Monday, September 28, 2015

woods. . . | typewriter series #1

You know when you meet someone for the first time and within one conversation you feel like you’ve known them for years? Like there has always been a place for them in your heart that’s just been waiting for y’all to encounter so that once you do, that person can take residence inside your soul?

That feeling recently encompassed me when I received a typewriter from my parents. Yes, a typewriter. Her name is Llyr. It means “of the sea,” which reminds me of her color. 
My dear friend, Anna, took this.
For ages, I have wanted a typewriter. Perhaps that desire for one was my soul telling me what I needed before I even knew. But dang, does it feel right when I’m typing away on her.

You know you're good friends, when you can sit in silence
and write together. 
I love that when using her, I can’t go back and fix mistakes. I have to think about what I want to say before I do, because there are no take-backs once the ink hits the paper. I can’t pick apart old sentences and attempt to fix them. I love how authentic and raw it is, to start without knowing the finish. Heck, I even love the sound it makes when my fingers transfer my thoughts to paper. 

So needless to say, I’ve been using Llyr quite frequently. And to be honest, some of what I’ve written with her in the last week is some of my favorite work. Ever. 

Therefore, today marks the first day in which I share some of my typewriter goodness with you. Like I said earlier, mistakes are made, so parts of it might be a little confusing or hard to read. That is why below the picture I have the text written out in case you need it.

Also quick side note before you begin, I think it is funny that I am so deeply drawn to things of the past century. First, my truck from the 1950’s. Then, my typewriter from the 1960’s. Maybe I was born in the wrong decade.

 Side side note: this is me being vulnerable.

september 28,
woods. . .

we’re all lost in the woods. we see a smooth groove in the earth and we mistake it for a redemptive path. our hope is our downfall. the roads we make up in our minds only send us deeper, deeper still into the woods.

the magic is gone. the twinkle of the sun has disappeared with the leaves. a glimpse can sometimes be found with an unfamiliar gust of air, like a grandma leaning in to bestow a kiss on your cheek. but even a subtle breeze isn’t enough to bring the fairies back. to welcome life back into the dark, lonely woods.

there are a few who find peace in the quiet. who enjoy filling the silence with screams. their own & others. they’re the most disturbed ones, but they’re also the most comfortable. they’ve found a home among the dead brush and empty space. some might even call them lucky. i’m not one of those. they’ve lost their sanity, and so their soul.

after all, the only thing we have left is ourselves and everything that comes with that. like our thoughts, our fantasies, our small whispers when the world stops listening.

but is the earth ever listening or is that another wives’ tale set between the unicorn and the phoenix? is that what we’re told when we’re younger to keep us quiet? to tie our lips closed and cage our mind? to keep us in one place our whole lives, rather than see the world? does the world really have ears? why not scream, i say. HOWL at the moon like a feral wolf. shriek like a banshee.

but then, what if the world is truly just made of ears. is the state of being alone even possible? if we’re always surrounded by the sky and the floor and our breath and our thoughts, are we ever truly in solitude? whose to say the trees don’t speak in their rustling, the leaves in their swaying.

our thoughts are always there to keep us company. even when sleeping, the whispers of the woods invade. destroy. conquer.

we’re all lost in the woods. but if that is so, at least we know we’re among the same type of fools. the type to enter the intimidating woods in the first place.

i think that adds power, insight
to anyone’s

to be lost in the woods.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


So about two weeks ago, I turned 18. It’s weird to finally be the age my friends and I always planned ahead of time to tell random strangers. Whenever the girls and I are at the beach or just out on the town at night, we always turn to each other and say, “If anyone asks, we’re 18.” It’s stupid and juvenile and has never done us much good, but it’s always fun. 

However, what I have come to notice is that the world has such an issue with age. If you have struggles when you’re young, people tell you, “You don’t know what struggle is until you are an adult.” Or “Just wait until you are older - then, you will know what it’s like to have real problems.” As if age is what determines hardship. Well, it’s not.

