Intentions vs Outcomes

Intentions vs Outcomes

Intention: an aim, plan, or goal. Outcome: effect, real life happening.

Intentions play a large role in how we go about our lives. It dictates why we make the choices that we do, but sometimes, it’s questionable whether we even know what our intentions are. In a court of law, it is extremely hard to prove intent, and socially it is commonly misconstrued and based on opinion. In the end, the only guarantee is the outcome that results from our actions. It’s been argued that our society has taken a perspective of “it’s the thought that counts” over the reality of the outcomes. This phrase in itself, is problematic, however, taking it a level deeper makes it become even more problematic. If the outcome of this thought journey is that you are requestioning your thoughts, motives, and actions, then the intentions have been met (if that even matters).

Example: “Why” Intentions
I do not deny that the thoughts and motives behind why people do what they do are important. Personally, I am a huge “why” person! I am constantly looking to understand the process of why I am performing a certain task or cultural ritual. For me, having a motive or thoughtful intention going into a project helps me tackle the situation with my most prepared self. This area of ‘why asking’ can come from different intentional places. It could either come from the above, wanting to gain all knowledge possible in order to fulfill a task (good intention) or it could come from a place of questioning power and challenging social dynamics (bad? intention). Let’s not even get into the philosophy of defining what good vs bad intentions are!!

The intention of asking why could go either way, as could the outcome. For example, you may ask why with a bad intention and still receive the knowledge to help you complete the task. Or, with a good intented why, you may just manage to upset the person you are questioning and cause an uncomfortable riff that no one wants. In the end, it didn’t really matter what your intention was, the outcome is what dictates the rest of the environment you are in.

What happens when good intentions result in bad outcomes?
So if we can all agree to this point, and I hope we all do, because the following won’t make much sense to those who don’t, the answer to all of our questions drops intention out entirely. What happens when good intentions result in bad outcomes?? You ditch the idea of intentions, look at the outcome and change your actions to result in a better outcome.

Sure.. yeah.. maybe you can say, “my intention is a better outcome and that’s a good intention which resulted in a better outcome so it is still about intention.” Ok, I’ll throw you the bone, but know it’s just to make you happy not because I find credibility in what you’re saying. (See what I did there: you’re happy you get the bone, I’m happy you leave me alone. My annoyed and spiteful intentions can hardly be considered “good” but the outcome is mutual happiness so I don’t think we can really complain anymore).

Along with living in a world that puts great emphasis on intention, it is also a world that thinks they can do no wrong. Too often I hear, “well, my intentions are good and if you interpreted that wrong then that’s your problem.” (Ok.. I don’t know many people who are quite that forward, but many say just as much). Going back to my second paragraph, I think intentions are very important in our social world! I also believe that, if our outcomes cause pain, tension, and/or offense in others we are obligated to change the actions or behaviors that resulted in that outcome- no matter what the intentions may have been. Or, if one chooses to think they are above changing their behavior, they should get used to being in environments of tension and/or offense and that is the outcome they are refusing to change.

The intention vs outcome of writing this post
Well, as we’ve discussed (or rather I’ve discussed and you’ve read). It doesn’t really matter what my intention of writing this was. But, if you must know, I mostly wanted to express where I think our society’s priorities should lie: not with the introspective idea of our own intentions but rather the larger scale reality of the outcomes they produce, and to hopefully persuade others to see through the same lens I do. I guess I’ll see the outcomes as it happens and therefore adjust my approach and message accordingly. If you feel differently about this, please, create a conversation! How will we ever learn what the appropriate actions are if there are no reactions to their outcomes?


the Truth in Pain

My life has led me to feel all sorts of pain. From a scraped knee when falling off my bike, to a broken heart, to losing what should have been the most important person in my life. I am no stranger to pain.

My mind knows this well. It knows I understand pain so well that it creates pain out of nowhere. Tension when everyone else is happy. Sadness on a sunny day. Loneliness in a crowded room. My mind spends all day creating pain that doesn’t even exist, so sometimes it’s hard to find the truth in pain.

My childhood was comprised of a lot of people trying to shield me from the pain of the world. This protection came from love but helped weaken me to inner demons. I will take the pain of the world over the pain of my mind any day. I will take Truth over my self-created nightmares any day.

I write to clear the lines between Truth and Pain

My head is filled with emotions that twist and turn and hide behind other emotions so much that I can hardly decipher what is real. Through writing, I’m able to strip the emotions that begin when I write down to the raw pain that hides beneath. This shedding process rarely leaves me in a ‘happy’ state but it leaves me calm because even in my sadness and pain I know what I am feeling is ugly, but truthful and real. So often I find myself feeling pain for all the wrong reasons and it leaves me crying for all the wrong reasons. And when the crying is over, I feel no sense of relief because the Truth was never addressed. Finding the Truth is hard, but battling it is always worth the fight because the small victories of Truth lead me towards winning this life we lead.

