Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Senior Updates IV

because cinnamon rolls are the b e s t
Everyone tells you that senior year flies by, but I really underestimated the truth of that statement. This year has gone by so. quickly. I can't believe that in two and a half months, I'll be finished with high school. It's completely surreal, and honestly, I'm trying not to think about it too hard yet.

Life since my last senior update has officially reached the height of insanity. I have never been this busy in my life, but I'm loving all of the various sources of craziness, even if they do leave me exhausted on a semi-regular basis. It's a lot, but I'm just really thankful that my last semester of high school has worked out in such a way that I can do so many things that I love.

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L A T E L Y

I feel like I have SO MANY things to update you guys on! My last Senior Update post was in mid-December, and it's insane how much has happened since then. I really wanted to do an update at the end of January, but I just couldn't get the post written up. So, I'm just going to attempt to summarize everything that's taken place over the last few months, and hope that it comes out semi-coherently. 

January was consumed by prepping for a musical theatre competition. My group competed with the piece You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hansen. I performed in the piece, and also helped to choreograph it. It was such an incredible experience. If you've never heard the song before, you absolutely should go listen to it. It's a really powerful number, and getting to perform that number onstage was something that I'll never forget. Honestly, just getting to be a part of such a moving performance was enough, but what was even more mind blowing was....we took first! I could have cried, I was so happy. My last high school competition could not have possibly been more wonderful.

The same week of the competition, I auditioned for a production of Beauty and the Beast. I told myself going in that there was absolutely no way that I would be cast, that I was just auditioning for the experience. Long story short, I ended up getting a callback, and finding out the next day that I was cast as not only a Silly Girl (dream role!), but a wolf and a napkin as well. Literally three roles that I've always wanted to play in that show. I've actually worked on a production of Beauty and the Beast once before, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to be doing this show again. It's one of my all-time favorites.

The crazy part of joining Beauty and the Beast was that it meant that I'm now in not one, but TWO musicals. At the same time. Running the same month. I've never done this before, and it was probably a terrible decision on my part, seeing as I'm rehearsing roughly 28 hours a week, but it's so much fun. I can't think of a better way to spend my senior spring than surrounding myself with theatre.

Senior spring also means TONS of college stuff. I applied to two colleges, was accepted to both of them, and have made my decision. I'm really happy with it, and I'm excited to see what next semester is like. Now it's just a matter of finalizing a decision on a major and getting used to the fact that I'm almost a college student. What. (!!!!!)

The writing world has been rather bleak, due to the fact that I've been so busy that I've barely slept, much less had a chance to write. I did, however, write a short fiction piece that was a little piece of my soul, and I published it here on the blog. (My first time posting fiction!) If you missed that, you can read it here. ♥

Life is also filled with lots and lots of graduation planning. Let's just say, fine arts kids don't do anything halfway, and I'm pretty pumped.

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G O A L S

I'm trying not to set too many goals for myself, since time is scarce and I don't want to end up beating myself up over not accomplishing everything that I want to. But you all know that I'm way too Type A to not set ANY goals. So I'm aiming for a balance of realistic, yet productive. Let's give this a shot. 

-Journal journal journal. I've been journaling on a semi-consistent basis, but I want to do it even more. I want to be sure that I have all of these memories saved forever.

-Take as many photos as possible. Again with the memory hoarding. I want to record all of the crazy memories of this semester. 

-Stay organized. There are so many things to balance, and I don't want to find myself at the last minute scrambling to get things together. I've really been working to organize everything ahead of time, and I want to continue doing this.

-Find a prom dress! I found one that I really like, but it's a little more expensive than I'd hoped to spend. 

-Get my license. I've been meaning to do it for forever, and it's one of those things that I've just got to get done.

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R E A D

My reading life has been nothing short of horrible, if we're being honest. The craziness of life has completely stolen the little reading time that I had. I've been trying to keep a bit of steady reading in my life by keeping a book with me at all times, so I'll read a chapter in between classes or while waiting for rehearsal to start. It's definitely helping me to continue to read consistently, but goodness, I wish that I had the time to just sit down and devour a book in an afternoon like I used to. Oh well. I haven't read anything lately that I've absolutely loved, so if you happen to have any super solid recommendations, send them my way!

Since my last Senior Update, I've read......

-The Color Project by Sierra Abrams : At some point, I'm going to have to do a whole post on this book. It is an utter masterpiece.

