Monday, December 27, 2010

peace out 2010. won't miss ya.

I'm going to be honest. 2010 was not my favorite. It went by extremely fast, thank goodness. The first half was awesome, but by August things weren't so lovely. I don't want to dwell on the negative so here are my favorite moments of 2010. And here's to hoping for a better 2011.

Lady GaGa Concert

My amazing best friend, Dean, knew that Hannah (JVC) and I LOVED Gaga. He also knew that we were volunteers and couldn't afford to buy tickets to her show in Detroit. So he surprised us by getting them for us. At the last minute, my roomie Katie was able to go as well. One of my favorite concerts ever, and with great company. Gaga is an incredible artist and I am honored that I saw her live.

Visiting Gem

I visited Gem the same weekend Laurence passed away. I found out on my drive there and was an emotional wreck the entire drive. Thank God I was going somewhere where I would be supported and loved. Gem took extra care of me and made sure I was okay. We had a great time, as usual. I met some more of her lovely friends, everyone was so nice! My favorite part was that she made sure we could go to Church together :)

Jason Castro Concert in Ann Arbor
Jason is one of my top five favorite contestants to come off American Idol. I adore his voice, laid back personality, and good spirit. I will always support him and love hearing him live. His concert in Ann Arbor was awesome- small venue, lots of cool people. He's not your typical artists. He said things like "Who likes American Idol? I do. I like to be on it sometimes". Loved his show, even though my car died on the way home.

Grayling with Katie and Dave

My roomies and I were invited to Grayling, MI to visit a Sister of Mercy and speak at her church about our volunteer experience. Nate was unable to go, but I went with Katie and Dave as well as Renee, a young lady becoming a Sister of Mercy. That weekend was so special. We stayed with Sr Jean, in her beautiful house on a lake. I remember feeling completely at peace our entire stay. Plus, the people at her church were so awesome! It was a very family, community feel. Plus, we visited a beautiful state park where Katie got to run around in the snow :) So lovely.

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Retreat at McCauley Center

The four of us were really wanting a retreat- many of the other communities in MVC had one (together), but since we were the furthest away we were on our own. So, we had a nice little retreat at the McCauley Center, which is connected to my high school. It was great- conversation, contemplation, relaxing. Sr. Rachelle led us through a great day of different topics, she opened my eyes to many things that I had been worrying about. I loved spending that weekend in prayer with the people who had supported me most during our year.

Higgins Lake
Over Spring Break, my roomies and I stayed in a cabin on Higgins Lake with some of our JVC friends. Perfect weekend. Friends, fun, laughter, relaxing. Long walks in the state park, journaling, trashy mtv shows, etc. I LOVED being surrounded by great friends with no expectations. Miss it!

Oi. I could go on and on about the Nashville trip but since I already wrote a huge entry when it happened, I'll give you the sparks notes version. Sam and I had both saved our money to be able to take a trip to Nashville in April. Living off $100 a month made this difficult, but I was literally saving every penny. No Starbucks, fewer trips to E&L Taco, dropping my change in a little jar. The trip itself was so fast! We stayed with Jess and had such a good time exploring our favorite city with her- PLUS we got to cheer on the marathon runners and spend quality time with backups. Oh, AND had breakfast with Melinder. Who I haven't seen since then. Not that I'm bitter :) I want to go back to that weekend!

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Tyler Hilton/Spill Canvas Concert
Ugh. Not exactly my favorite concert ever, because of the rude people, extreme heat, and injuries I suffered. But, it was great music and anytime I can see my favorite band live is a good time. I got to hear my three favorite songs from them, plus new ones.

Personal Silent Retreat
Sometime that spring I signed myself up for a personal retreat at McCauley center. I was so stressed with "the future" that I needed a break and to spend silent time with God. It worked. After that weekend I felt relieved- I knew I was going to be taken care of, somehow. Loved spending time on that beautiful campus with lots of sunshine and tea with Sisters of Mercy. They were so good to me!

Walk for Lupus
One of my students, Jasmine, lost her mom to Lupus when she was just a baby. She asked me to help her organize a team and raise money for the Walk for Lupus. We raised almost $200 and had a great group of kids walking with us. The smile on her face the entire time made everything worth it. She was so proud, so happy. It made me Glad to see kids realize that they CAN make a difference.

