Wednesday, December 31, 2014

new year's eve

I've got a half hour, guys.

You deserve so much more than that. But, I would feel wrong if I didn't post something today. What I'm about to write is going to be nonsensical...and random...and probably won't create the point I'm wanting to make. But it's New Years Eve. And I'm emotional. Cuz this time of year really, really gets to me.

Looking back, I couldn't pick a single mood, or word, or feeling for 2014. There were a lot of tangible, fantastic things that happened, like landing an axel, going on first dates, passing skating tests, getting a job. But this year I've also felt lonely. I've fought with my best friends. I've sat on the bathroom floor and cried. I've stared at my phone, waiting for a text back. I've felt lost. I've felt the need to reach out and physically grab people, so they won't leave, but didn't, because that would probably be a bit too weird.

This time of year has always made me sad. Even when I was little, I'd feel off Christmas through New Years. I never really understood why. Wasn't I happy? And blessed? With family, and friends, and food, and presents? Who was I to be unhappy?

But, if 2014 has taught me one thing, it's that even when we're really happy, we can be a little bit sad. And that's okay. In fact, it's necessary.

Because we have to feel sad, to realize how happy we are.
We have to know someone who has less, to realize how much we have.
We have to feel inadequate, to work hard enough to be great.
We have to almost loose someone, to realize how much we want them.
And we have to open ourselves up, sometimes even to the wrong people, to find the good ones.

I have no idea what 2015 is going to be like. For the very first time in my life, I can't guess what I'll be doing this time next year. But I know I want to make it bold. And authentic. And that it will be messy, and possibly heartbreaking, but also probably full of laughs with the best people and roadtrips and the energy that surrounds people who love what they do, and go at life with passion.

I hope you have a great night. I hope you have a great year. I hope you feel smart and wanted and drink really good coffee. I hope you realize what you want, and you create some awesome stuff. I hope you kiss the best dang person on the face of this earth. And I hope you never miss a chance to love someone.

Happy New Year's Eve, guys. xoxo

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Things Cousins Say

Ena, age 4 at the time, goes to a Chinese restaurant with her family. The waiter speaks very broken English, but eventually they order and he walks away.
ENA: That's the problem with these places, they all speak Spanish.

On our Missouri trip last summer, loading up to travel home in my uncle's amazing mini-bus.
ENA: I claim the seat behind the driver!
AJ: But you got it the entire trip out!
ENA: That's why I should have it on the way home.

^Logic only siblings understand.

Also in Missouri, touring the Mark Twain caves:
TOUR GUIDE: (jokingly) It gets pretty tight up ahead, so you might need to push the person in front of you!
ENA: (observing the larger man ahead of us) He's all yours, Lily.

After taking a bath, Abby (6 at the time) runs into her parent's room without any clothes on. 
ABBY: (Looking at herself in the mirror) I'm Bee-Auu-Teee-Fuuuuul!

^No self-esteem issues with that one.

This Thanksgiving:
LILY: Ugh, Beanie, you're so naive! I don't even know what that means but I know it's bad!

On New Year's:
LILY: I owe Ena $5.
ME: Why?
LILY: Because I didn't workout yesterday morning.
ME: So why do you have to pay Ena?
LILY: Because I bet her that I would work out every morning, and if I didn't, I'd pay her five bucks.
ME: And why did you agree to that?

ENA: Lily, I brought you a sweatshirt.
LILY: I've already got one!
ENA: Yeah, well I brought you one that matches.

As our preacher walks up to give the sermon.
JAMES: Not this guy again! Doesn't he ever get tired?

While making no-bake cookies. 
ME: (scooping in the oatmeal).
LILY: You guys should make oatmeal with that sometime.
ME: We do, Lily. It is oatmeal.
LILY: No! That's not oatmeal, it's oats!

*cue long argument where Lily claims that it's oats when it's uncooked, and oatmeal once it is cooked, and I argue that when a recipe calls for oatmeal, you put in uncooked oatmeal, not cooked oatmeal. Dad eventually feeds the argument by googling it.*

Meanwhile, AJ is up in his room, playing video games with friends:

LILY: (loudly in the background) IT'S CALLED OOOOAAAATSSSS!
FRIEND: Um, what was that?
AJ: Lily and Gillian are arguing about oatmeal.

Happy Sunday! xoxo

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Maybe Christmas, Perhaps, Means A Little Bit More

First snow.

Lots of coffee.

One ridiculously rich chocolate chip cookie pie.

Two stents without electricity (but hey, it's back on now).

Several failed Monopoly games. 

Lots of family.

Two movies.

One re-created photo:

And a whole lot of peace, contentment, quiet (and not so quiet....) in rotation the past couple of days. 

And really, who could ask for more?

We get so caught up in the flow of what's trending. We jump from media to media, endlessly scrolling through things we consciously don't care about yet can't pull away from. I recently read this post about using technology to connect. What stood out to me the most was when she said we scroll when we're most seeking to connect.

How sad is that?

We're sitting there, craving the love and support and interaction that only friendship can give, and we fill that void by scrolling. Maybe it's why we stalk our crushes...we want to interact with them, and that's the most painless (and least vulnerable) way to do it. 

My biggest Christmas pet-peeve is this little speech, which I've already received three times from three different family members: "Don't be expecting a lot for Christmas, because we're broke and we can't afford to do much."

This speech annoys me. So. Much. Because really, I do expect a lot for Christmas. I expect my grandma's homemade rolls, and my mum's favorite cookies. I expect get-togethers with family and friends and lots of teasing. I expect embarrassing stories to be told about everyone. I expect people to make the effort, and to hug me when they walk in the door. I expect phone calls from friends and Christmas cards with real notes in them and gifts that people are excited to give, even if it's really small. I expect people to express their love of the family. I expect people to want to be here. 

Nobody has money. I don't have money. I won't be giving any big, fancy gifts. But I have already made my list of things to give out, and I'm really excited to wrap them up. I'm really excited to hang out, and have Christmas music on the radio, and curl up in a cuddle puddle to watch Elf and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

I'm really tired of the commercialization. It's made us treat Christmas as both too big...and too small. We've created a month-long Holiday event so covered in garland and lights that people dread it. At the same time, we've lost sight of the simple things that make Christmas special: the favorite cookies, the movie tradition, the cousins, the traveling to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

Why are we so afraid to live a little bigger?

And dig a little deeper?

To really look inside of ourselves, and with enthusiasm love people? And see the little things? And realize the importance of the big things?

Why can't we skip that one line, Merry Christmas facebook post, and call up our best friend to say it?

Why can't we stop apologizing for not spending a lot of money, and instead find the perfect gift for someone, even if it's super small?

Why can't we go back to handing out the homemade fudge, or that knitted scarf, without feeling like it's 'not good enough'?

Why can't we add a little, personal line to Christmas cards?

Why can't we remember to ask how people are really doing when we see them at the family party?

And why can't we try to keep this going all year?

Happy Weekend! xoxo

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Goal Writing (Oh yeah! And an, um axel!)

Big announcement, you guys:

I landed my axel on Monday!

I also landed it on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Wednesday was a disaster, but oh well. I've got it now, baby!

Those of you who read regularly have probably heard about my axel many times before. Going on three years, this jump has proved just out of my grasp. It had gotten incredibly close this summer, but that was almost more frustrating than it just being a hot mess. I was so, so close. And I just really, really wanted it.

Back when I did regular monthlies, my axel was included in every single 'goals list'. Off the blog, I don't know how many times I've written "Land my axel." It's written on legal pads, actual goal lists, journal entries in several different journals, random sticky notes, and doodled-on receipts.

