Monday, June 28, 2010

Do it Afraid.

Every year for the past five or so years, this time of year has been plagued with goodbyes....first was high school graduation, then came the end of every spring semester when my older college friends graduated and left me behind, until the day I graduated myself. This year, I have to say goodbye to my community, my students and co workers, the friends I've made here. I never expected it to be this hard to let go. Letting go is one of my biggest fears...and speaking of fears.....

Tonight, I led spirituality was my last turn. Each of us spent time reflecting and writing down our fears. Then, we passed our papers around, and wrote notes of encouragement to each other. When we were finished writing, we lit our fears on fire. Literally. Stuck a casserole dish in the floor, ripped up our papers, and lit it on represent that they can no longer hold us back, that they are now ashes. Our hearts have been opened to each other and to God- everything that worried us is now placed gently in God's hands. It was pretty powerful, and I feel better knowing I have full support from these three people who have become three of my best friends.

This week, I have to do three things that completely terrify me. I don't want to specify just yet, but please hold me in prayer this week. I will most definatley "do it afraid".

I'd like to close by thanking all the friends I've made this year. Not my students, not my co workers, not the Sister's of Mercy...the friends. I've never had friends like the ones I've made this year. My community members have been absolutely amazing- always supportive, fun loving, and understanding. Each of them have taught me life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. They know how much they mean to me, I've told them countless times. They are my family, my core, my heart. Thank you to our friends in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the Cap Volunteer Corps- there is no one else I would have rather shared this year with. It was so wonderful to have friends outside of my house going through a very similar experience. I had so much fun with you guys this year and am going to miss you!

Lastly, a very special thank you to "my bestie", Dean. I honestly am not sure if I would have made it through the months of February-April without Dean. He saw me at my worst, when I was stressed out about my future and weighed down from work...but that did not stop him from being the most amazing, understanding, compassionate, giving, loving person around. Dean, you are an incredible person. You amaze me every single day with your dedication to the city of Detroit, the students and school, your faith, etc. I know that no matter where this road takes me, you will always be one of my best friends, and for that I am extremely grateful. I will miss our car rides and computer lab dance parties, but most of all I will miss our conversations. Thank you times a million. Because I knew you, I have been changed for good. I mean every word of that.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

embrace your flaws.

All my life, I've been classified as "shy". Sure, I've found certain groups/places where I can be outgoing and chatty, but put me in a room with strangers, I'll avoid eye contact and conversation with everything in me. Many people look down on shyness as if it's a bad thing, and yeah, it can be tough, but it's really not as evil as some make it out to be. Recently someone made a really negative comment about me and my shyness, and it really upset me. I was furious, wanted to shake this person, yell at them and tell them how much I've grown. But, because a very important person named Melinda Doolittle taught me how to "chew the hay and spit out the sticks", I didn't do that. I just ignored it. Well, sort of.

Yes, I'm shy. Yes, I'm sensitive. Yes, I worry too much. BUT, with all of that comes so many positive attributes! For example, I consider myself a strong writer...and whether or not others feel that way, it's something I love about myself. Writing my thoughts has become my craft, hobby, outlet. It's my passion, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. If I was talking all the time, I wouldn't have time to write, now would I?

Secondly, I'm totally OKAY with being alone and am very self aware. I am dependent on close friends for support, but for the most part, I am able to take care of myself and "do what I gotta do"- whether it's sleep, write, listen to music, etc.

Lastly, I'm one hell of a listener. I understand people. I've spent so much of my life watching people (not in a creepy way) and listening to them, that I very often find myself knowing what other people are about to say. My friends in college used to call it my "psychic abilities", but it's because of my shyness. I'm used to taking a step back and being the listener. I'm always the one people come to for advice, whether it's my family, friends, or students. I personally consider this a very precious gift that I am proud to have.

Embrace your flaws. If there's something about yourself you struggle with or is "looked down on", find the positive in it...or, as Melinda would say, chew the hay and spit out the sticks. Write a comment on this blog and tell me what you love about yourself!

On a (somewhat) similiar note, I wrote this a few months back when one of my students was going through a rough time. Enjoy.

Little girl just hold on tight
Remember this always; keep it close to your heart
You are never alone
I know this is hard, but push through

Don’t you dare step back into that dark place
When you’ve been busy shining bright
You’ve got this, I know it
I can’t stand to see you fade

These feelings creeping in on you
They won’t last forever, can’t keep holding you in
Push through this destruction, the other side is waiting
It’s better over there, I’ve seen it

Don’t you dare step back into that dark place
When you’ve been busy shining bright
You’ve got this, I know it
I can’t stand to see you fade

You’re too beautiful to hide, just let it out
Put your hand in mine, we’re in this together
I won’t let your fingers slip
I wouldn’t dare let you fall
Because I promise
You are never alone

I hope everyone has a beautiful week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

fearless, part 2

Remember the blog I posted about being fearless? If you missed it, or don't remember, here is a short qoute

...Of course, let's not completely forget about our fears, because sometimes we need to be a little afraid. It makes it all the more worthwhile when we accomplish something. I think there is a definate difference between not caring and being fearless. To be fearless means to recognize our fears, and in that moment, say "okay, I'm scared, but I'm going to be fearless and get this thing finished".

Since I posted that blog, I've been trying really hard to put it into practice. It's a daily challenge, because I'd much rather avoid the things that scare me than to go after them. I have two recent examples of ways I've been fearless.

