Thursday, February 26, 2015

I'm Partying Today // Liebster Nominee Link-Up

We're partying around here today, because that's all that's appropriate at the end of what (to me) felt like the longest, coldest wintry  cebruary week of all times.  Maybe it's because I've been running outside, so the cold is just that much more real to me?  Or the fact that spring sports are almost here and so I keep expecting it to get warm and for the snow to melt?  Or the heeee-uuuge government test that I'm taking today and the hours on hours on hours that I spent studying for it?  All valid possibilities.  Whatever the reason, partying is in order.

First things first:  more party people, because I'm not really a party person myself so I need help.  Enter: the lovely ladies who I talked about last week - the ones who I'm nominating for my customized version of the Liebster Award.  They're going to hop on and add links to typical posts from their blogs so that you can meet them and see what they're like, because they're great.  Seriously, they are. 

Second things second: partying.  Like a concert party.  I want you to know that I'm being a risk-taker today, because I don't usually do blog posts about concerts or musicy things because I don't go to concerts frequently and I'm not musical.  So,  I sincerely hope that I'm not inciting your wrath forever with this one.  If you hate it, just know that it's not a new norm and please come back someday and give me another chance.

Deep breath.

Here we go.

The concert's name is Winter Jam.  Maybe you've heard of it?  It's 10 different Christians artists and a speaker that tour the U.S. for a few months during the (you guessed it) winter, and I went last weekend and it was so fun!  In other words, I got the softest free t-shirt ever and there were giant balloons involved and I found a boy band that totally beats One Direction, complete with accents and cool hair.

The concert was headlined by Skillet, which usually isn't my favorite.  My brother always blasts it in the kitchen when it's his night to do the dishes, and our house is small so you can't escape the loud anywhere.  I thought that I would unenjoy them in person as much as at home.  I was wrong.

I think it all started when Jen Ledger came out onstage before the show for Q & A with the audience and started being adorable.   She's Skillet's drummer, and she talked about her story and how she likes her coffee in the most open, honest way.  She's from out of the country, and she ended up connecting with the Skillet people in the most unintentional way in the world.  She used to have stage fright, and she likes her coffee with lots of caramel.

And then there was the actual show.  It was so good!  There was fire and Jen drummed while getting lifted up and spun and, yeah, it was loud and, yeah, there were a ton of screaming people.  I loved it.

And then Family Force Five, which was a party in itself.  I quickly identified with the band's lead singer, who walked out in this blazer and danced in almost the exact same way that I do when I'm at home and no one's watching.   He's my spirit animal.  

Giant balloons happened.  They came out of nowhere and made me forget everything other than how to get a chance to hit one of them for the remainder of the song, at which point a bunch of professional balloon poppers walked around and popped them all. 

My favorite: for King and Country.  For the thirteenth time, I don't know things about music, but I know that every single guy played multiple instruments, that the music sounded just how I like music to sound, and that they had an amazing message to share.  Here, just listen.  

Joel and Luke are brothers from Australia who are in America for over 300 tour dates with their five other band guys (you can find tour dates here, by the way).  After seeing 4 or 5 songs at Winter Jam, I've got my heart set on seeing them in August.  I couldn't get enough of their sound and fancy king-related outfits, and I'll definitely be back for more. 

The music side of the show was great - all of the artists are crazy talented, as would be expected of artists at a concert that you pay money to see.  Even better was the fact that we got the chance to get to meet them a little bit.  They all were really great about sharing stories and spent a lot of time interacting with the crowd, and they were all so humble and real.  I mean, I'm sure that everyone who gives concerts tries to be humble and real, but I've been to concerts before and this was different.  I'd recommend it, every time.

That's about it for Friday partying, unless you want to go give those songs another listen - be my guest!  Go have a great weekend and relax (or don't) and enjoy it.

See ya!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's a Good Day When // 28 Things That Make Me Smile

So, it turns out that the things that you learn in school actually are helpful for real life.  Who knew, right?

I'm taking my first psychology class ever this year (and absolutely loving it,  nerd alert).  We're currently learning about memory in there, and I happen to think that it's really, really fascinating, (nerd alert: code red*) especially this weird thing that tends to happen to the things that we remember.  When we think back on a given day, the emotional high or low point tends to color the way that we remember the entire period - that's why throwing up on a ride at the fair causes you to remember the whole experience as a disaster even though you actually loved every other second, or the one nice thing that a person said to you on a first date can make it seem like the entire date was good, even though it was actually a little on the awkward side. 

 It's this phenomenon that explains why small things have the ability to "make our day."  When our teacher first explained all that to us, I was a little disappointed that my memory was so dishonest.  However, the sneaky, manipulative part of me quickly realized that I could work that in my favor.  It only takes one little good thing to make a whole day seem great, so I'm going to take advantage of that!  I'll listen to a song that I can really belt or take the time to make myself a food that I really like or find a way to trick a stranger into complementing me, and - BOOM - instant good day! 

For example, making cookies.  I love making cookies. If we're being honest, I think it's mostly because I get to eat them later, but I sometimes share.  I just made a huuuugggeee batch of no bakes yesterday, and if you made my day I might be persuaded to ship you one or several. Here, have some ideas to get you started.  It's a good day when . . .

// The Target dollar section is 70% off.  Yes, that is a real thing, and, yes, it's as amazing as it sounds. 

// A stranger complements me.  Next time you see a stranger with extremely white teeth or really cool earbuds and you notice, YOU TELL THEM and tell them I sent you.

// My current most favorite song of all times is on the radio.  And then it's on again on another station, immediately afterwards and so I never have to stop listening to it for five minutes.

// Someone makes me breakfast in bed.  Or in any location, really. My little sister has been really good about doing this for me for most of my birthdays since she's been able to pour cereal, and I don't want to say that I love her more because of it but my taste buds beg to differ.

// I feel like I have my life together.  This feeling doesn't occur often for me, but when it does, it's one of the best things ever. 

// I laugh at something until I cry. (Every day.)

// I nail a joke and it makes someone else laugh until they cry. (Sometimes On occasion very rarely)

// School gets called off for -12 degree weather and I get to bury myself back under alllll the blankets. 

// Someone follows me on Bloglovin.  (Shameless advertising? Perhaps.  But, TBH it genuinely does make my day.  If you don't care what I have to say, though, don't follow me, because Bloglovin' tells me when people unfollow me and I try not to let it bother me but it does the opposite of making my day.)

//  I wake up and my room is really clean and I didn't even clean it. It's never happened to me, but if it did I would be happy for at least a week. (Hey, mom!)

// I find out someone else's favorite something is the same as my favorite something.  I'm pretty sure that the day I found another person who's favorite color was yellow I almost cried.

// I don't have plans on a Saturday morning and have enough time to sleep in, make a fancy breakfast, do my devotion, work out, shower, and actually try in regards to my hair and makeup before going anywhere.  More often, I have enough time before I leave for school to kind of brush my hair, make sure I have clothing covering all of the necessary places (that makes it sound like I dress like a slut but I don't because DRESSCODE and MORALS), and eat breakfast in the car.

// The sun is shining.

// Friends is on TV right when I need it to be.  (AKA, while doing homework.)

// My whole entire family is home on the same night and we play cards and laugh and act like our usual happy, harmonious selves. (and I win.)

// I get to wear my rain boots.

// Someone gives me a free drink card for Starbucks.

// Anything that is a positive surprise happens.  Positive as in good, not as in absolute.  Please do not surprise me with the news that my dog died and expect me to be happy about it.  That's sick.

From my surprise 16th birthday party. See, I like it! 

// I accidentally discover something cool before everyone else and get to tell all of my friends about it and be a hipster.

// I do strenuous physical activity and don't feel like I'm going to die.

// It's a good hair day.

// I wear tights that actually stay on without falling off or riding up when I walk. (I.e., not today.)

// Someone brings surprise food to a class or to lunch or anytime during school. 

// Along those lines, when my friend offers to trade frosting with me so that I can eat a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting, that's a good day.  Why do store bought cupcakes think the cake and frosting have to match?  They don't.

// I get snail mail from an actual person with actual handwriting on it.  My grandparents do birthday cards right - they write a TON of words on them - and it's the best! 

// Someone that I like gets really good news.  I'm not even trying so sound like a nice, sensitive person, because I'm actually not.  For some reason, things like that just warm my heart. 

// I accidentally get home late because of having fun.  (Except the time when I backed into a pole and cracked the back bumper in the process.) 

// It's Friday and I get my weekly Diet Coke fix after school.  It always tastes so, so good, but I can really stop anytime I want. 

On reviewing this list, I'm noticing that most of my favorites have something to do with food or surprises, so any combination of the two should guarantee you a no bake cookie or five.


P.S. What makes it a good day in your book?

*The most extreme level of nerd alert.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I'm Sorry; I Got Home Late // What I'm Reading

It's 2:19 on Sunday morning as I start to write this, because that's the kind of person I am.  I should probably pretend that I'm a good blogger who had this post ready waayyy earlier in the week, because I'm on top of things. Unfortunately, that would be a lie, because obviously I'm just a mediocre blogger who plans her time poorly and ends up writing her Sunday blog post after getting home late from a concert on Saturday night.  (The concert, by the way, was Winter Jam, and it was amazing.  We'll talk about that later.)  The good news is that, however ridiculously I've procrastinated putting these links together for you, they're here and they're on time.  Let's get into it. 

We're writers because we write. Thanks to Tiffany Han for reminding me of that. 

It starts with men's softball and moves on to encompass guilt, confidence, and what to wear - beautifully. 

