The Carry On / Carry Out Project a.k.a. The Bucket List

I have created a new page on this blog that is my own bucket list.  I have decided to publicize the list I have been creating over the past few years, minus a few personal items that I never wrote down, but are more for the “inner-self”.  Venture over to it if you’d like!!!  I’m up for suggestions on the last few vacant spots.  You will find the list at the top of this page above the photograph header.

What is on YOUR bucket list?!?!

In the midst of the storm…

In the middle of a rainy, dreary afternoon I find myself thinking about life and daily juggles and struggles that we all face.  I am blessed beyond words to have some of the very best friends and family, and it is always heartbreaking when the people you love the most go through their own juggles and struggles.  Yesterday at work got me thinking, after having my own very long and horrible day with some very grumpy and unnecessary customers, that life sure does have a funny way sometimes of reminding you of what is important.  Between my day yesterday and this morning, trying to ponder life and trying to let my heart soak in certain events that have gone on over the course of the past few days (both blessings and discouraging events), I stumbled across this short little thought by Sheila Walsh, one of my favorite female Christian motivational speakers.

She writes:

“I have been struggling for the last few days with discouragement.

Some days it’s as if I’m being pulled under water with barely enough energy to fight to keep my head up.
I have so many friends who are facing incredibly difficult circumstances. When I walk my dogs, Belle and Tink in our neighborhood last thing each night I pass houses that are filled with pain and questions.
In one, a husband with brain cancer, in another a marriage torn apart and three children caught in the bloody crossfire wondering if they could have done anything to help?
I watch the news
I read the paper
I read my email and I hear the cry of the broken and the lonely.

I know what I believe.
I believe that God is sovereign and He is good but at times there seems to be a chasm between the goodness of God and the suffering in this world.

Last night after everyone was asleep I sat outside under the stars inviting God into this heaviness inside me. In the quiet I thought about a conversation I had years ago with a young Filipino woman. We were passing out blankets and water to the thousands who try to make a living salvaging whatever they can from one of the enormous garbage dumps outside the city. Pictures attempt to prepare you for the sight but nothing prepares you for the stench and the noise. Towards the end of the day I walked away for a few moments, overwhelmed by the enormity of the need and she followed me. Wiping tears from my face she said, “It’s not okay but because of Jesus, one day it will be alright.”

So that’s what I want to say to you today.
I don’t know what you are walking through right now. I don’t know the pain or the loneliness you face. There are many things in this life that are not okay but one day, one day because of Jesus it will be alright.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Revelation 21:1-4

 

… my simple thoughts for right this moment — I wish smiles, joy and blessings upon my nearest and dearest friends who all have something crazy going on in their lives.  From break-ins to babies or theft to tears, break-ups and brokenness or any of the in-betweens:  I love you and will never cease to pray for you.  You are the greatest joys in my life and without you, I would be incomplete!

Quote of the Day

I was cleaning through some old boxes, and found a quote by Edmund O’Neill that I had kept.  It seemed like a good quote to share for a rainy day.  I send any of you reading this well wishes and smiles for the rest of your day.

“Set yourself free from anything that might hinder you in becoming the person you want to be. Free yourself from the uncertainties about your abilities or the worth of your dreams, from the fears that you may not be able to achieve them or that they won’t be what you wanted.

Set yourself free from the past. The good things from yesterday are still yours in memory; the things you want to forget you will, for tomorrow is only a sunrise away. Free yourself from regret or guilt, and promise to live this day as fully as you can.

Set yourself free from the expectations of others, and never feel guilty or embarrassed if you do not live up to their standards. You are most important to yourself; live by what you feel is best and right for you. Others will come to respect your integrity and honesty.

Set yourself free to simply be yourself, and you will soar higher than you’ve ever dreamed.”

