Monday, January 31, 2011

Lightning in a Bottle

Happy Monday, folks!

Yes, you read that correctly. I said “happy”.

I’m feeling great today. Had a terrific weekend. Spent some time with someone I haven’t seen in almost 17 years (since high school), and I’m still smiling.

I just love those little spontaneous, out-of-the-blue, impulsive moments in life. You know, those instant little pick-me-ups that seem to halt you in your tracks and suddenly steer you in the opposite direction from where you were headed. Or where you thought you were headed. Ever heard the saying “Life is what happens when you’re making plans”? It is stuck at the forefront of my brain, and it reminds me to expect the unexpected and appreciate those little hints when God says, “Um, you silly control freak, pay attention! Here’s something new that I had planned.”

Sometimes those hints and plans add up to lightning in a bottle.

And the lightning in a bottle is exactly what you needed to help you see clearly in the storm. Amidst the dark and ominous, a sudden burst of electricity streaks like outreaching fingers across the sky, illuminating the gloom with a jolt of insight and a flash of understanding.

In my last blog, my dear sister, who is every bit an emotional rock for me, made a comment that people habitually create conflict where there is none. It certainly made me analyze my current “storm”. I both agree and disagree with her. I agree that we succumb to our own doubts, and try to reason with ourselves to make heads or tails of life. We try to control our “weather”. We toss and turn in the roaring wind and bounce around in the turbulence we create during the ride. We try to bluff a confidence to rise above our own insecurities. And while I think that inner conflict creates a basis from which to reason, per se, it is also a valid argument necessary to help us rationalize a situation - to settle the storm. It is when we finally relinquish control and stop fighting the elements that we find our sense of calm.

It is often in our darkest moments that we find a light where we need it most. The light leads us to recognize our own strength. Endurance. Resolution. Awareness. Hope. And most of all, trust. Not necessarily a self-trust, but an investment of faith in the unknown. A conviction to rely on the unforeseen nature of the coming weather. To embrace the treacherousness and the serenity. To stop trying to control the conditions, and allow the rain to soak in and cleanse our perspective. The wind to blow us in new directions. The lightning to jolt us awake. And the sunlight to brighten our souls.

So, what will become of my lightning in a bottle?

Can’t say at this moment.


But I’m definitely going to enjoy the little sparks that keep sending shocks to my heart. And I’m going to keep smiling as the weather changes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Balancing Act

Life is all about making decisions. Some are easy. Some are hard. All are necessary and affect the outcome of what happens next…one way or another.

Right now, I’m torn between making the decision to go into self-preservation mode, and just letting the chips fall where they may. In self-preservation mode, I face two options: the first being that I’m shutting myself down emotionally so that I become numb, and the second is distancing myself so that I don’t get hurt. Though neither will keep me from feeling like my insides are being twisted into unfathomable knots.

The knots of which I’m referring rest comfortably on the proverbial scale between my heart and my mind. A scale that is imbalanced with what my heart tells me to feel, and the simplicity with what my mind tells me to preserve.

My heart is on the heavy side. Having shifted with the weight of ache that seems to be tipping the scales beyond the capacity for my mind to rebound. Once resting high, what it contained was lighter than reason, intelligence, trust and pragmatism. It only knew what my brain told it to do – feel. And so the thought process rested opposite, weighing down my common sense, telling me not to be guarded. A balancing act of clichéd companions that would sacrifice all doubt…walk with open eyes through fire…to have a chance at the one thing they don’t understand, but were designed to do; love.

What makes us fall in love? Why, as human beings, do we crave companionship?

It’s more than just the instinctual need to further our legacy. I think it’s because we want a witness to our lives. We want to know that we matter to someone. That our words are heard. Our touch is felt. Our hurt doesn’t go unnoticed. And our joy doesn’t go unshared. A connection to our counterpoint in another – a balance – that quantifies the steps we take on our journey. Steps that take flight when that correlation between the mind and the heart gives our soul a set of wings.

I only know one way to love – mind, heart and soul.

On one side of the scale, if I self-preserve and distance myself from feeling, then I deny the natural response my body needs to grieve. I don’t allow my mind the confusion it wants to sort through now, leading eventually to comprehension and resolution. I don’t allow my heart time to ache, and yearn for the final breaking beat that sets it back on the path to healing stronger. I don’t allow my soul time to recognize that its now void of the one element that made it whole, made it shine. If I shut down emotionally, then I run the risk of staying low on the scale, protected and sheltered. And apathetic. If I distance myself, then I risk always running. Never falling. Never hurting. And never flying high again.

