You’re Beautiful

People react to being called beautiful.

My message today may seem a bit redundant, but because I’ve witnessed the positive change it encourages, I believe it to be worthy of endless reiteration.

A compliment.

It truly can make all the difference in someone’s life. We live in a world that interminably preaches the importance of self love: pick yourself up if no one else will. Be your own hero. Love yourself. That all sounds wonderful and empowering, only it’s not that simple. The same society promoting the indulgence of self love is the exact one telling us we need to change everything about ourselves in order to be accepted.

Love, it’s definition, and who it belongs to has become a convoluted misunderstanding.

As a big a mess as we’ve made, we can still turn it around. And remarkably, it starts by taking baby steps. Progress as small as paying someone a compliment.

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Despite what popular culture may try to make us believe, we do need one another. If we didn’t, we would’ve each been given our own world to live in, void of any other human contact. But we live in this world together and therefore are here to uplift, encourage, support, and love one another. That doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything, it just means developing the ability to love past our differences.

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Pull the Plug

Like a ferocious lion startling the dawn, the engines roared to life. For once, I wasn’t irritated by the fact that I was awake before the sun. Jackson Hole, Wyoming is breathtaking. Stunning beyond words. Who knew thirteen hours in this rustic town was all it took to fall in love. As we taxied toward the runway, I bid the Teton Mountains farewell on a prayer that we’d meet again.

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As I readied myself for takeoff, my longing to stay was interrupted by an announcement from the Captain: The plane had a mechanical failure and we had to return to the gate. He had no idea how long it would take a mechanic to arrive and assess the defect, but passenger complaints were few. Time moves differently in places like Jackson Hole. It feels slower, yet intentional. Every second is full, bursting like a woman ready to give birth. It delivers the calm to a world in constant haste.

Back at the gate, things moved more expeditiously than expected. The Captain returned promptly to the PA to inform us that they would be performing a reset on whatever system had malfunctioned:

“The plane will be turned off and everything will go dark for a moment, but don’t be alarmed.”

And so it did. The power was pulled and the plane lost all illumination. The stillness was almost uncomfortable. Voices previously muffled beneath the power of the engines were stripped of their privacy. Although conversation mostly ceased, the words that lingered were like the crisp Wyoming air: refreshing and clear. The fact that I could hear what people were saying at all made me realize how little we actually listen.

Chicago was our next destination. Then back to Newark. And as we flew from the protection of the mountains, I wondered what the world might sound like cut off from its power.

We’d be so lost.

Afraid.

Disconnected.

Blind.

Powerless.

But that’s where our redemption lies. It’s in the knowledge that our connection to things cannot save us. Our bond to one another is key. Learning to love and care for one another is to begin to understand the love of God. And if we can figure out how to live our lives through his love, we can be okay.

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Have you ever heard the claim that individuals who are born blind have a stronger sense of hearing than the average person? That’s because they have learned to become reliant on their other senses due to their lack of sight. It’s an advantage through a disadvantage.

For instance:

I could hear something and not know where it came from because I’d be utilizing all of my average working senses to make a determination. However, someone who is blind has honed their hearing so that they can almost pinpoint exactly where a sound comes from.

If we blinded ourselves from the media, news outlets, social media, and television, we would simply hear one another.

No computers. No Facebook. No phones. Just people. Millions of people speaking in the dark, hearing the echo of their own words. Meeting the eyes of strangers and finding that they have just as much hope and as little fear as themselves. Maybe more. Possibly less.

Without power, we would be able to hear. And if we can hear, we can listen. When we listen, we understand. When we understand, we empathize. When we empathize, we care. When we care, we love. And when we love, mountains become moveable.

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A woman’s age is one of her best-kept secrets. It’s a powerful weapon with the ability to be either an ally or an enemy. Revealing this most sacred information can have irreversible effects. It can clothe a woman in wisdom and knowledge just as easily as it can strip her of beauty and youth. It may impress upon people the idea that she doesn’t know what she wants or take her beliefs and dreams for folly.

Stuffing a woman into a box of characteristics based on her age is an archaic adage as simple-minded and ridiculous as the notion currently impeding my celebratory spirit.

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I turned 27 yesterday, which means I’m a year closer to my dreaded 30th. I guess every birthday has put me a little closer to it, but now I can feel it. Like air coated thick with the call of springtime showers, I can smell it, and it’s too close.

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In three years time, 30 years of age will be asking me what I’ve done with my life for the past three decades.

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My fear is that I’ll have no answer. At least none that will live up to the pedestal I’ve placed this stupid number on. I’ve no idea where I developed this ridiculous notion that I have to have all my ish together by 30. I honestly don’t think that we as human beings ever get our crap together completely, but there’s no harm in trying.

Or is there?

I started preparing for 30 after I turned 25. And to an extent, it’s fine that I’m working toward stabilizing myself for the future, but when does it become too much? Because- and I don’t mean to be morbid- but the length of my future could be tomorrow. I’ve had an incredible life so far, not without its highs and lows of course, but a pretty decent life. Yet there’s a lot that I skip out on because I choose to work so that I can be debt free by 30. I’d be really pissed if something happened to me before then and I missed out on that trip to Venice or the experience of skydiving. They key is to balance my responsibilities while still allowing myself to enjoy life.

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My birthday advice to myself would be to take it easy. Enjoy what you have in the moments you have it because nothing is forever. Do for others. Keep smiling. Continue saving. Have patience. Trust God. Enjoy life. Be 27. 30 will come, and when it does, you’ll be ready. And that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will turn out as you imagine. It simply means that it will be okay nonetheless. 

Stay Focused!

I read this devotional a few days ago and I want to share it you guys!

Stay Focused!

With all that is going on in the world, I prayed in the Spirit and asked the Lord what was His response. This is what He told me to tell you, “Stay focused on advancing My Kingdom. Don’t adopt a secular view out of feelings of anger and frustration with current world events. Stay focused on doing what I have called and equipped you to do.”

(Read 2 Corinthians 2:11; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 15:58)

The importance of a plan

It seems obvious that we should plan our lives out, right?

Of course it does, but common sense isn’t so common.

Like many, I have all these (self-proclaimed) great ideas floating around in my head. I tell myself I’ll get around to it and rarely do these ideas come to fruition. Everything else seems to get in the way or appear more important than my creative goals.

I came across this little note on my Pinterest and for whatever reason, it stuck out. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t tried planning my life, it just never seems to work out. Knowing that almost thirty awaits me at the end of this month, I’m ready to give it another try.  I need to set clear goals for my day and if that means having countless alarm clocks to force me to acknowledge my plans, so be it.

Late last year I told my friends that all major life events were being placed on pause for the year of 2017. Now here it is May, one friend has had a wedding and another is now seven months pregnant. I give up. I know it was silly to even suggest in the first place- and selfish- but everything just felt so overwhelming.

What I know and have known for some time, is that life doesn’t stop for anyone.

Ergo, we must plan around it.

Big goals are scary, but daily goals that move the bigger objectives forward are (or should be) manageable.

Until Wednesday,

Celestial Nicole

14 Pick-me-ups to Inspire Your Writing

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Unless you’re a masochist, the idea of self inflicted pain is more of a deterrent than it is a motivator. Yet for many of us, writing does exactly that.  It stabs its way through our insides, slicing and butchering, relentless in its search for truth. It’s like the pain of an exposed nerve: raw and vulnerable.

So why do it? Why engage in an activity we know has the power to harm us?

Because, if we allow it to, pain can be food to our souls. Hardships are what strengthens and prepares us for battles that lie ahead. The lessons we learn through our pain are nutritious to our souls. However, we often hold onto the waste derived from our afflictions, creating sepsis of the soul. Infection cannot exist in one part of the body without spreading into another.

Writing is a way of detoxing the residue of our pain. It digs up the microscopic dwellings that often begin the infection. It’s a dark and uninviting alley that rids us of the mental and emotional toxins we sometimes harbor.

And even though it’s frightening and we’re afraid of what we might confess in that alley, we must go.

What if I write something I don’t mean, or worse, something I do? 

It’s okay. Getting those feelings out is the first step to dealing with them. Wrapped up in our pain is creativity, courage, love, encouragement, and understanding.

So whatever is holding you back, don’t let it any longer. The only way to overcome the fear that inhibits our writing is writing.