Q & A: Hello There!

Getting back into this blogging thing, I figured it would fun to get to know each other a little more. Then Bek nominated me to answer these questions, so viola! Here’s everything  you never needed to know. Just like those notes that used to go around on Facebook.

1. Four names people call me other than Laura:

- Lala

- Lals

- Pancake

- The Radio

2. Four jobs that I’ve had: 

- Contributor at Live Action News

- Business Analyst for a medical pregnancy center

- Babysitter extraordinaire

- Spreader of smiles at my campus mailroom (Who doesn’t like getting mail?)

3. Four movies that I have watched more than once:

- The Passion

- High School Musical

- Princess Diaries

- The Blind Side

4. Four places I’ve lived:

- California

- Kansas

- Florida

- Since those are the only states I’ve lived in, I guess you’ll have to count a family vacation to Hawaii as another place I’ve “lived”, even though it was a short time.

5. Four places I’ve visited:

- Hawaii (Ha! Now it counts.)

- D.C.

- Colorado Springs

- Grand Canyon

6. Four places I would rather be right now:

- Reading a book on a hammock on a tropical beach

- Getting to know people better on a cozy couch by a fireplace

- Cooking up something

- Babysitting little kids

7. Four things I won’t eat:

- Escargot

- Pig feet

- Fish eyeballs

- Super spicy peppers

8. Four of my favorite foods:

- Chinese Chicken Salad (family recipe!)

- Avocados

- Homemade soups

- Fresh, homemade bread

9. Four tv shows I watch:

Well, since I’m not a fan of following tv shows, here are some I’ve watched in the past.

- The Sing Off

- Biggest Loser (a long time ago, it’s gotten lame since then)

Aaaand now I’m drawing a blank.

10. Four things I am looking forward to this year:

- Being done with finals

- Coming home!

- Spending time with family

- Ignoring the internet once I get home

11. Four expressions I always use:

- Dagnabit

- Oh my gosh

- “To Life” (in my signature)

- ??? I can’t think of anything I use frequently enough to go here.

12. Four people I’m asking to participate in this Q & A:

- The four people who read this. Ha! Must mean you. Comment with your answers or post them on your blog. Ready? Go!

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email.

7 Quick Takes – Vol. 57: Coffee, mentors, and advent

— 1 —

Hello world! There hasn’t been much going on here lately because finals.

And papers. And coffee.

— 2 — 

But I am slowly coming back! This semester, while it has not been incredibly challenging academically, has been a time of growth for sure. I’ll share more once finals are over! I’ve gotten back to writing for Live Action News with two articles: one about birth control, and an open letter to abortion clinic clients. Would love to hear your thoughts on them!

— 3 —

Have you been hearing about the CIA torture report? I haven’t read the source document (525 pages . . .) but have been reading about it a lot. People have differing opinions on it, some of which are disturbing to me, but here’s a great report from the USCCB on the topic. I don’t know enough about it to tell you exactly the points that are important to know, but I do know that if we respect life, we should respect ALL life. Also, why do we call it “enhanced interrogation techniques” now?

— 4 —

Need a lighter topic? Check out these Christmas picture outtakes!

— 5 —

Something cool going on this semester? Continuing being part of the Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship! Being mentored by Peggy (President of Heartbeat International) has been such a valuable experience for me, and I’ve learned a lot from her. I’ll have to share more on that! Many of us in the program had a video call last week, which was also lots of fun.

— 6 —

Feeling festive? Here’s a beautiful Christmas video!

— 7 —

And for my last take, a question: how is your advent going? Do you have traditions for the season? Do share! Here’s a post I wrote on advent the other day. It’s about Jesus as our king, coming as a baby. Enjoy! And let’s chat about your advent!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly!

Our king, a baby: Beauty in the weakness

In thinking about Advent, I find it beautiful how Jesus as our King chose to come into the world as a child – one of the most vulnerable stages of life possible.

Our king a babyImage Via (edits added)

Our culture (which values independence and empowerment like crazy) kind of scoffs at the idea of a baby being so utterly powerful. After all, we’re supposed to be fiercely empowered people who know how to be the boss. You know how important those pantsuits are! But the greatest gift of all, the most powerful creature of all, chose to come to us in terms we could see and understand in no other form than a baby.

