A Time to Stop and Thank

Good Monday all!

Obviously, this is no ordinary week. We are approaching the fourth Thursday in November which Franklin D. Roosevelt deemed a national holiday: Thanksgiving.

Every Sunday, I volunteer as a leader for a youth group, Summit County Youth (SCY). Last night, we celebrated Thanksgiving with the high school students before they travel to or await to see family and friends as they plan to share their gratitude together.

I felt like I was 8 years old again as we broke into small groups with the students and made hand turkeys. After we traced the outline of our hands, we wrote in each finger, or feather, different things we are grateful for.

We named something we are grateful for in the first; someone we are grateful for in the second; third, something fun; and anything else in the fourth and I would like to share with you this fine Monday morning what I am grateful for.

Something—Freedom/Opportunities: Not many people in this world have the luxury of living “care-free.” Of course we all have our concerns and worries at times, but most of us find ourselves in very fortunate circumstances. Living in the United States of America, we are considered “free,” in my opinion meaning: most of us have the opportunity to make life what we want it to be. We have our basic needs (food, water, shelter, love) met and our concerns become what we want to do with our lives. I believe this is a privilege most of us, including me at times, take for granted, and I wanted to extend my gratitude to the fortunate life I was born into: a life full of freedom and opportunity.

Someone—Phil Gallagher & Eric Mamula: Of course, most of the high school students defaulted to, “I’m thankful for my parents who have loved and cared and been there for me my entire life.” Although I am very thankful for both of my parents and the path they paved for me to live a flourishing and fulfilling life, I wanted to acknowledge other people (because I couldn’t choose just one) that have been a significant part of my life.

Phil is the director of SCY and has always extended his thoughts, prayers and helping hand whenever I needed it. As of late, I have reached out to him more than anyone for wisdom and advice through some difficult times I have faced and I could not be more grateful to have someone in my life who will never judge and always love me, for better or worse.

Eric is the owner of Downstairs at Eric’s, the sports bar of which I am one of the managers. I don’t think I will ever enjoy working for someone more than I do Eric. He has known me since I could barely walk and is a long time family friend but under that, he has helped me tremendously and taken care of me as an employee through my hospital stays and financial woes. He truly cares about me not only as an employee but as a person and genuinely cares for my wellbeing and I am grateful and proud to have him as an employer and a friend.

Something fun—Technology: Where would we be without technology? Fifteen or so years ago now we barely knew what a cellular phone was. Now? We have to have it on us at all times or else we will go insane. Smart 3D TVs, smartphones, laptops, computers, tablets, the Cloud, you name it. If it’s technology, I enjoy having it around. A lot of good and convenience can come from technology and I strive to utilize mine in such ways. I am grateful for the added convenience, connectivity, and overall fun that technology can bring us (of course, we can all use a break from time to time).

Anything else?—Friendships: As I have heard Phil say numerous times, “If you find yourself at the end of this life with one good friend still by your side, that has followed you through this life for better or worse, then you have succeeded.” Friendships have become very important to me lately and I am starting to see the truth in this statement. Friends can come and go so easily; whether if it’s distance that separates you or an argument or disagreement, friends can vanish on a dime. At this moment in my life, I am very grateful for four people in my life that have stuck by my side through my triumphs, my defeats, my anger, and my stupidity. I know I can count on them to encourage me to my highest highs and pick me up from my lowest lows, even if I may be a bit stubborn about it sometimes.

So there you have it! Another glimpse into my life and what I am grateful for.

I would like to leave you with this thought as you go forth during this holiday season with close friends and relatives: Be grateful for the ability to be grateful.

Consider what you are grateful for and share with everyone around you, but don’t forget to be grateful for the greatest gift: the life you have been given. Wake up every morning this week and breathe two simple words , “Thank you,” for being alive.

Until next Monday! And Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for all of you reading, following, and sharing my blog. 😀

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live (and be thankful for) Today, Say Tomorrow

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“We are grateful for the time we have been given.”
          Edward Walker, The Village

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Facebook Follies

Good Monday all!

How many of you found yourselves passing time on Facebook or Twitter this week?

