I went on this crazy trip.

This time last year I was backpacking Europe alone and then made a video about it.

Check this out.

**no, I did not star in Taken 3. Praise Jesus.

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WHM – Day 21

Every year my friend Krista has a Women’s History Month blog series. This year she’s having women post about a time they’ve felt beautiful, check out my response.

Reviving Identity

At the moment I feel physically beautiful.

I’m not wearing makeup, I haven’t worked out in months and I’m wearing purple polka dot pants, a large white sweater with a multi colored headscarf wrapped around my head. As odd as it may be, I didn’t question my outfit one bit.

Truthfully, today is a very typical day physically because I regularly feel physically beautiful.
However, when I first attempted to think of a time I felt beautiful for some stupid reason every single one of my ugliest moments came to mind.
Sometimes I feel ugly and people like to tell me (and I want to hurt them.)
Like when three separate people have asked me if I’m pregnant, when people ask me on a regular how it is to have a beautiful sister (implying that I’m not as beautiful as her) and bathing suit shopping in general.

I hate all…

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Goodness, are we alive or what

It’s been a week since anything as been posted. This is partially because the past two weeks have been absolutely insane, but also because I’m not sure I’ve come up with the right words to say.

I’m really nervous even attempting to wrap this series up because I feel like anything I say will be inadequate compared to how great it was.

So, this is what I’ve come up with for now:

THANK YOU.

I am in awe because this whole alive series became so much more than my little imagination could have ever come up with.

Really, I was terrified no one would want to write anything.
I was and may still be a bit terrified that this thing is just a stupid, cliché idea.
But then suddenly people started participating and folks reacted.

People stopped me to tell me how they felt comfort and peace in those posts.
People stopped me to tell me how challenged they were.
People stopped me to tell me how inspired and excited they were about life and that they wanted to share their excitement too.
People stopped me to tell me how encouraging it was to see passion and joy from so many people and that they craved that same feeling.
People stopped me to talk about Jesus.
I just can’t stop praising the Lord.

Praise Jesus for blogs. They are fun and weird. You get to say whatever you want and no one can stop you. Plus, people actually read it.

So, thank you to all of the writers and readers. I think I have a lot more to say, but this is what I’ve got for now.

I am continually inspired.
Check out this text from my friend Lacy, I live for these moments.
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Now it’s spring break and I’m in Tennessee. We’re in the mountains and I guess people are supposed to “reflect” in the mountains. Maybe my thoughts will become words and you’ll get to read about it.

My cup overflows.

What makes you feel alive: Alex Baca

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What makes me feel alive? At this moment, as I’m typing this post, it’s “Let It Go” from Frozen.

In all seriousness, it’s music. CDs, MP3s, vinyl records—whatever format.

It all started in around 1994 with 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up”. Mom tells me that when it would come on the radio I would go crazy and scream it at the top of my lungs. This would continue into my adolescence and into early adulthood.

Andrea Gibson wrote in her poem “The Nutritionist”, “I have been told, sometimes, the most healing thing to do is remind ourselves over and over and over–other people feel this too.” For me, music is how I make sense of the world. I have go-to-albums when I’m feeling happy, sad, angry, and nostalgic. I guess music helps me sort out my feelings. These bands and artists have created these brilliant albums and it serves as a reminder that, in fact, I’m not the only one who’s feeling this way. And millions of other people are listening to these albums understanding the same thing.

Music connects people in the most beautiful way. There’s nothing like standing in a crowd of a thousand sweaty and probably drunk strangers who are all sobbing because after ten years they are finally hearing The Postal Service play “Such Great Heights” for the first time. In that short four and a half minutes everyone in that crowd are connected through mutual love and admiration for the people on the stage. Are we all feeling the same thing? I don’t know. I’d go out on a limb and say we were all feeling pretty damn nostalgic.

I’m at my most alive when music is present. Whether I’m flipping a record over, walking down the street with my iPod, or driving around blasting the new Beyoncé. Human connection and music go hand in hand. Bands, artists, and the art that they create can bring together folks from all different walks of life. It’s so incredibly rad and makes me feel all sorts of feelings.

