Residential Work, Holidays and Hope.

When was the last time you said to yourself, “I am blessed.” 

When was the last time you stopped and thanked God for all you have?

Warm weather, cold weather, struggles, fatigue and laughter, that’s what this month included. It also included Easter – A Holiday based on celebrating the miracle of life, new beginnings, reflection and joy. I knew that I’d be working the Holiday and struggled with it.

But when I woke Easter morning, I got to watch the glorious sun rise above the ocean as I drove into work. It was then that I paused an thanked God for my life, my family and my job. 

sunrise

The view Easter Sunday

The day should have been my usual 8 hour shift as a House Counselor at a residential program for teens. But those of us who work in fields such as Social Work, know that what “should be” is rarely what “is.”

So, as God saw it fit… My 8 hour shift became a hectic 12 hour shift.

Now, we’ve all felt the aggravation of not leaving work on time. The strain of feeling burnt out. The frustration that comes with the unexpected. And the guilt that comes from being away from family for longer than expected (especially on a Holiday). I’m sure we could all find a few choice words for such situations. But for some reason, even as the 10th hour approached, I found myself overcome with grace.

Let me explain. Most of the youth I’ve worked with don’t have the option of going home for the Holidays. Nor do they have family or friends to spend days with. That’s when I realized, I have no idea what it’s like to be in their situation. No right to claim I know what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes. But through that heartache I came to realize – I’m the lucky one. Not because I get to go home at the end of the day or because I have a home to go to. I’m lucky because I’ve gotten to spend many Holidays with individuals from all walks of life. Individuals who have more strength and courage than I will ever know. Individuals who can teach us a thing or two about life. 

On many occasions, especially Holiday’s, while going about my day at work, a single thought crosses my mind – being someone these youth spend the day with is something I should be celebrating, not complaining about. We forget that they’re always watching; other’s are watching. Why shouldn’t we be celebrating moments like these? These youth have so much to give, we should feel blessed to get the opportunity to meet them!

We have all (in some way, shape or form) faced struggles. We all know that person who’s been hurting lately. We have all seen the news stories that break our hearts… this world is hurting. And our youth are trying to “figure it all out.” Now is the time to heal, love and support. Let other’s know they matter.

Anyone and everyone who is facing trials in life, YOU have so much potential and promise. You’re full of purpose – we all are. Too often we speak of changing this world, but so often we forget that changing this world is something we can do everyday. Every minute, we are given the opportunity to make a difference and better this world. Everyday, my job gives me the opportunity to show empathy, joy and dedication. I get to relay the message that there is more than what meets the eye.

Think about it… What message are we sending to our youth and others if we show up angry about needing to work? What hope are we giving them if we make them believe they are just a part of our job? A countdown to the second we can leave and go home? Wouldn’t these thoughts hurt you?

We all matter,” isn’t that what we tell our family & friends? Shouldn’t we let the youth of this world know that they matter too!

They deserve to know that they matter. That they’re important – their story is important. That there is more to them than their past, more than their current situation.

Their life has been hard, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached a dead-end. We aren’t there to make their life harder! We aren’t there to “fix” things – they don’t need to be fixed, they’re not broken! They’ve just been dealt some crap cards. 

What we should do is tell them, “life is hard, but worth working at!” We shouldn’t lie to them and tell them “it’ll be fine,” we don’t know that. What we do know is that life will keep throwing stones. So, let’s remind them that they are capable of making it through whatever predicament they may be facing. Tell them that life sucks and is unfair, let them know that it’s okay to face struggles and to be angry. But bring hope through those words. Honesty and support, it’s what they need, it’s what we all need.

Let them know they can make it! We can hold our heads no higher than theirs. We are all equal. We all deserve time to sort through things and time to start over. We all deserve to know that someone believes in us.

Whether we’re family, friends, coworkers or complete strangers, we all deserve to know that there will always be someone to share the day (or Holiday) with.

We cannot let the beautiful people in this world believe they are “paperwork.” They are not another section on our resume or just another speck on the map. They are human beings. They are just as important (if not more) than you and I. They have feelings just as we do. They have hopes and dreams for themselves. So please, let’s take this opportunity to help them get through it, teach them ways they can continue to healthily survive, give them “tools” they can use in the future. Life is a battle no one should have to face alone.

All that being said, from my heart to yours – I trust you are able to face daily struggles with a sense of hope. I pray you find peace within yourself and through the presence of others. I believe you are stronger than you know. And most of all, I hope you know you are never alone.

From one stranger to another, I am so proud of you for being alive,

Kylie

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“From one simple life to another, I will say, ‘Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things, I already know. God’s got his hand on you, so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray.'” -Sidewalk Prophets

“With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

Debating on what to write, I felt the sudden urge to write about the simple act of living. 

We’ve all had those moments when wake up feeling completely alive – ready to take on the day! But then there’s the days when we don’t know how to express ourselves, when we’re unsure of how we’re feeling. Sometimes, the weight of the world is just too much and staying in bed to avoid the world feels like the best option. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, it’s then I find myself trying to push those dark thoughts/feeling away and I force myself to accept the day for what it is – Another chance.

