Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Lately, I've been listening to a new song by one of my favorite bands, Needtobreathe. They are fantastic, you should take a listen. They manage to cross over various genres and break the mold in every possible way. All of their songs leave me breathless. This particular song, called "Multiplied," has been moving around in my brain and my heart and making some serious waves that must break out and put themselves on paper. The lyrics are as follows:

"Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us, we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wildfires, singing your name
God of mercy, sweet love of mine,
I have surrendered to your design
May this offering stretch across the sky
And these hallelujahs be multiplied."

About 2 weeks ago, as I was struggling with my friends and my family through some very difficult terrain, I heard this song for the first time. It has moved me in an inexplicable way. I wish I could put my finger on it - the music? The harmonies? The beat? The lyrics? I don't know. What I do know is that I can't stop listening to it, and when I hear it, I get that familiar lump in my throat and I feel like I'm transcending everything - all the pain and the sorrow and the suffering and everything. These words have been making their rounds back and forth between my head and my heart, doing some serious renovating and remodeling. I'm going to attempt to put this into words, although I'm sure I shall fail miserably.

Recently, some of my closest friends have experienced the ultimate depths of heartache and sorrow. One friend is coping with the loss of a close friend. Another friend is working with family to deal with a tragic loss. Another friend is at a tremendous crossroads about her path in life. These experiences bring out the worst in us, I have come to learn. We find that our strength is stretched in ways we never imagined it could be. Pain has the power to pluck us up from our comfortable places and shake us so we descend into the abyss like salt from a shaker. Suddenly, our shoulders are sagging and we are so ragged and worn we scarcely recognize ourselves.

I've spoken here about my faith before. Anyone who knows me knows that it's a defining feature of my life. I'm not an "Everything happens for a reason" kind of Christian, nor am I a "God has a plan" kind of Christian, nor am I a "Let go and let God" kind of Christian. I'm not going to try to make you feel better with some silly words. I don't know what kind of believer I am. I do know that most of the things that I believe make people uncomfortable, because I'm a little radical. I have really struggled for answers for my friends who have been facing life's biggest challenges and overwhelming pain. The truth is, I don't have answers. What I do have....is this song.

"Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us, we cannot contain...."
To me, this sounds like the experience of pain. It bursts insides us and sometimes we feel as if we may explode from the sheer weight of our sorrow. God takes this pain - in whatever way you allow God to take your pain - and holds you and caresses you and polishes you until you are bursting with love like diamonds: radiant and impossibly beautiful. It may take months; it may take years. The process may last your entire life. It is a process.

"Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wildfires, singing your name..."
Pain seeks us out. It attacks us when we are least prepared. It waits in the corner until we've finally let our guards down and given up the fight for the day, then it pounces. It's all consuming, like a California wildfire. Picture for a moment being trapped in a fire like that. I think there is a point where you give up and think, "This is the end." Then you look up, and one brave firefighter is breaking through the flames and shining a flashlight and looking....looking....looking for you. Shouting your name like her life depends upon finding you and bringing you out of the blaze. You've been found, and you've been saved.

"God of mercy, sweet love of mine, I have surrendered to your design..."
I will never get tired of thinking of God as my love. It has nothing to do with human love. It has everything to do with the idea that, at the end of the day, even if I have let every single human being down, there is something that remains true to me, regardless of my ridiculous and thoughtless mistakes. As far as God's design, I don't mean "predestination." I mean that we are created in God's image, so our pain, our loss, our depths of despair are NOT places that we travel to alone. We have the constant company of the most eternal vibration of love and light, the ultimate antidote to that horrible poison, pain.

"May this offering stretch across the sky, and these hallelujahs be multiplied..."
I think that, sometimes, giving up our pain, loosening our grip on it and throwing it into the void, can be something of an offering. We're finally dragging ourselves out into the light and saying okay, I think I'm ready to let go of this. Maybe we're not actually ready, but this initial gesture is such a violent thrill of release, such an earthquake of bottled-up emotions, that we're ready to begin the process. When we can begin this process, perhaps it is our way of shouting 'hallelujah!' to the universe. Maybe, every time we are able open our fingers and release a little bit of whatever is hurting us, we are crying out to God, "Thank you! Thank you for creating a space for me to be broken, to be only parts and not the whole, to be a fraction of myself! Thank you for running into the fire to save me when no one else could save me. Thank you for gently rounding out my rough and painful edges so I could be radiant like a diamond. Thank you for being a light in dark places, when all other lights have gone dim." We learn to say this over and over again, and our faith thrives through our expressions of grief, loss, pain, and less-than. Maybe our imperfections make us strong. Let these hallelujahs be multiplied.


