Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Favorites 7-31-2015


I have no idea how it's already the last day of July - where did this month even go? Crazy. Let's get busy..these are some things I'm enjoying this week::

1// Grown Woman by Beyonce


Y'all, I can't get ENOUGH of this song! It plays at work and calls for a dance party every time. Just try and listen to it without dancing. Try.

2// VACATION


I went on a solo movie date to this little gem yesterday! It's SO FUNNY
(Look for my review soon!)

3// Fitness Blender


It's no secret that I don't like gyms right now, so finding Fitness Blender has been a blessing! It's this great website where you can put in any type of exercise (from yoga to HIIT to core to anything!) and it has great, easy to follow workouts. And you don't even need equipment for some! Praise Jesus.

Check out their website HERE for access to workouts, daily fitness calendars, progress reports, and more - all for FREE!

(and no, they didn't pay me to say this..I wish they did. Ha..I just really like the website!)

4// Hang time with P!


One of my best friends from college, Rachel and I have been hanging out every other Wednesday or so for the summer - and that means I get to hangout with her baby girl, P! She's the sweetest little thing - and has the best laugh. It's like this raspy, old Asian (she squints her eyes) belly laugh. I'm thankful for them.

5// BRONCOS CAMP!!!!!


YAS YAS YAAAAAAS! 
Today marks the start of training camp - and that means preseason starts in TWO WEEKS! This girl is ready for some redemption, y'all.

#BRONCOSUP,
C

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell


Morning! This is the fourth book in my "25 Before 26 Biography" challenge - and like the others, it has come at a time when I most needed it. (except Sean Lowe's book..that was just for fun. Sorry Sean!) This one is called "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell.


Andie is a food BLOGGER, freelance writer and recipe developer. She lost 135+ pounds and this is her story.


Via "Goodreads.com":

"A young food blogger shares her inspiring story of incredible weight loss-a journey from nearly 300 pounds to losing more than half her size-and establishing a healthy and confident relationship with food.


On her twentieth birthday, Andie Mitchell stepped on the scale and discovered that she weighed nearly 300 pounds. At 5' 9"-even knowing that she was big and hating herself for it-she was stunned. How had she gotten there? Without following wild diet trends, she lost 135 pounds over thirteen months and has kept it off for six years. It Was Me All Along shares the at times heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting and motivating, story of how Andie kicked her habit of binge eating, which she developed during a traumatic childhood, and developed a healthy relationship with food, which she still loves to cook and enjoy. Her story is at once familiar and inspiring to millions who have struggled with weight and self-image issues. Andie is a powerful motivator who bravely bares all to help others."



I'm just going to go ahead and put this here:


Why you ask? Because, even though there's hundreds of other photographs showing my weight gain out there and others that I'm way more embarrassed of - but this one reminds me how far I've come. Andie's book is like that for me too.

She begins her story at age 5. She, for lack of better terms, had a hard childhood. And I don't even think hard covers it. An older brother who worked and escaped her house as much as possible. A father who did not hold a job, and drank himself (literally) to death. And a mother who worked 3+ jobs to keep everything together - and food on the table. Andie was left alone. Left alone in a world that's not kind - and food became her friend. It was her friend, her comfort, her life line, and probably  the biggest thing - it was something she could control. 

And so she ate. She ate and gained and went through life without portions, feeling full or someone softly sitting her down and saying "I'm worried about you." That part I understand though - it's hard to tell someone their life choices aren't doing them any favors. Even when I was at my biggest (in 8th grade), I was loved. Even when I cried myself to sleep at night or called a whale (something Andie experienced as well), my family never wavered. That saves people. You can be kind about the situation and never say "fat". It's possible.

One day though, it just clicks. Something switches in your brain and suddenly it's easier. It becomes about portions and exercise. Vegetables and changes. Mine started the day I started running. A breakup happened and I found myself on a run - if you can even call it that - with my dad. Andie's was after she ate an entire cake on her 23rd birthday. 

So the story becomes about the triumph, and the set backs. Andie is a champion of the idea that food can taste good and exercise can be great! That you can eat what you'd like, you just better stick to a smaller portion or without that much butter. That you can find something you enjoy that makes you move! Enjoy it. Savor it. Sweat it all out. Do one more crunch, one more push up. Make it be your friend, but never the kind of friend that attacks you if you find yourself on the flood of the bathroom, eating chocolate. And I find myself cheering, as you probably will, with her.


