Perfectly Imperfect 365 Days of the Year

An open letter to anyone who has ever felt like they were “not enough”:

My friend Courtney recently left for Swaziland to serve in the Peace Corps for 28 months.  It was a place I couldn’t locate on a map before April, but now I think of it often.  In the weeks before she left, we spoke about what would be different about this country from ours.  While we both believe that at the core people are people with similar desires and motives, an ability to be good and do good, we knew there would be cultural differences.  It was during one of these conversations that she asked if I’d ever heard of Perfect365.  I hadn’t, but I became immediately disgusted.

For those of you who don’t know, Perfect365 is an app that allows its user to enhance selfies to be, well, “perfect.”  You can slim your face, raise your cheek bones, and widen your eyes.  You can apply makeup – from foundation to eyeliner to mascara.  You can change your eye color.  You can create a new photo with startlingly white teeth and inappropriately smooth features that in no way resembles a human.

[Side note: I have done pageants, and I have professionally edited photographs of myself.  However, I love the face that looks back at me at 7am with bed head.  It’s ok to have professional photos and to look great in them.  It’s not ok to feel like every single photo you have ever posted needs to look like it was taken in a studio.]

This is what society has done to American adolescents, and even adults.  We have created such a desire for unachievable “beauty” that we need apps to photoshop our filtered Instagram selfies.  If that doesn’t make your heart ache for the 13 year old who sees her face in the mirror and can’t see her natural skin as beautiful, you might be part of the problem.

Just to put that in perspective, we are taking selfies with our smartphones, editing them into a stranger, and posting them on social media to be validated by our acquaintances double-tapping on the screen.  We are doing this while other people in our communities, our nations, our world are going hungry or cold or sick tonight without respite in their sights.

I am begging you to love yourself.  You should not rely on the likes you receive or the followers you have for validation.  You should not rely on makeup or photoshop to create a face you like.  You should not rely on the label of your clothes, the numbers on the scale, or even the grade on an exam to create a definition of you.  These things are superficial and fleeting, here today but maybe gone tomorrow.  They are part of the material world we live in, not part of what defines you.

God created you in His image, and He loves you for precisely who you are.  Physical faults you find looking at a mirror are irrelevant when you leave this world.  Your inner beauty is what God’s eyes see, and no mistake you have made is surprising or unforgivable to Him.  You are beautiful for the person that you are, so be a person you are proud of.

If nobody has every told you, let me be the first: you are beautiful.  There is nothing you need to do or say to be beautiful if you can find love for yourself that is not based on something material.  Do not let your hair, your weight, or your house be what makes you feel good.  Hair can fall out, pounds can add on, and that house can burn down.  If you define yourself in things of this world, your definition of self is fragile and so easily lost by a breeze of bad fate.

I have a sticky note that a (different) friend named Courtney placed on my bathroom mirror a year ago, and I read it every day to make sure I haven’t forgotten.

Sometimes people are beautiful not in looks, not in what they say, just in what they are.

If you are truly blessed, you will find someone on this earth who can celebrate you for exactly who you are, but more often than not, other people are going to tear you down.  They are going to find reasons you are not enough.  Some days you might even find reasons you are not enough.  For God, you will always be enough.

If Christianity is not your faith, this message should still resonate with you.  Build the foundations of your self-image and worth on solid ground.  For me, my faith is that rock, and it is what I turn to when I start to forget my worth.  For you, it can be something different, and that’s okay, too.  Just make sure it isn’t something you will lose when the tides in your life wax and wane.  I don’t think anybody gets to go through life without at least one high tide, and it’s hard to keep your head above water if you can’t love yourself.

We live in a world where, from a young age, we are competing to have followers.  We are counting the “likes” on our photos.  Thanks to Facebook, we can now count the “loves” “hahas” “wows” “sads” and “angrys” – as if we didn’t have enough to think about.  People clicking a button (approximately 0.05 seconds of their time) has become such an important source of validation that our own faces are no longer “enough” for our social media accounts.

It started with Photoshop.  I was probably in about 4th grade when I begged my parents for this software.  To what end did I need it?  Well, my friends had it, and they were able to crop themselves into photos with Hilary Duff.  This was important to me.  What I (and the many parents who relented to adding this software to the home computer) did not realize was that my friends were in training to slim their waist line, enhance their breast size, and spray tan themselves later in life.

Photoshop isn’t user-friendly, though.  At least, I have never been able to master it.  Know what’s super easy?  Perfect365 and other apps like it.  It identifies the face in any image uploaded to it and gives simple options for the user to pick from.  Having issues with your mouth?  There’s a mouth button.  Want to widen your smile?  Slide the bar to the right.  Want to whiten your teeth?  Slide that bar.

On the left, my face; on the right, Perfect365. Of course, you can use the app in less obvious ways, but for full effect, I used every enhancement option there was.

This is the reality of life in 2016, and it is nothing like the smiling faces of the Jetson family.  Society is pressuring us in so many ways and through so many outlets.  If you are struggling to feel good about yourself, there are a million places you can point fingers.  Peers, TV, magazine, Facebook, Instagram… Every advertisement wants you to buy a product so you can be more like the perfect actor in their ad.

Stop blaming others when you feel bad about yourself and look inward.  You are the only person responsible for making sure you know that you are enough just the way you are.  We can try to create more positivity for and about each other, but at the end of the day, you are in charge of how you feel.  If you can love yourself, you can take on anything this world can throw.  Just remember, the best is yet to come.

#APerfectFit

I challenged some friends to skip their makeup for a selfie and see their real skin’s beauty. Your turn!

Be Bold

Holding the title of Miss Greater Easley last year was great, but explaining to countless people that I will not be returning to compete in the MAO has been a headache.  I hold nothing against the girls who are gearing up for competition this summer.  In fact, I think back fondly to the spray tans, fake nails, and fake lashes, and I remember being happy underneath all the makeup.  The thing is, I am so incredibly much more than a title, and I have so incredibly much more to offer to the world than being a queen.

While competing for Miss South Carolina, I ceased to be Tracy.  The entire week of the state pageant, I was called by my title and never by my name.  There are many girls, and using titles is simply easier.  I get that.  What I did not understand is the number of people who knew I was Miss Greater Easley and desired no other information.  The number of people who felt they knew me simply because they knew my title.  The title did not define me.

Long before I held a title, I was a volunteer at GHS Children’s Hospital.  I loved volunteering with my local CMN hospital.  I did not love it because it was MAO’s platform; I love it because those kids show what can be accomplished with a little strength of character.  I love it because that hospital is an opportunity for more kids to have birthdays.  I love it because every child deserves a childhood.  It wasn’t about the pictures I could take at events; it was about the relationships I could build.

Long before I held a title, I was a personal trainer advocating for my platform, A Perfect Fit; I just wasn’t calling it that.  Mental, physical, and spiritual wellness has always been a passion for me.  It was never something I did to promote myself.  My intention was always to help others.  Being a contestant ruined that for me.  It started to become about how many appearances I’d made instead of about what good I’d done.

Now, I hold the title of Miss Clemson University, and I am not taking it to compete for a higher title.  I am completely satisfied with having this title to potentially make a difference in the place that has given me so much.

To the girls competing this summer, I wish you nothing but the best.  Please remember who you are, though.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you need a nose job to be beautiful enough to win.  Don’t let them encourage unhealthy weight loss when your body is your own.  Don’t let them tell you that you should sell more advertisements to be considered for the title.  Make a difference by spending time in your community, not just by fundraising for it.  (A little birdie told me that $0.40 of every dollar raised for CMN through MAO goes right back into the pageant system.  It could be a rumor, but for a rumor to start, I find there’s usually a little truth.). Do not lose yourself to their system; let this be part of the journey that helps you find yourself, not the part of your journey that defines you.

As for me, I’m content to serve in a different way.  Not winning the title of Miss South Carolina will always be one of the biggest blessings in my life, but I’m grateful for the experience.  I became more confident in the woman I am having faced a million voices trying to change me.  I’m forever thanking God for taking my life in a new direction and instilling new dreams to chase in my heart.

Be bold, be confident, and be at peace because you are beautiful and you are loved.

Questions I have about becoming an adult…

As graduation fast approaches, it has left me in deep contemplation about some of the things I consider to be truths in college that just might not work in the real world.

