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Young and Wild and Free


I dusted off the box before I carried it up from the basement, unearthing its contents onto the dining room table. It was an attempt to organize the boxes we would soon stack into a U-haul as we moved away from our house that held generations of memories. I became distracted with the task at hand and got lost in a spread of old yearbooks, birthday cards, and hand-drawn stick figures with happy faces and big hair.

Somewhere buried in the box was an autobiography written by my eight-year-old self at the request of my third-grade teacher. I smiled as I read the list of details that seemed to matter greatly at the time. A list of details about my cats, my favorite book, food, and even my favorite number.

But I stood and paused, blinking long and hard when I read one line seemingly lost in the middle:  “When I grow up I want to write books.”

In my everyday life in the here and now, I am working on my first book and blogging my heart out, and you are reading it. So that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you as the reader. But here’s the thing–it was a twenty-eight-year journey back to that desire.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot the creative desire God had placed in my heart. Somewhere in the minutes, hours, and days that form my past, I lost the inhibition to freely voice what I thought I was capable of without fear of criticism or disapproval.

Maybe I got lost in the starring roles of my life. In motherhood and my career.  Perhaps it was that moment in junior high when I looked at that girl who sat three rows over and decided I would never be as pretty as her.  Or that summer by the pool when a guy commented on my weight in a manner that was unwelcome and not flattering that played on repeat in my head.  Maybe it was the interview I bombed or the vows that got shattered, or some other failure along the way.

I don’t know the moment, but that desire placed on paper so long ago returned and began to stir again in the most unlikely of places. I would sit on my bunk in that state correctional facility and enter my own sanctuary and safe space through penning my words. The letters were my lifeline, scribed from a place within my own heart still untouched by the wear and tear of life and time.

Even so, I would smirk and laugh when my husband would urge me to launch back into writing, not taking his encouragement seriously and doubting my own ability to express myself in a way that others would connect with. He persisted, and each time I would stick my toe a little further into the water, curiosity eventually giving birth to re-engaging in consistent writing, and the return to myself. The return to that eight-year-old version of me that was daring enough to give voice to her dream.

I often watch my daughter as she twirls in her third wardrobe change of the day and pretends to be a ballerina. Uninhibited. Unashamed.  And maybe it’s because I smile in adoration and she feels the safety of knowing she is loved. Or perhaps it’s because she hasn’t been carried away from that place within herself that is young and wild and free.

May God return us to those plac