Cultivating Curiosity

I was a very inquisitive child. I remember my childhood brain vividly; my mind was saturated, soaked with a quirky imagination, my dark green eyes always widened in fascination. I had a couple of chipped teeth, proof of my long days of playing, and a big, tender heart.

I remember the books—oh, the books!

A giant case of all of my favorite titles sat unwavering outside of the white wooden door to my bedroom. On the occasions that I could coax my golden retriever into my towering, blankety fort, I would read her/him/her (Ginger, Spencer, and Baylee, respectively) storybooks, careful to give full view of the pictures to the set of chocolate brown eyes next to me. There were even big kid books, stacked on the tippy-top shelf, gleaming in all of their grown-up glory. I would run my tiny, unpolished fingers over the titles, praying that each book would silently and graciously bless me with the ability to read long words one day. Atlases and chemistry manuals and Kyle’s battered European History text each showered me with tiny kisses, down in my little soft fort, telling me that one day I would be tall enough to reach and old enough to understand. In the meantime, it was princesses and fairies, noble knights, and a gorgeous pink book with gold-rimmed pages brimming with bedtime tales. I was fiercely curious, eager to dip my toes into other cultures and lands, going for a midday imaginative swim through the pages and pillows and blankets and words.

My imagination was so bright! Thick like oil paints and smeared like watercolors, my thoughts swirled to the notes of an imaginative symphony, singing to me, “Eat up all of that knowledge, little Buttercup. Eat it and taste it and make worlds out of it.” I wanted to know everything.

Shining eyes, large with wonder, my pupils danced left to right, left to right. I stitched together big-kid words, gliding through waves of sentences. On sunshiney Saturdays, Mom would take the big canvas tote to the library, filling it with new titles to bring home for me. There was a story about Mexican tradition, and a mystery with pearls. I remember towering stacks of yellow hardcovers with black ink—Nancy Drew—and the red and white gingham covers of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s adventures.And after the last page had been turned, I would linger on the last word, not ready to give up my own newfound life between the pages.

There were these old, lace curtains, torn at the seams and snagged in the middle, that I would wrap around my tiny torso and fasten with an old brooch.

My great aunt had gifted me with braided strands of pink and white freshwater pearls; on special days, my mom would let me wear them too. My little feet would slide into Mom’s cream pumps, the very ones she walked and laughed and danced in at her wedding. I’d then use hair ties, balancing in my too-big heels on my mattress, to fasten a blanket canopy to the top of my four-poster bed.

Under my canopy I would play and read and draw a little, just happy to be living.

I was curious, quick to learn and slow to forget. I savored every morsel of life and every string of words. Besides my curtain dress, I wore “playclothes” and romped outside. I bruised my elbows and picked leaves to make very inedible soup (the world will never know why on Earth I didn’t call it salad). I fell down and rolled in the grass, got itchy, and jumped in the pool. I ran barefoot and swam in dirt. I picked tomatoes, delighting in their tight, blood-red skin, and played with Kyle’s basketball when he let me. The Earth was a song and a poem and a picture; under every rock was a new critter friend, and the flowers sang ballads. Everything was interesting and joyful, and learning was scrumptious.

There were bad days, yes. Sometimes there were crocodile tears, thick and splashy. There were red cheeks and scraped knees. I was sensitive, and had not yet learned how to live with it (HSP, which stands for Highly Sensitive Person, is a psychological trait). I was a little bit anxious and a lot a bit shy. There were moments of hiding under the oak table in the dining room. But those moments, overflowing with gritty feeling, were fascinating to me. Life had color, triumphs, texture, and tears, and I wanted to understand every last bit.

I’ve heard some adults, in stressful and busy seasons of life, long for their pre-internet brain. I long for my pre-understanding brain. I long for the times of raw curiosity, before I decided I knew everything there ever was to know in life, ever (the comicality is unnerving). I want to linger over words, drinking in the syllables.

...says Giovanni to Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love. She delights; he laughs. “Let’s cross over. It is so ordinary,” he states, eyebrow raised and English thick with Italian undertones.

“He couldn’t understand why I liked it so much. Let’s cross the street? But to my ear, it’s the perfect combination of Italian sounds. The wistful ah of introduction, the rolling trill, the soothing s, that lingering “ee-ah-moh” combo at the end. I love this word. I say it all the time now. I invent any excuse to say it.” | Liz Gilbert

Sweet Liz and her wonderful travel tales pinpoint my desire for childlike curiosity. I really know so little. In my 20 years of life, I’ve established some sort of arrogance of “been there, done that.” There is nothing left to see, taste, touch, hear. But really, to believe this is true is to devalue the world and God’s incredible creation. The whole world is still at the tips of my fingers, lands to explore, words to learn, people to meet, hearts to be mended and tears to be shed.

