Yellow Birthday

I wrote this yesterday, 8/15/17.
Button up and button on

Today is yellow birthday

Did you hear the tears last night

Dripping into a yellow pool

That juxtaposes sass and smiles

With tired, aching, dry eyes

Yellow, sallow skin

Help

Yourself to a piece of cake

Smile and reminisce into the lens

Then drive through yellow-lit fields

A color grim and grateful

A color faint yet strong

On this dear yellow birthday

I’m reminded where I belong
~Annah

The Easy Way Out?

My dog, Gracey, is really old. She is 16 or 112 in dog years to be exact. Last week we took her up north with us to our family reunion and the hardest part of having her along was not at the reunion as we had anticipated, but the car ride. Over the past year or so her hips have given her plenty of trouble, as she has hip dysplasia. All we wanted was for her to sit, stand or lay down, but instead she crouched in the most awkward position imaginable and when we stopped at a rest area partway, she limped out and could barely walk. (The other people there must have thought something was terribly wrong with our dog…) The rest of the ride we had to force her to lie down and my dad commented, “no matter what, it’s like she does exactly what you don’t want her to do.”

That comment stuck with me–partly because I’m an introspective, pensive person and partly because of the truth behind it. Doesn’t that remind you of yourself? It definitely reminds me of myself. On one hand, as a Christian I think about my sin, and how my mind or my mouth goes directly where it shouldn’t go. Too often my anger flares up and my patience depletes. God sits beside me while I take the reins and the burdens and everything else I shouldn’t and can’t handle.

On the other hand, it reminds me of how humans tend to settle for things that we shouldn’t. We choose the easiest and most convenient path. But guess what? That’s not the best path for us. I see this trend in my life and other people’s lives. I’d rather sit around on my phone doing nothing productive than try to write a novel with characters that mean a lot to me. In fact, I’d rather do anything than write my novel, even though I know for a fact my excitement grows when I actually sit and work on it.

Most people don’t face my particular struggle, though, so let me put it into other terms. We would rather settle for a job that pays than a job that we are truly passionate about and can fully use our unique skills in, so we don’t have to put ourselves out on a limb. We would rather settle for the convenient people placed in our lives at school or work than go out and seek friends that really bring out the best in ourselves, because that involves making ourselves vulnerable. We would rather accept a belief system that’s easy to follow than one that’s hard, because we’re too afraid to truly stand for something. Do any of those resonate with you?

Don’t settle for what’s convenient and easy. We think we’re taking the easy way out throughout all of these things, when really it’s making us increasingly unhappy. You and I have hopes, dreams and aspirations of all kinds, whether that includes what we want to do, who we want to live our lives with or what we want to obtain from this life. You and I were not made to settle. This means sometimes we have to put ourselves out there, sometimes we have to fail and we can’t expect to please everyone (that’s a hard truth for me to swallow). Easy and convenient things are just that, but difficult things require hard work, effort and the best part is that it will be rewarding.

~Annah

Social Media is the Cyber Bully

Sunday is Easter, which means Lent ended yesterday and I’ve been off social media for over 40 days. Normally I don’t celebrate Lent, so I didn’t realize it ended yesterday and I’m a little scared. I wanted to challenge myself to escape social media because it has been an addiction for years. I’ve always known that, I’ve just never been honest with myself about it.

But this fast also provided me with boatloads of hope. Since it has been such a time-suck and addiction over the years, I figured I would experience immense frustration over the past 40 days. I was certain I would see an ugly side of myself emerge, that would have a fit over the fleshly desire being pulled out of my grasp.

The coolest thing God taught me over the past 40 days was that social media has no power over my life. Considering the amount of time it stole from me, I was surprised to find out I was pretty apathetic about its absence in my daily life. I don’t need it and I can survive without it no problem. But the biggest eye-opener is that younger generations have it imbedded in our minds that we need it and will miss out on something important by losing it. I promise you if people really care and if something is truly important, they will find another way to contact you.

With social media gone I was able to invest in the relationships around me deeper than before. One of my favorite nights this past month was spent with a dear friend watching a hilarious movie and then having a long talk about lust, which we both struggle with. These are the kinds of irreplaceable moments and conversations we miss out on because we are glued to a screen. If you are anything like me, times when you’re alone and not occupied by homework consist of a ton of scrolling and not much else. Not even reading, writing, or other individual activities that hold so much more value. We convince ourselves that we wouldn’t be as content doing those things and scrolling is easier and more enjoyable. That is a lie.