{5 Reasons Why Being On Your Own Is A Good Thing}
Being on your own is good for all kinds of things, and Lena lays them out simply - not too deeply insightful or heavy.

Because YUM and easy.  I'm going to try this for sure this week. 

And these, I actually did make.  I may have left one batch in the oven so long that they were literally vaporized. Don't do that.  They are so, so addicting, so make them at your own risk.  (But, seriously, make them.) 

Still not sure what to give up for Lent? Here ya go: what I should give up for Lent, but I'm absolutely not + 7 things I'm definitely not giving up for Lent + 10 things you should give up for Lent

And, if you're the news type, a few things I found interesting this week: UMass stopped discriminating + a same-sex couple got married legally even though it's banned where they did + a boy caught a fish so big I'm not sure it's real.  

Have a lovely Sunday!  I'll be sleeping a little and spending the evening watching Great Expectations with my AP English class at our teacher's house - small school perks! 

On deck: Things that make it a good day. 

See you!


Friday, February 20, 2015

You Can't Actually Fence Sit // Why Apathy Isn't Real

Apathy seems to keep coming up.  In government class, and in chapel, and in religion class, and probably somewhere else that I didn't care enough to take note of.  (Get it? That was a reference to being apathetic. Haha. )  It keeps coming up, and it's been bugging me, too.  You know how sometimes things that you hear seem to find a way to latch onto your brain and not leave, like, ever?  That's me.  Everything anyone ever says sounds like "apathy" and my soup noodles spelled it out (it wasn't even alphabet soup . . . I know) and my eyes keep rearranging letters to spell "apathy" (I'm not even dyslexic . . . I KNOW.Crazy.)  Jk.  It's just been on the brain. 

When I have things on the brain, especially things that are kind of complicated and confusing, the solution is usually to write it out.  Usually in blog form, unless it's something 1) really embarrassing (I usually end up posting those once they're far enough in the past to not be painful, anyway) 2) really personal 3) really boring.  Let's talk about apathy, then, shall we?  I think it qualifies as blog-thinking worthy. 

As the whole apathy thing rolls around in my head (and on the pages of my books and in my non-alphabet soup), I've been observing.  Here, you can take a look. 

// Not choosing one way or another is a choice.  I tend to be pretty non-confrontational and deathly afraid of failure, so a lot of times I'll act apathetically in order to avoid making someone mad or doing something wrong.  If I don't know how to act, I'll just not act.  Example:  Not talking to my friend who's obviously having a crappy day because for fear of making it worse.  Example: Not speaking up when I see something wrong happening because I don't want to create a conflict.  Example: Not volunteering for / participating in something that I'm not completely sure I'll do well at. Well, guess what, Allie? (I sometimes blog to myself because I'm a narcissist.)  As it turns out, not acting at all counts as doing something.  There's not really a way to avoid making a decision as to how to act or speak, because that in itself is a decision, and it's the wrong one.  It's like what MLK said, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."  

You'd probably be able to appreciate that quote a lot more if you'd read his letter from Birmingham jail.  I'm going to assume that, since your government teacher isn't forcing you to read it, you probably won't, and hope that those words can mean something to you anyway.  (BTW, I totally recommend reading it - I just know what I'd do in your shoes.) 

// Apathy comes from paying too much attention to me. Okay, I can't take complete credit for this one.  Or any credit at all.  Observation credit goes to Olivia*, who talked to me about apathy in religion class. Thanks, Olivia.  Okay, now she can't sue me.  Let's get on with it.  

Olivia* wisely pointed out to me that apathy is so easy to do because sometimes we're too focused on ourselves to even take notice of the people that we're not supposed to be acting apathetic towards.  In other words, apathy doesn't usually intentionally because we're ignoring our fellow humans; it's completely unintentional.  We're too busy looking at ourselves to see anyone else.  You know that "Oh my gosh, I had no idea" feeling that comes when you find out about something that's been going on for forever, right in front of you, to someone you care about, that you simply overlooked?  I get that one a lot, and that's what I'm talking about. 

// Apathy gets in the way of God's best plan for my life. Not that long ago, I realized that, in order to do what God wants me to, I've got to get better at people.  (My inner introvert jammed her earbuds in, grabbed a book, and ran for the nearest sparsely-populated coffee shop.) But, really, in order to do what God wants, which is based on making friends and loving and supporting them, apathy can't really be in the picture.  If I'm too wrapped up in my own thoughts or tired or grumpy to start a conversation with someone, I'm definitely not going to have a chance to make friends or ever help them in any way.  

The plus side of this one is that God wants to help me not be apathetic, because then I can do his work better.  He can help me to do things that I don't feel like doing and to get better at looking at other people more than myself; however, he also completely gets me when I'm feeling less than enthusiastic.  He was a human for a while once, so he understands what I'm going through, making him the best helper ever.

