year in review: 2018.

Ahh, 2018, you absurd, slightly terrifying year.

No preface.  Let’s just dive right into the insanity.  (Once again, quick disclaimer that I mostly do these posts for myself and not to brag or anything yadiyadiyada okay let’s go.)

JANUARY

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me at the beginning of the year. | 01.04

The year started off with a good friend leaving for an extended period of time.  I was slightly devastated.  I didn’t know how to cope, so I just threw myself into my work and theatre.  I auditioned for my first musical, Singin’ in the Rain, and paced in the bathroom at work while waiting for the cast list to be released.  During this month, I also got into critiquing conservative books from my teenage years – mostly because of a little blog that I’m still addicted to – and started re-reading said books.  (I still need to do a long, ranty post about Before You Meet Prince Charming.  Whew.  The insanity.)

I didn’t get a lead in Singin’, but I did get a very minor role and ensemble, and rehearsals twice a week would be my saving grace during the next few months.  My younger sister got into the ensemble as well – her first show! – and we bonded because of it, quoting the show to each other more than we had when we were just fans of the musical.  I also got to stage manage for another show, which meant sitting backstage in front of a monitor with a headset on my head and a script in my lap and making sure everybody was where they needed to be, props were set, and sound cues were made.  I realized I liked being backstage almost as much as being onstage (no lines?! heck yeah!), and everyone in the cast loved me.

FEBRUARY

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once upon a december… | 02.24

My favorite Aussie and her younger sister (my second-favorite Aussie) visited, sparking my very first solo trip to Atlanta that almost got all three of us murdered, but it was definitely an adventure!  I was barely able to spend time with them because of my hectic work schedule, but I did get to introduce them to my small town, my theatre family, and Chick-fil-A fries (which, let’s be honest, was probably the best thing I could have introduced them to).  I had a very nice Valentine’s Day surprise from my boyfriend after expecting to just spend it the way I always did – chocolate and rom-com in bed and listing all the reasons why I was happy to be single.

I was able to go to about a third of my church’s DNOW conference with the girls that I still co-lead in small group at church, which was nice (although I would’ve liked to have gone to the whole thing – again, working on Saturday sucks).  I crashed a Valentine’s Day dance full of people from my old church and it was so freeing and invigorating and honestly made that entire month for me.  (Long, long, long story.)  I also hosted a Galentine’s Day party with my sisters and two of my very best friends, which was mostly just eating bruschetta and watching the Galentine’s Day episode of Parks and Recreation and dishing on relationship drama.  (All in all, I’d say my Valentine’s Day season was infinitely better than all years previous.  13/10 would recommend.)

I also went to my first con and cosplayed for the first time and it. was. incredible.  If I could go back and do it all over again just to relive it, I wouldn’t change a thing, even the hard bits and the part where I had an allergic reaction to my friend’s cat the night before we left.  Over the next two and a half days, I cosplayed as Anastasia, Belle, Jyn Erso, and Wendy Darling.  My friend cosplayed as Dimitri and Peter, so taking pictures together was definitely a highlight.  We went to the con as volunteers, so I still haven’t technically been to a con as an attendee, although we browsed the vendor hall as much as we could.  One of my favorite things was eating pizza in my golden Anastasia ballgown and also watching people recognize us.  Definitely a highlight of 2018!

MARCH

In the beginning of this month, one of my best friends had a sweet sixteen that was poppin’.  My friends and I gave her an afternoon with us, and we explored our little town by doing a scavenger hunt and sending pictures of all of our stops to her mom, who sent us clues for things to find.  I also continued to babysit at my local Classical Conversations chapter every Tuesday on my day off, now far enough into the school year that it was routine.  I’d made so many mom friends that I continue to keep up with, and I really miss hanging out with a bunch of toddlers as an extra little break from my adult job.

And speaking of, I mainly just worked this month.  I don’t know what it was about March that was so routine, but with Singin’ in the Rain rehearsals two nights a week, co-leading my small group every Sunday, plus random things every few nights, sometimes all I could do was go to work and come home and sleep.  It ended up being a good thing that I’d somehow stuck my head in the sand and stayed in my lane because the next month was full of personal drama that I didn’t know I needed to be prepared to handle.

