Reconnect Before the Next Step

A concept I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: reconnecting before the next step in my life. It’s really almost here; I’m six weeks from graduating college.

These next few weeks are a season of lasts; the last weeks of living in a high rise with a view of the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago, with the Rachel to my Monica, and of walking or riding the L to work. The final weeks I’ll be at Columbia, surrounded by a community of writers I so admire who have helped build and challenge my work, and the final weeks I’ll be copy chief at Illinois’ #1 non-daily collegiate newspaper. I’ll miss the chaos of the city and the paper and the best friends I’ve made.

But I’m moving to a different city in my home state, and I’m so excited to explore, immerse myself in it, and join the writing community there. I’ll be living with JT–waking up with my best friend, having regular date nights, making dinner with the guy I love instead of FaceTiming him, all the small things I’m so looking forward to.

And so it’s a lot of sadness muddled with excitement and nerves to process in such a short amount of time, even though it feels like everything is coming together. My solution? Checking back in with what’s important to me right now so I don’t get lost in the time that’s flying by.

In other words, reconnecting with myself; If I don’t carve out time to reflect and process everything I just mentioned, this season may also include a lot of breakdowns. Honestly, it may either way (change is always hard for me), but I think it’s still important to care for myself in the best ways I can. So, I’m going to yoga with a friend on Wednesdays again. I’m making more time to journal and focus on writing. I’m embracing girl’s days with my friends because sometimes you just need a day to binge the “Twilight” movies and check in with each other.

Which brings me to my second priority: reconnecting with friends. Specifically, my female friends who have been evolving the ways I think about the world and myself for the better. They love me and make me feel empowered and remind me how important it is to make sure they feel the same. I’m fortunate to have awesome women in my life every day and to have friends I’ve made in the last year that I also want to spend more time with before I’m a little farther away.

Reconnecting with home; I mean this on several levels. First, home has had three separate meanings for four years, and it’s about to take on a new one. I can’t fully grasp that right now, not before it’s taken shape, but it’s definitely something I’m thinking of and trying to cope ahead about.

Second, being okay with stasis. It’s spring break season right now and all of our social media feeds are full of tropical vacation pics. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed I didn’t go to Southern California or to AWP or just somewhere for an actual vacation. But there is beauty in being stationary, in being grateful for the home you’re comfortable in and lucky to have and people who make it so. Last year, I was so, so fortunate to go to Europe and to California and to Alabama, trips that I needed for different reasons and that taught me to think of home (and a lot of other things) in new perspectives. This spring, I picked up a few extra work shifts and then headed home, out of the city, to spend time with my family, my childhood bff, and JT.

I’ve said it time and again, but sometimes what you need is so understated; walking through HomeGoods with your grandma; eating froyo in the park with the best friend you’ve had since second grade; waking up to see the light perfectly illuminate the periwinkle walls of your childhood room. Sometimes, what you need is rest, and when you can’t get a huge quantity of that, you have to hold tight to the simple things that make you feel better.

That’s the plan for what’s left of Spring 2019 and beyond.

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Happy new year! I know it’s been a little while; the end of 2018 seemed to fly by. I’m in disbelief that it’s actually 2019–this is the year I graduate from college!

To kick off this year, I wanted to follow the trend of compiling some of my favorite things from 2018. I love a good list, so I put together some of the books, movies, and music I read, watched, and listened to this year that I think are worth telling everyone about. I’ll include that below.

But while I was reflecting, I realized that even though I thought most of my experiences this year had been kinda tough and not worth revisiting, the opposite was true. My list of experiences that I’m grateful for this year is my longest (and I’m sure I’m missing a few things, too).

For starters, I began my year in Germany and then really kicked it off in Paris. Even though I was feeling lost in translation–in many ways–it was still Paris. And it gave me friends and memories I don’t think I’ll ever lose.

I spent another lovely spring break in San Diego and Palm Springs.

Fast forward to my 21st birthday (finally!) in June, and I celebrated it with my queen Taylor Swift and my person, a boy who I’ve been sharing my favorite music with since 2014.

In the midst of a messy summer, I took a trip with my mom that grounded both of us.

I went on a sunset boat cruise on Lake Michigan. Aside from being absolutely beautiful, it felt like the perfect symbol of things falling together. I started a new job, I was pursuing another, and I was making peace with the time it had taken to get to that point.

I finally brought my roommate and college bestie home to meet my childhood bestie and see my small town. It was a quick but restful weekend.

The job that I mentioned pursuing is going really well; I loved my first semester of working at a newspaper. It’s equal parts challenging and rewarding and watching the daily collaboration is kind of mind-blowing, in the best way.

I spent Christmas in Alabama with JT’s family. I was really nervous to do something different for Christmas (I’m used to MI christmases with my family), but it was a really great week. We watched the sunset on the beach in Gulf Shores on Christmas Eve, went for a boat ride on Christmas Day, and even saw dolphins.

Finally, I ended the year with JT and his friends dancing, a very fun NYE for the most part.

Now, it’s the first day of 2019 and JT and I are exploring the area that we plan to move to after graduation. It’s a scary and exciting glimpse into the future–this coming year in a nutshell.

So here’s to 2019; thank you, Universe, for the people and amazing experiences I got to have with them in 2018. I’m open to all the opportunities, connections, and memories you can bring me in this new year.

And I wish the same for you ✨

From 2018…

Book recs:

1 – The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Abdurraqib

2 – Mean, Myriam Gurba

3 – Refuse, Julian Randall

4 – Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

Movie recs:

1 – A Star is Born

2 – The Favourite


1 – Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves

2 – Dan + Shay (self-titled)

3 – Shawn Mendes (self-titled)

Sometimes You Gotta “Gilmore Girls” It

Last week, I posted about being a funk and the 3 key things to focus on to try to get out of it. At the end of the post, I said that even after focusing on what you can control, sometimes you still have to just leave things to good, old-fashioned patience. You have to realize that if you’ve already done all you can do, you are still making things happen; you’ve set things in motion and now you gotta wait for the universe to put everything into place as it should be. I learned that for me anyway, to really step back and take that time, I have to be completely distracted. Like spontaneous mother-daughter road trip, completely “Gilmore Girls”-style-avoiding-responsibilities distracted.

So that’s what my mom and I did. Well, first, I spent a week at home helping with preparation for my little brother’s grad party, seeing family and friends, and just grounding myself. But then I made a forgetful mistake and missed the bus that was supposed to take me back to reality. My mom and I brainstormed solutions to get me back on track, except instead of simply getting me where I had planned to be, we spit-balled about making a quick weekend trip to see family we hadn’t seen in almost two years. It was something we’d been talking about doing, and luckily enough, my mistake gave us the perfect opportunity to move on this impulse. So we regrouped, packed, made arrangments for things to be okay in our absence, and we hit the road.

The hours spent in the car with my mom (and absolute best friend) and the hours spent sitting in living rooms, happily catching up with relatives while relaxing or eating (delicious) family meals have me reflecting on several things.

The first thing shouldn’t come as a surprise; sometimes you need to escape to for a clear head, but make it something you’ve been meaning to do. I’m so glad we took the time to see loved ones because there are few things that make your heart fuller than talking and laughing with people that want the best for you.

The second is closely related; it’s okay to let your family take care of you when you’re struggling to take the best care of yourself. Revel in the support you’re lucky to receive and remember to return the support when you can!

The third is how important it is to stay. To relax, to find peace, to nest. It’s ironic that I learned this on our Lorelai-esque trip, but while allowing myself to sit still instead of fretting over what I could be doing or what I was afraid of, I felt so much better. I remembered how to just be (and that’s important when you’re at the point in your process where that’s all you can do).

Fourth–arguably most important–is a reminder that there are very few things in life that can’t be solved by hours of heart-to-heart talking with your momma.

Fifth and final reflection today: once you’re rested, good things will come, and you’ll be ready to meet them. On the last night of our trip, I found out that I got the job I’ve been waiting to hear about. Now, I am back to reality, and feeling much better than when I was trying to force myself to face things I wasn’t quite ready to (and that weren’t quite ready for me yet).

Things You Can Control

We all face times when life isn’t going as planned. I’ve recently felt stuck, and let me tell you, I am not one who enjoys waiting or the unknown. When things aren’t going my way, my first instincts are impatience and over-analyzation. I’ve had to acknowledge that these negative emotions don’t help anything. Instead, they put you even further into a funk, making it hard to see that your situation is only temporary. And more importantly, there are still things you can control, even when it feels like everything else is out of your control.

The three key things you can still control:

1. Yourself (physically)

I’m not about to tell you to diet or hit the gym every day–unless that’s what you do to clear your head and heart. For me, that does include yoga and my own version of meditation. What I’m trying to say is that I think the first thing to realize when you feel unsure of everything is that you can feel sure about yourself. You can connect your body and your breath through yoga (or cardio or strength training or running, whatever happens to be your thing), reminding yourself that you’re physically and mentally strong. You can be confident that you look great by wearing your favorite outfit and taking a bunch of photos. You can wear a full face of makeup, or wear no makeup and do a face mask–just do what you’ve got to do to smile at the mirror and acknowledge that you’re still taking care of yourself.

