What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

 

This is an essay I wrote this year that really gets to the core of what I want to do with my life. In simple terms, I want to be a storyteller. There are so many avenues that can be followed when pursuing storytelling, and I don’t necessarily mind how I end up working as a one. What I really care about is what makes a storyteller. The motives of great storytellers and the characteristics and values they have are amazing, genuine and rooted in what I believe to be some of the most important things in life. Being a storyteller means so much more than people know, and in this essay, I want to explain to you what it means to me.

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Hi, my name is Chad Campbell-Gonzalez and I would like to share with you how I figured out I want to be a storyteller. Growing up, I loved writing. In elementary school when I was asked what I want to do I said become a writer. There was something about writing that drew me in. I think at the time it was the limitless expression that writing offered. Blank pages were like blank stories, empty worlds, and untraversed universes, waiting to be explored by my imagination and my pen. Each word I wrote added to this thing I was creating that came from inside me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was falling in love with creativity.

Creativity is a critical aspect of storytelling, and it is so fascinating and unique. Getting to express myself through words and imagery is powerful. It’s personal. Creativity is like the key to a door that opens up a world of adventures in self-exploration and understanding. Through it, we try and better grasp who we think we are and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for those around us. That’s why, although unique and definitely a self-journey, creativity is also a voyage of all people and an adventure that leads to building community.

As I grew older, middle school and high school weren’t environments where creative writing was prioritized. It was still there but you really had to search to find it. All that given, I drifted away from writing and pursued what I thought would make my family and those around me proud. I wanted to be someone important and powerful. I wanted a job that was hard to achieve and when I accomplished it, people would be impressed. I wanted to be everything except what my heart wanted me to be. And so I pursued those things. All through high school and through the beginning part of my college career I had myself convinced that was what I wanted. Over that span a few things happened that, at the time I didn’t know, but were slowly turning me back towards my passion for storytelling.

I found Jesus on May 30, 2015, my sophomore year of high school. My experience with Him has shown me how important people are, and most importantly how important love is. Love is one of the most powerful things on the planet, and it wasn’t until I started following Jesus that I really took a look at my heart and the love that was in my life. I was going through some family issues, as we all are, but I starting to really think about what it means to love and how to do it and I was able to start working through some of those things. Then my journey with understanding love grew even more in my senior year of high school when I read the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I could see him exploring ideas on love and trying to understand what it meant to him and I thought to myself, I want to do that! Carver helped me see how writing helps a writer work through and wrestle with confusing things in their life, and lets others see what they take away from it.

So, with these things in mind and my passion for writing starting to spark back up I decided to take a writing class at the University of Washington. It was amazing. Writing again I could feel the creative cogs in my head creak back into life. I felt like a kid again. I felt like me. I was able to start unpacking and working on things in my life that hurt me, confused me and I was able to express and share all the things that healed me and uplifted me. It was like all of these huge realizations flooded me and I was able to hear my heart again. I came to realize that being a storyteller means wanting to understand and love yourself, and more importantly, sharing what you discover with others so that they can learn, grow and be reminded that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I began to really appreciate the personal therapy session I received every time I put the ink on the page or my fingers on the keys. Being a storyteller means creating and it means listening. It involves getting out in your communities and sharing experiences. It means helping each other see their best self and get the most out of life. Being a storyteller means loving people, and that’s what I want to do with my life.

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The Truth about Affirmation

Affirmation is a powerful thing. However, I think our mindsets are a little off on what true affirmation looks like in life, and I think that it is very important to understand what it really is. Through this post I want to share with you three stories of recent affirmation in my own life and then explain the truth about affirmation.

1

I work at a restaurant as an assistant server, more or less a busboy, and I love my job. I get to serve people and most of the time that is behind the scenes, doing things that nobody knows. It is only human to want to be recognized and acknowledged for the work that you do. Sometimes, it was extremely difficult to convince myself to keep working so hard for what seemed like no reason. So one night I was working with a server I had never worked with before, and I was battling with feeling like I was unnoticed, unimportant. But I decided to keep up my spirit and keep doing my work. In the middle of the shift she comes up to me and says, “Do you love Jesus?” I smiled and told her I do, and I asked her why she asked me or how she knew, and she told me, “Because you are really happy and really kind.”

