All the Little Big Things

jian-xhin-281513After a week of working, balancing (or not balancing), studying, and stressing, congratulations everyone; we’ve made it through another week. For the quarter system students, this is the hard part to get through— midterms started weeks ago and from now on they don’t really stop. We are all trying to just hold on until Thanksgiving break. Good thing is, that is now about a month away. Bad thing? It’s a month away.

Ever wonder how you are possibly going to get through it all in one piece?

I am sure I’m not the only one in saying that these weeks get hard. There’s a lot of stress in finding a balance between classes or working or studying or socializing or… You see, there’s a lot to fit into the daily lifestyle of being a functional human being. Notice the word functional.

I’m not even a part of the 9 to 5 working world yet and life already has its struggles. As I get older, it seems things are added to my list of responsibilities, little by little, and I have to adjust to that. Sure, life does get in the way of that adjustment sometimes, throwing new burdens on top of the old, that happens. But there is always a way to get through it all, to keep looking forward. Whether you love what you do every day, or you’re working towards the time in your life that you can, I’m beginning to understand that it isn’t always about that one test grade or that wrong thing you said that keeps replaying in your head…

You have to see the little big things.

Do you remember the last time you got a really good hug? I mean the kind where you’re holding on to that person, they’re holding on to you, and in that moment, nothing has ever felt so comfortable.david-o-andersen-201881

Do you remember the last good sleep you had? The kind where you you wake up slowly, your body stretches out, and your eyes open to a morning that you actually feel ready for; you feel good.

And do you remember the last time someone said “I love you” without those three little words? Maybe they said to “drive safe” or “call me tonight”, or even asked how your day was and meant it or just gave you the attention you deserve— these are the unspoken I love you’s.

Yet none of these are big things. In the midst of all that goes on in our lives and whatever hardship might come your way, looking at the hard parts only makes them harder. It makes them bigger. I know that sometimes it’s unavoidable, the bigger it is in your life more times you think about it.

But for just a moment, I only ask for one, stop and think about the little things that happened today.

Did someone hold a door open for you, even though they didn’t have to?

Did you talk to someone you care about and remember that you have people in your life who care for you too?

And did you wake up this morning, after a good sleep or not, and remember to smell the roses, smell the rain— did you experience life today?

Right now, I am doing my best not to take things for granted, to see all sides of something and take whatever comes to me in stride. Just like my parents always taught me, I’m trying to be better. Not just for my friends, or my career, or my future. I’m trying to be better for me.

michael-fertig-2429That includes a full appreciation of what this life has brought me.

Every week has brought its own challenge, sometimes adding to the last that I wasn’t quite over yet. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good life, that the little things don’t matter.

In this life it all matters, every little bit. And I hope you were reminded of that today.

 

Before and After– As the Glass Breaks

aaron-burden-185993Have you ever heard that metaphor about the breaking glass? I heard it on How I Met Your Mother, it goes something like this: There are a lot of little things about life that we don’t notice or don’t really see until someone tells us. We don’t see it until we have nowhere else to look. Once that happens, the glass breaks— we can’t unsee it, we can’t go back. Your reality changes.

This week, that glass in front of my perspective on life has been breaking, little by little. And once it’s finished, there is no going back.

If anyone else has been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, things might be a little bit lost right now. You might be questioning things, the purpose and the point, the love and the loss… I’ve been wondering one thing:

Now what?

The phrase carpe diem comes to mind, something I’ve been trying to embody over the years in a lot of different ways. I got a tattoo on Christmas Eve last year because it was something I needed to do for me, I self-published a book after graduating high school because it was an accomplishment I wanted for life, and I am pursuing something I am passionate about because I cannot imagine living my life any other way.

Because life is too short.

The idea of losing friends at this age, an incredible person who lived a life worth living— that terrifies me. Not in the way that it is a possibility, but that it happens. It happened. And there is nothing any of us can really do to change it.

seth-macey-410725Two weeks ago, that was before— if someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I would have told them that I wanted to be a writer. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, I want to make change for the better, and I want to do it through my passion and my love for both writing and the people I care about. I’ve had that answer down for years, that’s what I wanted. Make change, spread love, and write obsessively.

But if you asked me now, I don’t quite know what I want.

I mean of course I still want to write and make change, but how? Maybe I want to live this life without regrets, without lost moments. Yet, maybe I want to live a life appreciating what a blessing it is to have woken up to see another day today.

