May (2015)

May. proper noun. The month of real spring and finals week and graduations. Includes holidays such as May Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and The Last Day of School (don’t try to tell me that’s not a real holiday).

May

It’s the end of the month, which means I’m joining Leigh Kramer’s link-up to share what I’m generally enjoying this month. Honestly, May has whipped by in a blur of hard and good things, and I’m feeling a little off-kilter about my current state of transitional living, so I’ve probably forgotten important stuff. Oh well. Here’s what I’ve got.

Reading

Paper Towns – John Greene. I have a problem with John Greene. I can’t put down his books, and I neglect all responsibilities for the few hours it takes to finish them. Admittedly, this is the best kind of problem. This book, about a boy who’s in love with a girl who disappears, is his typical style and his typical amount of excellence. The movie version is coming out sometime this summer, and it would most likely involve far fewer tears than The Fault in Our Stars.

86, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff. This darling book is a real-life collection of letters exchanged over years between a New York woman and a bookseller from London. She’s sassy and he’s British proper. It’s a quick, charming read.

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. I have strongly resisted anything by Tolkien since reading The Fellowship of the Ring and being bored out of my mind by it. This one was more fun. And significantly shorter. According to my sister, this is proof that books meant for children are far superior to books for adults.

 

Watching

Friends, up to the beginning of Season 3. Watching a show about people in their 20s who have no idea what they’re doing is both relieving (I’m not the only one screwing things up!) and stressful (so you’re telling me this never gets better?).

Pitch Perfect 2. The plot was meh, but the music was aca-awesome.

 

Listening

James Bay’s album Chaos and the Calm was on repeat for all of finals week. It’s somehow both chill and motivating, both of which are necessary for end-of-school sanity.

Country radio stations have kept me company on long drives, especially songs like “Love You Like That” by Canaan Smith.

 

Loving

The Sugar Box blog makes me ridiculously happy, and this post about fantastic fictional teachers is spot on.

Minnehaha Falls. Wear Chacos, hike the trails, and get your feet a little wet. It’s even better if you have a good guy by your side.

Picture snapped by the boyfriend

Picture snapped by the boyfriend

After packing up all of my crap, I would believe these statistics about the amount of stuff we own. I’d love to pitch half my possessions and become minimalist, but I have a heck of a long way to go.

Birkenstocks. My mom laughs because I used to make fun of her Birks, but now I get it. They’re comfy and make me feel granola.

 

Doing

All the last stuff. Last friend date for the year at the Stone Arch Bridge and Mall of America. Last ResLife hangout at our end-of-the-year retreat. Last angsty, painful time pounding out papers and taking tests (halleluiah). Last time moving out of Hartill, my dorm for the last four years. Hello, emotions.

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(staff photo borrowed from Facebook)

Watching wonderful friends graduate from college, and helping my younger brother celebrate high school graduation a week later.

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(college graduation photos borrowed from Facebook)

Celebrating my cousin’s wedding (the day after Caleb’s graduation, no less). There are 27 first cousins on that side of the family, and all of us were there. Cue all of the family photos. Highlights include flying from MN to WI thanks to a really generous uncle, staying relatively dry in spite of the rain, and getting to sit in the copilot seat on the flight home.

wedding Collage

Currently driving back and forth between Minneapolis, the cabin, and home a heck of a lot and keeping most of my possessions in the back of my car. Ay.

Next month: running a half-marathon, moving into an apartment, starting a new summer job, and having all kinds of summer adventures. Be prepared.

 

What were you into this month?

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Graduates

Graduates. noun. People who gets to wear funny hats and walk across a stage because they have completed some level of schooling.

mic wernej via Flickr

mic wernej via Flickr

I know and love a lot of people who are graduating this month. As a bossy older sister and blog writer (double whammy), I feel obligated write some big words to match this big moment.  Unfortunately, occasions like this make me realize how inadequate my words are. Especially when finals week has just ended, and I have been stripped of everything poetic and reminded that I know pretty much nothing.

But, my people, I want to leave you something. You all have touched my life, and I want to leave you something potentially touching in return. I want you to know that I love you all and I am thinking a lot about you as your life moves onwards and upwards, even if I don’t say it out loud.

So I’ll give you one of the few things I know for sure (I think) right now: I truly believe that nobody knows what they’re doing.

