Loving The In-Between (And Unstable)


It’s all too easy to put off loving where we are until everything is perfect. What can you love about where you are now? (prompt credit: Kat McNally



My grandfather has repeatedly told me that the months following graduation are one of the most depressing and frustrating times in a person’s life. Not only are you leaving behind what you’ve come to know, but you’re entering into a stage that’s unpredictable, where you’ll face a lot more rejection than acceptance. It’s the time where I have to “be an adult and figure it out,” as my mom recently phrased it. It can be confusing and daunting. Depending on the circumstance, it can be down right terrifying. But it’s a time of re-evaluating and establishing my own values and way of doing things. 




Despite frequently the lack of positive outcomes and feeling as though I’m running into a lot of brick walls, this is still a time to be savored. 


  • I love living with my grandparents; It’s an emotionally healthy environment, and they keep me laughing for the majority of the time. My grandfather has been extremely helpful with mapping out various areas of the city when I have to go for interviews, and they’ve both encouraged me in my career pursuits. 

  • I appreciate alone time: the time to write, to journal, to deepen my relationship with God, and ultimately grow and become a better person. 

  • My tribe is scattered. I don’t get to see very many of my closest friends all that much, and phone calls or Facetime tend only be every couple of weeks or so. Despite the distance and the changes, there’s still a mutual sense of love and support. Life may get busy, but that doesn’t mean we care for each other any less.

  • I’m now embracing messiness, both literally and figuratively. I’m becoming less afraid of how I present myself and more open letting people see the crazy parts of my journey. It is possible to be raw and vulnerable without feeling hopeless. It is possible to feel sad, low, and depressed without being dragged down by it.

  • Despite the separation the emotional separation, my family does mean the world to me. On most occasions we have different perspectives and don’t always agree, but at the end of the day we love each other. They’re the ones that teach me about acceptance and about grace; but most importantly, they’re teaching me that love is both given and received in different ways, and you have to recognize how to meet halfway. I don’t always understand the choices and decisions that are made, but that doesn’t mean I love or appreciate them any less. 

  • And on that note, I’m grateful for this time because of how I’m learning to love myself. I recognize that I am a child of God and a human being; that my identity is not in my career, my personal history, or my relationships. It’s remembering that I’m doing the best that I can, and that I need to stop beating myself up when I feel that I don’t do enough. And again, it’s embracing the messiness while still holding onto hope. Not hope that life itself will get better, but that God will give me the strength and tools to build a life for myself.

At the end of the day, all these things allow me to say that while I’m not exactly where I thought I would be, it is well with my soul.



photo credit: MoreInterpretations via photopin cc

Life Lately: Different Kinds of Light

Some days, this post-graduate chapter that I’m currently embarking on feels like this: 


Fresh. New. Vibrant and colorful. In a way that when I look around I think to myself, this world and this life is yours, darling. Make it happen! It’s why I love mornings so much: to some people every sun rise is the same, but I honestly never know what I’m going to get as my make my thrice-weekly trek from the suburbs to the city. Somehow I manage to get this kinds of snapshots, either by luck or by knowing how to capture a beautiful moment when I see it. 

And that has served me well since moving back: despite not living with my parents and being away from my best friends (along with everything that I’ve come to know since I was eighteen), I can still confidently say that life is awesome. Life is awesome and God is good.

I love the environment that I’m in; it’s not only healthy, but it gives me the space and ability to focus on both my goals and who I am as a person. My therapist is great and working with her has uncovered a lot of aspects about myself that I didn’t know existed. Keeping a journal and having quiet time has done wonders, which is why I’ve come to cherish spending time alone. 

My relationships are getting stronger: through the discovery of FaceTime (I kind of find that a lot easier to use than Skype), I can keep in touch with friends and still actually see them, despite being hundreds. at times thousands of miles apart. I’m slowly building individual, adult connections with each of my parents; this past weekend was the first weekend I spent with them since August. 

I’m enjoying my internship and slowly making my way into the working world. I’m very much a city girl and every time I go there, part of me just lights up! I’m also getting involved in a church and connecting with other people, which has allowed a lot of spiritual growth and finding a sense of faith that I wasn’t sure I was going to have again. 


And then there are days when life feels like this: 


Foggy. Unpredictable and filled with more unknowns than I can count. It’s as though the world says You can do anything…as long as you have money. And not that money wasn’t a concern before, as demonstrated by the student lones that need repaying. Despite that, I do not regret one dollar that I invested in the last four years; I learned a lot more that went above and beyond what was required to get my degree, and for that I make no apologies. 

