The Bellowing of my Soul

I want so badly to write something cohesive. But I have no cohesion to offer you, dear reader. I have only my scattered thoughts and emotions.

Perhaps we’ll talk about my writing. That’s something I haven’t had the chance to discuss in so long. But maybe it only feels long to me.

I want to write. I was struck with inspiration this morning as I recounted my next story. I could feel the impact of it. I love these characters. I love what they represent. I love their stories.

This is normally the point in the year when I would be planning my next story. NaNoWriMo will soon be upon us.

…but I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. For the first time in six years, I won’t have a new manuscript come December. It doesn’t feel right.

But even if I were to write, what would it come to? I’m not ready for this new story I’m developing. So, would I write a charming romance? I have no romance left in me. I have been drained of my feelings.

I would likely write a cynical piece exploring political themes and social practices. Potentially the next great dystopian hit? Unlikely.

So I sit here. Not writing. Not even blogging, because I have found myself incapable of finishing the thirty drafts sitting patiently for their moment in the sun. So many ideas, simply…blocked.

Am I stuck?

No.

Am I?

I keep gathering ideas. But I can’t seem to write them.

What did I do today?

I played guitar for the first time in months. As quaint as the ukulele is, I do prefer the guitar. The robust sound permeated my room and gave me the freedom to sing, to yell, to scream.

Perhaps I scream when I play. If the music is lively enough to cover my voice, I increase my tones until every part of me has joined in the making of music, of this song. I can’t imagine what it sounds like outside of my room. But within my room, it is me in the purest form. Playing something meaningful. Singing, not to sound beautiful, but to feel. To say something. Saying something may come with a voice crack, or the scraping of my vocal range. But I don’t care. It’s me, and that’s all that matters.

I wish I could take my guitar back to school with me. There is no place to put it, and it is unprotected in its soft case. And I’m sure no one within one hundred yards would appreciate it.

But how I wish I could be myself.

I only shine through briefly through the ukulele. The light strumming you hear, the gentle tone of my voice. That is a piece of me.

But I am passionate, deep, feeling, everything reaching down within my soul. Guitar reflects that.

I miss writing. I miss pouring myself and my experiences out onto a page under the guise of fictional characters. I miss my Becker and all of his friends. I miss crafting scenes. I miss being who I was. Who I am.

And I wish for the day that I can just be me, and those who would choose to walk alongside me in life would find me that way.

I’ll be the girl bellowing in her dorm room, pouring everything she is into the song she sings.

I apologize if it sounds obnoxious.

But it is who I am.

And if it wasn’t midnight right now, I would pull out my guitar and be.

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Exhaustive

For over a month, with the exception of one day, I have showered at 6:45 in the morning. Without fail, the water has woken me up and gotten me ready to face my day of studying, homework, and classes.

Until today.

Until this morning, when the water did nothing to affect my drooping eyes.

So here I am. Tired. More tired than I usually am.

Somehow thinking that this is an appropriate time to write a blog post.

College is hard, guys. As I told my friend the other day…it’s like preschool, because naps.

But it’s not like preschool, because it brings you to the breaking point in literally 0.06 seconds.

I’ve just been existing in my little disciplined world, desperately searching for the balance between work and fun. If such a balance exists. But it must exist, I simply haven’t found it yet.

No, instead I am waffling back and forth between being an excellent, studious student who studies…and being creative.

For a month, I stifled my creative side. I didn’t let it have a peep, except for a few moments playing an instrument. As it is, most of my creative ventures have been squashed in coming to college. I’m too busy to write a book. The conditions are too restraining to try and cook. I’m not supposed to read for fun (even if I had time).

Perhaps it was natural, then, that my creative side burst through like a ninja kicking through a boarded up doorway of a condemned house. And then took over everything, for an entire weekend. And continues to have a considerable hold on me.

want to be creative. But I want to do well in school, and suddenly, I have three different concepts clamoring for my attention: success in school, success in project, and success in relationships.

Oh, and success in sleep.

Sweet…sweet sleep.

I need to begin my work for the day so I have cause and justification for my afternoon nap.

Feelings

Hello. My name is Lexi, and I am a logical person.

I like to characterize my feelings as at a constant conflict with my mind. That is to say, it is rare that my feelings and mind will coincide.

Often, my nonsensical feelings are beaten down by the complete sense of my brain.

Perhaps that is why I do not understand how to approach feelings.

Today, I had to face feelings. It is a very long story with many personal details which I do not prefer to indulge in. Regardless, it was a prolonged meeting that had to happen eventually: and I thank God that it happened in a manner that left both parties as unscathed as possible.

As I walked back to my dormitory, I wasn’t thinking very much. That is to say, the emotional burden of five years that I had finally verbalized had yet to float to the forefront of my mind. It arrived when I reached my room, and I sat on my bed, trying not to cry.

I’m unsure why I felt the need to cry. In all accounts, the conversation went surprisingly well.

See, there I am. Being logical again.

Denying myself the emotion that I felt.

What did I feel?

Incompetent. Slimy. Empty.

I do not know how to deal with these emotions.

So my brain logically works through what happened, removing the aspects of humanity and depth. My brain sorts the entire ordeal and gives me a verdict.

But I still felt like crying.

So what am I left to do?

How do emotions work? As a teenage girl, am I expected to move from potential romantic interest to potential romantic interest in sheer moments? What constitutes a sign? Are my peers correct, that dating without the intention of marrying is okay?

What do I do if I like a guy and I can’t make sense of the long term? Do I accept the short term? What will I gain from that relationship that cannot be gleaned from a friendship?

HOW DOES ONE EVEN BEGIN TO INTERACT WITH HUMAN BEINGS OF THE OPPOSITE GENDER WITH WHICH ONE HAS NO PRIOR CONNECTION?

I don’t know.

I know my philosophies on dating are unproven. Quite unproven, as I’ve never dated at any point in my life. But logically…logically…they should be sound.

Also worth noting is my cowardice. I choose what is safe. Shawn Hunter of Boy Meets World has what is referred to as reckless spontaneity.

I have what is referred to as Cory “The Cory” Matthews. You meet a person when you’re both in strollers, you know each other unbelievably well, you fall in love, and you end up together.

Except I don’t still know any stroller buddies.

I don’t have any long-time friends, really.

So what am I to do?

Take risks?

I’d really rather not.

But perhaps that’s what I’ll have to do. Maybe, just maybe, this college experience will stretch me beyond the classroom. Maybe I’ll learn to juggle both my disciplined approach to schoolwork and friends.

Perhaps someone will teach me how to be fun.

Or maybe I’ll just stay in my room and not interact with people.

Because honestly, that seems like a solid option, too.

People have to be worth it, though.

Don’t they? I can’t honestly claim to be a writer and love characters if I cannot honestly love the people that God made.

So I guess I’m off on an adventure.

Real peril. Things I must do. Things I cannot do. Choices I have to make. Consequences I must face.

Bring it on, feelings.

(Just…take it slow for me, okay?)

Rantings of a Tormented Mind

I’m not a fun person.

It’s true, I’m not.

Shocking, I know.

I call myself a “Mom Friend” for a reason. I have a tendency to nag and take on an overly mature standpoint in most situations. There are good points of this too: I remember to bring snacks, and I ask people about themselves and what makes them who they are.

But honestly…I’m a pretty boring person.

I hate that about myself.

I can’t tell jokes in person. Even if the delivery makes sense in my head, nobody laughs. I can write amusing things, when I have the opportunity to edit and refine them. But you can’t refine live conversations.

I don’t know how to flirt. Lots of girls can just casually throw themselves at guys and come off as cute. As a human being, I am not socially capable of just being…girly. I end up being mom-like again.

Even if I was able to “flirt”, as the whippersnappers call it, I’d have no idea what to do with any attention directed back at me. I’m nervous around guys, even though I get along with them much better than girls. I read into anything that happens, and respond to anything immature, teasing, or flirtatious with a few fantastic options: a) give them a weird look, b) outright reject it, or c) awkwardly attempt to subtlety reciprocate it but it doesn’t end correctly?