So I’ll leave with this: if someone ever tells you music isn’t important or capable of being something more meaningful than just a song on the radio—take them to a show, spend time with a record, and definitely play Beyoncé’s “Love on Top” at max volume. I think they’ll reconsider.

Alright, back to that build up in “Let It Go”.

Alex studied communication at the University of Central Missouri and is an expert in all things Target, my favorite department store. Alex and I sort of knew of each other through speech and debate in high school but ended up meeting in college through mutual friends. I’m so happy Alex talked about music because just through the few times we have hung out and the posts I have read on Tumblr, I know that music is everything to him. I love reading what Alex says about music and the ways he connects to an artist’s most vulnerable thoughts, it really inspires me.  I remember talking to Alex once about music. It was obvious that he found so much joy and comfort in the albums we talked about just by the way his face lit up. I love getting to see people’s faces light up when they talk about things they love. Anyways, Alex also has a really great Top 10 albums of the year list, his insights are things I would have never taken into consideration. Now I guess I will go listen to “Let It Go” and then let it get stuck in my head for the next week.

What makes you feel alive: MaryKate Kelly

For the last month, I have loved reading this series about what makes people feel alive. Feeling alive is a concept I am very interested in. We all know we can exist, but actually living is a different experience all together. E.E Cummings, one of my favorite poets said, “Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.” With that in mind I have spent a serious amount of time thinking about what makes me happy, when I feel the most content, and what makes me feel actually, fully alive.

I go through phases where I am extremely discontent with life. Recently, I have been struggling with feeling like what I am doing in my life is actually important, that it matters. I have found myself spending a lot of time laying in bed, eating too much junk food, and having to remind Netflix that I’m “still watching.” However, on my quest to figure out what makes me feel alive, I realized that if I didn’t feel so bad sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate feeling good.  However, when I get to that sad place, the thing that always, always makes me feel better is people.

So, when I seriously think about what makes me feel alive, it boils down to two main aspects. The first is connection. I love connecting with people. I value relationships above almost everything else. Going out of my way to send someone an affirming text, a “hello” when I see them, or sending a faraway friend a card makes my heart happier than anything else. Though it’s not easy to connect with everyone, especially when in college and taking on a million different responsibilities, to feel truly alive, I believe you have to make the time to see the people you care about most. My close friends and my family, both biological and built, are the best influences in my life. I have a special soft spot for my nieces and nephew. Feeling connected to someone is the best feeling in the world. Plus, the people who you care about most are the people who are most likely to care when you’re feeling low. And we all need a friend to pick us up sometime.

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The second thing that makes me feel alive is emotion. While people tend to scoff if you’re too happy or too sad, I am someone who feels a lot of feels. Even when I feel sad or upset, it reminds me that it’s just an aspect of life. And in a really strange way, it’s refreshing! I would rather laugh and cry over every little event in my life and be heartless or non-reactive.  Emotion can come in any form; listening to a song, watching a movie, reading a book, people of different beliefs respecting one another, seeing parents interact with their children, puppies! Allowing myself to react and feel genuine feelings can be painful, but is also one of the most relieving and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Bonus: feeling things and being genuine has proved to help with building connections with people.

While I love lying in bed for far too long and eating too much chocolate sometimes, at the end of the day, a good cry or a ridiculous giggle with a good friend makes me feel the most alive.

MaryKate is a grad student at the University of Central Missouri studying mass communication. She also teaches a few public speaking classes and is one of the funniest humans I know. Every time I see her she is just always so happy. Really, running into MaryKate just boosts my day. I know her through mutual friends at UCM, and I think we met at a christmas party last year. One thing that I really like about MaryKate is how easy it is to be her friend. After meeting her, it seems like she is just someone I have known for so long. I love it when people are so genuine and open, accepting of anyone no matter their differences. MaryKate is really great at that. So many times I hear people talking about how highly they think of her. It helps that she is crazy hilarious.

