Today, I Was Supposed to Run a Marathon.

Today, I was supposed to run a marathon.

(MB Marathon, 2017. Showing my proof + token of completion. Also, never wear all black for a marathon. Or pin your bib # to the jacket you want to shed 10/26.2 miles in. Also, I hate medals. But I mean, "Everyone's a winner," sooo...;)) 

I had the date, October 21st, marked down. I put in the notice that I would be absent from school, gave the dates to my employer months in advance, so that I could road trip a day early to D.C. to try and conquer 26.2 miles once more. I stuck to a schedule, faithfully endured my weekly long run, pushed through the summer humidity, and even began to PR and progress from where I had started. My boyfriend (Who ran his first marathon in under 3 hours. Yes, he's a superhero.) created a schedule, graciously rode his bike alongside me several times as I trudged through a long run,  and was the most supportive and encouraging, even when I was totally sucking it. For once, I felt proud of myself. I even felt kind of impressible, because amidst school, work, and various other commitments, I was making room for this marathon, gosh darnit! I felt better physically than my last one (which also happened to be my first one), stayed caught up on sleep, and loved the "post long run skinny feeling" from losing water weight, and felt comforted that I could thin down within 2 weeks, just from running. I was ready for the long haul. I was ready to do this. I was ready to prove myself, because my gosh, people really admired my "dedication" to powering through such nitty gritty radness. On September 10th, I ran 18 miles. Only a handful of long runs to go to get to 22 miles for my longest...and I would be there. No matter what, I wasn't going to call it quits. Nope. Not this far in the game.

...And then the inevitable happened - life happened - and little did I know that my hard work, (literal) blood, sweat, and tears, and long miles would come to an end on that very day.

Finances were not calling for a weekend trip to D.C. to run with a $400 charity group. I had a few health scares. School was incredibly demanding, leaving little room for much else. My physical body was burning out, and the same wave of fatigue, depression, and stress began setting in, as it did 6 months prior. I was weak, not consuming enough calories (despite my immense love for peanut butter and rice cakes), exhausted, sleep deprived, and began developing a minor injury. Being a decent, functioning human felt like a chore. I felt enslaved to my own self. Soon, I experienced perhaps the biggest emotional breakdown and panic of my life. Though I tried "gently fighting" my body and the fatigue at first, some brief circumstances were my ultimate, "AG....STOP." 

And so, I did.

Physically, emotionally...there was no way I was going to keep waking up at 4:30AM and drag myself out of bed and onto the pavement, just to reach a number on my watch. It all went from feeling like I was on top of the world, to feeling like sheer torture. Over the span of about 4 weeks, it was like watching a fire that took a hefty amount of time to kindle, suddenly burn out. My endurance faded. In fact, I would probably struggle to run even 10-12 miles at this point. The triangular, distinctive "runner's thigh gap" that formed, started filling back in. I didn't have a weekly long run to feel proud about, or boast about on Facebook, or a marathon to run that I thought would be the weekend of a lifetime. Today, I was supposed to cross the finish line. I was supposed to have loved ones travel alongside me and motivate me through 26.2 miles. I was supposed to take a photo in my tight running clothes, bib #, and PR and hashtag #MarineCorpsMarathon. I was supposed to read a rush of comments and texts complimenting my achievement, and I was supposed to barely be able to take another step, because wow moly - marathons make you a little sore. I was supposed to feel fulfilled and like I accomplished something of greatness - after all, it's what feeds my perfectionist nature the sensation of feeling loved and appreciated. 

