Brutal Honesty and Kindness

I’m a little late to this conversation, but I think I’ve finally pulled my thoughts together enough to write something cohesive. I’m sure that many of you have seen the video that was made by Nicole Arbour titled “Dear Fat People” and if you haven’t then I’ll just give you a quick rundown of what it said. This video was essentially a hate letter to “fat people” that was then played off as “humor.” I’ll be honest, I was pretty upset after watching this video. The thought that someone who has so much influence in the social media sector could just go and spew hate all over the internet and that it could get over six million views.

What I did think was amazing was the overwhelming number of responses to this video where people were speaking love and truth. I really loved what Tessa Violet had to say on this topic. Check out her video below.

What Tessa talks about is why we should choose kindness. And the position that she represents is not “Eh, we should choose kindness because, why not?” But she poses the question “Is there really any reason that we should not choose kindness?” And I think this applies to so much of life.

Since we were freshman in high school, Meesh has always told me:

I will never tell my kids to be nice, they will learn to be kind.

And that is something I will remember for my whole life. You see, kindness is not just an action, kindness is an indication of how you view and respect other people. When we look as all people as individuals and when we choose to respect them we cannot help but be kind. Kindness can be as simple as showing regard for someone’s feelings. Kindness is not always sunshine and roses, but kindness is always best. I read a lot of horse books when I was growing up (every little girl goes through a horse phase, OK? Mine was just longer than a lot of people’s) and there were many times when a horse was injured so bad that it had to be euthanized. The thing the vet would always say to the crying heroine of the book was “it was the kindest thing to do.” And this comforting, fictional vet was right. Kindness was the hardest choice to make, but it looked at the feelings of all those involved and decided what was best.

Whether or not we acknowledge it, we do this every time we speak or act. In a split second we catalogue the effects of what we’re about to do and then we decide. I know, sometimes you think before you speak (I am endlessly guilty of this), but typically we know what someone’s reaction to our words or actions might be before we do them. And here’s where I want to talk about Brutal Honesty.

Carrie Hope Fletcher did this amazing video on this topic.

Carrie’s main point is that there is almost never a time where you need to be “brutally honest” with someone. Now, there are a lot of people who have spoken truth into my life (often when I least want to hear it) in pretty straightforward ways: my mom, Meesh, Cindy, Penelope, Grace. And even though it has sometimes been hard to hear those truths I’d be willing to say that it’s never been “brutal” because I have always know that these truths are coming from a place of love.

Honesty should always be rooted in love. If what you are pointing out to someone is not so that you can see them become a better person or because you are honestly concerned about them then it’s not being honest, it’s being a jerk. It’s one thing to pull someone aside to say they have their skirt tucked into their tights (the number of times I’ve nearly walked out of the bathroom with my butt hanging out is ungodly) and another thing to yell it loudly across the hallway. Maybe you’re right in both situations, but one of them is showing kindness and the other is being an ass.

No person is perfect, and I know that I’ve been guilty of being hurtful in the name of “honesty” but this is something I have worked really hard to not do because I’ve seen just how damaging it can be. Maybe it’s really naive of me to think that all people should be in the business of building one another up, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to live like that. So the next time you go to say something “brutally honest” stop and ask yourself why you’re saying it in the first place.

Love you!

Abby

The best summer. 42 to go…

So it’s my last night of summer. Part of me is really excited for school to start again, I’ve been back at school for five days and I’ve really been enjoying that, but part of me is really sad to see this summer end. It’s been an absolutely amazing summer. I made new friends, I went on adventures, I fell in love. It’s been great. It’s the sort of summer I don’t want to end. So I’m going to reminisce.

I had the distinct pleasure of working with four lovely women this summer: Laura, Ashley, Ali, and Keely. I seriously could not have made it through this summer without these girls. They listened to all of my stupid drama, they laughed with me, they helped me up when I fell, and they just did life with me. These girls made work and life so much sweeter.Friends80Ali, Me, Keely, Laura after we all went out for dinner one night.

The highlight of my summer was my week-long mental vacation that I took back in July. I spent some time at two different camps, observing, speaking, sleeping, and relaxing. I was so blessed to spend time with some very dear people and to have some time to just rest and pray and put my life back in order.

