Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Friendship for Grown-Ups: What I Missed and Learned Along the Way by Lisa Whelchel

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Book Description

Former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel shares her experiences of growing up without true friends and how she learned to find and develop them as an adult through God's grace.

Not many people can say they lived their most crucial developmental years on the sound stage of a wildly popular TV show. But that's exactly what happened in Lisa Whelchel's life. As a child, she learned to guard her heart so tightly to avoid true hurt that she found herself unable to form lasting friendships as an adult.

Friendship for Grown-Ups details her experiences of learning to come out of her shell, to trust, risk, and become vulnerable by God's grace and find meaningful friendships. Readers encounter her captivating story and refreshing perspective on life's most precious gift—and they find practical tips for their own friendships along the way.

My review:

Although I’m not quite a grown up, I’ve had my share of both unique, tight friendships and heartbreaking, failed ones. One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was that friendship is tough, and it can change how we interact with people in our daily lives. I was anxious to read Lisa’s book to hear her story. I was very touched by her open heart, but also came away learning more about myself. Through Lisa’s journey, I was able to discover my own strengths, weaknesses, and desires regarding friendship.

In the book, Lisa reveals some of her most genuine, raw moments in her relationship with God, her family, and friends. Chapter after chapter, I found myself laughing, crying, and grabbing a pencil to underline a phrase (or five) that particularly touched me. I loved reading about Lisa’s highs and lows with friendship, and I believe anyone who reads this book can relate to her story one way or another. I could not believe how similar our hearts were, and now know how to deal with certain issues as they arise in my own personal journey.

The biggest lesson I learned from this book may seem quite simple, something I may have learned before…trust God. At 22 years old, with my heart on my sleeve. I’m a person who can be very easily hurt. So, like Lisa, I struggle getting too close to others, and often hide the real me, in fear of people running away. This book reminded me that people come in and out for a reason, and while it may hurt, God knows what He is doing. In addition, the book also taught me strategies for learning how to listen to my heart and be able to share with others not only my struggles, fears, but also my goals and accomplishments.

I enjoyed the entire book from the first line to the last. I was grateful that Lisa included chapter by chapter discussions questions, because that allowed me to dive even further into my personal journey. The book was genuine, inspirational, and emotional. I feel blessed to have read it and to have taken the first baby step in my journey. Thank you, Lisa, for being so incredibly open and gracious and for the gift of this book. It is one I plan on sharing with all the women in my life.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, April 26, 2010


When one of my best friends from college, Jess, went with her dream and moved to Nashville, we were all pretty proud of her. There’s a group of us that hope to someday live in Nashville, Jess was just the first one to take a risk! She lives in between downtown Nashville and Franklin- in a lovely apartment off of Franklin Pike road.

In November, Sam and I started picking weekends to go visit Jess. We decided to knock two birds with one stone and go the weekend of the marathon! So, since November, I have been proudly saving my money for this trip. I only make $100 a month doing this year of volunteer service, so things were tight. I gave up going out to eat and going to the movies, and only purchased things when absolutely necessary. I was still counting pennies and budgeting up until the very moment I left for Nashville. I even turned in my piggy bank- and got $65 back! Anyways, you want to know about the trip.

I was running around like a mad woman at school on Thursday getting ready to leave. As I was walking out the door, a group of students stopped me and begged me to stay. Even though I told them I was only going to be gone a couple of days, they all know I love Nashville, and were concerned I wasn’t coming back…and, since I am in charge of feeding the kids breakfast and lunch every day, one girl’s parting words to me were “WAIT! Who’s going to feed us???”. I left school and ran home to change and grab my last minute things. My neighbor showed up with a package in her hand, and in it was…MELINDA'S BOOK! EEE! I was so ecstatic I wanted to sit down and read it right then…but I already had a late start, so I stuffed it in my purse and was on my way. To get to Sam’s, I have to drive through Kalamazoo…my old college town. I have to say, for as much as I hate college, I found myself a little emotional. I don’t think it’s because I miss it, but it’s because Kalamazoo represents so much. The changes and the growth that I have made, the bad decisions I’ve made, friendships come and gone, boyfriends, sorority, jobs, etc. Those four years were such a rollercoaster and just being back in that town brought on all kinds of anxiety? I drove by my sorority house to find that a frat had moved in, which also made me sad. Goodbye, Delta Gamma.

Anyways…enough nostalgia. I made it to Sam’s, and after a long day of work and driving was pretty tired. We sat and watched some old season 7 episodes of Idol, chatted, and got everything ready to leave. By 10:30, we were both out cold. We planned on leaving by 6 am, but ended up on the road a little closer to 6:30. The trip down there FLEW by. We made it to Nashville by 12:30 their time, which was pretty much perfect. I really enjoyed our trip- we had a little bit of rain, but for the most part it was the easiest trip we’ve ever had. No car problems, no traffic, and, best of all, NO GETTING LOST! We pulled into Jess’ excited and ready to take on Nashville.