On the other side of the scale is self-perseverance. It is the tie that binds my strength, determinedness, and my ferocity to try again despite the risk of failure. It tells my mind to remain open to new possibilities. It reminds my heart that it might hurt, but hope will prevail. It tells my soul that the void is not a missing piece, but rather a deeper capacity to experience something greater than myself.

So, I make the decision to let the chips fall where they may, and put my heart back on the table. I may bluff at the low hand I’ve been dealt but I will risk betting high to stay in the game. I will find the self-assurance between hurting and healing. Irrationality and reason. Passion and practicality. Falling and flying.

I think the Cowboy Junkies said it best…

“To live is to fly. Low and high. So shake the dust off of your wings and the sleep out of your eyes.”

I’m balanced on the perch between my mind and my heart. My soul is awake. My wings are ready. Tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Political Incorrectness

I’m glad it’s Friday. I don’t think I could take one more day this week. A while back, I wrote a blog about the possibility of eight days a week. I’m recanting it. As well, the weather has created a fitting ambience for my stress level the last several days. Overcast, cold and dreary.

That being said, I will effectively end this week with one last rant. And then I’m determined to venture to the flipside of a negative mindset.

I haven’t talked about politics in a while, so today’s subject broaches a few more things with which I have some issues. Yeah yeah…I know you’re all surprised. It’s so unlike me to share my opinion.

Issue no. 1:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

A lot of agencies and businesses are closed Monday to celebrate his birthday, which is actually tomorrow (1/15).

Before you make assumptions or jump to any conclusions, let me just preface my explanation by telling you I don’t have any personal problem with the man, may he rest in peace. I don’t disagree that MLK was a notable figure in our history. He was an important influence and advocate for the civil rights movement, and encouraged America to embrace a color-blind approach to societal acceptance.

This is not about race. It is about respect and recognition for other great men (and women). I realize that if we adopted a “holiday” to celebrate the impact and significance of all of those who changed history, we’d be off year-round. Rather than embark on a timeline of events that I think are suitable mentions, I will tell you the most important date that comes to mind…

September 11, 2001.

This day in history marks a profound significance to my generation. Much like the Vietnam War did for my parents, and World War II did for my grandparents. September 11 and the events that followed set forth a series of actions and consequences that, at present, we are all witness to. It still burns me up when I read and hear the vitriol directed at former President Bush as a result of this. I think many of those people could stand to benefit from reading Decision Points (his autobiography). Read it, and then give me your opinion of President Bush. The insight into his mind and what he struggled with as a man facing adversity, humanizes him. Something all of us can relate to. I must take a deep breath, and remind myself that the people who so carelessly toss around insults rarely have the facts at hand before mouthing off. Nor do they care to be educated. It’s much easier to put up a mental block to hide behind, rather than be humbled by the realization of misinformed and false accusations. I think President Bush handled his time in office, specifically the events of September 11, with a caliber of class and Christian faith that our current administration can’t hold a candle to.

The service men and women who risked and lost their lives, and the countless thousands who perished in the wrath of terrorists, still brings tears to my eyes. Our armed forces, who face things daily that our worst imaginations can’t conjure up…their worried families, who can only hope that prayer surrounds them and the hand of God protects them…the emotional hardships the families of the victims have to endure…granting us the freedom to complain about our lives, our bills and what we’re owed. All of these things are trivial when compared with the value of a human life. That tragic day set the pace, now ten years later, for a war we are still fighting. A war to conquer genocide, tyranny, persecution, and terrorism. To name a few.

I think a holiday of reverence to tribute those affected by September 11 should be established. Just as MLK delivered insightful oration that impacted a nation, these men and women have bled for us – figurative and literally – and delivered a concept of peace that impacts the world. They should be honored.

Issue no. 2:  Blame-shifting

I touched on this a little in issue number one, so I won’t go into great detail. I think a quote by my friend, Jim Murphy, sums it up…

“…What is more dangerous, a lone gunman venting violence or those who instinctively place the blame at the feet of their political or ideological opponents?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I couldn’t agree more.

Why are we so quick to point fingers? Every single person on the planet deals with their share of problems. We all go a little mental sometimes. The majority of us just have a better psychological handle on it than the other few. These few are the ones that open fire on a classroom full of innocent people, or sodomize a child, or get physically violent, or rape, or murder…I could go on. I don’t excuse these behaviors by any means of the word. It sickens me to the very breadth and depth of my soul. Being a Christian, I have to remember that God created these people, too. His reasons trump all of those we can’t begin to get a grasp on. No matter what these people have done, they are still someone’s son, or brother, or cousin. And most importantly, they are still a child of God.