20140724_153329This is me and my dear friend Cindy at the beach at the second camp I went to.

I got to spend a good bit of time with my gorgeous best friends this summer. Penelope, Meesh, Rachel, Nicole, Karrisa. I don’t know what I would have done without them to keep me occupied and crazy this summer. I love them all so dearly.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetPenelope, Me, and Ben at the Ren Faire dressed as Amy Pond, The Tenth Doctor, and The Eleventh Doctor.20140720_121747Meesh and I being cute as bagels, cause that’s what we do.

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My girls Rachel, Karrisa, and Nicole. What would I do without them?

I’m constantly blessed by the family I was put in. It was not always easy this summer, but I know that I can always count on these five people. I love them more than I could ever say.

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Dad, Me, Jonathan, Daniel, Mom, Kayra. They’re just the best.

Lastly, I fell in love this summer. I fell in love with a boy who makes me laugh, makes me feel special, teaches me knew things, makes me blush, and makes me so incredibly happy. A boy with gorgeous eyes, and strong shoulders who thinks before he speaks and is wickedly talented. A boy who’s hand fits perfectly in mine and who makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. A boy who I could write about endlessly. I’m so thankful for the joy and excitement he has brought into my life.

I really didn’t have high expectations for this summer, in fact I was prepared for it to suck. But it was so full of joy and learning. It’s the sort of summer I want to remember forever. The summer of 19. It was a good one.

Tell me about your summer! What did you do? What were your highlights? I want to know!!

Love you!

Abby

I don’t know. 45 to go…

I’m living in a perpetual state of “I don’t know” right now.

I’ve been really struggling through some hard feelings recently and the hardest thing about feeling these things is that I don’t know why I feel the way I do. I just broke down the other night and in trying to explain to my parents what I was feeling all I could say was “I don’t know, I just don’t know.” I know that life is good, and that I’m blessed and loved, but that doesn’t make these horrible, irrational feelings any better. If anything, knowing that my life is so good makes it worse, it makes me feel guilty for feeling so horrible all the time. My wonderful best friend Meesh said the most meaningful thing to me last night, she looked at me and said “this is not your fault, this is not some weakness that you have, this is just a hard thing in life that you are going through,” and I’ve never been that happy to hear anything in my life.

I’m also really struggling through one particular relationship in my life which has left me in a constant state of “I don’t know.” As Meesh and I talked last night she had lots of valid questions about this relationship and I just had no answers.
What do you want from this? I don’t know.
How do you feel? I don’t know.
Where is this going? I don’t know.
Do you think this is smart? I don’t know.
GUH I JUST DON’T KNOW

My mentor wants to know where I’m at spiritually and I just don’t know. However, I’m starting to understand this one better. I feel far from God, and for the first time, I feel like I’m not the one who moved. I feel abandoned and lonely a good bit of the time. I’m finding it really hard to not blame God for all of the confusion, frustration, and hurt that I’m feeling right now. It’s really hard to see how God is working this one together for good, it just hurts.

I find myself saying over and over “I just don’t know,” about the hard and important things in my life. I don’t know what I want, I don’t know how I feel, I don’t know why I feel what I do, I don’t know where I am, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to get out of bed, I don’t know.

I wanted to take a second to thank everyone for the encouragement that you’ve been to me. The comments, the e-mails, the Tumblr posts, they all mean so much to me. Thank you so much for sticking with me through this hard time. In these past couple of weeks it has been really hard to see the light at the end of this tunnel, but your support has meant so much to me. Thank you.

Love you!

Abby

Deeply Happy. 57 to go…

I’ve been going to a women’s Bible study at my college since the beginning of this semester and last night we just all decided to get coffee together and just talk about our weeks and about what we’ve been learning this semester. As I was sitting there, drinking green tea, listening to these beautiful women share about their lives I was suddenly overcome with how full of joy I was that I teared up a little bit. I felt so happy and fulfilled that I just couldn’t contain it. We always share our highs and lows of the week and it just occurred to me that my week had been so full of highs that I just couldn’t choose one and I must have talked for ten minutes about how incredible my weekend was. It’s the kind of thing I never want to forget, so I’ll share it with you:

