As I thought about how I had to write this post I couldn’t help but think about how fast time as gone. Didn’t I just write one of these bad boys like a week ago?? Certainly feels as though it was, but of course that isn’t the case. With my exaggerations aside I found myself rather excited to start this post. It’s something I wish I did more of. I wish I journaled or wrote down my thoughts and experiences more than I do. So with all that being said I want to thank Casey and Jocelynn, my program director and coordinator, for assigning the task of coming up with a lucid framework to express our journey through this program and our lives thus far. Writing out your journey allows the self to take a step out of the driver’s seat, and become in tuned with what’s going on with yourself in a multitude of meaningful ways. I have been given the honor so far to feel grateful and to be blessed with a life of richness and hindrances. Being able to write it down for the purpose of reflection and mindfulness has been helpful for me and is a tool many other individuals use too.

My mantra recently in life is revolved around this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness I get from time to time. I find myself, as much as most of us do, stuck in the cycle of routine and habituation. I wake up, make breakfast and lunch, have my coffee (essential), brush my teeth and I’m off for service. Once I get to my work site I’m on the go, or planning my next move. I come home to a warm house, full of equally exhausted people, and we have our time of peace and community. It all sounds pretty privileged huh? Well, that’s because it is. Privilege can be looked at through different lenses, one being a sense of entitlement and advantages and another being a way of grace and gratitude. I think that it is both but also neither. We as a society have created a stigma and attitudes against those who are privileged and rightly so if it’s at the expense of another species. But privilege can also be awakening and provide one with the chance of growth and enlightenment. Once we realize what we have been taken advantage of we can then see its effect on our own lives as well the lives around us. If we all used our privileges for the betterment of ourselves and our community the world would be in a very different place than it is in now.

Gratefulness has great as its root. Great can be misleading in that it has to be something pleasurable or rewarding. It is not always the case that we are grateful for something that’s positive. For instance I find that in my life, and especially recently I have been faced with the challenge of loving my fellow brothers and sisters, even when I feel deliberately attacked and belittled. Lately I have been feeling this way in the workplace and at home, as well as dealing with past feelings and relationships just a few months before starting this program. There have been individuals that have pushed my buttons, attacked my livelihood and shut me down. I have and continue to learn how to cope with people who challenge my ideologies and my inner peace. It has been a journey of discovering my authentic morals and sticking to them, but being open minded to the thoughts of others and really empathically listening. Non-violent communication is key especially when conversing with those who debunk your virtues. I feel grateful to have the opportunity for growth and ability to understand. We as humans are completely unpredictable, but also habitual so it creates a sense of dissonance within ourselves and our views on the world. I think that when we think of being grateful it is vital that we can look at the word great and think of its size and the impact that it has on us, not the subjective attribution of it being enjoyable.

I’ve also been able to use that same sense of gratitude to combat the feelings of sadness I feel from missing my family and friends. As I frequently do, I find myself scrolling through my photo albums on my phone thinking fondly of the memories I’ve created with the people I hold so near and dear to my heart. Feelings of somber and fear overtake me when I think about how I am not physically present in their lives and vice versa. As much as I miss their physical touch and support, I know that they are still present in my life and their love travels with me as mine does for them. I am able to look past the sorrow of nostalgia and look forward to the joyous embrace that awaits us. This is the time in my life where I feel as if it is both necessary and beneficial to focus on myself and my own growth. There should also be a focus on yourself to create the bridge of love for inner and outer peace. As I continue on this miniscule yet medicinal part of my life I will continue to check in with myself and evaluate if I am being authentic and grateful. I will try and continue to fuel my mind and body with positivity and create a conducive environment for tranquility.

I want to end my blog on a thought-provoking note that has challenged me to think deeply about my own wants and outcomes for life. It was spoken at the service I went to today and it resonated with me. Rev. Robin began her message by saying that “all we are is what we have loved.” She asked us to think about who and what we love and how that creates our lens of life. We are focused and driven by what we have loved and but mostly what we continue to love. Love can change day to day or can stay stagnant for our whole life. It can be as broad or as subjective as you see fit. Love is everywhere, and it’s up to us to see it in everything and be love in all we do. As the wise and respected Rumi once said, “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” What you get from that quote may be different then what I take from it, but the message is still clear in that love is the answer for most problems and should be the driving factor of your life.

– Andrea

Lutheran Social Services of Northern California