The Year That Started With a Dream Wall: 2014 in Review

MO 2014

MO 2014

It started with friends coming over for a post-New Year’s party featuring a dream wall that everybody signed with goals, hopes, and dreams for 2014 and beyond. We each happily began our year, friends coming back throughout the months that ensued to check off items, scratching out a few that didn’t stir our hearts anymore, and adding new ones along the way, because we are ever changing, and true dreams recognize the wind and waves to move with you, not against you.
Right now, I can only tell you my journey of those winds and waves this year.
It went a little something like this:

I found my people.
Together we biked down city streets at night cheering at the top of our lungs so free. We climbed trees, played ukuleles in each other’s backyards, square danced, and laid under stars together. We told stories, shared struggles, asked bigger questions, stepping away from black and white into grey, yellow, neon green, and those hues Crayola has yet to codify. 

I celebrated firsts.
My first jellyfish sting.
My first skinnydipping on Playa Flamenco, a beach on the island of Culebra. And it was everything I thought it would be until a second jellyfish stung me and I ran out of the late night water screaming, forgetting to cover my parts.

MO 2014

MO 2014

I fell in love.
Not in the traditional romantic sense.
But with the Earth, animals, and humanity.
I fell in love with chickens, experiencing the joy of chicken farming and that tingly happy feeling you get when you cuddle a chicken.
I fell in love with the night sounds and the warm breeze that wafts into your tent as you fall asleep with the window unzipped.
I fell in love with a city that grew me up into maturity. 
Then I moved cities, far away enough to seize an irresistible new opportunity for growth, but close enough to come back and sit on its docks in total silence feeling like I just had the best conversation in the world.
I settled into a new house with roommates from India and Canada.
I left a job and began a new one.
I changed perspectives.

I judged certain people and realized the ways in which I am every bit as much of a contributor to the problem as part of the solution.

I defended myself silly until I learned to stop pining for my opinion to receive external validation.

I went pescatarian, and at the end of this year, watched a man reel in a fish that bled profusely as he removed the hook, making full-on vegetarian one of my 2015 goals.

I ditched make up. For good. And don’t feel guilty about the times I whip out tinted sunscreen under my eyes after late night writing binges.

There were tough calls, hard breaks
An ended relationship like a fissure with jagged edges
That ended more beautifully than I could have ever imagined.

There was music.
Music that got me through death.
Music that got me to and through my third half ironman.

I developed confidence. Developed it by forcing myself to tell others about my book idea-turned-into-action. And I kept telling others even after I received discouraging feedback in an encounter that left me so embarrassed, I ran out of a conference room and cried in the bathroom. Then I gave myself a pep talk, walked out the bathroom door, and the next day, told triple the amount of people I’ve ever told in a single day.

I developed it by openly disagreeing with others, stating my opinion, and making my voice heard. There was that work meeting where a man interrupted me and I said flatly, “I wasn’t done speaking yet,” without even a second thought about holding back.

I felt.
Felt afraid of riding my bike for the first time as I rode in an ambulance to the ER with a friend who got hit on a training ride. I felt afraid after getting hit by a car on my morning commute, grateful for how minor it was. I felt afraid of training rides with a new team after there were three weeks in a row of accidents. I felt resilience as I rode and trained anyway. I felt freed after I reached out to female cycling friends once I realized just how afraid I became, and was met with encouragement and understanding. I felt joy as I had more and more God-its-good-to-be-alive mornings on my bike, my freedom machine, my Big Blue. The kind of mornings that make you stand up on both pedals and say, “Weeeeeee,” biking fears replaced by biking bliss.

I gave myself the permission I never needed.
Permission to not have kids. Permission to reduce my triathlon training in exchange for pursuing creative endeavors. Permission to not have to feel productive all the time, instead spending an hour capturing the sunset through my camera lens from a third story window.

I wrestled. With seemingly everything.
Marriage. God. Myself. Gender. Anything with one too many question marks. Privilege. Food justice. Bike parts. The back door lock. Academia. The front door lock. The US political party system. Women- only spaces. Mouse traps. Death. The future. The past. And the length of this paragraph.

I learned.
Learned from friends who live in Rwanda what it was like to grow up during the genocide. And then, I learned about the peace and reconciliation process of Gacaca, moved as my friend told me, “People think Rwanda’s story is about genocide. But what they don’t know is ours is a story of forgiveness.”
I learned that perhaps if we aren’t experiencing joy in our lives, it’s because we’re not creating it. And with that, I stopped at a waterfall that I used to zoom past every day on my way to work. Stopped to take pictures. Stopped to close my eyes so that I could solely focus on my sense of hearing- hearing that thundering waterfall sound with a few birds chirping in the background. And I would make sure to do this again when it snowed and again when it thawed until the only thing that stopped this newly adopted morning routine was moving away.

MO 2014

MO 2014

I spent money.
On a new racing bike, a Specialized Alias, feeling only one twinge of guilt over the cost before smashing it to the grindstone, remembering that privilege guilt doesn’t actually create systemic change, and that part of my triathlon passion is not just the joy of the sport, but in challenging gender norms.
I spent it on airfare to Puerto Rico, where I timbered trees with a WOOFer from Czech Republic who’d sing the words of Ke$ha everytime the tree fell: “It’s going down, I’m yelling timber…”

I interviewed people. Interviewed women in their 80s, 90s (including my 93 year old grandmother) and even 100s, on their lives, asking hard questions, receiving even harder answers. I interviewed men regarding gender dynamics, and walked away with full reality of male privilege but completely excited about allyship and creating spaces for women and men to talk about the messages we face daily but often don’t bring up.

I let go.
Let go enough to be silly and join strangers-turned-friends in giving out free hugs at the Farmers Market.
Let go enough to dance on a street corner to “Jump on it” with a woman who was homeless.
Let go of the cradle-to-grave life itinerary I used to demand and took on a one year global health fellowship. I have no idea what I’ll do when it’s over in 7 months. But never the matter. I’ve let go. And choose to believe it will all work out.

I laughed.
Laughed as friends and I sledded, saucer-ed and snowtubed down a staircase-turned-snow ramp during the polar vortex, bombogenesis, snowmageddon that was winter 2014.
Laughed as my dad told me stories about his life “BC” (before children)
Laughed at myself as I mispronounced bike parts and for the first time, it didn’t sting; the need to prove myself as a competent women replaced by need for humor and grace.

I stopped.
Stopped going to Church.
At least the one that meets on Sunday mornings in pews, instead experiencing the kind of Church that happens when you’re about to go into your house but something catches you outside, urging you to sit on the porch ledge and ponder the Pleiades until yougaze becomes a wordless prayer as you experience the intimacy of God like one thousand choirs filled with sacred song.  
I stopped filling journals with worries and instead, created “memories I don’t want to forget” pages, trying to capture experiences that leave my mind all too quickly.

And as quickly as it started, so quickly it’s ending.
Benjamin Franklin, looking at a painting of a sun that artists found difficult to decipher as a rising or setting sun, once said, “But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is indeed a rising and not a setting sun.” The coda to this year may end with 11:59:59 on the clock, a few dim stars in the winter air, about to be blasted with fireworks. But in my heart is tomorrow’s sunrise, an invitation to not just a new day, but a new year. I can already peer into its apertures, knowing 2015 will bring another move, some wanderlust in Africa, my 10 year high school reunion, and lots of humble embraces with old and new friends. The dot-dot-dot ellipses of these 365 days ahead remain a mystery, but we’re about to fill pages with color, question marks and exclamation points.
Two thousand fifteen.
Let’s write the next first sentence in our stories that are ever changing, ever evolving,
forever living onward into a beautiful infinity.

MO 2014

MO 2014

Advertisements

14 for 14: Chickens, Mindfulness, and Other New Year’s Goals

MO 2014

Some friends came over at the beginning of the year and each person wrote goals on our “dream wall.”

1. Go pescatarian/flexitarian. Time to ditch the meat, save the chickens, eat more veggies, and ensure environmental sustainability. But if you invite me over for dinner, and you’ve already made a dish containing meat, I won’t turn it down. 🙂

2. Submit one piece of writing per month for publication.

3. Begin backyard chicken farming.

4. Get back into composting regularly.

5. Learn how to do three more bike skills (like replacing parts, etc.) A big thanks to Bearings Bike Project for helping me learn how to replace cantilever brakes last fall!

6. Do another Ironman 70.3 (come on Eagleman waiting list…)

7. Ditch make up… for good.
Last year I came close- 360/365- and now it’s time to amp up. Make up is a choice and there is no right or wrong, just a personal decision about what’s best for you. I decided not to because I’d rather spend my time and money on things that mean more to me, and I believe it can perpetuate the notion that women need to look beautiful in ways other than what’s inside.