The first is about a relationship with someone. This person and I had a strange...yet relationship to begin with. Basically, I put my heart into it (as I always do) and was then very hurt by their actions. Then, they completley dissappeared form my life. Gone. No goodbye, no explanation...just gone. Until recently, when they showed up again. I was hurt, angry, dissapointed, confused, etc. I sat down a few nights ago and wrote out a letter of all my feelings about the situation and this person. I stored it in my "letters I'll never send" file...until, with a little push from two of my best friends AND advice from Melinda, I decided to send it. I had no idea what the reaction from the other person would be, but I know I needed to send it and do it afraid...because I felt like it was time for me to stand up for myself and recognize my feelings. I waited anxiously for a reply, and, MUCH to my surprise, recieved one just a few days later...and guess what? The response was more than I could have asked for. Not only did I get an explanation, but I got an apology and recognition of my feelings. I am so glad that everything is resolved, and that we can be friends again, because I really missed having this person in my wouldn't have been possible had I not taken that scary chance to say something!

The second is something that will keep nagging at me until February- I signed up to do my first ever 1/2 marathon. It totally terrifies me to even SAY that, let alone DO IT. I am doing it with two of my very close friends, and have several friends that are able to help me train and keep me motivated. I'm so excited about this, ready to take on the challenge and prove to myself and others that I can accomplish it. I'll start my daily walk soon, and then follow the actual training schedule come November. I may do a few 5k's in between to prepare myself. I cannot wait to begin this new adventure, and so grateful for my friends and family that will be supporting me!

So, it's the weekend. Thank the Lord! This week has been really strange for me and I'm ready for a weekend. Everyone stay safe, happy, and fearless.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Project 365.

I recently stumbled upon a project that immediatley grabbed my attention: Project 365. Take one picture every day and post it. I don't know how this project has remained a secret for four years, because it seems ingenius to me. Perfect. I've always been the nostalgic type, and I feel like this will be an amazing experience that will help me to see how much I grow, remember people I meet, places I go, etc. To see how something that means a lot to me today could mean something completly different a year from now. My only regret is that I did not find out about this in August, because I think it would have been a great way to capture this year.

So, from now on I'll be posting one picture a day on my facebook, in an album titled "365". My facebook is extremly private, so if we're not friends yet and you'd like to see my pictures, tell me your facebook name. We'll be friends. I'll occasionally post my pictures on here, too, if they are blog worthy. I'm so exicted about this!

In other news, things are going well...just applying for jobs and getting ready to start training for a 1/2 marathon! Plus, 5 year high school reunion, wedding shower, weddings, concerts...all kinds of excitement!

I'm asking everyone who reads this to recommend a movie, a book, and a song. I know I've done this before, but I'm really trying to increase my collection :) Thanks loves.

Have a good week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I don't know how it gets better than this

I really did not expect to get so many positive responses from my last blog. It's great to know I have so much support! On that news, I have an announcement to make.

I am going to do my first 1/2 marathon in February. It's the breast cancer marathon and I will be joining two of my dear friends. They, along with some other friends, are going to help me train. I feel like completing this 1/2 marathon will help me accomplish some of the other goals on my list. Pretty soon, I will be composing an e-mail asking people to help me...whether it be in my training, donating toward breast cancer research, or donating to help me travel down there. I will be staying with a friend, so I just need a plane ticket. I'm going to be asking people to donate either toward the cause or to help me for my birthday, instead of gifts. Keep an eye out!

Have you seen Toy Story 3 yet? Because you need to. No, that wasn't a suggestion. That was an order. It's amazing. Go see it.

Happy father's day to my daddy. Words cannot express how grateful I am to have such an amazing dad. I've always felt lucky, but this year I have become even more aware and grateful for him, as I worked with many students who lost their father's. I love you, dad!

I'll close this random blog by sharing some of the songs I've been really into lately. I'd love for you to check some of these out!

Although I'm not a huge fan of Adam's album, I love this song...and I love even more that Allison makes a cameo.

Speaking of Allison.... this song is AMAZING. I recommend it to my students all of the time.

Okay. I know I can't stand Miley, and I also cannot stand this music video...but I LOVE this song. Why, Miley, why?

This is my favorite Pink song. So beautiful.

This has always been one of my favorite Taylor songs, but I've been listening to it quite frequently.

Hanson's new album is AWESOME. This is one of my favorites.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

it's simple, but somehow, letting go is the hardest part

So, yesterday was my last day with the kids....well, kind of. I'll be seeing a large number of them for summer school, but it's just not the same. Won't have the same one on one interaction, no classroom time, no more creative writing. I wouldn't doubt if there was some peer mediation, though. Anyways, yesterday was very special. My parents came to our closing banquet, and one of my favorite moments of the day included their interaction with one of my more "attached" students. She is extremly attached to me, to the point where she calls me Mother. Although she WILL be in summer school, she was very emotional yesterday. She was talking to my parents and I and said "It's going to be so painful when you leave! I'm so happy you were born!". My mom put her hands on my students shoulders and said "sweetheart, we want to see you graduate college. In fact, we'll come to your college graduation". My dad said to her "You'll be okay, you have to find the strength within YOU." It was so precious.

I got teary once, when I was saying goodbye to a student that I may not ever see again, unless I am able to visit the school next year...I am very attached to her because in the beginning of the year she was one of our biggest challenges, and now she's one of our greatest leaders, in large part due to peer mediation and one on one counseling. She has become a little sister to that was very tough. The harder goodbyes are coming in three weeks when summer school is over. Wish me luck.

