18 Women Who Inspired Me in 2018

18 Women Who Inspired Me in 2018

Last year, one of my favorite posts that I wrote was 17 Women Who Inspired Me in 2017. I decided to keep the trend going this year. Once again, I listed only women who were publicly known for some reason. I also made things harder for myself by not including any women from last year’s list (I’m sorry, Nikki Haley). The 18 women listed below inspired and encouraged me last year, and continue to do so.

  1. Meghan Markle

meghan 2

Let me be clear: I do not find Meghan Markle inspiring because she married a prince and had the greatest wedding ever. The Duchess of Sussex has inspired me because she has used her influence, both as an actress before her wedding, and now with her new status as a princess, to make a difference. She has spoken out about worthy causes, she has joined Prince Harry and his family in their charitable work, and she has broken royal protocol by wearing dark nail polish. That is what makes someone a true princess.

“Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.”

  1. Lauren Daigle

lauren

I don’t know if you all noticed, but Lauren took over the music industry last year. She had an album that reached the top of the iTunes charts, and a song that came very close to doing the same. She has performed on multiple television shows, including The Tonight Show and Dancing with the Stars. Her music has been praised by everyone from Keith Urban to Selena Gomez. Oh, and she’s a Christian music artist. Yes, Lauren Daigle has been successful and won awards, but she’s done it while singing songs about her faith and keeping none of the glory for herself. She is, in my opinion, one of the best examples we could have in today’s world.

“I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are supposed to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God.”

  1. Aly Raisman

ally

Ally was one of multiple gymnasts abused by former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. She has not only been vocal in her condemnation of Nassar, but she has also spoken out against USAG and has become a strong advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Ally has inspired so many through her athletic abilities and strong representation of her country in competitions. Now she is taking on a new role, and people everywhere are taking notice.

“You can’t always be the best. You have to remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.”

  1. Keala Settle

keala

If you have not seen The Greatest Showman…your life must be really sad…just kidding. But, if you haven’t, then you probably don’t know that Keala played Lettie, the bearded lady, and sang the film’s breakout song, “This Is Me.” Keala has lifted so many through this song, all while fighting a dangerous neurological condition that almost ruined her Oscars performance. But, true to form, she fought through it. This song, and, by extension, Keala, have truly encouraged me.

“I love people that go the distance. I hate things that are lukewarm. They’ve got to be one way or the other and go all the way.”

  1. Abby Sams

abby

Abby was part of one of Aerie’s #AerieReal modeling campaigns, which put young women with disabilities in the spotlight. Among other medical conditions, Abby has POTS, which I have as well. Seeing someone like me model? That was a huge moment for me (that possibly involved some tears). I am forever grateful to both Aerie and Abby for showing the world that disabilities can’t stop you.

“We are made for change. Face it boldly and bravely. You’ve got this and God’s got you. There is nothing to fear in that.”

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

rbg

“You can’t spell truth without Ruth.” I’ve been an admirer of RBG’s for a while now, but in 2018 I became a full-on fangirl (of a SCOTUS justice, yes) when I wrote a paper on the Lily Ledbetter case and the resulting Fair Pay Act, all of which Justice Ginsburg had a hand in. Throw in an amazing documentary, and I had a new hero. Quite simply, Ruth was fighting for my rights decades before I was born, and this country would be lightyears behind where it is today without her tireless fight for gender equality.

“When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?’ and I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”

  1. Carrie Underwood

carrie

I mean, Carrie Underwood is kind of a queen, if you hadn’t noticed. Last year, she opened up about her concerns about her ability to have more children as she got older, only to later reveal the fantastic news that she was pregnant again. Her vulnerability and honesty were remarkable. If that wasn’t enough, she released a new album, Cry Pretty, featuring the songs “Love Wins” and “The Bullet,” offering a sobering reminder to both sides of the aisle for the need for change and compassion.

“If I can convince [people] that there is a God and that they need to know Him, then I have done my job.”

  1. Michelle Obama

michelle

I can’t explain it, I just love Mrs. Obama. Her rawness and honesty have been refreshing. She has brought humor and levity during a time when we are in desperate need of it. I was particularly inspired by her rejection of the concept of “leaning in” – that, in her opinion, it is simply not possible to have it all, all at once. She may be a former first lady, but I think she may just be one of us too.

