Reflections on 21

Reflections on 21:

I am sentimental. I get really reflective and to myself, when moments that are big or important start drifting by. Birthdays are weird, and I get weirder with each one of mine that pass. I will be turning 22 this Saturday, September 1, 2012. I needed to put the whole date because I am sentimental.

When I was 15 turning 16, I cried for a long while the night before my birthday. I listened to that song “your only 15 for a moment” and just bawled. I didn’t cry because I thought I was old or I didn’t want to drive. In fact, I have always craved to be older/smarter/wiser/wittier than I am in the present. I cried because it seemed significant, and I could feel it in my bones. I will never be 15 again, all the fun, and failures and friends. They may be here at 16, but it will be different than 15. I cried for the farewell to childhood in a lot of ways. I had a car waiting for me that I was responsible to pay for gas and insurance on. That meant having to get a job which also meant responsibility and learning the things of adulthood. I was also afraid that as I grew up more and more each year I would forget the wonder life held while still young. So the night before I turned 16 I wrote myself a letter to open when I turned 30. I don’t know why I picked 30, it was double my life at the time and seemed appropriate. I don’t exactly remember what was in the letter except little things about everyday life I loved at 15. I most likely wrote about love, begging myself to never give up on it. I was 15 and everything felt so real and poignant. The joys and the pains, I felt it all so fully. I have kept the tradition of writing letters to myself. At 20 I wrote myself a letter to open at 30. Then at 21 I wrote myself a letter to open when I turn 27. I am sentimental.

So now, to debrief the year of 21 for Shelby Kayann Unsicker…

I think it was one of the most special birthdays I have had. A group of precious thoughtful friends set up a table and string lights on the roof where we live. Kristin made me my favorite pie and they had champagne and pie waiting for me when I got home the day of my birthday. I had been dreaming about parties on the roof for a while, so they literally made my dreams come true. I don’t think I could forget that one.

I moved from an apartment I had lived in for a year without windows, to one that had four beautiful, glorious, enchanted windows. I hope I never take those shiny sheets of glass for granted, or the morning light and sunsets I see through them.

I saw the breathtaking acres of Amish country in Indiana. SOOOO WHIMSICAL. Some people dream of beaches and big cities, me, I dream of living with the Amish. There were 15 of us that took a memorable 15 hour road trip to Goshen, Indiana. That is one of my favorite trips ever.

Fall was glorious. So glorious that I put my Christmas tree up before thanksgiving. I got a lot of questionable responses from my “season purist” neighbors. I didn’t mind. I have to say from September to December is my favorite time of year.

I think I learned more about letting go at 21. I learned about contentedness and the hope that is in that.

At 21 I learned about my voice. I have been presented with more opportunities to use my voice and speak my needs than any other year. I think a good word to describe this year would be brave. Not that I’m trying to say I’m brave, but I think I experienced a lot of situations where bravery was required to use my voice, and to my utter surprise, bravery came.

I quit a job I had for two years that proved to be a very difficult one to go to and a difficult one to quit. But I did it.

I got a new job that I’m in love with. I love my job. Thank you Jesus for my job. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

I saw the Grand Canyon. That was breathtaking. That was a fun road trip. It was also fun sitting on the edge of the canyon watching the sun set with two sweet friends.

My mom found out she had cancer. Then had it removed. And now is going through chemo. I learned more about the strength that I already knew the Lord had given her.

This has been a very good year that has passed by so quickly. I am so grateful for my life. I love the people that fill up my cup and all the love and lessons I learn from them. I do not know that I have ever been this happy or this content in my whole existence. That feels really good. Most days I want to be older/wiser/smarter/wittier/prettier. But at 22 I hope to be 22 years young. To embrace the hope and wonder that 22 will hold. I don’t want to pretend I’m a decade older anymore, because I’m not. God help me to be present this year. Help me to soak and bathe in the good and the gloomy. I want 22 to be a version of 15, a 7 year older version. I want to take what I’ve learned and tear down all the walls I have built that keep me from feeling pain, but also halt my joy and glee at the same time. Oh happy day. I want to weep with the weeping and celebrate with the celebrators.

I think I say 1 about 14,000 times in this text. I hope Im not NarcIssIstIc.

Thank you for reading this rambling. Celebrate, reflect, be sentimental. Its kind of fun to remember.



An Ode to Words, Tree’s, Stories, and Leaping

An Ode to Words, Tree’s, Stories, and Leaping


Haven’t you ever wanted to snuggle deep and disappear?

Of course

Haven’t we all?

All the prophets and seekers of truth and longing.

The body, all of it. The desires are not estrange to it.

We are all the same in our wild needs to sink deeply.

To climb the round limber trees and leap full of fear and wonder, into that pile of words that seems to stack itself into a story.

A pillow to lay our heads on

Or revive our hearts to the truth that we have something to offer and something to gain.

Big and important things.

