on body image.

I was never a clothes shopper. It’s true – ask anyone who knows me.

(I was never a shopper, period, but I did buy books. A backbreaking amount of books, as I learned after moving them all to our new house. #noragrets)

Growing up, I usually just wore whatever my mom got me for Christmas or my birthday. I didn’t have many new clothes, and I couldn’t care less.

In this inability to care less, my appearance suffered. My go-to outfit in my teen years was a t-shirt and jeans, with a skirt if we were going to church. Before our Skirts Phase, that is. Aka The Dark Days. Then, it was t-shirts and skirts. Denim skirts.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to look put-together – I did. It also wasn’t that I didn’t have many clothes to wear – I did. It was just that… I didn’t care.

For a long time, I was uncomfortable in my skin. For most of my teen years, I had an undiagnosed medical issue that caused weight gain. I didn’t know why I didn’t look good in certain things anymore, and, more than anything else, I wanted to cover up. Plus, it’s not like I had anyone to impress. (Moving two states away right when I was supposed to start liking guys made sure of that.)

It was only recently that I started buying clothes that I wanted to wear, with money that I’d earned.

Looking back, the only discernible thing that had changed was my outlook. I stopped viewing my body as an enemy or something that I shouldn’t put too much pride in. God gave me this body, dang it, and I should be happy with it – proud of it, even!

I didn’t start losing weight until I realized this, and accepted my body for what it was – mine.

If you’re struggling with what you look like, please know that it’s okay. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there, sometimes.

Today, I was there. I needed clothes for a temp job next month, and I felt all the lies I’d believed about myself come screaming back as I looked at myself in the mirror. But I didn’t let the thoughts take root. Instead, I just left. In another store, I put on a cute outfit and danced to Katy Perry and Ben Rector in the changing room. Needless to say, the thoughts were gone. (Totally because I knew I looked super cute.)

It’s okay to hate your body sometimes. Just please… don’t stay there.

It’s okay to love your body. It’s okay to put clothes on it that are inspired by a style that is uniquely yours. It’s okay to be proud of it. It’s okay to love it. And if you don’t, you’ll get there someday.

I’ve heard that the way to get over a crush is to focus on one of their flaws, until you can’t see why you liked them in the first place. Today, I challenge you to do the opposite. I challenge you to find something about your body that you love. Maybe it’s your nose or your legs or your elbows. It can be big or small – just something that either you love or something that others have complimented. Tomorrow or next week or next month, find something else. Keep doing this until your list reaches from the top of your pretty head to the bottom of your adorable heels (yeah, the same heels that are encircled in yucky dead skin sometimes). Whenever you look in the mirror, repeat these things over and over again. Soon, your perspective will change. If not, keep working at it. And hopefully, you’ll soon realize that you’re a beautiful, unforgettable, unique person made in God’s image, for His glory, because He delights in you.

when internet friends become real.

I’ve never believed that internet friends aren’t “real friends,” simply because I’ve loved all of the people I met on the internet (okay, maybe not all – but certainly most of them!), so much that I often wish I could meet them.

A week ago, it finally happened.

The Elf (Heather) has been following my blog ever since her sister, Jane, introduced it to her several years ago. Neither know exactly how long they’ve followed my blog (Heather says Jane’s been reading it for “ages”), but it’s been a while. Heather didn’t really start reading it until she found and resonated with my first Harry Potter post (our experiences with this franchise are ridiculously similar), and then, according to her, found out that I “wrote fantastic rants.”

Heather, for whatever reason, started reading my blog and commenting a lot, and I grew to really enjoy hearing from my elven friend, whoever she was (we didn’t exchange names until later). I soon found out that she was from Australia, so obviously we never thought we’d be able to meet, although we both wished we could. Fast forward to a few months ago, when she messaged me on Facebook and told me she and her sister would be in the States for a while, specifically about an hour away from where I live, and wondered if I’d like to get together. To which I said something along the lines of, “HECK YES!”

A week ago, we finally met. We hugged, then got in the car and took a picture to send to our relatives, assuring them that we were all real and not random middle-aged men!

