I just committed blogger’s suicide.

I went two whole months without writing a new post.

Even if my creative muse decided to leave me for someone else who woos her with a unique vocabulary, unexpected plot twists and crazily tangled hipster beard, I could have come up with something to write weekly.

 

My husband, Nick, reminds me that I have a wealth of knowledge that many people are eagerly awaiting to illuminate their computer screens in simple black and white.

 

“Liv. Why don’t you write about simple things like:

 ‘Top 10 Travel Tips for Parents Flying with Children Overseas’ or…

 ‘Five Important Practices for Communicating Cross-Culturally?’”

           

Although I know he and the web experts are right, I have my learned response. I smile, nod quietly and inwardly reply.

 

“Sure, Nick. While I’m at it, I’ll add in the topics I am TRULY an expert on:

‘Six ways to gain 5 pounds over a weekend’ or ‘Three ways a Flat Chest is Best?’”

 

The muse texted me her break-up message and it was clear she left me for a few reasons.

 

1.     Getting rejected from an MA in Creative Writing program from two prestigious universities honestly took some wind out of my sails. If I was not good enough for them, what makes me good enough to write on the world wide web?

2.     I am an introvert that has been living out of a suitcase and traveling full-time on the roads of America [with my husband and two children--all extroverts} for the last seven weeks. Although it has been a summer filled with smiles and memories I will likely keep close forever, I have had zero time alone. When I live in that realm, I am in survival mode of the soul. Creativity flees and has no food stored up for survivors.

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3.     I often resemble a brown-haired Alice in Wonderland. Without even realizing it, my heart is so full of fantasy that I live in a world of talking rabbits and smiling Cheshire cats. In my pursuit of magic cakes, tea parties, and a posh game of croquet, the beauty of reality somehow just passes me by.

 

I have been living and working in Tallinn, Estonia for the past four years. This summer has been a time of rediscovering some of the people and places in America that formed my life.

 

On the 4th of July, our family sat on the banks of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We could see the fireworks radiate above the illuminated skyline of skyscrapers. As I looked out, I realized that our children sat in the exact location Nick took me the first night of my adult life.

 

I was seventeen and had lived my childhood years in a Victorian home on Felix street in St. Joseph, Missouri. My parents loaded my entire bedroom into the back of their van, drove seven hours north, and moved me into my first dorm room at college. I stood, waving goodbye, in front of my university, as everything I had ever known drove away and left me to study and survive on my own.

 

Nick had already attended the same college for a year, and knew I needed a place to process the huge transition I had just been plopped into {although he assures me he was simply hoping for a good make-out session}. We sat in his car, with that same view of the lake and skyline, and I leaned my head on his shoulder and just let silent tears run down my cheeks.

 

That memory ignited a barrage of mental pictures I hadn’t allowed myself to explore in so long.

 

On our wedding day, I was 19 years old, and can still sense my dad’s nervousness as he walked me down the aisle. I can see Nick’s big smile and tears as we said our vows.

 

Seven years later, Oliver was born. His cries could be heard throughout the hospital wing, as he took his first urgent breaths of Minneapolis air.

 

Our summer days back in the Twin Cities make me nostalgic, and I started to browse through the oldest archives of my Facebook profile. There I found a video of Ava’s very first moments on earth in that same hospital. She looked beautiful and calm. I looked young and somewhat distant as she laid in my arms for the first time.

 

Detached. I noticed something was missing. During the most beautiful moments of my life, a part of me was gone chasing rabbits.

 

No passionate kisses on my wedding day. I think I was somewhat embarrassed to let myself feel so totally in love.

 

No tears when either of my kids were born. I somehow had endured the painful task of birth, and failed to realize the utter life-changing miracles that laid on my chest.

 

I am far from emotionless. Believe me, I have always possessed the ability to cry like a baby at an emotional movie. I have to work to not sob out loud when reading a gut-wrenching novel.

