Back at it!

Fact: everyone gets sad. 

Fact: much of our happiness is dependent on personal choice.

And for the past few months, I wasn’t making the right choice. It was really weird, actually, because if you know me (and if you read my blog, you definitely know) that I often like to imagine the world laced in rainbows. But November through February unveiled a part of life that was much more twisted and dark than I had ever seen.

I felt squashed. Squeezed. Suppressed. I took a hit from every side. Everything I was trying to hold on to was slipping through my fingers. Especially my hopes for the future. My dreams were quelled by– dare I say it– reality. I stepped into the role of a student teacher and realized, hey, I’m graduating college in four months.

Oh.

Graduating, to me, didn’t feel like my release into the world. It felt like a trap. Like life was prodding me into a wall, laughing and telling me what I had to do to be a responsible adult. And of course, it still partially feels that way. But for a few months, I let that get to me a whole lot. I was falling into the strings of normalcy that I have always vehemently opposed.

You know what, though? There is only so long a person can sulk before a decision has to be made. Am I going to stay solemn and passive, or am I going to toughen up and start forcing my way to where I want to be?

I’ll be honest: I chose passivity.

I’m afraid I would’ve stayed passive and average had DoSomething.org not jolted me. It slapped me across the face, actually. It said, “Seriously, Mol? You’re going to just give up? When have you ever done that?” I knew it was right.

On a day I was feeling particularly melancholy, I decided to browse Twitter. DoSomething tweeted a link to a posting of their summer internships. As I clicked it and scrolled down the page, I drew in a sharp breath. Right before my eyes was the *writing* internship of my dreams for an organization I sincerely care about. I burst into tears as I rediscovered opportunity and possibility, and more importantly– my fire.

I became obsessed with this internship. Not only was I signing up for things right and left to bolster my resume, but I was also smiling again. Really smiling. I greeted each morning with gratefulness (okay, and groggy crabbiness, but you guys know I’m a night owl). I began filtering the world and my every day experiences for possibilities again. DoSomething was a huge part in reigniting the fire inside of me I was so sure I had lost.

Remembering that my life isn’t really for me or about me– it is for serving others and for submitting to God’s plan– was so important in choosing happiness. It’s not about me or my dissatisfaction; there’s a whole world out there that could really use whatever help I can give. From-- http://indulgy.com/post/hDo9hbcqs1/be-strong

The point is, I went from very down to very up in a few months. Let me tell you something about the down: it’s not worth it. Sure, be sad for a while about something, but at some point your happiness becomes your own responsibility. We are all human, and we are all going to face challenges. But, we must face them with the knowledge that courage must trail closely behind.

The other point is, look for things that make you feel alive. Don’t settle into the trap of reality. Of course, we all have responsibilities. We all have things we have to do. My advice is this: find something that sets you on fire (not literally). Those responsibilities will feel like opportunities floating down in little boxes from the heavens. Those things you have to do will become the things you constantly think about and WANT to do.

My suffering was necessary. I realized just how important fire is in my life. How important liveliness and passion is. Having nothing forced me to create and discover what I was missing.

Thank you to everyone who lifted me up during those times. You know I will always do the same for you.

My First Bucket List: Here’s to Living!

Forever. That’s how long I’ve been away from this blog. My apologies, good people.

I’ve been busier than I think I’ve ever been these past few weeks; I just began my final year of college and have had to really crack down. I’m pursuing a degree in Secondary Education for English, so this semester I’m also involved in a field-experience practicum (one step down from student teaching). So, I get to be a part of a classroom community just a few miles away from where I live. Exciting stuff! For one of the assignments my class is working on, the students have to come up with 30 things they want to do before they’re 30. Since modeling is such an integral part of teaching, I had to create my own list.

Now, I’ve never really had a bucket list before. And that might surprise you. I keep ideas here and there of things I’d love to do, but I don’t have an organized, official list. Well, at least, I didn’t before this assignment. Without further ado… I had plenty more than 30 to write about, but I had to choose! Here is a first draft 🙂

Thirty by Thirty

  • Write and publish a book
  • Perform a slam poetry piece
  • Backpack through Europe
  • Finish my degree
  • See my best friend again
  • Fly a plane
  • Ride a segway
  • Go to HP World!
  • Go to a Goo Goo Dolls concert
  • Go longboarding down Venice Beach Boardwalk
  • Do space simulations and artificial gravity/go to space
  • Learn to shoot bow & arrow
  • Get my boater’s license
  • Hang-glide in New Zealand
  • Be a movie extra
  • Meet Ellen Degeneres or Conan O’Brien
  • Have coffee with Scooter and/or Adam Braun
  • See Newsies and Les Miserables on Broadway
  • Watch all the Harry Potter movies in one day
  • Stay at an underwater resort
  • Go to a taping of Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  • Be in the middle of a gospel choir
  • Take a picture of a leap in every state
  • Go zorbing
  • Read 52 books in 52 weeks
  • Be a motivational speaker somewhere
  • Spend a day with a person who is homeless
  • Get involved with Pencils of Promise
  • Live in San Diego and/or Seattle
  • Climb a mountain

Let the adventures begin, my friends.

What Death Does

“Mom, tell Molly I love her. Tell her to NEVER EVER EVER give up on her dreams. Tell her to keep going and that she can do it.”

The ocean is a big place: especially at night. My best friend Jacklyn discovered this the hard way. She and one of her friends had kayaked out a little too far off the coast, and were terrified they wouldn’t see the next morning.  It was nighttime. How do you find your way back when you’re surrounded by black sky and black water? Who would be there to save them if they fell in or got lost? Dozens of eels had appeared around their kayak already… who’s to say there weren’t other creatures lurking around? What if one of those creatures tipped them over? They were miles from shore. It would take them hours to find their way back. Luckily, Jacklyn had her phone, and the first people she called were her parents. I was shocked to find out that one of the things she felt so desperate to tell her parents had to do with me and my dreams (quote above).

Sometimes reality drops in like a wind– a gentle reminder of something you should already know. Other times, it charges at you– a bull with no intention of stopping.  I was blessed enough to receive a phone call from Jacklyn that night. Thankfully, she had made it back safely. Her voice was hurried and a few tones lower than normal. She explained her fear, but she also explained some revelations. She had never truly felt like she was near the end of her life before; that night, she was fully convinced that it could be over in a matter of seconds. She had been so inspired and overwhelmed by the thought of life once her own was in jeopardy. We are dreamers, yes, but we struggle with staying consistently focused. We both tend to get lost in life and its inevitable busyness. That night, something changed for her. A sharp reality check helped her realize that if she were going to die, she wouldn’t be afraid (because of her faith), but she wouldn’t be ready because there’s so much she hasn’t done yet, and so many people she hasn’t met or helped yet. She discovered that we MUST stay focused.

I have to admit I feel the very same way.  Reality’s horns were jabbing me right and left all through the phone call.

On a related note: over the past week, my friends have lost some very dear friends. People with whom they were very close died some brutal deaths. It’s sad when anyone of any age dies, but they were just so young. And none of them could’ve predicted or controlled how they went. That scares me; but, it also motivates me. I know I’m not done yet. I know that I can have an adventurous, full life if I choose to. My time could be up tomorrow. It could be up tonight. All I know is that if I live 70 more years and I haven’t chased my dreams, I might as well have died tonight. (That sounds really dramatic. But I guess the subject sort of is, anyway.) Those friends hardly had the chance to begin their adult lives; they hardly had enough time to wrap their fingers around their dreams. Why should I wait any longer to do what I feel destined to do? No one needs to wait even one second when considering following dreams or helping others.

Life is much like that ocean. Sometimes we get a little lost in it. It’s beautiful but it can be scary, and hopefully, its uncertainty can help us sort out our priorities (I typed that in Ron Weasely’s voice… I just ruined the moment). We need to recognize how short our time is, and we need to act upon whatever it is we feel called to do. No more waiting allowed. What if those had been Jacklyn’s last words? What would your last words be?

I would think mine would be something like this:

NEVER SETTLE. GIVE. REACH. Let’s go.

Revelations (Part II of Who I am. Why I am.)

Alright, I still have a lot of explaining to do. In my second post, I talked about my best friend and I going to a rather life-changing concert. If you need to refer to that first, please feel free.

Anyway, after the concert, I felt like a new lens had been placed over everything I saw. I felt like I was on one of those Claritin commercials where the little strip gets pulled off out of the corner of the screen and suddenly everything is really clear. I had a clarifying Claritin moment. Suddenly I wanted to change everything. I wanted to touch everything around me and change it. I wanted to touch abstract thoughts and twist them up into little knots of ideas.  I had felt the sincerest form of kindness radiate out of a person (in this particular instance, Alfredo Flores’), and I wanted to pay that forward. At that moment, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life making others feel that way.

Secondly, I felt like I was fulfilling some kind of step in the path I’m on. I felt like I was supposed to go to that concert, and I was supposed to meet Alfredo, and I was supposed to have a Claritin moment. It all felt like I was picking up a line of figurative Cheerios one by one until I was led to something. I thought my journey of pivotal moments was over by then. I mean, what else could have been more influential than that?

