In a little under a week I will be ditching my Brendon Urie-clad walls, tiny twin-long, and distracting comfort of my own room to board a plane headed 1485 miles away to the Coastal Bend of Texas. The goal is to help with hurricane relief with my campus ministry. We have no idea what to expect, or what the organizations and churches we will be working with will ask of us. All we know is that we will be showing up, ready for anything.

I’ve never been to Texas. Nor have I been on a mission trip outside of my state. Needless to say, I’m excited. I’m excited to have an opportunity to go out and serve. I’m excited to share this opportunity with the friend family I’ve made in my faith community. The excitement also stems from, I think, a place of restlessness. Over the past weeks I’ve noticed my attention turning towards the routine of day to day, each uniform morning bleeding into a mundane afternoon followed by a predictable evening. Not even dying my hair a shade of mildy- horrendous maroon/auburn could throw a big enough wrench in a cyclical, contained pattern of plans.

I wrote recently about how I actually enjoy my wage job of rote labour, making sandwiches for hangry people for approximately 10 hours a week. Those 10 hours lend themselves to some pretty heavy introspective thinking, much of which has come to expose a sort of longing– a longing for a deeper significance, a heartfelt meaning, a bigger purpose, one that I wish didn’t include mulling around in general education courses as I’m trying to shape the rest of my academic/career life.

But I digress. I don’t want to go in with any expectations. Rather, I want to show up, discover, learn, and do.

I watched a TED Talk recently [lol, when am I not watching a TED Talk, tbh… Nothing like a good TED Talk to help you get motivated to do hours of homework on a Friday afternoon, amiright?] about the importance of stepping out of our comfortable social circles to expand our sphere of influence and ultimately, our opportunities. This talk was followed by another talk regarding the growing need for “strangeness” encounters in our social circles.  This was more of a specific call to familiarize ourselves with the unfamiliar, because, as it turns out, the links we establish with those not in our immediate circles, but rather in the more obscure branches off of our familiarity, the “weaker links” in our social network. That being said, the most valuable thing we can do about it is to reach out to those relationships that are maybe more distant than we’re comfortable with. To put everything aside and just be present in the current moment of developing the relationship, without any expectations or agendas.

Fast forward to less than a week from now and, not only will being in Texas put me in regular contact with people that are perhaps on the outer edges of my inner circle, but I will be in a completely different landscape, frame of mind and network of people, most of which I will have never met before. And so I know it is part of the journey, the learning, the benefit, to completely shatter those walls of comfort, obliterate those self-established zones of “interest” and “non-interest” and just get out there and be with these people, to immerse myself in the strangeness– the simple, adventurous, benevolent strangeness.



I am mildly addicted to sweeping.

Cleaning, even.

Not only is it a great way to feign busyness when your main manager is wandering around the room as you work like the good, dutiful productive employee you are, but it’s just a zen activity.

Back and forth, the satisfying sound of the bristles brushing against faux brick that will never be truly clean, ushering piles of forgotten morsels into a black rectangular abyss that is slightly broken in such a way that you have to hold the handle up at times to keep the entire thing from falling over.

You can rage-sweep. [3/10, do not recommend, especially with a crusty old horse hair broom that sheds incessantly, leaving you with more mess of broken off bristle shards on the tile than you started with.]

You can sad-sweep. [also 3/10, do not recommend, because you’re just looking down the whole time alone with your thoughts and your neck starts to hurt and your back starts to hurt and just echoes the pre-existing mental pain]

You can philoso-sweep. [9/10, highly recommend, as you let your thoughts of the day and previous days culminate into a single space, almost innately forcing you to find the patterns, the connections, the mistakes, the triumphs, ponder the meaning of life, ponder a life of meaning, etc. A lovely one-sided conversation with your brain pilot.]

Alas, just a couple of the reasons I don’t completely hate going to a wage job 10 hours out of the week. I sweep. I clean. I wash dishes. While doing so my mind is free to wander as my hands carry out the physical labor. I’m not constantly distracted, I am not consistently stimulated by a glowing brick in front of my face. So often I feel like my attention is shattered, the pieces scattered amongst various tasks that may or may not be deserving of the ever decreasing [it seems] attention I have to spend throughout the day.

I also remember one of my goals for this year was to increase my time set aside for mindfulness and reflection and meditation– and this is the perfect opportunity, it seems like.

So I sweep, and let the numbing progress of my hands stay rooted to reality as my mind travels elsewhere, on vacation from the 158 hours of constant compression and diluted attention.


going grey

Sooooooooo I stumbled across something on Facebook today [as I always seem to do] and found an article about phone usageand how much we use our little metal bricks throughout the day… I found it rather interesting. Its author suggests that we can take out some of the gripping, stimulating elements that make us want to pull that sucker out more than 48 times a day by going in and fixing the settings to make the display gray-scale.

