Saturday, October 9, 2010

a scar at a time.

"There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with."
- Harry Crews

I wish I had found this quote long, long ago. There's a good chance it would have saved me from a lot of anger throughout the years. 

I think scars are one of the most important parts of a person. They tell stories. They are unique. No one will ever have the exact same scar as another person. They make us, well, US. There's the scars you can't see - the ones on the heart and the soul. Those ones can be hidden rather easily. Sometimes, we get too good at hiding those scars that we are afraid to remember just how deep they go until we have to reveal them. You can't hide any scar forever.
Then, there are the scars which cannot be hidden. The ones on our bodies. The ones which show other people what we have been through. The ones that remind some of us daily about the torments and experiences we have gone through which we wish we could forget. But seeing those scars, as Crews stated, proves that we made it through something we may not have thought possible. And for that, they are beautiful.

In my opinion, the best part about our scars is the stories that come from them. Some are silly, some are intense, but no matter what, they are stories. They show a part of our soul which may not have any other way of coming out. They tell a person, if we allow them to hear, what we have been through and how we have shaped into who we are. So, here are some of my most important scars, and most important stories...

These two go hand in hand. They aren't all that important, but they're a big part of who I am. I got both of these scars, one on my knee and one on my elbow, from running. YES, running. Not running anywhere difficult, like a hill or up a mountain. Just running on flat land. And that's when I realized that firstly, I am NOT a land athlete, but instead should stay in the water, and secondly, I am one of the clumsiest people in the world. These ones make me laugh. But more importantly, they make other people laugh when I tell them how I got them. Reason number one I am an embarrassment to the world :)

This is my second most important scar. This scar is the only reason I am alive today. Yes, it looks like I had a c-section and gave birth to a child sometimes. But seeing as how I got this scar when I was only four years old, that is clearly not what happened. This scar is a result of kidney surgery, the surgery that saved my life as my only kidney was going into kidney failure. I have hated this scar since I was about 12; my mom wouldn't let me buy a pair of swim-suit bottoms because they showed my scar. At the time, I hated it, but now, I couldn't be more proud. I wouldn't have the past 14 years of my life without this one, and I wouldn't have my incredible future to come. Very few people have seen this scar until now...and I couldn't be happier to share it. This scar is proof that my life is a miracle. 

Though you can only see three here, on my shoulder there are four single scars - the most important ones to me. Two scars show where three stitches were, the other two only had two stitches. This, as I'm sure you can guess, is the result of the shoulder surgery I had February 17th, 2009. The surgery that has made the past year and a half of my life a complete struggle, both emotionally and mentally...and maybe a bit physically too. I hated these scars from day one...I felt awkward wearing anything showing my right shoulder. These scars were the reminder that I wasn't strong enough to play water polo anymore. These scars had me wondering if I would ever play again. These scars kept me up, thinking and crying, a lot more often than they should have. But they're a part of me, and these, more than any other, prove to me that I have the power to overcome anything. These scars took my passion, my life away. But now, because of them, I have it all back. They have given back what they took from me, truly a sign that the struggle is over.

Those are obviously just a few of my scars. Being the fearless girl I am, I've earned quite the collection of scrapes and scars. And from them, I've grown.

"I just want to show off my scar proudly and not be afraid of it." - Carly Simon
It's like she took the words from my own mind...

never forget to dream,
xoxo, L.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

if you really knew Lisa...

Lately I've been meeting people and keep hearing the same thing. They tell me, after getting to know me of course, that I'm a completely different person than they expected. A lot of the time, my "first impression" is something along the lines of, "a spoiled little rich girl who never had to work for anything" or "a fake, annoying girl who wanted everyone to like her" or "a girly girl who would be disgusted at the idea of dirt or breaking a sweat" or something like that. And if you know me for who I am, who know that is...well, basically the opposite of me.

I feel like a lot of the time, we just stick with the first impression. And it can, in the end, screw us over. Say you meet someone who seems like the most amazing person you have ever met, and you stick with the impression. Well, from there you expect them to be that same lively, fun person every day from there on out. And soon enough, you realize this "great" person is no more than a backstabber living behind a friendly mask, or something of that essence. Or say you meet someone and you only see them as a snotty, self-absorbed person, so you never give them a fair opportunity to prove themselves. For all you know, that person could have been the one to change your life. But she won't be, because you didn't give her a chance.
I don't want to make myself out to be some sinless, innocent person in this situation. Because I know for a fact that I have been guilty of this in the past. But I'm giving it my all to change that. And maybe, if I risk spilling my heart so you get to know me for me, you'll be willing to risk me getting to know you when you spill yours. As stated by one of my favorite artists, He Is We, "We all have a story to tell, whether we whisper or yell..."

If you really know me, you'd know I'm a girl who has been blessed to have life at all. Born a month early, my life was on the line right away. Nothing changed for a long time. At four, I had major kidney surgery to save my life, which I will have a hideous scar from for the rest of my life. But considering it saved my life, I don't mind. The fact that I've survived since then, with just one kidney which almost failed, amazes me.
I don't want to sound like I'm God's gift to earth, because that is NOT my view. But in all honesty, I know I only lived past the age of four for a reason. And what that reason is, I don't know, but I plan on finding out.

If you really knew me, you'd know I hate talking about my emotions. Mainly because I'm afraid they will scare people away. I hate to cry in front of ANYONE, except my mom. Because, well, she is the only person required to love me still ;) But really. Crying in front of anyone besides her scares me, and it rarely happens. However, she is the one person who can get me to open up and cry, and I'm so grateful for that. Because sometimes, tears are the best medicine. At least in my life.

If you really knew me, you'd know I hate to give anything less than 100%. I've been a hard worker since day one. Probably because I'm determined to be the best at everything. And yes, I know that is extremely unrealistic. To those who have thought I was a spoiled girl who didn't know how to work for herself, here I prove you wrong. I've had a job since age 13. And yes, I've been spoiled by my parents, but only because I deserve it, according to them. Working hard pays off, regardless of whether its as an athlete, a student, employee, or person in general. And if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be busting my butt in the pool, at school, at work, or in life. I just want to be the best and prove the haters wrong.

If you really knew me, you'd know I actually do care about other people. I ask you how you're doing because I actually want to know. And if it's not well, I want to try and make it better. If I can just put a smile on your face, or make you laugh, or take one ounce of pain away, I feel like I can breathe. I don't want you to worry about how I'm doing, I'll always find a way to make it through. I'll put you first, make sure you are okay, and be there for you regardless. I'll be the one to answer the phone at 3 AM and talk you through your meltdown. I'll be the one to drive an hour to visit you if you need me, even if it's for a couple of minutes. All I want to do in life is make people happy, or do something to change a life, or save someone from something, anything.

If you really knew me, you'd know I love being a tomboy just as much as I love being a girly girl. I love to sweat, to work out, to get dirty if I have to. I love cars and extreme sports. I play water polo and wake board. But I love painting my nails, talking on the phone, and flirting. I love spending the day with my girls, belting love songs at the top of my lungs, and being carefree. I think living life with a good combination like that is what is so exciting, and I wish more girls would step out of there comfort zone and be one of the guys every now and then. I try to live life on the edge and be spontaneous, but not forgetting who I am.

If you really knew me, you'd know I'm afraid of spilling my heart. That this entire blog post is something I'm afraid of in itself. I'm afraid people will actually get to know me and hate what they find. But if that's what happens, I will accept it. I just want people to know Lisa. I want to get to know you, and I want you to get to know me. I think getting to know others is something we all take for granted. Everyone is more than what you can tell from a first impression, or even a second and third impression.

This is just a glimpse of me. Writing it all would impossible. So I challenge YOU to actually try and get to know me. And I'll do the same for you :)

Don't be afraid to pour yourself out on a canvas for all the world to see. Or even just one person to see. For all you know, the colors you leave behind will be the most beautiful painting that person has ever seen. 

never forget to dream,
xoxo, L.

Monday, September 13, 2010

S M I L E : )

I've always been one to smile.  There's a good chance that I was smiling the second I was born, and I haven't stopped since. Okay, so maybe that is just a bit of an exaggeration. There have definitely been the times in my life when I didn't think I could ever smile again. But who hasn't had those?

My momma used to tell me, "Lisa, smile. You're prettier when you smile."
And being the stubborn young girl I used to be (and still am?) I wanted so badly to think that she was wrong. A smile couldn't make me that much prettier. But as soon as she said it a few more times, it got through that thick head of mine. So I made sure I always had a smile on my face. And still make sure I have a smile on my face.

A lot of the time, I still catch myself frowning or looking angry when it's so easy to. I'm in a fight with a friend, a piece of my heart breaks off, or the world just seems to be out to get me. But I smile. And sometimes it takes someone reminding me or asking what's wrong for me to plant that smile back on my face. But as soon as I remember, it's right back.

