I Want to Be A Person Who…

I teach a Reading Cafe class, and I am blessed with a group of 29 students who come into the library every day, cozy in, and dive into reading.  It is a beautiful sight to see, and I love that the culture of our school creates the need for an elective course like this.  As much as I love these students’ love for quiet reading time, I also love pushing their thinking and their comfort zones within this realm they are so familiar with.  

On Wednesday, we watched a video about the importance of reading.  Within the video, the speaker discusses how humans become a mixture of the five people they surround themselves with most.  Positive influences will reap positive rewards.  Negative influences will drag you down.  Research proves it.  What if you don’t have any positive people in your circle of five, though?  This, the speaker asserts, is when reading becomes crucial.  You can choose to supplement your life’s influences with the stories of writers, the inspiration of activists, and the courage of overcomers.

After showing the video to my students, I asked them to submit a detailed description of the type of person they want to become.  I promised to read their responses and reply with a book recommendation that could act as one of their Influential Five, helping them achieve their personal goals.

As I read through their responses, I teared up.  These were not the canned answers students sometimes give because they think it’s what you want to hear.  These were honest and beautiful answers that represented the complexity and reverence of humanity.  These responses demonstrated an understanding that there is power in unity, that this life is about more than our tiny view of it.  These responses needed to be heard.

Today, I welcomed my 29 readers and handed each a sticky note.  I clambered up on the table and did my best to deliver an inspiring speech.

“Last class period, I asked you all to write a description of what type of person you want to be.  Your responses were unique.  Your responses were inspirational.  Your responses would surprise one another.  How many of you feel like high school is filled with people who are fake and only want to stir up drama?”

Slowly, most hands in the room raised.

“I’m here to tell you… you’re wrong.  The responses I read were not fake.  They were not dramatic.  They were honest and caring and kind.  I asked you to write them so I could recommend a role model book for you, but YOU are the people you should surround yourselves with.  YOU are the inspiration others need to be reading.”

I asked them to transfer their favorite part of their original answer onto the sticky note.  

“Follow me.”

We walked out into the hallway where a large chalkboard boldly displayed “I WANT TO BE A PERSON WHO…”  Each student grabbed a piece of chalk and transferred their sticky-note hope to the prominent display.

Their collective mood was reverent.  One girl said, “These make me want to cry…”  Another said, “I wouldn’t have thought my peers thought these things…”  And another student encouraged a friend that she was already the person she hoped to become.  Some students held back until the end, almost as if they wanted a private moment to document their hopes.  

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These are the students I work with.  Are all of them currently prospering as the people they want to be?  No.  But these buds are in them, and I want to see them blossom.  My goals are more broad now:

To cultivate these hopes that have not died
To water these dreams that have not shriveled up
To shine light on the fact that humanity unites; it doesn’t divide
To show them a world that desperately needs them to be the people they want to be

 

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You Belong Among the Wildflowers

This morning, I got out of bed at 5:39am, after hitting snooze once.  My dog, Dottie, had decided 3:30 was an acceptable wake-up time, so I hadn’t slept soundly for hours.  But my dog wasn’t the only disruption of sleep.  I took a shower, got dressed for work, and then crawled back into bed while searching YouTube for Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers.”  Every time I hear this song, it’s easy to feel that it was written for me, but today, these words carry more significant weight.  I buried my head back into my pillows and let Petty serenade me:

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free

This seems to be the song of humanity in this present time.  It’s as if God was reminding me of our true reality, our true calling, our true hope.  We don’t belong here.  This is not our permanent home.  All of our hearts long for a place we feel free, and this world is not it–for heartache accompanies our existence here.

Yesterday brought heartbreaking news at the national level, but it also brought heartbreaking stories at personal levels.  As God calls me to widen my circle, I find myself engaging in conversations with people I used to smile and nod at.  And each conversation holds a level of sacredness, if I so choose to acknowledge such.  As lives entrust me with parts of their stories, I am becoming increasingly aware of the complexity of our existence, the beauty of individuals, and the conflict that pushes each story forward into this greater plot line.

And I feel utterly overwhelmed.

So I hit snooze.
I crawl back into bed.
And I ask for a reminder of who carries the burden.

File_000 (32).jpegJesus says His burden is easy and light.  I question that on the days I feel a weight resting on my shoulders.  I can forget that He does still call it a burden.  How, then, can it be easy and light?  He carries it, that’s how.  But I must choose to unclench my fists from my meandering, worrying mind.  I must choose to hand off those I love so deeply, trusting that–though I can be present in their pain–I am not the one to remove it.  I must choose to relinquish control of the things my brain cannot wrap itself around.  I must choose joy.

We don’t belong here.  We belong among wildflowers, somewhere close to Him, far away from troubles and worries, somewhere we feel free.  Somewhere we are free.  In the meantime, we will encounter troubles of many kinds, but we can take heart: He has overcome them all.  

Ditching Dewey: One Month Check-In

Last year, I took a huge risk and decided to completely revamp our non-fiction section.  It was my first year as a librarian, but I went with my gut and weeded 500+ titles and ditched the Dewey Decimal System.  Working with teachers and students, I created my own organizational system that more closely resembled Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com browsing (read about the process and the categories here).  After overhauling our organization, I placed a huge book order through Amazon.  Side Note: When school-specific book dealers want to include modern, engaging non-fiction, please let me know.  While I wait, I’ll keep my allegiance with Amazon and process every title by hand! It’s worth it.

My library workers and I were proud of our work, and we felt our library was easier to navigate, while also offering better products for patrons.  I must admit, though, that when I came back at the start of the school year, I wondered:

How would these changes be received?

Would new students, who were well-adjusted to Dewey, be able to navigate?

Would these changes show positive impact with numerical data?

One month into our school year, I am happy to report positive outcomes to all of my worrisome questions!

How have these changes been received?

Students have excitedly welcomed the changes to non-fiction!  With one very quick explanation, students intuitively hit the stacks.  After a quick walk around our outer wall, students can easily get the lay of the land, and they now navigate with ease.  I worried that my categories wouldn’t make sense to patrons, but I am happy to hear students repeatedly say things like, “This makes so much more sense this way!”  I was excited to see Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan–a title that was missing during our entire overhaul and therefore not labeled for the new system–placed in Arts and Culture/Pop Culture.  This tells me that my library workers understand the system so intuitively that they can classify books on their own.

Have students who are used to Dewey been able to transition?

Students literally cheered when I told them Dewey was no more.  They confide that Dewey would make sense in one moment, and then feel fuzzy in the next.  One student said, “I kind of know Dewey.  He’s like that one cousin you’re familiar with, but you’re not really sure how he’s related to anyone.” It isn’t a bad system–it makes perfect sense if you use it for research.  But our students were wanting to browse modern titles, and Dewey wasn’t conducive for that.

Did these changes show positive impact in data?

Prior to making the changes, our data shows non-fiction as 17% of our overall circulation in the first month of school.  This year, after making the changes, we have seen that number bump to 28%!  As schools stress the importance of students reading non-fiction, this is an exciting improvement!  Our students want to read engaging non-fiction, it is my job to help them see that such a thing exists!

I am excited to see how these trends continue, but we still have room to grow.  I am always  looking for new techniques to better the system.  It is clear, though, that non-fiction changes are relevant enough for modern librarians to consider.  For our school, these changes have resulted in increased student engagement, a more positive atmosphere, and improved confidence with locating interesting non-fiction titles.

 

Please comment about how you best promote engaging non-fiction in your schools!

YOLO: Experiencing Life Fully, Not Risking Its End

Recently, a student asked why our school doesn’t offer more spirit weeks.  It is common knowledge that drumming up even minor participation in our spirit celebrations proves to be quite difficult, so I offered an exaggerated response, “Well, no one participates in the weeks we offer now… why offer more?”  “I would do it now,” the student responded hastily, “I’m a senior, so it’s my last chance!”  The response made me sad, but it also made me turn inward.

How often do we miss our chance to participate?
How often do we get to the end of a season in life, only to realize our opportunity is now limited?
How often do we let our fears, insecurities, or pride keep us from memory-making?

When I was in college, the University Activities Committee would dream up monthly activities for those on campus.  Much like spirit weeks at BHS, these events weren’t widely attended.  My sophomore year, I decided I would attend every event and make the most of the year.  I wouldn’t let the opinions of others or my own fears keep me from making memories in a healthy, fun, and free way.  

File_000At the first event, I strolled up to the advertised “Shaving Cream Fight!” to find only four other students awkwardly standing in a semi-circle, staring at large quantities of canned shaving cream.  The poor student who had planned the event told us we’d wait a bit to see if anyone else would come.  We stood around, making small talk while we waited.  I made new acquaintances, but we all felt uncomfortable with the idea of launching shaving cream at one another.  Finally, someone broke the ice by suggesting that we all felt strange, but if we agreed to embrace the event and give it our all–we’d have fun.  So we did.  

Shaving cream, ten cans per person, flew through the air.  Laughter abounded!File_001  We kept slinging and running and wiping our eyes until the sun began to set.  Before we departed, we took a group picture, promising to never forget such a fun night.  I walked back to the dorm realizing that my vow to attend each event would guarantee awkward moments, but it would also solidify beautiful memories.

What if we applied the YOLO mentality in healthy ways?  Currently, people stamp “you only live once!” on activities that risk lives, push unsafe boundaries, and disregard authority.  To me, if we only live once, wouldn’t we want to make our existence full, not risk its end?  Let’s start saying “YOLO” after we choose to live with meaning and purpose.

Risk your social life.  Boldly wear your grass skirt and lei on Tropic Like It’s Hot day, even if you’re flying solo.  Show up to the school dance and be the first one to request a song.  Diversify your friend group.  You only live once.

Push safe boundaries. Dance in public.  Drive two hours to get pizza people rave about.  Turn off YouTube and make videos that you deliberately choose not to share–because the goal is to simply love the process, not get likes!  You only live once!

Disregard the authority of the masses.  Be an individual thinker and challenge group think.  Choose to learn from the wise, not just the loud.  Live more simply, rather than striving to acquire the life the world advertises. You only live once!

Opportunities like these exist all around us, waiting for us to reach out and grab them.  Some may feel small, but our small choices truly add up to a marvelous existence!

Documenting Our Dewey Ditch

When we officially decided to ditch the Dewey Decimal System, devising a new method of organizing was essential.  We knew we had to find a way to make non-fiction appealing to the eye, efficient to navigate, and easy to implement.  After scouring the internet for examples of high schools who had overhauled their non-fiction sections, I realized we might be one of the first.  I want to document our process in hopes of helping any librarian looking for tools and methods for genrefying non-fiction.

Studying Barnes & Noble
We spent a lot of time studying how Barnes & Noble organizes its store because students and faculty voiced shopping for non-fiction there, while avoiding it in our school library.  We wrote down all of their genre categories and combined categories into larger headings that matched our library’s collection and patron interests.  We learned that Barnes & Noble stocks multiple sections with the same titles, improving customers’ chances of finding a title.  We do not have this ability for most titles, so we had to ensure that our major categories were broad enough for students to intuitively navigate.  Our major categories were as follows:

  • Supernatural
  • Philosophy
  • Study Aids
  • Religion
  • Lifestyle & Relationships
  • Psychology & Sociology
  • Science & Technology
  • Animals & Nature
  • Arts & Culture
  • Poetry & Plays
  • Sports
  • Criminology
  • Business & Economics
  • Politics & Social Issues
  • Military
  • History & Geography

Stacks on Stacks on Stacks
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After creating our larger categories, we had to start reorganizing the books on the shelves.  To free up space on the shelves, though, we started by making giant piles of books all over the library’s floor.  We categorized each book into its corresponding, major genre.  Unlike Dewey, we did not put biographies and autobiographies into a separate section.  We felt students were more likely to know they wanted to read a sports biography or a memoir by someone suffering with depression than know the specific name of said person.  Therefore, embedding these personal stories within the various sections made biographies easier for students to locate while browsing.

Creating Sub-Categories

After all of our major categories were re-organized, we had to start making sub-categories.  We needed a way to narrow sections, making it easier to hone in on a specific title, while keeping them broad enough for multiple books to fall under the heading.  Our goal was to make sure there were at least 10-30 books in each section.  If the numbers seemed to climb, we knew we needed to sub-divide even further.  If the numbers were small, we knew we needed to combine sections.  Here is a link to our final list of categories.

Re-Labeling and Shelving
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One of the reasons we wanted to reorganize our non-fiction was our hatred for shelving with decimals.  We wanted to create labels that made shelving easy at a glance, but also helped patrons browse.  In large font, we put the first letters of each major section, and then in smaller font underneath, we put the entire sub-category title.File_004 (2)

 

When re-shelving, we do not further organize the titles or authors by alphabetizing.  Instead, we simply ensure all of the subcategories remain together on the shelves.  We have found that scanning 20 titles is just as fast, when looking for a specific title, as searching for a lengthy decimal point.  It also has been easier to ensure titles are in the right spot, because one can see an out-of-place sticker at a glance when every book in a section has a matching label.

About Face
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Prior to starting this process, we weeded a large amount of titles to free up space on the shelves.  Students voiced that one of the reasons they love Barnes & Noble is the amount of covers they see.  We put multiple titles on stands at the start of each section, which act as a visual marker for what types of books are in each section.  

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We won’t lie, the process of changing was exhausting and mentally numbing at times.  However, we have seen so many great payoffs from implementing it!  It is my hope that our experience can encourage any intrigued librarians to take the plunge.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me at adlugosh@bolivarschools.org.

To read about why we took the plunge, click here.

Confession: I am a Public School Librarian, and I Abandoned Dewey

This blog is littered with confessions, many of which may make you feel I am inadequate to speak intelligently about organizing and peddling non-fiction in a high school library.  However, I would say my inadequacies (and the fact that I have not always been a librarian) make me the perfect person to speak about the need for a non-fiction revamp, for my confessions have led to honest conversations with students, problem solving, and a complete non-fiction overhaul that meant a total ditching of the Dewey Decimal System.  

Confession #1: The Dewey Decimal System never really made sense to me.  
I am a big picture person, so Dewey’s system of sub-categorizing any topic amazed me.  Though I could marvel at it, I couldn’t navigate it very well.  Too many titles felt like they belonged in multiple spots, so I found myself aimlessly wandering the non-fiction section.  These long hunts would usually result in me searching on the computer, and then returning to the stacks for a specific decimal point.  File_001 (5)

After voicing this to students, they echoed a common struggle.  They had received marvelous instruction on the system in prior grades and schools, but the many subcategories of topics proved too much to hold in long-term memory.  Many faculty and staff also voiced the same.  We were all confident in looking up a specific book in the online catalog and finding it on the shelves, but browsing for information we desired stumped us every time.  One student said, “We don’t like looking foolish, and walking back and forth in non-fiction is foolish… so we just don’t go back there.”  

File_003 (4)Confession #2: I don’t use books for research.
I am a lover of knowledge, and I self-declare as a lifelong learner.  I love reading non-fiction and talking about what I learn.  However, I will always turn to electronic sources when completing formal research.  I like that it’s faster.  I like that it’s current.  I like that it quickly links me to other valuable information.  I like that I can print and annotate.  All of these likes are harder to muster within book resources.  