This is the sum of everything I’ve learned in college. (My tuition dollars at work, people.) For the last four years, almost everyone I knew started 2,000 word papers the night before they were due. Everyone sleepwalked through finals week, barely hanging on to their sanity. Everyone saw how long they could go without doing laundry. Everyone felt the thrilling tension between “I’m independent and free!” and “Wow, being an adult sucks.” Basically, nobody knew what they were doing.

I’m taking a wild guess that that doesn’t change as we start to move into the “real” world. Everyone wants fulfillment but has no idea how to find it. Everyone is scared that their friendships will change and they’ll be lonely and left behind. Everyone has worries about failure boiling in the backs of their minds. We each sport our own brand of brokenness, wackiness, and wonderfulness.

This gives you all kind of freedom. Be honest when you’re stressed and terrified, and you’ll find that other people are stressed and terrified too. Show people the real-life you behind your glossy status updates. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s glossy status updates – they have a grittier, messier version of themselves, too. Remember that we’re all in this together, and sing the High School Musical song for good measure – don’t pretend you don’t know all the words.

Nobody knows what they’re doing, and we’re all going to be fine.

To those graduates who know me well, you have full permission to not believe a word I say. You know first-hand how I personally have no idea what I’m doing and have no grounds to give advice to anyone. To all graduates, regardless of whether you know me or listen to me, I wish so many good things for you going forward. Good things include but are not limited to: full nights of sleep, strong hugs, shoes that are both comfortable and cute, abounding energy, waffle fries, and unlimited trust in the Lord. Blessings as you go out and rock the world.

April (2015)

April. proper noun. The month in which the weather sometimes cooperates, and my planner explodes because life goes bonkers, and I resist the temptation to buy swimsuits.

Original photo by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr

Original photo by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr

Reading

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton. All of Kate Morton’s books kind of blend together for me, since they’re all mysteries with episodic flashbacks, but I did enjoy this one a lot. The story of a daughter unraveling her mother’s life had a few unexpected twists, and my sister had to assure me that everything worked out okay when I got too emotionally invested.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson. I laughed/snorted out loud while reading this unconventional memoir. Especially at the part where her father turns a dead squirrel into a puppet. If you’re not sensitive or squeamish about stories about roadkill, you’ll enjoy it. Just be warned that she’s crass and has salty language.

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison. We sped through this book in a week for my American Lit class, and honestly, I still don’t understand quite all of this story of creating identity and working through racial issues. It was a fascinating story, though, and the nameless narrator’s descriptions of racial tensions were surprisingly relevant. A word of caution: the story is also a little ambiguous and deep if you don’t have the brilliant Dr. Jones helping you make sense of it.

The Irrational Season – Madeline L’Engle. This woman is incredible. This book, organized by the seasons of the church calendar, is no exception. The random poems in this one aren’t my thing, and I don’t entirely agree with her theology, but she writes about spirituality like no one else.

The Princess Bride – William Goldman. I’m halfway through this, and it’s utterly delightful, like a slow-motion tour through the movie. Buttercup is far flaky than in the film, which makes her interactions with Westley even more entertaining.

Watching

Guardians of the Galaxy. Kind of. I was mostly internetting while my siblings watched, but I did realize that Chris Pratt will forever and always be Andy Dwyer in my head and that I do love him, in the same way you love a goofy little brother.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which was quirky and too short (only 13 episodes? Come on.)

I’ve fallen off the Gilmore Girls bandwagon and have turned to Friends instead. I’m currently at the beginning of season 2 and ticked off about how long it’s taking for Ross and Rachel to get together.

The new Cinderella (again). No shame.

Listening

TED Radio podcasts. I get bored with my workout playlist on long runs, so I listen to interviews with people like the love scientist (apparently that’s a real thing) behind Match.com and a Pixar screenwriter instead. They’re fascinating.

Most played songs:

  • If You Ever Want to Be in Love – James Bay
  • Billion – Mat Kearney
  • Honey, I’m Good – Andy Grammar
  • Geronimo – Sheppard
  • The Cinderella score. Again, no shame. It’s a gorgeous background for doing homework.

Loving

This video is inspiring for unlikely athletes like myself.

Ghiradelli brownie mix. It’s the best $2 I’ve spent recently.

Cassey Ho’s workouts kick butt – and if you’ve ever heard her talk a hundred miles a minute while you’re collapsed on your yoga mat in pain, you know that this girl is in shape. So this video is heartbreaking and calls out a very real issue on the Internet.

This post about teaching scares me. I’m so concerned that I’ll be saying the same thing a few years from now.

Mac and cheese with salsa. TRY IT. I’ve loved it ever since reading the Sammy Keys mysteries in middle school, and it’s time I shared this wisdom with the world. Bonus points if you buy Annie’s mac and cheese.

This post is great perspective with the finals week of doom approaching.

Doing

Easter break. I kind of learned how to drive a stick in my brother’s new-to-him car and took lots of attractive pictures.

What a gem. An accurate gem.

What a gem of a photo. An accurate gem.

In which we all pretend to be normal.

In which we all pretend to be normal.

A Scotty McCreery concert as a belated birthday surprise for my sister. I pulled out the cowboy boots and discovered that Scotty’s even cuter in person.

The dear boy himself

The dear boy himself. Our seats were pretty great.

Biological sister and adopted former-roomie sister, who had the whole surprise concert idea.

Biological sister and former roomie/friend/adopted sister, who initiated the whole surprise concert thing.

The boyfriend came back to MN, and though we only a day and half together, it was full of good things, like my college’s film festival and a picnic at the Sculpture Garden.

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I would say #blessed. But I won’t be that person.

Other film festival friends

My classy film festival friends

All the ResLife: My staff had a professor teach us about spiritual transformation, played Walleyball, spent a weekend hanging out (including watching Mary-Kate and Ashley), and performed a skit for ResLife Challenge together. I love these sweet girls.

Photo borrowed from Facebook.

Photo borrowed from Facebook. Because these girls are too cute not to share.

All the Education stuff: I took three (THREE) MTLEs in the span of seven (SEVEN) days. The good news? I passed all of them and started making friends with the registration lady in all of my hours jumping through the teacher licensing hoops. The bad news? I am now significantly poorer and would like to lead some kind of protest against the expensive nonsense that is standardized testing. I also participated in the Ed Portfolio Showcase, where I talked about all I’d learned in the Education program and showed off some of my lesson plans. And then I registered for student teaching.

Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 10.52.57 AM

Woof. Bring on next fall and the EdTPA.

All the running. I’m up to eight miles at a time (and trying not to think about how running a half-marathon is 5.1 more miles than that). Getting over the seven-mile threshold has been the hardest so far. And all of the skin on my feet is peeling off. Nasty. But my knees and morale are still holding up.

All the assignments. Because it’s almost finals and the year is almost over. What.

All the grown-up stuff: I got a summer job (that required a resume and an interview)! I did not get an apartment. Yet. My roommate and I are researching and praying like crazy.

What were you into this month? Share your thoughts or see what others have been doing by checking out the What I’m Into link-up, hosted by Leigh Kramer.

Okay

Okay. adjective. According to me, saying that something is satisfactory or that you can accept what’s happening.

When life gets you down because it’s a Monday and it’s colder than last week, here’s a thought that will make things seem okay:

You are not in middle school anymore.

Halleluiah, glory day. This should make anyone excited. And if it doesn’t, you’re probably in middle school right now, and I’m sorry. Life gets better.

I’ve been in and out of middle school classrooms for the past few semesters, and I’ve realized a few things. Namely, I am incredibly grateful that leggings weren’t a thing in 2006. Also, that these poor, tortured souls are going through a lot. And that for some reason, I like working with these kids.

Maybe it’s that I know I won’t be any more awkward or uncoordinated than they are. Or that I’m not intimidated by the rowdy boys because I’m at least a foot taller than all of them. Or because I want to tell these kids that it will be okay. One day, they’ll be out of middle school and girls won’t be so demonic and boys will be able to have actual conversations and it will be okay.

I can only imagine that my authority on this would be questioned, like all authority in middle school. Prove it, they’d say. There’s no way you’d understand because you wear cardigans and don’t have Snapchat and are old enough to get married (in theory).

But I can prove it. Here are the stories I would tell. (And the pictures I’d share, because pictures of middle schoolers are worth at least 3,000 words.) If I can survive, so can you.

