Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let us live like the wild geese.

 Hi Mom,
I really don't believe much needs to be said today. This poem was one I read several times a day when you were sick. I read it to myself in the car before embracing yet another day at school. I saved it in my phone and read it as I walked across the parking lot to your nursing home in Carmichael.
The other day I passed Winding Way and Garfield and I smiled at the memory of this poem, knowing I always opened it on my phone at around that time in the drive.
This poem reminds me that we are a part of something so much larger than ourselves. We may know suffering. We may at points be weighed down by poor decisions, or even decisions we didn't know would lead us into hardship, but we need not despair. Live in the opportunities of the world. Live free. Wild. Live knowing you have a chance to make things right, to start anew, to take life one step at a time.
We are apart of something larger. And we are also always being called home-into rest. into peace. Into a new beginning.
As I start this new year I look forward to a new beginning and many more steps into life, love, and relationship.
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver ~
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Risking the small steps to create the picture, the big picture.

Hi Mom,
I know it’s been quite some time since my last post and honestly, that usually that means my brain was so overwhelmed that I became hyper critical of my writing... ultimately leading me not write much at all.

Alas! My more balanced self has returned from the depths of paper writing, emotional rollercoasters, and just plain life-stress.  What really makes me feel comforted in this whirlwind of a semester though, is that whenever I do get the time to inhale and… wait for it…exhale, I realize how much I have been growing. I realized tonight that I am in a healthy, yet completely confusing place.

I have begun now, (thanks to lots of processing time)  to grasp a better sense of how my brain works and  how in turn that has created the sense of confusion I have.

I see everything as a part of the big picture. I always have, it’s my first instinct. If I get an extension on a paper for school, my initial response is not: “Well now I can relax because I have more time”. It’s actually: “Does this mean I will get the paper back later than everyone else? How will this affect my overall grade? How can I be productive with my time now to make the most of this extension?”
  Everything I do I see in terms of what it means for my life, and the lives of others around me, overall.

I’m not interested in temporary fixes, Band-Aids.  I’m interested in the betterment of the whole situation—everything in context. I’m interested in finding ways to be able to look down the road and know that I will still agree that my decisions/emotions/actions were: valid, honest, and the best I could have given…even if I made mistakes.

Someone the other day gave me this scenario: If one of your closest friends came up to you, on one of the hardest days of your life to date, and could only respond with one action and one phrase what would you ask of them? What would help you heal the most? If they could only say one thing and do one action for you that entire day what would you hope it to be?

Besides being taken off guard by the complexity of the question, my response was actually quite simple. If one of my closest friends came up to me in such a state as the one described and were only allowed to do one thing for me and say one phrase in response to all I had to say I would want it to be just this:

1. Give me a true hug; a longer than average, honest hug

2. Say something that gives me the impression that what happens in my life matters to them.

What followed next was the question: based on this answer, describe how you receive love the best or in other words, what is your love language?

To which I said:

Mom, sometimes I want answers to why things are happening in the manner that they are. A bunch of questions are always floating around in my head:

 Are my priorities what I want them to be? Do my actions reflect and point towards those priorities?  Why do I have such AMAZING people in my life?

What does this next semester at Jessup look like for me—where do I see struggles and successes arising and how can I be more prepared for both?

 How can I be more intentional with my time? How can I better communicate to those in my life that their life counts? That they are thought about and loved in every moment of the day? What areas do I need to improve on and what will be my steps to get there?

It is a great thing that I often see the experiences in my life as a part of the bigger picture because... well, they are. This mindset of the bigger picture has allowed me to find encouragement and joy in the littlest of moments. It has helped me see the purpose of pain, struggles, and momentary setbacks. However, sometimes, this big picture mindset can cause me to become more confused, always wanting answers--which ultimately derive from the human desire for security.

Like I’ve been told several times before there is a time for big picture thinking and there is a time for the step by step mentality. Now, I truly believe, is a time for the latter. If you don’t act or react to situations because you are afraid, how will you move forward?

