Paying It Foward!

Hey, friends! You know how you know you have amazing friends? When you look at your phone and have an audio text message from one with a prayer. I just got one of those and oh man! It literally brightened my day. I wanted to share and pay it forward by letting you all know how worthy you are, too.

When society is telling you, you are too fat. Too thin. Too quiet. Too loud. Too strong. Too weak. Too courageous. Too fearful. Too anxious. Too bold. Whatever it is, you are enough. Just as you are. Right now. Not a year from now when you’ve lost ten pounds. Not when you’ve graduated college and landed a job. Not when you have x-amount of dollars in the bank account. Right now, this very moment, you are enough. (and FYI—you are not anxiety. You have anxiety, but you are NOT anxiety. It is not your identity)

You were created ON purpose, with a purpose that God designed just for you! YOU! He spent time on you! Your hair, eyes, voice, feet, ears, fingers, toes…everything! He knew you before you were even born. He knew what steps you would take, where you would live, who your friends would be, what choices you would make, what career you would have. And he created your heart. Your heart was created to be soft, tender, gentle and loving. Not bitter, angry, resentful or guilty. (Let that sh*t go!)

This world is sad and hard enough as it is, why would I want to add to that? I want to make people feel better about themselves. I want them to leave a moment with me, feeling better. Why would you want to spend time with someone who makes you feel bad about yourself? Why would you want to spend time with someone who told you, you weren’t enough? Who told you that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself? That made you feel less than? Don’t do that to yourself! You deserve to have the best, most nurturing, loving, gentle and kind relationships. You are worth it. Even those people you follow on social media—make sure they are inspiring you, instead of draining you. I did a huge overhaul on my social media and didn’t realize how it really had affected me!

Life is too short to not surround yourselves with people that make you feel good. Check your heart, check your tribe. You are worthy of being loved for who your heart says you are. (because that’s who God says you are!)

Okay, so here’s a challenge for you today: pay it forward. Tell someone else they are worthy and loved. It will make you feel better about yourself, too.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“What Could’ve Been,” Gone West (every single word, especially the line: “a couple more simple I’m sorry’s, a little less trying to be right.” Gets me EVERY. TIME!)

“October,” Alessia Cara

“Good Life,” OneRepublic (in my top ten favorite songs)

Make It Stop

Hey friends. It’s dark, rainy, cold and dreary out. And I’m just not in great spirits. Not to be a downer, but yeah—that’s just where I’m at. I just read two families stories of their children’s suicides. Two different families; one with a seven year old little girl who took her own life, and another 14 year old boy. Oh, and another one that hit a little too close to home.

Guys, I have all the emotions right now. I’m sad, angry, frustrated, crying my eyes out, and then getting upset. All the feels. All the emotions. And I’m exhausted. All I wish for is for people to know they matter. That they are loved. (sidenote: I know this post isn’t going to have proper grammar and right now, I don’t even care.) Call me cheesy if you want, but I wish I could hug everyone and tell them they matter and that they have a purpose in this life. That the world is better WITH YOU IN IT. WE NEED YOU. We need your talent, your knowledge, your skills, your heart, soul, mind, laughter, hugs, and shoulders when we need to cry. WE NEED YOU.

This world is so dark sometimes and it’s so easy to get swept up in it. But, there is still beauty in it, if you look around. Look at nature. The stars at night. Wildlife. Mountains, hills, oceans, lakes, rivers. Of all those things, the most beautiful in this world is YOU. Don’t believe me? That’s fine, but I will make it my mission to keep telling you until you do believe it. OR, you can borrow my eyes and see yourself the way I see you.

