I know exactly who I am. 35 to go…

A little over a month ago I went to visit my wonderful boyfriend and see one of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia.

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A lady on the street took this in front of the theater we saw Mike Birbiglia in. It’s entirely too adorable not to share. 

We had a really amazing time, and if you’re super interested in our weekend you can read about it here but what I want to talk about is my drive there.

It was a six hour drive from my school to the campsite we were staying at and a good stretch of that was through the frozen wasteland that is Canada where there is no internet and no GPS signal so I found myself listening to the same couple of albums in a row. Naturally, there was lots of Pat the Bunny, FIDLAR, Lana Del Rey, and Ben Rector but there was one thing that really stuck out to me. My roommate and best friend Grace has been making me listen to all sorts of new things and one thing I’ve loved is Marina and the Diamonds. Her album Electra Heart is kind of killer and I’ve probably listened to it a hundred times. Well I was listening to her other album, The Family Jewels, and a couple of things really stuck out to me.

Most of this album is really good, there are some weird bits, but I like it lots. (Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13 are my favorites.)

I listened to the first song, “Are You Satisfied?” sixteen times on the way there. I’m not kidding. Sixteen. The words just echoed and bounced around in my head for weeks afterwards.

Are you satisfied with an average life?
Do I need to lie to make my way in life?
Are you satisfied with an easy ride?
Once you cross the line, will you be satisfied?

I’ve sort of always believed that no one is satisfied with an average life, (more on that here) but having those words sung to me over and over I realized how much I’m not OK with an average life. Sure, everyone wants to be remembered and immortalized once they’re gone but I want to be noticed while I’m still living. I want people to see the things I’m doing, the places I’m going, the things I’m writing, the words I’m speaking, and see that my life is different. I’ve always wanted to be unique. One thing that frustrates me endlessly is when people say things like “Oh my gosh! You’re exactly like my friend so-and-so.” Public Service Announcement: No one wants to hear that. Tell me that I remind you of someone you know, or that you think I would really get along with your friend, or that we have similar traits, don’t tell me that I’m not enough of a unique person to stand on my own. I understand that I can’t stand out in the mind of every single person I come across, but I don’t want to be forgettable and comparable. I want to make beautiful things and change the people around me for the better.

“Oh No!” has quickly become my new all-time-favorite song. Every time in comes on in my car or while I’m walking around on campus I have to seriously fight the urge to start dancing like a maniac. I lost count of how many times I listened to this song on my trip but it was an ungodly number of times.

I know exactly what I want and who I want to be
I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine
I’m now becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy

I’ve been singing these words over and over again for weeks on end and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. These words have meant so much more to me than I could possibly say. I’ve realized recently that this is the best version of me that has ever existed and I’m really proud of that. I’ve worked really hard to shape myself into the person I am. In a conversation with Grace this week I said “this is the skinniest I’ve ever been in my life,” and it wasn’t until much later that I realized how true that was and how happy that made me. This is the thinnest I’ve ever been, and it’s also the healthiest I’ve ever been. This is the most proud I’ve ever been of my body. This is the most proud I’ve ever been of the person I am. I’m proud of the choices I’m making and the person I’m becoming. I’ve realized that not everyone is going to approve of the person I’ve chosen to be, and I’ve realized that I don’t care. I feel like I’ve stopped trying to please people with my choices, my clothing, my taste in music, the way I talk, the things I write, and the way I am. I’m done trying to fit myself into boxes to make other people happy. I know exactly who I am and who I want to be.

So I’m going to keep dancing to those words and invite you to join me. Dance along to knowing who you are and who you want to be, or dance along to not knowing and trying to figure it out as you go.  We are our own self-fulfilled prophecies. We decide who we are.

Love you!

Abby

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The best summer. 42 to go…

So it’s my last night of summer. Part of me is really excited for school to start again, I’ve been back at school for five days and I’ve really been enjoying that, but part of me is really sad to see this summer end. It’s been an absolutely amazing summer. I made new friends, I went on adventures, I fell in love. It’s been great. It’s the sort of summer I don’t want to end. So I’m going to reminisce.

