28 things to cherish (Hello February)

February is HERE!

Skip over the jolting fact that January is already gone, and focus on the month of love – even though I’m a couple of days late!

I don’t know what feelings February gives you. But an overall theme (we can all agree) it reeeeks of is love. Affection. Pink (gross). Flowers and hearts. Candy. Now get excited because I want you to forget about all that, and think about things you love, plain and simple.

Here are a list of 28 things (one for each day this month) to cherish, to make you smile and be thankful for. Things we shouldn’t take for granted – and things I think all of us love, deep down.

1. You control your outlook. Kinda crazy knowing that nobody, nothing, has control of your attitude. Every. Single. Second. Secret – it’s contagious too.

2. Seeing a member of the Military, and seeing society show respect. It’s moving, and a small piece of what they truly deserve.

3. Waking up. Looking out the window and seeing sunshine. Seeing pouring rain. Seeing snow fall. They alllll make us feel a little different, don’t they?

4. We are free. You choose your path. Your thoughts and ideas are limitless, and they are yours. You can do what you want with them and work valiantly to see them develop a heartbeat.

5. Comfy clothes. Sweatpants at the end of the day. Hoodies while you sit and talk with your family. Fuzzy socks as you’re cooking dinner. Tennis shoes for your errands.

6. Technology. You can iAnything now – the opposite side of the entire planet is at your fingertips. Connecting doesn’t require much thought. Think about that.

7. Friends who are more than friends. When you don’t have your thoughts in order, and sometimes don’t even want to talk, they’re there anyway. No questions. THIS IS RARE, love them. Thank them!

8. Pictures of the past. Simply remembering where you came from can push you farther than you ever thought possible. If you’re only thinking about today, where you’re going, you’re missing a beautiful part of your story.

9. Admiring something vast. Overlooking a snowy town, standing at the edge of the ocean, or looking out of a hotel room in NYC. If it’s been too long, go do it! You are such a small piece in this massive world. Be inspired to make yourself great and do your part.

10. Old Music. When that particular line takes you back to that one time… I love those moments.

11. Random acts of kindness. The world would be a better place if we all threw a hand into this! Duh, you say?  It’s not about the act, it’s about your heart behind it… It’s a movement.

12. Seeing your family succeed. There is nothing that brings me more joy than seeing my siblings or parents honored for something. Of course I see how incredible they are every day, it’s beautiful when the world does, too.

13. Traveling. Vacation or business trip, you are flying in the air to see another part of the world. This is awesome. This place might not be your cup of tea – but the world isn’t glamourous! Be respectful, be interested, get lost somewhere.

14. Having a respectful disagreement. The ability to have a sound argument or conversation with someone you disagree with, without feeling like it’s personal. Stand up for your beliefs = Good!

15. Watching someone progress. This might just be an expectation, but progression means this person put their thoughts in order, decided to get better, and committed to it. Honorable.

16. Changing of seasons. Time flies by, and each season brings that back to the front of my memory. Reflect on things that you loved and things that inspired you this season.

17. I know somebody. The power of networking is indescribably powerful – whatever goal you have or place you’re headed, there’s a chance that somebody knows somebody. Use that to your advantage! Step out of your comfort zone and seek to connect.

18. Twitter/Skype/Whatever else you use. There are so many positive influences overflowing from these platforms. Influences YOU have the power to jump in on.

19. Sunsets. Stop and look, every night, without fail.

20. Your occupation. This is a vessel to add your influence to the world. It might not be the one you prefer at the moment, but it definitely provides you with a voice.

21. Sweets. I mean……… I couldn’t leave it out.

22. Health. Research, discovery, and new routines give us good odds with health issues. But seriously, if you have good health, you are indeed blessed.

23. Challengers. They’re all around and cannot afford to be taken for granted! Person you practice next to/guy you work with/yourself yesterday – if we are not getting better, what are we doing?

24. People who are unafraid to tell you what they think. From that time when you wished no one would speak, to the time you wished someone would just tell you straight on – the person who spoke up is a gem in our life. The person who cares enough about you to tell you the truth, ought to be cherished.

25. Sleeping in. Nuffff said.

26. Being able to laugh at yourself. Being able to step back from the tenseness, the seriousness of your stress will take you so far in life. I’d be happy to join you any time!

27. Having your family always be supportive of you. Truly. This is my No. 1.

28. Silence and gratitude. There is never too much going on to stop, get somewhere quiet and be thankful. And I can promise you, there is always, always something to be thankful for.

Have anything to add? Please do! Love to you all this month!

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you’re the only you

Image“Personality is destiny.” – Erik Erikson

To put it simply, I am the way I am for a reason. You are, too. I write better than I talk, I am heavily moved by emotions and inspiration and storytelling. And, I believe everyone, everyone has an unparalleled story waiting to be told.

I love to read, I enjoy different perspectives and challenges. I thrive on defying odds and proving that there is goodness and beauty and simplicity in our seemingly senseless society.

Why am I saying this? Because my personality pushes me to write, to tell stories, and to prove. It makes me happy. I am a journalist. Not because of my major, or because I know the ABC’s of telling a story. But because I believe it’s a beautiful vehicle for me to leave my mark. Hope you agree :)!!

