Monday, December 30, 2013

Disney Adventurers

For all of you out on adventures this holiday season (and for anyone looking to start a new one) here are a few fabulous quotes from some of your favorite characters to inspire and encourage you!  I'm sure there are plenty more, but it's a start!

"Not-So-Social" Networking

A really fascinating movie that will probably leave you nodding along with the seemingly obvious (and not-so-obvious) effects of "social" networking.  Soooo...yet another reminder to reality...face to face with the people around you.  Friends, family, strangers on the street.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

'There's beauty in destruction'

I've always been intrigued by graffiti.  Perhaps it's the rebellious spirit of the artist, or maybe it's just my awe at their shading skills.  Sometimes it's the message, and sometimes it's the canvas, and sometimes I haven't the slightest clue why I love it so much.  I think the quote found in the images of this abandoned nursing home site is a perfect way to phrase it, at least in part; 'There's beauty in destruction.'  I happen to think there is maybe something missing here...there's beauty in purposeful destruction.  As you'll see in some of my images below, I don't consider all graffiti to be art...a scribbled name here or there that doesn't seem to add life to its location or that does not inspire or provoke thoughts or feelings doesn't have much place for me, and seems much more "destructive" than the beautiful graffiti that seems to have a greater purpose.  To be fair, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  So, to each his/her own!

Here are just a few of the images I captured (circa 2007, Spain).

Don't be afraid, knowledge is power. Learn how to communicate!

As you may have come across in your life, many people are affected physically, emotionally, and mentally to such an extent that their speech or ability to communicate is compromised.  I'm sure we've all been there...we'e fascinated but we're not sure how to approach this person, even if they are a good friend.  Here are some basic tips from one girl who suffered a sort of stroke from a car accident and now suffers from aphasia, to help when dealing with someone with her specific issue.

If you're not sure how to approach someone with a specific disease, problem, issue, or occurrence, YOUTUBE it...there are plenty of people out there who are happy to help who know first-hand how to handle the situation.  Learning will set both you and the other person at ease and make your communication both possible and pleasant!  The more you know... :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

For those in need of a White Christmas...

Ok, so I can't give you a white Christmas...although I wish I could because a fresh white powder outside really is the best way for me to get in the Christmas spirit!

Instead, I'll send you some snow-art from France...enjoy the artistry, and the white powder!

For those with a case of holiday stress

I know this time of the year can be stressful for billions of reasons.  Relationships are good, relationships are not so good, relationships are non-existant.  Family is awesome, family is crazy, family is far away, family is disconnected, family is non-existant.  Gifts are difficult, people are difficult, gifts and people are non-existant. The list goes on and on.

Please remember that you are not alone this holiday season.  There are billions of people on the planet and they are all going through things in their own way.  If they don't feel how you do right now, they have in the past or they will in the future, so don't compare yourself in vain.  Instead, take a quick look at this great list of Things To Let Go Of Before The New Year.  It's a really nice reminder to take a breath.  Enjoy your life, enjoy the holidays!

Thinking of everyone out there - happy, sad, and indifferent - and wishing you the very best!

All I Want for Christmas

Because I love Mariah Carey, and you HAVE to love a bunch of grown men playing with children's instruments...

Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Holidays to all:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holidays & Airports

So I'm traveling this week for the holidays.  I'm thankful for the chance to have a break from my routine, to travel, and to see my family!

Of course, I've found that during the holidays, despite the general understanding that it should be about peace and love, people often find themselves being rude or inconsiderate toward strangers and even very short-tempered with their family and friends because of the inherent stress that the season brings with it.  I understand that we're all stressed and excited and have a billion things to do and not enough time to do it in...but let's try to remember, that this is actually how we feel MOST of the time.  I, for one, couldn't find time to do all of my dishes this week and had to leave the least of the mess until I return from my vacation (don't judge me).

It wasn't really that I didn't have the time, it's that it was not my priority.  This week, I focused on myself.  I made it a point to go to the gym each day and to eat a real meal for dinner and to teach online each night.  I made it a point to go to bed immediately after teaching, and to call or text friends, and that just didn't leave as much time for the dishes, and I'm alright with it.

So, what I want to say is, take your precious time and try to prioritize.  The dishes can wait, but you never know what could happen to the PEOPLE in your life between now and the next chance you have to talk to them or see them.  Take time for them and for yourself to enjoy the peace and happiness and joy that the New Year inevitably brings.  There's something magical about it.

And if you, like me, are traveling this season, do take the time to say the commonly underused but ever-so-important words "please, thank you," and "happy holidays."  People who are working, are working HARD and they are away from their families serving YOU.  People who are in traffic, are in the same traffic as you are, and are as frustrated as you are.  People on the airplanes and in airports, they're trying to get where they need to go, too.  Instead of isolating yourself this season, try to see what you have in common with the people around you.

I was lucky enough to do that this weekend.  I met a lovely girl from Texas who went to school in Chicago and started a company about food and eating healthy in college with her friend before moving to NYC to build on it.  They now have 15 (or more) associated campuses.  Who knew?  Her company is Spoon University.  Feel free to check it out.

I also had the chance to be seated in the middle seat (a seat which I usually dislike because I don't get the window to sleep against nor the aisle for the freedom to walk around) but it worked to my advantage as I couldn't sleep most of the trip despite being insanely tired.   I had a delightful conversation and made a new friend who was fascinating.  He is both a musical artist and a role manager for other artists.  He is based out of New York and loves his little Chihuahua dog more than life.  We had a great conversation and I learned a lot about him and his life and career and goals.  His stage name is Gemini.  He loves old school hip hop.

You know what?  I've semi-avoided conversation while traveling for a while just because usually I'm too exhausted by the time I finally get a break to travel and I go into a little zone and pass out between point A and point B.  I found it so fulfilling to stay awake this time, and I think it's like a microcosmic lesson for life:  STAY AWAKE.  There are fascinating things going on around you at any given moment and all you have to do is open yourself up to the opportunity of knowing them!  I'm not even sure how those two conversations started.  It was rather mutual, I think, and that just goes to show that we aren't all little robots and we do all have an underlying desire to reach out to others and connect, especially at this time of year.  So don't close up and fold in on yourself and your immediate kin this season.  Stay awake.  Feel the love and joy and excitement of the lives around you and embrace them instead of turning them away.  Connect.  