A baby is helpless. And as many people remind us, babies are completely dependent on their parents. So why would Jesus chose to come into the world so vulnerable? He’s the ultimate boss of life. Why would he submit himself in the guise of a child?

At least for me, I see so much hope in the eyes of a baby. Maybe you like kids. Maybe you don’t. I really do love kids, and one of my favorite things ever is to just be with babies. You just hold them, and they trust you. They haven’t grown to know the hurt of the world yet. And for that moment? Everything is beautiful. You hold this precious itty-bitty life that has so much potential. The possibilities are endless.

On my closet door I have one of those sticky vinyl lettering decorations that reads “Every child is a story yet to be told” with tons of pictures around it from different aspects and times of my life with people I know and love. It reminds me to think about other people, and to remember that we all have a story.

And right now, we only know part of our stories.

When we’re babies, we know even less of the story. The possibilities and hope are there, though. You never know what that person was created to be and do. It’s pretty awe-inspiring when I think about it.

Jesus came into the world not only as probably one of the cutest babies ever, but also to eventually save us. And if you ask me, there probably isn’t a situation that is filled with more hope than that. Let Fulton Sheen illustrate this by saying:

“It was not enough that the Son of God should come down from the heavens and appear as the Son of Man, for then He would have been only a great teacher and a great example, but not a Redeemer. It was more important for Him to fulfill the purpose of the coming, to redeem man from sin while in the likeness of human flesh. Teachers change men by their lives; Our Blessed Lord would change men by His death. The poison of hate, sensuality, and envy which is in the hearts of men could not be healed simply by wise exhortations and social reforms. The wages of sin is death, and therefore it was to be by death that sin would be atoned for.” 

It’s not to be somber necessarily, but to remember the reason why Jesus came in the first place. He came to save us, and accomplished that by first being born of our Blessed Mother.

We’re told that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become like children. And that might seem weird because children don’t know much, right? Sure, in a worldly sense maybe they don’t. But kids have an incredible intuition. And much of the time they can figure out who to trust. There’s a beauty in that vulnerability and weakness that our world despises, because it forces us to abandon our selfishness.

And that’s why Jesus coming as a child is so powerful: there is beauty in weakness. Through it, others are changed by helping those who need help. And those who need help are changed by allowing others to do things for them.

Let’s remember this Advent season that it’s okay to lean on other people, and to allow ourselves to become like children in a way.

Jesus did, and I’d be willing to bet he’s a pretty good role model.

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email.

For more advent posts, be sure to check out Beth Anne’s link-up!

Failing and daring to give my best

College is an ideal time to develop your character, talents, and beliefs. For me, the last 2.5 years have been the most challenging of my life. My mind has been stretched farther than it ever had been before, and it continues to be blown by what I’m taught by professors and people that I know. Because of that, I’ve also gone through the most intense personal development of my life on many levels: academically, socially, and spiritually to name a few areas.

It’s been full of ups and downs. Sometimes I feel on top of the world. Sometimes I get frustrated that I haven’t truly been striving for excellence. That’s where I’ve been lately.

There is so much to get done on a daily basis. My to-do list is never ending. And things don’t always happen on time. This means I didn’t always give my best effort.

This is not something I’m okay with.

I constantly talk about greatness – finding your cause to fight for in life, the purpose God made you for. But sometimes I feel like I haven’t been giving enough. Sometime in the last month I was mad about something. Disappointed, maybe? I can’t remember. I was kneeling down before mass and just looking up at Jesus on the cross. And it wasn’t like a choir of angels appeared, but very clearly the thought came into my head: “What more I give you?”

There he was on the cross in front of me, this son of God I claim to love so much and live for. He has given the ultimate sacrifice for me. Personally. He would have died for me if I were the only person on Earth.

And here I am procrastinating.

Again.

It’s gotten better throughout college. I haven’t had to stay up until 3:30am writing a paper like I did freshman year! But still, I hate that things don’t always get done as far ahead of time as they should. So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to remedy this.

We’re told to be strong and independent all the time, but I am so tired of fighting a battle with myself that feels like I’m on a losing streak. It feels like that because I want to do my best, but my best is hard. We’re all called to holiness, but the path to holiness isn’t paved with lollipops. It is born out of blood, sweat, tears, and a heck of a lot of prayer.

I want to be holy. I want to be the light and salt of the world we’re called to be. I want to respond to Jesus in the only way that really makes sense: with gratitude and reckless abandon to his will.

