We’re Not Marching

Every once in a while I hear or see something that strikes a chord and lies heavy on my heart. Sometimes it’s a song or TV show, other times it’s a dream or a conversation with a friend. This time, it’s a story I read online and I just can’t shake it.

Glennon from Momastery shared this story on her Facebook wall yesterday…

Monday night, my daughters and I were talking about Bubba and Tisha’s experience and what was happening in Charleston and the black and white responses around the country. We ended up looking at pictures of some old civil rights marches. The girls were quiet. My youngest daughter pointed at some of the marchers and said, “We would have marched with those people, right mama?” I almost said Yes. I almost said: Of course, yes, baby. Yes. But then my older daughter said, “I don’t know. I mean, we’re not marching now.”

We’re not marching now.

I’m not marching now.

That line hit me hard, like a rock to the chest. I can talk the talk. I can say I’m not racist, I can look at the news and say “How terrible! How wrong! How sad!” I can share meaningful well-written articles on Facebook that share my views. I can say I’m standing on the right side of this battle, but I am not marching. I am not really doing anything. I am watching the oppressed from the sidelines. I’m quietly waving a little “go team” flag when what they need is for me to jump in and play the game.

opressed

In fifty years I won’t be able to look back and say I did the right thing, I stood up for those who were hurting or fought for equal rights. I want to love my neighbors (neighbors = EVERYONE) as I love myself, but I am not doing that. I “say” a lot, but the truth is that actions speak much louder than words. It’s time I take action and truly help my neighbors.

The problem is I’m not sure how. I’m not even sure for whom I should be “marching”. Blacks. Women, Gays. Abused children. Orphans. The Homeless. I know the answer is everyone. Everyone is in, and each and every one of us deserves a life of love and happiness. So where do I begin?

Today, I decided the first step was to speak to someone with some insight. Opening up a conversation is the first step to growing and learning. I called one of my only close black friends (which is a very sad fact) and asked for her help. I asked her about racism, the Confederate flag, the current headlines and how each of those affect her. I teared up when I told her about the quote, “not marching” and how I want to be on the right side. I’m embarrassed I never discussed any of this with her sooner.

She listened and she told me her story, how racism is very much alive, abundant and affects her daily. She gets that it’s easy to brush it under the rug when it doesn’t directly affect you, but it’s time we start lifting that rug and pulling out all of those hidden and hard issues. Most importantly she said that this is lying heavy on my heart for a reason. It’s my conscience begging me to listen. She suggested praying about it and then acting on it. It’s ultimately up to me to take action.

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I’m still unsure of how I’ll start my “march”, but I’m ready and willing to learn the true meaning of how to love my neighbor.

Cheers

Unconditional

Have you ever needed to express yourself so badly that it hurt, physically hurt? Is there ever something you needed to say, write, sing, dance, paint, play so desperately that it’s consuming your every thought? You can’t focus, can’t sleep, can’t hold a conversation because there is work, art and poetry that needs to be made and if you don’t do it now it may never get done! So you start, you grab your paintbrush, tie your sneakers, tighten the strings on your guitar or open up your laptop and then…then, what? What you have to say is so deep within you that you don’t even know where to start or how to express yourself in a way that is meaningful and beautiful enough to transcend to anyone outside of yourself. How do you begin?

That’s where I am.

I love people. I love them deeply. I especially love the people in my life. These people, my friends, my family, my coworkers, my bosses, my students, my neighbors, my doctors, my baby… I love them. I love them for who they are and how they love me for who I am. I love them because they are wise, funny, kind, compassionate, caring, creative, hard-working, beautiful, strong and so much more. They are also all a little broken, bruised and even odd. They can be forgetful, selfish, stubborn, absent-minded, late, annoying and disorganized. They have faults, many, because they are real. They are real people who need love, just like me.

type of person

All my life, I’ve been told to love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love as God loves you. Treat others with love and kindness. Above all else, love. Love wins. Love is the one most powerful message I have learned from my parents, my church, my favorite teachers and my mentors. That message has stuck with me through the years. Sometimes it’s at the forefront of my thoughts, and other times it’s tucked back behind my anger and ignorance, but at some point it always rears it’s head to remind me of what matters. Truth is, sometimes anger and ignorance wins. On those days, I go to bed feeling exhausted, sad and disappointed in myself. What did I accomplish with my anger or fear? Nada. When I let go of my anger and allow love in instead, I see change. I see change within my own heart, and within others. Love truly does win.

The other day a friend of mine, a friend I love dearly, let me know that she is transgender.

Was I surprised? A little, but it wasn’t at all shocking. Honestly, I felt honored because I am one of the few people she trusted to know and still love her no matter what. And I do, and I let her know that I do and that I will always be in her corner.

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As I drove home, grief and confusion hit me, but not for the reasons you may think. (I have just as much anxiety for others as I do for myself, it’s exhausting!) Reality began setting in and I couldn’t help but think about the struggles my friend would face, the bullies she would endure and the pain that more than likely lies ahead. However, more than those sad thoughts were the people whom my friend couldn’t trust with her news. The ones who will choose to stop caring for her, the ones who will turn on her and the ones who will no longer have her back.

I let my non-stop mind go silent for just a moment (because I so often find the answers in the silence), just long enough to hear Katy Perry (the CD that was blaring in my car to keep Luna from crying) sing the word “unconditional”, and that’s when it hit me. Unconditional love. All those lessons on love through my childhood, were based on an unconditional love. When you “love others as you love yourself”, “love as God loves” and remember that “above all else is love” than you must love unconditionally.

Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy ~ Katy Perry

When you love unconditionally, you love without conditions. That should be self-explanatory, but it seems that it needs to be said. You love someone for exactly who they are despite their race, religion, political agenda, sexual preference, gender, job, education or background. It’s true that each of these factors affect us and who we become, but they do not make us good or bad.

stutter

I have to tell you I know some awesome white, straight, Christian, educated, hard-working Americans. I also know some really shitty ones. In my experience it works like that for every single labeled group of people. There’s good and bad everywhere, but mostly good. And, if you’ve got good, kind, honest and courageous people in your life, you’re lucky.

My loved ones are all of those traits and so much more, and that is what matters. Nothing more.

above all

I do not judge I try very hard to not judge, for I do not wished to be judged either. I think we could all use a lot less judgement and a lot more love. At the end of the day, when you find yourself feeling all judgey it’s best to take a look at yourself, because most judgement stems from our own fears and insecurities. It’s got more to do with you than the person you judge.

Just love. Love yourself. Love others.

Cheers

#14DaysOfMe Challenge Complete

Two weeks ago, I challenged myself to a #14daysofme challenge wherein everyday I must pick one thing I love about myself, capture it in photo and share it via social media. While aware that this may appear to be narcissistic, I did it to not only change my own inner voice, but to encourage you to change yours. Positive self-talk is one of the most effective ways to improve depression and anxiety, but it takes a lot of work to change that negative inner-voice. The #14daysofme challenge was my answer to kicking off better habits and thoughts about myself.

The first two days were easy. It’s simple to find at least two things you like about yourself, but by the third day it started getting a little challenging. I began questioning anything I liked… What if I share this and everyone thinks “really? she likes that about herself?” What if I’m wrong? What if I sound cocky? What if I don’t like anything about myself? I almost asked Husband to help me out a few times, but I never never did.  You know what? I found something everyday.

And, what’s more, everyone was super supportive. I cannot tell you how nervous I was to post each photo, but everyone single one was met with words of encouragement, agreement and even appreciation. It started getting easier to find what I like about myself. I began feeling more confident and am now very aware when that negative voice sneaks back in and tries to knock me down. THAT is a huge step in the right direction. Oh how, I hope hope hope my little challenge may have challenge one of you to do the same and change your inner voice!

By the end of the two weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking of things I like about myself. In fact, today, the final day, I had a list of things I could have shared, but after reading this beautiful essay by Glennon over at Momastery, I decided to appreciate my many faults. I highly recommend reading it if you have or know anyone who has any sort of mental illness. (addiction, anxiety, depression, etc).

Help us manage our fire, yes, but don’t try to extinguish us.Tweet: What we mentally different need is respect. Help us manage our fire, yes-but don’t try to extinguish us. @momastery http://ctt.ec/e11Cc+ ‎ That fire that almost killed us is the same fire we’ll use to light up the world. And so we don’t want you to take what we’ve got, we just want help learning how to use what we’ve got for good.  – Glennon

(Funny, how you find just what you need at the exact right moment.)

So here it is, all 14 days of me…

The challenge may be over, but it’s just the beginning to my new habit of loving and encouraging myself. What’s more, is this little boost of confidence is already empowering me to encourage and remind others how they too, are beautiful and wonderful. Like, you. You, my friend are beautiful, brave, kind and strong. And don’t you forget it.

Cheers!

#WCW

It’s Wednesday, also known as #wcw, and for those of you not in the know (or who don’t spend too much time figuring out hashtags on social media), that’s “Woman crush Wednesday”. It’s the day when fellow Facebookers, Tweeters and Instagrammers share photos of women they think are hot or whom they admire. Today,  a friend of mine posted a photo of herself, and I thought it was the most inspiring #wcw ever.

She mentioned everything she loved about herself (faults and all). Honestly, as I read her description of her #wcw I had trouble believing it was her because she was saying such nice things… and since when do us women say such nice things about ourselves? Then, she said this…

Here’s the thing ladies: none of us love every part of ourselves, but it’s the imperfections in our reflections that show the life we’ve lived so far….