-The Cage-maker by Nicole A. Seitz : An amazingly detailed historical fiction full of mystery, intrigue, and drama. 

-Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis : I'm so glad that I finally read this book. It's so good. Full of so much truth and such brilliant perspectives. I highly recommend taking notes as you read this one- you'll be glad that you did.

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L I S T E N I N G

Truce - Twenty-One Pilots
Atlas: Daughter - Sleeping at Last
You Will Be Found - Dear Evan Hansen
Atlas: Two - Sleeping at Last
So Will I - Hillsong United
Atlas: Taste - Sleeping at Last

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So, how has life been treating you lately? How's your semester going? What exciting things have you been up to? What have you been reading? Listening to? What's the best thing that's happened to you lately? I want to hear all about it. ♥

Monday, February 26, 2018

i hope you dance



you weren't expecting to ever see that handwriting again.

the looping black swirls that look like home, familiar as the way she always bit her lip when she didn't know what to say. the same paper, never purely white. always a hint of yellow to it, as if her letters were as old as her soul.

you never expected to see that handwriting again, but here it was, as real and as tangible as if she were standing right in front of you.

in an instant, you're sitting on the edge of the pier again, the salt air filling your lungs with the freedom of the night. your feet swing above the waves, crashing hard and fast into the wooden supports below. she's trying to keep the wind from blowing her hair into her face as she laughs, saying something that you can't remember anymore. the words don't stick in your brain like the images did.

but now the words are in front of you, stamped on the page, and as much as you want to stuff it into the box tucked under the floorboards, you can't keep your eyes from flying across the yellowed paper. you hop from sentence to sentence, not letting yourself linger on anything for too long.

i don't know if this is your address anymore. part of me hopes that it isn't.

.....

mom still tells me to tell you hello every once in a while. these days, she doesn't remember. it's easier not to keep telling her.

.....

i don't know why i'm writing this.

your eyes freeze on the sentence. you don't know why you're reading this. yet, it draws you in even deeper. you stop hopping from sentence to sentence and let yourself linger, actually absorb that looping handwriting. going back, just for a moment.

i'm sure that you think that i'm mad. you always thought everyone around you was. you never could seem to figure out that you were the only one who was ever really angry. 

well, i'm not.

maybe i should be. maybe it would be easier. but maybe i don't want that, maybe i never wanted that. i never wanted to be angry with you, no matter how many times you seemed to try to stir it out of me. i'm still sorry for that one time that i threw my sister's book at you. i hope the bruise faded eventually.

i hope a lot of things, i guess. i hope that the bruise faded, along with the other ones you had long before i came along. i hope that the knot that always seemed pulled tight around your chest is finally starting to come undone. if we're being honest, i hope that you're still reading this, even if i still don't know if i hope that you get it.

i hope that you finally see some rain in that dried up desert of yours. i hope that you can finally stumble a few steps closer to the sunset you've been chasing for so long. 

i hope you dance.

i hope that the skies open up and the rain pours down and you dance. i hope that you feel the sting of the water hitting your skin and that the bruises start to fade and that you dance until you can't dance any longer. i hope that the music sweeps you up in a song you've never heard before and you dance.

i hope that one day, you think of the girl who took you to the ocean and tried to remind you what it was like to feel alive. 

the salt spray is hitting your face. it burns and you blink and you're back in your kitchen, sitting at the scarred wooden table and staring at the sight of home on the page. 

you slowly push your chair back and stand, still staring down at the table. not sure if you're seeing anything anymore. 

you fold the letter back up into neat little thirds. you count the steps as you climb the stairs to the back bedroom, filled with dust and memories.

the floorboard in the very corner is coated with an even layer of grime and dirt and history. you pry it up with your calloused fingers, lifting out the box from underneath. 

the letter joins the seashell and the battered paperback inside the cool metal box. you close it up and push the floorboard back down before you can give yourself the time to stay.

before you're back on the pier with the girl with the wild hair and the heart filled with hope.



