Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Portrait Challenge

Here's today, Monday, and Sunday's contributions to the 30 Day Self Portrait Challenge (in the opposite order):

On Sunday my siblings and I drove through Paris, Texas.
It was pretty cool.
And my second time (first time here) in Paris within the last 6 months!
Sidenote: I am, by happy chance, listening to the Civil Wars singing in French right now.
The Civil Wars' new album is excellent, by the way.
I'd taken this picture a couple of days prior,
in the reflection of the rear window of my car.
Today I went to the dentist
[CAVITY FREE SINCE NINETY-THREE!!]
and, while waiting, captured my tonk's with the waiting room table.


Take Off The Headphones


A friend on Facebook posted this and it struck me immediately.
The way we speak to ourselves is so significant.
I hope y'all enjoy or get something out of this.

Friday, August 2, 2013

15-17/30

Here's the past couple days in the Self Portrait Challenge saga.
This counts as a self portrait because the background is my shirt. 
I've been trying to avoid simply posting selfies every day.
We all know how annoying that is.
It's probably the most awesome key chain ever.
Trivia: Unicorns are the national animal of Scotland.
My reflection in the glass of a picture frame.
And I liked how this shirt made my eyes look pretty great.
No editing was done on this pic.
I feel like a unicorn.


Monday, July 29, 2013

A Beautiful Mess

I've been taking part in this 30 Day Self Portrait Challenge, and you can find out why here. I've been consistent in posting them via Instagram, but have been slacking some on posting them on the blog. Not that y'all probably care. But here you go regardless, catching up on the past couple days:

From Friday: 
in the car after working at Loft and prior to babysitting a precious little boy.
I also watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding that night.
Great movie.

From Saturday:
it was only 88 degrees in the middle of the day, so I had a happy little run.
It's awkward taking a picture of the back of your shirt,
just in case you were wondering.

From Sunday:
I've been working on breaking in some new shoes.
Cute band-aids make it hurt less.

From Monday:
Second day curl, this is what it looked like when I woke up.
Winning.


The Circle of Life

Those of you who know me well have probably heard of the deep love I have for The Lion King. I just stumbled on the below gif, and started laughing until I cried. It was so unexpected.


Maybe this isn't funny to the rest of you...I know I'm weird.

Healthy Compliments

A few weeks ago, I saw a couple of people who are very dear to me* for the first time in a good while; they exclaimed about how good I looked because I'd lost weight. It's true, I've been working on living a healthier life in recent history, so these were hard earned compliments.

However, the gift of the compliment was muddled by the underlying belief that to be thin is to be beautiful and vice versa. Thin certainly is beautiful, but that doesn't mean other sizes aren't beautiful as well. To imply that I look better because I look thinner and not because I look healthier has the potential to encourage bad habits. One of the simplest ways many people lose weight is simply by eating less** but if someone wishes to be healthier they must develop good habits. It's so very dangerous to praise a young woman*** because people respond to praise by repeating the action. If I'd obtained these compliments through unhealthy means, it would be easy for me to continue in those bad habits.

To the compliment givers of this world: try to use healthy and positive words when encouraging someone. Think about what you're saying. It would have been wonderful if they had said something along the lines of a simple "Wow Lydia you look good" or even "Lydia you look like you've been working out more, work it girl!" it would have been better than the "You've gotten thin! Wow Lydia you look good! How much weight have you lost??" that I'd received from these people.

To the compliment receivers: try to keep a good head on your shoulders when you do get praise. Don't allow the way other people see you affect your self perception in a negative way. Take the positive and useful elements from a compliment and forget the less helpful aspects of what the other person has said. You are your own person, don't let what others say rule your life.

Really, we should all work on giving more compliments that have to do with the whole person, not focusing so much on the outer shell of an individual.****




*And who shall not be named here. They're wonderful people, really.

**Or eating nothing at all.

***Or man. Or an old woman or man. Or anyone, really.

****I'll probably write on that topic soon, stay tuned y'all.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10:30

My sister and I went rock climbing at a gym in Grapevine today.
I don't claim to be an excellent or accomplished or even remotely good climber,
but Emme and I had a blast.
We both conquered a couple new walls 
and improved upon ones which we hadn't done very well on the last time we went.
Seeing that improvement brought us a lot of satisfaction and confidence.
It's one of the most fun ways to get a good strength (and some cardio) workout.
I love how I feel so strong and so weak at the same time.
Climbing makes me very aware of which muscles I'm using,
and it's awesome to see improvement over time.
I'm always amazed at what my body is capable of 
(it's capable of much much more than where I'm at now, and I think that's awesome).
The picture above reveals the unfortunate shortness 
(in proportion to my height)
of my legs.
And my calves remind me of Disney's Hercules (aka Hunkules),
so that's really fun.
I wish rock climbing wasn't so expensive so I could take part in it more often!!
It's really a wonderful pastime and workout.




Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Help Me Help You

This blog post is for you people of the world who enjoy walking, running, or biking, and own or have access to a smart phone of some sort and a desire to help some people out. (Or just whoever stumbles upon this little blog, welcome!).

There's this lovely app called Charity Miles which donates 10 cents a mile for bikers and 25 cents per mile for those who would prefer to walk or run. So if you were to run a 5k, that's about 75 cents toward an organization of your choice. You might think "wow, only 75 cents for 3.1 miles?". Wrong. "Wow! Running those 3.1 miles just put 75 cents toward something great!". There ya go.