For those around my age group, I’m sure you expended uncountable hours on these social media sites. For those included in the generation before us, probably not quite as much but perhaps enough time in attempt to keep up with the younger generations.

Think about your time on these and other social media sites. How do you use them? And why? What do you share and why do you share it? Is it productive use or has it become just another way to waste idle time?

About a month ago, I stared at my Facebook page and asked myself these questions. In looking at my friends’ profiles as well as my own, I came to a conclusive question: What is the point in my use of Facebook?

Shall I throw out some realities of social media?

The younger generation seems to have turned sites like Facebook into a popularity contest. Instead of connecting with people, it becomes all about the numbers: How many friends do I have? How many likes did my last post get? How many pages do I like? How many pictures am I tagged in. Then, we stalk our friends to see what they are doing, who they are friends with, how many likes their posts get, which pages they like, and how many pictures they are tagged in.

We use it to share our triumphs, secretly hoping for a lot of “likes.” We use it to vent and complain when life doesn’t go our way, secretly crying for help for our friends to comment or message us. It’s become something of a diary but instead of keeping it under lock and key, we long for people to read it.

Of course not everyone uses social media this way. Rather, some use it quite sparingly if at all.

However, after scrolling through an endless news feed for ten or fifteen minutes, I went to my profile to analyze myself. Truth be told, I had fallen into this mundane use of Facebook and told myself, “This has got to stop.” So, I wrote a post signing off of Facebook for the time being and have vowed to not sign back on until I have a productive use for it.

The fact about social media, however, is it has become one of the top medias to which people look for news and information. Instead of subscribing to magazines, reading the daily paper, or watching the local news channel, people simply click “like” or “follow” in order to keep up with the most recent news. We are able to follow famous athletes and actors and musicians, politicians and authors and news anchors. It’s the first place we look for information and a good place to connect with others we wouldn’t otherwise be connected with.

Because of the friends and followers I have through Facebook and Twitter, I have WordPress post an update every Monday to both sites to get my word out.

In the last month, I have felt much better not spending countless hours scrolling through news feeds and reading about my “friends'” lives. I realized that my relationship with social media, for the moment, became dull, time-consuming, and disappointing. Rather than focusing on connecting, I was stuck comparing and analyzing my life with others. It became an unhealthy relationship.

Without feeling the need to check Facebook and Twitter lately, I have been able to clear my head of the nonsensical bells and whistles of the online social realm and really focus on what I want out of my life instead of focusing on what I should do to make my life look that much more impressive to my online connections.

Right now, I have been able to use social media sparingly yet productively through WordPress. Blogging is definitely a form of social media, but it is one I use only for me. It gives me great enjoyment to harness my thoughts about a subject every week and share them with you. It has proven healthier than wearing my emotions on my online sleeve.

Although I look forward to the day when my Facebook and I make amends, for now I’ve found it healthy admitting to myself I need to take a step back for the time being.

I hope your relationship with social media proves to be either better controlled or a more positive relationship than mine had become. If, when endlessly scrolling through your news feed reading posts from your friends and family you have occasionally felt unsure why you use these websites, I encourage you to take a step back for a bit.

I have found once I signed off was when the important, meaningful relationships surface and strengthen.

Until next Monday!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live Today, Say Tomorrow

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Knowledge Today Brightens Tomorrow

Good Monday to you all! Did you greet every day as a fresh, new day this week?

Before I begin, I would like to thank you for all your good thoughts sent my way for my doctor’s appointment. I’ve recovered from my hospital stay a little more than a month ago and I have been able to maintain my stability that I have had for the last year or so. Doc said I’m doing well and to keep up my good work. 🙂

Now, onward!

I shall begin with one of the most commonly used phrases in today’s society: We all make mistakes.

This topic obviously ties very closely with (and, in a perfect world, would have been published before) my last post. Nevertheless, I will weigh in my two cents.

I moved home after graduating college in May 2012. For the majority of my last two years of college, I had lived on my own and been responsible for myself. Relocating to Breckenridge, however, meant moving back in with my mom. In moving back into the house I grew up in, I was taken care of; however, I quickly realized I need my space away from mommy dearest. As much as I love my mom, as a 22-year-old fresh out of college, I needed my independence. It’s expensive to live alone in Breckenridge so I sought out friends and peers to look into finding an affordable home away from home.

