Thursday, January 31, 2013

Butterfly Effect

I want to touch upon something I spoke of in my previous post, "Growing Pains."  So often we experience hardships as a negative, something to look down upon.  However, it is in our afflictions that we find out just how strong we actually are.  For it is in them that we are able to overcome our biggest difficulty: our "self."  We never really know what we are capable of until our capabilities are put to the test. And as the great ring leader points out, "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

Valiantly striving to overcome our personal difficulties will have have a transforming effect on our lives, and perhaps the lives of those around us.  With God's grace, the biggest hardships in life can become the butterfly effect we need to catapult us towards a lifetime of positive growth and change.

However, just like Will in the movie shown above, God can not make us do anything.  He will always give us the love, grace, healing, forgiveness, guidance and support we need, and will never turn his back to us. However, He always defaults to our free will, putting the ball in our court.  It is we who need to make that leap of faith, utilizing the grace that has been freely given.  We can't always wait for perfect timing, sometimes we just have to dare to jump in, losing sight of the shore, focusing on the unchartered possibilities in front of us.  As one of my confessors, Fr. Dominic Scotto once told me, "we may not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future." No matter what your circumstances are, always remember, "you are MAGNIFICENT!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Make It Count

Recently I have been meditating on my desire to travel.  Self-diagnosed with Wanderlust, my yearning to get out in the world and experience different cultures will not go away.  As Claude Monet put it, "Every day I discover more and more beautiful things.  It's enough to drive one mad.  I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it." Just yesterday, as I was looking at my original blog,, filled with quotes, pictures, and videos that I find particularly inspiring, I discovered the video that you will find below. When I originally posted it back in early 2011, I wrote beneath it, "absolutely incredible. I know what I am doing after school..."  As I begin to plan a trip around the world, I am struck by the honesty and sincerity of my first impressions of this video, and how I never could have predicted that my words may actually come true.  China, Thailand, India, United Arab Emirates, Austria, Italy, Hungary, France, England, Ireland: My own "Into The Wild" adventure. While I have yet to purchase my ticket, as I am still in the final stages of planning, the itinerary has been saved, and I see it's geting closer and closer to becoming a reality.

So very often, I find myself getting caught up on things like past mistakes and self-doubt.  But what I am beginning to discover is how those thoughts only have the power that we give them.  Feelings are what they are.  Naturally, they have to be recognized and dealt with; it would be unhealthy and unreasonable to repress them.  However, just because we feel a certain way, does not mean that we have to act upon it.  In fact, it is possible to act in the exact opposite manner of what our feelings are "telling" us to do.  It may not be easy, but it can be done.  I often doubt my ability to complete this trip, to travel alone (being the extrovert that I am), and be distant from family and friends for so long.  But this trip has been a dream of mine far too long for it not to happen, and I realize how much better it would be to look back after traveling, having learned from mistakes along the way, than it would be to look back and wonder, "what if?" When asked what this trip is about, I find that it is best described as a soul-searching, missionary adventure tour, around the globe. Ghandi said, "In order to find oneself, you must first lose yourself in service of others." It is with that spirit that I hope to serve others, connect with individuals on the human level, experience different cultures around the world; seeing God's beautiful creation first hand, discovering who I am, who God is, and just how much he loves us.  

What this blog is about: inspiring others to get out there, to take risks, to love, to share, to discover the beauty of human connection, to help one another along this journey, to pray, to discover God in the places you least expect him.  We each have our own YOLO diaries to write, this one just happens to be mine. So get out there, travel, take chances, learn from your mistakes, and most of all, make it count.

- Jordan

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Growing Pains

While praying in the chapel after mass, I was contemplating life, and how it is filled with various sufferings and challenges.  Suffering can be thrust upon us from the outside world, or can be brought about through our own doing.  At times we can become so accustomed to our current state, however miserable it may be.  Very often we decide to stay put, fearing change and the great unknown.  But nothing good ever comes from this.  Sure, God's grace can work wonders, even in these stagnant moments of our lives, but how much more when we put that grace into action!

I had an image of a bone in ones body, growing to full maturation.  Many kids will complain of "growing pains" during adolescence  wishing they could be taken away.  But look at the fruits that come from their temporary pain!  They grow into strong, healthy adults, capable of many more things than when they were their smaller selves.  But like most good things, it comes in time.  As Jean Royer points out:

"God waits patiently for me to wake up, grow up, come to the awareness that great works take time, that nothing truly worthwhile can be rushed... How difficult it is not to interfere, to try to take over, to go it alone.  But God cannot succeed without me.  God needs my whole-hearted cooperation in this work."

I imagine myself, and my relationship with God, in a very similar manner.  I could choose to stay where I am at spiritually and emotionally, because it is comfortable and familiar.  However, even this choice, as "easy" and "comfortable" as it looks, would bring about a certain amount of suffering; the pain of stagnation.  Or, I could choose to endure the difficulties of change, and face the great unknown.  It is true that I may fall occasionally along the path, but I know that the Great Physician will always be there to mend my broken bones.  And as my mom reminded me, when bones rebuild, they become stronger.  #chapelthoughts #theYOLOdiaries #crossingtheJordan

Friday, January 25, 2013

This is "The YOLO Diaries"

There is a popular term in today’s culture, especially among our younger generations – “YOLO.”  It stands for You Only Live Once, and has been called the modern day “Carpe Diem.”  Often times you will find people using this term to justify questionable actions, assuming that they can do whatever they want, all for the sake of YOLO! Many use this term as a way to write off their immoral actions, in an effort to squelch their knowledge of the fact that what they are doing is wrong.  I myself have been guilty of this, and will continue to struggle with this temptation.  For that is life.  Nonetheless, I feel called to raise my voice, and stick up for what I think is right, calling on others to reclaim a term that does hold a raw truth, of infinite beauty; one that calls you to live radically, making the most of the time you have. In the process, I call myself on to continued growth, in my endeavor to live a radical life, striving to glorify God through this life that he has given me, that I only get to live once, this side of heaven.

Looking back, it is hard to pinpoint exactly when I felt drawn to form an opinion on this term, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  In the past, I have been known to take things to the extreme, rarely thinking about the consequences of my actions, and for a while, I did that with this term.  But in the more recent months, I have been moving into a time of deep personal growth, spending more time in philosophical thought on my actions, and general way of living.  One person that I resonate with is Christopher McCandless, whose life story was captured by John Krakauer in the book, “Into the Wild.”  Chris endured many hardships in his home environment growing up, but despite all this, he followed his dreams, embraced his passions, and lived a radical life on the edge.  Despite all his setbacks, and the countless people who doubted him, he stayed true to his calling.  He lived a life of love, and treated himself, and those who he came into contact with respect.  Chris thought deeply, and acted intentionally. He took chances.  He trusted his gut. Most importantly, he followed his heart. 

That is what this blog is all about.  It is a call to follow my heart, wherever it leads.  It is a call to face the challenges in living out my faith, standing up for what I believe.  This blog is an opportunity to get outside of my head, turning thoughts into words, and it gives me something to reference in times of struggle.  It is a blog of my triumphs and failings, strengths and weaknesses, thoughts and observations. I am not a writer, but I have things to say.  I am not a counselor, but I desire to help.  I am not a missionary, but I want to serve.  This is my life.  This is “The YOLO Diaries.”

Jordan - Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul