Learning How To Live, Love and Pursue Happiness: Letter To My Younger Self

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I couldn’t be more grateful for all that life has taught, and boy has there been some lessons. At 26, I’m basically a grandmother of twenty somethings, and although 30-something year old Hope will teach me a thing or two today, I think I have some pretty good hindsight advice for the girl who lived a decade before me. If I could go back in time and give myself just a few of the many life lessons that I desperately needed (or to anyone who may catch a glimpse of this), they would be something along the lines of said letter, below.

Oh, dear and sweet crazy younger me:

You are incredible. Truly. I know your world is crazy and intense and consistently spinning off its axis at any moment, however, hold tight – there is so much ahead of you, and so many things that I know will make it easier. The good thing is that you’re a good listener. You take advice and you soak it in and you’re eager for someone to show you what the right way is. However, if there is anything I can share with you from this end of our life it would be the following (in a nutshell, of course):

  1. FIRST AND FOREMOST – You are worthy. Of respect. Of love. Of confidence. Live that way, and be selective. Even if only because you can, not because you think it’ll keep them chasing you. The guy who is showing you a little attention right now… girl, grody. You’ll be over it soon enough but really and truly, just trust me when I say it doesn’t end good and it is sooooo not worth it. Do yourself a favor and walk away now. You won’t even remember his name later in life, and when you do you’ll throw up in your mouth a little bit.
  1. IT IS SO NOT THAT DEEP. Just take it down a notch with all that unnecessary anxiety over your future. I know it is so unknown and so scary and so ‘what if’, but all of that pressure that you put on yourself to achieve perfection is not only impossible, but also really exhausting. I won’t say that it’ll get easier with all the unknowns, Cus well, ask me now if I’m good at it… but I will say that you will get better at trusting that God knows what He’s doing. Promise.

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  1. THIS IS A TWO PARTER… Your whole entire being revolves around the inner workings of your small town, upcoming sporting events, friend circle drama, and weekend plans. Live in that season. Don’t rush it. Even next year, when you’re ready to throw it to the wind and get to college… enjoy being a teenager and not having the responsibility of an adult. Trust me – it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t need to know all the details of everything you’re doing in your entire life right this second. When you go to Europe – soak it in. When you travel with your family – be present. When you run around TP-ing the neighborhood – be better at not getting caught.

HOWEVER, although your whole entire being revolves around you right now… I know it’s hard to believe but you will barely even remember those tiny little details of high school that are stressing you out to the max right now. Not because HS isn’t great but because everything else is that much better. The world is so much bigger than your little town. Just you wait. And when you get to that season… soak it in, too. It’s gonna be awesome. So do me a favor – stop rushing away your life and relax.

  1. BE AWARE OF OTHERS. Always. I know sometimes you’re scared of rejection so you act all super cool, but here is a secret for you: You’re all insecure, you’re all nervous, you’re all trying to find your way. Eventually you’re all gonna look at each other’s lives and realize you’re the same. So look at those people now and embrace your likeness and differences. It’ll make it all so much better.
  1. FORGIVE QUICKLY. There are so many things that I know suck. They aren’t fair and you have no control over them. And you know what, over the next 10 years there will be some even worse hurt and pain, and you won’t be able to control that either. People are people and they will always make mistakes. But let me help you with something – keeping it inside for the next 10 years is gonna make for a real heavy clean up. Which brings me to the next one…

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  1. LEARN TO CRY. Girrrllll – Learn. To. Cry. Don’t ALWAYS guard. It will help you process life’s hard moments. Process them and then walk away. Again with the cleanup. I know you’re getting good at being the strong one, but dang girl, it gets heavy in there. And then when you finally break down you ugly cry for like a bunch of hours and then your face is all red and puffy, and well that’s just not a good look on anyone. And it’s unnecessary.

In the end, it’s rare that you won’t know what the right thing to do is. The challenge will be – having the courage to do it. So stay honest (at least you’re getting something right), and make the hard choices. They pay off. Oh ya, and all those crazy midnight shenanigans that you and your best friend swear to take to the grave with you… keep ‘em up – they will provide you with great laughter long into your future.

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Kitchen Chronicles: My Everest

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Upon my return to America I decided it was basically detrimental to my sanity to fill my new life – full of structure and routine – with a couple of things to conquer. Nothing better to fill up time then with a little challenge.

