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Til We Are Strangers No More

I love talking to strangers and I am not really afraid of the whole concept of “stranger danger”. Since I was a child I have had the unique ability to connect and talk to strangers. I love talking to them and discovering their stories. Looking back, this must have frightened my parents, since both my brother Ryan and I love talking to new people, especially people significantly older than ourselves.

Now I am not talking about the people you are forced to meet at orientation, a business meeting, or socialized event. I am talking about the complete random people you never would have planned on meeting in such places like the subway, bus, department stores, or like today, the nail salon. Something about talking and learning about people I never would have had the opportunity to meet just energizes me and really puts my life into perspective.

Sometimes when we meet strangers we communicate in different ways. Sometimes we communicate with words and actual conversations, or we use our body language to convey a message to strangers. No matter where you go or what you do, you are conveying a message to those around you, even those you do not even know. That is why I always make a point to smile at strangers. I used to think that was weird until one bad day back during my freshmen year at Cornell. I was walking back to my dorm really bummed for some reason, when some stranger on the Ag Quad smiled at me and it seriously made my day. I didn’t know that person, but they communicated to me that there is still always a reason to smile.

Today, I had the privileged of communicating with four different strangers, all in four very different ways. I thought I would share this with you because these people inspired me and every day is a new opportunity to be inspired, so seize it. Talk to someone new.

Person 1: I have no idea who this woman is, what she does, but I can tell you one thing, this woman was unhappy today. Scowling and complaining the whole time at the salon, sending people dirty looks, and at one point stared at me, to what seemed like right into my soul. It made me and my friend, uncomfortable, and since there was nothing that I could do about it, I ignored it. But unhappiness is what this stranger communicated to me and how sad is that?

But what can we learn from that person? What I learned is that it is really important to be aware of the environment around you and no matter how you are feeling on the inside, people are perceiving you for what you are expressing on the outside.  So constantly be expressing your best self. It is impossible to do it all the time, because lets face it, we all have really bad days, and who knows, today could have been that lady’s day. I will never know, but we owe it to ourselves to at least try to put our best selves out there to others. It might not always work, but as my dad says “at least you can say you tried it.”

Person 2: My nail technician is from another country and speaks very little English, making communication today very interesting. I have found it is really easy to get frustrated when people do not speak English, but now I see it as a challenge to still effectively communicate despite barriers that exist. We both used a lot of hand gestures and smiles to get our points across and I was impressed to how much I learned about this woman simply by watching her body language.

At one point she noticed my Catholic Saint’s bracelet and exclaimed “Catholic?” and when I replied “Yes!” her face lit up and then we had a little, but the most in depth of our conversations about what churches we go to and on what days of the week we attend mass. It was beautiful interaction in my eyes.

Person 3: Joan is the person that I talked to the most today at the salon and she is quite the woman! She talked to me about a variety of things and through conversation she knows my back story and I hers. I could tell immediately that Joan had such a  passion for life and she was just so happy to talk to me and just have a good conversation.

Through verbal conversations we learn more about the people we see on the outside. Joan is a beautiful person inside and out. A person committed fully to her family, something I greatly admire. The world needs more people like Joan; equally willing to start up and commit to a conversation.

Person 4: I will call her Miracle Woman. Miracle Woman is in my opinion a walking ray of sunshine. As she was checking out she was having trouble walking because her hip, so someone politely asked her what was wrong and if they could help. Miracle Woman explained that years ago she had to have radiation on her hip and it has never been the same. Doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to bear children because of it, but today she has three beautiful kids and though her hip causes her problems, she wouldn’t change it for the world because God has blessed her in so many ways.  Then she wished the person blessings, stating God is great to us all and went on with her day. How beautiful is that?

Just hearing Miracle Woman’s story inspired me. How many times do we complain about something, completely taking for granted all the blessings we have in our lives. This woman could have just gone on and on about how much pain she was in, but instead shared her story, praised God and went on with her day. Just. Like. That. Turning pain into positivity. She is something to admire.