Jess gave us a tour of her apartment and then took us down the road to a new local bbq place. I’m not even a big fan of bbq, but my pulled pork sandwich was delicious! We sat out on the patio and caught up for a while, learned all about Jess’ life in Nashville and her goals. By this point, Sam and I were ready to see Nashville, so Jess took us on a driving tour. We saw Martina McBride’s house, Green Hills, Belmont, etc. I think our only comments the entire tour were “it’s so beautiful here” and “when we move here…” and “…is that a tour bus?” I had fallen in love with Nashville all over again within 10 minutes of our tour! By the time we were finished driving around, we had to get back to take showers and get ready to see the backups!

We met Holly, Des, Maria, Lexi and her family at Cantina Laredo. You may recognize it as “the place Melinda gets her apple pie she is always tweeting about”. There is even a picture of it in her book! The restaurant was delicious. Sam and I were big fans of the guacamole, which they made right in front of us at the table! MMM. I had an avocado enchilada. De-lic-ous. It was so good to see everyone and catch up! We talked about Idol a little bit, shared a few stories, and just enjoyed each other’s company. (And yes, Ape, Maria did perform surgery on her food!). Also, I’m sure you are all already aware of this, but Lexi is the most mature 16 year old you will ever come in contact with. She handles every situation with grace, and she’s such a sweetheart!

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Speaking of sweet

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…When it came time for desert, I just had to order apple pie. You guys, Melinda was not kidding. It was incredible apple pie topped with cinnamon ice cream and Carmel sauce. I forced Jess and Sam to eat a few bites of mine, and when I couldn’t eat anymore, I handed my plate on over to Lexi.

After dinner we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Jess continued our driving tour by showing us music row, which was probably a bad idea since Sam and I both practically leaped out of the moving car. It was so cool seeing all the record labels and studios! We saw a guy carrying a guitar and I just shouted “FOLLOW HIM!” We also saw Vanderbilt’s campus, and my dream place of employment, the Vanderbilt Children’s hospital. At one point Jess said “I think that’s a frat house or something…” and as we turned the corner, there was a huge group of college girls dancing on a beer pong table. I think her assumption was correct.

We got back to Jess and although we were tired from traveling and sightseeing, we decided to go out to downtown Nashville. Jess and her roommate took us to their favorite Irish pub downtown. Walking to the pub, though, we passed all the country bars. They were PACKED full and live music was coming from every single one! We made it to our destination and sat on the patio of Bailey’s Irish Pub.

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We had a few drinks; chatted, and headed home around 11- we were TIRED! I think we all fell asleep as soon as we walked in. Woke up around 7 and got ready to go cheer!
I was really nervous about finding the cheering spot, because all I could remember was the 08 marathon when the “cool car” was lost and lost! This year, though, I had Jess, who dropped me off in the perfect spot with absolutely no trouble! I found Holly and Lexi’s family and joined them in cheering on the runners.

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You know, there is something so special about supporting people who are doing something you know is very difficult. Each person that passed us and smiled, let out a WOOO or said “thank you” just touched my heart, because I know that they have a story, and they are running this marathon for a reason. I also have to say that Holly is the BEST cheering companion ever! She really kept me motivated and energized- even through the icky weather. I really don’t think I could have been as cheerful without her. ..and you know, all the cute boys walking by helped too. There was a band right next to our cheering spot who were singing some of my favorite songs! I nearly screamed when they sang “Run To You” by Lady Antebellum.

Lexi came running toward us, and I was so happy to be there to give her a big hug. I love that sweet girl, and her determination and dedication has truly inspired me. She didn’t stop for long, but enough to give hugs and snap a few pictures. After Lexi came by the skies started getting a little darker, but that didn’t stop Holly and I! We screamed for everyone that went by. Even though I didn’t have the banana this year, it was still fun.

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Sam and Jess came back JUST IN TIME for Maria and Des. Maria came walking up to us and I practically jumped on her. She waited for Des, who had gone to the bathroom, and as Des came up to us she immediately sat on the curb- the weather was making her hands and feet swell up :( We took a few pictures of them and encouraged them before they were off for the 2nd half.

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Jess, Sam, and I headed to the car, and as soon as we did, the storm started. We all crawled onto different couches in Jess’ apartment and took naps.
We woke up around 12:30 and decided to get ready and “screw that rain right back”. We went downtown and walked the main strip to see all the shops…and by the way, not ONLY are the bars packed at night, but also in the middle of the afternoon! How awesome. Downtown was fun…we took lots of touristy pictures.

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AND…” DANNY GOKEY BABIES” has become my new go to frustration phrase when it’s not appropriate to cuss, so I had been saying it a lot lately..And we ran into his poster on the streets!

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After downtown, I asked Jess to take us to the Grand Ole Opry. I’ve always wanted to see it…it’s gorgeous!

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Then, Jess had really wanted to go to the Franklin festival…so we made our way to Franklin…only to find that the festival had been closed due to the rain. I was glad to see downtown Franklin though, it’s such a cute area! Nashville is just full of surprises. From downtown to the outskirts, there’s so much cool stuff! As we were walking, I looked to my right and see a collage of pictures in the window of a cupcake store. I was all “hey, that girl looks like Jordin!” so I walk closer…and next to Jordin is Melinda! ::laugh:: It was the cupcakes they used for the Dove awards.

