My Greatest Strength, My Biggest Downfall

I took the StrengthsFinder test this year and discovered my top strength was achiever. Suddenly my entire life was summed up and explained to me in this one word. Achiever. My entire life has been driven by the need to make things happen, to create, to build, to run at life with a passion that often exhausted me. It also explained my frustrations in life, how I became agitated at immobility, at being stagnant, at feeling held back in achieving my dreams and goals. When I finally saw this about myself, it helped me to recognize my biggest asset and strength in life, as well as my biggest downfall and weakness.

As I see it, I have two choices in the matter. I can use my strength for good and learn to manage the downsides, or I can let it cripple me and hold me back or make me feel like I am completely useless.

I still haven’t figured out quite how to do this, but I believe that God gave us each different strengths for a reason and that we are meant to use those gifts in the world. The more we can understand about ourselves and the person God created us to be, the more we are able to find the path that God calls us towards.

Throughout my life, God speaks to me through my determination at working hard, starting on a new project, and the joy at seeing the fruits of my labor. This is how God communicates to me, this is where God leads me.


Here’s to walking our own path.


Yours truly,
a girl who dreams


Living Honestly, Living with Positivity

Living Honestly
Living in relationship with others helps us to live (if we allow it) more honestly and humbly. Other people reflect back to us aspects of ourselves we might not have realized before. By seeing that reflection, it helps me to examine and reflect on how I might be perceived by others. Being in a long-term relationship, for example has shown me so many things about myself I had never noticed before. Some of them silly or trivial – I had never realized, for example, how my cooking can sometimes resemble the swedish chef, or the fact that constantly tripping over things or dropping things is not actually normal for the average person (the struggle is real). But there are serious things I’ve learned as well. Like how I can no longer run away from my cranky self, my bad moods, and pretend that they don’t exist. I have to face them head on and learn how to ask for support, time by myself, or just a nice big hug. I have learned that my positivity or negativity can affect how others see me. I have learned much about myself through the eyes of others.

Living with Positivity
With that said, this Lent I have decided to adjust my attitude towards a more positive one. It doesn’t mean I hope to be happy dappy and chipper everyday. It simply means that even on tough days I am trying to not dwell on things I cannot control and to put a positive spin on the situation.

I realized this morning that in order for me to cultivate a truly positive spirit, I must first recognize and show gratitude for the many blessings in my life that bring joy, and I must also better learn the Ignatian spiritual practice of detachment. If I can get those two things down, I will make it.

Detachment, despite the awkward soundingness (almost like cold and calculated) of the word, actually just means that one refuses to attach oneself to any object, person, idea, etc. as their ultimate means of happiness. Things happen in life. One minute you’re running happily through the neighborhood, the next thing you know, your phone slaps on the cement sidewalk. Shattered screen (yes, this did actually happen to me this weekend). A person who practices detachment would be able to accept that physical objects come and go and that happiness does not come from phones. Instead, our happiness is rooted in our faith and relationship with God. Detachment sets you free, allowing you to pass through life unafraid of what might happen, what might break, what you might lose and accept that all things pass away. But no one can take away your attitude in life, or your love for God.

Maintaining positivity starts with being grateful for all the things in life I have been given and, really, how wonderful they are. Friendships, warm beds, the ability to go to college, living in eternal sunshine, food in the refrigerator, a refrigerator (I have gone without one before, it’s not easy), a loving boyfriend, a fun family, the list goes on. The more I can recognize what I already have, the more I can see how blessed my life is, and to not be impatient when I don’t get what I want right now. I can sit back and know that things will come together in time, and that even if they don’t, or if they come and then leave again, my happiness will not be dependent on any of these things.

My dear friends, pray for me to cultivate a joyous spirit of positivity through Ignatian detachment and a grateful heart this Lenten season.

