Life Lessons From A 5-Year-Old

Life Lessons From A 5-Year-Old

You can learn something from everyone you meet.
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In the past few months, I have had to take the “What color are you?” personality test three times. I am always so shocked at the people who get orange — the risk-takers. For me, everything has to be specially planned and thought out. I cannot really just do anything on the fly. I don’t think you will ever catch me skydiving or riding a super-fast roller coaster for that matter. Up until a little bit ago, I would barely do anything that hadn’t been put in my planner at least three days in advance.

Then I learned a lesson from Ellie.* Ellie was born with Hurler’s Syndrome and had a bone marrow transplant when she was nine months old. She has had more surgeries than I can count on two hands already, and she is only five. But she doesn’t let anything slow her down. She loves to go to the park and slide down the tallest slide. We have had some fun times playing “house” with her sister and the baby dolls and relaxing to watch a movie. Ellie also has quite a sweet tooth and always seems to request ice cream when I am there. If it isn’t ice cream — it’s Cheetos. She may just be my favorite person.

I think the most important lesson Ellie has taught me, though, is that every day is a new adventure. Every day holds new possibilities. You can’t let anything hold you back from that. Last December, she had a double hip replacement and had a full body cast covering both legs. With the cast on she didn’t want to sit around and let life pass by. We played Play-doh, read books and did all kinds of fun things. And as soon as she got her cast off, she immediately began to work hard to get back on her feet so she could run and play again.

One night at a youth group meeting, we were analyzing the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic. In doing so, I had realized that I had only really ever done one impulsive thing — ask a friend to prom. Ellie’s parents were leading the discussion that evening and told their story again which I so loved hearing, but with a new emphasis. The importance of living in the moment and embracing the beauty of each and every day. They don’t know how many days Ellie has, and for that matter, I don’t know how many days I have in this world. After that night, I decided I needed to change my outlook on life.

Now that didn’t mean that I got rid of my agenda or stopped planning events. I still don’t like super-fast roller coasters. But, I made the decision that whether or not anyone was joining me, I would be taking a mission trip down to the Dominican Republic. I also have gone on spontaneous road trips with my roommates. We had destinations, but vague plans, just to go, explore and enjoy.

Maybe living in the moment sometimes means trying the weird food at lunch, maybe it means skydiving, but whatever it means to you, try something different today. Dream big. Dare to be different. See what Ellie can teach you.





*Name changed to respect privacy.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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This One’s For Africa

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Read through to the end for an amazing Toto reference.

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It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'

This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.

Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.

On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.

It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.

The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.

Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.

After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.

The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.

Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'

The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.

My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.

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