2

One night after I had just finished up meeting with some people, I was walking down the sidewalk on my way home. I passed by this place called “WOW” which serves bubble tea and other drinks, and something just came over me to go buy two drinks for people in my house. I went in and the place was empty except for two girls who were waiting for their drinks to be made. I walked up to the counter and ordered the two drinks. As, I was standing there I noticed the two girls look at me and then giggle and whisper to each other. This went on for a little and then eventually one of the girls came up and explained how they weren’t trying to be rude, but they thought I looked a lot like this guy from a show they watched. I laughed and ended up talking with them for a while and explained how I just felt a random urge to come in and buy drinks for my friends. The other girl noticed my bible and started asking me questions about my faith, and I got talk to her about Jesus. Afterwards, they gave me a hug and told me to “keep doing good things.” I got my drinks and headed out.

3

I was in a waiting room, hanging out before an appointment and I noticed that the room was pretty empty. It was just the receptionist and me. This thought crossed my mind to start a conversation with the her. It was early in the morning though and I didn’t really feel like talking but I decided I should. We started talking about random things, mostly small talk, and I had actually thought the conversation was over but then she asked me more about my life. We talked for a few more minutes and then she paused and said, “What did you do to end up going in the right direction?” and I laughed because I hardly feel like I know where I am going. But I got to explain to her that my faith has led me to where I am, and I definitely don’t know if it’s the “right” direction but I love the path that I have been on ever since I started following Jesus. She scrunched up her mouth and looked up over my shoulder, somewhere into the distance, and after a moment looked back at me and told me thank you.

I think that it is very easy to let our focus turn to pursuing gratitude and affirmation in life. But what we need to do is focus on Jesus, because when you do that you won’t even care about being affirmed by the world because you are affirmed by the God of the world who sees every second of work you have put in. Affirmation from the Lord will leave you feeling encouraged and inspired and through that you will give into others selflessly and without concern for your own acknowledgement. Also, when you pursue Jesus and let him affirm you it becomes so much more evident all the little ways we are affirmed each day. We have come to believe that affirmation must be a big event that will leave us in awe, but the truth is affirmation is in the smiles that we see from others, the simple and sincere words they share, and the small acts of kindness people do for us. In the stories I shared it wasn’t until I was really doing things for others, without my own desires leading me, that people said something. It wasn’t by my own strength or desires to do something and try and be acknowledge, but a prompting from the holy spirit that led me to affirmation. When I step out of my own way and let Jesus lead, people see that and respond. I also think that it is important to consider that these are what I would call “big” moments of affirmation. You have to realize that these happened after years of following Jesus. They don’t happen every day, but the small things do. If you let your thoughts become focused on being affirmed in huge ways and spend your time and energy living for those moments, you will always end the day feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The truth about affirmation is it’s simple, effortless, and everywhere if you focus on Jesus.

*Image is called Picture My Thoughts by Myra Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consistency through the Climb

 

Hello everyone! I haven’t written anything on here in a long time, and I miss it. I miss you! Writing on my blog has always been in the back of my mind. I want to do it, I just kept finding every reason not to. But I don’t want to do that anymore. So this blog post marks the beginning of consistency in my writing. I want to commit time to my community on here and I want to start holding myself more accountable. From now on I am going to be posting on my blog once a week on every Friday. I am not holding myself to a specific time on Friday, but it will be before the day is over. This is doable and this will help me post frequently and consistently, but it also allows me enough time to write quality posts. I would love your feedback if you want me to post on a different day or have any questions. One thing you may be saying is, “Yah but Chad, what are you actually doing to be more consistent?” and that is a great question! Here are 3 things that I am implementing and trying out to help me become consistent.

 

  1. Planning. I am setting side a very small amount of time each day dedicated just to working on blog posts, 30 min each day. However, I am not just saying that I will do that. I have written it into my calendar, and it is usually really early or late so that it will hopefully be a time that I won’t have to move around. By putting it into your calendar rather than just saying you are going to do it, the plan becomes more solidified and you will more likely get it done.
  2. Micro Goals. Of course, I think that you should dream big and have a mountain top goal that you are working arduously to achieve. But if you want to keep your sanity and faith along the way then you better set yourself some micro goals. If you already took my advice from part one then you my friend, have already set yourself up to be successful with a micro goal. What will ultimately determine what these goals are is based on what you want your end goal to be. What is your mountain top? For me, blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it and my goal through it is to learn more about myself and work on my writing skills plus share that with you. But my Everest sized goal would be to reach as many people as possible, whatever that looks like, and have my writing be something that brings joy, positivity and guidance into their lives. I want to reach people and let them know that they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through. I want to build community. A micro goal for this could be reach five people. Just reach a few people first. Then ten, hundreds and keep climbing. Achieving these micro goals helps you build confidence and momentum and reminds you why you started this journey in the first place.
  3. Extraction and Passion. Consistency demands from you time. You have to make room for whatever you are pursuing. For me, I plan on cutting back on the amount of time I spend watching YouTube or Netflix. In my case I don’t have to make too much room to achieve my micro goal of 30 minutes a day of working on my blog. Rounding up some time to commit to what you’re pursuing doesn’t have to be hard. A few minutes here and there and you can gather a lot of time quickly. So, if you haven’t been consistent in whatever it is that you want to be, that means something has got to go for you to have time to commit to it. For some, this could be the biggest obstacle standing in your path to consistency, and that’s because it correlates with the most important thing that leads to consistency: Passion. You have to ask yourself, is this something that I really want? If the answer is no, then please do not waste your time trying to pursue it. Find what you are passionate about first because I truly believe that the secret to being the most consistent you can be, is by having passion to drive it. Passion will lead to consistency. It’s easy to devote time to something that you love and want to invest in.

 

I hope these 3 tips will help you reach the level of consistency that you desire. Being consistent is your own journey and what that looks like is different for each person. The last piece of advice I want to give you before I go is to support all those around you. We are all trying to work on ourselves and pursue our passions. Whatever it is that you are trying to be more consistent in, I hope that you also strive to be consistently kind and encouraging to one another. Let those around you know that you see and acknowledge their own work in reaching their mountain top.

Thoughts on the Heart Part 2

 

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, delicate and messy when you get into it, but when you take a step back and view it as a whole, it’s perfect and beautiful. Each piece is unique and holds its own value. We share pieces of our heart to others, so they can stitch us in to theirs. We’re hurt when we can’t find ourselves in their work. We accept pieces of other’s hearts and add it to our own project, growing it slowly over time, some people’s material dominating the work of art. The collage is a reminder. Sometimes pleasant, and sometimes of things we want to forget. You rip at the thread and dig your nails into the stitching and leave a gapping hole. You find more material, but it never fits right. Sometimes you lock away your work because your disappointed with how your project has turned out. Disgusted in fact. You wanted it done and complete a long time ago so for now it will sit up on the highest shelf collecting dust. Maybe that’s you right now. An artist scrounging for more material, even if it’s cheap and dirty. Maybe you’ve given up looking. Maybe you’re discouraged because of all the great collages out there. Who knows how long it’ll be before you feel the needle and thread between your fingers again. One day maybe, you build up the courage and pull the collage down. The uneven stitching and faded colors a globe in your hands, but you keep working at it. You see someone else just starting their collage and cut out a big chunk of your material for them. You become more open to sharing what you have and accepting what others offer. You find strong, inspiring cloth in your faith, your family, your friends, the small things. You work day in and day out sharing and growing your collage, and fall in love with the process, not the end product. When you step back and look at your work, the uneven stitching and faded material are still there in the mix of new fabric. This time, however, it warms your heart. You look at the beautiful mess and see everyone that has impacted you, loved you, encouraged you, supported you. You reflect on the things that hurt you and are thankful. You can see where you were and how far you’ve come. Most importantly, you see the endless room for more: More material, more cloth, more fabric, more loss, more growth, more people, more love. You understand there will always be more to give and take. With a new-found courage and excitement, you get back to work on your project.

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, perfect and beautiful.

Why Do I Write?

