Will You Accept this Rose?

In case you haven’t seen, a new season of the Bachelor is on. Now, I never thought I would be the type of girl who would enjoy the Bachelor/Bachelorette, but I watched the last season with JoJo as the bachelorette and now I’m hooked. On Monday I stayed up late to watch the first episode of this season, and I have to say that I am pleased with both Nick and some of the women. I don’t really know how Nick portrayed himself in previous Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons, but now he seems really mature and grounded by his family. Plus, he is from Wisconsin (so am I)! Also, some of the women are lawyers, nurses, etc—they actually have real careers. Right now, I am rooting for the neonatal nurse who is also from Wisconsin. We will see what happens in the following episodes…

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Anyways, all of this talk about the Bachelor has gotten me thinking about my perspective on dating. For the record, I have yet to date anyone. Whenever I come home, family members and friends are constantly asking me if I am interested in someone. It drives me crazy. Yes, I am 20 years old, and yes maybe most girls my age have at least dated someone, but I personally don’t want to date just to date. I’m not interested in hooking up with guys. I want a real relationship, so therefore, I want to wait for a guy who is mature, caring, thoughtful, funny (the list goes on).

At this point, I feel so young. At age 20, I am barely an adult. I am still in college, and I have intentions on going to medical school and starting a career. I don’t envision myself settling down soon, so I wish people wouldn’t pressure me to be in a relationship. Also, as much as I would like to be in a romantic relationship with someone, I feel as though God is giving me a message saying that I still need to work on the relationships I already have in my life. I love my family, but I need to improve my attitude around them. I want to work on letting my guard down around them and showing them how much I love and appreciate them. As far as friends go, I barely have time as it is to see them because I get caught up in school and other activities. I need to make more of an effort to spend quality time with them, so that they can see how much they all mean to me.

At this point in my life, I know that I should not be searching for a boyfriend. I already have amazing relationships in my life that I can to continue to strengthen, and I also really want to focus on attaining a fulfilling career. I trust that when the time is right, God will place an amazing guy into my life. I just want to encourage any of you who also are struggling with being single right now to not settle for any person you stumble upon. Use this time to grow as an individual and to spend time with the important individuals who are already a part of your life. I truly believe that God is the best matchmaker out there, so I’m just going to (try to) patiently wait for the guy he has in store for me.

Lots of love,
Hannah

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The Secret Life of a Selfless Giver with Selfish Tendencies

Anyone who knows me can attest that I genuinely enjoy helping people. Why do I offer to stay at work until 2:30am at times or tutor students in chemistry when I really don’t have the time? It’s because of that feeling you get when you know someone is appreciating the work you are doing for them. This world needs more goodness in it, and I want to help spread it, but I got to thinking, at the root of it all, is my service for the good of others or for myself?

Let’s rewind back to my high school days. My mind back then was focused on getting into college, so I did anything that would look good on an application. National Honor Society, Key Club, Spanish Honor Society… if it involved service of some kind, I probably dabbled in it. Sure, I enjoyed being able to provide service to others, but in reality, I only volunteered for my personal gain.

Now I’ve grown a lot since my days in high school. I now realize that life on Earth is so unpredictably short, so I need to fill my time with the things that truly matter to me. For instance, Royal Family Kids Camp will forever be a part of my life. I can genuinely say that attend camp to help the kids witness God’s love. If my heart wasn’t in it for the right reasons, I wouldn’t ever make it through the week because working with foster children is exhausting. These kids come with a lot of emotional baggage, and if you go in with selfish intentions, God won’t have the space to work in your camper.

That being said, though, I still have moments where my selfish inclinations start outweighing my desire to be selfless. At a stressful day of work, sometimes I only focus on my paycheck or the fact that this will help me get into medical school. Other days make me realize how much I love caring for my residents. Can I just say that I love elderly people because they are wise, witty, and all around wonderful? The other day, I helped a lady fix her drawer and they next moment she was giving me a hug because she was so grateful for my help. I love it when I can take the extra 30 seconds to make my residents feel happy, important, and beautiful/handsome.

I was reading my Bible the other day, and I stumbled upon 1 Corinthians 13 about love. Verse 5 spoke to me in particular stating that love “does not seek its own interests”. It was a crucial reminder to me that the love I share with the people I serve needs to be selfless. If I am giving of time to others, but I do it for my own accord, I‘m not showing Christ’s love.

In a few weeks, I will be co-leading a group of about 10 college students down to Little Rock, Arkansas for a children’s medical service trip at the hospital there. It will be really easy to get stuck in a rut of just seeing how this is a great opportunity for my future. After all it will be great leadership and medical experience. This trip, though, is not about making myself feel good; it’s about listening to the stories of the families I meet, encouraging others to have faith in the team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who are taking care of their child, and engaging with the children so that they can have time to relax and to just have fun. As I continue to get older, I hope that I work through my selfishness and instead serve others with unconditional, selfless love.

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Lots of love,

Hannah

Good Catalyzes Good

Today began on a frustrating note. Being the morning person that I am, I decided to try to get some physics homework out of the way. Forty minutes later, I had attempted two problems and had solved neither of them. This is constant recurring theme in physics. I stare at the problems, get zero answers, and then fantasize about how I would like to burn by physics book.

However, it was the perfect fall day outside– 55°F, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Instead of doing more homework, I went on the most therapeutic run. As I ran, I listened to my favorite music, soaked in the gorgeous fall colors, and just thought aimlessly. Afterwards, it was like the physics incident had never occurred. That run changed my whole entire mood. It was a spark of good that changed my whole attitude for the day.

After the run, I got lunch with a friend from high school. We chatted while sipping on great coffee. It made me so happy to take time to catch up on each other’s lives, especially since I don’t get to see her often anymore. My lunch date was another sprinkling of good.

Later on at church,  1.) there was a baptism, 2.) I sat next to the happiest, cutest,  married elderly couple, and 3.) the priest delivered an amazing homily about leprosy and Christ’s role as a healer. He challenged us to look at our lives and to think about how Christ can physically, emotionally, or spiritually heal us. It was a homily that was challenging, but immensely clear. I needed to hear those words, and I left church feeling spiritually recharged– more good.

The final dose of goodness for the day came from a spontaneous FaceTime call from another high school friend. More chatting ensued, laughs were shared, and afterwards, I felt great.

The moral of the story– good builds on good. So often I let myself become consumed with negativity. I become overwhelmed with how busy I am or how challenging my classes are. Anxiety and stress quickly blind me from seeing the good in the circumstances that I am in. I focus on how quickly a day can turn sour, when in reality, it is just as easy for a day to become really amazing. Thinking back on the homily, right now, I need Christ to cleanse me from these burdens that weigh me down so that I can devote time to the things/people who lift me up– family, friends, spending time in nature, reading a great book, drinking hot coffee, etc. There is a lot of evil that is occurring in this work, but there is also a ton of good being done. Today was just one example of how one positive experience– my run– allowed me to more fully enjoy the rest of my day. Good catalyzes good (Can you tell I’m a science major? hehe). Every smile, laugh, or compliment could be the spark that ignites a chain reaction of good. I pray that I can continue working on changing my mindset from focusing on the negatives of life to relishing all of the sparks of good that are occurring around me.

Lots of love,

Hannah

The Science of Happiness?

Monday I actually had a day off! Crazy, I know. I didn’t even get any calls asking me to come into work–a miracle. That means I had the whole day to myself. I could do whatever I wanted to. One of the things that I genuinely love to do, but never have time to do is cook/bake. I decided to make a One-Pot Chickpea Curry for dinner and healthy-ish lemon bars for dessert (Both were delicious by the way!) Anyways, while I was at the grocery store getting my ingredients, I was mesmerized by the magazine stand. Time had a special edition out called, you guessed it, The Science of Happiness. I’m a total nerd and love anything related to psychology, so I knew that this was going to be my afternoon read.

This magazine was chock-full of research on how we can tweak our physical, mental, and spiritual lives to become happier individuals. Many of the authors argue that a key aspect of happiness depends on one’s state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially being present in the current moment.In this day and age, mindfulness is something that many of us lack. In fact, studies have shown that adults feel present only 50% of the time, meaning that we are focused only half of our lives. We are so busy multitasking or thinking towards the future that we forget to relish today and to accomplish today’s tasks to the best of our ability. While multitasking may seem productive, it actually distracts us further from the present and makes it more difficult to produce quality work. The urge to multitask instead of focus on mindfulness is intensified by technology. Right now, on my computer, I can listen to music, work on this blog, watch for incoming emails, and check social media. That’s sensory overload. One article hits the nail right on the head by stating, “our devices allow us to be many places at once– but at the cost of being unable to fully inhabit the place where we actually want to be.”

That quote is so true, it’s unsettling. I myself don’t realize how consumed I am by technology. It prevents me from finding joy in the simplicity of the day. Honestly, if I’m ever bored or alone, I grab for my phone. It’s my safety net at all times. Does it make me happy, though?

The clear answer is no. It does the opposite. It steals precious time that I could be devoting to the things that do make me happy. One of the challenges that many of the articles suggest is doing a digital detox in order to strengthen one’s mindfulness. That might mean not checking your phone before a certain time, or not checking your emails on the weekends, etc. For me, I’ve noticed that I always start and end my day by checking social media, and I want that to change. I’ve decided to try to not use social media–email, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc– during the two hours after I wake up and during the two hours before I go to bed. That way I can start and end my day by reading, praying, exercising, or doing anything that relaxes and connects me to the present moment.