Everyday, every moment we spend on Earth we are conveying a message to those we know and to those we don’t. We have silent and verbal conversations, but what are you actually saying? Is it positive or is it something that needs to be worked on? Do you shut out the world and text on your phone when you are around strangers or do you strike up a conversation? I know that it is easy to browse on our phones, I am guilty of it. Today helped me to realize that there is great potential for so much learning and even friendship when we communicate with strangers. We can learn, like with Person 1, that our negativity is noticed and can make people uncomfortable. We can pick up on non-verbal cues to learn more about a person or strike up a verbal conversation. Or we can simply be inspired by the person at the check out counter. None of this can happen though if we continue to tune out the world because we are attached to ourselves. Detach and become involved. I am not saying that talking to strangers is going to change the world, but you might be surprised how it just might change yours.

Smile on.

If You Want to See the Forest, You Have to Look Past the Trees

Every day I am grateful for my friend Keira, but this past month, I thank her every day. Why? Well because she encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone and face my fears. For the past month, every Sunday, I attend the Catholic Graduate Student Bible Study.  It doesn’t sound that frightening right? What can be so frightening about faith sharing? Well for one, I still want to grow in my faith just like everyone and that for some reason makes me extremely self-conscious to faith share. But I am doing it and I am loving every minute of it. I do not open up very much quite yet, but I did twice this week, which is a big deal since I was averaging 0-1 times the past four weeks.

This week we focused on Luke 17:11-18, the story of how Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers. We eventually got into a discussion of who we knew, ourselves or others, that were defined by something and if they ever overcame letting something like leprosy define them. I immediately thought about my brother Ryan, so I shared yesterday and after I had shared his story I sat back and thought, “Wow, Ryan has really accomplished a lot in so little time,” and that made me really proud to be his sister.

You see, I have two very amazing brothers, each who are contributing to the world in different ways. No way is more right than the other, since they are very different from each other. Though today, I am going to share Ryan’s story, Brendan’s will come at a later time.


From left: Myself, Ryan and Brendan.

When my mother told me almost 17 years ago that I was going to have a new sibling, I knew that my parents were going to give me a sister. I was planning on it. Someone to play dress up with, share my Barbie’s with, and someone who could be my best friend. Well, when Ryan was born, I was completely unsatisfied with what my parents had provided me, and to make matters worse we were moving to New York. Ryan and I lived like Harry Potter for a couple of months. Yes, me and the baby lived in a closet in our “new”, but completely run down house.


In 9th grade, Ryan competed in his first CDE. Neither Brendan nor I got the chance until we were Seniors.

For some reason, when I think back to those couple of months Ryan and I shared a living space, I always recall one morning there was a buck in the front yard. Ryan was in his crib and he was pointing towards the window to where the buck was standing, right, in front, of the window. I was completely scared out of my wits, but Ryan was calm. I should have known that this would be a foreshadowing of Ryan’s avid love of deer and the outdoors.

Fast forward about 8-9 years. Ryan and I have trouble getting along. It got to the point where we constantly have to be separated or punished or have a “talk” with our parents. Brendan blames it on the infamous “laundry basket incident”, but in fact it is because Ryan is the most like me and I hated it. I hated that Ryan wanted to do everything that I did, wanted to be where I wanted to be, and said things that I said. Looking back I was really mean to Ryan, and if the roles were reversed, I would have done everything Ryan did because, well, everyone looks up to their older siblings, for worse or for better. I was young, but I should have realized it sooner.

When Ryan was diagnosed with Tourettes around this time, I started to slowly change how I acted around Ryan. Part of it was because I felt really horrible for my brother. Here was his body causing him to do things he couldn’t control and his classmates, people he called his friends, were making fun of him for something completely out of his hands. I was so incredibly mad that people could be so cruel to a kid so damn cute, humble, and full of life. I became really protective over Ryan and to this day when people talk about any of my brothers, if it is not nice, I put them in their place. I cannot stand when people talk bad about members of their family.

It was during this time when Ryan’s Tourettes had “peaked” that Ryan became, in my mind, depressed. I have never seen a kid so sad to go to school or participate in sports. Our family tried everything to help Ryan; we took him to all different kinds of doctors and I sat on a bed getting needles stuck in my back (acupuncture) because I did not want my brother to be the only one in pain. But his pain emotionally and physically became something that was almost impossible to control.

It is my firm belief that Ryan’s Tourettes “calmed down” when he learned the art of fly tying. I remember Ryan coming home and sitting on his desk perfecting the his craft. Every day Ryan became better and soon people were buying his products, his reputation growing. Every day that passed and every new “fly” that was made, his “tics” as they are called, lessened and Ryan’s “tics” almost disappeared, but his confidence and self awareness grew.

While people still pick on my brother for various (and stupid in my opinion) reasons, Ryan has never let Tourettes or any labels people place on him define him. He has turned his difficulties into successes. He is also the hardest working person I have ever met. I do not know of another kid, myself included that would spend a summer picking up horse manure piece by piece out a field twice a week, to go mow a lawn, to then go help bale hay, , build a barn, and hold a leadership position on a state level.

Though Ryan still faces difficulties in learning and keeping the pace per say, he pushes through with such resilience. He finds the silver lining in every situation. He is a problem solver, excellent conversationalist, humbled (for the most part) at heart, and understands compassion better than most people twice his age. Whenever I hear Kacey Musgraves’ song “Silver Lining”, I always think of Ryan because his lives that motto. He has had numerous cloudy, dark days, yet he always finds the best in all situations and in people. Many people are always telling Ryan “there are not many kids out there like you” and they are completely right. He is a rare gem. I feel that I get along with Ryan a lot better now that I am older because I understand Ryan and I have realized that we are more similar than we are what I always thought, different. Though Ryan and I are similar, I still want him to be his own person.

Brendan and I have set the standard extremely high, but the thing is with Ryan, is he doesn’t even realize how far he is bypassing us in his success. At age 16, my brother has his own business, well two actually, has held more leadership roles than probably Brendan and I combined, is more successful in FFA, is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, and by far makes more money than Brendan and I made in 5 years working at the ice cream shop. He has owned two cars that he can fix and he made himself a deer stand so he has a place to hunt. His success in the hunting and wildlife industry is beyond spectacular. He is so lucky he has found his passion at such a young age and his star is still on the rise. His star will rise even higher when he realizes and understands that he was born Ryan, not Danielle or Brendan. Ryan has his own gifts and they need to be used in ways that benefit him the most. It took me a while to realize that I am not like my very successful friends Kaylie or Amber. I am Danielle. Once I realized that, I was fully able to develop into who I was and was able to truly use my strengths to my fullest potential. That happened at age 20. Ryan is almost there. I can feel it.


Ryan and I share many passions, the top two: Duck Dynasty and FFA

Ryan is inspiring. I love him more each day because I always learn something new from Ryan. We can all learn from Ryan. No matter what is dealt to us, we can handle it. The Lord does not give us storms if he didn’t think we could handle them. Ryan has had a lot of storms in such a short period of time, but that has only made him stronger and more focused on finding his silver lining.

No matter the situation, focus on finding that silver lining. Nothing should ever define you except your actions and love towards others. Stereotypes and labels make us weak. It takes away from who we truly are; unique, valuable, and exceptional children of God. If Ryan let Tourettes define who he is, then he never would have found his passion for hunting and fishing, or be the leader he is today. It would have been easy for Ryan to wallow. But he didn’t. Every morning Ryan wakes up, looking for the forest, realizing, he had to look past the trees. Ryan is continuously finding his silver lining.

Are you?

Positively Positive

Positivity. It’s one of the easiest concepts to understand and enjoy, yet it is the hardest, for many to consistency live out. It is something I struggle with and I know there are those out there far more off than I am.  It is so easy to get caught up in “my life sucks because of X,Y and Z” or “today was the worst day ever” or “my life is over” etc. We have all heard it before, whether out of our mouths or others. It is easy to vent, but after a while it becomes toxic and unhealthy.

I do not try to be like anyone but myself most days, but when I notice that my life is lacking positivity I try my best to emulate my friend from college, Laura. Positivity shines through Laura. It starts with her infectious smile and laugh to the way she presents herself. She looks at life as a ray of sunshine from God and she has the honor the just being present to absorb and radiate that sunlight to others. She doesn’t let anything bother her, or if something does, Laura hides it incredibly well. Some people say it is not real, but it is. You know why? Because Laura let’s God’s love control her life outlook. She fully trusts in him and that is why she views life the way she does; always in a positive light. It is such a great mentality to have and I try so hard to capture it the best I can.

The reason I bring up Laura and her zest for positivity is, well, I have been really stressed lately. Everything from my health, to Cornell bringing up issues with my certification, to my new living arrangements. All at once, it is kind of stressful and when we are stressed it is sometimes hard to stay positive, especially when those around us are do not possess an ounce of positivity. Right now, that’s what I am facing. I am living with a person who sees the world as a black hole. It is sad honestly. This person doesn’t want help and when you do help this person it makes them hostile towards you. But you know what? I am not letting that stop me from being positive and leading a happy life. I did, but no more.

Life is too short not to happy and to not look forward to LIFE. Every day is a new opportunity to seize the day and make a difference. Even if you do something small, it matters. Trust me. Or start something new. I tried hot yoga today. Yes, I did yoga in a room that was 105 degrees. Sounds terrible, but it was actually the best thing I did for myself this week. I am so happy right now and my body is at peace (and it didn’t pass out from the heat like I thought I would!).

Do not beat yourself up over the slightest things. The one thing I learned just from living is that it is really important to set aside time for YOU. Do what makes YOU happy and will keep YOU positive. When you lose sight of yourself, everything else begins to suffer. That’s what happened to me the past two weeks. I lost sight of myself and what makes me happy or distress. I missed my daily reading and working out routines and you know what? It caught up with me.

Don’t let life catch up with you or bring you down.

I am not saying we can all be like Laura, she is a rare breed. BUT, we can try to improve our outlook on life and the opportunities in front of us. It starts with a positive mind which leads to a positive heart and a positive life. You would be surprised how attractive and contagious positivity can truly be.

Dear John

Some people associate loss with a memory. I will always remember the weekend you passed as the weekend I hit a black bear with my 1991 white Toyota Camry and both the car and I lived to tell the story.

I always find it ironic that something like that would happen and be associated with you. In the moment, I was scared to death, because well I hit a huge black bear at 4:30 in the morning on my way back to Cornell and I had to call my parents and worry them even more. Looking back, I laugh at this story because, only that could happen to me and well laughter and unforgettable memories have always been associated with you.

Walking into the kitchen at the house gets me every time. I expect you to be sitting there tell a story and having those around you in stitches over something you said OR you giving some solid, but tough love life advice. You were always good for it and I always looked forward to what you had to say. When I would enter the kitchen, you’d hug me, kiss me on the cheek and always tell me how proud you were of me, how beautiful I was and when I left you told me that you loved me. You weren’t even my own grandfather, but every time you told me that, I could feel that you meant it and I always felt like one of your own. You radiated love to those you loved and I always felt honored to be in that company.

Holidays are most definitely different on “The Hill”. There is a hole in many of our hearts during this time because your presence is incredibly missed. I always felt you were at your best during the holidays. I could always walk in the Men’s parlor and be guaranteed a good laugh and conversation. Or being outside sitting on the porch talking during “American” holidays such as the 4th of July or Memorial Day were some of my favorite memories with you.

My favorite story that you told me happened on that porch about 3 weeks after Johanna was born. You finally caved in and told me how you wooed Grandma. How you told that story and how you two still radiated with love moved me. Yeah, you two were not always perfect, but you two  stayed committed to one another literally through sickness and in health. Something many couples today simply do not understand.

Whenever I see a fly, I immediately get frustrated, wanting to kill it and I associate that with you. There are lots of bugs down here in Tennessee and not enough weapons for me to kill them.

I miss a lot of things about you, but I know that you are watching over your entire family. The one you created and the ones you let into the kindness of your heart. I am blessed everyday that I had the opportunity to know and love you and be apart of your family.

Thanks John. I love you. I’ll be seeing you.

Reflecting and Radiating

I was told last night a lot of interesting things that of course has gotten the wheels turning in my head. It was this statement though that really took me aback and made me really thankful and blessed for the people that I surround myself with:

"I can tell you have a good relationship with your parents, especially your father.  It radiates from you. You know what you want and you won’t settle for anything less than what you set for yourself and that’s a reflection of how your parents raised you. You are such a strong, classy woman who is going to be successful."

