Mantras: Grace and Hours

November 19, 2014

There are a few mantras I've been holding on to dear life this past year... and I wanted to write them down and remember them and maybe share them, in case they help someone else. 

In sharing with my sister about the many, many trials I've been through this year -- my lord, This Year -- she said something that has stuck with me so fervently I wish I could paint it in gold foil and plaster it on my wall (if someone wants to take that idea, please do, I don't have a creative bone in my body). 

The more grace you receive, 
the more gracious a person you will become.

This Year has been about Grace, for me. About reaching that moment in the dark, buried under my covers -- or occasionally quite truly on my knees -- where I realize how helplessly I need Grace. You think you know Grace from Bible Study songs and Pinterest quotes until it really is quite literally the last straw and you encounter it in a way that you never imagined, with a passion and a desperation. You realize how utterly dependent you are on this Grace. 

This Year has been all about Grace for me in the sense that I have had to hold my hands up to everyone I know -- God, my sisters, my friends, my professors, my employers -- and ask for Grace. Acknowledge my broke spirit and my inability to get through it. And just acknowledge. Not even ask. Not even be able to point to what I need or what they can do to help. Just to point out "I can't. Help?"

And while it's been such a trying process, I have been so, so fueled by this idea that in accepting grace, I am becoming a more gracious person. The trials are hard, but I squirm with excitement that day by day I am being made into the type of woman who will be GRACIOUS. Who will be there to support others with GRACE. Who will have wrinkled hands to hold younger ones in trouble, and an open heart to hear out her friends and help them with what she has. I get so excited. So that's mantra one. 

Mantra two came to me this past weekend. And while it was said in the spirit of much alcohol and excitement and dancing and happy happy happy, it hit me on a level I didn't expect. The person who said it, obviously, has no idea what an impact it made and wasn't trying to be profound. But it hit me and I held onto it and I stored it deeply next to my other mantras to think about later. 

What if an hour isn't enough?

Ahhhhhh. I think it was just the change of tone, or perspective from "we only have an hour left!" that struck me. It's such a different spirit, even if it's the same words. 

It made me want to take this and apply it to my whole life. How often do I find myself with little chunks of time, thinking 'this won't be enough! I can't do anything with this little bit!' But my goodness... what if I approached everything with so much passion and so much excitement and exuberance that it became "WHAT IF THIS DAY/HOUR/OPPORTUNITY ISN'T ENOUGH?!" What if this moment isn't enough to soak up all the greatness and fullness of the experience I'm currently in because there's just so, so much to be grateful for and take and store. It holds for me infinite excitement. More excitement than a tribal print scarf, even -- and that's a whole lot of joy for me. 

Anyways. Those are my mantras, of late. 

What are your mantras to get through life lately?

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8 Questions to Ask Your Uber Driver

November 3, 2014

It was 1:25 a.m., and Grown Up Cindy Loo Whoo was ready to go home. She felt the warm buzz of happiness and couch-dancing accomplishment, that would soon teeter on white girl wasted if she stayed out. So, like a good Cindy Loo would do, she called herself an Uber. 
Now, if you give Grown Up Cindy Loo Whoo an Uber, she'll probably want to ask him the following:

1. Does everyone you meet bring a snack pack with them?

She will say this with a mouth full of street pizza and breadsticks, and when he says 'no, you're the first,' she'll loudly claim 'THAT'S DUMB. I NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT A SNACK PACK (#truth).' After she swallows half a breadstick at once, she'll probably want to ask:

2. How many girls who you pick up want to make out with you?

And she'll probably not wait for an answer before launching straight into the nitty-gritty:

3. Are you a Republican?

4. What do you really do?

5. Do they train you to talk to drunk people?

At this point, the Uber driver will have hit a red light, and he'll have to tap on the breaks. Cindy Loo's snack pack will go flying, BUT, thanks to the Halloween Gods, her ranch cup will land perfectly upright on the center console. Grown Up Cindy Loo Whoo will proclaim this is a sign. When pressed for detail about what sign she'll say she doesn't know but she's just very excited that Uber drivers keep their cars so clean so that the five-second rule still applies. Then she'll go on to the next set of questions:

6. My alley recently experienced our first instance of graffiti. Right there, on that garage! Look! Should I be concerned? It's hot pink. 

The Uber driver will confirm that yes, she should probably be concerned. Grown Up Cindy Loo will follow up with:

Grown Up Cindy Loo asks deep questions of life and Uber.