Maybe I just don’t know how.

You know that strong, independent woman CEO we’re supposed to want to be? Guess what I’ve discovered? She doesn’t really exist. In the end we all need each other. We need to slow down and smell the alfalfa, reflect on what really matters, and direct our lives back to our ultimate goal: heaven. It sure doesn’t feel like homework is the way to get to heaven, but for right now I need to give my all to the efforts God has called me to be part of at the moment.

After all, what more can I possibly dare to give back to Jesus than my very best?

How do you deal with stress? Assignments due all at once? A never-ending to-do list? Please keep everyone approaching finals in your prayers as we get through the last couple weeks of school, and know I’ll be praying for you too!

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!

NAS: How do you pray at home?

da414-not2balone5

How do you pray at home? Do you have a special place in your house? How do you make that area special? Comfy chair? Prayer cards? What suggestions do you have to make a home altar? If you don’t do this, in what ways can you begin?

~

Does my bed count?

DSCN7331

Okay, maybe that’s weird to post a picture of my bed. But isn’t it comfy looking?! The blanket is from my grandma. Moving on to the point:

Most days I say a rosary before bed. Or as I fall asleep. Hence, the picture. The things on the wall are prayers too. One of them is the Litany of Humility which I still haven’t said because it’s kind of terrifying on some level. And rather intense. So it’s staying put as a reminder to actually say it one day. I’d love to add a sort of examination of conscience to my wall for the end of each day!

When I wake up, I try to remember to say a morning offering. Then I go to workout (most of the time, but it’s getting harder with the cold) and try to remember to say the LIFE Runners creed before starting. When I get back, I try to remember to read the daily readings (usually from Blessed is She or Word Among Us).

Two days a week I have a half hour of adoration, but I’m usually there for about an hour each time because of how it fits into my schedule. Adoration isn’t something I remember doing before college, so it’s been nice the last couple years here! After learning more about prayer, I force myself to not bring a book to adoration and just be with Jesus. It’s pretty awesome. I also usually go to a holy hour on Saturdays. Sometimes I journal during part of that time. And sometimes I read the “I Thirst for You” meditation. But mostly I kneel or sit there and try to not think of my to-do list . . . . which can be hard. Seriously. Does anyone else have that problem? I don’t have a list to write things down, so I just focus on praying and then at the end I realize how easy it is to chill out and just be there when you try.

Other than that, I write down prayer intentions throughout the week and pray specifically for them. I started doing this last year, but this year I started asking for intentions on social media after reading the suggestion. It felt kind of weird at first, but I love it so much to be able to pray for people’s specific needs! Also included in my intentions are random requests and situations I see.

I try to offer up a lot of stuff for other people, and I have found that to be extremely powerful to me. Does it count as a type of prayer? I don’t know. But praying for the souls in purgatory or asking God to use something I’m going through to help someone else is something I love so much.

For almost 10 years, I’ve kept a journal off an on. In the beginning it was mostly the boring details of what happened everyday, but now it’s more prayers and thinking about stuff. Writing helps me figure things out, so that’s another way I pray. Sometimes from the beginning to the end of something, I can already see a situation more clearly. Yay!

In my dorm room I have this shelf:

DSCN7330

I don’t kneel there to pray or anything (though I have heard about having altars in your home which sounds cool!). There’s more on the wall too. It’s just a nice reminder. We also did this to our wall (word of Our Lady of Guadalupe) which keeps a nice atmosphere as well:

Prayer is talking with God, and even though I don’t do a whole lot of organized prayer, it’s an important part of my everyday life. At the beginning of this school year we were challenged to give 30 minutes of undivided time to prayer each day, and I want to get better about that. It doesn’t sound that hard, but it has been! Like exercising which keeps our physical muscles in shape, prayer keeps our spiritual muscles in shape. And I need to start pumping more serious spiritual iron.

Do you have any suggestions for how to make those 30 minutes a habit? Do you pray at specific times of the day? How do you integrate prayer into your life?

To Life,

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!

 

I’m the boss, so ya’ll can just shut up

Have you seen stuff going around in the last couple months about bossy little girls? This quote definitely had it’s moment in the spotlight getting passed around on social media:

By Sheryl Sandberg

* Cue dramatic music and smiling faces of sassy little girls after reading that quote *

Aren’t you so inspired?

