worth living for

Thursday, September 10, 2020

My dear friend Keira always reminds me that life is filled with duality. It's a reminder that I frequently need, a lesson I have to remind myself of again and again. That life isn't always black and white, as we're so prone to think. Terrible things can happen on the best of days, and in the midst of what feels like the world falling apart, a blessing can drop into our laps.

When it's easy to take a season as being all good or all bad, I hear her reminder echoing in the back of my mind. That really, it's all a juggling act, a dance of staying afloat through it all.

As I was reading this year's statement from TWLOHA - To Write Love on Her Arms - her words were the first to pop into my mind. 

TWLOHA is an incredible nonprofit that works to give hope to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-harm, and suicide, while helping them to invest in treatment and recovery. My friend Elissa first brought them to my attention in September of 2017 to join in their "Stay" campaign for National Suicide Prevention Month, and each September since, I've gone back to see what their theme of the year is and how I can be a part of it.

This year, TWLOHA's theme is "Worth Living For", based on a poem that I'm going to link here. In describing how they went about choosing the theme for the year, Jamie, the founder of TWLOHA, said, "I believe what [the poet] is saying is that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. And nearly everything is better when it’s shared. Victory and defeat and coffee—good, bad, and in-between."

If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that life is never and will never be perfect. I don't know a single person who hasn't walked through pain over the course of the last eight and a half months. It's been a year of blows and losses, and I know that I can't be the only one who's gone to bed at night wondering what it's all for.

Pain causes us to block out everything except for our pain. It's a survival mechanism - we're sensing a threat, so all of our strength and energy goes to fighting that threat. When suffering hits - whether that's circumstantial pain or the kind of depression that runs deep - we forget the duality. We're unable to see anything in front of us but the glaring white pain, and when you're experiencing that level of hurt, all you want is out.

Friend, if no one has told you this today, let me be the first - your life matters more than you know.

Read that again.

Your life matters. You matter. You, with all of your flaws and baggage and scars. You matter. And even when it feels as though you can't see three feet in front of you and it hurts to move, this life is so worth the living.

Today - September 10th - is National Suicide Prevention Day. And I know that I'm no therapist - I'm just a twenty year old girl who cares a lot. But what I also know is that when pain takes over and makes you forget what you know to be true, sometimes you need a tangible reminder to grab on to. 

So in honor of today and all that it represents, and of TWLOHA's theme this year, I made a list of 75 things that are worth living for. A few of them are specific to me, but most of them are written with you in mind. I made this list because when things get messy and hard, I want you to have something that you can hold, something that can remind you of why you need to stay. 

