Joy, Kindness, & Confetti

I often find myself continuously searching for who I’m meant to be and what purpose I should be fulfilling throughout my life journey. It’s within these moments – these gut-wrenching soul searches – that I realize that I’m always longing for all the things in my life that have ever brought me joy. The contagious laughter amongst friends at jokes that don’t make sense to anyone else but us. The excitement that takes over my soul when someone tells me they finally got that dream job or that they finally found the person of their dreams they’ve been searching for. The moment when they find out they’re finally being blessed with a small little bundle of joy that they’ve been praying for, or maybe, they finally booked that plane ticket for that lifelong vacation they’ve been pining for. Maybe the waiter accidentally messed up their order and miraculously graced them with 3 tacos instead of 2, or maybe they just spent an entire afternoon cuddling the cutest puppy they’ve ever laid eyes on.

It’s in the “let’s go on an adventure” moments with those nearest and dearest to my heart that spark a fire within me that is constantly craving more. More explorations of new places bound to teach me a new way of life. More meetings of new faces just waiting to instill new knowledge into my ever inquisitive mind. More lessons to be learned from our greatest teacher: life. More chances to take, far more mistakes to be made, and even better memories to be created that are sure to transpire into some unforgettable ones.

I long to never let myself forget the joys of these precious moments in life. I aspire to hold onto them for as long as I possibly can. All the while remembering that they won’t last forever.

This world can be a cruel place. It can become extremely difficult to focus on even the smallest amount of joy when all we’re ever exposed to is the hatred. The sadness. The undeniable heartbreak of what it can mean to be a beautifully broken, but perfectly flawed human. We can allow ourselves to feed into all the bitterness. We can allow ourselves to let others steal our joys. We can allow ourselves to feel defeated. We can allow ourselves to be unhappy and miserable.

Or, we can do the exact opposite. We can allow ourselves to feed into all the joys and happiness that life can offer us. We can be kind. We can treat kindness like it’s confetti and sprinkle it all over the place, no matter where we go. When faced with animosity from others, we can choose to rise above. We can smile and say hi to strangers. We can spread our contagious laughter for everyone to hear. We can live our lives honestly and optimistically simply by choosing to do so.

In all the wondrous beauty that this great, big Earth has to offer us, I hope that you can find your joy, whatever it may be, and hold onto it for dear life.

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Anticipating the Unfamiliar

Anticipation (noun) – defined by Merriam-Webster as the “act of looking forward.”

Example: “She looked forward to the future with anticipation.”

This particular word can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What does anticipation mean to you? Is it a significant life event due to take place soon? Maybe it’s a new job, a new house, a new child, or a new pet? Something that’s exciting and gladly anticipated because you know that there will be some goodness that will come out of it?

When I think about anticipation, I usually associate it with something good. I’m not sure why, but I just always have. As a child, I eagerly anticipated the last day of school because I knew I’d get a 3-month break of summer. I eagerly anticipated that weekend in June full of my three dance recitals because it gave my friends and I the chance to show our family and friends our routines that we had worked so hard on all year. I eagerly anticipated family beach vacations in the summer and just about anything Christmas related in the winter.

As I grew up, that view of anticipation stayed with me. I eagerly anticipated learning how to drive, graduating high school, then college, and finally, graduate school. I eagerly anticipated getting that dream job, moving away from home, and living in a state that actually had weather for all four seasons. Now, I find myself eagerly anticipating the future ahead, although I literally have no idea what it entails.

I often ask myself “Why so eager? Why the rush?” I constantly have to remind myself that patience is, in fact, a virtue. I look back on certain things in my life and wonder why I was always in such a rush to move forward. It makes me wish that I would have enjoyed those moments a little bit more, instead of always wondering what was going to lie ahead. To this day, I find that I’m constantly seeking more out of life that will offer me a bigger sense of fulfillment, even though I can’t exactly figure out what that may be.

I’ve always eagerly anticipated the familiar – the easy plans that I knew were attainable and safe. Everything that I knew was comfortable for me. I think for most of us, that level of anticipation is easy because those things will likely go exactly how we expect them to, if we play our cards right. It’s when they don’t, that that anticipation and excitement dissipates, and we’re faced with adversity to overcome. This is when the real lessons sink in because we’re forced to deal with the unfamiliar and the unexpected. This can be terrifying, but absolutely necessary.

