Monday, May 24, 2010

Letter to Self

My aunt gave me a book last year called "If I'd Known Then". Its a collection of letters from women in their 20s and 30s that are written to their younger selves. I got this book for a wonderful young woman named Brittany Bomba for her high school graduation. As part of the present, I also included a letter to myself on my high school graduation day. Since she has read it, I thought I would share it with the rest of you....

Graduation Day 1990

Dear Shannon,

You probably thought this day would never come and I know you're counting the days until you leave for school. You've put in a lot of hard work and have endured many things. There are so many many many many things I'd like to tell you, to warn you about, but unfortunately I know I can't change the past nor can I change your future so I'll stick to the things that will be important to pay attention to along the way. These are the things you'll learn in the near future. Sometimes these will be great and fun lessons to learn, but other times you'll learn them the hard way.

1) Don't Sweat The Small Stuff - and it really is all small stuff. When you're a freshmen in college you'll get really bent out of shape when your computer disc doesn't work. You'll freak out as a sophomore when your sorority sisters don't know their lines for a rush skit. You'll think you've lost it all when you get your first "D" in a class. But the truth is its really small stuff. Technology failures teach you to always make many back ups. Dealing with people who do things at the last minute will teach you that you can't control other people and that their differences make them who they are. You'll learn that sometimes "D" is for "done" and there's always another chance to take it again. There are very few things in your life that you can't you can't learn from, do better next time, or deal with on some level, and for those things that you can't deal with, see point number 2.

2) Believe. You're at a point now where your faith is strong and growing. It'll have its ups and downs as you get older but your faith can get you through anything. I'll talk about this on two levels but there's also a lot of overlap. First of all there is your faith in God. From your earliest moments you've been able to feel the presence of God around you, but as you get older you'll realize that God is more than a presence. He's more than just around you. He's living and active in your life and if you'll take the time to communicate with God more, you'll find that you are called to do amazing things. Which brings me to the next level of this discussion: have faith in yourself. God will equip you to do all that He calls you to do and when you believe that, you can really do anything. All the times in life that you have done well and succeeded, you truly believed that you could and you gave the credit to the One who gifted you.

3) Continue to Learn. You always gave your mother too much trouble about "not using her education" for those years she said at home. And I'm sure you don't want to hear this now but her answer was spot on: "You can never waste an education." Learning is important and the more you continue to learn the more you can do. Remember to learn beyond the classroom. Those things that we learn each day don't just make us smart; they make us wise.

4) Always have fun! This may sound difficult to do when you're in the middle of mid-terms, but your attitude will make all the difference. I still remember the all-nighters with my study partners and although I'd never do it again, I cherish the memories.

5) Respect others. Everybody is different. If they weren't it'd be boring. Its easy to criticize those who are different than us, especially when its their ideas that are different, but try to find what is fascinating about them. Respect who they are. Who knows? You may change their mind and having respect for them will go a long way in your argument. Plus if you can't respect another person then its hard to have fun and learn from them. If that's the case - politely distance yourself.

There's so much more I want to tell you but what I'd really like to do is give you a hug. You are loved and you are not alone. Go and make the world a better place. You can do it!


I encourage you to write a letter as well. It is very therapeutic.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Things I'm Learning From Boot Camp

Last week I got serious about my health goals for the year. I'd been eating healthy and exercising up to that point but I'd also been eating junk with the good stuff and exercising only to maintain. After a consultation with my accountability partners, I got a good kick in the butt: "I hate cleaning the house but I do it every week. You know what you need to do so just do it!" We'll those words worked and I decided to do it.

I also decided that paying money to work out is worth it. I paid A LOT of money for my education and never really blink at it so dropping a bit to encourage me to workout each day shouldn't be shunned. God gave me this body and it is worthy to be taken care of. So I took the plunge and signed up for Operation Boot Camp.

I get up at 4:50 every morning in order to get to the park by 5:15. We work out for one hour and then I'm home in time to see the family off to work and school before I start my day.

After one week I've learned a few valuable pieces of info:

1) Getting out of the bed is the hardest part. Contrary to what others might think, boot camp itself is not so bad. I do push myself and I can't do everything right now but once I'm there, I'm committed to doing it. When the alarm goes off, I think "Hmmm... if I hadn't paid for this, I'd probably not be getting up."

2) It takes a village. If I tried to do the exercises in the boot camp on my own, I'm pretty sure I'd cave in and not finish. But since I'm part of a group of 24 people who expect me to be there every morning, I get up. We encourage each other through it and build energy to push ourselves. I've also posted my goals and status on facebook to get others to encourage me. This experience has given me great arguments as to why we should worship as a group instead of at the Church of the Living Room.

3) Keep a positive attitude. One thing I loved from the start of Boot Camp is that a negative attitude is NOT allowed. If one person starts complaining about how early it is, then the rest of us will chime in. It just isn't tolerated. Negative talk and self-talk will guarantee negative results. Wouldn't it be great if all our organizations used this motto? Can you image no negative talk? That doesn't mean there isn't corrective feedback. I've tried this as much as I can in other parts of my life this week. Its made a HUGE difference. I feel I'm better able to show God's love by being positive. I know I knew this before, but Boot Camp was a great reminder of how often we let other people's negativity affect us.

So now I've got three more weeks. I will do it! I will go just a little bit more. I am improving my health. I will push myself beyond where I thought I could go.

Until Everyone Hears,

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