A Letter to My Childhood Best Friends

Dear My Oldest-Yet-Dearest-Friends,

I can’t believe I’m doing this. Sitting in a café, writing this article, on the edge of youth and adulthood (more like hanging on for dear life as the g-word is drawing near, but you get the point) reflecting on our past (may or may not even have a few tears in my eyes…allergies, I swear). I kid you not, it seems like just yesterday we were playing kickball in the cul-de-sac, writing scripts to our own versions of Hannah Montana, and getting a thrill of going to the mall without adults and taking way too many photo booth pics. Do the youth even do that nowadays?

I might be biased, but I believe we grew up at the perfect time. We have an appreciation for VHS tapes and thrived during the days of calling our home phones to see if we could come out and play; however, we are also are well-acquainted with the technological boom of today. We had it made, guys. I miss those simple times, I really do. Our imaginations were impeccable and I envy our ambitions. I want to take this moment to thank you for all of it.

You were my first friends. The ones I associate my earliest memories with today. You were number one on my birthday invite lists (thank you for still coming even though I had almost every party at Miss Molly’s Tea Room). You were there through all of the early milestones. You were even still friends with me during my caveman-looking-days (God bless you for that).

When high school came, I was terrified of losing you. I remember freshmen orientation like it was yesterday…when we had to split up, and I was the only one at the beginning of the alphabet, I thought my life was over. I couldn’t imagine going through what was supposed to be the best (and fastest) 4 years without you. But here’s the beauty of it: even when we established ourselves in different friend groups, joined different clubs, and hung out with different people at dances, our bond never quivered.

Then of course, college came in the blink of an eye and that fear came back around. How the heck could I stay friends with people going to colleges in completely different directions? But thankfully yet again, I was wrong because here we are many years later, still best friends.

40325_1401311362083_193811_nYou know who you are and this letter speaks for itself. Thank you for sticking by my side all this time and I look forward to all of our future endeavors to come.  I love you from the bottom of my heart and I always will.

xoxo

The Magic of Disney

GREETINGS, EVERYONE! Or shall I say Season’s Greetings! It has certainly been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and blog. This semester has been nothing short of crazy and the most challenging semester to date. But no need to fear, I am here and ready to rumble!

As many of you may have seen, I just got back from a spontaneous trip to Disney World. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “WHO THE HECK PICKS UP AND GOES TO DISNEY WITH MINIMAL PLANNING?” That, my friend, is a very reasonable question–Especially if you know me at all and know that I very rarely travel. But if you also know me, I’m nothing close to reasonable. Typically, trips to Disney are planned months in advance (especially if you want to do it right). So, how the heck was I able to make this dream come true? The answer is actually quite simple: MAGIC.

They say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I can attest to this because I have met some incredible people over the course of my life and especially this semester. All of the people I met both before and during my trip to Disney (particularly the ones that made it all possible…thanks Morgan & Kaitlyn), I’ll never be able to express my full gratitude. Thank you for showing me the ropes and for making this Disney experience one to never forget.

What is it about Disney that ignites this craving for adventure and the need to immerse myself in the craziness? Well, I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not the movies and shows that are to blame(although don’t get me wrong…I LOVE them to pieces. I mean, who doesn’t? But that’s just a bonus). I can’t rattle off random Disney movie facts and I certainly can’t say I’ve seen all the movies. It’s not the product-outcome that Disney creates that I’m head over heels in love with. It’s the way in which Disney puts people first, making them feel 5 years old again. It’s the thought that goes into ensuring every single thing in Disney World preserves the sacred magic. It’s the way you feel walking down Main Street USA in Magic Kingdom–it’s almost as though you feel limitless and can be confident in following your heart.

Disney reminds you that no dream is too big and no big idea is too crazy. It reminds you to value the friendships you have and to share that friendship with everyone you meet. It reminds us all that true love is out there and the adventure you go on to get there is one of the greatest treasures of life. It’s the perfect place to take that step back from the stress of school, work, and burdens because it takes you back in time–the time of child-like imagination and simple delights. Most of all, it reminds you to smile because life is short and we can’t afford to frown for long. Thank you, Disney for being all that you’re cracked up to be and more. May your magic and happiness radiate to every individual this holiday season and beyond.

