October’s are for….

1. Leaves changing.

I was in the mountains this time last week. I learned that the most beautiful sights can come from the car. Just kidding! My friends, go find the leaves… go find beauty. Take a hike. Climb the mountain. Go breathe fresh air. Even here in Florida, we might not see many changing leaves but they are there. 

2. Stranger Things.

Let’s be real, I take great pride in the fact that I was the first person ever to watch this show and that everyone else is just following my lead. (this is totally false, but, just so we are clear, I pretty much tell all my students to watch it, sooooclose enough   🤷🏼‍♀️)  

3. Hocus Pocus. 

SIGN ME UP TO BE THE FOURTH SANDERSON SISTER! Like… grading my students papers today, I could definitely be the snarky middle sister who instead of eats children, drinks wine. I got this.  Btw… every year I’m reminded that it’s a tad innappropriate and every year its always when I’m watching it with my parents.😳😬

4. Basic white girl everything. 

Watch out world. I love SCARVES. I love LEGGINGS. And most of all… I LOVE PUMPKIN SPICE. (And just for the record… there is no pumpkin emoji, I went in search. ) 

5. Cardigans! 

Like, let’s just take a moment. I am the cardigan queen. I own about a million in all colors. If I’m not wearying a cardigan, am I really a teacher? 

6.being silly. 

October is for adventures with the very best and creating and maintaining those in your life. Don’t forget that. So be silly. Wear the fun costume. It’s worth it. 

7.Mustard yellow, maroon, teal, black, tan, purple, burnt orange… 

the real mvp of rainbows… the fall rainbow. I mean, those colors define me and I wear them year round so… who’s the real winner here? 
8. Forgiveness. 

Starting over. Laying down hurt and not carrying that added weight of resentment. As summer comes to the close it’s about realizing that forgiveness isn’t for them… it’s for you. 

9. Cider.

This week I brought cider to my students and was in shock how many have never tasted it? It’s the perfect blend of happiness and content all in one jug. 

10. Writing. 

I haven’t wrote since this summer. Something about changing seasons makes things new all over again and it’s high time I start writing. Baby steps. So in the middle of my favorite month, why not? 

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They’ll Be Days Like This My Mama Said….<3

“Baby, WHAT is wrong.. ”

I was bombarded with my Aunt Melissa, Aunt Misty. and my sweet sweet Mama. It was a few weeks out of college and I was standing in my Aunt Misty’s kitchen as we all were filling cups of ice for our family get together. I looked at those three women… All who have seen me go through each awkward, blooming, and wonderful stage of life… All who watched me grow from that poor unfortunate soul who actually brushed the lions mane and got tiger striped highlights to the woman who graduated college, who strode confidently across the stage of SEU right into the slump of Mayo, Florida. When you spend your whole life bracing yourself for the never-ending breathless adventure we call college, coming out to nothing but home feels like a dead end…

So here I was, tears threatening to break and I was barely able to croak out a question that has stuck with me for the past 5 years… “Will I ever be that happy again?” I liked high school but I dreamed for college, and it didn’t disappoint. I fell in love with every beautiful, disastrous, irresponsible, life-altering moment. I embraced every type of experience and all walks of people. I sang out the window of cars, and danced down streets with friends… I was the girl who wasn’t afraid.

till then. And as I said it to the women who loved me the most, I cried. I let it happen. I let the fear leak out like tears and the heartache of feeling like I had peaked roll over me in sobs. And just like that, as I wallowed in my own self pity, my mama laughed.  Now, my heart was already shattered, and my ego was drastically taking a hit since I had just bared my soul and the woman who usually fights ferociously for me, was laughing at me…. Not okay.  “Baby, there will be so much more happier times than this… you don’t even know!”

And now, 5 years later, one huge move to New York, finding parts of myself I never knew I had, moving back, realizing that home isn’t the worst place in the world, I’ve realized she’s right. I’ve realized that college was great but so was finding myself outside of the safe bubble college creates for you… I realized that road trips are great when you can only afford ramen in a gas station kitchen and a peach Arizona iced tea but how much better are they with actual money… with MARGARITAS? That friends are still out there and making them is still just as important.. that the phone calls never change.