It rained all day Friday, which usually would make me sad but it means that Spring is on its way which makes me so incredibly happy. My lovely friend Zoë, who I went to high school with, came to visit my college and we sat in my room for a couple of hours and talked about all sorts of things while I cleaned my room. We then went to Cru and that was wonderful. Afterwards we went to Jay’s and just spent a couple of hours there hanging out and laughing. Being there always reminds me of long hours spent at the Cocoa Diner eating rice pudding with Meesh. We then went back to my room and watched 21 and Over which wasn’t a fantastic movie but was absolutely hilarious. Then a very dear friend called me to tell me she had a boyfriend now and I was so happy for her that I actually screamed and did a happy dance* for her. I ended up hanging out with my roommate and dear friends David and Graham into the wee hours of the morning.

*I just want to write a little more about this, I actually cannot say how happy I am for her. I am absolutely overcome with joy for her. For years I have been jealous of her ability to calm, cool, and collected around Guys because it is a skill that I generally don’t have. I’ve also spent a lot of time being jealous of her ability to be attractive without trying. In the past it has been really difficult for me to not be a little bitter when my friends were in relationships when I was so hopelessly single, but for the first time in my life I don’t feel like that. I mean, I want a relationship like the one she has, but I’m not jealous. You have no idea how freeing it is to feel like this, being free of the burden of jealousy and bitterness. I never want to stop feeling this way. I am so happy, so so happy for her. Honestly, I might be happier than she is.

I woke up around noon on Saturday and spent the whole afternoon showering, relaxing, and getting ready for the Cru formal which was that evening. It was a good couple of hours of quality time with my roommate as she coached me through how to put myself together in the most time efficient manner.

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I’d say she did a pretty good job. I actually love this dress so much because it makes 
me feel like the world’s most fabulous disco ball.

We then drove the the beautiful golf club where the formal was held, ate great food, and had a hilarious time sitting and laughing.

10247342_10152729594944972_2146947927_nMy stunning friends: Katie, Nathan, Sarah, Jamie, Aaron, Collin, David, and my right eye. Our dinner conversation centered around BibleMan, first date foods, and Meat Forks.

After watching some skits we celebrated the graduating seniors which always makes me tear up, even if I don’t know them. Maybe that’s just because graduating was so stinkin’ emotional for me. We then proceeded to dance the night away. It was honestly one of the most fun dances I’ve ever been to in my life and it felt vaguely reminiscent of Homeschool Prom where everyone was dancing and laughing and having a fantastic time. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better evening. We then drove back to campus and** watched Donnie Darko in my room before passing out.

**Driving in my high heels and my sparkly dress in my little red car made me feel a little bit like a secret agent in a really awesome kind of way. I wanted to turn up the music and drive for miles and miles until I was somewhere interesting where the sun was rising. I don’t know what it is about driving in the dark that makes me want to drive at a hundred miles an hour down country roads and look at the stars. It makes me want to roll the windows down and turn the heat the whole way up.

Sunday morning I woke up late for church and went to church with my wonderful friend, David, and then we spent the entire afternoon sitting outside, doing homework, listening to good music, and enjoying the Sunshine and the warmth. I didn’t get as much work done as I would have, but as a good friend once said “productivity is relative.” It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

All in all it was just a beautiful weekend. I’m realizing more and more that I feel so fulfilled in the relationships I have and in my life in general. The new friendships I’m forming are starting to remind me of the beautiful and deep friendships I have at home. I’m so thankful for where I am in life at this point and I’m beginning to see my place here.

I’m just so happy. Not a surface level the-sun-is-up kind of happy, but a deep in-the-back-corners-of-my-soul kind of happy. Maybe it isn’t happiness at all. Maybe it’s a Peace about life and a Joy in living it.

Love you so much!!

Abby

62 to go…

How do I explain how I’m feeling? Yesterday I was on top of the world and everything was so beautiful and today I feel so deeply deeply broken. I am so incredibly homesick. I want to go home a sleep in my bed and see my parents and my siblings at my cat and my friends. I want to go to my church and have a place to cry.

The worst thing about college is that there’s no place that is yours. There’s no where to run to when you need a good cry. There are no good hugs. There are no home cooked meals.