But this here little post really isn't about running, or even the marathon. You see, there's a whole lot that is not coming to fruition as I had imagined - goals I wanted to accomplish, sensations I wanted to feel, people and places I longed to see. I am only capable of giving 100% of myself, but I often feel as though I need to up it, to that humanly impossible 110%. Sometimes though? Oh my...sometimes, we humans need to back off. And I'm not just talking about physically exerting yourself. I'm talking about those everyday life kind of things: Creating the Pinterest perfect birthday party for your kid, over scheduling yourself so that you can meet every single person's minute need, feeling the pressure of being the perfect, unflawed mom to your new, wee one, falling prey to the expectations of your mom or dad or friend or teacher and burning yourself out or altering your life just to please them, beginning a diet or exercise regimen or eating method, when really you're stuck feeling like you've just signed a contract with your own body and can't mess up, eating pizza (and dipping it in ranch) after you've just begun said exercise/food regimen and beating yourself up about it or purging it or exercising it off, measuring your self worth in grades, hobbies, career majors, obsessing over your liner and brows and contour being "on fleek" because you fear others seeing the naked skin underneath, working 9-5 and then more and trying to get the raise or promotion or the thrill of "the more, the merrier" cash flow - because men - we women know that you just want to be the good father, husband, boyfriend, and over-working is often jaded for "working hard" or "dedication," and sometimes ya gotta give yourself a break (because yes - you too deserve it). Perhaps as you look at the little slice of time left for October, you feel as though you're drowning in overcommitment, social pressure, unattainable expectations, comparing your life or body or social status or experiences to the Mom or high schooler or Kendall Jenner whose Instagram's bio may as well say, "Hello, my name is _____, and I have my shit together!" when you, in fact, don't have said shit together, and feel like your life is falling a part, burning yourself out, and crawling and struggling to ring that 110% bell. 

(^^Metaphorical AG on burnout; hence bloodshot eyes and consumption of cookie the size of face^^)

No. STOP. I'm serious. Let's stick to giving 100%, ok? Perhaps it's time that you find the marathon in your life - the one leaving you bone tired or depressed or malfunctioning or stressed - and surrender the constant training and burnout over. Maybe it's the workaholic mindset. Maybe it's an actual marathon. Maybe it's feeling like a failure because your straight A flow dropped to a B or a C.  I don't know. It could be anything. Your ego and self esteem will probably hurt at first. When I made myself click the "Send" button to cancel my marathon, it literally felt like I was somehow failing others or letting them down (even though...no one else was even tackling this monster with me???). I wanted to be the superhuman who was capable; the superhuman who could juggle a million tasks, and even accomplish something demanding and difficult in the process. I didn't realize it, but as I (literally) ran myself rampant...I was trying to earn people's affection, approval, and words of affirmation, but through doing something that would be deemed "praiseworthy" (aka a marathon, in my case). I'm a perfectionist who often struggles with feeling okay with being enough - just being the 100%. But the truth is that I couldn't  humanly balance it all. Even amidst the initial red flags, I still tried to push through. And it took quite a slap in the face from life to (almost literally) take my breath away and bring me back down to reality.

Hey; you...

...Give yourself grace. We humans often struggle with this. I'm not talking about this ambiguous "self love" movement spreading all over social media either - but rather...extend yourself some space within your own life, and back away when your fleshly desires begin consuming you. We were not created to be professionals at burnout. We were not created to superhuman. We were not created with 110% defining wholeness. Because of who God is, we have an open invitation to rest in his ever extending grace and peace. It's always there, but sometimes, we must allow our human nature to surrender something over to claim it and feel it. It's sort of like needing to simply adjust your backpack to quickly resolve the dull ache and tension, and yet, you keep wearing it too low, and the tension and dull ache remain and fester (Isn't that the ugliest word?).

And so, to open the floor for you too to ponder what you might surrender, what you might reprioritize, perhaps consider what has been silently consuming you - I'll tell you some of my goals, because as I write this, I still struggle with my perfectionist, 110%, "run the marathon" nature that's been draining me for quite a while now:

i. Start breaking my "vegan" based lifestyle. 

I literally found a book called, "Breaking Vegan," that I'm going to buy. No; I'm totally serious. Kind of ridiculous, right? After almost 4 years, I've realized the most I've gotten from it is a sense of control, and feeling like an utter failure if I don't "eat perfectly",  or feel a sense of guilt when I splurge and have something with (Heaven forbid) an "imperfect", "unethical", "animal product infested" ingredient in it. While I still super love a lot of the health benefits/really do feel better without animal protein as my staple...the vegan community (yeah; YOU GUYS!) and pressure to eat perfectly (which collides horrifically with my already "perfectionist" nature) and my tendency to cling to the same safety net of certain foods can just get downright overwhelming and stressful, as petty as it sounds. Vegan obsessed blogs, YouTube channels, and Instas don't help much either. It's like this, "If you don't eat perfectly, or even dare look at a product with a trace of an animal product, PETA is going to hunt you down and lock you in prison with a bunch of Paleo Crossfitters!" kind of mindset. In all seriousness though - it's baffling how these sites that are supposedly "encouraging" and "helping you to be the best version of yourself," make you feel more like a food obsessed failure, if you screw up the diet or lifestyle. I just want to eat well, feel well, and not resort to living off of the same 5 or 6 foods 24/7. Eating pizza with pineapple and (gasp) bacon on it on the weekend has helped ;). Simply, I want to eat to survive + remain healthy and homeostatic and whatnot. Nothing more.

ii. Allow my face to be bare, and "...Quite frankly, my dear...not give a damn." 

(Bonus points if you got that reference) In September, I allowed it to be bare, but mainly because I was an emotional wreck...oh...almost every day? And so, what the heck is the point in wearing eye makeup, when it's just going to raccoon? A few classmates + my dear boyfriend, however, spoke the simplest words, "You look nice without makeup on," and just those few words gave a sense of freedom that I've felt lacked for years, kinda like how I currently feel with my "part time, vegan diet". So now, I want to just feel okay with my naked face, and only wear makeup when I want to spruce up and feel pretty on occasion. I've been allowing it to go bare, to which people either say, "WOW! No makeup? I like it!" or "Awwh; you look TIRED," or "Are you ok?" And so, I am currently working on the whole "Not giving a damn" part, because I've been fully aware that some people much prefer to see my face with filled in brows, winged liner, and the "hazy glow" that I used to wear all day, every day, no "Ifs, ands, or Buts."

iii. Stop over-scheduling myself and people pleasing. 

Like I mentioned before, I'm a perfectionist with myself. I also am a people pleaser, and crave affirmation to feel better about myself. Busyness also can easily become my drug. And so, I want to balance everything in moderation. I want to work on only committing to things that I know I can attain, and not drowning myself in busyness or always going somewhere, or doing something, just for the sake of running from my feelings and emotions when life gets messy. I want to feel confident when I say, "No," to something, and also stop feeling the pressure to give an entirely long, drawn out explanation. I want to feel peace with who God has created me to be, and to take on life with my career and hobbies and aspirations with him as my Shepherd...not an unfulfilled desire to always rely on fellow humans to be my only source of feeling whole.

Are you holding onto something that psychs you into believing it's a companion, when really it's doing you more harm than good? Does it keep you awake at night? Is it taking a toll on your sanity? And do you feel grounded? Or does your life feel rampant and like you can never do enough of anything, please enough people, or catch a single breath?

So maybe? Maybe there's a metaphorical "marathon" in your life that is controlling you. And maybe it's time to, quite simply (yet not so simply), let something go. Maybe it's time we stick with that 100%. 


Your Fear is Not Your Reality - Fight It.

"Dreams are what you want to happen; goals are what you set to make happen."

Yesterday,  my humble little class and I were pinned as seniors, and at the end of the day, got a homework assignment with what we plan to do after we graduate, and setting actual dates for those goals.

