When you're worried about the future...

Sometimes, I get really worried about how my life is going to turn out. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one, but at least once a week, I wonder what everything will look like in the future: Will things work out? (Probably.) Will I figure it out…whatever it is? (Here’s hoping.) Will French fries ever stop being a food group? (Nope.)

Happy Endings are our thing. We picture them, we work for them, and maybe more often than we would like to admit, we worry about them. There’s something so awesome about the 100%-guaranteed, cue-the-swell-of-happy-music wonderfulness of happily ever after, that we chase it…not just in all things romance, but in work, in friendships, in adventures, and really, just in life. The ending means it is over: We did it! Time to sit back, live large and love larger, and enjoy the magic of the last chapter.

But it isn’t about the ending, even the happy ones. It’s about the story.

I’m a happily-ever-after person. I like it when hard work pays off and when movie endings are slightly predictable, when you can believe everything is going to work out okay in the end. But the happily-ever-after isn’t what makes the book worth reading. The story is.

We all have these books—our lives. We’re living stories. The things we do, places we go, things we watch and read and eat, our secrets and our dreams, the things we love and things we loathe, our big failures and big(ger) successes, the people we love and lose—these things write sentences on our souls that turn into the chapters of our lives. They make us, us.

Some chapters we can’t wait to close: Bad days. Bad weeks. Broken hearts, big messes, bruised egos, and bad decisions. Others, we wish told the whole story—the moments where we get to be our own hero, or, even better, the hero for someone else.

But this is what I’ve learned: All those chapters are parts of us. There is no one part that’s better or greater than another…because we need them all.

Together, they are greater than whatever ending. Maybe it isn’t about happily-ever-after so much as it is making every moment as happy as possible. Getting the happiest sentences, the most interesting chapters.

It’s easy to worry about the ending, the future, because we want it to turn out magnificently. What’s a little tougher—but incredibly more meaningful—is focusing on making today okay. Making it good. Making it happy, wherever we can. Writing a story that, someday, when we’re sitting in the middle of our ending, when the future is now, we want to go back and read.

No more somedays, one-days, or world’s greatest endings.

Pick up your pen. Write your now.

Rainesford
The Monday Life-Communications
@Rainesford 

What Monday means to me...

  We know, we know. Ugh. Yuck. Snooze button. It's Monday: School, work, the grind of the week. But we have the power to change the meaning of Monday. We make Friday our glory day: TGIF! (or TGIT, if you're a Scandal watcher...) Make your big weekend plans! It's the time for fun, friends, dates, and refusing to remove your sweatpants until there is absolutely no choice.  So if Friday is all about good times and great weekend plans...what's Monday all about? I've only known about The Monday Life for a few years, but I've always been a Monday-lover. It started with my favorite ballet class being on a Monday all throughout childhood. Then, I got a little older and began falling in love with the clean-slate, carpe-diem feeling that comes along with the M-word. Now, I see Mondays as a way of changing the world. So I started thinking about how different days mean different things to people. How there are different things we look forward to-not just on Friday, but every day: Pay day. Days off. Holidays that are really special. Days we've planned a trip or something else incredible. Days we get to see people who matter to us. And that got me thinking about what Monday means. Sure, we all wish we could sleep an hour later or skip that really boring thing we probably have to do today...but we also get this insanely wonderful, spectacularly present opportunity to do something TODAY. To make this day, a Monday, matter. We have the chance to find what inspires us or chase a goal or change someone's life. Yes, you. You can totally change someone's life...not even with just $1 (though we think it'd be pretty cool if you did...) but by just showing up. By being kind. By trying your best. By doing all these beautiful, small, colorful things that wind up coloring in your awesome illustration of a life. So what does Monday mean to me? That I can keep going. That it's another day to conquer something that terrifies me (in the good, slightly nauseous, heart-pounding way) or to talk to that person or to learn something new. This Monday, and every Monday, we get to leave a little piece of ourselves in the week. In the world. Let's make it good. In case you needed to hear it this Monday: Keep going. You're going to be great.  (PS: We want to know what Monday means to you. Shoot us an email (rainesford@themondaylife.org) with the meaning behind your Monday, and we'll publish it to our blog.) Rainesford Alexandra The Monday Life, Communications @Rainesford 

 

We know, we know. Ugh. Yuck. Snooze button. It's Monday: School, work, the grind of the week.

