"once you choose hope, anything is possible"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

surrounded by hope

Last night was full of more hope than I could ever ask from, last night was Relay for Life 2012 at Marquette University, and last night was exactly where I needed to be. I woke up from my midday nap (in preparation for an all nighter) to that dreaded voicemail that I have gotten too many times this year. A classmate and friend, Arie Fitzhugh, had passed away after his battle against cancer. Another friend, another life, another phone call, more tears, and a heart more broken than I know how to handle. Once again I felt as if I could not breathe, I got off the phone with my friend from home and I just stared at my phone. Who do I call? What do I do? I have to be ready for Relay in 2 hours and now this. Confusion is the understatement of the year. I called my mom though and like she always does, she calmed me down and put it all into perspective. Cancer sucks, it is this horrible and unbearable disease that no one should ever go through. Arie was 19 years old and he shouldn't have had to be fighting so hard for his life, he was finally free from all of it. Finally in a place where pain and cancer doesn't exist, and THAT is what I need to be focusing on. 

Relay could not have come at a better time, being surrounded with hope and people that were all together for the exact same reason is exactly where I needed to be and I was with the people that have helped me through so much already. I listened to the survivor stories and stood with tears of joy in my eyes as the numerous survivors walked the first lap of the night. They are what I need to focus on, they are the hope of the future. Despite all the happiness and joy that moments of Relay brought me, there were those moments when the sadness was too much for me. For anyone who has not participated in Relay, one of the major events of the night is the Luminaria ceremony. The track is lined with candles adorned with the names of those we have lost or those that are still fighting. All the lights are turned off and everyone takes a silent lap around the track as a slideshow shows the names and pictures of those we have lost to this disease. 

It was a beautiful ceremony, but one that I would not have been able to participate in alone. Hand in hand with my sister, my friends, and my team I was able to walk despite the tears, despite the heartbreak, simply because I have the greatest support system in the world. My sister held me up when all I wanted to do was collapse. She kept me moving and she pushed me forward, much like she has been doing all year and for my whole life. Kaitie is my glimpse of hope this weekend, I know with her by my side I will get through this, I can handle this. Her living a block and a half a way from me has been the biggest blessing in the world this year.

A special thanks to my three dedicated and loyal boys on my team who stayed the entire night even though it was long and it was the last weekend before finals. You are all amazing. And to Maggie O'Brien and Nicole Roman, two of the best friends a girl can ask for. I am so honored to have gotten to walk side by side with them all night, in celebration of Maggie's mom and in memory of Nicole's lost loved ones. Two of the most incredible and caring girls I know, they continued to walk with me up until the very end, when most of the Relay participants had grown tired. Thank you both for holding my hand, for wiping my tears, and for providing constant support and comic relief when I needed it.

This weekend was hard, it was sad, and it marked another loss that I can't even comprehend at this moment. But it was inspiring, it was hopeful, and it helps me believe that there is something good coming out of all this loss. Marquette Relay for Life raised more than $47,000. $47,000 that will go to fighting this disease so that one day no one has to hear the words "you have cancer" anymore. I know we are making a difference somehow and I wish more than anything that that difference would have been made before Anna and Arie passed away, but their legacy and their memory lives on in all those that loved them and the inspiration they left behind. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Anna's Hope

As an English major, there are very few times in life when I am at a loss for words. I have never really struggled with a way to convey my feelings or to tell a story. This week though, I have written, rewritten, deleted, backspaced, and shut my computer in frustration countless times trying to write this post, attempting to share my 'glimpse of hope' this week in a way that will do her justice. Easier said than done when the story I am trying to tell encompasses so many emotions, so many feelings, and so much of what has made me the person I am today. 

I have been extremely blessed in the last 19 years of my life to remain healthy, happy, and incredibly loved by those around me. I have had my difficulties to overcome, just as everyone has, and while they may have seemed like the end of the world at the time, nothing compares to the words "you have cancer." Tomorrow I am joining more than 600 Marquette students at Relay For Life, an event sponsored by the American Cancer Society designed in order to fight back against cancer. As a community we are doing our part to raise awareness and funds to create a world with more birthdays and less people who have to hear those fateful words.

Everyone has their different reasons to relay, this year I am relaying in memory of my friend Anna Basso who passed away on June 8, 2011 after a long, hard battle with this horrible disease. Anna was diagnosed her junior year in high school and put up an amazing and inspirational fight against Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Anna has provided constant motivation and inspiration to me. I miss her everyday and I continually question why she was taken from us so young, but God had different plans for her and she has taught me so much about faith, life, and hope in her journey and her legacy.