2. Your Space

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Whether you’re consciously frustrated from clutter or emptiness, or it’s something that’s always been further down your to-do list, take charge of your space. Tidy. Decorate. And if it still feels off, maybe it has more to do with the place itself. Evaluate where you really need to be, physically or geographically, while you’re going through your funk. If you need time alone, go to your favorite solitary spot, like your local cafe or library. If you need comfort and support, go to a place filled with friends or family. I recently decided to spend some time in my hometown to feel grounded and give my current situation some time.

3. Your Time

Your most valuable resource to give–your time–is still completely under your control! And if you’re in a place in life you don’t want to be, choose to use your time for yourself. Make priorities. Is there something you feel you need to do to reach a goal and get out of your funk? Do it. Seize opportunities. Be purposeful in working towards making the changes you need to get out of your rut and turn your dreams into reality.

And that may just mean repeating these steps until all that’s left to do is step back and exercise some patience–or so I’m learning.

ALL My People

It’s move-in weekend; the bluntest reminder that I have two homes. My definition of home is roughly 4 parts people and 2 parts geography, and I don’t want to write to the idea of being grateful for places (today, anyway). So, to finish a piece I’ve been working on for weeks about the amazing people I have in my life, I want to talk about the wonderful phenomenon of realizing you have more people that you know (or remember) you do.

My two homes include the one I grew up in, and the one I made for myself when I left for college. My first transitional period of leaving one place and claiming another was one of the most difficult and lonely times – at first – but the magic to that drastic change was that it showed me who I had. And, more than that, it gave me new people. It was a time when my world felt uprooted and, consequently, so small that I regularly counted whom I had to go to. Only, I didn’t count everyone. There were people I forgot or was too preoccupied or scared to reach out to.

I have come to acknowledge this miscounting of the army of those I rely on and gain perspective, inspiration, and help from as a bad habit. I’m doing my best to break it.

Thankfully, in the last two years, I’ve made so many friendships. Some last days, some last semesters, and some have lasted from the first day of move-in freshman year and continue to grow stronger. In any case, I’ve appreciated crossing paths. I’ve also tried to strengthen old connections; I’ve realized the value of a coffee date and good conversation or even weekly phone calls with friends who have known me since elementary school. These small efforts show people that they matter to you, and I’m doing my best to do better at that because the crux of my bad habit is focusing too hard on a few and forgetting that I have, like I said, many wonderful people in my life.

The biggest lesson I learned during my rough transition into college was the importance of allowing my two homes to coexist peacefully, to appreciate each for their different qualities. And so, I have to connect that lesson to people, as they are what I think of before physical locations. What I mean is, the phrases ‘my family’ or my ‘best friends’ include people that have never met or lived in the same place or even know what my daily life looks like. And that’s fine – the point is that if I picked up a phone or got on a train or a bus or a plane or needed any kind of advice – from writing to life – someone would be there, someone would answer. It’s my instinct to want to organize and thus quantify how many someone’s I have, but the premise of this entire idea is that I can’t – and that that is the greatest thing The Universe has shown me so far.

Here’s to a great school year of being surrounded and supported (no matter the distance) by those who make you feel like you matter.


(Image from Pinterest.)

2017 Writing Resolutions

I know I’m a month late – this has been a work in progress for the last month that just kept getting pushed down my to-do list as I had to move back to school and the semester began. But I’m getting to it now, and in the spirit of getting stuff done this year, I’m celebrating the first day of February by finally sharing my writing resolutions for 2017.

1 – Post at least two blogs posts a month

I just made it for January with my welcome post and a little Monday / late flashback Friday action. But this is a goal that I want to hold myself to to keep my website as current and relevant as possible. I’ve been an Odyssey creator before, writing an article a week, and that seemed like a bit much on top of two other (paying) jobs and a full course load. This is a goal that I know is more realistic, and the wording – at least – gives me room to surpass it if I’m feeling especially inspired.

2 – Publish at least two pieces

I’m happy to say that I have two submissions already sent out! I’m keeping the details to myself until I hear back. I’m just super excited right now that I have multiple pieces I feel confident enough in to send out. Submitting felt overwhelming last year, but man do a few workshops make all the difference! That’s the part that I love about my school, Columbia; I have seen myself grow tremendously as a writer in my personal essays. Enough that I’m ready to share some, so fingers crossed.

3 – Read at least 10 books

This is crucial as a writer, and I know that, especially as a student, I have neglected reading unless it was for classes in the last year or so, at least during the semester. Winter and summer break are a great time to catch up, and summer is probably when the majority of my reading will happen. Just from winter break, I’ve got two books under my belt already for 2017. Because I never got around to reading it in high school, I read The Great Gatsby. Then, because I have an undying love for relevant, good YA fiction, I read Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – heartbreaking, but important. Eight books – hopefully great reads- to go.

4 – Keep this site and all social media as up-to-date as possible

I vow to set many reminders on my phone and spend at least two late nights going semi-blind starting at my laptop – if need be. But look at me right now, getting this ready at a decent hour, not going blind, but relaxed from my yoga class. I’ve got confidence in my ability to keep this site up to date, but I’m really going to have to focus on the social media stuff. I was struggling to share my first post from my new Facebook page earlier, so I’ve got some things to figure out about maintaining an entire page on my own. I’ll get there, and from there, to more sites, like my poor, bare Tumblr.

5 – Establish a routine!

This is so essential, to every writer, and I need to get serious about mine. I write a lot – but it’s pretty random depending on my time. To accomplish most, if not all, of my other resolutions, I need to prioritize what’s important and set aside time. This is a simple statement, a common bit of advice for those of us who struggle with time management, but it’s easier said than done. Regardless, it’s time to get it done.

Here’s to a great 2017, for writing and everything else.

Photo credit:

Politics; My Thoughts Then and Now

From November 13th, my political response:

I want to understand. I want to believe, to rationalize that this horrible presidential win isn’t out of hatred, though that is exactly what it symbolizes to over half of this country. I want to have empathy in my heart, to think those who voted for this man did so because they believed it was the right thing to do, because they are sick of corrupt politicians and our terrible financial state, and they want change. They want better. I can see where they’re coming from; the middle class, even more so rural America, has been ignored for a long while now.

I have seen that firsthand, but I still can’t say that I believe this choice was for the best. I can’t say that it still wasn’t made out of ignorance or privilege, at least in large part. I’m sorry if that offends some, but I have to acknowledge that it was a privilege to be able to vote without concern for your fundamental rights as a human being, given the platform that our soon to be president has created for himself. Because there are those who can’t say the same.

That is why people are angry, walking the streets in protest. That is why people are heartbroken, crying tears of genuine loss. That is why people are worried about the future, about the next four years. No one is whining or being dramatic. It would do a lot of people good to realize that just because someone feels something more deeply than you does not make their feelings invalid; it simply means you are different, that you come from different experiences. Again, if you can shrug your shoulders, and know that your future wasn’t going to change either way, good for you. Not everyone has that in this country, because this country isn’t as shiny and wonderful for some as it is for others.

Now, I’m not pointing this out to assign blame or spread anymore hate. I’m so done with the verbal attacks on social media. There are people I love, and will continue to love, on both sides. But I can’t ignore the profound sadness around me. It is why I feel it is genuinely important to acknowledge that America is not the same place for all of its inhabitants. And this fact needs to be seen for the universal truth that it is. It needs to be the starting point for growth.

I’ve come to learn personally that your relationship with the place you call home is deeply personal and often complicated. But it is that: a relationship. And as any other relationship, it is specific to those (people or places) it is between. And after this election, there are those willing to give up that relationship, and that is their prerogative. They are entitled to do what is best for them without criticism. But there are also those ready to work through this upsetting and confusing event. I think that just as those in the winning party are ready to move forward, so are those on the losing side. It just looks different because people are in vastly different states of mind. Some are protesting, some are celebrating, but all are looking to the future.

What we all need to realize is that in order to actually get past this, we have to effectively communicate. There has to be more understanding. Just as I said that I get where a lot of Trump voters were coming from, those very same people on the winning side have to be willing to understand why others are upset, and it does stem from the idea of privilege that I’m not sure everyone is aware of. Our future president spoke against many minority groups on his trail to the White House, and they have every right to be concerned about the continuation of words or actions against them. They need support rather than opposition. However, like I said, there is humanity on both sides; making the generalization that everyone who voted for Trump is racist or misogynist is fighting hate with hate, which is useless. We can’t continue these echo chambers of divisive political rhetoric that went on throughout the whole campaign period. I think that all we can do now is hope, and act, for the best. Together.