The brave thing to do is to own who you are; to stand up and not only know your worth, but to demand other people to know it, too. Own it. Walk in confidence. Love yourself. – Krystin Behannon

(Hope you don’t mind me sharing your beautiful words with the world Krystin!)

I thought about her post all day… as I drove, as I rocked Luna through her fever, while I did burpees, when I ate chips and salsa for dinner and when I looked in the mirror at my wild eyebrows. Throughout the day I wondered, what do I like about myself? I made mental lists, and I’ve got to say, it felt good. In fact, it felt great to focus on what I love about myself as opposed to constantly dwelling on all of my many imperfections.

So, today, my #wcw is the badass chick who writes this kickass blog.

green eyes

She is fierce. At 30 years old, she is the strongest she has ever been and loves her body (deformed belly button and all). I love her toned legs, ability to finish a race and to backpack through many countries…because this girl lives for adventure.  She loves deeply and has the biggest heart for children. I love her ability to connect with kids, make learning fun and to quiet a classroom with one serious look. I love her crazy braids, chipped nails (always) quirky earrings and tiny ears. I love that she is either in heels or barefoot, drinks too much coffee, loves all things Disney, dances from room-to-room and sings Taylor Swift everyday to her daughter (off-key). I love her caring heart, her appreciation for everyday, her sensitivity to others and the fact that she still believes in writing letters.  She is not perfect, but she loves herself.

wpid-img_6854.jpg aztec me and luna

Woop, woop! Still working out! It's not easy, but it's worth it!

closeup

A rooftop bar is totally legal.

admiring meoutside me

 

Do me (and yourself) a favor and make a list of why you are your own crush today.

Does a mind wonders.

Cheers!

What It All Adds Up To

1 Disney internship

4 Shaun T workout programs

1 Wedding

18 Countries (20 after these next two weeks!)

3 Years of long distance

5 Disney parks

1 Baby

7 Homes

2 Pets

7 Races

48 Road Trips

476 Trips to Starbucks

37 Flights

152 Dinners at Chipotle

265 Dates

6798 Adventures

And, what does it all add up to?

The best 10 years of my life with the one and only person I’d ever want to have so many memories with.

Happy 10 years together, babe.

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cheers!

*That’s 10 years since we started dating BTW.

5 Ways We Keep From Killing Each Other

Husband and I just realized it will soon be our 2nd wedding anniversary and will soon after be our 10 year anniversary of being together. We like to think we win when it comes to relationships…I mean we are a pretty awesome couple, but if I’m being completely honest, it’s not always rainbows and daisies. In fact, it’s more often diapers and bills. In the grand scheme of things we are still  young in our relationship, but when I look back over the years of stupid fights and awkward memories I can safely say we have learned a lot.

Like all relationships, we started out simply wild about each other. He couldn’t keep his hands off me and I fell in love fast. The infatuation with each other wore off eventually and we started fighting about phone calls, dates, jealousy and long distance. A couple of years later we were living together and bickering over housework, jobs and bills. We have traveled and argued about where to go and what to do. Since being married some of the old arguments resurface and new ones come up over bad habits and life choices. Now, we are parents and just doing our best to not argue in front of our baby. I know getting into arguments will never go away. No two people can spend so much time together and not have some disagreements. What has changed over our almost ten years together is how we handle conflict.

The NY Botanical gardens
The NY Botanical gardens

There may be moments when I think, “Nope. No more. I’m running away to Paris,” but those moments are fleeting. The truth is that I am happier with my Husband every year. Even when I’m pissed off, I’d still rather be with him than anyone else. After lots of reflection, here’s how I think we keep from killing one another.

Last Christmas when we were still a family of 2
Last Christmas when we were still a family of 2

1. We tell each other EVERYTHING. sorry boys, but I know every single thing that happened on that bachelor party in New Orleans. Seriously, if you tell one of us a secret, just assume you’re telling both of us. We are so honest with each other that Husband actually came to me one night and told me he “had a confession”. I braced myself for devastating news.His confession?  He went to Taco Bell while running errands and did not call to see if I wanted anything. See? We tell each other EVERYTHING. We have also learned to tell each other when we are mad and why we are mad. this is especially important for me. Being a typical girl, I have the tendency to want to hold onto my angry feelings until they are so built up that I explode over something tiny and he has no idea what I’m actually mad about. Turns out, this doesn’t really workout well for either of us. It’s not easy, but we are getting better at letting one another actually explain themselves, process it and try to relate.

Playing around on some Greek ruins in Apollonia, Albania
Playing around on some Greek ruins in Apollonia, Albania

2. Sometimes we go to bed angry. I do not believe the old “never go to bed angry” phrase people toss around. Sometimes I need to sleep on it. I often wake up feeling much more calm and reasonable. For me (more than Husband) I often need to step away from an argument, take a breather and calm down. Actually, I need this after an argument too. Husband does not understand why I am still angry when we are done with a fight, but he accepts and knows that sometimes I just need a moment to simmer down.

