Monthly Archives: January 2019

Strategic Lack of Effort

You sit around the war room table, ill-prepared for the battles that are about to take place. The leader of one of the neighboring factions reads the rules of warfare to the collective of five divisions. None of you fully understand these mysterious words that are being read, but you feel as if you get the gist of it and cautiously begin your mission to secure borders.

The war begins at a slow pace. The four men you are plotting against claim their territories, while you, the only female, quickly secure what used to be known as South America. You observe as battles break out in the old European territories. One faction leader in particular (a boisterous, bearded fellow who gets quite excited when he wins) seems to be unstoppable. His mark of purple terror spreads like wildfire. You realize that he must be stopped, no matter what the cost.

You send your troops north to invade North American territories, as well as to the east to join the effort in toppling the purple army. You try to defeat the lone soldier, Reginald, in Southern Europe, but have the worst luck you’ve ever seen in battle and lose three men, causing you to retreat. Some battles are successful, others devastating. No matter how the battles turn out though, the bearded general cannot seem to be thwarted by any of the other faction leaders.

Throughout the war, you form a quiet alliance with the dashing leader of the mechanical army to your right. You move past the fact that you tried to slay his prized commander, Reginald, knowing that you must stop the nonsensical violence. As battles rage on, the two of you work together to strategize the demolishment of the tank battalion. While your comrade keeps the enemy at bay, you successfully take over the North American base. Both you and the awkward, new age Nazi leader are now head to head in the race to end the war. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

You study the lay of the land to find the best way to victory. You realize that if that you can claim the European headquarters, you can resolve the mindless bloodshed. But, it is your ally’s base that you must invade. In a moment of bluntness, you exclaim, “If you let me conquer you, we can beat Jon!” You don’t necessarily process how odd this sentence is; you are hyper focused on winning this war.

The leader of the mechanical army agrees to your master plan. Through a blatant lack of effort, your comrade loses his headquarters to you, even while the other generals shout at him to not let his biases blind him to the end goal. The end goal though has become larger than the individual: everyone’s mission is to defeat the Nazis. After hours of struggle, you have won the war. You sign the peace treaty, but prepare yourself for the next war that will inevitably break out again in the foreseeable future.

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(Haven’t written in second person in a hot second, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was from a riveting game of Risk: Legacy that was played very late at night with my boyfriend and his roommates. Not gonna lie, was very proud of myself for winning the first of fifteen wars that will be fought over the rest of this semester, even though I thoroughly embarrassed myself with my outbursts. While the future wars are unclear, one thing is certain: we can never let Jon win. Stay tuned for possible new story times.)

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

A Month on Prozac

On December 14th, 2018 I started taking Prozac. For those of you who don’t know, Prozac is a synthetic compound which inhibits the uptake of serotonin in the brain and is taken to treat depression. In other words, it’s an antidepressant. Two years ago, I almost began taking a medication to help my mental state, but for a number of reasons, I decided against actually getting the prescription filled. Fast forward to the end of this past semester, I’m crying in the doctor’s office, my pride finally broken down and hesitantly agreeing to spend my four weeks off of school getting used to this new tool in my life.

The first few days, I was mad. I didn’t want to be medicated. I felt defeated. Why couldn’t I have taken care of myself before now, doing the things that would make me feel better without the help of these new chemicals being added to my system? I have had people in my life express that they didn’t believe medication did more good than they do harm. While no one ever told me to my face that they would be disappointed, there was always a little voice in the back of my head that worried my closest friends would judge me for having to use medicine to be a happier person.

Most of the time, the first few weeks of a medication are a little rough, and I can attest that this is true. I hosted a Christmas party five days after I began the meds and let me tell you, I felt super nauseous in the middle of the get-together after taking it. (Shout out to Avery for being my emotional rock during that party.) Then, for about eight days, I lost my appetite. While I still made myself eat something throughout the day, I ended up losing five pounds. I also began dealing with dryness in my throat, which, as a singer, scared me to death (Biotene is a life saver).

However, after all of this, my follow-up appointment with our family doctor was much different than the first (the only tears that happened were when I had to get blood work). After regaining my appetite and beginning to have motivation to actually take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, life was becoming so much more bearable. In fact, it was so much more than bearable. It was full of joy and expectancy towards the future. I wasn’t scared about going back to school. I was having a much easier time communicating to the people I love. Little things that used to really bug me were becoming less bothersome.

My classes started back up on January 14th, one month after beginning the medication. A month before, any thought of school, work, or the shows I’m working on would make me feel panicky and want to hide away from the world. Beyond any expectation I could have had for myself, that first Monday back at school was marvelous. It was by no means perfect. Several instances popped up that threw off my uncommonly good mood. This time however, there was so much more clarity for how to deal with these annoying happenstances. The next morning, I fully processed how miraculous it truly was how I handled the curve balls that were thrown at me.

So, it’s been a month. And frankly, I feel great right now. I am more at ease with daily troubles that arise. I am able to recognize when I need to take time for myself to recharge. I am now much more aware just how truly blessed and loved I am by the people God has put into my life. I am fully aware that things will get tough again, possibly very soon, but I am abundantly grateful for this past month of rest, recovery, and rediscovery of myself.

I write this to the person who is being stubborn about getting help, to the one who is scared of what others will say, and to the one who doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble: getting help does not make you weak. You are a valuable human being and modern medicine is an incredible thing. While I don’t believe that all problems can be solved with medication, I am now a firm believer that they can do major good. A dear friend of mine once explained it to me this way: you wouldn’t tell a diabetic to pray harder for their illness to go away. While there are good foods that can help a diabetic and exercise can do wonders for anyone, but you wouldn’t tell a diabetic not to take their medication. The same applies to mental illnesses. There’s natural ways to treat depression and anxiety, but sometimes, your brain needs some extra help to function fully.

And to the Christian who is on the fence on starting a medication, I have one last nugget for you: God wants you to feel better, and He’s not gonna be mad at you for not praying more to Him to take your depression away. We live in a world of brokenness and unrest, but praise the Lord for His gift of knowledge that He has given to modern physicians. Use your resources, and know that you are not alone in your struggle. If you want, I’ll let you use some of my washi tape to wrap up your orange bottle.

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Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Becoming an Unapologetic Taylor Swift Fan

Two years ago, I was sitting on the couch amidst the chaos of Meltonshire Christmas. My dear friend Suz, whom I used to follow around as a starry eyed ten year old when she 49814843_2295867917315745_5896481448726102016_nwas a colorful, outgoing thirteen year old, was talking about the upcoming Taylor Swift Reputation Tour. I had recently begun listening to the new album and was finding that I truly enjoyed it. I hadn’t listened to Taylor’s tunes consistently for a few years, but was finding myself getting pumped in the morning by this new album. Then Suz, the best gift-giver I have ever met in my whole life, offered to buy me, her sister-in-law and our Taylor-Swift-expert friend tickets to the stop in Tampa. With Suz living in Orlando year round, it was the perfect excuse to go down and visit my “sister”, while getting to experience my first actual concert. Let me tell you, committing to a trip down to Florida eight months in the future was one of the most spontaneous choices I’ve ever made in my life, but a choice I will forever be grateful for.

 


Here’s the deal with Taylor for me: I’ve always liked her. I remember in being in sixth
50255259_2281043228805055_4998270209354629120_ngrade and singing “Love Story” at a karaoke event, and some of the first songs I learned on guitar were ones that she had written. But as seventh grade rolled around, Taylor Swift became less cool. The “popular” girls now rolled their eyes at the country/pop singer. Me, being a confused and very nerdy middle schooler, began to listen to the voices of my peers’ opinions, and in turn, began to listen to the music I enjoyed less and less. Even when I started homeschooling and went to community college, I found myself floating away from the music I liked because of how other people talked about the artists. I was focused on others’ opinions instead of forming my own.