 

I think this is a question anyone who writes should consider, and something any reader should think about when looking into a writer’s work. Writings can be great and intriguing, and sometimes that is all you want as a reader. However, I think that the reasoning behind the words and the story, play a critical role in how the experience can impact the reader. A good story or message is awesome, but if there is no concern for how it effects the reader, or it doesn’t present them with an opportunity to apply what they read to their own life, they aren’t getting all they could out of it. Having a clear intention for why you are writing helps connect the writer to the reader. Now some writings are solely for the therapeutic pleasure of the author. Sometimes, it is nice to just put the pen to the paper with no direction, and go at it. To me, this can actually be relieving and calming. These writings, that are usually not meant to be shared, don’t fall into this category of serving a purpose to the readers. They only benefit the sole reader who is also the author. There are a lot of different motives for writing, but the point is, someone who knows why they are writing, whatever the reason may be, can take their material to the next level and create something that truly moves those that engage with it. When an author knows why they are writing, it is apparent in their language, and their heart can be seen behind the story, influencing every word.

Every time I write something, I think about why I am writing it and I end up with a more or less unique reason for each individual story, blog, poem, etc. However, there are usually two main driving forces behind almost every word. The first reason I write is to encourage and reach out to others. If what I write can reach one person and have an impact on them, then I feel accomplished. Whether it is a funny story to entertain and bring joy, or a serious and deep message in a post/essay, or anything in between, if the reader comes away feeling better, assured, or asking questions about themselves then I am achieving my goal. The second reason I write is to help myself. Sometimes writing helps me work through things weighing on me. Sometimes it assists me in untangling complex ideas in my head and answering tough life questions. It also reminds me of the important things in my life. It reminds me of who I am in Jesus. I write to keep in touch with others, yes, but I also write to keep in touch with myself. More often than not, these two reasons will cross over in my writings.

I wrote this post so that you can know where I am coming from, and know more about me. I also wrote this for the purpose of connecting with you, the individual reading these words. I am not a machine, a series of digital letters, or a cluster of paragraphs on a screen. What you are reading makes up me, a person. I hope that this writing has reminded you that when you read someone else’s words, you are reading about who that person is and what they want to share with you. As always, thank you for reading this and have a great rest of your day!

My YouTube Channels!

 

I have been working on different ways to express my ideas and share them with others. That is partially why I started this blog. I have also made my own YouTube Channels to satisfy my creative hunger. Video editing has always intrigued me and I have made fun little videos on my various phones and ipods growing up. But at the start of this summer I decided to dive deeper into learning how to make quality videos. I started working with editing software, using a nicer camera, and taking more time to think about the content I was producing. I am super happy and love making videos as a hobby! It would mean a lot to me if you checked them out!

My first channel is my personal channel where I post music covers, trips, vlogs, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl5vIr8TkDUszx6PG3HB5Mg?view_as=subscriber

My second channel is for funny videos and videos I make with my friends.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQH-pIgwJjT_BKIszi6AX7Q?view_as=subscriber

My third channel is my fitness channel where I give advice, tips and tricks, and share my somewhat different approach to health and fitness. Also, I post about my personal journey with working out.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuJxTHWW6yYM0EFtcWZlAEA?view_as=subscriber

If any of those sound interesting to you please check them out! Subscribe to them if you want to see more and make sure to like the videos you find interesting so I know what you want to see more of!

Thank you so much for your time! I hope you have an amazing rest of your day! 🙂

 

God Willing

 

What do you do when all your plans fall apart? When the world you know is flipped upside down and everything changes? Everyone goes through a season like this, most likely multiple times through out life. I am writing to address why I believe we find ourselves in these situations, and how we can get through them and be thankful for them.

