Trickling Tangles

All of us have friends. But what kind of friends do we have? People, especially parents, remind us all the time to choose our friends carefully. They tell us we become who our friends are or that our friends show our true colors.

But if that’s true, then who am I? Because I have my best friends who are deeply religious. People who would try to do anything for God. Friends who would stand up for God against anyone in just about any situation. The friends who see God in everything.

And then I have the friends who don’t care – who you either like or don’t - people who don’t really think twice about language. I have the friends who drink & smoke. The friends who like to party. So who does that make me?

Yet it’s more about what I believe. I mean, in every human I see a unique person. But I also see more than that. I see my parents argue with people who don’t believe in religion, and shun people who strongly disagree with them. I see how my friends who believe in God avoid the people who party. I see people who use foul language & drink hate religious people for telling them that they’re wrong – dislike them because they don’t try to understand. I see that they think religious people don’t care about them – just about what they do. I see that – all of it.

The problem is, how can we be religious and then avoid the people who aren’t? Or can we be the "bad guys" and block out the others? How can we condemn people without knowing them – without knowing why? How can we change anyone's views if we act like that?

It’s like in the movies, where someone’s in a tough spot, and their friend says, “It’s not that bad.” And the other person replies, “What are you talking about?? You don’t know what my life is like – you’ve never been in my shoes!” We can’t know exactly what it’s like to wear someone’s shoes, but we can’t shun people without trying first. I guess the problem with me is that I wanted to see the other side, and so I did, and I didn't just see the bad.

So if I’m really judged by my friends, who am I? Because I see the good & the bad, the black & the white. But I also see that I can't be ashamed of the people I love.

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&thanks to my followers :)


Our Time

Do you know what you want? In school we’re striving for the good grades, trying to make friends, maybe taking a shot at being the social butterfly or playing some sports. Then we’re applying for colleges and moving into a new world where we’re expected to balance studying & partying. Soon, before we know it, we’ll be graduating, getting a job. There’s time to get married, maybe buy a house. These are goals we’ve set up – or expectations others have set up for us – things we’re supposed to do to get somewhere in life. The things we’re supposed to want.

But then what?

Once we’ve done all that, once we have a steady job, a family & house, – then what? Is that it? When we’ve done everything we thought made life worthwhile, are we really supposed to be settled & happy for completing the world’s goals that define life?

Because there’s more than that. I mean, don’t we want to be remembered - change the world? Or would we be happy with the settled dust after building a house – our life. Planted like a tree with roots, not a bird that soars above them. Do you know what you want? Why you’re living? Do you? Are you going to make a difference – be different?

Are we going to use our voice? Our words? Are we going to make our life a life worth living? Because a voice is there to use, words are there to wield. We can change the world for the better, as others have changed it for the worse. We can help people, because people helped us. We can use our voices because we know how. We can fight with words, because they’re the puppets of our minds.

Do you know what you want?

Because there’s more to life than just being happy with worldly success. There’s a reason you’re alive – and if you don’t think so – then make one. We have to make our lives count, because it’s our turn to face the world.

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Just to let you know what's up . . .

I did it! Last weekend I finally took my black belt test. For the first day I had to demonstrate nine memorized forms, basic punches & kicks, sparring, and board breaking: the regular stuff. Then, the next day, I had to spend two hours straight just running, jumping, weightlifting, and doing push-ups & sit-ups. It's not exactly as easy as I first thought it would be – getting a black belt. I mean, a few failed the test and three people actually got sick during the workout.

But it's over - and I can hardly believe it's over. It's a little like preparing for Christmas, how it can take weeks to get ready, and then suddenly it's gone before you blink. But I have to admit, even though someone couldn't see it from the outside, I was a bit nervous.

And it's crazy how some challenges, like a black belt, are just goals made by people for people. It isn't like our lives depend on them - it isn't even like a job, a marriage, or someone dying. Yet we can get so worked up about them. It's kind of funny. But even so, these little challenges we get so worked up about - they're something from this earth that I might just miss in heaven.

Because when you complete the challenge - give it your all – there's hardly a better feeling. You know, the feeling where you feel like jumping up & down, or singing from a rooftop - or dancing in the rain. It's the feeling where you can't have a bad day, even if you do. It's when you feel like running - like laughing at even the stupid jokes. And that - that feeling - can sometimes make any challenge more than worth the risk.

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Shining Candles

Isn't it amazing? Whether we're in a train station or a doctor's office - in a traffic jam, or a mall, we brush past hundreds of people every day. People with different pasts, unique presents, and strange futures, all brought together in one place for a little time with various reasons. It's amazing how different we people are - strangers to each other - and yet, something has brought us together in a single place. I mean, we'll probably never see those people again, probably not remember who bumped into us with a shopping bag, or passed us up an escalator.

All those strangers are just that - strangers. Which is why we don't really care about them, which is why it doesn't matter if we see them or not. But sometimes it just feels like my heart wants to burst. Because I know everyone wears a mask. And I want to know what's underneath – I want to dig deeper.

Because under the mask, beneath the face, is someone who has troubles that they don't know how to confront – that they don't want to show. There’s someone who has a heart. Someone who can be hurt. Someone who wants to be seen. Someone who can be loved. Maybe someone who wishes they had a friend. And no matter what someone has done, I believe that they are beautiful because they are so vulnerable. I believe they are beautiful because they are human - they can change – because they have potential.

We sometimes like to think that we're tough, that we don't have hearts that can be easily hurt. Yet people are so helpless sometimes, even if every day they pretend they aren't. And that's why I want to give away my whole heart sometimes – just to help strangers. I'm not sure why – maybe it's because I wish someone would want to do that for me. And I want to hug them. I want to tell them it'll be okay, because it is.

I want to be there for the people who don’t think they have anyone – people who think no one really cares. Because, as impossible as it may seem, I do care. I peek past the mask, and I always see someone beautiful. I lift off the armor, and there’s a heart.


A Little Something just for You

What can I say that’s not yet been said?
When I can’t seem to get you
Out of my head

You’re amazing
But that hardly describes it
You’re beautiful
But there’s so much more to it
You’re marvelous, wonderful, and incredible
You’re funny, smart, but also unforgettable

What can I say that’s not yet been said?
When I can’t seem to get you
Out of my head

You’re only everything to me


A Story or Two

“Jo, hurry up! It’s time to go.” Dad called from down the hallway.

“Now? But we don’t have to leave for another twenty minutes!” I called back.

“I’m hungry, I want to go eat during your gymnastics class & get a head start - hurry up!”

Oh, well. I started getting ready, packing up my bag – getting my water bottle. I wished he had told me earlier.

“Come on – time to go!” He was getting more impatient by the second.

“Okay, just a minute.” His frustration was rubbing off onto me. I heard footsteps coming to my door, and a hard knock.

“You know what? If you don’t hurry up, I don’t care whether you want to go to gymnastics or not! I’ll just go eat and leave without you.”

“Ok, go.” Maybe it was better than getting upset – maybe I wanted time to cry.

“I might just do that.” He couldn’t stop. “What are you doing anyway?? Trimming your toe nails or something?” He stormed away from the outside of my door. I gave up. I didn’t want to be in a car with him. I’d rather cry. I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself, I hate doing that. But the mind can’t always control the tears.

Two minutes later, “Honey, come on.” It was Mom. The one who watched. The one who saw. A mirror without a reflection.

“I don’t want to.” I brushed away those stupid weak tears. How could I be hurt again? I should be numb to it. It was stupid to cry over something so small. But the something was wrong.

“Sometimes, when you’re hungry, you say things for emphasis.” Mom was right. Because when you’re hungry, it’s okay to lose your patience. When you’re blind it’s okay to hurt. When people are being mean to you, it’s okay to pass along the mood. When you’re deaf, it’s okay to say anything. It’s okay - all of it.


“I’ll have lemonade and a brownie please.” I smiled at the cashier.

“That’s all?”

“That seems to be all that Hannah’s been eating lately.” Mom wanted to explain.

“I know what you mean – these teenagers don’t like to eat what’s good for them.” The cashier threw a look at me. Cashiers were only supposed to do that in the movies. I wanted to say I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted the lemonade, but Dad had said to get a brownie. Mom didn’t remember.

I took a sip of the lemonade, and hid the useless brownie in my purse.