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Psychology of 'Frozen'

I love the movie 'Frozen.' I bet you can guess who loves it more....my little JuneBug. She sings along in the most hilarious monotone, singing the same line over and over again: "Let the storm rage OOOOHHHHN the cold never bothered me annnyyyyywaaaaaay!"

I have watched this movie so many times I lost count. I like that it isn't like traditional Disney movies in that the hero (er, heroine) is a woman. And not just one woman - sisters! There's also the perfect response to Anna and Hans' request to get married: "You can't marry a man you just met." Thank you, Disney! You're getting with the times.

There's something that really irks me about this movie, however. Now, as a precursor, I know that this is a fictional story and that Disney has never paid much attention to the psychological ramifications of their characters' stories. Regardless, I think that the psychology of 'Frozen' deserves a little bit more conversation.....

First of all, Elsa. She was born with this pretty cool power, to make snow and ice with her hands. She and her sister share some very special moments making Olaf the snowman and turning their ballroom into a winter wonderland. However, when Anna gets a little too excited, Elsa, in her haste, tries to save her and ends up striking her in the head with her ice powers. Her parents have to rush to the trolls to erase the memories of magic, and Anna is scarred forever with the strip of white in her hair. What the movie doesn't really emphasize is how Elsa is also scarred forever. I'm sorry, but if I wounded my sister to the point where she almost died, I would be pretty traumatized, especially if it was accidental. The movie glosses over that, and jumps to their parents' stigmatizing Elsa's power, basically shutting their entire castle down for fear of her, not to mention the extremely dangerous phrase her parents teach her: "Conceal, don't feel." Then they basically close her off from the world in her room, alone with no toys and no contact with the outside world. If that happened now, the parents would be arrested and it would be plastered all over the news.

Anna, on the other hand, goes about her life as if nothing had happened, because in her memory-loss induced state (thanks, trolls!), nothing actually happened. She prances through the hallways, talking to pictures, begging Elsa to come out and play, not knowing that Elsa could potentially kill her. O.k., so that's exaggerating a little....but is it really? Anyway, the years go on, Elsa still hasn't come out of her room, and Anna is still talking to pictures and running around an essentially empty castle, singing.

Cue the sadness.

Anna and Elsa's parents go on a trip. As a parting gift, Elsa gets gloves, because hey! let's make you feel even more weird about your magic powers before we leave on this trip that we might not return from and ostracize you just a little bit more. We don't see their parents saying goodbye to Anna. SPOILER ALERT: Anna and Elsa's parents die on their trip. Their boat is swallowed by the ocean during a storm. You can kind of gauge based on the physical appearance of the girls how many years have gone by between the 'accident' and their parents dying. I would say approximately 10 years. Maybe 12.

Soooooo Anna has been running around an empty castle, singing to her sister through closed doors, without a clue as to why her sister won't come out and play with her. For all she knows, Elsa could be dead. Elsa has been shunned, emotionally destroyed, and shut down, all without any human contact whatsoever. This has been happening for 10 TO 12 YEARS. Then their parents die in a sudden and unexpected accident.

Doesn't this sort of sound like the beginning of some kind of horror movie??

Moving onto coronation day. Anna is awoken on coronation day by one of the servants. She leaps out of bed and runs around the castle singing excitedly about interacting with real people again. Can we take a moment to wonder how Anna even knows how to interact with real people anymore? They reduced the staff in the house so much so that Anna's only companions growing up were paintings. I'm sure the king and queen were far too busy running the kingdom to spend any time with their children. Elsa was busy being locked in her room, so Anna really grew up with no playmates or companions. How does she even know how to talk to people? And then she starts singing about meeting a husband! I suppose in the land of Disney, this makes perfect sense, because most of the other Disney princesses fell in love in less than 24 hours.

While Anna is prancing around using her brilliant imagination to talk to her future non-husband, Elsa is busy reciting the very wise (NOT) life advice her parents left her with before they died: "Conceal, don't feel," "Don't let them in, don't let them know," "Put on a show," etc. I'm wondering how Elsa hasn't developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities) or Schizophrenia or another mental illness. She has basically been in solitary confinement for at least a decade, with only her powers and the memory of almost killing her sister to keep her company. What has she been doing in there? (Let me just tell you, I would be sleeping.)

The actual coronation party. Here's how Frozen really should have portrayed this scene: Elsa would be in the corner, having a panic attack, and Anna would be talking to the painting of Joan of Arc. Neither of them would be able to carry on a human conversation. Dancing? Out of the question. How/when did they learn? Addressing the whole crowd? Not a chance. Neither of them has addressed an actual human being in years.

I'm not going to go into the rest of the movie, but it just keeps getting better....or maybe it's worse? Kristoff was raised by rocks, so he and Anna are a match made in heaven. Elsa made her way up to the most isolated spot in the land, which makes perfect sense. "People? Nah, I'd rather hang out with snow." Kristoff and Anna should have gotten married with the trolls and just stayed there, being weird together, and Elsa should have been allowed to stay in the mountains, 'letting it go' for the rest of time.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


As Mother's Day, my daughter's 4th birthday, and the end of my first extremely trying year at my job approaches, I find myself overwhelmed by all that I have accomplished, and both encouraged and terrified at what I am capable of doing with my life. I feel tremendous power yet tremendous fear at what kind of woman I am becoming. The sense of pride in my life is immeasurable, that is certainly true, especially when I look at my daughter and the wonderful creature she is becoming or when I tell people that I live with my mom and tears come to my eyes because our relationship is one of a kind.

The fear, though....the fear just sits in the corner, watching this mounting pride. I can see it calculating its next move, looking for a foothold for destruction and pain. I never feel overwhelmed by it, but I am very aware of it. I try not to let the fear overcome the pride and the capabilities I possess. I try to look at my life, especially the past year, and see that what I have done is greater than any fear that ever existed. And yet....fear.

Then yesterday, I saw this picture that my mom had posted on her facebook page. It's a close-up of her with my grandmother, and as I gazed at both of them, beaming their megawatt smiles right into my soul, a lump formed in my throat, just as it is now as I write this. Their stunning faces, filled with wrinkles and stories, tremendous love and indescribable pain, mirror me and my story, my love, and my pain. I see in their eyes a level of courage and determination that I once thought I might never know, but realize I already possess. I notice in their smiles the kind of optimism that the world has tried to shut down, but I radiate with that 'delusional optimism.' I can feel their love for one another practically bursting out of the picture, and I feel that love rain down on me like that first powerful springtime soak that starts the process of new life.

The fear I sometimes ache with, from the overwhelming weight of life and womanhood, is staring me down from its hiding place in the corner, but as I look at this picture, I laugh in that direction. The women before me, who have so gracefully conquered this life and the same fear I face now, are strong pillars of love and light that have never ceased to guide me through the darkest storms. The women in this picture are strength embodied, pictures of grace so powerful they make lions seem tame. This is my history. These women and I are intertwined through our histories, our red-hot red-headed tempers, our love and our loss, and most importantly, our courage.

We have known divorce, death, physical suffering, job loss, loss of children, the pain of moving away from those you love, and loss of self. Yet, we have also known unity, love, beauty, growth, strength, new friendships, togetherness, and self-empowerment. The most important part is that we have known them together. We have forged the bonds of love and life hand-in-hand, knowing that we are never alone, even though sometimes distance may pull us away from one another.

I look into the eyes of my powerful yet incredibly sweet mother and I am thankful that she taught me how to love everyone, no matter their station, class, creed, or spirituality.

I look into the eyes of my sister and I see strength that no one else on earth could possibly possess. I see her fiery will to succeed, to prove everyone wrong, and I am thankful that she taught me how to be true to myself.

I look into the eyes of my beautiful grandmother, who still calls me her baby and is constantly reminding me of how proud she is that I am hers, and I see courage that goes rushing headfirst into battle every single day. Despite some of the physical difficulties she faces, her unfailing courage and her dedication to her family are second to none.