Who do they donate to? Over twenty charities (the specifics are listed on their facebook page), helping the world become a better place by assisting those with mental and physical disabilities, providing food for those who normally wouldn't be able to eat, and much more.

I just thought I would share this with the blogosphere because everyone walks (at the very least) at least enough to help out a bit, and I know people out there who run many many more miles than I do over the course of a week who could be making a slightly more awesome impact on the world.

It's also a great motivation for me to get out and run more often; it's exciting to know that if I get off my butt and do some work today I can at the very least put fifty cents or a couple bucks toward a worthy cause while also helping myself stay fit, healthy, and strong. It's a win-win for everyone. So check it out, y'all.

9:30

It seems I've reverted to zooming in on features of my self or my apparel.
But hey, lace is one of the more gorgeous man made things,
and I love the old fashioned yet completely classy feel it gives me.

For anyone stopping in, I'm doing this 30 Day Self Portrait Challenge and that's why I keep posting instagram selfies to the internet.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

8:30

I realize that the whole point of this 30 day challenge is to be taking creative self portraits of myself.
But today, I just felt like hiding behind this cup
which used to be filled with some darn good orange juice.
Haters gonna hate.

Steps


Monday, July 22, 2013

The Head and The Heart

Let's just talk about how awesome it would be to go see The Head and the Heart on tour. They're coming to Dallas in November and I really hope that somehow I can go.

Haven't heard of The Head and The Heart? Blasphemy.  Check them out.
This is my favorite song of theirs:


7:30

Today I'm focusing on my nose crinkles.
This is also me trying to be fierce (not in the Beyonce kind of way, though).
One of my favorite things to do with my youngest sister
is to look at each other across the room/table/couch/etc
and scrunch up my face
and then watch her do the same. 
It's kind of been our thing for years (she's almost 12 now).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

6:30



Day Six: Accessorize
I strayed today from the "selfie" edition of the Self Portrait Challenge
(You're welcome, world.)
And it was also a big milestone for me today
because I wore my first ever (in recollection) maxi dress.
Might not be a big deal to you, 
but I've always feared it would make me look short, squat, and curve-less
I'll let the internet decide one way or another at a later date.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

5:30

A part of me is starting to feel a little silly 
for committing to taking pictures of myself
 and posting them 
for thirty days straight.
Another part of me really enjoys it.
Call me vain, 
but I see the challenge as another way to see the beautiful and unique things about myself.
Also, I really love the outdoors 
(except when it's 105 outside)
so it makes sense for me to take a "best friend selfie" with the grass.
[I did this "best friend selfie" with inanimate objects thing
a lot in Europe-see below.]

Selfie with a castle in Wales
Selfie with the Peter Pan Statue and some strangers
And my all time fave:
Selfie with my bff: the Eiffel Tower!



Friday, July 19, 2013

4:30

Not my most creative moment. And once again my hair is braided.
(It's pretty much the only way I do my hair if I don't have to look fancy.)
Also, pearls are one of the more awesome accessories 
and every classy lady should own some.
(Not that I'm claiming to be a classy lady.)

And for anyone who doesn't know why I keep posting pictures of myself, check out this link, it will make everything clear.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

3:30

Braids are my favorite. Easy, quick, looks nicer than a ponytail usually.
Although it's oftentimes kind of a messy thrown together braid (see above),
it's my go to every time I'm either lazy or late.
Also, my hair is beginning to turn brown, and it's quite alarming.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2:30

Day two of the Self Portrait 30 Day Challenge!
Went with the concept of the original profile picture.
I like that you can kind of still see the features of my face, 
and especially like the detail of the pearl earring!
It has been an absolutely beautiful day outside; 
not terribly hot (for Texas) and very sunny!!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

1:30

I follow some blogs, one of which is especially excellent. These lovely sisters over at A Beautiful Mess have presented a self portrait 30 day challenge (which you should look into participating in yourself). I think the point is more for photographers wishing to brush up their portrait skills, but I enjoy selfies and creativity just as much as the next girl so of course I'm joining in on the fun!

My weapon: iPhone
My purpose: take more creative selfies
My goal: 30 consecutive days

And below the photo, if you're interested, is some commentary about my own face.
I used the A Beautiful Mess app to make my portrait slightly more swanky (it's worth the$.99 or whatever on the app store). 
One thing I've always admired on other people's faces are dimples. Although I don't know if I'd call those slight impressions on either side of my cheeks dimples or not, I've only recently discovered them and they're something I really like about my face.


I'm Jealous of the Wari

Several weeks ago, my mom and I went on down to Fort Worth to the Kimbell and were delighted with the new exhibition of pottery and textiles from the ancient Wari in what we now know as Peru. Mom and I were both very impressed by the intricate designs and seemingly advanced attention to detail; the colors were beautiful. Here's just a couple of pieces so you can get a feel for what we got to see!




One of the coolest things was reading about the Wari culture. They had no written language, so what we do know has only been found out through archaeology, speculation, and tradition. Something which I found fascinating was that a way of keeping history recorded was through tying knots in strings. Each knot meant something and a series of strings could tell a story. I can't recall what it was called, but the way these people were able to keep records without a written language was really impressive.

After checking out the Wari exhibit and the permanent collection (which is free to everyone, by the way), mom and I enjoyed some tea and cake. It was a delightful afternoon!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Respect

I wrote a post yesterday concerning the links between self perception and narcissism, and just now I had a thought. Perhaps the difference between a healthy self image and a narcissistic self image is respect.

The narcissist seems to simply want adoration for his/herself.