But we have the power to change the meaning of Monday.

We make Friday our glory day: TGIF! (or TGIT, if you're a Scandal watcher...) Make your big weekend plans! It's the time for fun, friends, dates, and refusing to remove your sweatpants until there is absolutely no choice. 

So if Friday is all about good times and great weekend plans...what's Monday all about?

I've only known about The Monday Life for a few years, but I've always been a Monday-lover. It started with my favorite ballet class being on a Monday all throughout childhood. Then, I got a little older and began falling in love with the clean-slate, carpe-diem feeling that comes along with the M-word. Now, I see Mondays as a way of changing the world.

So I started thinking about how different days mean different things to people. How there are different things we look forward to-not just on Friday, but every day: Pay day. Days off. Holidays that are really special. Days we've planned a trip or something else incredible. Days we get to see people who matter to us.

And that got me thinking about what Monday means. Sure, we all wish we could sleep an hour later or skip that really boring thing we probably have to do today...but we also get this insanely wonderful, spectacularly present opportunity to do something TODAY. To make this day, a Monday, matter. We have the chance to find what inspires us or chase a goal or change someone's life. Yes, you. You can totally change someone's life...not even with just $1 (though we think it'd be pretty cool if you did...) but by just showing up. By being kind. By trying your best. By doing all these beautiful, small, colorful things that wind up coloring in your awesome illustration of a life.

So what does Monday mean to me?

That I can keep going. That it's another day to conquer something that terrifies me (in the good, slightly nauseous, heart-pounding way) or to talk to that person or to learn something new.

This Monday, and every Monday, we get to leave a little piece of ourselves in the week. In the world. Let's make it good.

In case you needed to hear it this Monday: Keep going. You're going to be great. 

(PS: We want to know what Monday means to you. Shoot us an email (rainesford@themondaylife.org) with the meaning behind your Monday, and we'll publish it to our blog.)

Rainesford Alexandra
The Monday Life, Communications
@Rainesford 

So it's almost Valentine's Day and you haven't met The Great Love of Your Life...

A note from The Monday Life team: Our hearts are with Dean Smith’s family & all those in the community who loved and respected him. He not only made basketball better, he made the world better…and his legacy will inspire us every day. 

--

So the person you have a crush on didn’t text you back. You just broke up with somebody. You haven’t met the right person yet.

And it’s almost Valentine’s Day.

You’re prepared to cozy up with the essentials:

#1. More Chinese food than should be allowed (pizza could also be substituted here)

#2. Chocolate (or, if you’re me, all the sour candy in the universe)

#3. The Notebook (come on, you’re better than this! Even Ryan Gosling thinks so)

Honestly, on a day that’s all about being together, it’s easy to feel lonely. Or bummed. Or maybe even a little bitter.

But sometimes, especially on the day devoted to giant teddy bears (what do people do with those things, anyway?) and candy hearts, we forget something really cliché, and really important:

We forget that there are so many different kinds of love in this world. And I bet most of us are lucky enough to have experienced a few of them.

It’s easy to get caught up in what love is “supposed to” look like: Grand romantic gestures, dozens of flowers, surprise gifts, jet-setting travel…

And we save it all up for this one day: The day that’s all about love.

Well, don’t get me wrong—romantic love is great! Who doesn’t want to meet their soulmate, right? But maybe it isn’t all about one day. Maybe it isn’t about how it looks—but how it feels.

Every day is a love day.

And every kind of love matters.

Love is caring when you don’t have to and noticing the things no one else does. Love is cheering someone on and trying your best to make someone’s life a little better. It’s about being there when things are good, and when things are really bad…it’s about remembering, understanding, helping other people, making them happy.

Most of these are things aren’t ones you can Instagram, like a dozen roses and or a Nicholas Spark's novel. But they are the ones that really count. And chances are, these are the things we’ll look back on and remember. We may not remember the thing someone got us—but I bet we’ll always remember the love they brought into our lives.

If you haven’t met the Great Love of Your Life, don’t worry (easier said than done, I know). I think we get multiple Loves of Our Lives: Some are people. Some are amazing opportunities or moments or memories. And the good thing about it is, love happens all the time. Not just February 14th (and 15th, when they mark down all the delicious candy).