That’s the hard part, that I’m not confident in what I want out of this life anymore. But I’m learning to be okay with that. 

Because there are a lot of times when we’re going to lose our way, our perspective change, and maybe we just need a little help. So ask for it, put a claim on the love you deserve— you are allowed to not be great all the time.

You are allowed to be lost.

These past two years of my life have forced me to grow up, to understand, and to become so much more than I ever thought I would have ever been by now. My path has changed, my heart has been redirected, and my faith has been tested time and time again. Yet that’s what it means to grow up. I have learned to weather the hard times, appreciate the good ones, and never forget the people who have been by my side through it all.

I’m starting to understand more about who we are as human beings as time goes on, as I meet more people and reconnect with old friends. We are the ones that keep each other going. This week I have seen such an outpouring of support from friends and family and even strangers to comfort one another in a time of need… In the midst of chaos, that has been incredibly comforting to me. Not just in a way of knowing that people can be good, but knowing that this life can be too.

This life still holds beauty.

That’s the point of seeing the forest for the trees, it is still good. Bad things happen, fires rage on through our lives, we lose people, and sometimes we lose ourselves.

In the end, we are still here, to live and to lose and to breathe.

We are still here to support one another and to love, to hope, to believe in something more.

The days are still passing, one right after another, and it takes time to remember, this day is yours. The time is now and it’s all right to not know what you want to do with that time. As long as you do something anyway.

I’m not saying go get a tattoo, or write a book, or change your life’s plan. But I am saying to remember what it means to still be here, to seize every day that we get, and to do everything you can to make worth of the moments you get.bright-lights-string

I’m getting used to the control we don’t have, accepting that this life isn’t completely in my hands. I’m finding my way to being okay with that, with the uncertainty of it all. And in time, I hope you can all find a way to go after what you want this life to be.

So here’s to getting lost, to asking for help and finding our way amongst the broken glass. Here’s to loving hard and loving lots before we run out of time to do it all for ourselves.

And here’s to making the “After” something worth living in.

If not now, when?

For Maddie Elliott

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on the fragility of our human lives, the time limits on all of us that we simply cannot see. I know that I wrote it yesterday, yet I had no idea I was actually writing about one of the most beautiful souls kristina-m-m-158842I have ever known. I was yet to realize a wonderful friend and kind heart had just been lost.

This is for Madeline Elliott.

Though I knew her through classes and crossed paths throughout the years, even I could tell that Maddie was truly one of a kind. She was the kind of girl who could bring a smile to anyone’s face with one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. Every time I talked to her, whether it was about something important or simply trivial, we always ended up talking for so much longer than we had planned because she was just that kind of personshe could connect with anyone.

From the moment I met her I knew one thing: this girl is going to touch so many lives. And she has. Because it isn’t about how long you live, but truly how you live. She did it beautifully. From someone who keeps their phone password as her birthday and the best friends whose lives were changed with her in it, to the strangers she passed on the street with a simple smile to lighten their day and the people who knew her, adored her, and she didn’t even know… This girl was incredible. Her presence was a light in so many peoples lives, including mine, and when I said in my post yesterday to tell people you love them, I meant it. Because things like this happen, we lose people, and loved ones are gone before they had a chance to make this life their own. But I know that Maddie did, she lived a beautiful life of faith, impacting so many people with who she was. Her loss is a great one, her love was infectious, and her memory will last forever in each one of us.


I wrote this for you Maddie.

I live for the strangers who smile at me as they pass by and those who always remind me that they care.

I live for the “have a good night”‘s from the elderly because they’ve seen enough of bad ones, they know life can be unfair.

I live for the people who know how to laugh, straight from the belly with their heads tipped back in abandon.sabine-van-straaten-280388

And I live for the people who have changed my life, and they never even knew how many pieces of me came from them.

There’s something about free spirits, the ones who’s hearts beat and it feels like the world is beating along;

Every breath they take, the wind blows a little longer. Every connection they make, their life grows a little stronger.

There is warmth in their smile, their hope, their being— that irreplaceable kind of energy that makes the world keep moving

and time keep changing, as the world around us moves, these are the kind of people who help us to get up and move along too.

But sometimes we have to slow down, we lose something big, someone important, and we forget about the moving,

the loving, the changing, the hoping… We might forget about the living to mourn those who can no longer do so.