8. Do mindfulness meditation for 2 minutes at least 4x/week

9. Visit my 93-year-old Grammie and interview her about her life.

10. Begin collecting letters for my first book project: Letters to Future Sisters of the World 

11. Focus on reducing the amount of anxiety medication I take.

12. Go backpacking.

13. Visit at least two new states/countries.

14. Love Life. Be Brave. Play often. Forever and ever, Amen.

IMG_0199

A Long December (And There’s Reason to Believe.)

It’s been a shitty day, a shitty week… Hell, it’s been a shitty year,” a friend shared with me recently. “I’m just ready for a new year, a fresh start,” a patient solemnly disclosed to me. Isn’t it easy to … Continue reading

Just a few thoughts before race day about not being silent and changing the world…

Opportunities in life don’t always come for the swift, the fastest. Sometimes opportunities come for those who are willing, who are looking, who are ready. And so, sitting here in this plane listening to the songs that guided me through … Continue reading

13 Goals and Mantras for 2013

Fast forward to December 31, 2013.

What will you have said or done this year?

What stories will you be telling New Year’s Eve, gathered ’round the table of your friends or family, laughing about the year and where it’s taken you? Stories of hope, fearlessness, and exploration? Or stories of repetition, redundancy, and minimal risk?

We get one 2013. What will you do this year?

Here’s 13 goals I have for the year as well as mantras to shape my attitude, perspective, and behaviors:

Goals:
1) Roadtrip out to Colorado with family (friends welcome too!) and experience the power and freedom of the open road.

2) After road tripping, compete in the Boulder 70.3 half ironman. But don’t just swim, pedal and run. Make those 70.3 mile of pain cathartic. Throughout the race, relinquish your people-pleasing ways of stale Christianity and religious dogma. With each stroke, pedal, and stride, eagerly welcome in the spirit of God… the one that casts out fear… the one that offers freedom… that speaks of a bigger world with a place at the table for everyone…

3. Develop my sense of humor. Make jokes even if they don’t end up being funny. Laugh at other people’s jokes, even if they aren’t funny.
“The best thing you ever did for me was to help me take my life less seriously…. it’s only life after all…. 

4. Regularly look up at the sky… while walking, while running, while on the front porch sipping green tea… and marvel at the beauty we are surrounded with each day.

5. Surrender my “need” for “why.” Surrender the desire to know how everything will turn out, as if to dismiss the bigness of God’s ability to use all things for good. Demanding a “why” for the happenings of life takes away from the adventure. Because Helen Keller was right. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

6. Go to the river with some friends on your 26th birthday. Find some rocks and write your regrets on the rocks with a Sharpie— the things you thought you would have done by now (Peace Corps, grad school….)- the way it was “supposed” to turn out– and toss ’em in the water. Sink them. Skip them. Throw them like a shotput. But however you choose to do it, let the shame, disappointment, and fear of the future go with the rocks you’ve now let go of. Now take some rocks, write all the things you’re grateful for having done these past few years, your hopes, your dreams, and let them go too. Because you’ll find them. Out there. In the open road. Just waiting for you again. You need only to go…

7. Take (at least) one vocational risk: apply for grad school, reach out to a publisher, connect with Sports for Development and Peace organizations.

8. Plant strawberries in the backyard this spring and water my tomato plant every day in effort to grow more than the 5 dinky cherry tomatoes I grew last year.

Mantras:
9. “This too will shape me.”

In Drops Like Stars, Rob Bell challenges readers with the following charge:
“We will become bitter or better,
closed or open,
more ignorant or more aware.
We will become more or less tuned in to the thousands upon thousands of gifts
we are surrounded with every single moment of every single day. This too will shape me.
The only question left is, how?”

10. “Create.” Create things regularly. Art. Beauty. Laughter. Photography. Peace. Create things that once didn’t exist and are now better for having experienced or shared them.

11. “Just say yes.” When my anxiety tries to get me to say “no” out of fear—– Just say yes.”

12. “Just begin.” You have ideas in your head. Don’t get too caught up in how to get to the final picture. Just. Begin.

13. Love life. Be brave. Play harder. Forever and ever. Amen.

Image

How I Spent The Holidays, 2012 Edition. ((aka Sex Ed with my Parents at Christmas Dinner, Sending a Message in a Bottle, and Creating Other Memories I Will Never, Ever Forget.))

The past ten days or so have been a total blur. I’m exhausted, elated, haven’t showered in three days, and for the life of me, can’t seem to remember what day it is and I’d have it no other way.

Something beautiful happened these holidays. Some of it, out of the ordinary. The rest of it, just simple moments treasured a little bit tighter and with a little more gratitude.

There was eating large handfuls of cookie dough, not worrying at all about the possibility of salmonella or the fact that we hadn’t eaten one vegetable that day.
There was a visit to The Peace House,where I was once again reminded that peace truly does exist in this world and all we need to do is create it. 

There was the pilgrimage to my parents house via Route 1 in which I sang along with Cat Stevens to “Peace Train” at the top of my lungs while simultaneously taking pictures of open fields and farms with one hand while driving with the other.

I watched Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies” Graceland documentary with my dad as we mused in gratitude at music’s ability to bring together two disparate cultures, calling attention to peace, friendship, and unity in the midst of apartheid’s evil. We sang along to the fast high-pitched choirs of The Gaza Sisters chanting, “I know what I know; I’ll sing what I said…”

I took long walks with old friends.

I talked on the phone for an hour with a dear friend about our goals for 2013 and dreamed something bigger.

I taught my 28 year old sister with Down Syndrome how to use a plunger after someone in the family—-no one will fess up as to who— clogged the toilet. “Smells like poop!” my sister observed. “Yes, but not for long!” I reminded, shoving the plunger deeper into the toilet.

I got yelled at by my dad and sister for still being asleep at 9:30 AM Christmas morning. When I didn’t then promptly rise out of bed one minute after the yelling ended, my sister came in my room, turned on all the lights and jumped on my bed. And I deserved it.

I signed up for my first half Ironman in Boulder, Colorado, August 4, 2013 and went on my first training run: a cold, slow, 2.5 miles spent envisioning months of grit-your-teeth workouts with surges of endorphins, reminding me I am alive and have breath and a body.

I asked my parents “inappropriate” questions during Christmas dinner. “What was sex ed like for you when you were in high school?” After some confused looks from my aunt and mom’s faces, I realize the more appropriate question would have been, “Did you have sex ed?” to which I would learn, “No.” My brother blurted out that the only thing he remembers from high school health class was that his health teacher showed “a 70 year old man’s dong” and was told that, “at this man’s age, his thing will still work. But hers— her’s won’t.” I haven’t heard my mom laugh that hard in years.

My family and I watched The Christmas Story on Broadway the next day, thanks to my dad. My sister ate a foot-long hot dog, to which a 10 year old girl wandering around the restaurant pointed, and exclaimed, “That’s a big hot dog!!”

I spoke out about my feelings of seeing skimpy Aerie model’s plastered on illuminated billboards in Times Square, posing in nothing but a bra and underwear and indignantly stated that this contributes to the continued portrayal of women in hyper-sexualized, objectified, imagery.  I vowed to call it out when I see it and to not look the other way when the world represents my gender with stereotypes that do nothing but perpetuate the association of women as sexual objects instead of strong, competent people, imbued to make part of my life mission be to encourage women to celebrate the alternatives of these messages to discover the unlimited possibilities of who they can be with their lives, minds, and souls. (For more on this topic, see “Why it Matters Whether A Toy is Thin and Sexy or Not.”)

I sipped peppermint mocha with a mentor and walked away inspired, grateful, ready to make changes, and considered myself lucky to have such an influence in my life.

I biked down 34th St., Baltimore’s premier street for the best Christmas lights in town, with 500 people on bicycles during December’s Baltimore Bike Party. Stuck behind cars full of kids sticking their heads out windows, oooh-ing and aaaah-ing over Christmas lights, I sang along with some bikers who played “Tiny Dancer” from the back of their pimped-out bicycle. “Blue jean baby, LA lady…” we sang, gazing upward at white Christmas lights strung across the street, connecting neighbor to neighbor (and apparently biker to biker).

I went to the BBP’s dance party afterwards at the Pratt St. Ale House and made new friends. I celebrated a recent friend’s invitation to a “small group for people who are sick of small groups,” as she described a group of friends who are reading a Quaker book right now and finding ways to grow in their faith outside of organized religion. I almost got teary eyed. These are some of the very people I’ve been waiting to meet. I just didn’t know how to find them.

I ate lots of chocolate, especially at unusual times, like breakfast, without feeling one hint of guilt.

I had multiple sleepovers with soul-to-soul conversations, staying up entirely way too late every single night and I didn’t care.

I came up with three book ideas and glanced heaven-ward, asking God for just one to come out of my mind and onto matte paper.

