I am and always have been quite a sentimental person. You know, the one that's like "oh my gosh, remember this?! That was amazing, I miss going _____ everyday - blah blah blah.." by this point the person I'm talking to is most definitely thinking - yeah that's cool and all but I get the point you LOVE this place/thing/person, get over it already. But in all honesty, I will probably never get over it. I've always been a nostalgia dweller, if you may.
A couple of weeks ago, some lovely friends of mine, Meg & Eli, and my boyfriend, Jake, booked a hotel for two nights, packed up our bags, and made our way up to Duluth, MN. We were all so excited to arrive in such a cozy yet exciting place in Minnesota. In my brain, the planner that I am, I had an endless list of places we HAD to go, no excuses. I was overly prepared to have the best time with these wonderful humans.
Fortunately, this place, the north shore of Minnesota in general, holds so many sweet sweet memories for me. You know, the moments I daydream about when I'm feeling bored. Many of being a kid, running around on the stone-covered beaches and hearing them clank against each other under the pressure of my little feet. Searching for the BEST rock I could find, and being so excited about it that I would have to show everyone in the family. Memories of biking along Lake Superior in Grand Marais with my best friend. Memories of that cozy feeling of playing card games around the bonfire with people you love, when the air is crisp but being wrapped in huge blankets was the perfect remedy. Nothing would or could ever hold back my happiness in these moments. Being a kid was forever exciting and it seemed as if every little thing was worth celebrating.
As I grow older and visit these beautiful places once again, I realize that I'm changing, life's a lot different than it was 10 years ago. Our lives are full of the unexpected, the scary, the filters, the illusions, the fears and anxieties. As we grow older our lives become more and more complex, like a bundle a yarn being woven in and out of itself. But sometimes God has a nice way of showing us just what we need at just the right time.
As the four of us drove, our worries and our fears seemed to have silenced a bit. They seemed to have taken a back seat as our minds made room for the joy, the sweetness, the well-being and the pure delight of life. As Megan, Elliot, Jake and I arrived in Duluth, as tired as we were, I could see the joy filling up our hotel room - like being little kids again, laughing, giggling, talking about what we were going to do the next day.
There's definitely something special about this atmosphere I'm describing. The time to finally leave all of our distractions behind us, and in return, focusing on what's truly vital and important to this life we live. For me, going up north always brings me a sense of clarity. It brings me back to the present moment, a few seconds in time where I'm so joyful to be where I am that I run and actually fall (like a "face-plant-in-the-rocks" kind of fall), this did actually happen when we were up north - I'm a dork but hey I love this life. Or even at one point during this trip, we were hiking, and it was DOWN-POURING, and lightning - yet we were determined to see a waterfall so we kept on trudging forward. I heard Meg and Eli yell behind us so I quickly spun around. Of course - they were laughing, soaking wet from the rain, and slipping around in the mud and trying to get out. They were LAUGHING. Boy, I love 'em. What I'm saying is that it's so healthy to have carefree moments like this, like being a kid again. Rather than constantly being distracted by work, drama, technology, worry - whatever it is for you. Being away from my day-to-day distractions made me feel forced to let go of things that weigh me down - stress, anger, frustration, worry, anxiousness, expectations, tiredness - in order to fully focus on the people I'm with. I later replaced those harsh but necessary feelings with joy, love, acceptance, openness, and trust.
Being home and looking back at all this, I'm so glad I let go of those harsh feelings, I didn't ever push them away, but just accepted where I'm at. Because the people to be around are ones who love you exactly where you're at. Every flaw, every imperfection and every mistake. I remember walking along the beach and talking with Megan and she had said something about "growing together in the struggle." How beautiful is that? No matter what is happening in your life, huge or microscopic, an argument or a loss - you can always choose to grow through it with people who love you, although it may be difficult at times.
If you can take anything away from this ramble, stream of consciousness type of blog post, please let it be to allow yourself to feel joy in every circumstance, even if that's only a little bit. Although under certain circumstances it can be extremely difficult, it will always be necessary to seek joy and hope as much as it is necessary to feel pain and sadness.
Where or when do you find your joy? I would love to hear you thoughts!