Ms. Jones

I remember one of the many times I’ve been told I was “fake” because I’m as happy as I am, even when circumstances say I should be otherwise.

“No one is that happy all the time,” she said.

I replied that that’s true, and I certainly have my moments- I’m human just like the rest of us. But what I’ve learned along my brief journey so far is that we ultimately have a choice. Happiness is a choice.

“That’s not true, you can’t just choose to be happy. Bad things happen and you can’t just pretend they don’t exist. You can’t be that naive,” she insisted.

I told her that it’s true, things happen all the time that are less than desirable, and as humans we often react in a less than desirable way. But I’ve learned that I can choose to remain in that place, or I can choose to move forward into happiness.
I choose happiness every time.
And ironically, I find that the more often I choose happiness, the more easily and naturally it comes to me and becomes my reaction. It’s not nativity or pretending negativity doesn’t exist, but it’s choosing how you’re going to allow those negative circumstances affect you… are you going to dwell on them or are you going to look for an opportunity of growth within them and focus on your gratitude for that instead?

Funny enough, the person I was having this particular conversation with continued on with her negative and critical feedback and I eventually had to excuse myself to let out a few tears in the restroom… she was pretty determined to break me and worked really hard at it. Many times when people are in a negative or painful place in their own lives, they don’t want to hear of or see others as being positive. Think about it in regards to when you wake up in the morning and are just so tired and so grumpy, you only see stressful things ahead in your day, and maybe you even have a headache… the last thing you want to be around is a morning person who’s actually looking forward to the day ahead, right? In this case, I knew this person had experienced a lot of struggle in her life and it had become all she’d known or expected, and because I choose not to dwell on struggles, she was unaware that I had any of my own and assumed based on my attitude toward life that I’d been spoiled with ease, as many often do assume of me. She resented me for it and I had a human reaction to her approach toward me, as many understandably would.

But rather than remaining in that place and allowing the negative circumstances I was experiencing to sink deep down into me and marinate, causing more sadness/anger/frustration, I let the tears flow in honest emotion, and then I spent a few moments reflecting on the situation and ultimately coming back from it truly happy and even a bit stronger than before- because I chose to. I saw that this person was hurting me because she was hurt herself, and often times hurt people hurt people. I chose to continue to treat her with respect and love, despite my initial reaction to want to retaliate and at the very least make her feel badly for being so hurtful, and she eventually did end up being nicer to me and I think even appreciating my approach to life a little more.

If I allowed my circumstances to determine my happiness, I would be in a very difficult and dark place, and as a result my attitude and outlook on life would only attract more negative circumstances… the cycle would be viscous. Life wouldn’t be an enjoyable experience for me to love, it would be a painful experience I’d be eager to simply “get through”. Choosing happiness has had the opposite effect and brings a consistent flow of beautiful things my way. The blessings are endless, and the gratitude is overwhelming! This beautiful young woman, Ms. Jones, understands that, and it’s inspiring. I wanted to share her story, as told by a miss Amber Brown…

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy. “Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room …. just wait.” “That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged, it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life.” She went on to explain, “Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing.” And with a smile, she said: “Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 1. Free your heart from hatred. 2. Free your mind from worries. 3. Live simply. 4. Give more. 5. Expect less

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Beautiful Ring

So I just started a new book. Found it in a cafe/bookstore that was practically giving amazing reading pieces away. SOLID find. I obviously bought about a billion books and couldn’t have walked out with a bigger grin on my face. Anyways, this book is called “Just As I Am- The Life of David Ring” and just as with most of the books I picked up that day, I’d never heard of this one and wasn’t completely sure what it was about when I bought it. I had no idea who David Ring was, but because it seemed clear to me that it was a book about loving who you are just the way that you are, and so I was intrigued and wanted to find out.

When I first opened the book, I saw the words, “David Ring  Eph. 3:20,21” written right there on the otherwise blank very first page. At first I thought a child had scribbled in the book. It didn’t bother me, as I knew I was purchasing an old book, but I did take notice of it. But after a moment I realized that although the handwriting was scribbly, it actually had more mature form and the words written were not words I would imagine a child would write. It looked more shaky as though an older man or woman had written it, possibly while sitting in a moving car. It boggled my mind, because when I considered it in that way, I thought about the man in the picture on the cover of the book, who I assumed was David Ring. I mean, why else would anyone else be on the cover of a book about the life of David Ring, right? But the man on the cover was not an old man at all; he was a younger man who I assumed was about 40 years old. So then I was even more confused because I couldn’t think of a reason that an elderly man or woman would write the author’s name followed by a bible passage. It just didn’t make sense… and then it hit me. I realized this must truly be the signature of the author, who I still assumed was the person in the photo on the cover of the book, and the handwriting must be a part of his story. I immediately imagined his story to be one that included a something of a physical ailment, such as cerebral palsy, and this was his official author’s autograph I was looking at. I thought of the story I was about to read being one of victory over a major physical struggle which he could have seen as a hindrance, but instead chose to see as an opportunity to love himself just as he is and share his story as an inspiration for others to do the same… and those are my favorite kinds of stories! I still didn’t know who he was, but what I did know before even reading a word of his story is that he must be an incredibly strong, inspiring, and beautiful person, and I was already excited to absorb the words he had to share.

And that autograph? It already felt celebrity.

I haven’t even made it through the first chapter yet and I simply had to write about it. I had to share the way this man’s story has already touched my heart because people like him are important. Their existence is much more significant than meets the eye, and it blows me away each and every time I learn a new story of another beautiful soul.

Basically, I was correct in my assumptions. David Ring is a man who has cerebral palsy, and it creates a lot of physical difficulties in his life including the basics like walking, writing, and speech, among many other aspects of course. But what spoke to me right away in the words I was reading was the clearly confident and even humorous disposition he has in regards to the ways in which he’s aware that his differences are perceived by others. For example, he joked about the way people might be studying him and said that he was studying them too, and that he’s thinking it’s going to be difficult to learn to like them (he says this in a light-hearted way, of course). He also jokes about the ways he knows his speech is difficult to understand and asked people to not let it bother them, as it doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to him… and then assures them it’s not contagious, so they can’t catch it.

It was just refreshing to see that this man understands that his cerebral palsy does not define him; it is simply a part of the life he lives, and he welcomes it with confidence. I’m sure he has not always held that position and I have no doubt that he has his difficult days, as he’s human just like the rest of us, but for him to have come to a place of such strength and excitement in life undoubtedly took courage, dedication, faith, and love for himself and for others. Without knowing much of his story yet at all, I know that this man has experienced an immense amount of struggle in his life, but he did not remain in a victim “woe is me” place. He picked himself back up when he fell, he recognized the strength he could gain if he allowed himself to, and he continued moving forward carrying the good from those struggles and leaving behind the bad. That much is obvious thus far, and it’s beautiful. I’m a fan already.

