8 Things I’ve Learned After One Month of Marriage

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been married for one month now. I am somebody’s wife. It’s a little strange when I stop and think about it. But it’s a good strange. At the risk of offending my inner feminist, I’ll say that after being with the same incredible man for almost seven years, I feel like I was born to be his wife.

The first month of our marriage has flown by. The wedding, the honeymoon, moving into our first apartment– it’s been a busy month. I’m still in the “newlywed bliss” stage, but I’ve learned and grown a lot this past month. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past four weeks.Read More »

A normal girl’s guide to bullet journaling

I heard about this thing called a “bullet journal” a few months ago and decided to start one. It was a little complicated and scary at first, but now that I’m used to bullet journaling, it’s the best thing ever. Everything I know about bullet journaling I learned from this Buzzfeed article. The article out lines all of the rules of bullet journaling, and it’s super in-depth and helpful. I’ve shared that article with a few friends in an attempt to spread the good news of bullet journaling, but some people find all of the information in there a little intimidating. A few days ago, a friend asked me to write out a simple guide to bullet journaling for her in a way that’s easier to understand, so, here you go!

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The Whole30 | Life Happens

So, my plan was to blog my way through the Whole30 journey and be happy, creative, and inspiring throughout the entire process. Everything was all planned out and just waiting to be typed up and posted.

However, life happens.

On Days 2 through 7 of the Whole30, I had the worst headache of my life. According to the Whole30 book, that was my body going through sugar withdrawal. They say that the severity of the “sugar hangover” is directly proportionate to how much junk a person eats before starting the Whole30. I didn’t realize how poorly I had been eating until I had to start saying “no” to so many things. So I trudged through those days maxing out on Ibuprofen, learning how to cook healthy meals, and staring longingly at cookies. And muffins.

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Planning my wedding while my parents might be planning their divorce

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while now. Every time I’d sit down to write something, I was blocked by this massive brick wall. I couldn’t see past it, move beyond it, or ignore it. I couldn’t write about anything trivial, but I also couldn’t write about this brick wall because it would be “inappropriate” to do so. So I sat with my back against this brick wall, knees in my chest, just waiting for something to change. Months passed. Sometimes I’d stand up and fight against the wall, punching it over and over as though I could make it crumble and go away. All that did was leave me with bloody knuckles and a broken heart. So I continued to sit at the wall, waiting. One day I finally realized that the wall wasn’t going to change, I had to change. So now I’m going to sit and write about this brick wall in front of me, staring it down until it no longer has any power over me.

WARNING: Members of my family might find this post offensive. However, writing is the only way I know how to cope.

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Starting the Whole30 Journey

A couple weeks ago I was out for coffee with my best friend Mimi. Mid-conversation, she said, “Hey, let’s do the Whole30 program.” And I said, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.” I’d heard of Whole30 before and I know some people who have done it and loved it. So I thought, how hard could it be? We decided to start after Memorial Day so that we could still enjoy our pie and alcohol and other bad yummy foods.

I didn’t give Whole30 too much thought again until Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Mimi and I were at the Market gathering produce for our new diet and we started talking more about this Whole30 thing that we were about to start. She said, “You know you can’t have dairy, right? No milk or cheese or anything. And no added sugars, no grains, no baked goods.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I love sugar, chocolate, carbs, milk, cheese, and wine. I love all the foods. “Maybe I should go read the Whole30 book and figure out what I’m getting myself into.”

So I ordered the book on Amazon and then I had four days to prepare myself for this Whole30 journey. I studied, I went grocery shopping, and I did a little meal-prep for the week. To be honest, this seems hard. Hard and not very fun. But I know it’s going to be worth it.

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So what is the Whole30?

Whole30 is not a diet, a weight-loss program, or a “get thin quick” fad. The book says, “Think of the Whole30 like pushing the reset button with your health, your habits, and your relationship with food.” We tell ourselves that we have to have certain foods. We have to have warm bread and butter while we wait for our food at the restaurant. We need to add sugar to those strawberries or they won’t taste as good. But the truth is that we don’t need any of those things. Whole30 is about giving your body only what it needs, not what it craves. The Whole30 makes you spend 30 days breaking your addictions to cookies, chips, grease, whatever it is, and redefine your relationship with food. Losing weight has nothing to do with it (the book even tells you to throw away your scale while on the program); It’s all about health.

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One Year Post-Grad

It’s been 365 days since I graduated from college. What do I have to show for it?

I have a piece of paper that says I have a Bachelor’s Degree.

I have student loans to pay for every month.

I don’t have a fancy job to brag about. But I do like my job.

I have a mind that is jam-packed with four years of knowledge about everything from Chemistry to the recurring motifs in the work of Hemingway (that’s what a Liberal Arts school will do to you).

I have an awareness of the world around me. I know about the desperate need for life-giving water wells across Africa, about the devastating monstrosity that is human trafficking, and about our responsibility for taking care of this earth that we live in. You can’t live the same way after you learn about these things.

I have character that has been shaped by four years of life experience in a diverse and vibrant community. I can’t turn a blind eye to injustice anymore. I stand up for the right of  all people to live their lives in freedom and peace, regardless of gender. I show compassion to people who are hurting. I care deeply, I live strongly, and I keep my spirit calm.

I have unforgettable memories from spending four years with close friends. Late nights in the dorms, library dates, and meaningful coffee shop conversations. Faces, adventures, smiles, and kind eyes– memories that will never leave.

