Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Wrapped

I just wanted to get on here and spill some thoughts. 2018 is coming to a close, and I've been thinking about what I want to change for 2019. I got sick right before Christmas, and I'm still getting over it and it's really made me stop and think about what I've been doing with my physical, mental, and emotional health. I've realized that I haven't been taking care of myself. I don't really know how to take care of myself, honestly. But I do know that waking up before 7am to go to work when I felt like absolute crap wasn't smart, but I did it because I felt like I couldn't miss that half day of work. I haven't ever taken a sick day in the year and a half that I've been working there. I've always showed up to work with my cold, but now I'm thinking that it's okay to miss some work.

I've beaten myself up a lot this year because my writing has been at an all time low, I couldn't even read 20 books, which was my Goodreads goal (I read 15), and I haven't really done anything creative. I get up, go to work, do homework, and crash with YouTube or whatever. It's so mindless, and it drives me crazy. But I'm realizing that this is a season in my life. I only have 3 semesters of college left. And it's okay not to have an amazing creative output right now, because honestly, I do work really hard. On the other hand, I do need to learn to relax in a productive way instead of searching for YouTube videos I don't really care about watching. One of my friends suggested writing a small blurb every day to do something creative, and I'm going to try to take that advice.

This new year, I'm going to focus on self-care. I'm going to research ways to improve my physical health: drinking enough water, cleaning up my diet, getting sufficient sleep, and taking care of my skin. I'm going to strive to improve my mental health: setting aside work and school after it's finished, reading more books, listening to more music, and reading my Bible and praying more. I'm going to take care of my emotional health: take walks, sit in pure silence, journal my emotions even when they seem too complicated, acknowledge and process my wounds and ghosts, and finally, learn to love myself in every way possible.

I was trying to put together some highlights of 2018, but honestly this whole year was a blur, and I can barely remember anything. As I looked back at my (very incomplete) list of movies I watched, events I attended, and the little music I discovered, all I can see is the day we lost Jared. There were some good moments this year, but I feel like 2018 was a year of being tired, stressed, and too busy, a year of hurting and grieving over both new and old hurts, and feeling incredibly lost, hopeless, and uncertain. Sounds depressing when you put it like that, but I'm so tired. I'm ready to be intentional with 2019. I'm ready to take care of myself. I'm ready to have a good year.

Best wishes for the new year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

In Memory of Jared Gardner

I haven't shared any of my writing on here in awhile, but I recently wrote a poem for my creative writing class that I thought I'd post. If you've been following my blog, you know that one of my best friends, Jared Gardner, drowned about 5 months ago. If you haven't, you can find my post on grief here. This poem is about losing him, and I hope that it provides comfort and peace to anyone who has lost a loved one. I know it helped me to untangle my own grief. Thank you for reading!

Though no space in my mind does occupy
Our meeting on an unknown season’s day
Still our friendship is rooted deep
Branded on both my heart and soul 
The two rivers of our lives flowed
Into one sea filled with you and me

Memories polished smooth with frequent thought
Sink as stones to the bottom of our sea
Wherein they lie as the foundation 
Upon which we build connection 
Goodbyes were said one day as any other time
Yet like as in summer, sudden storm clouds came

My eyes fell upon the piercing words and 
Tears like raindrops fell on trembling cheeks
Into a river swift Jared had been swept away
Pricks of pain did break the surface of our sea 
From crystal clear to muddy gray did the water change
As waiting agony swirled within

Under boulders was his body found
He no longer swam the river of life 
The waters of our sea did recede
And left the shores bare brown
My lonely river did retreat without 
The echoes of life’s skipping stones

My broken heart drowned in the river
The one unanswered question why
Never hear the laughter bubble up
Never see the ripples ebb and flow
‘Til one day we stand on golden ground
And see the Captain of our sea

Doubts and pain and fears awash
Yet peace attendeth my way
As slowly my river winds
Around the curves and bends
The stones still rest with me
And Jared always will I see

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Having a Nighttime Routine: The Benefits

There's a lot of talk, studies, and articles about how to avoid the harmful effects of technology, how to manage stress, how to improve sleep, and other such life improvement areas. In this same vein, I want to talk about something I've been doing for about two weeks now that I think is beneficial to your well-being: a nighttime routine.

