Thank you guys once more for joining me on this September Poetry Series! We are already over a week into this project of mine, and I’m enjoying this outlet immensely, so thank you for your support over these next few weeks.
Today let’s talk about a word that has very different meanings to all of us: Home. Take a moment to yourself, breathe in deeply, and close your eyes. Consider what home means to you, because I guarantee it has a wildly different image to you than it does to me.
Is it the people who make your home so special? Is it the place, or the food, or the pup barking at you for a snack? Whatever it is, there’s a place that is home to you. For some, it may have more negative imagery, and for others it is more positive.
For me, it’s (mostly lol) positive. As I finish out this last semester of college in California, my heart still aches for my true home that is two thousand miles away in Tennessee. So this poem is a little reminder that home really is where the heart is, whether that be with a romantic interest, your fat cat, or your amazing family who wishes you’d never gone in the first place.
Appreciate your home. ❤
Thank you, my dear readers, for supporting me! You guys mean the world to me, and I mean that. I was just talking to a friend about how you guys are such strong supporters, and you are the ones who make this blog worth it to me!
Today’s blog post is going to focus on travel, as some of you really enjoy these sorts of posts from me. As some of you know, my dad and I made the drive from California to Tennessee recently, and we had the incredible chance to stop at a few places that must be highlighted. These three destinations are places you should definitely check out if you can.
1. BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK — SOUTHERN UTAH, USA
Bryce Canyon National Park is incredible, and it was our favorite stop on the trip. Located four hours northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, Bryce Canyon is famous for its red, orange, and white hoodoos. What the heck is a hoodoo, you may ask? A hoodoo a thin pillar of rock that protrudes upward. Hoodoos are formed through frost weathering and stream erosion. So Bryce Canyon is a sort of misnomer, as the national park is not a canyon at all.
Utah is one of the most beautiful states in the USA, in my opinion, and the people are super friendly too. While Bryce is a sort of famous national park, it is not as well-known due to its close proximity to Zion National Park. Therefore, if you want a beautiful, less-crowded alternative to Zion, Bryce is definitely your choice!
And a picture is worth a thousand words in this case. For sure.
2. ARCHES NATIONAL PARK — EASTERN UTAH
While I had very high hopes for Arches, it was honestly not what I was expecting. About two hours from Grand Junction, Colorado, and four hours from Bryce, Arches is another testament to how beautiful the United States is. However, my dad and I thought we’d see arches at every turn in this park, and we saw very few. So if you go, just understand that you will see some gorgeous vistas, but the arches are few and far between.
There was a wonderful spring storm that came out of nowhere while we were hiking, and that was a fun moment, because we had to choose whether or not to keep hiking or die in the rain. (We chose the safety of my car, naturally.)
3. PIKES PEAK — THE ROCKIES, COLORADO
Pikes Peak is a staple of my dad’s childhood, and we were both super excited to visit! About thirty minutes from Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak is America’s Mountain, and anybody can see why. The mountain stands at 14,115 feet and is the inspiration of the famous song “America the Beautiful.”
Today Pikes Peak is known for its nineteen mile road that reaches the summit. This incredible engineering feat allows anyone who can handle the altitude to travel up the fourteener in the comfort of one’s own car. (Of course, you must be careful with who’s driving your car, as my dad got quite nervous with the drive to the top. There are few guardrails, so beware if you have issues with height.) This road is perfect to observe dramatic cliff faces, snowy mountainsides, and other humans as they try not to freak out going up and down the mountain.
One thing to consider is altitude sickness. As we drove up, my dad and I were both keenly aware of the possibility of hypoxia, which is the lack of oxygen in the blood due to thin air. Pilots sometimes suffer hypoxia without supplemental oxygen, and so my dad and I were quizzing each other on possible symptoms (such as headaches, blue lips and fingernails, drowsiness, etc). There was no doubt that at the summit we were both somewhat delirious, and we barely stayed five minutes.
However, the drive down was incredible, and pictures don’t do the view justice. The big takeaway for the both of us, though, was that there is nothing like a good gulp of fresh air (and not at the top of a mountain).
Our thousand and a half mile journey was one for the books. Though we loved our trip and having the chance to see these great places, there is nothing like home, and that’s the biggest thing to remember. When we have the opportunity to visit new places, we cannot forget the places that came before, as we are all blessed with hometowns and home bases.
Think of your own home, and remember to treasure it as much as you can. We are never certain how long we will have on our one-of-a-kind planet. ❤
For a lot of you, Thanksgiving is probably a pretty foreign concept. What are those Americans doing, eating a lot of turkey and stuffing and deviled eggs? (Please, please try a deviled egg if you haven’t before.)
But here’s the truth: Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year.
It’s a chance for families and friends to catch up, prepare a meal together, and enjoy delicious, homemade food while remembering that we have a lot for which to be thankful. It’s a tradition that stems from values of working hard and knowing the things that have the greatest importance in our lives should be our families and friends. Thanksgiving is about people, not just great food…
And to celebrate… I thought it would be fitting to do a little “What I’m Thankful For” post. ❤
Though I am always pretty appreciate for my family, this year seems even more important than ever. Last year I did not get to spend Thanksgiving at home, as I was in Chile, but it is a different story this November. I get to be with them!!
To my Poppa Lawrence: Thank you for teaching me humility and a giving spirit. Thank you for being my sounding board, hiking companion, and example of what a man should be.
To my sweet Momma J: Thank you for putting up with my moodiness, showing me the example of who I want to be as a mother and a human going about life, and taking me on more “drives” than I can count.
To my beautiful sister, Gen: Thank you for being my best friend. You drive me crazy 98% of the time, but there is not a day that goes by when I am not thankful that you came into my life.
To my West Virginia family, thank you for contributing to my parents’ lives and taking care of them. Especially to Mamaw, I want to thank you for always reading this blog and being such a sweet example for me.
If there is one thing I have learned through college, it’s that your friends can become like family.
To my hometown friends, thank you for being with me since Day 1. You knew me at my lowest points, and you were there when I made the choice to leave Tennessee (just for a little while). You guys helped me figure out who I am, and I am so thankful I’ve kept in contact with you over the years.
To my roaches, thank you for being a second family to me. I truly believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason, and you guys are no exception. You are ridiculous at times, but you match me in every way.
Miss Givenchy, I’m sure you are reading this, so I will make a special shoutout to you. Thank you for being my #1 supporter, both with this blog and everything I do. Thank you for being an incredible best friend, LNC devotee, and wing woman. ❤ (5’11”).
Thank you, my beautiful Tennessee, for being an incredible place to have grown up and to live in now. Thank you for shielding me from wildfires and gracing us with rain. You sure aren’t perfect, but at times you feel pretty close to it.
Thank you, airplanes, for being invented. Thank you for being my outlet, my newfound passion, and the chance to feel like an angel, even for an hour or two in that big old sky. I’m sorry I didn’t find you sooner, but sometimes it isn’t about timing. I’m just glad I found you.
Thank you, God, for the opportunities that I have. Thank you for protecting my friends and me from the Woolsey Fire, for letting me be home during this Thanksgiving break when I wasn’t even supposed to be home in the first place, and for always being there, even when I’m a total idiot (which is the majority of the time).
Thank you, my country, for allowing me to live here. Thank you for letting me have the freedoms I have, the opportunities I have, and the chance to see a better place for my own children in the future.
7. THIS BLOG
AND TO MY INCREDIBLE BLOGGING COMMUNITY!
Thank you guys so much for reading, commenting, liking, and following this blog. It makes me so happy to connect with you all, from so many different backgrounds and countries and ways of life. This has been a truly amazing experience, and it is something for which I’m very grateful. I love reading your posts and learning more about all of you.