 

 

What makes you feel alive: Meagan Appleby

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As I’ve been reading my wonderful friend Katelyn’s blog posts, about all these different people and what makes them feel alive, I got continually discouraged. Each day my thoughts were, “Seriously? How do these people all have so many things they like? How are they so passionate about life and people and things? All I do is work, watch Netflix, eat popcorn, and sleep”. Then I decided I needed to stop being stupid. I have to feel alive sometimes, right? Or else I would just be depressed. But I’m not depressed. I’m usually pretty happy.
So…here is my list of things that make me feel alive, and make me remember that life is more than just television and food.
Laughing. Really laughing. The kind of uncontrollable laughter that once it starts you laugh so hard you cry, and so long you can’t even remember what made you start laughing in the first place. This kind of laughter usually happens with friends and when it’s least expected. My friends make me feel alive. The people who really know me. I find that I’m always a little shocked when somebody says something to me, or does something for me, that proves they know what I love. This makes my heart so happy it wants to explode.

I forget sometimes that there are people who really did take time to get to know me and understand me. When I’m reminded that I have these amazing friends in my life it makes me feel alive.

Nursing makes me feel alive too, but in a different way. It’s gross a lot, and having just graduated from college in December I’m a newbie and kind of suck sometimes. But caring for my patients when they’re sick and vulnerable and hurting is kind of awesome. One of my instructors in college told me that “nursing is a profession of privileged compassion”. I get to help people when they truly need help and have nobody else to care for them. I forget this sometimes, when the work day gets busy and doctors turn into jerks, but it’s always in the back of my mind. It makes my work purposeful, which makes it more than just a job.

Music makes me feel alive. I have no musical talent at all, but listening to music and hearing people who sing so well it’s like they were designed for that reason only, it brings me joy. Music makes me feel connected to God. It reminds me that he is a God of creation and beauty, and that he makes things for us to enjoy, just because he loves us and wants us to feel good.

Birds make me feel alive. I’m actually pretty scared of birds. They have creepy feet and look like tiny dinosaurs with their beady eyes and weird scaly legs, but I like it when they chirp outside my window in the morning. It makes waking up easier, and makes each morning seem fresh.
Morning is another thing that makes me feel alive. The light is softer early in the day and everything feels peaceful. Also, I’ve realized that morning people are in much better moods than afternoon people. This makes me think that I am not alone in believing morning is good.

I feel alive when I make eye contact with people in other cars at stoplights. Most of the time this is just super awkward and bad, but on the rare occasion when either me or the stranger does not immediately look away and we smile at each other, it’s awesome. It makes me feel connected to this other car person for just a second. People are meant to have connections with others. I know I will never see the driver or passenger of that vehicle again, but we did see each other and now know each other exist. And that is fantastic. Those are my things.

I could keep going probably, but I’m not going to because that kind of defeats my purpose for writing this. I wanted to be forced to sit around and think about things that make me feel alive. I knew that if Katelyn was waiting for me to send her something I would have to do it eventually, and I knew it would be good for me.
The thoughts I have about feeling like I’m not doing anything with my life but watching Netflix and eating food are still there. So are my frustrations in reading these other blogs about people’s passions. I don’t really know what I’m passionate about. I’ve been praying about that and trying to figure that out for 3 and a half years. Ever since I heard the quote that says “Where your greatest passion and the world’s greatest need meet is where your calling is”. Or something along those lines. Some guy that I can’t remember the name of said that. I think he’s dead now, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I don’t like him very much because that stupid quote has been at the back of my mind for 3 and a half years. Where the heck is my calling if I don’t have a passion? I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve been told “Everybody has a passion”. Sure. I believe that. I just haven’t figured mine out yet. And that sucks. But it also has the potential to be really great if I would let it be.