At first I was taken aback by those kind words, no one has ever really said something so profound to me before. I have been thinking about this all day and I realized that we are all reflections of who we surround ourselves with. This reflection can “radiate” from us in a good way, but it can also be a tainted radiation if we surround ourselves with people who do not push us towards our best selves.

Take one of my friends for example. Pretty tough life growing up and still today, her life is still challenging. But, she makes it that way. She is a reflection of the people she hangs out with, people who are not highlighting her strengths, yet are bringing out her weaknesses and embellishing in them.

It is a pretty sad scenario and all I wish to do is help her and I have tried numerous times, yet because of the people she has surrounded herself with, her reflection of herself is tainted. She doesn’t see the value in herself and that is the worst thing we can do for ourselves.

So how do we change it? It is really easy to say, “well do X, Y, and Z and you will lead a better life, have lots of friends, be successful, etc.” But what good will that do? There is no magic formula, but what I have learned is that good reflecting can really help.

Reflect on who you are surrounding yourself with. Are they shining you in the best light or are the putting you in the shadows? Reflect on where you want to go. Are there people in your life that are going to get you there? If not, time to reevaluate.

The most important thing to remember is that even though the people we hang out with are reflections of ourselves, we too have a responsibility to follow. We have to reflect our best selves at all times. People are watching, listening, and participating in our lives. We owe it to our friends and family to be our best selves at all times.

My parents always instilled in me superb values. Were they at times a little tough and I didn’t always understand why they were punishing me the way they did? Most certainly. But I was also a tough kid to raise because of my need for independence, success, and the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve. But they did everything  out of love, because they loved (still love) me and my brothers unconditionally. They reflected love to me and most importantly to love everyone despite their faults. I am all those things my friend said to me because of my parents. He was spot on.

Who does that for you? Is it your family? Friends? Co-workers? Think about it and when you do, thank them for making you into the beautiful person you are today.

Modest and I Know It

"Well what should I wear when we go out?"- It is a common question most girls ask their friends before going out. I always ask the question when someone invites me though it often comes with a panic attack looming inside of me.

Why you may ask? Well because of this answer “I don’t know, something sexy.”

Sexy. It can mean many different things to many different people. How do you interpret sexy? I can tell you how most 18 year old boys interpret sexy, how my friend interprets sexy, and I can tell you how my parents interpret the word. It’s this interpretation that scares me the most. “Is what I am interpreting as sexy, is that going to be good enough?” That’s what was running through my mind today as I was shopping for something “sexy” to wear out tomorrow night for a private event.

Rack through rack, every time I tried on something “sexy”, I shook my head and thought “No. Definitely not. This isn’t me”. Well yes its not me! I don’t do sexy. I prefer modest. I feel better about myself when I go for the “cute”, “adorable”, “church girl” look. It is not a desired look by many, but hey it works for me. I respect myself more, I am comfortable, and I am not embarrassed when I walk out of the house in fear someone is going to see down my shirt or up my legs.

I find it difficult to find friends, read articles, watch videos or even find clothing based on my beliefs. It has always been a challenge of mine. This week I discovered Sadie Roberston (from the famed (and my personal favorite show), Duck Dynasty) and Kolby Koloff’s Youtube page; “The New Different”.  Long and short, it is just two young girls expressing themselves through Christ’s light. I commend them and respect them, because it takes a lot of guts to speak your mind on something that isn’t common in today’s culture. We are a rare breed. This week, ironically, their discussion is on modesty. While their videos are targeted for a younger audience, I connected with their message. I think that it was heart felt and beautiful. Modest is hottest.

Here is a link to their video:

It is hard to be modest in the way we dress, in what we watch, how we speak, and how we act. It is not impossible, but it can be done. It took me twice as long to shop today, because my confidence was low due to how I could be “sexy” and the fact it’s hard to find clothes for my figure. When it was all said and done I decided  I am going to dress the way I want to dress, and if people judge me because I am not sexy enough, well, I have no one to impress but myself, my parents and God.

So, go with modesty. In your actions, thoughts, and clothing. It is amazing what is does to your confidence and relationships with others and God.

Lessons Learned

If there is one thing in this world that really gets my blood going is liars. As I wrote that sentence, I heard my father’s voice, instead of my own. Growing up, my father always told us that if there was someone that he hated, it was a liar and growing up I sometimes didn’t understand why. As a young, naïve child, I would often think, “well sometimes lying keeps people’s feelings from getting hurt”.

