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Monday, April 17, 2017

15for17

When I was studying abroad and felt this overwhelming obligation to live my life to the fullest and recognize the sheer grace and forgiveness I had been granted, I wrote a list.
It started as little notes, things I wish I could have said to my teenage self while I was hurting, lost, scared, and searching. The list was everything I had learned and every bit of love and light I had picked up along the way.
I didn't know all the beauty that was coming my way and all the beauty that was already in front of me and was being overlooked. Sometimes reflection doesn't happen until the tough (and wonderful) moments pass us.
I was never sure whether I would share my list- it's personal on deep levels and feels very much "mine". But my struggles were not singular. They still aren't.

Here is my list: 15 Things I Would Tell my 17-Year-Old Self.


1. Say what will otherwise make you sick to keep inside. Holding back your truth will make you feel worse than it could anyone else.

2. Don't let insults and shame be rent-free tenants in your one and only home. You are enough. Say that phrase often. There is something you need that only you carry. (I know-that's complicated stuff). Loving yourself as you are will be the toughest and most rewarding job you have.


3. Make a list of what you want to be and I can promise you "pretty" and "skinny" won't come before kind, honest, empathetic, driven, adventurous, genuine, and brave. Make a list of people you adore and why you adore them and I can promise you "pretty" and "skinny" do not make the list.


4. Listen to your guidance counselors when they say you are important and can do hard things. One day, you'll know it to be true.


5. Enjoy the time you don't pay rent, bills, and tuition. Enjoy the time where you *think* you have cellulite and are clueless about W-2 forms and car payments.


6. I wouldn't change what is going to happen to you but I would be lying if I didn't say sometimes, it's too much for even our fierce frame.


7. That being said, there are moments I am so eager for you to sit in. I can't even sum them up for you. They are magic and forgiveness and radical love, wrapped into one. You'll get it when it comes to you but until then, I'll tell you: this life of yours is without a doubt the most beautiful gift you'll ever receive. Not everything has to make sense to work out in the end. Clarity and time will bring you understanding that no one was trying to hurt you- you can't expect someone to be your life raft when they are also drowning. (Can I tell you something? When you are treading water for what feels like years, place your feet down. The ground is closer than you think. Stand tall, my sweet.)


8. This year reveals what you have always known- he's sick. The apology doesn't come. The wounds from his absence don't heal in one summer. They don't heal while you stare at his empty seat the first, second, thirdfourthfifthsixth Thanksgiving. You are more than the glass in his hand. You are more than tiny white pills and decisions that shatter a family. Longing for someone and losing them are two heartaches you'll revisit often. The good news? You get stronger with every season.


9. When you retreat to your room to write and tell yourself, "it's just a hobby"- you're wrong. You are a talent. Sing praise to yourself like your mother does in your birthday cards. The voice you are hushing? That's yours, my dear. You are the goodness of your own story so write it.


10. When your sister is in the hospital and you stare at her wondering if you could lose her forever, when you wash her hair in the shower and hold on to it a little longer because the doctors said The Word, when you drive through Red Rock and stop at the overlook to scream at the top of your lungs because someone, somewhere has to hear you, my goodness, I wish I could hug you as I write this. Because everything will be okay and sometimes it won't. You'll spend the next few years holding your breath every time she hurts or gets sick. You'll learn about the fragility of life and the art of handling it more carefully. Lizzie proves to be everything that hope and redemption are made out of. So when she looks at you from her bed of tangled wires, beeping monitors, new scars and says, "Kate, I'm still so lucky" - believe her.  


11. In high school, you and your friends will have sleepovers and talk about dream homes with his and her sinks and how you'll have a sweet hubby by 22... I'm here to break the news: you don't get married by 22.
23 isn't looking so hot either. But, your early 20's are a beautiful adventure even with a ring-less left hand. (Also, Ryan Gosling gets married in 2014 so you can let go of that dream).