I had the distinct pleasure of working with four lovely women this summer: Laura, Ashley, Ali, and Keely. I seriously could not have made it through this summer without these girls. They listened to all of my stupid drama, they laughed with me, they helped me up when I fell, and they just did life with me. These girls made work and life so much sweeter.Friends80Ali, Me, Keely, Laura after we all went out for dinner one night.

The highlight of my summer was my week-long mental vacation that I took back in July. I spent some time at two different camps, observing, speaking, sleeping, and relaxing. I was so blessed to spend time with some very dear people and to have some time to just rest and pray and put my life back in order.

20140724_153329This is me and my dear friend Cindy at the beach at the second camp I went to.

I got to spend a good bit of time with my gorgeous best friends this summer. Penelope, Meesh, Rachel, Nicole, Karrisa. I don’t know what I would have done without them to keep me occupied and crazy this summer. I love them all so dearly.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetPenelope, Me, and Ben at the Ren Faire dressed as Amy Pond, The Tenth Doctor, and The Eleventh Doctor.20140720_121747Meesh and I being cute as bagels, cause that’s what we do.

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My girls Rachel, Karrisa, and Nicole. What would I do without them?

I’m constantly blessed by the family I was put in. It was not always easy this summer, but I know that I can always count on these five people. I love them more than I could ever say.

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Dad, Me, Jonathan, Daniel, Mom, Kayra. They’re just the best.

Lastly, I fell in love this summer. I fell in love with a boy who makes me laugh, makes me feel special, teaches me knew things, makes me blush, and makes me so incredibly happy. A boy with gorgeous eyes, and strong shoulders who thinks before he speaks and is wickedly talented. A boy who’s hand fits perfectly in mine and who makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. A boy who I could write about endlessly. I’m so thankful for the joy and excitement he has brought into my life.

I really didn’t have high expectations for this summer, in fact I was prepared for it to suck. But it was so full of joy and learning. It’s the sort of summer I want to remember forever. The summer of 19. It was a good one.

Tell me about your summer! What did you do? What were your highlights? I want to know!!

Love you!

Abby

My conflicted Summer. 48 to go…

So I’m home for the summer. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more conflicted about summer in my life.  In high school I was always dying for summer by the end of the school year. I was ready to be out of school and to sleep in and to be free. This summer doesn’t feel like that. Yes, it’s great to be home and to see my family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and all the other people I’ve missed so much this year, but it’s different.

I miss my friends at school more than I know how to say. I feel their absence in my bones. Getting involved with Cru this semester gave me the opportunity to get to know so many incredible people and to make so many friends who I love. A couple of times this semester we went out and had a campfire on a beach close to our school and one night as we were sitting there around the fire I just had to look at my friends and I was filled with joy. I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with so many people in such a short period of time.

“I hate distance. You meet the best people and they are always far away.”
My best friend David posted this on Tumblr (go check out his Tumblr, it’s artsy and fabulous,) and tagged me and my other best friend Katie (check out her Tumblr as well, it’s so pretty that it gives me Tumblr envy) in it and I actually cried. David and Katie have quickly become two of my best friends and school. They encourage me, teach me, make me laugh, and make me a better person. It is absolutely ridiculous how much I miss them. I miss late nights, long talks, and all of the laughter with them.

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David, Me, Katie. Katie took this picture of us at the lilac festival this spring and I love it so much, it just makes me so happy (just like them.)

The other people I miss so much are Grace, Kelly, and Mike. I met these losers in Honors Orientation Group 6 so they’ve literally been with me since day 1 of college. They’ve been there to listen to me complain about any and everything, they’ve eaten way too much Common’s pizza with me, they’ve put up with my irrationality, and they’ve helped make me the person I am. I love them all so much and it has been so incredibly difficult to go from seeing them every single day to not seeing them at all. We’re all going to be living in a house together next year and there are no words for the excitement I feel about that.

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We’re in the most hilarious group text and this will forever be my favorite comment. There’s no context to give, it stands on its own. Egg plant tube sock potato salad.