 Let’s discover. Let’s create. Let’s explore and uncover and understand. Let’s stand in awe, drinking in the glory of the skies and the chemistry of our bodies.

Let’s be curious this year

Being Intentional in 2014

I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality lately.

In correlation with my last post, I think we’re all just a bit too rooted in technology, worshipping the saturated,overflowing internet, and delighting in the instant gratification of telephone chimes and tones and buzzes and bells. I'm both a futurist and a learner, thus captivated by innovation of all walks; I'm not trying to discredit the genius of our devices nor the forward thinking of our minds. I've just noticed something, in both myself and my fellow little earthlings, that I think may be important (perhaps even crucial) to explore.

We have this immunity to instant gratification that leaves us flighty and unfocused—life becomes a perpetual swipe and click, moving on to something more interesting, more shocking, and with less words, but more pictures. More, more, more. Our appetites are insatiable. We swallow up social media in giant, desperate gulps. We are just haphazardly scrolling, and clicking, swimming with frantic, flailing arms.

We reply to texts in 3 seconds, barely reading what we’re actually responding to. We skim emails—if there are more than 2 paragraphs, we delete on impact. Words clatter from our mouths while our speech limps along, muddling meaning with filler—“like’s” and “um’s” and “you know’s” coil tightly around every other word. We say hi without how are you, and mumble in conversation, eyes anxiously searching the ceiling to avoid dreaded contact. Our attention turns to our shoes and phones as we walk from point A to point B, hardly in this world at all.

We’re flighty and aimless and frantic and random.

What if, when we do set down our devices, we look at each other—actually look into each other’s eyes, shoulders squared and feet firm? What if we tasted our words, both carefully and cautiously, before we spit them out? What if we chose them like presents, wrapping and taping and tying bows, gifting our peers with well-thought-out ideas?

What if we paused to think?

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to be intentional, purposeful, and present. It means savoring slowness, sitting peacefully, with a softened brow and relaxed eyes, simply thinking of someone, and sending them love and light and joy. Intentionality means slipping away from the world’s quickening pace, even if for a few moments, and contemplating.

Intentionality means a heightened attention to how we hold ourselves, and the words we let through the mind’s door. It means buying flowers on friends' birthdays and offering to bake the bread or bring the salad at a dinner party. It means candles as housewarming gifts. It means taking the time to call on father’s day, not just send a quick text. Intentionality is thinking—really, really thinking—about life, and people, and our own hearts.

Let’s live this way, friends. I think it might just be worth a shot.

Fresh & Renewed: The New Year

Between you and the New Year stands a door, acting as the temporary barrier between the trials and triumphs of 2013, and the yet-to-be.

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The golden knob gleams with the last slice of December sun, bidding adieu to another year. You gently run a finger over the fragmented, chipped paint and the deeper scuffs and scrapes—the wounds are still tender. Unclenching your fingers, you brush your palm on the intricate carving, lost in the convoluted twisting of wood. Through both the joyful and the adverse, the pattern unraveled over the course of the year. Your pain and your heartbreak and your ocean of tears were woven together with the delights of your spirit, fashioning brilliance from a unification of moments. Slowly and cautiously, your fingers unlatch the vintage lock.

With one small twist of the knob and a step through the doorway, the New Year rushes in, wrapping around your heart and mind in gusts and breezes and wafts. Like thick, sea-salty air, its embrace envelops you. Blanketed, you feel fresh and clean and pure. Like the vintage chalkboard at the coffeehouse on the corner, wiped down after a taxing day, the burdens of your past are lifted. You breathe, deeply filling your lungs with the crisp air, sending the fresh oxygen to every crevice of your soul. You are renewed.

Taking a brave step forward, your naked toes are kissed by dewy beach grass. Even the Earth delights in the new beginning. Your grin stretches its reach, broadening to a joyful beam. Without being told, you know that this fresh, new year “is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people... you aren’t required to be who everyone thinks you are...You can be grateful, and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past” (Deb Caletti).

With your burdens dropped in a heap on the other side of the door, you take off running—liberated—dancing through the tall grasses, wading through sapphire tide pools and spooning sunlight into your soul. You are free. Fresh. Radiant. Glowing. Elated. Optimistic. New.

