Monday, November 21, 2016

Thankful.

I am thankful for my past and all it's experiences, however painful they may have been, for shaping me into who I am today. I am thankful for every person who taught me a lesson that I carried through the years, for my family for gifting me my core values, my parents who provided encouragement throughout my life. I am thankful for every place I've visited, for every friend I have made, for every broken heart I suffered. I am thankful for God's timing, and that He carefully placed people in my life when I needed them the most. I am thankful for every job I have had. I am thankful for every  mistake I have made. I am thankful for every accomplishment thus far, no matter how big or small. From learning to ride a bike to losing 140 lbs. From being a Kairos leader to becoming a Mercy Associate. From loving to read to learning how to write from the heart. I am thankful for every second of every day that has led me to right here, right now. I am here.

I am thankful for the present, and all that is surrounding me. I am thankful I have a warm place to live, a family that I adore, a fiance who is my very best friend and my other half. I am thankful to have a job that I love, with co workers whom I can call friends. I am thankful for friends who are still here, and for all the fun that we have. I am thankful for modern medicine for keeping my dad alive. I am thankful for the music that comforts me, the books where I can escape, and all the silly things that bring me simple joy like foxes and hot tea and sunshine and podcasts and yoga. I am thankful for my mom and all that she does to keep the pieces together. I am thankful for each moment that I am still breathing, still alive. I am thankful that God embraces me, forgives me, and comforts me. I am thankful that when I am down, I don't stay down. I am thankful for the people that bring me back up. I'm thankful that I am here, with all of you, experiencing this life.  I am here.

I am thankful for tomorrow. That I have a chance at tomorrow. That there is so much left to experience. I am thankful for the memories that are yet to be made, the people I have yet to meet, the books I haven't read and the songs I haven't heard. I am thankful for the learning that is still to come. I am thankful that although I do not know it yet, God has a plan for me. I am thankful that who I was yesterday, and who I am today, will help who I am tomorrow. By the grace of God, I will be here.

I am thankful for me. I can be incredibly hard on myself, sometimes questioning if I am deserving of the love that I am getting. But I am worthy, I am strong, and I am thankful that I have never given up on myself. I am thankful that I have kept going. Because I am here.

And you, you are here too. And you deserve to be here. If no one else has told you this lately, I will tell you: I am thankful for you.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Together we fall and together we rise

It's been said that this was the most stressful election ever. I've read stories and articles of how the election has broken up friendships and caused rifts in families. And, it's clearly causing a divide across our country.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Soon, most of us will be gathering in homes with our family and friends, eating delicious food, drinking, and watching football. It is a day for us to truly take a step back and remember what we are grateful for. Right now, a lot of people in our country aren't feeling very grateful. I get that. So many people I know are feeling uneasy, scared. Most people I know, no matter what side they fall on, are fueled up, ready to fight back against anyone who disagrees with them. And I get it- we should be having dialogue. I'm not discouraging dialogue.

What I am discouraging is for hatred to leak through your words. When you come face to face with someone who clearly disagrees with you, instead of instantly engaging in heated arguments or spitting out words that are hurtful or hateful towards anyone, just take a minute. Take a minute to put yourself in that person's shoes. Think about why they may believe what they are saying. Agree to disagree. Let it go.

There are some behaviors, I realize, that aren't worthy of your time. If someone is abusive towards you, or other humans in general, and you simply can't have a discussion with them, then don't. In those cases, I say it's okay to stay away (if possible).

I'm directing this at the people who may only see their extended families once or twice a year. This Thursday may be that only time. You may know ahead of time you don't agree politically. That's fine. You don't have to. Shake of the hostility, engage in healthy conversation, and show that individual the same love and respect you want shown your way.

I know what some of you may be thinking. That the world doesn't work like this, that we can't all just smile and ignore what is happening, that we need to TAKE A STAND. And trust me, I am all for taking a stand against racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. I think there could be opportunities for teaching moments, if they are done without violence attached to them.

But I also think one of the best things that we can do is to show our love out loud, obnoxiously. And that includes showing our love to the people who don't agree with us, as hard as that may be.

It is my hope, that this Thanksgiving, as you fill your bellies and celebrate amongst loved ones, that you can truly enjoy the holiday,  honor your gratitude, and speak your love. I can't say it will be easy, but I certainly hope it will be worth it.

PS: If you're like me, you'll find comfort in music. Maybe this song will help. It's called Same Side, by Jill and Kate, and it's available on Itunes tomorrow. Perfect timing.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fear. Believe. Hope.

As I sit down to write this, I pray that my my words have meaning, and that I am understood by everyone who reads this. I am not asking for everyone to agree with me, I am not trying to change any minds. I simply hope to be understood and respected just as I am trying to understand and respect others.

I am not happy that Donald Trump has been elected President. I am not whining because my candidate did not win. I am not going to attend a protest (although I am not judging people who are). I am not angry at my friends who voted for Trump, nor am I angry at my friends who voted for 3rd party candidates.

I accept that he is going to be our next President. It's not any easy thing to say, or do, but I accept it. I accept it, though, with fears. Today, I thought I would share my fears, my beliefs, and my hope.

I fear that the progress we've made toward LGBQT equality will move backwards. I fear that hardworking immigrants and refugees will be deported and families will be torn apart. I fear that Muslims will be assumed to be terrorists. I fear that thousands upon thousands of people will not have access to health insurance. I fear that other countries will not trust us. I fear that Trump's attitude towards women and minorities will rub off onto others. I fear that too many people will feel targeted and unsafe in their own homes and workplaces. I fear that Donald Trump will be too quick to judge, that he will be irrational, and that he will be, in essence, a bully. I fear that some of the people who stand by him are not thinking of the poor and marginalized.

Yesterday, a video went viral of middle school students yelling "build that wall" at students of Hispanic descent. This is disgusting, disturbing, and wrong. The message to those kids? "You aren't welcome here, get out". How did we become this way? How did we let our fears of the unknown, our fears of people who are different than us, allow us to become hateful, angry people? I don't know, but I don't think Donald Trump is going to be able to reverse that. That's scary.

As a blanket statement, I believe that every human person, no matter their stage in life, their sex, their national origin, their economic status, their sexual orientation deserves love, respect and care...and equal rights.

When it comes to what I believe in, I align nearly perfectly with the Sisters of Mercy and what they stand for:

You can read more about the Sisters of Mercy here: http://www.sistersofmercy.org/about-us/mission-values/

So what do I hope? I hope that I am wrong about Donald Trump. I hope that he can lead our country in a peaceful, united way. I hope that we can ALL feel safe. I hope that we can come together, address concerns and fight for a better and brighter future. I hope that we can truly be united. I hope we can treat every single human being with the exact kindness we would treat our loved ones.

And I am not just going to sit back and see what happens. I am going to continue to be someone who  embraces others and who stands up for what I believe is right. I am going to stand next to those who are standing alone. I am going to support the Sisters of Mercy and their ministries, I am not going to engage in violent conversations. I am going to love so, so loudly. 





Sunday, October 23, 2016

Breathe.




Have you ever given much thought to your breath? To how often you breathe, the rhythm of your breath, whether or not you breathe through our nose or mouth?

Maybe, or maybe not. 

I've given a lot of thought to my breath. I distinctly remember an instance when I was young- maybe 6 or 7, sitting in the chair where my mom would do my hair for school. I had been thinking about my breath, and I said "I'm worried I'm going to stop breathing or forget how to breathe." Instead of brushing off my fears, my mom said "I know what you mean. I've felt that before, too. I just remind myself that I know how to breathe. But I know it can be scary". Ever since then, when I feel like I CAN'T breathe, I go back to those words. I know how to breathe. I know this is scary, but I will catch my breath again.

When have I lost my breath? In times of severe anxiety. When tears are falling too hard. When I am put on the spot. When I get scared. When I heard bad news. After a long run or a hard workout. And, at one point in my life, simply walking up a flight of stairs. But I always find my breath again. Without having to think too much about it, it comes back. And trust me, there are times where I do not think I will ever be able to catch my breath. But I always do.

All my life, the words "breath" and "breathe" have brought me immense comfort. I think it's the simple fact that to breathe means to live- and so long as you continue to breathe, you are still alive. You have not been consumed by whatever it is you thought was going to take your precious breath away.

I've been taking yoga classes here and there for the last three years. Breath, and paying attention to your breath, is one of the core aspects of yoga. Learning to really control my breath, to sit with my breath, to try different KINDS of breathing (who knew there were so many?) has made a very deep positive impact on me. I have a breathing technique when I cannot sleep at night. I have a breathing technique at the dentist, when I'm getting a massage, when I'm anxious, and when I'm nervous or when I'm angry. 

It's so easy to turn to someone who is anxious and to say, simply "breathe". Sometimes it can come off sarcastic, or rude. But breathing really is one of the best things you can do in that situation. It will bring on the calm, and the peace you need to move onward. 

I'm honestly not sure why I wrote about this, or that my post even makes sense. I just feel almost surrounded by the idea of breathing, and with breath comes calm. I know there are may be other people out there who struggle with anxiety and may "lose their breath", and I hope it helps to know- you know how to breathe. You WILL breathe. And you will become calm again.

I told you've I've been drawn to these words, I've also been drawn to songs that embrace this idea. I'll share a few here: