"once you choose hope, anything is possible"

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Glimpse of Hope - The Recap

So it's been awhile since I last wrote. Actually let's be honest, it's been longer than awhile. I'd like to say I have some great reasoning for this, but in all truthfulness, I just lost my desire to write. I went through some pretty crappy months where I couldn't find a lot of hope and then I went through some really wonderful months where I was so overwhelmed by everything going on that sitting down to put it all into words wasn't possible. If I am being really honest, I tried to write, but I still can't find the right words to put down on paper (or screen) all that has happened in the last couple years since I graduated college. Let's just leave it at, there's been A LOT. Sometimes I look back and wonder where the hell the time went, other times I feel like I've lived an entire lifetime since the day I walked across that stage. 

To offer a quick recap: I graduated college and went to work at a nonprofit in Milwaukee. I loved every minute of it, but ultimately left 7 months later to take my dream job at Marquette (where I still work). I met the man I would come to love more than I ever thought possible and after a year of dating, I happily said yes to being his wife. While we were dating (and not dating) we took a quick detour into the life of a soap opera and, long story short, we are now helping raise Tyler's beautiful son. My family ended up taking in 2 more little boys making us a family of 12 and to this day I am still surprised by the capacity of the human heart and the ability to love somebody so fiercely in such a short amount of time. Ultimately, the court system decided that our family of 12 wasn't a part of the boys' long term plan and for awhile I didn't know if any of our hearts were going to make it. Spoiler alert, missing them doesn't get any easier as time goes on, but the ever-resilient Hau family is still standing strong. My parents (and younger sister) relocated to Milwaukee shortly after losing the boys and I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it is to have my mom and dad within 20 minutes of me after living so far from home for college. I went back to grad school and got a dog (and became a semi-crazy dog lady). I moved to the suburbs, cried when Donald Trump was elected President, helped plan Marquette’s Homecoming last year which I will argue is one of the proudest moments of my life, celebrated with my sister as she also got engaged to the man of her dreams (to be married in ONE MONTH) and continued to put one foot in front of the other even when I felt life was doing a pretty good job at making things as difficult as possible. It’s been a hell of a two years with ups, downs and all arounds, but I’m still here trying to find my glimpse of hope in all things, even if I’m not writing about it anymore. 

For the last month or so, I have been wrestling with the decision to simply start a new blog or to continue on with the old one. Recently, I received one of the biggest shocks (and greatest blessings of my life) and realized that I was pregnant (MUCH more to come on this later) and the first thing I wanted to do was write, which was quite a shock after a few years of having no desire to do so. I knew I wanted to go back to blogging more faithfully, but with all that has happened and changed, I thought maybe a fresh start was needed. So I created a new blog on a different platform and I went to close my "A Glimpse of Hope" account. Before I knew it, I had spent hours scrolling through my old posts, all of which were filled to the brim with my old feelings, past heartache, abundant joys and blessings and I realized that a lot has changed, but there was still so much truth behind everything I once I wrote and it would be almost dishonest to start fresh and pretend like that wasn't how this whole journey began. 

So here I am, back to bringing you my glimpses of hope as I find them, but this time with a very different message (think more baby stories and less cute boys on the quad stories). When I started this blog back in 2012, I did so out of sadness and darkness. I was lost and turned to writing to help find myself again. A huge part of me is still that same confused 19 year old blogging in my college dorm, but this time my heart is a little more full and my path a little more clear (emphasis on the "little" :) )

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

my defining experience

As my senior year in college comes and goes all too quickly, it makes me think a lot about what has defined my experience at Marquette and only one thing really comes to mind; Relay For Life. From the first moment I stepped foot on campus, I knew I wanted to reach out to Marquette’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer. I did this following the footsteps of Alyson, my older sister, who had always been so passionate about Relay For Life, and also following the loss of my high school classmate, Anna. I reached out to Colleges Against Cancer and got involved right away, but I never could have imagined the magnitude in which cancer and Relay For Life would define my next four years.
This year my list added another name and I had to once again say goodbye to someone I love because cancer got involved. This year I once again had to bring out my black funeral dress that I have come to hate pretty passionately and I had to try to find a silver lining in the loss I was experiencing. Though my grandma was old and said numerous times she was ready to pass, it didn't make hearing my mom tell me that she had cancer or sitting through that funeral any easier. This year though, healing came a lot easier, and that is because Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society.
For the past two years I have been on the executive planning committee for Marquette’s Relay For Life, but this year I received the honor of being elected to the North Campus Leadership Team for the American Cancer Society. This means that not only do I get to see all the amazing work that Marquette does for this cause, but I get to see all the amazing work that all colleges, high schools, and communities do in the northern region. I get to hear stories, gather ideas, give advice, and overall be inspired every single day by thousands of students, caregivers, and survivors across the country. To say Relay For Life changed my college experience would be an understatement. I have learned more about myself and about others than I could have ever dreamed to learn, and with that I have seen the need for the American Cancer Society firsthand.
This will be my last year relaying as a student, which also means that this will be the last email you receive from me asking for support for a cause that has become so dear to my heart (I know some of you are cheering right now and I don’t blame you). This year I will be walking as I close one chapter of my life, and open another one. This may be my last year Relaying as a student, but it is certainly not the end of my chapter with the American Cancer Society. This organization has come into my life and changed it forever; it will continue to be a huge source of hope and healing for me and something that I hold near to my heart every day.
The support I have received from my family and friends over the last three years has been overwhelming, amazing, and something I will never be able to thank you enough for. Please consider supporting me one last time in my final Marquette Relay For Life. Whether this support is a contribution to my fundraising page, a prayer for strength, or simply keeping my committee and our event in your thoughts throughout the next couple months, your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you all for supporting me through this journey throughout college and for believing in a world where one day cancer will be a word in our history books.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

lessons from the tiny humans

When my family began their journey with the foster care system, I heard the saying "you don't need to share DNA to love someone unconditionally." While I believe it wholeheartedly, I didn't know what to expect when it came to loving foster sibilings as much as my real sibilings. I reassured my mom time and time again that I would love the new additions to our family, but I figured it would be something I have to work at. I have five sisters who already take up a lot of space in my heart, I didn't know if I would have enough love to give to whomever else came to stay with us, especially because you never know how long they are going to stay. These doubts and questions came simply from not knowing what to expect. We had never gone through this before and I had no idea how my entire family was going to react.
It took all of about 10 minutes after meeting my foster brothers to realize that those were the stupidest doubts in the world.
This summer I came home from Italy to find my room occupied by two tiny humans. I found my parent's usually clean living room cluttered with children's toys, sippy cups, and baby gates. I found that my family of 8 had expanded to a family of 10, and I got to meet my two foster brothers who would come to change everything about my life in the next couple months.  Instead of coming home, relaxing, and sleeping in like I had planned on, I was woken up everyday to J* sitting at the end of my bed asking if it was time to play yet. I spent my days chasing M* around the house, playing soccer outside, changing diapers, reading bedtime stories, and cuddling on the couch with Cartoon Network in the background. Instead of my head being filled with doubts about the foster care system and the way my family would react, I spent the summer falling in love with my new family and becoming completely enamored with two little boys. Loving them unconditionally wasn't something I had to work at and I realized how much love I still had to give and receive even though I already had 5 sisters. I don't think of those two little boys any differently than I think about my other sibilings. I don't have two foster brothers, I have two brothers. My love for them isn't temporary, it will be forever whether or not they stay with us forever. I didn't know how completely a 7 and 1 year old could change my life, but they filled my already very happy life with a new light and joy that I am so unbelievably lucky to have.
My family being in the foster care system has been a whirlwind of emotions and at times it feels like a roller coaster that just won't stop throwing us curves. It is a day to day battle not knowing how much longer we get to spend with my little brothers. It is a life full of tearful phone calls, endless prayers, and a blind faith that this will all work out the way it is supposed to. Our new life pulls me up, down, and all around and yet every monday when J calls me after school to tell me what he got on his spelling test, it is all worth it. Getting to show the boys Marquette and hearing J tell me he is going to come here one day just like me, makes it worth it. The phone calls that get cut short because M is running up the stairs or feeding the dogs and my mom has to catch him, make it worth it. The family picture that sits on my desk, the one with all of us smiling and the knowledge that this is the happiest my family has been in a very long time, that's worth it.
J and M have taught me more in the last 4 months than I have learned in my first 20 years of life. You don't need to share DNA to love a sibiling, and your heart is big enough to be filled with love for as many family members as  you want. It's okay to be scared of what will happen in the future, as long as you continue to laugh and cherish today.

***names have been edited out for legal reasons within the foster care system

Sunday, July 27, 2014

pure bliss

You know those moments in life when you look around and are just so content with everything that is happening around you; those moments of pure bliss when you seriously cannot complain about a single thing and you’re just plain happy. I found that this week, but I didn’t find it in just a moment; I found it in an entire two weeks. For those of you who do not know, I had the extreme blessing to spend the last two weeks in Rome with an International Business Program at Marquette. I came into the trip expecting to learn a little in our lectures, see some pretty sights, and meet some new people. Little did I know that I would find so much more; a new insight into other cultures, a better understanding of myself, and a better understanding of what I want with my future.

Saying Rome was beautiful would be the understatement of the year. The views that I saw are the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life, whether that is in person, on TV, or in a picture. They are spectacular and indescribable. I took pictures everywhere I went, but they don’t even come close to doing these views justice. I don’t know how to put into words how absolutely perfect this country is, but it was. I fell in complete and total love with the people, the scenery, the different cities, and the way of life. But more than that I fell in love with the person that this city made me. I didn’t realize how close minded I was, how much I was scared of change. That is until I was thrown into the middle of a big city and pretty much told to figure it out. It overwhelmed me at first, and made me feel very vulnerable. I wasn’t there long enough to completely get over those two overarching feelings, but I was there long enough to embrace that vulnerability. To open up my walls just a little bit and open my mind to an entirely different way of life. We had the opportunity through the program to hear from different business professionals and different professors. They were all so passionate, so driven, so excited to share their country and their culture with us. It inspired me, it woke me up, it made me think for the first time in my life that maybe I could do something different with my future. Maybe I could deviate from the plan, walk down a different path.

In the end it was only two weeks, which is such a short amount of time to let a place change you, but it definitely woke something up inside me. I don’t quite know what I am going to do with it yet, and I am not sure if it is even going to matter once I get home, but I had an unforgettable two weeks and I could not be more thankful to everyone who helped me get there.

Friday, May 30, 2014

it's a love/hate relationship

It's been a weird week as I am sure many could tell from my last post. The best way I can describe it is that I've been in a funk. Not sad, not happy, not really anything, just weird. So I wrote my last blog post and felt okay about it, but then I read it again and I hated it. I hated what I said, hated what I meant, hated that I had to even write it because I hated that I felt it. I hate that the past is still so much a part of me. I feel like I am constantly at battle between letting the past make me who I am, and letting it run my life today. I am always hearing conflicting things about not looking back, but at the same time never forgetting where you came from. Like, what? That's confusing and the world needs to stop being so confusing. Everyone has a different opinion on how to handle the past and this week, after writing, I was mad at myself for looking back so much. I was mad at letting myself be hurt by something that happened months ago and I was mad that it still had the power to make me sad and minimize all the progress I felt like I had made in fixing my broken heart.
And then Maya Angelou died.
I spent hours rereading some of her greatest quotes, her little pieces of wisdom that she shared with the world through her writing. Maybe it's because she was a dancer, or maybe it's because she wrote amazing works of art that I can only dream about writing, or maybe its because her poems and her speeches spoke to my soul, but Maya Angelou could bring me to tears any minute of any day and she could get me to stop, and really think, and even sometimes listen to what she was saying. So I paged through my notebooks that are lined with Maya Angelou quotes that I have read and been inspired by, and I sorted through thousands of social media postings about this literary hero that the world lost too soon, and I found the quote I was looking for. I found the little snippet of wisdom that helped me stop being so mad at myself for being affected by my past.