“There is no magic to achievement. It’s really about hard work, choices, and persistence.”

9 & 10. Savannah Guthrie & Hoda Kotb

savannah hoda

Okay, this might technically be cheating, since I’m including two women together, but anyone who has seen the Today Show recently can’t deny that Savannah and Hoda are a packaged deal. After the firing of Matt Lauer, Hoda began filling in as co-anchor alongside Savannah, and it was clear they were the perfect team. So, NBC decided to make things permanent, making the Today Show the first morning show to be anchored by two women. Savannah and Hoda are fun, witty, and have a great connection that endears them to viewers. Yes, women definitely can win at broadcast journalism.

“I would never put my job before my family.” – Savannah

“If we all helped one person, wouldn’t the world be an unbelievable place?” – Hoda

  1. Taylor Swift

taylor

Look what you made her do. I’ve been a fan of Taylor since I was, like…seven. Those are some pretty deep ties right there. But something about her latest album, reputation, just spoke to me. It was powerful. It was game-changing. It was a fifteen-song package of everything I needed to hear. In addition to her music, Taylor has continued to show that she is closely connected to her fans. She also released the greatest concert film of all time that had me screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs in my living room.

“No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

  1. Tori Foles

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Tori is married to former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Tori also has POTS. Since the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, she and her husband have spoken at several events to spread awareness for POTS. Nick has also been involved in raising money for Dysautonomia International. Seeing someone live with the same illness I have and work to help more people understand it has truly inspired me.

“I love that my body is unique and unlike any other. God made all of us as one of a kind and that is pretty cool.”

  1. Jenna Bush Hager

Build Presents Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush Discussing Their Book "Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life"

I have loved watching Jenna on the Today Show for several years now, but in 2018 she truly took center stage as her job forced her to work as somewhat of a media liaison for her family after the passing of both of her grandparents. Jenna showed grace and strength in the face of both of these tragedies, both as a public personality, and as a granddaughter. I continue to admire her and many members of her family.

“I hope to focus on what I’m passionate about because I think I’d do the best job on them – education, urban education, women and children’s issues and literacy.”

  1. Ava DuVernay

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Ava DuVernay is a director. And she’s kind of a big deal. In 2018, she directed the film adaption of A Wrinkle in Time. This film, along with Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, gave the box office its first weekend with films by African American directors holding the top two spots. She also created the OWN series Queen Sugar, which has been completely directed by women. Aside from these huge accomplishments, Ava has shared nuggets of wisdom (and political opinions) across social media. She is certainly leading the charge for women, in more ways than one.

“If your dream is only about you, it’s too small.”

  1. Annie F. Downs

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Annie is a Christian writer and speaker. In 2018, I completed her 100 Days to Brave devotional. It had a huge impact on me, and affected me much more than I expected. Annie’s writing is beautiful and relatable, and she is a joy to follow on social media. I’m so glad that I let her be a part of my journey in 2018.

“Something about today is worth noticing and celebrating, because it won’t last forever. I hope you find it.”

  1. Hallie Jackson

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Hallie Jackson is NBC’s chief White House correspondent. Basically, she’s the one who stands near the White House reporting on the day’s events on the Nightly News. She’s also the one who shouts questions at the president during press briefings, and she doesn’t shy away from tough ones. (For example, she asked President Trump why his cabinet members were set to receive a raise while other federal government employees were still not being paid due to the recent government shutdown.) Although I may be interested in print journalism, I love Hallie and her reporting style, and she has certainly helped shape my opinions on journalism.

“Yes, I know I talk too fast.”

  1. Kacey Musgraves

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Kacey Musgraves is a country singer-songwriter. In 2018, she released her critically-acclaimed album Golden Hour, which ended up on many best-of-the-year lists (including my mental one, which is basically as important as NPR’s). She received a CMA Award for Album of the Year, as well as multiple Grammy wins, including for the competitive Album of the Year category. Golden Hour is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting country music albums to be released in quite some time, and shows that Kacey truly is unique in the best way.