// Lack of action is socially acceptable and easy.  Apathy is so common because it's so easy.  Ignoring the new kid or not offering to help a friend right away prevents me from having to go out of my way. So. Easy. I've also noticed that it's pretty rare for a person to be called out for not caring enough.  Since apathy is a passive thing, it's rarely condemned.  It's kind of hard to point at someone and say, "You're being so apathetic!  Shame on you!" because, well, they aren't doing anything.  So we keep apathizing, because it's safe.  

It's probably pretty common knowledge that safer isn't better, right?  I mean, except for when you're climbing a very tall thing or jaywalking.  Not worth it. The whole stepping-out-of-your-comfort-zone thing that I always hate to hear because I'm very attached to mine comes into play here.  This is definitely a case in which doing the hard thing is the way to go (why is it always like that?)  

Apathy's kind of enigmatic (I just learned that word today - be proud and let me know if I used it wrong) because it's an absence of something, kind of like darkness or coldness.  It just kind of sneaks in there, making it really hard to avoid, and, also like darkness and coldness, it has a presence that demands to be felt. (Looking at you, 30-below forecast.)  We know it's there, and it affects the people we're around and probably like way too much to knowingly neglect.  

It's so hard to not be apathetic - it's so much a part of what humans are.  I'd suggest that we all just stop trying to apathetic ever, at all, (because how great would that be?) but that's kind of unreasonable.  I believe that God's the only way that I can start genuinely caring about other people and get rid of apathy before it does too much damage.  So, I think I'll ask him for help and go from there.

*That's not her name. 

See you next time!


U, me and the kids

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How Many Michael Scott Quotes? // Liebster Award

Guess what? Hump day!  

Never gets old. 

These last couple days have been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster, partly because I inflicted myself with finally watching the last two episodes of The Office twice in twenty - four hours.  I'd been avoiding finishing the series on Netflix for weeks because I just couldn't bear the thought of the show being over, but I finally broke down and did it.  And then tore my heart out again the next day because I had to watch them again.  I mean, that's like having your fish die twice or breaking your leg twice or going through a break up twice.  (At least, I imagine that's what it's like.)  It was rough.  

In other news, my friend and the blogger behind Just Another Girl nominated me for the Liebster Award, and that's gone a long way in brightening up my Office-less life.  (No, I'm not overreacting, thanks.) The Liebster Award is a way for new bloggers to get to know each other and to being attention to blogs that they think are worth a look - it's really cool!  Because I'm not over The Office yet and I love doing Liebster-y things, alllll of it is here for your enjoyment today. 

1 // What's your favourite season? My instinct is to say spring, but think that's just the cabin fever talking because, nine times out of ten, I'd say fall.  These below-zero temps and ceaseless snow have me wishing for that first day of spring something fierce, I must say.  Honestly, once it hits 30 I'll be pretty happy. 

2 // If you could go to any concert/festival for free which one would you go to?
TSwift.  Sue me. 

I want to dance to Shake If Off and belt Blank Space and jam to all of the old country Taylor and I mean meeting her would be okay.  Plus, front row seats to this would cost in the nieghborhood of millions of dollars normally, so I think this is a good use of my free concert pass.

3 // If you could only live with one make up for the rest of your life which one would you choose?
That's be my foundation, because sometimes my skin decides to mutiny and it's not pretty, and some people just don't understand. 

4 // Whats your most precious item? and how did you get it?
Because I'm a very deep human being with my priorities in order, I tend to like people and memories more than things. 

 Or maybe I just don't really have nice things.  Whatever the reason, it basically comes down the the fact that my most precious item is probably this giant box full of old stuff that I have in my room - things like old movie tickets and notes and art projects that I've kept over the years, because I'm a hoarder. That's a huge cop out because it has a lot of smaller things in it, but it's true. 

5 // What's the one thing you regret doing/look back and cringe at? 
OH BOY.  Since I like the way life is right now, there's not really much that I regret having happen to me. But cringe? How about every day of my life from age 12-14?  (I.e., this post)  I used to do a lot of talking without thinking, and that made me say a lot of really horrible, insensitive things.  Example: one time I told a girl that the guy who'd asked her to a dance had been planning on asking me first.  Which was true, but didn't need to be said.  And I wasn't even trying to be an awful jerk - I just started making conversation and that's where it went. 

6 // What's your favourite part of your body?
I am not good at being serious when complimenting myself or anyone, so here goes nothing.  Deep breath. My legs are my favorite because they're disproportionately long compared to my body which is really convenient for sports things like running. And there it is.

7 // If your life was a movie who would you want to play you/your family?
Zac Efron is my favorite, but I don't think him playing me would work out that well because we're different genders, but I think he could play my dad or something.  I'd play myself, of course, and then we'd become acting buddies and it would be amazing.

8 // Favourite quote? I've got kind of a ridiculous amount of favorite quotes, but one I've been thinking about a lot lately comes from a conversation I had with my grandpa when he came to town a few weeks ago.  He's a psychology major and a PhD and did his dissertation on Family Systems, so he knows a lot of things about people and he told me this:

"You can't blame people or get mad at them for their actions.  People do the best they have with what they know."

