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Monday, March 31, 2014

Who am I?




My thoughts on the infamous question and the reality of who I really am.



I think there are things that help mold us into who we are and I think there are moments in our lives where we can’t control how we are molded.

Like the moments where you love so deeply, and your heart changes before your mind can convince it otherwise.

Or the moments when you get hurt and the wounds are deep. It seems like no matter how hard you work to heal it, you have to feel a period of pain, followed by the irritating sting and then finally an everlasting scar.

There are also people that mold us. Because even though we get to write our own story, at some point we trust someone enough to lend them the pen, and suddenly they are stamped all over our pages.

Besides memories and people we meet along the way, who we are is also molded before we began this journey. We all begin as daughters and sons. And over time we become sisters and brothers, mothers and father, friends and lovers.

Who am I?

As I think of who I am, my soul, and the character of my spirit, I try to focus on a place that is just me. Before I was influenced by others, by passing trends, and media. Before anyone told me it was wrong to be one way or another.

Who are you really? When you leave behind judgments, opinions, and any influential factors? Who are you when you are completely yourself?

I am a believer.

In love. In human kindness. In laughter, smiles, and sweet words. I believe the glass is always half full. I believe my purpose is to love, lead, inspire, and create the beautiful world I have painted in my mind. I believe in living for something higher, bigger, and greater than me.

I’m an enthusiast.

Of music. Of books. Of art. And mostly of people wildly chasing their dreams.

I am strong.

Worthy.

Creative.

Positive.

I am all the words spilled across my torn notebook pages.

I am sometimes too curious, sometimes too emotional, and sometimes too naïve.

I am on a quest for lifelong happiness, and anything I learn along the way, I want to share with people.

I have a light that I want to illuminate even the darkest of corners.

I am me. Unapologetically, fearlessly, me. I may not know who I am going to be, but I know who I am right now. And what I also know: if I am honoring and being true to the girl that I am, it is impossible not to like her.

Who are you really?



Happy Monday xoxox



Friday, March 28, 2014

Life is This


Sweet sister



I wanted to do an interview that would really showcase someone who has been through a great deal at a young age and still remains positive about the future. I'm lucky enough to have a sister that models that daily. My sweet Lizzie is so inspiring to me. I’ve posted about her before in my post “And she is strength”, and she just continues to be someone I find so much to write about.

We are only 11 months apart, yes just 11, so we are basically twins. We are technically Irish twins, two sisters born in the same year. We have been through a few hardships together, but it is really in the mundane moments of life that I cherish with her most. She is the most wonderful person I know. We can talk to each other about anything, we laugh about everything, and each day I am reminded that she is the greatest blessing I could possibly receive.

I wanted to interview my sister because at 15 she was diagnosed with cancer and she is a continuous fighter, always reminding me she is “a lucky one.” She is now a healthy college student pursuing a nursing degree, her end goal to work with kids who have cancer. We met for lunch to do this interview and she was so hesitant. Like the awkward laughing, hand fidgeting, constantly asking “why do I have to do this Katie?”, kind of hesitant. But regardless, she told me her point of view on life and I love her even more. Here it is..



What is life to you?

“Umm, I don’t really know. Can we come back to that one?”

Sure, what are three things that get you through the day?

“I guess my goals for myself, you, other’s expectation of me.”

What are three non-personal things that get you through the day?

“Coffee, loads of coffee. Grey’s Anatomy”, she says while laughing, “I don’t know what else, probably sleep."

What’s an experience that has shaped your view on life.

“Being sick.”

What keeps you going? What makes you decide to fight?

“I guess I’ve seen both, deciding to fight or give up. When I got sick again, I really didn’t know if it was worth fighting through. But being sick the first time I choose to fight back.”

What makes you decide to keep fighting now?

“My family, knowing the toll it would take on them. Also, being so young.”

If you meet someone now in the position you were in, what would you tell them?

