October 15, 2016

October Goals Progress!

I didn't post on Friday, so here's a BONUS post to count towards my challenge haha.

It's pretty much exactly halfway through the month and I never shared my October goals... Oops.  Well, here they are and some of my progress towards some of them.

October Goals

  1. Work: Pick up extra hours.  I'm able to sub a bunch of times over the next couple of weeks!  Success.
  2. Gym: 3-4x/week.  So far, so good...
  3. Stick to dat good food.  This week I didn't go food shopping, so I didn't meal plan well at all.  There's still a couple of weeks to redeem myself.
  4. REALLY apply to [colleges].  I applied to two today! - whew.  Both are online programs in the computer/information science field.
  5. Practice ukulele more.  I've played around a few times, but I haven't learned anything new this month.
  6. Tithe.  I tithed my first paycheck this month, and plan to tithe when I get my next one in a week.
  7. Open a savings account.  Haven't done this yet.
  8. Look for another PT job. (?)  May or may not get on this, depending on how school plans look for next semester.
  9. Be brave and meet someone new.  I don't think I have yet...
  10. Go apple/pumpkin picking.  I've gone apple picking already!  Pumpkins are next.
  11. Paint bedroom/closet doors and trim white.  The side of the doors that face into my room are unpainted!  It bugs me so much.  :P
  12. Watch Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II.  Yes, this made it to my October Goals list because it's been like a month since I watched the other seven movies... I started to watch it but got bored and returned the DVD to the library.
  13. Get on a good sleep schedule.  Hahahhahahahdfsal.dsfalkj
  14. Do 1 unexpected thing that would surprise Past Lauren to hear about.  Well I mean I accepted a very casual sort-of date for the first time in a while.  So.  That would probably have surprised me.  I have Thoughts on dating in general that I'd like to get to in an upcoming post...
  15. Run a 5k.  In two weeks I'll run a 5k!  I am already anxious about it.  I just want to finish in under 50 minutes and with my dignity mostly intact.

Let's see what the rest of the  month brings!

My Week in Pictures

You're going to learn fast that I am a HUGE fan of the sky and take pictures of it often!  This was on Sunday.

I had off from work on Monday due to the holiday, and what a beautiful day it turned out to be.  Here is a picture from my bedroom window of my dog frolicking in the lawn Monday morning!  Instead of working, I went shopping for makeup and stuff, which I haven't done in a looong time.  I got some nice things.

Tuesday was nice too!  I brought out my most oversized of sweaters and took advantage of the (early) golden hour.

That sky.  *__*

A decent manicure for one must be documented.......................

I play the ukulele a little... Here is an artzy pic of my cheapie uke.

On Wednesday I had an awesome run at the gym and that's pretty much it - so here is a tacky post-run selfie.

Oh, and another sunset picture.

On Thursday I went for my first real outdoors run!  Listen, I will argue that it's a lot harder to run outside - I struggle to pace myself the way I can on a treadmill.  But it was a gorgeous day and I was happy with my run.  I'm preparing to run a 5k at the end of the month on this same trail, let's see how that goes....

Later I went to a soccer game.  I'm not a huge fan of soccer lol, but on a brisk fall day, yesss let's sit outside in lawn chairs with blankets and cheer for a game - I won't complain.  Afterwards, a friend brought my sister and I out for coffee... It was a pretty good night!

Here are some foliage pictures from Friday, taken in the town I work in.

Also, I'm practicing my Halloween outfit.  I work on Halloween so I feel like I have to do something! Since I work at a library, I'm thinking 1940s librarian.  I got the vintage makeup and Oxford shoes down, I think, I just gotta learn how to do the victory roll hairstyle and work on an outfit that really makes it obvious that I'm in costume instead of just looking exceptionally dorky....

Just practicing my hand lettering at work today... It was slow!

More sweaterage.  It's totally fall now, I'm not in any kind of denial anymore.

After work today, I drove to the airport to watch the sunset.  One of my favorite places!

Also, tonight's moon is a Hunter's Moon (?) - basically it's huge and really freaked me out for a second when I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I drove home from the airport!  I couldn't get a good picture of it; you can barely see the glow over the trees in the bottom right of this picture:

But it was HUGE and yellow and so awesome.

So that's it!  My week in pictures.  I missed yesterday, oh no!  No big deal; 3 posts in one week is more than I've done in a long time.

October 12, 2016

Alicia Keys and Skydiving

Hello again!

I first want to say that I have changed my blog's address - it's now www.laurenmcroke.blogspot.com.  I think making it my own name reflects how this blog is going to become more of a ~regular thing~ and maybe one day I'll come up with a REALLY GREAT NAME, but this will work for now.  I also changed the title, which is also definitely subject to change again.

I've been watching a couple of episodes of The Voice and noticed how beautifully simple & natural Alicia Keys looks.  I'm totally out of the loop but apparently she recently caused a stir by going makeup free!  She talks about it a little bit starting at 1:32 in the video above.

She says it all very succinctly - better than I can express - but the little message she's sending by going on TV with no makeup really resonates with me.  I didn't start wearing makeup until I was 16, but I quickly became dependent on covering up and painting on my face: when you get used to looking at your face with makeup on, it's difficult to be happy with how you look once the makeup comes off.  A couple of years ago I did a "No-Makeup November" and it really gave me a new perspective on what real beauty is and helped me appreciate the way I "really" look.  Since then, I've definitely reduced the amount of makeup I wear and how often I wear it.  But I never feel "ugly" or like I'm missing something when I don't have makeup on anymore.  I feel like I look like myself!

I think it's cool to see a celebrity showing us what her "real" face looks like.  :)

This is Dodie Clark, my ukulele senpai.  ;)  I saw her and some other YouTubers in concert back in May.  In this video, she talks about her experience skydiving.  Listen, it's hard for me to even hear about someone skydiving, and I don't see myself EVER in a million years doing it.  But that's what Dodie felt like too, and she actually did it!

I think I liked this video because I relate to it so much - her fear of heights, the anxiety she experiences, etc.  And her story-telling is beautiful - I was enthralled from start to finish and felt her emotions along with her.

Finally, something a little weird from PJ Liguori.  If you're like me, if you watch it once you'll watch it a hundred times.

October 10, 2016

Happy Monday! | | Small Plants

Welcome to the first day of my 2-week blogging challenge! Today I have decided to highlight my love for small plants!

I guess I mostly love having plants around because they feel like a little piece of living, breathing nature inside.  I try to vary the look of the plants I have and the type of container I put them in; they all are a little bit different and unique.  I don't know the names of most of them, but that doesn't matter a whole lot to me.  :)

This one on the top shelf of my bookshelf is some type of succulent - I thought it might be aloe but it's more spider-y than the aloe plant I have.  Either way, I've had it since it was a third of the size it is now; it's grown so much since I got it and I've had to re-pot it several times.

 I got these flowers at Shop Rite a couple of weeks ago when I went food shopping... Typical of me to come home with flowers when I all I needed was some veggies and almond milk.  They feel very autumn-y to me and bring some color to my desk!  They're behind the laptop as I type this.  :)

This one is also on my bookshelf obviously.  I used up a very nice soy candle and was left with this gorgeous empty candleholder, so I just put this aloe plant in it!

These lil guys are chilling in a dish because I just watered them (succulents don't need a lot of water, but they need the soil to have a good soaking once in a while).  See how plump the leaves of the front ones are?  They were pretty flat before I watered them, but once there was moisture in the soil, they absorbed it right into their leaves.  Succulents are pretty cool.

I had to take this one from my desk and put it near the window so I could get good enough lighting on it.  This one has also grown significantly since I got it; I re-potted it into this mason jar.

The plants in the tiny pots are in the same containers/soil they came in from Home Depot, but the ones I re-potted have a good draining type of soil, some sand, and gravel.  They all get plenty of sun, and I sometimes move the smaller ones to the windowsill for some extra light.  They're pretty easy to care for, and very forgiving for someone like me.  :)  I don't have a green thumb, but I like doing the research to find out how to care for plants, and I LOVE having greenery around me at all times!