By this point, the weather was very…iffy. It would be sunny one minute and pouring the next…so we decided to grab dinner and then head home for the night. Well, as we’re driving, we see this HUGE bridge coming up ahead…

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So we start having a conversation about how big it is and how it looks like it’s not even made for cars. Jess says “Yeah, I think it’s famous or something…hey, why is my GPS taking us up this huge hill?” we laugh and keep talking about how the GPS is taking us to the mountains…when suddenly, we see the bridge. “Um..we’re going on the bridge”. This is what happened next:

WHEW! We made it! As soon as we were off, Jess says “someone could so easily die off that thing!”. You guys probably can’t tell, but this bridge had practically no barricade.

Anyways, we made it to our dinner location, which was Loveless, a famous tourist spot known for its biscuits and southern cookin. MMM, it was delicious, but way too much food. I’m not used to southern food! We left and headed home. We had anticipated going out again, to a bar on music row, but we were all so exhausted from the long day that we fell asleep by 11:00.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 6:30 am and did NOT fall back asleep. I had a very emotionally draining dream and just wanted to talk to Sam about it, but she was still sleeping, so I just kept going over and over it in my mind. When she woke up, we went and sat on Jess’ patio and enjoyed the sunshine for the first time all weekend. When Jess woke up she joined us and then we got ready for breakfast with Melinda and the backups!

When we arrived at J. Christopher’s, we stood outside to wait for the rest of our party. We chatted with Lexi and her family for a bit and then saw Kelley, Maria, and Des. Holly showed up a few minutes later. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen Kelley, so I was ecstatic. We all chatted about how our weekends were going and Kelley said that Melinda was running late for the first time in her life. So we just stood outside and waited for our table to be ready and for Melinda to arrive. I turned around at one point and saw Melinda walking toward us. She waved all excited and skipped over to hug us. As soon as she got there, our table was ready. I think she planned that. :rofl

I ended up sitting directly across from Melinda, which I am very grateful for since I have not seen her in a year. I looked up from the menu and she was waving at me. :rofl I don’t know how long she had been doing it, but I just said “HI!” and we talked about how long it’s been, and a little about how my year is going (but that conversation could take days, so I just summed it up by telling her I was loving life). In order to try and remember everything that she and I talked about during breakfast, I’ll use bullet points..because I don’t remember what order everything was in.

-She had just done an event for a corporate office, and said that those are the hardest shows to do. They had taken a tour bus there and back, Melinda slept through the storms.

-Kelley had “For Once In My Life” stuck in her head so Melinda asked me to sing a new song, but it couldn’t be one that she had ever sung before. Before I could open my mouth she gave Kelley the cue for a Ting Tings song.

-She ate at Paula Deen’s restaurant and LOVED it! She just kept naming all the food she had... “AND THE GREEN BEANS!”

-She gave out little cards for everyone, even Sam and Jess. She passed all of them out and then looked up at me with this look of pure horror and then started frantically looking around the table. I knew what she was thinking, so I assured her “you got everyone!” She breathed a huge sigh of relief and said “thank you! I’m like...who did I forget…then realized it was Kelley!” Lexi’s great grandma overheard this and tried to give Kelley her card. Melinda was like “no, she doesn’t need one!” It was cute!

-The phone call for Gem is coming soon. I gave them some tips on a “good” time to call her. :lolsign

-I gave her a letter that my student had written her. She took it to keep, so I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it was something like “Miss Carolin told me she knew you and I screamed! I don’t watch American Idol anymore because you were voted off. You seem so sweet and inspirational. Please write back!”. So Melinda signed a mini picture for her.

-The manager of the restaurant kept coming over to make conversation…which yeah, was nice the first time, but after the 4th of 5th it just got annoying. Kelley was pretty funny with her under the breath comments.

-Melinda asked me if I wore the banana, and when I said no, she seemed relieved. I think I embarrassed her the first year. I told her that it would have been bad anyways because of the rain, and we had a little joke about that. Don’t think I forgot that, Mama.

-When we were waiting for our food (which was delicious, by the way), Melinda would say “hungee!” It was so cute…then her food came and she looked like a kid in a candy store, clapping her hands and saying “OOOH!” Adorable.

-After breakfast, we went outside to take pictures and for Melinda to sign our books. We took turns taking individual pictures with her and then a few group shots.

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-After pictures, I asked her about her Idol favorites. This is what she had to say:
-She loves Lee and has a small crush on him. (Who doesn’t?)
-She really likes Crystal but feels as though Crystal is having her own party and Melinda isn’t invited.
-She thinks Big Mike has a gorgeous voice. (Maria, don’t you say anything.)
-Says Casey is good but reminds her so much of Bucky and she can’t get past that.
-Siobhan has an AMAZING voice but doesn’t know what to do with it, but if she did, she’d be beating Crystal into the ground.
-Aaron Kelley reminds her of David Archuleta. Sam did NOT like that, LOL. Melinda was like “No! I mean, David is light-years ahead of Aaron vocal wise, they are both just young and cute.” Kelley said “are you in love with David Archuleta” and Melinda totally called Sam out by saying “just a little. You should read her tweets!” LOL. One of the best parts of the weekend. It’s okay, Sam, Melinda has called me out, too. (Maria…shh).

