We all live on this planet, damnit!

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One of my New Year resolutions is to simply write more. I frequently write in my personal journal — but I’d like to share my thoughts more publicly this year.

To start off — I’d like to say that I feel I have always tried to be inclusive. When I was a pre-teen, I lived in an apartment complex where I socialized with all my neighbor friends, despite their background. I was far more concerned about whether or not my friends would climb trees with me and play night games than what church they went to (or didn’t).

I sometimes look around me when I’m in a busy place and take a moment to soak in the people that surround me. I have this realization that these strangers have lives. They have families and friends. They experience joy and they’ve endured pain. They have jobs. They have burdens. They have memories. They have troubles. They have happiness. And it really hits me. It’s a really surreal moment of remembering that I’m such a small part of this world. And it truly humbles me.

This past year I’ve reflected on several things, but what always has me constantly investing my heart into is my humanity. I think about changing future strangers’ lives as a Social Worker. I think about helping someone less fortunate than myself when I can finally get to a place where I’m not living paycheck to paycheck. Even now, when I barely make ends meet each month — I still think about helping people. Because I know there is always someone less fortunate than me — even when I feel lonely, poor, or depressed.

Something that I’ve thought a lot about this past year –with the emphasis of Trump building a Wall on the US and Mexico boarder — usually has me cringing  –is the word “illegal” when referencing a human being. We use it to describe people who are undocumented in a country. As if they as a person — by living and breathing in a country where they are not citizens in — are illegal. They are wrong. They are criminal. They are not allowed. They must be shamed. They must be kicked out. They are a menace to society. They are rapists. They are deviants. They are harmful.

It destroys my heart  to hear such hateful descriptions of HUMAN BEINGS.  People are not illegal. Somewhere down the line someone decided the law of boundaries. And they decided to create regulations that was intended to control population — or some other lousy excuse. But really a politically correct way of banning people from parts of the world. A world that we ultimately share. And there is only ONE WORLD. We all live on this planet, damnit! And we should embrace our global citizenship and stop labeling people foreign, or alien — or illegal. It’s like a bully on the playground not allowing certain kids to play on the toys. It’s cruel. And unfair.

People who fear “illegals” have never looked outside their own peripheral vision to see the beautiful things that we can learn from strangers. From people who were born in different countries than our own. From people who have struggled. And from people who only want to be free.

Pharrell Williams recently said on Ellen that “We all have to get used to everyone’s differences. And understand that this is a big, gigantic, beautiful, colorful world. And it only works with inclusion and empathy. It only works that way.”

I truly admired his courage to say these things out loud, and use his platform to spread kindness and understanding. I feel the same way. I don’t always agree with people — but I value everyone’s opinions — because without them, this world wouldn’t struggle or hustle or work hard enough for what’s right — and what’s good.

WE are all human. WE should practice more this year extending our humanity to a world that needs a lot of healing.

30 things to be thankful for.

From a distance the world seems to be falling apart. Bombings and shootings. Tsunami’s and earthquakes. People are dying. And it’s easy to get consumed in the darkness. And it’s hard to try and pick up the pieces. And start new. And move forward. But if I’ve learned anything at all in this life…it’s that the world keeps spinning madly on…even if you’re not ready to spin along with it.

I’ve been inspired to make a list. It helps to put things into perspective whenever I’m feeling lonely or like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. And it’s weighed heavy these past fews days. So here I go. Taking a minute to reflect on the light in my life.

1. I am thankful for the rare but life saving human connections I’ve made throughout my “almost” 23 years. If not for those handful of special souls I wouldn’t be here.

2. I am thankful for my dog. She has provided me with so much joy. She has taught me patience and has pushed my buttons to the point of such irritation at times, but I’ve learned how to love through it. And maybe someday I’ll understand the whole parenting thing because of her.

3. I am thankful for my beautifully unique family. For all our skeletons hanging out of our closets, our open minds, and our full hearts. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

4. I am thankful for the 12 years I shared with my mother. She taught me more in a year about life than most learn in 60 years. I’m thankful she taught me to embrace our black sheep selves, root for the underdog, and serve others without asking or promising. By just doing. And showing up at someone’s door ready to cook them a meal, rub their feet, or listen to their worries.

5. I am thankful for school. As much as I’ve struggled to finally figure out exactly what I want to do, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to at least try and learn from my mistakes.

6. I am thankful for my freedoms provided mostly by brave men and women who protect my freedom to go to school, walk the streets, enter a store, post on social media, voice my opinion, vote, etc. Thank you.

7. I am thankful for my talents that I’ve grown to allow myself to share. It’s not easy for me to put myself out there with my musical and writing abilities, but I do it because I don’t want to lose it.

8. I am thankful for friends who accept me for all my weird moments of singing out loud, political opinions, and advice. I hope they know how much I enjoy simply being in their presence.