7. Do you think graffiti is a gateway crime? 

At this point, they will have safely arrived at her door. Cindy Loo Whoo will decide that now is an excellent time to confront something she hasn't wanted to in the past 12 hours: a pesky hangnail that is held on by her shellac. It hurts. It snags her tinsel. And it's time to do something about it. 
As soon as the Uber driver turns on the overhead light so she can collect her belongings, Grown Up Cindy Loo Whoo will shove her finger under his eyeballs and ask the eighth, and final question of the night, 



And then my friends, with one bleeding finger, Cindy Loo will gather her tinsel, dramatically rip a piece off and tell the Uber driver "this souvenir is for you" and exit the car. 
If you give Cindy Loo Whoo an Uber driver, these are the eight questions she will ask him. 
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Life Lately // (and #Blogtober)

October 27, 2014

5 Blogtober Prompts:
  • Biggest fear: Never getting married. Happy Monday.
  • Dream Vacation: My grad school best and I are going to the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC for Spring Break so I'd say that's pretty much a dream vacation. I've never gone anywhere sunny or warm for a SB and I am ready for some "local cocktails" and beach hair.
  • Go-to beauty product: Mascara. Sometimes I see women at meetings who don't wear mascara, and I get super jealous that they can just walk out the house like whut up I got dark eyelashes (naturally). Then I feel the ghost of Sheryl Sandberg standing over me and immediately feel guilty for looking at their makeup and not hearing their words.
  • Favorite book: East of Eden, Steinbeck. This could be a post in itself. Go. Buy. Now.
  • Who'd play me in a movie: Rachel McAdams. Leighton Meester on standby. 

4 Things I Did This Weekend:

  • Got stiffed by a walk-in 12-top. They spent $400 and left me $20. Happy Monday. 
  • Went to a bonfire with co-workers and laughed too hard and snuggled too hard (sue me I'm a touchy drunk) and went down a fond memory lane with Dr. Pepper and Vodka in a coffee cup. You can take the girl out of the sorority, but not the sorority out of the girl. 
  • Built a leaf pile with my two favorite humans.

3 TV Shows I Watched This Weekend:

  • Parenthood
  • ...and I'm out. Shit. 

2 To-Do's For This Week:

  • Get my oil changed. ASAP.
  • Go to bank. Put money in. Immediately take out in form of rent check.

1 Pinterest Truth:

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Dear Cosmo (on Abortion)

October 23, 2014

Have you had a chance to read Cosmo's latest article on abortion?

In it, they interview five anonymous women about their choice. I think it's important, and I am pleasantly surprised that Cosmo -- of all the "news" outlets -- took the initiative to start the conversation.

However. I believe that Cosmo missed an opportunity to craft the conversation in the right direction. Their five women are all extremely one sided. All five expressed a healthy post-procedure experience, with little feelings of depression, remorse or isolation. They all said that they 'didn't want to talk about it, and didn't need to.' Society was telling them they should feel a certain way post-procedure, and they didn't.

Good for you. However, there are women who do have a hard time with it, and do need to talk about it. Cosmo had an opportunity to express that all post-procedure emotions are valid, not just highlight ones that go against the expected. I wish Cosmo had presented a more varied array of experiences.

I applaud Cosmo for starting the conversation, and I encourage all women -- whether they found it the right choice, wrong choice, easy, difficult, life-affirming or life-altering -- to join the conversation. Every experience is important and every experience is valid. I appreciate that there are women who are trying to push back against society's imposed expectations, but there is a danger in pushing back against society that we create new expectations and impositions amongst fellow women (this applies to all minority groups 'pushing back' against the larger, societal forces on a variety of issues). You may not have felt guilt or remorse, but don't pressure women who did experience those emotions to feel abnormal. Enough of telling others what they should or shouldn't feel. Instead, let's just have an open conversation where "should" isn't the main verb.

Have you read the article? Will you?

24 Hours in Baltimore

October 20, 2014

If you give a girl 24 hours in Baltimore, she will probably:

1. Attend a board retreat at a super sweet hotel. 

2. Solidify her reputation to the new board members as "the girl who loves food the most" while delighting in a Cuban dive-bar's epic cuisine. 

3. Make some time to be a good Catholic tourist and visit the first Cathedral in America.

4. Take some selfies with gorgeous old buildings in the background, while wondering if the selfie is really the safest choice given the number of cracked-out looking people standing nearby. 

5. Freak out when her best roomsicle and lover face (and her husband) drive up for dinner at ze best place. You can sit outside on the bay with heaters! It's stunning and gorgeous and so fun and only made my better by the company of two of my fondest loves (one fond love, one fond love's husband).

6. Crush crabs with mallets! Remain hungry after working so hard for food. Order brownie to tide you over on plane.

7. Delight in impromptu visits and dinners, which reassure you that some people are just meant to be friends forever. 

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have you ever been to Baltimore?

Are you Brave Enough?

October 18, 2014

I was thinking the other day, as the calendar hit that date. Thinking about a year ago. And if I had known, a year ago, what was to come... Would I have made the same choice? Would I have walked into that restaurant? Would I have ordered that same meal? Would I have smiled as brightly? If I knew what was coming, would I do it again?

