The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award

liebster

This week I have been lucky enough to be nominated by three other sweet and talented bloggers for the Liebster Award. This is an award given to bloggers by other bloggers. This is such a great way to create a sense of community and spread friendship amongst bloggers, and I am honored to be a part of this!

The rules for the Liebster Award are:

  1. You can choose to either accept or decline. Accepting means writing a post, which you don’t have to do, but it helps to continue spreading the love!
  2. Write a list of 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions from your nominator.
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers to keep the award going, and give them 11 questions to answer.

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I have been doing online school/classes for years now, and I absolutely love it.
  2. I listen to pretty much every genre of music (seriously), but my favorites are Christian, country, and alternative.
  3. I was almost attacked by a dog when I was a toddler. I am now afraid of dogs.
  4. Being an aunt is one of my favorite things ever.
  5. I love the British royal family. Kate is literal goals, and Harry is my mental health hero.
  6. I have seen my favorite band, Needtobreathe, in concert every year since I was a freshman in high school.
  7. I am a huge beauty junkie, and I spend way too much time watching beauty vloggers on YouTube.
  8. Emma Watson is one of my heroes, and has been for years now.
  9. I love making playlists. And I do. A lot. (If you need a playlist for anything, hit me up.)
  10. My favorite politicians are Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, Trey Gowdy, Rand Paul, Mia Love, Ben Sasse, and Tim Scott.
  11. I am very close with my family (immediate and extended), especially my cousins.

I’ve decided to answer the questions from all of the lovely ladies who nominated me. First up are Liu Mao’s questions:

  1. What is your middle name? I actually don’t have one! Since my first name has two parts, that’s all I’ve got.
  2. Favorite dessert? BROWNIES. I’m obsessed. It’s a problem.
  3. Favorite language? I’m obviously the most fluent in English, but I’ve been taking Spanish classes for three years now, and I love learning that language as well! Although my skills are still iffy, I hope to be fluent one day.
  4. Where were you born? I was born in South Carolina in the US of A.
  5. Favorite childhood TV show/movie? My favorite TV show when I was a kid was Caillou. I loved basically every Disney movie ever, but I think Monsters, Inc. was my favorite.
  6. Favorite international food? I love Italian food. Pasta is my life.
  7. What is your hobby/hobbies? Writing (obviously), reading (all the time), and keeping up with politics
  8. Are you an only child? I have two older half-sisters.
  9. Why did you start blogging? I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, and I hope to one day go into journalism, so I thought this would be good experience. I intended to focus mainly on politics on my blog since that is what I am interested in writing about one day as a journalist, but I have really felt Heavenly Father prompting me to use my talents to share my faith through blogging as well.
  10. What are you studying in college? English

Next up are Ally’s questions:

  1. What is your go-to order at a coffee shop? I don’t drink coffee, but I love a good coffee shop pastry.
  2. What city holds a special place in your heart, and why? Columbia, SC. My grandparents used to live there and I have so many great memories of being with my extended family there.
  3. What is one word that you’d like to engrave on the heart of your younger self? Wow. That is a loaded question. I think I’m going to have to go with “worthy.” I feel like I could have used the reminder to extend grace to myself and that I don’t have to beat myself up over every little thing and let my anxiety take control.
  4. What was the last brave thing you did? Probably writing my post regarding mental health. It was scary for me to be that vulnerable, especially since so few people knew about my battle with that.
  5. Do you prefer indoors or outdoors? Why? I am definitely an indoors kinda girl. I actually have really bad heat intolerance due to some of my health issues, but I’ve just never been a huge outdoors fan regardless.
  6. If you had $500 and only one day to spend it, what would you buy? I would like to think that I would spend most of the money on practical, necessary things, and spend some of it helping others, but I might have to throw a Kate Spade bag in there too.
  7. What is your favorite thing to cook? I love making enchiladas, and I literally use the recipe that is on the back of the El Paso enchilada sauce can. #skills
  8. If you could change your birthdate, would you? What date would you pick? I don’t think I would change it. I’m happy with where it’s at.
  9. Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid? YES. Her name was Kelly-Alex (I’m assuming I wanted to go with a double name since I have one). I’m pretty sure I decided that she lived in the backyard.
  10. How do you feel about spiders? I am terrified. Size is not a factor. They are all evil.
  11. What is your #1 book recommendation? For fiction, The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. For nonfiction, Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst.