With the power, sweetness, strength, and courage of these women at my side, I take one last glance into the corner where fear is now cowering, and I smile. I smile because, this Mother's Day, this year, I am not afraid. I know where I come from. I am a mother from a long line of radiant, powerful mothers, and I am fully capable of guiding myself wherever I want to go.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lenten Beauty

For Lent this year, I am giving up makeup. It's not altogether too difficult, as I only wear a little, sometimes more depending on the occasion. The tough part is giving up all the negative thoughts and actions associated with makeup, namely poor self-confidence, shallow vanity, and a worldly self-concept. Those are hefty things, I know. Let me walk you through my motivation for all this.

Since I was young, I have been obsessed with the idea of beauty, specifically made-up beauty. I loved to watch soap operas with my mom because the women were always made up so beautifully. I would stop at makeup counters in department stores and just stand in awe at the women putting the makeup on. Even in middle school and high school, I would watch infomercials about makeup because it fascinated me so much. I went through periods of time during high school when I would experiment with heavy makeup, wanting to see how much I could change my outward appearance, hoping maybe perhaps it would make me a different person underneath. What did I want to change? I still don't know. In college, I started wearing less and less makeup because it began to bother my skin. I became more comfortable in my facial nakedness pretty much out of necessity. I still enjoyed putting makeup on other people and watching other people do their own makeup, though. I loved the dramatic transformation; looking like one person one minute and after a few brush strokes and dabs with sponges, looking like someone else completely.

All this fed into a rather negative view of myself that accelerated throughout college and fully developed prior to having my daughter. I was unhappy with the choices I was making in life so I tried to supplement with makeup and became more and more obsessed with my appearance. It was only after I had Juniper that I started gaining confidence in myself through my abilities versus through my appearance. I became encouraged by all the things I could accomplish as a mother and as a woman, and as I went through my divorce, my inner strength slowly became the epicenter of my beauty. I started to realize, through compliments about my appearance on good days and the presence of energy and a deep sense of personal mission, that beauty does in fact begin in the soul and radiate outward.

So the old saying isn't true. Beauty is NOT only skin deep. Beauty is anything you want it to be. For me, beauty is strength. Beauty is resilience. Beauty is kindness. Beauty is honesty. Beauty is integrity. You can't purchase it at Sephora, or in the makeup aisle at Target. Reading magazines won't give you any secrets or tricks to beauty, and you won't even find it in the latest skin care line.

For Lent, I've chosen to give up so much more than makeup. I've chosen to give up that negative self-image. I've chosen to give up finding beauty in a bottle or in a magazine. I've chosen to find beauty in the One who created my beauty specifically for me. This beauty transcends all else:

"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."

"She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed."

This. THIS is beauty:

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come."

So in the morning, instead of blush, I will put on strength and dignity. Instead of eyeliner, I will put on the beauty of a gentle spirit. Instead of mascara, I will put on pleasantness and peace. Instead of looking at the mirror and admiring my worldly mask, I will look into my heart and see that what has been planted there is good, and I will praise the Lover of my soul.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Why I Rock My Daughter To Sleep.

I have been struggling with sleep issues with my 3-year-old lately. She's been waking up in the night, having difficulty falling asleep, and waking up really early (5:30, 6ish) even when she goes to bed later.

I have adjusted her bedtime. I have changed when we eat. I have cut liquids off at 7. I have read books, sang songs, cried it out, let her play, yelled, whispered, rubbed her back...everything you can imagine. It really hasn't made much of a difference.

I've also gotten a plethora of advice from other moms facing the same problem, either now or in the past with their own children. I so appreciate hearing what other moms have been through, because that's where I gather my knowledge. Books are great, but they are not always written by someone who has wiped boogers on their pant leg or eaten a half-chewed piece of pizza off a high chair tray or read 25 books before bedtime. I rely heavily on the experience of other mothers because they've been there.

All these things, as much as I appreciate them, have not particularly helped with the sleep issues. And as much as I try, I just can't help rocking my daughter to sleep, despite chronic back pain and interrupted sleep.

The reason may shock you. Make sure you're sitting down.

I made a choice to become a mother. Maybe a hurried choice, a less-than-intelligent choice, perhaps, based on the circumstances surrounding her conception. I may have jeopardized a lot of things in my life, but the fact is that it was my choice to carry my child and keep her. I chose her. She didn't choose me. Her life, the lessons she learns, the morals she keeps, the core of her character - I am in charge of building and shaping that. I am the one she will look to when she falls in love. I am the one she will watch fail, fall, and hopefully stand up and try again. I am the one she will cry to when she loses. I am the one who will hold her when she is scared. I am the one she will call in the middle of the night for advice. I will be there for her, because I chose to be. From the moment I knew she existed, I chose her. She is my daughter - my sun, my moon, and my stars.