And maybe sometimes I shouldn't stick that smile on. Maybe sometimes I need to accept that I'm upset and take some time to myself to figure out what is wrong. Or just to cry and feel better. And when I'm alone, I'll cry my eyes out.
But as soon as someone else is around, I'll cry with a smile on my face. Most of the time it's because I feel stupid for crying and admit it to whoever I'm talking to. I just know happiness breeds good times and friendships, so I try to stick that smile back where it belongs.

Perhaps I'm always smiling because I just want to make other people happy. Most of the time I smile in hopes that someone will see the smile on my face and put a smile on theirs. I know it works for me. I don't want to be the party pooper with a frown when everyone else is showing their gorgeous smiles.

So I smile.

And if there's one thing I can do for you today, it's make you smile with my smile. Or in some other way. Life is to beautiful to be upset. Look around at the beauty, the blessings. Stop focusing on what you don't have, or what could be better, or what is going wrong. There's way too much positive around to dwell on the negative. That's what I had to learn myself. And yes, maybe you have to look a little harder for the happy things...but I promise it's worth it :) 

never forget to dream (and smile),
xoxo, L.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

goodbye, summer 2010.

It was a good one. Wait, no. A great one. So many experiences I wasn't expecting, and I would not trade a single one. Looking back, it felt like the longest summer ever, but the shortest yet. I apologize in advance for how poorly organized this post is...exhaustion literally consumes me, but I wanted to post this while it was still technically summer. Here we go, looking back.

Driving home, I was sad. I knew I was leaving behind a whole life in Irvine that I wouldn't get back for at least three months. Part of me was happy, knowing I would be back in that time. But the fact that I would be leaving behind my three best friends at school and they wouldn't be returning for our sophomore year is what killed me. 
These girls became my world, especially during the last half of our year. I can honestly say these girls were some of the most genuine, AMAZING girls I have ever met. Can't believe we're spread across the country now, but we're all where we're supposed to be. You three mean so much to me and I cannot wait to be reunited...whenever that may be!! Don't forget: ALWAYS CLASSY, NEVER TRASHY. love you :)

As soon as I got over the fact that I can't control the world and what's meant to be, I moved on. I was back home, back in the city I was born and raised in: San Jose, California. After not being there for more than 5 days total from January to May, it was nice to be back. I was back with my BEST friend in the entire world, miss Alyssa Marie Woody. 
Let's just say we're the same person, so when we're together, things go a little crazy. To put it quite simply, San Jose was in for quite the treat.

I was happy to be home, but not too happy to start work at a new Starbucks three days later. I showed up on my first day a little hesitant, not knowing if I would like this store like my Costa Mesa store, or if the partners would like me. But by the end of the first day, I knew it was going to be a great summer with these partners. Within the first week, I felt like I had been there for months. This store soon became my second home; if I got bored or just needed to get away from life, I ended up there. Usually telling Anthony and John why my life was ridiculous or laughing with Kaylee about things the two of them were doing. I enjoyed being at work, whether on or off the clock, more than being most places. San Jose may be a big city, but after living there for 18 years, I find very few of its attractions exciting. So I kept it simple this way. To make a long story short, I loved the store I was placed at for the summer. I mainly loved my coworkers and their abilities to make my day without trying and just know how to have fun or make me laugh. I can't believe I'm leaving you all to go back to my original store. Just know I love you all and can't wait to visit...or work with you again if I'm back next summer :)

After a month and a half of working 30-35 hours per week, my real summer began. It was finally July, which if you know me, is my favorite month of summer. Ever since I can remember, my first week of July has been spent at the beautiful Lake Shasta in Lakeshore, California. It's a 5 hour drive, but it's worth every mile.
This picture doesn't do it justice whatsoever, but it's all I can find right now. After two years of the lake being extremely low...the lake was finally GORGEOUS. Being about 5 feet below shoreline when we got there, it was amazing. I got to spend it with my best friend Alyssa, sister, Shawn, Amber, mom, and dad. On July 4th, Heather got to experience something she wasn't quite expecting ENGAGEMENT ring :)

Seeing as how I knew it was coming for a while, I was rather happy when it finally happened. And so the wedding planning began...literally that night. But the next morning we were back out on the lake, having fun all over again. The highlight of my week, on the lake at least, was being able to wakeboard again. After my surgery last summer, I wasn't able to. But I was right back into it when I got to Shasta. To my surprise, I popped right up on my first try, and the rest was history :)
After 8 days of being on the lake, Alyssa, Heather, Shawn, Amber, and I headed back to San Jose, leaving my parents to have a relaxing week of their own in the cabin. I thought I would get some time to relax and sleep a bit, but I had two days of work coming, early mornings to be exact. And as soon as those were done, I was off to New Orleans for the National Youth Gathering were I would be working as a Young Adult Volunteer. 