This morning I gave it a go, and it was surprisingly easy. I woke up around 6am and ate breakfast. While sipping on my coffee, I finished reading this magazine. Then I decided to go swim at my gym. Afterwards, I did some yoga outside in my backyard, since it was warm and sunny! It was a nice change compared to doing yoga in my dark, cold basement. By the time all of this was done, more than two hours had passed since waking up. I really had no urge to check in with other people online whatsoever. I felt refreshed being able to wake up and focus on my personal wellness. For me especially, I know that I need to strengthen my mindfulness. You all know how work can wreck me emotionally, and I let stress overtake me. Learning to be mindful and intentionally taking time for myself will help me to recharge and face stress with a newfound strength.

I highly recommend this magazine to anyone who is fascinated with psychology, science, or wellness. I learned a lot of pertinent information that I could apply to my life to help me be more mindful, and hopefully more joyful. If you feel up to it, please join me in a digital detox too! I would love to see how this detox allows a variety of people to be more present, and I would be interested to know if individuals felt that this mindfulness is adding more happiness to their lives.

Lots of love,

Hannah

All the Feels

Saturday was one of the strangest days that I have ever experienced. My emotions ranged from happy to stressed to angry to completely exhausted. It was a day or normalcy, then catastrophe, then redemption. Through it all, I was reminded of God’s faithfulness, kindness, and mercy.

The day began at 5am because I had to be at work at 6:30am. I work as a CNA at a nursing home, so my job is to basically provide cares for my residents. The shift actually went by relatively easily. The only issue I had was dealing with a woman whose dementia has severely progressed. Now she is physically and verbally abusive to the staff and sometimes the residents. We are doing our best to keep her safe and calm; it is truly heart-breaking to see someone so drastically different because of her mental state.

Then 2pm rolled around. I was ready to leave like normal at 2:30, but the pm staff was short AGAIN, so the supervisors asked if I could stay at all. Let’s be real here. No part of me wanted to stay. What I wanted to do was go swim at my gym and then go out to dinner with my family. They clearly saw my hesitation, but they still kept begging me to stay. So being me, I agreed to stay until 5pm. I finished my shift, but once I got in my car, I was filled with spite and anger. I couldn’t believe that I changed my plans again for work. Yes, I was still able to go to dinner with my family later, but now I didn’t get the chance to swim, and that was something that I was looking forward to doing.

Anyways, when I got home, I was spewing with negativity. I knew that this would probably carry over to dinner, but I still wanted to try to have a good night with my family since I never get to see them. That was a bad idea. Even though we had plans to go to a really cool artisanal pizza place and then get frozen yogurt afterwards, I couldn’t shake this bad attitude. This caused everyone around me to get in an awful mood as well. I felt like I was stuck in a positive feedback loop–where the more I fixated on the day, more and more hurtful comments were being said. Now, I wasn’t just angry about work, I was finding ways to attack my parents as well, even though they deserved none of that.

Eventually, I realized how awful and hurtful I was being. I was so exhausted and ashamed that I just started crying right there in the restaurant. First of all, that’s embarrassing. It gets worse,though. I was just so upset that I had let work use me and push me to my limits that I kept crying, so much so that I ended up hyperventilating… in the restaurant…with other people around. I felt terrible.

Luckily, my mom was able to get me to stop having this panic attack. It was like she was able to set aside everything I had said to her in order to help calm me down. In the car, my family was able to comfort me in a way that I did not deserve. They constantly forgive me and love me even when I am at my worst. It made me realize once again how God has blessed me. I couldn’t ask for more loving and supportive parents. I just wish I didn’t have to completely break down for me to acknowledge how much they mean to me.

I was blown away by the love and mercy that my parents showed me. It reminded me that God’s love and mercy is even greater than what I have just received. It’s so comforting to know that even when we screw up, God will still show us mercy. Jesus died for all of our sins–past, present, and future. There is nothing that we can do to make God stop loving us.

With all of that in mind, I was able to calm down, eat a butt-load of frozen yogurt, and enjoy my time at the frozen yogurt shop with my family. Even after my meltdown, our family outing ended on a high note. I realized that I need to grow a backbone and say no to working outside of my scheduled shifts if it is going to send me into a spiral of anger. I can’t be everyone’s “go to girl” all the time. Most importantly, I was reassured that God and my family will always love me–on the good days and on the bad ones. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Lots of love,
Hannah

Make Moments Matter

God has really being reminding me lately that life is short, sometimes drastically shorter than we can ever prepare for. Earlier this year, God showed me this when a boy I went to high school with passed away unexpectedly. I wasn’t good friends with him, but we had three classes together senior year. It’s still weird knowing that he isn’t here anymore. Just a few days ago, two guys who went to my college drowned after powerful waves knocked them off of a pier. That really shook me. Again, I didn’t personally know them, but when you go to a small school, tragedies like this impact everyone.