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Never Too Early

GREETINGS, FRIENDS! (Or shall I say SEASONS GREETINGS!). It has certainly been a while since I’ve been able to blog anything. Sometimes life gets in the way, but no need to fear, I am here!

So let’s talk about CHRISTMAS! Obviously, if you know anything about me at all, you know that I am OBSESSED with CHRISTMAS! As I sit here writing this, I am basking in the glory of my 4ft Christmas tree, festively-decorated bedroom, and my record player quietly playing the Charlie Brown Christmas album. So what is it exactly that brings me so much joy? I find myself thinking about this a lot because quite frankly, I don’t have a concrete answer. It’s not as clear cut as a bright Christmas bow; however, I am going to take this opportunity to do my best to illustrate the extent to my obsession.

Growing up as an only child, I have found that I have developed a talent for entertaining myself and Christmas is the perfect time to surround yourself with active festivities: cookie baking, ice skating, Christmas shopping, and holiday partying, just to name a few. I also find inner joy for the things that continually exercise my childhood tendencies even now as a so-called “adult.” Thus, immersing myself into a celebratory holiday season in which I am able to be a big kid living life to the fullest for weeks on end seems like a dream come true, does it not?

It’s no secret that I start my Christmas music officially on November 1st, decorate BEFORE Thanksgiving, and throw a Christmas party in the summer because I just can’t wait for December. I know this incites frustration with some folks because they see this as skipping over Thanksgiving and giving in to the commercialization of the holiday. Now, yes…I do enjoy the commercialization to some degree; however, as long as you have the true meaning of Christmas in your heart, I believe that it’s never too early to start your holiday cheer. Living each day as if it were Christmas morning is the best way to live. Always spread joy, always be jolly, and make dreams come true!

So, even if “Little Drummer Boy” drives you up the wazoo and you cringe at the thought of battling the crowds on Black Friday, the Christmas season can be anything you want it to be. It has the power to conform to whatever your needs are that year. For some, it’s a season of peace and community. For others, it’s a time of non-stop action to wrap up your crazy year.  Make it whatever YOU need it to be and I promise, the Lord will not disappoint. After all, He knows how to have an awesome birthday bash!

I wish you and your families a truly blessed holiday season. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT ( and yes, a happy turkey day as well!)

 

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What’s His Problem?

I’ve been mowing lawn for about 7 years now. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I have lawn-mowing credentials, but I am quite proud of my craftsmanship. Would I ever go into the landscaping business…? Of course not, but it was certainly a good way to begin my working career back in the day and I sure-fire way to make a bit of extra cash nowadays.

As I come home from work only to find that I need to mow lawn, I naturally feel a bit of frustration within because working after work doesn’t exactly sound like a picnic in the park. Which quite frankly, as soon as I find some extra time, I would love to have a picnic in the park….okay, moving on. After convincing myself I can muster the energy to go mow, I make my way over to my client’s lawn.

I have my own way of doing things, especially when it comes to mowing. I like to outline the entire yard and I always begin with the backyard. To me, it’s a mind over matter game because ending with the front yard gives the illusion that you’re just beginning, but in reality, you’re almost done: you feel me? As I am starting the outline of the backyard, a man on a riding mower next door (looking as if he is in the professional landscaping business) begins mowing the bottom half of the backyard. Okay, so he went a little over the unspoken line between the yard I am mowing and his client’s. No biggie. As I continue mowing, we awkwardly beginning meeting towards the middle. Did he not see me? Is he mooching in on my profit? What’s his problem?

So, naturally I avoid confrontation and begin mowing the front yard. After all, you should always run away from your problems, right? KIDDING. DON’T DO THAT.

After completion of the front yard, I come to find that the back yard is completely done. OKAY SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS THIS GUY DOING? DOES HE NOT SEE HOW AWKWARD THIS IS? I proceed to ask my client what the heck is going on with this situation.