-Melinda said she was having a staycation this week. Everyone kind of looked at her funny, but I knew exactly what that meant so I said “it means she’s staying in Nashville but not doing anything, so she gets a little vacation”. Melinda needs a break, and has a busy May coming up…so if you don’t see her on twitter very much, that’s why!

-She hugged every single one of us goodbye with her famous Melinda hugs. When she got to me, she told me “don’t let those kids wear you down, it sounds like they are giving you a run for your money”. I agreed and said it was draining, but that I loved it. She said “it sounds like it’s the parents, most of the time!”. So clearly, she’s been reading my tweets. She also said “you tell them if they are mean to you or wear you down I’m coming after them…no seriously, tell them. You tell them.”….and then she put her arm around me and said to the group “sometimes I worry about this girl because of the things she says about her kids!” I worry about myself, lol, but I seriously am loving life. I appreciate the support, though :)

Melinda left and then it was time to say goodbye to all the backups. I hate that part :(. It’s always so good to see them, but way too short. Maria, Des, and Holly have all been amazing friends to me and a wonderful support during the rough times. Lexi is one of my biggest inspirations…so it was very bittersweet leaving them, and not knowing when I’ll see them again. I love you guys so much and am blessed to have you in my life! Thank you for a wonderful weekend!

Sam and I said goodbye to Jess, which was also sad. I’m so proud of her for following her dreams and hope that I can be that brave when the time comes. We hopped in the car and started our journey home. Everything was fine until we hit Louisville, when the rain started….and didn’t stop. It made the trip much more difficult. I was extremely tired from the lack of sleep, plus just the anxiety and nerves from the weekend. We stopped in Indy and were able to see my brother and future sister in law, which was good. We spent the majority of the trip screaming to Kelly Clarkson and Jordin Sparks songs, which, might I add, is rather difficult. By the time we got home I had no voice left...but we still had fun, despite the rain and exhaustion. I love road trips with my bff!

Oh, funny story. At one point, Melinda’s cover of “How Come You Don’t Call Me” came on…it was getting toward the end of the song when Melinda gets extra soulful and bluesy, and we were also coming up to a red light. Well, Sam got so into the song that she lets out this HUGE “GOOOOOOO MEEELINDAAA” with a little arm movement. Instead of reacting to her hilarious gesture, I just said “are you gonna stop?”. LOL.

Today I left Sam’s around 10:30 to head back to Detroit. I was tired, but actually had nice weather for the first time all weekend, so I enjoyed the ride home. I came home and crawled into bed for a few hours, and then caught up with all my roomies.

Overall, the weekend was amazing. The weather could have been a little better, but I had a great time and won’t forget some of the inside jokes with Sam and Jess, conversations with backups, cheering with Holly, and sitting across from Melinda. I came back from this trip feeling refreshed and motivated. I am READY to take on whatever is thrown at me during these last few months.

I wish you all could have been there, but trust me, you were there in spirit. I felt your presence! The backups bond is very strong!

Okay. I think I'm finished now...except that I forgot to add at one point I ate RED VELVET CAKE ICE CREAM. MMMMM. It made me think of Chikezie and Vegas, which made me think of Val. I love my twinnie!

Okay, NOW I'm done.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This week, we celebrate National Volunteers Week. What does that mean, exactly? Well, several organizations take time to recognize volunteers and their efforts. Several dinners and award ceremonies are held across the nation. For any other person, though, this means...recognizing you have the ability to make a change in someones life. Set aside a couple of hours to volunteer somewhere in your community, or make a longer commitment to your favorite organization. There are so many opportunities out there for us to make a difference. If you start this week, chances are you'll keep going. I know I probably seem cheesy or unrealistic, but I firmly believe that happiness and helping others is the way to make this world better. So many of us sit back and think "well, I'd like to help, but...". No more buts. Get up and do something.

Try checking out these websites for your local volunteer opportunities: Offers a database that allows nonprofits to list their volunteer opportunities throughout the world. Organizations across the US and internationally may post opportunities as a local volunteer, virtual volunteer, short term missionary, or intern. The largest volunteer match/database site.

Or, volunteer at some of these organizations.

-Big Brothers Big Sisters, if you're looking for a longer commitment. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. I am passionate about mentoring and motivating youth, especially since I work with them every day and see how easily heart broken and hurt they can be. When kids have a mentor, their lives will be better. Period. Go to to search for your local branch and become a big brother or big sister today. You can volunteer at various events that they hold.

-Habitat for Humanity. A Christian ministry that helps provide housing for families and individuals. You can volunteer locally and help build homes! Go to to search for your area.

-Animal Shelters. Everyone loves animals, right? They are always in need of help, walking them or helping feed them. Long term? Adopt a pet :)

-American Red Cross. One of the biggest organizations in the world, Red Cross helps individuals struck by disaster or tragedy. They are always looking for volunteers for blood drives or to distribute supplies.

