Monday, December 27, 2010

peace out 2010. won't miss ya.

I'm going to be honest. 2010 was not my favorite. It went by extremely fast, thank goodness. The first half was awesome, but by August things weren't so lovely. I don't want to dwell on the negative so here are my favorite moments of 2010. And here's to hoping for a better 2011.

Lady GaGa Concert

My amazing best friend, Dean, knew that Hannah (JVC) and I LOVED Gaga. He also knew that we were volunteers and couldn't afford to buy tickets to her show in Detroit. So he surprised us by getting them for us. At the last minute, my roomie Katie was able to go as well. One of my favorite concerts ever, and with great company. Gaga is an incredible artist and I am honored that I saw her live.

Visiting Gem

I visited Gem the same weekend Laurence passed away. I found out on my drive there and was an emotional wreck the entire drive. Thank God I was going somewhere where I would be supported and loved. Gem took extra care of me and made sure I was okay. We had a great time, as usual. I met some more of her lovely friends, everyone was so nice! My favorite part was that she made sure we could go to Church together :)

Jason Castro Concert in Ann Arbor
Jason is one of my top five favorite contestants to come off American Idol. I adore his voice, laid back personality, and good spirit. I will always support him and love hearing him live. His concert in Ann Arbor was awesome- small venue, lots of cool people. He's not your typical artists. He said things like "Who likes American Idol? I do. I like to be on it sometimes". Loved his show, even though my car died on the way home.

Grayling with Katie and Dave

My roomies and I were invited to Grayling, MI to visit a Sister of Mercy and speak at her church about our volunteer experience. Nate was unable to go, but I went with Katie and Dave as well as Renee, a young lady becoming a Sister of Mercy. That weekend was so special. We stayed with Sr Jean, in her beautiful house on a lake. I remember feeling completely at peace our entire stay. Plus, the people at her church were so awesome! It was a very family, community feel. Plus, we visited a beautiful state park where Katie got to run around in the snow :) So lovely.

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Retreat at McCauley Center

The four of us were really wanting a retreat- many of the other communities in MVC had one (together), but since we were the furthest away we were on our own. So, we had a nice little retreat at the McCauley Center, which is connected to my high school. It was great- conversation, contemplation, relaxing. Sr. Rachelle led us through a great day of different topics, she opened my eyes to many things that I had been worrying about. I loved spending that weekend in prayer with the people who had supported me most during our year.

Higgins Lake
Over Spring Break, my roomies and I stayed in a cabin on Higgins Lake with some of our JVC friends. Perfect weekend. Friends, fun, laughter, relaxing. Long walks in the state park, journaling, trashy mtv shows, etc. I LOVED being surrounded by great friends with no expectations. Miss it!

Oi. I could go on and on about the Nashville trip but since I already wrote a huge entry when it happened, I'll give you the sparks notes version. Sam and I had both saved our money to be able to take a trip to Nashville in April. Living off $100 a month made this difficult, but I was literally saving every penny. No Starbucks, fewer trips to E&L Taco, dropping my change in a little jar. The trip itself was so fast! We stayed with Jess and had such a good time exploring our favorite city with her- PLUS we got to cheer on the marathon runners and spend quality time with backups. Oh, AND had breakfast with Melinder. Who I haven't seen since then. Not that I'm bitter :) I want to go back to that weekend!

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Tyler Hilton/Spill Canvas Concert
Ugh. Not exactly my favorite concert ever, because of the rude people, extreme heat, and injuries I suffered. But, it was great music and anytime I can see my favorite band live is a good time. I got to hear my three favorite songs from them, plus new ones.

Personal Silent Retreat
Sometime that spring I signed myself up for a personal retreat at McCauley center. I was so stressed with "the future" that I needed a break and to spend silent time with God. It worked. After that weekend I felt relieved- I knew I was going to be taken care of, somehow. Loved spending time on that beautiful campus with lots of sunshine and tea with Sisters of Mercy. They were so good to me!

Walk for Lupus
One of my students, Jasmine, lost her mom to Lupus when she was just a baby. She asked me to help her organize a team and raise money for the Walk for Lupus. We raised almost $200 and had a great group of kids walking with us. The smile on her face the entire time made everything worth it. She was so proud, so happy. It made me Glad to see kids realize that they CAN make a difference.

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Transition Retreat
So now the year with MVC was coming to a close and it was time to process all of it at our transition retreat in Philly. It gave me a lot of closure, and made me super grateful for my three amazing community members and service site. I realized just how much God had planned out my year with MVC. Loved hearing other stories from the other volunteers, talking about my experiences, and realizing how much I had grown. Perfect way to close an amazing year.

Kate Voegele/Jordin Sparks Concert
I couldn't believe that two of my favorite female artists were playing together- for a cheap price! So exciting. I was looking forward to that concert forever. Got meet and greets for Jordin, I was nervous she wouldn't remember who I was but she gasped when I walked in the room and hugged me forever. We talked about Laurence and the song Faith, how much it meant to me and my family. Later that night she performed that song, introducing it by saying "I don't usually sing this song on my tour but I really feel I need to tonight" then stared at me the whole time. She's such a sweet girl and I'm very proud of how much she has accomplished. Seeing her first solo tour was so exciting :)

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Final Goodbyes with Students

Heartbreaking. Probably the biggest stab in my heart and gut I have felt. I didn't want to lose them. I needed those kids as much as they may have needed me. I hated saying goodbye, but loved the way it worked out. I wrote them letters, and got several in return. Lots of hugs, some tears, sharing memories of the year. I will never ever forget those kids. They hold a special place in my heart for making 09-first half of 10 the best ever. <3

My "Surprise Party"
Dave and Nate were going to be gone before my birthday, and had just missed it the previous July. So my three lovely roomies decided to invite my parents and a few friends for dinner and cake as a surprise. It was one of the nicest things anyone has done for me, and just another example of how compassionate and selfless my roomates were.

Sara's Bridal Shower
My sister and I hosted a bridal shower for Sara at my sister's house. It went so well- we had family members there who I rarely get to see, and everyone was so at peace and happy. Everyone loved Sara, too :)

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Five Year Reunion

As the ambassador for my class, one of my roles was to organize the five year reunion. We decided on a small, laid back shindig at a local bar. Had a decent turn out, not as many as I would have liked but enough for a good time and sharing laughs over old memories. Good to see some of my friends, but in a way it made me even sadder because I'm not close with my core group anymore. Oh well, it was fun.

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Spill Canvas at Caribou Coffee.

That same weekend, The Spill Canvas was doing a concert with the Goo Goo Dolls. I couldn't afford to go and was super bummed. However, they tweeted that they were doing a meet and greet at Caribou coffee. I raced my little bum up there and talked with the band for a few minutes. What sweethearts :)

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Idol Concert with Mama

Took my mom to her first Idol concert, because I knew how much she loved Casey and Lee. She had a blast :) So fun to dance around with her and sing at the top of my lungs. All the Idols really took me by surprise.

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Goodbye to my Community Members

Similiar to saying goodbye to my students, this was very bittersweet. I was so excited for each of them to go off in the world and make their mark, to take the gifts and lessons from our year with MVC and apply them to the wonderful new projects they were about to take on- but the selfish part of me wanted to keep them for myselves, forever. I am so blessed that I got the roomies I did. Each of them taught me something that I will hold on to forever. I love them so much and do not know what I would have done without their constant support and compassion. Three amazing people, three of the greatest friendships I will ever have.

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Babysitting Carter Kids

Hard work, for sure, but those two weeks taught me so much about family, strength, hope, and love. I adore those cute little Carter faces, all six of them. I know that was an extremly hard time in their life and the last thing they wanted was another babysitter telling them what to do, but we did have our fun moments- and I fell in love with the cutest little baby. I will be helping that family as much as I can for as long as I can. Amazing family. Grateful for the opportunity to babysit and become closer friends with them.

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Lady Antebellum Concert

I was so excited when Jess asked me to go with her to see Lady A. It was a strange experience, everything sort of coming full circle as far as my interest in the band goes :) Loved hearing them live on a tour that they were headlining, hearing my favorite songs, and getting chills when they closed the show with Run To You.

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Jonathon and Sara's Wedding

EEE. Best day of 2010, fo sho. Not only was it amazing to celebrate the love of two great people, but I spent quality time with family and friends who I know will always be there for me. There is no greater feeling then to be able to completly let go of all worries and just be yourself- that's what this night was for me. But, it wasn't about me- it was about JP and Sara. Their wedding was awesome- SO them in every aspect. From the creativity to the donation to the ONE campaign in memory of Laurence. Just perfect. So happy for them and glad for that amazing night.