APRIL

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post-show pics. (not featured: post-show tears.) | 04.28

This month started off with a bang because I experienced my first breakup.  It wasn’t as heartbreakingly earth-shattering as it probably could have been, mostly because he’s an angel and we ended on great terms.  It was really hard for a while.  I didn’t want to be single again, since experiencing all of the major holidays and my birthday with a significant other was pretty darn great.  But I made it, and now I’m back to my regular self-deprecating, single self.  (Although I’m trying to follow Hannah Gadsby‘s lead and cut it out.)  I also experienced some slightly more personal things involving friendships that opened my eyes a lot, which was greatly needed and has definitely radically changed who I am and how I relate to people.

On a slightly more serious note, I did taxes for the first time.  Ugh, and boy, was it boring.  Definitely wasn’t as hard as people make it out to be, just annoying.  But I solved that by watching The Greatest Showman and drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade while I did it.  I also made it through tech week for Singin’ and our lone show weekend.  It was such an incredible experience and even though I wasn’t able to be in it as much as I’d hoped (the choreo rehearsals were on Saturday afternoons while I was at work an hour away), I will forever think of it as one of my favorite shows.  I also got to costume a show starting in April, and it was later nominated for Best Costumes in our annual awards event.  Pretty neat!

MAY

May started with an ill-fated beach trip that turned out to be one of my favorite things I did all year.  Long story short, I missed most of it because of work and had to change my plans at the very last minute, culminating in several tearful phone calls to friends and crying alone in my basement on the floor at almost midnight.  However, I got up the next morning before five and drove down in record time, listening to music and watching John Mulaney comedy specials and painting my nails.  (Hey, those roads are straight and boring!)  I pulled onto 30-A with “From Now On” from The Greatest Showman blasting from my speakers out the open windows and crying as the “and we will come back home” lyrics hit me hard.  I met my mom at a swanky coffee shop that I’d been wanting to try for years but never got the chance to, and it was almost like coming home again.  I spent the next day and a half doing all the beachy things and falling asleep at 9pm both nights on the couch.

My siblings and I did The Last Great B Team Road Trip in my car on the way home, pit stopping for two days in Tampa for a friend’s wedding and to visit more friends.  James and I got to finish the second season of Stranger Things in the back while my sister drove (no idea why I hadn’t finished it sooner), so that was fun.  Speaking of James, he graduated high school later that month.  We threw a big party for him and filled our house with his friends even though I only recognized a handful of them.  (#foreshadowing)

Later in June, I started rehearsals for my theatre company’s annual Summersplosion program.  It was unlike any production I’d ever done because we had to build the show from scratch, from concept to performance, with only one rule: that it fit in a theatre in the round (audience on all sides of the stage).  My team included myself, five kids between seven and fifteen, and our director (a freshman in college).  We ended up coming up with our show idea by the end of the first “rehearsal,” and were able to pull it off in August with flying colors.

JUNE

In the beginning of June, I took two days off to play in a wedding with two of my siblings at one of the most gorgeous locations I’ve ever seen.  The wedding involved a lot more prep work than we thought it would, but it paid off so well that we didn’t mind.  The couple met while doing theatre, so everything had musical aspects, especially influenced by Peter Pan and Finding Neverland (um, let me go sob in a corner, please).  Their wedding favor was either a keychain, bracelet, or necklace that featured a thimble charm and an acorn charm.  Swoon.  Totally stealing that idea.

The rest of the month was mostly full of rehearsals and writing the script for our show at work.  I think I ended up writing half the script, with the other sections going to two of the other kids on our team. The play was set in a post-apocalyptic society where all forms of creativity have been banned, especially music.  Five kids find a box of musical instruments and I got to play the teacher/government baddie who tried to make them stop (but also had secrets of her own).  Writing the thing was so hard, but we ended up finishing before the deadline.