  1.  Are Febreezed clothes still clean clothes?
    One of the Clemson orientation ambassadors told that to every incoming Clemson freshmen, and I have found it to be a universal law amongst my collegiate peers.
  2. Is “Netflix and chill” still an acceptable use of my evening?
    College students know that the only alternative to a night of frantic studying or irresponsible partying is a night of Netflix binging.
  3. Do you still pre-game parties?
    Everything is college is cause for a pre-game, but my mother did not even understand the term.  To “pre-game” is to have a pre-party to get pre-drunk for the real party.  In fact, you can pre-game the pre-game if you want to get really crazy.  Somehow, I cannot imagine pre-gaming an office party, and yet, to tolerate co-workers, I might bring this tradition with me.
  4. Speaking of alcohol, when exactly is it appropriate to have a drink?
    No matter the day of the week or even the time of the day, there is always someone drinking in a college town.  In fact, it isn’t even frowned upon to have a beer alone in the bar at 1pm in a college town.  Where do the lines of decency lie in the real world?
  5. Can I still wear XL t-shirts over my athletic bottoms?
    Obviously, I will have to stop this trend during the day when I’m at work, but I am hoping it is still acceptable attire to the grocery store.
  6. Will other adults judge me if I blow my budget and am subsisting off of rice and easy mac?
    Sometimes, you just really need the latest function t-shirt.  Or a bottle of wine.  Or tickets to the concert.  Is it okay to pick one of these things over buying groceries for the rest of the month anymore?
  7. Can I continue to sleep on my friend’s couch or will I have to start buying hotel rooms when I visit?
    In college, it is perfectly acceptable to go to visit a friend at another university and bring along your 8 best friends to sleep on all of the available space in the apartment.  In the real world, adults seem to buy hotels when they visit other adults.  This seems like an expense I want to avoid.
  8. When am I too old for my parents’ insurance?
    Really, I don’t even know how to begin figuring insurance out.
  9. Also, when am I too old to be on my parents’ cell phone plan?
    Although I have been insisting I need unlimited texting, calling, and data plans, I will have to learn to make do with the bare minimum when this bill falls into my lap.
  10. Can I continue to sorority “craft” my wall art?
    All of my friends have walls decked in homemade canvases, but these do not seem to be found on adult walls.  Their replacements look expensive.

As concerning as I find all of these questions, I have just accepted a cooperative education opportunity, which means I’ve successfully given myself another semester (and football season) here in God’s country!  Here’s to continually trying to find ways to avoid graduation.  May we stay forever young!

Love Thy Neighbor

Growing up, I often felt out of place in church.  I was raised in the heart of the Bible belt.  I lived in a small southern town in Georgia where there was a church on every street corner, with every denomination represented at least once – but most of them in multiples.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like the worship service itself; I have always found comfort in the Bible and a good sermon.  My issue was with the congregation.

Sitting on my pew, I saw self-righteous man after self-righteous man with head held high.  It was the kind of church where nobody admitted to sin, nobody admitted they led a less than Christian life, but everybody was ready was to point out any lapse in someone else’s lifestyle.  I took fault with that; it didn’t seem the Christian thing to do.  Kids in my youth group would belittle me because my family had missed a service and theirs had perfect attendance, but those same kids were the ones doing drugs behind the school.  Church down south was a place to act like you had your life completely together, even if yours was falling apart and you really needed people to pray for you.

When my parents gave me a choice, I stopped attending, and although I’m sure people talked badly behind my back, I did not care because I was kind to people in real life not just fake kind at the service.  In college, I gave some thought to attending a church, but I never had anyone to go with.  I’m sure that wouldn’t stop a kid who grew up going, but I was still in a place where I didn’t feel at home in front of a pastor.  Finally, Easter of my sophomore year, I attended Newspring church with a group of friends.  I fell in love with church again.

Newspring might get a bad rap for being a megachurch, but I’ve never felt like I’m just another person there.  Everyone is welcomed with open arms despite their appearance, background, race, etc.  It’s a place where sinners sit with sinners and love each other despite any differences.  When someone has a problem, be it marital issues or drug addiction, they are given council and love from their fellow man, not disdain.

He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.
John 8:7

Our church recognizes we are all sinners, and our congregation cares for each other despite that.  To me, that’s how a church should be.

I shared all of this with you to say that I feel at home in my church.  I feel safe, accepted, and loved in my church.  The shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has robbed the world of this sense of safety.  My heart is so full for that congregation, and I cannot imagine the pain and disbelief those who were there are experiencing.  They did what good Christians should.  They opened their doors to others for worship, and they did not cast anyone out because of his race or his strangeness.  They shared their safe and loving place with anyone who chose to walk through their doors, and this man took advantage of their kindness.  He robbed them, and the rest of our nation, of the sense of security we feel going to worship.

From cursory glance, this crime seems racially loaded, and it very well might be.  My prayer for this nation is that we will not continue to let the hate of some create hatred for many.  I pray America’s Christian community can come together in light of this event.  Instead of letting it push races further apart like police violence has, imagine if we could let this bring us together.  This crime might have been against a traditionally “black church” like the press keeps pointing out, but I view it as an attack against the Christian community at large.

Do not let this crime do what its agitator intended.  Do not let this crime become a battle of races where black churches hate white churches.  Let this crime unite every church against those who would tear us down.  Let it inspire us to love more deeply our neighbors, to cherish our time on this earth together, and to openly pray for each other.  We are one nation under God, and I think it’s time people start remembering that.

#PrayforCharleston

Behind the Makeup

What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.
Scott Westerfeld

I have a confession to make: I don’t wear makeup every day.  In fact, I don’t wear makeup most days.  I wasn’t always like that, though.  When I was in high school up until my sophomore year of college, I didn’t think I could leave my bedroom without putting on a full face.  That included foundation, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara.

I don’t know what made me think it was necessary.  Perhaps it was because I received more positive attention when I looked my “best” or maybe it was just because this behavior was modeled to me by my mother.  Either way, I felt like I had to have on makeup to be the best version of myself, and I certainly needed to have it on if I wanted to feel confident.  Lawrence changed all of that.

My sophomore year in college, I met Lawrence, and he changed my life with a brilliantly simple statement.  He said what every boyfriend should say.  It was a particularly crazy day in college, and I didn’t put on makeup that morning.  After a long day on campus, I went by his apartment to relax and watch a movie with him and his roommates.  I’m sure the first thing I said when I walked in was, “I’m so sorry I look like this.  It’s been a crazy day, and I didn’t have time to put my makeup on this morning.”  That’s paraphrased, but what I said doesn’t really matter.  It’s what he said when he looked up at me that counts.

“You look beautiful.  I don’t know why you bother to wear makeup anyways.  You don’t need it.”  The way he said it was so casual, so matter of fact.  It was like this huge truth that the world had never told me, and here he was unveiling it in passing.  He had no idea he had just completely changed my life.  He still doesn’t know that he changed my life, and he probably never will unless he decides to read this post.  To him, it was just the truth, and that’s what made it so impactful.

After that, I quit wearing makeup every day.  I had to ease myself into it because for awhile my face just looked so naked.  I forced myself to stick with it, and day by day it got easier.  I began to love the face I saw in the mirror and realize it was beautiful in its own right, and that gave me a feeling of confidence and empowerment.

Lawrence continues to unwittingly reinforce my new behavior.  I know he doesn’t do it on purpose, but almost every time he says I am “beautiful” it’s on a day when I didn’t put on my whole face.  He seems to reserve that word for days I rolled out of bed and came over instead of days I dressed all the way up.  Sure, he’s said it a once or twice when I’ve been all done up, but he usually says “you look great” or “hot” or “nice”.  That’s why I haven’t shared all of this with him.  It would break the magic of him not knowing how much it means and just saying it because he thinks it.

Don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes it’s a lot of fun to put on makeup and a cute outfit and feel super pretty.  Makeup is just an object, and (like food) it is neither innately evil nor good.  I just want to clarify to the world that I don’t always look like my pageant headshots.  In fact, I pretty much never look that way unless I’m about to go on stage.  I want to encourage every woman to try giving up makeup for a couple of weeks.  It’s not easy when it’s something you’re used to, but it’s worth it if you can learn to love your face and feel beautiful without alteration.

The media is always going to tell women how they should look, and it’s always going to create unrealistic expectations.  Audrey had it right when she said that “happy girls are the prettiest”, so learn to be happy with who you are!  Learn to love the way you look because of your imperfections.  It would be such a boring world if everyone had perfect symmetry, tiny waists, and high cheek bones.

So there you have it.  Now you know more about me than my pageant glory, and I have shared one of my most personal stories with the worldwide web.  If it can help just one person realize makeup isn’t what’s making them beautiful, then it was totally worth it.

PS. Y’all pray for me because starting on Saturday I’m going to have to put on my whole face every day for a week, and I’m just not sure how I feel about that.

Memorial Day 2015

We live in the land of the free because of the brave.

Is there a greater country to inspire patriotism?  America rose from oppression with the guidance of her Founding Fathers, and she embarked on a mission of democracy.  The American dream was born.  No matter where you come from, with hard work you can achieve.

Although sometimes I question how far we have come from original intent, I will always believe in America.  With the right leadership in the next election, we can get back on the original path where opportunities are equal but reward is based on effort.  We can return to a smaller federal government with more right to govern given to each state, more individual rights returned to each person.  We can respect and utilize our military once more.

Even without the recognition they deserve, over the past few years men and women have continued to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country.  Countless lives have been laid down so I can sit and have a cup of coffee while writing this blog post.  I thank each and every person who gave without question to preserve the America they believed in, and I thank the families of these individuals.  Without your loved ones’ sacrifices, we would not have our freedom.

I will pray for an America whose leader thanks the men and women in service.  In the meantime, I am grateful they continue to do such an under-appreciated job, and I’m grateful they do it so well.  God bless America, and God bless our troops.

Time Flies (Even when you aren’t having fun…)

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
-Winnie the Pooh

I know it’s a cliche, but it really does seem like just yesterday my parents were helping me move into my freshmen dorm at Clemson.  Everyone told me to enjoy my days in college, but at the time, 4 years seemed so long.  Here we are at senior year.  With graduate school applications staring me down, the thing I’ve feared since the day I got here is starting to seem like a reality: I will actually have to leave Clemson.

I’ve considered every possible alternative.  I could change my career plans and obtain a Masters degree in something Clemson offers, thus securing my stay for 3 or more years.  I could apply for student loans and take 12 hours of leisure skills for 2 semesters, thus securing one more precious year.  I could take a year off before grad school and work in Clemson.  Or a few years off.  It’s true that there is something in these hills, and I will absolutely hate leaving.

Unfortunately, I’m set on occupational therapy, which means I have to leave my beloved Tiger Town behind.  That being said, I am determined to make the most of the one year I have left.  I don’t know how it can outshine the others, but somehow it just will.  I refuse to let life get in the way of me making memories.

The most important thing I’ve learned in college is that life is incredibly unpredictable.  It can change in an instant; it can even end in an instant.  That’s why every instant is so important, each second more precious than the one before.  That’s why you have to make sure you prioritize and put the important things first.

There’s so much pressure to perform well in college.  Your GPA is important; your job is important; your participation in clubs is important.  College students are constantly bombarded with, “This will look good on your resume,” and we start to forget that life is more than what you can list on a piece of paper and hand over at an interview.  Don’t get me wrong, you are here to learn.  Having a good GPA and resume will open doors.  Just don’t let it be at the expense of your happiness.

I recently re-prioritized in my life.  I try to put God first.  Second, I think about the people I care about.  Third, I put school and my job.  The list goes on, but just realize that what you prioritize will completely change how you live each day of your life.

Another piece of advice is to be present.  I think a curse of social media and the age of technology is how scattered it can make our thoughts.  I might be talking to a friend at lunch, but her mind might be more on the text conversation she’s having with someone else.  She might be more engaged in Facebook posts or CandyCrush or any other number of electronic distractions.  Sometimes, you just need to put your phone on “do not disturb” and really be with the people next to you.  It all goes back to how important each moment is.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was in high school from a friend’s mom.  Her daughter and I were baking cookies in the kitchen, upset about some drama or another, and as she walked by all she said was, “Every day is a good day; some days are just better than others.”  It’s stuck with me, and whenever something upsets me, that’s what I tell myself.  That’s why my last piece of advice is to persist.

Life is full of ups and downs, and, as this title reads, time will fly even when you aren’t having fun.  Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on the people you care about.  Appreciate the little things as much as the big ones.  Make choices that keep your heart full, actively participate in life instead of watching it through a screen, and never give up on the things you believe in.

Here’s to growing up and trying to love every minute of it!

Big/Little Reveal
A special shout-out to my big sister, Ashley.  I’m so proud of you for graduating, and I don’t know what these past few years would have been like without you.  Thanks for believing in me!