I think the most significant part of the words I’ve read up to this point is a sentence in which David calls himself “a trophy of God’s grace”. That floors me. Not because I don’t agree or don’t understand how he could see himself in such a positive light- I absolutely agree and am so happy to know that he sees himself in the wonderful, beautiful light that he should see himself in. But what takes me aback from that is knowing that others don’t see that… many would have a very difficult time seeing themselves as anything of that positive caliber if they were to be in his shoes, and many even look down upon him and people like him as if they are less than valuable because of their differences. Yet not only is he able to see himself with such beauty, but he’s actually grateful to God for his life. He’s thankful when so many others would be focusing on what they wish they had or didn’t have. He believes God has blessed him and given him grace when so many others would believe God had forsaken them. This man has strength, resilience, and a love for life that many of the most seemingly “perfect” people in the world only dream about and continuously strive for in the wrong ways that only consistently leave them empty-handed… I’d say he’s pretty on point… he is very blessed.

Something else this story brings to mind for me is that while he undoubtedly has experienced physical pain, I’m also quite certain that much of his pain and struggle in life has come from the fact that he’s “different” and, therefore, encountered many difficulties with others that made living within his differences much harder and more painful than it ever should have been. The fact that anyone ever thinks they should have to feel embarrassed or ashamed if they are different in any seemingly significant way, such as with a limp, or a different size/shape of a body or body part, different ways of speaking or learning, different clothing or ways of living, etc., just blows me away. These differences are precisely what make each and every one of us beautiful! This man, David Ring, wouldn’t be the incredible, inspiring, funny, strong, motivating, insightful, wise, resilient, impactful “trophy of God’s grace” if he didn’t have cerebral palsy. I’m sure he would still be a great person without it, and I’m not saying that cerebral palsy is something that people should strive to acquire, as clearly it does incorporate many other struggles with it that have nothing to do with the social impact it has on life. But I am saying that the very difference in this man that many people might feel should be a source of insecurity and even shame is the very trait of him that has contributed majorly to him being the incredible person he is and reaching the people he reaches with his story and example.

Our differences only matter in whatever way we allow them to. They are only something to be ashamed of if we allow ourselves to think they should be.

So what if anyone else has something different to say about it? I’m sure David has had plenty of people along his journey who have believed that he was less worthy or valuable in some way and expressed those thoughts to him. And I’m sure that at times he allowed those opinions to get to him and make him feel badly. But what I’m also sure about is that he did not remain in that negative space and allow those thoughts to seep into his innermost core and become a part of his belief system or hinder his progress in moving forward to becoming the great man he was meant to be. Instead, he realized that those people’s opinions don’t ultimately matter as long as he knows how wonderful and amazing he is and he believes in that. And by taking on that strength within himself, David not only helped himself back up from potentially debilitating mindsets and experiences, but he showed others that it can be done and, as a result, empowered them to do the same for themselves.

It’s a really beautiful thing… by choosing to love ourselves, not only are we making our own experience in life more pleasant and enjoyable, but we’re empowering others to do the same for themselves, and we’re setting an example for them to see the beauty in the differences all around us, rather than to condemn and judge it with negativity.  Loving ourselves and loving others is the most powerful purpose we can have in this life! It manifests in different ways for each of us according to our different talents, passions, etc., but ultimately, if loving ourselves and others is what makes the foundation of what we’re doing, it will have a powerful effect on our life and the life of others around us. David Ring is a prime example of that and he knows it, which is why he loves his life so much, despite all of the immense struggles, and calls himself “a trophy of God’s grace”… because he truly is! We all are. We just have to believe it. ❤

Light It Up

My experience leading up to 2016 has been interesting, to say the least. The truth is, until about 2013 I didn’t have a clue who I truly was. 2008-2010 were some pretty difficult years, but 2011-2012 most definitely take the cake. They were two of the most difficult years of my life, but they were also the most key to my motivation to make positive changes. 2013 was a majorly positive step forward, but 2014 was absolutely my golden year. This was the year that I felt like I’d truly come home to me… I’d spent some quality time with myself, getting to know who I truly was, what I truly valued, and developing boundaries that I’d never had before that allowed me to maintain these values with strength, grace, and love. I’d been a major people-pleaser all my life and I always carried that with pride because I felt like it was noble. What I didn’t realize until 2012 was that people-pleasing doesn’t help others as much as it enables them, and if one does not take the time to set boundaries and focus on self-care, it will ultimately wear them out and they’ll be of no use to anyone anymore. I realized that developing my own strength took “selfishness” at times but was ultimately not selfish, but a means to better help and inspire others. I once believed that sitting with people in the dark hole they were in was the way to help them, but I eventually came to the realization that if I allowed myself to, I could instead provide a light, and that because I was strong I could then help to lift those people up out of that hole.

 

I began a journey of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness that was so empowering and uplifting, I couldn’t help but begin sharing it with those around me. I’d found my faith the year prior and was finally feeling comfortable in living it out loud, I’d found the plant-based lifestyle that healed me in so many ways that I can’t even express enough gratitude for, and the company I was keeping around me was being weaned of the toxic relationships and filled with the most beautiful, inspirational, positive company a girl could ask for. The people in my life were inspired and intrigued and I was met with an abundance of support along the way. I was excited for what was to come and so enjoying watching the pieces of my life puzzle finally begin to fall into place in a way that truly felt right. Authenticity was absolutely the most key aspect of this year and the flow that came from it.

 

When 2015 rolled around, I couldn’t have been more ready and excited for it. I knew it would be a great year and life would simply continue to blossom into the most beautiful adventure that I could not wait to explore.

 

It certainly was an adventure, but it wasn’t at all what I expected or wanted.

 

I’d begun to experience some push-back from the lifestyle I’d chosen to live, especially in regards to my faith and my vegan choices. While the people around me were initially excited and intrigued by my new lifestyle and experiences, I began to realize that the way I’d chosen to live my life was beginning to impose a sense of guilt upon those around me who didn’t feel capable of making the choices I’d made for myself, or simply didn’t agree with my approach and didn’t appreciate being confronted with a different way. Although I’d always done my best to never push my believes or values on others, sometimes the simple act of sharing those different opinions openly is enough to create a defensive reaction in someone who doesn’t want to be wrong. As a former people-pleaser, the very last thing I wanted was to make anybody feel badly. I begun to feel a sense of my own guilt and, as a result, questioning. I started to question whether or not what I was doing in my life was truly right or worth the effort to do when it seemed to be so controversial at times, and I questioned whether or not sharing it so openly was a good idea. Maybe I was meant to keep it more to myself if I wanted to stay on the path I was on.
I began to diminish myself in order to make those around me who didn’t feel as great in their own lives feel better, and I began to downplay the importance of making better decisions in my own lifestyle. Simply put- I started settling. It was a subconscious choice I’d made from the simply fact that I wanted to make the people around me happy and I wanted to make sure I was keeping an open mind to their opinions, rather than holding tightly to my own… I didn’t want to seem stubborn or arrogant. And while keeping an open mind and continuously learning is a beautiful thing, the truth is that I was absorbing the opinions of others for the sake of avoiding conflict and shrinking to meet their lower self esteem, and that is it beautiful nor is it healthy. In order to help others, we must maintain our own strength, have confidence in our authentic beauty, and remain a bright light for them as guidance for when they’re ready to take our hand and be helped up. Shrinking so others won’t feel intimidated or convicted to address their own issues and poor choices doesn’t help anyone- it only leaves you stuck in the same hole they’re wanting to get out of.