In fact, I’m trying to, as you will, go “grey” in bits and pieces of my life right now. As part of my Lenten discipline, I’m trying to disengage from excessive social media and try to be less attached to my phone, in an effort to place emphasis on my relationships here and now, in person, in depth. Rather than being constantly distracted by the artificial color so boldly emblazoned in my palm throughout the day, I want what’s in color–my people, my surroundings, my blessings– to be the focus of my attention, my time, my energy. So I deleted those all-to-tempting “scroll-bait” apps off my phone [Snapchat too! Which I had not done before …go big or go home, right?] So I figured why the heck not?

It was really weird at first– sometimes without thinking I’ll unlock it and be taken aback briefly by what’s before me… other times [especially on the lock screen!] my brain will try SUPER hard to kind of fill in the picture a bit, insert the colors that I was so used to into my head and try to trick me into seeing what isn’t there. Weird, right?

The theory is, that the less interesting something is, the less compelled, the less compulsive, the less addicted we might be to it.

Has anyone else tried this? For colorblind reasons or otherwise?


hot as february

It was sixty degrees outside today.

Sixty. Degrees. In February. What.

That being said, I tried to be outside for as much as possible. I felt sad that I had to spend 4 of those hours of glorious inside, making sandwiches for people, but alas. It was great while it lasted.

One thing I noticed is that the insane warmth of today brought with it a bustling that’s been absent on campus for some time now… I know I referenced a sermon a while back about having good “internal” weather all year long, but it’s also really hard to escape the fact that weather does heavily impact my mood, my outlook, my habits. My roommate also announced in our group chat today that she was in such a good mood because of the weather. It’s too darn nice outside to be in a bad mood, you know?

Just hours ago I was standing over a sink full of dishes. Stuck-In-the-Remnants-of-Winter-Blues Stephanie would have been grumbly, impatient for her shift to end, and thinking about how she never wanted to touch another dish again.

Today seemed different. I regularly do try to use the time at my wage job doing menial tasks to let my mind wander because, as Chris Bailey points out in his book The Productivity Project, wandering is the default mode of the brain.

My mind went to the positivity, the longing, the possibilities. My mind went to this summer, hopes for Ireland, the work I hope to do, traveling, learning, and just an overall desire to get excited for something. To start something new. To get out and do and see rather than be glued to a screen for 54% of the day.

…Which also spurred my decision to get rid of a lot of my social media [barring this blog] for a bit. Call it a Lenten discipline or just a life re-evaluation– there’s definitely just other things I would like to be doing rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram on a pointless journey from A to B then back to A that just has the tendency to leave me anxious and unfulfilled.


That being said, find me here, typing furiously away on my mechanical keyboard soaking up the last real day of my hand-held media frolicking, also thinking about the gravity of the events that have transpired in the last 48 hours. Posts to come, I tell you what. But until then… anyone else get super elated with the warm weather?


gundersen // gillespie

It was pouring.

We left campus around 7:45, stopping briefly to get coffee on our way out. Once we got on the highway, we blasted Noah’s newest records on the car stereo in excited anticipation of what was to come.

We got to Charlottesville in a downpour (it hadn’t stopped one bit). We found a space in the parking garage and admitted solemnly to ourselves that we’d have to make a run to the venue, as none of us had thought to bring raincoats or umbrellas.

We jogged down the quaint streets of downtown, and I stopped multiple times for pictures because I was in love with the way the rain made the street lights reflect off of the road. We walked into the venue, The Southern, and were instantly greeted by the ticket man, who had our tickets on will-call after a brief debacle some months earlier with mail-delivery. But I digress.

He branded us with neon green armbands to indicate we weren’t allowed to buy beer but could come and go in and out of the venue as we pleased.

The cafe was divided into two main parts, the seating area and merch table and then a darkened open area, headed by a stage with some sparse tables. The show was sold out– there was pretty much standing room only. We claimed our spot, rather close to the stage, and put our stuff down. We had gotten there right in time for the opener, Aaron Gillespie, to start his set. Strawberryish-blonde, tattooed and badass, his rasp mildly reminiscent of Gavin DeGraw and Springsteen. He closed his set with Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ and had the entire audience singing along.

I was not prepared for what happened next.

After a 15 minute or so break, Noah Gundersen took the stage and, without a word, started his set. Clad in dark denim, a worn masculine chambray shirt, graphic sleeveless tee with his long dark hair pulled up in a bun, he stood alone–nothing but a mic and a guitar accompanying him onstage.

*copious squealing*

His voice commanded the room, pierced the silence, and it was hard to tell that he was suffering even the slightest bit from the flu. I recognized some of the songs he played from the ones playing over the car stereo on the way over, but this was SO MUCH BETTER.

I remember taking some video clips, but in all honesty, I just put my phone away and stood there with Fish, hypnotized– by his voice, his lyrics, his playing. Opting for more of his slow grooves and songs that didn’t make it onto his newest album, he led seamlessly one song into the other, each a unique experience of its own.

Perhaps my favourite one he played was a stripped down version of his driving bop, “The Sound”– the chorus literally gave me goosebumps and grabs at my chest every time.

When he finally finished his set, we all begged him to come back onstage with our applause. He did, and, as it turns out, ended up playing one of Fish’s favourite songs, Cigarettes.


