Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Year?!

It was a September afternoon in New York City, in an Midtown apartment. Tired and without much to get done, a girl opened her Internet to Google. She clicked on the "More" button, and saw the "Blogger." Curious, she clicked on it and continued through the steps to start a blog. Unsure of what she would write, she thought of a generic title that would allow her the flexibility to do whatever she wanted. A quote came to mind: "Whate'er thou art, act well thy part." Act Well Thy Part was born. It was September 19th, 2011. One year ago today.

I cannot express how grateful I am to all of you who have read anything I've written. Whether you've been reading since "Concrete Jungle Where Dream Are Made..." or started with "Year of Joy in Action," or just popped in for the "Great Dating Dilemma" series, you've been a huge part of my life. You've been with me through a move, an crazy school year, my first break up, and a complete attitude adjustment. I've written almost 50 posts about love languages, gendercide, Broadway musicals, overpopulation, dating, my summers, Jane Austen, Merlin, integrity, beauty secrets, friendship, communication, the Sisterhood, NYC, TV show concepts, goals, fears, and dreams.

You've stuck with me through the ups and the downs, through the crazy and the boring. You've read some of my best writing and some of my worst (Sorry!). Thank you for your thoughts and comments, either on here, on Facebook, or in person. It always surprises me when someone mentions my blog - people actually read it? I see that 1,700 people have checked out AWTP on my stats page, but it has never sunk in. I don't know if it ever will.

Again, thanks, dear ones, for everything you've done for me. I hope that something I've written has resonated with you, and that you've found something of value in it. Thanks for encouraging me to continue writing - I owe it all to you. I love you.

Peace from the East,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 12th

Today is 9/11. It is the eleventh anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001. It is a day for honoring the lives of those who died and the first-responders who ran into the collapsing buildings. It is a day to vow to "Never Forget" and "Always Remember." It is also Patriots Day, a holiday that get forgotten quite often.

That is the irony. We swear to never forget 9/11 and the legacy they left us, but do we? What do we do starting September 12th to change our lives? Those people who died did nothing to personally harm their murderers. They just happened to be on the wrong plane or in the wrong building. They were innocent individuals who lived American lives. They were killed for no other reason than they were American. They had mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children, friends, coworkers. They had likes and dislikes. They had dreams and goals. They had triumphs and regrets. They had chores to do and memories to make. They were just like you and me.  They were you and me. They are you and me.

We have a responsibility to them. It is our duty to live life the best that we can. We are to honor their lives with an America that follows Her values. We are to pay tribute to them with individual lives of dedication and respect to the country that allows us to live the way we choose. We should try to the best of our ability to remember them in the little actions we do. They died because they were in a place that was a symbol of freedom. It was a symbol of freedom of enterprise, to buy and sell. A freedom to travel and go to and from their homes without government involvement. Let's not forget that there are men and women who fight everyday to defend this freedom. They believe it is worth dying for.

Rising again is what we do.
So, starting tomorrow, let us all try to be a little better on our oaths to "always remember." Remember while your hand is over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. Remember while listening to the words of the National Anthem. Remember while you are driving to work on a freeway. Remember while you are sitting in church - or choosing not to go to a church. Remember while you are voicing your opinion. Remember while you are playing with your children, kissing your spouse, hugging your parents. Remember while you are reading the newspaper. Remember while you are laying down at night without fear. Remember the purpose of politics is to elect "good, wise, and just men" to be your voice. Remember when you see a serviceman in uniform. Thank them. Be grateful that you are here. There are so many millions of people who think that the risk of dying is worth the chance to live here. We have so much more than we realize. Be grateful today for the sacrifices of thousands of people who have made your life possible, even just with creating opportunities for you to seize.

Think of those who died eleven years ago today. Think of their families and friends. Tomorrow, think of the future. Think of those who have died since then to ensure that we may live without fear, and that our children will be able to enjoy those freedoms we are so used to. Let us "Always Remember" September 11th by changing the way we live on September 12th.

 I want to say for myself that I know I am one of many who takes for granted all the blessings we have here in America. I forget in my day to day life. I want to be better. I want to start by saying THANK YOU to those who defend our liberty "in all cases," like the stripling warriors. Whether they are military, police, politicians, good citizens - THANK YOU. I want to thank the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) who were inspired to write documents that have withstood the test of time, guaranteeing my personal liberty. I'm grateful to the my ancestors who left their homelands beginning in the 1600s to settle the "New World," a place of promise. Without their sacrifices and hard work, I would not be here today. I want to say THANK YOU to those in history who have defended my liberty from attack, either at home or abroad. THANK YOU. Most importantly, I want to express my thankfulness to my Father - THANK YOU for allowing me the opportunity to live in America. I pray that I will be able to make the most of this incredible chance to make a HUGE difference in this world. I'm SO proud and humbled to be an American.
God bless America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Year of Joy in Action

So, how am I doing on my "Year of Joy" resolution? Well...

