fixing what’s broken

les fleurs

I woke up Sunday morning to sunshine, and pink blossoms on the trees, and a sky that is all kinds of lovely blue. I woke up to my favorite kind of a Sunday – one that is equal parts lazy and uplifting and inspiring. I went about my normal routine slowly, methodically, with plenty of time to relish the feel of the fresh spring morning, and plenty of time to think. {Note: this post is a few days in the making, hence the words about Sunday, when I’m posting on a Tuesday, but the majority of it is the product of my Sunday musings!}

So today I have some thoughts for you about brokenness, and a little bit about change, and a little bit about potential. A while ago I wrote another piece about brokenness, on a night where I felt terribly broken myself. What I have to say today has a different tone than that, though, and most of these ideas have been spurred by situations I’ve seen around me lately, with one person’s situation in particular (who I hope reads this at some point).

Broken. Meaning not whole, not complete, something missing. The most basic picture of broken that comes to my mind is that of dishes. I picture circular plates, and clear glasses, and well-loved bowls lying fragmented on the light-brown hardwood kitchen floor, the result of a hastily moved elbow, or a slipping of the fingers. I picture something that is no longer fit to serve its purpose of holding food, but instead is simply destined for the trash, and an unknown landfill, somewhere on the edge of town.

And the thing about broken dishes is that no one usually breaks a plate or a cup or a bowl on purpose. Well, maybe you do, if you’re my dad and you have visions of garden mosaics in your head that your family will only ever chuckle and roll their eyes at. But not many people frequently go around breaking dishes. When these items are broken, it’s by accident. One thing leads to another, and suddenly you have this pile of colorful pieces lying at your feet.

I’m a person for finding lessons in simplicity, so I’m going to go ahead and dig something out of broken ceramic and shards of glass.

Life happens. We are humans, imperfect, and flawed, and – at times – very, very much broken. Broken by circumstances, or by choices, or by consequences, or by emotions, or by doubts…take your pick. Everyone has their own form of elbow bumps or slipped fingers that lead to those pieces on the floor. I don’t think that anyone intentionally brings something into their life that they know is going to break them. As much as trials make me a stronger person, I can’t honestly say that I’m the kind of person that invites them. Just like anyone else, I’d rather stay intact, thank you very much.

But life happens. Life brings beauty, but it also brings imperfection, and struggles, and so many, many factors that jostle us around and lead us down unwanted paths and quite often break us.

But the thing about broken is that it is a far cry from destroyed, or vaporized, or obliterated. Broken can be fixed. Yes, it takes some effort, but it is one hundred percent possible to reach down, pick up those pieces, and put them back into their proper place. Whether it’s a broken friendship, or a broken life, broken can be fixed.

I’ve heard a handful of adorable stories over my life of little children who accidentally break a parent’s cherished china dish and then try their hardest to glue, or tape, or rubber band the fragments back together again. When something that has value gets broken, you make the effort to fix it. Think about that for a sec.

Also, in order to put something back together again, you need some form of glue or something to get it to stay, so you’re not just fitting pieces back into a puzzle just so they can get dumped out into a mess again as soon as the puzzle is flipped upside down. From what I can tell, life-glue has many forms, and there are often many types of life-glue needed to fix what has been broken. Life glue can be found in the form of apologies, or confessions, or faith, or hope, or belief, or Christ, or prayer, or late-night talks, or service, or scriptures, or running, or yoga, or hot chocolate, or sunrises, or really anything.

We are all broken in some way, and we all have a go-to life-glue for whatever situation we might be in. I have my thoughts and deep-seated beliefs about what is the true life-glue, but to each his own – I know that not everyone shares the same thoughts. But find your life-glue.

Broken can be fixed. Never, ever, ever toss up your hands and give up. Never. 

You have something inside of you that absolutely and completely strong enough to pick up those pieces at your feet.

Sometimes this is a hard fact for me to tell myself, since it is usually about twenty-one times easier to just look at those pieces and cry and throw a pity party and then pull out the trash can and neatly sweep up the remnants up and throw them away. Despair is a real feeling. Hopelessness is a real feeling. Helplessness is a very, very real feeling. But giving into those feelings and throwing away all chances of wholeness brings a worse feeling, and a more enduring feeling, than all of those combined.