After approaching the man on the riding mower, I realize he was in no way mocking my push mower…he was not by any means out to get my profits…and if anything, his motive was to do a good deed. He said, “I saw you mowing and wanted to help you out.” WHAT? He even refused to be paid for it. Baffled as usual, I take time to reflect on the situation as I sweep up the clippings.

I’m embarrassed by how quick to judge I was with this man. My first instinct was to ask, “What is this guy’s deal?” assuming he had negative motives. In reality, he did an incredibly good deed and he will never truly know how grateful I was to have the help after the long day I had.

So the take-away from all of this? Imagine if instead of asking “What’s the problem?” We asked, “What’s the opportunity?” A problem indicates that something needs to be fixed…that someone needs to change. This man clearly did not have a problem and if everyone had as kind of a heart, the world would be a better place (and everyone’s lawns would be neatly cut, haha). Instead of jumping the conclusion that someone else is at fault, taking a step back and seeking the opportunity can yield completely different results….results that can completely make someone’s day.

You don’t have to mow lawn to have this same experience. Having an open mind as well as an open heart before we diagnose someone with a “problem” can make a world of a difference.

Have You Lived Today?

So, we may not have made it to Hollywood. We may not have surfaced on Ellentube. We may not be YouTube sensations.If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our videos! (linked below) But if you’ve seen any of our video creations, you know that my friends and I genuinely enjoy being silly and living life to the fullest.

Summer is supposed to be a time full of rest and recuperation. Ironically, I have found that many of us actually use it as a time to jam pack as much as humanly possible into just a short few months. Without classes and homework taking up excessive amounts of time (typically), we tend to absorb as much work, work, and well, work as we possibly can. This summer has definitely tested my limits. Working 60+ hours each week having to decline many social activities and blissful sleep time was certainly no picnic in the park.

If I stopped right there, this narrative would have taken a downward spiral. But friends, even when there isn’t any time…even when we feel alone…even when we are exhausted beyond comprehension, we still need to live.

Katherine, Karalyn & I have been making fun, silly videos for 3 summers now. The only difference was that this summer, it was nearly impossible to find time to hangout and make the movie magic happen. Free time never added up like it had in the past, but we did not give up. I can honestly say that it is all the more satisfying that we were able to make this happen given the circumstances this summer had in store for us.

As I sit here reminiscing about our video history, I am so proud that we have come this far. Our themes have come full circle and we didn’t even realize it. Our first video depicts the “Crazy World” we live in. The second video emphasizes the importance of living life to the fullest with “I Lived.” Our most recent video illustrates that no matter what life throws at you, you are going to “Be Okay.”

Even in this “Crazy World”, waking up with a positive attitude with the goal of saying “I Lived” at the end of each day when you look at yourself in the mirror will ultimately be the ideal plan to ensure that you, my friend will “Be Okay.”

Be Okay

I Lived

Crazy World

Peace Be With You (and Me)

My Catholic friends will surely know what I mean when I say that it’s so easy to give the sign of peace. It’s the one moment during mass that seems to spontaneously burst out into conversation and then miraculously dwindle down so the mass can continue. Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re doing? You’re taking the initiative to wish God’s love and peace upon another individual. How incredible is that?

Now tell me, when was the last time you wished peace upon yourself? Sometimes it seems so easy to seek peace for others, while inner feelings of shame, doubt, and guilt encompass every inch of your being. Why does it have to be that way? It seems as though negativity is effortless, while optimism yields exhaustion.

I like to think positivity is one of my strengths that I can exhibit on a daly basis (haha, daly…get it?) However, I must stress that it certainly does not come easily. Being happy is a choice–a choice that requires dedication just as any other commitment demands. Life has all sorts of ups and downs and the only way to hang on for the ride is to sit back, hang tight, and choose to be happy. Much of the time, being happy with yourself is one of the most challenging areas to maintain.

