Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Health...Finally!

Halloweentime at Disneyland.

Fun at the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin pecan cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. (It's unreal...)

Pumpkin carving. (Designed by me, carved by Nate.)

Last year, Halloween marked the beginning of a painful (not to mention unsightly) 3-month long saga of major dermatological drama. (Read about it here.)

The Halloween before that, I felt like a zombie…sick with swine flu and literally bedridden for nearly two weeks. (Read about it here.)

But you know what…I feel GREAT today! And, as you can see, I enjoyed the month of October celebrating all things fall and festive.

Healthy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


According to a Strengthsfinder tests, one of my strengths is “Input.” Here’s the description for quite a nondescript strength:

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information, words, facts, books, and quotations, or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

This, in a nutshell, is completely, wholly, and entirely accurate as it applies to me—it explains my desire to see the world, go to museums, read books, find quotes…I want to know the why’s, who’s, and how’s of the world. It also, incidentally, provides pretty sound reasoning to legitimize the lifestyle of every hoarder. (I am not a hoarder. I am a collector. Of important ideas! Of things wonderful and valuable and necessary!)

And I think this might help you understand why I am so completely obsessed with a little website called Pinterest. Pinterest provides virtual pinboards on which to link (er, “pin”) whatever my little heart desires. With Pinterest, I can…

find amazing recipes that I have every intention of trying out (someday…), like these roasted pumpkin cupcakes with Mexican chocolate buttercream frosting.
I can find ideas for all of the fabulous parties that I intend on being famous for and throwing regularly in the future, like a Jane Austen-themed soiree.
I can link to instructions for unbelievable hairstyles that I’m waiting to try once my hair grows out, like this hair bow. (Unreal, right?!)

I can find inspiration for interior d├ęcor so that I can style my future Baroque castle in the opulent style that I plan to live in.

And, of course, I can start planning the vibe and organization of my future personal library.

But seriously, Pinterest is extremely useful. Although I am not a gourmet chef, interior designer, party planner, wedding coordinator, or crafty mom, I could be. I’ve actually gotten a lot of fashion ideas and inspired thoughts from the words, photos, and art I’ve found. And the great thing is, I don’t have to ever throw any of it away…cat carcasses and rodent feces will not be found in the bowels of my collections. They’re all safely organized on my virtual pinboards…on Pinterest.

If you’d like to see my pins, you can find them at

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Das Boots

Scarves, boots, and snuggly sweaters...fall fashion is the greatest. Yet, although I am an adept at shopping, boots had always been the one item I couldn't seem to get a handle on. Like fedoras (or as I call them, "cool-girl hats"), the endless styles, shapes, and colors of this particular type of footwear had paralyzed me from ever purchasing any. Heeled or flat? Slouchy or structured? Brown, gray, or black? Buckled or Zippered? Ankle or knee-high? These are all serious decisions. How is a girl to choose that one perfect pair?

And then, I found them. (Or did they find me?!) At Target. For about thirty bucks.

Although the men in my life have given them mixed reviews (Dad: "Oh, ready for that excursion to the Australian outback, I see..." Nathan: "Finally, a place to keep your blaster, young Jedi..."), my stylish girlfriends have confirmed their cuteness, as does the feeling I experience when I wear them with, oh, everything.

Cue Nancy Sinatra. These boots are going to do a lot of walkin' this fall...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Breathing Books

For about a year, I've been neglecting my beloved books. A sacred hobby, reading somehow (and quite tragically) fell to the wayside during a busy year when it undoubtedly would have done my soul well. I usually read 20+ books a year. This year I've read six. Pitiful...

I've recently noticed how much I miss my books and have been reading a lot more. I'm reading four books right now, and all of them are non-fiction; both of these facts are very strange for me.

Tonight I've been reading in Thoreau's Walden. It's my dad's old copy, published in 1960. You can imagine how great its pages smell. I nearly cracked the binding clean in half when I opened it. It has sentences underlined in red pen and little notes in some of the margins. It's an amazing copy. Here's a bit that I underlined:

A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips;--not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.

Wow. Reading is the greatest.

Now, back to my books...

Monday, October 17, 2011

To Thine Own Self be True...But How?

to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. --ee cummings

I first happened upon this quote in high school, and I always liked theory. There's obviously something freeing and romantic and right about being exactly who you are, societal norms be damned. Screw punctuation rules, ee cummings! Forget the status quo! Seize your individuality! Carpe diem!

Some of us long to be ourselves and strive to explore our real identity, but we don't know how. Where do we even look for that, and how do we know we're being ourselves? Where does our identity come from? Is it what we do, what we have, what people say and think about us?

What if we WANT to be like everyone else? We've all heard, "To thine own self be true." But what if we don't want to be who we really are? What if we think being ourselves means being hopeless, confused, hurt, ashamed, ugly, a failure? Maybe there isn't freedom in being ourselves. Maybe being exactly who we are is the scariest thing of all. We are constantly validating--or undermining--our worth through things that are not sources of Life.

As Christians, many of us feel like we've got this identity thing down, but even in the "Christian world," I see conformity and comparison and competition. The identity game might not seem as worldly because it's based less on possessions and money, but it's often just as much determined by the esteem of others, reputation, and appearance. If you've been on more missions trips, clocked more hours serving, are in more small groups or Bible studies, or, heck, work at a church, then clearly you must be more pious, no? Clearly Jesus loves YOU more, right?

Carl Jung wrote, “The acceptance of oneself is…the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ—all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself—that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness—that I myself am the enemy who must be loved—what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering…We refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”

Apart from God there is no life. No truth. No real identity or worth or value. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by who God is and what he has done for us. Jesus isn’t the most important thing to find our identity in; he’s literally the only thing to find our identity in. The lies that we've identified ourselves with, the broken parts of our hearts and minds, the places of weakness--God can step in and heal and breathe new life and replace self-loathing with self-acceptance. And we have to claim that life...seize it, protect it, and guard it, because it's in THAT truth that we are able to find ourselves, to be exactly who we are, and to give glory to God. God has given us words, influence, heart, and are we to use them as expressions of who he is? That, friends, is the journey...

And I would call it a journey and not a battle, ee cummings, because although it takes time and effort and prayer and community and God and self-awareness to not compare and not feel discouraged, we are not fighting for victory. We're journeying in freedom from a victory that's already been won.

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28.