Friday, October 3, 2014


I have a lot of friends that say things like, "He has made me feel truly beautiful for the first time." What I have to say to that is, that is a bunch of crap. No one in this world should have to rely on someone else to make them feel beautiful. Now, understand that this rant comes from a place within me that I didn't even really know existed until recently, but I find it upsetting and somewhat offensive that women do not have a better sense of their worth without a man affirming them.

I have never been someone that has great self-esteem. I don't look into the mirror everyday and see what I would like to see; I don't always love my body and I don't feel the urge to show it off, but I do know that all of this is the way God made me. I do know that no man in my life needs tell me that I am beautiful and no man has the right to tell me that I am not. Although it is nice to hear that I am beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, cute, adorable... etc, it should only validate what I already know.

In the age of the "Selfie," it is difficult to feel completely confident in ourselves when we see how "flawless" those around us seem to be. Ladies, the size of your boobs does not matter. The dimples on your ass do not matter. The straightness of your hair does not matter (which for some reason has become a societal decision that hair must be straight... When did this happen?). None of it matters. You are beautiful, but you do not need me to tell you this. You do not need a guy to tell you this; you are the only one that should have a say in this.

Back to the hair thing, when I was in 8th grade, I had my hair pulled back and the hair tie broke. I had an extra, so all was well, but a classmate of mine said, "Is your hair naturally curly?" I said that it was a bit wavy, but not really curly. She responded by saying, "Oh, so that is why your hair is so frizzy." Umm... What? I didn't take offense to this, because she didn't mean it in a malicious way, like a lot of my classmates would have, but it is something that has stuck with me. This was before I was told that I needed to go drink a Slim Fast (understand that I probably weighed, maybe, a hundred pounds at the time and did not need to "drink a Slim Fast," but this was after I was told that my freckles were ugly and I should probably buy some liquid coverup (I have learned to love my freckles and miss them when they aren't as noticeable, because of the lack of sun).

If you don't believe you are beautiful, you have already lost. You need to believe it without the influence of others, because people can be mean, but even the nice ones should not have to take on the job of ensuring that you identify as beautiful. This task is yours.

Stop talking about how your boyfriend has caused you to feel better about yourself. I have been there. Stop believing that your value can be found in how he perceives you. I have been there, too. If you rely on someone else to cause you to accept yourself for who you are, then what happens if one day they are no longer there? Everything "you" have believed about yourself comes tumbling down. Everything that has been legitimized gets placed into question. And your beauty is not something that should ever be questioned.

Your beauty is flawless. Sure, you might be breaking out like you just hit puberty; you could be losing your hair from treatment; you may be unable to lose that freshmen 15 from 5 years ago. Don't get me wrong, it is important to be healthy, which means different things to different people, but just because you may need to lose a few pounds (I do) or gain some does not make you any less beautiful.

There are so many things that are camouflaged as something other than beauty, but that is what they are - Beauty. You, as an individual, are stronger and more capable of loving yourself than you have ever imagined.

Love yourself. Don't rely on others to do it for you or to convince you of the fact. Your job is to know it without being told. Your job is to know it even when it is not verbalized. Your job is to believe that YOU are beautiful.

Now, go take a freakin' selfie.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Million Reflections

In the 25 years I have been on this earth, I have broken several mirrors out of pure clumsiness. Basically, the 7-years-of-bad-luck thing is an endless shaming to my inter-most being. Immediately after destroying these mirrors, I often feel a sense of failure and embarrassment. I feel badly about not being more aware of what I am doing or mad at myself because I ignore the voice inside of me that is coaxing me to be more careful.

After the initial shock and discouragement, I notice the unfortunate mess that I have created and the thousands of reflections that now stare back at me. That's the funny thing about mirrors. When they break, they just create smaller mirrors. Each shard of glass reflects an image. If you look into it, you see yourself.

I have often seen myself in the brokenness; the image staring back at me is warped and a reminder of how I was not paying much attention before. I see this happening in my daily life, clarity vs. warped perception. In one moment, I ignore the warning signs and want to believe that everything is going well. But, then something usually happens and it all shatters. I realize that I don't have it all figured out; I am let down by someone or I even let myself down.

Some mirrors last longer than others. I have this beautiful, tiny mirror that was my grandmother's. It has extravagant detailing of emeralds and metal intertwining.  I remember admiring it as a child, afraid to touch it, truly believing that it was the mirror straight from a fairy tale. I didn't want to gaze into it, because I was afraid of what may happen. In one of my fantasies, the one that peered into the mirror would be trapped for all time. In another tale, I imagined it to be the mirror of the evil queen in Snow White. This mirror is special. Now, I know the mirror is not one that holds magical powers, but it is still something I cherish. However, it does hold some power. This mirror has stood the test of time, multiple moves, and my severe clumsiness.

This mirror has yet to shatter into pieces and is a constant reminder that things that are fragile must be cared for. We are all like mirrors. As strong as some appear to be, there are parts that are quite delicate and need to be treated as such. When a disappointment occurs, this could be when damage is done. When lies are told, imagine a piece breaking away. When a dream is not quite reached, the refection seems to be warped. What you see looking back at you is not at all what you were hoping to see.

Mirrors are weird. They are just objects reflecting light, allowing for us to see something that exists in tangible form already. How our eyes perceive the light is called Diffuse Reflection, allowing for our eyes to interpret the reflection that is occurring (it's actually very scientific in how our eyes are interpreting the angles via the pieces of light scattering and hitting different angles). However, comparing mirrors to our own brokenness and reflections, Diffuse Reflection is often interpreted by how we truly feel about ourselves. All of our shortcomings and self-destructive tendencies/thoughts all appear to be looking back at us.

We live in a very broken world where we are told to look, act, and be a certain way. If we do not fall into a certain category, we are shoved to the side and made to feel like we are not worthy of love, compassion, or acceptance of any kind. When someone lets you down, you feel as if it is your own fault for trusting them in the first place, as if you placed a standard too high for them to reach. As if you wrongly thought you deserved to be able to trust another person.

These are all forms of brokenness. These are all ways in which we break ourselves down, like we break mirrors. Some mirrors are meant to be broken, because they do not reflect us as we fully are. Some mirrors are given to us by others, reflections to how we should see ourselves. Fully loved, appreciated, whole.

If you find yourself peering into a mirror and see only a broken reflection staring back, get rid of it until you can have a perception of yourself that is more accurate. You are loved. You are cared for. You are full of purpose. If you have a tendency to break mirrors, like me, trust someone else to carry it for you or place it in a space that you know it will be safe. Listen to the inner voice that says how to carry it, when you need to. Be cautious with your reflection when you take it into the world, for there will be people around you, waiting to see it become warped, broken, shattered. Hold strong and reflect light where ever you go.

To learn more about mirrors, check out:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Game Shame

I own a lot of board games that I rarely play. It is weird that I, an introvert, find the necessity to own games and, truth be told, I actually enjoy playing them. Through my childhood, I was encouraged to play games and when I look around at kids today, I see them with Smartphones, notebooks (electronic ones), and other devices that have them glued into games like Candy Crush, Temple Run 2, and Coin Dozer. Games are embedded in us. We have access to them whenever we please and it has me questioning if this is why we are all so screwed up when it comes to human interaction.

Now, this isn't a blog on how eye-contact seems to be fading and grammar is dwindling (even though I believe this to be true), but it is about relationships and human connection. Recently, my friend has been talking to a new guy and it seems he is playing games with her. He says certain things to get a certain response and when she began to show me his communication with her, I realized that we are all part of multiple games that we never agreed to play. 

This all led me to an inner dialogue of questions... What happened to romance? What happened to talking? Why do we feel the need to send out communication in the hopes of a specific response? I realize that I sound like the stereotypical female, "Let's just talk. Tell me what you are thinking." But, when I feel trapped into a game of charades (a game I am not particularly fond of), I get a little... (one word. ::annoyed face:: Sounds like, beer-a-rated) irritated. I have never been very good at charades. 

When I told my friend what she should say in response to the new guy, she told me, "It worked!" Of course it did. We have been so conditioned to move our pieces in the "right" direction. If we think about it, we have different outcomes; we may be able to take a shortcut up Gumdrop Pass, or we may end up stuck on one of Lord Licorice's spaces, for a time (he is kind of a jerk). However, the goal is set - reach Candy Castle. In our case, it's win another person's affection. What has come of us that we are so broken when it comes to relationships? 

I am not saying that it is wrong for people to seek out companionship, but maybe it is wrong to manipulate someone into following a certain path on the board game. Maybe it could be more fun to make our own rules, or throw the rules out once and for all. 

No relationship is going to make perfect sense. There are going to be tough parts and there are times we will want a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, but life and relationships really shouldn't work that way. They need to be messy, because people are not perfect. There are going to be things that annoy you about the other person; there are always going to be reasons why your relationship should not work, but what it really comes down to is how far you are willing to work with one another in order to get to the end of the game together and how apt are you at seeing the reasons why you should work out? You shouldn't be trying to one-up the other person, constantly. Instead, you should be working on trying to make it to the end together. If you find yourself treating your significant other as an opponent, there may be an issue that needs to be addressed. 

I got Jumanji for my boyfriend for his birthday. We ended up playing it a few times and each time, I got out of the jungle and he ended up stuck. I prefer the movie's course of the game, that it is meant to be played together, all in, in order to get everyone out. We can learn a lot from games, but that does not mean we need to mimic them in every aspect of our lives and play games with the emotions of those around us (I really don't think Hasbro intended for this to happen). But really, it is your turn to decide how you treat those around you. Tag, you're it. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wisdom in a Coffee Shop

Throwback Blog:

I have made it a point in my busy travel season to use my time well. This means that if I have downtime between high school visits, I find a coffee shop to settle in and work on out-of-office stuff and organizing the information I am gathering from students and schools.
As intentional as I am on trying to use my time well, I do know that my life holds many interesting adventures and experiences and my time in the coffee shops have been no exception.
As an older man sat down with me (which is becoming quite common), he began to tell me about the recent passing of his wife. I could hear the sound of heartbreak in his words. The way they seemed to not easily slide off of his tongue was quite painful for me to witness.
He spoke of life adventures in the Peace Corp and how he never believed he would settle down based off how busy his life seemed to be. Nonetheless, he found his match and now that she is gone, he feels quite lost.
He said the house-work never seems to get done. As much as he does to keep his two-story house clean, there is always more to do. He went on to tell me about how he often drives from the busyness of the city to Delaware on weekends to get away. It isn’t that he does not like the area that he lives, it is just that his house seems quite empty and much too big for just him. However, he cannot fathom selling a house that became a home for he and his wife and children.
I must have looked like I was deep in thought about what he was sharing with me, because he asked if I have been hurt in love. I responded that I was uncertain if I have ever experienced the type of love he told me about. He grinned a half-hearted grin and responded, “If you are hurt in love, you hurt.”
At this point, my soul began to ache. I could tell that he was hurting. This old man had so many great stories, but it seemed that his happiness was absent. He told me that he had hurt a few women in love in his early years, but he had never been hurt until the woman that he married passed away suddenly. There are different types of hurt. Some are intentional, many are not. He had never meant to hurt anyone, but knew he had. He knew he broke a few hearts, he said with a chuckle, but the aching you have when you know you will never see the love of your life again is quite debilitating.
I took a sip of my coffee with no words of comfort to offer other than my apologies for his hardships. In sincerity, he stated that sitting alone in a coffee shop is not as fulfilling as sitting with someone that makes your heart happy.
Looking at the time, I knew it was approaching my next high school visit and that I needed to part ways from this gentleman that was challenging my thoughts on love and life and companionship.
I thanked him for sitting with me and for sharing his wisdom and story with me. As I walked away, I realized that I hurt. I hurt in my heart and in my stomach. It is interesting how someone else’s hurt can be contagious. I prayed that the hurt I was feeling took part of his hurt away. I hoped his pain was lightened in some ways. Although I realize he has a difficult road to travel, I could tell he needed to tell his story. He needed to share the memories with someone, even if they had not lived them.
Sometimes all we need is someone to listen. We need someone to care. We need to relive the good times through memories so they do not become absent like the love we may have lost. It is true, love can cause pain, but listening to this man’s story, the pure love he spoke of, may be worth hurting for. The words, again, that he spoke will stick with me, “If you are hurt in love, you hurt.”

