This is the first year that I have stayed in Lincoln for the fourth. The last couple years I have gone to small towns, and they know how to celebrate. Usually I am in Hooper, watching parades, eating cotton candy, enjoying family. A couple years ago I went to Creighton/Neligh/Norfolk – very similar, but add in pigs and mud.

My favorite thing about the 4th of July in years past has been going home for my neighborhood’s display, which is surprisingly impressive. They hire a band to play. They have a wall of fire. In the morning, there is a parade consisting of 1 month olds in strollers to 13 year olds, decked out in red, white and blue and riding their decorated bikes down the middle of the neighborhood.

This year, I did nothing.

Today was the first day since the beginning of June which I had 100% control over what I wanted to do. I had intentions of major house updates – either staining the fence, painting one of four rooms, or shampooing my carpet. While I didn’t do any of those, it felt great to upack the three suitcases on the floor, and do some general touch-ups and clean-ups.

In short: I slept in, and got things in order.

I later went to a movie with my roommate and his friend. What else would we see on the Fourth of July – Magic Mike. Haha, it was exactly what I expected it to be, but was entertaining. Immediately after I went to work, and have been working like a manic since.

The booms have started going off, which is probably why I suddenly can’t work any more. I’ve turned off the lights and am typing by monitor light as I catch an occasional firework go off over the skyline. Honestly, I’m able to see more from my office window than I could or would even try to at home.

I’ve come to realize that being single, more often than not, means no one cares. You are no longer anyone’s primary go-to person, and no one is obligated to go to you. I have lots of friends that I am constantly in touch with and am their first friend, but I’m always #2 for breaking news in their life.

It’s not bad. It’s freedom.

Happy Independence Day.

The last day of starting over

Some JJ in honor of girls weekend in KC!

To describe all the details of my life over the year would be lengthy. So much has occurred that it’s hard comprehend 2012 is over half over. I don’t even keep track of days anymore. I stay busy, make appointments, make lists.

I saw a quote last week – “you don’t know how much strength you have until that’s all you have.” Between everything that has happened the last six months and seeing what so many of my friends are going through (by the way, when did we all become so effed up?!), I see life a much more differently. Another relevant quote retold to me as said by a 92 year-old, “the older I get the less I know.” I feel like I just gained 40 years.

The best part is that i learned that when bad things happen, life goes on. Even when there is so much going against you, life keeps moving forward. The worst thing you can does not move with it. Life is an extremely positive experience – I truly believe that everyone has a good soul and naturally tries to help other people, and that God does have a plan for everyone in every situation. Just close your eyes and don’t stop moving.

I’ve been dealing with a lot especially in the last month. So much so I had to make a ‘life to-do’ list prioritized by importance and deadline. I set an alarm on my phone for 12:20 every weekday, and forced myself to tackle one thing at a time during my lunch breaks.

Just do one thing. Not everything.

It worked. Its not a coincidence on the timing of everything coming together either.

You know when those terrific Midwest thunderstorms come through? Sporadic, with charcoal clouds. The temperature drops, the winds kick in and huge raindrops fall. So big it sounds like hail. It pours for just a little while, catching so many helpless people trying to sprint to their cars without umbrellas. They are soaked. Gutters can’t keep up with the water, and entire parking lots are turned into pools. In the midst of the shower, the sun is out.

I have that feeling when it’s raining and the sun is shining.

My storm is finally breaking. Life has continued to move forward and I’m already helping friends with their storms. It’s an indescribable feeling, but it makes me so excited to embrace it. To run back out into the world barefoot with whatever clothes I have on, look up at the sun and laugh.

What happened?

No, I’m choosing not to spill my guts online. I had already typed through a very dumbed-down version of my life as a train wreck, but feel that thinking everything through took weight off my shoulders. Curious? Ask, but I can’t guarantee the deep-dive version. Scared? Then you don’t know me enough to get the details.

Here’s what you do get to know, broken into three easy stages:

1. Love. Ring. Lonely. Distance

2. Walls. Isolate. Homeless. Wild.

3. Faith. Rebuilding. Empowered. Present.

I’ve learned many things in the last eight months, the primary being that I have truly great friends. Not the quality that invites you to ‘girls night out’ or texts you to make sure you are going to the bridal shower, but the kind that give me their spare house key and garage code, and let me just sit while they go get us food. The kind that can cry in front of, and aren’t concerned that we’re in public, but ask me what I’m going to do about it. The ones who have/are going through things even worse than I am, but give me inspiration to keep on keeping on everyday.

I’ve also learned that laziness is the root that leads to a declining spiral. I found that even driving makes me to jump to a zone where I didn’t have to think or react to anyone. Red=stop. Green=go. Follow the person in front.

On the contrary, never underestimate the power and efficiency of routines.

I will say that I couldn’t have asked for my ex to react and treat me better than he did. Way better. Seriously, like 20 times. I gave up on myself as being a decent person a long time ago, but can’t think of a time where he gave up on the person I was burying inside. He knew I was still in there, and I finally made it back. We are still friends because he could deal with my dumbshit carelessness and apathy, when I had tuned out any sort of painful emotion or sympathy.

So what next? I’ve already been single longer than I ever have been, and don’t even know where to start figuring out the rules for dating at 25. I don’t even know if I want to date; I can barely even comprehend myself. I’m starting over, cutting the excess from my life, and focusing solely on being better.

A better friend, a better athlete, a better Christian, a better worker.

Focus and simplicity. My story of rebuilding a life with less starts here.