October 9, 2016

"All I can do is run"

Here's my pathetic attempt to make up for missing my first installment of "Food & Fitness Friday."  I guess the point of this segment is to talk about my progress and discoveries as far as health and exercise goes, so that's where I'll start!

This past week I surprised myself: I discovered I can now run for 10 minutes without stopping to walk.  I know that this is not an amazing feat of athleticism, but for me, it's huge!  It was difficult for me to run just 3 minutes when I first started a little over a month ago.  Now that I've more than tripled my running time, I feel confident that I can keep improving my time and distance until I can proudly call myself a "runner!"

Another big milestone for me was running outside in the real world, and not in Planet Fitness on a treadmill.  :)  There are definitely pros and cons to running on a treadmill.

Gym Treadmill Pros:
  • It's easy to keep a consistent pace
  • There is no wind/weather to contend with
  • There are no unforeseen obstacles

Gym Treadmill Cons:
  • It's monotonous
  • I literally feel like a hamster in a wheel
  • Sometimes another person will pick the treadmill right next to me
  • Sometimes that person will run faster than me
  • Sometimes that person will smell weird

I'm used to running on the treadmill now.  I used to get SUPER bored and had to watch YouTube videos for entertainment, but now I just put on a Spotify playlist and play games in my head to stay interested and pushing forward, like "I can keep running til the song ends."

But running outside is so wonderful on a nice day!  The fresh air, sunshine, changing leaves, and birds chirping makes it such a natural experience.  Sadly, as much as I try to simulate running outdoors by adjusting the treadmill incline to 1.5 or 2.0, it's still more tiring, and it's so hard to find the right pace and stay consistent.

I did alright, though.  I was able to do exactly what I've been doing on the treadmill, so I was happy with that.  I'll be running a 5k on the very same road, so it's good to get a feel for it now.

Here's a song by my favorite band that kind of goes along with this post!

4 Blog Posts/Wk. Challenge?

I want to write more.  And I'm encouraged by how my 2-week ~gym challenge~ went.  I'm now beginning week FIVE!  I'm following the "Couch to 5k" running plan, so today I walked five minutes, ran 9 minutes, and walked five minutes.  For a healthy 21 year old, I am way outta shape, but I'm proud of the progress I've made so far.
Anyway, what if I was to do a 2-week blogging challenge?  Maybe on the days that my running plan says "Relax!" I can spend some time writing a blog post for the next two weeks.

I'm partially inspired by Kelli Taylor (her blog is Currently Kelli) and other blogs that I read to do a theme for certain days of the week.  Maybe that would make it slightly less daunting looking ahead at writing eight posts in two weeks. But I have to make them things I'm excited about and that I can see having something to say about every week.

Obviously I'm writing this today, so I guess there will be an extra post this week, but I'm really starting the challenge tomorrow.  I hope this is a successful and fun two weeks of blogging!

October 5, 2016

September: Goals Review & Discoveries

Oh, it' is October.  When did that happen?

I'm honestly always super bummed out by summer turning into fall (as much as I like to think I'm an adaptable, spontaneous person, I've learned I am pretty resistant to change).  To help myself transition, rather than become sad and wish it was still summer, I've learned to embrace the changing of seasons a little better by going into all-out autumn mode once September 22nd arrives!

I pulled out all my sweaters from the top shelf of my closet, sorted through summer clothes and pared down my wardrobe... I added a fun fall twist to my room's decor... I am appreciating the gorgeous foliage while its at its peak autumn colors (upstate NY is the place to be this time of year!)... I'm going to soccer games while it's still nice out... I am partaking in quintessential fall activities, like visiting a pick-your-own orchard, making an apple crisp, and drinking a salted caramel latte.

I'm a low-key fan of autumn now, I guess.  Once I learned to embrace change a little more I found myself a lot happier.

