January 11, 2014

The Start of the Winter Quarter

After I got home Monday night! SO tired!
Christmas break officially ended last Monday, and it was back to school I went. I've finished my first week, which means there are only nine more to go! WOO! This week was actually really great compared to my first week in the last quarter (so far anyway). This time...I knew what to expect, where all of my classes were and had a feel for the campus and everyone around me. Now, I feel like I'm actually starting to get excited about what I'm studying to do, which is Journalism. I don't feel so overwhelmed just yet, and haven't had much homework, or then again, I just haven't done it (OOPS). Hard to say! But, I feel like I know how to prioritize a little better.

It was so nice being back on campus and seeing familiar faces walking around or in my classes! The first day was a little exhausting, and my head was throbbing by the time I got home, because there was so much information and so many introductions we had to make. I got home that night and just crashed with a heating pad on my face in my room, then had dinner and watched TV. It was perfect. I realized I was going to need to eat a better breakfast and to take some healthier snacks, which is exactly what I did on Wednesday, and things went a lot smoother and I didn't feel as tired.


Parks & Rec and tea from Starbucks. Two of my favorite things.

Healthy salad!

Here's my schedule:

10:00-11:25 ** Features Writing
Lunch break
12:45-2:00 ** Newspaper 
(Sometimes I'll get a break, but I might have to stay and take care of business for the newspaper)
3:00-5:05 ** Mass Media and Society
5:15-7:20 ** Theories in Communication 

Marissa and I were able to hang out on Thursday! We made calzones and memory jars!
It's a really long day, but as long as I eat good and get a lot of sleep, it's actually not as bad as I imagined it could have been. I have friends in all of my classes, and I always look forward to theories now, because it's like our little "family" from Intro to Mass Comm. last quarter, which makes for such a fun time. We're usually picking on one another and or laughing at whatever is going on.

Watching White Collar last night! SO GOOD!
On the plus side, I also have Tuesdays and Thursdays off, so it gives me a break in between the SUPER long days, and I can catch up with homework, as well. I think that's going to be my saving grace this quarter. I'm praying things don't get too hectic, but if they do, I think I'll know how to handle it a little better than last time. This time around, I'm just wanting to enjoy myself a little more. I want to keep my eyes on the prize and focus on what I need to do, but not so much that I don't get a chance to spend time with my friends or to get involved with other things, or to be a little more spontaneous. After all, I'm only 21…There's no reason to start acting like I'm 80 so soon. I have the rest of my life to do that.

And this quarter is officially kicked off. Time to take a deep breath and see what's in store. *sigh*

That's all for now,
Shelby :)

