To my Rho sisters

My heart is aching for the girls of Chi Omega at Tulane. Earlier this weekend, one of their members took her own life. I don’t know the details and I don’t know the story, but I understand their pain and sorrow and grief because I remember how it feels to be caught in the confusion and chaos that a death like this causes.

It hurts to know that a young woman, a sister, who spoke the same oath as me at every meeting, who memorized the Chi Omega Symphony and must have heard/spoke/seen “To be womanly always, to be discouraged never” at least a million times, felt a hopelessness so deep, so dark. It hurts to know that there are other young women, sisters, left behind who are broken and confused, and way too young to have to deal with the heaviness of death.

So to my Rho sisters, I know I don’t know you, but I hope you can find comfort and courage in this advice. Losing Keller took a lot of things away from me, but the process of dealing with it is has given me a few things as well.

Lean on each other. Cry with each other. Times will get blurry over the next few weeks, but that’s okay – you’ll remember the important things. Pray, even if it’s not to anyone/anything in particular. Saying the words out loud will help you process your feelings. Don’t try and find answers, because we’re not meant to know them right now. Hold each other accountable and make sure that no one is dealing with this on their own. Remember her in the good times and the bad, the funny times, the embarrassing times, the drunken memories, all of it. Talk about those memories and when the time feels right, laugh about those memories. Laughter will become sweet medicine. Save pictures of her – seeing her face will hurt at the beginning, but it will become a comforting reminder of precious friend in time. Stay in touch with her parents. Let them know that she is still a part of your life and Chi Omega, and that she is always loved and always remembered. Celebrate her. Celebrate her life and her joy and her light. Celebrate her birthday each year. Celebrate how Chi Omega brought you together. Do not let the circumstances change the way you see her. Grieve for her and mourn for her and miss her as much as you need to, but don’t forget to celebrate her. By choosing to see the seemingly absent light on the horizon, you will lift each other up and together, you will get through this. You will never move on or leave her behind, but you can help each other move forward.

You will be okay. You will always miss and love her, but you will be okay. You will have some hard times and some long nights that seem never-ending, but you will be okay. I promise.

In love.

A Grateful Heart

On top of being a Monday, yesterday was one of those days when nothing goes right and everything goes wrong. By no means was my world ending, but there were so many little things adding up that by the time I left Walmart after a full day of work, all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and never come out.

What was so wrong, you ask? What do I start with.. The bagel I dropped cream cheese side down in my car pulling away from CC’s (which I only bought because the banana I had been saving at home went bad). My gorgeous antique garnet ring with one missing stone (that I spent my entire lunch break combing the carpet of my room looking for). The oversized and overpriced umbrella I went back inside to purchase after I had picked up groceries because I was wearing a white shirt and there was a downpour (by the time I got back outside the rain had stopped).

Basically, I felt like the world’s punching bag today.

IMG_5583So no, I was not in a very optimistic mood about anything. And when this quote popped in my head, I laughed. Cynically. The last thing I wanted to do was have a grateful heart. How could I after a day like that? Then slowly but surely.. I found myself realizing the novelty of my worries.

No matter what’s going on, I live a pretty charmed life and I am very blessed. My parents work hard to provide everything I need, I have sweet friends who know me better than I know myself, and I have been given countless opportunities that have helped me grow and figure out what I’m passionate about.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the day-in and day-out constant flow of life that I forget all I have to be thankful for. I think that happens to all of us at one time or another. But how refreshing is it when we sit back and realize all that we have? Seriously.. try it for a second. I promise you won’t regret it.

I’m grateful I had enough time to pick up another bagel. I’m grateful to even own a beautiful antique ring. I’m grateful I can afford to buy an umbrella just because it’s raining and I left mine in the car.

I am happy. I am healthy. I am taken care of. I am blessed. And I will strive to keep a grateful heart, no matter the circumstances, because there is so much to be grateful for. 

April showers

I’m pretty sure everyone knows the saying “April showers bring May flowers,” (and the joke that usually follows about Pilgrims). And I’m also pretty sure that saying is supposed to signify hope, new growth, all of that kind of stuff. But to me, that’s all April has really become… Showers. Rain. Thunderstorms. The kind of gray and miserable weather that makes you want to lie in bed all day because the outside world is just a little too messy to deal with.

It’s sad actually, because spring has always been my favorite season. It still is in a way, just not the month of April. My heart aches when this month comes around. When I wrote March 31 on a test yesterday, the reminder that April was just around the corner hit me out of no where and left me gasping for air.