I was recently listening to the song “Looking for a Savior” by United Pursuit when I got the idea for this post. At the time, I was going through a hard period. A lot was changing, and that can be scary at times. I am still going through everything, but I am proud to say that each day things are getting better as this season comes to an end and a new one begins. Looking back though, I wish I would have known how to handle things better. I wanted to understand how I ended up at that place and why it was so hard. One line from the song stuck out to me: “When our plans become the casualties of getting through the day.” This entire song speaks to the struggle of finding peace and comfort in all the wrong things. However, I feel this line addresses the root of the problem. It is so easy to idolize things, even things that aren’t tangible. In fact, these things are probably the biggest cause of idolization and they are also the most unnoticed at times. For me, I always thought that only real things could be idolized. For example, a person in my life, an object, a book, my family, etc. All these things can be idols but the ones that I really struggle with and that I see others struggle with is ideas, careers, plans, etc. We put so much value on the things we want, even if they are good and pure they are still idols. I have always wanted to be married, become a father, and have a family. These are good things to look forward to and be hopeful about, however, I began to focus only on that. I got up each day with the mindset of getting to that place in my life. My actions were dictated on if they would help me get what I wanted. Pretty soon, my pursuit of these things veered me off course from God’s plan for me. That is why I love the quote from the song. Our plans, even if they are small and seemingly harmless, can be a casualty if they get us out of bed and drive us through our day. If you only pursue these things they will lead to that place of pain, struggle, and sorrow. It’s so easy to justify these things too, because they are great things to look forward to in life. I don’t want you to get it twisted. I am not saying don’t pursue a family, time with friends, love, a career.  What I am saying is that they should supplemented with your pursuit of Jesus. He should be our driving force and what determines our actions each day. In the bible app plan, “Finding God in The Hard Places” by Ashley Abercrombie she puts it this way, “We’re all just walking each other home to Jesus.” I love this because if we consider each day in terms of this quote we keep our focus on getting to Jesus. Also, we are “walking each other” which gives room for relationships. Whether that is through a family, hanging out with friends, or being involved in a career, they are on the path to Jesus, so we don’t need to pursue them individually. When we chase our own desires without Jesus they will inevitably fall apart, and we end up in those terrible and hard seasons.

Getting caught up in our plans is unavoidable. So instead of trying to elude these hard times, we should learn how to make them easier to handle. One thing that helps me get through them is keeping in mind that it is a period of realignment with Jesus and his plans for me. When our plans fall apart, that can sometimes be just what we need to see where we are and the true intentions of our heart. It is very reassuring to me during this time because I know that I am growing closer to Jesus and refocusing myself, and my direction, on Him. Another thing that helps me during times of hardship is reminding myself of the truths of God. He is a good father that has the best intentions for you in mind. He knows your heart and what you want. You can rest easy in the fact that when things don’t go the way you planned, that the heavenly father has something even better in store for you. The plans we make are not set in stone, no matter how much we want them to be. I think this quote from James says it best:

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

So, I ask that you still chase your dreams and goals but keep Jesus at the center of it all. When you let God take control of your life you are relieved of the pressure of trying to do things and get places on your own. Know that the Lord is not a reckless father. He will guide you and lead you to what you need, which may not always be what you think you want. We can be thankful for these seasons because even if we can’t see it at the moment, God is leading us in a good direction.

I hope this has helped or encouraged you if you are struggling. I want you to know that you aren’t alone in what you are feeling. Life can take unexpected turns at the most inconvenient times and leave us confused and alone. But remember, you aren’t alone when you follow Jesus and good things are coming. If you want to hear more encouraging words on the same topic, then check out my friend Tristan Epperson’s blog. I have linked it below, along with a link to the bible app plan, and the song. I hope you all have a great day!

IMPORTANT!!!

Before you leave I would like to ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Carr Fire happening in Northern California. I also urge you if possible to donate and help. There are more things than just money that can be donated. I have linked a website down below that explains more on what’s going on and ways you can help. Also, I have included links to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Thank you so much.

“Hope Through Heartbreak” by Tristan Epperson: https://tristanepperson.com/2018/07/24/hope-through-heartbreak/

“Finding God in the Hard Places” by Ashley Abercrombie: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3137-finding-god-in-the-hard-places

“Looking For A Savior” by United Pursuit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4YhvfN4_Vk

How you can help: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/07/29/carr-fire-northern-california-help-victims/859636002/

The American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation?cid=donation&med=cpc&source=google&scode=RSG00000E017&gclid=CjwKCAjw7vraBRBbEiwA4WBOn_LUB8OD179drHUfOnr_uNw4id7CdE3Jl-eIppJYRV_NSBUx2gyYfRoCG1AQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CNOXn6aiyNwCFZwGrQYdQ_IDfw

The Salvation Army: https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/

Thoughts on the Heart

 

The heart is a curious thing. I don’t mean heart in the sense of the organ that pumps blood through our body. No, I’m talking about the heart that is connected with our emotions and intertwined with our soul. I’m talking about that fragile thing inside us that lets us feel love, empathy, and sadness. The thing that drives our passions in the pursuit of our dreams. It may not be a real, tangible object, but the power it has in us is very real. How we think about our heart and how we present it to others reveals a lot about the story of who we are.