1. Sunshine.
2. Family.
3. People who have become family.
4. The butterflies of anticipation right before something you've been waiting for.
5.  The cat that lives down the street and rubs your legs when you go for a walk.
6. The air at the ocean.
7. The lady who smiled when you let her go in front of you at the grocery store.
8. Stamps with cartoon characters on them.
9. The kid three years younger than you who looked up to you in school.
10. Dreams + plans of meeting all of my blogging friends.
11. The trip you're saving to go on.
12. The bonus episode of your favorite show that you don't know is coming out.
13. Christmas lights.
14. Dogs that get excited when they see you.
15. The book that you reread every year.
16. Sitting backstage and hearing the audience laughing and talking and settling in moments before the curtain opens for then first time.
17. Your favorite song.
18. Sunrises and sunsets.
19. The stuffed animal you've had since you were three.
20. Talks with Keira.
21. Brand new notebooks.
22. The black and white photographs that hang above my bed.
23. Conversations sitting in parked cars.
24. Cheesecake.
25. Driving + listening to my favorite podcast.
26. Cozy sweaters.
27. Watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.
28. Dancing in the kitchen and in the living room and just about everywhere else.
29. The kids that I teach. 
30. All of the new music and Broadway shows that have yet to come out.
31. Wildflowers by the side of the road.
32. Warm piles of laundry.
33. Sleeping in after a long week.
34. Random texts from people you love. 
35. Staring up at a sky filled with stars.
36. Your favorite person's birthday.
37. Waking up to fresh snow on the ground.
38. Filled-up journals.
39. Playing with kittens. 
40. The book not yet written.
41. The friends that have been in my life longer than they haven't been.
42. Twirling in full skirts.
43. Long walks.
44. Plants that spill over the pot. 
45. New cities that you haven't explored yet.
46. Watching everything come back into bloom after a long winter. 
47. The pen you love that writes just *right*.
48. Road trips.
49. Finding the perfect item you've been looking for at a thrift store.
50. The people on your "recent calls" list.
51. Cups of coffee.
52. Stumbling upon a lucky penny. 
53. All of the inside jokes that you're a part of.
54. Curling up on the couch to watch your favorite movie for the thousandth time.
55. The sound of your best friend's laugh.
56. Fresh fruit in the summertime.
57. Used bookstores.
58. The toddler that always waves when you pass.
59. Hugs.
60. Singing at the top of your lungs while driving down a road you know like the back of your hand.
61. Nicknames.
62. How green everything is after it rains.
63. The person you let in front of you in traffic that you kept from being late to work.
64. Remembering why you love something.
65. The inexplicable peace of a quiet rainy Saturday.
66. Facetimes with someone you haven't seen in a while.
67. Your favorite pair of shoes.
68. People who feel like home.
69. Picnics.
70. The video that always makes you laugh. 
71. Finding shapes in the clouds.
72. Long conversations.
73. The smell of bread baking.
74. Surprising someone on a rough day.
75. You. You are worth living for. And no matter what life is throwing your way these days, I pray that you never, ever forget that.

So now I want you to do something for me.

I want you to make a list.

I don't care if it's a word doc or a note on your phone of a scribbled column on the back of an old algebra handout. I want you to make a list. You can take things from my list, or you can make something completely different, it's up to you. But I don't want you going anywhere until you've written something down. Even if it's just one thing. Write it down. 

Every time that you wonder if there's anything left, I want you to look at that list. And on the good days, I want you to add to it. On the bad days, I just want you to remember that it exists. But keep adding to it. Fill up a whole notebook if it keeps you grounded. But keep adding.

Add the names of people that you love. Add things that you want to do, places that you want to go, goals you want to achieve.

Know that they're all there. You just have to keep getting up in the morning.

And to those who don't face the battle of deciding to stay, show up for the ones that do. Here's a secret - they're probably right in front of you and you don't even know it. That's why it's so vitally important to keep showing up. To keep checking in. To sit across the table over crappy cups of coffee and just be there. To see people, and to love them.

We're all going through this crazy world together, side by side. And like Jamie said - everything is better when it's shared, the good, the bad, and everything in-between.

Connection is what keeps us grounded. It keeps us present and it keeps us accountable. The world is a mess, but it's better when we aren't sorting through it alone. It's better when someone is beside us.

Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. That is a statistic that I would give anything in the world to change. That is a statistic that I'm determined to see us help to change. And it starts with loving and fighting and staying.

If no one's told you today - hi. I love you. I see you. I see you in my social media feed and in my inbox. I hear your stories and I hear your hurt. And I love you. I love you so, so much. And the world is so much better for having you in it.

So please stay.

You are not alone. There are so many people who love you. So many people who want to help.

This life isn't perfect. It's so far from it. But just because it can be bad doesn't mean that it can't be good, too. Duality, remember? Just because things look hopeless doesn't mean that there's not hope right around the corner.

Over and over again this year, I've been reminded that there are going to be days when pain brings you to your knees in the corner of the living room floor. And some days you can't do anything but sit in it.

But then you hear your favorite song from when you were twelve on the radio, and you remember dancing in your best friend's room like an idiot. And the light of the sun going down dances on the floor in front of you, and you wrap your hands around a glass of water and let the chill run through you.

And maybe it's not the next day, and maybe it's not the next. But one morning, you're going to wake up and realize that you feel a little bit lighter than you did before.

Hope is never nonexistent. It morphs and changes and isn't always exactly what we expected. But it's always there.

