When you realize that you’re worth fighting for yourself

If you ever were to ask me where a lot of my inspiration comes from, I’d tell you that it’s quite often from little kids.

They’re such geniuses and probably don’t even know it.

I was in Texas over the weekend for a visit with family and some friends I haven’t been able to see in a while. Much of my time was spent with my nieces—those two little girls have captured my heart more than I thought anyone ever could.

Olivia was excited to show off her food.

I babysat Olivia and Evie on Saturday night so that my brother and sister-in-law could have a nice date night out together. The girls and I watched football (we won’t discuss the outcome of the Cowboys game right now—it’s still too soon), and after Olivia saw me eating Wheat Thins with my dinner, she later grabbed the box and ate them while we were watching the game. I’ve clearly taught her well. Prior to the disaster that occurred at LA Memorial Coliseum that night, Olivia (who is almost 2 1/2) was playing with everything in site while Evie (a little more than 8 months) sat and watched in glee and occasionally attempted to crawl toward something—she’s SOOOO close to crawling!

At one point, Olivia was standing on the fireplace ledge and then squatted down. I’ve always told her to be careful whenever she gets up there (it’s not high from the ground at all, but she’s also still a tiny human), but that night, she looked over at me and said “I be careful. No get hurt. Dangerous.” It was as precious as you might imagine, and I told her that she was right.

Besties for life

The next morning, I was over at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house again, and Olivia showed off her new talent (that I wasn’t expecting) of jumping off of the couch into my arms. Unlike the night before, there was zero hesitation—she got up on that couch and went for it, regardless of whether or not I was ready for her. I think she knew I would catch her, no matter what, so there was no fear there. There was security and comfort, which helped to increase her level of confidence. On Saturday night, though, she didn’t have me right there in front of her, and she knew what might happen if she tried to jump on her own.

If I were standing on that ledge, of course I would jump. Yes, it would probably technically be more of simply a step off, but still—there wouldn’t be any holding back or worrying about getting hurt. I’m confident that nothing would be likely to happen.

I started thinking about that while I was on my flight home Sunday afternoon and realized that those childlike tendencies don’t necessarily leave us when we become adults. We still seem to be able to jump when we know that there’s complete security, but we’re a lot more hesitant when we’re unsure of the outcomes ahead.

If I’m being perfectly honest, though, that’s not how I always want to live. Sure, there are certainly times when you shouldn’t just jump at something without thinking or considering the consequences and potential outcomes, but there are many times when it’s better (even if it is incredibly scary) to take chances and step into the unknown. For me, when I have those strong tuggings at my heart that are pushing me to do something that frightens the Capri Sun out of me—especially when I’m being taken out of my comfort zone—I try to remind myself that I’m not actually jumping off of a fireplace ledge onto the hardwood floor like a 2-year-old.

Because I do have Someone there who will catch me.

That doesn’t mean that every chance I take is going to end like I want it to end. I’ve had plenty of failures and broken hearts to remind me of that. But it does mean that, even when those setbacks and heartaches happen after making a risky jump, I know that I’m still going to be OK. Those things can’t defeat me, and I don’t need to let them try. My God is a lot stronger than that.

This girl has been through it all with me.

During middle school, high school, college, and even some of my 20s, I was the girl standing on the fireplace ledge who was afraid to jump. Unlike in Olivia’s case, though, there wasn’t any real physical danger for me—it was simply the risk of getting my heart hurt. I think my fear stemmed from the fact that a broken heart, for me, hurts far worse than any physical pain I could ever face (and I’ve endured quite a bit of physical pain). You know what, though? I’ve survived each heartache I’ve had, and I truly believe that I’m stronger because of it. I think that the trials we face in life have ways of building us and growing us in ways we might never have thought possible. We’re usually not grateful for them while we’re going through them, but hopefully we can look back at those times and know that they were part of our journeys—part of the paths we needed to take to get us to where we are today and help us to become the individuals we have become.

I hated the color of my rental car. Naturally, my dad wanted to take my pic in front of it.

I don’t know where you are in your life today. Maybe you’re standing on that fireplace ledge with more reservations than you can count. Or maybe you’re on that sofa and about to take a leap of faith. I’m rooting for it to be the latter, because I’m rooting for you.

You’re worth taking chances and doing the things that might make you a little queasy. You’re worth letting your heart feel deeply and love intentionally. You’re worth pursuing the passions that set your heart into motion. You’re worth running full force ahead toward your dreams. You’re worth the investment of time and energy. You’re worth being loved.

And you’re worth fighting for yourself.

Make journeys, and take chances

Sometimes you go on journeys you never knew you’d be taking.

And sometimes those journeys involve more than 20 hours of driving across the country.

As I recently mentioned, I got a job in California, and I officially made the move out here over the weekend (and I’m on my first day of that new job today). I knew the trip was going to take a little less than 21 hours to complete, but I didn’t want to break up the drive evenly—it seemed a lot more daunting—so I decided driving a little more than 15 hours on the first day and then a little more than five on the second would be better (which is weird because I hate numbers in increments of five). I don’t think I’d ever been in a car for 15 hours at a time, but it seemed very doable.

Please take note: Spending 15+ hours in a car is A VERY LONG TIME, so please make sure that fully sinks in before you start the trip. However, it is indeed doable.

Thankfully, my sister made the trek with me. I honestly don’t know how I would have survived it without her without going completely insane. Sure, she slept some in the passenger seat (she was awake most of the time), but she also drove for a couple of hours to give me some rest, which was very helpful—after all, how else was I going to catch up on my Instagram feed?

You know, the important things.

The trip started EARLY Friday morning. I woke up at 3:51 to get in a very short run because I can’t roll straight out of bed and get behind the wheel for hours upon end. I need something to wake me up, and running is the best option for that. I picked my sister up right around 5 a.m., and we were officially on our way.

We were just really excited to be in Van Horn, Texas, home of space tourism company Blue Origin.

It took a fairly long time to get out of Texas (it’s frickin’ huge), and we only got pulled over once (THANK YOU, state trooper, for letting us drive away with only a warning). After we parted from Texas, even though we drove through lots of desert stretches, it was an incredibly scenic drive. Plus, we had some really solid playlists to keep us going—special thanks to Taylor Swift (obvi), Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Matt Wertz and all of those old school 90s pop artists on Spotify). I feel bad for all of the people who have to make long drives without my sister along for the ride—they’re missing out. (As a side note, she is not available to be a passenger upon request, so please do not inquire.)

We were pretty drained and hangry (hanger is so real) by the time we reached Phoenix, which was our stopping point for the first day. We ate dinner with a friend who lives there and then went straight back to the hotel and crashed. I mean, it did feel like it was two hours later than what it really was in the new time zone, so the rather early bedtime didn’t seem early at all.

It was somewhat of another early morning the next day that included a run through downtown Phoenix and a homeless man shouting across the street to me, “You don’t have to run, but I’m too old to chase you!” Thanks for the info, bud. We were on the road again by 6 a.m., and it felt really good when we finally reached our destination. My hips and pretty much the entire rest of my body were so sore, and I felt like I definitely wasn’t walking like a normal human—maybe more like a newborn calf. I’m not sure. I couldn’t see myself, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the calf thing, but I’ve heard and can imagine that it looks very awkward. Regardless, it was nice to be out of the car.

We didn’t mind the view.

After the cable and Internet were set up, and most of my stuff was unpacked, my sister and I went on a walk on a trail she found, and we sat and overlooked a gorgeous view of the bay. I could have sat there for much longer, but we had to walk to get a few things at the store and then head back to my new apartment to wait for the mattress guy to deliver my new bed. I only brought what would fit in my car, and that was mostly clothes, so I needed a place to sleep. There had been a slight snafu of the truck with my mattress on it breaking down, but thankfully, the manager who helped me over the phone a little more than a week ago drove to a different store where the truck was towed, picked up my mattress, and delivered it to me later that evening.

He came just in time—my sister and I were reaching points of hanger again.

After dinner, we made trips to Bed Bath & Beyond and Target to get some essentials and then headed home for the night. We were both pretty wiped. It definitely wasn’t difficult to fall asleep that night.

I’m not going to lie: It was tough dropping my sister off at the airport the next morning. I know that distance can never break my bond of sisterhood with her, but watching her walk through those glass doors was when it hit me that this is real—I’m officially out here on my own now. I know God called me out here for whatever reason, and I trust what He’s doing, but it’s also not easy to leave behind everything you’ve ever known and be so far away from people who mean the most to you.

I’m definitely excited for what’s ahead, and I know that the many prayers and miles and countless trips of carrying clothes to and from my car and the long goodbye hugs are worth it all. I guess sometimes you really do have to go through some tough times to get to where you need to be—whether those tough times include heartache, sadness, goodbyes, tears, fears, stress, or whatever it is you face along the way. Those hardships are worth enduring and help you become stronger than you ever knew you could be.

And that strength can help you realize that some chances—on love or people or jobs or personal fears you’re overcoming or moving to new places or trying things that might scare you or a number of other situations—are absolutely worth taking.

Because some plans are better unplanned

It can be scary to take a chance and do something that takes you away from what’s comfortable.

But sometimes you have to ignore “logic” when you’re learning to trust.

One summer when I was a kid, my parents for some reason thought it was a good idea to forgo the beach and instead go to the mountains to go hiking. I’m sure their intentions were good in encouraging family bonding time through physical fitness rather than playing in the ocean and lying on the sand all day, but I still question this decision. I can’t think of a current situation that would make me choose mountains over beach. Ever. But there we were, the Merrill 5, hiking to the top of a mountain and bribing my sister with Twizzlers along the way to keep her motivated.

One thing I remember most about the trip is having no idea where we were, where exactly we were going or how long it would take us to get there. I’m certain we asked my dad way too many times how close we were to the top, but we never really knew for sure. We just had to trust my dad that he knew what he was doing and where he was leading us.

And sometimes that’s just how life goes.

