Monday, January 29, 2018

This dinner was made with love...

     It is only 29 days into 2018 and for some reason I feel like I have changed so much. It is not jut me though-everywhere I turn there is a magnetic energy, a vibrancy of life that is daring you to do more, do better, be better. However, within this small bubble of determination and promise that seems to be surrounding me lately I found a sweet sadness-it is like for the first time I am really grasping how temporal this world, and my life in it, truly are.
     In 2018 I have found myself, fairly often, grappling with what I want the rest of my days to look like. Simple, nominal questions become sharp and poignant accusers. And it seems to be in everything that I do. The ease of working in the most beautiful little bookstore I have ever been in, spending weekends (and some weeknights) surrounded by literature, coffee, and a sweet escape from my demanding and busy 9-5 job make me think-"I could do this forever? Bookseller-what a precious title. I feel so content." And then slowly the same old feeling creeps up-could you? Being accepted to graduate school at a prestigious institution. The door has been opened for independent, powerful research making the way for me to reach the next echelon of society-this must be what I need. But then the question echoes in my mind "for what true purpose?"
     I have been programmed, or perhaps simply convinced, by this ever present societal innovation that every decision I make has to be made with the intention of gaining more clout, more wealth, more fame, more power. Every degree, wardrobe choice, workout, and instagram post, has to make me the envy of others, the must invite on the party list, the loved and respected and aloof woman across the room. OH AND I NEED TO FLOSS MORE! But, within these carefully crafted decisions and calculations where is the love, joy, and grace. Where is there room for even a little of each of these things?
     No where! No where in these carefully crafted decisions have I left room to cultivate a graceful life. Ambition for oneself and to make the world a better place is fine. Actually I would argue that ambition is imperative to a full life. But, when you stop in the middle of your fourth 67 hour work week in a row and realize the grind is all that is left...whew, how much of my soul will I sacrifice for this lifestyle?
     I think everyone wants to live a life of passion. But in the pursuit of a passionate life I am afraid we have simply squelched our flames. How can you be passionate if you're busy? How can you love if you are preoccupied with your to do list? How can you accept love if you demand perfection? How can you be adventurous if your entire month's calendar is packed? How can you be graceful if you are exhausted?
    As I write this my 2018 mantra is ringing loudly in my ears: "The battle for your heart is fought on the pages of your calendar" {Bob Goff} and oh how my battle has been waged.
This weekend, for the first time in over a year, my eyes were open, the dust cleared, my exhausted spirit breathed-and, not surprising to some, it was all done in the kitchen whipping up some made from scratch with lots of love meals. A dear friend of mine had surgery on Friday and I told her I would take her dinner when she got home from the hospital. Friday rolled around and all I could do was grumble about how busy I was. I kept thinking about how much I loved her but that I should just pick up take out and take it over there instead of cooking a meal. She is a sweetie and she knows I work all the time, she wouldn't care. Then her boyfriend texted me-there had been surgical complications and her little in and out surgery was turning into an inpatient overnight affair. My heart stopped. How could I place my calendar about my friend? I did not even feel guilty about it at first!  How could I have thought that take out was the answer? When did caring and serving and love my friends become just another thing to mark off my to do list? The next day as I stood in the kitchen preparing a chicken and asparagus dish I silently prayed for it to be sprinkled with love, and to never become so selfish again. When I arrived at her house and hugged my friend I was hit with the realization of how me centric my life was becoming.
     But, oh how easily we forget the lessons of life. Because in the same weekend I had to learn the lesson again. Sunday night I was having my entire 20 person group of friends over for brunch (for dinner-it is like breakfast for dinner but sounds fancier). As I stood in the kitchen at 1:00 am on Saturday night after working all day and knowing I would have to get up early to work again, a storm rolled on in my heart. The battle was once again waged. I found myself complaining of all the work it took to make these homemade quiche, why was I even doing this, what was the purpose? I should be resting I have so much to do this coming week, I have to travel for work multiple times this month, what is going on, why did I invite everyone over in the first place?
     I did not clear that bad attitude until about an hour after everyone arrived. I was sitting on the floor watching my friends eat and laugh and talk. Old friends catching up, new friends being made, quiche being devoured, and suddenly a soft contentment spread over my body-similar to the warmth from my first sip of coffee. In this room was more love than I could ever express. More late night conversations, more belly laughs than some people have in a lifetime. More hours of celebration over accomplishments, and more days spent scheming to see each other have successes. More book recommendations, debatable topics, sweet listening moments, and warm hugs when they were desperately needed than most people get in an entire lifetime. For the first time in a long time I felt content.
     I thought of all the moments in 2017 that were robbed of me because of busy or expectation. I thought of all the stress and tears and resentment I had wasted. I have decided it has been more than enough. For me 2018 is about grace. Grace for myself and grace for others. It is about taking the time to facetime my niece when all she wants to do is run around with me on the phone not even really talking just playing, it is about sitting still in the morning with my coffee instead of scrolling incessantly through the news to see what I missed the day before, it is about kneading love into every made from scratch scone and asking my friends "how are you" and listening intensely to the reply. 2018 is about being still. And still is exactly what I am going to be, for a little while at least. There will be a time later this year when my soul has settled when it is time for me to fight again, to work, to be buys. But for now I am going to savor the moments of contentment that come from true expressions of love (homemade, gluten free quiche anyone?)-even if I should start flossing some more.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Why I bought a cactus that says "I thrive on neglect" on the label...