“Just do something that makes you stand out. Even if not everyone likes it, just do it.”

  1. Jacinda Ardern

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Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. As if being a female world leader wasn’t enough, last year she became only the second sitting major world leader to give birth while in office. She has chosen to continue working, meaning the baby will stay at home with her daddy, who is happy to allow Prime Minister Ardern to continue running the world – or at least part of it.

“I never, ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.”

{ quotes via UN Women on Instagram | Facebook | GoogleBrainyquote | Abby Sams on Instagram | Bret Baier on Instagram | Whiskey Riff | Google | Brainyquote | Brainyquote | Google | The Strong Movement |Google | Brainyqoute | Annie F. Downs on Instagram | Hallie Jackson on Twitter | Google | Brainyquote }
{ images via Time| Pinterest | Alexandra Raisman on Instsgram | Style Bistro | Abby Sams on Twitter | Elle | Pinterest | Refinery 29 | Parade | Pinterest | The Strong Movement | Time | Ava DuVernay on Instagram | Goodreads | Duke | NY Times | Pinterest | Forbes }
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Summer & Fall 2018 Favorites

Summer & Fall 2018 Favorites

I do love a good favorites post. And, technically, we haven’t actually entered winter yet (according to the calendar, not the weather). But still, we’re in a bit of a time crunch, so here is a combination of some of my favorite things from both summer and fall. What were your favorite things? Let me know in the comments!

mamma mia hwga

Movies & TV //

A Quiet Place – Um, stop everything and go watch this movie. John Krasinski is my actual hero and favorite person ever; his acting was, of course, spot-on, but his directorial skills are amazing. This story was fantastic, and I loved the disability representation. This was a special kind of scary in a world that has turned to chainsaws and zombies and whatever else they put in those weird modern horror movies.

I Can Only Imagine – I finally saw it! And it was just as good as I expected. This movie tells the story of Bart Millard, the lead singer of Christian band Mercy Me, and how his life led to him writing the group’s huge first single, “I Can Only Imagine.” It is heartbreaking, and inspiring, and not at all what I expected Bart’s life to be like. But maybe that’s why he’s so amazing.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again – “You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen!” Picture these lyrics being sung while Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard ride up on a boat while reenacting that “king of the world” scene from Titanic. Is it even necessary for me to say anything else? All joking aside, this movie was even better than the first, and the addition of Lily James was absolutely perfect.

New Amsterdam – This! Show! It follows Max Goodwin, the new medical director of a hospital whose mission is to treat everyone who comes through its doors, regardless of their ability to pay or whether or not they are insured. It also focuses on the head of each hospital department. There are plenty of nice side stories happening between the characters, but the real power of this show comes from its ability to make you question everything you know about the healthcare system, and to challenge one issue in particular – should healthcare be considered a right?

The Office – I did it, ya’ll. After all, “’You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky’ – Michael Scott,” and I had missed my shot of watching this series long enough. Admittedly, I didn’t watch every single episode, as some of them were a bit too edgy for me, but this was simply hilarious. I certainly did not expect to get so caught up in these character’s stories, but I did. I never would’ve thought that I would like this show…”Oh, how the turn tables.”

Beauty //

Olay Shea Butter Foaming Whip Body Wash – “Wow, this product is so unique and innovative! I love it!” – Me, an intellectual; “We’ve done this already.” – Every other drugstore brand in existence

L’Oreal x Camila Cabello Havana Collection eyeshadow in “Oh Na Na” – I’m not a huge fan of most of L’Oreal’s products (sorry!), but Camila Cabello is my most favorite ever, so of course I had to buy this overpriced single eyeshadow. But I love it! It’s such an interesting combination of bronze and gold, and has unbelievable pigmentation. If you can still find this collection somewhere, BUY IT.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in “Lunch Money” – I’m not used to using highlighters in any form other than powder, so I was a bit unsure of this one from Colourpop – their Super Shock formula is almost indescribable, like an almost-cream-to-powder finish. But, I had used their Super Shock eyeshadows before, so I thought I could handle it. It turns out I really love this highlighter! I use a stipple brush to apply it for more control, and I always put it under any setting powder (or it’ll look weird). Overall, Colourpop is a super dependable brand.