You are loved by so many people. People you don't even know - people you've passed by and woven through and made better. By me, however many miles apart we may be. By the One who made the stars but said that you were the one that He loved.

Keep fighting. Keep hoping. Keep staying.

My inbox is always open. And hey - I'd love to see your list.

My 2020 Bookshelf - vol. i

Saturday, August 1, 2020

That's right, we're back to talking about one of my favorite things - books!

Back in January, I shared my favorite reads of 2019. I'd planned to make it an annual post, but quarantine hit, and suddenly I found myself with far more time to read than I would ever have in a normal spring. My goal for the year was to read 40 books, and when I hit 20 back at the beginning of July, I decided that we might as well split things up into two posts this year. 

I didn't include all twenty in this post, because frankly, they weren't all worth mentioning. Still, I read some really great books over the past few months, and I'm excited to hear everyone's thoughts on them! Here are some of my most memorable reads from the first half of 2020. :-)


Anomaly by K.A. Emmons

I've talked about The Blood Race series on my blog pretty extensively over the years, so it's no surprise that when Kate announced that a prequel would be coming out, I was pumped. Kate's been one of my dearest blogging friends for years now, and I've been in love with her series since the very beginning. 

If you've somehow missed the entire blogging world screaming about this series, The Blood Race is a YA sci-fi/thriller trilogy. The books are jam-packed with an action-filled plot and beautiful, complex characters, and I'll always be shouting them from the rooftops. 

Anomaly, the prequel to The Blood Race, dives deeper into the backstory of Ion, one of the main characters of the series. We get a glimpse into the upbringing that shaped him into the character that we follow throughout the rest of the books, with teasers of what's to come sprinkled throughout. It's short but sweet, and a great addition to the world of The Blood Race. 

Little Women by Lousia May Alcott

At the beginning of the year, it was pretty much impossible to go anywhere on the internet without hearing about Little Women. While I actually didn't see the movie until this past week (shoutout to Hanne for being the best movie watching buddy and finally getting me to sit down and watch it!!!), I knew that I would want to reread the book first, and quickly dove back in to Alcott's world. 

I could write essay after essay about my adoration for Little Women. Growing up in a house of girls myself, I think that I will always love this story, and always see so much of my own life in the March sisters'. It so perfectly captures what it's like to live in a house of women, with all of the energy and petty bickering and talking a mile a minute. While my love for classic lit is eternal, Little Women is one that holds up better than most, I think, because it's simply such an honest portrayal of life. It gave a true voice to women in a time when they were supposed to fade into the background, and showed them for all of their nuances and quirks and humanity. 

Much of my love for Little Women also stems from the fact that I love Jo March with every fiber of my being. She's one of those characters that I just click with - her feisty passion for the things and people that she believes in, her determination to do great things, her desperation to keep life the same as it's always been. She's messy and she's flawed, but I understand her so completely and love her more than I can say.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I truly don't know how I went so long without reading this, because wow - what an incredible book. My cousin had recommended it to me years and years ago, but it was only this past semester that I finally got around to reading it, as a part of a young adult literature class that I was taking. 

I'm generally not a huge fan of dystopian literature, but Fahrenheit 451 is absolutely brilliant. I found myself with an unexpected free afternoon one day and ran to the used bookstore to pick up the selections I'd need for the semester. I ended up reading the entirety of this one in a matter of hours that same afternoon. It's truly eerie in the way that it parallels so much of of our world today, and is such a thought-provoking exploration of technology, privacy, desensitization and censorship. It's wonderfully written and really makes you stop to consider what a world void of beauty and art and independent thought due to an overrun of technology could look like. In the world we live in today, it's one that I think everyone needs to read.

I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

I almost didn't add this one to the post as it wasn't one of my absolute favorites, but at the end of the day - it's Nora Ephron. How could I leave her out? 

You've Got Mail is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I have endless respect for Nora Ephron as a writer. She had a style like no one else, so funny and quirky, direct and poignant. When I found this book of essays for fifty cents at a book sale, there was no way that I could pass it up.