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It was my birthday. I’d had a girls day, pedicures and shopping, and I got makeup from my friend who knew about such things. That fuschia shiny gloss and the fresh coral sparkle on my toes felt like the epitome of glam. I didn’t know yet that I shouldn’t wear that color brown, that those eyebrows should make friends with a tweezer, that sandals fancier than Old Navy flip-flops existed. Soon it would bother me when I was forced to go bare-faced while other girls in my class had been sporting eyeliner since fifth grade. But it’s okay. One day, my mom will finally let me wear mascara, and no one asked “You don’t have eyelashes, right?” again. (I have been asked that. I do have eyelashes, I swear to Covergirl.) But defined eyes and perfect skin aren’t the key to feeling gorgeous. That takes something more and deeper than makeup.

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This was my first recital with a new piano teacher. I’d just moved beyond the numbered primers into real music, by composers whose names I remembered from the wall in music class. I nervously plucked out songs I never thought I’d be capable of playing. I still numbered every mistake. They proved I wasn’t good enough, just like my braces and that long, messy hair I didn’t know how to deal with and the math scores I didn’t think were high enough. That was a lot of weight to carry. I thought if I’d just try a little harder, I could be perfect. But I couldn’t. And that’s okay. I wish I would have given myself some grace, and let others give me some grace, and let God give me some grace. Sure, I wasn’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t talented and kind and curious and hard-working.

 

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This was my last dance recital. In a few months, I’d have volleyball four nights a week and leave my jazz shoes behind. I wasn’t sad. At dance, I was self-conscious, slouching, the only girl who wasn’t tiny and cute. Even after I left those high-waisted pink pants behind (praise the Lord), I kept fearing that I’d always be the gangly, tall girl on the edge of group photos. That fear came true. I learned to always stand in the middle of photos with short people, but I was not, and will never be, tiny and cute. Instead, I was 6’0″ by seventh grade and heard loud freshman boys comment about my height in the halls. Even ten years later, a woman at a concert stared. She stood in front of me in the post-concert mess, looked me up and down, saw that I wasn’t wearing heels, and nudged her friend to turn around and gawk at the Amazon woman. But it didn’t hurt so much. I smirked and hoped that Scotty McCreery would notice me because I stood above the crowd. (He didn’t. But that sure would have proved her right. And been generally awesome.)

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My dad snapped this after the band concert themed “A Night at an Eighties Prom.” I wanted so badly to look beautiful that night, among all of the high schoolers dressed to the nines. I borrowed a dress that was almost long enough, and my mom’s friend said I looked like Cinderella. I didn’t quite believe her. After all, even though I was the only female in a section full of boys, they never seemed to notice me. (In hindsight, this shouldn’t have been a surprise. The trombone is not a sexy instrument.) They wouldn’t seem to notice me for a very long time. That was okay. Middle school boys were dumb. High school boys were possibly dumber. It took most of the way through college for me to feel like things might come out all right. But they did. Just give it time.

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I tossed on my dad’s old sweatshirt because the day we launched rockets in the playground was cold and crummy. I had no idea I’d go to college there, years later. There was a world waiting that I couldn’t have imagined, one where I didn’t have to go to bed at the same time as my six-year-old brother and where I wouldn’t have to add black olives to the spaghetti sauce I cooked and where I’d discover that I might want to teach awkward, gangly middle schoolers someday. And where I’d still wear that same sweatshirt. And still need to be reminded sometimes that it will be okay.

March (2015)

March. proper noun. The month of St. Patrick’s Day, spring break for college kids (halleluiah), weather that is frequently disappointing, my sister’s birthday, and basketball madness.

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into and up to this month. Head to her site if you’re curious how other bloggers have spent March, too!

Reading

This month started out as a weird reading month for me. A summary of my activity…

Didn’t finish:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon. The story follows two cousins who write comic books while one of the men tries to rescue his Jewish family from Europe as the Nazis take over. For some reason, I just couldn’t get into this one, even though it comes highly recommended and the writing itself is well done. Maybe it was my reading it in stunted 15-minute snatches while traveling, or the way Chabon would start chapters with brand-new characters who wouldn’t fit into the overall story until a few pages later. At any rate, this goes on the bottom of the maybe-try-again-later pile.

Finished:

Looking for Alaska – John Green. Leave it to John Green to get me back into the “I love books!” mindset. He has insight into the adolescent mind like no one else. I devoured this story of a boy at boarding school who falls in love with a moody girl named Alaska. Warning: PG-13 for sex, booze, and language.

Working on:

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton. Like all of her other stories, it’s a winding tale of secrets and intrigue told in multiple perspectives. It’s fun.

The Irrational Season – Madeline L’Engle. I mostly want to be her best friend and have her pour wisdom over my life. Reading a few pages right when I wake up makes getting out of bed easier.

 

Watching

Cinderella. My sister chose this movie for her birthday. It was great fun. The costumes and sets and filming are gorgeous, the prince is dazzling, and the plot is slightly updated from the Disney classic, with enough newness to make it worth watching. My only complaint is that Lily James does a lot of breathy bosom-heaving. We can blame it on the corset.

The 6th season of Parks and Rec. I accidentally finished it on a Friday night (accidentally as in I thought there were 22 episodes in a season, not 20). I was not emotionally prepared for that.

House of Cards. Because there’s no way that I’m going to convince my boyfriend to watch Gilmore Girls with me.

The Great Gatsby. Extravagant and a little hopeless. Best watched with someone who will help you look for symbolism and theme and deeper meaning, or all you will get from it is the enjoyment of staring at Leonardo DiCaprio (though that’s admittedly not a bad thing).

Enchanted. I forgot about how splendid Amy Adams is in this movie. How is she so clueless without being the least bit annoying?

The Prince and Me. Because accidentally falling in love with a prince without leaving the Midwest is completely realistic.

 

Listening

T-Swift – How You Get the Girl

Echosmith – Bright

James Bay – Hold Back the River

The Well Pennies – All My Loving

Bonus: this ragtime version of Thrift Shop. It’s awesome even if you’re over the song.

 

Loving

White Converse. Because I finally can wear shoes that don’t cover my ankles and these go with everything.

This song is meh. But Tom Hanks is the best.

The Prayer of Examen. It’s exactly what I need at the end of the day.

This guest post by Micha Boyett. Because I am too often a frantic monster.

SPRING. I sat outside in shorts and a t-shirt yesterday and the sun actually felt warm. I can’t contain my excitement about this.

 

Doing

Spring break. I split my time between flying to DC to see my boyfriend and driving home to see my family. It was the best of both worlds. Highlights of DC: learning how to use public transportation, seeing the Library of Congress, and getting lots of quality time. Highlights of home: making puppy chow with my mom’s kindergarten class, prom dress shopping with a friend, and watching girly movies (see above).

The Library of Congress. One of the coolest places.

The Library of Congress. One of the coolest places.

Quad 4. Senioritis has hit. The homework motivation has died. Real life kinda sucks after spring break.

Running. I started training for a half-marathon after spring break, and I’m telling everyone about it so I don’t chicken out. I’m only up to 4 miles (as of yesterday!), but running consistently (with a schedule!) has been motivating and endorphin-boosting.

Hanging out with my mom and grandma in the Cities. Cue thrifting and Cinderella-watching.

The continued summer job hunt. More applications are being sent out. An interview is approaching. Prayers are appreciated.

 

What have you been into this month?

Résumé

Résumé. noun. According to Dictionary.com, “A brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.” According to me, “The paper on which I try to make myself sound smart, qualified, and professional. It’s a struggle.”

This is my "Hire me!" face, if you couldn't tell.

This is my “Hire me!” face, if you couldn’t tell.

Lately, I’ve been polishing my resume and sending out applications for summer jobs. Unfortunately, in the interest of being professional, many of my best skills, developed over years of training, had to be left out. It’s quite depressing. Just think what kind of jobs I could have snagged had I been allowed to present potential employers with this, the honest version of my resume:

Education

  • Degrees: Communication Arts and Literature Ed (grades 5-12) and ESL Ed (grades K-12) – Able to stay up really late and appear chipper with small children the next day. Reads lots of YA lit. Remembers maybe 7 words of Mandarin Chinese.
  • Attended small Christian college – Knows big theological words like predestination and transubstantiation. Still doesn’t know what she believes about most issues.
  • Member of the Honors Program – Interested in everything, apparently.
  • Writer for the Examiner (spring 2015) – Sometimes able to be concise.
  • Speech team (spring 2013) – Performs Prose Interpretations without crying or throwing up.
  • Member of the women’s basketball team (2011-2012 season) – Willing to demonstrate the proper way to box out. Able spotter in the weight room. Was once in really good shape.

