Turning 27: Things I've Learned and Loved This Year

Turning 27: Things I've Learned and Loved This Year

Today is my birthday (HEY HEY!) and like in year’s past, it’s a day that I love celebrating and love to prepare for by reflecting on the past 365 days.

26 Little Lessons Learned as I Turn 26

26 Little Lessons Learned as I Turn 26

It’s my 26th birthday (!!!) and I thought I’d share a list of little lessons I’ve learned over this past year. Here’s to a whole new year of growing, learning, and choosing joy!

What I Learned This Spring

From the hard to the hopeful to the random, here are the little things I learned this spring!

25 Thoughts from 25 Years of Life

25 Thoughts from 25 Years of Life

In the middle of the celebrating a new year of life, I want to share some life lessons, some random nuggets, some things I love, and some things I'm grateful for, in no particular order:

Currently // May 4

Currently // May 4

My birthday is sadly over, but I'm still keeping the celebrating alive! Check out the things I'm up to currently!

24 Thoughts as I Turn 24

24 Thoughts as I Turn 24

I'm turning 24 TOMORROW and thought I would share 24 (very random) thoughts about what I've learned about this life so far.

23 Things about Me (Because It's My Birthday)

Maybe we're friends in real life, or maybe we've never met, and maybe this is your very first time on my little corner of the Internet! One of my favorite things to find on bloggers' sites is lists of things you never knew about them, and I decided it was a fine time to share one of my own as a way of celebrating my birthday (YAY)! 

Enjoy these (very random) facts that you probably never knew about me...

  1. I was born in Maryland and lived there for five years before becoming an Arizona girl! I will always call AZ home, though, because when you live somewhere from kindergarten through high school, it undeniably becomes home. I firmly believe the West Coast is the best coast.
  2. I've never broken a bone, but I have had 4 major knee surgeries, my appendix taken out (in Costa Rica on a mission's one of my most exciting stories to tell at parties) and my wisdom teeth out (with no funny video footage--bummer).
  3. When I was little, I was obsessed with creating families and writing stories about them. I would make whole profiles of each person with all of their favorite things and likes/dislikes, and then would write little stories about them all. I guess I've always had writing in my blood...
  4. I'm a hardcore introvert (INFJ through and through) but people who first meet me never think I'm introverted! I guess I fake it well when necessary!
  5. I'm 5'3" which is conveniently my birthday (May 3rd) and also makes me 6+ inches shorter than my mom, dad and "little" brother.
  6. My eyes are green, my birthstone is emerald, and my favorite color is green. I loved that Pantone's color of the year for 2014 was emerald-- it was everywhere and it was awesome! I use that exact shade in my logo and around my website.
  7. I don't like chocolate (never really have and especially not now that I'm vegan and can't eat a lot of it) but I LOVE fruity candy-- orange is my favorite flavor by FAR. Sour Patch Kids, Nerds, Skittles, Sweetarts,'s my weakness. I would almost always choose candy over baked goods or any other kind of dessert, except maybe fro-yo (fruity sorbet topped with berries and nerds is my go-to)!
  8. My eyesight is technically perfect according to my eye doctor, but since I get awful headaches and migraines like ALL THE TIME, I wear glasses when I read or look at my computer screen! It makes a huge difference. Plus, I feel cooler and more studious when I wear them, so it's really a win-win.
  9. I watched the documentary Food, Inc. when I was a senior in high school, and I quit eating all meat cold turkey (pun totally intended) right after! I've been a vegetarian now since June 5, 2010. The beginning of my last year at JMU, I got really sick for a few weeks after coming back from a summer in London, and after seeing my doctor, realized I was allergic to wheat. Thanks to my body being super weird, I also couldn't handle eating any dairy anymore, so out of nowhere I became gluten-free and vegan in one fell swoop! I do cheat occasionally and eat some seafood and eggs, but overall I love it even though it makes life way more complicated.
  10. I've traveled to Mexico, Canada, France, Costa Rica, England and Scotland-- I can't wait to see which country I get to go to next.
  11. One of my favorite childhood travel experiences was a six-week sabbatical road trip my family took the summer before I went into 7th grade. We left from Arizona (with our mini-van packed to the brim with everything we would need for the whole summer) and journeyed up through California, into Oregon, to Washington where we embarked on a week-long Alaskan cruise, then up into Canada, and then back down through Montana, Wyoming, the corner of Idaho, Utah, Four Corners, then back home to AZ. We hit quite a few National Parks and many other incredible sights along the way, and I'm so glad it was before we had cell phones or iPods or DVDs in our car to distract us-- it was a trip of a lifetime and I'll never forget it!
  12. My family has a miniature schnauzer that I named Uli (after a German woman on Project Runway the summer that we got her)-- she's adorable.
  13. I was on the newspaper staff in high school, and was co-editor in chief my senior year. We redesigned the paper into a newsmagazine that won some awards-- I loved that class and being part of all of it.
  14. We didn't have cable until I was in high school. I joke that I was a super sheltered kid (I mean, I only watched Arthur and ZOOM, and my boy band of choice was Plus One because I had no clue who the Backstreet Boys or NSYNC were...) but I'm so grateful for it in hindsight. 
  15. I passed out on a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Sedona, AZ once...
  16. I have to keep my nails painted or I'll bite them. Bad habits die hard.
  17. I could never do a cartwheel or a handstand or the splits, and always wanted to be able to. Maybe someday...
  18. I've never seen the Harry Potter movies. I know, I know. Everyone I tell freaks out. It's just one of those things, though. Just not interested.
  19. I HATED living in VA the first few years I was here (also because high school was hellish, but that's a whole different story) but I have completely fallen in love with Richmond since moving back after graduation. I love this River City.
  20. My favorite sport is hockey, by far. I went to quite a few Phoenix Coyotes games growing up, but became a huge Washington Capitals fan in high school thanks to my then-boyfriend who was an avid hockey player and fan. I'm loving that we're in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs-- let's go Caps!
  21. I have two tattoos-- an arrow on the side of my foot and this one I designed on my left forearm.
  22. I love love love snail mail. Cute stamps, fun stationary, little doodles or extra things tucked in, beautiful's my favorite.
  23. My love languages are gift-giving and words of affirmation (yep, they're tied for first) and then everything else is much much lower. Physical touch is my lowest by far-- not a fan of hugs over here. No thank you!