queen's rising

Books //

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca RossAll. The. Heart. Eyes. This is my favorite book of 2018. In a world that’s inundated with young adult fantasy books, I truly felt like this story, told not from the perspective of the queen, but of an acquaintance who comes to be a great friend, was unique, and so beautifully told. I cannot wait to read more in this world.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – I have never read a book in the fae (aka faerie, aka fairy) world before. It turns out they aren’t all pixie dust. They can actually be quite ruthless. But, that’s what makes them fun, right? And, as Holly Black is apparently the “queen of fae,” I guess I chose the right place to start.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – When I was in high school, I took a Gothic literature elective, and it had quite an effect on me. I’ve never read a Gothic novel written so recently, though (the 1960s). This book is fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough. I’m also ecstatic about the upcoming movie, especially since it seems so similar to the book.

Quotes & Scriptures //

“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” – Shirley Jackson

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” – Jude 1:24-25

“As long as God gave her the gift of today, she would cherish it.” – Karen Kingsbury

Songs //

  • “You Say” by Lauren Daigle
  • “Worth It” by Danielle Bradberry
  • “Back to You” by Selena Gomez
  • “All The Ways” by Meghan Trainor
  • “Forever on Your Side” by Needtobreathe ft. Johnnyswim
  • “Move You” By Kelly Clarkson
  • “Love Wins” by Carrie Underwood
  • “Love Anyway” by Tenth Avenue North
  • “Sue Me” by Sabrina Carpenter
  • “Make Him Wait” by Abby Anderson
  • “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
  • “This Feeling” by The Chainsmokers ft. Kelsea Ballerini
  • “I Have a Dream” by Lily James
What The Greatest Showman Taught Me

What The Greatest Showman Taught Me

“Colossal we come, these renegades in the ring…”

– “The Greatest Show”

greatest showman

You may have heard of a little movie that came out about a year ago called The Greatest Showman. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Keala Settle, the film tells the story of the beginnings of P.T. Barnum’s circus. It is, quite honestly, a tour de force of emotion. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but this movie has kinda sorta changed my life. This story and the music have become ingrained in my heart. So yes, this movie has taught me quite a bit. Now, in honor of the recent release of The Greatest Showman Reimagined soundtrack, I felt it was only right to share a few of those all-important lessons. Let’s get in to that, shall we?

  1. Sometimes it’s better to take the risk.

“Some people long for a life that is simple and planned / Tied with a ribbon / Some people won’t sail the sea ‘cause they’re safer on land”

– “Tightrope”

Charity Barnum was born in a wealthy, influential family. Yet, she chose to marry a man that, as her father often liked to point out, came from nothing. But she believed in him and his dreams. He was willing to risk everything on a business venture that could be an utter failure, and she was right there next to him. As she said, she was fine with taking a risk, as long as they did it together. Phillip Carlyle took a risk when he left his privileged life behind to join the circus (more on him later). These risks are what led to great success, after a few bumps in the road of course.

“Don’t you wanna get away / To a whole new part you’re gonna play? / ‘Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride / To the other side”

– “The Other Side”

  1. Society’s opinion of what is beautiful or acceptable does not define you.

“Trust me, they don’t know it yet, but they’re going to love you.”

– Barnum

This message is perhaps the driving force behind the entire movie. Barnum was looking for “oddities” and “curiosities” in the form of people for his museum-turned-circus. It led him to find a young man with dwarfism, a bearded lady, and a man with an exorbitant amount of hair, to name just a few. As Lettie, the bearded lady, points out, “our own mothers were ashamed of us.” By bringing a group of outcasts together, Barnum had created a safe place for them – a home. But, as he becomes jaded by the shine of show business, even he forgets this. But don’t worry – Lettie is ready to step in once again…

“I know that I deserve your love / No, there’s nothing I’m not worthy of”

– “This is Me”

Whatever the world says about you, whether they hate you or love you, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what those you love, those closest to you think. What matters is what you think – nothing and no one else.

“You don’t need everyone to love you….Just a few good people.”