There are two big "quotes" or moments in Andie's book that stuck with me. The first is this: "Can you do it today? The notion of just trying to take each day as it came. The commitment to the present moment, and only the present moment, without worrying about the big daunting picture of all the days that followed. The mustering of strength and dedication for now, if not later."

When you try and change your life, and this is true for me (and I'm hoping I'm not the only one!), you want to change it now. You want to wake up and suddenly be good at burpees and do a million at a time (is anyone good at burpees?!). You want to stop eating the cookie and look down and see your stomach physically become a six pack.

The ugliness of that is this: it doesn't happen that fast. Ugh..right?

But you work for it. You wake up before the sun comes up or stay up when the moon comes out. You walk around the block or around the kitchen table until you're ready to run. You do yoga or kickboxing in your living room until you're ready to join the gym. You take one step at a time, because that's all you can do. And when it gets tough, because it will get tough - you just say "okay" and move on. Move to the next thing - even if the next thing is just taking a swig of water and standing up again. Can you do it today? Yes. You can.

Which leads me to my second moment/quote: "what I thought next - just after I silently called myself a quitter, a loser, all manner of bad names - was simple enough: Oh, it's just going to suck for a while."

Damn right it will. And it'll probably suck every now and then after that, because it's work. It's a life change. It's a lifestyle. You don't go into a lifestyle change because it's fun (even though, it is, eventually), you go into it because there's a point when you have to, or you gain another 20 pounds. Or you eat another bag of Cheetos. 

No one is perfect - and I'm certainly not, but coming from a former over eater. A former fat kid. A sometimes still fat kid (hey..I'm not going to stop eating cheeseburgers anytime soon) - that life is much, much easier when you learn how your body works. How your body does on sugar, and how it does when you add some spinach in.

You can do it today.
It's going to suck for a while.
But you can.

Despite anything and everything that says you can't..you can.


You should read it if you're struggling with anything weight loss related. Andie is a no nonsense writer - she's put it all out there. From her eating a whole plate of cupcakes (at 5 years old!) without guilt or a stomach ache, to not fitting in a prom dress, to joining weight loss clinic trials to finally finding a "program" that works for her. Whatever you call yourself at night when you're alone - she's been there. However many frosted covered things you've eaten when you're sad - she's done that too. It's all about finding comfort in the fact that she's been there and you can change too..if you're willing. You're not alone. She's been there. I've been there. You can be here too.

"I will always know fat. And love who she was. And know that fat, in itself, is not a bad word. I'll own it and respect those twenty years. They were hard, but they were sweet, too. I grew up in that body, in that time, in that big, beautiful mind.

I will always know thin. And love who she is. And know that even when she feels heavier mentally, she's freer now. She's effervescent. Small but tough..but both are wide, and their open. And I can lie and cry in one and move and spin in the other, all while knowing this: they're the same field. And they're both mine."

Although it's hard sometimes, and I'm not perfect at it - but love yourself -
and be kinder than you feel,
C

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Movie Review: "Love, Rosie"


I've been a terrible blogger lately, but I promise to get better! I spent the better part of this weekend hanging out with one of my best friends, and we spent it eating (obviously), house hunting (she's moving!) and watching movies. "Love, Rosie" was one such choice!

*SPOILERS AHEAD*


It stars one of my favorite eye brows, Lily Collins (seriously..girl has the best eye brows!) and Sam Claflin (the Finnick Oddair of my dreams). Lily (also known as Rosie) and Sam (aka Alex) who have been best friends since they were littles. And if you're wondering, yes - it is one of those cliched movies where you just wish that the two main characters would have a conversation about their situation - and either get married or not - but they don't have the conversation. Until the very end. Until the very last possible second.

You see, the movie goes back and forth between the big moments in their lives. The first big moment being Rosie's 18th birthday - in a club with "Crazy In Love" blaring. (any movie that starts off with Yonce is a winner already) The two are drinking madly and have a little make out sesh. Which, Rosie is too drunk to remember the next day..leaving little Sam to be a tad hurt. He asks another girl to the upcoming dance instead of Rosie. Rosie goes with the worlds biggest douche - setting off a chain of events that neither one are ready for.


You spend most of the movie aching for them to get together - which is totally expected and natural. BUT, thank you writers and directors, things KEEP GETTING IN THE WAY. Including (but not limited to): pregnancies, weddings, psycho girlfriends and Rosie's fathers passing. Everything that could go wrong in their lives, does.