I hate looking back. I hate seeing the endlessly happy carefree girl I was one year ago today. I hate looking at the pictures and I hate reading my writing and I hate that I can't go back. But I love who I am today. I love my independence, and I love my friends. I love my job and my city and my family. I love the way my future looks and I love the feeling I get when I think about that future. I love the confidence I feel every morning and I love that for the first time in my life I am 100% happy with the person I am. I love all that knowing that I wouldn't be here today if the past didn't happen. I love it all in spite of the fact that I had to have my heart broken, I had to struggle, and I had to endure all the bad days to get here. I love it because of my past. I know the changes that I have been through firsthand. I know them all too well, and I know they have prepared me for this, for my happiness today. I wrote about a new kind of happiness in my last post and while I didn't write it because I couldn't actually bring myself to say it, I was thinking, "I miss my old happiness." And I do, don't get me wrong. But my new happiness, this happiness I feel today, is stronger, its genuine, its lasting. and that is something I definitely can't hate. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

a new kind of happiness

"but the struggles make you stronger, and the changes make you wise. and happiness has its own way of takin' it's sweet time"
It's crazy to me how so many things can change in just one year. 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, and I can barely recognize the girl I was 1 year ago. As I finish my junior year of college, I am once again at a loss for words about how fast the time flies by. I cannot believe that I have finished another year in college and that I am going to be a senior. Part of me feels like it was only yesterday that I was moving into Schroeder and meeting my FFP roommate. This week though the bigger part of me is reflecting on how things were for me last May and is incredulous that it was only a year ago.
There is this horrible wonderful genious (the jury is still out) app that I have on my phone called Time Hop. Basically it links with all of your social media sites and shows you what you posted in the years previous on that same exact day. Usually it's pretty cool to see the things you were doing 4 years previous: the friends you were hanging out with, the songs you liked, the pictures you took.... but sometimes its a weird feeling to think about how things were and how much they have changed. Between Time Hop and old blog posts it has become really apparent to me that things are drastically different than they were a year ago.
Last year at this time I was returning home from ending my sophomore year of college and finally feeling like things were really good. I wrote a blog post about overcoming the homesickness and my lack of love for Marquette. I posted about finally falling in love with my college and not being able to wait until I got to move into my apartment and stay in Milwaukee for the summer. Last year at this time I was watching my little sister graduate and get ready to come to Marquette with me. I was helping my family move out of our Texas home and start a new adventure in Philadelphia. I was deeply and madly in love with my high school sweetheart and I was getting ready to say goodbye to him, knowing that I would see him in a couple weeks. Last year at this time I remember being so so happy, and obviously being really annoying about it on social media. I'm kind of kicking myself for that this week. I keep opening my Time Hop every morning and seeing how great things were and, because I can't help it, thinking about everything that has changed in the last 365 days.
Don't get me wrong, I love my life right now. I have amazing friends, two jobs I adore (most of the time), a family that I got to see last weekend, and I am getting ready to spend my summer in Milwaukee, Rome, and then I get to go home. So I am happy, really really happy. But it's not the kind of happy I expected to be, and I can't help but feel a little pang of sadness everytime I think about how I expected my life to turn out 1 year ago today. I planned on spending this summer in Texas with Kyle. I was supposed to have one more semester of school before starting to student teach. I wasn't supposed to be going abroad because I had so much back here that I wasn't able to leave.
So things are weird (understatement of the year). I am looking at pictures and reading the things I wrote a year ago and I recognize the girl that wrote them, but I don't know that anyone who has met me in the last month would. Same smile, same sarcastic tone in my writing, and still trying to figure out how to find my way in this crazy world, but definitely a much diffferent person. I guess I'm still trying to figure out whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Monday, May 5, 2014

facing my fears

There's something to be said about facing your fears with the help of your friends and family. It's scary, and nerve racking, and tear inducing, but when it's over, when it's all said and done, it's the most rewarding thing in the world.

I've never really been a fan of public speaking. I've also never really been a fan of talking about myself, of sharing my story. So when I decided to speak at Marquette's Relay For Life this year, I instantly regretted my decision. The idea of standing in front of 500+ people and telling my story was enough to make me sick, and yet I knew deep down that it was something I had to do. Pretty much everyone who knows me also knows that Relay For Life is a huge part of my life. It is something that I swear by, one of my favorite nights of the year. It has been a huge source of hope and healing for me over the past three years, and I knew this year would be no different. Standing in front of 500 of my classmates and community members is something I will never be able to describe. Getting to share the story of some of the strongest people I have ever encountered is an honor I will never be able to verbalize. Looking out at the audience and seeing my sisters, my friends, my team, my sorority made me feel more loved and cherished than I ever had in my life. Saturday April 26th is a night I will never forget, it's something that I will hold with me for the rest of my life.

My day started hectic and busy, much like I expected it to be. But I got to spend the day with an amazing committee who had all been working their butts off to make this event go off without a hitch. It was so great to see everything come together. We had spent all year planning this one day, and with the guidance of our amazing leaders, Christine, Kristen, and Megan, everything came together so perfectly. My day was also spent with my stomach in knots. I had practiced my speech all week and yet I was still so freaking nervous. I so desperately wanted to be able to accurately share the story of the angels looking over me, and I knew that this was a huge responsibility. I also really didn't want to stand in front of a crowded gymansium and cry, something I was almost positive I wasn't going to be able to achieve.

Right before the event, I took off with another committee member to pick up some last minute donations and the dinner for our survivors that were attending the event. When we stopped at the second restaurant I went to pay the remaining total on the bill after discount and what do you know... it was $12.12. For those readers new to this blog who don't know the significance of this number, when Anna was diagnosed with cancer in high school her family friend started a modern day prayer chain, 1 Million Prayers, in an effort to try and get 1 million people to pray for Anna everyday. We were asked to pray at 12:12, in honor of her favorite bible verse Romans 12:12. After losing Anna, 12:12 has always been my little reminder that she is still with me, so when I saw the total of the bill, I was obviously brought to tears instantly in Buca Di Beppo. I had been so wrapped up in the stress of the event and nervousness of me speaking that I had lost sight in why I was doing this to begin with. Leave it to Anna to put it all back into perspective to me. It was exactly what I needed at that moment and it gave me strength to get through the rest of my night. I have an amazing guardian angel looking out for me, and I know she was with me in that moment and that she was giving me strength as I struggled through my speech.

At my next pick up location, my sister surprised me. Not only my older sister Kaitie who lives in the area and who I knew would be at the event, but my older sister Alyson who came from out of town just to be there with me. This time crying in Panera, I realized that not only do I have the support of the angels above me, but I have THE most incredible support system right here with me. I am so blessed to have family that will literally drop everything they are doing to be with me because they knew I was struggling with the day.

In the end, my speech didn't go as smoothly as I dreamed it would, but I got through it. I cried in front of a crowded gymnasium like I hoped I wouldn't, but through the tears I was able to see 500 new people who were touched by my, Anna's, Megan's, Jane's, our story. We raised over $40,000 for cancer research that night. I cheered as our survivors took the first lap of the night. I listened as our other speakers talked about their stories, and for the first time since getting involved with Relay For Life instead of feeling a pang of jealousy when people talked about their loved ones beating cancer, I was genuinely able to feel happy for them. The selfish side of me had always longed for their happy ending before, this year I realized I had found my own happy ending.

I still miss Anna, every day. My heart still hurts for Kyle who lost his mom, and my classmates who lost Anna and Arie. I still hate cancer with every fiber of my being. But this year, Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society helped me to see the bigger picture. This year I not only faced my fear of public speaking and talking about myself, but I also faced the fear I have of this disease. Anna, Arie, Jane, and so many others have been taken from this world too soon. But there are SO many of us still here, committed to fighting, and I got to spend all year seeing this on a daily basis. I stood in front of that gymnasium and I talked about how cancer had changed my life and I committed to fighting until it stops changing people's lives, until people don't have to hear the words "you have cancer" anymore. So I faced my fears in more ways than one, I was comforted and surrounded by the most amazing support system in the world, and the hope I felt last Saturday is enough to get me through another day because deep down I know that this all isn't for nothing. This loss, this pain, this struggle....its all leading up to something much greater, and that's finally enough for me.