I don’t know, guys. Somedays I’m super hopeful, and I see a ray of light at the end of the tunnel that something amazing will be done in regards to suicide and bullying…but then I hear news like today’s and my heart just breaks. It is not okay to treat others this way. It is not okay to use harsh words to anyone—ANYONE, including yourself. You have no idea what the other person is going through, or has gone through, and just because it might be easy for you to brush off words, it might not be easy for others. Stop and think about that for a minute. You have the power to save someone’s life, and words can drive them to the brink. (Proverbs 15:1)

Why is it so easy for us to be angry? Why does anger seem to take off like wildfire, but we have to push and push so hard just for kindness? WHY???? And yes, I get the irony that I say that as I am angrily typing. But you guys, it shouldn’t be this hard to be kind. Check yourself. Check your heart, because that’s where everything flows from. Is your heart angry? If so, why? What’s the root of it? I can guarantee it’s not because of the person you’re hurling harsh words to. And if it is, then talk to them without harsh words.

YOU MATTER. YOU MATTER. YOU MATTER. YOU MATTER. Please, for the world’s sake believe that. That’s really all I want. Never for a second think that you don’t have a purpose in this world. YOU DO. WE ALL DO. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, talk to me. Message me. Letsallbefriends1@gmail.com

I don’t care if all you do is vent and complain. I can be your ear and outlet. I can lift you up. Because you know what? Today, I need someone to lift ME up. And I’m not afraid to admit that anymore. Let’s build a community. Let’s be here for each other. That’s the way to healing.

Your life is precious and a blessing. Don’t let anyone else take it away from you. You have too much to live for. YOU MATTER.

Authentic

Hey friends. It’s been pretty hectic around here lately with school and studying! Sorry for being a bit MIA lately.

I wanted to talk about the word authentic. This word came up this morning in my quiet time, and it really stuck with me so I prayed more about it and what God was trying to tell me about it. Here’s what was pressed upon my heart: stop trying to fit a mold of those you’re around just to be liked, and start being your authentic self, the one I created you to be.

Wow! I mean, yeah, I know that’s what we should all do, but sometimes when I’m with people I don’t know, my immediate action is to try to fit in…mostly because I did it for so long that it has just become a habit for me. But, I’m done with that. I’m not here to fit in–no one is! That’s the beauty of being an individual; we are all so different that it’s beautiful! What a boring place this would be if we were all the same, right?

So, this morning I talked out loud to God and literally said “I am going to fully be the person You created me to be. The quirky, nerdy (in a good way!), weird, goofy me. And if someone doesn’t like it, then oh well.”

If you don’t know me, I can be pretty quirky. I talk to myself sometimes. I love going to tacky gift/souvenir shops and spending hours in them looking at stuff other people might think are “junk”–to me, I love that stuff. I love going to the zoo and channeling my inner five year old, and buying something to commemorate it. I love zoning out on coloring books and geeking out over new gel pens to use. I love Lookout Mountain/Rock City in TN like crazy. I love trinkets. I love buying school supplies. I love flowers. I love watching my favorite childhood movie over and over again and feeling like I did that first time I ever saw when I was little. I love going to county fairs, state fairs, eating way too much junk food at them (hello cotton candy and corn dogs!). I love touristy things. Road trips. Traveling. I love buying an abundance of blank journals, even though I have a stack of them waiting for me at home (best gift ever, btw). I love autographs. I love getting excited over little things–seeing a rainbow, a cardinal, a bluebird, a super cool thrift-store find (I LOVE thrifting!). I love being giddy with excitement and squealing like a little kid. Basically, I am still a kid. But you know what, I like that about me. And I don’t ever want that to go away. I used to hide parts of that because I thought people would judge me or think I was “weird”. But you know what? If those things make me weird, then I’m proud to be weird. This is part of who I am and I like it! No more hiding, holding back or being scared of what others will think…because, the ones who are meant to be in your life, will stay no matter how quirky you are. They will accept those things about you.

Instead of talking about the things we don’t like about ourselves, I thought I would take a second to talk about some of the things I do like about myself. I would love to hear the things you like about yourself, too! Shoot me a message, and let’s build each other up. I’m for you ❤

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:
“Light On,” Maggie Rogers
“Beyond,” Leon Bridges
“The Man,” Taylor Swift (her entire Lover album, tbh)

Self!

