Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Realizations of Me

Things I have learned about myself as of late...

1) I am fairly patient with others, and not at all patient with myself.  Why are we often more cruel to ourselves than to others?  Honestly, I think I have spent so much time in the past few years beating myself up with negative, internal comments or thoughts, and I've finally learned how detrimental that can be to my progression.  I have learned the power in positive thinking and positive self-speak.  When I am helping someone else with a project or self-improvement, I recognize it's a journey and encourage them to be kind to themselves and show patience... However, with myself I have a tendency to demand insta-results... It's unfair to my mindset.  I'm letting go of the impatience I have with myself in all areas of my progression- my fitness journey, my music, my emotional understanding of myself, etc... I deserve the kindness with myself that I give to others, and, "Life ain't a track meet, it's a marathon."

2) I have trouble slowing down.  I walk fast - I drive fast - I move fast.. and I struggle to slow down and just move at a "normal" pace.  A few of my friends have commented about this over the past few years, but I realized this more so at the amusement park this past month.  I was almost always walking way ahead of my family and a few times conscientiously made an effort to slow down... It was rough.  Haha!  I'm not gonna say I couldn't do it, because I could... but my feet and heart just pulled me forward and kept my hustling and moving quickly.  I like to move quickly... and then take a moment and stop to catch the sunset or amazing moment.  In fact, one night in Florida, my brother, Cami, and I went to the park alone and on the way walking there, I just stopped and moved off the path... There was an Opera singer across the little river singing and sun was setting in the sky.  I said, "let's just stop a moment..." and we just listened and looked - stopped the world down for a second.  I don't mind stopping - not at all - I just mind that when there's movement, I don't seem to wanna move slowly... My goal?  Take a walk in nature every day, even if only for 5-10 minutes, and just let the moments get lost... embrace slowing down for a few. 

3) I don't fear a lot anymore, genuinely I have given the majority of my fear away... the one exception is I still fear wasting time, which I admittedly believe comes back to age.  This is interesting in that I have found little "time wasters" in my life and struggled to give them up at times.  However, overall, I have this fear of giving my time to things that may or may not turn out how I see them.  That being said, I had the realization that I am so grateful many things HAVEN'T turned out as I planned... It's all about trusting that the man upstairs truly knows what is best and trusting YOU in your decisions to go after the things you want in life.  If you want something, go for it... He'll stop you if it's wrong.  I know this, but I think I recently needed some reminders.  My plan is to cease thinking in terms of age- age really is going to be "just a number, after all - but really.

4) I am a strong woman.  I like to be tough.  I am also a marshmallow.  I've always said I'm "not a crier," and I'm not a crier in certain aspects.  I don't often cry over death.  I don't often cry over pain.  However, I cry during Pixar movies.  I cry when a song is so beautiful it speaks to what I'm going through or feeling.  I cry when I am really, really hurt or sad emotionally.  I cry when I feel a spiritual awakening moment.  It use to make me feel ashamed because I saw it as weak... I'm beginning to see it as a strength.  This does not mean I'm about to open the floodgates so everyone can watch me weep... but I'm going to embrace the beauty of tears when I need them and of just being an emotionally driven individual in general.


Song of the Day: I'm currently obsessed with this Ed Sheeran and Tori Kelly's song, "I Was Made For Loving You."  It's a beautiful song and I had a blast covering it this past week... check out my version here and then look up the original. Great song - enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Things That I KNOW.

I know my Savior lives.  I know He lives and that He undoubtably loves me NO MATTER WHAT... He is in my corner.

I know my Father in Heaven wants me to succeed, and will guide me through all things in my life if I let Him - if I listen.  I have faith that He will lead me through my trails and keep me safe and protected if I merely give over my trust and faith to Him.  I have had trouble doing this in my life - REALLY trusting the Lord and not trying to control every aspect of my life.  These past few months, with everything that has happened in my life, I have HAD to give over a lot more control... It was HARD.  It IS hard sometimes... but once I do it, life is SO much more simple...

I know the Lord is there to catch me when I fall.  I know my Heavenly Father has sent a Savior to redeem me and even the playing field... through Him, I can do ALL things.  I can overcome all the proverbial and legitimate bull that life throws my way.  I CAN do hard things...

