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What Taking Risks Taught Me About Myself

       Over the course of my year as a twenty-one-year-old young adult, I have taken many risks.      I baked cookies for a guy and gave absolutely no reason at all. I dressed up as my CEO on Halloween. I placed a live crab on top of a cake for a white elephant gift.      These small but significant actions were some of the most creative risks I took.      All of them caused me a bit of nerves the night before and a bit of nausea the day of, but I made it through them and lived to tell the tale. These were not foolhardy risks like jumping off bridges or setting things on fire or any of that textbook dangerous type of risk.      Instead, with each risk, I set out to be fully myself and not hold back.      In doing that (and surviving), I freed my mind to be comfortable with a wider range of situations. (I kept my position as an intern and got hired full-time afterward because of that Halloween stunt.) I'm bolder in the way I do little things because those things no longer cause me t
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Dispelling the Myths of Adulthood

      Although I am relatively new to this whole adult life, I am learning things every day—both practically and conceptually—that shatter some of my preconceived childhood expectations for adulthood. I was, to put it bluntly, very wrong. Did I think that adults had it all figured out and never felt guilt or frustration or confusion? Maybe subconsciously, I did . . . As a child, I thought that an adult blowing their life savings on any purchase was incredibly irresponsible. As an adult, I see how easy it would be to spend one’s entire life savings on a car, a house, a wedding or honeymoon, etc. Adult things are expensive!   As a child, I believed adults had no free time but was told to “enjoy my freedom while it lasted.” As an adult, I understand that a full-time job doesn’t mean a lack of freedom but a need to reprioritize and find a balance in each season of life.   As a child, I was excited for each new school year and its changes. In college, too, I delighted in the freshness of a

10 British Classics You Should Read Before You Die

    It's April, and I say it's about time for another book list. There are so many books in the universe to read. (I've only in the past few days at the ripe old age of twenty-one decided I won't read every book published.)      But there are four authors that I recommend without fail any time I am asked what classics are worth reading. Below I highlight the best works (that I have read so far) from these authors, so you can easily start by picking up the best of the bunch.      So quit your Internet browsing and pick up these classics that are a dime a dozen (in cost, not value) at your local bookstore... 1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (follow with A Tale of Two Cities or A Christmas Carol ) Some quick facts: 1800s Victorian-era writer and social critic Favorite theme: The poor and orphaned Where readers get hung up: Dickens was paid by the word, so he uses *all the words,* which can slow down the pace of the book. Where readers fall in love: His beautiful,

Why Less Is More

      Good day, readers! Last week I didn't post *gasp* because sometimes less is more . And I needed a little more in other areas of my life.      This post only has one image. Because less is more .      I'm skipping two social commitments tonight. Because less is more .      "Just put the tiniest bit of lotion on. Less is more," I was told this weekend. Yes, I nodded, less is more. But why?      Less chaos, less clutter can lead to more peace of mind and more focus on the truly important things.      At least, that would be my minimalist mantra if I was inclined to have one.      I'm thinking about minimalism today because a year ago I made this video and somehow got college credit for it after posting it for fun.      I've created an updated capsule wardrobe video , this time featuring the newest stage of life I've entered: the professional world. You can watch it here :       Have a lovely, less-is-more Tuesday! ~Madeline

Why Writers Love Feedback

       As writers, so much of our work goes unseen.      And I'm not just talking about the strenuous behind-the-screen writing process "work" that readers can only imagine. I'm also talking about the works themselves: rough drafts stuffed in tattered notebooks, the drafted texts in the Notes section of our phones, the journal entries, the sad poetry, and the happy love songs that we scribble with a pen or thumb onto a screen.      So much goes unpublished, unseen, unrecognized. But we write it from the depths of our souls anyway.      The polished compositions—the pristine manuscripts, the well-edited personal statements, and cried-over twenty-page academic essays—are the ones that we send out into the world.      The public sees these labors as valuable, but they are not always labors of love as much as they are labors of completion to display our competence. It's as if we have to prove our writing's worth to the world to feel safe continuing to write in pri

What the Past 365 Days Have Taught Us About Friendship

       Since March 2020, I’d like to say that I’ve become better at asking, “How are you, really?” I’d like to say that I’ve learned so much through my friends and that they’ve learned so much through me. I’d like to say that virtual, long-distance friendship wasn’t too big of a problem. But the truth is that all of these things are still hard.      A year ago, our world turned topsy-turvy. I’m so grateful for the friendships I ended, began, and continued. As I transitioned into a new season of life, this was a natural change. So what have you learned about friendship in the past 365 days since that never-ending spring break?      Here’s what a few of you had to say... “I’ve always heard that relationships of any kind require work...but growing up with siblings and friends down the street made it easy! Now, post-college and married, I see the reality in the original statement. To build true godly community, you have to be intentional, humble, and in tune to the Spirit’s leading.” —Make

How Local Accountability Transformed My Exercise Routine

       I walked into the shoe store at 6:43, knowing they closed at 7:00 sharp.      "Hey, I know y'all close at 7, and I'm sorry to come so late, but do you have time for a fitting? My friend and I walked here."      "Um, fittings usually take about 30–45 minutes," the hesitant salesman replied.      "Does it help if I'm super decisive?" I asked, eying the three pairs of shoes I already knew I would want to try on if given the chance.      "Yeah, that certainly helps," he said, still doubtful that he'd get to leave work at a decent hour.      Fourteen minutes later, I left the shoe store. On a bench outside, I shoved my old tennis shoes into a box and tied the new ones on my feet.      "Let's try to avoid puddles on the way back," I told my friend, gingerly stepping around the mud in our path. I juggled the box of old tennis shoes with a light heart. I finally had shoes that weren't falling apart and would suppo

How I Embraced My Word of the Year: Abundance

     One morning last week, in the midst of the Texas version of a blizzard, the Lord reminded me that He is enough for me and that He has provided everything I could possibly need out of immense love for me!      This love and His faithful provision are true for all of His children. Even if God has not given you something that you desire, He knows what is best for you. In this, He can provide the absence of something—an absence that will draw you closer to Him, and He is all you need.      Ultimately, He has provided eternal life through His son Jesus's life, death, and resurrection, saving us from separation from Him because of our sins .      When I chose the word abundance before the first day of 2021, I knew I wanted to live in spiritual abundance specifically. Claiming abundance as my word of the year would not magically make me richer or my life fuller. Instead, it reminds me that I do not have to live in a scarcity mindset  (which leads to hoarding and fear) with the Lord

6 Ways to Fit More Reading or Writing into Your Life (with Resources!)

     Maybe you don't think you have time to read a book.      Maybe you're trying to write the next great American novel.      Maybe you're tired of returning library books before you've finished reading them.      Maybe you're tired of getting lost on your phone and want to record your favorite moments from this year on paper.      In the past, I've written an entire series on how to get more out of your reading life and have briefly touched on writing . Ultimately, however, your reading life and writing life are up to you—your schedule and your priorities determine how much reading and writing you can squeeze into the average day.      This week, with the power out across the state and many people in search of a hobby to fill their days, it's time to return to the manual hobbies that laymen think of as academic. Reading and writing are not just for the degree-seeking student though; they are for students of life, those who want to never stop growing.    

10 Must-Read Tips for Your Next Date

       With love in the air and a few of my dear friends back on the dating scene, I have decided to write this unconventional (for this blog) post, alternatively titled “How to Be a Strong, Independent Woman on a Date,” “What I Wish I’d Known Before My First Date,” or, even more accurately, “How to Survive a Date (Based on Real-Life Experiences).”      This is for those who have never been on a date, who haven’t been on a date in a while, or who just want to be prepared for whatever their next date brings. Even if you’re married, this one’s for you! ~      This year, one of my goals is to go on one “date” per month with one of my family members. These are casual, delightful, and usually involve everyone’s favorite part of dating: the food!      In January, my dad and I got to go to a local barbecue place for our date night. It reminded me of some of the dating lessons I have learned over the years. Maybe the following will come in handy for you too... Before the Date 1. Less fussy hai

What's Saving Your Life Right Now?

       January can be dreary — a long month as bland as plain Cheerios. February is shorter, and halfway through it, there's a holiday. Even so, for many it may not be a celebration.      And so the months pass, January and February, with little else to recommend them but their indoor hygge , which makes it easier for me to get through a thick stack of library books. For those into winter sports, these months offer a unique outdoor experience too — crisp white snow.      When these wintry months hit, how do you survive? How do you thrive?      For me, if I find something that works to keep me sane, I hold onto it and try to share it with others. In this way, it may just be "saving my life," as Anne Bogel of  Modern Mrs. Darcy says.      Without further ado, here is what's saving my life right now. Please share yours in the comments below!

Maximizing Free Time with Rest and Friendship

       These days, I have a tight schedule. Before I know it, sleep and work have sapped my energy and stolen my hours away. 7:00 — 7:45 a.m. Get ready for work 7:45 — 8:30 a.m. Commute 8:30 a.m. — 5:30 p.m. Work 5:30 — 6:00 p.m. Commute 6:00— 10:00 p.m. Decompress from work & get ready for bed 10:00 p.m. — 7:00 a.m. Sleep      This schedule leaves little room for error. If I don't go to bed by 10 p.m., I won't get my peak nine hours of sleep. My hour-long lunch break is just enough time to eat, call one friend, and breathe some fresh air. And I must carefully guard my evenings on weekdays if I want to have a single second to myself.      I've been making the most of the time in these ways...

