year in review: 2017.

After organizing my shoes on the new shoe racks I requested for Christmas (insert “I’ll never get pregnant before marriage” joke here), ya girl is back at it again with the blogging.  One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to continue blogging on a regular basis, and I’m going to start with this, my annual year in review post.

Honestly, this post holds a special place in my heart, as do all of the others, and I really do it more for myself than anyone else.  It’s amazing to be able to look back at the last year and think about everything that’s happened in my life and how crazy how much can happen in just five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.  (Because that’s how you measure a year.)  ((In addition to measuring in love.))

I knew going into 2017 that it would be a crazy busy year, and one full of change, but I don’t think I could’ve imagined all of the change that would happen outside of the obvious.  One of the biggest and most life-changing things happened when I least expected it (isn’t that always how it goes?) and I can’t wait to see what happens with it in 2018 (and onward).

Anyway.  Let’s go.

January

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i’ll always look back on these days of running errands and visiting the library with these two little munchkins with fondness.  {1-26-17}

After my first actual Christmas break since I was in high school, I started back on school with my final two courses – my Liberal Arts Capstone and a Jane Austen course.  I thought both would be fairly simple.  Turns out Jane was a breeze (thanks, years of watching period dramas for fun!!!!!).  The Capstone, on the other hand…  *laughs through tears*  To be completely honest, it was the hardest semester of school I’d ever experienced.  I cried more in those three months than ever before.  Due to stress, I ate way too much ice cream and got incredibly bad acne.  For the first time ever, I considered quitting and dreaded getting up in the morning to study.  The only thing that pushed me through it was the fact that I was close, and if I could just finish, I knew I’d be able to conquer anything.

And I did, praise the Lord.

In addition to this, I discovered a lot of new things.  Dear Evan Hansen came early in the beginning of the month.  Life.  Changing.  Listen to the soundtrack – and watch a bootleg, if you can find one.  I also discovered a brand new show (Teen Wolf – hello, you weirdly beautiful show) and, through obsessing over said show, found my best friend.  The show was a gateway to conversations about growing up, maturing, being a young adult while still living at home, and relationships – all incredibly easy because we’d known each other for almost eight years and had the same upbringing.  After drifting away from someone who I’d previously called my best friend, it was so heartwarming to find someone new.  Since then, we’ve created so many memories together and have stretched each other in so many ways and I can’t imagine myself without her.

I also blogged about how scared I was to start writing, which turned out to be not so scary after all.  After that, I worked on my novel several times a week at Starbucks or at home or in my car or wherever I could find a power outlet (because my laptop battery suuuuucked), until finally finishing it at the end of March.  (And then starting up again as I started submitting queries.)

Minor notable events: I met Veronica Roth and got a signed copy of her latest novel, Carve the Mark, and started going to a college age Bible study that was one of the highlights of my semester.

February

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the true marker of the beginning of our bestfriendship – geting each other matching hoodies.    {2-24-17}

I got a Facebook account during this month and I’ve never been more disgusted and intrigued.  It’s like a car crash – you’re horrified but you just. can’t. look. away.  I take frequent breaks from it and rarely scroll through my feed because of it, but it’s led to many good things (I wouldn’t have a few of the best people in my life if I didn’t have it).

I also struggled with a long-time crush during February.  (Stupid love month.)  It’s hard being so sure that you and a guy would be a great couple when he barely knows you exist.  After several prayers and seeing him way too many times, it finally went away.  It was for the best, after all, and I learned a lot about myself and relationships through it.  I wish I hadn’t gotten so obsessed and let him take over so much of my brain, but it’s all over now and we’re friends.

I also cried over my Capstone a lot.  Dang that professor.  He told me not to worry about my grades (after not grading my papers for literally weeks) because that was “childish.”  I’ve only close to legitimately hating someone once before (a teenage girl who made such a horrific impact on my younger sister that she still lives with the consequences years later), and I don’t want to ever come that close again.  He taught me a lot, though – like to always remember that people have feelings, that people are always capable of rising above impossibly dreadful situations, and that self-care is something that everyone needs.  (Meanwhile, my Austen professor was an absolute gem, and the entire class enjoyed a very lively discussion of Austen’s works and other historical novels – complete with memes.  It was an easy A course and I adored every moment of it.)

I did take a weekend off to go to a retreat in the mountains with my WITAlive friends and it was a blast.  I made so many new friends and developed deeper connections with friends I’d made before.  It was phenomenal and I’ll cherish those memories forever.  I also started volunteering as a small group leader at my church and grew to love all of my little sixth-grade girls dearly.  Other things of note: I attended a 20’s themed 20th birthday party for two of my dearest friends, one of the highlights of my year.  I also saw Newsies in the movie theatre with my friends (twice) and it slayed my life.

March

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making salads and watching a tv show over lunch became my safe place – my haven in the craziness of school.  {3-24-17}

March started off with a bang – my first royalty check.  For the first time, my career as a writer finally felt real.  People had bought my book and I heard from a lot of them that they enjoyed it.  WHAT A CONCEPT.

I also got Rather Existential™ about finishing college.  As the schoolaholic I was, I had no idea how to have a life outside of school.  Especially in that last semester of college, where all of my time was devoted to finishing my capstone, I clung to the hours I spent in my room on my laptop, writing pages and pages of this massive final paper.  It was so hard and took so much time and stressed me out so much, but I didn’t want to let it go.  After eight years of finding my identity in my schoolwork (because I didn’t have too many friends in high school and sunk much of my time into being the best at school that I could), I didn’t know how to be myself outside of it.  I distinctly remember letting myself sink into fear and God revealing through His word that I shouldn’t be afraid of the future – three times in one passage after a particularly hard day of letting go of the reins.

And then, before I realized what was happening, it was March 24th and I was submitting my final paper and then going to a friend’s house to shoot his guns.  I remember unloading a semi-automatic rifle (with impeccable accuracy, I might add) on a certain target while screaming, “This is for you, professor!!!”  That was a good moment.

Also during March, I went to DNOW with my group of sixth grade girls from my church and enjoyed it immensely, and saw my first play at the massive theatre in my little town (Tarzan) and fantasized with a friend about acting.  (Little did we know, we’d be on that same stage with some of the same people only a few months later.)

April

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some of the sibs and i at james’s state robotics competition.  {4-7-17}

This month started out with two of my best friends surprising me by driving all the way down from Virginia to hang out with me and my siblings.  We drank too much coffee and played April Fools Day tricks on people and they consoled me when I started freaking out about not getting a passing grade on my big final paper.  (I ended up passing, though.  It just looked like I hadn’t passed because he still hadn’t graded papers that I’d submitted a month ago.  Classic.)

My brother started competing with his robotics team, and I watched like the proud mom friend/sister I am as his team went all the way through to the world competition in Houston.  (They ended up getting third in the world.  Yeah, he’s pretty smart.)  Another time I felt like a mom was when I took the twins I’d been nannying for two years to their Easter party at a farm, complete with bunnies, an Easter egg hunt, and adorable clothes.

My world was slightly rocked when I found out that a good guy friend liked me and wanted to see what would happen if we explored being more than Just Friends™.  After twenty-two years of never hearing that any guy had even the slightest bit of romantic interest in me, it was a lot to handle.  (I actually got the text as I was telling my parents – half jokingly, half seriously – that I repel men.)