As students lined up with sad faces to give me goodbye hugs, bombarding me with yearbooks to sign, and passing me hand written letters full of gratitude for what I have done for them, I had to breathe it all in. It is very weird for me to have kids who look up to me...for a girl to tell me she is going to model her life after me, for another to tell me that I am one of God's special ones, etc. All my life I have been the one admiring other people and thanking them for getting me through tough times, and suddenly I am that person. I really hope that I can continue to make an impact on them, and that I have helped them in some way to know their self worth, to be strong, to KEEP GOING and to never give up- despite what other people in their life tell them. I will probably spend the rest of my life thinking about these kids and if they are making the right decisions. God, I hope so. If I could adopt each of them, I would. I just pray that I find a career where I can continue to work with this age group...because it was the most fulfilling job I have ever had.

In other news, I recently started making a "100 Things I Want to Do" the midst of applying for jobs and saying goodbye to my kids, it was a little project I could focus on that was fun for me and got away from stress. I dsicovered the website and picked 43 items from my list to put on the site. I am hoping that those who read my blog will help cheer me on in these challenges. So, if there is something on this list that you think you can help me with, whether it's advice or just emotional support, let me know. Let's talk.

1. go to an american idol finale
2. Discover MY life's purpose
3. release negative emotions
4. read the bible, cover to cover
5. take up a new sport
6. go on a writers' retreat
7. Go to a broadway musical in new York
8. Start a dance in a public place where everyone joins in
9. write down at least one thing that makes me happy every day
10. Go on a safari
11. adopt a pet from an animal shelter
12. dance on stage at a major concert
13. meet lady gaga
14. work for women of faith
15. visit the Holy Land
16. Read all 7 Harry Potter books cover to cover, back to back, one after the other with no interruptions!
17. defeat anxiety
18. Send my parents on their dream vacation
19. Sponsor a child
20. Write a letter to my future grandchildren, tell them what life was like in 2010. 21. be a big sister
22. Discover something that changes the world for the better
23. write a book
24. go to Disneyworld
25. Fall in love
26. create the soundtrack of my life
27. get a graduate degree
28. spend a week in complete silence
29. Visit Ireland
30. Achieve my ideal weight
31. get a song I've written on the radio
32. go on a cross country road trip
33. go on an overseas church mission
34. Live in Nashville
35. get something named after me
36. party with a rockstar.
37. Learn Spanish
38. develop a skill for photography
39. learn to play guitar
40. Become a vegetarian
41. walk a 1/2 marathon
42. be interviewed by Oprah
43. become a parent

Thursday, June 17, 2010

have a little faith

I don't know how to put last night's concert experience into words. Seeing Jordin up there, someone who I've supported since the birth of her career. Someone who has been such a HUGE part of my life. As I was standing in line I started thinking about how Jordin and Melinda have played such a key role in the person I am today. They've seen me at my worst and helped me to get to be my best. I am incredibly grateful for them, for their inspiration and motivation. Also, Jordin recently helped my family through one of our most difficult times, losing Laurence. She awarded him the M.A.D award and spoke very highly about him at one of her events, asking the attendants for a moment of silence in his rememberence. Everyone in my family is eternally grateful for that. Her song "Faith" is pretty much what got me through that rough time.

I was so excited to be able to see Jordin yesterday. I knew I had a meet and greet and was starting to prepare my "speech" to her while waiting in line outside the venue. I was assuming she wouldn't remember me...because although she was a huge part of my life from summer 2007-summer 2008, I hadn't seen her since then, and I assumed she had forgotten, knowing she meets millions of people, each of them with a different story.

The doors opened at 7 pm and I waited in the lobby with some of the other's with meet and greets.Her manager came to get us and we lined up on the balcony of the Royal Oak Music theatre. Her friend/tour assistant Mo came out and said that personal pictures were not allowed, and Jordin was on vocal rest so she may not talk much. The first few people went and were IN AND OUT in literally 30 seconds. At this point I'm thinking "how am I possibily going to be able to say everything I need to say, especially if she doesn't remember me?" Pretty soon, Mo looks at me and says "NEXT". So I walk in, and Jordin GASPS. No, literally gasps. Then squeels. Then runs and hugs me so hard I thought I was going to fall over. This is pretty much how our conversation went over that:

Me "I wasn't sure if you would remember me!"
ME "Old Navy- 15 dollars!"
J "I love old navy ::goes on a 2 minute rant about how much she loves Old Navy::
Me "These are cards from my family to thank you for everything you did with dad wanted me to specifically tell you that we will NEVER be able to tell you how grateful we are for that, you really helped my family during that time."
J, with tears in her eyes "awww. thank you. It was an HONOR for me to stand up there and talk about him. He was such an amazing young man."
Me "Yes he was...and Melinda/Gina say hi"
J "Omg I miss them so much!"
At this point, Jordin's manager is giving her "the eye" soo
J "What kind of picture do you want?"
Me "A normal one because I haven't seen you in two years!!"
So we take our picture and she hugs me again
J "Tell your family I love them. What great people. Tell Laurence's dad how awesome he is. I am praying for your family. Please tell them hi and I love them."
Me "I will...and thank you for the song Faith because it got me through that time"
J "aww. I'm glad I could help"
Me" And I will tell Gina and Melinda you say hi as well"
J "Yes, that's like a given! Thank you SO much for coming it was SO good to see you again!!!! I love you! Enjoy the show! Thanks for coming! Don't forget to tell your family!"
Me "I won't and THANK YOU! So happy I could see you again".

As I was walking out, she made like a whimpering noise so I turn around and she has a sad face, lol. I got my picture info from Mo and walked down to the main floor. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get a good spot, because the meet and greet was happening while the doors opened. Luckily, I got an AMAZING spot! I was probably only about 4 rows from the stage, with many short people in front of me, so I could see perfectly ! I didn't have to stand very long before Day of Difference came out.

Days of Difference were great- cute boys who can sing and play insturments? Sign me up!

Next was Kate Voegele, and I pretty much flipped out. It's also been two years since I last saw her, and the night I did see her two years ago was a pretty bad one. So I was happy to be able to hear her perform songs from her latest album. She's one of my favorite female artists, mainly because she writes her songs and plays guitar. She's also an incredibly passionate singer. Apparently I was one of the few Kate Voegele fans. No one around me was cheering for her and I was the only one singing along...but Ihad a fabulous time! She sang a few of my favorite songs....including a cover of "Hallelujah". She was so good, again, very passionate. I'm really happy I was able to hear her live again!

I was getting anxious to see Jordin come out. I couldn't wait to hear some of the songs off Battlefield. When she came out, the crowd went crazy. She started off with Battlefield and SOS, then continued to do songs off "Battlefield". It was SO fun to sing along, and Jordin was so energetic and passionate. That girl is going to be AMAZING on broadway, because of the way she interprets her song on stage. One of my personal favorites was "Walking On Snow". She also sang "Tattoo", "One Step At A Time", "Freeze", "Young and In Love" from her first album, and closed the show with "No Air", which was unbelievable. I was pretty much SCREAMING the words the entire time, and Jordin kept looking at me throughout the show. I literally felt my vocal chords strain during One Step At A Time at the "it's your faith that makes you stronger" line. My absolute favorite part of the concert was when she sang "Faith", which is typically not on her set list, but she added it for the Detroit show. Seriously, I cried throughout the entire song. I had told her what that song did for me when Laurence the beginning of the song, Joridn caught my eye and I was standing there with my hand over my mouth, tears down my face, and just started shaking my head at her. She smiled, and then wiped away tears in her eyes. She continued to look my way throughout a good majority of the song, and when she was finished, she said "I'm sorry, that song just makes me so emotional". Omg. What a very special moment! Jordin tweeted later that it was a very special night for her to sing "Faith". Agreed. One of the most concert moments of my life. Jordin was SO good you guys. So good. She has improved as a performer and kept the audience captivated the entire time!

Soon the show was over and I headed out to my car. I was going to stop by and chat with Kate Voegele, but my throat was killing me, and I needed to go home and sleep.

Thank you, Jordin, for an amazing night. Love you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

so consider this a moment as defining who you are

Two years ago today, the world lost a very special young woman named Amanda Jones. It's hard to believe that was two years ago. Amanda played an important part in my life, and an even bigger role in my best friend's life. She taught lessons of courage, strength, and belief. Amanda taught me how to love unconditionally. She taught me how to see the beauty in every person I came in contact with. She taught me how to hope. I would not be the same person I am today without knowing Amanda. We lost her too young, just as we did with Laurence. Their lives are so similiar, their mission so clear, that I am confident they are enjoying each other's company up there in Heaven. I can feel it in my bones.

Whenever I think of Amanda or Laurence, which is daily, it reminds me to appreciate the people in my life with all I can. People can come in and out of our lives so quickly. We should always remember to appreciate and to love. People like Amanda and Laurence spent their entire lives fighting for love. We are lucky to be alive in this beautiful world, so let's do something about it. So, tell someone that you love them today.

Rest in sweet peace, Amanda Jones. Watch over us and help us to see the world as beautiful. Show us how to place our handprints of compassion on the map.

Two years ago is also the last time I saw Miss Jordin Sparks. In fact, it was just weeks before Amanda passed. Sam and I had talked to Jordin backstage about both Amanda and Laurence. The three of us cried and hugged. It was a moment I'll never forget. I am very excited that I get to see Jordin again tomorrow and thank her for giving Laurence the M.A.D award.

Here are my favorite lyrics from Jordin's second album, Battlefield.

It's the next verse in our unwritten story /in the first verse, I knew you did something for me /I'm tangled, got your arms wrapped around me /I fall and I fall and I fall

the story was supposed to last/you were never supposed to be/just somebody in the past

your love was a waste of time/you've been left behind

you better get here/cuz i'm dancing alone

there goes my attitude/i'm almost over you

that crazy chick don't know who she's messing with

this is the last straw, I'm leaving my life here. I'm packing my dreams up, and leaving my nightmares.

The choice is now all mine, for my destination/They ask why I'm rushing, my dreams are waiting/So fasten your seatbelt, 'cause I'm gonna make it

Cause I'm right here waiting/With open arms/I know you might feel shattered/But love should never bring you harm

so consider this a moment as defining who you are

Cause I know I'm strong enough/To carry us through

Why is it the smallest things that tear us down/My world's nothing when you're gone

I guess you better go and get your armor

We could pretend that we are friends tonight/And in the morning we'll wake up and we'll be alright/Cause baby we don't have to fight/And I don't want this love to feel like/a battlefield

Maybe my all just wasn't good enough/Was I the only one, only one in love?

And I don't understand how I can feel this pain/And still be alive/And all these broken dreams and all these memories/Are killing me inside

Every little tear/I was scared to cry/Everything I feared/But I kept inside
I don't wanna hold/It back one more day/Oh wash it away/Every tiny thought clouding
Up my head/Every single word that/I never said/I refuse to feel ashamed/Let it rain

All the hurt that's been stuck inside of me, make it pour, make it bleed, let the rain wash me clean (wash me clean) let it rain

So what if I came clean, and told you all you mean to me, so what if I meant every word I said, baby don't let it go to your head ...So what if I write your name, cause you're always on my brain, in a heart I paint in crimson red,
baby dont let it go to your head

Tell me what happened this time that Made you come back again ,I find out only see you when luck deserts you

I know you're busy so if you gotta go ,Then go but don't forget to leave my heart

know the world can be a brutal place, Please don't let it steal your smile away

And when you fall the hardest/You find how strong you are

Close your eyes ,Rest awhile, Its been a long long day, So come on baby baby, Have a little faith

Sometimes it takes a wall to tumble down ....For you to see who's gonna stick around

I'm ok, I'll survive/I only think about you half of the time /All these tears are just drops in the ocean baby/You barely even cross my mind, no no /And it doesn't hurt that much /It was only a papercut

The more I give, the less I get /Sometimes I wish that we never met /Cuz I was fine till you broke through/But don't worry baby, I'll get over you

Monday, June 14, 2010

mercy volunteer corps 2009-2010.

This year, 24 Mercy Volunteer Corps members were sent out across the country to live in community, grow in spirituality, and serve the people of their chosen site. In August, we came together as a group to become comfortable with the program, our community members, the staff, etc. Just a few days later, we were off to provide mercy and justice to different areas of the country. Some of us worked with high school students, some with homeless addicts, others with hiv/aids patients. That does not even begin to cover the areas in which we worked.

It's been nearly a year since we first met. In that year, we've grown...we've learned, we've loved, we've served. We connected with the Sister's of Mercy, we met people who will forever touch our hearts...we've been broken down by the weight of the issues our clients face, we've been uplifted by the support of our community members and co workers. No one will ever quite understand what each of us have been through, and perhaps we cannot even fully understand one another- each of us have different stories. However, I can say that I have been given a gift this year...and that gift is 23 incredible individuals whom have kept me inspired throughout the year. Although I may not have had frequent contact with them, they were in my heart and in my prayers.

This past weekend, we were able to hear stories, both funny and devastating. To gain support from one another regarindg community life or take a step back and to let it all sink in. We are all at a point in the year where we are figuring out the next step and reflecting on the last months. I am extremly confident that each of these people are going to make an incredible impact on the world, no matter where this journey takes them. I am hoping and praying that each of them are able to find work where they can continue to live their dreams, find happiness, and help others.

To my fellow Mercy Volunteers 2009-2010, I love you all. You are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I know that I may not ever see some of you again, but I will never forget you. You are great people with beautiful gifts- don't be afraid to share them. As you move on from MVC, may you always remember that the circle of Mercy is timeless. Finish strong, guys. If you are ever in Detroit, you know who to call.

Speak your love, speak it again, speak it again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

freeze the moment

Dude. Can you believe that just 11 months ago I was FREAKING OUT about MVC orientation? Now I'm getting ready for transition retreat. This year has flown by. I am so excited to get to Philly tomorrow and see all of our MVC friends. I want to hear stories about their experiences within community and their sites. It should be an amazing four days! I won't have much access to a computer, so if you need me, text or call!

Today was my last FULL day at Cristo Rey...I was pretty anxious about it all day. I talked to each of my classes about it, and that I was going to miss them. I passed out letters to 61 students. In return, I recieved 5 hand written letters that I will cherish forever. They were all beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. One student said she was going to mold her life after me because I had inspired her so much. Another said that I was the older sister in her life because her real older sister wasn't there for her. One, who has given me probably the MOST trouble this year, said that I inspired her to change her ways. I also got a hug from someone who has been a constant challenge.

I don't say all of this to be all "look at me!". I am rather shocked at the reaction from the kids, honestly. It makes me happy to know that I can be a role model for someone else when I have so many people whom I look up to. I just hope I can continue to make a positive impact on them!

Before I head to Philly, I'll share my favorite lyrics from Jordin's self-titled debut album. Only 7 days until I see her!

all this time I thought you didn't need I'm gone from you and now you tell me you're in love, but that's not what it was all those times that passed by with no signs

I will never regret you, still the memory of you marks everything I do

I've gotta let my spirit be free

Sorry, but, I've gotta move on and leave you behind

and I'm faithful enough to know that this is meant to be...and if it's not, don't speak, don't ruin it, let me dream

we live and we learn to take one step at a time, there's no need to rush

it's gonna happen when it's supposed to happen and we find the reasons why, one step at a time

when you can't wait any longer, but there's no end in sight, when you need to find the strength, it's your faith that makes you stronger

Suddenly the world's too big and the hours they move too slow and I just wish that you were holding me near

you whisper through the line you know I miss you like crazy

cuz when I see you walk through the door, I'm not lost anymore, I'm home.

when I feel you right here close to me, everything is where it's supposed to

If I fall, if I break, if I lose myself in someone...if I give all I am, it will be with you

I thought I'd reached the that was then, I am made of more than my yesterday's...this is my now

As I look around, I can't believe the love I see. My fears behind me...gone are the shadows and doubts...that was then, this is my now

God loves ugly, He doesn't see the way I see...oh God takes ugly and turns it in to something that is beautiful. Apparently, I'm beautiful...cuz you loved me.

Losing you was like living in a world with no air

But how do you expect me to live alone with just me? Cuz my world revolves around you it's so hard for me to breathe

Tonight we will deny that time is passing's leaving you and I to freeze the moment, it's never been better

Don't stop, gotta know what you got, there's no second chances in life. Don't break, gotta get what you take.

You looked at me with the truth in your eyes and said it's okay I can let go

this isn't about who's to blame, so please just hear me out

love me back, and I'll love you better

you're in my head like a song on the radio, all I know is I gotta get next to you

cuz I wish yeah I wish you knew what you mean to let's get together and end this mystery

what you gotta say, what you gotta do, how do you get the one you want to want to next to you

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm not your angel, darling

I had such a lovely day today...which completly makes up for the intense drama that went down yesterday.