It is SO interesting to think of the millions of intricate ways God formed us, for goodness. I’m thinking of my best friends right now – coaching, teaching, encouraging through their incredibly different occupations.

I don’t know the last time you thought about your most influential qualities, but I’m so glad you are now! God doesn’t operate on worldly time – He may be taking you through a season right now to uncover your gift He wants you to give. But one thing I’m sure of – you have one that ONLY you can do.

greatness gives

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Not one for corny quotes, but WOW! That’s as real as it gets for someone at the start of anything! No matter the place you serve or work or spend your time, you have to make a constant effort to give of yourself to be great.

Without intentional contribution, thoughtful service and motivation to make yourself proud, you’re left producing mediocrity. I’ll go even further to say you’re left being just ‘good’. When I worked at Madison Square Garden, there was a sign in the middle of the corporate offices that read, “Good is the enemy of GREAT.” I’m sure you’ve heard it a ton. But it was different seeing it come to life… The few people that truly lived by that found themselves working at the world’s most famous arena, where most of Manhattan wants to spend their time. It’s a simple concept.

Giving of yourself takes time and effort. It takes more intentional thought – brainstorming of how to be more, come up with more, create more, serve more. And obviously you’ll have to dedicate more time to your project, team, family or work group when you’re constantly giving your best. But deep down, isn’t that what you want? To be the champ who never left anything to chance?

We all know someone who has had something huge just handed to them. Thank you Lord for blessing someone in that way. But for you and your situation, you put in sweat and hard work and overtime to get where you are – which might not be far in comparison to where you want to be!

I want to encourage you by saying greatness gives. Sometimes life takes and takes and takes and it feels like the rivers runnin’ dry. But let it play in your mind when you feel yourself getting tired. You can’t compete with the way someone else’s life works. But you can compete every single day with who you were yesterday. Do not be afraid to start, do not be afraid to give it your all. It seems difficult and overwhelming, but I think it’s secretly the vehicle that takes you to where you want to be.

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back at it, let’s do it

When life gets heavy, burdensome, or just plain drives you crazy, it’s so important to step back. Breathe. Remember. And evaluate.

And we’re just in time for all of those things!…That’s what the month of January is for! Resolutions are in full swing, my gym is waaay overcrowded, and we automatically get that sense of a new, clean slate. I know at the top of my slate, I have it written to spend more time here. A common thread of desire for people all over this world is (in very vanilla terms) to ‘do good’. What do you do?

Singing, painting, leading, researching, supervising, traveling, teaching studying, and serving are a few of the beautiful gifts you may have that come to my mind. I write. And when you’ve decidedly nailed down your gift, it can take you MUCH further than just ‘doing good’. You’re able to provoke, instill, inspire, and let your heart be contagious.

2012, you were adventurous and testing and challenging and I’m glad to say bye-bye to you! But I’m not naive enough to think that flipping the page on the calendar solves problems. Life takes you through a long, winding, never-ending road of seasons. Without dry, desolate still ones, you’ll never dig deep enough to tap into the depths of your soul. Exhibit A: Me, here, writing. Because I love it, and because God loves when I do it.

I am so grateful for new beginnings, mysteries and opportunities. You should be, too!! Look around harder tomorrow, and harder the next, with this little passage on your heart. You’ll be surprised to see all the bright and beautiful avenues God has created for you to enjoy.

See you very soon…

Choices, choices, choices

Choices, rather than ability, show us who we really are…

There are countless differing “stages”, if you will, of life. The combinations are endless. There is the glorious stage of being on cloud nine (for me, usually after a workout), skipping down your hallway thinking, “Why can’t life feel this amazing everyday?!” There are some days where you don’t even have time to think. (flashback: NYC!) You’re so submerged in the depths of your activities, to-do lists, and moving so quickly that you remember “I didn’t eat today”, as you crawl into bed at 1:00 a.m. Awesome. Then you have days where you stub your toe as you’re running late, forget your papers going to work, receive a stellar speeding ticket, forget a friend’s birthday, and all you’re thinking about is Bluebell and bedtime.

Those are crazy times in life and we’ve each been there in our own personal stages, with hilarious stories to prove it. But what if I asked you about the “hardest” “stage” you’ve been stuck in – how would you describe it?

Uneasy. Tense. Cloudy. Lost. Uncertain. Anxious. Perplexed. Overwhelmed. Bewildered…

Could this be THE worst – and dare I say it – best stage of life? Could it be the place where everyone should actually want to be? Can goodness truly stem from bewilderment?

Those adjectives listed above only scratch the surface of actuality. They also only scratch the surface of who you and I can truly become.

You see, circumstantially, this is where we stand at the crossroad, staring our souls straight in the face. We choose. Champion or second best. When life is bewildering, it’s up to me to choose to say, “Yes. I’ve been waiting. This is my opportunity.” When life winds up and just knocks me flat on my rear, it’s up to me to say, “Perfect. I’m not stayin’ down. I’m about to get up and run.” When I become anxious, trying to harness the reigns of my future, a choice arises. I can stress (brilliant idea, really), OR, I can hand my heart over to the One who steadily, purposefully created it.

