Trying to express the internal problems

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There has been some talk lately on social media about reaching out to your strong friends because sometimes it’s the ones who seem the strongest who are struggling with things that aren’t spoken. The surprising, high-profile examples of suicide recently have meant a bit more awareness. People who, on the surface, seem happy and comfortable and full of life, but internally are struggling with deep wounds and insecurities that don’t get expressed easily.

I came across a video on Facebook from Mental Health on The Mighty that showed phrases kids said that were code words for “I’m anxious.” These are various ways that kids expressed anxiety and fear using the resources they had at their disposal. I can relate to many of them.

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A year of blogging, a year of growth

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April marks a year of blogging. A year of directed, focused reflection and self-analysis.

The pieces are falling into place. I have a much better sense of who I am, what I have to offer others, my strengths, my abilities, my temperament and all the ways I have reason to be proud of how I’ve grown up, the person I’ve become.

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Peace starts with interior change, not external Band-aids

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More school shootings. More bomb threats. More mass killings. More lives lost. More fear and confusion. An ever increasing sense of wondering “How did we get here?” and “Why is our world so crazy these days?”

There is so much pain, addiction, brokenness, fear, doubt, anger, loneliness, depression, confusion, instability, mental health concerns, anxiety, and countless other problems plaguing our country and the world right now.

We need to see people as people. Treat them as people. As fellow human beings. Welcome them. Embrace them. Love them. Open up communication and dialogue rather than increasing the isolation, rather than pointing fingers and ignoring.

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How to be supportive

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Sometimes people need suggestions for how they can be supportive and help. I know from personal experience how easy it is to get hung up on the idea that you have to say something to show support. You don’t. Not at all. Often times just being fully present and listening is exactly what the other person needs.

 

An unexpected twist

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So exactly two weeks after that NET retreat experience, I went to my job as normal. And my supervisor called me into her office. There, I was joined with our human resources representative.

Very matter of factly, my supervisor explained that today would be my last day. I was being laid off. They had decided to dissolve the “new business” sales team, redirecting everyone else into different positions. There was no need for me.

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Hearing God speak

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Being with the youth group was awesome and challenging. I gave a few talks and eventually lead some small group discussions. The talks were scary and I was certainly nervous the whole time, but I got up there and I did it. A few people made a pointed effort to thank me for sharing, no matter how raw the delivery was.

What I enjoyed most was being part of this community, having the opportunity to be involved in some way. I was learning more about my faith, and seeing it in action meant everything. I really reveled in the teens’ enthusiasm.

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An invitation to help with youth ministry

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I had known this woman for many years. She was my P.E. teacher when I was in grade school and always involved in school activities.

During the summer before I left for California, I had helped in small ways with the youth group. It was something to do and a way to be involved. I enjoyed being with this group, but I didn’t have high hopes that I was actually able to offer more than chaperoning assistance.

Yet when I returned from Los Angeles, the youth minister approached me and invited me to join her team. I know I hesitated, wondering if she was asking the right person. So there was a compromise. She invited me to check out the regular Sunday night program. No strings attached. I could come, see for myself, and join or choose to walk away.

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After Los Angeles: Transitioning back to SC

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By early September 2007, I had finished my year of volunteering in Los Angeles. I still wasn’t sure what to pursue as my next step. I applied to various jobs but nothing panned out.

Part of my growth while in California was being exposed to the world of journalism. I realized I enjoyed that kind of writing, but it was challenging to approach strangers and ask for their feedback. I was a small fish in a big pond; I felt like I was thrashing around trying to make things work. But there was some excitement nonetheless, a bit of a thrill with figuring out how to piece many little parts together into a finished story, even if the interviewing aspect was nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. (If you missed them, you can read the pieces I wrote for my San Francisco assignment and the personal article on my brother becoming a priest.)

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When ‘introvert’ isn’t a complete description


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During the summer of 2007, as I was wrapping up my year in Los Angeles, our little volunteer community took some personality inventories.

I don’t know why we took these assessments at the end of our volunteer experience. Perhaps it was meant to serve as confirmation of behavior and preferences rather than uncover new insight. I walked away with some enlightening information and yet there were still plenty of questions.

I learned I was considered very introverted. Scoring 9 or possibly 10 out of 10.

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A priest in the family

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My brother being ordained to the priesthood in July 2007.

A few weeks before Easter 2007, I was using the photocopier at the newspaper and the editor came by to check his mailbox. We talked for a few minutes, and he again thanked me for a nice job with my piece for the Walk for Life.

He asked if I had plans to visit my family for Easter. Sadly, I told him no. This would be the second year in a row that I wasn’t able to spend this special time with my family. As a senior in college, I had participated on a retreat during Holy Week in Rhode Island.

I forget how the topic of conversation turned to my family in this way, but the editor acknowledged that my brother would be ordained a priest that summer. And he asked if I was interested in writing a piece about that for an upcoming special section on religious vocations, to write about what it’s like, this idea of having a priest in the family.

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