Hello friends! I spent this past weekend in San Francisco, so I took the opportunity to film another little lighthearted video.
I seem to be on a sort of video kick as of late! As with the last video, I used a Canon Rebel T2i camera with a 50mm lens, and I edited the footage in Final Cut Pro. I'm still just starting out with cinematography, but I feel like the practice is already paying off in subtle ways (i.e., I actually understand some of the buttons...). Enjoy!
I still pore over those hardcover, yellow Nancy Drew books with the same genuine enthusiasm and admiration as I did when I was in elementary school. Nancy, though a fictional character, is still one of my greatest role models. And Carolyn Keene, though a pseudonym composed of several different people, will always be one of my favorite "authors."
Nancy Drew has been a formative influence since her first appearance in the 1930s. Wholesome, even tempered, and fearless, Nancy Drew is adored by equally kick-butt women like Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Hillary Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Laura Bush. One of the original Nancy Drew authors, Mildred A. Wirt Benson, was fed up with what she called "namby-pamby" girls' books of the 1930s and made sure that Nancy was just the opposite: feisty, charming, and wildly intelligent.
I also love the inherent old-fashioned texture of the book. I love the Nancy Drew series for the sweet and dated lingo—George, one of Nancy's best gal pals, always says "Hypers!" instead of "Wow!" People are "nifty," not "cool." Telephone calls (from a payphone or house phone), telegrams, and letters are the mediums of communication. Nancy and her best friends, Bess and George, often stop for lunch at little roadside farms for sandwiches and large glasses of milk. Ned takes Nancy out on dates (though they usually end up sleuthing) and to dances at Emerson College, which I know must be nothing like today's college dances.
And then there's the fact that Nancy gets attacked, framed, kidnapped, robbed, whatever in just about every book, and she still manages to be calm and quick thinking. I love her practical, reasoned way of assessing situations and her innovative solutions to complex problems. Though Nancy has been around for 85 years, her spirit is timeless. Her character has since been modernized, sporting puffy 80s hair in the Girl Detective spin-off series and donning a cell phone in the Nancy Drew Files, but I will always be unabashedly partial to her original character from The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.
“Ned said, ‘Nancy Drew is the best girl detective in the whole world!’ ‘Don’t believe him,’ Nancy said quickly. ‘I have solved some mysteries, I’ll admit, and I enjoy it, but I’m sure there are many other girls who could do the same.’” — Carolyn Keene, Nancy’s Mysterious Letter
Focus on What's Important
“Chuckling to herself, Nancy said aloud, ‘Romance and detective work won’t mix tonight!’” — Carolyn Keene, The Bungalow Mystery
“Do act mysterious. It always keeps them coming back for more.” — Carolyn Keene, Nancy’s Mysterious Letter
Follow Your Curiosities
“'When one is intensely interested in a subject, he never becomes tired of it, even on a vacation,' [the professor] said. 'Look at Nancy, for instance. I suppose she was invited up here [to the lake] just to have fun, and now she’s involved in all these mysteries.'” — Carolyn Keene, The Secret of Mirror Bay
Expand Your Skill Set
“Who knows, Hannah, the trick [horseback] riding may come in handy someday when I have a mystery to solve.” — Carolyn Keene, The Ringmaster’s Secret
Think Clearly; Act Courageously
“‘But The Clue of the Black Keys is not yet finished,’ Dr. Anderson spoke up, a twinkle in his eye. ‘Not until Nancy Drew has visited my classes at Clifton [College]. I want you to tell my students, Nancy, that the best way to discover treasure is to have an observing eye and a brave heart.’” — Carolyn Keene, The Clue of the Black Keys
Have an Open Mind
“‘And now,’ she added, laughing, ‘I’m ready and willing to take on any new mystery that comes along.’” — Carolyn Keene, The Clue of the Leaning Chimney
Set a Good Example
“‘You earned it, Miss Drew, catchin’ up with a couple of pirates like Fay and Lane. You taught me a good lesson,' [said the thief].” — Carolyn Keene, The Secret of the Wooden Lady
Treasure Your Friends; Express Gratitude
“The pretty detective gave an exclamation of delight and admired the gift for a long moment…At last she turned to Laura and said with genuine sincerity: ‘The ring is priceless and I’ll always treasure it as a reminder of you—although no one can place a value on a true friendship like ours.’” —Carolyn Keene, The Bungalow Mystery
Have a Servant’s Heart
“[The suspicious stranger’s] face softened and she stood for an instant, looking intently at Nancy. ‘You’re a good girl to help a stranger like me [when I fell and turned my ankle]. I wish—‘ The woman turned away abruptly.” — Carolyn Keene, The Secret of Red Gate Farm
I leave you with one last thought. When researching Nancy Drew history, I stumbled across a compilation of all of Nancy's talents and interests. It was, in short, intimidating and inspiring.
