For the Ladies.

Hello my dears.

It’s not always easy being a woman. I’m sure it’s no picnic being a man either, but I can’t really speak to that. But I know what it’s like to be a woman. To be told by society and church and people what you’re supposed to be, how you’re supposed to act, what you’re supposed to do, and how you’re to live your life. It becomes a cacophony of endless noise. So much to process. So many lies and half truths to wade through.

Sometimes the best advice is the simplest and the easiest.

These words are for all the good women who are trying to figure out life as best they can; some thoughts on men, life, and love. I hope they give you something to smile about, a bit of encouragement.

On Men…

Wait for the man who will never hesitate to tell you how beautiful you are, no matter the time of day or location or occasion. Wait for the man whose eyes light up when he sees you, whether you’re wearing a sexy black dress, jeans and a sweatshirt, the sweat from your workout earlier, your pajamas, or a mud mask you put on with a greenish hue. Because you are absolutely beautiful in every one of those moments and deserve the man who will recognize it.

Wait for the man who doesn’t tell you that you owe him your body, or that he’s been patient long enough, or that if you really loved him you would sleep with him. Wait for the man who doesn’t use your love as weapon against you. Wait for the man who doesn’t look at you and see all the things you can give him, ignoring the gorgeous, wonderful soul standing before him. Never settle for a man who demands what you aren’t ready to give. Never believe that by saying no you are missing out on your only chance to find happiness. Because happiness exists when your no is heard and your hesitance is respected. Wait for the man who will wait with you.

Don’t wait for the “right guy” or the “nice guy” or the “perfect guy”. Instead, wait for the man who is good, the man who is flawed like you and has his own past and baggage and bad days. Wait for the man who will share that with you, letting you see him for exactly who he is, not for what you imagine he should be. Wait for the man who will be himself with you; the man you feel safe being yourself with.

Wait for the man who will encourage you in your pursuits, who supports your dreams. Wait for the man who will dream those dreams with you, who believes in you even when you begin to doubt and second guess. Don’t wait for the man who tries to fix you, but for the man who makes you better simply by loving you for everything you are, faults and scars and all the good things.

Wait for the man who will be a true partner in every sense; for the man who believes you are worth pursuing; for the man who loves you and never hesitates to tell you.

On Life…

Take chances. Every day do something that freaks the hell out of you. Because the things we regret most later in life are the things we never did. Never let fear hold you back or convince you that you can’t do it or you shouldn’t do it. And just maybe the chance you long to take is the one that will change your life.

Be yourself. Be as weird, quirky, odd, awesome, nerdy, fashionable, sarcastic, passionate, creative as you want. Never apologize for being you, for doing what you love. Never believe that you have to tone down what makes you you in order to be accepted by those around you. Embrace who you are and share it with the world.

Laugh often. Because I think we’ve become far too serious these days. The world is a sad, desolate place, and we’ve let that seep into our bones and weigh us down. And that’s a shame, because there is so much in our lives that we can smile and laugh at. And sometimes we do stupid, ridiculous, embarrassing things. Laugh at those things, and remember them.

Travel wherever your heart takes you. We get comfortable in our little corner of the world. But there is so much to discover when you take a trip; when you hit the open road and drive until you can’t drive any farther. Until you reach happiness. Go somewhere new.

Know you are beautiful. There are days when you may not feel lovely or pretty or stunning or gorgeous, but even on those days, when you look in the mirror and can’t meet your own eyes, you are beautiful. You might not be perfect, and that’s okay. You are only to be yourself, completely and imperfectly. And every part of you – your body, your mind, your spirit, your heart, your soul – all of it is beautiful in every moment. Finally believe it.

Be kind – to yourself and to others. Life has a way of beating us up, and if we beat ourselves up in the moments in between, we never give ourselves a chance to be happy. So when life is hard and you feel defeated, remember you don’t have to always have everything together. It’s okay to be a mess, because you will always be strong enough to put yourself back together.
And be kind to others. For if you are fighting and struggling in your life, chances are that those around you are as well. Show kindness and grace rather than frustration and rudeness. Show compassion always.

Go after what you want. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of the things that we dream about, the secret passions of our hearts. We think we don’t deserve them or we’ve been told that we don’t. But you do. You deserve to chase after your dreams. You deserve the happiness that comes with making them come true. And perhaps it’s hard. But the best things in life will make you fight to keep them. So never stop pursuing the things your heart longs for.