It took having such an amazing summer and a few eye openers to realize that I am happy. That adventures and experiences don’t stop when your era is done, but they continue if you choose to continue. That slumps come but it is our choice and a whole lot of grace from the Lord that help us not to be stagnant in the nostalgia of yesteryear.  There is beauty and grace in moving forward and there is also.. happiness. Even when it isn’t what you thought happiness would look like. AKA teaching 7th grade Language Arts to baby thugs with too much Axe body spray.

So, I can’t wait to fill you in on my life last week.. If you’re patient, here’s to hoping for Sunday, to tell you about the adventures of left turns, of my first encounter with Virginia Beach, Elizabeth City, and the ultimate grilled cheeses.  But I leave you with this, dear readers.. What was your era of happiness.. and does it get any better than this?

post college roadie 2

Fireworks Aren’t Just for Katy Perry and Disney World.

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It is July. To be specific, it is July 7th, which means I am smack dab in the middle of what feels like the most adventurous summer of my life. I have pretty much scoured Florida from the Keys- to Jacksonville- to a lake that I can’t help pronounce as Lake Weird. From my Facebook to my Insta it has looked like I have had the life, and if I’m going to be honest, from the outside I pretty much have. Yet, as I sat on a towel overlooking the biggest lake I ever saw, in the dark with some pretty great people (if I do say so myself) watching not one set but at least 8 sets of huge fireworks going off all around me… I felt myself come back alive. I felt the worry of my test, the guilt that comes with passing when others didn’t, the messy complications of friendships, the stress of unknown of next year, and basically, the soul clenching hope that the Lord had it all in his hands. With every loud thunderous celebration of the independence of our country, I felt myself begin to pull back together.

I have sat at my computer so many times to write about The Keys, and each time I have sat at a blank screen. I gave up, went to Kristen Danielle White’s house and came back with nothing. I haven’t even read and for anyone who knows me, that’s a conundrum in and of itself. I have just felt in limbo and playing this waiting game with myself, even with the waiting over. I found out the test scores, I heard back from my school, I did a hard thing and stood up for myself, and I finally let myself start buying things for my classroom, and yet here I was still in that feeling of limbo; that sense of uncertainty. So, when the opportunity came for my favorite holiday somewhere new, I ran with it. Packed my bags, shipped the Bear off to Grandma’s and rolled out.  Peace signs and all.  I stopped at Target-bought 3 books, a million other things, and picked up a girl who could have been from Colorado (Her real name is Denver ;))

Now, fast forward to a day of jet skis, sun, the boat, a million and one people, and the love affair of me and some serious sunscreen. We took pictures, we laughed, we sang, and swam. As the sun began to set we grilled hamburgers and listened to the crowds grow larger and the Cupid Shuffle play on. By the time the sun was just going down so were our blankets, and chairs and we settled in for my favorite thing in the whole wide world. Fireworks. My God, they did not disappoint. The lake is huge and across it there were at least 8 different shows exploding. It was lit up with blues, and reds, and whites. Huge sparklers, and the sound of freedom seemed to ring out from every which way.

I have always said that 4th of July was magical. Every year, something akin to the ways of Disney always happens and as I sat there that night… I felt it begin to seep into my soul. I felt the guilt begin to drain. I felt myself begin to come back in. I felt the urge to read and more importantly, the start of a blog in my head. I felt forgiveness and the excitement for next year growing. And with each firework I felt the sense of peace settle over my soul.  I walked away a different person that night. I walked away with the certainty that life goes on and that friendships come and go in the most unlikely places… I let myself finally enjoy that idea that teaching is what I am really supposed to do. That it is my calling. And so are my summers ;).

So, ending of the story, I spent 2 more days ( I was literally only supposed to spend 1, poor guys couldn’t get rid of me) I read a whole book, and I came home with my blog. Here is to the next half of my summer. Here is to friendships, to road-trips, bachelorette parties, weddings, many more books, and to adventures. Here is to forgiveness, to laughter, to stories, and most importantly, to hope.

 

In honor of my Myspace top 8.