Those who have a good perception of self usually respect themselves (thus self respect).

So if you wish to love yourself, you must respect yourself as well.

And respecting another person is an essential element in loving them.

I don't know you, or your life, but I know that you are worthy of respect. Regardless of what you may think or how you view yourself. It doesn't matter what you've done, not done, or where you've come from. You are worth loving. If you don't see yourself as someone worth respecting or caring about, try to find features of yourself which are positive. If you can't come up with any on your own, ask honest friends to help. And work on becoming the most awesome edition of yourself possible. You can do it. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

добро пожаловать


Why are there are so many people in Russia reading my blog? I have no clue. Perhaps I pop up on y'all's Google when you search something interesting like "awesome blogs written by Texans". Anyway, welcome, Russians! And welcome to anyone else who clicks on this blog. Because you've just stumbled onto the least organized and most scatterbrained blog on the internet today.

The title on this blog post is supposed to say "welcome" in Russian. I really hope Google Translate didn't fail me on this one.

Lessons and Thoughts on Self Worth and Self Ish

I have such mixed feelings on the topic of self love. I suppose it's due to the many different ways people can love themselves. And the plethora of things which "love" has become the label for. I'm just going to touch on my thoughts on these topics, because there are so many rabbit trails and tangents I can (and will) go on in thinking about these things.

Lately I've become more aware of some fabulous people sharing positive and encouraging messages:
There's More Love Letters, through which people send each other (and total) strangers sweet notes and letters to bring joy to the lives of others.
Lionhart is passionate about showing others their inherent worth and helping people see their value.
Then there's So Worth Loving, emphasizing that you (no matter who "you" are) are worth loving regardless of your flaws or past, and encouraging people to see that their dreams are worth pursuing.

There are many other amazing organizations and individuals out there spreading the news of a positive self esteem and self love (To Write Love On Her ArmsGala Darling-Radical Self Love Project, and Good Women Project to name a few). They're all excellent and have wonderful lessons that all of us can learn from about being the best we can be while learning to love ourselves.

I've personally become a bit passionate about the above organizations because I have seen so many people hurting from a low self perception. A good friend of mine last year was a hard person to love because she refused to love herself. A person I dated made some hurtful choices because he didn't see that he's a better man than he thought he was. I've sat with friends who cried because they saw themselves as ugly, too thin, or too fat. Other friends simply got used to perceiving themselves as lazy, and thus became lazy in their habits. I once made a comment offhandedly to a friend: "I'll never be able to do ____." and he said "Yeah, probably not with that attitude."

So it's recently become very important for me to encourage people to see the wonderful things about themselves, because many people don't realize how truly amazing they really are.

[Disclaimer, what I'm about to say might-probably will-offend some people and is not intended to be applied to all circumstances. It's an observation from my life that I feel is legitimate.]

However, in the midst of so many people with exceptionally low views of themselves, there's an almost absurd amount of selfishness. Selfishness involves paying attention to yourself and your own welfare while disregarding that of others.

It seems that if we stopped focusing so much on ourselves then we wouldn't have time to consider whether we really like certain things about ourselves. If we genuinely focus on others more, perhaps we will stop comparing ourselves to them or at least lessen our propensity to think of ourselves as less awesome than we really are.

For example, one of my best friends is engaged (wahoo!!) and it's wonderful. My friends make an amazing couple and will be an excellent husband and wife to each other; they're already very good at being an old married couple sometimes. There had been a few times when I've looked at them and all their happiness, then turned and looked at myself and my very single and ready to mingle-ness and felt bad for myself. Sometimes it caused me to word-vomit in the form of making jokes about being "forever alone" or feeling bad about myself because of what I don't have. However, I'd like to think that I've grown up a lot in that I look at my wonderful friend who is engaged and rejoice for what she has. I'm terribly excited for her and her adventures; I also embrace and look forward to the adventures I get to have as well. Instead of simply looking at her as someone who has something I don't, I choose to look at her as a person and love her as her individual self, and I in turn can look at myself and love many elements of myself as well. In learning to love my friend better, I've also learned to love myself. (And that's something I've learned from several very dear friendships.)

Some of the people with the most obvious low self esteem are those who exhibit extraordinarily narcissistic tendencies. It could be that seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum tend to mirror each other very well. It could also be those who are self focused want the spotlight on themselves and use their insecurities to garner attention. I'm still thinking it through, and I don't actually know if there's a straight answer to what I'm pondering.

When I think of my life, the moments when I feel like the least awesome edition of myself are also moments when I need to get over myself. They're the times when I needed to stop thinking of myself so much and put my energy into more constructive things. When I put the spotlight of my life away from myself, life becomes much more full. I just said "myself" a billion times, which is annoying, but the point is that I need to make the purpose of my life not geared toward self.

Perhaps this is why religion is such a big deal. Maybe people realize that living life for the purpose of something above their own joy really enhances it. Maybe that is our purpose. I know that living my life for God's purpose and not for my own brings my heart a sense of peace. And one of the things which has helped me to realize that I am worth loving has come through the understanding that the God I believe in will love me no matter what, so I should love myself no matter what.

One of the best life lessons I've ever realized is that I shouldn't take myself so seriously. I should get over my self and be able to laugh at my mistakes and flaws without feeling shame for them. It's not all about me, and knowing that has lightened my heart. I'm thankful to have learned to love myself and respect myself, and in doing so am able to focus more of my time and energy on other things and people, which ultimately feels like a much more fulfilling life. It's like the circle of life.



I don't feel like I explain myself particularly well, so if anyone else out there has a different perspective or thought on the matter, feel free to share. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm Jealous of Shaun Ferguson

I follow some blogs on a regular basis (blogs which, unlike mine, are actually well maintained and have an obvious purpose), one of which is The Jealous Curator. She shares pieces of art that she wishes she had come up with, and I'm going to imitate her right now.

When I was in London last semester, my friend Zoe and I wandered in and out of some art galleries right by the Royal Academy (I hope I'm remembering this right) after our art class. Some featured unique pieces of art with unusual mediums, but we both agreed that the Fairfax Gallery contained our favorite works, by Shaun Ferguson, and I'll be sharing a few of my favorites with you. I just love the colors and expressions he was able to capture, and it's fun how he utilized unusual or everyday props. Enjoy!

[Disclaimer: all images come from Shaun Ferguson's site and look significantly more wonderful in real life.]









It's Time To Ride


Pursuit of [Personal] Freedom

Lately I've been given a lot of signals pushing me toward a freedom which I haven't allowed myself in quite awhile. It's quite unusual, since I typically consider myself a rather independent person; I don't like being told what to do, the image of an eagle brings my heart joy not only as a symbol of America but also as a personal image of freedom, I generally consider myself a lighthearted and laid back person with a minimal propensity for anxiety.

I had a conversation with one of my dearest and closest friends a week ago where he challenged me to "love deeply" and stop holding back. Although I do love many people genuinely, deep love involves a measure of vulnerability which I typically prefer to shy away from. Deep love means risk, and although I generally enjoy risks and adventures, I understand the consequences too well and thus have shut myself off from letting even a lot of my closer friends know me at a deeper level.

A song on the radio (it really happened, so cliche) came on about forgiveness and letting go, and I couldn't help but turn it up and listen intently. It brought to light some past hurts which I may have gotten over, but hadn't really forgiven. I'd taken the "forgive and forget" concept, dropped the forgive element, and ignored it. Not a healthy way of dealing with things.

I just read a blog post called What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid? It's a running blog that I keep up with because I know the wonderful woman who writes it and I sometimes pretend that I like running. Here's the bit that struck me:
 Maybe the thing you would do if you weren't afraid is go back to school or forgive someone or love someone unconditionally expecting nothing in return. I don't know your life but I know that you're human. And I'm sure there is something you want to do and that you are feeling God calling you to do that you are holding back from because you are afraid. So stop it. (refer to earlier Bob Newhart video for instructions).

It struck me that I keep encountering people encouraging me to be the best version of myself possible, and that the primary thing holding me back from that goal is a control problem. When I (subconsciously) hold on to hurts or fears, it totally cripples me. It puts me in this state of grieving (which I've done way more than I should have recently considering how awesome my life really is) and self loathing and lethargy that's just pitiful and annoying. And I'm sure I'll have many more words on this later, but my thoughts are all over the place right now. 

The point is: I am resolving to love deeply, to let go, to forgive, and to be free.

Don't hold yourself back. Discover what is keeping you from being the best version of yourself and do something about it.

2 Timothy 1:7
"God has not given you a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and a sound mind."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Favorite Sports Movie Speeches

Sports movies are great, and the coaches featured in them have a tremendous way with words.

Nothing like a slow clap to get you going.
Tom Hanks just does a great job here.
Although this doesn't really motivate me, it makes me laugh.
"No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around."
There's just so much inspiration in this movie.
Sometimes we need to hear that we're full of it and to get our act together.
And finally, probably my favorite.
"Great moments are born in great opportunity."
"This is your time. Now go out there and take it."




Goal Struggles

This summer is about being self taught and self motivated. I only work part time, and after I got over how I have no life this summer I've been fighting laziness and lethargy (because who really wants to be outside when it's over 95 degrees out there?-----says the girl who spent the past two summers working OUTSIDE at camps...).

There's three things I really want to accomplish this summer:

  1. Get through all the levels of Duolingo's awesome app for German
  2. Pass the Biology CLEP (so I never in my life have to take another science related course-thank God)
  3. Read a ton of books (I have a 50 book goal for 2013 that I need to do some work on)
  4. JK four things. Getting fit and continuing to eat healthy (Thank you Europe for your small portions and absurd prices on food) [just added this because it's something I'm working on]
Learning German has been pretty fun, and the app sends me daily reminders and emails to keep me from slacking. Memorization is one of the things I'm worst at in life, but the reminders help me keep on, even when I get discouraged.

I bought some new books this summer (thanks, Amazon) so if I don't finish those before school starts I'm just going to feel like I wasted my time and money. I've been doing alright, but I still have a lot to do. And it's important to remember to love reading, even if I am trying to reach a goal.

And the Biology stuff---it's been a drag. I get really into studying for a couple days, then avoid looking at it for a couple weeks. But now that I only have a couple weeks left, I'll probably start doing better (since I typically work well under pressure-which is sometimes a lifesaver in college). Every time I think about Biology, I feel like I'm driving the struggle bus. How am I supposed to learn a year's worth of college level biology on my own in a few weeks? I don't know, y'all, but I'm going to do it. I've wanted to just say "forget it" and do something more enjoyable with my life. But I can't quit now.

There's only a month left, and I still have a lot of work to do to accomplish everything I wanted to do this summer. This (and many other sports pump it up speeches  I've wasted time on YouTube watching) is inspiring  and just what I needed to get me off my butt (literally and figuratively) and do work.


Monday, July 1, 2013

There Is A Cure In The Mountains

You've probably never heard this before. And although it's extraordinarily simplistic and repetitive, I really like it.




How To Deal With "What If"

The question "what if" burdens the hearts of so many. We may look back, wondering how our lives would be different if we had chosen a different path. Sometimes we may look at the current state of life and wrestle with ways to change our current situation. And looking forward into the unknown is full of not only uncertainty but also may cause anxiety as we decide between all the options in front of us. 

Considering the "what if"'s may prove profitable in the context of bettering ourselves. This summer, I've thought "what if I learn German?" or "what if I take the Biology CLEP?". Working my mind this summer has been a wonderful and constructive break from the school system, enabling me to remember to love learning and having the freedom to choose what I study. 

Great ideas have also been spawned from the "what if" question. Some incredibly talented musicians from Ireland decided to do this Rend Collective Experiment, which has produced wonderful music and been a wonderful platform for people to share their beliefs. 

However, I've seen (in myself and in friends) the negative effects of considering what if life were different. It's this mindset that leads to doubts (a couple wondering if they married the wrong person, which is absurd because of the points mentioned in this blog post and subsequent ones on this blog. If you want more literature on the topic go ahead and check this out), cheating (because you never know if you're more sexually compatible with another person more than your significant other), kicking ourselves because of missed opportunities (which isn't helpful because what's done is done and agonizing over it doesn't help anyone), or a myriad of other possibilities. 

This may be totally cheesy, but I realized recently that it's more important to shy away from "what if" and focus instead on "what is". Sure, go ahead and improve upon the current situation if you can do so constructively. However, aside from that we need to learn to be content with "what is". Sometimes we need to have the mindset of "Que Sera Sera" and accept that whatever will be will be. 

At this point I feel like I'm going in circles and contradicting myself. Because one caveat of the "what is" mindset could be settling and I want you to know that settling isn't the answer. It's important to continue molding yourself into becoming the best you can be, but to be able to be content where you're at.

I suppose the lesson here is to balance. Ask how you can improve yourself, but don't stress about things that have already happened. Utilize your creativity to solve problems, but avoid discontentment. 

Life isn't perfect, and neither is this blog post. But life can be really awesome, and my writing can contain some moments of brilliance. I'm okay with it, because that's just how it is. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

"When You Smile To The World, The World Smiles Back"


On Empathy: I Can Relate

Earlier I noticed something about myself. I have been very passionate lately about some organizations. (Good Women ProjectSo Worth LovingMore Love LettersLion HartTWLOHA, and others). They're all exceptional and I would very much like to become more involved in their missions to help others. The thing that ties them all together for me personally, is that I (and millions of others) have dealt with feelings/experiences/negativity which they're all working to combat. 

I wonder if the things we feel most passion for are the things which we first feel empathy toward. In my life, I've felt much deeper about the people or situations with which I've been able to empathize rather than sympathize (which makes sense, since by definition empathy is stemmed from an understanding of another's pain which sympathy cannot possibly match).

It might be that some friendships fail because people sympathize rather than empathize. No, you don't have to have the same life experiences. But it seems like those who empathize with people are much more productive toward healing or help than those who sympathize. 

I did a little googling on the topic of empathy and sympathy and as I read through some of the comments on this article I stumbled upon this:

"Someone has dug a large hole and fallen into it, now unable to get out. The empathizer will understand and retain a healthy ability to help them out of that hole. The sympathizer will run and jump into the hole to console him."

A humorous example, but very true. Although I sometimes feel selfish for focusing on organizations which cater toward my past hurts, I may make more of an impact for others by supporting groups which I relate to best.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Beautiful Reality

GOD IS PRESENT IN HEARTBREAK, AND HE HEALS OUR HEARTS IN A WAY THAT MAKES US MORE THAN WE WOULD HAVE BEEN WITHOUT THE BROKENNESS.


Henri Nouwen once said, “Our life is full of brokenness—broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives?”




All the words above come from Relevant Magazine.
Check it out sometime.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Free Time Frenzy

Okay, this summer is a strange one for me. It's the first time that I haven't been super busy in over two years and the first time I'm living at home for more than a couple weeks since before I graduated high school (two years as well). I don't have a social life in this city. I only work part time. The lack of responsibility which is my life overwhelms me sometimes. I enjoy being busy. It bothers me when I go for extended periods of time without thinking or actively doing something.

As I thought about my restless self, I was reminded of a scene in a movie: The Brothers Bloom. Haven't heard of it? Go watch it. Have heard of it? Go watch it. Have seen it? Go watch it again. I'm not saying it's one of my favorite movies, but I just watched a couple clips of it on YouTube that nearly had my tear ducts leaking all over the place.

Anyway. The scene describes this lonely woman who lives alone in this mansion (you'll know who I'm talking about if you watch the clip I linked up in that last paragraph). She dealt with both her own health issues and her mothers, so she was isolated for much of her life from going out in society and so was obviously bored quite a bit. As a result, she has all these expert status talents. She could multiple instruments, do card tricks, and many obscure activities with unusual skill.

And I took three things away from that.

1. I'm like a completely way less awesome version of her. Every week (or even more frequently) since I came home, I've started a new project or resolution for myself. I'll feel like I'm being too unproductive with my life. Today I decided I want to learn some basic German this summer.

2. Be thankful. I'm only home for three months, and then it's back to the busy life at school that I know and love. The woman in this movie spent a good twenty years in almost complete isolation.

3. Growth is continual. I got excited thinking about all of the different hobbies I will have and all of the (fun) studying I'll do in the future. I'm so glad that I won't ever be in a place where I'm done learning!

In a conversation with my mom a few days ago, she pointed out that despite the lack obvious purpose for my life this summer, God does have something in mind for me. She explained that this may be a season of rest. I'm fine with seasons of rest for like a week before I'm ready to move along, but my way of doing things is certainly far from the best. It's been a process accepting and embracing this season of self motivation and leisure, but I'm beginning to understand all the wonderful rewards a time like this can bring.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Observations From An Intense Chocolate Bar

My aunt gave me some chocolate as a late birthday present, which is perfect because I love chocolate. She handed me two of the "Intense Dark" Ghirardelli boxes, and I knew things were about to get real. The "Twilight Delight" is 72% cacao, while the Midnight Reverie is 86% cacao. None of this milk chocolate business (which, by the way, I love). So I break off a square and take a small bite of the bitter delicacy and my taste buds are immediately overwhelmed. They can only take so much of this. So I stop after square one, unsure of the love/hate mixture of feelings toward this treat. I'm sitting here, four days later, working on square two: enjoying it at a slow and respectful pace, tasting all the flavors and savoring the bits of sweetness which are embedded in the harsh delicacy. [Yes, I'm aware of the oxymoron's, but there's no other way to describe these feelings inside of me.]

There are other things which must be enjoyed slowly to be fully enjoyed: red wine, a really good book (with sustenance), a letter, a cake, a view.

I'm not saying that you have to plod through life to enjoy all it's flavors. But bask in the moment. Close your eyes, breathe in deep, and take in all of the different colors of the experience before continuing on.

We've been taught to enjoy the watered down editions of many things. Most people prefer milk chocolate over the more authentic dark (I usually do). And many would rather order a 87% sugar/milk frappe over a cup of legitimate coffee (I always do). It's easier to read a feel-good memoir than a book filled with hard truths (but the latter has so much more to it!!).

We have been conditioned to avoid authenticity and as a result don't enjoy the real stuff nearly as much. It's easier to love the fake. Many times we just gobble up the delicious things in life and forget to notice all of the wonderful details that make up the whole. These observations lead me to question: how does all of this translate into our relationships and who we try to be?

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Wildly Underdeveloped Thoughts On Success




I really like the above quote. Einstein, although almost absurdly brilliant himself, remained grounded enough that he valued those with less "successful" minds. Though he himself was what this world would consider to be a success, he recognizes the variance between success and value. Oscar Wilde gets this too:
Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

This may be a mildly cynical view of mankind, but holds much truth. And I like Einstein's quote a bit better (it's more positive too, which always helps) so I'll focus on that. 

I've compared myself with others on many an occasion. Lately, it's been more in the realm of looking at those with internships/those who appear to know what they're doing with their lives in contrast with my wonderful tragedy of knowing exactly what I want during university and knowing nothing about what I'll do with myself following this stage of my life. Sometimes it brings me down, but at other times I know that I can accomplish more (both to the benefit of myself and others) with my wide array of skills and the plethora of possibilities possible upon entering the so called "real world". My version of being accomplished looks vastly different from many of the future successful business men and women of America (and beyond!). And that's okay.

I don't really know if what I'm saying is making sense. Sorry, inter-webs. 

Anyway, when you look at yourself and see a lack of "success", think about the value that you bring to the table and to the lives of others. Think of the things you truly value and pursue and focus on them. (If you value getting fat and doing nothing but watching Bachelor re-runs, I'll probably judge you, but hey that's your dream.)

And on the flip-side, when you feel like a huge success, be sure to reorient yourself periodically, checking your priorities to ensure that you are living a life of value and sustenance.

You don't need to be perfect, and you don't need to be successful to find joy in life. But if you are successful, hey that's awesome. 

Things that I particularly value at this stage in my life:
  • seeing the world from different perspectives
  • education: not tests and class necessarily, but knowledge
  • relationships, loving each other
Those things may not get me far in life (not the way I use them), but they're important to me.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are The Words of a Picture Worth Telling?

They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words", which I believe to be a completely valid perspective. My parents are in Italy right now, and receiving picture texts from them gives us kids a wonderful picture of what they must be experiencing (pun unintended); people always ask for pictures when someone goes on an adventure, and the phrase "pics or it didn't happen!!" reflect a desire to see rather than hear of an occurrence.

I lived for three months in London, which you can read about here, and there are around nine hundred pictures that I've posted on facebook about my adventures. Nine hundred. For around ninety days. Shoot, that seems really excessive.

We were in Paris, viewing the Eiffel Tower the first night of our weekend visit. The four of us girls enjoyed viewing the famous landmark, and right at 8PM the Tower began glowing with lights all over the tower going on and off. It had already been lit like normal, and from afar these strobe-esque lights gave the illusion that the Tower was glittering all over with diamonds. We were so fortunate to watch the lovely light-show as we had just been heading back toward the Metro, and we snapped away with our cameras. After a few pictures, Taylor and I realized that we were essentially taking the same picture over and over again, so we stopped to watch the fantastic spectacle with our own eyes. We discussed the value of photographing things (it's one of Taylor's favorite hobbies!) verses the significance of enjoying the moment.

