to them more often.

23. write more often. and save everything you write.

24. be okay with being different. with loving Jesus. with being yourself. even if you don't always know who that is.

25. seriously, red mascara. not a good look for you. or anyone really.

26. love yourself better. love others better. love God better.

13 March 2011


for the few of you that read this - I'm sorry it's been so long. I will be back soon. just gathering my thoughts.

in the meantime. you should listen to this. and go ahead and marvel at the lyrics should you desire. it's sort of amazing in how it sums up all those thoughts I've been gathering. how I've been pulling myself together and regrouping in the midst of all the brokenness and hurting around me. how I've been learning to rejoice in the "grace we've never given." how I've been learning to not let "these waves wash away your hopes." and how I've been learning to rest in knowing I am inextricably braided together with everything around me. even the terribly broken things. because let's face it. I am terribly broken too.

WOODEN HEART (sea of mist called skaidan)
We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath... We’ll need grace that we’ve never given
I've been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts
and it's not only when these eyes are closed
these lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach,
but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather
and my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better
but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will...
so I've built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes
this war-ship is sinking, and I still believe in anchors
pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviors
but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it
but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts
we all have the same holes in our hearts...
everything falls apart at the exact same time
that it all comes together perfectly for the next step
but my fear is this prison... that I keep locked below the main deck
I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden
and my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and I’m awkward...always running out of fight
so I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship
hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks
because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam
lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea
so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

My throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water
I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep
all these machines will rust I promise, but we'll still be electric
shocking each other back to life
Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected
our bones grown together inside
our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided
our spines grown stronger in time
because are church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change
so come on yall and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

26 January 2011


today was a hard day. sometimes I get tired of pretending to be a grown-up; of dealing things way beyond what I think I can handle; of trying so hard but feeling so stagnant. and there was a blizzard coming. the metro was packed. everyone was wet and grumpy. cars were stranded all over the streets. how inconvenient and annoying.

then my friends came over and made me play in the snow and remind myself where I come from and why I love snowstorms. the snowflakes that fall and land on the trees and the ground and muffle all the sounds of an otherwise chaotic world. the blanket of ice crystals that somehow make things feel a little bit warmer. the sound of boots crunching through powder and trees creaking under the weight of precipitation. the snowflakes that catch on my eyelashes just for a moment until I blink and they continue their little journey to the ground.

and I was reminded that the world is beautiful. and good. and not always as serious as I make it out to be. it is messy and complicated, for sure. but it's also pretty great.

plus, I have awesome friends.

21 January 2011

"it's all happening."

sometimes I wonder, where along the way, I consented to "grow up." and I wonder if I can really handle all that is happening and all that is coming. so much of the time I feel ill-equipped and ill-prepared. did I miss those lessons that taught me how to date? how to find a healthy balance between work and life? how to budget? how to function daily as an adult? because lately I feel like a little girl playing dress up. I look at all that is ahead of me and can't imagine how I will ever be ready to handle it. even now, after all the "grown up" things I have done in the past year. (at this moment, I am on a plane coming home to dc from a work trip. I now travel for work. how ironic considering that I used to hate to fly.) even now, I still feel like a child only pretending to be an adult. and I really have no idea what I am doing. and I am a little bit scared. not just about the fact that I am 10,000 feet in the air and watching the wing of this airplane wobble in turbulence. but about all of it. can I really handle all that I am about to face? can I handle having a career where people count on me for things I am only just learning how to do? can I handle being in relationships where I am responsible for another person's heart? can I handle being a mother one day? can I handle being an adult? so much in me just doesn't think so.

but I know that despite my best efforts, time keeps moving forward. I keep growing up. and all forward motion counts. I will keep figuring out how to handle what I don't think I can. and really, I am excited about it all. I just wish I felt a little bit better equipped. then again, I guess if I was ready for everything all the time, I wouldn't really need to depend on the One who created me to "grow up" into the person he would have me to be. I guess if I felt totally equipped for it all, I wouldn't fully be able to know that I need him so desperately in every, single piece of my life.

so I will continue resting in the fact that although I am ill-equipped to handle all of this, he is not. and that is all I really need to know.

