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Bridget Connelly

As I reflect on the last few weeks, in the midst of pain, sadness and change, I have so much to be thankful for. Health, support, a lot of love, and truly the best friends and family a girl could ask for. I have also been thinking on what a gift it is to be alive — to start each day and to be surrounded by the ones you love. In the middle of confusion and life moves— I’m trying to remember these every day: Never take a moment for granted. Tell the ones you love, you love them every day. Forgive with your whole heart. Try not to dwell on the past. Stop worrying about the future. Be present. Take deeper breaths. Turn off your phone for awhile. Be still. Be present. Be grateful. A grateful heart can turn even some of the toughest situations into brighter ones. A grateful heart keeps hope alive. We all could use a little more hope. 

I saw recently that H.O.P.E. stands for “Hold on pain ends.” It is true, to some degree. When you experience deep suffering, it honestly feels like it will never go away. But day after day our hearts rebuild. They will always hurt, but we learn to live with that and embrace that. Please remember in loss, change, hurt, grief to have hope. It will pull us out of our dark places. It will help us put one foot in front of the other. It will enable us to accept our new surroundings. It will push us to where we need to be. 

These past few weeks and months for me have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. Extreme elation and joyfulness — meeting my new niece and traveling with loved ones. These emotions have been matched with wounds so deep, even breathing has seemed difficult — losing my cousin and loved ones we cherish deeply. Also paired with confusion and anxiousness as I struggled with the choice of moving for a career opportunity, changing careers but, staying in a place I have created home in San Diego, or finally moving back to my beloved Chicago. It has been a whirlwind of feelings. I am so grateful that through all of this I have been able to lean on friends, loved ones and my faith to help guide me through this next chapter of life. But anticipating this next chapter, and all the change it will bring, has scared the crap out of me. As much as I want to believe I am someone that can accept and embrace change as it comes, the older I get the more set in the ways I become. 

I will never forget what my friend Jedidiah once said to me, “I never want to get too comfortable. If I get too comfortable I fear that  I will stop growing.” He reminded me how important it is to take risks. To feel vulnerable. To feel scared about uncertain opportunities. It’s in these choices that your pushing yourself into a new place, a stronger place, a wiser place. It wont be easy when you pick the choice that scares the crap out of you. It can be incredibly frustrating and lonely at times, but in the end, I promise you, it's worth it.

I have loved my comfortable life in San Diego. The beautiful weather, the great friends and the somewhat easiness of life there. I have my routines, my favorite spots, and daily views of the Pacific— it’s a dream. It’s a home I have created and I am so thankful for that. The thought of change from my bubble here — moving and everything that would entail — has been consuming me these last few months. Filling me with anxiousness, stress and fear. It’s amazing/terrifying what your mind can do when it gets the best of you. When we lost our loved ones in the last few weeks, it completely humbled me and put everything into perspective. A move is a move. Change is hard, but good if you want it to be. In the end though it is simply a new chapter of your story you're writing.  I’m grateful to be alive and to be able to have that choice. I started to realize that if I decided to move I would be uncomfortable, but a healthy uncomfortable. One that I might not even know I needed — just like San Diego was when I arrived there.  And truth be told the moved seemed trivial compared to what is the focal point in my life and what always will be — the ones I keep closest to my heart. Recently, the move began to seem like not such a big deal. After many conversations, prayers and debating, we decided Dallas was exactly where we were supposed to be. Even though I am the queen of second guessing choices, I know that this choice — the hard, risky, scary one — is the right one for right now. 

Today I find myself in a quaint coffee shop in Dallas, by myself, sipping on a chai tea, wrapped in a sweater, and actually loving every minute of it. I’ve spent the week overwhelmed with unpacking and getting adjusted, but also discovering new gems — fun restaurants, adorable neighborhoods and running trails that have reminded me how much I’ve missed seasons! I never thought or imagined or quite frankly ever really wanted to live in Dallas (sorry Texans!), but life simply just doesn't go according to the plans we make. I’ve tried to stop making the long term plans. By all means, it’s great to set goals, but it’s important to avoid detailing out every moment of our lives and our futures. I’ve seen first hand these past few weeks and months, that really God is the only one that is in control of our plans. The more we try to control, the more we will drive ourselves crazy. I’m working on letting go of that sense of control and embracing whatever God has in store for me. Even though sometimes I don’t understand it and wish I could change the plans, I have to dig down deep and trust that this where I’m supposed to be. 

So often in life we are faced with challenging, risky and uncertain decisions. If you are facing that place in life— please know that even if you take a chance and it doesn't turn out the way you planned it —at least you tried. At least you challenged yourself — took a leap of faith and will be better off for it. You will look back with regret and wonder if you don’t take those risks you keep thinking and dreaming about, but never do the action part. We can never be fully present if we are constantly wondering “What If.” If you try, if you take a risk, whether you fail or thrive, know that you will always be successful. You braved the unknown. That’s more then most can say! Get out there, take on those fears, believe in yourself and watch yourself grow into who you are supposed to become.

Change might be so terrifying because of the unknown, because we have to let go of someone or something or some way of life. I read a quote that said, “ One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it's guilt, anger, love, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go.” I’ve experienced how hard it is to let go. To hold on to a time where someone we loved was still with us, or when a relationship was still good, or a family was still together, or a certain home was still lived in. Letting go and holding on go hand in hand. It’s painful, challenging, and can be downright awful to let go of memories, places and most importantly people. Through the changes, suffering and loss though, I’m trying to find peace. Peace and contentment in the midst of turmoil and change is such a gift. It’s something that I know is not easy, and something I work at continually, but I know it’s possible. Change is one of the hardest lessons we will learn — but it will happen. And it’s how we navigate through these changes that will ultimately make us stronger and help shape the direction of our future.  

Although I don’t know what this journey will look like for me here in Dallas — I know it’s a risk. I know I don’t know many people. But I know the deeper wounds of change, loss and letting go and I’m looking at this change as a positive thing. A new way to push myself, to learn more about myself, to meet new lifelong friends, experience a new city and all that it has to offer. And to remind myself continually what is the most important in life — faith, family and friends. I will never stop missing sunny San Diego and sweet home Chicago, or the ones I love that I can’t see every day and the ones I love that I will wait to see again one day. But right now, I’m trying to find peace in all these changes, absorb and embrace the ways I’m learning and growing, be grateful for all the ways I am blessed, and cherish every minute of this precious day— and right now this crisp winter day and warm chai tea~