Hey you, yes you, tugging at your pencil skirt with blurry eyes looking over that memo one last time. I see you and I feel you. It is hard being a woman in your 20s. The media, our parents, facebook, and certain instagram accounts told us that this would be the time of our lives: climbing the corporate ladder, becoming independent and stable, exploring the world around us.

It is the time to be witty and charming and fearless but instead you feel like if you do not have one more cup of coffee your snarkiness level will envelope everyone in a 100 mile radius.  You are really learning what you are up against outside of the safety of your university. You are seeing the glass ceilings, you are making hard choices, you are keeping your chin up when you feel like cowering at the table.

If you are like me your 20s are probably filled with more questions than answers. This is not the time in your life for the nice house and minivan. This is the time in your life for easy mac and thrift stores. For splurging on that gym membership so you can fit into your clothes because you cannot afford to buy new ones. Sometimes you hit roadblocks. Some people tell you that you are young and naive and you do not understand. Others want to know why you aren't jumping at every opportunity saying you should know more than the previous generations.

Some think you are too progressive in your ideology and you do not understand how the world turns. Others think you must be crazy to be so conservative saying you will miss out on the important things in life. The number of places you still want to see in the world is almost as large as the number on your student loan payment. The list of books you need to read is collecting dust on your shelf but your passion to be well rounded keeps nagging at you that you should read at least one chapter tonight even if you have to have one more cup of coffee to make it happen. You cannot get away from the barrage of news updates because you have to be in the loop. You have to know what is happening, not just in your country but in the world-the economist, New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, maybe a few more.  

You do not know how some people can be so ignorant then you look at your diploma and wonder what you even learned in all those classes. You lust for adventure, you crave stability. You feel like you might possibly implode just worrying about yourself yet you demand a more just world for those you have not even met.

If this sounds like you then I think you are doing it right.

For the last few weeks I felt like like I am being crushed by a heavy weight. I have wondered why everything that seemed so bright right out of college now seems so daunting. I have faced setbacks and had some great times. I have laughed until my lungs burned and cried at 8 in the morning because I couldn’t find my bra-and I think that is ok.

I have friends who are figuring it all out; they are married (or getting there), they have a career, and, a few of them, even have children...on purpose. I, on the other hand, have a cactus that I was very attracted to because it said “I thrive on neglect” across the pot and that is the kind of positivity I need in my life right now. I constantly wonder what is wrong with me.

Just recently, almost one full year removed from walking across that stage under the Carolina blue sky, decided what the next step will look like. And that step will take me 3-5 more years and then there will be another step that I cannot see yet. Sometimes that annoys me so badly I want to throw my neglected cactus but I also find it real and raw and that is what I have always wanted, a raw life.

The 3-5 year plan, or heck in my case right now the 3-5 month plan, is perfectly ok. It is a chance for adventure, it is a chance for healing, it is a chance to meet one new person, try one new food, live in one new place, learn one new thing. And it sometimes it SUCKS, ROYALLY, but that is part of the fun too.