Coaches & Critics

Lately, I have been questioning my own worth. This stems from lots of criticism within my work, leading to me questioning my value outside of the workplace. It should be noted that I do believe that our value comes from God and that is much greater than any of us can imagine. However, when we are consistently made to feel bad about ourselves and told that we are just tools and not respected as individuals, then it begins to wear on you. I am a perfectionist and I am my biggest critic; however, this does not make it okay for others to belittle me and use their "authority" to make me feel weak.

Why am I writing about critics? Well, I know that I am not the only one that comes in contact with critics on a daily basis and I am not the only one that is emotionally broken because of them. I encourage everyone that has strong critics in their lives to begin thinking about who their coaches are. Coaches are people in your life that care about you. They can give you constructive criticism, but encourage you to see your worth within these areas. They push you to pursue your dreams and, often, point out your strengths, even when you seem to be blind to them.

I have quite a few coaches in my life and they really do outweigh the critics. My coaches are not as loud and consistent as my critics, but they are always there when I need them to be. When I was in college and grad school, my coaches were surrounding me and encouraging me to push through the tough times and to pursue my passions. Now, that I am outside of my educational bubble, my critics seem to have more access to me than my coaches do, but that does not mean that I should fall into a slump because of what they say and do to me. My coaches have established a solid foundation for me and have left lasting impressions on me. Their words of encouragement and their eagerness to mentor, teach, and care for me is far more important than the belittlement I face everyday. I am stronger than my circumstances, because the people that have built me up have done so in a way that has pushed me to follow my own moral compass, to believe in my dreams, and to find value in myself.

I have a decent amount of experiences that have led me to where I am and when those experiences are not acknowledged, I have to take a deep breath and remember that I am not here to impress anyone; I am not here to fulfill their obligations; I am not here in order to make them feel better about themselves; I am here because this is where God has me for the time being and I am to be a faithful servant to him. When I feel like my views and insights are not being heard, I need to realize the loss is not on me, but on the others that refuse to listen. We are all in this place together for a reason and that is not an apparent reason, but, in time, maybe I will find the reason. If I don't, then this situation has only made me stronger.

Thank you to the coaches in my life and thank you to my critics for making me realize how important and priceless my coaches really are.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Communion Confusion

Sometimes I act like a child, but is that such a bad thing? I have a playful heart and, at times, a joyful spirit. I think once we lose sight of the fun of life, we are setting ourselves up for misery. Life throws some curve balls at us on a daily basis and sometimes life is all about playing the game. Grab your bat and prepare for what is coming at you.
Embarrassment is part of life. It happens to me on a daily basis. I fall down, literally, and I get back up. I run into doors, poles, people, etc. I trip going up steps with hot beverages in my hand. It is what you do with these moments of embarrassment that matters. Maybe I have just become so used to the constant “fails” that are my life.
If you can’t laugh at yourself, then your life is going to be a long, stressful, dull essence that is lacking.
When I was in college, I was going to a new church with some friends. It was communion day (which is never comforting in a new church). It was much different than my traditional, old-school background. We passed grape juice and crackers, grabbing our own. After we partook in the communion (drinking the juice and eating the cracker), I looked around for somewhere to place the empty, thimble-cup and just as I realized there was no place for it, they began passing a velvet bag. “Oh. That is what we put the cups in,” my mind told me. So, in went my cup and I passed it on. My friend on my right followed my lead. As we did so, my friend on my left gasped, saying, “Jamie! That is for the offering!…” Hmmm. Guess I should have been watching. For an instant, I thought about taking the bag back and searching for my plastic thimble, but decided that may look bad. First, I throw my cup in the offering and then I appear like I am stealing money… that would go over real well (who passes an offering BAG anyway?).
Looking back, my cheeks still get a bit red at my lapse in judgment. I still ponder what the elders of the church thought when they emptied the smooth bags of their tithes and found two empty grape-juice, communion cups. Did they laugh? Were they annoyed, confused? That silly mistake had my friends giggling after church (and during). Like Elbert Hubbard’s quote goes on to say, “Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive.” You really can’t be too concerned about your little moments of embarrassment. They make life more memorable.
I may not have contributed much of an offering that day in church, but what I gained from that experience has made me much richer and gave others a laugh. Sometimes our greatest offering comes from a place of silliness, childlike curiosity, and utter confusion.
Within my daily blunders, I try to remember that the moment will pass. Life will go on, whether I am ready for it to or not. I encourage you to do the same. Smile, laugh, move on. You are surely going to have another blooper anyway, which will leave this one in the past. Time doesn’t stand still just for your embarrassment, which is a good thing for many of us, or we would be standing still quite often.
When you mess up, fall down, spill your coffee, or put a communion cup in the offering bag, remember that these little mishaps make you who you are and that is something to be proud of. 

New Blog & Baseball

It's about time for me to begin a new blog. I am making the move from Tumblr to Blogger. We will see if this is a permanent space or if I will pack up and move on, again.

Life throws curve balls sometimes and when you are not good at the game of baseball, the curve balls seem a bit reckless and cruel. Every Friday, my boyfriend plays in a church softball league. I wouldn't say that it has caused me to appreciate the sport anymore than before, but it has caused me to further appreciate people, conversation, and sunshine.

As I sit in a fold-up chair with my boyfriends mom, we talk about anything from the arbitrary to the more sentimental of topics. Around us, there are conversations between children, couples, and the players. Sometimes the games seem to go fast and sometimes they are a bit slower. The weather is not consistent. There are times when we feel like we are going to freeze and the heat of the car seems to be calling for us and there are moments when the sun is blaring down on us, causing momentary blindness to what lies ahead.

For me, these moments are relatable to the greater view of life. We know that the ball will be thrown. We do not know if it will be thrown well; we do not know if it will hit us; we do not know if we will be able to hit it, but there is a decision that needs to be made whether or not we are going to make the attempt. After all, the purpose for being up to bat is to hit the ball (and hope that it is not caught).

Life is full of moments that we have choices to make. We are given the opportunity to try. Often times, we feel defeated before we even have the ball thrown in our direction and, with this, it is our responsibility to make a decision - do we swing the bat or do we avoid the ball? It often feels more enticing to avoid it and pray that they are counted as "balls" and we are granted a walk. But, there is always the chance that if we swing, we just may be able to hit the ball and get there, just the same, but it was because of the effort we put into the game.

If we put effort into our work, relationships, and life in general, we may just get to where we are supposed to be. It is possible that without the work, we may get to where we want to be, but it is really quite as fulfilling? Personally, I don't think so. I have seen and am around individuals that have gotten to where they are with minimal effort. When I see where I am and the work I have placed into getting to where I currently am (although it is not quite where I want to be), I have a sense of accomplishment. Life (and baseball) are not easy. They require work and dedication in order to do our best, but that work plays a part in what makes you a priceless commodity.

Push forward and brace yourself for what is yet to come, because where there is effort, there are moments to be remembered and a much fuller life ahead of you. The journey is important and the conversations, people, and sunshine are all part of what makes this life great and worth participating in. Batter up...