And then I wrote this about it. 

(Also, this one.)

9 // If you could star in any movie(new or old) which movie would you like to be in?

Ask anyone who has tried to talk to me about movies and you'll quickly find that I am not good at movies.  In fact, the fact that I've now had to answer two movie-related questions is kind of giving me anxiety.  But, since I have to choose let's say Grease because I've been obsessed lately.  And any movie that Molly Ringwald was in in the 80s, tbh. 

10 // Where do you think the most beautiful place in the world is?

This is so tough!  I think the most beautiful place I've been is either the ocean or a farm in the mountains, but every time I see pictures from rice paddies in China or cliffs in Iceland or those colorful towns on hillsides in Greece, my heart freaks out a little.  Is all the places an okay answer? Because I feel like that's actually the right answer. 

11 // Your dream job as a child and your dream job now?

When I was really little, I think I always assumed I'd be a pastor, like my dad.  He always  wore this cool dress (or robe - I called it a dress) on Sundays, and I was so excited to grow up and wear one just like his someday.  Now, I think it would be really cool to do something that involves psychology and writing and traveling, so if anyone knows of a job like that, let me know please try and convince them to hold it for me for about eight years. Thanks!

The Liebster Award gets passed around by nomination, so now it's my turn to nominate some of my favorite bloggers.  I'm going to do something a little different with this, though.  Instead of writing questions all of the bloggers to answer, I'm going to host a link up right here next Friday so that they can link up one of their most recent posts to share with you all!  That way, you can get a taste of what their blogs are like and what they usually write!

Carolyn from Carolyn's Simple Life

Live from Healthy Liv

Eden from edenroses

Kiera from Narwhal Knits

Viviane from Barely Adult

Danielle from Truly Scrumptious Cakes And Bakes

Rosie and Lydia from Two Little Pigs Down Under

Katelyn Polich from Coffee and a MacBook

Emma from A Child Found

Make sure to be back next Friday to read alllll the posts - they're going to be great!


P.S. I'm linking up with Nicole at Treasure Tromp, and I recommend it because you can link up whatever the heck you want and Nicole's lovely.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hi, I'm Nicholas // Scholarship Competitions Are Hard

Did I mention that I competed for money last Saturday? No? Well, I did.  As a senior in high school, I'm currently behind the game (as usual) and still trying to figure out where (or if) I want to go to college next year.  I've applied to schools with 3,000 students and schools with 40,000 students and considered running away for a gap year in Africa to avoid making a decision do mission work.  I've yet to make a decision or even to lean noticeably in any one direction, so I'm keeping my options really diverse and wide open.

I'm quickly learning that "keeping my options open" involves making sure that all of the schools I apply to want give me a ton of money, because college is sinfully expensive.  I mean, from what I understand, you could mortgage pretty much your entire life and still not have enough dollars to get yourself a degree. Thus, hours upon hours of essay writing, online form filling outing, and whirlwind trips to various colleges to interview with faculty and charm their wallets empty. 

I've spend several weekends firmly planted on my couch, doing college things and drinking literally pitchers full of Crystal Light lemonade and eating cheese / caramel popcorn for every meal.  That's one way of doing it, and very effective, especially when you include the cheese / caramel popcorn (crack.) Last weekend, however, the money-making strategy was to drive across the state to Grand Valley, where, among other things, we were supposed to interview with two faculty members and leave such a lasting impression that they just couldn't resist handing us a free college experience.
I don't know about you, but events that could potentially influence MY ENTIRE LIFE, forever, make me kind of nervous.  After a big, fancy lunch spent listening to overzealous parents talk about strategies for making a good impression on our interviewers (people form their opinion of you in the first five seconds they know you, apparently, and you should always have a question when they ask, "Any questions?), us victims  students were divided into groups and herded towards different areas of the campus. As my guide brought a group of about ten scholarship hopefuls, including me, to our appointed interview spots, my palm started sweating profusely.  Just my right hand, the one you use to shake the hands of people who have lots of money to give you.  Sweaty palms are off-putting, so I wiped it off on my pants leg and tried to hear our guide over the sound of my pounding heart as she called off a name at each door, dropping a student off with his or her interviewers.  As each person was called and went into an office to try and get money, the group got smaller and I got more nervous. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Because We Get An Extra Day // What I'm Reading

Happy Sunday, world!  How are you? Is the weather pretty? Do you get to stay home from school or work tomorrow because of a winter break or President's Day? Long weekends are such a good thing, aren't they?

I'm one hundred percent in favor of one more weekend day, because I partied hard last night (cough cough, got home at 10 and immediately went to bed) and am spending today working and babysitting.  Tomorrow will definitely be full of blog catching up and book reading and getting my life together somewhat ( I'm looking at you, college applications.)  Whether you've got a long weekend or not, everyone could use a break, right? Kick back with your iPad and a glass of something delicious - here's what I'm reading!