I've been more than a little obsessive.

I was getting really frustrated, and honestly, sick of them. The same little side hop entry, the same two footed landing. Sometimes, the landing would be closer to one foot, but I'd fall. I didn't like working on them, because I just felt stuck. But at the start of this month, I was talking to my mum and I just said "I've got to do it this month."

Just, do it.

I told my coach, "I want to land my axel this month, and then put it in the Christmas show. I just have to do it this month."

Perhaps this is obvious. But I can't help but be amazed that I said I would do it this month, and it happened. Like, I really did achieve that goal.

Oh my word, guys. I have my axel! I would like to offer myself as proof that, eventually, with enough focus and enough hard work, goals are checked off. Don't doubt yourself, because that's a surefire way to stay stuck forever.

This year, I tried a new goal-writing method. I wasn't satisfied with my "QUICK DO EVERYTHING" life-list, and for whatever reason, a list of monthly goals and objectives just seemed sterile. A couple of months ago I came across an amazing power-point online (which, apparently, I cannot find and can't link to....#bloggerfail), that presented a great way of organizing goals. Long story short:
  • Make 5 goal lists: Lifetime, 10-year, 4-year, 1-year, and a 3-month action plan.
  • Be realistic, but also dream big. He made the awesome comment that your goals should be so big, you only achieve 70% of them. But giving yourself the permission to try, makes you more likely to achieve. 
  • Keep your lists in a visible place, and (here's the key) actively pursue them throughout your daily life (no duh. But really, it's easier said than done). 
Well, I made my lists. And I love them. I feel like my goals are challenging, and leading me in a good direction, but I also feel like I can really make great progress. My goal year goes June-June, which I prefer to January-December, and my 3-month plan ends on December 1. On the first of this month, I sat down and made a 1-month action plan, that highlighted the specific goals in the 3-month plan with action steps I could take every day to get there.

Landing an axel and landing a double (remember the 70% rule!) were on my 3-month plan. So, the specific steps I wrote down in my 1-month action plan were:
  • Re-committing to showing up early to the rink and off-ice jumping.
  • Trying them every single time I hit the ice, even when I was really tired or it wasn't a 'jumping day'. 
  • Extra lessons with my coach.
Then, I wrote down a cheesy mantra that I repeated over and over again:

Fire within me.

And yes, I needed a mantra that was really cliche, and really hustle-y, to get that jump.

I'd been starting to feel really down in the dumps, and frankly, I wasn't very confident in my ability to land it. But, I did try to keep repeating this mantra, and in a cheesy way, I tricked myself into believing it. Gillian, you're good. You're strong. You're dedicated. You've got this. 

You might say that I would have gotten my axel eventually, even without all these 'action plans' and mantras, and you'd probably be right. But, I know being able to focus, and channel my frustration into a fire to get it done, really pushed me. I love writing lists, and goal lists are something I've always tried to work with. But, this is the first system I've felt actually worked. You can bet I'll be updating my lists for the next 3-months.

What system do you use? And does anyone know what Power Point I'm talking about? I'd love to give some credit.

Happy Weekend! xo

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October '14

(Yes, I'm attempting to bring the monthlies back, but with a slightly different format. Rather than strictly on the last day of each month, I'm attempting for a mid-month inspiration filled recap. Also, it will be looser, and not so structured. Don't forget out to try my 'five things to try' list at the end of the post, too, for some things we can try together until the next installment. Drop a line in the comments if you have a good idea!)

Not gonna lie, October's easily my favorite time of year. There's been more than one occasion, while out driving with the cold air and a scarf, that I've simply looked around in awe at all the leaves. There's one stretch of road on the way to the rink that is literally, entirely red. It's amazing. Of course, it's also been raining a lot the past week or so, so most of the leaves are gone and it's starting to look (and feel!) a lot more like November!

Skating's been great! Aside from the setback earlier this week with Novice MIF, things have been good. I skated two hours this morning and spent an hour with my coach, so we discussed the test and regrouped. Basically, I need to be more precise with everything, so this next week I'm really going to go at it and focus on the details. Tonight we're also going down for a whole 2-hour on-ice TOI practice, which I'm excited about because we're going to be working on CE choreography. Oh, and by the way, I am so in love with this whole idea of skating, like, multiple times a day. I feel so professional and dedicated. How did I not discover this sooner?!

I've also gotten more into yoga this month. I found the blog Yoga by Candace, and it's been great for learning new sequences. I've been doing her half hour videos a couple times a week, and my absolute favorite is this Heart Opening Feel Good Yoga flow. I'm also newly obsessed with the Wild Thing pose, and I may or may not do it in the kitchen when my parents are attempting to talk to me and I can't stop moving. Yes, I'm a wonderful daughter.

I also discovered Chobani this month; yes, the greek yogurt that's been popular for years. I'm really late to this party, but let me say, it's DIVINE. Most of the time we just buy the cheaper tubs of Vanilla Greek yogurt, which are lovely, and I mix it with berries and granola. But those little 89 cents containcers? Love them. So far I've only tried Black Cherry, but I want to try Pumpkin before they stop selling it, and someone going through my line at the grocery store I work at bought Grapefruit, and now I'm really curious about it.

Lest you think I've been extremely healthy this month, what with the yoga and greek yogurt and all, don't be fooled. Mum bought me a package of those pumpkin shaped Reese's PB cups, and they are so much BETTER than the regular ones. For one, they're larger and have more peanut butter inside, and I don't really have a second reason but they're better. I'm probably working the day after Halloween so I'm just waiting for all the candy to go on sale, and then I'm coming home with a pack of those and probably the Halloween-themed M&M's.

I've also had extreme cravings for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies, and I think that's going to have to happen tomorrow....

Other than eating and skating and working, I also went to a play this month, went to a Halloween party (where I was Rose the Riveter, duh, why are you even asking?), and planned a teen dance for area Homeschoolers that went SMASHINGLY. And wore my my new favorite scarf on repeat, but obviously, I'm the queen of repeat outfits. I need to do a whole post about this scarf, guys. Hold me accountable.

five things to try

2+ Fun socks (my brother has socks with pictures of breakfast foods on them, and I'm completely jealous. All my fun socks are either Christmasy or dying). 

3+ Black nails. Because it's classier looking than it sounds.

4+ All-purple workout clothes. I need to buy some lilac leggings.

5+ Just being kind, honest, open, and heart-felt with people.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014



Not really sure how to write this.

I tried my Novice Moves in the Field test today. Didn't pass, unfortunately. Only one judge gave me a pass, so not the 2-out-of-3 needed. 

I'm disappointed, but pleased to say I've not been a crying mess all day. This is actually the first test I've ever failed, and you're bound to fail at least one. I'm not going to share my exact scores, but suffice it to say they were awfully close, and I made no big mistakes. So now, it's just a matter of polishing and perfecting and waiting 28 days until I'm eligible to try again. 

Actually, none of the girls testing Novice today passed. Novice is the line between rec-skaters and serious skaters--everyone who passes Novice sticks with it until they pass Junior and Senior, and those that don't pass Novice....well...they don't keep really keep skating. So, the judges get really nit-picky about this test. USFSA has a statistic that says 78% of skaters don't pass Novice on the first try.

Still, I'm (obviously) glad I tried it. That's been my favorite thing about skating so far this season.--I've been doing more and putting myself out there more. It's great to meet other skaters. And skate at other rinks. And feel nerves & butterflies. All the newness has helped me to focus, and who doesn't need more focus?