And yet, in the dreamy light of this film (the light is actually one of the best parts!), you keep hoping. It keeps the dream alive that male and females cannot be friends without one or both being in love with the other (Which is a huge load of crap, by the way. I'm one of those few people that believe that men and women can be friends and not have sex. But that's just me.)


The movie keeps in rhythm with that fantasy, but also trips you up with the aforementioned "things getting in the way". There's certain moments where you're sure it's going to end, but something happens. Each of them pick people they aren't supposed to be with. And not just "aren't supposed to be with", but aggressively bad choosings. You sit there hoping the other (as best friends, mind you) will say "dude, she sucks" or "dude, he's not for you" - but they don't. 


But, romance lovers - it does end with a happy ending, and not something out of "500 Days of Summer" (which, by the way, I think is the way that movie is supposed to end, and if you don't like it..you're delusional). I won't spoil the ending, promise - but it does end well. And that seems to be one of it's redeeming qualities. That and Sam Claflin's smile. 


All in all, despite being totally against the "boys and girls can't be friends, but are actually in love" thing, I liked it. It's not as cliched has I thought it to be, and Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are darling. You root for them together, but individually as well. You want them both to follow whatever their hearts desire - each other but also their dreams as well. 

See it if you're a romance fan. See it if you're a fan of Lily Collin's eyebrows (I'm thinking of starting a club, you're welcome to join!) See it if you need a good cry. And most of all, see it if you like a happy ending..if you know that life gives you all kinds of curveballs, but the good Lord is going to make it all okay in the end. 

And like my good friend, Unknown (ha..) says:


It'll all be okay. It's not the end. Not yet.

C

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review: "25 Before 26" Update + some tunes!


Well, I'm three books down in my challenge of reading 25 biographies/memoirs before my 26th birthday - and I'd have to say..so far, so good. I've really enjoyed "Yes Please", "If You Find This Letter" and "For the Right Reasons" - all for different reasons! "Yes Please" is side splitting, "I wish Amy Poehler was my best friend and life coach" kind of stuff. "If You Find This Letter" made me ugly cry multiple times and re-examine some things in my life, as well as my walk with God. And "For the Right Reasons"..well, Sean Lowe is hunky. So..there's that ;)

I'm currently reading "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell, and while it has made me ugly cry..it's mostly given me some insight on my struggles with weight loss and food. I won't go into any more detail, but look for the book review soon! 

I'm excited to continue this challenge and hopefully find some great insight in a time in my life when I need a little bit more insight and wisdom in my life.

I'm going to go paint now, but I'll leave you with a few songs I'm loving - since my Monday's Mixtape didn't happen this week! 

1// Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard


I love Ben's voice. He has to be one of my top 10 favorite voices. It's so calming.

2// Why I Love You by Kanye West and Jay-Z (REMIX)


I originally went into this looking for the song minus the remix, but this one is remixed with the Cure - and it's super gnarly. Definitely going to be listening to this one a lot!

3// Single for the Summer by Sam Hunt


Yes, I know..you know about my Sam Hunt obsession..but seriously. He can do no wrong.

How's that for some random-ness? 
Have a good Thursday!
C

Monday, July 20, 2015

Movie Review: "Trainwreck"


Last night I saw the 10:30 showing of "Trainwreck" (uh, waaay past my bed time!) - I had been waiting and waiting for months for this one to come out and I'd like to say a few things! *SPOILERS AHEAD*.


"Trainwreck" stars Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, and a host of sports figures - most prominently, LeBron James.

1// I was really kind of nervous that this one would be the kind of movie that all the funny parts were in the trailer. And it wasn't. I mean, it actually created a story and didn't totally rely on the funny..which I appreciated.

2// This is my first real time spent with Amy Schumer. I've seen interviews and such, but never any of her stand up or videos. Amy is crass and crude. Homegirl loves a good racist joke and loves having sex. She is funny though. She's just another kind of funny..one that isn't always my cup of tea. I can respect a woman who wants to make her way in a "boys club" type of world though. Those are the women that I can rally behind.

3// Bill Hader though? LOVED HIM. The Bill Hader that I see in my mind looks like this:


the terrible visor, the long hair - everything about it is bad (except I totally love "Hot Rod". It's so weird, it's brilliant). But Bill, he looks a little hunkier in this one:


He's a sports doctor AND a romantic. That's the Bill Hader I want in my life.