Work Experience

  • TA for Honors Program and Advanced Grammar – Anal about proofreading other people’s stuff (her own, not quite as much). Spends semesters writing sentences about the adventures of class mascots such as grapefruits named Ruby and koalas named Ace. Knows what a subordinating conjunction is. Good at bulletin boards.
  • Pool manager, swimming lessons instructor, and lifeguard – Can be in the sun from 8 am to 9 pm and not get sunburned. Able to catch small children jumping off the diving board over and over (and over and over and over). Treads water for very long periods of time. Tried really hard to keep accurate accounts, with occasional success. Can yell at that kid, in the blue trunks, hanging on the slide, without knowing his name. Quickly learns the names of troublemakers. Confident enough to wear a swimsuit and towel to the grocery store after work.
  • Assistant Resident Director – Loves her staff. Knows how many lamps it takes to make a classroom appear cozy. Patient attender of meetings.
  • Resident Assistant – Able to plan allllll the events. Takes irrational pride when her residents become friends. Can decorate an entire hall for $50.

Additional Experiences and Skills

  • Maintains personal blog using WordPress – Good at finding “productive” ways to procrastinate. Willingly reads lots of other blogs for inspiration.
  • Completed research in collaboration with professors – Can accomplish an amazing amount the night before a meeting.
  • Has nice handwriting.
  • Follows schedules to the letter.
  • Just learned how to add the accents over the e’s in “résumé.”
  • Able to put together a resume that looks nicer and is better organized than this one (hopefully). Whether it lands some employment for the summer is yet to be determined.

Now

Now. adverb. According to Dictionary.com, “At the present time or moment.”

caesararum via Flickr

caesararum via Flickr

We stop in front of the dorm, its boxy windows glowing. Hazard lights ahead of us blink. I need to get out of the car. Now. I stretch six hours of kinks from my legs, unbend knees, pop trunk. My body releases. My mind doesn’t. For the first time since freshman year, I don’t want to be back.

Spring break slipped by like fading light. I flew to DC in a snowstorm, found hugs and long conversations and feet sore from walking miles of sidewalk. Over the weekend, the snow melted and my heart warmed to the city, history threaded with modern Metro lines and selfie sticks. Then after a flight and a drive, I was home, to cheesy movies and late nights and a church with people who had prayed me through bad weather. It was familiar, the grain elevator a gray, boxy monument to sprawling life with no stoplights.

And then I returned to school and classes and a campus that shifts without me. Now unknown faces form mad lines for coffee before chapel. I am one of the nameless seniors, drifting purposefully between class and work and meetings in patterns I’ve learned to scurry over seven semesters. As we cross the apex of spring semester of senior year, three classes left between me and student teaching, I am Roadrunner, sprinting fast over cliff edges. I’ve been running, surviving, for so long that I don’t realize when my feet hit thin air. My time has run out. Now, I look at the camera with wide-eyed questions. In a moment, I will begin to drop.

The flash of four years is nearly over. Sitting in classes where the clock ticks, in dry chapel talks, I want it to be done. The glassy bubble of a Christian college was first comforting. Now it confines. So do textbooks and assignments typed late at night. My knowledge wants to flex and find roots in real life and real people. I think I’m ready for the real world to bring it.

On a Friday night that hints of spring, I go to a concert where my friend is a featured soloist. She is stunning. After the final bows, while we wait in a back hallway, her mom says hi, gives me a hug, and mentions how it’s all ending, how there’s only one concert left where I’ll see my friend in the front row with the flutes. I blink. It’s ending. Not just classes. My normal for friendships and weekend plans and daily life will also end. Somehow I forgot that part. I am stuck between impatience and anxiety and excitement and fear. I think I’m prepared to move on. Then I think harder and I am not so sure.

So I have choices. I can try to fast-forward through long weeks until summer. I can get sentimental over pictures of good ol’ days and refuse to hope in bright future ones. I can stop typing and head to Netflix to not think at all.

Or. I can decide that I am here, now, and not flake out. I can still have time to walk to class with friends and love on my staff and get something out of class and pass my MTLEs and land a good summer job. Even if it’s rough, I won’t quit now.

Blessings

Blessings. noun. A bestowment of good, a prayer asking for God’s favor.

It’s been a while since I last posted a blessing to start off the week. Here are the words I need this Monday. Maybe you do, too.