This year is yours.


Good, Old-Fashioned Attention

I am an old soul. While I would also classify myself as a learner and future focused, there are parts of my heart and mind that are firmly rooted in some other soda-parlor, rotary-telephone, saddle-shoe world that I’ve never experienced but always pined for.

Back in February, I wrote about my quirky interest in all things old fashioned:

I belong in the generation of ice cream parlors, soda fountains, and drive-in movies. I want red lipstick and patent heels, a powdered nose and bobby-pinned curls. I crave letters with wax seals, vintage stamps, postmen that walk house-to-house, and mint green convertibles. I so badly want to know how my mind would work without the constant vibration of my iPhone or the siren call of my Mac. I want the simplicity of spending time with the “gals” without the constant distraction of “he texted me this,” or “she tweeted that.” I want to go to the library to do my schoolwork, dutifully researching in books, not Google. I want a flower box and a window seat, with Saturday morning sunlight streaming into my bedroom. I want to wear an apron when I bake, and sit around the fire with family to listen to the radio... I want him to hold my hand and kiss me goodnight on the porch. I want to order one milkshake, two straws (he pays). I want to pull my hair back with a barrette, call blush “rouge” and be allowed to wear a dab of mom’s perfume on special occasions. I want pearls and oxfords. I want matching striped pajamas, and my mom to turn my bed down for me every evening. I want lace-rimmed socks, thick reading glasses, a stack of books, and a reading lamp by my bed.

I belong in a different generation.

 Specifically within February’s post, I spoke of how I craved a life without the constant vibration of my cell phone. This individual thought has metastasized over the last two years.

I absolutely crave creativity, and have a vested interest in entrepreneurship, innovation and progress. I’m naturally curious about everything, and was taught at an extremely young age to be gutsy (though it's not in my nature), to question everything and to think critically. I love technology and the blessings that flow from it; being able to speak daily with my family and best friends back in California is a joy (fun fact: my best friend Kelsey is the one who named this blog two years ago!). The concept of email is simplistic—send this body of text to another—yet brilliant. Sometimes I have to force myself to take a step back and breathlessly gape at the convenience of being able to instantly communicate when face-to-face connection just isn’t possible. There is a perfect fluency to clicking on one article to the next, saturating myself in knowledge, events, and ideas harvested worldwide.

There’s just one thing that I struggle to stay afloat with. I’m just not a texter. Even in middle school (ick, who actually had a good middle school experience?), I was hesitant to engage in the constant text messages and ridiculously foolish-sounding lingo. It’s been eight years since I got my first cell phone and I still feel the same drowning feeling when faced with a sea of unopened texts. Texting is so fragmented. It can be an incredible feat to uncover what someone is actually saying and sift through punctuation clues and emojis and abbreviations—so draining! Texts (and the texters sending them) tend to be quick by nature, as the messages race in and leave me spinning. I can type faster than most (thank you 3rd grade computer class), and could essentially send replies with the same rapidness if I saw it fit. Problem is, I’m a invested reader and deep thinker. I want to fully digest whatever is being told or explained or reiterated to me, turning it over in my mind and making full sense of where I stand. And when my quick-to-listen, slow-to-speak nature isn’t in action (James 1:19 is always the goal) and I’m yet to respond to a text, it’s most likely because I’ve consciously chosen to not bring it on my walk or to class, or I have made the smart choice to not even attempt to text and drive. It’s not to say that I don’t think phones are both advanced and advantageous—I’m not attempting to devalue cell phones at all. I’m just not really attached to this little white rectangle of iOS7 innovation.

Quite frankly, I think my generation’s people skills are rubbish. I hate to use that word because it is so gritty and unforgiving, but I’m tired of spending time with a friend and all he or she is doing is scrolling and scrolling and staring and laughing, eyes glued to the device in hand. It’s unreal how shifty eye contact is these days even with close friends—everyone is longing for the safety of their touchscreen technology to lock eyes with once again. Personally, I see such a stark contrast when I’m in a meeting with an adult rather than someone my own age. Generally with an adult, the eye contact is steady; the topics are various and are stitched with carefully chosen words. There is a certain gratitude stemming from both parties for the other’s full attention. It’s polite, but mostly it’s just expected. Unfortunately, and also generally (controversy is tricky, isn’t it?), I’ve found that conversations with my own peers are disjointed, marked with faux-interest, and bound by a very real inability to make conversation, hold eye contact, utilize body language, think critically, and ask meaningful questions within the realm of face-to-face interaction. This is not to say I’ve mastered the technology-free conversation in the slightest. Especially while writing my frustrations, I see myself in a lot of the scenarios that are streaming through my mind. While for me texting isn’t my devilish, concentration-inhibiting companion, I trip up with the siren call of emails and photos and an endless stream of voicemails (that I really should listen to and sort through).

I guess my personal goal is to find a better balance of my antiquated desire to savor and finesse words, and an unabashed thirst for innovation. While I think there’s a lot of joy that can be harvested from tucking away the cell phone for a while, it would be impractical and arguably unwise of me to call others to try it as well. Instead, I’m going to challenge myself this week to polish the distinction between cell-phone-time and real-people-time. It’s a quest for deeper, meaningful conversations and connections that could easily be missed with my head bent over Instagram as I’m walking to class. I want to sharpen my own communication skills, because the more seamlessly I can communicate with others, the more competent I will be in handling meetings, interviews, friendships, sharing the Gospel, sharing ideas, collaborating and creating.

Put the phone down.

Filled Up

As a sophomore in college, I find myself in this teetering, in-between stage.

I’m hovering between the fairytale wonders of childhood and the supposedly enchanted mysteries of “grown-up life.” I have so much to look forward to, to strive for, and to dream about. I already have had so much sweetness, joy, and sorrow in my past. I have had wonderful days and terrible months; I am reminiscent and nostalgic by nature, and thus revisit these memories frequently. And yet, even with the hazy promises of a smile-studded future and the steady lessons of a laughter-encrusted childhood, I’ve become so fiercely focused on and enamored with the present moment. I suppose it’s somewhat of a quarter-life crisis (hopefully more of a one-fifth-life crisis, but the math is hardly the point). I realize that with nearly two years of college under my belt, I still feel like the same three-year-old, blonde, dare I say chubby, little girl that watched Little Bear religiously and wore white cowboy boots and hot pink jelly sandals. I have faced a plethora of lessons—often the hard way—and my path has been shaped through the adverse and through the joyful. I was blessed with a wonderful childhood in a charming San Diegan neighborhood, and my soul was filled with sunshine, sea-salty air, family, swim practice (my mom will love that!), a rigorous school district, and an amazing, comforting home church.

Nearing twenty years old, I really can’t help but begin to fantasize about my future.

Call me young, but I go to school in Texas, where it’s practically quintessential to be engaged by 22. While I’m not particularly eager to settle down so seriously or so soon, my mind has recently been wandering down that path when I’m not careful enough to discipline it. Who will I marry? Where will I live? Will I be working? Writing? Will I have kids? I think it’s completely normal for a twenty-something to be consumed by these thoughts intermittently. While they scare me on occasion, I attempt to blanket my anxieties with a positive light—there is so much promise and wonderful mystery in my future that God is unfolding for me with each new morning. I am both comforted with and encouraged by the thought that He wants what’s best for me, and is holding my hand, walking by my side, and carrying me if need be as I discover each piece of his intricate life-puzzle. Because of His promise, my soul is filled with excitement, love, trust, and comfort, knowing that some of my best years are ahead of me.

Which leads me to today, on this present moment, at 8pm on this Monday night. With so much promise ahead of me and so much that has been learned behind me, I realize that these moments in this season of my life are both my past and future. Tomorrow is absolutely uncharted, and for all I know, my life could be impacted in powerful ways at some point in my usually tedious Tuesday. When I fall into bed come 9pm (yes, that is when I like to go to bed), my day will be my past. I will be able to reflect on the lessons, both big and small, that I gathered, knowledge I cultivated, and friendships that grew. This present moment is significant. Although I am filled by the lovely memories of my past and the enchanting mysteries of my future, my soul is thirsty for the now. I need to take a step back from the nostalgia and the dreaming, and invest myself more fully into this moment, these next five minutes, and into this day. I will fill my soul—now—with the bittersweet bond of the day’s trials and triumphs. I will consider each new acquaintance as a fresh chance at a delightful friendship. I will finesse the ordinary, typically tiresome happenings of my daily life into captivating, enchanting adventures. I will stop and smell the eternally blooming flowers that my university so kindly replants every few weeks (just to make sure campus always looks pristine). I will channel Christ in my dealings with others, enveloping peers and friends in love. “I really just want to be the warm, yellow light that pours over everyone I love.”