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Kelly, Grace, Mike, Me. We took this picture on the day we signed the lease to live in our house next year. I can’t wait to share every minute with these people who I love more than words.

One of the worst things about going from college life back to home life is being alone. I don’t know if I’ve spent this much time alone since winter break. I’ve gone from having a roommate and hundreds of other people living in my building to living with my five  family members who are at school or work most of the day. College is great because all of your friends live so close. You can walk down the hall, up a floor, or to the next building and be surrounded by your friends. I have to drive at least 5 minutes to see any of my friends here and there are days when I wake up after my family leaves and come home from work after they’ve gone to sleep. This has made me feel really lonely while I’m home.

This summer is also really difficult because I’m living with my parents again. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are the coolest, most understanding, and reasonable people I know; but things are different now. I’ve been living on my own for almost a year now. I’ve been waking up, going to bed, coming home, and staying out whenever I want. I’ve been doing what I want when I want to and I just can’t live like that at home. I live with 5 other people with various work and school responsibilities and my college lifestyle of coming home at 4am and waking up at noon just isn’t going to cut it all summer. It’s so hard to remember that I can’t just leave the house whenever. Remembering to tell my parents where I’m going and when I’ll be back is a serious chore for me.

As hard as this summer might be, I think it’s going to be really good. It’s been so good to be home and see my friends here who I have missed so much. It’s good to be working again and to be back in a rhythm of doing things regularly. It’s been nice to sleep in and cook for myself. I want this to be a productive summer of reading books, doing the things I need to, exercising, earning money, and resting.

Yes, it’s hard to be away from so many people that I love so dearly, but I’m so glad to be home with so many other people who I love.

Love you so much!

Abby

One perfect day. 51 to go…

If every day were as beautiful as today was I would die from over exposure to beauty and love.

I went to church with my two dear friends David and Meg. The sun was shining, the breeze smelled like summer, the trees were blooming, the birds were singing. All was beautiful. The worship at church was beautiful and uplifting and encouraging. They showed a beautiful video about mothers for Mother’s Day which made me incredibly homesick, but also deeply thankful for my beautiful and kind and wonderful mother. After church we decided to go to the lilac festival which is happening this week.

We parked at Meg’s house and walked a good ways to the lilac festival. We all held hands and walked in stride and marveled at the beauty of our little corner of the world and laughed together. Walking around the festival there were so many beautiful people in happy little dresses and gorgeous long skirts and Meg and I couldn’t help but point out all of the stunning people we walked past. There was so much to see and so many people so we just explored a little bit before our hungry stomachs got the better of us and we had to stop and eat. We sat down on a grassy hill and listened to this incredible group called Driftwood. The female vocalist had this slow and sultry voice that just drew me in. We listened to them for a while and watched all of the people around us. There were all of these wonderful people in long skirts who were dancing and just thoroughly enjoying the music.

Driftwood finished up and while we were waiting for the next group to come on my mom called me. I’ve been missing her so much and it was so good to just talk even for a little bit and laugh about all of the silly things that have been going on. Good heavens, I love her.

Between the two groups David, Meg, and I just laid in the grass and enjoyed the sun and then David said “just sitting in the sun with two of my best friends. This is great.” I just stopped and looked at both of them and was filled with so much happiness. It’s not every day that someone tells you that you’re one of their best friends, and it’s not every day that you realize that they’re yours. I’ve spent almost the entire weekend with my lovely friend Katie (who took my side bar picture, aint she great?) and David and more and more I’ve been realizing that they’re some of my best friends and that I love them both so much. I’ve been so blessed by Meg and her kind heart and encouraging attitude. Sitting there made me realize that she’s been the big sister I’ve never had and I was so grateful. More and more I’ve just been looking at my friends here and thinking that I don’t know what I’ll do without them for three months. They’ve come to be such big parts of my life over the past couple months. Grace, Kelly, Mike, David, Katie, Meg and so many more. I just love them all so much.

