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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Finding Home

In two short days, it will be two years of living on my own. August 1st represents one year of living with my sister, and finally feeling like I am creating a home for myself. Here is an old post I wrote about moving away and finding home.

In my home, there is always sunflowers and hot coffee.

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.
 

Monday, July 28, 2014

19 Things I love about you: a list for my sister

For you, Lizzie, on your 19th birthday. Here are 19 things I just adore about you.
isn't she the cutest?!


1. How comfortable you are in your skin and how you always embrace your natural beauty.
2. Your contagious laugh and sense of humor.
3. For doing the dishes even though it's been my turn for 10 months now.
4. Your love for Grey's Anatomy and the fact you bought a biology book to learn more about the human body.
5. Your determination.
6. Your love for friends and family.
7. Your love for socks. Though I will never understand, I'm happy you're feet are happy.
8. How you get Cafe Rio every Sunday and how your pork tacos ritual is like church for you. Amen.
9. That every time you get pork tacos and I say I don't want one, you give me a taco anyways. (True love)
10. Your completely humble and accepting nature. Everyone is your friend.
11. Your love for Krispy Kreme.
12. How you tuck me in when I'm really sad, and let me strangle you with my hugs even when you don't want to be around me.
13. Your constant love and support for me. (Like the one time you were in the ER and told the doctors about my blog)
14. Your made up language, and how you call people at the drive thru Mr. Magoo.
15. How you trip over everything when you are tired.
16. Your way of making everyone feel included and excited about the little moments.
17. How you have to read every book out loud, and how your sweet little voice fills our apartment when you find a new novel.
18. The way you always, always, take a funny selfie on my phone, with double chin and all.
19. For being the best part of our family, the best part of this sisterhood duo, and for being you.
Happy birthday, wonderful girl.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Journey


 
Lately, I am constantly thinking about my next step and what I want to do. I think this has something to do with being in school, and realizing each thing I do, leads me to a different path. This is a dangerous game to play, to analyze every step of what could have/would have happened.

“If I would have taken that trip…” “If I would have stayed with that guy…” “If I never moved…”

These statements never really help us, they only hinder our progress. And when we become so consumed by the choices of our past, they absorb us like quicksand. In seconds you are swallowed by something you barely knew had the power to take you under.

Lately, I try to focus on being in the present, but I also try to focus on why I am doing what I am doing. I remind myself each and every day that the process is part of the beauty of the journey, and good things really do take time.

This can be difficult when people have stopped caring about the process and only care about results.

The world used to be a place where people worked hard every single day towards something. People stood for more than products they were paid to like and photos that exposed most of their body. People had talent, and worked endlessly to perfect their skill. Now we live in a time where people want everything fast, and instant results. Instead of talent they focus on mere recognition. Instead of hard work they find the right hashtags. Instead of years and years of doing what they love, they spend the least amount of time possible just hoping to be acknowledged.

 

I trust the process. I trust my love for writing. I may not be exactly where I would like to be, but honestly, I am so happy with this season of my life. I treasure each day I get to move closer to my goals.

We often get muddled in what “could be”. We often see people getting copious amounts of recognition for petty things. What we love and what we pursue as our purpose represents who we are. When we are willing to spend each day striding towards a bigger goal, when we live for something bigger than us, that is when we are benefiting ourselves and the world. It takes time to make an impact, but it also takes heart and soul, and reminding ourselves that distractions along the way cannot keep us from why we originally started our journey.

 

I received an email from a company asking me to talk about a product and they would pay me. They didn't want me to test the product, but instead just market it. Use the right words to make people love it.

It’s money, it’s a promotion, and it would probably lead to other opportunities along the same lines.

I denied the opportunity. I did not begin this blog to tell you to love something and make money off of it, I am living for something larger than that. To give those a voice who don’t have one, to share a story so people know pain is only temporary, to use my words as a platform to better the world.