Words cannot describe how amazing NOLA was. The city, ever after Katrina, is so amazing. There is so much culture, so much life - something you don't always find in California. The people I was working with at the gathering, simply AMAZING. My team was more than I could have imagined. And aside from that, the gathering itself was amazing. Seeing 25,000 high schoolers gathering to learn about and praise God - AMAZING. Leaving happened sooner than I wished, but I felt good walking away knowing that we had spent 49 MILLION dollars in a city who needed it most. And that is a good feeling.

I was home after the week in NOLA for a short 18 hours or so. I was then off to Southern California to spend a week and a half visiting my sister and other people in Orange County. It was exactly what I needed. I got to share amazing times with my sister and Shawn, as well as see people I hadn't seen since May when I left to go home. I know it's cliche, but time flies when you're having fun. And that's exactly what happened. Before I knew it, I was driving back to San Jose for my last three weeks of summer.
My last three weeks weren't the most entertaining. But it was three weeks I needed to spend with my friends and family. I worked a bit, not as much as earlier in the summer, so I had some time to myself. I began to realize how lucky I was to have an amazing life in San Jose, with wonderful people and my family. I couldn't ask for anything more. 
San Jose may not always be exciting, but it's what I call home. I lived there 17 years, and it took an 18th to realize how lucky I am to be there, even if it's not full time anymore.
And now, I'm back in Irvine. All moved into my dorm, and ready to let the new year begin. With class starting at 7:30 AM tomorrow morning, it's all becoming real to me. I'm not just on another vacation anymore...I'm back in home number two :)
It's just us four and Zeta 102...let the fun resume :) Here's to sophomore year...<3

never forget to dream,
xoxo, L.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

549 days later.

It's been 549 days - a year and a half- since my world fell apart. February 17th, 2009 was 549 days ago. the day I lost ability to play water polo for "six to twelve months," when all I has expected going into the surgery was three to twelve. With the additional torn ligament in my shoulder came that extra six months that would lead to testing my patience and strength and causing me to red shirt my freshman season of water polo at Concordia Irvine. It would be the.first time in nine years that I couldn't do the once thing that I have always loved since I began at 8 years old.

Meet my Passion: water polo. It began when I was eight years old. I had always been a swimmer, joining the team since I was four. But that all changed soon. I had to watch my sister practice every day during the summer. Each day the coach, mister Gordy Smith, tried to get me in the water with all the power he had. he would tell my mom "tomorrow I will get her in, just wait." And eventually he was right. That's when I fell in love, at 8 years old.

I was a natural for my age. I owe that to Gordy. He probably doesn't know because I haven't talked to him in years, but I thank him so much for convincing me to just get in and play. I moved on to a new team a few years later: San Jose Splash. I played under head coach of SJSU women's water polo, who I owe a lot of my other success to. Although I was only eleven or twelve at the time, he let me join the 14 and under team, which is where I became a true player. Swimming had gone to the back of my mind and water polo was all I could think about. At the end of seventh grade, one of my sister's teammate's dads saw me play and asked when I would be coming to the high school team because he knew great things were in store. And I think that is when it all became clear. I wasn't just an average player. I was good, and I actually had a chance of being great.

I entered the high school team when I was thirteen. Just a young girl with a lot more talent than you would expect just by looking at me. I was basically leading practices as one of two freshmen on the team...and I was in love. I ended the season as high scorer and with the Coaches Award, not a surprise as I was playing for the lady who taught me to swim - Cathy Manthy. When she taught me to swim at four I had no clue I would be calling her grandma and working for her ten years later. She is the one I owe my life to for all she has done, and is truly one of the strongest, most amazing women I have ever known.

Sorry for the side note, but I couldn't post this blog without recognizing her.

My sophomore year I moved up to the varsity team and played for another amazing coach: Miss Laura Scott, now Mrs. Laura Benton. I had played for her at Splash as well. She was one of Lou's players at SJSU and one of the most amazing two meter players to come through that school. Being a two meet player, I was one of Laura's priorities that season. She taught me most of her secrets and what I know now. I can honestly say I would not be the player I am today without her. Though I was not a starter due to the fact I was a sophomore, I ended that season as team high scorer again, receiving the Breakthrough Player of the Year award as well. I didn't understand what the award meant at the time, but I soon realized and found out I had shocked Laura and really everyone with all my talent as a sophomore and that wasn't ending anytime soon.

