Words We Rise For

This morning, prior to even puling myself out of bed, as I perused social media, I noticed this month – October, is identified as National Bullying Prevention Month. Therefore, I found it fitting to reflect on an incident that happened in my own life merely two weeks or so ago.
 
Often times when scanning through social media, I’ll notice something that sparks my interest, but will scroll on by, not feeling any particular pull or drive to comment or voice my thoughts in any way. Though, about two weeks ago, while perusing one site, a post from a prominent daily news magazine program caught my eye, as it used a mental/physical illness to describe something I felt was of lesser caliber and a means of disrespect to those actually suffering from the serious and potentially deadly disease. Though, despite how bothered and impacted I felt by this, I continued to scroll, but found myself unable to continue readying myself for the day, without responding.
 
Responding that day, for me, was out of character. As someone who identifies as opinionated, I’ll often keep my opinions to myself, or will write them privately in a journal, especially when it comes to controversial topics. Though, reading this particular headline prominently displayed on social media led to unrest and my bold decision to publicly respond.
 
Knowing I would likely receive backlash for my words, I bravely tapped out my sentiments, focusing solely on those personally impacted by the disease they chose to use to describe a particular incidence, which lacked connection. To me, there were many, many other words or descriptors they could have used to detail what phenomenon they were describing in the article. It felt like I had a responsibility to stand up for those being marginalized or whose diseases were being made light of.
 
Truth be told, that day I DID in fact receive backlash and one comment in particular led me to compose my thoughts today, reflecting back on this incident. Often times, when people think of bullying, children may come to mind, as it often takes place during childhood and adolescence, though it CAN and DOES take place at other points in life – adulthood and even in senior years. A comment made to me stood out that day, a woman claiming I was blatantly ignoring” the comments said to me and that it was “making me look stupid.” I’d be dishonest if I said this comment didn’t wound me in some way, but several moments after digesting it, I started to think of her words in a different way, seeing it as a form of bullying. Nothing that I, myself said in my comment was judgmental or disparaging towards anything or anyone, but rather me, wishing to stand up for those marginalized, stating I believed other language could have been employed. The comment said by this particular woman to me, stated I was being rude, but in return, she was also rude AND chose to call me a name.
 
Publicly voicing my thoughts that day was a move typically out of character for me, forcing me to summon much courage and bravery. While composing my thoughts, all I could think of was standing up for others; those who might not have seen the title of this article and its contents and those who chose to not respond.
 
As one of my favorite quotes stands, “Always stand up for what you believe in… even if it means standing alone.”
Stand Up 2
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A Covert Strength

The word strength and the concept it embodies has taken on a vastly different meaning for me through the years. What is strength? It is pulling yourself out of bed when you want so desperately to stay put; it is having the difficult conversation you don’t want to have; it is meeting with the person or people you’ve been avoiding, but is what will set you free; it is acknowledging a truth you’ve been ignoring but is continuing to impact you each day.
 
Maybe strength is taking a risk or a chance. Maybe strength is choosing to look ahead and abandoning past pains, realizing you deserve better and ultimately want more for yourself.
 
Maybe strength is just that – showing up each day, putting forth effort, or maybe strength is realizing when you need to rest and take care of yourself and so you act upon it.
 
However you think of strength and what it means to you, remember you have it inside you and it is always there, waiting to be activated.
Strength Is

Beauty in a Sea of Scars

Many, if not most of us at some point in our lives, will or do have scars. Maybe the scar is from a life-saving or life-changing surgery. Or, perhaps the scar is from exhibiting bravery after a fall or accident of some kind. Whatever the case may be, a scar or supposed “flaw” of some kind can sometimes cause trepidation, a desire to hide or shield it from visibility, or an attempt to mask it in some way. Maybe the scar or supposed flaw wreaks havoc on self-confidence or brings back memories one would rather forget.
 
For me, I have several scars and “flaws” I’ve either acquired through the years, or was born with. One of them, a scar on my chin is the result of humorously walking in my dad’s shoes as a 2-year-old. Wanting to be an adult like him, though very young, I still recall confidently strutting around in his vast dress shoes until losing my balance and hitting my chin against the wooden coffee table. Many tears and bandages ensued and today, though the scar is dramatically faded and to the point where I rarely, if ever notice it, when I do see it, I see it not as simply a scar, but a sign of bravery; a sign of taking a chance and believing in myself.
 
Instead of hiding or shielding a supposed flaw or a scar, recognize it as a unique complement to who you are; that you were put to the test and are still standing. It is a symbol of your strength, a means to distinguish yourself from another, and if nothing else, a part of your unique story.
 
The quote appearing below is one I stumbled upon, which gives me strength on some of my roughest days. How incredible to think that in another culture, a crack or “flaw” in something is soon recognized as a symbol of beauty; a way to distinguish itself from another. Instead of hiding differences, it is a way to celebrate and honor them.
 
The next time a scar or “flaw” is a source of sadness or upset, remember that our scars and flaws can tell a story, can even help another and symbolize strength and overcoming.
Beauty in Flaws

Life Without a Timeline

Is it ever too late? Or, is it something we tell ourselves when the fear of trying something new or starting over is too vast and seemingly difficult to navigate or digest? Maybe the notion of taking on a new endeavor or changing course sends boundless fears, apprehensions and ruminating thoughts through one’s mind. If it does, I can assure you, firsthand, you’re not alone.
 
The summer of 2008, leading into what would eventually become my junior year of college, left me at a crossroads; do I change? Do I take the leap into the unknown? Do I allow myself to be vulnerable, exposed at my very core? In a way, the events of the summer and rapidly approaching Autumn season seemed to answer for me. Truth be told, my body was ready before my mind was. Though, I often wondered, would my mind ever really be ready? So often I’ve been told, “Do it, afraid.
 
It was time to take care of me; time to nourish my being, both figuratively and literally. My time was a gift, received over and over as I led myself into change with fear roaring its vicious head, its grasp holding me without restraint. Summoning the minuscule courage and bravery flickering somewhere deep inside me, I took each step forward holding hands with my fears and ambivalence, though each day, it’s grasp lessened. Like the leaves changing outside, scattered on those cement sidewalks lining the picturesque town of Princeton, NJ, I, too, was changing, leaving behind the fractured contents that had become my diseased life.
I Choose quote
 
That particular day, October 16, 2008, an email arrived in my inbox with a congratulatory message in the subject line. As I quickly examined its contents, I took it as a sign, a way to know I’d made the right choice by taking the leap of change. An acceptance letter into the school/program where I would ultimately graduate roughly a year and half later, it was a reminder that by acting on the small voice inside urging me to take care of the person I’d been neglecting, I could be gifted with something remarkable.
 
It wasn’t too late; is it ever? Today, 11 years later, at age 31, many of my conversations with my mom lead to us discussing her original career aspirations and how she imagined her life would/could be. Often times, “it’s too late,” is a recurrent statement. Then, perhaps it is pure coincidence, OR maybe, proof of the phenomenon of serendipity working its magic, while reading the newspaper just days ago, I stumbled upon an article detailing one recent Nobel Prize recipient. At 97, John B. Goodenough (is it any surprise given his last name?!), became the oldest Nobel Prize winner for the development of lithium-ion batteries, a contribution many of you reading this may use each day. In the article, he stated he knew he would lose his job at a certain university at retirement age and fled to another post where he currently works – University of Texas at Austin. He said, “It’s foolish to make people people retire. I’ve had 33 good years since I was forced to retire in England. That’s why I left. I’m working every day.”
 
Maybe reading this announcement was a gentle nudge; a quiet, yet poignant reminder that to conclude, “It’s too late,” is really only a way to delay the pursuit of something or someone that could be the key to all someone has ever wanted and a path of personal fulfillment. More importantly, though, it could result in genuine happiness.
 
Let this be your reminder, today and everyday, that it truly is never too late to begin again, to start something new, or to take a chance. You’re never a second too late, or a second too early; you’re right on time.
Start over quote

Love Through the Lens

So many times in life, we can question someone’s love for us, albeit a family member, friend, significant other, or others.Maybe they don’t always say the words, “I love you,” or maybe, it is only said in a way that sounds automatic or without heart. Other times, those words, “I love you,” can sound heartfelt, reassuring and can be affirmed with a hug or some type of affection.
 
In many ways though, which many people may be unaware (and which took me awhile to fully understand and realize, admittedly), love can be displayed/demonstrated in countless other ways – most commonly, as behaviors or even construed through other words. Yesterday, I stumbled upon this quote as detailed below, providing awareness of how many ways love can be shared between one another. Many of it rings true for me.
 
As a teen, how many times did I return home to see the light left on for me? As a young college student, how many times did I return from a grueling night class to the coffee pot turned on and an empty mug waiting to be filled? To me, THAT is love. Love is not always an “I love you,” blatantly stated, but sometimes it is rooted in the things we don’t say, but rather what we physically DO .
 
Maybe love is seeing something that reminds you of a loved one or friend and sending them a photo of it with a message, “Thought of you when I saw this.” Or, maybe it’s knowing that friend, family member, etc, has an interview and it’s a quick text stating, “Good luck, you’ll do great!”
 
To me, love is love, no matter what form it is in, no matter how it is conveyed, verbally, non-verbally, through behaviors; all of it is valid. Sometimes it’s hard to understand at first how someone else may love, because it surely is not always identical. We all love and receive love in different ways. Today, show love to another (yourself, included!), and realize how you show it is always the right way, because it is uniquely you.
What Love Can Be

In a World of “What Ifs?”

During some of my roughest days, in particular, one that transpired several days ago, I’ll feel sorry for myself, wondering if I’ll ever achieve the goals I set years ago, wondering if they are even the goals I am meant to reach. Sometimes, I wonder when I read stories in the news, why tragic events happen as they do, or why someone’s life unravels at the seams?
 
There are some questions where answers are an enigma or they may come at a time when we’ve forgotten the question, or when it’s become less impactful. Whichever the case may be, the other day, albeit in the midst of a particularly difficult one, mindless scrolling on Pinterest landed me on this very quote, as you can see below.
 
Was it a coincidence to stumble upon this quote at the time I needed it most? Perhaps, or maybe, it was the answer I’ve been looking/hoping for, when I question my struggles and fears. For me, I believe it is the latter – as these very sentiments were proven true for me, nearly nine years ago.
 
A newly-minted college graduate, after graduating in May 2010, much of the summer consisted of endless interviews, driving from one part of the county to the next, coming up empty, each time. Sometimes, a rejection via email would arrive, other times, it was a thin letter in the regular mail, but more often than not, it was radio silence; a silent dismissal. Each time, a rejection would come, I would chastise myself, sometimes aloud, other times, in the privacy of my notebook or mind, wondering what I’d done wrong, questioning why I was never “right.”
 
Then one day in late October, as I sat in a medical building awaiting my doctor’s appointment having arrived early, while flipping through the pages of a newspaper, the call came. Not recognizing the number, I took my chance and answered the call, grateful I did. Requesting an interview with me was the organization I’d taken interest in for many years. Applying to the job days prior not believing it would prove fruitful, the call came at a time when I needed it most. That very interview led me to my first professional position out of college and I began work on November 1, of that year.
 
For me, landing that position was a gift and the product of me taking care and investing in myself. Visiting the doctor and taking the time to take care of me led me to the gift of employment. Again, this may have been a coincidence, but I choose to believe the latter.
 
The truth of the matter is, not all hope is lost because something or someone hasn’t come yet. Maybe they or it will come today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in years, but the best possible way to make it happen at all, is to keep going and to take care of you – you are worth it, always.
What If Quote

A “Present” in Presence

Sometimes in life, it can be a challenge to know the impact or effect we are having upon someone. Are we a positive presence in their lives? Are we allowing them to be who they are without chastising or judging them? It’s possible we may never know how we are received by another, but years ago I learned while in training for a job, about the importance of intention.
 
When I find myself questioning my actions, choices, decisions and words of advice I try to give others, my mind goes back to the concept of intention. Long story short, the job where I learned about the importance of intention required me to spend hours on the phone helping others with time-sensitive health insurance issues, some of which were complex and often felt beyond what I was capable of. When I would express these concerns to my fellow coworkers, a seasoned one who had been working in the profession for years emphasized the importance of intention, reminding me that it was actually a POSITIVE attribute to feel apprehensive about taking these calls. Those apprehensions (for me, at least) translated to my intention and true desire to help others and to be able to provide them with a resolution to their inquiries and concerns.
 
This same concept applies to daily life and our interactions with friends, family, acquaintances and more or less anyone we encounter each day. We can choose to give, we can choose to listen and we can always choose to allow someone to feel heard and recognized. We never know how our kind acknowledgement could change or improve someone’s entire day. There is a retail store I’ll often visit and sometimes when there, my day hasn’t been going quite as well as I hoped, but there is a cashier who is upbeat, positive and will always say at the conclusion of the transaction, “It was really great to see you. Thanks so much for stopping by.” Most likely, he says this to all customers, but what stands out is how genuine it sounds, enough for me to believe him and improve my day, even slightly.
 
What we say and do matters and what I’ve learned, is to “Never hide who the real you, because you never know who might need what only the REAL you can provide.”
Be There For Another