I've been doing morning meditation for the past six months, and let me tell you that one mantra I've been using is, "I am strong.  I am independent.  I am free.  I can do hard things."  It is through my Savior I have come to actually believe these morning statements.  I AM strong.  I AM independent.  I AM free.  I CAN do hard things..... because of HIM.

"What is impossible with men, is possible with God..." - Luke 18:27 --> My favorite.

Truth.  That is what this statement is - complete truth.

Another thought of truth - "A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles."  I could use s few of those- we all could... and so I'm taking the time to say THANK YOU to the man that matters most - the man that makes it all happen.  ALL things are possible with God...

Song of the Day:  I have so many current song obsessions - choosing one is rough.  It must be done, however, so.... here's a girly anthem for summer that will drive most men nuts.  It's one of my current running and slow-drive jams!  Here is G.RL. with "Ugly Heart."  LOVE - Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Half a Year.

Six months from today, I will be 30 years-old.  That's right - 30.

That's a third of 90.  That's half of 60.  Need me to do more math, because I can...

Point is, I have 6 months to do some epic shiz in attempt to make this the most epic birthday year ever because of the person I will be at that 30 year mark.  I've already made some incredibly big and poignant changes in the past two years, but things have gotten tighten up.  To quote a million rappers and famous athletes, "It's about to get real..."

Not because it wasn't real before, but because it's time for a higher level.  I'm not even gonna say, once the aneurysm is gone I'll get going... I'm starting TODAY.  Just watch the next six months play out... I'm ready for big things.

It's documented.  I'm accountable.

That is all.

Song of the Day:  I discovered this girl the other evening - well, I think I had heard her before, but I finally listened to her whole CD - and I adore her.  I adore her sound, songs, and style... Here is Banks with "Beggin For Thread."  Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Angiograms and Happy Dances!

Today, I learned what an Angiogram is, and how in-depth it can be... WHY did I learn this you ask?

Today, I had an Angiogram.

Now, your next question may or may not be the same as mine.... What the HELL is an angiogram and WHY did you have to have one?  Good question.

If you did not/do not know what an angiogram is, don't feel ashamed... I had one today and I STILL didn't understand fully until I was actually IN the procedure.  An angiogram is (dictionary definition), "an imaging test that uses x-rays to view your body's blood vessels. Physicians often use this test to study narrow, blocked, enlarged, or malformed arteries or veins in many parts of your body, including your brain, heart, abdomen, and legs."  In fifth grade terms, they hook me up to a bunch of machines by running a cord into me to my brain through my thigh and inject dye to see the different parts of my brain.  I was fully awake during the tests and they put all the videos and pictures in front of me right after to explain options and what each picture meant - it was awesome!  The worst part about the whole thing was when the stent in my thigh didn't catch and they had to push down and put pressure on the wound sight for 20 MINUTES afterward!  I thought I would die for a minute - saw the blinding light and did NOT go to it - but it was fine. :)  Thank the Lord above for a high pain tolerance!

For those who do not recall from a few entries back, I was diagnosed in March with a brain aneurysm in my carotid artery.  I've felt symptoms that somewhat tie to this for the past few weeks, but mostly I just have to deal with "taking things slow and light" and focus on killing the Lyme in my body.  So, today they did this test in order to determine the exact procedure and next steps we can and will take to get rid of and defend against this aneurysm.  The doctor I worked with today (amazing doctor!) came out before the procedure to talk options he already was considering and what he felt was the best route.  I knew I liked him immediately when he stated that he thought monitoring was a dumb option too.... I wanna live a full-go-get-em life, and background worry about an aneurysm bursting could harness that greatly.  He suggested a pipeline stent, and after testing, that's what we've decided to do.

The best part about this news... No open brain surgery! That's a lot safer and less potential for infection.  Also......

........ I get to keep my hair!!! Call me shallow.  Call me stupid for thinking about this.  I really don't give a flying... I love my hair.  I've spent a LONG time getting it to the wondrous flowing locks it's at now... Therefore, I was not wanting to cut/shave any section of it.  Now, if this was life or death and they needed to, I'm all in!  However, since they don't have too, I'm allowed to do a slight celebratory dance in my heart.  I'm not allowed to actually dance for a few days while I recover from the stent they put in my thigh today post testing.  So, heart dance it is!!!