Generally, I’m just a stick-in-the-mud. I’m too busy thinking about the consequences of fun to actually engage in it. I’d never be caught in a compromising position, no matter how innocent.

I honestly don’t know what kind of a person I am. I don’t know where acting ends and I begin.

I’m the kind of person who will stay holed up in her room to work on a project: be it homework, writing, or planning of some sort. I don’t like to fail. I don’t like to mess up. I don’t like teasing or being made a fool of. I torment myself when I make mistakes. I like to stay on top of things, to think on things instead of explore…

When you add it all up, it makes a pretty boring person.

It makes me wonder how I have any friends at all.

It makes me wonder how long my friendships will last.

I used to think people were just intimidated by me. Now I think they look at me…and it isn’t that they’re afraid. Instead, they’re filled with disinterest.

I’m no good at talking about what I’m good at. If I talk about writing, I sound like I’m bragging. If I talk about Robotics, I sound like I’m talking myself down.

I don’t know how to tell people that no, I don’t want to go on a walk. No, I don’t want to go to the gym. No. I just want to stay in my room or stay in a centralized location and have a good talk or play a game of cards or just make a genuine connection with another human being.

I’m too afraid that no one will want to spend time with me if I don’t compromise.

So I compromise. I go on walks. I put socializing in front of homework in hopes for some good memories.

Because I hate to be alone. I hate sitting in the new dining hall, trying to smile enough that I don’t look angry…but of course, not so much that I look crazy and happy for no reason. Trying not to search for familiar faces. Trying not to feel left out when people sit away from me. Trying to not feel like…I don’t deserve friends.

I’m no good at being friends. I don’t like to do anything fun. I don’t know how to empathize when things go wrong.

This is just a jumbled mess of thoughts because that’s what I am right now. A jumbled mess of thoughts. A tortured mess because I feel terrible about myself and my sensible brain is doing its logical thing to remind me that yes, I am a terrible person. A boring person. I have no one to talk to.

Except my cousin, but he has his own homework to attend to.

What is wrong with me? Do I compromise? I’m sorry that I don’t like dirty jokes or hints of them. I’m sorry that I’m uncomfortable with profanity. I’m sorry that I don’t like going on walks. I’m sorry that my natural reaction is to remove myself from those situations.

I was really excited for college for friends. I honestly was. So far, I haven’t been doing too swell. I don’t have anything in common with people here.

What made me think I could fit in here?

I keep telling myself that once people understand what kind of a person I am…the good qualities that I have…I’ll finally have friends.

But is that what I want? People who see what I’m capable and evaluate me on that? “Hey, she’s doing really well in this class, we should hang out.”

That is if I do really well in my classes.

I’m a cyber schooler. I’m not used to this…live classroom setting. I’m used to chat boxes and knowing people for their intellectual prowess instead of their bodies. I’m used to rolling out of bed and swiveling on my chair, not hiking between buildings.

I’m starting to feel as if I ran away from my hometown. I ran because I didn’t like what was facing me there, so I thought if I moved far, far away and experienced something new, everything would change.

Well, here I am.

Still bad at making friends. Still bad at making connections. Still without people who I genuinely connect with.

Still a perfectionist. Still a “freak about grades”. Still driven by performance.

I’m pretty sure there are cheaper ways to figure out that you’re a boring person and that life just isn’t going to be like you want it to.

I wish grades were enough for me.

I wish I didn’t look around at all the couples around me and hate how unwanted I am.

I wish I didn’t envy the friends the girls around me have made in only a week’s time.

I wish I was content with myself. Truly as independent as I seem.

Because honestly, guys? I’m not. I’m just a boring ole stick-in-the-mud dork who lives in her imagination and analysis and will always remember to bring you a water bottle and a snack, just in case.