Sam Land

Take the internet back 10 years where the best way to make a playlist was burning CD’s on Limewire, constantly quoting Napoleon Dynamite, choosing sides between Heidi and Lauren, and ultimately making the most important decision: your top 8 on Myspace. Friendships have ended for far less and the best way to make sure you and your bestie were on the same page was where you were located. Today, instead of Myspace quizzes and cool profiles, we have Snapchat filters, Instagram stories, and National Best Friend Day.  So in Lieu of this day, I’m taking it back to Myspace, in no particular order, and Shouting out my besties….

My number 1. The one who gets to hold the record for longest friend, who got chicken pox in 4th grade and couldn’t come to my birthday party and then in 12th grade climbed the fire tower with me.  The one who lets me cry on her floor while she does my hair and who I can have a whole conversation with one look. Thank you for always being my vacation spot… and for always being my professional photographer.

2. Thank you for taking me in during the worst day of my life in college. You gave me a bed, bought me Starbucks, and planned my future. You always had a cup of coffee waiting on me, the best playlist, and a million to-do-lists. You taught me how to dream, Grey. You are the first one I want to share my ideas with, and the only one I want to listen to Gangster rap/Keisha with.

3. They say cousins make the best friends, they aren’t wrong. I look up to you more than you know. You were the first to leave our small town and take on the world. You did it. With grace, and beauty, and strength.  Thank you for always keeping us updated with good gossip, dog tips, and letting me vent. You call me out when you need to and you have always been entirely you. Laughter and all.

4. Sweet girl, you are on your way to my house  before I even ask. Usually with a bottle of wine and great snacks. I am so ready to see you do great things. You have so many of us who 100 percent believe in you. Who will I give my clothes to and call to binge-watch shows? Thanks for loving all the random people I bring to the table.

5. I will always be grateful that I asked you to coffee that day. Thank you for practically letting me live at your house, leave all my shoes, and never turning down Taco Bell. You have made me copies, gotten me countless coffee and creamer, showed up just when I needed you, and you’ve become my Disney partner. Why didn’t we think that idea through? You’re stuck with me.Sorry not Sorry. Here’s to speaking at Cameron’s retirement and forever grabbing Dunkin together.

6. Baby girl. Here’s to being tan this summer. Here’s to making me feel like I’m 5 years younger and always being there for a story. Thank you for immediately becoming my ride or die and always stealing my cord to play the best music.  What will I do when you leave us? I promise no more road trips without you unless we are headed to you 😉

7. We don’t talk everyday. But I always have your back. Thank you for never being mad at me for not always calling back. I love you. I always will. Ever since you broke your knee on my trampoline 100 million years ago 😉

8.  I can’t wait to meet baby Gideon.  We have been through everything together, and I can’t wait to see how amazing you are at your new endevour… being a mom.

9. Because  I can, I love you redhead.  You always show up and never hate me when we go months without talking. Thanks for being the ultimate roomie…

Special shout outs to ladies and gentlemen who would have never been caught dead with Myspace!!!

  • You took a scared, young teacher who didn’t have any friends and introduced her to the best things of Live Oak. You let me cry about the littlest monstrosities and in love taught me that anyone can stand on their head for a short amount of time. You don’t know how many people I have passed those words to
  • I love you mom. Thank you for still buying my dinners and answering the phone call every day. Thank you for always telling me I’m beautiful.
  • you were too young for Myspace and probably way too cool. Love you more than I have ever loved anyone before.

 

So, instead of Facebook posts, I wrote. Because in the past few months I have been so blessed to have women who are there for each other. Each and every day. Happy National Best Friend Day. 

 

 

 

Not All Who Wander Are Lost….Or Some Quote Like That. <3

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Last spring break I spent 80 degree weather at the beach with my best friend- shopping for the cutest bathing suit, giggling hysterically, and enjoying Florida sun. This spring break, I planned a repeat, with a little more naps,a little less sunburn, and maybe a visit to the most magical place on earth. Que Disney, Fireworks, missed buses, Chick Fila , 50 degree weather, 800 blisters from a pair of converses, and the adventures that made going back to work today, 1 million times worth it.  It’s funny how strict we plan our vacation times. How on the surface, we throw caution to the wind, saying we are going with the flow, we are living without a plan.. and yet once that perfect view of flippancy goes array, our world crumbles. Especially for teachers.  Yet sometimes, those moments… that is when the real stories happen.