When I live in that Truth, no matter how hard it was to get there, I know that when I cry, it’s real, and I can cry in peace.




I thought the craziness of traveling back from Minneapolis to New Orleans would keep me distracted from the reminder of how my life changed 15 years ago. It hasn’t. My 40 minute delayed flight has given me an extra 40 minutes to reflect on the goods and bads of the time you’ve been gone, the last year especially, and it’s a little dangerous. Don’t worry, I’m currently in a crowded airport and promise to hold myself together, but the reflection is inevitable.

I tried to avoid the acknowledgment of this anniversary most of the day, and did a pretty good job of it actually! I was in Minneapolis with some of the most important people in my life (two of which are under the age of two) and got to have coffee with an amazing person that I’ve missed dearly. My head was replaying recent memories of the truly needed holiday that was coming to an end. As I sit here now, surrounded by many people in the Atlanta airport, my recent memories are being replaced with the memories of the recurring pain that comes this day every year, and an all too familiar feeling of loneliness hovers me.

I first reflected on my posts about this day in years past:

2010: 8 Years Gone
R.I.P mom! The road to forgiveness is hard but at least I have so many loving people to help me along the way. I love you.

2012: 10 Years Gone
I have gone through some of the hardest and some of the happiest moments in my life in the last 10 years and I know the next 10 and the next after that and so on will be filled with more ups and more downs than I can count… …I miss my mom with every ounce of being I am but that need has turned into determination. The determination to keep going on and to make my life everything she couldn’t make hers, and more…. … I would rather think of this day as seeing how far we’ve come rather than what we’ve lost.

2014: 12 Years Gone
Today I didn’t need my time hop to remind me of the past… Today I didn’t want a reminder of the past. I told myself, “It’s been 12 years.. I’m fine.. It doesn’t bother me anymore…” It took all day for me realize how much I was fooling myself. Saying that it doesn’t bother me is a lie! It drives me crazy, it makes me mad, it hurts!! It does bother me!! It doesn’t take the 29th of December for me to remember that 12 years ago my mom died and I never really got to know how her. But I’m also reminded that in the midst of all this, I’m still here. For all that was taken away from me so much was given. It took a lot of work and a lot of love, but hey, I’m leaving for Italy in 7 days!! My life has been hard, but it is so worth it! After all this time, yeah it bothers the hell out of me… but it doesn’t control me!

2016: 14 Years Gone
I wish I could tell you about Cambodia and all the great things were going to do there. I wish I could tell you about graduating in May and how scared I am. I wish I could talk through my life plans with you for guidance or inspiration. There were hundreds of times I wish I could have called you in the last year. It’s been a rough one for reasons of its own, but not having you there made it a million times harder.

Countless times I’ve been in the same situation of fear and confusion and only wanted you. The people I have in my life truly are amazing but they are not and never will be you. But I can’t just wait for you. I think it hurts so much because I’m finally realizing I have to really grow up and you missed it all. You made a choice and I’ve lived with it for 14 years. No year will be easy, most will be hard. But the years will still come. I can’t make up the time you took away from me but that doesn’t have to stop me from making more.

I know I can’t call you. I’d like to believe you see these things happening. Either way, I have to keep moving because it’s worse when I stop and I really don’t want to waste my years with that. So here’s to moving and memory making and years to come because we don’t have time to lose.

It’s interesting to see past Branna go from not really knowing what RIP means, to feeling true abandonment during some of the biggest moments in her life. I’ve lived this life long enough to know the winding roads of anger, sadness, denial, and depression like the back of my hand. Yet all of these posts seem to end with some sort of forgiveness and hope of moving on. The feelings are accurate but the process of getting there is a bit clouded

I have wept tears of defeat and anger. I have apologized to those who have gotten hurt in the backlash of my emotional learning curve. I have spoken of conquering the pain that comes in waves. But in all of this, I have left out just how tired it makes me. This year, I am utterly exhausted.

I am tired of trying to decipher this riddle of emotions
I am tired of apologizing for my feelings
I am tired of wasting energy on anger towards a person who no longer exists
I am tired of putting on a smile when I don’t believe it and hiding the tears when they come
I sit here, exhausted from travel, and realize that I’m tired of making myself tired. 

There will still be days where I wallow.. Days where I scream at the sky I used to imagine you ran away to.. Days where I feel all alone in a crowded room..

There will also be days where I laugh.. Days where I cry at the sky because the sight is almost too beautiful to handle.. Days where I dance alone in my kitchen because I know someone is admiring my spontaneous pirouettes.