4// TOO MANY BUTTS. I'm not kidding. I saw too many man butts in this one. If we're talking about butts though, John Cena's is massive. I mean, everything about that dude is massive..but geez louise. (sorry mom)

5// I have major love for LeBron James in this one. MAJOR. His comedic timing is actually fairly solid, which I was kind of surprised to see - and he raps "Gold Digger" at one point - which, if I'm being totally honest, is one of my favorite songs. It's that guilty pleasure song.


And his friendship with Bill is adorable. He's the ultimate best friend - a good sounding board, and he's very protective when Amy comes around. He's the kind of friend you want in your corner.

6// I'm not a fan of Tilda Swinton. Try and recognize her for one, but her character was mean, ugly and not fun.

7// Amar'e Stoudemire has terrible comedic timing 97% of this movie. He's only in a few scenes, but he doesn't quite have the comedic chops that LeBron magically has. The man is an epic dresser though.. 


#fashionsenseonfleek

8// I will never be a fan of the girl who pretends to hate sports. Amy's character is brought into this world of sports and pretends that anyone who loves sports is not intelligent, unrealistic and stupid. Get over yourself. 


9// The last scene is EPIC
And I've tried for the last 10 minutes to find a video of it or a picture, but none could be found. Here's them talking about it though..


It's THE BEST.

10// I can totally sympathize with Amy's character in a few ways. She puts up walls to keep people from getting too close because she's been hurt in the past sort of thing. And she rejects the normal life - the white picket fence, the husband, the 2.5 babies..because honestly? She's scared it won't happen for her. That she'll continue on this road and nothing will change. Giving people the chance to get to know you is the first step - and I just wanted to be like "let people in!" when I was sitting in the theater, but it was mostly for my sake. That I need to as well. I feel you girl. 

All in all, I would probably give it a B-. It had some really funny, original content - but it is a Judd Apatow produced movie (think Bridesmaids, Superbad, and 40 Year Old Virgin..) so there's a definite constant crudeness. I could have done without some of it, but I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I didn't laugh. I laughed hard..but it's not going to be one that finds itself on my DVD shelf someday. 

I'd see it if you're a fan of Amy, a fan of that kind of humor or if you're really into sports figures. There's quite a few of those in there (including Tony Romo..who's just as BORING on screen as he is in real life) but I wouldn't see it if you can't handle the crudeness. Some people just can't.

Have a great week!
C

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Review (25 Before 26): "For the Right Reasons.." by Sean Lowe


For my second "25 Before 26" read I chose Sean Lowe's book, "For the Right Reasons: America's Favorite Bachelor on Faith, Love, Marriage and Why Nice Guys Finish First". 



"After The Bachelorette broke his heart, Sean Lowe suspected his “nice guy” image hurt him. The show never emphasized it, but Sean committed to living according to biblical standards of sexuality, even as producers emphasized the risqué and promiscuous. A Texas boy from a Baptist home, Sean tells the story of how he went from a Division I college football player to a fan favorite on reality television, taking readers behind the scenes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to see the challenges of living out his values and faith―and ultimately winning his true love’s heart.

For the Right Reasons is about the journeys we all have to take in the real world, where being “good” is the right thing to do but sometimes doesn’t seem to be enough; where betrayal is commonplace; and where that thing called perfection is actually just a cruel myth. Sean learned a few things from his two seasons on the hottest romance shows on television, and he wants others to benefit from those lessons: good does eventually win, lies will be discovered, and “nice guys” do ultimately finish first."
- via Amazon.com 


First, I chose this book only because I like Sean. I've always liked Sean. And I love him and Catherine together. They're smart, fun, beautiful and funny.

Secondly, I HATE the synopsis I found. HATE IT. I think it does Sean an injustice. It's taken a part of him (his recommitment to Christ and sexual purity) and made it the full frontal assault that makes up the first few sentences of it.

I never went into this book wanting something deep and meaningful. I didn't think Sean could do that for me (no offense, Sean) and after the straight up emotional roller coaster that my last book was, I needed a break. There really isn't much to say about this one, other than it gave me a little more insight on how "Bachelor World" is run.

For instance, did you know that the first night (where the limos come up and he meets 25 people - which sounds AMAZINGLY EXHAUSTING) they stay up til 6 in the morning? Six may not be the exact number, but it's very late. And the champagne does NOT stop flowing. That's why there's ALWAYS some drunk little guy or gal running around. There's always someone who's  not going to be able to handle their liquor.