12. You'll find your faith in the mundane. It's not always where you would think to look. You learn the most about words and the weight of them by living in a country where you don't speak the language. You will feel the power of forgiveness on damp cliffs of Ireland. You will share some of your most meaningful conversation drinking out of old pasta sauce jars with a new friend. Your mom's hugs will prove to be the safest place to retreat and rest. The little moments reveal the biggest truths.


13. Let go of what is too heavy to hold on to.


14. You spend so much time feeling too big for your body and too wordy for those who just stare blankly and too forgiving for those who reserve their apologies and too emotional for people who never cry. Just be. Be all those things because it's who you are. Be the girl that cries when a stranger is hurting, be the girl that forgives because you've been given radical grace and you know all are deserving, be the girl that doesn't judge because you learned a long time ago that people and their lives don't have to look like your own to be worthy. Be the girl that doesn't turn down a chance to listen. Be the girl that ignores the world when it claims you are a little "too" much of anything.


15. You are loved beyond measure so love back beyond measure.  Live in the blessings spoken to you. Be kinder than necessary. I wouldn't change a thing about this life of ours because *spoiler alert* everything unfolds just as it should.


Thank you for reading my novel of a list. If you liked mine, check out the beautiful, vulnerable women that shared theirs too,15for_.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Questions we can stop asking ourselves



Lately, life has felt big and constantly adjusting and weird. It has also felt equally wonderful and full and livelier than ever. I’ve been asking a lot of myself. I’m on the brink of graduating *gets up from computer and dances obnoxiously*, I’m interning for a company I really love, and I’m trying to do right by the six-year-old me who had these big, wild plans that could not be water-downed or altered by anything or anyone.

The only way I know how to get in touch with that six-year-old me is by asking myself what my life feels like when I am in my truth. Not what it looks like. Not if I'm pretty enough, put together enough, buying the best things, doing the right things, painting the picture that I have it all together. Instead, letting it feel what it needs to. Letting myself feel what I need to. Stopping to be gentle with myself and allowing the small and always necessary mistakes to happen.

Today, I decided I would stop asking myself questions that pull me further from the person I innately am. I decided to also write this blog post and make a list- because part of me is sure I am not the only one asking these questions.

 Let’s practice big love and self-care today, here’s to all of you. Xo.

Questions we can stop asking ourselves:

1. What’s wrong with me?
Nothing. Seriously, nothing. If you are asking this, it’s probably because you are either a) going through a tough time or b) giving yourself a tough time. Maybe something in your life needs adjustment, or a completely shift entirely, but that’s life. That’s not you being “wrong”, it’s you being human.

2. Do I/my legs/my arms/etcetcetc look fat in this?
Guess what? Clothes don’t make you weigh any more or less. Some make us appear smaller, some larger. But you are the same body proportions no matter what. Lamenting over something that I can guarantee no one else is noticing is a waste. Also, I LOVE this video and it’s a good watch for those who struggle with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blBlAScyNks

3. Why is everyone doing so much better than me?
I recently started yoga, and my usual you-must-be-the-best-at-this mentality came out. I looked around and saw handstands, backbends, and limbs twisted in positions that hurt me just by looking. So this past class, when I felt my body ask me to please slow down- I did. I laid there. It was awkward for all of 28 seconds. People kept moving. When we got to savasana (fancy word for lying still), I starting crying. I couldn’t help but think as I laid still and quiet, “I so often silence my own needs in order to keep up with some expectation that literally no one is asking of me, but me.” We are only responsible to look at how we are doing and feeling, not in comparison or contrast to anyone else. We have an obligation to our body and our heart, and the care of it is ours and only ours.


from Frances Cannon



4. Why is this* taking so long?
*finding a job, finding a partner, finding the perfect home, figuring out life- the list is endless. And the answer is simply because (and because I have known this to be my truth and the truth of the oldest, wisest people I know): everything is happening in the time it should. Things that are meaningful take time to grow and flourish. Our lives are a giant, mysterious, and often frustrating unfolding and we’ve got to be patient and gracious with it. So enjoy the process of creating what it is you are seeking and you’ll love it all the more when it reveals itself.


image via Pinterest


5. Are he/she/they happy with me?
I mean, sometimes this is valid, but if you aren’t happy with yourself, this question doesn’t matter. You do the best you can. You show up and do things from a place of honesty and empathy and self-respect. And those who will be happy with you are happy. And those who aren’t probably spend too much time stressing on the questions listed above.