-Meals on Wheels, Food Banks, Soup Kitchen's. People are starving, everywhere. They are ALWAYS needing people to help distribute food, put together packages, deliver meals, and serve food. Google your local food bank or soup kitchen :)

Whatever you do, do it with a smile. You can make someone else's day just by being positive. Be strong in who you are, and you can help others on their path. Oh, and while you're at it, if you have volunteers at your organization, thank them.

Do good.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Discover Detroit

When most people hear the word "Detroit", they either cringe or laugh. "Why would anyone want to live in Detroit?". "Don't you feel unsafe?". "You're gonna get shot!". "Detroit is so horrible!". I'm here to tell you...Detroit is amazing.

Now, I haven't always felt this way. I've lived in the suburbs for most of my life, and went to college in Kalamazoo, so my vision of Detroit was also very distorted. I wouldn't set foot in this city unless I was going to a concert or a sporting event, and even that was rare. However, for the past 10 months, I've been living right here, in the city. Just minutes from downtown...and you know what? I've come to love it. I find myself wanting to learn more, wanting to help more.

I could write a five page blog educating you on Detroit...the economy, the corruptions, the school system, how it's built for millions but so empty and abandoned...but I won't do that, for a few reasons. One is because I am still learning myself, and don't want to spread and false infromation. The second is because I encourage you to educate yourself on this city. Instead of laughing at it, or judging, why don't you HELP? People are suffering every single day. We need you.

What I am going to do is share some of my favorite places. Maybe it will help you understand why I have fallen in love with this city. I am going to continually add new places or sights that I find, and also going to pick other citiies that I love to stay tuned.


-Corktown. My neighborhood, and, in my biased opinion, the best neighborhood in Detroit. Corktown is the oldest Detroit neighborhood. It is historically known as being an Irish neighborhood. (You should see it on St. Patty's Day!) In Corktown we have Nemo's, Slow's BBQ, The Gaelic Leage, Most Holy Trinity, Cabrini Clinic, Honeybee Market, and more. It's safe, it's full of goregous houses, and it is so much fun. I couldn't have asked to live in a better neighborhood, and I would eventually like to permanently move here, if I don't move to Nashville.

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-mexicantown. Mexicantown is most known for it's amazing, authentic restauraunts. The town is primarily hispanic, and it is lined up with restauraunts, taco stands, bakeries, and shops. I have a special place in my heart for mexicantown because that is where Cristo Rey is located. It's also home to Cafe Con Leche (local coffee shop) and Clark Park, two Detroit favorites of mine.

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-greektown. I haven't spent any time in Greektown since I've been living in Detroit, but it's still one of my favorite places. It's dominated by Greek restauaraunts, historic churches, and the Greektown casino. It's a very popular restauraunt/entertainment district, a little pricey, which is why I haven't spent time there. It's cool to see, though, and perhaps one of these day's we'll try our luck at the casino.

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-eastern market. On a nice Saturday, you can find thousands of people at Eastern Market. It's a local food district with hundreds independent vendors. It has great selections of fruits, veggies, fresh-cut flowers, homemade jams, maple syrups, local foods. There's also a lot of famous restaurants and shops. I've become all about supporting local businesses, and Eastern Market is a great place to do just that.

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-john king books. Michigan's largest used book store! It's huge! It's actually hard to even go there, because there's so much to look at...but I still enjoy browsing.

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-honeybee market. The BEST local grocery store in southwest Detroit! We love this place. It's just minutes from our house, clean, GREAT produce, and excellent service. Plus, they have the best homemade gaucomole I've ever tasted.

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z's villa. I was introduced to Z's Villa by my brother in law. It's located right before you hit the heart of downtown, off of woodward. The building is over 100 years old, and the food is delcious...and also affordable.

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slows. When we moved in all we kept hearing about was Slow's BBQ. It's even been mentioned on Jimmy Kimmel :) I can't say enough good things about this place. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is fun. It's good southern cooking, right here in Detroit. It's well worth the money, and the portions are huge. I'm not even a bbq/meat fan, and I still love Slow's. (Veggies- try the macaroni and cheese. you'll thank me later). People wait for over an hour to get into Slow's on a busy night- so I suggest go during the week or for lunch. Plus, it's a hop and a skip from our house :)

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mudgies. One of the sister's took us to Mudgies our first or second day here, and we all fell in love. Their sandwhiches are incredible and creative, and they have a good amount of vegetarian options. I've been back twice since my first trip, and I've tried soup and two different kinds of sandwhiches. I've never been disapointed. Plus, they have a new flavor of iced tea every day. Mmmm. It's also in Corktown, and they are known for their fresh, organic food. Dang it, now I really want mudgies for lunch.

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-renaissance center. known to Detroiters as "ren cen". The Ren Cen is GM's global headquarters. It's the tallest building in Detroit (73 stories) and full of shops, dining, and more. Katie and I refer to it as a an airport without planes. Just a few of the highlights: CVS, food court, marriot, movie theatre, AND a many more shops and places to eat. We go there to see a movie every once in a while, because it's only 5 bucks on Saturday's. Plus it's cool to go look at the cars on display :)

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-heidelberg project. By far the most creative sight I've seen in Detroit thus far. A Detroit resident, Tyree Guyton, decided to transform a street of abandoned houses into a work of art. It is really quite undescribable, unless you see it in person. It's incredible. It is recongized as being one of the most influential art enviornments in the entire world. They aim for art/education and community development. If you are EVER visiting Detroit, this is a must see.