Towards the end of the month, my entire family went to Houston with my brother for a week for his robotics competition and I volunteered to stay home, hold down the fort, watch our new puppies (!!!), and cover both Katie’s and my own nannying days.  I was a little disappointed that I could only watch the competition via livestream, but it was honestly one of the best weeks of my life.  I saw Matilda with my grandma, invited my best friend to spend a few days with me (watching movies and episodes of Teen Wolf and being awful influences on one another and basically being way too domestic), dyed my hair blue, and spent many hours talking to aforementioned guy.

I also submitted my first query letter, went to another author event with my best bookish friend, and declared my best friend love for my bestie (who’d just done the same in a totally separate conversation).

May

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my sister and i at the twins’ preschool graduation.  so many happy tears.  {6-11-17}

Continuing my inclination to be a mom with no children, I spent several hours in early May helping one of the twins pull her loose tooth out.  It took an entire afternoon of both Katie and I assuring her that it wouldn’t hurt, promising her candy, and hugging and kissing away her sobs.  The tooth finally came out and the little girl told us she wished she’d done it earlier.  (Smh.  Listen to me, child!)  As this was the last month of picking them up from their preschool – as Katie and I had done for the last three years – I held moments like this close to my heart.  I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed at their graduation along with the other moms I’d gotten to know over the last three years.  I still miss getting parenting and relationship advice and obsessing over This is Us with those moms and can’t wait to have that again with my own kids.

One of the most exhausting weekends of my life – mentally, emotionally, and physically – happened during this month.  I ended things with the guy after a month of getting to know each other, helped my family move out of the house we’d called home for the last six years (the longest my siblings and I had ever lived anywhere), and unpacked boxes and cleaned and organized a few rooms in the new house while my mom was gone the afternoon after we’d moved in for our Mother’s Day present for her.  After barely getting any sleep, I remember crashing on the couch for a few hours after cleaning the new house, completely dead to the world.

One of the best things that has ever happened to me happened during this month.  When my family moved into our new house, my sister and I moved into the basement (which we would later start paying rent for).  We each have our own room, a shared bathroom and closet (which my parents were able to copy exactly from the master bathroom – perks of building a house, even though it took over a year – #BLESSED), and our own living room/kitchenette.  We decorated the kitchenette like Luke’s from Gilmore Girls (complete with an adorable coffee mug shelf just like his that holds thirty mugs), and just got open shelving installed by a neighbor this past week.  After living on the first floor, directly off the kitchen and living room, and sharing a bathroom with two sisters (which doubled as our guest bathroom), living down here in the basement has been nothing short of heaven.  Sure, I can hear thumps from the school room directly above me, but it’s infinitely better than what I had before.  We still don’t have wifi at the new house (and probably won’t for several years), but it’s so gorgeous and has so much potential.  My family is so happy here and we’re all incredibly blessed.

I also organized my college graduation party, and was so happy that all of my best friends came – even some friends from out of town, who we explored Atlanta with in the days after.  One of my favorite things was sitting in a circle with the 20+ people who came (I’ve never been one for big parties and firmly believe in quality over quantity) and hearing about their first impressions of me.  (One was actually sad that I was so in love with Captain America… looking back on the last few months of my life makes me want to laugh and say “Joke’s on you!”)

After moving to our wifi-less house, I started downloading episodes of shows off Netflix while I was at church so I could watch them during the week.  I made it through several seasons of The Office this way, which I’ll forever link to mornings spent drinking coffee and bingeing shows, happy to not have the stress of school or a full-time job (yet).

June

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krispy kreme drive-thru after mamma mia with these crazies.  {6-14-17}

So began another month of watching shows in the morning, nannying in the afternoons, and questioning my existence.  Looking back, I realize how blessed I was to have those peaceful moments before starting a full-time job in November, but, in those weeks, it was a struggle to see the good.  I applied for jobs and never heard back, wondered if I could find another nannying job (as the one I’d done for the last few years was swiftly coming to an end), and wished I had the structure of school.  In my hours of unexpected free time, I read books, edited my novel (The Art of Letting Go), got tons of constructive criticism on it, and finally – finally – started submitting query letters to agents.  That, by far, was one of the best things I did last year, and something I’m still very proud of.

I also met my long-time friend Heather from Australia that I met through this blog (hey, girl!), and am currently looking forward to spending a few days with her next month (!!!).

During this month, I was able to enjoy visits from several different friends who lived in different states.  I also went to our old house to steal the wifi and watch the Tony awards (feeling incredibly inspired by the fact that all of the nominations for best play were debuts and sobbing my eyes out when the cast of Dear Evan Hansen – especially Ben Platt – swept the awards).

My sisters and I won lottery tickets to see the touring production of Mamma Mia!, and we dragged my brother along (although he later admitted he enjoyed it).  I had a bite of a Krispy Kreme donut for the first time in seven years and nearly cried.

One night, I went to visit a good friend at a local theatre and watch her work on a play – a kids’ summer program put on by some of Katie’s theatre friends.  I brought a book to read if I got bored, but was asked to fill in for one of the actresses (who, a few weeks into rehearsals, still not shown up).  I was happy to oblige.  I worked blocking with this friend, read the other girl’s lines, and kept having to correct “we should do this” to “you guys should do this.”  At the end of rehearsals, the director looked at me and said, “You know you’ve got the part, right?  Is that okay?  Can you do it?”  And that, my friends, is how I got into theatre.  I was an outlier – five years older than the oldest person in the cast and one of the minor characters, with only five lines of my own – but I had such a blast.  I warned them that they were literally never getting rid of me after that, and, judging from the last few months, it’s been insanely accurate.

I also got my diploma and tassel in the mail (perks of getting my degree online), bought my first (five) succulents, started re-reading Before You Meet Prince Charming (Lord Jesus give me strength), got a Peter Pan phone case, watched Band of Brothers over a week with my brother, finally started losing weight (!!!!), started watching Riverdale (the soapiest of soap operas and yet I was so obsessed), had the first of many sleepovers with two of my best friends, and hosted my first immersive Clue night (where my cousins and siblings and I dressed up as Clue characters as we played Clue – still one of the best ideas I’ve ever had).  All in all, a packed month.

July

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me and some of the baby cast of beauty after our last show.  {7-30-17}

In July, we spent a week at my grandparents’ house for our annual cousin camp – give or take a few days because of work.  I finished the last few episodes of the first season of Riverdale while snuggled up in my sleeping bag and also worked with my grandma for hours on cardboard cars so we could have a “drive-in” movie.  We watched one of my grandma’s old high school math students reprise his role in Beauty and the Beast in a local production after first seeing him play Lumiere ten years before, which was incredible.

My sister and I also spent nine days working at a vendor during AmericasMart in Atlanta.  After waking up at five-thirty every morning, driving an hour, staying on my feet from eight in the morning to six or seven at night, then driving an hour back home… I think it’s safe to say I almost died of exhaustion.

Later that month, some friends drove up from Florida for the weekend to see my brother play the Tin Man in a local production of The Wizard of Oz.  I also went with one of them to the Fox Theatre to see Idina Menzel in concert.  She’s such a diva but it was so worth it!  I also kept working on my novel and sending out query letters, but faced more and more rejection.  Now I no longer feel better whenever people tell me that “J.K. Rowling submitted to twelve publishers before getting one!”  Yeah, come back when you’ve submitted to more than thirty and only two have asked to see more (before turning it down).

In the end of July, Beauty of the Century (the kids show) opened, and I spent every night at the theatre for a week (tech week, but often we’d just sit on the stage after the kids left and talk for hours).  Four shows in one weekend, then it was over.  I will never forget that experience.  Trying to keep thirty kids quiet backstage while the show was going on affirmed that, but it was more than just the craziness – it was the family that formed in those weeks, which was something I hadn’t experienced in such a long time.  I was a backstage mom for those kids, and I still love each and every one of them.  And there’s just something so exhilarating about being on a stage and being part of a story that plays out, in real time, before an audience… which is why I started to think seriously about auditioning for a that a new friend was a part of, especially after he said that it involved stage combat.

August

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baby bestie & i.  {8-1-17}

I ushered in this month by spending three days with my best friend, getting my hair cut seven inches shorter, and going to a baseball game at the new baseball stadium in town with friends.  My bestie also introduced me to bubble tea, and after looking through pictures, I’m craving it again.  (Thanks, Karlee.)  We also went to see a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was put on by the production company that would later do Treasure Island.  (The cast included a few people who I’d met during Beauty, and some people who I would later consider some of my best friends, even though I didn’t even know their names at the time.  Crazy how that happens, isn’t it?)  In line with theatre stuff, I also attended the awards show for the theatre that had hosted Beauty, since my brother had been nominated for an award as the titular character in The Pied Piper of Hamlin, the kids show from the previous year’s summer program.  (Again, people were nominated that I barely knew and would, in less than three months time, become more dear to me than some people I’d known for years.)

The twins started kindergarten and attended an after-school program during the days I usually nannied, so I inadvertently found myself with even more free time.  It was a struggle to let go at first, because hanging out with these adorable small children every Tuesday and Thursday had been my routine for the last two and a half years.  I’d lost my little buddies… and my only source of income.  To say that the months following were downers would be an understatement.  To make up for it, I started babysitting at a Classical Conversations co-op once a week.  It wasn’t much, but I took what I could get.  Meanwhile, I looked for a new job.

To distract myself from this aspect of my life, I decided to audition for Treasure Island.  If I couldn’t have a job, I could at least have some structure, right?  It helped knowing that several of my close younger friends were auditioning as well.  I prepared a monologue (the opening scene of Dear Evan Hansen, plus a little more from later on) and did it.  My hands shook the entire time and for several minutes afterward, but I did it anyway.  After the monologues, we read selections from the play.  I got to read the part of Doctor Livesey and instantly connected with the character.  Two of my younger friends and I had plans to go rock climbing afterwards, so we had to leave early, but I left wishing and hoping and praying that I could get the part.  To my complete and utter shock, after an entire afternoon and most of an evening of waiting with my fingers crossed… the cast list came.  I’d gotten a part.  A supporting lead (the doctor character I’d read for) with ninety-two lines for my second play – not too shabby!  And not just lines – the way the play was orchestrated, most of it was narration by Jim, Captain Smollet, and, yours truly, Doctor Livesey.  I had massive paragraphs of narration, facing the audience, in a spotlight, including the opening monologue of Act 2.  I instantly freaked out, wondering if I could even do it.  But I was determined to try – and, more than that, incredibly excited.

My siblings and I also started hosting a movie night sleepover every few weeks with some friends to introduce them to Harry Potter.  It’s been super fun, especially since we were never really allowed to do sleepovers when we were younger.  It’s also pretty great having a space of our own to do this!  I won more lottery tickets to see the touring production of An American in Paris (making it the third professional musical I’d see this year – #blessed), so my sister and I went with some of her friends.  It was more ballet-focused than I’d thought, and absolutely stunning in every way.  I also started learning French, killed four MASSIVE spiders within the space of two weeks (I’m not kidding – they were about four inches long and I’ve got the pictures to prove it), spent another week watching action movies with my brother, and sat on the roof of my Volvo wagon to watch the eclipse.

An agent also asked to see my entire manuscript and, although he later turned it down, it was a great feeling.

September

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look at these small children.  {9-7-17}

Rehearsals for Treasure Island continued – including the amazing Saturday combat rehearsals – and I started making more friends from the cast.  Going through my pictures to remember what happened in those months reminded me of those first texts, friend requests, Instagram notifications, and little things I’d tell my best friend about them.  I also started asking for advice on how to subtly flirt with a certain cast member because of his Captain America shirt.

I started taking my younger friend to and from rehearsal every week, and we’d sit on her porch swing at night and talk.  Those hours spent talking with her until I had to drag myself away built up our friendship more than it had in the last six years that I’d known her and formed some of my favorite memories in this season of my life.  She’s seven years younger than me, but she’s one of my best friends.

Halfway through the month, my family went on our annual beach trip – something we’d skipped the year before in order to go to Disney instead (meaning we hadn’t gone in two years and were long past due for a trip).  We had so much fun sitting on the beach, reading, watching TV shows and movies, and just spending time with one another.  My siblings and I also took a few afternoon excursions by ourselves and felt super basic with our frappucinos and quality Instagram pictures.  During this beach trip, a friend from church decided to set me up on a blind date, which I hesitantly accepted and scheduled for a few days after I got home.  (That story is too long to share here, but suffice it to say that the date went well but then he ghosted me.  Oh well.  I’d finally had my first date.  Check that off the bucket list!)

I distinctly remember texting a friend that, in the hours before, I’d (1) gotten an email from an agent asking for the first fifty pages of my novel, (2) started prepping for an interview the next week, (3) scheduled a blind date, and (4) memorized lines because “on top of all of this craziness hey why not star in a play.”  The agent later turned down the novel (recently, actually) and the blind date flopped, but I successfully memorized all of my lines and (three interviews and many tears later) got the job.

October

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our gentility trio.  {10-12-17}

Ahh, yes.  The month where everything changed.  In this month, I got asked out for the first time, successfully co-starred in a play, auditioned for another play, and got a job.

My friendship with my theatre friends deepened, we had a night that will forever go down in Elliott Family Lore as the Bonfire of Love, and a friend (and former castmate) was killed in a car crash and I found out about it right after being sick and right before auditioning for Miracle on 34th Street.  (I’m not kidding – being sick, finding out, and auditioning all happened in the space of about an hour and a half.)  Because of that (and because I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted), I thought I’d bombed the audition.  There really wasn’t even a part for me, as the lead called for a woman in her thirties and the other female parts were very minor “elves.”  I’d promised my mom a few days before that “even if I auditioned,” I wouldn’t have to be at every rehearsal.  The next morning, I woke up to an email with the cast list.  I’d gotten the lead.  This time, I had a hundred and fifty-four lines.  Again, not too shabby for something I’d done on a whim.  This time, I freaked out for a solid week (during tech week for Treasure Island) before finally deciding that if I’d gotten myself into this mess, I might as well try my hardest to make it through it.