 

I, like Alice, am a creative soul that is far more comfortable in the world of talking caterpillars and mice drunken on tea. My address has been in Fantasy Land far too long.

 

Some of us who dream of doing great things with our lives tend to set up camp in this Land. We wait for our Prince Charming. Some day, we believe that we will be the heroes of the story. We fail to realize that while we linger in a dream, all the TRUE beauty of reality escapes our notice.

 

This summer I have tried to climb back out of the rabbit’s hole and to live fully present on the banks of my real life.

 

When my daughter Ava Grace comes and rubs her nose against mine, whispering that she loves me, I pause and live in the moment. Instead of the words ricocheting off the shield that protects my inner daydream, I let them sink in. The feeling of a little girl’s love rouses my heart and, if I let it, I can feel it radiate its warmth all the way to my toes.

 

When Nick tells me that he thinks, at the age of 37, I am still the most beautiful woman in the world and wraps his arms around me, I try to enjoy the fact that such a man exists. I remember the smile I saw on my wedding day. I recall the countless times I have leaned my head on his shoulder and made his shirt wet with a pool of tears. I can still see his eyes when he coached me through terrible pain and then softened at the first touch of our babies’ hands.

 

This morning, Nick and I allowed ourselves to leave the weariness of the road trip and work behind. Of course, I still noticed how my bathing suit revealed all the imperfections of my body, and my sensible soul did not have time to get cold and wet. But, for a moment we joined our children in forgetting it all. We took turns running along the pool deck and doing cannonballs in the explosive water. We wrestled one another until submersion and cheered on little Ava as she swam the length of the pool for the first time.

 

This summer, we have tried to give our children the best America has to offer--a vacation in Hawaii; a day in Disney Land. Yet, as we walked, dripping, down the hotel’s halls to return to our room, the kids both exclaimed, “This was the funnest day ever.”

 

We had given up on the fantasy, and the present became beautiful.

 

I have spent far too long being so concerned about fighting for my own dreams, that I have been trapped inside one.

 

And I have a hunch.

 

The more I live in THIS world, the more I actually become my dream.

 

THIS world is filled with love, laughter, tiredness and grief.

It is filled with missed opportunities; unexpected open doors and pathways.

We age. We sicken. We engrave memories on our hearts.

We read to our children; snuggle our exhausted partners in bed. We take real, practical steps towards accomplishing our dreams. We stay up late and work diligently. We choose to fulfill and live in the beauty of our commitments--even if it means we can no longer run franticly after the heights of our extreme potential.

 

Somehow in the mess of our real worlds, the dream becomes a reality. We no longer shuffle along, slowly with the average King of Hearts soldier in Wonderland. We were designed for more. Our eyes open to see the vivid colors on the shores of OUR lives, and we finally learn how to run with the horses.

 

What do you want to achieve? Greater riches? Cheaper chicken? A happier life, a longer life? Is it power over your neighbors that you are after? Are you only running from death? Or are you seeking greater wisdom, deeper piety? Life is difficult, Jeremiah. Are you going to quit at the first wave of opposition? Are you going to retreat when you find that there is more to life than finding three meals a day and a dry place to sleep at night? Are you going to run home the minute you find that the mass of men and women are more interested in keeping their feet warm than in living at risk to the glory of God? Are you going to live cautiously or at your best, to pursue righteousness, to sustain a drive toward excellence? It is easier, I know, to be neurotic. It is easier to be parasitic. It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average. Easier, but not better. Easier, but not more fulfilling. I called you to a life of purpose far beyond what you think yourself capable of living and promised you adequate strength to fulfill your destiny. Now at the first sign of difficulty you are ready to quit. If you are fatigued by this run-of-the-mill crowd of apathetic mediocrities, what will you do when the real race starts, the race with the swift and determined horses of excellence? What is it you really want, Jeremiah? Do you want to shuffle along with this crowd, or run with the horses?

 

Excerpt from Eugene Peterson’s Book about the Bible’s Prophet Jeremiah:  Run with the Horses: A Quest for Life at Its Best

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