Lessons Learned in 2013

Over the past week (off and on), I’ve been reading through my past journals from 2013 to reflect on who I was, what I was thinking, and just what happened on the day to day. I picked up on a lot of the lessons I learned or things that were brought to my attention a little more and even a few words of insight that are helping me again in this very moment as I move forward. So, I thought I would share those with all of you…
  1. To appreciate the people who have been in my life through it all, instead of constantly wondering what happened with the friendships that have just faded out over the years. People come in and walk out of your life for a reason, and it doesn’t mean that we should just keep chasing after them. There has to be a point where you both just stop apologizing, make peace with it and move on.
  2. Things always do have a way of working themselves out. Let’s be honest. Life sucks sometimes; it’s not always pretty and things don’t always work out like we plan, but we have to keep finding a way to carry on. It has been a hard year full of challenges, in more ways than one. I’ve had doubts, fears, and a whole lot of other things in between. But, God always uses those circumstances to help me gain perspective; to see things a little more like He would. He uses it for my good, and through those times, I can see clearly that He really is good all the time, regardless of what life throws our way.
  3. Being a leader sometimes means you have to jump into a situation before you fully know what’s expected of you… At Catalyst, Pastor Andy Stanley brought up several key points that I’ve tried to remind myself of here and there throughout the year. It’s not always easy, but that’s part of being called to a bigger purpose.
  • “We have to commit to WHAT and figure out the HOW later.”
  • “You don’t learn much in your wrinkle free days.”
4. I started to see how much I’ve always had this need/desire to “belong,” and because of that, I’ve constantly  tried to keep up with everyone else with things and didn’t even notice it at the time. This goes all the way back to when I was younger, even in elementary school; having the latest clothes like my other friends, who were shopping at Limited Too, etc. It also goes hand in hand with comparing myself to other people in looks, personality, the way I write, or even just personality. It has become more evident to me that I need to focus on the path that God has for me. I am one of a kind and original, we all are. And if we’re always trying to be like everyone else, we miss out on the really cool things that God has planned for only us specifically.
5. This “waiting” period of being single is exactly what I’ve needed, and I haven’t always seen it the way I’ve wanted to…This isn’t meant to destroy me or kill my confidence or to be a reminder that I’m going to be “forever alone.” No, it’s to grow and learn more about who I am (outside of my parents, my friends, my other family members,etc), to get closer to God, to get into the things that I’m passionate about and to go after my dreams of writing and entertainment, wherever that might lead. Too many times I think I’ve relied too much on other people for decisions and I need to take this time to find out more about me. I want to get my priorities straightened out and to be confident in what I want and where I’m going, before I bring anyone else into the picture. I still have my own insecurities and things to work out. I’m learning how I need to be the right person, before expecting to meet the right person and that he’ll just change everything. God needs to be the focus in my life, or I will end up making that person everything, which would only leave me feeling disappointed and wanting more.
“Be patient. Enjoy these moments. Learn more. Become more independent. Save. Live life. Nashville will always be there and whatever is meant to happen will…Later. Not now. Be okay with that.”
(One of the entries I wrote in my journal over the summer; I’ve been trying to remind myself of this when it seems like the waiting is getting a little too long and wondering whether it’ll even be worth it. It’s always a yes).
6. Don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s so cliche, but most of the time, within reason, there’s not an actual reason to be so afraid of a new experience (i.e. trying a new ride at Disneyland, meeting a friend of a friend, eating a new dish you’ve never had before). When I jumped in to new situations, I really ended up having a great time, when I almost backed out. I drove a jet ski for the first time and it was one of the best times I’ve ever had; flying across the water with nothing standing in my way or driving a car for that matter was pretty cool, too. Listening to new music didn’t kill me, watching a new TV series wasn’t the end of the world, and trying a new area of ministry at church (even if it didn’t work out), was still a good experience to start stripping away layers of the kinds of things I want to do around there.