Wishing you all the best week filled with moments that make your life feel extra good.



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March: Las Vegas

This post is simple: I am feeling grateful and overwhelmingly proud of the way cities united today. I am hopeful that we can represent what America is: unique, diverse, blended, beautiful. I kept thinking of all the ways I can continue to live a life that makes all feel acknowledged and welcome- and staring at the women, men, and children around me today, I couldn't help but think they were doing the same. Below are photos from the march in Las Vegas. 

There is also a journal entry I wrote a few days after the election that I always felt shaky to share. Maybe it revealed to much about my sensitivity and heartbreak. But what are these lives of ours for if not to be vulnerable and open? 

I hope you enjoy the photos and the post, grateful for each and every one of you that reads this blog of mine! You are the vision and the hope I see for this world. 










This was my uber driver on the way to the walk, Delana. She asked me
march for her and her daughters. She was the kindest woman, who missed
the walk to work for her family. SO much love to this one!



10.10.16 Journal Entry: to those still crying, this is where we take our lives back 


You can cater your life to someone else. Let it rest for so long in their hands it no longer looks like the dreams, hopes, and wonders you had thought about the world. You can give up on the wishes you had said in a whisper. You can be compliant. Ignore the loud call of what you are, what you are capable of. You can hand over all you have, and then all you are yet to have, pockets out-turned and solely lined with lint. You can listen when they say you are selfish. When they hush you, rush you, make you believe you are small, feeble, insignificant. In your last breath of courage, you may say, “this is mine,” looking at the life they mangled, spit on, left unfed. You may play tug of war with what remains. Pulling back and forth, you can decide to fall to the ground. You could stay down.

Or. 

You can get up on tired legs and bruised feet. You can hold so tightly what is yours. Hold your own life and cradle the bundle that could only ever grow in your arms.

And just because we’ve got it figured out now that our lives are our own, that we must be honest and loud about what we want, the work is not done. The work is never done. And the work left is making us fearful. Silence the fear with hope. Go ahead, let your hands tremble as you shake your fists. But shake them. Let your voice break as you use tears to reawaken empathy, compassion, union. 

Link your life with the ones who look nothing like yours. Do we have to speak the same language to feel like we can communicate? Do we have to pray to the same God to all live for something bigger than us? Do we all have to love the same way to know it is the one power to heal? Do we all have to keep referring to the color of our skin or our gender? Checking boxes that we never fit into in the first place?

No. No. No. No. No.

Say the words until the yes-ers finally get that we will never succeed as a nation by cutting the heels of those running with us.

So take your life back. Not just when it feels nice, light, like the sound of the first time you remember hearing your own heartbeat. Not just when it supports you, when what is going on around you doesn’t affect you personally. Take your life back when it’s heavy and the pain causes you to heave. When the weight sits on top of your shoulders and leaves marks of its magnitude. When everyone else is struggling and you realize, that when we said “liberty and justice for all” we didn’t mean that ‘all’ would come in chapters, last only for some, while others tried to hold onto the dust.

What are we supposed to do with all this time and yet so little of it? What are we supposed to do when we were so sure America would sing equality again and now it just lets out a broken moan? What are we supposed to do when the people we love have nowhere to go except to be alone?

We hold them. We hold them like the life of ours we took back. We help others take the oppression off their shoulders. We lift up, up, and up. And when those around us are trying to run with their heels cut and bleeding, we put their arms over our shoulders. We support the brothers and sisters that were never invited to family gatherings in the first place. We love them.