An Unspoken Relationship Between A Beautiful Gifted Woman & Me

Most of those in my life closest to me know that I have a heartfelt passion and love for persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  I have worked closely with my dear friends at Genesee County ARC and all throughout middle and high school worked with a young lady who had Autism.  There is one relationship that most people do not know about, unless you are a part of my family, and that is the one I have had since I was a little girl with my aunt Loretta.  Sometimes I have found that life’s most beautiful moments can be ones where very few words are shared and you are simply able to be taken back by life’s simple gestures of beauty and grace.  My aunt is a beautiful lady who spent her whole life enduring the frustrations of having developmental disabilities, yet some of the graces that came along with it and the many extraordinary talents she has.  When she was born, they didn’t know as much about developmental disabilities as they do now, and didn’t expect that she would live all that long past a young age.  I suppose many, many years ago they didn’t know as much about developmental disabilities as they do now.  I am grateful for the achievements they have made in research of developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The reason I am writing these words are heartbreaking to me.  She fell the other day at her group home, that is how I believe the story was told to me, and was Mercy flighted to ECMC because of injuries to her spine. Today I went to visit her as I have been told that she will be taken off of the respirator and given her wings.  The doctors do not expect that she will be able to breathe on her own once they take her off of the support, and of course there is always the small chance that the doctors could be wrong, and she could continue breathing on her own and fight past and breathe in a whole new breath of life.  I sat with her by her bedside today and held her hand for quite some time.  When her hand was held, her heart was calm.  My family just told me that the more time that passed today, the more responsive she got and the more she tried to open her eyes and speak words.  My heart hopes and prays, as most people I can imagine feel when they are in similar situations, that when they take her off of the respirator, she will have more life in her breaths than ever before.  And if it is the case where she is given her wings, I know without a doubt in my mind that she will fly high into the Heavens and shine rays of sunshine that reach every single corner of the sky.

The words between my aunt and I are always very few during our visits, but we would share more laughs and smiles with each other during our times together than my heart could verbally express.  Her and I would sit at the table together when the rest of the family was visiting and put together 1000 piece puzzles and just chit chat and laugh.  Its not a relationship that would often come up in conversation with anyone, because it just wasn’t on topic, but it is a relationship that I have always valued and treasured among the greatest in my life.

It amazes me that in a society full of chaos and noise, where surreal and serene moments often times come far and few between, we can be reminded in the craziest of ways how beautiful life can be. It is because of one truly beautiful woman, I am reminded one simple thing.  That one single relationship in which I shared more laughter than words, and more simple pleasures than complicated moments has been one of the most beautiful journeys I have ever walked through in this lifetime.  My heart believes that persons with developmental disabilities have this certain passion in their life that sometimes we lose sight on.  A passion that is sparked with a desire to exceed expectations, overcome any obstacle and succeed with great triumph in life.  Whatever the outcome, whether wings or a new breath of life, I know that my good friend, and aunt, has etched her footprints across my life for eternity, and I am certain that I am not the only person who would feel the same way.  She is a beautiful woman, who has a passion for life that I could only hope one day to fully comprehend.  I pray for her, never ceasing.

———

Aunt Loretta,

You are my hero, and I wish I would have expressed those words to you before today.  You are truly a beautiful woman and I will love you forever.  I am inspired by your strength and by your passion for life, I am moved by your heart, your joy and your smile…

You and I will put a puzzle together again, very soon I hope, and if not, then I shall bring one to heaven with me.

Mailboxes and Moments

A few days ago I made my first attempt at a timed 5 mile walk/run.  I found a route that is exactly 5 miles door to door and I learned along the way, that it was the greatest discovery I could have made to better myself not just physically, but emotionally also. There is no turning back, no giving up, no way out.  Once I made it half way, what would I have done if I wanted to give up?  Sit in the middle of the road, miles and miles away from traffic and wait for a car to drive by at 55 miles an hour so I could maybe have them come drive me the rest of the way?  First of all, I would never do that and secondly it gave me a chance to push myself harder than I would normally.  I found that the more I couldn’t wait to be past that finish line, the quicker I would go or the more I would run.  I would push myself to run from one mailbox to the next, seeing the next one just yards away, I’d fight through my exhaustion and go one step further.

I have found that in life sometimes we often face the same challenge.  We find ourselves pushing mentally and physically to achieve our goals in life and often times just want to give up; stop what we are doing and wait for an easier path or a way out.  What if on my run I would have just sat down on the side of the road and waited for someone to pick me up?  I would imagine I’d be there for a lot longer than had I just kept pushing through the sweat and exhaustion and finished my run.

In life, if we just sit down in the midst of our trials and challenges, if we just stand on the side of the road and wait for it all to be over, we will find that we will be standing there for quite some time; standing in the same, broken, empty and dark spot, all alone.   Instead, we have to push through, learn from our challenges we face and  go from one to the next.  We can think of them as stepping stones throughout our journey, just as my mailboxes are along my runs.  And in the end, I think we will ultimately be satisfied with the results.

It is funny how a week after I have been doing my run/walks I’m starting to see the results, but still just wish that it could be instant BAM, I’ve lost 80 lbs.  Wouldn’t that be great!?  No work, but all the reward!?   Daily, we all face challenges and just wish that they would instantly go away so that we could just enjoy each day.  I have discovered that I am more proud of myself, and happier in knowing that I have worked hard, to reap the reward of looking better and feeling healthier.  In life, I will jump those hurdles, and face those challenges and fight through the pain and the tears and the frustrations I may encounter, and know that in the end, the reward will be worth it.

One day at a time, one word at a time…

Growing up, I wanted to be a writer.  Throughout school, English was always my favorite and best subject.  I had always imagined writing books and publishing books that people would actually WANT to read.  Writing and music were my two escapes.  These two things whisk me off into a world where I do not have to think too much or care about which emotions are captivating my mind.  After all of those years passed of dreaming and wishing to be a published writer, I’ve realized that I do not want to write a book and publish books that people will read anymore.  I do, on the other hand, want that passion back that I had when I wrote.  The passion I had for life and for bettering myself so that I could help better the world.  It was a passion that was often expressed in the things I wrote, or the music I listened to, and  sadly I have lost it somehow over the past few years.  So, now is as good a time as any to get it back.  It may not always be happy writing or sad writing, but it will be what I feel or think, and I don’t expect anyone else to read it, but if I can change just one life throughout my journey  because of one simple word I may have ever written, then perhaps I have accomplished something.

So here I am, to prove to myself that I still have it in me!  Blogs are fun for the soul reason that they may or may not have a purpose or a message, but the writer can just write a thought or a page and it makes no difference what it is about.  I will still have to say though, that the actual inspiration you get with a pen in hand is much greater and a much deeper feeling than sitting in front of a glowing screen, but, I suppose times have changed, and so here we go.   One day at a time, one word at a time…

Get set…

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Elizabeth Gilbert wrote: “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

I write: Isn’t it so easy to read what other people have to say about happiness? They make it seem so simple and easy to understand, but at the same rate, we all struggle with it day in and day out. Elizabeth is right; Happiness IS the consequence of personal effort and it is no easy task to take grasp of. Some people spend their whole lives passing by themselves without experiencing true happiness, while others seem as if they have every strand of hair put in place without flaw. We all know those people and all have those people in our lives. They are the ones who make happiness seem so easy and so effortless. In reality, all of “those” people I have met or encountered in life, deep down, struggle with the same fight we all do. I’d like to meet anyone in this world who has encountered happiness without dealing with some form of heartbreak, or struggle or failure in life.

I have had the joy of being part of a small group for well over a year now. For those of you who are wondering what on earth a small group is, well… it is a small group! My particular small group consists of 7 people, including myself, who meet together when our schedules coincide. We are all different, and all have something different to bring to the table. We laugh, we’ve cried, we encourage and build each other up. <> We listen to each other, vent, and adventure, laugh a lot more, and make up any excuse we can come up with to get together! We are all friends, with very different lives.

The other night we used the excuse that we were hungry for Chinese food, so gathered together (minus 2 of our loves). It was a great evening, and time just flew by. We started talking about what was going on in everyone’s lives, and just as everyone has happy moments, we also all had “things” going on that sat on the lap of happiness. We are each wandering the road of life and though the road is mostly a happy journey, we sometimes find ourselves walking barefoot on rocky roads (not the ice cream), or through mud puddles or thick brush. Even though life is an adventure that can be happy and exciting; those tough trails are ones that everyone walks on.

Imagine all 7 of us who are in my small group, starting a trek up a mountain each with 7 different starting points. We all have to work our way up, and each trail presents different trials and tribulations, yet at the end of the journey, we have all reached the top of the peak and experience true joy in success. Isn’t that how life is? We all have different journeys, yet the meaning of happiness, is in a way quite similar for everyone. Happiness, in part, is the concept of experiencing joy and appreciating each moment it took you to succeed.

One of my favorite authors had something to say about happiness.

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

I wish for you dear friends, an exciting adventure to happiness. I wish for you inspiration, and the ability to not fear the journey. It will be rocky, it will be muddy at times, but it will be worth it. I’m 27 and have a long road behind me, and a hopefully longer road ahead of me. This time, considering I am working on bettering myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, I am going to try my very best to keep at this writing thing! I used to be so good at it. Stick with me, like I said, you have every bit of permission to fall asleep at moments, but I promise the road won’t be boring all the time!

On Your Mark…

I have tried and failed many times at documenting life and the adventures it takes you on, but at the same time, have had a consistent desire to write.  A dear friend of mine wrote a poem in which some of her words were to just write.  She said to write, everyday, no matter what, no matter where you start, and to then simply just let it take you over.  So here I am, yet again, to write and this time… to let it take me over.  So throughout these next minutes, hours, days, weeks and months, I invite you to adventure with me throughout the pages of my life; my open book.  Some of it may be boring, and just like a dull movie you struggle to make it through, I give you permission to fall asleep in your seats and wait for the music to heighten as the story gets more exciting before you open your eyes again!  Other days I wish for you, laughter, joy, happiness and inspiration!

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