The Longest Winter

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Peaking out from my window, all I see is white. Layers and layers of white. As a fresh layer of powder covers the remnants of yesterday’s snowfall, all I can think to myself is whether or not the snow will ever end. The groundhog must have seen it’s shadow. Either that, or this must be the longest winter known to mankind.

Life can get to feeling like that sometimes, too. When the sun doesn’t seem to come out for days or months in your corner of the world, and the winter season just doesn’t seem to pass. When you’re in a place, where you are desperate to see the first sign of life and growth, but all you see is frozen, dead and infertile land.

The twenties are full of winter seasons. When you’ve worked so hard and tried and done everything you know to do, yet and still, NOTHING seems to be happening in one area of your life or another.  There’s no bud that shows promise for something new, for growth, for change. It can feel like winter will never pass.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“This too shall pass.”

Here’s the foolproof, 100% guaranteed, sure thing about seasons: they end. Winter will end. And if you are in what seems like an impossible season of your life right now, it will end. Sunny days are in your future forecast.

Saying all this to say: Keep going! Keep going! Keep going! Don’t stop. I’m not sure what area of your life you may be in a winter season in, whether it be career, dating or family/friend relationships, but I want to encourage you to keep trying. If you have a dream or a goal that you are working toward and the journey to getting there has seemed nearly impossible, keep going. Keep putting in the work. Keep staying faithful. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You know the cool thing that comes with winter? Snow days. Snow days are great for quiet. So if you are in a winter season of your life right now, maybe it’s time to reframe your perspective on what this time of your life is all about. Maybe you’re in need of a little rest and relaxation, and for that matter recuperation. I know, as twentysomethings, we want nothing more than to go, go, go! But sometimes in life there are quiet seasons. And that’s okay.

Don’t be discourage by the snow falling outside. Breathe. Take it in. Take this time for what it is: a time to rest. But keep believing that a time will come when the sun breaks through the clouds, the snow melts and the winter season ends. Give it time. You’ll be ready to bloom in no time.

– Stephkt

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The Twenties: A Time to Deal

Aaah the twenties! Such a formative decade, full of ups and downs. Full of growing pains. This blog is all about chronicling my life as a twenty something and my lessons learned. Hopefully, all you twenty somethings can relate to the embarrassing moments, life lessons, love mistakes, job woes and friendship growing pains, I divulge each week and that you find them to be both entertaining and inspiring.

Awhile ago, I heard someone say something that piqued my interest. They said something along the lines of,” Your twenties are a time to work through all the issues you’ve developed since childhood, grow and learn how to take the good into your adulthood.”

Here’s what I took from that statement, your twenties are a great time for counseling, whether unofficial or official. I don’t say this in humor or in jest. Get some counseling, whether with a professional in an office with a leather chair and polished furniture, at the foot of the bed with your head in your bible or in long talks with a trusted friend. Start learning to deal with things now. Whatever that looks like for you, start processing through the last twenty something years of your life and deal with stuff.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Your twenties are a great time for counseling, whether unofficial or official.”

Between the ages of 20 and 29, you are kind of in the in between. You’re no longer legally a minor, bending at the word of whatever adult is in charge, but you’re not quite an adult yet either. You’re still figuring out how to balance work life, bills, travel, family and friends. You’re taking baby steps, but steps nonetheless, on the road to becoming a full fledged adult. Why not use your “in between” to take the stuff that’s happened to propel you forward?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun.”  Whether you are a spiritual person or not, you can still find some relevance in this statement. This verse and really this whole chapter explains that there is a time for everything under the sun. I guarantee you, as a twenty something year old, you probably have your share of baggage, little secrets and parts of your story that aren’t so pretty. There’s a time to deal and to tear down old walls, and that time my friends, is now.

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Each of us has a story. Maybe your childhood was all bunnies and roses. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe college for you was full of nothing but studying, acing classes and volunteering in the community. Or maybe it was full of heartache, wreckless nights, and stories you may never feel quite comfortable sharing with your future spouse. Whichever is true for you, it’s okay. It really is.

The best service you can do yourself and the world around is to use this time in your early adulthood to grow, to mend, to learn how you think and why you think that way, to understand your triggers, to reflect on how your parents’ shortcomings or struggles may have affected you, to heal from past hurts, to figure how who you are and who you want to become.

On the path to becoming who you are meant to be, you have to first deal with the person you have become. Take sometime to reflect. Take a little rest and relaxation to deal with what life has handed to you. Sometimes reflecting back helps you find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

– Stephkt

Hope for a Bad Day

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Do you ever have days that are just terrible?! Days that are so awful, you can’t even find the words. I had a day like this just last week. I got my first speeding ticket. Then, I was late to work and ended up having to stay late to finish up some work. On top of that, I had six mosquito bites. Count ‘em! Six! I don’t know about you, but when I get bit by mosquitoes, my skin gets really red and the bites get so huge, it looks like I have a skin eating virus, only heard of in foreign countries. To add fire to the flame, a coworker and I seemed to be butting heads. All in all, it was a day I’d like to forget.