Channel your inner Nancy today-
P.S.: I just found out about this book, The Official Nancy Drew Handbook: Skills, Tips, and Life Lessons from Everyone's Favorite Girl Detective, and I'm in love with it. All of the pages are outfitted in blue and yellow (the iconic colors from the original hardcover books), and it has chapter titles like "How to Tap Out a Morse Code Message with Your High-Heeled Shoes," "How to Savor the Important Things in Life, Like a Rich Cup of Hot Cocoa," and "How to Determine a Man's Character by the Shoes He Wears." Interested? Click below to visit the book's Amazon page.
Being San Diego bred, my soul is naturally infused with those hippie, sea-salt-encrusted, save-the-whales, be-one-with-the-earth type of beliefs.
“You’re so Cali,” people in Texas tell me.
I cringe and stare down at my mint Vans or chocolate brown Rainbows. Never say Cali in my presence. It is truly not a real word, but it is the best indicator of who is not from California. I can just feel all of my California readers fervently nodding their heads along to the rhythm of this paragraph. Cali is a horrible, horrible word. But alas, we are all rooted to different corners of the Earth, and so things like this are forgivable (when I push my little California attitude aside).
I cannot, however, push my California soul aside.
I am a free spirit, a dreamer, and a happy soul seeker. I crave sunshine as others do richly hued wine. The ocean nourishes, recharges, and refreshes me; it is my medication and meditation. Wading to my knees or slicing through waves, the ocean is everything—a place for solitude, gathering, thinking, laughing. The ocean is core work, balance and breathing techniques, subtle scares of seaweed around the ankle, and melting layers of sunscreen. The water is liquid magic. It is like this icy radiance that swirls around my body, enveloping me in sloppy, lapping hugs and salty kisses. Navy water is stitched with white foam, spilling over from wave to wave.
Overcome by the brilliance of creation, I think of the artist Himself: “The Earth is full of His unfailing love. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars. He puts the deep into storehouses.” (Psalms 33:5-7)
I am (unabashedly) a Christian. I am also a religion major, and so it is my “job” to examine a multitude of religious traditions utilizing epoche, a way to bracket off personal biases. Being so firm in my faith and my adoration of Christ, I am able to see other people’s religious traditions as just that—other people’s religious traditions, which neither offend nor threaten me or my beliefs. There are certainly practices that I am uncomfortable with or don’t understand, but the beauty of Christ is that he loves everyone, so I strive to cultivate the same loving, open mindset when I explore these traditions.
As a scholar of religion, I delight in drawing similarities between Buddha’s teachings (500 years before Jesus), and the teachings of Christ—my rock and salvation and gentle shepherd. One of the things I love about Buddhism is the Eightfold Path, as part of the Fourth Noble Truth (the path to the end of suffering). The Eightfold Path is divided into three sections:
- Mindfulness: Meditation practice
- Virtue: Morals and being a good little earthling and buddy to others
- Wisdom: Learning, blooming, growing, and evolving every day
The other thing I love about Buddhism is the strong emphasis on the Earth—preserving it, loving it, nurturing it. Way back when (and potentially still in some areas), Buddhist monks and nuns were not allowed to travel during rainy season, for fear that they would accidentally step on insects and other creatures lodged in the mud (the same is true in Jainism; Jains believe all sentient beings have “jivas,” or living souls).
“Everything in the universe is pulsating and vibrating – nothing is really standing still. The sound Om, when chanted, vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz, which is the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature. As such AUM is the basic sound of the universe; so by chanting it we are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound and acknowledging our connection to all other living beings, nature and the universe.”
The way I see it, living beings, nature, and the universe are all created by God. This element of creation binds us in relationship with the Earth—just as God cares for us, he cares for how the lilies grow.
