Category Archives: babies and bugs

about babies or bugs or both

A quick trip to the pumpkin patch and other stories…


Well, hellooooo! It’s been a while!  A long while! But I get to write again some now, and that’s exciting. I hope everyone has been well. I’ve missed you guys! School is in full swing, but hopefully I’ll get to write more often now.

Today we stopped by a pumpkin patch. Jack had fun, but all of the pumpkins that weren’t insanely ginormous had already started to go bad, so we ended up not getting one. Well, Jack got a baby one that he was very excited about. It didn’t seem to matter to him, so we are going to paint that and try to find one to carve elsewhere.

Over the past few months as life has been changing in very extreme ways both very positive and very negative, it’s been a frustrating and exciting quest towards the future. The thing that I realized the most was that life really is hard. When you don’t know how to make a way for your family to survive, it’s hard. When you can’t see past your bills, it’s hard. When you can’t find things that make you happy, it’s hard. When you look around and it seems everyone has someone but you, it’s hard. Life is hard. The things that we are trying to accomplish in our lives, even the simple things can be hard. And when I was watching one of my favorite movies, “A League of Their Own,” I heard one of my favorite lines, and it goes like this: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” It’s hard. Life is, but it’s also great. Every day we have new chances, new opportunities. We have the chance to do something that makes us feel a little more like the person we want to be. And sometimes that involves just getting through the day. But we can work to make sure that we build something into our time, into our days to be able to say to ourselves each night, I am a little closer than I was when I woke up. And as time goes forward, we will have become the person we want to become, and we will be doing the things we want to be doing, because we took the time when it was hard to make sure that the hard was worthwhile.

(As a little side-note, I LOVE this movie. LOVE it. It’s one of the first movies that ever made me cry. That’s weird, I know. And I cried because at 10 I realized that my time playing softball was limited. I would graduate high school and I wouldn’t get to play anymore. And I really loved softball, and sports in general. One of the things I miss most about being young is that comradery that accompanies a group of people with the main goal of working together, getting better and building each other up in order to achieve something great. We wanted to win and we were willing to fight, even when it was hard. In fact, we cheered each other on to work even harder when it was hard, because we wanted to win. We wanted to succeed. And I think if we continued that type of thinking and working together into adulthood the world would be a much better place. And hopefully, even though it’s been a while, hopefully when you come to this site, it’s a place where we build each other up, and inspire one another on our journeys, especially when it’s hard.)

(And as a final side-note for the night, my goal is to get up early with Jack tomorrow and exercise, because I am still using him as an excuse not to, so instead since he’s interested in running and yoga, I’m going to try to do those with him. Because, in all seriousness, I should not be this out of shape.  So, I’m going to start the week off on the right foot, by exercising, cooking something healthy, and writing! I’m in a better mood just having written this! Happy start to the week everyone!!! )

A bit of good news I hope!!

The kindle version of my book is now just $.99! (it started at midnight, I am excessively uncomfortable with self-promotion!) Which is very exciting!! One of the reasons I opted to make a kindle version was to keep prices low. I think that we all have to pay attention to how and what we spend our money on, so I’m really excited that I get the chance to do this!

So, if you are interested in changing your life, following your dreams, understanding your relationships, sharing the difficulties of parenting, feeling inspired, motivated, encouraged, and understanding why you really are worthy of all of the wonderful things life has to offer and learning how to achieve them, it truly is a dollar extremely well spent. It’s a short read (it is 260 pages, but it feels so much faster, honestly!) It’s written in the same format as my blog. It’s like we sat down in my living room to have a conversation about everything worthwhile that I’ve learned in my years studying psychology and in my personal life. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (except those of you who are manly enough to hold it in, but you’ll want to), It’s a chance worth taking, and it costs next to nothing. Give it to someone as a gift. You don’t need a kindle to read it. So please share it with everyone you know. It’s time and a tiny bit of money well spent.

Between Fear and Love – Kindle

And I want to thank all of you for creating such a wonderful and supportive community here. It really is impressive, this blogging community. Thanks for letting me in, encouraging me, and helping me accomplish my dreams. I hope I help you all do the same!

I also want to thank the following people for nominating me for awards this past week. I appreciate the thought. It means a lot, because I really want people to enjoy this blog and to feel inspired when they read it. So thank you. Check them out:

Invisible Effort: The greatest talent of all! (for all the dreamers out there)


It’s frustrating when you have “nothing to show” for what you do. People fail to see the effort you are putting in, because there is no immediate pay off for doing the work you are trying to do. Sometimes it seems like no one understand just how much you are doing to try to make your work a success.

It’s akin to being a stay-at-home parent. People assume you do nothing all day and that it’s easy when in reality you spend the entire day never having a break, constantly alert to the needs of someone else, trying to remember everything you need to get done, whilst having a helper or two who aren’t necessarily helpful, but at least in between major meltdowns, accidents, and spills they are trying.

It’s hard not to get overwhelmed and frustrated and snap. Or to become isolated because it really feels like no one gets it. No one sees the effort. They only see the outcome. And sometimes that takes a while. It can make you feel underappreciated and negative in general, BUT there is good news!

When all of this happens take a step back and remember, the people who take the chance to follow their dreams are few and far between. Most people won’t know. Most people won’t get it. Most people won’t see what you see. That just means you’re on the right track. So don’t lose heart. Don’t lost faith. Don’t give up.

Unacknowledged effort is often a key ingredient in achieving one’s dreams. So you’re invisible effort is really just your greatest talent of all!

Part 2 of forgiveness continued from yesterday

And I think with each realization, I began to release that fear a little bit more, and a little bit more. I tried it again the next day and the next. Until I finally felt like I was able to really let go of all of the angst that I felt about school and the way things happened when I was younger. I decided it was time to try something bigger.

Figuring out a way to forgive someone who I didn’t know, as my uncle’s murder case had gone on unsolved, was a very hard thing to do. I didn’t know his face or his name. I just knew that in a matter of seconds he sent more fear through me than anyone I had ever met. He took away the most precious gift we have. He was callous and cruel. And forgiving that seemed an impossibility and probably not a necessity. But somewhere in me, I knew that I had to find a way to stop letting fear rule over me.

I honestly don’t know that I have completely let go today, although I feel that I have. I’m fairly sure that since forgiveness like most things is probably a continuous process the fear will reemerge from time to time. But what I was able to do by saying that I was letting go of all of the hurt and fear that you’ve caused me over my life was to take back control of who I wanted to be. I was no longer going to be scared with so much of me stuck in place by the actions of that person. I wasn’t saying what happened was okay. It was not. It was and will always be a horrific, unnecessary act. But letting that act interfere in my life by continuing to worry, hate, and fear was no longer going to happen. My uncle was not living in fear and hate anymore. He is no longer bound by such human emotions. He simply exists in love, and to honor him, I should try my best to, as well.

Maybe it’s easier not knowing who to blame. But there was a time when I would look at everyone and think, “It could have been you.” Or I would refuse to look at anyone, because I was completely unwilling to let anyone in at all. To be in the place I am at now, where I’m no longer afraid to live and look people in the eye is amazing to me, because sometimes I was worried I’d never get here. The place I am at would have never been possible without the option of forgiveness. Forgiveness gave me the means to take my life back. It was able to help me restore my joy and my ability to love. It has truly made all of the difference in the world.

Even when I do have moments where I go back and I feel like I did back then, they are fleeting. I know they won’t last even when I’m experiencing them. That is the most wonderful change of all I think. Living in happiness, feeling worthy of what I have is something I hope I never trade in for fear again.

As for the boy I loved, I forgave him initially a long time ago. Maybe it sounds pretentious and maybe sometimes it didn’t seem true, but the day I asked for the rainbow, I had also asked for forgiveness. I wanted it for me and for him. And my experiences with him are the most prominent reminder I have that those moments of unforgiveness do reoccur, but I always have the capacity to utilize my self-control and refuse to allow any of the things either one of us have done in the past to keep me down.

At my very core, I wish him the best. I want him to believe in himself and to experience all of the wonderful things there are to experience here. And although for a time it felt like it was necessary for me to be there and see those things through with him, I did finally get to a point where it doesn’t matter if I ever know. I don’t want those things because I want to be with him. I want those things because I refuse to be angry and upset with him. That only stifles us both. I want them because he’s worthy of feeling this joy and chasing his dreams, too. With forgiveness I can choose love over fear.

When it comes to forgiving myself, it really is a challenge sometimes. What we have when working internally is the insight that we knew better ahead of time. When I made choices that were not consistent with the things I wanted in my life, it was always hard to feel like I should be forgiven for those choices. But when it came to forgiving myself for putting Jack in the position he is in, that was the hardest thing for me to do. We label someone a liar after only one lie, but how many truths must a person tell to be labeled honest. The negative is just so easy to hold on to.

Sometimes I still go back and note that I really did know ahead of time that I could do things differently. I didn’t have to listen to what the people around me were saying. I didn’t have to listen to what his father was saying. I had the chance to say no. And I didn’t. I gave in. I let go. And I hurt the person whose life I was responsible for. I cried many, many times trying to think of how it could even be conceivable to forgive myself for that. I wasn’t asking Jack to. I knew that was far too much to ask of him. But I also realized that keeping that guilt and holding onto that self-contempt was unhealthy for both of us. We both needed me to be the mom he deserved, and the only way to do that was to choose to let go of that pain.

I had to forgive myself, because holding onto something I couldn’t change was irrational and detrimental to our progress. I was determined to love him. I was determined to be the best mother I could for him. And to do that I had to choose to forgive. Sometimes I do still get a little overwhelmed, but I know how to bring myself back to where I need to be for us both. Back to forgiveness. Back to self-worth.

I promise not to publish such long posts again. But I had a lot of people asking me about forgiveness and if they thought it was real, or if it could truly happen, and I felt it would be good to just go ahead and post the chapter, because it does matter. It does happen. It is real. And it makes all the difference.

Day 22 – Looking for inspiration in the haze


Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”  – Louisa May Alcott

This week while I was sitting with my son, who has been sick (we actually leave for a doctor’s appointment soon), I was looking out of the window and it looked like the trees in the yard were glowing. It was really beautiful. And Jack thought it looked like magic. He was genuinely excited about it. I really appreciated how enthusiastic he was. He tends to be that way in general. He’s enthusiastic and encouraging. He makes it a point to enjoy whatever he is doing. He’s really one of the happiest people I know, and I am so happy about that. His enthusiasm reminded me of just how important it is to allow ourselves to be inspired.

While looking at the trees, I was reminded of some that I used to see in the mornings on the way to school when I was in college. It was a mixture of cherry blossoms and some trees I didn’t recognize. But when the light would hit them, they would glow. And it always put me in a better mood. When we let things in and we let them inspire us, even the smallest things like the glowing leaves, it has the capacity to shift our moods. We start focusing on that feeling of inspiration of happiness, and the other frustrations, like that of getting up and going to class!

Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of just how much the little things (or the way we perceive them) in life do affect us. Those things that we take in or that we disregard are the little triggers for our mood. They have the ability make us smile or leave us anxious or upset. We take in so much information a day. It’s coming at us in every form and from every direction. What is it that we choose to focus on and why? When we start looking at the things we do, even down to the smallest things, like what we opt to filter out, we get to a point where we can ask the pivotal question of why? Why do we ignore some things and not others? Why do we focus on some things as opposed to others? Part of the answer is that we have to. We have to focus in one direction and not another. We can’t absorb everything. We would overload. We would have no course of action, because we’d simply spend all of our time trying to sort out what we are taking in with each step. This means that our steps are directed, and they are somewhat directed by the things we’ve chosen to take in. The things we choose to acknowledge. And that means the path that we are going down is dependent upon what we have chosen to give our attention to. When we give our attention to boredom or frustration that’s where our path leads. Yet, if we take the time to shift our attention just briefly and look for something inspiring and let it in, no matter how small, we’ve shifted our path. And even the slightest shifts can make a big difference. Especially if we opt to repeat them. We can change our course if we don’t like what we see doing the tiniest of things, just like this. And when I get into those slumps where things are just overwhelmed and frustrating and I find those moments where I have the chance to be inspired, I try to take them. Because looking for inspiration allows us to find it. And it can help lead us to a brighter path.