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-belle isle. Belle Isle is one of the most unique parks in the world at 2.5 miles long and 985 acres. The island sits in the middle of the Detroit River on the U.S.-Canada border. It's attractions include athletic fields, an aquarium, beach, nature zoo, casino, conservatory, golf course, green house, and much more. I'm going to start going there once or twice a week to go walking.

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-fox theatre. I've always been in love with the Fox Theatre because it holds so many precious memories for me. My grandma used to take us there every year to see The Nutcracker and the Christmas Spectacular Show. It's a beautiful theatre and has since become one of my favorite concert venues. I went there for Kelly Clarkson in October, and realized just how much history the place had. When we were backstage waiting to meet her, I saw so many displays of old shows that have come through, and because I'm a theatre nerd, it was very exiciting for me. It was one of the coolest little surprises I have found in Detroit.

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-campus martius and hart plaza. Campus Martius is also known as Detroit's Gathering Place. Campus Martius Park has quickly become an awesome public space where anyone is welcome. Hart Plaza is a riverfront plaza which happens to be the site of many of Detroit's most popular activities. It's rich in Michigan/Detroit history with monuments and historical markers. It's also home to many festivals, like tech fest, jazz fest, country music fest, and more.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So you see, Detroit is full of rich history and fun sights! I haven't even covered everything. Be on the look out for more blogs in the future to "discover Detroit".

Tell me about your city!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Music :)

Today was a very exciting day in my music world: three of my favorite artists released new music!

Donald Woods is Ayiesha Wood's brother. Ayiesha is one of my favorite Christian artists. Her songs have an upbeat tempo with comforting words, plus she's a total sweetheart. Donny sings background for her at most of her appearances, and has been working on his own project for quite some time. He's hilarious, and also a sweetheart. Today he released his first EP, Feelings. I really enjoy it- it's not my normal type of music, but it puts me in a good mood- the beats are amazing. I am loving it! My personal fave is "She's Bad". I'm so happy for him! Check it out :) You can buy it for just $2.97 on Itunes.

I've been waiting for Jason Castro to release an album since he was booted of Idol (which was in April of 2008). I had faith that he would be successful, and considering he's number 5 on itunes right now, I think I was correct. Jason was so unique to the show, and I liked him because he is so much like my other favorite artists (Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw, etc). He's one of my favorite idol contestants ever, and I will always support him- not as an american idol alum anymore, but as an ARTIST. His album was originally set to be released in November, and I had pre-ordered it for that release date. However, it got pushed back to when I got an e-mail with the link to download his album in my email last night, I was ecstatic. It's been a long time coming! His album is everything I hoped for! I was so glad he included "Hallelujah" and "Over The Rainbow". My other favorites are "You Can Always Come Home", "Sweet Medicine", and "That's What I'm Here For", but really I love every single song. It's great, mellow, strong vocally, great lyrics. One of my favorite albums, for sure. I am so proud of him and cannot wait to see him live again on April 30th! Hopefully my car won't break down this time :) You can buy his album on itunes for $12.99, or just buy a few songs. I promise you won't regret it!

Finally, my favorite band in the whole wide world released a new EP today- their second EP in just a few months. They've been shooting out new music and videos like crazy for their fans, and offering amazing fan bundles. The EP is called "Realities" and includes the song "Our Song", which is their next "single". Spill Canvas has only had one other song that was played on the radio, so we'll see how it goes. I think it's the perfect choice, it's one of my favorite songs for sure. Anyways, I love the EP, and am now listening to it for the tenth time today. It's definatley different than their old stuff, but sometimes different can be good- and in this case, it is. I would compare their "new sound" to a band like All Time Low or maybe even HelloGoodBye. I still prefer their old stuff, but this EP is amazing in it's own way. Each song is unique, and once again the lyrics are amazing. The difference is in the music itself- less acoustic and stripped, more instrumental. Besides "Our Song", my favorite song is probably "Dust Storm". I am VERY excited to see them live again (it's been two years!) in May. I am ready to see them perform these new songs and hear some of my favorite old ones. Please check these guys out, and watch for their video to premiere on MTV tomorrow. I don't have the itunes link for this, but just go and type in The Spill Canvas. It's only $3.99! It's totally worth it!

In other news, spring break is over and now that I'm back in the routine at school, I feel like I've never left. Let's sum up spring break:
-sleeping in my big comfy bed
-Easter Sunday with my roomies, parents, sister and brother in law.
-hair cut
-shopping with mom
-Higgins lake with the roomies and 5 of the Jesuit volunteers! So much fun! I didn't want to leave. It was a nice relaxing weekend.

Things at school are good- much better than I anticipated. I'm just job searching, working, and spending time with my community. We're in the final stretch now, with only 2 months left of school and 3 months left of the program. Scary!

