…because of the shoes we’ll wear

14 Apr

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we’ll wear many shoes in our lives.

slippers on that rainy day when your heart first got broken and you can’t seem to understand where the love went and where to go from here. maybe you’ll wear blue polka-dot rain boots when you get lost walking on campus in a new state and you’re feeling insecure about your ability to see the next four years through. cowboy boots covered with mud when you are driving down a country road at midnight after dancing in red dirt all summer long. flip flops for those summer days when you spend the entire day outside, blisters on your feet and vowing to yourself that you’ll make the most out of these days. black shoes for when you walk across the stage and grab that diploma. the same shoes for your first professional job. first funeral. first formal dinner. your favorite pair of sneakers on the day where you feel stuck inside and not sure of how to move forward.

and along the way, those shoes will pick up pieces from every place you’ve been. they’ll collect the dust, grit, and particles- all of the necessary steps that it took to get there.  but where will you walk and where will you go?  i probably talk about this too often, but it continues to have relevance in my life.  the person you are isn’t where you say you’ll go or all of the things you say you’ll do;  the person you are is where you have been, the direction you are headed, and what you are doing to get there.  action then, not words or promises, is what defines us.  today, right now.  

and so if your new year’s resolution or personal goal is to live a healthier lifestyle, do you have your gym shoes on? are you lacing them up and going on that walk, jog, or run?  are you choosing to go to the gym, take the stairs, drink more water, or eat nutritiously rich foods?  and if your dream is to graduate from high school, college, or enter in to the workforce, do you have on your comfortable sneakers, workbooks, or dress shoes? are you showing up for class?  putting in the time, effort, and self-discipline to get there? and if you want to travel the world, are you saving money now?  are you making the sacrifices needed to get yourself there?  are you reducing your spending and increasing your work? and if you want to be a writer, do you have on your favorite pair of christmas socks while you develop your characters and story line? and if you want to pass that test or get that promotion are your behaviors leading the way? are you elaborating on your dreams and focusing in on your passion, strengths, and talents?

you get the point.

what i’m asking is if you are taking the individual steps to get you to the finish line you hope to cross.  because we all know you don’t make it to the end with just one step.  races are completed and won after a series of continuous, focused effort.  it’s by adjusting your pace, taking deep breaths, and resolving your mind to finish what you started that we ever get there.

and if the answer is no, it might be useful to determine whether your goals match your priorities. i think one of the hardest questions we can ask ourselves is:  if we aren’t working on what we believe to be most important to our individual lives, then what are we trading our goals for?  maybe its  for comfortable nights filled with our favorite reality television, or sleeping in all afternoon.  maybe it’s the satisfaction of getting that extra dessert, buying that new article of clothing, or staying up all night.  and although i believe that sometimes these things are exactly what we need, i also know how easy it is to stop working on a goal before we actually there. and so i wonder how often we set ourselves up for continued disappointment, dissatisfaction, and  stagnation because our short-term needs and wants get in the way. i wonder how often we get pulled off track because our excuses lead us astray.  are we trading opportunity for comfort?  our success for immediate gratification?  what i know is that every action you take is the result of choice– the choice to move forward or the choice to say where you are at.  what are you choosing?

 

 

and so it comes down to this moment.  can you make that first step today?  with or without motivation, can you find the discipline within your self to take one action that will get you closer to your goal?  can you close your eyes, take a deep breath in, and remind yourself that you can do anything that you will yourself to do?  because the truth is, you are full of possibilities.  full of untapped capabilities and unused resources.  and i think life is about utilizing our inherent potential.  now is always a good time to start.

 

whether it be flip flops, winter boots, sneakers, sandals, or high-heels, put on the shoes you’ll need to get yourself where you want to go. it’s not so much the shoes that matter as it is the person that’s wearing them.

maybe you’ll go barefoot.

but what matters is that you put one foot in front of the other until you get there.

 

 

 

in just one day.