*moment of silence for my dance to occur*

Moving onward, I'm happy to have answers and a more definitive direction to move with getting to optimal health and body.  I'm excited to take care of these issues and no longer struggle with brain and memory issues.  I'm killing Lyme, and we're taking control of this aneurysm... and today, I am SO grateful for the gift of modern medicine to aide in this process.   I am grateful for the support of friends and family, pushing me to look into my health and take care of myself.  I am thankful for my body, and the amazing things it can do...

Happy dance, carry on.  Linze, carry on.

Song of the Day:  For those not aware, I am really chasing the music thing as of late.  I've started a thing on YouTube called #newmusicmonday where I post a new cover every Monday and encourage friends and family to like, listen, and share.  So, in honor of #newmusicmonday and my working vocal chords (my therapy the past two months), here is this week's cover - a Sia song, "Soon We'll Be Found."  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Focus on the POSITIVE.

"Negative thinkers focus on the problem.  Positive thinkers focus on results/solutions."

I'm two weeks out from deciphering exactly what is going to happen about my brain aneurysm ... Originally, there was no appointment set until May 28th, but I opted for a trip to Park City to move up the appointment and just get this taken care of as soon as possible.  As their only date open happens to be on my father's birthday, and my mom's is two days later, my mom took off work and we decided to make a trip out of it.  I mean, why not?! We may as well live it up and not make the day about my appointment with the neurosurgeon.  See, this is what I'm learning...

There is power on focusing on the positive.  There is power in letting your energy come from the beautiful things in life, and letting God figure out the rest.  I'm not ignoring the issues, or burying them - I'm 100% dealing with everything thrown my way - but I'm not focusing on them or letting them run my day.

That day in Park City will be about celebrating my Dad and Mom's birthdays, eating good food, shopping at the outlets, and chillin' as a family.  On a side note, I'll have a doctor's appointment that day that can only help me in determining what exactly I'll need to do to be healthier and happier in the future - to feel as and be my optimal self.  It'll be a good day... :)

On that note, I'm excited to meet with the neurosurgeon and determine what my next steps can/will be.  I know my aneurysm is located in carotid artery (looks more like the upper neck than brain in each picture I've looked up), which is the least likely place for an aneurysm to burst.  So, that's a great sign.  I've been placed on "don't spike or seriously raise your heart rate" restrictions right now, meaning no hardcore running and no lifting.  I have become SUCH a weird indivdiual because I genuinely have missed lifting the past three weeks... I mean, once I'm cleared my first course of action will be leg day.  Try and stop me.

I've been told that with some people they simple monitor the aneurysm, but the problem there is I'm not a "take it half speed" kind of girl.  I'm into pushing myself and plan to just go harder as the years come at me.  Thus, monitoring and hoping nothing happens sounds like a bad plan.  Pending on risk of surgery, I'm opting for a full removal and recovery process so I can start to really go at weight-lifting and training again, and so this can be out of my way so I can focus on treating Lyme even more effectively.  When you remove one problem, it allows you the needed space and ability to focus on the other issues at hand and fix those.  Thus, I'm opting for removal.  We'll see what they say, but I want to be at OPTIMAL health within the next two years, and I'm completely capable of this with the path my body is on.

Sidenote:  I've been on Lyme meds for almost three weeks now, and I'm starting to feel better in minimal ways - but I'll take it, because better is better!  I'm tired LATER in the day typically, and I'm over the "flu-like" symptoms stage, which is great.  I think they'll need to up my dosage because I'm still exhausted and pushing major headaches 4-5 days a week, but we'll get it right and I'll get there soon enough. :)

There's the update.

Now, back to the moral of the entry.... Focus on the positive.  Focus on the beautiful things in life, and the things you are learning from each trail or triumph - you learn in both moments.  Allow you Father in Heaven and Savior to take on the worry and stress, and allow them to heal you, because guess what... Your Savior already has healed you.  Just say thank you, and keep working hard to show your appreciation.  See, that's why I'm not as "stressed as I should be," in MOST moments (I'm human, so I have my freak-out sessions) - I know that ultimately, I'm taken care of and what's suppose to happen will happen if I do my part to take care of the issue.  Turn it over to Him and let CHRIST build you.

I know my entries tend to get spiritually-centered, but I refuse to have it any other way.  The ONLY way I have genuinely been okay through my process of trials (now and at all times in my life) has been through my Savior, and I think it's only right to say thank you and to help others recognize His hand in their lives as well.  I am grateful for my Savior and His guiding strength in my life... for a Father in Heaven who loves me and has created a way for me to leave my worry with Him, and live with Him after this life, AND during this life.

Turn to God.  It can be scary for some, but I'm learning it's worth giving up the control - I promise.

Song of the Day:  I was dying to cover this one, but I am having real issues finding a back-up track... So, for now, check out the original - I may have posted this one before...  In the spirit of Easter and thankfulness, here is Jon McLaughlin with "We All Need Saving."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life Lemons = Damn Good Fish.

When life gives you lemons... Slice them up real nice and thin, place them on some fresh salmon with some roasted garlic, and bake for a half hour on 350.  I mean, why not, right? :) When life gives you lemons, make some damn good fish. 

Life has it's fair share of ups and downs, but what's interesting is learning how powerful the mind can be during these roller coaster rides.  I had my fair share or bad moments last week, but I also took some time to relish in the sweetness of where my life is right now.  I have a fantastic job at a school I love, with kids I adore, and was blessed enough to win our Region Theatre Competition after a few weeks of hard-work and dedication.  So proud... 

I can drive in my fully-paid-off Escape with the windows and sunroof down, because the weather is glorious and the sun is shining.  Well, today there is rain, but thank goodness for moisture and future greeness, right?!  I can smell the flowers and see the tress blossoming with Spring - it's gorgeous.  

I have the ability to make music and do what I love by singing, learning to record, and growing in my craft.  God has given me a voice and I have the ability to use it and share it with others... Life is good.

As an update to my "conditions," I've had bad days... days where the meds make me exhausted and I have the shakes or trouble holding objects.  I've had days where  half of my body falls numb and my headaches increase. I've had days where no one can seems to give me answers, and I all I can do it turn to God for comfort... but at least He's there for me. 

I am a blessed girl.  In the midst of it all, I find that gratitude and taking time to smile is what gets me through.  Take the time to make someone smile today - it'll help you out too. 

Song of the Day:  So, I've got a new computer and equipment and plan to sign up for a sound mixing class this summer... I'm ready to do this!  Here is my most recent cover for #newmusicmonday - "I Can't Make You Love Me," by Bonnie Raitt.  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trial by Forest Fire

Last night, one of my best friends forwarded me this quote as I was doing scripture study, and it reminded me how blessed I am... How if I can put my faith in my Heavenly Father and Savior, I can and will come out on top - all WILL be okay, more than okay, and amazing. 

This week has been a rather tough one - a really hard one.  My life is incredible, and I can not thank the Lord above for all I have in my life.  I have an amazing job that I love, a wonderful roommate and great apartment I can afford, great friends and a support system, clean water, warm showers, soft sheets I can wash each week, delicious food each day, and the ability to hear music and the gift of a voice... I am SO lucky.  That being said, there are days or weeks that things just SUCK.  It doesn't negate how grateful I am, but I think it's important to recognize that we have bad days and life can be hard.

I have a tendency to play the stone - the strong woman who locks away her emotions or reactions to hard situations.  I'm happy to report I have been getting better at being more honest with my emotions and more open with how I really feel -thank goodness, because I feel like I can finally express this in my music now.  However, there are many times it remains my internal struggle.  So, in the process of progression, I need to explain some honest feelings.

In the past nine days, I have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, in and out of two MRI/MRA tests and a bubble heart exam, had a student of mine (for the past two years) take his own life, led a few grief and coping discussions with students, discovered a brain aneurysm, and have heart issues that the doctor would "like to discuss" tomorrow. It's also our Theatre Region Competition on Friday and so late nights are a must each night this week to ensure student success - don't worry, I've been smart and asked other teachers for help.  