Yours truly,
a girl who dreams


Am I Good Enough?

am i good enough

I used to have a guitar student who could play a mean improv rock solo. His fingers slid up and down the fretboard, masterfully plucking out a melody that always evoked a few dropped jaws and a whole lot of awestruck stares from onlookers. He’d then finish abruptly as if suddenly self conscious about his playing and look up at me with his intense brown eyes, silently asking for confirmation. “Had I done a good job?” his eyes asked me in that brief flicker of a moment.

“Am I good enough?”

Despite how successful or talented we are, all of us have struggled with the feelings of inadequacy – not doing enough, giving enough, praying enough, not talented enough, beautiful enough, likable enough.

Our yearning to aspire for greatness, to better ourselves, and achieve our dreams and goals in life can sometimes bring us to the brink of a large canyon we find we are unable to leap over. Our ambition suddenly transforms into weakness, incompetence, inadequacy. We find ourselves lacking and our hearts ache with that realization. On days like that, we allow our minds to swarm with distorted ideas and beliefs of the measure of our abilities.

“I will never be good enough to do that.”

“I’m not pretty enough for a guy to like me.”

“I’m out of her league.”

“I’m not smart enough to apply to the school I want to.”

“I don’t have enough experience to get that job.”

“I don’t have the guts to do that.”

“I haven’t gotten to where I expected to be in life.”

These feelings of not being good enough can stem from outside influences – societal pressures, family expectations, comments from friends, even strangers – but most often, they come from within. We constantly compare ourselves to others. We fall short of our own expectations. We focus on what we haven’t done; we allow our failures to define us. We look over at the next person and think, “I’m not like them. Look how amazing and successful they are. Why can I not be more like them?”


Enough, friends. Enough.


The fact is, you are not like that person because you are not that person. You are YOU. You have different strengths and talents that were meant to be used by you alone. You are a child of God and you exist for a very specific reason. You were made in God’s image; you were created by the same artist who painted golden sunsets and fashioned delicate flower petals. You are God’s beloved.

sunset god's beloved

“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” ~ Job 33:4

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ~ Jeremiah 1:5

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” ~ Psalms 139:13-14

god's beloved

Don’t allow yourself to accept the idea that you are not good enough, for you have been carefully crafted into the person you are. God will continue to lead you to discover more about who you were meant to be and the path God is calling you towards. One of my favorite books, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, written by Fr. James Martin, speaks of vocation and discernment in life. Who are we called to be? Where is God leading us? How do we use our strengths and abilities to express God’s love and live in a more engaged and fulfilling way? Fr. James explains it simply:

“Each of us is called to a unique vocation in life, based on the desires that God plants within us, as well as our talents skills, and personalities…That means letting go of the wish to become someone else and remembering that your own vocation – not someone else’s – is the path to happiness. You don’t need to use anyone else’s map to heaven, because God has already placed within your soul all the directions you need.”

When we start focusing on what we know to be true to our self and our own unique strengths, we instill in ourselves the power to move with forward momentum. Despite our human limitations and weaknesses, we have the capability to persevere and triumph over our personal obstacles and challenges. No matter how inadequate we may feel at times, God is our cheerleader, inviting us to see just how wonderfully made and delightful a person we have grown to be. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of focusing on what we can do in the moment, to do our best with whatever we have and to not be afraid to use the gifts we’ve been given.

you are loved

What if I don’t know what my strengths are? What if I’m not talented at anything?

If you don’t know your own strengths and limitations, now is the perfect time to do a little personal reflection. Maybe go on a retreat, ask your friends and family for feedback, or spend some time alone to discover what is truly unique about YOU. If you think you are not talented at anything, YOU ARE WRONG. Everyone has gifts and talents and it is our life goal to discover and utilize those gifts.

“A rough and unshapen log has no idea that it can be made into a statue that will be considered a masterpiece, but the carver sees what can be done with it. So many…do not understand that God can mold them into saints, until they put themselves into the hands of that almighty Artisan.” ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola

Ultimately, when we stop comparing ourselves to others and start focusing on what God is calling us to, we refuse to be defined by others’ standards of success. Understanding and following the path God is calling each of us towards brings us to a more satisfying and fulfilling way of living. God knows exactly what we can excel best at and calls us to use those strengths. Start with what you know, build on your strengths, strive for what makes you feel alive, and let God do the rest.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson


My friends, you are God’s beloved. You are more than good enough.


Yours truly,
a girl who dreams

**This article was originally posted on the Words of Witness Blog.

Feeling Stuck? – Finding Freedom in the Stillness

live life to the fullest
I’m the type of person that if the world tells me I can’t do something, I prove to the world that I can.
“Your asthma might make it difficult for you to do strenuous exercise…”
“HA! I’m going to run every day.”

“You wouldn’t be able to do that, you’re shy…”
“HA! Just watch me.”
I’ve spent my entire life in continuous momentum – planning, doing, pushing, striving, working extra hard for what I want. Trying to overcome obstacles. Triumphing over challenges. When I encountered a, “No,” I pushed harder. Don’t take no for an answer. Inactivity is considered weakness. Stillness is being lazy.

And then I began to encounter periods in my life of suffocating inactivity and immobility in which I could not run away from. It was completely out of my control. Why won’t this project get off the ground faster? Why can’t I get to where I want to be in life? Why isn’t it happening when I want it to? Why am I the only one still behind in life?

I began to realize that the insane amount of energy and work I invested in my dreams and goals was not a guarantee of immediate success. I was not always going to be in control of everything that happened in my life and I needed to learn that it was ok to simply sit and wait in the stillness. To be patient. I am not always good at being patient.

God is the friend of silence

Why Do We Avoid Stillness?

Sometimes it feels like the world values most those who are constantly busy, constantly achieving success, and doing it very quickly. We seem to have forgotten about the principle of long-term, careful, and diligent work. What ever happened to slow and steady wins the race? Somewhere along the way we have learned to devalue stillness; we feel uncomfortable in silence.


“God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon, and sun, how they move in silence.” ~ Mother Teresa

Sometimes inaction – I prefer to think of it as resting and contemplating – is just as important as action. Sitting in stillness doesn’t mean that you give up on your dreams or goals. It just means you recognize that not everything in your life can be controlled. And there is freedom in accepting that – freedom to allow God to work in your life in unexpected ways.

“Be still, and know that I am God! ~ Psalm 46:10

Silence and stillness provide a way for your heart to become more receptive and open to God speaking to you. Those moments can help you reassess where you are and where you’re headed. As your limits are tested, you will grow and be strengthened in God’s presence, realizing that you are capable of much more than you thought possible.

I still believe in working hard for what you want. I affirm the fact that you must create the life you want to live. But, now I understand that is a life-long mission. Those who achieve incredible things in life have a passion that does not waver; they understand that it could take years, possibly an entire lifetime to achieve their goal. But their drive motivates them to continue on despite what feels like failure, setbacks, and people telling them that what they’re doing is a waste of time. They have a lifelong calling and work everyday towards that.

“A calling is a lifelong journey.”

St Ignatius lifelong calling

Lately I have taken to carrying good ole Saint Ignatius with me while I do my work. He did amazing things in his life (uh, like starting the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits order), but it didn’t happen quickly. He was disappointed when he wasn’t able to accomplish what he had originally thought he was supposed to. But throughout his life he continued to simply work on serving Christ, being a man for others, sticking true to his convictions despite setbacks and obstacles. I use that as a reminder to myself that a calling is a lifelong journey. I get impatient at waiting. I know my calling but I don’t know all the next steps to get where I need to be. I want to do something now. I want to take action. But I have to be reminded that hasty actions are not what God asks of us. God wants us to be educated, to understand, to listen, to be patient and persevere. To simply be still in the silence; to be in the presence of God. These are the things I want to be better at.
Yours truly,
a girl who dreams