Just Breathe

Hi friends. This won’t be a long post, but I just wanted to say hi and check in to see how you’re doing. In a world where people are getting louder and shouting more, I just wanted to offer a little bit of peace.

Breathe. Just take five minutes to just…breathe. God has you. God has plans for you and He loves you. I want this to be a safe place, so whatever you’re feeling, whoever you are, wherever you come from, whomever you love, whatever your religion is, whatever your orientation is, you’re welcome here. This is where I want to cultivate a space of acceptance and love. You’re not alone. Not when you’re here.

I want to encourage you to take a couple minutes to acknowledge how awesome you are and how much you’re loved. Because I love you, too, and I’m always here for you.

Xoxo.

Did Someone Say Christmas Crafts?

Happy holidays, friends! Are you ready for Christmas?! I think a lot of people this year are doing things a little differently, but I hope however you’re spending this holiday, you can find some way to find peace. Whether it’s going for a walk (connecting with the Earth is one of the best medicines ever), watching your favorite holiday movie, baking cookies, sending Christmas cards, even just going to an empty room for 20 minutes just by yourself.

If you’re like me, you’ve been spending time making Christmas crafts. I think my love for Christmas crafts started when I was in grade school. It was one of the very few things I did enjoy about grade school. I remember the smell of the glue, the construction paper, ALL the glitter (the more, the better, please and thank you), sequins…you name it. When we did these in grade school it was usually a solo project, which is why I liked it because then it meant that I didn’t have to worry about not being picked to be in a group. I loved the excitement as a kid: wearing normal clothes to school instead of our uniforms, eating candy during class, exchanging gifts and cards…oh wait, yeah, that didn’t include me. There were many times when teachers would try to give me a gift because they felt bad that I was the only one in class that didn’t get a card/candy/gift from a classmate. It was humiliating.

I remember one Christmas season at school where I was sick, which wasn’t really surprising because for whatever reason, I was always sick a week or two before Christmas. But, I was really sick that year and the teachers thought I was making it up to get out of gym class (I mean, in their defense, I probably did use that excuse a time or two which actually came to bite in the butt the year that I tried to pull that when we had to all do the Achy Breaky Heart line dance. They made me do it alone. By myself. In front of everyone. Come to think of it, that may have been the last time I tried to pretend to be sick at school.) Anyway…so, I was actually sick at school, but they wouldn’t let me go home, or even go to the nurses room. I was trying not to even more because I wanted to throw up and it was during craft time. One kid threw garbage at me and I asked the teacher for the fourth time if I could go home because I was sick. Again, she said no. I sat back down and guess what? I threw up all over the desk, floor and he kid next to me. Kids were laughing at me, calling me names, telling the teacher to rub my face in it. The teacher actually yelled at me. I was in fourth grade, so it’s not like I could really do much more. The teacher literally made me sit there and look at it before she had someone clean it and take me to the nurse.

I remember going home and watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (the cute, clay animated one) and after being able to relax and not think about anything else, I was feeling so much better. Of course, that also started the need for Arby’s roast beef sandwiches when I was sick—they really are a cure-all for me.

I think this could be true for many things: when we are stressed, anxious, tensed up, it can make us sick. When you’re constantly in a situation where you’re being bullied and abused, it can wreak havoc on our heart and your entire body to the point where you just breakdown. Once you take a moment to distance yourself from that, you might see that your physical and emotional wellbeing improves, even though there’s still healing that needs to be done.

If you’re there, friend, I feel you. If you’re in school and it’s just not going your way. If you’re being bullied, please talk to someone who can help you. If you keep it in, it will only grow inside of you and make you feel worse. I promise. I want you all to be happy and healthy and live beautiful lives. Please know that you are worthy, loved, accepted, seen, heard and that you matter. You are not alone, not for one second.

I still love Christmas crafts and to be honest, I sometimes still make some of those crafts I made when I was in fourth grade—not because it reminds me of pain, but because it reminds me of the beauty that came after the pain. When I was able to go home. Rest. Lie by the colorful Christmas tree. Be with people who love me. Watch Rudolph (which I have to watch every year now). And, of course, eat Arby’s.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe Christmas. Thanks for reading (anyone, anyone?) and for putting up with all of my grammatical errors. 2021, we’re ready for ya! If you’re crafting, let me know what you’re making!

