Our Decisions Shape Our Destinies

Recently, I finished reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. In a previous post (The Things We Take For Granted) I discussed another one of her novels, Between Shades of Gray, and as in that post I’m not going to talk the plot in detail. After all, I don’t want to spoil anything for those who may want to read either of these books. (And I do highly recommend them).

Out of the Easy.

The Big Easy.

The first line of the book is, “My mother’s a prostitute.” (And that sure does pack and punch.) With Josie as the narrator, this appears to be the way she describes herself, but I can only imagine there’s so much more to her as a person. As the reader, from the very beginning, I could tell Josie was different from her mother and more than a prostitute’s daughter. She didn’t want to be a part of that life. She was smart and wished to continue her education by attending college. An elite college. Josie dreamed of being more she was, more then the life she was born into.

The choices Josie makes throughout the book will shape her future.

The story is set in 1950 Louisiana. New Orleans. Josie lives in what is called the Quarters and it’s not the nicest place, for many reasons. Lucky for her she has a few friends who always have her back.

While I was reading, I had a few recurring thoughts.

First, even though I’m not yet a mother, I kept wondering how Josie’s mother could treat her so horribly. She acted as if she didn’t even want her (and maybe she didn’t). Her mother cared more about money then anything else on earth. She appeared vain and obsessed with looking young and beautiful. This attitude influenced her choices and put her on a path that led to some pretty shady people and events.

But we’re all entitled to our own decisions.

Josie was basically estranged from her mother. She wanted to leave New Orleans and had been saving since she was a child. I didn’t think it was fair that she was a smart girl who always did well in school, but because of her mother’s reputation, Josie was treated like trash.

But life is rarely fair.

Regardless, we can’t let obstacles stand in the way of our dreams.
I think my point is pretty straight forward. (Then again, maybe I’m wrong.) Either way, we are the decision makers in our lives. Everyday we make choices that shape our future, big and small.

Think of the decisions you make on a daily basis. Sometimes it can be as simply as what to wear to work or whether you should have that second cup of tea.

Now think of the major decisions you’ve made in your life. These are the decisions that have helped shape our lives over the course of time.

I know I’ve had to make some major choices in my life and sometimes these can be the hardest.

Everyday we come up against things we have to choose between, whether we realize it or not, and everyday we carve our path further and further and down life’s road.

Josie was born into a life she realized she didn’t want to be a part of. She didn’t want to be her mother. She didn’t want to be a prostitute. Her dreams in life and her ambitions were stronger than her living situation. She wouldn’t settle. Josie was faced with tough choices, but she always sided with the one that fit her morals and propelled her toward her dreams.

Just like Josie, I believe everyone has the opportunity to better themselves.

Isn’t that part of life, to overcome obstacles?

No matter your belief, I think we can all agree that the opportunities are always available. Sometimes they’re right at your fingertips and sometimes you have to fight for them.

A Love Letter to The Ocean

For me, the ocean resembles life in many ways. It’s always moving and ever changing. It’s beautiful and feisty. It’s loud and serene. It’s humbling as well as much more. I love the ocean, no matter what it may represent on any given day. Even if there’s a storm brewing, I find peace on its shores. So in an attempt to express my feelings I’ve written a letter, for you my most beloved ocean.

Dear Ocean,
From the first time I laid my eyes on you, I was captivated. I felt the swell inside my chest and I knew I would forever be yours. That first day, you were beautiful and elegant. You danced in your dress of blue with the white fringe, coming toward me and brushing my feet. The touch of you was cool and while others may have ran away, I did not.

In fact, when I ran, I ran to you.

Over the years I’ve found that you’re one of the few things that give me comfort. The rhythmic breathing echoes in my ears and I feel as though my heartbeat often matches yours.

At times you weren’t always nice. You pushed me and beat me down. You tested my patients as well as my love. I won’t lie, there were time I thought about giving you up, but our connection was to strong. I knew I wanted you, needed you, and somehow I felt like you needed me too.

You’ve taught me that life isn’t always easy, but we are ever changing. We grow and adapt. We learn to choose our battles and roll with the things we can’t control. You taught me that even the quiet ones can be loud. The ones who are graceful and beautiful can still be feisty. And the peaceful can also be strong.

I continue to enjoy the early mornings and late nights when it’s just the two of us. I love listening to all you have say and the way you lightly brush my hair and kiss my cheek.

I dream of you at night and think about you during the day. You’ve known me for years. You hold my secrets, dreams and fears.