However, it is no more the government’s fault than it is society’s that these catastrophic events occur. What should bond us to take stand against these brutalities is instead eroding the very moral fabric of humanity that allows us to feel compassion for our brothers. We turn a blind eye to it and close our hearts to reaching out. We instinctively place blame rather than take a good long look in the mirror to evaluate what we can change inside us. We don’t care or take responsibility for ourselves because we are too busy pointing fingers at others and demanding answers to impossible scenarios crafted by psychopaths and narcissists. If we start caring for our enemies, then it stands to venture that we broaden our capacity to love and accept unconditionally. And forgive. And progress. And stand united.

George Bernard Shaw said, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

The above concept applies to every aspect of the way we think. If we stopped butting heads and took time to recognize that trading one thing for another still only leaves us with one thing, and that sharing ideas and aspirations opens the door to endless possibilities of the mind, we might discover that we stand for the same things. Just based on different principles attained from our unique walks of life. Principles that shape who we are as human beings, and give us individuality and uniqueness, which makes us all precious. Regardless of political affiliation, culture, color or creed, we all survive with a beating heart and the blood flowing through our veins. Until we stop thinking of our opponents (whatever the circumstance may be) as a three-headed monster, we will never get beyond the boundaries of placing blame.

Issue no. 3:  Some simple concepts I’d like to see applied (not all of them are political)

I would love to throw the idea of political correctness out of the window. It is a direct contradiction to the First Amendment. ‘Oh, you have free speech, but don’t say anything that offends me. My mind and self-esteem are so fragile that I just might break into tiny little pieces. And I might sue you.’

Common sense should be rewarded. Although, is there really such a thing as “common sense”? Is it just “good sense”? Whatever it is, some people are lacking a great deal of it. I think a ‘Common Sense Course 101’ should be offered starting in junior high. I think people should have to pass a mandatory test on the subject at the end of each year to be able to advance to a higher grade.

People should have to retake their driver’s tests frequently. Like, every 10 years or so. There are a lot of people who don’t need a driver’s license. And there are a lot of people who should no longer be driving. Here is my idea: when a person reaches a certain “ripe old age” and the limitations of achieving that age start to hinder their driving abilities (and it is proven), then their driving privileges should be honorably revoked. They are a danger to themselves and to others. America’s unemployment rate is high. The states should gather up the unemployed, educate them in a rigorous course of driving skills, and assign them to a person who should no longer be driving. The salaries to compensate these “drivers” would cost less for the state than road repairs, clean up, etc., due to the accidents caused by our “vehicular operationally challenged”. (Hah! How do you like that for political correctness?)

Gossiping should be an arrestable offense. Extreme, I know. But most of it is hurtful and often unfounded.

Women, when you reach a certain age, I think some hairstyles are more appropriate than others. I know you’re attached to your long hair, but when it’s thin and straggly and hanging past your butt, it’s time for a style intervention. Likewise, if your hair can’t fit through a standard doorway, it’s time to fire your stylist. Or ask your friends to be brutally honest with you.

On that note… Men, the wife beater tank top and hairy potbelly do not equate sexiness. Especially when accompanied by a plumber’s crack. Nor does a toupee. Embrace your baldness, I say. Look at Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel. They own their baldness. Own yours. Confidence is much sexier than a bad comb-over.

Passing gas or picking your nose in public is unacceptable. Period.

So is the use of certain spices when cooking in a confined area.

The price of gas shouldn’t be based on supply and demand. Meaning, they supply it and then demand we pay the outlandish prices for it. It should be no more than $1.00 per gallon. This is possible. It is. All the oil resources we need are right here in America. We’re just too lazy to try and work for it.

I think every man in the world should experience one menstrual cycle in his lifetime. I know this is medically impossible. But the “myth” behind PMS would be forever debunked.

Certain patterns and color schemes do not go together. And one should never wear knee socks with flip-flops and shorts. Oh, and golfing attire should seriously be reconsidered.

The price of McDonald’s fries should go up to $50 a serving. I’m convinced obesity would rapidly decline if this were to be implemented.