Make it a great one. Make it significant.

Regressing to Happiness

The other day, out of curiosity, I logged into my old Twitter account that I used freshman year of college.

I suppose by regular standards, my account isn’t particularly “old,” since I utilized it last year, yet I feel like I change so frequently that even my journal entries from last week are old news.

Scrolling and scrolling and scrolling through my tweets (illustrating a definite addiction to those 140 little characters), I had the strangest feeling that I was reading the tweets of a sweet and happy friend, or an optimistic mentor, rather than reading tweets of my own creation. I spoke to the world (in concise, twitterlike fashion) about the importance of attitude, the joys of Mondays, and the sweetness of random rainstorms. I rewind in my mind to this morning, trudging back to my apartment from class in the sticky heat and pouring rain—did I find that joyful? I used to.

I used to unearth the sweet and simple joys of life around me. I used to actively search for the good in chaos and conflict and confrontation, rather than quickly surrendering and moping. I used to smile a lot. I used to laugh so loudly that I would surprise others around me with my zeal and lightheartedness. I used to be adventurous and determined to live a life of “oh well’s” than “what if’s.” I want to return to this genuine, optimistic me. I miss my happy heart and light, cheerful attitude. I miss my sweetness that somehow has given way to extreme anxiety and stress that is often coupled with sophomore year (they call it the "sophomore slump").

I miss putting on a summer dress for class just because it was a sunshiney day.

A Little Grown-Up

Here begins another incredible journey. Today marks the dawning of a new school year brimming with challenge, change and uncertainty, but also growth, friendship and laughter.

No longer am I the little college freshman in a 10X10 box called a dorm room. I am officially in my own “big girl” apartment, ready to take on the world.

While this week has been a tangled mess of sorority recruitment (think Theta, think right), coordinating plans with family (who were kind enough to drive my car here and move me in), topped off with a heaping serving of stomach flu, I am still beaming. I know that I’m in the best possible place for this chapter of my life; I often feel as though my school was perfectly and methodically hand crafted for me. He deliberately stacked every yellow brick, and gently arranged every pink tulip and purple pansy. He is the one who allowed me to come to this school, be in this sorority, live in this apartment, and have this family. All of my praise goes to Christ. Thank you Lord for my abundant blessings! Thank you Lord for the opportunity of a fresh year ahead.

I am ecstatic to see what amazing things he has in store for me as this year unfolds. Lord, allow me to be a light for you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as I take on this new school year, and shower me with confidence and courage. I love you so incredibly much, God. Hold me in the palm of your hand, and comfort me (particularly this week) if I ever become nervous about being a "little grown-up.” Fill me with peace, knowing that I will be able to spend a soothing, sweet week with my family in November, and a month with them in December (hellooooo, Hawaii). Saturate my heart with your gentle love and comforting guidance.

Last but not least—hold my hand through the duration of my stomach flu, would you?

"Let the light of your face shine on me. Fill my heart with joy...in peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." | Psalm 4:6-8

P.S.: The Little English Girl has been updated! If you are reading this post from your email inbox, visit my site to see what's changed: www.rdiane.com

Detoxify

As summer comes to a close, my excitement for the incredible year ahead intensifies. While my heart is filled with a lovely longing for porches and sweet tea and Southern football, something is off.

The minute I began the drive back from Texas to California, I knew this summer would be a challenge. The drive took two full days; we drove through Texas and into New Mexico on day one, and through Arizona and into California on day two. On the first day of the road trip there was a small smudge of discontent in my heart, as I felt dispirited to be leaving behind an incredible, magical, novel-worthy school year. This small smudge propagated rapidly; this sort of cancerous negativity began to envelop my mind and my heart. On day two of the drive, each mile crumbled me. I cried the entire way home—11 hours.

While I was overjoyed to have such a precious opportunity to spend time with my darling puppy and parents, this was the first summer that I would not be going “home,” by its standard definition. In February my parents moved up the coast and settled into a new little town, far, far away from my gorgeous, sea salty, seagully, sunshiny San Diego. My summer in the new, fog-rimmed, dirt road-laden, cow-infested town would be filled by working 40 hours a week and taking the most boring and painful microeconomics course that this big world provides. While I feel uncomfortable commenting on my job at this point, these details are crucial to better understanding the monotony yet pure exhaustion of this summer—sorry to keep you in the dark. Professionalism holds firm.