I have to admit that I've enjoyed her movies more than I enjoyed this book. There were several select essays that I absolutely adored, but the book as a whole wasn't my favorite. Still, I'm pretty sure that I'll read or watch anything with Nora Ephron's name on it at least once. :-)

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

I love love love this book.

I've been thoroughly and completely obsessed with Anastasia since I was nine years old. The movie was a favorite of my mom's, and I'm pretty sure that I started checking every Anastasia book that I could find out of the library the very week I watched it for the first time. By that time, Anastasia's death had long since been confirmed, but still, I couldn't help but wish - like so many people - that maybe, just maybe, she was still out there somewhere.

I Was Anastasia is a work of absolute brilliance. It's told from two perspectives with opposing timelines (very The Last Five Years-esque) - a young Anastasia, and Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed until her dying breath that she was the lost princess herself - spanning nearly eighty years.

The book is written with all of the intrigue of a thriller, constantly making you question anything you thought to be true. Brilliant really is the only way to put it - Lawhon's writing, her storytelling, her structure. I Was Anastasia is definitely one of the best books that I've read all year, and if you haven't read it yet, it needs to jump to the top of your list.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I don't think I'll ever be able to express just how much I love Turtles All the Way Down. I've tried, time and time again, but words always fall short for me on this one.

Confession time: this was the first John Green book that I have ever read. He's been so drastically overhyped for so many years that I was just never drawn to his work. I watched The Fault in Our Stars with some friends back when it was the most beloved YA movie around and I thought it was fine, but it was never a favorite. (Could I talk for way too long about the tendency to prey on teenage emotions with things that are sad just to be sad? Yeah, don't start me.)

But when I discovered Turtles All the Way Down, I couldn't help but be intrigued. It was actually one of the first books that I did heavy promo work for when I started working for the bookstore, and while at the time I didn't want to buy it to read it for myself, I could see myself enjoying it.

When I suddenly found myself with more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, it seemed like the perfect time to find out if I'd like it or not, and so I finally picked it up.

Wow. I absolutely fell in love with Turtles All the Way Down. It's realistic and heartfelt and hopeful in a unique way that few books I've read are. Bittersweet, but what else can you expect from a book from John Green? The characters are genuine and well-developed, intensely flawed but intensely lovable. It's a solid contemporary with a twist of mystery and important themes. Written in the quirky, thought-provoking style that John Green is famous for, it gives one of the most incredibly realistic depictions of mental illness that I've ever read in a work of fiction. It meant a lot to me for a lot of different reasons, and it’s one that I’ll definitely be returning to again and again.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The more time that I have away from this book, the more I really think that it simply wasn't what I expected.

I had really been looking forward to reading this book, but when I actually read it, I felt it was a bit overhyped. It's received a lot of popular acclaim in recent years, but I was not as impressed with it as I expected to be. However, the more that I've thought about it, I think this came down to two things:

1. I didn't know that it was going to be an epistolary novel. Not to say that there's anything wrong with epistolary works, but personally, I've never enjoyed them as much as I do traditional novels. 

2. I thought that the book was about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society's work during the war, when in reality, it was simply about their lives after the war.

So I think that honestly, I just had an idea of it in my head that was completely different from what it was, and that ended up disappointing me. The book, objectively, is a good one - the characters, particularly, are wonderful. The biggest complaint that I had about the ending itself was that it was extremely abrupt - my ebook copy had a bunch of extra content pages at the end, so I thought that I had a lot further to go in the story than there actually was, and the ending felt really sudden and rushed.

Still, a sweet book. I'm curious to see the movie - I think I might end up liking it better than the book!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming, a memoir written in verse, gives a really interesting insight into what it was like to grow up as a young black girl in the 1960's. This is another one that I stumbled onto as a part of my young adult lit class, and I really enjoyed it. I loved the style, and as someone who's spent her whole life in the south, I loved reading more about the area where I've grown up. So much was familiar from hearing stories from my parents and grandparents, and yet there was so much to it that I knew nothing about. This book was a pleasant surprise, one that wasn't on my radar at all but I ended up really enjoying. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I feel like it's impossible not to love To Kill a Mockingbird. 

I hadn't picked this one up in years, but as I reread it, I couldn't help but fall in love all over again. It is such a powerful, important work of literature. It makes you think in a really unique way, and I found myself wanting to reread it the second I turned the final page. What a world we would have if there were more people like Atticus in it, eh?


Home Work by Julie Andrews

I love Julie Andrews with my whole heart.

I read her first memoir, Home, several years ago, and was SO incredibly excited when a second one came out. (I still have my fingers crossed for a third...this one ends prior to The Princess Diaries + her Broadway return, and you already know how much I want to read about that) This second memoir chronicles her time from Mary Poppins up until her return to Broadway. Much of it was taken from her diary entries, and my next goal is to buy the audiobook - she narrates it herself.

Julie Andrews will forever amaze me with her kindness, strength, courage, and class, and reading about the behind the scenes of her life only made me love her more. The grace that she exudes spills off the page, and it was so much fun to get to know her a little better through this book.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I honestly don't remember for certain how I stumbled onto this book, but I want to say that it popped up on my Pinterest feed and I became intrigued. A quick library check revealed an available ebook, and I dove in. The premise almost reminded me of You've Got Mail - a guy tasked with monitoring the emails that are sent within a company's server finds himself falling in love with an employee solely based upon her emails. While I can't say that it was my favorite book that I've ever read, it was a cute story. The plot felt a bit flat at points, and because the two main characters had no real relationship for the first 2/3 of the story, it could be a little hard to connect with at points. Still, it was a sweet, light read, and I loved the concept of it all. Not a reread, but enjoyable all the same.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I went into The Great Alone knowing absolutely nothing about it - I'd noticed it at work before and thought that it looked interesting, and I knew that several of my coworkers had really enjoyed it. I also knew that I'd heard friends rave about Kristin Hannah's writing for ages. But as far as the story itself, I went in with zero expectations.

As someone who's never even been anywhere near the Northwest, just reading about Alaska in and of itself was oh so fascinating. It truly sounds like a whole other world - one that I don't think I could ever live in, but am now both more intrigued by and terrified of than ever before. The setting was a character all on its own, creating so many tangled up circumstances throughout the novel.

I think that the biggest thing that I didn't expect going into this book was just how much it would wreck me. I struggled to get into it initially, and found parts of it to be a bit cliched, but still I found myself hooked. It gives a powerful perspective into the horrors of codependency and toxic love, and the portrait that it paints of domestic abuse is shattering.

At its core, The Great Alone is a book about love, in all of its forms - beautiful, toxic, romantic, platonic, familial. It's about the strength of a community and the love between a mother and a daughter, and it explores falling in love when you aren't sure that you know what real love is. It made me smile, made me angry, and made me think - sometimes all at once.

The Great Alone isn't a book that I would naturally gravitate towards, nor is it one that I believe I'll end up rereading, but it is one that I'm glad that I read nonetheless.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

You all know how much I love World War II fiction, and I had high hopes for this book, but I have to say that they weren't quite met. While I did enjoy it, it lacked depth, and the immaturity of the characters annoyed me. I did very much like the differing perspectives that the book provided, and loved watching the relationship between Odile and Lily develop - their dynamic kept me reading. As a whole, though, this one fell a bit flat for me. 

- - - - -

These days, my TBR is about a mile long, and I'm desperately trying to read as many as I can before the insanity of the semester starts up again in just a few short weeks. I've got some books stacking up that I'm really excited about, so it will be fun to see what the second half of my 2020 bookshelf looks like!

Currently, I'm juggling Fountains of Silence, Uninvited, and The Engineer's Wife, and my upcoming TBR includes The Book of Lost Names, A Thousand Perfect Notes, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, and The Four Winds. I'm excited dig into them all!

What about you? What are you reading these days? What's on your TBR? I'm always down for suggestions (as if I really need them - my TBR is probably going to fall on top of me any day now.) Have you read any of my recent picks? Let's have allllll the bookish chats in the comments below! 