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Transition Retreat
So now the year with MVC was coming to a close and it was time to process all of it at our transition retreat in Philly. It gave me a lot of closure, and made me super grateful for my three amazing community members and service site. I realized just how much God had planned out my year with MVC. Loved hearing other stories from the other volunteers, talking about my experiences, and realizing how much I had grown. Perfect way to close an amazing year.

Kate Voegele/Jordin Sparks Concert
I couldn't believe that two of my favorite female artists were playing together- for a cheap price! So exciting. I was looking forward to that concert forever. Got meet and greets for Jordin, I was nervous she wouldn't remember who I was but she gasped when I walked in the room and hugged me forever. We talked about Laurence and the song Faith, how much it meant to me and my family. Later that night she performed that song, introducing it by saying "I don't usually sing this song on my tour but I really feel I need to tonight" then stared at me the whole time. She's such a sweet girl and I'm very proud of how much she has accomplished. Seeing her first solo tour was so exciting :)

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Final Goodbyes with Students

Heartbreaking. Probably the biggest stab in my heart and gut I have felt. I didn't want to lose them. I needed those kids as much as they may have needed me. I hated saying goodbye, but loved the way it worked out. I wrote them letters, and got several in return. Lots of hugs, some tears, sharing memories of the year. I will never ever forget those kids. They hold a special place in my heart for making 09-first half of 10 the best ever. <3

My "Surprise Party"
Dave and Nate were going to be gone before my birthday, and had just missed it the previous July. So my three lovely roomies decided to invite my parents and a few friends for dinner and cake as a surprise. It was one of the nicest things anyone has done for me, and just another example of how compassionate and selfless my roomates were.

Sara's Bridal Shower
My sister and I hosted a bridal shower for Sara at my sister's house. It went so well- we had family members there who I rarely get to see, and everyone was so at peace and happy. Everyone loved Sara, too :)

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Five Year Reunion

As the ambassador for my class, one of my roles was to organize the five year reunion. We decided on a small, laid back shindig at a local bar. Had a decent turn out, not as many as I would have liked but enough for a good time and sharing laughs over old memories. Good to see some of my friends, but in a way it made me even sadder because I'm not close with my core group anymore. Oh well, it was fun.

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Spill Canvas at Caribou Coffee.

That same weekend, The Spill Canvas was doing a concert with the Goo Goo Dolls. I couldn't afford to go and was super bummed. However, they tweeted that they were doing a meet and greet at Caribou coffee. I raced my little bum up there and talked with the band for a few minutes. What sweethearts :)

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Idol Concert with Mama

Took my mom to her first Idol concert, because I knew how much she loved Casey and Lee. She had a blast :) So fun to dance around with her and sing at the top of my lungs. All the Idols really took me by surprise.

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Goodbye to my Community Members

Similiar to saying goodbye to my students, this was very bittersweet. I was so excited for each of them to go off in the world and make their mark, to take the gifts and lessons from our year with MVC and apply them to the wonderful new projects they were about to take on- but the selfish part of me wanted to keep them for myselves, forever. I am so blessed that I got the roomies I did. Each of them taught me something that I will hold on to forever. I love them so much and do not know what I would have done without their constant support and compassion. Three amazing people, three of the greatest friendships I will ever have.

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Babysitting Carter Kids

Hard work, for sure, but those two weeks taught me so much about family, strength, hope, and love. I adore those cute little Carter faces, all six of them. I know that was an extremly hard time in their life and the last thing they wanted was another babysitter telling them what to do, but we did have our fun moments- and I fell in love with the cutest little baby. I will be helping that family as much as I can for as long as I can. Amazing family. Grateful for the opportunity to babysit and become closer friends with them.

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Lady Antebellum Concert

I was so excited when Jess asked me to go with her to see Lady A. It was a strange experience, everything sort of coming full circle as far as my interest in the band goes :) Loved hearing them live on a tour that they were headlining, hearing my favorite songs, and getting chills when they closed the show with Run To You.

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Jonathon and Sara's Wedding

EEE. Best day of 2010, fo sho. Not only was it amazing to celebrate the love of two great people, but I spent quality time with family and friends who I know will always be there for me. There is no greater feeling then to be able to completly let go of all worries and just be yourself- that's what this night was for me. But, it wasn't about me- it was about JP and Sara. Their wedding was awesome- SO them in every aspect. From the creativity to the donation to the ONE campaign in memory of Laurence. Just perfect. So happy for them and glad for that amazing night.

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Visiting Cristo Rey in September
I was so nervous about going back to visit for the opening mass, even though it had only been a few months since I left. It ended up being the perfect day. I mean PERFECT. Hugs, tears, laughs. So good to see the kids, my co workers, and friends. It made me even more determined to end up back there one day. I will. Not sure how, but I will. It's home.

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American Idol Concert- Toledo
Such a fun weekend with my loves Sam and Cindy. Late night sandwiches, banana in the pants. Waiting all day for the Idols to come outside, meet and greet, show, a zillion after party passes. Giggling with Aaron Kelly and bonding with Siobhan. We had so much fun. These are the times of our life :)

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Babysitting John and Claire

I started babysitting John and Claire overnight in September and it has been one of the most amazing experiences. I know it sounds odd to describe baysitting like that but it truly has been. I have learned patience, understanding, compassion, and love. Those kids have become my own. I'd do anything for them and the family. Love them both dearly and so, so happy to have them in my life.

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Although it has not been the most amazing job ever, I'm grateful to HAVE a job in my field, making a little (and I do mean little) money, having something solid to put on paper. I know I'm supposed to be here for a reason, just haven't discovered that reason quite yet. Maybe soon. Grateful for my coworkers, especially the lead residental counselor who has showed me the ropes and taken me under her wing. Grateful to the kids for introducing me to Nicki Minaj.

Christmas Break

Woooie this break has been busy, but so fun. I can't remember laughing this hard. I don't want it to end! I just want to keep playing games with my family and playing rockband and having dinners and coffee dates with my best friends. It has been so care free and fun, but I am back to reality tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who made this an amazing break! Sad that a lot of my friends are now leaving town, but I'm hoping those who are around, we can see more of each other. Call me. :)

Training for the 1/2 Marathon

Yee has this been a process- very up and down. I want to wait and talk about this more in Feb, but for now- just know I am loving it.

So, even though the bad things that happened this year made more of an impact on my life than the good, I am grateful for the good times. It was just hard. I was going through an insane lifestyle change. I say to people that 2010 was just a losing year. I lost friends, boys, jobs, roomies, students, etc. And it wasn't just that I lost them, it was the way everything happened. But, here's to 2011. I got a good feeling about this year.

RIP to Matt Miller, Sr. Gretchen, Fred Carter, and Laurence. I love you, I miss you. Watch over us.

Thank you to my family, my MVC community members, Cristo Rey students, co workers, JVC members, Dean and Giles, Sisters of Mercy, the Carter family, Michael Card, all my friends who have supported me through everything, (you know who you are by now), American Idols Season 9, the backups, Kathy and Tom, BHGH co workers and kids, and everyone else I may be forgetting.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010- Music and Movies :)

This was an excellent year for music. I had a really difficult time picking my favorites. Enjoy.

Top 10 Albums

10) Lady Antebellum-Need You Now
9) JillandKate- Songs on the 17th
8) Jason Castro- Jason Castro
7)We Are The Fallen-Tear The World Down
6) Crystal Bowersox-farmers daughter
5) Hanson- Shout it Out
4) David Archuleta-The Other Side of Down
3)Sara Barielles-Kaliedscope Heart
2) Bruno Mars-Doo Wops and Hooligans
1) Taylor Swift-Speak Now

Bounus- EP’s ( I know this might be kind of cheating, but it was the only way I could fit in all my faves. So here are my 5 fave Ep’s of the year)

5)The Downtown Fiction- The Double EP
4)Jason Mraz- Life is Good
3)Satellite- Ring the Bells
2)Jason Castro- Changing Colors
1)The Rocket Summer- Of Men and Angels B Side

10 Favorite Singles (Some albums were not released in 10, but these singles were)

10) Airplanes- B.O.B.
9) Not Afraid- Eminem
8) Thinking About Something- Hanson
7) Bury Me Alive- We Are The Fallen
6) King of Anything- Sara Barielles
5) Glitter in the Air- Pink
4) All I ever Wanted- Kelly Clarkson
3) Hello World- Lady Antebellum
2) Telephone- Lady Gaga/Beyonce
1) Grenade- Bruno Mars

10 Favorite Non-Singles (all from albums/eps released in 2010).

10) Crystal Bowersox- Speak Now
9) Jason Castro- You Can Always Come Home
8) Rocket Summer- Peace Come Over You
7) The Spill Canvas- As Long As It Takes
6) JillandKate- Come Back
5) David Archuleta- Things Are Gonna Get Better
4) Hanson- Give A Little
3) Bruno Mars- Talking to the Moon
2) Taylor Swift- Haunted
1) Sara Barielles- Let The Rain

10 Favorite Movies I saw

10) Valentines Day
9) Easy A
8) Kick Ass
7) Ironman
6) It's Kind of a Funny Story
5) Waiting for Superman
4) The Social Network
3) Harry Potter
2) Toy Story 3
1) Incpetion

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

breakin down the walls to the impossible

Hi, friends. It's story time.

One of my first friends in high school, J Bizz (no, that's not her real name, but I've called her that for so long I don't even remember her first name...just kidding, it's Jessica. I think.), is also one of the very few high school friends I've stayed close with. I don't see her often, but the bond is still there. I know that I could call her if I needed to, and can always count on for a laugh or encouragement.

In all the years I've known J Bizz, we've had several very silly and also very serious conversations- boys, Beyonce, etc. But one of the frequent topics of conversation was her goal to graduate from the University of Michigan. Anyone who knew her knew that this was her dream, and she was GOING to reach it.

J Bizz worked her little butt off. Nothing was handed to her, nothing was easy. She had several obstacles in her way, but she conquered every single one. In stilleto heels :) After spending a few years studying at UofM Dearborn, she officially transfered to Michigan in the fall of 2008. We were all excited for her then, her dream was getting closer. Well, folks, I am happy to announce that on Sunday, December 19th, Miss Jessica graduated from the University of Michigan.

Seeing her in the cap and gown nearly made me cry. I am so very proud of her. She is an inspiration! She is living proof that if you set your mind to something and work hard towards your goal, you can do it. My little J Bizz Beyonce, I am so proud of you. You will always be one of my best friends. Good luck, my dear. I know you will do amazing things in life.

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Her story has really inspired me. I've had a rough few days emotionally. I'm just in a place that I like to call "stuck". Nothing is terrible but nothing is particularly rainbows and butterflies, either. I get into these worry fits about "what ifs" which are not good for anyone. BUT, today while thinking about J Bizz and her accomplishments, I came up with a solution. I hope.

2010 has been rough. I want 2011 to be better. But I don't just want it to be better, I'm going to make it better. I'm focusing on health and happiness in 2010. Yes, that may seem broad, but just trust me on this one. I made a list of all the things that will make me happy, and not worry as much. Then under each bullet point I made small goals to accomplish. Example:
-Improve my social life
-make it a point to call Christine, Sarah, Dean, etc.
-Join St. Hugo Young Adult Group

Make sense? Good. Thanks again, J Bizz.

Peace, love, and dreams.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I Ever Wanted Was You To Be There For Me

So I have a few things I wanted to say, and rather than bombard facebook newsfeeds, I thought I'd just compile it in a blog.

First of all I just want to thank everyone who shared my most recent blog. It was my 2nd most read entry ever. (First place is one where I quote Taylor Swift's liner notes about Speak Now, and most of those hits were from people googling it). Anyways, it meant a lot to me because all of my hits came from various facebook links of people who shared my blog. Laurence's dad one of them, as well as an organization called Airplane Day which recgonizes Laurence's humanitarian efforts. So, thank you! It touches my heart that people still like to hear those stories :)

Secondly, I went and visited my mom's classroom again today. Since I was doing MVC last year and in college the past four years, I haven't been able to really get to know one of her classes in a few years. I like to get to know the kiddies so I can put a face to the names. Plus, my mom works really hard and I like to see it in action. I know from the stories I hear from parents and kids what a wonderful teacher she is, so I always feel quite proud watching her do her thing. Today was the Christmas pagaent. They were so adorable! I wanted to squeeze their little cheeks. And I'm not just saying this cuz I'm biased, but my mom's kids totally did the best of all the 2nd graders. I didn't expect to me struck by a second grade Christmas play, but I was at one of the lines.

It happened during a song where Joseph was begging the innkeepers to let them stay there. All of the kids then turned to the audience, pointed at us, and said "innkeepers, inkeepers, do you have room for a child?". I thought it was so powerful and profound! That line stayed with me for the rest of the day- DO I make time for Jesus? Do I have room for him in my heart/mind? I'm definatley guilty of "pushing God aside" or making excuses, claiming to be too busy. What these little adorable kids taught me today is that you are never too busy or too full. There's always room for Jesus. You just have to find it and be willing. Thanks, kids.

After the play I hung out in the classroom for a while, laughing hysterically at some of the things they were saying. I found it really adorable that they were asking me to do things for them, as if I was the teachers aide. Or that many of them asked me to read the letters they got from their parents. Or my homegirl Lizzy helping me out when my mom DID put me in charge for a few minutes. She was giving me all kinds of tips and hints. Thanks, Lizzy.

So, tomorrow starts Christmas break. Which I realize is kind of nonexistant once you are out of college, but here's the deal. Last year was my first year out of college, but I was working at a school and got two weeks off for break. This year I work for an academic program, our kids go home on weekends and breaks. So technically, I'm on break as well. Except that as the on call staff person, I'll be working quite a few days over break. I have the 23rd-26th off, then the 30-January 2nd. I'm excited, though. Time to make cookies, spend time with the family. Reflect on a year of some major ups and downs. Get ready for 2011.

Finally, I have to share this video. It is the first single for Crystal Bowersox, who's debut album was just released on Tuesday. It's an incredible album. This song is called "Farmer's Daughter", and it is about the abuse and neglect she went through as a young girl. Very powerful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

long live the walls we crashed through

I've been waiting for the kids to go to sleep so I can get on the computer and blog about the really cool conversation I had today. For those who need to be brought up to speed- I'm babysitting two kids this week who I babysit for overnight quite often- every other week since mid October. My mom taught the boy in her class last year, but they don't go to that school anymore. ANYWAYS.

Today, they had a snow day. At first that terrified me. I can do personal snow days, where I just lay in bed all day and watch Glee. But having to entertain children on snow days? No. Incase you don't know much about me, let me just say I hate snow. I hate cold. I despise winter sports of any kind, snowman building included. So I was not excited about today. was kind of one of the best days ever.

We had a lazy morning. Christmas episode of Spongebob, waffles. Then I printed off a bunch of coloring pages, blank greeting cards, connect the dots, etc and made little booklets for the kids. Decided it would be best to keep them busy! Well, that lasted about 30 minutes. then the question I had been hoping would never come up- can we go play outside? My almost immediate response was "no. I'm reading Emily Giffin and drinking coffee. YOU can go outside.". But then I decided against wearing my Grinch pants that day and said "sure, let's go outside." Not only did we make the best man made sledding hill ever, but we also made an igloo. AN IGLOO. It was cold, but so much fun. Then we came in for hot chocolate and more Christmas Spongebob (I've now seen that episode at least 15 times). Then the cool conversation happened (sorry it took me so long to get here, but I had to document that I actually had a good time outside. in the winter.).

The three of us were talking about saints. Don't ask me why because with these kids I can never keep track. And I said that it takes a really long time to become a saint.

Claire "Yeah, like Laurence should be a saint..."
Me "Laurence? Which Laurence?"
Claire "You know that dude?"
Me "...I think so..."
Claire "He had cancer in his brain and he died. But he was really good"
Me "Claire, that was my cousin"

Now. This was remarkable for a few reasons. Claire has severe learning disabilities. It takes a LOT for her to remember things. So for her to remember Laurence, even though he was talked about an awful lot last year in school, was amazing. He obviously made quite an impact on her, and the rest of the family. It just reminded me how much his story had touched peoples lives, even a seven year old girl with no relation to him. I still think of Laurence in some way shape or form daily, and have tried so hard to mold my life around his mission (although I will never come close), but today's conversation just took me by such shock and the best way possible. I love that guy, too.