From the moment we start our day, there are distractions - work, play, homework, toys, more work, plans, etc etc etc. Practically every moment of the day is filled with things that beg to be accomplished, and typically on a deadline. I dedicate myself to those tasks, because I'm charged to do so. June does a great job of keeping up with me, and she is usually my little helper. She's along for the ride, but she's often in the side car, hanging out on the fringes of the day, grabbing pieces of me as they become available. At the end of the day, we unwind in our own ways, sometimes watching a movie, sometimes playing, but I'm not always as engaged as I'd like to be. There doesn't seem to be a time of day that belongs to just Juniper and I, alone with each other to nurture and to love, until bedtime. At bedtime, it's just she and I, reading, rocking, and relaxing together. I've come to realize that this time is sacred to me - a ritual, if you will, of mother and daughter togetherness.

I've decided that I don't care if I have interrupted sleep. I don't care if I have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning [as long as there is coffee.] I don't care if my back hurts or if I have to sing a million songs at bedtime. I will rock my daughter to sleep because she needs me to. That is the one time of the day when it is just us, just her and I, separated from the noise and the distractions of the world. Neither of us has to be to work, or a playdate, or the store. It's just me, June, and the creak of the rocking chair, as I breathe in the smell of her hair and she slowly succumbs to sleep in my arms.

That is why I rock my daughter to sleep. I chose her, and I will choose her every day for the rest of her life.

Brooke + JuneBug

Monday, January 13, 2014

What We're Made Of.

Trials and tribulations. Difficulties. Catastrophes. Pain and sorrow. Anguish. These are not places we like to be. We don't wake up in the morning and think, "Today, I'm looking forward to some good, old-fashioned pain." We avoid situations that may cause us heartache, because we would much rather feel happiness and joy. We would rather have a smile on our face than a scowl.

Let me argue something, something I heard over the weekend that brought me so much clarity I had to squint.

"Where there is pain, there is meaning."

 Let that sit with you for a minute. Let it make you uncomfortable. Lean into it, lean into it so much that you break under the pressure. It might scare you, to let yourself stare pain in the face. Marinade in it, marry it, embrace it. Do you allow yourself to truly be in your pain? Maybe you let it sneak under the door, but do you let it meet you in the dark, vulnerable, raw places in your heart? When you let the pain seep in like the rain seeps into the dry earth, you will find a tiny, incandescent miracle - the pain will ebb and flow like the waves, but as the tide fades, where the waves once crashed on the shore, there is clarity.  There is a clarity and a meaning that you have never known. We run away from pain because it's like ripping off a band-aid; immediately painful and something we don't look forward to. What is beneath the band-aid, though? Is the wound still aching? Is it still an open, angry gash? No. The wound is healing. So it is with our heartaches, our anguish, our sorrows. Allow yourself to be in the middle of the pain. Stand in the storm, let the rain pelt your face and dance with the lightning, quake with the thunder, because after the storm, you will look around and see the new life it has brought.

The miracle of pain is that it teaches us what we're made of. I'm a youth group leader, and this weekend we had our annual retreat. The girls in my group along with my co-leader talked about this idea of building our houses. Everything that we do, every decision we make, are bricks in the house we have to live in. If you build your house out of broken promises, bitterness, resentment, anger, and unresolved pain, when a catastrophe strikes, your house will crumble. Conversely, if you build your house out of truth, hope, love, and most of all, strength, you will find that, with every new pain, your house gets stronger and stronger.

So be in the pain. Be in the sorrow. Don't wallow in it - rather, let it wash over you. Explore it. Talk to it. Experience it and allow it to ruminate in your soul. How you react to it, and the strength you gain from each experience, will be bricks in your house.

Build a good one.


Brooke + JuneBug

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I've never been one to make really concrete resolutions. I've always known that life happens, and things get pushed and pulled and squeezed and changed and trimmed and suddenly, you've forgotten your resolution completely. The last few years, my resolutions have been more like paradigm shifts than tangible re-purposing of my day-to-day actions. Last year, I didn't even make a resolution. I intentionally said, "Nope," and just kept going. I think that, by refusing to make an intentional change, my mind sort of subconsciously made one for me.