I can’t quite wrap my head around the whole thing. Both the boy from high school and the two guys from my college would have never expected their lives to be so short. It’s incredibly easy to just assume that we will wake up each morning, be safe during the day, and continue to live at least into our 80’s. God has been challenging me, though, to change this mindset.

To be honest, I’m so future focused that I assume I’ll graduate college, get married, have kids, find my dream job, and so on. I’m not guaranteed any of that, though. The fact of the matter is, this world is full of sickness, war, violence, and freak accidents. I might not get tomorrow, so I need to truly be thankful for everyone and everything in my life and make today matter.

Since theses deaths have occurred, I’ve tried to be more conscientious about the blessings that God has given me. I have a loving supportive family, I have wonderful friends, I get the opportunity to go to my dream school, I am healthy, I live in a safe area, I have so much freedom… the list goes on and on. My goal is to intentionally thank God EVERYDAY or these gifts because they are, well…gifts. I didn’t do anything to earn them. I need to be more proactive about showing this gratitude to God and to those that I love. I need to be better at telling my parents and friends that I love them, and that I value the relationships that we have formed. I can’t takes these precious people for granted.

The other message that God is showing me is to make moments matter. I don’t believe God makes mistakes when he takes the life away from someone. I think that some people’s lives are shorter than others depending on what God’s plan for them is. I need to make each day count because I don’t know if I will get another one. So what does that mean? I think for me, I need to focus on how I can more fully live the life that God called me to live. After all, the only reason we are on this earth is to glorify Him and to do His will. I need to take another look at each part of my day and see who I can love, serve, encourage, etc. How can I make someone’s day a little brighter? How can I spread God’s love to those around me? I want to focus on making small choices to act more like Christ. I have to transform the way I think and act now because I might not be guaranteed a later time in life to fix my ways.

I thank God for reminding me that life is short, but it’s also an incredible gift. Sometimes, our visions for the future don’t match what God has in store for us. I need to trust whatever God has planned for me, strive to live more like Christ today, and never take anything for granted. It’s a crazy wake up call, but I needed it. I hope that this will inspire you to make today count too. Tell your loved ones how much you care about them. Make someone smile. Spread kindness and joy. Make moments matter.

Lots of love,
Hannah

My Love-Hate Relationship with To-Do Lists

Anyone can tell you that 99% of the time, I’m on top of my game. My number one strength is disciple, so I love order and routine. Not a day goes by where I don’t make a game plan and consult my plethora of to-do lists. To me, there is nothing better than structuring my day by making a list (or a few) and crossing off each accomplishment one-by one. Seriously, I get a little burst of happiness every time I get to check something off of my list– I’m crazy I know.

However, sometimes I feel like to-do lists can be harmful for people like me. Instead of being a tool to help someone stay organized, they almost serve as a measurement for how “good” a day is for me. The more items I accomplish on my list, the better my day becomes. My mind focuses only on tangible tasks, rather than meaningful moments. Because of this, it’s so easy for me to become this busy-body; from the moment I wake up I’m reading my bible, doing chores, going to work. Check. Check. Check. If every part of my life becomes part of my to-do list, am I really enjoying these tasks or just completing them to feel more productive and accomplished?

I don’t want to live my life in constant “work” mode. I don’t want to feel bad or lazy if I have a day where I spend time just recharging by reading a book or cooking. I want to shift my focus from finishing tasks, and instead focus on being in the moment during these events. When I am focused on being productive, I lose precious moments with those that I love. Instead of being present with my family and friends, my mind is preoccupied with what I need to get done next. How good a day is shouldn’t be measured quantitatively, but rather qualitatively. Maybe, one day I just spend time with my mom at the farmer’s market. Sure, I don’t get any chores done, but I’m fostering my relationship with my mom. This is far more important than checking off a to-do list.

What I am trying to realize now, is that the best moments in life cannot be defined by a to-do list. For example, I can think I am doing my job as a Christian by reading my bible, praying, and going to church. Check. Check. Check. Faith is more than a check-list. This is the same with so many other areas of my life. To-do lists can be helpful, but they also can be controlling. Will I stop using them? No, because they are useful reminders of things that I need to get done. I just need to remember that there is more to life than just checking items off lists. I need to shift my focus from completing tasks to enjoying the tasks in each day. A day can be great without checking many items off of a list. It’s okay to slow down sometimes and just enjoy the life that we have been blessed with.

 

Lots of love,

Hannah