Tuesday, September 12, 2017

STAY



hi.

i don't know you, not really

and you don't know me

not really

but i do know something about you

you were born to run

it's woven into your veins, as innate as breathing

"the fight or flight instinct", science teachers tell us

our reaction to stress or fear

and sometimes, you're just too tired to fight

so you take flight

you run and run and just want to keep running, trying to escape the echoes in your head

and you're gasping, not knowing where to go, just knowing that you've got to run, got to get away

stay

stay, darling, stay

when it all feels like too much

and you can't see two feet in front of you

and everything is closing in

stay

i know i know i know it's hard

and you don't want to fight anymore

because what's the point? it never gets better, so what's the point? what else is there to do?

stay

because let me tell you a secret

you're not going to be stuck here forever. you're not trapped in the dark forever. light breaks through, night turns to day, and that string pulled tight around your lungs breaks and you can finally breathe.

but how can you feel the warmth of the light on your skin if you don't stay?

stay

stay, because there is hope. stay, because there is joy. stay, because there is healing.

stay

stay, because the number of people who love you far surpasses anything you would probably even imagine. stay, because there are sunsets that you still haven't seen and music you still haven't listened to and adventures you still haven't had. stay, because you have so many more things to do. so many people to meet. stay for those dreams still curled up inside you. stories to write, places to go, things to create. stay, because even when everything feels like it's falling apart, you have a heavenly Father who loves you more than you are physically capable of comprehending and wants nothing more than to gather you in His arms, who has so many plans for you. Who has a future for you. Who created all of the stars and constellations and oceans and rivers and skies, and still knows the number of hairs on your head, because you are His, and He calls you His child.

stay

stay, darling, stay.

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It is estimated by the World Health Organization that one person dies by suicide every forty seconds. That number is staggering. My heart breaks for every individual who even has those thoughts enter their head, and even more for those who have chosen to end their lives because they didn't see another option. Those who couldn't bring themselves to stay. For all of those who have been left behind to deal with losing sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, friends, loved ones. I've personally witnessed friends grapple with the devastating effects of suicide, and I've seen how mind-blowingly difficult it is. There are not words to properly express how serious of an issue this is, and how deeply I wish that no one would ever have to go through that again. That people would see that suicide is not the answer.

As you may be aware, this week is National Suicide Prevention Week in America. About a month ago, my dear friend Elissa reached out to me with an idea to spread awareness about this issue. After dealing firsthand with the crippling pain of losing a friend to suicide eleven months ago, she discovered To Write Love On Her Arms, a really great organization who made their theme for this year's National Suicide Prevention Week "Stay". Elissa wanted to spread this message across the blogosphere, and I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of it. She is sharing posts every day on this topic on her blog, and I really encourage you to head over there and check it out. I also really want to encourage you to spread the message as well. Write a blog post. Take a picture of you holding a sign with a reason to stay, or the word "stay" written on your hand, and post it on social media. Talk to your friends about it. Let's keep this going, even after National Suicide Prevention Week is over. 

In the words of To Write Love On Her Arms-

"Stay. Find what you were made for."



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hello, Senior Year


I have had so much trouble writing this post. 

I've come back to this document time and time again over the course of the last four days, and here I am, on Wednesday, when this post is supposed to be published, still unsure of how to get the words out.

This post has been on my calendar for a month, yet I still don't know what to say and how to say it.

And honestly, I think it's because I still don't know how to feel.

Tomorrow is the first day of senior year. 

The final first day of high school. The culmination of the last eleven years.

Senior year.

The year that I've been looking up at for as long as I can remember. The seniors were always so intimidating, and now all of a sudden...I'm one of them. It doesn't feel like I should be here yet. I still feel like that quiet freshman, not someone who's old enough to drive and get a job and choose a college. I guess it's just weird to know for years that something's coming, and to finally be there.

It's almost like even though you know in your brain that yes, senior year is a part of life, you almost don't expect it to come. Which makes no sense, but it's the best way I know to describe it. I would say that in a way it feels right, because I've gone through the last three years, I've made it to this point, but it still doesn't. Maybe it's one of those things that you just have to get used to.

-----

I've always dreaded the thought of senior year coming. Whenever my friends would sigh and talk about how they were just so ready to graduate and be done, I would laugh and nod. Inwardly, however, I would think, I'm not. The thought of having to leave my safety bubble and go out into a whole new environment filled with new people and new experiences has always scared me to death. I'm a creature of habit. I hate change with everything in me, and graduating brings on every change imaginable.

