I Lived

Almost a year ago, I graduated from college and what a year it has been! If you would have told me a year ago that I would be living in Minneapolis, I probably would have given you a strange look. The past 365 days have taught me about life, its ups and downs and, most importantly, about change. Life does not always go as planned and that’s okay. Sometimes things don’t turn out too great but you learn important lessons. Sometimes it turns out even better than you could have imagined.  The important thing to remember though, through the highs and lows, the dusks and dawns, the beginnings and endings, is to live life to its fullest.

This past week has been a great example of this. With the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant, we have yet again have been reminded about the frailty of life. Just as last year’s shootings in the Newtown, Connecticut schoolhouse and the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado taught us, this past week has painted a grim image of how easily life can be taken away. Subtly, behind every horrific image flashing across our television screens and every morbid headline, the idea was broadcast that this life is short and can easily be taken from us at any moment.

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My goal, my plan, my passion for this life is to live and live to the very fullest. I want to travel, take risks, meet people whose beliefs are different from my own, serve people, make a difference and really get my hands dirty. I want to live and live abundantly. This doesn’t always have to be in the form of grandeur or equate to glitz and glam. This life is full of big moments and little ones that should be as equally embraced.

I want to travel to Africa someday but I also want to remember to take frequent trips to visit my brother in Nashville and my family in Detroit, Tulsa and Atlanta. I want to serve at a national non-profit for young girls but I also want to volunteer at the Humane Society and walk dogs on weekends. I want to go to the Academy Awards someday but I also want to have movie nights with my roommate on Fridays. I want to eat at the finest restaurants in Italy, France and England but I also want to remember to take the time to chop, cut, bake, blend and use my own hands to make a meal. I want to travel the world but always come home for the holidays. I want to taste all different kinds of wines but never forget my Sunday cup of tea. I want to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world through social media but never forget a friend’s birthday card or phone call. I want to cherish every hug, every tear, every smile and every dance this life takes me on.

I want to live. When I look back on my life someday, I’d like to know that I tried. I put my best foot forward at loving others and pursuing my dreams even when it got hard. I want a head full of gray hair, a face full of laugh lines and a bunch of grandchildren sitting around  me because these are the signs of a life well lived. I want to push myself to never give up on this life, to continuously forgive others as well as myself, to be open to change and to keep living. I challenge you to do the same.bostonstrong1bostonstrong2bostonstrong3

“Until my moment comes, I’ll say I did it all.

I owned every second that this world could give.

I saw so many places, the things that I did.

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

I Lived by OneRepublic

The Liebster Award Or 11 Answers of Self-Disclosure

I was recently nominated for a Liebster Award! (Thanks Lucy!) What is a ‘Liebster Award’?

Liebster

Basically, it’s a challenge where you must answer 11 questions about yourself. Then, you must pass the challenge on to 11 other bloggers you admire. And write 11 new questions for them to. Self disclosure isn’t always a bad thing. So I thought I’d give it a try. I have accepted the challenge of my nominee. Here are my answers to the 11 questions from my nominator.

1. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn? By far the hardest thing I have had to learn has been about letting people and things go. I am a thinker, which is great…sometimes. I tend to over-think and dwell. What I have learned is that life is fluid. Everything is interim. Life comes in flashes. It is a dance with many beautiful exits and entrances. You do have to fight for things you believe in and people you love, but it requires wisdom to balance the fighting and the letting go. I have learned that letting go is a part of life, a necessary, hard yet sometimes beautiful part of life.

2. Do you have a motto that you live your life by? What is it? I think I have too many mantras to fit. I can tell you my two favorite at the moment. One is from Maya Angelou that says “When you know better, you do better.” The second comes from author Shauna Niequist, “When I think about the future, I try to write in pencil.”

3. What is your favorite publication and how often do you read it? This may sound nerdy but GL (Girl’s Life) magazine was my favorite magazine growing up so I’d love to work at a publication like that. I still love it today! For more mature reading, I think the USA Today is my favorite major publication to read regularly. There are also several publications that I don’t buy but still read regularly. At the hair dresser, Essence magazine is my go to. I love reading my brother’s Rolling Stone magazines when I am home. I also really love reading O, The Oprah Magazine. My roommate has a subscription!

4. Why did you start your blog? I started my blog as a school assignment my junior year of college. I thought I’d never blog. My train of thought was, “What do I have to say?” Well, I guess I was wrong. I have been off social media for awhile, and with that gone, blogging has become a major outlet for my thoughts and lessons learns as a twenty-something.

5. What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? And are you on your way there? I had three dream jobs: singer, event planner and writer. When I was really little, I wanted to be a pop star. I really looked up to singers like Whitney Houston and Britney Spears (Yes, Oops! I Did It Again). I wanted to be like that someday, strong, powerful and all-woman. Next, I tossed around the idea of being an event/wedding planner. My first taste of event planning came in 5th grade when I planned my English teacher’s goodbye party. It was a pretty big deal for a 10-year-old to plan a party for 30 to 50 of her peers. Writing came into the picture early on as well.  My first big ah-ha moment (as Oprah calls it) came in 5th grade, when that same English teacher read a story I had written to the whole class. We had to write short stories every month. We had to create the title, the characters, the plot and even got to create book covers and decorate them. A story that I wrote really grabbed my teacher’s attention and she went on about how great it was. I remember being so embarrassed, but it was from that moment that I knew I’d be a writer someday. I discovered more specifically the fields of journalism and screenwriting in high school and ever since then there has been no looking back. I am working my way through the magazine editorial world as we speak and hope to make a splash into the film world as my next big step.

6. BEST dessert you ever had: ____. Hands down: Cheesecake Factory’s Apple Crisp. Funny thing is I never get the cheesecake when I go there.

7. Favorite place in the world? I haven’t been yet! I have a bucket list of 5 countries that I have to see. Italy, Spain, South Africa, France and India. I am sure I will find a favorite city or place in one of those places eventually.

8. Where do you see yourself at age 30? (30, flirty and thriving?) Yes, hopefully 30, flirty and thriving (like Jennifer Gardner in my favorite movie, 13 Going on 30).  My answer to this question is similar to my answer to #1. I have been learning about the fluidity of life and how everything does not go as planned. So I have learned to let go of all my presumptions about what life will look like at any particular age.  Two years ago, I probably would have told you that by age 25 I see myself married with kids, working my way up some major magazine. I now understand that life is beautifully, unexpected. I have learned to write in pencil instead of pen. Wherever I am when I am 30, I do see myself happy, writing in something that makes a difference in the world, living in a city that makes me feel alive and surrounded by the love of family and friends.

9. If you could interview anyone in history, who would you interview and why? This one is tough. It’d have to be someone who I admire and aspire to be like. With that in mind, I’d say my grandmother. She is my all time favorite person. She embodied wisdom, strength and love. If I could have met her in her twenties and talked to her then, I would have totally wanted to sit down and get some life advice from her.

10. The last dream you had involved… The last dream I can remember having was me dating a guy in middle school who I never really even knew or talked to in middle school or high school. My roommate thought this was hilarious when I told her the next day!  Before that, the most recent dream I remember involved a friend from college. She was heading to California and she had an extra ticket and invited me to come! If dreams forecast the future, I hope this one does!

11. What is your favorite slang word? Funny, my favorite slang word is also the word that used to make my stomach cringe…shawty. I absolutely hated when guys call girls that or when it was in songs on the radio. But I now use it as a regular greeting to my dad, my brother and my roommate. I love to say “What it do shawty?!” It is a real attention-grabber coming from me.

The End of the World As YOU Know It

Hello blogesphere!

I have recently reemerged into the social media world (I have been off of Facebook for about a year and off Twitter for a few months). Now that I have been posting a lot more on social media, I seem to have been neglecting my blog. Well not to worry! I am back at it, cultivating content from the mind of a curious and eager 20-something, learning something new every day.

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a friend of mine back in Tulsa. She is 19 going on 20 and in the middle of a really bad breakup. As I sat going through her text messages, trying to find the perfect bit of advice to give her, I asked myself “What advice would I give myself two years ago?”

phone-call I was just like my friend when I was 20. I was at a crossroads, experiencing a breakup….and to tell you the truth I was devastated. So I thought looking back over the past two years, what would I have wanted to know? Out of the realest and most painstakingly honest part of my soul came the words…..”It is not the end of the world.”

I will be honest…sometimes I can be a little dramatic. Tell that to me a few years back and I would have hated you, but it’s true. When I had my heart broken, I remember the pain feeling like a tangible object that I carried with me everywhere I went. It hurt so badly. I really didn’t think that I’d ever get over it. But here’s what I have learned: Sometimes the thing that seems so painful is really the most beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, heart breaks and break-ups suck. They really do! But they are not the end of the world or your world.

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Life is all about perspective. So maybe it’s possible that my friend’s breakup, this seemingly painful and horrible thing, is actually something beautiful, the start of something new. The end of one thing is really an opportunity, to change, to grow, to learn and to become stronger. The beauty about the death of one thing is that it leads to the birth of something new.

So yes, breakups, heart breaks, the loss of someone or something you love….. it is all hard. As twenty-somethings, I feel like this is such a big part of our lives. I am learning that life is fluid. Everything is interim. All we have is today, right now, this moment. I am learning to embrace life for what it is, bitter and yet oh so sweet, full of ups and downs and highs and lows. Seasons come and go, but I want to embrace each season for what it brings, even the painful ones. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here yet. All we have is today. So when life gets you down, please remember (unlike my dramatic 20-year-old self)  to embrace the ebbs and flows of each season. It is not the end of the your world (but maybe the beginning of a new one).

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Related media: Music- Carrie Underwood: Good in Goodbye
Literature- Shauna Niequest: Bittersweet

-Stephkt