I mean, every little girl who is bossy is obviously a budding leader-in-training! We should encourage them to be the boss and follow their dreams! They should stand up for themselves and take charge! Be ambitious! Be loud and in charge!

Grumpy Cat says it best. When I first started hearing about this whole idea of encouraging bossy girls to embrace their innate leadership capabilities, I was like:

“Why?” you ask. Let’s first take a look at what bossy means:

Bossy  Define Bossy at Dictionary.com - Google Chrome 11172014 90127 PM.bmp

Being bossy means I don’t care about about your opinion. It means telling you to do something right this second with no ifs, ands, or buts. It may mean raising my voice to get my point across. It means being powerful in a way, because I can control you. You have no say. It’s treating you as a means to get something done, without respecting your dignity as a person.

And that, my friends, is not okay.

From personal experience (as a person who can be bossy), I can tell you that it hurts people. Everyone deserves to be listened to, and being bossy is the opposite of that by definition. My leadership skills are at their worst when I’m bossy, because it means resorting to my position of authority to get people to do things. But leadership is so much more than that. Having a title is the least important aspect of being a leader, and it becomes wholly unimportant to people who have great leadership capabilities.

Leadership is about being someone people follow – not because they are docile little lambs to fetch you grapes and Italian olives from Venice, but because you have a message they are invested in. You have something to say, maybe something you’re fighting for, and people who have similar motivations are going to join forces with you if you show the ability to take your cause to the next level. Leadership is making a difference and having people lend a hand because they want to, not because you guilt-tripped them into coming, or bribed them with cookies. Believe me, I’ve done that. And it doesn’t work too well because it coerces people to come. It doesn’t empower people to be an integral part of your mission.

When we tell our little princesses that being bossy is okay because it’s just their leadership shining through, we’re telling them a lie. Because, quite frankly, the “light” from bossy people is burning my freaking face off.

Presentation1 - Microsoft PowerPoint non-commercial use 11172014 92235 PM.bmp

People deserve to be listened to. If I’ve learned anything over the last 1.5 years serving on the leadership team of Ravens Respect Life, this is it (and yes, a lot more). I used to go auto-pilot into “let’s get this done ASAP and since I don’t trust anyone else to do it right I shall do it myself” mode. Nobody told me blatantly to knock it off. Nobody told me it was annoying in all the years of “leadership” throughout high school.

I wish they had.

For years I’ve been a person who doesn’t wait for other people to get things done. Some people would call that ambition or me being a “go-getter”. I certainly am ambitious, but in the last months I’ve realized how messed up this idea of being my big, bad empowered self is. Why? It’s important to make sure people know you value their opinions. Even if you do have the final say, leaders have to let other people contribute to the cause. If they don’t, it becomes a dictatorship: you controlling people, not building a movement together. That doesn’t value other people. It doesn’t build trust. And it certainly doesn’t make anyone a skilled leader.

A skilled leader listens to followers, and you know what? They have amazing ideas . . . things I could never have thought up. They have skills and abilities you are not good at. They just might blow your mind.

The people I’ve worked with have taught me this, and I am so thankful. It’s humbling, and a constant reminder that I am not the boss. And I really don’t want you to shut up. I want to hear your ideas and work with you to make the world a better place. You have ideas I don’t have, and together we can do more than if we went our separate ways.

So, what are we to do about this bossy phenomenon? Instead of praising this attitude of bossiness, let’s teach each other how to value each other (and the people who follow us or we are followers of). Listen. Don’t interrupt. Work together. Read about real leadership: the power to influence other people. Learn how to tell good stories which will inspire people. Be able to empower people to contribute to your cause.

Being a real leader is better than bossing people around. It’s so much more.

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!

 

 

The world lost something beautiful

I should really be asleep right now, or working on my 10-page paper due in a few days, but I can’t. I can’t stop thinking about Brittany and her family.

A couple weeks ago, talk was that she might postpone her death planned for November 1st since she was still feeling okay. But then she experienced her worst seizure yet after visiting the Grand Canyon. And she took her life on the 1st.

The world lost something beautiful that day.

In reading articles leading up to her death, I discovered that Brittany’s main motivation for wanting to pursue “death with dignity” was that she didn’t want to lose bodily autonomy as her faculties left through her life naturally coming to an end. Becoming powerless in her suffering, more so than the powerlessness of a child perhaps, was seen as a loss of her worth as a human being.

