Smile on Saturday, Volume 2

"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
-Martha Washington
My dog niece Sadie and I.


No Black Friday for Me, Thanks

Let me just tell you a little something about myself. I love the holidays. There is nothing that makes me happier than Thanksgiving, and family, and quality time, and laughter, and cooler weather, and yummy food, and Christmas, and thankfulness, and giving, and love. (The list could go on and on, but I will spare you in the lengthening of that run-on sentence.)

There is one little thing about the holidays that just grinds my nerves though, and that little thing is called BLACK FRIDAY. Now, from my understanding, Black Friday is called such because it is the day of the year that most businesses go from being "in the red," or in debt, to "in the black," or on goal with their earnings. However, whenever I think of Black Friday, I think of it literally...like a gloomy, depressing day which involves people running around like crazies and fighting over things like TV's and Furby's. That's just madness, and it scares me.

I realize that as far as the female population goes, I am most likely in the lesser percent on this one. I have witnessed many excited Black Friday blog posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses over the past week...especially last night. I completely get the fact that many people take advantage of this day because they have children to buy for, or there is a really good deal on something that they have been needing. And that's fine. If Black Friday is your thing, go for it. You go, Glen Coco. However, I will not be Glen Coco in this scenario. I will be staying home, in my warm bed, in the midst of my Thanksgiving turkey and dressing coma.

I guess what really bothers me about Black Friday is the fact that we are supposed to be in this midst of Thanksgiving and gratefulness and love, and on the flip side, society is full of ads and commercials telling us to cut short the family time to go stand in line for early bird specials. It's not only Black Friday now...it's Black Thursday Night too. Am I saying you're wrong if you decide to partake in Black Friday shopping events? I most certainly am not. I guess I just don't understand how this whole thing became so commercialized, and in a sense, bigger than the holiday we are celebrating, in itself.

So, when this day is over I will be all too happy to see all of the commercials and advertisements and store emails come to an end. I know they will only be replaced by announcements of post Black Friday shopping and deals, but those have to be better than the ones that have been circulating for the past month and a half.

There is one thing I miss about Black Friday's past though...

Via Google
WHERE DID THE CRAZY TARGET LADY GO? These commercials were hilarious. Bring her back, Target!

End, Black Friday rant. Enjoy the remainder of your long weekends, and try to stay warm!



Count Your Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving!
May your day be filled with many smiles, lots of laughter, an abundance of love, great times, and great food. Wishing you and yours the best!
"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual."
-Henry David Thoreau



Last night, I went through with one of the most difficult decisions that I have made in my adult life.

It was a result of a lot of prayer, several conversations, and a dash of bravery. Do I feel confused and somewhat broken? Yes. I do. Do I know that I made the right decision? Yes...I do.

I'm not going to go into specifics here yet, because frankly, I just don't want to. After the situation has ran a little of its course and it isn't so new, maybe I will elaborate. For now though, it's just going to be referred to as "the decision."

Decision making is major part of life...that's something that isn't news to us. When you think about it, we have been making decisions since our brains began to function. What toy do I want to play with? What crayon am I going to use to color this Disney princess's dress? Who do I want to be friends with? What activities do I want to be involved in? Where do I want to go to college? Am I going to study for this test, or hang out with my friends? What job am I going to accept? We face these types of questions every day. The only thing that changes is the fact that the difficulty of the decision making just seems to increase with every passing day.

When we make decisions, we gain experience, and ultimately improve our character. In the long run, we understand this full well, but in the beginning stages...not so much. We have been told over and over again...life is tough, get a helmet. Still, it's much easier to acknowledge this than it is to actually endure it. Until we can get through the hard part, we just have to trust that the hurt will be worth it in the end.

For me personally, I know that God has a plan for me in all of this. He is leading me to this conclusion for a reason. It may just be a while before I actually understand why. While I'm working on this understanding, I'm just going to put my trust in Him, and depend on those who are dear to me.

As for you, my blog friends, thank you for always being willing to listen during my spouts of pondering. Also remember, all of us are bearing some type of burden. Keep this in mind...you're not alone. Whatever you may be going through...it will end, and clarity will follow.

Have a great Wednesday, and best of luck preparing for tomorrow's Thanksgiving festivities!



What I Learned from Pitch Perfect


They're great, right?

Obviously they are there for the entertainment aspect. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They make us angry and anxious and afraid. They allow us to experience a complete journey without ever having to actually move from the seat that we are sprawled out on. Unless it's just a really bad movie...then we hate the entire thing and vow to never watch it again ever.

Something else that is really cool about movies is the culture that seems to spin off of them. Certain movies make huge impacts on certain groups of people. As human beings, we like to identify with situations. That's why after we have watched a movie that we really loved, we leave the theater talking about it and quoting our favorite scenes. For example...we are all extremely familiar with the fandom that spanned off of Mean Girls. How long ago did that movie come out? In 2004 or something, right? That's been almost ten years, yet we are still quoting it every single day...and we aren't even tired of the phenomenon!

Today, I want to share a few things that I have learned from a more recent favorite...Pitch Perfect, of course! As a sucker for anything nerdy and musical, I saw this movie in theaters twice, and it quickly became my friends and I's go to movie to watch on a girl's night. I've also listened to the soundtrack a few hundred times, and I probably use a Fat Amy quote in my dialogue at least once a day. It's just an all around "perfect" movie. So, here is what it taught me. I'm anxious to see if you agree.

1. Projectile vomiting can be a positive thing.
So, if you've seen the movie (and if you haven't...drop everything you're doing and go watch it right now), you know that the opening scene ends with Aubrey projectile vomiting all over the audience. Sounds like the most horrifying embarrassing moment ever, right? Normally, it would be, but think about it...Aubrey's projectile vomiting was actually just the beginning of the new transformation of The Barden Bellas. Every negative has a positive, right? Even when vomit is involved.

2. Being a DJ automatically makes you cooler.
I wanted to be Beca within the first ten minutes of the movie. Her and all of her music mixing gadgetry just made me want to learn how to make some cool techno music. I don't think I would be very good at it, but it's the idea that counts.

Via Google
3. If a guy is serenading you from his car, you go after him.
Jesse's air guitar in the car was only the beginning of his adorableness. I understand that chasing after the car would have been bad for Beca's tough girl image, but how do you really pass that up?

4. If a person doesn't like you from your initial conversation, just mermaid dance for them.
Fat Amy really has this down. Just immediately throw your talents out there for people to appreciate, and no one will ever forget your name. Go big or go home. I'm still waiting for an opportunity to show my mermaid dancing off.

Via Google
5. It's really difficult to stay sane in a large group of girls.
If you have ever been a part of an activity that involves hanging out with multiple girls, you already know this. The Barden Bellas are just proof of this. Girls can be a little over the top, and personalities can clash. Luckily though, the arguments don't normally take place around a huge puddle of vomit.

6. Even the nerdiest guy is going to have an adorable quality.
Take Benji for example...he is the epitome of a classic nerd, but he sings like an angel. I've said it before, and I will say it again...don't write off the nerds!

7. As an add on to number three, if the guy who has a crush on you also looks like this...there is potential there.
My roommate and I just sit and gush over how adorable the character of Jesse is when we watch this movie. That voice...that smile! Gosh, it's almost too much.

Via Google

8. Mash-ups are always a good idea.
It started with Glee, and wound up on Pitch Perfect. Putting a few different songs into one set makes for one catchy soundtrack. It also gave me a newfound appreciation for The Breakfast Club.

9. It's okay to be friends with weird people.
This movie is full of some strange individuals...but that's okay. The reality is, we are all a little crazy, and it's important to be crazy together. Diversity is the spice of life.

10. When all else fails, just sing and dance.
Having a bad day? Bust into song. Feeling down? Break out in choreographed dance. There isn't much that's more fun that that! At least, in my mind there isn't.

Via Google

That's all I've got for now. What did you learn from Pitch Perfect? Anything interesting? I'd love to know.



Weekends & Randoms

I tend to stray from the traditional weekend recaps, just because I normally have something else scheduled to post on Monday. However, this past weekend was full of great things, so I'm making an exception and sharing today. I also have some questions to answer in the second half of this post, so things are going to be a bit random. Sometimes though, randomness just seems appropriate. :)

Friday evening, I went to Downtown Getdown here in Tallahassee. This is an event that happens every Friday night before a home FSU game. The streets of downtown are full of food and drink vendors, and there are three stages set up for live bands and dance teams and such to perform on. It's pretty fun! I went with some friends from church, and we also ended up eating dinner at one of the restaurants downtown. Afterwards, Amber and I went to a friends house to hang out for a while, and then I came home and crashed fairly early.

Saturday morning, I had breakfast with my parents. They were here in town for a couple of hours to pick up some hardwood flooring for some of the rooms they're redoing in their house. We ate at The Village Inn, and visited for a couple of hours. After they left, I went to Target to pick up some stuff I've been needing, then I headed across town to John's house. From there, we left to head to Doak Campbell Stadium for some Florida State football.

This is my second football season of being an FSU alum, and the only game that I was able to attend this year. They played Idaho, who wasn't exactly supposed to be competition for us. I was afraid it may not be a very exciting game, but we had so much fun! First of all, any game in Doak is going to be fun. FSU has some of the most amazing traditions in the country. There aren't many things as fun as being in that stadium surrounded by 83,000 fellow Seminoles. History was also made at this game. With a score of 80 to 14, FSU broke the school record for most points scored in a game. It was pretty cool to witness that!


A couple of you may have gotten the Snapchat above, ha ha.

Sunday morning I had church as usual, followed by the church Thanksgiving lunch. Afterwards, Amber, Jamie and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather. We changed clothes, grabbed some blankets, and headed over to Lake Ella, which is a popular place in town to walk, run, or just lay in the grass and enjoy life. I brought my journal with me and got some quiet time in. However, the weather got a little chilly for us Florida girls so we actually only made it about 50 minutes before we went to seek warmer locations!

All in all, it was a great weekend. I'm not even dreading going to work tomorrow because I know Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it's going to be a short and easy work week!

Now, to switch gears a little, the beautiful Kelly over at Big Apple, Little Bites nominated me for the Liebster award. I have actually already accepted the award once. You can see that post here. But, Kelly is a sweetheart for nominating me so I wanted to answer the questions that she asked. Make sure to head over to her blog and check her out. She has lots of awesome stuff to talk about, including all of her super fun travel adventures! Now, on to the questions:

1. What is the number one place you would like to travel?
My dream travel destination is Prague. I want to travel every inch of Europe, but Prague is at the top of the list. There is just something about the city. When I first saw pictures of it, I was so captivated. It has been at the top of my list ever since.

2. Who is your favorite band? Have you seen them live?
I can't pick just one. I would say three of my favorites are Coldplay, Switchfoot, and OneRepublic. I have seen Switchfoot more than once, but I have yet to see Coldplay or OneRepublic.

3. What is your favorite dish to cook?
My culinary skills, like many things in my life, are still in progress. I much prefer baking to cooking meals. I make some pretty mean brownies.

4. What is a beauty product you can't live without?
Definitely facial toner. It's just so refreshing, and I truly believe it makes a difference in my skin.

5. Who is your favorite fashion designer?
I don't really get too into name brands. As far as the look of the products though, I would have to go with Michael Kors. Fossil is my actual favorite brand, but I'm not sure if that counts as a designer.

6. What is your favorite workout?
I love Zumba. I also used to go to dance classes once a week. I love workouts that are fun and creative!

