Tuesday, December 21, 2010

There is this incredible, true story about a painting of the Virgin Mary in a home in Michigan. A woman bought the painting and hung it in her home. As soon as she hung it, there was water streaming down her wall. When she noticed it, she immediately tried to look to see where the water was coming from, since she thought it was a leak in the roof. After looking around the whole area, she could not find a source for the water other than the painting. It was coming from the Virgin Mary's eyes, as if she were crying. After that, Mary came to her in a vision and said "you all better start praying, because God is getting angry". The woman who owned the painting soon started sharing this story with the people she knew, and they all came to sit at the painting to marvel at this miracle and also pray. Now, she lets anyone who wants to see it come into her home, where her children and husband also live, so that they too can see this spectacle. A family member of mine has seen it with her own eyes! This story touches me in so many ways. First, the miracle of God's direct message to the world. Second, that He chose this average American woman and family as His outlet to the world.

There are so many times that my heart hurts for the disgusting, hurtful, selfish ways of this world and the people in it. Everyone has a personal agenda, and it seems that the moral compass of society no longer points even close to North. It seems that in the past ten years, the world has changed so much in terms of technology, materialism and ego that it is almost unrecognizable. Yes, a lot of technological advances are fun, and make life easier. But at what point do we put it aside and focus on our neighbor? God tells us that our purpose on earth is to serve others, yet all we do is focus on what others can do for us. We are all guilty of it to a certain extent, but I think it is time to put our foot down. I am tired of letting others knock me down, disrespect me and betray me in order to gain something for themselves. I want to live in a world where people care about how your day was, where people are more happy for things to happen to a friend than themselves, where people do things "just because", and not for recognition of their good deed. I am ready to take steps to put aside my own hopes, dreams and aspirations and help someone else achieve theirs. There are so many things I do wrong everyday, so many things I say wrong everyday. I don't treat people the way that they should, because when you are too nice, people take advantage of you. Maybe that is the reason for all of the selfishness, maybe that's the only way to survive in the world. I am willing to take a chance and find a way to prove otherwise. I am only one person, I have little to no impact on the world as a whole, but I do believe if one person at a time does more for others than themselves, it will be a domino effect that can change someone's perspective on the world.

As I touched on in my last post, I feel that my purpose is yet to be realized. I think about some of my natural gifts and talents, as we all were given unique gifts before we were even born. A gift of mine that I take for granted, and as a negative thing sometimes, is my gift of empathy. When someone is going through a tough time, or even has a minute problem, I take on their hurt as if it were my own. It is hard sometimes, especially in my profession, to deal with other people's emotions along with my own. I am challenging myself to start to live for others and not for myself. With this, maybe 2011 can be a stepping stone into a new way of life not just for me, but for the world at large.

Keep your faith. Know that God has a plan. Do something nice when no one notices. Smile when you walk past someone. Be nice to the checkout girl at the grocery store. Call a friend you lost touch with just to say "hi". Make today a new day, so that our tomorrow will be a better tomorrow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

This time of year is always bittersweet. It's a time for family, food and friends, yes. It is also a time to reflect on where your life has been and where you would like it to go. In all honesty, it's probably easier for one to predict the weather than to predict an entire year of their life.
What has 2010 been for me? It's been a year of healing, recovering, learning and maturing. While the journey was tough, and there was a lot of pain and hard work, 2010 was a stepping stone to the rest of my life. A life outside of overindulgence and self pity. A life outside of a man who didn't treat me well. 2010 has been the year for me, Kate. It's the very springboard that I believe I needed in order to get me to the next phase of my journey in life. This year has also been a tough year, in that I was supposed to graduate college this year and I can't help but think "what if?" I didn't screw up my plans, and maybe my life?
 In some ways I am so appreciative of my life lessons that I had to learn while in college, aside from the lessons in the classroom. The one thing that I have learned is that we each have our own paths we are meant to walk down. What's right for me is not right for anyone else. Accepting this as a relevant truth is something that has set me free. Everytime I look at someone with envy, disgust, or judgment, I remember that they are one a different path than me. Some people's paths have less twists and turns than others. Neither is better, neither is worse, they are just different. My path has consisted of many stepping stones. I have been growing into the person I need to be since the day I was born. I am not like most people who can slide through life simply meeting the expectations that others have set for me. I am in this world to do a specific task, as is everyone. My gift and my curse is that I don't want to settle until I find out exactly what my calling is. There are people who know exactly what they are going to do, or are meant to do. Some know from a young age, others just grow into what they define as their destiny. Some people believe they make their own destiny.
I believe in my heart of hearts that I will find my specific cause for being brought into this world, and I will not quit growing, learning, and even making mistakes until I find out what it is.
I find it fascintating how different people are as individuals. I grew up in the suburbs where everyone was the same. Everyone dressed the same, came from the same middle class, had the same family incomes, same taste in music, same morals and values. When I went away to college to a very diverse school, my world was turned upside down. I did not know people were actually different, that they had different interests than me, different strengths and weaknesses. It honestly blew me away, and it took me a long time to grasp. My reality and perception of the world, my faith, my political convictions, my family values all changed within months. The lessons that I learned so quickly weren't lessons at the time, they were just crazy experiences to talk about to my friends from the suburbs. My life became somewhat of a circus, as I threw myself into all these different scenarios with different people...I became like Goldielocks trying out all the different types of living. Some were too much for me, others weren't enough, and I eventually settled for a life that I believed at the time to be the life of my dreams. Of course, all that glitters isn't gold, and the decisions I made and "experiences" that I had for three years turned out to be all the wrong ones in the "conventional way" I thought life was supposed to be. The worst part about it was that for the first time in my life I was being judged negatively for not being who or what my family and old friends thought I was. So, in an effort to keep my independence, I kept rebelling against what I was supposed to be. Looking back, everything that happened was a lot worse than I could have imagined my life being, but that was my journey. The moment that I stepped into a new city, a university and life, my journey had just begun. This is because I wasn't necessarily in complete control of my life, or at least I didn't think. Maybe it began at that moment because I was, in fact, in control for the first time and I took my freedom and ran with it? The jury is still out on that, but I will say that my life has never been the same since and I can't tell if I regret it or not....that's another story for another day.

Think about your path. Your journey. Don't worry about others' or you will never be content with your own. Stay true to yourself. Learn. Grow. And keep the faith that tomorrow is another day.