Transforming the Past

“The past is the past.” They say, “Bury the past. Don’t look back, look forward.”

Three AM I lay asleep in my bed. I hear someone coming down the stairs and talking in a hushed tone. My stepfather cheating on my mom, talking to his mistress. I choose not to tell my mom. I try to forget it happened.

San Diego, 2005–I am on vacation with my dad and my older brother. My first time seeing the ocean, its vastness makes me feel for once I am not alone. God must be real to create something so large, open, and free. My dad disappears one night with a woman, my brother and I passed out in the back of the Range Rover parked on the beach. When we return home to Utah his girlfriend questions me. I tell the truth. My dad is disappointed. He yells at me. I know he is embarrassed. I ask for forgiveness and we bury the past.

I talk to my grandma about my pain, she tells me I can have enough faith to move a mountain. I believe her. The summer before I start high school she discovers she has one of those incurable diseases…Stage 4 Uterine Cancer. She refuses Chemo and we visit her regularly for the last four months of her life. The last day of her life, we gather together around her bedside. God wanted us there as she took her last breath. I laid next to her and told her I loved her. I witnessed her give her precious spirit willingly to the unseen place where a soul finds rest. She died on June 25th, 2010. On this day, I learn life has purpose, but I resent God for using these terms to teach me. I put the lesson behind me.

I wake my younger brothers up (on my mom’s side) on a weekday morning for school. I help them get dressed, pour their cereal, then the milk, finally sending them out the door at 7:30AM sharp. Successful people are on time, I tell myself, My brothers will be successful, they will break the odds. My brother born after me, my mom’s second oldest, struggles with Tourrets and OCD. At 13-years-old his teacher tells him he will never amount to anything because he is a jerk. That night, we stay up laughing and talking about Grandma and Uncle Jeff (who shortly died after my grandmother due to prescription pill abuse), I tell him not to believe his teacher. We move passed it.

My mom is going through her first divorce. I am in my room when I hear something shatter. I rush upstairs to find a broken bowl–its pieces scattered across the kitchen floor. My mom is crying and refuses anyone’s help cleaning up the glass fragments. She’s now a single mother again and has reverted back to the mentality of survival, showing no weakness, no emotion. Until something breaks, and then she does too. I cry with her, begging God or whoever is in charge to make her suffering go away. I want to provide relief. But just like she refuses to let me rid the shards of glass from the floor, she refuses to let me rid the shards of glass from her heart. I go to my room, consumed by thoughts of how I can be a better daughter, soon I fall asleep. The next day is as if nothing happened. She buries the past.

I sit in Sunday School, a year following my choice to be baptized and confirmed a member of the LDS faith. I am eleven-years-old. Being at church makes me happy. I memorize all the last names of the families who attend every week, families with cohesion, function, normality. The lesson is on repentance. “Everyday,” our leader tells us, “you sin. God remembers all of your unrepented sins, even the ones that seem insignificant, and you will too when you stand before him.” The wheels turn in my mind and I ask if we should write down all of our sins to remember what to repent for at the end of the day. She tells me I am right to keep a record and to do whatever it takes to make it back to God. I keep a list of my sins. I keep a list of my family’s sins. I keep a list of the world’s sins. Later on in life I will look back at this way of living and use it as fuel to fire my desire for true compassion through Christ, Jesus.

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

There is darkness in our world and many people see “dwelling” on the past as unhealthy or counter-productive, but I share these experiences to show examples of inconceivable heartache being transformed in to pure grit and strength.

Every single one of us have weak things God is waiting to make strong. We show God our vulnerability by living imperfect lives and making destructive decisions. Sometimes we don’t understand our desire to choose something contrary to the benefit of our lives, decisions directly effecting our loved ones. We’re influenced by others, by our pasts, by false perceptions and lies, by pride and selfishness. Yet, without weakness, we cannot be made strong.

Dig deep to find yourself. Sometimes you might take a risk and the result may appear to not work out in your favor. But risk is always in our favor. When you take risks, the outcome will force you out of your comfort zone and lead you to discover your truest self, to discover your heart’s rawest desires. (Even if it hurts at first, the end result is worth it.)

You cannot love someone if you do not love yourself. You cannot love yourself if you do not accept who you are. You cannot accept who you are until you know who you are.

All the hate we harbor for past decisions, regrets that linger in the back of our minds, resentment towards our trespassers, self-pity…it must be expunged and replaced with love for our past, gratitude in the back of our minds, forgiveness towards our trespassers, self-worth.

We all suffer, we all laugh and rejoice. I believe God gave us families, friends, and communities so we could provide one another with consolation. I am 20-years-old with few answers to infinite amounts of problems. But answers or no answers, until the day God wills my heart to stop beating, I will not stop fighting to console the distress of others or my own.

Let’s not bury our past, let’s bury our hostility and instead, let’s discover new ways to use our past to find resilience–to create a brighter future.

To those out there fighting the battle of coming to terms with distant griefs and unhealed wounds of what used to be, you don’t have to force yourself to let those things go. They are beautiful because they made you who you are, they are beautiful because you lived through them.

New perspectives, more love…

With Love,

Kelsey With Some Jo ❤

 

 

 

 

Only the Paranoid Survive: Breaking Free of Complacency

“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” -Andy (Andrew) Grove

Andy Grove

Andy Grove could not have said the above any better and the life he lived adds even more to the quote’s credibility and accuracy.