Anyways, so that's that for today. My mum bought me an egg sandwhich and a pound (not kidding. It literally weighs a pound!!!!) brownie on the way home. I'm taking tomorrow and Friday off, and then getting back into the groove on Saturday.

Happy Wednesday! xo

Thursday, October 16, 2014

To New Skaters

I've noticed lots of new-ish people in my skating world, lately.

And there are things I keep wanting to tell them. Like, sit down creepily close and say in a conspiratorial voice tell them.

In some of them, I see bits of old me. The timid, awkward, too tall and skinny me that wasn't very good at skating and knew it. The me that wanted nothing more but to be good, yet always felt a little stupid.

Old me is really craving this conversation. So, for the bits of her in everyone, here's what I'd say:

I'd say that skating's tough on everybody, and the girl that makes everything look flawless, is the one that's struggle the most. I'd say that falling's the only way to get better, and if you aren't falling every practice, then you're not challenging yourself enough.

I'd say that skating's not just physically tough, but mentally and emotionally tough. I'd tell them that it's a constant inner battle. You've got to show up, and skate your hardest, even when you don't want to. You've got to practice your least favorite things. You've got to suck it up and not be afraid to look like an idiot (and I know that's really, really hard when you're a gangly 13 year-old). You have to conquer your mind before you conquer your body.

I'd say that the only thing pretty about figure skating is the finished product. Everyone's either bled on the ice, or thrown up on the ice, or both. Everyone's stepped on the ice with guards on. You'll never find a weirder smell than sweaty feet + bunga pad + skate boot. And you know when you're spinning super, super fast? Snot flies out of your nose.

I'd tell them to think about skating, and decide where they want to go. Do you want to be  a rec skater, or a figure skater? And if they picked figure skater, I'd tell them to stop treating it like a sport, and instead make it a lifestyle. We don't have a 'season', we skate all year. We don't 'exercise', we train. You're going to say no to hundreds of sleepovers and birthday parties. You're going to say goodbye to sleepy Saturdays for the rest of your life. You'll be nothing but aching legs, and in the winter, it will feel like you're never out of the cold. You'll never get a break, because then you run the risk of loosing everything you've worked hard for, and you can't risk that.

I'd ask them to take a moment, and decide if it's worth it. And if they said yes, I'd hug them on the spot.

Then I'd tell them that they can't eat a doughnut for breakfast every morning. But a hot chocolate on Saturdays after junior coaching for two hours? Go for it.

I'd tell them to start stretching now, because if you're anything like me, it will be years until you could be considered 'flexible'.

I'd say that skating's really expensive, and it only gets worse. I'd say that sometimes, you'll be paying for ice time with quarters from the change jar. You'll wear the same pair of skating leggings for a year longer than you should, because you'd prefer that money to go to your coach, than to your pants.

Then I'd pause for breath (or emphasis. Whichever) and say that you're going to be emotional. You'll have knots in your stomach. You'll have self-doubt, and nothing, nothing, will make you more insecure than the question of whether or not you're 'good enough'. The truth? We're never, ever good enough. We'll always fall. And fail. And skid. And rush our programs. And not remember to keep our head up.

But. I want to see you cry.

No, really. Because no one ever cried about something that didn't matter to them. There will be days where you'll break down and sob in your car, at the kitchen table, or on the phone with your mom. You feel like you've wasted everything, and why do you keep throwing so much at skating when you never get better? You'll ask what the point is. And you'll point out all your shortcomings.

But here's the thing: if you cry about skating, then you've got the gumption to really make something beautiful with it.

Most people won't get it. Your goals will be greeted with a pat on the head and an "Isn't that cute!". But you've got to throw your head back, and believe in yourself, because no one else is going to. You can't wait for people to say "Good idea!", you've just got to go for it. You'll never accomplish a thing if you start doubting yourself. Tell your subconscious to shut up. You're not crazy. You have a chance.

Get up early, write down your goals, eat right, off ice train, and hit the ice with a positive attitude. But most of all, remember to always skate with love. Even on the bad days. And the cold days. And the achy days. Let skating seep into your bones. I truly believe you've got to be it to see it, so don't hold any ounce of your being back.

Remember that goals don't have deadlines. Or, at least, not hard and fast ones. Remember that your goals are not someone else's, so stop the hate, and support each other. And remember that you're not going to be the best. You have no control over that. Instead, focusing on being the most dedicated, the kindest, and the most positive. The one that always gets up, is honest with her coach. and skates with bold authenticity.

So there. If you still want to do this skating thing, you're a very special person.

Take a moment to think about all the things you're good at. And all your potential. And, even if for only a brief second, believe you could reach every single goal you set. And then, go work towards astonishing yourself.

Happy Thursday! xo

Saturday, September 27, 2014

25 Ways To Be (a little more) Fabulous

Hey guys.

First off: apologizes for my sudden blogging disappearance. I know you've heard it all before, and, let's face it, you're probably gonna hear it again in the future, but I got really busy. It's been a big adjustment, this senior year thing. But I've really, really missed our weekend chats. And I really am going to try to be better. Forgive me?

Over here, I've been in a rut. I feel lazy...and sluggish...and just generally lacking in inspiration. And I feel so wretched to pop back on the interwebs to tell you that. Because honestly, life is great. I've got so much to be thankful for, I'm doing new stuff, and I really feel like a new phase of life is opening up at my feet. But getting out of bed in the morning, or just off of facebook, has been embarrassingly hard.

I'm at the point where I really just need to slap myself in the face and pull myself out by my bootstraps. I've been repeating Coco Channel's quote like a mantra, "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous." Hopefully, I can attempt to leave this weekend with a little more fab in my step than I started it with.

So as a reminder to myself, here's a list of 25 ways to be a little more fabulous ('cause let's face it, you're already pretty cool).

01: Make faces at yourself in the mirror while you get ready.
02: Actually do yoga.
03: Make afternoon tea (or coffee!) a thing.
04: Commit to exclusively using colored pens. Purple's my go-to.
05: Throw on a scarf (sweater weather's better weather!).
06: Paint your nails. a $2 bottle of Sinful Colors always makes me happy.
07: Find your personal life mantra. I like "Nothing is ridiculous."
08: Do some goal writing. Like, legit, time sensitive goal writing.
09: Eat a doughnut this week end.
10: Call up that one friend you NEVER talk on the phone with.
11: Watch Seinfeld. 90's TV will always be amazing.
12: Jam out to the Beach Boys WOULDN'T IT BE NICE IF WE WERE OLDER.
13: Poke the cutest guy on your friends list. I dare you.
14: Actually sit down an do your homework. And then share your self-motivation secrets with me.
15: Grab some non-fiction free reading.
16: Compliment someone on a random trait--their voice? Their openness? Try to make it something they haven't heard before.
17: Meet up with your best friend. Because no matter what, it's been too long. I suggest combining this with number 9.
18: Take a look back at yourself from a year ago.
19: Smile at a stranger. And see how weirded out they get.
20: Actually be smart about current events. Know what's going on, have an opinion, and take a stand.
21: Do some tidying. Fold that laundry. How long has it been since you vacuumed?
22: Make a photo wall.
23: Make that healthy food you genuinely love. Lately, I've been obsessing over vanilla yogurt with almond granola, and PB apples are always a favorite.
24: Tackle that inbox. No matter how intimidating.
25: Stick some money in savings. Look at you, being all responsible.

There we go! Let's rock this weekend, and step into Monday a little more sassy, classy, and fab, okay?

