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life

Lifestyle

You’re The Only One Who Can Be You

July 24, 2018

In the past three weeks, there has been a dramatic shift in my perspective. My incredibly stressful class is over, I went on vacation for two weeks, I was invited to read and study with a Lay Marianist community, and I developed a deep love for Mr. Rogers.

These four things have changed me in a profound way. But the thing that has had the biggest impact on me, is my newfound love of Fred Rogers.

In a world where we see so much hate, destruction, and death, this calm and gentle soul ushered generations of kids into a safe space, where they knew they were loved and cherished, and they were able to just be kids.

Going back to watch his work as an adult at first seemed silly. Why would I do such a thing? There were plenty of other shows that I could watch.

It all started in May. I had been suffering a wicked bout of insomnia for four months at this point, and I had watched 17 seasons of Law & Order SVU, and every episode of The Great British Bake-off that Netflix had to offer. At this point I knew I needed something different, but I also knew none of my shows (looking at you Eric Kripke, and Shonda) would be back until the fall. I was running on empty. Getting 4 hours of sleep a night because my mind was racing at the prospect of not getting a perfect grade after all of my hard work… or editing papers that just came in so late I had to stay up all night to get it done. How could I possibly find a show that would help me to get even just one more hour of sleep?

I started scrolling through Amazon Prime and saw that kind and familiar face that I had seen as a kid. I chuckled to myself and kept scrolling, but something told me to go back.

I hit play, and those familiar first notes trickled through the speaker… “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood…”. The first night I watched 5 hours of Mr. Rogers and let me tell you what- that dude tackled some real issues in his day. I sat in bed, in awe of his courage and amazed that he could do that all with a slow melodic voice. And don’t even get me started on the puppets- how does one person have that many voices stored up in their imagination?

As the days went on, I slowly made it through fewer episodes- that sweet melody lulling me to sleep, or Fred Rogers’ intelligent and kind voice helping me to face some big scary things that we see in the news even still today (who knew he would be so timeless?). This man gave me back my sanity. I started sleeping 5, 6, and 7 hours a night, worrying less, and making better use of my time.

I got an A in both of those really crazy classes. My hard work paid off, and I then got to go on vacation with my family to celebrate my parent’s 30th anniversary. I downloaded a book on my kindle about Mr. Rogers, and set off to learn more about this person that had already changed my life by helping me to sleep a little easier at night.

I recently turned 26. Roughly 3 days before that happened, I woke up at complete peace in my life. I had established a routine that I was following (morning meditation and scripture, carefully planning my weeks, adding in chores and getting dressed up in the mornings). I was swearing less (not completely… yet, but I’m hopeful lol). I was being far less judgmental. And I finally felt like I had nothing left to prove. I was the most alive I had been in years.

As I reflected on this series of events I realized that for the first time in my life, I have had a deep and profound conversion. Through the gentle care of a television neighbor, I have come to see that God is in the slow moments. He doesn’t want me to rush. He doesn’t want me to be stressed or in emotional pain.

I decided I was going to be like Mr. Rogers, and my life changed dramatically, for the better. My time seems to stretch endlessly, and my days are filled with joy and gratitude. My errands don’t take nearly as long, I forget things a lot less frequently these days, and I am completely at peace.

6 months ago, I would have told you I didn’t even remember what peace was. Today, I can’t remember what it was like to live in a complete world of stress. It is so crazy to me that I would let my need to prove I was the best, I was worthy and I was what they wanted after all, slowly kill my joy.

I was worthy all along. I have gifts and talents that no one else on this earth possesses in the exact measure that I have them. Sure- they aren’t great big magical things, but they are my talents. I taught a one year old how to say cock-a-doodle-doo. I also taught him that if he throws hummus on the ground, we have to clean it up. I lead music for a holy hour that sent chills down my spine as the students I was playing for sang the bridge to the song by themselves. I wrote a thank you note that established what will be a life long connection.

These things are all seemingly small. But in my life- these are ways that I met God in my day to day interactions.

