You Can Make a Difference

People will hurt you.

But always remember: two wrongs don’t make a right.

I remind myself of this golden rule countless times throughout the week. I don’t know about you but I find myself frequently feeling disappointed or sensitive towards the actions of the people around me. It is not because I think I am perfect or that I believe I always do right. I know I don’t. I think it is more because I am very observant and aware of how the decisions and behaviors of one person can affect another human being.

Whether we intend to or not; people do hurt people. This is a concept I have never really understood. Why do we hurt people… especially the ones we love? There is so much hurt that already exists in this world. Couldn’t we just be a little more careful about protecting one another? That is something I continuously hope for. When I say my prayers I ask God to help the people in this world to find more kindness, peace and love. I think the world would be a much better place if people focused more on positive actions.

However, as well all know, we only have control of one person; and that is you. This brings me to another point; I have heard people say “one person cannot make a difference.” I call bullshit on that one. I know that one person can make all the difference. It can take one act of kindness to turn around someone’s whole day. It can take one message of hope to encourage someone to not give up. I have people in my life that it simply takes being in their presence to give me the peace and happiness I desire to feel. That, my friends, is making a difference.

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I have been in an all-time low. I have been in a place where peace and happiness did not exist.  My world felt upside down. It took beautiful people in my life that made a commitment within themselves to continue to remind me that peace and happiness would come. It took me making the decision to want to find that peace and happiness in my life again, but it didn’t happen overnight.

I recall a very sad moment for me. It was the summer after I lost my mom. I had anxiety racing in every part of my body. I felt claustrophobic; in my mind I was trapped within a state of pain and was desperate to feel some sort of relief. However, no matter how much I cried or screamed…no matter what I tried to do to comfort myself from losing my mom; I couldn’t find relief.  I had been sitting in her closet surrounded by her clothes; I had her pictures on my lap and was sobbing into her bath robe when I felt like I couldn’t take the pain for another second.

I got up and ran downstairs and out the door. It was the middle of the night and I began running down my driveway. I continued on down the road, running and screaming. Every part of me hurt. I kept running and running until I almost couldn’t breathe. Maybe I thought I could run from and escape my pain. It didn’t work like that.

I look back at this moment and tears fill my eyes. I can feel the intensity of pain I had in that very moment. But I can’t help but look at where I am now and almost smile because I know how much I have had to overcome to get to where I am. I cry thinking about my journey, even the days to come without my mom. But I will always rejoice in the strength and peace I have found within myself.

Having to face such a tragic time in my life at a young age has helped me to form a very unique outlook on life. I have felt pain and suffering. I know what serious hurt feels like. Feeling the deep emotions I have has given me a better appreciation for the people around me and the way I choose to treat them. You never know what other people are facing, how difficult it might be for them to get through the day or how desperately they need to feel some sort of relief, like I did.

I never want to intentionally be the individual who adds negativity to another person’s day. That is why I feel it is so beneficial to always be aware of your actions and how you are treating others. You can make a difference.

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Fear Can Be a Beautiful Thing

Two years, two months.

My heart is sad today. I woke up very sad. I am actually not feeling very well because of it. I wanted to post this blog today because I think it is important to share with everyone that sad days are okay too. They are completely natural. There are days and moments that are harder than others for me to accept not having my mom around. This sort of makes my life a roller coaster, but I am alright with that too because the ups are better than the downs. They make it all worth it.

Next week is the fourth of July. I recall last year and all the other years of my life going up to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes with my family for a long weekend to celebrate together. The past few years my mom hasn’t been here to make the trip with us. However, our very first trip to the dunes without her we brought her ashes and shared a very indescribable and heartfelt moment together as a family. That was one of her favorite places in the world and we wanted to make sure that she would always be there with us. We did and I will never forget embracing that time with my brothers and dad.

Dunes lake pic

This year is the first year we are not making the trip. It is sort of bittersweet. Nick and Nathan have football and are unable to come home. So Dad and I decided to part from our trip and make other plans. It isn’t the same up there without the whole family. I will greatly miss experiencing the sparkling fireworks over the great big sand dunes reflecting into the beautiful lake. It is truly a sight to see. I realize in my heart it has never been the same since I have been there without my mom. I don’t think it ever will be. Our memories there are so good that I can’t help but always ache for her to be there with me. Maybe a change in direction and taking a different trip will be good for me. I am not sure yet.

There’s something about summer that has become very hard for me. My mom loved the sunshine, flowers, butterflies, bonfires, cookouts, rollerblading and taking family trips. My summers still consist of all of those activities but each one feels different without her. I know she would want me to enjoy all of her favorite things, even without her. I try to remind myself of that often.

There are many times that I fear doing so. I create this image in my mind that it is not right to enjoy my life without her. It brings guilt to my heart because as much as I do believe she wants me to be happy; it hurts me to be happy without her. I am assuming that anyone who has ever lost someone close to them could in some way relate to that feeling. There are people who believe fear is a bad feeling to have. Throughout my journey with and without my mom I have come to a point where I strongly disagree.