 

Broken Hearted

I think it’s safe to say a broken heart is one of the most devastating things someone can experience in their lifetime. There is no cry like that of the broken hearted. Unlike physical wounds there is no treatment for a broken heart. We can try and use our friends and family like a cast to help us heal, use worldly pleasures as a sling, or consume alcohol and drugs like doctor prescribed medications. But the truth is, a broken heart never fully heals. Things get better and the ache you felt at first may not be as painful as it once was, but it is still there. It is a part of you and your story now. There are many things that can lead to a broken heart, but at the core of the sorrow is loss. Loss of a loved one, a friend, an ability, an opportunity, the point is something is gone, and it left with a piece of your heart. That’s why it is impossible to fully recover, because you invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost. I urge the broken hearted to not let that missing piece be a reminder of what’s gone, but a reminder of what you had. You invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost for a reason, most likely because you believed in it, had love towards it, or it brought a value to your life. So, next time you feel the ache in your heart where that scar is, let it remind you of all the good memories you had. Embrace that stirring in your heart and never let it take good things and turn them into negative things.

Brave Hearted

This is someone who has been broken hearted in life, someone who has hit rock bottom but hasn’t let that stop them from sharing their heart with others again. A brave hearted person can give their love when it seems like there is none left to give. A brave hearted person loves those that are hard to love at times. They are courageous with their love in the face of adversity, and are a strong example of continuing to love despite being hurt before.

Open Hearted

The most vulnerable of them all is the open hearted. They express their love without concealment. Their actions and words align with the feelings in their heart. Having an open heart means your love pours out into your everyday life and is very noticeable to others. There is honesty and clarity in the words and actions of people with an open heart. It is comforting being around them because they share their feelings in a truthful and real way, which creates a comforting environment and makes others feel like they can be open in return.

Kind Hearted/Big Hearted

Being kind hearted or having a big heart means that your heart takes on the burdens of others. You care as much about others hearts as you do your own. Having a kind and big heart is like having an open heart, both have a foundation of love for yourself first, so that you can give love to others. However, a kind-hearted person’s intentions aren’t always as noticeable. Someone with a big heart might take on the pain of someone else, but that doesn’t always translate into big, apparent actions. A kind-hearted person is there for others and is full of compassion.

Cold Hearted    

The cold-hearted person is a sad story. I believe that this is someone who has been broken hearted one to many times. They have had to many bad experiences when they’ve shared their love, so they wall it off so that don’t get hurt anymore. It is scary to keep putting yourself out their when you’ve only been damaged from doing so. It becomes safe and secure to keep your heart and love guarded.

Full Hearted

Looking at this in terms of action, like doing something full heartedly, means doing that task with full commitment and emotional investment. But being full hearted means, you are at peace. You have a deep and healthy love with your circumstances and current situations in life. Being full hearted gives you confidence and produces joy.

 

No matter what condition you heart is in, I urge you not to give up on sharing your love. Be there for the broken hearted and remind them they’ll be okay. I ask you to try and understand the cold hearted. They have been hurt and if we can be considerate and help by bringing a healthy love into their life instead of shutting them out, I believe that they can start to tear down their walls. I hope after reading this you can appreciate the brave and open hearted. I hope you strive to be full hearted and kind hearted. Love can be a frightening thing. I believe that truly loving is one of the scariest things you can do in life, and one of the most rewarding. Understanding your heart and what you are feeling is so important for your journey in life. If you only walk away with one thing from this article, I hope it’s this: Love is powerful and if we all use it to help build each other up, then we can accomplish so many amazing things as a society. So, don’t be selfish with your love and be aware of your own hearts condition, as well as others.

The Other Side of Silence

grayscale photo of tree and grass field

I wrote this essay this last year in college. It is my first attempt at a collage essay. For those of you who may not know, a collage essay is formed by bits and pieces of information in a poetic form that answer tough, deep questions. This prompt asked the question who I am and why I write. It is a daunting task trying to put into words who you are. I feel you can never really fully explain who you are. What makes you, you, is always changing and evolving. All the memories and experiences that shape you aren’t always the big events in your live. Sometimes, it is the small ones that impact us the most. In this essay I try to touch on the big things, and the little things.

 

The Other Side of Silence

 

Silence.

I’m afraid of letting people down.