Over this summer, someone lied to me, probably to keep my feelings from getting hurt, because well, this was a pretty big lie. I didn’t find out the truth until I stumbled upon it a couple of weeks later.  When I came across the truth, I was beyond hurt. I could not believe someone who I considered a friend, possibly more, could do something like that to me, and others as well. This person lied, but also purposely left out information, for what sake I will never find out because I moved to Tennessee a few weeks later and haven’t looked back.

I never addressed the issue, so that might make me a coward in some eyes, but in the same regard, I think that makes me strong as well. I could have easily called this person up, ripped them a new one, or told the person’s family what the person had done/is doing, I could’ve sought revenge, but I didn’t. I am living my life with that person in my rear view, moving forward with no regrets. Only lessons learned.

I learned many lessons through this incident and I thought I should share them because we all have found ourselves in positions of uncertainty when people lie to us. Thoughts race through our minds. Should I have done more? Should I have known? Should I not let the situation get out of control? Who should I tell? How should I handle it? So many thoughts, so little time, but also a lot of hurt all placed on top. Being lied to hurts and it breaks us down as individuals, but also the trust we put in others.

Lesson 1, it is so easy to trust people for me, that I need to be more careful in how I trust people. I should probably ask some more questions when I feel like something is a little off or if my gut is telling me that I should look into situations further. I had heard some things about this person, I probed, probably not enough, but I thought “this person would’ve told me, I trust this person”. Well, guess I couldn’t as well as I thought I could. Lesson learned.

Lesson 2, it is really easy to look for revenge as the first thing, but revenge has never been my thing, so forgive instead. Forgiving is really hard to do, but I forgive this person. Am I still mad at this person? Most certainly. I think it is okay to stay mad or disappointed at someone because they hurt you, but that is different than forgiving. I could hold a grudge, be mean to this person, or spread more lies myself, but where will that get me? Nowhere, so forgive. There is probably a reason this person lied to me and left out information, and that to me is the bigger issue; this person has insecurities that need to be addressed. Looking back, I feel sorry for this person, and they need God’s strength more than I ever will.  Lesson learned.

Lesson 3, its okay to leave people behind and pray for them instead of trying to help them in person through all of their problems. This sometimes can be very hard, but in this instance, I found it to be helpful to me because well, I honestly do not want to see this person again, but I will in October and it will be challenging, but we can’t always avoid our problems, we need to face them. I’ve prayed for this person a lot and to me, that is more beneficial than continuing to stay mad or say things to this person that I will regret.  Lesson learned.

Growing up we never want to hear the words “My parents were right” come out of our mouths, but in this case my dad was right. Lying is really bad and it really does make my blood boil. We all catch ourselves in situations where we could lie to ease someone’s pain, cover up something about ourselves, or try to make ourselves better. It’s really easy to lie, we’ve all done it, myself included, but it is very difficult to get ourselves out of the web of lies we build. When we get caught in a lie we lose the trust people instill in us. They become disappointed in us, they get mad at us, some people will seek revenge, and most of all people do not understand why we would do this to them. So why do we do it? How can we stop?

We need to be more confident in ourselves. We need to trust ourselves and be the best person that we can be.  That’s where lies in my opinion stem from; our inability to believe in ourselves. Start believing and stop lying about who we are, because God made us perfect in his eyes and no one else. That’s the only person we need to be. 

You're a beautiful person with great words. Thank you for being so loving and kind, it has not gone unnoticed.

Thank you so very much! I appreciate it!

Have a beautiful day!

What the World Needs Now…

Today I felt like I was walking around with a heavy heart. When I booted up my computer and checked the news this morning, my heart instantly dropped, not again. Not another person lacking so much love that they destroy the lives of others.

I find it fascinating to listen to theories, medical evidence, news highlights on why these people do what they do. I am not taking away from the science of it all or the facts behind the people reporting, I respect what they do, but a lot of times, I think they are missing the larger picture. Love.