 Again, I catch myself saying that it is okay to give up control; all the details of life are not mine to decide anyways. It’s okay to take things day by day. It’s okay to react in what way I feel I need to. You can’t learn from mistakes if you’re too afraid to make them. You can’t get to the finish line without taking a step. You can’t see the big picture unless you’re willing to risk taking the small steps to create a picture in the first place.

Tonight has been just what I’ve needed. I will never know why everything is happening or why I react to things the way I do, but I can see growth. I can see honesty. I can see a step…and another step…and… look! It’s now Saturday.
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wanting you to live the "Good Life" with us...

It has been a while since I've been able to pull together all my thoughts for you, but I figured with an empty apartment and some much needed rest, I would sure try.

Tonight I am taken back to a very distinct day in my memory. It was the summer before my freshman year. Shelby and I had just pulled in the driveway at home around sunset. As we were about to shut off the car " Good Life" by One Republic came on her Ipod. We just stopped for a moment, listening and singing along as if it was the anthem of our hearts in the moment...I believe it was.

I remember that moment so well because it was 4 minutes and 13 seconds of pure reflection and anticipation for the new journey we were both about to head into, college.

As that song now plays on my laptop I am hit with a different reflection. In a little less than two weeks it will be the two year anniversary of your passing.

I really hesitate to mention that,  knowing that some people may have the "you will eventually forget the pain" mentality, but I will anyway-- because saying I haven't forgotten that date is honest. Plain and simple. I want to be honest with myself.

 This song reminds me of that moment when both your daughters stood on the edge of a new life experience, college. AND it reminds me that we had to ( and will continue to have to) do so without you.

Those are always going to be hard words to swallow. No matter how much time has gone by and how much healing has taken, and will continue to take place, in our hearts. 

I believe in these lyrics. " Oh this has got to be a good life, this has got to be a good life, this could really be a good life, good life"--

I know I truly have the good life with the blessings of education, dreams, safety, family and friends... but I still want you to be here with the three of us experiencing these things all together.

I still wonder what it would have been like if you were around. What it would have been like to have both you and Dad texting me just checking in and making sure my Nutella stash is stocked...

                        ...which come to think of it though, my Nutella addiction happened after you got sick, so even the idea that you don't know about that silly part of me makes me take a second in reflection)

I still wonder what it would have been like to have you around when I got my English scholarship, or completed my internship, or started my work with Children's  on Sundays and with the Youth Detention Facility...I'm sure you would have been just as supportive as Dad is.

I still wonder how it would feel to see both you and Dad walk into my apartment to drop things off and make sure all is well with school and life.

Mom, I wish you could have met my close friends here. You would love them all, I just know it. I can imagine you would have been one of those moms who would send me back after school breaks with brownies and delicious treats for the girls I live with.

 I wish I could look out at a choir concert this year and see you AND Dad cheering me on. Choir is such a huge part of my college experience, and it makes me a little sad at times that I will never be able to call you on the phone and tell you  everything about it...what it would be like to hear your voice... :).

I guess all of this is to really say that I just miss the little things. For example,  I just randomly remembered a walk we had with the dog years ago where we talked about how you would call me the first day of college and make sure I paid extra attention to my hair... because, well  as you would say, "you know how I feel about ponytails and frizzy curls" haha!

Despite wishing for all these things right now though, I am smiling.

I am smiling because in recognizing what I miss about having you here with me, I am reminded (at the very same time) of all the things that I will always love about you.

 Sure,  I would give so much up to have you be here on earth again, but this world couldn't give you the best. If you were here it would have been in sickness and suffering.

 In light of that, I will gladly take the heartache and  the pain of October 10th everyday if I have to because while those who knew you may hurt and miss you terribly still-- you are out of pain and you are still keeping an eye on all of the ones you love here.

I love you Mom. Thank you for teaching me everyday what those three words really mean. No matter what, I am always beyond thankful for the 17 years we had with eachother.

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday thoughts: White picket fence or red walled apartment?

Hi Mom,

Can you believe it's August already? I remember the secret fear that I harbored this time last year that college was going to be the hardest time of my life. I have always been one to seek a challenge...but this time a year ago I held the fear that I would go to college and be alone. Yes you have it right, I felt so grown up and yet so little- like a little child in primary school, "Will they like me?"... "Will I make friends that are as wonderful as the ones I've been blessed with already?"