– Charity Barnum

  1. Family is the most important thing in life.

“If all was lost, there’s more I’ve gained / ‘Cause it led me back to you”

– “From Now On”

Whether it’s the one you’re given or the one you choose, family is what matters most. This sentiment steers Barnum off course for a while, as he attempts to amass more money and material things for his own family, but he receives a wake-up call from his other family: his circus. All the friends he has made on his journey are insistent that he has given them what they never could have found somewhere else – friends, family, love, happiness, and so much more. Although he makes mistakes, they ultimately lead Barnum back to his family, who he promises to never leave again.

“Come one / Come all / Come in / Come on”

– “Come Alive”

  1. Never sacrifice your happiness.

“You would finally live a little, finally laugh a little / Just let me give you the freedom to dream /  And it’ll wake you up and cure your aching / Take your walls and start ’em breaking / Now that’s a deal that seems worth taking”

– “The Other Side”

Although this is certainly evident in Barnum’s story, perhaps it is told even better through Phillip Carlyle’s. Phillip is a theater producer that Barnum hires to help with publicity and growth, but he becomes so much more. Having never fit in with his rich and strict family, Phillip is unknowingly just as lost as the circus performers are. It is in them that he finds his true home, and love, that he defends fiercely despite it being considered inappropriate for the time period.

“You’re here in my heart / So who can stop me if I decide that you’re my destiny?”

– “Rewrite the Stars

  1. Let your head be so full of dreams that there isn’t room for anything else.

“A million dreams is all it’s gonna take / A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

– “A Million Dreams”

P.T. Barnum was the son of a poor tailor who died when he was still young. He sold old newspapers to make money for food, and took a job with a railway company when that craze took hold. As an adult, he struggled to hold a job and provide for his family. But there was never one moment when he lost the whimsy and magic he believed in as a child. It’s how he found his calling, and how he helped so many who felt they had nothing to give the world find hope and love. Dreams are not distant, impossible ideas. They are real and powerful.

“All the shine of a thousand spotlights / All the stars we could steal from the night sky / Will never be enough”

– “Never Enough”

rewrite the stars

{ images via pinterest | imdb }
Be One

Be One

Last week, packages containing what the media reported were “suspicious devices” were sent to the homes or offices of multiple prominent Democrats. Everyone from the Clintons and the Obamas to Robert de Niro were targeted. A package was also delivered to the New York offices of CNN. I actually turned on CNN as this was unfolding. It was an hour or so after the New York offices had been evacuated (while on air, no less), and Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper had taken things over in Washington, D.C. Even so, CNN anchors in New York continued to report using their cell phones and the limited cameras they did have. It was, quite honestly, an incredible display of professionalism.

But this isn’t about being professional, or doing your job when it turns out there was a live explosive device sitting in your mailroom. This is about much more than that. This is about the climate that has been created in our country and society because of what is happening in the sphere of politics.

Not long after all of this happened, the NYPD held a press conference along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (who got a package himself). The journalists gathered at the briefing wasted no time in bringing up the question that was on everyone’s minds, and that seemed to be implied in the words of the media as they reported on the story, commentators as they shared their thoughts on social media, and even Hillary Clinton as she gave a speech in Miami: Was this happening because of the political rhetoric in our country? I believe Mayor de Blasio put it best when he said, “You can disagree, but you have to show respect for people and air your disagreements peacefully.”

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

– Psalm 133:1

Louisiana Congressional Representative Steve Scalise, who was gravely wounded in a shooting at a practice for the annual Congressional baseball game last year, was quick to share his own opinion, built on his experiences, on Twitter: “These attempted attacks that have been made are beyond criminal, they are acts of pure terror. Violence and terror have no place in our politics or anywhere else in our society. I have experienced first-hand the effects of political violence, and am committed to speaking out against it wherever I can.”

I politically identify as an independent. I do not feel as though I belong to either party. Rather, I feel like a bystander who watches both with interest. So, what I’m about to say may make you upset; I hope it doesn’t. But, I do hope it makes you feel something. This is not okay. It’s not okay to have politicians who call out the opposing party, or candidates running for office who threaten physical harm against those running against them. None of this is okay.