 Rakesh JV via Flickr

Rakesh JV via Flickr

Cold February winds on, inching closer to deadlines and spring break. You are restless. Your chin is breaking out in revenge against pulled-up coat collars. Your motivation is dripping away. In moments of procrastination and boredom, when there’s a break in busyness, you doubt yourself.

This week, as you face another week of hard, full, good life, may you not forget who you are.

You are smart. Even if your tests come back splashed in red or your grades slip too low. Your brain is unique, the hundreds of tiny wires firing and connecting, working hard when no one is watching. No one else sees the world the way you do, with your eyes and your experiences. No one else brings the same brand of wisdom that you have.

You are beautiful. Even if your skin is bumpy and red or your jeans don’t sit right. God made you, forming each cell of your hips and each pore on your nose and each crinkle around your eye. He calls you a holy work of art.

You are talented. Even when the job offers don’t flood in and your skills feel ordinary and brown like dirt. You smile when the world looks crappy, you stir eggs and sugar into something divine, you successfully balance your checkbook, you make kids feel safe. These things feel small. But small doesn’t mean unimportant.

You’re learning to see God in the world around you and savor his gifts. This is good. But sometimes, with outward-focused, beauty-searching eyes, you forget to see the beauty in you. This week, may you see his goodness and unearned grace in yourself, in the shape of your words and the curve of your shoulders and the slant of your handwriting. May you rejoice in the ways he’s gifted you and whispers to the world through you. May you remember that he is using you, body, mind, and soul, to shape his kingdom.

Blessings on your week, friend.

Love

Love. noun. Depending on who you ask, it is a many splendored thing, all you need, in the air, or an open door. Take your pick.

via Coltree

via Coltree

One October night, I sat crankily in night class. Mondays were a long, full start to the week. I felt alone. My professor brought a bag of Dove chocolate to motivate us, the methods students who were barely treading water and barely interested in grammar at 6:24 at night. I took two, tasted dark sweetness, smoothed a crinkled wrapper. Open your eyes to the love around you, it said.

Open your eyes to the love around you.

This wrapper sticks on my desk, months later, next to a post-it of prayer requests and a card from my grandma. I needed those words that night, when weariness and an absence of new texts spoke louder than truth.

I need it this week, too, when pink and red overtake Target and hand-holding couples exponentially multiply, when it’s easier than ever to feel alone.

I know, cognitively, that I am loved. But I don’t always feel it. My brain and heart are needy. They crave affirmation and slips towards doubt when silence stretches too long. They struggle with faith, in God and in friends. They want bold, obnoxious proclamations, the stuff of movie monologues and Valentine’s Day commercials.

Open your eyes.

This Valentine’s Day, I don’t wish for more love, more friends, a more serious relationship. I don’t need elaborate, romantic surprises or public displays of affection.

I need eyes to see all the love that is already around me.

Sometimes this love is hard to spot in daily life’s routines. It doesn’t wear sequins. It is ordinary, solid. It is the stuff of Monday nights and sweatshirts and leftovers for supper. It looks like phone calls from end lounges, emails on Sunday evenings, Skype dates instead of homework. It sneaks into massage trains during meetings and Ziploc bags of homemade cookies and last-minute lunch dates. It whispers over heaven-sent snowfall, fresh glitter over the ground.

I want to remember these real, small gifts when the weeks drag on and I sit too long in quiet rooms. I need to hold them, feel their weight in my palm, see their significance.

I am not alone. I am not unloved.

And neither are you.

This week, may our eyes be opened to the love around us, and may our hearts and souls be filled.

January (2015)

January. proper noun. The first month of the year, characterized by New Year’s Resolutions and fresh starts and an absence of Christmas tunes.

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I’m ending the first month of 2015 by linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into. After taking a break in December and January (because life. And emotions.), I realized that I like collecting the stuff I’ve loved over the month. Maybe someone will enjoy reading it, too.

Reading

The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton. Kate Morton’s books always take me a little while to get into, but once I’m hooked, I like them a lot. This book pieces together the stories of an a woman searching for her family, her story-seeking granddaughter, and a mysterious Authoress. It’s hard to keep the stories straight at first, but this seemingly innocent puzzle hides darker intrigue that keeps you reading.

