March 10, 2016

For Those Who Inspire (And Struggle with It)

You’re an inspiration.

You’ve probably heard this phrase a million times before, or at least a variation of it. There are days that you want to publicly declare that you’re not a role model, or maybe you already have. Perhaps it has come to a point where you feel like a fraud, doing one thing in front of hundred, if not thousands of people, and then be a completely different person behind closed doors. If you could, you would spend a few extra minutes explaining that you career or calling is not always the feel good, glamorous badassery that the media makes it out to be. You miss your family, and have probably missed out on some important moments. Maybe your body aches, and you feel like you’ve aged ten times faster than anyone who doesn’t do what you do.

Perhaps you don’t believe that you’ve done anything worth being praised for. You were just a kid with a dream who was bound and determined to make it happen. You had a story to tell, and one of the few reasons you’ve gotten to where you are is because you were brave enough to be yourself and tell the truth. Chances are, you wouldn’t be where you are if things had gone a little differently, or if you had gone in a slightly different direction. It’s amazing how even the small choices shape us, how in the moment they don’t seem very significant, but eventually come together for a much greater purpose than we can envision at that time.

Regardless of where you’re at, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve grown tired of feeling like you have to live for everyone else. It’s all about good PR and making sure that you maintain a positive image. Or at least a cool image. And all you really want is just to be you again. Not the superstar or celebrity. Not the poster person for the cause you’re advocating for. Just you.

Expectations should be realistic on both sides, because at the end of the day you’re a human being and imperfect as the rest of us. But telling anyone to think a certain way doesn’t mean that they will; just as you can’t always control who sees you, can’t always control how they see you. Hero worship is most certainly dangerous, but when you’re a little kid or only know somebody through a specific lens, it’s tough to just shut that off.

So what then? How do you honor your fans, your audience, while staying true to yourself?

It’s simple, really: don’t take anything for granted.

When you can appreciate the fact that you’ve been given a gift, and therefore have had opportunities that others would literally sacrifice their livelihood for, everything else falls into place. You don’t have to try to be “good” or “squeaky clean” in order to make healthy choices. It’s fun to indulge in the finer things every once in a while, but excessive substance use or racking up conquests will only satisfy up to a certain point. While it’s true that you only live once, a single poor decision can shatter what you’ve spent your whole life working for.

No, you don’t necessarily owe the public anything, but remember that you didn’t get where you are today by your own sheer willpower. Whether it was your parents, coaches, mentors, teammates, peers, or co-workers, somebody played a role in your success. At the very least, you owe it to them to be the best you can be, and learn from your mistakes when you make them. You’re not above the rest of the world just because you get a bigger paycheck and a lot more attention.

 When all of this is said and done, what do you want to be remembered for?

 You always have a choice between acting like you’re invincible and living like you understand that you're not. The difference is in consequences.

Whether they know you personally or not, there are many who are rooting for you, praying for you, and ultimately want you to do well. Either you can complain about the pressure, or you can remember what really matters and put your energy toward that.

To start off with, the next time someone approaches you and tells you how much you mean to them, just smile and say, “thank you.” Leave it at that.

It’s enough, and so are you.

February 25, 2016


Reckoning (For New Life)

Once broken down to the bones
By my history
Pain so intense, tunnel vision at an all-time high
Angry and defiant, desperate for influence
Screaming on the inside
Venturing to dark places for relief

Obvious feelings without the words to express them
Make for awkward conversation
Translating high expectations without the intention
Perceived discomfort leading to my taking responsibility
When supposedly rejected
Silence created stories in my head
To ease the dread of not having answers
Insecurity bred anxiety
Anxiety bred impulse
Out of character
I had become a stranger to my own self

It took a hard thing to give me pause
A conversation that became a dead reckoning
Distance and disconnection was tearing me apart
And tearing me away from those that meant the most

That I was not myself
For over a year
Buried underneath resentment
Trapped in my own vengeful thoughts
Many moments where I questioned
Where bitterness rooted down
Why I built walls, instead of setting boundaries
Escaping to cope
But trapped all the while