And yet at the same time..I'm getting closer to being okay with it. Don't worry I'm still terrified. I haven't undergone a complete personality alteration. But I mean...everything changes constantly, whether you graduate or not. This summer has been full of things changing, and so honestly, graduating won't be a massive difference. It will be different, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that it won't be horrible and it won't be the end of the world. It will hold lots of new things, scary things, but also really good things. Opportunities and experiences. So for now I'm trying to focus on that. Which is totally just my way of avoiding thinking about all of the things and people I'm going to miss like crazy, but y'know, it works.

-----

I honestly don't know what this year is going to look like. I'm sure that it will be busy, and I'm sure it will be stressful, and there's a high likelihood that I'm going to be a nostalgic mess. But I really don't know all of the specifics yet, which is strange for an obsessive planner like myself. It's been kind of hard not knowing and having things change and whatnot, but I'm doing my best to just wait and see what the year has to hold. And naturally, me being me, I'm setting goals for myself. Whether or not I'll actually reach them, I don't know yet, but I'm going to set them. Maybe I'll do a post on that later? We'll see. But I'm trying to stay calm, and stay positive, and be excited. After all, senior year only happens once. And even if it doesn't meet a single one of my expectations, and even if it's a hot mess, train wreck of a year, I want to be excited, and I want to enjoy the year. I don't want to put so much pressure on anything that it stresses me out like crazy. I guess that's my biggest thing. I don't want to look back on senior year and just remember how stressful it was, y'know? I want to be able to have good memories of the year. 

-----

So here I am. Nervous and curious and wondering and excited and ready. As ready as I'll ever be, anyways. I'm thinking of following in Rachel's footsteps and doing a senior year updates series ever so often, if y'all would be interested in following along. I'm sure that it's going to be an adventure. 

Hello, Senior Year. Let's do this. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The First Impressions Project #1 // Mary Shelley

Have you ever wondered what someone's first impression of you would be? It's a funny thing to think about. Being the introverted people that we are, my blogger tribe has discussed this many times, and I decided that I wanted to make a bit of a project of writing down my first impressions of people. Not all of them will end up here on the blog because y'know, I don't want some stranger suing me or something drastic, but I think this could be a fun little recurring series.

I'm cheating a little bit on this first one- this wasn't my first time meeting Mary Shelley. We actually met for the first time this past spring, but it was for a very brief amount of time, so we're just going to disregard that little factor for the moment. Anyways. Mary Shelley is a dear friend of mine, and I was so excited when we made plans to meet up for coffee. We ended up spending almost three hours together, and it was absolutely wonderful. She's the absolute sweetest human being, and everyone needs someone like her in their life.



Mary Shelley always reminds me of the color yellow. She is a field of sunflowers and bright sunshine, and she is the deep, vibrant yellow of autumn trees, and she is cozy mustard-colored sweaters. Her eyes sparkle, and crinkle around the corners when she smiles, which is often. When she listens, she wraps her hand over the top of her coffee cup and twirls the straw, and you can practically see her thoughts swirling. She pauses slightly before she speaks, telling stories woven with detail, many of which make me laugh. If you've read Mary Shelley's blog posts, or gotten to know her through the blogosphere, you have met the true Mary Shelley. She is exactly the same in real life as she is online, which I adore. We discuss all kinds of things, from school to writing projects to Broadway to personality typing, hidden away from the hot sun in a little alcove. We both comment on the twinkle lights, deciding that they make the world a better place. She laughs at my terribly random stories, and tells me all about her precious new puppy, Rocky. She is such a genuinely kind person, one who radiates joy and really does make time fly by. Mary Shelley, you are wonderful! I am so glad to have you as a friend. ♥

↠↠ FOLLOW HER↞↞



Saturday, August 12, 2017

3 Years of Totally Graced- IT'S PARTY TIME! Survey + Giveaway And More!


*massive eruption of confetti*

IT'S TOTALLY GRACED'S THIRD BLOGIVERSARY!!!!

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For some of you epic bloggers out there who have been a part of the blogosphere for seven or eight years, I know that this may not seem like a long time, but oh my goodness, I can't believe that I've been running this site for three years now. It blows my mind a bit. 

I started Totally Graced as a horribly awkward freshman back in 2014, and now I can't believe that I'm still blogging going into my senior year. Honestly no less awkward, let's be real. This has been my longest-lasting project, and I'm so thankful for everything that I've learned and gained through blogging. This little chunk of the internet has been a home for me, an escape from the craziness of life, and I'm so happy to have had it throughout all of the insanity that has been high school. 