Love is the most basic need of human beings. We all desire it in some way shape or form. When we love and are loved it can take us to highest of places, but when it is ripped from us in the form of neglect, a breakup, or when it is just lacking, it can take us to the darkest and most scariest of places. I can think back to when I have loved someone and they didn’t love me back. It absolutely tore me to pieces. But, I remembered that there were many more people who loved me just as beautifully as I thought I loved this person. Not all people have that realization like I did, and sometimes can take their lack of love out on innocent people, because their emotions get the best of them.

Today’s actions, and actions like this that happen far too often (and in my opinion are a flag for concern), all stem from the fact that these people in some way, shape or form lack a form of love. You don’t need a background check, profile, prison record, or life history to know that these people lack love. When we love and are loved, there is nothing that we cannot do.

I find myself a rare breed in today’s culture. As a Catholic, one of the many things I believe is that when you have God’s love, there is nothing you can’t do. If God is for us, who can be against us? For many that I encounter, it is a concept that is so incredibly hard to grasp. Even if it turns out when I die that there is no heaven and no God, at least I felt the greatest form of love, and that to me is worth it. I put trust in him because I honestly believe that HE invests in me and loves me and provides me with blessed life. That’s why I believe that the world needs more love. Love of any kind.

It’s so sad when people say they aren’t loved or have no felt love. They are missing a great deal.

But we can change that. WE can love more deeply and give love to others who so desperately need it. We can be the force that changes the way people see themselves and how they act around others. It’s chain reaction. I feel so alive when I am around people that emit love from inside of them. Its contagious and I want to love like they do. I focus on becoming better because I surround myself with people who are better than myself. We all have the ability to love.

But the real question is, how will you do it? How will you emit love to others? We can do it. We can be the light. For light brings hope even in the darkest of hours.

The Pact: The Power of Friendship

Avoidance. We all do it for certain reasons and for certain lengths of time. Since I have been down here I have been avoiding getting more involved in extracurriculars within the church down here. After discussing it at length with my friends Keira and Deidre, we finally dissected why I had been avoided what could be so beneficial.  

After this long discussion Keira and I made a pack that I would go to the graduate student group this Sunday and she in turn would also go to mass and go to a club meeting on campus. In the end we were both successful in our endeavors. I am continually reminded how great things can truly be if we just attempt and try things, even if we fail, instead of avoiding what is in front of us, for whatever reasons. For me I avoided getting more involved because I was scared, afraid people wouldn’t like me, and well, transitioning is difficult and it was just one more thing to add to my plate. After attending just the first fifteen minutes, I realized just how silly I had been because I knew right then and there that this is where I needed to be. It was something I was missing and when I left, I left with a lighter step and a smile on my face.

God has interesting ways of reminding us just where we are supposed to be and how he can place people in our lives to get us there. Without those emotional conversations with my two friends, I never would’ve gotten up the courage to walk through those doors tonight and experience a night of faith sharing; something that I have truly been missing. I am truly grateful for having Keira and Deidre in my life. What rays of sunshine who emit joy in all they do. More people should emulate these two women.

Slowly, but surely everything has been aligning for me. I am at a surreal peace with myself, my work, and those around me. It is truly beautiful.

"Oh, it’s all starting to come together
Stars are lining up like they should
Yeah, like I pictured, but even better….Its gonna be, yeah, its going to be real good"

- Keith Urban

Lighting the Fuse

For the past couple of weeks I have been eagerly anticipating the new release of Keith Urban’s new album Fuse. Every week there is something that occurs on the website, maybe a new song, an announcement, something further lighting the fuse towards the album release. I have been relating my life to this. I feel like every week something occurs in my life, further lighting my fuse. A fuse is not always connected to something fabulous, sometimes it can be dangerous. Personally, my fuse has been exciting, scary and filled with so many new experiences.  I cannot begin to describe how blessed I feel, but also how curious I am about, well everything.

This past weekend I got to light my fuse in a terms of dreams I have imagined about for years. Ever since I was a child, I have dreamed about going to Nashville. When I was about 12, I realized that I wasn’t going to get there on my ability to sing, so I had to find another way. This Friday I had the opportunity to do so, even though it was brief, it was magical.