Wednesday Afternoon:

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4 PM bags packed (for the 3rd time), dishes washed, clothes slightly folded, Grizz at my parents, and clothes changed twice for my first ever adult vacation. I say adult because let’s be real… my idea of Vacation is Kristen White’s house with Chick Fila for breakfast. I also can’t remember the last time I booked a hotel that my mama didn’t accompany me to. #noshame.

6PM throwing bags into Katie Quincey’s car, (Homegirl finally made it) checking twice to make sure my candles are all blown out, running back in a third time because I have to pee, and realizing that I definitely do not have my life together for adulthood because my toothbrush might or might not be in my suitcase. Thus started the make or break of our 6 month friendship. #Disneyworld2017

It takes a special person to go on Vacation with.. Now throw in Freezing weather, my addiction to Target, and my obsession with the perfect outfit to wear to Disney which meant the most uncomfortable converses in the world and you can only imagine how poor Quincey must have felt. So, by the time we actually made it to the hotel, after I begged to stop at Target and then I was hungry… we were both ready to hit the sack. Out flew the idea of stopping by Magic Kingdom to see Fireworks or hitting the heated pool, and in flew the idea of bed by 11.

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Thursday held the promise of Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and ending it with the midnight premiere of Beauty and the Beast. It ended with 11 PM struggles of broken down Monorails, barefoot feet because my converses slowly ate them, and a magical day. We toured Germany, ate more than you can imagine, we flew over the world, and I got up close and personal with a killer whale on the ride Soarin. We missed our bus, couldn’t get tickets, and yet, looking back, it was such an amazing day.  I laughed til my stomach hurt, ate lunch with the most interesting old couple, I rode Thunder mountain twice, and got the best seats for the firework show in front of the castle. I chased a bus down barefoot and enjoyed every moment of it.  We made it home by the skin of our teeth and the grace of an old bus driver who felt sorry for two left behind girls.

spring break 2

By Friday, we had the hang of Fast passes, realized that maybe it would be safer if we drove, and actually slept in a bit. My feet still hurt but it was warmer and there was a promise of some type of tan. We spent the morning at Magic Kingdom where we ran into one of my favorite Alaskain’s in the world. I also came to the conclusion that I will never look cute in any of the pictures on the roller coasters because the Lord did not intend for me to be adorable when being terrified of going down 50 foot plunges. By the end of the night, we saw the most amazing Star Wars fireworks and rode almost every ride you can imagine… (Except Tower of Terror). It was once again, not part of the plan but worth the extra time spent at Hollywood Studios. By the time we climbed into the car to drive home it was way past these young grandmother’s bedtimes and so we did what anyone would do… we played a 90’s and disney playlist and sang all the way home.

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It was nothing like I planned. But looking back today, when my classes were crazy and every single kid was the epitome of procrastination- it was worth it.  The laughter, the lines, the bruises on Quincey’s leg from my death grip, and my frost bite at night. I gained adventures, an appreciation for German Food, and most of all… a good friend. Someone who put up with me through complaining about my feet, my fear of whales and roller coasters, and my slow and steady walk. So my friends, ditch the plans sometimes. Let them crumble and see what comes out in the end. Because the best adventures aren’t planned… they just happen. ❤

spring break 2017

 

 

 

 

Gym Memberships, T Swizzle, and Old Navy Specials.

gym-rats

My name is Samantha Land. I love anything that is covered in chocolate, can be downed with milk, or fits nicely in a wine or shot glass. My version of Cardio is watching Stranger Things on Netflix and still shrieking when they find Barb’s body. Cheese makes anything taste better and I count it all joy, my brethren, when I don’t have to leave my couch on Saturdays. Thus, after much deliberation,some skepticism, and a fear that I might one day become engraved in my couch –

I joined the gym.

