Ashley Wilda

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Tag: Free

Strong Enough

When I realize I’m not strong enough.

When I feel like I’ve failed when I thought I just might be good enough.  Yeah, I was on the edge, but I thought I tried hard enough…

I tried my best.

But my best wasn’t strong enough.

I immediately think of all the things I’m doing wrong, all the things I could be doing that I’m not, comparing myself to all the other people–because, obviously, they were strong enough.

And I wasn’t.

They’ve got something I don’t–and I’m gonna run myself into the ground until I get it.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be strong enough.

Sometimes I don’t think they can know that the littlest word or phrase or touch or look can light up my day or rain on it.

I don’t think anyone understands how badly I want this.

I feel like I can almost guarantee that I want it at least just as badly as the most passionate person there–at least as much as the most determined, yearning, wanting to be included, to be strong, to win.

And yet–I still wasn’t strong enough.

I didn’t realize how bad I wanted this–didn’t realize until I didn’t get it.  It’s always this way for me–there’s nothing I can do to change that.  I always say I care, but I can handle the disappointment.  That I’ll be fine either way.  But no–and deep down I know I’m telling a lie to myself.

But at the end of the day, I know… that it’s not about being strong enough.

It’s about running ’til you can’t breathe, pushing ’til you can’t stand, fighting until you win or lose.  It’s about straining every last muscle and pulling every last breath and shouting, rooting each other on until you lose your voice.

It’s about learning.  And playing.  And loving those around you.  It’s about doing something fun and crazy and taking a deep breath through your nose and feeling sweaty and powerful and new.  It’s about embracing the game and being there for your team.  No matter what.  Winning is great–but that’s not what it’s about.  That’s just the icing on the cake, if you’re lucky.  But that’s not what it’s about.  Yeah, I know it sounds cliche–

But it’s not about being strong enough.

It’s about being you.

And when I think of it this way, think of it as the grass prickles my neck and two lone stars shine through the yellow light of the street lamp–

I remember.

Remember the way the whole team is so close, like a brotherhood.  Remember how I want that, yearn for that, long to be part of that, accepted.  How they didn’t act like I was new.  How they didn’t disdain me for my limitations but accepted me with them.  How I got passed to and messed with from day one.  How I respect my captain, as a coach and as a team player and as a person.  How I appreciate every high five, every look of respect, every team huddle, every “We are UR.”  How I feel wanted whenever someone takes the time to help me out.  How I felt on top of the world when he told me the strengths he sees in me–basically, that I belong on that team.  That they all want me on their team.  How I’m part of another family again.

And they’ll never know how much that means to me.

They see my commitment.  They see how much I push myself for the last everything I have in me.  They see how I smile when I play and how my face goes grim and intense when I’m determined, when I really get into it.  Hey, I even got a nickname today, because I don’t go down easy.  They hear me when I cheer them on, accepting them as I hope, I think, I know they’re accepting me.  I love even the pep talks, even when others just smile, I feel something.  I love this essence, this tangible thing, that we have with each other, on and off the field.  We are family.

I think it’s called a team.

So whenever I get frustrated with myself, think myself weak.  Inadequate.  Insufficient.  Not good enough.  Not strong enough…

I will remember–they think me strong enough.  More than that, they think my heart big enough.

And that’s enough for me.

-stone dragon

Wings

Tonight’s a big night.

The last night in my own bed for a while.  The last night of summer for a year.  The last night with my family in a long string of nights.

Tomorrow’s a big day.

The first night under a new roof.  The first reunion with my friends.  The first in a long string of celebrations of just living.

Tomorrow, I spread my wings.

I want them to be strong.  Big.  Powerful.  Gentle in their brown soft feathers speckled with sunlight.  Gentle in their strength–yet ready to whip the wind.  Shape it to my command.  Ride it, soar me high, anywhere I want to go.  To anyplace.  To anyone.  Following my heart, at my will.

But not only are my wings strong–they are wise.  Faithful.  Loyal.  Intelligent.  Not only at the beck and call of my heart but also in line with my head.  And on a perfect day, those two will never be at odds.  The center of their compass is love. Home.  Constancy.  Protection.  Sacrifice.  Ferocity.  Forever embrace.  Reliability.  Adventure.  Love is all of these things–love is my friends and my family.  Those dearest to my heart.  Those I would give anything for at a moment’s notice, although I may strive to see the small needs right in front of my nose.  Although my wings fly on the call of the wild and the whisper of the unknown on the wind, they train true to the strong beauty of love.

When I spread my wings, it will mean six things–

I am ready.

I am strong.

I am free.

I am brave.

I am an explorer.

I follow my love.

And when I get a little scared, and my wings wobble a little even as they hold me up–

I will remember to be confident, and trust the One that gave them to me.

Right Now

Do something stupid.

Jump off a cliff.  Lie in the road.  Roll down a hill.  Take a bike ride to nowhere in the middle of the night.

Go on, do it.

I’m serious.  Right now.