“If there’s breath inside your lungs / You are my brother”

– “For Those Who Can’t Speak” by Tenth Avenue North

There has been a lot of discussion that change needs to come “from the top down.” But why? Why wait for that? Because if we do wait, it’s going to be a while. What if we, the people, started to make the change? What if we didn’t let things like who we vote for, or how we feel about immigration, divide us? The scriptures, and Jesus Christ Himself, made it very clear that we are not meant to be divided; we are meant to live in unity, without contention. I firmly believe that division is a tool used by Satan to breed hatred and fear – to take us farther from how we are meant to live as God’s children, as brothers and sisters.

So, hi. My name is Mary-Faith. I’m an independent. Sometimes I agree with Republicans, sometimes I agree with Democrats. I don’t really care who you agree with; we can be friends anyways.

“I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”

– Doctrine & Covenants 38:27

My Mom

My Mom

mom and mee

“You might have a mom / She might be the bomb / But ain’t nobody got a mom like mine”

– “Mom” by Meghan Trainor

My mom had a birthday recently, which made me start thinking about her and all that she’s done for me. And that’s how we ended up here – because I’m a lot better at writing than talking.

We all know by now that I love Selena Gomez (I promise there’s a point to this; stick with me). I don’t know why I remember this, but several years ago she won some Teen Choice Award for her charitable impact (certainly well-deserved). When she was giving her acceptance speech, she thanked her mother. “She gave up her life for me,” she said.

My mom gave up her life for me.

We can sit here all day and argue about who’s mom is the best, but you’ll just be blowing smoke to me – I already know mine is the best.

My mom has heart problems and has had a pacemaker since her twenties. She never knew if she would be able to have children, but she had faith (she also had an amazing grandmother named Mary, hence my name). During her pregnancy with me, she was beyond sick, and spent much of it on bed rest. Then I came a little bit early (not dangerously so), and I was not happy about making my entrance into the world when I did. I screamed. Hard. Clearly my lungs were fully developed.

I was not an easy baby. The screaming never really stopped. But I was her baby, and she adored me (this is not me bragging, this is actually a statement of fact). And I never got easier. I got diagnosis after diagnosis heaped upon me, and she took it. She accepted it. She says it makes her love me more.

She’s the one who coordinates my medical appointments, makes sure my medicine gets refilled on time, and comforts me when I’m crying because I think it’s all unfair. She does it all without a thought for herself and for her own health. She has made me her world.

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“She’s your mother, you love her / There won’t be another place like her again that you call home / She stands there to help you / There’s nothing she won’t do”

– “Mother” by Sugarland

She does everything without thinking of herself. She’s a nurse, and she helps people all day. She helps her own mother. She runs and takes care of our household. It’s just the way she is, the way she chooses to do life.

I can’t put into words how much my mother means to me. I know every religion has different ideas about how we got here, how we ended up in our little families. But I know, with every fiber of my being, that I was meant to be her daughter. Heavenly Father put us together somehow, because he knew we needed each other.

She is my best friend, my rock, my support system, my encourager, and my cheerleader. She is the reason I am where I am today. No, really, when I was on homebound, she would sit in bed with me and read my social studies book to me. When I was in high school, she fought teachers who wouldn’t abide by my 504 plan. And even now, in college, she goes to bat for me with the disability office.

She lets me choose what shows we binge watch, what movies we watch, and what music we listen to in the car. She lets me choose pretty much everything, actually.

Yes, my mother gave up her life for me. And I will be eternally grateful to her for it.

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“She’s a beacon, a harbor / A lighthouse, her armor / A promise and a blanket when it’s cold / You’ll understand it more when you get older / You’ve got each other / That’s your mother”

– “Mother” by Sugarland

Mom, if you’re reading this, thank you. I love you to the moon and back.

“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”

– Howard W. Hunter

Spring 2018 Favorites

Spring 2018 Favorites

spring 2018 faves

Yes, you read the title of this post right. This is my spring favorites post. I know it’s a little  late for that, but as you can tell from my last post, I was kind of busy at the beginning of the summer. And because I have this strange love for favorites posts (and I already had it outlined), I decided to go ahead and write it. After all, since I started with these favorites posts, I’ve never missed one. So, read it or not; it’s up to you.

Movies & TV //

Avengers: Infinity War – I feel so confused about this movie. Like, I didn’t love it, okay? I’ll admit it. It wasn’t my most favorite movie ever, or even my most favorite Marvel movie ever, which I was kind of expecting. That being said, I went into this movie ignoring the fact that it was somewhat of a two-parter. And, regardless of how much I liked it, it completely destroyed my heart. So, yes, I believe it belongs on this list.

Forever My Girl – This was so. Cute. Yes, it was very cheesy and kind of felt like a Hallmark movie at times, but it was heartwarming and taught such a good lesson about the importance of love and family. I absolutely adored this.

Same Kind of Different as Me – First and foremost, I will see any movie with the highly underrated John Voight in it. But beyond that, this movie was fantastic. It tells the true story of a woman who volunteers regularly at a homeless shelter. When trying to mend their marriage, her husband begins coming with her. Over time, their entire family befriends one homeless man in particular. Going beyond that description would spoil what happens, but this is definitely something that will make you think, and remind you that there is no difference between you and me and that homeless person on the street corner.

The Royal Wedding – Yes. I am including this. I have no shame. Prince Harry is my favorite royal (don’t tell the others), and if he wouldn’t marry me, then I’m glad he married Meghan Markle. She is simply fantastic, and I loved the combination of traditional British and American themes in their wedding ceremony. Also, she looked fabulous.

Beauty //

Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer – You might have noticed the large amount of skincare products I’ve been listing in my favorites posts recently. While I do just love skincare (I think it’s connected to my makeup obsession…I have problems), the real reason I’ve been trying so many different things is because my skin is mad at me. But, never fear, I think I have finally found a moisturizer that my skin and I can agree upon.

The Body Shop body butter – I thought Bath & Body Works had good body butters; it turns out that they have okay body butters. (Also, if you’re wondering what a body butter actually is, it’s basically a super thick body moisturizer. I guess it does kind of feel like butter, but it’s not slimy and nasty.) You see, I have been deprived of the pleasure of having an actual Body Shop store near me (#smalltownprobs). I could buy Body Shop products from Ulta, but why do that when they’re way cheaper at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx? Anyways, wherever you buy them, these body butters are incredibly moisturizing and amazing, but check out the scent first, because some of them are kind of…not great.

Tarte Maneater Mascara – Yes, I am still using Black Friday deals because I have no concerns about sanitation. In almost every case, I stand by the fact that drugstore mascaras are actually better than high-end options. This mascara isn’t necessarily better than my drugstore favorites, but it’s definitely as good. It can give a nice, fluttery look, or you can build it up for something more dramatic. Cue Hannah Montana singing “Best of Both Worlds.”

CoverGirl Total Tease Mascara – Another fantastic mascara is making the list this time. This one isn’t quite as dramatic, but still really nice. However, please do not let the strange wand throw you off. It looks like some strange sort of toothbrush, but it actually works really well for catching all of your lashes, no matter how short.

Books //

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs – This is a devotional book that I started earlier in the year and finally finished. Normally I’m not into the whole devotional thing, but I really love Annie Downs and how relatable she is. Also I feel like the little tasks for each day were really good. (Like, have you ever written a thesis statement for your life? Well, now I have.)

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz – Apparently de la Cruz and her family went to see Hamilton, and her kids asked her about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler. She did some research to try to answer their questions, but there is very little known about them. So, she did the next best thing: she wrote a historical fiction novel with only the major, verifiable historical facts. The rest was purely fiction. But I hope that maybe, just maybe, it did happen this way.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – In my opinion, Sepetys is one of the most prolific young adult historical fiction authors…ever. This novel centers on a group of refugees fleeing East Prussia during World War II. But this isn’t a cute happily ever after story. It is a true testament to what happened to millions, and it is hopelessly painful. But Sepetys is perhaps one of the few authors who could inject such beauty into that pain.

