Thursday, March 30, 2017

More soul, more heart.

The words will fall out of me
like rain from the sky.
Each letter playing it's part
to form the words
that can't wait to be heard
can't wait to be said.

The mind stops us
from looking silly
from making mistakes
it also can stop us from setting someone free
from opening the gate that guards the heart

Sometimes we need less mind
less holding back
more soul
more openness
more heart.

Writing for me is easy. I can put my feelings in a letter or in a text. I can outline a blog and convey my thoughts in a way that is clear where my intentions are easy to understand.

When it comes to speaking, it's not as simple. I think a little too much, reword a bit too often and more likely than not I can utter a sarcastic comment quicker than I can get a loving word to free itself from my tongue.

I wrote the opening poem about two weeks or so after I started dating Patrick. The beginning of our relationship was such a whirlwind. I had never met someone like him before, never had someone be so open about their feelings and their intentions. Where he would openly share a piece of his heart I would share a stale smile or an awkward giggle, never knowing how to fully put my feelings into words.

His patience and consistency has made disclosing my feelings easier but even after four months together and months of 'I love you's' it's still not exactly easy.

That's the cool thing about love though, it's not easy. It's also not exactly hard. It's uncomfortable and challenging and a growing experience. Love, I've learned, will stretch you and teach you and push you to be a better version of yourself.

It's not two pieces fitting perfectly together with no adjustments or additions needed. It's two imperfect people coming together despite their flaws and trying to build something beautiful.

Yes, I struggle saying the words, initiating the cuteness and the heart moments but I do it. I do it because I know how amazing it feels when Patrick is open and vulnerable with me, it makes me feel like he trusts me. Like he trusts me to safe guard his words and to not return his investment with empty stares and completely opposite feelings.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I need to try. Try a bit harder to step outside of my comfort zone and invest in a relationship that really matters to me. Try to utter the words that are often difficult to say but are without a doubt felt. Words that convey my trust in him, in his consistency and his integrity. Words that share just a little bit more soul and a lot more heart.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. " - C.S. Lewis.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The importance of representation.

This week I went on one of my first field trips in years. Myself and a few of my colleagues took a group of thirty high school students on a trip to the Denver Police Department and it was awesome.

DPD is one of the many groups that sends their staff to mentor in our classrooms. Out of the 30 students that we took, about ten or so of them have mentors that are cops. It was such a positive and inspiring experience because having cops as their mentors has completely changed their perception of law enforcement. Where these students once saw just a badge and someone who saw them as only a nuisance, they now see a mentor, friend and a role model. 

Something that really impacted me from the experience was meeting the Executive Director of safety for Denver. The person that holds this position is in charge of over seeing everything that has to do with safety in Denver, that includes fire, police and the sheriffs department. Pretty much the Executive Director is the head honcho, the main boss and all around a big deal and surprisingly to me an African American woman. 

When Executive Director O'Malley, stood in front of us and started welcoming us and sharing about her role and responsibilities, I was mystified. It was so cool to see someone that looked like me and like a lot of the female students that we brought on the trip, holding the highest position in the building and one of the highest positions in the city. I hung on to every word that she shared and when she finished I sat back in my chair feeling like I had just experienced something really important. 

When the field trip wrapped up and I walked my group of students back to the train I was deeply moved by the conversations that I overheard.

"I think I want to be a cop someday," one girl said, " I think I want to be like the Director of safety," another young lady shared. Where they once struggled to see possibilities, they now saw themselves represented clear as day. 

It is so important for young people of color to see themselves portrayed in high profile jobs and in the media. I am overjoyed that kids that are in school right now are able to grow up having lived through the tenure of our first black president. I'm excited that young ladies are able to see the first African American Bachelorette. More than anything, I'm elated over that fact that my students are able to see people of color holding offices that are impacting their communities. 

Mentioning the Bachelorette makes me feel a little silly but honestly I do think that this is monumental for young women of color. For them to turn on their televisions and turn to one of the most popular shows in this country and see someone who is educated, wise, beautiful, composed AND looks like them...that's important. 

Representation is a necessity. I was reminded of the importance of that this week. Growing up I so wanted to be a doctor and when I got to college and the road was rougher than I thought, I dropped that dream like a hot plate. This week was the first time, since changing my major and exploring different career options, that I wondered if my choices could have been different. If I had grown up being mentored by a woman of color that was a doctor or if I had a doctor that was a person of color, would I have made a different choice? 

Would I have tried harder? Where I saw uncertainty and the impossible would I have thought of her and seen a tangible example of hope? It's hard to tell and since I love what I do so much, I honestly don't want to spend too much time thinking about it. What I do know, is that walking to the Police station none of my girls mentioned wanting to go into Public safety or any career for that matter but on the walk back, they all did. 

