what did you keep, what did you leave

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Someone sent me this picture this morning, and I haven’t quite been able to stop thinking about it: so I decided to answer this poem’s questions. It’s written by Dallas Clayton, a LA based children’s book author who is my first obsession of 2015.

“WHAT DID YOU LEARN LAST NIGHT ABOUT HOW A YEAR SHOULD END”

A year should end in people’s company you want around in the day to day, not with people you never care to see again but surround yourself with to feel less lonely. People who will be there in this new year to cheer you on and cry with you. Maybe a year should end with new friendships forming over drinking bubbly champagne and sprinting to the street to see the fireworks through the trees. A year should end celebrating with old friends that have stood the test of time, dancing your way into yet another year together.

“ABOUT HOW YOU BEHAVE WHEN THE GLOVES ARE OFF”

I relax. I sink into trusted friendships, into deep conversations that take place in a simple look across the room, into dance moves that would be mocked if those around me weren’t doing even sillier ones.

“AND HOW YOUR TIME COULD BE SPENT”

My time could be spent creating. It could be spent making things I’ve stored up in my head for decades, making things without needing them to make me. I could create with reckless abandon: creating because it’s life to my soul. I could read books long settled on my shelf, I could dance more often, I could find more time for the One who knows me best. I could spend my time trying to understand people rather than judging them. I could be more free in who I am and how I am.

“WHO DID YOU SEE THAT YOU WANTED TO SEE”

I saw girls I have grown up with, kindred spirits who walk with me daily no matter how far apart we are. We shivered in the crisp night air, giggling and dancing like we were as old as we were when we first met. Most days, it feels like nothing has changed. I’m realizing there’s almost nothing more life-giving than a friendship that feels like settling into a big comfy chair.

I saw friends I’ve made in this last whirlwind of a year, friends who welcomed me in and adopted me into their little makeshift family. Friends who I’ve found myself spending hours with these last 365 days: in coffee shops on Sunday afternoons, in movie nights cuddled in blankets while it rains outside. Their faces became havens to my wearied soul and helped awaken it again.

I saw someone who found little ways to make me feel known- pulling me away to dance when I least expected it and sitting with me in a parked car to talk through our days. This someone picked off a lemon from the tree and handed it to me. “I got this for you. Happy New Year,” he said with a sly smile and a snicker. I danced the rest of the night with it in my mittened hand, and have plans to make lemonade with it. I’ll probably get handed a few more lemons this new year, and I’ve heard that’s the best thing to do with ’em.

“AND WHO DID YOU MISS FROM WITHIN”

I missed one person in particular, one who was far away & with whom I welcomed the past three new lonely years with. We’ve stood fiercely together since I can remember and it didn’t feel like a new year without her at my side. She must have missed me too, I’m sure.

“WHAT DID YOU KEEP”

I kept my excitement for life. I kept my sensitive heart. I kept my fight for those I love. I kept my newfound joys of sewing shirts with buttonholes and cooking fancy pasta dishes. I kept my passion for standing my ground boldly. I kept my goal to be known as meek.

“WHAT DID YOU LEAVE”

I left needing to check my phone every four minutes. I left my bad attitudes and my bad excuses. I left my fear. I left my insecurities that are out to choke me. I left my judging eyes and condemning heart. I left my fight for perfection. I left my shame.

“AND HOW WILL YOUR NEW YEAR BEGIN”

That’s the real question, isn’t it. I hope with joy & boldness.

happy 2015, folks.

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