It's been a very hard, very emotional week.  I feel like I finally understand the phrase, "When it rains, it pours... and pours, and pours."  I'm trying to look at the positive, and I've actually been finding a lot of silver lining to things, but it's been hard.  I spend a lot of days in pain and feeling completely foggy and un-Linzed.  For those who don't know (I didn't until diagnosed), Lyme can cause the brain to swell and some issues with the neurological and nervous systems.  It's related to some memory loss (that's hugely affected me this year), fogginess of mind, difficulty concentrating, headaches, vision issues, extreme fatigue, poor coordination, and sleep pattern issues - all of which have affected me more and more this past year or two.  Add the brain aneurysm to this, and it's just put some added head pressure, numbness of body and face, tiredness, and muscle spasms.  

Again, I'm not complaining, but I need to be honest about how I feel... and right now, I genuinely feel like life is amazing - and amazingly hard.  I feel confused and nervous about results, and simultaneously grateful for answers and SURE that the Lord will take care of me.  I know through this process, I will grow and learn about myself, my body, and my Savior.  I will become more of the woman I am suppose to be... I know this may sound cheesy, but what's getting me through is the idea that when you go through trial by fire (or a roaring forest in flames), there emerges a Phoenix.  

Job (23:10) state, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." I can become as gold, as I trust in the Lord and allow Him to comfort, guide, and heal me - in all aspects of my life.

"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2)
OR, my personal favorite...

I can be brave.  I can be strong.  I can be triumphant.... but I can only be those things as I allow my Heavenly Father to take control.   With God, ALL things are possible.

Song of the Day: I found this song this past week, and it hit me hard... I've felt this way a few times in my life and she nails the emotions down beautifully.  Here is Jessie Ware's "Say You Love Me."  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Voice Auditions- AKA: A Leap in the Journey

I know a lot of you have been asking about my auditions this weekend with The Voice- it was a great experience and I feel like I have to write down my thoughts...

Tryouts really went well! Got awesome feedback and positive feedback, but I will be returning to Utah this time... :) For some of you, you may look at this experience and then say, "Sorry you came up empty handed," or, "Sorry you wasted time/money." I assure you, that's not how I feel at all. In fact, I feel so rich in exactly the ways I need to right now! 

I know exactly where I need to be for next time (if I choose to go that route), so I'm excited for the upcoming year! :) I feel like a puzzle piece that was missing clicked while I was at that audition. I can't explain it without a lot of random details and stories, but some incredible things happened... and I learned a lot about myself and my path.  It really was exactly what I needed. :) 

I'm not done chasing my dreams- I'm just beginning. This in no way signifys my worth as a person or ability as a singer.  I will get there- I will work WAY harder than I have in the past, with a fresh set of eyes and new perspective to aid my direction. I wasn't even close to being ready, but I'm a whole lot closer after yesterday. 

So a "no" to The Voice today is a huge triumph in a way I can never fully explain... In the words of Ed Sheeran back in 2011, "Give me a few years, I've got some big plans." 

Me too, Ed. Me too.

If you really want to continue to support, watch my videos when I post them and share them! Send me your requests- my new goal is one a week, and learning to mix, so I'm gonna be hittin' things hard. Here's my most recent cover, with a new one to be released within the week, starting my new stream of weekly covers... If you haven't watched, it's a minute and a half long, so take time now.

THANK YOU for all the love and support coming my way- it means the world to me. :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Riding With Fear: It's Time to Replace Fear with Faith

It’s quite amazing how life recycles itself if you let it.  It’s like a really great, or really terrible, fashion trend.  Every few decades it recycles and becomes a “new fad” or “hip fashion.”  Like life, if we allow it, our situations recycle themselves and come back into play.  This can be a great thing… Or a debilitating road-block. 

I was re-reading some of my old blog entries, attempting to find something for a class, and saw a few things that made me smile just a bit…. The first was this entry from 2008:

“Here is how I feel, right now, this moment. I feel scared, lonely, tired, drained, confused, elated, hopeful, happy, angry, frustrated, discontent, thoughtful, half-baked, wanting, lost... I feel SO many mixed emotions, I have ceased having the ability to make any clear decisions. I wish I could explain in means that were intelligible... Right now, I am describing my feelings as clear as mud. Well, the mud is getting thicker and stickier, and I'm slowly sinking...