And so, in a sort of "Beach Buddha" manner, I leave you with this nugget of wisdom (let’s say crystal of wisdom, and make me even more of a hippie soul):
“With each inhale, lift your heart closer to the sun. With each exhale, root your feet more deeply in the ground (or perhaps... the sand).”
Be in this world, not of it. Believe in the magic of creation. Be gentle to the earth. And while you’re at it, eat wholesome and clean foods, seeds instead of grains, lots of leafy greens, and meet me at the beach.
Joyfully in Christ-
(And happily en route to California for spring break)
"When I look at the galaxies on a clear night--when I look at the incredible brilliance of creation, and think that this is what God is like, instead of feeling intimidated and diminished by it, I am enlarged--I rejoice that I am part of it." - Madeleine L'Engle
I needed a change. I felt restless but rooted; each subsequent day overflowed with equal parts urgency and apathy. How had I let myself become so entangled in monotony? I was reluctant to unclench my palms, letting go of my familiar, comforting, dull, maddening routine.
I tried to push the feeling back down, but it kept sprouting up again. Tireless and consistent, the feeling that I needed to change something felt as if God were knocking on the caverns of my mind, shouting joyfully, “Wake up! Wake up, my daughter! Taste and see the world! I can give you a new perspective if you simply ask me. Wake up, sweet daughter!”
& so I got up.
I flung open the windows, and blasted John Mayer (the man of my dreams—that “beautiful, tortured soul”). I pulled a few pots and pans on tiptoe from the cupboard, and gathered ingredients. I brought water to a rolling boil, and added pasta. In another pan, I began making a humble, homemade sauce with thick diced tomatoes and little bunches of minced garlic. I moved all of the furniture in the adjacent living room to the edges of the walls, gifting me with luscious floor space. I piled blankets and pillows on the carpet, filled a glass with water and ice and lemon, and put on my favorite “playclothes.”
The breeze drifted through the wide-open windows, as the curtains snapped joyfully in the wind and the sauce bubbled deliciously on the stove. Something about the simple act of moving the furniture and letting in the Earth’s breath made me feel like my little cottage-y apartment was completely new. For a lingering moment, the ordinary—my little herb garden, the guitar jauntily propped against the wall, and the rollout piano stretched across the floor—was thrilling and novel and fresh.
It’s easy to drift into Tedium’s grasp; she gluttonously laps up every drop of novelty, and robs us of our happiness. It's especially easy for students to slip into routine--a huge chunk of our lives is scheduled out and penciled in, neglecting spontaneity.
We have our favorite spot in the library, that one food that we have at least 3 times a week, and the shirt we seem to wear every day. Even the Friday Night-ers are adamant in the order that they “hit the bars.” Routine is a college thing. We aren’t mindful about the food we consume, the conversations we have, or how long we sleep. This heedless “auto-pilot” mode leaves us flighty and distracted, or stressed when the test we were “meaning to study for” is suddenly staring maliciously up at us from the desk.
There is little time for real whimsy or exploration. We wake up—three or four alarms later—and roll over to check Facebook, Twitter, texts, email, and Instagram in tandem, a faithful servant to connectivity. We spend a few moments sitting on the bathroom counter and staring in shock at our reflection (raccoon eyes, knotted hair, a zit, a weird cheek indentation from sleeping strangely...).
Climbing back into my beddish, blankety ocean between classes is no longer a cozy treat. Naps don’t connote restfulness or relaxation, but exhaustion and negligence. Packing a snack to enjoy during long day of schooling no longer alludes to elementary school lunches (sandwich with the crust cut off, veggies in a baggie). Lipstick and perfume and a swipe of mascara no longer wink of date nights or dinners. I am thrilled by these things when they happen rarely; routine unpacks pleasure when small joys become daily actions. I’m extremely analytical and introspective, so when I began to dismantle my feelings of apathy (basically just a case of the “blah’s”), I realized how many other areas of my life echoed the same passive, lethargic, indifference (more “blah’s). The biggest one broke my heart—I'd forgotten the magic of creation.
When was the last time you looked up at the stars and thought, “God made those, in all of their fiery, interplanetary wonder, and he still made me”? Or when was the last time you even looked at the stars?
I am broken and sinful, easily discouraged, and self-indulgent. There are very few days when I feel quite as radiant as the celestial bodies, and even fewer days when I feel as significant or purposeful. Stars just know what to do—they are kindled, then burn and shine for trillions of years, illuminating our backyard campouts, guiding sailors home safely, and proclaiming the place of Christ’s birth. And me? I go to school. I eat lunch. I swim, run, or walk. I sleep. How can I even compare to God’s mighty creation?