A track of children’s laughter should be played periodically throughout each day. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

Well, that’s about it for today. I feel much better forcing my views on you. If the world ran according to Kellie…well…it would certainly be an interesting place. Like Disneyland on steroids. Every ride would be operated by a Hugh Jackman look-alike (shirtless, of course), and Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins would co-commentate all of the winning Aggie football games. Or they could just cite numbers from the phone book. Makes no difference to me.

And air would taste like chocolate when you breathe it in.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drama Drama Drama

I never cease to be entertained from my frequent coffee shop outings. Of course, I’m not really “outing” so much as I’m slacking. I call it “slacking” because I should be writing my book, but inevitably, I find myself suffering from writer’s block. I have retyped and edited the same paragraph so many times that I’ve lost count. It’s very frustrating. Several months ago when I first began writing, I preemptively cursed myself, foolishly believing that I would never suffer from such a feat. Um, wrong.

I find it equally frustrating, or rather ironic, that I can conjure up b.s. to post on my blog, but cannot finish the current chapter of my book. I think a hammer, a punching bag and some matches might make me feel better. Or land me in jail. Or a padded room.  On the evening news.  And on the front page of tomorrow morning's newspaper.  But, hey, at least I’d have something new to write about.

I got off course a tad. Back to my point…

Or not.

A short while ago, outside the window of the couch where I’m sitting, there was a couple in the midst of a very heated argument. So heated that not only could I hear them yelling at each other from inside the café, but I could also distinguish the topic of their clash through my ear buds, which I’m wearing while I’m listening to iTunes. (Of course, I turned down my music so I could listen. Drama.) Young lady had quite a healthy set of lungs on her. In her defense, her “significant other” had been sexting another girl. (“Sexting” is engaging in flirtatious and sexual promiscuity through texting.) I think I learned some new four-letter words. Checkmark for today.

(And for the record, I was in the midst of a similar scene myself yesterday (though NOT about sexting, so I’m digesting the theory of self-improvement with this subject.)

Which brings me to my subject for this post: is it acceptable to argue in public?

Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m an eternal optimist, if not a bit on the romantic side of delusion, when it comes to life. I don’t demand euphoria every second of the day, but I always try to look on the bright side of things and understand them realistically. I’m the kind of person that wants everyone else around me to be happy and having a good time. This especially applies to arguing. It makes me uncomfortable to be around others arguing, be it at home or in a public place. In my own experience, I don’t necessarily avoid confrontations, but I don’t like to get into an argument unless it’s something really important, or addressing the particular issue is critical. I don’t hold grudges. I fight for the moment and then move on. I don’t fight to win so much as I fight to make my point. Often, I am wrong. I admit it. (shhhhh, don’t repeat that) But when I feel strongly about something, I’m not afraid to assert my opinions.

Are some people just in it to win it? I think so. Some people are argumentative by nature. Or defiant. Or rebellious. Or stubborn. (I’m convinced a combination of these qualities is the real reason lawyers exist. Oh, and reality courtroom television.)

For example, ever watched a political debate? It’s really just a structured argument where both sides present their best 'self-sales pitch' to win the support of the viewers. If the subtexts of the debate were aired at the bottom of the screen, it would likely read, “Yeah, Bub, kiss my hairy butt. Your makeup artist missed a spot. Are we still vacationing in The Hamptons this weekend?” It’s all for show. Now, I know the issues are real and so are the conservative or liberal foundation points, but it’s still a means to entertainment and exposing the vulnerable side of the opponent. Which is basically what arguing really is.

And drama. Which I know nothing about. **gasp** Me? Dramatic???  Never!

So…back to my point. (I keep straying here)

Personally, arguing in public is just as bad as PDA. It’s inconsiderate and makes others feel awkward. At the same time, it’s like a car wreck. Morbidly fascinating, and hard to look away. The poor girl (we’ll call her “Eva ‘Lung’oria"), was in tears by the time it was all over. Now guys, I know you have a point to make, but no matter what the subject concerns it is just not acceptable to make your girl cry in public.  Ever.  “Phony Parker” should not have crossed that line. Nor should "Eva" have been a willing participant to his rant.  Take it to the car. Better yet, take it home. (That way, there’s no chance of the hot make up sex being initiated in public.)

Know what I think when I see people partaking in that? I feel sorry for them. Mainly because they have so little personal integrity or maturity to not get involved in it. It speaks volumes in regards to their true colors. It’s upsetting to hear someone degrading, berating and condescending to another. It’s disrespectful. And classless.