Beautiful Uncertainty by Mandy Hale – Mandy Hale is better known as The Single Woman, which also happens to be the name of her popular blog. And, yes, she does discuss being single in this book. But, more than anything, this book is about waiting. As Mandy recounts a year in her life, she makes it clear that although waiting for anything in life can be difficult, God is with us through every second of it.

Quotes //

“We the survivors are not the true witnesses. The true witnesses, those in possession of the unspeakable truth, are the drowned, the dead, the disappeared.” – Primo Levi

“I am braver than I realize. And I will prove it today.” – Annie F. Downs

“of course i want to be successful / but i don’t crave success for me / i need to gain / enough milk and honey / to help those around / me succeed” – rupi kaur

“You have to allow yourself to be broken sometimes without trying to cover it up, run from it, hide from it, or conceal it from the world. You have to let the pain do its thing. Allow it to wash over you, allow the tears to fall, stop asking, ‘How do I make it stop?’ and start asking, ‘What did this come to teach me?” – Mandy Hale

Songs //

“In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes

“Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves

“Tequila” by Dan + Shay

“No Excuses” by Meghan Traior

“Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship

“Get Along” by Kenny Chesney

“Cry Pretty” by Carrie Underwood

“Found/Tonight” by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt

“Tremble” by Mosaic MSC

“You Make it Easy” by Jason Aldean

“Queens Don’t” by RaeLynn

“I Lived It” by Blake Shelton

“Babe” by Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift

“Broken Prayers” by Riley Clemmons

My Migraine Madness

My Migraine Madness

“I remember when your head caught flame…”

– “Buzzcut Season” by Lorde

migraine pic edited

This is not a pretty picture – quite literally. But it is an honest one; perhaps the most honest one I have ever shared. It was taken after one of three infusions my neurologist ordered for me to have done, not at my regular infusion center, but at the hospital. It was every bit as fun as it looks.

This was after the first infusion, to be specific; after the second two even looking at my phone was out of the question.  I have no idea how long I went without looking at my phone. All of the days ran together. All I remember was pain. I experienced some of the most intense migraines I have ever had. I fell behind in my summer class (because it’s a bit difficult to work on your school work when you’re in this state, and even harder when the class is online). I only wore pajamas. Getting out of bed was an achievement, and being able to watch TV was exciting. A whole movie? I was living.

There is no way to truly explain what it is like to have a migraine every single day for at least a month (maybe more; like I said, I lost track of time). It’s happened to me before, but it hasn’t been this painful. I was begging for my neurologist to admit me to the hospital. But he is the best in the area for a reason. The treatment that I would be admitted to the hospital for was not exactly standard…it had some extreme potential side effects, side effects that would terrify me if I was in a normal mental state. Going to the emergency room was out of the question for me. Even when I was in tears from pain, even when I was asking my father for another priesthood blessing, I would not go sit in a lobby for three hours, only to be taken to a little curtained-off corner, given pain medicine that would no doubt make me ill, and be sent on my not-so-merry way.

The second and third infusions were my last option. It was the same infusion, administered over two days, and it was a medicine I had never been given before. It made me feel awful (apparently it could get worse). But it worked. Slowly. Maybe.

It still hurts some. Maybe it always will.

The only thing I can trace this horrific cycle to is a  new medicine I had just started. Its name began with the letter “p.” I will tell anyone who will listen that the “p” stands for poison.

This is where I’ve disappeared to. This is why I couldn’t celebrate the Fourth of July (and Captain America’s 100th birthday, of course), one of my favorite holidays. This is why when family came to visit I couldn’t see them. This is why I couldn’t even email my professor; my mom had to do it.

the birds

{ Image via Buzzfeed }

I’m a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock. The first movie of his that I ever watched (which remains my favorite to this day) was The Birds. No, it is not scary. The “special effects” are so basic that they are not even worthy of that term. But there is one scene towards the end when they are trying to escape – you guessed it – the birds after Tippi Hedren’s character has just been attacked by them. When she steps outside and sees them all around, she hysterically half-yells, “No, no, NO.” Perhaps I am Tippi Hedren now. Maybe whenever I feel a twinge in my forehead, I will see the birds. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe that’s just the way it is, and I have accepted it.

Who knows? Alfred isn’t here anymore, although he certainly could’ve written my horror story.