FullSizeRender.jpg

{heavily photoshopped bc the girls were in shadows and we were too focused on talking to get another one}


My sister and I drove them to a famous fast food restaurant and sat for at least two hours talking, eating, and laughing together. And it. was. a. BLAST. I’ve rarely met people whom I’ve connected with so closely and so quickly, and finally listening to Heather and Jane’s story after wanting to for so. dang. long. was amazing, to say the least!

In those short hours, we talked about homeschooling and our (uncannily similar) church experiences, conservatism and feminism, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, courtship vs dating, and marriage and relationships. I would’ve loved to pack up my bags and roam the US with them for the remainder of their stay (especially their next stop, which is one of my favorite spots in the entire country), talking with them more about all of these things, but we’ll have to limit it to all of the social media platforms we connected on within five minutes of leaving one another. (Provided the elders approve.) (We made so many inside jokes, guys, and I am here. for. it.)

In summary, my sister and I had an amazing time meeting Heather and Jane, and can’t wait to see where our friendship goes! Maybe a trip to Australia is in order? We’ll see!

{ps: hey reader. yes, you. hello there. if you’d like to meet me too (and aren’t a 65-year-old man), let me know and i’ll see what i can do. this meeting has gotten me addicted to meeting people i’ve connected with online and i want to do it again!}

first royalties check? CHECK.

Y’ALL.

image-1

So CreateSpace (Amazon’s company that published my novel) has a $100 threshold on royalties.  Once you’ve hit that, they send you a check.

After two years and three months… my little baby finally hit that threshold.

And, dang, do I feel accomplished.

Let’s ignore the fact that it took that long, the fact that it’s “only” $100, and the fact that it’s “just” a self-published novel.  Because, dang it, I need something to be proud of.

(I’m finishing college less than a month and I’ll celebrate that, too.)

But here’s my dilemma – I have no idea what to spend it on!

I want to be able to look back – when I’m a famous author giving interviews alongside other famous authors – and be able to proudly say what I spent my very first royalty check on.  But I have no earthly clue what that should be!

Current ideas are: a trip somewhere (hello, Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway), a new laptop charger cord + battery (necessities, plus that’s writing-related, right?), or invest it/put it in savings for later.  The first is exciting but expensive, and the last two are boring but necessary.  XD

HELP A SISTA OUT.

(Also, I finally got on The Book of Faces.  Friend me!)

“there’s a conference for that.” | wit reunion 2017.

IMG_5888.JPG
Blah.  I just spent the last week with some of my best friends (okay, they’re basically family) and I. have. no. words.

You know when someone touches you so much that you can’t help but want to be around them all the time?  Constantly getting their opinion on random things, laughing with them over stupidly hilarious inside jokes, (side-)hugging & leaning & just enjoying their company?

IMG_5771.JPG

That was literally all of the fifty-plus people I shared a cabin with this past weekend.  Together, we watched movies, sang Broadway, fangirled/fanboyed over literally anything, played games ’til 3am, cried, prayed, walked, and communed.  All on four or five (or less) hours of sleep.  It. was. amazing.

I’m still reeling from all of the memories I made.  I’ll never look at certain things the same way again.  I’ll never look at the same people the same way again.

I think the thing that truly made this weekend was the fact that we all already know each other on such a deep level.  Because of WITAlive, we all know each other’s deepest struggles and weaknesses and challenges.  However, this past weekend, we got to discover the more surface-level things while still being mindful of the deep stuff.  Bonding with each other (partially thanks to twenty-second hugs) over these things made us closer than most of the friends I have outside of this small, tight-knit circle.

IMG_5875.JPG

If you haven’t experienced the wonder that is WITAlive… what’re you waiting for?

year in review: 2016.

{this post is finally done.  i feel like it’s taken me forever to write it, and it’ll take you almost as long to read it.  so i’m sorry, and if you read the whole thing… bless you.}

Can we agree that 2016 was just an all-around bad year?  I mean this for the world in general.  So many deaths and shootings – not to mention the atrocity that was the US presidential election.

{Side Tangent: In a previous draft, I said something about Carrie Fisher being okay.  Well, that’s not true anymore (for Debbie Reynolds, either) and I don’t know how to process that.  I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the reason there have been so many celebrity deaths this year is because God’s reminding us that our time here is so limited.  When we were young, we felt so infinite.  The days were long and death seemed so far away.  But that’s not true.  I’m not going to remind you to spend your time wisely because I know you’ve heard it before.  So just… cherish it.  And know that we’re all a little less infinite than we think we are.}

My personal year wasn’t quite as bad, and I think it ends up fitting with my year-long prayer, taken from this song:

“God, it has been quite a year-
I’ve lived a little bit and I’ve died a little more.
I know that I’ve asked it before,
But please let the scale tip here in my favor.”