“To keep fighting. If you set your mind to it, you can beat it. It’s just not worth giving up now.”

What’s one thing you learned about yourself from being sick?

“I think I come off a lot stronger than I am. People in my life feel like I can keep going, so I put on a front.”

What is an experience in life that you feel like people need to experience themselves to understand?

“Being truly depressed. I don’t understand why some people do what they do when they’re that sad, but I don’t judge them.”

What is ultimate happiness?

“Love. Whether it be from family or being in love.”

What is an exact memory that brings happiness to you?

“A lot of smells bring up memories. Like when you smell like your old apartment, or the way your car smells, (we both laugh), those things make me happy.”

What are three things you or people in general take for granted?

I think everyone takes their family for granted, I take for granted how blessed and lucky I really am, and every day life.

What’s your favorite quote?

"Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but-I hope- into a better shape." Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Now, that we are towards the end of the interview, “What is life to you?”

Life is this. It’s what we are living, it’s what we are experiencing.”

What are three words to describe yourself?

Caring, determined, silly. Silly Lizzie, Silly wizzie, Silly waz! Put that.”






Love my Irish Twin

Monday, March 24, 2014

Big Beautiful Blue


There is a wonderful blog, embergrey.com, which I have currently fallen in love with. The blogger behind the wonderfulness is Emily and she does a post each Monday titled Grateful Heart Monday. I wholeheartedly believe being grateful for every small detail is the way to live, so this week I decided to join in by sharing how grateful I am for a big realization on my recent beach trip.

Now that spring break has ended, I am back in school and back in Las Vegas where the temperature is already climbing to the high 80s. I find myself missing Laguna Beach, the perfect 70 degree weather, and one special day in particular.

After hurrying to the beach and being welcomed by the sweet music of the waves, I stood at the shoreline and took a slow, deep breath. It had been my first time returning to Laguna Beach without my family, and as I stared out at the sparkling blue waters I realized that this ocean knows me. I’ve been coming to this exact beach since I was nine. It has heard me laugh and run with the waves, seen me lay for hours in its neighboring sand with my brothers and sister, and now it has seen me return a different woman than that nine year old girl. I have changed so much since my first visit, but I still share the quality of being absolutely captivated by the big blue treasure. That little girl never left.

As I look back at the beach trip, and my visit to the ocean, I realize I still cannot comprehend the vastness of the ocean. I can’t imagine everyone who has stood where I was standing, all the sunrises and sunsets that have taken place above the big blue water, and all the treasures that decorate its floor. I find myself smiling that in a world where everyone needs an answer, you simply can’t predict every wave, every tide, and the wash of emotions the beautiful blue can have on you. And no matter how old I get, I like to think I will always get to be that nine year old girl who marveled at the ocean. I like to think no matter where life takes me, or who I become, the ocean will always be there to humble me. I’m grateful for that. For the ocean, its humbling affect, its undeniable beauty, and the magic that happens each time I get to visit it.



Happy (Grateful Heart) Monday! I hope everyone is having a blessed day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

rock bottom builds the best foundation.




I have now taken plenty of education courses, volunteered in multiple classrooms, and got a job working with children. I have spent lots of money and time in the education program. I have countless books telling me how to be a teacher and the history behind it. I wrote my educational philosophy essay and I’ve submitted it to professors. I even have a mug that says “Teachers change the world one lesson plan at a time."

And as I sit at my desk, writing this, staring at the books and drinking a not-so-yummy cup of coffee out of my now useless teacher mug, I fully admit to myself I do not want to be a teacher.

I do not want to be a teacher. My eyes are filling up with tears. Am I pathetic? How have I spent the past three years telling myself it was my dream job when I have known deep down in the depths of my heart that it is not what I want to do?

