Saturday, December 26, 2015

A year without Santa

      Santa has come and gone for another year. In the blink of an eye all the tinsel, lights, and jingle bells will be stuffed away, awaiting their next debut. And we will sludge through another dull winter praying for spring. As I sit beside my little Christmas tree trying to soak in the last little Christmas light, love, and magic tears flood down my cheeks. Christmas seems a little (or a lot) different as I get older. Some, or most, of the magic has been replaced with to do list and obligations.
     But this season, as I turn off my lights on the tree for the last time, I'm not ready to pack up my Christmas spirit of the lessons Santa brought in his big red toy sack. This year I vow to not pack up my belief in the impossible. If during Christmas I can believe in flying reindeer and toy making elves then I can choose to believe in a world where we can end human trafficking, hunger, and prejudice. I can choose to believe in the world where there is magic and possibility around every corner and in every story.
    I refuse to pack up my belief in humanity. Even the darkest, coldest person can be reached with love. Even if they ba humbug as we try to get close-every human deserves compassion, forgiveness, love, and respect. As Charles Dickens has shown us for years and years the most unreachable soul is not a lost cause until they're dead in the ground.
      I refuse to pack up the spirit of giving. Realistically I cannot buy gifts all year round because well I'm a college kids and I'm poor. But there are some things I can give. I can give my time. I can put down my cell phone and give my undivided attention to those around me. I can give people my word and mean it, even if it's not fun or convenient. I can give my family and friends my unending love and support...investing in the things that mean the most to them. And when necessary I can give forgiveness. Not that cheap "forgive and don't forget" brand but the genuine forgiven, forgotten and loved brand.
     Every year the very end of the Christmas Eve service is always my favorite. The lights go down and the pastors each light their candles, passing it down the rows...from the front all the way to the back. As the light travels further and further back the light overtakes the darkness until it's just as bright as when the lights were on. This year I'm taking my Christmas candle with me all year and maybe as I travel throughout this year I can light a few more candles as I go. Who knows, maybe by the time Santa makes his grand appearance next year the world will be a little brighter place...even before his arrival.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Confident women.

     I should be working on finals...I should be studying my butt off to finish the semester strong but I seem to be having a hard time finding the motivation to finish up. This weird thing happens every year around Christmas, I get super down and depressed feeling. I know. Weird. It should be the opposite. I should be full of Christmas cheer and, as my favorite elf states, "singing loudly for all to hear." But instead I find myself picking fights with those I love most, revisiting painful memories over and over, dealing with nightmares, and just feeling completely overcome by a feeling of not being good enough. I follow some of the most amazing women on instagram: researchers, politicians, actresses, models, advocates, travelers, and so much more. As I flip through their pictures I find myself constantly think: "gosh she is stunning" "she looks so fun" "she looks so happy" "she has so many adventures" "she has done so much"...and in the midst of these good thoughts about them I find myself consumed with bad thoughts about me: "wow gained that freshman fifteen three years ago and the sophomore seventeen after that top that off with the junior jiggle and the senior slug" "I am so boring" "I am not smart enough" "I am unhappy" "Why can't I go places?" and it is exhausting and it is so wrong. I have forgotten how to admire the beauty that another has to offer the world without diminishing my own. And then it hit me. As I admire and awe of the dazzling women behind the screen I discover the one thing that each of these women, in vastly different fields and from different ethnicities, cultures, looks, skills, and lives, has in common. Confidence. And that confidence makes all the difference in their lives and, when I embrace it, in I have compiled a list of things confident women should have:

Confident women should have the ability to see another's beauty without questioning her own.

Confident women should be proud of their brains, intelligence and smarts without being pretentious or know-it alls.

Confident women should know how to love a man without needing him to love her.

Confident women should be able to argue without demeaning.

Confident women should know how to speak up and make their voice heard without talking over those around them.

Confident women should embrace their quirks and little mistakes without accepting the bad things in their lives as unchangeable/that is just how they are.

Confident women should be full of grace to forgive but never be a doormat to those around them.

Confident women know when to stay and when to leave.

Confident women laugh at life but are also serious workers when they need to be.

Confident women embrace the stress of life as fuel for living and not insurmountable wall.

Confident women smile...a lot.

Confident women love their body and what they currently have in themselves but they never quit striving to be better than they were yesterday.

Confident women love with abandon but protect their hearts as precious.

Confident women never dumb themselves down to please those around them but they also never dumb down those around them to make themselves feel pleased.

Confident women cultivate their passions but never quit looking for new things to be passionate about.

Confident women never hold a grudge.

Confident women enjoy the fine things in life, the simple things in life, and all of those things in between.

Confident women speak of someone without talking ABOUT someone.

Confident women take care of themselves but aren't too proud to let others help.

Confident women do it for them not for others.

Confident women "work for a cause not for applause"

Confident women are proud of who they are but are never prideful.

Confident women redefine humility.

Confident women don't need anyone to tell them they are worth it.

Confident women chase their dreams but they also relish the little, still moments.

Confident women are true to themselves.

Confident women just are.

So, take that chance, darling. Be a dreamer, a doer, an adventurer. Rest, run, relax. Dance, laugh, rekindle old friendships and spark new ones. Be dazzling, be daring, and be you. Let that confidence build and then leave footprints all over the world....never be afraid to let the world know you are here and you are proud of it.