7. What was the last thing you splurged on?
I purchased one of Whitney's blogging tshirts, and I'm so excited about it!

8. What does your ideal date night look like?
I love traditional things like dinner and a movie, but I also love going on mini adventures and driving to new places to explore or try new restaurants. I just like to be fun and spontaneous.

9. Do you wear the same jewelry every day or do you switch it up?
For the most part, I wear the same stuff every day. However, I do have pieces that I switch out.

10. What is your favorite book or what are you currently reading?
I love most books, but the Harry Potter series still has my heart for favorite. Right now I'm actually in between books. Haven't picked up a new one from the "to read" stack yet.

11. Do you have your dream job? If not, what is your dream job?
Ha ha, definitely not! I'm working a job I never, ever imagined myself in. My dream job is to write for a living. Novels, preferably. But, any type of writing would bring happiness.

Thanks again Kelly, for nominating me! :)

I hope you all have a great Monday. It's a short week, y'all. We can do it!

Also, check out my posts from this weekend if you're interested! :)

Smile on Saturday
Guidance {Psalm 3:5-6}



Guidance {Psalm 3:5-6}

I don't know what has come over me, but I have just had the desire to post a little something both days this weekend. I'm thinking I may make it an every weekend thing...nothing huge or time consuming, but perhaps a weekly Smile on Saturday post where I share a quote and a picture like yesterday, and then a little scripture on Sunday before I head off to church. Simple posts like this would take no time at all for me to schedule in for the weekends.

On Sundays, I'm going to share a passage pertaining to something that I have been praying for throughout the week. Perhaps some of you guys have been praying for the same and can find comfort in it.

This week, I have been praying for guidance.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths.
-Psalm 3:5-6, ESV


Smile on Saturday

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death."
-Robert Fulghum


5 Easy Steps to a Fantastical Day

Guess what? It's our favorite day of the week...Friday of course! You know how Fridays always seem just a bit easier...and they usually run smoothly and go great? If only every day of the week was like that. I was thinking though, there is no reason that every day shouldn't be like that. We have the power to make every day of the week a "Friday." It just takes a few easy tweaks.

(Also, I do know that "fantastical" is not a real word, but I do what I want! Ha ha.)

Step 1: Get out of bed...and on time!
The snooze button is a very, VERY tempting little thing. Trust me, I know from experience, just like you all do. It's almost too easy to roll over and slap it about five times before you jump out of bed like a crazy person because you are running late. If you are anything like I am, this happens at least 3 out of 5 mornings a week. I've found that my days run much smoother when I wake up with my first alarm and MAKE myself get up. This way, you have all of the time that you need to shower, shave, do your hair, pick out an outfit, eat breakfast, go for a run...whatever it is that you want and need to do in the mornings. When you have a productive morning, the rest of the day will more than likely follow in the same fashion.

Step 2: Listen to some jams.
Music is essential to life, in case you haven't heard. Think back to childhood, when you used to get so passionate about your favorite Backstreet Boys song. Times of happiness, right? Think about those times that your favorite song comes on the radio when you needed to hear it most. That's a pretty cool feeling, right? Surrounding yourself throughout the day with tunes that you love will put you in a great place emotionally. Sing in the shower. Rock out on the way to work. Turn on your favorite station in your office. I promise...your day will seem ten million times better when you have a constant stream of music flowing.

Step 3: Interact with people.
We all come into contact with others at some point during our day, whether it be with people at the office or students that you teach or even fellow bloggers. People are often the cause of the negative feelings that we experience during the day, however, they can also be the cause of some of our best laughs. It's important to talk with others. Joke with them. Get to know them. Laugh with them. Positive human interaction leaves us feeling fulfilled, because we are social beings. Life is so much easier when we embrace our relationships instead of avoiding them because we are in a bad mood.

Step 4: Create a mantra for the day.
If you know you have a particularly trying day ahead of you, adopt some type of positive phrase to live by for the day or the week. Something as simple even as "I am capable of anything," or "Nothing will bring me down," can make you feel much better about yourself if you recite it in your mind enough times. It's really easy to make ourselves believe all of the negative things that exist within us. Why shouldn't it be equally as easy to realize that our positive aspects are more than true as well?

Step 5: Focus on the positives.
Instead of zoning in on the negative occurrences of your day, pay more attention to positive things that happen...even little positive things. Make note of them, and appreciate how they influence the larger picture. It is always said that the "little things in life" make the most difference...why not put that theory to the test? At the end of the day, write down something really good that happened to you. Document it, and reflect on it. Then, realize that the next day will have something just as equally positive to offer. When you document these things, you will see how they add up, and having that visual representation will make it easier to be positive in the future.

What are some of the things you do in order to have a better day? There are so many ways to make this happen! I hope you all have a great Friday, and an amazing weekend!




Thanksgiving is one week from today, so over the next few days I'm going to take several opportunities to talk about some of people that I am thankful for. These are individuals that I wouldn't be the same without, and they have truly shaped me as a person over the past years of my life.

First on my list: my brother, Dakota.

He may not look like it, but Dakota is actually almost six years younger than I am. Our age difference caused us to have a few differences growing up, but for the most part, we have always been really close. I remember pushing him around in my baby doll stroller when he was still tiny, and we used to sit at the dining room table and play with Power Ranger action figures for hours. Then, of course, there were the moments of sibling rivalry...like when we used to chase each other around the house when we were home alone and he would pester my friends and I to death when I had company over for sleepovers.

The funny thing about having a brother is, even though sometimes you just want to do nothing but choke them, there is still no one that you love more. Dakota has made me so angry, on multiple occasions, but there is still no possible way that I could ever not have his back. I'm always going to be there to support him, no matter what. And I know he would do the same for me. He will always be there to root for me, just like I will always be there to root for him.

