30 Things

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30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 years

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  1. Find your purposes.  All of them, big or small.  And then live those out.
  2. The whole ‘separate laundry by color’ thing is a myth.
  3. Listen to your mom.  She knew you first and loves you most.  Lean on her for friendship and advice.
  4. Even though you didn’t choose your family, remember that no matter what, they will always choose you.  Family is forever.
  5. Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness, and sometimes it’s better to ask permission, and you probably won’t know until after the fact.
  6. Figure out what you believe.
  7. Be unapologetically who you are.  It is the only thing that you can be.
  8. All we can do is what we can do.
  9. Dogs really are man’s best friend.
  10. Reading is the cheapest/easiest way to learn.  Do more of it.
  11. If you aren’t gifted at lying, tell the truth.  If you are gifted at lying, still tell the truth.
  12. Peeing in the ocean is cool.  Pooping is frowned upon.
  13. It is your job to heal from the brokenness life will give you.  
  14. Find your sense of self worth, your reason for living, and keep it in the depths of your soul, so that nothing on earth can take it from you.  
  15. Be more afraid of not trying than of failing
  16. Listen to older people that you trust and respect.  You can learn from their mistakes. You won’t have time to make them all on your own.  
  17. Ice cream really does help with heartbreak.
  18. Don’t live in  one place your whole life, get out into the world.
  19. Pizza is life.
  20. Find any reason you can to laugh.  I personally prefer dad jokes.
  21. As Mother Theresa said, there are 3 virtues: kindness, kindness and kindness.
  22. If you can’t find your purpose, just help people.  That is enough.
  23. Learn to manage your money.  Dave Ramsey is a genius at it.
  24. Do everything with sincerity.
  25. If you screw up, apologize.  Even if it wasn’t intentional.  
  26. Trust your Dad more than Google.  He has probably been around longer.
  27. Life should be easy.  Don’t look for the harder road, it will be hard enough.  
  28. Let your light shine, and bask in the shiny light of others.  
  29. The foundation of all good relationships is friendship.  
  30. Life is about love.  It is just love story after love story, if you choose to see it that way.  I do.

Love,

Kels

How Do You Spend Your Misery?

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No one on Earth is immune to misery.  Not one of us.  But, how you spend your misery is something you can control.  Let’s face it:  we all have times in our lives when we feel miserable.  Situations in life cause us to feel sad, depressed, and angry or an overall feeling of suffering.  This is inescapable.  But how we react, how we process, how we proceed… all of these things we can control; all of these things can take us from miserable to better.

This is my practical guide to misery, just for you.  Yes, I’ve experience misery myself, sometimes so badly that I was sure I’d entered the depths of hell.  It is only this that qualifies me to write this article, nothing more, and nothing less.  Even given my limited expertise, I think this is applicable to us all.

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1.     Process with a purpose

During college, a close friend went through a break up.  (I think a lot of us did, really.)  She was devastated.  She did everything she could think of to move on: go on other dates, have fun with friends, exercise, throw herself in to school and even study abroad.  Despite her efforts, her misery lingered.  We talked about it almost every day.  We replayed their recent encounters; we analyzed every word, every text, and every email and then did it again.  And again.  Some people would have gotten sick of going through that, and wouldn’t have let so much time go on but I knew there was a bigger reason.  She was processing so thoroughly because she never wanted to go through that again.  She wanted to see every mistake.  She needed to know that she missed the signs and didn’t listen to the people who warned her.  Every time we talked about it, she learned a little bit more about herself.  It took months, but she worked through it.  After it all, she was thankful for the experience and thankful that it didn’t work out.  The misery didn’t last, but the purpose she found, that she could get through anything and that she would find love, that did last.  She processed that misery and became the woman she needed to be to find the man who was her soul mate.  Now, they are happily married.  All the feels, I’d say.

Moral of the story?  It is okay to wallow.  Suffer through those tough times with purpose, though.  Don’t think that going over something every which way in your head is pointless, unless you aren’t learning.  Let the crap that happened, and the pain that it caused, be your teacher.  Mold that energy; process until the pain ceases and in its’ place, you have purpose.

2.    Keep Going

Have you ever gone to a haunted house?  They are the worst!  For my best friend’s birthday (when we were like 13) she insisted that we go to a haunted house.  Six of us girls in our awkward early teen stage got dropped off by her mom (cool, I know).  We got our tickets and proceeded to the entry room.  There they played a quick clip about the house we were in, how something terrible happened, and we would experience the horror that remained.  I was not excited.  The birthday girl led the way and in we went.  Scary things popped out, we went through rooms that were pitch black, fake smoke was billowing out of the walls and we were a pre-teen screaming and huddling mess.  But, we couldn’t turn around.  It was a one way street.  No matter how we screamed, how frightened we were, or even when one of us broke down crying (spoiler, it was me), we could not turn back.  The only way out was through.

Life is so much like that.  Misery, in particular, feels like a haunted house we can’t escape.  We can’t see the end and can’t predict how long it will last; all we can do is keep going.  And my tools for getting through that haunted house have come in handy in life:  Cling to those you love.  Hold tight to the people who support you, who are going to walk right alongside you through that terrible mess.  Do not forget that the true source of light is not outside you, but right in your heart.  Cry when you need to.  And above all, keep going.  In the midst of that scary dark place, you cannot see ahead to know that you are making progress, that you are heading for something easier.  Don’t let that stop your progress.  The only way out is through.  Keep going.  I promise it will get easier.

3.    Let it change you 

Read this one carefully:  let your misery change you.  But (and this is a big but), let it change you for the better.

Do you love coffee?  Cause, me too.  I read a story once about a daughter who was going through a hard time.  Her mother sat her down in the kitchen and boiled water to cook eggs, carrots and coffee.  They eggs started fragile on the inside and became hardened.  The carrots started hard and then softened.  But the coffee changed the water entirely.  All three things faced the same adversity, the boiling water, but only the coffee was completely changed.

This is how misery should change you.  You are going to go through that black mess, and you can come out on the other side with a hardened heart or a self deprecating weakness, or you can change.  We will all go through a black mess at some point.  But we don’t all let it change us for the better.  I hope that you choose to be like that delicious coffee.  Let that black mess change you into something amazing!

Misery is not optional.  No matter the gravity, we all experience it in some form.  But how we work through it can make the difference between having a miserable life or having a life well lived, even in the midst of misery.  How will you spend your misery?

Love, Kels

Tell Kids the Truth About Who They Are!

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I’m sitting on my bed, reading the news, looking down at my sweet niece Violet sleeping soundly next to me, and I wipe away the tears running down my cheeks.  I scroll over the details of the loss and tragedy, and of the pain and suffering that our world endures.  I pray that this violence stops, that no more families have to suffer this way, that no more children or people feel so far from love that they are capable of this, that my precious family is kept safe; but deep down know that God made me to do more.  I have a bold voice and I will use it.  I hope you read this, and then are motivated to talk to children and each other the way we were meant to.  And I ask that you stand up for mental health acceptance (awareness is not enough, folks), that you vote for lawmakers who make decisions based on the best interest of the people they represent and not the best interest of their wallets, and that you personally practice kindness, even when it feels impossible.  Kindness is a specific, tangible, love-inspired concept that can change our hearts and change the world.     

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Recently, I began ministering to others through a counseling program my church offers.  In this, and in my general interactions, I have found that we have an epidemic of low self esteem in America.  I am going to touch on a few things that I believe to be harmful to self image, and then also share what I believe can be solutions (because if there is a problem, there is always a solution.  Always.)

Here are the three things that I believe diminish our self esteem and personal sense of self worth:

  1. Social Media
  2. The way we talk to each other  
  3. The pursuit of the truth about our value.  (Heads up, I am Christian, so I believe that God gives us innate value.  But even if you have another faith, or are still figuring it out, I know that the general concepts of value apply to you as well!)  

Okay, social media… I’ll keep this short (cause I could write a whole post on this):  

  1.  Social media does not accurately represent our lives or the lives others.  
  2.  Social media begs for comparisons, and often not positive ones.
  3. Social media does not allow for genuine connection.  

Now number 2: The way we talk to each other. Somewhere along the line, we became too critical.  Instead of building each other up, we became this every man for himself, don’t pass out or accept compliments, competition driven society.  Many people don’t even know how to accept a compliment anymore (tip: it’s just a simple thank you).  They deny the compliment, saying oh no, not really.  Or even if they accept it, they don’t truly believe it.  Let me tell you something (that you’ve probably heard a million times but is worth repeating): Trying to dim someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours burn any brighter.  Ever.

Okay, number 3 is big: we must pursue the true value of our lives.  Somewhere along the line, we forgot how important we are.  A wise man once told me that we must value each other for who God says we are, instead of what we can do for society.  (Who is that guy?  Pastor Tim Scott.)  We live in a world where accomplishments mean so much.  When we hear a person’s introduction, it’s all about what they’ve done.  But less often, we hear about who they are.  Let me tell you something: you are valuable because of who you ARE, regardless of what you can or can’t do.  We need to tell remind each other of this, and treat each other accordingly.

Alright, now you’ve heard the problems… Let me share my ideas for solutions (I’m sure there are many, but I’ll share a few):

  1. Tell kids the truth about who they are.  Kids should truly believe that they are smart, kind, capable, loved and important.  Their identity should be formed around this belief.  They should trust this truth so fully that it cannot be shaken, regardless of a failure or what some critical person may say. Because, honestly, kids are all these things.  Regardless of their actions, or accomplishments, children must understand that they are special and loved and that the world needs them
  2. Turn off social media, and connect with people in a real way. (That’s it!)
  3.  We need to build each other up.  We need to overdo it with compliments, love and affirmations.  We need to be a fierce tribe of people that don’t allow any child, or adult, to be sucked in to a place so dark that they forget their true value.  We need to notice each other.  We need to ask the tough questions:  Are you really ok?  Can I help you?  Do you need to talk?  How can I give you support?  What are you feeling?  Ask them all!  And often!  And then meet them with love, while reserving judgement.  Because you know what?  When people are loved, and feel safe, that is the jumping off point for them to grow!  (My church Grace SD taught me that one, and tells me again every Sunday, because we can never overdo it with creating safety in love).

When these terrible acts in our community happen, I ask myself, who in that person’s life could have stepped in and said something?  Maybe you think that mental health access needs to change, or gun laws need to change, or lots of things need to change (and I’m sure that we can always be improving things)… but at the same time we have to ask ourselves:  How can I change?  How can I be better?  Am I noticing the people around me?  Am I being kind?  Am I shying away from tough questions and conversations just because it isn’t easy to dive into?  Am I loving others deeply?

To my very core, I believe that we can end the epidemic of low self esteem.  We can be the community that rids itself of these extreme evils.  We can be people who love ourselves and believe in each other.  But it has to start with you, and with me, and with action in love.  Above all, I believe that the cure-all for the world is kindness.  Be kind to others, and be kind to yourself.  I pray that we all do this a little more, and that we have a world that is a lot better for it.

Love,

Kels                     

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