Anything we have in common? Anything you think is super weird or cool or interesting? I would love to hear from you in the comments :) Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a birthday to celebrate!

What You See When You Look Up

This past weekend, I adventured to Charlottesville for the day. I have the sweetest best friend in the world who wouldn't let me feel sad about a less exciting and more adult birthday, so she drove from Harrisonburg to meet me and make my day fun. Crystal, here's your shoutout-- you are such a gem! 

We walked, we talked, we shopped, we wandered aimlessly around a crowded farmers market. We wandered up a side street where a man was playing the harmonica, hoping for change from people passing by like we were.

I glanced his way for a second, but carried on in our conversation as we kept going. As we were walking away, a toddler walked right up to this man and just stared at him in wonder. We stopped talking as we watched him, and we stopped to see how things would play out.

This little boy was mesmerized. Crystal and I stopped to watch, smiling and laughing as we watched this little boy and his huge curiosity. We could see this adorable little guy had special needs, but hey, any man sitting on a bucket at toddler eye level playing music into a mic is worth stopping for, am I right?

This man has been there before, I've seen him there on random weekend trips.  That might be his spot. I'm sure he has gotten every kind of response in the book from passersby, every jeer, every taunt, every judging glance, maybe a few coins, probably mostly quickened steps as people rush by. His skin was worn and reddened by what I can only guess was hours and hours spent in the sun, sitting on that bucket, playing familiar tunes and hoping to go home with a little more money than he came with. 

Whatever that man's story, whatever his past, whatever his present, it didn't matter to that little boy. He got right up close and just looked at him. He didn't make a sound, he didn't laugh or cry or speak, he just looked. So curious, so full of wonder.

Nobody tried to pull the kid away and try to tell him he was invading rules about personal space. Nobody tried to distract him away from the man. We just watched this boy as he watched that man. 

He moved a few steps around the side of the man, stopped there for a second to watch, then moved a few more steps so he was standing directly behind the man. Long, thick dreads hung down his back, and the boy just stared at them for a moment before he took more steps again, staring intently all the while.

The boy moved on soon after, off to spin a pinwheel in the wind and see the toys behind the store window. 

Crystal and I just laughed together as he wandered off. Those few moments seemed special, sweet, sincere. The boy didn't care what that man was thinking or feeling about what he was there on that street doing, he just wanted to get right up close and personal and watch him do what he was doing. The boy didn't know his story, didn't have judgment to pass, didn't probably even really think about what he was doing, he just wanted to go see.

I wonder how the man felt, with this child right up in his face, just staring at him. Did he feel uncomfortable? Did he feel noticed? I think if it were me, I would feel a mix of both-- uneasy that someone was getting so intimately near me, but also pleased to know someone was eager to do so.

I want to have curiosity like that sweet, small boy. I want to be full of wonder like that. I want to get right up close to things that intrigue me, and I want to just absorb them fully and explore every angle. I want to live with a confidence and a fearlessness that doesn't take all the opinions of those around me into consideration before I make a move. I want to engage with people that most of the world just hurries past. I want to stop and appreciate simplicity, beauty, art, humanity.

I'm thankful for those few short minutes, for that sweet little boy, for encountering an interaction that has lingered with me and even challenged me.

There's a viral video going around called "Look Up" -- it's a powerful story of our society and our obsession with and absorption in our phones and technology.

Seeing this video right after this weekend wasn't coincidental, it was purposeful. I've been so clearly and beautifully reminded in the past few days that real, full, true life doesn't happen behind a screen. It happens in the moments all around us, and I want to put my phone in my pocket and dive on in. 

Look up. Look around. Look in people's eyes. Look at creation. Look, and you will see. 

Feelin' 22

If there ever has been a year of my life that radically changed me, this year would be it. Every year has changed me, but looking at the girl I was a year ago compared to the girl (woman?) I am today is remarkable.

I turn 22 tomorrow. In these past few weeks leading up to the best day of the whole year (also known as my birthday), I've been reflecting a lot on the years behind me and the future ahead. I wrote about how I've seen Jesus in this past year. I wrote to the high school version of myself, sharing perspective I only have now looking back.

My life today is both everything I hoped it be and nothing like I imagined. As I start on a new year, I'm celebrating grace and God's goodness, I'm remembering and reminiscing, I'm rejoicing in His faithfulness. My heart is full, and words are spilling out of it, so here they are. 

In the past year, I've come to see God as such a generous, gracious, giving God. I've seen Him be such a perfect Provider of purpose and passion and peace. I've seen Him open doors, open hearts, open opportunities.

A year ago, I was still a college student, living in an old house with 7 other girls, co-leading a small group of the most incredible freshman women I've ever met (shout out to BTB!), part of a small group that had been such a tight knit group since we came to JMU, a SMAD major, an intern, an employee at a local church daycare, about to walk across a stage set up on the Quad to get my diploma.

Today, I'm a Richmonder again, a full-time, salaried Communications Coordinator of a nonprofit that I absolutely love, a member of the Rethink Creative Group, a writer, a freelancer, a leader of both a co-ed young adult small group and a womens young adult small group through HOPE, a member of the HOPE kids team, living in my own apartment, a real, working adult.

It's been a year since I turned 21, almost a year since I graduated. That is insane to think about! That seriously was a year ago now?! It feels just like yesterday.

At the core, so much of me is the same as in my youngest years. I'm stubborn, I'm strong-willed, I have a killer "green-eyed glare", I'm introverted, I'm creative, I write all the time (don't even ask me how many "stories" I used to write in my early elementary school days...), I'm a reader, I'm a devoted Jesus-follower, I love my family dearly, I love adventure and exploring new places but not really taking big risks.

In everything that has changed and in everything that has stayed the same, I'm grateful for how the Lord has been constantly growing me. I'm thankful that the things that make me me are still the same, but that they're being refined and molded. I'm blessed to be surrounded by encouragement and affirmation from people I respect and love immensely in every single aspect of life-- church, family, work, my writing, everything. 

A year ago, I was stressed out about what life after college would look like. I was frantically hunting for jobs, always feeling inadequate and unqualified to do what I felt like I wanted to do with my life. I was pulling away from relationships on my own accord because I wanted the breaks to be easier and less painful when I graduated but all my friends stayed for one more year. I was dreading returning to Richmond, yearning for new places and new people and new chances to start over.

Now, I'm laughing looking back on all those fears and insecurities and desires of my heart. I'm celebrating where I am, even though it's not the place I ever wanted to be, because this place is beautiful and it's a place I now truly love. I've grown in this year, in this place and in these roles in ways I never thought possible.

While college, for me, was a time of opening up, finding hope and healing in community, putting down roots, having accountability, learning, seeking and being challenged, this past year has felt like a year of finally blossoming, finally coming alive into the things I'm passionate about and feel called to do. I feel like the truest, most ME version of me there has been yet. Every night, I go to sleep feeling fulfilled, satisfied, content at what I've accomplished, confident that my work mattered and God was glorified through it. I start each day excited about what the hours ahead hold, eager to start creating and making progress and making an impact.

I'm so thankful. I'm so very thankful for the people who have poured into my life since it started. I could spend hours naming and thanking you all and I would still never come close to expressing how much my life and my heart have been changed and touched because you loved me and invested in me. So much of who I am is because of who you were to me, and I'm forever grateful for how the Lord worked through your hands and hugs and hearts and words in my life.

Another year of my life is about to begin, and I'm praying big, bold prayers for it. I can't even imagine how the Lord will blow my mind in the next 365 days. I can't imagine how much I'll grow, what I'll learn, how I'll be challenged, but I know it will be beautiful and glorious and all so very worth it.

Because this birthday can't go by without saying it...I don't know about you, but I'm feelin' 22.