I thought of those silly icebreaker questions, like "If you were a superhero, what power would you choose?" And all those crazy people who say "to see the future!"

...Because if I could see the future, would I be brave enough to keep going? To do it anyway, knowing full well the pain that was coming? There is joy, to be sure. But some seasons of life are harder then others, and if you were a superhero you wouldn't be able to choose which season you foresaw and which one you didn't. You'd see it all -- the good, the bad, the ugly, the future.

I don't know if I would have the strength to keep going if I could see the future. I think there is a mercy in each day being a new slate. There is a mercy in not knowing what season of life is next, and whether it's mostly good or mostly trying.

Which leads me to believe that people who see the future must be incredibly brave. God. God must be incredibly brave -- the bravest, in fact. To see the future and be able to gently lead us through it, whispering encouragement along the way.

If you could see the future, would you want to?
Are you brave enough to see the future and walk the path regardless?

Life Lately: Bad Dates and Kleenex and Stuff

October 14, 2014

Creak, creak, creak. Do you hear that keyboard? That's me, your little old pal. 

So. What have I been up to?

Well. I've been sick. 

There's this gross nastiness going around Michigan right now and I just really don't appreciate it (but as long as it's not ebola, I won't haterate). This is my first time being sick-sick while living on my own and I have to say... I. Freaking. Loved. It. 

I wish I was as cute as this cat when I was sick.

When you're sick and you live with others, you waste so much energy trying to make sure you're cleaning up after yourself and preventing them from getting sick too. When you live alone and you're sick, all bets are off. Picking up that sweater? No. Containing kleenexes? No. Doing dishes? No. You just lay there on the couch and you get better, little thang. 

In other words, I learned I am the grossest human alive when I am sick because I stop cleaning. (But Ang I cleaned, so don't be afraid to come over for the MinProj tonight)

Well. I went on a date. 

Being sick and all, I'm sure I was a huge gem. I didn't want to go by the time it actually came, but I put my big girl panties on and went for it. I guess I thought it would be good practice? 

Things got awkward when he was all "I graduated in 1995. What were you doing then?" And I was all "Uhhhh I was 5." 

So that was that. It didn't seem like an important age difference, until we pictured him asking a five year old out to dinner. 

In other words, I learned that bar lights are super tricky and there are in fact 37 year old men who still wear baseball hats backwards and Marilyn Monroe t-shirts (eww). 

How have you all been?
What stellar things have you been learning lately?

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Letter to Myself in 10 Years -- Blogtober14

October 9, 2014

Oh hey there, self. 

How are you? Is this voice from the past scaring the shit out of you while you're changing a diaper or soaking in the last minutes of child-free nap time? Sorry for the interruption. Hold that baby tight for me, okay? 

How are things going? I'm assuming everything worked out in the end, just like everyone said it would be. That you finally did that first interview where they asked when you 'made it' and you had no idea what to say. Because you couldn't quite pinpoint the moment where it all suddenly clicked and started rolling (just like they said it would). Did you wonder when you got old enough to be giving professional advice in interviews? Did you smile kindly at the blogger interviewing you, remember when that was you? 

Do you and your husband still hold that 'welcome-home' kiss just a second too long? I hope so. Even though the kids scream now, they'll appreciate it in the future when they realize that they had a pretty good example of two people making 'love' work. 

What are you doing this week? Raising mad fundraising funds and saving the world? Chasing children? Snuggling up close to your husband? This week, when you were 24, you: went to an Eric Church concert, worked 40+ hours a week at three jobs, went to grad school for 9 hours a week, popped wine and ice cream pint tops with girlfriends and giggled way too late into the night, and went on a date. Oh and you tried cooking something new for dinner that came in a box to your doorstep. I'm tired, too. I'm glad your life has slowed down. 

Well, have fun. That dress looks gorgeous on you. I hope your fundraising event goes well, and I hope you never tire of the tingle from your husband touching your arm in a crowded room. We did it, baby girl. 

And just remember, everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it's not the end. 

Where will you be in 10 years?

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Snapshot - Favorite Instagram Pics

October 4, 2014

As soon as I discovered Instagram, it was my favorite go-to social media account. I love the emphasis on just pictures, less words (cough cough incoherent Facebook rambling statuses). Here are a few of my favorite instagram snaps.

You can follow me on instagram @autumnlee816.

Move Over, Carrie: Lies From Your Lover

I chose an old school word, "lover," for this post. People don't take "lovers" anymore. Or maybe they do and maybe that's a conversation for another post, and maybe the discussion of the definition itself is for another post. But here's this post, written somewhere between a latte and a midterm. 
It's not really any secret (is it) that I got myself into some hot water these past few (9) months. Water that got hotter the longer it went on, that type of fine increase that you don't notice because it's so gradual it barely feels like a change at all. Until suddenly you're standing in a hot tub of burning hot water that's scalding your entire body. That, my friends, is where I've been. And I'm just now sorting it out. Taking that time after you've stepped out, after the heat has finally steamed it's way out of every pore of your body where you can breathe and say the fuck was that. 

So anyways. Back to lovers. And the lies that lovers tell you. Because that's what they didn't show in SATC, when Big and Carrie are lying in their hotel beds -- sheets rumpled, cigarettes (say no, kids!), and disheveled hair. They make it seem glamorous. They make it seem sexy. They make it seem like something that whips you away in a hurricane of emotion that cannot be refuted. But they don't show you the rumpled lives and the burned emotions and the disheveled souls. Because it's not natural -- as much as SATC and Mad Men say it is -- to be engaged in this type, this lover-relationship. 
Here are the lies I've worked out so far. 

That it is private and separate. No humans exist in a silo, and that is just a fact. "A private life is a happy life," but a private life is not a secret life. There is a difference. And at first you will be oh, so comforted by the idea of things that happen with the sacred spaces of four walls or four bed posts or two sheets. Enchanted, charmed. But things that are worth it, things that are healthy... do not need to be kept secret. 

That you are an angry woman, and that is wrong. You may be jealous and angry and hurt, but that is not wrong given the circumstance. We're not meant to share our partners, no matter what TLC/Mad Men/The World might show us. Don't let your lover convince you that that nasty, bitter person is you. You're reacting to circumstances. 

That it is only physical. Humans exist in tandem between the emotional and physical. You can't remove one. It's not possible. Both of you are always looking for something else. It might be companionship, shelter, human touch and warmth, emotional support, a buddy to eat with, an ear to listen... but there's always something else. Ladies, you are always, always more than just a physical commodity they lust after. There is so much damage done across the world by tearing women down to get them to believe that their entire worth is found in their body. That's a lie. 
That you're in control. And I'll leave it with that. Because that is worthy of it's own, Part 2. 
What lies did you hear (from lovers or others)?
Is it ever possible to have a lover-type relationship 
truly as glamorous as TV makes it seem?
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My Dream Job [and Goals Link up!]

October 2, 2014

Helene in Between Blogtober

When I was a child, my dream job was to be Diana Sawyer. I once read an article about how Diana Sawyer's husband was a famous newscaster in LA and she was a famous newscaster in NY, and they only saw eachother once a year (I have no idea if this is/was actually true). This is why I wanted to be Diane Sawyer. Because she cared so much about her career, that she only needed to see her husband once a year. 

I would work it into dinner conversation on the daily about how independent and advanced Diane was for her work-ethic. How she didn't need a man to complete her, bah humbug! I wanted to be a hot, sexy, powerful, respected Diana Sawyer with a husband I saw once a year. 

Now, my dream job is to be a marketing communications executive for Catholic Charities. This is something I am super passionate about. I am a convert to Catholicism, and I have heard many, many criticisms of the Catholic church during my little Catholic lifespan. Here's the thing, there are many, many beautiful things about the Church. One of them is our strong, and continuing, tradition of philanthropy to EVERYONE -- regardless of faith, race, gender, etc. So, if I can help PROMOTE that and help UNIFY people around the idea of CHARITY without bias... then that is a win at the end of the day, to me. 

Not Entirely Perfect

                                             --- SEPT. GOALS LINK UP ------

My September goal was to work out two times a week (slow and steady wins the race!). I actually succeeded! A huge motivator for me was losing weight for my friend's wedding, as well as that whole bra incident. Now that I've purchased new bras, I feel extra motivated to keep up the workouts because THOSE THINGS ARE EXPENSIVE AND I MUST FIT IN THEM FOR A LONG TIME, NO CHANGES. 

Anyways, I hope to continue this healthy trend indefinitely (forever?). My only concern is now that it's getting dark out, I don't get as much cardio in because I don't feel super safe running around downtown after class in the dark. Hmm... guess it's time to start using that gym pass? Plus, as classes, papers, midterms and tests start piling up... I know workouts will be the first thing to go from my packed schedule.

Any advice on how to keep fitness a priority?
Who did you want to be growing up?

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Walk With Me: Philanthropy and ArtPrize

September 29, 2014

You know my heart swells for my city of Grand Rapids with more pride than a momma bear for her baby bear. As one of the most philanthropic cities in the country (Google that shit!), Grand Rapids definitely fueled my passion for working in the nonprofit sector by introducing me to the spirit and potential of philanthropy. That's why I was so pleased this year to see so many pieces in Art Prize advocating for philanthropic organizations and humanitarian needs. What a truly unique way to present issues and raise awareness. Here are a few of my (so far) favorite philanthropic pieces in Art Prize this year. 

