On the Road Again

IMG_20150422_142851(1)There’s something magical about going home. It just feels good for the soul. Maybe it’s the familiar places, the roads you’ve traveled down before or the feeling of being in a place, where as the song from Cheers goes, “you want to go where everyone knows your name.” I got to go home to Michigan this last week, and it felt good to be back in the place where I first got my wings. When I got there, it felt like my inner gas tank for my soul was on E, but when I left I felt myself being recharged.

The twenties is a perfect time to travel to new places, pursue dreams, dabble in different things and allow those experiences to take you to different places, as far as the imagination can dream. In all the new cities and new places, home never loses it’s sweet allure. Nowhere else can you get momma’s cooking, see childhood friends or go back to the places where you had your first memories.

While international travel has it’s appeal, I have found that going home is as much needed as all the new experiences the twenties offer. Going home helps you gain perspective and it helps you see the world from a different vantage point. For me, home reminded me of the importance of simplicity like dinner with family, game nights, trips to the zoo, moments where you laugh so hard you cry, and early morning talks over tea with your godmom.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Finding your way doesn’t mean you always know where you’re going. It’s knowing how to find your way back home that’s important.” Clare Vanderpool

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” George Moore

Home also encouraged me to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Life is full of chapters and chapters close. My time in Michigan ended at 16, when my family moved away. While I love visiting, I know that I can’t go back and try to recreate the life I had then, what once was. Because that season of my life is over. Going home encouraged me to keep going along my journey. It’s okay to look back every once in awhile, but you can’t stay there. That’s why the rear view mirror is much smaller than the windshield.

To all my fellow twenty somethings, I hope you are reminded of the value of home and not to take people, places, and memories from there for granted. I hope that you go home often enough to refuel and to appreciate it, but I also encourage you to not stay there forever. Seasons change. Seasons end. If you have a dream or a desire for something outside of home, I encourage you to pursue that dream and not settle or get comfortable in the familiar.

Your focus should always be forward, on what is, not what was. So keep moving forward. Don’t give up on your dreams. Home is always there to refuel, but there’s a big world out there too, outside of your comfort zone, waiting for you to experience!

– Stephkt  IMG_20150426_234411Some of my family 🙂

IMG_20150427_000926My Aunt, who have been told I look like most of my life. I see it a little!

IMG_20150424_184143My cousin, Vinny!

Find Your Tribe: For Paul Walker

friendship

The twenties are all about finding yourself. You try some things. You make some choices. You take some chances. You fall. You bruise. You get back up and try again. What a roller coaster ride!

At 24, I am constantly becoming more aware of who I am, my likes, my dislikes, my passions, the things I value most, the things that can use some changing, the things that I hold valuable and other things that I can lighten my grip on. The twenties are one big decade of learning, and a big part of that journey to self discovery is finding the people who will make the journey with you.

I recently saw Furious 7, the seventh installment to the Fast and Furious franchise. I had read reviews that said there hasn’t been one dry in eye in theater after the movie’s ending, and I was no exception to that. Typically, when characters exit in a film, you can walk away knowing it was just acting, but this film leaves you with a gripping sense of finality. As most of the world knows, one of the lead characters, Paul Walker, died in a car crash November 30, 2013. The movie had not yet finished filming before Walker’s tragic death, which makes its message of brotherhood, friendship and solidarity ring all the more true.

The film franchise has been criticized at times for its sometimes predictable story lines and not so stellar acting. Even if fast cars, action and muscle aren’t you’re idea of a good time, there is a message we can all take from, not only the Fast and Furious films’ message, but the people behind it: the value of true friendship.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Life has little to do with the destination. The destination is but a mere, hazy mirage in the distance. Life is not all about the journey because even that can seem unbearable at times. Life is mostly about people, the ones who run along side you and make the journey ahead not as hard.”

Vin Diesel has been quoted recently as saying that the friendships seen in the movie are not just acting, but they are the real thing. Paul Walker was not just his co-star the last 15 years, but his best friend, a brother, not by blood but by choice. And that my dear readers is what life is all about, finding your tribe, finding the people who will take you good and bad, love you at your best and love you through your worst.

“This movie is more than a movie. You’ll feel it when you see it. Something emotional happens to you. When you walk out of this movie, you’ll appreciate everyone you love. You just never know when the last day is that you are going to see them,” says Diesel in a USA Today news story.

People. Life is all about people, they are what fill the pages of your life with beautiful colors, laughter, joy, tears. Though difficult and trying at times, people are what make life worth living. I have learned and am still learning that we are built for community. Friendship is a gift, a rarity. True friendship is a bond that can’t be contrived or forced.

If you haven’t found that true friendship yet, don’t worry. The best way to find it is just by being your most authentic self. So don’t bend and break in an effort to find it, but when you find authentic ones, ones where you are safe to be 100 percent yourself, yet dangerous enough that you are challenged to grow, hold onto them with all you’ve got. Because friends, authentic friends, are the family we choose. They’re what life is all about (and they make any journey, especially the twenties, worth the ride.)

Be sure to watch the video for the movie’s single, See You Again. It’ll be sure to get stuck in your heard.

-Stephkt

Lessons Learned from Cinderella

cinderella

“Be kind, and have courage.”

Last month, Cinderella captivated the hearts and minds of moviegoers across the country. A bestseller in the box office, Cinderella proved that the goodness and purity of heart seen in age old fairytales never go out of style. I walked out of the theater feeling more hopeful than I had in a long time. I felt motivated to face the giants in my own life, to keep trying when circumstances around me seem bleak, and to hold onto my smile even when life doesn’t play fair.