I’m afraid being alone. That’s what I tell myself but I’m actually afraid of losing people.

The emptiness left in people by tragedy.

The depression hidden behind smiles.

The world became hollow and eerie.

The shell of a perfect world formed through youthful and innocent eyes started to crack and reveal all the evil and loss that were scratching at the surface. I found out that everybody, even the people I suspected the least, had horrible things happen to them or had done horrible things themselves.

Growing up.

“He wanted to see his son, but it scared him to think that Charlie would no longer be a boy but had become a man without a father in his life.” ̴ B. Harrison

I want to tell stories about that moment when you realize your parents are just people. They make mistakes too.

I want to tell stories about what it means to be a man.

I remember drinking beer, tattoos, facial hair, fighting, and sex.

What are we not talking about?

Heritage.

I am a white male. I have privileges that I don’t deserve and power I can’t control. I don’t know the extent of my power. I didn’t ask for this. I try to exercise caution with my responsibility.

My relationship to power tastes like cake, like free sweets.

Brothers. Three boys in one room. Depression and anxiety and sexual ambition are out of control. I am the oldest. I must lead and guide. Perfection is my aim; Academically, physically, and more discreetly, emotionally.

I remember sex made you cool.

Family reunions in San Antonio. The sun made my shoulders brown and the humidity made my dad and step mom upset. As kids, my brothers, cousins and I would all play games, swim, talk to distant relatives we didn’t remember, and eat. There was always so much food, and the food was huge. Everything was bigger in Texas. Spanish words mixed with guitar strums, laughter, checker pieces clicking on wood, and forks scraping plates. Everyone was always hungry for more, they just didn’t know what.

Tall fir trees enclosed my grandparents’ house in Littlerock, Washington. Inside their house dusty knick-knacks and family pictures were everywhere. I loved the old smell and how everything was worn-in. I loved the fireplace, the warmth. All along the driveway, the bushes had conquered junk cars my grandpa had scrapped for parts, and the shrubs had taken over the old trails that used to wind through the trunks of trees. A small creek trickled off to the side. I could always faintly hear birds chirping some where high up in the branches and I loved the sweet melody the wind played through the dancing trees. It was a quiet hum that let me know I was home.

Love.

My father wasn’t there but I still learned to love.

I’m afraid of becoming my father.

“A Father to the Fatherless” ̴ Psalm 68:5

My grandma showed me how around campfires in the middle of nowhere, and through jokes at all the wrong times.

My grandpa taught me how to love through greasy fingers working in his shop and playing catch until the mosquitoes became unbearable.

My cousins taught me down by the river in Texas. They showed me how to love through smiles with our toes in the water when the sun sank low and made the whole world orange.

My first girlfriend taught me how to love. She showed me a world I didn’t know existed outside of movies and novels. She also showed me how imperfect and messy it all is.

And when things fell apart with her my friends showed me how to love by getting me out of bed and taking me on adventures.

But my mom, she taught me the most. She showed me how to love simply by being there when no one else was. By caring and loving me when it seemed like no one else did.

It is a strong word if you choose to let it be. Hate is just another four-letter word like love. They only have value when we give them value, and I can’t help myself.

I fell into some bad habits and the wrong crowd for a part of my life. I developed my own silence. But I was rescued by Jesus.

This is me.

The Other Side.

There is value in listening. Whether you’re listening to a family member for the hundredth time, or a stranger for the first, the fact that you are listening and engaged with another person is important. It’s important for learning and growing.

I want to tell stories that change people’s perspective and way of thinking. I want them to know they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Above all else I want to tell stories that get people to find their voice and break their silence.

I remember how it used to be, and I envision how it could be.

My aesthetic is messy and complicated.

My aesthetic is voice.

The path is through listening and revealing our own unique and ugly stories.

The tragedies and loses bloom inside those that keep them in and slowly squeeze out their life and restrict their voice. So, the silence grows. I believe that things could be different.

10 Things to Keep in Mind for Life

10 Things to Keep in Mind for Life

 

First off, I would like to say the number one piece of advice I can give you as a Christian, is to follow Jesus. It is the best choice I have made in life by far and it will change your life. However, I want this post to apply to everyone, regardless of beliefs. So, here are 10 things that will help you get the most out of life.