7. If I’m always looking forward to the future, I’ll never be totally content, and I’ll never fully be able to appreciate what is happening right in front of me right now and what God is doing for me in this moment.
8. I’ve felt called to Nashville and that it is the place for me since I was 16. But, sometimes when you’re young, you can think a lot of things are meant to be in your life forever and that isn’t always the case. However, the more I’ve prayed about it and thought about it, and made out the plan/vision I see for myself in the future..I really can’t see myself going anywhere else. Each and every time I leave, I get really sick and I almost have to fight back tears as we board the plane. I leave a little bit of my heart back there with each visit, and someday when I return, it will be completely restored. Obviously, it’s going to take a few more years (maybe more) to save up and to have everything lined up, but instead of just hearing that as a “no,” I’m hearing it as a “not now.” I need to be patient and wait, get some things figured out and realize that there is no rush. I’m going to finish school, save up money, and when I feel God’s telling me the time is right, I’ll head on out…Until then, I just need to sit back and see what’s in front of me out in good ‘ole California.
9. Sometimes when we’re not totally sure of what the next step is that we’re supposed to take or don’t know what kind of decision we should be making. I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to just DO SOMETHING. It might not be the best decision, but because we stepped out in faith, God will meet us there and will redirect our steps if we make a mistake. But, the real mistake would be not doing anything at all.
“You’re still in a time of transition dear–It’s upsetting for any of us when we’re not exactly sure how God’s moving in our lives.”
“The uncertainty–I don’t think the Lord lets any of us get through life without some seasons like that. Otherwise, how would we grow in our faith? Faith is moving ahead in obedience, dear. Just moving ahead one step at a time, trusting Him until He shows us what’s next. He’ll make it clear to you eventually. Sure as anything.”
(From the book, “Undeniably Yours” by Becky Wade”)
10. You have to take the bad days that come along with the good. You have to find a balance of all of the good and bad things in your life. And the bad will certainly help you appreciate the good that much more. But, all of it is a blessing in the end.
“If you’re in a good season…Celebrate it. And if you’re not, seasons are always changing. And that’s why it’s so important to put your peace, hope and true joy in The One who NEVER changes.”
(Amy Grant said this in concert when she came to town back in July, and it resonated so much with everything I was going through).
     11. Honestly, binge watching a TV series on Netflix actually helps me with school. So, I think that should be a lesson for me in this next quarter. Any good shows to recommend? haha.
12. Too much time on my hands can be a very dangerous thing, because I worry way too much…
13. It’s good to be specific in our talks with God, and it’s good to tell Him things that He already knows. It’s like when we see one of our friends posts something good that happened on Facebook. Even though we already know what has happened, we still want the update for ourselves when we see or talk to them next, because sometimes there are more details that they’ll tell us. God wants to hear those things from us, too.
14. “There are times I haven’t known where I was, but I’ve never been lost.” ~ My Grandpa
He was actually talking about directions and driving when he said this, but I’d like to think this applies SO much to life. I don’t always know where I’m going or why exactly I’m going through a certain season. But, I always have to keep believing that I will end up exactly where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to arrive.
I’m sure there were plenty of other things that I could have included, but these are the main things. I’m ready to go into 2014 stronger than ever and ready to tackle whatever life throws my way. I have God on my side, along with good friends and family, who know how to handle a heart like mine. :)
That’s all for now,
And…HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's Out With The Old…And In With The New!