 

Finally, here are Cassie’s questions:

  1. What made you want to start blogging? Like I said above, I initially saw it as practice and skill-building for my future journalism career, but now I look at it as a way to share my faith as well.
  2. If money weren’t a factor, what would be your dream job? Is it possible to be a professional reader? Because I would totally go with that.
  3. Do you travel or are you more of a homebody? I like to travel, but I prefer to spend most of my time at home.
  4. Could you see yourself living in another state or possibly country in the future? I think living in another country would be too much of a change for me (plus I love America!), but I would be open to living in another state.
  5. What’s your motto? I’m kind of a quote collector, and I feel like my motto changes a lot, but one that I seem to stick with is “When I can’t, You always can” (from the song “What Love is This” by Kari Jobe).
  6. If you could eat dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why? My grandpa. He passed away in December and I miss him terribly.
  7. What place would you consider to be your “happy place?” Any where that I’m with my family (especially if it’s the whole extended family gathered together).
  8. Do you play any sports? No. I used to do gymnastics (for like six months), though. Does attempting to get on the treadmill count, though? Because sometimes I do that.
  9. What makes you unique? My positivity, in spite of the health challenges I have faced, and how I have let them shape me for the better.
  10. If you made a perfume, what would it be called? Grace (I think Philosophy may already have that one though…)
  11. Who would play you in a movie about your life? If my dreams could come true, it would be Selena Gomez. I mean, we kinda even look alike! (Not really, but I’m trying to make this work here.)

Now for the bloggers I nominate. I haven’t been blogging very long, so I haven’t had the chance to meet a ton of other bloggers, but I have interacted with some. I nominate:

  1. Kristin // https://kristenshane.com/
  2. Kelsea // https://kelseamoriah.wordpress.com/
  3. Rachel // https://rachelsrambles.com/
  4. Livi // https://liviburke.wordpress.com/
  5. Rebekah // https://rebekahblogs.com/
  6. Allie // https://wearenewromantics.wordpress.com/
  7. Lily // http://lovewyns.blogspot.com/
  8. Kristabel // https://kristabeldubois.wordpress.com/
  9. Kara // http://joybecausegrace.com/
  10. Taylor // https://taywords.com/
  11. Elizabeth // https://realismcom.wordpress.com/

And my questions for them:

  1. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
  2. Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook?
  3. If you could go back and change one thing about your life, such as a decision you made, would you? And what would it be?
  4. What is another culture that you would like to know more about?
  5. What charitable causes are you passionate about?
  6. What is your favorite holiday and why?
  7. Which one of Jesus’ characteristics (compassion, humility, etc.) means the most to you or has influenced you the most and why?
  8. What is the greatest gift God has given you?
  9. What is your favorite fairytale?
  10. How do you feel about vegetables?
  11. Who are some of your heroes and why?

Again, thank you so much Liu, Ally, and Cassie for nominating me! Be sure to check out their fantastic blogs (linked above) as well!

Advertisements
I Just Want a One-Piece

I Just Want a One-Piece

Swimsuit season is officially upon us. Some people love this time of year. Some people dread it. (And who can blame them?) But it comes every year, whether you like it or not.

Today I was in Target (shocking, I know), and as I wandered around picking up all the things I didn’t need, I found myself in the swimsuit section. (Target seems to be the one store that never runs low on swimsuits, no matter how late into the season it gets.) I passed through racks upon racks of bikinis. As I walked through the maze, I noticed that all of the tankinis and one-pieces had been relegated to the back and side walls. As I looked at them, I was instantly disappointed. The selection was slim. Few suits were available in a variety of sizes. Most of them were, quite honestly, what one might see an older lady wearing.