Happy Weekend! xo

Saturday, September 6, 2014

There's Nothing Wrong With Rom-Coms

Young Yankee Lady: 60's shift dress mod bouffant bun hair style blogger
Dress: thrifted, Bangle: vintage, Sandals: payless.

You know how women have an over-romanticized view of the world?

One that was born from Disney, fueled by Austen, and now kept alive with a new romantic comedy in theaters every three months?

A viewpoint that is, of course, utterly unrealistic and wrong. One that has set women up for failure because we certainly can't expect guys to ever act in such a sweet, tender way. I mean, no one marries anybody in the matter of a week. We don't go on adventures that lead to meeting The One. And we certainly don't become mortal enemies with someone, only later to fall in love. Right?

Young Yankee Lady: 60's shift dress mod bouffant bun hair style blogger

Ugh. Just stop it, people. 

Seriously, stop. Because in my heart of hearts, I don't think that there's anything wrong with romantic comedies. In fact, I'll go out on a limb right now and say I really, really love them. 

I've got a list of rom-coms (consisting of Crazy, Stupid Love, Mona Lisa Smile, and pretty much any Amy Adams movie...) that I want to watch. You've Got Mail is easily my favorite movie ever (with P&P 1995 coming in as a close second), and I find Leapyear ridiculously cute.

Admittedly, rom-coms aren't the most realistic. We've all been told (many, many times) that life isn't a fairy-tale, and I'm sure we've all got our own real-world experiences to prove that. But what I can't figure out is why 'unrealistic' is synonymous with 'bad' in the rom-com world. I mean, Star Trek's not exactly probable, but it's still widely accepted as a good franchise.

Young Yankee Lady: 60's shift dress mod bouffant bun hair style blogger

Cause here's the thing: rom-coms are classic. The guy gets the girl, they kiss in the rain, and the world is perfect for 2.5 seconds. They have a happy ending, and honestly, after spending two hours watching a movie, I want a happy ending. I want to walk out the theaters feeling mushy, and sweet, and like there's some hope for humanity. I want a heroine that's funny and positive; one I can relate to over wacky things (like Meg Ryan throwing a trench coat over her PJ's). I want a hero that's cute, and sweet, and goes against the age-old proverb that all guys are the same. I want to laugh a little too hard, forget about essays and ice bills, and just watch something fluffy (in the best sense of the word).

So, world, guess what: there's nothing wrong with rom-coms. And yes, I'm probably an idealistic, naive romantic to think so. But maybe, just maybe, we've considered the words 'idealistic' and 'romantic' to be silly for a little too long. It's not 'silly' to hope for the best, or expect love from people, or devote yourself to one singular person. It's not silly to do crazy things for someone, just 'cause you love them (and really, is there a better reason?). And it's not silly to curl up on the couch, tea and Hershey bars in hand, and feel some warm and fuzzy's for approximately 90 minutes.

Nope, nothing wrong with that.

Happy Weekend! xo

Sunday, August 24, 2014


So, I'm a senior this year (ah. Still processing). And, guys, I'm so excited.

I have a really good feeling about this year. Things have lined up rather nicely, and lack of life-updates on the blog has not meant lack of excitement. I've had a lot swimming around my head that I've wanted to tell you guys; I've just been waiting for a coherent thought process to do it. Here goes.

+Remember when I got real about skating? Well, I made that team. Come this September, I'll start weekly practices with Theater on Ice of Boston's junior team, Ovation. I'm really, really happy about this, people. I've wanted to compete with a TOI team since I was 12. And for those of you who've been around and read multiple posts about disney, consider this a MAJOR step in the right direction.

+I've worked a lot this summer. Unfortunately work's been a bit up in the air as of late (loooong story...meriting an entire post!), but things are looking up! I worked 20 hours a week for most of the summer, and I'm hoping to get 10 over the school year.

+I did some major goal writing the other night. I went right down the list with deadlines and dates and everything. I'm going to share that process in another post, but let me say this: it left me completely revved up for life in general.

+I'm going to be testing Novice Moves in the Field soon. I'm ecstatic about this, because if I pass, then I only have two more Moves in the Field tests left! For a girl who's not naturally good at footwork, that's really exciting. And, my axels are getting closer...hopefully I'll land one soon!

+School should go well. It really should. Going through my credits, I've put myself in a good place for a challenging, but not dreadful, senior year. I'm taking French 2, Brit Lit, Personal Finance, Sociology/Psychology, and finishing up Economics and Chem from this summer. I'll probably add in another half year course for the spring semester, but I'm not sure yet.

+There's lots of smalls, too: finding the perfect jeans, organizing my room, discovering coffee shops (and making coffee shop plans with skating friends), gift cards to spend on books, coming up with a life mantra (always wanted one!), and this overwhelming feeling of opportunity.

^^That's why I'm excited for this year. Life ahead just looks like one wide expanse. I have so, so many ideas for what I want to fill that canvas with. I feel a direction. But, for the first time, I don't feel limited. Or like I have to wait. I feel like I can start doing things and moving forward right now.

And it feels awesome, exciting, and completely grown up. But it also feels really scary. I honestly can't tell you what I'll be doing this time next year...and while I suppose we could  call that exhilarating, it's also terrifying. I've had anxiety attacks for the first time ever this summer, as well as bathroom-floor-crying moments. I'm still stressed, especially thinking about getting to Boston, work, testing, balancing school, and whatever it is that happens after graduation. But I also have this amazing feeling that I'm on the edge; that if I stretch a little more and spring a little further I'll topple over onto something really good. I feel like every good idea I've ever had can be put into effect. And I feel like I really could accomplish half the things I've ever wanted to. It's terrifying...but I suppose new things are supposed to be terrifying. You do things before you're ready for them, right?

So that's where I'm at right now! As always, thanks for reading! I can't wait to keep up our weekend chats here on the blog...I've got lots of ideas for posts spinning around! Readers are the best, I've got to tell ya. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

If I've Learned Anything...

We had a pioneer day!! And I wore a dress with chickens on it! #homeschoolmoment
This fall, I'll have officially been homeschooled K-12. And if I've learned anything, it's that...

*Nothing is ridiculous. There are no rules. So create the life you want, and don't hold back.

*Out of all the things you're supposed to be, the most important is being yourself. Bonus points if you can be the type of person who make others feel happy to be themselves.

*The moment you do something outside the norm, you'll get nothing but sideways glances. Don't worry about those. They're given by people so afraid of uniqueness and sweat and victory that they can't imagine purposefully standing out.

*Even homeschoolers can't do it all. Remember how supergirl doesn't actually exist? Well, it applies to homeschoolers, too. Believe it or not, it took me the first two years of highschool to realize that.

*In fact, doing it all is probably the biggest inspiration drain a person could find. 

*If a friendship dies because you don't see each other daily, don't worry. Sad as it sounds, it must not have been that strong a friendship to begin with.

*You're never 'too young'. Push yourself and listen to your gut. Most people could use a lesson in judging based on capability, rather than numbers.

*The most insecure person in the room is almost never the quiet girl, or the nerd, or the genuine weirdo--it will almost always be the loudest, shrillest, cockiest, kid in the room. And no, you don't have to like them. But it's a fact worth keeping in mind next time they're annoying you.

*Coffee really is a gift from God. I tried it in freshman year, drank it sporadically through sophomore year, and became addicted in junior year. I'd be lying if I said it didn't completely change my life.