Okay, so where am I going with this? I tend to ask myself that question as I am in the midst of writing on a semi-regular basis. In this case, I want to relate the uneasiness one feels with themselves to perspectives on modern-day relationships because they tend to be emotionally consuming for individuals my age. We are at that stage in life where we aren’t quite kids…but we aren’t quite “real adults”–yet somehow, we are now permitted to make the transition to “serious” relationships. Engagements are becoming common and before we know it, our mailboxes will be filled to the brim with wedding invitations–crazy, isn’t it?

And with relationships comes the lack of relationships as well. It’s quite common to discuss the desire for said relationship as we fantasize about our weddings, futures, etc. However, I recently had an epiphany regarding the matter: how can we expect someone else to love us if we aren’t completely head over heels in love with ourselves? This isn’t directed at any one group in particular: both those in relationships and those with their heads in the clouds. Either way, are you in love with yourself? Are you truly happy with where you are and where you are going? If the answer is no, that’s okay. We are all works in progress. As Hannah Montana would say, “Nobody’s perfect”. But I must challenge you to love yourself before you wish for someone else to do it for you.

You were made in God’s image and that, my friend is pretty darn cool. So stop hating the flaws you work so hard to find. It’s okay to want to make changes (don’t worry, I have my laundry list as well), but putting your own well-being on hold while searching for a relationship you may or may not be meant to have at this time is pure silliness.

It’s okay to fantasize about a relationship. It’s okay to be in a serious relationship. But it’s also okay to use this time in life to focus on you. Stop dwelling on the pressure to be in a relationship. Do what you need to do to live a fulfilling life, while loving yourself for all that you are worth. It’s not fair to yourself or The Creator Himself if you hold back on celebrating you. If life is a sundae, you are the sprinkles. Embrace yourself for all of your colors, textures, and varieties.

So next time you wish peace upon another…make sure you pray for that peace to be with you too. You are worth it. You deserve it.

Mismatched Socks

Let me begin by saying, I like socks more than the average person. Fun fact: I cannot sleep without socks (I know that appalls some folks, but barefoot is just risky business). You know what else is somewhat concerning? My socks typically do not match. They only match if they are a brand new pair or they are the the super tiny below-the-ankle socks that you wear with Converse, or the like. My grandparents and the children I work with consistently enjoy asking “why” I feel the need to have mismatched socks. Is it because I’m lazy? Because I’m artistically starved and need to use my socks as an outlet? Nah, it’s not that clear-cut. It’s a philosophy I’ve developed over time that I hope to share with you.

Life is short. Yes, we all know that and unfortunately, we are reminded of this concept anytime something negative happens in the world. But think about it. Why should we spend the time looking for matches to socks when we can be out there in the world, living life in those socks? Okay okay, maybe that is justification for laundry laziness, but hear me out.

We’ve been raised to believe that everything has to be perfect. Our Starbucks order has to be perfect or else our morning is ruined. Our clothes have to be perfectly pristine or else it’s just not worth it. Our bodies have to be perfect or else we can’t wear the clothes we want to wear. Our social media posts need to have perfect captions or else the existence of whatever we are posting about is questioned (“If I don’t have a perfect caption, did I even go here?”).

OH COME ON. Is this really how we want to live? Since when does your coffee dictate your entire morning? Remember, you woke up. You are alive. You are beautiful and you are YOU. If your clothes have a wild tendency, OWN IT. WHO CARES IF IT DOESN’T FIT THE MOLD OF NORMAL CLOTHING. Rock those polka dots or llama-herder ponchos! So you aren’t 100% confident about some part of your body? Well, guess what? Most of us are in that same boat with you. Should you hide the clothes you want to wear but you don’t think you should? No. Absolutely not. WEAR THEM! So, you’re going some place exotic for vacation? Well, guess what? Whether you post about it or not, YOU STILL WENT THERE. You will always have those memories even if everyone else doesn’t know.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, most times it’s not even close. Some of the best drinks I’ve had from Starbucks have been mistakes. Most of my best memories never even made it to the social media platform and most of my witty captions come way after the fact anyways. So be bold. Stop trying to be perfect! Wear those mismatched socks and embrace life’s imperfections.