-I walked into Dean's classroom on the chalkboard, in huge writing, it says "Mz. Carolin iz a mommy!". Surprise? No, I am definatley NOT a mommy. It was written by the girl who calls me "mother".
-Had a wonderful evaluation meeting with my supervisor!
-Very funny moment in my study hall involving a surprise for a co worker. Inside joke, but hilarious. I was crying I was laughing so hard.
-Quote from my friend Jon ""Megan, I suspect if you weren't here this year, this whole block would be a smoking crater, and I'd be dead at the bottom of it."
-I started telling some of the students that I will not be back next year, and although their reactions (crying, temper tantrums, etc) broke my heart, it also made me glad to know that I have made a small impact.
-New Hanson album! New single from Allison Iraheta! Woo!

So, tomorrow is my last full day at work. This doesn't have TOO much signifcance since I'll still be around the building until mid July, but it does last study hall, my last time serving lunch, and last creative writing class. Those have all been such huge aspects of my experience, and for them to suddenly stop is going to be tough! I'm especially emotional about not serving lunch, as odd as that seems....but that is the time when I see the kids just act like kids, when they ask me to sit with them or joke around with me. I am going to miss that time with them so much!

Next week is finals, but I won't see much of the kids since they'll be know, being high school students. After that begins summer that will be a good transition from school year to just completly being finished with MVC...but it is going to be very different. I wrote 61 letters to 61 VERY deserving students and I am excited to pass them out tomorrow. I'm also totally prepared to cry at least once. I am going to miss these kids SO much and I hope they realize how amazing they are and that they are a part of my heart.

I'm not sure if I will have time to blog before transition retreat, so most likely, I will be talking to all of you again on Monday the 14th. Please pray for me as I head to Philly for a few days of reflection on the year.

Here are my favorite lyrics from Kate Voegele's second album, "Don't Look Away".

-Oh and just when I believe, you've changed for good, well you go and prove me wrong just like I knew you would

When I've run out of second chances, you give me that look, and you're off the hook

We were worlds apart and you see, it was so much easier to be...'Cause now I know what we can't have and it's so unfair

'Cause those who get to know our hearts the most, they always seem to be the ones we'll never hold

But don't you dare go avoiding me, it kills me and yet it keeps me going

What happened to, the plans we made, and that contagious smile upon your face...It's all begun to fade

I have overcome more than words will ever say, and I’ve been given hope that there’s a light on up the hall..and a day will come when the fight is won, and I think that day has just begun

'Cause I don't mean to presume...That you don't love me like you say you do, But you're gonna have to prove that you're true...And you're not just talkin' smooth

I know you want me to see don’t lie to me ,Why you gotta go be so shy to me? I ain’t buying the false anxiety, let your fortress fall

By the way, You've put yourself in danger 'cause you're playing with my heart

But so many people are looking to me, to be strong and to fight...But I'm just surviving And I may be weak but I'm not defeated, And I'll keep believing...In clouds with that sweet silver lining

And I won't give up like this, I will be given strength...Now that I've found it
Nothing can take that away

You're meant to be among the clouds, 'Cause you're an angel....But that's a lie

I'm not your angel, darling...

I'm not your anchor, So don't hold on...I'm not the answer, You've got me wrong...I'm not your savior...Save your energy

And it seems, your song is in my head this is war

Don't let me catch you followin',Don't ask cause I'm not offering...You caused enough of my suffering...And my heart is warmer since I heard from you today

Monday, June 7, 2010

baby, it's only life

You guys, I’m happy.

I know that may seem cheesy, or maybe even irrelevant…but the thing is, it has been such a long time since I have been this genuinely happy. That makes me proud of myself. I’ve struggled with internal happiness for so long, and this just feels feels free.

I had a great weekend, which is partly why I’m so happy right now. But it’s more than that. It’s knowing that I have one of the hardest jobs I may ever have in life, but also being so fulfilled. Anyways, you’ll hear all about that when the school year officially ends, so let’s talk about my weekend.

Friday I was exhausted, seemed it was the most tired I have been in a very long time. So, I made baked spaghetti and watched Rent. I could watch that movie every day. We had to turn it off toward the end because there was an intense summer storm.

On Saturday I woke up early and took four students to Beverly Hills for the Walk for Lupus. Three of those students were “my girls”. They are the three girls I’m closest too as far as interests and (usually) mature conversation. They each have something very special in them that reminds me of myself in high school, so I feel strongly connected to them. The other student was a boy in their class who wanted to come out and support. The reason we did the Walk for Lupus was because one of the girls lost her mother to Lupus when she was just a baby. She recently did a presentation for her English class on Lupus, because she is passionate about raising awareness for it. She came to me and asked me to help her find ways to be involved. I did some research and discovered that there was a walk coming up, so I offered to go with her. We set a goal of raising $100 and invited other students with us. We ended up raising $180. The joy on her face on Saturday made the early morning, chauffer service, and chaperone duties more than worth it. I could just see how happy she was to be honoring her mama in that way. She was decked out in purple and gave us facts on the disease. She wants to keep doing it every year, and I sincerely hope that she is able to do so. I took the students out for lunch afterwards, and really enjoyed spending time with them on a different level. They shared anxieties about the end of the school year and laughed together about some of our favorite memories from the past year. I didn’t get home until 4 pm or so, but it was a day I will never forget.