Later in the month, I surprised one of my best friends on his birthday and hung out with him all day, taking him to lunch and going with him to rehearsal for a production of Newsies, in which he played Jack Kelly.  (Just when I thought I couldn’t love him any more…)  It was really, really fun to watch the show come together just at that one rehearsal, and I’ve even become friends with some of the cast (mostly because I ended up going to another rehearsal, seeing the show twice, and hanging out with the cast a few times).  After leaving his rehearsal, I went straight to my grandparents’ house, where we had our annual cousin camp.  I had to work that entire week, so I didn’t get to spend as much time with my cousins and my grandparents as I would’ve liked, but I still enjoyed it.

JULY

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happiest place, best people. | 07.08

JULY WAS PROBABLY THE BEST MONTH OF THE ENTIRE YEAR.  (Which was great, because the last few months were pretty bad.)  It started off with one of the best trips I’ve ever done – Disney with two of my bestest friends.  It was the perfect length, with just the right amount of fun, late-night talks, musical karaoke, morning coffee sessions… oh, and wine.  First time at Disney as “a child with a liquor license” and it was pretty great.  Doing Disney with my family was awesome because I got to see my younger siblings experience Disney, but doing it with friends was incredible.  We all had a few things we really wanted to do, but we were also super flexible so we’d just do stuff at the drop of a hat, which meant that I actually got to experience more with my friends in their twenties than I did with my family.  We went home with so many amazing stories and memories that we’ll probably keep just between the three of us ’til we die.  It was an amazingly special time and I’m so blessed to have experienced it.

I also sung in my first cabaret – A SOLO!  It was a miscast cabaret (basically gender-swapping songs), and I sang “Santa Fe” from Newsies.  Nobody really knew I could sing, so to hear people rant and rave about how well I did afterwards was pretty great.  I also started to go through the grieving process of my little bro (and favorite sibling thERE I SAID IT) leaving to go to college.  (Lots of grieving in the latter half of 2018 what the heck.)  My friend peer pressured me into getting the Pokemon Go app and we subsequently got stuck outside in a massive thunderstorm and almost died.  I went on an all-day bro/sis date with my little bro, to a musical with my younger sister, and saw my best friend absolutely crush it as Jack in Newsies… twice.  I took myself on a date (something I’ve started doing more now – nights where I work late one night and early the next morning, I’ll do something with myself and it’s been really fun), I went on another date w my bro (gotta get in that favorite sib time), and I saw some of my younger friends kill it in a local production of Grease, also twice.  (What can I say?  I love supporting my friends.)

AUGUST

Ahh, August.  Seriously, the entire rest of this year was so emotional.  I’m surprised I have any emotional stamina – or hair – left.  Anyway.

The month started off with a pretty big amount of work drama.  After a particularly hard day (won’t bore you with the details), I told myself I had to stop saying that I’d hit “the worst day” because another one will eventually come along that’s worse.  My best work friend also started interviewing for jobs and I remember crying on the way home from work multiple times.  I also got to go to a Braves game with almost the entire company, so that was fun.

On the theatre front, we finalized the script, costumes, sound effects, lighting, etc for our Summersplosion show, which we’d entitled Modulating the Machine.  (Get it?  It’s post-apocalyptic and has a fun nod to music.  I was so proud.)  I slept over at my theatre mom’s house and saw Mamma Mia 2 with her and her daughter.  My theatre’s annual awards ceremony happened one night after work at a local science museum, so it was fun to dress up and go, even if I didn’t win anything.  My little bro and yes I repeat favorite sibling left for college and I cried on the way to and from work a few more times.  Another bright moment was being asked to be on the marketing team for my local theatre, specifically working on the social media and managing the Instagram entirely.  (And the follow count has since doubled in size, thankyouverymuch.)  I also got to have an impromptu sleepover with two of my very best friends after their college going-away party, mostly just because I really, really didn’t want to leave.  (It had been a super hard weekend and I didn’t want to say goodbye to them and I also just didn’t want to go home.)

I got to see another show with three guy friends – a local production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame that made all of us cry, so that was fun.  We hung out in a coffee shop afterwards talking about literally everything and anything, then got dinner afterwards because we just didn’t want to leave.  I also got invited to a party thrown by all of my older theatre friends who I think are astonishingly cool, so that was fun.  (I brought flowers and played with a kitten half the time, but that is neither here nor there.)  I had an impromptu “coffee hang” with three friends on my day off that ended up turning into an almost weekly thing that we still do (we actually just did it today).  Those people have since turned into three of my closest friends.  I also spent the night with my little bro at his college and nearly cried because how the h*ck could he be so old?!  It was so much fun touring his campus and meeting a few of his friends, especially since I’d been working when my family drove him down and got him settled.