I’ve obviously had ample time to consider (brood over) my summer in “farmland;” I finally understand why my delight at the thought of returning to Texas is being overshadowed by a heavy presence. I need to detox. I feel like I need to be cleansed of microeconomics, retail, annoying neighbors, brown hills, technology, etc., etc., etc. I am thrilled that I will have a few days between my last day of work (and the end of my summer school class) and my departure to Texas. It is in this sliver of time that I plan to unwind, soak up the sun, and savor the time I have with my family. It is then—with the negativity gone—that the excitement can rush in.

Texas bound.

Words, Words, Words

The hardest part is beginning.

In terms of writing, it is not the wording, syntax, or punctuation that challenges me the most, but the actual act of sifting through my tangled thoughts and sorting them out on paper. These days it’s nearly impossible to find a quiet moment to write, as working retail for 40 hours a week and working on my (terribly dry) summer school class for another 40 leaves me with a little window of time—a handful of hours in which to complete everything on my perpetual to-do list, and the rest of the time to satisfy those pesky “have-to-do’s” like eating and sleeping.Even on the off chance that my surroundings are quiet, my mindis far from peaceful. The interiors of my mind clamor with anxiety, reliving the “what if’s,” the mistakes, the embarrassments, and the “I should have said’s.”

My mind swirls with words, words, words.  I am nervous about everything.

Somehow every little thought leads me to a terribly drastic “worst case scenario.” If Mom doesn’t pick up the phone, she either 1) suddenly deeply hates me, 2) got in a terrible accident (God forbid), or 3) has her phone on silent. Naturally and unfortunately, my mind assumes that the first two options are the only plausible explanations for the endless ringing that cuts to an abrupt voicemail message.

I understand that at the root of my anxiety lies a simple inability to trust.

This inability to fully trust God’s plan and let go of my overly controlling tendencies is what allows my trivial anxieties to proliferate dangerously. How foolish I am to assume that my magnificent King won’t take care of me! How shameful it is to think that my own control over a situation will be more successful than all of the wonderful, lovely, sweet possibilities that could stem from His.

In short, somehow this hope to write peacefully and let words flow freely coupled with the challenge to trust Him more fully weaves together perfectly to illustrate my goal for this week: simply trust and simply write.

“If you want to be happy, be.”

It seems logical, doesn’t it?

It’s easy to assume that as humans, the right to be happy is plainly our prerogative. Conceptually, the assumption is sound. Legally, we’re granted the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right, so why not embrace positivity, emitting kindness and brightness and genuine optimism? We are all in relative control of our emotions, thoughts, and actions, right? That’s just it. It’s the key word that separates plausible and possible and probable—“relatively.” Working 8 hours a day, often 6 days in a row, I find my hunger for happy swept away by the vehement pulls of other people. It is their emotions, thoughts, and actions that have the power to sway how I feel. Regardless of whether it is subtle annoyances—a rude customer, screaming baby, or messy toddler tearing through the swim suit racks in which I had just meticulously, methodically organized by style and color—or bigger frustrations like a pounding headache and an overflowing to-do list, I can’t help but be affected.

This got me thinking—is there a way that I can genuinely be unaffected by extrinsic factors? Is there a way, without seeming naïve or pretentious, that I can live in my own sweet little world? After 2 vital days of recovery, it’s back to work tomorrow. The unique thing about working retail is the distinctive difference in hours as opposed to an archetypal desk job; I work most days of the standard workweek, and am always required to work weekends. While in my mind I am yet to wrestle this obviously unpleasant little difference into something more positive and advantageous, I deem this the perfect week to be more aggressive in my duel against negativity. As much as I want to credit my sometimes-sour thoughts and acrimonious façade to extrinsic factors, frequently the bitterness dwells in my own heart.

So consequently, that’s the challenge this week. I plan to strive—fight if I must—to be happy. It’s easy to read quotes (“life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”) and be instantly inspired and fired up on a newfound outlook on life. This kind of inspiration and motivation is fleeting. My goal is to wholeheartedly put this kind of “power of reaction” into practice, and see what stems from it.

Here goes-

I Belong in a Different Generation

I belong in a time when he would call me on his family’s rotary telephone after football practice in the evenings, as I would sit in the parlor beside mine in anticipation, still in my pleated cheerleading skirt.

He would arrive promptly at 7:00 in order to receive my parent’s permission to take me out. I belong in the generation of ice cream parlors, soda fountains, and drive in movies. I want red lipstick and patent heels, a powdered nose and bobby pinned curls.  I crave letters with wax seals, vintage stamps, postmen that walk house-to-house, and mint green convertibles.I so badly want to know how my mind would work without the constant vibration of my iPhone or the siren call of my Mac. I want the simplicity of spending time with the “gals” without the constant distraction of “he texted me this,” or “she tweeted that.” I want to go to the library to do my schoolwork, dutifully researching in books, not Google.I want a flower box and a window seat, with saturday morning sunlight streaming into my bedroom. I want to wear an apron when I bake, and sit around the fire with family to listen to the radio. I want him to bring flowers and chocolate on Valentines Day, both for my mom and me. I want him to hold my hand and kiss me goodnight on the porch. I want to go for a drive, cranking up the radio with a chiffon scarf trailing behind me in the breeze. I want to order one milkshake, two straws (he pays). I want to pull my hair back with a barrette, call blush "rouge" and be allowed to wear a dab of mom's perfume on special occasions. I want pearls and oxfords, and skirt suit dresses. I want matching striped pajamas, and my mom to turn my bed down for me every evening. I want lace-rimmed socks, thick reading glasses, a stack of books, and a reading lamp by my bed.

I belong in a different generation.

Dawn and Dusk

I am most productive within the fleeting span of a few hours each day.

Something about dawn and dusk fascinate me; they ignite my mind with creative energy and recharge me with a newfound abundance of focus. I love the feeling in the morning when the world is still sleeping, and I finally feel peacefully alone for a few hours. The World is holding her breath as I quietly make my cup of tea (Good Earth: original). The World sleeps as I run, swim, walk and stretch. The World rests her eyes as I shower and organize my room, preparing for the day ahead. She naps while I open my textbooks, smoothing the pages with my fingers, and perfecting my arrangement of color-ordered highlighters and freshly sharpened pencils. I love the feeling of dusk; the day is coming to a close and yet the night is still young. There’s possibility there—a sort of promise of a perfect night ahead. Watercolors streak across the sky, while cotton candy clouds fade from pink to blue to purple. The sky swirls, as colors squirt together, mingling in the atmosphere. The sky turns to navy ink. I prepare my tea (Celestial Seasons: Sleepytime Vanilla), slide into my fuzzy pants and open my Bible.

Thank you God, for the dawns and dusks.

“The lands of the morning sunrise and evening sunset sing joyfully.” -Psalm 66:8

Unlatching the Mind's Door: Writing Insecurities

It’s almost foolish how self-conscious I can feel about my writing.

Although my passion for the written word and my complete adoration for language are both strong, there’s a certain trust that is involved in letting others read your work. This blog began in secret; beside my immediate family, no one knew I had it, save for random strangers dotted around the world who stumbled upon my blog on accident. Some of these readers continued on their journey through their internet, clicking and scrolling, leaving behind The Little English Girl. Some stayed, signed up for email notifications, posted comments, and became the audience that I have kept in mind. Then came my friends—those lovely little blessings who care about me and my thoughts enough to read my verbose, quirky, or spilling-with-feeling posts. While these friends are precious, I again keep them in mind as I write. What do they want to read about? What topics pertain to them? While as a writer, an awareness of the audience is crucial, this is my reminder to myself—this is my blog. It’s certainly a selfish blog. My goal isn’t to intentionally relate to my readers. Instead, it’s to give an insight into my mind. If something does pertain to a reader, then that really is a beautiful coincidence, or more specifically, a God thing.

When I first began writing, I remember pouring my heart out into my “meet me” page, stating that this blog is like the diary I would write if I were a dedicated journaler. The difference, as I stated, was the stunning lack of “i’s dotted with hearts” or “dear diary” introductions. Instead, this is the journal that holds my innermost thoughts on a level that surpasses “talkable” topics by a long shot. These posts are far from lunchtime conversation or the topics of chit-chats with friends. That’s where my insecurity stems from; having a blog is unlatching the door to the mind, inviting in friends and strangers and frenemies alike to sift through everything inside. Everything. Within the pages of my blog, a reader can piece together sections of my life (relationships, my family, my school) that I try so desperately to hide in my day-to-day life.

As a writer, this insecurity humbles me. I am too familiar with being “the good writer,” and feeling comfortable with my work being the sample. Now as a writing major and surrounded by others like me, I feel intimidated and scared. Not only do I have this strange discomfort with realizing how many people read my blog (1,081—a number that both frightens me, comforts me, and motivates me), and how many consequently have access to my mind, but I have a new discomfort with other writers reading my work. Put most simply, these lessons are teaching me that I most certainly have a lot to learn.


