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.

 

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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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“Reel Life” vs. Real Life 

So, here’s the thing: you look at the world around you and wonder where you fit in. You ask yourself: Who am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to do? Why am I here? Will I ever be successful in life and love?

…what’s my purpose?

Any of those questions ring a bell to you? Maybe you’ve asked yourself these questions a time or two or ten thousand in your life. Maybe you’re asking yourself these questions right now, and you can’t come up with a solid answer for any of them.
These questions started popping up into my mind recently based upon conversations I’ve had and things that I’ve observed lately. And do you know the main thing that brought up all these questions in my head?

Yep, that’s right. SOCIAL MEDIA.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “oh this girl is going to talk about how bad social media can be, yet here she is writing on a social media platform.” Yes, I do, in fact, get the irony, but, for me, writing is more of a creative outlet. An escape from the chaos of everyday life. It has been since I was about 15. I write because it helps me ease my mind. I don’t really know how to explain it. In all honesty, these posts always start off as random arrays of notes on my phone when I’m trying to fall asleep at night (and clearly failing miserably at it), and if I feel its worth sharing with people, then I’ll post it. If someone happens to read it and it helps them, great! If it doesn’t, that’s fine, too. At least I got it all off of my chest, out of my mind…however you want to say it. At least it’s given me some clarity. A chance to allow me to do some serious self reflecting and healing.

I lie awake some nights because my body just won’t rest until my mind does, and my mind has been telling me to become more in tune with myself. To start doing little things to improve my self happiness. You see, I’ve found myself consumed lately with scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, Facebook, etc. and just comparing my life to the filtered “highlight reels” that I see of my peers and their lives. Or the lavishing lifestyles of the rich and famous. It all just seems so enchanting.

“Wow, their life is so much cooler than mine.”

Yeah, it all seems so incredibly amazing…until I stop and really think about how ridiculous my perception of it can be. How ridiculous it is to compare myself and my life to others, strictly based upon what they post online. Now I don’t know if all these thoughts are flooding though my mind because I’m adjusting to life in a new city, in a whole different state, well over 500 miles from home. It could honestly be because of my most recent Netflix binge on 13 Reasons Why. I don’t know. Could be anything putting these things in perspective for me, but I’m just gonna chalk it up to one of life’s never ending lessons. I think it’s also because of the fact that I just miss when life was simple. When I truly didn’t have a care in the world. Back when I was just a little girl with ambitious hopes and dreams for my future.

Now, I think I’ve come a pretty long way since being that little girl with ambitious hopes and dreams for my future. Yet, I know that I still struggle now as an adult, especially in regards to loving myself. It can be really hard, at times, and it worries me for the young children of today. Those young children who learn how to use apps like SnapChat at the age of 3. By 12 or 13, they value their self worth strictly by the amounts of likes that they get on their Instagram pictures. It’s no coincidence that bullying rates and suicide rates have sky rocketed in recent years. Shout out to technology for making us all such disconnected individuals who can’t always put our phones down to actually get out and do things that bring our lives meaning and feed our hungry souls.

Honestly, it’s a damn shame. The world we live in today. I often talk about my disdain for the amount of hatred and cruelty in this world. I’ve been told before that I can be a very old soul. There are times when I’m convinced that I was born in the wrong generation. Guess you can’t expect much more from a girl who put “world peace” on her Christmas List when she was 11, right? I’ve always tried to live my life somewhat optimistically because it’s never really made much sense to me to be a constant pessimist. And believe me, I’ve had my share of being a constant pessimist myself, and I didn’t like myself for it. Not at all.My disdain for hatred and cruelty goes hand in hand with my disdain for pessimism. Those miserable people in the world who can’t seem to find happiness within themselves, so they’re just downright mean and judgmental for no good reason. It’s quite sad, really.

Now, I can only hope that I, along with others, can be positive examples for those young children in the world. Although I am not yet a parent myself, I often think of my younger cousins and all that they’ve experienced so far in life. I strive to lead by example and show them that they can be anything they want to be in a world where society tries to dictate who they should be. Show them that kindness and love can get them far in life. That loving themselves is one of the most important things that they can do for themselves. That no one can define who they are. To believe in themselves till no end. That being perfectly imperfect is amazing, and that they deserve great things in life, but they need to expect to work hard to achieve them. To understand that their acceptance and self-worth in this world will never be defined by an Instagram like, a boy, or a job.

The “reel lives” are bullshit. Our real lives are the ones that need to be lived to the fullest because our time here is only temporary, so we might as well make the best of it. So go on out and do things that give your life meaning. Feed your hungry soul, and do so with absolutely no regrets.

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Chaos and the Calm

No surefire feeling.

No certainty.

No predictability. 

No stability.

 

…chaos.

 

Reflection of your younger self. 

When you thought you had it all figured out. 

The world at your fingertips.

Endless hopes. Ambitious dreams. 

 

And then one day, you realize: you’ve changed. 

…calm. 

 

Growth is necessary.

It is warranted to calm the chaos.

To ease the mind.

To set the soul free. 

To reach those endless hopes.

Those ambitious dreams.

 

To make yourself better than you were in your younger years.

Back when you thought you had it all figured out.

Only to one day understand your true self.

To bring you closer to the person that you’re meant to be.

 

Life is your greatest teacher. 

Yet it is relentless in its lessons.

 

Don’t focus on the end result.

Don’t stay stagnant in the past.

Live in the moment.

Cherish the time you have now.

Laugh until you cry.

Or cry until you have nothing left in you. 

 

Be fearless in the way you love.

In the way you live.

In the way you care. 

In the way you dream. 

 

Calm the chaos in your mind. 

In your heart. 

In your soul. 

 

Love unconditionally.

Your family.

Your friends.

Your life.

…yourself.

 

Life is balanced on a razor blade.

Like a double edged sword.

There is no calm without the chaos.

No certainty without uncertainty.

No predictability without unpredictability.

No stability without instability. 

 

Yet, we continue to live.

Despite the chaos.

Above the odds

To reach the calm.

The peace.

The serenity.

To see the beauty of it all.

…even when it seems impossible.

Never Ending Journey 

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It’s Sunday morning. I’m lying in bed, phone in hand, as I jot down an array of thoughts running through my mind. It’s always hard for me to get them all down on paper (or in this case, on “digital paper”), mainly because I over analyze my thoughts before I’m even fully done thinking about them. Makes sense? No? Great, it doesn’t to me either, yet, here I am.

I guess the main point of this is to share how I’ve been feeling lately. The only word that I’ve been able to come up with that I feel best describes it is: surreal. No, I don’t mean surreal as in bizarre. I mean it more in the sense of disbelief, but in a good way. In a “wow, I can’t believe this is really my life,” kind of way. Now, when you read that last sentence, don’t perceive it as a negative connotation by any means; read it with the sound of my voice being overly excited (kind of like how we all felt when our beloved Saints won the Super Bowl 🙂 – & if you’re a Colts fan, then I’m sorry for that reference)

Anyway…read it and hear it with a smile in my voice.

Now, those of you reading this, will fall into one of two categories: 1) you know me quite well and therefore, are well aware of me and my personal life or 2) you don’t really know me at all and are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, and that’s okay. If you happen to be in the latter, let me enlighten you a little bit.

Over the last two years or so, I began a journey of some serious personal and professional growth. On the personal side, I went through some stuff that forced me to face my past, learn some tough life lessons, and move on. My personal struggles and strengths, in turn, led me to the somewhat unforeseen path that I’m currently on today. On the professional side, I channeled my emotional hardships into furthering my career and becoming more successful. I completed an accelerated graduate school program over the course of a year and a half, while working full-time, taking classes full-time, and maintaining a 4.0. Upon graduation, I faced some setbacks, as the job market odds were certainly not in my favor. Que the personal feelings of complete discouragement, depression, frustration, and failure. Once again, I felt stuck in my life, and I absolutely hated it. However, this time was different than the last. I had new goals to achieve, and I just kept reminding myself that my feeling stuck was only temporary. I was going to find my way eventually. I just had to give it some time.

Fast forward to an evening in January, when I finally got a phone call that instantly lifted my spirits. Two days later, I had a phone interview. A few weeks later, I had an in-person interview. Then, a little over a month later, I packed up everything that I could fit into my car and drove eight and a half hours up to Tennessee to start a new chapter of my life.

When I look back on all that I’ve accomplished throughout the last two years of my life, I realize that I couldn’t be prouder of the woman I am today. For me, that is a huge deal to admit that to myself. I am, quite often, my harshest critic. Maybe it stems from insecurities or a fear of being inadequate in many aspects of life. Maybe it’s because someone once made me question my own self-worth. I believe that a lot of it stems from me just wanting to be a better person, in general. I’m finally recognizing that every day of my life is a chance for new opportunities and new life lessons, even on the days when I’m feeling down.

If you’re still reading this and you’ve made it this far into my mini novel, then this is where I’m probably going to get a little more empowering and/or inspirational. My life experiences may be minuscule compared to yours. I don’t know what any of you are going through. Our experiences and perceptions of life will never be exactly the same. Some of you may be having the time of your lives right now. Some of you may be going through some really tough times, and you don’t know if it’s ever going to get better. All I can say to that is this: wear your accomplishments, your pain and your wounds as your armor. As a sign of your strengths. As a reminder of every fear, heartbreak, or struggle you’ve ever had to face and/or overcome. Wear them and wear them proud. Use them as your motivation to keep moving forward, even on the days when it really seems impossible. Just take it one day at a time.

Don’t be ashamed of your past or the person that you used to be. You may not have to wear your past with pride, but at least recognize that it’s played a huge part in getting you to where you are today. You’ve lived it. You’ve learned it. You’ve grown from it. Don’t let yourself be defined by it, and don’t define others based on their pasts.

Instead, embrace it all: every accomplishment, every heartbreak, every fear, every struggle, especially your past. Take it all in, and immense yourself into whatever feeling you need to feel on any given day. Just remember to keep on keeping on and look forward to what’s coming next. Life is a never ending journey. The path that you’re on right now may end up surprising you in a few years…

Yet, you’ll never truly know where it may take you until you give it a try, right?

 

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

The Absence of Fear

Have you ever taken a step back and deeply thought about all of the moments in life that scared you? Do you look back on those moments and realize that, in the big picture, your reasons for being scared were pretty insignificant?

If you said yes to either one of these questions, then know that you are not alone. I completely understand how you feel, and I’m sure most of our peers will agree. It’s a common occurrence to be scared every now and then. Let’s face it: we wouldn’t be human if we were completely immune to fear all the time.

I’ve been reflecting on my life quite a bit lately, and I’ve been thinking about certain moments in my life that I most definitely thought were going to make me or break me. I look back on those moments when I let my own fears and insecurities hold me back from living the life that I wanted for myself, and to be honest, it makes me a little sad for the girl that I used to be. The girl that lived her life constantly worrying about things and analyzing how every single action could lead to the next and so on and so forth. The girl who was way too concerned about what other people thought. I would ultimately talk myself out of doing something that I wanted because I had convinced myself that I couldn’t do it, simply because I was too scared. Or, oftentimes, because I listened to the opinions of others and failed to follow my own heart.

I went through this very recently when I was offered an amazing opportunity that I had been dreaming of for well over the past year. When the opportunity presented itself, my heart told me to take it and just go for it, no questions asked. Yet, there was a brief moment when I became way too consumed in my own fears, doubts, and insecurities, that I nearly almost talked myself out of it. It was one of those moments when I asked myself “who are you right now? This is what you want, so you shouldn’t even be questioning it. Get out of your own head!” It was a brief moment of weakness for me that felt so surreal because I hadn’t felt that way in quite some time. I was beating myself up, stressing myself out, and just feeling so disheartened. I was hating every single second of it because I knew that it wasn’t like me. Not anymore. Even my closest family members recognized that, called me out on it, and talked some sense into me. However, it forced me to, once again, re-evaluate just how far I’ve come at this particular point in my life. It was a pivotal moment for me to give myself a huge pat on the back for everything that I’ve accomplished so far, and, in turn, it allowed me to suppress any of those little doubts and fears far out of my heart and my mind. I was able to recognize a brief moment of weakness, seize it, and turn it into a moment of strength and pride. For me, it was further proof and re-assurance that I have always been stronger than I’ve given myself credit for. It was also a reminder to face my fears, follow my dreams, and maintain the strength to continue to pursue the goals that I have set for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments in which I feel subpar to others. I often tell myself that I just “need to get my life together because I’m sucking at it.” Then, I realize that I’m doing a whole lot better than I think I am, and comparing myself to others is an insecure thing for me to do that shouldn’t be worth my energy. The older I get, the more I crave new opportunities and challenges for myself. New adventures, new people, new perspectives, and new life lessons. The more I seek to overcome my fears, doubts, and insecurities. I’m not perfect, by any means. None of us are, but I do believe that if we choose to live our lives with an absence of fear, then we can truly achieve anything that we set our minds to. We constantly need to strive to become better versions of ourselves every single day.

I came across a quote in recent months that really resonated with me that stated: “The only person you should ever compare yourself to is the person you used to be in the past. Keep moving forward, baby. You’re killing them.”

So, with that being said, just remember to suppress your doubts and insecurities, face your fears, follow your dreams, and always strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

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Turning Points 

So you just got that big promotion at your job. Maybe you just found out that you’re going to be a parent or a grandparent. You may have just answered a very important question in which the answer was simply “yes,” and now you realize that you will soon be planning the “big day” that you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you just touched base with long lost family members, and your heart is overjoyed with the thought of finally meeting them after years of uncertainty. Maybe you just graduated and now realize that you accomplished something that you, at one point in your life, never could have imagined for yourself.

Good turning points.

So you just got the news…the news you’ve been hoping you wouldn’t hear. You heard the words and immediately, you want to rewind the last few minutes and tell yourself that the doctor is wrong. This can’t be. It just can’t. Maybe you just lost your job, and you can’t bear the thought of how you’re going to provide for yourself and your family. Maybe you just found out that the love of your life has been unfaithful and suddenly, you’re broken. You feel like you’ve failed. Or maybe, someone very near and dear to your heart is suddenly no longer with you on this Earth. You don’t know which way is up or which way is down. Your world, as you have known it thus far, is falling apart. It’s crashing down around you, and there’s a part of you that hopes it’ll just take you with it and spare you anymore misery.

Bad turning points.

Happiness. Joy. Laughter. Smiles. Heartbreak. Sadness. Tears. Frowns.

The complexity of human behavior and emotions. The unpredictability of this journey that we call life. None of the above are ever meant to be understood. Yet it sure is funny how we try so darn hard to make sense of it all, isn’t it?

It’s actually pretty exhausting. You see, the fact of the matter is this: there is no right or wrong way for us to live our lives. There’s no real play book to tell us how to handle certain situations that we’re faced with. All we can do is our best. Sometimes, we can really surprise ourselves in doing what we know to be our best. Sometimes, we may disappoint ourselves, too. That’s okay. If you’ve been going through a really rough patch lately and your tears have been outweighing your smiles, but you managed to just get out of bed today, know that you’re strong. If you’re working an insane amount of hours and sacrificing time with your family and friends, know that you’re inspiring. If you just received that dreaded news that you didn’t want to hear, know that you’re a fighter.

Whatever cross God has given to us to bear, we must embrace it. Good turning points. Bad turning points. Both will shape us into the people that we’re meant to be. Both will bring tears, be it happy or sad. Both will test us in so many trying ways, only to make us stronger than we were before.

There will be moments when you’re absolutely ecstatic about the good turning points in life, but there will also be the moments when you’re incredibly sad about the bad turning points in life. Just know that these turning points do not define you. Sure, some of the bad turning points will break you, but you will not remain broken forever. The good turning points may excite you, however they may also slightly scare you, but you will not remain scared forever.

You will grow. You will accept. You will embrace. You will inspire.

And quite honestly, that’s one of the most beautiful things to witness in life.

“The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.” – Max Lerner

 

Be kind to one another, y’all

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