Nor will I do so for saying that I miss college. It wasn’t about the weekend fanfare or the difference in responsibilities, but about the community. It was about the beauty in the smallest of moments that have stayed with me to this very day, and probably will for the rest of my life. Those moments which in turn bore traditions, conversations, and friends that eventually became family. I’m grateful that I took the time to savor it, along with having the ability to do so. 

And I get that every transition comes with a variety of changes, but it still makes me wonder if such changes have to be so isolating. Why did one part of my life seem to be filled with magic and endless possibilities, while this one appears to come with an endless roll of red tape? I’m in the process of trying to do things for myself that will ultimately allow me to be somewhat independent without feeling like I’m constantly draining my bank account. Yet, it’s as though whoever came up with those concepts made it purposefully difficult to get access to them. 

I’m growing. I’m learning. But I only have so much energy, emotionally or physically. It makes me wish (or beg) for my brain to be quiet at night so I can stop having nightmares. (More so, now that I know why I have them, I wish they would stop all together). If I had a choice I would fix myself up tomorrow and call it a day. I don’t like being afraid to be vulnerable. I hate living in fear that trust will only result in abandonment. Greater is the fear that all of those things will keep me from truly experiencing life and love. I know that it breaks the hearts of friends and family members to see me like this: desperately trying to break out of a mold that has done more harm than good. A mold that started with the best of intentions but had completely different results.

I experience guilt for not going to church every Sunday since moving back. I genuinely want to connect and be involved, but yet I feel guilty about asking for rides or having to explain that I haven’t quite found a groove yet. This definitely warrants its’ own post, but going to church again is still a little scary. 

But wait…

Both of these images are different, yet one thing in common: they are filled with light. Some days reflect different shades, different colors, different seasons. Yet there is still light; and where there is light, there is hope. Hope that I don’t have to wait on time to make life easier or better, but instead be able to rise above my circumstances and make healthy choices for myself. It frees me to fully trust in where God is taking me, though I don’t really know where I’m going right now (Psalm 142: 3). 

This is the light that I not only see before me, but the kind that I pray that others will see in me. 

I envision being able to look back at this season in my life and not necessarily laugh, but realize there was a reason for it. What that reason is, I’m not trying to find out anytime soon. I’m content in waiting to see it when I’m meant to.

What I do know is that I am taken care of, and I will be OK.

Something To Ponder

I’ve only been a college graduate for a month, and yet I feel like so much has happened already. Maybe not in the way of a job offer or other particular “Real World” milestones, but definitely a lot where I have grown and have a lot to be grateful for. 




My grandmother took this picture during the ceremony; I have never actually seen my eyes so full of light and wonder. Leading up to the end of the semester I was incredibly down and depressed, and the very thought of closing this chapter seemed unthinkable. I practically burst into tears every time somebody brought it up. It’s a big change and I can’t say how I’ll feel once I move out of my apartment for good. But in those two and a half hours, it was like things were coming together. Thus far, I have never felt more proud and blessed than I did during that commencement. It was truly a celebration and a victory. 

As I continue the transition, I find myself wanting (and ultimately experiencing) more joy. I’ve talked about happiness versus joy before, but not so much the other emotions that factor in when we tend to least expect them. How do you lean into or acknowledge something without wallowing in it? Growing up, it seemed like you always had to be on one side or the other. You were either extremely happy or in pain, and the former was obviously better than the latter. 

But now I know that it isn’t that cut and dry, mostly because you can’t predict what will happen or how you’ll react to it at first.  In other words, the choice isn’t what to feel, but what to embrace. I don’t believe that anybody is happy all the time as much as I believe that they’re good at keeping their struggles under wraps. Thankfully I no longer subscribe to constant happiness, because happiness isn’t constant. 

Instead, I find it more important to be anchored. 

Like it or not, bad things do happen, and you can’t get around that. You’re going to walk through fire or experience some kind of storm and most likely you won’t be able to control anything about it. And when you do, the best place to be is grounded in something greater than yourself. For me, that is my faith. I don’t always know what that looks like, but I desperately need it. 

When looking at it from a broad perspective, our culture is the way it is because we live in fear; in fact, we’re practically enraptured by it. Almost every article I come across has something to do with a list of what’s bad and why. There’s always a negative or cynical connotation to it, with little to no counter argument. The headline might as well read “How to Avoid Actually Living Life: (insert subject here) Edition. Even faith, love, and connection, which I consider some of the most wonderful aspect of any stage or chapter, seem to operate out of fear. 

At the heart of it, fear and worry are ways of trying to control what isn’t ours to control in the first place. This is especially true when another person(s) is involved. I’m not going to argue against the fear of trusting too much too soon. The fear of being taken advantage of. The fear of looking back and berating ourselves over what could have been done differently, wondering if the risk was even worth it. I understand that we all have different experiences and to different degrees. For me, the prospect of missing out on something (or someone) great because of what might go wrong far outweighs the prospect of getting hurt in the end. 

It’s natural (and normal) to wonder about the possibilities. But what if there was another way, aside from being weighed down by what has already been or what has yet to be?

Be cautious in order to be aware and fully present in whatever you’re doing. 

Take your time so that you can appreciate the process of getting to know people and hearing their 
 stories. 

Don’t protect your heart for the sake of not letting someone else in. Let God be the one to guide it, and trust that He will heal it in seasons of pain or sadness. 

Allow yourself to be happy, even if the reason is temporary. Let that joy radiate, even it in means looking childish and goofy to the rest of the world. I would have saved myself a lot of stress had I just embraced that side of myself early on, particularly as a teenager. 

Looking back on these last four years, I didn’t just get an education, but an experience. My advice to anyone and everyone is this: whatever you do in life, be all in. It may only be for a season, but there’s always a chance of your life changing in the best way possible because of it. Be in the present moment. Take a chance. 

Don’t worry about getting everything you want. Rather, focus on becoming everything you want. 

While I still have room for improvement, I’m humbled to say that I did that. 

And I’m glad.

A Letter To a Friend Above


Inspiration

What/Who inspired you this year? 

Rather than try to explain it all over again, I just thought I would share this. 

Dear Kevin, 

It’s been almost six months; in that time I’ve felt such a mixture of emotions that I had no idea how to explain it, and to this day I still don’t. But this is not about me, it’s about you. I feel like I’ve finally come up with a way to say thank you for all you’ve done for me, and all you continue to do for me. 

I hate that I can’t remember how we met exactly, but it what most likely from somewhere or through somebody in high school; maybe because you played football with my brother, or through a very mutual (and kind-hearted) friend of ours. We didn’t interact or talk much at first, at least until I was a junior and you were a senior. And when we did talk, you always made me laugh or make my cheeks turn red with embarrassment.  I sensed that there was something unique and special about you, like we were kindred spirits. It might have been the height factor or the fact that we usually had a way of surprising people. Either way, it was a different impression.

And we would become kindred spirits when you came to Iowa City during my second year of college. You introduced me to Spotted Cow beer and simultaneously made fun of me for being terrified to try whiskey (which I did eventually). The following morning, you serenaded me with Scotty McCreery and I thought it was so damn cute. I can only imagine you shaking your head at me for smiling at those memories.

And then of course there was the following night, which had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pass out. But on a serious note, I’m beyond thankful that you helped keep me safe and calm when I was initially afraid of ending up in a bad situation. The whole reason I’ve never forgotten it is because two weeks later someone else would come up to visit and leave me in the hands of a creepy dude who probably intended to take advantage of me that night. So now anytime a friend is willing to walk me home or make sure I’m OK, I always take it to heart (in a good way). 

I wish with everything in me that I had invited you to come up for my twenty-first birthday celebration. I thought about it often, but in the end assumed that it would be too hard to travel and find some place to stay. Still I can’t help but wonder how you would have reacted at the sight of me drinking like a crazy person; you might have very well joined in at some point, or maybe just offered to carry me home. Not that it wasn’t fun as it was, but it would having you and the others there would have kicked it up a few notches.  That will always be one of my regrets about our friendship. 

The other one is not taking part in celebrating your life in the days and weeks after I got the news. I wanted to put my arms around people and just be with them, but I kept saying that I needed to talk about it. The truth is, I was suffocating emotionally and making bad decisions because of it. On top of that, I was being given the message that openly grieving was only appropriate for those that were closest to you. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I don’t have to be the best of friends with someone in order to care about them. And from hearing about all your acts of kindness for others, both big and small, I’m sure you felt the same way. 

Though you’re no longer here on earth, your spirit and your legacy have made such a profound impact. In the midst of the numbness I experienced, I began to take a hard look at what I was doing with my life; not just in terms of wisdom versus stupidity, but what my gifts were and the way I could use them to make a difference for others. At first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to, at least physically. But after talking with my therapist, I understood that everybody has their own strengths, and I just happen to have a knack for using words to show love and compassion. 

But more than that, whenever I think of you I’m reminded that life is to be actively lived, not something to just exist or survive in. To  make sure that the times I spend with my loved ones always end on a good note, and to not be ashamed of letting them know how much I care about them. I’ve been through a lot this last year, but I’m choosing to focus on the good instead of zeroing in on my anger and wallowing in pain. And above all, you motivate me to take chances because of how precious life truly is. It’s what keeps me going in my journey to become a published writer, as well as to have love in my life. I could go on, but you’re probably shaking your head at how sappy I’m being as it is!

I miss you so much; you’re a wonderful human being and a great friend, and I hope that I was able to do the same for you. I love you and cherish the memories I have of our friendship, and will never ever forget about you. In fact, I think I owe you a proper visit; while I loved talking to you at random moments as I’ve watched the sun go down, it’s about time I paid my respects. But regardless, thank you for what you’ve taught me and what I’m still learning.You will always be my pal, Otis, and have a special place in my heart.

Love Always, 
Alyx

Update: I also wrote a poem in his honor as well, and rather than post both links separately, I’m including it here

Life Lately: In Seasons





It’s no secret that over the last couple of years, fall/autumn has become one of my favorite times of the year. While nature begins to slowly change and the air starts to chill, it’s also a time where I feel incredibly close to the people around me. I’ve taken to calling in the “wrapped in a warm blanket” type feeling. Everything is just warm and cozy and comfortable.

These special (and somewhat sentimental) occasions are what keep me sane when the homework load gets heavy, or I experience a bout of senioritis like an overnight flu bug. My friends and I have celebrated a plethora of birthdays, went to an orchard/pumpkin farm and indulged in everything relating to pumpkins and apples (with a semi-photo shoot to boot), cried over the Cory Montieth tribute while watching Glee, and other memories that seem insignificant to the rest of the world. However, they mean the world to me.

As I look back on the fall season as a whole, I’ve noticed that it’s when a lot of wonderful, crazy, and even life changing events have taken place. In the span of four or five years, I’ve met and found many of my closest friends, grew deeper in my faith, and learned how to deal with painful aspects of my history. And it suddenly occured to me that while some seasons are better than others, life truly does happen in seasons of love. 

It’s not always deep conversations over wine or hot chocolate. Schedules are hectic, and there are weeks and days where prayer requests and “thinking of you” via text takes the place of bear hugs and face-to-face interaction. While I do believe in not letting to-do list’s and school work dominate quality time, I’m beginning to understand the other side of the coin: it’s not a matter of whether or not you want to, but whether or not you can without reaching the point of exhaustion. Right now I’m walking a thin line of packing so much in all at once. It’s frustrating because on one hand I feel like I’m on a race against time, trying to make the most of every moment before it all runs out. On the other, that’s all you really can do; appreciate the time you do get with people, even if it’s small and insignificant when it’s happening. 

That’s where I’ve learned to appreciate random run-in’s, where all you can do is exchange a hug and “how are you?” that lasts all of five minutes before you have to go to class or run to catch up with whomever. That’s where I’ve not learned not to focus on what place somebody has in my life or try to be best friends when every person that I know. I’m not going to obsess over who has treated me right and who hasn’t. It’s just not worth the energy, especially now. 

Leaves turn. Things happen. Don’t just measure good by what you have or what you can give, but how you grow.

photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

My Greatest Fear: One Year Later








What is your greatest fear? 

A little over a year ago, I would have said that it was something along the lines of not being able to find love. During that time, I was just coming off the heels of a somewhat traumatic incident  one that would take me ten months to process and begin to heal from. Part of me believed that men would only see me as either a target to be taken advantage of, or something to be avoided because I was no longer this “good girl.” I was lost and scared to the point of it being ridiculous.