Ella, the main character, is born into a seemingly picture perfect life. The safe haven of her home is held up by the pillars of love, consistency and safety that her mom and dad provide, but Ella’s world is shaken when an unexpected illness suddenly takes the life of her mother. On her death bed, her mother gives her a last bit of wisdom, words that will stick with Ella the rest of her life and drive the plot of the movie: “A great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer…..Be kind, and have courage.”

So simple and concise, yet powerful: Be kind, and have courage. Ella did not know it at the time, but these words would carry her through some of the most trying times of her life, her father’s marriage to a gold digging woman, the death of her father, and the mental and emotional abuse of her stepmother and stepsisters.  In the end, Cinderella is able to rise above the circumstances surrounding her because of the faith she chooses to hold onto.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Be kind, and have courage.”

I know it sounds silly and super simplistic, but today’s advice for us twentysomethings is based on a fairytale. Fairytales, after all, do have important lessons we can all use some reminding of. The decade known as the twenties is full of ups and downs, ebbs and flows. We make a lot of mistakes and go through a lot of challenges during this period of our lives, but I believe if we can learn to get back up as much as we are knocked down, we would master the art of life. Because that is what life is all about: getting back up!

What does it take to get back up after a rough season of your life? Courage. What does it take to not grow angry, bitter or hardened? Kindness. What does it take to hold onto the childlike awe and wonder of the kid in you that used to believe in the magic of fairytales? Courage. What does it take to forgive when people treat you in an unfair manner or when the hand dealt to you isn’t fair? Kindness.

So have  courage and be kind. It will see you through a lot of the troubles that your twenties and life, in general, will bring your way. Be encouraged!

-Stephkt

Just Take A Step

steps

I have always been a bit of a worrier. When I was a little kid, I remember envisioning my life as this uphill climb. The hill represented the structure of my life, school, church, family, friends. There was an order to life. First, there was elementary school, then middle school, high school and college. Church was every Sunday and Wednesday. Family and friends were the people that filled my life.

Structure. There was structure. However, in my vision the structure only went so far. Once I got to a certain point in my life (hello adulthood), once I climbed to the top of the hill, there was no longer a set in stone structure, no instruction manual, no definite yes or no, just a free fall. The free fall after the climb terrified me.

Why did the free fall scare me so much? Let’s be honest, why does it still scare me even a little to this day? Choices. Because there are choices to be made and so many options. What career path will I choose? What college will I attend? What will I study? Will I go to grad school? Will I date this guy or that one? Will I move away from home or move back home for a little while? Will I open myself up to this new friendship? Should I hold onto this friendship or is it time to let it go?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

Just take a step. It’s okay if you get it wrong!

Questions. All awaiting a yes or no from ME. The task to decide, to choose, to lead, to be an adult can be hard. It can be downright scary, but here is what I am realizing: It’s okay to take a step, even if you get it wrong! Let me repeat: It’s okay to make a choice, a decision, to say yes or no, to take a chance. You don’t have to be so fearful of getting the answer wrong that you choose not to make a move at all.

Life is not a quiz where you circle yes or no and if you choose the wrong answer, then you fail. Yes, life is full of choices, but I am here to tell you that twenties are a great time to step out without fear of the free fall. Let’s say you take that job offer or say yes to that first date. As long as you do not have any huge red flags and your conscious isn’t telling you to hit the breaks, it won’t hurt to take a chance, to step out onto the water and get a little wet.

If I could go back, I would tell my teenage self to stop worrying about life after high school, to stop worry about not picking the right major or the right school, and to just step out and take a chance. I promise even if you or I were to make a “terribly wrong decision,” we’d be okay. So just follow your instincts when you are faced with choices, and if you aren’t sure what choice to make, take a step, one step at a time and go from there.

– Stephkt

The Twenties: A Happy In Between

middleroadLife as Told by an Upcoming, Twenty Something is usually a place where you can come for great advice, a kick in the rear, a companion to tell you, “Yes, I know the 20s are rough, but you can succeed!” This is a place to come find encouragement and hope for another week in your tumultuous twenties.

It’s all about the motivation here, but today I am going for a different vibe, a good laugh because we all need one. If you have ever felt old in your twenties, well here’s a video that will reassure you that you are and make you laugh out loud at least once: Do Teens Know 90s Music?

I can only watch the video once because I start to feeling like I am a day over ancient. The part that gets me is when one of the girls says, “My sisters played it. And they’re like really old, 20s, 25.” To a girl who is 24, going on 25, that was enough to make me feel like I need to hang it up and go register for the AARP.

Funny thing about your twenties is that we constantly get mixed messages. Thirty somethings tell us we are babies and have so much to learn. Teenagers think we are ancient and have fallen off the face of the Earth.

Well, here’s some good news: You are right in the middle where you should be. Yes, you have survived high school, your teenage years and many of you have survived or almost made it out of college. You have taken your first steps into the real world and look at you! Adulthood doesn’t look bad on you, but yes, you do still have a lot to learn. You are reminded of this by your weekly, if not daily, mishaps and blunders that leave you wanting to crawl up in the fetal position or on the phone crying to your mother.

But here’s to you kid! You are making it. You are surviving and taking the curve balls that the twenties bring your way. Remember it’s all ebbs and flows. The twenties are just a happy in between so enjoy while it lasts. One day when you’re thirty something, believe it or not, you will miss the uncertainty and adventure of this time.

-Stephkt