Captivated by HIS Love

This week, the Lord has showered me with exactly what I need to hear, and at the perfect timing—a perfection that could only stem from Him.

I am forced to endure the same situation over and over and over again until I learn. At first I felt like the victim—how could this happen to me, again and again? Then I realized my ignorance. The Lord was giving me the same situations as new opportunities. The Lord wanted me to change and grow and learn on my own. I can truly say now, Lord, that I’ve learned. I’ve been so focused on seeking love from others that I have been overlooking the one true and perfect love who dwells in my heart. Christ should be my first love. Today I had lunch with two beautiful recent college grads that lead the bible study I attend. While munching on tacos and queso dip, we stumbled across the topic of love. I gave them a brief insight into what my love life looks like—nonexistent, yet so tangled and messy. The girls simply smiled knowingly, offering very little comments. Why? I so desperately crave guidance. Hours later, my plea was answered. They wouldn't be providing me with guidance, but He would. I walked into bible study and they handed me a paper with two verses bolded across the top—the topic of tonight’s study would be love.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and truth.” -1 John 3:18.

The Lord is who encourages me to set my standards this high. I want to be loved and pursued actively and completely. I don’t want to be showered with empty compliments and shallow “I love you’s.” I want to be loved honestly, purely, and wholeheartedly, by a man who loves the Lord just as entirely.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” -1 John 3:16; 4:10.

This is the love I must pursue. This is the only love that can completely satisfy my soul. It is God’s love that I want to be captivated by. I want to get lost in Him.


God calls the men to pursue, and the women to seek pursuit. He calls us as girls to guard our hearts, and to use our worldly affectionate love to bring Him glory. I crave this kind of love. I pine for the day when I meet such a man of God. I pine for this day so much, however, that my lack of patience leads me to look elsewhere for affection. So Lord, this is my prayer: help me to stop frantically searching for worldly love and affections. Lead me to stop forcing what isn’t present, and to stop trying to fit things that are not in your plan into my life. Give me the courage to be single, but to be deeply, permanently, contently in a relationship with you. Give me the patience to wait for the man that you are preparing for me. Comfort me with your presence, and envelop me with your flawless love and compassion. Lord, I want you to dwell in my in heart and in my life. Please hold me tightly through this transition period that I’m enduring, and thank you, thank you, thank you, for the amazing and supportive people you have placed in my life on this campus. I am so blessed and grateful. I love you so completely and wholeheartedly. I don’t deserve your love but thank you for showering me in your grace and love anyway. Amen.

“Dance with God; He’ll let the perfect man cut in.”

What Looms Ahead...

Ahead looms my greatest adventure yet. It taunts me with its speed; it possesses the ability to fast forward time. I can faintly hear little clock hands spinning frantically, vehemently forward, as the days grow shorter and the impending adventure advances. I can feel it on the horizon; I can feel it in the vicinage.

Tomorrow marks the bittersweet beginning of a four-year journey: college. I feel as though it was merely moments ago when I thought to myself half relieved and half anxious that I had 4 months… 3 months… 2 weeks… a few days… and then suddenly the day could no longer be avoided. No longer do I have the luxury of imagining what college would be like while wrapped safely in my big white bed (friends have titled it “the cloud” after it’s deliciously similar look and feel to the cotton candy condensation studding the skies). No longer do daydreams or “what if’s” suffice—now it’s time to live it.

More than anything, I feel numb. Coming from a family of (over) analysts, I’ve spent the entirety of the day (while driving 10 hours to the halfway point of New Mexico) trying to scrutinize, subdivide, catalog and classify everything I’m feeling. My conclusion, while simplistic in nature, is honest: I feel numb. I am faintly aware of a whispering excitement. I am excessively aware of my fears and anxieties. Somehow the antipodal two weave themselves together with such intricacy that I feel lost navigating through my contradicting appetite for what is new and equally overwhelming craving for familiarity.

On paper it seems simple—choose happy. How difficult could it be to simply hone in on what is positive and optimistic? Why not ignore the misery, the homesickness, the anxiety, and the adversity? I almost want to laugh at how naïve that sounds, but then I realize I could be right. Why not ignore the anxiety? Why not control my thoughts, allowing only what is beneficial to take up residency in my mind? Why not choose happy?


So I am.

Hello College.