And while it's incredibly exciting to think about finally having a career basis in massage therapy as I build my life as an artist, it also is gut-wrenchingly terrifying to think about suddenly being met with a reality that I want fruition from. I graduate in December. That's only a handful of months away. I've wrestled with a great deal of anxiety and emotional stress these last couple of weeks, but yesterday hit me like a ton of bricks, for some reason. I like to think of myself as a strong, level headed, passionate go getter, but the honest to goodness truth is this:

While I love dreaming, planting seeds for my life, and watching them begin to nourish and grow...setting dates in stone to make actually happen absolutely freaks me out. The steps aren't necessarily pretty to get there. It's not comfortable. It's this metaphorical effect of taking the train alone. Don't get me wrong, the thought of finally, after years of hard work and praying and thinking and failure and trial and error and wondering when it would be my turn to begin fulfilling these things...is absolutely amazing...but it also is exhilaratingly terrifying. If I'm being honest?

Last night, I sat down on my floor, and I ugly cried. I am apprehensive. I am scared. I am afraid of doing something wrong. I don't want to waste my life. There's so much to be done. I fear leaving important people behind, but by that same token, I also fear never taking a chance and risking my comfort and stability for something that could be adventurous, eyeopening, and Spiritually quenching.  The thoughts are daunting. Writing them out literally makes my heart rate escalate, and my hands feel a little clammy. I'm processing what date to set to pack my bags, and open my new chapter in Los Angeles. Do I dare to just rip it quick, like a band aid - away from my home and usual surroundings and jobs I have and people I love - and leap into the unknown as soon as 2017 comes to an end? Would it be too soon? And so, that little voice of fear nags my brain. What if it's a mistake? What if I leave behind people who I'm not meant to leave behind? Friendships? A near and dear relationship? Potential job opportunities and collaborations? What if I am supposed to stay longer? What if I end up lonely? What if I don't find love again? What if I fail? What if I unintentionally hurt others by leaving? And if I just rip the band aid, pack my bags, and don't look back...what if I end up financially unstable? What if I don't find stable roommates, or a roommate at all, or ever have a place to call my own? What if I end up killing my dreams, rather than kindling them, and it all goes to waste? How do I juggle 3 career paths at once, kindle them, and merge them so that I love what I do, yet support myself, but also continue chasing my wild dream of being an artist FULL time? And if I stay here a little longer...what if I end up settling, never daring just to take a risk and a chance? What if I resent friends and loved ones? What if then, my visions of traveling and being on the West Coast die, and I'm bound here? What if I become stuck in a comfortable routine, seeing the same stores, same places, driving down the same roads, same intersections, smelling the same cigarette smoke at the same places, feeling the same sensations, breathing the same air, living the same old, never changing life? 

Those are the thoughts that wake me up during the night. They are what I have found myself pondering, and often feeling a sharp twinge of panic about, during the day. And I try reassuring myself that they are just thoughts, not reality...but it is super hard, because you see - the thoughts feel like they already are reality. It makes me ache the deepest ache imaginable. It's silly, because as my heart races and my jaw clenches from stress, absolutely nothing catastrophic is happening. Life is still unfolding, and yet, my mind seems to keep determining that it already has unfolded, and that the daunting, devastating worries of my mind are my reality. Deep down, I know that is not true. I know that those thoughts do not come from God, and I know that his light eradicates darkness. It's spiritual warfare, really. It makes it incredibly difficult to experience full peace and rest in simply being content with saying, "Lord, Your will be done," however, when it feels as though the mind's full capacity has been invaded by fear and assumptions and predetermined devastation. Does that make sense? Probably not. But hear me out.  

I want to be ambitious of the future, but I do not want to fear. It's hard when everything seems to be colliding at once, and I feel as though I'm being pulled in a million different directions, with a million, fuzzy puzzle pieces in my brain that haven't connected and clarified yet. I love redeeming endings, and usually try and give some sort of perspective or things that have worked for me, personally, when I write...but today? I have no, "Eureka! Here's how I fixed myself!" conclusion. The truth of the matter is that all of this is something I literally wrestle with as I write, yet I also know the Biblical truth of it all, and the fact that although I feel these intense thoughts and emotions...I 100% believe they can be overcome. Today, I'm using this little space to admit that fear is a struggle of mine, accept that I don't have all the answers and that I am struggling really, really bad, but that I also am fighting it, and know that it will not last forever. Even though fear tries to make itself known as my "new reality", I am clinging to the promises that: God does not inflict a spirit of fear upon his children. He is not arbitrary, so he therefore does not place us as humans in (seemingly) nerve-wracking situations just for the heck of it. He delights, as John Piper states, in the good that pain leads to. There is growth in the pain. There is growth in the unknown. There is growth in denying human nature, and accepting the invitation to follow Jesus as Shepherd - Yahweh Rohi.

"God loves you even though you don't feel it. He can handle your life even when you can't." -Stephen Altrogge


That Time I Thought My Life was Falling A Part, Fell Down, Bleached My Hair, Welcomed Silence, and Picked Myself Right Back Up Again

You're probably reading this because of the incredibly blunt, long, slightly confusing title that peeked your curiosity and made you go, "Wait - wha?" You then clicked the link, wondering what the heck this title could be all about (kinda like what we millennials dub as "Click bait"...but I promise it's not click bait...even though it drew you in;)), and now, here you are, waiting for everything to unfold. So let's get going, shall we?

2016 - it was a year of growth, to say the least. If you keep up with my Instagram posts, you probably read the one with my reflections on this last year. I talked about how it was a year of planting a zillion seeds, failure, growing pains, soul searching, trial and error, ups and downs, learning the art of bravery + saying "ADIEU!" to old fears and recurring habits, questioning everything, putting some things to rest, whilst rekindling others, and letting some desires whither away, while reaping the fruit of others. I met some incredible people, traveled to places like NYC and Los Angeles, and conquered multiple flights/sleeping in airports/Amtrak rides/Uber (without being kidnapped, mind you)/getting from point A to point B by myself, began my yoga teacher training journey, traveled to FL, AL, and MS in 1 day, experienced a deeply painful, depressive battle with my own face, and then saw the pure grace and mercy of God heal and mend it, allowed myself to (finally) be open to the idea of relationships, got what I thought would be a dream job for the year, and quit the same day of training, wrestled with a spirit of sheer confusion, bleached my hair, had a million expectations, and a million slaps in the face from reality. I genuinely thought that my life was falling a part many, MANY times. I fell down many, MANY times. But I also picked myself right back up.

There was this recurring, haunting question that kept resurfacing throughout the year though. This question, as short and simple (HA! Try saying "Simple" to a young adult;)) as it was, seemed to plague my mind, get the best of me...and often times, resulted in  many of those "falls" that I mentioned above. Something about it made me cringe.

"So, AG...what's next?" 

It's not even that people would necessarily ask this with spiteful intentions. It's a question that people absolutely had a right to ask. People are curious. People have basic, human questions. People just want to know what I might have up my sleeve! But that question, specifically, is also precisely what made me want to shrivel up, crawl under a chair, and let the question simply remain unanswered. A bit dramatic? Yes. But let me tell you - asking a 20 something year old that, and especially when said 20 something year old is in a state of, "What the hell am I doing with my life?"...dang; it's a daunting question to ponder. It felt like trying to put together a 1000 piece puzzle, but missing 500 pieces.

The truth is that I really didn't know what was next. And the thought of not having a clear, concise answer to that recurring question was...well...a little terrifying. In 2016, I really didn't have an inkling of a clue as to how I should map out my life, how I would make ends meet, how I would actually pack my bags and uproot to L.A., how I could make being an artist + yoga teacher actually work. There were a million "How?s" with very few answers. Little did I know, not having answers was just what my anxious, withered up little soul needed. I soon realized that my answer to (some lifelong) prayers, my answer to being obedient to God...was pressing into an uncomfortable, irksome, time of stillness and silence. And boy, was I squeamish. There were many "Spiritual pow-wows", tears, disappointment, but ultimately? Surrender. A friend of mine - who bless her, is my "go to" when I need to be told that my soul is imbalanced - said something that changed my entire perspective, 

"Anna Gray, you're wanting so many answers, and so quickly...but you're not giving God any time to answer. You keep trying to do so much by your own flesh and your own power, but you're not giving Him any time to work things out. How can you expect to see God working and answering your prayers, when you're not giving Him any time?" 

She was spot on. I was rushing to conclusion after conclusion, choices by what my flesh sought, trying to tackle one too many obstacles on my own, and subconsciously shutting out any space of time for Heavenly Father. Something Moses said to the Israelites in Exodus comes to mind,

"The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."

Obviously, I was not an Israelite in danger of being slaughtered by an Egyptian (wink),  - but those words - I believe that they can still be applied to us in the 21st century. We force things to happen, harbor one too  many expectations, and carry a whole heck of a lot of baggage on our own...but do we ever welcome silence? 

So I listened to my friend's loving rebuke. I made room. I gave God space. And you know what's kind of funny? Things started happening. Things started unfolding. I started discerning God's voice in ways I never had before. Dare I say - I even felt a spirit of joy, which I had not in quite a long time. I took a mere 2 week hiatus from social media, made a (desperately needed) quiet time with God priority, and essentially had to say, "Lord, Your will be done." I welcomed silence. I let my rapid mind relax. I had to come to a place of being okay with aspirations and strong desires not panning out. I let go of expectations I clung so tightly to, and just let things happen.

"So, AG...what's next?"

After all of this lengthiness and setting the stage, that's the million dollar question. ;) After a year of silence, a year of the unknown, a year of ...well...only fragments of what I wanted in life...I can now confidently answer that "horrific", "daunting" question. Let's go. 

1) Never say "NEVER"...No; I'm serious

I always swore to myself that I would NEVER go back to school of any sort, and NEVER, by golly, have anything to do with science (I still am working on not giving Chemistry and Physical Science the finger). Ever. High-school and I sometimes found common ground. But it was rare. We were never BFFs. I've realized that God likes to shake up my world and humor me a little, because typically, things I swear I will never do...I end up doing. After years of claiming, "I WILL NEVER!!!", then feeling a Holy nudge all throughout 2016, praying ceaselessly, throwing my hands up and saying, "God...I can't do this on my own," and "Where the heck do I get the means for tuition?! I'm a starving artist! I CAN'T AFFORD THAT!", being still, and surrendering to Heavenly Father, I am beyond excited and overjoyed to tell you....

...Beginning March of 2017, I am going to Massage Therapy School.

So yes, yours truly - who swore against it all - is in fact, going to a medical arts school, going to be submerged in 200 hours of anatomy/kinesiology/physiology/pathology, and claim the official title of  "Licensed Massage Therapist", come December, 2017. I still can't really believe it. There's an entire story as to how this adventure into massage therapy came about, my "why" behind it, and the specific clientele I want to work with, in which I invite you to pull up a chair, and the 2 of us have a coffee chat. ;) But really - "excited" doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this crazy season quickly approaching.

So now, let's clear some things up!

2) "So you're not going to Los Angeles?" 

Quite the opposite, actually! Since some of my "life skeptics" have jumped on this question, complete with a sinister grin, I thought it deserved some limelight. Did you know that it is entirely possible for things to come up - you know, like huge, LIFE decisions and opportunities to come up - that perhaps require a gap before proceeding to execute a bigger plan? Did you know that it is entirely possible to acquire a new set of skills, while still kindling an original plan?

Well, in case ya didn't know...yes ya can! And that is just what I am doing! BOOM!