So eventually, I finally buckled down and had a hard hitting conversation with myself. I said, “Self, you really should get your life together and figure something out in the kitchen because right now you’re standing on the whole chicken with a big butt fiasco and well, it’s a little embarrassing.”

And myself agreed. So here I am, three years later, ready to document my failures and successes. Let’s do this.

My first conquest upon returning to America was the gym: because well, 2 years of rice and beans had not done me good. So, there’s that.

P.S. I had this great idea to record the journey of conquering the gym with photos and inspirational messages throughout my ups and downs of muscle gaining and fat burning. Ya, that didn’t happen. I quickly realized that I’m totally not secure enough and pretty much thought I may make it through like three weeks before I just called it a day. However, 16-ish weeks later I’m on a roll and thoroughly enjoy finding some “woo-sa” time throughout the week. More on this later. It’s good stuff.photo4

So anywho, currently I feel like what better way to compliment my new healthy lifestyle then by conquering the hardest, and most intimidating/overwhelming challenge of my life.

The kitchen.

Sigh… my Everest.

I can’t quite pinpoint why, but it’s so terrifying to me. I can stand toe to toe with a 6’ 5” Haitian guard on market day, dodging loads of rice and chickens on wheel barrows, and argue in another language about why he won’t let my friends with work visas cross the river; but give me more spices than salt and pepper and I will buckle I tell you. Fear of failure doesn’t even begin to describe.

Ever since I was a little girl I was always the one to volunteer to peel the potatoes when my sisters were learning to gourmet the simplest of dinners. It gives me anxiety when people say things like “just put whatever marinade you might think would pair nicely with that raw, disgusting, chicken breast.” (or something like that.) And I’m all like, “first of all, gross, and second of all, what is a marinade, and third of all how the heck am I supposed to just ‘might think’ what might pair nicely?”

However, what I lack in passion or desire I make up for in determination. Or just desperation. Interchangeable. BUT I NEED HELP, PEOPLE!!!

I just don’t get it. And I’m a visual learner so most recipes don’t help much because all the terms are a little general, and across the board simply unfair if I do say so myself. How do you marinate? What is a “poach”? If it says “a pinch…” how do you know if your pinch is the same pinch as the chef? I already had to learn the hard way the difference in a “bulb” and “clove”… ya, it wasn’t pretty. Read here.

My current situation basically consists along the lines of Tyson Ready chicken in a bag, eggs (basic American staple), and cottage cheese. I know, I know. Just give me grace in this moment.

I need suggestions – tips, beginner meals, etc… okay, “meals” may be used loosely here because that’s another scary thing is multi-task cooking between different dishes all at once. I just think I’m gonna ruin it all. That is why I initially went for a crock pot. But, it’s been a few years. I’m ready to conquer. Plus, starting small may boost my ego and give me a little confidence in the whole process. Advice/tips/tricks below, please!!

Learning to Listen

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I was woken up this morning by a brown foot kicking me in the face and two others running in to beg for more Nemo on the laptop. I love these morning. I’m sitting on this Saturday, thinking about life. About sacrifice. About uncertainty of the future and trusting in God’s promises that come from obedience.

I cannot speak to what the future holds, but I do know what God is doing right now. And I am choosing to hold onto to that.

My life… so far… is a story about change, mostly. About the adventures of steering through my twenties learning, loving, forgiving and growing up. Learning to adjust. Learning to dance in the storm. Learning to continuously look for the rainbow. To continuously keep my heart tender toward humanity.

During this chapter, in Haiti, it’s about learning to hear God. Just to listen to the things that He has to say about the world. He was saying all the same things in Florida. But there I just listen differently. Distractions are more apparent.

When you’re in a place where God’s provision is the only resource, His voice seems louder, but really it’s the same steady voice – small and still – and the more I am learning to listen, the more I want to be silent so that I can hear.

I’m learning to see people for people. To look for their story. To find the beauty that Haitians see everyday within their indescribable surroundings. To understand their personalities. Not as just a taxi driver, or hair lady or waitress. But as specific people. Living life. Trying to figure out tomorrow, just like me.

Look around you today and find God in a few areas – His beauty, His grace, His provision. Be grateful for those things and I guarantee you it will make you smile a little bit more. And in the mists of your crazy worlds, stop and listen. You may be shocked at what you hear.

Have a great Saturday, folks! XOXO