Happy

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“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside”

Living in a city is something I never thought I would do. From an early age, I loved the thought of living in a small, quiet, and southern town. However, as I came to find my passion and love for the sports industry I quickly realized I would have to put my reservations about city life behind me.

I have been in the city for a little less than a month and while I love so many aspects of Washington D.C., there are certain components that I have begun to wrestle with.

Everywhere I look, people are constantly “going”, there is always something happening, and the distance between the have and have nots is a notable size. This mixed with my perfection tendencies, has created internal turmoil.

You see, so many of us, especially in our twenties, are constantly consumed with the next phase in our life: getting a job, getting promoted, buying a house, buying a car, getting married, having children or whatever the next thing may be. It is so easy to become wrapped up in creating a life for ourselves that evolves on things seen from the outside that we may often forget about creating a life internally, for our souls. These next phases are great, but if you don’t slow down and stop to look around at your life, you may be missing a huge fundamental component.

Take myself for example. Recently I got a new job, and moved to a somewhat new city all within a two week period. Instantly I threw myself into becoming involved with a social calendar and trying to get connected with people within my network. This is all fine and well, however, it has really been some time since I have focused on my internal life.  I noticed lately, I keep feeling a little disappointed when things in my outward life don’t go as planned.

There are many ways we can create a life that feels good on the inside. I challenge you to take some time to figure out what you can do to help improve your internal being. Below are some of the ways I am going to try and improve my “inside” life.

- Turn off my cell phone once I am in my apartment for the evening
- Bi-Weekly dinner at my parents’ house
- Find a cause to volunteer for within Washington D.C.
- Journal every day (or every other) on daily struggles and how to improve them
- Keep a monthly goal list
- Pray more

Sure having “it all” on the outside makes us feel good, but that is only a temporary feeling. A true happiness and appreciation from life comes from the inside out.

| a soul |

Simply put life is interesting. From struggles to joys, there are always ups and downs, seasons of change and we are constantly learning; lessons about ourselves, lessons about others and the way life has its own way of leading us down a path that is often times unexpected.

Recently I learned a new lesson, one that did not come easy, but when I finally grasped the concept, it opened my eyes in a remarkable way.

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In preparation for Christmas, my pastor did a four-week series called “A Classic Christmas.” Going into the month of December, I had no expectations about what the sermons would be like or what I would take away from these lessons each week. It just so happens that as the month of December was rolling in, another feeling was beginning to settle into my mind: unhappiness. I was unhappy with just about everything that was occurring in my day-to-day and month-to-month activities. I could not quite put my finger on it but I was starting to get antsy, and starting to become anxious about my future. I tried my hardest to ignore these feelings, constantly telling myself how lucky I was and that life wasn’t so bad, but these feelings of anxiety kept coming back.

On the second Sunday in December, I went to church with my parents, like any other normal Sunday, I took my journal to write down anything that stuck out to me from the sermon.

There is story in the bible of a rich man who yielded an abundant harvest. He had so many crops, that he did not have enough room to store all of them. So he tore down the barns that he had, and built bigger barns. Then the man decided that he could live off the grain for many years and be merry without any worries. God continued to bless the man, and instead of the man using his blessings to help increase the will of God, he became consumed in furthering his own wealth.

God saw this man as a fool because he spent his entire life trying to be successful at life, but was unsuccessful with his state of his soul. There is a truth to remember from this story.

What matters most in this life is not what you accomplish but what and who we become. You see we are not human beings having a temporary spiritual experience but a spiritual being that is temporarily in a human body.

Have you ever written a to do list? I start all of my workdays with one, in order to make sure I don’t forget any of the million things I want to accomplish in the day. But what about writing a becoming list? A list of who and what you want to become? You see, we all have different gifts and talents that we should use accordingly but there is one purpose that we all share and that my friends is growing and cultivating a beautiful soul.

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My pastor is a brilliant and wise man. After listening to his sermon, I was motivated and determined to start living a life that would help create a beautiful soul. God uses all circumstances, good and bad, to help us learn lessons and to realize the only thing worthy of his praise is a loving, giving, humble and God praising soul.

As the New Year approaches, everyone is wrapped up in making resolutions on how they want to improve. I challenge you to make a list instead on how you are going to use your life to create and become the beautiful soul that God created you to be. Realize that every choice you make on a daily basis has the power to impact your soul and the state of your soul radiates out of you for all to see. Do you know what you are projecting out for the world to see?

