Journey: Week Five

Stop trying to be someone you’re not.

"One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you."

This theme strongly ties into week three’s “Stop Lying to Yourself”. Clearly if one stopped lying to themselves, they’d be able to stop trying to be someone they’re not.

To be perfectly honest—I did learn something during week three. Something I have needed to stop lying to myself about which in turn will enable me to stop trying to be someone I’m not. I’m scared to say it, because I know plenty of people will judge me for doing so, but: I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and I wholly believe in God. I hide that from a lot of people because I don’t want them to look down on me, think I’m weird, or lump me into the “annoying Christians” category. Well, now the cat is out of the bag!

The thing is, about two years ago I had a very wild roller coaster ride at a church. Since then I put religion on the back burner and was always scared to bring it back into my life. Well, now I have and I’m happy I did. This doesn’t change who I am though, and if you think it does, I’m sorry.

So, I guess this really isn’t trying to “stop being someone I’m not” but just simply “being proud about who I am”.


Journey: Week Four

Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.

"The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now."

How appropriate is this as I sit here writing at 3:43AM?? Perhaps I should start with, oh I don’t know, SLEEP?

In all seriousness though? I think I do a pretty darn good job of taking care of myself. Whether it’s making my favorite meal for dinner, or giving myself a time-out from whatever is driving me crazy at the moment. This week’s theme is actually pretty darn ironic because last Friday I decided to treated myself to flowers and Starbucks:

But, really, when I step back to take a look at my life, here is what I see: I have two jobs, both of which I love. (And by the way, how lucky is that?! Not one, but TWO jobs that I actually enjoy. But, I digress…) I’m in school, that’s pretty low maintenance. I have a child, and of course, his needs are always first, but that’s cool with me! I have fantastic friend's and family who remind me almost daily that they are there for me. I'm one lucky woman!

The only thing I want to make an effort to pursue further is my passion for American Sign Language. It's time to start volunteering in the Deaf community and getting much more involved. It’s sad to see the language slowly slip away from me, and I’m determined not to let that happen! Plus, volunteering is good for Karma or something, right?

So cheers to week four, enjoying the little things in life, and following passions!


Work, tornados, and gas!

It started off as a beautiful Tuesday morning with temps in the high 60's. Plus, it was my first day of work! I was SO excited and a little nervous before I walked into my State Farm office...

It got even more exciting and nerve wrecking, though, when we started hearing tornado sirens going off (about an hour after I arrived). Then, after about ten minutes of sirens, we started seeing things like this:

This was taken from my phone WHILE the tornado was passing.

And all of a sudden we hear a lot of people making a commotion out back. So, we go and take a look and see that a tree fell over on the gas line to our building...

Evidently when a gas line is hit you're ordered to evacuate, which we did. For hours. A fire truck showed up (I actually called it the Fire SUV) to square things away while my boss was gracious enough to take my co-worker and I out to lunch (thanks Terrence!!!).

While waiting, though, we drove around and saw a lot of the wreckage (a block away from our office):

Needless to say, when we were finally able to start work sans gas leak and tornado, it was a VERY busy first day back being an insurance agent. PJ and I are both safe and sound, though. Have you ever been through a tornado before? I'd like to hear some stories.


Journey: Week Three

Stop lying to yourself.

"You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves"

I think this is going to be the hardest theme so far. It’s tough to untangle years of webbed emotions, thoughts, opinions, etc. I don’t even know where to start. After sitting here for an hour trying to figure it out (with the TV on, sending/receiving texts, doing homework, playing with PJ, and working online--phew), I realized what I need is some good ole fashion “me” time to think. No computer. No phone. No PJ. No nothing, but me and a piece of paper to write down my thoughts. So, this next week I’m going to be serious about taking some peace and quiet time. If you can’t get a hold of me right away for whatever reason, you know why. It’ll probably be late at night or around noon since the only quiet time I really ever have is when PJ is napping or down for the night.

Here is a (baby) step in the right direction, though: Maybe I don’t hate the snow as much as I originally thought? I mean, it can be beautiful sometimes….

If you're reading this for the first time and are wondering what the heck I'm talking about (journeys and themes--wut??), click here. :o)


Day of Silent Reflection

I'm a few months late posting about this, but better late than never! Back in Dominica my friend Nic organized a day of silent reflection. Now, silent and I normally don't get along great, so I was a little weary-- I didn't want to ruin the trip for the others if I couldn't keep my mouth shut. But, in the end I decided to go and I'm so glad I did!

