Thursday, April 21, 2016


Hello, world...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about life and the stories that come out of it. I think we all have this inherent notion that life is supposed to be how we first envisioned it would be. The thing is, life is a series of twists and turns, love and loss, joy and pain, and we are supposed to adapt along the way. For most of us, it takes something huge and often heartbreaking to realize this.

For most of my life, I definitely dreamed of a life significantly different than the one I have. The first time I realized life was not all that I imagined it would be, I was thirteen. My entire teenage existence was a nightmare; mentally, emotionally and physically a nightmare. Every year I would tell tell myself "Don't worry, this year things will change and it will be how it should be." In college, with the realization that I would never be happy going down the career path that I had wanted for most of my life, I walked away from it. That was the first time that I realized I needed to adjust the dream. Shortly after that, there was a man who damn near broke me. I left Chicagoland and moved to Florida to find myself again.

Even though I had dealt with my dad's heart issues since I was eight, in terms of my parents at least, it never occurred to me that emotionally, I could be more terrified than I had been at seventeen years old. I had to drive my dad to the emergency room while he was having a heart attack and sit with him for hours by myself. It shaped me in so many ways. However, weeks after moving to Florida, my mom; my rock, my best friend and the person who has always understood the physical anguish I endured for so long, was diagnosed with cancer. It scared me like nothing else in life ever had before. During that summer, I lost my last grandparent and watched one of my uncles go through cancer as well. I realized then that life really is fleeting and again that life doesn't usually go how you imagine that it will.

Flash forward a couple of years to when I was living in DC and had a new life dream take shape. I thought that I was so happy and had everything that I had ever wanted, and for a while that was in fact the case. The one day I learned how much of it had been a lie, perhaps a mere figment of my imagination. From past experiences, I knew that if I stayed, it would break me like nothing else ever had before. I removed myself from that situation and at the time, I didn't know just how much that would change my life.

My story felt like chapter after chapter of pain, loss and uncertainty. After dealing with sickness (my own and that of many family members) for such a long time, love and loss, and dreams fading away, I decided that enough was enough. My dream was no longer that life would be a certain way, but that I would live life a certain way from there on out. For so long I placed my happiness and my dreams into the hands of others, and not surprisingly, I was always let down. I realized one day that while God holds my future, and he knows how my story ends, I am the one who tells the story. I am the one who gets to close out a chapter to better myself. I am the one who determines my own happiness.

Last year in my little corner of the world here, I talked a lot about changing your story if you don't like it. I've allowed so many things in life to hold me back from embracing who and what I am called to be. I don't anymore. After I left DC, I realized that I hadn't loved or liked myself even in such a long time. I allowed myself to be jaded by others. What power do you give to others that you shouldn't? What's holding you back from thriving and truly loving yourself?

Before my dad died last year, I had been truly living and loving myself. After he was gone, it became so difficult to believe that I could ever be happy again. I have openly talked about my struggle with grief, and it's likely that my past issues with depression made it even harder. I've said that I cried daily for months. The pain would let up for a while and then something would set me off. I read earlier today that grief is not a normal wound. Truer words have never been spoken. We all grieve differently and there is no wrong way to do grieve. Eventually though, we adjust to a new normalcy that we didn't sign up for and it's okay again. I'm happy in this new normalcy and there is peace inside of me again.

We don't always get to choose the things that happen to us. The choice we get to make is whether or not we want to stay where we are at in life. If you're unhappy, do something about it. If you don't like your story, you have a few choices. You can stay in that chapter and hope that it gets better and maybe it will. You can close the chapter all together and start the next one and maybe that will be enough for some of you. However, if you're anything like me, there have been so many chapters filled with physical pain, emotional struggles and loss that simply starting another chapter just won't cut it anymore. Write a new story.
Decide that you deserve more and go after it. Don't allow yourself to stay stuck in situations that do nothing but shatter your hopes and dreams. Place your happiness into your own hands. And when you come to a place of happiness and peace, share your story and make a difference in another persons life. I know that for being thirty years old, I've gone through more than most can fathom. I could have decided a long time ago to be angry and to question God for why he would allow all of these things. Instead, I chose to believe that there was a purpose to all of it. For the longest time, I didn't understand the purpose. My journey and my story has been read by people in almost 80...EIGHTY countries now. I've had people tell me that because of my story, they had hope again, that they had courage and found strength. My soul lights up when someone thanks me for being able to share my stories. Knowing that I help even just one person makes all of it worth it.

Share your stories; not only will you help others in the process, but it will bless you, too.


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