Quarter-Life Celebration!

 

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I don’t know if I feel like an adult, or if I ever really will, but I turned twenty-five the other day! That’s worth celebrating, right?

In honor of my twenty-fifth year, I have compiled a list of twenty-five things that I think and feel. There is no rhyme or reason to this list; I just want to remember what I was like after spending a quarter of a century on this earth. Enjoy, and feel free to write a list of your own in the comment section!

  1. I often feel like I am made up of contradictions. I hate crowds, but I love places that are typically full of them, like cities and theme parks. I want a cute apartment in New York but I also want a little cottage in the English countryside. I love to travel and plan adventures with Drew, but I also just want to stay home in my sweatpants and watch Netflix. I claim to hate religion and that I just want to love Jesus and love people, but sometimes I become the most religious person I know. But maybe I’m not a contradiction; maybe I’m just human, and that’s okay.
  2. Writing is somehow the easiest and hardest thing in the world. For someone who wants to write for a living, I sure spend a lot of time not writing. I should get on that.
  3. I had never thought of myself as a particularly materialistic person, but I’ve come to realize that’s only true when it comes to technology, cars, and jewelry. I’m more likely to spend my money on, say, a cute mug that I don’t need, while refusing to buy something I actually need, like shoes that don’t have holes in the soles, because what I have is fine and shoes are expensive. Fortunately, Drew is good at reminding me that I have plenty of mugs, and is sweet enough to suggest a charity wedding registry (He also bought me an air purifier to help with my allergies, another item that I would have briefly considered before balking at the price and convincing myself that being sniffly 24/7 isn’t that bad.). I know I need to practice resisting things, and I am forever grateful that I’m marrying someone who is helping me (whether or not it’s always intentional).
  4.  There are many ways to say, ‘I love you.’ It’s like learning another language; the more you get to know someone, the more you notice and understand.
  5.  Wedding planning is certainly stressful, but not nearly as stressful as I had expected. I also know not everyone has such supportive friends and family members as I do–and I’m sure my scatterbrain has found some rest because of it. I’m so grateful, because it also makes planning kind of…fun. Is this how organized party people feel all the time? Except I also feel like I need a Remembrall. So…probably not.
  6. I love children and want to be a mom one day, but I don’t think I’ve hit the baby fever phase of my life yet. However, I do have kitten fever, and would love nothing more than to adopt kittens and bottle feed them until they are old enough to eat real kitten food. I’ve tried to convince Drew and Kate that we need another animal. All my attempts have been futile.
  7. Cooking (or, in my case, trying to cook) is the worst. I just don’t get it when my friends say it’s fun and relaxing, because if I try to embrace my inner Gordon Ramsay, I feel like I’m going to burn our house down. For instance: Drew and I tried Hello Fresh for about a month. At first, we LOVED it. Then, after a few culinary mishaps, we decided it was way too hard to cook during the week. But when I sit down to eat a meal with my family or read about The People’s Supper or listen to stories about the early church, I start to understand–at least a little–why someone would rather cook and share a meal than order a pizza. Maybe I can start with simple recipes and work my way up.
  8.  I miss the days when I could read and write for hours without interruption or distraction. The Internet and Netflix are a part of it, sure, but I know I only have myself to blame.
  9. I often struggle to call myself a writer, or even claim to be a creative person, because I hardly ever finish the projects I begin. My blog is full of drafts. My Novlr and Scrivener folders are full of drafts. I’ve been a winner during National Novel Writing Month, but never made it past the editing phase. Right now, I’m struggling to finish this list; I seriously considered ending this at number 10.
  10. I fall more and more in love with Atlanta every day. While I claim Missouri as my home state, it’s not entirely true; my family moved from Texas to Maryland to Georgia to Missouri. Missouri always felt like mine because I had extended family there; when we moved, it felt like it has always been home. Cities were another matter entirely. We lived in Kansas City, but my mom is from St. Louis. I have family on both sides of the state and resent the rivalry between KC and STL. I couldn’t claim either city as my own. But Atlanta is starting to feel like mine, and it is so, so wonderful.
  11. One time, RuPaul retweeted me and I FLIPPED THE HELL OUT and told everyone I knew and it was the BEST DAY.
  12. I value hard work and admire people who have a strong work ethic (I am a Hufflepuff, after all), but I often resent the “hustle” that my generation has had to adopt. Obviously, there are people who are older and wiser who have done the same–but thanks to the Internet,  we are now at a point in history we are bombarded with messages every day about work and success. It’s as inspiring as it is exhausting.
  13. I never, ever thought I would move back to the South, let alone move there to be with a boy. But here I am. And I am so, so happy.
  14. I only allow push notifications from my Goodreads app. I’d like to think that says something about my bookish, anti-tech ways, but it doesn’t. I’m still on my phone all the time. I’m trying want to break my tech and social media addiction, but I’m not sure how to in a way that doesn’t cut me off from the world entirely. Sometimes that scares me; sometimes, I think that’s exactly what I need (especially with our current news cycle).
  15. I keep reading this list for inspiration. It’s from Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog; I have completely fallen in love with her work and have been reading her blog like another book.  I’m also in love with Gala Darling, whose blog is always full of inspiration and magic.
  16. Some of the most wonderful people I know are those who I have never met in person; I’ve only met them because of the Internet (such as my fellow staff members at Thistle and the Teacup Trail). I love how the Internet breaks down barriers we didn’t even know existed.
  17. Thinking about the future freaks me out–but not necessarily my future. Just the future in general. Whenever I think about the year 2020, or the year 2030, I have a mini existential crisis. I mean, think about it: self-driving cars! The Internet of Things! People born in the year 2000 will be adults and I will have no excuse to think that 1990 was ten years ago! People born this decade will literally not know a time before iPhones. Sometimes it just completely weirds me out that we are in the year 20-anything! Drew claims he has never experienced this. Then again, he is really excited about self-driving cars.
  18. I wish I had time to learn ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew, so I could read the Bible in its original language. Words are important. We miss so much beauty in our modern translation.
  19. I miss my blue hair.
  20. My first-ever published poem was about how much I hated working a 9-5 job, and I just wanted to write and make the world a better place. Looking back, I know I didn’t really hate my job that much; my heart and soul were just in a really bad place. I was horribly depressed, and battling anxiety like never before. Writing was a crucial part of my healing process, but pain is not a crucial part of the creative process. We all need to stop romanticizing the starving, heartbroken artist.
  21. I have the best best friends in the history of the world.
  22. I love the fact that Disney is releasing more princess movies, but it’s making me re-think all my favorites and it’s just another existential crisis waiting to happen. At least I know Jasmine will always be my #1 (followed closely by Belle and Rapunzel. And Moana. And Aurora. Dammit. They’re all wonderful, okay?).
  23. When I was little, all I wanted was a dog. I still love dogs–I love all animals–but cats have become somewhat of a personal mission. I’m extremely defensive of them (why do people expect them to act like dogs?!), and I volunteer at a cat shelter on a weekly basis. I feel like God knew that even though I wouldn’t become a veterinarian (my childhood dream, before I realized I don’t do well with blood), He knew that animals would be a huge part of my life. My childhood dream of helping animals is coming true–just not in the way I would have thought. Isn’t life incredible?
  24. “White Man” by the Michael Gungor Band  is my favorite song about God.
  25. My hope and prayer for this blog is that it becomes a safe place, where we can talk and love and learn together. I know I don’t always post here on a regular basis–sometimes not even a semi-regular basis–but I promise I’ll never abandon it.