ANYWAY.  September goals.  I had a few of them.  Let's see how I did:

September Goals 2016


  • Pick up more days at work.  I was able to fill in twice for coworkers, but other than that I wasn't able to pick up as many days as I hoped I could.  In the summer we're always switching around and substituting, but now that vacations are over and stuff, I guess we're all settled back into our regular schedules.
  • Save and tithe more/spend less.  This was a HUGE fail.  I spent pretty much as much as I made this month.
  • Take more walks.  I far surpassed my goal here: I joined a gym and have walked/ran on the treadmill at least 3 times a week!  I'm very proud of myself for sticking to it so far.
  • Practice ukulele more. I learned a couple of new Dodie Clark songs and began a little structured practice through the Yousician app.  So this was alright.
  • Finish HTML/CSS course on CodeAcademy. I kind of let this peter out... Not a win.


  • Complete website for my mom's homeschool sports organization.  I canceled this one.
  • Apply for an online college.  I didn't do this.
  • Get involved with a ministry. I tried!  My church announced a need for volunteers in a couple of areas and I made an effort to contact the office so I could get involved, but I haven't gotten a response back.  I hope to follow up soon.
  • Make an appointment for a new fall haircut.  Check!  I like it.
  • Take inventory of fall/winter clothes and go shopping for what I'm missing.  I went through my clothes the first day of fall and switched out seasonal clothing, and found out what I needed.  My list was 1) A high-quality fall jacket, 2) Tall black boots, 3) A couple of pull over sweaters, 4) New slippers.  I got a beautiful burnt sienna-colored fall jacket that I am SO happy with, but other than that the only money I spent on clothes was a few gym outfits and fancy new running shoes.

So I mean, this month went alright I think as far as the goals I set.  But the month was definitely a win in other ways that aren't reflected by this list.

Other September Events/Discoveries


  • I completed my two-week gym/healthy eating challenge!  I loosened up on it a little bit, but I am spending almost nothing on fast food (a couple of iced coffees a week) and I am learning how to meal plan/grocery shop.
  • I tried to be less hermit-y lol: I went to a Labor Day bonfire at my sister's friend's house and had fun playing volleyball and enjoying a little jam session, I went to Community Day in the village I work in (and caught a runaway dog! Exciting times), I went to a couple of soccer games (trying to spend time outside while it's nice out), and I visited my brother at college in PA overnight (an ordeal for me since I am anxious during long car rides due to anxiety BUT it was a good time seeing him).
  • My car broke down a few miles from home... Not fun but an experience I can say I've had.  I am thankful that God gave me peace when it happened and I was just chillin right off the road rather than being an anxious mess.
  • I actually met someone new this month - it's kind of crazy, but in my routine I don't meet a lot of new people, especially people my age.  The fact that I am adding this to a list of Things That Happened shows you how pathetic my social life is.  ;)
  • We put our family dog in a kennel for a few days while we were away visiting my brother at college.  It was traumatizing for her and for us - she is spoiled and it was SO HARD to leave her there.  NEVER AGAIN.


  • Air for Free by Relient K came out this summer, but I only discovered it at the end of August.  Relient K is one of only a couple of artists I am loyal to (I usually appreciate music on a strictly song-by-song basis lol) and I was a little thrown off by their 2013 album Collapsible Lung, so to listen to Air for Free all the way through once... And then again... And then again and again and enjoy it every single time was such a great experience!
  • I also discovered the Christian "WORKOUT" Spotify playlist.  Yaaaasss.

Other Media

  • I watched Stranger Things.  I was a little late to the party by getting into this show a couple of months after it was released on Netflix.  But I am always excited to find a new TV show that I can binge watch.  In fact, I loved it so much that I introduced my family to it, and we've been watching it every night this past week.  We're all hooked.  I especially like it as a way to kind of get into the spooky mood even though I don't celebrate Halloween and I don't watch horror movies - binge watching Stranger Things is as festive as I'll get this month lol.
  • I played Tuber Simulator.  This is PewDiePie's new game and I'm slightly addicted to it right now.  That's a huge feat, since I don't usually care for iPhone games. (Add me if you play too: my username is saxonprotestor)

It's a beautiful day and I'm not trying to waste it indoors, so bye for now...