Now this isn’t my first rodeo, last year, I did the same thing except my mom was my gym partner and she left after 30 minutes and a brisk walk on the treadmill. After like 3 weeks in, when I broke my stride and was feeling myself pretty hardcore, I pulled a Tswizzle and faceplanted in front of about 2 dozen people. Got up, grabbed my bag, and never looked back- till now. Que The Dog Pound (gym where every kid under the age of 15 goes), Katie Quincey (Baby Teacher and fellow gym partner) and a whole new gym wardrobe ( what up Old Navy) and here we are.

Things I Have Learned So Far:

  1. Half the battle is the 1st day. If you can be brave enough to walk in the first day, you can do it days after that… (Unless you see your students there then it still sucks).
  2. Go with someone fun. My mom is pretty great but not as a gym partner. Go with someone who pushes  you but will also have your back when #tswizzle2017 happens. Never forget.
  3. Laugh. I promise you, humor is everywhere.. especially within those huge weightlifters faces. Who knew someone so cute could look like they ate 2 whole blocks of cheese for breakfast? Or when you realize that sweat has pooled in your crotch and you look like you peed yourself. Happens to the best of us.
  4. That being said: Don’t stare. take quick glances 😉 Just kidding, everyone there is on a journey, including you. Give them courtesy.
  5. Wear cute clothes. What up half off Old Navy Special!!!
  6. Get a real schedule. 2 weeks in and I am still learning that… We still end up wandering the gym sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean 43 percent of the time.
  7. Bring your own Headphones. Sometimes you need Queen Bey to tell you that you run the world in that last minute on that elliptical…
  8. Shoot for impossible but start realistically. Just because your gym partner can do it… doesn’t mean you can. Know your body. I cannot run 5 miles… or 2 … or 1. But I will one day.
  9. The saying “Girls don’t sweat, we sparkle..” I’m calling BS
  10. Celebrate yourself.  Give goals and celebrate them. Right now I’m trying to make it to 10 minutes on this joggy thingy… ( No clue what it is called except it must lead up to the gates of hell).

My goal is to be strong. To conquer the jogging and to one day actually lift something other than the bar. Here’s to the first of my adventures, to actually using all the cute gym clothes that I bought myself, and to realize my full potential… emotionally, spiritually, and physically. One Gym pass at a time and 16 days in. You can do it, my friends, and so can I.

Bring it on 2017. <3

   Sometimes inspiration strikes when we least expect it. I’ve planned to write a blog on the inspirational word choice to describe my 2017 for the past 2 weeks. A week ago, I started looking for the word to describe my year. Last year, it was relentless and ehhh… :/ If we are being honest 2016 was pretty relentless but not in the cool hipster way I imagined:  we said goodbye to Purple Rain, Princess Leia, and  Snape, I got into my first adult wreck, I barely survived my first year of teaching, and I have yet to turn in my sub folder (Supposed to be done in August).And based off the way Facebook has reacted to 2016, I don’t think I am alone. A man legit started a GOFUNDME to save Betty White.

Yet here I am, hours before the New Year with no new word, but an idea. Instead of a word to describe my year or resolutions that I most likely will dump in all of 15 days, I reached out to the women in my life who have shaped some part of me. I asked them 1 thing they wanted to accomplish this year.