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bonus pic bc i still love and adore this cast.  {10-13-17}

Rehearsals for Miracle started three days after Treasure Island closed, which was quite the whirlwind.  I hated leaving my Treasure Island friends I’d grown to love so much, but I was happy to make new memories.  A few of my favorite memories from Treasure Island include my Sexy Ben Franklin outfit, eating pizza at 2am with my new theatre besties after closing night, and listening to “I’m Still Here” from Treasure Planet at least once on the road to every rehearsal.  (There’s also that time I chucked my gun into the audience on closing night… but we won’t talk about that.)

Other random favorite memories were shopping with two new theatre friends, visiting the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern to see MacBeth with my sister, a theatre friend, and my Miracle director, meeting my love interest for Miracle in a roundabout way (and hiding from him, obviously), going on a date, and enjoying a fun Halloween party.

November

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rehearsing the final scene (feat. our makeshift bench, my post-work outfit, and several onlookers who wanted to experience the adorbs).  {11-17-17}

Ahh, yes.  NaNo.  I started the month with such high hopes, thinking I’d be able to participate again.  But, sadly, no.  I got ten thousand words in, then started working full time (with an hour-long commute – without traffic).  There went that idea.  I’m still going to finish that book, though.  Slowly, surely, over the next few months.  Looking forward to it, actually.

In the space of a weekend, I drove down to Florida with my sisters, participated in the most stressful wedding ever, visited several friends, came back to Georgia, hammered out six thousand words of my novel in an afternoon (before going to the Fox Theatre to see the cast of The Avengers do a benefit read-through of Our Town – ALL THE HEART EYES BECAUSE MY LIFE. WAS. MADE.), and started training for my new job – a receptionist position at a car dealership.  It’s been almost four months and it’s been a struggle sometimes but I mostly love it to death.

Other than working ten hours a day, my life circled around rehearsals for Miracle, Christmas prep, maintaining my social life, and deepening friendships.  The last week of November was ridiculous because I’d get up at 6:30, leave for work early to beat traffic, work ’til 5pm, fight traffic for an hour and a half all the way up to the theatre, rehearse for three or four hours, drive thirty minutes home, sleep for six or seven hours, and get up to do it all again.  It’s a testament to how amazing my theatre friends are that they would still hang out with me after seeing me stressed to the point of tears.

December

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my best friend and my wifey.  {12-10-17}

December was a whirwind.  Miracle opened and was a rousing success, much to the relief of myself and my costars.  I was able to get all of opening day off, so I spent it at the theatre figuring out how to do my hair, finishing the set, buying flowers for all of the backstage moms, and trying not to have a nervous breakdown.  Saturday gave me a real taste of what it’d be like the rest of the time, with leaving for work at seven in the morning, working 8:30-6, booking it to the theatre and only making it an hour before curtains, and then doing the show.  Craziness.

There were so many little stories of things that happened during Miracle that would take an entire blog post to tell, but by far my favorite is when I literally ended the very last show with a bang.  After the most romantic scene in the entire show, the lights went dark and everything was completely black.  One of the tech guys hadn’t been there, so the table in the apartment set was on the wrong spike tape.  Not a big deal – during the scene, I’d just skirted around it.  This time, however, I’d forgotten that there were chairs.  Instead of going in front of it like I had the entire rehearsal process and every single one of the six shows before, I went around back.  Tragically, since I’d forgotten the chairs, I ran straight into one, knocking it over before tripping over it.  I held in my laughter as I crawled offstage, then fell in the wings, laughing hysterically and trying to explain through whispered gasps what had happened.  What a memory.

Another favorite memory of December is when my best friend from Iowa who I’d met on Pinterest a few years before but hadn’t met in real life yet flew over and spent an entire weekend with me.  Even though she brought the snow that cancelled all of my birthday plans, two shows, and knocked out the power aND WATER FOR OVER FORTY-EIGHT HOURS… I still love her.  We had such a blast hanging out together ranting, draining our laptop batteries to watch movies, reading books, and FaceTiming friends.  We ate my birthday cheesecake by candlelight – a lot less romantic when you remember that you can’t brush your teeth afterwards… or flush the toilet… or wash your hands…  Anyway, the events surrounding my birthday were pretty fantastic, even if my actual birthday wasn’t that great (minus Natalie, of course).  We did end up getting to do an impromptu sleepover with my other best friend, and it. was. amazing.  (Mostly because we had light and heat and queso and a John Krasinski movie on the big TV.)  If anything, it reminded me that people who see me at my absolute worst and still love me are worth keeping around.

Other favorite memories from December include keeping our Ben & Jerry’s ice cream outside in the snow to keep it from melting completely, showering at a friend’s uncle’s house (because they had both power and water – PRAISE THE LORD), doing a photo shoot with my two bestest friends in the world on our last day together, knowing I’d made it through one of the worst days of my life on my second-to-last show day with applause (affirming my love for that famous Wonder quote – “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives” … especially on that particular day), absolutely crushing the last weekend of Miracle, getting bOTH A TRAMPOLINE AND A TOASTER OVEN FOR CHRISTMAS LIKE HELLO BEST CHRISTMAS EVER, and enjoying much too much time with my best friend eating pizza, ranting about life’s problems, and encouraging the h*ck out of one another.  Oh, and I also went on more dates than I can count (with the same guy obviously who do you think I am), so that was also very fun and also a story for another time.

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hello, annual picture-in-the-bathroom-mirror tradition.  (feat a new bathroom and a new crochet’d whale keychain.)  {1-28-18}

All that said, this year was incredible.  I started off the year knowing it would be a year of change but I had no idea just how much would happen.  I went from not knowing what the heck I was doing and yet moving forward anyway to realizing that I’m on some sort of sled going down a snowy hill and it’s just getting faster and faster but I don’t actually mind because it’s super fun???  Sorry for the weak metaphor but that’s what it feels like.

I asked for character development and got it in 2016.  I asked for story progression and got it in 2017.  So, in 2018, I’ll ask for more of both, because Lord knows I need both.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you.  I love rereading these posts over the years and I’m more than happy to share with whoever’s still out there reading this blog.

Excelsior.

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happy 100th birthday, bucky.

Today is my baby Bucky’s birthday.  More than that, it’s his 100th birthday.  (My little baby’s all grown up and eighty years older than me – *weeps*)

So I thought, what better way to spend it than get all feelsy over a fanvid?

Grab some tissues and a birthday cupcake and cry with me.

happy seven years, inklings press {& a lil announcement}

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my mantra recently. {you’ve got mail, 1998}

{I didn’t realize it was the blog’s anniversary ’til I was almost done writing this post and I’m too busy/lazy to rewrite the beginning so.  Yeah.}

Hello, all!  How are your Christmases going?  I hope everybody’s on break by now, and if you’re not, you have my eternal sympathy and all the internet hugs.

I finished wrapping all of my presents yesterday while watching Friends and stuck them under the tree.  It’s starting to look pretty dang full.  After that, I had a cup of cocoa by the fire while “watching” a Christmas movie (and simultaneously texting a friend about whether “fluttery feelings” are a prerequisite for dating #multitasking).  Today, we’ve got cookie-baking on the general to-do list, and then I’ve got another present to finish up and mail post-Christmas.  (I’m so late that it doesn’t even matter and I really want to miss the Christmas rush.)

ANYWAY.