It boils down to this. I cannot seem to gain a new future or let go of the past. I cannot seem to live for tomorrow, but am constantly in the future or the past... I am filled with worry and doubt, and that is not a very "Linze" thing to feel. Everyone turns to me for strength and understanding... Not this time. Who do I turn to?

Heavenly Father, of course... and yet, I feel as though he has given me the reins on this one and now I am lost in the desert with only a dying horse to guide me back... I have to choose the paths, and he wants me to learn from each dead end and round-about I encounter.

One day I will look back and be overwhelmingly grateful for these experiences and emotions, but for now I remain in a level of pain. Yes, that's the way to describe the state I am in: One of pain. I thought that was an exaggeration, and it may be, but I am hurting right now and can't seem to find the treatment or medication to numb the pain and heal the wound. Perhaps, tomorrow?”

Now, I have NOT felt in a lot of pain this past year – on the contrary, I have been relieving that pain in so many ways over the past year.  What’s interesting is the feelings of confusion and the middle of this entry (which, in retrospective, I have realized is highly dramatic to put on social media…).  I say, “. I cannot seem to gain a new future or let go of the past. I cannot seem to live for tomorrow, but am constantly in the future or the past... I am filled with worry and doubt, and that is not a very "Linze" thing to feel.”

Well, truth be told this HAS been a very “Linze” thing to feel.  Looking back at my life, I have allowed myself to be filled with worry and doubt over every little thing instead of trusting myself and my Heavenly Father a lot more.  I know “it’s a process” sometimes, but why make everything so complicated?  Why when I know deep down what I want, do I fight it because I’m scared it “might be the wrong choice?”  I do this a lot, and thus, bring on a lot of worry and unneeded stress – and waste a lot of valuable time.  I’m not saying I’ve got the perfect answer to not worrying ever again, but I’m starting to see the true benefit in self-trust and really trusting my Father in Heaven.  I’ve seen the benefit in letting go of what you can’t control and taking charge of what you can while having faith in yourself. 

Another interesting article I wrote in 2008 was my personal goals and mission statement:

“Next Year: I would ideally like to be working for a company I enjoy being involved with and making at least $40, 000 a year. I would like to be heading back to school to complete my Master's Degree, either in Comms or getting my MPA. I would also like to have paid off all of all of my undergraduate loans, live outside of my home again, and own my first car.

Three Years: Be graduated with my Master's Degree and be working in an established events planning/PR job that is making $60,000+ a year. Spend at least a few months living in LA or DC!

Five Years: Have moved up in the company and be in established position, in a significant leadership role. Married; This could happen around the three year mark as well, but I don't know that it will. We'll see.

Ten Years: Married with a few children. Working from home for an events business and improving in my knowledge of event and social trends. Preparing to fund my and open my own events planning business!

From there, who knows if I will be in events or education... I enjoy both, and we will see where life leads me. Of course, a few things will change my time-line... One) If I go on a mission 2) If/when I have my own family they will be numero uno on my list of priorities. So, that will fit in more and more to my list as I get married and have children... I wish I could plot that on my time-line. Haha! I would love to be secure enough with my husband's income to not have to work, but still get to work - if your know what I mean. I really LOVE working and staying busy, so I would love to still be doing a little something... Even if it is simply aiding in my child's Kindergarten class! Haha...

