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Make Time for the Holidays: Be a Kid Again

I love Halloween. I have absolutely adored it ever since I was a child. I’m the type of person who begins picking out next year’s costume on November 1.

That said, I definitely struggled during those odd teen years around Halloween time. Was I supposed to go trick-or-treating? Was it OK to buy those Leg Avenue costumes if they didn’t look overly scandalous on my short 14-year-old frame? There were a lot of questions—and, honestly, that lasted up until last year for me at 23 years old when I finally decided to go all out on a costume for the first time in years.

I have a very kid-like mentality toward holidays. Holidays, in my opinion, are supposed to be fun. I’m talking plastic reindeer covering the yard, fake bunny footprints in the yard, kiddy Valentine’s Day cards, and holiday Spotify playlists. The older we get, the more complicated life seems to become, so I find it so odd that, on top of becoming complicated adults, we lose our childlike joy when it comes to holidays.

Your level of enthusiasm depends on your own personality, but don’t get so lost in the “I have to be cool” mentality or the “I’m just too busy” mindset that you forget to enjoy the holidays that you loved as a kid.

We grow up so fast. Slow down, and enjoy life. If you want to go trick-or-treating, grab some friends, or join a younger family member. If you want to dress up as an obscure character or reference but fear no one will know who you are, just do it. Dress up is dress up. You don’t need to be the 10th Wonder Woman at the Halloween party—and, that said, if you want to be Wonder Woman but fear too many others will have that costume, just go for it! Life is too short not to make such silly and fun decisions.

Last year, after years of living hours away from close family and friends, I threw a Halloween party from some of those friends. I bought decorations, made way too much food, and spent way too much on costumes my husband and I will probably never wear again. But I had a blast planning it, and I had a blast hosting it. It is one of my fondest memories of the last couple of years.

This year, my husband and I are once again far away from those friends and family. There’s really not anyone to dress up for. There are no parties for us to go to. But we’re going to make the most of it. We’ve planned and made costumes for ourselves and our dog. We’ve put up the Halloween decorations left from last year’s party, and we are for sure going have a blast handing out candy to kids while settling in for another year of watching Hocus Pocus and Hotel Transylvania (we aren’t really scary movie type of people).

If something means a lot to you, make sure that you make the most of it—even when it seems like there’s no point. If it will make you happy, just enjoy it. Don’t worry if it’s too childish or uncool.

Life is far too short not to enjoy one night of silly fun. Enjoy the excuse to be a kid again.




 

Remember That You Get to Choose

When you’re a little kid, most of your choices are made for you—what you wear, what you eat, where you go, what you do. As you get older, more and more choices become your own. While the freedom and independence you gain are certainly benefits to that whole “adulting” thing, they can also present challenges for your mind and heart along the way.

This is especially true when those decisions you make pertain to the relationships you form.

Dating can be challenging in a number of different ways. For starters, it’s confusing at times. Does he like me? Do I really like him? Why hasn’t he texted me back? I wonder what he meant when he said that he had a “nice” time.

It also takes up a significant amount of your time and energy that you may or may not be investing in the right person. Of course, each date or relationship can also prepare your heart for a relationship with the right person.

There are many decisions to be made in a relationship—where you go for dinner and what show you’re going to binge watch next together on Netflix or Hulu and (as things get more serious) what you’re doing for certain holidays and what your future together looks like.

But there are also plenty of decisions that you make all on your own. There are certainly quite a few pressures that come along with relationships, but remember that you are the one who gets to decide how quickly you want to move and how far you want to go in certain situations. You don’t have to kiss someone before you’re ready. You don’t have to have sex before you’re ready. You don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready to do before you’re ready to do it.

Many years ago, I thought that I was interested in a guy who was interested in me. But the more time we spent together, the more I realized that I saw him as nothing more than a friend.

One evening when we went to see a movie together, he held my hand in the car. I didn’t want to hold hands with him. I realize that this isn’t a huge thing, but it was to me, and I wanted my hand free from his. He tried to hold my hand again during the movie, but I told him that I needed a free hand to bite my nails since it was a scary movie.