Often times I think we forget that every day is an opportunity, a chance, a miracle. We all have a clock ticking over our heads – and no clue how much time is actually left. So, why do so many of us live as if we’ll live forever?

The song “I Lived” by OneRepublic is just that, a reminder that we should be living each and every day (every second) to its fullest, grateful for whatever it gives us.

Listen to their song (this is a lyric video someone made to it)

Now take a moment and think about the lyrics…

“Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall”:

Take the jump, just do it. If you don’t, if you keep your feet on the ground, think about all you could miss out on. There’s a reason behind why you want to, if there wasn’t, you wouldn’t even think about it. If you fear the outcome, that’s okay… that’s normal.

“Hope when the water rises, you build a wall”:

The water will rise, it’s a part of life. So when it does, build that wall. Maybe it’ll tower high over the water, keeping you safe! Maybe it’ll be just tall enough to keep the water at bay, giving you some ease from any anxiety you may feel. Maybe it wasn’t tall enough, maybe the water spilled over anyway – Don’t worry, it’s giving you time to figure it out. Or maybe, just maybe, the water came too quickly and you barely got your wall started before it hit you. Don’t stress, we’ve all been there! We’ve faced that struggle when the water was just too fast, the wall wasn’t strong or tall enough. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that in time (sometimes a long time), a life boat will come by – sometimes it will be accompanied with family or a friend. But it’s when it comes by that we should reach out, take the help that’s offered (even if we don’t want to), because it’s then we’re reminded that we’re still here!

Give yourself a break, remember that no matter how your wall turned out, the important thing is that you tried. Maybe you stayed safe, or maybe you had to tread water for a while… either way, you did it!

“Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name”:

Sometimes, that crowd is loud and clear, screaming support. Other times that crowd seems silent and still. No matter who you are, know you have a crowd, even if you firmly believe you don’t, you do. Someone is rooting for you, cheering you on – really. You just have to be willing to accept it and hear it, even if it’s hard. 

“Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay”:

Stand brave. This can get tricky. Sometimes, there will be people behind you. And in the moment when you can’t see them, when you feel you’re the only one standing firm while everyone else runs, wanna know where those people are? They’re directly behind you, out of sight, they’re helping you stand tall. Other times, you will be the only one standing. You will be alone. But that’s when your voice is loudest. If everyone else running, they may bump into you… but some will also see you, recognize how grounded you are, and at times, it will change their minds. Sometimes, it only takes one. 

“Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad”:

Oh gosh. Love. It can be so beautiful, but it can also be so painful. Whether it’s the love of another being, the love of a pet, or something else. Love is powerful. Love and it’s complicated-ness should be experienced by all. When you fear it – jump anyway. After all, it’s called “falling in love” for a reason right? It’s a time of learning and growth for everyone, so work at it. Find that person or thing that pushes your buttons but makes you smile at the same time… if it ends in heartache, don’t give up. It may only be the beginning for you!

“And I hope that you don’t suffer, but take the pain”:

It’s mind over matter. After all,you may not be able to control every situation and its outcome, but you can control your attitude and how you deal with it.

“I wish that I could witness, all your joy and all your pain”:

This is our opportunity to let others know we care, even from a distance. Let them know that you’re there for all of it. We are each others witness’ for all the crazy parts of life. All the joy, pain, chaos and clutter. We may face things separately but we’re all in it together. 

“And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup”:

There’s my favorite part of the entire song. People – Celebrate. Really! Stop reading this (well, not really lol), but stop busying yourself with more and think about your day, your week. What did you do today? Did you work? Exercise? Read or write? Did you work on a DIY project? Did you cook or clean? Or maybe some homework? Maybe you saved a life today, or overcame a struggle. The simple act of opening your eyes is an accomplishment to celebrate! You did it – YOU survived another day. Be proud, spread that strength. Individually, we make up this world. Don’t let people’s accomplishments (large or small) go unnoticed.

Me, You, They, We = light. We are our own ray of sunshine. We are each a color from the color wheel, painting this giant canvas called life. With every choice we make, we cover this world with beauty.

Now, the chorus:

“When the moment comes
You’ll say… [I’ll say…]

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived”:

Live. Just live. Life is cruel but honest. It continues on, constantly changing because that’s what we do. We are given endless opportunities. The real question is, did we take them? There is a reason behind every choice we make, every place we visit, every broken bone.

Sometimes, the choices we make lead to heartache, pain and confusion. But in those moments we’re able to learn. We learn how to move on and heal, who to lean on, who we can trust. Those “broken bones” can heal, they will heal, if we let them. And sometimes, to our surprise, they grow back stronger than they were before.

Oh and did you catch on to the theme radiating throughout the song? Hope. Simply that.

Never forget, our stories will live on through the lives we’ve touched.

So do it all, get off your butt! Go outside and just breathe in the possibilities! 

Go on, I DARE you…

Believe in yourself and DARE to live!

From one stranger to another, I am so proud of you for being alive,

Kylie