*Smarts aren't measured by grades, SAT's, or acceptance letters from Ivy League schools. Memorizing can totally get you A's, but it's the ability to discuss, and debate, and explain simply that measures your understanding. I'm not saying cramming doesn't have its place (hello, chemistry...), but if it's something you actually care about--it's worth having a good, working knowledge.

*Family's actually pretty great. Maybe I completely lucked out or something, but I've never gotten the whole MUST COMPLAIN AND PLAN TO MOVE FROM FAMILY thing. Yes, we fight and squabble and I dream of my own apartment. But I still always want to talk to Mum, go on walks with Dad, and watch TV with AJ or the cousins. Family's awesome; it's everyone else who has it wrong.

*Balancing everything and keeping a really rigid schedule is good. But the ability to relax is a virtue.  So I'm really OCD (in case you haven't noticed), but my mum is super laid back. Usually, I'm running around writing goal dates and stressing over to-do lists and worrying that I've somehow failed homeschool if there's lab reports left undone or an extra study sheet I didn't complete. But Mum's always known how to relax. When I was little, she was okay with spending the entire day reading The Lord of the Rings. I learned my multiplication tables with Malted Milk Balls. And even now, she's always game when I suddenly look up from reading Economics and want to discuss the news, or Capitalism, or witticisms about society.

But the number one thing I've learned? Is that homeschooling's awesome. And that awesomeness springs from going against the grain, keeping families close, and making priorities on the individual level. Sometimes I think about what I'd be like if I was a 'normal' student. Honestly, I can never come up with a satisfactory answer. But what I do know, is that homeschooling's played a large, positive role in who I am now.

Bring it on, year 12.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Doing It All

Guess what!

You don't have to be good at everything!!

No, seriously. 

I have a natural penchant for wanting to do everything. And in a way, blogging's intensified it. I'll find a new blogger that I absolutely LOVE...and suddenly I'm whisked away, inspired by her life to completely change mine. 

There's this blogger; I'm sure you've all got your own version of her. The Perfect One. She has a million children, a cute husband, and is insanely fit. She's got the best hair, wears heels in literally every outfit post, cooks, bakes, crafts, gardens. Plus, she runs a pretty successful blog and seems to have endless cash to buy the newest makeup products and clothes.

Honestly, reading her...I get a little bit of the green eyed monster. Why can't I be completely awesome and on top of things??

But here's the thing: Superwoman doesn't actually exist. Technically, there was Supergirl, and there was Wonder Woman, but no actual Superwoman. She literally does not exist.

So we get caught up in the thinking that such a thing is attainable, when it's completely not.

Recently I wrote a post about just being yourself. In it, I mentioned that being your authentic self is about embracing your good points, and your bad points (funny how no one ever talks about that last one).

Part of not being like everyone else is accepting that we will not be perfect. Because if we were perfect, we'd all be boring clones. And nothing interesting would ever happen.

This past year, I made the definite decision that skating was not only what I wanted most, but also something I had to fully commit to. That's meant a lot of things, but mainly facing the fact that I can't do everything. Or at least, not do everything and expect to be good at anything. You have to make two combined decisions: what to do, and what to not do.

That face...
So, in that spirit, here's a list of things that I can't do. Someday I might. But for right now, I'm terrible at these, and am choosing to be okay with that.

1. Knitting. I've been knitting my current scarf for 2 years, with a plain old boring knit stitch. And many mistakes.
2. Sewing. I always end up crying. And with so much anxiety it's stupid.
3. Cooking dinner. I've always wanted to have a day of the week where I cooked dinner. But we don't, because scheduling is a nightmare and I should probably just do schoolwork. Oh, and I can't cook.
4. Have gorgeous handwriting. I'll never be one of those Instagram-ers with witty handwritten quotes on post it notes, that's for sure.
5. Actually have an Instagram. I love the idea of it...but, lack of smartphone=lack of insta-posting=pointless INSTAgram account.
6. Crafting anything. I stink at crafts. Like, legitimately stink at them.
7. Put my hair in a bun with one hair elastic. HOW IS IT DONE? I'll probably never know.
8. Read a book a week. Unfortunately, the time just isn't there (right now).
9. Blog for a living. This is a big one. I've really had to step away from the whole GROW, BLOG, GROW! mindset. Right now, it's not what I need (but hopefully someday!).
10. Go to more estate sales, yard sales, and thrift stores. I'd love to spend weekends just driving around buying junk. :)
11. Make up recipes. Especially baking recipes.
12. Learn to swing dance, and actually go dancing. How awesome would that be?

What's interesting to you, but something you have to say no to right now?

Outfit Details: top //  hand-me-down, pants // old navy, belt // thrifted, bandanna // walmart, flats // payless, sports bra //  kohls.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Finding Focus

Lately, I've found myself just craving focus.

About a month ago, I honestly thought I was going crazy. My head was constantly buzzing. I made lists and then never accomplished anything on them. New thoughts and ideas were fluttering around in my head...but I couldn't do anything with them. I couldn't articulate them, or act on them. I couldn't settle in and work.

It's not the first time it's happened, either. I usually get like that when we're really busy, or I'm coming off of being lazy with no real 'routine'. It's just a result of being bored and being overwhelmed at the same time. While definitely annoying, it's the kind of thing you have to learn to work through. Yes, it might be easier to just curl up and do absolutely nothing....but that's not really going to help. Learning how to deal with this is a constant struggle, but I think I've finally hit on what works for me.

one // Pray. This one's a game changer to me. I sit still and just focus on telling God exactly what the problem is. I talk it out forever, and by the end, I feel such a release. It's not my problem any more. Praying never fails to give me some perspective so I can be okay with what happens next, and just focus on making the most of the situation at hand.

two // Take a walk. I love walks (especially in the fall and winter!). The fresh air and exercise is a great mood booster anyway, but for me, it always seems to stimulate a better attitude in terms of what work I have to do. Walks are a great time to talk yourself through problems, or simply let your mind wander and stop feeling so 'cluttered'.

three // Drive (with no radio). I once heard Glenn Beck say that one of the largest problems in our society is that people are afraid of silence. Our society is over-stimulated...we've got our phones, emails, playlists, texting, all the time. While there's something to be said for multi-tasking, sometimes just turning off the noise and letting our brains think is the better solution. After a twenty minute drive of quiet contemplation, I show up at the rink with a clear mind that's ready to go!

four // Journal. Just write it out!! Getting anything on paper, at the very least, gets it out of your head. Plus, you're more likely to end up with a plan or a new idea, which will let you get back to work even better than you were before.

five // Clean and organize. Most of the time, my mental clutter is the direct result of my physical clutter. Folding laundry, making my bed, or (gasp!!) cleaning off my desk is a gateway for inspiration and motivation. Plus who doesn't love a productive break?!

So there we have it! My five favorite ways to clear my mind and find focus.  As the school year approaches, I know I'll be putting these into play pretty often (and let's be honest, I've really needed them this summer, too!).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

just be you

Lately, I've been thinking back to the importance of just being you.

Just learning to unapologetically, completely, be you. With all your quirks and your weirdness. With all your normalcies. With every last authentic ounce of your being, just be you.

"I have never met someone who is living a bold and successful life--and by successful, I mean prosperous, kind, and in touch with the meaningfulness of what they're doing--who has apologized for being perfectionistic, mercurial, unrelenting, or whatever their slightly controversial hallmark characteristics are.

You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too soft, too loud, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you loose your edge." {pin it here!!}

The one thing that you have that everyone else doesn't, is you. Your voice and stories and personality. Your style. But being you isn't about just embracing your best qualities--it's about embracing your not-so-great qualities, too. The things that society has told us aren't 'right'.