  1. Get a puppy.
  2. Journal every day about my favorite part of the day.
  3. Grow in my career.
  4. Get married.
  5. Get another tattoo.
  6. BE strong.
  7. Make a trip to see old friends.
  8. Read 3 Nicholas Sparks Books.
  9. Travel to Paris.
  10. Pray More.
  11. Get Healthy.
  12. Visit home more often.
  13. Get in the best shape of my life.
  14. Give myself more grace.
  15. BE content.
  16. Declutter every drawer and cabinet in my house.
  17. Learn to decorate a Cake.
  18. BE more social.
  19. Take little trips and adventures.
  20. Go to church more.
  21. Give more to a Charity or go on a missions trip.
  22. Find a good local friend.
  23. Pay off all credit card debt.
  24. learn an instrument.
  25. Be supportive and not jealous of other females.
  26. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  27. Accomplish a romantic and stable relationship.
  28. MAKE 24 THE GREATEST YEAR!
  29. Give myself the space, grace,and freedom to Grieve.
  30. Learn healthy coping mechanisms.
  31. Sky Dive.
  32. Shoot a gun well enough to go Deer Hunting.
  33. Live one Grand adventure.
  34. Adopt a child.
  35. Lose 20 lbs.
  36. Go to the smokies.
  37. Buy a cheap ticket to a foreign country.
  38. Take Surfing lessons.
  39. Roller skate.
  40. Travel to India.
  41. Go skiing.
  42. Use my artistic talents more.
  43. Have a baby.
  44. Publish another book.
  45. Travel to Santorini and jump off a cliff into the water.
  46.  Get out of my comfort Zone.
  47. Take an educational bus tour through the U.S.
  48. I want to be Healthier and Less stressed.
  49. Do something good in the world of 2017.
  50. Read my bible and pray more consistently daily.
  51. No Operations.
  52. Make it through Nursing School .
  53. Perform at least one act of kindness daily.
  54. I want to not base my self worth on what a guy thinks of me and learn to live peacefully single until the right one comes along.
  55. my card not to be declined for a purchase under 10 dollars.
  56. Lose 50 lbs.
  57. To be Happy and Healthy.
  58. Become more established in my faith and faith journaling.
  59. Leave an impact on others.
  60. BE financially stable.
  61. Live my life on a mission.
  62. Be better at showing my Jesus.
  63. Closer walk with God.
  64. Enjoy the little moments with my children before they grow up and are gone.
  65. Make new memories.
  66. Spend less time being Martha and more time being Mary.
  67. See the Northern Lights.
  68. Create a habit that is real.
  69. Help Hannah get her licence.
  70. Go on an adventure.

From the wonderful texts, Snapchats, Facebook comments, etc.. they shared their hearts with me. Big or small, older or young,  it didn’t matter and in the end there was a correlation. We all want Adventure, to be healthy, and to make a difference in the world. We all have aspirations for the coming year and dreams whether we are 15 or 67.Most of all, we have hope.  So, with everyone else’s intimate and brave comments here are my 4 things to add.

  1. BE organized. We all know I am the least organized person on the planet…
  2. Write.  I want to write more, create more, and do more things that make me happy.
  3. Go on adventures. Maybe some of these…
  4. Create community. Whether it is at the gym, or going to India, I want to create and sustain meaningful relationships.

Because when it comes down to it, it’s not some magic day that restarts our life.  But it is a moment to stop and recollect. We might not be Cinderella but we do have the choice to to change things as the clock strikes 12. So, my friends, realize you are not alone, we are in this together whether you have a cool word to describe your year or not. 😉

blog-post

Happy Birthday to me.

Every now and then a wild hair strikes and I feel the spontaneous need to write. Sometimes it comes when an immense amount of wine has been consumed and nostalgia hits: Que my 27th birthday and a Gilmore Girls revival. Nostalgia being all the wonderful people who have made it wonderful and Gilmore Girls to remind me that even as you get older and life hands you crazy lemons, Rory and Lorelai Gilmore are also making their own versions of lemonade. So, as I drink my second glass of wine and wait for the second episode of the revival to start, I’ll impart the 27 pieces of musings, advice, and random moments that have filled up my life thus far:

