Fight or Flight

When faced with confrontation, people tend to fall into one of two categories. They either run from it or they stay and fight.

I’m a runner.

I run from fights. I run from people. I run from lies. I run from any uncomfortable situation imaginable when given the chance.

I’m not here to say that either way is right or wrong. I think both reactions can be better for certain situations, but it’s a very rare instance that I’ll stay and fight when I have the chance to escape.

I’ve written lately about some of the struggles I’ve been facing, but I think a big part of my tiredness is just a sense of restlessness. A feeling of containment and loss of adventure. I don’t want to say it’s still a culture shock type of thing, because I’ve been back in the states for four and a half months, but I think it’s more of a “I’m back in this massive country and the sense of newness and exploration has disappeared.” I know that’s probably not a very healthy way of looking at life, but more than just wanting to see new places, it’s become a craving. It’s becoming this way to quench a thirst in my soul.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, maybe it’s perfect timing, or maybe it’s just because I have some friends who can relate to this feeling more than most, but I recently got offered a chance to go on a week-long trip. This family that I grew up with in Alaska offered to take me with them on a cruise that will make stops in three different countries next week.

Of course I accepted the offer. How could I not accept an offer like that? It’s one of the most selfless gifts I can remember being given in recent history. It gives me a chance to breathe, to relax, to emotionally and mentally recover from whatever I’ve been pushing myself through lately. Most importantly, it’ll give me quite a lot of down time without outside distractions to write and meditate and get back into my right mind.

Back to the fight vs flight conundrum. I feel like this cruise might be a bit of a way for me to escape and avoid some of the conflicts that have been building up or have already happened. If I’m being completely honest, I’m looking forward to the running away. I’m eager to escape from my reality for eight short days. I want a chance to block out all responsibility and accountability that seems to be consistently beating down my door. I want to get back to being fully me without any of the nonsense I’ve been bringing on myself lately.

Obviously, I know that running away for a week doesn’t fix the major problems. I know that running forever doesn’t fix anything in the long run. This is why I’ve stopped permanently escaping for the most part. I do face things and deal with problems now when absolutely necessary.

However, I wait. I breathe. I think. I recover. And then I deal.

Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland
Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland

listening to: Mat Kearney, Hushpuppies

A Bucket List

I’ve only written one bucket list previous to this one, but it was a simple thing written when I was 14 or 15, full of items like “kiss a boy” and “try alcohol for the first time”. There were a few serious wants listed as well, but I’ve long since lost the list. The following is a list of dreams, desires..things I truly hope to accomplish before my life ends.

  1. Visit at least one new country a year for the rest of my life. Visit it to experience the culture, the life of the people, and how different everything is from my own worldview. I want to be completely immersed in the way other people live.
  2. Get tattoos. Have at least the three that I want right now within the next ten years: the star to match the necklace my grandmother gave me when I turned twelve, “abenteuer” for my time in Germany, and a watercolor feather I’ve painted with the Hebrew word for freedom incorporated within.
  3. Meet my biological family, most specifically my mother, half-brother, and father. I know it won’t make me feel totally complete, but I know it’ll at least answer life-long questions and fill up a partial part of the hole left from all of the “who am I without that knowledge of my past” thoughts.
  4. Finish my book on adoption. I want to have my story out there. Writing is my best form of communication, so I find it extremely important to share this in hopes of reopening some sort of interaction with my biological mom. I also want to help people avoid some of the speed bumps I encountered with my own parents.
  5. Be officially published. It doesn’t have to be a massive project, but something with my name on it. Perhaps it’ll be an article in a newspaper or a magazine, or maybe it’ll be a novel. I just have this idea that one can’t really call themselves an author or writer until there is something published officially in their name. I know that’s a silly way to think, but it’s this thought that’s always been there.
  6. Have the full experience of being in a recording studio and have some sort of professional recording of my singing. The song doesn’t have to be shared with a single soul, but I want to have it for my own.
  7. Take a professional level cooking class involving making something completely from scratch, particularly pasta.
  8. Learn how to throw pottery on a wheel. I want to be able to have a set of dishes that I use regularly that I can look at and be proud of because I’ve made it with my own hands.
  9. Experience truly passionate love. Maybe not love in the proper sense, but have one of those relationships that is all-consuming passion. One of those passions that inspires through wonder and pain. A passion that the truly great poems and songs are all about.
  10. Find that one great love. Probably not the same as the passionate love, but a great love that withstands time, hardships, and all the emotional wreckage I tend to throw in the way.
  11. Learn to develop my own film. Similarly, learn to shoot photos on a classic old film camera. There’s just something captured in the film that never quite translates to digital.
  12. Get henna in India, drink vodka in Russia, make pasta in Italy, wander the moors in Scotland, research my biological last name in Ireland, go through the streets in Morocco, and drink tea in Turkey. Travel, travel, travel
  13. Set foot on every continent – even Antarctica
  14. Become fluent in German. I didn’t fully realize how much Germany would actually effect me until it was time to leave. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wish I could be back there right now.
  15. Write a novel. Write a fictional love story based on 2012-2014. There were so many life changes that need to be turned into a story.
  16. Own my own house. Something small and simple, but a place that is solely mine.
  17. Live nomadically for at least three years. Live without “stuff” and with every freedom possible. Live without certainty of what the next day will bring.
  18. Learn to fly planes. One of my favorite things about my dad is that he used to fly, and I’d love to follow in his footsteps on that account
  19. Learn to truly appreciate myself and accept all of my flaws. All of these self-conscious thoughts and actions need to stop or at least take a very extended vacation. I can’t really handle being with anyone else or part of any relationship until I get a grip on myself.
  20. Apply for the Jack Kerouac writer’s fellowship. I know that there are far more deserving and talented writers out there, but even applying would be a massive step in the right direction for me.
  21. Have a moment of clarity- a moment when I’m completely aware that something I’ve accomplished has actually been able to make a difference to someone else’s life. That’s the goal behind much of what I do, especially my writing, but I want to experience the realization I’ve done it.
Austin, Texas - February 2015
Austin, Texas – February 2015

Ten Years of Advice

I have this strange fascination with what I can only call “instagram poets*”. There are probably literally thousands of them out there now, but two of my favorites have been around for a while and will both be published authors soon. Imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that one of them decided to create a 30-day writing course.

I signed up right away. I’ve been whining and moping about this epic case of writer’s block I’ve been battling, so I figured this would be the push I needed to start getting over it. The two authors who created this course came up with writing prompts for each day and included other questions and quotes to mull over each day. It’s only been going on for three days as of today, but I think it’s already been really helpful if for no other reason than just delving deeper into my own thoughts and feelings.

The first day’s prompt has been my favorite so far: we were supposed to write a letter to a 10-years-younger version of ourselves. I’ve done a similar exercise before, but you always get something different out of something like this. In an attempt to get my words out of myself, I’ve decided to publish the responses to the prompts I really enjoyed through this blog, starting with a letter to the fifteen-year-old me:

“I know you’re stubborn and aren’t really fond of anybody giving you advice, so I won’t. I won’t warn you about the decisions and choices you’re bound to make because you’ll refuse to listen and you need to learn for yourself.

You’ve got so much ahead of you. You’ve yet to really get to know the friends that will become your tribe of people- the family you’ve dreamed of for years. You’ve got adventures headed your way. In fact, this summer, you’ll fly to Germany and experience your first real love. No, not some boy, but a place and culture that you fit into so well, it’s almost as if you should have been born there.

You’re also going to experience more pain than I can express. I know it would be more practical to tell you to try and avoid making the decisions and mistakes I’ve made, but they’ll be what makes you great. Being an overcomer will be your greatest quality- trust me when I tell you you’ll make it through, even in the darkest of moments still yet to come.

I know you are incredibly boy-crazy right now, but don’t worry about it so much. I’m not going to lie and tell you that the perfect guy will come along any time soon, because I’m not even sure I’ve encountered that magical person yet. Just don’t get so desperate to finally get that boyfriend and first kiss that you settle. You’ll eventually find somebody in a few years, but don’t take the friendship side of it for granted. Be a better communicator. If you don’t, you’ll lose years and years with someone who could be one of your best friends.

Speaking of communication, work on that with your family as well. Spend as much time as humanly possible getting stories from your grandmothers. They’ve lived such interesting lives and are incredibly strong in their own rights. However, age will inevitably catch up to them and their memories are stories will be lost forever if you aren’t careful. Eventually this will also happen to your parents, so soak up time and memories with them instead of avoiding them every second of every day.

College is going to be a weird experience for you. You won’t finish or be very traditional about it, but don’t worry about what that says about your character or intelligence. You’re much smarter than you give yourself credit, you just haven’t found the correct outlet for your creativity yet.

Writing is going to really help you find clarity when your life takes a nosedive. Trust your friends because they will turn out to be completely loving and loyal. Don’t lose your faith in humanity even when some guys down the road treat you without a speck of respect. Hold on to your love for the world and helping others.

When your gut screams that something isn’t quite right, follow the gut feeling. You might still have that pride that’s unwilling to let anyone see you’ve made a bad decision, but you have to let go of that. That pride will be your downfall. That pride will drive you straight to the pits of hell. Don’t let your pride define your decisions”

Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland (July 2014)
Lago di Lugano- Paridiso, Lugano, Switzerland (July 2014)

listening to: Portugal. The Man.

*poets mentioned in the beginning: Tyler Knott Gregson and Christopher Poindexter

A Rising Light

I wrote a few weeks ago about the emerging underground culture in the city I’m in at the moment. I continuously get more and more excited about being thrown into the middle of what’s going on, and I’m not sure if I’m going to want to leave it anytime soon.

See, I’ve always wanted to live in a place where creativity is abundant and has a strong support from the community. When I lived in Arkansas, I was surrounded by people who were involved in music and intertwined with small local businesses. It was enthralling. I saw all of these people fired up and supporting each other in creative ventures. It was a new kind of support system to me.

One of the main reasons I dreaded moving back to East Texas was it was almost the complete opposite to the atmosphere of where I lived in Arkansas. There is a ton of money in this area of the country, but people are geared much more toward big business and appearing as “polished” and put together as possible. There wasn’t much transparency in the people that I knew or the places I spent my time. To be quite frank, it’s exhausting to live life like that, and I feared that moving back to this town would slowly kill the openness and creative drive I had been discovering in myself.

Coming back to this area, I only had a few friends. There are three guys in particular who I’ve known since my early teen years who have always been like family to me. Most of my extra time when I’m in town is always spent with them. They haven’t spent much time outside of East Texas, so they’ve built up a large network of friends and acquaintances. Having a lot of free time spent with them in the past few months means that they’ve introduced me into this network, and for that, I owe them so much.

The people that I’ve met since the end of October are the types of people I’ve always wanted to be involved with growing the culture of Tyler. They are passionate, incredibly talented, and most importantly, transparent with their lives. They are genuinely interested in helping others and being there for their friends. The support I’ve seen them give each other in the short amount of time I’ve been here is so surprising because it’s a selfless kind of support. They want to see each other succeed more than anything, and the joy that crosses their faces when there is a success in the community is brilliant.

Most of all, the atmosphere surrounding all of the people I’ve gotten to know is a living and thriving one. It’s exciting and raw and real and fascinating. This isn’t the dead Tyler I left in 2007. It now has electricity pulsing through the heart of it, and this light of this new community will continue to burn brighter and brighter.

Frankfurt, Germany - September 2014
Frankfurt, Germany – September 2014

listening to: The Kooks

Learning Confidence

“It is the bright shine of all the endured sorrow that will make us glow” –Tyler Knott Gregson

Confidence is not something that I’ve ever had in abundance. It’s not even something I’ve had a decent amount of. I suppose part of that is my personality and wanting to be in the background more than the forefront of anything important, but it has been a deeply seeded part of me for as long as I can remember.

I tend to read into things far more than I probably should, but I trace a lot of my actions and life decisions back to my lack of confidence on a regular basis. I’ve never thought that I was truly smart enough, pretty enough, worth enough, etc. for some of the things I wanted to do with my life. So I settled. I settled in my relationships, my job choices, and in probably more things that I’m even aware of. The problem with settling is that your soul senses that something isn’t quite right. This leads to unhappiness and uneasiness, which then tends to feed into the lack of confidence again, and the cycle continues.

The funny thing is, the last time I told someone that I have very low self-confidence, they didn’t believe me. They said that I seemed very confident, and I think I laughed at that. I’ve always been a second-guesser, someone who always worried that the decision made was the wrong one. I still overthink practically every decision I make, but I’m trying to take more leaps of faith in my choices. Perhaps it’s this attempt to dive headfirst into decisions that gives me that false air of confidence. Or maybe that attitude is slowly transforming me into a more confident person without me really realizing it.

It’s not that I don’t want to be confident. I want to be confident in who I am and what I’m doing more than anything else in the world. It’s just the struggle between wanting to be a certain way and actually being that way. Just as in everything else though, there has to be a desire for change before that change can actually happen. Like I’ve said before, I don’t really do the “New Years resolution” thing, but I am trying to make it a life goal to build my confidence. I’ve been taking the struggles I’ve worked through and am trying to turn them into something positive. The feedback I’ve gotten back on all of that has probably been the key factor in building whatever kind of confidence I do have at the moment.

I know now that I do have something worth offering and I want to do everything possible to try and share that more and more. I’ve got my life story and while parts of it are incredibly painful, learning to embrace all of the dark and ugliness is what makes it all so beautiful. Like I’ve told everybody I’ve encountered lately, if reliving even part of that pain needs to happen in order to help others through their struggles, it’s more than worth it. Perhaps the confidence will appear as an accompaniment to the peace I feel every time I know someone has been able to relate to my story.

Niederrad, Germany- October 2014
Niederrad, Germany- October 2014

listening to: Damien Rice, Bastille