Also, this time I wasn't super lazy -- so you can click the hyperlinks to see more (professional) photos of each piece and hear from the artist themselves! 

ArtPrize Grand Rapids philanthropy

1. #U
This piece was sponsored by the Michigan Suicide Prevention Coalition. #U asks visitors to stop and think about what makes U special, irreplaceable and and beloved in this world.

ArtPrize Grand Rapids philanthropy

2. The Scarlet Cord
I am the first to admit that I don't know a thing about the depth or scope of the huge issue that is the sex slave trade. This piece was set up as a walk through shipping crate, where many of these captured women and children are kept. Images of women and children, starting at the beginning with images of fear and shame and ending with images of regained freedom and growing confidence, lead the visitor through the crate. Some of the pieces were red thread wrapped around nails to create 3-dimensional pictures (crazy talented!) and others were pencil. I give special props to this piece for including a concrete action step and poster of "What can YOU do" at the end. Every visitor was also given a matching red thread bracelet to raise awareness.

ArtPrize Grand Rapids philanthropy

This piece is also about finding the light in the darkness. A colonnade of 20, 30-foot columns is splashed with a rainbow of colors and inspirational quotes. Sponsored in part by the Salvation Army of West Michigan. I loved the joy and triumph in this piece!

It's still my favorite, and raises awareness for a local nonprofit working with inner-city youth. You can read more about my first stop by this unique, interactive piece here.

These stunning, stunning portraits were taken at a local homeless shelter. The artist's statement reminds us that these faces are so "common" and "everyday" that we would pass by them on the street without a second look, not thinking of the struggles they are going through. It's a really powerful portrait series, and especially pertinent as Grand Rapids struggles to reconciliate the growing city condos with the shelters that have always been there. With a clash of two people, this reminds us that we're all human underneath and we're all fighting our own struggles in this city. 

Which piece interests you the most?
Do you have a cause or nonprofit organization that you're passionate about?

Walk With Me

Currently, Grand Rapids is hosting an amazing, annual event called Art Prize. Art takes over the city, and they have some insane (300+) pieces of art of all kinds, sizes, etc etc. I'm not very art literate, but even I know it's cool. So on the (potentially) last nice day of summfall, I chose to walk to class and pop into every Art Prize venue I passed.

If you had taken a walk with me, these are what I would have pointed out as my favorites.

1. #56820 
I just love all things abstract and bright. This artist did a great job of explaining (and showing) why red is such a powerful color in Chinese culture. Red represents the warmth of human relationships, pulling you together while also pulling you up in excitement.

This might be my favorite. This artist works with inner city kids in a local nonprofit. She asked them to write down what inspires them to ruse above their circumstances, reach upward. The envelopes are arranged in an arrow mosaic to represent the message of rising UPWARD, and it's interactive so visitors can pull out the stories and read them. It was really touching.

I don't have photos of this one because honestly it was so large and so emotional, I didn't really know how to capture it on my phone. The man who put this together lived in Gaza as the only Western journalist for three years. He reconstructed a war zone in the upper level of a church, so when you walk in all the light is immediately shut out. There are concrete and plywood fragments jutting out in all angles, and then mounted onto them are captivating, illuminated portraits of individuals who live in Gaza.  It also has multimedia elements in different stations showing interviews from Gaza residents and videos of daily life. His goal is to show that amidst all this war, there is immense beauty and strength in these people -- people who just dream of an ordinary day and ordinary life.

This one depicts Lady Liberty as the National Security Administration, and is created to showcase the tension between civil liberty and civil protection. The globe she is holding has an iPad which flashes tweets that are tagged by NSA keywords. 

What piece of art sounds most interesting to you? 
Does your city have a similar art festival?

Top 10 Reasons to Marry My Best Friend

September 25, 2014

Where to begin? When I first met you, you were super quiet. But you were always down for hanging out, which I loved. And you had the healthy love for over sized floor pillows as me, so that was a huge plus. It was long after we rode an elephant together and hid your first alcohol water bottle in a closet that I knew we would get along well.

 Wittle babies all moved in together!

And much to my sheer fortune, good luck and #blessed, we were randomly assigned to live together in the house sophomore year. And I don't really know when we became inseparable or best friends and that makes me happy. And thanks to those formative, blissful years I happen to know quite a few of your best traits and skills that Mike is getting. Mike, your wife is incredible at:

-Locating tiny wine
-Vodka pong
-Wednesday night rules
-Sneaking quietly
-Dancing her face off
-Completing someone's half-finished crafts
-Dressing sexy, but professionally
-Surviving bitches who think they're Sarahleeza Palin-Rice, Jr.

And then there are some other things your wife is wonderful at, that are probably her greatest assets. 

