Toushae

Category: Writing

From Mountaineer to Michigander: What two years in the “mitten” has taught me

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Has it really been two years since I uprooted myself from West Virginia and replanted in Michigan? I feel like I just got here. But maybe that’s just because it took me so long to get settled. Regardless, if there is one thing I’ve learned about life these past two years it’s this:

Making the wrong decision teaches you exactly who you want to be.

I am going to be raw and real honest for a second. I probably should not have moved to Michigan. It took me a year and a phone call with my mom at 2 AM to realize this. A phone call that ended in tears (just like the many that preceded it). I was angry and wanted to pick up and move home to West Virginia and just start over. When I realized I hadn’t made the “winning” decision for my future, I knew I could either accept my loss or I could learn from it.

With God’s help, I chose to stay in Michigan and learn.

The past two year’s I have learned that happiness has to start with yourself and can only be enhanced by (not dependent on) others. I have learned that my mom was right, “this too shall pass”. I’ve learned that home doesn’t always have to be a place. I’ve learned that my religion is Jesus. I’ve learned that sometimes the only person you need to forgive is yourself. I’ve learned that people with the most “stuff” are often the poorest. I’ve learned that beauty isn’t found in a bare minerals box. I’ve learned that investing in people is worth it. I’ve learned only doers make mistakes. I’ve learned that I can keep going, long after I think I can’t. I’ve learned when I really, really want to make a change, I can. I’ve learned the only person who will ever hold me back is myself. Most importantly, I’ve learned there is still so much for me to learn.

Thank you, Michigan. You’re not too shabby.

-Shae

Just Keep Moving

I have something on my heart I just have to share. Y’all know I only post on here when I actually have something to say and this time is no different.

I went for my run tonight and started off on a slower pace knowing I was running long distance. As I was jogging and cars went zooming by, I thought about how many people probably thought “dang that girl is going slow”. Maybe no one did, I don’t know. Regardless, I got to thinking about how if someone did think I was running slow, they had no idea how far I actually had to pace myself to go, nor how far I’d already run.

“You have no idea how far I have to go or how far I’ve already gone,” I thought.

Wow. As I kept running I started to think about how that applies to other aspects of life. So often, we judge people from afar without knowing how far they have to go or even how far they have already come.

So here’s my words for everyone out there “running”. Whether you’re just starting your run and pacing yourself, are halfway there, or reached the finish line and getting ready to start the next run — stay strong and determined. Do not let the judgement of others affect your pace. When your body starts to exhaust, keep going. When you feel like you can’t go one more step, keep going. Even if you have to walk, keep going. And most importantly, do not forget that some runs are going to be better than others, but it does not matter so long a you just keep moving forward. You are capable of so much more than you believe. Mind over matter, y’all. Mind over matter.

XO,

Shae

My Mission Trip to Haiti

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

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Photo by Kristina Graham

Growing up, I’ve had a fire in my soul for changing the world. The older I’ve gotten, experience and God’s word has taught me a very important thing: I will never be able change the world, Jesus will do that — but I can change the world for one. So I’ll keep stopping and loving one person as a time, because this is my call at a Christian.

In October I’ll serve as the hands and feet of Jesus as I travel to the mountains of southeast Haiti with a group of people from my church (242 Community Church) and the organization, Raincatchers. With them, I’ll build simple, sustainable rainwater collection systems called Raincatchers.

A Raincatcher is a gutter made from plastic pipe, some tin to divert the water, and a sediment filter.  It will catch about a liter of water a minute. This will ultimately save the Haitians from having to walk 5-10 miles a day to get water.

But most importantly, not only will this help the people physically but more importantly, spiritually. While we are there installing these rain catchers we will tell the people why we are doing it and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

This is a wonderful opportunity; but, of course it is not easy and it is not free. With plane tickets, food and transportation, the cost becomes more than I can afford. That is why I created my gofundme account and ask that you consider a donation to help support me in helping these thirsty people.

I also ask you to commit the team and me to prayer while we are on this mission trip.

I am so excited for this mission trip and know God will open my heart to so much while I’m there. I literally cannot wait to spend my week in service to these Haitians.

Many thanks and God bless.

Shae

Life Changes

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People ask me all the time if I regret my decision to move to Ann Arbor considering my circumstances changed that originally brought me here. My jerk reaction has frequently been no. I didn’t want to regret moving here, so I always answered no, not knowing whether or not it was true.

But the more people have questioned my decision, the more I’ve sincerely thought about it: Do I regret moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a relationship that didn’t work out?

Peeling back my sometimes overly positive and optimistic layers, to my surprise the answer is still no. And it’s for three very big reasons.