Create things. Anything. Write, draw, paint, take photos, knit, make movies, sculpt, dance, compose music, scrapbook. Be artistic. Whatever it is that brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart, make it come to life. Because when you create you are making beautiful things and bringing to life a piece of your soul. You are making something special and wonderful that only you can make. You are bringing something into this world that wasn’t here before, and maybe you can bring joy and healing to someone else through your art.

On love…

Love yourself, because you are worth loving. You are an amazing, talented, lovely daughter of God. You are the only one in the entire world who is like you. Love yourself for all the good you bring into the world; for all the happiness and light you share with those around you. Love yourself because God created you and loves you. Love yourself because you deserve to be loved by the one who knows you best.

Love others, even when it’s hard. Everyone needs to be loved, to be told they are loved. We were created in love, and we crave that. So share that love with those around you, with friends and family. Love those who are like you and those who are not. Love those you make you smile and make you scream. Love those who seem unlovable, because they are the ones who need it most. In loving others, we better learn to love ourselves.

And lastly, I want to remind you that you are lovely and worthy and amazing even in the darkest times. You are strong. You are an inspiration. You are enough and you are good. And you are allowed to believe it.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.

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An Uphill Battle

Life has a way of leaving us defeated. We take a few hits and after awhile it’s hard to get back up. We feel used and bruised and trampled on. While the choices we make are our own and the decisions we make are our responsibility, sometimes things are out of our hands. We can’t control everything, as much as we’d like to.

Sometimes it seems as if we’re putting all of our effort into something and nothing is happening. We are trying to make a life change, to pursue better things that give us meaning, but every time we take a step forward, we are knocked back three. We finally find the direction we want to take; we understand God’s calling and our purpose here on earth, but every time we make a move to answer that calling, something stops us. We’re held back by a barrier or thrown off course by a detour. We can see in our mind’s eye where we’d like to be, what we’d like to achieve, but we can’t seem to get there.

Often I feel as if life is a tunnel and I’m in the middle of it. I’m surrounded by darkness with no way of knowing where I am or even which way I’m going. Am I moving forward toward the end? Am I going in the direction of my dreams? Or am I moving backwards, away from my goal? Have I ended up going in the opposite direction, further from the things my heart wants most? Will the darkness never end…

It’s easy to get lost or rather to feel lost in life. We get turned around in our fervent attempts to end up where we want to be. We go this way or that, or we double back to try a different path, or we hit a dead end. Life is a journey, but it’s not an easy one. It requires hard work, dedication, and the will to power on even when we feel weak and defeated. Life requires us to put into it exactly what we want to get out of it. Because if we aren’t willing to work and and fight for the things we want, how badly do we really want them? Do we deserve them?

Life is a kind of uphill battle; like fighting our way up a mountainside. Sometimes we encounter rocky terrain, and sometimes it’s a nice scenic hike. It can be arduous and take our breath away, and it can bring us beautiful moments that leave us smiling and filled with peace. With each step, we climb higher towards the top. We press on, because we want to chase after the dreams we see lying ahead of us. And maybe sometimes we lose the map or we have to turn around and try another path, but if we never lose sight of the goal, we will always have something to fight for.

And you will reach the top. You will summit the mountain, and find yourself looking back at where you’ve been. You’ll be able to see how far you’ve come, how you’ve grown and changed into the amazing, strong, inspiring person you’ve always known you could be. You’ll be able to look back and see the beautiful journey you’ve undertaken, even if it wasn’t the journey you originally set out for. The battles you’ve won and the dreams you’ve fought for.

But never discount the journey. Every hardship you face, every time you have to start over, every time you feel like crying and giving up is merely one step in a lifetime of steps towards the things you want most.

I think everyone deserves to have exactly the life they want. They deserve to pursue their dreams and make them come true. You should be happy every day, fulfilled by what you do and the relationships you have. You should be able to look around at where you are at this exact moment and smile because it’s what you worked hard for. It’s what you wanted, what you were called to.

And perhaps it wasn’t easy. The things worth having rarely are. But they are sweeter and more precious for the battle we fought to get them. They mean something because we put everything we have, body, mind, and soul, into making them our own. We have to struggle to find them and to keep them, but when we finally are able to hold onto our dreams, to see our goals accomplished and our deepest desires come to life, we can recognize the beauty in the fight.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.

Breaking the Rules

The other day my mother held me as I thought about the failure that was my life. As I thought about how stuck I felt, how restless and out of place I was. She held me tight as if her arms could keep me from falling apart. Funny, usually I can trust my own arms for that. But as the tears fell, I could only recognize that I couldn’t hold it together. And maybe I didn’t want to. Being comforted in that moment was almost intoxicating.

I should have stayed in grad school, I thought to myself between the broken breaths and whispers that I’ll be okay. I should have stayed with what I knew, with what was safe. I don’t usually think about grad school anymore; it’s been almost two years since I left it behind. It’s the closest thing I have to a bad breakup, or perhaps an unresolved one. In those two aimless, wandering years, I’ve tried to reconstruct my dream from the ashes; tried to recreate myself into something better. But a few days ago and yesterday and even today I can admit with wet eyes that perhaps it was a mistake to walk away.

Because when life doesn’t go the way you hope, you begin to look back and question your impulsive choices. You begin to lose the bravado and wonder if just this once maybe you had it wrong. Maybe I gave up and ran away from the best thing that ever happened to me.

I’m surrounded by reminders of my failings. The books above my bed are the textbooks I poured over in class. Reluctantly and with my own sarcastic commentary. I remember the late nights and long hours spent sitting with a book in my lap and pen in my hand as I tried to keep track of the events, the people, the criticism, the schools of thought, the other books and articles and essays that contradicted that one sentence in an ocean of sentences. I was perpetually drowning in a historiographical maelstrom, and I loved every horrid, stressful, eye-opening moment. I was on my way to something. I was making something of myself.

I can barely open the books now. They are a shining monument to everything I could have been. It’s the worst sort of poetic justice, the emptiness I feel when looking at a book. Sometimes I pull one from the shelf and just hold it. I remember the words, they swirl before me like a montage of my greatest love. Because history is my greatest love. My passion. My only romance. I adore everything about it. The nature of it and the idea of it. To me, history is everything. Or at least it was.

Did I confuse my passions, I wonder. Was I blinded by the cleverness and brilliance that I found between the pages of the books? Was it history I loved desperately, or just the words that brought it to life? Or perhaps, history was the safer choice. It was something I could contain and measure. Something I could control. With history, I knew always what I could expect. I knew the rules, and I became bored with them.

I don’t think I’m made for rules. But then, I’ve never picked the easy path. I like to throw myself off balance, I think. I try to ruffle my own complacency. And perhaps that’s hurt me a few times. I rip what my heart has chosen to love away from my grasp and toss it aside, telling myself there’s something more. Something better. I’m not sure that’s true. Not anymore. But maybe there is something different.

I love different. It calls to the restlessness inside of me. It challenges me. It asks me to try and be everything I imagine I could be. It looks into myself and says, “There are no rules. There are no limits. There is only passion and creativity and being yourself.”

I’d love to be completely myself. I’m not sure I’ve learned how just yet.

Or perhaps I have and that’s a bit terrifying. The idea that you aren’t constrained to anything. That you can be a bit wild, a bit crazy, a bit whatever you’d like. The freedom in that is mesmerizing. I catch glimpses of it every so often, but maybe I don’t believe in it. Maybe I try to reach for it, but the unpredictability of it frightens me, leaving me broken down and helpless and my hands empty. Because something within me longs to reach out and take that freedom for myself. But the moment I do, there are no more excuses. There is just me and my dream and my future, and I can make it whatever I want. I can be whatever I want.

I can be the writer who walked away from grad school. I can be the woman who questions every so often the choices she made, but still doesn’t truly regret them because they brought me here. And even though I’m more unsure than certain, the feeling I have when I sit down to write – no rules, no grades, no restrictions, no professors to please – is the best feeling. The only feeling worth having. I wouldn’t trade it for thousands of dollars and a piece of paper with my named scrawled under a fancy title. Because a degree can’t give me the joy I feel when I find just the right word for just the right sentence.

Maybe sometimes when we walk away, we’re merely choosing a better path. We’re walking towards something we need rather than clinging to something we don’t. And maybe the doubt, the frustration, the distressing confusion means we’re doing the right thing. Because the things that are important, the things that are worth doing are never easy. They take something out of us. They cost something. But they also allow us to move forward, to grow into the life we’re meant to live.