*transitions out of strict, teacher voice* ;)

  The short, sweet answer to this is that YES - I most certainly am still planning to uproot to the big, bad world of Los Angeles.  And you know, I really did think that 2017 was to be my year to West Coast it. I was ready to hurry up and go too. But in that same breath, there was this slight piece of me that did not have full peace. And I know the difference between feeling those fleshly nervous butterflies, versus feeling spiritually not at peace. I was not spiritually fully at peace, and considering massage therapy, teaching at a yoga studio, training for my first marathon, and a few other opportunities came into the picture...I now see why I did not have full peace. I do now - but it is full peace about waiting that extra year, instead of jumping on my fleshly instincts of moving in 3-4 months.

 So, come 2018, you just might see some big, West Coast updates. ;)

3) "So you're not pursuing the arts anymore? And what about being a yoga teacher?!"

I've also learned that 99% of the population is unaware that you can have multiple outlets. Just as developing another career path does not = trashing CA plans, developing another career path ALSO does not automatically = trashing hobbies and other career paths that are near and dear to my heart. Let me explain. I still want to pursue the arts. I still want to teach yoga (actually, I am teaching yoga. I just need the piece of paper saying, "200 HR RYT" to make me look like I have more credentials). But here's the thing -  I do not want to be a starving artist. And by that, I mean that I do not want to move to an expensive city with over 12 million people, juggle 5 entry level, 1st and 2nd shift jobs that don't make my heart and soul soar, room with 5 other people, and obliterate my mental sanity, all for the sake of trying to "make it" as an artist. Some people can do it, and I honestly applaud them for it. Go show 'em what you're made of!  I, however, learned that I cannot do that. Part of my "soul searching" in 2016 was learning to negotiate with my mental sanity. Though I naturally am a super Type B, scatter brained, super fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person...I need some source of stability in my life. Massage therapy, as we just unfolded, is what Divinely fit the gap in the puzzle. Do I expect to suddenly have booming clientele, sign a contract with the Seahawks and Juilliard as a massage therapist for athletes, and rake in a million dollars? Obviously not. But - with my long term goals and the opportunities with massage therapy, I do not fear that I will sleep in a cardboard box, or have to forgo the idea of ever creating a pension plan.

So all of that to say? I am, indeed, still pursuing the arts and yoga and other wacko, artsy shenanigans. ;)  I want massage therapy to be the basis of my career, so that I will then have the means to pursue absolute, ultimate goals such as film acting and claiming my "200 HR RYT" certification as a yoga teacher.  I have learned, at least for myself, that hobbies and outlets and aspirations come in seasons. Sometimes my focus is 100% the athletics, and studying yoga and its captivating postures and mudras and attending teacher trainings. Sometimes my focus is 100% the arts, and picking back up my own camera, or working on camera, collaborating with other aspiring actors and producers, doing background work, revisiting vocal lessons, writing my own monologues. Sometimes it's both. And sometimes, it is diving into a broad career path, like massage therapy.

And from here, the rest is history in the making.

I know that I am not alone in the struggles I have faced, the squeamishness I have felt, the failures I have experienced, and the ambitions and desires I pray and hope to achieve. Please hear me when I say - your ambitions and goals matter. I don't care how old you are. I don't care how many people have reprimanded you and made you feel like a failure. Your goals matter. You matter. If you are steadfast in seeking God's will for your life, and dedicated to kindling your ambitions - you are no fool. Not everyone will get you, and you know what? That is okay. I have learned that people can be wearing identical frames, yet have lenses that perceive things differently. I'm here to tell you that it is okay if you find yourself missing 500 pieces of that 1000 piece puzzle. It is okay if you are in a season of having to press into silence, and simply wait to see how things unfold. It is okay if someone asks, "So what's next?" and you have no clue. If I have learned anything, it is that sometimes, the unknown is often what will mold you and shape you and force you to grit your teeth and dig a little deeper. And who knows? Stepping into the unknown just might be your answer. Give Heavenly Father space. Press into the stillness. Welcome the silence. See what happens.

2017...it's going to be good. We've got this.