The rest of the day was just as great as the morning- we even went BACK outside. I really enjoyed it, but I sure hope they have school tomorrow because I am out of snow day ideas.

I wrote something today that is so cheesy it could be an Idol coronation song. Seriously. But lately it has been so rare for me to find inspiration that I wanted to share. my head this is a rap. Which I know is even more ridiculous than magic rainbows...but I can't stop listening to Nicki Minaj's album so I'm blaming it on that.

I believe music can save our souls
And connect even the loneliest strangers
Who are anxiously waiting for that curtain up, cue the band
Belly up to the barricade
Singing along to the words they know so well
Escaping reality with thousands of their closest friends
Cuz no one gets them like these lyrics and melodies
I don't believe in lost causes
Everyone deserves to be found
I was one of them, destined for failure
But baby look at me now, I believe in me
and I believe in you

I believe everyone has a voice
So if you'r waiting your for your turn
This is me telling you it's time
You are important and you better believe
You are loved
So step up, stand up, and be loud
I don't believe in lost causes
Everyone deserves to be found
I was one of them, destined for failure
But baby look at me now, I believe in me
and I believe in you

I believe that time is precious
And life can't always be according to our plans
So lose the grudge, forgive, and love hard
Love with all you've got
Because of all the things I believe in
I believe the right answer is always love


Monday, December 6, 2010

Guess I Better Move On

Random blog post is random.

Yep, this is going to be one of those blog posts where I just ramble about things. I'm not sure if anyone has even noticed I haven't blogged in a few days, but just incase...I am alive. No worries :)

Here's the thing. I've been super, super stressed about my lack of writing. I know that may seem like a silly little thing to be stessed out...but you have to understand that for me, writing is my escape. So not being able to write has been painful. I simply have nothing to write about these days. There's nothing to inspire me. Last year, my kids at Cristo Rey inspired me every single day. Working at Focus Big Brothers Little Hope Sisters Club has not had the same affect. Not that the kids aren't great...cuz they are. (Most of the time). They just aren't the same. It's nothing I can explain very well, so you'll just have to trust me.

So let's see. Here are the things happening in my life:
-While I haven't had any inspiration in writing blogs or song lyrics, I have been pretty successful with my Women of Faith essay. What that means, for those who have no idea:

Do you have a story to share? Something meaningful; something funny; something that changed your heart, your soul, or your way of seeing the world? When you share it with us you could be sharing it with people around the world.

Women of Faith, Inc. and WestBow Press (both divisions of Thomas Nelson, Inc.) have created a writing contest exclusively for you. WestBow Press offers you the opportunity to publish your faith-based writing with a company that combines Christian values and professional services.

When I saw the ad for this contest, I knew I had to enter. I know the chances of winning are slim, but I'm just excited for people "in the business" to read my writing. Women of Faith is kind of my dream outlet for my writing. When I attended the conference on 08, I thought I want to be up on that stage one day, telling my story. Maybe this sounds egotistical, but I believe I have an important story, and I want to inspire people. Writing this essay has so far been a really interesting journey. It has forced me to be honest about some of the hardest times of my life. I've written things in here that will surprise people, things I have kept to myself. I went back and read old blog entries from my college years and wow. I've cringed, I've laughed, I've even cried a little. I'll admit I'm scared for people to read it once it's finished.

-It's December. I really, really, REALLY dislike December. I know, it's Christmas and we should be happy and joyful. I just get so stressed out by the cold, dark days (the sun has officially left Michigan. We won't see it until March), and the holiday season. Plus, I want to eat like...everything. I'm not sure if it's because it's cold or what, but sheesh, I'm hungry all the time!

-Letters to God is a beautiful movie. I cried 95% of the time. It has pretty much every cliche possible (from the "tom boy" best friend named Sam to the angry older brother) BUT it is a really great story. It reminded me so much of Laurence and Amanda- little warriors that they were :) I strongly suggest watching it. You will be inspired.

And, my friends, I think that might be it. Life is pretty cold, snowy, and boring. I hope yours is a little more exciting.