I want to speak some truths into your life right now. You matter and your worth is not based on pictures or posts. Beautiful, impactful moments don’t have to be posted online and sometimes it’s better to keep awesome things between yourself and God, or your friends and family. Your life is significant; even if all you did was sit on your bed all day. You don’t have to be constantly hanging out with people to have fun. Just because your life doesn’t look like those other person’s pictures doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or they’re even that happy.

Social media is the current façade, the current ‘I’m fine,’ the current mask we wear when we’re scared of being vulnerable. Let your life be richer than the posts and the scrolling. When you hang out with friends, put the phone away. Maybe even leave it in the car. If you say you’re going to be hanging out with someone, mean it. Do it.

Don’t let this covert addiction win. Because it loves to lie to you and it loves to deceive you. It’ll tell you how important it is until you wash away the façade and delete the apps and realize it’s not. It’s really, really not, my dear. You are worth more than the likes and the retweets. You are worth others’ genuine, full attention. And I promise you, you can live a full, beautiful, memorable life without the social media.

As for me, I think I’ll leave the apps off of my phone. I think I might just check them once a day, on my computer. As Switchfoot sings, “We were meant to live for so much more, have we lost ourselves?” I don’t want to be buried under the mindless scrolling to fill the ‘boring’ time that has been gracefully given to me. And I don’t want you to be buried, either.

~Annah

To the Harolds

The other week I watched Harold & Maude for the first time and I have never laughed so much during one movie before! I loved it, along with the characters of Harold and Maude. After I finished the film I kept thinking about Harold’s character and the people I’ve encountered who seem to resemble this troubled young man. I’ve run into a couple Harolds—people who feel insignificant and doubt whether their lives truly matter. So whether I know you or not, my Harolds, this one’s for you.

I know you’ve been through a lot of rough relationships and I can’t even imagine how people have hurt you in the past, whether family or friends. I’m sure some people get frustrated with you because you’re not up to their standards and you might not always communicate in ways others want you to. But I know reasoning runs deeper than attempts at being inconvenient to those around you. When people are coming and going in your life so frequently I can only imagine how difficult it is to try to open yourself up to some.

There are many question marks in your life. Dang, life is complicated; it can be rough and monotonous. Sometimes you would rather stay in the background where you can blend in and skate through life unnoticed. You may feel invisible and insignificant at times, but you are so loved, more than you can even fathom. I know there would be broken hearts if you were gone, so please never convince yourself that would be the best plan. Your importance goes beyond the value you place on your daily life.

Harold.jpg

Photo credit: listal.com

You matter. I can’t say it enough and you can’t hear it enough. Keep searching until you find those people that make you feel important. Find people like Maude, who help you look outside of yourself to the world around you and allow you to see your place in it. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions; I know you aren’t too keen on doing that. Tell someone your heart is still hurting from years ago. Tell someone you don’t know where to turn next. Yes, it’s difficult and you’ll probably be uncomfortable being so vulnerable, but it will reap such beneficial rewards. No one wants you to feel isolated. Keep telling yourself that until you believe it.

Keep being you at the end of the day, because you have unique traits to offer the world. You have so much potential, more than you see in yourself. When the going gets tough, don’t look inward, look out. You are going to do great things and people will flock to you just for being you. Yes, you with that quirk you don’t like and those intolerable characteristics you seem to find in yourself. Not everyone sees you the way you do.

Harold and maude.jpg

Photo credit: film4.com

Sometimes the world moves too fast, Harold. It’s okay to slow down and stop sometimes. It’s okay to say ‘this is too much right now.’ Just promise me you’ll stand up tomorrow and try again.

But one thing is certain—you will figure it all out eventually. Maybe you won’t live out the life you had envisioned, because bad things get in the way, but joy can be found every day if you look hard enough… and I know you want to find it, even if you can’t see it right now.

Hang in there, friends. And remember:

“Well if you want to sing out, sing out / And if you want to be free, be free / ‘Cause there’s a million things to be / You know that there are.”

(…but being you is the best.)

~Annah

Disney Identity

I was thinking about my favorite Disney movies the other day and I decided that they all say a little bit about who I am as an individual, so I decided to write a fun blog today and talk about them. Disney movies were always my go-to entertainment as a child, whenever I was sick or having a bad day. Even now I still adore them and cannot wait to see the live-action Beauty and the Beast next week! My sense of creativity and wonder, like any child my age, seemed to stem from these magical movies.

