brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart


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A Letter to My 12-Year-Old Sister About Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About

Dear Little Sister,

You just finished 6th grade! Congratulations, you’re officially half-way through your childhood– wait, WHAT? This letter couldn’t be coming at a better time for you! Being well into my adult-hood (although I try to stay young, and you help me do that– especially since we wear the same size clothes), I believe I can offer you a little insight about what you’ve already experienced and what you have around the corner. Ready? Here we go!

1. Mom and Dad

Mom and dad are really great. They each have certain things about them that make them really AWESOME people. You might not feel that way right now because they’re always telling you to clean your room or practice piano, but they really are doing it because they love you and they want to see you succeed. I know that sounds corny, but you have to trust me- I’m your older sister.  It might seem like sometimes they’re just giving you work to do they don’t want to do. Guess what? They are, and they can. They’ve earned that right. It might suck, but that’s part of earning your kid stripes.

Mom and dad really are awesome people, and they’re really, really smart. They’re not going to make you do something that’s going to hurt you, but they’re trying to teach you things about what it means to grow up. Trust them. They know what they’re doing.

2. School

STUDY. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I know it seems pointless sometimes and a lot of times, teachers just give you busy work. But here’s the deal- YOU HAVE TO DO IT IF YOU WANT TO GET ANYWHERE. Not only will doing your homework teach you the material you’re learning, but it’ll also teach you about discipline, time management, and prioritization. None of this means anything to you right now, but I promise it will.

Being able to bounce back is a really good skill, but don’t use it a lot. In 7th grade advanced math, at mid-quarter I had 14 late or missing assignments and I still pulled out a B in that class. What did that teach me? Nothing, except the realization that I could finagle my way out of almost any situation and still be above average. While this is respectable, it’s not admirable. Strive to be admirable. Show us what you can do because you can, not because you have to.

One last thing- do everything you can to be amazing. Study hard. Be involved. You know why? Not only will this just continue to prove to everyone that you are, in fact, AWESOME, but you’ll also start applying for college someday (the money talk is next… get ready), and the more free college you can get because you’re awesome, the better. Make schools WANT you to come to their school. Make them WANT your awesomeness. Because, girl, you are.

3. Money

Money sucks. And it’s only going to get worse. Here are my rules– pay attention.

– SAVE. SAVE. SAVE. Save your money. You’ll thank me and yourself later.

– Students loans are terrible, but they’re a reality. This is why you need to do awesome in school– the less student loan debt you have, the better. Trust me- my student loan debt is the reason you won’t be an aunt or sister-in-law for a very, VERY long time.

– Be responsible. Don’t be impulsive. Your good credit (once you have some) is next to Godliness. Be careful.

– Money is not the end of the world or the defining quality of a good life. If you’re responsible with your money, you’re paying your bills, and you don’t have much money left but you’re happy, that’s all that matters. Money will not make you happy. As long as you’re living the life you want, and you’re happy with who you are and what you’re doing, that’s what matters.

4. Friends

Some friends stay forever. Some friends stay for a week. Friends will hurt you. Friends will love you. All of the experiences you have with your friends will become a part of who you are, and you, in turn, will be a part of who your friends are. I have three best friends (and they might not even know who they are), but I have a small group of really close friends, too. Each of my friends has turned me into the person I am, and the person I’m continuing to grow to be. You’re young, you have a lot of growing left to do.

If a friend hurts you, make sure you forgive them. But you also need to remember that you’re worth being treated like gold. If you’re friends don’t respect your, or use you, or hurt you constantly, make sure you know that you deserve better than that, and that  maybe it’s ok to walk away from that relationship. This way, you can invest more in the friends who love you and care about you and will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. But make sure you’re the best friend you can be to your friends, too. Respect and love in friendships is a two-way street.

5. Boys/Love

This is last because it’s the least important. I know you’re not experiencing it much now, but you’ll start (sooner than I’d like). First of all, boys are dumb. They’ll never understand what is going on in your head, so don’t expect them to. Second, boys aren’t worth it. Guys are almost worth it. Men are sometimes worth it. You have TOO MUCH to focus on right now (and through high school) to get caught up in “boy” drama. Wait until you meet a man… then come to me and I’ll let you know if it’s time and if he’s good enough for you.

No boy/guy/man is worth your tears. If they’re not nice to you, get out right away. Make sure that if whatever feelings you have for him aren’t mutual that you either tell him that, or get out. Your broken heart or his broken heart isn’t worth the dragging out of something that isn’t there– TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.

Don’t let mom, dad, grandma, or any of our aunts or uncles make you feel bad about your relationships or lack thereof. Eventually, you’ll be smart enough to make your own decisions without knowing that your family is judging your every word or move. Your relationships are YOUR relationships– not anyone else’s… except I expect to be overly involved. I can. I’m your big sister.

Little Sister, you are so incredible, and you don’t even know it yet. You’re not even your whole person yet! That’s what’s so exciting about being 12. You have so much time to make mistakes and correct them, and to make masterpieces and enjoy them.

In closing, here are the things I love about you, because sometimes it’s nice to hear things like that:

1. Your loving heart

2. Your willingness to try new things

3. Your excitement to learn about new things

4. Your beautiful artistic abilty

5. Your musical ability

6. Your creative spirit

7. Your unconditional love for people (sometimes to a fault)

8. Your beautiful smile

9. The fact that you are a bed hog

10. I love that you laugh at my jokes

Dream big. Be awesome.

Love,

Your Big Sister

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Morning Walk Musings: To Be Loved

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Obviously, this means that I want to spend as much time outside as possible, so I started walking this week. My first day of walking was Sunday. I walked almost 10 miles between two different trips outside.

This past weekend and early part of this week has been particularly trying so I’ve been finding solace in putting in my ear-buds and drowning out the world. That’s why I had no problem spending almost four hours outside on Sunday. On my second walk that day, I went a route I knew but had never walked before. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I came across this message in the pavement: Image

It might be hard to read, but this is what it says: I wanted to tell you the name of the street where I crashed my bicycle, got my best scar, or how I went walking at sunrise to see dawn’s great evacuation of star. There must be some method, when two people meet, to explain to each other who we really are.

This got me thinking, first of all, about relationships and how we allow them to develop in our  lives. What does it mean to know someone? What does it mean to care about someone? What does that look like for us as someone who cares, but also what does it look like for someone who is being cared for? Although an important conversation, it’s one saved for another time. The other thing this made me think about is my last post that listed things that made me who I am. In the middle of this unexpected existential moment, I realized that this pavement poem could have been written about me. I remember crashing my bike and I have scars. But the other thing I realized is that I haven’t seen a sunrise in a long time, so I decided that I was going to start getting up in the mornings to go walking. Not only would this be a healthy choice, but I’d be able to watch the sunrise… while walking around a lake. I just described what I’m pretty sure heaven is like.

So, to the musings from this morning…

It was about 5:45am and I’m 2/3 the way through my walk as I walk past the Como Lake Pavilion. Normally, I wouldn’t stop because I wouldn’t have a reason to, but this morning, this caught my eye:Image

It was surrounded by a few other chalk drawings, but this one was the largest art piece on the sidewalk. It also happened to be the message I needed to hear. Like I said, I had a difficult weekend. Work, relationships, a never-ending concern about what the future looks like… you know, all the normal stuff that normally fill my relatively large plate, but this weekend, I had a buffet’s worth. I’m not sure if it hurt or helped that Pastor Jon’s sermon could have been written for me, and I cried through the whole thing. So yeah, a pretty difficult weekend despite the comfort that people were attempting to surround me with. It wasn’t until this morning that I really felt it all come together.

Unfortunately, some of us don’t realize how loved we are by the people who matter until it seems like things are falling apart. And even then, sometimes we don’t understand, believe, or trust them. But guess what? IT’S TIME FOR THAT TO CHANGE. You know why? Because. You. Are. Loved.

You are a child of God and worthy to be loved. That is, you are beloved…allow yourself to Be. Loved. A friend of mine tweeted this to me last year. He has a way with words and has wisdom beyond his years. Mostly, he’s a very calming presence and has a beautiful assurance of God’s love that he’s not afraid to share with people. When I saw the message on the sidewalk this morning, my first thought was, “I hear this all the time.” And it’s true, isn’t it? We are always being reassured that we are loved- commercials, jewelry stores, Church. But do we believe it?