The Quarantine Diaries // vol. ii

Monday, June 29, 2020

It will always be mind-boggling to me, I think, how drastically life can change just in a few short months.

The first post of this series was back at the very end of April, 45 days after the world as a whole turned upside down. A few days after that post, my own world turned upside down, and May quickly became a month that I couldn't wait to say goodbye to. I was just telling my mom earlier today that it honestly feels as though I lost May completely - it was such a mess of a month that anything I may have hoped to do ended up falling through the cracks. 

Despite the pandemic, the one thing that May did slowly begin to bring back into my life was people. You know how much I love a celebration, and not even a pandemic was going to keep me from dropping off cookie dough and gifts in the driveways of my best friends on their birthdays. Our quarantine birthday celebrations began a cycle of distanced driveway chats and sitting on opposite ends of front porches in the rain. It was far from the normal that we all missed so much, but goodness it was so much better than texting. 

Still, May was a month that I definitely did not mind saying goodbye to. I know that different seasons teach us different things, and I know that the Lord taught me (and is still teaching me) so much in and through that month, but I was running towards June with open arms. Going into June, my one prayer was simply for it to be better than May. And by so much grace, it has been.

June has been the breath of fresh air that I so desperately needed. The mess of May wasn't magically fixed, and the pandemic is honestly only getting worse where I am. But June, despite it all, has been so much better. Lighter. And I'm not going to lie, it's made me a little nervous - I talked about it on my Instagram a few days ago, the fear of hope that comes with better days. The jumpiness, eyeing the concrete warily, waiting for it to split underneath your feet. But in this moment, I can breathe, and for that, I could not be more grateful. I'm grateful for these days of sunshine and twinkle lights, singing worship in the park and dancing under a sunset. June was filled with sunsets, and I can't help but feel that they were a little gift from God, reminding me that good's still here. Laying in the grass and picking flowers, picnic blankets and (distanced) parties and laughing until I couldn't breathe.

And most wonderful of all - my sister, alongside our best friends, graduated high school, and we got to have a real ceremony on the most beautiful June night. If you're subscribed to the Tuesday Letters, you've already heard that miracle of a story, and maybe soon I'll share it here, too. But for now I'll just say that I could not be more grateful. And maybe July will bring a new set of messes with it, but for now, I'm resting in the goodness of June. And for now, that's enough.


the things keeping me sane

d o i n g :

- lots of fun graphic design projects. It's been so nice to have time to experiment and make things. :-)

- attempting to clean up my poor laptop. It's crammed to the brim with files and I've been trying to clear it off onto a hard drive to make things more functional.  

- lots and lots of obsessing over musicals with Keira

- journaling again, thank goodness. I had gotten into a great routine with it, and then May majorly threw me off as I just lost all motivation to write. I'm back in the routine of writing every night again, and I love it so.

- walking walking walking. my mom and I often go on walks in the evenings, once the afternoon heat finally starts to fade, and thanks to social distancing, walking dates at the park are a current favorite way to catch up with friends. 

- photography work!!! between senior photos, some marketing shots for my job with the bookstore, and attempting to re-edit some old work, I've been jumping back into photography as of late, and I can't say that I mind it one bit. 

hopefully adding to the list soon: puzzles, pre-fall organizing, working on a fun new blog series, and macrame!

w a t c h i n g :

- so much Madam Secretary, thanks to my dear Keira. She's gotten me hooked. But seriously, it is so good. If you like political suspense, you're definitely going to want to dive in. The characters are all wonderful, and the writing is just fantastic.

- always Frasier, because sometimes, you just need to laugh. 

- too many NCIS reruns to count. I'm still not actually through the show - I believe that my sister and I are on season five or six? - but most of May was spent bingeing old episodes that I'd already seen while I worked. Despite being a show revolving around serial killers and terrorists, it's always oddly comforting. Seeing the familiar characters and knowing exactly what's going to happen next is a nice change of pace when the world feels like it's falling apart. 

