Monday, April 30, 2012

x factor

I know I can't say much because I'm a huge American Idol fan, but I'm not on board with the "X" factor. When you ask people what this means, they act like it's a simple answer- the it factor. That "thing" that makes someone stand out.  Can we elaborate? What makes a person have "IT"?

For Simon Cowell it's someone who can sell records, get a crowd going, please the people. But what about in our daily lives? Do we look for the "x factor" in friendships or relationships? Probably. We choose who we want to be friends with, right? I mean we sure choose who we DON'T want to be friends with sometimes. Wouldn't it be interesting if we judged our friends like they do on the show? "Sorry, that didn't cut it for me. You were better last week". Or "I'm just not sure you have what it takes. You're just not ready".  Or "I know you were sick this week, but you could have tried a little harder". How rude would that be? If I ever acted like that I sure hope someone would tell me to check myself.

I think that's the point though. We need to get off our high horse. Not everyone is going to be perfect, and it's not our job to judge them on their flaws. They are who they are.  People are going to make mistakes, people are going to change. That doesn't mean they don't have The X Factor. It means they are human.

OH, or what if God went all Simon on us when we arrived at the gates of heaven? "I was going to say yes, but I really don't think that outfit worked for you, so I vote no".  "You're just not as good as the other angels, that's all. Sorry.". NO! God loves us for who we are! It doesn't matter what we're wearing or how we compare ourselves to others. He loves us individually and unconditionally.

PS: I'm willing to admit Idol is the same way. We take 10 kids, force them to have personality or wear a ridiculous outfit, judge them, and vote for them. We then "idolize" them, put them in the spotlight and tear them apart until one winner is named. Months later, no one remembers all ten. They go from heroes and idols to that girl who sings at the bar. And for what? A chance at a career for them, pure enjoyment for us. I just got way off track. My point? We judge people too much, and we will watch anything for enjoyment.

I'm not sure if this blog made sense to anyone but me...but...cheers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

just walk away

You know how sometimes your friend is going on and on about something and you're like "girl, you need to take your own advice"? Well, for those that know me, that's about to happen. You're going to read this and say "that's nice and all, but why don't you do this?". I'm fully aware. Sometimes my blogs are my own mind telling me things.

 Now, let's continue.

 I'm the kind of person who simply cannot be around negativity. Yeah yeah, it helps us grow and mature and all that jazz. But I cannot be around it. I let it go to my head, I get caught up in it. I'm very easily influenced by those around me, and if that means I'm around negative people, we're in trouble. I've learned this the hard way, of course. And how do I solve this problem?

 Walk away.

 I don't always follow through. I tend to get stuck. Sometimes a little voice in my head whispers "If you don't move your legs this second and take a step away, you're going to regret it". See, I don't let go of things easily. I aim to solve problems and to please. This can be a great attribute, or it can be dangerous. Sometimes you need your brain to be your personal GPS. You're on this ride, hitting traffic and taking wrong turns into a world of negativity. You need a little voice to say "recalculating" or "rerouting" and reroute yourself back on the route to positivity! (I'm fully aware of how cheesy that was, I just spent 5 hours in a car, okay?)

 We're going to come across people who are toxic and damaging. We just are. But the good news is, we can choose to let it affect us or we can choose to walk away. I know people reading this who know me well are laughing, shaking their head, telling me to take my own advice. As I said, I'm well aware I don't always walk away. Or sometimes I do walk away but still keep my head full of negative thoughts. That's not good either. I have to walk away and choose to erase what I've heard or seen. Walking away is much easier said than done. It takes courage, it takes strength. But you can do it.

 So next time you face negativity, walk away. Right, Kelly?

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Valiant:  possessing or acting with bravery or boldness

I've come across plenty of people in my life who hold these qualities. People I've worked with, people in my family, my friends who have seen way too much tragedy. Currently, it's my cousin Lynn who is my valiant hero.

Lynn is a 33 year old preschool teacher living in Texas. Lynn is a singer. Lynn is a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a niece, a friend. Lynn is fighting breast cancer.

Originally, things seemed pretty optimistic. They caught it early, it didn't appear to have spread. After a few more tests, Lynn's stage 1 breast cancer has now moved to stage 2. She's going to have to go through some pretty serious treatment (and has already had a mastectomy). I can't imagine what Lynn is facing. Just a few months ago, her life was pretty normal. Now, her life revolves around kicking cancer in the face.

But Lynn is maintaining a pretty heroic attitude. She's blogging about her experiences, she's being totally real and honest but also putting a positive spin on things and showing her appreciation for her family and friends supporting her through the fight.

You know, lately I've had a lot on my plate when it comes to work. I come home every single day exhausted, frustrated, and angry. My back hurts from the combination of stress and sitting in an office chair all day. But then I remember my cousin Lynn. And if she can kick cancer's ass, I can get through a stressful work day.

Lynn, my dear cousin. I love you. Some of my very fondest childhood memories involve you and going to your parents house, playing with that dollhouse. As I've told Bonny, time and distance can never take away how much you mean to me. I have always admired your go getter attitude and the way you chased those dreams of yours. I'll be straight up honest: this sucks. It's not fair. And some of us may not always have the right words. So please forgive us if we get things wrong. Take one day at a time as you beat this disease, and celebrate whenever you can. Lean on us when you need too. We're not going anywhere. We are here for you, cheering on our valiant Lynn. I love you.

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand

Follow Lynn's journey on her blog:

Who is your valiant hero?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


It took me a long time to decide what to do for my U post. But the word unique kept coming back, again and again, with this question attached: what makes you unique?

At first I was going to pose this question on my facebook/twitter pages, and see what kind of responses I got. Because I really was stuck. I'll be honest, I don't think I'm that special. But I had to stop thinking like that.  I realized this answer really has to come from within me. I was going to come up with a list, but I can't. So I will just say...

