Merry Christmas: The journey to the light

I’ve struggled the last week or two with whether or not to write this post. I didn’t want to only share negative, selfish thoughts surrounding a most blessed of holidays. But this is about my journey, so I’m sharing.

I’ve run the gamut of emotions this holiday season. After the last several years of my life spending this holiday with someone, it is underwhelming to spend it alone.

I LOVE Christmas. I love the holidays spent with those you love, doing things, making memories, decorating, relaxing. I’m a giver. I love finding the perfect gift for someone and seeing their face light up when they receive it. But I have no special someone to share these moments with this year, so it all seems very sad. It’s not that I feel the need to have someone to make things special in my life. It’s not a body count. I’m certain that spending your days with the wrong person, especially holidays, is probably just as bad, but you get what I mean. It is its own brand of suck known only to those who’ve spent holidays alone. *raises glass of alcohol to all the singles reading this*

I’ve never wanted a holiday season over with more than I do this year.

I’ve spent many a night wondering where my path is taking me. Feeling surrounded by darkness in the moments where families are busy brightening their homes with Christmas lights and holiday cheer. Wondering the plan God has for me.

I realized tonight as I listened to the sermon of the Christmas Eve service that Mary must have had similar concerns about her path and her plan. How the months leading up to Jesus’s birth, that night when no inn would take them, her son, the Son of God, being born in a barn among the animals, must have been wrought with dark moments and questioning thoughts. She must have wondered who was she to have this burden, how would her life change, what would lie ahead.

But she kept her faith. Even in the darkest of moments, she kept her faith. And she was rewarded with the ultimate Light. A light that continues to shine in each and every one of us, even in the darkest of our moments.

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And so in the moments of uncertainty, I am reminded to look to Him. In the sadness, loneliness, questions of the future…He is there. In the moments where I wonder my path, where I wish for someone to share these days with…I am reminded I am so blessed. I may not have a him in my life right now, but I have HIM.

In my darkest of days, He is the light. He shines through me. And that is enough.

For His birth, His death, His love…I am amazingly and wonderfully blessed.

Merry Christmas.

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{Happy} Friday funday with a splash of music

I watched the first :30 or so of this video and  set it up as a saved draft for next Wednesday’s “music wednesday”. As I finished watching the video, I realized I couldn’t wait.

Thank you to Fast Co for bringing the initiative of this video to my attention. Just watching the promo clip made me smile from ear to ear and start tapping my foot along to the beat. The lyrics hold true, too, to what I’m trying to accomplish in my life and what I think I’m writing about searching for in this blog. I think a lot of people will be able to relate. I mean, look at the chorus:

“Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof 

Because I’m happy 

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth 

Because I’m happy 

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you 

Because I’m happyClap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”

Sometimes we let others or the things around us get us down. Sometimes we let those things seal us and our happiness potential into a space too small….a room WITH a roof. We deserve to be happy, and we can be. We just have to act towards the things that make us that way and cast aside or ignore the things that don’t.

I am really excited to see the full 24hr production and can only imagine the fun they had making it. The article mentions that this will be the first 24hr video produced and talks about the creative obstacles related to that. Pharrell actually has a really good quote about how creative obstacles are the best kind because they force us to push ourselves and think in new ways.

“The best work comes from people who are motivated by crisis–when something stops the original idea, they respond by coming up with something even better. Existence is all mathematics,” he says. “There’s an equation for success in every obstacle.”

I think this is true with every obstacle in our life, creative or otherwise. Thinking about, taking action, and overcoming something that was a hurdle in our life’s path causes us to be an even better version of ourselves. And probably happier too!

Happy Friday guys.

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Friday Fun-day with words of action

A follow-up to yesterday. MAKE this weekend great!

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TED Thursday: The investment of action

Forget about having an identity crisis & get some identity capital. Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.” – Amy Cuddy

I posted this quote over the weekend. It spoke to me in the sense of moving forward and all of the steps you take to create the person you are, and the person you will become. Your actions are your investment.

A friend commented on the post that Amy had presented a really good TED talk…and after watching it – I totally agree! Thanks Charlotte!