My best friend left for Spain today. This shouldn’t be a big deal. She’s already hundreds of miles away and I know she’ll be back, but the thought of not talking to her for ten days is almost unbearable. I miss her so much.

I feel so damn out of control of my emotions. One minute I am so happy and so alive and the next I’m crashing and I feel like I’m dying. The biggest thing I feel is that no one understands. I can’t put into words how ugly and confused I feel. Why is this happening to me? How can the sun make me feel like there’s still hope and beauty in the world and the rain can suck ever last bit of joy out of my heart? I feel like I’m crazy. Like I’m out of control and just losing my mind.

I pray and pray and pray for this stupid sadness to end. For this unexplainable and seemingly unfounded grief to stop. It’s not like I have a reason to feel this way. I know that life is so good. I know that the world is such a beautiful place and I know that I’m deeply loved. So why don’t I feel it? Why can happiness just dry up?

For this second, I feel fine. Like the sadness has passed, but it always comes back. Like a clenching fist in my gut trying to pull the breath right out of my lungs.

Why this God? Why this? And why me? I want something or someone to blame. I want a reason for feeling this way. Grief is bearable when you know its source, but I have no answers. I have no reason. Nothing happened. No one died, no one broke up with me, no one said anything hurtful. I just feel.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to call. I want a hug and some warm tea. I want to go to bed and never get out.

There’s nothing poetic about pain like this. Nothing beautiful to write about lost love or shattered dreams. This is ugly, confused, broken, angry pain. The kind you bury deep down and don’t tell anyone about for fear of the judgement and the misunderstanding. It’s the kind of pain you try to explain away with a lack of sleep or overly active hormones or just a bad day. But it’s the kind of pain that has no explanation.

I’m sorry.

Dive in. 69 to go…

I would never consider myself an “artsy” person (mostly because I’m a terrible artist,) but I have a love for making things and and doing new projects.

I’m just a lover of the new and the exciting. I love to experiment and research and create. 

But here’s the thing, I don’t believe in easing myself into things. I believe in diving into projects head first. No room to back out, I don’t always think ahead, I seldom have a plan (just ask my parents about this one.)

So I’m jumping into something this semester. Not an art project or a silly whim, I’m jumping into my Faith. Cru, Bible Study, Church. I’m jumping in. I’m immersing myself. No testing the water. No making excuses. No backing out.

You see, if I’m not 100% committed to doing something then I can talk myself out of it.
I have too much homework.
I need to study.
I’m really tired.
I should clean my room.
There will be other weeks.
It can wait.

It can wait.

But it can’t. I can’t. If this means to me what I say it means to me then it cannot wait. I have to get involved and I have to do it today. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Today.

The friendships that we choose to prioritize in our lives are the ones that thrive and help us develop as people. They are the friendships that come to mean the most to us. This is how I need to approach my Faith. I need to give it the thought, the time, the energy it deserves. The key is to make it a priority.

We always have priorities. We can’t help it. We naturally put things above others.
Family
Friends
Comfort
Desires
Money
School

I look at my priorities from last semester and I know that I was putting myself and what I wanted above everything else. I was so selfish and self absorbed and I didn’t even notice. I felt the distance and the conflict in my Heart, but I couldn’t figure out why. I felt a deep sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction. I don’t know what caused me to realize it, it might have just been the time to rest and be with the people who know me best in the world, but I’m so glad that I did. I was so blessed by my time at home.

I went to CORE a couple of times while I was home and was reminded that I just don’t belong there any more but also that I miss it so much. I miss the laughter, the friendships, the growth. I visited Meesh and went to her Christian Fellowship group at her college. It reminded me so much of the friendships and experiences I had at CORE and gave me an idea of how relationships like that can be made outside of my group of CORE friends. It gives me hope for having friends like that at my college.

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Visiting Meesh

But I’m beginning to feel good. Really good. So good.

Random Fact of the Day- Crows can recognize human faces and hold grudges against humans they don’t like.

So here’s to diving in,

Love you!!