Someday when you are eating a fully nutritious diet with plenty of colors on your plate, looking over soccer schedules, work agendas, car payments, and new life insurance policies you might just laugh and call up your friend saying, “Remember that time we ate mac and cheese for a month to make rent and filled up jugs of water from work so we could keep our water bill down?” And, I honestly truly believe, those will be the nights you remember.

So, for now, you are killing it. Even if you do not feel like you are because your 20s are a time of transition. They are saving up all season for one weekend on the ski slopes. They are sleeping in a tent to get to see that concert because you cannot afford a hotel. They are thinking taco bell is a great date night.

So, wear that red lipstick a little too boldly on Friday night, read the memo and extra time before you send it to your boss, cut yourself some slack if you haven't read every Herman Melville novel yet, and let your roaring 20s hear you roar back.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why I insist on calling it a Muslim Ban...36 hours of research later...

            I was not going to write anything about it, mostly because this blog was not meant to be a political commentary. But, when people who claim to be educated individuals insisted on reposting the horrendous National Review Article “Separating Facts From Hysteria” and when people in the church started singing the praises of blocking innocent people for their own safety I could not be quiet any longer. I am not an expert in this but, like any American who holds their rights dear, I did my research and this is my conclusion/information based on hours of reading.

Why do we insist on calling it a Muslim Ban?
            I believe that this is the most pressing question to consider. Many people in the media, academia, political arena, and everyday life insist on calling this a Muslim ban and not a travel ban because that is what the facts point to. From the beginning of his campaign, president Trump insisted he would impose some sort of Muslim ban and this executive order begins to set the stage for that ban to be implemented. In section 5 b of the executive order it states:
Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.  Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization (Emphasis mine).
The countries exclusively mentioned (however not in the executive order those had to be clarified later) are predominantly Muslim countries. This minority exception opens the doorway for Christians and Yazidis to flee the country but not Muslims fleeing the same kind of oppression and persecution. I would like to remind you that ISIS is just as much an enemy of Islam as it is of America.
            Let’s just take a look at Syria. According to the CIA World Fact book Syria’s religious break down looks like this: “Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo).” When looking at the other countries we see very similar patterns. This means that while some have minority classification needed to escape war, terror, and poverty, the vast majorities in these countries do not.
            It is hard to view this as a travel ban based on safety when it seems to be clearly divided by Muslim vs. everyone else. Not calling this a Muslim ban, as a historian I truly respect pointed out this morning, is like saying the literacy test under Jim Crow in the 40s-60s were not about race. They might not explicitly state they target African Americans but the numbers, the history, and the application does-just like this executive order.

This is for national security:
            Sigh.  I know the idea of jihad is super scary. But the facts just do not point to the necessity of this kind of ban. According to Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, “Nationals of the seven countries singled out by Trump have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015.” ZERO. He goes on to state that “Over the last four decades, 20 out of 3.25 million refugees welcomed to the United States have been convicted of attempting or committing terrorism on U.S. soil, and only three Americans have been killed in attacks committed by refugees—all by Cuban refugees in the 1970s.” For those of you that hate math that means that in 40 years only .000000006% of refugees admitted to the United States have successfully committed violent crimes.
                  Actually according to a report from the National Consortium for the study of terrorism and the response to terrorism “3,066 Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks from 9/11/2001 through 12/31/2014, including perpetrators and excluding deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
·      2,961 of these deaths occurred on American soil.
·      2,902 of these deaths occurred during the attacks on September 11, 2001. “
This report means that only 59 deaths occurred in the United States due to terrorism in 13 years with the exception of 9/11. However, none of the 9/11 hijackers were from the selected countries.
            Let’s look at it another way really fast then I promise I will move on. From 1975 to 2015 in the state of North Carolina ALONE had 23,662 murders (none of them in acts of terrorism). That is 23,603 more deaths in ONE state (one small state not even looking at states that have large cities like Chicago or New York) than in all the terrorism acts (excluding 9/11) combined in the same years (Stats on violence in the state of North Carolina from The Disaster Center Crime Index).

Have you forgotten 9/11?
            No, I have not. And neither have the other millions of Americans who agree this is ridiculous. The Cato institute points out that “The 9/11 attacks were carried out by 19 men—from Saudi Arabia (15), the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt (1), and Lebanon (1). The incident remains influential in how Americans think about the nature of terrorism; Trump’s executive order cites 9/11 as a prime example of the U.S. visa process catastrophically breaking down.” The countries selected do not make sense. Why are Saudi Arabia and Egypt (both countries Trump has over 11 business deals in) not on this list if he truly cares about safety?
            Just a side note refugees go through a rigorous vetting process before being admitted to the country. If we were going to put our time and resources into anything it would be strengthening the resources at the state departments disposal to improve vetting times/accuracy even though it has already proven pretty good.

“President Obama and congress agreed on these countries:”
            I am sorry but that is not true. First, president Obama has released a statement that this is an egregious violation of the first amendment. Second, these are countries that were deemed “countries of concern.” A country of concern is somewhere an American citizen should not vacation. Why? Because places like Somalia and Syria are what the state department deems as “failed states.” The same reason that Americans should not take a summer vacation to these places is the same reason that refugees are running out of them.

Jihadist are celebrating this:
            Maybe you think I am a bleeding heart liberal but leading conservatives, such as John McCain, have pointed out the dangers of this type of policy. Also, there is a major dissent going around the DOJ claiming that the executive order was hasty, ill advised, and dangerous. These are not people who should just shut up and do their jobs; these are people who have dedicated their lives to understanding the nuances of these issues.
            Senator McCain states: “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”
            Jihad and ISIS are not dissenting political or religious fractions instead they are extremist ideologies. The war against jihad cannot be fought with brute force-strategy and diplomacy must also be employed. ISIS main tactic is to seduce ambivalent Muslims into the belief that the western world hates Islam and as such hates Allah. By isolating and exacerbating the already growing tensions with careless moves like this the number of ISIS fighters rises.
As pointed out by Joby Warrick on January 29: “Robert Richer, a 35-year CIA veteran and former chief of the agency’s Near East division, said the ban was a “strategic mistake” that could undermine future efforts to recruit spies and collect vital information about terrorists and their plans. How, he asked, can CIA officers persuade Iraqi and Syrian nationals to risk their lives to help the United States?
“This was a win for jihadists and other anti-U.S. forces,” said Richer, the deputy chief of the agency’s Operations Directorate during the George W. Bush administration. “It fuels the belief out there that Americans are anti-Islam. Otherwise, it accomplishes nothing, because the ones we are most concerned about can still get to the United States.””
            So yes, I care very deeply about what ISIS thinks/the power they have. I care that when we send our 18-year-old men and women overseas to fight a war that they have every advantage possible and they are not walking into a slaughterhouse set in motion by the fulfillment of a shallow campaign promise.

“Those people do not want to come here they want to go home”
            This is a true statement in a lot of cases (even if you mean it in a hateful way). Many refugees would prefer to go home but unfortunately most of their homes are not there. Trump has ordered that all foreign treatises and aid not dealing with defense be halted and evaluated. So-we are not going to help them here and we are not going to help them there? Do we just leave them in settlements and compounds to starve? Syrians cannot return to Aleppo right now…sooooo suggestions? Many reports point out that camps and compounds are a breeding ground for extremist ideologies-we cannot just leave people sitting there waiting forever.

This is a pure constitutionalist worst nightmare:
            Just remember that if you begin to make exceptions for the first amendment for you and your followers it can be turned against you with existing precedent in the courts. That is a slippery slope to go down. Even the Southern Baptist Convention has voiced its concerns: We understand the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department, State Department, Department of Defense, and National Security Council legal counsel were not adequately consulted before the implementation of the order. We join with Southern Baptist Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), who stated, “This executive action has some unintended consequences that were not well thought out.”

I am sure I am missing some major arguments but for now this is what I have to offer the ongoing debate. If you claim to be a Christian you are called to be compassionate towards Muslims, Jews, Greek, Christians, atheist, rich, poor, refugee, citizen, white, black, Asian, Syrian, American, Iranian, everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why, as a Christian woman, I can no longer be silent about Donald Trump

DISCLAIMER: I am not saying you have to agree with me nor am I questioning your relationship with Christ if you do not. This is just food for thought from one lady.

I will begin by saying that if you are not a Christian, this post really isn’t to you and these opinions will be unpopular for different reasons. But I already know that this is an incredibly unpopular decision among evangelical Christians: to speak out against the Republican nominee. But, I can honestly say I am ashamed of what this election has done to our witnesses, churches, and our communities. Unfortunately, I know that many of you have already tuned me out. You have written me off as a left-leaning liberal. You think I am looking to start a fight, or I do not care about my country, the constitution, or my freedoms. But, it is because I care deeply about my country, constitution, and freedoms that I can no longer be silent. The one thing that “trumps” these deep convictions of mine are my desire to be the light in a dark world--my desire to show people who are hurting, who are in pain, who are forgotten, who are shamed, who are dirty, who are broken that they are loved deeply by a God who sees them and cares for them.  
            I had decided to remain silent about this election. To silently cast my vote on November 8 but, unfortunately, I no longer feel like that is an option. I have had people tell me that by voting third party, or write in, that I am throwing away my vote and I should be ashamed. I have had people tell me I am not a real Christian because of it. But after prayer and deep thought for months about the candidates I can say that my conviction is that neither is a good choice for our country.
(However, I will not address Hillary in this article because unfortunately I have not come under attack from fellow Christians due to my not being her biggest fan).

And here is why:

Trump’s stance on minorities:          
  • ·      “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
  • ·      “Laziness is a trait in blacks.”

He told America that almost an entire group of people were rapists and drug dealers AND that the color of one’s skin indicates work ethic. Just to throw this in there: there is literally no biological, criminal, or accurate evidence to support that, but who cares what I think?
  • ·      Hebrews 13: 2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers because some in this way have entertained angels unawares.”
  • Zechariah 7:9-10 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
  • ·      Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no greater commandment than these.”

  • ·      Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
  • ·      Romans 10: 12-13 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  • ·      Acts 10: 34-35 “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Me: I am not advocating for open boarders. Nor am I saying that we should not have a vetting process for immigration or that we should do away with our criminal justice system. All of these systems are mandatory to maintain law and order in a very distraught country--but that is an entirely different blog post. I will say this: as the daughter of a pastor and former law enforcement officer I am proud of our flag and would never disrespect that. But, what I encourage people to consider is that Trump does not just say “we need stricter immigration standards” or “people who shoot people should go to jail.” Trump plays on people’s fears of difference. He is causing those of us who should be color, ethnic, nationality, and gender blind to hate and fear people-isolating them from our lives, our churches, and our ministries. I cannot support that. As Christians, we should see one kind of people: a carefully crafted individual, made in the image of God, and loved beyond comprehension or reason SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN. That is what a Christian is called to be.

Trumps view of women:
  • ·      “If Hillary cannot satisfy her husband what makes you think she can satisfy America?”
  • ·      “I can grab women by the p****”

Seriously? As men who claim to want to protect their wives and women in general, and women who claim they care for their bodies "as a temple", you are okay with this?
  • ·      Proverbs 31: 30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the lord is to be praised.”
  • ·      Ephesians 5:22-23 “…husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church…”

Me: Do you really think you are loving other women, yourself, or the next generation of children by saying that something this foul and explicit is just “locker room talk.” Do we really want a lewd, crude, immoral man before the next generation of men and women telling them that violence against women is okay? Or, that all we have to offer the world as a female is our looks? I certainly don’t.

Trump’s view on poverty (this is also in his tax plan that really only benefits the top 1%):
  • ·      "My entire life, I've watched politicians bragging about how poor they are, how they came from nothing, how poor their parents and grandparents were. And I said to myself, if they can stay so poor for so many generations, maybe this isn't the kind of person we want to be electing to higher office. How smart can they be? They're morons."

  • ·      Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”
  • ·      1 John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?”
  • ·      Luke 6: 20-21 “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
  • ·      Luke 3:11 “and he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
  • ·      Proverbs 14: 21 “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.”

Me: I am not advocating for the welfare state, nor am I saying the government should provide everything, that the working class should be taxed heavily, or that we should let people be lazy. But, what I am saying is this, how can you tell someone you love him or her and then believe that everyone on welfare is a criminal? How can you see a broken world and tell them it is obviously their own fault? That was not God’s mindset; why is it yours, and why are you claiming it is biblical? Do I think the church should be providing for these needs? Yes, but unfortunately we have failed our world. WE have gotten lost in greed and competition and big buildings and twinkling lights. We have lost site of what we are called to do; to go unto ALL the world with the gospel. And MR. TRUMP DOES NOT REPRESENT THE GOSPEL.