In the talk, Amy speaks on the inverse of the age-old idea that our thoughts influence our actions. While the old adage “happy thoughts make happy lives” makes me grit my teeth sometimes, I understand that if you only dwell on one thing, it can become overwhelming. She chose, however, to look at the inverse. That your actions, the physical way in which you present or carry yourself, affect your thoughts. 
In a non-experiment scenario, read: the real world, this almost feels like a chicken-egg debate. If you’re slouching in your seat, is it because you subconsciously don’t want to be seen. Or is it because you don’t want to be seen that you slouch. Does the person who is confident think confidence and therefore walk taller, or do they walk taller and therefore feel more confident?
Not the point right now.
The point, to me at least, is that actions count. Everything affects everything. Non-actions have an affect too, but what is the investment in your future when you do nothing? Are you creating any future by sitting still? Probably not.
These actions are also, as she mentioned, really good social cues. Especially when words can be so overused and under-meant nowadays – and yes I say that fully aware that my blog could be considered an overuse of words. The thing is, I try my hardest to back my words with actions.

But when people aren’t good with words, all you’re left with are actions. Your actions, even just the crossing of your arms, the way you sit in a group of people, the nod of a head…they’re all social cues to the people around you. And they all affect how those people perceive your intentions and act towards you. Your actions are your investment in your future. They are the possible transaction of value to a better you…or a worse one.
Every day is a transaction. How are you investing in your future?
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What does your weekend hold?

Live it up.

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Friday Fun-day

With both a mix of inspiration and fun, I welcome Friday. Today is the Sara Bareilles concert – holla!!!

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Friday Inspiration

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Thursday Video: A diamond, a rose, a most precious material

A military friend sent me this the other day. It’s amazing how God speaks to you. This video is a reminder I need to give myself daily.

I am beautiful. I am smart. I am funny. I am kind. I am unique.

I am worthy. I am worthy of being treated like the most precious of gems.

I am worthy of a love and affection most powerful.

I am.

And until I am blessed with that love in this human life, I am secure in the knowledge that I have that love in Him. Unconditional. Unfailing. Without hesitation or question.

He gave me strength, and still loves me in my weakest moments. He gave me talent, and still loves me when I’m silly. He gave me a great love to give. A great love worthy of loving.

While I seek to find that person in me, those characteristics, again – the strength, the love, the talent, the kindness, the patience – I have hope because I know He already sees it. While I journey to find a person to share my life and my love with, a person who will love me as God loves me, who will show me happiness in the darkest of days and be my partner, my equal in my life’s adventures – I have faith because I know He already sees not just the journey, but the destination.

I am awesome.

And when I forget it, I have awesome friends to remind me. I have me to remind me. I have HIM to remind me.

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TED Thursday: Vulnerability equals growth

This week’s TED talk is by Brené Brown, about the power of vulnerability. First off…she speaks crazy well. You can’t help but listen. She’s got a good mix of funny and fact.

I also think that it relates to my crazy kid on a roller coaster metaphor. Because if I sit back and think about it, what I’m going crazy over is the unknown. The inability to control the situation. That feeling of vulnerability.

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So, if you don’t have time to listen/watch it (20min, totally worth it) – here are some quotes and the main things I took away from it:

“Knock discomfort upside the head and move it over.”

Yup. That’s me. To a “t”. Or at least the me I’m trying to break free of.

“Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. “We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.””

“They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be to be who they were.”

This kind of gets back to the quote image my cousin sent me from this post. That it’s not about being the person you think people want you to be, that the fake person makes you better in some way…but instead being yourself. And that inherently makes you the best person possible. But people rarely do it because it’s very vulnerable to be the real you. You open yourself up to criticism. To hurt. To the possibility of not being accepted.

“I know that vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, struggle for worthiness…but also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love.”

To which she then said, vulnerability may be awesome but:

“A. that’s not me 

B. I don’t even hang out with people like that.”

Word. She and I? Cut from the same cloth. But as a part of her research, she decided to take on this openness. This feeling of vulnerability.