The second group that got up to play was The Adam Ezra Group who were also fantastic. They sang all of these great songs about beautiful women who live in the mountains and don’t wear shoes. My kind of people! Then in the middle of one of the songs the lead vocalist started improvising and I honestly can’t remember all of what he said, but it was beautiful. It was all about the Sunshine and good friends and happy music and love and joy and peace. He said the most beautiful thing: “I don’t know what I did to deserve this perfect day.”  I was overwhelmed with how incredibly happy I felt. I just sat there hugging Meg and thanking God for the friends he’s given me and for the Sunshine he’s placed in my life. I was reminded of all the ways in which God has provided good things for me this semester.

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David, Meg and me at the lilac festival. Not gonna lie, we’re kind of adorable.

Today has been a little vacation from the four week funk I’ve been living in. Maybe I’ll feel horrible tomorrow, but days like today serve to remind me that the sun still shines even if I can’t see it. It gives me hope that this funk will end and things will be good again. For just today, everything was perfect.

Love you!!

Abby

PS- I used the word beauty/beautiful 11 times in this post. There are just no other words for how great everything is and for how much I love my friends. Everything is just so beautiful! (Make that 12)

Deeply Happy. 57 to go…

I’ve been going to a women’s Bible study at my college since the beginning of this semester and last night we just all decided to get coffee together and just talk about our weeks and about what we’ve been learning this semester. As I was sitting there, drinking green tea, listening to these beautiful women share about their lives I was suddenly overcome with how full of joy I was that I teared up a little bit. I felt so happy and fulfilled that I just couldn’t contain it. We always share our highs and lows of the week and it just occurred to me that my week had been so full of highs that I just couldn’t choose one and I must have talked for ten minutes about how incredible my weekend was. It’s the kind of thing I never want to forget, so I’ll share it with you:

It rained all day Friday, which usually would make me sad but it means that Spring is on its way which makes me so incredibly happy. My lovely friend Zoë, who I went to high school with, came to visit my college and we sat in my room for a couple of hours and talked about all sorts of things while I cleaned my room. We then went to Cru and that was wonderful. Afterwards we went to Jay’s and just spent a couple of hours there hanging out and laughing. Being there always reminds me of long hours spent at the Cocoa Diner eating rice pudding with Meesh. We then went back to my room and watched 21 and Over which wasn’t a fantastic movie but was absolutely hilarious. Then a very dear friend called me to tell me she had a boyfriend now and I was so happy for her that I actually screamed and did a happy dance* for her. I ended up hanging out with my roommate and dear friends David and Graham into the wee hours of the morning.

*I just want to write a little more about this, I actually cannot say how happy I am for her. I am absolutely overcome with joy for her. For years I have been jealous of her ability to calm, cool, and collected around Guys because it is a skill that I generally don’t have. I’ve also spent a lot of time being jealous of her ability to be attractive without trying. In the past it has been really difficult for me to not be a little bitter when my friends were in relationships when I was so hopelessly single, but for the first time in my life I don’t feel like that. I mean, I want a relationship like the one she has, but I’m not jealous. You have no idea how freeing it is to feel like this, being free of the burden of jealousy and bitterness. I never want to stop feeling this way. I am so happy, so so happy for her. Honestly, I might be happier than she is.

I woke up around noon on Saturday and spent the whole afternoon showering, relaxing, and getting ready for the Cru formal which was that evening. It was a good couple of hours of quality time with my roommate as she coached me through how to put myself together in the most time efficient manner.

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I’d say she did a pretty good job. I actually love this dress so much because it makes 
me feel like the world’s most fabulous disco ball.

We then drove the the beautiful golf club where the formal was held, ate great food, and had a hilarious time sitting and laughing.

10247342_10152729594944972_2146947927_nMy stunning friends: Katie, Nathan, Sarah, Jamie, Aaron, Collin, David, and my right eye. Our dinner conversation centered around BibleMan, first date foods, and Meat Forks.