I think my friend’s words nail it on the head– sometimes we need to be reassured that we are a child of God and the promise that lies in that knowledge is God’s unconditional love (I’ll get to fellow human love in a second). That means we are sons and daughters of the only presence who can and will and does love us to extremes we can’t fathom. What this also means is that we-you, me, everyone- are worthy of love.

Did you catch that? By the simple fact that you are a living, breathing, existing child of God, you are worthy of love. Don’t get me wrong- this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to love you, nor does it mean that everyone should love you. What it means is that you get to open yourself to the people in your life and allow them to love you in the way they are going to. But this also means you need to open yourself up to that. The people that love you are going to love you despite your flaws, your shortcomings, and everything you think is wrong with you. But guess what? It’s not your decision for them to love you– It’s your decision to let them.

I only know this because I may be my worst critic, but I’m also my worst enemy. I face demons every day, some of them easier to overcome than others, and it is a fight for me to remember that yes, I am not perfect, but I have people who will continue to love me anyway. And usually, there will be nothing I can do to change that. And in that case, it’s a lot easier to let them love me instead of telling them why they shouldn’t.

See how I used the word “usually” there? There’s a reason for that- here comes the flip side of the coin. We’ve established that we all deserve to be loved, right? Well, here’s the deal- If you’re worthy of being loved, then you’re not worthy of being un-loved. People who come into our lives and spend their presence there un-loving us are the people who poison our ability to accept love from the people who are giving it freely. You need to love yourself enough to let those people go. They’re wasting their time by not loving you, and bringing you down with them at the same time. You’re not worthy of treatment like that because you are only worthy of love. Do you hear me?

YOU ARE ONLY WORTHY OF LOVE. YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED.

YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE UN-LOVED.

It’s so easy to keep those poisonous people around and I think it’s because when and if they do show us some sort of love or appreciation, we feel like we’ve earned it. Trust me– I’ve had friendship upon friendship that has been written like this. In fact, until recently, this is almost every relationship I ever knew. When someone would treat me well or affirm me in some way, I felt like I had won the game and was able to validate our friendship by the mere fact that they were being nice to me. I still catch myself doing it every now and then. I’ll see how much I have to do before I receive some kind of notion of satisfaction from people. And let me tell you, the second I recognize what I’m doing, I snap out of it right away. Why? Because I don’t have to DO anything to win your love. God has already validated my existence, and my existence is proof that I’m worthy of love. While these poisonous relationship might feel good to have around for validation, these are the relationships that seep into your healthy relationships and start to eat away at you and everyone you’re in a relationship with. Not only is it unfair to you to have these un-loving individuals in your life, it’s unfair to everyone who loves you, too.

I know I’m the last person who should be giving any kind of guidance on this front. Like I mentioned, I struggle daily, and most of this is easier said than done. However, I believe that if you’re going to become who you are meant to be and fully embrace the love that is being offered to you by people who honestly and earnestly care about you, the first step is to figure out how to embrace your worthiness of the love they have to offer you…. and the love you have for yourself.

It seems fitting that I’m listening to the new Michael Buble album today, To Be Loved. If you’re interested, I’m WAY digging his version of Something Stupid, featuring Reese Witherspoon. I’ve loved that song since forever, and I always thought it would be a perfect go-to karaoke duet– who doesn’t love Sinatra karaoke? But Michael and Reese kill it and it is awesome. You’re welcome for that tidbit of the day.

So friends, go forth… love others, and don’t be afraid to let them love you back.


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The Color of the Sea

“To walk alone is possible, but the good walker knows that the great trip is life and it requires companions.”

– Dom Helder Camara

If you’re my Facebook friend, you have probably seen this quote pop up a couple times in the last month. I first saw it as a fellow Seminarian’s status, and immediately stole it because there was power under those words that hit me like a ton of bricks. Since then, it’s been nagging at me, tugging at my heart, and I knew it was something I needed to unpack. Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to write this post for the last two weeks, and I’ve finally found the time. So, here it goes.

I would consider myself a pretty independent person- I’ve lived by myself for a total of almost four years, I’m financially independent, I pay my own bills, etc. I have all the classic markings of one of those “independent women” the Destiny’s Child heroines sang to us about in the early 2000’s.  I’m really happy with who I am– I like knowing I can take care of myself, and I like having to be accountable for myself. I’m comfortable this way, but even more, I’m content.