Now, you ask?  Yeah, now.  Right.  Now.

‘Cause if you don’t do it now, you never will.

If you play it safe, you’ll never be alive.

What if I told you your life is in danger.  Right now.  What are you gonna do about it?  Anything it takes, of course.

What if the only way to save your life is to risk losing it.

Throw caution to the winds.  Heck, throw yourself to the winds, literally.

Adrenaline is your friend.  So is the wind, and the waves and the earth and water and fire and dangerous, possibly not-so-legal acts and the runaway beating of your heart.

Live to the beat of the music only you can hear.

You don’t not drive even though it’s dangerous, right?   Even though, at any moment, you know that your soul could be blasted into the sky.  You don’t let yourself be dictated by those fears.  Don’t let yourself be controlled.

I hate to break it to you, man–the same principle applies to everything else.

The world isn’t safe.  So don’t pretend it is.

So do it, go do whatever makes your heart beat faster and your breathing quicken and your hands shake.  Jump out of planes.  Climb cliffs.  Paddle whitewater.  Soar with the birds.  Pick you adventure, it’s everywhere, you’ll find it inside.

Our number one priority should not be safety–it should be living.

Some things are more important than staying alive.

Routine and comfort zones and luxury and money and safety and even education are your worst enemies.  You can only trust your fears.  The wild.  The open spaces.  All the things you swore never to do.  Listen–they tell you what you should do, not what you shouldn’t.

Be rebels.  Be creators.  Daredevils.  Risk takers.

You are the only ones who can change the world.  Edge your toes over the literal no trespassing signs and the stark white lines and the metaphorical limits drawn in the sand.  Let that rebel spark ignite you, consume you whole.

Be you.  You’ll be hated for it.  You’ll be loved for it.  You’ll be feared for it.  You’ll be admired for it.  But you will never fail to challenge and inspire.  Never stop living big, living loud, no matter what anybody tells you.  Close your ears to the haters, and listen to your heart.

And one day, the world will wake up to find its shackles broken open on the ground.

So paint with your fingers, howl at the moon, dance with the stars, spin till you fall over in a laughing, breathless heap. Wear your hats backwards, rip holes in your jeans.  Get dirty, roll in the grass, pick flowers, pieces of multicolored velvet sky.  Grow your hair long, cut it short.  Breathe deep, or dive even deeper.  Kiss often, and hug even more.  Smile most.  Laugh always.  Wear bright colors.  Go barefoot.  Count clouds instead of sheep.  Confound it all, skip sleep altogether.  Watch a sunrise and sunset in the same day, and be just as awed by every one you see.  Never underestimate the power of letting go and riding every opportunity to shore.  Freedom and happiness can be found on every star, adorning every wildflower, tucked away in each seashell, and hiding in each clasped hand.  But most importantly, you’ll find them within yourself.

Be bold, be brave, be true.  And you’ll be more You than anyone else.

Be impulsive, not rational.  Feel, not think.  Believe, not doubt.  No matter the circumstance.  And you will get through, and shine all the brighter for it.  Love others, love God, love life, love adrenaline and adventures and spontaneity and unexpected good times–and you will be all the better for it.

It’s your new world.  It’s all yours.  A little scared, you say?  Good.  Now go live it.

Right now.

Wonder

There’s an essence that is one of the most precious in the universe.

An element that’s becoming increasingly rare.

A fleeting bit of childhood that slips through adult fingers almost without fail.

A shining bit of quicksilver undervalued and dismissed although it glints precious, almost extinct, right at your fingertips.

What is this treasure, you may ask?

Wonder.

Yes, wonder–that thing that you were born with and have somehow lost along the way.  That thing that sly time and this overrated experience called “growing up” have begun to strip from you.

And I’m telling you, no, begging you–hold on for dear life.  Yes, for your very life, reader–for life is much, much dimmer and dingier without wonder.

If you want to see what you once were, look at a child.  Really look.  Listen.  Feel.  Learn to recognize that thing that lights up their eyes when they gently cup the velvet petals of a white and yellow wildflower in their small fingers.  That thing that bubbles up in their laugh when they fly through the air on a tree swing, eyes closed, arms outstretched to embrace the breeze.  That thing that inhabits their voice when they bury their nose in the new spring grass and say, “It smells green,” or when they reach their hands up to the sky as if their fingers could graze the white, fluffy clouds and say, “They’re so soft.”

Next time you watch a child, don’t dismiss their antics as “childishness.”  Instead try to see the world through their eyes. Become like a child again.  Try to rediscover…

The story in a strain of wordless music.  The way a book can make your heart beat faster.  How a picture can take your breath away.  The excitement and eagerness and the dash of danger that floods you when you stand beneath the ocean waves.  The wildness that overtakes you when you sprint, barefoot, along the deserted shore.  The way the soaring of a hawk can lift your heart with it.  The way the feel of grass under your bare feet or the wriggle of a newly unearthed worm can make you giggle.  How a hug can be the safest place in the world.  How joy can be a whole-body experience, not just a thought.  How wonder can imbue your life with color again.

Take nothing for granted.  Seek out every little beauty, for there is beauty in everything.  Wonder is hidden in plentiful pockets and caches for the open-hearted treasure hunter, if we will only seek.  And this lifelong search just keeps on giving.

Will you become a seeker?

Not a Tame Lion

We do this–put him in a box.

A safe box.  An ordinary box.  A decidedly normal, smiley, unmessy, unradical box.

So when we hear about miracles, healings, spurts of uncontained joy and the roaring of the Spirit–somehow we manage to cover our ears and say, “It can’t be real.”

Not only is it too good to be true, it’s too scary to be true.

We don’t want action to be required of us.  We want to stay comfortable and safe in our sane if a bit dull little worlds. Sitting in nice houses with nice jobs and nice friends and nice hobbies.  And yes, these are all good things.

But not at the expense of ignoring the call.

You know, the call.  The call of the Lion.  That great roaring, that’s decidedly not safe, but also undeniably thrilling, wild, and good.  The rebel in each of us is drawn to that echoing, commanding, immediate call.  It’s the same drawing that we all feel when listening to tales of intrepid explorers facing imminent danger and insurmountable odds, ignoring the naysayers and the danger signs, fighting through the evil until they attain the unimaginable… the uncharted mountain summit.  We hear the tales of their struggles and follow their progress, trying to appear not too eager, but inwardly our heart sings when we hear their victory shouts at the peak, standing with arms spread among the wheeling of the eagles.

We feel this.  This defiance.  This urge to set off on adventure of the mind and body and soul and suffer a bit and push through and do great, never-done-before things.  This is what the call awakens in us… and once fully realized, it can never be unheard, never quieted.

No one can ignore a Lion roaring in his face for long.

Unless, of course, he is deaf–made deaf by his own luxuries and fears and expectations.  By the world’s acceptance and even endorsement of small hearts and little love.

So unstop your ears, sleeper.  Take up your belongings tied in a bandanna on a stick, dreamer.  Lace up your sturdy shoes, adventurer.  For this will be the greatest adventure of your life.

Follow the Lion.  For he his wild.  He is dangerous.  He is powerful.  He is defiant.  He is radical.  And he is free.

And so are you.

“‘Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Ooh!’ said Susan, ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’…’Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“‘He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.'” -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Girl, without the Y

When I was younger, I hated the fact I wasn’t born a boy.

I hated having to smell nice, look nice, act nice.  I wanted the oft’ wryly said phrase “boys will be boys” to apply to me.  I wanted to live “free and in the wild,” as I told my parents.  To own a horse in my backyard.  For ages I firmly believed I didn’t want a husband, ’til one day I declared I had changed my mind–he would be useful for shoveling horse poo.

Although my opinions about being a girl have slightly changed (I do want to marry, and not just to acquire a stable boy), there are still many things about being a girl that bug me to no end.  Crossing my legs the feminine way.  Wearing skirts that force me to shorten my steps.  Shaving–completely unnecessary in my opinion.  The inability to wrestle with the guys.  The shortage of girls that don’t mind blood and sweat and dirt and good hard work and adventures and wild places experienced fully and up close.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized one thing…

My version of femininity is up to me and God.

I can be a girl without the “y”… being “girly” does not have to be part and parcel of being a female.

So this… this is what has risen up in the soul of me and trumpeted itself clear and I will not disobey its call.

I will go barefoot as much as possible.  Run in the rain.  Laugh loud and hearty.  Splash in puddles.  Play in the mud.  I will wrestle when I can.  Play stupid pain games with the boys.  Be more comfortable with proving myself physically than in petty social games.   Ooh and ahh over fuzzy green moss rather than flowers.  I can shout loud and try hard and grunt and strain with the best of them.  I can climb tall cliffs and swim in freezing lakes and splash up forest streams without a care.   I can get psyched at the growing callouses on my hands and feet.  Take pictures of flappers and blood blisters, battle wounds.  Be proud of every single one of my scars, and know the stories that I carry with them.  I can love big, and love hard, and love unreservedly.  I can prefer bear hugs over side hugs.  I can choose jeans and flip flops over dresses and jewelry.  I can love bright colors over pastels and lace.  I can feel most comfortable in a tank-top, flannel, and hiking boots.  I will prefer to eat my food simple and outside and end the days with campfires.  I can smell like wood smoke and good ol’ hard work.  I can howl at the moon when I feel like it, star spin when I feel like it, pick my crazy friends how I feel like it.  Love like my heart’s leading me, laugh as joy explodes with in me, be free and wild when the urges overtake me.  I can be impulsive.  I can be silly.  I can be adventurous.  I can be me.

Me, Ashley Elizabeth Wilda.  Or just Ash, what my closest friends call me.

A woman.  A girl.

Not girl-y… no, just a girl.

But still me.

And I like myself better for it.

© 2017 Ashley Wilda

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