These are a few of my favorite things…

 

1. Of Mice and Men– Taken from a Robert Burns’ quote in “To a Mouse”, “The best laid schemes of mice and men/ Go often awry”, John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” is a classic. I found myself telling Marcus about this book a couple of months ago and I have a new found appreciation for it. In very few pages the novella is able to pack in a host of characters and powerful themes. Completely worthwhile read.

2. Spark Notes– If you are not a high school student looking to avoid the brunt of your reading, Spark notes can still be a valuable resource. Sometimes if I want to read a classic work of literature that I don’t own or if I’m not sure if I will like a book, I read it on spark notes first. And sometimes I just don’t feel like buying it and just want the highlights, its great for that as well.

3. Beyonce Knowles-Carter– There are a hosts of reasons why Beyonce has her own category in my list of things, or in her case, people, that I love. Beyonce is a good singer, yes but that is not why she is on my list. Beyonce works incredibly hard. There is a reason why she is at the “top of the game” in addition there is something to be said for the fact that Beyonce has remained in music for this long with very little scandal. She started dating a man, who is on her level in life who did not have a sketchy background and was not married, married him and had a baby. She did things in life in the correct order which is nothing against a girl who got pregnant young or did not have the luxury of marrying Jay-Z. On top of that she seems like a genuinely nice person. You never hear of people saying nasty things about Beyonce. But what really made me like her was this video. Beyonce is…well… Beyonce but she took time out of what I’m sure is a busy day to do this for these kids. And while it may be something that she did to “give back” as all celebrities say they do, this is actual physical evidence of a celebrity doing it. These kids lives are forever changed even if its in small way. This is a reflection of working hard paying off for them and to inner city kids that mean EVERYTHING!

4. Adult-Dressed Kids- Are they not the cutest? I intend to dress my children in Ralph Lauren, Lilly Pulitzer and Crewcuts. Don’t judge me. I don’t care if kids grow out of things quickly or have a tendency to be messy. I will buy Children’s place for roll in the mud days but well dressed kids make me swoon and so my possible children will be. See tumblr page devoted to well dressed chi’ren.

5. First Generation Americans– First generation Americans are the best of both worlds. They still have the culture of their homeland but they also adapt to America and bring in something new. Yea I know…blah blah blah… immigration… yada yada yada… border… woopty woopty…Mexicans. I know but I, as the owner of this blog, enjoy the unique twist that ALL 1stGs bring. Now if yall got border problems, that’s your business and the governments’ business but in the south where people are how do you say, not as culturally exposed, first generation Americans are a breath of fresh air.

6. Pandora– Pandora has changed my life, literally. It has changed the way I study which has allowed me to successfully get through school. Pandora is a better alternative to music than a radio or an Ipod. Its better than a radio for obvious reasons; significantly less commercials and music of your personal preference. It’s better than an Ipod because it introduces you to music that you may not have heard otherwise. Pandora is a lot of the times, that really hipster friend who gives you the in on music that you should have already heard. Pandora is how I initially heard, Justin Nozuka, Eric Hutchinson, Alex Parks, Melanie Fiona, the Weeknd and so many more. My absolute favorite station right now is Lauryn Hill with Justin Nozuka, Meshell Ndegeocello, Noah and the Whales and Mumford and Sons for variety. Can’t get that kind of variety on the radio.

7. Goal Setting– I enjoy putting a goal to be met in my planner and then following through. There is nothing like saying you will do something and completing it. I feel like a lot of people say they are going to do something and then they come up with a barrage of reasons why they just cant seem to complete their tasks.

8. Funny Animal Sweaters– I have finally procured the infamous J. Crew Navy French Hen Sweater. Thanks friends for your awesome detective work. I looooooooove animal sweaters. They are “classic with a hint of whimsy” like I would like to consider myself. Doesn’t that little sweater just sum me? I am now going to broaden my horizons to other cute sweaters.

9. Teen Non-Moms– MTV does enough work glorifying crazy girls who got pregnant in high school so I think I will exert my energies to encourage girls who are Teens and NOT pregnant. I think there is something so beautiful and refreshing about a young lady who is baby free. With the reality TV baby craze and the lax attitude on extra-marital birth, I would just like to say that I can respect a girl without a baby. I do not like when I am in class and a girl is receiving special treatment because she has to leave and tend to her baby. No she can not take a test at another time because her son has a doctors appointment. I didn’t knock her up. Why am I being punished?! If you are going to give her an extra day then dagnabit I want one too. She should of thought of how hard test would be before she got pregnant. I DID. And if you are a teen mother, this is nothing against you or your life choices, I can really respect a good teen mom who works hard. I just think that every once in a while, people who have made the right choice in life should be acknowledged.

10. Thrifting– Thrifting allows me to have clothes that I am either too cheap to pay for or simply unable to find. Some days my compulsion kicks in and I’m icked out by pre-owned belongings but then I remember the Purple Label Ralph Lauren shirt that I got for $3 and I calm down. The more $3 shirts I own, the less guilt I feel when I splurge on a shirt for $100. Plus sometimes there are clothes that are vintage which I always love. But keeping with the theme of this post, below are some of my favorite outfits that I totally slacked on posting before I went on Christmas break *sheepish face*

PS. Bet you suckers thought Harry Potter was going to be on this list. 😉 It’s in a league of it’s own. That’s another blog for another time.

 

Mellow Yellow Non-School Outfit
Ralph Lauren Oxford- Gifted
Thrifted Ralph Lauren Jeans- $3.15
Thrifted Brand New Vera Bradley with Wallet- $2
L.L. Bean Mocassins- Gifted
J. Crew Belt
 Camel and Leopard (Safari Outfit?)
Thrifted Black Ruffle Sleveless Button down $1.25
Thrifted Camel Pencil Skirt $2.25
Thrifted Blazer (Previously Posted)
Leopard Pumps- 15th birthday gift from mommy 🙂

I wore this to teach one day and one of my precious students -college, not the elementary- told me she thought I wasn’t wearing any bottoms. College freshman say the darndest things.

Undressed for Class
Thrifted Vintage Chanel Sweater- $3.25 (You’re super jealous.)
Thrifted J. Crew Pea Green Khakis- $2
Brand new Thrifted BCBG platforms $4

A New Year’s Resolution

It may not be a new year but it is a new year to me. Today is my birthday and whether people know it or not each year or my birthday is when I actually do my new years resolutions and then I just renew them when the rest of the world band wagons in January. There are some things that I would like to accomplish that are both tangible and intangible and I hope to accomplish them by August 8, 2013

1. Get a big kid’s job with a 401k.
2. Buy a Chevy Cobalt (Hopefully this is a one month thing).
3. See Lake Victoria from Kenya since I have had a chance to see it from Tanzania
4. Visit Victoria Falls
5a. Apply and get into medical school
5b.Dye hair purple if I get in.
6. Lose 20 lbs. I just want to be more toned really.
7. Change my residence to North Carolina.
8. Do not procrastinate on my school assignments.
9. Stand up for myself.
10. Have a soul moving, earth shaking, life changing experience.

Anxiety, Panic and Fear, Oh My!

Naturally, I am anxious. There are some days where I actually dream anxious. I wake from tight chest and knotted stomach. On the average day I can induce a panic attack in just 30 seconds. Keep in mind, this is my feeling of equilibrium; my everyday before there is actually anything wrong. I recognize anxiety is a sin. It’s a failure to trust that God will provide for tomorrow.

I rarely -i.e. never- tell people because its no one’s business but mine. But I think failing to mention it, I have been taking away from what God does for me and in turn, failed to give him full glory. One day, I may see someone about my anxiety but until this point, I have a reoccuring prayer. I do this prayer EVERYWHERE. I have done it behind the wheel of my car, in the research lab and in a bakery all without having to kneel or face Mecca or sit in a confessional booth. (I am not knocking other religions, I am just thankful that the God I serve is a God of convenience. He always meets me where I need him)

 “Hey God. It’s me. You are God. You are in control of my life and You alone hold my future. I trust You and I praise You in advance because I know that You will care for me. I trust that You will bless me and I know that you will not forsake me. Even if I can’t see it right now, I know that you have a plan. If anything that I am doing right now does not align with your plan, take it away and give me all of You in return. Thank you for your grace. Thank you in advance for your blessings. Amen.”

I know this is a lot to pray but I pray it ALOT. I try to pray real. But for days where my prayers are just not enough, I have to pull out the verses.

Matthew 6:27 Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Psalms 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety

Psalms 56:3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

Psalms 139:18 How precious are your thoughts to me O God, How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they should be more in number than the sands and when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalms 3:5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me

VK1 Best Week Ever.

Similar to the popular VH1 Show in the 2000’s, I am having the BEST WEEK EVER! Since returning to America, I have really been making the effort to focus my attentions on God and hearing His voice. Tanzania has increased my awareness of God’s blessings in my life and how He pours out his love for me anew each day. In saying that, God has gone far beyond any blessings that I thought he would have for me. In the past week, I fell into two new jobs, a volunteer opportunity, a shadowing opportunity, credit card approval and enough financial aid to pay for my last semester from senior year, my Africa trip and my entire year of public health. I am soooo thankful for how God sees fit to meet all of my needs, even needs I didn’t know I had. This past weekend we were invited to a church in Garner and it was AWFUL!!!!!! I wondered why I got out of bed for that. On the way home, we stopped at this house with my dream car for sale. The owner, a beautifully sweet older woman, coerced us into taking it for a test drive. We stayed and talked to her for hours and long story short, we may have found a potential church home. Whether I buy the car or not, we never would have stopped to talk to that woman if it wasn’t for it. God always knows what he is doing. His provision is there even when I don’t acknowledge His existence and because of it, I am having the best week ever.

Tanzania; a juicy contradiction

My people perish from a lack of knowledge.Hosea 4:6 Today marks day 5 of being back in the United States from a 3.5 week trip to Tanzania. From March 15-June 7, I along with 8 other students, traveled half way around the globe for the cultural experience of a life time. We stayed for one week in Shirati, shadowing in multiple rural clinics and district hospitals. We then spent the remainder of our stay in Ntagatcha in the City of Hope orphanage when we ran a mini health clinic for the children of the orphanage and did village visits to survey the everyman in order to find out a little more about their culture, particularly medically. What I gained from the experience was more than a missions trip, more than a class, more than a study abroad. What I gained was so real its almost tangible. So intimate was the experience that I am forever changed by it. Tanzania is the ultimate contradiction. Impoverished Masai mothers masquerading their desperation and intelligence in order to con visiting Americans out of a dollar. Children who shout “jumbo” and welcome visitors while being sassy behind their hands in hushed tones. Safaris that average $3k for visitors while natives families struggle to avoid doctors visit to avoid paying $4. Farmers who grow enough food to provide for a family of seven. A mother with ten pregnancies but only four children who welcomes unexpected American guest,dropping her daily to-do to answer invasive questions about those deceased children, mosquito nets and her knowledge of HIV, the whispered disease. Bucket showers and no electricity in a home but still a wealth of entertainment. Masai herders armed only with sticks two hundred yards from a pack of lions. Africa is a disturbing contradiction to me for all of those reasons and more. How can a country so beautiful and with such a wealth of resources fail to conquer the world, for a lack of better phrase. What it always comes back to me is Hosea 4:6. For my masters degree, my research is on the behavior behind HIV transmission and while I was in Tanzania, I had the opportunity to ask an abundance of uncomfortable questions in the name of my research. One of my questions was “Who do you think is more at risk of STD, men or women?”. And an educated young man explained to me that it was men because he was promiscuous. When I explained to him if a man is promiscuous he has the propensity to infect multiple women, meaning women are more at risk, he understood! People, often Americans and Europeans, have handicapped Africa. We give give give give to them; give them everything but knowledge. People are so ready to shove their religion down Africans throats in their haste to share their personal opinions that people fail to realize that they are in need of so much more than your faith. I have experienced their churches. Their faith is more real than ours could ever be. Each day they rise trusting in God’s provision for each and every one of their needs. So instead of sharing our religion, lets share with them our education, our knowledge of medicine, our lack of corruption in our government, the idea of a freaking supermarket! (I had to explain a supermarket as “a warehouse of food. like your markets but much. much. much. bigger”)I just think our focus should be different but enough of my soap box. Look at God’s grace!These are God’s people and the work of his hands.

24- Switchfoot

Twenty minutes ago, on Friday, March 13th 2012, I got back from the most life affirming concert I have ever been to. It was a Switchfoot concert. At that Switchfoot concert, there was a boy. This boy’s name was Jordan and it was Jordan’s birthday. Because it was Jordan’s birthday, the lead singer of Switchfoot, Jon, allowed Andrew to pick the next song on the set list. And it was 24. And I screamed. Loudly. Incredibly loud.

24 is hands down my favorite song in the entire world and is that song that is actually responsible for me being saved. I was raised in a Christian home with Christian parents and a good wholesome atmosphere but let’s face it. Being saved is not somewhere you live, its something you are. I heard the song 24 my sophomore year of college in a faith and popular culture class and it instantly changed my life.
If you have never heard the song 24, then just know that it is a song that goes down a list of different things and includes that there are 24 of them, i.e. “24 reasons to admit that I’m wrong. All my excuses still 24 strong. 24 finds me in 24th place” etc and so forth. The song is about being divided. The singer feels like they are being pulled into 24 different directions and at the end of the day he realizes that there is unity in himself through Christ Jesus. My favorite lyric of the song is

I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
You’re raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man

Is that not the most beautiful lyric ever. So knowing that Switchfoot was a Christian band, I looked it up. There are two versions of the second man listed in the Bible. One is an allusion to Jesus Christ. Adam is the first man and Jesus is the second. Death through Adam and life through Christ but that is something that every Christian semi knows

The second man is also about Jacob as indicated by the lyric “wrestle an angel for more than a name”. The story of Jacob’s name change touched my life in more way than one. Jacob refuse to stopping wrestling the angel and in turn, God, until he blessed him. Is that not the most beautiful message? Needless to say, tonight goes down as one of the best nights of my life thanks to Jordan, Chris O’Connor and CAB.

And to top it all off I was close enough to touch the hem of the lead singers garment. Swoon.

 

God is the Author of Color

So on my bucket list, is to see Aurora borealis, better know as, the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights are a natural light display in the higher altitudes. When I was younger I read a book about them and became sure that I wanted to get married during a time when the display could be seen. That was how deeply I was moved. (I felt a lot of things deeply as a child)

What was most appealing to me was the color show. Something so spectacular that it looked like a science fiction movie was REAL! It was true. God made it and if we sought to, we could experience it. So many different colors all at our disposal. My favorite part about it, is that they are only the colors that God allows us to see.

Before the foundation of the world, God got to choose how He wanted to set things up. He picked us and chose us by hand and while choosing us, He chose what color we would be and what color the world would be. As a painter in a past life, I have a real appreciation for God’s work. So many days I spent mixing paints to attain the perfect color necessary to match an emerald. So many nights looking for the right oil paint to turn my scarlet into vermillion. So many weekends of ombre-ing my fingernails. Little things that I use the colors that God created for. And what’s more, we only have access to colors that He saw fit to create. There are over 10 million colors in the world and He had the opportunity to create them. How amazing. God is the author of color and I am so jealous.

Literature and Tattoos but Mostly Literature.