In two months, I found three roommates, scoped out a place to live, and signed a year lease for a very nice condo in town. In knowing the risks of what could happen, I was the only one to sign the lease. I took up the responsibility of trusting my roommates to pay their share of the rent every month and if they couldn’t, the burden would end up falling on me.

Most of you now cringe at my naive decision to take on that responsibility, and for good reason.

Halfway through our lease, two of my roommates ended up moving out, leaving me with having to figure out new roommates or a way to come up with their share of the rent. Luckily, some people I knew were moving back into town and needed a place to live and worked out fair prices for them to finish out the year lease with very minimal financial loss. Unfortunately, my former roommates and I are no longer acquainted.

Making a very naive decision that I had high hopes for ended up as a mistake that I will never forget.

We are told many things about the mistakes we make. We are told to learn from our mistakes so we don’t make the same one twice. We are told that in order to succeed, we must fail. We are told our mistakes make us who we are.

What did I learn? I learned to never be the only one to sign a lease unless I am the only one living there.

Because of this knowledge, will my other dwelling endeavors be successful? I think so, yes.

What has this experience told me about who I am? I think it tells that I am a very trusting person, sometimes too trusting, and that now I won’t be so quick to trust others with my financial fate. It also showed me that I can be a quick problem-solver, even in the heat of the moment, and I will do whatever it is necessary to solve the problem at hand.

I recently came across a passage in a book by Rob Bell called Love Wins that speaks about sin, but I believe speaks to more of the broad spectrum of mistakes:

When people pursue a destructive course of action and they can’t be convinced to change course, we say they’re “hell-bent” on it. Fixed, obsessed, unshakable in their pursuit, unwavering in their commitment to a destructive direction[…]The point of this turning loose, this letting go, this punishment, is to allow them to live with the full consequences of their choices, confident that the misery they find themselves in will have a way of getting their attention.

Although intense, I can compare these words to my mistake. “Hell-bent” might be a bit extreme, but I wanted more than anything to live on my own, even if it meant trusting my three peers wouldn’t abandon me if I took the responsibility of being the only one to sign a year-long lease.

I was “fixed, obsessed, unshakable” on moving out on my own again, that I didn’t care the risks or the warnings. Even though I acknowledged the risks and the warnings, I did not assess them properly. In that obsession, I was punished and had to “live with the full consequences of [my] choices.”

But in making a mistake, that is what happens. We take a leap of faith in hopes that the risks and the warnings won’t be true. When that leap leads to hitting rock at the bottom, we realize the misery in which we find ourselves and that hard landing “[has] a way of getting [our] attention.”

In making mistakes comes new beginnings. Hopefully that rock bottom did send us a wake-up call and we are able to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and move forward with new knowledge that can help us make better decisions in the future.

The few mistakes I have made in the past year stand out to me, and I have now looked at through this lens. In those mistakes, I was obsessed without heeding to risk or warning. In those mistakes, I received brutal wake-up calls that got my attention. From those mistakes, I have picked myself up, brushed myself off, and hope to retain the knowledge I learned and make better decisions moving forward.

Sometimes, we need to hit rock bottom to jolt our attention and listen to that voice that’s been in the back of our heads saying, “Hey! I told you this would be a mistake. Pick yourself up, take this knowledge, and move on.”

Not every mistake is as easy to move on from like knowing not to sign a lease by yourself and become responsible for tracking down three other people every month for their share of rent.

But whatever the mistake, we must not dwell on it. We must take what we can from it, become a stronger, smarter person, and look toward the future wherein lies one less mistake to be made.

We all make mistakes. But I want you to remember that through the actions we choose that end up being our mistakes, the knowledge we gain from these events can light the way to a brighter future.

Until next Monday!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live Today, Say Tomorrow

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Fresh Starts and Clean Slates

‘Tis Monday again, and I am glad to have this last week behind me and look forward to a new one, a fresh start.

To begin, I would like to quickly mention my hospital stay. About a month ago, I came down with a staph infection and stayed in the hospital for 11 days. I was pumped full of antibiotics, lung treatments, and idle time.