Fear can be a beautiful thing. It can resemble what you have and what you don’t want to lose. It can signify what you had and what you are scared to go on without. In order to inquire those feelings one must have loved and loved deeply. That is exactly what I have felt and feel about my mom. I am not ashamed to fear my life without her in a sense. It is proof of how important she was and always will be to me.

We have to find healthy ways to live and cope with fear. I believe I have. I acknowledge my own personal fears, I am aware of them and I overcome them each and every day. To me, that is what is real. I do not envy a person who claims to live without any fear. This world can be a very scary place, it is unpredictable. And let’s be honest we aren’t superheroes.

Taylor Swift quote

So, basically this post is meant to be real. Today I am sad. Today I miss my mom so badly. And today I live with some fear, because no matter how bad I want to spend my weekend with her…and no matter what I would give to take a trip to the sand dunes with her to watch the fireworks; I can’t.

 

Choosing the Right Mindset

Is the glass half full or half empty? Are you a positive person or do you tend to look at the negative side of things first? Do you have an open mind or is the door to opportunity, hope and happiness usually closed? It has been proven that pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.

These thoughts came to mind when pondering a pretty difficult situation in my own life right now. A very special friend of mine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little over a month ago. I had just enjoyed her smiling presence at my graduation ceremony and days later received the heartbreaking news of her illness. It almost seemed impossible to me. It didn’t take much thinking to understand why I couldn’t comprehend this wonderful woman being diagnosed with such an awful disease. She was invincible to me. She is one of the most positive and loving people I had ever met.

I was very scared to see my friend for the first time after receiving the news. However, as soon as I was in her presence I felt so silly for feeling that way. She was the same cheerful, smiley and positive person. If anyone could be optimistic through this time, it would be her.

When reflecting on her experience with being diagnosed with cancer and all that have been through. I came across one of my favorite quotes by another incredible woman, Helen Keller:

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

This very quote is the way I long to live my life. And it is surely the way my friend has lived her. But why can it seem so difficult to be optimistic at times? How can I watch a human being who doesn’t deserve to fight this life-threatening illness suffer, yet smile through her journey and still find myself looking at certain circumstances in my life in a negative light? It doesn’t seem right does it?

I think I have come to the understanding that everyone’s life can be difficult. We all endure different seasons that are trying and bring an enormous amount of heartache. How we determine within ourselves to weather the storm is on us.

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I find with myself that I not only struggle with weathering the “big stuff” but I acknowledge that sometimes I am guilty of being negative when it comes to the small things in my life too. I’ve been extremely exhausted lately or sometimes I just find myself wanting to have a break. I’ve found myself thinking… Ugh why do I have to go to work? When rather, how blessed am I to have a job! It is things like that.

I am a crazy coffee and caffeine lover. I was recently diagnosed with something that in turn causes me to not be able to drink coffee. This was probably one of the things I enjoy most throughout my day…sounds crazy, I know! I have really struggled accepting giving up my favorite habit. But then when considering what other people face and the things they have to give up and conquer, I honestly feel quite selfish.

One of the many lessons I have had to learn the hard way is that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Life still continues on and we still have to face whatever is coming our way each day. Having the right mind set and attitude will only benefit our situation and help to restore faith in our self and circumstance.

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I have made it a part of my daily life to journal five positives in my day, no matter if I constitute the day as a good or bad day. I have found that it easier than I ever expected to always come up with at least five positive aspects or moments in my day. I have also decided when negative thoughts or feelings come my way that I reserve the situation by finding some sort of blessing in whatever the situation is. This activity has quickly become very beneficial to me and my mood throughout the day. As I am sure it impacts the people around me as well. Give it a try! 🙂

 

 

What is Hope?

I have finally come to a point in my life where I believe in a bold statement that I’d like to share with you. It is my hope; no cliché intended that someday you might believe in these words too. Please take a moment to truly think about the deep significance of this sentence:

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.

The words are strong and for some the six words might be incredibly difficult to believe that they could be true. But I can tell you from my own personal experience, the words “once you choose hope, anything’s possible” can be real and true. It may take the toughest fight you’ve ever experienced and I think you have to be willing to let hope exist in your life no matter what you are facing. You also must make the choice to believe that with hope there is no circumstance, amount of heartache or darkness you cannot overcome.

I was in a place in my life, shortly before losing my mother where I could see myself losing hope. Watching the person I loved the very most suffer with immense pain and heartache knowing there was nothing I could do to take away the physical and emotional pain became very trying after the many years we faced this together.

I wanted to believe more than anything that we would get through it; that we would come out better and stronger from this battle. I really wanted to. But it became so hard and people began to doubt us and doubt her. Having hope was almost a chore. It was extremely exhausting. However, I will tell you that until the day I lost my wonderful mom, I never lost my hope.

The night I lost her, my life truly came crashing down. I felt nothing but emptiness, confusion and heartache. I couldn’t understand how we could have struggled for this long remaining faithful to reach this point. That point that we would no longer be side by side; fighting this battle together. She was now in a better place, in peace and paradise. But I was left here, to suffer and pick up the pieces of my heartache and life. I didn’t want to. I had no desire to fight the battle without her. The moment I knew she would no longer be living with me in my world, I honestly lost hope.