This is the magnificent part—we need not be intimidated. We can rejoice simply because we are a part of it (Madeleine L'Engle). Neither tedium nor apathy can erase the marvel of creation. Nothing can wipe away my astonishment that we are special elements of a macrocosmic masterpiece. Routine will still attempt to steal my joy and hamper my productivity. Monotony will still seek to blanket my purpose, but just knowing that I am a small (yet meaningful) part of the brilliance of creation is enough for today.
“May I a small house and a large garden have, and a few friends, and many books, both true, both wise, and both delightful too.” –Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)
Had I been a belle of the 1600s, Abraham and I would have been dear friends. We would talk in our British accents and write poetry together as we wring out our tea bags over ancient china cups. Four hundred years later, I dream the same thing.
It’s a little beach cottage—pre-dawn grey shingles and off-white interior walls. I have a mint green Dutch door in the kitchen; the bottom half of the door can stay shut while the top half is flung open to let in the day. There is a fingernail of a porch in the front, a larger one in the back. The back porch shifts from wooden planks to a small stone path, from the small stone path to a wide sweep of gold sand and a wider stretch of navy water.
On the side of the house, there is a giant garden housed by a short, white picket fence. “The Earth laughs in flowers,” as the soil boasts of tulips and daffodils, irises and sunflowers.I harvest leafy heads of lettuce, deep-green kale and blood-red strawberries without the constraints of the seasons.There are cantaloupes and honeydews, peaches and little tangerines on small-trunked trees. In the summer there are sweet snap peas with crunchy, lime shells (resisting their usual winter routine), and big red tomatoes, thick and fleshy.
I slip my bare toes into sandals, and with a metal watering can in one arm and a whitewashed basket in the crook of the other, I disappear into the dew-studded, earthy embrace of my own big garden alongside my own little cottage.
I have lots of golden retrievers—all ages. There’s Edison and Sebastian, Franklin and Baylee and Ginger. I chase them around all day—through the garden, into the waves. We roll in the sand when the sun shines; when the stars emerge, we lay on the shore, burying our toes and fingers in the cool sand.
There’s a charming little town laced with history and salted air—a white post office, a craft store, an ice cream parlor with long, silver spoons. There’s a newspaper shop selling piping hot cinnamon donuts and a fire station that rings a lunch bell at noon every day (à la Gull Island). The church sits on a soft, grassy hill, fulfilling the metaphor by chance more than intentionality. On Thursdays there is a farmer’s market, tables overflowing with bushels of purple huckleberries and firm green ears of corn with buttery, yellow silk escaping from their tips.
Sometimes when I’m sad, I think of my little place—of my small house and large garden.
When it rains in Texas, I dream of the sunshine on my back as I sit on a kitchen stool, head bent over a watercolor painting. When tragedy breaks my heart and shakes my world—as the death of a friend did this week—I escape to my future life, familiar but uncharted. I know every street, every roundabout, every stitch on an apron that is yet to exist. I’m familiar with a routine I do not know. I savor the friendships I am yet to experience. I touch the hardback cover of a book that I am yet to publish. I love the man I am yet to meet, braid the hair of a child I’m yet to have, and breathe with a peace I am yet to know.
We all have our own little place wedged in a corner of our heart and forgotten in the cupboards of our mind. Sometimes we don’t even know we have a place that is all ours until life is all tears and sharp words, change and heartache, and we are already packing our mental bags and kicking off our theoretical shoes. We slip into a nap, drifting along with sleepy breaths and heavy eyelids to our special neighborhood or forest or village or lake front hidden in our heart.
When the to-do list has been recycled, my water bottle refilled and in the fridge,
When my clothes for tomorrow are set out, and the bath has been drained,
When my teeth have been brushed, and my wet hair has been combed,
When the comforter is turned down, and the blankets outstretched,
When my naked toes touch the sheets, and my head hits the pillow,
My mind tiptoes away from Texas and college and the sorrow of the week, and floats to my place—to my cottage on the seashore.
My place is where moonlight streams through the windowpane, and the glow of the stars tickle the glass. My place is where I wade knee-deep in the sea, running my fingertips along the surface of the water, happy to be a small fragment of His creation. My place is where my phone is a landline, the postman delivers on foot, the smiles are easy and genuine, the laughter is melodic and frequent, and my garden overflows.
Joyfully in Christ,
For as long as I can remember, my mom would affectionately call me an “old soul,” half sighing, half laughing. It’s a bittersweet thing to be in this world—gentle, old fashioned, tender.
To be an old soul is to entertain a lovely paradox: your beliefs make you vulnerable, but gift you with gritty courage. You have something to stand for. You are conventional and bland (“Abstinence? Why...? That’s so… old-fashioned.”), but also eccentric, whimsical and unorthodox (“Uh... nice record player...”). To be an old soul is to be wedged in a different reality. A lovelier one. It’s sort of a daydream; I imagine a time when people were kinder, with patient, pre-internet brains poring over books in the public library. I pine for the days when the neighborhood kids could go outside and play in the street together, climbing over white fences to drink lemonade at Bobby’s house and eat cookies a few homes down at Hannah’s, without fretful parents hovering nearby, and the now-palpable fear of kidnappers or other scary things.
For fiction class, I wrote a story called Every Inch a Lady. Set in the 1950s, the story follows two girls, Beverly and George. Beverly is “every inch a lady,” just as her mother taught her. “Bev” wears skirts and petticoats, frets over dirt smudges on the hem of her dress, and is careful not to spoil her appetite. She is polished and proper, purses her lips when she is unhappy and covers her mouth while she laughs. George is the inverse, with a sharp and hip vocabulary (“lingo”), knowledge of the seediest gossip, and a dangerous desire to wear pants. Seriously—even in the 50s, seeing a woman wear pants in public was like seeing a man in a dress (P.S.: Read the story here.)
As any half-decent author must, I spent hours researching the slang, politics, fashion, cars, music, and gender roles of the time in order to make the story feel authentic. Although the era wasn’t all perfect—extreme gender roles, horrible racism, and recovering from World War II—I fell head over (blue suede) heels once again for all of the positives.
The sincerity and simplicity melts my heart. I’m captivated by the music—it wasn’t about sex or drugs, sleazy lust or being Rich As _____ (oh, Lil’ Wayne... what an elegant fellow). If a song in the 50s was about lust, it was still clean and innocent: Young and Foolish by Dean Martin, Let’s Fall in Love by Eddie Fisher and Tony Williams.
The lingo preserved the same purity; “backseat bingo” referred to kissing in the car during a drive-in movie. Calling someone a “nosebleed” or a “wet rag” was a total insult, and yelling “heya, dolly!” at a girl was the innocuous equivalent to modern-day cat calling. People dressed modestly and tastefully. Women wore sweet swing dresses and pencil skirts, often paired with low heels or simple flats. None of the tiny shorts I grew up wearing, and definitely no baggy t-shirts, yoga pants, or running shoes. Being classy and looking put-together at all times was of the utmost importance.
I miss this, and I wasn’t even alive to experience it! At roughly 20, I’ve never known a world without television, internet, iPhones, and laptops. Admittedly, it leaves me a bit jaded. On the other hand, my adoration of the drive-in, soda-fountain, ice-cream-parlor, sock-hop era endows me with a lot of special joy and a little sliver of hope. Maybe society will become so trashy and broken that some of the antiquated values will be reestablished. I was ecstatic when sweet vintage dresses came back “in,” with higher necklines, longer hems, and a whole lot more class. That’s a start, right?
I suppose it’s almost a challenge for myself, especially after penning Every Inch a Lady. I think it’s a wonderful goal for girls—gals—to keep their “heads, heels, and standards high,” as the saying goes, and for boys to challenge themselves to be total gentlemen. It’s innocent, and I think very positive reversion. No 2a.m. “hey what’s up,” half misspelled and followed closely by a winky face. No “let’s hangout,” or “I’ll text you later.” No “I’m here,” message, sent as he sits in his car in the driveway rather than knocking on the front door.
Instead, it’s sweet regression to when a boy would verbally ask a girl, “When can I call you?” (Yes, friends, verbally—that means face-to-face! What a concept!) And she gave him a time. And then he called. On the telephone. It’s real dates that are simple but creative, where the boy only hopes she’ll hold his hand. Nancy Drew was a role model, not Miley or Beyonce or Justin.
