Airplane travel is a suspension of time.

This is what I think as, for the second time this summer, a jet plane taxies down a Houston runway and lifts into the air, the city spread out below with a beauty that shines only in the dark.

It’s hard to really comprehend that not even twelve hours before I perched on a bench in the stifling heat of Clute Park for Across Life’s Mosquito Festival performance, and just a few hours after that I curled up with Penny, my ditzy, klutzy, adorable red heeler, to catch a few hours’ sleep. (To no avail, of course, but that’s not her fault.) Up at 2:30 a.m. Get dressed, grab bags, and climb into the backseat of Dylan’s dad’s truck for an hour’s drive to the airport. I can honestly say I haven’t done an early-morning flight like this in years, while my parents and I used to do them every summer. Now, it’s 6:07 a.m. Houston time as I type, and I wonder where these past hours escaped to, even though I know.

The sun peeks over the horizon now; soon, we’ll land in Atlanta, and then we’re off to Cancún for exactly the kind of vacation I’ve always dreamed of: sunny warmth, white sand, and blue water.

Time moves forward as slowly as an airplane feels, but we’re on our way.

Bella Journey

I want to promise that this is the last time I’ll ever do this… and my intent is that it will be. But the truth is, I just don’t know.

I can’t say that I’ve always entertained the idea of blogging, but for the past two or three years, it has often crossed my mind, and I have tried it. But the problem was always, what to write about? What would people care about, be interested in? And once I have a theme or topic in mind, how to present it? After all this time…maybe none of that ever mattered.

If I’m being honest—which I’m trying to be—this is attempt number…let’s estimate 12, at blogging. At writing for the public. At this moment, as I type the first entry into the Day One journaling app on my iPad while my plane to Houston from Frankfurt takes off, the idea was inspired by this new magazine I’ve just barely begun reading called Bella Grace. The tag line on the cover declares that “Life’s a Beautiful Journey” and, carefully reading to savor the first few pages, they yank me into that realization. Life is meant to be absolutely beautiful as an entire picture, and too frequently it is a lack of view of this entire picture that forces us to think that life couldn’t be any worse, and to treat it that way. I’m one of the guilty ones—too frequently pessimistic and narrow-minded. I’m here to change that.

Even though perhaps I should, to my friends and family who have seen it again and again, I won’t apologize for my many different attempts at blogs and my failure to stick with one, and for the eventual disappearance of every one of those before. Why am I not sorry? Because to me, those unlasting attempts were a way to help me figure myself out at the time, and for this moment. To learn about me. Who I want to be. What I want to say.

In this Spring 2016 issue of Bella Grace, one of the stories is called “Before I Die” by Rachel Paukett. Inspired by words stenciled on an outdoor wall, she asks herself two very specific questions:

“What do I want to do more than anything else before I die?”

“If you were free to be yourself, who would you be?”

To the first, I would have originally answered, “Write and publish a novel” which has been my biggest dream since childhood, and the only one I’ve really held onto over the years. But suddenly, my answer would be “Follow a dream” because it holds so much more possibility and promise, without disregarding my dream.

The second question, for me, brings up another that I have often asked myself lately: “Who do you want to be? What kind of person?” and I continue to explore that, as I have over the course of my entire life. I’ve been popular and friendly, and unpopular and unfriendly. I’ve been honest, and I’ve been a liar. I’ve been optimistic and adventurous, pessimistic and reclusive. I’ve been the realist, the idealist, and the cynic. I’ve been my friend, and I’ve also been my enemy. Basically, since childhood, I’ve tried on all different personalities, and played with all different attitudes, and every day I still have to ask my mirrored reflection, “Who are you, and who do you want to be?” …Right now, as usual, I don’t have a complete answer. But I’m only 22.

My friends seem to know who they are, and they all have graduated from college as of this Spring. At least one of them already has a job, and another is on her way there. Not me—and I’ve joked that I don’t know whether the fact that I’m still in college makes me feel like a slacker or an overachiever. (A: Double major : overachiever.) My boyfriend seems to know, best of all of them, who he is. I think I know who people want me to be. But what about me? My opinion matters, and right now, the jury is still out. Juries can take a while to deliberate—and trials are more akin to marathons than sprints. (Not that I’m athletic enough for either.) Life is a journey. The journey to know and to love yourself as you adventure to discover new surprises every day.

“Never let a day pass without looking for the good, feeling the good within you, praising, appreciating, blessing, and being grateful. Make it your life commitment, and you will stand in utter awe of what happens in your life.”

— Rhonda Byrne, Bella Grace issue 7, p. 19