So I have taken a little break from blogging. My real life is getting a little too intense to blog about and I don’t need the world in my legitimate issues. But during my time off, I have been really interested in getting a tattoo. I have wanted one since I was five (I know I was a strange kid) but at this point I don’t think I can do it. I have been really thinking about what I would want to get if I did decide to though. What is it that I enjoy so much that I would forever want to imprint it under my skin? Aside from my fiance and my mother hating tattoos, I have other problems with them. See the new problem with tattoos is that everybody and their mom has one. And not just has one, has one that they insist means something.

“Well my cousin’s step brother died and his name was Ray Ray so I got a Ray of sunshine because it stands for all the times we spent playing in the sun together”.

That is just nonsense. If I got a tattoo of every person I know that passed away and every personal tragedy in my life, I would have sleeves. So as a result, I am avoiding any kind of tattoo with “meaning” or “purpose”. So those are out of the question. But that doesn’t answer the conundrum of what I love so much and so dear that I am willing to coat my skin in ink to justify it. So I have really been thinking about it and what I always come back to is reading. Yes, that is dorky of me. Stop judging.

But on a deep personal level I looooove to read. I remember being three years old and seeing my older brother go to and from school with books as he learned to read and being just so frustrated and perplexed because I could not seem to get a handle on the hyrogliphics that was the English language. I cried for DAYS because Andrew could read and I couldn’t and this is so much more than my sibling rivalry with him. I remember my mom telling me, “It’s okay, when its your time, it’ll be your time” and she was right. Once I finally got it down, I took off running. In a time where friends were inconsistent and untrustworthy, books were always there for me. When teenage angst was piling up to my eyeballs, I could get lost in the world of someone else who was going through what I was going through. During a times of transition of my life, like coming to college, strong women like Hermione Granger and Hester Prynne and Baby Suggs were there to keep my company and reassure me that my life was not nearly as hard as I was making it out to be.

There is nothing that I love more and take for granted more than the ability to read. For every picture book that I skimmed and every AP English book that I spark noted, I apologize. I am at the point in my life now, that I read with voracity. Reading is now at the tips of our fingers, Nooks, Ipad, Kindle, all have the capability for Epubs, Amazon Cloud and Ebooks. You can even read on a first edition Ipod! This accessibility is a double edged sword though. Books are only this accessible if you are privileged. If I consider it long enough, I will burst into literal tears at the notion that there are children -and adults- in the world that have no idea how to read. So much information is inaccessible to them because they lack money and the education in order to read. In Hosea 4:6, the Bible says “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Whether you believe in the Bible or not, you have to understand that there is some truth to that. There is a reason why America, Japan, China, France, etc are world powers. In America alone, we have a 99% literacy rate. Even our most ignorant citizens can read.

And so, I concluded that if I were to get a tattoo that it would be literary in nature and I have narrowed it down to three things.

 

 “Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree was a book I read as a child and never forgot. The trees selfless love and devotion for the little boy and the story was something I hoped to emulate and personify in my own life. She so graciously gave of herself over and over until she had nothing left and even her nothing was something to the boy that she loved so dearly. I would love that as a gentle daily reminder.

 

 “This too shall pass”

 

I also like the Persian proverb “this too shall pass” and no that isn’t a Bible verse. So often, I allow myself to get worked up and anxious about events and people that I know are not going to be permanent fixtures in my life. Most events, positive or negative, will not last forever and if I can just have the clarity, in that exact moment, to realize that, I wouldn’t half the things in my life upset me the way they do.

 “People find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”- Dumbledore Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

And last but certainly not least, Harry Potter. This quote means so much to me. Aside from my obsession with Harry Potter right now, this quote lends itself to where I am in my personal life. With another transition period coming up, graduation and prayerfully into graduate school, everyone has their own tidbits of advice that need to be weighed through with discernment. This quote really speaks to me in that, I would rather have weighed that advice than have to be disgruntle if those people are correct in the future. So these are my tattoos and we will see if I actually do any or all of them.