It may be a long journey, but it’s a beautiful one. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Wishes

 
 
Yesterday I was featured on Emily's blog, embergrey.com in a guest post titled, The One Thing: A Sister's Love. I wrote about my sister, and the impact she has had on my life and truly left a piece of my heart in that post. You all saw that and responded in a way that was even more perfect than I imagined. It's crazy when we just open up, leave all we have in our writing, and people from all walks of life can relate or learn from it. My heart swelled with love for all of my readers.

My wish for this Wednesday is to give back that love. So bloggers, I have a favor to ask of you. Please comment below with a link to a post of yours that you feel like you put your whole heart into. A post that embodies who you are. I want to read it and share that love that you all shared with me.

Thank you all infinitely xoxoxoxo. It's a pretty special community we've got going on here.

Stop by Anne's Wednesday Wishes and share what you are wishing for.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Laguna Beach


This past weekend Lizzie and I loaded up the car and deciding to have a beach getaway. From Las Vegas, Laguna Beach is only 4 1/2 hours away With plenty of Spotify playlists (Lizzie decided every song should contain the word California), and an abundance of road trip snacks (who knows what could happen in just over four hours), the time flew by and when we saw the coastline and smelled the enchanting salt water breeze, we knew this trip was perfect getaway.

I often marvel at the beauty of the ocean. It is something I never tire of. Getting to slip away, lay in the warm sand and just listen to what the ocean is saying. Lizzie and I had so much fun, laughing, talking, pretending we were locals. There is something so relaxing about getting to get away from your city, and having no responsibilities. To just breathe, to take a moment to realize that all the stresses can go away by just watching the waves, it's a beautiful life.

Here are some of the pictures from our trip. I am definitely missing Laguna as today is a verrrryyy long work day. Laguna is absolutely lovely and charming, and I am happy that I get to visit every once in a while. The magic of these getaways is that we don't get to call it "home", but instead we cherish the few days we have there, say our goodbyes, and know that soon enough we get another "hello".

Lizzie and I cherishing our 48 hours stay

In one of my favorite
shops, Lala
 


Found this in a store, human kindness for the win.



Newport Beach



Check out www.embergrey.com to see a post I am featured in, That One Thing. Happy Tuesday!! Xoxo  

Friday, July 18, 2014

eShakti: Dress for success

I don't normally do fashion posts or review products, but when I was give the opportunity to receive a dress from eShakti and review it for my readers, I jumped on it.
eShakti is a custom clothing company for women. It offers sizes 0 to 36, and also gives you the option of customizing sleeve length, hem, if you can imagine it, I'm pretty sure eShakti could do it. Even if you don't custom order your clothing, eShakti still gets your height every time so that it can be an even truer fit.

I received my dress which was part of the Boho Chic collection and fell in love with it instantly. It's a modest length with a bohemian, easy-going vibe. I wore it all day to coffee and shopping with my sister and it never wrinkled, stretched, or lost it shape.

Here's how I wore the dress. The embellishment and detail of the tassel was my favorite part. It's nearly 105 degrees every day in Las Vegas and the fabric was so lightweight and cooling it was perfect for these (brutal) summer days.








Check out eShakti's site, and if you find something you love, use the promo code 'klivefashes' and receive 10% off. If you are looking for affordable dresses in the perfect fit, eShakti is your place. Go ahead, get your shop on.

Happy Friday, everyone! xoxo












Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nine things I am judging on a first date



I think everyone has a list of things they run over in their head when they go on first dates. The other day I was realizing mine is probably a little ridiculous. I read into everything, and I mean everything (see number 3). But this is who I am and I am laying it all on the table for you guys (and girls who want a laugh).

1. First impression, obviously. If a guy texts me "I'm outside" instead of coming to my door, I'm judging slightly. If the guy honks, he might as well just drive off, because there is no way I'm coming outside. If you come to my door, we are heading in the right direction.

2. How he drives. If he has ridiculous road rage, or is just cussing the whole time, red flags. I once had a guy scream out the window at another guy who was driving by (the man in the other car was probably seventy and looked like the sweet old man from Disney's Up) I just about had a panic attack. And road rage means bad temper aka no chance in a second date. Also, what they are listening to on the radio. And if it is so loud that he can't hear me speak, (which may be his goal).
How many girls have had a guy blast the radio, and then lower it when you speak, and then blast it again right as you are finishing your sentence? I get that you like the song, or just don't like conversation, but seriously we have to speak to each other some time.