So what do you do when the one who embodied the idea of life with their own, with their living and loving and hoping;

aaron-burden-195608The idea of making every breath one of beauty, of light, of changing the world by just being part of it.

What do you do when they’re gone?

You stop, take a moment, maybe two— take as many as you need— and you hold on to the blessing it is to know someone like that.

Take a breath, take a few, and remember what it means to tell someone those three little words, “I love you.”

Remember their heart that beat for the world to beat with them, remember the smiles they offered, the hope that they held.

Remember the moments they changed your life, the laughs they abandoned themselves to, the memories they made.

You hold on to the love they left behind for you.

And you spread that love, that hope, that faith; you spread it until there is no place in this world left untouched.

Make the laughter they held the healing you feel as time jerry-kiesewetter-189034goes on and the wounds of loss begin to close.

Say what you mean, those three little words, as many times as it takes for someone else to hear your voice.

And be there, in this world, be present in the lives of those you love. Because we never know how much time any of us have

to leave something good behind while we can.


My prayers go out to her family and her friends, to all those who knew Maddie, for my heart is with you. If anyone would like to support them in this time, here is the link to the gofundme page for Madeline.

In the words of Helen Keller,

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”

Keys to Happiness- Intro to Change

If you’ve been following my blog for the past year or so, you would know that even though I’m a current chemistry major, I’m switching my major to English. To a lot of people, this might seem foolish, wasteful, or even flat out irresponsible. Here’s the thing: I’m okay with that.ksenia-makagonova-229007.jpg I would rather stress, or struggle, or find my way through college doing something I love rather than do all of that feeling stuck in something that makes me feel inferior or in a major I simply do not care for.

Can you see the difference?

Now I say all this with the understanding that leaving college as an “English major” does not have the best reputation— for good reason. Although it is extremely versatile, it is also not something that people are necessarily looking for throughout the professional world. The job outlook is not great. I know that. But I said I’m switching my major, I didn’t say that’s all I was planning to do… Even the biggest dreamers need a backup plan; for me, that includes adding a minor, at least. Have I fully decided what it’s going to be? Not yet, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to make these next three years worth everything I’ve got.

If I’m not setting myself up for a better life now, then when will I ever?

College is a difficult four years where our lifestyles are something completely different from they have ever been or ever will be again— this is a world of it’s own. Once we get out of here, we cross the border between young adult/just figuring things out to stepping into the realm of the professional world with no real way to go back. Once I leave this college life I haven’t finished creating yet, it’s going to be hard to know where I need to go; that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to succeed. The success of my major switch is riding aaron-burden-195608not only on successfully switching, but also on finding internships, making connections now (network, network, network), and capitalizing on every opportunity I have to make this college experience worth it.

As I figure out how to make every action I take here count, one of my closest friends here is also in the process of switching her major. We both started at the same time. Ironically, we are switching from almost the same major but we are headed in completely different directions. One big difference between us two? She is on her second major switch right now.

As one of the hardest parts of college and just like so many other students, she’s had a hard time finding the right fit, the right major for her time here. After choosing a different path last quarter, she go into it, took a few classes, and realized it wasn’t what she wanted. A crossroads. The way many might see it, she had two main options: panic, dropout, stay home, and come back after figuring it out, OR take a deep breath, think about her own interests, and give herself a chance at another path.

Lucky for me, she chose option two.

So over the summer, she did a little research, found an internship, and in the process, discovered a better direction she really liked. Now she’s three weeks in and I’m starting to see that even though a lot of us might end up in a bad spot or we aren’t quite sure we like the direction we’re headed in, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.railroad walk

Because how is that second switch going for her right now?

She is thriving.

You see, there are a lot of things we could do to be happy with where we are in our lives. Some people read self-help books, others meditate, and plenty decide to stick it out and work for something better. But there’s one thing I think a lot of people are afraid of but often desperately need to do, something that we leave for a last resort: Making a change.

As I grow up, maybe that will mean moving to a new city or finding a better job. I know right now for a lot of people my age, it’s finding a new club/group to join or switching to a school that fits them a little better. But just like me or my friend, sometimes making a change is the best possible decision we can make. Don’t be afraid to make it.

If you’re not happy or you’re struggling, find a way to make it so that if you have to struggle, you can at least struggle towards something that will be worth it. We only have one life to live, a life that we don’t have a timeline for when it gets hard and complicated and messy. And we’re going to get lost, I know I have countless times already, but that’s all a part of the experience.