Remember that kid from Serial?  It turns out that everything wasn't completely right the first time and he's getting another chance, thanks in part to the podcast.


I read a few pages of Fifty Shades when it first came out to find out what the buzz was about, and it's just not a good idea.  Here's one perspective that I think sheds a lot of light on why something that (I think, at least) is so clearly wrong can be so wildly popular.


Get out that bucket list! Here are a few crazy things and few totally ordinary things that you're going to want to add.


Experts weigh in at Cupcakes and Cashmere with their best advice on what to do to land a job.


This bookshelf is so cool and rustic, and the DIY part doesn't sound nearly as intimidating as building a bookshelf should.  My dad doesn't really need that ladder, does he?

Where do you fall with the whole Fifty Shades of Grey thing?  Which of the seventeen things can you not wait to cross off your bucket list now?

I'll be right back here tomorrow with my super-embarrassing scholarship competition story, so get excited about that!

Until then,


P.S. I'm joining Karen from Calm to Conniption for The Ultimate Rabbit hole, a link up for posts full of links!  If you regularly do that kind of post, this is a really cool way of meeting other bloggers and going as deep down the internet rabbit hole as humanly possible.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Because Chocolate // Reasons to Love Valentine's Day

So, Valentine's Day.  I get the idea that it's one of those things that most people either love or hate.  Generally, the idea is that if you have a hot boyfriend to take you on a date and buy you 45802 roses, you'll love Valentines Day, and if you don't, you'll stay home with your cats and hate it.  I personally have never experienced either of those, so I can't really identify, but I happen to be a part of the Valentine's Day loving group.  I've been single for pretty much every Valentine's Day ever and had a boyfriend for exactly one of them (fun fact: I spent that one making cookies and watching chick flicks with girlfriends anyway), and I've consistently enjoyed it every. single. time.  Because romantic interests come and go, but there are some much more important Valentines Day things that stay the same FOREVER.  Here's to you, Hallmark.  Thanks for inventing a holiday that encourages people to buy me cards and chocolate, because I actually enjoy cards and chocolate.

Chocolate | I mean, duh.  Date, no date, friends, no friends, cats, no cats - there is always chocolate to be found somewhere.  Even if that just means that I go to CVS on Valentines Day and all of the pink M&Ms are really cheap and I buy them all up for myself.  There is chocolate, and it makes me happy.  And there is everything right about that. 

Tumblr Valentines |

Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm Trying My Best // The Thing About Empathy

I've come to realize that I have a real affinity for old people.

I just Merriam-Webstered "affinity" because I wasn't completely confident in my word choice, and it told me:

af-fin-it-y, noun; a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests

So, maybe I didn't choose exactly the right word.  I definitely don't have the same qualities and interests as most people over the age of sixty-five.  I still stay out past ten p.m. sometimes, I don't need vision correction, and I'm hopelessly incompetent when it comes to knitting or crossword puzzles.  I guess a better word would be "appreciation."

I can't pinpoint exactly when it started, but I've started to notice that old people have a lot of good stuff to say.  They have so much wisdom and experience, and I could just soak it up for hours and hours.  I'm lucky to have two sets of grandparents who are healthy and really mentally sharp, and the genius things that come out of their mouths never cease to amaze me.

One grandparent, my mom's dad, has his doctorate in Family Systems.  You don't have to know what that is (I don't) - for our purposes, we just need to know that he's spent a lot of time studying psychology and the way people interact.  After earning his PhD and spending some time working in a mental institution and in the Peace Corps, he spent a lot of his life helping churches solve their conflicts, and now he's retired and does some life coaching and mentoring on the side.  In other words, he's really cool.

He and my grandma came to visit about a month ago, and I got to spend some time picking his very pick-able brain about all the things he knows about people.  I think it's fascinating, and he's more than happy to share, so we usually end up spending a lot of time sitting in the living room, him talking and me nodding and taking mental notes at rapid speed.  Most recently, we discussed (see also: I was lectured on, in the very best way) his career as a mediator in churches.  He was explaining how he handled working with people who just seemed, well, really out there to me, when he said something that's been on my mind ever since.

"You can't ever be mad at people for the way they act - you have to have some empathy.  People do the best they can with what they know." He called it the Empathy Principle.

Isn't that cool?  The more I think about it and the more people I have the chance apply it to, the more I realize how true it is.  I've found it to be a great attitude to have when dealing with people, especially those who I have trouble seeing eye to eye with.  The Empathy Principal says that, yes, sometimes people are going to be incredibly difficult.  It doesn't excuse people who do things that I don't understand, but it tells me that there's always a reason behind those actions.  It tells me to try and try and see things from another person's perspective before I get mad at them - maybe the impatient guy at Starbucks who takes my spot in line has a really important interview coming up or is too preoccupied with what his wife just said to him to even notice that I was standing there.  Don't get me wrong, I still think it's crime to deprive someone of their caffeine fix for even ninety more seconds, but as I'm waiting for him to take his order, I can understand where he's coming from a little.