When I really started to reflect on it I thought: how could I ever regret moving for something that I once wanted so bad? Moving here and starting a life with my long-term boyfriend was something my 18-year-old self dreamt about for five long years. I deserved that year living with him. Our relationship did. And now having done it, I will never, ever look back and wonder “what if?”. I know in my heart we gave it our all and that year was the final chapter to a very tumultuous story line.

The second thing that makes me not regret my decision an ounce is the the happiness I have felt from the friendships I have made. I started to think about all the beautiful and loving people I wouldn’t have met had I not moved here. I mean I found people who barely knew me and were willing to lend me both their hands to help and ears to listen (and usually always brought a bottle of wine). I have found a handful a people of I consider soul sisters and I know that is rare. From my co-workers to the girlfriends that have stumbled (drunken pun intended, Nagini) their way into my life the past year — they have all been a huge blessing from God. Thinking of never having met them is reason enough for me NOT to regret ending up in Ann Arbor.

And finally, I have come to peace with my decision to move here because I know I am right where God wants me. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my 23 years, it’s that like so many other time periods in my life (college, my summer in Phoenix, high school, etc.), I am going to look back and miss this one too. And that thought makes me love this place and these moments so much.

I have an immense amount of faith in God’s plan for my life and I have no time for regret or looking backwards.. after all, I’m not going that way.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, I love you so freaking much (even if I do complain about you and your weather 90% of the time).

Shae

Valentine’s 2♡15

 

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My heart is so happy I could explode. I have had a crazy, unexpectedly good week. So good that I prioritized writing about it right now over food (and we all know how food trumps all in my life). Before you ask, nothing monumental happened, just little blessings from God all week long.

They piled up and as I reflected on my week during my car ride home this morning, I started to think about Valentines Day and its significance. I love Valentines Day. I love heart shaped things, red is my favorite color, and my dad always makes for the BEST Valentine. I have tried to deny it because it feels wrong for a single woman to love this “holiday”, but I’m laying my cards ( a stack of hearts, hahah see what I did there?) on the table. I am sorry y’all, but I still LOVE VALENTINES DAY.

This year is different though. I’ve always taken this day and thought about how it represented how much someone else loved me. Usually my dad (thanks for always coming through dad) or a boyfriend if I have one, but this year it is all about self-love. No seriously. I know that’s cliche, but when I was reflecting, I realized that I have never had as much self-love as I do for myself right now. I got teary-eyed thinking about the journey to being this content with my life: all the people that helped and all that God touched to make it work.

I am blessed beyond measure. I am a woman of self-love, friendship, family, and God and those are some of the best Valentines a girl could EVER ask for.

Happy Valentines Day, loves.

XOXO

Shae

You Do You Boo..

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January 2015 has taught me more about myself than I thought was possible in a month’s time. No, seriously.

At the end 2014, I felt happy, but I was still decluttering my shelves from my breakup. There were so many logistics that had to be sorted and my bursts of happiness often got dampened by the responsibility of putting “that” to rest. And then once I was finally able to close the chapter, I went home to my family for the Christmas season. So my test of independence didn’t feel real until the morning of January 2 when I packed up my Jeep for Michigan. I hugged my dad goodbye and for some reason as I pulled out of the driveway, it felt like this was the first time I was actually moving away from home.

The chaos of the last six months that was my life was finally over and my canvas was blank. What would I draw? How would I do it? Is this going to be ok? Am I making the right decision? Fear started to cloud my mind, but as I headed north, I mustered every ounce of self-determination I had left and decided there was no better time or place than now.

Although leaving West Virginia that day was hard, God has shown me Ann Arbor is exactly where I am meant to be right now. I have literally had the time of my life this past month and I say that with whole-hearted sincerity. There haven’t been any monumental circumstances that have made it so magnificent (besides carrying a 52″ TV up a flight of stairs all by myself hahaha), I’ve just taken my life and realized the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is my attitude. Right now, my life is and should be an adventure.

I feel more me than I ever have before. I am learning more about myself (what I want, where I’m meant to be, what my passions are) and my relationship with God is stronger than ever.

If this month is any sign of the year to come, watch out world.. 2015 is my year.

PS My favorite song right now is Uptown funk. The pictures from above are me gettin’ down to it. 😉

Here’s to February!

-Shae

Thank You 2014

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Naturally, the end of a year is accompanied by some self-reflection. And maybe I’m starting mine a little early, but that’s mostly because I have spent a large part of my year doing that already.

It has been quite the year. I haven’t even had the energy to write on here since August, which in itself, is so unlike me. You see, going into 2014, I knew I wanted to make some changes in my life. And being just a tad bit cliche, I decided I wanted to focus on getting healthy. So I prayed about it a little and decided to dedicate myself to my physical health.