I would like to ask all of you to pray for the Carter family, a very close family to my mom. They have six kids, one of which (the baby) is named Caroline, after my mom. The father (Fred) was diagnosed with acute leukemia on Friday. If you don't know much about acute's serious. It comes on fast. Fred started chemo within 24 hours of being diagnosed. I cannot imagine the stress of this to a family, especially with six kids. Please keep them in your prayers, they are amazing people. I'll keep you updated as I hear more.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

WOF Wednesday

If you could become a Women of Faith speaker, what would you talk about?

My struggle with anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember...and so has my relationship with God. It was only a few years ago I learned how close they were actually related.

Before I really understood what anxiety was and how it was affecting my daily life, I just thought there was something wrong with me. I thought I was alone in my fears and worrying, that no one else had the same problem. I knew my friends didn't understand, because they were always so outgoing and open. I was shy and timid, even though I loved high school. I was involved in many activities but when it came time for parties or other social gatherings, I was terrified. Often, I would cancel my plans at the last minute, giving some lame excuse about being sick or grounded. If I didn't cancel, I would eat. Eating brought me comfort, it calmed my nerves. If I was at a party and full of anxiety, I would just focus on that chocolate milkshake I'd stop and get on the way home. Since none of my friends ever expressed a concern about my life, (and at the time, my friends opinion was the only one that mattered), I just kept up the routine. I also lied, to avoid confrontation or to please other people. If there is anything I hate it's having people upset at me, so I would go to the extreme to avoid it. I kept up this ugly game throughout high school and college. College was even tougher, because not only did I hate parties, I hated going to class. I forced myself to go, but it was a daily struggle I faced. Not because I hated school or doing the work, I hated going and forcing myself to talk to others. I joined a sorority, which was both the best and worst decision of my life. I found a group of friends and something to become passionate about, but it became my main priority. I wanted so despretly to fit in somewhere that I became someone I didn't recognize. The two years I was a part of that sorority were two of the hardest years of my life, but I know that I grew a stronger person because of it.

One day, I was sitting in class, exhausted and not paying attention at all. However, I heard my teacher say "sometimes all it takes is one person to come into your life and change it". I will never forget that, because it was the moment my life started to change. I remember walking across campus and talking to God, something I hadn't done in years- I was mad at Him for "leaving" me in the pit I was in. I told him I needed that person to come into my life, and I was ready to change. Well, God didn't just bring me one person- he brought me a whole army! Suddenly people were coming into my life, bringing me joy and hope. Some of those people became my best friends, some of those people were from American Idol. By the time my junior year of college began, I was starting to change. I felt better about myself and surrounded myself with positive influences. My parents, who had been supporting me all along, helped me to get the help I needed.

Although I was getting better, it wasn't until I read the book IdolEyes by Mandisa that I realized I was not alone. It was also while reading that book that I realized what food addiction was, and that those years when I would eat before parties were me filling a hole in my life with food. I made a decision to live my life for God and to fill my heart with GOD and positivity instead of food, depression, alcohol, negative friends, everything that was blocking me from God. He was there with open arms, and He's never left my side.

Every day is a struggle, and I have to constantly think about my actions. However, the army that God sent me has pulled me through some of the hardest times.

Speaking at WOF is a dream of mine. I want to share my story and help others to know that they are not alone, and that through trust in God, they can make it through any challenge they face. I found it ironic that this was the topic for the week considering I have been so dazzled by the idea of one day speaking at WOF.

To "my army"- my parents, siblings, sam, alex, alicia, christine, meg mal, lauren, the backups, melinda, mandisa, backups, dr robbins, amanda jones and laurence carolin: I love you. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Over a span of three days, I have reflected on two people in my life that could be considered heroes.

The first is one of my best friends, Meg Mal. We've been friends since freshmen year of high school, when we met at field hockey camp. I knew we would be friends when I was in the bathroom and she screamed "CAROLIN'S POOPING!". I mean, only true friends can be comfortable talking about bowel movements. We've remained friends through some pretty interesting times....and I will always cherish our "megan and megan nights" we used to have in high school. We went to different colleges, but always remained in contact and visited each other. She's been there for me, she understands me, and she can always make me laugh. She has an attitude of "who cares?". When I'm in a funk, she's the first to say "you know what Carolin? F*$% funks!". During the past year, she made the decision to go into the Navy. She was accepted and has been training, and this morning she left for four months of boot camp. We've been away from each other for four months before, but this was a completely different kind of goodbye. First of all, she has no contact with the outside world except writing letters. No cell phone, no email, she can't even watch tv or listen to the radio. I can't text her, facebook her, anything. Second of all, it's not like she's going away to summer camp. She's going to BOOT CAMP. for the NAVY. I am so damn proud of her. It takes a lot of guts, and she is pushing away all negativity and all people/things telling her "she can't" and she's going to do it. She's always been a hero in my eyes, but going into the Navy just further proves what an amazing, dedicated, strong, confident young woman she is. I'm going to miss her, and I hope you will all join me in praying for her. I love you, Meg Mal. You inspire me. Kick some Navy ass.