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite films, Love Actually, since it seems quite appropriate for the season and the traveling mode that I'm in:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Look for the "I Love You"s

I know that no one wants to hear that you have to uncover the's not as easy as the obvious, but it's the reality of it.  While reading this post on "I Love You" according to different people, it made me very introspective. 

How many times have I just wanted to say it but I thought I'd already said it so many times that someone's brain probably hurt or that I sounded like a broken record?  How many of the times that I thought that, had I never actually even said the words?  Sometimes I think we feel so much love for others that we THINK they know it.  I think they get it because every second I text them or talk to them or hug them it seems so logical that the love seems to be jumping out of my pores that I don't even realize that I didn't say a thing. 

So that article hit me because I feel it without speaking it, most of the time.

How about the times when he or she didn't call you back or didn't tell you they arrived safely and you were like "what the heck?!"  Then when you talked they didn't make a big deal about not talking to you but they told you they missed you...are you still focused on the fact that they just made you anxious and nervous and half-crazy?  Or did you take their way of saying "I love you" and digest it?  Was it enough? 

We see love for others when they don't even recognize many things, it's always easier to see it from the outside looking in.  We feel that we're expressing all of our different love levels appropriately and efficiently, even though we aren't using our words.  And then...we wonder where is the love?  I'm guilty as charged. 

So, inspired by this article...I'm going to try to verbalize more.  I'm going to remember that when I think I'm a broken record it's just because I'm bursting with love and it seems out of control (TO ME) but that I may not have expressed it in such a way that another person is processing.  I'm going to try to not make you all look for the "I love you" too much. 

Because I do.  Actions speak louder than words, but we also need to start to read the actions the way that we read words.  So let's agree to start trying to actualize our feelings for the moments when we can't verbalize our "I Love Yous," and to verbalize them when we can and start to read actions when there are no words, and see where those take us.  Maybe we'll give, and find, some extra love.

Need a laugh?

This is just too much!
For anyone out there who needs a laugh; Happy Friday!

Just to make your heart melt...

your heart will melt...

MY 30x30

1.  Finish my professional registration exams
      *as of today, 1 down, 6 to go

2.  Get a job in my field of study
     *accomplished, June 2013

3.  Live in my own apartment (again)
     *accomplished, July 2013

4.  Finish my scrapbooks for ages 21-26
     __this needs work...a lot

5.  Send birthday/anniversary cards to people consistently
     *__this is difficult, but I'm working on it

6.  See 3 new countries
     *Mexico in April 2013
     *Norway scheduled for March 2014
    __Maybe I'll cross into Sweden from Norway to complete the tri-fecta

7.  Participate in 3 community service activities
    __I'm behind on this.  I'm going to start taking my own advice.

8.  Save $10,000.
     __ this is one of those really super-lofty goals...I'm including stock stuff and really keeping my fingers cross that they do most of the work for me...even though I have started speaking with a financial advisor to find a more reasonable and logical and helpful approach to look at saving for life.  (Let me know if you want to talk to him because he's amazing).

9.  Have a compost (again)
     __ I had one with my roommate, Lauren, in Buffalo and I tried to start one in a plastic bowl in my parents' house but one day and 20 fruit flies later, it was destroyed.  I decided I need an outdoor space or a basement for this endeavor.

10.  Maintain a vegetable garden.
     __I am not a green thumb.  I think I'm actually more of a frosty blue thumb.  I killed a cactus once; no, this is not a joke.  SO you can understand why this will be a huge challenge for me.

11.  Read Don Quixote (again...kind of)
     *__ To be fair, I started this but I stopped when I got "too busy."  I took a class on the book as a grad student and had a hard time keeping up (sorry professor!).  I was doing a great job trying to read a chapter per night this year before life got crazy.  This post is a good reminder for me to pick up where I left's actually a fascinating and laugh-out-loud funny book.  I'm reading it in Spanish - this makes it a greater challenge.

12.  Learn another language
     __I feel like this one is open to interpretation.  I've mastered the language of online teacher intonation is absolutely incredible, if I may say so, but I think I'm really aiming for a new language that is an actual, certifiable, dictionary definition of a Chinese, for example...I still have a few years, it could happen!

13.  Write 10 letters to strangers
     __Macy's has a special connection with Make a Wish this year...for every letter to Santa they'll donate a dollar...that might just take up all of my letters.  But I also would like to write one to my elderly neighbor (who DOES have a green thumb) to thank her for her gardening efforts because they make me smile when I see her beautiful flowers!   And also to a family that lives near mine who lost two children to Williams Sarcoma Disease.  I'd like for them to know that a stranger is sending them some positive vibes.

14.  Try 3 new exercise regimens:
     *Crossfit, January 2013
     *Pole dancing, January 2013 (yes, it's actually really difficult and not for the uncoordinated and it's a lot of fun IF you go to the right place)
     *Weight lifting, November 2013-Present (it's empowering to walk into a room full of equipment and do your thing like you own the place.  It's NOT exciting (for me) to become bulky.  Gotta' balance the weights with the cardio.  I added some cardio classes and now I'm really happy with the combined result! (more on this to come in future posts, I'm sure).

15.  Learn to cook "pinto"
     *Completed in December 2013 (this past week!)  This is a Costa Rican staple usually consisting of day-old rice and beans mixed together and cooked on the stove with some cilantro, onions, and sometimes any other leftovers that you want (I've seen a great range and all of it has been excellent).  It is most often offered paired with a side of natilla (kind of like a mix between cheese and sour cream), fried cheese (OMG to die for), salchichon (sausage), eggs, toast, or any other scrumptious breakfast item that you desire.

16.  Learn a song on the guitar and play it from memory.
   __I have a guitar, now I need to actually learn something.

17.  See the northern lights
     __I am really hoping our timing is right in Norway in March!

18.  Write by 35x35 list
     __It's in the works...I still have more open spots on the list, though!

19.  Camp and cook all three meals there.
     ___ I didn't ever camp until I was 23 years old.  I did it on a road trip across the country in 2009 but because we were on the move, I don't know that I really got the "camping experience."

