Lovely Letters: Stay In It

Dear Lovely One,

Yes, you. Do you know how rightly those words fit you? Like a chunky knit sweater, they were made to wrap around you and shield you from the cold.

And it gets cold, doesn’t it?

Life gets cold when¬†loneliness comes around, after the day’s laughter has faded. We are left with our thoughts about what is, what could have been, what is likely to never be.¬†And life gets painstakingly, teeth rattling cold.

But you, you are lovely and so worth loving and the world is better and brighter because you’re in it.

Stay in it. 

Those are the words I want to bundle you up in: stay in it.

Keep fighting. Because your bones are stronger than you give them credit for. Your heart is more durable than you’ve been made to believe.¬†Whoever told you that you’re too weak to walk this thing out, that you don’t have any fight left in you:¬†they lied.

Because I know that your fierce footsteps could change the world. You’ve got to keep walking.

It’s hard and we’re always bandaging scars, old ones that get re-opened and new ones that are just starting to form. It sometimes seems like we’re being put through a never-ending process of running to get bandaids and gauze: we’re looking for anything to stop the bleeding.

Let love and hope stop your bleeding.

There’s more here than what we’re seeing. There are things bigger and better than what tattered hearts and broken¬†minds can imagine. I don’t always believe it, but in my gut, I’m¬†certain that it’s true.

Because if things like sunsets, road trips, loud music, oceans, good friends and pints of ice cream exist, then there’s someone who made those things and He has even better up His sleeve.¬†We haven’t seen anything yet. The best is yet to come.

But we’ve got to keep walking, keep fighting, keep grabbing for hope and love, knowing that¬†it will all be¬†worth it. Even on the days when we’ve hit rock bottom and are seemingly at our worst, holding onto hope and love¬†will be worth it

You are lovely. In the simplest and truest way, you are lovely. And the world needs your light, your laughter, your dancing, for you to start dreaming again. You deserve to dream, to ask for better things for yourself.

You’re not alone.¬†I’m here curled up on my couch with books and blankets, tear-stained face, all to tell you that¬†we all feel the cold and that you’re not alone in that.¬†Keep holding on. There is always light, always hope, always something beautiful to be made out of the mess. If you can’t believe that yet, then let’s make a deal: you believe for me & I’ll believe for you.

Us holding these¬†broken hearts is not the end of the story. Maybe we’re just at the part where the sad songs are playing and it seems like everything we wanted went slipping through our hands. But stay tuned, because¬†there’s something good coming:¬†I can promise you that.¬†There are good things waiting for us,¬†this whole thing isn’t over yet.

Stay in it and watch what happens…we are¬†not going to be disappointed.

Lovely One: that’s who you are. Wear those words and own them, they are yours on any and every cold day that comes.

These hard times are just a brief breeze that will soon pass by.

Bundle up tight in love, and don’t let the pain¬†steal your strength.¬†Just a little further, and you’ll see that there’s so much better ahead than anything you’ve yet to¬†see.

Lovely Letters: Getting Out of “The Friend Zone”

He told me that he thought of me as a friend. All my friends tell me to move on and that I should just throw in the towel, but I honestly don’t think I could find a guy more perfect for me. What should I do?

Sincerely, Friend Zoned

 

Dear Friend Zoned,

It came down to me and my best friend. She and I were sitting on the cold tile floor, in front of the filing cabinets, when he said he liked us both, but he knew he had to choose.

We were seven years old. I just sat there patiently waiting.

My odds weren’t looking good. My best friend was beautiful and she knew how to color better than I did. She was nicer than me, taller than me, her hair was straight (mine was tangled, curly and tragic).

He didn’t even know all the good stuff about me.

The only things he knew were things like: I was terrible at art, I was a painfully enthusiastic evangelist and that I carried a green Tarzan lunch box. These are not cool qualities for a seven-year-old girl.

