"once you choose hope, anything is possible"

Monday, July 30, 2012

full of hope

This week has honestly been such a happy and hopeful week, one that has reassured me that in the end, everything really is going to be okay. 

My week started with my last shift at Rally House, a store that I have worked at for two years. When I walked into Rally House for the first time during the beginning weeks of my senior year, I never imagined I would come to be part of such a special family. Like with most jobs, I had a lot of ups and downs, but in the end I was sad to be working my last hours with a company that I have learned to love. The incredible people that I was blessed to work with have taught me so much, and while I was sad to be ending this part of my life, I am so excited for what is to come. I couldn't have asked for a better last shift either. I worked with the manager that I worked my very first shift with and many of my favorite RH employees (whether still employed or not) came into the store so I got to say goodbye. It was a bittersweet day, but I am so hopeful for my new job which I get to start in three weeks and I know the people I left behind at Rally House will always be a part of my life.

The rest of the week I was blessed to spend time with my family! My parents were out of town this weekend, which meant I was mom for the two days. While I do not envy my mother's job at all and finally realized how difficult it must have been to raise six girls, I loved getting to spend so much time with little sisters, especially the baby. I know I have mentioned before how fast she grew up, but it was so fun to hear her talk about boys, make up, and the start of her 8th grade year. She has always been my baby sister, but this weekend I got to see that she wasn't such a baby anymore. On top of quality time with the girls, today my grandparents and uncle's family came to visit! I got to spend all morning listening to my grandpa tell stories about life on the farm and all night watching the little cousins play in the pool. I am such a sucker for family time, and I am loving every almost every minute of having everyone together!

On top of just an overall really good week, I have been surrounded by so many glimpses of hope. This morning on my way to a doctor's appointment, I stopped at Starbucks because I was running pretty early. While I was there, the barista asked me if I was going to meet anyone else because they had made an extra drink. When I explained that I was going to an office, the manager told me to call and get their drink orders, and then proceeded to give me the four drinks for free. Random acts of kindness always put a smile on my face, and I know it made the morning of the four woman in the office :) 

This week I also started reading The Letter by Marie Tillman, the wife of Corporal Pat Tillman who was killed in action in Afghanistan. What I thought would be an overall depressing book was actually one full of hope, peace, and happiness. Her account of her journey was so beautifully written that I was in tears throughout most of it, but I finished the last page feeling so hopeful. I HIGHLY recommend the book for anyone dealing with any sort of hardship, or anyone at all. Marie Tillman is the epitome of a glimpse of hope, the way that she overcome the tragedy that she was faced with so early in life is absolutely incredible.

My time in Dallas is winding down, so I am trying to get as much out of my final weeks as possible. It is still so weird for me to think that this is pretty much the last time that I will be living in Dallas. Of course I will still come home for holidays this year, but with my family continuing their adventure elsewhere and my life being primarily in Wisconsin now, my time in Texas is coming to an end. This has been a wonderful place for me, but I am so hopeful for my future. This week has left me incredibly happy and ready to take on this next stage in my life continuing to gather all my glimpses of hope :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

opening old wounds

This last week I had yet another of my infamous talks with my mom, just about how everything has been going. I finally admitted to her and to myself why this summer has been so hard on me. Being back in Dallas, back in my old room with my old job and my old friends, has made me reflect on how much I have changed this last year. I am a completely different person and it has been so difficult to be reminded everyday of the carefree, naive person that I used to be. With the reflection on my change comes all the memories that I have worked so hard to repress for the last year, and then the realization that I haven't really been dealing with my grief at all, just hiding it until something else happened to remind me. 

Since our conversation I have thought a lot about well, basically everything; life, love, loss, the list goes on. As I tried to regain a grasp on everything, a familiar bible verse came into mind.This bible verse was first introduced to me when my friend, Anna, began her fight against cancer and the 1 Million 4 Anna prayer chain was established. It was her favorite bible verse and one that the whole foundation has adopted as inspiration in times of difficulties. Over the past 18 months I have recited the verse often and have drawn strength from it as well as from the memory of the beautiful girl that held the verse so near to her heart. Despite seeing and saying it on a daily basis, I haven't truly reflected upon what these simple words mean until now.
Be Joyful in Hope: I have said it before and I will say it again, I am SO blessed to have the family and friends that I do. I am surrounded by so much love and support that I am continually amazed on a daily basis. I know I can handle any difficulty that is thrown at me simply because I have incredible people to help me up when I cannot do it on my own. I am joyful knowing that everything will be okay in the end, everything will find a way to work out. I have had to rely on my hope to get through troubling times in the past and I will continue to do so. I find so much happiness in the hope of tomorrow and the future that I am working towards.

Be Patient in Affliction: Hard times don't last forever. It is as simple as that. Eventually this will pass, eventually things will be okay again. You just have to get through each day, because days become weeks, and weeks become years. Before you know it, you're looking back on the year and thinking "I made it." I have to be patient with myself knowing that there will be bad days despite all the good days, and that is okay. 

Be Faithful in Prayer: I was born and raised Catholic. I have went to church every Sunday, prayed before every meal, and had a rosary by my bed for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until more recently that I truly learned to rely on my faith, and it amazes me that I ever got through the days before. My faith has been my rock, and without it I honestly do not know how I would convince myself to get out of bed every morning. There is so much hope and promise in prayer, knowing that there is someone up there looking out for me and listening to my pleas. 

Maybe coming home to Dallas has opened old wounds and brought back memories that I am not sure I want anymore, but my past has made me who I am. As much as I wish I could forget, I know that I cannot. Now all that's left to do is work towards accepting my past, but still hoping on the future. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Little Miss Happiness

This week's inspiration is going to be short and sweet. (sorry for the profanity Daddy)

If you have not seen Little Miss Sunshine, I highly suggest it. On top of being just an overall really funny movie, the underlying theme is something that I think people lose sight of too often; do what you love and screw everything else. Life is too short to be miserable and it is too short to waste your time doing things that don't make you happy. Too often people lose sight of their dreams or settle for things of convenience or they take the easy way out. 

As much as I HATE the twitter fad #YOLO (you only live once), they were on to something. People rarely get second chances to go back and follow their dreams. If you live your whole life making concessions and losing sight of the things you love, happiness is going to be really hard to find.  

Have a good week everyone! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

another angel

For the past thirteen months, every time I have felt myself start moving on, start getting back to normal life, something happens: another death, another tragedy, another something. When I finally started feeling somewhat okay after Anna's death, Michaela passed away. And after Michaela, it was the call that Mason had died, on and on until here I am again praying for the soul of another life lost too soon. This time though it was my sister who got the call. My sister who was my strength and rock through the deaths of the last year. As I sat and held her while she cried, all I could think was "why us?" "Why is this happening again?" and what am I supposed to say now. 

I could go with the responses that I heard all last year. "He is in a better place, a place without pain," or "He is watching over you right now and wouldn't want you to be sad." I could tell her that life goes on even when we don't want it to or that she's a lot stronger than she thinks and can handle this. It is all true and I believe it with every bone in my body, but even still, it doesn't make the pain any less. It doesn't make losing him any more bearable.

If I have learned anything through all of this loss, it is that life is truly to short. I know it sounds cheesy, and the first time someone told me that I probably rolled my eyes, but the truth is, there are so many things that I wish I could've said, wish I could've done while my loved ones were still here. In my conversations with my sister today, I know she feels the same. My mom called today to check in and see how my sister was holding up, and while I explained to her that I was simply at a loss for words, she reminded me that we all needed to stop taking life for granted. 

I know I did my weekly inspiration already in which I exclaimed that my family could basically get through anything. While that is still true, there is something bigger that we need to keep in mind. We may not get tomorrow, we may not have another chance to tell the people we love what we need to tell them. So as you all go to bed tonight, think about what you need to say, what you need to do. And do it. Tell your friends you love them, hug your family a little tighter, remind your sister that she is cherished, and help your brother even if you don't have the time. It may be sad, it may be morbid, but live everyday like you won't have tomorrow. Too often there is no tomorrow, and no one is prepared.

As for all those that were affected by this most recent death, my thoughts and prayers are with you always. I only knew him through my sister's stories (there were some pretty great ones), but I know he was an incredible person and that he will be missed so very much. Please be careful everyone, let this be a lesson in more ways than one. Life is fragile, it is not fair, and it can be taken in any moment. I can't take the pain away no matter how much I wish I could, but I can hope for the future. I know that things get better, I am living proof. It is hard, it is scary, and it is so sad; but it does get better. Life goes on <3

Rest in Paradise Aaron Brandt July 5, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

this too shall pass

I know I am a day late on my Sunday Inspiration, but it has been a crazy weekend (I will fill you in later). This last week I have continued to be amazed by the sheer amount of speed bumps that my family has had to overcome in the last year. Each and every time something happens, I am pleasantly surprised by the way we come together in order to make things right again. 

 Today's inspiration is one that I hold very dear to my heart. It is something I remind myself of everyday because each and every obstacle the I have encountered this last year have made me into the person I am today. I am continually surprised by my incredible support system every time something happens because the truth is, "you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have." Until this year, I was blessed to have never known real tragedy or real problems, and now that my life has been changed because of the people I have met and the friends that I have lost, my outlook on strength and support has completely changed.

For all you struggling this week, remember you can do it. Each and every one of us has the strength we need to overcome any difficulty we may encounter. Even when it feels like too much, look around and reach out to the support surrounding you. In the end, the sun will rise again and everything will be okay. If its not okay, its not the end.

Have a wonderful week everyone!