Now, I’m completely adjusting to life in terms of eagerly anticipating the unfamiliar. It’s a strange feeling – coming full circle and constantly searching within myself for the person that I want to become. I no longer eagerly anticipate the familiar because I know that growth won’t occur there. It’s in the unfamiliar. In the faces of the people you have yet to meet. In the places you have yet to go. In the adventures you have yet to take. It’ll all challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and live a little. It’ll help you figure out who you’re meant to be.

So, instead, I just do my best to live in the moment and trust that whatever is meant to be for me in this life will be. I trust the process, the mistakes I’ve made, and the experiences I’ve gone through. I’m trusting the unfamiliar, and I’m embracing it.

No more timelines. No more pressure. No more eager anticipation of what’s familiar to me.

Just trust, patience, and faith in the unfamiliar that’s bound to come my way.

This Is The Indisputable Beauty of Being Vulnerable

It’s been said to lean not on your own understanding.
Yet, in life, that is all we do.
We trust that we know what’s best for us.
Our hearts.
Our souls.
Our lives.

We often dismiss the opinions of others,
Especially in times when we need to hear their brutal honesty the most.
For what good is an outsider’s perspective anyway?
They don’t know us like we know ourselves,
But, they most certainly think they do.

Only the glimpses we want them to see are seen.
They don’t know our scars.
They don’t know our fears.
They don’t know our deepest secrets.
They don’t know our biggest dreams.
They only know what we’ve allowed them to.
They only know the things that we’ve deemed safe to share with them.
They don’t need to know our real truths, likely because we’re not sure if we want to face those truths ourselves.
We’re not sure that we want to let others in.
It’s so easy to turn inward when faced with trials and tribulations in life.
Often times, it’s necessary because we feel so safe there.
It’s comforting and familiar.

Why, then, is it sometimes hard to reach outward?
What holds us back from being our true selves around others?
Are we still trying to figure ourselves out?
Are we too afraid to be brutally honest with ourselves?
Are we scared of what we may recognize when we take a good, hard look in the mirror?

The answer is simply: yes, to all of the above.
We don’t see the need to burden others with our troubles, so we tell ourselves that we can handle it.
We tell ourselves that it’s all going to be okay because we’re strong.
We bottle up our emotions and our struggles, until one day it all just becomes too much, and we realize that we can’t always handle it.
We realize that somehow, we’ve lost ourselves through it all.
We don’t fully recognize ourselves anymore, and we don’t know what to do.
We realize that if we can’t truly get to know ourselves, then we can’t exactly expect others to get to know us, either, can we?

We realize that we may actually need to rely on someone other than ourselves, and the thought of that can be slightly terrifying.
Maybe we’re not ready to face that.
Maybe we’re not ready to be that vulnerable because we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that it’ll make us seem weak.
Maybe we don’t want to experience familiar hurt again.
Maybe we just genuinely think we know what’s best for ourselves, but the fact of the matter is that we’re just too stubborn to admit that we could be wrong.
Vulnerability can be a beautiful thing because it allows us to be truly open and honest with others and ourselves.
It forces us to grow stronger, and it encourages us to truly get to know ourselves better.
It brings us closer to being our truest selves.

Because it’s when we let our walls come down, that we allow others to bring light into our lives.
We allow them to bring us hope.
We allow them to bring us inspiration,
While also knowing there’s that risk of being vulnerable.

Yet, that’s a risk worth taking.

The only question is: are you ready to take it?

27 Undeniable Truths I’ve Learned in 27 Years

  1. People are going to disappoint you at some point in your life. Be prepared to face it.
  2. No matter how hard you try to plan things out, nothing in life is ever going to turn out exactly how you want it to. Accept it and continue to build off of your setbacks.
  3. Don’t judge someone based strictly upon a first impression. Be fair to them and yourself by giving them a chance. It could turn out to be a friendship or relationship that’ll last a lifetime.
  4. The career you’ve envisioned for yourself since you were a child may not be the career you end up in as an adult. This is okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
  5. Resentment toward those who hurt you in your past is detrimental to your own self-healing. Just let it go and leave it in the past.
  6. There are some emotional wounds that will truly never go away, and that is okay. The best thing you can do is to just learn to live with them, but don’t let them hinder your ability to live a full life moving forward.
  7. Seeking therapy from a counselor is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit, and could likely benefit from it themselves.
  8. You’ll gain a newfound respect for your parents once you’ve become an adult. With that comes a lot of guilt for being a royal pain in the butt to them in your earlier years, but they’ve likely forgiven you and forgotten all about it.
  9. If you’ve lost loved ones in your life, know that you will grieve them forever, and it’s completely okay. Anyone who says you should be over it already clearly has no idea what grief really feels like.
  10. You cannot grow in life if you only stay within your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to get out of it.
  11. Taking a leap of faith by moving to a new city where you hardly know a soul is terrifying, but exhilarating all at the time. I promise you’ll be happy that you did it.
  12. You will get homesick, and that is okay. You’ll be incredibly grateful for the invention of FaceTime, thanks to Apple, and you’ll learn to truly cherish your time with your loved ones when you’re all together.
  13. It is completely okay to outgrow places and people. Don’t feel guilty about it.
  14. The decisions you make for yourself in life may not always be understood by your closest family and friends, but they’ll support you anyway.
  15. Stop apologizing for being who you are, and stop analyzing every insecurity or flaw you may have. If you do this, then you’ll never be truly happy with yourself.
  16. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay in by yourself on a Saturday night while all of your friends are out. We all need time to ourselves more often than we care to admit.
  17. If you find that someone or something is incredibly toxic to your well being, let them go, no matter how hard you convince yourself that it may be.
  18. Bucket lists are important. Make one and make it a priority to achieve all the items on your list. You don’t necessarily need to put a timeline on it, either. Just get to them as you can.
  19. Your heart is going to be broken on more than one occasion. Do your best not to judge the next person that comes along, strictly based upon those you’ve dated in the past. This isn’t easy, I know, but you owe it to yourself to give them a fair chance.
  20. If you have a desire to travel, figure out a way to make it happen, even if it’s only once a year. Exploring new places will give you a sense of fulfillment that you won’t be able to get through anything else.
  21. Talk to someone from a different culture, different religion, etc. to gain new perspectives in life. Being culturally aware is so important in this day and age.
  22. Spend time with kids. Although they can be exhausting, giving yourself a chance to look at the world through the innocence of a child’s eyes can make you realize what’s really important.
  23. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. If they do, just do everything in your power to prove them wrong.
  24. Don’t give all of your time and efforts to someone who doesn’t love you back. Chances are they don’t know your worth, nor do they have respect for you. You deserve better. Remember that.
  25. Do something that scares you, whatever it may be. You’ll be so proud of yourself in the long run.
  26. Stop telling yourself that you should have your life all figured out by now. This isn’t 1953 anymore. You’re not expected to be married with multiple kids. Kick ass at whatever you’re doing now, and the rest will all fall into place when it’s meant to.
  27. Love yourself, unconditionally. After all, you’re stuck with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year, for the rest of your life. It is by far the most important relationship you have in your life, and the foundation upon which you will build everything else. Love yourself first, so that others can love you, too.

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They take what isn’t theirs.

They’re careless and non-remorseful.

Vulchers eager for a quick fix,

no repercussions for their actions,

Or for the chaos they cause.

 

Yet, the victim is the one who suffers.

One who stays silent out of fear.

The critics will arise.

Voice their opinions about what should’ve been done.

As if they know the real truth.

but, they don’t.

 

They’re living in glass houses throwing stones.

Unwilling to understand a reality that isn’t theirs.

The truth is hard to face these days.

It’s easier to avoid anything that comes close to being unbelievably real.

Anything that forces efforts of deep thinking.

A thinking that isn’t recycled.

Thinking that actually involves searching the soul.

One that requires being a decent human being.

 

The critics?

Oh, they will fade in time.

As will the vulchers.

After all, they have to live with themselves.

 

Yet, the victim.

The victim will always rise,

and share the real truth.

 

And at last, the world will listen.