SEPTEMBER

During this month, I basically just put my head down and tried to work the best I could.  I bought a car after a year of stressing and saving and finding wrong cars until I finally – FINALLY – found the right one.  My work bestie sold it to me about a week before he left, so I obviously cried in it a lot.

*takes a break to sip hot chocolate and read an article about the benefits of crying*

I also saw some friends in The Great Gatsby – two different casts on two different weekends and I had friends playing in both, so obviously I had to go to a performance on both weekends.  I also saw Daddy Long Legs with my sister and one of my best friends, and to say it was a dream come true would be an understatement.  I’ve been high-key obsessed with that show for over a decade and even considered auditioning for this particular production.  I’m so glad I didn’t, though, because the young woman who played Jerusha knocked it out of the park in ways I can only dream of.  (It’s still one of my bucket list roles, however.  Fingers crossed it can happen sometime!)

OCTOBER

This month started off with some pretty exciting yet hard work stuff.  With the completion of some renovation, the dealership where I work split into two different stores – New and Pre-Owned – effectively splitting my coworkers in half.  I’ve gotten to work in both places and definitely miss the others when I’m gone.  This split happened the same week that I petsit for my theatre parents and their thirteen pets.  (It was kind of chaotic, but I enjoyed living in a zoo with my sister for a week!)  I have in my notes that Trench also came out, which is a huge deal because twenty øne piløts is one of my favorite bands of all time.  I was able to go to Jeni’s and try their ice cream for the first time and then walk around the shopping center with my friend for a while.  It was a nice, chill night (especially after all that chaos).

I also petsit for a coworker for a week; only two dogs this time.  She lives five minutes from work, which was a nice change of pace from my hour and a half drive one way.  It was fun to pretend like I was a successful young businesswoman with my own fancy place, but I missed my basement kitchenette and den.  I also got to visit with the two friends who’d recently gone off to college, and hearing their stories made me wish I’d gone.  Some of my friends were in a local production of Seussical, so I obviously had to go see that, too.  (Dang, I’m losing track of how many shows I went to see!  It’s gonna happen again in 2019, I know, because I’ve already bought tickets to several Broadway tours and friends’ shows.)

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jyn & christine. | 10.26

I also took myself on a date to the movies for the very first time!  I don’t go to the movie theater often because I don’t like going by myself, but I couldn’t find anybody to go see this movie with me.  Since I still really wanted to see it, I just decided to do it.  And dang, it was so much fun.  (Mental note: Go to the movies by myself more often in 2019!)  The movie was a recording of the National Theatre Live’s production of Frankenstein, starring Jonny Lee Miller as Dr. Frankenstein and Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature.  So, duh, I had to go.  (The next weekend, the showing was the same except the roles were switched and I totally would’ve gone if I didn’t have a sales dinner that night.  I got to dress up super fancy and completely shock everybody there with how fabulous I looked.  It was great.)  My younger sister and I started watching a very famous, kinda adult, historical show that we’d been wanting to see for a while, and suffice it to say we’re hooked.  It’s become Our Thing and we watch a few episodes together every week.  We also went to a friend’s Halloween party as Jyn Erso (reusing cosplay ftw) and Christine Daae.  My sister made her “Masquerade” dress from scratch – no pattern – and won third place!