I think what makes me unique is my intuition. I can tell when people are having a difficult time, I often seek out people who others ignore or don't seem to notice. I have a good read on people and can almost always know what they are going to say in a situation, or how they will react. And I try to prepare for that. If I know someone is going to need encouragement, I write them a note. If I can sense someone is angry, I try to make them laugh. I really, genuinely take time to provide empathetic listening to most I come in contact with and seek to understand them. I have some help in this, of course. I believe God brings my attention to people who need a little extra love.

The things I just listed are things I recognize in myself. I was never sure if anyone else saw it too. It's just the way I live my life, it's who I am. But one day at work, I got a note from one of our nurses. It said something like "you always seem to know when people need encouragement, and you so willingly give it to them! That is a gift!". I almost fell out of my chair.

So, I think that's what makes me unique. That and the fact that I once dressed up in a banana costume cheered on marathon runners, while standing next to an american idol contestant. But that's another story for another day.

What makes you unique?

Monday, April 23, 2012


I think I might be one of the only people in the world willing to admit this, but I love teenagers. When people find out I worked at a high school for a year, they say things like "are you crazy?" or "you're brave" or "I could never do that".

Uh, why not? Have you ever talked to a teenager? I mean really talked to a teenager? Because they are pretty introspective little boogers.

Yeah, sure, they can be snotty. They can be disrespectful. But first of all, who can't? I know people twice by age who can be just as snotty. But secondly, I think I know why. There's a ton of pressure on them. They are striving to be THE BEST at school, sports, music, etc. They want so desperately to be loved, to be acknowledged, that they practically kill themselves trying to be perfect. And with all that pressure getting to someone, they are going to crack, they are going to be rude.

Besides the fact, they are still kids. I know that's not an excuse...but think about it. Were you the most grateful person in the world when you were 14? I'm going to go and ahead and guess- no.

Teenagers have this very unique view on the world. They are young enough to still be amazed by things, but old enough to grasp understanding of the way the world works.

I worry about teenagers. I worry that they feel so angry and anxious that they turn to drugs or alcohol or become a bully. We all know that's not the right way of dealing with things, but sometimes, they don't. It's our job to teach them by example. It's our job to not give up on them. They can sense when we're giving up, and they will give up too. With no hesitation.

I get so frustrated with the teens in youth group when they won't put their cell phones away or when they can't stop talking for ONE SECOND to listen to instructions. So frustrated that I almost left youth group once and didn't come back. But see, that would be giving up. So I go. I listen. I observe. And the things I see and hear are pretty amazing. I see the way they stand up for one another, I see when something we're discussing hits home. I see when something clicks, I see when they are deciding whether or not they are brave enough to speak in front of the group. And I see their relief after they do speak. I see their genuine excitement when a friend walks in, and I see their hearts sink when someone walks in they are having conflict with. And you know what? I love those kids. I'm proud of them. I am so happy that I can see them be witness' to Christ's love.

So to anyone who "hates" teenagers, I challenge you this week to talk to one. Ask them questions. Ask them how they feel about issues affecting our world, ask them their hopes for the future. And then remind them that you are cheering for them.

And to all the teenagers reading this, I juts ask you one thing: Treat people (yourselves included) with respect. No ifs ands or buts. People won't remember the time you scored 4 goals in soccer or your part in the school's musical or whether or not you got an A on that French quiz, but they will remember how you treated them. So treat them right. And treat yourselves right.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


There are certain words that I use to define myself. Certain words that describe me personally. One thing I always say? I am a very sentimental person. I mean, very.

I get attached to people really easily. I have a big heart, and like connecting with people. And when I find that connection, I latch onto it.

I've always been this way. When I was younger I loved going through my baby book and watching home videos. I still do.

I have a box full of old pictures, letters, cards, notebooks. I go through that box once every few months. I just scatter the contents all over my floor, pick things up piece by piece and study them. Usually I smile. Sometimes I cry, because that person or memory is no longer happy. But looking back through all of those things always makes me feel inspired, all over again.

And usually, when I go back and read or look at pictures, I start texting, emailing, or facebooking the people associated with them. I tell them I miss them or that I was thinking about them and wanted to know how they were doing. I like to remind people of happy memories. Maybe people don't need them as much as I do. I say, I need all the happiness I can get.

Some of my friends and family don't have a sentimental bone in their body. So when I ask questions like "What was your favorite moment this year?" They are a bit startled, not understanding why I care so much.

Will I keep that box forever? Probably. I've stopped keeping everything, though. My collection of letters and cards has decreased since I first started keeping them (although, I started back when cards and letters were more common the facebook birthday posts and emails). But the few cards I have piled up in my office? They'll go in there. Journals I finish? They'll go in there. So that I can remember. So that I can be sentimental. Because baby, I was born this way.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I asked my lovely friend Gem what I should write about tonight.

"Realization- there's a lot more to everything than what you first think it is".

Well if that isn't the statement of my year so far. And I mean this in good ways and in bad.

Sometimes we think someone is the greatest person we've ever met, and then we realize it's all a front, that they are actually kind of a crappy person. Other times we immediately put a label on someone, we write them off because of how they look or a poor choice of words- when they end up being this incredible person.

Sometimes we think something is going to be incredibly hard, we dread doing it...when in fact, it's quite easy. Other times we think something is going to be a piece of cake, and it turns out to be overwhelming, draining, and sometimes near impossible.

You get my point.

Personally, I love realizations, even the crappy ones. I love that moment when everything clicks. To me it means growth, maturity, a lesson. The light bulb goes off and sheds light on situations, people, memories.