- we had a Princess Diaries rewatch, which is always just the best pick-me-up. If you ever want to know why I'm most definitely the best person to watch The Princess Diaries with (aka I've seen it approximately 8000 times and can quote every word), check out my live-tweeting session. :-)

- my mom + sisters and I are also currently watching the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. We'd somehow never watched it before, and you already know that I am absolutely thriving. 

r e a d i n g :

- lots of Psalms and Proverbs. I've kind of been hopping all over in my Bible reading as of late - I've been consistent with it, but not consistent with where I'm reading. Right now I'm in 1 Corinthians for the first time in a while. 

- The Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason. This one was an ARC from work. Not a personal favorite, but not a terrible book. 

- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I'd never read a Rainbow Rowell book, so I wanted to give it a try. It was kind of slow, and again, not an all-time favorite, but it was a really cute premise. Parts of it really hit home, and there were more than a couple highlight-worthy lines. 

- currently reading The Paris Library. It's been a bit of a slow start, but I'm hopeful that I'm really going to like it. A World War II novel about books and literature and libraries? You already know I'm in. (update: since adding this to the post, it's already gotten better and I am EXCITED.)

- also currently reading Uninvited. It's been one of the most frequently recommended books in my social media  feeds over the past few years, and my mom loved it, so I think it's time for me to give it a try. 

- ALSO currently reading Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. (I swear I don't typically read this many books at once!) One of my best friends and I are reading it together, so it's been fun to keep the same pace with someone else and have someone to talk to about it as we go!

e a t i n g :

- homemade cinnamon rolls and cinnamon bread, because when you have an abundance of sourdough, why not switch it up?

- leftover chipwiches from my sister's graduation party

- allllll the chicken salad. it just tastes like summertime, y'know?

- nachos have been the latest comfort food of the week, and I'm not complaining

- hi yes I promise I eat healthy food too but it's just so much more fun to talk about chipwiches than water and peanut butter toast, okay?

l i s t e n i n g :

- Come From Away. It's
 incredibly poignant and wonderful. 

- so much Ben Rector, per usual. 

- The Princess Diaries score, because it's the happiest thing to work to. 

- Island Song - forever my favorite underrated musical. 

I'm currently attempting to put together a summertime playlist, so drop your favorites in the comments below!

m o m e n t s :

- surprising friends on their birthdays - because even if quarantine is a thing, birthday surprises will never die.

- a spontaneous FaceTime call somehow turning into laughing until 3am. 

- the sweetest of snail mail surprises from Hanne, Hailey, and Jacy Rayn that made my days more than they'll ever know.

- so many evenings in June were spent sitting in the grass at our favorite park, rehearsing worship music for graduation. The sun would just be going down and everything would be golden and the slow, steady strumming of the guitar was the sweetest familiarity.

- finally getting to dance with my favorite person again - the BEST bit of normalcy.

- I had the absolute coolest senior shoot with my sister - she wanted to take photos at the art studio where she grew up, and the building itself is literally COVERED with paint. It's a photographer's dream, I'm telling you. After that, we did field photos at peak golden hour, and then grabbed some shots downtown with different flowering bushes. It was quite the adventure of a day, and so fun. 

- "senior night out" (aka takeout cheesecake at the park) with my favorite people the night before they graduated. the highest of highs and the lowest of lows have been with them, and laughing with them will always be my favorite.

- sitting under the twinkle lights in my backyard, staring up at the stars.


I hope you're all hanging in there and staying safe, my sweet friends. Whatever this season has looked like for you, I hope that you see so much good as we head into this next month. Wherever you're at with it all, know that I'm just an email or a DM away. 

Check in time: how's life been treating you? What has been keeping you sane? Any book/movie/show/podcast/song recommendations? How can I be praying for you?

Until next time. 

wishing you clear skies

Monday, June 8, 2020

is there anything better than a summer sunset?

The summer that I was fourteen, I fell in love with Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass.

It's a sweet middle grade novel about what happens when an eclipse brings three kids together for a brief but extraordinary moment. It's a book about friendship and change and hope, and I love it more than I can say. I've read it every summer since, and it's one of my favorite traditions.

