Life’s Unexpected Waves

I love my godmomma. She is the quintessential woman, strong, motherly, charismatic, caring and nurturing. She is everything that I could hope to be someday as a woman. I was talking to her the other day, just catching up on the little things. It was great to hear from her, but what was even better was hearing about all the good that has happened in her life.

Let me first give you a little more background: My godmother lives in Michigan, where my entire family is from. She is my mom’s childhood best friend. We have always been really close. We even share the same birthday (September 10!) My godmom has two kids who are about 10 years older than me, Joy and Joel. They are both married and have kids.

The cool thing about my godmom and her kids’ story is the struggle it took to get where they are now. Looking at how beautiful and happy their family is now, you wouldn’t know all they had been through to get there. My godsister, Joy, struggled with getting pregnant, and dealt with the loss of numerous miscarriages. In his twenties, Joel went through an untimely and devastating divorce. I remember my godmom telling me of how she would just sit and talk with her son, while he sat crying in her arms. Two difficult situations. Circumstances that were unplanned and seemingly out of their control. Situations that could have defeated them.

 

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“But life inevitably throws us curve balls, unexpected circumstances that remind us to expect the unexpected.” Carre Otis

 

That is not where their stories end. My godsister now is a mother to three beautiful children. My godbrother is remarried and now a father to three kids, as well. It’s an amazing story, a story of loss, of suffering, of triumph, of overcoming, of perseverance. It’s the human story, something we can all relate to.

I wanted to share their story today, just a reminder to all the twenty somethings out there: Keep going. Life is guaranteed to knock you down. Life will hand you the unexpected. Expect it. Anticipate the curveballs. When you get knocked down, remember it is always your choice to get back up again or to stay down. You decide. My godmom reminded me of this by sharing with me this beautiful story of heartache, loss and new beginnings. I wanted to share in hopes that wherever you are and whatever life has handed you today, that you would keep going. Happily ever afters are possible, but it’s gonna take going through something to get there.

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All six of my godmom’s beautiful, healthy grandchildren

-Stephkt

One Day at A Time

Just looking at my calendar for the month of September stresses me out! I have something planned every weekend. From running my first quarter marathon, to attending a friend’s wedding, to roadtripping to Kansas, to ziplining, to traveling to Ireland for a missions trip……my life for the next month is jam packed!

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I was thinking just the other day how looking at the big picture can sometimes stress you out. Like looking at the whole pie that you are trying to eat (I have no idea why you would ever eat a whole pie but play along with the analogy) would seem very daunting. Logically, it only makes sense then to divide the pie up into individual slices and eat them one at a time.

The pie analogy really saved me from getting stressed out. It reminded me that I need to take not only the month of September one day at a time, but life in general. As a twenty something, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of looking at the whole pie. Your mind races with all the things you need to accomplish by this age and that year. There’s so many places to travel and people to meet. So much to get done and seemingly never enough time. You’ve got to climb the ladder at work and reach a set level of success in your head. Well here’s a thought…..Slow down champ! Remember to breathe.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Take life on life’s terms- one day at a time. And have fun while you’re doing it.” Joe Perry

Sometimes as twenty somethings, it becomes so easy to stay busy that you forget to stop and smell the roses. We get so busy in the new chapter called adulthood that we forget the adolescent bliss that comes with just enjoying the moment we are in. Enjoy the moment. Seize the day.

Don’t be busy just to be busy. Busyness is draining. Busyness is a distraction. Be productive. Be effective. Make the most of your time. And enjoy that slice of pie while you’re eating it!

– Stephkt

 

 

A Spark of Madness: The Robin Williams’ Legacy

Robin Williams has been the topic of discussion the past few days. With his unexpected suicide, it seems as if Williams has the world talking more now that he is gone than when he was alive. The 63-year-old Chicago native was an acclaimed actor on the big screen and on Broadway. The Academy Award winner is known for his work in Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, and and extensive list of other film, television and Broadway credits.
 
 
While his death may come as a shock to the world, the depression and addiction Williams struggled with was a part of an ongoing battle. His death teaches us that life is short and the demons of mental illness, depression and addiction are painstakingly real. His life teaches us to seize the day, to laugh, to smile, to find joy, even in the midst of debilitating pain. Be encourage today to keep living, If you are struggling with depression or mental illness, do not be afraid to ask for help. There is always hope, hope in the simple fact that you are not alone.
 
 
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Twenty Something Advice from the words of Robin Williams:

“My battles with addiction definitely shaped how I am now. They really made me deeply appreciate human contact. And the value of friends and family, how precious that is.”

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

“Comedy is acting out optimism.”

“But only in their dreams can men be truly free. It was always thus and always thus will be.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling when your father becomes not a god but a man to you — when he comes down from the mountain and you see he’s this man with weaknesses. And you love him as this whole being, not as a figurehead.”

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”

“You have this idea that you’d better keep working otherwise people will forget. And that was dangerous. And then you realize, no, actually if you take a break people might be more interested in you.”

“Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some get it as a graduation gift.”

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

– Stephkt

Depression Sucks

In honor of Robin Williams and the millions of Americans who battle the monster known as depression.