With time (months and months) that included a lot of crying and soul searching. With great friendships, my faith in the Lord and my incredible family (my dad and brothers), I found a way to choose hope. It wasn’t easy and I would never want to relive that period of time in my life.

This is a complete understatement, but I was left with two choices: I could give up or I could continue on.

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There were points where giving up felt like the better option. There were moments that no matter what anyone said to me, no matter how much hope they had in me that I would get through this that I felt there was no possible way. In part, I think that maybe hitting that “rock bottom” is a way to solidify the true hope we need as human beings when our world has changed and our hearts are left feeling devastated and broken.

I can’t exactly explain what did it for me. What made me reach this exact point, but I will share with you that it took several rock bottom moments. I had a few moments where I almost scared myself with how terrible and empty I was feeling to reach the opportunity of choosing hope. I came to realize that if I didn’t choose hope and wanted to live I was going to be very miserable. Not only was I going to be miserable but so were the people around me. This is something I never wanted.

I have two amazing brothers who are younger than me. They looked up to me and depended on my strength and love to continue on without our mom. I knew that I needed to find the strength for not only myself but for them because they needed me. I couldn’t give up because I couldn’t give up on them. What an incredible love that is to feel. To love someone (in my case my two brothers) more than I could ever love myself. That was a huge motivator for me to overcome this dark place that almost became comfortable for me to be in.

I would encourage anyone who has ever felt or dealt with something similar to do the same as I did. Find something/someone, whatever/whoever it may be and let them be a reason to not give up. Allow yourself to feel the love and joy that exists for the reason of that person or thing and make the decision to not give up on that feeling. That is exactly what I did. I reasoned with myself that “yes I had lost my mom and it was miserable,” but that I had other wonderful things in my life that made it worth living. But not only that, it made it worth living with hope. Someday, with patience, healing and a lot of work I would feel love and joy again because it did still exist in my life. I believe the same can happen for you.

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Embracing the Challenge of Change

It is hard to believe it is already the beginning of June. How fast time flies. Through the good and the bad; time still continues. And we are here to face each and every day we are fortunate enough to spend on this earth.

I thought this would be a good time to take some a few moments to reflect. I wanted to post a writing that could reach out to those of you whose summer may or may not be going as planned.

Why do we plan?

Is it to keep ourselves organized or could it be to keep things rolling in the direction we think they should go. Or could we consider it somehow a way we set ourselves up to be let down. If we fall short of what we expect to happen then we are left with disappointment. But does it have to be that way? I don’t think so.

I can tell you first thing, my life is far off the path I had planned it to take. Yet somehow in its own unique way it is working, I am breathing, and I still find beauty daily in my life. In fact, a lot of beauty.

I will admit to you, I am a planner. I like to have each day of the week in advance. I want to know exactly what is on my agenda at the office, what activities will be taking place after work, and I even like to plan the meals I eat. It keeps me feeling organized and on top of things. In addition, I feel flustered when I do not know what is going to take place in my life.

I would like to think that this can be a good thing, in most cases. I know an employer would think so! There are many benefits to being organized and have a distinct plan. But in terms of a more personal aspect, when coping with life and the unexpected events that occur this may have not been a good quality for me to have. Micromanaging can be exhausting, especially when things don’t go your way. And if your life is anything like mine, often times they just don’t.

There are several times in my life I can recall almost throwing a fit when things did not go my way. Not in a bratty way or anything, but more of an emotional fit. I could completely unwind and fall apart over a change of events or lack of control. I lived most of my life with “things” going my way. Whatever that may mean to you. I felt in a very comfortable place with my life, my plans and what I wanted. It would be fair to say that I had not developed much coping skills. I never had to, praise God for that.

However, I had a major turn of events. Despite my planning and desire to have control over the situation and my everyday life, I now had none. Within days my life changed around the age sixteen. It was time to grow up quickly. It was time to face heartache; intense heartache. Whether I wanted to or not. And it was time to realize that life does not always go as we had planned. Which is almost unbearable to accept, isn’t it? I wasn’t sure how much life was going to change for me and never in my worst of nightmares would I have imagined it to change to the extent it did.

Unfortunately, it happens and I’ve had to learn that a very hard way. As I am sure many of you have as well. However, I do believe we can use these major trials of heartache as tools to guide us in the direction we need to continue in. Even if it isn’t the path we originally intended to be on and even if it takes fighting each day to move forward in that direction.

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Life does go on, no matter how hard it is. The lack of control of events in our life can seem unbearable. However, we must learn to deal with changing our plans and find it in ourselves whatever it will take to continue forward with a good attitude. If not, what is the point of living? Each day is a gift and as the days pass you realize you can never go back in time to embrace what happened yesterday.

Finding control of your attitude can be much more beneficial than maintaining control of your plans and what you want to happen each day. For as I’ve learned, we have little control over our plans. No matter how hard we attempt to hold onto them.

EMBRACE life as each day comes to you, no matter how much your heart aches. As you learn to find beauty in the change of events that occur in your life, you will grow stronger and you will find joy throughout the journey. I promise you this. change pic 1