(As a sidenote we are back from the doctor, and they think it’s just a virus, but his temp keeps jumping up. It’s 103.5 right now an hour after Tylenol, so any well wishes are appreciated!!)

As another addendum:

I received the Regeneration Award from

I just wanted to say thank you, and if you like music, you should check out his blog, it’s got a unique theme and it’s an interesting read.

And I wanted to say that I nominated for the award also, because she, too, has a very compelling blog and life’s journey that she shares.

As for the questions asked:

Who are you? I’m Lauren…

Are you happy? Yes, I am!

If you could change just one thing about yourself, right now, to make your life better, what would it be? I just want to keep growing and becoming the person I want to be.

Who, or what, inspires you? This is an ironic question considering my topic for today… so the things I mentioned in the blog and outside of my family and friends I would pick music. Music in general inspires me. I love music. It makes me happy.

So thanks again! 🙂

Day 17 – Finding the big picture


Today I went to an art exhibit at the library by my old house. It’s the house I grew up in, and my favorite one that I’ve lived in. I got the chance to bring my son and my nephew over to see the house. We didn’t go inside… the house is currently in the middle of a decision between saving it or tearing it down. There’s a large crack up the back of the house. The windows are broken in a few places, and the gate is gone. But it still looked like home. Which is interesting.

Going back my siblings and I noted how much smaller things looked. I remember the yard looked so big when I was little and the “hill” seemed much more like a hill as a child rather than the slight incline that it apparently is. Who knew!? I will continue to describe it as a hill when I tell people stories, because it’s a lot more interesting to say that my brother sent me down the hill on the skateboard and luckily I fell off before landing in the road into oncoming traffic, but now I have these ugly scars. My brother sent me down a slight incline does not have the same effect.

But as I was noticing how much smaller and conquerable everything seemed, I realized that this is the case with many, many things. In retrospect our problems that seemed huge and insurmountable in the end were overcome. And looking back, it seems a lot smaller a lot of times. The crushes that I had in school, the people who I had to deal with. The decisions I’ve had to make about careers and college and jobs. At the time everything seems so hard, but when I look back, though I still realize the scenery, it doesn’t seem quite so large.

It’s funny the way things like that work. When the pressure is on, the picture gets deluded. The picture skews because there is so much riding on it. And it’s true that there are certainly decisions that warrant the importance that we place on them. We need to care about the things we spend our time doing. But, we also need to remember that there will be a point in time where we look back and see that the problems we are facing have been conquered. The stress wasn’t quite so necessary. The picture is smaller than it seems. There is an answer, and time will go on. We move. We grow. We learn. And sometimes we get to see the true big picture.

Day 15 – How to live the dream

I normally don’t watch Glee, but I watched part of it tonight. I used to be in choir so I’m a fan of chorale singing, but on the show tonight they went to Nationals. The thing that I like most about these moments in shows… the end of the singing shows, and this one as well, is that someone’s dreams are literally coming true at that moment. There is still tons of work ahead. It may not pan out the way they had hoped, but at that moment in time they have achieved something they’ve only dreamed of achieving. The closest I’ve ever come to this is when I was 14 or 15 and playing softball, and the team I was on won the state games (it used to be known as the junior olympics here). I remember singing along to “We Are the Champions.” I remember that overall feeling of how fantastic it was to finally be at the top, to be the winner, for things to have finally gone right.

Those moments don’t last, but they can certainly be moments to strive for. I was a state champion. That can’t be undone. It’s good to achieve things in our lives. It’s good to dream. Speaking in mental health terms, a mind that has hope and is capable of readily dreaming is more open to opportunities and more likely to actually achieve their dreams. They are more likely to report being happy in their lives, and they believe that life has something to offer. Dreams matter. It’s hard to feel fulfilled if we aren’t trying to do any of the things we really want to do. It doesn’t matter how big or small. If we don’t give ourselves a chance then the battle is already lost. And it affects every area of our lives.

It’s hard not to give up. It’s hard not to give in. It’s hard to figure out what’s really worth fighting for. It’s hard not to believe what other people say. But it’s hard living with yourself when you give up. It’s harder than overcoming. We have to make ends meet. We have to survive. But we have to find ways to do more as well. Time is scarce, and is completely irreversible. We are truly on a one-way track. It’s never too late to try. We have to find ways to make our contribution feel worthwhile to ourselves. We get a new chance with each new day. And every day we have something worthwhile to offer. What dreams do you have?

Day 12 – Being thankful (it really does matter)

One day when I was driving home with my son in the back of my car, he started to cry. I tried music. I tried talking to him. I tried getting out and giving him juice and snacks. I checked to make sure he didn’t need anything else. I tried everything I knew to convince him that it was going to be okay. I gave him everything he could need. As he continued crying we began again with just a few more blocks to our house. I remember sitting at the stop sign and saying to him, “If you could only see, my love, we’re just a few minutes from being there. Just a few more minutes. It’s almost over. You don’t have to worry. Everything will be just as you want it to be soon. ”

In that moment I began to realize just how similar that sweet little baby and I were. I thought to myself:

How many times do I sit there wondering, crying, ‘God why isn’t this happening yet? Why can’t I see what’s going on? Why isn’t it the way I want it to be? What can I do to make things different? I can’t use what I have, I don’t even want this stuff I’ve got. I want something different, something better. Why can’t you just give me what I really want? Why is it like this? Why can’t I see the way out?’ and all the while God is sitting there saying, ‘It’s okay. I’ve given you everything you can possibly need. It’s all right there. Everything is waiting for you to arrive. You’re so close. You don’t have to cry. You don’t have to worry. I promise it’s all right there. If you could only just believe me, it would all be okay. ’” 


I spent so much time worrying about why things weren’t right, that I failed to understand everything that was right with where I was. I didn’t appreciate it. I wasn’t thankful for it. I just threw it aside thinking I didn’t really need it. What’s the use in all of this stuff? I let myself get to a point where I couldn’t see past the hurt, the worry, the fear. It consumed me. And so it consumed everything I did for the most part, as well.

When we got home that day, I turned on Oprah, and there was a woman who had survived the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. As I watched, she talked about all of the things she goes through each day just to get up and going. She had been burned over a large portion of her body. She could no longer hold her children. Up until recently, she couldn’t even open the peanut butter jar to make a sandwich for her children’s lunch. While watching, I realized all of the things that I had to be thankful for.

I can hold my son. I can touch his face. I can hug him. I can pick him up. I can see him smile. I can hear his laughter. I can play with him. I can drive him anywhere he needs to go. I can feel him breathe. I can run and jump with him. I can teach him to play sports. I have so many things to be thankful for, especially when it comes to him. He and my nephews make me smile every day. They fill my heart with joy every day. They let me love them every day, and I feel so honored to be able to do so. And I am so thankful to have the chance, all day every day to try again.

Even when I get things wrong, I have learned to be thankful that I have the chance to try again. And one of the ways I try to show my gratitude is by trying to make the right choice after I’ve made the wrong one. If it is something that can be undone, then I try to undo it. If the chance has passed, then I make sure to try not to make the same mistake again. With gratitude comes the possibility for change. If we recognize that it is possible for us at any moment to show that we are thankful, somehow, some way, we can seize the opportunity instead of allowing it to pass us by.

Day 11 – Cherish the moments, ever-fleeting as they are


“They didn’t have you where I come from. Never knew the best was yet to come. Life began when I saw your face. And I hear your laugh like a serenade.

How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough? Is forever enough? How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough? Cause I’m never never giving you up.” Lullaby, The Dixie Chicks


There are certain songs I can’t listen to, because they make me cry every time. This song happens to be one of them. What I was lucky enough to learn from taking care of my nephews is just how quickly time passes. I remember the days both of my older nephews were born. My mother and I were at the hospital waiting. And from day 1, my heart had a new home. I remember with each passing year when I was in high school and entering into college thinking, “gosh I can’t believe it’s already been a year, two years, etc. “ They will be 13 and 14 this summer. Which is insanity. In just 4 short years I will have a nephew in college and one who is a senior in high school. There is nothing like having a child to teach you just how quickly time flies. And I tell all of my mother-to-be friends that. I feel a little lucky that Jack was born in December, because I get to sneak at least an extra 6 months with him, and I’m smart enough to know that I should take what time I can get.

When the world starts getting to me, including the stress of dealing with a preschooler, I have started to stop and remove myself for however many minutes I can, and I remind myself that all of this is fleeting. All of it is ever-changing. We are constantly moving, and I have to remember what’s important. It’s hard, because being able to pay bills, have food, have a car, childcare for Jack, those are all things that are essential to our survival as well. And sometimes the outlook gets a little bit bleak. It gets difficult to stay strong. It gets difficult not to give up or give in (I’m talking about jobs here, not life). So finding a path for us is extremely important.

But when I get those moments, and I get that chance to just be, and to look at Jack and know how much I love him. How much I care. And how quickly these times are going to pass by, I get a chance to stop and appreciate this time. I don’t appreciate the stress. But I get to stop feeling it for those moments. I’d appreciate the struggle more if I could see the outcome, but one day I will. And I’m okay with that for now. So in this post I’d just like to say, cherish the moments, ever-fleeting as they are that give us the chance to just know love. And I hope that everyone has something or someone that gives them a place of refuge. In the end it comes from within. A place where we know we are in the presence of something good. I know I’m in the presence of something good, because I am in the presence of love, and it is the love that I have to give and share. And I’m so very thankful that it is returned in the way that it is with my son.

Day 10 – When Fear Takes Hold

This morning my son said, “okay mom, I’m going to go by myself and be brave, because like you told me I could be brave.” This made me happy, because even though what he was doing was going in the dark room and turning the light on himself, he’s 3, and he really was scared. It made me happy that he is listening when I tell him he will be okay and he can be brave even though he’s scared. This is partly because I don’t ever remember actually being brave, just wanting to be. Because of that the post today explains how I spent the majority of my youth, and is an indicator of why I truly hope to be able to encourage strength and courage into Jack, especially in ordinary situations. The post is long, and I apologize, because it’s the majority of the chapter from the book.

I remember being a fearful child. I never, and I mean NEVER got into trouble at school, or anywhere else for that matter. I was always shy. I was scared to talk to people, even to make new friends. I was terribly scared of adults, because I thought they knew so much more about life than me. I assumed they’d be far too busy with important things to do than to actually care what I had to say or want to play with me. All of this is ironic, because the things I remember most happily in my childhood had to do with family vacations, games, and movie nights.

Nonetheless, I always felt less-than for some reason. The only times I remember ever not being afraid were those when I was singing, dancing, or writing. I did love to perform and make at least my parents watch. But singing and dancing were some of the only occasions I was willing to let others watch me, as well. And as you can imagine, I’m sure that all of the adults I performed for absolutely loved my renditions of “The Greatest Love of All” and “(Stop!) In the Name of Love.” At least I had good taste in music.

One of the biggest things that scared me as a child was the thought of eternity. I didn’t understand it. At 8, I remember something coming on TV that had this shot of the universe where the show or commercial talked about eternity, and I simply burst into tears in the middle of the den where we were all watching TV. I didn’t understand how anything could last forever or how if something did last forever there was really no beginning. It was something that truly made my brain hurt, and I had no clue how to handle it.