Matthew 6:27 – Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to his life?

Life is many things, two things I’m certain. It’s so incredibly short, and at the same time, forever a process. The journey of life is not about where I go, end up, accomplish, or gain. I cannot and will not take accolades and accomplishments with me when I go. No. One. Will. The underlying purpose of life’s journey depends on who we become in each of these challenging, beautiful, chiseling situations. Character – my soul – hearts I’ve been blessed to love along the way – those last forever. C.S. Lewis is the greatest to ever say it: “You don’t have a Soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

Aggressively take advantage of the circumstances you’re given. Your reactions and choices to these situations is your heart on display to the world. Some days are harder than others, and require us to look at the crossroads and choose: Give in or grow.

Something more…

“Most people, if they have really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings that no marriage, no travel, no learning can really satisfy. I’m not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called successful marriages or vacations or learned careers, I’m speaking of the best possible ones. There is something we have grasped at in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent and chemistry may be a very interesting job, but something has evaded us.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” 

-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

Here’s to you, Baylor

After moving back from New York, I headed to stay in Waco for the week prior to graduation. I expected my street to have it’s usual busyness: people constantly on the sidewalk and our porch, cars flying by with sonic cups hanging out the windows, and the guys next door blaring Lynard Skynard. But to my surprise, it wasn’t like that at all. All of the undergrad students had headed home for summer, and all that remained were me and my gals and our class.

The quietness and calmness of my porch swing at dusk gifted me the opportunity of reflecting on all of the ways Baylor has cultivated me; the way I carry myself, the way my mind works and the condition of my heart. If you’ve ever spoken to a Baylor alum or current student, I think we all say the same things about our university. “There’s really no place like Baylor,” or, “I left my heart in Waco,” or, “Actually, I like Waco,”… I mean…Where else can you get free Dr. Pepper floats, play tennis, see live bears on campus, have Chick-fil-A and buy every Heisman t-shirt imaginable within about 15 yards of each other!?! BUT. In comparison of what this university and it’s people have done to challenge, grow and condition me for this world, those amenities are miniscule. I’m a passionate believer in worth, purpose and continual forward progress in all aspects of life. And things, objects, and tangibles that the world brings do not contribute to progression. The catalyst for authentic improvement and passionate persistence are derived from the core of your being, and the people that have helped in contouring your zeal for life.

In a society where everything is changing, it’s inevitable that to ‘stay with the pack’, a person or organization must grit their teeth and make adjustments – no matter what. Technology, social media, job markets, ways of competing, strategies for forward progress: they’re all constantly evolving – and consequently, weeding out the laggers. A common ‘mistake’, if you will, in this ongoing process, is altering the core of your being to keep up with society.

To be yourself in a society that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Enter Baylor. My four years at Baylor was an era where I watched the entire eclipse of the process. Thousands of students and I witnessed Baylor be bold. Making moves. Making changes. But Baylor didn’t take these leaps to stay with the pack: she jumped up front and said, “I’ll lead”.

I’ll reflect on our athletic program, since that’s where I devoted my studying, time and attention. I have to believe that for this 2011-2012 school year, Baylor is the hottest athletic program in the country. But it wasn’t by mere chance. I wrote in an earlier post regarding the rapid change in Baylor’s football program over the course of four short seasons. Producing a Heisman winner didn’t come by chance. It didn’t come by doing what other schools or programs did. But  Briles made changes in order to produce different results. The vision for change comes from an inner desire to be loyal to the university while lovingly making bold changes at the same time. And when the nation started scratching their heads and peering into campus, quickly recognized the authenticity of Baylor.

I have been blessed enough to spend the most revolutionary, exciting and memorable era at Baylor in many years. The people I have worked and studied alongside are on the move, headed for success and happy. There is an inner peace and contentment knowing that the people surrounding me are supporting my every move. I am confident that my best friends, coworkers, classmates and professors will rejoice with me when I succeed, help me up when I’m down and walk with me through life. Baylor fam.

So to the professors who listened to me spill about my dreams for so many of your after hours – thank you for realistically preparing me, yet still encouraging me for my future. To the SID’s and coaches – your loyalty and faithfulness is the backbone of our program, and the success ultimately rests on your love for this university. Thank you for giving us an example of dedication paying off. To my late night hoopers – I always felt like I was wearing #15 on my back, and each time I got knocked down after a long day made me better – thanks for physically pushing me. (And to the people working out next to me in the SLC – we were always competing whether you knew it or not.) To my friends and classmates – you showed me what community and love and support looks like… at all times. Thank you for a beautiful picture of service and support. And to everyone coming to, going from or just passing by: join me in thanking Baylor for so earnestly chasing after success while still remaining true to the foundational beliefs as an institution. Thank you, Baylor, for displaying to me the most beautiful portrait of success imaginable.

More on Baylor’s hottest year in athletics, ever: Ian McCaw Should Be AD of Year / BU Athletic Program Hits the Big Time / Baylor Sports Revival / For Baylor, Business is Finished / Baylor sees rise in applications  / Baylor has made a remarkable rise in redemption