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“Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern, just the slow erosion of self, as insidious as cancer. And like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience; a room in hell with only your name on the door.”

-Martha Manning

I’ve dreaded writing this post. I’ve known for a long time that I’ve needed to address this at some point or other, and in light of the suicide of Robin Williams and some other posts on depression I’ve seen floating around on social media, I felt like this was the right time to do it. 

I’ve never disclosed this part of my life on social media, and now I wonder why. Was it because I was scared? Embarrassed? Afraid to draw attention to myself for the wrong reasons? Whatever reason, it’s time I need to be humbled. 

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New Chapters

My godbrother is starting college this fall. So I deemed it necessary to write him and the rest of the class of 2018 (woah! so weird! I feel old!) a short list of advice for the next four years. So here it goes…..

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody, Especially College Freshmen):

“We grow neither better nor worse as we get older,

but more like ourselves.” May Lamberton Becker

Dearest little brother,

Off to college you go! I bet you are both excited and slightly nervous about what this next chapter holds. Don’t worry. College is basically a cushion period between childhood and adulthood. Enjoy these next four or five years. It is like adulthood on training wheels. You live on your own and make adult decisions, but still have your parents to fall back on in case you mess, which take me to my first bit of advice.

1- Don’t be afraid to mess up (because YOU WILL!) Hey! College is all about learning and growing. Often times to really grow, you have to get messy. You have to step outside your comfort zone and do things you may have never thought to try before. Don’t be so afraid of getting it wrong that you never try. As you embark on this new journey, remember it’s okay to stumble along the way.

2- Be yourself. So in high school, it can be tough. There are all these cliques and groups. Well college is a whole new ballpark. You can just be you and nobody really cares. Be quirky. Be weird. Be an introvert (well maybe try to be somewhat sociable). Be loud. Be artsy. Be curious. Be nerdy. Be you. This is such a fun chapter of your life because it is the beginning of the time of your life when you are going to find out more of who you are. Do yourself a huge favor and find your truest self and be every part of that.

3- Travel. Even if it is just up the street. College is all about exploring. You have the opportunity in college to travel abroad and even just go to new cities and states. Definitely look in to that at your school! You can even take road trips with friends on weekends. Whatever you do, get out of your comfort zone. Go somewhere where the people don’t look like you or think like you do. It is time to get uncomfortable.

4- Make new friends. This is one part of college that can be fun or not so fun depending on how you look at it. We are going to take the fun perspective. Your friend group will have a lot of ebbs and flows in college. As you are finding out who you are and your peers around you are doing the same, your friend circle will contract and expand regularly. Embrace it. Hold onto your friendships with open hands. Appreciate the people in your life right now and all that they have come to teach you. If some friends don’t make it to the next chapter, then, when the time comes, be willing to let them go. The right ones will stick around. Trust that.

5- Say yes. Be willing and ready to take opportunities as they come. College will present many different opportunities educationally, relationally, career and travel wise. Stay open. Be flexible. Say yes more often than you say know. Some opportunities don’t come around again. So stay open and be present in the moment.

I am so happy for you in this new season of your life! Maybe after you graduate college, we can talk about all the mistakes you make that you will probably avoid telling the parents! Maybe then you will be old enough to hear mine! Have fun, but not too much fun, of course! I believe that you are capable of doing great things. You got this kid!

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Love,

Steph

P.S. Last, quick tip: Don’t cook too often or too well for your friends. They won’t ever leave!

Imperfection is Beauty

In elementary school, your teacher tells you to color inside the lines. Then you get to middle school, where your teachers and parents tell you where to go, what to study and whom to spend your time with. Next, high school comes around and everyone is perfectly grouped into different cliques: the jocks, the band, the cheerleaders, the brainiacs. Finally comes college, where everyone picks a major to study for the next four to five years, which you are then categorized by for the duration of your college career. There is always an order, a structure to things.

Life is much like the education system, orderly. There is a status quo for how we are expected to do things. There are certain standards that need to be met. This past week I was very much reminded that life doesn’t always go according to plan, and that’s okay. Not only is it okay, but it is also a beautiful thing.

In the chaos and mess of life, you find truth. The time when things get disorderly is also the time when growth happens and reality sets in. This past week, I roadtripped to Georgia to see family. A 12 hour drive. A LONG 12 hour drive. There were a lot of mishaps and unexpected occurrences along the way. To be honest, at first I allowed the unplanned parts of my roadtrip to stress me out, but then I realized that’s the whole fun of it!

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Marilyn Monroe

Roadtrips, much like anything in life, are not supposed to be perfect! Once I arrived to Georgia, my time with my family was full of just as many surprises and unexpected people and things as my trip there. Instead of stressing it, I guess I needed to be reminded to just go with the flow.

Enjoy the beauty of the moment. Life will never be perfect. So if you get a blown out tire or any unexpected roadtrip buddy (like my brother) along the way, just breathe and go with it. I dare you to color outside of the lines. There is so much beauty that can be taken from the unplanned and unexpected. It all just depends on how you look at it.

– Stephkt

Family photos from last week

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