But I say that no matter what the quality of her life, losing her was losing something beautiful that day.

Many people are applauding her “brave” choice. But bravery isn’t about running away from suffering and dying now to avoid more pain later. Now, I can’t even imagine having a terminal illness, so I can’t speak from experience. No one close to me has died because of a terminal illness either. Regardless of that fact, though, what I do know if that suffering is sanctifying.

Sadly, America has forgotten this.

We’ve forgotten that getting scraped up makes us tougher, running the extra mile gives us more endurance, failing makes us learn how to succeed, and that refusing an extra dessert makes us the boss of our willpower. We’ve forgotten that even when someone’s life is no longer contributing to the economy, it still in infinitely valuable. We’ve forgotten the art of discipline. We’ve forgotten the beauty of the older people in our communities who move slower than they used to.

And because of that, America has lost something beautiful

When we applaud someone for taking her own life to escape suffering, we ignore the fact that trial by fire strengthens us. Maybe she would never have gotten better, but do you realize the sacrificial love Brittany’s family would have experienced caring for her in her last days being unable to care for herself? Do we know the graces she would have received through offering her suffering for someone? Do we know the power of her story if she had “taken up her cross” and let the grace of suffering set her heart on fire looking toward heaven?

Oh, how incredibly could her story of ended! But instead we lost something beautiful with so much potential.

I haven’t experienced anything as drastic as Brittany’s situation, but we’ve all suffered at some point. And I’ve seen people go through incredible amounts of pain. I’ve seen people’s lives forever changed in a single instance. And I’ve cried for them, wanting to do something to alleviate the pain. Watching people walk into abortion clinics and knowing they will never be the same hurts. Hearing their stories is hard. I still remember losing my little brother Robert before he was born, and will never forget that. In the movie For Greater Glory, the little boy who is now Blessed Jose Sanchez (I think that’s his name) was caught by the enemy and forced to stand next to a grave. Told to renounce God, he was threatened with death if he did not comply. Then the enemy brought out his parents to watch as the boy refused. And I just sobbed. Seeing Jose’s mom completely helpless as a mother as her son was brutally killed affected me. I’ve never cried harder that I can remember during a movie.

There’s so much evil in the world – so much sadness, anger, and then countless people who are unhappy with their lives. And now I’m sitting here tearing up on my bed after 1:30am like a crazy person. On any given day, I could give you twenty reasons to be in a stinky mood and mad at God. But what I’ve realized is that this is all a choice. We can choose to be upset with what life brings. Or we can face it and own it.

Brittany chose to run away from the cross she was given. I hope you don’t do that. And I’ve been trying harder to face my own life with a heck of a lot of prayer because we need that to get us through some moments. Thankfully we don’t have to do this thing called life on our own, because we’ve got family, friends, and of course Jesus to lean on.

Know that every second of suffering is not meaningless, but infinitely meaningful. Your life? It’s a precious one-time gift no one can ever replace. Whatever happens in your life, it might not be pretty, but there’s always a purpose. We can’t always see it, and oh my goodness would I help take away your pain if I could. I hate seeing people in pain and being helpless. I wish I could dry your tears and say it’s going to go away, but it might not. I can’t necessarily take away you pain.

But what I can do is offer you is hope.

I’m singing a different song than people who are raving about Brittany’s bravery. Suffering is not something to be feared, but rather an opportunity to be sanctified in. Whether it’s a terminal illness, misbehaving child, or person cutting you off on the road, work on handling these inconveniences with grace. Be the voice of reason that says “even if this isn’t comfortable, it’s something I can’t change, so I’m going to accept it and own it the best I can”. Pray about it. Ask for grace. Let your heart be transformed by the vulnerability suffering makes us experience. Let people love you in those times when you are broken and unable to function normally.

Don’t let us lose you, because you are something beautiful. You are unique and unrepeatable. And even if life isn’t perfect, it’s your life. It can never be lived again, so make the most of it. Have hope. And if you’re going through trial by fire in some sort of suffering right now, know this: you can either melt to pieces or be strengthened through this. It’s your choice.

Choose wisely, because your life might depend on it. And we don’t want to lose another something beautiful.

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!