I personally only wear one-piece swimsuits. I know tankinis can be modest as well, but I just haven’t had the greatest experiences with them. If you wear bikinis, I am not trying to put you down at all. But for me, this is an issue of modesty. I do not feel comfortable showing so much of my body in a barely-there swimsuit, and I do not think that Heavenly Father wants me to.

So, why are there so few options for modest swimsuits? This is certainly a gap in the market that some brands are addressing. Companies such as Kortni Jeane, Called to Surf, and Jessica Rey sell modest swimwear – but the prices aren’t exactly affordable. Cashing in at sometimes more than one hundred dollars, these suits are a far cry from bikini tops and bottoms that typically are priced at around twenty dollars, and even the forty dollar one-pieces.

I am not trying to call Target out specifically, nor am I trying to focus solely on swimwear. This is a universal problem. We live in a society in which you can pretty much wear whatever you want, whenever you want. Celebrities walk the red carpet in next-to-nothing. Crop tops, short shorts, and dresses that barely skim the leg are on-trend. And female musicians that little girls look up to perform in ensembles that barely pass for clothing.

Yes, I am disappointed by society. But I am also shamed by it. There are few things more awkward than being the only one at the pool in a one-piece, or at the mall in capris. While I believe very strongly in the importance of modesty and how it relates to our virtue, it is still difficult to stand out in this way.

The world is not going to change overnight. Women’s wear trends will not shift because one person speaks up. But that does not change the way I feel. That does not change the fact that I have published this post. That does not change the fact that I felt that it was important to say something.

Perhaps you have heard that dressing modestly is important because it will help the boys around you keep their thoughts clean. And that’s great. Because after all, we are all just trying to help each other on this journey home. But I believe this goes deeper than that. Modesty is about you. It’s about you telling the world that you respect yourself and your God.

“Modesty isn’t about a list of rules. It’s about reflecting God’s holiness and purity through our clothing.”

– Girl Defined

Our bodies were created in the image of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If Heavenly Father were to make you a gift of some sort and hand it to you, how would you treat it? Would you let it get dirty? Would you not pay attention to where you put it? Would you simply not care? I certainly hope your answer to these questions is no. Well, guess what? Our bodies are gifts from Heavenly Father, given especially to us. They are the best, most valuable gifts we will ever receive. Shouldn’t we all take care of them?

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Did you catch that? Your body is not your own. It is God’s. He created it, and for all intensive purposes, He owns it. You were bought with a price, the price of His Son’s blood. So why would you just reveal your body like it’s nothing? Why would you not care?

Clothing may seem like a small thing. It’s just what you wear when you shop or you eat or you hang out with friends. But it’s more than that. It is telling the world what you think about yourself, and what you think about the God Who so lovingly crafted your body just for you. It is making a statement, whether you like it or not. So, what do you want yours to say?

“You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord’s guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant, and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions.”

– Thomas S. Monson

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

– Ernest Hemingway

This is one of my favorite quotes. It is one that I try to live by. It is one that I believe can be therapeutic when followed. It is one that I now see I need to follow more closely.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is something that is close to my heart. Contributing to ending the stigma in some way is one of the greatest goals of my life. And because of that, I think there are some things that I need to say.

I have been dealing with depression and anxiety for about three years now. When I was first diagnosed, I was considered to be affected by what is known as “adjustment disorder” – which is essentially what occurs when something happens in your life that leads to mental health challenges. My adjustment disorder is thought to have come from my chronic physical health problems.

This is something that I do not talk about. Some of my family members and close friends do not know about this. But I think it’s something I need to talk about now. I often feel that staying silent is doing nothing but contributing to the stigma surrounding mental health. So who am I to not speak up?

If you have never experienced any mental health issues, let me do my best to explain this to you. Depression is not sadness. It is a deep hole of despair. It causes you to cry for no reason, to not want to leave the house, and to basically feel like doing nothing but sitting there staring into space. Anxiety is, in my opinion, just as bad. At its worst, it can be a constant feeling of panic. It causes you to second guess everything you say and do. You find yourself worrying to an irrational level about everything from final exams to what you are going to have for dinner. It causes panic attacks that can come out of nowhere. Although everyone experiences panic attacks differently, some common symptoms include shortness of breath, a racing heart rate, shaking, and an inability to think clearly.

