Words I support.


I’m tired of people romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic. Coffee (though {sometimes} a delicious necessity) is not a food group, and running on fumes is not admirable. Why do we hold pedestals for sleepless nights, break downs and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self care, balance, the ability to  know when your body, mind, and spirit need to take a step back. Those are things we should admire. We have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment’ and self endangerment, because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine.Exertion

…because love wins.

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The 25th year!


I think I’ve evaluated that life is often a walk to find the line between remaining optimistic and leading, and being jaded and hiding away. When I was 18, I was like most 18-year-olds and thought I knew just about everything that there was to know. And I did know enough to live through college, collect some awesome friends, do some jobs I love and decide on a wonderful boyfriend. But I certainly didn’t know everything.

It’s amazing to watch little kids look up to me and other people my age. I remember the first time that I realized they expected me to know everything for them. It’s amazing – and somewhat terrifying. But it’s a wonderful thing how loving someone and leading someone teaches you to make up your mind and be what you know you should be. That was one of the most memorable catalysts for growth in these 7 years.

So now I’m 25. I learned a lot since age 18. Here are 25 of those things.

  1. Eating healthy isn’t a fad. It decides an awful lot about how you succeed in life.
  2. You don’t know everything. Neither to do I.
  3. Apologies are real, and if they work, that’s awesome. But sometimes they don’t, and that’s likely not your fault.
  4. You never, ever, need to apologize for who you are. What you have done, yes, but who you are – no. Don’t. Ever.
  5. Mental illnesses suck, and are real, but also don’t decide a person’s character.
  6. I love Justin Bieber.
  7. God can take it when you’re angry at Him.
  8. You really aren’t likely going to know what God is always doing, but eventually you’ll make it through.
  9. Dating people is fun. Don’t be afraid to do that. Heatbreak heals. You’ll grow a lot.
  10. You don’t have to be friends with people that you don’t like.
  11. It’s okay for you to say no and have boundaries.
  12. LOVE YOURSELF. Do things that make you happy.
  13. Never stop dancing. Especially when you’re sad.
  14. Your mom and dad are people. They are different than you, and make mistakes. Not everything is their fault.
  15. Changing poopy diapers is a life skill everyone should have.
  16. Roommates found on Craigslist can be character building.
  17. Listen first. And sometimes just listen, if you have no idea what to say. You don’t always need to know what to say.
  18. Don’t walk away in the middle of an argument.
  19. Arguments and conflict are okay – learn how to fight fair and express emotions.
  20. People who look awesome sometimes make big mistakes. And things are redeemable.
  21. Driving with the windows down doesn’t get old.
  22. Smile wide, and often.
  23. Say what you mean. Try to figure out what you mean.
  24. God holds me so so so close. And I am so important.
  25. I am valuable, and should be treated as such. So are you.

So there you go. I have lots of cool things planned for the 25th year of my life. And Justin Bieber released a song for my birthday. What a guy. Have a wonderful day, lovelies!

…because love wins.

I must dance. You must dance, too.


She stands behind the curtain, looking at the piercing eyes in the crowd. She could back down, she could hide from the stares and the judgement, and the knowledge that she will inevitably mess up this routine. She will probably fall. It won’t be perfect. 

And they expect perfect. 

“Can I do this? Will my leg even hold out? I haven’t ever tried such a thing.” 

“Dance,” God says. 

“But how?” 

“Dance with me,” He says again quietly – strong. In a way that almost demands to be trusted. 

“No one taught me how. I can’t dance like everyone else.” 

“But you follow the beat I put in you. You need to dance. You’re My music.” He whispers. His eyes are strong – confident. 

“I can trust Him. He knows my steps,” she says to herself. 

Out she steps. 

Just alone out here. 

The music starts. 

A slow, gentle, beat, as she has learned like should be – slow and gentle. 

One step, and then another. Some quick steps. A magical spin under the moving orange lights. The air is crisp, and the audience silent. 

She starts to see the life events show up on the dance floor. 

A sick child – she floats to take his hand, and brings the music to him. Soon he is smiling a most magnificent smile. 