In conclusion: I am probably doing a write-in. Unfortunately, I think this presidential election is already a lost cause on multiple levels. I am focusing my efforts on voting in state and local elections now because those are the people we need to make change happen in this mess of a world. I am praying daily for my country. I am praying daily for myself to see the brokenness that exist and the pain that these debates are causing so many. So, yes, I am a bleeding heart. A heart that wants nothing more than to let everyone I meet know that they are important, valued, and cherished. That they are not a mistake, and that someone cares.
So, if you vote for Trump because you think that is honestly the best option--I am ok with that. But, do not slam those around you for thinking differently, because then all you have become is a vessel for hate… and honestly, if I were Satan, I think would think that's the best trick of all.

I also encourage you to read Dr. Daniel Akin, President of Southeast Baptist Seminary, article about this issue here:

Monday, January 4, 2016

My Top 13 "Not Resolutions"

"A new year, a new you" is literally everywhere I look the last few days. Gyms offering half off memberships, banks offering new interest rates, clothing stores having huge sales. I really am struggling with this because as much as I would have liked to have woken up 3 days ago skinnier, smarter, more well rounded, with an adorable outfit and more money in my bank account it simply didn't happen. I didn't even bother to make resolutions this year. It might sound pessimistic but I NEVER KEEP THEM!!! And, I figured, why set myself up for failure at the START of 2016. Instead I did what I do best, I got on pinterest and found some awesome this year I am doing life mottos to live by instead of resolutions for big change. I am going to change my mindset on the little stuff and watch the big stuff happen. So my mottos for the new year....

"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the entire world and there is still going to be someone who doesn't like peaches."
This one became a really big deal to me this past year. I tried to be impressive, I tried to be on top of everything, overly sweet and extremely helpful and no matter what I did I found that I am simply not everyones cup of tea...and in 2016 THAT IS OK!!!! It is ok that not everyone is going to love me or want to be my best friend. That is simply not how life works. My goal for this year is to be true to myself, to be real, to be me and the people who are SUPPOSED to be in my life will be there when this year comes to a close. 

"Stay close to things that make you happy to be alive" 
This past year I had an amazing opportunity to meet a ton of new and exciting people from every walk of life: from congressmen to homeless people in downtown and they each had an interesting story to tell. Unfortunately, in being so intoxicated by the passion and life that they get to lead I lost sight of the things I love and started doing more of what they love or what they do that makes them so successful. While I do think it is a great idea to learn from people who have gone before us who have been successful and live lives full of passion and intrigue we also can't try to morph ourselves into them. I found that I was much happier when I made time to run, to paint, to read, to talk a long night walk around campus, etc...even if no one around me enjoyed it or thought they had time. When I took the time to feed my soul every aspect of my life began to look a lot brighter. 

"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life."
This is a trap that so many people fall into...routine is safe. Routine enables you to live comfortably without ever having to worry about losing it all or the risk involved...routine will destroy you. This year I will take different paths to class, I will try new feeds and different types of coffee, I will swim in the ocean and drive to the beach just to see a sunrise, I will meet new people and read new books that I NEVER would have picked up otherwise...I will break routine and be the enemy of comfort and revel in the little miracles that are waiting to be uncovered when you step off the beaten path.

"Somedays you have to create your own sunshine"
I have seasonal depression so this is a big deal for me...but not just literal sunshine (even though sometimes I do need some serious heat lamp time) but in my mood. Some days are boring and some days are just bad. But, my outlook is in my hands and no one else's. I chose to dance in the puddles instead of complaining about the rain.

"Whatever you are be a good one"
This applies to every aspect of my life this year. Be a good aunt, be a good girlfriend, be a good friend, be a good student, be a good me. I don't have to have some fancy job title or 7 digit bank account to want to excel at every role I hold...and how much different and magical would life be if I gave everything I am my all?

