Thursday, December 31, 2015

It's been real.

The new year always makes us victim to a dozen cliches, but this year taught me a lot about the world, life, and myself. 
The first one is the worst one, but that doesn't mean it is isn't survivable. 
You can't please everyone, and you can't solve every problem. Every once in a while, do what makes you happy.
Growing up means watching your heroes turn human in front of your eyes.
It's okay to walk away from people...but second [or third, or sometimes fifteenth] chances are okay too. 
Enjoy the little things. On the days when nothing is going right, it's going to be the midnight drink runs and canyon drives that keep you sane. 

I've watched hearts break and things fall apart. I've made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I've watched my siblings grow up more this year than I think they ever have. I've changed jobs and discovered all sorts of new opportunities. I figured out what makes me the most happy, and learned to listen to what I want. 
This year has been hard, there's no denying that. But it has also been a pretty magical one. 
Cheers to 2015, and here's to 2016. I can't wait to see what the next 365 have in store.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The magic is real.

I don't know if it's the excess snow, or the Christmas music constantly in the background, but life has been a little more than magical lately. 
It may be the lack of responsibility or the fact that I actually survived this semester, but I put away my planner for a minute and zeroed in on the little things rather than focusing on the "big picture." 
That's when the magic hits. 
When you're on yet another drink run with your roommates, and you get caught up in the backseat karaoke performance of some song that will never make it big—but right now, Allie and Riley are the stars of the show and no one can tell them otherwise. 
When you're at the dinner table, celebrating graduation and big kid jobs, and you know things will never be just like they are now because Boise feels like a lifetime away and next semester is as uncertain as the weather—but right now, the four of you have found a second to  celebrate and plan dinners just like this one with husbands and babies and the same kind of feeling. 
When you're laying in front of a fireplace, watching your best friend get mad about the stupid log that won't light and you're avoiding homework and finals like the plague—but right now, the Christmas tree gives just enough light that you can see him pull another face at the fire and you laugh before scooting just a little closer. 
When you're listening to the 20th Christmas story of the week, most of which you know by heart—but right now, you're home, it's snowing outside, and you're never too old for Christmas picture books. 

I believe in magic. The magic of friendship, the magic of words, the magic of memory...and most importantly, the magic of Christmas. 
It truly is about the little things. Because the most important gift we've ever received was the simplest of them all. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Beyond blessed.

You know the saying, "you don't know what you have til it's gone?"
Well it's 12:30 am on Thanksgiving, and I'm alone in the Kappa Delta house with Lynette, and I'm missing the chaos that is my house before any major holiday. I hate that I'll be serving 1300 people all day tomorrow. But it's made me extra grateful for things this holiday--and even more excited to get home tomorrow night.

That being said, it's about time for a gratitude post. This year has been the roller coaster of all roller coasters, and I've been humbled on more than one occasion...and I've realized just how lucky I am, even when I don't know what on earth I'm doing.

I'm grateful not only for my mom and my dad, but for their marriage. They support me in everything I do, keep my head screwed on straight, give me advice on everything under the sun, and their support of each other is my ultimate #relationship goals.
I'm grateful for my siblings. A few nights ago, we were talking about the havoc we'd wreaked as kids, and I couldn't stop laughing at all the things the six of us had done. From Britt and I sleeping in the same bed til we were 12, to Ryan using me for my separate iTunes account and everything in between, I could not have gotten more lucky with the five monkeys I call mine.
I'm grateful for my extended family--and I mean the friends that have become family too. Our family group message is the highlight of my day, and driving into our culdesac feels like coming home to a piece of heaven. I've lived a charmed life, and these people are half the magic.
I'm grateful for my education--and the freedom I have to study what I'm passionate about. Mock it all you want, but the fact that I can nerd out about British Literature and Gothic writers AND get a degree out of it is something I take for granted. And someday, I hope I can instill that love of literature in the kids I teach, and I'm grateful for that dream too.
I'm grateful for my BFF's. Nettie and Em and Riley have taught me more about unconditional love in the last year than I could have ever imagined. They know when I'm being stupid, but still come to me for help--and know when to help me find my footing again. Liz and Zoe keep me sane and know me better than I know myself, and you don't get rid of friends like that.
I'm grateful for friends that never leave. Brian and I have been through hell and back the last three years and everybody has told us to walk away--but some people cause this sigh of relief to come over you, no matter how long it's been, and I'm glad that sense of comfort never leaves. Same goes for my freshman roommates: we've been through weddings, missions, and we've moved on to babies, but we get together and nothing has changed. They still know me better than anybody else and they will forever and always be my best and closest friends.
I'm grateful for my sisters. Everybody needs the kind of support that comes from 100+ women with the same ideals and goals. If I could put into words how it feels to stand in front of such a powerful group, or how it feels to stand next to them, behind them, or with them, I would. It's an experience that changes who you are--and I'm lucky to be a part of it.
I'm grateful for my trials. It sounds cliche, I know. But if I've learned anything this last year, it's that the things you experience shape who you become, and I like the person I'm becoming. It hasn't been easy, and I wish it involved half as many tears, but you don't appreciate the sunshine without a little rain.
Finally, I'm grateful for this gospel. This year has brought me to my knees more times than I count, and I don't know where I would be without the foundation that this gospel provides. Every heartbreak I've endured, every ounce of joy I've experienced, every desire I've felt, every blessing I've recognized...they've all been a direct product of the Savior and his presence in my life. As I've watched loved ones pass away, marriages fall apart, and especially as I've watched my little sister prepare for her mission, I've grown to appreciate my eternal family more than I can describe. The power of the Atonement is real. Our Heavenly Father is real, and he loves us--so much. He knows every pain and joy and doubt we're feeling, and I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of that truth.
My life is by no means perfect. But it is truly wonderful--and I know I take a lot of what I have for granted, when I'm really blessed beyond measure.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To my little.

This week is better than Christmas for Kappa Delta, and I wish I could bottle this excitement and excess love and use it on everybody I know.
Now little, I don't know a whole lot about you. I know your favorite color, your favorite treat, your major....all those basics, but I don't know you. But I've watched you embrace KD these last few weeks and I couldn't be more excited to add you to our little family [because only the best get to join the House of Dimes] and get to know what an incredible person you are.
Two years ago, I went through my own big/little week with absolutely no idea who I was going to find waiting for me Thursday night, and I'm sure you're feeling the same way. All I knew was that I wanted somebody to look up to, somebody to shop, study, relax, cry, and laugh with, and somebody that could be the big sister I never had. My big is everything I wanted, and everything I didn't even know I needed; and I hope I can be the same for you. As wonderful as my big was my first year in Kappa Delta, I didn't truly appreciate her until I had littles of my own to mentor, look after, and become friends with. It's truly a new kind of love, one that I am excited to share with you.
I'm going to do my best to be what you need. Whether it's somebody to study with you in the library, somebody to try a thousand formal dresses on for, somebody to hold you when the boys are being mean, or someone's bed to sleep in when you're alone in your apartment, I'm here. If you need a friend to go with you to an awkward party, an emergency plan to get out of a bad date, or somebody to binge watch all of Grey's Anatomy with, I'm your girl. I'll probably smother you with a lot of love, ask a lot of questions and seem a little needy, and mother you more than you want....but it's all out of love. We may not always get along, and I'm not perfect. But I will always, always, always have your back.
But most importantly, I am here to help you find a love for this organization and everything that comes along with it. Kappa Delta has shaped my college experience, and I could not be more excited to watch you experience this sisterhood--and to experience it alongside you.
Happy guessing--I'll see you Thursday!!
I love you already, little one.
XOXO, Big.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My General Conference Soapbox.

I'm a stubborn person--and most of you know that alone is an understatement.
I'm also very competitive and I hate losing.
I don't like being wrong, and I have a really hard time when things don't go my way.
[Yes, I realize these are all weaknesses, and yes, I am working on being better].
Y'all can imagine how well I handled losing relationships I had stubbornly competed for for years despite them never going my way.
NEWSFLASH: I didn't handle it well.
In fact, I threw several tantrums, cried [a lot], and threw a very large pity party for a hot minute.
I'd put a lot of love, emotion, and effort into things I thought were going to last forever--and refused to accept the fact that I was wrong.

If we're being completely honest, I was upset, I was devastated, and I was very, very, very lost. I felt like I'd lost my right arm and I couldn't seem to find my bearings anywhere. You should also know that I hate losing control of anything [or never having it in the first place], and despite everything in my life that was [and still is] going so incredibly right, I felt like I'd completely lost control of everything.

Since I was little, I've been taught to ask for help when I had a problem...and sometimes that asking is simply a whispered prayer when things seem especially hard. So I did that. I asked for any kind of help, advice, anything. Not an hour later, I got a text from a friend asking if I had ever read the book "The Infinite Atonement" by Tad R. Callister. At that point, I hadn't, but she told me to read one of the chapters.
The internet is a wonderful place, and I quickly found what she was talking about. Elder Callister discusses the Atonement in relation to what he says is "suffering unrelated to sin" and said,
"Impossible as it may seem, he has somehow taken upon himself those feelings of inadequacy, sometimes even utter hopelessness, that accompany our rejections and weaknesses."
I'm an English major. I read all the time--and I have an almost obsessive affinity for meaningful words and inspirational quotes. This passage of writing? It was written just for me, I'm convinced of it, at least in that moment.
The next day in Institute, we studied the same book.
That night, my best friend sent me a quote from a talk by Chieko Okasaki that reiterated everything I'd read.
I got the message. Despite feeling like I was the only one in the world feeling like this--I wasn't alone, and someone did understand every aspect of what I was feeling.

Fast forward to General Conference at the beginning of this month, and I was feeling much better than I had been. There was still this obnoxious little ache every time I was reminded of what I was missing, but I'd accepted the way things were going.
I was just confused about where to go now.

In seminary, I was taught to go into Conference Weekend with any questions I needed answered--so I did.

I got off work and turned on the radio in my car just in time to hear Sister Neill F. Marriott say, "in order to have a healed and faithful heart, we must first allow it to break."
I'd let my heart break. I was ready for it to be fixed.
The rest of General Conference was full of speakers reiterating the idea that God wants us to have joy, and that we need to let our trials/problems/whatever is causing us pain, go.
We have too much to be happy about--it is time to move on.

Every six months, I go into General Conference with a question on my mind--a question vastly different from the time before. And every time, that question is answered.
That's not to say the problems fix themselves immediately.
Some days my heart hurts and I still don't know exactly what I'm doing. But I am now fully aware of the fact that I am not alone--and that moving on doesn't mean giving up, it just means there is something more out there.

I'm so grateful for not only inspired church leaders and an inspired prophet, but also for friends who listen to the spiritual promptings they receive. General Conference is one of those things I am more grateful for every time it comes around, and I hope I never take it for granted.
Our Heavenly Father is real, and He listens to our every word. The Atonement, although I don't understand it completely and probably never will, is the single most incredible thing that has happened on this Earth. And the church is true--I may not be sure of a lot, but those things I do know, and I believe them with all my heart.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Growing pains.

Growing up is a funny thing. Most of you remember the feeling that encompassed your senior year of high school, right? That overwhelming feeling that this was your last football game, your last dance, your last hurrah; coupled with an underwhelming sensation that finally you were going somewhere you'd never been before. It was scary and uncomfortable, but you handled it okay because you knew that if it all came down to it, everyone you cared about within those high school walls would be back in your hometown come Christmas Break and summer vacation. 

You get to your college dorm or your first college class and the newness of it all is awe-inspiring. You stay out way too late, talk to a dozen new people, and revel in the glory of this newfound freedom. 
And as these college years go on, things start to start to change. 
At least I did. 

Three years later, and everything is different and I never thought I'd be nostalgic for change. 
Those first five roommates of mine are all married, have served missions, or are graduating with me in the spring. 
The boy I wasted school nights with and promised two years to and I don't make eye contact anymore. 
The new-ness of Logan has worn off and been replaced with a feeling of pure adoration; everywhere from the TSC fountains to the English building have some kind of memory tied to them. 
And even as this year has started, I've watched the people who made my world go round take a back seat and I've ached for the way things were a few months ago--even while recognizing how healthy change is. 

Nostalgia is a weird feeling, especially when you're missing something that hasn't left yet and aching for something you haven't even found. It's the panic that fills your head when you're eating breakfast and you start thinking about how on earth you'll stay in contact with your best friend even though she's sitting right next to you. It's the chaos that envelops you while filling out applications for an internship in New York while the boy who will always have a piece of your heart rambles on about Texas. It's all these turmoil driven things, but it's also the calm that comes as you pull into your parents driveway or let yourself forget about what's coming as you listen to yet another piece of spoken-word poetry at 3 am. 

I know graduation is eight months out, but I'm already feeling nostalgic for this place and the people in it. 
Eight months from now, we're moving on to bigger and better things; and unlike high school graduation, "going home" means more than making the drive through Sardine Canyon, it means cross-country flights, real jobs, and saying goodbyes that last more than just a weekend. 

It's a scary thought. And in answer to your questions: no, I have no idea what I'm doing after graduation yet. Honestly, I don't even know how next semester is going to go! But I do know that lately, I'm both grateful for and dreading change--and I'm diving a little deeper into everything I do. Council meetings won't kill me, I do have time for ice cream with [insert name here], my class readings are actually teaching me something, and [despite everything my sleep-deprived college brain is telling me] I am not too old for another football game or dance party. 

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place. Like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again" 
-Azar Nafisi

Here's to you, senior year. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Just another sorority recruitment post.

"It gives your college experience a new dynamic"
"You meet tons of people who are interested in the same things you are/motivated like you are/want new opportunities like you do" 
"It will give you a home away from home"
"You'll have [insert number here] people you can call in the middle of the night"

If you've spoken to a member of a sorority about going through recruitment, you've heard these, and a dozen other reasons just like it, as to why you should join the Greek community. 
Don't get me wrong, I support and stand by these statements ten thousand percent, but there are things you learn from being in a sorority that don't double as an or TSM article. 
^^^ those may be some of the reasons that sparked my interest in Greek life, and maybe even the reasons I joined initially. 
But what really matter are the reasons I stayed: 

1. Joining a sorority made me accountable. 
After joining Kappa Delta, I was thrown into a whirlwind of social events, academic workshops, and weekly meetings. My GPA mattered to 104 people that weren't my parents or myself, and the committees I was on really needed my help. Joining a sorority is fun and games--but it isn't all fun and games. It's a commitment, and I mean that beyond the "not four years but for life" we all wear on our t-shirts. I have a GPA to maintain, a schedule I'm held to, and priorities that had to be defined--and I've benefitted from that in a dozen different ways. 

2. Joining a sorority made me step outside my comfort zone. 
One of the things we tell our new members is that "you are always wearing your letters," sure we have our own idea of when and where our letters should actually be worn, but from the second you sign your bid card, you are associating yourself with letters that will always be a part of what defines you. After joining, I was suddenly part of a group of girls who were making changes on campus, leading different clubs and organizations, and making a name for themselves--and there's always some kind of publicity focused on the Greek community. This kind of attention sometimes takes me out of my comfort zone. There have been several instances at work where I have been questioned about being a member of the Greek community, and even more in classes where comments have been made about me being in a sorority. Defending (or even discussing) my involvement is something that has taken me miles outside of what I previously deemed comfortable--but has also taught me about communicating with others. 
3. Joining a sorority taught me patience.  
Sure, joining a sorority gave me friends like me. Friends who want to be in charge of everything, don't know how to say no, friends who believe the same things I do, and friends who are just as loud as I am. But the most interesting friendships I've made are the ones who have challenged everything I thought before and broke the mold for the things I'd done previously. I'm friends with girls who were cheerleaders, and girls who played football. I'm friends with girls who love glitter more than I do [if that's even possible], and girls who wouldn't be caught dead wearing sparkles. When you join a sorority, you're thrown into a group of girls who have different majors than you, come from different backgrounds than you do, and want to end up different places than you do--but somehow you all come together under the idea that you love an organization in different ways, and that's okay. I'm not even going to try and pretend like I'm best friends with all of my sisters. Some of them drive me absolutely bonkers, but because of our mutual love and determination to further our organization, I love them, and that's taught me about patience, tolerance, and understanding like nothing has before. 

4. Joining a sorority taught me about weakness. 
Y'all know I'm loud, a little bit bossy, and thrive when I'm the center of attention. But what y'all might not know is that I actually hate emotions. I'm a huge crybaby...but there aren't a lot of people who have seen me cry. I don't like talking about my feelings, or being vulnerable, because I've always equated them with weakness. One of my best friends told me one time that "there's a difference between talking at someone and talking to them" and I'm really really bad at telling people how I feel--but I'm getting better. Spring semester was rough for a bit, and I found myself in the chapter room crying to my best friend at 1:30 in the morning. A little while later, after I thought I'd done all the crying I could do, we went upstairs, because I was determined to distract myself from the issue at hand. Y'all know how heartbreak works, and I started crying over the dumbest things, in front of sisters I never would have normally cried in front of. But rather than judging me, or telling me I was being a baby, one simply looked at me and said, "I'm not good at the emotional stuff--but I'm going to sit here until you're okay." That week/month/whatever taught me that it was okay to not be okay, but that things were going to be okay sooner or later--and that tears did not mean weakness, and saying no did not mean you failed.
I also learned very quickly that my sisters and I don't come from a cookie cutter. I don't have the same talents as them, the same experience as them, or even the same ideas as them--but that doesn't make me any less talented,  less experienced, or less smart than them.