I think it has.  This year has been full of disappointments and things that stress me out (pretty sure I had a full-on anxiety attack back in July and let. me. tell. you – that was not fun).  Even so, this year has been full of really good firsts – first crush I’ve told people about, first trip to Universal (and two trips to Disney whattheevenheck), first girls-only trip…  It’s been good.  Though I’ve had my fair share of bad things, I know I’m better for it.  While I wish some things hadn’t happened, I’m glad they shaped me into the person I am today.

Regardless of how terrible the year has been, at least we made it this far, right?

As always, this yearly review is mostly just for me to look back on throughout the year, and you can read the whole thing or just skim it.  (And, if you’re interested, here are the links to the other years I’ve done: 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015.)

January

IMG_7468.JPG

my siblings and i // first day at disney

February

  • Studied a heck ton, nannied a heck ton
  • Younger siblings went to a retreat, so I had a special time with my older sister and my parents, watching movies that they’re not allowed to watch yet and talking about Stuff.
  • Hosted a single-girls Valentine’s Day party (where we ate cookies and watched Julie & Julia) and chaperoned (from afar) as my sister got roses from a guy.
  • Discovered About Time – aka one of my favorite movies ever.
  • Went to Disney World for the first time in 15 years with the fam
  • Met the Taylors
  • Studied: American Lit CLEP (1/16-2/16) // Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: More Happy Than NotThe Help, and Me Before You
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my thoughts during a Starbucks study session and my unplanned Valentine’s Day series – twelve ships I ship, a mushy snippet from my novel, and my thoughts on love

March

  • Again, studied and nannied a heck ton
  • Bought Jordan Taylor’s album (because I felt more connected after meeting him, duh)
  • Rediscovered Sherlock (long story)
  • Freaked out about all of the Mother’s Day posts on Instagram, only to discover that it was just Mother’s Day in the UK.  (However, since I was out of the house, I bought flowers and surprised my mom with them.  I’ll definitely be doing that again this year.)
  • BECAME A SENIOR
  • Ups and downs with my sleeping habits (definitely something I’m going to fix next year)
  • Discovered Downton Abbey and Mission Impossible
  • Watched the livestream of Daddy Long Legs, one of my favorite musicals
  • Uploaded first video to YouTube (you’ll have to hunt it down bc I’m not leaving the link here LOL)
  • In charge while Mom & Dad went to a marriage conference for a week (during which I watched too much Downton Abbey and stayed up too late)
  • Studied: Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: The Boxcar ChildrenFar from the Madding Crowd, Frindle, A Thief in the Theater, Red Rising, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikryand The Bronte Plot
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my big post about my thoughts on Harry Potter, my “flatmates” story, my thoughts about romanticizing the past, and my 5-years-in-the-making blog post, “movies i don’t like.

April

  • Watched the High School Musical movies with a friend
  • Went to the first wedding of the year (and first since 2014, I think)
  • Started watching more movies by myself (bc I’m tired of waiting on my siblings and bc I have a brother whose opinion we have to consider) (movies include 17 Again, 13 Going On 30, and Napoleon Dynamite)
  • Literally have a note in my journal that says “2pm-3pm – Question Everything.”  Basically, yeah.
  • Discovered The Great British Baking Show.  HECK YES.
  • Had coffee with a friend and talked about her recent engagement, told her I didn’t have any guys in my life and wasn’t going to be interested in any until I graduated, Discovered A Guy that night (again, long story)
  • Officially met one of my new best friends
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: Roomies, All the Bright Places, After Youand Golden Son
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my uber- nostalgic “favorite childhood movies” post, the snippet from my novel, The Boy and the Theatre Girl, and my ranty defense of CollegePlus students
IMG_4056.JPG

me & the twins

May

  • Submersed myself in blog posts about singleness and contentment due to aforementioned guy
  • Changed DSST after studying for a month (a first and a last)
  • Texted aforementioned best friend’s younger sister (with whom I’ll become good friends but won’t meet ’til September)
  • Learned how to cheat the system with college coursework – aka befriend the prof and say yes when she lets you submit part of your novel instead of several different assignments.  FISTPUMP.
  • Started a tough time with one of my best friends (drama goes down)
  • Dad’s intern arrived for the summer
  • Started officially going to a church
  • Discovered Friends and Taylor Swift (entire discography instead of just the ones on the radio)
  • Made a summer bucket list for the first time
  • Enrolled in Thomas Edison State University
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16)
  • Read: Golden Son, The Raven Boys, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (which I loved enough to review on my blog as well)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my reasoning behind taking off my purity ring (which got so much more feedback than I ever expected ohmygosh), my review of the gloriousness that was Captain America: Civil War, and my addition to the flame war behind that random dude’s “open letter to Rey” (which by the way, lemme say again, ugh)

June

  • Younger sister graduated from high school and we have a pretty awesome dance party
  • Taught myself how to play ukulele
  • Started going to Starbucks with my sister during the second hour of church (since there isn’t a Sunday morning class for college/career young adults)
  • Discovered Waitress during the Tony Awards (Hamilton won the other 11!)
  • Surprised with a weekend visit from one of my best childhood friends
  • Gave in to the stereotypes and got a Snapchat
  • Broke ground on our new house
  • Drove back and forth with my sister instead of staying at our grandparents’ for a whole week like we usually do (a first)
  • Had two entire days to myself, in which I did school, watched movies, cooked lunch for myself, and blasted Imagine Dragons
  • GOT A FRIKKIN LETTER FROM LIN MANUEL MIRANDA
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16)
  • Read: The Rosie Project, Extraordinary, and The Rosie Effect
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about tøp after being a fan for a year and a short story I wrote for school (“my best friend’s brother”)
IMG_3904.JPG

our awesome car on the way back from WIT

July

  • Studied and wrote like crazy
  • WITAlive again, this time without my older sister and with a car of friends (and I was a co-leader at a table this year!)
  • Wrote some poetry for the first time (including a sonnet based on Gilmore Girls)
  • Watched my “little” brother star in The Pied Piper of Hamlin at a local theatre
  • Had a movie date with a friend every two weeks or so (during the entire summer)
  • Witnessed the beginning of my sister’s relationship with my dad’s intern
  • Finally started accepting and actually loving my body, even its flaws… and it wasn’t until then that I started losing weight
  • Forgot to journal for two weeks, so I completely don’t know what happened except I know a lot of studying was done and a lot of books were read.
  • Studied: BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16) // BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: Salt to the Sea, The Vintage Book of Contemporary Poetry, The Art of the Personal Essay, Imaginative Writing, The Marriage and Family Experience, If You Find This Letter (which became my favorite non-fic book by the fifth page and I literally bought four copies to give to friends for Christmas – seriously, READ. IT.), and Everything, Everything
  • Favorite Blog Posts: another post about love & waiting & purity & stuff, my first post on writing advice (“what do do when {you think} your writing sucks”), and another snippet from The Boy and the Theatre Girl

August

  • Dad caved and finally got Netflix for us – YESSSSS
  • Started reading classics for my lit course and developed a deeper appreciation for classics
  • Went book shopping one Saturday with my sister (to two bookstores) and then had a fries taste-test – a day that will be remembered with fondness in both our hearts
  • Took my “little” bro to his first co-op and greatly enjoyed getting stuff done so early in the day (although I didn’t enjoy getting up so early)
  • Hosted a surprise sleepover for my friend (my first sleepover since I was six)
  • Started meeting new friends at our new church
  • Figured out the situation that caused the anxiety attack back in July (something I highly recommend – figure stuff out, guys; save yourself the stress; even if you do. not. want. to, it’ll be so much better in the long run, I promise)
  • Repaired more friendships – YAY
  • Had some bro time with my “little” brother while our sisters went to a camp for a week (we watched movies without them #oops)
  • The Furies happened (and we continue to talk about feminism and movies and relationships and generally just kick butt in all areas of life and I’m so happy to have such a close-knit friend group like this)
  • Blew through so many classics in such a short period of time – such a good feeling
  • Volunteered to play in an orchestra concert… the day before
  • Shared my testimony for the first time in a class at church
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: The Coquette, Hope Leslie, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Scarlet Letter, Benito Cereno, The Outsiders, Life in the Iron-Mills, The Problem With Forever, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Washington Square (DANG THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about Stanley Tucci, a peek into my life, and some rambling thoughts about Friends and the validity of your opinion.

September

  • Started the month out with my car breaking down.  Yay.
  • Nannied three days in a row – including a 9am-11pm day (which was my favorite day of the three because I took the kids to see Pete’s Dragon with my sister and then put them to bed early and watched movies ’til their parents got back)
  • Started watching Stranger Things with my sister… at 11pm at night… all by ourselves…  (protip: not a good idea)  (still, we finished the show within a week)
  • Hosted some friends for a weekend and had an absolute BLAST
  • Saw a friend star in You Can’t Take It With You
  • Went shopping with some girlfriends and actually bought something.  And not just anything.  A DRESS.  I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
  • Got baptized : )
  • Started practicing music with friends for two weddings (and started calling ourselves The Last Page)
  • Introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings (which they loved, obviously)
  • Cut my hair super dang short (and loved it)
  • GOT A NEW PHONE HECK YES
  • Stopped journaling (haha whoops)
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16) // Marketing Communications TCEP (9/16)
  • Read: Ethan Frome, My Ántonia, Marketing Communications, Absalom Absalom, Pale Fire, and Writing in the Social Sciences.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: blogged the results of my summer bucket list, talked about bad boyz (even though my opinion on Jess Mariano has changed so much because he turned out to be the best guy for Rory), continued to ramble about love & feelings & stuff, and rambled about life in general (which y’all liked so I started doing it more)
IMG_4369.JPG

failing at a jumping pic with ‘the last page’

October

  • Started a course on theatre which is just *heart eyes emoji*
  • Started planning my very first girls-only trip with The Furies
  • Gilmore-bounded with my frens (which is honestly still one of my favorite events of the entire year)
  • Introduced my other siblings to Stranger Things
  • Lost enough weight to fit loosely into a dress that didn’t fit me a month before *sunglasses emoji*
  • Played in two weddings with The Last Page (twas lit)
  • Had an impromptu brunch with people who came in for aforementioned wedding and hosted almost twenty-five people
  • Deepened friendships and fell in love with people in general
  • Started planning a watch party with friends for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (obviously including soda and Chinese food and poptarts and all kinds of junk food)
  • Scott Gordon Patterson (Luke from Gilmore Girls) liked our Gilmore-bound picture (!)
  • Did Halloween for the first time in over a decade (thank you, younger adopted siblings)
  • Again, studied and read like crazy
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: Writing in the Social Sciences, The Strangeness of Beauty, and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirled over Stranger Things, made a list of songs that make me happy, and rambled about life again

November

  • Studied like crazy – including writing three plays (!!!)
  • Talked to dozens upon dozens of people about the presidential election
  • Voted in the presidential election for the first time (but not my first time voting)
  • Read books on top of my car overlooking the mountains (heck yes I did)
  • Visited a friend at his college with my sisters and another friend and talked about hard stuff for over four hours (“It’s rough all over“)
  • Bashed around Charleston with mah girls
  • Visited a friend for a week, in which I stayed at their house and basically became a member of their family
  • Went to a movie theater and watched a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
  • Went to Disney and Harry Potter World at Universal – and had an absolute blast
  • (Charleston, becoming a member of another family for a week, Hamlet, and Disney/Universal all happened in the same twelve days and it. was. magical)
  • Had the Gilmore Girls watch party with my frens
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Cherry Orchard, Anything But Typicaland Hamlet.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: expressed my thoughts about the election, converted a play I wrote into a short story (and y’all loved it, which just makes my year), and offended some people after writing about courtship (lolz whoops)

December

  • Finished my schoolwork the day before my birthday – HUZZAH, AN ACTUAL CHRISTMAS BREAK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS!!!
  • Turned 22
  • Watched Return of the King with friends for my birthday
  • Basically just chilled for the entire month.  Read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies and TV shows, but mainly just lived.  I made cookies and brownies with my baby siblings twice, and cleaned the kitchen and my room a lot.  It was really fun to just relax and live life without the pressure of schoolwork looming over my head.
  • Went to a young adults Christmas party at our new church and had such a great time
  • Realized that my blog turned seven – w h o a
  • Celebrated Christmas four times – with each of my parents’ families, my family, and an extended family Christmas (and had my sister’s boyfriend do Christmas with us, so that was An Experience)
  • Went to my grandparents’ house for an extended weekend before New Years and partied hard with my cousins and aunt & uncle (who talked with my siblings and I about stuff for hours upon hours, which was a blessing)
  • Rang in the new year with friends and a headache
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events #1), If You Find This Letter (re-read bc I bought four copies for friends and wrote in them like my friend did for me), and Crosstalk
  • Favorite Blog Posts: hosted a Christmas movie marathon because I love movies and posted some Stucky fanfiction (part one / part two) that I wrote a few years ago

    christmasfam2016.jpg

    le fam (+ sister’s boyfriend) at church on christmas day


Whew.

Honestly, it always blows my mind whenever I write these posts and look back at all of the amazing things I did.  (And hOW DANG LONG IT TAKES ME OH MY GOSH.  This one took me several sittings over several days – and I know I didn’t over everything.)

Anyway, I’m always so blown away with what I’ve been able to do in a year.  Even though the year was ridiculously crazy at times, I wouldn’t trade any of the craziness for the world.  Even though the year was rough, it still had some amazing experiences for me.  I invested in friendships more than I ever have before (including at three people who are 5-8 years younger than me), I’ve learned more about relationships (the good and the bad), and I’ve learned to be authentic, to be honest, to give second chances, to know when to stop pouring myself into toxic relationships, to let go of grudges, and, obviously, I’ve learned how incredibly far I have to go.  I know I won’t ever get there, but it’s nice to look back on a year and know that I’m a better person than the selfish idiot who wrote last year’s Year in Review post.

2017 is going to be incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to see where God leads me!  My word of the year is “excelsior,” and I explained why on my Instagram, so I’ll just link to that and keep this from getting any longer!

Can’t wait to see where God has me at this time next year!

IMG_1960.JPG

continuing the tradition of taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror on new years day even tho i didn’t feel like putting on makeup or doing anything to my hair or fixing my christmas nails but i won’t apologize bc this is how i look kthxbye

travel | charleston.

(((warning: i haven’t done a travel post in a while (like, literally, the last time i remember posting about trips i’ve taken and included tons of pictures was a vacation from like two years ago – WHOA), so i’ve kind of forgotten how to “do” one.  hence, lots of pictures and rambling follows.  proceed at your own risk.)))

IMG_4320.JPG

low quality picture, high quality friends.  this is us a month before the trip, fancied up for a wedding.

A few months ago, my amazingly poised and classy friends and I (simultaneously the baby of the group and the infinitely less classy one) decided to go to Charleston for a weekend. Katrina, the Monica of the group had an Airbnb booked about a week after we threw the idea out there, and we started making official plans soon after.  A few weeks after that, Kat asked if I wanted to just ride home to Florida with her after our weekend, since my siblings and I had planned to visit them the following weekend anyway. My weekend trip quickly turned into a ten day trip. Needless to say, I was excited.

On the way to Charleston, we stopped off at a college near me so that Kat could check it out.  While she was in a meeting, I read a book under a tree and people-watched, feeling a lot like Rory Gilmore in that one episode.  We had a long – long – talk with a friend who went there, and ended up not getting to Charleston ’til about 10pm. (Rachel, who met us there, had gotten there at a more decent hour and scoped the area for us.  What a pal.)

Coming from a very homeschooled family where every trip has to have some kind of educational value, my last trip to Charleston (literally about ten years ago) involved an abundance of historical sites and no shopping whatsoever.  That said, the girls’ plan to “just shop a little and maybe find Rainbow Row and that pineapple fountain and do a coffee shop hop” sounded like bliss – and so incredibly foreign.  (I’m still so homeschooled, even though I’ll be finishing college in the spring.  W h y.)

IMG_1080.JPG

we found a brick wall.  pictures were necessary.

img_1085

so many pictures were necessary.