Writing has been the love of my life since I was six years old. I would write about the people in my first grade class (nice things I promise), and little dreams my mind thought up. Writing has helped me through bad breakups, my parents’ divorce, and my sister being diagnosed with cancer. It has saved me when I didn’t love myself. It has given me the right words when I didn’t know how to speak them, it has given me strength when I thought I was too weak to take action. Writing has a piece of my soul. My notebooks that are stacked on my bed side table are my prized possessions. My heart overflows with my love for writing. My hands ache for a pen when I have a new idea. My life is significantly more beautiful the minute I relive it by writing.

I want to write.

Forever. Whether I’m alone, or married, or with dogs, cats, friends, 1 child, 7 children, I want to write. Even if I’m old and my hand shakes as I hold the pen, I want to write out every sparkling memory, every thought that runs through my mind.

Admitting to myself that I want to write was terrifying. Listening to the voice inside my head was a whole new experience. I have silenced her for so long. I have told her to reach for things more attainable, to believe in dreams that I’ve already seen fulfilled. I have gone to sleep hearing that same voice tell me, “Please, go after exactly what you want. Everything will unfold as it should” and instead of listening, I tuned it out and continued with a plan I wasn’t sure was ever my own.

We let our dreams and our view on life get shadowed by what we think other’s view may be. We are in this marathon where we believe we are chasing exactly what we want only to find out we are chasing what everyone expects of us. If we take the time to reflect on what road we want to take, we would realize that our truest self has been pointing us in that direction. We all have a purpose embedded deep inside us and our truest self has always been with us. We just have to stop listening to other voices and listen to our own. My truest self knows what I am capable of. What I realize now is no matter how far you try to stray from who you are, your heart leads you back to where you must be. My heart sings a different song when I am writing than when I am doing anything else. My purest form of happiness is scribbled among notebooks, and napkins, and pieces of scratch papers, words upon words upon hope. My hope is to become all that I already know I can be. To toss aside fear and doubt, and head fearlessly towards exactly what I want.

I felt as though I hit rock bottom when I had decided to switch majors and start again. This state of rock bottom is not a burden, but a blessing. From it, I will build a stronger foundation. Hitting rock bottom felt like shattering in a million pieces. And instead of cutting myself on the broken pieces, I'm gathering new ones. And this time I am building something even better, even truer, than the girl I was before.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Laguna Lovin': this week in photos


I am blessed to have been able to go on such a wonderful vacation this past week in Laguna Beach, California with my two best friends. For anyone who hasn’t been there, it is a beach community right by Newport and it is incredibly beautiful. The streets are lined with little beach shops, art galleries, and people that are always smiling. We spent our days relaxing, shopping, trying to work up a tan on our outrageously pale skin, and really bonding as three best friends. I am so grateful to have Lizzie and Maddy in my life. Our days in Laguna were filled with laughing, smiling, and falling completely in love with the city. I believe at some point everyone needs a getaway. It was a chance for us to not think about school, work, or the time constraints of our day to day activities. We simply lived by the rise and set of the sun, only checking our watches when we knew it was time to eat (a must when all three of us LOVE yummy food.) Here are some pictures from the beautiful vacation and the things I fell in love with this week.
















Saturday, March 15, 2014

CLW



CLW. Caring, loving, worth following. Also, Casey Leigh Wiegand.


Casey writes a blog, The Wiegands, and after reading a few posts, I was hooked. She covers a wide range of topics from art and fashion to family, love, and loss. She has such an unaffected view on life and the goodness of her heart shows up in all she does. I love reading blogs, but I follow blogs when I can feel the passion behind them. And with every post, Casey does just that.