I worked hard to shorten my stay so I could make it to the Yellowcard concert I had been planning to go to for months. My hard work paid off—I hiked up my lung functions back to my baseline and was able to break free of my luxurious prison allowing me to make it to my concert.

Tomorrow, I have a follow-up appointment and I would like to cordially ask all of you to wish me luck and send some good vibes my way in hopes I can fend off another hospital stay. Thank you 🙂

Now, I mentioned fresh starts in my greeting this week. I have mulled over this concept for a couple days and am glad I took a little extra time before I came to a conclusion.

I don’t celebrate Halloween much anymore, but my cynical spirit indulged itself by dressing up as an optimist and attempted to post to my blog. After Halloween, though, I unmasked this demon and confronted it.

After a week of undergoing some unfortunate events, that darkness inside overwhelmed me with pessimistic thoughts. It led me to believe that the only way I would be able to move on with my life is if I started anew. In layman’s terms, it convinced me the only way out was to move away from Breckenridge and down to Denver as soon as possible.

It sounded like a great idea, but what about my job commitment to Eric? Where would I stay? Where do I find a place to live? How do I find a new job? That cynical demon seemed to have an answer for all of these questions, and I became hell-bent on leaving my Breckenridge life behind with no rhyme or reason of how to start fresh in Denver.

But over the weekend, I came to my senses, deciding this rash behavior isn’t the solution to my problem. I have never been keen on running from my problems and I shouldn’t start now.

So I took Yellowcard’s advice: “Stop, turn, take a look around at all the lights and sounds,” and what did I see? What did I hear? Not much of anything. The lights and sounds that drew me back to Breckenridge after college are now faded and stuck on repeat.

Me and myself came to a compromise: I do agree with getting out and starting fresh somewhere else, but now isn’t the right time–which leads me to the idea of fresh starts, clean slates, and starting new…

I realized fresh starts aren’t made possible just because of rash decisions. What was my opening line this week? I am looking forward to a new week, leaving what has happened behind me and moving forward: a fresh start.

And that’s the key! It’s not unprecedented decisions or Sunday night coming to a close that makes it possible to start fresh. We wake up every morning, breathing and alive, and every day is a brand new day. Although we do carry the burdens of our past and follow schedules of work and errands, every day has the chance of presenting new, unexpected, and exciting opportunities for us in hopes that we may shuffle around our schedule and leave behind our burdens to enjoy what life can offer.

This past week, I lost sight of this truth. I stopped enjoying my life every day because I was convinced I wouldn’t be happy unless I moved away. Instead, I allowed other factors to take control of my life.

Don’t get me wrong. It becomes difficult to be happy when everything in your life seems to have taken a turn for the worse. When put in such a vulnerable state, it seems downright hopeless that things will turn around. It happens to all of us and when it does, we turn to those famous “If only…” statements  and tend to dwell in the woulda-coulda-shoulda. It just happened to me this last week.

So, I encourage everyone, myself included, that when you are feeling down and out, to remember these words: “Happiness is not a destination; happiness is a way of life.”

It’s not, “If only I taken that extra shift at work and made more money”; it’s not, “If only something bad would happen to them because they hurt me”; it’s not “If only I could be living in Denver right now.” Instead think, “Today, I won’t be helplessly blinded by the darkness; I will actively seek out the light.”

Much easier said than done, but I believe you and I can do it.

In time and with the right attitude, those destinations to which we so desperately cling can become reality. But heed caution: sometimes when we finally make it to one of those destinations, it isn’t what we thought it would be.

I keep telling myself and I forward this on to you: don’t get caught waiting miserably in the present for the future to come; actively seek out the light in the present, let the past be past, and the future will fall in line.

Don’t get ahead of yourself; take one day at a time.

For now, I am doing my best to live by these words. This winter season, I will enjoy myself all the while planning making a move come springtime, the season of new birth. Now just isn’t the moment for rash actions. It’s time for me to pick myself up, hold my head up high, and stop wasting days away thinking how it could be, should be, or would be.

So off I go, living every day in between this Monday and next. Please join alongside me.

Until then!

Keep Fighting, Keep Breathing, Live Today, Say Tomorrow

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