I leave you with a lot to mull over, and some of my favorite 50s lingo:
- Cat: A hip person
- Cruisin’ for a bruisin’: Looking for trouble
- Daddy-O: Cute boy
- Greaser: Guy with lots of grease in his hair
- Jelly roll: Men’s hair combed up
- Kookie: A nicer way to say “crazy”
- Nosebleed: Stupid (hey, nosebleed)
- Paper shaker: Cheerleader
- Passion pit: Drive-in movies (because of backseat bingo!)
- Razz my berries: To be excited or impressed
- Right-o: Okay
- Shuckster: A liar/cheat
- “What’s your tale, nightingale? What’s buzzin, cuzzin?: What’s up?
- Germsville: Gross (that's totally germsville)
P.S.: The title comes from Elvis' Jailhouse Rock
I don’t read one book at a time. Every day my mind is balancing a dozen bundles of characters, plots, and faraway lands. Some books I devour with urgency. I am ravenous as I flip through pages as fast as my eyes can take me, my mind carried by gusts of wild curiosity.
Other books are gentler. I read, floating through sentences and sifting through words. There is a sweetness and slowness to this type of reading. Sometimes I stop, deep within a fairytale and bound to characters that only exist within the boundaries of the page. I uncap my pen and write down a few lovely bits of language or wit, and sail back into the story.
As humans, our minds crave novelty. Sometimes we drown in the monotonous rhythm of everyday life. Sometimes we want life through another lens—a chance to be whom we never will. My natural limitations prevent me from ever being a princess, an engineer, or the president. I am not of royal blood; I have no interest in engineering, and have very little knowledge about politics. Everything is possible, and yet it is not. I can do most anything, but I can’t do everything; I can chose what I do, but I can’t chose what I like to do (a point Gretchen Rubin makes throughout her works). Despite the limitations and preferences of my innermost self, my mind is quenched by tales of what would be, had I been someone else.
I am not particularly an adventurous soul. I have no restless desire to hike Mount Everest, skydive, or free-climb in canyons. To be quite plain, I am not envious of the adrenaline junkies, nor do I devalue their interests. I prefer to read of their lives while sipping coffee in a tiny shop in a quaint little town. To me, that is adventure. A picnic. Climbing gangly trees with thick branches and lime foliage. The sunshine on my cheeks and nose while bodysurfing, and the ice-cold spray of salt water. Picking apples or pumpkins or strawberries on the side of the road. Reading.
Understanding that you can’t help what you like to do, regardless of all the things you physically can do, is powerful. You might want to like traveling to foreign countries. You might want to like chemistry. But if you’d rather be riding a beach cruiser down the Santa Monica boardwalk than hitting the bars, or doing the extra statistics problems from the back of the book than reading Twilight, embrace it. One of my best friends loves cognitive science, and the other happily geeks over biology. My brother’s schooling and job revolves around finance. My dad’s eyes light up if you say entrepreneurship, and my mom is an editor that studied biochemistry. We all have our niche. We all have that subject that ignites us with passion and motivation. It’s intrinsic and special and sometimes weird.
While mulling this over (and finishing Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin’s newest book), I decided to make a list of things I like to do. It took most of the day indirectly. A few minutes here and there meant a few bullet points or words at a time. I forced myself to be unconcerned with the potential (and imagined) snarky comments of peers—while writing my list, I wasn’t to be bothered with wondering if the things I liked to do were fun enough, mature enough, spontaneous enough. Here are the first few...
- Practice my handwriting
- Listen to the Anna Karenina soundtrack / nature sounds / celtic flutes
- Be in the ocean (all day, if possible)
- Eat pancakes
- Paint, draw, glue, sew, cut stitch...
- Nap in a little cocoon nest of blankets and pillows. Preferably with a breezy window or lazy ceiling fan, and an ice cold glass of lemonade at the bedside table for mid-snoozing thirst-quenching
- Watch Christmas movies
- Swim, hike, run in the rain (simply being outside)
- Walk in pretty neighborhoods
I had to be real for these bits of introspection to help me better understand myself. We all do—need to be real, that is. I had dinner Wednesday night with one of my close friends who is a year younger than me. We were talking about parties, and how to us they are fun for a bit, but then we just want to watch movies or bake or eat. And you know what? That’s fine. Sometimes I feel like as much as parties are glorified on college campuses, and “everyone” seems to think they’re fun, there must be a few people who have been pretending (+ vice versa). Like author Gretchen Rubin realizing in the midst of her law career that she really wanted to write—and not about law—being genuine and truthful with yourself is essential to happiness.