Of course once I stepped foot on campus I felt secure again, why was I so silly?! Of course I would make friends-just because I went to public high school didn't mean I was completely out of the club...

Now, a year later, no fear rests in my heart. I am counting down the days to the moment I return back to campus, yes sometimes even down to the minute :).

 (I love education, I love schedules, I can't help it!)

The closer the new year of opportunities gets though the more I ponder...

 "How does my present life connect to my dream life?"

 I mean I currently attend a school that is only slightly bigger than my high school graduation class (although this year we are increasing are student population dramatically...yay new friends), yet I want to attend a HUGE public college for graduate school (fingers crossed): New York University. Completely opposite environments that include completely opposite student views.

Will this give me an advantage, I think yes. However I wonder: do I have a clear direction?

I am split at the moment. Part of me wants to graduate with my Bachelors, get a job writing or teaching English, someday have a family, live in a place where I can have a house with a white picket fence, porch swing, and red front door-- a place where I can sip my morning coffee while the sun rolls in. Taking the day easy and enjoying the suburban lifestyle which, to some extent,  I have grown up in.

The other part of me ( and right now the larger part) wants to go to graduate school in NY, get some hole-in-the-wall apartment while I get my Masters, fight my way into some wonderful publication or perhaps become an editor... or professor... or find myself an agent... (yes PLEASE), and then get married and have a family which cherishes all the opportunity the "big city"  would afford us. (Wow, I can't believe this is what I think of on a Saturday evening...)

This part of me wants an apartment with a small kitchen, library or study with floor to ceiling bookshelves in cherry wood and a bright red accent wall, a place where I would gladly forgo having a porch or a backyard at all. The dreamer within me wants to live in a big city where busy is the normal and independence is required. A place where you earn the right to assert yourself, a place where the title "writer" is a beautiful and desired pursuit, not just a lofty goal.

And then there are all the random dreams and goals in my heart: to work with teenage girls who are broken (by means of abuse, drugs, cutting...whatever) and become a mentor-like figure in a live-in rehabilitation facility, volunteer regularly with Disabled Sports Association, Intern with the CURE Foundation and something like Invisible Children, study abroad, volunteer with the prison system (on my way!), be continually hospitable even as an adult (giving up any extra rooms or money or food to friends or others in need) , and take walks every summer by the oceans edge...

Where do these all fit? How can I mesh the desire to " live in the moment" which comes with my lifestyle now with a desire to be constantly growing, moving, and doing which is constantly available in big bustling cities like NY or Chicago?

I've been told over and over this summer that I am a goal oriented person. I make a goal and not reaching it, not reaching my potential, is NOT an option. I've also discovered this summer that people and more so RELATIONSHIPS with others fuels me beyond all else.

So how do these two parts of myself play into all my dreams, my future? Well- I have no clue. And the lovely thing is I didn't write this to figure out the answer.

I wrote this so that I could see all the potential that my future has. I wrote this in order to reflect on the goals and dreams that have been placed on my heart and to realize that I have no idea where I'm heading or what is in store for me as I grow older. Mom, I love this. I love that I don't need to know and that it will all work. That is something I have been learning from you. In two years our life changed in every way and it made me realize I have no guarantee of what I will do or where I will be in the future. It made me apprehensive to plan that far in advance to a certain degree. Life is too fragile.

Somehow though, I know that the desires and dreams that rest in my heart will not go unfulfilled. No matter what type of house, job, location, or hobby I pick up I know that all these desires will come to life one day.

Maybe they won't happen how I planned, or in the order that I wish, but the passions in my heart won't be overlooked- they will be a part of my future. Somehow I have hope that all these things, the dreams and plans, will come together through the avenue of relationships and people... and  they will all bring me SO much joy and fulfillment when they do!

Hey, some of these things are ALREADY fulfilling my heart!

I look forward to another great school year Mom. I will write again with updates on all the volunteering,serving, and activities I will be doing later in the month. One thing is for sure though- while I will be busy, I will be LOVING every moment and my heart will be full because I'm living out my goals and priorities in ways I never imagined! Wish you could be here to see the huge smile on my face right now as I have been writing all this- I miss you in these moments too Momma!