2013, I think it’s time that we go our separate ways. I know we’ve had some wonderful times together, but I don’t think that’s any reason for both of us to just keep hanging onto what we had or what we could have had. In all honesty, I was a bit more attached to 2012 and didn’t want to see it go, because it was like that book you wish to write your entire life, and it becomes a bestseller and now you’re trying to write something that is just as good, if not better and it kind of haunts you when if it doesn’t quite live up…You did a pretty fine job, I must say, but I must say, it’s time to say farewell.
I’m not a fan of goodbyes, and I think I’m in good company with that. Amy Poehler hates them a lot, and I’m sure many others of you who are reading this feel the same way. I don’t like finishing good books or saying goodbye to fictional characters on TV, when visiting relatives go back home to South Carolina or Utah, when certain seasons of life fade away, or when friends or family move to a different city. To me, it always just feels really awkward and uncomfortable to finalize words and feelings, like I might never see or hear from them again and that’s tough to carry around.
But, you know what I do love? Beginnings. I love the possibilities of what could happen, even if it doesn’t, to be able to set goals and dreams…To start over. And I realize that in order to get a new beginning, you have to say goodbye to another, so I’ve learned to accept that and enjoy it.
And now, it is that time of year again when we can reflect on everything we’ve accomplished, things we regret, things we wish we would have done or said, some of the hard times we’re glad are over, some moments we wish would have gone on forever, the lessons we learned about ourselves and just all of the experiences we’ve lived over the past 12 months.
This year, I started off in a really weird funk. Honestly, I was bitter that 2012 was ending. I was extremely attached to it, and thought 2013 isn’t going to live up to it, so I don’t know why we were bothering (which was the worst possible mindset to have). I left 2012 on a sour note and that carried over. I was a little depressed, which came from not spending much time with God, it seemed like all of my friends were starting to move on again and I didn’t feel like I would be seeing much of them, I had a lot of fear, doubt and uncertainty for the future and I was questioning a lot about myself. I only had one online class that I was finishing up with my community college and still hadn’t been accepted into the university yet, and I was extremely anxious about everything..And it gave me a lot of time to think, which I didn’t always care for. I felt like I was just wasting time and felt completely stuck with where I was at. I was also pretty (literally) sick off and on, for what felt like the first 2-3 months of the year, which had me feeling lazy and sluggish, and not feeling up for much of anything.
But, looking back, I think that “time off” was one of the best things that could have happened to me. If anything, it gave me a chance to do a little self reflection. It gave me a chance to reevaluate my life without a lot of distractions around me; to just be alone with my heart and to hear what God has been trying to tell me. It gave me a chance to look at some of my past journals to remember what I had come from and a chance to dream for the future and to hear what God was wanting me to with the dreams and passions that have always been on my heart.
This year, I had a lot of big moments and I had to overcome a lot, and even if I was terrified, I tackled them head on..Most of them were really exciting and big reminders that I am an adult now:
  • I was published in one of our city’s local magazines and got my very first official paycheck
  • I got involved with the youth band at our church, to help out as a leader. And even though it might not have been the direction for me, in the long run, it was a great opportunity. It gave me a chance to make connections I might not have made otherwise, made some new friends,  and by taking that first step and doing SOMETHING, God was able to show me the areas that I do want to help out in and that has opened other doors, which I’m excited about.
  • I turned 21, which is one of the BEST birthdays I have ever had (and I still haven’t had a sip of alcohol, and don’t really plan to anytime soon)…I am really getting old now!
  • I graduated from the Taft College and was accepted into CSUB! Woo!
  • Worked as a “staff writer” on the CSUB paper, and I’m going back in just a couple of weeks.
  • Finally got my license (yes, it has taken me this long…But, I finally did it; It’s a long story).
  • Passed my classes with 4 A’s and 1 B in my first quarter, which I was extremely paranoid about, and I made the Dean’s List.
