Sometimes Loss Will Take Your Breath Away

Sometime loss creeps up on you and steals your breath away.  I used to believe in those books and movies with characters who said, “You’ll get over it.  It won’t always hurt.”  But it does.  It just doesn’t hurt as much, nor as often, but it still hurts.

In the beginning, it always hurts.  You can’t breathe, it hurts so much.  Maybe you even consider ending your own life just to escape the pain.

Have you ever noticed, in books and movies, the person dying is always at peace?  They’re always so calm and accepting and, “It’s okay.”  No, it’s not.  Because when the curtain drops, they’re gone and their loved ones are left to build a life around a gaping hole.  They die, but we’re left here to reconstruct our existence.  There’s nothing okay or fair about that.

But somewhere along the way, you get used to that hole.  Pain and loss fill the void nicely, making it less empty, but it will never be whole.  The face that you try to fill it with will never be just right: the eyes will be the wrong shade of blue, the smile won’t have dimples, their hair won’t be that shade of dirty blonde.  But you’ll get used to the hole and you’ll build a life.

Somewhere along the way, you’ll be happy.  For an hour.  For a day.  For a week.  For a month.  For a year.  People will say you’ve moved on.  That you’ve healed.  But then a line in a song, an old dirt road, or a simple ring tucked away in your jewelry box will bring it all back.  You won’t be able to breathe.  Tears might even gather at the corners of your eyes.  For a moment, you will be breathless and that pain will return to you, as real as the day it first arrived, but somehow less sharp.  You’ve learned to live with pain and loss, so their edges aren’t as cutting.  You’ve shared a bed with them long enough, you can sleep through their snoring.

And that’s okay.  It doesn’t have to be like the movies where you get over it.  You don’t have to play at being whole; it’s okay to spend your life mourning the loss of someone who was as vital to you as a limb, or maybe even a heart.  But if you can, it’s also okay to let go.

Just know, it doesn’t make you weak if you choose to hold on.

-B.

Self Sunday: Sea Change

I am taking my worries to the sea…

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A few months back, I was feeling as though things were going to change.  Just a thought, nothing more, but now May is right around the corner and I feel things quickening.  That thought is turning into something real.  And while I’m excited to see what’s coming next, I’m also a little worried.

I like options.  I like having a say.  But at the same time, if you give me a single job or task, I’ll do it and be done with it.  I don’t mind having only one road to travel; in fact, I often prefer clear direction as opposed to spinning life’s wheel of fortune.  Why?  Because I don’t do well with options.

Yet here I am, with plenty of options.  Plenty of avenues to explore, paths to take, yet every time I go to God to see which one I’m supposed to take, all I get is, “Pick one.”  I can pick if there’s two options; anymore and I feel like I’ve been left spinning on a carousel too long.  I feel like a bottle tossed to sea and now I’m waiting to see which current is going to lead me to shore.

-B.

Don’t Ask Me To Make Plans, Because God Is Going To Change Them

If I had to describe myself in three words, it’d be nervous, impatient, and happy.

I like to know what’s coming next.  Especially when I’m at a point like I am now where I feel a sea change coming.  It makes me anxious not to know what plan God has next for me, and even though I know I shouldn’t be anxious, I still am.

Chalk it up to my childhood.  Aside from a few moments that rocked my world (not in a good way), my childhood was fairly normal, albeit unpredictable.  My parents live God-lead lives and as a kid, I didn’t fully understand the concept of that.  So when plans suddenly changed or life just up and shifted, I was left feeling as though I had no say in my life.  And really, at the age I was, that’s kinda true, since I was young and my parents were in charge.  But since I never grasped why my parents could just “go with the flow,” I started telling myself not to plan.

I am a pro when it comes to not making commitments.  I felt if I made commitments, God would say, “Hey! I have a different plan for you,” and then whoosh me away to that.  So I stopped trying for things.  I stopped getting attached to friends.  I stopped wishing for big and impossible things.  Why bother when my life was ultimately in God’s hands?

That’s not good.  Trusting my life to God is awesome, but not making any plans?  No bueno.  I knew that, but just like I know I shouldn’t be anxious and still am, my habit of not planning anything was hard to break.  I still haven’t broken it.  But I’m trying.

See, now that I’m older, I understand what my parents were doing when they put their lives in God’s hands and let Him direct the wind in their sails.  I understand that now, but still… sometimes I’m 15 again and I think if I really want something, if there’s an opportunity I want to take, or an occasion I want to plan for, I feel God is going to take it away from me.

That’s not my God.  My God doesn’t give me the bad and withhold the good.  I know that.  Just like I know I shouldn’t be anxious.  Just like I know it’s not good to go your life without planning anything.  But still… it’s a cycle of thought I’ve been caught in for years and I’m only now trying to break out of it.

I feel if I want something enough, then that’s the first thing that’s going to be taken from me when God arrives with His “real” plan for me.  Which is why I’m anxious.  Which is why I want to know what’s coming next; I don’t want to invest my heart in something if it’s going to end up being “not what God planned for me.”