We pick ourselves up and run on the fierce frames they supposed were permanently broken. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

15 Things I am Still Reminding Myself by Taylor Burby




Taylor became a friend of my sister's, and then became a friend of mine, and she pretty much becomes a friend of anyone she encounters. She is kind and deliberate and hilarious. She will listen to anyone's life story and cast no judgment and encourage them to the end. She also wrote this wine-tipsy and then found some mistakes and texted me, "It's like I wrote this drunk or something (I did lolol)." Her heart is gold and you'll read her list and love her. (And possibly attempt writing your own 15 things a little wine-tipsy, clearly it stirs up all the important stuff).

15 Things I am Still Reminding Myself by Taylor Burby

1.       In every sense, you are the master of your own reality.
2.       Your Red String pulls strong---you are destined to meet the most incredible, inspiring people (that you will owe immense gratitude (possibly even your first born)) when you least expect it; a bus ride through the forests of Chile, sitting at Sambalatte across from an “Om Gnome” stickered laptop, a night of lantern lighting in Pai, a coffee shop near the Truckee River, high school.

3.       We are all living different stories. Stop comparing yourself to people on future pages or of different books altogether.
4.       You are not going to a Hell for your mistakes, but are completely capable of/will put yourself through Hell. (Mostly with sex and boys---two things you should probably chill out with, dude. You have a “great ass”, but you are more than a piece of it (PPS DO NOT DO A SINGLE THING EVER BECAUSE OF A BOY)).
5.       Stop looking; it/they will find you. (Especially tarot card readers and stray dogs).

6.       You will regret not showing up to their weddings, nights out, birthdays, graduations, etc. Say yes. Hold onto that yes with a vice grip and show your little face. STOP BEING A FLAKE (you will regret it).

7.       Happiness Pro Tips: Listen to Sunset Lover, practice meditation, hike volcanoes, learn to say no, stop being a doormat, hug your friends (20 seconds” reduces the harmful physical effects of stress”), stop trying to convince yourself you are going into a med program to please your dad (girl, do you remember killing your GPA with that bio grade?), “Be Brave”.
8.       Everything is occurring in good time, just as it should. Learn patience and acceptance.
9.       You’ll hit twenty-one and still make mistakes and feel these struggles. More trips around the sun is not equivalent to a disintegration of your issues, but a transformation of them (check out the conservations of mass and energy for reference). PS this “adulthood” you strive for and glorify is mostly what you are anticipating, but also nothing you could have imagined. The freedom is there and yes, plastering on that tight dress and crying because your heels cause you immense pain while you puke in a too-thin stall because you have the alcohol tolerance of a three-year-old creature and why are you even wearing these fucking things have you never heard of wedges? God damn dancing at a club is great fun, but student loans, empty bank accounts, nights on couches, and broken dreams are real, dude. Be ready for your struggle.

10.   You will not be able to change their mind. Stop trying. You’ve dug your hole deep enough, friend.

11.   KEEP JOURNALING; believe it or not, one day, you’ll be happy to read back and remember how low you felt. Pain that was so encompassing, every inch of you hurt---deep into your bones you ached. You’ll laugh and look to Old Taylor’s internal quarrels, flounders, and consuming anxieties with a love, forgiveness, and knowingness permitted only by time. These things pass and “the sun also rises”, sweet babe.
12.   “You will have a luck coveted by others” (first fortune cookie of 2017). Seriously though. Thank those lucky stars and the graciousness of others that you will survive on.

13.   Please, just go over there. Don’t wait until you’re breathing in the stale smells of death and disinfectant while she rests in that hospital bed, translucent skin tight to frail bones, too weak to speak past a whisper. Soon she will be gone and your regret will linger.
14.   Once you have time to breathe away from the suffocating weight of the people and air that both weigh heavy with beliefs contradicting to what your own heart bleeds, you will find that the discomfort you find in their words is meant to push you towards your own truths. IT IS OKAY THAT YOUR TRUTHS DO NOT MEET THE SAME STANDARDS AND CRITERIA AS OTHERS. 

15.   Most importantly: Ubuntu. We are one.

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