A Post-it Note

Over a year ago, perhaps even 18+ months ago, on a normal Tuesday morning in my office, a post-it note had appeared on my work computer. It said quite simply “Jonesy, take a second to smile today!” Aside from the fact that the words seamlessly fit into the message of this blog, journal, whatever you want to call it, it just so happened that on that particular day, I REALLY needed it. There was no name, but I knew that it must have come from one of the boys who attended a monthly youth meeting at the office the night before; this group consisted of quite a number of my camp staff from the summer, so I figured it was one of them. I publicly posted my appreciation on Facebook to the young mystery man, and every month they just kept coming.

I kept them. I taped them to the cabinet across from my desk so that they would always be in direct view- a reason to keep going through all the stress, the moments of hopelessness. Though they slowed down and it’s been a few months since my last one, I came in today- a Monday, which is unusual- and found three especially kind ones. Written in red marker on hot pink post-it notes, they stand out from the rest: “YOU ROCK,” “Have an amazing day!” and “Do what’s best for you.”

I like to think that I’m a very mindful being. I occasionally meditate. When bothered, I try to breath, center myself, and get to the bottom of it. I try to take a step back as opposed to falling deeper, but sometimes you just need that external reminder. Sometimes you need someone cheering you on, regardless of how far away they may be, or how well you know them. Sometimes you need just three kind words.

And sometimes you need to be the one to give them.
If there’s one thing I’ve always tried to teach the youth I’ve lead, it’s to always support one another. Sometimes you give, sometimes you get. Life is a cycle of giving and receiving, ups and downs. I’m so proud of them for giving back.

So here’s my post-it note to you:

You’re amazing.
You’re wonderful.
I hope you have a great day.
Everything will be ok.
Life is laughter and tears- keep smiling.

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The Greatest Lessons of 2015

This last year was tough on my health (mental and physical), so I was forced to look really hard in the mirror and learn to accept a lot of things. It’s a heavy word, “acceptance.” Is it easy? No. It’s taken me 24 and a half years to finally realize it, so I don’t expect it to be easy for you either, but it’s those idiotically simple truths that are the hardest to really accept. Earlier in the fall I started to realize that I was getting nowhere by constantly trying to remake myself. In fact, I was digging myself deeper… So I took a real, hard, excruciating look at myself in a way I’ve never done before (I “take a look at myself” quite often).

In a way, I guess you could say I gave up. I gave up the constant self-criticism and downgraded to occasional self-criticism. I gave up trying to be someone I’m not. I gave up thinking I’ll never be happy. I gave up a lot of negativity. I looked at myself in the mirror and faced the facts: I’m overweight, I’m on a tight budget that I’m constantly pushing, I don’t have the social life I thought I’d have, my job is extremely stressful… I’m pretty, I’m experiencing my mid-20s exactly the way I should be, I have two awesome roommates and a number of good friends, I’m independent, and I have my entire life ahead of me in an ever-changing world.

This December was a series of seemingly unrelated events that caused me to realize those latter facts- the positive ones. Once again, God/the universe/the Great Spirit has thrown me some hints and I’ve picked up a lot from them. To save you time I’ll jump over the explanations of each event and instead offer, as we face the New Year in just a couple days, what I have learned:

  1. I’m not fat. You’re not fat. Fat is what you cut off your chicken before you cook it. Fat intake is something you monitor when you’re trying to be healthy. Fat is a part of the body just as muscle, bones, and flesh are, and you, therefore, cannot BE fat, because YOU ARE NOTHING ELSE BUT YOU.
  2. Being attractive means being the kind of person that others want to be around. It means being a good person, kind to others, and always thoughtful of your impact on the world. It means making people laugh. It means being able to laugh at yourself.
  3. We have limits. We must recognize when something or someone we love dearly and deeply is no longer right for us.
  4. Boondock Saints is one of the greatest movies ever made.
  5. Miracles do happen.
  6. There is much hate in this world, but there is greater love, and the moment we give up on love is the moment we lose. And the people who love us- our family, our friends- are the ones who will comfort us and cry with us when we feel there is too much bad, when we think hate has won. They will save us in our endeavor to save the world.
  7. We must never give up on saving the world.
  8. While it is important to take note of ways we can improve ourselves, we cannot do so without first taking inventory of the ways in which we should never change. If we are forever focusing on what’s missing or wrong with our lives, how in the world do we expect to one day be happy?
  9. Tight budget, big appetite? Pasta, hot dogs, frozen veggies, alfredo sauce, all mixed together. It’s where childhood and adulthood meet in perfect harmony… in your mouth.
  10. Laughter, as always, is everything. Be a goof.

So this New Year’s, please remember to smile, to laugh, to love, to let the bad roll off and the good sink in, and to look hard in the mirror. Watch good movies. Spend time with friends. Remember that everything changes- the hardest thing we can ever accept. Make your resolutions, but knowing first that you are already a wonderful and beautiful creature to begin with. Be a Calvin (see cartoon below).

Laugh on, my friends.

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