5. Joining a sorority taught me about unconditional love. 
You've all heard about the unbreakable sisterhood bonds that come with joining a sorority--but nobody can truly explain the strength that comes with 100+ girls standing behind you. The first Monday I was a KD, I participated in a DIY fashion show on campus, and I was shocked to walk off the stage with my model and see a dozen of my new sisters in the audience; girls who had hurried over after their meetings to support me. They didn't even know me, and yet they were there cheering me on and screaming my name when my team won.
Fast forward two years, and those same girls were the ones walking with me to a party I was dreading, and they were the ones dancing with me and making sure I was okay. They were the ones making over 100 crepes for me at 1:00 in the morning because Mom's Day just had to have a crepe bar.
I'm not saying everybody's always going to be happy with you, and they're not always going to agree with your decisions. But they'll stand behind you while you do what you do, back you up when things get rough, and hold you when everything crashes and burns [and if you're lucky, they won't even say "I told you so" too many times].

I don't fit the "typical sorority girl" mold. I hate Diet Coke, I can't walk in a pair of heels to save my life, and I honestly didn't even know what Toby Keith meant when he sang about red solo cups until my third year of college. I don't get the point of monogramming all of my possessions, and [gasp!] I don't a single Alex & Ani bracelet.
Never in a million years did I see myself throwing what I know and panicking about formal dresses; moving into a house with 24 girls or obsessing over a little. But it's year three, and I don't know where I'd be without KD.
My friends would probably argue that I'd have more free time or be a little less stressed--but there's something about this little army of supportive, successful, beautiful women that keeps me hanging in there.

I joined for the promise of new opportunities, leadership experience, and dozens of friends. 
I stayed because of values I fell in love with, a support system that keeps me standing, and a couple hundred girls that inspire me daily. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

21 is fun.

There aren't enough sparkly words to describe this weekend--but there's enough glitter and gold in my room to prove just how sparkly it was. 
From sparklers in my breakfast Friday morning to a cake lit with a blow-torch Saturday night, and enough pebble ice, Dr. Pepper, giraffes, and glitter to last a life-time, I had a pretty wonderful birthday. 
I got pretty lucky to be surrounded by dozens of wonderful people who make my world go round, and they gave me another couple dozen reasons to be in love with my life and consider myself among the luckiest girls in the world. 
So here's to another year full of friends, glitter, and not nearly enough sleep--and cheers to the year that taught me to fall in love with my life. 
21 is going to be fun. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

A thousand remember-when's.

It's 2 o'clock in the morning, and due to an over-zealous Sunday nap, sleep is nowhere to be found.
After I tried Netflix and my journal and Pinterest...I resorted to my photo album and all the wonders it possesses. 
A year ago, I was on the coast with the people I love more than words, and so much has changed since we said goodbye to Beach Street it makes my heart hurt. 
The canyon wind banging my front door around is significantly less soothing than the ocean outside those windows, and there isn't a lot I wouldn't give for a fresh crab dinner and front-room dancing right now. 
Nostalgia is a funny thing, isn't it? 
The way it makes you ache for things you thought you'd forgotten about: people who are part of your past but somehow make it to your future, places you've been but haven't seen for a time, and things you haven't remembered until a song or a place or a person triggers's really just not fair sometimes how easily you get swept back into a mess of used-to-be's and remember-when's. 
But all those used-to-be's and remember-when's are important, because they've built the going-to-be's and here-and-now's and sometimes it's okay to live in those memories for a minute—the present seems all the more spectacular if you do. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Red, white, blue is in the skies.

I'm all about traditions and holidays and the Fourth of July is my favorite of them all. 
I mean, you can't really go wrong with a holiday that involves a lot of sunshine, BBQ, and fireworks, can you? 
We're so lucky to live in the country that we do...and I'm not ashamed at how giddy this weekend has made me. 
#blessed that this kid has stuck around for not one, not two, but three Huntsville adventures. I don't think I even know how to do the Fourth without him. We've been through just about everything these last two years, and somehow we haven't driven each other completely crazy yet. I keep him from being a stubborn knucklehead, and he keeps me from talking everybody else's ears off. We balance each other out quite well, even if 98% of the population thinks we're a bad idea. 

[Sing "because we're the three best friends that anybody could ever have" while you look at this picture. Somehow, I scored a spot with these two weirdos, and even though sometimes Ash takes Brian's side over mine and none of us are good at keeping secrets from each other, I'd be totally and completely lost without them]
Only the best kind of people get to spend the Fourth in Huntsville. It sounds silly to go to a little Utah town, but I doubt anywhere else would be as much fun for hours of lawn games and naps and barbecue. Huntsville will always be my happy place because of this friend/family reunion [and besides, there's nowhere else I'd rather sing along to Toby Keith and Bruce Springsteen with my closest friends and the good people of Huntsville].

After the Women's World Cup win today, I'm feeling pretty freaking patriotic. I love this country--and I love the freedoms it gives me. 
I am most definitely proud to be an American. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

On your graduation day.

Somedays, I'm reveling in the fact that I'm not 21 yet while a majority of the people I spend my time with are hitting 23 and 25 and I don't even have a horizontal drivers license.
But on days like today, I feel really old and just want to be a five-year-old ballerina-fairy-princess because that makes more sense to me than the fact that I have a sister old enough to graduate from high school.
So Britty, here's to you and everything that you have coming for you in the next few years.
Today, you'll walk across a stage in front of an arena full of people [most of which are dressed in awful brown and gold robes] and get this little piece of paper that certifies you should be ready for the real world. Here's the truth: you've been a part of the "real world" for 18 years, and while these next four years will certainly be a change, they're really just a continuation of what you've been doing. So don't stress. But here's some advice.

1. This next semester is going to be full of a lot of changes, and I'm not just talking about your education and where you live. You won't go to sleep as early, and somehow, you'll still be expected to make it to 8:30 classes. You're going to start craving weird things like quesadillas and grilled cheese--but that's because that will be basically all you have in your fridge at any given point in your life.
2. Embrace these changes--and fall in love with the independence you've been given. I'm not saying you should run wild and go crazy, because you're the good kid and that was my job and mom and dad may have a heart attack if you try and tell them that you're hanging out at a fraternity house too, but have some fun. When your roommates say "McDonald's?" at 2 am, go with them. There is NO SHAME in watching a movie three times in one day or finishing an entire season of Grey's Anatomy in a week. Midnight sledding down Old Main hill is something everyone should do, and swimming in the TSC fountains is basically a rite of passage. Go watch True Aggie Night, and for the love of all that is good in the world, watch an Aggie Basketball game (or two or twelve or all of them).
3. Use the independence wisely. You're so smart....but don't let that be a crutch. Spend lots of time in the library (and ask me where the best places to study are. I know where the best rooms are and could probably use the study time too). Go to the gym, because the freshman 15 is a real thing and you can make the Fieldhouse your friend. SI's are a really good thing, and so is meeting with your professors/advisers/TA's. I promise it will make a difference.
4. Try something play a new sport [Campus Rec classes are the BOMB], join a new club [*cough*go through sorority recruitment*cough*], or go to a party [like the HOWL or Mardi Gras so you can hang out with me]. The moral of the story is: you're going to meet so many people up here, so you better learn to love it.
5. The most important thing [in my opinion] is to not forget what's important. Call mom, because you need it more than she does [trust me, I'm sure she gets tired of the dozens of phone calls about frosting and stain removal and books to read but she won't tell you that]. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and take some vitamins too because you DO NOT want to be sick over finals week. And, [I'm basically begging you here], HANG OUT WITH ME. At least until you know where all the buildings are and I've thoroughly embarrassed you by being too loud--as usual.

But really, Britty, today's a big day. You're a real adult now, and I've never been more excited to share something with you. We may have moved past sharing a room, matching outfits, and twin baby dolls....but I can't wait to share my love for USU with you and watch you fall in love with the Aggies like I have [I'm also stoked to have you up here because now you can kill spiders for me and make me food because you're the brave, smart, domestic one, right?].

Congratulations you brilliant Dart, you. I am so proud of you and everything you've learned, done, and become. You've always been one step ahead of me, doing things a hundred times better than I can, and I'm lucky to have an example like you. Thanks for being my kinder, smarter, more creative, and more stubborn partner-in-crime. And I cannot wait to have you with me where the sagebrush grows. See you soon, Future Aggie. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Truly charming.

The end of the school year always makes me a little nostalgic--and this year is worse than all the rest.

I graduate this next year, and it's making me feel some type of way about this being the last time for a lot of things up here.
This year has challenged, changed, broke, taught, fixed, and shaped me like nothing really has. It was nothing like I expected it would be...and somehow everything I needed.
This year has been about new adventures, lessons learned, and finding out who I am and what's important to me. For the first time, I feel like I learned what college was really about, and finally validated what everybody tells you about college. You know those pieces of advice that come with graduating high school, or those little anecdotes that seem to happen during everybody else's college career? Hi, welcome to my junior year of college and everything I learned.
I learned the truth behind how wonderful it is to move out of the house and how much fun it is to be out on  your own. I also learned how great it feels to pull into my driveway to a bundle of my squealing sisters and forget about school for a minute. 
I learned just what everyone means when they say you'll make your best friends in college: the people I met up here have become my family. I also learned how it feels to long for the people who used to claim those spots. 
I've learned what love feels like beyond high school dances and midnight curfews, but I also learned that the real thing hurts a lot more and involves significantly more emotion. 
I know what people mean when they say you learn how to stand on your own two feet and be an adult, but I also realized that it's okay to call your mom at 1:30 in the morning about a boy. 
I know what meeting new people is like, but I also know what it feels like to say goodbye to high school friends.
I've learned about biology and mitosis, and how to start conversations with girls during sorority recruitment. 
I've read enough Caribbean Literature to last a lifetime, and I learned how to write missionary emails and letters like a pro.
I studied physics for a hot minute, and realized I actually like to cook things that aren't just Ramen or chicken nuggets. 
I read a lot of American Literature and folklore, and finally admitted that I'm really bad at taking relationship advice from anybody else, and emotional stability is not something I'm super good at. 
I wrote papers on feminism, racism, and poetic voice, and recognized that sometimes you have to do things that make you happy, that might make other people unhappy. 
This year has been full of all sorts of learning, every kind of heartbreak, a touch of denial, a lot of emotion, redefined love and loss, and brought the most overwhelming kind of contentment and satisfaction I have ever experienced. 
"The first one is the worst one," "when it rains it pours," "life is what you make it," blah, blah, blah, you name the cliche, Year Three embodied it. But nothing proved quite as true as "the third time is the charm." 

Junior year, you were truly charming. Now here's to you, senior year! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day.

Moms are there to get rid of the monsters in your closet when you're little, and to distract you from the ugliness of the real world when you're older. 
Moms are there to put bandaids on scraped knees, and to hold together broken hearts. 
Moms are there to help with science fair projects in elementary school, and help determine the correct frosting consistency from an hour away. 
Moms are there to drive you anywhere you need to go as a child, and to wait up for you when you drive home as a [kind of] adult. 