Last Friday, I promised a review of Scrooged and Serendipity for my next Christmas Movie Marathon review.  (Click here to see all of my previous reviews.)  WELL.  We watched Scrooged last night, but since it’s been an entire year since I watched Serendipity and I can’t watch again without my sister (who’s in NC right now, doing Christmasy stuff with her boyfriend), it’ll have to wait.  (A preview of those reviews if you need a movie night recommendation – Scrooged was pure “meh” and Serendipity is everything.)  My review should be up sometime next week; probably Monday or Tuesday because we’re leaving for Christmas with the extended fam on Wednesday (and then you probably won’t hear anything from me ’til the new year, but I’ll try to get some posts queued).

ALL THAT TO SAY: Since that’s not happening, and as a make-up-slash-Christmas-gift, I’m going to post a fanfic I wrote as a Christmas present for a good friend a few years ago. Platonic Stucky, pre-First Avenger.  I’ll post half of it on Christmas Eve and the other half on Christmas Day.  Get ready.  😉

And actually I just realized that today is the seventh anniversary of my blog.  WOW.  If you want to see my first post, you’ll have to go back to my old blog.  Feel free to look around a bit; I’m embarrassed at how HORRIFIC some of the posts were, but it’s a testament to how far I’ve come.  *wink*  Yes, I used to be a Blogspot blog.  Yes, it was originally going to be a blog for my sister and I – which is the only way my dad would let me start one, being the tender age of barely-fifteen.

Gosh.  Reliving those days just a little.  We’d just moved to Georgia from North Carolina. My birthday had been, like, three weeks before, and we celebrated with the only friends I knew at the time – coincidentally, only because my mom had gone to high school with their mom and they’d reconnected at a reunion a while before.  I’d just discovered the blogosphere and was slowly learning about online friends.  (Not ashamed to say that sometimes it felt like my online friends were the only friends I had at the time.)

Now, seven years later, I’m graduating college, have so many friends that I can’t even count them all… and I’m finally – finally – loving everything I post on this little blog.  After seven years, some of my tastes have changed (I don’t post nearly as much about period dramas as I used to, namely because I’ve realized that it’s okay to like mainstream stuff and I don’t have to be Different From Other Girls {which I could write an entire post about, as I told Jessica the other day}), and I know my writing’s gotten better.  And, um, hello – my writing went from something I just did to fill the empty hours to something I realized I actually loved doing.  And I published a novel that I started writing somewhere around that point, so that’s kind of cool.

I just want to say thank you, reader, because without you, this blog would’ve died a long time ago.  Each pageview and follower and comment kept me going, even when I didn’t think it was worth it.  I love you all muchly.  Thanks for sticking with me all these years (or months or however long you’ve been reading).

happy, free, confused, & lonely in the best way.

22, baby.  it’s been a ride.  and i can literally say that everything in this song personally connects with me in one way or another.  figures.

here’s to another year of ditching the whole scene and ending up… okay, dreaming and sleeping.  and hoping everything will be alright.

{ps: i love taylor.  if you hate on taylor, i will hate on you and that’s just the way it’ll go.}

year in review: 2015

Well, it’s that time of year again.  That time of the year when I put off writing my big “Year In Review” post and then eventually do it and become overwhelmed by all of the amazing things that have happened during the year.  Which is probably going to happen again this time.  (EDIT: It did but now I’m just glad it’s all over.  HA.  I wouldn’t change anything that happened in 2015, though.  I have been changed for the better and for good.)

2015 was a big year for me.  Honestly, I think it was one of the most challenging and growing years I’ve ever gone through.  (And hopefully it won’t be the last because I know I need to grow in a lot of areas.)  My family had to go through a lot of hard things, and I had to go through a lot of hard things.  I’ve also done some pretty amazing things, too.  From seeing my book (slowly) sell copy after copy, to watching my relationships with certain people grow or change, to doing some of the most comfort-zone-stretching things I’ve ever done…  It’s been incredible.

I’m really glad a year only has 365 days (with the exception of leap years), because I don’t think I could handle 2015 if it had even one more day!  SO READY FOR 2016!!!

But before that, I’d like to look over some of the things I’ve done this year.  (And I don’t care if you read this or skim it – it’s mostly for me, anyway.  Lol.)

January

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me at the beginning of 2015.  wish i could go back and tell myself a few things, namely to brace myself and shut up.

I think January was a pretty chill month for me.  I rang in the new year with a sick Katie and Grace Unplugged.  (The rest of the family went to a friend’s house and I stayed home with Katie, which I didn’t mind because I’m lame and enjoy being home alone.)

I kept my head down and studied for a few different tests, babysat kids twice a week, and read a few really good books.  (Speaking of books, here’s my Goodreads Year In Books if you’re interested!)

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right before we left.  (also before we were almost late because i got a flat tire.  and no, i didn’t cry over it.  why would you think that. *facepalm*)

Most importantly, my younger sister and I went to see Newsies with a group and it was FANTASTIC.

Notable blog posts: ‘in this moment, life is good’ and ‘2k15 reading challenge’ (which I didn’t end up completing – LOL!).

February

February brought a lot of the same – studying, reading, and nannying.

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random adorable picture of jenna (almost 2)

Early in the month, we had a “Courtship Conversations” conference/Q&A thing at our house.  Three couples got to share their courtship story and then answered questions from the audience (we had about fifty people over!).

On Valentine’s Day, we had some friends over for pizza and a movie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because duh).

Shortly after, my parents went on a two-night anniversary trip and left my siblings and I at home alone overnight for the very first time.  We ate junk food and stayed up way too late crying over Monk and it was beautiful.

We got hit with a snowstorm sometime in February and took in a family for a few days one week, then a few more days the next week.

Notable blog posts: ‘actively waiting.’

March

The most exciting thing that happened in March happened later in the month.  After taking an Ethics final, I officially became a Junior!  After like a day of celebrating, I started studying for my next test.  No rest for the weary.

We celebrated two birthdays as a family – my baby sister’s 2nd and my baby brother’s 15th.

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morgan and i before the event.

Oh, and I also went to an author event at a library with Morgan Huneke and sold a grand total of one book.  Yay!  XD

Notable blog posts: My official introduction to The Art of Letting Go (which I wrote because I had a lot of new followers or because I didn’t think I’d officially introduced it yet or because I wanted to divert attention from my newly-published novel… anyway, I was excited, so I wrote it).

April

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me, james, and hannah after the last performance.  so. much. fun.

April brought in a new experience for my brother and I – something we still think about a lot.  The college near us did Into the Woods and James and I (and my bff) were in the ten-piece orchestra.  We rehearsed with the cast a few times a week, and every night the week of the performances.

I also started reading The Ascendance Trilogy in April, and the first book, The False Prince, quickly became one of my favorite books of 2015.  (It was right in the middle of about three or four really stupidly lame books, so that made it even better.)

(I’m really glad I got a lot done in these first few months and no notable drama occurred (well, it did, but it happened slowly), because God knew the second half of 2015 would be really hard for me and my family.)

Notable blog posts: A fun interview with Hayden Wand after the release of her novel, Hidden Pearls.

May

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the kids i babysat (minus the one in the top right).  (and the shirt-matching was unintentional.  of course, my children will all match all the time.) (NOT.)