Let’s talk self-care, friends. I feel like this is the buzzword lately, and it’s EVERYWHERE. Literally. You have to take care of yourself, in any way you can, right? Self-care, self-love, etc, etc. Do you recognize the trend here? Self. It’s all about the self. Which, don’t get me wrong, focusing on yourself is great, especially when you’re stressed or going through something difficult. We all need time for “self”. But, I think this can get dangerous when we focus too much on self.

I was reading my morning devotional, and it pointed out what God says: “You’ve overcomplicated it; serve others to change yourself.” *mind blown*

I mean, in a time where the word “self” is thrown about everywhere, we have forgotten our center. Our core. What we were created for: serving others. Now, I’m not saying to just forget about yourself and just let yourself go. No way, Jose! You have to take care of yourself, take responsibility for your life/words/actions/behaviors, but the heart of all of us should be to serve others. In serving, helping and reaching out a hand to others, we in turn help ourselves.

This world has its dark side, and it’s been incredibly apparent lately. Every day my phone goes off with new updates on a shooting somewhere. Somewhere there’s someone who has so much hate in their hearts that they have turned to violence. What if we just took time each day to spread kindness and love? Maybe I’m a dreamer and naïve, but I truly, TRULY believe that could change the world. If each person felt loved and heard—that could be a revolution. If we all turned ourself into others, that would change so many things/people/lives.

I know when I’m having a bad day, when I’m crabby and just want to cry, all it takes is one person to reach out and say “hey, hope you have a good day today!” or “I’m thinking of you!” Seriously, sometimes that’s all it takes.

When we have hate in our hearts, where do we turn? I think we all could use a heart-check. Check where you turn to when you’re angry, sad, upset, hurt. If it’s taking that out on other people, take that to God instead. He will calm you and help you. That’s our center. If everyone felt that same kind of love and acceptance, this world would be such an amazing place.

What if, this week, we just took two minutes out of each day to do one random act of kindness towards someone else? Buy someone coffee. Send a kind text. Offer to dog sit so someone can have a day to themselves. Call up a family member you haven’t talked to in a while just to see how they’re doing. I promise that is one thing you will never regret. Kindness is never something you will regret. God will reward you, and you never know how a kind word can change someone’s entire day.

Ask God to give you an opportunity to serve someone, and serve Him. You will never regret being kind.

And, just so you know—I love you all!

Xoxo.

When I’m 80 Years Old

Hey friends! So, ever since my DC trip, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about our time here on Earth. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a deep thinker. I like to read books that make me think differently, open my mind up to different ways of thinking/doing things, and just allowing me to grow. Growth. Identity. Kindness. Understanding. Love. Those are all things I’ve either talked about before, or will talk about soon, but today, I wanted to talk about growth.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am that girl in Hobby Lobby spending hours in three aisles trying to find the perfect quote painting. Then I will spend another hour trying to decide between two of them, when I usually just end up buying them both. I have quotes all over my home. I have them on my laptop background and on my phone background. I pin them, post them, share them, wear them on shirts…you get the picture. I have one sitting on my kitchen island right now that simply says “Stop wishing, start doing.” Simple, but yet it really does motivate me. I can do a whole lot of research on something, but we all know what research is code for: procrastination. (Obviously, not in all cases—hello, science—but you get my point. I hope.) I find inspiration in quotes, I push myself to color outside the lines, to open up new doors, try something new, look outside of myself to see where I need to grow and how to help myself. I know that staying stagnant isn’t what we’re supposed to do. God put us here to constantly be learning new things, helping others, loving others, understanding others. We can’t do that if we, ourselves, aren’t growing. Growth is necessary. There isn’t one person alive who is perfect, contrary to what Instagram shows.

