Never Stop Celebrating

I had the wonderful privilege of turning 24 this past Wednesday and man do I feel old! The sentiments of feeling old probably have more to do with my personality than my actual age. I am an old soul. I think I was going on 35 when I was just 13.

Birthdays are a great thing. I look at them as an opportunity to reflect, a time to look back at the last year of ups and downs and the years before and assess how I have changed. 23 was certainly a year of growth for me. A mixture of laughter, tears, loss, love, stepping outside my comfort zone, trying at new things and sometimes failing, it was a year for the books. It was definitely a year worth remembering.

A friend of mine turned 24 a few months before me, and when I wished her a happy birthday, I asked her what her plans were to celebrate her day. I was quite disappointed to find that she didn’t have anything planned. My thought was, “It’s your day! You gotta celebrate you.” Now celebrating does not have to entail the typical night on the town, drinking and dancing. Celebrating can look like whatever you want, whether it’s going to the spa, treating yourself to a nice meal, time well spent with people you care about or sleeping in late.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Run, leap and celebrate for you are alive today!” Bryant McGill

The opportunities to celebrate are endless, but my friend didn’t find it necessary to celebrate. I believe her words were, “It’s just another birthday.” Stop there. Just another birthday? There’s no such thing. Yea, 24 may not be as much of a milestone as 18, 21 or even 50, but it’s a big deal. This your life were are talking about! If you don’t celebrate you, who will?

I don’t know about you but I never what to have the “just another birthday” mindset. I don’t want to cringe at the calendar when I realize I am another year older. I am 24 today and it is quite fabulous! I am so happy to be alive because I understand that not everyone made it to where I am today. I am so happy for the stumbling blocks, the mistakes and the lessons learned. I am so grateful for the people who have walked in my life. Even though some only came around for a season, they came to teach me something and I know I am better for it.

I am so grateful to see 24. As a twenty something, I think this is probably the best mentality to have, gratitude. Don’t waste time despising the fact that you are getting older. Embrace it. Embrace every season for what it brings. Don’t waste time wishing you were younger because you will miss out on your NOW.

Got to celebrate my birthday with several birthday dinners with family and friends this year, lots of cards and presents and a road trip with my best friend packed with ziplining, wine tasting and New Orleans cuisine. It was the best birthday yet!

-Stephkt

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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