The brother/sister bond is a very special thing. Regardless of who is older, or who is bigger, there is a comforting sense of union and support. You couldn't pay me any amount of money to go back and live life with a sister instead of a brother. That's just how it is. I have been thankful for Dakota since the day he was born, and I will continue to be thankful for him until the day that I die. I only hope he knows how much I love him, and how lucky I feel to be able to watch him grow into a fine man.

Love you, Kota!



Paying it Forward

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."
-Charles Dickens

Have you guys ever found a blog and followed it not only because it's cute, but because the writer has the same name as you? I may or may not be guilty of this because I don't share my name with a lot of people, so of course when I came across Miranda at Life in the Low Country I followed her. I have been reading her posts for about a week now, and today she posted something really cool!

Most of us are pretty familiar with the concept of "paying it forward," or doing something good for others because the same has been bestowed upon you. In today's world, there just isn't enough of this, and the pay it forward phenomenon has become such a movement that it is making a significant impact. It is responsible for little things that we read about daily, such as someone going through the drive through and paying for the meal of the person behind them, or someone paying for a random person's gas at the gas station. Random acts of kindness can sometimes make the biggest difference!

Today, Miranda decided to begin the pay it forward trend, blogger style. Here is a portion from her post:

It's as simple as this:
The first person to comment on this post, I will contact them and get their mailing address, and send them a little something special via USPS. The same day they comment below, they are to do a blog post stating the same thing and 'pay it foward' to someone else.
Please keep in mind it does not have to be something expensive or lavish, just a little something special to let them know that you're keeping them in their thoughts and prayers this holiday season!
I knew I wanted to participate, and luckily enough, I was the first to comment on her post! Now, it is my turn to pay it forward to someone else! Just as she has done, the first person to leave me a comment on this post will be contacted for their mailing address, and they will receive a happy little something in the mail from me. Then, if you are that first commenter, it's your turn to continue the pay it forward chain by doing the same on your blog. As soon as you hear from me, get your post up and keep things moving!
Thanks Miranda, for putting this awesome idea into action! I'm looking forward to seeing how far it goes!

"What Gives a Girl Power and Punch?"

Is it charm? Is it poise? No it's hairspray!
What gets a gal asked out to lunch?
Is it brains, is it dough? No it's hairspray!

Oops. Sorry for the distraction. However, this post is going to be about hair, and I can't think about hair without thinking about Hairspray, which is only one of my favorite musicals of all time. You're welcome for getting that song stuck in your head.

Anyway, I felt like today would be the perfect time to do the next installment of my "nosey post" series. In case you're new here, my nosey posts are basically just the sharing of things that other women seem to enjoy learning about. If you're interested, you can find my previous ones through these links:

What's in my makeup bag?
What's on my iPhone?
What's in my purse?

Today, we are taking a stroll through the land of Miranda's hair products. Hair products seem to be something that women tend to hoard, because it's usually a process to find things that we actually like. I'm not really a hoarder though. Even if I buy something and don't like it, I will use it until it's gone because otherwise I just feel like I have wasted time and money.

Also, here is a little information on my hair type and such, that way if you have similar hair to me in any way, you can take my opinion of the products into account. My hair has always been really thick. If you have thick hair, you know that it can be harder to care for and keep healthy. When I was a kid, my hair was extremely straight, but it became wavier the older I got. I viewed natural wave as such a negative thing when I was in middle and high school, and even part of college. Therefore, I straightened the absolute mess out of it every single day.

Needless to say, that eventually put my hair in a less healthy state, not to mention it was time consuming, so I did some research on caring for wavy hair, and ditched the straightener. I'm now all about embracing your natural hair texture, so 99% of the time I either let my hair air dry or dry it with a diffuser on my blow dryer. I straighten my hair maybe once a month, but normally not even that. I really only break out the flat iron if I feel like straight hair is appropriate for an event or something. When my hair air dries, it looks very similar to the picture I have here on the main page of my blog. When I diffuse it, it's much wavier and looks like this:

Please excuse my eyebrows in this picture. It was taken before my monthly eyebrow grooming, ha ha. Eyebrow maintenance is a real struggle. I also got about an inch and a half trimmed off of my hair yesterday so it isn't quite this long, but it is always in the "long" category. I feel like short hair makes me look 13-years-old.

So let's jump into what I actually use product-wise. I obviously don't use all of these every single day. Don't worry, I'm going to break them down.

Here is one of my confessions...I am a sucker for anything that smells good. I typically repurchase products not because they work well for me, but because they smell great. It's hard to give up something that just makes you happy every time you use it because it smells awesome. That's why I keep coming back to this shampoo and conditioner combination. Herbal Essence's Long Term Relationship is obviously marketed towards long hair. I don't feel like it actually does anything special for long hair, but the scent is absolutely heavenly. Seriously, go to your nearest Target and smell this stuff. It is really moisturizing though, which is a plus.

I always use a leave-in conditioner because my hair is long enough that the ends tend to get pretty dry between trims. For a while I was using the Garnier sleek and shine cream, but when I finished the bottle I just wasn't too impressed. I have been using this Neutrogena leave-in cream for almost a month now, and I love it. It's moisturizing, yet light, and the smell isn't overwhelming.

I am still on the hunt for the perfect wavy-hair styling product. I can't get enough of the Not Your Mother's sea salt spray during the summer. I usually just spray it on and let my hair do it's thing. But, during the colder months I want my hair to be a little more polished, so I diffuse it more. When I diffuse, I use this got2b curl cream, which works okay, but it's a little sticky for my taste. It' also doesn't smell very good. Do any of my wavy friends have recommendations for a good curling product? I prefer creams over mousses or gels.

I use the same heat protectant that roughly 90% of other women in the world use, ha ha. Tresemme did a great job with this one. It protects, makes hair shiny, and it smells great too. It's actually the only heat protectant I have ever used, and I haven't wanted to stray. I use it for blow drying, and for that one time a month that I straighten.

Last but not least is the category of hairspray. I really, really don't care for hairspray. However, with wavy hair and all of the humidity here in Florida, it is kind of necessary for me. After finally using up a giant can of Tresemme hairspray that I didn't care for, I bought the Pantene can. I like the hold of it okay, but there is something about the smell that I just cannot handle. It's way too strong. So, while I was at Target the other day I bough the bottle of Dove spray. Honestly, I haven't tried this yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing if I like the flexible hold that it promises. I haven't used it because I have been obsessed with this Aveda sample that I got at an event a couple of weeks ago. I love this stuff! The hold is flexible but strong, and the smell is a little strong at first, but as it sits in your hair it smells awesome. I have another little sample, and I will be so sad when they're gone. I may have to actually splurge and buy a full size from Aveda.

And with the hairspray, my little tour of hair products is concluded. Do we use any of the same products? Do you have any recommendations for me? What are your go-to hair products?

Before I head off, I just want to say that I'm sorry if I haven't replied to your comments in the past couple of days. I am way behind of responding, and I'm hoping to get caught up by the weekend! I haven't forgotten about y'all, I promise! Have a great day!



The World is Really Big, and That's Okay

Last week, I basically took a "break from life." Since I was already down and out from surgery, I took the opportunity to literally throw away all of my responsibilites for the week. I didn't have to go to work. I didn't have to run errands or pay bills. I didn't blog. I didn't write. I didn't clean. I didn't fight traffic to get to and from the office. I didn't do anything that I'm so used to doing on a daily basis.

Sounds nice, right? Well, while it was definitely great to kind of revert to a state of freedom and no responsibilities, I feel like I am paying for it this week. I am having a really difficult time diving back into the hustle and bustle of every day life. I feel like as human beings, we get so focused on our "busy lives" that when we are offered the slightest taste of worry-free simplicity, we forget how to function. Maybe that's just me? Somehow, I doubt that though.

Have you all seen Man of Steel, the newest Superman movie? (I know this sounds lame, but I promise I have a point.) You know how the beginning of the movie shows Clark's life as a young child, and he has those periods where he is so overwhelmed by the complexity of the world that he can't think clearly? Do you ever feel like that? I do sometimes. Even during normal weeks where I am living my life as I usually do. It's easy enough to get wrapped up in your own personal thoughts, and stress about everything you're in charge of in life, but then you begin to think about all of the craziness that is going on in the rest of the world, and it can begin to seem extremely depressing.

As people who have so many opportunities for happiness and freeness of spirit, why do we find it so easy, or even "necessary" to tie ourselves down with numerous pointless worries? Sure, there are a lot of negative things around us that we are more than capable of changing, but there are also many that we can't change. Dwelling on those, and letting them weigh heavily on our hearts will only put us into a place of sadness, and make us forget about everything else that we should be rejoicing about.

We have to continue to fight. We have to fight for our happiness. We have to fight for our right to enjoy life. We have to fight for a mindset that will allow us to live fully, while also overcoming the glorification of busyness and stress.

Just a few thoughts for this Tuesday morning. I hope you all have a great day!



Oh, Life's Surprises

I've been sitting here staring at this blank post space for about 20 minutes now. Why is it that when you get out of your normal blogging routine, it's so difficult to jump back in?

Life is really good at taking us by surprise. The funny thing is, even though we know this and it's no secret, every little surprise still gets to us in the same way as the one before. Although we know life isn't meant to be planned out, I guess the thought just stays tucked away in the back corner of our brains so we continue to be unprepared.

That's how I felt last weekend. I have known for a while that I have been having digestive issues and was going to have to go through gallbladder removal surgery. I was even to the point where it was planned and I had a date at the end of the month to go for surgery consultation. However, my gallbladder had a mind of its own and decided that it wanted to come out sooner. Early last Sunday morning, I had my worst attack to date, and five hours later I ended up in the ER. It was inflamed and on the way to infection, so they decided to keep me and go ahead and remove it.

Surprisingly, regardless of my medical anxiety, I handled everything really well. I didn't cry or panic a single time, even though I came close when they were taking way too much of my blood in the ER. Eventually, I was even happy about it because I knew I just wanted to be done with the pain forever. They ended up keeping me overnight even though the surgery is normally outpatient because it was done so late in the day and I was running a bit of a fever. Let's just say I was more than ready to go home the next day.

Recovery wasn't bad. My family made sure that I had everything I needed for the week, my roommates were awesome, and the percocet made it a little easier to sit up and down. By Thursday I was feeling close to normal and by Friday I had cabin fever and just wanted to get back into the routine of life. I dropped five pounds over the week which is a plus. My appetite is still not normal, and it will probably permanently change some, which I'm okay with. Overall, I'm just glad the experience is over. Constantly worrying about the pain returning was no joke, and I will never have to worry about that again.

So, here I am attempting to step back into blogging after a week's absence. I didn't take any pictures of my hospital experience. For some reason I don't think that makes me a bad blogger, ha ha. Trust me, I was not looking photo ready!  What have I missed? I know I have missed y'all!



Give Me a Few Days

I just wanted to jot down a few words to let everyone know that I will probably be M.I.A. for the next couple of days. To make a long story short, my weekend took an unexpected turn and I spent the majority of it in the emergency room/hospital. After surgery and too many hours of having an IV in my arm, I am home, minus one organ and with pain medication in tow. Don't worry, I'll tell the full story later. ;)

I hope you all have a great week. Can't wait to get caught up with everyone!




Word Count: 3,052
Page Count: 5.5 (Single Spaced)
Chapter Count: 1.5
For the month of November, Friday blog posts will be the home of my updates for National Novel Writing Month. I'm sure most of y'all are already familiar with the NaNoWriMo challenge, not only because I mentioned it earlier in the week, but because it has become a pretty popular thing for writers to participate in. If you are unfamiliar and want to know more, you can read about it on the NaNoWriMo website.
Writing began on November 1st. I didn't actually suck it up and take the plunge until November 5th, so I am automatically five days behind on the schedule to reach the needed 50,000 words. However, I'm really happy with this week's progress. I have two other novels in progress, and they have been in very slow production. With them, I take all of the time in the world to think about plot lines and chapters, and then I work on them when I have time to sit down and devote to them. In other words, they are carefully planned out.
With my NaNoWriMo novel so far, I am learning a lot about myself as a writer. It was exhilarating to sit down at my computer with a spontaneous idea that I had just thought of earlier in the day, and just begin writing with hardly any preconceived ideas in mind. I reached 1,425 words on my first night, and when I read back through it, I thought...wow...that was a test, but it was so much fun! I am loving the direction that it is going in. I have full confidence that I will get caught up on my word count. I have full confidence that at the end of November, I will have my first completed novel. That thought gives me goosebumps!
I'm not quite ready to disclose any basic plot information, but I do have a couple of sneak peeks.

Mainstream Fiction
Main Character:
Baylee Baird
Are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo? How have your first writing weeks treated you?
If you are a participant and you wish to add me as a writer buddy, check out my particpant page on the NaNoWriMo site.

Happy Friday, and I hope you all have a great weekend!


Creativity vs. Logic

Hi. My name is Miranda, and I'm a creative person.

Reading. Writing. Blogging. Singing. Colorguard. Musical theatre. Photography. Dance. These are the things that I enjoy.

As a young child, and all through my growing years, creativity has been instilled in me.  I read every book that I could get my hands on. I wrote stories and plays and put on talent shows for my family. I started singing at a young age. I took dance classes. I did every drama club activity that was offered to me. I was very competitive in guard. I took pictures. I made scrapbooks.

The older I get, the more my creativity seems to grow. As I am maturing, all of my past thoughts and ideas grow and develop along with me. Now, more than ever, I find myself daydreaming...just thinking of all of the stories that I want to tell and the stuff that I want to create. I feel like imagination and creativity tend to be associated with childhood. What I am learning though, is, childhood is only the mere beginning of the ability to create. Adulthood gives us the opportunity to actually go through with our ideas.

In today's society, most people are going to think you're crazy if you tell them these thoughts. We have been given this false notion that as we age, imagination and daydreams have to be replaced with reality and logic. While it is true that we have to learn responsibility and "the ways of the world," still holding on to the creative strands of your identity doesn't have to be a negative thing.

Just as some people lean towards being creative, others lean towards being logical, or rational. I have to admit, these people who are blessed with the ability to view all things logically seem to have a bit more of a leg up in the world. This seems to be especially true when it comes to surviving in a typical workplace. From what I have observed, when it comes to education, creative minded people seem to be more apt to study things that they find interesting or enjoyable, rather than what will actually help them get jobs in the future. Logical people on the other hand, study with their future careers in mind.

Therefore, us creative people end up getting unexpectedly placed into the structured work world unprepared, because we can't always find jobs doing something that reflects our talents. Adjusting to the 8-5 office world has been really difficult for me, because the way that I naturally think doesn't coincide with the work that I am given to do. For nine hours a day, I have had to train my brain to forget about words and music and promising ideas, and instead focus on data and numbers and audits. This isn't easy, and it causes me to struggle with overall happiness. I try so hard to be a good employee and focus on the tasks at hand, but I still find myself zoned out, daydreaming, and thinking about the next twist in my novel or blog posts for next week.

It's a learning process. As long as I'm having to work this type of job, it will continue to be a learning process. Sometimes I wish I had been given the ability to think more logically, but then I realize that I wouldn't be the person that I am today. For now, I just try to view it as a learning experience. It will make me a stronger, more mature person. In the end, the experience will just be proof that I am able to do things that I didn't initially believe I could do.



Fading West With You

A couple of weeks ago, John and I drove over to Jacksonville to see Switchfoot's Fading West tour. I told you guys that he got me VIP tickets for my birthday back in September, and I did a brief little teaser post about the event a couple of weeks ago. Today, I wanted to share more about the tour and our experience. I have been to a lot of concerts in my lifetime, and I'm pretty sure that this one is now at the top of my list in terms of a good time. You will even notice that I straightened my hair for the event, which means it must have been special! Ha ha.
Switchfoot, although they are pretty mainstream now, is still not extremely well known in the world of music. That's kind of a shame, because they are truly phenomenal. Their music is genius, and they make it their goal to spread a positive message everywhere they go. Switchfoot uses their music to give people hope. They want their listeners to know that even though life is hard, there is still a lot to live for. They want to help people believe that they are 100% capable of being the people that they want to be, and they are more than capable of achieving their life goals and callings. In the world we live in today, these are the types of messages that people need to hear. Switchfoot makes that possible.
This is the third time I have seen them live. The Fading West tour is the most unique concert experience I have ever been a part of. It was held at The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, which is a beautiful old play house. The setting was perfect, and made the event so much more special than it would have been at any other convention center or concert hall.
Before the actual concert, we were shown the premier of Switchfoot's first ever movie, Fading West. This movie followed them on an adventure around the world to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Bali. They wrote the songs for the Fading West album while on this trip. It was really cool to see the inspirations for the songs that will be on the album when the full version is released in January. They also did some service work, and a whole lot of surfing...which is another one of their passions. The film was very artistically shot, and some of the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. The film was a perfect portrayal of each band member's goals, talents, and personalities.
After the movie, it was concert time! They played a few songs from the new album, as well as some old favorites such as Dare You to Move and Meant to Live. These guys are not new to putting on a show. All of them, especially front man Jon Foreman, put on one heck of a show. After the concert, which lasted about an hour and a half but felt like five minutes because we had so much fun, we actually got to meet them! This was my favorite part. I have been a fan of theirs for almost ten years now, and getting to actually shake their hands, talk to them face to face, and have my picture taken with them was just the cherry on top of the sundae.
I'm going to let the pictures do the rest of the talking, but first I just want to say a couple of thank-you's. Thank you to John, for the amazing birthday present and the perfect experience. I'm so glad I got to experience it by your side. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else there. And, thank you to Switchfoot. Thank you for being there to encourage me as  I have grown up. Thank you for being positive role models to our generation, and to the world. Thank you for not being afraid to stay true to yourselves. Your music is really a giant part of the person that I am today.



A Few Things I'm Not a Fan Of

Welcome! I just thought you may want to know that you are currently reading my 200th post. I'm not sure when this happened...it kind of just snuck up on me. These little milestones are kind of fun to celebrate! I'm also just a tiny few followers away from 100. I'm hoping to get there by next month's one year blogiversary, because I have a fun little giveaway planned! I normally am not really a fan of blog giveaways, but this is a special occasion and I want to do something to thank everyone that reads my rambling words every day!

Okay, public service announcement is officially over. Today, I want to talk about something that just kind of jumped into my mind. We all have things/people/food/inanimate objects that we hate. Well, actually, I don't like the word "hate." It just sounds so harsh. I mean, that word should be reserved for things like world hunger and animal abuse and things that are actually hate-worthy. These things I'm about to discuss aren't nearly on that level...they just sort of bother me a little. Or a lot. Sometimes, they bother me a lot. Therefore, I present to you:

1. Raisins.
This is probably the silliest thing on my list. I know you are probably thinking, "Yeah Miranda, we all have food that we don't like. It's not a big deal." But, people, I don't just have a typical distaste for raisins. I cannot even stand to be in the presence of them. I don't want to look at them, I don't want to touch them, I don't want to smell them, and you couldn't pay me a million dollars to actually eat even one tiny little raisin. They are just truly disgusting to me. I have hated them since I was a toddler. My mom said I used to call them "bugs." The aversion has followed me through life, and at 24, I'm still not willing to be an adult and give them a try.

2. Adult cartoons.
When I was a kid, I was flat out frightened of The Simpsons. Something about them was just not cutting it for me. Same goes for South Park. Which, I guess was a good thing back then because those shows were definitely not content appropriate for children under the age of at least 16...in my opinion anyway. Growing up, I still couldn't get into these shows, or Family Guy, or anything like that. The humor is not humorous to me, but it isn't just that. Something about the animation is just disturbing. I fell asleep with he TV on one night a few years back, and woke up at like 2:00 in the morning and Futurama was on the channel I had been watching. I didn't sleep for the rest of the night. Weird? Maybe. But, it is what it is.

3. The terms "wifey" and "hubby."
There are several words that get on my nerves, but hearing couples refer to each other as "wifey" and "hubby" is like listening to nails on a chalkboard. Again, I'm not sure why. Honestly, I just think it's pretty darn silly. First of all, I have heard teenage couples call each other this, and I just think that is not cute at all. You guys are going to be broken up in a week...don't act like you're married. And older couples? There are so many good pet names out there to choose from! Why hubby and wifey? Why? I hope no one takes offense to this, because that's not what I'm trying to do. My mom calls my dad hubby, and I can let it slide. Even though it drives me crazy.

4. Taylor Swift.
I'm just going to go ahead and hide behind the wall while I talk about this one, because I know some of you are already throwing tomatoes at me. (Especially Jessica, because she just told me the other day that she loves Taylor Swift, and we are blog twins and all, so I don't want to ruin that, ha ha.) Anyway, I really just cannot get into the T-Swift infatuation. As a 24-year-old woman, I know I should have that ability, but I don't. She is a decent songwriter, but her songs are all the same. I don't think she is that talented of a singer. I don't like her "style" of music. I'm sorry! Don't hate me. When she first came out way back in the day with "Tim McGraw," I liked her. I really did. But she just doesn't do it for me anymore. You will never catch her on any of my playlists. I'm sorry, folks.

5. Lazy spelling and grammar.
Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be a professional at the English language. I do not use perfect, correct grammar all the time, and you will certainly find the occasional typo in my posts. However, at least I TRY, and I am not being lazy or ignorant when I sit down to write a tweet or a blog post. Folks, English is a VERY important subject in school. In order to make it through life, you need to be able to write and communicate effectively. That's just the truth. All of this confusing "to" with "two" and "too," and "there" with "they're" and "their" is not cutting it! Also, punctuation is key! It's one thing to have a run-on sentence, but it's a completely different thing to do this: "Hey facebook today was grate and i ain't wake up till noon and then i went to da store and bawt sum chickin and came home and fried the chickin and then i eat all of it in too bytes."

6. Gloating hash tags/fishing for compliments on Instagram.
We are deep into the age of social media and hash tags. One thing I have noticed about hash tags is that they seem to be an acceptable form of self praise. You know what I'm talking about, you will be scrolling through Insta and see another duck-face selfie of a girl, which is smile worthy in itself, but then you look at the hash tags. They usually say things like #girl (well, duh), #cutie, #smooches (really, couldn't tell), #hottie, #prettyeyes, #adorable, and #beautiful. That's bad enough, but then they take it one step further and say, #jkimsougly. Followed by a sad face. And then there will be comments from several trolling boys that say things like, "Na baby, u r beautiful." This is just so infuriating. To all ladies out there, you are gorgeous, and you don't have to use hash tags to fish for compliments from men who spend their days creeping young women on Instagram. Believe that!