I don't know what's in store for the next year of blogging. I do have quite a few post ideas brewing, and I'd also love to do more collaborations, so if you're interested in that, definitely shoot me an email sometime! Other than that, who knows? I'm just excited for the adventure. 

BUT ENOUGH SCARY FUTURE TALK! It's the blogiversary, so...TIME TO PARTY!

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Honestly, the most amazing part of blogging is the people. The blogging community is filled to the brim with so many incredible humans, and I love what a positive and uplifting space we've created. I wanted to thank some of the lovely girls who have been especially large parts of my life- they all have incredible blogs and are SO talented, so if you haven't yet, you NEED to check them out! 

Aaliyah- Where do I even start? My insta-consultant, my ranting partner, my person. Thank you for your constant advice and love and encouragement. Our conversations are my favorite, and I love you more than I can say. 

Abbie- My lovely fairy squad mother, the waffle queen. You are so upbeat, positive, and encouraging, and I am so thankful for you. You bring so much light and joy into the blogger world, and you inspire us all. 

Abby- It's actually freaky how similar we are- I truly think our only point of disagreement is breakfast food! I love ranting with you about theatre, characterization, and life. You are so smart and you always are filled to the brim with the best ideas. I am so thankful for you!!

Abby Rose- The queen of music recommendations, the writer who breaks my heart on the daily, and one of my oldest friends. I still remember our first few conversations- oh, how we've grown from the days of ranting over 39 Clues couples and coming up with epic theories (that I will never be convinced are false). You are amazing and I love you so much.

Aimee-YOU ARE JUST THE BEST HUMAN OKAY? I am forever proud of you and all of your incredible accomplishments and projects. You inspire me constantly, and you're also just one of the absolute sweetest people. I love being pen pals. <3 

Autumn- AUTUMN!! You are so full of happiness and encouragement and joy, talking to you is the best. Remember me when you're famous for your amazing baked goods, okay? 

Hannah- My sweet twin, oh, how thankful I am for you. You truly epitomize grace, and I cannot wait to hear about all of your Disney adventures, because YOU ARE SUCH A DISNEY PRINCESS! <3 Thank you for your constant advice and wisdom. You are such a blessing. 

JacyRayn- You are the embodiment of sunshine and I love our Jesus talks. Forever amazed by your gorgeous voice and heart of gold. <3

Kate- You are one of my biggest inspirations, and I love that I can also call you a friend. You are wise beyond your years and SO FREAKING TALENTED. You weave worlds with your words, and it is so beautiful. 

Mary Shelley- MY BEAUTIFUL SUNFLOWER!! You are one of the kindest, most lovely souls, and I am forever looking forward to our coffee date. You have a way with words unlike anyone I've ever known, and I can't wait to be first in line to buy your best-seller. 

Olivia- You were one of my very first blogging friends, and I will forever be so glad to have you in my life. I love how you can literally switch from making me laugh to encouraging me with Jesus in approximately .2 seconds, and just generally make my day like...every day. xD YOU ARE SO WONDERFUL I CANNOT HANDLE IT.

Rachel- You are genuinely one of the most creative, talented, driven people I have ever known. You make me laugh on the daily and you also make me think, which I love in a friendship. Keep being the fantastic human being that you are- you're gonna change the world.

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I feel like stats are a really fun way to see how you've grown over the years. So here are my stats from the last three!

First Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 8,046
Blogger Followers- 27

Email Followers- 0
Instagram- n/a
Pinterest- n/a
Twitter- n/a

Bloglovin'- n/a

Second Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 26,424
Blogger Followers- 65
Email Followers- 13
Instagram- 160
Pinterest- 37
Twitter- 60

Bloglovin'- n/a

Third Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 59,500
Blogger Followers- 132
Email Followers- 419 (pretty sure these have to be spam followers but hey)
Instagram-374
Pinterest- 110
Twitter- 365
Bloglovin'- 47


It's so fun to see the growth! It means so much to me that you all take time out of your day to read the crazy things that I put out here on the internet. Thank you all so, so much. 

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Every year, I like to do a survey to see what you all think of my blog and how it could be improved. If you could take five minutes to answer a few quick questions, it would mean a lot. ♥



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BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!


Last, but not least, in honor of three years of Totally Graced, I'm hosting a giveaway!! The giveaway includes-

-(1) Handmade bracelet
-(1) Watercolored bookmark
-(1) $10 Starbucks gift card

I may also throw in some other small surprises, but you are guaranteed to receive these three items if you win! Unfortunately, I do have to make this giveaway U.S. only. I'm so sorry to all of my international friends! I hope to have an international giveaway sometime in the future. ♥

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thank you all for a wonderful three years! Here's to many more. ♥