Darkness does not go without remnants
Storms do not settle without aftermath
Many unknowns lie ahead
Fear of repetition peeks its head out of the shadows
At least every once in a while

I ask for forgiveness
For lashing out against loved ones
For clinging to false distractions
For being self-centered

Such actions and emotions were a disguise
As a longing for close relationships and intimacy
A desire to know and be known

But what I see now is the miracle of grace
Embracing the here and now
Who we are and where we’re at
Trusting in what we cannot predict
Believing not in forgetting, but in learning and loving
It is what it is

Let it be

February 14, 2016

Music Monday-Modern Love Edition

No one's denying that love (and the way that it's expressed) has changed, but it doesn't have to be for the worst!

Die A Happy Man-Nelly cover

Hold Me Up-Conrad Sewell

I Met A Girl-William Michael Morgan

I Choose You-Sara Bareilles

Little Romance-Ingrid Michaelson 

Mirrors-Hunter Hayes cover

Have a great week!

Photo Credit

February 12, 2016

Of Boldness and Blunders

I’m declaring this the year of being bold, I wrote with only a few hours left of my twenty-fourth birthday. Of being bold and assertive. Of pursuing dreams until God closes the door. I want to build a life that has meaning, and that it will involve doing hard things and being uncomfortable.

Such a declaration was nothing close to an automatic miracle. Waking up the next morning, all I could think about was the fact that I’m near a quarter of a century old, and its way past the point of being time. I’ve wrested with selflessness versus taking charge of my needs and desires for most of my life; I’m not necessarily afraid of rejection itself, but more so the reasoning behind the rejection. It’s almost like I would rather live with the potential outcomes than face reality head on. As I’ve said previously, the possibility of getting what I want is a lot scarier than not doing so. It comes down to having more to lose, and not wanting to subconsciously take responsibility when I might not be at fault.

For a time I associated such a word with class and sophistication, combined with a take-no-prisoners attitude. I envisioned women in colored blazers with heels, flawless eyeliner and jangling jewelry. They’re the BeyoncĂ©’s and the Taylors and the Lady Gaga’s of the world. Bold embodies the women I met when I was sixteen years old, and have looked up to since high school. It’s strange to say that I’ve never sensed that in my own being; I’ve more so identified as the shy one, the unsure one, the one who spends way too much time overthinking and preparing for the worst. I’ve hidden away and longed for more, and regretted it every time.

When I do step up, when I take a risk and go after something, I feel a lot better afterward. More confident. Free. No longer carrying a huge weight on my shoulders. Even if things don’t go way that I’d like them to, at least I can move forward and keep my anxiety levels down. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but it’s what I need to do it order to grow. It might be the writer in me, or it might just be the perfect time to begin tapping into who God made me to be.  

This newly lit fire in my heart is a tough one to explain, and the pieces will come together in their own time.  Based on past experiences, I’m well aware of the fact that I’m capable of taking risks, and making things happen one way or the other. I once stood in front of my entire seventh grade class and read a poem that launched my writing career. I went to both high school and college in completely unfamiliar territory, and wound up meeting a number of people that changed my life for the better. I don’t have to be an expert to understand that I have it in me, and that it’s more so a matter of manifesting that kind of courage on a regular basis.

Assertiveness has many definitions, but it boils down to keeping it simple and using your time wisely. Ask for whatever it is, without embellishment or justification. I’ve never heard anyone mentioned above try to explain themselves or hand out reasons like candy; they do what they do and don’t apologize for bringing up uncomfortable subjects. Bear in mind, it’s not always about the big and monumental that go the distance. God needs people to move mountains, but I can imagine that He has just as much of a need to tackle the small things as well. Never underestimate the power of a single voice, the determination of one, or the impact of what might look tiny, but has a lot of momentum behind it.

It’s what dark horses are made of.