Make your own list. Be 100% open with yourself and dig deep. If you could plan the perfect day for yourself, dawn to dusk, what would be on the agenda? If we take this step to be truthful with ourselves and really be introspective, I think this just might lead to deeper friendships, more explorative and inquisitive minds, and happier hearts. The key is to stop worrying about being cool or prestigious or smart. You owe it to yourself to be honest, and to prioritize what it is that makes your eyes light up and heart overflow.
One last thought: remember to push yourself to try something brand spanking new once in a while. Whatever it is—Zumba or camping or hot air balloon rides—might just make it on your future list, too. (And potentially stitch itself close to your heart, broaden your horizons, draw you closer to others, and gift you with a new perspective.) Saying "yes" can change your world.
“I fall in love with people’s passion. The way their eyes light up when they talk about the thing they love and the way they fill with light.” | H.E. Fairbanks
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
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.
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.
The best feeling in the world is inspiration. It’s that “aha!” moment of absolute enlightenment that incites seemingly boundless creativity.
There are those who strain to uncover this inspiration as they vehemently search, read, and research. Their minds are inquisitive, but not intrinsically so. These are the people who strive for their very own “aha” moment, because they see those around them spilling with innovation; they are people who want to be inspired just because others are. Pitiful. But then there are those who seem to draw inspiration from everything around them; they are the kind of people who would wholeheartedly agree with August Rush in his closing statement in his self-titled movie when he said, “The music is all around us; all you have to do is listen.” I am one of those people.
ne of my favorite sources of inspiration comes from the pages of Pottery Barn or PB Teen catalogues. I spend hours at a time sifting through the pages, poring over every subtle detail.
I draw inspiration from the gorgeous oak dining room tables, topped with crystal glasses full of rich burgundy wine and heaping plates of spaghetti. I imagine life in this dining room. My family and friends would gather every evening, joining me at the decadent table. Glasses would clink and laughter would ring. We would all be extraordinary, classier versions of ourselves, sipping upon our finely aged wines and indulging in professionally crafted Italian cuisine. I continue to flip the pages. The gorgeously organized home office becomes my own, as I envision myself sitting upon the plush leather study chair, pondering over a spread of famous theology works. I would be a focused, intellectual version of myself.
As I turn the page again, I am faced with a bedroom dripping of luxury. Seafoam green and white fill the pages. Floor-length lace curtains drip from mesmerizingly high ceilings. I become the outgoing social queen of the school, inviting over all of my closest friends for a lavish pampering evening of facials, manicures, and chick flicks. like to do that—to imagine what could be.
Every time I travel and my plane is ten minutes from landing, I find myself staring longingly out the window at the southern mansions, urban high-rises, and quaint beach cottages. There is something about décor, both interior and exterior, that inspires me and makes me wonder, “What could life be like?”
Why do I find consistency so difficult? In my eighteen years on this planet, I estimate that I’ve acquired 200 some-odd journals and sketchbooks—all half full. Or half empty…whichever way you feel inclined to look at it. I’ve concluded that the problem is that I love the look and feeling of blank pages, clean covers, and brand new pens. While the usage of these items is satisfying, the crisp look of a spiral-bound notebook (or even better, one of those gorgeous Italian leather journals stamped with the lavish crest of some distant family in a far away land, just because it looks nice) holds more worth. It must be the promise the blank pages hold, as they are uncharted waters, unexplored lands.
My favorite moment? Right before the hand brushes the paper and hovers, a fountain pen at the ready. The mind brims with possibilities. Ideas explode, swirling like watercolors, making beautiful chaos of a neat square canvas. Handwriting is anticipated to be as intricate as medieval calligraphy. The feeling of future satisfaction of carefully completed pages seems within reach. Illustrations in rich pastels dance invisibly across the open page. This is the moment which appeases my heart, motivates my mind, and inspires my entire being.
The one downside to this meticulously and delicately created book is that it yearns for an audience that it will never receive. Therefore, my goal is to transfer the pages of my mental sketchbook and journal onto the screen of my Mac in the same honest way so that maybe my thoughts will gain the audience they crave. Maybe someone will listen. In my life, four blogs have been born, enjoying short-lived attention, then quickly dying and dissolving as suddenly as they began. But, you know what they say… The fifth time is the charm?