 

This was the lesson I learned in 2015. The pieces of my life puzzle were 100% out of sync as I moved through the year and so much went “wrong” I can’t even begin to explain it all. But what I can say is that I see that it was my own responsibility, and I’ve prepared myself to take on the task of creating a better 2016 than what would be if I were to simply remain stagnant with my fingers crossed that change would fall into my lap. I don’t and won’t feel guilty for it, as that’s not helpful either, but I will recognize my mistakes, face them, take responsibility, and do what I know I need to do in order to address them and move forward with strength and grace, rather than remaining in a place of guilt and self-pity for whatever may have gone “wrong”.

 

I think a lot of times we can fall into traps in life, one of which being the trap of lies that others tell us and we tell ourselves. Lies that we’re doing something wrong, when we truly believe and know in our hearts that what we’re doing is right, even if that means it’s only right for this moment in time and that that might change in the future, and even if we can’t explain why any of that is. We also lie to ourselves when we guilt ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made or wrong turns we’ve taken, as we tend to create negative thoughts that lead to poor self-confidence and in turn limit our future potential. We are capable of more than that. It’s not only meant for the “special people”, but it’s something that’s available to all of us if we’d only give ourselves permission to see it, and open our hearts and our arms to receive it.

 

2016 will be an amazing year not because it is some magical number for me, or because I expect to stumble upon some “deserved” good luck, but because I am brave enough to face what needs to be faced in order to make it one, strong enough to put in the effort to do so, and faithful enough to know that God honor my efforts and create opportunities for me along the way that I couldn’t possibly foresee or anticipate now. This year is going put 2014’s amazingness to shame, because I was blessed to see how easily years like 2014 can be effected by losing sight of my authenticity and catering to the opinions of others versus my own true values, and I’m too strong now to let that happen again.

 

Bring it on, new year. I’m ready for you and so excited to light you up!!
  

And Also With You

The search for peace can be a hard road… but a hard road in which one will be grateful for, even and especially for the difficulties that arise along the way, if one continues searching with an open mind and an open heart.

I was searching for peace in a troubling situation recently, and there was a good bit of time that I questioned the entire process. I didn’t understand why the peace was not already there, as I was questioning the “why” of a really heart-breaking occurrence. I couldn’t understand why this was even happening, and when I considered the idea that there would be an ultimately good reasoning behind i,t I then questioned why that reasoning couldn’t be obvious from the beginning… why did I have to go through all of this pain in order to figure it out? It was the first time in a really long time that I truly felt hope wasn’t even possible, and because of that I was hurting and confused…

But what was important was that I wasn’t giving up in my search for peace.

Truthfully, I was in so much pain that I felt like I couldn’t give up, because I simply couldn’t accept the idea that I had to live with this pain inside me forever. I love God and I know God, so one thing I was able to know and believe with confidence was that pain is not what God wants or intends, so I knew that while He’s allowing me to experience right now for a reason I can’t comprehend at the moment, there ultimately had to be something there that He’d allow me to find in order to authentically address and move forward from this particular situation. I didn’t understand how that would happen or when, but I held onto the hope that it would and simply continued to move forward in my day and in my coping process however I felt lead in my heart to move forward, baby step by baby step.

As my day went on, I was lead to finding one brick of my foundation of peace, and then another. I journaled here and there as revelations came to my mind, and I listened to music that spoke to me. Other times I sat in silence overlooking the horizon and contemplated life quietly. And throughout it all, I was ultimately lead to unexpected circumstances that I couldn’t have anticipated if I’d tried, which spoke to me in ways I could have never imagined prior to experiencing them. And slowly, but surely, my heart began to mend.

I wanted to share that story.

 

I was at the park really sitting still in silence, just trying to rest from the turmoil I’d been experiencing all day prior and doing my best to be open to peace coming into my heart. Up until this point, I’d begun to feet calmer, but I didn’t feel peace. I was just about to pack my things and leave, accepting what was/wasn’t for the moment and agreeing to turn in for the night and possibly try again tomorrow, when I saw a set of dolphins swimming joyfully in the bay. I ran across the seawall to try to catch up with them and caught the tail end (punny) of their playtime just as I reached the edge where they were. I was grateful for the unexpected distraction and opportunity for me to simply enjoy some of God’s beautiful artwork, even in the midst of an emotional storm.

I turned away and began walking back to the spot I’d claimed for the evening, and that’s when I saw feet sticking out of some bushes. My initial reaction was to assume this was a homeless person sleeping and to keep walking, as this is unfortunately not something unusual to be seen around town and I know they typically do not appreciate being disturbed, even by a well-intentioned citizen wanting to simply check up on them. But then I had to consider the idea that maybe this was a person who needed help, and that I should check on them. I carefully tiptoed closer in order to get a better look, and when I did, I saw that this person seemed to be curled comfortably within these bushes, with a bag beneath their head as a pillow. It appeared clear to me that this person had turned in for the evening for a rest within nature on a beautiful night, and I certainly didn’t want to disturb him. He honestly looked peaceful. So I continued my walk back.

As I walked, I contemplated what I’d just seen… I felt sorry for the man who saw sleeping outside as their best option for the night. But then I felt happy for him that he did have such a beautiful option for rest. I mean, here he is, resting on a beautiful evening within a beautiful, very peaceful, and fairly secluded park on the water, residing in the paradise location that is St. Petersburg, Florida. I was happy for him to have that blessing of an alternative to the standard four walls and a roof.
But as I continued walking, I thought about how badly I wished I had something to give this person. I’d bought myself veggie sushi along the way out to this park on my bike, but I’d already eaten it, as well as drank the water I’d brought. I had no cash, no food, and no water to give. I felt as though I had nothing to offer, and that pained me because here I was seeing someone in need right in front of me, and I didn’t feel equipped to do anything to help. I felt terrible about it, and I began to question why… “Why, God, did you allow me to eat that sushi? Why didn’t you suppress my appetite? Why didn’t you show me this man earlier before I’d eaten it? Why didn’t you inspire me to buy extra food like you’ve done before? Why would this happen this way, it doesn’t make any sense to me?”
I wasn’t angry with God, but I most certainly was confused and a bit frustrated about it. But, as I continued walking, my mind brought me to realizing, after racking my brain, that I did have something to give- I had a pen and some paper from my journal. If anything, I could write this man something loving and kind that might start his tomorrow off with a blessing, and hopefully bring him toward more gratitude, happiness, and joy in his day after he wakes to it. I figured if I couldn’t feed his stomach, I’d do what I could to feed his heart and soul by bringing him some positivity and encouragement, at the very least. Maybe he’d resent the unwarranted positivity it and throw it away, or maybe he’d love and appreciate it as it makes his day more beautiful… there’s really no way for me to know the outcome, but I knew I felt called by my good, true heart to try. And so I did.