 

Dear America: A few words on Brittany and suffering

Brittany Maynard: 29 years old. Newlywed. Brain cancer. Plans to take lethal medication. Watch this video if you don’t know the details.

It’s a sad situation, quite honestly. She’s dying. It’s something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while, but it’s hard to find the words to write about a woman who is choosing to kill herself to forgo suffering. So read this. It’s more moving that anything I could write. And now a few words to my fellow Americans.

Dear Americans,

Lately I’ve heard a lot of talk about Brittany – a beautiful young woman whose life is being cut short by a malignant brain tumor. It seems unfair that a person with so much potential should be taken from us, doesn’t it? Just in the prime of her life, and newly married, it’s not what she expected out of life. So Brittany plans to take her own life on November 1st.

And you – my dear Americans who value our freedom so much – are lauding her as a hero for freeing herself from suffering. I can see what you’re saying – really I can. If I knew I only had a few months to live, I would want to spend time surrounded by my loved ones too. I would go on adventures and make sure to be on good terms with God.

That’s why it makes me sad to see you passing Brittany off as a hero. She is undeniably suffering a great deal, and we should commend her for the strength she does have. But what defines us in the face of adversity is not getting rid of the adversity.

What defines us in these moments as we’re tempted to choose between “Bring it! I can do this” and “Screw this, I’m leaving” is our attitude toward the adversity, and our resolve to do what is right – to push ourselves past our limits and pursue the greatness we were made for. When training for athletic events, we see people who push themselves and we think “Wow! Good for them! Look how hard they worked!”. And when we see people give up and cuss the treadmill for being so cruel, we see weakness.

So why is this situation different?

With all due respect to Brittany and her family, running away from suffering is not an act of courage. Suffering is scary, my goodness of course it is. That’s why we wallow in the comfort of iPhones and relativism . . . and self-induced death when faced with prolonged suffering. But running away from it shows that we let that fear control us.

As the quote goes, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” I firmly believe that Brittany’s life, and any human life, is bigger and more important than any bit of fear we might have. It’s hard to crush the human spirit when the human spirit is resolved to soldier on. But when we give up, we give fear of the unknown the license to kill our dreams and ambitions. Why are we treating this as an act of courage?

Certainly Brittany’s life is not what she expected. But friends, how can we commend her for destroying the most precious thing she possesses – her life?

Instead, let’s encourage anyone going through suffering to look adversity in the face and say “I will not give up hope – I will fight until the bitter end”. It’s hard to imagine the pain Brittany is going through, and I do have compassion for her. I simply encourage you to look at the story of Rachel’s friend and consider which approach would challenge you to more virtue: facing suffering head on, or throwing your hands up and giving up when life gets hard.

Matt Walsh had an interesting take on this saying:

“Every noble ideal — justice, fairness, equity, compassion, charity — all of it, all of it, is grounded in the notion that life, human life, has intrinsic value. Not value according to its usefulness, or value according to convenience, or value according to how enjoyable it is. Value. Life is valuable because it is life. If you deny this, then you deny everything. There is no reason for justice, fairness, equity, compassion, or charity if human life has no value, or merely a value contingent upon whatever parameters we’ve arbitrarily assigned.”

And this is why I’m saying we shouldn’t be treating Brittany as a hero: because her life is so valuable that we don’t want her to throw away any of the time she has left by giving up. We should be praying for her and her family too. Please do join me in that. And lets show the beauty of resolving ourselves to courage in times of adversity.

No matter what our lives end up becoming, it’s probably not going to be what we expect. And if we want to leave a legacy of courage, may we always strive to “[l]ook at hopelessness in the face and say: ‘We are simply not meant to be together.’ Hold courage’s hand and walk away” to whatever our tomorrow brings.

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!

 

I came. I saw. I (actually, kind of) conquered.

Fitness Humor

Soon after making September’s goals, our topic for the Wilberforce Leadership Fellowship conference call was success and failure. In the last year or so, I’ve become very goal oriented. They help keep me on track. And they keep me busy. But them this reading helped me to see goals and success in a new light:

It talked about how “many of us picture success as looking like someone other than who we are”, saying many people strive for the wealth of Bill Gates, intelligence of Albert Einstein, athletic ability of Michael Jordan, and the heart of Mother Teresa. But “[y]ou would be a bad imitation of them, and you would eliminate the possibility of becoming the person you were meant to be”

Whoa, Nelly. And not only that:

“If you make happiness your goal, you are almost certainly destined to fail.”