I had a lot of fear and self-doubt before my DC trip. I went back and forth with deciding about a billion times (no joke, ask my friends). But, this is life. LIFE! It’s supposed to be about adventures and taking opportunities and if they’re scary, then that’s all the more reason to do it. I pushed through my fear, jumped head-first out of my comfort zone and went for it. And you know what? I survived! Okay, well, I may have busted up my ankle (like, really, truly I did), but it made for a great story! And that’s what I crave in life. Stories. Adventures. Risks. Love. I want to live every single second of every single day. Even when I’m sleeping, I want to have vivid, crazy dreams so I can feel like I’m even having an adventure while I’m sleeping. I know that sounds silly, but that’s just me. I want to thrive! That’s why it’s hard for me to sit still, why I have a life coach to push me and hold me accountable, why I read so many books, why I am constantly trying to learn things about myself, why I pray and talk to God, and why I spend hours in Hobby Lobby. When I’m 80 years old, I want to look back at my life, smile and say “I really lived. I’m proud of my life. I did all I could do and then some.” I want to run through fields of wildflowers. Dance in the rain. Lie in the back of a truck at a drive-in movie theater. Travel. Oh, how I want to travel! Pay it forward.  Rescue puppies from shelters. Help kids. Make them all believe that they matter. And maybe, just maybe, I can inspire just one person to do the same. I want to have stories to tell when I’m 80 years old. Pictures to show. Scars to prove that I lived. But, also, that I find joy in the little things as well. A home cooked meal, white daisies, my favorite movie, fresh clean sheets, a drive through the country, the sound of rain.

This isn’t about wanting more, it’s about embracing life. Growing yourself to be the most full, and alive you can possibly be. I encourage you all to do something today that goes out of your comfort zone, that pulls you out of “settling” and throws you right into life and growth. Maybe it’s signing up for a class, trying a new workout, calling your Mom and having a heart-to-heart, telling someone you love and miss them, going on a road trip (highly recommended!), opening up your Bible and letting God grow you.

Thrive, friends! Open your heart and your mind. Jump out of your comfort zone and you can walk right into something beautiful and life-changing. You deserve to live a life of beautiful moments.

The difference between an ordinary life and an extraordinary life is only a matter of perspective. Pull the blinds. Look around you. It is a mad, mad world and you do not require ten digit bank accounts to immerse yourself in it. Travel down dusty roads without a destination in mind. Climb a mountain and scream out into the void. Kiss the hell out of a stranger. Skinny dip in a lake. Get lost and lose yourself (they are two separate things). Explore the wilderness (especially the one within). Think less of destiny and more of the moment right here. Because when you are old and ill with your loved ones around you, fame won’t matter, nor will the extent of your wealth. You are the sum of the stories you can tell.” _Beau Taplin

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Life’s What You Make It,” by Graham Colton

“So Will I,” by Hillsong

United States Capitol

Hey friends! Guess where I am right now? Give up? The US Capitol in Washington, DC. I was given the amazing opportunity to be here to speak about suicide prevention and let me tell you–this was absolutely incredible. To be here, to talk to survivors, people who lost loved ones, people who are trying to make a difference–it’s beyond words. Today, I stood up for the loss of my friend, the loss of friends’ loved ones, the survivors, the ones who didn’t survive…I’m here to speak for them. To use my voice to try to prevent this from happening to anyone else ever again. I don’t ever want another mother to get a phone call from a police officer telling her that her daughter died by suicide. I don’t ever want another brother to have to live his life without his brother and spend his life thinking “I should have called him more. I should have done something. I should have seen the signs.” I don’t want anyone to have to feel alone or that the only way out is suicide. It is NOT a way out. This has to stop. This world definitely has its problems and people divided, but here, today, I met people who share the same goal and that is to love and care about others. To remind them that you are not alone and you matter. And really, what is more beautiful than spreading that message? It’s something we ALL can do. So the question is, why don’t we? Xoxo

Anxiety

So, it’s the end of May already. Seriously, how did that happen? We are seven months away from Christmas! Anyone that knows me, knows I love everything Christmas—music, decorations, the magic of it all. I don’t really know why I’m skipping to Christmas right now, to be honest. I love summer. It’s my favorite season—bonfires, watching fireflies, driving through the country on a Sunday evening, picking wildflowers (and putting them in my hair, obvs), fishing, car shows. I love it. You know what I don’t love? Anxiety. May is Mental Health Awareness month, and I wanted to open up a bit about my own struggles with anxiety. I want this to be safe place to be vulnerable, honest and to share my stories because I truly believe that when we share our stories, we can not only heal ourselves, but we can make it so that others can feel safe to share their own stories.