Anna is my constant 'glimpse of hope.' She taught me, through the words of her favorite song, that "even if things get heavy, we'll all float on" (Modest Mouse), and she showed me what it was like to truly be strong. Her story is incredible and I could go on for hours about how amazing of a person she was. During her battle a modern day prayer chain was started in her honor, 1 Million 4 Anna. It was a website used to track all the people praying for Anna's health and to demonstrate the power of community as we were all asked to pray each day at 12:12 in honor of her favorite bible verse Romans 12:12. 1 Million 4 Anna has recently reached more than 3,000,000 tracked prayers, a true testament to the nature of her legacy and the lengths that her story has gone.

Its been almost 11 months since I last saw Anna. 11 months later and I feel her with me more than ever. The strength and faith she has given me helps me through my hardest days. I know Anna will be with me tomorrow, pushing me along as I walk in her memory and in honor of all those who have been affected by cancer. I am honored to have known such an incredible woman, I am honored to have been able to call her my friend, and I am honored walk in her memory tomorrow with team Float On

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" Romans 12:12

Friday, April 20, 2012

southern obsession.

These last few days have brought a lot of rain and dreariness. Sometimes it is so difficult to get out of bed on days like these, but lucky for me, I had some big plans to look forward too. As I have mentioned before, I am a country psycho. I am such a southern girl it is scary sometimes, and there is nothing I love more than my country music. This weekend I was blessed to see not one, but two incredible country concerts featuring some of my favorite artists. Between southern comfort, best friends, baseball, family, and endless laughter I have had one amazing weekend...and it's only friday!

My fun filled weekend started a little early, on Wednesday, when I got to go to the Brewers game with my sister and some of our wonderful friends. It was so nice just to sit and relax after a long week of tests and papers. I am a diehard Arizona Diamondbacks fan, but I adopted the home team for the day and was thrilled when they pulled off a win with a walk off run in the 9th inning.

Thursday was a day that I have been looking forward to for quite sometime. Miranda Lambert, my country idol, was playing just a few blocks away from my school and she was accompanied by two of my favorite country men, Jerrod Niemann and Chris Young. The concert was incredible and I spent it with my very best friend. I went home exhausted and voiceless, but it was so worth every moment of it. If y'all haven't heard of these talented artists, you HAVE to check them out, they are incredible! Miranda Lambert began one of her songs by explaining how music had always been a source of healing for her...I could not agree more. It is Miranda's newest single, Over You, that has been a source of so much emotion and strength during my difficult times. I swear by the fact that music has a way of helping you through some of the most difficult things and I am happy to say that it is Miranda's music as well as so many other artists that have brought me so much hope and comfort.

Finally, tonight I got to see a newer country artist, Hunter Hayes. He was AMAZING to see live and was so entertaining. It was a smaller venue so I literally got to stand just a few feet from him and I had an absolute blast. I am going to need several days of recovery after this week, thank goodness I have all day Saturday and Sunday. My boots have gotten their fair share of excitement this week and I am so incredibly grateful that I had such amazing people by my side to share this week with.

It is days like today that give me hope. Sometimes the bad days seem to pile up one after another, and often it gets too much to bear. I know it is difficult, and I know sometimes we don't want to, but it is crucial that we hang in there because there are going to be good days and those good days ARE worth it. And for those bad days that seem as if you won't get through, focus on something you know for certain is good. Whether it be music, your best friend, a family member, or your favorite movie, hold on to it, the bad days will pass and it just means you're next in line for something truly good to happen.

"where there is life there is hope. and where there is hope you will find happiness"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

love from home

The hardest part of going to school so far away from home, for me, is missing out on my sister's lives. This weekend was my little sister's best friend's junior prom and I wish more than anything that I could have been there. It does not even compare to actually getting to be there, but she finally uploaded pictures to Facebook today and I had a blast creeping through all her "Kodak moments." 

My baby sisters, Meaghan and Caroline, are my glimpses of hope this week. The young, often immature girls that I left in August when I went to school have turned into two of the most incredible young ladies I have ever met. Obviously, I am very biased because they are my sisters, but I am continuously amazed with how much both of them have grown while I have been away, which is so bittersweet. Seeing Meaghan dressed up for Junior Prom is almost unfathomable to me, it was just yesterday we were playing around in our princess dresses and sneaking into my mom's makeup drawer. Meaghan continues to amaze me on a daily basis. While she prepares this week for her big dance show and plays an active role in the preparation for a huge fundraiser, Relay for Life, I could not be more proud to call her my little sis. 