“It has never come as the result of possessing something.”

Ultimately, success is a journey, it says. It’s when you know your purpose in life, grow to reach your maximum potential, and sow seeds along the way which benefit others.

measureofsuccess

Mind. Blown.

Honestly, it doesn’t sound like a very difficult concept. So why did it have such an impact on me?

Well, I stopped caring if I met every single goal, and I started caring more about moving in the right direction and mastering things in my life. Something I’ve been wanting to master for a long time is discipline. Just being a disciplined person. I have good self control when it come to not doing things. But making myself actually do things is harder. So when I made the goal of working out 3 times a week and setting a specific time to get up, I laughed a little inside my head.

But I actually did it!

I got up by 6:15 every weekday morning (except one) last month. It’s not because I’m amazing. Nope. One morning at the beginning of the month, I actually FELL ASLEEP on top of hand weights on the couch after about 20 minutes of working out. Yup. You can laugh :-)

Other than that stellar moment in time, I get up (with a suitemate, which makes it easier) and out the door to work out for about 45 minutes. On days when we come back to torture ourselves do strength, abs, and toning, we go a bit shorter. We get up about an hour before the sun rises. Campus is dead.

And it is amazing.

What I’ve realized is that being disciplined and accomplishing things is not about being amazing. I fail at a lot of things. But everything I do is a choice. I could choose to sleep later and not workout. I could choose to go to bed earlier and not be tired.

But I choose to make myself get up and get going no matter what. I choose to do this because I know it is good for me. And guess what? I really enjoy it now. Choosing to do what is good is hard to start out with, because often it’s uncomfortable. It’s hard to create a new habit. But sacrifice, hardship, and pushing ourselves causes us to become more fully the person we have the potential to be. It’s a choice.

So that’s why I choose to keep going back.

Every time we go, I more fully master being disciplined. I say “no” to spending quality time with my bed, and “yes” to workin’ my body. And getting stronger. Through the grace of God (because ya’ll know it’s not possible to keep up something with just your tiny bit of willpower), I have conquered selfish desires. In case you’re wondering, I left them at the gym ;-)

We started out going to the track, and I loved the wind and seeing the sunrise. Now we go to the gym and come back to our suite to do strength stuff. My shirts actually get soaked through with sweat, which feels like an accomplishment. Most days I do an elliptical, but sometimes a tredmill. And guess what? Today I was able to run for longer than I ever have before. My weights are too light now, so I need to get heavier ones.

Exhilarating.

Empowering.

Enlightening.

This month I discovered that I can push myself to do more than I thought possible. I can run faster, do more reps, and go longer than ever before. I can do it. It’s possible. As long as you keep focused on why you’re doing it (ie. becoming a better person, not being all sexy or something like that). And you know what? Maybe there’s something you think is impossible. Maybe you’re discouraged. Maybe you’ve been wanting to do something for a long time, but have been putting it off.

May I offer a short piece of advice?

JUST DO IT.

darmightythings

The beginning is the hardest part. But then you realize it’s possible. You can do it. You can choose to do it. That’s the exhilarating part where you realize what you’re capable of. Then when you realize that you are in control, you’re empowered to push yourself to new places and challenge yourself. And then viola! Suddenly you realize your potential.

Hey, pretty soon I’ll be able to “drop and give you 20″. And by the end of the year I want to be able to jog/run a 5k. It’s sounds crazy now, but hey. I’m choosing to take the first step.

Will you join me? Tell me about something BIG you want to do, and let’s break it down into the first step you can make now to move toward it. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. And, hey. All it takes is one choice to get you moving in the right direction.

To Life,

signature

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!

 

 

September Goal Review #LikeABoss

You know that moment when you do something you never thought possible? Gosh, it feels good. But “good” can’t even do September justice.

Before this past month, I hadn’t experienced that a whole lot. Sure, the adrenaline from swim races, performing in musicals, and lots of other awesome moments. But this past month was different.

I made goals. I didn’t stick to all of them (go figure), but the ones I did stick to have completely changed how I live my life. It’s changed the way I make choices, and what I let dictate how I spend my time. And I am so excited to share them with you!

Here is the wrap up on each category from September (saving best for last, so read all the way through.)

