Final Semester Already!?

“The dreaded last semester at Luther College…”  at least that’s how I expected it to feel three and a half years ago when I came in as a first year. Don’t get me wrong, the dark cloud  of ‘adulthood’ is definitely hovering over my head, but I got my umbrella and rainboots and I’m ready to go.

The impending jump to adulthood, whatever the heck that means, is right around the corner and I am quite aware of this, but I don’t really feel like it has to be a bad thing! No promises I will feel the same way come the beginning of May or maybe the end of April when my senior paper is due…

Every now and then I get a little jolt of, “oh my goodness what am I doing with my life,” but that definitely didn’t stop me from taking a last first day of classes picture with my lovely roommate! We dressed up, headed to class and even made it through the whole day without a nap; if that’s not an achievement, then I don’t know what is!

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Emily and I being cute on our (last) first day of classes!!

All joking aside, I am a little nervous about finishing up my time at Luther. It’s been four years of ups and downs and literal dreams come true. I have done so much in my time here and have traveled to so many places. I would not give a second of that back and definitely plan on making the most of my remaining time here, however, I am ready to take those next steps. Maybe it’s from studying abroad so much and doing independent travel, maybe it’s working a consistent job, maybe the adult gene finally kicked in, but I really do feel ready.

I began feeling this way last semester when I decided I did not want to go to graduate school. It is not that I have no more room to learn, trust me, there is plenty that I still don’t know. It is more that I am tired of sitting around talking about impacting society rather than actually doing it. This is part of learning, you have to know what you’re going to do and what that means before you actually do it, and that’s great, but I’m ready for more. At least I think I am… I guess we’ll see!

So, although growing up and graduating college means that the bills will start to add up and the loans will come back to get me, it is a step I am more than willing (maybe even excited) to take. And until that day comes, May 21st that is, I will make the most of my final semester at Luther.

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.

Here we go again

Taking on the World

After a month in Italy, and then an entire year traveling around Europe, you might think I’d be tired of traveling? Well you would be absolutely and completely wrong, because in less than a week I will be off on my next adventure!

Where is my destination? Southeast Asia; Cambodia specifically.

Why here? Why not?

Through my university there is a month-long class that covers the topic of War, Peace, and Reconciliation. From the title, I think it is clear that this is not just a vacation. We will be studying the Cambodian genocide and how the country and its people are recovering. This will include going to the killing fields as well as some museums.

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For the last few weeks I’ve been reading a book called “First They Killed My Father” by Loung Ung. This novel brought me to tears multiple times in very public places. It is a memoir of…

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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

What makes ‘love’ so important?

What makes ‘love’ so important?

We all need to feel a sense of love.

Some crave attention from spouses
Others crave affection from parents
Some prefer the company of their cat or dog

Some need verbal reassurance of their beauty
Others need to be held through the night
Some only a gentle smile or twinkle of the eye

No matter what the form is, love is something everyone needs.

But why, why do we need it?
What makes ‘love’ so damn important?

Does it make us feel whole, feel wanted, feel something… anything?
Does it make us forget the hate of the world, the tears we have shed, the ones we have lost?

Love has the potential for greatness but it is not this all-healing power that brings people back to life after tragedy has struck. In fact, it is often what put us there in the first place.

Love is painful
Love is scary
Love is loss

So why is this painful, scary, not so perfect thing called ‘love’ so damn important?
Why do we keep coming back to this feeling after it has hurt us so many times?

The rewards are worth the risks
The ups are worth the downs
The pain is worth the pleasure

Love is beautiful because it is complicated.

There are so many dimensions of love: parent-child, siblings, distant relation you love even though you never see them, spouse for 50 years, fiancé of five minutes, the first sight of a guy across the bar, the laughter, the kisses, the tears.

Love is forgiveness
Love is rebirth
Love is beauty

Nothing in the world is purely good or bad, and love is no exception.

Love can feel crushing and it can also lift one up
It can cause your world to be empty or fill it with endless joy

We all need to feel a sense of love. Not always in the same way in every instant, but we do.

It’s what makes us human.
What lifts us up when we are down
But keeps us in our place when we get too proud

Some people have lots of love to give
Some people need a little more love than others
Some people just don’t know what to do with this… thing

Love is who we are, you can push it away, you can deny that you need it, you can choose to use it or fight it, but in the end, love is all we have.

We may be back and forth on the good and bad of love but we cannot deny its importance.

If it wasn’t even the slightest bit important to you, you wouldn’t have read this blog.

Sometimes you have to be selfish

Big decisions like going to college or moving to another country for a year can be amazing and beneficial for you, that’s why we make those decisions. Those decisions are not always best for everyone but sometimes you have to be selfish.

When I chose to go overseas, I did it for me. I wanted to see those places and meet those people and learn those lessons… for me. Not for my friends and family back home. Not even to make people proud of me. It was solely for my own happiness. And it was wonderful.

I knew that there would be people unhappy with my decision, (no matter how big or small the choice someone is going to be a grump!) but I did it anyway. This did not mean I was without occasional pains of guilt, but those pains were soothed by the joy and beauty of what I was experiencing.

As much as I wish I was, I am not psychic… I didn’t know how things would turn out when I came back.

Would you still be angry with me?
Would too much space push us too far away?
or
Would you understand my decision?
Would time apart mean time to reevaluate life?

Fortunately, time and space was a good thing for us both. We have been able to view our lives though our own eyes rather than all the visions others want or expect us to see.

Even though I didn’t know this choice would have a good ending, I wouldn’t have chosen any different. It’s selfish and I know it. But sometimes, after continually giving all that you possibly have to offer and then some more, you need to make some of those big, hard, selfish decisions. If nothing else, for your own sanity.

In the end, we are sisters and no matter what happens, that will never change. We may get angry with what the other may choose but we will always love each other. We have had to give up a lot to keep that love, so every once and a while I think we are entitled to a selfish decision or two.

 

 

Even the Bubbliest Bubble Can Pop..

Being a happy-go-lucky, bubbly person is great but… bubbles pop. You can’t ask a bubble to remain in bubble form forever, sometimes they pop and have to wait for another gust of air to come by and revive them. Similarly, people cannot be expected to remain one bubbly emotion forever, sometimes something happens and that happy bubble ends and it takes something very happy to make that bubbly pep reappear.

(Hope you’re still following my pretty out-there logic)

Let’s make the metaphor less complicated and just throw it out I’m talking about me, the bubble is Branna.

I am one of those happy-go-lucky, bubbly people. I enjoy the lovely pastimes of laughing and smiling and telling jokes and laughing some more. I like asking people how their days are. And talking, I am really good at talking!

At the same time, it does not take much to pop my bubbles, my happy bubble, my confident bubble… my bubble. I have worked hard to be who I am today and I love this beautiful creation; this versatile, emotional, being.

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Fragility is what makes bubbles beautiful and fragile is what we are… It’s what I am.

I wish bubbly meant I had a cushioning wall of bubbles to catch my fall. Instead it is this beautiful… fragile… thing that happens to make me, me.

Go easy  with me is all I ask, and know that sometimes, I might pop. But all I need is a nice, big (but gentle) gust of air, filled with love and support, to bring me back to life.