As I got back to my bag, I realized that within my journal, I actually had a blank card. I’d put it in there for the purposes of writing a thank you to a friend a few days prior, but I’d chosen to use a different card that day and the other was left in my bag untouched as a result. I decided this card was here at this time for a purpose, and that purpose was to be fulfilled here and now.

As I began to write, I realized I had no idea what I should or wanted to write… but I trusted my intentions and ability to bring love onto this paper and I simply let it flow. Before I knew it, I was writing front and back on this card a flow of words that I felt were being derived straight from the depths of my innermost heart’s, through the ink in that pen and onto the paper. I prayed the person reading these words would truly be able to feel the love that was flowing within them, and I felt good about it. It felt right.

As I placed the card in the envelope, I thought about how I had nothing to place within the envelope or next to it- no money, no food, no water… just love. Although I felt good about the words I’d written, knowing that at times, kind and uplifting words can mean more to us than food and water, I still felt the need or desire to let this man know that I wished I had more to give, and would have if I did. So I wrote within the envelope flap the words, “I didn’t have anything to give you but my love… I hope today that is enough,” signed with a heart. I prayed he would feel and absorb the intentions behind this card and the words inside and that it would impact his heart and his day, even his life, in a way that brings him to more peace… and as I prayed that prayer, walking away from the spot in which I left the card by sleeping beauty, I came to a realization of my own.

Had I had what might have been the obvious solution at the time- food and/or water and/or money- I likely would have never continued searching for more. I likely would have left one or all of those things, possibly including a brief, but much less thought out, letter along with it of encouragement and positivity. And not to discount that type of a gesture- it’s beautiful, kind, and would have been wonderful in itself- but I was lead to something more on this day that I think could provide something much more meaningful for this person than food may have been. Had I had the obvious solutions at the time I wanted them, I would not have been motivated or inspired to reach deeper down within myself for that something more…

And at that moment, I was grateful for God’s timing.

I was grateful to have not had all of the answers at the time I wanted them. I felt that the journey which brought me to the place of writing and leaving this letter was maybe a bit more difficult and more drawn out to travel, but it was so much better than I could have anticipated or understood on my own in the time I wanted to know it all. And it hit me, that that’s how He works. That’s how God works in us at all times.

We are human. And since we’re human, we couldn’t possibly understand His ways, His timing, or His reasons… and that’s how it’s meant to be. Because if we did, we would do it wrong. But when we allow Him to work without interference of our own, His ways are higher than ours and bring much more beautiful results than we could ever imagine prior to experiencing them. We simply have to trust… we have to have faith, and then simply follow His (sometimes subtle) lead.

This experience brought me to realizing that the peace I was searching for wasn’t there at the time I wanted it, because I was meant to travel this journey. Not only was I meant to travel this journey for the man in the park, but I was meant to travel it for my own sake and for the sake of those who are impacted by the lessons I’ve learned, the strength I’ve gained, and the ways in which the Lord brings me to sharing it all. He didn’t cause the pain I was in, but He allowed me to experience it, rather than removing it how and when I prayed He would, because He knew that had He removed it then, I would have never been motivated and inspired to find my way to the true peace, strength, and blessings I found myself in as a result of that difficult road. I understand the difficult situation I was in much better now, and I have more than I could have dreamed as a result of the journey I traveled to finding it, and I’m grateful for it all… for the struggles, for the pain, and for the beauty that exists within every bit of it.

The journey to peace can be a struggle. It can be hard, painful, scary, and confusing, and no one truly enjoys those things when they’re happening. But what we can do is we can hold onto the hope, that one day we will better understand, and one day the peace will come… but we must have faith in the fact that although we cannot anticipate or control how/when/why, God can, and His ways are better than ours. And that everything will ultimately, always, be okay.

He takes care. Always and forever. Because He loves us. And because love exists, I cannot believe anything other than that there is hope and there is good, in any and all things. God is good.

Pat

As I was entering the airplane with 3 of my friends by my side, we each sought out the few available seats left because it was pick-your-own-seating and we were of the last group to board. I made my way toward the back and immediately noticed a man sitting in a window seat with two spots open next to him. For some reason, he really struck me and I felt drawn to taking my place by him. I asked him if he’d mind my friend and me accompanying his trip and he gladly agreed that it would be fine.

I made myself comfortable in what I know most would say is the most uncomfortable spot on the plane – the middle seat – but the way I see it, sitting in the middle seat only gives me more travel companions! There’s just something magical about knowing that each and every person on this plane is headed somewhere that means something different to them, be it work, vacation, something scary and exciting, or something awfully tragic… just so many different stories and walks of life coming together on the same craft. It really just leaves me in awe and wonder to know that we could have each chosen different paths, yet we’re here, together, heading in the same direction at the same time and I welcome the opportunity to know more about my companions along the way.

Needless to say, I was excited to know more about this man who I had somehow felt drawn to immediately upon arrival. I was quickly pleased with my seating choice.

After opening the conversation gently by introducing myself and my friend and asking his name, Pat playfully commented that he’d never had such a beautiful travel neighbor. I laughed, and maybe even blushed a bit, before I told him that he could stay and that he was officially my kindest travel neighbor so far. He smiled so genuinely, I could tell we were going to have a great flight.

As we moved through the air, Pat and I moved through conversation. I told him that I was headed to Las Vegas for work and he told me of his experiences on the strip. We compared notes and I silently thanked God for not sending me to the strip this time around. We were on the first flight of two toward Las Vegas and this first leg was flying to Kansas City. It wasn’t until about 5 minutes in that I had the opportunity to ask him why he was headed in that direction, but that’s where our conversation took it’s most significant turn.

Pat, at a mere 74 years of age, was headed to his daughter’s funeral.

My heart dropped… past the floor of the plane and plummeting straight toward the ground thousands of feet below. It absolutely broke for him and for his family. Knowing that he was having to bury his daughter – someone who he loves dearly and had expected to outlive him – left me without any words to offer but a simple and humble, “I’m so sorry for your loss”.

I mean really, what does one even say in a time like that?

But beyond the shock of hearing that he was having to experience a parent’s worst nightmare, what was so interesting to me was the way in which I couldn’t have even begun to anticipate where he was in his life upon meeting him. There was absolutely, 100%, zero indication that his heart was bearing such a heavy burden upon meeting this delightful, flirty, and seemingly cheerful man. Whether he was hiding the pain intentionally or not was irrelevant, because what I stuck out to me more was the fact that it was for any reason so undetectable, even by someone as typically perceptive and sensitive as myself. It blew me away and really brought me to facing a reality that I know well, but which is so easy to forget…

We can never, ever, assume that we know what’s going on in someone’s life or heart.