People can struggle when they are 10. When they are 25. When they are 50. When they are 100. 

And on the other hand, there’s this idea that your life does not truly start until you graduate. Until you’re on your own. Until you have a job. Until you have a family. 

Until. Until. Until.


There’s this poem I love that I think describes the problem perfectly. I don’t think anyone knows who wrote it, but wow, it’s accurate.

“I Was Dying”

First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire. 
And now, I am dying . . . and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.

I have always told myself that once school ends, I will finally get to do what I want. To travel. To be independent. To have fun. To find love. But slowly I have come to realize that every moment, breath, heartbeat, pause is life. 

You, me, everyone has the opportunity to do interesting things and develop God’s purpose for them. You can enjoy life no matter what stage in life you are at.

Obviously you will always have obligations. For example, I am in high school and being a student is my obligation. But I promise, it is so possible to live life and make worthwhile memories during your job and obligations.

For me, I live life in the moments that I have weird, inappropriate conversations with my family.
I live life by spending an hour at the river with a dear friend.
I live life by being spontaneous and saying “yes” even when I lean towards wanting to stay in my comfort zone.
I live life by staying up late to read a good book.
I live life by sitting on my roof and writing.
I live life by sacrificing sleep and perfect homework to invest time in the people I love.
I live life through coffee shops.
I live life through the lens of a camera.
I live life through live music.
I live life by hanging out with Jesus.

So I would just like to say, no matter your age or if you are struggling or if you are not where you want to be, you can - no, you should - live life to the fullest. It is so possible. And so worth it.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Truth About Ireland

So I’m not sure if this is normal or just me, but when I return from a trip I, without a doubt, always get this hollow feeling in my chest. This blackhole that sucks the joy out of the quiet moments in being home. Sometimes the emptiness will be covered up for a night of fun with friends I missed or an extra weird dinner with my family, but for the most part, each day the blackhole wreaks havoc on my smiles and laughter and is only subdued after its size has shrunk with the passing of several days. Actually, I’m quite certain that is not normal at all. 

Frankly, that feeling sucks a ton, and this summer I have dealt with it an overwhelming amount. I am actually dwelling on the feeling right now. This might be the longest the feeling has gone on, but, thankfully, it seems to have shrunk substantially. You see, about three weeks ago I returned from a mission trip from Ireland. And this trip was different. Very different.

There were many reasons it was. First off being that it was a mission trip with the student ministry of my church, but that wasn’t the main reason it was unique from many others. (Although, that was a big contributor.) Ireland was different, because I have never felt true, whole-hearted community until I was there. And coming back to Georgia after having a place filled in my soul that I wasn’t aware needed filling, to have it being ripped open again, was agonizing. 

I have no idea how to portray what the experience was like, but for the first time in my life I was in a group that I felt completely at home with. And sure, I’ve felt comfortable with many different groups, but none so large, so full of differences, so in harmony, so strange, so accepting, so Christ-centered. 

When I was in Ireland, I was among an enormous group of people I didn't know before that week. There were over thirty Irish kids I had never met, not to mention the numerous adults and Americans also on the trip I didn’t know beforehand. I was surrounded by people I knew for only a couple days, but I was so at peace among them. There wasn’t a single person I didn’t like. Honestly, I didn’t even get to know every person there, but I found a home in Ireland. A community. A family where each person was welcome with open arms. Wow, my heart hurts just thinking about how wonderful it was. 
I long, I ache, to return to that place. To those people. But I know that won’t happen. Can’t happen.

And you know what’s kind of funny about the whole thing? We weren’t even doing deep things every five seconds. Of course we worshipped and prayed and joined in the name of God together, but most of the time we were just goofing off. When we weren’t in morning or night sessions we were either sporting, playing a card game called Nerts (which is intense enough to be considered a sport), being spazzy or grumpy or strange or somber or giggly, or prancing around lakes and singing to cows. How weird is that? That God showed Himself most to me when I was playing cards or be ridiculously competitive during outdoor games, rather than in traditional moments - like quiet time or during speeches about the Bible.