“Hey, Joannie, I was thinking-”

“What??” Dad interrupted. He was driving the car.

“I wasn’t talking to you, I was talk-”

“Then don’t talk at all, Karen! I’m paying attention to traffic.”

“Dad, please don’t talk to me like that.” Say what you feel, right?

“HERE! Take the map – you tell me how to get there.” He threw it back at me.

“But I don’t know where we are or where we’re going.” I felt helpless.

“Too bad.”


These stories have their own voice – don’t assume they’re me. But also don’t assume the stories are fake – that something like them never happens – because they do. They have. They happen to kids all the time, and it’s so sad. I hate it – I hate how some parents forget to treat their kids as people. I hate how many kids are abused, especially with emotional abuse, because children can’t run away from it. I mean, first of all, kids think that they’re the ones doing something wrong. Secondly, even if they realize their parents are wrong, they can’t escape. They’re stuck – they can’t prove with physical bruises that something is wrong.

So please don’t say that Jo, Hannah, and Karen are overly sensitive. Don’t tell me they’re being silly – crying about stupid things. Because that – it does hurt. And when the people, or parents, that children love & look up to the most, put them down - it’s devastating.

Do you know what it does? It makes children want to do anything for anyone to make them feel accepted like they never were by their parents. It makes it so hard for a person to believe when someone tells him or her how great he or she is, because the children are used to the parents saying “I love you,” while their actions say something different.

Children or teenagers, they – we - deserve better than living all the time like that. We all deserve more than scars ingraved inside - than bruises flowing through in our blood. We deserve more than keeping journals - journals that make our hearts crumble.

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Round & Round

My sister used to have a hamster, and we would be so captivated just watching it. Around and around, over and over, in circles he would run the race inside his little wheel. He seemed to enjoy making our eyes dizzy while he scrambled along. We’d laugh, thinking it was so cute. It’s kind of crazy when you think about it: put a wheel in a hamster’s cage, and it runs automatically. You don’t have to teach it, train it, reward it – the hamster just willfully runs towards his endless destination.

But why do the hamsters run? Don’t they realize they’re going nowhere – getting nowhere? Or maybe it’s because the running wheel is the one chance for the hamsters to feel free & wild inside the cage of metal. But it’s a sort of hopeless hope. Those silly little hamsters.

But if we’re laughing at the hamsters, who’s laughing at us? Because sometimes I’m the hamster, running for my life, round & round in circles, never getting anywhere. Running in a wheel, not even realizing that outside my race, there’s another challenge: breaking through the bars of my own little world. Running, but not moving. Free, but captured.

We keep running for our goals, for freedom, for change. But sometimes it seems like we're going back to the same place - back to the start. So we run faster & faster - that's what we need to do, right? When we can't get something, we chase after it more. But so often we don't realize that dreams can't always come true in a week - that we can't change the world to perfection in one day. And then, when we do realize we can't achieve something immediately, we can loose our passion - loose our fight. It's so easy to give up.

So instead of running, sometimes we have to wait. Wait with patience by the door of our cage - not run within it. Wait quietly. Wait carefully. Until the door opens. Because if you can get in, you can get out. Because if dreams couldn't come true, then we wouldn't have dreams. We can't give up because it's easier. We can't quit because we want the miracle now - because we can't wait. We can win. We can do it. Hold on a little longer. Because the only things worth winning, are the things worth fighting for.

And I still shake my head - those silly little hamsters.

(would love to hear your comment)


Stolen Secret

I've never told anyone this before, but when I was little, like around five, I started a prayer list. I'm very good at making lists – all you need to do is ask my big brother :) I used to keep a list of ten or fifteen things he did that made me mad (he's never let me forget it either!). Or you could ask my old driving teacher: I could remember all the rules he gave, one by one, on how to parallel park. Chat with my old camp counselors, they'd describe how I could memorize everyone's names after hearing them once. Question my Mom – all I had to do was study a spelling list for ten minutes, and I could take the final test. Yes, a memory is such a gift – even though it can also be a terrible curse.

My prayer list isn't ordinary – actually it's a bit peculiar. It started when I was shopping in the grocery store with my family one day, and heard a little girl screaming. Actually, she was my age then. Her parents were yelling at her right back – hitting her. It struck me as wrong; it struck me as terrible. So I decided that I owed that memory to her – that I'd never forget her.