It might have been one of the lamest excuses I’ve ever used—and, if something like that happened now, I would simply tell the person that I don’t want to hold hands with him if I didn’t want to—but it’s what I said at the time. The bottom line is this: I didn’t want to hold hands with this boy, so I didn’t hold hands with him.

And you can also make the choice not to do the things that you don’t want to do. Life is full of so many choices every single day, and you have the ability to make the ones that are best for you.

Be bold enough to let your personal choices be your own.

Group Projects Don’t End After High School

My Post (58)I hate to tell you this, but group projects sadly do not end after high school—or even after college. You will stumble across those similar feelings of frustration and disappointment in your work life and your social life long after you’ve said goodbye to backpacks and textbooks.

I don’t know about you, but I often walked away from group projects feeling like there was at least one person who didn’t contribute and still got away with taking credit. There were also frustrations from no one agreeing or ever coming to a proper decision.

While group projects—or really anything that involves communicating and making decisions with others—can be frustrating, unfair, and, ultimately, a huge headache, they actually provide chances for you to better yourself.

If someone in your group project isn’t pulling his or her weight, talk to him or her about it. There will be times in your adult life when confrontation will be necessary. Kindly explain exactly what you need from that person. If the group member still fails to meet the expectations of the group, feel free to talk to your teacher, but I recommend still picking up the slack so that you aren’t stuck with a bad presentation or project.

People are going to let you down throughout your lifetime, but you still have the power to push through and to even possibly help those who let you down. Even in a terrible situation in which a slacking group member takes credit for all of the amazing things you did, you still win because, by doing extra work, you learned more, and you prepared yourself for future situations.

You win because you don’t have to worry about your teacher realizing you lied. You win because you actually put in an effort and worked hard.

Those who skate by on the hard work of others usually face rude awakenings at some point or another in their lives. Don’t worry about them. Don’t worry about what’s fair.

Instead, do the best that you can. The best way not to be disappointed in a group project—and in life, in general—is to accept that the only thing you have control over in life are your decisions.

You can’t control others, but you can control your own actions. So make sure that your actions are reflective of the person you want to be.

 

Don’t Miss Out Because You’re Afraid to Miss Out


There are so many things that happen in our world today that it can certainly be easy to feel like you’re missing out on some pretty incredible events and activities.

FOMO is real, people.

But one of the big problems with being afraid that you’re missing out on the people and places where you are not is that it ends up causing you to miss out on the moments that you could experience with the people and in the places where you actually are.

When I first moved to California more than a year ago, it was a really difficult transition for me. I had lived in Dallas for my entire life up until that point (not counting the years when I was at college at Texas A&M University), and I knew exactly zero people in my new city. It was a sad realization to me that I had just left behind all of my friends and family and more memories than I could count.

I scrolled through Instagram way too often, each time feeling more and more disheartened by all of the fun my friends back in Texas were having without me. My heart ached to be there with them and experience all of the joy and merriment that they seemed to be having. I wanted to remember what that felt like, even though I probably rarely acknowledged those emotions when I was in the midst of it all.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that, by longing for the people and moments that weren’t in my life at the time, I was neglecting to notice all of the new memories that I could be creating right where I was. There were—and still are—so many places to go and people to meet where I am now, and it was silly for me to sit around sulking about what I wasn’t doing.

Don’t worry about where you aren’t—instead, focus on where you are.

I often find myself succumbing to FOMO not only in tangible moments of my life but also in the seasons in which I find myself. For me, singleness has been somewhat of an ongoing era (as in, it never ends), and there have definitely been times when I haven’t been content with that status. Rather than embrace the lot in life I currently have, I often look at other people who are happily married or dating or whatever, and I long to have that time of companionship. If I’m being perfectly honest, it actually physically hurts my heart to think that I might never find it.