Wow, God is so complex and cool. And dang, I didn’t even mean for this to be a super spiritual post, but God can’t be ignored. Especially when talking about Ireland. 

All I can say is - Thank you, God. Thank you for showing me what Your family is like. What Heaven will be like. What peace in You and Your people is. What true joy is. How you can make a group focused on you flourish. How you reveal Yourself in strange ways. 

And what community honestly is.

How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day

So yesterday was Earth Day.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand
I've always been drawn to nature. To the stories it tells in the howling wind. To it simplicity. To its complexity. To its wild air. To its unpredictability. To its hidden paths.

Yesterday I spent lunch at the Chattahoochee River with two delightful friends who enjoy laughing and climbing on trees extended across the water as much as I do. Then after school, I played frisbee and hiked a random path along the river at a different park. That is an ideal day to me, wandering by the water and having a jolly time with fun people.

I think that is exactly what Earth Day is all about. It's about appreciating the land and water and air around you. About giving it some love and exploring it in whatever direction the wind takes you. 

Anyways, I'm going to keep this post short and sweet with this... I challenge you to live everyday like Earth Day. Spend a little time in the fresh air. Walk off the common path. Put your feet in the water and splash. I promise spending time in nature is the best medicine available. Plus, it's completely free.

The better we treat the world, the better it will treat us. And I'm not talking about karma or "what goes around comes around". I literally mean if we aim to recycle more and not keep the lights on when we are out of the room, the world will be less littered with human waste. It is our responsibility to take care of our home. After all we are just looking after it for someone much greater.


A Few Quick Photos of Chaos

Just two days before the glorious weather that was yesterday a tornado warning struck Georgia. In just ten minutes the clear blue sky turned to gray rolling clouds holding enormous hail and powerful rain. I thought it was magnificent. The heart of the storm only hit my house for about 10 minutes, but the effects of that short time were insane. Leaves covered our porch. Two feet of hail piled against the edge of our veranda. Fog covered the forest and neighborhood. 

I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures while the after effects of the chaos were still visible. 
They're nothing magnificent, but I think they tell a story.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On Being an Adventurer + Becoming More Adventurous in Everyday Life

Sailing with my dad in New Zealand last year.

Finding a point of origin for the beginning of a love, or even hate, of something is usually an impossible task. Maybe my love for volleyball started in fifth grade because of my sister’s skill at the sport, or maybe my love of old cars became tangible when my dad brought me along to work with him on his 1969 mercury cougar. I will never know for sure, though, because love does not occur in one particular moment. It does not hit a person like a sudden strike of lightning or a slap to the face. As John Green wrote, falling in love sometimes happens “the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once”, for the chances of the so-called “love at first sight” seem as uncommon as a tyrannosaurus rex in the modern day. I will however admit, that I believe there are certain cases where that kind of miraculous love does exist, but I am quite unsure if I have ever experienced it. If I have, it is in some minuscule sense and more likely to have happened if the phrase was, instead, “love at first bite” with chocolate or pasta.

No, there is not one instant when I knew I loved singing or music. Not one millisecond when I began to adore nature and photography. Not one tick of the grandfather clock when I was aware I was whole-heartedly and absolutely in love with adventure and its best friend, adrenaline. On the other hand, I do believe if I could cheat and choose the time when the love for adventure started to show up “all at once” like Green mentions, I could pinpoint one year. 

During the year of 2004, I experienced some of the best travels of my life. It seems I was outside of Georgia, more than I was in it at that age. That could be my tarnished memory speaking, but if it is I don’t mind. Because memories are what makes a certain time special, and if something was better in my head than it actually was at that moment, then I might as well just savor what my mind tells me.

It seems sailing was ingrained in me before I could stand with unbalanced legs or talk incomprehensibly. That is very much due to my father. Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, he was constantly outside exploring. He loved the ocean and was in it as much as he could get away with. By the age of 8, he was navigating motor boats by himself. By 10, he could sail on his own in the bay. He loved sailing so much that he collected box tops from cigarette boxes of people he knew that smoked. He, then, mailed in the box tops along with fifty dollars he saved up from cutting grass in exchange for a fiberglass kit to make a sailboat. At the age of 12, he built the sailboat with his dad and began sailing it in the water by his home.  

That sailboat had a better and longer life than many people. At one point, it was hit by a submarine on a foggy day. On another day, my dad and his friend got caught in a riptide and were stuck on an abandoned island for more than a few hours. The coast guard searched for the boys and the sailboat, but it ended up being two drunk men who found them. During that unexpected adventure, the boys explored the ruins of Castle Pinckney and the foundation of a long forgotten prison. They returned to their frightened mothers with an enormous shark tooth and a fossilized dinosaur bone they found, along with new memories and stories to later tell their children.

Ever since his childhood, my dad has loved no activity more than sailing. If he could, he would sell our house and all of our belongings to move in a sailboat and live on the water. So far that option has not been available, but my dad still finds a way to sail every few years to keep his wandering mind at ease. Those little sailing escapades were originally for him, but they have now become necessary for my restlessness as well. You see, I am very much my father’s daughter. Whenever my dad tells tales of his youth, I wish severely I could have been on his escapades with him. When he says he wants to drop everything to go sailing, I cheer him on and help pack the bags. When he talks about the things he loves, I find myself agreeing with everything on his list: martial arts, the ocean, traveling, and exploring nature. 

The main difference between us is that over the years my love for adventure has surpassed his and any other person I have met. I find myself thinking of hiking in Australia, backpacking across Europe, and exploring the culture in Africa constantly. If I could pack a bag and travel a new place every day, I would never stop. If I had the opportunity to circumnavigate the world no matter how long it would take, I would halt everything for the chance.

All this desire for adventure, stems from my dad and only grew because of his need to feel the rock of a boat beneath his feet. The earliest I remember sailing was in 2004, at the age of 7. At such a young age, I don’t recall a lot of the journey in the Caribbean, but I still hold the important memories: the laughter that multiplied each day, the vibrant colors of the aquatic life while snorkeling, the sensation of being at the helm and directing the boat in any direction I wished. My favorite of all the feelings, however, was the rocking of the waves and the gust of the wind. Oh, the wind. The way it knotted my hair into an impossible mess. The way it eased the mind and created a sound that still felt like silence. With the wind shoving its way around me and the waves splashing at my ankles and rocking my stomach, I will always feel the closest to home.

The year of 2004 held more than that single heaven, however. The summer before, my family traveled to Europe. We started in France, and my family loved its spirit so much, we prolonged the stay. After Paris, we journeyed to Ireland. I remember the warmth of the people as if they were beside me now. I remember peering over the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and having no sense of fear, but only excitement from the view and the adrenaline. I remember sitting in a pub (at the age of 6) and hearing a single person begin to play his instrument. Once he started, person after person joined in. Some went home to retrieve their fiddle or guitar and some began to share the voices with all. In that moment, my family knew we were experiencing something special. We were part of the Irish culture in that song. We were laughing with the drunks and their families. We were laughing and we were smiling. And we were laughing some more. Just now my whole face has brightened from the thought of that night. 

That was one of the happiest times of my life, and the other times where I have felt that much joy and that free is when I was in another unknown place with few known people. Times where little to me is familiar, are the most exciting times, for each occurrence is a lesson on a culture and each sight is a completely new view of the world. Ever since that year, the thought my mind always reverts back to is travel. 

Sometimes, my wandering mind can become negative and keep me from enjoying where I am this very second, but over the years I have found new ways to have adventures no matter where I am stuck. You do not need to be across the country or in a place where your language is not spoken to calm an adventurous mind and just wander (although, that is obviously ideal).

What I mean to say is, there are ways to make everyday life more adventurous, and in my opinion, more enjoyable. Here’s an example. When I was young, I had an unusually difficult time going up to strangers and asking simple questions, such as “May I change my order from chicken tenders to a cheese burger with no onions or pickles?” or “I love your boots. Where did you get them?” I would lie to myself by acting like I really just did not care enough to get up from my seat to change my dinner order, but in actuality talking to strangers made me unnecessarily nervous. Several years later, like the sudden and unexpected sound of the radio blaring when a car engine is ignited, I realized that being bold in any type of situation is usually rewarding. Boldness comes in many different forms. It could be something as simple as talking to someone that you typically would not, lip syncing “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by an intense rap in front of 1000 people, or even going against the nervousness in your mind and changing from a school with several friends and a miserable learning experience to a school with better teachers and classes and only new, unrecognizable faces (all things I have done and never regretted). No matter the situation, when one is bold about things they care about, the outcome is rarely disappointing.
Becoming less cowardly and more confident in myself has made my life so much more exciting. Most of the friends I have made in the last two years are from going against my fears and speaking up, and probably all of my favorite decisions in life happened because I decided to take a chance.

Just in case you didn't believe me about the lip syncing thing.
I will say that I am relatively at an advantage to some, because I have always known very little fear. The fear I have had I typically had good control over, because I am a naturally level-headed person. That being said, overcoming fear in times that could lead to something great, is imperative to making the most out of any situation. All my life, I have always dreamed of the time I would be old enough to skydive. Like I previously mentioned, I love the feeling of wind, and falling through the air at high speeds would definitely ripple my clothes and envelope my body in rushing air. That feeling, accompanied with the drop of my stomach due to falling, sounds enormously fun to me. Sadly, I am still not old enough to sky dive, but while in New Zealand last year I was given the opportunity to bungy jump into a ravine. That familiar crawl of approaching fear appeared when adjusting my harness and hopping toward the end of a ledge above hundreds of empty space that ended with a rushing river. The fear attempted to invade my mind and remind me that jumping off a perfectly safe bridge was typically not a good idea. However, I killed that traitor feeling as quickly as it came knocking on my mind, because I knew that once I dove with nothing but a long stretchy cord to save me I would not only survive the jump, but I would immediately love the feeling of wind and falling and being reunited with my dear friend, Adventure. And I did. When I jumped, all I could do was smile. The only scream that came from my lips, was to yell to my parents, “This is amazing!”, and it truly was. In order to be adventurous, one must let go of fear, or at least continue on despite it. 

Lastly, a way to become more adventurous is by constantly challenging yourself. This idea is very much like being bold, and is only possible if one forgets the aforementioned fear that comes along with unknown territory. All these ideas are very alike, because they are part of the foundation that makes up adventure. Challenging yourself is imperative to keeping a life interesting and constantly changing. One way to achieve this action is by simply say “yes” to more things. Saying yes to an invitation that sounds daunting, perhaps like going to an event with very few people you know, is often uncomfortable, but also a great chance to grow as a person. When I finally decided to start martial arts in a place with few women and no one I knew, I quickly noticed two things: 1. that I was very uncomfortable, and 2. that not always being perfectly comfortable forced me to meet new people, strike up intriguing (commonly hilarious) conversations, and become more okay with being alone or having to be the person that walks up first to someone new and says, “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met. My names Melanie, and yours?” Putting oneself in situations that challenge a person’s typical nature, forces one to adapt to new situations. That is very necessary if a person wishes to hike the Appalachian trail alone or go on a mission trip to China with not a soul they know. Pairing the ability to be bold, diminish unnecessary fears, and constantly challenging oneself will undoubtedly lead to a more adventurous life, whether across the globe or in your neighborhood.

Now, go! There's no better time for an adventure than right now.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Day By the River

A week or two ago, the days were particularly bitter and drab. Sun was away on vacation, and rain and cold had taken her place in the sky. I did not mind too much; I like any excuse to wrap up in blankets and get extra cozy. However, going an extensive amount of time without being comfortable to explore outdoors does make me sad and somewhat uncomfortable.