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” Judy Garland (I mean, this song. A happy song and Judy just turns it into the most heartbreaking Christmas song ever…but it’s one of my all-time favorites)

“Willow,” Taylor Swift (thank you 2020 for not one—but TWO—Tay albums!)

“Kings & Queens,” Ava Max

“The Bridge,” Dolly Parton

It’s December

Happy December, friends! We made it to December; let’s all do a little shoulder dance! We are thisclose to a healthier new year and that’s something to celebrate.

I don’t know about you, but I love this time year. Christmas and everything about it: decorating, having trees all over the home, listening to Christmas music 24/7, watching cheesy Christmas movies, drinking hot chocolate, driving around looking at Christmas lights, reading about the true meaning of Christmas. This year feels different, for obvious reasons and I think it does for many of us. I just want to acknowledge those of you who might be spending the holidays alone, or away from those you love. For those of you who may have lost a family member this year and won’t be able to spend one more holiday with them. For those who are sick or scared. For those who lost their jobs, homes, etc. For those who are experiencing anxiety, depression. Domestic violence is rising during this pandemic, as is suicide. If you are feeling scared, being abused (physically, verbally, mentally, psychologically, financially, etc), please seek help. Please call: 1-800-799-7233. If you are feeling suicidal, please call: 1-800-273-8255.

My heart goes out to any of you who have experienced any of those above, and more. You are not alone. There isn’t one single person in this world that hasn’t been affected by this year in one way or another. Just when we think we can’t handle anymore, something else happens and it’s a lot! I was talking with a friend one day and I said “you know, first it was the fires in Australia, and we all thought that would be biggest news of the year. Then, boom, pandemic. Surely, that would be it. Then, protests, riots, fires…okay, we’ve hit the most that could happen this year. Nah, then it was pandemic not going away. Then, ugh, election. Okay, the election is over, we can breathe! No more drama. Wrong! Some more election stuff. Oh, not enough yet? Second (or it is third?) wave of pandemic and more people are going to die.” Guys, it’s a lot.

This year I have seen so much hate and a sickening amount of divide. BUT, I have also seen so much beauty in people coming together to try to make a difference. One of my heroes has always been Fred Rodgers. I mean, come on. Can you imagine how amazing his world would be if we had more Fred Rodgers in it?! He said when he would see things on TV that didn’t make sense, he’d look for the helpers. Because that’s where the love is.

We all have the opportunity to spread love, compassion, kindness, respect. We all have the choice in how we view this world. If you keep seeing the bad, that’s all you will see. If you want to see positivity, look for it. It’s there. I promise, it’s there. I see it every day. In the small acts, the almost unnoticed acts. A text from a friend, a smile from a stranger. Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes it’s quiet. But it’s there. We all have the ability in us to create a world where love prevails and everyone feels accepted and respected. That’s exactly how God created us. He did not create us to disrespect other people because it’s our “right” and our “freedom.” We don’t get to choose who we respect and if we feel like it. We do it to every single person in this world because God calls us to. Love one another as you love yourself. Respect is love. Keeping others safe and healthy is love. Reaching out to help is love. Reminding someone they matter is love. Apologizing when you’re wrong is love. A smile is love. I say this so much because it matters: it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture to express love. My motto is that this world has enough hate, judgements, divide, I don’t want to add to that. I want to try to build a bridge and bring unity. Who’s with me? We CAN do it! I am a huge dreamer, so to me, nothing seems impossible!

I highly recommend to start a gratitude practice. Every morning and every night, I list things I’m thankful for. I usually say I will list 5 things, but it always ends up being like 20+! I can help you out to get your list started: a phone, computer, the breath in your lungs, the love of God, the new Taylor Swift album. Boom. There you go. Now, go ahead and continue that list 🙂 Gratitude makes a world of difference.