We waited, like many hopefuls, after the show, hoping he’d come out so Fish could talk to him [Noah was a huge musical influence for him growing up, so getting to meet him was a SUPER goal of his.]. We didn’t really know it at the time– but upon arriving at the venue we both hit the bathrooms really quickly. When we came back out, we saw Noah making his way through the cafe part of building, and he stopped to get pictures with some of the people who noticed him there.

It was nearing 11:30PM and the place was, slowly but surely, clearing out and the staff was clearing tables and sweeping up. We were two left of about 15 people still waiting to see Noah. Eventually they trickled out, us included. I suggested that we wait a bit by the stage door for a bit. Before we left, however, we got in line to get a t-shirt– the only one left was one used for display– so the guy selling them was like “I feel badly that you’re getting the beat up one… how about you just take it– it’s yours.” Our eyes lit up and our night was made. We were ushered by peer pressure outside, where we waited for a bit in a really cool alleyway, surrounded by brick, tree lights, and a windowed overpass with a rhino statue in it.

We waited until about midnight, out-waiting this group of obnoxious people who were vaping up a storm (did I mention I think that audience was the biggest group of hipsters I’ve ever seen in one place…?). Lo and behold, around 5 minutes after midnight, Noah emerged with some of his crew, moving equipment to his car. He saw us and smiled, and told us to give him a sec while he took care of some stuff.

When he returned, he asked us our names, and we shook hands with him. Fish told him how big of a fan he was, and I asked him if we could please get a picture with him. I snapped one of him and Fish– he had the biggest smile on his face. We thanked him and we went on our respective ways, elated at such an awesome end to the evening.

It made me think about how 1) good things come to those who wait an hour after a show ends in a brick alleyway in the drizzling rain 2) how awesome live music is, how transformative lyrics can be and the power behind the simplest things.

We are, without a doubt, shaped by our experiences. I never imagined, in December when I’d gotten the tickets, that our night would turn out the way it did, full of blessings and small, exciting miracles. Never did I imagine also, the sheer amount of joy I would feel at someone else’s excitement and marvel.

Absolutely a night for the books.

welcome, february //

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Annnnnd now it’s February? Apparently? How does this stuff happen…. Alright let’s do it:

read/reading // **STILL**  [because I’m a poop and the amount of free time I have to read has been tragically small *sob*] The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Image result for 7 habits of highly effective people

writing // APPLICATIONS yeesh. So many. Also notes to myself on receipt paper. Oh, and essays. Fun stuff.

learning // to hold myself accountable for my personal goals… always something I’ve struggled with and I’m trying to get back on track.

doing / working on // 

-a scholarship songwriting opportunity! After much toil and tears, Fish and I submitted the entry 2 days ago and now there is a voting period, followed by opinions from panel judges. So we lie in wait.

-submitting potential study abroad scholarship material! [I JUST WANT TO GO TO IRELAND ALREADY OKAY THX BAI]

-finishing “The End of the F***ing World” on Netflix. My bff showed this to me and BOY what a show. So far, 9.5/10 would recommend.

-working!!! ahhhhh (-:

-building an organization on campus!

-translating things from languages to languages!

-dying/cutting my hair! LOL so it was supposed to be this rich auburn but LULZ it got really dark and a bit reddish and now it’s like mildly orange and just…sigh.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever missed being blonde this much, but then again the stress of the past week has literally pulled all focus away from blunders concerning my head, so….
Many Dawn dish soap-showers and a bout of Sun-In later and it’s plenty light, and getting to be rather manageable.

eating // mac and cheese, Cookout french fries [literally, as I type this], fake samoas, carrots, tacos, PASTA, soup…

drinking // water WATER and COFFEE  I had two grandes today I’m going to explode AHHHH (oh and Berry Banana milkshakes??)

listening // to NEW THINGS. Check it: **WARNING: Copious amounts of Fall Out Boy ahead**

laughing // at bunny videos (man I wish I had a bunny), the fact that the government shut down again, and myself for not seeing I had a flippin WORDbank provided to me on a test. [#oneofthoseweeks]

thinking // about the results of these various scholarships, what my academic future looks like, the looming pressures of Valentine’s Day, the concert I’ll be hitting up this weekend… (-:

trying // to be cognizant of the fact that communication is INDEED a two-way street.

hoping // that I can get my to-do list in order and get a lot of hw out of the way before this weekend that’s bout to be hecka fun.

loving // my hair [now, surprisingly enough], the German language, food, and just the spot I’m in academically right now– I know there’s a lot of waiting involved but patience is DEFINITELY a virtue I need to cultivate and what better way to do so then to just sit back and slowly make progress elsewhere in the meantime?

praying // for patience, understanding, and the motivation to work out at least ONCE this week. Ha. [gonna keep this from last month because LOL I didn’t really work out… does climbing 4 flights of stairs multiple times a day count as working out…?]

Anyways. HAPPY FEBRUARY. Please let me know what y’all are up to.