The Longest Winter

winter

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 percent 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! Yet, sometimes in life, there are quiet seasons. And that’s okay.

Don’t be discouraged 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 Simplicity of It All

The twenties are such a fluid time, full of change and ups and downs. I am a bit of a nomad myself. Change, spontaneity and adventure seem to fit me pretty well, but I had an a really humbling epiphany recently. In the hustle and bustle of the twenties, the rat race of career, marriage and the climb to success, it is important not to forget what matters. It is important to value the little things.

So maybe you’re not catching my point yet. Am I saying that career, relationship and finding your place in the world shouldn’t be your focus in your twenties? By all means, no. What I am saying is that it should not be your only priority.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“In the hustle of life, don’t forget to stop, look around and say thank you.”

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group of young adults at a senior citizen’s living facility. I met the sweetest lady named Jean. She was dressed in a red polka dotted blouse, red cardigan and navy pants, with a beautiful smile to top it off. Although Jean had a hard time with her short term memory and kept asking the same questions, she also couldn’t stop telling me how much she appreciated seeing our group’s smiling faces.

Jean explained that when you live in a senior’s living facility, you don’t get outside as much as you do when you’re young. You miss the sway of trees, the brilliance of the sun and the scent of flowers. She also told me she really appreciates interactions with people now more than ever. Her living facility has three meals per day: Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Lunch at 11:30 a.m. and dinner at 4:00 p.m. She is promptly downstairs for every meal. I can only imagine in her best outfit and with her big smile.

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Jean, my best friend and I at lunch

Jean taught me an important lesson: to value the little things. In your twenties, it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the world around you and not stop to really appreciate all you have. So you may not have the perfect job you’d imagined back in college. Be thankful that you have a job. So you’re single yet again for another Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you have plenty of family and friends who love and appreciate you.

So what, you’re life isn’t perfect. Welcome to the club. You still have a lot more life to live. Jean reminded me the value of a grateful heart and the joy in appreciating the littlest things. I know everywhere you look, people are encouraging you to speed up and get ahead, but maybe just take a moment, stop, look around and breathe it all in and appreciate what this season of your life has to offer. You should literally take time out of your day to smell the roses around you and gaze at the stars. An appreciative heart is always a full heart.

– Stephkt

The 21st Summer

So tomorrow, September 10, is my 22nd birthday. I have no big party or dinner planned.  No night out on the town with the girls.  Yet and still I am very excited for tomorrow. I get to celebrate my life!! I have grown to realize the beauty of each day and it’s simplest gifts.

Life is like a novel. It is full of chapters and scenes.  Different characters grace the pages. Some come in and are quickly gone, while others leave a more permanent impression. We are the authors of our happiness and thus determine whether or not our days, or chapters, will be filled with love, light and hope.

This past year has been one of many ups and downs for me. My senior year of college brought a lot of changes, some harder than others but all worth the lessons learned. I have come to the reality that while everyone gets older, not everyone actually grows up.  Maturing and learning is a choice.  To really take time to have self reflection and have that “man in the mirror” moment that Michael Jackson so famously coined in his song, takes initiative and self discipline.  It means acknowledging and coming to terms with truths about ourselves, that although not always pretty are nonetheless worth the facing, accepting and changing when applicable. Learning and maturing isn’t easy, which is why everyone does not do it. To say the least, this year has been a humbling experience for me. I have had to face my own ugly truths, lost friends, gained friends, gotten closer to my family and God and been pushed more than I thought possible.  In the end, I know that it is all worth it.

As the quote by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says,

“The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Here are some of the lessons I have learned this year.  This past summer has given me a lot of time for self reflection and to just be still.  Aaaaah…… be still.  Those words are so powerful.  If you have never really done that, just sat and stared at the clouds or the stars or listened to the rain or said a prayer and waited to hear from God or to feel peace, I suggest some major “be still” time for you my friend.

Along with the things I have learned, I added some of my favorite pictures from this past year below! I hope these things are of some help! They are simple but have meant a world of difference in my life this year and have helped me gain perspective.

Lessons Learned

1: The power of my thoughts (the power of positive thinking). Your emotions are dependent upon your thoughts.

Dog walking at the Humane Society

2: The importance of having self respect (confidence and love for yourself) as a woman. “We must learn to fight for ourselves the way we fight for our own children.” Ann Curry

My 21st birthday with my very two first friends in the state of Oklahoma

3: To put your hope in God alone. Titles, relationships amd material things fade. God is the only constant.

The Helmers, my adopted grandparents and OSU alumni

4: No one has power over you unless you give it to them. You choose your response. Women are powerful.

My sorority little sister and I at OSU Homecoming 2011

5: In relationships and friendships, learn to listen. Really listen to the other person. Communication (open, honest, and real) is a must. Don’t fight to be right. Fight for resolution. To have a friend, you must learn to be a friend.

Myself and the Office of Multicultural Affairs Misses for 2011-2012

6: Stay close to the source of your identity and worth, which is God. Time with God and in his word is a must.

Me and one of my oldest friends, Dajai, in Michigan to bring in the new year

7: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Allow yourself to feel and to hurt, to be sad, to smile, to fall down and to laugh at falling down. Give yourself time and space to grow.

Oklahoma State’s Founding Dance Marathon Executive Team

8. Love your family.  They are your built in team sent from God from birth. Hard times and fights may come, but don’t let momentary feelings ever stop you from appreciating the people in your life.

Meeting my godsister for the first time!

Here are some more photos from the year:

The Sarah Smith of the University of Central OklahomaErica DeLoera, a great friend and future L.A. fashionistaStudent Alumni Board 2011-2012Gameday working in the suites!The final two contestants for the Miss Black OSU 2012 pageantHalloween 2011 The Student Alumni Board 2012 Graduating Seniors

Stephkt