20.  Catch, prepare and cook a fish.
     ___I'm sorry, vegans.  It's on my list.  I've done all of these things in different moments but I've never completed the whole process and I think there's something to be learned there about life and cycles and follow-through.  I might be a vegan by the time I finish this task.

21.  Learn 5 Crockpot Recipes
     *Dad's Chili
     *Apple butter
     *banana bread (who knew?)
     *vegetable and rice soup
     ___One to go!  Might have to try the pulled pork recipe my sister told me about using root beer...

22.  Use a paddle boat (of sorts)
     *My parents bought a kayak.  How timely for this list item!  Completed (now on multiple occasions) in 2013

23.  Jump from a high place
     ___I haven't found the right opportunity yet, which is why I wanted to not be too specific with this #...a waterfall, skydiving, bungee jumping, snowboarding...something just high enough to scare me.

24.  Get dinner and a movie by myself
     ___I think this is a good life skill.  To learn to enjoy your own company.  I've actually read some really interesting articles on this.  I think I see people sometimes and I'm so uncomfortable doing things on my own that I feel bad for people when I see them alone.  So this will be a challenge to me to "own being alone" doing something for me.

25.  Run a 1/2 marathon
     ___I haven't done a half marathon and the closest I've gotten since this list is a 5k mud-run...I may eventually change this goal to include that mud run because that was also something I've also wanted to do...I'm still contemplating if the distance of the run is really my intention with this goal....TBD.

26.  Attend a large scale festival or event.
     ___ I'm not talking a concert I'm talking BIGGER.  Maybe I can camp at a festival and cook 3 meals there...2 birds with one stone(...poor birds)

27.  Go on vacation with friends.
     ___When I was young, my parents and their friends planned vacations together.  They vacationed with friends.  We're pretty young and just kind of getting hold of vacation days and how it works and saving money and such, but I've wanted to get some sort of tradition started, or just get people I like together for more than just lunch.  This will be accomplished in Norway in March, if not again...maybe it's something that could be repeated on my 35x35 list...

28.  Own a bike.
     __I haven't had a bike since I was little.  I remember my dad teaching me and I remember being angry when he let go of the seat, even though I did just fine.  My grandfather was an avid cyclist and passed this on to our family as some sort of legend/tradition/experience.  I'd like to live that somehow.  I feel like having a bike is somehow part of who I am, even though riding one sometimes scares me.

29.  Create a work of art.
     ___I'm not sure what this means yet.  When I do it I'll let you know.

30.  Get a crash course in automechanics
     *__This one is half in the bag as my car is failing and often requires maintenance...once I "know it all" I'll check this one off.

Anti-climactic ending, if you read them in order, but that's just the way they filled the list.  One by one.  My 35x35 list is at about 30 as of today, but there's room for change there.  I've also realized that some things I've put on my 35 list, I accomplished already!  So if worse comes to worst, I intend to exchange anything that I might not accomplish with something from the future list.  This is what I meant about it being your list and your rules.
Tell me the about the biggest challenge on YOUR list. 
I'd love to hear what you guys have planned!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Money Talks...and so do your resources

Goodness gracious, this guy is my newest on a long list of heroes in this world! 
He explains the story in the video. 
What would you do if someone gave you $25,000?
Money talks, what does yours say?
...and when you don't have the money, what do you do?
It's not impossible to make a difference when you don't have money.  You have connections.  Use your resources.  Humanity is good and there are people who want to help.  Here's an example of that:
When an earthquake rocked the tiny country of Costa Rica last September 5th, it wasn't the physical damage that was so disruptive to life, but the emotional damage caused to the country's tourists both foreign and local that decreased the influx of people to hotels, shops, and restaurants that locals live by. 
This was my plea (thanks to the almighty networking power of Facebook):

"As many of you may know, my tiny neighborhood of Cangrejal, in my small beach town of Playa Sámara, Costa Rica, was the epicenter of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 5, 2012. If you didn't...well, now you do! It was strong enough to be felt in the neighboring countries of Nicaragua and Panamá, and Costa Ricans ("ticos") were extremely lucky to not have suffered devastating losses of life or property, though they continue to feel the aftershocks which consistently weigh in around 4-6 on the richter...

Sooo...What does this mean? Well, while CR isn't a third-world country, it's government has been slow to come to the aid of many people affected by the earthquake. While any major transit, landslide, and structural issues are the first challenges to be met, there are some pressing issues that have not yet been addressed.

Anyone who has visited may recognize immediately that the country's economy is based 95% on foreign tourism. During the rainy season months of June-November, it is typical that the country gets fewer tourists and the beach town of Samara is no exception. Most years, though, locals are able to find a few hours of work here or there to cover their basic living expenses including housing, food, water, and gas (used for cooking) as well as telephone and television cable (the only source of news aside from spotty internet in a place where radio signals are few and far between)...

This brings me to the problem at hand: The previous example of making ends meet is what happens in a TYPICAL rainy season...but this is not a typical rainy season because any tourism that HAD been entering, has now fled the epicenter of the quake to head for higher ground away from the fear of tsunami should the next large earthquake (predicted to be a magnitude 7.9) decide to occur during their stay. This is making work scarce and money for basic needs even more scarce.

What's the point? I'm headed down there the 6th of October. I considered asking for non-perishable food donations but after pondering the cost of an extra bag(s) not to mention the overweight fees that would be incurred by carrying sacks of rice, beans, and canned goods, it would probably cost more to bring the food than the food was worth. SO instead, I'm asking for monetary donations. I know, I know. Bad economy, everyone is tight for cash. Well consider this: When there IS work in my town, the average construction worker starts at 6am and works til 5pm in the hot sun with a 1.5 hour break and makes $ For many jobs in the area, the hourly wage is just $2/hour (I know, because I've worked them...). I'm asking you to consider one hour of your wage...At minimum wage, you are still making about $20 in 3 hours...not even 1/2 day of work. Imagine how far a few dollars could go. Staple items are slightly less expensive there than here but not proportionately for their wage differences. But for a few bucks you can buy a bag of rice and for another few, a bag of beans and/or coffee (staples in the Costa Rican diet). A couple of bags of rice and beans can feed a family of 5 for a month. You do the math. Aside from food, there are small repairs to be completed throughout the town, including those of the only public health clinic within 45 minute drive of town, the EBAIS of Samara, located in Cangrejal.