After watching some skits we celebrated the graduating seniors which always makes me tear up, even if I don’t know them. Maybe that’s just because graduating was so stinkin’ emotional for me. We then proceeded to dance the night away. It was honestly one of the most fun dances I’ve ever been to in my life and it felt vaguely reminiscent of Homeschool Prom where everyone was dancing and laughing and having a fantastic time. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better evening. We then drove back to campus and** watched Donnie Darko in my room before passing out.

**Driving in my high heels and my sparkly dress in my little red car made me feel a little bit like a secret agent in a really awesome kind of way. I wanted to turn up the music and drive for miles and miles until I was somewhere interesting where the sun was rising. I don’t know what it is about driving in the dark that makes me want to drive at a hundred miles an hour down country roads and look at the stars. It makes me want to roll the windows down and turn the heat the whole way up.

Sunday morning I woke up late for church and went to church with my wonderful friend, David, and then we spent the entire afternoon sitting outside, doing homework, listening to good music, and enjoying the Sunshine and the warmth. I didn’t get as much work done as I would have, but as a good friend once said “productivity is relative.” It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

All in all it was just a beautiful weekend. I’m realizing more and more that I feel so fulfilled in the relationships I have and in my life in general. The new friendships I’m forming are starting to remind me of the beautiful and deep friendships I have at home. I’m so thankful for where I am in life at this point and I’m beginning to see my place here.

I’m just so happy. Not a surface level the-sun-is-up kind of happy, but a deep in-the-back-corners-of-my-soul kind of happy. Maybe it isn’t happiness at all. Maybe it’s a Peace about life and a Joy in living it.

Love you so much!!

Abby

Big Break. 58 to go…

So I was at Big Break last week for Spring Break. I have no idea how to write this so we’re going to write it Haiti-Post Style.

Part 1: Communication
The school I go to has a large deaf community and the group I went to Big Break with was split almost in half, deaf and hearing. Now I happen to know very little American Sign Language (ASL,) before the trip my signing was limited to “thank you” “sorry” and “prude” and this meant that I essentially couldn’t communicate with half of the group. It was so frustrating, not because I felt like I wasn’t being understood but because I felt like I couldn’t understand. I wanted to be a part of the conversation and I wanted to feel included (this isn’t to say that my deaf friends weren’t trying to include me because they were, but it was a totally different language that just can’t be taught in a day.) However, I was really blessed to be living with my friends Quinny and Tina who were both very patient with me when it came to communicating and taught me a lot. In general, all of my deaf friends were very patient and understanding and I’m so glad that I got to know them. I learned a good bit of ASL but I also learned a lot about God from them all and we had so much fun together. So thank you Quinny, Tina, Jessica, Sam, Brian, Kemoy, and Dakota for being so understanding and teaching me so much. I am so glad that I got to know each and every one of you.

1010138_10152713096494972_763538187_nSome of the wonderful people I went with. Aren’t we all so cute?

Part 2: Pain
I wrote a whole post about this earlier in the week and you can check that out here. I got really bad sun poisoning which made this whole week really difficult. I was in so much pain and felt so sick for so much of the week. It was absolutely miserable.

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This picture doesn’t even begin to capture how terrible it was, but I thought it was funny and pretty fitting that my Golden Key was burnt into my skin. 

Part 3: Depression
I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression this winter. I had to deal with the emotional aftermath of that even in beautiful, Sunshine-y Florida. It was such a roller-coaster of emotions to go from the dark and cold of my college town to the brightness and warmth of Big Break.

Part 4: Homesickness
I was so homesick for so much of the week. I was tired and missing my parents and my siblings and my best friend. I was just wishing that I could be at home. As the week went on I felt more and more at home as I found myself better connecting with the people on the team. It’s been a really hard transition, going from years of going on trips with the same group of people and knowing them all really well and having them know me to doing things and going on trips with people who I barely know. Being new is foreign and scary, but it has been really good. It has stretched me to get out of my comfort zone, to try something new.

Part 5: Worship
I love to sing. I feel most full and right and complete when I sing and it is the easiest way for me to worship because it is such an emotional thing for me. The worship was so incredible at Big Break, so different. Sitting with our deaf friends meant that I got to learn a little of how to sign the songs which is such a beautiful form of worship to me.