He chose me and that, dear friend, will forever be the greatest mystery of my childhood.

There was no good reason for it. It wasn’t my dazzling/witty personality, my sense of¬†fashion (unless I missed the memo that said my best look was high water jeans and t-shirts). It was just the mystery of life, the unexplainable¬†reasons of¬†why we love some people and why we don’t choose others.

I don’t have all the answers about¬†love or how this whole thing works. I know that some people stay with their¬†high-school sweethearts, some girls marry a¬†guy they met online, some people never find anybody and I can’t tell you why.

What I can tell you is that if you get the chance at a¬†love story, make it a good one.¬†Don’t choose your hero to be someone who doesn’t even own a white horse, don’t let your heart ache for a¬†man who is looking for Cinderella in other places.

This is your story. You can make it epic, but only if you decide to use the best¬†characters. I know he’s probably incredible, I have no doubt that this guy you’re talking about (your best friend) is likely¬†a good fit for you.

But the reality is that he wants to be cast in a different role and he wants to be the leading man¬†of another story. You know how I know that’s true?

Because “When a man loves a woman… can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else. He’d trade the world for a good thing he’s found.”¬†

Those might be cheesy lyrics that came dancing through the radio when my Mama was just six years old, but I promise you they are not just some fantasy. I know this because I have a Daddy who looked up toward God himself and said that he would never marry another woman if he didn’t marry my Mama. Once he met her, he was ruined; she was the only woman he could see. They’ve been married almost 30 years and he’s never taken his eyes off of her.

It’s out there and it’s good. I know we’ve all seen a lot of broken marriages, relationships, even friendships, but the real thing exists. Maybe I’m childish and crazy for believing it, but I promise you that I’ve lived on the hopeless side of not believing it¬†and that didn’t¬†make heartbreak any easier or protect me from any pain.

I’d rather live with this crazy notion that the right man is going to come knocking on my door at any minute¬†than to sit around hoping that one day a guy I’ve been secretly pining for will finally decide, after months and years, he likes me¬†and take me on a real date.

You deserve more. I know that as nice as those words are, they’re not always easy to hear¬†(believe me, I’m well acquainted with that reality). I’ve been where you are and I know it’s hard to let go. I know that he probably makes you feel alive all the way to the tips of your fingers, but at the end of the day, those fingers of yours still aren’t laced with his and you can’t make that happen.

It doesn’t really matter if your hair is perfect or you are good at coloring the right one will pick you.¬†He will choose you in a world full of a billion other possibilities. It may not even make sense, but he’ll set his sight on you and Tarzan lunch boxes and bad blue jeans won’t change his mind.¬†But if he’s looking for¬†another girl or telling you that you’re not the right one,¬†you’ve got to start dreaming for better things. A good man will be up front and let you know how he feels; even seven year old boys eventually make their choice and make it known. You’ve got to start believing that it is worth waiting for someone who looks you right in your pretty little eyes and says, “This is it for me, it’s you or it’s nobody.”

I’m no expert, friend. I’m just a girl who still believes that she’ll get chosen without having to always convince¬†him of all the good stuff. He’ll love me without me having to jump and wave my arms in front of his face, without me having to buy better blue jeans or discover hair taming products. It will be a mystery to me, but he’ll see someone¬†worth bringing flowers to and someone worth adoring¬†and¬†I think I can wait a little longer for a man like that.

You’re worth that kind of love, sweet girl. I believe it is out there, but chances are you won’t find it waiting around in the friend zone.

Ashlin

Lovely Letters: There Might Be More

I feel like I’m betraying the people I love¬†if I move¬†far away, but at the same time I feel like I need some independence and change. I don’t want to lose them, but I think I need to see what else is out there for me.

-K

Dear K,

When I decided to move to Georgia, it was just an experiment. I figured I would stay for the summer and test the waters. I decided that if I didn’t fall completely in love with this city, I’d just move back home.

I fell in love, K.