But if I spend so much time letting my mind wander to what is not, then I’m missing out on some pretty incredible opportunities that God has given me to use this time of singleness for His purposes. I may not be in love, but I can still love others well. I may not be in a relationship, but I can still build relationships with the individuals placed in my life. I may not have one hand to hold, but I can still join hands with others as we strive toward common causes. I may not have certain prayers answered as I wish, but I can still boldly pray on the behalf of myself and on behalf of others with the faith that He has everything under control.

Don’t worry so much about missing out on life—otherwise you’ll actually miss out on life.

Sometimes You Have to Do Things on Your Own

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I’ve been very fortunate to always have people in my life whom I can count on in moments of panic or desperation. Usually these type of moments arrive when an emergency light turns on in my car, as was the case last week.

The events of the week were a big wake-up call for me. First came the car emergency light, and a day later I woke up so sick that doing anything other than lying down resulted in feeling faint and getting sick to my stomach.

In both cases, for the first time in a while, I was on my own. When the car emergency light came on, I was on my morning drive to work. When I called my husband for help, he didn’t answer because he, too, was driving.

I tried calling my dad (a low move on my part because he lives in a time zone two hours behind mine), but he had his phone off because it was, you know, not even 6 a.m. his time.

I had to figure it out for myself—and I did. When my husband and dad both returned my calls later, it felt good to tell them that I had taken care of the situation (with some help from kind people at a tire shop).

The very next morning, I faced the same challenge. My husband had left the evening before on a business trip, so it was just the dog and me. I woke up feeling unbelievably dizzy—so dizzy that I could hardly sit up in bed. I had to call in to work because I couldn’t imagine driving with the world spinning as it was.

As the day went on, it became clear that I needed to get to the doctor’s office. The problem was that I couldn’t drive, and all of the people whom I would normally call were out of town or states and states away.

I’m not going to lie: I broke down in tears and threw myself a pity party for quite a bit. But then I finally got my act together, called an Uber, and got myself down to the doctor’s office.

While it was a horrible two days of feeling rather alone, it was a lesson I needed. It was a reminder that I can successfully do things on my own—even when I think I can’t.

Sometimes we just need that reminder that, even when there’s no one around us, there’s an inner strength that can be called upon.

We need other people in our lives. We need love. We need care. But we also need to be able to rely on ourselves. We need to know that we’ll be OK even if there’s no help to be found.

Don’t let times like this bring you down—let them, instead, remind you of how strong you are.

 

Let Yourself Receive Compliments


I’m not exactly sure why, but sometimes it’s difficult for us to hear good things about ourselves—it’s as if compliments are only meant to be given and not received.

I can’t really explain why this is a thing. I love encouraging people and telling them all of the qualities they have that make them wonderful. I love seeing smiles dance across their faces when they realize that other people notice those traits about them. Yet, for some reason, I feel weird when I receive compliments.

I struggled for many years thinking that I wasn’t enough—not pretty enough for guys to be interested in me, not talented enough for various activities, not capable enough to achieve certain goals, and simply not enough for anyone or anything. I don’t know if it’s believing those lies for so long that led me to be uncomfortable with compliments, but it’s possibly a root cause.

Here’s something that you should know, though: It’s perfectly OK to let yourself be complimented—it might even actually be healthy.

No, you don’t need to fish for compliments (this is often something many people tend to do when they are feeling insecure), but it is important to be comfortable with letting other people offer you words of affirmation.

Letting people remind you that you’re enough.

Letting people remind you that you are worth more than you know.

Letting people remind you that you matter.

And letting people remind you that they see you for the person you are, and they still love you.

My boss recently told me how great of an asset I am to our team and how thankful he is that I came to work for the company—that I’ve already changed the culture there and provided tremendous value to the work we do. I felt myself start to squirm mentally, but then I decided to accept his words as truth and let them engrain themselves into my own belief. Because I needed to remind myself that I’m enough.

And so are you.

Don’t make excuses or blame your successes and positive characteristics on luck or say they are results of accidents of some sort. Instead, say “thank you,” and believe that the affirmation you’re hearing is full of genuine truth.