We have to stand up for what we believe in, but we also have to spread empathy instead of believing that we’re all against each other. As President Obama said, we are all on the same team; “We all want what’s best for this country.. We all go forward, with the presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens. Because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functional democracy.”

I want to continue this presumption of good faith because without it, things look bleak. And not just from things our future president may or may not do, but more from what we will do to each other.


I stand behind my original thoughts; I still want to see people coming together, regardless of party affiliations or views on controversial topics, to have actual conversations instead of comment wars. I still want to hope for the future and celebrate any and all good that occurs in the world right now despite negativity.

However, the idea of privilege that I emphasized in my original post is still very relevant. And yes, I do know that there are rights I’m privileged to have. I know that personally, I haven’t ever truly felt victimized for the color of my skin, or even my gender (aside from cat-calling), and that I have many opportunities in this country (and hopefully will continue to have them). But it is not the same for everyone. I don’t know how to get people to understand this, and I feel like this a frustration shared by many right now. Obama spoke very eloquently to this point, quoting To Kill A Mockingbird, in his farewell speech, about how we need to look at things from other people’s perspectives.

The trouble lies in the fact that things are still so divided that many either didn’t watch or listen, because they “can’t stand him” or if they did, they wrote off some of his good, humanitarian messages because they dislike him or his party. As I stated in my response, this idea of writing off things or people on the basis of generalities is useless. I’m really beginning to hate sentences that have the words “liberals” or “conservatives” in them because they’re all used as dirty words. They’re just that, words – labels for political ideologies. These labels alone don’t make someone stupid or wrong – they mean you have different opinions. That’s the intent, anyway. And some people are doing it right; I’ve seen, and cling to, some really beautiful examples of people from different sides and backgrounds extending understanding to others, of compromising for the good of people instead of the power to be right.

Still, I have to admit that thinking about our political state makes me feel sick to my stomach. It’s not just actions that have been taken in the last week – and that’s a long discussion in itself – it’s still the way many people are treating each other. Logging into social media makes me anxious now, not only because I don’t know what news I’ll see, but more because of who may or not be arguing over their views.

Frankly, I’m on the side that is disgusted with certain actions and sincerely scared for the future. And I applaud those standing up for what they believe in, be it peaceful protests or reaching out to their local representatives. If ever there was a time for everyone to at least look into how to do that, I would say it’s now. I’m not really much of an activist, if I’m being honest, but I’m also at the point where I want to learn as much as I can about how to use the rights I’m privileged to have, and how to defend those that I, or others, may not have.

I guess my hope is basically the same as before; I want to live in a world where people are good to other people. I still strongly hope for people of any background or political party to demonstrate humanity to others, especially those who are different. Sadly, I also have to acknowledge that it doesn’t feel like we’re in any better place than we were a couple months ago, no thanks to our new leader. If anything, it feels worse.

Much like before, I’m still trying to understand. Except this time, I’m not focused on how we got here, only how I can best use my own positive energy going forward. I want to urge anyone who read this far to do the same. Remember to think beyond yourself for the betterment of people in this country as a whole (and a lot of those people some may still think are “whining” are doing just that, not whining).  

Sorry for the length, I’m still experimenting with how I want to connect old and new thoughts, but thanks so much for the read!

Image source: Psychology Today


Thank you for checking out my site! I’ll try to keep my intro short and sweet. I previously blogged on purpleoptimism.wordpress (which is coming down soon). I wanted to restart with a more consistent, professional-looking site to continue blogging and also display some of my other writing projects.

A little bit about me:

I am an undergrad at Columbia College, majoring in nonfiction and minoring in professional writing. Being a nonfiction major basically means that I like writing about myself a lot and that I think I’m funny – I promise I am sometimes. More than that, though, it really means that like any writer, and especially a nonfiction writer, I write about the world around me to make sense of it.

My posts won’t all be serious, nor will they all be silly – I’m hoping to find a good balance as I share things that are relevant to my daily life in hopes of connecting with those to whom they’re also relevant. Additionally, I will use old material to polish up and post as a once-a-month #flashbackfriday – hey, the trend works for pictures, why not words?

Aside from blogging, the other projects that I mentioned will most likely take the form of personal essays. To those that don’t know, that is what nonfiction majors spend hours and hours in writing workshops to create. I have a passion for this craft that delicately combines the internal and external, the showing and telling, of personal experience. Hopefully I can share some of the knowledge I’ve gained from some wonderful authors who have happened to moonlight as my teachers.

Thank you again for clicking, and thank you even more for reading, I truly appreciate it. Stay tuned!