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Planning to be unplanned.

This summer has been unlike any other. I have run off my typical scheduled routine and floated freely this last month and a half doing whatever would make my heart smile: started a health class, baked with Shelb, weekly coffee runs to almost every coffee place in town,writing/editing, lots of lunch and dinner plans, reading...yes- lots of reading, and most recently a trip to Nevada.

It's been surprisingly hard doing only what I wish from the hours of 8am-5pm... I know you would say that is a ridiculous statement to make Mom but it's truly how I feel. Like I said in a previous letter I've always been one to do what would advance me to my goals. I am always striving for something: good grades, free time with friends, a job, a future (just how I planned) but this summer has been the opposite. My stress level has gone from ridiculously high to almost none existent and I am eagerly awaiting the day when that changes.
A few days ago I was in the passenger seat driving to Nevada. Once Upon Another Time by Sara Bareilles on repeat*. Rolling hills and turning roads outside the window. Just reflecting.
This is what came to my mind:
Friends- no matter how long or short our time together is, the one question I hope you never feel you have to ask is: "Do you love me?" My hope is that I'm living my life in such a way that you know the answer always has and always will be: Yes, more than words can express.

Mom,  this has always been my goal in life: To live my life in such a way that those in it know that they always have been and always will be loved far beyond words. And although I love a routine, sometimes that goal can't be met within a schedule and a plan. Sometimes it happens when you let go of control.
I've been learning through several friends this summer that what matters above all is: loving and supporting each other despite anything that the world throws at us.

What fuels my heart is people. That is what I have been reminded of this summer. Above all of my life's plans my biggest fear is to live my life to fulfill my own needs and not strengthen, invest, or love on the people who are in my life.

 If I fail to get rid of my school loans or have a rough time adjusting back to a busy schedule come fall semester I know I ultimately will be fulfilled if I know I have spent time investing in relationships. Focusing on the details. Spending time in the moment. Prioritizing my opportunities to show, through my actions,what really matters to me: my friends and family.

I think this summer is teaching me how to be more unplanned. I'm learning how to take summer day by day and stop focusing so much on controlling my plans, but on making the most of them. I'm being reminded how to laugh when your schedule is changed and love everything and everyone I am given even more. I've slowly been giving up the control I have of my summer and simple focused on people, relationships, and love rather then busy days filled with a long to-do list but no impact to be made.
It's been a good break from my normal ways...even if it means I have to plan this summer to be unplanned.
Wow, I have so much of you within me Mom!

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Emails. Words. Encouragement?

written 5/24/12
He said it was very powerful. He said that he would encourage me to follow this through to publishing.

My book proposal is in its third stage now. After writing then re-writing and submitting...I have finally gotten feedback. 

Of course, when I first saw that email pop up in my inbox, I about wanted to cry realizing things had finally come full circle.

I had the idea of writing a memoir about you and the impact of your disease on our family--> I wrote it (the book proposal that is, with the sample chapter...just one thankfully!) ---> I sent it to be read by a published author and get his feedback.

Now comes the scariest part(and I thought that would be reading his response!)...

 I have to implement his critiques, tighten my work, add a few more letters I wrote to you around your final days with us, and submit it back to him so that he can send it to his agent for his rough critics and own thoughts on if this is something I should pursue as a... wait for it...CAREER.

This is all so surreal to me. My goal with writing this book proposal and chapter has never really been to write the book. Sure, that is my end goal, but I'm not even a graduate with my Bachelor of Arts yet.

The whole time I've been working on this project I kept telling myself: "You don't have time to write this book anyways so don't freak out if he hates've got time".

Oh boy, am I so glad that I can still say that to myself..."I still have time, your goal isn't to write a book in college, it's to learn and grow...take the feedback you get and edit like crazy!"

Mom, I'm going to edit like crazy.... and then I'm going to submit this back and wait for the agent's edits/critiques/thoughts...and then I'm going to sit and take a deep breathe...and then I'm going to share what I wrote.

I am excited and terrified about what an actual agent may say about my work. Now this is not because I care at this point, in my so called writing "career", if my book will get published by him. I have these feelings simply because of the learning that can take place.

That is what I love about where I'm at right now as a writer.

I'm far enough away from entering the workforce that I don't need to already have this book proposal fine tuned. I'm far enough away from the age and the experience level that I will need to have to be taken seriously. I can simply take these critiques and emails as learning opportunities.

 I have enough time to grow and improve that I don't need to worry if this book gets published right this minute, because I don't have the stress of relying on my writing for income purposes just yet.

All this to say Mom, your story is being heard. Right now just by two more people...but eventually years from now by hundreds... maybe even several hundreds.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to write this proposal and even more so to share your story. I have faith in the future. I have faith that your story will shine stronger and brighter, no matter how poor my writing is, because I took these opportunities to share it with others.

I love you, so much.

I'm so sorry that this is what happened, but I love you more and more each day because of what you've allowed me to see and learn through this struggle of yours... and ours as a family.

Thank you Mom, for being who you are. For always standing strong even when the world did everything it could to tear you down.

 The world didn't win, Mom. You did. You won the fight against Moya Moya, not because you physically survived it, but because your heart and your love overcame it.

You won because you survived in the hearts of others. You won because you gave everything you had... and in doing so you taught us so much and loved us even more.

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A New Portland Perspective

Hi Mom,
     Due to my crazy schedule and book writing, I haven't been able to process all that's going on in my head, so until then I wanted to share with you a note I wrote in my journal and shared with my Missions Team at our debrief a few days ago.

These were my overall thoughts on the trip I took over spring break and the impact it has made on my life. enjoy!

"What I find so unique about the Portland trip is that we weren’t abroad...
So many times by friends and others I was asked:
"If your spending all this money to “make a difference” why not go somewhere completely different from what you know? Why not travel to some place that is poverty stricken?
Portland doesn’t really need attention, does it??"

Let me be honest: until I actually WENT to Portland I didn’t really understand how much these people and this city DID need attention. The high rate of homelessness there was very apparent...

What really struck me though is that Portland is just a city.
It’s just a place-like Rocklin, Sacramento, Roseville…

So why does it take some official title... why does it take the phrase “Missions Trip” to be added to the end of this seemingly ordinary city in order to get us to act?
Why does it take two words, “Mission Trip” to get us to open our eyes to the problems surrounding us?

What would happen if we saw our whole life as a missions trip?

Sacramento, Rocklin, Roseville: they all have their own set of issues, struggles, and needs. Yet we keep our eyes so set on our own path that we are guarded against the needs in our own cities. Our own workplaces. Our own classrooms.
What would these places look like, what great benefits would we be able to see, if we actively pursued the missions around us?

I saw this missions trip to Portland as an opportunity to give back to others what I had been given… but why do I think that such giving can only occur in the setting of a missions trip? Why do I feel like that title obligates me to act, but everyday life doesn’t ?

We spent a week giving everything we had to people we have never met- yet that person at work who is in the same office as you, or that person who goes to class with you- We find those people ACCEPTABLE to skip over.
Let us work to give all of who we are to everyone we come in contact with, regardless of the setting or the title “ missions trip”. Let us give everything we have, even if its just a hug or an authentic conversation, to those in need.
 This type of giving is a risk. It could require you to step out of your own circle of friends, it could require you to be five minutes late to wherever you need to go that day-but its those sacrifices for others that show our true character.
 It's those sacrifices that speak louder than any words that we can produce.

Let us learn to be missions minded in our day to day lives too.
 We need to learn what it really means to love and give and sacrifice everyday not just when we have no other distractions to keep our attention.
 Life is not always going to allow us to dedicate an entire week solely to meeting the needs of others. It is up to us whether or not we truly believe that we can make a difference. And if we do in fact believe that we can, then it's up to us to ACT on that-- wherever we are and with everyone we are given in our lives.
Everyone in the world has needs that can be met. Lets not wait on a title to tell us when its appropriate or okay to act and meet those needs. Let us take the first steps from where we are at today. "
Thanks for listening Mom. I miss you every day.
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where is my mind at?

 Summer is close. Only two to three weeks left of my first year of college. Two to three weeks that are full of Shakespeare papers, Psychology reports, Bible papers, and so many crazy tests and assignments you thought you could forget about.
Lately, I have realized how quickly this summer break has come up on me. Being busy finishing the school guide for work this week and somehow going from having four free weekend in April to having one Sunday free of commitments… and that’s a maybe…has made me never stop to think of my summer plans.

Last week I was talking with two very influential people on campus over lunch and they asked me
“ So Brittany, what are your plans for the summer?”
I sat stunned.
 Focusing so much on papers, weekend chats with friends, choir concerts and benefits, interviews and book writing I was always caught up with the now. Why does this scare me?

I’m a planner, it’s what I do. I like being productive. I like being stressed to some extent because I know that means I’m not wasting time…I’m moving forward towards my goals, progressing.

So why is it that my only concrete plan for the summer a Environmental Science class at Sierra?
                           No definite job plan, except some babysitting. No secured date for our Santa Cruz weekend trip. No certainty of when/if I will be visiting the beach.
Everything that I have in mind is just an idea… and while I’m almost certain, that being the way I am, these ideas will form themselves into plans to place on my calendar- it still scares me that they haven’t made it to that stage yet.

I was talking to Dad about this concern of mine this past weekend on the drive to San Jose and of course, being the man he is, he tried his best to remind me that I am succeeding and I am doing things. He reminded me of all that I’ve accomplished this year including maintaining pretty decent grades and said that it is okay to just enjoy myself sometimes too. I realized in that moment that the reason I have this concern over the summer is because I don’t want to waste time.

Mom, I continually am learning how fast time goes and how precious life on this Earth can be. I don’t want to waste time “having fun” if there is a job out there that can get me closer to my goals and passions. I don’t want to waste time relaxing if I can be learning, if I can be bettering myself. School, work, volunteering: these are all things that help create a path for myself and they all happen to be what society expects of us soon-to-be real adults.

After some chocolate and lots of reflection on my conversation with Dad and others, I have decided something though: its okay. It’s okay for me to have one summer doing what I love most. It doesn't mean I'm wasting time. It’s okay not to have a plan of attack already scheduled for the summer on my calendar.
I need to relax. I need to go have fun and be with friends. I need to serve others in VBS and food banks and visit more nursing home clients…

 While consistent work hours are great and having concrete plans are great, it’s okay to do something different. I may even go as far to say that this different plan is acceptable.  

So Mom, this is what I’ve determined to do: I’m going to learn to be okay with the way my summer is looking today. I need to remind myself that I am doing things, I’m not completely lazy and unproductive. I have babysitting and summer classes and the hopes of fun weeks with my friends on the horizon.

It’s all going to be alright.This is a good thing.

                                                                                                           ...Thanks Mom for listening.
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who cares about proper english's Sunday after all.

This month has been a crazy one! I've been dying to get back to this blog, but the lovely english major inside of me makes any attempt at writing at least an hour long process. This time around however, I'm not going to remember grammar or worry about tenses...I'm just going to get this thought out on paper in hopes that doing so will stop me from being so distracted.

Why is it that I am constantly worried about saying things just perfectly? I don't mind what people think about my writing, but if they don't understand the point of what or why I write, I get so frusterated!
Why is it that us humans always want to be understood?

Anyways... Mom, I just want to share some very disconnected thoughts with you today, and to bring some order to this choas I'm making it a list. Here it goes...

1. I missed you a lot this last week or so and was gladly reminded by Dad that it's probably because you loved Spring. It was one of your favorite times of the year besides your birthday and Christmas of course :) This short conversation also led me to miss your delicious lemonade that you made with extra sugar.

2. Everytime I listen to the Alive at Last soundtrack from Train, I am reminded more and more of why you loved them so much.

3. I've been having this reoccuring theme in my dream: I'm at the beach & someone braided my hair. Strange I know, but now after 3 days I really want it to happen

4. Finish time: 2:34:24. I am so proud to have your husband (am I still allowed to call him that?) as my Dad. He makes me feel so loved and supported everyday... and he proves, through his own life, that hard work pays off!
5. I have the most caring and supportive friends around me. I am so thankful for their friendship!

6. I can't wait for March 24th to come. It will mark the end of a very stressful and overwhelming last two weeks. I will be finished with exams and book proposals for a while too, I hope!

7. Whether you believe in God or not these words are true, life and circumstances train us to be better people:  "It takes GENTLENESS to be part of what God is doing in someone's life and not get in the way. It takes PATIENCE to deal with sin and weakness of those around you. It takes PERSEVERANCE to be part of change in a relationship because that change is most often a process and rarely an event. It takes FORGIVENESS to move beyond the times you have been mistreated by another. It takes FORBEARANCE to continue to love a person even when you are being provoked. It is hard to respond in KINDNESS when you are treated unkindly. It takes remarkable LOVE to serve the good of another and not be distracted by daily needs." -Paul Tripp.

Sorry for all the random thoughts! Now I must go back to focusing on homework...

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Words make sentences, sentences make paragraphs

   I find it very funny this afternoon that my last blog post was about not having the ability to write anything of meaning- and now this post will be about the exact opposite.

                                             I have jumped onto the writing train and it's moving rather fast...

I'm now moving right along in my internship with College Prowler,which I love, as I now have a designated 2 hour block every day in which to write about college life in a very structured way. It makes my creativity become a little stiffled, as I have to be weary about how I present what I write so that it doesn't contain bias, but the formula works and the time always seems to fly by.

I am also fully immersed in chapter one of my novel, and as daunting as that is, I enjoy the uncertainty of what's ahead and the freedom I have in how I present it.

As with any new adventure though, there is quite a bit of fear and intimidation involved. I have always been a pretty good communicator when it comes to the written language (although grammar has never been worth the effort to me, at least for this venue) yet, I find it hard to explain the depth of what really happened to us.

I sat down on Saturday and wrote every aspect, every detail, every little thing that I could remember of your last few days here... and though doing so came with plenty of tissues, tears, and loud music in my headphones- it was the most therapeutic thing I could have done.

I knew I needed to get started somehow and as much as I dreaded it I had to get the hardest part over with first. When I reflect now a few days later on what I wrote I still feel as though something is missing, as though I said what happened, but not what it felt like.

Sure, when I was done writing I wasn't in the most cheerful mood, as I suppose is to be expected after someone just forces themselves to relive the hardest part of their life, but the result of the day was quite unexpected.

I never expected this novel to be easy to write... but, I guess a piece of me believed it wouldn't hurt this much. I mean I have told your story plenty of times to friends, teachers, and anyone who watched my State Championship speech last year- so retelling the story one more time should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. So so wrong.

Even to this day, I still haven't quite figured out how to respond when new friends ask: So where do your parents live?

It should be a simple answer right? Wrong again.
If I answer " Oh my dad lives..."
                       then they ask "And what about your mom?"
No matter what I say, it always ends in a horrible " she passed away" line in which the person asking the question immediately burst out an "I'm sorry"...which always makes me feel guilty for bringing it up.

That has to have been the hardest realization thus far, that now that you're really gone there is no hidding from it, its a part of me now, it's a question that will always have to be answered, and its a book that will always have to be written.

So, I guess what all this rambling is really getting at is that I learned this week that this book is going to be hard,it's going to be a test of perserverance and strength, it will require me to tell the truth, and all of the truth: the good and the ugly...

                                        but, even though this adventure I'm on is guaranteed not to be a walk in the park, there is a need for honesty.
Your story Mom... I believe it's worth something that goes far beyond our family, far beyond my circle of friends...
 I believe your love, strength, and tenacity holds a place in the hearts of anyone who is willing to take the time to listen.

We have all grown. We have all learned at a deeper level what it really means to love, what it really means to support, and what it really means to continue on. We, as a family, have become better because of this experience and I believe that everyone who takes the time to read this novel can relate, can learn, and can grow from our experience in one way or another.

This is just another time where I realize: the heartache that will come in retelling this story, is a small price to pay for the lives that will be changed by the love that is shared within the pages of this hope-to-be book of mine...
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Forgetting the purpose behind it all

    Lately I have been feeling this hole somewhere in myself. This void that just appeared out of no where...and I just discovered, while reading a friend's blog, what it was. I have been void of my inspiration to blog.

  I've never had issues figuring out what to write about, Mom, because I know the reason why I write. I write to make myself feel whole again. I write to stay invisibly connected to you.

    I write to regain some piece of you that I lost amongst the "healing and moving forth process." My own mind, to protect itself, temporarily forgot experiences we've had together...because if I remembered them all  I don't think I could find any peace. The one thing I just realized though is by protecting myself and learning how to continue on without you, I  have somehow shut myself off to the lessons that can be learned and the pieces of my heart that can be healed by remembering.

Mom, the reason why I had temporarily lost my inspiration to write was because I turned this into a homework assignment. You see, I'm in a class here that is titled "How to write a novel" and our homework assignment was to either create a blog on the topic we wanted our book to be based on, or  to keep writing about our topic on a blog.

 Mom, I want to write about us.

I want to write about you and your story and how your story affected our family, affected me. I want to write about how we became a closer,stronger, more loving family because of our hardships.

 A story about a Moya Moya patient whose surgery failed her. Not just about the disease, but about the beautiful women that suddenly found  herself trapped behind the disease... and how her family learned and grew with her.

I want to write about the days of:

Spaghetti O's and grilled cheese
                 paper airplanes aimed at the laundry basket you carried
the yellow and blue checkered dresses for picture day
                    the days of you watching me at physical therapy
cooking one of dad's favorite meals, Salisbury steak
                 dad bringing you home flowers just because
watching three movies you said Shelby and I had to see: Flash Dance, The Notebook, and Breakfast at Tiffany's
               transferring the laundry pile that was in the dryer onto the couch in front of the TV--so you could multitask
                    Everyday at noon catching you home from work with your lunch
                                                                and cherry Pepsi with ice watching All My Children.

              I want to write about the life that came before the illness, and the growth that came after...

 I want to write about the love.

Mom, I have found my focus. I have remembered my inspiration.
                         Inspiration comes from our life as SB squared, my inspiration comes from you.

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Friday, January 13, 2012

"I can't take one more sleepless night without you"

Two songs that I have been listening to on repeat the last few days, both done on FOX Glee. They just sums things up a lot, and even though the two songs don't pertain to any situation lately, they have pertained a little bit in the past. Both songs, in the end, give me a positive outlook on life and the things that go on each day.
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I wont give up- Jason Mraz

   Although this song is probably not about a mother-daughter relationship, every time I listen I think of Shelby and I and our relationship with you. You never gave up on us and we never gave up on you....yet at the same time, you knew that we needed time to learn who we were- apart from you.

Thank you for being our Mom.

Love always and Forever
Your daughter,

A new year, and the motivation to continue.

     I know it has been a while since I have written here, but I really felt it neccessary to share this story with you. Last night I had a dream that I was talking with you about my goals and why, though completely frightened by failure, I will pursue my life long dreams of going to Graduate school, visiting New York City, and publishing a novel.

    I don't remember much of the dream, but I do remember one paragraph, which I have decided to use as my motivation for the year of 2012. Here it is (poor grammar and all) :
"I have fallen.scrapped.cut.bruised. I have endured surgery.physical therapy and stationary bikes. I have gone through orthopedic braces. walkers. crutches and canes. I have done all this, and yet I have never failed to find a reason to pick myself off the ground and continue... So why am I allowing myself to start now? Why should I diminish my prior accomplishments and believe they can never compare to the dreams I wish to pursue today? If I can accomplish all that I have in regards to my Cerebral Palsy than it is possible for me  to go to New York, get into grad school, and publish a novel. If I can continue to conquer my disability, I can continue to conquer my dreams. I will do it."
Though after waking up I still am completely afraid of the uncertainty that lies in my future, this is my motivation. I will be the person I wish to become. I will stop at nothing to make my dreams become my reality. I will focus on doing what you, Dad, and Shelby have taught me- I will continue to never give up on myself.

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,