Category Archives: Going Places

upside down glitter punches

Dear God, get us out of here.

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photo cred

 Ain’t nothing good coming down these streets.

At least that’s how it seems. Waiting on crappy benches scrawled with the wise sayings of 17 year olds and trash left over from the people who waited before us. Litter on our landscape. Gee, thanks. But we’ve got our shoes on and our bags ready because we know that we are going somewhere.

Busting out of this joint. God said good things are ahead and we believe Him. So we check the schedule for when our bus is gonna show up. When the phone call should come in, the decision is scheduled to be made or that magical moment when our special someone realizes that we are their only someone. Here comes the offer, the hire, the proposal. Here comes the future.

It was the best day of our lives until it wasn’t.

Knocked off our emotional high out of nowhere. Like the girl who shoved me down the slide when I was a little girl and a beautiful evening in the park ended with butterfly stitches on my quivering chin. Below the belt, girl. Not cool.

And here we are today. We’ve lined out our Sunday best, hired the band and roped off the sidewalks. Floats with our dreams about to make an entrance down the boulevard. Then we hear the thunder in the distance. We think to ourselves, “Don’t make me say it. Don’t make me say those words.” As the wind picks up, we watch the clock hoping that we can start soon and beat the bad weather. The words drop from our lips. “Don’t rain on my parade.”.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Wondering which will come first. Our plan or the storm. Dear God. Get us out of here before it hits.

Life is the simultaneous celebration of glitter cannons and below the belt punches. All rolled into one like an upside down day.

So we live our lives waiting on the benches. Sometimes getting wet and other times escaping the downpour just in the nick of time. Either way, it is up and down. Up and down. Up and down. If we aren’t careful then our soggy dreams build up into bitter hearts. Criticizing everyone who plans their parades and even worse – watching in horror as the sun shines and everything goes as planned for them.

Or we stop dreaming and scheming all together. Can’t handle another disappointment.

These bus stops turn into our homes because we secretly stop believing that we were ever meant to go anywhere at all.

What in the world is God thinking? Sending us out full of hope when there are storms nearby?

I’ll tell you what He is thinking.

He is thinking that no rain can get you wet enough. No wind can knock enough power out. No lightning can send people running too far.

We may be waiting on these benches. Feeling the sunshine and the rain. Seeing our balloons wilt with the passing of time. Then – sometimes at the very last second – we hear the music in the distance. A colorful parade in a world of grey. A world that is in desperate need of celebration and big hopeful ideas. A promise fulfilled at exactly the right time.

You’ll probably get wet in the waiting, but God won’t rain on your parade. I promise.

 

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No small plans. No timid dreams.

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The summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year of college I had this same exact feeling. I remember sitting in my front yard late one night next to a boy. I found myself pulling grass out by the fist full – doing anything I could to delay the inevitable. He and I had said all the things there were to say until there was nothing left but the one thing. The thing that hung so heavy on my eighteen year old frame.

“We have to break up.”.

It was hard. There were tears and doubts. Years have taught me now what love is and that wasn’t love. But it was sweet and kind to me – whatever it was. I let him walk away that night unsure if someone better would ever find me, but I knew that sometimes you have to let go in order have space for the next thing. He was a good thing no doubt. But he wasn’t my good thing.

I snapped this pic a few weeks ago on top of Table Mountain in South Africa. This summer I have put in some miles and these feet of mine have carried me through numerous cities in the US, walked me through London and led me over the hills of Cape Town. It has been a journey. A journey that has given me the opportunity to hear some of your stories and see some of your faces.

Those of you who have mustered up the courage to start new businesses, go back to school or who have gotten together with other readers to share the things you carry on those pieces of paper. I am moved. Always, deeply and humbly moved that something I have said or done has sparked inspiration in you.

As I have heard the stories of featured readers over the summer that I have posted to my blog, I have realized something. I have settled for a “good enough” dream. The way you all risk and are pushing the boundaries has sparked something in me.

Courage is contagious. And I have caught it from you.