And yes, change is hard. Fitting pieces together until they turn back into a plate takes time, and effort, and patience with the methodical and often slow process of figuring out which piece goes where. Looking at the whole mess in your hands is overwhelming, but great things take time, and piece-by-piece it will come together again.

And yes, I know that there’s no possible way for me to have any idea what everyone in the world is exactly and specifically going through. But I do know that broken, in one form or another, happens for everyone. And I have no desire to streamline everyone’s problems at all – in fact, far from it. Broken hurts. But I know for a fact that we haven’t been dealt anything that we can’t glue ourselves back together from after the impact. 

I have faith in you. If you’re that one specific person reading this right now that I’m sort of halfway writing to, I have complete faith in you. And even if you’re not that one specific person, I still have faith in you. There is light in you. There are gallons and gallons of hope. You have everything in you to turn around and face that light. You know where it is, where you can find it, and you have wonderful people right behind you, backing you every step of the way.

Broken can be fixed. Messed up friendships, or situations, or relationships – whether we were the ones doing the messing up or not – can be mended. Broken can be fixed.


other places to find me (because making friends is fun, right?!):

twitter >>> @tessabrynnk

bloglovin’ >>> life and loveliness

pinterest >>> tessa kohler


to paint my present beautiful

“do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -buddha

this made me stop and think for a minute when i read it. i understand not dwelling in the past, and making sure to live in the present moment, but not dreaming of the future? um, i pretty much exist to dream of the future. romance, marriage, kids, nyc…you name it.

but in a way, i do see the truthfulness of this quote. it’s important to be happy in the now. happiness comes in loving this journey, every inch of it, no matter how disgusting and discouraging life may seem.

i’ve found that there is a sense of peace, unlike any other, that comes from taking a moment to just sit, and be. to live for even just thirty seconds, perfectly in the present, perfectly grateful for all of the blessings around you, perfectly whole, and content, and full of compliance with the world…that’s a beautiful moment right there.

i’ve been trying to take more of those moments for myself lately. just snatches in the middle of each crazy day where i stop worrying about what’s going to come next and what else needs to be done and instead take a moment to recognize the bounty around me.

i’ve found that life becomes a little bit like a prison when all you can ever see is the future, and how the present is just clearly not good enough, since there’s this amazing future right off in the distance. happiness is so easy to just toss of to the hands of the future for safekeeping.

but the thing is, if you haven’t learned how to be happy in the gorgeous, rich present you’re living now, how is anything going to be any different when you finally reach that day, or event, or milestone that you tossed your happiness to so long ago? happiness is a choice, and it can most certainly be a hard choice, but it’s something you have to train yourself to choose. and as nice as those pity-parties sometimes feel, and although i’m far from happy all of the time, i’ve realized that the world is so, so much brighter when i choose happiness in the current moment.

yet i don’t think dreaming is altogether bad either. when you have those dreams and aspirations continually in your sights, you’re able to live your “now” in a way that will allow those future hopes to eventually become a part of your present. expectations for a better future are what keep me moving – what keep me taking steps and making the choice to keep going, every time that lovely sun comes up.

so i guess there’s an extent. when you pile up all of your stock and save it for the future, that’s a recipe for dissatisfaction and unrest. but letting the future be a guide, a beacon of hope in the distance makes for special, precious, full moments in the present.

i want more of those full moments – those moments where time seems to smile, imperfection seems perfect, and the goodness and rightness of life seems about to overflow. and i have a sneaking belief that those moments aren’t fleeting or rare. my sneaking belief is that every moment can be a full moment, if i only expend the littlest bit of effort to recognize it.

my goal at present is to hunt out those full moments, to open my eyes, and pull down the discouragement and the pride and the haze of expectation that i’ve allowed myself to let hover in the way of present contentment. i’m going to do my best to usher the beauty and the gratitude to the forefront, and help keep it there.

and while accomplishing my goals and living out my dreams may still be something a little ways off in time, ushering in the beauty is something i can do now, this very minute. i’m going to throw back the curtains and let beauty into my present – i’m going to paint my present beautiful.

confessions on reputations and being scared

so the funny thing is, very few people know that i blog. when i started blogging my family eventually found out, but i never told my friends. and as of today, as far as i know, none of my friends know about my blogs.

i’ll probably tell them sometime, or they’ll probably figure it out somehow through twitter or somewhere. the funny thing is that i tweet out a link every time i write a new post, but yet my best friend – the only close friend who follows me on twitter – still hasn’t figured it out. or maybe she has and there’s a reason why she hasn’t said anything haha? anyway, i’m pretty sure no one knows.

so why the secrecy among the people i know? i guess it’s not so much secrecy, just a choice not to broadcast my blogging. but why shouldn’t i be proud of what i write, and be happy to share it with people?

the thing is, i am proud of my writing (if i’m allowed to say that). if nothing else, i’m proud of it because it’s something i love to do and i hold dear this little creative outlet i’ve grown for myself.

but in all honesty, i’m terrified to share. 

and the deep down issue with all of this is that i’m honest-to-goodness scared about what people might think of me, despite how badly i want to pretend that other people’s opinions don’t matter to me, despite all the motivational messages that are shoved in our faces telling us that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. i know, i know, i know, but try telling that to a brain that has emotions all wrapped in it, plus a life full of conforming to the reputation the world has placed on it. it sounds so petty, but i’m scared, and it’s the truth.

with my healthy living blog, ( i’m scared that people might think that it’s silly of me to be blogging about living a healthy life when i’m not an “athlete,” or a registered dietitian, or a personal trainer, or a health coach, or anything similar. i’m just one random person out there who sees the value of healthy living and wants to share it with others.

and then there’s this blog. i can’t decide which one i’m more afraid to tell my little world about.

and to level with you, i’m scared that people that know me might read my words on this blog and find me ridiculous.

there, i said it. that, right there, sums it up. i’m afraid of the snickers, of the behind-my-back-comments, of not being taken seriously. “you wrote some stupid flowery thing on lipstick???” 

okay, i basically pour out about seven-eighths of my heart into these words. the other eighth i keep to myself, since some special heart-secrets are good for a person, but i’ve put the rest out there, for anyone that cares to take the time to read it. (which, by the way, if you’re reading this, thank you thank you thank you for sparing a moment out of your day to hear me.)

so i give a lot of myself with my writing. and with all the giving, giving, giving, i feel like the defenses i’ve had in place my whole life are going down, one-by-one, post-by-post. it’s left me feeling exhilarated, and alive, and liberated…but also very exposed, in a way i’ve tried to avoid my whole life.

and i just can’t shake this feeling of vulnerability. 

to those acquaintances that know me from a distance, even a semi-close distance, i have a reputation, and a facade, and the internal pressure to keep it up. i’m seen as reserved. i’m known for being “smart,” however you want to take that. i’m known for niceness, and i’d venture to say that i’m perceived as being passive.

and i suppose there’s some truth to those statements, but that’s not me in a nutshell – in reality, the perception is very far from the truth that i see inside myself. that reputation – that outward perception – is only lightly touching the surface of me.

and for some reason it scares me to think of taking a step outside of that reputation, which is currently operating as my safety net. “tessa kohler” is liked, and accepted, and i don’t mind that in the slightest. “tessa kohler” has friends. “tessa kohler” isn’t criticized. “tessa kohler” is safe.

but “tessa kohler” also doesn’t write fiery blog posts about chivalry or happiness or other such deep matters in life.

so to take that step, and share what i write, is – to me – the equivalent of stepping out of a plane with a sketchy parachute, where you’re not quite sure if the whole falling-through-the-air-until-you-hit-the-ground thing was a smart idea. to share what i write with those people that already know me as a certain person, who acts a certain, predictable way – that would rock the ground just a little bit and suddenly i wouldn’t be that safe “tessa kohler” anymore.

and sometimes i can’t decide how badly i really want to share this with everyone. sometimes i really love coming here to write, and knowing that i can write whatever i please, because no one who reads this has those preconceived notions that terrify me so much. in those cases, my outward reputation is something i can hide behind, so while i stay safe and predictable in the real world, i’m also safe and free in the writing world that i adore.

but then again, sometimes i want to stand up in front of everyone i know and do some legit heart-and-guts-spilling, like i do here, in hopes that maybe i’ll actually be understood. and on those days, my stable reputation in my own little world doesn’t seem to loom over me as something that’s keeping me from expressing myself.