Since graduating from grad school, I’ve had a lot of decisions to make- where am I going to work? What kind of work will I do? Where will I live? How will I decorate my bedroom? All of these are decisions that seemingly only affect me, myself, and I, and I like the freedom in knowing that other people aren’t dependent on my plans and dreams. I’ll admit that there are times when I wonder what the next five years of my life are going to look like, and whether or not that freedom in planning for the future is going to change. I begin to wonder if I should cling to this life of solitary planning and move forward as if I am all I’ll ever be, or if I need to start considering more flexibility in my decision making.

Camara’s words remind me a lot of my traveling endeavors of 2009 and 2010. I traveled a lot– New York, Seattle, London, Madrid, Nairobi, Florida, Washington, D.C., etc. I saw a lot of great things! However, with the exception of my trip to Spain, I did it alone. Was it exciting? Absolutely! Do I regret any of it? Not in the least. But there are times I wonder what having a companion on those journeys would have been like. They were all liberating experiences, don’t get me wrong, but I often wonder what I missed in not sharing it with someone.

In light of what Bishop Camara says about the journey of life, my travels may seem trivial, but what about in your own life? Can you think of anything that you’ve done alone that you wonder what it would have been like to have someone’s hand to hold? How much would that have increased the joy of your experience? The reality is that you’ll never know, and I’m not a proponent of looking back and saying “What if…,” but I am a supporter of taking what you know of the past and looking forward with a new hope.

Think about a time that you tried to explain something you experienced to someone who wasn’t there. Two outcomes are possible- First, you could be a really, really great story teller, tell the story perfectly, and the person listening can clearly imagine what your experience was. The other possible outcome is that you tell the story, and the other person just doesn’t get it. We’ve all told and been told those stories, and how do they usually end? “Well… I guess you just had to be there.” It’s similar to trying to explain the color of the water to people who have never seen the cerulean blue of the Caribbean.

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Here’s the deal- being comfortable by yourself is a really great trait- it means you’ve acknowledged that you can be alone, happy, and content. What I think the Bishop’s words are trying to express is that, while a lot of people take solace in knowing their abilities to be alone, somethings are better and more powerful with a companion. Instead of trying to explain the color of the ocean to someone, invite them into that experience with you.

Here’s the flip side- Spoiler alert: sometimes bad things happen. I think it’s easy to talk about the “good” times we experience in life, and sharing that with someone, or multiple people. It’s harder to acknowledge that the hard times will inevitably come. For the more independent people, I think it’s easy for us to say, “Hey… I’ve gotten through one or two or twenty bad things…. I can get through one more,” but what’s wrong with admitting that sometimes we wish we didn’t have to face a challenge alone? Does that show weakness? Are we less credible as people who are actually able to survive on our own?

And now we’ve reached the core of what I think this quote is meant to mean for us (at least for me): Companionship does not show weakness. Companionship shows our desire to be in relationship. Our desire to be in relationship comes from our human instinct and call to love. Think about those stories you tell your friends- you’re not telling them because you want them to suffer (unless you’re just realllllly mean…)– no, you tell them because you want to invite them into the beauty or excitement that you experienced. There’s a joy that you want them to feel. Our call to be in relationship with one another is out of a need to share joy and love with another one of God’s created souls.

Life is a great trip. Sometimes, we want a hand to hold while we experience it. Sometimes we need a hand to help us up when we’ve fallen. Sometimes we are that hand to help someone else up when they’ve grown weary. God intends for us to be in relationship with each other and with God. The trinity is an illustration of God in relationship with God’s self as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we were meant to go on this journey alone, the journey would have been over a long time ago.

I will never regret doing any of the things I’ve done alone. In fact, I celebrate that I’ve been able to do a lot of those things with freedom. But I’m also not afraid to admit that I look forward to more experiences that I’ll be able to share with people I love. For me, it takes some self-encouragement to invite people into relationship (purely based on my own insecurities), but this is something I challenge everyone to do– Invite someone into your experience. Let them share that joy with you. Life is a great trip, but we are here for a blink of an eye. Walk alongside each other, and experience this life the way God intended for us, embracing the beauty of His world.

In closing, this song is heavily rooted in a romantic understanding of companionship, but the idea of companionship transcends romance– it incorporates, familial love, friendship, and kinship. Regardless, it’san awesome song. Just listen to it.