There is power in thinking about your dream job and being able to recall a memory of people who walk like, talk like and look like you in those positions. There's a confidence that comes and I think in your subconscious a switch is flipped and it tells you that people who look like you have done it and so can you. 

Representation is an essential step in giving young people of color the proper tools to be able to achieve their goals. It's the black president, the first Latina Justice on the Supreme court, it's the African American woman saving NASA and the first Muslim American man winning an Oscar.

It's about giving young adults, both male and female, an image to focus on, one that mirrors who they are and what they can be. One that gives them hope, inspires them to dream and allows them to see themselves serving in any capacity that they wish.

I wish every adult that interacted with our students treated them the way that those cops did. They treated them like they were the future, like they had potential and like our city will be a better place because of each and every one of them. They showed them Officers, Commanders and Directors who looked like them. People who told them that the sky was the limit and I think for the first time in maybe their entire lives, our students could actually see it and without hesitation, believed it.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A relationship in orbit.

Dating is weird. You meet a person and you decide that you not only think that they're attractive but you also think that they're someone that you want to spend an ungodly amount of time with. So you change your status on Facebook and put a heart emoji next to their name in your phone and just like that you're a couple.

 I've written before about how watching my parents taught me a lot about love and marriage but I didn't get the privilege of watching them when they were just a couple, just boyfriend and girlfriend. I think if I did I would have learned some of the ins and outs of this relationship business.

Dating doesn't solve any of the issues or insecurities that we as single people tend to have. Rather, I think it grabs batteries from a dusty drawer in the kitchen, loads the closest flashlight and illuminates everything that you've tried to hide for years. 

The more time you spend with someone the more they get to know you. That's a sentence that we're all familiar with but we should also add that they don't just get to know the rose colored parts of you but also the weird, scarred and quirky parts of you. 

After a few months of dating, Patrick knows quite a bit about me. He knows that I call every dog that I see fluffy. He knows that I have moments where I'm irrational and literally annoyed for no reason. He knows that I'm a sucker for the simple things and he also knows that it's the littlest things at times that really grind my gears. 

At this point in our relationship he's really starting to know me and not just the parts of me that are easily shared but also the parts that are not. The parts that I'm not always so proud of, the parts that I'm working on. 

Relationships are a constant journey of trusting, trusting and trusting some more. Trusting that the love you give will be returned. Trusting that this flaw or that flaw won't be the one that's nonnegotiable. Trusting that if they're choosing to love you today than they'll choose to do it tomorrow as well. 

I thought that relationships were easy, that they were fun ALL the time and that once you're in love it fixes every thing. I was way off base. Healthy relationships aren't always easy but they're worth it. I have so much fun with Patrick but not every conversation that we have is fun. Some conversations are hard and are uncomfortable but they are the foundation for what we're trying to build, a strong and lasting relationship.

At the core of it all I've learned that by keeping Christ at the center of our relationship we've revolved it around something that will never fail. When we first met each other, we sat at a coffee shop and talked for hours and the thing that we talked about the most was Christ. That was the catalyst that prompted a second date that eventually led to a relationship.

As we get to know each other more and begin to see the quirks and hiccups of each others lives the thing that we're orbiting around still hasn't changed. Which I think is what makes every hard conversation easier, every laugh more joyful and every small kind gesture so big.

So I guess I didn't need to be a fly on the wall while my parents were dating. I didn't need a cheat sheet that showed me how to fight fair or how to choose to love. All I needed was to put Christ at the center, meet someone else that did the same and let the rest of the story be written by him.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Good in Goodwill.

This week I celebrated my one year anniversary at my job and it kind of snuck up on me. I was talking to a mentor at one of my schools and he asked me how I got involved with Goodwill and when I started. I nonchalantly answered him and told him that I started on March 7th and then it hit me that I had started exactly one year ago that day.

It's crazy how fast time flies when you're doing something that you truly love.

When I first started at Goodwill I remember feeling such a peace in my soul about what I was doing. I remember feeling like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I feel pretty blessed to still feel that way everyday.

Throughout this short and lightning fast year I've learned a lot about myself but more than anything I've acquired so much knowledge about the complexities of education. I've learned and seen first hand that for some students, high school can be an almost insurmountable challenge.

Before starting at Goodwill I think it's safe to say that I had lived a pretty privileged and sheltered life. I was home schooled my entire life and after that I went to a small all women's college before working for a global education program for 4 years.The majority of the people that I had worked with and had gotten a chance to know had supportive parents that pushed them to get the best education possible.

In my mind, if you didn't get a high school diploma it was because you were lazy and didn't care about your education. Man, was I way off. I've met students that are the main bread winners for their families, students that can barely make it to school on time because they're just getting off work before the first bell rings. Students with learning disabilities that have gone unnoticed and untreated their entire lives.

