The Miley Trend

I often play devil’s advocate. I don’t get enjoyment out of disagreeing with people just for the fun of it, but as a journalist, I have come to understand that there is always two sides to a story and most (if not all) things in life are not black and white. Case and point: Miley Cyrus.

I got into a conversation with a coworker the other day about making mistakes in your late teens and twenties. We were discussing a young lady who is 18 and recently decided to get married to a guy she has been dating for only a few weeks. (Lets give her some credit and say it has been a month). While most people would immediately judge this young women and the situation as rash, immature and just plain, for lack of a better word, dumb, I think there’s more to the story. Do I think getting married at 18 to someone you’ve only been dating for a short time is a good idea? No. Would I condone this to my future children? No. However, I do believe that everyone needs to be free to make their mistakes.

Miley Cyrus is a prime example. Miley recently turned 21 and it seemed like 2013 was her big coming out party. From her breakup with Liam Hemsworth, to her pixie hairdo, to her Wrecking Ball video to her performance on the VMAs with Robin Thicke, Miley’s behavior has drawn a lot of attention. Of course, she has gotten a lot of backlash for her actions this past year. For the most part, it seems that little miss Miley doesn’t care but continues to do one outrageous thing after another.

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(Photo via posh24.com)

Just to be clear, this is not an “I love Miley Cyrus” post. Truthfully, I am not much of a Miley fan.  I don’t dislike her but I am not the first to buy her album or a ticket to her concert. To be honest, I was only able to watch the Wrecking Ball video once. My stomach was just cringing as I sat in my living room watching her straddle a ball completely naked for the world to see. But hey, if that’s her definition of art and that’s the truth she needs to express, who I am I to sit and judge her.

The thing is Miley, just like the engaged 18-year-old, needs the freedom to make her own choices and with that she also needs to be free to make her own mistakes. Do I think Miley thrusting her backside on Robin Thicke was the best idea? No. Do I think that this 18-year-old should be getting married to someone she has known for such a short time? Well, no. But I also believe that falling down is how you learn.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody)

“I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I don’t regret making any of them, because if I hadn’t made them I wouldn’t have learned how to make things right.” – 13 going on 30

My coworker and I disagreed because she was quick to judge Miley and the 18-year-old as dumb people because of their bad decisions. I think “idiot” may have been her word for them. If every person in the world who has ever made a mistake or a really bad choice is an idiot or just a really bad person, well then there are a lot of idiots and dumb people out there. I know I have made some really bad choices and I am only 23. I am sure I will make more mistakes. Looking back on the bad choices I’ve made, I wouldn’t change any of them because I learned from them. I grew. I matured. I changed. Isn’t that what life is all about? Making mistakes, learning and growing.

So hey, yea Miley made some not so wise decisions last year. Maybe when she’s 30 or 40, she’ll look back and think maybe she could have done some things differently. Maybe the 18-year-old girl will find that her marriage is short lived or doesn’t bring her whatever she is searching for. I think people need to be free to make their own choices and mistakes. By all means, if you are in a person’s inner circle (i.e. family or close friends) feel free to warn people and try to give them the most caring advice, but whether they listen or not, you have to be okay with that.

Do you know how many times I wanted to call up Rihanna and tell her not take back Chris Brown? Or how many times I’ve wanted to tell Justin Bieber to not pee in buckets? Or to tell Taylor Swift to not date that boy 5 years younger than her? None of these people are even my close friends. It’s just my perspective as an outsider looking in, but just because I may disagree with others’ choices, I try my best to not judge them as bad people. We all make bad decisions. Those decisions have repercussions, which always bring lessons that are perfectly fit for us. If we really sit with those lessons and ask what they have come to teach us, there’s the marvelous opportunity to grow.

Hoping the best for Miley Cyrus and any other 20 something (or younger or older) who has made mistakes and lots of them!

Stephkt

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20 Something Advice from 2013

There’s only a few more hours left until the new year! There is something exhilarating about the beginning of something new. The end of one thing and the beginning of the next is refreshing, empowering, enlightening. New starts are what life is all about. If 2013 was a great year for you, I hope that carries over in to 2014. For those of you who would say 2013 wasn’t your greatest year, I hope you can take whatever lessons you might have learned from the lows and use them to become a better version of yourself in the next year. Here are some of the best lessons I’ve learned this year and wise words that were passed my way. Happy 2014!!

2013 Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody)

Don’t ever let failed attempts get to you. Work ten times harder to succeed.

“If you aren’t at least a little afraid that you’ll fail, you haven’t aimed high enough.” Rachel Millner, Levo League

Be open to the opportunities that present themselves to you. You never know where life will take you.

The choice to change is yours in every moment.

Be hungry to succeed, not thirsty for attention. The most accomplished people keep low profiles for a good reason.” Lauren Maillian Bias, Levo League

In order to grow, you have to be challenged constantly.

When you leave home, you miss family, friends and familiar places. It’s hard but you grow, and that is the best part.

“Do the best you can with what you know and when you know better, you do better.”  Maya Angelou

“Surround yourself with dreamers, doers, believers and thinkers. Most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness in you.” Edmund Lee

Every situation perceived properly is an opportunity for healing.

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” Shauna Niequist

An educated woman is an unstoppable force.

If a pair of shoes doesn’t fit today, they won’t fit tomorrow. Neither will that guy or that job. Don’t settle.

“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent of how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindoll

It’s good to be successful and take care of business, but make sure to enjoy life too.

When it comes to your career, refuse to put yourself in a box.

You have to flexible and open. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Woody Allen

We are each a product of our environment. But there comes a point when we have to take personal responsibility for who we have become.”

Be persistent. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy.

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Some of my favorite memories from 2013

Have the best New Year’s Eve. See you in 2014!

– Stephkt

Say What You Need to Say

The sky is overcast and the ground is damp from the morning rain showers. Today is a quiet day in quaint, little Tulsa, Oklahoma. The perfect day for rain boots, cozy sweaters, hot cocoa and movie marathons. It is also the perfect day for writing. I haven’t been blogging as frequently the last three months since my move from Minneapolis to Tulsa. I guess I have just been cultivating ideas. They say the best writing comes with experience and I have been experiencing a lot.

My biggest prayer for 2013 has been for growth. To grow as a young woman, as a sister, as a daughter, as a career woman, as a friend and as someone who will someday be a wife and mother. Growth. That has been my focus all year. The saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” is no joke! While good and healthy, growth isn’t easy! At times, it can be downright painful. For me, 2013 has been tragically and uncomfortably beautiful. I have been pushed, humbled, tested, knocked down, shaken, pressured and humbled again. But I wouldn’t take back a minute of it.

I recently encountered some controversy in my life. What it came down to was my willingness to speak up for myself. I will be the first to admit that I struggle in the “communication in conflict” arena. I am guilty of being a people pleaser. I like to get along with everyone. I do not like when people don’t like me. It sucks! In the past. I would have rather not spoken up for myself when I was frustrated or when I felt hurt or disrespected, if it meant keeping peace. Instead of speaking up for myself, I have developed the habit of being quiet. I basically crawl into this little shell and hope no one notices until my hurts and frustrations have passed. But trust me, people take notice.

speakup2Here’s what I am learning: It’s always better to speak up. Say what you need to say, as long as you are doing it in a truthful, respectful and loving way. You cannot live your life for other people. If someone is taking advantage of you, speak up. If someone is being dishonest, speak up. If a friend, coworker or significant other is doing something that affects you negatively, speak up. Because if you don’t, you will keep trying to hide in that little invisible shell and never be heard. You will only bottle things up and hurt yourself. If you are never honest and live to please everyone around you, you will never have the freedom to become the truest version of yourself. And what kind of life is that?

This lesson especially applies to twenty somethings. We are at the beginning of the rest of our lives, the beginning of our careers and the beginning of adulthood. We will have so many opportunities at work and with relationships, friendships and family to speak our truths. I want to master this lesson now while I am 23 and not go a moment longer allowing myself to be anyone’s doormat. Is honesty always going to be easy? No. Sometimes people may not receive what you have to say. They may get upset or offended, but as long as you are approaching the situation with honesty and kindness, that’s all that matters. You have no control over another person’s response.

Twenty Something Advice for Anybody:

“In the end, it’s better to say too much then never to say what you need to say again.”