One day soon I will be standing on your shore again. One day soon we will be together, if only for a short time. But don’t worry because we will always be one. You will forever be in my heart.

Love always,
Nicole

A Test Of Friendship

Think of the person in your life who you call your best friend.

Now imagine they’ve moved away.

They’re no longer close to you. They no longer have the ability to call you up on a lazy summer night and ask if you would like to go out for ice cream. They can no longer come to your house for sleepovers, nor can you go to theirs. They’re no longer available for last minute phone calls or quick crisis calls when you just need to talk to somebody. The days where you could drive or walk to their house ended in a few short months, more swiftly then you ever imagined.

So what do you do now? Do you continue the friendship, even though long distance is difficult, or do you let time slowly pass, the friendship and memory of that person fading away? The choice is yours, but I’ve learned that the best things in life rarely come easy.

About six years ago my best friend moved away. You may recall me writing about her in a previous post, Some Bonds Can’t Be Broken. She boarded a plane and flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Holland. I was left here to finish out my college years without her while she journeyed to a new country to start school and continue her life.

Holland is about 3,600 miles away. The first few months were difficult, for both of us, because we were used to having the other around. Although I’m not a mind reader, some of you may be thinking that’s not very far. After all, there’s cars and trains that take people miles and miles to their destination. However, even driving cross country from Maine to California is a shorter distance then flying from New York to Holland. (It’s 3,173 miles to California from Maine.)

The thing is…any distance seems far when there is an ocean standing between you and where you want to go.

Emails, Skype, letters, and packages are the things keeping us in contact. The fact that we seem to share a brain and she is more then a best friend (she’s like a sister) are the things keeping us together. While we haven’t seen each other in person since she left, we are still friends. If it’s possible, we’re closer then we’ve ever been.

A couple weeks ago I was having a really rough time. It was life in general that was beating me down and not having my best friend in the house down the road wasn’t helping. It wasn’t bad enough that I felt like we were drifting, growing apart in our own ways. (Of course I realized later that it was never true and my bad week(s) weren’t helping how I perceived things). I thought that being so far apart would’ve become easier over the years, but, if anything, it’s just grown harder. Now we not only think about all the things we used to do together, but we think about all the things we could be doing together.

One of the things I love most about her is that I can tell her anything (and she can tell me anything too). So, I wrote her an email. I poured out my heart to her. And afterward I felt horrible. I felt like I shouldn’t have told her all my troubles and thoughts about us drifting. After all, she was the one who picked up her life and moved. Yet, at the same time, best friends should be able to talk freely and that was one of the things we prided ourselves on; that we could talk to each other without guilt.

Turns out she was feeling the same way.

At the same time, we both know we’ll never fade from each other’s lives.

We mean too much to each other.

I think life tests you. Constantly. It throws different situations in your direction just to see how you will react. It tests us to see if we’re really as strong as we think we are, as kind, as compassionate, as smart, as happy (and the list goes on and on). The way we behave in these situations brings to light what kind of person we truly have become. At the same time, we are constantly growing, changing, maturing. Experiences help us grow, and while the soul of a person never changes, I’m not sure we are ever really done growing.

So, yes, our friendship is a bit different these days, but we’re still there for each other. We still use each other for “girl talk.” We’re there when the other is having a crisis, to share in each other’s happiness and sadness, or when we simply want to talk.

I’ve learned that distance is one of the true testaments of friendship. If it’s true friendship, then, nothing care tear you and that person apart.

In the end, I think it’s simple. I can’t imagine my life without her.

Can you imagine your life without your best friend?

A Birthday Message

Let’s show Mr. Andrew Shirley, lead guitarist of Switchfoot, some love, as he turns 41 today!

Happy Birthday Drew! You shred for a living, blowing us away each night with those sweet melodies. You have the power to melt our faces with one chord. Your smile is 3contagious and your humor flips a seeming bad day to a good one. You’re the star of Interesting Things With Drew. Your joker-face is disturbing (seriously, it gave me nightmares). You’re Dr.Ew, with a Ph.D in tones and guitar gear. You’re the master of disguise (especially when your shirt matches the upholstery). You have inspired me in so many ways and are one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (on numbers occasions…and I look forward to our paths crossing again). Thank you for everything you do, all the sacrifices, all the travel, all the tours. Thank you for making beautiful music and sharing it with all of us. We appreciate it and we appreciate you. I hope you have great day (as you celebrate in Australia) and one as awesome as you (although that’s a lot to live up to). I wish you all the best, always.