At the end of my sophomore year, I ventured into a season of dating. It’s not something that I regret because I became more aware of what I don’t want in a significant other, as well as how to tell the difference between genuine attraction versus liking the idea of someone. By the end of it, I was a little frustrated and emotionally exhausted. I was  torn between trying to give these guys a chance, while trying to navigate their forwardness and the matter of them wanting me versus just wanting a title or status. I eventually took a step back because I needed a break.

In the midst of all that, I was still holding on to an old relationship that realistically had come to an end a long time ago. I just needed to set myself free and to accept that was no reason to keep trying anymore. We weren’t talking and he wasn’t making an effort to be part of my life. Whatever dynamic existed between the two of us at that point was just flat out unhealthy. And so the week after my birthday, I cut him out completely. Looking back I can’t say that it was a relief; when you spend eight years investing yourself in a particular relationship, perhaps that person alone, it’s hard to not care anymore. Part of me will always love him, and the time we spent together has a special place in my heart.  But it was time to let go.

When the Boston bombings happened, I had no words to describe exactly how I felt; I just wept and prayed and wondered where do I go from here? It was not just that April morning that shook me, but the culmination of events that proceeded it: natural disasters, other tragedies, things from my personal life. I can’t recall where I read it, but somebody make a remark along for the lines of “for ten years, we have lived in fear.” That echoed my own sentiments: what was next, and I would I be personally affected by it?

And somewhere in those following days, I began to understand that my fear of not finding love was misplaced. Love is not something that is meant to be found, because it is everywhere. The hard part is being able to recognize it and embrace it. But from where I’m at now, I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of it. Rather, I am most afraid of missing out on the important things, and ultimately not making the most out of life.

The big question is, how does anybody do that? How do you completely lean into joy and live in the present moment without denying pain or struggle? How do you really show up? That’s something we’re all trying to figure out. I suppose it’s a matter of paying attention; and when the moment comes, you just have to completely let yourself go, appreciate the moment,  and not over think a situation. Unfortunately it’s not an attitude that you can automatically adopt; it’s a practice, and it doesn’t always come easy.

So many people harp on and spend their lives trying to “get it right.” Reflecting on the past three and a half years, I have never been overly cautious about my choices or experiences, and I can honestly say that I don’t regret it. I haven’t always made the best decisions, but sometimes you have to make those mistakes in order to understand what’s good for you and what isn’t. That doesn’t mean you should go out and get yourself into trouble all the time, but it’s important to accept that it happened and be able to move on.

I don’t have all of the answers. I would like to say that from this moment on that I’m just simply going to throw my hands up and really start living my life, yet I’m not exactly sure how to go about it. These last couple of months have definitely been a sign of progress: I reached out to people that I either took for granted or had a falling out with at some point. We’re not exactly best friends, but we’re at peace now

I’ve also been writing letters to loved ones, very similar to what I did for Lent last year. I try to make a point of telling someone that I care about them in whatever way I can, whether it be an unexpected act of kindness or a text saying that I’m thinking about them. We may not talk or see each other every day, but that doesn’t make them any less important to me.There doesn’t have to be a close friendship, whether it be physically emotionally, in order for me to care about someone.

Maybe the key is a balance of expectations: not having high ones, but not assuming the worst case scenario will always come into play. In other words, to be open to the possibilities, changes, and even curve balls that life often presents. I believe that God works everything out in the way that it’s meant to be, even if it’s not the way I hope or initially want.

If nothing else, living is about having a grateful heart. Giving thanks in all circumstances is probably one of the hardest things to do, but in the long run is often one of the most rewarding. Once you get in the hang of practicing gratitude, living and loving become more of a practice as well. They’re all interconnected: you cannot live without loving at least one other person, and a way to enable love in action is to give thanks. They can certainly exist separately, but they’re better together as one. 

Little by little, I feel my fear fading into memory; it still comes up every once in a while, especially when I realized how much time has gone by. I was very insecure during my first two years at college, and now that I’m on the cusp of being a senior, I see that I didn’t have a whole lot to be insecure about. At the same time, I was young and inexperienced, as a lot of people can be at that age. It’s as if I know better now, but still have a lot to learn.

Walking

It’s amazing how much my mood changes when the sun is out, when I’m not all bundled up to the point where I’m fogging up my glasses. It’s not just baseball season, it’s walking season.

(image credit: Pinterest

It’s like I can finally breathe again; I’m no longer confined to layers upon layers of clothing, nor does my head have to be kept down in wanting to guard itself from the wind. Slowly inhaling gulps of spring scented air, I begin my trek up the slightly angled sidewalk toward my destination.