John Mayer, Say What You Need to Say

Whether you are the person who is never honest, follows the crowd and seeks approval, or you are the person who stays true to who you really are, someone isn’t going to like you. Why not then be true to yourself and live a life of honesty and integrity? I have come to accept this and it is the biggest relief. I do not have to walk on eggshells anymore to make everyone pleased with me. There will always be naysayers. There will always be people who don’t like you and I. My hope is that we stop caring about what “they” think and be true to ourselves in work, family, friendships and dating relationships.

speakup1There is a mantra I read recently that I love: “Love all. Please One.” Focus on being kind and compassionate to everyone but don’t concern yourself with making everyone happy. Instead, focus on living a life of honesty and integrity. For me, this mantra means I have the freedom to be kind and good to everyone, but I am only focused on pleasing God. This is such a relief! Because there’s so much freedom in truth.

These are just some of my lessons learned as a twenty something. I hope by sharing, I can encourage and uplift you. Here’s a little music inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JONA_6ZCrE

-Stephkt

Dating and The Job Search- One in the Same?

The things we experience in our twenties are for the books. The twenties are one big heroic, comedic, action-filled loved story all rolled into one, the makings of any great Blockbuster, or at least a sub-par reality t.v. show.

One thing I’ve been realizing in my twenties tale lately is the parallelism between dating and the job search. As someone who is still figuring out both, let me tell you it ain’t easy.

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There are many people on the road to success in career and love, but not everyone succeeds. So what separates the victors from those who fail? Here are a few tidbits of wisdom that I have stumbled upon in my pitfalls and successes:

1- You need to know YOU first

This is the most basic piece of advice I would give my younger self. There will be a lot of offers out there and many of them will look appealing. As far as dating, there will be the football player in high school. The serial dater pre-college. The first love in college. And countless others. Not every guy who comes your way is worth your time or attention. Not every guys who steps up to bat is going to hit a home run.

It is so important to figure out who you are first. What are your standards? What kind of person do you enjoy spending time with? What are your deal breakers? The commonality in all the above questions is ‘you’. You have to know who you are and what you want before you go looking for someone else. Otherwise, you will always look to another person to complete you. On the job front, there will be many job/internships out there. Don’t just go grabbing at what you see. Before you know it, you will catch yourself settling. First, you need to know your own interests, talents and career goals. Money will never make you happy in the long run.

So do the work. Figure out who you are. How you say? Dabble. Dabble early and dabble often. Experience brings knowledge. It was only through writing and reading a lot as a young girl that I figured out that writing was the career path for me. This, of course, did not happen without me first dabbling in a number of other activities. Growing up, I played soccer, ran track, did ballet, played cello and sang in my church choir. A wide array of experience gave me the knowledge of where my talents lay, who I was and who I wanted to be.  Same goes with dating. While I don’t think you have to date a number of people to figure out who you are, I do think it’s great to mingle. I have a number of male friends who I admire and respect so much. If not guy friends, try family. My dad, godfathers and brother have really helped me build a picture of the kind man I will be with.

Don’t settle for that job offer or the guy just because it or he is there. Be patient. Take your time. Dabble. Travel. Take chances. Learn. Figure out who you are and the rest will fall into place. Trust me that job with the big, fat paycheck won’t look so appealing 6 months later when you are hating your life. Neither will that guy once he gets a beer belly.

2- Patience is key

The waiting game….we all know it well. It is not my favorite place to be. It happens when you apply for a job and do not hear anything back for months. It happens when the guy you like seems to be stringing you along. Both places are no fun. Not fun at all. What I’ve learned is the beauty of time. Without getting too cliche here,  time tells all. If that job or that guy is meant for you, it will be yours. Word to the wise, don’t be desperate for any job or person. Desperation is a bad scent that can be detected from afar. The more desperate you are the more unattractive you become. Just give it time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your success be.

3- Rejection is redirection

Another way I have heard this is, “Rejection is God’s protection.” So you didn’t get the job. After months of waiting, creeping profiles on LinkedIn, and endless emails, you got the news. They decided to hire someone else. Or, the guy, the one you were dead set on, he turned around and broke your heart. He led you on and then finally the truth came out. He is dating someone else. Or maybe things between you two just didn’t work out and the ending of the relationship was mutual.  The lose of that job or relationship has left you feeling rejected. Well, good news. There is something or someone else out there more fitting for you. So don’t get too down. Your time will come. (Don’t forget Step 2). Sometimes the loss of something can seem like the end of the world, but it isn’t. Get back up. Keep your head in the game. Sometimes we loose now only to win big in the end. Whether you face rejection in the job search or the love game, just know that perhaps this was a platform to prepare you for and propel you on to something else, something better.