NOVEMBER

The last weekend of October and beginning of November was another highlight of the year.  It felt like all of my favorite bands were coming in town… and yes, I got tickets to see three of them (and planned a Friendsgiving party for the day after, no shame).  I met my younger sister downtown and saw AJR on Halloween night.  We dressed up as Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, and my little bro drove up with his girlfriend as Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein.  My best friend and one of her friends came, and we had so much fun.  It was such a good concert!  We bonded with a few people there who we’re actually still talking to, so that was neat.  The next night, NF was in town but I made myself adult and not buy tickets.

nov 18

the few, the proud, & the emotional. | 11.02

Friday night we saw twenty øne piløts and holy cow, it was amazing.  So, so, so incredible.  To see my boys live with my little bro and two good friends was indescribable.  They played songs from the entire discography, even some from their self-titled album, and I sang along with very dang word.  The next day, I got up early, worked 8am-6pm, then drove down to the venue of the first concert with my friend to see The Band Camino and Ben Rector.  (Ben headlined and Camino opened but I’d be lying if I said I bought the tickets to see Ben.)  Camino was incredible and Ben was so, so, so funny.  I even got to meet The Band Camino afterwards, which was a highlight of the weekend.

The next morning, Sunday, we slept in a little, then talked over coffee.  After a while, we turned on the old 1992 Newsies and started prepping for my Friendsgiving party.  My friends started showing up in the afternoon and it was a wonderful time of eating and catching up and singing and eating some more.  I’d always wanted to host a Friendsgiving, and I think it’s going to become a tradition.  (Fingers crossed that the next one can be in my own place!)  I definitely had too many people there, but it was only overwhelming for a little while, and I overcame it by sitting in a corner and eating chips straight out of the bag.  Then, we had an after-party with a few friends who were going to spend the night, complete with a boozy game of Cards Against Humanity.

So, suffice it to say that weekend was probably a highlight of my life.

I also attempted NaNo for the fourth time AND WONNNN.  (For the third time!)  It was really hard with a full-time job (and a part-time job of just getting there and back), but I managed.  The entire last week of the month, I didn’t do anything after work, instead going straight home and writing ’til my eyes burned.  I can’t wait to share this story with you guys.  Honestly, it’s one of the most special things I’ve ever written and I think it’ll go far.  (Or at least I hope it does!)

I was also asked to be in the premiere reading of a local playwright’s play, which was super duper fun.  I petsat for my coworker again – just for a weekend this time – decorated my grandma’s tree with my siblings for the third year in a row, did a social experiment that I learned a lot from, got a Christmas tree for my downstairs apartment, found out that my car can fit a five-foot inflated dinosaur (don’t ask).  Oh, and finished NaNo, all by myself in my favorite coffee shop.  (Seriously, there wasn’t anyone there.  I freaked out for a hot second because I thought they’d closed early without telling me.)

DECEMBER

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my bestie & me. | 12.16

December.  Ohhhhh, December.

I normally don’t put too many expectations on my birthday because it just tends to get lost by the wayside of Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and end-of-year recitals and concerts and Christmas and New Year’s and everything else in between.  A good friend flew up for my birthday this year, which made it better than I thought it was going to be, even though all of our plans got cancelled or rained out – after I worked 8am-6pm that day.  (Saturdays at the dealership are brutal.)  The day after my birthday, we baked with a friend and then watched a movie with another friend, which was definitely my favorite part.

The week after my birthday was honestly pretty bad, though – personal drama, work drama, theatre drama… lots of tears.  After taking a break from theatre to focus on work, hoping to get my dream role of Jo in Little Women… I didn’t get in.  I cried myself to sleep two nights in a row that week.  At the very end of the week, I got to go to a dance with some of my very best friends.  We got Taco Bell afterwards and ate it on the carpet in my dad’s office and I think I enjoyed trying not to laugh so loudly that it woke my parents up almost more than the dance.  (Funny how it’s the little things about this past year that I remember or enjoyed the most…)

I was able to fit in some Christmasy stuff as well – a movie and Christmas party with my small group girls (plus looking at some breathtaking Christmas lights), a night with my best friend that we made Christmasy by looking at more lights, and I even changed my lock screen on my phone to a Harry Potter-themed Christmas picture (which is a big deal because I’ve had the same picture since I got the phone in 2015).  The day before my birthday, I revived my blog by posting a review of Joshua Harris’s documentary I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye and it kind of blew up.  (I’m glad to be back, guys.)  I had two sleepovers with a friend (we started two Christmas movies and fell asleep before they were done both times), I missed my baby sister’s first ballet recital because of work (she was the lead sheep in the Nativity ballet), I was asked to be in another reading of a good friend’s play in January, and I moved to a different building at work for two weeks.