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Visiting Cristo Rey in September
I was so nervous about going back to visit for the opening mass, even though it had only been a few months since I left. It ended up being the perfect day. I mean PERFECT. Hugs, tears, laughs. So good to see the kids, my co workers, and friends. It made me even more determined to end up back there one day. I will. Not sure how, but I will. It's home.

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American Idol Concert- Toledo
Such a fun weekend with my loves Sam and Cindy. Late night sandwiches, banana in the pants. Waiting all day for the Idols to come outside, meet and greet, show, a zillion after party passes. Giggling with Aaron Kelly and bonding with Siobhan. We had so much fun. These are the times of our life :)

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Babysitting John and Claire

I started babysitting John and Claire overnight in September and it has been one of the most amazing experiences. I know it sounds odd to describe baysitting like that but it truly has been. I have learned patience, understanding, compassion, and love. Those kids have become my own. I'd do anything for them and the family. Love them both dearly and so, so happy to have them in my life.

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Although it has not been the most amazing job ever, I'm grateful to HAVE a job in my field, making a little (and I do mean little) money, having something solid to put on paper. I know I'm supposed to be here for a reason, just haven't discovered that reason quite yet. Maybe soon. Grateful for my coworkers, especially the lead residental counselor who has showed me the ropes and taken me under her wing. Grateful to the kids for introducing me to Nicki Minaj.

Christmas Break

Woooie this break has been busy, but so fun. I can't remember laughing this hard. I don't want it to end! I just want to keep playing games with my family and playing rockband and having dinners and coffee dates with my best friends. It has been so care free and fun, but I am back to reality tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who made this an amazing break! Sad that a lot of my friends are now leaving town, but I'm hoping those who are around, we can see more of each other. Call me. :)

Training for the 1/2 Marathon

Yee has this been a process- very up and down. I want to wait and talk about this more in Feb, but for now- just know I am loving it.

So, even though the bad things that happened this year made more of an impact on my life than the good, I am grateful for the good times. It was just hard. I was going through an insane lifestyle change. I say to people that 2010 was just a losing year. I lost friends, boys, jobs, roomies, students, etc. And it wasn't just that I lost them, it was the way everything happened. But, here's to 2011. I got a good feeling about this year.

RIP to Matt Miller, Sr. Gretchen, Fred Carter, and Laurence. I love you, I miss you. Watch over us.

Thank you to my family, my MVC community members, Cristo Rey students, co workers, JVC members, Dean and Giles, Sisters of Mercy, the Carter family, Michael Card, all my friends who have supported me through everything, (you know who you are by now), American Idols Season 9, the backups, Kathy and Tom, BHGH co workers and kids, and everyone else I may be forgetting.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010- Music and Movies :)

This was an excellent year for music. I had a really difficult time picking my favorites. Enjoy.

Top 10 Albums

10) Lady Antebellum-Need You Now
9) JillandKate- Songs on the 17th
8) Jason Castro- Jason Castro
7)We Are The Fallen-Tear The World Down
6) Crystal Bowersox-farmers daughter
5) Hanson- Shout it Out
4) David Archuleta-The Other Side of Down
3)Sara Barielles-Kaliedscope Heart
2) Bruno Mars-Doo Wops and Hooligans
1) Taylor Swift-Speak Now

Bounus- EP’s ( I know this might be kind of cheating, but it was the only way I could fit in all my faves. So here are my 5 fave Ep’s of the year)

5)The Downtown Fiction- The Double EP
4)Jason Mraz- Life is Good
3)Satellite- Ring the Bells
2)Jason Castro- Changing Colors
1)The Rocket Summer- Of Men and Angels B Side

10 Favorite Singles (Some albums were not released in 10, but these singles were)

10) Airplanes- B.O.B.
9) Not Afraid- Eminem
8) Thinking About Something- Hanson
7) Bury Me Alive- We Are The Fallen
6) King of Anything- Sara Barielles
5) Glitter in the Air- Pink
4) All I ever Wanted- Kelly Clarkson
3) Hello World- Lady Antebellum
2) Telephone- Lady Gaga/Beyonce
1) Grenade- Bruno Mars

10 Favorite Non-Singles (all from albums/eps released in 2010).

10) Crystal Bowersox- Speak Now
9) Jason Castro- You Can Always Come Home
8) Rocket Summer- Peace Come Over You
7) The Spill Canvas- As Long As It Takes
6) JillandKate- Come Back
5) David Archuleta- Things Are Gonna Get Better
4) Hanson- Give A Little
3) Bruno Mars- Talking to the Moon
2) Taylor Swift- Haunted
1) Sara Barielles- Let The Rain

10 Favorite Movies I saw

10) Valentines Day
9) Easy A
8) Kick Ass
7) Ironman
6) It's Kind of a Funny Story
5) Waiting for Superman
4) The Social Network
3) Harry Potter
2) Toy Story 3
1) Incpetion

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

breakin down the walls to the impossible

Hi, friends. It's story time.

One of my first friends in high school, J Bizz (no, that's not her real name, but I've called her that for so long I don't even remember her first name...just kidding, it's Jessica. I think.), is also one of the very few high school friends I've stayed close with. I don't see her often, but the bond is still there. I know that I could call her if I needed to, and can always count on for a laugh or encouragement.

In all the years I've known J Bizz, we've had several very silly and also very serious conversations- boys, Beyonce, etc. But one of the frequent topics of conversation was her goal to graduate from the University of Michigan. Anyone who knew her knew that this was her dream, and she was GOING to reach it.

J Bizz worked her little butt off. Nothing was handed to her, nothing was easy. She had several obstacles in her way, but she conquered every single one. In stilleto heels :) After spending a few years studying at UofM Dearborn, she officially transfered to Michigan in the fall of 2008. We were all excited for her then, her dream was getting closer. Well, folks, I am happy to announce that on Sunday, December 19th, Miss Jessica graduated from the University of Michigan.

Seeing her in the cap and gown nearly made me cry. I am so very proud of her. She is an inspiration! She is living proof that if you set your mind to something and work hard towards your goal, you can do it. My little J Bizz Beyonce, I am so proud of you. You will always be one of my best friends. Good luck, my dear. I know you will do amazing things in life.

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Her story has really inspired me. I've had a rough few days emotionally. I'm just in a place that I like to call "stuck". Nothing is terrible but nothing is particularly rainbows and butterflies, either. I get into these worry fits about "what ifs" which are not good for anyone. BUT, today while thinking about J Bizz and her accomplishments, I came up with a solution. I hope.

2010 has been rough. I want 2011 to be better. But I don't just want it to be better, I'm going to make it better. I'm focusing on health and happiness in 2010. Yes, that may seem broad, but just trust me on this one. I made a list of all the things that will make me happy, and not worry as much. Then under each bullet point I made small goals to accomplish. Example:
-Improve my social life
-make it a point to call Christine, Sarah, Dean, etc.
-Join St. Hugo Young Adult Group

Make sense? Good. Thanks again, J Bizz.

Peace, love, and dreams.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I Ever Wanted Was You To Be There For Me

So I have a few things I wanted to say, and rather than bombard facebook newsfeeds, I thought I'd just compile it in a blog.

First of all I just want to thank everyone who shared my most recent blog. It was my 2nd most read entry ever. (First place is one where I quote Taylor Swift's liner notes about Speak Now, and most of those hits were from people googling it). Anyways, it meant a lot to me because all of my hits came from various facebook links of people who shared my blog. Laurence's dad one of them, as well as an organization called Airplane Day which recgonizes Laurence's humanitarian efforts. So, thank you! It touches my heart that people still like to hear those stories :)

Secondly, I went and visited my mom's classroom again today. Since I was doing MVC last year and in college the past four years, I haven't been able to really get to know one of her classes in a few years. I like to get to know the kiddies so I can put a face to the names. Plus, my mom works really hard and I like to see it in action. I know from the stories I hear from parents and kids what a wonderful teacher she is, so I always feel quite proud watching her do her thing. Today was the Christmas pagaent. They were so adorable! I wanted to squeeze their little cheeks. And I'm not just saying this cuz I'm biased, but my mom's kids totally did the best of all the 2nd graders. I didn't expect to me struck by a second grade Christmas play, but I was at one of the lines.

It happened during a song where Joseph was begging the innkeepers to let them stay there. All of the kids then turned to the audience, pointed at us, and said "innkeepers, inkeepers, do you have room for a child?". I thought it was so powerful and profound! That line stayed with me for the rest of the day- DO I make time for Jesus? Do I have room for him in my heart/mind? I'm definatley guilty of "pushing God aside" or making excuses, claiming to be too busy. What these little adorable kids taught me today is that you are never too busy or too full. There's always room for Jesus. You just have to find it and be willing. Thanks, kids.