I went on a New Year’s Eve late afternoon hike with my boyfriend and chiseled out pieces of ice encrusted on the water bank’s edges. We smashed them against the frozen stream, each time shouting out a regret of the past year or a promise to ourselves for the new year. “I’ll find a new job I love!” I exclaimed, smashing ice against ice. “This is for every time I people-pleased this year!” Smash. “This is for having a sense of humor next year!” It was free therapy, like whack-a-mole at the board walk, or popping mailing bubblewrap, only slightly more aggressive and freeing.

We said, “Why not?” to stopping by a small group of people gathered in front of the War Memorial on our way home. We dashed to the steps, where about 25 people gathered for an inter-faith prayer vigil to honor the lives of the city’s 216 homicide victims this year. Muslim and Christian pastors offered prayers and together, reading aloud the names and ages of each victim. The names of several one-month-olds were called and each time this happened, the woman next to me and I both gasped. We put our arms around each other tightly for the remainder of the vigil while tears rolled down my cheeks and snot dripped onto my scarf from my frozen nose. When the names were finished being read, tealight candles forming the number “216” were lit and Brian and I thanked the people who spoke, especially Michael, the Muslim man who used his words to express the need for people of differing faiths to come together in the name of peace and our God of Love to work together to end violence. He gave me his email address. Looking Brian and I in the eye, he sincerely invited us to sit down over coffee. I can’t wait to email him and get to know someone who worships Allah, the same God, I believe, that I worship, just with a different name. We walked back to the car, moved, calmed, and in awe of the beauty that still exists in the midst of darkness.

Moving into the latter part of the night, we gathered together eating meatballs and cookies and lots of guacamole around a table of six friends. My friend Rajni and I brought up the topic of our 2013 bucklist. “Bucketlist?” our friend Sam asked. “Yeah. It’s like a list of things that we want to do with our life, only we’re going to do them by December 31, 2013.” “But bucketlist implies you’re going to die at the end of the next year. Is that what you really want to call it?” “Ok, so not a bucketlist.” “An…. action list?” Yes. An action list. So we went around the table, each sharing tokens of our newly-created 2013 Action Lists. “Visit an Indian reservation,” Rajni shared. “Develop my sense of humor and stop taking life so seriously,” I offered. “Run a 3 hour marathon,” Sam declared. “Grow an urban vegetable garden,” Brian stated. We toasted to each of these dreams, played “2012” one last time while still in the same year, and left the house for New Year’s Eve fireworks at the harbor.
We ooh-ed and aaahh-ed over each burst and slow fizzle of dissipating firework in the cold nighttime sky, celebrating each and every one until the last firework of the grand finale. “Encore, encore!” We pleaded. Shrugging it off, we decided our night had only just begun. The six of us rolled, somersaulted, and crab-walked down Federal Hill Park until we were so dizzy that we fell down when we stood up. We walked along the harbor promenade and finished off a bottle of wine on the dock, deciding to send a message in the bottle off into the cold harbor waters. So we each wrote a token of kindness, like “live love,” and “This is your sign! Follow your dreams!” while singing The Police’s “Message in Bottle” and signed it: January 1st, 2013 Baltimore, MD and video-recorded the ceremonious toss of the bottle into the harbor. We walked away from the pier while one member of our group (I’ll protect their anonymity) peed on The Ritz Carlton. The Ritz-Carlton residences at the inner harbor are lavish condominium homes to the rich. Very rich. I applauded this person for his work, deeming it a big, “f*ck you” you to the rich. I realize we should love all people. I swear I try. But I just wonder where these people, with their Ferraris in the garage and high rise condo overlooking the harbor, were, when those 216 homicides took place this year and if they ever bothered to listen to the story of someone who knows the reality of life on the streets.

Proceeding onward, we walked right into the send-off a wedding. People in dresses and tuxes lined in a row with sparklers pointed in the air cheered on a bride and groom hopping into an old-school black carriage-like car. We stood near the line in our jeans and winter coats cheering on the bride and groom, as if we fit right in and had been at the wedding the whole time, whooping and hollering and celebrating along with a bunch of strangers at the dawn of a new year.

We meandered closer toward our destination, as if to hope that walking slower would make time slow down too, and stopped at the sand volleyball courts, where we made sand castles and wrote “love” in the sand with fingers in mittens. Sean, arguably the most social of the group, asked a guy dosing off in a parked truck to come out and take our picture. So we jumped in the air and the camera flashed and we said a big “thank you” and “happy new year” to a kind, tired stranger, desperately trying to prevent the final grains of sand from slipping to the bottom of this night’s hourglass.