  • Even though I’ve told myself that I don’t need a boyfriend after all of these years (and praying for that special someone since I was 13), it has been a process of truly believing that and not driving myself crazy with the fact that I am still single. There were times I tried to speed along the process and it didn’t work the way I wanted, because I wasn’t being patient and I wasn’t waiting on God’s timing. I also thought that if you were praying faithfully about it, that meant someone would just appear like *that.* I started seeing it as a bad thing, like there was something wrong with me, but I’m starting to see it as a HUGE blessing in disguise that I’m single. So many people have been getting married really early on in their 20s, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But, I do hope they know what kind of commitment they’re getting into and it’s something they’ve really thought out. And for the first time in my life, I’m really starting to come to peace with that. God has been working on my heart a lot in that department, and as I get older, my prayers have shifted a bit and my perspective has changed also. I really don’t need a guy right now and I don’t think I even want one right now, anyway. I want to focus on school, get a steady job and be able to become more independent/responsible on my own, before I start relying on someone else to determine my happiness. I’ve been there before, and I need to focus on God and my relationship with Him first and foremost. The right person will come along when he is supposed to, and maybe it won’t be until I’m in Nashville…And that’s okay. In fact, I’d prefer that…But, who really knows? I’ve learned that there is no “one” person out there for everyone, like we tend to think there is sometimes, and being able to see that with a new perspective helped take the load off of me, because I don’t feel like there’s a time frame or any routine that I need to be following. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, and a relationship with someone will happen naturally, not because I forced it or tried to plan it out my way. Right now, I’m honestly just taking the time to enjoy my 20s, with my friends and family, making experiences, growing, maturing, figuring out what I want, and trying my best not to rush things. I seriously have the rest of my life to find someone and have a family of my own.
  • I’ve met a lot of wonderful people at school, after I was a bit worried that I might not really get to know anybody that well, depending on how classes were and how much time I’d be spending on campus.
  • Became a staff writer for the entertainment site “PopWrapped,” which has helped me get more familiar with the style of writing I want to do and to meet some cool people from all over the world, who are into the same things that I am.
  • Made some reconnections with close friendships that I hadn’t been able to spend much time with.
  • I’ve learned to accept things for what they are, instead of dwelling on things, wishing that they were different. You just accept it and move on, hoping for the best along the way and letting God take care of the rest.
And of course, there were just a lot of really fun moments, like:
  • Staying up until 3 a.m (or later) finishing a good book or starting a new TV series or just because I could…
  • First idol tapingWent to 3 tapings of American Idol, including the finale, becoming “friends” with some of the Idol contestants, Keith Urban signed my ticket and he said “Well, hi there,” when I turned around to wave and smile at him…One of these days we will get a picture together.
  • Meeting Lauren Graham at her very first book signing, and she couldn’t have been more awesome! One of the COOLEST people I’ve ever met. I met Maria Menunos while she was filming Extra at The Grove, and told her I was a journalism major and how much I liked her book. Oh, and then there was running into Austin Nichols in the parking garage on our way out! Then, he tweeted me back the next morning *MAJOR FREAKOUT DAY*
Lauren Graham signing
  • Dodger games throughout the season with my aunt and Viviyan, and just going with my parents!
  • Seeing where The Office was filmed and eating at The Smokehouse, where Jim and Pam’s rehearsal dinner was filmed!
  • Seeing McKinley High from Glee, which is actually a performing arts high school!
  • Heart to hearts over coffee with Viviyan
  • Dinner and The Office with Marissa on Thursday nights!
  • Meeting Chris Colfer with Viviyan at his book signing
  • 21st birthdayMy 21st birthday (Going to Disneyland, Vegas, SHAKING TIM MCGRAW’S HAND, running into BEN
  • SAVAGE in the Long Beach airport, getting to see the Kardashian Khaos store, while Kourtney Kardashian
  • Seeing Shania Twain for the first time ever live at Caesar’s Palace, and the show was phenomenal!
  • Monica Potter, LeAnn Rimes, Janelle Arthur, Paul Jolley, Burnell Taylor, and Lazaro Arbos follow me on Twitter, which gave me a chance to talk to them more :)
  • Going to a lot of fun concerts (Shania, Tim&Faith, Keith Urban, Amy Grant, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes,etc.)
  • Being able to read a lot, which I LOVE