I won an opportunity to see Keith Urban live in Nashville for a pre-album release concert. My friend Alyssa and I drove 2.5 hours for the special event. Driving into the city, I will always remember looking at that skyline for the first time, excited that I had finally made it. Not in the way most want to “make it” in Nashville, but I made it in my own, special way. As we parked the car, I noticed we were right by the Ryman Auditorium and immediately excitement ran through me, as I realized I was living my dream. We went down Broadway before the show and I honestly felt like I was having an out of body experience. Walking down Broadway, country music was playing everywhere, music I grew up on, music I have lived on, music that has gotten me to where I am today. I understood why people flock to this city to accomplish their dreams.

After dinner at a dive bar on Broadway, we headed back over the bridge to Cumberland Park to see Keith Urban. It felt strange not seeing Keith Urban with some member of my family, especially my dad, because that has been our thing, but nonetheless, I was beyond excited to be there. He opened the show with an intro jam to Long Hot Summer and from there it was just like any other Keith Urban show, non stop talent, lyrical genius, and energy that just becomes captured inside of you and radiates throughout you. The concert only lasted 45 minutes, so it wasn’t a true concert, but it was beautiful and memorable experience nonetheless.

My first Nashville experience was short, but it was perfect. It had a little bit of everything :)

Seeing Keith Urban Friday, my first UT football game Saturday, first girls night a couple of hours later, and then Catholic worship today, it is clear evidence that my fuse has been lit, an indication that I am where I am supposed to be.

Now off to continuing to light the fuse.

Phone calls

Phone calls. I honestly do not think we make enough of them these days. I find it so much easier to send a text, an e-mail or snapchat to my friends. Its convenient and in the case of snapchat maybe more fun. In the past two days I have had many phone calls, a majority of them being from my family asking me various questions, but two were from four of my friends.

Tonight, I was on the phone with three of my friends from college; Chelsea, Courtney and Amanda. While I couldn’t hear them half the time because they were on speaker phone and all trying to talk at once, it was great to hear the 3 voices I will always associate my college experience with. As we were talking I was reflecting on all of the crazy things we had participated in while we were at college and each memory I have with those three ladies brings two things to my face, 1. a smile and 2. A big laugh. Tonight was no different. There was laughter and there were smiles, at least on my face. I had been texting each of them individually and when I realized that the three of them were in the same room, I instantly wanted to call and be on the same line instead of having three different conversations. Yeah it was hectic trying to get a word in or listen, but it was worth it. All three of them are going places, whether they agree with me or not and it was so comforting to hear about how exciting their lives are and what they are doing or plan on doing. I couldn’t be more proud of my three friends.

Last night I  was on the phone with one of my closest and oldest friends, Christina. What a beautiful and energetic soul she is. I could hear the sound of life in her voice on the other end and it was like she was sitting right next to me on our way to work. I haven’t had a real conversation with her in weeks and it wasn’t until last night when I realized how much I missed having her in my life on a daily basis. Before she got her big kid job in NYC and I moved my life to Tennessee, we went to school together in Ithaca, her at IC and myself at Cornell, we lived 8 miles away from each other and worked together during the summer. It is easy to say Christina and I are attached at the hip in more ways than we realize. Being with her all the time, I easily took for granted of how great it was to be in her presence and how easy it was to have a conversation with her, because Christina, will never run out of things to say or advice to give. Sometimes I pick on her for it, but it is honestly something I truly admire about her; her ability to talk to anyone, hold a conversation, no matter the situation. When I close people out at first due to my initial shy and awkwardness, Christina opens the door and embraces all those she meets. I was reminded of this last night and we talked for over an hour and fifteen minutes, even after 25 minutes in we each “had to go” but somehow kept finding reasons to stay on the line and inform each other about what was going on in our ever changing lives. When I hung up the phone with Christina, my heart tugged a little bit because I realized how much I missed seeing her on a daily basis, but also how proud I was of her for all of the changes she is making to her life. Who would’ve thought that we would be where we are in our lives? We have both exceeded our expectations.

One of my greatest fears when I moved down here was that I would loose touch with my friends back home and have the inability to make new ones. Slowly, but efficiently, I am working on making new friends here and I think I have been doing a decent job at keeping in touch with my friends back home. I have found that I feel better about myself when I have an actual conversation with my friends and family rather than another form of communication. Nothing is or rarely is lost in translation and communication is usually longer, which I enjoy. I catch up on what I am afraid to loose and life is better. One phone call at a time.