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.

This is a lot harder than I want it to be.


If you’re a follower of my blog (ohhhh, hheeeeeyyyy!) you’ll probably remember this post: I am a woman. My best friend is a man. We don’t intend to get married, and it’s awesome. 

And you probably mostly remember it, because now we’re dating. See, here we are!

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Gotcha! We were planning to date when I wrote that last blog post too.

JUST KIDDING.

For real, we had no idea. In fact, I would have said that we were fighting against the idea. At that point, we knew everything faulty about each other and didn’t have any interest in having to take care of that person and their messiness. Nice and selfish, right? Haha. And on and on that went, until finally, God was like, “Yo, stop fighting me, I’m GOD.” And now here we are.

If you’ve talked to either of us in the past 5 months, we’ll tell you that this has probably been among the most personally challenging times of either of our lives. Throw together two leader-like individuals who have been through quite the variety of hard things, undissected pasts, some deep fears, and lots of hopes and dreams, and you’ve got pretty much a ridiculous mess.

We’re generally pretty intense people. We both hate conflict, (we’re learning), and have dug through just about anything that could be dug through probably about 30 years before most couples dig through things. I’m totally kidding, I have no idea. But we analyze everything like 30 million times more than we need to. That much I know. We’re also learning about what to do and not do with that.

Seriously, this relationship has been a lot harder than either of us wanted it to be.

But, it’s also been very good for us. Because conflicting deep heart issues have proven that love is literally the only thing that can win. And I don’t mean like, the feelings “oooo, I love you and everything is butterflies!” I mean, the part of us that sits at Jesus’ feet and says, “I have no idea how anything will work. Could you make that make sense?” Two perfectionists trying to perfect the other person will kind of leave someone in that place.

What we’ve learned is that Romans 8:28 (God uses everything for the good of His children.) is indeed true. It’s all for the good. It’s all for healing. And it’s all to bring us closer to Jesus. Cuz I’m not perfect. And neither is he. But that’s the point. We can’t navigate something perfectly that’s made with imperfect people. We need Jesus. And then even though we don’t know the future and we don’t know how to understand stuff, we have Jesus, and He has shown us that there still remains nothing we can do without His guidance. That makes the hard worth it.

…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.

It hurts, you know.


It hurts.

It hurts to hear that my friends are suffering.
It hurts to hear that radiation is burning their skin.
It hurts to hear that they are throwing up.
It hurts to hear that their parents cannot comfort them.
It hurts to hear that they are miles away from their little sisters for weeks.
It hurts to see their hair fall out.
Again.
It hurts to watch their tired eyes.
It hurts to watch them shake in weakness.
It hurts to see them not even be able to do their homework.
It hurts to not even be able to communicate the pain.
It hurts to be here, when they are there.
It hurts to hold their hands as another child dies.
Again.
It hurts to come home and cry.
It hurts to realize that hardly anyone sees this.
It hurts to realize that those who do know, obviously don’t care enough.
It hurts to miss them at Christmas.
It hurts to walk into their empty rooms.
It hurts to have another piece empty in my heart.

Childhood cancer, it hurts much more than you know.

Childhood cancer, it hurts, please know.

…because love wins.

Standing

7 words America’s 20-somethings didn’t know before September 11, 2001


As someone in my early-twenties, 12 years is almost half of my life. There have been thousands of growing experiences in those years, but there are just some days that create adulthood in children faster than they ever should.

Never ForgetOf course, we all remember where we were. I sat in the front row of a 6th grade classroom honestly not even knowing what was going on. I hardly had a concept of what an airplane looked like, and had never been to New York City. My teachers were crying, and I wished my teenage sister was with me to tell me what had just happened. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel about this – but I did know without thinking, that I was scared.

That day changed my entire generation. Until that point, we had the safety of America in which we could rejoice. We trusted that we were always safe here. And we were dreamers, not fighters. What was there to be afraid of? The fight is always miles away. It’s my job to play until I grow up and get to lead the world as an American that the world respects.

But then we learned some things. These are 7 words we never knew, and now some we’ll never forget.

1. Terrorism: [ter-uh-riz-uh m] noun: the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce especially for political purposes.

What? What even is that? Why in the world is that even a thing? Those people flew those airplanes into our buildings because it just is what they do? What?

Who would have thought we’d live years of it to come?

2. Al-Qaeda: [al-kaidah] noun: a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden in Pakistan at some point between August 1988 and late 1989 with his origins being traceable to the Soviet War in Afganistan.

I remember how long it took for me to be able to say this word. And to learn that this is a group that operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and racial Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad. Understanding that these folks could be anywhere in the world at any time begged a lot of questions of me as a child.

3. Osama bin Laden: (March 10, 1957 – May 2, 2011): The founder of Al-Qaeda, and born to a billionaire in Saudia Arabia.

Even as a child, I was a Christian. And I learned very quickly that this man didn’t like us very much. To him, his actions were his truth. And he really needed to believe it to encourage someone to fly a plane into our buildings. And so much more.

4. Mass Casualty: (MCI): any incident in which emergency medical services resources, such as personnel and equipment, are overwhelmed by the number and severity of casualties.

I know as a 6th grader I had no concept of 3,000 people being killed in one location alone. But I did understand that my family wasn’t with me, and that I wanted them to be. I knew what it would be like to be that family waiting for their dad to call home. And I understood that a lot of dads wouldn’t come home that night.

5. Hero: [heer-oh]: noun: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave and noble qualities.

For the first time in my life, I saw true, no-holds-bar heroes. They ran into that plume of gas and debris, and fire, to save someone else’s life. I will never forget that for all of my life. The greatest love is that of laying your life down for that of your brother.

6. Ground Zero: at its purest definition, this is the point on the earth closest to a detonation. That was where those families lost their loved ones.

We still talk about it today the way we did that day. It’s still observed as a place of remembrance. It’s a place of great unity. It’s a place of great American pride. It’s a place that deserves our honor forever.

7. Hope: /h-oh-p/: noun: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

I knew that I had hoped for things in life. I even probably understood it better than most my age because I had already faced childhood cancer, but 9/11 changed what that word meant in a great way. We could have given up, but hope won’t allow that. Instead, we hoped. We hoped for an end of terrorism just as fast as we learned what it was. And we hoped that we could return to America and so many families what they lost that day.

12 years later, us 20-somethings are older. We are more America than we were then. And we’re proud to say that no matter how those words changed our lives, America still hopes. We hope for life for those who hurt us to change, we hope for our own understanding of the need of compassion and selflessness, and we hope always for freedom. Because that’s what we are. Land of the free. Because of the hope of the brave.

We’re America – we won’t forget and we’ll always have infinite strength in our hope.

…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.

An open letter to the world.


Hello citizens of the world,

Today, a friend contacted me and said that she had just checked the news. What did her email say? Just a simple, “:(” What is going on?

I remember my young years growing up in America. I ran across the street freely, I talked to strangers, I could walk to the local pool on my own. At the time, that was how life was. I was thankful we lived in America – I was proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance under God every morning in school.

But clearly something has changed. I remember the first time our school was put on lockdown because someone had carved into the wall that there was a bomb inside of the building. I remember Columbine. And I remember never walking down the hallway to the bathroom at school again without looking where I would be able to hide when a shooter would show up. In my middle school mind, someone coming in with a gun wasn’t an “if,” it was a when.

The headlines today, years later, are worse than ever:

“Man shot by teens – just because.”
“Actor, 29, commits suicide in his Los Angeles apartment.”
“Kids okay after gunfire in Georgia school.”

This used to be the stuff even movie moguls couldn’t come up with. And now it’s my young adult real life. What have we done? What have you done?

The thing is, bad doesn’t just happen. It presents itself as an idea. Maybe it’s in someone’s head who doesn’t ever speak it. Maybe it’s just on an online forum. Or maybe someone really tells someone what they are planning to do, and then it happens anyway. And we’re obviously not noticing soon enough.

Now, I’m not claiming that it’s just your fault that that man was shot while jogging, but I am claiming that it might have been. We’re all connected in this world, and maybe a little less iPhone and a little more real life conversation would let us know when someone is so unwell that these things will happen.

It’s not a debate about guns. Clearly people who want to hurt others can find other ways. But you can find ways to stop it from happening. You are the world, and you are the way we live. It doesn’t just happen.

I see an awful lot of people who could do good, share Jesus, and listen intently to do the right thing for anyone anytime, just not do it. And that? That is not okay. When someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t yell at them. When someone is crossing the road, let them. When your children want to play, don’t be on facebook.

You need to be engaged in the planet on which you live. It’s the little good things that need to come back. They fix it. Drugs will not take you away, alcohol cannot make it better, but telling people about Jesus and treating them like you love them as you love yourself in the grocery store might build the planet we’re trying to achieve in our continuous pursuit of escape.

So, take responsibility for those shootings and that suicide. You. Yes, you. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, seriously evaluate if you can start spending all of your time doing good, kind things. I will tell you; not only can you, but you must. Add patience and understanding to a world. Maybe even having conversations with strangers on a bus. Maybe you saying hi will stop someone from feeling so alone that they must go kill to be noticed.

The downfall of this world is all of us. If we don’t stop it, we let it happen. And it doesn’t improve by just stopping bad. It improves by facing the bad with the good. And seeing that it will win. Please, ask yourself. What more is going to take for you to do something to make this world a better, free, safe, place?

What more is going to take for you to stand up for love and quit sitting and watching the hate win? Please answer, and act. I don’t want to see you be shot because playing Angry Birds on your phone was more important than smiling at someone walking down the sidewalk. You have to save us. And you have to save us now.

Love,
Your Neighbor

PS: Come over and say hi sometime – no need to text.

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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