3. Okay, this is where I really read into things. I judge guys based on how early they use their turn signals. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I have a theory. If the guy is the type to turn on his turn signal a thousand feet before he needs to turn, has been in the turning lane for three miles, and -don't you dare doubt Siri, TomTom, or Google Maps because he trusts them with every ounce of his being- he lives a very safe, practical, everything-planned-out kind of life. Then there's the guy who knows a different route that lets you see a new part of the city, waits till the last second to turn, and is often lost. This guy loves adventure, hates routine, and lives a little more wildly. I swear, this theory is SO true. I've dated both, and maybe I need someone who trusts Siri but also doesn't mind taking a detour.

4. Is he rude to the waiter? Another red flag. If he snaps at the waiter, I'm running or hiding under the table.

5. Does he text during dinner? This one basically speaks for himself.

6. Is he wearing a muscle tank and the same diamond studs as you? Okay, I get that this is some girl's type, but why?!?

7. The kind of date they plan. If the date includes me coming over and watching a movie, that's not a date. Maybe this just rings true for us college girls, but I am so over it. "My roommate's out of town, I've got the place to myself, and I really want to watch the Notebook with you." First, no. Second, choosing a movie that you have stereotyped all girls to love and then picking your bedroom to watch it is offensive and again, just no.

8. Nothing good happens when the date is pushed back to 10 pm or later. I once had a guy ask me to dinner, then say, "actually can I just pick you up and we can go to my place? Around 11?"

7.Another big pointer for me is conversation. If they hate talking, or worst, hate listening to anyone but themselves, I struggle to even keep a nice smile on. If they say mean things about their family, friends, or the person at the table next to us, I'm gone. And my biggest pet peeve: negative thinkers. I am all for a vent session every once in a while, but if you life is run by your negative thoughts that's a whole other problem.

8. It is truly the little things to me, driving safely because he has precious cargo (me), opening the car door, making me laugh, being able to laugh at themselves, good conversation, being kind to strangers, and overall enjoying our time together. I don't need super elaborate, fancy dates, or for you to look like you just walked out of a Calvin Klein ad. But if you do, obviously I won't complain.

9. I am human, so there are some things that matter that I guess are superficial. Number one, fingernails. I'm itchy just thinking about guys who have super long, dirty fingernails. Please, just clip them. I am not asking you to use cuticle oil and to decide if you like a round or square cut (that would be just weird) but please, clean your nails. Secondly, teeth. If they look like they haven't been brushed, I just can't handle it. Also, gingivitis is a infection of your gums, so you can't just say they are naturally red and puffy. Those two things are basic hygiene. And naturally, body odor and greasy hair fall into the hygiene category.


My dating horror stories:

My date opened the door for me. Then said, "Got your door because I'm a f$#king G!" I still ask myself why I even got in the car.

My date and I got coffee and then went to a park where he went to his car and took off his shirt and said "I've been running a lot lately" and stared at his abs. When I clearly wasn't interested he said, usually when I do this, everyone at the park stares. Because you look like a tool. Oh, and because it was about 60 degrees outside.

This guy asked me out, and in the text addressed me as "babers." Maybe if I had known you longer than five minutes and if you hadn't stolen my number out of the computer system at your work, but even then "babers" is just wrong. And did I mention he stole my number out of the computer system at his work?

My Wednesday wish: that these tips help some girls. Also, be free to share your horror stories in the comments because everyone loves to hear them and I want to know that worse things have happened than what I listed above.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Link up with Anne over at Love the Here and Now and share what you are wishing for this Wednesday.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

wordsuponwordsuponhope


A while ago, I told myself if I ever wrote a memoir, I would call it wordsuponwordsuponhope. I never could tell people why this title made so much sense to me, it just did. I felt like it needed no spaces, because when I discovered writing I didn’t pause and think. I charged into it full force. I wrote quickly and with passion, all the words spilling on top of each other.

Yesterday was a super busy day, and I had no time to stop and write. I had about a 30 minute window of relax time, and I decided to spend it in Barnes and Noble. I am OBSESSED with Barnes and Noble. It’s like a fairytale land to me, I gently touch the books as I pass, feeling the covers, the raised letters, realizing this is not a dream but a wonderful store. I wish I loved libraries equally, but truly, I like to keep a book forever. It’s the one thing I’m greedy about, once I’ve read something cover to cover, it’s become a part of me, and I have to keep it.

I deciding to wander over to the writing section, and look up the art of writing memoirs. I had found so many great books when an employee came up to me and said, “If you haven’t read Stephen King’s On Writing, you should.” Trusting her recommendation and the certainty in her voice, I bought it. It cost 16 dollars, which for a poor college student, that’s like 50 meals (just kidding, but seriously) and I sat down outside and began to read. Stephan King says in the book, “writing isn’t life, but I think sometimes it can be a way back to life.”
 
And suddenly the title to my memoir made sense. Writing wasn’t the reason I was living, but living was the reason I needed to write. Write out each part of my story, discovering my purpose with each journal entry. The reason I needed to equally spill all of my stories and truths among blank white pages, the reason I was eager to share with others.


Writing has made me feel safe, and comforted, and helped me express things I could never accurately say aloud. Writing has connected me to the most amazing people.


Writing is an art that makes time pause for a while. It freezes the most precious or most tragic of moments. Writing is a gatherer of perfect words, laced together in perfect sentences, for everyone to see. Writing is like a photograph that seals more than just a moment, it makes you feel deeply what may have been buried for so long.  Writing makes us look beyond a face, beyond a skin color, social status, or religion. When you strip everything away and decide to look at things exactly as they are, that is honest writing. Writing for me is believing in the power of words. Believing in the power of myself.

I truly think anyone could write how they are feeling, and if you allow yourself to be raw and open, your writing could not possibly be bad. That’s what I wish I could tell everyone who doesn’t write. If you don’t tell your story, someone else does. If you don’t express your thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams, someone else assumes them for you. We have all had a time where we have waited for our feelings to be validated by someone, we have all had a time where we didn’t feel like we were being honest, or a true lead in our own lives. Writing is that second chance to express all those things, and instead of being in the shadows, you are the author, beaming in the spotlight.

I am so grateful for writing and for being the author to my story.

Wishing everyone a beautiful Tuesday xoxox

Monday, July 14, 2014

Risk it all

Today, I am so grateful for moments of inspiration. With that statement, I want to make an honest confession. I think moments of inspiration can be fleeting, and as a blogger it can be difficult to remember why I started this whole thing. When I started blogging, it came from this moment of knowing I needed to contribute, put something out there and take a chance. With the distractions of everyday life and wanting to keep up with the ever-evolving blogging world, it is sometimes hard to remind myself that I started this blog with hopes that are so much more than cute layouts and trendy topics. But luckily, writing allows me to go back and remember. I don't think I am the only one who travels back to their first blog post on their worst days, or an old photo, a letter or email. We all wish to hold on to those precious moments a little longer. The moments of inspiration that lead us to believe in taking the dive, even when we couldn't see what was below. 

When I was in a photography class in my second year of college, my teacher would tell me, that the story of the photo isn't in the object that's in focus or taking up the majority of the frame, it's in the things that are out of focus, the objects you didn't give a second chance until you take the time to really look.

I am choosing to look at my life in the way my eccentric photography teacher described a picture to me, I may not always get take notice of the tiny details, but they are what hold the frame together. The moments of inspiration may be fleeing, but we can always return to them. And most of all, the beauty of life is worth capturing. Each and every day. 

When I first began blogging, I had a lot of doubts. I felt like I wasn't getting traffic and I didn't have a rhythm to my posts. In the women's restroom at my school was this note. Among all the other crude words and obnoxious drawings, these three words, this little detail that was out of focus, caught my attention. I captured it. I am reminded each day to risk it all, and on my most difficult days, this tiny piece of inspiration reminds me why I began blogging in the first place. It's a risk that has so much more reward. And it has connected me to all of you.


Wishing everyone a wonderful Monday. xoxo

Link up with Emily for Grateful Heart Monday at www.embergrey.com.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday to Saturday

This week has been pretty sweet ( see what I did there?) It began with a girl's night with my lovely friends where we ate and laughed too much. Sprinkles cupcakes is literally my weakness. We also went to the Polaroid museum, and I met an older man, Andy Warhol, in wax figurine form. It was creepy cool and clearly he's not interested in me based off of the picture below.























It rained in Las Vegas, which hadn't happened in 125 days. So Lizzie and I danced in the showers and it was a perfectly cloudy day. You can read more about that and my sweet sister in my post Rain or Shine.

I am an avid supporter of cloudy weather.


 
I had some really good food this week at LYFE Kitchen and Market Grille Café. (Also an avid supporter of good food.)
 The falafel at Market Grille is so good, and I decided I want to spend next summer in Greece eating my weight in falafel and hummus.
 
 
I spoiled one of Lizzie's birthday presents this week. Which I do every. single. year. How do people manage to keep presents a secret? If you are my friend, Christmas and your birthday always come two weeks early. By the way, the new backpack was filled with six new tops, and a new dress. Her birthday isn't till July 28th, but she's loving her new clothes anyways.

I donated and sold three giant bags of clothes. I had way too much stuff, and it actually feels really nice to know I actually like what I have in my closet.
I am interning at the Las Vegas Sun this summer, and I was published this week. Which is still surreal and just so awesome.
This picture is terrible quality of the article, but here's the link, http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2014/jul/10/7-things-happen-las-vegas-when-it-rains/


 


our tradition: prayers and hand holding while
waiting to go into the doctor's office.

note left by my sweet sister.
The highlight of this week was definitely spending time with my sister. Celebrating her health, while celebrating what a strong bond we have. I am so blessed. I am realizing this week that every let down gives you a chance to get back up. Every piece of bad news, every change in direction, every single time you misstep is a chance for you to start again and head in your desired direction. If you read, Rain or Shine, you know we were waiting on Lizzie's ultrasound results to see if she had any growths and any unresolved issues. The results came back, and she is healthy and well. Did you hear me breath and sigh of relief? This is a beautiful life, and that simple news is a reminder that things just have a way of working out.


Wishing everyone a beautiful weekend. xoxo

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rain or Shine

I am learning quickly that these appointments with Lizzie will never be easy. Even if there is good news, the uneasiness comes in the waiting moments before the news is told. It’s in those moments that my body just kind of freezes, my thoughts travel to the darkest of alley ways. Yes, I am always praying for the good news, but when I do that I am also reminded of how hard I prayed when we first heard the word cancer. I am reminded of the way Lizzie knees fell out from under her when she heard the news. The screaming, the tears. I am being reminded of all these things while sitting in the waiting room, holding on to Lizzie's hand. 

Once we arrive in the room for Lizzie's ultrasound to see if there has been any growths, it's quiet and awkward. I shift in my seat as I watch the technician carefully examine Lizzie's stomach. The most difficult part is that we don't get to know any results until Lizzie's oncologist reviews it. So for now, I am doing my best to make out what is on the screen. Lizzie looks over at me for some sort of reassurance, so I smile. I am constantly fighting back tears in these doctor's appointments, while constantly holding an unwavering smile for her. 

We finish the appointment and choose a place for lunch. We don't talk about the 'what ifs'. We simply can't. We soak in these moments of being happy and healthy. We make plans for trips, we talk about adventures. We plan as though everything is going to be alright, I've learned that you kind of have to.

It rained and Lizzie and I decided to drive to our first home we can remember living it. It's about 40 minutes from where we live now. We drove past our elementary school, our "mini mart" where we picked out ice cream, we went into a bookstore, and we listened to music. It started to pour, but instead of hiding out in the car, we went to the park my mom took us to all the time when we were kids and we danced in the parking lot. We laughed and took silly pictures. 