I thought that attendance, grades and graduation rates were black and white. I thought that people fell in either one of two categories, the motivated or the unmotivated. Those that cared and those that could care less. The truth is, that education is such a multifaceted and complex topic and the reason why some don't have proper access to it or don't have the resources that they need to succeed can be even more complex.

I truly love what I do. I love it because it not only gives me a chance to provide under served youth with the resources that they deserve but it also is continually opening my eyes to the trials and tribulations of human life.

Not everyone has the privilege of being raised in a two parent home. Not all students have the privilege of being able to come home from school and JUST focus on their homework without having to do many other tasks to help their parents. Not every student has the privilege of knowing where their next meal will come from.

Often times it's not an issue of whether someone is lazy or motivated. Often times it's so much more than that and it takes someone getting in the trenches and showing students that they truly care to find the answer and that's what Goodwill does.

Two years ago the only thing I knew about Goodwill was that it was a company that sold used clothes. I had no idea that in Denver alone it was an organization that served over 17,000 youth and those are only the numbers from the 2015-2016 school year. I had no idea that they brought in mentors from the community to work with students and to be a consistent and supportive adult figure in their life. I had no idea that they ran adult programs that help to break the cycle of poverty and gives those with mental and physical challenges opportunities to work traditional jobs.

The 'Good' in Goodwill is that we are about so much more than just clothes, we're about people and their futures and their children's future. We're about families rising out of the pit of poverty and youth not being a victim of the school to prison pipeline. We're about doing good and having that good start where it often matters most, the classroom and in the lives of people in our communities.

So keep shopping at Goodwill friends because the money that you spend in our stores goes directly to programs for youth and adults in your neighborhood. Do your part and I'll continue to do mine and together we'll keep the Good in Goodwill.


Thursday, March 2, 2017


The other day I took a trip to my favorite coffee shop. Across from me was a young lady, about my age, with long red hair and clear green eyes and every time I looked up she was staring at me. It was kind of an intense situation because she was only sitting one table away from me. The more I tried to avoid her eye contact the more awkward and weird I felt.

I had just gotten to the coffee shop so I was still settling in and putting my things down and when I finally went to get a cup of coffee she spoke to me.

She looked me right in the eyes and she said “Hi, how are you?” I smiled and told her that I was doing fine and then asked how she was doing. She told me that she was doing well and then a huge smile spread across her face and she said “You are lovely, I noticed that when you walked in and had to tell you.”

I couldn’t help but to laugh. As far as looks were concerned I wasn’t having my best morning. I had gone to bed late the night before and woke up early to meet Patrick for breakfast before he went to work. My face felt tired and my body matched those sentiments. In that moment, lovely was not the word I would have used to describe myself. Yet there I was, surrounded by people I didn’t know and where I saw a frazzled hot mess this lady with flowing red hair saw something lovely.

How often do we do that? We look at ourselves and see all the flaws, all the things that are out of place and the things that aren’t quite right. We see the bags under our eyes and the air of exhaustion radiating from our skin and miss all the layers of ‘lovely’ that envelope us.

I took a break from blogging recently. My reasoning was that I thought I needed to refocus. I thought I needed space to clear my head and find the beauty in the ashes but now I think the truth is that I got caught up in the mess. I got so caught up, in fact,  that I was lost in the cobwebs and the dust and missed all of the gorgeous layers and hints of lovely.

The thing about commitment, real commitment, is that it’s independent of feelings. I won’t always feel like writing, I won’t always feel like my thoughts or opinions are valuable and I’m sure that I won’t always feel like I have something important to share. Commitment though, doesn’t really care about how I feel. Commitment calls out to my integrity and requires of me that I show up and do what I said that I would do regardless of how I feel.

Because when you learn to show up, even when most of you feels unprepared, unmotivated and even unworthy, that's when you start to realize that lovely things are all around you. It's in the follow through of our word and being willing to step into the uncomfortable places that we learn how to really see it.

So here I am. An inexperienced, passionate, joy filled and sometimes unmotivated writer ready to embark on a journey with you. One where I commit to the process and instead of being attached to the outcome I become attached to always showing up.

I encourage you to master the art of showing up, it'll be especially useful if you ever find yourself in the place that I found myself a month ago. Feeling like an arrow. Like I needed to pull back in order to be shot forward. Regardless of how you feel, show up and be committed to your word. You might be feeling like an arrow but maybe you're meant to be an anchor. Steady, unmovable, reliable, always staying in place even when the waves are rolling and the storm is raging.

So for now I'm committing to that. To being the anchor even when I feel like I'd much rather be an arrow. Maybe one day I'll run into you in a coffee shop. You'll be standing there thinking that you look frazzled, unwashed, and a mess and I'll be the one staring, trying to find the words to describe something so lovely.