I also didn't know that Sean was the first man outside the limo for Emily's (remember her? Her voice started to sound like nails on a chalk board for me after a while.) season. AND that you probably could have made a drinking game out of her season, simply by drinking every time she called Sean "perfect". Which, he admits he corrected her every time.

(except we all think you're perfect too Seanie Boy..)


The (only) quote that really stood out for me while reading (told you, not much literary substance) was this: "everything's that's really important happens when no one else is paying attention." I think we've all heard this phrased differently throughout our years of life, but it all comes down to this - life gives you a series of situations. You're given days, minutes, hours. And you can choose (thankfully the Lord has blessed us with the power to do so) to live one way or the other. To choose the chocolate or the broccoli (always chocolate..ha). 

You get to see throughout this telling of Sean's life that he isn't proud of some of his choices. And others, he's kicking himself that he's in such a wonderful setting..that he made the right choice. In college he slacked off. He played football and thought really only about football. He was on a scholarship, and eventually, with poor choices, lost that scholarship. And didn't even play his senior year. Out of college he started into a company with two of his friends and lost millions of dollars of investor's money when it tanked. 

But thankfully, you see that that's not the ending of his story. He chose to get up, get a different job (where he didn't handle millions of investor's money) and get back on track. He hit bottom, and he got back up again - slowly but surely..and it landed him the Bachelor and the love of his life, Catherine.


Honestly? I'd only read it if you're a fan of the Bachelor or of Sean..otherwise, you'd probably be bored out of your skull.

I said I picked it because it's Sean's story - and mostly that's true, but after finishing it, I realized I liked it for another reason..it's a redemption story. It's falling and failing miserably, hitting rock bottom and God using that rock bottom to glorify Himself. He's using all of our stories somehow. He's providing trials and temptations along the way to steer us into the right situation - whether that be through mistakes or hitting the bottom. We're all in need of a bit more of a redemption story in our lives. And thankfully, God is never one to skimp on grace or redemption.

- C

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Favorites: July 17th, 2015


Hey hey! It's finally Friday! Any plans this weekend? I'm working (of course) and hanging out with my friend Emily tonight. We're going to Rodeo Goat (whaaat what!!) We haven't seen each other in a few weeks, so I'm quite pumped.

Let's get started, shall we?

1// Pizza Farm with Nick Offerman


I mean, I'll believe anything if Nick Offerman tells me that it's true.

2// Leah Still


Leah Still, if you're not aware, is the daughter of Bengals defensive end, Devon Still. Thirteen months ago, Leah (who was 4 at the time) was diagnosed with cancer and given a 50/50 chance of survival. Devon was actually cut from the Bengals, but the team, realizing Devon's situation moved him to the practice squad so he could still earn enough money to cover the high, high cost of her treatment and be able to stay with her. And then he actually was moved to active roster toward the end of 2014 - which is very cool. Leah was in full remission as of May of this year, but has to continue with stem cell to prevent it from coming back. The ESPYS honored Leah with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award on Wednesday. I think she's quite the deserving little gal.

And here's her sweet daddy accepting the award (get ready to cry..):


3// #GrowingUpEmo

THIS ARTICLE made me laugh so hard. I don't consider myself emo, but I definitely remember when that was a thing. And when I thought myself to be a tad bit emo. Ha. Oh high school..

4// SQUAD GOALS


THIS IS THE BEST! The "Blank Space" recording is amazing.

5// THIS chair.


It's insane, but in the best way. I think I'm a 90 year old trapped in a 25 year olds body.

Have a great weekend!
C

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dear "Gym" - We have to break up..(for now)

Dear Gym,

Today I sat in a little office inside the front door of you. A lady, whom I was introduced to earlier in the week by another friend, sat in the chair opposite me. She had me fill out a paper with different questions about my work outs, my eating habits, and what I would like to change about myself. 

She asked me how my training session with said friend from earlier went the other day. I answered honestly - that it went fine. My friend is fantastic trainer - kind, helpful and not intimidating - but I'm not really into the trainer thing.

I guess that was strike one for me. She gave me a smug confused look - like why wouldn't I like training? Everyone likes training. I told her that I like doing my own thing. She asked if my own thing worked, and so far, so good - right?

She then hooked me up to a machine that told her my body weight percentage, my muscle percentage and my metabolic rate. She told me I have a small frame, but no, you're not obese - and if someone looked at you, they would not think that. The machine printed out a piece of paper and she started explaining it. But oops, my body fat is in the "obese" section. Hey, I know I'm not in the best shape of my life right now, but honesty is the best policy, right?