  • Clive Davis Grammy Party (No, I didn’t get to go in..But, they let you hang outside and watch everyone come in, which is really exciting. I was able to meet Jordin Sparks, Scott Borchetta, and Karen from Little Big Town and we saw a ton of other artists come in like Miley, Katy Perry, John Mayer, Ellie Goulding, Sting, Dave Grohl, and many others) Grammy Party
  • Spending Valentine’s Day with my best friend (Watching The Office, eating Chinese food)
  • Getting to sing at church for the youth
  • Days exploring downtown with one of my best friends!
  • Taping of Conan with a big group of friends!
  • Helped out in the children’s ministry at church; I was Mary in the skit for Easter!
  • A LOT of good music came out this year (Kacey Musgraves, The Band Perry, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, etc)
  • Catalyst Convention with Febe (and we got to see KID PRESIDENT AND RAINN WILSON…AHHH! Everyone was laughing at how much I was screaming hahahaha) I was also able to meet Caitlyn Crosby, creator of The Giving Keys and talked with her for a few minutes about the organization, which I loved. And I really started to understand the concept of what it means to be a leader. Nashville
  • Finally got to bowl at Pinz in LA! So fun!
  • Went to Griffith Park at night :) So beautiful!
  • Went to Nashville (Met Kacey Musgraves, Chuck Wicks, Kellie Pickler and Two Story Road; Jason Aldean walked by me on the street; went to Carrie Underwood’s #1 party for Two Black Cadillacs, which fans are never really invited to; went to Hunter Hayes’ listening party, finally tried Frothy Monkey, and went to three Opry shows!!!!!)
  • My cousin and one of my really good friends got married this year!!!
  • I baked a lot more than I ever have before…
  • Toured WB studios
  • Random trip to Santa Barbara with family friends
  • Random trip to the beach to celebrate my parents’ anniversary and got to hang out with my cousin for a bit.
  • Rewatch of Glee, although it will never not break my heart with Cory Monteith passing away this year :((( Chris Colfer signing
  • Taylor Swift’s concert from the pit (!!!!!) (although, my mom passed out…So, that wasn’t so fun)
  • Trip to Bass Lake with family friends, and I drove a jet ski for the very first time! We bbq’d, made s’mores, and I spent a lot of time outside on the deck, which was perfect..I really am more of an outdoorsy girl.
  • I got to see the Friends fountain at the Warner Brothers Ranch lot, even though it’s closed to the public!
  • Went to the Hollywood Bowl for the first time ever to see Keith Urban, Dustin Lynch and Little Big Town
  • Went to the beach and spent the weekend with family friends, my aunt, uncle and cousin.
  • Went to Disneyland with one of my best friends for her 21st birthday, and we had the time of our lives!
  • Got really crafty for the holiday season (decorating the tables, making pinecones, baking)
  • I started getting back into making and editing videos, which is one of my hobbies that I had kind of neglected for awhile
  • I made time for more writing and being creative, and some blog reading and YouTubing…That inspires me!
And then there were some of those tough moments that I had to work through:
  • Starting at a new school and realizing that things are very different at a university than at a community college, which took major adjusting. It was kind of miserable for a little while. More work, different people, and a much bigger campus.
  • A lot of sleepless nights during the summer; driving myself crazy thinking (and worrying about the future)
  • Comparing myself to others; the path they’re taking, the way they write, the experiences they’ve had…I just need to focus on what I’m doing and who I am. God has a different plan for everyone. We don’t need to be like everyone else. We each have a unique story to tell.
  • Getting my license was terrifying! I’m not a big fan of driving, which is why I’ve waited SO long to get it, so having to take the test where someone is critiquing my every move was one of my greatest fears, but I passed and made it out alive :)
  • Doubt, uncertainty, fear, depression, etc. were all things that I had to shake off…Ain’t nobody got time for that! It was quite a process.
So, it was quite a year with moments I will never forget, and even though I am TOTALLY looking forward to 2014, I’m sad to see this chapter close. I feel like I’ve gotten to know myself better than I ever have before and I think that’s important for moving forward and seeing what else God has up His sleeve. And…Thank you to everyone who made this such a great year, whether it was a tweet or simply taking a picture with me (and you’re someone I’ve admired on TV for quite some time), giving me advice, laughing until we cried, crying because our hearts were broken, taking road trips together, watching marathons of our favorite shows, getting to know one another at school or church, giving me feedback on my writing, or maybe it was just a “like” on Instagram or Facebook. However our paths have crossed, I’m thankful for that memory, whether it left a scar or changed me for the better.
That’s all for now,
Shelby :)