13 Feb

my friend and i went to a funeral today.

the sun was shining just right through the stained glass windows, illuminating the church with varying shades of red, green, yellow, and blue.  this funeral was different from other ones that i have been to in that i didn’t know the man or what he looked like.  i didn’t know if he had any kids or what his favorite foods were.  i didn’t know what his laugh sounded like or whether or not he showed his teeth when he smiled.  i don’t know where he last worked or what he hoped to accomplish in his life.  i knew nothing more about Terry expect for the fact that he did not have a home.  that he died as a result of sleeping outside after our last frigid storm.  i know that he was giving; “the first to give out a blanket to other people who were staying under the bridge”– one of his two friends at the funeral told us.

the funeral was attended by two of his friends sitting in the front row- wiping tears from their eyes and leaning on one another for support- and by people from community agencies, participants of this particular church, and by other people in the community who believe that every life should be honored, celebrated, and mourned.

and what sticks out to me was not just that this man died as a result from sleeping outside amidst a severe winter storm, but that he lived years of his life without a home, and assumingly, without some of his needs being met.  maybe he had a long history of substance abuse or a severe mental illness that was not being treated.  maybe he was a veteran that served our country in vietnam or a child who was once in foster care.  or maybe he came from a wonderful home.  maybe he made a few bad choices. and maybe he made some good ones too. i don’t know what his steps were.  and i don’t know that it should matter.  what matters is that people be afforded the opportunity to change their life circumstances, that people be offered a hand when they are down, and that they be understood rather than judged.   my heart breaks a little bit more with every condemning facebook post i read and every judgmental comment i hear regarding the people we cast as ‘others’- the homeless whom we expect to accept less and remain separate from the society in which we participate.

 

i tell you this story for the sole purpose of raising awareness.  of reminding you that yes, those you seeing sleeping under a bridge, standing on street corners, and wandering the streets are homeless.  but first, and most importantly, they are people.  did you know that in 2013, 13 people in oklahoma city died as a direct result of their homelessness? are you aware of the differences between people who panhandle and people who are homeless?  and did you know that there are reasons for homelessness other than substance abuse? in oklahoma city, people who are homeless are most often chronically homeless, living with a severe mental illness, or  are veterans who served our country.  and if you are going to gawk at someone from the comfort of your car, i hope you will take the time to look beyond their appearance and into their heart. and while you are looking, maybe take a look inside of your own heart too.

 

believe that when you have love for all of mankind, you don’t judge other people’s paths or condemn their lives. you don’t put conditions on your love or stipulations on your gifts.  and i don’t think help is about who deserves it and who doesn’t.  i think help is about remembering all of the advantages you’ve had in your life that other people haven’t.  it’s about understanding that we will all walk the earth in different ways and make different mistakes to get there. and when you have genuine concern for others, i believe you care more about where they are going than where they have been.

 

 

 

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because it was february 13th, it was also the celebration of “galentines”- a two year tradition my friends and i started doing in conjunction with RAK week.  On this day, we all go out to eat in celebration of our friendship and valentines day and jointly participate in a RAK in honor of random acts of kindness week.

an adorable elderly man sat in the corner of the restaurant; glasses and a little sweater, red wine and a small steak.  we all knew that we’d pick him.  we made him a make-shift valentines day card and told our waitress we wanted to secretly pay for his meal. we sat around the table and attempted to guess his life story.

we ate our dinner and conspicuously watched as his waitress told him that his meal had been paid for.  “people must love you,” we heard her say.  we watched him fold the card, unfold it, and look around the room.  he re-read the card and looked for familiar faces.  we watched him and his waitress talk before he slowly got up and left the restaurant.  he read the card one more time before putting it in his wallet.

and that was it.  except that it wasn’t.

 

his waitress came to our table with tears in her eyes and said, “i just had to let you all know what you did for that man.  he and his wife used to be regulars here, but he hadn’t been back since she passed away last year.  they used to come here and eat together on valentine’s day and he came out for the first time tonight in her honor.”  he ordered cake for dessert and only ate half.  she continued on to explain his wife’s funeral reception had been held at this restaurant and that that was the last time he had been there. she explained that the man kept looking around in disbelief because  ‘it had been a running joke he had with his wife because people were always paying for their meals when they went out to eat together.’

 

“i feel like she was here with me today,” he said.

and maybe she was.