Proclaiming it is one part, and living it out is another. I would rather let people make their own judgements and critiques, because trying to convince anyone to see from your point of view is like running on a hamster wheel. I go with the expectation of learning and evolving and becoming…nothing else. It takes patience and perseverance, but I’m confident that it can become second nature as time progresses. I’m sure I’ll stumble and shrink back into old habits, like waiting until the “right” moment or set of circumstances to take action. I’ll probably overthink and over-analyze until I’ve worn out my slippers, and I hope that my loved ones will hold me accountable for that.

Celebrating a general new year is great, because it’s where we can recognize that we’re all human and we long to make something of ourselves. But there’s something about birthdays that’s just as special; it’s a more intimate and personal way of starting over, of celebrating all that you are and where you’ve been. The choice to be bold is not necessarily about starting over, but a continuation of what has been in the making for close to ten years. I’m just digging a bit deeper, my voice is becoming a bit louder, and my self-image is becoming sharper. When I really think about it, I’ve haven’t accomplished anything without taking a chance, along with asking for and accepting help along the way.

Here’s to the bold ones: the ones that stand up, show up, and shine because they were created to do so. May our actions demonstrate our words, and our lives become testaments of strength and continuous butt-kicking. May we lead by example, making an effort to know and understand as much as we want to be known and understood. And here’s to the loneliness,beauty, determination, frustration, triumph, and all that comes with it.

At last.

January 28, 2016

Friday Finds

The beauty in expressing what you need (via Verily Magazine)

I've struggled with being assertive, particularly as an adult. It's not that I'm afraid of hearing the word "no", but the possible reasons behind that specific kind of rejection. It's something that I'm currently working on, and want to get better at. Being an independent person has its perks, but I feel like I'm being true to myself where I'm able to share certain aspects of my life with another person.

Is "better" always best? (via Storyline)

I'm all for growth and self-improvement, but as someone who has spent most of her life trying to be "better" physically, and emotionally, and spiritually, it gets exhausting. When you feel like you're at a crossroads, ask yourself if getting better means growing into who God made you to be, or trying to twist yourself into who you think you should be.

God, cancer, and very few answers (via John Pavlovitz)

We lost several beloved entertainers to this monster in the span of one week. I've seen several family members and family friends go through the hell this disease creates, and battling it with every ounce of strength they have. I have cried tears, and I have cried out desperately. I can honestly say I don't know how I would feel or how I would deal with it if I ever heard those dreaded three words. Is God good? Yes. But does the fragility of life always feel good? No.

The words that can change your prayers (via Bronwyn Lea)

I never thought of including this in my morning quiet time, and it has made my prayer requests feel much more genuine as about to several minutes of listing out wants or needs.

Why perfection isn't a requirement for love (via Stephanie May Wilson)

All I can say is that her words are a gift, and I thank God for speaking through her when I need it most. 

Have a great weekend!!

Photo Credit

January 20, 2016

For The Complex Ones

We’re about halfway through January, the talks of “starting over” and “living better” still reverberating in our ears. Some of you might be on the other side of a defining moment or event, knowing that you can’t go back, but are stick in the uncertainty of moving forward. You’re aware that you’re made new, but unsure of  how to embrace what’s ahead without trying to block out what was (and probably still is) difficult to get over.

Where do I go from here? 

How do I let anyone love me while I’m still learning how to love myself?


For most of our lives, we’ve all been fed some type of talk or teaching about the kind of people we should be, especially women:

 Be simple.

 Don’t make mountains out of molehills.

Do this, but don't do too much of that.

 The internet is constantly comparing one type to another, even if it is centered on praising what the rest turn up their noses at. In order to be deserving of romance, you must meet all these prerequisites, which seem to boil down to not having flaws, insecurities, or any kind of past that requires grace and patience.

When vulnerability is met with bristling and rejection, it’s common to resort to questioning and blaming ourselves. This is where the lines between truth and feelings become blurry, because what might look like reality could be all in your head.  It’s this kind of origami-like, hoop-jumping, obstacle course that makes having close relationships almost impossible. Intimacy seems foreign, because most of what you say and do has slowly become about the sake of someone else’s comfort. You don’t want to necessarily please or impress them, but you don’t want to push them away either. You’re trying to accept and love others as they are, but deep down you wonder if you’re sacrificing yourself, your own emotional well-being in the process.