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I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't somewhat terrified to be posting fiction on here for the first time. I wasn't planning to even write this to begin with, but it was one of those things that just kind of...spilled out after I decided to try to write a piece based off of the canvas print. I don't typically write in this POV, but I decided to play around with it, and actually....kind of enjoyed it. So who knows, maybe this will be expanded upon one day. :)

I've always loved the song "I Hope You Dance". So, a few weeks ago, when Jennifer over at Photowall offered to send me a free canvas, and I was searching for the perfect saying to print, this image jumped out at me immediately. Photowall is a Swedish brand that specializes in wall murals, photo wallpapers, and canvas prints. I love this canvas so much! It arrived very quickly, and is super cute. I did struggle a bit with figuring out how to put it together, but I'm also not the best at assembling anything, so I'm pretty sure that was just me. The instructional video was really easy to follow, and I loved the finished result! If you're interested in getting a canvas of your own (which you totally should), you can use the code TotallyGracedCampaign2018 for 20% off of your purchase if you order within the next 30 days. :)

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How's your Monday going, friends? I hope that you dance today. ♥

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Take Care of Yourself When You Hate Self-Care



Self-Care.

These days, "self-care" has become a bit of a buzzword. Everywhere you look on the Internet, you see posts about self-care. And that's fantastic! We could always use a reminder to take better care of ourselves and to do the important things in life, like de-stressing and actually remembering to breathe once in a while. (what no i'm totally not subtweeting myself in this entire freaking post lol what gave you that idea)

But what about those of us who are really really really bad at self-care? 

We know that taking care of ourselves is important. But when I see self-care articles online, I can never bring myself to actually do them. When you're a very Type A person, it's hard to justify taking a break to go have a movie marathon when you know that there are so many other things that need to be done. 

But even past all of the ice cream/bubble bath/movie marathon self-care, I have to admit that I'm really bad at taking care of myself in general. When life gets busy, and there's a ton of things to do, it seems that the first thing that gets thrown out the window is taking care of myself. As in, casually forgetting that eating and sleeping and, y'know, drinking a cup of water every now and then are important.

So, this post is for those of you out there who are in the same boat as I am. Some self-care tips from a self-care hater, if you will. Hopefully they'll be somewhat helpful in aiding you to ease life's craziness, even just a bit. ♥

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1. Remember why it's important. 

If you're anything like me, the thought of self-care immediately seems like a waste of time. After all, there's so many things to do! There are classes to attend and homework assignments to complete and friends to do things for and books to write and dreams to be fulfilled and what is spare time at this point??? But look at it this way- you aren't going to be able to do any of the things that you want or need to do if you don't take care of yourself. You're going to crash eventually, and then it's going to be super problematic. So, in taking the time to take care of yourself, you're actually allowing yourself to be more productive in the long run. 

2. Prepare ahead of time

It's so easy to get insanely busy and just genuinely forget to take care of yourself. I forget to eat all the time- I feel you. So you have to learn to prepare ahead of time. Make sure that if you're going to be out all day, you have a water bottle with you. Don't think you're going to have time to eat? Throw something together the night before, stick it in your purse, and eat it when you can, even if that's just a trail mix or a pack of crackers. Anything is better than nothing, so figure out ways that you can work it in. 

3. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP

I'm pretty sure that this is the most important aspect of taking care of yourself. Please, please, please, make time to sleep. There is literally no way that you're going to be able to function well if you don't sleep. If it's one am and you're still working on something- please, go to sleep. You're not going to be able to do it well when you're exhausted. Force yourself to sleep, and do it tomorrow. I know that it doesn't feel like you'll have enough time, but trust me- you will. Sleep boosts your productivity, will generally make you feel better, and will boost your immune system, helping you to stay healthy through all of the cold and flu season. SLEEP!

4. Set aside a quiet time

When things are crazy, you need a designated time to regroup and just be able to breathe for a few minutes. I like to take half an hour or so at night before I go to bed to organize my planner for the next day, fill out my question a day journal, listen to some chill music, read a few chapters of whatever book I'm currently working through, or maybe jot down a journal entry. Bonus points if you do everything analog. I'm thoroughly convinced that reading or writing in a physical form rather than a digital one is the best form of self-care. 

5. Put a little extra work into your appearance. Or don't. It's up to you. 

If you've been living life in leggings and sweatshirts, take a few minutes to throw on a nicer outfit, and add some eyeliner. On the flip side, if you've been having to get dressed up every day for the past three weeks, give your skin a day to breathe and wear some comfier clothes. It's all up to you. Do whatever is going to make you feel better. 

6. Make a playlist that makes you happy

Take the time to do it once, and it will benefit you for ages to come. Having a playlist of your favorite songs on hand is sure to boost your mood whenever you're having a frustrating day. I have several- an acoustic playlist for when I need to chill out, an energetic playlist for when I need a pump up, and a worship playlist for when I'm not quite sure if I'm going to survive the day. (#keepin'itreal) Sometimes, music is the best medicine.

7. Be intentional with communication

We live in a world where it's easy to do one of two things- be connected to everyone you've ever met 24/7, or to block everyone out completely. Maintain a healthy balance of the two. You need to have people in your life that you can talk to, even when things are crazy. That being said, you don't have to maintain a constant conversation with that girl you met four years ago at summer camp. Be purposeful with who you stay in close contact with, but don't get so busy that you lock people out of your life. Even when things are crazy and you can't hang out with people all the time, make sure that you're still keeping relationships strong and letting people know that you care about them.

8. Move around

Another thing that, if you're anything like me, you're automatically going to say that you don't have time for, but you need to do. Staying active and in shape is important, even when it feels like a massive waste of time. Again, it's one of those things that will ultimately keep you going and make you feel better in the long run, even if it's hard to fit in. You don't have to do some major workout every day of the week, but take a short walk, or do some yoga before you go to bed. Your body will thank you.

9. Find one thing that will make you happy every day

I don't care how tiny this may be. In fact, I personally tend to go for something tiny. My Type A self feels less guilty about it, and I don't have an excuse for not fitting it in. Whether that's adding something that you enjoy to your to-do list, reading a chapter of something you love before bed, or a piece of dark chocolate, add one thing to your day that's going to make you smile, no matter how small it may be.

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So, there you have it. Some practical self-care tips for all of my fellow self-care haters out there. Take care of yourself, okay, love? It's important. You're important. ♥

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

the sun will rise and we will try again

no, i'm not at the beach. just always dreaming of it. 

the sun will rise, and we will try again. 

The first few weeks of 2018 were nothing short of utter chaos. They were messy and full and complicated and frustrating and, quite frankly, exhausting. My mind grew more and more tangled and knotted up, resulting in radio silence here on the blog. It's hard to put out new content when there's such an overload being shoved in your brain that you can't quite organize it all. But at the same time, writing is how I process, so when I can't/don't write, it just seems to make things worse.

There were quite a few moments in the first few weeks of January where I found myself sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, staring at the ground, not quite knowing what to do next. Usually when I get overwhelmed, I feel like I do an okay job of barreling through, but this time around I thought I was going to go crazy. It just felt like one thing after another, an assault of genuine insanity and stress and chaos that didn't seem to have an end in sight.

but the sun will rise, and we will try again. 

Twenty-One Pilots always seems to know what to say. Over and over again, day after day, that line kept popping into my head. The sun will rise, and we will try again. The thing about life is that anything going on can only last for so long. Good or bad, life is a constant cycle of change, and with every new day, there's a new chance for things to look up a bit.

It doesn't always feel that way in the moment, but it's true. Even in the night, there's always the slightest sparkle of a star. There's that moment of falling asleep in the darkness and waking up to the ground covered in freshly fallen snow.

the sun will rise, and we will try again. 

The beginning of the month may have had a bit of a rough start, but goodness gracious, is the sun rising. Even amidst chaos, there are so many blessings, and I think that's the most encouraging part about it. It's crazy to look and see how messy things were a few weeks ago, and then to be able to look the ridiculously amazing things that have happened just in the past week. Life is such a constant ebb and flow, and when you finally find the streams in the desert, it's the most wonderful feeling.

So, I guess that's the point of all of this rambling. Just to remind you that even if things look pretty crappy where you are currently, you're not going to be stuck in that forever. You might be there longer than you'd like, but it will grow you, and you'll come out of it and find yourself somewhere that you never dreamed of making it to. Tomorrow, the sun will rise, and you will try again. And you'll keep trying, every day after that, until you blink and the bright blue of the sky finally breaks through.

The sun's going to keep rising. And we're going to keep trying.

Let's do this, friends. Let's tackle February head on. God's got us. Let's do it.

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I'm hoping that now that I'm back to the blogger world, I'll be back with a bit more consistency. Hopefully in my next post or so, I'll explain exactly WHY life is so crazy right now, but for now I'll just say that I've missed this corner of the internet dearly. How has the year started off for you?? I miss you all so much. Fill me in, huh? ♥