Your wife is amazing at pillow talk. She is the best person to tell the minute details of your day to, and there is no detail that needs be spared. High, low, good, bad, boring...she just really is the best person to end the day with. And I know this, because she was my pillow talk buddy for three years. So cherish that, and know that at the end of a REALLY good pillow talk, she'll need an emergency run to McDonald's. 

Your wife is good to grow with. Amanda grows in steady and quiet ways, which is both comforting and encouragement. I remember walking along the beach with her when we were weighing taking jobs at Pi Phi, and she said "There's no safer place to grow." And there is no safer person to grow with. 

Your wife never does anything halfway. Whether it's running sorority finances or quilting or biology or... anything. She takes everything to the maximum in the most surprising, unforeseen way. So. You may think that you know what a loyal, devoted best friend for life you're getting, but if her track record shows us anything it's that she is going to take that and blow your wildest expectations. 

So. That's all. I adore one of you (Amanda) and tolerate the other one of you (gross, Mike). I'm just grateful I never had to create a Pavlovian chart to curb your psychotic, possessive tendencies (but it's never too late, is it?). 

Wittle babies all weady for mawwiage!

Anyways. Off to pack (jokes for days)! 
See you soon, my lovers. And happy wedding!

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Things I Can't Not Buy (Splurge Alert)

September 23, 2014

Yesterday, I had to suck it up and do that thing that ruins your day because it just never works out the way you want it to: bra shopping. Specifically, strapless bra shopping (I know, my face was screwed up in a disgusted look the whole time too, I feel you girl). My motto: in and out. Get the first strapless bra I see and just beeline it to the register. 

So I ask the perky little shop lady where my size is. 

She looks skeptically. 

"Have you lost a lot of weight lately?"

"Ummm...not that I know of?"

"We need to remeasure you."

"Oh umm...are your hands warm? Are you a trained professional? Is that measuring ribbon made of satin, my ladies are sensitive." Or something incoherent came out. 

Turns out all those once a week yoga trips and rage running to rap music and eating lots of vegetables has actually been working, because this little bitch lost FOUR INCHES. At first I was all UNICORNS AND CELEBRATE and then I was all FUCK THIS SHIT, BRAS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE. For real. That's what PopSugar doesn't tell you:  Weight Loss Is Expensive. 

So I sucked it up and bought some new pairs (and a strapless that I begged for them to overnight because #wedding #helpme). But here are some things that I will drop serious dollars on and not complain:

1. Skin Care
One time, I saw those gross pictures of two twins next to each other and the left was all "she wore sunscreen and washed her face" and the other was "she went tanning and fake baking" and I threw up. The saleswoman at the counter was like "You can pay to keep your skin healthy now, or you can pay to try and correct it later." And now I always shell out ze money for quality creams. 

2. Large, abstract turquoise paintings
Yesterday my neighbor left her door open, and I literally ran into the wall because she had a stunning abstract, turquoise painting above her couch. I waited on my stoop until she came back up with her laundry and then I didn't even beat around the bush. I was all "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT PAINTING, I'M OBSESSED, THANKS FOR LEAVING YOUR DOOR OPEN."

And then I immediately went inside and bought the exact same painting. Creeper. 

It's coming in 3-5 days, thank you World Market.

3. Eating Out
This is the most frivolous of my expenditures, for sure. But I will literally never not shell out for good food. I. Love. Food. If I do not profess my love of a good meal at least once a day, something is wrong. I generally gchat my friends at around 9:30, 9:45 to start talking about lunch because FOOD. 

A good meal, in my opinion, is always worth it. Oh thrift spenders, I wish I had your appetite control. 

What areas do you always splurge on?
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Move Over, Carrie: On Turning Heads