  1. Take time for yourself. Pray, reflect, meditate, journal, blog, do something that is just for you to process and be with yourself. Life is busy and filled with people, and I think it is easy to forget how to communicate with just ourselves and understand what we are feeling. Take time to feed your soul and ask yourself the hard questions in life. Keeping in touch with yourself and your beliefs will help keep you focused on the important things in life. More importantly, taking time to be alone with your thoughts will remind you of the path you are on and why you are on it. It helps you see the purpose of living.
  2. Work hard. Whatever you are working towards, I guarantee you that if you put in the work and time you will get the benefits. It may not happen the way you want, how fast you want it to, or how you pictured it, but it will happen. You will get there. It may be difficult and require a lot of sacrifice, but the best things do. You know what you are giving towards something. Whatever it is, earn it.
  3. Know your value. Acknowledge who you are, and the unique presence that you bring with you. Appreciate the type of person you are and what you contribute to others lives. You are special, and it is important that you know and value yourself. If you can’t do this for yourself, it makes it hard to do it for others.
  4. Surround yourself with good community. Stay close to those that push you to better yourself and help remind you of who you are. Keep friends in your life that truly want what’s best for you. Those that are willing to pick you up when you are down and humble you when you’re too proud. Your environment and community should be something that helps bring out the best version of yourself.
  5. Love others and love them fully. Truly loving others is one of the scariest and best things you can do in life. It’s scary because it makes you vulnerable and can lead to you being hurt. But I promise you that it is always worth it to give with all your heart to others because the good moments that come from that, will always outweigh the bad ones. I believe that when you look back on your life you will never regret knowing that you loved with an open heart.
  6. Have forgiveness. Holding on to a grudge or a hurt, regardless of who was wrong or right, is so detrimental to your health and well-being. It will only weigh you down and restrict your confidence in others. Forgiveness is the foundation of trust. Being understanding and forbearing with others frees your mind and relieves you from the burden of stress that holding a grudge can cause. If you let your animosity for someone or an event fester, it will turn into bitterness, spite, and resentment. Something that is sometimes harder than forgiving someone else, is forgiving yourself. If you can’t let go of things that have happened to you and forgive yourself and those that from your past, then you will never truly be able to move forward.
  7. Be generous. This one seems straight-forward. Of course, I think there are plenty of benefits to sharing financially when you can to help those that need it. However, I urge you to consider being generous with your time and attention. I know for me one of the best things someone can give me is just some of their undivided attention. When you put away your phone and disconnect from the world and give your time to someone it is so meaningful and considerate. So, be present and engaged with people and deliberate with your time because it shows you really care.
  8. Listen and Share. There is no avoiding hardship and struggle in life. No matter who you are there have been times in your life that are difficult for you to talk about. These times of adversity play a big role and shaping who we are but often scar us with silence. We need to address our silences and help others with theirs. One of the best things we can do for others is listen to their story. Be somebody that they can talk to and help them overcome the silence in their life caused by tragedy. As for yourself, find your voice to speak about the misfortunes that you have dealt with. The worst thing you can do is try to handle your hurt on your own. Don’t let the silence consume you. Share your pain and listen to others and you can overcome, and help others overcome, even the worst trials.
  9. Be scared in all the right ways. If you’re scared of losing someone, failing, or not knowing what the future holds, then you are doing everything right! That means that you are fully committing yourself, your heart, and your energy. You have something to lose. I think that is the best place to be in because regardless of what happens, you are going to grow. You are challenging yourself and taking a risk. If you fail, then you learn from that and grow. If you succeed, then you learn from that and grow as well. So, get out of your comfort zone and get in uncomfortable situations, because that’s how you better yourself.
  10.  Be thankful. It is so easy to focus on all the things we don’t have or the situations we want to be in, that we forget to be appreciative of the here and now. All the things I have shared here are good things to keep in mind. I would like to end on the point of being thankful because if you can be thankful when it seems things are at their worst, you are going to develop a joy that is unbreakable. Whoever you are with, be thankful they are there with you. Wherever you are, be thankful to be in that place. Even if circumstances aren’t the best at the moment, you can still be appreciative because you know things can get better.

I hope you have learned something or at least been reminding of something you want to work on in your life. These things are easier said than done and I know it is unreasonable to do all these things, all the time. But try your best to apply these in your life and I am sure you will notice a difference.