Prayer

1. Find a morning offering or devotional of some sort.

Blessed is She – daily readings with a devotion. Yay! The only way I could see it be better is if it included an action item of some sort.

2. Find examen to say before bed.

Thank you Pinterest.

The Daily Examen, an introspective prayer done at the end of the day, in 6 Simple Steps.

3. Sign up for adoration 2x week.

Done! We also go to a holy hour on Saturdays (most weeks), so it’s almost 3 hours/week. #LikeABoss

4. Do stations of the cross on Fridays.

Nope. Didn’t do it once. HOWEVER, we are doing a chaplet of divine mercy on Fridays as part of 40 Days for Life. Yay.

 

Academics

1. Write down assignments in my planner when I find out about them.

Somewhat followed. I didn’t forget any, so yay!

2. Check planner everyday.

Didn’t really follow this. But since I wasn’t forgetting assignments, I’m okay with that.

3. Buy a stock of post-it’s to put each assignment on, and write them down.

See last one.

 

Computer Usage

1. Put my laptop on my desk, and only sit there to be on it (unless I am taking it out of the suite to work on it).

After realizing how uncomfortable my desk is for me (hello short legs), I decided to nix this one. Perhaps it shall be revisited, but not at the moment.

2. Gradually check emails less. By the end of September, be checking them three times a day.

Not as cray cray about checking emails, but remembering to count when I check them is not happening…

3. Check Facebook only twice a day.

See above.

4. Go to my Google Alerts for news instead of social media. Add two new alerts.

Yes! I added in a death penalty and stem cell research alert (scintillating, I know). Any ideas for things to keep up on?

 

Reading & Writing

1. Find 15 minutes a day to read a non-school book. Focus on one at a time.

I started reading Pro-Life Feminism and I Believe in Love, but the 15 minute thing didn’t work out so hot.

2. Write one non-link-up post a week here or for Live Action News.

Whoa! Thought I failed this one, but I wrote 3:

The time is now (ie. get off yo butt and get a move on!)

Holiness from Calcutta (because Mother Teresa is a BOSS)

It’s the little things . . . (ie. the one no one read that’s about doing things. Ironic?)

 

And now . . . Fitness & Health

I’m not going into huge detail because there’s a whole post coming on this. Moral of the story? You’re gonna have to come back here tomorrow!

1. Look for a 5k to do before Christmas.

There’s a “wear something crazy from a thrift store” 5k going on in a couple weeks, so I’m debating doing that. We’ll see!

2. Find two new healthy snacks to keep in my dorm room instead of traditional unhealthy ones.

Funny how I haven’t touched the like 10 bags of popcorn in my stash. I started out with hummus and carrots. Now I have beans (“refried” in my crockpot!) and I do an egg for breakfast. Yay non-junk food! We also went to the local farmer’s market which was delightful. Who knew real vegetables actually exist in Atchison?!?!

3. Work out three times a week, and find a consistent time that works.

If you had told me a couple months ago I’d be getting up well before the sun every weekday to subject my muscles to strenuous activity, I would have laughed. Like big time. Are you crazy?

But now I’m like:

f8f5e-237161_1257739195062-8res_284_320

 

I’m a month into this, and it only takes 21 days to form a habit, right? I can’t imagine NOT getting up by 6:15am now. Sometimes (actually pretty often) I wake up before my alarm. And it’s pitch black. I go the the gym on campus and make my fat cry (because that’s what sweat is, right?) every morning during the week. It is gloriously gross. I drip sweat. I soak shirts. 2-3 days a week we come back and do strength stuff as well, so it’s not just cardio. And I feel AMAZING.

And to hear the rest of my story (’cause ya’ll know there’s more), you’re just going to have to wait until tomorrow. Mwahahahaha.

4. Since my commitments start at 9am M-F, set a consistent time to wake up.

6:15am, brotha. Unless the 6am bells wake me up. Or the lightning. Or I just wake up randomly at 5:51.

 

And there you have my September! Classes are easier than last year, but life is still rather demanding. And I’m okay with that. I’m learning a lot, trying to grow as a person, and really enjoying this time in my life.

Stay tuned, because I have a lot more to say! What do you have to say? How is your life going? Can I pray for something that’s going on right now? Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat!

To Life,

signature

 

 

 

P.S. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestBloglovin’ or by email!