When I got home, I was exhausted, so I laid down for a while…later, we went over to a friends house. It was a very casual, laid back evening but there were good people and good times. I am constantly amazed by the number of young, enthusiastic people in this city who are SO PASSIONATE about trying to turn it around. It really gives me hope…the people we were with on Saturday night are a prime example. I love making new friends with people my age who put faith and social justice very high on their priority list. It helps me to know how “right” all of this is…if that makes sense…like, every time I meet a new person with the same values and goals as me, I know “yep, this is where I’m supposed to be”. It is such an awesome feeling! It stormed really bad again last night (there was a tornado just south of us!), and getting home was a little scary, but I passed out as soon as I hit my bed!

Today was just lovely. Woke up and went to Church with Katie and Nate, and then we grabbed E&L Taco’s (the best taco’s..ever). Then I picked up Dean and Hannah for an afternoon of fun. First we stopped by my sister’s house so I could borrow some carry on luggage, and we chatted with them for a few minutes. Then we headed to a co workers house for drinks, food, and conversation. It was so much fun! We ended up talking about our students for 95% of the conversations…our frustrations, funny stories, sad stories, etc. It’s always interesting to hear other perspectives and gain insight/advice. I LOVE my co-workers, by the way. They are such great, supportive people! I had a really wonderful time with them.

So, that was my great weekend. Tomorrow morning I am making an announcement to the student body on how well the students represented us at the Walk for Lupus, and then encouraging them to find ways to get involved with causes they are passionate about. I don’t know if they realize how many opportunities they have to make a difference!

Okay, so, TEN DAYS until I see Kate Voegele/ Jordin Sparks. I am seriously ECSTATIC. They are two of my favorite female artists. I haven’t seen either of them in two years and cannot believe how lucky I am that they are touring together. Kate is amazing, love her folk/singer songwriter mixed with pop. Jordin is just outstanding, and I miss that girl SO MUCH. I’ve been watching videos of her tour so far, and I seriously think I might cry when I hear her live again. I am just so incredibly proud of her. It’s always so amazing to see an artist you have supported since the very beginning of their career….Jordin is one of those for me. When I see how far she has come since Idol it gives me goosebumps…plus, of course, all the amazing things she has done for me, friends, and my family. She gave Laurence the MAD award…and infact, I have family members writing her thank you letters.

Okay, clearly I’m excited because I just spent way too much time on that. ANYWAYS. Remember how for Spill Canvas I listened to an album a night before their show and posted lyrics? Well I want to do that for Kate/Jordin…but I won’t have time to do it consistently with my transition retreat coming up. So, tonight I did Kate’s first album, and I’ll do her second one before I leave. Enjoy.

Kate Voegele: Don’t Look Away

I’ve seen your act, I know all the facts, I’m still in love with you I wish you were here

I dream days away but that’s okay

Don’t keep me up to the dawn with those words that keep leading me on…baby I know much better than to wait for an answer from you

Well don’t be shy; I’ve got an open heart and hand

They say you’ve got a hold on me…and I won’t disagree

Took me for granted, Planted thorns in this garden of mine..What are the chances? My hope has died

Well I should know so much better than this, but you’ve occupied the center of my universe I hate myself for loving you, I turn my head away, But my heart will remain, 'Till the day I learn you're No Good for me

Continual irresolution keeps me shackled to the ground, And I’ve been in dire need of revolution For far too many days to count….I thought I was safe in the Hiding Place …But it sure is exhausting, livin' in chains…It’s paradoxical in every way…Nothin' makes sense I can’t tell love from hate...

Well I'm not the type who gets voted most likely to be victimized by those old butterflies, But you're the exception, Your love is infectious, I hope it’s alright if you’re still mine when we’re older, cuz I won’t spend another day wondering what might have been.

The end of the world, it seems…you bend down and you fall on your knees, well get back on your feet. Don’t look away, don’t run away, baby it’s only life…don’t lose your faith, don’t run away, baby it’s only life.

Don’t be so afraid of facing every day, just take your time, it’s only life

Well excuse me for wanting to be the one and only lock to fit your key, You're like a splinter, just killing me slowly from inside.The piercing winter is so much more inviting than the stare in your eyes

I suddenly realize...that you could never find a place for me in your eyes

And wouldn't I love just to rise above this? You've gotta believe I've suffered enough to be free, so I'm officially leaving, just kiss on the cheek and I'm gone

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Love Story.

This is a different kind of love story. This is the story of how I learned to love myself. That may come off as selfish, but I firmly believe that one has to love themselves before they can love another person. Besides, I'm only 22 and have not yet fallen in love....well, I was close once, but he ripped my heart and stomped on it, so he wasn't Mr Right. :)

Up until just a few years ago, I had no sense of self worth. It wasn't even so much about body image issues, I just didn't like myself. At all. Love wasn't even a question, I definitely did not love myself. I didn't care what happened to me, so therefore engaged in less than healthy activities. I simply did not care for myself mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. I think this was most evident in my college years, when I hid behind a mask in order to fake happiness. I absolutely hated what I had become and often felt like I was crawling out of my own skin. In addition to apathy toward my body, mind, and spirit, I put way too much pressure onto other relationships. I cared about everyone around me with quite intensity, and would put every single one of their needs before my own...even the people that were hurting me. I had a few friends that were constantly dragging me down with negativity, yet would do absolutely anything for them if they asked...and they asked all the time.

Eventually, I was completely run down. I could no longer give to others, because I had never spent time caring for myself. I lost interest in everything I was once passionate about and just shut down emotionally. It took me a few years, but eventually, I learned what it was like to completely love myself. The journey to loving myself has been an experience that has now blessed me with many, many gifts.