 

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Endorphins Make You Happy

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Perhaps it is because I have always been relatively healthy, but fitness is usually low on my list of priorities–if not last.

Exercise and I didn’t always have such a bumpy relationship. Growing up, I was always involved in some kind of sport (whether or not I possessed the necessary talent is another matter entirely.). But the most demanding of my athletic endeavors was high school swimming. Three days a week, I woke up at 4:30AM to make 5am practice; afternoon practices were followed by weight training. I was, without a doubt, the healthiest I had ever been in my entire life.

During my senior year, I decided that I wasn’t passionate enough about swimming to continue.  I had more free time to pursue my true passions, and I took what I thought was a well-needed break from vigorous exercise.

Looking back, I realize that this is when I started to view exercise as a chore.

I’m now in my twenties, but not much has changed. I still struggle to roll out of bed, or get off of the couch, or pause an episode Friends in exchange for a yoga video.

know that my current habits will likely affect my overall health in the future–but it is not difficult to gain knowledge. Think about it: how many times have we all heard that exercise can reduce stress and increase energy?

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They just don’t. 

Turning that knowledge into action…well, that’s the real challenge.

But I know that it isn’t impossible. Drew lifts weights almost every day; when I asked him how he stays motivated, he simply shrugged and said that he always feels better after working out.

When I work out, I kind of hate myself and feel like throwing up.

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Shut up, Ross. 

Then, I found something incredible: Bad Witch Workout. Gala Darling and Garnett Strother have created a free seven-day fitness challenge for anyone beginning their fitness journey–and I loved it so much that I bought the Starter Pack. While I’m still struggling to do the workouts regularly, this program has worked wonders. The community is amazingly supportive, and I’ve even met a few friends along the way!

To supplement Bad Witch Workout, I plan on practicing yoga more often. Yoga With Adriene has been my go-to workout resource for years; unfortunately, I tend to go on a three-day streak and stop.

Through yoga, Bad Witch Workout, and a bit of soul-searching, I’ve realized that I need to find my own source of motivation. Some people just know they feel awesome after a good workout. That’s wonderful, and I admire anyone who knows that exercise is worth it–but I feel awesome when I eat junk food or hit the snooze button multiple times. So, I’ve settled on a new mantra:

When I exercise, I am taking care of myself; therefore, exercise is an act of self-love. When I honor my body, I am honoring God.  

I may never be a bonafide fitness junkie. However, I can always make my physical health a priority….even if it is just making sure I drink enough water and get enough sleep.

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What are some of your favorite workouts? How do you prioritize your health? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter

 

hello, september

Why, hello, September! I can’t believe 2016 has gone by so quickly, but here we are–and there’s already so much happening!

This weekend, I am headed to Dragoncon in Atlanta. Despite my extreme nerdiness, this will be my first con ever…and apparently, they throw a Yule Ball every year. I CAN’T WAIT.

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After we’ve recovered from a weekend of partying (introvert alert), Drew and I are heading to San Francisco! Drew was invited to a conference in San Fran, so we decided to extend our stay and take a vacation. I’m sure lots of Instagramming will ensue.

As for my newest literary pursuits…

I am thrilled to announce that I have recently joined the team over at  Thistle Magazine! I’ll be posting on Tumblr and promoting upcoming issues. Each staff member will also be featured in our mini-issue, Portraits. Be sure to follow Thistle on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!

I have also returned to the world of freelance. At the moment, I am focusing on editing and proofreading (and short writing gigs–unfortunately, I don’t have the time to take on huge writing projects.). If you have a manuscript or blog post that needs polishing, feel free to contact me!

Overall, September’s looking pretty fabulous. I’m especially looking forward to writing as I sip on a pumpkin spice latte. ❤

 

What do you have planned for this month? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

 

 

Why I Write

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At some point or another, all aspiring writers are told that it’s a less than glamorous life, and that we will face countless rejections over the course of their lifetime. We are told it is very difficult to make a living as a writer, and if we do manage to pull it off, there isn’t much money involved– because J.K Rowling is the exception, not the rule.

We create blogs and participate in National Novel Writing Month. We slave over drafts and try our best to silence our inner critic. We research self-publishing and agents and wonder how we will ever be heard when so many people are waiting for the same thing. We take our words and submit and submit and submit until we finally see our name in print.

We keep writing.

And we wait.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Knowing all this, it’s a wonder I still write at all. It would be much, much easier if I had chosen a different path.

But that’s just it, isn’t it?

In many ways, writing chose me.

I love words. I love how I write faster when I get excited about an idea, and how my handwriting becomes more and more unreadable. I love the click-clack of my keyboard and listening to my writing playlist. I love my Scrivener outlines. I love writing so late at night that I’m the only one awake. I love stories, because when you get to the heart of a fairy tale, it’s just another way to tell the truth.

I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else and still feeling so unbelievably happy.

I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else when my heart is hurting.

I write because I believe God hears prayers, but He also reads letters.

I write because I don’t want people like me to feel so alone.

I write because it’s fun.

I write because it’s therapeutic.

I write because sometimes it’s the only thing that feels effortless, and sometimes I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life.

I write because the world can never have enough books.

I write because I have something to say.

I write because it’s who I am.

I write.

I won’t ever stop.

Friends, Waffles, and Work: Ren Fest Adventures

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you who read my last blog post. Your kind words and support mean the world to me. Mental health awareness is especially close to my heart, and I am blessed if this little blog can be a place for advocacy and education. I am considering writing more about mental health, so if you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments or send them via Twitter (or, if you know me personally, you can just tell me). Mental illness can be an especially difficult subject to discuss, and so I was hesitant to click the ‘publish’ button–but I am so glad I did. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

I know I’m late writing this FWAW (that’s my new abbreviation for Friends, Waffles, and Work–how should I pronounce that? Eff-wah? Fwah? Just F-W-A-W? Am I overthinking this? Probably.), but last week was crazy! As usual, job-hunting has taken a huge chunk of my schedule, but I’ve also been getting more involved with church. My current work schedule is also a little hectic (retail), and Drew and I have started volunteering at an animal shelter. Our first training session is this week, and I seriously cannot wait.

I was also busy preparing for one of the most important events of the entire year: the Renaissance Festival. I’ve been to a few Ren Fests in my day, but this was my first year attending the festival in Atlanta. It was also the first year where I attempted making  a costume. I decided to make a flower crown and faerie wings, because where else is wearing flowers and wings socially acceptable?

The problem: I am not very crafty. If you have ever seen Pinterest Fails, you know what I mean. It’s rather frustrating, because I love creating and I love making things, but I kind of suck at it. But with the help of Lauren Conrad, a few wing tutorials, and the miracle of Dollar General, my project was a success.

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Due to time restraints and other obstacles (like buying the wrong kind of wire and too-small stockings), the they aren’t quite what I had envisioned…and compared to some wings I saw at the festival, mine looked like a six-year old made them–but still, not too shabby, right?

Tip: Buy queen-sized knee high stockings at Walgreens. They’re only 99 cents. Also, just use wire hangers. Drew was nice enough to donate a few hangers to the Faerie Fund. 

So basically, I’m really proud of making something that didn’t immediately fall apart, and I am a master craftswoman now.

Kate, Drew, and I headed for the Ren Fest Saturday morning, and we had a blast. If you’ve never been to a Renaissance Festival, I highly recommend it. There are tons of shows to see and things to buy–kind of like a huge fantasy-themed art fair.

We even tried our hand at archery…

 

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Kate is a badass and made a bullseye.

 

 

and Drew tried axe-throwing, which was simultaneously awesome and nerve-wracking.

 

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The lighting kind of makes him look like an evil villain, but he’s a pretty decent dude.

 

And all my dreams came true when I met a unicorn.

 

I'm in my element. 🦄🦄🦄 #renaissancefestival #atlrenaissancefestival #unicorns

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Ultimately, I think our trip was a success, and I’m already excited to attend next year (and try making an even nicer pair of wings).

Other happy little thoughts:

Going to Missouri this weekend; wishing my mom and all the other motherly figures in my life a happy Mother’s Day; seeing little girls dressed up like Disney princesses at Ren Fest and talking to them about their costumes; Drew’s excitement over our new Roomba; Game of Thrones; celebrating Cinco de Mayo with new friends; the awesome wisdom of Jonathan Sacks; walking to neighborhood parks; travel plans; Constable Chubs (as always; that cat has earned a special place in our hearts); keeping in touch with friends from all over the world; picking up shifts at work; Kid President; learning more about trusting God; falling more in love with Atlanta; upcoming beach trips and anticipating the summer.

Here’s to a happy Monday and an amazingly kick-ass week. What are you excited about this week?

 

On Blogging

I have a confession to make: I am not good at finishing things.

As a writer, this is kind of a problem. I have countless drafts that have gone unedited and uncompleted, and ideas that have been in my head for years but never put on paper.

Blogging is no exception. When I was in high school, there were several blogs I would check on a daily basis, and I toyed with the idea of starting my own. I made accounts on WordPress and Blogspot that have since been forgotten. After college, I decided to try again: I kept a blog while I was in Spain, and attempted another while I was searching for publishing jobs. I abandoned the first because I told myself it was ‘just for the trip’; the second was forgotten because depression has a tendency to leave you incredibly unmotivated.

Quills and Crystals is the fist blog I have stuck with throughout those years, and while this is a project I absolutely adore, there are times when I ask myself if I should be doing something different. I don’t have a particular goal in mind, or even a theme; I just write whatever strikes my fancy at the time. And yes, there are several ideas in my ‘drafts’ folder that I have not yet written.

Looking back, I think the main reason I abandoned blogs was because I was so paralyzed by the thought of having the perfect blog right away. I read my favorite blogs and forgot that they, too, probably started blogging on a whim and had to figure out what type of writer they wanted to be.

That’s where I am now: this beautiful beginning of simply writing from my heart and sharing it on this vast space we call the Internet.