September 21, 2016

Reaching personal goals! ...And a setback :/

A photo posted by Lauren (@gymprotestor) on
^ Cheeky spon for my health & wellness Instagram account! :) ^

I went to the gym this morning and came back home feeling super pumped.  My personal challenge for September 11th through September 24th is twofold:
  1. Eat healthier (for me, this means passing up on my daily fast food stops & prepping fresh, balanced meals instead, as well as cutting out dairy and sugary drinks)
  2. Go to the gym 10 times
I told myself 2 weeks because that's an amount of time I can handle in my brain.  To stop drinking 2 coffees/lattes a day/eating breakfast sandwiches cold turkey, and to start going to the gym after years of inactivity, is a little intimidating, but I can push myself to try it.

A photo posted by Lauren (@gymprotestor) on

It's been going well! Today is day 11 of my challenge, and I am feeling fantastic.
  • After a few coffee-free days, I've stopped feeling that afternoon caffeine headache and I may have kicked the habit (fingers crossed!).
  • And, after week of delicious salads and sandwiches made with my favorite vegetables, granola bowls with fresh strawberries, and healthy snacks, I don't want to eat a greasy breakfast sandwich anymore.
  • Plus, the routine of going to the gym early in the morning makes me feel so good and energized for the rest of the day, which makes me tired at an appropriate time of the evening -> which makes it easier to fall asleep -> which makes it easier to get up -> which makes it easier to go to the gym early... And so on.

All this and I've had waaaaay fewer ~digestive discomforts~.  Heck yes.

My incentive to do this was, of course, to get into healthier habits and feel really great.  But I also decided my "prize" will be new running shoes when payday comes this Friday.  I didn't want to get ahead of myself and buy the shoes before completing the challenge, buuut I've done really great and I'll be away this weekend... So I wanted to get those shoes today.  I feel like I've earned it.  And my current sneakers are crap. :x

I drove to the gym this morning with no problem, but on my way to the mall a couple of hours later, my car overheated about 7 minutes away from my house.  I don't know what's going to happen or how serious any problems are, but it has thrown a monkey wrench into my week for sure.  It might be expensive (thank God I have saved up an emergency fund).  I'm going to have to mooch a ride to work.  I can't drive myself to the gym.

Fun.  Fun stuff.  But it's just a Thing and it's a Thing I can handle, haha.  Just a pain.

Other than that, I'm happy with my progress and hope this becomes my lifestyle.  It's right now that I should be forming good habits, when I'm young and pliable haha, not when I'm older and it'll be harder.

September 20, 2016

September Goals

I've been keeping track of my monthly goals since the spring.  Some months I have very specific goals, like making certain appointments, while other months I have general goals about improving a skill, etc.  This month I am definitely leaning more towards general goals, since I have a much looser daily schedule.

We're 1/3rd of the way through with September, but I wrote down my goals at the beginning of the month in my journal, so I'm going to transcribe it here for accountability, as well as rate my progress so far.

A picture from a nice night over Labor Day weekend. :)

September Goals 2016


  1. Pick up more days at work.  I almost never turn down a request to fill in for somebody, but I really hope to get more hours this month.
  2. Save and tithe more/spend less.  I spend too much and haven't budgeted my money wisely this whole summer.
  3. Take more walks.  I was aiming for a 30 minute brisk walk every day.  I decided to join the gym last week, so this is going exceedingly well.
  4. Practice ukulele more. Fortunately I LOVE playing ukulele.
  5. Finish HTML/CSS course on CodeAcademy. Almost done with this.