The Hike

First couple of days of college have been…interesting. Of course, it’s still Welcome Week, so I haven’t started any actual schoolwork. (Except for combing through the online school module for syllabuses and consequently pre-stressing myself out.)

Yesterday, they decided to have us do challenge courses. As a general rule, I tend to hate challenges courses with everything that is within me. To make matters worse, actually getting to the challenge courses required a bus ride and a hike.

I don’t mean a “walking up the hill” hike. I mean a hike. I didn’t realize how long or how steep it was, and was pretty much out of commission before I even got there.

Once I arrived, we had a little warm-up to the actual course part. The getting-to-know-you games included awkward elevator encounters, dinosaurs, and pool noodles.

Then we got to the low ropes course.

They split us into two groups and had each team start at either end. We would eventually have to cross paths while trying to balance on wires. If anyone fell, everyone started over.

I began having flashbacks of challenge courses past. Dangling from a wall for the third time, bruised and scraped. Ridicule from inability to balance on a log. Repeatedly army crawling through the dirt.

I did not want to go.

But I did. And you know what? I lived to tell about it.

Granted, I didn’t make it the entire way. But I successfully navigated across a swinging log (while desperately clutching people’s hands), across a wire (while desperately clutching people’s hands), and across a set of twisting blocks (while desperately clinging to a rope).

I’d say it was a pretty successful day.

…except for tripping down a steep gravel incline and sliding like a rock star across a stage with his guitar.

Still don’t know what I tripped on.

I’ve just been making great first impressions.

Like yesterday, when I greeted someone I passed along the walkway.

“Hi, how are you?”

“I’m good, how are you?”

“I’m alright, how are you?”

Steve-Carell-Facepalm

I’ve also followed the wrong group (almost into a building), sat awkwardly by myself in a booth waiting for something that I didn’t know anything about to start, and been late for a class.

I’m hoping all the awkward is happening now so it will be a rare occurrence later.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll write again when I get a spare moment.

…I assume that will be in four years.

True Worship

This summer, the youth at my church decided that we wanted to do worship. So far, we’ve sung and played on two Sundays. We’ll have one more before I leave for college.

As we’ve been preparing and practicing, we’ve noticed a lot of repetition in modern worship music. So much so that we’ve felt the need to supplement additional melody or musical changes.

After all, repeating You make beautiful things with minor variation can only do so much. Now, I don’t mean to say that repetition can’t be beneficial in worship. In fact, among our group, I was one who didn’t always find that monotonous.

Regardless, this has brought up within me questions of true worship. Do I truly worship God when I sing to Him? I was recently at camp again, and I was surprised to feel…almost nothing. I had memorized the songs, and I sang them. I knew my voice sounded pretty. I knew that the combination of the voices I could hear sounded even more beautiful in my ears. But I felt…nothing.

Then I heard something. A shout. At first, I thought someone was injured, and I waited a moment for a counselor to escort a camper to the nurse. Instead, I heard another shout. A cry. A yell.

One of the senior high campers that week was struggling, though I don’t know whether it was a mental or physical handicap. Regardless, I listened to him shout out to the living God. No shame. Nothing holding him back.

I thought to myself, In God’s ears, those shouts are probably more beautiful than my singing.

To us mortals, the boy was disruptive. It’s hard to keep track of the beauty of our own voices and music when someone’s heartfelt cries are echoing.

I am in no position to judge hearts. But I do wonder, because I wonder it of myself…

How often are our arms raised out of a genuine inability to keep them down, because the living God must be praised? Or are we raising them because others are raising them? Because the bridge of this song sounds powerful? Out of habit?

For those who are comfortable in their own voices, do we sing well because we want to bring glory to our God? Or because we like the sound of our voices among the others?

For those who are uncomfortable, do we sing loudly with no one to impress? Or do we keep ourselves quiet?

True worship is not singing. It doesn’t require a guitar. Music is powerful, and true worship can be experienced through music. But I think true worship would be to mean everything you sing to your Father; and then living it out because of your love for Him.

That’s my new goal for myself: just like love isn’t about feelings, worship shouldn’t be about feelings. Even when I feel nothing, I need to remember what I’ve declared to my God and act on it.

Join me?

Published…Again.

I know, I can hardly believe it either. I published another book.

Wow.

Incredible.

Unbelievable.

What will I do next.

See, that’s the thing: I have no idea.

I’m off to college, guys. I have about eleven days until move-in and counting. I’m freaking out. My bedroom looks like a warzone of personal belongings. My heart is just about as cluttered. I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up with the workload. I’m going to miss my parents. I’m wondering who’s going to give me hugs to remind me I’m loved, since I won’t have any family nearby and I tend to be (cough cough) intimidating.

…this post is supposed to be about my book, isn’t it.

Yeah. So.

It’s amazing.

It’s heart-wrenching.

It will punch you in the feels.

Repeatedly.

And you’ll cry.

Why should you put yourself through that? Because I gotta pay for college somehow (you know, the thing I’m freaking out about), and books aren’t a half-bad way of doing that.

Except for the fact that, um, I get less than three dollars per book, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, they’re good. (I’m not talking about those black-and-white ones, I’m talking about the yellow ones.) They’re funny and meaningful and insightful and worth your time. Because you’ll connect with the characters, just like my readers have.

Swoop is good. I cried. My editor teared up a little.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, college.

I don’t know when I’ll write another book. I doubt I’ll have a few extra hours the month before finals to type up a New York Times Best Seller (ha, ha): not that I have any ideas for one right now.

So, what will you do in the mean time? If I’m not writing anymore? (Oh, I’ll be writing. Papers. Lots and lots…and lots of papers.)

You can go buy my books. The yellow ones. SoarSteadySwoop. In that order. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder at my obsession with titles starting with the letter ‘S’. It’ll be a great time.

…so that’s www.amazon.com/good-life-decision.

But wait! There’s more!

I’m the author of these books. So, if you don’t take my word for how good they are, I don’t blame you. I probably wouldn’t, in your shoes. But a dear reader has taken the time to give a review for each of those yellow books: so trust what that says.

In other news, it is midnight. I am half-asleep and think it in my best interest to head to bed before this can become anymore…fun.

cap

Just kidding! Now I’ve gone and thrown in a Captain America reference!

(Full Disclosure: I likely have not seen the film this GIF originates from and have no idea of the context. So be it.)

I’m Not a Superhero

“Captain Lexitronics!” the police chief’s voice warbled through the telephone. “We need you!”

I clutched the receiver. “Is it the giant monkeys again?”

“Worse,” the police chief choked out. “The flying pigs. We’re dropping like flies out here, and we’re all out of pearls, Captain. We need you to save us.”

In a flash, I donned my supersuit and threw a leg over my tricked-out, refurbished Garelli. The engine revved, and we sped through the tunnel into the outside world. I squinted at the sun, desperate to weave through the city blocks to the heart of town. The echos of oinkaw, oinkaw, rang in my ears.

There was little time.

My bike and I pulled over to a dramatic stop near a local vegetable cart. The owner had been cowering beneath his tomato crop, but his face brightened at the sight of my silvery suit.

“Captain Lexitronics is here!” he shouted. “We’re saved!”

A malicious flying pig snarled at the outburst, beginning to dive towards me. Desperate to salvage the produce stand, I dove across the street.

Oinkaw!” the flying pig shrieked at its miscalculation, and instead swatted my Garelli with a demolishing twitch of its curly pink tail.

Well, that’s just great. What’s another weekend in the shop with my boy, I grumbled to myself.

“Captain Lexitronics, please!” a voice clamoured from a distance down the lane. “Save us!”

I shook myself, rising from my crouch and staring down the sizable swine. It sniffed its slimy muzzle at me.

“Big mistake, you big pig,” I narrowed my eyes. “I hope you like bacon.”

The electricity shot through my fingers, zapping the flapping boar between the eyes. An eternity seemed to pass as all my energy drained, as the villain transformed into pork with a side of wings.