They allow us to be exactly who we’re meant to be, and that is worth everything.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.

I always had it, and I never knew.

Sometimes the words mean too much to me. They are straight from my heart, entangled in my emotions, and they fight to be put to paper. Maybe I want to hold on to them a little longer, bask in what they mean to me. Maybe they are such a part of me that it’s almost too much to reveal.

Today I sat down five times to write about “Flesh and Bone” by The Killers. I knew I wanted to write about something, anything from the album Battle Born. I had to. This album was what I listened to in the midst of my transformation into the writer I am today. These songs are what I listened to, what played through my mind as I allowed the words within me to finally be given life. These songs will always hold a special place in my heart, because in many ways, they set me free. They gave me strength. They were my anthem and battle cry as I moved into a new time of my life.

And yet, I couldn’t make the words fit like I wanted them to. I began. Then I began again. I listened to the song for hours, knowing deeply exactly what it meant to me. I was moved, every time it started over, and still the words wouldn’t flow. They wouldn’t leak onto the page. It was an unsettling feeling. It brought to the forefront my struggles with confidence. It reminded me that sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing. It illustrated just how little I know about writing. It was rather paralyzing.

But I couldn’t walk away completely. So I turned on the song again and let it fill my ears and soul. I closed my eyes as it washed over me. And then it came to the line “What are you afraid of?” And I feel as if those words echoed through my entire being. What are you afraid of?

What am I afraid of?

Everything.

I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of making a mistake. I’m afraid of being stuck. I’m afraid that I’m not doing what I’m meant to do. I’m afraid that I’ve let the best chances in my life pass me by. I’m afraid I’ll always be alone. I’m afraid of being abandoned. I’m afraid that I’m not a good writer. I’m afraid of trusting. I’m afraid I’m not good enough.

I could feel the walls closing in as the fears rushed over me. How was I meant to move on, to accomplish anything with the weight of fear in my heart? Goodness, I couldn’t do it. It was too much. The responsibility, the possibility of a disastrous ending. Was it even worth it?

Then I heard “And what are you made of?” And all I could think of was the verse in 2 Timothy that says “God did not give us a spirit of fear.” I may be made of many things, some which I don’t fully understand, but I am not made of fear. I’m not meant to let fear rule me. I’m made for great things. I’m made to take action. I am made of strength and power and desire. I am made of passion and words and beauty. I am made of so many wonderful things, each given to me by an amazing and loving God, but I am not made of fear.

And “I’m running out of time,” just as the song continues. Because every moment that I let the fear win, I lose the chance to do something brilliant. Whenever I listen to the whispered lies that tell me I can’t do it, that I’ll do it wrong, that I’ll make a mistake, I deny myself the chance to be exactly what God created me to be. I was selected for this life. I am meant to be absolutely everything I am. I am supposed to be a writer. It weighs on me, the need to share the words. And if I don’t pursue that with every part of my soul, one day I’ll look back and realize that it’s too late. I’m flesh and bone, a mere human bound to succumb to the decay of old age, and I’ve run out time to make my dream happen.

We wait for the perfect moment. We want the stars to align and everything to fall into place just so. When that happens, we tell ourselves, then we’ll go after our dream. We’ll pursue what we’ve always hoped for. When the time is right and everything is easy, we’ll watch it happen.

But it’s never easy. Life is a mess of bad timing and overlooked chances. Life won’t wait for the perfect moment. Your dream won’t wait for the perfect moment. We need to be willing to work hard to make it happen. We need to be purposeful and intentional with making our wildest dreams come true. Because if we don’t make them happen, no one else will.

Each day, we lose the chance to do what our heart tells us we are called to do. As the yesterdays pile up, we miss out on the opportunities to be exactly who we are meant to be and do exactly what we are meant to do. And we know it. We see the chances and risks we never took, the once in a life time opportunities in the rearview mirror of our memory. We hold them in our heart with regret, because the fear leaves us stifled. A fear the God has already conquered for us

The line near the end of the song that resonates with me every time is “And you always had it, but you never knew.” Already within me is the potential and ability to be exactly what I’m called to be. I already hold the key to unlocking my dreams inside of me. I need only to recognize and embrace it; facing down the world as I fight for what I want.

Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty entertaining.