Light It Up Blue #LIUB

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.
Ignacio Estrada

 

In case you didn’t know, April 2nd is World Autism Awareness day, and April is Autism Awareness month.  Landmarks across the globe will be lighting it up blue today.  From Niagra Falls to Sagrada Familia to the Great Pyramid in Egypt, blue is in!  Even the sanitation department in NYC is in on the action; their trucks will be promoting awareness all month long.

Think about a time in your life when you felt like you didn’t fit in.  Don’t lie to yourself.  Dig deep and think about the darkest moment – the one where everybody laughed at you, nobody understood you, and it felt a whole lot like you were alone.  Think about a time when you looked somebody up and down, thought they were different, and either looked the other way or whispered to a friend.  Recognize that society isn’t kind to people who don’t fit the mold of what we think is right.

People on the Autism spectrum process things differently.  At the level of perception and interpretation, they are in fact different.  They are different but they are not less.  We try to force these children to fit the model of what we think children should be like, but that simply isn’t who they are.  Just imagine what could happen if instead of trying to force these children to change we got down on one knee and listened.  Image what we could learn from their view of the world.

We encourage children to use their imagination.  We want innovation.  As Temple Grandin said, “Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.”  Thinking in a new way can open doors to new technology, new ways of thinking.  If we don’t listen to these kids, they never have a voice, and without a voice, how can they be expected to reach their full potential?

Throughout April, I encourage each and every one of you to ask questions and really learn about a disorder that’s running rampant.  If we can educate others about Autism, they can develop a compassion for individuals on the spectrum.  Through understanding as much as we can about this disorder, we can provide the best treatment, and with a little bit of help, these individuals are capable of accomplishing great things.  It all starts with one person having the patience to teach them about social skills, to believe in them, and to love them.

Autistic individuals aren’t “normal” according to society, but I don’t think it’s up to us to decide what is.  In God’s eyes, we are all worthy of unconditional love.  Who really wants to fit into conventional society anyways?  If you always do exactly what is expected, your life has to be pretty boring.  I challenge you to be yourself, to accept others for who they are, and to love instead of judge.  It’s really not that hard to hear autism if you just shut up and listen.  You probably have more in common than you think.  We’ve all felt different, like we didn’t belong.  Don’t be the cause of that feeling for someone else.  #LIUB

French Fries and Pizza

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.

When I told people I was going skiing for the first time, I heard a constant refrain of “French fries and pizza – that’s all you need to know!”  I’m not sure what mountain those people went skiing on, but there was definitely more to it than that.  Maybe it was just me, but stopping at the bottom of a mountain took a lot more than making a triangle.

Okay, I’ll admit it: I wasn’t the best at skiing.  For the first couple of hours, I probably made the most forward progress by rolling down the mountain, with my skis and poles left somewhere toward the top where the fall began.  It wasn’t graceful, but I learned some valuable lessons.

First, I learned I have some amazing friends.  As many times as I fell, there was never a moment when I was left to scramble around alone.  Even though he could have been gliding down black diamonds, Lawrence spent a good bit of his day picking up my skis, bringing them down, and helping me back up.  There were words of advice and encouragement, and by the end of the day, I was made better through my friends’ help.

Second, I learned just because something doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.  I’m competitive by nature, so being bad at something tends to really frustrate me.  Skiing taught me a lot about myself.  I realized I could enjoy any activity just by putting forth my best effort and improving.  I loved every minute of being on that mountain, even the ones spent cartwheeling through snow and ice.  I loved learning something new and working at staying upright.  I’ll definitely be going back, and with a little bit of time, I might get pretty good.

Stepping out of my comfort zone made me realize I can do whatever I set my mind to.  I discovered that being bad at something is its own reward; it gives you something to improve on.  Although I’m black and blue today, yesterday was one of the best memories I’ve made with some of the best friends I could have.  I can’t wait to embrace more challenges as I face the new situations that Miss Greater Easley is bringing my way!

Birthday Princess!

“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.” Audrey Hepburn

The moment I woke up yeserday morning, I felt so incredibly loved. It’s such a blessing to have had 21 years on this earth, and it’s incredible to see how many people took the time to think of me. I can only hope God blesses me with another year to try to have a positive impact on those I meet. I thank everyone who thought of me yesterday, who reached out with a text or call or facebook post. I thank the friends who kept me company and made me feel like a princess. I don’t know what today will bring, let alone this next year, but I can’t wait to watch God’s plans unfold. Cheers to 21 and the adventures it brings!