Everything I’ve Lost < Everything I’ve Gained

I came across this senior picture recently. We never actually ordered these pictures, because my parent’s divorce had thrown my mother into abject poverty and homelessness. By choosing to stay with her, I was homeless and living in poverty as well. My dad would have financially supported me if I would have lived with him, but it would have meant I could have no contact with my mom. I missed competing at the state track meet my senior year (after being runner up in the 2 mile my junior year) and I was delinquent from school (after being an honors student) to live with my mom. The story is long and complicated, but in general, the ineffectual family court system tore my family apart.
People who know my story have a tendency to feel sorry for me. But the reality is, I am lucky to have been through this.
Everything I lost and every opportunity I missed did not matter. I now live with such a deep trust that whatever is meant for me will never miss me, because everything I gained from this experience is more than I could have known to hope for. ❤️

Contemplate Death to Give Yourself Life

This picture was taken shortly before we lost my Papa (my mom’s dad), who was like a father to me. It was difficult for all of us.

When someone I know and love dies, it is extremely painful, yet it reminds me to recommit to who and what I care about, because all of our deaths are imminent.

We have a short time to listen to the song of our heart and express it. We do not know when we will be gone. The saddest story is not that you chased a dream and failed, it’s that you left this world with your song still inside you.

When you realize you might die soon or someone you love might die soon, will you stick to your guns in this argument you’re having with your sister? Will you keep letting yourself be mistreated by your friend or boss? Will you keep letting your fears stop you from opening a car wash? Will you worry what your friend’s neighbor will think of your new necktie?

Your life is precious and will never exist again, so do everything in your power to express yourself to the fullest. Even a silly whim to change your style or brush up on your Spanish skills are clues to what your life’s song will be. So get a stylist and take a Spanish class as soon as you can. Be brave in pursuing what is in your heart, even if it sounds silly. The world needs to hear your song.

Vision, Admiration, and Jealousy

“I’m not even sure what I want,” you say. “That’s okay,” I say, “But the most important thing you will do in your life is figure out what you want.”

Most people don’t know what they want. They are either accepting the reality their family or culture created or they are doing the hard work of figuring out what they actually want in life. You either design your life or other people design it for you.

Think about people you admire. Copy them as much as you can or you feel you would like to. So you like the way this woman you work with wears her hair, but not how she talks and she walks? Just take the hairspiration, and look elsewhere for the rest of your presence. Maybe it’s a sign you want to care for your own hair more fully and present yourself as well as you can. Do you respect the way a person speaks? Figure out why they speak well. Listen to them or be around them as much as possible. Watch yourself speak in your own mirror. What do they do that you don’t? Record yourself on your phone. And steal the habits and practices and styles you admire.

Another way to figure out what you want is to think about who or what makes you jealous. What could you do to mimic the qualities you are jealous of or make them a part of your life? People tend to feel bad about jealousy, but it can be a very helpful tool if you pay attention to why it’s there.

People who are listening to their curiosity and following it where it takes them, are the beautiful ones. They face their fears over and over to become this beautiful. They live their lives in alignment with what they value, because they have taken the time to figure out what they value. They adjust their course when they realize their life isn’t looking quite like they would like it to.

Confidence and Compliments

We’re wired to remember negative things people say about us. To combat this, I create lists of compliments people give me. When a compliment happens, I type it word for word in a note in my phone. Later, I transfer the compliment to my discovery journal (more on this journal in another post) or my vision board. The rewriting helps me focus on positive aspects of myself. Sometimes when I create a new vision board, I have to write the compliments out once again, which helps me think about these positive comments even more. I have my compliments displayed where I will see and read them often. Right now, they are posted on a vision board on my closet door. I also have compliments that are specific to my writing posted on the desk I write upon, in my room. These compliments are wide ranging, so I encourage everyone to write down every compliment that helps you feel more confident, no matter how silly they might be.

To get started, think about your favorite compliments people have given you and write those down. If it was in an e-mail, you can print that email and post it in your room or office or add it to your journal. Post them where you will see them. You will be surprised at how they make you smile and feel more confident. And the importance of confidence can’t be overstated. Confidence helps you live the life you want to live.

This is part of my vision board that is posted on my closet door. (I really love sea lions.)