  1.  Do the move.  Whether it is the next town over, another state, or even out of the country- if it calls to you, don’t wait. The best time to find yourself is in the impredictability of somewhere new.
  2. Don’t forget where you came from. In the same sense, don’t forget where you came from and who poured their life into you. Take it from a girl with a southern accent in New York City. Manners and hospitality are ingrained like Monagrams on a southern t-shirt.
  3. Find the wine you like and drink it. Life is too short for Wine you don’t like. Even if it is sparkling grape juice, drinks just taste better out of a wine glass.. or jug.
  4. Read. It does you good, my friends.
  5. Sunscreen is your friend. Kristen Danielle and I did our time in the tanning bed. I fry myself every year around March. This piece of advice I haven’t used as well as  I would have liked but here’s to 27 more years to get to. 😉
  6. Learn to bake one thing. Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. It’s my specialty.
  7. Embrace the gray. Thank you Lori Land for your gray haired gene and for showing me what it’s like to be confident even as a 21 year old with streaks. Also, props to Rogue off Xmen.
  8. Have one outfit you feel like a million bucks. It will be your date outfit, your revenge outfit, your interview outfit, your girls night outfit. It’s your confidence booster and sometimes you just need that extra uummmpphh.
  9. Dogs are work. They are super cute and cuddly but Lord. 3 in the morning puking is not my forte..neither is 6 AM Saturday morning pee runs. Which sometimes turns into a hide and seek game where only one person is having fun and that’s the dog. Nothing is better than a dog. On that other hand, nothing makes me happier than coming home on a long day and cuddling with that huge Bear.
  10. Find Community. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed. Who root for you and have your back. Find your cheerleaders, your advocates…
  11. Be someone’s cheerleader. Root for people. Be the Giver.
  12. 90’s music will never go out of style.  What up Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Brittney. I have no shame.
  13. Be able to rap at least one song. Macklemore Downtown. Fancy Iggy Azalia. At least one you can jam in the car.
  14. Call your grandmother. She loves you and always will. If not her, than someone who loves you. Don’t let them slip away. Regret’s a bitter taste, my friends.
  15. Learn to pray. If it helps, write it down.
  16. Let them go. It hurts, and it may be a friend or maybe something more, but holding on is only getting the cut infected. Let it heal. It’s time.
  17. Always carry the back up charger!!! Your phone will die and it will suck. Stick one in your purse, it’s worth it.
  18. Sometimes just take the memory. There are times where the moment is too perfect for your phone. Let it engulf you, overwhelm you and inspire you all at the same time. take a mental picture but don’t reach for the phone. That also means put Snapchat, Facebook, and Messages on silent.
  19. Buy a good lipstick. Sephora Lipstain Mauve. 14 bucks. You’re welcome.
  20. Stand up for yourself. Don’t let other people walk on you… it doesn’t help anyone and hurts more people than you think.
  21. Stand up for other people. In turn, stand up. Don’t turn a blind eye.
  22. Keep up with the Lingo. Netflix and Chill is not what it sounds like. Saying that your kids when referencing your dog and season 2 of How To Get Away With Murder is not appropriate.
  23. Learn to say No. Still learning this. NO shame.
  24. Still go on adventures. They keep you young. Forever. Whether it’s a roadtrip with your mom, spontaneous moments with your friends, or just a walk with your dog.
  25. Friends are harder to come by as you get older so cherish the ones still here. Sometimes friends are seasons and that is okay. Life takes over, and sometimes the ties you have slip away. Realize that is okay. But the ones still here, don’t take for granted.
  26. Do fun things with your mom. Go to North Carolina, Learn to make her special recipe, and watch cheesy Christmas movies.
  27. Love yourself. Sweet friend, you can be your biggest supporter or worst critic. Don’t be the latter. Find your strengths and excel and celebrate them. Go easy on your flaws. No one else sees them… unless it’s gray hair and your 7th graders might point it out every day. :/

So, bring on the 27th year… Closer to Jennifer Gardner’s 30, Flirty, and Thriving. Bring on the lessons, the stories, the hopes of writing more, and most of all the adventures. It’s my golden year. Day 1.

Why Being Me Is Not A Dirty Word.

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Kick it back to #SpringBreak2016 Where my life was a series of being surrounded by the people that I absolutely love in my life. It was spontaneous- filled with outrageous stories, laughter, beaches, and the hunt for the ultimate bathing suit. My other half chauffeured me around Jacksonville on her day off as we cruised through our usual haunts- Target, Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, and dare I say Lane Bryant. As we visited each of the first 3 stores, I was getting much more frustrated as I came out with really cool sandals from target, cute cheap shorts from Old Navy, and no bathing suit (This was a problem because our next stop was literally the beach).So after passing Lane Bryant where my mom used to have to drag me into when I was younger (Stigmas stick with you, my friends) Kris and I gingerly stepped into the plus size only store. 15 minutes later we were both trying things on, coming out and modeling for the wonderful sales ladies as we pranced around. We Oohed and Ahhed and just like that, my bikini was bought and we were out the door.

Two hours later, that excitement of my bathing suit and how cute I looked seemed to fade as I walked on the beach noticing the drastic difference of women my size and age in their swim suits. Modest cover ups, or no bathing suits at all. This isn’t my first bikini, and it certainly won’t be my last but as the summer kicks in, this year I feel more and more pressured to have to explain or apologize why I feel the need to wear a hot pink bikini top with black high waisted bottoms. Why that 6 inches of skin is shown above my waist line along with my whole thighs. Maybe it’s because I finally feel like I am a little bit more of an adult (Not really) but I have come to the conclusion that I Am Not A Bad Word. Having wide hips, or a big stomach, huge thighs, big boobs, small boobs, a Queen Bae Butt, etc.. does not mean they are curse words.

So many times we are gracefully asked to cover up the not so beautiful parts. So many of my friends who are considered PLUS SIZE or CURVY are reminded of this. I asked a few of my friends who have identified with that title and that was a ringing statement. Even just the name PLUS SIZE is tinged with negative undertones… “Well I want people to know that I don’t feel a need to characterize my body in any way that makes other people more comfortable with it..”(Angelica)

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I’ve found myself reminded of the beauty of ME so many times since then and as I look at the wonderful women that are in my life I realize they are not curse words either.They are strong, independent, absolutely gorgeous WOMEN who are taking on the world. Whether they are a size 4 to a size 22, or in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s etc.. they are WOMEN. They have taught me to be graceful, to be strong, and to love life whether it’s in a 2 piece bathing suit or a really cute dress. We judge ourselves too harshly, Woman is not a curse word and neither is my body, my humor, my sarcasm, my heart, nor (heaven forbid) my hair. SO this summer, I will rock my 2 piece bathing suit, my huge hair, my crooked glasses, my stomach, my jiggly thighs and my not so strong chin. I will not let it stand in the way of my life because, Lord knows, you only get one.

Whiskey Tango Weekend

 

The names have been changed to protect the identities…

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This weekend I loaded up with my ____ year old sister, her best friend of over 100 years and also my 8th grade English teacher(Ageless Annie), and Bushwacker Betty’s coworker Brain Gem Bonnie for two nights of beach, shopping, unlimited amounts of wine, and insanity. We did yoga on the beach provided with our very own yoga teacher (Bonnie), We were visited by the town Bachelor Patrick Star, and we were introduced to a game that I can’t even begin to describe. We laughed so hard till our stomachs hurt-dancing around and providing unlimited entertainment for the people around us, and other times we sat and had broken conversations about the realness of life over cupcake wine and a sunset. In all of it I was constantly reminded of how much I owe to my big sister.

She was the first person to teach me how to do this insane mane I have, replacing my brush with a bottle of hairspray and gel. She taught me the beauty of “The Bachelor” and how it doesn’t matter what size you are- always root for the underdogs. She has loved me through my awkward teenage years, and even worse, my soapbox twenties when I lived in her super clean house (I am pretty sure she needed Xanax to have me around).  She is the epitome of superwoman and my family’s biggest advocate. My sister bought me my first Wine Cooler and took me to my first rated R movie. She also listened when my heart was first broken and taught me that Jesus isn’t always packed neatly in a box. Though she may be little, she’s fierce and as fierce as she is, she loves just as hard. And as 3 completely different women came together to celebrate my sisters birthday, I was reminded of that.

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From eating at my first ever WHATABURGER (what have I been missing!!) To beignets at the crack of dawn, we ate our way through the panhandle and drank our way home. We shopped like our income tax returns already came in and we definitely slept like the old ladies we were. Her family graciously hosted a couple of non athletes to a bunch of outdoor games that definitely showed off our lack of talents and politely smiled as we lost 0-10. ( I blame the bushwhacker.) We sat on the “Bikini Bottom” back porch and talk about the travesties of work and the paths that brought us there.It was absolutely beautiful. All of it. And as we made our way slowly home I felt filled up. Whole.At the end of our journey hugged it out dropping each one of us home and shedding off our weekend identities and preparing to go back and be the WonderWomen we are: Ageless Annie, Bushwhacker Betty, Brain Gem Bonnie, and Selena Tinder. What a wonderful Whiskey Tango Weekend.

Love,

Selena Tinder.

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