Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cheers not Jeers

Blogging has been a huge blessing for me, and I don’t think I could express my gratitude enough for those who have been so friendly and loving. I truly believe that when you do what you love people will eventually acknowledge it, but truly special individuals cheer you on the whole way, reminding you why you decided to risk it all in the first place. 

 It is a little over three months of Life Is This, and this site is my joy. I have a love for the process and an immense love for the people who have rooted for me along the way. Today I wanted to return the favor and I’m linking up with Casey from Aslan's Auspicious Albany Adventures for Cheers not Jeers. First off, thank you Casey for this terrific idea! Wednesday has become a day to celebrate one another.

 I am cheering on Anne at Love the Here and Now. Anne is truly one of the most kind-hearted people I have ever met. She is a lovely person with a passion for cherishing family, friends, and life. She cheers on other bloggers all the time, and I want to share how much I appreciate and treasure her. She is a wonderful writer with a positive and genuine outlook on life. Her blog features posts about life, family, DIY, and is the perfect combination of powerful thoughts and light-hearted humor. Love the Here and Now allows its readers to get a glimpse at Anne’s life and lets us join her in the process. Thank you Anne for reminding us all that not only should we celebrate ourselves but each other. 


Monday, April 28, 2014

guided by your light: the story behind my tattoo

“Should we get strength tattooed over where the tumor was?” Liz and I both looked at our lower stomachs and shook our heads no. “What about just having sisters written somewhere?” We searched the internet for pretty fonts and fancy designs. “What about a symbol, or quote?”

We spent the afternoon brainstorming tattoos, a mark permanently etched on us. A mark to forever remind us for a little bit we beat time, and we did it together. Liz was healthy and well, and we wanted something to remind us of that. But at the time we were on 16 and 17, and begging our mom for permission wasn’t exactly an option.

We put the tattoo idea on the back burner for a little while. Liz and I started school, we got an apartment together, and one of the first weeks in our new home she got really sick. I got home and she was standing in the kitchen, and she just started crying, “Katie, I can’t feel my hands. My heart is beating so fast.” Liz and I both knew it was time to go to the hospital. We stood together, we waited together, I held my sister’s hand so tight. That’s the thing about someone you love being sick, at some point you realize no matter how tight you hold, things slip through the cracks. They get sick again, and the horrendous process starts over. Lizzie’s heart rate wouldn’t go down for seven hours, hitting 148 bpm. I remember tapping my finger on the old plastic chair in the hospital room and trying to match that speed. And then I imagined her heart doing that exact thing for seven hours, and my eyes welled with tears.

It was three in the morning and we had been moved to a different room. Lizzie had a fever off and on, so the room was freezing cold. My teeth were chattering and I did everything I could to make it not look so noticeable. Liz still wasn’t well, the doctors ran test after test, whispering how it may be a heart attack. A nurse came in to check on her, and Liz turned to the nurse and said, “Actually, can you just get my sister a blanket? She’s freezing.” I think a love between sisters cannot be accurately summed up in words. I think if someone were to ask me what a sister’s love is like, I would tell them about that moment.

We left the hospital, just as the sun was rising and I thanked God, the skies, and Liz for showing me every dark night is followed by a sun rise. The next week Liz and I decided we would get tattoos. Both of our wrists permanently marked. The quote reads, “Guidati dalla tua luce”, meaning “Guided by your light” in Italian. I also have a sun on my wrist and she has a moon, a symbol from a poem we had found, “You be the sun, I’lll be the moon just let your light come shining through. And when night comes, just like the moon, I’ll shine the light right back to you.”

I believe that in the darkest of situations you have the ability to find a sliver of hope, a beam of light and hold on. And through experience, I believe when you are in a dark situation with someone and there is no light to be found, you find it in yourself. In your spirit, in your hope, and for Liz and I, in each other.

Happy Monday! xoxox

Saturday, April 26, 2014

home sweet (not yet mine but one day) home

Since I was little I have wanted a little cottage. I am not all about fancy mansions, with elevators, movie theaters, and pools in the shape of a dollar sign. I don’t know if that last one really exist, but I have seen some crazy things on MTV cribs.

I don’t really care if my future home has 18 bedrooms, and echoes when I call for my family to come down for dinner at our table that was imported from France.