LIMG_1089.JPGiterally half of the first day was just spent exploring – and wishing we were rich enough to afford one of the houses.  I was obsessed with the doors that led to the porches and the cobblestones.  There was this one house with an assortment of pumpkins all scattered on the porch steps.  It looked so beautiful.  I know pumpkins are relatively cheap, but I want a fancy house to put them on.

We walked through a cemetery, which was the only historical/learning thing we did.  (PRAISE.) However, Kat and I geeked out over John Rutledge’s grave (and an Alexis de Tocqueville mention on the plaque), so I think that qualifies – and cements how crazily obsessed with history we both are.

We spent the rest of the morning walking around, ducking into random bakery/coffee shops, and taking entirely too many pictures.  Again, it was so chill, and my little heart enjoyed it so much.  The closest I got to going to an actual historical site was taking a picture of Fort Sumter across the water.

img_1177

I also took way too many pictures of food.  I have about three dozen pictures of half & half being poured into my coffee from the last day we were there because I’m obsessed with how it slowly mixes itself in and swirls around.  (Rachel did an entire blog post solely about our food, so click here if you’d like to read that – and then follow her because she’s amazing.)  The above is the “Homemade Greek Lemon Chicken Soup” from Taziki’s, the first place where we ate lunch the first day (and it was phenomenal, by the way).

After lunch, we walked around King Street a little more, then watched people protest Trump’s presidency for about two seconds before we ducked into a hat store to get away from it.  We ended up talking about it for like fifteen minutes with a twenty-something guy who worked there.  It was enlightening and super encouraging.  Then, we ducked into Anthropologie and we all decided that we’d like to live there.  (I swear one day I’ll have enough money to buy a fancy house with a porch to put pumpkins on and a cute Anthropologie outfit to wear while doing it.)

We walked around a lot (and got super tired), we sat in a little bar inside a hotel and listened to a man play piano.  I ordered a Shirley Temple, Rachel got creme brulee, and Kat got a fancy cocktail that I tried and liked.  Although it was only afternoon, we started thinking our 9:45 reservation at a fancy restaurant (the only open one when we’d booked it the night before) wasn’t such a good idea.  Kat called and got it changed to a much earlier time, and we slowly made our way back to the parking garage where our car was parked. We ended up changing in the car.  (Cross THAT off my bucket list!)

IMG_1199.JPG

look at how hard we slayed.  #womanUP.

We ate at Magnolias, and it was fabulous.  As per the usual, we talked about dating and relationships and how we’re all so glad we’re single because we didn’t have to clear the Charleston trip with anyone (except our parents).  That was basically the theme of the weekend – appreciating our singleness.  I’ve been around too many girls who pine after guys (and I’ve definitely been that girl too many times), so it was so great to spend time with girls who not only enjoy being single, but embrace it!  Love these two.  ❤

That night, we thought about crashing a wedding before deciding against it, going back to our little apartment, and watching The Nanny Diaries.  SO GOOD. I’ve seen it about five times, but it just gets better every time.  I love introducing it to people, especially fans of Chris Evans.  We started it at the exact same time our earlier reservation was, and were so happy to be in our pjs, in bed, watching a movie, instead of wearing pinchy shoes and just starting dinner.

The next morning, we were in Charleston by mid-morning.  It started raining right when we got there, and we ended up turning around and heading back to where we’d parked Kat’s car to get umbrellas out of her car.  I took pictures of the rain on the window (because I’m also obsessed with rain on windows).

IMG_1249.JPG

We realized we’d hit everything we wanted to see the day before – King Street, the pineapple fountain, and Rainbow Row (which we didn’t even know we’d seen ’til we drove by there again and said “Hey, didn’t we take pictures of that yesterday?”).  Since it was raining and since we had no further plans, the girls got biscuits at a cute hole-in-the-wall place, and then we parked ourselves at a super hipster coffee shop.  (I loved the inside and took a lot of pictures, but the coffee ended up being kind of gross, so I won’t post them.)  For the next, like, three hours, we talked about our five-year plans.  It was amazing. (And it also made me feel super young because in five years I’ll only be a year or two older than they are now.  I mean it when I say I’m the baby of our little trio.)

IMG_1295.JPGI’m gonna brag on these girls a little more.

Some girls would include marriage in their future plans, but not these two.