Abby

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Here are a couple of the crazy art projects I’ve tried over the years:IMG_20140122_211405
Wire working

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Painting                                                 Making chalkboard paint

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Melting Crayons with a hot glue gun 

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Homemade eye makeup

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Fabric dying and painting

 

CORE, Growing Up, Poetry, and other Stuff. 70 to go…

I have about a billion things rolling around in my head right now, things that are long enough to write half a paragraph about, but not long enough to elaborate on. So this is going to be one of those stream of consciousness (a word I can never spell right,) kind of posts.

CORE Reaction was this weekend, and this is the first time in five years that I haven’t gone. It’s been incredible to see pictures, blog posts, FaceBook statuses and so much more about it from my friends back home. It seems like it was an incredible weekend and I’m so glad to hear about all the things everyone learned and experienced, at the same time I can’t help but be jealous. CORE was one of the places where I grew the most and made the most incredible friends I’ve ever had. I wish I had been able to be there with everyone.

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Meesh and I from last year’s CORE React. Aren’t we just so cute?

In thinking back to last year’s retreat I reread my post about it from last year (check that out here) and couldn’t help but feel that I’ve been in a similar place recently. A place where I’ve been running away from the big things, the scary things, the hard things. Running from the people who don’t say the easy things, running from hard conversations, running from reality, and running from consequences. I think I’ve been making steps back to where I want to be over the past couple weeks. (These New Semester Resolutions are doing me good.) It’s just a reminder of where I’m coming from and where I’m trying to go.

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Last year’s group from CORE React. I’ve been blessed time and time again to know these people and grow along side of them. 

I did a really scary thing this week. I went to church by myself for the first time in my life. If you know me at all or have been reading for a long time then you know that I’m a pastor’s kid and a missionary’s kid. I’ve pretty comfortable in churches. I’ve spent a lot of time standing up in front of churches speaking, singing, acting, or just watching my parents speak. But it’s totally different when you are by yourself. No parents to follow, no friends to sit with, no acquaintances (another word I can’t ever spell) to smile at. But that’s what I wanted. I wanted to go in by myself so that I would have no distractions. I’ve only visited one church, but I love it there. It’s very similar to my church back home and I think it’s a great fit for me. In the end I’m so glad that I went.

In looking for the two photos I posted above I had to scroll past hundreds and hundreds of pictures from the past year and I was filled with joy and great memories as I scrolled through a visual representation of my life. My birthday party, The Fifth, Roxbury, my last Choir Concert, my first visit to the College I’m now attending, Homeschool Prom, my Last Day of High School, Graduation, Haiti, College adventures, Ever After, Christmas, and so many other random moments in between.

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Graduation with Meesh

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My Music Theory class on  the Last Day of High School

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Homeschool Prom with Erika, Penny, me, Meesh, and Tabitha.

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The Fifth with Kayla, Zach, Josh, me, and Bethany.

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Food after our last Choir Concert.

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Haiti, where I left a piece of my heart. 

It’s occurred to me that I don’t look like these pictures anymore. My hair has slowly changed color with less dye and more Dirty Hippie magic, I’ve gotten new glasses that I like enough to wear all the time, I’ve started wearing homemade makeup (maybe I’ll talk about that later. Email me if you wanna know about this,) my fashion sense (or lack there of,) has changed. It’s also occurred to me that it’s not just that I look different, but that I am different. I’m just not the same person I used to be. I’ve grown, experienced, seen, changed, felt, read, listened, learned.

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Because I don’t believe in attractive selfies, this is the best I could find.
Love these three. Me, Zach, Meesh, and Josh.

I’ve always preferred reading poetry to writing it (“Hazel Grace, you are the only teenager in America who prefers reading poetry to writing it. This tells me so much. You read a lot of capital-G great books, don’t you?“) So I brought back some of my favorite poetry books from home, and I’m just reminded of all the things I love. But now I’ve got all these words floating around in my head. I feel like I need to write something, I just have to get around to it.

Here’s a favorite poem of mine:

As a child I walked
with noisy fingers 

along the hemline
of so many meadows
back home

Green fabric
stretched out
   shy earth
   shock of sky

I’d sit on logs like pulpits
listen to the sermon
of sparrows
and find god in Simplicity
there amongst the dandelion
and thorn

Mission of the Day- Find me a Poem!!

Love you!!!

Abby