Well little did I know, God’s definition of healthy was much broader than my own. Coming to the end of 2014, I have literally flip-flopped my entire life. Everything has changed since this point last year.

I was really struggling going into the new year and narrow-mindedly, I thought it was only with my weight. But, there was a much deeper issue.

I had planted myself in a pot of comfort. My roots dug deep into that comfort zone and anytime I thought about replanting myself, self-doubt killed me. I really, really struggled. I’m talking anxiety, depression, lots of tears, and many phone calls home to mom. In August, I was so close to giving up and moving home to West Virginia. I honestly thought it was the answer to find any sort of peace of mind again. I prayed about it and became so confused and frustrated in trying to decide what direction to take my life. I just kept praying and waiting for something to change.

But then one day it hit me..  How could I ever pray for God to make changes in my life if I wasn’t willing to move my own feet? And just like that, I knew whole-heartedly that was God’s answer to my prayers. I took every ounce of courage I had and uprooted myself from my little pot of comfort and replanted in to the a huge field of uncertainty and possibility.

I am not going to lie to you, replanting myself and making the decision I did was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was a long and scary process, but with my amazing support group of friends and family, I made it.

And so here I am at the end of 2014. Is everything in my life perfect? No. As a daughter of Christ, I’ll always have growing and changing to do. But for right now, I am one relieved and happy girl.

Thank you, Lord.

-Shae

13 Things You Can’t Forget to Take to College!

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Tomorrow is move-in day for WVU’s newest freshmen class and with the help of two other former RAs (Ty & Lauren), I have put together a list of things you absolutely can’t forget to pack for your dorm room. Trust us, after moving in and out of the dorms multiple times, we’ve got the whole “living in a tiny space with no AC” thing down. Of course there’s the obvious list: toiletries, notebooks, pillows, and all those electronics you’d never leave home without but, but we wanted to bring you a list of the things you’d probably forget! Here’s what we say you shouldn’t leave home without as you take on college!

1. A fan — maybe even 2 fans!

So many dorms don’t have AC and that late August humidity is no joke in West Virginia and we had so many residents show up without fans. Don’t forget this one!!

2. Designated SHOWER SHOES

The caps are to reiterate…no scream the importance. Ew. I repeat shower shoes.

3.  A power strip

Extension cords are a big no, no in the dorm world. But, power strips are fair game!

4. An emergency clothing kit

This includes needle and thread, safety pins, lint roller, stain remover pen, and a few extra buttons.

5. Dish soap

You’re going to want to wash those dishes you use for your late night snacking! 😉

6.  Door stopper

It’s Friday night and your still shy about going out (that’ll change soon). You decided to stay in and your roommate is MIA. You’re feeling a little homesick and lonely but don’t want to pitch a tent in the hallway. A door stopper is a great way for you to be able to keep your door open and make some new friends! 🙂

7.  Water bottle

After thirsty Thursday your going to feel EXTRA thirsty on Friday morning. Okay, so water is for more than rehydration after a night out so in all seriousness, having a water bottle you can throw in your bag is awesome! You’ll be more likely to grab that instead of vending machine sodas!

8. Umbrella and rain boots

You will come to hate the rain in college for two reasons: one it makes skipping class even more enticing and two, classes are never cancelled for rain. So yay for getting soaked on your way to class! Having a good pair of rain boots and umbrella will make the rain a little less dreadful.

9. Coins for laundry

Ramsack your house, car, and couches for change to do laundry before you leave home! Most washer and dryers take cards now, but take advantage of all that change laying around at home before you dip into your bank account! Seriously $1.25 a load for wash and $1.25 for dry gets expensive.. QUICK.

10.  Pack things that create storage

Pack in storage containers that can slide under your bed or a small shelving unit that can fit in a corner, it’s important to maximize your space because well …you don’t have much!

11. A printer

It seems like a no brainer, but the number of times we had residents knock on our door for printing is an insane amount. Look, school is stressful and the last thing you want to worry about is finishing an assignment or needing a sheet of notes for class and not being able to get to them! Yes there will be printers in the library, and in the student union, but hello? What if you finish a paper at 3 AM or forget to print it entirely?  Yes, other people in your dorm will have printers, but what if they start charging you for ink or aren’t home when you need it printed?

Take away the added stress of worrying about printing and bring your own! We get it, printers are expensive but they last a long time and it’s worth it for the convenience! Plus, who doesn’t love some self-reliance? 😉

12. Garbage Bags

This seems so silly or even obvious, but your dorm room does not come with garbage bags. Be sure and bring some small ones that will fit the size of your tiny can!

13.  An open mind

Look, we are going to be honest. You’re going to be living in close quarters with someone for the next year. Go in with an open mind. They will inevitably get on your nerves and you will get on theirs, but it’s not the end of the world. Go in with an open mind and patience. Learn something new about yourself based on your roommates interests. And most importantly, have fun!

Love former Boreman’s former RA’s,

Shae, Ty, and Lauren

Shout out to Ty & Lauren for their contribution to my blog post! Be sure and follow them both on their post grad journeys!

 

What is Pretty?

Beyonce has started a social media campaign asking her fans to answer “What is pretty?” Three words that I have taken some time to whole-heartedly consider. At first I thought about the media’s definition of a female being pretty: tall, thin, polished, most likely blonde, blue eyes, and fit. A cookie cutter definition of beautiful that almost all of us do not fit, but for years have been trying to reshape ourselves into. Look at it this way, picture each woman as a cookie (bear with me). All different shape, sizes, flavors, and each with their own uniqueness. And then there is what we are to believe is pretty: a triangle shaped cookie (yawn). Simple, yet perfectly shaped.  First of all how often do you actually see a triangle shaped cookie? And a perfect one at that? Exactly. It’s rare, just like the media’s definition of beautiful.

So what is pretty by my own definition? I can’t even begin to confine the definition of pretty to looks, personality, or even talents. We are all crazy different and each so beautiful. To me, pretty is living your own life. Pretty is traveling to all the places your heart is yearning to feel, touch, and absorb. Pretty is being able to look into the eyes of the hurt and blessing them throughout your own journey. Pretty is having the patience to reach into your own heart and brain to dig for your dreams and then to have the courage to make them reality. To me, pretty is a free spirit.

Because at the end of the day I don’t care what color you are, what fad diet your trying, when your last blowout was, how much weight you’ve lost, what your size is, how tall you are. No, I want to know if you are living, laughing, traveling, blessing, digging, striving, fighting, loving, eating, praying, and so much more.

Pretty isn’t an adjective. It’s a verb.

I hope each of my lady readers doesn’t just feel beautiful today, I hope you know that YOU are beautiful.

Now go eat a cookie! It’s been a long week. 😉

-Shae

PS Go check out Beyonce’s campaign and other awesome answers on whatispretty.com.

Pay It Forward

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I still vividly remember my first time helping someone. Sure, I remember plenty of Saturdays full of my parents dragging my brother and I to volunteer with the church, but this time was different. This time, it was my own decision to help. It was finally summer and my brother and I had just spent an afternoon at the park. Exhausted and damp from the southern humidity, we headed home for a popsicle. As we began our short walk home, we noticed our widowed, elderly neighbor, Mrs. Haney, weighed down by a heavy load of white, plastic grocery bags. It is an image that is still imprinted in my mind. She walked so slow that she seemed to be bobbing back and forth. I remember looking at her still in her slippers and nightgown and feeling an unfathomable sadness, a feeling I would come to later know as sympathy. I knew those bags she was struggling to hang onto had come from the dairy mart and I knew she had been walking for a long while. I don’t think I even had to tell my brother to come and help. Before I knew it, we had taken the bags from her and carried them up a small, but steep set of steps onto her porch. I don’t remember what she said to us, I only remember her trying to give my brother and I both a dime. Of course we refused any amount of money and raced home to tell my mom about our good deed. I look back now realizing that helping Mrs. Haney was the foundation for me wanting to spend my life giving back.

I truly believe God gives us unique talents that he entrusts us to discover and then go out and use to showcase His love in our everyday work. However, as I have gotten older,  I’ve noticed there is one talent each and every one of us have in common. I know, it may be hard to believe you have something in common with Beyonce or Kevin Durant, but bear with me. If I’ve learned anything in my 23 years, it is that all of human creation has the ability to go out and and do something to positively impact someone. Maybe it is changing someone’s life through your music, but like I learned as a kid, it can also be as simple as carrying someone’s groceries.

In life too often, success is measured by large, monumental  moments in our careers and personal lives. But to me, success is measured by the amount of people we touch during our time on Earth. The beauty of measuring success this way is that not only can each and everyone of us do it, but we can do it every single day. We should do it every single day. It can happen through smiling at a stranger, lending a hand, cracking a joke, donating your time, donating your money, feeding a homeless man, holding a door, or just saying thank you.

YOU can make a difference and YOU can change the world for one person.

And when we are drawing our final breaths in this life, I believe the meaningfulness of our time will come from the being able to answer the question, “What good did I do for others?”.

A better world is possible. Now go restore faith in humanity.

-Shae