9. I am thankful for water. The access of fresh drinking water and clean hot water to clean myself with.

10. I am thankful for a roof over my head. At the moment it’s not the great kind of place to be in, but it’s a roof. And it’s more than most have.

11. I am thankful for my car. It took me a lot of convincing and responsibility to make the decision to buy a car. And I haven’t regretted it. It gives me a sense of security. I know I could live without it, but I’m glad I don’t have to.

12. I am thankful for children. They are fascinating and easy to talk to. They  are so happy about the simplest things. Take me back to my childhood, where everything looks so big and beautiful.

13. I am thankful for my relationship with myself and God. I am thankful I have a sense of who I am, and who I am to my Heavenly Father. I am thankful I know I am loved. At the end of the day I have myself to be thankful for. And a God who had given me the strength to make decisions and live a purposeful life.

14. I am thankful for my trials. Gosh they’ve been hard. I’ve been at some very low lows where I didn’t believe I was going to move past it. I am thankful that I did. And that I know I have it in me to face the future trials of my life. I know they will only make me stronger and humble.

15. I am thankful for “things to look forward to”. If it weren’t for planned events, even if they don’t go the way we want them to, that they are at least there to motivate me and excite me.

16. I am thankful for travel. I’m glad I have the ability to visit other places with a variety of people and seek out the goodness in all the beautiful things in this life.

17. I am thankful for warm coats, hot chocolate and heaters. I tend to get cold to the point I feel my bones are ice. I like to be warm. I love it when the sun beats down on me. I’m glad I can bundle up. And yes, I’ll wear a sweatshirt at 80 degrees. Get over it 😉

18. I am thankful for music. It has healed me in ways only music can say.

19. I am thankful for technology. I’m glad I can keep in contact with those I love in such an instant way.

20. I am thankful for medicine and home remedies. Both helped my mother live longer. And both have helped the ones I love. I’m glad we have an understanding of how our bodies work and we can use what we know to live healthy happy lives.

21. I am thankful for movies books and other forms of entertainment. They are a great distraction sometimes, but I especially love the kind that don’t always end in the fairytale, but help us realize that we are all human.

22. I am thankful for animals. They are so innocent. And you can’t really ever be mad at them.

23. I am thankful for shoes. I used to hate wearing them. But life would be a lot harder without them.

24. I’m thankful for charities and organizations that support important causes that make the world a better place.

25. I am thankful for people who dedicate their time to spreading love and kindness.

26. I am thankful to be an American citizen. It has it’s perks. But so much more than anything, I have the ability to share my voice, be apart of a united community, and live in such a privileged world.

27. I am thankful for the piano. I’m pretty sure my piano has heard all my fears, madness, and sadness. Thanks for letting me pound away until I feel like I can breathe again.

28. I am thankful for lint rollers. I’d have so much hair on my clothes without them.

29. I am thankful for humor. It’s basically the best kind of high.

30. I am thankful for photography. It tells some of the greatest stories.

The box we don’t fit in.

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Conformity is a disease. It’s a viral explosion of social depravity. If you ever find yourself on social media or in public and notice familiar things and ideas that don’t shock you…you have encountered conformity. We like to use the world “majority” and tell ourselves it’s okay. That’s it’s popular. But it’s something that has attached itself into our society and is a living breathing thing that is constantly changing its mind.

We often see conformity as a way to “keep the peace”. But what we don’t want to see is how it’s slowly and surely destroying our sense of creativity and imagination. The fear to reach outside of conformity is literally killing mankind.

The idea of paving a new path is terrifying. The unknown is an ugly abyss of rejection. We don’t want to speak up about a new idea, propose a new direction or create a new color for the fear of being completely and utterly outcast.

We also don’t like to voice our opinion. We don’t vote. We don’t burst into song in the middle of the street. We suppress our emotions. God forbid we be genuinely excited or unfortunately sad about something.

We don’t color outside of the lines.

There is this box. It’s an extremely tiny box. And for the majority of the world. Our society. Our community. Our friends. Our family. We live inside of it. It is our zone. It’s the place where there is little to no room to make a mistake. Where we fit in. (barely) Where we can somewhat control our emotions. Where we can live “peacefully” but dangerously dull.

We are all guilty of conformity. And for most of us, we call ourselves “content” by doing so. But in all reality, we are limiting ourselves by what society tells us is acceptable. We are society. We are telling each other daily by our actions that we can and cannot do certain things. What we can and cannot wear. What we can and cannot eat. Who we can and cannot talk to. Where we can live. Who we love. Who we vote for. Who we judge. Who we praise. Who we shun. And what we are capable of. Can you imagine the kind of people we could be if we would allow ourselves to be different. To be disobedient. To laugh a little louder. To cry a little harder. To breathe and little longer. To support each other by not limiting one another.

I know I am not alone in this idea of rejecting society. It’s no much easier said than done. But the box we don’t fit in is getting smaller and smaller. And I’d love nothing more than to break the box and be apart of a world where I’m not afraid of myself.