1. Peter Pan

Without a doubt, Peter Pan was my favorite Disney story as a child. I collected Disney books, which were thick volumes, packed to the brim of retellings of the movies. The first one I collected had Peter Pan in it and there was a time in my life when I would have my siblings or parents read it to me every night before I had the ability to read. This continued for so long that I eventually memorized the story, without even comprehending the words on the pages. The boy who never grew up further emphasizes my love of childhood and simplicity. I have never been too keen on growing up and I think Peter Pan contributes to this fact. Peter Pan also incorporates a great deal of imagination, which is one of the biggest reasons I love to write fiction. I love how creative our minds can become if we only open ourselves up to create. We all have the power to develop entire worlds and characters that are all our own. How cool is that?

2. Big Hero Six

Even though Big Hero Six just came out in 2014, it is now my second favorite Disney movie. All of the characters are so lovable, and more importantly, suffer and rejoice more realistically than many early Disney movies. The characters take on superhero roles because of their unique scientific gifts (or just being Fred, the school mascot) and they are able to use their creative gifts to thrive in a new way. Creativity, like imagination, is something I value because we all have something unique to offer the world. Even if we pursue a career that does not utilize creativity as often, we naturally approach it in our own individual ways and no one works quite the same way, which I think makes humanity beautiful.

Another important component of Big Hero Six and my values is friendship. Especially in light of a recent tragedy at school, I have remembered caring and being in community with one another is the most important thing in life, especially as a Christian. Hiro, the main protagonist, has to suffer through the death of his brother throughout the movie and his friends are right beside him to ease the pain the whole time. It is so easy to become caught up in selfish agendas and the weight of classes or work, but in doing so we neglect those around us who desperately need the love we can all uniquely offer others.

3. Pocahontas

I was never well-acquainted with this Native American Disney princess growing up and it wasn’t until middle school that I really watched the movie for the first time. However, over the past couple years I have come to decide Pocahontas is by far my favorite Disney princess, even if she doesn’t wear fancy dresses, live in a castle or end up with John Smith… in fact those are all reasons why I love her so much! She defies princess stereotypes and is a truly independent woman, who knows that there is more complexity to love than having a shoe fit and living happily ever after.

My favorite aspect of this movie and something that matters to me immensely is how she stuck up for John Smith and tried to create peace between the two races, not just the people like her. Growing up as a Christian I was honestly a bit judgmental towards people not like me and always strayed away from anyone who didn’t agree with me to a T. But the older I become the more I realize that we need to engage with people different than us and not just that, but we need to love on them, especially when it is difficult. I see so many peers who have Education majors and love working with kids, which is great! But lately I’ve felt like I want to be there for adults, because it seems like too often we overlook them. We would rather let them do their own thing, but they need just as much care and love as kids do! I think when we’re all stressed out about our own problems it’s easy to forget that.

4. Oliver & Company

I love Oliver & Company and I always thought Dodger was the coolest character ever. Animal movies were always my favorite as a child. For whatever reason, I always preferred them over people movies and Oliver & Company, with its eclectic group of characters and warm sense of belonging, was right up my alley. I think this movie is incredibly underrated, as far as Disney goes. Similar to sticking up for humanity, I think it’s vital to love people different than you, like Oliver and his dog friends. As silly as it may sound, working at Biggby last summer truly showed me how many different people are on the planet. When you grow accustomed to a small Christian school, it can be easy to live in a bubble and forget the true diversity throughout the real world. Oliver and his friends, similar to my coworkers and I, showcase that sometimes you will run into people different than you. Maybe some people might not live the same way you do and maybe they’ll be really difficult to deal with sometimes, but they still have great things to offer the world in their own way. Even the most difficult people to handle are deserving of love.

These movies also have music I adore, so to finish, I will include my favorite lyric from my favorite Disney song:

“Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver, just around the riverbend?”

~Annah

My Heart, My Passion, My Dream

I’m a writer and I hope to write books someday. Chances are there may come a time when someone asks me who inspires me to write. I think about all of the writers I admire for different reasons: J.K. Rowling, Victor Hugo, J.D. Salinger, Jane Austen… I could name those people, but if I’m truly honest with myself those are not the people who mostly inspire me to write. To be completely honest with you, I’m a really weird writer, because the people that inspire me to write are not novelists, they’re musicians.