After the play I hung out in the classroom for a while, laughing hysterically at some of the things they were saying. I found it really adorable that they were asking me to do things for them, as if I was the teachers aide. Or that many of them asked me to read the letters they got from their parents. Or my homegirl Lizzy helping me out when my mom DID put me in charge for a few minutes. She was giving me all kinds of tips and hints. Thanks, Lizzy.

So, tomorrow starts Christmas break. Which I realize is kind of nonexistant once you are out of college, but here's the deal. Last year was my first year out of college, but I was working at a school and got two weeks off for break. This year I work for an academic program, our kids go home on weekends and breaks. So technically, I'm on break as well. Except that as the on call staff person, I'll be working quite a few days over break. I have the 23rd-26th off, then the 30-January 2nd. I'm excited, though. Time to make cookies, spend time with the family. Reflect on a year of some major ups and downs. Get ready for 2011.

Finally, I have to share this video. It is the first single for Crystal Bowersox, who's debut album was just released on Tuesday. It's an incredible album. This song is called "Farmer's Daughter", and it is about the abuse and neglect she went through as a young girl. Very powerful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

long live the walls we crashed through

I've been waiting for the kids to go to sleep so I can get on the computer and blog about the really cool conversation I had today. For those who need to be brought up to speed- I'm babysitting two kids this week who I babysit for overnight quite often- every other week since mid October. My mom taught the boy in her class last year, but they don't go to that school anymore. ANYWAYS.

Today, they had a snow day. At first that terrified me. I can do personal snow days, where I just lay in bed all day and watch Glee. But having to entertain children on snow days? No. Incase you don't know much about me, let me just say I hate snow. I hate cold. I despise winter sports of any kind, snowman building included. So I was not excited about today. was kind of one of the best days ever.

We had a lazy morning. Christmas episode of Spongebob, waffles. Then I printed off a bunch of coloring pages, blank greeting cards, connect the dots, etc and made little booklets for the kids. Decided it would be best to keep them busy! Well, that lasted about 30 minutes. then the question I had been hoping would never come up- can we go play outside? My almost immediate response was "no. I'm reading Emily Giffin and drinking coffee. YOU can go outside.". But then I decided against wearing my Grinch pants that day and said "sure, let's go outside." Not only did we make the best man made sledding hill ever, but we also made an igloo. AN IGLOO. It was cold, but so much fun. Then we came in for hot chocolate and more Christmas Spongebob (I've now seen that episode at least 15 times). Then the cool conversation happened (sorry it took me so long to get here, but I had to document that I actually had a good time outside. in the winter.).

The three of us were talking about saints. Don't ask me why because with these kids I can never keep track. And I said that it takes a really long time to become a saint.

Claire "Yeah, like Laurence should be a saint..."
Me "Laurence? Which Laurence?"
Claire "You know that dude?"
Me "...I think so..."
Claire "He had cancer in his brain and he died. But he was really good"
Me "Claire, that was my cousin"

Now. This was remarkable for a few reasons. Claire has severe learning disabilities. It takes a LOT for her to remember things. So for her to remember Laurence, even though he was talked about an awful lot last year in school, was amazing. He obviously made quite an impact on her, and the rest of the family. It just reminded me how much his story had touched peoples lives, even a seven year old girl with no relation to him. I still think of Laurence in some way shape or form daily, and have tried so hard to mold my life around his mission (although I will never come close), but today's conversation just took me by such shock and the best way possible. I love that guy, too.

The rest of the day was just as great as the morning- we even went BACK outside. I really enjoyed it, but I sure hope they have school tomorrow because I am out of snow day ideas.

I wrote something today that is so cheesy it could be an Idol coronation song. Seriously. But lately it has been so rare for me to find inspiration that I wanted to share. my head this is a rap. Which I know is even more ridiculous than magic rainbows...but I can't stop listening to Nicki Minaj's album so I'm blaming it on that.

I believe music can save our souls
And connect even the loneliest strangers
Who are anxiously waiting for that curtain up, cue the band
Belly up to the barricade
Singing along to the words they know so well
Escaping reality with thousands of their closest friends
Cuz no one gets them like these lyrics and melodies
I don't believe in lost causes
Everyone deserves to be found
I was one of them, destined for failure
But baby look at me now, I believe in me
and I believe in you

I believe everyone has a voice
So if you'r waiting your for your turn
This is me telling you it's time
You are important and you better believe
You are loved
So step up, stand up, and be loud
I don't believe in lost causes
Everyone deserves to be found
I was one of them, destined for failure
But baby look at me now, I believe in me
and I believe in you

I believe that time is precious
And life can't always be according to our plans
So lose the grudge, forgive, and love hard
Love with all you've got
Because of all the things I believe in
I believe the right answer is always love


Monday, December 6, 2010

Guess I Better Move On

Random blog post is random.

Yep, this is going to be one of those blog posts where I just ramble about things. I'm not sure if anyone has even noticed I haven't blogged in a few days, but just incase...I am alive. No worries :)

Here's the thing. I've been super, super stressed about my lack of writing. I know that may seem like a silly little thing to be stessed out...but you have to understand that for me, writing is my escape. So not being able to write has been painful. I simply have nothing to write about these days. There's nothing to inspire me. Last year, my kids at Cristo Rey inspired me every single day. Working at Focus Big Brothers Little Hope Sisters Club has not had the same affect. Not that the kids aren't great...cuz they are. (Most of the time). They just aren't the same. It's nothing I can explain very well, so you'll just have to trust me.

So let's see. Here are the things happening in my life:
-While I haven't had any inspiration in writing blogs or song lyrics, I have been pretty successful with my Women of Faith essay. What that means, for those who have no idea:

Do you have a story to share? Something meaningful; something funny; something that changed your heart, your soul, or your way of seeing the world? When you share it with us you could be sharing it with people around the world.

Women of Faith, Inc. and WestBow Press (both divisions of Thomas Nelson, Inc.) have created a writing contest exclusively for you. WestBow Press offers you the opportunity to publish your faith-based writing with a company that combines Christian values and professional services.

When I saw the ad for this contest, I knew I had to enter. I know the chances of winning are slim, but I'm just excited for people "in the business" to read my writing. Women of Faith is kind of my dream outlet for my writing. When I attended the conference on 08, I thought I want to be up on that stage one day, telling my story. Maybe this sounds egotistical, but I believe I have an important story, and I want to inspire people. Writing this essay has so far been a really interesting journey. It has forced me to be honest about some of the hardest times of my life. I've written things in here that will surprise people, things I have kept to myself. I went back and read old blog entries from my college years and wow. I've cringed, I've laughed, I've even cried a little. I'll admit I'm scared for people to read it once it's finished.

-It's December. I really, really, REALLY dislike December. I know, it's Christmas and we should be happy and joyful. I just get so stressed out by the cold, dark days (the sun has officially left Michigan. We won't see it until March), and the holiday season. Plus, I want to eat like...everything. I'm not sure if it's because it's cold or what, but sheesh, I'm hungry all the time!

-Letters to God is a beautiful movie. I cried 95% of the time. It has pretty much every cliche possible (from the "tom boy" best friend named Sam to the angry older brother) BUT it is a really great story. It reminded me so much of Laurence and Amanda- little warriors that they were :) I strongly suggest watching it. You will be inspired.

And, my friends, I think that might be it. Life is pretty cold, snowy, and boring. I hope yours is a little more exciting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanks for loving me, cuz you're doing it perfectly

I have to tell you guys about something terrible that happened today. I know, today is supposed to be about gratitude and joy...but I have to get out the pain somewhere.

I was at my uncle's house in Lansing, just like every year. All was well. Wine in my hand, chatting with relatives. Made a little comment, something like "all I need are sweet potatoes, and I'm good to go". My aunt says... "I didn't bring them". I swear to you I got tears in my eyes.

No sweet potatoes.

Just about the worst thing someone can tell me on Thanksgiving. Okay, I know much worse things can happen, but this is also a mini tragedy in my life.

Isn't that just horrible? Don't worry, after some deep breathing and more wine, I got over it. Kind of.

Anyhow. Thanksgiving. I had a lot of time to reflect on what I am thankful for yesterday on my 10 mile walk. And I decided the best way to do this is in a list. So, here we go:
-God. I am so thankful that God loves me and protects me, that He does not give up on me and that He helps me through all the hardest times in my life and brings me what I need. So so lucky.
-My family. It's like no matter what happens, I know I will always have a home. We've been through some challenges (what family hasn't) but we are a strong little army of seven. I would do anything for my family members. I am very lucky and grateful that both of my siblings have found a genuine, true love and have shared that love with the rest of us, so I now have two more siblings :) Plus, my parents have just about saved me this year. At the end of my year with MVC, I had no idea what was going to happen next. They could have easily said "well, good luck." but instead, they said "you can stay with us for as long as you need too". I know everyone makes jokes about movin back in with the rents...and yeah, it has been very tough at times. But the good outweighs the bad. 95% of the time, it has been a real joy. They love me, they care about me, and they support me. It's pure, genuine, unconditional, and everlasting.
- An incredible support system. I don't have a lot of people that I can "hang out" with anymore- most are living elsewhere- but I do have a very long list of people that I can count on for support and prayers...and that means the world to me. Just yesterday I was in a little pickle. I had left my ipod at home on my walk. Big mistake. 10 miles without music is incredibly tough. My sister had walked the first three with me, then I was on my own. It was cold, it was dark, and I was needing some motivation. So I sent a quick text to some friends asking for inspiration. Almost immediately I had a ton of responses- song lyrics, quotes, cheers, even a picture of Isaac Hanson (thanks, Sam). That was just one little example of some of the amazing things they do for me. I feel incredibly supported. I may be lonely at times, but I know I am never alone. I am grateful for that.
-The lessons I learned with my year with MVC. I'm STILL trying to process 09-10. Sometimes I feel like it didn't even happen. It was just a really long dream. I don't know how long it will take me to really understand the magic of that year, but I do know that when I think about it, I smile. I wish I could place myself back into any day last year and relive it just for one day, because I miss it so much. I miss the Sisters of Mercy, tje JV's, my coworkers, my students, and my community members. I know that I was incredibly blessed to be able to spend a year volunteering in Detroit with outstanding people to work with. I will never forget it, and I know it made me a better person. <3
-That I was able to find work that is meaningful and rewarding. My new job started off a little rough, and I did not think it was going to work out. But in the past few weeks I have really appreciated it. I know I won't be there forever, but I'm happy there for the time being. I'm still learning and getting the hang out of it, and I definitely did not have the instant connection I did with Cristo Rey. But I enjoy doing it, being able to support a group of teenagers in need. Plus I'm just very glad I was able to find something. Cuz those few months where I was completely jobless were miserable. Also, babysitting John and Claire has been a wonderful experience. They are my little buddies now and I love spending time with them and getting to know them.
-Music and writing. The two things that get me through each and every day. Everyone goes through the bad days. The important thing is to find something or someone that will guide you. Mine have all been listed above, with a side dish of music and writing.
-My health, and the fact that I am able to continue to strengthen my health through daily walking.

I truly hope that all of you had an amazing Thanksgiving, that is was full of all things that are happy. We had a great time, watching the Lions and then playing our annual flag football game. (But tell me why I got tackled...twice?). It's always good to see the extended family :)

Again, hope your days were lovely. But please don't tell me how amazing your sweet potatoes were unless you want me to hit you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

forget regret

When my year with Mercy Volunteer Corps was coming to a close, someone said "This year will always have an impact on you. It might not happen right away, but it will hit you."

It's happening. Only, not MVC. I don't think that time has come yet. I'm really missing college lately. I graduated in 2009 and then went right into my year of volunteering. Now, I really miss college. This probably comes as a surprise to those who know me quite well, considering I could not wait to get out. But here's the thing I miss it in two different ways...

First, I miss it in that I miss the nights of laughter. Particularly my last two years...when we would have Christmas movie marathons and drink hot chocolate, or spend rainy Sunday's playing RockBand. I miss frat parties and my secret little coffee shop and the spot on East Campus where you can see all of Kalmazoo. I miss watching Greys and Idol with a room full of my best friends. I miss dance parties in the kitchen. I miss driving to the den with Lauren. I miss classes. (Yep. True)

The other side of it is...I've grown up a lot since then. I am a different person. And I just wish I could go back and tell myself how to act, what decisions to make. I miss the good times, and it also makes me sad that I can't go back and change a few things around. No matter how many times I can say "Oh, I wouldn't change anything, it made me who I am, no regrets", deep down I know...I'd do anything to change those circumstances. And I don't really understand what I was supposed to learn from all the sucky things that no one? Because that's what I learned. I learned that even people who call you sister will still stab you in the back. Not a great memory to have from college, friends.

If I could, I would go back in a second. I'd put my hands on my 18 year old selfs shoulders and guide her through the next four years carefully. But I can't do that, so I will try my best to remember the good times I had and be grateful for the bad, even though they leave me bitter, I will try to remember that I am stronger because of them. Forget regret, no day but today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

oh darling, don't you ever grow up

So most of you are probably aware that I've been babysitting for the same family overnight lately. This is my third week doing it, and I'm getting more and more attached to these kids. Tonight I was tucking C into bed and she said "guess what? When I'm nine, I'm going to horse back riding camp. What did you do when you were nine?"

Do you know I could not think of a single cool thing I did when I was nine? I just stared at her like she asked me if I had ever been to outer space or something...trying to come up with a really awesome answer. I racked my brain....there has to be SOMETHING. All I could say was "Well, I was in fourth I probably learned cursive". Um, LAME. First of all now a days kids learn cursive in second grade. Secondly, was that IT?

The conversation was just another reminder of how fast time flies by. I have been very lucky to form strong bonds with young people, especially in the past year. From little baby Caroline to the nearly 18 year olds. I've heard their stories, seen them cry. I've had to say goodbye to many of them, move on. I didn't want to...I just want to protect all of them. I don't want them to grow up and forget how exciting it is to be nine and going to horse back riding camp. I don't want anyone to break their hearts or make them cry. I want them to live in their little bubble of bliss forever...but I know that they can't. That soon, if not already, they will be faced with really tough challenges. And they will have to learn how to deal with them. That though is so scary for me, and I can't imagine what it is like as a parent.

Like I said, time flies by. But I don't think that is any reason to be apathetic. I think it means we need to give 100% at every moment. We need to celebrate the people in our lives, because they won't be around forever. I can't quite find the write words I am trying to say, but here are the lyrics I wrote about it.

I could return to my old ugly habit
push you away before you g>t too close
So it won't hurt as much when you're gone
But I've grown up, and instead I want you to know
I'm smiling like a fool, writing down our memories
Taking all of this in, every moment we share
Because now I know forever doesn't exist
And something just ma> break us apart

We can try and hold on
But I've accepted life happens
And reality just might be bold enough
l you from me

So I'll enjoy it while I can
And miss you when you're gone
Don't worry, my friend
You're forever in my heart
I refuse to forget you, to let this vanish

We can try and hold on
But I've accepted life happens
And reality just might be bold enough
To step in and steal you from me

And to those who are already gone
I know things back then were messy
But please believe me, I hope your life is beautiful
Just like you... and the times we had
Cliche as it may be, the good and the bad
And I am ever so grateful
That for even just a moment
Our lives collided, and we shared our hearts.

We tried to hold on,
But I've accepted life happens
And reality was oh so bold enough
To step in and steal you from me

There's one more thing you should all hear
Straight from my heart to your ears
The bold reality is this-
The love I have for you is real
It always was, it always will be
Do good, my favorite friend.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

leave it in the valley

Remember when you were a little kid, and you had someone you just really admired? You looked at them and thought "I want to be like ___ when I grow up" ? Maybe it was a teacher, or a TV show character (Hey Aunt Becky Hey). Have you lost that feeling?

I’ve always believed in the importance of mentoring. Not just in the structured sense, like Big Brothers Big Sisters or through a school program, but just in general. People often associate mentoring with kids, but that is not the kind of mentoring I am talking about tonight.I am talking about having someone to look up to, no matter what age you are. We could all use a little guidance, the important part is having a person that is going through a similar life experience, or has already been through it, to look to for advice.

I have different mentors for areas of my life. For faith, it is Mrs. MacLennan. Writing, Mr. Schusterbaur and two great friends of mine, Shari and Jena. For motivation, encouragement, faith, perseverance, Melinda. In addition, I am faced with two daily challenges: my weight loss journey and anxiety. I have (thankfully) plenty of people in my life whom I can turn to for support, but there is one person who I look to as a role model and a guide in both of these areas: Mandisa.

Mandisa has been known to publicly share her struggle with her weight and anxiety. In fact, she wrote a book about it, and I owe a lot of my success to her. It was not until I read her book that I even grasped what was going on in my own life. Before I read it I thought I was completely alone, constantly wondering “what’s wrong with me?”. Mandisa’s story helped me to begin to rewrite my own.

Since then, she has been a constant source of support. I have been lucky enough to be able to communicate with her, through myspace, twitter, and different events. She has been an absolute blessing in my life, and definitely a mentor. I look to her for many things- encouragement, recipes, exercise tips, scripture, and, obviously, music. Her music has gotten me through my toughest days, and I can also rely on her tweets to get me through my challenges. She tells us when she is struggling, she reports when she has a good day. She keeps me going on my own routine. Every single day is a challenge, but knowing that Mandisa is going through the exact same thing is a huge motivation. By the way, homegirl has lost nearly 100 pounds and looks amazing. I am so proud of her for all of her accomplishments, both internal and external!

Mandisa spreads her story. She shares it every weekend with hundreds of women at Women of Faith events across the country. I know that she is making an impact on so many lives, and I am really quite grateful to be one of them. By now she knows what she means to me, but I always like to remind her. :)

So please allow yourself to look up to someone. We don’t have to be little kids to admire another person. We're all in this life together, we may as well help each other out.

Going to close with a song by...well, Mandisa.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

believe in me, you are not alone

One of my incredibly gifted friends, Shari, recently wrote this

"sometimes it’s okay to lean on someone. It doesn’t make you weaker. It makes you stronger."

I'll admit something. I used to be afraid to ask for help. Afraid that it would make me seem weak, or stupid. Instead, I would keep everything completely trapped inside of me, waiting to explode at the smallest little trigger. And trust me, I've exploded multiple times. Many people reading this have not seen me in one of those states...but I could be so stressed out that I bawl my eyes out because I can't find my keys. It's not because I've lost my keys that I'm crying. It's because there are a zillion things going on in my mind that I cannot control, and it call comes out the second one more thing piles on. Luckily for me, I have the help I need. I've found a pretty strong support system in my family and a few close friends. I've learned, through time, that being able to say "hey, I really need you for this..." not only makes me stronger, but makes the outcome of the situation much more positive. Without my support system I would be nothing. Life is a daily, step by step process for me and for many others. I am so blessed to say that I can lean on people whom I trust when the road gets rocky.

The lesson in all of this is to make sure you are letting yourself lean on someone else. You don't always have to be the savior. You can fall apart sometimes, too. Just make sure you have someone there to help you pick up the pieces. How do you find those people? You'll know who they are. They are the ones who have never left your side, even in the worst of times. The ones who you can call at any time of day and say "I just need someone to talk too.." The ones who are always up for a sleepover or a movie night, who forgive you, who love you completely. For me, that happens to be my family. My sweet friends (you know who you are), the backups. The people who can make you laugh the hardest.

Speaking of laughter...I've always fully agreed laughter is the best medicine. I mean really, how can you not? Last night, I was blessed to see that cliche put into practice. In a living room sat four people. Four completely different people, in different stages of life. Yet, last night, we were bound together by love and laughter. All of our worries, problems, fears...they fell apart. Drifted into the air with our uncontrollable giggles. Most girls my age would probably think hanging out with my parents and an amazing "family friend" was totally lame on a Saturday night. But to me, it was perfect. It was necessary, and I hope to have many more nights just like that. It felt good to laugh. :)

I hope everyone has a beautiful week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


If you're anything like me then you think forgiveness is like going to the dentist for your 6 month cleaning. You know you really should go, but you hate it...and would do just about anything to get out of it. It's no fun at all, annoying, and can be painful. All our lives we are taught "forgive and forget". Being told to forgive someone gives me anxiety. I sort of wrinkle up my face and cross my arms...why should I?

Here's the thing. We've all be hurt by someone. That hurt can do so many things- most often it turns into anger, or bitterness. To forgive someone doesn't mean you have to forget what someone did to you, or that it makes it okay to do it again. What forgiveness does, in my opinion, is allows you to turn a negative situation into a positive one. When you forgive someone, you are bringing a sense of peace into the conflict. Rather than plotting ways to get revenge or dwelling on your hurt feelings, You are saying "Okay, I'm hurt, but I am strong enough to say that I can forgive you, and move on with my life". By forgiving the person who hurt you, you are putting the control back in your hands. You are no longer the victim, they do not have power over you. I think we often dismiss forgiveness because it feels like we are giving the person another chance, but it is really quite the opposite.

Forgiveness is hard, especially if the other person won't admit to their wrong doing or maybe they didn't even know that they hurt you. But just because something is hard does not mean we don't do it. We try. Write about it. Pray about it. You will be able to do it once you realize the peace that will come with it.

A few years ago I was hurt really badly by one of my best friends. It wasn't just one little fight or misunderstanding, it was one big mess of lies and petty drama. This person knew they had control over me, so they did whatever they could do belittle me...from leaving me angry drunk voice mails about how it was all my fault to completely ignoring me. It hurt, especially coming from someone who used to be so close to me, a person who was there for me in my hardest times. For a while I just didn't speak to this person. I thought this was the easiest solution. I held a major grudge and when people would ask me about it, I got very defensive. It took a lot for me to forgive them, but eventually I did, because I couldn't keep living with pent up anger and bitterness. I wrote them a letter stating my forgiveness. With forgiveness came peace. Am I friends with this person? No. Does it hurt? Sometimes...but I know in the end it was the best thing for us. I miss the good times we shared together but I am so glad we have been able to move forward. I can promise you that if I had not stepped up and forgave them, they would still have control over me to do this day.

So...if there is someone out there you need to forgive...push past the fear, the annoyance and just take a leap and do it. Pray about it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dear November....

Dear November,
This may seem kind of cheesy, but I've been told I'm great at writing letters. So hey, how are ya? You're back! I've always liked you, November. The last time you were in my life, things were much different. I was happy. Not that I'm not happy now...I am happy. It's just a different kind of happy. Everything was just...right. Perfect, even. OH, except those few days I was really sick and everyone though I had swine flu. That was NOT fun. But I'll forget about that because you gave me one of the best Thanksgiving weekends I can ever remember having. Anyways. You were great. I loved my job, had great friends and an amazing support system, a cleansing spirituality. That's all gone. It slipped away somehow. Somewhere between then and now, it's all disappeared. The thing is November, I could have all of that now, if I tried. I'm not really trying. I've just sort of settled into this web of "oh, I'm doing fine". Where as last year, I would enthusiastically reply "I'm FREAKING AMAZING, how are you?" I think I deserve more than fine...don't I? I think so. No, wait. I know so. So, November, I'm writing to you for a little help. You and I, let's do this. There's only a little bit left of 2010, I want to make it as magical as possible. I hope you have some glitter left in ya. I promise to put 100% of myself into you. All I ask is for a little sunshine. I love you, November. Thanks for listening.

Love, Megan

PS: I know you're all about gratitude, so I'd like to say thank you for being the birth month of my best friend, Sam. :)

I have big plans. Small steps will lead to big changes. These last two months of 2010 are gonna rock. I have to prepare for the epicness that will be 2011. Life is what you make it. That's been the biggest lesson for me to learn in these past few weeks. I have a choice. I'm choosing happiness. What will you choose? If you could write a letter to November, what would you say?

On a COMPLETELY different, but much needed note:

I don't usually spend my time talking about teenage Disney stars, but something about this Demi Lovato story hits me hard. I have no idea why. I mean I've always liked Demi. I thought she had an edge to her...which now I'm realizing could have been the root to her problems. For those of you who don't speak pop culture, here's the story from how I understand it: Demi is in a "treatment facility" for "physical and emotional reasons". It's been said it was for eating disorders and cutting herself, and rumors are also going around that she was a coke addict. I anyone really surprised? What do you expect when all eyes are on you...from kids ages 5-19? They watch your every move. You are a product, not a person. You're supposed to be this little perfect role model. Half of those kids are completely obsessed with you and sleep under sheets with your face on it. The other half can't stand you because they are "team Selena" or whatever nonsense, so they find every way possible to bring you down. At some point you are bound to crack. Anyways, my heart goes out to the girl. I pray that she gets the help she needs and I am very proud of her for being brave enough to ask for help. That takes guts. I hope this is a lesson to all her young fans. If you need help, get it. You deserve it. You are WORTH IT.

Also, stop trashing Ashley Greene. This is not her fault. Depression is internal. It is about your perception of self. If that is distorted, you are on the road to eating disorders and the like. No one is to blame here, so instead of focusing your energy on hating some girl, spend it sending positive vibes to the one you admire.

And...I'm finished.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My American Idol

“Cheer up, don’t be afraid. For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you in great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song.” — Zephaniah 3:16–18 TLB

I've always believed that God speaks to me through music. Yes, He is always surprising me by speaking to me in the strangest of circumstances, but most often it is through music. When I am most lonely, most afraid, all I have to do is turn on the radio or load up my ipod and sure enough there will be a song that speaks to my heart. Sometimes I'll even just find myself randomly thinking of the time I was on a silent retreat, focusing on what was coming next in my life. I was so full of questions, so confused. A little phrase came into mind.. "there will be an answer, let it be". I was so impressed that God knows me so well that He used one of my favorite songs to deliver His message.

The idea of God singing for me is overwhelming- in the best way possible. It makes me think of all my concert experiences, and how giddy I get if the lead singer just happens to look my way while singing a great tune. Now I sit here and imagine God singing a song all about me, for only me, and it is truly beautiful. I believe that God's song for me is one that fills me with peace and joy and reminds me that I am loved. If God was on American Idol, I'd totally vote for Him :) I am so grateful to have my very own song sung by God.

Are you listening? Take a step back. You don't want to miss what He is saying to you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting For Superman

Don't ask me why I am sitting down to blog about a brilliant film at midnight. I have no idea. I should be sleeping right now. Clearly that is not happening. Moving on...

Following suggestions from my sister and a few friends, I went and saw Waiting For Superman today. I'm extremly glad I did. I've worked in school systems before, both private and public, but this film opened my eyes to the problems our education system faces. The stats are shocking, and yes, depressing. Simply put, our kids are not getting the education they deserve, or the education they need to survive. Our nations scores are among the lowest of the developed countries. This is not something to be proud of and this is NOT something we can ignore. We have to do something.

Here's the thing...everyone needs to see this movie. I don't care who you are, what political party you belong too. If you have an ounce of concern for the state of our country, you should be in the theatre right NOW watching this movie. We should all care about public education because it effects all of us. Without a proper education system, we will fail in the areas of poverty, the economy, even health care. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. Just by going to see it you will already be helping, because you are making yourself more aware of the problems.

What else can we do? Volunteer. Don't lie to me and tell me you don't have a free hour or two that you could be using tutoring a child in need. In some of these schools, kids are two or three grade levels behind, because no one is pushing them. Poor teachers are allowing kids to just slip through the cracks, not bothering to get them extra help or, in some cases, even teach them at all. It may not seem fair to you that you are being asked to pick up the slack, but it's also not fair that kids are not being taught. We wonder why there are so many drop outs. It's not the neighborhoods or the's the schools themselves. So spend some time tutoring, or mentoring. Set an example, influence a kid. Help them prepare for college. Do whatever you can to show them how absolutley necessary education is in our country.

You know, this movie made me so very grateful for schools like Detroit Cristo Rey...and the rest of the Cristo Rey Network. The movie spent a great deal of time talking about teachers who simply do not care, know they will not get fired and therefore slack off. You don't see that at Cristo Rey. Cristo Rey was designed specifically for low income students who cannot afford a private education. With it's work study program tuition is knocked down and made affordable. So, these kids are getting a challenging, college prep education along with work experience for an affordable price. On top of that, they are getting amazing teachers and staff who care about the students more than their salary. I encouarge you to find out more about the Cristo Rey story by visiting the national website- . Cristo Rey schools could be the superman we are waiting for.

Obviously, I am quite passionate about this, because it breaks my heart to know that kids are dropping out of schools because people don't care about them. Bull. The future of our country depends on these kids. It is our duty as adults to change things. It starts now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

speak now

Normally, I would wait until all the chaos is over, write a blog about how I got through it. This time is different. I've been faced head on with some obstacles as far as scheduling, time conflicts, promises, etc. It all revolves around work and only some of it is in my hands, the rest is completely out of my control. There's nothing I can really do except take it one step at a time. One day at a time. Breathe and remember it's going to be okay, the world will not end. I need to write about it as it is happening to be able to vent and to truly let my strength shine through. Now, keep in mind this is nothing drastic, but it is stressful. Keep me in your prayers, please.

So, Taylor Swift's album came out today. Don't worry, I won't give you a track by track review. But, I think it's worth talking about. The idea behind the album is powerful itself- Speak Now. Each song is an open confession to a real person in Taylors life- ex boyfriends, enemies, Kanye, etc. The album def shows her maturity and growth as an artist and a songwriter. Taylor is braver than I. She keeps no secrets with this album. From the lyrics to the little hidden messages in the liner notes, she makes it clear who each song is about. In her message to her fans, she says this

"I think the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest. So say it. Or say it to yourself in a mirror. Maybe it will come out in a letter you'll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying 'I could've, but it's too late now.' There is a time for silence. There is a time for waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you'll know it.I don't think you should wait. I think you should speak now. Love, Taylor."

The idea of this is so powerful to me. I so often hold back from saying something in fear of how someone will respond. I can't live in fear. I can't hold it all in. If I'm hurt, I should say so. Confused, ask for help. Scared, reach for a hand. This week I am going to challenge myself to tell all the people in my life who have been there for me through EVERYTHING these past few months...heartbreak, frustration, anxiety, joy, fear, etc..that I love them. I've already put Taylor's "fearless" idea into practice. It's time to speak now. I hope you do that same. You have a voice, and it deserves to be heard. You have a story, you are important.

Love, love, love.

PS- Favorite songs? "Dear John", "Haunted", "Enchanted".

Monday, October 18, 2010

oh, and you are loved

Life update:

I have started my jobs. EEEE. I know some people are dying to know all about them, so here is just a mini update.

Job numero uno, at Big Boys Brothers Club Hope Little Girls Sisters Hope Club. (That's my new name for it). I am there as a part time residential counselor. Translation- I have the same duties of a house mom, without living in the house. I mentor, tutor, cook, clean, drive. I'm working mainly with the girls, but will fill in as needed with the boys. The scholars (kids...we call them scholars) live in the house during the week. Our organization pays for their education and daily living expenses, as well as teaches them life skills. It's a really wonderful program and I am so excited to be part of the family. I have only worked three days so far, but have had great experiences. I'm still getting used to the routine and the scholars, and they are still adjusting to me as well. I will update more once I get a real grasp of the place.

Job number two just started today. I will be working as a consultant/assistant for a wonderful woman I know. Her job is too help provide grants and outreach on government programs aimed toward the departments of health/education. My job is to help her. For example, right now she is working on an initiative to reduce tobacco use among low income women. The reason for this is to benefit their health and the health of their children. The program we design will provide health education materials, counseling/social support, research, etc. So right now I'm in the beginning stages of finding organizations that provide resources/training on this so we can collaborate all the resources onto one website. Make any sense? Probably not. What matters is I know what I'm doing and I am glad to be helping out any way that I can :)

So, other than that, not much is going on. I've had some major writing blocks because my life really is not providing much inspiration, neither good nor bad. But I will say this.

I have learned the importance of finding a support system. No matter what it is you are going through, having people that love you surrounding you is absolutely essential. Luckily, I have seen this in my life often, especially as of late. From the people who helped me to get my jobs, to the people who call/text to ask how they are going, all the people supporting my 1/2 marathon training, etc. On my very first day of work I was completely inspired by the fact that two of my friends showed up at our organization's open house. It made things less stressful for me, and helped me to get through the night without a mental breakdown. I wouldn't be able to do any of this without the support I have been given.

I also think it is important to be grateful for that support. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who texts/calls, reads my blogs, likes my facebook statuses, etc. You mean the world to me and I cannot thank you enough for everything that you do. Once I finish the 1/2 marathon in February you are all getting a personal letter- including the music artists whose songs have gotten me through the training.

Moral of the story is- find yourself some support. No matter what you are dealing with- you need the support to get you through, even if it's something wonderful and exciting like getting married. Then, show your gratitude for those people, turn around and help out someone else. You never know who could need it. Tell the people in your life that you love them, tell them why you love them. Don't be afraid to speak your love.

I haven't shared song lyrics in a while. I wrote this tonight. It was inspired by a friend of mine. It goes out to everyone who loves and cares for someone who doesn't feel the same.

You flash that bright, sweet smile
Trick them to believe you’re doing fine
But we both know there’s more to you
Than what you’re willing to show the world
let somebody see what’s behind that wall
oh please let that somebody be me
This may seem like a desperate call for your attention
But I’ve been silent for much too long now
And I think it’s time you knew
I could be the one for you
Chorus: Oh I pinky promise I really do care
I’m not like the rest, how can I make you believe
Your secrets are safe with me
I want to know every word to your story
What breaks your heart, who was your first love
Tell me your dreams, what moves your heart

Whenever I see you I can’t help but wish
For more time to be with you, let you break down right infront of me
I smile to myself as you walk past
Hold back from following you and taking your hand
Stop myself from screaming that I love you
And I, I must confesss, I wonder about you all the time
I can sense the trouble in your bright green eyes
Together we will be just fine
Chorus: Oh I pinky promise I really do care
I’m not like the rest, how can I make you believe
Your secrets are safe with me
I want to know every word to your story
What breaks your heart, who was your first love
Tell me your dreams, what moves your heart

I can’t take you away from your own little world
Just believe that I’ll be here waiting
When you’re ready to let someone in
Oh please let that someone be me

Monday, October 11, 2010

what we need in this world is some love

Megan Carolin is a straight ally and today is National Coming Out Day. I'm coming out for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality because it's 2010 and almost 90% of LGBT youth experience harassment in school, and too many lives have been lost.

That is my current facebook status. Today is National Coming Out Day, and it is something that should be talked about. I am a straight ally. I want everyone in my life to know that I love them and support them for who they are. Please don't be afraid to be yourself for me. I think you are beautiful. I know this because I know everyone is beautiful. I truly believe that. I cannot even begin to express how passionate I am about telling every person how special they are.

Recently there has been a huge rise in the number of teen suicides as result of harassment/bullying for their sexual preference. You'd think we would be past that, it's 2010- but it's clear that it's a battle we fight every day. I'll be honest, I didn't see much of this in my own high school experience. Probably because I went to an all girls school where we were more concerned about whether or not there were fresh cookies in the cafeteria that day, but in my four years I never saw bullying or harassment. A little gossip, maybe, but that was it. In college I heard a few stories but I was still hesitant to believe it was really a problem, after all, my group of friends from home loved each other no matter what. I had a few gay friends and no one had a problem with it. I couldn't believe when people told me that where they came from, it was "disgusting" and "wrong".

It wasn't until I worked at a high school that it really sunk in. I had a few students that were tormented because of their sexual orientation. Cyber bullying and rude, hurtful remarks were a daily occurrence. My heart hurt for those kids, and I was always quick to defend them. One student came out to me. We'll call him James. I will never forget that day. James came to me and asked if we could talk. This didn't surprise me, he was a frequent flyer in the peer mediation department- because girls were always fighting over him. That day, though, he told me "Miss Carolin, I'm gay. I have a crush on a boy." I said "okay, James" he smiled. "I knew you wouldn't laugh at me. You're different". I asked him if he had told anyone else, and that's when his mood changed. For the next 15 minutes he sat there crying telling me he would never tell anyone else because it would ruin him. A few days later, James was back at my desk. "I told my best friend. She put it on facebook and everyone went nuts. Now no one is talking to me". I didn't know what to say. I just told him that I was there for him and that people can be cruel, but that he should know he is important and worth it. The bullying continued, although it was not as severe as I know it could have been. Thank God for that. I still think about James and wonder how he's doing. I promised him things would get better. I hope that they did and he is happy and loved.

So, I am a straight ally because I want the bullying to stop. No one should ever feel that low, that unworthy of love. We are all deserving of love. Every single one of us, and who are we to judge someone and say that they are not? You can't do that. I don't know how long it will take for people to understand that. I will continue to fight for these rights, because it is something I believe in. If anyone out there is feeling lost, hurt, alone, know that I stand by you. Hugs and kisses to all. You are beautiful.

In support of National Coming Out Day, I suggest each of us take a deep breath and admit something to the world. It can be silly, it can be personal and serious. Just do something to show your support. While you're at it, say a prayer for everyone coming out today, that they be shown support and love. If you haven't taken your stand, do it today. Now. Don't wait, or keep it inside. People need to know that you love them and will be there for them. It could save their life.

I am going to close with a song that gives me hope. Maybe it will touch some of you, as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

talking to the moon

First of all I just want to thank everyone who was texted/called/emailed me asking about my jobs. Unfortunately, I have no real news to report because I have yet to start. I've been all over Oakland County getting fingerprinted, tested, questioned, and asked out on dates by male nurses holding my urine sample. So, once I actually start work, I promise I will update you!

So, I've been babysitting this week. Overnight. Which means- waking the kids up and getting them ready for school, dropping off carpool, running errands, feeding them after school snack, helping with homework, making dinner, getting ready for bed, repeat. Basically, I'm mom. Let me tell you- it was challenging. It has given me an incredible appreciation for all the moms out there. It gave me a love and support for two great kids. When John came home from school on Thursday and told me that another kid was making fun of him at lunch, I was enraged. Who had the guts to mess with MY kid? And what kind of low life parents allow their kids to say such nasty things? I wanted to go in there the next morning and kick that kid's butt! I know that may seem a little dramatic, but I was angry! I really enjoyed my week with those kids, it has given me a whole new sense of responsibility. I've also realized I don't think I could be a stay at home mom. The day to day routine of it all would slowly kill me. I can totally see how stay at home moms or dads get addicted to shopping or gambling.

Besides the babysitting and getting shots all week, a highlight was a get together with my best friend Christine. We are both amazed that we have been friends for 18 years. You don't get many chances in life for that kind of friendship. It's not just about the length of time, but the depth of the relationship. Christine knows so many of my secrets, she knows things that no one else but God knows. I have complete trust in her. She's never done me wrong and I'm confident she never will. She knows about all my crushes, hopes and dreams, failures. It's an easy friendship. We understand each other, accept each other, and love each other. I'm really happy for her because she's very happy with the way everything is going for her right now- amazing boyfriend, great internship, and she'll be finishing school in December. You go girl, I'm proud of you as always. Thanks for these 18 years. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. We ARE having a party when it hits 20. Count on it :)

So I have about a million things going on in my life right now. I need to figure it all out on my own, one baby step at a time. One thing I can share right now is that I am entering in a pretty cool writing contest. The deadline is January, so I have plenty of time. The prize is to get a book published by a Christian publishing company. I'm really excited about it and plan on taking my sweet time making it just right. It could change everything for me, or it could have no effect at all if I'm chosen- but I know I'll learn a lot along the way, which is what I am most excited about.

Alright loves, have a good weekend. <3

Song of the day:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

save a life; listen to new music

What are you going to do today? Read a book, watch Law and Order, go to work, or class? Every day we go through the motions. We make decisions that will be the best for us and those we love. There are some people in this world who can't make thos decisions. They are struck with disease. Malaria is one of those diseases, and it kills a child in Africa every 45 seconds.... but it's preventable. We can play a role in STOPPING those deaths. That whole idea is absolutley incredible to me. So what are you going to do about it? Well, try and spice it up a little bit. You can go home to your family and say "I saved a life today". All you need is $10. You can go to to donate one bednet. That's all it takes.

The reason I am asking you to do this TODAY is because of my idol, inspiration, and friend, Melinda Doolittle, whose birthday is today. Melinda is asking all of her twitter followers and facebook friends to donate one bednet. Melinda is the most selfless, compassionate person I have ever known. As we celebrate her life, we can save other lives. You can help other people have another birthday. Please buy a bednet today in Melinda's name. Help her wish come true and save a life.

While you're opening a new tab to donate, I'll keep writing. There's some new music I have to tell you about.

Four of my favorite male artists released albums yesterday. Four! What a great day for music for this girl.

Jason Mraz, Life is Good EP. I was ecstatic when Jason announced he was releasing a new EP. It's been far too long. All of the songs are live, which adds a fun twist. But that doesn't mean I don't highly recommend it. I'll say this- only Jason Mraz can make a song called "Mama's Song", about listening to what your mom tells you, sexy. He also sneaks one of his signature reggae songs in there, and inspires with "Up" and "Freedom Song". Yet another great project from Mr. Mraz.

Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops and Hooligans. I was introduced to Bruno Mars on the hit song by Travie Mccoy, "Billionaire" Bruno lent his voice for the track. The first time I heard that song, my ears ignored everything but Bruno's voice. Who is this guy and where can I buy HIS music? On his debut solo album, Bruno showcases his incredible voice and vocal range, creativity, and song writing skills. The album is refreshing- Bruno's voice is unqiue and a nice change from all the other junk on the radio right now. No autotune, just pure raw talent. I absolutley love this album. It's one of my favorites of the year, competing for the top spot with Sara Barielles. It's an album that everyone can appreciate, no matter what genre of music you prefer. Favorite songs include:

Matthew West, Story of Your Life. This isn't just any old album- it is an experience. Matthew West made a bold move with this album- he simply asked people to tell him their stories. The stories fled in, and Matthew spent a great deal of time turning the stories into songs for his album. A genius move. Involve the people, get their stories out. Everyone likes a song they can relate to, and Matthew made an entire album of those songs. The personal, moving songs deliver a message of faith and hope. I strongly reccommend giving this a listen. You could find YOUR story in one of these songs. I did- my song is "My Own Little World". Which one is your story? Promise me you will listen to the album. It is truly a beautiful piece of art.