I have a boat load of pictures to share, so I'll explain what the trip was like and then show the pictures so I don't have to caption each one. Nic had picked out a whole bunch of churches all around Dominica to take the group to. At each church we stopped at, he gave a brief teaching which guided the time of reflection. Once he was done with the teaching, we were welcome to walk around the church, pray, think, take pictures--anything but talk (eek!). I actually found a lot of peace during the day and I'm so thankful to Nic for this experience and for being my friend and personal spiritual mentor during my time in Dominica.

Now, onto the pictures. We visited multiple Catholic churches all over the island and each one was stunning! Check them out:

Church 1
I apologize that I didn't write down the names of these churches!

Brandi Mark and I, aka "the participants". Wait, is something wrong with this picture?

Brandi, Nic and I. Oh, I see it now, I look demon-possessed. In a church. Great.

Church 2

Church 3
The most amazing part of this church was it's beautiful cemetery. Unfortunately I didn't get picture of the inside.

Yes ladies and gentleman, that is a REAL rooster.

This is by far my favorite picture of the day.

And, if you've made it to the end of this ridiculous long post and were wondering-- I DID make it the whole day without breaking silence! Wooo, go me!


Week 2: Gym, Cleaning, Homework

It turns out this week has been about even smaller things than confrontation and sticking up for myself. Those are more long term goals, and yes, I will still work on them.

More practically, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, I feel this theme has been about things such as going to the gym, cleaning my apartment, getting school assignments done…the list could go on and on.

Yesterday I whined on facebook about the fact that I should go to the gym, but really didn’t want to. And I mean, really, really, really didn’t want to. I have some great friends who gave me a lot of encouragement and one friend said: “Don't run from your problems. Face them head on. Go to the gym!” Now, I’m sure there is some sarcasm in there after having read my Week 2 theme (thanks, Todd) but it actually really hit home for me! Facing the problems in life that I really don’t “feel” like or “want” to do is exactly something I need to tackle. Procrastination is such a huge mountain for me! So, I went to the gym. And you know what? I felt really freaking good about it when I got home (you were right about no regrets, Austin!). I still feel great about it. In fact, I think I’ll go again today, and the day after that.

Now about cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and vacuuming, well… still working on “facing” those problems. But, not until later tonight… I really don’t feel like doing it right now.


Journey: Week Two

Stop running from your problems.

"Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become."

I’ve been through a lot in my short 22 years in life, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to be able to roll with the punches. Many times life has dealt me a ridiculous hand which has seemed unfair, unbearable, and just plain mean. In those big problems, though, I feel like I’m able to do well tapping into natural survival instincts and continue on with life. With this theme, it’s the little things I feel that I need to work on facing.

Let’s start with confrontation. Simply put, I hate it! I’ll avoid it at any cost which only ends up causing more problems. It inevitably builds resentment toward the situation/person and is a cowardly thing to do. But, who likes to go up to a person that they have angst towards and tell them things they don’t want to hear? Definitely not me, because I freeze up and choke in the heat of confrontation. I lose my words, and I’m not able to think clearly. It’s always hours later that I think “I should have said THAT”, or, “I wish that I would have said THIS”. To work toward facing this problem, I plan on writing down my feelings (which helps me tremendously when I get choked up on words) and meeting confrontation head on instead of hiding from it. Even if it means taking time to cool off, sit down, think, and re-visiting the situation hours (or days) later. Very scary, but I know I need to do it.

This brings me to my next problem: my inability to stand up for myself. If somebody hurts my feelings, rubs me the wrong way, annoys me, asks too much of me, etc, I tend to shrug it off. I suppose this goes hand in hand with confrontation, because I tend to avoid dealing with it. It can take a toll on relationships (friendship or otherwise), and the person doesn’t even know that they did anything. Eventually I’ll let it go and continue on as if nothing ever happened. Except, something did happen and I need to work toward sticking up for myself. Having a low self-esteem plays a huge part in this issue, so I’m going to try to be more confident and assertive from here on out.

I’ll end with a quote from my favorite movie. “Breathe. Just breathe.” – Danielle in Ever After


Week one: Opportunity Knocks

When I told the universe in my last blog post that I wanted to work on reaching out to people, I guess it really took it to heart. Today it put me through a huge test.