However you’re spending this holiday season, I hope you feel warmth, love and you stay safe and healthy (and keep those around you safe, too). I’m always here for support—reach out anytime! Just remember you are not alone and you mater.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

Any and ALL Christmas music!! Duh!
Faves: Any by the Rat Pack
Mariah Carey (obvs)
the Charlie Brown Christmas
“Blue Christmas,” Elvis
Non-Christmas music I’m listening to:
“Dear God,” Cory Asbury (highly, highly recommend this song!)
“Wild Life,” OneRepublic
“My Tears Ricochet,” Taylor Swift (favorite Tay song, ever)

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. If you’ve read any of my posts, you know by now that this is a subject that’s really important and close to me. I am literally sitting here crying because all I want is to see people believe in themselves and know their worth. That’s literally what this all boils down to: you matter. I wish, with every single part of me, that I could hug every single person in the world and tell them they matter…and have them actually believe it.

If you are feeling anxious, depressed, alone: please know you are not alone. There is so much the world has to offer than what we see at face-value these days, which is hate and divide. More importantly, though, there is so much YOU have to offer this world. You are unique. You were given gifts no one else has. You were created for a reason. I know I say that all the time, but I mean it. I wish I could pop out of this page and throw my arms around you and tell you that face-to-face. There was a time when I was at my lowest point a couple years ago. I was depressed and felt so alone. I wanted to disappear, and at that moment, I needed someone to hug me and tell me it was all going to be OK. That person wasn’t there for me (in fact, I was left in a parking lot). One thing I can promise you is that it does get better. It always does. You will meet people who will make you feel worthy and you won’t be scared anymore. If you are offered help, take it. If you need help, ask for it. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. I say that all the time, too…because it’s true. Some people will make you think that it’s weak to need help, but IT’S NOT! You are worth more than rubies. Proverbs 3:15.

You are not alone. You will get through this. There will be better days. Happy days. You will see your dreams come true. I am living proof of that, as are so many others. Your story matters. Speak it. Share it. Your story could very well be someone else’s survival guide.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 800-273-8255.

I’ve got your back. Stay safe and healthy, friends. Look out for each other. My promise to you is that I will continue to be as open and vulnerable as I can. I truly believe that’s the way to breakdown stigmas and to create a safe space for you all to do the same. Maybe we can create a ripple effect.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:
“This Could Change Everything,” Francesca Battistelli
“Better Days,” OneRepublic (in case you need some encouragement, and you can’t go wrong with this band)
“the last great american dynasty,” Taylor Swift

Starting the School Year!

Hey friends! Someone I knew just passed away, so I’ve been a bit quiet lately. But, I’m back!

Doesn’t it seem like summer just started? Kids are already either back at school or will be soon. Or, should I say you’ll be virtual? In school? Hybrid? Whew, I’m not in school and it gives me a headache just hearing about all the school stuff going on right now. It’s times like this that make us all (whether we have kids in school or not) appreciate the teachers and parents. I have a couple friends who are teachers, and hearing what they have to do this year is mind-blowing. If that’s you—my hat’s off to you. If you’re a parent trying to navigate the demands that seem to keep changing–my hat’s off to you. There are so many factors that seem to play into this. I mean, it’s hard enough being a kid and having your first day at school…now, you have all of this other stuff going on. I am in no place to give any advice on how to navigate this, other than to say: give yourself grace! Whether you’re a teacher, parent, student, janitor at the school, we see you and hear you! You are all in our thoughts and prayers!

I love summer so much, so whenever I started back at school, I dreaded it. I had a break during summer from getting beat up, thrown down flights of stairs, teased, told to kill myself. I never knew what I would be in store for when I went back to school. Would the kids that bullied me before, still bully me? Would there maybe be a new kid in our class that maybe would want to be my friend? Would I be able to enjoy anything about school? I woke up feeling anxious, and I went to bed feeling anxious. For as long as I could remember, I had always wanted someone to stand up for me. I got so tired of doing it myself. Do you ever feel like that? Yes, it’s true that the most important thing is to be able to stand up for yourself, but sometimes we get tired. Sometimes we just want someone to step in and say “I got this. You can rest now.” I heard someone last week say something that hit me: “Be with people who stand up for you, not people you have to stand up to.” Now, that’s a word!

Since the school year is just starting, I wanted to encourage you kids to go easy on the others. Maybe go out of your way to include someone in a conversation or group. Initiate a welcome conversation with the new kid. Ask someone how they’re doing. You can make someone’s day or break someone’s day. It’s your choice.

This is a short post, but I hope you’re all doing well, staying safe and healthy. Reach out to me anytime you need, friends! Be kind.

 

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Who Am I To Say,” Justin Townes Earle
“Rogers Park,” Justin Townes Earle

Book Recommendation

Hey friends! This is just a super quick post today. I wanted to share one of the best books I’ve ever come across. It’s so stinking cute, I seriously can’t handle it! This is not an ad, in fact, can I even post this without permission?

It’s called The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. When I first saw it, I thought it was just a children’s book. But, oh no, it’s not! I might give this book as a gift to my friends, that’s how cute this book is. It has such good life lessons in there for everyone! This one is one of my favorites:

 

Anyway, I just wanted to share this. Here is the link if you’d like to get your own copy: https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Mole-Fox-Horse/dp/0062976583

Be kind,

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Fearless,” Goo Goo Dolls. On repeat. NON-STOP!

 

With a Heavy Heart

Oh, friends. I’ve been trying to decide if I should post something about this or not, because I don’t want to sound judgmental, or like I’m hating on anyone. However, I think you all know me well enough to know that’s not who I am, or how I ever intend my posts to sound like.

My heart is so heavy today. I hadn’t watched the 10:00 news in months, but last week I decided to turn it on to see if there were any developments in the George Floyd murder. (Yep, it was murder) What I saw was horrible. My home city on fire, being ripped apart. I couldn’t believe it. I started shaking, crying. It was something I never thought I’d see in 2020. Protests, yes. We have the right to peaceful protests.

Thousands of people now without jobs because their business burned down. People without a place to move into, because a new apartment building was burned down. Elderly people without a place to get food or medicine because their grocery store and pharmacies are gone. (and we’re still in a pandemic) I want justice for Floyd and his family just as much as anyone else, but I don’t think this is what he would have wanted to have happen. I truly do believe in the power of our voices, and there’s no better time than now to use them. Call the Mayor’s office, call the Governor’s office. Sign petitions. Reach out to your friends of color.

My Pastor said it best: Racism is evil. Plain and simple. You or I don’t get to decide who deserves acceptance or love. God didn’t create us to discriminate, judge or treat less than. He created us to love. In fact one of His commandments is to love your neighbor greater than yourself. GREATER THAN YOURSELF. Not everyone was born with the same privileges and opportunity. (look up systemic racism) We are to love all.

My faith tells me to love God and love my neighbors, and to help out when I can. I’m scared for what will happen today, tonight, tomorrow, this weekend. I just pray that everyone stays safe, healthy and helps a neighbor when they need it. As my girl Esther says: “Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.” This is the moment to use our voices in loving, compassionate and caring ways. Love each other. ❤️

 

Just a quick word!

Hey friends. I just wanted to come and say something super quick that’s been on my heart. This time has its own anxiety; don’t add to it by thinking you *have* to be productive, create something, start a business, workout round-the-clock. It is great if you are, but if all you did today was get out of bed—that’s something to be proud of.

I know I said that you can use this time to start something you’ve been putting off, or start something new, but if you don’t, that is 115% OK. There are enough people out there posting workout videos, telling you to do this or that with your time. If you don’t feel like it, don’t beat yourself up. I repeat: don’t beat yourself up. I literally told myself this very thing the other night during my date with God. This time is hard enough as it is, I refuse to beat myself up because I’m not doing what social media is telling me I should be doing. If I don’t get my workout in today, so be it. If I want to watch the same movie I’ve seen 55 times already, I will. I will not add to my anxiety by feeling bad about not doing what other people think I should be doing. And you shouldn’t, either. You don’t have to do everything, or anything, if you don’t want to. If you want to curl up on the couch and binge watch a TV show, then do that. Whatever your body and your heart are telling you to do, that brings you comfort, do it. The last thing we need to be doing is beating ourselves up in a time like this.

You are already enough. You are not alone. Stay safe and healthy, friends.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Better Days,” One Republic (because I love them and this song is perfect for this time)

“That’s Just The Way The World Goes Round,” John Prine

“Live It Up,” Colbie Caillat

Spoiler Alert: The Tomb Was Empty

Happy Easter, friends! Wherever you are reading this from, I hope that this finds you healthy and safe. There’s no doubt that this is not the Easter we anticipated having this year, and not physically going to church just feels kind of wrong, but I am thankful that my church does online services.

Thinking about what happened all those years ago today; I can’t help but get super emotional. I mean, I talk a lot about bullying, abuse, betrayal, disrespect…and you guys. What Jesus knows exactly what that is like. Jesus was bullied, abused, betrayed, disrespected, and denied, too. He knows how we feel, He suffers right along with us because He’s BEEN THERE. Talk to Him about what you’re going through!

What He went through, what He felt, what He saw: He did willingly and He did it for us. All of us. Not  just the person who never misses a Sunday in church. Not just the one who gives to charity. But for you, and for me. All of us. I mean this about this for a second: Jesus looked at you and knew your worth before you were even born, and He decided that you are worthy enough to die for. He loved you so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice. Then, He rose from the grave!

Whenever you are feeling sad, anxious, unworthy just remember that Jesus calls you worthy. You are never alone, and he loves you unconditionally. It is hard to fathom that kind of love, and it is hard to fathom someone actually dying for us. He paid the ultimate price for our hearts and us. So, every time we deny ourselves, hold ourselves back, hurt ourselves, we are ultimately hurting Him. I mean, imagine how He feels after He did all of this for us, and then we just waste it away by complaining, sulking, telling ourselves we’re stupid or “too this” or “too that”. He grieves every time we do that. We are disrespecting Him!

So, even though this Easter is a bit different than we’re used to, He is still the same today, as He was yesterday and as He will be tomorrow. Spend some time with Him today and let Him show you just how much He loves you.

Xoxo.

Social Distance, Close to God

Hey friends, how are you all doing? It would be kind of weird to not talk about what’s going on right now, even though to be honest, I don’t really want to. It seems like every conversation I have with someone almost always ends up being centered around what’s happening in the world right now. I mean, how can you not talk about it, right? How can you not be scared? Or sad? Or anxious? Or depressed? Or numb to it? Or all of the above and then some?

It kind of all feels like a bad dream. I’ve never experienced this feeling before; where I can be fine, and then all of the sudden I stop and think “wait, this isn’t real, right? This has to be fake.” It’s surreal and I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.

It’s hard to believe that this is our new normal and try to figure out what the other side of this is going to look like. How long will this last? What will the world look like when it’s over? Will it ever be over? I’ve had to turn off my news alerts on my phone and sign off of most social media. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely had my moments of complete breakdown—bawling, shaking, scared of what could happen. Missing those I love and not being able to be with them is probably the hardest thing about this for me right now.

Everyone keeps saying that they’re scared of what this world will look like after this. I really, truly believe that this world will be better. We have the capability to be more caring, more selfless, more giving, more compassionate, more gentle. I have seen unbelievers start praying and listening to Christian music. What the enemy meant for harm, God is going to use for good. We have the chance to slow down a bit. To need less material things. Spend less money. Eat what we have in the cupboard instead of going out to eat. To prioritize family time. To enjoy the little things like playing board games (Monopoly, anyone?!), play cards, watch movies, read, write, pray. There’s time to get in touch with ourselves, our hearts and dig deep into what’s really important.

I’ve tried to lean into this time and make the most of it. I’ve gotten to know people on a deeper level by opening up and being vulnerable. All the writing I’ve been able to do with minimal interruptions (welcome interruptions, obviously!) has really felt incredible. And, to be honest, I have never appreciated fresh air and a walk as much as I do right now!

Lean into this time however you feel like it. Whatever that looks like for you, whatever way brings you comfort. You don’t have to write a novel, or create something big. Just be. Connect with yourself and make sure you also connect with others over the phone. Talk to God. He’s there, waiting for you. He is so in love with you and is just craving time with you. As much as we need Him right now, He needs us. He needs us to be his messengers. This situation is not a surprise to Him. We have the choice in how we respond right now. We need to social distance, but we can be closer to God.

Stay safe and healthy friends. I am really glad we have each other.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Better Days,” One Republic
“Lovely,” Sara Haze
“Oceans,” Hillsong United