  1. Complete website for my mom's homeschool sports organization.  My plans went wildly awry, so I'm going to cross this off my goals list and not count it at the end of the month.
  2. Apply for an online college.  I'm honestly spent from applying to school this summer and having everything fall through, so I'm procrastinating really bad from this.
  3. Get involved with a ministry. I have volunteered only sporadically the past 3 years since leaving the church I used to be involved in.  I miss being committed to a ministry.  I've contacted my current church to see how I can serve, but I won't check this off until I'm officially committed.
  4. Make an appointment for a new fall haircut.  This was one of my more exciting goals; I stress out about going to hair salons but I looove the feeling of trimmed hair.  I only got an inch or so off I think, and added some layers in the back. So this is definitely done.
  5. Take inventory of fall/winter clothes and go shopping for what I'm missing.  I need a new jacket, but I have a ridiculous abundance of cardigans that will get me through til it gets really cold.  And I already bought new boots at the end of this past winter.  However, last week I found the clearance rack in the athletic department at Target and bought two pairs of leggings, two shirts, two sports bras, and a lot of socks, which I paid for out of the money I had for fall shopping - a good decision, since having fun, comfortable workout clothes makes me feel more confident going to the gym.

I think that's pretty much it.  I decided to challenge myself to two weeks of healthy meals and exercise last Sunday, and I've also been pushing myself to step out of my social comfort zone in various ways, so this list isn't 100% reflective of what I'm accomplishing this month.  But I feel good about this list and about my progress so far.

September 14, 2016

sunshine n rainbowz

To say that my posts are few and far-between would be an understatement... Yikes.  I guess I like just knowing that it's here, though, if I ever want to word vomit somewhere other than people's ears.

Also if you're reading this hey you're probably lost!  Like what are you doing here, I never post, but welcome.  I'm just going to get uncomfortably personal here, you've been warned, lol.

So my last post was 3(!) months ago and some plans have changed since then; I'm not able to go to the school I was planning on attending due to various factors which is.  Fine.  But at first I was like "Really, God?  I go to all the trouble and stress of starting a new educational endeavor and the week before I'm supposed to start everything dissolves?"  I don't understand what I'm supposed to do.  I went full-steam ahead with all green lights and guidance and confirmation and bldlkwjfjkldfst there it goes down the drain, starting from scratch.  And really I'm saying this just to show you that I am making decisions that I don't understand, but that I'm trusting God about.  I look forward to being at a place where I can remember this season and realize "OHHHH that's why that happened!"  Because right now it's more like "Ohhhhhhhh no."

I had PLANS, guys.  I was going to be working part time, going to school full time, busy busy, getting things done, moving on.  But now I'm just working part time.  Leaving me with ample free time to do... What?  I have no idea.  I am trying to fill my days in a God-honoring way.  I'm finding things to do.  But I just feel stuuuuuck as anything and if you could read my mind you'd just see a series of ?????????????????

Bizarre.  Biiiiizarre, going a little crazy.  Honestly I think the biggest reason for the anxiety I feel about how things are going this semester is that I'm embarrassed.  I am so distressed when people ask me "So what do you do?" (meaning, what's your job, what's your major, what productive things do you do with your time?) because in my head I'm like "WELL right now I'm working a couple days at a library, and I'm also constantly depressed!  What about you?" whatever, cool.

Anyway what I've been doing to kind of stave off the feeling of immense purposelessness is to set monthly goals for myself, which is going... well (shockingly).  I've been doing it all summer, since April or May - I've set specific goals about things on my to-do list, as well as more general goals about things I want to improve.

I'm focusing on improving different skills: I play ukulele but I wanna get go0d and hey I have plenty of time to practice, I am relearning HTML/CSS, I am helping make a website for my mom's homeschool sports organization, I am reading a lot, brushing up on Spanish, etc. etc.  AND this month I have committed myself to a 2 week trial of making healthy food choices (I cut out dairy and fast food) and going to the gym (just to walk/jog on the treadmill for like half an hour).  Usually I would make absurdly ambitious goals like "STARTING TOMORROW I AM NEVER EATING BAD FOOD AGAIN AND I WILL GO TO THE GYM EVERY DAY AND RUN FOR FIVE MILES AND WORK OUT" and then fall short and get disappointed and burnt out and fall into bad habits.  So if I can get on the treadmill like every other day and eat mostly healthy for 2 weeks, I don't think I'll get burnt out, I'll probably feel great and want to keep doing it and see what else I can do to make good choices. (The incentive for me to finish this is if I'm happy with how the 2 weeks went, I'll go out after payday and get real running shoes.)
Idk how to end this post.  Haha but yeah that's basically my life right now, good times, lol.

Deep down I'm taking on faith that this is just negative things I'm saying to myself - I know from experience and I know from the Bible that I don't know everything and I am prone to mistakes and things have reason and it's not like God forgot about me even if it feeeeels like that.  When things were going well I accepted the truths in the Scripture and the things God has spoken to me through my life, and now is the time for me to HOLD ON to that and that's faith, that's what faith is I guess.  I think CS Lewis kind of says what I mean in Mere Christianity: "Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

June 11, 2016

June 2016 Life Update

Again, I don't know if I like the idea of writing about *~*~life~*~* so much - it feels too much like a diary, which I prefer to keep private.  I daydream about having a practical niche blog with useful, relevant posts, but maybe that's getting ahead of myself, considering I have no expertise in anything that anyone cares about. :-)  For now I'll keep up my writing flow by just writing what's going on, and seeking that elusive pattern I claim that my life lacks.

I'm still working at the library.  I'm taking on some of the graphic design duties, along with my tasks of writing on the sandwich board and keeping the YA section bulletin board and displays updated.  I think I might be moving away from considering librarianship as a career, but I love my part-time job here.

Yes, I am again reconsidering my college options.  My mind changes twenty times a day.  I graduated with my associate's degree this past winter, took a semester off, and am now moving onto a new school to finish a bachelor's degree.  I was initially very anxious about this - different school, new people, an hour-long commute, no idea what major to choose, trying to balance a class schedule with my work schedule, wondering about financial aid - but God is answering prayers left and right for me as far as this transfer process is going!  It seeeeeems like this fall will really work out.

Sometimes I just wish God would put something on my heart, a clear direction that I know for sure is what I should do - something I'm passionate about, and that other people would be like "Oh hey that actually sounds like a well-thought out plan," and that would really put me somewhere I can be used.  But no, instead I'm taking very tiny steps in no particular direction.  I am trying not to compare myself to others in this area.  Hopefully this meaningless cycle all makes sense one day.

ANYWAY I know this is intensely uninteresting.  Thanks for listening.  Peace out.

June 6, 2016

On Linear Progression, or Lack Thereof

If I could find a way to turn this blog into something with a clear purpose, or if I could discover my niche and stick to that, I promise I would.  But I've been dabbling for years now and a perceptible pattern has yet to develop.  So you get to hear personal junk!  You're welcome.

I think a lot about linear progress and whether or not that term applies to my life.  Similar to my blog, my life either had a pattern - long ago - and has since lost it, or it has never had a pattern at all, and only vaguely represents a semblance of progression.

When I graduated high school, I truly perceived my life to be moving somewhat linearly.  I was checking off the Growing Up To-Do List.  Everything looked like it was going in order, and I felt like I was on my way to becoming a Successful Adult.  My life seemed to have structure, even a plot, the way all good stories do.  But over the fall, a bunch of things quickly began to fall apart one by one, and by the end of 2013, anything I was sure of was suddenly scrambled and turned on its head.

Since then, nothing has fallen into place as easily as it did for the first 18 years of my life.  Anxiety that's been kept at bay for a couple of years has come back hard, and birthdays seem to come faster and faster, life continuing on full speed ahead and leaving me in the lurch.  I wish I could be like, "Hey, this story has a happy ending!  It's just like a movie where everything gets all confused and knotted up in the middle but everything makes sense at the end!"  That's not true, though, yet.  To use some art terminology, the course of my life has become abstracted, and on the worst days, possibly even non-objective.  But order must be coming.  Eventually, something has to click into place.

It's hard to trust God when nothing makes sense, but as confused as I am, I do know He has my life in His hands, and that he sees things from a perspective better than mine.  For now, I'm just doing life one tiny, tiny step at a time and trying not to go crazy from boredom, loneliness, confusion, anxiety, uselessness, and whatever else.  As Anna Duggar said in an interview once, I want to "just do the next right thing. Have the next right response for the next 15 minutes," and stop getting caught up so much in my terrifying perception of how I see the bigger picture right now.

