girl from the north country

Be soft.

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

– Kurt Vonnegut

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On old friends.

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There’s something about old friends. Like, the kind of old that goes back to second grade. Or at least seventh. These are the kinds of souls that are woven together with yours, that no matter how long it goes between chats and coffee dates and sleepovers, you will always be able to pick up right where you left off. These friendships don’t take explanation. You don’t have to describe your past to them because they are your past; they’re your family. The deepness of these friendships continues to astound me. There’s something so beautiful about someone who can see the whole arc of your journey thus far, someone who saw you in your most awkward stage and didn’t laugh or leave, someone who you had blow-out fights with yet stuck by your side, someone who walked with you through all the drama and pain and heartache of middle and high school and who didn’t desert you, but stayed long enough to be part of your grown-up life too. I love being that friend and I love having those friends. They touch my heart in a way nothing else does, and I love this knowledge deep in my heart that, if we’ve come this far and seen each other through so much crap, we’re going to stay together always. These are forever friends, friends that go to the deepest part of my heart.

But want to know what else I love? When new friends, the ones you’ve just had for a couple years, start becoming old friends. It’s that shift from college friends to forever friends, those few who, even if they move far away or get married and do different things, will always be in your life, will always be your inner circle.

It’s these old friends, these kindred spirits, that I hold onto when life is uncertain or I feel a little lost. Through seasons of change and shifting they listen and give wisdom, comfort, commiseration. They understand me to my very core, no matter how different we are on the outside. And let me tell you, that is such a sweet thing to have.

When I am old.

On a day like today when, instead of April showers we have snow flurries, and it is all too easy for our spirits to plummet, it’s best to lighten the mood.

So I decided today was the perfect day to share a poem I happen to love, not for its sophistication or deeper meanings, but just because it brings a smile, especially when read aloud by Helena Bonham Carter. Such a charming bit of writing. It also perfectly reflects how I want to be when I am an old lady. Is it weird that I already want to belong to the Red Hat Society? Oh well.

Spring, come quickly.

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I suppose we can all relate a bit, can’t we? Ha.

I think everyone in Minnesota is tired of this tease and ready for the warm breath of spring. I saw this post on Louisa and Christian’s website yesterday, and I couldn’t help but share it. If you haven’t seen their lovely photo project, onethirtyfive, you should definitely check it out. You can spend hours getting lost in those words and photos. They’re all so simple, but find a way to speak to my heart so profoundly.

On striped sweaters, April showers and new life.

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I love how each month feels like a new beginning. In reality, the first day of a month is just another day, simply following the previous like any other. But it’s funny how starting over at one can give you just the boost you need.

March was a hard month. It seemed that nothing was going quite right for me, and it seemed like a lot of other people felt that way too. I must say, I’m glad it’s over. Part of it was the weather, how we’d have one beautiful day, which was inevitably followed by a crazy snowstorm. That certainly wears on the spirits. But life also just hit me hard this month. I had to face things I wasn’t ready for. I spent the whole month trying to catch my breath — life felt like somebody had punched me in the gut and run away, and it was taking all that was within me to concentrate on sucking in a full breath, to just hit my normal rhythm.

But I’m starting to get back into that rhythm, to hit my stride again. So April, for me, is about drawing in deep breaths. It’s about taking stock of what I know and have learned, reminding myself that a little hard stretch doesn’t have to define a year or even a month or a day, but I can just hold onto the lessons learned and move on, leaving the rest behind. It’s about new life, the way Aprils always are. It’s about remembering that the rain has to come for the flowers to grow, and when the grass turns green and the lilacs bloom, it’s all totally worth it. It’s about showing and receiving grace, about living as one who is free. It’s about learning to communicate and remembering to be brave and bold. It’s about putting on your favorite striped sweater and getting on with your day.

 

Print by March Johns.

Being vulnerable.

Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be threatening. Just have the courage to be sincere, open and honest. This opens the door to deeper communication all around. It creates self-empowerment and the kind of connections with others we all want in life. Speaking from the heart frees us from the secrets that burden us. These secrets are what make us sick or fearful. Speaking truth helps you get clarity on your real heart directives.

– Sara Paddison

Book Club: I Knew You’d Be Lovely

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I recently read the most beautiful collection of short stories by Alethea Black called I Knew You’d Be Lovely. It was such an assortment of characters and situations and I just loved it. For a while I couldn’t figure out what it was that I liked so much about these stories, besides the beautiful writing, but about halfway through I realized what it was: each story, no matter how different, gave this lovely view of sadness or sorrow and hope. Your heart wrenched for these people, but somehow you knew things were working out they way they needed to, that despite everything, there was yet hope.

I never liked short stories because of the way you just barely connect with a character before the story ends and they leave you. I hated the open endings, not knowing how things turn out, if there was a happy ending. The not knowing kills me.

But recently, through this book, I learned to like, maybe even love, short stories. They give this beautiful, intimate glimpse at a character’s life. You get just involved enough to care, to root for them, to want things to turn out right, but without much long-term resolution. It’s nice to connect with these people, even if just for a moment.

I’m realizing that’s kind of how life is. You meet people, learn to care for them, root for them, want things to turn out right, but you have no idea how the story will end, or, more so, when your part in the story will end. And so often, it does end. And it kills you and hurts like hell and you just have to move forward and hope against hope that things will work out in the best way.

The part that gets me, in short stories and in life, is that you never know how much time you will get with any one character. Sometimes you just don’t get enough time. Things feel like they were stopped short, ended too soon. And you can’t do anything about it. So you just have to hope that there’s a reason, that things are better this way. Even if it feels like it might kill you.

 

Photo by Joanna Lemanska via Modern Hepburn.

You will be stupid.

You will be stupid. You will worry your parents as I worried mine. You will question your own choices. You will question your relationships, your jobs, your friends, where you live, what you studied in college — that you went to college at all — and the thing I want to say is: That is totally ok. That is totally normal. If that happens, you’re doing it right.

– Ira Glass

Paperman

Joanna just posted this video on her blog, and it was too charming not to share with all of you. It’s an Oscar-nominated animated short and it is just so sweet. With Valentine’s Day only a week away, it’s also the perfect little love story to set your heart a-flutter. Enjoy!

On New Adventures.

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Sometimes life moves so slowly, inching along, and you feel like you can’t move forward no matter how hard you try — like you’re stuck in a fog and you’re not sure what your next step should be. And then one day, when you least expect it, the sun bursts through the clouds and suddenly everything is clear, your path is before you. It turns out all of that muddled, over-thought, anxiety-ridden period in your life was just a time of patience and waiting for the thing that you are most meant to do.

Last week was a big one in my life for several reasons, not least of which because of my new position with Thirty Two Magazine. Thirty Two is a recent start-up out of Minneapolis; a quarterly print magazine, it is “Minnesota’s forward-looking culture and ideas magazine with a literary edge.” This beautiful publication basically embodies the kind of journalism I’m currently interested in, and I’m so pleased to join the editorial team as a publishing assistant. I met with Katie, the founder and editor, last week and she offered me the position, just days after I applied (this stands in stark contrast to the many, many applications I’ve sent out with absolutely no response). I started this week and I am so excited for what this opportunity has in store for me. It’s just a part-time gig for now, so I’m still working over at Dunn Bros, but I see huge potential in this magazine and I can’t wait to see what’s in store. Everything just fell into place with this position, and it feels like it is absolutely, exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. It was so worth the many months of waiting to find this opportunity.

So, you should all go out and buy a copy (you can find the stocklist here) and see what it is I will be contributing to. Some of my work will be editorial, and some will be on the marketing and distribution side, all of which I’m very excited to do.

A bit more about Thirty Two:

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