Then there was the blond girl & her boyfriend outside the restaurant in the bright red pick-up. I was absolutely fascinated with them – they got stuck on my list too. And there was the boy who won a game, picked a prize, but then traded it back for something an elderly lady wanted. There was the man that opened the door & gave up his seat, and the person who needed more money for his family. And the guy with the fluffy shirt in the doctor's office.

They're engraved in my head – my prayer list. They're people that I thought were extraordinary in extra ordinary ways. I can remember all of the situations vividly – I can tell you where, I could tell you when. Every detail imprinted, carved onto my mind, on purpose – with a purpose. People I noticed, who never noticed anyone noticed. That's me.

So when you think no one's watching – don't overlook the little girl in the corner. Yeah, she looks too young, and yes, she's pretending not to soak you up in detail. But she could just be remembering you – praying for you – forever.

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Just a Little Ant

My Dad finally bought some ant traps.

Normally I might be against the traps, but this year the ants chose to create chaos. I mean, you can see the masses of tiny bodies swarming up the columns of the front porch – trying to slyly sneak in the windows. They'll crawl along zigzag – starting to go one way, and then instantly deciding the other way looks better. It’s like they have a little creek to follow, with its own twists and turns, ups and downs. They’ll bump into each other like boats, and then back up, keep going. Yeah, they love to keep life exciting.

But even though the ants are crawling all over, it’s so easy to get rid of them. Of course - most of us know that. I mean, it’s no big deal: we step on them & they’re dead, right? Seriously, it’s not that hard to crush a bug - or swat an annoying fly.

But have we ever thought how easy it is to bring them to life? Kill an ant and it's dead forever, it’ll never come back – do we ever think of that? Of course it’s just an ant, but that’s why it’s amazing. Something so small, yet once we kill it, it’s gone, and we can’t even bring it's life back. We have such power over death sometimes. But that’s the reason we have to be so cautious over that authority - because we don’t have such a power over life.

And on a bigger scale, look at us. It can be so easy to die: crashes, poison, diseases, guns, knives, etc. Humans have the power to kill & and humans can be easy to kill. But how dare anyone kill for no reason, especially since when someone’s dead, they’re dead. They can’t be brought back to life – the same person, the same personality, the same time. It's crazy how some people abuse this, but it’s just because they don’t understand.

When I was younger, I heard all the time about people dying. “Three people died this morning in a fatal car crash,” the emotionless radio would tell me, or “Hundreds died in a gun fight” in another country, the journalist would write. And I’d be like, okay. They died. I don’t know them, they’re people - faceless people - and they’re far away.

But, if I really thought about it, I’d be amazed at how strangely terrible the news was that I heard. I mean, I’d imagine that people who died in the news, were people I knew. One was the loyal friend; always there for me, the other had the biggest heart, another always joking around & lighting up the dullest party. And if we think about hearing people die, if we imagine them like that, we can grasp reality just a bit more. Someone’s gone who will never come back, that unique personality lost forever. We need to recognize what power we have over death.

Because life – it’s so precious.

(let me know what you think!)


We think we know . . .

Have you seen a child cry?
Have you ever been alone?
Have you ever wished you might die
In a single moan?

Have you ever been rejected?
Left out on the street
Have you never had a friend
Who turned on you to cheat?

Have you heard your parents fighting
Like there is no end
Have you never wondered
If you’ll make it ‘round the bend?

Have you ever had a broken heart
Beating, thrown away
Felt it being torn apart?
Hoping for one day

Have you seen an orphan
Sitting by a can
Wondering where family is
Captured in that white van

Have you ever known an addict?
Ever seen the pain
Ever wanted to help out
If there was a way

Has there ever been a day
Where there was no food?
Or maybe the worst for you
Is just a terrible mood

We think we’ve been dealt
The worst of life
But have you been threatened
With a knife?

Life's been blown away
We say
But some have only one way
For today

Don’t you see what hate can do?
Even to just a few
Don’t you see that selfishness
Can ruin not only you?

Can’t you see that we can make
Even a better world
If we just stopped to take
One look

One look at what
We might have missed

(feel free to comment!)