Because the book centers around an eclipse, a lot of the story revolves around astronomy and stargazing. If you know anything about stargazing, you know that it's something that can only really be done on a clear night. Only when the sky is clear can you truly see the beauty of the heavens for all it's worth.

The hope for clear skies turns into a catchphrase of sorts. "I wish you clear skies," the characters say as they part. I always loved that. "I wish you clear skies." It's the purest hope, wishing clear skies for another.

These days in particular, I find myself praying more and more for clear skies, for rivers in the wasteland. We all know that it's been a heavy few months, and if I'm being honest, I have to admit that the hard and the heavy have been overtaking me more often than not.

Hope and light and encouragement can be hard to find. But I am infinitely grateful for the fact that within this creative community, I constantly see people every day working to put out just that - hope. For every post that goes across my screen that makes me want to completely throw in the towel, there never fails to be another one that does just the opposite. And I am so grateful for that. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by people who aren't content with what is but who are fighting for more.

Eleven months ago, I decided to jump in alongside them and begin something that, while many of you already know about, I've somehow never properly announced here on the blog before. (Apparently I need to work on the whole self-promotion thing).

The Tuesday Letters came about as the result of a litany of contrasting emotions - a love for letters, a detestation of Tuesdays, and a need for hope. Inspired by some incredible women that I'm going to be linking at the end of this post, the Tuesday Letters are a weekly encouragement email that I send out in the hopes of making the world feel even just a bit lighter. They're filled with everything from my crazy theatre stories to reflections on the craziness that we live in to what the Lord is teaching me as of late.

I've talked about ballet, and how sometimes the barre can teach you a lot more than just pliƩs. I've talked about community, and faithfulness, and about how sometimes I relate to Captain Hook just a little too muchMore often than not, I talk about grace, because it's the most important thing of all.

When I was first beginning to put this project together, I knew that I needed some sort of theme or motto to tie it all together, and that familiar phrase popped into my head - "wishing you clear skies". Because at the crux of it, that's what I hope that the Tuesday Letters are: a reminder that someone somewhere is rooting for you, cheering you on, and praying you see clear skies. When there isn't a clear solution and everything feels all tangled up, sometimes you just need a bit of encouragement to help you face it all, and it's always my hope that these letters can be that for you.

The Tuesday Letters have become a really incredible community, and I'm forever grateful to you all for that. You have no idea how much it truly makes my day to see your names pop up in my inbox after I send out a Tuesday Letter, and how grateful I am to get to know you. It is the absolute greatest privilege to get to hear your stories, and I hope you know that I don't take that lightly for a second.

So if you haven't joined in on the Tuesday Letters yet, I would definitely encourage you to head up to the link in the right hand corner of my blog and hit "subscribe", or hey - just click here. I would so love to have you as a part of this community.

And if you're in need of a little extra light, I want to point you towards some truly incredible humans who are doing some amazing things. I think that we all need to be reminded of the good that still remains, and these people will remind you just that.

one of the absolute sweetest, most positive people. graphic design and the cutest shop you ever did see.

i just love her so. the most talented photographer whose writing is so genuine and true.

there are few people on the planet that inspire me more than hannah brencher. everything that she creates is filled with truth. her monday club emails were one of the biggest inspirations to me as i was creating the concept of the tuesday letters. 

joanne's writing has been some of my absolute favorite throughout this quarantine. she has a thoughtfulness and poignancy to her words that i adore.

i discovered written to speak a few months ago and have fallen in love with tanner's writing. he writes with such a hope, and his theme of "i'm just happy to be here" always makes me smile.

how could i talk about positivity without mentioning these two incredible humans? they inspire me endlessly and i couldn't be prouder of all they do.

throughout this entire process, the humans of new york account has been sharing #quarantinestories, stories that have been sent in full of love and hope. i get so excited when brandon's daily post pops up on my feed - there have been some incredibly special stories.


I hope you're hanging in there through it all. Know some awesome people working to make the world a brighter place? Send them my way - I'd love to check them out. :-) Wishing you clear skies today and everyday, friends. 
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