Looking back, I realized that I was a very lost and confused teenager. At times I might have thought I knew who I was, but there's who you are, who you think you are, who you strive to be, and then who you strive not to be, hope not to be, do everything possible not to be but sometimes still end up being.
You were never one of the "cool kids," but you had friends who were. You were never a "nerd" but people assumed you were smart, because you're Asian, even though you worked your ass off to be slightly above average--B+ like your blood type. You were never an outcast, but you never felt like you quite fit in, so you became a chameleon, which, come to think of it, is probably why you oft felt so lost and confused. You learned to be loud and funny (and/or obnoxious depending how you view it), because that was how you were going to be seen and heard. You were nice to the wrong people and not nice enough to those you should have valued more, but mostly you tried to love everyone. The cage door was always left open so eventually you explored a bit of the wild side.
Your insecurities sometimes got the better of you and made you an angsty teen, and you were really hard on yourself, really hard sometimes. Your heart was tender and you cared deeply for everything you did and the people in your life.
If I could go back in time I'd tell you to first be kind to yourself, love yourself. You have to love yourself, otherwise you'll never allow yourself to be loved. I'd tell you not to worry about anyone else, just be kind to everyone. If I could go back in time I'd tell you that something will happen to you that will change your life forever--for the better and for the worse, but in the end it's all for the better because you'll realize that only YOU get to choose how your life is lived. If I could go back in time I'd have you realize you are deserving of love. I'd tell you not to be afraid of being loved and valued for who you are at your core. Your faults and falls only make your core stronger and more brilliant. If I could go back in time I'd tell you that you often feel lost and confused because you are indefinable, despite every label people try to attach to you. Let truth guide you and compassion move you.
You were never meant to be perfect. You were only meant to love.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Today we celebrated the life of an incredible man who loved his family and his community. Frank is synonymous with father and police officer. To serve and protect was just who he was.
I'll never understand God's plan, but I will always trust in His love. As I listened to the service and realized the psalm and the gospel chosen were the same ones we chose for our wedding, I kind of smiled to myself. That's because through all the stages of life and death, God reminds us to show mercy and to love one another. And while we're on earth, the thing that matters the most is how we treat each other, because that it was stays on earth beyond our time here.
It seems cruel to take away someone we love when they should have more time with us, but no one is ever really gone from us when we have been touched by their love. After a long battle with cancer, Frank is finally at peace, but his greatest gift to us is his love. His legacy lives on in his two beautiful children and they will pass that legacy on to their kids.
So, as we celebrated one man, one hero's life, we were all bound together by his love and reminded that...
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Last night as I got home and pulled into my parking spot, a woman was walking up and out of my neighbour's parking spot, and I just thought she was a guest of his. She walked slowly and somewhat strangely, and I realized quickly she was not my neighbour's guest, when I noticed she was barefoot. She appeared to me to possibly be on drugs, and her platinum blonde hair looked like a bad wig, which made me think she might be a working girl. She walked to sit on some steps across the alley way from our building.
I've seen homeless people pass through our alley before and it's no big deal, but this time was different. I could feel that something was not right. When we got to our front door I told Chris I was going to call the police. I didn't know if we had anything to worry about, or if we should be worried about her safety. So, I called the Sheriff's Department right away and told them what I observed. They said they would send someone to check on it, but I still don't know if they ever actually showed up.
As soon as I got off the phone, I started making dinner and wanted to bring a hot sandwich down to her. Our bedroom window faces the alley, so Chris peaked out every now and then, and at one point saw her changing her outfit. It maybe should have dawned on me that she might be changing to leave. By the time I walked back outside with a sandwich and water in hand, she was gone. I checked the steps, I checked between and behind all the cars, I even checked behind the giant mattress someone left outside. My heart sank. Why didn't I ask her right when I realized she was not our neighbour's guest, whether she needed help? Probably the worst that could have come of that would be that she could yell at me, which has happened to me before.
So, I've been beating myself up a bit, because I feel like I failed as a human being. Who knows, maybe asking her if she needed help would have done nothing, but maybe it could have changed everything. I continued to look out our window to see if she might have returned, because I left her sandwich on our dining table until I went to bed. I even went outside once more, but no luck.
All I could do was pray that if she was in need of help she get it, and that she is safe. If I do see her again, I'll surely remember to ask her if she's in need of help.
Remember to be kind to everyone. It never hurts to be kind.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Love, Justine was started to inspire folks to love themselves, and thus be able to love one another. Well, I have a confession to make. I'm not always good at practicing what I preach. If you ever heard the way I've criticized myself and how I have judged myself, you might think I'm an awful, miserable person. It's truly terrible and so unhealthy.
As I've been preparing for Lent, which is finally upon us, I thought very hard about what I was going to do and give up this year. I pondered this for a few months, and one day a light suddenly opened up in my head as if the sun were rising out of it. I said to myself, I am going to give up fat shaming myself, and hating on myself in general. While I'm not berating myself daily, it's not an uncommon thought that crosses my mind, thinking things like "Oh, I hate my body," "I'm so ugly," "Why are my hips so wide and my legs not longer?" and the list goes on.
The level of consciousness I have regarding my body is something that was drilled into my brain as a small child. So, I don't think ever in my life, have I looked at myself and thought, I love my body. Whether I was a size 0 or 4, or a 6 (and I've been all those sizes), there was always room for improvement. It's really sad not to love your body.
Thankfully, when I was in law school I learned how to take care of my body and treat it well. I learned how to eat clean, and not only do workouts that I enjoy, but workout because it makes me feel good and strong, not because I needed to be "skinny." I learned that taking care of the one body I've been blessed with is so important, because I only have one life to live and I need this body to work properly for as long as possible, so I can do all the things I want to do in life.
Still, I've found it very difficult to speak kindly to myself, and to speak to myself with the kind of respect I command and expect from others. When my fiance tells me I'm beautiful, and I have a hard time knowing whether that's true or not, then something is very broken inside. There are a multitude of reasons for this, and I'm not always sure of the starting point of it all, but what I do know is that I don't want to hate myself. I want to love myself wholly, because I know that if I don't then I am robbing myself of love and robbing my loved ones of love they deserve. Moreover, if I ever have a daughter, I would never want her to speak to herself the way I have spoken to myself. It breaks my heart thinking of anyone hating themselves so much.
So, for Lent I am giving up saying the words "I'm fat" and "I'm ugly." Anything that would constitute verbal abuse if it were said to another person, I am refraining from, because it's time to stop verbally abusing myself. Lent is a time for spiritual growth, and that growth requires me to love the way God my made me. I am a confident woman, so I should learn to speak to myself like a confident woman.
Of course, the inevitable question is, "Well after Lent, will you go back to calling yourself fat and ugly?" No. My hope is, and I pray that, during this blessed season, I will build a habit out of loving myself and really learn what it is to love myself. There are other things I will also do to help me really come to my center, like taking Sundays off. For the next 6 weeks I will not check emails or work on Sundays, because this will allow myself to fully rest and be ready to work like a high speed train the rest of the week. More importantly, it'll allow me time to truly be with myself. Giving alms is an important aspect of Lent, so I will also be giving alms in various ways to spread love and joy throughout this season. I am dedicating the next 6 weeks to mending what was broken so long ago and I'm excited to see how I grow in this time.
Observing Lent the way I have set out to do this year is my way of telling God, thank you for creating me, I truly appreciate what you've blessed me with, and I love you. It's also my way of telling myself, "I love you." I cannot keep doing what I'm doing if I do not learn to wholly love myself.
It's time to escape my demons for once and for all.
BIG LOVE & HUGS