This past year was one of ups and downs. I learned that I can push myself to the edge, but instead of just balancing there, looking down at the abyss, fearing for my life, I can jump off, and fly. I learned that I can be happy in whatever situation I'm in. I learned that things aren't always what they seem, but that I can (and should) be true to myself especially in those situations. I feel like I did a lot of soul-growth in 2013. A lot of it I kept to myself, because I felt like sharing it with too many people would jinx it. Looking back, I feel like not sharing it would be criminal, so here it is. Three resolutions (read: paradigm shifts) for 2014.

1. Know Yourself.

More often, as I get older, I find myself in situations that require a lot of self-knowledge. I'm confronted with new people, new places, questions requiring answers, etc. All of these things demand that I understand, to the very core, WHO I AM and WHAT I WANT OUT OF LIFE. It's easy to forget this, and to do what you think others expect you to do, or what feels right in that particular circumstance. When you find yourself in these situations, try to think about your future self, and what you would think of this particular choice looking back on it. Would you be proud? Or would you be ashamed? Would you make the same choice in different company? Or is this choice a response to your present company?

I sometimes feel setbacks in this area. I feel like I really know myself and who I am and what I want out of life, then I have to make a huge decision and I'm really stumped. These are the things that make us grow. Those hard questions that feel like they take eternities to answer? You're learning who you are in the midst of that decision. Getting to know yourself is nothing like getting to know other people. You ask other people what they're favorite food is. You ask about their political views and their family and their past relationships. You ask about their favorite movies and their children. You ask yourself what makes you happy. You ask about your insecurities and your temptations and your shame. You ask about your purpose and your intentions. Learn to really listen to your responses to these questions. Pay attention when confronted with difficulties - your response is part of who you are, the building blocks of the house you have to live in forever. Answer well, and pay attention.

2. Give.

 This is something that has become increasingly more important to me as I get older. I need to preface this with a disclaimer about things. Every now and then, I look around my room, my house, my life, and I reflect on how much I have. Friends, I call this perspective. I almost always have this moment of tremendous clarity when I realize how many things I have. Things are so troublesome. They create clutter, they cloud your brain, they make you covet other things, and they make you want more things. This past year, I looked at all my things and then imagined that those things were all tangible love. Love that I could give away. Love that I could share freely. Love that I could use to express my feelings. As I began to do this more regularly, a radical shift began to take place. I started to realize that I could give away my things and still have more than enough love to give away, plus keep some for myself. That leads me onto this idea of giving.

Giving doesn't have to be some great big elaborate show, where you sacrifice everything you have so that another person can be happy, and everyone claps and says what a spectacular human being you are. It is rather a smaller giving, for a bigger reward. Giving doesn't always come in the form of giving things away. You can give someone your time. You can give someone your attention. You can give someone your love. These are things that money cannot buy. It's wonderful to give a coat to someone who doesn't have one, or shoes, or money, or food. These are commendable, worthwhile things. However, sometimes, the greatest gifts are the ones that cannot be measured. For many people, the greatest gifts are the ones they didn't even know they needed. The beautiful thing about giving is that, as the giver, you are always rewarded just as greatly as the person receiving your gift. Just give. Give your time, give your hands, give your heart, give your love, as much of it as you can, as often as possible.

3. Be Happy.

This sounds so impossibly simple. It's easy to be happy. Is it really, though? I would argue that it's easier to be irritable. It's easier to complain than it is to count your blessings. One thing I've learned this year about being happy is that I have to constantly choose it. I am easily bogged down by pain, drama, sadness, anger, etc. I have made an intentional effort this year to look critically at each of those situations and find something that makes me happy, or something positive. Amazingly, each time I practice this, it makes the situation seem less awful. Even in the face of grief, finding something that makes me smile makes everything seem more manageable.

The same applies for the way you look at yourself. When you look in the mirror, do you instantly see your flaws? Stop it. Look instead for 2 or 3 things you like about yourself, every time you look in the mirror. Say those things out loud, over and over again, every day. Between this practice, and choosing happiness, I've found that my outlook on life is so much better. I find joy in nearly everything. I more confidently accept challenges. I know that I am of great worth, and I know that I have a lot to offer others.

I don't know if you will find the same clarity, the same strength in these 'resolutions' as I have, but I wanted to share them, just in case. I hope that your year is blessed.


Brooke + JuneBug