During the end of April and the beginning of May, I did one of my biggest babysitting jobs ever (rivaling the infamous Florida one in October).  I babysat four children under twelve for five days (overnight, too), while their parents were in Italy.  Seeing as I hadn’t stayed at home without my own parents until a few months before, I was justifiably nervous.  (And the parents were in ITALY.  AS IN PLANE-RIDE AWAY.)  We had fun, though, and I look back on those days with fondness.

I didn’t do a lot of school in May.  After my CollegePlus coach (who I still love dearly) quit early in the month (with no warning whatsoever), I wasn’t able to study almost at all.  LOL.  The school I did do, though, was the beginning of my first “official” college course – a fiction course from LSU (which I quit for a month and a half after I got a horrible grade on my first assignment, setting the pace for the rest of the course).

My dad was gone for about a week, so we did what we always do when he’s gone – watch a ton of girly chick flicks.  I watched Easy A and The Devil Wears Prada for the first time, cementing my love for Stanley Tucci.  (Gosh, I love that man.)

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ISN’T IT CUTE?!

I also wrote a lot during this month, mostly on The Art of Letting Go.

The most exciting thing that happened was that I cut my hair super-short for the first time since I was like ten.  It had gotten so long and I just started hating how long it was and how much of a hassle it was.  I wore it up all the time.  Finally, I was just like, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”  So I got it chopped off AND I IMMEDIATELY LOVED IT AND I STILL LOVE IT.

Notable blog posts: ‘5 things i learned while watching four kids for five days‘ and ‘just keepin’ it real.

June

June is when everything changed.  I got a new coach and started studying more, read more, wrote more, matured more, and stressed over church more.

My dad was one of the elders in our church, and everything regarding that started going downhill.  Without going into much detail, differences between the elders became harder to deal with and offenses occurred.  Nearly every Sunday, we came home and talked about the sermon.  Church consumed my family’s life – and not in a good way.  It became a drudgery and a drain, which isn’t what church should be.

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my sisters and i took my cousin on a girls-only shopping trip for the first time while we were together.  i think it’s going to have to be a tradition!

We spent a super-fun week early in June with my grandparents and cousins, and had a blast getting to know them better.  It was relaxing to be able to get away from all of the drama.  However, when it was over, we were sucked right back into it again.

With the announcement of gay marriage, I voiced my opinion and didn’t care what people said.  My opinion hasn’t really changed and I still believe that, yes, we live in a fallen world; but Who’s still on the throne?  (Recently, though, I’ve come to the realization that the Supreme Court really shouldn’t have had anything to do with people’s personal lives.  Why is it their business if two men or two women marry?  They need to be concerned with other things like the debt crisis and the shootings overseas and here in the States.  [end unintentional rant])

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still my favorite picture of me and hannah, even though my hair is defying gravity.  isn’t she pretty?!

During the last few weeks of June, my best friend left for two weeks, leaving me able to help plan a surprise party for her.  On the day of the party, we went out to eat and get dessert, then came back to “watch a movie.”  The surprise was nearly ruined by a friend we saw walking as we drove back to her house (long story), but she was totally surprised by the friends who were waiting back at her house.

Notable blog posts: The above post on gay marriage and my first book-related fangirly and ranty posts – my favorite and least favorite books of the first half of 2015.

July

I thought June was intense… and then July came.  Oh, boy.

More of the same happened – reading, writing, nannying.  I blogged more, too, which is something I’ve been wanting to do literally since I started blogging back in 2009.  I started sharing my opinion more, and writing about things that I couldn’t get out of my mind (see my Deep Thoughts tag).

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we sent this picture to my parents to let them know that we’d finally gotten there safely (albeit super late). (ISN’T MY BROTHER SUPER TALL?!)

My siblings and I took our first big trip by ourselves halfway through the month.  We drove all the way from our house in Georgia to Indianapolis, Indiana for WITAlive, a singles’ conference by Whatever It Takes Ministries.  (They did a marriage conference that radically changed my parents’ marriage – and our family’s lives – in 2014.)  We had such a good time, and learned so much.  I examined my relationship with God more closely than I had in a long time.

After going to WITAlive, I decided to become more real with people.  I didn’t want to hide behind a facade anymore.  I knew it never worked out – for myself or for people I observed around me.  I never insinuated that I was perfect (far from it), but I knew that I wasn’t being real with people, and that had to stop.  I’m pretty sure this became apparent on my blog, as well as in real life with my friends (especially with my church friends).

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basically what we did the entire weekend.  filter courtesy of instagram, which i got right after WITAlive.

Over the end of July and the beginning of August, Katie and I went to our first vacation by ourselves.  We organized it with a friend from NC, bought food, and made reservations at a campsite in SC.  The weather was perfect, and we had an amazing time doing whatever we wanted.  (We even ordered pizza the first night simply BECAUSE WE COULD.)

Notable blog posts: So. Many. Blog. Posts.  I ranted about Christian fiction, I wrote a follow-up post because I wasn’t done ranting, I talked about cussing in books, I wrote about finishing The Art of Letting Go, I wrote about the WITAlive conference and what it means to be “Open, Broken, and Free,” and I ranted (again) about writing – this time about ten things people shouldn’t say to writers.  (I told you I started writing more.  This is one of my proudest blog months.)

August

Oh, August.  Golly Pete.

For one, my normal babysitting job changed slightly, which was a little bittersweet for me.  I was able to finish up a few more courses, but focused mainly on the fiction course (which I still have a love/hate relationship with).  I read a lot of really good books in August – mostly rereads – and I started editing my novel (really re-writing, though).

It’s also notable to mention that, sometime before or during this month, one of my regular babysitting jobs dropped because our schedules didn’t correlate anymore.  I’ve missed it ever since.  : (

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shortly after we left our church, i read a book at starbucks for the the first time and it was all i ever dreamed it would be. the fact that God could give me happiness in such a dark time is just astounding to me.

Halfway through August, we decided that the church situation wasn’t working anymore.  August 16th was our last Sunday, and although we knew pretty much as soon as church started that we were going to leave, we didn’t tell anyone until the next day.  Honestly, we were all so heartbroken that it felt like someone had died.  We were relieved to be rid of the stress, but we knew we’d miss it.

Right around the same time, I discovered Dan and Phil, and Sleeping at Last (mainly through his song ‘Saturn,’ which, coincidentally [or not], just came on in my Amazon Music Library).  (Then I discovered this Captain America fanvid, which I still cry over regularly.)  Coping with the church stuff meant (besides the obvious prayer and regular conversations with my family) binge-watching Dan and Phil, random movies (and TV shows like Monk), studying a ton, and listening to a lot of music.  And basically doing whatever I could to get my mind off it.

Notable blog posts: ‘the beauty of life.

September

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look i’m covering up my ugly beach hair!  (jk my fingers were unintentionally in the way.)  (meh.)

My family needed a break from all of the drama (or an official end of the church drama and the beginning of our family’s new life), so we bumped our beach trip to the beginning of the month, instead of later, when we usually did it.  And it was relaxing and fulfilling and amazing and we all had such a good time.  I read five books in that week and it was beautiful.

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9/1/15. half intended, half coincidental, FULLY AWESOME.

September was also notable for me and my siblings because it was the month my we started reading the Harry Potter books.  A lot came out of this (good things and bad things), and it’s interesting to note that this happened right after we left our church.  (Although it’s not related at ALL, it’s almost a symbol of everything we were going through at that time – being more free in Christ and dwelling less on the things we can’t do as Christians and more on the things we get to do as Christians.)

