Daily Gratitude #1

My Body’s Abilities: Although today I’m around 15.83 years old, I still haven’t been able to say that I love myself and my appearance with utter honesty, but I love what my body accomplishes daily. I can walk up stairs, listen to music while I solve problems from my geometry book, sing along with my favorite Marina and the Diamonds tracks, wiggle my toes, show countless emotions with the muscles on my face, and hug the people I care for. There are several small doors to happiness that I get to open every day and it’s all due to the fact that my body knows how to do its thing. My heart pumps blood like a champion, my brain interprets information at impeccable speeds, and my fingers can do ab crunches without breaking a sweat. This vessel is the medium through which I experience all the wonderful things life has to offer, and I love it for that purpose.

April 13th, 2014

Less than two weeks ago, I agreed to spend nineteen hours of my spring break babysitting at my mock trial coach’s church. He offered to pay ten dollars an hour, and because I’ve been looking for a way to earn money to save up for a ukelele, I was immediately drawn to the offer. After all, my family didn’t have any sort of vacation planned, so I’d be spending that time lying in my bed scrolling through tumblr anyway. Taking the offer would also mean I’d have a motive to get up in the morning and get other things done, because I’d be working from six to nine, sunday through thursday, and two to six on friday. The only moments I regret are moments I could have spent doing something productive.

Now, I wouldn’t admit say I’m horrible with children, but trying to understand what goes on in the mind of a four-year-old is excruciatingly frustrating for me. I can handle third-graders and older, but anyone younger than that makes me feel like I’m trying to speak to an angry troll who’s either deaf or indifferent to life until I mention animal crackers. Luckily, I had already babysat at that church two or three times, so I knew the building. I also knew that I’d have one or two more volunteers helping me keep an eye on the munchkins. I knew that if there were more than twenty kids we’d split up the rooms by age. If it came to this, I’d take the oldest of the bunch. I’d be safe and secure and free from toddler tantrums.

What I didn’t know, pulling up to the church parking lot twenty minutes early with a backpack full of goodies every fourth-grader would give up a klondike bar for, was that I would not have any of those things today. Instead of using the bible study classrooms, I’d be using the entirety of the church basement, which was a dining hall longer than my house at its widest points. Instead of having a miniature crew to keep a group of kids happy and bruise-free, I’d be alone. Instead of a handful of fourth and fifth graders, I’d have a team of three-year-old assassins trained to murder my can-do spirit in sixty minutes or less.

If I were an animal in the wild this would be my moment of choosing between fight or flight…and I’d run away from that church so fast I’d make cheetahs the second fastest land animals. Sadly, though, I am not a shapeshifter and/or gold medalist Usain Bolt, so my running skills would not take me very far. I had to face reality.

Somehow I made it out that nightmare alive, and that alone was remarkable enough to make me want to write about it, but on my way home I wondered why I refused to ever put myself in a situation like this in the past. The fact that I’m the youngest of four siblings has given me a lot of opportunities but also deprived me of crucial life skills, the most obvious being the skill of dealing with small beings. But even then, I wasn’t very social with my baby cousins or the younger girls my family would look after.

There are definitely several different factors that play into this, but I’m certain that my fear of not being in control is one of them. I’m afraid of being powerless. I’m afraid of having my voice pushed aside without a second thought. I’m afraid of oceans too, but that’s for another time.

If I want to be confident, if I want to be able to reach audiences of all ages, if I want to be fluid, I have to learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. There are far too many possibilities I’ve closed myself off from because of nervousness, doubt, and unwillingness to step outside of my comfort zone. Although it seems silly to regard a babysitting job to such high importance, I acknowledge that this is the first step to being a better speaker, listener, writer, performer, and poet.

March 30th, 2014

The past few months I’ve tried to keep an optimistic outlook on life, but my skeptical nature always brings me back to reality. If it’s possible to have the ability to see the bright side of every situation, however hopeless the situation really is, I haven’t figured out the technique yet…but I’ll keep trying. When you’ve lived your life with certain mindset, it’s difficult to transition to a different one, but it doesn’t necessarily make it impossible.

Educating myself on social injustices is the main reason I can’t just smile about everything. Even knowing that, though, I wouldn’t go back to the time when I was ignorant. My ignorant bliss isn’t worth denying the existence of human struggles.

Maybe optimism doesn’t mean pretending you’re oblivious to these problems. Maybe it means acknowledging their existence and working towards a better future. Realizing there’s enough evil in the world, so in return dedicating ourselves to spreading love and happiness.

After writing out my thoughts, I’ve realized that that is my ultimate mission. To spread positive vibes and combat the negatives.

To begin, I’ll have to start with practicing self love, because you can’t spread peace if you’re not at peace with yourself, and you can’t learn to love another if you haven’t first learned to love yourself.

I’m starting today.