Pretty well, if I say so myself. This has been amazing for me thus far. I have tried very hard to refocus my energy and attention towards the positive and productive. I've been able to understand more, have more fun, and feel the spirit more strongly.

This doesn't mean that it's been easy. It's been anything but easy. We got some tough news regarding personal matters. It doesn't affect me as deeply as it does some dear friends, but it affects me. I have to watch while these wonderful people cope (and they're doing an excellent job, if you were wondering). I HATE watching people I love hurt. I mean, doesn't everyone?

Also, I've been placed in situations that require a lot of patience. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I've been blessed with a fairly high tolerance level. It takes a lot for me to get annoyed. However, the last month I've had to deal with people and situations that seem to enjoy "tap dancing on my last good nerve." (Twitches quote. I haven't seen that movie in AGES.) This includes some people who are on my "annoy the nice out of me" list. It takes a LOT to be on that list. I decided before I saw them that I was going to be nice. More than be nice, I was going to be truly kind. I was going to love them. I was going to let the comments that would bug me roll off my back. You know what? I had fun. It was a much better experience than I expected it to be. I learned to be more gracious. I have to admit that by the end, I was getting tired, and I slipped a little. I had less fun. I was the only one who was unhappy. But I got to see - and more importantly, feel - the contrast. I learned that to make the "Year of Joy" a reality, I've got to make the choice to be patient and kind to others.

Another thing I've encountered is the countless hours of preparation I've had to do for school and the upcoming ACT (THIS SATURDAY. Prayers would be greatly appreciated) and SAT. I started prep two days after I got back from the UK. It was the beginning of August. It was still summertime! I was home! I was supposed to be lounging on a chair by the pool with my girlfriends, sleeping in, watching TV, reading fun books, and going to movies and parties with my friends! Whatever I was supposed to do, it was NOT spend time at MC working on SAT vocab words or at home taking practice ACT math sections. Gross. I bet you can see where this is going. I have a dream of going to college and surrounding myself with knowledge and wisdom. That's not going to happen unless I score well on these tests. Being a homeschooler, there is more weight on your test score in your application. I want to go to a good school with lots of opportunities for developing my mind, talents, and testimony. So, I got down to business to defeat the College Board. I've worked SO hard, I'm ready for vacatio- wait. School starts tomorrow. Just kidding! In all seriousness, the blessings of this hard work have been evident. I'm not just saying this. My ACT math scores were in the gutter at the beginning of August, and I had my last practice test before the real deal yesterday. I jumped SEVEN points. That isn't all because of me. I've had awesome teachers/tutors, parents, and the Lord on my side as I've undergone this journey. I'm actually excited for Saturday so I can see the fruits of my labors and the power of the Spirit as a guide. I can now co-sign the mantra "Work like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on Him - Because it does." (BONUS: I still got to do some of those fun things I had wanted to do! Yay for the blessing of multiplied time!)

Work + Attitude = Joy
Overall, as I've worked to keep my attitude positive, I actually have been happier. Things make more sense in school, my friendships are strong, and I'm able to feel the Holy Ghost with me more often. I've even lost some weight! Joy is contagious. All it takes is a smile. I'm thrilled with a new endeavor that some friends and I have taken on. It's called Operation: Positivity, and it's primary goal is to make people happier than they would've been otherwise. One of our "missions" (Well, it IS a special ops unit.), involves standing on a street corner with signs like the ones above, shouting things like "Have a great day! You deserve it!" or "Don't forget to smile - we need it!" or "You are awesome!" We look totally happy, because we are! You get the biggest rush seeing someone brighten up when they read your sign. Using O:P as an analogy, you can't be happy without work. It takes a deliberate decision to be happy, or start an organization. It requires some time figuring out what you want to do, making a plan of attack. It also needs some bravery and willingness to put yourself out there. It's scary making changes in your life, and it's scary standing on a street corner yelling. But it makes you so happy. It makes you joyful. It is legitimately the greatest feeling in the world. I hope that I will be able to keep this momentum going as I dive into my senior year. One month down, nine to go until graduation.