Feeling so inspired by Casey, I decided to send her a quick thank you email and ask if I could interview her for my blog. I received an email back from her assistant not even 15 hours later (thanks Danielle!), saying Casey would answer some questions for lifeisthis.com. After doing a happy dance and calling my mom at 5:30 in the morning to tell her the news (sorry mom), I sent her an email with some “lifeis” questions. After reading her answers, I just felt so blessed. It brings so much clarity to the whole reason I began writing this blog: I don’t want to have to get to the end of my life to figure out how I was supposed to live it. We may only have one life, one soul, one body, but we grow and flourish as individuals when we share what a beautiful gift life is. We grow when we talk about what inspires us, what makes us thrive to be better, and we grow when we unite over the beauty and light of the world instead of dwelling on the darkness. Casey’s answers resonated with me and I hope it does the same for you. Thank you so much, Casey, for not only answering these questions but sharing your beautiful life with others daily.

What is life to you?

Life to me is..... God, purpose, passion, family, love, creativity and making every moment count.

What events, memories, and/or lessons in your life have shaped your view?

I can honestly say that heartache, struggle and growth have changed me. Sometimes it takes your heart breaking and all the pieces getting slowly put back together to see life differently. It's the moments when we are the weakest that forces us to build up the most strength.

What are three things that help you get through the day?

Three things that help me get through the day is my relationship with God, my precious family and my amazing friends. Three "non personal" things: chocolate, music and time outside!

What was a single moment that made you realize how valuable life is?

I think it's been a process that has been happening since I have become a mother. Knowing you love something so deeply, it will change your life and soul forever. I believe the moments I met them each for the first time made me see myself in a different way, more different than I could have ever imagined. I have also lost a baby...that definitely changed everything too.

If you got to say one things to the entire world, what would you say?

If I could say one thing to the entire world, I would say: this life is short...you can make it all about you or you can use your gifts and passions to change other peoples lives. You can show them beauty in the everyday. You can love your family in a fierce way and live your faith in a tangible, life changing way.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday. xoxox




Thursday, March 13, 2014

and she is strength

It has been well over two years since Lizzie, my sister, was in the hospital after being diagnosed with a ganglioneuroma tumor.

I’ve talked about my sister’s previous health complications on my other blog, Through the Eyes of An Irish Twin, and today I don’t want to focus on those dark days, but instead the incredible light she has shined on me and the life lessons I have learned from her.

This past week, Lizzie had her first oncology check up in six months. Like every doctor’s appointment, I do my best to be there for her. The oncology appointments are always the scariest for me. Even though this appointment was just a check up, I found myself fidgeting in the waiting room chair, praying it would be nothing but good news. Lizzie is healthy most of the time, but there's something about returning to the doctor's office that makes me second guess everything.

Lizzie had already written out all her concerns and what she planned to ask the doctor. She had the little white paper folded in fourths, waiting in her black leather bag. I read it thoroughly. I was well aware of all her concerns but they seemed so different printed in my sister’s handwriting. Every time I had worried, every little detail I noticed, she had too, but neither of us had said much then. Now that white paper voiced the concerns that neither of us had the courage to say.

Lizzie and I sat in the waiting room for over an hour. In that time, we saw a beautiful teenage girl, her bald head wrapped in a pretty pink floral headband. We saw a two year old with tubes around his nose and a pale, sweet innocent face as he smiled and waited. We saw countless families come in and out, all with the silence of knowing we were all in this waiting room for a reason and some were luckier than others. Lizzie was being stared at, and I know what they are all thinking, she is a lucky one. Lizzie continued to talk to me, about what it would have been like if she had lost her hair, if the surgeries didn’t work, if chemo was the only option. She told me that when she first heard it was cancer she was crying on the phone with our aunt and my sweet aunt said the words, “don't be upset now, you need to save your energy." And she still models those words, she is the epitome of strength.

I rested my head on Lizzie’s shoulder, partly because I was tired, but partly because I was happy to just know she was there. An able, healthy body sitting besides me.

As the nurses called her name out, we walked back together. A few nurses sang a song to a little boy as we passed, “Happy no more chemo for you, happy no more chemo for you…” to the tune of happy birthday. I just thought about how I never had heard that song before, a huge blessing.

Lizzie and I laughed while we waited for the doctor, doing impressions, talking about the kids at our work, and just being sisters, completely intertwined perfectly in each other’s lives. She is the funniest person I know and there is no one I understand better and love more. She is threaded into all the pieces of my being. In fact, without her thread, I know I would absolutely fall apart.




I took this candid picture of Lizzie while we were waiting and my phone died soon after. After getting home and restarting my phone, I stared at it and realized something. No matter how dark the situation, she is always looking forward to the light. And no matter how dark a place gets, she keeps chasing the light, only to realize it was inside her all along.

She is healthy, she is strong, and I know she can take on whatever comes her way. I guess a little lesson for me: life is realizing what a beautiful thing it is to have people you are terrified of losing. Life is being appreciative of our bodies, what they are capable of overcoming and the strength that rests within them. Life is not feeling sorry for those who are worse off than you, but instead helping, guiding, and loving them with an enormously grateful heart.

Happy Thursday xoxo




Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Broken Car Window Blues



A lesson in being upset for a day and being okay with it.

At first glance, I thought I had just parked over a space with tons of glass. My shift did start at 8 am and it was daylight savings meaning that for my body it was still seven, and for my mind, it was way too early to be working properly and actually notice the details of the parking space I had chosen. So when I finished my shift and walked out to my car at noon and saw all the glass I immediately just thought it was a broken beer bottle, remnants of someone's crazy night, shattered all over my parking space. It wasn’t even until I unlocked my driver’s side door that I realized my car had been broken into. Glass everywhere, my belongings shifted, and my backpack gone. I think at first I was more in shock. Obviously upset, but mainly I felt violated. Knowing my belongings had been taken by a stranger who probably did not know me, was a disturbing feeling. I tried so hard to be positive and look on the bright side. I wasn’t hurt, my purse wasn’t in the car, no money was taken, and it’s an easily fixable issue. I have amazing friends and family who went out of there way to help. I kept thinking “it’s not that bad, don’t get worked up over it” and then I realized there is absolutely nothing wrong with being upset over my car being broken into. There is nothing wrong with getting angry, or even just wanting to be alone for a bit and figure it all out. I think that is such a misconception when it comes to being a positive individual. People assume that positive people have no bad days and are never in a bad mood, but the truth is getting upset and angry are valid feelings, it’s what we do with those feelings that matters. Positive people get upset too, but it doesn’t control their life. In fact, it’s adds to a long list of experiences that makes us stronger people than we think we are.

I now know how to file a police report, I know someone who can fix broken windows for a very fair price, and I know to never, ever leave anything valuable in my car. I also know in times of sadness I can consume very large amounts of guava grapefruit sorbet, and that I also have some of the greatest human beings in my life that made today go by smoothly and filled it with love.

And to the person who stole my backpack, I hope you enjoy my theatre notes, my educational psychology book and my Eos lip balm. Also, there's a Clif bar in the front zipper, knock yourself out.



Happy Sunday xoxox

Friday, March 7, 2014

coffee shop interview



I always knew that part of doing this blog and interviews would mean that at some point, I would interview someone who's vision on life was completely different from mine.

It’s kind of like those illusion pictures. You stare at it for so long and you only see one thing, and then someone points something else out, something that you never noticed, and all of a sudden the picture you were just staring at isn’t the same.

I was at Coffee Bean a few weeks ago, writing and brainstorming for this blog. I had my head phones in, my journal open, it was a ridiculously beautiful day outside, and I just felt so grateful. For the sun, for the breeze, the warm coffee in my hand, all of it.

I was at a table for four, because all the two seaters had been taken. While I was writing, I saw an older Vietnamese gentlemen carefully balancing his muffin on a white glass plate, while holding his coffee in the other hand. He was just standing, clearly having just given up the search for a table at the crowded coffee shop. I looked at my three empty seats.

“Excuse me,” I called over to him, “You are welcome to sit over here, I’ve got my head phones in, I won’t even be bothered.”

The old man looked so grateful. He walked over and introduced himself. “I’m Quoi.” I shook his hand and told him my name. He quietly pulled out his chair, and then asked what I was writing. “A blog.” I replied. I kept writing in my notebook and then he asked, “What’s it about?” Flipping the notebook to a blank page, I replied, “It’s a collection of interviews on random strangers views on life... actually, could I interview you?”

He looked at me and said “I don’t think I have much to say.” I told him it was only opinion based, no wrong answers, it wouldn’t be on the news or in a magazine.

He nodded, and said “Okay.” Hesitantly, but still agreeing. And a conversation began that I will never forget.

What is life to you?

“I don’t know, what’s life to you?”

I’m not really sure, I replied, that’s why I have this blog, I’m kinda hoping to find out.

“Well, life can be many things. It depends on how each person views it. Life can be a relaxation moment.” He pauses staring up at the sun, his arms gesturing this very moment outside the coffee shop. “To others, it is hard work, creating values, raising a family.”

What are some moments in your life that have shaped your view?

“I have a little bit of a negative view. A few years ago, I went through a bad divorce. It was stressful, like trauma. Some events make you feel not as positive. It affects you, and you just don’t feel like doing much anymore.”

I stopped writing for a second.

He gave a forced laugh. “Kind of negative, right?”

It’s okay, I said. Are you happy now?

“Not really.”

I continued small talk with Quoi, asking questions back and forth. I asked if I could take a picture of him for the blog and he said “No, if you would like a picture you can take one for yourself, but I don’t want it going anywhere else.” I respected his response, and asked one more question.

If you had one thing that you can tell everyone in the world?

“That you are beautiful.” He smiled a wide grin and chuckled.

I said thank you and laughed too. I gathered my things, thanked him for the interview, and rushed to meet a friend for lunch. Afterwards I was leaving and I ran into Quoi again. He looked as though he had really been thinking. “So how many people are you going to interview?” I thought about it and answered, “At least a hundred, maybe more, I’m just trying to figure out my view on life some more.” He was clearly really listening to everything I had to say. He then said, “I changed my answer a little. Life is ongoing so I guess we just have to hope for the best.” He then asked for a hug, to which I usually would have been creeped out and rejected, but I realized it was a still moment in my life with a complete stranger, who just shared private thoughts and sacred memories just because I wanted to listen. I stepped forward and hugged him.

Thank you Quoi, for sharing you story. I hope you find happiness again.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Life is Love



Life is love.

When I first came up with the idea for this blog, I was sitting with my mom in Cheesecake Factory rambling on about my thoughts on it and how I’m not really sure how I would answer what life is.

She immediately said, “Life is love.”

There is so many things I admire about my mom. There was a time when I moved out that I couldn’t delete any of her voicemails, so afraid that if something happened to her it would be all I had left when I needed to hear her voice. She is so strong, and captivatingly beautiful inside and out. One thing people always tell me, is that I open myself up so quickly, and that I get so curious and excited over the simplest things. I know this is a trait I have acquired from my mother, the sense of bewilderment for life and I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for her, for sharing her light and love with me, and for supporting absolutely everything I could have ever wanted to do.

I couldn’t sum up my answer for what life is in three words, I just never thought it was that simple. So trying my best to understand what my mom could have meant, she was the first person that I interviewed.

What do you feel has shaped your belief in what life is?

“Having parents that were kind to me, becoming a mom at 19. Also, having the core belief that if you let yourself be an expression of love, things will unfold as they should.”

“What is an event in your life where you realized how valuable life is?”

My mom dying, and my youngest daughter getting sick.

How did your mom dying affect you?

“I couldn’t.. I was just trying to survive. I found my peace in knowing that everything would be okay. I had to be the love that my mother gave.”

If you could say one thing to everyone in the world what would it be?

“Okay, it’s not a quote of mine.”

That’s fine.

“There’s no doubt that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.”




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