Pat and I sat there and chatted for the remainder of our flight. Some of the conversation was filled with being on the verge of tears, although the waterworks never quite reached their full potential because Pat was clearly keeping his emotions at bay and I, therefore, felt a responsibility to maintain my own composure for his sake (even though I wanted to cry and hug him at least 12 times), but then other parts of it were simply joyful and full of laughter. I did my best to remain in the present moment as we spoke, but I couldn’t help continuously coming back to the amazement of the fact that he was maintaining his composure so well in a time when a show of complete and utter devastation would have been more than understandable.

And how many times do we make the assumption that we know? How many times do we experience a person’s demeanor, or even hear part of their story, and assume that we know their story well enough to judge them in either a positive or negative way? We assume that the person who was rude to us must be a terrible person, or that the person who was kind must have a wonderful life. Very rarely do we consider the idea that those who are rude to us more than likely have experienced pain or insecurities of their own that bring them to that defensive, and at times offensive, place in which they hurt others in order to keep their protective walls up. Equally as rarely do we consider the idea that most of the people who are so kind and lovely are that way because they have experienced pain and struggle that they have moved past and processed in a way that has allowed them to see the world through a more compassionate, loving, and grateful way. Maybe the confidence that we mistakenly see as arrogance is truly a show of strength that these people have worked to acquire from a formerly insecure and timid place.

The point that I’m hoping to make in sharing this story is that we never know… and it’s not that we must always dig to find the deepest, most meaningful aspects of every person’s story, because there’s also something significant to be said for respecting a person’s privacy. But what I think we could all benefit from trying a little harder to do is to simply remember that we don’t know, don’t understand, and can’t assume anything.

So, if we must assume anything, assume the good. Assume the compassionate. Assume the love. Because in my opinion, if you give others the benefit of the doubt, they will rise to the occasion, and if you give them doubt, they will lower to that.

I’m grateful for Pat and the experience I had in getting to know him. He’s an incredible person with an incredible story, and I’ll never forget the lesson he taught me- we can be going through the world’s roughest storms, and we really don’t have any control over it. But what we do have control over is the way we react to those storms, in which case we can choose dwelling in pain or choosing to begin healing. He also taught me that every book of every cover is worth reading if you have the chance… you never really know how one’s story can impact you until you give it a good page turn.

*Thank you for sharing the love of your heart and of your family, Pat. Prayers go out to you and your sweet daughter in Heaven.*

Alignment

I’m in the mood to create today… I haven’t quite felt the calling for creation in some time, but man is it screaming my name today! Part of this is certainly coming from feeling such inspiration in different ways from all of the various experiences I’ve had, both positive and negative, but I think a big part of it is also coming from a lack of personal time and a feeling of misalignment that I feel creativity can help to bring back into balance.

I am a person who loves adventure and loves exploring new places and new people, but I don’t feel the need or desire to do that in a big, bold way at all times. I don’t think adventure only lies within hiking, jumping off of cliffs, cave diving, sky diving, etc. because while I absolutely do love all of those things, I also see adventure within the bravery to do any new things that excite, scare, and challenge you, whether they are big and bold or small and quiet. The adventure is especially amplified when we opt to do them alone. To be vulnerable enough to really, truly open ourselves up along the way, as well as to live in such authentic love that we encourage and ask others to do the same, is an adventure that does not receive as much attention and praise as bungee jumping might warrant; but it most certainly is a beautiful way to explore and experience life, in my opinion, and that is the type of adventure I most often seek.

Now, this isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with adventuring in big, bold ways all the time. It’s just that that’s not how I personally prefer to go about my exploration of this world and this life. I love to have many of those quieter moments along the way, because those are the moments that allow me to truly absorb anything that I’ve experienced thus far, and it’s within those moments that I most often find my inner fire to bring these experiences to life in a creative way. They allow me to reflect on it all and find the most sincere gratitude for the experiences, to get to know myself better in a way I may not have acknowledged before, and to get to know the world and others on a deeper level by really stepping back and taking in the unique beauty that I learn from and see in them. Those moments realign me with me at my innermost core. And maybe it’s the artist in me, maybe it’s simply a homebody that exists within me in conjunction with my gypsy soul, but it does exist and I have to honor it or I begin feeling the disconnect and craving alignment more than I’d crave water in a desert.

I think it’s important to truly know ourselves- what we want, what we value, what we need. I’ve definitely put a significant amount of effort into getting to know my authentic heart, but I’m a Pisces and we are mysterious little beings… even I don’t fully understand myself yet! 😉 So it really is a constant journey of unraveling the layers, and the recent traveling that I’ve embarked on has done quite a bit of tugging. It’s difficult at times, especially when we feel like we’ve already made it to the core of ourselves and realize, “Oh! There it is… mountains more of unraveling has begun.” You really have to acknowledge it, brace yourself, and then dive right in.

And that is exactly what I’m doing. I’m diving head-first into this adventure and sooo looking forward to absorbing the experiences and sharing them in whatever awesome, amazing way God calls me to share them. Today, that way calls for some creavity and probably a lot of mess… can’t wait!

Geronimo

My journey so far has been interesting… it’s been interesting in a way that is so very different from anything I’d anticipated before embarking on it and I think that’s what has made it slightly difficult to verbalize or write about. I’ve been feeling out very different and unexpected situations involving adversity and negativity, exhaustion, unexpectedly limited resources, and suddenly changed plans. While traveling around in the country has been so much fun and so inspiring, it has also had its moments that felt slightly miserable and very disheartening. I really think I’ve felt all the range of emotions available to the human heart in a brief two weeks in time, and while it has been difficult to know how to verbalize what it was that I was experiencing or feeling, as I was still in the midst of processing it all myself as I went, the truth is that I ultimately did truly appreciate every bit of it, both in those disheartening moments as well as after they’d passed.

The primary aspect of this journey that I appreciate more than anything else is the truth of experiencing this journey as it is, rather than as it “should be” or even how I wish it would be… because really, that’s how life in and of itself goes. In a major way, the travel journey I’m on has been very reflective of my life journey in general. I’m currently traveling throughout different states with a general purpose in mind that I am very focused on, but also with my spirit free for flying, enjoying, and expploring. That very much speaks to the way in which I’ve been living my life. Because while I most definitely had my own ideas as to how this whole thing was going to pan out for me regarding the types of situations, people, and opportunities I would ecounter, the truth is that we can never really control what is meant to come our way, can we? We can do our best to develop our dreams and ideas, maintain motivation and focus on them, and intentionally pursue them to the best of our abilities, but ultimately what comes our way is not up to us- that’s all up to God.

And I think that’s beautiful.