 

 

and i tell you this story because it will forever be a reminder of the impact of a small gesture of kindness. a reminder that we don’t know each others’ stories unless we take the time to hear them. i learned that on an ordinary day, you might have the opportunity to reach out and grab someone else’s hand.  and by doing so, you may have a change in your heart.  an affirmation or a calling. and more importantly, maybe the person you reach out to will reach out to someone else or be changed by it.  and then maybe, just maybe, we’d have ripples of connection and waves of kindness. in an indirect way, i saw love and death in different forms today.  love for a friend, love for a wife, and people being brought together because of it.  i saw death in honoring a man’s life and observed it from a far as an elderly man ate valentine’s day dinner alone for the first time. at a small church and in a quiet restaurant i was reminded of the power of human connection and the universal devastation of loss. and i’ve come to understand that no matter what walk of life you are on, we are all humans who need one another.

i believe in the power of single, unsuspecting moments.  and i believe that there are so many things that can happen in one day.  one late afternoon.  one lifetime.

february 13th was a beautiful day.

 

 

 

 

today was meaningful because i was just a stranger, sitting in on other people’s love.

two words. three sentences.

10 Feb

on the day of my graduation from michigan state university i remember sitting in the stands with one of my roommates.  in oversized green gowns and our graduation caps, we anxiously waited for our names to be called so we could walk across that graduation stage. a symbolic celebration of all of the time, effort, and work we put forth to earn our degrees.  we took a picture on my phone so that i could send it to my family members who were not able to attend. and though the speaker did a wonderful job, i only remember the last three lines of his entire speech.  out of all the things he spoke about, he asked us only to remember this:

be kind. be kind. be kind.

 

and out of this first major stepping stone and accomplishment in my life came the motto i’ve come to live by.  kindness then, is not something i hope to do, but rather, someone i hope to become. in that moment, i decided that i wanted one of my greatest life accomplishments to be that i showed kindness to every person i encountered and in every situation i was presented with. it wasn’t until years later that i truly began to recognize that they way you treat people says a lot about who you are a person. and it wasn’t until i began to consciously practice kindness that i learned that people who give out the least gestures of kindness are often the ones who need it most. and i’ve learned that where there is kindness, there is also love.
two years ago i decided to participate in my first annual random acts of kindness (RAK) week and invited my friends from all over the united states to participate.  i made it my goal to connect with a person from each state so there were stories of random acts of kindness taking place all over the united states. it turned out to be a beautiful thing.  and not just because people were performing wonderful, selfless, and loving acts of kindness to strangers, but because for the first time in my life, i was challenged to consider what benefit ‘being kind’ was doing for the world.  a friend who i deeply admire wrote on my facebook wall and cautioned me about my perception that kindness could change the world; ‘while kindness is good,’ she stated, ‘you must also question whether it is doing anything for the world at large, because it often benefits the giver more than the receiver.’

she was right, i really did have to question what good kindness was doing for the world at large, and whether it was worth it to continue to try and promote it.  i spent the next few days arguing both sides to myself, trying to come up with a conclusion. i guess i was naive to think that kindness could in fact, solve the world of all of it’s problems.  i wish it could end armed conflict and social inequality, i wish it could improve our environments and make it rain in california. and i wish kindness could undo the suffering of those living with a mental illness, terminal illness, or going hungry because of a lack of food.

 

i know that it doesn’t.  but in a way, i also know that it does.

 

i know it seems overly simplistic- and that would never be my intention- but what would the world be like if we treated each other differently?  if we listened instead of talked and sought to understand instead of judge?  what if we chose to act?  what if we stopped talking about all of the things we were going to do, and started doing them instead? and what if we committed to  alleviating the suffering of others, in whatever way our individual lives could best be served?  what if we were kind to the earth? when it comes down to it, i realize that kindness may not be the solution, but i do believe it can be part of the answer.