These two beauties have overcome so much in the last year and their strength and grace that they have exuded during the hard times are giving me hope this week. I am the older sister and supposed to be the role model, but the two of them have taught me so much about love and life this year, without even knowing it. Caroline is only 12 years old and I constantly find myself amazed by the insight she has about life. She will say things and I just sit there in awe of how grown up she is. I am so blessed to have such incredible sisters in my life (I have three others, don't worry girls I will get to you soon), and I truly do not know how I would get through days without them. 

And as if my this week wasn't full of enough hope and happiness, I received my favorite thing in my mailbox today, a package slip! Thanks mom and dad for the love from home <3

Monday, April 16, 2012

monday mornings

Good morning lovelies! I just got back from my early morning class and I can't help but have the feeling that this is going to be a great week. I don't know if its the fabulous cup of coffee that I enjoyed this morning or the fact that I have a lot to look forward to these next few days, but I woke up today feeling better than I have in a while. 

While I was getting ready this morning, I took advantage of the fact that my roommate was not in the room, and jammed out to my favorite new playlist. This song in particular is one that every girl everyone should have in their library. My girl, Kelly Clarkson, has developed the perfect anthem to belt out on any given day, whether it be a bad one in need of some mood lightening or a good one that needs a little extra boost of empowerment. 

For all of us who aren't having the best Monday morning, here is an old video that never fails to make me smile. I am a firm believer that laughter is the absolute best medicine and this baby's giggle is completely contagious!

Happy Monday Everyone!

friends flowers and fashion

the first week back after a break is always a rough one at school, so when the weekend finally rolled around I was ecstatic! One of the major benefits of going to school in Wisconsin is that the gorgeous city of Chicago is only a short drive away. That being said, it only made sense for my girlfriends and I to capitalize on this small fact and head to Chi-town for the day.

we enjoyed lunch at a pizza place that reminded me of some of my favorite childhood memories and then hit Michigan Street for some much needed shopping. 

The city was absolutely beautiful in it's springtime glow. Tulips decorated almost every street corner and the other pedestrians were full of smiles and friendliness. It was the perfect day and I got to spend it with some of the greatest girls I know. 

While we were shopping, we ran into a fellow Marquette alumni, education major and someone who happened to have gone through the same summer program as I did (FFP). This small world and Mary's endless enthusiasm was my glimpse of hope this week. She raved about Marquette and the FFP program and we exchanged emails so that we can share stories and pictures about our time at Marquette. Mary was a picture of what my future could be, and what a fabulous future that is! I loved every moment of Saturday and it gave me the extra push I need to get through these last couple weeks of school before finals. 

A special thanks to the beautiful ladies that always have my back, Catherine and Shannon. These girls alone give me hope that I can handle anything with them by my side. Make sure to comment and share your glimpses of hope this week :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

puppy love

I have never been much of an animal person, but my family's newest puppy has me raving about puppy love. Its hard to have a frown on your face when you are being kissed over and over again by this baby. 

Gracie is 9 weeks old and the newest member of my crazy family. She provides an ongoing source of entertainment as she tries to figure out life in the Hau house. Her most recent endeavor has been trying to decide what the pool is and whether or not she can use it. During the past weekend, as I was faced with new challenges and grief after the death of a friend, I could always count on Gracie to rush to the door every time I returned home. The complete and total happiness that Gracie exuded every time I went to play with her was enough to bring a smile to my face no matter what I was feeling when I walked in the room originally. 

For me, Gracie is my most recent source of hope. She reminds me that not every thing in this world is bad. She shows me that there is such a thing as unconditional love, even if it may be in the form of puppy love. More than anything, she is a constant in my life, someone that I can count on to always be there. 

Gracie was my glimpse of hope this weekend. 

the sun will rise again

When I crossed my high school's stage on graduation, I welcomed the idea that I would be starting a brand new life. A life filled with new friends, a new school, a new state, and a lot of new freedom. Over the last ten months, I have received all these things, but with them came new struggles and new emotions. These last ten months have brought me so much happiness and love, but it has all been surrounded by the sadness of the tragedies that have been occurring back home. Four deaths, four classmates gone, four lives that ended too soon, and more sadness than I knew how to deal with. I have been through all the stages of grief; denial, anger, sadness. Now I am on to hoping for the future. This blog is my outlet, it is my way to share all the hope that I see on a daily basis. I have watched too many young lives be taken from this world in such a small amount of time, I am here to show the beauty of this complicated and sometimes cruel world we live in. I am here to share the stories of some of the strongest people I know, and to hopefully give those that have been dealing with their own struggles just a little bit of happiness. Sometimes on our darkest days, a little glimpse of hope is all we need to convince ourselves that tomorrow the sun will rise again and things will eventually get better.

"Once you choose hope, anything is possible"