September 20, 2014

Move Over, Carrie is a when-I-feel-like-it series inspired by taking the wit, 
wisdom and discussion of SATC one step farther. It's your relationships, your life... today.
I was leaving a bar the other night when I caught a man staring at me. Just staring. He was about forty years old. Nondescript. Normal, suburban male. My reaction was immediate fear. I was clearly heading for the door, keys in hand and his stare stopped me in my tracks. Was it safe to leave alone? There were a lot of people between me and the parking garage... but was that enough?
I decided to keep heading out, but when I turned around to look both ways before crossing the street I saw that he had left to. I started getting anxious, really anxious. I quickened my steps, and was shocked when the man passed me on my left -- accompanied by two female friends. He slowed down as he passed and said, "That dress fits you like a glove. You look gorgeous." His two female friends smiled, and then they were off. 
And my first reaction was 
I forgot I could turn heads. 
And that made me sad. 
I felt sad for myself that I had forgotten I was capable of turning heads. That deep down, I had forgotten I was beautiful. There are so many things women think of now when they hear the word "beauty." 
Beauty is fit. 
Beauty is strong. 
Beauty is skinny. 
Beauty is natural. 
Beauty is healthy. 
Beauty is classic. 
Beauty is timeless. 
Beauty is trendy. 
Beauty is neutrals. 
Beauty is... you. 
And that's what we forget the most. I've read so many Pinterest quotes that I quite literally had convinced myself that I couldn't be beautiful because I wasn't fit or strong enough, and I certainly wasn't working on those two things so therefor I couldn't possibly be beautiful or on my way to beautiful. Other women do this unfortunate mind warp too, but maybe with other things -- not skinny, not curvy, not something. 
And I felt sad that a woman's first reaction to catching a man looking at her is to be scared. To instantly assume that another human is either going to hurt you or degrade you... that's sad. 
Wasn't that really one of the most important lessons of Carrie, after all? For all her crazy outfits... wasn't it about walking into a room and having the class and composure and confidence to know that you were possible of turning heads? Not in a conceited way, but a confident way of knowing your own skin and being comfortable in it. Of appreciating yourself from the inside out, in a way that radiates across the room. 
I hope I remember this. 

What distracts your from remembering the real definition of beauty? 

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Frands, Sweet Frands

September 17, 2014

Finding a good wingman these days is impossible. Finding my once on-point flirting skills these days is equally impossible.

I ventured out with some most beloved cohorts/friends/classmates/actual friends for some drinks after class.
Let's start by saying, I was wearing some killer shoes. Snakeskin ballet flats with yoga pants? I was clearly at the top of my game and ready to mingle. Fortunately for us, we had a super hot waiter and I was instantly like "let me practice being back on the market with your fiiiiine flannel-clad self!"

 I turned to my friend Chris, desperate for a wingman.

"What do you want me to do? 
Drop the napkin by your shoe so he'll pick it up 
and start talking about snakeskin?" 
Ummmm if you think that will work...yes.
He told me this wouldn't work (but I still don't believe him). 
I even suggested maybe we could all drop our napkins at the same time 
(which would look super weird, but also help make sure I wasn't hitting on a gay guy again),
 but Chris still said no.

So I took it on myself.

He came over to fill all three of our waters, PERFECT time to catch him in some conversation.

"So," I said boldly, "busy night?"
"Uhm well it's a Monday so not really."

And then I faceplanted in my drink. Like literally did not acknowledge his answer verbally, just slowly slunk down to my straw until he walked away.

Except not at all. Not at all this smooth.

Hanna and Chris refused to speak. Chris literally spit his water out and just waved his arms. That bad. Guys, I am so bad at flirting.

But I have frands and I have snakeskin ballet flats and that's all a girl really needs, right?

Proof Good People Exist

September 15, 2014

It is known far and wide among Serverland that teenagers are the worst. The worst! So it was with a great big "oh, thanks so much ya crappy, vindictive hostess" that Friday night I went up to my booth of two teenagers. And instantly, I started judging the shiznit out of them. My initial thoughts were Well there goes my tips tonight, which as soon as he started speaking was followed by oh hunny, he has probably cheated on you nine times by now. You know the type -- overly ironed flannel, large diamond studs, talks just a little too loud and excited.

But we started talking. Because there's really not much else to do when you're boxing up people's food table-side besides either catch the glares of your other tables who are pissed they're out of their fourth coke of the night (even though they can see you're clearly occupied with something else) or ignore the rude glares and become completely absorbed in conversation with the table you're boxing up. So I usually choose the later. 

I couldn't help it, they won me over. They were just so genuinely excited to be there and so damn cute with each other. When I asked them if they were celebrating anything special they told me it was their anniversary. Again, instant judgement, I was thinking oh great, one month? Four years. Four. Years. They met in high school (so I was a little off on my age judgments, judge me back) and have been together ever since. 

So I drop their check off, not expecting much but at least grateful the little buggers were cute and talkative. And here is your proof that good people exist: those adorable little teenagers left me $25 on a $30 bill. Do you know what I normally get from teens? $3. These kids. Gah. They blew me away. And sometimes (all the times) you need that as a server. You deal with people who expect you to be more servant, less server and then they tip you 17% and go on their way. So this little reminder that there are good people in the world (and teenagers who tip!) was so pleasant. 

Turns out we even go to the same school! I hope I see them around so I can stalk on their creepy couple cuteness. And if he ever does cheat on her for the first time, so help me God... #truelove #puppyloveforlyfe #youreabirdimabird

What was the best part of your weekend?
Have you seen any proof that good people exist lately? 
I'd love to hear your story!

Kittens and Kids and Coincidences, Part 2

September 10, 2014

If you miss Part One, catch up here. Basically: my niece's kitten died and she found comfort in a piece of advice that I had written to her on a school projects months and months ago. And it made me super emotional. 