Me being involved in a similar situation yesterday = irony. But I’m preaching to myself, too, so ner! **sticks tongue out**

We are all slaves to the sycophantic patterns of human nature. It’s a high for us when we’re able to make others squirm sometimes. I can be pretty insensitive myself on occasion. But, I usually dream up revenge and romanticize about notions of comeuppance in my head. That’s about the extent of my plotting. My guilty conscience is a hard layer to dissolve, and inevitably I end up feeling bad for entertaining thoughts of retaliation. Regardless of the circumstances. And even if they deserve it.

I was in quite a tizzy earlier about an issue I was having and I had a friend tell me, “Quit acting like your three-year-old kid was just diagnosed with terminal cancer.” (That’s a direct quote.) I could feel the proverbial smack of reality hitting me. At first, it pissed me off. I thought about arguing, but my friend is right. It certainly put things in perspective. Case in point: although sometimes arguing is necessary to confront a problem, more often than not it is unconstructive and cyclic. We get caught up in emotional competition of winning rather than rationally solving the problem at hand. Pick your battles. Don’t stress over minor dilemmas and let them interfere with your life. Especially when it’s out of your control.

So what happened to the arguing couple? Don’t know. I had half a mind to go outside and offer “Eva” a hug after it was over, but I was hesitant to get involved. “Phony” went one way, while “Eva” sat at the table…sniffling in the cold, tears steaming down her face…on her iPhone…deleting him from Facebook, tweeting about what a jerk he is…arranging to have his tires slashed.

Is there an app for “The Clap”? Hope he gets it from all of his sexting. Jerk.

**sigh** Drama drama drama.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Speak and Spell

Hi, peeps! Feels like it’s been forever since I blogged.

Being the spelling/grammar snob that I am, I’ve decided to make today’s post a much-needed lesson about commonly misspelled and misused words. Mainly because I find myself desperately wanting to edit my friends’ Facebook status updates. It makes my skin crawl.

Don’t hate. Later you’ll be thanking me for this, and people will be astonished at your newfound grasp of contractions and your stellar writing abilities.

We begin with the most common offender...

A lot. No, that’s not a statement. I’m referring to the word “a lot” (well, two words). “A lot” is NEVER one word (alot = incorrect). Think of a car lot. You wouldn’t spell it "carlot" would you? Nor should you squish “a lot” together as one word. Don’t do it. No excuses. It’s just wrong.

Next, familiar contractions that we all should’ve learned in grade school. Some of you were obviously too busy eating glue to really absorb this, so here is an efficient recap…

You’re and your
You're = you are
Example: “If you’re still reading this, chances are you find this information necessary to learn.”
Your = belonging to or relating to somebody. There is also no need to add an apostrophe, since it already implies possession.
Incorrect = your’s
Example: “If you’re easily offended at these simple instructions, then perhaps you need to improve your skills.”
See how I effectively used both examples? Booyah.

They, they’re, there and their
**sigh** Where, oh where, do I even begin?
Let’s break it down:
They = people in general, or things mentioned.  Now, I really only included this word to set the preface for the remainder of this lesson.  Moving forward...
They’re = they are
Example: “Often people are confused as to whether or not they’re actually using contractions correctly.”
There = adverb used to indicate a place, or simple subject
Example: "Still confused? See that sentence up there."
Their = belonging to them, him or her
Example: “Why people don’t work harder to actually spell their words correctly baffles the hell out of me.”
Now, let’s bring it all home…
“If ever there was an effective means to prompt people to attempt to use correct spelling and grammar, they’re bound to learn something if they apply these simple rules to their memory.” (I even threw in a “they” and a “they’re". Score.)

It’s and its
Another toughie. For most people. I’m not most people.
It’s = it is
Example: “When you speak or write using incorrect grammar, people assume it’s because you are lazy and unintelligent.” (I’m just sayin’. Don’t give them ammunition.)
Its = indicating possession. Again, there is also no need to add an apostrophe, since possession is already implied.
Example: “Your brain really needs to absorb this stuff so it can expand its power.”

Y’all = when you live in the south and combine the phrase “you all”. If you live in Texas and don’t know how to spell this, then you are a disgrace to all proud southerners. Shame.
Incorrect = ya’ll, which if you break down the contraction, would basically mean “ya all”. No. No. No.
Many people have asked if there is a plural to “y’all”. It is rumored to be an affront to the word, but it’s the most appropriate phrase I can conjure: “all y’all”.

Other popular contractions that are misused…

Are not = aren’t
Have not = haven’t
Did not = didn’t
Does not = doesn’t
Do not = don’t
You have = you’ve
You will = you’ll
She has, is = she’s
He has, is = he’s
Was not = wasn’t
Will not = won’t
We are = we're
Were = past tense of "be"
We will = we'll
There is = there’s
Would have = would’ve
Would not = wouldn’t
Cannot (not “can not”) = can’t
Should have = should’ve
Should not = shouldn’t
Could have… Aww, screw it. Really. I could go on, but if you’re not getting a handle on this by now then you’re a lost cause.

Also, for use in sentences…
Couple “either” with “or” and “neither” with “nor”. Otherwise you’ll sound like a moron. And don’t begin too many sentences with “and”. Or, use, serial, commas.

And now, I’ve saved the very best (or rather, worst) for last…

To, too and two
Pay close attention to this one, folks. When I read these words written or typed incorrectly, I have the urge to spontaneously combust. And that’s just the beginning of my intended wrath.
To = a preposition or adverb indicating the direction, destination, or position of somebody or something
Example: “I’m going to pretend you understand this, so we will move on to our next word.”
Too = more than, in excess, indeed, very, in addition to
Example 1: “It’s never too late to learn something new.”
Example 2: “I hope you agree with the above statement, too.”
Two = one + one, something with a value of 2
Example: “Share this valuable blog information with a friend, and then two of you will be smarter.”
All together now…
“Those of us who make a habit of using correct grammar and exercise phenomenal spelling skills know we're supreme beings. Too often, too many people think they’re able to speak and spell properly. If you’re one of those people, you aren't. It’s highly likely you’re living in denial. However, if the two voices in your head are encouraging y’all to expand your knowledge, then it’s as good a time as any to relearn or perfect any skills you had before acquiring them through this blog, its lessons and its priceless content. There are very few people who will be as brutally honest with you as I will. They’re few and far between. I can only hope their brains will retain this information and use it. A lot.”

Well, there you have it. I make no apologies for my perfection, and neither should you. Learn this. Live this. Dream about it. Breathe it deeply in. Print it out and give it to a friend for a special occasion. I guarantee they will thank you for alerting them to their stupidity.

Next week’s lesson: common four letter expletives and how to use them diplomatically and creatively when expressing them.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Simple Things

Happy New Year, friends! It’s officially 2011. I’m guessing I’ll actually begin writing the correct date come June, then learn to do it all over again in another seven months.

Everyone is making resolutions for the coming year, including me. Although, my goals are more of an instructional guide for me. I’m not counting my bucket list. I plan on accomplishing those things in the years to come. By the grace of God, I pray that I’m granted enough time to enjoy the next several chapters of my life. They will be much different than the pages already turned.

There are, however, a few things I will vow to do less of. Such as being so hard on myself. Being overly critical or judgmental of others (which I find myself doing from time to time). Stop worrying so much and try to be less of a control freak (hard one for me). Let go, and let God.

He is, after all, the reason I’ve made it this far.

My list is short. It consists of only three things. These things may be cliché, but they are the triumph of hope over experience. Belief stronger than doubt. And unyielding faith in myself, God above, and life.

1. Live
2. Laugh
3. Love

I plan to embrace life and live it to the fullest, while still being mindful of my responsibilities and how my actions affect others. I won’t sit on the sidelines anymore. I will get my feet wet and my hands dirty. I won’t be afraid to take chances, or risk coming in last. I will fail big and win even bigger. I will sing at the top of my lungs. And I will dance like no one is watching.

Laughter warms the heart. I plan to do a lot of laughing. I will laugh at myself. I will be silly and goofy, and roar until my stomach hurts. I will laugh louder and longer than anyone because I’m happy to be alive and breathing. And so blessed. I hope when I’m old and gray the laugh lines will be the most defining feature on my face, next to the sparkles in my eyes.

If laughter warms the heart, then love keeps it beating. I vow to love myself more, and completely. I will say, ‘I love you’ more.  I will cherish each moment with my loved ones and remind them of how very precious they are to me.  I will fall in love again. Both with life, and perhaps with another special person God has put in it. And I will do it with every beat of my heart.

A simple list, yet profound to me. Three things that will become the very basis of my existence. Three things that touch everything about life that is most dear to me. Three things that will allow me to forgive. Three things that will encourage my strength. Three things that will define the woman I am to become.

Three simple things that are the most perfect trifecta of faith.

I wish you all a year full of health and happiness. Live, laugh, love…may these simple things uplift your soul, and be the cornerstone of new beginnings.