Goodbye for Now

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On Sunday May 21, 2017. I completed the goal I’ve worked the last four years to reach. On my big bucket list of lifelong dreams, I was finally able to check this one off. It truly was a beautiful and bittersweet moment. It did not go smoothly, as things rarely do, and by the end of the day I was completely whipped, but I did it!

 

And in the midst of all the ‘lasts’ I still haven’t cried. My last day of classes, my last final, my last asian bowl (ok I almost cried at that one), and my last time time walking on campus as a Luther student. I expected that these things would be emotional and painful for me, but they really weren’t.

Then came the goodbyes.

Goodbye to my professors, goodbye to my mentors, my role models, the lovely people that make my asian bowl, goodbye to my friends. I thought that this would be the time that the tears would start to flow, and yet they didn’t. I have spent the last couple of days wondering why I haven’t been emotional about this whole process. And this is the conclusion I have drawn.

The goodbyes are only temporary for me. I have spent the last four years not just going from class to class only waving at the passersby, I have spent that time building relationships that I fully plan to last me for the next four years and beyond.

The professors that have taught me the many wonderful things I’ve learned in and out of my classes are more than just people who happen to be qualified to teach at this college, they are my mentors and role models in life. You don’t just walk away from people like that, you cherish them, you keep in contact, and you continue that relationship you’ve worked so hard to build.

To the real and true friends I have made in the last four years, know that your friendship was not simply a convenience to me. The goodbyes we said on Sunday will not be the last! We have been through too much and shared too many beautiful memories for that to be so. The love I have for you all surpases time and space. It may not be in person; maybe it’s only a phone call now and then, a skype session, or a snapchat, but we will see each other again and there will be many more goodbyes for us to share.

Maybe this wishful thinking of goodbye only being for now is a little too romantic. Maybe it’s just my way of coping with this change in life. Interpret it how you will, I know that graduating Luther is not the end. What will keep me going is knowing that it’s not a goodbye forever, just a goodbye for now.

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Spontaneous night out

The intentions were great: do some reading at a local coffee shop…. Well, very little reading got done but the night continued to be filled with a couple of cocktails and a three course meal at my favorite restaurant (and job) in town, Rubaiyat, with my favorite and only roommate!

There are so many awesome things our small college town has to offer: great coffee shops to study in, wonderful cocktail bars to chat and drink, and great establishments to dine AND drink.

Most of my time the last year has been spent working at the wonderful establishment of rubaiyat but tonight I was the one dining out!

Emily and I started the afternoon at Impact with the plans to drink some coffee and do some homework. Well… not much reading got done by either of us, but we had a very nice life chat, as seniors in college need every once in awhile.

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All of a sudden it was 5:00, just in time for Rubaiyat to open! How convienient!

We told ourselves we were just going to get a cocktail…. And maybe an appetizer! Very quickly, that turned into us sitting at a booth full to the brim with 2 cocktails, salad, bread, an entree and all we could eat of a delicious creme brulee.

Do I regret anything? Absolutely not!

Sometimes this is exactly what a girl needs. A spontaneous night out where we laugh and gossip and probably eat a little too much eat and drink just enough drink. I couldn’t have asked for a better evening with my favorite roommate ever!

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*Warning Sappy college senior moment coming up*

As ready as I am to start life in the world outside Luther, I have moments like these. I have always been told I will look back on my college days and remember the first and last days of class or turning in my senior paper or maybe the whole receiving a diploma thing, but when I look back at Luther I will remember these moments. Moments with some of the most amazing people that I have ever met. The spontaneous dinners, the coffee homework sessions that turn into the best therapy, and the loving friendship two complete strangers were able to bring to life over the last four years.

My goal is that the last six weeks I have at Luther will be filled with all of these beautiful memories.

Butterflies of my Soul

Butterflies of my Soul

The world stops. Everything is without motion except for the beating of your heart and the pulsing of your veins.