In the midst of hearing about all the great things people are doing and discovering, I’ve just been seeking. Seeking out God and seeking out what I should be doing and what I can be doing. I keep getting great ideas, and then having them slap me in the face or totally fall through before they even start. I keep getting disappointed and discouraged. So where’s the great part of this? The great part is that God is there. And I’ve learned to not get pissed at God anymore for wrecking my plans, but to praise him for being constant and good when nothing else is working. I’m learning that I’m not useless even if I feel like I am sometimes, and that God used people who were total wieners to make his name great. I’ve learned that what really makes me feel alive is that God is present in my suckiness. When I’m just the worst, and when people are shocked to find out I’m a Christian, God is still present. In all the things in my list, God is there. God makes me feel alive.
Also, there’s nothing wrong with some popcorn and Netflix.

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Meagan is a nurse in Kansas City and recently graduated from the University of Central Missouri. Meagan is one of those people you can’t really be angry around because she is always smiling. Her smile is infectious and you quickly realize that you just want to be around her. I know Meagan through the Christian Campus House at UCM and got to serve on the leadership team together for a semester. Once Meagan made up a Random Act of Kindness day, which I think totally best describes her personality. All I remember her doing was buying a gigantic bag of suckers and passing them out to anyone and everyone. This one day represents basically everyday of Meagan’s life, she is also so generous, thinking of creative ways to love people. So many people at the Campus House talk about how great of a friend she has been to them, listening and caring about them personally. I can only imagine how fantastic of a nurse she is as well. 

What makes you feel alive: Easton Parks

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What makes me feel alive?

I thought about this question for quite a while when I first read it. What do people really mean when they say “I feel alive” are they saying that they felt dead before? I think that when people say this they really mean that they feel fulfilled or satisfied in what they are doing. But is that not what most of us are striving for? Fulfilling or satisfying our inner longings.

I personally searched for quite a long time to find something that would fulfill me, something that would make me feel alive.

The world will try to tell us that many things can make us feel alive, I mean just watch commercials. They tell you that if you just have enough money, or if you just look good enough, or if you have just could have a great family, or if you could just have that dream job, or if just people would like you, or if you just have enough power in the world, and the list goes on and on.

I myself have been a “Christian” for a long time, but I for such a long time I never got the main point of Christianity. I was in church every Sunday and could say all the right things, but my heart was not right. I was a Pharisee. I searched for something to satisfy my longing within. I thought that being someone who was well-liked would make me feel alive, or doing something amazing would make me feel alive, or even going somewhere awesome would make me feel alive, but I am here to tell you that if you are looking for complete satisfaction in something that you do, then you are wasting your time. If you would have told me this just a couple years ago, I would have disagreed with you.

But something in me has changed. On January 14, 2014, I saw the Savior of the universe. For the first time in my life, I felt ALIVE. I felt so alive that it made my past life seem like it was wasted on things that that could never fulfill me. It was then that God told me that it is not something I do that will satisfy me, but something that has already been done for me. The glorious wonderful amazing awesome fantastic truth that Jesus took my sins to the grave so that I could live in Him and be set free.

I am Easton Parks and the world is NOT ENOUGH for me because I found a treasure worth dying for.

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Easton is a first year engineering technology student at the University of Central Missouri. Whenever Easton attempts to explain to me what he learns in class, my brain starts to hurt badly. I give him mad props. I know Easton through this weekly lunch I go to called “Ladies Lunch”– but the thing is, Easton is not a lady. At the lunch there is free soup that is crazy delicious, so Easton first came with a friend, and in the most genuine and nonflirty way, kept coming. I don’t blame him, there is free soup. So it’s safe to say Ladies Lunch isn’t really Ladies Lunch anymore. Anyways, through this lunch it’s been fun to hear about how much Easton has grown just the short time he’s been at UCM. Sometimes I forget how much I’ve learned in college, but hearing about what Easton has learned about people, the world and the Lord since graduating high school reminds of how faithful the Lord has been in my life. Also, Easton works for a man who builds huge beautiful houses and sometimes he gets to house sit. What a ideal, great job.