A dollar here or there is more than enough. If you look in your change purse or your wallet or your pockets or your couch and you find a dollar, or two or five, and you think you can spare it, I can bet you that there will be a whole lot of people who will be really grateful to you for thinking of them because a lot of people come to CR and enjoy every bit of it, and have a hard time giving back as much as they've gotten out of it. So...if you've gone before, give back, and if you haven't been yet...consider it a small investment in your future visit.

I'll be happy to provide receipts and upload photos when I return and will be collecting any donations large or small in cash or through paypal where you can donate with a credit card from afar. I'd request that if you are going to send a check, that you send it to my address in NY by Monday, October 1, so that it gets to me in time to deposit it before I leave the following Saturday. The plan will be to buy non-perishable items from local merchants to promote the local businesses, and to use knowledge of friends and locals to distribute the food among those who are most in need until the summer months (and hopefully tourism and work) return in November.

Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think would be interested in the cause and to ask questions/give suggestions.

You can start donating NOW...before you forget :)

Thank you in advance for any help you can afford to give,
Pura Vida - "Pure Life" the national slogan of Costa Rica"
I was able to raise just over $1300 between September 25 and October 6 2012 by collecting any donation amount from anyone willing.  We made over 45 bags of food and goods for the people of the town I call my second home and we had money left over to give to the ongoing efforts of the local church (about which I explained to those involved as I recognized that it may not be considered the politically correct thing to do).  No one seemed to care since they saw the good it did.  I am so grateful to people who can spare anything in their lives for the good of others who are in need and am eternally thankful to the people who donated and trusted me with their money to do the right thing.
For more information on how to do something similar or for pictures and information about that specific effort, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

The #s list...30x30 (Thirty by Thirty)...or whatever number you're approaching

I have to admit wholeheartedly that this was not my idea but I wish it were. 

I have great friends.  I have the type of friends that are with you for a lifetime.  I have the type of friends that get together and don't just talk about surface level stuff (even though we haven't talked in a while, seen each other in a while or caught up in a while), we talk about the real stuff.  We talk about our goals and dreams and where we came from and where we're going.  Luckily, since we came from a lot of the same stuff, we can focus more on where we're going, and that's just fine with me.  I think sometimes we can get stagnant with our friendships and become stuck in a moment and don't continue forward.  I'm lucky to say that that's not my situation.

So my group of friends (that I've known for most of my life, at this point), got together around this time last year.  A traditional gathering and talking and eating (we like this sort of enjoying one another's company, thing).  One friend decided to share with us her newest "thing." 

That "thing" is the 30x30.  That thing has gotten me going on a whole lot, gotten me into a whole lot and gotten me through a whole lot.

It seems like a pretty simple concept;  You choose some sort of life marker, in this case, most of us will turn the big 3-0 in the next few years, and you match that number with an equal number of things you want to do, places you want to go, things you want to accomplish, etc.  It's simple because it's a "bucket list" of sorts, and we all have things that we want to do that we haven't done yet, or that we'd like to do again. It's simple because it's yours, so you can make up the rules as you go.

It's NOT simple because once you write something down, it's actually real.  It's no longer on that hypothetical list of things you want to's actually on a 'take-out-the-pen-and-start-crossing-that-stuff-off-because-you-hate-to-have-things-left-over-on-your-to-do-list' sort of lists.  I LOVE IT.  Some of mine are challenging, some of them I could do last-minute if I really wanted to.  Making the list was tough at first, trying to figure out what exactly was list-worthy, until you figure out that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that you want to should go on that list.

This isn't a new phenomenon, either.  I got a few of my ideas and made them my own from reading blogs on the topic posted by other people who had the idea first.  My friends have made blogs in the past year in order to track their progress and to share it with the rest of us to stay honest and to keep on top of it.

What I love about it is that it gives me purpose.  Even when other things that I have to do or that come up seem to drag me down, I look at that list and say...well you know what, I gotta' do this thing in order to do this OTHER thing that I WANT to do.  And then I do it.  It's completely mental, I know, but it works.  I've found some solice in knowing that I have some things that I WANT and that they may be trivial or silly to other people because they're so common for them, or they may be crazy for other people because "Hell no" they aren't going to jump out of an airplane.  THAT'S WHAT IS SO AWESOME ABOUT THIS THING.  It's YOURS. 

So I'm going to share my list with you, and what I've accomplished thus far to help you get started.  But seriously...don't just say "I should write one of those": DO IT.  I wrote mine in my phone so that whenever I thought of a new idea I could add it to my list and whenever I need a reminder of what I want to do, I bust it out, and whenever people need something to focus on to get through their tough days, I tell them about my list and encourage them to write one.

I encourage you to try to write one before you read another one.  See how far you get, and THEN check out the others.  This was a good way for me to not judge myself and my desires against others.  But of course, other people had some rockin' ideas that really aligned with mine once I had (temporarily) run low. 

The thing's not worth it to live life with a bucket don't know when you're gonna' go. And saying "I'll do it someday before I die is like saying...I have no real hope or pursuit of this desire planned for action."  So don't make a bucket list...make a #s list.  Set a goal to reach x number of objectives in x amount of time.  You do this in your job and in the things that you HAVE to do in life and those things seem to get accomplished just fine, so why not do it with what you WANT to do?  And then do it! 

See my next post on MY list when you're ready to see some extra ideas for your list.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

You will not regret reading this post...

I promise you will not regret reading this article on things you'll regret when you're older.


Don't spend your life sad or miserable or heartbroken forever and ever.  Do use sunscreen and don't go to tanning beds; You will think you look awesome now but when you have to hear "cancer" come out of a doctor's mouth you will NOT be ok with your past decision (two words: spray tans).

Don't stay miserable with something you are fully capable of taking steps to change.  Relationships, jobs, locations, etc.  DO NOT be miserable over something that you have the power to change.  Get out there, throw out the sails and catch a breeze..."the ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships were made for, were they?"

Travel.  Travel even if you're scared or you think it is expensive or you don't have the vacation time.  'Cause when you have the vacation time, you're not gonna' do it.  You're going to have to do other things.  You'll find a billion and five excuses until you just say "I'm doing it."  And then you will!  And trust me, you'll make it work and the cost will still be chump change compared to your 20 years of student loans or the few days of work that you took unpaid.