I don't often talk about God on this blog, or my faith...but sometimes when He smacks you in the face so hard with such a clear message...Well, you gotta give credit where credit is due. And most often, He smacks me in the face with Emma, my little guardian angel. 

This past weekend was a big one for me. A deadline, a time-mark, an anniversary, a much anticipated, awaited thing. And that's all I'm going to give you there. But suffice to say, I've been waiting for this weekend for a long time. Wondering how it would feel when it came. Wondering if this particular anniversary, this particular loss would knock me off my feet. 

I've been waiting for This Day, right, but in the waiting I kept wondering if it would ever be possible to stop waiting. Or if once this day passed, I would just start waiting again. For 365 days to pass, and to see where I would be at the next point. Would my life be back on track? Would I be back on track? Would I still lose whole days to thinking about this day? Would I be okay? That's all I kept asking -- would I be okay?

That's a whole lot of nothing. I know. But for those of you who have experienced deep loss, or unexpected, life-altering things...then picture that. Picture a source of anxiety or tension or stress or unexpectedness that pushed you to re-evaluate everything. You picture your thing and I'll picture my thing, and then this post will be relate-able, deal?

Basically, what I'm trying to say is this (sort of). I've been waiting for This Day for a long-ass time. Hoping that by the time This Day came, I would be OK. Or I would be not OK. But not somewhere lost in between. I wanted to judge my particular growth (or lack there of) by this time period. And I was faltering, stumbling, mumbling my way through, not really getting the clarity I wanted. 

So I called my niece, to check on her and her little kitten heartbreak, and I got that smack of God-given clarity that comes once in a blue moon but reminds you that He is King and all things come in His good time. Because as she recited the words back to me once again, I realized the positions hadn't really switched at all. She really was still giving me exactly what I needed, one word at a time. Through her, He was giving me my answer to this much anticipated Day and Question. 

Everything will be ok in the end; if it's not ok, it's not the end. 

"So it's not the end, right? Because ok is still coming."
"You're right, Emma. It's not the end."

For either one of us. It's not the end. There's forward and there's up and there's down and there's a whole lot more to come, but there's no more of This particular heartache for either one of us. We are not stuck here, stagnant. Either way, we're going through and on to the next day. To the next OK. Which will come, because it's not the end. So we have that to look forward to with hope and joy and faith. And most importantly, with eachother.

Because the Next OK is coming.
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Kittens and Kids and Coincidences, Part 1

September 9, 2014

I almost put "Koincidences" so it would be 3 Ks but then I realized that this is a serious post so I should spell correctly, and also that no one should try to aim for 3 Ks because that will probably attract the wrong type of page views and comments, if you know what I mean. 

Way, way back in May, my darling (and most favorite) niece took me to school for "Special Friend Day," which was really Grandparents' Day plus two Aunts. It was adorable and she read a really special poem she had written for me about all the embarrassing things I do (like making up semi-sexual songs about her cat). Then, we had to fill out a workbook about "The History of Us" or something. You know the type, all your favorite things and favorite memories so you can look back in 20 years and say "wasn't your handwriting big and atrocious and third-grade-cute"? 

We're best friends, we hold hands.

The last question I was supposed to answer for her was "What piece of advice do you have for me?" So I wrote something down. And she asked me what it meant. And I said I can't really explain, but one day you'll just understand. You just have to have faith, that everything will work out in the end. 

So speed up. To Saturday morning. When my darling (and most favorite) niece woke me up with an early(ish) phone call of some 9-year-old devastating news about finding her new baby kitten dead. She was a trooper through that phone call. And as if I wasn't broken up enough about this adorable kitten and my poor, sad niece she just really had to take it to the next level. "Do you remember when I took you to school? And we filled out that book together?" she asked me. "Of course," I said. "And you wrote down that quote that I didn't understand?" "Mmhmm." "Well I understand it now, and it's really been helping me today. So I just wanted to say thank you." 

And then she repeated it back to me, that advice that I had written down for a 9 year old who I thought wouldn't understand for some time. 
Everything will be ok in the end; 
so if it's not ok, it's not the end.
Cue the waterworks. 

First of all, you should know that Emma is pretty much my guardian angel sent by God to protect me. That child has given me more then I could ever hope to give back to her. Ever. I try hard to be a good Aunt, but she seriously gives me so much support and grace and encouragement that I frequently feel like our roles have been reversed. So to be able to have finally given her something in return, made me crumble into 9 million pieces of blubbering Aunty mush. Just the idea that in the midst of that sadness something had gone off in her brain to remind her to look for something I had written months ago at the bottom of a school take the time to go and find it and read it and take comfort from it, was too much for this emotional Aunt Autumn.

So now we skip to the Coincidence part...tomorrow, with Part Two.

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