She then told me how to combat that and lose 10 pounds. She told me how cardio (aka running..aka one of my passions) wasn't going to help me. How I needed to start working with a trainer and during a 6 month period, I shouldn't run. I should strength train. 

Now, I'm sure that works for some people - but I don't want to go down that road. Telling a runner they aren't allowed to run is just bananas. I think trainers/gym managers forget that one thing doesn't always work for everyone. I know I do sometimes, so I try to say "this is what I do.." instead of telling them my way or the high way. That's just me though.

I'm naturally stubborn, Gym. I'll admit that right away, so as we were sitting in that little office - and she was explaining how my way isn't how you lose weight/tone/gain muscle/be happy, I had maybe checked out a little. I'm not going to lie.

She reigned me back in by saying she was in the low percentages. She had gained the muscle and control of her life - she could eat that cheeseburger and party with her friends. Like she was the only one allowed to do that. *Insert more smugness here.*

I'll eat the damn cheeseburger if I want, Gym. And I'll run the mileage. That's my cross to bear, not hers. Not yours.

I remember canceling one membership at the beginning of this year. The woman on the end of the line spent 15 minutes telling me how I'd regret it, I'd have to pay more fees if I wanted back in, and how they had other plans - ignoring my simple request. I didn't have the money, and it wasn't something I wanted to compromise on. 

Today I was reminded of that when she asked if I wanted to join the gym. Joining has been in my mind - I had the intention of joining when my finances were a little bit better. I don't think anyone can blame me for that. I was checking things out.

She then said, "you're really that broke right now?"

It's definitely not your business, lady. Life has handed me a few things right now, and being apart of your culture/your life is not high on my list. Allowing free trial memberships means you're letting someone try you out. And it is their right to say no or not right now.

I had three strikes after that. She gave me several "looks" and as I was leaving, I'm sure you could cut the tension with a knife. 

On the way home I decided I wasn't going to join. I wasn't going to join you. I wasn't going to join the gym that's actually closer to my house. The intention was gone. 

Vanity and badgering seem to go with gyms. If you're not in the right space (financially, mentally, emotionally) or you don't look a certain way when you walk in the door - they almost always have no desire to take the time to get to know you or give you a tad bit of sympathy. I'm sure there are instructors, members, trainers, front desk people who are - I'm not denying it. But with certain experiences that I've been apart of - if you're not one of them, they don't want you. They'll pretend to get you in the door and using their equipment. They will. But they don't have to like it. They don't stay awake at night and think about the people - they think about the almighty dollar. That's where their mind is. That's where it'll stay. The fitness industry isn't going away.

So Gym, that's where I'm at. It's not me..it's definitely you. Letting you stay in my life isn't anything I want right now. 

The internet is full of trainers and plans and workouts. The library is over flowing with information and books on nutrition and fitness. At home work outs are a trend, and they aren't going away either. I can buy weights and I have a great set of stairs from the first floor to the second in my apartment. The grocery store will always have fresh fruits and vegetables - also something that isn't going away. 

I can change my life without you. And that's my plan. My plan doesn't include you anymore, and I'm definitely okay with that. There might be a day when that changes again. When I find a place that's more welcoming, less judgmental. Maybe one day. But for now, I'm good. I'm okay. I'm definitely okay. 

C

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: "If You Find This Letter.." by Hannah Brencher


So there's no confusion, the full title of this little number is "If You Find This Letter: One Girl's Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters To Strangers" by Hannah Brencher. Hannah is a blogger, entrepreneur, writer and essentially who I want to be when I grow up. (which is funny because she's only a year older..)


Technically this is my second book in my 25 biographies/memoirs challenge, but this is the official official start - yay!



The synopsis, according to Amazon.com is this: "A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher—founder of The World Needs More Love Letters—who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.

Fresh out of college, Hannah Brencher moved to New York, expecting her life to look like a scene from Sex and the City. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange—she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled “If you find this letter, it’s for you…” on the front and left it behind. 

When she realized that it made her feel better, she started writing and leaving love notes all over the city—in doctor’s offices, in coat pockets, in library books, in bathroom stalls. Feeling crushed within a culture that only felt like connecting on a screen, she poured her heart out to complete strangers. She found solace in the idea that her words might brighten someone’s day.

Hannah’s project took on a life of its own when she made an offer on her blog: She would handwrite a note and mail it to anyone who wanted one. Overnight, her inbox exploded with requests from people all over the world. Nearly 400 handwritten letters later, she started the website, The World Needs More Love Letters, which quickly grew. 