Well, I found out. Jacklyn was trying out for The Voice in Chicago (she didn’t make it all the way through, but she got darn close! And has the voice of a sugary angel, I might add), so I decided to go with her. Our pivotal/Claritin moment from the concert had inspired her to move to Seattle to pursue her musical, world-changer dreams, so spending some time together in Chicago was our last hurrah before she left.

We thought we’d be spending our time on the Mag Mile, in that shop-til-you-drop fashion. Instead, we ended up sitting on the cold, January concrete with some people who were homeless. I literally cannot explain how it changed my life on this blog. In fact, I’m writing a book about it at the moment, which will be named something like Homeless or something more creative when I get the chance. There’s probably a book out there by that name already anyway.

Regardless, the concert gave me the notion that I’d be spending my life making people happy, and the trip to Chicago opened my eyes to which people that would be. The people I met were so beautiful inside and out, and had such heart-wrenching stories. It’s crazy how numb we are to those who are homeless or in need. I think sometimes we forget how human we all are. For example, there was Yvette. She was the first person I really talked to. As I got to know her a little more (after her tears dried), I found out that her one true vice was chocolate. She LOVED it and always chose it when we’d offer something to her. It was so adorable how her mood completely flipped when it was an option. I remember thinking that THAT’S how she really was; her true personality came out for that moment, and it was beautiful. Because she had fallen on hard times, that part of her was rarely unharnessed. I want to and will spend my life working to lift people up who have been shoved down.

I think the world is beautiful, but I think we mistreat it. I think everyone is a success story waiting to happen, but sometimes people need a push or some encouragement. I think there’s a lot of unnecessary negativity, but if we all give a little positivity, that can change. I think everyone deserves an equal opportunity, and I’d love to give it (ever heard of Pencils of Promise? CHECK IT OUT. That’s mostly what I’m talking about here… I’m also an English Education Major, so maybe that’s just me nerding out– I don’t know). I want to help change the world. Not in some narcissistic way; in fact, if I could stay in the background for my whole life, I’d really rather do it that way. I don’t need to be seen; I just need to do what I’m supposed to do. The way I see it, I was placed in this time in the history of humankind, and it would be a dishonor to my life to remain unresponsive to my calling. I have a responsibility. I want to help people. I want to hand out smiles. I want to bring a new perspective to others– to give them their own Claritin moment.

Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

How do you deal with losing someone?

That’s a question I’ve thought about for a long time. I’ve lost a considerable amount of people in my life, ranging from actual death to simply drifting apart, just as many people have. For as often as it happens, I would think I’d be at least somewhat used to it by now. I’m not.

Two posts ago, I mentioned that I went to the concert with one of my best friends. Well, it turns out that the experience didn’t just spark my dreams, it set hers on fire too. It was only about a month or so after the concert that she called me and said she was taking the next plane out to Seattle. The concert was in October and she left in January.

Cue cheesiness: that girl is my best friend. We have a connection like no other connection I’ve had with a human being. I call her my soul friend (kind of like soulmate, except without the love part). It’s not easy trying to conceal how sad I get sometimes. We used to do the craziest, most ridiculous things. I miss it so much.  I miss when we would go buy kids’ shirts at Walmart and wear them because they had Transformers on them. I miss talking like Dr. Evil. I miss the time we spent in Disney together. I miss the spiritual bond we had (we still have that, but conversations are just so different over the phone…). I miss the endless conversations that only paused because we fell asleep. I miss conversations in my living room by the Christmas tree.

It’s funny how such simple things which hold little significance suddenly become the most important things in your life after you’ve experienced them with someone you love.  Some days it’s hard to walk past the living room and not imagine the two ghosts of us talking, laughing, crying, listening to music, and singing. Sometimes I don’t like to be reminded of her because, even though it starts out warm and nostalgic, it quickly turns into that weighted-stomach feeling.

How do you get over that? We are on opposite ends of the country. Who knows when we will see each other again. I’m so afraid of drifting apart. It’s been 7 months since she left, and I can only imagine the next 7 are going to go just as quickly.

People are hard to forget, I think. They come into our lives, change everything, then leave, and we are left holding the beautiful masterpiece of friendship they helped us paint. Do you hang that painting in the hallway and remember it with the first warm, then weighted-stomach feeling, or do you hide it in the storage room until you need to be reminded that whatever once was, really once was?

I really think only she understands a certain part of me. Do you have one person who you can talk to like no one else? A person who turns every day around for the better? A person who makes you smile no matter what? When that person is taken away, your whole life changes. I’m sure some of you know what I mean.

We’ll be okay. We’re on a crazy journey together, yet separate. We’ll never be anything but best friends. I just wish distance didn’t have to be so greedy.