The victorious stench of bacon permeated the air, sending the other antagonists screeching to their mysterious nests with the fading cries of oinkaw.

“You saved us!” the people cried.

“How can we ever repay you?” the police chief asked.

I laughed weakly, leaning against a shop post for support. “Would a vacation be too much to ask?”

Captain Lexitronics did get her vacation. She took her Garelli motorcycle to her headquarters, and spent weeks reassembling it. In her down time, she experimented with her powers on her own terms, attempting to strike a balance between use and overuse. She also dabbled briefly into writing her own memoirs.

Midway through her manuscript, she received another call from the police chief. He assured her that she wasn’t being called back to work…exactly. They were honoring her retirement…mostly.

But would she mind so terribly, coming into town to educate some students on electricity, electronics, and the makings of being a hero?

Who was the Captain to turn down such a simple request? She was more than capable. Granted, she wasn’t really interested in the idea. But if she was capable of giving, why shouldn’t she?

So Captain Lexitronics left her headquarters, her shop, and her dear Garelli. There was no need to consider her personal comforts or preferences for such a short visit.

She taught class after class, explaining the wonders of electricity; the complexities of electronics; the importance of ethics; and for gifted students, the balance of power use. A few years flew by, and the classes remained the same. Meanwhile, her students grew. Citizens were well-informed, and new heroes were being born.

Within two decades of teaching, there had been a few attacks. Flying pigs, giant monkeys, grumpy hippopotamuses: all intercepted by her students. Captain Lexitronics could have burst with pride.

“Sir!” I called to the police chief.

“Hello, there!” the chief of police smiled. “What can I do for you, ma’am?”

I laughed. “It’s me, Captain Lexitronics.”

“I knew that, ma’am. You haven’t changed a bit,” he laughed, stroking his graying mustache. “Can I do something for you?”

“I was wondering how long I’m expected to be teaching here. It’s been twenty years. I’m ready to be back in the game. I miss my Garelli.”

The police chief knit his bushy gray brows together. “I’m afraid that’s quite impossible, ma’am.”

“Impossible? Impossible,” I scoffed.

“We’ve made a lot of advancements since you retired, ma’am. Our heroes now, well…they operate on a whole different playing field than you.”

“I trained those heroes,” I insisted.

“You certainly did a lot, yes ma’am,” he nodded. “But they learned other things from other teachers; things you just don’t know enough about. I’m sorry.”

“Then what am I supposed to do?” I asked. “I gave up a portion of my life for this school, to contribute what I’m capable of.”

The police chief nodded sagely. “We’re mighty appreciative of that, ma’am. It certainly was the right thing to do. Although, now, I’m sure we can manage without you. Go on home to your Garelli. Enjoy that vacation you were always hounding us for, back in the day.”

So Captain Lexitronics returned to headquarters to a dusty life. She painstakingly restored the wear on her motorcycle, taking it for short bouts inside. The Captain never thought to use her powers for anything. Instead, she spent her time on her twenty-year-old manuscript, trying to jumpstart off her ancient writing.

The tasks she was capable of proved repetitive, until Captain Lexitronics was nearly in tears, knowing that her skills had been left to rot while she felt obligated to help others to grow.

“I’m not even a superhero anymore.”

 

…some days, I feel like Captain Lexitronics. Like all the things I contribute to are just that: things I contribute to. Rarely can I identify ways that people or organizations are pouring into me. Partially, this results because I am a control freak. I can admit that. It’s hard to grow when you’re fixed in a certain area because you know if you do it, it’ll be done right. Still, my lack of growth isn’t entirely my fault. I am not a hermit. I am actively involved in many groups that could offer me varying, valuable skill sets.

Instead, it seems I’m offering my skill sets to others.

So often, I feel pressured to take on opportunities because I’m capable. But capability is one giant comfort zone. If I just hang around there to bring other people there with me, when will I ever get the chance to grow and expand?

Just because I’m capable doesn’t mean I should. Even in the opportunities for growth, I need to evaluate them. Is that something I desire to do?