 

Fast forward to August 2018. The anticipation of the trip made my heart race every time 49343010_2270982129815967_3729155219322306560_n.jpg
my brain wandered to it. Samantha and I made crafting runs to create my “Feelin’ so Gatsby” look. I have the “Reputation” album on repeat as I drive between jobs. I’m scrolling through hashtags previous concert goers had used to see a glimpse of what I was in for. Still though, I’m not an open fan. Truth be told, when certain people asked me what I was most excited about for summer break, I would be slightly embarrassed to say, “I’m so hyped to see Taylor Swift live!” A part of my brain was sent back to middle school, where girls who set all the trends that flooded the halls declared that only weirdos listened to that stuff.

 

 


50223045_275772673116648_5145700386333523968_nAmong my close gal pals on the trip though, I felt truly safe to be open. My friend Marri is one of my biggest role models in being an unapologetic fan. I swear, this woman knows Taylor Swift better than most people know themselves. And here’s the thing about Marri: she doesn’t give a crap what you think of her, at least, she’s led me to believe this is the case. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been loud and proud about her opinions, and people listen to her due to her confidence. She probably doesn’t know this, but her unyielding passion and exuberance for the things she enjoys has inspired me, especially as I enter further into my 20’s (Marri, if you’re reading this, hi, you’re great and I love you).

 


Florida was a dream. The Dampa Squad (yes, I meant to type Dampa, not Tampa; if you’ve been to Florida you understand why) graced the streets of DisneyWorld in mouse 39186571_2100793379973259_8932990053886459904_oears and glitter, enjoyed the wonders of a moon sand beach (right before getting caught in a rainstorm), and dressed to the nines at the Taylor Swift tour. Throughout the week, I grew relationships with girls I had known and looked up to for years and grew new friendship with a gal who quickly become a wonderful counsel (Hi, Caileigh). And let me tell you, I cannot do justice to the emotions I felt while at that concert. Lyrics that I didn’t even know I knew by heart were being shouted as I danced like no one was watching. There were multiple times words from songs brought tears to my eyes as I reflected on how far I’ve come in life. As dumb as it can sound, going to the concert made me realize I wasn’t alone in my appreciation of this talented artist.

 

img_3639The semester following the concert was full of extreme highs and lows. Through successes and heartbreak, I was beginning to listen to Taylor’s music consistently as I once had. Her words inspired me and pushed me forward. In the midst of a breakup, I did such a stereotypical thing that makes even me chuckle now: I began playing music again. Being a busy theatre and animation student, playing piano or guitar was an activity that I never made time for. During a much needed snow day though, I picked up my precious green guitar and spent an hour playing some of my favorite Taylor Swift songs. Let me tell you, my fingers hurt like HECK after not playing for months, but the joy my soul felt after making music was infectious to my overall mood.

 

Here’s my overarching point to this ramble: don’t let other people’s opinions keep you 50248155_2195147897414057_8624359927403511808_nfrom enjoying the things that make you feel alive. There’s always gonna be someone who thinks what you enjoy is silly (let me refer you to my Twilight post for a direct quote). However, we are all created unique, including our different interests and passions. Can you imagine if all of us liked all the same exact things? UGH! So boring! As you dive deeper into 2019, I challenge you to be unapologetic in what you love; you never know how it could affect people. For example, while sitting in a coffee shop furiously typing this post to meet my deadline, I ended up wandering around to give my brain a break. This led to a conversation with a lovely barista, who I not only found out liked Taylor Swift, but Doctor Who as well, a show near and dear to my heart. I’ve decided that we should be best friends. Be proud of your passions, my friends. You never know when they could possibly change your life.

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

 

Some of my favorite tunes:

“New Years Day”

“All Too Well”

“Love Story”

“Mean”

“Long Live”

 

 

Another New Year’s Post| Ft. Love

Heeeeeeelllooooo 2019! Let me tell you something, New Year, your buddy that just retired was ROUGH. It seems like everyone and their dog was ready for 2018 to fly away so we could all get a fresh start. If you know anything about me, you know I love goals and, more specifically, accomplishing said goals. I’m the kind of person that has at least two planners at all times and is motivated by stickers. So you’d expect that I’d start this new year out with a post about my resolutions, right? It’s not like I haven’t done it before! (Woooo 2015) Well, despite my track record, this year, I don’t have a formal “2019 Resolutions” list (at least not yet). Yes, I still have my to do lists that seem to never end, but over the past few weeks, I have been reminded of something that I didn’t realize I had become apathetic towards: God’s Greatest Commandments.

I became clear of this message that God has been trying to get through to me on Sunday morning via a sermon by one of our wonderful pastors. A little background: in chapter 22 of the book of Matthew, a group of religious leaders were questioning Jesus to try and catch Him saying something that they could use to get rid of Him. Now, these guys have spent their whole lives memorizing the law. In fact, there are  613 laws that they had to know. Well, they decided to ask the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” in hopes that Jesus would finally slip up. There were 613 to choose from, after all! Which one would Jesus say?

Catch what He says: “37 And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.” This is kind of a no brainer for the religious leaders. A devout Jew would recite this commandment from Deuteronomy at least twice a day. But then catch what Jesus says as a follow up: 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Go back and read that again, cause I had to a few times myself. Notice how Jesus didn’t say that going to church every sunday, or memorizing the most scripture, or raising your hands the most during worship time was the greatest commandment. He’s not wanting us to be the best looking holy Christian rolling into the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. In fact, it was the “holy” people Jesus was calling out time and time again. Jesus told us to love our neighbor, meaning every other being that has been created in the image of God. This doesn’t just include your best friend, your boyfriend, or your favorite aunt. This includes that boy that hurt you. This includes the girl who you know is talking behind your back. This includes the family member you can barely stand to be in the same room with at times. Regardless of religion (or lack thereof) a person professes, we as Christians are called to love God and love other people.

I know I have people who read this blog who do not share the same faith as me, and if you’re still reading this, hey, I appreciate you! For a moment though, let me talk to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

*deep breath*

GUYS!!!!! Sometimes we need to flippin’ CHILL OUT. There are times when we can feel as if we are proclaiming Christ to be siding with a certain political party on Facebook or avoiding certain types of people in order to keep ourselves from stumbling. However, we immediately follow this up by shouting at others and “sharing prayer requests” for our wayward friends (aka, gossiping). I know so many people who have grown up in a church environment and have completely dropped God because of how negative Christians can be. There are times we need to get off our holy high horses and realize that regardless of whether or not a person is Muslim, Hindu, Agonistic or whatever other spiritual stance still has a soul. Jesus didn’t just die for people who believe in Him: He died for all of us. Yes, there is time where tough love is needed (I’m thickheaded, I need it often), but so often, we miss the point of our mission on earth. Genuine love has been thrown out the window, and we as the church must reclaim it and better represent the One we claim to be following.

I wrote this post over the course of two days, and in between those two days, I was hit with a situation that made me step back and reevaluate how I treat others. I was faced with a choice of whether or not to be hard-hearted or to extend the love I have been taught for years. Thoughts of, “I have no obligation to show love right now,” and “Someone else will take care of this; you don’t have to try and reach everyone” ran through my head. I had been hurt and had finally gotten over the pain I felt in high school, I was not about to step back into a realm where I could feel burned again. But then I remembered how unworthy I am of the love that has been lavished on me by my Heavenly Father. I remembered how God has brought people into my life over the past year to build me up when I have been at my lowest. I recalled how my Saviour suffered pain and heartache on my behalf. If Jesus decided to die for a messed up person like me, shouldn’t I be able to extend a humble love to my fellow man? So I got up, and did the best I could to love as I knew how. I don’t share this story to stroke my Christian-ego; I share it as an example that a person who has spent over twenty years in church still has issues with being active in loving others. Anyone who tells you being a Christian is easy is a liar and you should run far, far away from them.

Regardless of your beliefs, I am of the conviction that we need to do a better job of loving one another. I challenge you today: if you need to mend a bridge or reach out to someone you have had on your mind, stop ignoring that task. Be slower to anger and quicker to loving the people you cross paths with in life. I don’t know about your 2019 goals, but I know mine is this: to love more often as Christ has loved me.

 

Thanks for the inspiration, Steve.

 

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby