When I think of structure, most of the time construction and buildings come to mind. In a way, I understand that progress is something that is built through construction and architecture. I can’t tell you how many times it makes me sick to think of open land that has had construction take over only to build buildings that no one occupies. It’s disheartening. It happens more than people think.

My family has a farm that has been in our family for generations. Making money off the land has not been an easy feat. If you ask the town that we live in, my family is standing in the way of progress. We wanted to protect the land because the land is shrinking due to development and the wildlife has nowhere to go. Now, before you all think I’m against progress, I’m not. But with progress and development comes issues like additional trash on the road, heavier traffic, communities that expand with crime and more resources that are used, there needs to be a balance. When we develop all the land that exists in this world, there’s no way to preserve anything else. That is why it’s crucial to seek other opportunities. I love the conservation groups that allow land to preserve the soil, and the wildlife. That’s not to say I don’t think that some of the development isn’t beautiful because it can be. But there’s something about nature and the structure of the land that calls me home. It’s because of this love that my family wanted to build a solar farm on it. The town fought us for several years. They wanted our land for development and we were vehemently against it. The town isn’t the ones that pick up trash off the side of our street when it gets trashed almost every 24 hours. The town isn’t the ones that has stray cats and dogs coming to us because people have dropped them off. The town only looks at the dollars and cents. Small collegiate towns that the colleges and universities overtake often have this issue. They don’t care about what others may wish or desire. They don’t have to deal with the issues. When I’m on the land, I know that I’m home. I can see the stars at night, hear the crickets chirping, smell the freshness in the air that hasn’t been consumed with exhaust, and listen to the nature beckoning me to enjoy the night air.

The lushness of the grass when it’s plentiful and green, the smell of the flowers as they are blossoming, the image of crops that grow all around us, it’s something that can’t just be duplicated. There are multitudes of structures that we encounter every single day. Some of them are material, some emotional, some visible and others imprinted into our soul. Those structures mean different things to each one of us. For me, I need a structure that includes nature. My soul dances with peace at the thought of being outdoors and enjoying the beauty all around me. Yet in the same breath, I need the structure of the city. Businesses that meet the needs of so many of us are something that I have come to depend on. Grocery stores, markets, places that provide the necessities are all an integral part of the structure that I crave.

We all need structure in our friendships too. When those friendships change it can be a scary time. We may have taken for granted those friendships and relationships. They may have run their course and it may be a difficult journey to embark on changes but those changes help create new structures and foundations that can lead to various opportunities and connections. The structure that we may dwell in does not define the structure that we live. Someone could have a lot of money and feel alone in their structure while those who do not have the same types of means could feel that they have the world as their oasis. Structure can be a part of one’s personal beliefs and dreams.

My structure of personal and professional environments is shifting. Gone are the notions that I’m not good enough. There will always be someone who is more talented than I am, who can affect greater change, who can make others do the things they want better than me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have value. My structure is one that starts with a faith in God. I have to believe that my faith helps me to build better structures in my life. For those that aren’t religious, find the things that help stabilize your structure. We all build things. Some of us build buildings while others build futures. For those who have never been able to have children, you build families based off your choosing. People aren’t meant to keep structures the same. We all change. Our needs change over time. Our goals and dreams become more focused along the way and if we meet that special person to share our lives with, then those dreams are doubled. The structures that we live with become stronger because there’s reinforcement in our lives.

As a Christian, I’m told to build my structure upon God. For the most part I try to. But I’m the first to admit that I like to be in control of what happens around me. When life throws me a curve ball, I’m the first to try to fix things. It’s not always about fixing things. Life is built upon so may layers that it’s hard to label them. Each layer sets another foundation for the skills and tools that we need in order to grow. We won’t always succeed at everything we try. There are going to be days where we think our internal structures aren’t doing their job and those are the days that we need to regroup. We all have a spirit and zest for change whether we want it or not. There are people in this world that absolutely detest change and they don’t like their life structure to be off balance. Guess what? It’s going to happen anyway. We all get a day older, hopefully a little wiser, and more knowledgeable about the structures that we inhabit. We all learn that we can’t control everything and that when we try to fix what isn’t meant for us to do, it often leads to damages that we never thought would occur.

When I go to work, I’m often amazed at the structure in business. When you work for a company, there are expectations in any job you do. Some decisions that are made are cut throat and others make a lot of sense. But no matter what you may think about your job, if the job is just a job, then you don’t have a good professional structure. We all strive for happiness and I’ve often heard that if you are truly happy with a job, that the job doesn’t feel like work. For me, my job is just a job right now. I’m working for better opportunities and more challenges along the way. I’m starting to break out of my shell and network more. I’m creating a better structure for myself because I’m not willing to settle for the mundane. I want true happiness. I want the kind of happiness where not every day is perfect but I’m content with the choices I make. I choose a better structural environment that I’m building.

So what kind of structure do I really want? Good question. I love to write and I do a lot with social media. If I can eventually walk away from the corporate side of things and finish writing my book, I will feel as if I’ve created a strong opportunity for myself. I may be too wordy at times but much of that stems from emotions that I’m dealing with. Shortening sentences is going to be one of the things I work on in order to move forward.

Understanding structure is something we all have to do. Everything around us is evolving. Just because we’re out of school doesn’t mean we’re finished with education. It’s an ongoing process. There are folks who are lifelong students. That’s not a bad thing. After all, knowledge is what helps all of us build the layers of structure we all need in order to grow.

Don’t be afraid to share your experiences through your writings, art, music, crafts, or whatever helps you to tell your stories. Your experiences may help others learn what may work well or what not to do. We’re all a work in progress.

Be willing to get feedback and be accessible. All of us need help during our lifetimes. We all go through changes and difficult emotional journeys but that doesn’t mean that we have to feel alone. There’s a lot of support for people who are trying to make it through the days. All we have to do is be willing to accept the help and grow from it.

No matter what structure you may have in your lives, my hope for each of you is that you keep building layers that matter. Not every layer will work the way you want, but we are all a part of an important piece of each others lives. Every voice matters. Don’t think that yours doesn’t. Communicate when you’re hurting. Share the joys in your life. Express your frustrations and anxieties. Don’t shut people out. It’s only through the structure that we build with others that our foundations can either be solid or shaky. I’m choosing a united structure. One that’s stronger than where I started and building on a slab that may start out shaky but cements over time into a true victory. Kindness and love are the strongest structure we offer one another. Let’s build our structures with love as the foundation and see what layers get added along the way.

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