There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world—and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started." 


You know those books (or movies or photographs or paintings..) that make you feel everything at once? That's Hannah's story for me. I barely can put into words what this book means to me right now. Not many know, but I made the decision to get a dog, and give her away, break up with the man friend and lose my job within about a week and a half span. Those are pretty big life changes and I haven't been sure what to do with myself and my time.

I've never been one to stay down very long. There's always, always a surge of "Okay, there HAS to be something I can do" - whether it be a frantic internet search or reaching out to a friend of a friend of a friend. Something always comes along, but there's usually waiting..searching..and waiting some more. 

Reading Hannah's words, I felt completely understood in my pain. In my anger. In my anxiety. In my cheers of the small steps - and not just in this recent situation. In all situations/life stages. She went through a dark time and came out with this incredible opportunity to pour into others what she herself needed - which in turn, showed her that she was bigger than her pain, anger, frustration, anxiety, depression..all the things that keep you down. Keep you out and keep you wanting, craving and searching for anything and everything - except for the Lord and for love. 

Not the obsession kind of love. The love that requires you to give everything and have it ripped from your chest. Not the kind of love that you think you deserve. No, not that kind.

The kind that wakes you up. The kind that requires giving of yourself because God gave himself for us. And the kind that keeps you coming back whenever you can't do it alone. And most of all, the kind that shouts as loud as it can that "YOU CAN DO THIS" when all the other voices in your head - the kind that are ugly and harsh say that you can't. That all this pain will be here forever. That you're never becoming anything except this small thing.

A small spark is all it takes for a fire..you remember that.


I underlined everything in this book. I wrote in the margins, in the blank spaces of the pages. It's going to be hard to narrow down ones that I love, but I'll try.

1// "Some people are dotted lines and others are destinations. Some people get you somewhere and some people are just a place to be, all in themselves. But you cannot force the dotted lines into destinations. It doesn't really work that way."

Hannah talks a lot about letting go - something I don't think anyone is truly good at. We like to keep things, moments and people. We don't know when or how to let go, but we're forced to sometimes. Sometimes it's the only thing we can do - some are destinations and some are dotted lines - and just like you can't force dotted lines into destinations, you can't force people to stay. They aren't yours. They never truly will be.

2// "Things move slowly sometimes, but there will be little victories."

Boy, don't I know that. Little victories in this: having another job and actually loving it. The hours have picked up a bit too, taking the pressure off a little. And I found a church that I like and a place to volunteer my time. Little victories.

3// Hope can be a mighty powerful thing when you decide to tangle it into a journey. Hope can shake things up a bit. It'll convince you that even if you don't know what direction you're headed in, something will meet you in the end."

4// "We have very little control over where our hearts choose to root themselves."

5// "The point isn't to be above any work or grumble over any task; the point is to do the stuff others need of you and trust it will somehow matter. Do what needs to be done to keep something bigger than you moving and shaking. Show up for your role even if it seems small..Still show up. I think that is the real heart of doing something that matters."

I find that concept difficult, and yet totally attainable. I forget sometimes that even filing away papers helps someone. That taking things out to the garbage is one less step someone else has to make. We want to be in the thick of things, but sometimes being in the thick of things means we're doing the job. We're not glamorous. We're not the star of the show. The lights, the music, the stage hands - we're sometimes those people - and those people have to show up too.

6// "God is a lot of things to a lot of people but I don't think He is a cheap party host with limited grace to give out."

The church is always weird about grace - at least in my experience. Some seem to think there's more for them because they follow a certain way - some think there's less for them because they've messed up a little more than the person next to them in the pew. We're all a mess. I hope you read that last sentence again - WERE ALL A MESS. Grace isn't given based on anything except love. It's based on His love - his ever lasting, never changing, always available love. That's it. Nothing else.

7// "I've learned it's easy to be all-in with the things you can dictate and control. It's when you have very little control and no idea where life will take you that going all-in is so terrifying. But what if it's in those spaces of no control that a brave life actually begins?"

That's where I am. I'm in a space of no control. All I've learned that I can do is take steps. Take steps forward, take steps to the side, and take them back, if necessary. All I can do is reach out and say, that's it - that's all I got - what do you have for me? One step at a time.


I think that everyone should read this. Everyone who's stuck a little. Who's looking toward the sky and thinking that it couldn't get any worse - and then it rains. Anyone who's wondering if there's anything good left in a world of racism, of war, of fear. 