I don’t like change. Like, at all. Which is weird, because I also don’t like being stagnant and I love trying new things. But, when there is a change happening in my life, I resist…big time. It causes anxiety within me, and it just plain sucks. Not feeling like I am safe or supported in certain situations, also cause anxiety for me. If I’m meeting new people, trying new things, or if I’m trying to tell someone how I feel and I don’t feel like they’ve got my back or have empathy—I either give up or just let myself sit with anxiety alone because I don’t feel safe. Safety is key when someone has anxiety because when it hits, there’s really no stopping it. I had a recent experience with anxiety. I was out with friends at a musical and all of the sudden, the walls started closing in, I was sweating like a pig, shaking, couldn’t breathe and right in the middle of the performance, had to be practically carried out because I passed out. Um, yeah, yuck. Usually, something triggers it but this time, I was relaxed, calm and having fun, and then wham. Afterwards, I told my friend who didn’t know I even had anxiety, what happened. Their response was something I wasn’t expecting: “how can I help you in the future if this happens again? What can I do next time to be more helpful? What did I do that wasn’t helpful? What can we avoid that might trigger it? How can I help you?” They said it in such a calm, comforting way that actually floored me. I didn’t know what to say at first. Then I responded, “I don’t really know. No one has really ever asked me that in that way before, so I honestly don’t know how you can help me.” They actually took notes on how to help: water, fresh air, cold towel, affirmations, not making a production out of it, not yelling or getting angry, being patient and staying calm (because that keeps me calm). I was so grateful in that moment. I was expecting judgments, frustration or the usual “I guess I don’t know what that means.”

The other day I was researching anxiety, and came across a blog post and it was so perfect and so beautiful that I have to share the premise of it here. It’s called Validation and Hope vs. Toxic Positivity. I think we’ve all said at some point that we’re struggling with something, and have had someone say “just be happy!” or “you’ll get over it eventually, think positive!” While that’s nice and all, it doesn’t really help the person struggling. It honestly feels like a brush-off, like you don’t really care and you’re just trying to help in the quickest way possible. Because, really…if it were that easy to “just be positive,” don’t you think we’d be doing it already? Yeah. Exactly. The chart below is absolutely perfect. Thank you, Whitney Hawkins Goodman for this. Every single one is perfect, but my favorite is “good vibes only!” as if to say, “well, if you’re not chipper, then you’re not welcome here.” I thought this would be a good thing to maybe print out and keep as either a reminder to yourself in how to respond to someone struggling, or to give to someone so they can see what’s helpful and what’s not.

 

I really believe that if we share our hearts in a loving way, we will all feel a little safer to struggle. Because, it’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to not be ok. And it’s definitely ok to ask for help. Check up on friends who you know are going through something. Take a chance and have a real conversation with them about mental health and how you want to help them. Ask them how you can help and actually listen to them. Sometimes they won’t know how you can help, but if you can be a safe place for them that might be all they need. Believe in yourself, but if you can’t right now, it’s ok! What steps can we take to help you get there?

You’re not alone, trust me.

Xoxo.

What I’m listening to:

“Rescue Me,” One Republic

“The Joke,” Brandi Carlile

“Desiree,” Keith Urban (this song is so old, but it’s been in my top ten all-time favorite songs)

“Maybe It’s Time,” Bradley Cooper (from A Star Is Born)

What I’m reading:
My Story, by Elizabeth Smart