To be honest, it wasn’t¬†really the city that romanced me¬†and it still doesn’t give me butterflies, but I fell absolutely head over heels with who I am while living in it.

It took walking away from everything I’ve known. It took leaving home to realize that¬†I am more than just that twelve year old small town girl who had braces, bad hair, good grades and decent basketball skills.

I think there’s more for you, K. Oh, and trust me, the people that are¬†sewn permanently into your heart and soul will love you no matter what you decide.¬†It will be painful,¬†they’ll definitely cry, but they will send you off with hugs and prayers. You’ll see that they will always have open arms when you come back to visit.

I remember being so torn about my decision to move and finally, standing in my doorway, my Dad said something that’s stayed with me every step of this journey:

“You’re thinking about what you’ll miss if you go, but you have no idea what you will miss if you stay.”

That was all I needed, those words sparked a hope in my heart that said¬†there might be¬†more… if you want it.

Most days, I still have no idea what I’m doing here, but you know, that wasn’t why I really came. Sure, I hoped I would have a fated collision with my destiny, but I really came just to see what it would be like to ride without my training wheels.

I’ve spent months in other places, traveled to foreign countries. Yes, I lived with my sister¬†in Apartment G, but I needed to go beyond that.

I didn’t just need to see the world, I needed to see who I was¬†outside of¬†the only piece of it I had ever called home.

I think it was honestly time for me to let somewhere else and someone else see what I bring to the table. I think we’ve got a lot to offer, K. You¬†have things to offer others besides those in just your¬†little corner of the universe.

You’re not betraying anyone by deciding to stretch your arms further and pull more people into your embrace. It doesn’t mean you’re letting go of the ones you already love, K. You can hold more than you think, your limbs are made to stretch farther than you can imagine.

There are also other people who need to squeeze you tight and leak some love on your weary bones. It’s okay to want some¬†new faces, to experience the rush that comes with driving down unfamiliar streets and seeing the sun setting on a different stretch of horizon.

You’re not selfish, sweet girl. You’re an adventurer and you’ve got a restless heart and that isn’t always a bad thing. There may come a day when you’re ready to go back to that place you once called home, you may buy a little house on one of those streets you’ve come to know well. But for now, it’s okay to explore and add a little more to the beautiful life you already have.

You can do this, if it’s what you really want. If you mess up and it turns out to be a horrible mistake, you’ll only grow from it. You’ll learn more than if you only play it safe (and you’ll also have some good stories to keep in¬†your pocket).

Risk isn’t a waste, but a lifetime¬†of¬†asking¬†“what if?”¬†is.

Don’t be afraid to take some chances and to take off your training wheels.¬†The only way you’ll ever learn is to just start pedaling.

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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Lovely Letters: Hope For Your Heart

After all the pain I experienced, I feel like I have lost hope. Maybe I threw it away, maybe I let others¬†steal it, it doesn‚Äôt seem to matter anymore either way. I guess I just want to know… how do I get it back?

-H

H,

I’m soaking in this quiet moment. The air has turned chilly, the windows and doors of our house are open, our sweet dog is stretched out on the rug and one of my housemates is playing the piano.

My heart is full and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.

I don’t know what exactly made me get to this moment, but I think it started somewhere after I decided to be¬†thankful.

I know where you are.¬†A lot of things have been hard for me recently. For a really long time,¬†they’ve just been really hard and very painful.¬†

But I’ve just decided¬†to start being grateful¬†for the good things, even if they seemed small, the moments where breathing is easy and life is quiet.¬†I have started being grateful for coffee, sunsets, strings of lights on the porch, my favorite cereal, phone calls from friends, movie nights, laughter, flannel shirts, firm handshakes and bear hugs.

Gratitude has brought hope back to my heart.¬†I’m not sure that there was ever another way (and trust me,¬†I’ve tried everything else). I prayed for¬†new things, then for old dreams, and then for absolutely anything to resurrect this heart of mine.