What are you thankful for?
Maybe it feels like there isn’t much to be thankful for, but I’m sure there are things in your life that are absolute blessings, and you may not realize it until you really think about it. There are always going to be ups and downs, but it is up to us to harness the negative energy and convert it to positive energy. (This may sound ridiculous, but I hope it is a good analogy).
I heard something this past Sunday at church, and I believe it is wisdom:
Give thanks even in the worst of times. These times challenge us even more than the good times.
We must remember that we are put in situations for a reason, and that these moments can be the most constructive of them all. They remind us that things can get better, and we should remain committed to our thankful spirit in the meantime.
Therefore, I hope all of you can find something to be thankful for, and remind yourselves of this thing throughout the week. It can be a person, an activity, your passion, anything! And maybe treat yourself to some turkey in the meantime. 😉
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I almost (ALMOST!) forgot about my weekly blog post. That being said, I’m back in the game and ready to share some thoughts that have been nagging at me in the past week.
After escaping the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, I flew home to Tennessee this past Sunday afternoon. I am thankful to be home, to relax and regain peace in my life, and to take some days to recover from the stress of this gnarly November.
Though I am quite cryptic in nature, I want to be honest with you all and go over the things that are tearing me up right now, even though I know I am safe and loved and cared for.
So here we go… In chronological order.
Who knew one person could have such an effect on you?
Not to be too cryptic on this front, but if there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that just one person can change how you really feel, both in the best of ways and the worst. While I try not to be too analytical, I can’t help but regret certain actions and revel in them at the same time.
On the evening of Wednesday, November 7, thirteen people lost their lives at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. One of these thirteen souls was Alaina Housley, an eighteen-year-old freshman from my university, Pepperdine. It was a senseless act of violence that shook the entire United States, and it destroyed the peaceful atmosphere of Pepperdine.
My freshman year, I went to Borderline countless times with friends, because it is primarily a line dancing club. It was a place to bond with friends, attempt to boot scooting’ boogie without the professionals stomping all over you, and get a little country music through your veins.
But now I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering of Alaina’s family and the other Pepperdine students who managed to flee with their lives intact. I cannot understand how a place like Borderline is not safe anymore, that college kids cannot even go enjoy dancing without the worry of violence seeping in.
On Friday, November 9, I received an evacuation alert from Pepperdine due to the Woolsey Fire wreaking havoc upon the Santa Monica Mountains. The fire that had started near Westlake Village, close to the already-reeling Thousand Oaks, had jumped into our neck of the woods.
Only thirty minutes after receiving this alert, I stumbled outside with a backpack and my flight bag to discover smoke rolling over the mountains. Terrified, I hurried to my car with two friends and fled to San Diego, while most of my friends remained on campus.
Fortunately, Pepperdine was the safest place to be in Malibu, and though the flames would make it onto campus that night, it was the miraculous effort of firefighters who saved the school and protected all those college kids in the process. Though the fire was nothing less than alarming, putrid smoke followed its path, leaving those who stayed in paper masks.
The following morning, Saturday, November 10, the rest of my friends got out as quickly as they could because the air quality was so poor. Eventually, I was reunited with some of them in the safety of my friend’s San Diego home.
On the morning of Sunday, November 11, we received another alert that school was canceled until November 26. Five minutes later I booked a flight and was home to Tennessee by midnight.
The status of the fire now is on the upswing. The last time I heard, the Woolsey Fire is 60% contained and will be fully extinguished soon. Though hundreds of homes burned down and two lives were lost to this specific fire, there is much to be thankful for, especially the way the community pulled together to save the thousands who lived in the areas affected by the fire.
While most of my friends remained on Pepperdine’s campus that first day of the fire, I went to my friend’s house in San Diego, where we watched a special nature show, Earth’s Natural Wonders (not the typical college kid flick, that’s for sure), ate a lot of delicious food, went to church, and played cards. It was relaxing and a lasting memory. When we reconnected with our other friends, we felt even tighter as a group.