Knowing how well I had done the year before fueled my junior season. I got to play for Laura again and got even closer to her. Now that we had an assistant coach, she could help me focus on my two meter skills. I was the team's primary hole set and knowing that inspired me to do my best in every game so the team wouldn't be let down. I played the best, and worst, game of my life that year at my rival high school, Presentation. Our varsity team had not beaten them in years, but I was determined to change that. It was the most intense game I have ever played. Sprinting back and forth for four quarters without being dubbed, I wasn't even tired. I had more adrenaline than ever before, entering the last fifteen seconds with a tied score. Suddenly a player on our team was ejected for a personal foul, and we were down one. I flew to the center of the cage with a hand up, helping my goalie Becca as much as I could. With one second left, a shot was fired. Hitting the side of my hand, and Becca barely missing it, the ball entered the cage and my heart sunk. It was over. We shook hands and went to our corner where I hugged Laura as my eyes were pouring with tears. But as she hugged me, I knew I could trust her and is to this day one of the only people who can turn my day around regardless of the situation. The season continued, and we all moved on. I was once again team high scorer, this time earning Offensive Player of the Year and being named to second team All-League. Though not everything went my way, that was the best season of my life and I couldn't wait for my senior season with Laura.

A month before school started, I found out Laura would not be coaching my senior season due to finishing school and coaching at a junior college. My heart sank but I knew it was best for her. We were coached by Kelly Walitsch and Jordan Jensen, now Mr. and Mrs. Jensen :) Being the co captain and it being my senior year, I knew it was up to me to help the transition and keep the team as one. It was a long season with a lot of drama, but it was still fun. We had done amazingly with what we had. Before we knew it, the last game of the season, and what I thought would be my last game ever, had arrived. But with my shoulder acting up, I played the worst game of my life. I got out of the pool unable to move my arm. At that moment all I could think was "there is no way in help I'm going out like this." I ended that season as high scorer, Offensive Player of the Year, first team All-League, and second high scorer All-League. But it wouldn't be the end of me.

After much delay and frustration, my surgery was scheduled for February 17th, 549 days ago. And that is where I am today - still waiting to play again and continue to fall in love with the sport.

Many people ask me why I love the game and all I do is smile before answering. Sometimes words can't describe something. No one can understand the rush I get as my shot goes in. The excitement I get when I get my defender ejected. The feeling of triumph as I steal the ball. And most importantly the "haha screw you" feeling when my sneaky self gets away with something I do wrong. Unless you experience it, you will never understand. And I don't expect you to. Just know I am love with this sport because it is who I am. And nothing will change it.
I hope all of you have a passion this large. And if you don't, find it now. It fuels you, empowers you, makes you feel whole. And once you have that passion burning, don't let anyone try to stop you.

never forget to dream,
xoxo, L.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

a new end, a new beginning.

"Lisa is just afraid of commitment."
I can still hear it ringing in my ears. Yes, I've "admitted" it before - to friends, family, and people who have been affected by my fear. But I don't think I have ever fully admitted it to myself. Until one night this summer, when someone who loves and knows me more people said it to my face. And that's when it clicked.  No more of this "I don't want to hurt him," or "oh, I just don't think it will work out" without true explanations to either claim.  The truth it, I gave my heart away once to one person - and it has ruined me ever since.  Yes, I got it back, but it wasn't and still isn't the same condition as it was before I trusted it in his hands.  Not that it is his entire fault, because I claim a majority of the responsibility for our demise. I tried to fix something that was broken long before, but it was useless. And knowing that is the issue. What happens if I give my heart away again, but to yet another wrong person? How do I know whose hands are strong enough to carry my heart? How do I know who will be too weak, dropping it and allowing it to shatter again once it gets too heavy? And I'm sure many people struggle with it too, but where to they get the perseverance and peace of mind to power through and put their fear away? And why have I lost that power? If I really want to "stop hurting others" I would let go of my fear and let my heart where it wants to go, not where I think it should go. But instead, I let my heart lead for awhile but then let my fear take over , hurting myself and other people.
And this is where it ends. I vow to leave it all behind: there fears, excuses, and memories past.
Holding myself back and "protecting" my heart haven't gotten me anywhere in the past few years, so why would they now? There are so many things I wish I could say to the people I have hurt due to my fear, but I know they are words that would go in one ear and out the other because I have hindered our relationship so badly. And it kills me to know that.
So here's to leaving the past and entering the future along with any commitments it holds.

Always remember to dream,
xoxo, L.