Since I’ve been a college student, leisure walks have taken the place of mornings and afternoons spent on my backward swing set; it’s my one of my escapes from the world, a getaway from chores and things that are crying out to get done. I have a strong preference for walking over running; I don’t trip as much, and it allows me more opportunities to take everything in. 

Yes, I’ve been here almost three years and I still look around in awe, amazed that I’m actually here and that I’ve come so far. It didn’t seem all too long ago that I was a dumbstruck eighteen year old, thinking that this place was utterly huge and intimidating to navigate. I’m still terrible with directions, but I can tell you where to go based on various landmarks. 

I go past the local Starbucks, a yoga studio and a super fancy restaurant that serves all these weird looking food platters. Making a right, I now stand in what some call the heart of campus, or at least the night life scene. It’s pretty much a mixture of bars and eateries, but some have more sentimental memories than others. On one side is a popular hang out where I had my very first kiss, and on the other is a nightclub where I managed to find myself in some pretty interesting situations. Apparently I’m quite the dancer in both establishments. For whatever reason, they like to party like it’s still the 90’s, but you can’t get them to play Luke Bryan. I don’t get it. 

But it’s not just about the craziness and whatever happens as a result. Some of the most meaningful moments and conversations have taken place around here. I became best friends with someone through getting coffee on several Friday afternoons. A few doors down I celebrated my twenty-first birthday, where I can still recall receiving one of the best hugs I’ve gotten in a long time

The majority of the memories that I hold in my heart weren’t (and still aren’t) planned or expected. Yet, that’s what makes them so incredibly beautiful. Subconsciously, I know that certain things may not happen again for a long time, or maybe ever. So I savor whatever is happening; moments where in context it doesn’t come across as a big deal, yet it still means the world to me. I take snapshots in my mind: from the music that plays through the speakers to the people I run into, I manage to remember it all. 

It was through those moments that I’ve learned to be present and live with an open heart. To not worry about what comes afterward or who’s looking at me. I just take it in, and remind myself that the only regrets worth having are when you don’t learn a lesson or have a story to tell because of it. 

I begin to take the usual route back to my apartment, where papers need to be written, chapters need to be read, and productivity is a definite must. That all too-often sense of being overwhelemed washes over me, but with it comes an oh-so gentle reminder that never fails to give me goosebumps: cherish this. 

Usually that’s the kick-start to an emotional tug of war; I frequently get stuck between knowing that I’m blessed with more than I deserve, while at the same time feeling pulled down by the undertow of both short term and long term stresses. It’s that whole “well there’s always someone out there who has it worse” while believing that I could, and want to be in a much better place than I am currently. 

It’s draining and exhausting; above all else, it doesn’t work. 

The thing is, you don’t have to choose a side. I used to believe that you either had to be really happy or really pissed off, and those can be umbrella terms for a lot of other matters. You don’t necessarily have to be for something or against it. What I’m trying to say is that there are days where you’re going to feel on top of the world, and days where you’re going to feel like you’re being crushed by it. The trick is ultimately knowing when to let go instead of dwelling on what you can’t change or control. 

Before turning the corner, I look back and survey the scene before me: people grazing on sushi or sandwiches in one of the nearby cafes. Children laughing and playing on the little playground in front of the public library. Men and women of all ages relaxing on various benches, contemplating life and appreciating the sunshine. This is what I know as of today: everyone has their own share of crap they have to deal with and their own pain they have to heal from. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any joy or hope. Life is hard, but God is still good.

Reflections like these are what make my walks similar to therapy;  in some ways, they’re even more clarifying than sitting in a room full of people and going on about whatever I’m struggling with. I’m not venting and rehashing out the same stuff; I’m observing what’s around me and learning from it. Sometimes it’s good to put a little distance from a to-do list because it gives you the ability to rest and approach in a healthier way later on. 

And the best part? You never know who you might run into, or what adventure you might embark on next!

Thankful Thursday

Recently, my group counselor told me to make a list of things that I’m grateful for; I always try to have a heart of gratitude,because no matter where God has me at in life, there is always so much to give thanks for. I will probably post this segment once a month at the least, twice at the most. This time it is just what I wrote down as a whole, but as time goes on I will get more specific. Feel free to comment and share anything that you’re grateful for as well!

1.      My faith and the foundation it has in my life
2.      An amazing, supportive family and awesome, positive friends
3.      Having the ability to walk, run, and be independent
4.      Creative expression; expressing myself through words and writing
5.      Attending the University that I go to
6.      Having my own apartment that I can wake up in and come home to
7.      Drinking a delicious cup of coffee in the morning (or any time of the day)
8.      My past experiences and the ways that I’ve grown because of them
9.      Disney movies
10.   Hugs
11.   Laughter
12.   Deep conversations; being open and vulnerable with people
13.   Spending time with my crazy, rambunctious family
14.   Dancing
15.   Cozy movie nights
16.   Random acts of kindness
17.   Dancing
18.   Music; specifically country, pop, and rock
19.   Nature: anywhere with a beach or a mountain area, watch the sun rise/set
20.   Wine
21.   Chocolate
22.   Those that protect and serve our country
23.   Grandparents
24.   Having get-togethers
25.   My pets, and the unconditional love that they give
26.   Getting older
27.   Truth and honesty, in the right context and for the right reasons
28.   When someone smiles and waves at me as we walk past each other
29.   Books and the ability to read
30.   Special moments that you don’t plan or expect
31.   Random, fun adventures
32.   Technology (sometimes)
33.   Writing letters

FFebruary has been such a whirlwind, although I’ve learned a lot and my perspective was changed on a lot of things. What are you grateful for this month?

The Smallest of Times

Day 24-Celebration 

What did you celebrate this year? 

Aside from today being Christmas Eve, where in my Christian faith I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and enjoy a time of laughter and family, there are many other occasions in which I toasted and look back upon with gratitude. I’m not going to go into too much detail since I have to help with last minute preparations and getting ready before we go to Christmas services at my family’s Catholic church. But here are the smaller, but no less significant celebrations that I took part in:

I celebrated my twentieth birthday; that is, surviving my teen years

I celebrated making it through two semesters in an awful living situation

I celebrate my ability to succeed in grow during two years of college

My grandparents fiftieth wedding anniversary

Oddly enough, I celebrated on the day and I chose to start going into therapy again. It has been over a year that I’ve been getting help, and I have never felt more present or aware of who I am and what I’ve been through. 

I celebrated a variety of birthdays, and will be celebrating my twenty-first birthday a little over a month from now. 

I celebrate my health, and the health of my loved ones

And above all, I celebrate being alive and for coming as far as I have. I will never take that for granted. 

Whether you celebrate Christmas or another holiday, may you have a blessed day (or multiple days) surrounded by people that mean the most to you, God bless!

Another Side Of The Fence

Day 15-Newness 

Did you try anything new in 2012? How did you like it/dislike it? 

I used to hate the idea of being alone for long periods of time. It made me feel like if I wasn’t constantly surrounded by friends or even people, there was something wrong with me. At first, the idea of getting an apartment on my own signified that I stood out from others, and that I was a failure. But I had a lot of trouble finding someone to live with as it was, and didn’t want to run the risk of not having it work out again by just moving in with the first person that agreed. 

Fast forward to now, and looking back on the semester, it is one of the best decisions that I’ve made this year, if not in my entire college career. I love having my own space where everything is a reflection of me. I’m free to come and go as I please, and I’m not dreading what I’m going to find once I walk in the door. There’s no tension or bending over backwards to try and keep shit from hitting the fan. 

Honestly, it did get lonely the first weekend I was there; I would occasionally wish that I just had someone to talk to, because that was time when everyone was reuniting and catching up from being apart over the summer. And not that I didn’t have people to catch up with, but rather they hadn’t come back into town yet. 

But that ache and that hurt that I used to feel from last year is gone. If I want to spend time with friends and talk to them, I call them up and we make a date to get coffee or lunch. I had a small party for the first time the weekend before finals; it was a send-off for my best friend that is studying abroad next semester, and I felt blessed to be able to host such an event. I pulled together a lot of good food, and we drank wine and just talked for most of the night. Oh, and then there was the crazy dance party for those of us who were still around after midnight! I hope I can have more of those as the school year goes on. 

Most importantly though, I need space for myself. I’ve been going through a lot of healing in the past four months, and it has been extremely beneficial to have that solitude and quiet space in order to reflect. Living alone isn’t something that I see as separating myself from those that I care about, but giving me the space and energy that I need in order to be the best person and friend that I can be. 

Not having roommates is uncommon, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I have no regrets whatsoever.