This was one of the songs we sang all week and it is one of my favorite songs. I heard it for the first time a couple of months ago and haven’t stopped listening to it yet.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me;
You’ve never failed
And you won’t stop now

These words strike something deep in me.

Part 5B: Prayer
I can’t explain the way prayer moved me during the week, but it was incredible.

Part 6: Sharing My Faith
I am really bad at sharing my faith. I just want to be liked by people and have a terrible fear of rejection and between these two things I find it so terrifying to share my faith with people. Especially the people closest to me. I was really challenged during the week to put aside the things that hold me back from sharing my faith and not be afraid to talk about one of the most important parts of who I am.

Part 7: My Story
I’ve realized that my story has changed so much in the past year. I’ve done a lot of things, some that I’m proud of and some that I’m not. You can never see the path you’re on while you’re on it, but looking back it is all so clear. I wish I hadn’t made some of the mistakes that I did, but as I look back I can see all the ways those decisions have shaped me. As I was sitting on the beach with a couple of friends I could see the contrast between how I’m choosing to live and how I was living and I was suddenly so thankful for the people I was sitting there with and for how far I’d come in just a few short weeks.

All in all I am so glad that I went. It wasn’t easy, but it was so so worth it.

Question of the Day- What did you do with your spring break? If you’re not in college, what have you been up to recently? I want to hear all about it!!

Mission of the Day- Go outside and dance for 47 seconds to celebrate spring!

Love you!

Abby

Dive in. 69 to go…

I would never consider myself an “artsy” person (mostly because I’m a terrible artist,) but I have a love for making things and and doing new projects.

I’m just a lover of the new and the exciting. I love to experiment and research and create. 

But here’s the thing, I don’t believe in easing myself into things. I believe in diving into projects head first. No room to back out, I don’t always think ahead, I seldom have a plan (just ask my parents about this one.)

So I’m jumping into something this semester. Not an art project or a silly whim, I’m jumping into my Faith. Cru, Bible Study, Church. I’m jumping in. I’m immersing myself. No testing the water. No making excuses. No backing out.

You see, if I’m not 100% committed to doing something then I can talk myself out of it.
I have too much homework.
I need to study.
I’m really tired.
I should clean my room.
There will be other weeks.
It can wait.

It can wait.

But it can’t. I can’t. If this means to me what I say it means to me then it cannot wait. I have to get involved and I have to do it today. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Today.

The friendships that we choose to prioritize in our lives are the ones that thrive and help us develop as people. They are the friendships that come to mean the most to us. This is how I need to approach my Faith. I need to give it the thought, the time, the energy it deserves. The key is to make it a priority.

We always have priorities. We can’t help it. We naturally put things above others.
Family
Friends
Comfort
Desires
Money
School

I look at my priorities from last semester and I know that I was putting myself and what I wanted above everything else. I was so selfish and self absorbed and I didn’t even notice. I felt the distance and the conflict in my Heart, but I couldn’t figure out why. I felt a deep sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction. I don’t know what caused me to realize it, it might have just been the time to rest and be with the people who know me best in the world, but I’m so glad that I did. I was so blessed by my time at home.

I went to CORE a couple of times while I was home and was reminded that I just don’t belong there any more but also that I miss it so much. I miss the laughter, the friendships, the growth. I visited Meesh and went to her Christian Fellowship group at her college. It reminded me so much of the friendships and experiences I had at CORE and gave me an idea of how relationships like that can be made outside of my group of CORE friends. It gives me hope for having friends like that at my college.

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Visiting Meesh

But I’m beginning to feel good. Really good. So good.

Random Fact of the Day- Crows can recognize human faces and hold grudges against humans they don’t like.

So here’s to diving in,

Love you!!

Abby

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Here are a couple of the crazy art projects I’ve tried over the years:IMG_20140122_211405
Wire working

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Painting                                                 Making chalkboard paint

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Melting Crayons with a hot glue gun 

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Homemade eye makeup

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Fabric dying and painting