Yes Please – Amy Poehler. I got this book from my sister for Christmas (thanks, doll!) and gulped down half of it by December 26. Amy is hilarious and honest as she tells stories about her family and life in comedy. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing about loving yourself and any time she talked about her boys. However, I started this half-expecting it to be an autobiography of Leslie Knope. It’s not. Amy swears a lot and is more open to drugs. But if you’re okay with some profanity and non-traditional values, I think it’s still worth reading.

Julie and Julia – Julie Powell. This is the real story behind the Julie and Julia movie. Julie is an angst-ridden, directionless woman who cooks her way through Julie Child’s The Art of French Cooking. She’s dramatic and swears at her failed dishes and falls to pieces a lot, but it’s strangely fun to read about. Also, her husband is a saint.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Laurie King. These mysteries chronicle the adventures of Mary Russell, a teenager adopted by Sherlock Holmes as an apprentice. It sounds cheesy, but the books are so full of believable characters and good writing and suspense that they don’t ever read like cheap add-ons to a classic. Case in point: the first time I read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was by the light of a book light on the way home from a far-away high school basketball game. The trip was taking forever because of a blizzard, but I didn’t notice because my nose was stuck so deeply in the book. I had forgotten enough of the story that the second reading proved just as captivating.

A Circle of Quiet – Madeline L’Engle. This book has become my reading right when I wake up. It’s reflective and calming, and I appreciate L’Engle’s accessible thoughts on failure and relationships and what it means to be a human.

I’m trying to read more consistently, even while I’m at school. So far it’s working.

 

Watching

Parks and Rec. As usual. I’m almost done with the 5th season and am approaching the 6th with trepidation because I don’t want it to be over. I’m also fighting the urge to start watching Friends and rewatching New Girl. Because I am a responsible adult who does not spend her entire life watching Netflix.

The Importance of Being Earnest. Sure, maybe this movie wouldn’t be what Oscar Wilde intended, but it does include the best one-liners and quirky plot twists of two men claiming to both be a character named Earnest. It also has Colin Firth and a young Reese Witherspoon.

Divergent. Though I didn’t think I could handle the intensity of this movie (and I’ll admit, I focused very hard on my knitting at some points), I enjoyed watching it. Mostly because I was with girls I love. And because of Four, obviously.

Notting Hill. This one comes up on the Netflix movies recommended for me all the time, so I thought I’d finally try it. After all, how bad could a Julia Roberts movie be? Not bad at all, as it turns out. Hugh Grant is bumbling and adorable, which sweetens this unlikely romance of a London bookseller who falls in love with an American actress. Bonus: spotting a young Lord Grantham from Downton sans servants and suitcoat.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. My favorite flick of the month. A homeless, unemployed spinster snags a job as a social secretary for a flighty songbird juggling three lovers and three different career paths. Amy Adams steals the show with those huge, naïve, adorable eyes and ability to be a complete flirt without being obnoxious. Utterly delightful.

Valentine’s Day. Fun, but a movie only acceptable for a girl’s night. The best part is how awkward Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner are.

 

Listening to

Us the Duo. So much. Especially this song.

Oh Honey. I’m particularly fond of “I Love You Will Still Sound the Same.”

Meghan Trainor. The whole Title album is on Spotify. I listen to it too often.

Maroon 5’s “Sugar.” The music video is fun, too.

“Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj, for some inexplicable reason.

 

Into

I don’t know if asking these questions would make me fall in love with any random stranger, but they might spark good conversation.

Cognac riding boots. I jumped on the bandwagon and got them for Christmas. I love them.

This article, which proves what I’ve known all along about writing.

This list of intriguing cultural concepts that I want to adopt.

The not-that-cold January weather. It’s confusing but I’m not going to complain.

This collection of things Minnesotans are too nice to brag about. Especially the hockey hair video.

Writing letters, the old-fashioned snail mail way.

This video that proves in old-fashioned Technicolor Disney painters can actually, you know, paint. Narrated by Walt Disney himself. Starts slow, but gets fascinating.

Up to

Ringing in the New Year and doing other Christmas break-ish things like watching my brothers play basketball and making cookies with my grandma.

Starting new classes and adjusting to having a less stressful class load (hence the longer list of books read this month).

Learning how to do a long-distance relationship. So far it seems survivable.

Spending good time with my lovely RA staff and being slightly overwhelmed by some new responsibilities (but for really, really good reasons).

 

What are you into this month?