Yet here I am.  Trying for something, yet holding back just enough that, should God say this isn’t the path for me, I won’t be entirely devastated.  I won’t spend three hours crying in my bed.  I won’t rip up every journal I own.  I’m holding back just enough that my 15 year-old self is appeased, but that my 21 year-old self can still say,

“Maybe.  Just maybe.”

Slowly, but surely, I’m learning to hope.  And while I trust God has a plan for me, I’m learning it’s okay to make some plans of my own.  This is my life, and what good is it going to be if I sit around waiting for God to give me the go-ahead to live it?

Do you have problems making plans?

-B.

Self Sunday: Try For

I was probably 15 when I decided to stop “making plans” and just let God take the reins in my life.  Which is both a good and bad thing, because I can sometimes be a person of extremes.  By that I mean, when I decided to stop making plans for my life, I went all out.  You could get me to plan something a week in advance… maybe.  I figured life was fickle, and things could change at the drop of a hat, so why make a commitment to something if I wouldn’t be able to follow through?

But now I think… “At least I would’ve tried for something.”

So here we are, springtime, with summer looming before me.  This is my least favorite time of year because 1) I’m impatient for summer and 2) the sudden flux of sunshine rots my brain and makes me stupid.  (side note: petition for Washington to be renamed the Rain State, please and thank you)  But I’m especially grumbling over this spring because there’s so much.  So much going on.  Or at least so much that could be going on.

A few possible opportunities have cropped up in the past two weeks.

  • One, I’m moderately excited about, because it would finally enable me to do something with fashion… but I’m not sure if I’m a right fit for the company.
  • Number Two, would put me in an old-but-new environment, would look great on a resume, but is a little… constricting.
  • Number Three… oh, we’re not even going to talk about Number Three.  It’s so far up in the air, gravity might kick in sometime in the next decade.

Then, of course, there’s me as I am now, and the summer I know I’ll have if I don’t try for any of the aforementioned opportunities.  It’s not a bad summer.  Actually, it’s a summer I’ve been looking forward too for awhile.  But then I think of life as it is now- and I think of those opportunities- and I realize, I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing now a year from now.

Years are long, I tell myself.  Years are long and things can change.  Fast.  Slow.  When you least expect it.  And in all of this I tell myself that it’s in God’s hands and He has my back.  BUT…

… I want a roadmap.  I like detailed instructions.  I want to know every minute detail before I begin a new job because I want to be good at it.  I want…

It’s worth, okay?  I’ve been doubting my worth for a long time and while people have slowly but surely been chipping away at my different avenues of doubt (shout-out to the people who got through to me about my writing; bless you), there are still a few that need to be demolished.  We’ll get there.

But for now, I’m here.  With all these possible avenues that I could take and I just want to know which path I’m supposed to choose.  Instead of spinning the wheel, I’d rather just be told, “This is the option you’re supposed to pick.”  Because then I could just commit to that and stop worrying and… and… and…

A dear and wonderful friend heard me out and at the end of an epic rant, she hit me with these words of wisdom.

If you do get it… if you are granted this long shot.. then the universe has spoken.

Doesn’t that sound so simple?  And it is and yet here I am, overthinking everything and wondering what-if, what-if, what-if.

I want the list of options to be shorter.  My mom always says you can only give people two options, otherwise they get confused.  So I want a shorter list.  And the ability to stop overthinking everything.  And a soft pretzel.

The outcome is up in the air.  Scratch that.  The outcome is in God’s hands and so far, He hasn’t let me down.  I’ve been happy and I’ve thrived and I just need to hold onto that.

So if you’ll excuse me… there’s a few opportunities I need to try for.

Until next time.
-B.

The Truth About My Poetry

There’s no truth in my poetry.  At least, no literal truth.  I try.  I try to write poetry like life is a Taylor Swift song, because life is a Taylor Swift song, but only TayTay has the ability to write it like that.  So it doesn’t work for me.

But while the words aren’t true, the emotion always is.  There is some realness, some truth.  I told someone, once, that if there wasn’t any truth in their writing, it wasn’t going to mean anything.  It wasn’t going to matter.  That’s a truth I forgot for awhile, with my own writing, but poetry… poetry is different.  With poetry, I want to be literal so no one is confused.  Or offended.  Or concerned.

Maybe I should ask everyone who knows me- personally- to never read my poetry.  But I don’t think that would work.  I think I’ll just have to live with people being confused, offended, and concerned.

So here- if you’re one of those aforementioned confused/offended/concerned people- is a PSA for you:

My poetry is fiction.
It is more fictional than my novels.
Please, do not take it as gospel, because it’s not.

And I’m saying this because after two and a half years, I’ve decided to release another poetry collection.  You’ll hear more about that later, but for now, just as a heads up (and to give you time to prepare yourself), knows that it’s bullshit.  Know that it’s just pretty words strung together to get a feeling out of my system, a jitter out of my bones, a voice out of my head.