Things that would be lost without this voice and heart that has been entrusted to us.

We come through this world.

We are not of this world.

Living, enthralled in that reality, is stronger than all the lies.

Unveil yourself to the story.

Yours, mine, ours.

Thoughts: Failure and sadness

Restless…failing…sad and sorrowful

A couple of days ago I woke up and tears were spilling out of my eyes. That’s normal right? Waking up crying? I’m positive there are at least five other people in the world who this happens to. It’s not like this happens often. I am tremendously thankful for the thousands of joyful, wonderful days I live. But on this day, this particular morning I woke up very terribly sad. So there it began, washing my face of salty tears and the spiral of all the failure and sadness and sorrow of this life…I get these opportunities to love or to do things I love or to practice and every time I think I fail. Failure, it is indeed one of those mysterious fears I have. But what do you do with a fear like that? I mean it’s basically impossible to avoid this one. I do learn from it. Constantly. Constantly because there are things I think constantly fail at. Which is ok, it’s fine. I’m building character right? I don’t really know actually. I can only hope. 

            This brings me back to the sorrowful way I woke up. I had this awful dream that brought all of the feelings out inside of me that I was sure I had let go of. Then I went through the rest of my day a bit teary and heavy. In hindsight I love these kinds of days because I think there is stuff I didn’t realize I needed to work through until this stuff hits me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to write about it because I think the sadness and failure matters and is essential. We live in a culture that is driven by success and power, and if we don’t realize our own voices it is very easy to get lost in the sea. When I fail, I feel like my voice does not matter. But it does. So does yours. Your voice matters and it is important. So naturally when I need to remember the courage, I call upon the courage of those who have inspired me. PLEASE watch this speech J.K. Rowling gave at the 2008 Harvard graduation.

And here is the text of her speech.

Here is a particular part I love, that has helped me embrace the sad days…

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Ah so maybe failure, sorrow, and sadness is an ok place to be at on some days. I cannot claim to have gone through atrocities as some have. Even the ones I have gone through, I cannot quite measure because the person I have grown into because of these things. But we cannot compare our pain. Pain is pain no matter who is feeling it or what has caused it, and we can all empathize with each other because pain is just that, painful. I have sad days every now and then. On this particular day the sadness and restlessness came of something. I was stripped of something that I had been harboring and hadn’t even realized. Sorrow has a way of doing that. The happiness isn’t there to hide behind and we are just left with ourselves, as raw and ugly as it may be. I woke up in tears on this particular day because I had a very busy restless dream. One that revealed things to my conscience that I was working so hard to be unconscious of. This realization brought me closer to who I really am, and at the end of the day I do just long to be authentically me and do what I was undeniably put here on this earth to do, whatever it may be. It also made me write. The only way I worked myself out of the dark place was through writing and praying. One in the same sometimes. Some days we have to make ourselves get out of bed. We have to get dressed and go to work and in my case, care for a life that is not my own. It’s good for us, the work, the getting up, and its good. I’m only 21 years old. Life is still so full of hope and daring adventure. So while I started that particular day off very terribly sad, I’m thankful for it. I pray that I can be stripped of the inessential. Until I can finally do the one thing that only I can do, and be the person that only I can be. I love that woman’s speech. Her story draws me out of my restless sleep and brings me perspective. It brings me hope, and I pray it does to anyone who watches it and knows what she is saying to be true for them as well.

PS I have a goal of being better at revising things before I post them. So to all the grammar kings and Queens out there, I beg you to have patience with this scramble minded peasant girl who is still trying to have the patience to edit J

Thoughts, listen to yourself

If only I could explode with all the hopes and torn up questions inside of me.
Trying to appear perfect is still my goal.
I want to stop.
If only I could stop when I wanted to.
Oh soul, unravel your weary vibrant self.
Unravel your threads not to be tangled again but to be knit together like a scarf.
Remember all the courage you have seen and experienced.
Grab it.
Keep it close, in the pockets of your heart.
Stow it and steep in it.
Sing a lullaby, let it lull you into belief in yourself.
Believe in your worth. Trust in the reality of your existence as divine purpose.
Not planned by you, but Him.
Keep going when you just want to stop.
Keep moving when you feel like your getting no where.
When you are confused or complacent, force yourself to reach out your hand.
Throw away the skepticism and keep throwing it no matter how hard it comes back.
Don’t listen to the voice that sinks your heart under a rug.
Kick and scream yourself out of that waiting place.
Do not give up the fight.
Nobody is alone. I am not alone. You are not alone.
Build a shelter of rest.
Let the creator abide in you and you in him.
Stop separating the longing of your soul and his presence.
It is all connected.
Cry until there is nothing left.
Then start all over.
Never normalize or minimize this experience mentioned as life, or heart, or your work.
This work is important. This work matters.
It matters.
Let God fight your unworthiness.
Let Him fight for you.