All things considered, I had an okay Christmas season (even if I worked during most of it).  I also worked New Year’s Eve and spent it with my best friend.  We got pizza and got a little further in our re-watch of Teen Wolf and she was asleep by ten.  I ended up going outside in the rain to watch the fireworks go off at midnight by myself, a glass of wine in one hand and my phone with a streaming video of the ball dropping in Times Square in the other.  Doing New Year’s Eve by myself sounds kind of pathetic or lame or sad, but it really wasn’t.  It was freeing and almost invigorating, in a way.  To know that I made it to the end of the year and to be able to celebrate that all by myself was… empowering.

Of course, I didn’t do it all by myself.  I did it with the help of my family and friends and  my amazing Creator.

If you’ve made it this far, I just want to thank you.  Thank you for reading, thank you for caring, and thank you for sticking with me.  I write these posts mainly to look back at what God has carried me through and how much I’ve changed in the space of 525,600  minutes, and it’s always incredibly jarring and inspiring.

2018 was one of the hardest, but most fulfilling years of my life and I grew more than I ever have before.  I thought 2019 was going to be a weird in-between year but it’s already shaping up to be a pretty good blend of crazy and insane and chaotic and fun.  Can’t wait to see what’s in store!

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traditional bathroom selfie. | 01.23.19

the day i started wearing dresses again.

Today I wore a dress to work.

What a weird sentence.  A year ago, the dress part would’ve driven me nuts.  Three or four years ago, the work part would’ve.  (Me?  Having a job outside of the home?  In a non-Christian environment?  The horror.)

I’ve been reading a lot of exposé-type blog posts on the Quiverfull/ATI movement (and conservatism as a whole) lately, and a few particularly jarring posts about modesty have gotten me into a weird funk.

I never knew what kind of a niche environment I grew up in until recently.  This subculture of Biblically-endorsed patriarchy.  This baby mass-producing, holier-than-thou legalism.  Luckily, my family wasn’t as entrenched in it as others, but it’s still affected me in ways I’m still trying to work through.

When I was twelve, my sister and I went shorts-shopping with my mom.  We’d just been through training to be summer missionaries with several of the youth in my church.  We needed new shorts to wear as we traveled around our city ministering to kids that summer, and I found several options, including some adorable plaid ones that went down to my knee that I couldn’t wait to wear.  It wasn’t until we got home that my dad told us we’d be wearing skirts outside of the house from then on.  I distinctly remember slipping the plaid shorts under a massive, layered jean skirt a few times, and enjoying their secret existence.

From the time I was twelve until sometime when I was eighteen, we wore skirts whenever we left the house (and sometimes when we didn’t, because I had a younger brother).  It was a modesty thing, it was a deference thing, and it was an umbrella thing.  It pointed to my father as an authority in our home – how I was honoring him by keeping my brothers in Christ from stumbling.

I was always a tomboy when I was younger.  Climbing trees and playing football with my guy friends were some of my favorite activities.  I soon learned that doing these things in a skirt was incredibly difficult (and, at times, less than modest).  I remember riding in a go-kart with a guy friend (my best friend for most of my early teen years – but I never told anybody that).  We rounded a curve and my skirt flew back, exposing the (again, adorable) plaid shorts.  I was grateful to have worn them that time.  Another time, on a family field trip to Charleston, we toured a battleship that had been involved in WWII.  It was a windy day and I was wearing a lighter, linen skirt that day.  As I climbed the stairs up to the top deck, in front of most of my family and other guests, a gust of wind flew up underneath my skirt.  No shorts that time.  I was mortified.

Growing up, I was taught that modesty was about not drawing attention to yourself.  But then I’d go outside my small, conservative bubble and notice that we were drawing more attention to ourselves and my like-minded friends with our skirts that reached the top of our shoes and that the only skirts were cute, cut below or above the knee.  I wanted that.  I didn’t know why my skirts had to sweep the floor or be straight denim that reached my mid-calf.  I just knew my growing curves had to be hidden.