  My mind it a lot more peaceful when I focus on peoples' entire stories rather than isolated actions.

I love the Empathy Principle because it takes away any false responsibility that I might feel for the way people act towards me.  I don't know about you, but when a friend or family member or even total stranger treats me unkindly, my mind sometimes slips to What did I do?  Sometimes, my actions have something to do with whatever's been done to me, but most of the time it has more to do with a late night or a stressful family situation than anything remotely related to me. (Get over yourself, Allie.  You're not that big of a deal.)  When I consider what the person I'm interacting with is going through, what their background and experiences are, I can lose that heavy burden of worrying about what's wrong with me and start caring about them instead.

When I think about what's driving another person before what their problem is with me, I can love them better.  I find myself offering a  How can I help you? before a defensive What did I do? It's crazy how far that simple change of words goes to better a situation.  How can I help you? gets right at the heart of what the person I'm talking to needs, helping me to understand and assist them all at once.

The Empathy Principle levels the playing field.  When people's actions are simplified way down to "doing the best we can with what we know," it shows that we're all pretty much the same.  We're all trying, our results just look different because we all have different circumstances and personalities and opportunities.  My trying looks different from my brother's trying which looks different from my teacher's trying - when you take away what we know, the people around us and the lessons we've picked up over the years, no one is better or worse than anyone. My grandpa's words, more than anything else, were incredibly humbling to me.  I don't get along with another person not because they're horrible and I'm not, or because I'm horrible and they're not, but because we're working with different experiences.

I think maybe another reason that I like old people is that most of them have some version of the Empathy Principle figured out for themselves.  They've done enough life to understand that, at the very least, it doesn't make sense to respond to others with anything other than other than empathy.  If I can figure that out right now, that would be pretty cool!

Until next time,


P.S. Nicole hosts one of the best link ups at Treasure Tromp.  Thanks, Nicole!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Because Words Are More Fun Than Pre-Calculus Homework // What I Am Reading

As you're reading this, I'm curled up in the big, blue reclining armchair in the corner, where no one will bother to look for me but not so obscure that I can't call out to ask for another mug of hot cocoa.  It's been a little bit of a crazy week for me - I started my first real job, participated in a scholarship competition across the state, and whirled home in time for Sadie Hawkins and all of the festivities that come with it. (i.e., pancake eating, sledding, and sleepover giggling.  It's a lot of work. )  

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's a little run down today.  The week's events have been wearing away at just about everyone, I'm sure.  There's been hacking and some scary stuff from Isis  and new, possibly freer internet policy along with the roller coaster of emotions that I, for one, experienced as I learned about Harper Lee's new/long-lost novel.  It's good to know about those things; to empathize and to be able to participate in what's going on around us.  Let's take a few minutes to appreciate some pretty things though, yeah?   Stunning photos of traveling Americans taken by a hitchhiking amateur photographer, inspiration from an incredible Detroit working man, and dreams of world-renowned architecture and gyros from Greece. Because bad things happen and it's important to know about them and to empathize and participate in what's up, but it's also important to see the other side of the story. Dig in!


Mike Brodie hitchhiked across the country and captured it, then disappeared from the picture-taking world and left this behind.


Some people are incredible in their willingness to walk the extra mile.  This guy is one of them, literally.


Amber Thomas of Mr. Thomas and Me gives her guide to Twitter chats and how to make them really work + have fun doing it.


Harper Lee wrote a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, and it's being released.  Sounds like a win-win, but there's question as to whether that's the way she really wants things. 


One of my good blogger and real-life friends, Allison from Something Beautiful, shows you around Greece, from obscure, accidental finds to world-famous architecture.

Happy Sunday!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Promise I'm More Socially Awkward Than You // Sadie Hawkins Throwback

This week is a pretty exciting one.  No, you're not missing a national holiday or any big news, sorry.  Generally, there's not much going on. In my high school version of life, though, things couldn't get much more festive, and I absolutely love it when things are festive.  It's Sadies Week where I go to school, which means that there's a dance on Saturday and that the intervening time is going to be spent dressing up for themed days, competing in school-wide assemblies, and making last-minute plans for Sadie Hawkins.  I can't wait. 

By my fourth time through, I'm counting on Sadie Hawkins being kind of a walk in the park.  I'm planning on hanging out with some of my closest friends before and after and bringing a date that I know I like being around, both of which usually help things to go pretty smoothly.  I'm planning on keeping awkward moments to a minimum and enjoying myself, which you'd think would be a given.  If you were to stalk back through my Facebook timeline (like I may have just done), however, it would tell you a different story.  Apparently, I like to subject myself to unnecessarily difficult / awkward situations, especially when the first weekend in February rolls around every year.  In honor of finally getting Sadie's right, let's take a walk down memory lane and take a look at all the ways I've gotten it wrong.  It's okay to laugh. 