7. Sharing extremely personal photos/stories on Facebook.
A couple of weeks ago, I was taking my evening scroll through my Facebook timeline and I came across an album of completely disturbing pictures that a guy I went to high school with posted. They were of him (shirtless) and his girlfriend (in a bra and jeans) posed in various places around their house. Kissing in front of the mirror. Cuddled up on the couch. Hugging each other. Basically, all stuff that should really be kept in your private life. Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to see all of that PDA...especially when you are half naked! Also, Facebook statuses about your sex life should not even be an option. Your partner probably doesn't appreciate it, and your Facebook friends just really don't need to know all of the details.

Even though seven is an odd number, it is also supposed to be lucky, so I think I will end my list there. For today anyway. This post has potential for multiple editions in the future. What are some things you're not a fan of? Do we have anything in common?

Have a great Tuesday!



November Thus Far: Betrayal, Old Friends, My 'Noles, & NaNoWriMo

Wow. 2013 will be over in less than two short months. I'm trying to let that fact sink in a little. It doesn't seem possible! I feel like I was just ringing in the new year with friends. The holiday season is already in full swing. I went to Michael's craft store with my mom on Saturday, and Christmas had already taken over. I don't know how I feel about this. Don't get me wrong...I absolutely love the holiday season, especially Christmas! However, I have this crazy fear of beginning the celebration of Christmas too early. I guess I just feel that it's such a special time, I want to really, really enjoy it within a certain time span. Maybe I'm afraid that celebrating too early will make me enjoy it less...even though I highly doubt that is possible.

I'm rambling. I ramble on Mondays. I can't help it! Actually, if I'm being honest here, it isn't even Monday! I write my posts the night before they go up, so it's really Sunday night. Yep, I just revealed my secret. Although, many bloggers do this, so it's probably not surprising, ha ha. I'm sitting in bed watching Betrayal. I really, really like this show. I normally don't get into these "dramatic, cheat on your husband with his arch enemy" type shows, but this one is a little different. The characters are actually likeable, and the story-line isn't overdone. If you're looking for a good drama to watch, I recommend Betrayal.

In other news, my Friday evening was amazing because I got to catch up with two of my best friends from high school.

Taylor (on the left), only lives a couple of hours from me, but I still don't see her more than once every three months or so. Sherriah (on the right), got married and moved to Ohio after high school and I have only seen her three times since then! Of course there is texting and email and Facebook and such, but even with all of that it's difficult to keep in touch. Our lives are busy, you know? However, the beautiful thing is, we are still the best of friends when we are able to get together. It takes no time to get caught up, and the laughter always flows freely. Even though we are growing and changing as individuals, our friendship isn't affected. That is the most beautiful thing about true friendship. It transcends obstacles.

My Seminoles kicked some butt again on Saturday night! We played Miami, who is (was, ha ha) also ranked in the top 10, and we crushed them 41-14. The game started off a little shaky, and then Miami wanted to play dirty, but we still prevailed. Thank goodness! We have officially moved back to #2 in the BCS standings. Unfortunately, we may not stay there long because the rest of our schedule is full of easy wins. But...with any luck, we will be on the way to the national championships this year! I'm so proud to be an FSU alum, and so excited to see the 'Noles finally having the wonderful season that they deserve.

Okay, last topic for this rambly post...November is the also known as NaNoWriMo. Or, in full terms, National Novel Writing Month. Basically, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a full, complete novel in one month. I learned of this a couple of years ago, and I have always wanted to try it. I have two books that I work on when I have the time, and I can only dream that they will become something one day. Part of me wants to accept the challenge of NaNoWriMo to see what I'm truly capable of. I know I could do it, and the want is there. But I'm also skeptical because I have a full schedule between working full time, blogging, other writing, and other things I'm involved in. Are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo? Should I toughen up and accept the challenge? I really need some encouragement!

I'm off to get this week started out right. I hope you all have a great Monday, and I will see you tomorrow!



"If Music be the Food of Love, Play On"

Good morning, lovely people! I feel like I'm from the UK or somewhere when I say stuff like that. Thank you for being here today! (One million points to your Hogwarts house if you can tell me where that reference comes from.)

Oh, what a week it has been! Work has been keeping me on my toes, and I started the week off in a pretty low mood, but it has gradually improved. Plus, checking out everyone's Halloween posts and costumes yesterday made me smile. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday. I didn't do much. And by that, I mean I didn't really do anything. Unless sitting on my couch and eating Jimmy John's while watching Paranormal Activity 2 counts as Halloween celebration. Maybe? I didn't even get trick or treaters here in my part of town. Which is probably a good thing, because I had nothing for them. Except a couple of blocks of Ramen noodles. I don't think that would have went over well.

I was planning to do my full Switchfoot recap today, but after looking at my planner I really just want to save it for next week. However, speaking of Switchfoot, I felt like I should use this post to share a few songs that I have been loving lately. I get ADDICTED to music, and it literally gets me through work most days. I've noticed though, that I don't talk about it much here on the blog. Let's change that today.

I am very open-minded when it comes to music. I want a variety. I grew up on Country music. "Don't Rock the Jukebox" was one of the first songs I learned to sing. Being a 90's kid, I obviously love pop...N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, all of those folks. I listen to a lot of contemporary Christian. I am a big rock fan...mainly alternative, but I also enjoy heavier stuff as well. I can't get enough of Broadway soundtracks and show tunes. I'm just not a picky person.

But, my absolute favorite type of music would definitely fall into the category of soft/alternative pop/rock. Bands like Coldplay, OneRepublic, Anberlin, Switchfoot, The Fray, Maroon 5...I cannot get enough! I find that these types of bands are very subtly powerful in their style, and the lyrics are smart and have the ability to be dissected and contemplated. More than any other type of music, this style makes me think, feel, and relate the songs to the important aspects of life.

Here are three songs that I have been loving lately. Let me know if you enjoy them too!

Say Something by A Great Big World

Who We Are by Switchfoot

Counting Stars by OneRepublic

What songs are you loving right now? Do we have any similar music tastes?

I hope you all have an amazing, fantastic, superb, perfect weekend! :)

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