Also, a friend introduced James to Twenty One Pilots, who introduced it to my dad, who introduced it to me, who introduced it to Jenna.  And now the four of us are hooked.  XD

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feelin’ 22.

My best friend started a relationship with her boyfriend, which changed a few things in our relationship.  Not bad things… just different.

We planned an awesome 22nd birthday for my sister Katie with some of our new friends and old friends, and it was fantastic.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened that month was the fact that most of my family left to go to vacations and conferences, leaving my dad, me, and two of my siblings home alone for a week (and then my dad left, leaving me in charge of my siblings).  Needless to say, we had a blast.  What happens when Ashley’s in charge… will probably never happen again because starting a movie at 1am after watching a stupid movie sounds great but doesn’t end well for anyone involved.

Notable blog posts: ‘on convictions (and harry potter).‘ (More like an essay than a blog post… nevertheless, I am proud of it.)

October

October was a slightly more chill month than the last previous months.  We visited a few churches, did some school, and mainly just tried to lay low.  No more drama, if we could help it.

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me and the three children i babysat.  we had SO much fun together (even though my smile looks totally fake).

Later that month, I went with my mom and dad to Florida, where they were going to help out at the next WIT marriage conference and I was going to babysit some of the counselors’ children.  I dropped them off near the airport, met one of my “charges,” and drove three hours to a house to meet the other two children.  Four days later, I drove three hours back, met my parents, and drove the seven-hour drive back to my house.  It was pretty insane.  And very adult.

Notable blog posts: My first book review

November

November was a little more stressful, but that’s due to school and other stuff, such as Mom and Dad’s new ministry.  We jokingly say that they traded one ministry for another, but it’s the truth.  Almost as soon as we left our church, they had couples coming to them for help with their marriage.  Soon they were meeting with people they didn’t even know.  (I think we’ve counted seventeen couples total.)  We’re doing a marriage study at our house every Friday night and it’s been going well!

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my siblings and i got to put up my grandparents’ christmas tree on thanksgiving day, and this is still one of my favorite pictures i’ve taken this year.

We’ve also really enjoyed seeing what our community of believers is doing, and have visited a lot of neat churches.  We’re content to just keep visiting, though, and don’t really feel the need to join one.

I also started becoming obsessed with Hamilton during this month, which was a good and a bad thing.  : P  No regrets!

Despite my best friend’s relationship status, I realized sometime this month (or during October or even earlier) that I didn’t feel the need to be in a relationship.  That was an incredible feeling for me because I’ve always struggled with that area of my life – feeling like I’m not complete without someone.  But I am!  At the WIT conference, I was reminded that I’m complete in Christ and I don’t need a boyfriend to fulfill me.  (This feeling drifted away a bit during the holidays, but it’s since returned even stronger and I’m so grateful that I’m finally satisfied in Christ.)

Notable blog posts: ‘currently,’ my thoughts on God’s Not Dead 2, my top five favorite Christian films (which is Important because I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while but have never been able to narrow down my list), and my thoughts on the Captain America: Civil War trailer (which is also Important, for obvious reasons).  (I also wrote about being thankful when it’s hard, and got a lot of very sweet encouraging comments, which made me even MORE thankful, so thank you!)

December

Ahh, yes.  Now we come to the end of the year.  From family drama to friend drama to normal holiday drama, this month has been insane.  My best friend broke up with her boyfriend (which eventually caused our first fight [which I totally started]), and a few other friendships are rocky.  (Speaking of, this is the first year I’ve ever had a fight with one of my friends, first time I ever felt genuine disgust over someone I know personally {nobody who reads this blog – don’t worry : )}, and one of the first times I’ve ever heard something awful said about me behind my back.  All within a few months.  So… yay for firsts and yay for this year and YAY FOR NEXT YEAR.)

Moving on to slightly happier things, earlier this month, I developed my first crush in a while, which was… interesting.  (And speaking of firsts, it was the first time I ever told anyone about who I was crushing on.)

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this is the picture i posted on instagram on my birthday.  because it was this baby’s birthday, too.

Also, I turned 21.  : )  Full disclosure (and for anyone who’s wondering), I tried champagne on my birthday (and disliked it), and my first drink at a bar (at my mom’s insistence) was sweet tea.  So… yeah.  Pretty good indication of how my “legal” life will go.  NO WORRIES THERE.  XD

I thought my friends had forgotten about my birthday or didn’t care because everybody was busy and couldn’t do anything with me, BUT LO AND BEHOLD, they had planned me a SURPRISE PARTY.  (I have the best friends ever, guys.)  It was book-themed, and all of the food were references to all of my fandoms, and everybody gave me books, and I had just THE BEST TIME.  I could write an entire post about it, but you probably don’t want to hear it.  : P

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ALL OF MY FRIENDS CAME AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

 

(I did tell all of my friends that I couldn’t have imagined that at my 21st birthday I’d be wearing skinny jeans and eating food mentioned in books like the Hunger Games trilogy and Anne of Green Gables and Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series… which is still weird to me, but mostly because it shows how much I’ve changed in the past few years and how far I’ve come since being that annoyingly works-based Christian I was even three years ago.  Incredible.)  (And I could write an entire post about that, too, but you probably don’t want to hear it, either.)

And then Christmas happened and I got many lovely things (including books and clothes) and gave many lovely things (including books and clothes), and my siblings found out we’re GOING TO DISNEY IN FEBRUARY HUZZAH (MAGIC POWERS).  This is exciting for obvious reasons PLUS the fact that I haven’t been since I was six, so yeah.  WAHOO.

Notable blog posts: my Christmastime Is Here blog series, a post about my birthday and reviewing my ‘21 before 21‘ list, and hello oh look oops I’m a Star Wars fan now.

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So… now that it’s December 31st and the year is finally over, I’m left thinking about how INSANELY QUICKLY this year went by, but also how insanely slowly it did, too.  I spent so much of this year stressing out about stuff (friendships, church, school), and not enough time being content with just living in the moment and seeing the beauty of life.

This year, I’ve become a little more observant.  I’ve always tried to think the best of people, and since that slipped me up earlier this year, I’ve tried to look at people more realistically.  Maybe it’s made me more cynical, too, but I think it’s changed me for the better.  I know that there’s more to people than what meets the eye, and that there’s more to people than they’ll ever tell you.  Everyone has secrets (and everyone has regrets).

I think next year I’d like to learn how to love people more, how to love life more, and, most importantly, how to love God more.  My relationship with Him has been really rocky this year, and I’d like to go back to my first love, now that a lot of the distractions are gone.  I feel like the beginning of 2016 will be a lot of rebuilding for me, especially where my relationship with God is concerned.  I’ve changed a lot over the past year, and I don’t want to lose sight of Him in the midst of all of the changes.  (I saw something on Tumblr that said, “2015 was my character development year which means 2016 is strictly action and story progression and i don’t know about you but i’m excited” and I feel like I relate to that a lot.)

Because of this, my verse for the year is one that has always been one of my favorites.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORDand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

I feel like, in the middle of everything that’s gone on in the past year, I’ve lost my love for Christ.  I want to regain it in the coming year.  : )

And that was my 2015.

