This Year, I Will Love Harder And Laugh Louder

This Year, I'm Making A Promise To Myself To Love Harder And Laugh Louder

Everyone from my town is starting to love harder and keep in contact with the people we have failed to do that with because life is short and we never know what is going to happen.

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I am lucky enough to say, I have never had someone close to me pass away my whole life. I never learned how to deal with loss and the grieving that follows. I was the girl who consoled her friends when they lost a grandparent, mom, dad, or anyone else dear to their hearts, but I had no idea how to empathize with them genuinely.

This was all until November 3rd, 2018 when Chase "Sosa" Suggs, a classmate and a friend, passed away. No one knew how to react or how to feel because many were with Chase the day before and others reminisced on all the times he was in their class or homeroom. I know I was never extremely close to him, but Chase's contagious smile and laugh replayed through my head and I am sure the same thing happened to many other people from my hometown.

I had never experienced this kind of loss before, but it made me realize I need to laugh louder. Chase always knew how to make everyone laugh, even if he had annoyed to ten seconds before. He did not care what people thought because he was already laughing at what they said. You were never bored when you were in Chase's presence, even if it was just homeroom and he was laughing at your gossiping.

So, this year, make sure to laugh louder than you have before and do not be afraid of what people say. Chase taught everyone laughing is the best cure for any situation. He was always happy, so it is time we lived like there is no tomorrow.

Everyone from my town started laughing harder and living life to the fullest not only because we knew that is what Chase wanted it, but also because we realized that life is way too short to waste it.

In the past year, not only did my hometown learn to laugh louder, but we also learned to love harder. Sadly, this lesson came after January 27th, 2019 when Steven "11" Kendrick, a classmate and a friend, passed away. Everyone was in complete and utter shock, we had just lost Chase and never in a million years believed another friend we graduated with would be gone so soon from our lives. Steven had one of the kindest hearts I have ever experienced. Steven was always kind to everyone, no matter who they were or who they hung out with. Steven was one of the best teammates anyone could ask for, he would not only help you hone in your skills, but he would also lend a listening year any time you needed. Not to mention, Steven could also make you realize how small your problem was in the big scheme of things.

I have so many memories from Government class with him, where he would speak his mind fearlessly and make everyone die of laughter at the same time. I watched him fall in love with a fantastic girl, and you could see his heart grow even bigger than it was before.

This year, make sure to love harder and to never give up on love. Steven made everyone realize, love may hurt sometimes, but the pain is worth it. He was always kind, so it is time we loved as hard as we can.

Everyone from my town is starting to love harder and keep in contact with the people we have failed to do that with because life is short and we never know what is going to happen.

Overall, everyone needs to love harder and laugh louder this year.

I am not just saying to do it in honor of Chase and Steven, but for yourself. They were both taken from this world at such a young age, but they both lived life to the fullest. Whether it was missing school to go hunting or missing school to be with friends, they both lived in the moment and were the happiest people I have ever been around.

If you remember one thing from this article, please remember to live life to the fullest because that is what they would want for you since they did not get to do the same.

This one is for you two, Sosa and Steven. LONG LIVE SOSA, LONG LIVE #11. Laugh even louder and love even harder for us in heaven.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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