I have most of my realizations when I'm by myself. Thinking. Actually ALLOWING myself to just sit and think. Or when I'm journaling. I'll write something, and then it hits me- aah, that is the answer I've been searching for. I like to think of these "realizations" as God speaking to me.  

I think my job has given me the biggest realization/reality check: Life isn't always about us. We are not always the center of the world. 

What's been your most recent realization?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


As every A-Z Blogger will tell you, "Q" is a very hard post to come up with. There just aren't very many q words that spark up the ole creativity side of the brain. And I did quiet last year, so there goes one of my go to words.

So, I decided I'd simply answer some questions tonight. For the record, I think it's good to ask people questions. It's important to learn about each other. And it's important to answer them honestly.

1. Which is worse, failing or never trying?  Never trying. At least when you fail, you can say you tried, you can learn from the experience. If you never try you will always have that nagging "what if".

2. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing? That's tough. Is it possible to do a little of both? Because I believe in touching lives and I believe I am able to do that with my current job. However, I'm not going to lie and say this is my calling, or this is where I will be the rest of my life.

3. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why? Easy. Nashville, TN. In a heartbeat. That place is magical. Okay, maybe not magical, but it's pretty awesome. I love the atmosphere, I love the people, I love the weather. I am really, really hoping to end up there someday, somehow.

4. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?  Ironically, this just happened to me on Sunday. I took a new volunteer to visit a patient. I left the room to let them speak. I was in the hallway of the nursing home and this little old lady came out of her room down the hall, using her walker. I could tell it was going to be a struggle for her to walk by herself. I could also tell she couldn't see very well. So I got up, walked over to her and then walked beside her. We made it down the hallway, and she plopped down on the very couch I had been sitting before. I thought we were going to have this outstanding conversation that I'd be able to use in upcoming volunteer trainings. Instead, she smiled at me, mouthed "hi", and then closed her eyes. She reached her hand out and patted mine, and then she fell asleep. I knew that was her way of saying "thank you". When I was leaving, I patted her hand and whispered that it was nice to meet her.

5. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before? Yes. That's probably not a good feeling, right? Isn't every day supposed to feel brand new?

6. What is your favorite vacation memory? I have so many. I guess just simply Fort Walton in it's entirety. Running on the beach, walking down to where my uncle was fishing, going to the water park, church on Easter Sunday with all my cousins.

7.  What is your earliest memory? Hmm. Sometimes I'm not sure if my memories are actually memories or just a result of watching home videos and seeing pictures. I don't know how far back we're "supposed" to remember, but my earliest memories that I can really recall are preschool age-kindergarten. I very clearly remember going to school, then going to lunch and running errands with my mom. My favorite days were the days when we went to the Troy Library. I probably can come up with some earlier ones, but when I think of childhood that is one of the first things I remember.

8. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Now this is a tough one. I've already typed and deleted my answer five times. I should probably say Obama, but I'm not going to be that predictable. If I were to be choosing someone dead, I would say Catherine Mccauley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. That woman was braver, stronger, more compassionate than anyone I've ever heard of. But someone living, at this very moment today? I'm going to have to very seriously answer that with Adele. I know that sounds bizarre to some people- I could meet ANYONE in the world and I'm choosing a singer. But here's the thing. Adele writes music that I feel. I would just like to be able to talk to her and pick her brain.

9. What song best defines and describes your life? Oh there are several songs that I lovingly dub as "my song".  But the songs that I feel describes me is "Let The Rain" by Sara Barielles. I immediately connected with the words of the song my first time hearing it, and wrote in my review of the album that I felt the song described anxiety to a T, better than any song I've ever heard in my life. Then I read an interview where Sara said "This song is all about facing your fear and digging deep and finding your own inner courage and deciding that whatever happens, you're gonna be ok."  Yes sir!

10. What do you do on Sundays? Oh, nothing. No really, nothing. A few weeks ago I decided that Sunday was going to be MY DAY to just sit and do what I wanted. I sleep in. I read. I write a little. I walk. I go to Church, I go to youth group. I do all things that I want to do. I don't make any plans. I just do me.

Back to the topic at hand: questions. Ask them. When you need help, ask for it. When you're curious, ask about it. When you need a 2nd opinion, get it. When you're unsure, be sure. You don't have to fight those battles alone, go through the back and forth, ups and don't have to stay up all night worrying and wondering. you can simply ask.

Oh, here's a fun question to ponder. Have you ever asked a simple question that then changed something drastically? I think that happens more than we realize.  I will tell you the best question you can ask someone, and you can do it daily.

"How are you?".

Ask it, and mean it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Pride- "A satisfied sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices or actions".

 I was recently told by a friend of mine that I'm too hard on myself. I never realized it until she said it, but, she is 100 % right. I have an easy time recognizing others for their good tributes, a harder time recognizing my own. So tonight, I'm going to answer two simple questions.

 1. When have you been most proud of someone else?
My immediate answer is "Yesterday". Yesterday, I found out that Cristo Rey reached a 100% graduation rate. This is huge on so many levels. First of all, this is DCR's very first every graduating class, and the fact that every last one of them have been accepted to college is incredible. It just goes to show you what hard work can do. Those kids earned every last one of those acceptance letters. And the staff/faculty deserve the pride that comes with it. We all knew this journey was not going to be easy, but look how far they have come. It makes me cry just thinking about it. See when I had those kids they were sophomores in high school- still babies. Now, in just a few weeks, they will be graduating high school. Taking steps toward their future. They will each be finding their own place in the world and that just gives me the goosebumps. They just proved themselves to every single person who's ever told them "you won't make it". So, I'm proud of the kids, the teachers/staff, the families. I'm proud to be considered a part of the Cristo Rey family, because it's an amazing institution, giving kids in Detroit a promising future and excellent education.