David Archuleta, The Other Side of Down. If you're looking for a pop album that will lift your spirits, this is it. On American Idol, I wasn't on the David fan train. (Let's be real, we all know who I was rooting for during Season 7. His name starts with a C and ends with a hikezie...but since that music career has gone down the drain... oh yes I did.) BUT, I could never deny his outstanding, mature vocals. I just found David a little boring. Well, he certainly proved me wrong with this album. It's upbeat, catchy, fun...99% of the album is aimed at optimism. David managed to make an album full of songs about what he belivies in, in a way that will reach out to people and make them listen. He does all of that AND still found a way to make each song different. His vocals are flawless, as usual. It is clear that David took his time with this album, and it paid off. His song writing ability and creativity really shines through each song. I have several favorite tracks, and each for a different reason. I related to this album and can guaruantte most everyone else can as well. You'll be missing out on a fantastic pop album if you don't give this a listen...and who knows? Maybe you will find some encouragement through it as well. I know I did. Thank you, David, for this real gift of an album. I'll give you a few favorites: Stomping the Roses (no surprise, considering the co-writer is another favorite artists of mine, Bryce Avery), Things Are Gonna Get Better, and My Kind of Perfect.

Take a listen, let me know what you think. Oh, and don't forget to save a life today.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Out of the Darkness Walk

On Sunday, I'll be walking in the "Out of the Darkness" walk. The walk raises money funds for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention as well as awareness on suicide. I am walking for a few reasons:

To Raise Awareness Suicide prevention is a cause I am extremely passionate about. I'm an active follower of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to finding help for people struggling with depression and self injury. I've always been passionate about this cause, but working with teens for the past year has made me even more involved. I saw how easily crushed and suffocated they could get, how hopeless they could be. Some of them felt like the world was closing in on them and they could not escape. I believe that every person deserves hope sprinkled into their lives. No one should ever get to the point of wanting to end their life. Suicide prevention is possible. I'm walking to raise awareness of that fact.

In Memory In memory of the thousands of people who committed suicide last year. In memory of my student's best friend who killed himself at the age of thirteen. In memory of my cousin, Tom, whom I never got the chance to know because he took his own life when I was two years old. He was young himself, only in his late teens. I know he was an amazing young man from the stories I hear. I wish I could have known him.

To Raise Money The AFSP needs all the help it can get with funding for prevention programs and research. You can save a life by donating, and you'd be supporting your good pal Megan at the same time. You can donate here:

If you don't want to pay online with a credit card, you may also mail me cash/ a check and I will donate it to AFSP for the walk.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you choose to help save a life today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

broken hallelujah

For as boring as my life can be lately, this week was quite busy! I've been on an emotional roller coaster ride for as long as I can remember, and there are no signs of it stopping.

Start of on a very non-serious note, American Idol. I finally read all the changes they made and seriously? Are they trying to flush it down the toilet? No mentors, no theme week, no good judges. Ew. If Idol contestants were always allowed to just stick to their own genre, then I can promise you Mandisa wouldn't have made it. they wouldn't have allowed a Christian/Gospel singer. And what about the people that don't KNOW what genre they are yet? David Archuleta would have been screwed. What really bothered me, though, was Nigel's comment about the success of Idols. He said that Kelly and Carrie are the only ones who have done anything. Wrong, so wrong. He of all people should know that and should be standing up for the other Idols. Today he tried to apologize and spelled Jordin's name wrong. That just disgusted me. Anyways, onto much more important things than American Idol.

First of all- I am putting my whole "fearless" idea into practice this weekend. I'm going on a retreat with the church that I've recently found. It is very young adult focused and has an active group of 18-35 year olds that meet a couple times a month for different events. This weekend is their fall retreat and I made the decision to attend. I'm terrified. There will be 30 or so other people who I have never met before! I've done this before (St Tom's retreat, MVC orientation), but it's still extremely nerve wracking. I don't do well thrown into new situations where I have to speak up and meet new friends. I'm looking forward to it spiritually, though. I definitely think this retreat is what I need. Please say a prayer for me that I remain at peace and that I keep an open mind and heart to what God has in store for me for the weekend.

My main focus this week has been passing on positive thoughts, prayers, and hugs to the Carter family. My mom and I went over to their house on Monday night for Fred's birthday party. What an occasion- the house was filled with family members and friends celebrating a wonderful man. I spent most of my time there holding Caroline, the youngest of the six at just a little over a year old. I had a great time watching the other kids run around their yard with silly string and bobbing for apples. Later in the week, I took Lizzy, the seven year old, out to dinner. I love all of those kids, but I have a special connection with Lizzy. I don't know what it is about these Carter's that have me so hooked. Their story has stuck me in such a deep way, and I want to be around for them through it all. I know I can't save the day or make everything go away, I just really care about them and want to be their holding their hands along the way, if they ask for it. I can't go five minutes without thinking about them or brainstorming ways to help out, even just a little bit. I was quite emotional on Monday night and my best friend Sam was comforting me via text message. She said something that made a lot of sense- "Maybe you need them as much as they need you". I hadn't really thought about that until she said it, but it's true. Each of those kids, Martha, and Fred have taught me valuable lessons- patience, honesty, and compassion. I wish it wasn't through this heartbreaking situation that it happened, but I do feel very blessed to have them in my life and to be a part of theirs. I don't know why this is happening to such an amazing family, and I may not ever know. God has His reasons, as difficult as they may be to understand. I like the way my mom put it...Fred is a lifeguard, so she said "maybe God needs a lifeguard". So, another prayer request is for this beautiful family who have let me into their hearts. Hold them close to yours, please. They need to feel love from all over the world.

Song for the day...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

fight for love

This week has been full of birthday fun. Yesterday I popped into Cristo Rey to give a card and a hug to my best friend Dean. I've mentioned Dean in here before, and by now you should all know how much I admire him. Simply put, the boy loves harder than anyone I've ever known. So it makes me happy when he is the receiver of that same kind of love. I was able to experience that yesterday when I saw a whiteboard covered in birthday messages for him.

While I was at the school, I dropped in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Best/worst idea ever. I loved seeing some of the kids but it was extremely crowded and all the screaming and hugging was quite overwhelming. I was grateful, though, especially because I got to talk to two girls who are very much like little sisters to me. Anyways, in this crowded ranch filled cafeteria, several of the students said to me "Miss Carolin, we don't get juice every day anymore!". I must have heard that about thirty times. Other kids asked if they could have chicken rings instead of pizza, or other odd food requests. It struck me as adorable that they still see me in that same role- the person who served them food every day. For many of them I was more than that, but for a handful of those kids, that is the only time they saw me. So it seemed funny that the minute I walk back in, I am again "Miss Carolin, the volunteer who feeds us". That got me to thinking, and you know when that happens a blog is coming...

Although that is a cute example, how often do we assume a role to someone in our life, or put them in a box? We see them how we want to see them and forget that they actually have several roles and sides to them. They have flaws and talents just like ourselves. We get so caught up in our idea of someone that it's easy to miss they may be going through something terrible, they may need you to let down that idea of them and see them a little differently. I think this is especially true for celebrities, but it also happens in our every day life. We never know what another person may be going through. Give them a chance to speak up about it. Ask questions and listen. Don't assume you know everything. Don't be shocked when they do something that is "not themselves". And when that does happen, definitely do not push them away. That is when they need you the most. Maybe a friend has been lying a lot or avoiding your phone calls. Don't give up. Find out why. You could save them. I guess what I'm trying to say your love to all and keep an open mind...and don't put someone in a box.

Also, happy birthday to my beautiful mom. In case you didn't know, my mom is the best mom ever. No, no, that wasn't a question. It's just a fact. I am truly blessed to be the daughter of such an amazing woman, teacher, and friend. I tried to write a little poem for her, but I failed...miserably. Not because I do not have enough great things to say, but because I can't put it into words. I love my mom. Everyone loves my mom (also a fact). I've been able to meet some truly amazing people through my mom and all her years of teaching. Most have come and gone and are no longer a part of my life. One of them, however, will always be one of my heroes- her name is Martha. She too is an absolutely amazing mommy with a strength I have never seen before in anyone. I admire Martha greatly and I am blessed to have her and the rest of her beautiful family in my life. Martha is truly a gift to everyone that is lucky enough to know her.

Sorry, got a little off topic there. I hope everyone has an amazing weekend. Remember to love yourself for who you are and accept others for who they are.

Song of the day: This song is very fitting for what I was discussing at the top of this post!