and yeah, i’ll probably end up sharing this completely unknown side of me someday. it probably won’t stay a secret forever. a friend will finally look at my tweets, or maybe i’ll drop a hint in a conversation, and people will figure it out eventually.

but for now, this is my place to be the real, legit, unrefined tessa, as cheesy and idealistic as that sounds. conquering those fears of altering the perception and the reputation is my mental and emotional work in progress at the moment. i’ve come to the realization that the more i write, the closer i draw to accomplishing that goal, so you can bet that’s what i’m going to keep doing.

here, i’m writing my heart, and my life. here i’m writing my true story.

here, i’m writing my reputation. 


this post was inspired by the wordpress daily prompt: 

in defense of chivalry {part 2} / a discourse on gentlemanliness

i found this old essay on my thumbdrive the other day, which is what inspired me to write “in defense of chivalry {part 1}”, but i thought i’d preface it with some thoughts on chivalry (my post yesterday) before getting to the actual gentleman substance.

i wrote this essay for my ap english class as a junior in high school. we had to write seven essays, each in a specific form, about one topic. i chose to write my seven essays on romance (big surprise there!). it was probably one of the most fun essay-writing projects i’ve had, actually. you can bet my tough, football coach english teacher loved reading those essays!

anyway, i’ve cut little bits and pieces and changed some words here and there, but the gist of the essay is the same. also, this is entirely personal opinion! i am very strongly opinionated when it comes to gentlemen. keep in mind that this is just my definition of what a true gentleman is,  so just bear with me, and i would love to hear your definition too!

without further ado, “a discourse on gentlemen”…..

you read about them in books and see them in movies. they’re the perfect, the ideal, the sought-after. they’re gentlemen.  there are lots of decent guys in the world, but what sets apart the true gentlemen from the rest of the male world?

first and foremost, gentlemen always, always, always hold open doors. proper door-opening is quite specific. it can’t be simply propping the door open with your arm as he walks through ahead of you. oh no! the true gentleman remains outside and stands, holding the door wide open from the side, as the lady walks through. the gentleman does this not just because he’s obligated to, but because he truly wants the lady to be able to walk easily inside.

also in the category of doors would be car doors. a true gentleman opens the car door for his lady so she can easily step into the car. when it comes time for her to exit the car, the truest of gentlemen will not allow a lady to exit without him walking around to her side and opening the door for her. if he fails to do this, but at least opens it for her to enter, he can still be considered a gentleman. again, he opens the car door for her not just due to obligation, but because he truly cares about the lady exiting or entering the car as comfortably as possible.

a gentleman treats every girl like a lady. he can most certainly have one special lady in particular, but he treats every girl he meets with courtesy, kindness, and respect. he offers his coat to any lady that appears to be chilly. it does not matter the appearance of the lady or her relationship with the gentleman. he always offers.

a gentleman doesn’t corrupt his speech with the use of foul words. he speaks with dignity and chooses his words carefully. he speaks of all people, especially ladies, in fair, un-judgmental terms. he isn’t proud or stuck-up in his mannerisms. he will carry on a decent conversation with any decent human being. he dresses with taste and class. he is, of course, allowed to dress casually, but should be accustomed to and comfortable with dressing nicer at times.

when a gentleman is on a date, he treats his date like a princess. he makes sure she doesn’t want for anything; food, water, a chair…anything. he is at her beck and call. on a date, she is his foremost concern. he compliments her. this, in and of itself, is hugely important. too few guys these days pay girls real, heartfelt compliments.

the scarcity of true gentlemen in our world is astonishing. whatever happened to chivalry and knights in shining armor? the image and presence of gentlemen in our world needs to be restored before the young men in our midst become entirely harsh, stuck-up, and selfish. i have the privilege of knowing a select few gentlemen, and i’m grateful for the standard they’ve set in my mind of how guys should act.

long live the gentleman! may he and his kind never, ever die off!

leave a comment of YOUR definition of a gentleman! am I being too strict? or is there more to add? are gentlemen really that important in our world? 


thank you for reading! here are some more ways to connect with me!

twitter –> @tessabrynnk

google+ –> +tessakohler

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