It's A Different Kind Of Christmas

As we get older, things start to change. That goes for all things in life. There are different seasons for everything. we graduate, we move on, we close one chapter and open a new one, friendships fade out like a candle that burns out (without warning, but slowly dies the longer it’s on), people move away, and sometimes it’s just our perspective and everything that has happened around us that changes the way we see people and our world. Christmas is one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed now that I’m an adult, and I see that I’m not the only one, judging by conversations on Twitter and Facebook or even just talking to my own friends and family about it. Sometimes Christmas tends to lose that magic and you have to find it again.
Christmas has always been my absolute favorite time of the year and my absolute favorite holiday, even more than my birthday. I loved being able to celebrate Christ’s birth and being reminded that we always have hope, because that little baby changed EVERYTHING about our world. He brought light. I’ve also just really loved the decorations, the music, and the warm and fuzzy feelings that having all of my family together used to bring and all of the cliches that would come with the season. And let’s not forget those classic Christmas episodes of shows, like Growing Pains and Full House. Ah, those never get old.
As a little girl, it seemed like every part of the season was filled with magic. Our days at school were kept busy with plenty of Christmas themed activities to do or Christmas plays to get ready for (which usually meant lines or songs for me to memorize, which I loved), and Christmas vacation to look forward to. I’d count down the days leading up to the occasion with Christmas movies, helping decorate, watching Dad put up the lights, spending time with my grandparents, going around to look at houses, or making my own projects at home to pass the time.
Then, on Christmas Eve, my mom’s side of the family (my grandparents, aunts and uncle, cousins, my parents and I) would all gather at my aunt’s house, which usually had Subway deli trays for dinner, olives, and other treats to munch on. We’d open presents, then visit for awhile, as my cousins and I anticipated Santa’s visit to our houses; my stomach filled with butterflies, with each passing moment. We’d also have to find the pickle in the tree, and whoever found it first won a prize. That was always the real highlight to us, haha!
The next morning, I’d crawl out of bed with anticipation to see what was under the tree, being able to differentiate which packages were from Santa and the ones that had already been there. A lot of people have been saying that they don’t think they’re going to tell their kids about Santa, because it just messes with them and blah, blah, blah…But, honestly, I don’t consider it lying. I feel like it’s just part of the tradition of Christmas, and it’s a fun little game to play. I think it helps kids use their imagination a little more, and just reminds them to believe in the excitement and magic. I don’t think it scars them or messes with them, it’s just intended to be fun. Don’t read so much into it, people. But, I digress. Then,  I’d tear open the packages, wondering what was inside and not being able to wait to play with my toys. Then, we’d hurry and get ready to go to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner, while I was usually sad I had to leave all of my gifts and only choose my most favorite one to bring with me, where my other cousin and I would compare presents or play with each others gifts. Later on that night, my mom’s parents would come over to see what “Santa” and my parents had gotten for me, and I remember one Christmas specifically where I serenaded everyone with “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin, thanks to my awesome new Karaoke machine. Man, those really were the days.
Christmases over the years have drastically changed. My mom’s parents passed away about 11 years ago, which left a big hole in the family, especially around Christmas, because their house always felt a lot like what I imagined Santa’s Workshop probably looked like. My grandma loved Christmas so much, and especially baking around that time…So, not having her around to do that stuff with was kind of depressing, looking back on it all now, and I wonder how things would be different now, A LOT. Then, in 2009, my dad’s mom passed away and that was also just really hard. She was always around, especially during the holiday get togethers. She was always the first one there, and suddenly she just wasn’t anymore. I never realized how much grandparents are the glue of the family, and when they’re gone, it’s tough to keep things going, almost like there’s no obligation in a way. Finding a groove without them will never be the same, but you can make it work. I was a little bitter about Christmas for the last few years. Not because I hated it or anything, it was just hard coping without all of them.
When we moved into a new house, we started doing Christmas Eve and Christmas day at our house, so my dad’s mom was able to spend one or two Christmases with us here, and it was a fun change. My aunts and uncle came over with my cousins and their boyfriends, and now my cousins and other aunt just come, and we go out to dinner. Or we’ve gone to Christmas Eve service at our church. It’s usually pretty “up in the air” as to what we do, but as long as we’re getting together, that’s what really matters. It doesn’t need to be a tradition to be Christmas. As for the morning of, my parents and I open gifts still, then the family comes over in the afternoon, which usually consists of my dad’s brother and his wife, my mom’s sister, and my dad’s dad and my other grandma. Sometimes my cousins make it over, and other times they don’t. That’s life, you know? As you get older, you start to branch out a little more.
This year was one of the best I’ve had in awhile. It might have had something to do with having gotten out of school back in November, so I’ve had all this time to watch movies, listen to music and to reflect on what Christmas is really about. My mom and I have watched just about every Lifetime/Hallmark movie out there, we baked a lot, we decorated and put up the lights, I listened to all of my favorite music, we looked at lights around one of the neighborhoods in town, went to our Christmas program/service at church, and I had Secret Santa with my friends. So, I’ve done just about everything there is to do, and the most important thing is that this year, I really didn’t get distracted by all of the things that I wanted and I missed the reason that we even celebrate altogether. I was reminded of God’s hope for my life and how He is the ONLY thing I need. Period. It’s relying on people and material things that ends up making me feel disappointed when my expectations are too high and they can’t fill the needs where I need Jesus.
Our Christmas gatherings were a bit smaller than usual, but still just as good. My mom and I baked just about all day long on Christmas Eve and set the table for dinner on Christmas. Later, we went to dinner with my aunt on Christmas Eve, then opened presents with her and watched The Santa Clause. One of my cousins came over with her boyfriend, and we all talked and hung out for a bit. 
My new squirrel pjs that I opened on Christmas Eve!
Christmas morning, my parents and I opened gifts, after my mom and I prepared a breakfast casserole (Monica Potter’s recipe), then watched the Disney Christmas parade. We all got ready, finished getting the house together, then my grandparents and aunt came over for lunch/dinner. We had prime rib, cheesy potatoes, zucchini casserole, green jello and rolls, which was absolutely delicious. My grandma, aunt, mom and I watched a Lifetime movie, while my grandpa and dad talked with some of our other family in Utah, then my grandparents fell asleep for a bit. We had cake and ice cream, and visited with one another for awhile, while watching Family Feud and the news (and I almost fell asleep). After everyone left, my parents and I watched Jeopardy and the I Love Lucy Christmas special, and I kept eating just about everything in sight. You’ve gotta love the holidays, right? I was cherishing every second of it, because like I said…Life is a series of changes. Sometimes it takes a long time, and sometimes things change in the blink of an eye. I am very content with the way everything happened this year, and I’m so thankful for my family and friends that are always there and love me unconditionally. 

And honestly, I’m pretty sad that I didn’t really take any pictures and no one else took any either… :( Oh well, at least my birthday is coming up soon, so we’ll probably all be together again.
That’s all for now,
I hope you all had a fabulous and very merry Christmas!
Shelby :)

Secret Santa

Every Christmas since our freshman year of high school, a group of my friends and I have exchanged gifts as “secret Santa,” and it’s something I have really come to enjoy. Now that we’re all getting older, especially, and are starting to move away from our youth, coming into responsibilities, like college, jobs, significant others, moving away, and all of that other “adult like” stuff, it’s so good that even if only one day out of the year, we can all be together, push the rest aside and pretend that we’re “teens” again! HA!
I was able to borrow my dad’s truck today, which was great, and met up with the rest of the gang at Chili’s. We had interesting conversations on just about everything-catching up on the little details of what we’d been up to, cars (the guys brought this one up, of course), TV shows, movies, celebrities, and whatever else seemed to come up. And we did a lot of laughing.
When we finished eating, we went back to Liz’s house to hang out and open presents. We had Christmas music playing and the fireplace was going. It really did feel like a Christmas episode from one of my favorite sitcoms. Probably Friends.
Me and Laurie :)
“Three Amigos” since 7th grade
Me and Liz :)
Our dysfunctional little family…And I wouldn’t have it any other way :)
I was the first to go, and Andrew was my “secret santa” gift giver, and ironically enough, I was his, which gave us all a little laugh. The package was all decked out and creative, as usual, with brown paper stamped with my name and “hope” all around. Inside all of the tissue paper, it ended up being a really pretty, festive scarf and a bracelet, which I’m SO excited about being able to wear for either Christmas or New Year’s Eve. If I haven’t expressed how much I love scarves, I really do. They can dress up any outfit and just add so much.
Everyone else opened their gifts and we started trying to decide what to do next, whether we should watch a movie or play a game, but no one could really think of what to do. Liz also gave me my birthday present from this year, and she seriously outdid herself. She got me an engraved jewelry box, an engraved bracelet that says, “my best friend loves me,” two scarves, a knit wrap for my head, some candy, two cards and a gift card to Target! I was SO happy and totally just feeling the love with everyone there. We took some pictures; silly and normal ones, then just hung out for a bit. We started watching TV, and somehow we ended up getting sucked into Grey’s Anatomy. None of us, except for Tiffany, had any idea what was going on, so we were all just adding our own commentary to it, which was much better anyway. And then Cory made some comment about Patrick Dempsey..I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember the girls all started attacking and defending Mr. McDreamy…Who knows? lol.
Pretty soon, half of the group left, because they had stuff to do…So, it was me, Liz, Andrew and Nolan. We weren’t too sure of what to do, so we sat on the couches for awhile and then decided to play games. We played Headbands, which is basically like 20 Questions, only you have a card on your head and you’re being timed. That was rather frustrating for all of us, but I can’t tell you how.stinking.hard. we were laughing. Nolan had “newspaper” on his head, but was stuck on square shapes somehow and kept getting further and further away from it. Liz and I were practically dying on the floor. It was perfect. Then, we ended up playing the Heads Up app that Ellen has and it is the best ever. I’d only seen her do it on the show, but I’d never played, and it’s so much fun. There are several different categories and types that you can choose from. I did the superstar one a couple times, we tried the animals, movies, and icons/legends. But, I think my favorite had to be “Hey Mr. DJ,” where you hum whatever song is on the screen and the other person has to guess. Because even if you have no idea what everyone is humming, it’s still fun to watch them get really into it.
After Andrew left, it was starting to get pretty dark and since I was driving myself this time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay that late. I hardly drive and never at night, so I didn’t know when I was going to go. But, then we started watching videos on YouTube, while laying on the floor, and I was glad to be in good company. Normally, I’m just at home, bored out of my mind and wishing I had a life, so now I finally had that opportunity. I’d missed spending time with them, so I figured I’d stay as late as I could. We ended up going out for pizza and starting a movie, Pain and Gain. I had started thinking of going home, but decided to give it a try. It was a bit rough and I was starting to get a little tired, so I decided to head home.
My gifts tonight! I am so spoiled! ;)
My gifts tonight! I am so spoiled! ;)
It was such a fun day and I am so blessed that even if I don’t get to see or talk with everyone very much these days, that we’re all still in each others lives. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll be able to keep up the Secret Santa tradition now that we are getting older and things are starting to change and shift in the dynamic of our group. In fact, it was even brought up that this year could be our last with some things that are coming up in the year to come.  That makes me very sentimental to think about, but I guess that’s life. Nothing ever stays the same. But, it also makes me appreciate this year so much more. Instead of wishing or wondering what it would be like if things were different, I’m going to take in everything that’s happening right now as it is. Right now, things are pretty great as they are.
That’s all for now,
Shelby <3 p="">