I sat at my computer three years ago and wrote the first blog entry on Lark & Bloom. Thinking to myself that the thoughts rolling around in my head might be better left unshared and unspoken.  Away from scrutiny and rejection. I hit that publish button and that’s when this all started. That’s when we started. 

Truth be told, it is easy to take one big leap and then convince ourselves that we have landed. That this is as far as we will go – as far as we want to go. We’ve got something to show for ourselves now. No one can fault us for not trying. We tried. We succeeded. But then we stopped. 

We got far enough, did enough, lived enough.

Your stories have highlighted places in me where I have begun to settle. And I’ve decided something.

No small plans, no timid dreams.

If I am honest with myself – really gut honest – I want to contribute to social change in more profound ways than I am doing now. I want to mentor dreamers and creatives to a greater degree than I am at the moment. I wanna give a pep talk to the world – I want to be an author. There I said it. Out loud and online.

But that requires something terrifying and vulnerable. Something that may or may not work.

I don’t have a business plan, but I have a dream. And for now that’s gotta be good enough.

Your tales of triumph, ache, of stumbling through the mess to find the next steps. You have moved me.

So here I am again on another summer night. Looking at what has been and saying that this is lovely, but I have to let it go. Because there is a bigger dream in me that needs chasing.

Let’s be clear. You and me? We aren’t breaking up. 

I’m just risking on taking this to the next level. I’m going way out of my comfort zone to build a new website that will house this blog as well as other projects.

But we are in this together – me and you. So, I wanted to be transparent from the start. ‘Cause sometimes we need reminding that risks aren’t always polished or easy. That sometimes it means letting go of what is to chase something bigger. Even if it feels too big at times.

And maybe some of you champions need to take some risks with me. Letting go of  “enough” to chase the fuller picture.

So let’s be honest about the things we carry inside us. The version of ourselves we long to become. And let’s do this again. Let’s pioneer something new. No small plans. No timid dreams. Just brave. That’s us.

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Get out of bed, dreamers. It’s time to go.

Somewhere beautiful

 But, really. We never signed up for this.

We never signed up to be taunted by our dreams – to be teased for all that hasn’t happened yet. Peeking out from the covers each morning wondering if this day we will fail just like we have in the long succession of days before. Or maybe, just maybe, today we will be someone great. The kind of someone we crave to be.

Then doubt gives us a fresh dose of  reality and reminds us of all the days we never got where we were going. Best efforts that never quite lifted us out of our ditches. Wheels spinning, flinging dirt all over our hearts and coating us with shame.

We haven’t been enough yet.

Or maybe we go into the world with our shiny new shoes, but the world doesn’t seem to want us. Our freshly unpacked visions and breathtaking ideas – no one has time to see our beauty. So we pack up, go home and crawl into our beds. Under the sheets we go where it is safe and we await the coming of another morning.

This isn’t what we signed up for when we decided we wanted to be dreamers, doers and original gangsters. We didn’t expect to lose or be broken down. We never expected to stop fighting.

And yet , we did. We stopped fighting for the things in us that we want to do and become. We stopped believing that Something Bigger is out there and we are meant to find it.

Each day we dull down our dreams to soften the blow of life. Each day we expect a little less because we can’t stomach the thought of coming up empty again. We sell our dreams for the comfort of our sheets. Where we hide and wait for something to change.

The thing is, I don’t want to be a timid dreamer anymore. I don’t want to stay here in this muted world I’ve created for myself.

I want to break out, have brawls with doubt and lay back with my bloodied nose knowing that I didn’t surrender. I didn’t quit. I fought and I got free.

I’m ditching this joint and I’m inviting you to come.

Remember how good cold rain felt on your face as a kid – when you weren’t worried about it ruining your makeup or your suit? The smell of honeysuckle in the summer and excitement of a new box of crayons? Remember when you expected to make beautiful things? Dreaming of seeing the world – the actual world – instead of just pinning it on your Pinterest board?

Remember when you thought you could do or be anything?

Let’s go back there.

We were meant for something far greater than this, far more grand than we have been told.

Wake up dreamers, doers & original gangsters. It’s time to go. —> click to tweet 

Life will have it’s hard days, and sand will be thrown in your face by people who don’t believe in you enough. Some circumstances won’t change no matter how hard you yell and push on them. But those are the places we simply pass through, not where we have to remain.

Let’s head somewhere beautiful again. To a place where we work hard and make things happen. Where we sit with neighbors on front porches and connect to humanity. Where dreaming makes us smile at the possibility instead of cringe at the defeat.

It may take us awhile to get out of our habits. To crawl out of our beds that we have come to seek comfort from at the start of every morning. We will trip over our own feet more often than we’d like. But, we will get there.

I don’t care how long it takes us. Let’s go somewhere beautiful again.

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Blogging Is A Team Sport

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Filed under Beauty, Faith, Fire, Going Places, Lifestyle, something bigger, Whimsy

It’s like a field trip of sorts – but without the permission slip and sack lunch

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I was gonna be all impressive and grown up, but it just didn’t work out. I’ve known this was coming for weeks and had lined out some posts to automatically publish over the next two weeks so you guys wouldn’t even notice that I was in Africa.

Yea, Africa. Life didn’t quite follow my highly-detailed plan this past week and therefore I didn’t get any posts lined out to publish tonight. I sat down to do it now, but my malaria medicine is making me a smidge loopy so I decided creativity probably isn’t a wise attempt at the moment.

So, I’m gonna get personal and just tell you the truth.  I tend to stay away from talking about the ins-and-outs of my personal life on here since Lark & Bloom isn’t really about me as much as it is about us. And it certainly isn’t an adoption or parenting blog. B I’ll briefly take a moment and fill you in on whats happening with me.

This isn’t news really if you follow me on social media, but I’m going to Africa tomorrow. My husband and I have been in the process of adopting for over four years now. It’s been a long journey – a story for another day – but in November we shifted our plans and began the process of adopting from Burundi. We are hoping to adopt a set of siblings actually. I refer you to my previous post about doing the crazy thing.

If you’ve never heard of Burundi, I suggest you read about itI will be giving my paperwork to the government officials in Bujumbura and be introduced to the amazing country nestled in the heart of Africa.

I went to Africa for the first time when I was 15. I have been back twice since then and am beyond excited to return again.

I am unsure if I will be able to blog from there, so we are gonna do something a bit different. I’ll be posting photos from my trip on Instagram and I’d like to invite you along. Its kinda like a field trip of sorts, but you don’t have to sign a permission slip or bring a sack lunch. It should be fun.

Follow me on Instagram @larkandbloom and come to Africa with me. We were made for adventure.

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Blogging Is A Team Sport

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Filed under Adoption, current events, Faith, Global, Going Places, Kiddos, Lifestyle, My Life Thus Far, something bigger

The Risk of Staying

I sat at my desk in December with a scrap piece of paper and a red pen. As I began to plan out my blog for An Uncomfortable January this was the post I knew I had to write. 

It isn’t the glamorous one or the post you will have come looking for on your own. If we were in high school, this  post wouldn’t be the dreamy guy all the girls have a crush on or the really funny one that made the rounds at all the parties. Instead this post is the friend you know you need – the one who keeps things balanced and in perspective. Like the friend in high school who talked me out of getting a flower tattooed on my foot when I turned 18. We need those people.

Two years ago my husband and I left our ideal lives on the West Coast to come back to my mid-sized hometown in Texas. It just about killed me. There was no thrill to being here – I knew this place and it knew me. For better or worse. Things weren’t uncharted or fresh and – to be honest – I have a slight addiction to experiencing new things. I could easily spend my life moving on from one thing to the next in the pursuit of adventure.

I missed living in a big city with all of its foodie eateries, endless shops and unique neighborhoods that provided afternoons of exploration. Living in a place that people came to spend their vacations provided a sense of gratification. When I packed up boxes to load on the moving truck it felt like I was packing up every other exciting opportunity and sending it off for someone else to live.

Fast forward two years.

I attended a funeral  several months ago at the church I grew up in. Surrounding me were people I had known since childhood. Memories began to swirl as I looked at the faces around me. Playing barefoot in backyards trying to catch mid-summer fireflies. Late night conversations by the lake dreaming about glittery futures. Airplane rides to foreign lands together. The flood of shared experiences made my lips curl and eventually break into a full-blown smile.

These people and this place. We hold each others secrets and stories. Maybe staying here isn’t so bad after all.

So many of us idolize risk taking as a daring adventure that sets big dreams in motion and launches us to exciting destinations. Hello, didn’t you see Eat, Pray, Love? ( don’t see it. I didn’t like that movie actually )  In my life I have traveled to over twenty countries and have numerous exciting stories to share. I’ve risked big and made a home on many limbs.

Right now though, I am learning a different type of risk. The risk of staying. Don’t be fooled – in many ways it is the most uncomfortable and risky thing I have ever done.

Staying is giving up all the other “what ifs” in order to hold onto what already is. It is choosing to commit and therefore cut off other options. You forfeit the ability to just take off when things don’t go as well as you planned. You risk being bored. Ultimately staying requires the kind of bravery that cultivates instead of fluctuates.

This month some of us need to risk by going further and others need to risk by going deeper. Maybe you need to chase your dreams or maybe you need to plant your dreams. There are times and moments for both.

I love big skylines at night and streets buzzing with tourists. But I also love this place I’m in that is on the brink of something amazing. And I’m gonna stay here a while and help build this city into what I believe it can become. ‘Cause I’m risky like that in 2014.

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An Uncomfortable January

January

You know that thing that sets you on fire and makes you come alive? The dream in the deepest-most-secret part of your soul that keeps you up at night with your heart pounding and mind reeling at the thought of “what if?”. Or the idea that makes you laugh out loud because it is so absurd that it just might work? Yea, that’s the one.

Well, you are in good company. Let me tell you why…

I have a love hate relationship with the month of January. I spent New Years Day tucked in a nook of a local coffee shop with my journal and day planner. Sketching out brilliant ideas and dreams that I hope will unfold in 2014. Not simply tasks or goals I want to do at some point in the next 365 days, but thinking through who I want to become this year as well.

That’s the love part.

Then there is the actual implementation part. After I wrote all my hopes and dreams down I took a good hard look at what it would actually take to accomplish them this year. What would I have to say “no” to? What would I have to learn or change about myself? How early will I have to wake up to actually workout?

That’s the hate part.

Like I was saying, yesterday afternoon was spent dreaming into this next year. As I sat there with my lukewarm coffee in hand, I read through all the scribbles in my notebook. How is this all going to happen? Aside from a strict budget, earlier bedtime and pots upon pots of coffee one thing stood out – RISK.

I will have to get uncomfortable and risk not being picked, risk making the wrong choice, look past disappointment, risk looking like a total idiot, and forcing myself to choose hope instead of fear…so many ways I will have to stretch if I want to really pursue my dreams in 2014.

Welcome to An Uncomfortable January.

Last year I did a series called An Uncomfortable January where I did one thing each day that made me uncomfortable – made me risk – because no one can chase dreams from their comfort zone. The series is back again by popular demand this year.

‘Cause we have passions to burn for, dreams to chase, character to build, and ideas to create.

I have some amazing guests lined up – from a model in NYC to a former army ranger – who will be sharing what risk looks like for them.

So, guess what peeps? We are gonna go out on a ledge. Starting right now. Today I took a risk and chopped all my hair off just to get us started. Yea, that’s right. I went all pixie cut on you. Wanna know why? Cause we are risky like that in 2014.

hari

My friend Chris always says that most people are too overwhelmed to take action because they are trying to cover miles at a time when they should be focused on taking inches. And that’s true I think. Most writers don’t want to grow a blog we just want to go straight to New York Times best sellers list. What musician has time to actually play small local gigs? It’s Grammys or bust baby.

