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.

 

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**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.**

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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!!

Adulthood?

Adulthood?

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.

What does your family say about you?

What does your family say about you?

I don’t mean: Do they say you are pretty or smart or an ass-hole?
I mean: What does your family history say about you as a person?

I want to say that the answer is nothing. I want to say that I am my own person and I make my own decisions and none of that has to do with whatever shit has happened in my past. Saying this, I wouldn’t be totally wrong but I would not be right either.

From the psychological and biological perspective, there are many characteristics that are passed down genetically that indicate clear connections in a family line. Mental and physical diseases are part of that package. Socially, the family you know and are surrounded by play a huge role in how you interpret and handle the environment around you. You learn behavior and morals from the people who ‘teach’ you behavior and morals.

So then, yes, your family is quite the talker when it comes to saying stuff about you as a person.

But it doesn’t have to!

Look at me. I am a 22 year old women who has graduated from Luther College, traveled the world, works a full time job (that I’m pretty good at), and volunteers in many groups and organizations in the communities I have been a part of throughout my life. I am by no means perfect, but I am a hard worker who genuinely cares about the world around me.

However, if you were to only look at my family line you would see a depressed mother who committed suicide at age 26 and a biological father who was hardly a part of my life and is a clear case drug addict. There is also my step dad, who I considered a dad because he taught me how to ride a bike, who is now a raging alcoholic. If you were to look at me from my family line you would expect to see a depressed and/or anxious girl who resorts to drugs and alcohol to keep herself together. Even if you don’t expect it, you wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

I have lived my whole life refusing to live in the shadow of my family tree. Ashamed may not be the perfect word, but it is not far off. Afraid might be closer.

I sometimes feel depressed. I sometimes feel anxious. I don’t always make the right choices.

I can’t be perfect. I can only be Branna.

That being said, I have made it this far on ‘the path of Branna’ with the help of the people who have supported me and the person I am now. These people are still in my life because they believe in me and who I am as a person, not who all those -ology sciences tell me I should be.

I am not my mother, or my father, or my step-dad, or my neighbor down the road. I am Branna Lace and I will not be defined by what’s behind me. I will be driven by the path a make before me and the journey I’ve made my life become.

 

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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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!