Eating fresh sushi together in Japan
Eating fresh sushi together in Japan

3. We compliment each other all the time. It’s disgusting to anyone not in the relationship, I’m sure. I believe in small acts of love and sometimes a simple “nice ass” or “I’m proud of you” goes a very long way. We thank each other often for the small things we do. Husband is very good at acknowledging haircuts, new clothes and marathon feeding sessions with Luna. I try to point out his many talents and skills (He’s seriously good at everything!).

Celebrating at our wedding shower.
Celebrating at our wedding shower.

4. We love and respect each other’s families. This is SO important. No two families are alike and it’s a challenge to combine them. Loving someone else’s relatives as your own makes the challenging times much easier. Husband is so so so good to my family. Anytime we are in Texas he is helping my Mom clean, learning from my Dad and spending real quality time with everyone. I have never once heard him complain about spending time with my family. I try to be as equally loving and accepting of his family, which isn’t hard to do. I truly love them and have considered them my family for years.

Climbing trees together in Hilton Head.
Climbing trees together in Hilton Head.

5. We are on each other’s teams. I do not always agree with Husband and I know he is not always right (how could he be? I’m always right.) However, I always have his back. I have faith in him and know he is going to do his best to do what his right. So, even when I disagree, I trust he is making the best choice because I know his heart.

Eating cake at our wedding.
Eating cake at our wedding.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years, we are still just mad about each other. I’m sure I’ll look back on this in 20 years and laugh because hopefully we will have learned so much more about how to be in a happy, growing and successful relationship. For now, this works and I’m sure glad it does. Love that man.

How do you survive your relationships? I’d love to hear about it!

Cheers!

A LOVEly Wedding

This weekend was so full of love that I still feel all gooey and melty and on the verge of tears. Two of our closest friends got married and the whole weekend was centered around them and their big day. It may have been their wedding, but it somehow became an entire family affair for us. Husband was the best man, Zoey (sis-in-law) was the coordinator and cousin Steph was the florist. All of these made me the assistant.

Our friend, Genevieve, had a very specific enchanted garden theme in mind for her wedding and like most brides, she had a clear vision of what she wanted this to look like. She wanted arbors covered in flowers and greenery, moss-covered planters, lanterns, tables themed after famous lovers, mis-matched floral dishes, fresh maple leaves for name cards and lots and lots of beautiful fresh flowers. To make this dream of wedding come true she would need a miracle. Well either a miracle or a lot of people who love her.

Turns out, lots of people love her and Matt (the groom)! I cannot even begin to tell you how many people it took to put this wedding together, or how much work and collecting of whimsical-looking mis-matched tableware her Mother collected over the last year. What I can tell you, is that we all worked hard to make their dream come true because we love them, and they love each other. It was something so obvious to anyone watching the weekend celebrations come together. I love weddings, but this wedding was special. Everywhere I looked I seemed to spot small and large acts of love.

As we put together centerpieces, the bride and groom practiced their first dance in the hall. They were so happy/excited/nervous/cute.

practice spin

Dozens of us worked together to created a sort of Wonderland in the reception area. We worked all night and were back in the early morning. No one fought about what goes where, or who should be doing what. Nope. We asked “what next?” and then hopped to it.  Everyone just seemed happy to be there.

Busy Bees!
Busy Bees!
a small glimpse into the reception area
a small glimpse into the reception area

We were literally singing and dancing while working. Even little Luna cooed and hung out peacefully during most of the work.

babyrella

Husband was the best man. He was all the chauffeur for the weekend, the entertainer on the dance floor, the errand runner and if you ask me…he is the best man. He even managed to squeeze in a dance or two for me and Luna.

We actually asked Luna to make a kissy face, but whatever
We actually asked Luna to make a kissy face, but whatever

Genevieve’s Dad presided over the wedding and gave the sweetest ceremony for his oldest daughter.

Even the cooking staff showed us lots of love as they took me in and helped me survive a rough patch with Luna (story to come.)

We spent the night of the wedding dancing away with new friends from that very night and with old friends we haven’t seen in years.

It was absolutely beautiful. We visited the newlyweds the morning after, before they took off for Hawaii, and Genevieve still had tears in her eyes as she talked about “the perfect night” that everyone managed to put together for her and Matt. I’m so happy to have been a part of their big day. It’s a wedding we will always talk about with stories of “remember this”, “remember that” and “I still can’t believe…”. I love that Luna was a part of it too. For the rest of her life she’ll hear about the awesome wedding she went to at 3 months old.

Congrats to the happy couple! I think the amount of love and support shown at your wedding is a testament to how much everyone believes in your relationship. xoxo

Cheers!