My bad day could have been a lot worse. That’s the thing about bad days, they can always be worse. As I was sitting in my car on the side of the highway waiting for the officer to write my ticket, for some strange reason I wasn’t freaking out. Even when I showed up to work, I was surprisingly calm. Before I clocked in, I said a quick prayer, calmed my anxieties and remembered that a bad day is not the end of the world.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Take a deep breath, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

It wasn’t some magical moment. My bad day wasn’t erased, but I could feel my anxiety and worry starting to lift. The problems were all still there. The $150 ticket was still in my purse. The tension between my coworker and I was still there. The mosquito bites were still burning (badly, might I add). The work for the day was still piling up, but I had peace.

Here’s the thing about life: There will be good days and bad days. There will be moments when we succeed and moments when we fail. There will be victories and setbacks. There will be laughter and mourning. My faith gives me so much hope for the bad days. Through it all, I understand that peace of mind is something I can choose to have or choose to give away. I can always choose to hope. Even in a hurricane. Even in loss. Even in suffering. Even in death. Even on my worst day.

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

I was quite surprised that I was able to handle my day without any tears or breakdowns. No bad words were said either! So when bad  things happen to me or when I mess up, I have learned and am still learning to choose to hope. Whatever it is, whatever comes my way, I can always choose peace. I am not gonna lie, of course I do not want to pay a $150 ticket! However, when I prayed that prayer at work and chose to no longer dwell on everything going wrong, I was resetting my focus, I was taking my eyes off all the bad around me and choosing to fix my eyes on the good.

Maybe you are having a bad day, week, month or even year. Maybe your bad day is a lot worse than a speeding ticket and being late to work. You might be dealing with an illness, the loss of a loved one, or a broken heart. Whatever you are walking through today, know this: There is always hope. You can choose to hope. While you cannot always choose the hand you are dealt in life, you can choose how you will respond. Choose to hope even on a bad day.

-Stephkt

A Cinderella Story

As I loaded heavy trash bags onto the dolley and rolled them and several (hundred it seemed) boxes to the not so rosey smelling garbage drop, I could only think in my head, “This can’t be the end of my story. This has got to be the part where I am sweeping floors and serving people like Cinderella, but there’s got to be more.”

Feet aching, back sore, feeling defeated, I finished performing the closing duties at my part-time (on the verge of full-time with all the hours I was working) second job at the Mall of America. Working two jobs and having barely enough energy to do anything but sleep wasn’t my ideal post-college life. I had done everything I was supposed to in school. Dreamed big. Worked really hard. So what was the deal? Why did I find myself waking up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for work and getting home at 11 p.m.? Why was I sick almost every day of the week? Why was I too cranky and tired to want to hang out with my roommate and her friends? Why did my heart break every time I wrote a check for the rent or bought groceries? This couldn’t be my story. There had to be more. Right?

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Here’s the thing that I have learned. Life takes work, often really hard, grueling, painful work. So often we want the green pastures and rolling hills without actually doing the work. We, you and I, have to put in the work to get where we are going and after we have done everything there is to do, we wait. Life requires a lot of time and patience I am learning.

At 22, I often find myself imagining what my life will be like at 30. House, husband, kids, amazing career. I envy 30-year-olds sometimes. They seem so poised and confident. They seem to have it all together. And then I stop and I wonder if maybe 30-year-olds look at us 20-somethings the same way. Maybe they look at us with envy, thinking “I wish I was her age again, carefree, passionate, the world at her fingertips.” Then I stop and the whole “the grass isn’t always greener” metaphor suddenly makes sense. Maybe what I, and anybody who is going through a season of change, growing pains and hurdles, need to do is stop and smell the roses as we wait.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Good things come to those who wait.”

What I am finding is that so many people, including myself, want the fairytale ending but forget the part where Cinderella, and all of her princess counterparts, had seemingly insurmountable odds to overcome. There is no such thing as an overnight success or instant fairytale ending. But do you know what is a fairytale? Your story. My story. The hard days and the good days, they are all a part of the magical fairytale you are telling. They are a part of the master plan God has for you and I. They are a part of the blueprint to shape you and make you into a better person.

Sometimes I sit and imagine what my life will be like. What kind of man will I marry? How many children will we have? What magazine will I work at? What kind of movies will I write? Will I get the chance to move back to New York? Will I ever have the coveted zip code 90210? Will my husband and I settle down eventually in the south? Will I get to check off everything on my bucket list? Will I see all 50 states and travel overseas? Will I be able to take care of my parents? Will I make an impact on young women? Will I make a difference?……….I hope reading that didn’t give you as much of a headache as it does when I think like that.

What I am learning is the importance of trust. For me, my faith is in God and trusting that He has a plan for my life. I have hope. In the hard times, I believe that I am being shaped and molded into a better person. During seasons of loneliness, I trust that I am learning to stand on my own two feet with independence and confidence. In times of confrontation and strife, I believe I am learning how to better communicate, listen and speak up for myself. In times of change, I believe I am being thrust into the world to grow. In times of quiet and stillness, I know I am learning  to trust and wait.

So stop trying to rush through life. Stop trying to get the fairytale ending without first doing the work and the waiting. Nothing will happen before it’s time. After you have busted your tail to earn your dreams, breathe. Your time will come.

Here is a perfect song with that message: Daley- Those Who Wait. Enjoy!

-Stephkt