 

i realize the world is big and our individual efforts can often times feel small.  and i think kindness is one of those things that really matters when you’re in a long line at the airport and have been waiting the entire day to get home.  and kindness matters when you are running late on your first day of work and someone lets you merge into traffic.  kindness is what happens when you see someone on the side of the road saying their hungry and you stop to buy them some food. kindness is when you start asking questions, formulating plans, and begin seeking to make a change. a simple gesture of encouragement, an umbrella handed to you on a rainy day. kindness is what gives you hope that tomorrow will be better. and kindness is what makes you believe that it will be.

and maybe on particularly bad days, you aren’t performing random acts of kindness for strangers you encounter on the street or the family and friends you care about.  perhaps you are performing these acts for yourself. i recognize that some may consider this to be selfish, i however, see it as an individual recognizing that they need some good in their life and taking the necessary steps to get there.  these acts have the ability to remind us on a very small scale of our ability to make positive changes in our lives and connect us with people we know nothing about.   these acts tell us that we can do better. and one of the best things about kindness is that it is a win-win act, everybody wins and everybody gains.  because when you decide to do something nice for someone else you can’t help but feel good about yourself, and sometimes, i think that is something we all need.  sometimes we need to remember that we are good and that we can do good.

 

kindness most often encourages kindness. because when you see someone do something nice for someone else it encourages you to do the same.

 

and when it comes down to it, i just don’t see that there can be an argument against treating one another with respect, gentleness, and love. maybe it is a grand gesture or a simple quiet one, like holding the door open or remembering your server’s name. maybe you tell others about your act, or maybe you keep it to yourself.  maybe it’s something you try and do everyday or maybe it something that requires a concentrated effort to try.  i think what matters is that you are trying to become a better person by improving the life of another individual, even in the tiniest of ways.

 

this post is about remembering that the world is a beautiful place.

and this post is about remembering our role in moving forward.

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this year i need your help.  it is my goal that we spread kindness -in large and small ways- not just this week, but every day. and so i challenge you to a week of dedicating your time, energy, and love to a commitment of kindness.  kindness in every breathe. kindness in every word.  and kindness in every encounter.  it is my goal to have the most possible people participating in unique, loving, and creative ways throughout the entire world.  and i realllllyyy would love to hear about how you decide to do it.

i’ve also decided to make RAK week part of my first ever contest!!! On The Rocks Vintage Clothing and I have partnered together to come up with a fun (gender neutral) prize to be awarded to the most thoughtful, creative, and inspirational RAK. The prize will include a vintage item and some of my personal favorite inspirational things :)

if you are interested, here is how you can participate: 

1. perform a random act of kindness (or several) throughout the week

2.  document your RAK using social media (take a picture or describe what you did)

3. use the hashtag #todaywasmeaningful with your RAK post so that i am able to view it

**if you aren’t interested in sharing your RAK on social media, feel free to email me via the “contact me” section on my blog to share your RAK with me!

…and that’s it.

at the end of the week we will select the most thoughtful and creative RAK and award you with a prize.  :) …but really, this week is about kindness.

 

i hope you’ll join me.

 

valentine’s day or not.

5 Feb

i stopped at the pharmacy on my way home from work today.  it was pretty uneventful except that i tripped over a stuffed valentine’s day bear holding up a red heart that had “i love you” stitched on it. and then i found myself wandering through the card aisle, trying to find a card that perfectly expressed all of the words i wanted to say to my boyfriend.  you may not be a big believer in valentine’s day, but i’m a big believer in love.  and i am especially in favor of a day dedicated to celebrating love, any kind of love– for your neighbor, friends, parents, or pets, love for your significant other or love for yourself.  wherever your love is, celebrate that.  celebrate it today, on the 14th, or next month. celebrate it with a compliment, a hand-written letter, a sticky-note taped up on the bathroom mirror, or with a “i’ll do the dishes for you tonight.” remember that it’s not about flowers, gifts, chocolate or cards, love is about love.

on the ride home i turned off the radio like i usually do, and allowed my mind to wander.  and somehow i ended up going back a few years to the day where i was laying in my bed, crying, and writing in my journal.  i remember that heart ache.  and not only because i documented it in such raw, unedited words, but because i felt it in such a deep and intense way.  a runny nose and mascara-stained cheeks.  the kind of heart-ache that makes you feel like you aren’t sure of who you are or where your life will now go. the emptiness that tries to convince you that you are no longer whole. the kind of ache that makes your heart feel heavy and body so weak. heart ache that makes you uncomfortable; you can’t eat when you’re hungry and can’t sleep when you’re tired. that pain that elicits bitterness, anger, regret, and defeat. and it’s that sneakiness of heartache that makes it linger,  the surprise recollection of your first memory together, and then your last.  a sound that reminds you of his voice. a smell that takes you back to her laugh. that confusion you experience the morning after it happened when you can’t quite tell if it is real or not. the emotion that presents itself by trying to undo and un-remember everything you once had.

but it won’t escape you, because that is your heart. that is your heart trying to heal. 

what i know about a heart is that it tries to feel everything at the risk of not feeling anything at all.  and when that becomes too much, it will numb out your emotions so that you don’t have to feel everything all at once. the way i see it is our hearts know what to do.  and what i’ve learned is that the hurting becomes part of the healing. 

i recognize that you can lose a person you love in different ways.  the end of a relationship, the end of a friendship, or the end of a life. addiction, mental illness, physical disability. a terminal illness. or simply learning that someone isn’t who you believed them to be.  two paths that grow apart or the closing of a chapter too early in the book. and i know that your heart can break in more than one way and in different depths. the shattering loss of a parent, child, partner, or friend. the lost hope of what you imagined your relationship would be, what you imagined your life would be like. the loss of a limb, a dream, or an expectation. heart-break can be that rejection letter, the phone call you wish you never got, or the day you would like to do all over again. heart-break is all of the ways you imagine the things you can never get back. 

someone once asked me how to heal a broken heart.

and one of the only answers i have is time.

give yourself time to hurt. time to grieve. to be sad, frustrated, and angry.  and give yourself time to heal, accept, and to grow. time doesn’t erase anything, but it can provide you with enough space to be able to breathe again. and then one day you wake up and your heart has a little bit of sunshine in it.  and day by day people offer you pieces of their hearts to help remake your own.  allow yourself to be where you are at, to feel what you are feeling, and to experience everything that means.  and during this process, look and listen for that glimmer of hope.  it is there, i promise. and it is waiting for you to see it.  because one of the most beautiful things about humans is their capacity to heal, grow, and survive.

facing it.  that is how you get through. 

and by facing it, i mean without external substances and artificial fillers. i mean experiencing everything internally and sharing it with your external supports.  admitting that it hurts and that it is hard and that sometimes you don’t know if you’ll make it.  admit that you’re scared to feel better again, to move on, to let go. allow yourself to be honest with what you are feeling. ask for help. and surround yourself with people who will help pull you forward.  let yourself be okay. although facing it may occasionally mean confronting the situation or person,  it may also mean acknowledging a situation for what it is and taking the high road in response to it.  by facing something, i think you accept things as they are and decide how to get through it. and by getting through it, i mean flourish.  because you will flourish. and it will be beautiful. 

changing because of it.

i believe that when hearts break, we do not stay the same. i also believe in embracing that and taking control over the way that you want to become better because of it.  can you dedicate your healing heart to bettering your life? to serving your community? to honoring the piece of you that is missing?  can you use that hurt to foster strength and resiliency? can you do it for the person you love and for the person that you are? can you decide to take the broken pieces and replace them with better versions of yourself?  if there is one thing i am sure of, it is that you can do it if you try. you can do it. you can do it.

here’s to heart breaks and to hearts being put back together.

….because when you put it back together, it will never be the same.

…because of my first last day

28 Jan

it was a bittersweet first last day.

as you may know, i have had the opportunity to work with people diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness for the last 18 months.  over the last 540 days i learned something new and was challenged in a way that demanded personal growth on a daily basis. and even after all this time, i want you to know that i do not know what it is like to live with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or major depression with psychosis (or any other mental health diagnosis for that matter). i cannot say what it feels like to experience auditory, visual, or tactile hallucinations that no one else can see, hear, or feel.  and i do not know what it’s like to believe so strongly in a delusion that everyone else around you will disagree with.  i haven’t woken up in the middle of the night in a panic, sweat covering my body from a flashback, nor have i had the experience of using up every ounce of energy just to get out of the bed for the day with a lost interest in life, struggling with every movement and task to get through the day –as often happens with major depression. i haven’t experienced trauma and i didn’t grow up in extreme poverty.  i’ve never had to choose between paying my electricity bill or water bill for the month.  i’ve never been bound to one room in the winter because i couldn’t afford to heat the entire house. i have not had my personal rights taken away due to psychosis impacting my ability to care for myself. and i haven’t been fearful of leaving my house due to paranoia, anxiety, or the way i was treated by others. i have never used an illicit substance because that was a better alternative than living with intense symptoms on a daily basis. i haven’t had any of these lives. and i do not mean to speak for any of the people who have, because their stories are unique and my words would never be able to fully describe their experience.  i write to remind you that each person has their own story. and i write about this because their stories are often the ones that are never heard.  i write because i want you to know that there are people out there who struggle in ways that you may not be able to understand, who make decisions very different from the ones you might make, and whose celebrations may be much different from yours.  and i write to remind you that despite all of these differences, our need to be loved, accepted, acknowledged, and given kindness remains the same.    i write because we are all alive together in the same moment. 

 

and after a year and a half i didn’t learn everything.  but i want you to know that i did learn, i learned up until the very last second on my very last day.  and on this day i learned that people will touch your life in ways that you never knew were possible.  that saying good-bye to strangers can also be like saying farewell to a good friend. that words will linger on in your mind and heart long after they have been spoken.  and that people’s ability to survive and overcome will surprise you. and i’ve learned that we become who we are because of the people we meet along the way- the ones that break us down, the ones that build us back up, and the ones who briefly interrupt our life story but change it all the same.

 

one of our clients came to the office on my last day. this person’s clothing was disheveled and soiled, partly due to living on the streets, and partly due to the difficulty associated with completing tasks of daily living that is characteristic of the diagnosis. a sandwich and daily medications. we had a conversation of mostly unintelligible speech or ‘word salad’ due to the severity of this person’s schizophrenia and  decreased ability to communicate thoughts in a coherent way.  there were smiles and nods and putting more chips on her plate. i mean it when i say that for ten seconds her thought process was clear.  she wiped off the table and threw her plate away.  “i can be kind- turn off the light or shut the door-those kinds of things.” she said. “and you know, sometimes i need kindness too.”

and then it was gone as quickly as it came.  but her words linger on.

they linger because they are true.  and they linger because i have observed how she has been treated in public by other people who do not necessarily understand or know her situation.  they linger because of the people that won’t walk near her on the sidewalk or look her in the face when she talks to them.  they linger because of accusations of alcoholism or drug addiction.  and they linger on because of the people who take the jacket off of their back so that she has one in the cold.  they linger because of the food she is provided by people who know that she is hungry. by the people who stop to acknowledge her presence. they linger because the world can be hard but it can also be good. 

we need more good.

 

 

 

 

 

in terms of work and learning from first jobs, here is what i know:

1.  be willing to work harder than everyone else.  if you aren’t willing to do it, someone else will be.

2.  surround yourself with people who are better than you are.  it encourages growth.

3.  first impressions matter. act like your best self until you become your best self.

4.  open your own doors.  create your own opportunities.

5.  your attitude is louder than your voice.

6. commit to excellence.

7. be kind.

…. because of two ice sculptures

1 Jan

i’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to change and what it takes to get there.  i guess january sort of does that for me- the newness of a year and the resolutions we often create to be better. i think change is one of those things we are often scared of, but also always looking forward to.  it’s one of those things that we wish would happen, but don’t necessarily take responsibility for to see that it does.  if we are honest with ourselves, we could probably say we have all succeeded in some efforts to change and have given up on others.  but what i wonder about is long-lasting transformation; why we stop before we get there, and on other occasions, why we decide to keep going. i think our answers are probably similar and different from one another, but most importantly, i just think we should be asking ourselves these questions.

this year i brought in the new year with acrobats, men twirling fire, balancing acts, and the crash of waves coming in from the ocean. i was in mexico at a new year’s eve dinner when the hosts asked us to take a slip of paper from the table.  i expected them to ask us to write down a new year’s resolution, instead, they asked us to record something that we would like to leave behind. i could have put down a lot of things: stress, unhealthy eating, particularly bad moments,  or decisions i would have liked to change. in the end, i decided i wanted to let go of something that kept me from moving forward.

 

 

IMG_1462and i remember standing there in between two ice sculptures, recognizing and allowing myself to be at a crossroads. in between two places in time: one foot in 2013, the other in 2014. grateful that i’ve become the kind of person that would rather look towards the future than the past. at 11:59pm, we sang “sha-na-na, hey, hey, hey, good-bye” in unison.  the host pushed the 2013 ice sculpture to the ground and we watched it shatter, melt, and then disappear. and then it was midnight,  fireworks were going off, wine glasses were clinking, and we made toasts to each other for one more good year. hugs all around. and a new year’s kiss.

 

 

 

 

afterlight

i had three different visuals and three different sets of lists for new year’s resolutions- a little excessive, i know.  i made all of these complicated plans and formulas for how i planned to accomplish them all.  i separated the year in to months, and goals into domains. i unintentionally made it as complicated as possible and spent a night trying to figure out how i could successfully accomplish them all.  and then in a few serendipitous moments, it all changed. that happens sometimes, you think you have it all figured out and then someone prints you off a quote on a tattered piece of paper and then you have a conversation with a stranger and everything changes.

 this year i’ve decided to focus on two things:  what i want to let go of from 2013 and what i want to bring forward in 2014.

 excuses and commitment.  

excuses.  my favorites are “i’m too tired,” “i don’t have enough time,” “i’ll do it tomorrow,”  and “i deserve a break.”  i recognize that all of these can be both an excuse and an actual experience. some days it is more useful for me to rest than it is to to stay up late working on a project or force myself to work out.  and sometimes i do need to prioritize my tasks and save some items for the next day.  but in reality, the excuses i am talking about are the ones that act as a little voice that pull us away from the finish line.  giving into excuses is kind of like putting roadblocks up on your own journey, they are just another obstacle you’ll eventually have to tear down. so instead of excuses, i’m going to be more honest with myself and my actions.  i am going to hold myself accountable for the progress i do and don’t make.  because at the end of the day, i don’t want to be the person listing all of the reasons as to why they never finished the race, i want to the be the person panting at the finish line, internally proud of the work and process it took to get there.

and as for you 2014, it is going to be a year of commitment.  commitment to following through  with plans and marking all of the things off my lists.  sticking to it.  commitment to relationships with friends, family, strangers, and my spiritual beliefs.  commitment to serving my purpose and realizing my personal and professional goals. commitment to movement.  i have plenty of specific things i plan to work on, but this year i want to practice centering my energy towards a certain focus. a commitment is a promise or a pledge, an obligation.  and i’m making it to myself. and in the process of making it to myself, i’ll actually fulfill it in my interactions with everyone i encounter.

i’m not an expert on change, but here’s what i know:

1.  in the process of changing, we must fight the urge to stay the same. 

2. change requires focused, continued, and disciplined effort.

3. setting specific, measurable goals helps. and holding yourself accountable helps too.

4. i think change is both about doing something different and becoming someone different. it’s important to be open to both.

5. be persistent. change takes time but it will come. and you will be glad that you didn’t give up.

6. change happens when you decide to keep doing all of those things you no longer want to do.

7.  in the process of moving forward, it often becomes necessary to let some things go. 

…two birthday candles on a cupcake.

16 Dec


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happy two year anniversary, my dear blog.