You should read it because it matters. You should always be in search of the good - and this book is good. What Hannah Brencher is doing in this world is good. And it matters. Giving a tiny bit of yourself to soothe others, it matters. Telling someone you love them matters. Being the person your mother always thought you to be, that matters. 

Because we're all good - I believe that to be true. We're all worth something to this world - we may just not know it all yet. Know how good. How big we can be. How our love can heal.

We are all not called to be missionaries. We're not all called to go out into the remote villages and war torn countries. Some of us are called to be an office manager. A hair stylist. A cashier. We're all called to do something, and we're all expected to show up. 

Show up. Love. That's it. Show up and love.

Show up and love, because that matters.
C

P.S. If you're wanting more information on Hannah and her wonderful letter writing campaign that's sending a little more love into this world, please check out moreloveletters.com 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday's Mixtape: July 13, 2015


Morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was a lot of working and some time spent with my brother - which was very much needed!

I didn't really have a plan for this post - but, thanks to a recommendation on Facebook, I started watching the show "Young and Hungry" on Netflix. The show follows Gabi, played by Emily Osment (who is adorable) - a young chef who gets her dream job working for a young tech entrepreneur Josh, played by Jonathan Sadowski (the gay hairdresser friend from "She's the Man"!).

via wetpaint.com

Long story short, Jesse McCartney (if you don't know who that is, Lord help you) is a guest star at the end of season one and the beginning of season 2. I've had a little thing for Jesse since..forever. He's sort of a guilty pleasure - his movies and music tend to be a tad bit cheesy, but that doesn't stop me from being in LOVE. I think he's super underrated as an artist. So - today's post is about none other than Jesse himself! Let's get started::

1// Beautiful Soul


This is Jesse's first real hit, and it's a good car jam - seriously, put it on your list! 

2// She's No You


I've always liked the guitar in this song. It's the best part. Besides Jesse..obviously ;)

3// It's Over


My favorite - well, one of my favorites of his. It's a good break up song. One that you can play in the car while stopped at Sonic getting the biggest ice cream you can think of or ever consume. 

Ten points to Gryffindor for the concept of this video. Deleting someone from your mind would be the ideal thing, but you kind of have to just live with it. Everything is messy for a while. But then you just deal with it and move on.

4// Body Language


YES TO T-PAIN. Ha, I saw him in concert (with Chris Brown) while in college and thought he put on a great show! I was actually surprised, but he did it without auto tune and he's actually a good singer/performer!

I LOVE this song. It's one that I love listening to while working out - gives you all kinds of self confidence!

5// Back Together


The new stuff (this song and the album In Technicolor) reminds me a tad of Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience..and I ain't mad about it.

Bonus points for::

6// Just So You Know


You really can't make up a Jesse playlist and not have this song. It just wouldn't be right.

 and 7// Shake


This video is ridiculous..but the song itself is infectious.

Have the best day,
C

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Favorites: July 10, 2015


Hello! I hope you're having the best Friday. This week has been a full range of emotions, but I'm hoping to end it on a good note! Hit the gym this morning, now off to clean the house before work. Woo, party animal!

1// Comic-Con!


I love her. I love him. I would be that excited too.


#mancrushesEVERYDAY #swoon

Going to Comic Con is on the Bucket List for sure - but this year, I'm loving a couple of things from the celebration of all things nerd:

- the above pictures, naturally.
9 Things We Learned from the Teen Wolf panel (Season 6 is a GO!!)
THIS Story - which will give you all the feels

One day, people..one day.

2// Volunteering!


I started my volunteer position at SiNaCa this week. As you can see it's a glass school and studio. It's 3D art and I've mostly stayed with 2D, so I'm SUPER excited to learn and be around creative types again! I've missed it.

3// Sam Hunt


I've been jamming hardcore to Sam's album Montevallo none stop this week! The man can sing - also, he's super gorgeous. Sign me up.

4// My biography list!!


If you read yesterday's post, I was asking for some recommendations for biographies. No one helped a sister out (THANKS GUYS), so I checked out GoodReads.com for some help instead. I came up with my list and I'm good to go! I'm super excited.

5// THIS VIDEO!!

video

She's SPEAKING. It's so crazy! I love that little face and that little voice :)))

My big brother is on his way here for the night, so yes, definitely ending the week on a good note! I'm excited to spend some time with him.

Any weekend plans?

Hope you have a good one,
C