Now, obviously we all had something akin to marriage on our five-year plans (which we actually wrote down and are going to hold each other to, BLESS THESE WOMEN).  But these girls aren’t married to the idea of marriage (heh…heh…).  They know it’s not guaranteed, and that really blesses me because I know too many girls who have their hearts set on marriage, and are so depressed when it doesn’t happen when they want it to.

These girls are pursuing other things – master’s degrees and good jobs and traveling and moving out and hobbies.  It’s so refreshing to be around like-minded girls who are pursuing the same goals and I love them very much.

 

 

Anyway, back to food.

IMG_1298.JPG

i’ve been obsessed with bread ever since going gluten-free.  figures.

We found this little house-turned-restaurant and ducked in literally only because it was warm, but it was so cute on the inside that we were really happy we did.  (Not to mention the fact that the food was amazing.)  And we sat and talked about being single some more.

If you think the only thing we did was eat and drink coffee and talk about being single… yeah, basically, that’s what we did.  But it’s okay because we walked miles and worked all the food and coffee off – and the conversation was SO INCREDIBLY GOOD.  And single people talk about being single and relationships and stuff.  #getoverit

Then we jammed out in the car to Hamilton – obviously – and took one last picture.

IMG_1323.JPG

cold and wet and happy and sad.

All in all, I think we’d all count the trip a massive success.  Even though it rained – which we didn’t plan on – and even though we changed some of our plans as we made them – like that reservation, which wasn’t even a good idea in the first place (honestly, who goes to dinner at 9:45?  only people who are actually fancy, unlike us absolute fakers)… we still really enjoyed ourselves.  It was my first official “girls weekend,” and my first trip without any siblings (I missed them but HALLELUJAH), and I think it set a pretty high bar for the next one.  Which will happen sometime soon.  We’re already planning it.

Anyway, then I went to Kat’s house for a week and then my siblings came down and we went to Disney and Universal.

But that’s another post for another time.

“give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.”

thanksgiving2k15.png

this will forever be one of my favorite pictures of all time. my siblings and i helped my grandma set up her tree last thanksgiving and we had such a blast.

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. – Ps. 9:1

As I think about how far I’ve come since last Thanksgiving, I’m amazed and in total awe of God’s goodness and grace.  Some of you may remember my totally angsty thanksgiving post from last year.  (*facepalm*)

In all honesty, I still have days like that, but they’ve been fewer as of late.  Mostly because I’m constantly realizing how incredibly blessed my life is.

Just how blessed am I?  WELL, I’M GLAD YOU ASKED.

thanksgivingfamily.png

 

 

I have the best siblings ever.  Seriously, they’re amazing.

They never cease to make me laugh, stretch me, and teach me – everything from random facts about music and TV shows to anger management (*wink*).  I’d be so lost without these kiddos.

(And we totally won Halloween, especially considering we had about two hours’ notice for costumes.)

I love my parents to DEATH, too, but I don’t have any recent pictures of them.  So I’ll just say this instead: my parents are the best.  They teach me so many life lessons, they love me even when I’m hard to love, and they support me constantly.  I’m forever grateful.

thanksgivingfriends.png

I also have the literal best friends.

Friends who will Gilmore-bound to coffee shops with me, play weddings with me, and then invite me and my siblings to come watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life with them…

 

 

 

 

thanksgivingfriends1.png

 

 

Friends who will invite me to Charleston for my very first girls-only weekend and get dressed up for a fancy-schmancy dinner in the car in a parking garage and talk to random guys about protesting and make totally inappropriate jokes with…

 

thanksgivingfriends2.png

 

 

 

 

And friends who will let me stay at their house for a week and then take me and my siblings to Universal.  And sing Moana songs 24/7.   ALL THE HEART EYES FOR YOU GUYS.  (And what a good looking group of people, if I do say so myself.)  (“AND THANK YOU!”)

 

 

 

 

IMG_4613.JPG

 

 

I’m grateful for books and the pretty places I can read them.  This particular spot is my hidden sanctuary.  I come here once or twice a week and read, drink coffee, or just sit.

 

IMG_1307.JPG

 

 

 

 

And, finally, I’m thankful for coffee, especially on a rainy Sunday morning in Charleston with two of my best friends beside me.

(And more pictures from my Charleston trip are coming.  Because I’m obsessed.)

 

What are you thankful for?