What I really care about is who is inside my home, the energy and love that fills the air, and a sense of comfort when I walk in. I want my home to embody the phrase “ahhh”, a sweet getaway but my everyday life of ease and relaxation.

That being said, I would still like a huge backyard, with a small swimming pool, a garden that grows all the freshest veggies, a room for writing with a huge window facing my backyard, and a tree house with a tire swing. I feel like if I start planning now, and I have a husband who doesn’t mind quilts, throw pillows, and fresh flowers everywhere, things will definitely work out. Here is what Pinterest helped me come up with for my lovely future home. Everything can be found on my board, Home Sweet Home.

Happy Saturday! xoxox

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Inspires Me

Being inspired and staying inspired is a constant battle for me. I believe nearly anything can be inspiring depending on how you choose to look at it. That is what I notice about artists, about writers, painters, musicians, any creators: a chair is never just a chair, a tree never just a tree. There is more to any picture, any quote, any person. Being inspired is seeing something, and then seeing the countless layers beneath it. It’s knowing there is so much more than what the surface allows us to see.

In a photography class I took last semester my teacher said, “Real artists take a picture. And when everyone sees what’s in focus they see the minute details no one ever thought about. A real artist takes a picture, and an entire story is told in a single frame.”

I think about that as I write. When I begin to brainstorm for my post, I don't always write about things that are evident or easy to see, but instead what may be out of focus. That’s my picture.

Each week I try to listen to a new artist, read new articles, spend time outside, and spend time being quiet to really hear my thoughts. Here are some of the things that inspire me and maybe they will spark a genius invention or idea for you!

Daniela Andrade's cover of Crazy In Love by Beyoncé

Shannon Saunder's cover of Swim Good by France Ocean

Neil Hilborn's spoken poem, "OCD" on Button Poetry

Everything Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird is such an incredible book for any artists.

Quotes, and Pinterest because it's the reason I have a board dedicated to wonderful words.

Happy Wednesday xoxox

Monday, April 21, 2014

For Tracy

You never recognize the big moments in your life as “big moments” until they have passed. Until you have a chance to look back at them, and say, “Wow, how did I miss that?” You never know them because they look like mundane moments. The ones you take for granted because you believe you’ll be promised a million more. We get so used to parts of our life that we stop calling them beautiful or special, or magnificent, and re-label them as boring, repetitive, and old. But this past week I’ve been going out of my way to remember what it felt like to feel/see/hear everything for the first time. And how incredibly special it is to be able to remember things just as they were and then be able to appreciate them as they come again.

I am constantly meeting kind strangers. I am an open book and I think people can sense my transparency. I began to take for granted these serendipitous meetings and treat them as ordinary happenings. So on Easter Sunday when my mom and I began talking to a perfect stranger, I decided to really bask in it all. To say my words carefully, to listen intently, and appreciate the moment.

After having an Easter brunch with my family, my mom and I decided the two of us would go to REI and search for some travelling essentials for my trip to Bali. We were going through a rack of clothes and after finding mainly bright, printed tanks I told my mom, “My tour guide says not to wear anything flashy or that makes me stand out.” And the woman surfing the rack next to us said, “Where are you headed?” I told her I was going to Bali, and she said, “Oh, that’s great! I go to Nepal tomorrow.” Intrigued by her destination my mom and I asked why she was going. She went on to tell us she’s a journalist, and she said, “I don’t really know if I should be telling you this” with my trip being to a foreign country and being a young woman, but my mom and I asked anyway. She continued on and told us how some Western travelers have gone missing in the Himalayas. There is no record of them, and no one knows where they may be. It started back in 2010 when one 23 year old girl went missing, and then she discovered four other similar, but separate cases. The families of these girl are demanding answers and this journalist is going to Nepal to get find the answers for them. We kept talking, about the missing people, travelling safely, our love for writing, and then I realized none of us knew each other’s names. After introducing myself she said, “I’m Tracy”, the same name as my mom’s, and my mom’s natural reaction is to cry and hug her (a genetic trait I swear she has passed down to me). Tracy says it’s “serendipity” and I find myself so overwhelmed with joy, and I just knew that this stranger was doing wonderful things in the world, and I felt so blessed to have met her before her journey. The idea that Tracy was going on this trip, with a family at home, just showed her kind, selfless heart. The idea of giving a voice to these travelers that don’t have one right now, touched me deeply. Despite the dangers of the trip I tell Tracy, “You are doing something out of the goodness of your heart, for the good of the world, and that’s why everything will be okay.” I say my words slowly, sending them each separately out into the air, praying that they are acknowledge and supported on the way of her journey.

This morning I woke up and Tracy’s travels where still so heavy on my heart. I thought of her noble decision to travel to Nepal and figure out what’s happening to the disappearing travelers that journeyed there. And I thought of how this one person is risking it all in the hopes of helping strangers. How often we forget that in the mists of what seems like our troubling time, there are people in places we’ve never seen getting hurt, or going missing, or simply being ignored because it is easier to pretend it’s not happening. I thought of Tracy’s brave soul and how she embodies the word fearless. And maybe she isn’t absent of every fear, but she’s facing them.

I think we too often forget that besides all the people who are negative and toxic to the world, there are people fighting and shining so bright to make this world wonderful. There are people every day who sacrifice their lives in the hopes of prolonging another’s.

For every single fall, there is a rise. Through every dark night, comes a bright new day. For every worry, sacrifice, and loss, there is hope, love, and a blessing. And for every person that makes you question human kindness, there is a Tracy.

My heart is with you in Nepal, my thoughts are all uplifting and empowering as you travel, and I know the universe is guiding you exactly where it needs you to be. Please keep Tracy and the families she is helping in your thoughts and prayers.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Monday xoxox

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sweet Melodies

I don't think I could get through my day without music. Scratch that, I know I couldn't get through my day without music. There is something so magical about how a song comes together and the emotions it can make you feel. Music has become my answer when I didn't even realize I had a question. It's been able to heal little breaks in my heart, and also remind me of all the lovely memories that I have experienced.
I went to a concert on Monday, at the Linq in Las Vegas. There's this new restaurant/venue/bowling alley/everything called the Brooklyn Bowl and it's incredible. The atmosphere was so energetic and upbeat. The people were lively and ready to enjoy the show. The 1975, The White Stripes, and Naked and Famous were playing. If you haven't heard of any of those, they are sooo worth listening too.
I stood in the crowded venue, and took a moment to just look at all the people around me. Different ages and backgrounds, different expressions and stances, but still we were all in the same scene, feeling something from this music. We all had a reason we wanted to be there.
There are things that cannot be summed up in a certain number of words. And there are things that we can't simply just speak about. They must be sung, performed, and amplified by the beauty of music. There are always going to be things we don't understand or know about people, but there is something about everyone singing the same verse in a crowded venue, everyone surrendering to a melody, that makes you realize we are all not that different.
Music is a way to unite people from all walks of life. It's a reminder that heartbreak, happiness, love, laughter, and struggle are part of a journey we are all familiar with. And when a song becomes famous, and I mean really famous, and the lyrics live on forever, it's not because it was catchy. It's because someone finally articulated what a whole society has been feeling all along. It's because someone was brave enough to publish their fears, hopes, and worries into a melody. And once the truth becomes free in the air, it's impossible not to catch it. Music is everlasting.

Thoughts into lyrics. Lyrics into song. Song into an expression of unity. We are never alone. And in that crowded venue, with strangers singing together, I fully believed that.

A tiny collection of my favorite pictures from the night. Happy Friday Everyone! xoxox

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Follow your heart

I have an extremely soft and gentle heart. It can be molded, printed, and left in places and with people before I give it a say-so. I think many people have hearts like this, but I also think many people put up guards and choose to silence what they’re heart may be trying to tell them. I just can’t justify living like that. I can’t live halfway loving, or halfway feeling anything. When I crack open my heart, I will admit, I get hurt or let down sometimes, but I sacrifice that for the love and goodness I constantly feel. If you close your heart none of the bad stuff can get to you, but none of the good stuff can either.

 Since I began listening to my heart and pursuing writing, I am so much happier. The happiest I’ve been, and that gives me goose bumps to say and my eyes fill with tears as I type this. So it’s what I feel I need to share with all of you today. Why I think you, the wonderful person reading this, should pursue whatever your heart desires. 

I believe with everything I have that we all have a gift, a purpose, and we are supposed to live that out. And when you have the courage to do that, things change instantly. 

I know that it is not easy to do what you have always wanted to do. There is a fear of failing, of not being successful, not to mention that the path is not always paved for us to walk on. But what I understand now is that there is always going to be an obstacle. Always. It doesn’t matter if you live cautiously and make all the right moves, or if you take big leaps and sell all your possessions, there will always be obstacles. I think living out your dreams is like running a marathon. And at some point you are going to see hurdles. And you can choose to duck under them or go around or you put on your game face, run full speed, and realize you can get over them. You have to decide you want it more than you are afraid of it. 

People may not always support you, and that’s okay. People constantly tell me “well, at some point you may just be working fast food, or in a coffee shop.” “Writing isn’t steady.” “Why not choose a field that has a promising career?” There is a long list of things I have heard but the one I completely disagree with is, “Picture what would happen if nothing went right and then figure out your solution.” I don’t have a back up plan. Because writing is the plan. I’m not concerned with success or if things will work out because I am living out my soul’s purpose. If you have something that is made just for you, whether it's a place, a job, a passion, it will work out because it's what you are meant to do.  I am living out the gift that is already inside me. I’m using my voice, my words, as a platform to change this world for the better. And I don’t care if it takes 5, 10, 50 years before I can say, “This was my exact plan” because every time I see my thoughts take shape on a page, my heart is printed, molded, and given to the words. My words are then given to my audience and I couldn’t be happier about that.  

You are so much more than your fears. You are so much stronger than whatever could possibly hurt or scare you. Don’t wait for a break, a ticket, an interview. Don’t wait for the 1st of the month, the New Year, or a new you. Get up, show up, and be ready to fiercely go after what you know you have wanted (and what you are supposed to be doing) all along. 

Happy Wednesday xoxo

Comment and share what your dream is! Talking about it is the first step to making it happen. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beauty is a State of Mind

Yesterday I was spending my night listening to new artists on YouTube (currently my absolute favorite thing to do). Typically I skip the ads between songs, having no interest in new car batteries, or high speed internet programs. But yesterday I must have been distracted and an ad began to play. It was presented by Dove, one of my all time favorite companies. I love what they stand for, I adore their products, and most of all, I support their message of embracing who we are, just the way we are. 

This advertisement was testing a beauty patch on young women who had some self esteem issues (who doesn’t?) They were asked to wear an “RB-X beauty patch” for two weeks. The product was intended to make them feel more beautiful and confident. After two weeks, the women came back. Everyone felt more confident and had a radiance about them. All the women were so happy to feel more proud of who they are and what they looked like. The psychologist behind the study, Ann Kearney-Cooke, said to the women, “would you like to know what’s in the patch?” All the girls flipped the patch over to read the ingredients. Seven, little black letters strung together spelt out: “Nothing.” Some women cried, some gasped with surprise, but all felt one thing: that a sense of beauty, confidence, and self worth was all possible without any fancy patch. It was inside them. The ending scene stated “Beauty is a state of mind.”

I watched the ad and thought about how many times a day I look in the mirror and search for a flaw: a blemish, a hair out of place, wrinkles in my outfit. I thought about the time I spend getting ready, the hours of my life I have wasted because, “I look too fat in this outfit”, “My hair sucks today.”, “My skin is awful”. I thought of the opportunities I may have passed up simply because I had decided I wasn’t worth it. I spent time focusing on flaws when I have so many other things going for me. Think of all the times you have told someone they’re outfit is great, or you love their hair. Think of the last time you looked in the mirror and complimented yourself. I know for me, it’s been a while.

Something I realized when I watched the ad, is I am irreplaceable. There will never be another Katie Visconti. Isn’t that something to celebrate? The person you are can never be duplicated. We are all authentic, uniquely made individuals. And there’s so much beauty in just that. The fact that every single one of us is different, even the prints on our fingers cannot be replicated. So why not love who you are just the way you are?

 Someone can tell you that you are gorgeous, smart, kind, and funny. They can say they love your crooked teeth, or the freckles on your nose. They can say they love your hair naturally, and that they don’t care if you don’t have an 8 pack. But if you don’t believe it, they are just empty words. If you don’t believe it, they can say it on repeat, and you will still feel the same.

We all have the capability to believe we are smart, beautiful, deserving, wonderful people. We all have the power to believe we are whatever we want to be. We just have to do it for ourselves. 

Love every part of who you are. Celebrate yourself. The women in the video believed so much in the beauty patch that they felt beautiful. The ingredients may have been nothing, but a simple state of mind we can all put ourselves in. Beauty is not long eyelashes, or flat stomachs, or curves, or clear skin. Beauty is how we decide to make ourselves feel: no patch needed.


Here's the link to the Dove ad if anyone wants to watch:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A little Saturday inspiration

I'm feeling a little under the weather today but I still wanted to share a post of inspiration. Here's my favorite articles at the moment:

I hope everyone is having a great Saturday! New post up tomorrow xoxo

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Finding home

I was only seventeen.
I was about to start college, and I thought I was more than ready to be on my own. I sat on my new bathroom floor, tracing the swirls on the linoleum tile. I was so confused on how I was even supposed to make this tiny, empty apartment a home. I stood up, and had the courage to lock eyes with the girl in the bathroom mirror. And suddenly, it all hit me at once. Being surrounded by these walls that weren’t yet mine, in a place that hadn’t yet been familiar, I was lost.

I had convinced myself that I was moving because I needed to begin school and a new chapter, but in reality I was running from a place I didn’t want to be any longer, a girl I didn’t want to know any longer. But she stood there in the mirror.

I stared at the girl in the mirror and I realized something: a new set of walls, a new bedframe, a new scenery, does not change the person you see. It does not change a feeling of fear, or regret. It does not erase any pain you may feel. Changing everything but yourself in fact doesn’t change anything. You are who you are. Whether you are in a beautiful home or a run-down apartment. On the beach or in an office. What you have to change in order to see change, is the way you view things.

So I stared at the girl who just took her savings and left home, the girl who convinced herself closing one door meant it would stay closed forever. I stared at my reflection and realized something. I had moved, I left the place I didn’t want to be any longer, I had changed everything, except myself.

I sat on the bathroom floor and cried. It was getting dark out, and I realized I had no light bulbs. I could not avoid the growing darkness, so I picked myself off the floor and drove to the nearest Wal-Mart.

 I walked up and down the aisles. I didn’t have much money, and all I really needed was light bulbs, but I wandered until my mind slowed down. Scented candles, throw pillows, picture frames, tiny things that made a home.

I went back to my apartment, and began unpacking. And the first thing I took out was a green memo pad. And I journaled, I wrote hard on the page. I still have the little green memo pad and I still have the entry from that day.  I wrote “it’s not that I don’t recognize this new home, it’s that I don’t recognize myself.”

I took each day that year in my new home trying to make peace with the girl that hurried from her small town. I made peace with her feelings. I made peace with my new surroundings.

I wrote almost every day, I decorated the walls with new memories, I went to therapy, and I learned how to appreciate my solitude. I learned to forgive those who hurt me. I learned that my past could not be altered, and so I forgave. I accepted apologies I never heard. I stopped waiting for someone to come and rescue me.

As the year ended, and the seasons changed, I packed for a new home. While putting things in boxes, and clearing out under my bathroom sink, I stood up and locked eyes with the girl in the mirror; this time, I was happy with the reflection.

On moving day, a family I was babysitting for helped me load all my things in my car. I was talking to the mom about struggles and how I finally feel happy. And how nice that felt to be able to say it and mean it.

She said something that has etched a space in my heart, “So many people think they are drowning, Katie. Because they have been treading water for so long. Their arms begin to flail, and they lose their breath, the feel like giving up, and all they have to do is stand. We are in shallow water, feeling like we are drowning, and all we have to do is stand.”

You don’t drowned because you become submerged under water, you drowned because you have forgotten the simplest thing: the solid ground beneath you is much closer than you think.

My home is a representation of second chances, a life filled with love and gratitude. I carry my home in my heart, wherever I go now, I have learned to be happy. Because we can change our setting and remain the same person, but when we change our perspective, every place seems a little brighter.