Of course, we don't want to forget the best times in our lives, and that may be part of the motive for obsessively taking pictures. However, it's okay to just stand and bask in the experiences all around. The last day we spent in Paris, we headed back to say goodbye to the Tower before returning to London. My favorite part of those thirty or so minutes couldn't have possibly been captured by a single or even series of pictures. (A video, possibly, but that's another discussion.) There were the two precious French boys racing each other back and forth across the path, the women accosting us and attempting to get our money, and the large man singing and dancing around as he strolled along, winking at anyone who made eye contact and wearing a huge grin on his face. I breathed in the cool air of winter and smell of grass while basking in the sunlight beaming down on me. It was truly wonderful. I've observed that [in general] people with pictures of their adventures have an enjoyable experience, while those who really have an amazing or unique venture don't have nearly as many.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't take pictures of the gorgeous world we live in or of the voyages we take, but that we may want to take a step back and enjoy life outside the lens. Don't be so caught up in instagramming your dinner to enjoy conversation with the person across the table from you, or snap pictures with your friends without taking the time to really know them. I've been guilty of these things many times myself, and will probably continue to be. However, I aspire to look around me and take in everything via all the senses, not just by way of sight.

Now back to the title: are the words of a picture worth telling? By asking that I mean: is it worth missing out on what's around us in order to take the perfect picture? Is it worth it to take pictures of something and by extension not actually enjoy the image before us while we're there?


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boring Betty

Flashback to about twelve or fifteen years ago. When we lived in Farmers Branch, we lived next door to another little girl who was almost exactly my same age. We'd traverse back and forth the twenty feet between our front doors and play at each others houses. One day she was over at my house, and apparently we didn't do a good enough job of entertaining her (I'm not saying that she was spoiled, but she did have a lot of the toys and gadgets that weren't available in my home, so it took a little more to keep her entertained.) She told my mom that she was bored. To that my mom let her know that she could go right on home and not to say those words in her house. That child never again said the words "I'm bored" in my home. You may think that's a bit harsh (I don't), but that's how things were in my house. We didn't say we were bored, and as a family with four over-involved children we rarely had cause to be.

Now, I always tell myself and others that life is what you make of it. And yesterday, I was making little of my life. So after texting one of my dearest friends about how bored he and I both are, I called myself out, asking myself why I think having a bad attitude about having so much time on my hands is in any way alright (I do have inner dialogue with myself, but no one's had me tested for insanity yet). I have no business feeling sorry for myself because the only thing holding me back from doing something awesome is me.

This is the part where I tell you of the awesome thing I did. Prepare to be disappointed. All I ended up doing was helping with dinner, reading a bit of one of the four books I'm currently reading (I have readers ADHD, I diagnosed myself), seeing The Great Gatsby with my brother (it was great), and watching late night talk shows with my dad. It was a great time.

Today I've been very satisfied with a couple of good books, some productivity (which always puts me in a good mood), and sunshine. I think when my mind is spent either in the world of another or not delving into an intellectual vacuum, it's much easier to be positive and enjoy the time given to me. I could spend hours reading a book or watching a TV show, and I think it's because I enjoy the fictional community of it. I've missed the community I had in London and in Abilene, it's one of the things I value most. In addition, give me sunshine or give me death. Being in the sun alleviates all sadness and has been quite refreshing after several months in the less than sunny Isles of Britain.

So if you're bored, go read a book. Reading not your thing? Let's hope you have Netflix because there's seasons upon seasons of fun shows to watch. If you're sad, get outside! Move! If that doesn't put you in a good mood I hope you live in the arctic where there's no sunshine for you not to appreciate (apologies, I don't mean that). And if you miss community, hit up a friend, or write a letter.

One of the most wonderful, positive, and encouraging activities out there is letter writing. I love love love sending letters and receiving them. So if there's anyone actually still reading this, do shoot me a message and you'll receive a handwritten letter by yours truly.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Ode to Mom

Thanks, mom.
Thank you for putting me in sports and letting me decide which one to pursue.
Thank you for giving me a two year minimum for the various musical pursuits I've had.
Thank you for taking me to church.
Thank you for not using your BA or MA in favor of taking care of the four of us as best as you know how.
Thank you for understanding my independent nature.
Thank you for watching war movies with me (Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, Braveheart, Band of Brothers, and many more).
Thank you for watching chick flicks with me.
Thank you for instilling a love of reading into your children.
Thank you for being realistic.
Thank you for making healthy eating a thing in our home.
Thank you for both your physical and emotional strength.
Thanks for buying me books and taking me to the library.
Thank you for when you home-schooled me, because I learned much more than I would have from the less than stellar public school that I would have gone to and for using that time to build a solid worldview.
Thank you for putting me in private school for a few years. I made some great friends there and grew a lot.
Thank you for letting me go to public school, because we both know I needed that social interaction and the opportunities I was able to have there shaped me in many wonderful ways.
Thank you for not crying when you dropped me off for college.
Thank you for always being honest and valuing the truth.
Thank you for pushing me to be better.
Thank you for encouraging me.

My mom is really an amazing woman. Her and my dad lived in Israel for a couple years and came back several months before I was born. She understands the value of travelling and seeing the world from many different angles. She buys stuff for herself-never. It's a big event for her to buy more than two clothing items for herself in the span of six months. Her and my dad are really the Dream Team, they work together so well and present a united front for our family. My mom is strong and loyal and very real and has taught us kids the value of hard work.
 She was the first woman to the top of a mountain in her group around ten years ago.
 She and my dad prioritize life so that we can go on many adventures.
This was almost three years ago. 
My mom and dad are the rock which hold our family together.