I remember my parents telling me it would be okay. They told me God loved me and because He did everything would be fine. I didn’t have to worry. But I don’t remember ever reconciling any of those feelings. That fear stayed with me. My desire to hang onto my family and my friends in this form was far too strong to allow any willingness to let go. I liked being alive. I knew how to understand a world with limits. It was a world without limits that baffled my mind, and created an uneasiness I couldn’t let go of.

About 3 years later, the most devastating event in my life to that point occurred. One of my family members was murdered. I remember during the period around this time, maybe the week or two before finding out, I could just feel a change in the air. I remember asking my mother if anyone in our family had ever been kidnapped or killed prior to my knowing anything was going on.

She told me no and asked what my brother had been telling me. He was 18 at the time, and I suppose had been informed that my uncle had been reported missing. I guess they decided it was time to tell me, and so they did. I remember seeing the news one evening. On it they showed that a set of remains, mostly bones, had been discovered in the woods a few towns away. At the end of the segment they showed a picture of my uncle and noted that he was still missing. I remember looking at my mother in her chair; we were the only two in the room. She started to cry.

To that point, I couldn’t ever recall seeing her do that. I knew something bad was going on. It didn’t take long for them to confirm the body was his. I remember fear immediately enveloping all of the areas it hadn’t previously.

As with any time there is a death, the fragility of life made its presence well known in my head. However, when the event that takes place is something as careless, as thoughtless, as disgusting, as completely unnecessary as these senseless acts are, the knowledge that the end of our journey may be up to someone else is the most unsettling part.

It does not matter what I do, if someone stands in front of me with a gun, he has a very easy means to stop my heart from beating. If someone is set on stopping me today, in the end, he has the capability to do so. And each person has the means to do so simply by virtue of being here. Every single one of us here has the capacity to do something amazing and something unspeakable. We all live in this paradox of extremes.

I didn’t know how to deal with that, so instead of talking to someone about it or finding some way to get help which can be difficult at 11, I chose to close off. I never went anywhere, or very rarely did. I had very few friends, although part of that can be blamed on the treacherousness that is middle school. I lost a way of understanding how a God that I was told loved me, therefore he’d protect me, wouldn’t protect my family. It seemed cruel. I was scared of life, mostly because I was scared of death. And I was scared of the power that other people had in my life.

When we stand on the edge of that platform looking through that barely veiled line that distinguishes between life and death, the presence of the ultimate extremes – love and fear – reveal themselves. They call out loudly and pull at us by what seems like a tangible force. And the tool that becomes the deciding factor on which side we’re really going to lean toward is self-worth. As I said before, even as a child, I always leaned toward the side of fear.

I don’t know what happened that I stopped believing I could be anything. I don’t know why I stopped believing I was worthy. Maybe it really did have something to do with my inability to comprehend the universe or the God I was praying to. But as I stood there to choose, I chose fear. And from that point forward, fear would lead my life.

Ironically, a good portion of what happens to us is likely due to our self-fulfilling prophecy trait. I wanted to feel bad, and in turn I did. Some of my friends were depressed, and I wanted to be too, so I chose it. I spent a lot of time feeling bad about feeling bad, which just made me feel worse. It’s a spiraling effect. Because, if I know that feeling bad is unnecessary, if I were really a good person, if I were really worthy of anything, then I’d go ahead and do something to change it, right? I was afraid, and I used it perfectly. It manifested itself through everything. I never had boyfriends. I wasn’t a good friend. I stopped trying in school, although I was competitive enough to make sure I did better than my siblings.

Most of the time, I just felt sad because my life wasn’t different. I never considered doing anything to change it. I sat happily in my misery, and never pursued anything that was a stretch. Who wants that disappointment? And I stayed just as I was the day before every single day. I didn’t get into trouble, but I didn’t do much of anything worth doing either. I simply was. And that was all.

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