I lost my wallet.

You know, the one with my drivers license, debit card, check book, PJ's social security card, various Christmas gift cards, and my food stamps (which I was depending on for the next month). When I realized that the wallet was missing I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is the last thing that I need right now, and to be honest, I didn't think I could handle the blow.

I got in my car and rushed to Kroger, which is the last place I had it. The lady at the customer service desk assured me that nobody had turned in a wallet. Walking back to my car without it in hand, the mental break down started. What am I going to do for the next month? Everything I need is in that wallet. Food stamps, PJ's social that I was going to take to his school for registration, the gift card to buy my new washer and dryer, everything. Today if someone would have looked up "despair" in the dictionary, you'd have seen a picture of me in that definition.

I got the opportunity to reach out to a lot of friends and family today in my total, utter weakness. I'm not even sure if some people could understand me through the sobs. Regardless, they were there for me every step of the way, assuring me everything would be O.K.

Once I was able to pull myself together I started making the necessary phone calls. The bank first, then the police station. To my surprise, somebody had already put a report in saying that they had turned in my wallet to a local Chase Bank. Immediate hope!

I got in my car, rushed over to the bank, and got my wallet back. Unfortunately the gift cards were all stolen, but the most important things were there. I'm so relieved to be sitting in my new apartment, enveloped in the love and care of friends and family, with hope that maybe, just maybe there is hope for our humanity. Thank you to that person, whoever you are, that turned in my wallet to Chase Bank. You seriously made my entire year (so far).

I'm going to wrap up this post with a quote: "When you ask God for strength, He doesn't just give it to you, but provides you the opportunity to be strong." I suppose that I asked for the opportunity to reach out to people this week, and it came knocking on my door today.

The most important thing that I learned today was "everything" that I "needed" to get by was actually not in that wallet-- I had all of that already. Thank you to my friends and family. And special thanks to my (4 year old) son PJ, who through the day would come and give me kisses, continually reassured me that everything would be "happy". I love you all so much.


Journey: Week One, Day One

Stop spending time with the wrong people.

Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.”

For me, this theme isn’t about who I need to stop spending time with, but actually who I need to start spending time with. Many of you now know that Dave and I decided to go our separate ways. Without having to take a partner of a relationship into consideration I’m left evaluating my friendships. I have a few close friends here in Louisville/Indiana, all of which I love dearly. None I’d describe as “sucking the happiness out of me” or any of the above. All of my other friends are scattered around the world, from Dominica, to Canada, Texas, Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, California, New Mexico… and, well, you get the point.

The thing is, I tend to try and deal with hard times all by myself. And, when I need emotional support from friends/family I see it as a weakness so I withdraw which ends up isolating myself further. So, it’s not that I need to “stop spending time with the wrong people” but I have to start reaching out more to these awesome people that are already a part of my life. I need to curb my prideful weakness of trying to do everything by myself, denying the fact that I need help sometimes.

So, this week I'm going to work on that. When I'm feeling particularly crappy I'm going to do my best to pick up my phone, or even set up some Skype calls.

I’ll keep you posted.


Another Journey

Without getting into too many details, I’m going through a huge transition in life right now. That said, I have decided to take on a pretty big personal journey. Let me explain.

My Aunt Tracey sent me an email today which read “You have to read this blog”, with a link attached. The vague message immediately piqued my interest, so I checked it out. The title of the post caught me off guard: “30 things to stop doing to yourself”. As I read it beginning to end I was left with a mix of emotions; hope, sadness, encouragement, unsure, but most of all, curious. If I really take these 30 pieces of advice to heart, will it actually change my life? 

With my life what it is right now I figure there really can't be any harm in trying. So, I have decided to take the next 30 weeks and challenge myself. I’m going to use each of the topics as a weekly theme and see how my life changes. I’ll share here what I experience, or don’t experience, what helped, what didn’t help, what changed me, what didn't, and simply just be as transparent as possible. I hope that I’ll come out a better, stronger, transformed person by the end.

Today starts the first week, and the first topic to work on-- but I'll post more about that tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

P.S. If you're going through a particularly rough spot in life, or even just want to try to better yourself, I highly suggest reading that blog post. Thanks for the awesome find, Aunt Tracey!

P.P.S. For the people reading about this Journey for the first time and want to get caught up starting at week 1, I'll be updating this weekly: