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6 Ways Acting Taught Me Courage

In Memoriam Wheelice "Pete" Wilson, Jr. My first & favorite director ~      Sometimes courage begins before you even need it.      My brother and I began participating in our local community theater at ages 6 and 8, respectively. We played the roles of chicks/goslings, which required one costume change of a yellow pillowcase (chick) to a purple pillowcase (gosling). From opening night, we were hooked . . .      We went on to do a combined twelve shows at the same theater, seven of which we were both in.      Our longtime theater director, who we first met in 2007, passed away last month, and today we honored him with a celebration of life at the new black box theater that was his long-held dream.      I wrote the following post the week he passed away as I reflected on all he had taught me. 6 Ways Acting Taught Me Courage 1. No stage fright. This is the one you were most expecting to see on this list. So I've put it first for your convenience. Working on stage for so
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A Breakdown of My Favorite Books & Authors

       It's time to set the record straight—what is Madeline's favorite book? Who is her favorite author? The questions you've been dying to know are answered right here in this very post. Strap in, folks!      It's time for a breakdown of my favorite books and authors. B O O K S       What is your favorite fiction book?      My favorite fiction book has got to be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Every other book must capitulate to this one in my mind. It's 5/5 stars and makes me cry every time. I cannot wait to sob onto its pages for the fifth time in January 2022. While 500+ pages sounds overwhelming, the short chapters of this easy-to-read, beautiful young adult book make it fly by. Every word on every page is perfect, and it's narrated by Death, for lines like: "She was saying goodbye and she didn't even know it."      It's fine. I'm fine. Everything's fine.       What is your favorite nonfiction book?      My favorite nonfiction bo

What It Means to Live in Abundance

       It’s the end of the year, my favorite time for reflecting on all that has passed and looking forward to a fresh year with new goals and rhythms.      In 2021, my word of the year was “abundance” (as opposed to scarcity), and I had to remind myself of that more days than not. I know that our God gives good gifts—lavish gifts, even—and He doesn’t hold back or worry if there will be enough. This is because He Himself is enough .      This affected nearly everything I did from how I spent my money to how I spent my time to how I treated my friends.      Abundance says, “He is enough, and He will provide enough.”      Scarcity says, “There’s never enough, so you should be afraid and hold on to what you still have.”      I made several goals for the year, one in each of the seven categories of life in which Dave Ramsey recommends goal-setting: career, educational, family, financial, health, social, and spiritual. For each one, I kept my word of the year in mind and set goa

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 dressed up as my CEO on Halloween. I placed a live crab on top of a cake for a white elephant gift. I baked cookies for a guy and gave absolutely no reason at all.      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 to

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