So as tempting as it may be to spend Saturday singing Adele ballads, maybe we can change the way we see love this year: Maybe we could focus all our good energy on the love we can give rather than just the love we receive.

Because you know what they say—

Everything you put out into the world makes its way back to you.

May your life—and your Valentine’s Day—be filled with love of all kinds.

Rainesford Alexandra
The Monday Life Communications
@Rainesford

What to do when you're scared: Make your mission about others

You know that feeling: Heart thumping. Room spinning. Is it all of a sudden really, really hot in here? Sweaty palms and elephants in your stomach. Glamorous, right? No, we’re not talking about the stomach flu. We’re talking about fear. At some time or another, we all have to do something that terrifies us: Maybe it is truly scary, like a kid being in the hospital, or a little smaller, like a big job interview or taking a huge chance. Whatever the circumstance, fear is no fun. It makes us feel small. So, the question is, when we’re really, really scared, how do we make ourselves feel big again? How do we stop being scared? I’m not the cool kind of fearful—total opposite of the person who gets nervous but skydives anyway. I’m the person that jumps off the high dive…only because the person behind me pushed me. It’s a knees-knocking, all-encompassing kind of scared, like we all experience sometimes. A couple weeks ago, I got asked to do something really amazing, but equally terrifying. And I was panicking. But then, someone gave me exceptionally wise advice that’s stuck with me ever since. You might know him: His name is Joey and he does extraordinary things for children’s hospitals. This is what he told me: “The best thing that helps me is realizing that it’s not about me. Your entire mission isn’t about you—it’ll be about the children you’re trying to serve. Make it about them.” There’s our answer: Take whatever is scaring you, and make it about others. It’s amazing: Somehow, when we take our lives and make them about serving others, about making other people happy, and doing what we can to make things better, our problems seem lesser, our fears seem smaller. It’s like a diet for what scares you, or makes you unhappy. It sounds simple, but it’s hard: We’re just human, after all, and we get scared and frustrated and sad. Sometimes we question whether we’ll be able to do something successfully, or wonder why nothing seems to go our way. We will always have problems, and fears. But those things will seem less important when we shift our focus to helping others solve their problems, conquer their fears, and climb their mountains. We may not be fearless, and we may not have superpowers like the ability to fly or eat whatever we want and never get full, but if you ask me, we have a pretty big one: We have the power to care about others. What’s a little fear in the face of something so cool, so meaningful? Be scared. Do it anyway. But more importantly, help someone anyway. Fight for them or believe in them anyway. We’ll be glad we did.  Rainesford Alexandra The Monday Life-Communications @Rainesford

You know that feeling: Heart thumping. Room spinning. Is it all of a sudden really, really hot in here? Sweaty palms and elephants in your stomach. Glamorous, right?

No, we’re not talking about the stomach flu. We’re talking about fear.

At some time or another, we all have to do something that terrifies us: Maybe it is truly scary, like a kid being in the hospital, or a little smaller, like a big job interview or taking a huge chance. Whatever the circumstance, fear is no fun. It makes us feel small.

So, the question is, when we’re really, really scared, how do we make ourselves feel big again? How do we stop being scared?

I’m not the cool kind of fearful—total opposite of the person who gets nervous but skydives anyway. I’m the person that jumps off the high dive…only because the person behind me pushed me. It’s a knees-knocking, all-encompassing kind of scared, like we all experience sometimes.

A couple weeks ago, I got asked to do something really amazing, but equally terrifying. And I was panicking.

But then, someone gave me exceptionally wise advice that’s stuck with me ever since. You might know him: His name is Joey and he does extraordinary things for children’s hospitals. This is what he told me:

“The best thing that helps me is realizing that it’s not about me. Your entire mission isn’t about you—it’ll be about the children you’re trying to serve. Make it about them.”

There’s our answer: Take whatever is scaring you, and make it about others.

It’s amazing: Somehow, when we take our lives and make them about serving others, about making other people happy, and doing what we can to make things better, our problems seem lesser, our fears seem smaller. It’s like a diet for what scares you, or makes you unhappy.

It sounds simple, but it’s hard: We’re just human, after all, and we get scared and frustrated and sad. Sometimes we question whether we’ll be able to do something successfully, or wonder why nothing seems to go our way.

We will always have problems, and fears. But those things will seem less important when we shift our focus to helping others solve their problems, conquer their fears, and climb their mountains.

We may not be fearless, and we may not have superpowers like the ability to fly or eat whatever we want and never get full, but if you ask me, we have a pretty big one: We have the power to care about others.

What’s a little fear in the face of something so cool, so meaningful?

Be scared. Do it anyway.

But more importantly, help someone anyway. Fight for them or believe in them anyway.

We’ll be glad we did. 

Rainesford Alexandra
The Monday Life-Communications
@Rainesford

She lost her mom to cancer. Now, she's spreading hope to kids.

By Kendall McKee

I was 7 years old. We went to Disney World as a family for Spring Break that year; a week that consisted of water slides, meeting characters, and being introduced to peanut-butter and marshmallow cream sandwiches (I recommend trying one if you haven't).  My biggest memory from that trip wasn't riding a plane for the first time or meeting Cinderella, it was what happened by the benches next to the in-ground water fountain. That was where we got the phone call- where our world got turned upside down. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer that day. She was only 38 years old.  I honestly don't think I really knew what cancer was when I was 7.  All I knew was that Mommy was sick. She got surgery shortly after the diagnosis, and started chemo and radiation.  My brother, Dad, and I shaved her head bald in our garage. She stayed in bed a lot. My mom wasn't ready to surrender to cancer, so she fought with all her might.  And one day we were blessed enough to hear the words "the cancer is gone." We lived for 10 years thanking God each day that my mom had been given a second chance at life, despite her close call with this awful disease. We finally felt safe. In 2010 my mom went in for a routine mammogram and they found a "suspicious spot."  Our hearts sank...could it really be?   It was Stage 4 breast cancer that had metasticized to all of her bones. They told us we would have 12-18 months with her. We were numb. Mom went through chemo and radiation once again, she changed her nutrition, exercised a lot, but mostly, she prayed. Months went by, then years.  We cherished every moment we had with her, and we NEVER LOST HOPE. February 25, 2013 my mom lost her battle to cancer.  She was my best friend, and I miss her every day.


I was 7 years old. We went to Disney World as a family for Spring Break that year; a week that consisted of water slides, meeting characters, and being introduced to peanut-butter and marshmallow cream sandwiches (I recommend trying one if you haven't).  My biggest memory from that trip wasn't riding a plane for the first time or meeting Cinderella, it was what happened by the benches next to the in-ground water fountain. That was where we got the phone call- where our world got turned upside down.

My mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer that day. She was only 38 years old.  I honestly don't think I really knew what cancer was when I was 7.  All I knew was that Mommy was sick.


She got surgery shortly after the diagnosis, and started chemo and radiation.  My brother, Dad, and I shaved her head bald in our garage. She stayed in bed a lot.

My mom wasn't ready to surrender to cancer, so she fought with all her might.  And one day we were blessed enough to hear the words "the cancer is gone."

We lived for 10 years thanking God each day that my mom had been given a second chance at life, despite her close call with this awful disease. We finally felt safe.

In 2010 my mom went in for a routine mammogram and they found a "suspicious spot."  Our hearts sank...could it really be?  

It was Stage 4 breast cancer that had metasticized to all of her bones. They told us we would have 12-18 months with her.

We were numb.

Mom went through chemo and radiation once again, she changed her nutrition, exercised a lot, but mostly, she prayed.

Months went by, then years.  We cherished every moment we had with her, and we NEVER LOST HOPE.

February 25, 2013 my mom lost her battle to cancer.  She was my best friend, and I miss her every day.

So, why did I tell you this story?  I'm glad you asked! This story is, unfortunately, very similar to the stories of 3 million kids in the United States. 3 MILLION! That means 3 million kids need our help.  But more importantly, they need our hope. These kids are often overlooked when we think of all the kids affected by cancer. Just because they don't have the disease themselves doesn't mean they aren't affected...they are! Camp Kesem recognizes and supports this overlooked population of children, ages 6-16.  CK is a nonprofit organization with 64 chapters located at different college campuses across the United States.  I am a member of the Indiana University chapter, which is completely run by college students.  IU’s chapter was established in 2003, and since 2004 has offered a FREE week long summer camp for kids affected by a parent’s cancer.  IU student volunteers have the special opportunity to be these kids’ summer camp counselors. Camp offers kids a vacation, if you will, from their frightening reality at home. They have to grow up so fast because of cancer, and CK gives them a way to JUST BE KIDS again!  These kids need hope, love, and FUN! And that is what CK is all about!!! The week at camp consists of swimming, crafts, outdoor activities, scavenger hunts, and (most importantly) Messy Olympics!  This activity is always a camp favorite, for the campers, that is.  They get the opportunity to coat their counselors in food products including, but not limited to, ketchup, jelly, honey, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, flour, and Cheetos.


So, why did I tell you this story?  I'm glad you asked!

This story is, unfortunately, very similar to the stories of 3 million kids in the United States. 3 MILLION! That means 3 million kids need our help.  But more importantly, they need our hope.

These kids are often overlooked when we think of all the kids affected by cancer. Just because they don't have the disease themselves doesn't mean they aren't affected...they are!

Camp Kesem recognizes and supports this overlooked population of children, ages 6-16.  CK is a nonprofit organization with 64 chapters located at different college campuses across the United States.  I am a member of the Indiana University chapter, which is completely run by college students.  IU’s chapter was established in 2003, and since 2004 has offered a FREE week long summer camp for kids affected by a parent’s cancer.  IU student volunteers have the special opportunity to be these kids’ summer camp counselors. Camp offers kids a vacation, if you will, from their frightening reality at home. They have to grow up so fast because of cancer, and CK gives them a way to JUST BE KIDS again!  These kids need hope, love, and FUN! And that is what CK is all about!!!

The week at camp consists of swimming, crafts, outdoor activities, scavenger hunts, and (most importantly) Messy Olympics!  This activity is always a camp favorite, for the campers, that is.  They get the opportunity to coat their counselors in food products including, but not limited to, ketchup, jelly, honey, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, flour, and Cheetos.

Though these fun activities are an escape from cancer, everyone knows why we are all brought together for the week of camp. The week is ended with an Empowerment Ceremony, which is a time that campers and counselors are welcome to share their stories with cancer. This event gives us a special opportunity to relate to each other through our stories and see how cancer has affected us all in some way.  It’s an amazing thing to see so many children come together and support each other through a childhood they all share. The strength these kids possess is unprecedented, and reminds me daily how important Camp Kesem is. After the week of camp, Kesem is not finished. We spend countless hours throughout the year supporting our campers, bringing meals to their families, fundraising money, and attending big events in the campers’ lives. It’s important to us for our campers and their families to feel supported throughout the year, and stay together as one big Kesem family through the good times and the bad. Now, (here comes the begging part), we can't send all these kids to camp for free without your help! Please, please, PLEASE consider donating for these kids.  YOU can change their lives for the better.  YOU can make the difference. YOU can give them hope. Kendall McKee Camp Kesem Indiana University Coordinator Guest Blogger For more information about the amazing things Camp Kesem is doing and to find a chapter near you, visit us online at: Camp Kesem Nationals http://campkesem.org/ Camp Kesem IU http://campkesem.org/indiana  OR follow these links to see the first-hand magic of Kesem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi5SsQu4B8Q https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-mlKxXyReA


Though these fun activities are an escape from cancer, everyone knows why we are all brought together for the week of camp. The week is ended with an Empowerment Ceremony, which is a time that campers and counselors are welcome to share their stories with cancer. This event gives us a special opportunity to relate to each other through our stories and see how cancer has affected us all in some way.  It’s an amazing thing to see so many children come together and support each other through a childhood they all share. The strength these kids possess is unprecedented, and reminds me daily how important Camp Kesem is.

After the week of camp, Kesem is not finished. We spend countless hours throughout the year supporting our campers, bringing meals to their families, fundraising money, and attending big events in the campers’ lives. It’s important to us for our campers and their families to feel supported throughout the year, and stay together as one big Kesem family through the good times and the bad.

Now, (here comes the begging part), we can't send all these kids to camp for free without your help!

Please, please, PLEASE consider donating for these kids.  YOU can change their lives for the better.  YOU can make the difference.

YOU can give them hope.

Kendall McKee
Camp Kesem Indiana University Coordinator
Guest Blogger


For more information about the amazing things Camp Kesem is doing and to find a chapter near you, visit us online at:
Camp Kesem Nationals http://campkesem.org/
Camp Kesem IU http://campkesem.org/indiana 

OR follow these links to see the first-hand magic of Kesem:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi5SsQu4B8Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-mlKxXyReA