I'm more grateful for my mama every single day, because now I realize how much I took her for granted before. She's the first person I call when I get asked on a date, and the first person I call when I'm home from that date. She's the only person who's cooking advice I trust. She's the only one who I know won't judge me for being catty about some things, but will listen, and kindly tell me to "be the bigger person, Ash." She knows my frustrations better than anybody, gives the best advice...and it doesn't hurt that all of this usually involves some kind of cupcake or frosting too. ;) 
Because only my mom would have dinner waiting for me in the fridge every weekend I came home. Only my mom would answer the phone at 1:30 in the morning and talk sense into me through my broken-hearted tears, and then proceed to come up with a plan as a "closet mobster." Only my mom understands my love for Audrey Hepburn, Michael Buble, and Fiiz. 
She's a cake-making wizard who somehow finds the time to be superwoman to 6 bundles of chaos and if someday I can be half the mother she is, I'll be the happiest mom on the planet. 

So here's to you Mom. Thank you for teaching me how to bake, to appreciate music, and how manage my sanity reasonably well. Thank you for teaching me about unconditional love, true forgiveness, and strength--no matter the circumstance. Thank you for helping me believe in everything, from this wonderful gospel to the magic of literature and everything in between. Thank you for teaching me what I am capable of, showing me when I need to change, and helping me recognize when I deserve better than I think. 
Thank you for being my best friend. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

He's a cool Grandpa.

Happy birthday to the one who taught me how to fish [and didn't argue when fishing turned into laying in the sun on the roof of his boat], the one who encourages the sass my mother gave me, showed me that the "you won't get any cake if you eat that frosting off the cake" threats my grandma [and now mom] made were empty, and the only one who can make multiple marriages jokes at my expense without making me lose my temper. 
Happy birthday to the initial source of our family Aggie Pride[I mean, lets be real, he's the reason behind my love of Aggie Ice Cream since that was the first real food I ever ate], the one who put up with a thousand and a half sleepovers with all the cousins,  and the person who figured out the only way to keep me quiet was to promise me food. 
Happy birthday to one of the greatest examples and one of the biggest influences in my life. From a summer spent learning and teaching about the history of the Church in Nauvoo, to Family Home Evening lessons amidst dozens of screaming children, and learning the importance of forever families. 
Happy birthday to the one who taught me to believe in the magic of the "Quiet Game," robot-deer, and myself, the one who taught me to love National Geographic documentaries, sushi, and Secondhand Lions. 

He doesn't think he's a "cool" grandpa [even though he has Facebook now!], but he'll always be my favorite grandpa--and I'm not just saying that because he's my only grandpa. I'm grateful for the example he's given me and my family, and for the person he believes I can become. 
Not many people can say they have a grandpa who will fit an ice cream date in the middle of their board meetings and interviews and appointments....but I do. And for that? He'll always be my cool grandpa, and one of the most important people in my life.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

To my little.

Tomorrow you get to know who I am--and I can't even begin to explain the emotions that I'm experiencing right now. I am so excited to finally be able to call you mine, and I can't wait to watch you through your experience in Kappa Delta.
Little, I've admired you from the very first day I met you. Since then, in talking to people who know you, I've begun to admire you even more. Your motivation motivates me. Your humor parallels mine. Your leadership skills and desire to learn are the embodiment of everything we strive for. And last (but not least), your sarcasm is a trait rivaled only by our family line.
Little, I don't know everything about you yet--and you know very little about me. But I'm going to do my best to be the best friend and mentor you could ask for. I can't wait to show you how much Kappa Delta means to me, and I can't wait to share this experience with you. I'll be here for the nights you need a break from homework, and waiting with treats on the days where homework is an absolute must. I'll be here for movie nights and ice cream binges and girls' nights. I'll be front and center at everything you do, and I'll be behind the scenes before hand for anything you need help with. I'll be the ear you need when things aren't going right, and the cheerleader you'd never ask for when everything is going smoothly. I'll be there to talk, to listen, and to be the voice of reason if needs be.
Now I'm not perfect, but I promise I will do my best to be what you need. And most importantly? I'll be there to help you find an even deeper love for this sisterhood and everything that comes with it.
As a little, I wanted somebody to vent to, cry to, laugh with, and look up to. Somebody who would motivate me, keep my head out of the clouds, and remind me what I deserve--and I found that in my big. I hope I can do the same for you. I love you already, miss little. And I can't wait until tomorrow.
Until then,
Love you to the moon and back,

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On love.

As a little girl, you grow up reading, watching, listening to, and acting out love stories.
Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the name it. 
Love is that all encompassing dream that makes you blush at the 7th grade Valentine's Dance, cry like a baby during The Notebook, and pin an assortment of wedding dresses and proposal videos despite the fact that you're hopelessly single. 
You dream of the feeling you read about, talk about, and sing about. 

Before you find it, love is a wonderful idea, a kind of elusive reward you're not sure if you'll ever find. I thought falling in love was a stroke of luck--something that came around with Halley's comet or a leap year. Something I'd find if I was in the right place at exactly the right time, and then some fairy godmother would grant me permission to post pictures with sappy captions and sing along with the love songs on the radio. 

But that's not how it happens. It's something that comes where you least expect it and makes you completely disregard what people are telling you. 
It's a dizzying, exhausting, all-encompassing kind of feeling that leaves you breathless and energized in the weirdest kind of contradicting way. They say you "fall" in love because that's the only way to describe the constant sensation of butterflies that gets coupled with this subconscious idea that everything that is happening is too good to be true. But despite the fall that's occurring, this person becomes your "go-to." The first and last person you talk to every day, the deciding factor in your weekend plans, and whether you like to admit it or not, this kind of glue that holds you together. 

And then, all of the sudden, that's gone. 
And the feeling of breathless excitement turns into forgetting how to breathe. 
"Heartbreak" is a funny way to describe it, because it feels like more than your heart is broke.
The parachute that held you while you fell has disappeared and you're free-falling into a world without this person.
There's a never-ending pit in the bottom of your stomach which is weird because your stomach also feels like it has a thousand and a half knots in it.
Every insecurity you've ever had is suddenly glaring right back at you--and somehow, in the middle of all of this, you're supposed to be able to keep on keeping on and be "okay."
Right then, as you're still trying to wrap your head around what just happened, being okay is the furthest thing from what you're trying to accomplish in that second.

Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, these heartbreaks won't mean a lot. But for a minute, your only focus is getting through--not over, because let's be real here, you don't get over these things quickly--this metaphorical pain that has very literal manifestation through tears and shaking hands and gasping breath. But you work through it.

It takes time. You have to give yourself time to be sad, and that's okay. It hurts...but that shows how much you cared. And so you give yourself the time to cry and be upset. You blast some really angry break up songs [ my recommendations? this. this. this. and of course, this].  You spend a lot of time at the gym trying to get rid of some of the emotion. You vent a little--or a lot. And then you move on.
Because as much as you'd like to be able to have a say in everybody else's emotions, you can't make someone's heart feel differently about you.

It hurts. I'm not even going to try and deny that. But it's also not the end of the world. Because when you think about're always better off. And I mean that in the nicest way possible to all the ex-boyfriends out there. Every girl (and boy) deserves somebody who is completely and totally obsessed with them. Somebody who loves the quirks that drive everybody else a little bit crazy. Somebody that finally finishes the string of "you can do better" because they're the best.
Getting your heart broken sucks. But there's a new kind of wholeness that comes on the other side as you teach yourself how to look for love in other places.
Because you've let yourself be vulnerable, this love feels different. You've been hurt, but you'll be okay. In fact:

You're going to fall in love more than once, and that means you'll experience loss more than once. But every time it happens, whether it's with another person, a place, whatever--you learn a little more about yourself. Because even in the midst of what feels like complete failure, the world gives you things like move nights with your mom, midnight drives to the middle of nowhere, and the best kind of distractions to prove that despite your heartache, there are a million more things to love. 

And that love? That love feels different. 
Because once you recognize how surrounded you are by things to love [and things that love you], it makes it easy to believe that love isn't this elusive idea that happens once in a blue moon or follows a wish on a shooting star. It's everywhere, all around you--and even though it may not be right where you want it, it's not hard to find. 
And that's the best kind of love I can imagine. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My favorite.

Because even though we argue about Girl Scout cookies, we agree on [most] of the important things, 
Because he's accepted the fact that I will never enjoy pizza, milk, or Oreos and only uses that against me on rare occasions,
Because at 12:00 on a Thursday night when I finally had a second to breathe, he didn't argue when I turned on Grey's Anatomy (and even lasted most of the episode before going home),
Because this is the best result of patience and persistence I've ever seen, 
Because he lets me be a nerd after a particularly good class--and then does exactly the same even though I don't understand a word of what he's saying about government regulated water markets, 
Because he drives me absolutely crazy, but in the best way possible,
Because he lets me talk his ear off 98% of the time,
Because I don't think I'll get over people saying "It's about time!" anytime soon,
Because he's the only person who is consistently as loud as I am, and whose laugh is louder than mine,
Because I have the cutest boyfriend west of Tennessee, 
Because despite my inability to make decisions and the fact that I have a hard time choosing where we go to dinner, if you asked me to choose a favorite person, I'd have no problem choosing him. 

Happiest of Valentine's Days, my lovelies! I hope your day was as splendid as mine. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

It doesn't work like that.

Every class has one--that annoying human who talks over everybody before class, making sure that everybody in the room [not just the person they're actually talking to] is updated on their life.
I'm a horribly curious person--and these people and their life-story telling feed this curiosity.
...but I'm also a very outspoken person. And when these people say things that tick me off, it takes a whole lot of restraint to not say anything, but sometimes I'm really good at keeping my mouth shut and just thinking about what they say.

Today, one of these girls was talking to the boy sitting next to her about her new relationship.
"Eh, it's going okay I guess. But it's not easy, and I don't think it's worth it. Isn't falling in love supposed to be easy? We go on dates and he's really sweet and treats me well, but he doesn't do any of those typical boyfriend things like they do in the movies. Being in a relationship is supposed to be a piece of cake and this just isn't like that!"

This went on for another five minutes before class started, and by the time our professor walked in, my head wanted to explode.

I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that:
a) she thought relationships were easy
b) she was actually comparing her boyfriend to a fictional character & being 100% serious about it.
c) she was being this vocal about her dissatisfaction--and she still had a relationship to whine about!

As usual, I had to physically restrain myself from giving her a piece of my mind, but I've been thinking about this all day [so naturally the blog takes a hit].

Relationships are not easy. Not ever, not in any world, not with anybody. That's not to say that they're impossible, but they take work.
I don't care if it's a relationship with your mom, your roommate, your significant other, or your manager--they all take some kind of work.
[I'm going to do the most cliche girl thing on the planet and quote The Notebook, but it's perfect and when these things work you just can't argue.] 
"So it's not going to be easy. It's going to be really hard. And we're going to have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you, I want all of you, forever, you and me, everyday."

Nobody's perfect; and for that reason, no relationship is perfect either. I guess I wish I  knew what this girl was expecting....sunshine and roses and nothing ever going wrong? It doesn't work like that. Every great story has an extraordinary conflict, but there's always a resolution that follows.

Movies/songs/novels do us a lot of disservice. We get conned into believing that relationships are easy, and romanticize the idea of love to the point that we don't see it for what it is.

I'm not a relationship expert, and you can ask my roommate, my mom, my friends, and my boyfriend how true that is, but I do try. And I know a little bit of how it works.
It's not easy to get into a relationship, it takes work to stay, and [if you're doing it right] you should never want to leave.
Because at some point, you realize that all the petty arguments teach you that you have something worth fighting for. You learn that contrary to what you thought, you're not always right--and even if you still think you are, sometimes it's okay to let the other person win. And most importantly? All those little things that drive you crazy, drive you crazy in all the right ways, too.

[Now don't get me wrong, love should be easy too. "Fall in love with someone who doesn't make you think love is hard" and all that jazz. But anything you want to last for a really long time requires some kind of effort, you know?]

Really, I just feel sorry for that girl. Her boyfriend sounded like a really nice guy--and she obviously didn't appreciate him or their relationship. And I feel sorry that she'll never truly appreciate anything, because she thinks that the only things worth keeping are the things that come easy, and that's just not true. The best things in life are the things you work hard for.

[Time for another cliche girl quote, I'm really sorry]. Blair Waldorf summed it up pretty well...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The bright side.

January is a pretty dreary time in Logan, and it's easy to get caught up in this dirty inversion. 
How exactly do you look past the winter fog and remember the bright side? 
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was in a talk from the October 2012 General Conference. 
President Uchtdorf gave an incredible talk (as usual) entitled, "Of Regrets and Resolutions" and parts of it echo pretty constantly through my head. 
Part of his talk focused on how we need to let ourselves be happier and not dwell on the problems we may have. 
"Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it." 
I'm not perfect, and my life isn't all sunshine and rainbows--but I've learned that if I can take a deep breath and focus on those rainbows rather than the storm clouds, my life seems to become more and more perfect before my eyes. 

Take today for example. 
I woke up at 8:50 for my 9:00 class and literally ran to class in shorts, a hoodie, and tennis shoes with my hair still in the braid I'd slept in. I was flustered, panicked, and not the happiest camper from the second I rolled out of bed. 
I got out of class, came home and got ready before heading to the rest of my classes today--and the day just felt pretty blah. You all know that feeling, right? 
Then I got in the car with Lynette and pulled a random piece of paper out of my console wondering what in the heck it could be. 
That cute boyfriend of mine had snuck a simple note in there to surprise me and suddenly my day had gone from "blah" to "awww" in a matter of seconds. 

I'm telling you, it's the little things. 

My grandma loved the concept of tender mercies; the idea that our Heavenly Father gives us these little reminders that He is there and that life isn't all that bad. I think that's what President Uchtdorf is talking about here. 
Life can be really rough sometimes. You're going to have bad days, you're going to disappoint people you care about, and people you love are going to hurt you. But if you can find even one good thing in every day, your whole outlook on life can be improved. 
If I've learned anything lately, it's that life isn't always going to go according to plan...but sometimes the things you don't plan are the best things to happen to you in a really long time. 
"Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances."

There are just so many wonderfully beautiful reasons to be happy, and it's not worth taking them all for granted. 
It's cheesy, but it's true. Life is just better when you're happy, and your attitude is half the battle. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Some kind of wonderful.

We're only a month in, and I'm already certain that 2015 is going to be a new kind of incredible. 
 We've splurged at the semi-annual sale and discovered cranberry quinoa salad.
We've rekindled traditions and finally cleared up all confusion ;). 
 We've introduced Brian to our favorite Chinese food and my family played paparazzi with the SigEp composites.
 We've started Friends again and tried to love the Fieldhouse and mornings. 
 We've dated, doubled, and climbed. 
And we've put a whole new meaning to the word trust (if you ever want to learn how to not let someone down the wall gracefully, let me teach you).

This month has been on my mind for the last two years--and even though nothing is what I pictured it would be, I can't even begin to describe how happily content I am. 
I guess the secret to being happy is to do what makes you happy, surrounded by the people who make you happy, and care about you no matter what you do [and it helps if they're really cute and wait two years for a  chocolate english toffee milkshake you promised them].

I'm just the luckiest. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I'll keep you.

2014 was by no means perfect. But like they say, life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. 
And this year was pretty freaking wonderful. 
[here's the highlights]
I learned about a whole new kind of love from 45 boys--one that is equal parts overwhelming, stressful, and incredible.
I learned about what the word "unconditional" means when friendships don't change despite life pulling you in a thousand new directions. 
I fell even more in love with Logan [if that was even possible], and it's breaking my heart a little bit to think that I'm almost done here. 
We gained an aunt and the perfect addition to our family when Andy and Des got married in May. 
I found a new appreciation for bikers when we trailed them for 525 miles through some of the most beautiful places in Utah...on limited sleep, with an unlimited supply of Swedish Fish. 
I learned just how insane we really are when I crossed the finish line for Ragnar number five. 
I reached a whole new level of fangirl while my best friend and I sang along with every single word at the Katy Perry concert and my dream of seeing KP live came true. 

I learned the basics of remodeling a house, painted more wood paneling than I ever want to see again in my entire life, and sent one of my best friends off to the real world, which taught me to dance to Beyonce by myself and really appreciate phone calls on the way home from work. 
 I found a new mini-me and learned what it feels like to have part of your heart living outside of you. 
 I spent an absurd amount of time with the #dreamteam and learned over and over again how lucky I am to have the friends that I do. 
I attempted to drive this one crazy with a thousand pointless stories, middle of the night talks, and a seemingly endless supply of arguments as to why he should stay in Logan, come to Logan, or not leave Logan [and more pictures than I'm sure he ever wanted to take. Whoops].
I experienced a little bit of heaven as we said goodbye to Uncle Bret and learned that my heart really can be sore. 

It's been quite the year, and if history is any indication, I'm sure 2015 is going to be even more exciting. 
So here's to a year of more learning, more friends, more challenges, and even more love. 
2015, if you're anywhere near as fun as 2014...I guess I'll keep you around. 

"And we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been."