Without a little struggle, the good times couldn’t possibly be worth it. And as cliche as I know it all sounds,sean-afnan-244576 without trying out the wrong paths, we wouldn’t be able to find our way to the right ones. So here’s to discovering success, discovering ourselves, and of course, discovering the keys to being happy.

Until next time, have a beautiful weekend everyone 🙂

 

In Loving Memory and Suicide Prevention

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

They say that no matter what happens, life goes on. And it does— unless something else gets in the way.

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On Wednesday, our 15 year old yellow Lab, Samson, passed away and though I am incredibly sad to have lost a member of our family, I am also thankful he had such a long life with us. Over the years, we watched him grow up, climb fences, father puppies, and eat our food (two whole cakes at one point). Then we watched him grow older, slow down, climb the stairs less, and inch his way towards a deadline none of us could see.  

No one can ever truly see it coming.

But that’s the point. Because lately I have been thinking a lot about life and death, or more specifically, death when it comes by way of suicide. We’re not supposed to be able to see that deadline, but far too often, people make their own.

It has been almost three years, yet I can still remember a young boy who had attended Folsom Middle and went as far as homeschooling to escape relentless torment— Ronin took his own life because he was bullied too far past his breaking point. At age 12, he was said to be kind, outgoing, and even “better than some of the girls” when it came to the junior cheerleading squad. I still remember the green ribbons tied around trees throughout town for him. He was only in seventh grade and sometimes I wonder where Ronin would be now if he were still alive; a question none of us will ever have the answer to.

Three weeks ago, a junior from Cal Poly Slo took his own life after battling what seemed to be bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I never knew Jack either, but from what I can tell he had an incredible amount of promise and a personality that made others feel like they mattered. Though there may be no proven cure for the two illnesses he suffered from, there are countless ways to find help and reach out when someone is struggling to cope day by day. Every day the stigma around mental illness fades little by little, but even so, the rates of suicide in young adults and teenagers continues to rise.michael-dam-258179.jpg

Something needs to change.

Two weeks ago, a girl I can only say I knew from passing in the halls of Vista Del Lago High or as part of the Class of 2015 also took her own life. Yet Cinnamon is survived by so many people from the music program at the high school, which you may donate to in memory of her, to her family and friends alike. Though I can say nothing about her motivations or the situation she found herself in that led to her death, I can say that she was loved and made an impact on countless people throughout her life.

A life that was cut too short.

I said this last year in my post on world suicide prevention month, but this is something I can never say enough: Your life matters. No matter what you’ve been through, from family divorce and bullying, to heartbreak and failure, the universal truth of the matter is that life goes on.

But it can only do that if you let it.

When it comes to mental illness, or bullying, or hardship that seems too large to overcome, people can find themselves wanting to quit, wanting a way out. Maybe you aren’t where you wanted to be in your life or you don’t think you’re strong enough, good enough, smart enough… The list goes on and the people who feel this way begin to add up, when maybe a just few of them can’t hear it when someone says “I love you” or “you’re important to me.”

These words cannot be said enough, if you love somebody, tell them that. To anyone who has ever found themselves losing hope, or running out of fight, know that it is okay to ask for help, there is nothing wrong with that. For you are not broken, you are never a burden, and you will always be loved by someone. Just because you don’t always feel strong or like people need you in this life doesn’t mean either is true.

Just because you cannot see the stars in the daylight does not mean they aren’t there.

For the survivors and those who have lost loved ones, support is always, always a priority. My heart goes out to all of you in hope that healing can come with time.

In order to help raise awareness and prevent tragedies like this in the future, here are just a few warning signs of suicide to look out for and a link if you want to know more: Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, talking about being a burden to others, increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, or withdrawing/feeling isolated.

annie-spratt-218458Below, if you or someone you know ever needs assistance in a hard time or just needs some help, here is the Crisis Text Line which is a toll-free, nationwide 24/7 crisis text line. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline for suicidal crisis or emotional distress. And lastly, The Trevor Project which is a nationwide organization that provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

And on a final but very important note, if anyone ever needs someone to talk to, to not talk to, or just sit and exist with, I am always available no matter who you are, how I know you, or even if I know you at all. My email is on the site, kwilliamsbooks@gmail.com, feel free to reach out to me, any time and any day. Because you are worth it.

Though we may not be at Hogwarts, and I may not be a wizard, the quote still stands…

“Help will always be given [in my life] to those who ask for it.”