Nothing happened.

It was then that I decided to start being content with what I already have. Now, I’ve started noticing the beauty in the ordinary days, in the moments of laughter with my housemates, sitting around the table with friends and talking about grace and the changing of the seasons.

Hope has returned. Beauty and excitement were resurrected in my heart because I chose to see that they have always been near.

Even in the pain, the heartache, the tears and the questions, there were always things worth smiling about and worth pausing to admire.¬†There is beauty in the place you’re in, H.¬†If you’ll just take a minute to step back and look around, there are things that will pull on the strings of your heart and at the corners of your mouth. Your lack will start to look like abundance, if you just take a second to be grateful for the goodness in each day.

Things aren’t ever going to be perfect. You’re never going to have¬†literally every single thing you could ever want. But you’ll realize that you have what you need, things that are beautiful and life-giving.

Hope hasn’t left you, H. It’s still there, in the beauty of orange leaves, bird lullabies, brave moments and people who make your heart skip. There may be things you don’t have, but just start taking note of all you do have¬†and I promise the good you will see will multiply.

These words won’t make your problems disappear and they aren’t going to change the things that have happened to you, but you know what? You deserve so much more than a life spent holding a magnifying glass over the pain and the heartache. Pull your head up, H and stop staring at all the broken pieces scattered on the floor.

We both know they are there. I’m sure that when it all crashed and shattered, the sound was terrifying and the chaos was devastating. I imagine it made you feel like you could never get what it takes to sweep it all up and put it back together.

Stop trying to glue it all back together.¬†You’re meant for more than sticky, sloppy, shabby pieces stuck together in attempts to look like what they used to be.¬†

You deserve new, unbroken, whole things placed in your heart.¬†You still have plenty of good things inside and there’s more coming.¬†Be grateful for all that remains and keep believing that more beauty is on the way.

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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Lovely Letters: This Burden Will Be a Blessing

They’re back! Here’s the newest Lovely Letter!

I broke up with my fiance. We’ve been together for almost 5 years and were planning to get married this coming December. I feel so empty, I’ve just¬†tried to keep myself busy.

 

-L

Dear L,

Sometimes, choosing the hard thing can result in our biggest blessings, but before that it often feels like our heaviest burden.

You want to feel loved. You want to be respected. You want someone who fights as much for your heart as you fight¬†for his. I think, at the end of the day, that’s what¬†we’re all really hoping for.

Your heart wanted something different and it¬†took letting go of something you thought you could learn to be content with,¬†in order to open your hands for what’s better.

You made a decision and it was a hard one. You decided that even though you invested so much time, energy, laughter, memories, and heart with one person, that you wanted something different than what you were holding. That’s brave, but it’s painful and heart-wrenching. It’s going to take time for that one to heal, L. You cut out a big piece of your world and the sting can stay¬†around for quite some time.

I know you feel empty, that you’re trying to fill that with work and hobbies.¬†My best advice, the thing I can tell you will help the most, is to¬†fill¬†up your time with people.

Choose to let others see your heart during this time. Yes, I realize it’s bruised and broken. You may cry, or scream, or feel completely depressed, but whatever you do, don’t let yourself believe that you are alone.

We’ve all been there, in some way or another. Your situation is different than any I’ve had,¬†but I know the pain of walking away from something that became a part of who you are and the future you saw for yourself. I know the weight of that stone that sits on your chest when you wake up and realize that this isn’t where you thought you’d¬†end up.

But it’s a blessing, L. Right now, it feels like you’re being torn beyond repair, but I promise that it’s better to feel this pain now than to wake up in ten years and wish you had walked away.

You already know what your life would have been if you would have married him. You spent five years learning what your world wrapped around him would turn out to be.¬†You realized it wasn’t the world you wanted, don’t waste another second wondering if you should regret desiring¬†something different¬†for your life.