As we headed back home, Brian hopped on my shoulders unexpectedly for a piggy back ride, and a group of young women cheered us on saying, “You go woman. I know, that’s right.” I couldn’t help but smile (and pray my knees would hold up just another block longer) and wish for the night to slow down. We spent the rest of our stroll linked arm-in-arm as a group, protesting adulthood, swearing it off entirely, proudly proclaiming we’ll live forever young. We wished every single passer-by on the street a “Happy New Year!” and it’s as though for one night, the entire world was civil and kind, like amiable old friends.

Rajni slept over and we stayed up chatting until sometime after 3:30 AM, excited about life, pondering adulthood, and how to live out our dreams and nullify normalcy and regularity, trading it in instead for life and vibrancy and contraire adventures. I climbed into bed and whispered into the atmosphere a “thank you” to God, bidding him/her goodnight, grateful for every stupid, beautiful, outrageously alive memory newly stamped in my mind and fell fast asleep.

I share these memories because I don’t want to forget them—the constant laughter, the friendship. I share them to etch every detail into a place I can come back to so that I can remind myself one day of what 25 felt like. I’m sure you have those memories too. Those times in life where you didn’t have a camera to capture every laugh, or a piece of paper to jot down every funny quote someone said that night, but still, you remember these moments. And I wonder what it would look like if we shared these memories to each other, to the world. And how much more beautiful this place would be. And how you would inspire me. And perhaps I would inspire you. And together, each human would inspire every other human. I wonder what would happen if instead of feeling pressure to adhere to societal definitions of “success,” we created our own anti-conformity and raised our hands in the air or sang or danced or cartwheeled or rolled down hills and rejected all that we’ve been taught for instead, what we feel, what makes us truly come alive, what makes us experience the beauty and wonder of life in all of its fullness. Because it’s possible. It’s happening already. We’ve only just begun. 

January First.

1/1/13.

Let’s see each other 12/31/13 and share deep belly laughs or shed a few bittersweet tears together as we talk about where this year has taken us and how we traded in fear for fearlessness.

Yes.
I can’t wait to see what we do with the year.

Because there’s 364 days left. And it’s all uncharted…

IMG_1276

12 Mantras for 2012

12 Mantras for 2012

 1) Say the serenity prayer every day. And mean it.

2) Quality, not quantity…In all areas of life, be it relationships or workouts.

3) Learn about and participate in microfinance.

4) “Remove the muzzle.” Kick the voices out of my head that don’t belong- the voices that told me what to believe, who or what is “right” or “wrong,” how I should vote (ha!), what my “gender role” is, what my marriage, children, and career should all look like; all of the voices that told me the words, language, and syntax I should use to express my faith but never encouraged me to speak or think for myself, what God might actually be trying to teach me. Expunge all of the voices that declared things in life within the context of black and white and left no room for grey (or red, or yellow, or robin’s egg blue, for that matter); that demand we must have an answer for every question, rather than learning to love the questions themselves. To all of those voices, I bid you adieu. You’ve had occupancy in mind for far too long and now it’s time for redemptive freedom and restoration. May God bless you on your journey with peace and grace. To God’s voice, to whom I am a fallen, loved image bearer, to your sweet whispers or your fervent stand-up-to-action roar, I welcome you in with urgency and immediacy and gratitude.

5) Be present in every moment, no matter how exciting/dull/menial/uncommon/ordinary this moment is.

6) Go to at least one peaceful protest/rally.

7) Accept that living with your heart on your sleeve will get you hurt, but it’s the only way to truly live.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
            If you want to make sure of keeping it intact,
you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
     Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
           But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change.
 It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” –C.S. Lewis

8) Play with my hair less. Maybe then I can stop having a need to run out to Target for dry shampoo.

9) Sing. Often. Don’t worry about what other people think of your voice. We all have one, even the “voiceless;” it’s just that some voices aren’t heard. Make your life sing to change that. Give way to songs of freedom completely incapable of being taken away from you. Sing it out. Sing loud. Sing to the tapestry of life and energy God has blessed you with.

10) Blow on wishies every chance I get.

 11) See myself as an equal in all relationships.

12) Embrace turning 25. Do not fear the full spectrum of human life that lie ahead of you, with all of its unknowns. I haven’t been promised a cradle-to-the-grave itinerary, so I will stop asking for one. Instead I’ll remember what I have been promised: a future and a hope. Unclench your fists. Unlock your knees. Open wide your heart, your ears, your eyes, your jaw, and your hands…Because the rest is all uncharted…

I’m done here.

Let’s live.