The second is a former teacher, who is celebrating his birthday today. Mr Schusterbauer is without a doubt the best teacher I have ever had. He was my English teacher for the class "Lit Into Film" my senior year at Mercy. I'm very sad I was only in his class for one semester, but he taught me more in those five months than I could have ever imagined. He taught me about writing and analyzing films, yes, but more than that, he taught me about life. He taught me how to stand up for myself, how to use humor in any situation. He is kind, positive, and encouraging. Schuste, as we lovingly called him, is now retired and is very active on facebook. He is an incredible writer. I wish there was a better word, because incredible doesn't even begin to describe his writing. I enjoy reading his notes and status updates, to hear his insight on situations. Schuste is the one who got me passionate about writing, and I thank him for his time, energy, and talent.

Spring Break is almost over. Tomorrow I will spend the day with my mom and then head back to Corktown. I have spirituality night with my roomies tomorrow, then on Thursday I am participating in a service project with the kids. Friday we are heading up north for the weekend.

Only 3 more months of MVC left. Where this road will take me, I have no idea...but people like Meg Mal and Schuste inspire me to just keep going.

Friday, April 2, 2010

spring break

I'm about to admit something that will probably never be repeated. It's not an April Fool's joke. It's for real. Are you ready?

I saw a Miley Cyrus movie, and I liked it.

I know. wasn't exactly a "Miley Cyrus" movie. Really, it would be a Julie Anne Robinson movie (the director). Thanks to my roommate Dave for teaching me that. Anyways, Miley Cyrus was the star, and even though I...dislike...that young lady, I really loved the movie. It was different than I expected it to be, and Miley actually really impressed me. Homegirl should stick to acting...and wear clothes that cover her body. You are only 17 years old. Thank you.

So, I'm on spring break. Which means a few different things. It means I can hang out with my parents, go on walks with my dog, watch all kinds of tv, sit outside and read, sleep in my big bed, enjoy my dad's famous tuna melts, etc. For a whole week, I don't have to worry about my kids, serving lunch, managing a classroom, tears, fights, bullying. I can just relax. It also helps that it is 75 degrees. I am so in love with this sunshine!

1] Comment to this entry and I'll ask you five questions.
2] Answer them. Post instructions. Ask questions.

My questions, courtesy of Shari! (Who, by the way, is very close to reaching her dream of writing a book. It's been written, query letters sent out, and now she's just waiting to hear back from an agent! How exciting! She's an incredible writer and I will be first in line to buy her book the day it is released...because I KNOW she's going to get published! Proud of you, Shari!)

1. It's easy to see that this past year has been a life-changing one for you. What's the one main lesson you'll take away from your time at Cristo Rey?

That's tough, because I don't know if I will fully grasp what I have learned until I am finished...maybe not even for a few more years. This experience is going by fast, so I have to remember to take a step back and breathe everything in. As of now, what I've learned is that sometimes the best way to be there for someone is to simply listen, or to cry with them. We can't always understand what they are going through, we can't always give advice...but knowing that we can be there is a great comfort. My kids have taught me that, because not only have I learned to "just be there" for them, they have been there for me. On days when they can tell I'm struggling, some of them will just come up and hug me, or tell the rest of the class "be quiet, ya'll". I've learned that love comes in many forms, and that God's love shines through in the most unique ways.

2. After this year, would you ever consider going the teaching route and staying in that profession?

I wouldn't consider teaching, because my biggest weakness is classroom management. However, I do want to work with teens, which is something I never wanted to do before this experience. I want to work as a counselor or campus ministry, mentoring kids and helping them through their journey. I love when I have a small group of kids in a classroom and teach them about bullying, self esteem, etc, or creative writing. So, while I do not wish to become a full time teacher, I would love to work in a high school.

3. What's your #1 favorite thing about Melinda? (you know I had to include her!)

I think the word "understanding" describes Melinda well. It seems that no matter who she comes in contact with, what their story is, she understands. She always knows just what to say to someone to make them feel better, to motivate them and cheer them on, or to make them laugh. If words fail her, she'll simply use one of her mantra's of "dream big", "baby steps", or "finish strong" and pull them into one of those hugs. Even if she is meeting someone for the first time, she takes their hand and listens to them, nodding her head and listening. She gets it, and she can use her voice to help people know that she understands.

4. You always mention that it seems like Kelly writes songs that completely relate to your life and some of the situations you've been in. If you had to choose just one of her songs that you connect to the most, which would it be?

That's so hard! I mean I'm not kidding when I say that every single song of hers is one that I can relate to. If I had to choose, though, it would be "Maybe" off of My December. I had always felt connected to Kelly and joked that we would be besties if we knew each other, but when I heard that song I was almost in awe of how similar we really are.

5. You've just won a humanitarian award for all the wonderful work you've done for charity and all the time you've spent helping others. Who do you thank in your acceptance speech?

I would thank God for all the opportunities, blessings, and for helping me overcome any challenges, my parents for raising me right and teaching me the importance of serving others, my siblings for leading the way and for inspiring me, all my best friends who have supported me through everything, Melinda Doolittle for teaching me to dream big and to take baby steps.

Happy Good Friday! I'm getting ready to go to St. Hugo to participate in the stations of the cross.

John 3: 16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."