Be around people who challenge you to think and to grow and to move and to be motivated and to serve and to love life.  Those people deserve your time and energy because they GIVE it to you!  It's a brilliant trade, really.  Find THOSE people.

Take on challenges, take leaps of faith, do something people say is impossible (I tend to do everything that other people tell me I can't do...I'm still kickin' so I'd say that's a good sign).  You'll survive, and if you don't, it'll be ok because "no one gets out alive, anyhow."

There's probably much more that I can add here, but I'm not old enough or wise enough to validate your taking my opinion for it so check out that list on Buzzfeed.  You will nod your head as you read.  You will say "yes, I do need to do that."  WRITE IT DOWN.  Make it conscious acceptance that it is something you want to and need to do and then turn it into action.  Stay tuned, my 30x30 post is coming up (I'll explain later, but it's ALL connected).

Stand up and live.

The gift of a smile...

It's the holiday season.  If you can't muster up some joy and camaraderie with your fellow human beings now, then when CAN you?

Please be kind.  Think before you speak or act.  Let someone pull out of the parking lot into the street when you're stopping at a light, hold a door,  say "hello."  These are actually simple things that should be common courtesy but I've realized lately that they really aren't.  So baby steps.  Do something nice even though it pains you.  Say good morning even if someone doesn't respond to you.  Smile at strangers.  It doesn't cost you a thing and it's the best present ever.  It gives you positive energy to wear a smile and others positive energy to see it.  Plus...studies show that we recognize the feelings of others because we are able to mimic, even if you don't realize it, people will have to mimic your smile in order to grasp your intentions...meaning you will undoubtedly make someone smile if you smile at them!  Yay!

Go make the world better.  No day like today to get started.

Reach Out Worldwide

Paul Walker.  I think most people can agree that the world lost a beautiful-looking man at a young age to his car crash alongside one of his good friends, but what most of us probably didn't know was that the world lost a man that was changing the world with his own two hands, his own voice, and his own will.  He started the organization Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW) to help the people most in need during times of disaster.  He took volunteers around the world who left their jobs, families, and homes to help other people who needed them the most.  ROWW is still going strong, thanks to the man who got them started with his fierce spirit and compassion.  Harness YOUR passion, find what really makes you happy.  Find YOUR way to change the world...and make it happen.  You don't have to start a foundation...maybe you can donate...time, effort, money...whatever you can afford.  Here's just another place you can look to start helping.
Thanks for making the world a better place by being in it, Paul Walker.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Justin Timberlake is cool.

*You may want to turn down your volume a little...*

Holy Justin Timberlake fans of loudness...but this is pretty great.  Congratulations to some people who are awesome.  And thanks for all of the excitement and happiness and support of strangers, Louisville...the world needs more of that (and not just at JT concerts).

Not your average holiday card...

HAHAHA.  I just like how many times "Christmas Jammies" is said in this video.  A delightful twist on the typical holiday cards or long letters filling you in on the life of your friends and/or family's kinda fun to watch this holiday video about people who you DON'T know...and to check out their awesome #ChristmasJammies

Not everything is as it seems...

Kids say the darndest things...continued.  Except this is awesome.  It's a reminder that young people see and feel everything around them.  They take it in and spit it out in ways that we didn't imagine.  It's also a reminder to celebrate life, and milestones, and love, and families, and awesomeness!

Also...not everything is what it seems.  So look on the bright side and stay hopeful!

Speak with Authority.

Thank you for checking in and looking for some positivity (or encouragement in your positivity).

"I'm just inviting you to join in on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty"

and I appreciate your time and energy in doing so!  I hope you're enjoying my posts, and the articles and videos and music that I'm throwing out there to brighten your day and your convictions, and maybe even opening and expanding and challenging your mind.

Once you have something to comment about:  this guy has some advice for you.  And I'd love to start seeing some more comments, written "with conviction," of course. On any and all of the posts you guys are reading.  I'm excited to know what you think, agreeing, disagreeing, feeling, loving, hoping, expecting, etc.  So, go on, jump on my "bandwagon of uncertainty" (but with some hope and positivity). 


On love...or something like it.

Just saw an article.  I don't necessarily agree with it, at least most of it.  But there are hints of things that I recognize.  I don't relate to most of these things, but there is definitely an underlying theme that I "get."  Aside from what it does for me, though, I think this would be something good for some of my (that I don't even know are readers: [side note: Hi there!])...

So maybe you should read it, you case this is something you relate to and you need right now, and, if not, maybe it'll give you recognition or understanding of a friend or loved one or partner or someone else on this earth that you never quite "got" before or that you won't "get" in the future.

And otherwise, I actually just think it's decently written, so read it with your critical mind for it's flow and writing style if you don't care what it says!

And yes...I do believe in love and I do believe that we need to believe it exists to be able to achieve it.  Love is not easy.  It hits you.  It breaks you into lots of little pieces of you and you wonder where you came from and where you're going and it matters and doesn't at the same time.  You remember being independent and you still think you're independent but this person has become part of you so you're not REALLY independent from him or her or them (friends and family, because I agree that our friend-love is like our family-love).  Love is brilliant.  It picks us up and lets us down and pushes us forward again and back around and it's CRAZY!  Kinda like life.  SO do I believe in love?  Hell yea.  That "reach for the stars over the fence world series kinda thing" (name that Mary Kate and Ashley movie).

Anyways, read the article.  I just gave you multiple reasons.

This Is Not Your Mother's Kitchen...

My mom has a good sense of style, don't get me wrong.  We actually have a lot of similar design tastes.  I might even say my parents are more Gen-Y socially and emotionally than the Gen-Xes that they actually are.  Still, this webinar is an excellent representation of Generation Y.  For all of you Gen Y-ers who have felt down-trodden or looked down upon and for all of you other generations that don't really understand Gen-Y-ers, their habits, how they are wired and why they are how they are, I highly suggest taking a comprehensive look at them the way designers have, in order to be able to take them into consideration as a growing house-owning and money producing generation of clients.