A large mesh cage appears and in that cage you place the butterflies of your soul. As you confront a feeling of pain, anxiety, happiness, loss or anything else, a beautiful butterfly materializes, reflecting that emotion. Once placed in the cage they may fight or console each other. But they wont be there for long.

When you feel like your emotions have been processed and materialized, you stand up and walk to the nearest door you can find.

You walk through.

A land of your creation awaits you. It is a warm medow in the middle of a forrest. The sun is welcoming to your newly naked and vulnerable skin. There is a lake near you with the clearest water you have ever seen.

You open the cage and release the butterflies of your soul into this world of serenity.

Your breathing slows. Your pulse settles. And for even a moment, you are at peace.

The lake lures you in with its crystal waters and soft stirrings. You wade in, cleansing yourself of the struggles of life.

You dry off by laying in the grasses of the meadow. Sometimes you are greeted by a rabbit or a deer. Sometimes you are left alone to process and breathe.

Looking up, you see the butterflies of your soul flitter around free, but hesitant to fully leave. Some never do.

When you feel satisfied, you walk back through the door into the motionless world you left. You take your place back into reality and live on where you left off.

Knowing that, soon enough, you will be able to return to this world of your making.

One day, forever.

The Break in Spring Break

Spring break: A time for travel and sunshine and beaches and alcohol, right? That does sound like fun, and I wouldn’t complain about being somewhere like that right now, but what I really need requires very little travel and a lot of love and relaxation. What I need is quite simple. A break.

I’ve discovered that I feel the need to fill every moment of my time off doing what society tells me is fun and ultimately what “I am supposed to do” for this thing called spring break. But when I return, I end up feeling more tired and worn out than before I left. I get so anxious about doing all of these fun, seemingly necessary things, that I never get a chance to really take a break. This year, I decided to put my foot down and take some time for me.

Of course, I had some plans for this week, but they did not end up going… quite as planned. What was meant to be a fun few days with an old friend and lover prematurely ended by crashing back to reality with hurt and heartbreak. Again, not quite what I had in mind for this ‘break.’

In the moment, I knew that I could handle this problem in a few ways. For example, I could cry myself to sleep and stay that way for the rest of the week, or I could pick myself up and make the most of my drive up to Minneapolis. I decided to do a little bit of both. Emotions are hard and suppressing them is not healthy, so I decided to go to stay with my family in the cities. I told them what happened, and yes, I cried… a lot. The next morning, I got up, had some coffee, played with my nephews and later that day, my family treated me to a facial at a spa in town.

I am clearly sad about how the beginning of my ‘spring break’ has been, but I refuse to let that keep me from having the break I know I deserve. Spending time with my family is the healthiest way to follow this situation. Healing loss with love is the best remedy I know and that is exactly what I got from the hand I was dealt. If a life decision like this had to happen, this was the best time for it.

My mentality going into this week was to spend my time catching up and relaxing as well as processing where my life is at and where it was going. Even though the obstacles life has thrown at me, my goal remains the same. In fact, it is even more important. I still have 5 days before classes start to take in all of the ‘break’ I can, and you can bet I will do just that!

New Beginings, Second Chances and Tomorrows

New Beginings, Second Chances and Tomorrows

Yes there are a million cheesy catch phrases for new years that never fade:

“New Year, New You”

“Here’s to my new year’s resolutions”

“See you next year”

We’ve heard them all… probably one too many times. How many people really stick to those resolutions? Not a ton I’m guessing.

It’s pretty obvious that the world, and our place in it, is not going to change in the minutes between 2016 and 2017. My college debts will not be erased, I will not lose 20 pounds, and the man of my dreams will not show up in front of me. If those things did happen they would either be illegal, unhealthy or both!

But even after facing the not so bright reality of the January 1st, this continues to be my favorite holiday. Because whether we keep our silly resolutions or not, there are thousands of people feeling that same sense of hope for a new year. For at least a split second, people believe in themselves and the world around them to make this next year better than the one we are leaving.

And I think that is absolutely beautiful!