So when the weekend arrived, accompanied by weather that tasted like fall with a hint of beach breeze, I was elated. I was eager to run outside as quickly as possible and bask in the glory of the sun and wind. I pranced through my house to my parents expressing my joy and said something along the lines of, “The weather today is so beautiful I could pee. I just want to go run in a park and be merry!” And to my surprise my dad turned immediately and said, “Ok, I’m ready. Let’s go.”

And so we did. We found a quiet park on the Chattahoochee River (which was important to us because we both love the water) and just explored and talked. We found some great hiding places for the Zombie Apocalypse and made the best catch & throw of frisbee in the history of the world. It was simply wonderful. I snapped some shots along the way as I always do, and I am happy with how they turned out. 

The park we went to had a beautiful abandoned bridge.

A fisherman captured through wild branches.

This is one of my favorites. The man caught his fish right as we approached and was ever so pleasant about having his pictured taken. I love jolly strangers.

My dad caught me entranced by the river on some enormous rocks we discovered.
Old bridged are so grand.
Golden hour was especially magnificent against the water.
I told you the rocks were large.

Golden Hour

Disclaimer: I took all photos except the two photos of me. My dad took those.

Disclaimer 2.0: My reference to pee is only figurative and translates into meaning great excitement, happiness, or really anything. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Day of Love

More pictures below :)
As all are aware by the onslaught of Valentine’s Day references in every shop and on all social media, yesterday was the official holiday of love. Now I am not a Valentine’s Day enthusiast by any means (particularly because I am single), but I love the original idea of Valentine’s Day. It is a day to be intentional in telling those you care about, how much you love them. Love is most definitely something to be celebrated, whether with your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend, family, or friends. That is exactly what February 14th does; it celebrates love. 

Anyways, I keep a leather journal the size of my hand to write down quotes that catch my eye and awaken my soul. I thought this holiday would be the perfect reason to share some of the great words on love I have found through the years. 

Ode to Love

Sometimes I think of the sun and the moon as two lovers who rarely meet, always chase, and almost always miss one another. But once in a while they do catch up and they kiss, and the whole world stares in awe of their Eclipse

You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you. 
Romans 5:8

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience - it looks for a way of being constructive.
Love is not possessive.
Love is not anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own ideas.
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage.
Love is not touchy.
Love does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limits to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen. 
Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity and her flaming self respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. 
I love her and that is the beginning of everything.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

In French, you don’t say “I miss you.” You say “Tu me marquees” which means “You are missing from me.” I love that.

I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.” 
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That's guaranteed. I can't begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday's my favorite day again. I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy.
 Silver Linings Playbook

I loved you at your darkest. 
Romans 5:8

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

"You owe me."

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

True love will triumph in the end—which may or may not be a lie, but if it is a lie, it's the most beautiful lie we have.
John Green


Before I go I thought I would quickly share some of my day with you. So this Valentine’s Day, one of my best friends held a “Galentine’s Party” if you will, and I was pleased to spend the day with some of the people I cherish most in the world. We had an epic Nerf gun war, ate too many sweets, watched a hilarious movie with an attractive male lead, and took dozens of photos together. Below are some of my favorite pictures of the night.

 All laughter and love.

I'm clearly feeling extra sassy.

I like to think of this picture as if the paparazzi just caught me having an affair with Lamp, and I have just realized my husband will find out. The other girls are the shocked witnesses at the scene. (If this does't give you an insight into how truly weird I am, I do not know what will.)

 Searching for a man.

I love lamp.
(I truly love you if you know what movie that's from.)

Much love for these ladies.
I hope y'all spent Valentine's Day with those you truly love. If you didn't you still have 364 more days in the year to let them know how much they mean to you. 

If you have any quotes about love, or really anything, I would love to read them. Feel free to comment or email any.

If anyone did not tell you they loved you on February 14th, I would just like to say that I love you for stopping by and spending time on this little outlet of creativity.

I hope you give and receive much love the rest of this year, and the years to come.