"Find joy in the ordinary"
Even though this year is all about BREAKING routine and trying new things...about doing things that terrify me I am not stupid enough to believe that every single day will be new and different and fabulous and THAT IS OK! I will find joy in the simple smell of my morning coffee as I wait for my first class. I will find joy in the simple "good morning" text I get from my boyfriend, I will find joy in the old brick streets as I walk to class, and the familiarity of the classroom. I will find joy in the way the sunrises and sets and the way my best friend tells me every single thing she learned in class. I will find joy in the simple, everyday occurrences that make this life so beautiful.

"Say yes to new adventures"
This is a big one...this past year I went to California to visit one of the most beautiful women I know, and while there she made me swim in the ocean...and I almost had a panic attack because, well, JAWS. BUT I DID IT!! And I felt so proud of myself right after and I really wanted to do it again...but we went to disney world instead...either way I conquered a fear and felt like a rockstar. I ate a Mexican/Chinese infusion taco on campus, I officially joined the oldest debate society in the country, I MOVED TO DC BY MYSELF WITHOUT KNOWING ANYONE! And so much more. This year started off right when I went to the beach to start the year and did things that were very out of the ordinary for me (put-put anyone?) but my goal for this year is to carry that trend on so that when I scrapbook these adventures I can say "yeah I did that and it was awesome." (or maybe THAT WAS SO STUPID BUT I SURVIVED AND I HAVE A PICTURE TO PROVE IT SO HA! either way...)

"Be curious not judgmental"
This is a big deal at the phase of life I am at. There are so many people around me, from so many backgrounds, so many religions, and so many views and it is really easy for me to hear about something and immediately be like "thats weird, wrong, etc." but this year I want to ask questions and hear the answer and LEARN and love what I learn. I don't have to embrace every idea that comes my way but I do have to be a decent human being about it! Besides, learning new things doesn't mean I am giving in, it could actually strengthen the beliefs and convictions I have.

"When all else fails, take a nap"
Sometimes no matter how much I plan or push or try things just are not going to happen. AND THAT IS OK...I AM GOING TO FAIL IN 2015!!! And that is ok too. Just a reminder that sometimes you do your best and it doesn't pan out but you can always just take a nap and try again in later. (Disclaimer: I also just really like naps)

"What you are complaining about someone else is praying for"
My boyfriend and I went to the beach to start off new year. Well considering it is January in the south it was about 40 degrees at the beach and I am a baby when it comes to being cold. We run into starbucks to get a drink before heading down to the beach to watch the waves crash...when we get our coffee we turn and make a mad dash to the truck and I looked at him and said "This coffee isn't even full this is ridiculous what do I have to do buy a vinti to get as much coffee as used to come in a grande?!" He agrees and then throws in something about how long the line was then took a sip of his coffee "this coffee isn't even hot just barely warm!" We both were having a nice pity party until it hit us and we both said "we sound like them!" Them is a couple that we both know very well and no matter what the situation is there is SOMETHING wrong with it and it is exhausting and gross and exhausting....and exhausting...immediately he said "WE ARE AT THE BEACH!" and I said "and we can afford starbucks coffee in the first place" we both laughed and guess what? Our half empty, luke warm coffees did NOT ruin our day. Actually we had a great time sitting out on the beach and never thought about it again. Life is all about perspective...and this year I plan on having some.

"Would you rather be uncomfortable for 30-60 minutes a day or uncomfortable your entire life?"
I need to work out...even if I don't want to and even if I am never a size 2. I want to be HEALTHY and HAPPY. I want to look in the mirror and be like "I got you girl" instead of "I am so sorry you look and feel like this" and honestly that is all up to me.

"Collect moments, not things"
It is amazing how much we spend on stuff that goes into a closet and never comes out again. OR how much we spend trying to keep up with the latest apple product (iPhone78sss anyone?). And honestly, those things mean so little. I don't think I have ever held a long, interesting conversation with anyone as they told me about all the STUFF they had. I have, however, sat absolutely entranced as people told me of places they had traveled, things they had done, people they had met, and experiences they've accumulated...and that makes for a beautiful life.

"Every day is a chance to change your life"
This is the last one for a reason...I will fail. I will not uphold these some days and I will be frustrated but the fact of the matter is that one day is a small set back. ONE WEEK IS A SMALL SETBACK and it is never to late to say I am changing this now. I don't need to wait for 12:00am January 1, 2017 to try again...I can try again any day I choose.

To make living itself an art, that is the goal.