Please enjoy this 8th grade webcam selfie.  #nofilter.

Freshman Year // February, 2012

My first ever Sadie Hawkins started out a little rough - as in, from the moment I asked my date to the dance.  After a lot of thinking and Google searching (to absolutely no avail - thanks, Google) I'd decided to put the poor kid through a rigorous scavenger hunt involving an extensive tour of the school and as many friends and teachers as I could possibly involve.  Everything went well until the last teacher dropped the ball and forgot the tell him to go to the courtyard, where I was waiting to pop the invitation.  End result: I was forced to duck inside, motion for him to come meet me, and go back out to my post to act like nothing had gone wrong.  He said yes with an audience of at least fourteen excited freshman girls watching it all through the huge cafeteria windows.  

The actual dance was mostly uneventful, if you don't bring up a close call involving our waitress and a butter knife when we were out to dinner before hand. So I don't usually bring that up. 

Most of the pictures turned out like this, so that's fun.

Sophomore Year // February, 2013

I think I succeeded at being awkward the best this year.  For reasons that I will never understand, I decided to ask a boy who I'd only ever talked to once in my life to go with me.  Bad. No. Ugh, I cringe just writing about it. I mean, physical pain. The things I do for this blog, I tell ya. Since I'd rarely talked to him before, I sought outside intelligence in the form of the school gossip, who told me he'd say yes, which he did.  So far, so good. 

There's a tradition at my high school of matching t-shirts with your date to Sadie Hawkins.  I had plans to go T-shirt shopping with my date after school the Friday before Sadie's, but we ended up having a snow day, which turned into my dad driving me around on really unsafe roads in search of a shirt to wear at almost the last minute.  It was an endless cycle of rocking our minivan back and forth to get it out of the snow, driving to the next store, tearing through every T-shirt rack with reckless intensity, frantically taking pictures of every possible candidate and sending them to a carefully chosen jury of friends, loved ones, and certified fashion experts, and leaving in my wake a store that looked like it had endured war rather than an emotionally unstable teenage girl.  

By the time we'd seen (and wrecked) more than enough boutiques, custom T-shirt stands, and department stores for both of us, my dad and I were both ready to get home and decided that this store would be our last stop, even if they didn't sell T-shirts at all.  (Don't worry; they had T-shirts.  I didn't have to go to Sadie Hawkins shirtless.)  I'd just begun my usual unfolding - and - rejecting number when I found it.  The shirt.  It was black, and said "YOLO" on it, except one of the Os had been replaced with a peanut butter cup.  Why was this shirt perfect, you ask? Well, it just so happened that my date was allergic to peanut butter.  Like, deathly allergic.  Please tell me you see the irony in that?  Sadistic? Maybe.  But funny.  A Reese's cup was definitely a YOLO kind of thing for him, and my deranged, overworked brain found that hilarious.  

I have not other photographic evidence of the YOLO shirt, because it hurts too much.  Special thanks to Photo Grid for helping me to protect my friends' identities.

Also, the shirts only came in girls' cuts, AKA short sleeves, a much slimmer fit, and a lower neckline.  I bought him an extra large, but the feminine-ness was still painfully obvious. He commented at one point that if he hadn't had a shirt on underneath, I'd be able to see cleavage.  He was probably right.  So, there's that. 

To make matters worse, he didn't get the joke. Not even close. 

Did I mention that bowling comes invariably with school dances?  I'd like to think that I've gotten more mature when it comes to bowling, but the truth is that I usually get frustrated after my fifth gutter ball and start pouting, because what competition is fun when you're not winning?

Junior Year // February 2014

Actually, last year may have been my most successful Sadie Hawkins yet.  I actually knew my date and we had a good time and I was wise enough to buy mens t-shirts. The only awkward thing that came into play there was the fact that I volunteered us to go out before the dance with a friend and his date, who he didn't know very well at all, for moral support.  You guys, never, ever, ever let me volunteer myself to help make your social situation less awkward.  If you need someone to stand silently in the kitchen with your date, petting your dog and making the occasional completely irrelevant, off-the-wall comment while you talk to your date's parents and siblings your own parents and siblings all at once,  I'm your girl.  If you need someone to actually make the encounter smoother and less stressful, please pick someone else.  Please. 

Senior Year // February 2015

Who knows.  With Sadie's two days away, I'm planning on bringing a date but have get to ask him, buy t-shirts, or even make plans for how to ask him.  I'd say that there's a lot of potential for good / embarrassing stories in that.  

I'll let you know how it goes!


Alright, spill it.  Any embarrassing school dance stories?  I'd even be open to made up ones, if you think it would make me feel less alone.  

P.S. Linking up with Nicolefor Treat Yo'self Thursday! 
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