Because really? What is normal?

So speak softly, or talk really loud.
Drink too much coffee, or just drink tea.
Overplan, overanalyze, and overthink.
Or let things go.
Dress up, dress down.
Get up early.
Stay up late.
Work long hours.

Do whatever it takes, whatever works for you, and don't hold back for fear of 'being weird'. Because nothing is ridiculous. Normalcy isn't reality. And there's no point in being anything but bold.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A History of Pretty Dresses

Here, then, is a tribute to all the fancy dresses that have served me well. :)

eighth grade

So 8th grade was my first dance (oh my word SUCH a HOMESCHOOLER). It was the semi-formal at 4-H Teen Conference, and I wore my 'cranberry dress' that I got as a Christmas present. :)

B and I are way too cool for you.

First dance of freshman year was prom! My friend Maggie organized this one as a senior project, and it's still one of the most fun dances I've ever been to! I wore a retro-inspired black dress Mum and Dad gave me for a Christmas present (can you spot a trend? :P).

All the single ladies!!
Back at 4-H Teen Conference, I went a more casual route and wore a strapless eyelet dress I found at a thrift store. While I loved the idea of this dress, it was a bit big, which made for a rather obnoxious night of constantly pulling it up. Never made that mistake again!!


In my sophomore year I went to Atlanta for National 4-H Congress. There were two awesome dances (again, they belong on the list of favorite dances ever!). Only one was formal, and since I had to bring something that could be rolled up in a suitcase, I re-used my black dress from freshman prom!

And none of us were ready for a photo...
Choosing a dress for sophomore prom was...interesting. I planned to make my dress, but after all the frustration of the actual construction, I abandoned the finished project and instead stole a dress from Deanna. We made countless jokes that I looked like Megara from Hercules, and she was Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I totally see it! :)

That summer, at my third TC, I forgave the dress I made (grudgingly, but still) and wore it to the semi. While the dress is far from perfect, I'm still glad I wore it to something.

It was so windy on the boat...almost had a Marilyn Monroe moment!

Seems too soon for a re-cap, but I loved my junior year dress. I bought the Lady Love Song dress from Modcloth when it went on sale in December, and wore it to both prom and TC semi!! Gosh, I love this dress. It's retro yet somehow modern, surprising comfortable, and just a ton of fun.


Since I enjoy over planning things, but only when I can ignore timely things that actually need my attention, I've already thought about next years dress/es.

For prom and TC semi, I've been eyeing the Cumulus Cascade Dress from Modcloth. I love how wonderfully 60's mod it is, and all the lace, but I'm worried a bit about length. It's only 33.5 inches...and I'm we'll have to see.

I'd also like to get a fun dress for my graduation. Still very little idea about what I'd like to do, but hey, at least I know what I want to wear! I love this Lunch with the Ladies Dress from Modcloth (again). The flowers...and the bow...the lovely back...and pockets! Again, though: I'm a little worried about length.

So, there we go! My life of pretty dresses. :) I really do love my clothes...not gonna lie.

PS-Tomorrow I have a tryout for TOI...crossed fingers much appreciated!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

me things

Here's a list of my 'quirks'. Ack, that word.

1.) I spill at least one glass of water, every day. I'm not even kidding! It's a curse!! I'll either be gesturing while talking and whack it off the table, or I'll leave it on the floor and knock it over. Or I'll sit on it, again when I leave it on the floor. Mum doesn't even say anything anymore, she just rolls her eyes. It's expected.

2.) I get obsessive over my pen choice. They have to feel good, write good, and preferably not have black ink. Or red ink. And I don't like neon pink...I had to bring a neon pink pen to lit class, and I worried everyone was making assumptions about my personality based on my ink color choice. Because, let's be honest, that's something I would do.

3.) I'm actually fairly okay with making 'big' decisions...but I can't deal with little ones. This past winter I called Mum to ask her if I should get a coffee, or a hot chocolate. She said "both! Just mix them!" Ah, that woman is brilliant.

4.) I walk like my dad. Look at my dad's footprints in the snow: he walks so his left foot is perfectly straight, but his right foot is always turned out, sometimes so much his footprints make an 'L'. Mine doesn't turn quite that much, BUT they do look very similar. Mum once mistook my boot prints for Dad's, no lie.

5.) I cannot, for the life of me, say y'all. Some people totally pull of saying it, but I can hardly wrap my tongue around it. I also can't say gangster. I'll stick with Wicked, thank you very much.

6.) I'm pretty sure I'm un-diagnosed ADD. *fervent head nodding from all my friends*. Often, the ability to concentrate on a task (especially if the task is at all difficult) is totally lacking. Whoops.

7.) Containers are my friends. When I was younger, I would sort all my toys by type, then put them in labeled shoe boxes, then stack those boxes in my toy box. Now I just make desk organizers and carry multiple wallets at once.

8.) When it doubt, hang it up. I should really take some pictures of my walls to show you guys. One wall is the beginning of a photo collage, the other has sticky notes with specific, organized goals on them. Then I have random papers tacked onto a bulletin board, and another 'dream board', and then I have quotes tacked up on my window frame. I'm obsessed with hanging things up! I cannot stop. 

9.) I have been known to select lipstick color by name. I mean, seriously. Revlon's Gentleman Prefer Pink is my favorite name, but it sadly gets very little use, because it's bubblegum pink.

10.) I have to really love something at a thrift store to buy it if it's more than $3-$5 bucks. It needs to be the type of thing that would haunt my dreams if I didn't get it. Otherwise, it's too expensive!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What Happens in June

June was...crazy. While 'relaxing' isn't exactly the word I'd pick to describe it, it was a nice vacation from the constant chaos of school, skating, and 4-H deadlines. June was all about sleeping a little later, taking a couple of days off from skating without feeling guilty (although, tbh, Icannot wait for Monday so training can get back to normal!), and lots of time with friends!! Sure, I love my to-do lists and being productive...but a carefree June is the absolute best.


The week after Father's Day, our family took off for a week of camping in the mountains. We went up with our friends the M-Fam, a tradition that's been going on so long we can't really remember when it started. I enjoyed looking rockability while mini-gulfing and getting ice cream at an equally-rockability diner:

AJ (the lil' bro), on the other hand, enjoyed being a clown:

I caught up on some summer reading. I'm studying this for tips.Wait, what?

Oh, and gargouilling became the new planking.

So, yup. That happened.

teen conference

After a week at home, AJ and I headed off for NH 4-H Teen Conference. Just some background: TC is the most wonderful time of the year. It's a Sunday-Wednesday of late nights, friends, laughs, inside jokes, all of which ends in a huge emotional puddle. There's workshops, swimming, dances, and lots of 'deep' chats. It's lovely and I wish it never had to end.

TC always reinforces one thing to me: the fact that I have the best friends a girl could hope for. During the school year (and even a lot of the summer!), things get so busy. I think, being homeschooled, you're more likely to have a group of friends with little in common with you. We play different sports, have different interests. We're pursuing different goals, work different summer jobs, and don't always live right down the road from each other. But, that's also what makes our friendships stronger.

We can go a month without seeing each other, and still have no awkwardness. We can go from stupid jokes to deep conversations in 2.5 seconds. We've found the balance between playful banter and always, always having each other's backs. But the absolute best part of our group? The authenticity. You know where you stand. We're honest, we're often blunt, but we love each other.