Complex and complicated are actually two vast different concepts, despite sounding similar. When labeling something complicated, it’s a way to deny what you know to be true, what you know must be done, but struggling to come up with the courage to acknowledge either one. Being complex is having multiple layers, a history filled with stories and experiences that maybe you don’t quite know what to do with. You’re not a victim, but you’re not merely a survivor either; by God’s grace and the skin of your own teeth, you’ve been through a lot and have come out the other side. It’s OK to not know right away, to leave a situation undefined and let the puzzle pieces come together on their own. Some days are peaceful, while others involve doing your best to hold it together. Life can be messy; it can be brutal, but it can be just as beautiful too.

It’s one thing to be captive, but it’s another thing entirely to go forth and be captivated.


You can define, tailor, and project all you want, but intention does not necessarily affect perception. Keeping it surface level or “chill” does not mean you have control over anything; it will build up, it will come out, and most likely in a way that you didn’t envision or want. Stop trying to decide if someone can or should love you, and let them be the one to figure that out for themselves. There’s no formula or process for forging connection, and most likely you'll experience your share of slip-ups and moments that you wish you could take back.

 And if heaven forbid anyone run the other direction because you choose to be a human being, that’s their responsibility, not yours. Its tempting to cry out against the hypocrisy of saying that life is tough, because those that say it are often the ones too afraid to face their struggles, the pain that haunts them on a regular basis. 

You need people who will not only fall in love with your smile, but will just as equally love your scars.

We all have them, the things that add a bit of gray, even darkness to our existence. What labels some as simpletons depends on how they've dealt with it. They have memories, but they also have perspective and are at peace with what they can't change. 

It is possible to be both multi-faceted and whole, to go through hell and still find purpose. But it’s not a singular journey, or something that anyone can do without help. It’s true that you really aren’t the only one go through something, but if often feels that way because you think you’re the only one talking about it. I’ve been fortunate enough to find to find a tribe, people that know me well enough to affirm me and celebrate my quirks and complexities, but will still call me out on my bullshit when they see it. They’re an amazing support system, but they also remind of how just how strong a person I am, and that I can get through pretty much anything.


Maybe instead of having to explain ourselves or constantly heed warnings toward those who cross our paths, we should just be. Be true to what you know and what you value, and leave the thorn-pruning to God. Let’s learn to see depth and complexity as a gift, rather than a curse that makes us outsiders or impossible to love.

It has taken me many years, but I’m warming up to the opportunity to be an example, to live fully in a world that is more inclined to gloss over and sugarcoat, rather than dig deep. I’ve been in the trenches of having to shine a light in darkness, and despite the time it will take, the risk is so worth the reward.

Even if that reward is getting to experience the freedom of simply no longer carrying the weight of a dire situation on your shoulders.  

It starts with acceptance, and honoring who you are. Perhaps one day, it will lead to love and celebration.

Thank you, Brad Paisley, for reminding us all that it's OK to carry a little thunder. 

January 10, 2016

Music Monday

Over the last two months, I've been genuinely getting into instrumental or classical covers of contemporary music. Not only is it relaxing, but I also enjoy listening to it during any kind of writing session. Granted, I have plenty of other favorites, but this is just to start....

Love Story-Dallas String Quartet (Taylor Swift cover)

Just The Way You Are-The Piano Guys (Bruno Mars cover) 
Fact: This was the song that I was referring to in one of my most vulnerable posts to date.  

Black and Yellow-Josh Vietti (Whiz Kahlifa cover) 

Take Me To Church-Brooklyn Duo (Hozier cover)

Smells Like Teen Spirit-The Jingle Punks Hipster Orchestra (Nirvana Cover)

Have a great week!

All videos can be found on Youtube.