Before this, I never had a routine before bed. I was pretty much on the computer watching YouTube until I decided I should probably go to bed at a time that was later than it should be. First of all, blue light wakes your brain up, so this was not helping me fall asleep and I already have trouble going to sleep quickly. I read that it takes the average person three minutes to fall asleep, but if you're like me, it takes about thirty minutes. But what's wrong with not having a routine? Why should you have one?

I'll break down each component of my own routine and explain what it does and why it benefits you.

The first part of my routine is to exercise. You can find a ton of easy at-home workouts on Pinterest that don't take much time at all. Exercise releases endorphins, and I always feel really good when I break a sweat and breathe hard. Now, the first task in your routine doesn't have to be exercise, but it should be something that takes effort and gets you moving in order to release all the stress of the day.

The second part of my routine is to take a hot shower and then stretch. The shower relaxes your muscles and helps to further de-stress your body. I also put in some earbuds while I stretch. This part unwinds your mind and body and helps stop you from thinking about what you did today and what you have to do tomorrow.

The third part of my routine is to journal and/or read. This part is pure relaxation and relaxation is key for a good night's sleep and maintaining a healthy stress level. Like before, you don't have to do these exact things, but this last part should not be something you do on your phone or computer and it should be something that you really enjoy.

The fourth part of my routine is to turn off the lights, braid my hair, and then pray/talk to God. I'm usually pretty sleepy by this time and so relaxed and thankful for a comfortable bed.

Even just writing out this routine makes me see how good it is for me. A nighttime routine is a source of time management too, since you figure out how long you want to spend doing each thing, and then (for me) when 9pm comes, the electronic devices go away and it makes me go to bed when I need to. Stress can be a tough thing to control, and having a steady and secure routine can eliminate stress. Preparing yourself for rest, the time where your body heals both mentally and physically, is one of the most important things you can do. And in this electronic-driven world, taking a set time to disconnect and focus on your body and mind keeps you from becoming overwhelmed and losing sight of what truly matters in the long run. 

I hope you liked this post! It's a little different than what I normally do, but I have been enjoying my nighttime routine immensely, and I thought I'd share the benefits! 


Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Lilah Music Challenge

What is one song on the radio that annoys you?

     "Old Church Choir" by Zach Williams. Ugh. I don't know what it is exactly that makes me hate this song so much but I turn the radio off every time it comes on.

One song that you love and sing along to every time it comes on the radio?
     Right now, it's "Counting Every Blessing" by Rend Collective. I actually don't think it fits my voice very well, but I love to sing it at the top of my voice.

Favorite and least favorite genre of music?
     Well, it's probably a tie for favorite between EDM and Alternative. As far as least favorite.....well I like most genres, but I don't like screamo or metal. I also don't like funky music.

Last song you listened to?
    "Ships in the Night" by Matt Kearney.

A song you've been listening to a lot?
     "You Are the Reason" by Calum Scott.

Favorite music video?
     I don't really watch music videos.....

Are you listening to music right now?
     Yep. So technically the last song I listened to will change from the time I answered it to when I post this.

Favorite romantic song?
     Seriously? I have to pick just one? I guess I'll go with "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. I know. So cliche.

Last song you cried during?
     Oh gosh.....Probably "See You Again" by Charlie Puth.

Last song that made you laugh?
     I don't think songs really make me laugh, but I'm pretty sure "Deer in the Headlights" by Owl City has made me laugh on occasion.

A song you like in a different language?
     Hmm. "Now We Are Free" from Gladiator has beautiful Hebrew lyrics.

Favorite summer song?
     "Good Time" by Owl City ft. Carly Rae Jepsen

Road trip song?
     Don't have is that a thing?

Put yourself to sleep song?
     "Saturn" by Sleeping at Last.

While you read song?
      I don't listen to music while I read.

While you study song?
     Again, don't listen to music while I study.

Last song on your playlist?
     Well.....I have multiple playlists......

Song that makes you want to dance?
     Pretty much anything by Built by Titan, but specifically "Broken Love" or "Collide".

Power song?
     "Dangerous" by Built by Titan. That was my senior song.

Instrumental song?
     Not sure exactly what this question is asking, but I love "Requiem for a Dream" or "River Flows in You".

A song with a color in it?
      Uh....."Real World" by Owl City. *pats myself on the back for thinking of it*

A song that means a lot to you right now?
     "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" by Danny Gokey & "See You Again" by Charlie Puth because I miss Jared hecka much but one day I will be reunited with him. I love you Jared.

Favorite Disney song?
     "Evermore" by Dan Stevens from Beauty and the Beast.

Favorite Disney princess song?
     "I See the Light" from Tangled or "Let It Go" from Frozen *sue me

Disney song you hate/dislike?
     "You're Welcome" from Moana. UGH.

Favorite Disney soundtrack as a whole?
     I don't listen to enough Disney to have an answer for this one.

Take your favorite season and make a 5 song playlist for it
     My favorite season is spring......and I have no idea how to make a playlist for it.

What are your comfort songs?

  • "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" by Danny Gokey
  • "Hope in Front of Me" by Danny Gokey 
  • "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel Music
  • "It is Well" by Bethel Music
  • "Not Alone" by RED (this is probably #1)
Winter song that is not about Christmas or a typical Christmas song?
     "Peppermint Winter" by Owl City.

A song with food in it?
    "The Other Side" from the Greatest Showman. I live among the swells and we don't pick up peanut shells!!

Music you listen to while you clean your room?
     My Spotify music on shuffle. 

Songs for each of your top two holidays?
     "Mary Did You Know" for Christmas and "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" for Christmas because I don't have a second favorite holiday.

What movie/TV show theme songs can you sing?
     Gilligan's Island, the Brady Bunch.....and I guess that's it.

Song not about relationships, boys, or something super sad or serious?
     "Dragon" by Built by Titan.

A folk tune you like?
     "Danny Boy". I can also sing this one.

Song that always gets stuck in your head?
      "Shut Up and Dance with Me" 

Workout playlist?
     When I worked out, it was pretty much all my rock songs.

Wedding playlist?
     I don't really have a playlist, but one song that I really want in my wedding is "I Get to Love You" by Ruelle. 

Do you have a song that reminds you of your OTPs?
     "All of Me" by Matt Hammitt reminds me of Esterlyn and Hanilov.

A song you feel different about now that you've seen the music video?
    Like I said, I don't really watch music videos. 

A song you would recommend to everyone?
     "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" by Danny Gokey.

A song you don't like telling people about so you can horde it and make it "your song"?
      I don't have one.

A song that makes you want to go out and do something crazy/adventurous?
      "Wake Me Up" by Avicci. 

A song that is super catchy, but you don't like?
     "Paradise" by Britney Spears is a HORRIBLE song but when my cross training coach used to play it, it would get stuck in my head. 

A song you listen to while pretending to listen to someone talk?
     Do people actually do this????

A children's song you like?

A lullaby you would sing to your own children?
     "Deep in the Meadow" from the Hunger Games or "Hush Sweetheart" written by yours truly.

A song that is your theme song?
     I don't have a themes song. 

Favorite book about a musician?
     Well, I've only read one and that was "Unashamed" by Lecrae. 

Favorite music blog?

An unknown/lesser known musician?
     *clears throat* Birdy, Sleeping at Last, Fleurie, Ruelle, Svrcina, Built by Titan, Guy Sebastian......

Favorite radio station?
     Air1 all the way.

What musician do you listen to the most?
     Well, Owl City is the artist that I own the most songs for.

Rihanna or Beyonce?
     Neither, but if I have to choose, Rihanna only because I like her song "Stay"

Last musical you watched?
     The Greatest Showman. *insert heart eyes emoji*

A musical you've never watched but really want to?
     Les Miserables and Dear Evan Hansen

Favorite musical score from a movie that is not a musical?
     The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. 

Last musical you belted around the house?
     The Greatest Showman.

Favorite song from the Greatest Showman soundtrack?
     "This is Me" and "Rewrite the Stars"

Do you have any musical merch?
     I have one Skillet shirt. I really want to get more, but it's so darn expensive!

That was a super long ramble about music......I hope you guys enjoyed it and got a little taste of what my music is like. :D

Sunday, June 17, 2018

What No One Tells You About Grief

In my last post, I mentioned a tragic loss. I've thought about writing this post for awhile, but it never seemed to come to me. A lot of thoughts have gone through my head about it, because grief is a multi-faceted emotion. This might be the most open and vulnerable post I've ever written. I will not advertise it, out of sensitivity to my friend's family and the friends who were closer to him than I was, because in this post I want to be able to say everything that is in my heart. Now, just to make things clear, this post is about my personal experience with grief. Everyone deals with grief differently and I'm not telling you that when you experience grief, you're going to experience everything I'm writing about. But you might. Anyway, here goes.

On May 12, 2018 I came home from the end of the year banquet for my brother's robotics team happy and fresh off having a good time with friends. I was going to text my friend Jared about something that had happened and he was probably going to tease me about it and we would probably text for awhile. Before texting him, I checked a messaging app that me and some other friends have and got this message: "Guys, pray for [his] family. A bunch of friends went hiking today and something happened and Jared was swept down a river. I don't know much, but from what I understand, he hasn't been found yet." It was like my heart stopped. I remember sinking to my knees with my hand pressed over my mouth while tears came to my eyes. I went to my mom semi-composed, but then could barely get the words out. And then the tears came. I cried the whole time my dad prayed for him to be found alive and I cried afterwards. I texted Jared's phone telling him that I was scared and that I wanted him to come home. I had hope that he would be found.

Sunday passed without any news and I spent the whole church service trying to keep the tears in. My jaw ached. I randomly cried throughout the day. On Monday night, Jared's church held a prayer service for him. I could barely sing and I couldn't pray in our small circle. I cried and cried. I wanted Jared back. I still had hope that he would be found alive, but my hope was fading even as I held onto it. The agony continued into the week. It was excruciating to wait without any news. It was agonizing to see the sun sink into the sky and know that the search was being called off and Jared still hadn't been found. Thursday night rolled around and I had been saying that I just wanted Jared to be found. I just wanted to know. My hope was a very, very thin thread.

On May 18, 2018 I clocked out for lunch at work and checked my phone. "I just wanted to let you know they found Jared. He is happily dancing in heaven." Gone was the wish to just know if Jared and alive or dead. It was replaced with simultaneous denial and acceptance. I remember thinking that he couldn't be gone. Jared wasn't dead. He couldn't be. My friend could not be gone. But he was and I knew it. I cried. It took me a long time to say that word out loud. I said it in my head, but it took me a couple days to say "dead" or "died" out loud. I didn't want to make it real. Because Jared couldn't be gone. But he was.

People do talk about denial when they talk about grief, but I feel like it doesn't quite cover it. I denied that Jared was gone, but at the same time, I knew that he was in heaven. It's almost as if you're denying the pain more than the actual fact. My first emotions upon hearing of Jared's passing was that I wanted him back. I knew he was with God and that he was free from all pain, but that didn't matter to me because I wanted him here, with me. I wanted him back so much that I cannot describe the fierceness of the longing. It hurt. I had no words for my pain. I truly had no words. I cried a lot. I cried sporadically and I cried myself to sleep. My heart ached (and still does) for Jared's family. He left five siblings behind as well as his parents. I also knew the friends who were with Jared the day he got swept into the river and my heart broke for them as well.

So, denial is the first thing. A lot of people seem to talk about anger when they talk about grief but I never experienced it. I am not mad at God for taking him. I do remember lying in bed one night and asking God over and over again why He took Jared. Why did God take Jared? I don't understand why. I don't think I ever will. I'm not sure I'd ever be satisfied with the why. As Christians, we do have the comfort of knowing that our loved ones are in heaven and that we will see them again, but that did not satisfy me. I want Jared back. It's incredibly selfish, but it's the truth.

However you lose someone, it's painful. But when you come home one night to hear that your friend is missing, the shock is magnified. You're not supposed to lose a friend at 19. People aren't supposed to get swept into rivers and die. Amazing guys like Jared aren't supposed to leave you. But the truth is, these things do happen. When Jared was missing, I thought was that if he was gone, no one would have gotten a goodbye. I thought that would be the hardest part -that I didn't get to say goodbye. And while the unexpectedness does add to the pain, I realized that it wouldn't have mattered if I'd gotten a goodbye. Because I would have wanted one more. Just one more goodbye. And then another and another. An endless stream of just one more days with him.

People also talk about numbness when they talk about grief. But it's not exactly numbness. It's feeling happy and knowing life is good and not feeling sad and knowing that your friend has died. I felt incredibly guilty when that happened. I felt so awful since I knew the pain his family and close friends must be going through. It felt so wrong to be to be okay -to be happy. Guilt over happiness is something that accompanies grief. And trust me, there will be days, or maybe even a whole week, where you feel absolutely fine. I knew Jared was gone, but I wasn't sad. I was okay.

But that's another thing about grief. It's an undulating thing. There will be those days where you are perfectly happy. And then there will be the days like I've been having recently where I can't even listen to a rapper that Jared introduced me to and we shared a love for because it reminds me too much of him. Days where every little thing reminds me of Jared and where things hurt because Jared won't reach that milestone, or he won't be around for an event. Grief comes and goes. The intense pain comes and goes, but the knowledge that Jared is gone will always be there. And I'm realizing that you have to come to terms that you will be living the rest of your life with an ache in your heart. Some days it will be more present than others, and I'll have good days and bad days. But I'll always miss Jared.

I feel like another people don't talk about when it comes to grief is how they want other people to handle it. For one thing, I really don't like the phrase "I'm sorry for your loss" or "So sorry for your loss". Something about using the word loss bothers me. It's not adequate enough for the hole in my heart. I would rather you just simply say "I'm sorry" or "I'm so sorry". I don't want you to be worried about me. Grief is a powerful emotion and it needs to be felt in order to be healthily dealt with. I might have really dark days and that needs to be okay. I don't blame my family and friends for not understanding. There is no way under the sun, even if you're the most empathetic person in the world, to understand what it's like to lose someone if you haven't lost someone. But strange as it may sound, I appreciate it that people didn't try to understand. Just like I don't pretend to understand the pain of Jared's family. It's okay that you don't understand. I just need you to be there for me. I just need you to let me hurt. I just need you to know when to give me a hug and when to make me laugh and when to give me chocolate and when to distract me.

Because let's face it: my heart is broken. I miss Jared more than anything in the world right now. I miss him so, so much. There aren't enough words to express it. He was amazing and I am proud to have been his friend. It hurts. I miss him. I want him back. What no one tells you about grief is how much it hurts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I've Been Gone

    Well, it's been about four months since I wrote a blog post.....go ahead and slap me. But the truth is, life has been pretty crazy. School and work have sucked a lot of life out of me, and my WIPs have been neglected as well. And two weeks ago, the most tragic loss I've experienced came out of nowhere and slammed me into the ground. I came on here to look at the last post I'd written (Why Do I Blog?) and as soon as I saw the title, I was like, oh man. It was an answer to a question that my recently lost friend had asked me. I want to start blogging again because this loss has caused me to be more determined to fulfill my purpose in writing. There will eventually be a post about this loss, and there will also be an open, honest post about my experience with grief. There will also be fun and light posts and eventually I'll get back in the groove of things. I appreciate everyone who has read my blog, and I thank you for taking the time to read this :) Hope to post again soon!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why Do I Blog?

    Why do you blog? A friend of mine recently asked me this question, and perhaps some of my readers ask this question as well.

     I only recently started reading people's blogs (shortly before I started my own) and until then, I was extremely unfamiliar with the world of blogging. I personally don't think I have the greatest blogger presence, and the graphics of my blog aren't anything worth writing home about either. I also struggle to write posts consistently. So why do I blog?

     I blog for the same reason that I write: to touch people's lives. I blog for the power that words have. I blog because I believe that God can use what I write to transform someone's day, or even someone's life. I blog because I believe that my opinions and advice and maybe even my ramblings are something worth offering to a broken and dying world.

     I think all human beings desire connection, and it's an amazing thing when you connect to the words of a person maybe you haven't even met in real life. It gives us a sense of belonging. It makes us feel like we're understood. Not feeling either of those things is not pleasant, and anything that I can contribute to take away that is my pleasure.

     Now, if I'm being honest, there's also a selfish reason why I blog (the same goes for why I write). I blog to process my thoughts about life and the struggles I'm going through. And even though it's to help me deal with things, I hope that others can draw strength and hope from those posts. When I wrote my post about the challenge of being a Christian with depression, the number of people it encouraged moved me so much.

     Also, I blog simply because it brings me joy to write in any shape or form, and it brings me happiness to share my thoughts with the world and be the light that God calls us to be through my writing.

     My main goal in blogging is to inspire others, to strengthen others, to give hope, to give light, and sometimes to just bring some happiness to someone.

     Thank you to all who read my blog. If you follow my blog, or even if you've just read one of my posts and liked what I had to say, comment and let me know what you would like me to blog about! Your wish is my command ;)