As I mentioned previously, I left my role as a teacher after seven years. I knew the direction I wanted to go, but I honestly had no idea what it was going to look like. I had lots of people asking me what my plan was and reminding me that I needed to be active in my new career quest. I didn’t have a plan, though. I had applied many different places and was constantly looking for opportunities that I figured would be good fits for me, but sometimes it felt pretty useless. People were looking for years of corporate experience, and I had been in a classroom for seven years—they weren’t exactly jumping at me upon seeing my resume.

Oddly enough, though, I wasn’t super concerned. I mean, I knew how essential it was that I get a job, but I was trying not to enter into panic mode. I knew God had called me elsewhere for a reason, and now was a time I needed to trust Him completely in whatever He had planned. It was kind of like the hiking trip with my family: you just have to continue on the path you’re being led without always knowing what the destination looks like.

And now I know.

This is my corporate look

Last Wednesday was my first day in my new career, and I can say with confidence that this was all part of the plan that I didn’t make or even have to know about fully. I went through a couple of phone interviews, a writing test and then an in-person four-hour interview process with six different people at the company. I left that day of the interview feeling a sense of peace, knowing that, regardless of whether or not I got the job, I had done everything I could. I had left my normal beach setting for something that was going to be more of a mountain, and I had hiked the path I was given. (Thankfully, I ended up getting the job.)

I know there are often advantages to having structure and organization and a set plan, but there are also times when those things are simply not necessary, and you just have to take a leap of faith without knowing where you will land. I know if God calls you to something that He will provide for you, but it’s so much easier just to say that than actually live in that hope. But, when you do, there is a genuine peace that kicks those doubts and anxieties to the curb. Maybe that’s why little kids seem to have so much fun in life—they hold their parents’ hands and find joy in the smallest things. They never know what’s next, but they don’t really care. They’re simply trusting they will be taken care of.

Life won’t always be the comforts of your feet in the sand and the serene sound of crashing waves on the shore. There will be mountains, and you might have to walk up them—with or without Twizzlers dangling before you. But it’s good for you and could be exactly what you need to do.

After all (and I am unashamedly quoting Hannah Montana right now), it’s all about the climb.

You can actually learn from books

I think some of the most important things we learn in life are during childhood.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss.

One day last week, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, so I decided to go to Barnes & Noble. You see, when I was in college, I would often go pick up a book from the children’s section whenever I didn’t want to think about all of the tests I had or money I owed or whatever else was weighing on my shoulders. I would escape into the stories I heard a hundred times as a kid, because it would also help me escape to a time when I didn’t worry about things so much. Life was more carefree.

I think we could actually learn a lot from kids.

Last week when I returned to this tactic, I picked up Green Eggs and Ham, because I remember how my mom used to read it to my sister and me when we were little and how she would always remind me of this story when I didn’t want to eat certain foods (I’m kind of a picky eater). After I finished reading–it goes by so much faster when you’re not a little kid listening to your mom–I sat there and thought about it for a while. Do I give green eggs and ham a chance?

Now, no, you should not feel like you have to give into the peer pressure of the Sam-I-Am people in your life, but you shouldn’t always have the closed-off mindset of the stubborn guy who at first refuses to try the new dish. Every once in a while, it’s good to try something new.

Especially when it scares the crap out of you.

As I sat in the bookstore, two moments of my life popped into my head. The first was actually a collection of moments and occurred when I was in college at Texas A&M. For some reason, I refused to say the word “howdy.” Ever. If you aren’t familiar with the tradition, it’s just a thing almost every Aggie says, and I couldn’t do it. In fact, I called it the “H-word” and wouldn’t even say it when referring to others saying it. People would pass me, say “Howdy” to me, and I would simply reply with “Hi,” “Hello,” or “How’s it going?” Maybe if I had let myself say the word–even just once–I would have felt more immersed in the culture, stayed at that school, and actually enjoyed my college experience. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything. But I will never know, because I didn’t try something new. I insisted on being stubborn rather than bold.

Go for it

The second instance happened Saturday when I was reading by my pool. It’s technically “fall” (whatever that means), so the pool water temperature is actually really cold right now, but this particular day was warm enough to be poolside with a book. I was brave enough to put my feet in the pool (barely), but that was it. I vowed not to think about doing anything too crazy.

Until I thought about it.

It was getting really hot, and I actually hate sitting outside in the heat by a pool and not being in the water. But I don’t get in cold pools. I just don’t. I hate the cold–and I mean every letter of the word hate. But I thought back to Green Eggs and Ham, and I suddenly wanted to jump in the pool. So I did. (Well, sort of. I am shallow and didn’t want to get my hair wet, so I half-jumped, half-slid in there. Whatever. It counts.) I didn’t actually accomplish anything in this feat, except that I did–I did something I’ve always been afraid to do. And it felt pretty good, minus the numbness running through my body.

There are times when it’s fine to have your mind completely made up about something and not budge one bit. But then there are those moments when you have the chance to do something bold–something fearless–and give yourself an opportunity you may have never had if you had held back. Don’t let those pass you by. Jump in the cold water while saying, “And I will eat them in the rain!” (Or whatever your version of eating green eggs and ham looks like for you.)

Don’t be afraid to take advice from Dr. Seuss–he did pretty well for himself.