You know what I think? Sometimes, we willingly choose the hard things because we can’t stand the idea of things staying the way they are. And you know what? Sometimes, doing those things that scare you, that seem to leave you empty handed, lead to the best surprises.

So, you have no idea what your life is going to look like without him. I get that, L. I know that you’re not only walking through the sadness of losing something you loved, but you’re now stuck in the worry of wondering if the future before you is really going to be better than what you had.

So, are you willing to walk away from a life you thought you wanted, in order to see something amazing happen? 

You said yes to that question; now things can change and I think they will.

You knew in your heart that it wasn’t right, and¬†you chose to follow that despite how much it hurts. That’s pretty amazing, if you ask me.

This is your life, L. This is your shot and it’s your choice who walks next to you along this crazy journey you’re living. You chose to unlace your fingers with someone who wasn’t right for you.¬†I’m proud of you, for all the times you forgave him, for all the times you apologized, for all the times you were willing to try and work it out.¬†But mostly, I’m just proud of you for realizing that it’s not your responsibility to change someone, and that as much as you wanted to make things work, the only choices you can make are for yourself.

Just breathe, sweet friend. Know that you are not alone, surround yourself with people who will soothe your heart during this seemingly unbearable time. Be grateful that you had the strength to take a stand and that you realized the choice is yours. What now seems like a burden, you will one day see as the biggest blessing. Take a breath of relief that you were finally able to let go of what you were gripping so tightly, and that you now know it was never really yours to hold.

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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Lovely Letters: You and Your Baggage

I don’t want to live in the haunting memories. I can’t figure out if I will ever move on.  Why do we carry around this baggage?

-M

 

M,

Yesterday consisted of sifting and sorting through my inbox. Letters from others like you, filled with words of joy, pain, confusion, excitement, thankfulness, uncertainty.

While replying to some of them, I moved from¬†the¬†couch, to an adirondack chair, to a comfy leather chair, to a bean bag, to a lawn chair. ¬†I kept trying all day to fill blank boxes¬†with words. I kept hoping I could say something to load others up with¬†something that will pour¬†hope back into their bones.¬†But no matter how many times I changed location or position, I couldn’t get comfortable with all the words on my screen. They were just plain heavy.

That being said, there’s one thing I learned while letting my eyes pour over all the things tossed into my mailbox.

We’ve all got some baggage.

I mean, really, we’re¬†all lugging around clunky and bulky suitcases. Some are filled with words, some are filled with dark memories, some filled with disappointed hopes. Here we are, broken and at the core, all the same.

But just a few days ago, crying on the murky green carpet of my little house in Georgia, I learned something about traveling lighter.

When we carry around the pain, the hurt, the stings of the past as our baggage, we give ourselves all the reasons not to try again. We create walls to make us safe. But the reality is, after lugging those bags around for a while, you start realize that hurt is a lot easier to heal from than those bags are to carry.

We carry our bags to remind ourselves that¬†people will break your heart.¬†We keep them close and whenever we think we’re in the slightest bit of danger, we start stacking them like a fort around us.¬†Not again, I’m never going there again. This is often the anthem of humanity.

We had some visitors in our home this week and one of them didn’t bring any clothes (seriously, this person packed almost nothing). The other two brought so little that they could easily fit it all in their arms.

It’s easier to travel without all that weight.”¬†

That was their motto, their anthem, their reason for walking around in the same clothes and worn out shoes. It was easier to travel that way, and that was all the reason they needed to leave their bags behind.

Because they’d rather live lightly than carry around the heavy weight of what makes them feel safe or comfortable.

They may appear poor to the rest of the world, they may appear unprepared and unwise.¬†The reality is, they’re some of the happiest people I’ve ever known.¬†They have a posture, a strength, a fierce confidence that I’ve never seen before now. They live lightly and loudly. They climb trees, run mountains, jump cliffs and get covered in mud and dirt over and over again. They do it all, knowing they have no change of clothes, that they may have to sleep covered in today’s dust.¬†But they’re living, and it’s a lot easier to do and a lot more fun when you’re not trying to figure where to keep all your bags.

Rip the tag off, M. Take one last look at that frumpy set of luggage that you’ve grown to know so well. ¬†Leave them all where they are and¬†choose to pack light. Choose to let go of whatever it is that’s weighing your heart down, whatever suitcases are packed with things that keep you from laughing loudly and playing in the mud.

Let this be the spark that starts the kind of fire it takes to be brave, to do something that absolutely terrifies you. To live in a way that makes you laugh in the mud instead of living in fear of it.

We’ve all got it, M. We are all carrying stuff around, but I’m trying to figure out how to throw things off along the way. Sometimes, I just have to muster just enough strength to drop what it will take¬†to climb that staircase, or to get in my car, to say something scary¬†or to do something that makes people think I’ve lost my mind.

Today, that’s enough. Tomorrow, I’ll have to throw off a little more.

There’s a reason that airlines charge extra for the more bags you bring. Oh, and the heavier they are, the higher the cost. Isn’t that just how pulling them around yourself seems to feel? Trust me, M, you don’t want to exchange¬†your¬†future or your joy for the currency it takes to pay the charge for lugging around the past.

It’s all a choice, M. You get to choose what you carry. I hope you’ll leave your bags behind. If you do, I think you’ll find that you’ve got what it takes to make it, even if you go¬†with¬†nothing more than the clothes on your back.

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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Lovely Letters: When Your Plans Are Wrecked (& You Can’t Find a Map)

Happy Wednesday! Here’s a new Lovely Letter and a challenge. After reading this, leave a comment for the girl who sent in this e-mail with a simple sentence of advice/encouragement about what¬†you know when it comes to plans failing and life changing.

“And while my heart has been changed to accept that the life I once planned won’t happen, it’s still hard. I appreciate this stage of growth in my life, but I also really wish I could have gotten this lesson without so much heartbreak. ”

-O

Dear O,

Something happened inside of me when I heard her say these words:

“I just feel connected to you.”

A complete stranger, working at a kiosk in the middle of the mall just stood with her dark eyes looking up at me. She leaned her head on my shoulder and it felt like a bandaid was being placed across my world.

All because I stopped (and I never ever, under any circumstance,¬†stop at a kiosk in the mall).¬†I am the rude person who will not even glance over at them, because I know that they’re going to harass me in attempts to sell me what is probably the last thing I’ll ever need.

But this time was very different and there was something about the way her voice sounded when she called out to me. It was like the voice of an old friend, it was as though we had been on a thousand coffee dates and grew up having movie & ice cream nights together. I knew her, I just did. Though I had never seen her face before, I knew her.

So, I just stopped.

It was never a conscious choice, I had no interest in the product she was selling,¬†but I just stopped. I can’t even explain the reason, other than it’s just what you do when you see a familiar face, you don’t question it; you just stop to say hello.

And with an ease we just meshed into conversation. We talked about how she was¬†from Israel, about my trip there three years ago.¬†It was like we’d been there together.¬†We talked about the food, the nightlife, the way people greet you on the street. We laughed, as though together, we had¬†shared memories and jokes during¬†our desert days.

I ended up buying something, she ended up asking for my contact information and she told me to come back. She invited me to stop by again and see her. She asked to be friends.

And in that moment, I learned something I thought I already knew.

The best things in your life are the things you didn’t plan on, the moments you can’t make sense of,¬†the moments that simply had to be pure¬†fate¬†because they¬†weren’t on the map, but they somehow changed your entire direction.

I wish I had known a year ago, that some of the best things in my life would happen in the middle of the mall or walking down hallways.

Not yet arrived to the place I’m trying to get to, I’ve stumbled into some pretty incredible moments along the way. Usually, it’s just when I’ve left a room of heartbreak and I’m trying to get to whatever room holds the next big thing. Usually, I’m in search of some kind of map while I’m in these hallways, I’m looking for some kind of sign to show me which door to walk in next.

Almost always, that‚Äôs when I collide with something that grabs at my heartstrings, something worth stopping for and suddenly, I begin to panic.¬†In those moments, I refuse to even focus on the beautiful surprise, and rather start frantically searching for a compass,¬†something to get me where I was supposed to go.¬†¬†I tell myself, ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt¬†stop for this, it‚Äôs just a distraction. You¬†don’t have time for this.¬†You‚Äôve got places you need to be,¬†more important things to do.”

I wish I had known earlier how to enjoy the hallways; the people you meet, the paintings on the wall, the things that may just look like common decor, or that may seem unimportant. Usually, these are things worth giving a second glance.

You know, O,  I don’t always want to be in a hurry to find what’s next.  Sometimes, I just want to love what is.

Rather than searching for a map, I wish I had met & asked strangers for some directions along the way.¬†I wish I had met more of the people coming in and out of the rooms around me.¬†I wish I had known that it‚Äôs okay to walk alongside¬†some people and go wherever they’re going.¬†It‚Äôs not always a bad thing, you know; to trust someone new. ¬†Even though that‚Äôs gotten you heartbroken in the past, there‚Äôs no ¬†time limit or safety guarantee on how many people you should pass by or how long you should walk until ¬†it’s an¬†“appropriate time” to walk beside someone else again. Yes, they start as strangers, but seconds later they might just change your life.

That‚Äôs a lesson you can put in your back pocket today, O.¬†Don‚Äôt let fear keep you from trying again, from making new plans, from turning the corner and starting down an entirely new hallway with a whole different set of doors. Don’t let it keep you from stopping when someone stands with their hand extended, waiting to meet you.

I know what it’s like to let go of the life you planned, the uncertainty of beginning again, or trying to figure out which direction to head in. I know what it feels like when dreams die and everything you thought you wanted starts to look colorless.

It’s okay to want new things. It’s okay to change your mind, to explore possibilities, to give yourself some room to make mistakes. Sometimes you’ll open the wrong door. Sometimes you’ll linger in the hallway too long. 

But sometimes, you’ll leave the¬†wrong room and just realize that you’re grateful you didn’t get stuck where you weren’t ever meant to stay.

I just want you to know that you don’t have to keep waiting for the next thing. Sometimes, you can find the best things right where you’re standing, right in the middle of the uncertain hallway, where you never expected to meet someone who could make you laugh. Sometimes, you find people that change your life in the middle of the mall and you get to be enchanted by the mystery of not even knowing what made you stop.

Life is funny that way, O. You spend your days trying to find a room filled with your destiny, and most of the time you end up tripping over it in the hallway.

It never looks like you expect, but that’s the wonderful thing about surprises; they’re often much better than the things¬†your mind could have imagined.

Life has some surprises for you, O. They may scare you, they can sometimes seem like hurdles and messes that cause a detour from the path you thought you were supposed to take.

But they’re there¬†for you, they’re gifts if you open your heart. O, you’re going to get to where you’re supposed to go. But I don’t want you to end up there alone, exhausted, discouraged. Choose to¬†enjoy the artwork, to peek in on others’ rooms, stop and make some friends; I promise you when you arrive at¬†that place you’re wanting to be¬†it will seem so much sweeter.

You’re going to get there, as will I. It may not be where we¬†expected, the route may look nothing like we imagined. It may take longer than we thought, but we’re going to get there¬†(whatever¬†there looks like for our lives).

Don’t stress out about maps or compasses.¬†Just keep walking. You are meant enjoy the walk,¬†the process it takes for you to end up¬†stumbling through the door of where you were always meant to be.¬†

You’ll get there, O; you couldn’t miss it, even if you tried.

 

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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