Because I don’t know about anyone else, but I personally don’t want that kind of responsibility on my shoulders. I’m happy to have that weight of having to control everything lifted from my shoulders so that I can be free to explore and experience this life in a happy, joyous, authentic way. No anxiety over what’s going to happen, because I can rest assured knowing that I’m doing my very best and whatever is meant to come to me will come to me. If I’m giving my all and something does not come my way, I know it was not meant to be in my life and I’m grateful for the fact that it’s not taking up time, space, or energy by being forced to exist for me. If I’m not giving my all, I can simply forgive myself for being lazy, acknowledge it, and then do whatever I can to do better moving forward, even if that means taking baby steps.

The point is this: nothing is really entirely in my control, and not only am I okay with it, but I am grateful for it. Because I’m lighter for it. I can walk lighter knowing that I don’t have the weight of my world sitting on my shoulders.

In fact, we can all walk lighter that way because the same applies to each and every person. The only difference is that we tend to lock ourselves into a weight-bearing, heavy prison via our mindset in which we don’t allow ourselves to move freely. For some reason, we feel like we’re supposed to feel weighed down… almost like if we aren’t carrying an unbearable amount of weight, responsibility, and pain in our lives, we aren’t doing it right. And that’s simply not the case. In fact, I beg to differ that if we would actually allow ourselves to live lighter, we free ourselves to do more to impact the world in a beautiful and significant way. Because, let’s be honest… is it more efficient to run into the water to save a drowning person with a 50 pound weight tied to our soulders, or to run in with our weight lifted and arms free to focus on holding the light and inflatable raft?

You don’t have to agree with me- that’s fine. But personally, I’d prefer to be as weightless as possible. I’m running in weight-free, ready to explore, adventure, enjoy, and save lives. 😉 Here goes something! Geronimoooooo

Secrets of the People Pleaser

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that is far too important to be a secret. It’s something that I’ve come to learn from my own personal experiences, as well as from observing the experiences that others like me have had, and have found to be one of the most significant aspects of my journey.

You see, so many of us fall under the category of “people-pleasers”. We want to avoid conflict at all costs, even if it means sacrificing our own well-being in the process. We want everyone, or at the very least the majority of people, to be happy in regards to the decisions we make, so we tend to become chameleons when it comes to our “opinions”. Our choices are constantly changing with the tides of who we’re around and the circumstances we’re in. And while there’s certainly some benefit to flexibility and the openness to compromise, people-pleasers take it 5 steps further, to a place that ultimately does more harm than good.

As people-pleasers, we strive so desperately to appeal to those around us that we often wind up losing ourselves in the process. We quite literally forget to acknowledge our own needs and desires because we’re so focused on what everyone else wants, and for many of us who have embodied this characteristic for the majority of our life, we have all but entirely lost the ability to know what our own needs and desires actually are anymore. Because our preferences have been molded to fit the preferences of those we love most, and even those we barely know, our identity lies with “whatever everyone else wants”, rather than with who we truly are. For those of us who have lost ourselves to this extent, we can barely say we truly even know ourselves with much honesty; although most of us won’t allow ourselves to face that harsh reality too closely before convincing ourselves once again that “this is who we are” because making people happy is our identity, and we feel a sense of nobility about it, even if we see the unhealthy marks of this type of behavior.

As mentioned before in regards to flexibility, there is absolutely benefit to wanting others to be happy and doing our best to play a role in facilitating that happiness; however, people-pleasers take it much further, and the truth (and secret) is that it doesn’t ultimately benefit others the way we think it does. So in honor of the journey I’ve faced myself and the gratitude I have for the people and situations that have come to me along the way to help me find my true identity in this world, I’m here to shed some light on the reality of the situation.

What no one ever told you about people-pleasing is that it’s not the magical fix-all conflict avoider that we want to believe it is.

First of all, it is literally impossible to please everyone. Every person in this world is different, with different upbringings, different experiences, different mindsets, different cultures, different physiological makeups, and simply different personalities and tastes. There’s absolutely, hand-down, 100% no way possible in the world that any person can appeal to every person they encounter. Knowing this doesn’t give us any reason or right to completely disregard the feelings of others, but it does force us to accept that there are always going to be opposers… even Ghandi had opposers! Many think he was crazy, an extremist, fake, etc., but many also deeply appreciated his teachings and the example he lead in a peaceful life. That’s just how life goes. But Ghandi did not adjust his behavior and his choices in order to mold to the preferences of those who might opposed him. While he had great respect for the feelings and differing beliefs of others and was open to learning differently than what he already knew (again, benefit to the flexibility), he ultimately did the work to truly know his own beliefs, needs, and desires, and he remained strong and true to them to the best of his abilities. Had he changed his mind according to his surroundings, he would have never had the opportunity to impact the world the way he did with his authenticity. Likewise, when we adjust our preferences and choices according to others, we are ultimately robbing the world of benefitting from the beauty of our authenticity that we may not have even given ourselves the opportunity to know exists…. which leads me to my next point.

The second aspect of people-pleasing that I’d like to point out is harmful is the way in which it breeds resentment within us, which is harmful for both ourselves as well as for those we encounter. When we focus on people-pleasing, rather than on simply growing within our own authentic selves and becoming the best, most genuinely loving version of ourselves possible, we are subconsciously setting ourselves up for disappointment, as there are so many in the world who do not operate in that way and for people as sensitive to feelings as people-pleasers are, that can be very hurtful to experience. Over time, the negative feelings towards those other people cumulate and it can be hard to let go of the sadness, fear of disappointment, or even anger that develops. This is because while the people-pleasing is coming from a good place – wanting to make others happy – the truth is that there is some selfishness in there because people-pleasers are typically seeking approval from those they’re pleasing, whether they realize it or not. We’re seeking praise or thanks, or at the very least an avoidance of conflict, and if those expectations are not met despite our self-sacrificing efforts, we can feel confused and even upset or angry at the outcome of our circumstances. And because we know that we’ve done all that we can to make the other party happy, we assume that any misalignment that still exists must be the result of the other party’s lack of love/effort/care, and our feelings are hurt for it. Not only that, but because we are self-sacrificing to such an extreme extent, when our efforts are not met with the praise, appreciation, or care that we were hoping for or expecting, we are left feeling depleted from all that we’ve given and battered from the hurt we’ve experienced, with no one there to take care of us the way we have taken care of others. This is a very sad and lonely place to be, and it only fuels the resentment that has begun to build from the situation that got us here in the first place. And for the most part, no one will know or understand how to fix it, because ultimately this was our own undoing.

So what’s a people-pleaser to do? Welp, I’ll tell you! Again, this is simply from my own experience. I don’t claim or assume to know everything; I simply know what I’ve experienced and how I’ve moved forward from it. This is my attempt to share that with you, but I understand that we’re all different and others may have a different path to follow that’s more beneficial for them… I simply hope whatever path each person takes leads to true happiness and satisfaction in life. But, for me, these were my steps.

1. Learn to accept that you can’t please everyone.

As I mentioned before, this doesn’t mean we need to turn into selfish, disrespectful jerks that are constantly doing rude things and yelling, “I do what I want!” as we run away with our prize. It simply means that we do our best to remain respectful of those around us, just as we would if we were to visit another person’s home or another country that encompassed a different culture and different belief systems, but we do not need to absorb their preferences as our own. There is a balance to it all, and finding the respectful, caring way to maintain your own beliefs while allowing others to have theirs, and occasionally finding the compromise between the two, is a beautiful thing.

2. Learn to get to know who you truly are – what you like, what you want, what you need, what you believe – and love it.

Take some time for yourself! It may feel selfish at first, but the truth is that you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Depleting yourself of all that you have to give and losing yourself leaves you with little to nothing of real substance to give those you love and the world around you. So look at it as an investment for others and allow yourself some quality time with yourself. Discover hobbies that you enjoy because YOU like them, rather than those that you enjoy because others enjoy them. Discover what truly makes you tick and acknowledge what you need in your life to help you develop into the best version of yourself possible. Not only is this okay, but it’s so incredibly crucial to your purpose here in this life. Allow yourself and others to experience that beauty.

3. Learn to see words like “strong”, “confident”, “independent”, and even “determined” as compliments, not insults.

As a former people-pleaser, I can relate to the icky feeling that resides in our guts when we hear words like that after always identifying endearingly with words like, “sweet”, “too nice”, “shy”, and even “naive”. We accept these words as compliments because we see them as examples of our kindness and loving hearts. When we’re told that we need to have a backbone or we should stop being so nice when someone is cruel to us, we take pride in the words because they show the world just how much we selflessly give others, and again, we feel noble for it. Especially as women, we feel the need to be weaker so that the men can feel stronger in protecting and taking care of us. If we’re too strong, we feel as though we may have lost our feminine quality. That’s not the case. There is nothing wrong with having a kind, giving, selfless heart, and in fact there is everything right with it! But there is always a balance to be found that can be much more beneficial than residing on the side of either extremes, and finding a place in which we begin receiving words like “strong” and “independent” as compliments that we hold just as dearly as “sweet” and “kind” is where we will ultimately find the most freedom.

In order to change the world for the better, we must allow our authenticity to shine through brightly… otherwise, we’re simply conforming to the world, whether it changes for the better or for the worst. Going with the flow in that kind of way is self-destructive and does not ultimately help those we love. The people we care for need us to know our value so that we can be stronger in supporting them in their moments of weakness and lifting others up to do the same. Think of it as adopting a healthy lifestyle… we can skate through life consuming everything that’s put in front of us, so as not to offend anyone, but we will ultimately become ill and weakened from it and the burden will be placed on the very people we wish not to burden as they are forced to take care of the neglect we had on ourselves throughout the years. But we can choose better. We can learn to take better care of ourselves by consuming the proper diet and nutrition as well as maintaining exercise to be strong, which allows us to be of much more use to those we encounter. We’re stronger, healthier, happier, more vibrant, and much more truly present in the moments they need us most.

But it’s all up to us, as we can’t ever change anyone else. We must choose to take care of others by first taking care of ourselves – and that’s the secret. That’s the truth to people-pleasing that no one ever told you. Take it and fly, my independent, strong, kind, loving, sweet, confident, selfless, determined, caring babies! Go sprinkle that authentic fairy dust all over this world, will ya? 😉
  

Letter To A Friend

I recently wrote this letter to a friend. But after rereading it, I realized that while I truly meant every word to be specifically written for that friend, if I changed around some of the wording and replaced the names it became something that I think many of us could find something valuable in, in some way. So I thought I’d share it, in hopes that it speaks to each of its readers in the precise way that they need to hear it. Because you deserve all of the love you desire in the world, because you’re wonderful too.

Dear Friend,

I want you to know something that I’ve noticed about you, because I think it’s important to be aware of these things. I know it can be hard to face at times, especially when you’re surrounded by the types of people and situations that are currently a very big part of your life, but still, it’s important. Please receive what I’m about to tell you with an open mind and an open heart, and know that I have nothing but the best of intentions in bringing this to your attention.

Friend…

you are…

an amazing person.

You have such a beautiful heart that I don’t think you realize is quite as beautiful as it is. I know that you struggle at times with the “falls” in life, but you know what I see about those falls? I see that you care that you fell. The fact that you even care that you fall, and the heaviness that you feel in wanting to get back up and do better in the future is not a heart that’s like those who you’re surrounded by and I know are afraid of becoming like. I know you know that your heart is different from theirs, but I just don’t think you see quite how different it is. That conviction you feel in your heart is unique and so special. It’s the beauty of God’s light shining through you, and His Spirit speaking to you in order to guide you in the right direction. The fact that you feel that is incredible, and the fact that you care so deeply about it is an anomaly.

You are an incredible person.

You are not defined by those past mistakes that you’ve made. None of them matter as far as who you are today goes, aside from the past role they played in breaking you down and providing you with an opportunity to build back up to a stronger, wiser, more confident, more resilient, kinder, more loving, more vibrant version of you. And maybe there’s still some working through that needs to be done in regards to past mistakes that remain lingering in your heart, and that’s okay. You can do that. It’s never too late, and the mistakes never need to linger and provide any added weight to your journey as you move forward, because those mistakes you made are no longer your mistakes. They are your past’s mistakes, whether they were yesterday or 20 years ago, and you now have today in front of you. You were blessed with another day, which is huge because there are so many who are not given that blessing today. But you were, and that means that you still have purpose to pursue and fulfill. And that could mean purpose that manifests in a few years, or purpose that manifests now… we never do really know, do we? We can feel pulled toward fulfilling something great in the future, but we may be only given today to live purposefully. Either way, there’s something beautiful to pursue each day, and that’s enough to make me excited and full of gratitude when I wake up in the morning.

I know that you have great purpose on a daily basis.

In the way you speak, the way you treat others, and the way that you choose to shine God’s light to the world, you are fulfilling purpose. Remember that. And remember that that’s where your value lies. Your value is not in the job you work. Your value is not in the way that you look. It is not in the weight you think you may have gained or lost recently, nor is it in the money you have or the car you drive. Your value is not in any other worldly thing… your value is in your heart. Plain and simple. Pursuing finding value in any other form is to cater to something other than God. Because it’s the way that you allow your heart to shine and touch others that is the most valuable currency to exist, as it is the way that God made you, and that is ultimately the purpose he created you for. How many times in the Bible does it say that love- loving others, loving God, as well as respecting and loving yourself- is the most important thing? He gave you special gifts in many different ways so you could explore how you’re meant to share that light at various different times in your life, and that’s okay! That’s what he gave them to you for. EXPLORE THEM. But He most definitely never wants you to forget that the ways you do it are not where your actual value exists… it is what you share from deep in that heart of yours that is the most valuable. The love you give is what He cares about, and what He cares about is far more important than anything anyone else could think about you, even in regards to your family and friends.

I know that you know all of this. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new. You’re intelligent and wise and I’m well aware of that, so I hope you don’t think that I’m patronizing you in any way by sharing my thoughts here. I simply know that sometimes, we could all use a hug. No matter how strong our friends and family know us to be, a hug is always appreciated… it reminds us that we’re cared for, and worth caring for, because the truth is that we’re human and we can forget those things in our darker hours.

And this is my heart hug to you.

I really, truly, 100% believe that you are a special person who was put on this planet, at this time, with all of the array of gifts and talents that you have, and having experienced all of the trials and struggles you have, for a big, big purpose. You’re here to change the world, Friend. And while that may seem like a really heavy, slightly scary sentence to read, just know that it’s nothing of the sort. Because you can change the world simply by being you- the you that God created to be. Not the “you” that society wants you to be, or the “you” that your friends might want to be, or even the “you” that your family might like you to be. You’re meant to play a significant and unique role in this world as the real, true YOU, in all of your authentic glory. Sometimes it takes work to find our true authenticity, because we have been shaped by society and so many things, but it’s absolutely worth it. And after we do the work to shed all of those layers, nothing could be easier or more genuinely joyful than gliding through life by God’s hand and guidance, simply being who we are at the core of our heart in the Lord. I know because I’ve done it, and because I’ve done it myself I can see past your moldings and walls and see your heart for what it truly is underneath it all… and it’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful, and it will change the world.

I’m grateful to know you. You’re a beautiful soul with a beautiful heart and I look forward to seeing all of the incredible things you’ll do with it. Thank you for sharing a small piece of it with me. ❤

Looking forward to seeing your best role yet play out,
Audrey

Something that I’ve noticed along my journey is the need we often feel for obtaining approval and the immense amount of influence that has on the choices we make.

I was watching a movie the other day called, “Aloha”, starring Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, John Krasinski, and Emma Stone. It was a really good movie! I loved it. But there was a dynamic in there that I recognized all too well. It was a dynamic that showed when Bradley Cooper, who played Rachel McAdams’ ex boyfriend, showed up and began stirring the pot in her current marriage of 12 years with John Krasinski. How someone could come in to a marriage of that long and cause any sort of turmoil after not having been around for 13 years might boggle one’s mind, as one might expect the both of them to have moved on. But it was clear in the movie that Rachel McAdams had not moved on from the break up. She still had pent up frustration and felt as though she had things to get off her chest to Cooper. She was obviously looking for either closer, or reopening, but regardless of what it was she was going for, the fact is that it was coming from a place of still caring for, and still needing from Cooper.

This brings to light something I think we all have been able to relate to at some time or another- wanting even more what has hurt us the most. It’s sick, really, but it’s a truth of our existence that we must face if we’re ever truly going to move past it.

An example that I can relate to this is with my dog. He adores me and I adore him. It’s definitely a mutual love there, and I just wanted to make that clear. BUT… there have been times that I’ve hurt him. I either came home much later than anticipated and missed his normal dinner time, walking in to a very worried and very hungry pup. Or I have accidentally stepped on his tail, hit him while wailing my arms to talk per usual, or kicked him while walking and not realizing he was in the vicinity of my feet. So many times, so many hurts. And, yet, what does he do each and every time?

It’s almost as if he loves me more.

Seriously. Each and every time I’ve hurt my dog, he puts his tail between his legs (as if it was his fault, which breaks my heart even more), and cowers towards me, kissing my hand and wagging his tail quickly, though still holding it low tot he ground. It is the most pitiful thing I think I could ever experience and I typically spend the next 5 minutes apologizing, talking in a sweet voice to him, and giving him love to make sure he knows it was not his fault and mommy didn’t mean it! It’s really a sad scenario- you don’t ever want to witness it.

But the point to sharing that story is to more easily highlight the dynamic that exists- someone hurts us, and we wind up cowering towards those who hurt us, in hopes that we’ll receive that reassuring apology that it wasn’t our fault, they didn’t mean it, and they love us. We want to believe that the harm wasn’t actually meant for us and that we’re worth the love we desire… and because they person has taken that away, they seem to be the only person who can truly provide it. We feel like we need them to fix the mistake of whatever harm that was caused. If they don’t we may attempt to move forward and find that love and worth elsewhere, but ultimately, if the opportunity ever arises for us to get it straight from the original source, we want to take it. It really is quite sick. And if we don’t ever face this truth and do what’s necessary to work through it- truly work through it- we will be stuck in that circle.

The ways we can go about addressing this are not the easiest, but neither is living in an unhealthy, ultimately unhappy dynamic. Once we address these things, we can truly move forward and life really does run a whole lot more smoothly.

1.) First and foremost, we need to recognize it. It’s hard to look at these types of relationships straight in the face because we don’t want to see them as something we need to address and move on from… that’s the pull that we feel keeping us there, and it’s precisely what we’re trying to work through. So the first step is actually acknowledging that it needs to be worked through.

2.) The second step is finding and understanding our “why”. Why do we feel this way in this relationship? Why do we feel the need to be near this person and/or obtain approval/love/appreciation/worth from them? What happened to create this insecurity in us, and why have we allowed it to make us feel so insecure? Do they honestly, truly define our worth or are we putting power in hands that it doesn’t belong in?

3.) Once we’ve addressed that, we need to work on realizing where our worth comes from, which is from ourselves. We need to see and truly believe in our own worth before anyone else will ever be able to do so. We need to understand the strength that we truly do hold within our own selves, even if we’ve never allowed it to surface and be seen. We need to learn to love ourselves the way we want others to love us. If we can’t see it, how in the world can we ever expect someone else to?

4.) And then we need to do whatever needs to be done in order to leave this pain behind and move forward. Let go of it. Stop holding on. There is nothing to hold on but flames of something that doesn’t exist any longer, and it’s burning our hands. Let go, allow your charred hands to heal, and leave them open to receiving the healthy, happy love that we’re meant to hold within them. Do not close them off. That is the worst thing you can do for a burn, as it could very potentially mend the burn wounds together, making it hard and harder for you to ever open those fragile fingers back up again once you want to. Leave them open. Let them heal. And trust that the right love will come into them, in the right way, and the right time.

We don’t need these painful relationships, and we certainly don’t need the “closure” from them that we think we do… we can have closure, sure, but we typically place that power in the wrong hands. Closure ultimately does not come from anyone else but ourselves. At times, something that someone else says can trigger that feeling of relief and closure within our minds and hearts, but the very basic truth is that that’s where it lies- in our own minds and our own hearts. We can have that peace with or without the help of anyone else. It’s always been in our own hands and that’s where it will always be.

Rest easy, beautiful souls, and never let anyone have your worth in their hands. It doesn’t belong there and never did.