I’m wishing everyone a wonderful Tuesday xo

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

7 ways to help get back on board with those New Year's Resolutions

So it’s April and you really haven’t stuck with any of your New Year’s Resolution…

I feel like this happens to me every. single. year. Anyone else get the same feeling? I write out all of my hopes and goals for the New Year, and I end up self-sabotaging. This week has been a little crazy, and my mom had told me, “Take two minutes every day to center yourself and be at peace with the day.” This already had been one of my New Year’s resolutions but I never followed through. So today, I found my quiet place, closed my eyes, and allowed myself 120 seconds to just breathe. To plan for a successful day and to be prepared for any obstacles. After about one minute, my mind began to get distracted. Is that crazy? I can’t sit still for sixty seconds because I’m already planning what I need to be doing later on in the day/week/month. I thought of all the things I wanted to accomplish this year, and how I haven’t taken the time to really fulfill all those goals partly because I haven’t given myself time to reflect on them. The worst person you can break a promise to is yourself. So after I took two minutes for myself, I decided to go back over what my resolutions were and I came up with something called: solutions to the resolutions. (Catchy, I know.) Here’s my list of ways to help get back on track with those New Year’s intentions.

First and foremost, it’s not too late to follow through on your resolutions. Some of you may be thinking, it’s April, I was supposed to be 10 pounds lighter, read 8 books, ran a marathon, whatever it may be, by now. But it’s not too late to adjust your goals and begin again. Who decided January 1st was the only day to begin new resolutions?

“I don’t have the time or money to do what I wanted to do.” I completely understand and relate to this one being a college student and being someone who feels a need to buy something at nearly every store. Set a time every day to do what you need to do. For my writing, I walk up three days a week at 6:30/7 to jot down new ideas and get some blogging time. If it’s exercising, pick a time you know you won’t be able to say, “I’m too tired”, or “It just doesn’t fit in.” For money issues, reevaluate what you are spending your money on. For me, buying four coffees a week and constant lunch dates meant spending more than I even knew I was spending. Budget your money, and set a goal. “By the end of May, I want to have $200 dollars saved for my next trip.” 

Set reasonable and attainable goals. And when writing your goals, word them so they seem more attainable. If your goal was to lose 60 pounds this year, write “I want to lose 5 pounds every month.” Seeing “I need to lose 60 pounds” on your resolution paper makes it seem like such a big obstacle and almost unattainable. Breaking resolutions down into smaller time frames helps achieve them and keeps your eyes on the prize. 

Sub-resolutions. In order to reach our resolutions, we must have steps to get there. If you want a raise at work this year, your sub resolutions may be putting in extra time on the company presentation, staying late to help staff once a week, socializing with clients more, etc.

Inspiration board. After writing your resolutions, post them EVERYWHERE.  Well maybe not everywhere, but in places you know will help you remember. On your bathroom mirror, on a bulletin board, put a reminder in your phone. I love inspiration boards: put pictures of those who inspire you, your favorite quotes, and anything that makes you remember why you are doing what you are doing.

Use your resources. If you don’t have money for a gym membership, run outside, or look up at home workouts. If you have a friend in a business you want to get in, ask how they got started. If you want to read better, google tips. If you want to travel, get some friends that will split the expenses and tag along. Unless you are actively letting people know what you are working towards and what you need help on, they can’t help you. 

Don’t forget to celebrate yourself! You are actively working towards something, even reading this post shows you care about yourself and your needs. Don’t forget to tell yourself how awesome you are. Maybe have a reward system. A dollar in a jar every time you work out, a special dinner when you get that promotion, a trip once you budget your money and can travel. We can’t just want to change who we are, we have to celebrate the journey it take to get there!

Happy Wednesday!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Life is with Derek Beauchamp

Life is with Derek Beauchamp

As I walk into Starbucks to interview Derek, I immediately get in the busy line to get a drink. As I stand waiting, pondering my choices, the man in front of me turns around, “You can go ahead of me, don’t want you to keep Derek waiting.” I smile and ask how he knows Derek. “Lincoln Christian University”, he says, “He's a great guy, really going places.” And before I even begin my interview I find myself feeling so grateful that I am already hearing promising things from a total stranger.

Turns out the kind stranger at Starbucks is completely right. Derek Beauchamp is inspiring and genuine. With his goals, dreams, and an intent to better the lives of everyone he comes in contact with, it’s no wonder he has been able to reach out to countless youth in Las Vegas, NV. We started talking about writing and becoming positive voices in the Las Vegas community and Derek said something I won’t forget, “No matter how old you are people will always be telling you are too young to do that.” Derek is definitely proving those wrong: At just 21 he is a co-founder of Create Las Vegas, a High School Pastor at Lake Mead Christian Ministries, writes at and has a detailed vision to plant a church, write a book, and is in school to solidify those goals. 

First off, I need to say that once again, I am finding myself totally speechless and incredibly grateful to interview someone who inspires me and reminds me of why it is so good to chase dreams and live life on a grand scale.

What is life to you?

“My life centers around building the kingdom of God. It’s what I focus on a day to day basis. It’s my goal, my hope, my true north. I guess it’s how I ground myself.”

What are moments that have shaped your perspective on life?

“When I was seven my mom was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis-a disease that paralyzes your muscle system over time. During that time, my mom really turned to her faith. She is now paralyzed and was on life support several times. I can remember a specific time when I was nine and she was on life support, and I had this car bed, and my dad came into my room and sat on my bed with me and said ‘your mom is going to die’ and we both just cried. It was throughout that time I realized my faith was bigger than the senselessness around me.”

After Derek answered that, we both talked about having a family member who is sick and looking at it as they are a gift, our biggest blessing from God,  and Derek said, 

“I had to learn that my mom isn't mine. If I hold her like this, (Derek motions holding someone tightly at the shoulders), and I can spend everyday hoping she doesn't die, or I can spend every day enjoying who she is."

What are three things that get you through the day?

1.”My morning quiet time, hands down. I wake up, get my coffee, my bible, got my Pandora playing, well now I guess my ITunes radio playing. I need that time."

2. “Coffee, for sure, that’s an overall throughout the day. Trying to break that.”

3. “Time with close friends and my parents. Otherwise I lose focus and become a machine.”

What is something in your life that has inspired you greatly?

“This past summer, my family went on a cruise to the Bahamas and my mom was like ‘I am going no matter what.’ And she can’t walk, and so we get to this private beach on one of the islands, and my mom says ‘I’m going to get in the water’, and my dad and I are like ‘there’s no way’. But my mom is persistent. And there is this sign that says, ‘No chairs beyond this point’ and we park her wheel chair right there and she leans on my dad and I, and we walk into the water.” (At this point in the interview I’m about to cry and Derek is smiling widely reliving the memory.) 

“And now anytime I feel uninspired I just think back to that and there is hope, there is joy in the little things. We spend so much time telling ourselves we can’t but my mom just rocked my world that day.”

Growing up in Las Vegas, do you think there is a separation between the city and church? What have you learned by living in Vegas?

“Yeah I think there is a sad separation between the church and the city. Churches were intended to be cultural hubs, not silos. I think the city overall has taught me a few things, it’s taught me that even the most broken, messed up people can be renewed and be restored. And then C.S Lewis has this really good quote and it’s taught me too, “That I can be in the world but not of the world.” The most effective ministry and what I can do for this city is be in bars. I don’t have to be drunk or wasted out of my mind; I can have a few beers and talk with and be in the community. I don’t have to be sin city but I can be apart of sin city.”

You recently went to Guatemala for a mission trip? What did you learn?

“The main thing that struck me is we can see poverty on the news, but until you are walking on a cobble stone path in the middle of the world, and a malnourished kid comes up to you for food, that is when you understand poverty. And the main thing I learned was how blessed we are with so many things, and cursed because I think it is a lot harder to have faith when you can have faith in everything else. Living in America, I could live a completely healthy, productive, satisfied life and not have any faith, while in Guatemala some people don’t know when their next meal is coming from, or if their dad is going to get worked to death, or if their brothers and sister are going to be alright, or if they are are going to survive to be a teenager, I think that’s when you start to have a little more faith. It was an eye opener.”

If you could say one thing to everyone in the world?

“It’s not profound but I could say one thing to literally everyone it would be a lot of the issues in this world would dissolve if you stop gossiping, stop judging, start loving, and start encouraging.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

3 Things I Wish I Never Found Out

  1. On food labels, the calories listed are only the calories per serving, in the box, bag, or in my case, carton. In high school, I would consume a pint of ice cream in one sitting and think it was only 200 calories because that’s what the nutritional facts said. Turns out it is 200 calories... times about 4. Now I am so aware of this that I rarely have ice cream, and the only two guys I am continually hiding from are Ben & Jerry.
  2. That the “spine” I thought my shrimp had is actually poop. Yup, no thanks, I’ll have chicken.
  3. The obvious one: that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real. I mean, who doesn’t remember figuring that one out and being absolutely devastated?
  4. I hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday.

oh, the trickery.

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