See I told you. Dating and the job hunt have so much in common. Just keep your head up and don’t get discouraged when things get hard. Tomorrow is always a new 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

I Lived

Almost a year ago, I graduated from college and what a year it has been! If you would have told me a year ago that I would be living in Minneapolis, I probably would have given you a strange look. The past 365 days have taught me about life, its ups and downs and, most importantly, about change. Life does not always go as planned and that’s okay. Sometimes things don’t turn out too great but you learn important lessons. Sometimes it turns out even better than you could have imagined.  The important thing to remember though, through the highs and lows, the dusks and dawns, the beginnings and endings, is to live life to its fullest.

This past week has been a great example of this. With the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant, we have yet again have been reminded about the frailty of life. Just as last year’s shootings in the Newtown, Connecticut schoolhouse and the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado taught us, this past week has painted a grim image of how easily life can be taken away. Subtly, behind every horrific image flashing across our television screens and every morbid headline, the idea was broadcast that this life is short and can easily be taken from us at any moment.

Boston3  boston6  boston5

My goal, my plan, my passion for this life is to live and live to the very fullest. I want to travel, take risks, meet people whose beliefs are different from my own, serve people, make a difference and really get my hands dirty. I want to live and live abundantly. This doesn’t always have to be in the form of grandeur or equate to glitz and glam. This life is full of big moments and little ones that should be as equally embraced.

I want to travel to Africa someday but I also want to remember to take frequent trips to visit my brother in Nashville and my family in Detroit, Tulsa and Atlanta. I want to serve at a national non-profit for young girls but I also want to volunteer at the Humane Society and walk dogs on weekends. I want to go to the Academy Awards someday but I also want to have movie nights with my roommate on Fridays. I want to eat at the finest restaurants in Italy, France and England but I also want to remember to take the time to chop, cut, bake, blend and use my own hands to make a meal. I want to travel the world but always come home for the holidays. I want to taste all different kinds of wines but never forget my Sunday cup of tea. I want to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world through social media but never forget a friend’s birthday card or phone call. I want to cherish every hug, every tear, every smile and every dance this life takes me on.

I want to live. When I look back on my life someday, I’d like to know that I tried. I put my best foot forward at loving others and pursuing my dreams even when it got hard. I want a head full of gray hair, a face full of laugh lines and a bunch of grandchildren sitting around  me because these are the signs of a life well lived. I want to push myself to never give up on this life, to continuously forgive others as well as myself, to be open to change and to keep living. I challenge you to do the same.bostonstrong1bostonstrong2bostonstrong3

“Until my moment comes, I’ll say I did it all.

I owned every second that this world could give.

I saw so many places, the things that I did.

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

I Lived by OneRepublic

With Arms Wide Open

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I’ve heard time and time again that there is nothing new under the sun. (Actually one of my older posts was exactly about this topic: https://stephkt.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/nothing-new-under-the-sun/)

One word of wisdom that I am realizing the importance of is about living with your arms wide open. You know that saying, “If something or someone is yours, let it go. if it is meant to be, it will come back to you.” My dad once gave me this wise bit of advice, and I let it fall by the waist side at the time. Knowing me, I probably disregarded it because as a twenty-something of course I KNOW EVERYTHING! (sense my sarcasm please)

In my 22 years of life, I have had a number of things pass me by. Whether it be relationships, friendships, jobs, colleges I was applying for, in my life some things, well a lot of things, have seemed to slip through my fingers no matter how hard I tried to hold onto them. Being the control freak that I formally was (and am currently growing out of), I tried to force things and people into my life that weren’t meant to be. Looking back, the harder I tried to fight for these things, the more they seemed to evade me.

Here’s what I have learned: Life is just as much about holding on as it is about letting go. It is important to balance the two and to know the difference. While you are fighting and struggling to hold onto that relationship, maybe you are missing the lesson you need to learn from it. Instead of holding onto to that friendship that seems to be falling out, let it go and open the door for new friendships to take its place. Instead of seeing not getting that job or into that university as rejection, just know that there is something else out there for you.

A truth that I want to live by is to love well and live my life with open hands. I want to show up every day, pursue my passions, love others well, give my all and be willing to let go. This is not an excuse to not fight for things. I fervently believe in fighting for family, friends and love, but I also firmly believe in loving with arms wide open, giving my all and being willing to let go.

Will you join me and live this life with open arms and open hands?

Here are two great songs about that topic:

Stephkt