Music has always been my favorite way to unwind and find comfort in other people and the beauty the world has to offer. I experience inexpressible joy in music, whether that’s hearing my flute join the dialogue of the rest of a symphony band or listening to the plot line of lyrics my favorite singer is spitting out of my iPod. These people are sending out emotions and messages that are going straight from their recording studio to my heart and I am so in love with this art God has created.

When I was in elementary school my musical palette was either my Spirit movie soundtrack or Jack Johnson (I know… I was a pretty cool kid.) I have so many sporadic memories of moments in my life with music, whether that was clopping like a horse in my living room to Spirit or listening to Switchfoot’s “Learning to Breathe” album on the way to my dad’s high school men’s varsity basketball games. They’re random snippets of my life that my brain has decided to store away and when I think back to my childhood, music is what I remember first.

My neighbor, Nathan and I would always put albums in his television and literally run in circles in his living room, instead of dancing. First of all, what kinds of kids do that? We were so weird. But we did that all the time. Sometimes if we were feeling really rowdy, we would stop at the couch as we were running and try to do cool jumps and kicks off of it.

Then in middle school I started playing the flute, which I still play in a weekly concert band group at my college. Band was and still is such a nice break from my other classes. It’s incredibly refreshing to use a different part of my brain after hours of reading, writing, and memorizing constantly. I also started singing for fun in middle school. This is a well-known fact to my family, but an unknown fact to almost everyone else. (Thank you to my family for putting up with hours of singing.) I would spend hours almost daily listening to my iPod and belting out songs. This was almost a daily occurrence during high school too! But only in my closed bedroom or basement when no one else was too close within earshot, because otherwise it was too embarrassing. Honestly, whenever I come home from college I still go to the basement and sing. I can literally do it for hours… it’s my security blanket. For some reason I enjoy and am addicted to singing, even though I know I’m not the greatest.

But perhaps my favorite part of music and my best memories of it are concerts. I’m not kidding when I say I live for concerts. I get the worst post-concert depression too. My first concert was in eighth grade, when I saw Allstar Weekend on November 13. I counted down to that concert months in advance—I was a full-on obsessed 13-year-old girl. Side note to musicians: watch out for the 13-year-old girls. They are the most intense, I promise. It’s kind of scary.

Last year I went to my two favorite concerts of my life: Twenty One Pilots and Switchfoot (with Relient K as their opener). For those of you who don’t know, those are all of my favorite bands. I could write entire blogs dedicated to each of those concerts, so all I will say is there was so much love and joy for Christ radiating onto those audiences. The only difference was one crowd was not aware of the source of this joy and love, and one was.

Alternatively, the other week I was at a local concert expectantly awaiting this band I had newly fallen in love with. They definitely live different lifestyles, yet there was still beauty to be found in their music. Maybe we don’t live the same way, but we still share a passion for the art and that’s what matters. Their opening band was not at all my style, with intensely loud drums and bass, on top of inaudible lyrics. But for some reason, while I was standing there next to people starkly different from myself and the smell of alcohol wafted through the air, I found positivity. Despite my personal tastes, it is still music and there is still beauty in it for some people. I’m always in awe of this art we have been given to express ourselves in any manner we choose. No matter what, there is passion behind music, and that can’t be said for a lot of other things.

This creative outlet and these musicians are what drive my desire to write. Music makes me want to squeeze everyone I love close and show them why life is good. On top of my English major I have a Communication major. Besides the fact that Comm. pushes me out of my comfort zone, I took on this major because I want to combine what I love most: music, writing, and communicating with my fellow human beings.

I have no idea yet what my specific career will look like. It could be public relations, it could be marketing, I have no idea. All I know is I love music and if I’m going to live my one life and have (in theory) one career, I would be pretty upset if it didn’t involve music.

There have certainly been doubts and fears, which will continue throughout my journey to whatever is next. Sometimes I don’t feel cool enough and sometimes I feel like being a female is a hindrance to my dreams, but I’m going to push through the lies. All of these memories and thoughts are filled with joy, because music has been with me through it all… innocence, joyful times, hardships, awkward middle school years, angsty teen years, frightening transitions, uncertain adulthood. There is an innumerable amount of people that need loving in the world and the best way I can offer my love is through this passion. So music: will you have me?

~Annah