Andy died this past March of 2016. He lived a life of learning and was a philanthropist at heart. Some of you may recognize his name from being one of the founders and CEO for Intel Corporation.  His life story consists of nothing but inimical, external pressures, the exact pressure needed to create a diamond. The kind of pressure that reveals so beautifully the misplacement of complacency in the human heart and mind.

Born in Hungary during World War II to a Jewish family, him and his mother took on fake identities to avoid being sent to Auschwitz. Due to the predisposition of his birth, and its time and location, the harsh reality of inferiority and hate swirled around him. (In 1944 nearly 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to concentration camps in as little as two months [1]. Andy lived in Budapest, Hungary from his birth of 1936 through 1956. No wonder he believed only the paranoid survive!)

Andy escaped to the United States at 20 years old and arrived destitute. He barely spoke English and worked as a busboy while he attended City College of New York for Chemical Engineering (anyone who gets a degree in Chemical Engineering is genius in my book). He later went on to earn his PhD from UC Berkley and soon after assisted in creating Intel [2].

Admittedly it’s hard not to love a “rags to riches” story, but this is more than that! Andy was forced to take risks and step outside of what he knew, complacency had no place in his life because it was not an option. Trials can be unbearable, but if anything they challenge us to always be doing more, working harder: we need struggle, we need opposition.

“Success breeds complacency.”

I love the first line of this quote. Success is not always temporary, but its effects are. The success of receiving a college degree, dropping 20 pounds, being promoted to a higher positon at work, earning a bonus to buy a new car–it all feels great at first and then with time what happens? WE GET BORED. What happens when we get bored–we become grumpy, depressed, and displaced.

Of course we want to strive to have successes like the ones I listed above. Yet the skewed belief still remains commonplace in the world that if you work hard enough to get the degree or pay raise or (insert the blank), you will have “made it” and no longer need to continue to strive for something greater. Lies!

First, every single person reading this right now CAN do things you NEVER imagined yourself doing. I know.

Second, God created you to be a creature who desires spiritual/intellectual nourishment, an appetite for knowledge. Inside you are talents waiting to be exploited and shared with the world, talents reposed in the fibers of what makes you special. You are special.

Let’s get down to the truth (sorry to any of my O-Town friends reading this right now), but my hometown of Ogden, Utah is a bubble. A majority of the people are complacent. People settle and they are unhappy. Yet, the worst part of growing up in a bubble is how many complacent adults would make the idea of doing something greater than the expectation seem complex or extremely tedious. Guess what? You want to become someone, you want to do something with your life? Then do it. Nothing is complex about it! When you put forth some effort, set some goals for yourself, and have faith in your mission, you will find it is actual quite simple. It is actual quite natural.

“Complacency breeds failure.”

I once had someone tell me “you never fail until you give up.” Complacency is giving up. You aren’t trying to do anything–you are doing nothing.

Who truly desires to become a failure? No one. If you think failure is for you, then message me and I will tell you all the reasons why you are wrong. I am only speaking from my heart to the heart of my readers. I know how hard it is to find joy, peace, and fulfillment when you choose to be complacent and I also know complacency is a choice. Think bigger, aim higher.

When my husband and I first moved away from “our bubble” to San Diego it was new, exciting and especially challenging. Miles away my family laughed and shared new memories without me. Not to mention, as we waited for our apartment to be ready for move-in, we lived in about 6 different places in the span of 2 weeks, lugging our stuff to and from various hotels. One time we stayed in the solar technicians’ apartment. The place reeked of pee and alcohol, but it taught me to be grateful, no matter the condition, when you have a roof over your head–to many in the world a safe place to rest your head at night is considered a luxury.

Bills started becoming a normal thing (not to mention the crazy high electric bill out there–on some BS). It was a struggle and then it got easier and soon we were bored. So we moved to NYC and said bring on the next chapter!

Point of the story is: many parts of who I am today are greatly due to the experiences I had in Cali, I claimed many new successes I never even thought of seeking, I never even knew existed.

Not everyone needs to move somewhere new to take off the twenty-pound backpack filled with demotivation, dissatisfaction, and time wasted. If a twenty-pound backpack sits atop your shoulders and is getting heavy, take it off for a sec. See how you feel and do what feels natural. Maybe you run a little, do a dance, explore a new path. Challenge yourself, prove yourself right. Then do it again.

“Only the paranoid survive.”

Pretty sure if weed was legal on a federal level more people would be surviving! Haha! 🙂

Much can be found in between the lines of this brilliant saying…I recently read many interpretations on what Andy Grove meant by his profound statement, each one unique. Take away your own interpretation, maybe even share it with a friend.

To me, paranoia is a feeling associated with discomfort. It is a feeling of threat. Typically when we do not feel comfortable or threatened, it gives us reason to move–do something–change the game!

“Some of us have had plenty of practice developing and accepting behaviors that keep us complacent, bored with life, completely mediocre, and mentally defeated, which can deteriorate our ability to thrive.” -Rhona “Rho” Bennett

If we assume “striving” is the same as “thriving” we can see similarities to what both Andy and Rho are trying to tell us.

Maybe only those who are constantly on their guard, preparing their minds, accentuating their strengths, accepting of their frailties, refusing to trust others who hinder their development, will be the ones to survive in the end. The ones who thrive; prosper; flourish.

Just remember, the choice is up to you. You choose whether or not you want to rid the extra weight…

Much love,

KelseyWithSomeJo ❤

Citations:

[1]: Information acquired from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s official website: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005458

[2]: Exact names and dates pertaining to Andy Grove’s life were taken from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Grove