Fifteen years has taught me that I can never really escape the days of sorrow and sadness but there are equal days of joy and happiness, even if those days don’t come for weeks at a time.

Fifteen years later I realized that my fatigue does not come from the painful days, but the effort I put into telling myself they don’t (or shouldn’t) exist. And yes, I will end this post with the positives of the future because I know they are out there, but I will not try and pretend that the bad ones don’t exist because they are out there too. All I can do is hope this is a year where I accept myself for who I am and what I have done to get here rather than worrying about how I should be acting or feeling.

So here’s to fifteen years.
Here’s to hoping!

The Ramblings of Love and Happiness

“When I love you, I am happy.” This is not an inaccurate statement. It makes us feel good to love and be loved. We feel happy and safe and all of those warm, bubbly feelings. But that is not all that love means. Happiness is just a small section of what it means to love someone. When you really, truly love someone, you don’t run out at the first sign of not being ‘happy’.

It may also help to find what happiness means in reality. Trust me, I am an idealist at heart, I would love to believe that we could be happy 24/7, 365, but I know we cannot. Pain and sadness and frustration and all the other billions of emotions we have that are not happiness are going to sneak into the pool of feelings drowning our minds all the time. It’s not realistic to say that we are going to be happy all the time so why does it sound fair to say you can’t love someone if you’re not happy.

This is where the blurred lines come in….

“No you shouldn’t be with someone if you are unhappy.”
“You can’t expect to be happy all the time.”
“It’s not fair to keep giving them chances if they make your life less happy.”
“If you never give someone the chance for love how do you know if you could be happy?”

There are so many ways that we can handle love and they tend to revolve around happiness, but how do you calculate what the weight of unhappiness is that crushes the chance of love? As far as I know, you can’t. It would be nice to have these ideal numbers and ratios to tell us what chance we have in succeeding in a certain pairing with this percentage of the time being in happiness over sadness. But that’s not how it works. (Who knows maybe someday it will, but that’s for a much different blog than this!)

Love is this beautiful, scary, happy, and sometimes not so happy thing that enters and leaves our lives with more impact that we often realize. Saying “I love you” should not equal, “I love you, when things are going well,” or “I love you, but only when we’re happy.” That is not love, that is convenience.

I love you because we have happy moments. I love you more when we don’t have happy moments. When you’re unhappy, I love you so much I want to love away the pain at least for a minute or three. When I’m unhappy, I want you to love me back to whole so we can share those happy times again. I will take you at your worst because I’ve seen you at your best and know that even from there we can achieve greater together. But that greatness does not come from running away from unhappy moments, it comes from working towards the ideal that always feels two steps away from us. If we run together though, I believe we can catch it!

If there comes a time when the fight for love and happiness becomes too much and the bad moments out weigh the good, it will not be fun or happy or anything I desire to do, but I will not say that I was wrong in my love. Things change and I may not love you now but last week or last month or yesterday I really, truly did. Feelings may change but that doesn’t erase their history. If I had one day where we both loved and felt happy, I would not let anything take that day from me, and I believe that it would be worth it, even for that one day.

So let there be love and let there be happiness. And if they don’t always align, evaluate why and if it’s something you want to work to realign. If you don’t want to put the work into it, you don’t deserve it. But if you do, don’t let it pass you by. Don’t fear that other person’s love, let it in and love it right back, you could be stronger than you’ve ever imagined.



**Man, I love coffee, but sometimes it gives me the shakes… I still love it, but we need to take the time to work out just how much love we can handle. We reevaluate our relationship and the next morning (and a seemingly ungodly hour) our love is reignited.**

Whew! Week one…ish

Ok, yes, you caught me. It is really more like week two and a half at this point but I really did intend to write this post after week one!!

So far it has been a little bit of what I expected and a lot of what I didn’t. I knew there would be a stressful amount of bills to pay and a big girl job to go to from 9-5 (or 845-515 at least which has been my life so far). I knew I was going to a city versus my beautiful bluffs and rivers of Decorah. I knew these things, but they still hit harder than expected*.

*Not like… knock me out cold hit. Not… upper cut or kidney kick. Just a semi rough push or strong arm.

I knew I was taking this new leap into a world that I am unfamiliar with. I thought maybe I would be scared. Maybe a little overwhelmed. I feel neither of these things. I am handling the work I’ve been thrown into at my knew job with great poise, and the bills are getting paid/sorted out and I’ve only been honked at on the interstate once*.

*Ok… maybe twice but the second time I just laughed because it was totally her fault!

What I feel to is a little lonely. I am an extremely social person and therefore being in a city where I don’t really know anyone has been a challenge. In my other big moves I had the arena to meet others, it was an entire coordinated set of buildings made for giving people a chance to make connections. That’s really what college was for me, both in-country and abroad. Ok, I guess I learned a thing or two about the brain functions and institutional racism, but really I just met a whole lot of people!

My goal in the next week (or two and a half ) is to find my New Orleans arena for people meeting. It’s out there, I just have to reach a little farther than I did before. It’s like the universe is teasing me with a cookie*, but each step I take towards adulthood the cookie moves a little farther away.

*Can you picture it, because if you’re not trying to picture it you’re wasting your time reading this post! It’s a kind of sad/funny right?!

But it doesn’t mean the cookie has disappeared. I can still meet those people destined to take in some of my awesome rays of light. I just have to shine a little brighter and extend the circle*.

*You should be picturing this too!

So here we go people! Let’s shine some light, make some friends, and eat some cookies!!

Journey to the Big Easy

Well it may not have been the smartest choice to have my tonsils removed and then move a little over a thousand miles away to an unfurnished house, but here I am, four days after my journey began, sitting on our new (to us) couch after having a semi-soft dinner at our dinner table that we’ve only moved the positioning of twice! I’d say that’s not bad for only a handful of days!

I wish I could say the path down was enjoyable, but that is not the vocabulary I would use… I was in quite a bit of pain still even after a week of recovery and my energy levels were not running at top speed, but thankfully my aunt came with me and drove ‘almost’ the entire way. After about 800 miles and 14 or so hours of driving on the first day, we stopped in Canton, Mississippi and took of for the second leg of the trip bright and early the next morning. We finally got to New Orleans, after stopping in Baton Rouge to do some paperwork, around 1300 and then the real work began.

(see my snapchat documentation of the journey below)

The next couple days were spent filling our nearly empty apartment. It’s hard to imagine, unless you’ve done it, the sheer amount of items that go into a house… From the big things like a couch and dinner table to the smaller thinks like a strainer for kitchen sink and a shower curtain. We are surely not done getting the things we need to make the house a home but we did quite a lot in a very short period of time because we don’t mess around!

After driving my aunt to the airport Friday morning, which was a tear filled departure as you can probably imagine, I  came back to the house… my new house… and crashed. But after staring around my room for a bit I had a deep urge to make this new room mine. If I’m going to call this place home it should at least look like home. And today I am quite content with my homemaking choices.

I don’t know if I’ve processed everything as fully as I should have by this point but I am feeling alright. I’ve been exploring a bit and figuring out the lay of the land while also mentally preparing myself to start a new job on Tuesday and commence a ‘second’ job hunt.

There is still much more to do and explore in this life I’ve begun here is the Big Easy, but that’s the excitement of it all. I don’t feel like it would be considered a journey if I knew where I was going… it would just be a trip or a holiday, a journey is much more that that and I’m ready to take it head on!



What does it even mean to be an ‘adult?’ Usually when I hear the word adult used to describe something it means there is alcohol or vegetables involved. I mean there may be alcohol and vegetables in my future but I’m pretty sure that’s not the whole story.

Recently I’ve been going through a lot of big changes/events. In 11 short days I will be moving from small town Iowa to the city of New Orleans, Louisiana! I was offered a job through AmeriCorps but was then tasked with finding a place to live in a city over a thousand miles away. Oh, and right in all of these big changes, I am leaving a job that I absolutely love and getting my tonsils taken out!

If adulthood is making lots of life changing decisions in the matter of three weeks, I think I’m in it!

Although I have been completely overwhelmed with these significant (and even the seemingly insignificant) decisions, I have been trying to take time to process how I feel about taking these steps. I am doing things the right way? Am I really just on the path to Neverland? I am even stepping at all!? This frame of thinking is a terrifying place to be and therefore makes the act of deciding even harder.

What I have come to find, however, is that maybe it’s ok if I don’t know the end of my story.

Maybe I am going the wrong way right now… but maybe I’m not.

Maybe I am on the path to Neverland… a new place to explore!

Maybe I’m not really stepping… what if I’m leaping?

Adulthood may mean making big, scary decisions. It means taking changes that might not have rewards. It means putting yourself out there with a little less cushion than when you were a ‘kid.’

Being an adult is not categorized by a number. It’s not an age, or a height, or the amount of money you make. It’s being able to take those risks and stick through the good and bad. It should not be glamorized nor should it be feared.

I don’t know what will await me in New Orleans, that’s what makes it exciting. What I do know, is that it will change me! I will come out of this situation having learned some important lessons, taken leaps and bounds in my career and personal life, met people and seen places new to me, and so much more!

I could fall flat on my face.
I could soar.
I will step.

I think, I don’t know for sure, but I think, these may be the steps that lead me into adulthood. I guess we’ll find out.