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The best accomplishment we can make is to give God glory by reflecting his beauty in all areas of our soul so that the world may know, see, and be drawn through the beauty of His handwork in us, to Him.

“Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him”

|bubble wrap|

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When I was little, I loved playing with bubble wrap. My dad was a Marine, so from birth till around middle school we moved around quite a bit. One of my favorite things about moving was all the bubble wrap and boxes that would be left over after we would move into a new city. My younger sister and I would eagerly wait till everything was unpacked so we could build forts from the boxes and of course roll the bubble wrap out on the floor. We would run across it as fast as we could to hear the “pop, pop, pop” echo through our new home. I have so many found memories of all the moves throughout my life, and while I was often leery about moving to a new city, I loved making new friends and experiencing new places.

Now that I’m older, I still love the sound of popping bubble wrap but I have found I am not as open to change as I was many years ago. Recently, I moved home to my parents’ house, for the time being while I finish up my seasonal job with the Washington Nationals and continue to look for jobs. As I wrapped and packed up my belongings in bubble wrap, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I moved as a child and the innocence and optimism I held for changes in my life. I wonder why it is we have to lose so many child-like views on the world as we grow older?

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We all like to be in control and have some knowledge of what is going to take place in our life. Whether it be job security, having friends or knowing exactly how long it takes you to get from your house to the grocery store, we all like things that are routine. However, change is a natural part of life and it happens whether you like it or not. The one thing that I am slowly learning is that you have to simply take the changes in your life for what they are worth.

“And even, in His severe mercy, He withholds good things from her that she might return to Him”

I recently started a bible study in the book of Hosea, and the above quote was in a passage that went along with scripture. This verse hit me square in the gut. All my fears about not landing a job and insecurities about moving home suddenly seemed so minuscule. You see often times when we have changes in our life we are completely unaware that these changes are part of a bigger plan.

It’s easy to praise God when everything is wonderful and you’re in “control”. When things start do not go in the way that you wanted, or turn sour, we tend to pull away from God. But the thing is, God is in control when things are good AND bad. He uses these situations to try and draw you closer to Him. To realize that no matter how hard you may try, He is the one in control.

fCorey Smith is one of my favorite artists. One of the song lyrics states: “ To live is to struggle and to struggle is to grow.” I cannot think of a better way to look change. Whether good or bad, theses experiences help shape you and allow the potential for growth; you just have to be able to recognize how to let this change shape you. So next time something happens that is out of your hands, take a deep breath, roll out the bubble wrap and remember that God loves you and He has everything under control.

|anniversary|

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At some point in our lives we all celebrate or commemorate an anniversary. Whether it be one year of marriage, or a second birthday, the term anniversary helps us remember special days in our lives. I like to think that they are also a great time of reflection. To look back and see the growth that has taken place over time. Today, I celebrate an anniversary. A three year anniversary. It is one that holds a very special place in my heart, for it holds the day that I received the news that I had cancer.

I will never forget the date August 26, 2011 or every little detail that took place throughout that day. However, as I reflect on the past three years since that day, I can’t help but be happy. You see, cancer saved me. I know that may sound like an oxymoron, but it is completely true. The lessons and experiences that this sickness has given me, is something that I am thankful for every single day. Below is a photo I took in a dressing room with my sister hours before I was to find out I had thyroid cancer. For me, this photo helps remind me how far I have come since that day.

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As I look back on the past three years since my diagnosis, I have my own appreciation for all the things cancer has taught me.

Laughter
Before cancer, I took life way too seriously. Cancer taught me that life is extremely short to be anything but happy and that you should embrace a childlike innocence when looking at the world. Laughter is the best medicine for anything and smiling is contagious no matter what may be going on in your life. We all get stressed at times, but it is important to realize that life should never be taken too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself is such an important trait and helps all the worries of this world fade away.

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Wanderlust
Before cancer, I didn’t fully appreciate travel. Cancer taught me that you can and should travel to new and exciting places as often as possible. Being able to see the world is something  that allows you to not only come in contact with beautiful places but beautiful people. Travel helps open your eyes to new cultures, new ideas and further broadens our view on life, making it more robust and unique.

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Love
Before cancer, I thought I knew what love was. Cancer opened my eyes to what real unconditional love looks like and the one person who will always be there for me. Re-affirming my faith in God is something cancer helped me accomplish and has been my saving grace ever since. Without His love, I would not have the strength to push forward every single day and cross the finish line of finally being able to say I am in remission (hopefully this upcoming December).

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Quality
Before cancer, I never put everything I had into the relationships around me. Cancer taught me that you can and should give those around you every ounce that you have to give. I started pouring into my friends, family and into possible relationships. Sometimes I experienced heartache and disappointment, but I learned that I would rather give what I could than to neglect someone. All of my failed friendships or relationships taught me more lessons about myself and in turn helped me grow. It is important to constantly be aware of yourself and how you engage with others in order to make sure you are being a good friend, family member or significant other in order to help yourself grow and encourage those around you. Cancer taught me the importance of quality over quantity in these relationships and that still rings true today. Better to have a handful of people you know you can count on than numerous acquaintances who do not have your best interest.

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Cancer has taught me a lot. It has catapulted me into a life full of new experiences and is still teaching me numerous lessons about life. Today, I celebrate 3 years of laughter, wanderlust, love, and quality. I encourage you to take some time whenever an anniversary occurs to sit down and think about what you have learned since the initial day of whatever it may be that you are commemorating. You may be surprised at how much you’ve learned and that this life is something that really should be celebrated.

“I love the person I’ve become because I fought to become her”

|wait|

1One thing that I have realized that comes with blogs, and social media and all things digital is the constant state of happiness that everyone seems to be in. Have you ever realized that for the most part, any negative things about a person’s life are not blasted out on the web for everyone to see. I decided I wanted to be honest with myself and write a post about something that is my biggest struggle and still seem to wrestle with. There is one word that I have never particularly liked, and throughout my high school, college and now post college years, always leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I’m sure you’re wondering what concept could constantly bother me and make up the largest amount of my stress throughout the years and to some this word may not affect them in the slightest, but I know far too many people that feel their identity is sometimes shaped on the fact on if they are in a relationship or not. Yes, the one word that has caused me so much heartache and struggle throughout the years is the term : single.

Now let me make a couple things clear before I start this post and before you think this is another one of those rants on loving being single or loving being married, simply put, this post is about loving Jesus. So we are all in a time when people are doing one of two things. The first would be settling into long term relationships, getting married, having children etc. While the second seems to be the ultimate single life, going on plenty of dates, having fun and not stressing about finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. I don’t necessarily fit within either one of those categories and I know a good amount of single friends who are in the same boat, but I have realized one thing, saying that you are content being single and actually being content are two totally different things.  As long as I can remember, I seemed to measure my worth on if a boy liked me or if I was dating someone. Even when I was single, I would say I loved it being just me and I knew God had a plan for me, but deep down, I had doubts.

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The thing we have to remember is this, we cannot settle. Do not let yourself get caught into a friendship with  someone where there is grey area. Do not allow your heart to be vulnerable with someone who has not expressed any intentions on dating you. Do not allow your emotions and state of being to be constantly thrown around because they do not know what they want. Wait. Wait for the person that knows your heart is something held by a heavenly Father. Wait for the person who is intentional with you and is able to be honest on their thoughts and feeling about you. Wait for someone who understands where you have been, what you are at this moment and who is excited for the potential you have in the future.

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Again, saying these things are one thing, actually believing with whole self is another. So how do we get to this sense of contentment with being single? For starters, focus your energy and attention on loving your church, your community and most importantly yourself.  Your purpose on this earth is so much greater than loving a man or woman. Focus your eyes on Jesus and allow him to provide for you in these moments of uncertainty. “You are being pursued by the ultimate pursuer, allow your heart to know the beautiful pursuit of your Beloved. You are worth the pursuit and and you are worthy to be treated with respect. Respect yourself in return”
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Take the time to focus your energy and attention and creating the best possible version of yourself, all while you chase after the Lord. The most important thing about all if this is realizing your worth and trusting in God’s ability to provide for your life. You are who God says you are, not what the world wants you to be. The world may have eyes but God has vision, and his vision for your life surpasses all the limits for your destiny. The importance of this to know that you are worthy and you are loved. When you find someone that is chasing after the Lord and wants you to join them on their journey, you will know it and it will be worth it. So pray for them, pray for God’s understanding and timing and pray for patience.  I challenge you (and I am currently challenging myself) to focus your energy and attention on your faith and growing and shaping yourself into the woman/man you want to be, while slowly learning that being content as well as happy as someone who is single is totally ok at this point in your life. yes

|wanderlust|

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Growing up in a military family, I was use to picking up and moving every 2-3 years and unlike my younger sister I loved the thrill of moving to a new city. The thought of exploring new areas, meeting new people and learning all that I could about a foreign area fascinated me. As I grew older, I found a love for traveling. My first big trip was in the 6th grade when my parents took a family vacation to Alaska. I had never seen views of wildlife or been able to breath in such crisp air. Throughout my younger adult years, I became passionately in love with travel.  However, there was one big important factor that I learned along the ways of my travels.

 

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You see, I always thought about travel as something that needed to be to different countries or places with exotic views, but I started realizing that even the most simple of trips could turn into a new adventure for exploration. I also realized how even the smallest changes in scenery from what one is used to on a daily basis could help refresh and revitalize.  Whether it’s a weekend hiking trip, taking a new route to work, or even finding spots within your own town you never knew existed, all of these can help you see the world in new light.

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Travel and exploration allow you to experience a new perspective on the way the world takes place. It can give you an appreciation for all the beauty this life has to offer. So I urge you to start a simple travel jar and fill it with any change you have and challenge yourself to go somewhere new at least once a month. You’ll never know what could be waiting around the corner…

Fight.

“Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.”

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Almost everyone has had their life impacted by cancer in some way or another. Whether it be a loved one or yourself, most people know the terror that comes after that awful word is muttered from someone’s lips. If you don’t know the turmoil it brings, consider yourself lucky, oh so lucky. Cancer is something that knows no boundaries. Knows no race, no sex, no religion. It doesn’t care how wealthy you may be or how good of a moral character you may possess. It rips through families and communities, bringing with it fear and uncertainty. But if you have been impacted by cancer you know the importance of the fight. The fight for joy. The fight to keep a smile on your face when you feel your world is crashing down. The fight to be a support system to your best friend when you have no words to help them. The fight to find a cure. The fight to survive.

This fighter mentality is something unlike anything on this planet. It unifies people from all walks of life. It brings hope to those that feel lost. It brings to light what is truly important in life: coming together as a human race to fight against a word that has caused too much pain and suffering in this world.

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The problem though? We are lacking the motivation and funds we need to make an impact. Yes, there are many organizations out there that are determined to find a cause for cancer and to provide support, but they operate on the funds they receive from donors and people like you. You see, many people assume that these organizations don’t need their help or that even if they were to donate, it wouldn’t have an impact. Well I’m here today to show a different perspective. Every single dollar that you donate to an organization will in fact help. It allows you to face the word cancer in the face and have real discussions about how you can engage in preventative care. It allows research to preform tests to come closer to a cure. It allows those who can’t afford treatment a shot at getting to survive.

Apparently, today is Global Cancer Day. Chevy and The American Cancer Society have teamed up and if you make your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter to the color purple then they will donate a dollar to the ACS, up to a million dollars. While this is a great campaign, can you imagine if everyone that actually changed their profile picture just donated $5 to the ACS or another cancer organization? Instead of just a million dollars donated, we would have 5 million dollars. See where I’m going here?

You can either take action to actually make a difference or just sit back and assume that someone else will take care of it. What if it meant saving the life of your mom? What if it meant being able to give treatment to your uncle who is slowing dying? That $5 looks a little different now doesn’t it? We all need to realize just how far a little can go and actively motivate ourselves and one another to fight, and to keep fighting long after the match is over.

“Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life”

While I am finally “Cancer free” I can tell that it does not simply leave your life. You are always worried it may come back. You have flashbacks to the cold hospital rooms. You remember how low you felt but how you somehow managed to gather every ounce in your body to push yourself further than you imagined. Pushing the limits is something cancer survivors know very well. I decided to push my limits even more, I am running my second marathon but this time I’m gathering all I have. I’m fundraising for LIVESTRONG, a cause near and dear to my heart. I want to run 26.2 miles for every single cancer survivor, fighter, and those who may not have even been diagnosed yet. I’m running for those currently going through chemo who don’t have the energy to even stand. I’m running for every single loved one that has been lost. I’m running and I’m fighting for something that has set a fire deep within me, and I won’t stop until the day when there is a cure.

So I encourage you, find that motivation, it’s in you, I promise. Find that anger, the hatred towards cancer, the pain and the suffering. Channel all of that into something great. Take action and go out and fight. Fight for those you love. Fight for yourself. Fight for life. Fight for a cure.

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Click here if you’re interested in helping me fundraise for my next fight: 26.2 miles