New Normal

Sometimes taking time away from a busy, hectic life can bring things into perspective in a way you wouldn’t have known unless you had left. Recently I moved to Colorado Springs from Chicago, IL. With that move comes a lot of packing, saying goodbye, and trying to figure out what your new life means in this new mountainous place. I think for me, there was equal parts excitement of the new adventure and then apprehension for choosing something so new.

My normal was flat terrain, massive cities, blues music, brutal winters, unforgiving summers, traffic like most wouldn’t believe, friends, family, and familiar haunts. My normal was comfortable, safe, fun, and supportive. My normal had late nights, good talks, lunch dates with nephews, and play dates with nieces. My normal knew every street, every shortcut, every bypass, and every detour. My normal knew most tasty stops, delicious dives, and places to avoid. I knew my normal and my normal knew me. There is great power in being known.

A friend of mine, after a change in her life, told me that she was getting back to the “new normal.” I said ‘good for her’ and never really landed on what that meant to her, or even what that could have meant for me.

Recently I traveled to New Zealand to be a part of my best friend’s wedding. The wedding was for Corbin Elliott. I’ve known Corbin since I was 15. We went to High School together, and senior year he moved back home to New Zealand. If you know my story, you know that I lived in New Zealand from 2013-2016. I told myself that after I moved back home to the U.S. in 2016, the next time I would be in NZ would be for Corbin’s wedding. A year and four months later, he was married. I have to say, sitting at the head table, listening to all the people bear witness to Rebecca and Corbin’s lives was a beautiful and hilarious thing. Also, if you knew Corbin, seeing him emote in this specific way on his wedding was quite unique and touching. I’ll never forget it.

This wedding was a gathering of most of my favorite people. We talked, laughed, and danced the night into morning. Many of these people hadn’t seen me in the time I was away and some pleaded with me to stay and never leave them. Coming back to NZ, which really is a second home to me, came with questions. Would I arrive and never want to leave? Would I start hanging out with my friends, remember the good times we had, and find it difficult to remove myself? Would this country seduce me all over again? I have to admit, at first, it looked like this might have been the case. Being back felt REALLY good. The scenery, the people, the food, hell…even the air smelled different. Yet, in the last days leading up to the wedding, I began to feel a change. The change was less bad and more of a peace.

When I moved to New Zealand, I had a moment in my first year on the top of a hill looking out at the countryside. The moment washed over me and gave me a feeling of peace. It was the moment I knew NZ was home. I’ll always have a home in Chicago and I’ll always have a home in NZ. Home is where you make a family, and as cliché as it sounds, home is where you decide to put your heart. While I was in NZ this past week, I told friends that I didn’t have that feeling in Colorado yet. I wasn’t complaining. I had only been in CO for a month and my friends said the same. Yet, in those days leading up to the wedding, the feeling of peace that I felt was clear. New Zealand was my home, but I have a new home now. I have a new normal now.

My new normal has new streets to find, new detours to learn, new restaurants to try, and new failures to experience. My new normal has brand new churches, jobs, friends, and relationships. My new normal has new traditions, new adventures, and new terrain. But, new normal also has family and I’m grateful for that. I think I’m starting to understand what my friend was talking about; Getting back to a new normal isn’t forgetting the past and moving on with yourself. New normal is about understanding the past, understanding that life changes, and accepting where you’re living, working, and making a life. It’s about embracing your current situation and saying, “This is me now, let’s move forward.”

I’ll always love New Zealand and I’ll always love Chicago, but Colorado is my new normal. The feeling of peace I had in NZ this week about Colorado was a step. I realized that I can’t be present here, and keep thinking/living in the past there. If I do, I defeat any progress I want to make. I found closure on my trip in a way I didn’t know that I needed. My trip was great, but it made me understand that I DO feel a sense of home in Colorado, and frankly, I was ready to go home.

Promises in the Dark

I haven’t done this in years. Before this blog flooded with people reading my posts on film and TV, almost no one read it. Leaves in the Pages was a personal journal of sorts. I didn’t have a following or hundreds of regular readers every day. I kind of said whatever I wanted, cause…I could, haha. Over the years, my writing style has changed, but something that I don’t do as much anymore is talk about my personal life. I’m not talking about the people I brag on like my super sisters Nicole and Robyn, or my incredible parents Sharon and Russ. I talk about them plenty. I mean MY personal life. I just felt like I had moved past that on this blog. Today, I’m indulging that younger, beginner blogger’s style and dipping into something that I feel lead to share. A rare internal vulnerability if you will. Continue reading “Promises in the Dark”

Josh Garrels: His life, his music, his Influence

MJM_TSIB_SA_NeverHaveIFound_Josh_FieldBW_900_by_SashaArutyunova

Josh Garrels needs to be known for not being known.

Humble, genuine, gifted. Josh Garrels has become known for these qualities through his attitude towards music, life, and God. Musical at the very young age of 3, Garrels started getting more serious about his music at 13. Starting a band, Garrels gradually honed his craft on the guitar and writing music. By the age of 22, Garrels was making lo-fi recordings in rooms and pumping out music on his schedule. Unimpressed by recording companies and the bureaucracy behind the music business, Garrels chose to self-record, mix, and produce his music without a record label or industry management. Keeping true to this style, every album he has released has been from the sweat of his brow. In Love & War & The Sea In Between, he and his wife hand labeled and sent out all copies of their music. His grassroots approach is radical. It’s not supposed to work, but it does. His fans love and appreciate his diversion from the traditional craft and they support it.

Continue reading “Josh Garrels: His life, his music, his Influence”

Already There

I had a transformative experience in my car the other day. As most of you know, I am on my way out to New Zealand, and this Monday at 2:15pm, I fly out to my new home.

Yesterday, I was in my car. I was driving back from an errand that I was running and the radio was on. I like the radio and I frequent many different stations. When I want news, I typically turn to NPR. When I want a great mix of songs, I turn to XRT 93.1. When I want some uplifting songs and I need some God in my life, and who doesn’t…I turn to 88.7 Air1.

Yesterday I needed to hear something uplifting, which I try to get daily because it feels so good. The song “Already There” by Casting Crowns was playing. Now, usually, I don’t listen to much Casting Crowns. Not sure why, but I don’t. As I listened to this new song by Casting Crowns, I began to feel something move in me. The chorus to this song is so powerful and so moving, and I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this way about a song.

When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You’re already there
You’re already there.
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You’re already there
You’re already there.

My life is drastically changing. There is PLENTY of excitement and joy for that. Yet, I can admit that I am scared. I am nervous. I have NO IDEA what my life is going to look like. The uncertainty is unnerving. The waiting is exhausting. Worry, doubt, fear, and anxiety flood my mind and I desperately seek for God. And God answered. Even if he answers in a song, he still answers. The words in this song overwhelmed me and rushed peace into my lungs.

God is already there.

This link is the artist explaining his song and the meaning behind the creation of it. It’s 1:30, Watch it to understand what I was talking about above: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W99gAQ_FRzY&t=2m35s

Here is the actual song:

The Chapter Begins, and it is Beautiful

Well after spending a significant amount of time in Michigan, I can confidently say that I am loving it here. I am glad that I am once again living with men I am comfortable calling my brothers. These past few days have been quite incredible. I am transitioning once again into living on my own…so to speak (living outside of my parents house). I am finding jobs to keep me busy while the long term work finalizes. We are also finding another apartment to live in and that is going very well.

It is a very specific, familiar feeling being back in Grand Rapids….like a warm blanket fending off a cold chill. Every street passed and smell taken in is a wave of nostalgia that had remained hidden to keep the pain at bay. Being away from my friends when I moved in 2008 was a painful experience. In order to take away some of the pain and enjoy my move back to Illinois, I had to separate nostalgia from friendship. It wasn’t Calvin College I missed, or even GR necessarily. The thing I missed most was my family that I had made in Michigan.

But now that I am back in GR, living here once again, I can’t help but fall in love with this city all over again. There is so much life, love, and happiness here that can’t be explained. I am not really too sure what it is that makes this place so different from where I grew up, but it is clear and it is true.

I will work very hard in the time that I am here, and I will also relish in every moment that I can before I eventually leave here for my journey to New Zealand. I am excited, even as I write this post, knowing that one day my dream…will become a reality. I have stepped into a brave new world here in Michigan, full of opportunity, joy, peace, and friendship. I cannot see anything bad or painful at the moment, and that is what I need right now. I experienced enough pain last semester…

If you are my friend, and you know me well, then I thank God for you and how you have influenced me. No matter where you are now, or what we have both been through, I will always pray for you and give thanks for the moment when we met, and you blessed my life.