**bonus points for anyone who can name the film from which this post's title is taken from!

15 January 2011


the last playlist of the year. I can't believe I actually made it. barely. and late every time. but it feels good to finish something. 2010 has been one for the books. and I can't help but wonder - what's next?

1. home - edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros (for book-ending 2010 in my favorite place.)

2. symphonies - dan black (for when I am steeped in my uncertainty.)

3. dog days - florence and the machine (for making peace with where I am right now. at this moment.)

4. silver coin - angus and julia stone (for when things need to be quiet.)

5. tighten up - the black keys (for when things need to be loud.)

6. the greatest - cat power (for getting me through a year of changing expectations. and helping me let them go.)

7. we no speak americano - yolanda be cool (for when I am lost in translation. and for when I think it would be freaking awesome to be able to do that with my hands.)

8. blue ridge mountains - fleet foxes (for restless wandering and always wondering.)

9. joy to the world - sufjan stevens (for a new take on my favorite. and because he has been on every other playlist this year.)

10 January 2011

these friends of mine

although it stinks to find out the hard way, it's always nice when you find out who your friends are. it's nice to know who you can really count on even when it's because you find out who you can't.

but I am not going to let this be about how hurt I may or may not be right now. it's going to be about how undeniably, inexplicably blessed I am to have the true friends that I do. after a year of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am finally starting to find great friends right where I am. and going home for rach and steve's wedding only confirmed that I have a group of soul mates in portland (and lincoln city, and omaha, and sacramento and montana and even denver and arkansas) who never let me forget that no matter what happens I will always have people who care and love for one another in a way that proves God's goodness. when I think about what it must be like in heaven to have perfect community with the One who loves me more than I can ever imagine...well the only thing I can think of that even begins to help me understand what this will be like is to think of these people who are my best friends.

so here's to you - you beautiful friends of mine.

you show me what it looks like to love others in a way that is truly glorifying to God. from the careers you choose to the way you treat every single person you meet with respect and true acknowledgment of their precious place as God's creation. you inspire me to live for God and for others more than myself.

when I'm with you I see who God is more clearly. when I'm with you I am truly joyful. when I'm with you I know who I am. I honestly don't know what I would do without you.

and let's be honest - you are all just so dang good looking!

the one who will always be my sister and best friend

the ones who will always be my soul mates (and future neighbors)

(other than the first one, all of the above photos are credited to the lovely mrs. leah ell.)

04 January 2011

one last look.


troy, pennsylvania. family reunion. jena and dom. collecting myself. diving in. dave eggers. mix tape mania. strengths finder.


snowed in snowstorms. birthday festivities. caleb being baptized. movie marathons. new music finding. snowpocalypse. the yellow knight. feeling like a kid again.


sabrina running. thawing out. missing home. crying a lot. laughing a lot. searching a lot. the history of love. stepping out from under the haze. daffodils.


blossoms. all things made new. sweet summer. hip to the hop. texas. read, study, write, repeat. greenberries. bubble wands. childhood laughter. his death is my life. thankful.


finishing fellows. fresh air. road trips. dance parties. windows down. mariners with jyndia. baltimore. humidity. the ocean. the choices. the decision to be happy.


a fresh start. daisies. this american life. touristing with the family. recognizing beauty. sweaty metro. finding something real.


lost and found. Becca. letting go. green monster (the drink, not the envy). stuck in between. 23. jazz in the sculpture garden. forgiveness. eastern market. fireworks from a parking garage.


new job. new roommates. old stress. tired. sycamore street. mountains of montana. ange and josh. jumping on hotel beds. best friends. free coffee. pola. cowboys. breathing in.


making old things new. the end of summer. the beginning of fall. feeling stressed. feeling unbalanced. feeling alive. feeling content. a brand new sky.


traveling for work. stanford. exploding nerves. dallas willard. exploding relief. tahoe summer...in the fall. disposable camera skies. baby bear cubs. mom. dad. loved.


daily introspection. climbing trees. picking apples. daily deep breaths. wordless weekends. finding the time. Regina. thankful.


working late. tabard inn. snow. my soul-mates. rach and steve. colored christmas lights. anticipation. mindy. los angeles. crazy family. feeling pulled in a million directions. ornament toss. happy. relieved. content. the end. the beginning.