That being said, we received the phone call from school that Sunday, and suddenly we were all packed up and headed five directions. What was a moment of us being all together completely fractured.
Finding myself on a flight home in the middle of November was unexpected, and it affected my mood the first few days of being back, because my friends were all over the map. We are all over the map, and it felt so weird saying goodbye for two weeks when just days before we’d been going to concerts, playing video games, and gulping down horror movies. Luckily we have been able to call and do a group crossword or two. (Told you, we’re not normal college kids.)
This little unplanned break has been, well, wild. I went from a wildfire to rain that shifted to snow. 80 degree temperatures in California dropped to the thirties in Tennessee, and I was shocked to see colorful trees from the autumn here in the South. Neutral accents melted into my particular lilt of Southern, and things seemed so strange…
I think I am able to understand my feelings of confusion and stress now that I’ve been home five days: I am growing up, and it hurts just as much as it excites me. I will be graduating college in a year, and then the real world’s going to knock on the door. My friends will be split up around the country, permanently, even though I know they will always be a phone call away. College will become a distant memory, and I’ll be responsible for my future. Who knows what will come then, but the worry has been sinking its teeth into my brain for a little while now. I haven’t been writing as much, considering the circumstances, and therefore this post feels long overdue.
This is a sentiment everyone goes through, if you get the fortunate chance. It’s not something we should complain about, since so many don’t get to walk in our shoes, but there are still ups and downs with this thing called life. Sometimes we can’t control our emotions, our feelings, what drives our souls, and that can be overwhelming.
That’s when I take a step back, pray to God, and try my hardest to clear my head. It doesn’t always work, so I’ve been doing all sorts of things: Exercise, working on a new book, listening to music (check out “Freelance” by Toro y Moi).
And I know that it will be hard to leave home when it’s time to go.
That’s where I’m at now: Torn between two worlds, one of which will inevitably win over the other.
I think this describes my mood right about now: I’m split over my future, split over my present, split right down the middle. There’s so much going on in this world that my days are slipping like sand through my fingers, and this can be terrifying, not having a way to stop what’s coming.
Though this may seem like a melodramatic post, I know things are looking up. From being home I am reunited with my one-of-a-kind family, hometown best friends, and overweight guinea pig. I get amazing work done here, including 800 questions for my written pilot exam and thousands of words for a new romance novel. Being home reminds me of who I am, truly, deeply in my core; it reminds me of what I was and how far I’ve come. It inspires me to stay true to my values, and not to wrap myself in the what-ifs of my life in California.
Home. A place some never get the chance to see again.
I pray for the family of Alaina Housley and the countless people who were displaced, injured, and lost their homes due to the Woolsey Fire. I cannot begin to imagine the severity of the Camp Fire in Northern California, where so many have lost their lives and livelihoods.
Therefore, it is times like these that should remind us all of the good things that we take for granted. I need to do a better job of remembering, because memory lasts with us much longer than the present.
Hopefully my next post will be a little more light-hearted. 🙂
After coming home from South America, I decided to take a few weeks’ rest & relaxation, which meant I slept a lot, ate way too much, and spent countless hours dissecting YouTube videos. And, in the meantime, I finished my magical realism novel and am almost done with a cheesy romance novella!
So, although I was quite lazy in the past few weeks, I was also hard at work trying to write as much as possible. Expect more of that in the upcoming months, since it is my summer break, and I’m going to have a lot of time to do what I love most.
To update you on some of my summer goals, I do have a job now to provide for my dietary needs (sorry, I love to eat out, and eating out is expensive!). Also, I’m going to schedule a flying lesson tonight. Therefore, I’m trying to knock off as many things on my summer goal list as possible.
Anyway, this is a quick update, and I promise I will have more things of substance in the upcoming weeks. 🙂