And of course, we all want to find that one singular thing that makes us special.

Reality is that miles are taken one inch at a time – not in one heroic leap.

This January it is about pursing our dreams by taking our inches.

Go ahead, take a moment and dream freely. What would you do if you had no fear?

We are risking on those answers. Together, taking our inches and risking.

Who knows? Maybe we will all fall flat on our faces, come up short and move to rural Nebraska to hide our heads in shame.

Or maybe it will work and come December we will look back in disbelief at the ground our “inches” have covered. Maybe, just maybe, that “thing” will grow legs and carry us into our destiny.

At the very least we will end up with great stories and the satisfaction of knowing that we didn’t fail to act.

So, here is to another Uncomfortable January. The month we each acknowledge that we have a destiny and passion worth following. Friendships worth forging and jokes worth telling.

Why? Because we are alive and the breath in our lungs is there for a reason. Plus, it’s 2014 and we are risky like that.

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what Italy taught me about getting lost

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photo cred: Galaxy Eyes

Want to know a little-known fact about me? Amid the Type-A drive and tendency to hurry, I adore being lost. It is true that I am 1/32nd Cherokee & can tell time simply by looking at the shadow of my horse…but, I do in fact get lost often. Like my first 24 hours in Italy.

My friend Connie & I flew into Milan with maps and whimsy. The plan was to catch a train to Slovenia for a few days and then explore some fine Italian cities. After landing we headed straight to the main train station.

Oh, but wait. There was a national train strike when we arrived & we were stranded. Did I mention it was fashion week? I was stranded in a train station during fashion week. Whoops.

There we were surrounded by very eccentric fashionistas & a  large group of angry Russian women. I’m not exactly sure why there 20+ Russian women, but for some reason they filled the women’s restroom and were not inclined to share it. The restroom was the only warm spot in the entire train station and the Russians had dibs on it apparently.

Through some United Nations style negotiation, my friend Connie was able to get us on a train to Venice.  Hungry & barely awake, we lugged ourselves off the train in Venice & began the hunt for our hotel. It was called Hotel Albergo.

It was just after 10pm when we got to Venice. We spent what seemed like days saying, “Scuzi! Dove e Albergo?”. The boisterous Italians would flash a smile, point a direction & say a slew of words we couldn’t understand.

It didn’t take long to realize our mistake. Albergo wasn’t the name of our hotel. It was the Italian word for hotel. Hours we spent going from albergo to albergo hoping to find one that had our reservation.

Dizzy from wandering around the canals, Connie & I stumbled upon a midnight mass & sat in the back row happy for a rest. So I sat there. Watching a foreign expression of worship in a strange place was pretty powerful to me. The droning of the prayers & devotion of these silhouettes  lit by midnight candles were enchanting.

I looked at these worn faces around me. We sat together in this ancient church for the same reason. To find Rest. When it was over our feet shuffled back along the canals continuing our search for lodging.

Luckily, or perhaps by divine providence, we found it a few minutes later. The owner’s son was attending the front desk of the small hotel. I don’t remember his name, but he was possibly the only ugly Italian male we saw during our visit.

He had the hots for my friend & proposed every time we came through the lobby. Oh, the Italians.

To be honest, we spent pretty much the entire 10 days lost in Italy. Each step of the trip had been calculated before we left. I spent $1,000 total on the 10 day trip. Yes, that is INCLUDING airfare. (Just try to beat me on travel deals, I dare you). Despite my best planning efforts, the entire trip was a series of missing trains and loosing ourselves in winding alleys. We were even in the wrong country at one point.

That’s just the way life goes sometimes. We get lost, away from our planning & calculations. Lost in strange towns with people we had no intention of meeting. We end up heading north instead of south & going when we are supposed to stay.

Our 5-year plan for our lives gets stuck in an old journal & God has created a new route for us to take.

It is scary and thrilling at the same time.

Italy taught me to surrender the expectation and embrace the adventure. My plans are nothing compared to His. We should put down our maps more often & get lost.

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August 13, 2013 · 3:07 am