 I've referred to London, Abilene, Westcliffe (CO), Tulsa (OK), and Coppell as home in the past two years. But really, my home is with my parents.
 As the oldest of four children, I've already become a testament to the above statement. There's a reason mom says what she does. It works.
I'm very thankful to have a mom who believes strongly in the power of hugs. She always tells me that I don't get enough hugs. After going for three months in another country with very few hugs, my mom knew that I needed that silent yet physical exhibition of love. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Cliche Post About Being



 I like the above image quite a bit. Partially due to it's creativity and partly because of the words; and also because it looks vintage-esque and I like that kind of stuff. The quote, if you will, reminds me in part of one of my dear friends. I admire her for many reasons, but especially for the way she is her own woman. She expresses herself through fashion and always looks lovely, but has to put up with criticism from others because of it. As surface level as it seems, her ability to overcome expectation and dress in her own style permeates her personality. This beautiful woman dresses in her own mode of fashion (and pulls it off, I might add) and it reflects her unique personality. She isn't swayed (so far as I can tell) by what others may think of her, but she is who she wants to be, not what someone else wants for her.
Isn't that awesome? I think so. 


One thing many seem to struggle with is figuring out who they want to be and following through and actually doing it. 
I'm included in this, don't get me wrong. 
 Of course, we always want to be better. 
(I have an entire other blog post based on that one sentence, stay tuned.)
The thing that distinguishes those who succeed in their personal self improvement related goals and those who don't (from what I've seen, at least) derives primarily from two things: 
1. a positive/negative attitude
2. drive/desire/caring/etc
If you have a negative perception of yourself, it is harder to believe that you're capable of becoming the even more awesome edition of yourself which you totally could be.
And if you don't want it bad enough, you won't get it. Obviously.
I see this in myself especially in two of my weakest areas: in school and in working out. Learning is awesome, reading articles pertaining to psychology, religion, sociology, or ethics could even be considered a hobby, but my educational self esteem has been lower than necessary. Although I am totally capable of more, I've been held back many times by telling myself (and others) that I just don't have it in me when I totally do. Last fall I both over-committed myself socially (as per usual) and took a number of more difficult classes than I'd taken thus far in university, and my parents expressed a lack of confidence in my ability to succeed which reflected the way I used to view myself. However, I sought to overcome these obstacles and did. Looking back, the main changes I made in myself to become successful included a positive attitude about what I'm capable of and a drive to reach my goal.

It's certainly not as easy as it sounds, but it's doable. You can do whatever you want (within reason, let's not break any laws here). Train your mind to think positively (oop, another blog post coming), be empowered, you're way more awesome and lovely and capable than you imagine. Don't care so much what others think. Set goals for yourself. Be what you want to be.

Disclaimer: 
The above image does not mean that unicorns are better than rhinos. 
They're just my personal preference.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Do Not Know How To Pronounce The URL To This Blog


Well, here I am. Starting another blog. After chronicling a semester abroad, I realized that I really enjoy blogging. Putting my thoughts out there, going on tangents, letting cyberspace know all the mundane details....I love it. And since blogs are so focused on self (although the purpose of the blog may be for others, the content is usually about that individuals lifestyle, DIY projects, fashion, adventures, etc) (notice: I said "I" four times in like three sentences) this is a nice place for me to decide what I want to talk about and share myself with whoever ends up following along. In addition, the beauty of a blog is that it doesn't necessarily have to be high maintenance. I make no promises about how frequently posts will be made here, and this may just be a thing this summer while I have little to no social life living in my hometown which hasn't actually been my home for around two years now.

It's kind of the middle of the night right now, so I'm  not entirely sure how much sense I'm making, but I don't entirely care to go back and edit it. Reader discretion advised: I don't edit blogs before posting them, aside from a quick skim through to ensure what I post is not entirely nonsensical. I realize that there's a double negative in that statement, and I'll leave it right there. Grammar Nazis and English majors out there: be warned. I'm not here to impress you.


That being said, I really am tired. But I feel the need to explain this blog real quick, because doing it later will just be a chore and I'll probably be in the mood to talk about something else.


The title to this blog: "Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Be afraid of nothing." is my paraphrase from a book I've been reading recently by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yes, you guessed it, I've been reading through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, the pace at which I've been reading is utterly shameful due to my over-investment in social networking and/or my ADHD and recent propensity to read articles more than actual literature). I really like that quote and feel that it relates to where I'm at right now. Although I'm back in Texas, which seems (and literally is) very far from the excitement of Europe, life is what I make of it. I could come back and live a drab existence, or I can live my life to it's full potential (cliche, sure, but true). And really, the only thing to be afraid of is fear itself (I'm full of cliche's).


To explain the URL to this blog (I'm working on learning how to pronounce it): that word "ewlychiad" is the Welsh word for efflorescence (thanks to the wonderful BBC translator). Efflorescence is a word used in chemistry, but also means 1. the state or a period of flowering. Or 2. an example or result of growth and development. It's become more and more apparent over the last few months that I am immersed in a time of changing and becoming, so that's why that's significant. Why translate it into Welsh? Partly because I'm moderately obsessed with traveling/going back to Europe. Partly because the URL "efflorescence.blogger.com" is already taken and I was too lazy to come up with something new. 


Why have a bike background, Lydia? Well folks, I  just think it's cute.


So here's my blog and now you know the reason for the titles and the names. Now to bed and I will hopefully be more entertaining in the future. Welcome aboard and goodnight!


Also I don't know what the deal is or why everything has to be highlighted....

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/7547383/?claim=pj34nachj2y">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>