Now, enough of life planning for now. I still have yet to make a Mission Statement for my life... So, I shall give it a shot, but probably do a lot of revising over the course of the week to perfect it:

The mission of Linze Struiksma is to grow and progress toward perfection in pursuit for eternal life. I will live a life full of intensive learning and development as I surround myself with motivating and positive settings and individuals. My commitment to excellence will be shown through my service to others, especially my family. I will maintain a balanced life by being a well-rounded individual – educated in the arts, sports, the political arena, history, current events around the world, and of course, the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will teach my family and friends to do the same within their lives.
To succeed in this mission, I will not fear change and progression within the workplace, church or internally. I will be kind and understanding of all those I come in contact with, as I strive to continually improve my networking abilities and relationships with others. Effective communication, open honesty, and genuine trust will be the foundation for any established relationship. I will always remember to be open-minded and understanding to new ideas or cultures. I will maintain flexibility and patience as new situations are placed in front of me.
My life will be lived to experience true happiness and help others enjoy each day! I will show gratitude to those around me, and tell those close to me how much I love and appreciate them each day. My positive attitude and genuine concern for the individual are to be shared openly with others. I will use my drive, passions, and talents to bless my family and the lives of others – I will share the gift of music and communication with the world. I will teach others to fight for what they believe in, and chase their truest desires by doing so for myself.
I will strive to be a constant example of truth and light to all those I come in contact with, and share my testimony through my actions. I will raise my family to have integrity and live in correspondence with these eternal truths. My educational, occupational, and personal goals are to be centered on my desire to grow closer to my Savior, and become who I was meant to be. Personal responsibilities must always lie in serving others in each project I undertake and decision that I make; doing so will bring me closer to Christ. I will make every effort to convey happiness in my home and social situations, and bring strength to those around me.”

WOW.  Can I just say… life has changed.  Life has NOT gone to plan… and for that I am SO grateful.  I could have been “fine,” in a PR job – I would have been great at it! 

wouldn't have been as happy.  I have made certain choices in my life that led me down other paths, and I’m not sad about that at all.  Germany through a wrench into everything I had planned, and it was the best detour I could have asked for in my life.  I grew and developed there, and become a fuller version of myself.  Upon returning to the USA, I have loved teaching and my Master’s Program at Westminster was an AMAZING choice for me.  I met incredible people, had amazing experiences, learned a lot about social and political structures, formed more clear opinions, and grow in understanding myself more fully.  Teaching has been fun, and hard, and a time for personal reflection.

But, my goals were completely shattered with those choices.  My one, three, five, and ten year plans, changed and developed into a better plan.  Goals are fabulous, but sometimes, you have to reevaluate and close certain doors so you can walk through another door.  Sometimes, you have to be honest with yourself and let go of a sub-par plan because you want something more, something BEST, for yourself…

I have other dreams that have always been screaming at me from the field, as I slowly walk along the sidelines.  These dreams are begging me to finally give in and play the game – gear up and run with it!  I've been scared.  I've recycled all that fear and the previous years of my life and let it ride with me in my journey… Well, this past year, I started to slowly drop it off where it belongs – the dump.  I wish I had just opened the car door at 60 mph and pushed it out of “the journey mobile,” but it was already riding with me… and so I was scared to let go of the fear.  Promise, this sounds clear in my head.  Here’s the hoping it works on paper too.

Well, yesterday I had a little epiphany.  After a slow drive with the music turned down and talking to God, I realized, I have to close some doors.  I have to do what’s best for ME and what I want from this life (and the next)… I have to move forward and push fear out the window – and just like that, it disappeared.  I’m not saying it’ll never try and slide back into the passenger seat, but I’m actively filling that seat and all the other seats in my “journey mobile” with other things so there’s no room for it… That seat will be filled with Faith, Trust, Self-Worth, Belief, Confidence, Determination, Hard-work, and Passion. 

As for the MOST fascinating part, my goals may have been thrown for a loop, but my personal mission statement is the same.  Read it again.  In honesty, I am still the same ME.  I am just a more developed, better version, TRUER version, of myself.  I still want to be a great person and leader who will make a difference, who has a strong relationship and focus on Christ, and uses my talents in music and character to grow and develop myself and others.  I still want to have a great family and let others know they are loved by being open-minded and happy.  I simply have new passengers with me on the journey and my ride is already feeling much more optimistic and progressive. 

Moral of the ten-year-in-the-making story:  Don’t wait to close the door on fear... In fact, don’t wait. 


Song of the Day:  My most recent cover is here, so I’m going to share it!  Here is a song called "Anyway," from a new musical, Tales From the Bad Years.  I'm a huge fan of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's work and encourage you to look up some of their other songs.  Please take a listen and enjoy!