An illness in the family – she ducks for the challenge it is to get to that ill person, but finds that music unlocks the doors to stop her from helping. Healing comes in a brilliant soft white light.

Jobs, pain, rainy days – No need to face them. They resolve themselves as she floats around them and her light shine upon them fast. 

And it occurs to her – 

“I dance to my own life. That’s my own beat. I know exactly how to dance. My life is my dance. He made this. I cannot fail if I try.” 

God steps out onto one side of the stage, opposite of where she took her place. She sees those obstacles that are life between her and Him. But she also sees that wherever He steps, those obstacles minimize to a beautiful piece of the stage – highlighting her special steps in brilliant colors. Her favorites – making her dance more freely still. 

He guides her. A hand motion there, a step there. Pointing, carrying, dancing right along. 

She’s forgotten all about the people who were once her fear, and her eyes, heart, and soul, are locked with Him. 

The stage is now covered in the most beautiful flowers. Open paths. Wide spaces, where she is entirely free. The obstacles are gone. And as He spins her like she spun as a 2 year old, He gestures to the audience. 

She stops, and takes a step towards them. The lights come up on those faces. She gasps a soft breath. Every single one is someone who has come alive because of her dance. They were strangers at one time, but she now sees them all clearly. 

Best friends. Acquaintances. Used-to-be enemies. Mom, dad, kids, boyfriend.

Everyone someone she has danced into the life of.

This is her life. This is her stage. It’s important.

And it’s magnificent.

She beams, and takes a seat on the edge of the stage. God stands proudly and in a lovely way behind her. Tears fill her eyes. She didn’t know how to dance, she thought. She didn’t know where she would step, she thought.

“But He made the music in me know where to dance.”

“And it was the performance each of these souls needed to see to bring them to life,” He says.

And she knew from that point forward that our purpose in life is to dance. To dance, just as we know how. And we all learn together with each step. 

Our lives are His symphony.  

…because love wins.  

12 Ways to Maintain a Bad Attitude for Your Whole Life


So, today is one of my best friends’ birthday. His name is Dustin. He and I had the same kind of cancer in the same leg when we were little. I was 7, and he was 11. We did everything together – played, talked, threw up, had major surgery; everything. He lost his leg to the cancer, and a lot of his lung. And so did I. But we also have a lot of photos, and we’re smiling in them. Because our mothers and selves, decided that regardless of what was going on, we were going to be positive and enjoy our lives. Dustin died when I was 12. He was sixteen. Our attitudes are still positive.

In honor of his birthday, I’m going to get on my soapbox and preach about the ways we maintain a bad attitude and waste our lives.

1. Wait for everything to be perfect. 
What does that even mean? Perfect changes every day with the color of your skin, the latest fads, who you meet, what you process from your childhood, and the kind of house you just saw on TV. I will just blow that up for you now – it’s only as perfect as you make  it. Fiercely look for the positive in situations. And it would be wise to get used to life being a mess. Because it always is. Put on your best shoes, get ready to get them muddy, and jump in to see what happens.

2. Quit before you see the ending. Aka, avoid at all costs.
This lines up pretty well with number one. This whole world is full of quitters. When you have cancer, you don’t really get the choice to quit. It decides for you. Life should be like that. Cuz when you’re dying it will be. And I will tell you that walking away when someone needs you, when you’re afraid, or when you feel like you’ve failed is an excellent way to make sure that no one ever needs you, everyone is afraid of you, and to fail yourself, and others. Just stick around even if you don’t know what to do. Life has a way of working itself out if you leave your heart in it and bring your good attitude.

3. Hate yourself.
Most specifically, I mean get up every single morning and look in the mirror. Find every piece of your body and mind that you hate, recite every word that anyone ever said to you about how you looked, and then work to combat them with changing your clothes, combing your hair, and all around aiming to be whatever level of perfect they set for you. THAT IS DUMB. Every single person in this world is busy living up to some standard of someone. All the while, the person who set the standard is trying to live up to someone else’s. IT DOESN’T MATTER. You’re a soul. Just go fly, soul. Haters are always gonna hate. But it’s because they hate themselves. There’s no need for you to hate yourself too. It’s really not so great to fit in with all the people who already hate themselves.

4. Take your aggression out on others. 
In the house in which I grew up, we were allowed to be whatever mood we wanted to be. We were not, however, allowed to hurt other people because of our mood. So if I was mad at something, I didn’t get to redirect that at the safe place – my mom. I mean, I did, for a while, until one day she just looked at me and told me she didn’t like me anymore, no matter how much she loved me. She’s a great mom, and that was a pretty swift wake up call. If my own mother didn’t like me, there is a good chance that no one else would either. And it wasn’t her fault. (She again likes me after I stopped being mean.) People are not punching bags. They are not responsible for your happiness. I mean, if you’re happy, unwaveringly lift people up. Don’t quit. (see above) But for your aggression, find a real punching bag if you need to. And then go punch it until the emotions are taken down enough notches to have a real conversation with someone who will share wisdom with you. But leave your walls with the punching bag and let go of your aggression. Being mad about someone or something doesn’t do a thing to them…but it ruins you and your life. Also, anger isn’t a safe place. It’s a lonely place.

5. Never take ownership for your mistakes. 
This is a perfect way to pretend that you’re perfect. And it’s a perfect way to keep everything locked inside like poison. Every person you hurt will carry that hurt because you have legitimized the mean things you did to them. They’ll think of your bitter words when they look in the mirror in the morning. Being disconnected from your reality is not okay. That’s a great way to continue to be disengaged and distant. Because you know, even though we all pretend we’re perfect on facebook, we’re really not. And no one really likes someone who thinks that they are and can do no wrong. No one likes to get blamed for someone else’s pain all the time either.

6. Always blame everything on everyone else. 
This is a great way to continue to never take ownership for your mistakes. The guy at the grocery store didn’t smile at you. What a loser. So negative. Your mom didn’t call you soon enough on your birthday. Work was challenging because your coworker was mean. Your toe hurts because you hit it on a curb and the city built the structure wrong. We can all pretend that we don’t do that, but oh, we do. And the thing is, you see what you want to see. And you see what you feel. So pay attention. If you’re blaming the whole world for your pain, it’s probably because you’re putting yourself in that painful place all on your own.

7. Never let anyone love you.
We all have bad attitudes because people don’t love us, right? Wrong. We have bad attitudes and that makes us hard to love. How are you in any more trouble than the rest of us? We all have our hard stuff. And just because it’s hard and someone or something hurt you before doesn’t mean everyone is going to be a twit and hurt you again. Or they might. But that’s how life works. It’s better to love and get hurt than to live in the lonely place where you keep yourself. People just want to help. You have to let them. And be prepared – they may not help just how you want them to. But it may be how you need them to.

8. Never listen. 
This is an excellent way to be in a bad mood forever. Never listen to what anyone says. When they’re talking, always be thinking about how dumb what they’re saying is and be waiting for your turn to talk. Because obviously that’s what needs to happen for you to feel better. Wrong. People hate people who don’t listen. And that’s a good way to make sure that you never have anyone to listen to you again. Yeah, you need people to lean on, but you might learn a lot if you hear what they say and apply it to your own life.

9. Always think about yourself. 
You’re walking down the street. What are you thinking about? Yourself? Well, stop it. Just, stop it. Think about anything else. The trees. The water. People who need prayer. Your shoes. Jesus. Anything. I promise that the more you think about yourself, the worse your attitude is going to be. Life comes from helping someone. When things are hard, go help someone else. Call a friend and ask them how they are. Do anything but think about yourself and what you think you’re missing in life.

10. Never be pleased. 
Always let your emotions lead what you say. Never speak out of logic, only emotion. Complain whenever you can. That the food doesn’t taste good enough. That the service isn’t fast enough. That your hair isn’t nice enough. Whatever you can complain about, DO IT. I’m totally kidding. Stop complaining. You won’t feel better doing it. When you’re about to complain, stop. Whatever it is you were going to complain about, find something positive to say about it instead.

11. Don’t be thankful. 
This is an awesome way to be in a bad mood always. Don’t be thankful for stuff. Always focus on what you don’t have and never on what you do. Also kidding. Stop doing that. Focus on the positive. Don’t think that you’ll be ignoring all your sad thoughts and that they’ll build up or something. No. Just fill your mind with good things, and the negative will come to the surface manage-ably. Whatever it is you’re upset about, stop being upset about it and find something in it for which you are thankful.

12. Try to hide from God. 
This is the capstone here. The best way to have a bad attitude forever is to hide from God. Cuz then he can’t change you, and you can wallow until you die. Continue to think that He can’t heal, that he won’t come through, that if you keep your heart locked up you’re safe, or that you’ve done too much bad stuff. Nah, focus on the truth. And see the positive in Christ every day. I promise you, that will set you free. Your joy will turn into happiness, and pretty soon you’re going to be known for being the person that is happy. And all of a sudden everyone will want to be around you. And that will create a positive cycle for you to live in.

But, it has to start with you. No one else makes you happy all the time. But you can make sure you’re much happier with the way you think. You need to do what you need to do inside yourself. Happy day, all!

…because love wins.

“I suffer with depression.”


“It’s the stigma that makes you hold it in and you hide it, because the stigma around depression in our society is very real. Unfortunately we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs to sign your cast. But when you say you have depression, they run away. We can’t procrastinate on something this important.”

This, my friend says it all really well. Please watch – understand depression.

Depression is real. It’s not weak.

Depression

…because love wins.

You’re a survivor and that is amazing.


Each day older I grow, I understand more the reality of what it means to have survived childhood cancer. As a younger person, it was just a part of my life; I hadn’t seen much else, and I was just too busy playing to understand what it means to still be alive today. But now, I marvel at my leg, my hair, and my beating heart. Let me tell you why.

I stood up one morning. I took a step, and my knee gave out beneath me. I never knew that I’d never walk on that leg again. I ate my vegetables, and I slept full nights, and I was even nice to my friends. I never would have expected cancer. I probably would have just called you a liar if you would have told me that was really going to be my life.

But alas, I couldn’t walk. Soon, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t get out of bed. Sometimes, I almost couldn’t breathe. To say that it’s a humbling experience to face mortality is just more of an understatement than I can explain. No one can walk to death with you. It’s you, and Jesus, (which is why you need Him), and death. I met myself in ways that I cannot describe.

I remember laying in bed begging God to make the throwing up end. To bring my friends back to life, and to just make it all be okay. And seriously, I don’t even know how I survived. I looked dead almost every day for a full year.

But then I did. I started to take steps on crutches. I made myself get out of bed. Jesus restored my spirit, and I locked eyes with death, and shook my head, “no.” And I just turned and walked away into the rest of life.

I am 23 now, and I feel like I grasp that death didn’t win, but that it sure could have. My fingers move, I can take a deep breath, and I can kiss my nephew. And it’s very much on purpose that I am alive.

The take-away is this. If you haven’t met death yet, listen to what I say. Right now, you’re a survivor, and that is amazing. Don’t take that for granted.

….because love wins.

Cancer is over. I think.


Recently, I was contacted by one of my facebook followers who is facing Osteosarcoma, the same kind of cancer I “beat.” (Not like we get a choice in getting healthier.) She’s writing a book, and asked me to write a poem about finishing treatment. After a year of chemo and then 15 more years, I find that the emotions are still the same as the day I stepped foot out of the hospital from treatment one last time. The cancer is gone, but so are the options if it were ever to come back. So there’s a lot to feel, and learn, and not a lot of conclusions to make. But I learned, and continue to learn, from what cancer taught me about me. Enjoy!

It has been a year.Chemo
Or maybe a hundred.
I look down at my fingers.
How I made it is a wonder.

I can still taste the poison.
That orange death that saved my life.
What does food taste like?
Can I now sleep through the night?

The day I heard “cancer.”
I never thought I’d live.
Some days I felt dead.
Gave more than I could give.

It hurt.
The prodding; poking.
It ached.
Mom and dad’s eyes only looking.

It took my leg.
HallwayIt taught me to love.
Osteosarcoma.
A battle finally done.

I walked into these doors,
so many times.
Now I walk out,
to meet what I left behind.

The cancer is gone.
I’m 8. Maybe 9.
The days were like nights.
The memories just mine.

So what do I do?
No one knows.
No one knows.
The sting; hm, slowly it goes.

I’m not a little girl.Kid in bed
But I’m not grown up.
I’m something new.
I just don’t know what.

Eyes opened to the future.
But living in the day.
It’s the last day of chemo.
“Hello life,” is to say.

My leg is now plastic.
My veins getting strong.
My sister, she smiles.hand holding
But will it stay gone?

Society doesn’t get me,
this little girl who survived.
But I think I know me.
Because I actually didn’t die.

There is a lot to learn.
And I know today I’m free.
For beating the cancer,
taught me to be me.

…because love wins.

This is what depression feels like.


Wake up.
Crap. I hate this. I don’t even want to get up. 
Lay there. Try to sleep again.
Can’t sleep. This sucks. Why even get up? I hate everything anyway. 
Alarm goes off again.
Just…no. 

Deep breath.
Well, I have to. People expect it. But *sigh* nothing is good. 

The feeling sinks more in as the tired wears off and the reality that there is no energy to come shows up again. Another day, after another night where you thought you’d go to bed and wake up okay. Another morning where you cannot understand why you can’t get it together.

I don’t want to brush my teeth. 
Sit on couch. Stare out window. No thoughts.
I can’t brush my teeth.
Lays back down.
Please, don’t let anyone come and talk to me.

Mom shows up. “Time to get up!”
She makes me so mad, but okay.

I can’t do this. 

The fog grows darker and darker as you realize that you haven’t the strength to even get dressed, let alone try to put on a disposition that you care about something in the world. The fog that takes away what you do enjoy, and leaves you begging to just enjoy something again.

Get dressed from the unorganized clothes.
I’ll get to those tomorrow. 

Work.
Come on brain, concentrate. Please, just concentrate. 

Rubs eyes.
Can’t concentrate. WHY CAN’T I THINK!? 
What’s even the point? 

Tears.
Phone call to mom.
I can’t do this. 

“You can do this.”

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. 

The walls start to crash in. You feel like an idiot because nothing is wrong, but everything feels dead, teary-eyed, and purposeless. You want someone to call and check on you but you couldn’t speak with them even if they did. You’re just…exhausted.

You make it through another day, somehow.

Go home. Empty house. Feels like your heart.

Who cares about TV? Why are there always so many dishes? I hope no one calls. I have to try to get this house in order. 

Sit on couch. Exhaustion piles on thick. Tired eyes, no reason to stand up, achy body, and every negative thought ever.

You won’t be able to do this. All of your friends are going to leave. Your family won’t want to be around you. You can’t be real with these people or else you’ll just sit here like this really alone. You’re a mess; get it together. 

No dishes, no cleaning, just begging for bedtime. But knowing 7pm will always be too early. Lay there awake and in aching misery for a while more. Cry, if you’re not too tired to.

Please, God, let it be better tomorrow. 

——

I find that a lot of people have no idea what depression feels like. Oftentimes, it’s a joke. “Why don’t they just get over it?” “Why don’t you just be thankful for some things?” “Clean your room; open some blinds!” “Just call a friend.”

But I just couldn’t. No one with serious depression can. In all honesty, to have depression and not kill yourself sometime during the day is a huge feat. And it’s not pretend. It’s devastatingly real. So real that I would rather go through every day of chemotherapy and amputation instead.

People who stay alive in this aren’t a mess – they’re stronger than you’ll ever know.

So here’s to hope. If you don’t understand depression, please do. Know if your friends and family are depressed. If they’re not calling you back, it might because they need you to go to their house and help them. Clean their house until they can do it again on their own. Never tell them they’re a mess – they’ve already got all the problems evident enough.

If you do understand depression, and you’ve been there, you’re not alone. You are never, ever alone. I know how you feel, and I now, for the first time in my entire life, am not fighting the negative screaming in my head. I’m alive, and you will be too.

Just comment here if you need help. I can help you know what to do.

Don’t give up. You are not ever alone.

…because love wins.

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