It takes a log-in (it's free) but it's worth the 30 seconds of info input to get a glimpse into some nice quick videos and some to-the-point info. on the generation that's coming to adulthood.

Understanding one another helps us to better relate on all levels.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sometimes it takes a wake up call to give us new perspective...

Came across a friend's post to HIS friend's song.  The writer/singer of EastofAdam can describe his own song much better than I can, so I won't bother:

"So I wrote this song around New Years and my birthday and the (almost) car crash that I had. New Years got me to thinking about how we all create resolutions trying to make ourselves one step closer to the person that we want to be. I recorded this in my apartment and mixed and mastered it pretty quickly, so it's most definitely not a final version. I wrote a short description about the song below. Much love y'all!
Ever feel like you aren't the person that you want to be? or that you procrastinate on the things that you actually want to accomplish, mindlessly projecting an image of who you would like to be but knowing that you're holding back in so many ways due to insecurities, time restraints, social lives, among other things? I wrote this song to myself, to some of my friends, and to people that I may have only met a few times. I wrote it because there are always things that we hold back in becoming who we want to be. Let's say what we feel, accomplish what we're set out to do, put our all into our community, our friends, our lovers, and our organizing. Let's live life to the fullest and create whatever it is that we're searching for, since we sure as hell don't know what it is... yet."
Thanks for the introspective view on your situation and feelings, EastofAdam.  
May we learn from it and take what we need.

No one is a lost cause. Find the spark.

Recently had some conversations about homelessness and why people feel that they are contributing to drug abuse and addiction without knowing the person. 
In college, I made it my goal to sit and talk to homeless on the streets of DC.  I once sat with a woman for 20 minutes talking to her about why she is there, where she stays and why.  Apparently she felt safer sleeping in the cold under the stairs of a bank than at a shelter where people "come in with all kinds of things that they shouldn't, and steal everything you might have come with."  The video camera eyeing the door to the cash-machine was her friend and the light was her safety net.  What a cruel contrast to see her "home" across the street from where we sat on a stoop, asking for change for food, and all the time it being directly below a financial institution.  That conversation has never left me.  I was late to dinner, and apologized for making people late but never for my reason.  I needed that.  Most people need it and they don't even know it.  We need to stop and look around and count our blessings and help how we can.  I gave her $5 for the conversation and for keeping her distracted from her pan-handling.  I probably owed her much more over my lifetime.
At my college, I had a meal plan.  I never used my breakfast swipe.  I was never a morning person.  As it got colder nearing the end of the fall semester, I decided I was being wasteful.  I saw so many people every time I went out with my friends for classes in the city or to eat or to go to museums (love free museums!) that were out on the streets.  Some asked for money or food.  Most didn't.  Most just sat and did their own thing and didn't bother anyone at all.  I started taking my leftovers home whenever I left a restaurant.  Needless to say, they never made it home...and that was the point.
Where does the meal plan come in?  When I realized I was being wasteful not only with the money but with the food that money could buy, I decided to do something about it.  I didn't reduce the meal plan (it wasn't an option).  Instead, I started getting my butt up 5 minutes earlier in order to stop by the dining hall to use my breakfast swipe to buy non-perishable goods.  I started hoarding non-perishables in my dorm room in my soccer bag...and then in boxes...and then in plastic bags.
I decided I would take any of my friends who weren't using their swipes and ask them every once in a while to do what I was doing and to let me hoard their food!  This only lasted a little less than a month as the semester had ended.  During my finals week one day when I was free, I grabbed some friends.  We toted the bags to the train station and walked outside.  It was snowing.  It was cold.  There were no people in sight.  We walked a few blocks this way and some more that way.  Nothing. 
It was a beautiful snowy day like in the movies.  I was relieved.  I had hope that people had found their ways to warmer places.  I asked around about a shelter.  Of course, none of the passersby knew.  We called 411 and found out about one nearby.  We walked in to a large bunk-bed-filled room of women.  The ladies working there told us that they run solely on food donations so whenever they receive things they ration them between the women that stay there. 
They announced our presence and everyone gathered around.  I felt so strange.  I don't like the attention. I don't like all eyes on me.  I didn't do it for the attention.  I did it because I don't want people to have to ration food to survive.  And then, the mood changed.  It was the holidays, after all!  One of the women said, "let's sing"...and they did.  WE did.  That big group of ladies, myself and friends included had a sing-along that day as the women who were running the center went through the bags of goods we'd carried to pass them out.  I didn't feel singled out anymore.  I felt like I was part of the group.  I felt like those people had a spark.  They recognized what it means to feel singled out and they didn't make me stand there awkwardly awaiting strange praise that we didn't feel we deserved, they invited us to be happy with them and sing holiday songs.  I don't know who was or them.
After that semester, I started just collecting things I could store in my purse and carry whenever I went out: granola bars and the like, mostly.  I still carry my leftovers home with the intention of them never arriving. 
Homelessness is the problem, not the homeless.  They have whole histories we've never even imagined and stories like ours that turned bad.  They have problems like us but not the support systems or the know-how to get help early on before they are stuck without their basic needs to be met and no way to change their fortune but the help of strangers (us).
That's why I stop and stare and rewind when I see things like the story below.  This makes me proud of people who still take the time and energy to see the spark in others, no matter how down-and-out they might seem.  Just wanted to say thank you to Patrick McConlogue, wherever you are now, for ignoring the nay-sayers and the negative Nancys and the people who said you don't have a brain or logic or any real understanding of moral compasses and of people.  Thanks for believing in the spark and honesty and loyalty and drive of people to be better than they are and to make a difference.  Thanks for helping the spark become a fire.
Find the Spark.

One Day...

If you want a better world, you are not alone.  Be the change.
Matisyahu - One Day

Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I'm breathing
Then I pray
Don't take me soon
'Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around because...

All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

It's not about
Win or lose
Because we all lose
When they feed on the souls of the innocent

Blood-drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging

In this maze you can lose your way (your way)
It might drive you crazy but don't let it faze you no way (no way)

Sometimes in my tears I drown (I drown)
But I never let it get me down (get me down)
So when negativity surrounds (surrounds)
I know some day it'll all turn around because...