That's Caleb. We've known each other since we were 6. That's pretty much the case for all of our group--the majority of our lives have been spent around each other. We've quite literally seen each other grow up. And now, as graduation is looming (or for some oldies passed!), there's not a group of people I'd rather go through it with. At the banquet on the last night, sparked by the evening's speaker, we talked about our version of success. And then where we wanted to be in 10 years. Everyone's answers were entirely different. But I love watching everyone pursue their dreams.

Next to Don't Stop Believing, Living on A Prayer is our favorite song. We sing it at every opportunity. And really, that song speaks of everything our group is going through right now. Who knows what the future holds, who knows if what we want now is what will have passed 10 years from now. Frankly, life is scary. I've been getting major anxiety attacks lately about whether or not I'm on the right path. But we've got each other, and that's a lot. 

So, guys: take my hand, and we'll make it--I swear. I'm always here. Thanks for always being there for me.

PS-This happened:

And then this happened:

Yup. S County Boys forever.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to skate. She dreamed of a day when she could skate for money, and never stop doing what she loved. But, often, that day seemed far away.

Then one Sunday, the girl went down to Boston. And they got lost, and drove around the city twice (that's the boring part, though).

Finally, they arrived at a magical place: The Skating Club of Boston. There, they met very nice woman and watched a theater on ice team practice. They talked about skating levels, and Nationals, and Worlds, and the ups and downs and struggles and successes of skating on a senior TOI team.

Once, the girl asked about the Novice level team, because she thought that's where she'd probably end up.

"Oh, you'd be too good for that team." the woman said.

She had never been told that before.

The girl found out there was a workshop in August, and then auditions in September. She looked at the girls during practice and thought, after a bit of learning curve, "I could do this."

On the way home that night, the girl thought about her goals, and dreams, and how skating  was what she loved and all she wanted to do. She thought about all the time she'd spent this last year, and how she hadn't felt that she'd improved. But then she remembered where she was exactly a year ago. She realized she'd had improved--just in small increments, so she'd hardly noticed until it hit her all at once.

The girl thought about trying Novice Moves in the Field in August.

She thought about her better attempts at axels lately.

And she thought about TOI.

And for the first time, she looked to her dreams and said, "I could do this."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pride and Prejudice

I was 10 the first time I watched Pride and Prejudice 1995. My wise mother knew that it was best to start a life long love for Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, and Jane Austen at as early an age as possible.

I loved every second of it. I found it romantic, and funny, and the costumes absolutely amazing. I've turned into the person that re-watches it every year, and seeing I'm 17 now, it's safe to say I could turn down the volume and narrate the entire thing without a slip up.

But here's the embarrassing part: I'd never gotten around to actually reading Pride and Prejudice. 

I know. Go ahead a stone me, I'm ashamed. I've read Jane Austen, and many other classics, before, so it's not about it being 'difficult' or anything. That sort of thing doesn't bother me, and for the record, while Austen's books obviously have depth, they aren't particularly 'difficult'.

I really can't blame it on anything. Except, perhaps, the fact that I knew the story line so well. So little books, so little time; so why not read something I know nothing about?

No matter what the reason was, this spring I got serious and finally read it.

And it was amazing. Duh, you already knew that. This is Jane Austen we're talking about. But coming from the die-hard 1995 mini series fan, I can proudly say that the book still beat the movie, by, like, a million.

While I'm still heartily ashamed over my lack of Austen reading (I'm going to hide that fact from the world, it's so embarrassing. Right after I finish writing about it on the internet, obviously), in some ways I'm happy my first-time came when I'm a little older. Like I said, P&P isn't a difficult book. As far as classics go, there's not much 'deciphering' and the plot is easy to follow. But what is difficult is coming to understand the motivations of each character, their complexities, and the culture of Austen-era society as a whole. Even Mr. Bennet's jokes are often lost on readers who have no desire to understand the characters.

With each watching (and now reading) of P&P, I come away with something I hadn't before. This time, I was struck with Austsen's theme of being in full control of your life.

Most ignorant and unintelligent uninterested readers of Pride and Prejudice come away with the image of lots of women chasing men just because of money. They think the entire book is about 'helpless' women at a time when they could do nothing for themselves.

Seriously? Are we even discussing the same book?

P&P is about the exact opposite of that.

Pride and Prejudice is all about staying in control of your life, and making life decisions that are best for you. It's about caring and thinking about others, but not allowing them to make decisions for you, even if they supposedly have your best interests in mind.

Lizzy, as the heroine, is the prime example of this. Mrs. Bennet believed that marrying Mr. Collins was a wonderful plan. And, as unpopular as it may be, she was right. Mr. Collins would provide a home (through his inheriting Longbourne), as well as security, as no one would turn out his wife's family. The marriage would mean support for Mrs. Bennet and all her daughters, something Mr. Bennet, in all his good humor, 'forgot' to provide for with saving. Logically speaking, marrying Mr. Collins would be a good decision.

But Lizzy knows that she needs more than 'logic'. She knows that being taken care of in a financial sense would mean nothing to her if the man she married literally drove her crazy. Lizzy believes that "nothing but the deepest of love could induce me into matrimony", a thought probably re-inforced by her parents love-less, less-than-perfect marriage. I highly doubt Lizzy is unaware of the security she's depriving her family of when she refuses Mr. Collins--but she knows being married to Mr. Collins would make her too unhappy to justify.

While it's true women of that time couldn't exactly go out and get a job if things got tough, they were still themselves. I think we get trapped believing them totally helpless with no opportunities--and they weren't. They still had brains, and personalities, and had command over their attitudes and decisions. Women who wanted to had full control over their lives; they might have just had to stay more committed to that idea for it to happen. That's probably something women of today could work on, too.

While it's easy to see how Lizzy retains control of her life, we often forgot about another of the books characters that does the very same thing. Charlotte Lucas is just as much her own person as Lizzy, but because she 'settles' for the awful Mr. Collins, we ignore her. We forget that Charlotte's decisions have the same motivations as Lizzy--a keen sense of self, and a sense of what her version of happiness looks like--they just have different outcomes.

Charlotte's situation is very different than Lizzy's. Though there are slights by Mrs. Bennet about the Lucas' doing their own cooking, you're still left with the impression that they're better off than the Bennets. Also, the fact that there are Lucas sons puts the daughters in a better situation. But life as a spinster sister isn't something desirable, and Charlotte chooses to step away from that roll at the first opportunity. Yes, Mr. Collins is awful. But like Jane suggests, we must 'make allowances for differences in taste and temper'.

Mr. Collin's isn't intelligent, witty, or at all exciting. He tops it off with being inept in social situations.

But he is respectable, provides a comfortable home (which isn't too close to Lucas Lodge!), and is naive enough for Charlotte to quietly win her way on most fronts.

Mr. Collins would have been a terrible husband for Lizzy. Lizzy needs an equal match, an intelligent conversationalist, and someone with caring and empathy; but just because he would have suited Lizzy terribly, doesn't mean it was a bad decision for Charlotte to marry him. Charlotte has a different image of happiness, and even a different view on the purpose of marriage. She's content to garden, and have her sitting room, and tend to her poultry--basically, living a largely solitary life, with only minor interruptions from a less-than-perfect husband. Even with his faults, Mr. Collins provides the life Charlotte wants.

Pride and Prejudice, and Austen novels in general, are chock full of heroine's who make their own decisions and stand up for themselves. They aren't afraid to go against the grain, and often against 'logic', to follow a happiness of their own definition. As Austen readers we're used to that from most of her female characters. And when a female character doesn't have those traits--well, it's often written to point out how vital those traits are.