Compliments are meant to be given, but that means that people also have to receive them. Every once in a while, let yourself be one of those recipients. You don’t have to become a narcissist (after all, Taylor Swift says that she never trusts one), but you can let yourself be reminded of the good things about you and the positive qualities that you bring to the lives of others.

You are uniquely you for a reason, and there’s nothing wrong with letting the encouragement and uplifting words of others further affirm the remarkable treasure you are.

10 Little Things to Do When You’re Sad

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We all have those days. We’ve messed up at school or work. We’re fighting with friends. We just feel low. In those moments, we need to take time to appreciate the small things. These little pieces of joy are not going to heal our hurts or fix our problems, but they can give us comfort and remind us that life isn’t so bad. Here are some of my favorite go-tos.


1. A bubble bath and a good book

If I start to feel “blah” or finally have free time after a stressful week, nothing beats a warm bubble bath and reading a good book. I, unfortunately, never seem to have bubble bath soap in the house, so I usually make do with body wash—it’s not quite the same, but it does the trick.

2. A favorite childhood movie

I’ve talked about this before in a similar post, but nothing quite comforts you as well as a favorite childhood film. It wraps around you like a hug from an old friend. Pop some popcorn, make some hot chocolate, wrap yourself up in a fuzzy blanket, and let your problems fade away as the Disney theme starts to play.

3. Going for a walk

Sometimes we just need some fresh air. At the end of the workday, I’m always surprised at how good it feels to walk outside and feel the wind on my face. It also does wonders to clear your mind. If you need a new perspective or feel like you’re hitting a wall with a problem, go take a walk. See what you come up with when you come back. Sometimes your brain just needs a break or some inspiration.

4. Painting your nails

When I was a freshman in high school, this was my go-to “feel better” activity. I’d binge-watch Gilmore Girls episodes and change my nail color about once a week. My nail polish collection was never so bright and cheery as it was that year.

5. Prettying yourself up

Maybe you’re a better person than I am, but I start to get grumpy if I don’t feel good about my appearance—even if I’m just hanging out at home. For me, doing my makeup and hair is something I need to do to feel productive, and it’s an instant way to improve my mood. Plus, it’s nice to feel pampered, even if you have nowhere to be.

6. Working out

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands; they just don’t.” – Elle Woods

Enough said.

7. Practicing a favorite hobby

Playing guitar gives me a real peace. I don’t get to play often anymore, but it always makes me feel more relaxed. If you have a hobby you enjoy, take time to practice it—especially on days when you’re looking for something to cheer you up.

8. Talking to your mom

My mom is my go-to person to call on bad days. She always listens and offers wisdom on whatever problem I’m facing.

You don’t necessarily have to call your mom—it can be any family member or friend whom you’re close to. Sometimes we just need to vent or ask for advice. Talk to that person in your life. If you don’t feel like you have anyone like that, consider if there are any groups in your community that you could join. Everyone needs support. You can also reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram if you need ideas.

9. Writing letters to friends

The best way to forget your problems is to think about others. Think about what and whom you have to be thankful for in your life. Write some thank-you notes to them. These could to be a teacher, friends, family, or whomever you’d like. It’ll put the good and the bad of your life into perspective.

10. Having a good cry

There are those bad days when there is nothing left to do but cry. Let it out. Cry as much as you need. Everything always feels a little bit better after you’ve acknowledged your pain.

We All Have Our Own Struggles


The great Hannah Montana once sang a lyric that’s so simple yet so jam-packed with truth:
Nobody’s perfect.

We’re all flawed, and you’re likely never going to meet someone who has it completely together. Despite what Instagram might make you think, most people have at least a little bit of junk in their lives. Whether it’s personal struggles or things we’re facing in our relationships, we all have our own issues.

It’s easy to hear about another person’s strongholds in life and immediately become judgmental—after all, there’s no way that you would do that or be like that if you were in the other person’s shoes, right? You know what’s a little bit tougher but so much better, though? Loving that person in spite of his or her imperfections.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as imperfect as they come. I certainly don’t always say the right things, and I have a tendency to encourage others so much that it’s almost like I lose encouragement to feed to myself. Then I end up feeling like I’m not worth other people’s investments of time and energy and like I’m not good enough for certain people or roles in life.