“It was a year-long street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but I probably won my life back…”

“You cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say: Here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability. Here’s grief. Here’s shame. Here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m gonna have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin…You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. You cannot selectively numb. When we numb those, we numb joy. We numb gratitude. We numb happiness. And then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning. And then we feel vulnerable so we have a couple beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”

“You are imperfect and you are wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging.”

“To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. To love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee. To practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering “can I love you this much? can I believe in this as passionately? can I be this fierce about this?” Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say “I’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive”. “

“To believe that we’re enough. When we work from a place that says “I’m enough” we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us.”

I think this is part of my journey. To continue to grow into the person who freely shows their emotions. Who is okay with living in the moment. I think people saw our “perfect” marriage and so I began to emulate that. I began to hide away the real emotions, the real struggle. I think I didn’t let many people know about it because I didn’t want to release that vulnerability. To acknowledge that try as I might, my effort to create happiness for two was going nowhere. That I wasn’t in control. I finally became okay with that because I realized the issue was bigger than me. It was bigger of a problem than I could solve. Than we could solve.

And now? I still struggle with that vulnerability, but it’s on a different level. It’s a different type. I don’t necessarily know where my life is taking me; what lies after the upward ka-chunk, ka-chunk of the roller coaster. But I’m learning that this unknown is okay. That opening myself up to it, to the passion or grief, is letting me be the real me.

Most people know I do everything passionately. I love hard. I work hard. I play hard. But that also means that when it happens, I hurt just as hard. Because I invest all of me in everything I do. And I have to realize that the hurt is okay. Not necessarily the reason for the hurt, but the act of hurting. Of grieving or feeling pain. Of pushing. Because that also means I’m open to the joy. The wonder and happiness that this world, this life has in store for me.

I don’t like to hurt. I don’t like the unknown. But as I sit here, strapped into this roller coaster, I’m going to try each day to thrash a little less. To sit back, relax, and stare at the sky in wonderment. Because the ka-chunk will be over soon. And then the ride will begin.

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Inspiration from unexpected sources

Sometimes you have to live your life…and just let things happen to you. You have to just sit back, stop pushing, and see where it goes. As a planner, this is a really hard concept for me. I always want to know the next step, the next goal. I always want to be working towards something.

But right now…I am coming to the understanding that this is different. Yes, I’m still working towards an ultimate goal of happiness. Of enjoying life. Of feeling fulfilled. I know that this will be a constant goal, a constant effort. But, at the same time, I realize that a set plan is not how I get there. You can’t have a list for happiness – whether to create it for someone else, or for yourself. It’s not a piece of furniture that comes from Ikea with step by step instructions. It’s life. And it’s messy. And unpredictable.

Which is why sometimes you you have to just sit back and say “Ok. I’m going to focus on this one thing I know I can do, and just let the rest be for awhile.” And then life happens to you. In crazy, unexpected ways you find inspiration.

This last week I got inspiration from two unexpected sources. The first was a cousin who lives out in Colorado and sent me a pin, maybe because I’ve been overloading her Pinterest board (sorry Pinterest followers), that made her think of me. I love it, and am considering printing it and hanging it somewhere I’ll see it every day:

The second piece was during the Grey’s premiere last Thursday. A friend came over to watch and drink wine. About midway through, a voice-over monologue – common in Grey’s – caught our attention about two sentences in, that caused her to look at me and say “I think they wrote this for you”:

“We’re all going to die. We don’t get much say over how or when, but we do get to decide how we’re gonna live. So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More Compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide.”

So yeah, I’m a planner. I want to know, set, and work towards the goals in my life. And sometimes when I don’t feel like I’m getting there, I act like a crazy child with Tourettes strapped into a roller coaster ride, anxious to get to the fun part and be done with the ka-chunk, ka-chunk of the uphill climb. But I’m slowly realizing that that uphill climb is part of it. And the goals in life wouldn’t feel like sweet, sweet victory without a bit of cursing and climbing. But mostly that, even through the climb and the cursing and clawing towards goals, there will be inspiration from friends or otherwise that remind you you’re not alone. There is a bigger plan, and sometimes it’s just worth relaxing and realizing you’ll get there.

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