All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate

One day we'll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun

Singing songs of freedom
One day

 All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day
Thanks to

Respect: Be The Change

I'm a woman.  Yup.  I said it.  I am.  What are you going to do now?  Will you find a reason to hate on me and to call me feminist for stating that I am what I am?  Or will you find a way to say that you love my clothes or my hair or my eyes or my body and what is physical about me?  Or will you read my blog, ask me moving questions and tell me that I have beautiful ideas and an amazing heart? 

I am a woman, like so many others out there.  Last I checked, about 50% of the world's population is...yup...that hasn't changed.  The question is: what are you gonna' do about it?

I hope you choose to say "that's great, but it doesn't matter to me that you are a woman because you are the most amazing person.  You are smart and you are daring and you are confident and loving and caring and you stand up for what you believe in."  I hope you say "you are respected for who you are instead of what you are." 

Respect.  It's not just for men.  It's not what you get for your looks (because you didn't earn those, they just are).  And, although we know that those gym routines have helped to give you a toned body that you're happy with, you're no more perfect for your body than you were before you toned up.

What you do with your brains and your actions and your voice?  THOSE are respectable...or at least they should be.  I'm not saying don't care about how you look--goodness, no!  We need to emote our beauty because we all are gorgeous and unique and fascinating because no one else on earth has ever been or will ever be exactly like us!  I'm saying--we are more than what anyone will ever see.  We all are.  Men and women.  No one will ever completely know anyone...including's kind of a crazy notion to consider.

Men.  Take a look.  Not with your eyes or your hands.  With your ears.  Do you HEAR what women do in your life or what they say and how they feel?  Do you notice the vibration of their being when they walk by?  Do you think first of their physicality or of their entire being?  or the whole package that they offer? 

There are still too many people on this planet that do not receive the respect that they deserve simply for the fact that they are human.  This is for many reasons which I hope to bring to light with this blog to give you their perspective(s).  No one is a single perspective.  So remember, you can see the world from another person's perspective for a few minutes if you'll listen to them.

A recent post regarding "Everyday Sexism" was shared with me today and it hit home.  The author opens the article like this:

"Have you ever asked a woman if she's experienced sexism?  Try it sometime if you have a few hours to spare.  Her answer is likely to shock you."

It's true.  If you are male or female or transgender, you will be shocked at the answers.  You've experienced sexism.  Whether you've chosen to recognize it or acknowledge it or not is a different question.  Maybe you are so accustomed that you don't even notice it.  If you are aware of your own experiences with sexism, you'll STILL be shocked at the answer when you ask someone else.  The stories that exist in this world about what is becoming the norm are terrifying.

BUT...I wouldn't bother talking about it if I didn't think that you have the chance to make a difference.  Ask for respect.  Give respect.  To everyone you meet.  With your body language and speech and actions and decisions.  Give respect.  Check yourself.  Do you do things or say things that disrespect another person, his or her body, or his or her ideas?  Notice the damage you can cause by doing that not only to that person but to all people like him or her.  Will you lift people up or bring them down?

I am respectful and respectable.  What will you be?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Take the wind, and do what you will!

Sometimes you're with 'em and sometimes you're against 'em...

These people know what I'm talking about...

Norway, I'll see you soon!

The faces of humanity.

A fresh reminder.  We're all human.  We all make mistakes (and sometimes, other people make mistakes for us).  We all start somewhere and we all end up somewhere and we are a product of our choices and of our environment.  Whatever the case, I think what most people want others to recognize is what one man explained to someone who took the time and energy to ask:

What do you want people to know about you?  
"I'm human."

My Wish for Children

I wish that all children had parents that wanted them.  I want for the world to have children that are born knowing that their parents care for them and love them furiously and without regret (and supportive family and friends who feel the same).  I want them to have parents that desire the very best for their kids.

Children know.  They know the difference when it's missing and they feel the negative emotions of the world around them when projected onto them.

So please, world, love your children.  All of them.  They will be rock stars and presidents  and astronauts and teachers and science geeks and artists and good humans to one another if you teach them to be loving and caring people by giving them that loving example.

Saw this video.  Whether you choose to embrace or ignore the religious references, I do not care.  It doesn't sway me why this baby is theirs or what purpose they think it has for them.  It's not important for the viewer, really.  What is so incredible and beautiful and important to me is the absolute joy and love that they demonstrate in their joint preparation for having a baby in their lives.  That child will be loved.  This is the type of love I hope for all children to have.

Save the shoes...

Every day, every moment, you have a chance to do something that will make the world better.

Don't wait to be the big action hero.  
You might never get the chance.  
Be the hero of a million little moments.

"Save the Shoes"

A TOTALLY different perspective

Wow...just wow.  Read this article.  Please do it without judgement of the choices and decisions of the writer, as I hope you would do for any of my posts.  See the point and not what you are unfamiliar with.  I know some are turned away from a post because of it's religious affiliation, racial affiliation, sexual affiliation. Obviously, I am not.  I am amazed by all people.  You all fascinate me.

This article blew my mind.  It's about everything.  Everything.  I'm sincerely trying to process it still because I imagine that the author is stricken himself at the change of perspective demonstrated in this article.  Take the time and energy to read the whole thing and to process it.  Whatever gender, race, religion, sexuality, etc etc you are...there's something in it for you.

The Glass Harp...WOW

Have you ever heard of someone "playing" glasses?  Me too...I'd seen it on a small scale, but this is a whole different LEVEL of amazing.  Watching or closing your eyes and just listening is a joy.

True Blue NYPD

While I know there is reason to be skeptical of cops on occasion, especially when it comes to minorities in NY and the Stop & Frisks over the past few years, it brings me great joy when I see articles like this one, found in a London news source, about an NYPD cop who saw a homeless man in need and felt it his duty to take care of him...offering the sweatshirt he was wearing to keep the man warm in freezing temperatures.

This is humanity.  This is not giving away your money or someone stealing from you.  This is a man that, for whatever reason, is not as fortunate as you, who is not even asking for your help, but who desperately needs it to survive in harsh winter weather.

Thank you officer, for taking your job seriously both as a policeman and as a person: 
Protecting those in need.

When the king serves the servants...

I think the sign of a true leader is when he or she helps the people that are supposedly being lead.  This is an exemplar leader.  One who shows how to act instead of simply preaching it.