I am not exaggerating. And I am not checking Google for definitions and symptoms. I am speaking from personal experience. This is all real. This is not in my head, or your head, or anyone’s head.

Over the past three years, I have come to better understand and cope with my mental illness to a certain degree. But I have not been “cured.” Every day is a battle, and a giant question mark. But I have come to know the ebb and flow of my brain’s strange impulses and deficiencies.

Perhaps that is why I am sitting here writing this. To tell you that there is hope, but it does not come if you don’t seek help. Without help, there is not hope. “Help” looks different for everyone who needs it. Maybe you need medicine. Maybe you need counseling. Maybe you need holistic treatment. But whatever it may be, please, please seek it and get it. This is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no shame in going to the doctor when you break your arm or have the flu. This is no different.

“Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed.”

– Jeffrey R. Holland

The brain is an organ, and a very complex one at that. Just as one may experience a problem with their heart, or lungs, or liver, so can one experience problems with their brain. One of the biggest problems with that is that the brain controls a lot. So if there is a problem with your brain, you may feel fatigued, and achy, and even have some problems with those other organs of yours. But this is a medical problem. You must understand that, whether you are going through this or not.

“Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not character.”

– Unknown

So, now that you know that having a problem with your brain is perfectly normal and that you should always seek help for it, please understand one more thing: A problem with your mental health has absolutely nothing to do with your spirituality. Even if what you are going through makes it hard to feel the Holy Ghost, or pray, or read the scriptures, or go to church. Some of the times that I have felt the pure love and understanding of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ the most occurred when I first began dealing with depression and anxiety. They know what you are going through. When you cry, so do They. When you have a bad day, They hurt with you. They don’t want you to feel this way. But because of their perfect knowledge, They know that for whatever reason, it is necessary. They do not feel that your testimony is diminished, or that your level of spirituality has decreased. Neither should you.

“He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.”

– Thomas S. Monson

Now, I would like to address those of you who have never dealt with any sort of mental health challenge. There is a second part to the above quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”

I know it is hard to understand something that you have not experienced, but please try. Ending the stigma will not just come from the willingness of those suffering to be more open. There must be a twofold solution. You are the second part. If you know someone who is going through something difficult with their mental health, please be kind. Please love them. And if you think you don’t know anyone in this situation, I can almost promise you that you do. You just don’t know it because that is the way they want it. That is why it is essential that we choose compassion in every situation, no matter what.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

– Plato

To all my mental health warriors out there, you are slaying the game. Getting up and living every day is a big deal. And I wish I could give you all big hugs and medals for it. But since I can’t, here are some things that have helped me through my own personal struggle:

Songs:

“Magnify” by We Are Messengers

“Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle

“Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe

“Red Sea Road” by Ellie Holcomb

“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

“Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells

“Bloom” by Grayson Reed

“Prince of Peace” by Hillsong United

“He Knows” by Jeremy Camp

“Hope in Front of Me” by Danny Gokey

“Warrior” by Demi Lovato

“Storms” by V. Rose

“Thy Will” by Hillary Scott

“Storyteller” by Morgan Harper Nichols and Jamie Grace

“I Have this Hope” by Tenth Avenue North (and basically every TAN song ever…trust me)

Qoutes:

“Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can” – Unknown

“The Lord doesn’t put us through this test just to give us a grade; He does it because the process will change us.” – Henry B. Eyring

“Don’t believe everything you think.” – Unknown

“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you.” – Andrea Dykstra

“Do not fear. Fear is not of God.” – Al Carraway

“We cannot truly grasp the depth of our light, until we are shown our darkness.” – Danielle Doby

 

Also, this talk by Elder Holland is seriously the greatest thing ever. This video produced by the LDS Church, also featuring Elder Holland, is great as well.

 

“And here you are living / despite it all.”

– Rupi Kaur