I began taking care of myself again, by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, cutting down on alcohol, and surrounding myself with people who were positive and supportive. It caused me to lose a few friendships, but in the end, it was what was best for me. I found a passion for writing and started doing that daily, as an escape and a way to let out all of my feelings. I taught myself how to become more self aware...and to change negative thoughts about myself into positive ones. I also learned how to be myself, instead of hiding behind a mask of a stranger.

Learning to love myself was the ultimate love story because it gave me the confidence I needed to live my life the way it should be. It not only benefited my life and my relationship with God, but also all those surrounding me. I can proudly say that I am happy with who I am and I fully and completely love myself. With this knowledge. My hope is for young girls struggling with self worth issues learn to love and appreciate themselves, rather than depend on other things- drugs, alcohol, men- to bring them happiness.

Hole in Our Gospel

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Prior to reading The Hole in Our Gospel, I had never felt completly changed and inspired by a book. This autobiography aims to capture readers and open their eyes to the needs of those suffering. Richard Stearns opens his heart to his own spiritual journey, one that included landing the role of president of World Vision. Richard Stearns takes readers on an incredible journey into the life of those who are stricken with poverty and disease. Using tragic real life stories and jaw dropping statistics, he opens our eyes to the issues at hand. He takes us with him to meet the people who are stricken with poverty and disease. In addition, Stearns makes a point that both the Church and individuals have incredible resources to make a change, yet very little is actually done. He reminds us of the sin of omission and that many of us would rather pretend that the problems do not exist rather than reach out to help. The reality, however, is that as Christians, we must live out our faith through public action. It is what Jesus taught us, yet many of us have turned our religious life into a private, personal relationship with God. Stearns makes the point that we must live out our beliefs. A book on poverty could easily come across as a lecture, or a guilt trip, but Stearns has written an incredible book that is both informative and motivating. He gives readers the practical tools to move forward in discipleship and truly make a difference. For those of us not confident in our abilities, Stearns opens our eyes to a world of possibilities. As I was reading, a huge smile came across my face when I read this line “He created all of us for a purpose and envisioned our lives at the very beginning of time itself. He gave us a unique personality and a set of aptitudes and placed us each in a particular family. Day by day, He brings key people into our lives and provides life experiences that shape us. God does all of this with His purpose in mind, tailored to the individual- you and me”. How could you not be inspired by that statement? Personally, that sums up my faith, it makes me excited and ready to live my life for God. This book changed the way I view the world, it changed the way I view my own faith. In closing, I will again quote Stearns. “All of us have something God can use, even if it’s only a stick. The question is whether we will offer whatever stick we have to His service.” Because of reading this book, I know that I have the ability, awareness, and access to help my neighbors. Will you join me on this journey? What is your first step?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

let us walk this life with faith filled eyes

I saw Sr. Regina, president of Mercy High School, over the weekend while I was on retreat. She invited me to attend the Baccalauraute Mass tonight for the class of 2010. Although I only knew a few girls (little sister's of friends of mine), I accepted the invitation...and I am so glad that I did.

I got to see a good friend of mine, old teachers, and some friends parents...parents who have graciously hosted me over the years at sleepovers, cast parties, graduation parties, etc. I also feel, in a strange way, that I was meant to be there...mainly to hear the homily. The priest (whom I happen to know) gave an excellent talk. Although I am not graduating high school, I got a lot out of what he was saying and could apply it to my life. He gave them encouragement, and said that they could be whatever they want to be, that the one thing that could possibly hold them back was themselves, their self doubt. That really hit home, because recently I have been struggling with "finding myself" and "discovering my purpose". As I said in my last post, I am really learning how to create happiness for my life...and I felt like his talk aligned perfectly with that. I was also inspired by the maturity of one of the graduates, who said "let us walk this life with faith filled eyes". What a powerful statement!

Another hilight of tonight was being able to see Mrs. MacLennan. I'm sure all of us have a "Mrs. Mac". He/She may not have that name, of course, but it is that one teacher from high school who was there for you from day one, that one teacher who played such a significant impact on your young life that you will always remember them. For me, that's Mrs. Mac. She is the campus minister at Mercy, and was my advisor (aka...home room teacher) senior year. Really, though, she was much more than that. She was my mentor, my second mother, my inspiration, my spirtiual director, my teacher, my leader. Mrs. Mac has touched my heart in a way I cannot explain. She is one of the biggest influences on my life and has played a large role in molding the person that I am today. When I was at Mercy, I went through a pretty big transition with my faith...and Mrs. Mac was the one to take my hand and lead me. She encouraged me to become involved in campus ministry, which soon became my home at Mercy. I loved being able to talk to her about faith, to learn from her about Catholicism and social justice. During my senior year, I had to switch advisor groups and was given a sheet of paper to write down my "top three choices". I wrote down "Mrs. Mac...and only Mrs. Mac." I'm glad I did, because my bond with her grew even stronger. I was often in her office, either helping plan a retreat or a mass, complaining about school or friends, or celebrating over school or friends. She would encourage me to get extra help in math, laugh at my antics (the one time I got her to say HOLLA is still one of my favorite memories of Mercy), and just listen to me. Looking back, I don't think I realized how lucky I was to have Mrs. Mac. She was always there for me, like a guardian angel. Even after graduating, I could always count on her to send me an uplifiting email or write me a letter of recommendation. I am glad that I've stayed in touch with her and hope that our relationship continues to grow. She is an incredible woman, and I am blessed to have had her play such a strong role in my life!

I got to see her tonight, although only breifly, and loved watching her interact with staff and students on one of her big nights.

I hope you all have a lovely week. Go get in touch with YOUR "Mrs. Mac".