It is all fiction… but at the same time, my poetry is the truest I’ll ever be with you.

… by the way… it’s called The Standard Equation of Love.

Until next.
B.

Dear Dave Casper…

If you follow me on Instagram, you might recall this photo from a couple weeks ago.

For those who don’t know, I work at a small, non-profit charity shop that supports different missions and ministries in my area.  We’re basically a thrift shop, only we don’t take clothing and we have cuter window displays. ;)  Some of our best customers are the volunteers who help keep the shop running, and I am no different.

I’d been looking for a desk for awhile, but with limited space and a pretty set idea of what I wanted, it hadn’t been easy pickings.  Then, two weeks ago, someone donated a desk and I bought it because it was perfect.  And yes, that might have something to do with the letters I found hidden inside a “secret” compartment.

21 letters that all begin with, “Dear Dave Casper.”  They’re fanmail for Dave Casper of the Oakland Raiders, and they were all written in 1977.  Unopened, I’m thinking they never made it to Dave, but how they ended up in that odd compartment- and who the desk originally belonged to- is still a mystery.  What’s not a mystery is who the original letter writers are.  Yeah… I tracked them down.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, or maybe it’s because I’m really sentimental (or both), but I love anything old that has meaning.  We accept used books where I work and I’ve found old letters, photographs, and recipes tucked in between pages, but with no contact information, or having no idea who the donator was, it’s impossible to reunite these treasures with their owners.  It’s also impossible- for me- to throw them away.  So I keep them.

I have a drawer full of memories and mementos that don’t belong to me and for the most part, I’ll never be able to find the people they do belong to.  But these letters to Dave Casper?  Those I can find a home for and already, I’ve gotten to speak with some of the original letter writers and have made arrangements to return their letters to them.

With this fanmail sleuthing going on, I started thinking about other letters I’d found tucked into the pages of books and thought, “Why can’t I find them too?”  And I did!  I’m not one for calling up strangers and saying, “Hi, I found a letter you wrote in 1977,” but everyone I’ve talked to has been so kind and they’ve gone on to tell me about themselves, and what was going on in their life when they wrote that letter.  As a writer, I live and breathe stories like this and it’s been such a treat to get to speak with these people.

I still have a few letters left, and what letters I can’t find a home for, I’d ideally like to pass onto Mr. Casper himself, as they were originally intended. (and by my count, he owes about 21 people an autograph)  And while I don’t believe that much in Fate, when I told my grandmother what I was doing, she made a comment that makes me think, well maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason I, out of anyone else, ended up with this desk.

No one else would do what you’re doing.

Maybe they wouldn’t.  Maybe someone else would never have found the compartment and with it, the letters.  Or maybe someone would have and thought, “Oh cool,” before tossing the letters, because why would someone keep them?  They’re valuable only to the people who wrote them, and to me- the girl who found them.  The girl who had this crazy idea of returning them to their original senders.  The girl who is absolutely amazed by the people she’s connecting with and the stories they have to tell.

So maybe I don’t believe in Fate, but I think I was meant to find those letters and send them home.  … if only to get over my fear of calling strangers on the phone. :)

Until next time,
B.

Taken by Chance Cover Reveal!

WelcomeToLagunaTides

An exclusive California island, a tumultuous senior year, and lots of sandy beaches.

Laguna Tides is a private island off the coast of Laguna Beach, California.  It’s where the rich and famous flock, along with their kids, who attend Laguna Tides Prep- home of a five-book, contemporary young adult series by Erica Cameron and Lani Woodland.  From Erica herself…

A couple of years ago, my good friend Lani Woodland came to me with ideas for two different novellas she wanted to co-author with me. By the time we’d plotted everything out, we’d created an entire world and it would take five full novels to tell the whole story. Over the course of 2015 and 2016, Lani and I will finally get the chance to introduce the island of Laguna Tides and take readers through the senior year of five of the boys who live there.

First up on May 5th, 2015, meet Dare Andrews and Chance Montgomery in Taken by Chance. *happy jig*

Now for the cover.  Drum roll, please!

TakenByChance

A single chance encounter can change your life.
Despite being the son of Hollywood’s hottest director, Dare Andrews has managed to steer clear of the paparazzi for seventeen years. But when his ex-girlfriend sells a tell-all interview to the tabloids, he’s suddenly hounded by fans and reporters alike. Dare is getting cynical fast, so he’s unprepared to meet a glass-half-full girl like Chance. And unprepared for the consequences after he helps her save face. Pretending to be the new guy in her life was easy enough when she was being dumped by her boyfriend, but the lie backfires.
What started as a random act of chivalry becomes something deeper as Dare and Chance find themselves trapped in their charade. The problem is that the more Dare gets to know Chance, the less fake their relationship feels. But secrets they both keep threaten their future, and with new storms overhead,  will Chance’s lessons in optimism be enough to help Dare find the silver lining?
Check out the book on Goodreads!  And don’t forget to check out Erica and Lani!