I'd question anyone who says, "P&P is just about a bunch of girls trying to get married", on whether or not they've actually read the book. Or if they bothered to turn on their brain while they read it. Or at the very least, take into account the society and culture that they're reading from. Hello? Anybody listening?

The general thought that P&P is about women desperate for marriage could not be farther from the truth. P&P is about how first impressions are vastly important, but can also sometimes be wrong. It's about how we must write our own definition of happiness, and how we have the duty (not just the right; the duty) to become at least a halfway decent, intelligent, compassionate person. P&P is about not loosing sight of yourself or your standards, and doing what's right, even when it's uncomfortable. Finally, Pride and Prejudice is about having control of your life, and even in the face of opposition, having the power to make your own choices.

Now, read it. I know you'll love it. 

This is a Classics Club post. Be sure to read the rest of them!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

2 Years

I just realized that you have to read this backwards. Brilliant.
Today marks two years since my first-ever post on Young Yankee Lady (which I'm refusing to link to because it was terrible).

Most people write blog-iversary posts and talk about how they 'never imagined what this blog would turn into.' I can't really say that. From the start, I wanted to be a fantastic blogger. I wanted to give people advice and be revered for my constant wit. I went through many phases and many different snobby voices.

But now on the 2 year anniversary, I've got a new and improved Young Yankee Lady to share with you!

You see, I love reading story blogs. I love waking up and reading about how someone spilt coffee on their shirt, and how that led to an amazingly strange turn of events. I like reading about how couples met, or about someones most awkward moment, or about how they finally did something they didn't even think they were capable of. I love reading stories about normal people. It makes me happy, and in a grander sense, it gives me a bit of hope for my own mundane life.

You see, I just like to tell stories. I like to talk about people and the mundane little things that lead to great things. On a daily basis, there are so many random things I want to tell you guys. Funny things, weird things, heartfelt things. And I feel like I've been limiting myself trying to blog about 'how to do whatever'.

I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm not put together, I don't have a grand success story, and I certainly don't have secrets to improving your life. I don't have secrets to improving my life. But what I do have is a voice.

Since the start, I've had the wrong attitude towards blogging. It became something else I had to worry about and plan and get done. I was putting too much energy into something that wasn't part of my goals. I love blogging, I love the outlet, but right now my goals are skating and school. Everything else is extra.

So I've deleted every pin on Pinterest that linked back to this blog. I'm no longer doing link-ups for the sole purpose of leaving my link somewhere. And I'm no longer doing a two-month blog schedule. Right now, I'm just blogging because I want to. I'm going to share more stories, gush more, and vent more. I'm going to post as I have time and just go with it.

So, that's what Young Yankee Lady's working towards. There'll still be book posts, and probably outfit posts--but I'm going about them in a different way. My goal now is to tell stories. And brighten someones day. And let that poor little person who just spilt their lunch wrap all over their lap, and then walked straight into the fridge, know that they aren't alone. Because I might have just done that.

So, here's to two years! Let's meet back up in a year and see where things are, okay? :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Twitterature: The So-Far Edition

Today, I'm linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy (yes, the best blog name ever!!) for Twitterature. The premise is mini book reviews, like those little 120-characters from Twitter. I thought I'd go ahead and do a 'so far' edition, since it's June and the year is officially half over. I'm still not over that.

My goal for this year is to read 30 books, and I'm at 11 so far. Not too shabby, but I'd like to do better. Compared to my reading for last year, though, I'm two books ahead! the Goodreads reading challenge has been my absolute favorite thing lately. It's great motivation, shows me all my books in one place, and tells me how far behind I am (because let's face it....I'm always running behind).

one // The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Lit-class, The Classics Club.

I love Twain's humor, but this was a necessary re-read and therefore I wasn't really into it. While everyone should read this, and I loved being older and picking up on themes I hadn't thought about before, overall I came away just happy to finish it up. An anti-climatic first read, that's for sure.

two // Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence. Five-stars, Biography.

Loved. This. So. Much. It totally converted me to a biography and non-fiction fan. It's a great look at the life of Jane Austen, one that I feel is accurate and warm. You come away with so much respect for her. I love that Spence speculated on areas we simply will never know about, without putting words in her mouth.

three // My Bonny Light Horseman (Bloody Jack #6) by L.A. Meyer. Five-stars, Historical Fiction.

Honestly, each book in this series is the exact some story. She gets separated from her fiance, proves how awesome she is, travels to a new country, almost gets reunited, and then gets taken away again. Every. Single. Time. But I still love them with all my heart, and could read these all day. They're fast and full of adventure. What's not to love?

four // The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1) by James Patterson. Read on audio, Downward Slopes.

Guys, I have absolutely no respect for James Patterson. He is NOT worthy of all the praise he seems to get. While the plot/concept was very interesting, the execution was terrible. I won't be finishing off this series, that's for sure. It was so boring, so obvious, and I couldn't get close to the characters at all.

five // The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerlad. Lit-class, The Classics Club.

It's a sin not to be head-over-heels for this book. So call me a sinner. I loved the thoughts, premise, and general writing style, but I very seldom love a book if I can't love the characters. While this is definitely a good book, and very thought provoking, I wouldn't go out of my way to read it again. At least not anytime soon.

six // The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Lit-class, The Classics Club.

This is a likable book. Not lovable, but definitely likable. Hemingway's style is interesting, and not completely unlike Fitzgerald's, even if Hemingway is less glitzy. For such a short book, there were certainly times where the story just dragged. But there were also several points I enjoyed.

seven // Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. Classy Chick Lit, Five Stars.

This book is the definition of classy chick-lit. Intelligent. Relate-able. And fun. I can't even express how much I loved this book. The premise is what really got me. The feeling that you're running out of time to reach your goals, that you aren't adequate. Those are things that I've been feeling, especially in the last year, and this book gave contentment.

eight // The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. Biography, Downward Slopes.

I got this when our library did a blind date with a book, so I felt obligated to read it. Eh. It started out okay, but by the middle I had totally lost interest. If it wasn't fairly short anyway I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it. Ozma was too scattered. What was supposed to be about her 'father and the books they shared', ended up just a rather mundane biography of her life, with no real point or conclusion.

nine // Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Five-stars, The Classics Club.

How can one review Pride and Prejudice? Honestly, this was my first time reading it, but I've been a die-hard fan of the 1995 movie version since I was 10. The book is EVEN BETTER than that version. I loved everything about this, but my favorite part were the last two chapters. I found them so sweet, and they answered questions I'd always had about 'after the story'.

ten // How to Murder a Millionaire (Blackbird Sisters Mystery #1) by Nancy Martin. Classy chick-lit, Mystery.

This book was so cute! Fast and funny, it's another great classy chick-lit choice. I didn't particularly like the ending (it wrapped up to quickly, and seemed a little forced...), but otherwise this book was great. Great beach reading!

eleven // I Dare You by William H. Danforth. Motivation, Self-Help.

Weird, I know, but I'm kind of in love with the self-help genre. This is classic self-help (if there is such a thing...). Written in the 30's (or 40's?), some of the language/layout is a little hokey, but the message really can't be argued with. It was a re-read for me and the kind of 'you can do it, stop focusing on the obstacles, put forth your best' pep talk I've been craving.

There we have it! 11 books so far! We're leaving for camping on Monday, and I can't wait for the extra reading time. I went to the library yesterday and went on a bit of a spree. :) But enough about me, how's your reading going? Do you have a number goal this year?