6 Ways to Avoid the Endless Text Conversation

  NOTE: This post is not just for girls, though it is addressed to them. It's also not just for single people or just about romantic relationships. This is for anyone who would rather have a deep, meaningful, in-person conversation than be misunderstood over text. Read on!      The endless text conversation — the one you're always thinking about answering when you're talking in-person to your loved ones.      The endless text conversation — in which you go to sleep and wake up in the same back-and-forth with someone you want attention from.       The endless text conversation. It's easier if it never begins, but if you're in one, it's time to get out.       Girls  tend to become clingy in relationships with guys, and nowhere is this more visible than in text conversations. Instead of endearing themselves to these men, too many girls are driving them away with needy texts and attention-seeking questions.      To change this, we must rethink our texting. Think of

How to Cope with Transition

       For the past several years, I have had the structure of semesters as a college student. Each fall, spring, or summer yielded new classes and routines with an occasional new roommate or internship.      Even when I knew changes were coming, I had to carefully ease into the new experiences. My mind, body, and soul are so closely linked that forcing myself into a new season would be jarring for all three. And trust me, freshman year I learned that the hard way.      Now I am learning to understand a transition that is not marked by semesters, calendar years, school years, or even global pandemics. It is instead marked by a new opportunity without an end date: a full-time, 9-5 job. As I anticipated this transition, I tried to be proactive in the way I arranged my January, knowing that I would be learning a lot and working even harder this month as I adjusted.

3 Lessons I Learned from Teaching Preschool

     In September, I started working at a local preschool two days a week while also completing an editorial internship the other days of the week. The preschool/after-school center was one of my favorite parts of my week.      I got to spend time with little two-year-old boys and girls, taking care of up to eleven of them all by myself and up to seventeen of them with another teacher!      While they were a handful every afternoon I was there, I also had such sweet moments every day where I would get to read to them, rub their backs to get them to sleep, or help them identify the colors of their Fruit Loops at snack time.      They soaked up everything like little sponges, but they were not the only ones learning.

How I Set New Year's Goals (& My 2021 Word of the Year)

       Every year, as December rolls around again, I get excited by online content about goals, resolutions, or intentions for the new year. When a favorite blogger announces her word of the year or Verily  and  Darling magazines publish articles about reflecting on the past year, some giddiness wells up inside me.      My process for creating a purposeful year begins with these very vague inspirational posts, but then I put the abstract ideals into concrete steps. These are the steps I take between Christmas and New Year's Day to begin January 1 with a clean slate. 1. Reflect on the previous year with journal questions.     As much as I love freewriting whatever comes to mind, reflecting on the previous year is better done with deep questions that jog one's memory and organize scattered thoughts. Especially in a year full of ups and downs as this one has been, journal questions provide much-needed direction.      Here are my favorite lists of questions: 20+ Questions for a Ne

In a Manger

  No transportation, little money, In a year that appears to never end. They walk, away, away, away. The government is at it again, Charging them with inconvenient travel Away, away, away to the city of David. With every step, he worries for her. The inn is full, she hears, They walk away, away, away in silence. Anxiety threatens her trusting heart. She has to believe the Lord and Push away, away, away, her bleak circumstances. "God my Savior, we have come so far." Rest comes in the form of a stable, The Holy One draws near after centuries away, away, away. "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, help me." A breath, a prayer, and the baby is born. She cries and rocks him away, away, away. "God of David, you provide everything in its time." Her feet carry her to the watering trough. She dips her hand in, draws it away, away, away. Today water will cleanse the One Who provides water welling up to eternal life. She washes the blood away, away, away. She is prepare

How to Avoid Holiday Overwhelm in December

       The most wonderful time of the year is here at last, and in 2020, it's what everyone needs. While the striking of the clock on January 1, 2021, will not even marginally change our situation, we are all longing for it.      I know I am eagerly awaiting the new year — but about the same as usual — since New Year's Day is my favorite, despite it being one of the most underrated holidays . I've even claimed that it's better than Christmas .

Imperfectionism: Proactively Ordering Your Priorities

  This post is the fifth of five in a series that I am calling Imperfectionism. It's about holding ourselves to a standard of God's grace, not perfection. Read 'em and let imperfection seep into your priorities.      Regret is no one's friend, and perfectionists bear the brunt of regret's pain. One of the techniques I practice as an imperfectionist is ordering my priorities before making decisions, which I mentioned in yesterday's post . This allows me to choose the most important things in my life and filter every decision through that lens.      Recently, I was taken aback by the extent of my imperfection in having properly-ordered priorities...I'm not good at this right now.

Imperfectionism: Facing the Paralysis of Two Good Options

This post is the fourth of five in a series that I am calling Imperfectionism. It's about holding ourselves to a standard of God's grace, not perfection. Read 'em and reap [excellent decisions].      Making a decision between two good options is one of the most difficult scenarios for a recovering perfectionist. These decisions may or may not be large life decisions, but they are often overwhelming and even paralyzing in the moment. That's what we're tackling today.