Stand Up & Live

In a journal entry in August, 1851, Henry David Thoreau wrote:

How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.

This is a new quote of his that I hadn’t read yet, and, having been minorly obsessed with Romanticism and Transcendentalism in high school (I’m sure my English teachers can attest to that), it brought on this wave of a full spectrum of thoughts. I’ve watched Dead Poets Society about 30 times and can quote Mr. Keating practically from memory when it comes to carpe-ing the crap out of your diem: “Sieze the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” I used a Thoreau quote in my high school year book. I based my AP Studio Art final project off of various Romantic authors’ quotes. And the fact that I live probably only an hour from Walden Pond and have never been baffles me (field trip this weekend?). Yet, despite what I have learned from my “minor” obsession, I face life in terror, almost frozen, waiting for the courage to jump into a world of opportunity and adventure- as I sit down and write.

We live our lives in the comfort of what we know, hoping one day to travel, hoping one day to see something rare, hoping one day to do something that scares us, hoping… We hope as we sit in the familiarity of our own living room, under the safety of our favorite blanket, next to our friends, family, roommates, or others who know us well. And we sit and we hope and we wait and we wait and we wait until suddenly life is passing us by and we wish we had done more when we were younger.Thoreau also wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays)

I enter 2016 utterly blessed with a certain freedom that most mid-20s don’t have and I find myself swimming in chances. The words of a thousand adventures are waiting for me make them known, but without the experience, what justifies me to do so?

I enter 2016 wondering why it took me until now to realize that I need to stand up for my own life.

I enter 2016 hoping to make a difference in the world and inspire others, but how vain to do so without taking advantage of my own opportunities to grow? It is important to note that “vain” here doesn’t mean to be narcissistic, but to be futile or useless. Worry is vain. Excuses are vain.

I enter 2016 terrified.

I enter 2016 with one goal: stand up.┬áThe biggest thing that has been holding me back is no longer there to strap me in. So, I will stand up and live. Even if only in my own city. I will go see parts of Boston I haven’t visited before. I will venture to Walden Pond. I will explore every option available to me so that when the opportunity comes to travel farther, I will be ready to jump. I will save my money so that I can stand up in Ireland, Montreal, Rome, New Orleans, and other, farther places I’ve yet to see. I may not get there this year, but someday I will, because I will not experience life sitting down anymore. I will go to my grave knowing my song is out there for all who wish to listen; a song about laughter and tears.

Will you stand with me?

standup

“I Never Knew”

I want to share this experience I had last night:

After ordering my sub at D’angelo’s, the young man behind the counter asked, “So are you like a Girl Scout?” After a moment I recovered from my confusion, realizing I was in my Scout uniform, and I said “Actually the Boy Scouts. I’m a professional with the Boy Scouts of America.” The normal questioning expression fell over his face, followed by surprise as I explained that, actually, a lot of women are involved, especially considering we have a co-ed program called Venturing. What he asked next really surprised and pleased me.

Instead of asking, “So what do you do?” he asked, “So what do the Boy Scouts do then? Like, as their mission?”

I was SO happy to hear someone ask that! I summarized the mission of the BSA, the Scout Oath and Law, and explained all the different kinds of programs and activities we use in order to accomplish that (thank you training for drilling the Aims and Methods of Scouting into my brain). And when I finished, his reaction gave me so much hope! In everything- the youth in this country, the world, humanity as a whole, why I do what I do.

He said, “You know, I always thought of the Boy Scouts as those kids that just go camping and learn how to tie knots, but I never realized how many different important life skills and lessons you guys taught. I REALLY could have benefited from that as a kid, and if I ever have a son he’s totally going to join the scouts. I bet this world would be a whole lot more caring if everyone was a scout.”

People care. People care about their children growing up to be responsible, caring, upstanding citizens who can take care of themselves and others. People care about character development. People care about the effect they have on the world. And considering how much hatred we are trying to fight right now, I’m starting to believe more and more in the value of Scouting for our youth. People say to only surround yourself with caring, positive people with good intentions, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 90% of those people in my life are those I know through the Boy Scouts (for Pete’s sake, both my roommates are Eagle Scouts!). They are the funniest, most caring young men and women I’ve ever met. They keep me laughing, and hopeful, which, as you know is pretty much the entire point of this blog here.

I’ve been saying that I need to figure out a way to change the world, not realizing that all along I was doing it just by going to work everyday. It’s an incredibly stressful job and sometimes my exhaustion tears right through me, down to my core, but the Boy Scouts is,when you get down to it, a program that can change the world. And I’m pretty darn proud to be a part of an organization that can help with that.

I’m Fighting Radio Silence

Up until last week I know I kinda went radio silent for a little while. I think I was struggling to find any words or thoughts, because I was struggling with myself. I was beginning to lose sight of what I was here for, alive for. But I believe in signs from the universe. Some people believe in God, achieving Enlightenment, Allah, The Great Spirit- all valid beliefs- and though I don’t always know what I believe in, I believe in SOMETHING. I believe there is some higher power, some energy or spirit, in the universe guiding us and giving us something to believe and a better way to live; it gives us hints, nudges, bright neon signs, drops us a note here and there that we too often ignore.

I started noticing them again last week, which led to my “Solution” post. I couldn’t tell you exactly what they were, but they were there, calling me back to this blog, albeit not a widely read one, to persevere.

This is what I’m here for:

To give hope. Encourage faith. To remind people that we are one human race made to feel, love, think, experience life in a way that no other creature on this earth can boast of.

And then Paris happened. Part of me believes that these signs were nudging me into starting to write again because the universe knew what was happening and knew that people needed to start spreading love and encouragement, and knew that I needed to feel like my voice, no matter how small, was important and needed to get out there- the reason I started this blog. So I will keep it up. I will keep going. I won’t give up and I won’t stop using my voice to remind people to love and to hope and to have faith, even when we look at the rest of the human race and feel disgusted with all the evil in the world and how selfish we feel people can be sometimes. I will persevere and persist and bug the crap out of people until I feel I’ve gotten through to them… which will be hard.

I’ve continued to receive signs- yes, I consider fortune cookies to be signs *sometimes*- and I’ve kept my ears and eyes open to them. I’m a highly sensitive person and I find myself extremely and deeply affected by the events and experiences of these last few days. I’m encouraged, and I encourage you, to never give up and spread the love.

And as I near the end here I’m finding myself asking “Why the hell are you even writing this? Why do your readers need to see this?” Honestly? I don’t know. Maybe you don’t. Maybe I’m writing this because I need to be reminded of it. Either way, I feel it important to share and important for people to at least know that hey…. I’m comin’ for ya. I’m comin’ to spread the love, man, so BE PREPARED (throwing in some Boy Scouts Motto there).

I won’t be radio silent anymore.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
-Aesop

My signs:

http://www.upworthy.com/this-94-year-olds-last-bucket-list-item-was-5-seconds-on-tv-to-say-3-words?g=2&c=tpstream

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I Have Hope for the World

I heard of the terror attacks on Paris around 9 o’clock on Friday night while driving home from work. I am a professional with the Boy Scouts of America and was just on my way home from a Cub Scout pack meeting. It was a wonderful program: a story teller to entertain the scouts, speaking about veterans and giving back to the community, parents discussing how to become more involved in their children’s lives, and most of all the boys were SO excited to be there. All around I left that meeting with a sense of hope; I felt hopeful that if they stuck with it these young boys would grow up to change the world.That’s why I enjoy my job. I enjoy knowing that I have a positive effect on the lives of the American youth.

Then my roommate told me what happened and my heart was instantly crushed, broken, and torn. I cried for the innocent souls passed on too soon. I even cried for the souls of those who inflicted that pain; what happened to them, how were they so easily influenced and led to believe that this senseless violence was the answer to what is wrong with this world?

As the next 24 hours unfolded and the death toll rose, I was disappointed to see so many people on social media start to criticize their fellow citizens for giving so much attention to Paris, but not Beirut, Baghdad, Mexico, and Japan. How were we to know when this information was not so prevalent? I think what makes our immediate response to the attacks in Paris so much stronger is that it feels as though Western culture has been exposed as much more vulnerable than we felt we were; we were blindsided just like we were on 9/11 and the marathon bombings in Boston (hitting particularly too close to home for me). It hits home for us and that scares us. Our confidence is shaken. I can honestly say that had I known about the other tragedies in the world, my heart would have hurt just as equally as it does for Paris; now that I am aware of those tragedies it does. I weep for them all. I weep for every human being affected by any tragedy. I just wish that instead of criticizing one another we would band together in solidarity and love and peace and open our hearts to everyone in this world. We CANNOT respond to hate with more hate. We CANNOT attack each other, for we are stronger together. The moment we do, we lose. I choose to always love. So, my heart may be crushed, but my soul and my hope is not.

Below is what I wrote on Facebook, after much time and thought, as my response to these events. I hope it reflects what I’ve written here today and I hope it influences others to feel for the whole world equally, without criticism. It’s a prayer, poem, reflection, whatever you choose to call it, for all humanity:

I pray for Paris. I pray for the world.
I pray for every soul affected in any way by tragic acts of violence both near and far, known and unknown.

I pray that love prevails and that we may overcome hatred and fear.
I pray that we do not project our fears onto others.
I pray that we do not lose sight of how valuable a positive, loving, and caring attitude and outlook is.

I believe that change is coming and begins with us, here and now, though we may not make an immediate change. Let us look at Paris, knowing that many areas of the world have been affected ten fold by the same sort of violence, and say to ourselves “I will not stand for hatred anymore.” There is no overnight fix and there will always be some form of evil in this world, but change takes time and we CAN do it if we persist. Now is not the time to sit, steeping in anger and hatred, but to act on love and kindness, with everyone we meet.

I pray for Paris and I pray that it opens our eyes to the value of love.

And so I hope you feel the same. I hope you will stand together with me, in love and solidarity, and find a way to spread love to the world, near and far.

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