Back in February I wrote about remembering the good memories, and not letting the bad ones dominate my thoughts. Most of the time I can remind myself of this and be okay, but springtime is always difficult. I remember specific dates and occasions long after they pass, which is both good and bad. I remember the date of the last time we drove home together, the last time we went to mass, the last picture I took of him. Then there comes that big looming date that I wish I could scratch off the calendar permanently- April 21.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that April 21, 2012 was an unseasonably cold day in Louisiana with gray skies and a rainy drizzle for most of the morning. In typical Louisiana fashion, the afternoon turned muggy and the air was thick. I remember the way my flip flops were stuck to my feet with condensation when I walked from Miller to Herget before we knew what had happened. I remember the way my jeans felt glued to my skin as I sat on the tile floor of the police station, alone, waiting for one of the older Chi O’s to come get me. I remember the way I played with my favorite long gold necklace instead of answering her questions about what was going on, because I knew the second I actually said it out loud myself that it would be all too real for me.

I remember everything, and that’s what makes the month of April hurt so badly.

This is one of the quotes that I have written on a sticky note on my mirror to remind me every morning that I’m not alone in my memories. Especially during April and especially when I’m remembering these tough dates, the Lord remembers with me. And that kind of reassurance that He is close to the brokenhearted is so comforting. Somehow, someway, just like the May flowers, I’m holding out hope that my April showers will bring something beautiful in time.

Some of us remember quietly; some of us are a bit louder. Some of us remember every date of every sorrow every time it comes around; some of us mark time not by days but by how much less it hurts this year than the one before.

And it’s okay. It’s all okay. We all hurt in different ways, and we all remember in different ways. And what makes sense to me might be a mystery to you. But that’s okay.

Because, see, no matter how we choose to remember the painful events that shape us, God remembers right along with us.

He remembers when it happened and how you felt and why you cried. He remembers in the quiet of the evening and when you see the date on your phone and when someone mentions her name. He remembers when you walk to his grave and when you drive down that street and when the flags dip low.

He remembers.

http://www.incourage.me/2013/09/he-remembers.html

Do what makes you come alive

A few weeks ago, someone I really respect told me that he thought I was “meant to help people.” Those words are kind of heavy. And by kind of I mean really. Maybe I took it way to seriously… but I’ve really had to think over them, and I’m still not any closer to figuring out what that means for me, for my life or for my future.

As heavy as that statement is, it holds so much possibility. It makes me think of a million doors that I can choose to go through. Every so often I get caught up thinking that everything is planned out for me, that I just have to ride the waves and eventually the tide will take me I’ll to where I’m supposed to be. I do believe that my future is in the Lord’s hands, don’t get me wrong. But I’m realizing I have the freedom to make my own choices. Any moment I can choose another path.

Being a junior in college is terrifying. You’re still in school, but daily you get questions about what you want to do with your life. It’s the awkward in-between when you’re perfecting resumes and going to career fairs by day and trying to be a carefree college kid by night. The thought of graduating makes me feel like that lost little kid in the grocery store. And I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

At the end of that day, wherever I am, whoever I’m with and whatever I’m doing, I want to be able to say that I have a passion for the things in my life and a passion for living my life. Even when life’s not easy. To me, being passionate means that you are living for something- whether it’s a person or a cause or a belief.

And honestly, there is nothing more important to me than having a reason to be alive and knowing what makes you get out of bed every morning.

 

So here’s to having the courage to make our own choices, the strength to swim against the tide and the confidence to find the passions in life that make us come alive. 

Meet Abby and GOTR Part 2

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Just a little 2011 LSU football throwback.

This is Abby. During my freshman year we had our very first Mass Comm class together, and the rest is history. Countless shared classes, borrowed dresses and mistaken identities (can you see the resemblance?) have defined the past three years for us.

Remember those sweet friends I talked about in my last post? I’m lucky to say that she is one of them. This girl encourages me to say the stuff that isn’t always the easiest (like my suicide awareness speech) and has always looked out for me like an older sister. And this spring, I’m excited to say that together we will be coaching a Girls on the Run team at St. Aloysius!

For those of you who don’t know, last fall my Public Relations Writing class paired up with GOTR for our semester project. Getting to see this amazing organization from an outsider’s perspective was incredible. I got to watch the girls grow as runners and mature through their weekly lessons, and also see the ways that their coaches influenced them. They even taught me a few things about myself. It’s a little scary to think that I’ll be the one they are looking at next week.. but I wouldn’t rather have anyone besides Abby by my side! She put it well when she said “I’m so excited to start this semester being role models for these girls. But I think we’re both going to learn more from them than they learn from us and I can’t wait.”

If you’re interested in coaching a GOTR team or getting involved with their 5k in May (so fun and SO much pink!) check out the Girls on the Run of South Louisiana website and the GOTR Facebook page for more info.

Finding beauty in the memories

I love words. I love the way that stringing them together can give you goosebumps. I love other people’s words. We create communities in this world because we are striving to learn from other people. By reading what other people write, I get to know them better and I get to connect to them in a deeper way. If you open my planner the first two pages are filled with quotes written on sticky notes. From Plato to Winnie the Pooh, I’ve got it all. If it inspires me, if it gives me goosebumps, I add it to my collection. Reading these sticky notes day in and day out constantly remind me of the truths and lessons that I can learn from other people. Here’s one of my favorites, written by Jamie Tworkowski.

“I hope that there is beauty in your memories and I hope that it doesn’t haunt you…” 

The start of the new year and the beginning of spring is always a hard time for me. My mind races through memories of Keller and I’s last moments. There are a lot of good moments. A lot of wonderful, joyful memories that lift me up never fail to make me smile when I remember them. But there are bad ones too. A lot less bad ones, but some days they are the more prevalent ones. This quote by the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms reminds me to find the beauty in my memories.  It reminds me that there actually is beauty in my memories. It reminds me to hold on to this beauty. It reminds me to not be afraid of the bad memories. And it reminds me that I don’t have to let my memories haunt me.

“…If it does, then I hope there is someone who will talk you through the night and remind you of the promise of the sunrise, that beauty keeps coming, that there are futures worth waiting for and fighting for and that you were made to dream.”

And this part of the quote reminds me of my amazing friends. Of the people who sat by my side that Sunday afternoon at the Sigma Chi house, and the people who stayed up all night with me because I couldn’t sleep until my mom was with me. My childhood friend turned college roommate who drove 8 hours to Atlanta just to hug me at the funeral. My high school friends who checked in on me every day that summer. And even more, it reminds me of the friends who still sit by my side. The ones who aren’t sick of me talking about Keller and put up with me when I’m crying after a night out because I’m eating Cane’s and it makes me think of him. The ones who help me celebrate his birthday every year, and the ones who drink wine with me on the levee in April to remember how much we love him. The ones who miss him just as much as I do, even if they never knew him, because they know how much I love him.

Thankful for 10+ years of friendship with this sweet girl!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love y’all so much it hurts. And I feel lucky that Keller brought me to y’all. There is no doubt in my mind that he left me in some very capable hands.

I hope you find inspiration in this quote like I do. I hope that you choose to see the beauty in your memories, even the not so good ones. And I hope that you are blessed with friends like I have.

Patience.. In All Things

Instead of thinking about how I can make 2014 different, better, and more challenging, I’ve spent the last 8 days thinking about my hair. That’s right, I started my New Year off with a horrible haircut. One of those haircuts that just doesn’t quite look right no matter what you do to it, that leaves you wanting to either hide under a rock for 2 months. I can deal with a lot of things, but my hair has always been something I’ve never had to worry about. Now I look like Lord Farquaad (yeah.. the villain in Shrek). Seriously though- I’m not kidding, ask the only 3 people who I’ve let see it so far. 

And the only advice for a bad haircut? It will grow out. Over and over again this has come out of people’s mouths. But I want it long now and I’ll try any super hair growth shampoo or vitamin supplement. You name it and it’s already on its way from Amazon. About 6 days into this horrible haircut, I was so frustrated after my attempted styling that I started crying. Over my hair.. Yes, crying over my hair. I mean how old am I?! I got a grip, pulled myself together on my bathroom floor, and then it all clicked. 

Patience.

Hands down, without a doubt, 250 percent, my goal for 2014 is going to be patience. 

I’m still laughing at myself because it took a horrible haircut to make me realize this. I’ve never been patient. I blame it on the fact that my mind is always going 100 miles-per-hour; if you know me at all you know my brain never stops. “I know what I want and I want it now,” is a common phrase of mine. Not in the foot-stomping, temper tantrum, Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory kind of way, but in a motivational way. If I tell myself this enough, I’ll work harder and harder to get what I want. I’m realizing now that this isn’t the way God works, or really the way the world works at all.

For me, impatience leads to frustration that leads to envy that leads to a whole lot of comparison. And let me tell y’all, comparison is the thief of joy. At the end of the fall semester, a relationship I had been working at for about 6 months fell apart. In hindsight, it wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t what I needed. But at the time I had to have it. I craved it. I decided I was finally going to make another serious relationship work or I was going to end up being a cat lady in my early 20s. All of my friends were happy and in relationships and it was my turn. I wanted it and I wanted it right then and there. After a lot of tears and a lot of late nights, I found this verse.

Shoutout to my sweet friend Abbey Ferg for this beauty.

In. It’s. Time. It took awhile for me to let those 3 words sink in. Not in my time, or my 5-year plan, or even my prayers. It is so out of my hands that it actually makes me laugh to think I ever had any control. I’m just getting back to seeing the good that God does in all situations, even the bad ones.. honestly, the past 2 years have been rough. I walked away from everything and everyone for most of that time because I didn’t believe in a world where something like losing Keller was “part of the Lord’s plan.” But He was God before that, He was God through that, and He is still God. And I am so thankful for that. Funny how a bad haircut can bring it all full circle.

So this year, I’m focusing on patience. On waiting. On growing. On trusting that my life is taken care of. On stopping the comparisons. On embracing where I am instead of only focusing on where I’m going. And even on accepting my haircut… eventually. Say a prayer for me on that one.