It was probably because of this that I never made the connection between modesty and beauty.  I’m not sure there was one, besides the notion that “modest is hottest.”  (Tangent: What does that even mean?)  I heard Bible verses that were used to teach against jewelry and short hair and makeup.  Authorities in my life always said that natural beauty was best, but I never felt comfortable in my red, splotchy, acne-dotted skin and experimented with makeup for special occasions.  The shapeless skirts just made me feel more fat than I already thought I was.

I never felt pretty in those skirts or dresses.

When I was eighteen, we were ever-so-slowly allowed to wear shorts and pants outside of the house again.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m the one who started this trend.  I didn’t see the point in wearing a skirt solely to pick up the twins I nannied before bringing them back to their house for the afternoon.  I started wearing shorts and it was such a fascinating mixture of delight and nervousness and guilt and wonder.  If I needed to run an errand beforehand and wore shorts, I’d walk through the store as quickly as possible, feeling a twinge of guilt whenever I passed even a younger boy.

One day, I distinctly remember deciding to wear a skirt, mostly out of guilt that I’d bent my standards so much.  I picked a shorter one with lace at the bottom and an adorable flower print.  I finally felt cute in something that was in line with my standards (although I’m fairly sure a comment was made about how short it was).  Some men were working at the house where I was nannying, and I spent my afternoon simultaneously trying to keep the kids from riding down their incredibly steep driveway on their bikes and holding my skirt down because wind was, again, an issue.  I think that was my last time wearing a skirt to my nannying job.

After we left our church, I wore skirts for several weeks as we church-shopped.  The first time I wore skinny jeans to my new church, I felt so rebellious but, at the same time, strangely enough… free.

Years of legalism and I was finally getting a taste of grace.

I kept most of my skirts, mostly because some were cute and because I felt like I should, but it took a long time to finally be able to wear them again, pairing them with boots or a cute top to make myself feel better about it.  I still shied away from more full or longer skirts that made me remember those days in ways I didn’t want to.

When I got a job where the dress code was business casual, I bought my first dress since those skirt-wearing days.  It stopped a few inches above my knee, was cinched at the waist, and had straps.  The most important part was that it was my favorite shade of forest green.  I loved it.

So today, when I wore that dress to work, you can start to understand why it was such a big deal to me.  I thought very little of it – I just wanted less items of clothing to match.  The green dress plus tights, a mustard cardigan, and short boots, and I was set.

It made me remember the weekend before, when I cosplayed with a friend as Anastasia and felt like an actual princess in the flowing skirt, pearl beads, and long hair (almost as long as my hair was before I cut it at the end of my skirt-wearing days – and got shunned by the girls at church).  I was so hesitant to wear it at first, because it dredged up all the old memories of feeling lumpy, formless, fat, and told that my curves were something to be hidden.  But when I tried on the skirt for the first time and pulled on the sleeves – before the bodice was even cut – I nearly cried.  I actually felt beautiful.  In a skirt.  The morning of the actual event, when I put on the whole ensemble for the first time, I teared up when my friend pinned the crown on my head.  For the first time, I actually felt the connection between wearing a dress and feeling absolutely gorgeous.

And it was incredible.

It took four long, painful years to get past these memories and such a poisoning frame of mind, but I’m finally well on my way to freedom.  I’m so much better off.  I don’t regret any of the decisions I or my parents made, but I’m so glad I’m past those days.

All this to say, something I’ve learned is that your convictions shouldn’t be the result of guilt or fear.  Do what you do out of your love for Christ.  Period.

a smol update.

As some of you may have guessed, YES, starting a full-time job (with an hour commute on a no-traffic day), being the lead female role in a play that performed seven shows over three weekends, and random little things was too much.

Guess what fell to the wayside? Yep – NaNo.

I did, however, get ten thousand words written, and was very proud of myself.

All this to say, if you guys would like the first few thousand words as a Christmas present, let me know!

(Also check out my Facebook because I posted some pictures from the play!)

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!

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{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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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
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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”)
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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)
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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

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    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!

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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.)))

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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.)

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we found a brick wall.  pictures were necessary.

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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.

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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!)

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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…

 

 

 

 

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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…

 

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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!”)

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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?