Should everything be about me? No. I am an advocate to the benefits of serving. But when all you do is serve…when all you do is push yourself to reach insurmountable goals because you can…that just doesn’t seem right.

Don’t be like Captain Lexitronics. Find a healthy balance between pouring into others and being poured into. Otherwise, you’re gonna feel totally zapped: just like her.

My Own Mom-Friend

I thought I was ready for college. I’ve been packing away various items in a large green tub next to my bed. I’ve been planning purchases and ordering books and asking clarifying questions. I’m excited for the new experiences and challenges.

I just took a look at the Welcome Week schedule, and was hit with the sudden realization that I am not ready.

I have been undeniably sad for the past few weeks (months, even). I know I don’t like change and that the upcoming life changes were (and are) hard for me.

I’m not ready. I don’t want to leave my parents. I love my parents. I need my mom and my dad. I need hugs from people I can trust. I need talks with my daddy and reality checks from my momma.

I don’t want to leave my church. Sure, I don’t feel as if I’ve been growing there, but my church is where my mentor is. Some of my closest friends. Some friends I’m just beginning to get to know. Some wonderful adults that still have knowledge they could pass on to me.

I don’t want to leave my Robotics team. Yes, I’m tired of going to meetings and having responsibility there. But I have friendships there that are coming to a close, along with this time in my life. I don’t want them to.

I don’t want to leave my cousin. For goodness sake, any time I give that thought enough genuine time in my brain, I burst into tears.

I’ve already left my school and lost the majority of the shallow friendships I had there.

What kind of psychotic idea did I have to go to a college almost four hours from home? For crying out loud, I had never even put gas in my car on my own until a week ago. I think I’m ready to go off and be an adult, all by myself? Manage my money and my time?

It’s not even that Welcome Week sounds all that bad. It’s designed to acquaint new students with the campus, each other, and to build community. I just keep seeing drop-off day playing in my head. My dad helping to get everything set up in my room. My mom, triple-checking that I have everything I need. Getting in my last hugs, and watching them leave, just like they do every time they dropped me off at summer camp.

But this isn’t summer camp. This is my new life. A tiny room with no air movement. Classes I might not be able to handle. Decisions every day, all on my own. Routines and habits and being my own mom-friend.

Go to bed now, Lexi.

Don’t forget to set your alarm, Lexi.

Twenty more minutes of studying and you can take a walk, Lexi.

Don’t forget to eat, Lexi.

I know you hate communal bathrooms with a passion but you need to shower, Lexi.

And it’s scary.

Seasons

I’m really terrible with this whole “seasons of life” thing. My brain has trouble comprehending that better things are ahead. Instead, I see everything I’m leaving behind. Everything that I feel I’m losing.

I have evidence from my life that new seasons are good. When I look back on past friendships, I miss aspects of them. But I’ve come to value newer friendships even more.

However, it is now time to shed those “newer friendships”. I’ve moving into a new season. Part of me is thrilled and ready.

Another part of me is devastated. So many of my friends are moving to new places, whether with their families or through college. So many of my friends have already gone to college, have already left me.

know great things are ahead. I know it. But I don’t feel it in my heart.

It’s just like Quinn and Erin are experiencing in my newest book, Swoop.

Quinn’s tears broke into laugher. “No, Erin. I’m not questioning the move. No matter how much I don’t want to, I know it’s right.”

“But we’re going to lose so much,” Erin murmured. “All of our friends. Our house. Our family. Our church.”

Quinn’s lips quivered into a smile. “But we don’t know what we’re going to gain.”

“What?” Erin coughed.

“Think about it, Erin,” Quinn’s smile grew into a grin. “We aren’t totally losing our friends and family. We’ll see them again. But what’s going to happen to us when we get to Maryland? We’re going to be blessed in ways we can’t even imagine.”

“So it isn’t going to be hard?” Erin asked, doubt creeping into her voice.

“No, there will be hardships, of course,” Quinn choked. “But there will be favor, too. Blessings. That’s exciting, isn’t it?”