I’ve been a lot better about overcoming this over the years, but these thoughts still creep back into my mindset every once in a while. You know what, though? All of those negative beliefs are lies that I shouldn’t be letting myself count as truths.

But they’re also further reminders that I have a lot of work to do on myself.

And we all do. One of the good things about being human is that we’re all completely different—which also means that we’re all completely capable of different things. We all have talents that aren’t exactly like those of our friends and family members. We can use those gifts in meaningful and impactful ways, especially when we realize how much more effective they are when we use them to help others.

One thing that we’re all absolutely capable of, though, is loving others. Regardless of their looks. Regardless of their social statuses. Regardless of their incomes. Regardless of their personalities. Regardless of their pasts. Regardless of their mistakes. Regardless of their inabilities.

And regardless of all of the things that we think make them unlovable.

Don’t be afraid of people’s faults. We all have them. Sure, some of them are bigger and sometimes scarier than others, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t extend love and grace.

There may be times when a toxic relationship causes us to have to walk away from a friendship or a love, but even then, we can pray and wish well for that person—even from a necessary distance.

We all want to be loved. Why not show that same love that you desire to others?

Just Like We Shouldn’t Slut-Shame, We Shouldn’t Virgin-Shame


Listen, I wasn’t in the “cool” circles when I was in high school, and everyone’s experiences are different, but when I was in high school less than 10 years ago, slut-shaming didn’t seem to be a thing anymore.


Sure, even in my AP circles, there were rumors about if a couple had “taken it to the next level,” but I don’t think anyone was shamed for that—just gossiped about as a couple in a wistful or grossed-out tone. Again, everyone has different experiences, so if you were slut-shamed in high school (or ever), I’m truly sorry, and I don’t mean to belittle that.

When I was in school, though, and what I definitely see happening in society as a whole now, is a new trend that shames virgins. It seems like, as a society, we tend to shame whichever group is the minority. For a while, it was girls who slept around, and then as that became more common, now it’s virgins who are shamed.  

And, if anything, it’s not just girls that experience this, but it might even affect guys even more so. There seems to be some bizarre macho-man pressure on them that they have to be sexually active by a certain age, which is so sad because everyone is different. Not to mention different religions have much more conservative beliefs about such things.

When I was in high school, there was a girl who came off as more “worldly,” shall we say. I have no clue if she was actually sexually active, but boy did she like to make jokes and comments that insinuated that she knew about such things.

She must have picked up on my innocence because she liked to try to get me to admit that I knew what she was talking about. One time I joked as if I did get her reference (that actually went way over my head), and I regretted it horribly afterward. I just wanted her to leave me alone!

When I started dating a guy in our class, she made multiple comments that made me unbelievably uncomfortable. She also tended to have a tone that pitied my boyfriend because we were not physically wherever she thought we should be. She was shocked that we hadn’t kissed, and when our class was accidentally exposed to a naked Juliet’s chest during a viewing of Romeo and Juliet, she made jokes that it was something my boyfriend hadn’t seen in real life yet.

It was really hurtful, and as you can imagine, the comments did not help the relationship I was in. While the guy and I ended up breaking up for lots of reasons, at the time, I blamed her quite a bit.

I don’t know why she felt the need to be so invested in our relationship. Maybe she thought she was helping, but it was nosy, inappropriate, and just downright judgmental. I might not have agreed with her relationship choices, but I would never have criticized her or belittled her in front of anyone, let alone her boyfriend and an ENTIRE classroom full of people!

Regardless of the choices you make or how you feel about them, do not put people down for making decisions that are different than yours.

Virgins shouldn’t think they’re better than those who choose to be sexually active (after all, especially if you’re abstaining for religious reasons, we all sin. We all fall short. We all mess up). Sexually active folks shouldn’t look down on virgins or pressure them to change their views.

Be loving. Be kind. Stop shaming people for making different choices than you. Let’s stop finding a minority to attack and show love, grace, and kindness instead of being critical.








 

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