Unwritten Love Story

Your heart is kind.

Your smile is genuine.

Your soul is beautiful.

Your faith in what’s to come is unfailing.

 

You heart has been broken.

It has been tested many times.

It has faced moments of darkness,

and it has overcome them.

 

Your smile. Oh, that smile.

It gets me every time.

Yet, it hides some pain.

Old wounds that you keep inside.

 

Your soul is unlike any other I’ve ever known.

It connects so deeply with my own.

Like it was always meant to be mine.

 

Your faith is relentless.

Your hope for the future is inspiring.

You make me want to be better.

To love better.

To live better.

 

You make me believe in an endless love.

One for all eternity.

Our story to be shared,

yet it’s still being written.

 

It hasn’t even begun.

Only time will tell until we cross paths.

And when we finally do,

our souls will catch fire.

 

And suddenly, every doubt we’ve ever had will vanish.

For our love story is bound to be breathtaking.

 

The Seventeenth of November

November 17th. A date that used to not have much significance in my life, that is, until 2008 came along. It was a Monday during my very first semester of college. My mom called me, gave me the news, and told me to immediately call my dad. I don’t remember much of either of those conversations other than feelings of complete sadness and lots of tears. The only grandmother that I had ever really known was gone.

By Thursday, my sister and I were on a plane headed north to meet our dad. There was a wide range of emotions that ensued within the following days. Sadness, guilt, and anger were at the top of my list for various reasons. Yet, it was bittersweet and intriguing to go back to the place where my dad grew up. A place that I hadn’t seen in years. Memories and laughs were shared. Two very Southern Louisiana girls experienced real snow that stuck to the ground for longer than an hour. My cousin made fun of me for wearing boots in November, since “real boot season didn’t happen until at least January.” We saw the beauty of Niagara Falls, ate pizza from a restaurant named “New Orleans Pizza,” and learned a thing or two about what it means to be Canadian.

Despite the circumstances that brought us there, it turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had.

Sadness and heartbreak can lead to brighter days, which brings me to my next point of why I’m writing about the further significance of November 17th:

World Prematurity Day.

In case you didn’t know, premature birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. The preterm birth rate in the United States worsened to 9.6 percent in 2016. This occurred for the first time in eight years. The mission of World Prematurity Day is to bring awareness to the health issues faced by these little fighters, along with offering support to the parents and families of those affected.

So, why am I talking about this?

Let me introduce you to me, circa 27 years ago:

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I was born at 27 ½ weeks. I weighed 2 lbs. 3 ½ oz. at birth. The doctors told my parents they weren’t sure if I would make it past the first 24 hours. Back then, survival that early wasn’t always likely.

I spent 77 days in the NICU until I could finally go home.

I have a scar on my back from the heart surgery I had to undergo for patent ductus arteriosus. For the longest time, my mom always tried to convince me to get it covered up somehow. It brought back bad memories for her, and probably still does. Yet, I always remind her that it’s a battle wound that isn’t going anywhere. It’s part of the reason that I’m alive today.

…You see, my story has somewhat of a happy ending, even though it’s still being written.

There are families out there who aren’t always so lucky. Some preemies don’t survive, no matter how hard their little bodies try to fight. Some are born with severe and irreversible birth defects. Some may live, but they may not ever be able to walk or speak. They may not ever be able to live a full, vibrant life.

They may not always end up like me.

And that’s a huge reason why I’ve started to bring more awareness to this issue, as I’m getting older. I’ve gained a different perspective of it from working in healthcare, along with knowing people personally that have been, or are currently in, the same situation as my parents were 27 years ago.

These little ones can’t speak for themselves. They’re too busy fighting just to stay alive. They’re fighting to beat the odds stacked against them. They can’t tell you how you can help, which is where people like me come in. I encourage you to learn more about World Prematurity Day by visiting the March of Dimes. You can view their website for volunteer opportunities at your local office, participate in your local March For Babies walk, or you can simply donate at the below link:

https://www.marchofdimes.org/giving/support-general.aspx

Because of people like you and me, we can give these little ones a fighting chance.

Remember the 17th of November.

Maybe now it will have some significance to you, too.

Keep on keeping on, and be kind to one another, y’all.

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