 2. What is your personal proudest moment?
Well, one of the things that I'm excited to say about myself is that I still have a lot of living left to do. I still have a lot to accomplish, a lot that I want to accomplish. But, so far, in my 24 years of living, I think my proudest moment was completing a 1/2 marathon. That or completing a year of volunteer service. Both took an immense amount of focus and dedication. My year of service was something way out of my comfort zone, even though I was still living in my home state, it was something I never thought I could do- live with complete strangers and work at a high school. But I did it, and I loved it- more than I can ever express. My 1/2 marathon, though, was something I literally did not think I could ever do. How can a bigger, out of shape girl walk 13 miles? Training, motivation, and hard work, that's how. Because I did it. Sometimes I FORGET I did it, because I still can't believe I did it. I still remember the feeling I got as I reached the top of the hill on that last 3 miles (the hill itself was about 2)- I had to wipe away tears as I took water from a little girl wearing a Taylor Swift t shirt, we locked eyes, and she said "you're almost there, my friend". She was right. I was almost there. What that little girl didn't know was how big that moment was for me. So yeah, I'm pretty proud about that moment. :)

 So, anyone who reads this, those two questions coming back at ya! Answer in the comments. And okay, I know about a zillion of my itunes collection mention pride/self confidence, but this is the only one that keeps popping in my head. So here you go. A little Drake for this Wednesday night! (Note: Obscene language)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One Step At A Time

The phrase "one step at a time" has been my mantra for as long as I can remember. It's just one of those things that keeps coming back to play into my life. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, it's a common phrase that gives a sense of calming, patience, and peace.

The first time I really remember using it is in high school, when I struggled with math...specificially, algebra. I just couldn't get it. So I would spend my "off hours" in extra tutoring with my teacher, learning the rules of math. I remember her telling me constantly to just slow down, that I was working too fast to try and get the answer, that I needed to do it one step a time.

The phrase really hit home in college. I constantly felt like I had too many things going on, was overwhelmed by the stress of sorority life, friendships, classes, being homesick, and several other contributing factors. I was in way over my head, that's for sure. I couldn't stay true to all my promises or committments, I let friendships fall and stepped away from faith for a little bit. It wasn't until my junior year when I learned to pace myself better and take things one step at a time.

My year with Mercy Volunteer Corps was a constant whirlwhind, and I put pressure on myself to feel like I had to solve every problem. I was constantly, constantly telling myself to take things one step a time, and, it was something I could pass on to my students. When they were upset, overwhelemed, and unable to get a grip, I would tell them "Relax. Just take it one step a time. That's all you can do".

Remember that one time I did a 1/2 marathon? You know what I was thinking the entire 13.1 miles? One step at a time. There was one point on the course when I really was not sure I would be able to finish. I was exhausted, I had blood blisters, my head was throbbing, and I was hot. The ONLY thing that got me through was saying, out loud, one. step. at. a. time.

Those six months when I did not have a job and I was scared to death that I was never going to find a job and be forced to live in my childhood home? One step at a time. That's what got me through. Apply to this job, do the interview, stay calm.

And now that I have a 9-5 job, I can't tell you how many times a day that phrase saves me. When a huge audit falls in my lap or when all my volunteers quit at once or a slew of new volunteers all come at once and I'm expected to do my job plus be the IT person, I tell myself "Smile. One step at a time. Breathe. Don't hurt anybody".

So yes, "One Step At A Time" has saved me, more than once. It gives me permission to slow down. It forces me to focus. It works in all situations.

Do you have a mantra? What is it?

And don't act like you had no idea THIS was coming:

Monday, April 16, 2012


Peter Pan is my favorite children's story. I'm fascinated by it. Still, at 24 years old, I dream of never never land.

So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!

What if a place like that actually existed? I'll tell you what, if it did, I'd be in a parachute headed for that 2nd star to the right, straight on until morning. I imagine Neverland is such a lovely place. Except, you know, for pirates. They're kind of scary.

My Neverland would be full of laughter and fun, a place where no one got hurt and everyone got along. It would be a place where everyone could escape too when life got too tough, too painful. Neverland would be full of beautiful, rich colors, sweet sounds and smells. There would be endless amounts of iced coffee and books. Music would play throughout all of Neverland, not any certain kind of music, but all music. Neverland would be dedicated to love and laughter. We wouldn't grow up in Neverland...and yes, their would be fairies and pixie dust. Right, Tink?

Sadly, this place does not exist anywhere but in my own mind. Trust me, I've tried to google map it. But we can still dream. We can each create our own personal "neverlands" in our head, and use that as an escape. Because you're never too old to dream.

What's your personal neverland like?

I'll end with a song as I try to do..

Have a good week everyone. Watch for posts o-s this week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

National Volunteer Week

Technically, the #atozchallenge is off on Sunday's. But I'm doing two posts, so I guess I'm cheating all around.

National Volunteer week begins today. When I got off work I did some googling and twitter hashtag searching to see what the buzz was on this event. Most of the stuff I found were encouraging people to get out there and volunteer. Yes, that's important. Everyone should volunteer. But uh, let's first appreciate our volunteers.

Volunteers are people who give freely their time and energy to give back to an organization they feel passionate about. The key word in that sentence? Free. Volunteers are not paid. They offer whatever gifts they can offer at no charge to the organization. Anyone willing to do this obviously has a good heart and head on their shoulders.

As a volunteer coordinator I can tell you this: volunteers are amazing people. It doesn't matter their motivation for volunteering, or their frequency. No one signs up to volunteer somewhere because they are Oscar the Grouch 2.0. They do it for a much better, higher reason. Some are trying to better themselves, some just want to give back. But they all have a heart of gold and a true compassion for people.

Personally speaking, I love my volunteers. I once heard someone say "The last good thing that may happen in a person’s life is a hospice volunteer". I cannot agree more. Sometimes all a patient needs is a visitor. I treat them like they are my own children sometimes, I like to make sure they are all happy and I'm proud of them when they accomplish something. I recognize that they have busy lives outside of volunteering, and it is truly an honor that they give up an hour or so each week to service our patients. The cool thing is, they all do totally different things for our patients. Some do pet therapy, some just companionship, some respite for the families, some read, some play music. And they all truly let their gifts shine.

I am blessed to work with volunteers, and it has helped me to learn more and more about people and the way we interact. It has opened my eyes to good in the world, which we all need. So thank you, to "my" volunteers, and to all volunteers across the world who give their time and energy to make a difference in others lives!

Now, to those of who have though "I should volunteer" but have not gotten around to it, what the HECK are you waiting for? There are so many opportunities out there! Here are some ideas for you to get started.

Well, you could be a hospice volunteer-here's the thing about being a hospice volunteer: it's the most fulfilling thing, and yes, it can be sad, but it is also an HONOR and a PRIVILEGE to be in someone's life during the last few weeks/days/months of their life. You will learn so much about life and people, and yourself. They need as much compassion, positive energy, and encouragement as they can get, and you have the opportunity to give it to them! Find your local hospice, call their volunteer coordinator and ask what the requirements are. And if you're in the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana area, you should just call me and we'll talk :) My organization allows volunteers 14 and older in the office, 17 and older to visit patients.

Hospice volunteering isn't your thing? There are SO many other opportunites out there people! I could list 293012931 of them. Instead, I'll give you some sites where you can narrow down what you are looking for.

Get out there people! Speak your love, speak it again, speak it again.

PS: To all my fellow volunteer coordinators out there, I raise my glass to you. Happy National Volunteer Week!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mercy Volunteer Corps: The Afterlife.

I had so many options for my "m" post. Lots of my favorite things start with M- mommy, music, memories, Michigan, mimosa's...the list goes on and on.

I chose...Mercy. More specifically, Mercy Volunteer after Mercy Volunteer Corps, actually.

Note: For those stumbling on this blog due to the a-z challenge, MVC is a full-time lay volunteer program offering placements in the continental U.S. and Guyana, South America for a one or two year commitment. Mercy Volunteers serve in Education, Health care & Social Services. Volunteers commit equally to service, a simple lifestyle in community, and personal and communal spiritual growth. (taken from I did a year of MVC in 2009-2010. I was placed at a high school in Detroit.

In a few months I will be talking to this years group of Mercy Volunteers on life after MVC. It's going to be a little strange. Last night I was surrounded by Sisters of Mercy at a ceremony and began to ponder what exactly I will say to's what I came up with. Whether it's what the MVC staff is looking for, I have no idea.

If you had asked me in 2009-2010 what the most difficult part of Mercy Volunteer Corps is, I may have said balancing community and ministry. Ask me that now, my response is: ending MVC. I'm sorry- transitioning from MVC. Because it doesn't ever end. It will stay with you for the rest of your life.

The few months toward the end of your service through the few months after are a very strange time. You're trying to wrap your head around your experience, trying to say goodbye, while also planning for the future. Some may know what they are doing, some may not. I was in the "may not" category. I think both are difficult, but I can only speak from my experience- it was hard. You are applying for jobs, figuring out what kind of job you even want, planning on moving forward with no actual plans it all. It gets frustrating when people ask you over and over and over again what you're doing when you do not have an answer.

My advice to those going through that now- it's okay to not have an answer. It's okay to live at home for a few months and discern your next move. Do not sit in front of your computer 8 hours a day and apply for jobs. You need to live a little, too. You have to wrap up your year the best way you know how. I was lucky in that my service was at a school, so they were ending with me. I could walk out after that last day of summer school and know I wasn't leaving anyone behind just yet. But I was worried for the future of those kids- I felt like I had put my entire heart and soul into it and then it was just gone from my fingers. But you can stay involved. I advise to take baby steps. Take some time away. Keep in touch with your supervisor or a former co worker, keep those connections going. And, again, don't be afraid to let it go a little bit at a time.

As far as community goes, cherish those final weeks. Encourage each other. Pray with one another, share meals. I was personally very, very close to my community and was sad to see everyone go their separate ways. Do we talk all the time? No. Do I pray for them every day? Yes. Regardless of how hard you try, life WILL get in the way- but it's not the end. Continue to email them once in a while, swapping memories of your year together.

The main thing about leaving Mercy Volunteer Corps is that we all want to find ways to continue living the Mercy values. You don't have to be living in community and holding spiritually every Monday night to keep on being Mercy. Here's how I found ways to connect: getting involved in my parish by co leading the youth group; working in a job that I can honestly and truly call a ministry; and connecting with the Sisters of Mercy by making the decision to become an associate. Association is not for everyone, and I understand that. You can still connect with the Sisters, or still find ways to live Mercy. Sometimes you have to take a deeper look within yourself to find it...but it's there. It was there the day you decided to send in an application to MVC, and it has grown through your experiences with the program.

I can 100% promise that each of you made a difference this year. You may not realize it. You may not have felt it. But you did. A community member, someone you served, a sister...heck, it could have been someone you graduated high school with who heard you were doing a year of catholic volunteer service and thought "wow, that's cool, I should volunteer more". You never know. That's the power of mercy and MVC. So leave knowing you did something, knowing you played a part in writing MVC's story.

I guess to sum it all up, don't rush ending MVC, and be sure to end it in a way that fits with you- if you need to write a letter to people you worked with, do it. Need to have one last spirituality night? Organize it. There are ways to accomplish whatever it is you need to do. As for the future- if it's known, great- congratulations, go for it and do your thing. If it's unknown, take some time. It will come. You have God and the Sisters of Mercy on your side- you are in good hands.

That's what I'd say to them. On a personal note, life after MVC has been interesting. As I mentioned, I've found ways to keep it a big part of my life. I'm also helping to screen applicants for next year's round. I like to stay as active as possible in MVC because it gave me so much enrichment and wisdom for life. I am still close to several sisters of mercy and am headed to become an associate this fall. I work for hospice, and that in itself has mercy written all over it. I am blessed to be a part of the community.

Friday, April 13, 2012

lift me up when I'm losing it

So you know how I said I didn't think I was going to follow a certain theme with the A-Z Challenge? Well, apparently I lied, because so far my posts have been inspired by songs in some way shape or form. And that, is again, the theme of tonight, with the phrase "losing it", which is the title of a song from one of my favorite bands, Never Shout Never. The song does not quite encompass my thoughts, but still, it's got some parallels. I am going to close with another song reference, but you have to keep reading.

So, losing it. What is "it" exactly? Composure? Control? Your mind? Your memory? Maybe. I think I'm losing it almost every day. The week coming back from vacation is a rough one,kids. Keep that in mind. I was slammed all week with requests, questions, meetings, etc. Some directly related to my job, some not, but I have stepped in to assist in those areas and got stuck there. (Dumb move, Megan, dumb move). So with all that on my plate, I was edgy and moody most of the week. And then I found out there were some rumors going on about me. That set me off. I almost lost it.

I gave a work related example because my life is primarily centered around work at the moment. But I'm also close to losing it when someone shows disrespect, when a situation is unfair, when people get hurt. When I lose people. The year Laurence died was extremely tough, the grief overcame me. When Susan was killed it came back, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Because I have a history with anxiety, I get close to losing it pretty often. Sometimes unseen. I freak out before big events, making a phone call, talking in front of people. I worry constantly over getting things right and being able to please others. I can't make decisions because I go over and over in my head if it's the right one. Usually, this form of losing it goes out on the people closest to me (mainly, my parents).

I wonder sometimes if I actually ever lost it. I don't think so. I've never blown up at anyone (okay, I did once tell a friend of mine off on the porch of a fraternity party, but she was never really my friend, and those things needed to be said). For the most part I keep my feelings inside, or write them down, or blog about them (heh). I'm almost positive I "lost it" once in college when I stayed in my room for weeks. But I eventually found it again. I always do.

The reason for "finding it"? I have people that Lift Me Up. (Yep, another song reference, a song by Kate Voegele). We should all have those people. People we can vent too, cry on, throw things with.

At work, I have a few people who lift me up. When I was near tears yesterday, Maggie and Sue were there. Maggie (and Tierra, who no longer works there) is becoming one of my closest friends- not just a work friend, but a friend. And Sue is like my mom. She knows when I'm upset, she brings me Advil and she gives me hugs. Those two, along with Carol, the sweetest nurse of all time who once brought me chocolates, and Christine, my lifelong best friend who now works at the company, lift me up. I feel like they understand me. Maggie (Tierra too, I feel like I need to include her because she just left last week, but she definatley made an impact and is one of my closest pals!) and I can look at each other and know what's on the other one's mind. You NEED friends like that. And you need friends who will email you from the next room. You just do.

In regards to life in general, I have so many people that lift me up, encourage me, support me. Obviously my parents play a huge role in that. My dad gave me a speech last night on finding affirmation from within and which of the 4 quadrants to be in. (You don't have to get that. I did). My siblings and their spouses lift me up, through their words, yes, but primarily through their actions. I look up to all of them. Then I have my friends, Gem, Jena, Alicia, Sam, Dean, etc etc.

The Sisters of Mercy lift me up, remind me that I'm human and encourage me, they show me that I am living Mercy. Music lifts me up. Melinda Doolittle is the reason I am not lost anymore, and she continues to lift me up.

God lifts me up. God is my number one source of light and inspiration.

So I suppose my point in all of this (I don't know if I have one, really) is that for every time we feel we're losing it, there's someone there to lift us up. It may even be a total stranger. But our role as human beings is to lift each other up when we feel we may lose it.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

jump start my kaleidoscope heart

Kaleidoscope is not one of those words you hear very often. So when Sara Barielles released her sophomore album in 2010, I was a little confused about the album title. Kaleidoscope Heart? That's different. There's a title track on the album, and she also mentions it in her hit song "Uncharted" when she sings "Jump start my kaledioscope heart, love to watch the colors fade". I once saw a video where Sara explained the idea behind kaleidoscope heart:

"The idea behind 'Kaleidoscope Heart' is that we're all sort of in pieces and broken bits on the inside, but somehow, when you look through them, you still see something beautiful and colorful and magical..."- Sara Barielles

Wow. Now that? Is why this girl is an amazing songwriter. How true is that statement? We all have our little broken pieces, and yet we all have a story, and Sara is right, you can find the beauty in everyone and anyone. Everyone has something to offer the world, despite how broken they might be, or might have been in the past.

When I meet a new person I always want to know their story. Where they came from, where they are headed and what bumps they've hit along the way. I have a friend named Meghan who is the same way- and she's just the friendliest person. Within moments of meeting you she'll ask you an obscure question like "what's the best birthday present you ever received?" or "where did your parents meet". Some people are thrown off by it, because it's a rare thing, for someone to be that genuinely interested in your life. But Meghan is. Meghan appreciates the good and bad in people, she likes to hear the quirks and the stories. That's one of the reasons I love Meghan so much- she gets people, and she WANTS to get people.

I got a little off track there. I guess what I'm saying is we should live like Sara's words and Meghan's actions and look into people's hearts a little more to find the colors inside of them. Recognize their beauty and know that they have one heck of a story and "pieces" that make them who they are right now. We've all been broken, in some way shape or form. That's what makes us human. But we're also beautiful, colorful. Like a kaleidoscope. Appreciate that in every person you meet.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

just do it

There's something I need to remind myself of.

Just do it.

Take a chance and just do it. I have constantly lived my life on the cautious side, I have let fears control me. I am sometimes too careful, worried that I will hurt someone else or myself. That needs to stop. I need to take a look at my doubts, worries, fears, and just do it, beat them. I realize I have posted things like this before, I know I've gotten little spurts of energy and then once again let my fears control me. And that may be a battle I fight for the rest of my years, going back and forth in a wrestling match between courage and fear. But it's time to pick up that attitude again. Maybe the trick is to not try so hard, and act on it- put my words into action.

I'm not just referring to procrastination here kids. yeah, we should all put our ipods away and actually work on that project or turn off the tv and read a book. What I mean is reaching for your goals, and making a realistic action plan to cross them off your list. Want to run a 5k? Train. Sign up. Run the 5k. Don't spend weeks thinking about it- just do it. Want to tell someone how much they mean to you? For God's sakes, tell them. Don't be afraid. Just do it.

I know sometimes this "just do it" philosophy fails- because we put too much pressure on ourselves and end up burning out and giving up. That's why you have to be realistic. It's okay to sometimes "just be" just be present, just be quiet, just be listening. The key is to find a healthy balance.

Here's a song that sums up this blog post pretty well. Enjoy, and get out there and just do it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


How many times a day do you say the word imagine? Am I in the minority if I say it A LOT? "Can you imagine?" Is one of my favorite phrases. Maybe I'm a dreamer. Scratch that- I know I'm a dreamer. My mind is full of dreams for myself, others, wonders, hopes. People often tag the word imagine with kids (or a Beatles song). It's true, kids have a vivid imagination. They can play make believe for hours and pretend to be astronauts or superhero's without taking time to plan or give it much thought- they just do it. But guess what? So do adults. We just don't always realize it.

Our imagination can take us a long way. So often during the day my little mind is working, full of bright ideas and dreams. But how often do I actually pursue them, push them, keep going? Not often enough. I brush them aside, keep working and living my life.

I learned a few years ago how faith filled our imaginations can be. I was having a conversation with one of my favorite nunlettes, Sr. Rochelle. I told her that often times, I suddenly had a new idea or thought, but I was never sure if it was God or just by imagination. I will never forget Rochelle's response "Did God not create your imagination?".

Her answer stuck with me, and I continue to remind myself of that- that sometimes those little thoughts that come out of nowhere are God speaking. That those crazy little ideas actually have some truth in them, and all it takes is for us to listen, and then act.

I have a little example of this- maybe not the best example, but one that came first to my mind.

A few years ago I was applying for a job at my high school. Now, if you know me at all, you know how much I loved my high school. It was my "Dream job". I had been wanting that position to open up, so as soon as it did I sent in my resume and cover letter. I got called pretty quickly for an interview and I was ecstatic. But something in my mind kept saying "this isn't right". I thought it was self negativity, so I just ignored it, went on my interview. I got a second interview. I, again, had those thoughts about the job not being right for me. But I prayed and prayed that I would get it anyways- I needed a job, and I thought I wanted that one. As you all know, I didn't get that job. The initial shock and heartbreak was a tough loss, but just days afterwards it fully hit me- that job WASN'T right for me, and that closed door led me to where I am now. And God knew all along, that wasn't where I belonged.

Do you see how imagination and faith are parallel? So for my fellow dreamers out there, act on your dreams. Listen to your ideas and imaginations. Trust your instincts. Imagine.

I wrote up a little poem of all the things that I think would make this world a better place.

When I imagine a perfect world
I imagine a place with no hate
No violence
Imagine we only spoke kindly
To one another and of ourselves
Imagine worries don't exist
Imagine endless amounts of
energy, compassion, love
Imagine seeing God
in everyone we meet
What I wouldn't give
To live in this world
That I imagine

Monday, April 9, 2012

Important people A-H

I have some major catching up to do in the A-z Challlenge In fact, I have yet to even settle on a "theme" or even if I am going to follow a theme. So, I am taking a very easy way out to make up for A-H, and tomorrow I'll start for real with I.

I couldn't decide how to group A-I together. I talk about different things on this blog- recaps of weekends, family, friends, life lesssons, my journey, music, tv shows, books, writing. I don't typically stick to just one topic. But a very common theme in my life/my blog? People. I love connecting to other people. Finding out their stories. Learning from one another. So, I went ahead and chose one person to talk about from letters A-H. I am going to try to pick people who I normally don't speak about in this blog.

Alethea- You've probably heard me talk about my best friends Alex and Alicia. Someone I don't talk about as much is Alethea. Alethea and I worked together at a nonprofit for a few months and she was my saving grace. She was the only one who could make me laugh, she understood my frustrations and pushed me to pursue my dreams. She taught me how to cook, how to talk to teenagers, and most importantly how to fend for myself. She's one of my favorite people I've ever come in contact with. I still text her every once in a while, just to say hi. Whether she knows it or not, she is a huge part of my life.

Britt- Britt is one of my "Idol friends". She is very strong in her faith and has helped to keep me grounded. She's a great source for inspiration.

Christine- My best friend since the age of 5, Christine has been there for me through it all. And now we work together. We know every little thing about each other and she is usually the first person I go to for advice, whether it be work related, relationship related or family related. She'll always be my very dear friend.

Desi- Desi is another "Idol Friend". We kind of have a lot in common. And by kind of I mean we are the same person. We've had very similiar life experiences. We like the same music, make the same jokes. Sometimes we tweet things that are very similiar at the same time. She reminds me I'm not alone in this world.

Elizabeth- Yet another "Idol Friend". Sweet Elizabeth is just that- sweet. She always knows what to say to make someone laugh or cheer them up, and is one of the most encouraging people I have ever known. She puts her entire heart and soul into her relationships with others and I am lucky to call her a friend.

Fr. Michael- I know I have talked about him before but Fr Mike is, what our waitress at Los Ranchos would have said, the bombage. Talk about connecting with people, that man is an expert at it- especially the youth in our church, who so very much need a role model like him.

Gem- Did you know Gem is the only friend I have whose name starts with G? And that's not even her real name. Well, now you know. Anyways, Gem is pretty much awesome. She's older than me, but that doesn't matter, because we have this general understanding of one another. She makes me laugh super hard, she is comforting and compassionate and I am very grateful for all she has done for me.

Holly- Holly's a little burst of sunshine and energy. Girl has been in my prayers for months now as she deals with that heart of hers and goes through different procedures to get it back to where it needs to be. She's a fighter and I so admire her strength!

So there you go, a little insight into important people in my life, whether they know it or not.

What do you think friends, how should I continue the a-z challenge? Pick a theme? Or just pick a word/topic for that day and reflect on it?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

ft walton 2012

What happens when you go to your childhood vacation spot for a week with your family?

I'll tell you what- fun. A whole lot of fun. My parents did a darn good job of raising us. I know few families who are able to spend 15 hours in the car together and spend a week in the same condo- but we did, and we had a blast every step of the way.

The Drive: Sure, it's about 14/15 hours. But it's a fun trek. Mo Dave and I had a good time. We talked, we sang, we joked, we slept, we ate. We stayed in a gross hotel on the way down to Florida that turned into one of the biggest jokes of the trip. Best car memory? A sign for Buttermilk Pk (Buttermilk Pike). Dave's response? Buttermilk Pancake!

The Beach: The beach at Fort Walton is gorgeous. The sand is white, the ocean a beautiful, perfect blue green combination. Waves crashing in, little kids running up and down the beach building sandcastles and screaming as the water hits their toes. I'm not a big fan of laying on the beach- I always feel gross afterwards- but to just spend some time down there is worth it. I did go in the ocean a few times, but had to stop when I started getting itchy red bumps on my body. Raise your hand if you're allergic to salt water. ::raises hand:: Best beach memory from this trip? Running around the sand dunes with Sara, acting like we were in the Hunger Games.

The Pool: I'm a much bigger fan of the pool. I know people say "you can go to the pool anywhere". But can you, really? I mean yeah, I can go to a pool in Michigan in the summer, but only on weekends, and who wants to do that? It's too crowded. And does Michigan have palm trees? No. The pool in Florida is the best. That's where I spent most of my outdoor time. My best pool memory from this trip was my sister running down the pool steps to save a toddler from drowning. His parents weren't watching him and he wasn't wearing floaties. He took a fall down the pool steps and couldn't get himself up. Mo jumped in and saved him. Go, Mo!

The Food: It wouldn't be a trip to Florida without some amazing seafood. I had raw oysters, shrimp, amberjack, mahi mahi, and crab cakes. Plus an the best omelet I've ever had at an old family favorite restaurant (Joe and Eddies) and two great meals in with everyone. And some enchilada's from a shady Mexican restaurant. I already miss the fresh seafood. Back to salmon, I suppose.

Various Activities: Goofy golf, shopping, games in the room, movies. Besides hanging on the beach/at the pool, we had fun elsewhere. Goofy Golf was a blast and a 1/2. No, it's not your normal "putt putt" and yes it is 100X better than the Pirate golfing in Traverse City. It's old school, dumpy, but so fun. And out of 6 of us, I got third place. Booyah. Sara and I went shopping one day when it was rainy, and we had so much fun. The outlet mall was packed with people, we made our way through the crowds, managed to have quite a few laughs and find some sweet deals. In our condo we had Sorry, Connect 4, and Disney Princess Uno. We played them all. With glee. Sara, JP and I saw Hunger Games Friday night. Sara read the books last year and had not seen the movie yet. I was anxious for her thoughts. Her response "I'm going to write a letter to every single person in the cast telling them thank you for making all my dreams come true." I guess she liked it.

The "activity" that stands out the most? Bingo. It was rainy, and Dave was itching for something to do. So Dave, Mo, and myself went to a Bingo hall called Bingo Castle. Now, if you've never been to a real Bingo hall, it's time you do. It was SO. FUN. Mostly because the three of us had no idea what we were doing (Bingo is not as simple as it was in elementary school, kids) and the locals were laughing at us. The best part was when we were playing a cover all game, so all the numbers on our board had to be called to win. Well Dave was just focused on the Bingo aspect of it, and when he got a straight line, he YELLED "BINGO!" and waved his hands in the air. The lady calling the numbers almost fell out of her chair- and then she came over to us and helped us. It was hilarious, and that is a new tradition for rainy days in Ft. Walton- Bingo Castle.

But you know, more than any of that, it was just a wonderful week of spending time with my family (minus my parents, who were not with us, but we talked to them 2-3 x a day, filling them in on our trip). I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. I am so glad that I have siblings I can spend time with, share things with. I'm glad we have never had a fight that caused a wall between us. I've seen that happen to so many families. Not us. We are strong, and we stand together. On a beach. In Florida.

Personally, this week was just what the dr ordered. I needed to get away. I barely thought about work, only on the day of our big meeting. I didn't worry about who was covering me. I just let it go. That's what I needed.

It's back to reality. I had 113 emails on my personal email account (only about 50 were real) and 188 work emails. Tomorrow is going to be a long day trying to get things back in order. But at least I'm tan. #bazinga

Goodnight kids. And to those coming here from the a-z challenge, tomorrow I'm going to cop out and make a post a-g. Then I'll get started for real.