If we are being honest with ourselves, we could decide to change any day. Tomorrow I could wake up and say, I’m going to start going to the gym every day. Ok.. bad example concidering tomorrow is January 1st, but you get my point. We have the power to make those decisions whenever we want, but having a specific day  makes it just a little easier to believe.

So whether you are making your own new years resolution, spending the night partying away, or just curling up watching netflix, I hope you have that second, that little moment between 1159 and 1200, where you believe in new beginings, second chances and tomorrows.

Breathe

Breathe

**I would like to preface this post by explaining that I really am fine. Not at every moment of the day, but I am warrior and I will survive. That doesn’t make the hard moments less hard. I’ve avoided them for so long but that doesn’t make them go away. I know I’m not the only one who experiences these things and I feel like if one person can see this pain put into words and it helps in some way then it was worth it. If it moves someone to dig a little deeper or care a little more about people who go through this, than it was worth it. Please don’t worry about me though. I will be okay**

Breathe

Breath is the eternal life force, but what do you do when you can’t catch it?

Panic

Cry

Freeze

From a moment of not having the energy to move, into a fit of giggles and silliness, straight into unexplainable tears. Losing your breath all along the way.

“Calm down” “Breathe” “Get up” “Branna, please move”

You repeat these phrases over and over because if you don’t get up now, maybe you never will.

Once you are finally able to move you walk to the mirror to give yourself the pep talk that always seems to work, but you fear what you see. A broken girl, crying for no reason, engulfed by a hole with no trigger.

You tell her to stop crying and she cries more. You tell her it’s okay to cry and she cries more. We fall to the ground. The progress to get out of bed is lost the nearer we get to the floor.

We struggle to breathe, we count, we close our eyes, we look up, down, and to each other again.

We see this pain without words. Without color or sound or texture.

 

This hidden beast

The beast that comes out when you’re alone and vulnerable, when you least expect it.

You thank it: for not breaking you in a crowd

You curse it: for leaving you alone and helpless

You fear it: and don’t want to fight back and lose

You love it: because you know it will never abandon you

 

As time stands still

You wait

You take the blows

You give away your breath

You wait

Because that’s all you can do

 

Eventually you’re fine again, you wipe the tears, answer the missed calls, stand back up.

 

And then you breathe

For now… I am home

For now… I am home

It took me a long while to really get used to this whole ‘coming home’ thing… I didn’t want to at first. I wanted to continue to explore the world, discover a zillion and three more faces, understand this home of mine. I was a little afraid of being stuck back in this small town Iowa setting again. I went from the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and the coastal mountains of the Cinqueterre in Italy to New Hampton Iowa…

In the few weeks I’ve been home, I have not had conversations with herds of sheep or dipped my toes into the Mediterranean, but I have eaten perfectly grilled sweet corn and danced in the rain of a warm summer shower with some of my closest friends and family.

I have missed far more than the adventures and excitement of the last year. I have missed the ‘family’ I have left on the other side of the world. But here I have been greeted with overwhelming love from the family I left a year ago. We have laughed and talked. We have danced and played. We have shared stories and made more plans for the future. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yesterday morning I got up, walked to one of our local coffee shops, got an iced americano and just sat in the sun and read my book. It truly was a beautiful moment. But it wasn’t the book or the coffee or the sun that made me realize I missed this place I call home.

It was the people. It will always be the people. 

Someone calling to you across the street just to say hello, is a comfort a didn’t know I missed. The feeling of being able to be anywhere in town and see someone you know is something I  used to hate… sometimes I still do. But after not having it, I realize how reassuring it is to know you have people in the world. People who know you, who care about you. People like I have here.

I cherish those people in my life; the ones I have known from childhood who I can tell my deepest feelings to and the ones who I’ve only known for a couple weeks but care about me none the less. I know when I go back to Europe (because I WILL go back) I will have those feelings of love and comfort and recognition. Right now though, I will take the ones I have here.

I have missed this place.

I have missed this love.

I have missed these people.

And for now… I am home.