 

 

 

 

 

and i think i will celebrate this day for a while.  one, because i believe that ordinary days are a reason for celebration.  and two, because this day turned out to be not-so-ordinary after all.  it’s been a two year long journey of working to become the person i know i can be. and it’s also been a two year long journey of trying to figure out who exactly that is and will be.  while i believe i am the same person i’ve always been, i can honestly say i like this one a little bit better. i’m not the girl who is obsessively re-reading my final graduate school paper, too nervous and stressed to push submit, nor am i the girl whose sense of self-worth and esteem are based off of another individual. and i’m not the girl who feels a constant tug at her heart, recognizing that she’s straying off path, but ignores it anyway.  but i’m grateful that i was once each of these people.

what i know is that today, i am a person who wants to be better. i am a person who is committed to making mistakes and learning from them. i am a person who continues to struggle with societal expectations and internal longings. i am a person driven by a sense of purposeful anxiety that encourages me to continually strive to improve. i am a person with a fear of falling short. and today, i am a person trying to find a balance between accomplishing my personal and professional goals.  a girl who still wants to be liked by all, but doesn’t need the approval of everyone. i’m a girl whose feelings still get hurt by harsh generalizations. i’m a girl who is always in search of an opportunity to be kind. a person who uses each day to practice being positive and look for the good. and this year has also been one of shades of grey.  i’ve been both certain and uncertain, moving and stagnant. growing, changing, and remaining the same. it’s comforting to know that you can be all of these things or none of these things and still be okay.  i ate a cupcake today because it marks two years to the day that i decided to do something different.  and i guess it wasn’t so much about doing something differently than it was about becoming someone different. and in the process, i’ve learned that who i am and who i will become is entirely dependent on what i do in between.

 

 

and so from december to december, i’ve learned 365 days worth of lessons. and sometimes, in one day i’ve learned 365 things. it has been a year of practicing self-discipline, hard-work, and perseverance  and engaging in community action.  a year of heart strings being pulled at and days of heart strings being given away.  i’ve learned that i want to create something that outlives my life.  it’s been 525,600 seconds of letting go of expectations, taking a deep breath in, and accepting each moment as it comes. 8,760 hours of living out a passion and relighting my own spark each time it goes out. last year i learned a lot about myself; and this year, the lessons that stick out the most are ones about people. i’ve learned that people are generally trying their best and that their decisions are made based off of what they feel to be in their best interest at the time. i’ve learned that little girls’ lives can be changed for the better by foster parents who offer constant structure, love, and security.  and i’ve witnessed a person living on the street be moved to tears at the simple gesture of another human being acknowledging her existence. i’ve watched an individual give their only christmas present away to another person who wasn’t going to get one at all.  i’ve observed the resiliency and creative problem-solving of people living with a severe mental illness. i’ve watched people be too quick to judge and too readily willing to assume the worst.  i’ve been a part of community that came together to rebuild and i’ve watched people in their own effort to change.

this year, i’ve learned to look at people for who they are and all they have the potential to become.

 

 

 

and i’ve learned that when you take the journey to become a better person, you allow room for others to do the same. 

 

 

 

two years later, it still comes back to days full of meaning.

 

 

and i think that it’s important to wake up every morning and  decide who it is you want to be.  wake up and decide. reevaluate frequently and change as necessary. every.single.day. commit to one day of striving to inch closer to that end goal. fail once and then fail better the second time. keep falling short until you get there. run or go slowly, so long as you do not stop. and along the way, tilt your head up to the sun and smile. drink that cup of tea and revel in the good that is all around you. december 16th is a reminder that any day can be your day.  it’s not too late to start over, to begin again.

when i close my eyes, i can’t picture who it is i am working to become.  but i know that i will get there.  that with effort, we will all get there.  what i do know is that this person is kind. dedicated to pursuing a life of passion. and committed to having a positive impact on this corner of the world. i don’t know who you will end up being, and maybe you don’t either.  but i’ve learned to sit and listen to that internal voice that is so easily drowned out by external influences. i’ve learned that to be the best, you have to give it your best. and not just for today, but for all days. and i’ve learned that change takes time and a continuous dedication to the final product.

 

 

 

today was meaningful because i poured glitter in the palm of my hand and blew it out into the open air. gray sparkles against a white background, a pink door. two friends in a cupcakery.  an extraordinary celebration on the simplest of days.  and all of this because i decided it was time for a change.

 

 

today was meaningful because i made it shine.

 

 

and so here i am.  

an edited, but unfinished product.

 

 

 

 

here’s to many more, dear blog.

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