And I never want to stop. I want to take each day as Mr. Rogers would have taken it- with grace and patience, stopping to recognize that sometimes the small things are what make us the best people we can be.

If you had the opportunity to live a life with less stress and more joy would you?

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood of joy and peace. I’ve always wanted a neighbor just like you! Let’s make the most of this beautiful day, since you’re still here reading this, I might as well say- won’t you be my neighbor?

Encounter

Your Life is a Gift

June 6, 2018

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Mr. Rogers

We live in a world that is in turmoil.

It seems like every day, we hear of someone else that we looked up to succumbing to addiction, peer pressure and darkness.

The news is full of unspeakable horrors that happen so frequently they seem common place.

Yet we live in a time where Mental Illness is still stigmatized, and often times, it causes feelings of great shame to ask for help.

Last year, I was involved in youth ministry when 13 Reasons Why was released. Having read the book a decade earlier as a high school freshman myself,  I was surprised to see the book brought to the “big” screen. I plugged through the 13 heart wrenching episodes so that the people I was working with would have someone to discuss the show, their feelings, and their life with.

I thought the story was complete, and as gruesome as it was, I felt it provided many talking points, and a common starting ground to open the door to those really difficult conversations.

But then 13 Reasons Why Season 2 came out. I debated whether or not I would watch this most reason season. People were saying it was even darker than the first season, and that it was difficult to watch.

Let me go ahead and confirm that:  it is difficult to watch. If you haven’t already watched it, and are planning to watch it, this is me encouraging you to watch it in a safe environment, with your parents, an older sibling, or someone you love and trust.

Mental Illness shows no bias. It can affect anyone. In fact, it most likely affects someone you know and love.

It may even be affecting you. 

In a time when the world seems dark, we need more people like you in it. We need the gifts and talents that you alone give to this world.

You are important.

You are loved.

You are Irreplaceable.

Your life is a gift. You may never know how many people you have affected with just your smile, but you, sweet friend, are a gift.

If you are having a hard time remembering this fact, please, don’t go it alone. Find someone to talk to. Talk to a priest, minister, therapist or counselor.

You are never alone. 

There is always someone in your corner.

I am always rooting for you.

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

1-800-273-8255

Encounter

Reaching Out For Our Goal

April 26, 2018

“The existence of a person who believes must be bonded as one with the object of his faith, for man is only himself when is convinced, enlightened, and reaching out for his goal.” – ( Giussani, Why The Church pg. 197)

Last week we talked about the freedom that comes in being made to be one with Him;  a striking idea that I don’t often sit with.

This week, as I read this line in particular, I am captivated by the truth that my existence is utterly entwined with the full pursuit of reality.

I have a lot of opportunities to think and drive at this current phase of my life.

And I keep having this recurring scene play out in my mind each time I drive.

Right now, God has closed quite a few doors in my life. Honestly, it sometimes feels like I am never going to catch my break and that He is just going to keep slamming doors in my face.

But as I have started to think about who I am, and what I want, I am starting to gain a much clearer picture of what my end goals are, and how I can possibly get there.

In this scene, I am standing in a dark hallway and just as I am about to start jiggling the handle on the door in front of me, one on the opposite side of the hall creaks open just enough to let a sliver of light out and make me wonder what is behind that door.

Now, I have two options. I can keep trying to open the door in front of me (even though it is clearly locked and is not where I am supposed to be going) or I can head towards the one that is open and kick it down Dean Winchester going in for a vampire style.

Clearly the Dean Winchester option is far superior. But… am I gonna do that?

Honestly? I have no idea.

What I do know, is that I am suddenly faced with a re-evaluation of my hopes, dreams, and goals, and need to start really diving into what that looks like.

In this re-evaluation, I should be able to come to grips with the truth of my reality, and start to move towards my end goal again- making me free and fully alive.

Have you ever taken the time to answer the questions “Who am I?” And “What do I want?” [This is a post for another time, but now that I have thought of it, I will try to figure out how to squeeze that one in!] If you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a shot. It really helps to clarify things.

goals