It's in the moments of dancing in the rain that I feel God's presence. Him saying, "You know things are going to be okay, I have plans for you two." I feel my sweet Gram who passed smiling and dancing with us. I feel a nod from the Universe. All signs that things are going to be alright. 

Lizzie and I got in the car, our clothes splattered with rain drops, our hair wet, everything slightly messier than before. We laughed and talked some more. I believe in the goodness of tomorrows. I believe Lizzie is going to be alright even if things aren't alright. 

When people ask me, "Well, how do you really know?" 

Because we can dance in a down pour. We can laugh and be silly in a storm. Lizzie posted the picture below yesterday and captioned it "Rain or Shine". And that's how I know. Rain or shine, we've got each other. My sweet sister, you are always shining.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

For my readers

With my blog, I get to see what posts are the most popular. I am so much more than pretty has become the number one post.
Which warms my heart, and saddens me equally, because I know this is a struggling topic for so many. I want to share an updated, but still the same, view.

When I was in Bali, specifically in a city called Lovina, I was appalled by how women were treated. A local woman told me, “Lots of women are raped, or get an STD from their husband.” I asked, “Are they getting married to men who have STD’s?” She replied, “Oh no, the women are cheated on. And when asked about it, the men say it’s because their wives are no longer attractive.”
I walked home that night feeling dirty. The air was thick and hot. Men sat on street corners cat-calling. I ignored them, picking up my pace. One man with a band on his left hand stared me up and down. I got this feeling like, this is all a game for them. Indispensable, interchangeable, my worth only residing in one thing. Typically I get angry, but instead I said and affirmation and a prayer: You are beautiful, but not in the way he is staring at you. In the way your thoughts travel and the way you love others. Dear God, please give the women here the strength to love themselves. To not leave their opinion of themselves with them men resting on the street corners. Please God use me where you need me.”
The next day, I hurried into a local nail salon. The two girls that were working were both 16, both were pregnant. I kept telling them about America in the easiest terms I can, about school, and current issues. But they both kept saying, “You have beautiful face.” When I would say, “You both are so beautiful! And so kind and caring.” They shook their head bashfully, no. A man pulled up in a car outside, and the girls gave him some money. They walked back in, shoulders hunched, head down. I asked if they were in school. “No.” I said, “You can! What do you want to be?” One replied, “We do this.”
And then I realized, the problem lies in how we view ourselves. At some point, we just begin to believe we are worth what people have deemed us to be. We lower our standards. We blame ourselves. We teeter totter this line of being dreamers and being the people others expect of us. The truth is, deep down inside, regardless of how long these girls have lived in this discrimination, they have viable thoughts and dreams and are both so worthy of anything they could possibly want. I cry just thinking about it. It breaks my heart that people give their lives away to others. And when they break, there is no one there to help them mend the pieces, but instead they just break them a little more, until who they are is completely unrecognizable. 
I cannot control what people do. I cannot control what people believe are right and wrong. I cannot control what happens when I travel alone, or when I step in the darkness by myself. 
But I can control what I do. I can cling tightly to my beliefs of right and wrong. I can display strength and certainty. And when thrown into situations where there seems to be an overwhelming darkness, I can remind myself, I am the light.
Those young girls in Bali etched a place in my heart. I have continually prayed for them. I have prayed for their future babies, that maybe the world will be a bit different. Maybe those babies will stand taller and be proud of who they are, not letting anyone else decide for them. 
The solution is simple. We must love ourselves. We must support each other, and realize each day that we are all incredible humans, capable of incredible things. We must realize that the hurtful words and actions of others are worthless if we can truly accept and love ourselves. 
My challenge for you readers today is to comment below what you love about yourselves and what you want to achieve. What mark you want to leave on the world. You can write words of encouragement, or what you do to remain true to yourself. This is a place for sharing and supporting friends. But most of all, it begins with loving and acknowledging what a wonderful person you are. Today my heart is so grateful for all of you.
 
What I love about myself: My drive and determination. I want to use my voice as a platform to better the world. I believe that everyone has a purpose and that the world is a better place when we remain true to ourselves.


Share below and also stop by Emily's Grateful Heart Monday over at embergrey.com. 


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