May 31, 2016

May Favorites | Summer Sun Essentials

Nobody asked for this, but it's the last day of May (!) and I had some favorite products this month, so you're welcome, World, for the wisdom I'm about to impart upon you.  YAY.

It's almost summer, so I'm following a theme: these are all products that I relied on while on vacation at the beach to keep my face, skin, and hair happy in the insanely hOt Florida sun.  Each product listed was vital either for 1) using before heading out into the sun, or 2) using after accidentally falling asleep on the beach and ROASTING on the beach.

Okay, I have these products more or less in the order I used them in, so let's dive right into it.  (Click on the names of the products to buy them on Amazon!  You're welcome.)

I discovered BB creams a couple of years ago - it took a little experimenting to find the right BB cream for my skin type/color (pale and kind of oily?), but after trying some different brands and colors, I've found this one works the best for me!  It blends in perfectly and practically disappears once it's set in.  It's perfect for wearing in the sun because besides having an SPF of 21, it provides adequate coverage and is easy to apply evenly!

I'm not big on lip color oops; bUT I tried this on a whim and I actually really liked it?!?  It goes on SO smoothly and the pointy tip is great for accurate lip-stickage, plus it's really soft and silky and has some mad staying power.  For being in the sun, I mightttt suggest putting on a coat of chap stick with SPF as well just in case, but my lips have never burned while using this, plus I feel like a classy vintage model when I wear it.  The ideal summery color.

Now we're getting to the real stuff.  Here's a disclaimer: I bought this sunscreen AFTER my back and arms had basically burned off my first day on the beach.  I had used a "sports" sunscreen in a can and IDK what was really to blame for that horrible burn but I decided to blame the sunscreen and I bought a new one!  SO this is what I used the rest of the week and the parts of me that weren't burned stayed a normal shade of light pale.

I have many praises for this sunscreen (besides the fact that it.. worked). First of all, the texture and feeling of it is so, so nice.  A lot of the time I don't bother with sunscreen because I really, really hate how greasy it feels YUCKGHH but this is so soft and moisturizing and doesn't bother me at all.  ALSO, it smells like the beach, all tropical and relaxing.  Finally, it's sparkly!!  Not in a like a SPARKLY way, but in a ~sparkly~ way, very enjoyable and magical.  If this doesn't sell ya, I don't know what will.

I bought this a while back having no idea what "styling milk" means, but I discovered it is more or less a leave-in conditioner that makes your hair feel so nice, so soft, yesss you will love it.  It smells amazing, does fantastic things to your hair, etc. etc.  I am offended by the feeling of dried, knotted hair that has had the moisture sucked out of it by the ocean and this solved my problem - put some in while your hair is still wet and salty, tousle it a little, there ya go, nice and soft and magical.

So you're on vacation in Florida.  You rubbed the BB cream into your face, applied the red lip balm, put on some sun screen, and conditioned your hair after a swim - but now the day at the beach is over and OH MY GOSH MY SHOULDERS ARE BURNED?!  I swear it takes hours to realize sometimes that there has been a lapse in skin protection.  No worries: if you have a tub, run yourself a cold-ish bath and pour a capful of this baby in.

This was the one good decision I made after burning an entire layer of skin off: in a desperate attempt at relief for my burned back, I ran out to Target and bought some of this and just soaked in the tub for an hour.  It made my poor skin cells sing like a chorus of tiny, sunburned angels (until I had to get out)... It's got aloe, vitamin E, and oats(???) in it for a very soothing, gentle combination.
I tried to recreate the experience in my tub at home, but the stopper is faulty.  BUMMER.

You've removed yourself from your soothing bubble bath and gingerly patted yourself dry... You need moisture badly, but not just any normal moisturizer will do.  This classic after-sun lotion is a life-saver.  Slightly more greasy than I'd like, but that's not what I'm worrying about when my sunburn NEEDS MOISTURE.  Nothing better.

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this post and found it at least somewhat helpful!