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continuing the tradition of year-end bathroom selfies with pachelbel.  : )

happy birthday to moi.

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happy birthday to me… and this thing i’m holding.

Wellsies, looks like I’ve finally made it to another birthday.

WHEW.

Which birthday, you ask?  My twenty-first.  I guess it’s pretty special.  I mean, I can finally drink legally now, which I’ll probably take advantage of, like… once a year.  (I’ve tasted wine and beer before before and they’re both just… no.  I’m interested in trying champagne, though, which will happen tonight – YAY.)

I’ve done so much this year that I can hardly believe it was a YEAR ago that I made that Twenty One Before Twenty One list!!!

And, speaking of, let’s take a look at it and see how I did.  (I forgot to look through this or print it out to make sure I did the things.  Whoops.)

  • Ride a roller-coaster – LOL.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I didn’t get the opportunity to do it, either.
  • Go to Disney – Lol again.  We didn’t get to go, but I did drive by it twice (and I’ll get to that later).
  • Finish writing The Art of Letting Go (and immediately start editing it) – Check!  Hey, I actually did this!  I’m super proud of myself, so yay.  I’m almost done editing it, too (just starting chapter ten of eighteen), so that’s farther along that I thought I’d be.
  • Try to publish The Art of Letting Go… via the traditional route (aka with an agent and through a publishing house) – Haven’t started trying yet, but I’m getting there.  I’m researching, so…?
  • Start a third novel or finish Sneakers and Hot Fudge Sundaes – I’m gonna say that I did this one because I’ve started plotting my third novel in my mind and on a secret Pinterest board.  I can’t give any details out, but I’ll say that it’s gonna be good.  Hopefully.
  • Reach ninety credits in my degree (Senior Status!) – ALMOST!!!  I’m at 75 credits, but I’ll hopefully be at 81 by Christmas.  YAHO.
  • Do NaNo at least twice – LOL.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.
  • Go see a touring Broadway musical – Nope, but I did see a musical at Reinhardt the other day and it was fantastic.
  • Participate in a play – Nope.  My sister did, though, and I’ve got my sights set on auditions for another play next year.
  • Read sixty books – I’m at 59 for the whole year so far (starting from January), and I know I read a ton after my birthday last year, so that happened.
  • Attempt some fanfiction (Eva, you’ll have to help me on this one) – This one definitely happened.  I did one as a Christmas present last year, and I’ve got another on the way.
  • Learn a few really hard pieces on the piano – Nope.
  • Practice violin more – LOL.
  • Look Up more – I’m gonna give myself this one because I do feel like I put down my phone a lot (even though I got an iPhone for Christmas last year) and enjoyed life.  This year has been incredible, and I’ve tried not to miss out on it.  I’ve read a lot, written a lot, and thought a lot.
  • Attempt a fanvid – This one only happened in my mind.
  • Organize a dance – I don’t know what I was thinking with this one.
  • Write more film reviewsDoes my Top Five Christian Movies post count?  I think it does.  I’ll check this one off.
  • Play in more weddings – Nope.  I haven’t played in a single wedding since last November, but that’s okay.
  • Read the Bible more – I got on a schedule of reading my Bible every night and it’s really helped me focus on God more.  Even if I lose track of Him during the day, it’s good to bring everything back to Him at night.
  • Pray more – I’m not going to check this one off because I think I could always do better with this.  I don’t pray as much as I’d like, and I know my relationship with the Lord suffers because of it.
  • Learn to love God more – Same with this one.  No matter how much I do and how much I fall in love with Jesus, I feel like I can always do more.  The trials I’ve been through this year have brought me to my knees more than I can count and I’m grateful that the Lord has brought me closer to Him through all of it.

7/21 isn’t great, but it’s not too shabby either, considering half of these were put on here on a whim.  XD  (But I did discover Twenty One Pilots, so that needs to be a thing.)

However, if I’d known half the things I would do this past year when I wrote this list, I would’ve given myself a lot more slack (which is why I’m not doing a Twenty-Two Before Twenty-Two list).  Because I did a lot.

For starters, I traveled with my three siblings to Indianapolis for a conference.  ALL BY OURSELVES.  NO PARENTS.  It was a beautiful thing.  (Of course, I only drove like five hours total because the hour I was able to drive on the way back was through the Tennessee mountains with eighteen-wheelers LITERALLY DRIVING ME NUTS.)  (“Driving.”  Lol.  Pun intended.)

Also, I took an entire road trip by myself.  By myself, people.  Do I need to emphasize that?  I will.  BY MYSELF.  I drove almost eight hours round-trip on roads I wasn’t comfortable with in a state I’d hardly ever been to before to go babysit kids I’d never met before for an entire weekend, all with a 12-year-old girl I’d never met before (who was asleep the entire way back).  That’s probably the most insane thing I’ve done this year.  (And I drove past Disney twice.  Talk about battle of wills.)

Plus, I went camping with my sister and a friend all by ourselves.  For an entire weekend!  And our family left our church, which was super hard, but I won’t get into that now.

Anyway, all that to say… I’ve had a busy year, full of adulting like crazy.  (For example, I just rescheduled a test from LSU and got a proctor lined up, aaaaand I just sent heart-eyed emojis to my sister in reply to a picture of her full gas tank gauge.  Can’t really get more adult than that (unless I have kids which, LOL, ain’t gonna happen for a while).)

So, I’m entering the next year of my life cautiously optimistic.  I have no idea what’s gonna happen (I know that we’re gonna build a house, though, which will be an adventure, and that we have to find a church, which will also be an adventure…), but I’m super excited.

And you all get to experience it, too, because I’ll be blogging along the way.

TO ANOTHER YEAR OF AWESOME!

twenty-one before twenty-one

Today, I turn twenty years old.

(Insert obligatory WUUUUUUUUUT.)

I’ve loved being a teenager, but I feel totally ready to be almost an adult.  I say almost because I’ve been thinking about this age a lot, and I’ve decided that twenty years of age is going to feel a little weird.  After all, you’re no longer in your teen years, but not quite an adult yet because you haven’t actually turned “legal” yet.

All that said, I want to make my twentieth year the best one yet.  I want to do things – meaningful things, things with eternal value.  And what better way to do that than to make a list?  (I love lists.)  So here we go.

Twenty-One Before Twenty-One (in no particular order)

  • Ride a roller-coaster
  • Go to Disney
  • Finish writing The Art of Letting Go (and immediately start editing it)
  • Try to publish The Art of Letting Go… via the traditional route (aka with an agent and through a publishing house)
  • Start a third novel or finish Sneakers and Hot Fudge Sundaes
  • Reach ninety credits in my degree (Senior Status!)
  • Do NaNo at least twice
  • Go see a touring Broadway musical
  • Participate in a play
  • Read sixty books
  • Attempt some fanfiction (Eva, you’ll have to help me on this one)
  • Learn a few really hard pieces on the piano
  • Practice violin more
  • Look Up more
  • Attempt a fanvid
  • Organize a dance
  • Write more film reviews
  • Play in more weddings
  • Read the Bible more
  • Pray more
  • Learn to love God more

There we go!  Twenty-one things to do before I turn twenty-one.  I’ll post the list again on or around my twenty-first birthday and we’ll see how much I got done!