On turning 21, and 21 things

January 18, 2010
While you're reading this, I'm finishing up my weekend in San Diego. Depending on the time, I'm sight seeing downtown with my besties, or driving home to Long Beach - that's right, home. My new home.

Driving makes me think a lot about things. I think about scenery, the time, gas, coffee, and I think a lot about myself, and who I should be, and what I am.

I've been doing A LOT of driving this week.

I have this sure feeling in the pit of my stomach, every time I go somewhere new, that I get to be new. It may be for a week, or a month, or two days, but if I'm driving far from where I am, I get to start over for however long it is.

I especially love moving, because it means a start over for good. 

I have been focusing a lot on Haiti lately. That focus comes from my heart. I miss the children I worked with. I think about the children I worked with. My family is preparing (and hoping) to help in ways that I do not have freedom to speak of yet, and my heart wishes for nothing more than to be there helping. But this weekend was my birthday, and I celebrated, in the midst of feeling sorrow over everything happening in Haiti - and waiting for news of Spend. It was my friend Val, who often reminds me of truth and picks me up, who helped me to have a right perspective on celebration this weekend.

I told her I was having a hard time not feeling guilty celebrating in the midst of so much hurt to so many people. She reminded me that my sitting at home on my birthday wouldn't bring anyone's sister back - wouldn't rebuild buildings, couldn't restore anyone's mother to them. That struck a chord in me, and reminded me of my first trip to Haiti, when I wrote my dad and told him I had a hard time eating one day after watching malnourished children bang on the doors of the van I was driving in. He told me to eat - and to eat well. If I was starving, I couldn't help children. If I didn't have the ability and the freedom and the prosperity to do things like enjoying my family and friends, I wouldn't be able to go help. I wouldn't be able to give of myself this summer in Africa. I wouldn't be able to ask the friends and family who wanted to celebrate with me to help me in giving to the children I love.

I believe that we must remember that we are given good, just as we are given bad. Death, life, sorrow, laughter - all of it is given to us, to enjoy or to work through, sorrow through or laugh through. And, in the midst of all this pain, I had an amazing weekend. I was given so much joy - and I have wonderful memories.

More on Haiti to come this week.

In the same vein, I'd like to share with you what my goals are for this next year. I've found in moving that if I don't plan on shaping the changes that happen - they just happen, and often the change in me isn't change I wanted, and it's change that must be undone.

I took some time out this week to think through some of the things I'd like to see happen for me this year - some of them are silly, some are serious: 

21 things:

1. To laugh more at myself.
2. To allow criticism to be a constructive force in my life through checking my life for it's validity when it comes, and letting it roll off when people accuse me of things I know aren't true - to use a Val-ism, I'd like to learn to, "touch and go."
3. To realize when my friendship is important to someone, and to give it more freely.
4. On the same note, to be better at saying no when I need to, so that I can give a more honest "yes."
5. To be willing to put myself in positions where I could be rejected.
6. To be more passionate about the things I am passionate about.
7. To not have to defend myself all the time, but to be willing to be the things I am without needing other people to approve of them.
8. To be wrong without being devastated that I am wrong.
9. To send letters to those the little voice inside of me says to write letters to.
10. To stop wishing that I had someone else's talent/personality/passion.
11. To better use my talents/personality/passions by embracing them, and letting myself breathe.
12. To be exuberant about the success of others, and to have genuine joy in bringing happiness to them.
13. To become even snootier about coffee.
14. To be good with the "maybes" in my life - relationships, jobs, trips, schools...adoptions in my family, sicknesses in my family..
15. To sing with the radio, even when people I just met are in the car.
16. To learn to play pool.
17. To wait to make judgments, until judgments must be made.
18. To accept my toes without nail polish.
20. To write/think/live big - and from my heart - no matter what people have to say.
21. To do the things that I feel in my gut I should do - like this. 

 NOTE: I raised (you gave) $512 towards the children that I worked with in Haiti. I hope that that number will grow throughout this week. My birthday party with all my friends from school/cities North of Long Beach is Friday, January 22nd. I plan on ending my birthday wish that day. Please spread the word about it until then!


Adam said...

You have an impressive blog, Shanley. I have never been a follower of blogs, however, yours seems to be something worth reading. I dig it for sure.

Killer photos of your birthday. didn't I see anything about a Zebra Mocha, though. Hmm.

Shanley Knox said...

Oh! you're right. However, I do believe the zebra mocha story deserves a post all it's own. Email me? We can do a post about your work, and I'll give a shout out to your most generous moment of charity last week. I REALLY needed that mocha :)