It’s not always easy. I’m a relatively private person, and so I often wonder if I’ll regret writing about deeply personal experiences. But art exists for the soul, and writing–blogging or otherwise–is my way of making sense of the world. Art also exists so that we know we are loved and understood; if I can write anything that makes you feel less alone, I am happy to share it here.

Aside from the challenges of personal posts, blogging can be difficult because there is so much I want to say. I could talk for hours about tattoos, or the awesomeness of Genesis, or Disney princesses. I could also talk for hours about feminism or politics. While Facebook is a battleground for opinions, this blog is a place where I can coherently write and process information.

Blogging can open so many doors for writers, and I’d be lying if I said my career wasn’t part of my motivation. But this is also my heartspace; when I don’t journal, I come here. For once, I am not trying to find a box to fit into. I’m just trying to be me, and that comes with a great deal of introspection as well as whimsy.

So, if you are along for the ride, thank you for reading. Thank you for your kind words and letting me connect with you in a way only the Internet can provide. I think I’ve finally started a blog that’s here for good. ❤

Why We Love Game of Thrones

A few years ago, a little show called Game of Thrones took over the world.  I couldn’t go anywhere on Facebook or Tumblr without hearing about it. I didn’t even know what the show was about, but I knew there was a lot of nudity, and a lot of fighting. Since violence isn’t really my jam, I wasn’t too intrigued.

Somewhere along the way, I found out that it had been a book series, too.

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Queue the intrigue. Because I’m that person who needs to read the book, AND watch the movie, if time allows (I’m not trying to be a snob when I say that, either. I just really suck at seeing movies, as anyone who knows me at all can confirm).

As I heard more about the show, the book series climbed higher and higher on my to-read list. But what truly caught my interest was when my cousin Heather told me about a certain quote from Tyrion Lannister:

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

I think that’s how my love for the series began. What finally grabbed my attention wasn’t the sex, the epic battles, or even the medieval fantasy setting: it was Tyrion, the dwarf who had always felt like an outcast (he’s still my favorite, by the way).

I purchased the first book as soon as I could, and I was addicted. Every free moment I had was spent reading. I hadn’t loved a series like that in a very long time.

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After reading the books, I started the show. Admittedly, it took me forever to catch up (meaning Drew and I finished watching the fifth season a few weeks ago–I suck at watching things, remember?), but the show is just as addicting. The actors are perfectly cast; the sets are gorgeous–and sometimes, you see more of a character than you do in the novels.

Even though I believe George R.R Martin is a brilliant writer, and that his novels inspired an excellent television show, I found myself reflecting on my love for the series. Last season did not come without criticism, namely for changing various plot points and including scenes with sexual violence. It’s a thrilling story, but it’s not particularly easy to watch. How did I–and millions of others–fall in love with such a brutal series?

Take the Red Wedding, for instance. That scene is absolutely heartbreaking, and for good reason. Even Cersei’s atonement walk is hard to watch, and there aren’t many fans I know who have love for Cersei Lannister. I realize that many fans have a stronger stomach than I do when it comes to blood and gore, but I don’t know anyone who relishes the thought of seeing yet another beloved character killed. In fact, many fans stopped watching last season because of unneeded sexual violence.

Westeros is a fictional universe that I do not care to visit. In some ways, it’s so much more terrifying than reality–but it’s also like looking into a mirror. Certain scenes are based on our own history; other plot points, such as radical religious leaders, are so relevant to today that the story stops feeling like fantasy.

In the middle of it all are some of the most fascinating characters in recent culture. With the exception of Joffrey, I don’t think there is one character that is fully good or fully evil. But our heroes have one thing in common: they are all outcasts.

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Game of Thrones is the ultimate underdog story. And who doesn’t love to root for the underdog?

Daenerys Targaryen goes from exiled princess to Mother of Dragons. Tyrion Lannister is accused of crimes he did not commit. Jon Snow is only known as Ned Stark’s bastard son until he joins the Night’s Watch. The list goes on and on; if they didn’t start out as misfits, their circumstances have made them that way.

“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things.”

-Tyrion Lannister, A Game of Thrones

The real story is not about violence: it is about triumph. We don’t love the characters who already have power–we love those who are beaten and abused by power, the ones who fight to survive. Game of Thrones is not successful because of its controversial nature, but because it appeals to the tender spots in our own hearts. And until the last book is written and the last episode airs, we will continue to cheer for the characters who never thought they’d win.