So everyone asks this question: Was college worth it?

To be honest, I have struggled with this question. I’ve been living in the adult world for a year now, paying bills and going to work 40+ hours a week and fighting the monotony. Has my college education made an impact on how I navigate this world? Was all of the money, homework, and headache worth it? Do the benefits outweigh the cost?

The answer is yes. 

My college experience has enabled me to live in the real world while not falling victim to it. It has enabled me to thrive, to set myself apart from the machine of the working world. There is more to life than going to work, making money, and paying our bills. There is always something to learn, to try to see differently, or to explore. Life is vast and grand, if you let it be. Yes, college is expensive. And no, I don’t currently have a job in my field of study. But at the end of the day, my college education shaped me into a better person than I would have been without it. It’s worth it. And I’m thankful for it.

A Mean Case of “The Grays”

Last night I was laying in bed, curled up with my cat and on the phone with my fiancé, exhausted from working the closing shift at work. I heaved a fantastic sigh and I said, “I don’t know what it is babe, I’ve just had the blues lately.” And then it dawned on me, “No, I take that back. I don’t have the blues at all; I have the grays.”

You see, to have the blues to have a sadness. Having the grays is so much more complex than that.

Having the grays is like living in a fog. It’s that dormant feeling of being a bystander in your own life. It’s living without really living. It’s simply watching the days go by instead of feeling present in them. It’s a lack of motivation, joy, energy, and power. It is complacency and listlessness.

I can feel the grays sinking in like a predatory fog waiting for me to let it take over. That fog lurks at the edges of the mind, just waiting for its opportunity to come in.

During the past few months, life has dealt me a series of heavy blows. The first couple times I got knocked down, I stood right back up with a smile. That’s what I do, I’m an eternal optimist with a gentle spirit.

The blows kept coming, and I kept standing back up. Only this time, getting on my feet was more of a struggle, and I came up with anger in my heart. I was very angry for a long time– an unfamiliar feeling for me.

When I got tired of being angry I decided to just stop caring. I thought that was the best option. But it turns out that not caring is the first step to letting the grays grab a foothold in your heart.

When you don’t care about anything, you can’t get hurt. That’s the lie I told myself.

The hurt lingers underneath the gray, and it will be there waiting for you when the gray leaves. You have to deal with it eventually.

I was outside with my dog last month and saw the first signs of green outside. I started to feel alive again as the tiniest bit of green pierced through the gray in my heart. That day I wrote in my journal:

Watching the grass turn from brown to green has been helping. I can smell, see, and hear life all around out there. There’s this unique scent that Spring has as everything starts coming back to life. It smells like earth.

The birds are bringing back their songs, and squirrels are climbing in the trees.Snow has melted into water, and the water gives life– it slowly makes everything green again.

Green is starting to become my favorite color. It symbolizes life, hope, and nature. I feel myself yearning for the natural. I crave openness, fresh air, vibrant life, and green.

It turns out that green is the cure for the grays. All we have to do is see the beauty and the hope in this life, and then cling to it with all of our might. Be present in the beautiful and the broken moments of your life; it’s worth it. Every moment, every devastating blow, the anger, the hope, the resilience, the joy– every moment becomes a part of the story of our lives. And we all have important stories inside of us. Stories that are worth telling, and that are certainly worth living.

It’s a little silly, but when I drive through the country on my way to work I see trees without leaves on them, and my mind whispers, “It’s time for you to wake up soon. Just wait- you’re coming back to life!

It’s time for me to wake up. I’m coming back to life.

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What It’s Like to Adopt a Rescue Cat

Anybody who knows me knows that I absolutely love cats. When I’m old, I’ll probably be that crazy cat lady down the street, and my poor husband will just have to deal with it. Well, last year I lost my sweet little furry companion, Leo, after twelve years. I wasn’t ready to get another cat until about a year later when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and something caught my eye. An old friend posted that she was looking for homes for a bunch of kittens she’d rescued. I asked my fiancé for his blessing, and a few days later I came home with Belle.

 

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I was expecting a perfect little angel who would instantly love me, but reality turned out to be quite different. Here are a few things I learned during my first couple months with Little Belle.

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Why My Social Media Fast Did More Harm Than Good

Over the last couple months, I found myself taking an unplanned hiatus from social media. It just kind of happened. I stopped blogging, posting on Instagram, and updating Facebook. In fact, I barely even hung out my friends during that time. I basically hibernated and “focused on life.”

I hadn’t even realized my  lack of digital presence until yesterday. I opened up Instagram to look for some inspirational edits I’d made a long time ago. As I was scrolling, I noticed that I’ve barely posted anything lately, and then something clicked in my head: Maybe this is why I’ve been feeling so off lately.

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Processing Paris: Where is God in an Age of Terror?

A handful of extremists were able to shake the world on November 13th. They attacked without warning and without regard for human life. They turned a peaceful, happy night out on the town into a night of horror for thousands of people.

So much life. So many hopes and dreams. So much vibrance stolen from the world in one night.

So what do we do? We watch the news. We light candles. We reflect on the value of life and how thankful we are to be alive. We worry. We wait for them to catch the bad guys. We get angry. We wonder how this could have happened. And, eventually, we get numb.

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Peace for Paris | artwork by Jean Jullien

Some of us immediately point the finger of blame at God. How could God have let this happen? What kind of god would allow this? If this is your God, I want nothing to do with him. So many people, even Christians, find themselves asking these sort of questions. Why, God?

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