Came across a quick post from the JordanTimes with this picture of King Abdullah of Jordan, helping some citizens with their car stuck in snow.  True leadership.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The "Fill"Harmonic Orchestra

When adults care for their children and communities, they utilize all of their resources.

When children are involved in music, teams, or other positives group activities, they demonstrate feelings of self-worth, self-respect, and hope.

When adults use their resources, whatever they may be, in order to give children hope, the world becomes a better place.  The adults feel better, because they learn new skills and give smiles to the youth.  There is less garbage and more recycling.  There is more positivity.  There is upward momentum in a place that was thrown away and forgotten.  

"La gente se da cuenta de que no tenemos que tirar la basura muy tenemos que desechar a la gente muy facilmente."

"People realize that we shouldn't throw away trash carelessly...well we shouldn't throw away people, either."

A gorgeous story and perfect reminder of so many things:

Utilize your talents and resources.

Don't be wasteful.

Spread hope, not despair.

Music crosses language barriers and lifts our souls.

Thank you for the inspiration!

How can you not be amazed by kids?

Kids learn from their environments and as they get older, the influences really set in.

Kids are incredible.  Ellen had a pair on her show: One, for having the pride and confidence to be himself, and the other for standing up for what is right and for encouraging others to do the same when his friend was being picked on.  New hats and a great experience are coming their way and for all the right reasons!

Thanks for reminding the adults what really matters, boys!

Check out the story on Ellen's site: Young People Making Me Proud

The Heart of Life

Just a reminder.  On your bad days :)

John Mayer - Heart of Life

I hate to see you cry
Lying there in that position
There's things you need to hear
So turn off your tears and listen

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No, it won't all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good

You know it's nothing new
Bad news never had good timing

Then the circle of your friends
Will defend the silver lining
Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No, it won't all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good

Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No, it won't all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good

I know it's good

Scout, the Dog

This was too adorable NOT to share with you.  Pets make the world a better place.  Too many "awwww" moments, that I think you'll enjoy!  Good dog.

An example worth paying attention to...

I little bit Che Guevara and a dash of Robin Hood, add some Pope-ness and a pinch of Jesus, some Confucianism, Buddha-like wisdom and the power of a country, and you might end up with something like 
José Mujica, the President of Uruguay.

From everything I have heard and read this man is the most legitimate "man of the people" in power that exists.  He comes from a guerrilla background (war, it seems, is a common place for people to gain skills that someday propel them into leadership roles), but he is not a fighter for blood or revenge.  President Mujica is a warrior for change on all social fronts.  He is a prime example of actions speaking louder than words as he lives a simple and happy life while leading an entire nation of people.  He is a proponent for less waste in a world of wastefulness, living simply in a world of extravagance, and being true to who you are in a world where many people try so hard to emulate others.  He supports the education of children in his country, where education is free and computers are available for their utilization in the technology-driven world that they are growing up in.

He probably isn't what comes to mind when you think of Latin America, South America, Central America, or even the name "Uruguay."  Why not?  I think he should be.

Want to know more?  Check out this article.  He has some wonderful things to say about changes that can be made and the state of the world.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Twist on "Daddy's List to His Daughter"

There is a list of things that supposedly a dad should say to his daughter (see Original List at : DDaddy)

I think maybe it'd be easier to say some things that my dad has taught me either directly or indirectly, hopefully I got them right.

Here goes:

I'm going to tell you the logical thing, even though I know you're going to go with your heart thing, but it's my job.

I know you're smart enough to know this stuff already, but I'm going to remind you in case you forget.

You're beautiful. You're perfect.  You don't need to change for anyone or anything.

You don't have to be like everyone else.  You shine the way you are.

You don't have to be a girly girl or a tom-boy.  You can avoid the labels altogether and just do what you love and forget about the rest.

You stand with a fist when you're angry.

Stand up for yourself.

Not everyone is going to agree with you.

Do the right thing, even when other people don't.  Just because lots of people do something, doesn't make it the right thing to do.  Know the difference.

Don't burn bridges.  Take the high road.

You're a princess and you deserve to be treated that way by any man in your life.

You're sensitive, and that's ok.  But you can't let that overtake you in front of the public eye.  You have to maintain your composure to accomplish your goals.

Think before you speak.  Then think some more.

Look twice.  It's probably right in front of your face.

I loved your mother because she wasn't like the other girls.  She loved sports and she was athletic and she didn't do what everyone else did.

I don't want you to get hurt by anything: Not your bad decisions, not your bad relationships, not anything.  I will warn you about everything to try to help you avoid the dangers, and even when you don't do what I think is best, I'll love you anyway.

When it comes to jobs, you have to network, you have to start at the bottom and work your way up, and you have to remember you're not going to meet with the CEO...the first line of defense will always be the secretary.  So be nice to everyone.

You have a brain.  Use it.

You can do anything if you love it and you are willing to work for it.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I've probably made all of the mistakes, already.  If you ever need to talk about how bad yours are, I can tell you a story about it.

Taking care of your car is my way of trying to take care of you and tell you how much I love you, even though I don't tell you that.

You need to think like a business in order to understand that business.

Drive a stick shift.  (It will keep me from worrying that your friends are driving the car).

Call me, any time of day or night, no questions asked.  If you ever need a ride or help or whatever.  I will take care of it and I will not ask unless you want to talk about it.

You are a feeler.  Just remember, not everyone feels the same way that you do.  Not everyone will understand you.

You can't take words back.  They stick with people forever.  Make sure you choose yours wisely.

I'm your biggest fan.  You're my little girl.

Value the power and beauty of a sunset.

You'll always have a valentine. <3

There are countless more that I might add as they come, but I thought it was worth a start seeing as how my parents have gotten me where I am today in a lot of ways.  Everyone has people that they look to in times of need or trouble or worry or important changes.  Whether they are your parents or your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, psychologists, spouses, siblings, dogs, cats, zebras, geckos, invisible friends...I hope they tell you good things.  I hope they build you up instead of bringing you down.  I hope they empower you and teach you and help you to grow.

If not, I hope you can find the strength to look for strong examples and good people that will do a better job.  In the meantime, here's my dad's advice.  Take it.  It's from me to you from someone really important and wise and awesome.