Confession #3: I skillfully avoided shelving non-fiction.
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There is something physically painful about staring at endless decimal points and trying to find the exact spot within a numerical timeline for a book about teenage pregnancy.  Shelving non-fiction took significant time, and I would offload that task to my library workers with boldness.  And they hated me for it.  One worker voiced cringing when people would check out non-fiction titles.  Why?  Because that meant we would eventually have to re-shelve them.  

With our Dewey confusion, our passion for perusing, and our disdain for shelving, we started the conversation about how to cure these issues with a change.  We started asking questions:

  1. Why do we like book stores more than libraries?
  2. Why does the non-fiction section overwhelm our patrons (and us)?
  3. How can one organize vast amounts of information in less specified, easy-to-locate ways?
  4. What if we abandon Dewey and create our own organizational system?

So we did.  We studied Barnes and Noble with a critical eye.  We pulled all of the books off the shelves.  We felt overwhelmed, but purposeful.  We saw immediate benefits and received countless sighs of relief.  

We ditched Dewey.  And we lived to tell about it!  

Our documented process will be in a blog-post to come!

Check out my post about the need for more modern non-fiction titles here.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Breaking News: I have a raging couple crush on Chip and Joanna Gaines.  The first time I watched their hit show Fixer Upper, my eyes took the shape of cute little emoji hearts, and I proceeded to binge-watch their show’s entire first season on Netflix.  Since that day, I have tried to peg why I find myself swooning over their endeavors, and I think I have honed in on the following:

  1. As a couple, they have fun with one another.  They seem to genuinely enjoy being around one another.  In a society riddled with divorce and independence, this is refreshing.
  2. As designers, their style could not be more in sync with my own tastes.  My friends mock me for the general lack of color in my life, so I love that Joanna leans toward my favorites: white, gray, and brown.
  3. As a concept, I love the hope represented in seeing something ugly transformed into something beautiful.  We are too quick to overlook potential based on our first impressions.  Their show challenges this tendency.

Naturally, when I found out Chip and Jo had released a biographical book, I waited until I acquired some Christmas cash from grandma and bought that book in a heartbeat.

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In The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna recount their relationship’s ups and downs– from the moment they met in a tire shop to their present day of fame.  The book includes color photos from their childhoods, wedding, and family endeavors, but the Gaines’ story-telling abilities are what really paint pictures for readers.  I found myself laughing aloud, tearing up, and sighing from relief as I read their inspirational story.

Superlative Size-Up

Most Refreshing Couple Narrative

One of the best things about Chip and Joanna is the dynamic of their interactions.  Chip’s adventurous spirit and Joanna’s type-A responses come together to form such an endearing partnership.  Assuming a third party would retell their story, I worried that their unique characteristics would not shine through in their book.  I was wrong! The book reads like you are sitting across the table from these two as they recount their lives.  The editor alters the font so readers can know who is speaking when, and the book alternates back and forth between Chip and Jo.  This opens the narrative up for funny asides, interjections, and bantering, which is such a unique experience for readers!

Best Inspiration for Dreamers

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Joanna reflects on the purpose of hardship.

Though rags to riches stories are often felt to be cliche, the story of the Gaines family is a refreshing voice clothed in humility.  They did not seek fame or fortune.  Instead, they sought to achieve their dreams by working hard, loving their hometown well, and always collaborating together.  This was never a get rich quick scheme, and that genuine heart shines through in their story.  Deep trust, humility, and unity carried them through hard times, and their raw honesty pushes readers to realize anything is possible.  This theme caused me to see the beauty in their show’s premise all the more, for their lives are living, breathing fixer uppers. 
Go buy Chip and Joanna Gaines’s book, The Magnolia Story, now!  Enter at your own risk, though.  Your eyes may turn into googly hearts.

Revamping Nonfiction: A Plea for Modern School Libraries

I used to be a self-proclaimed reader who respectfully abstained from nonfiction.  In elementary school, the nonfiction section was my go-to beeline spot during our library time.  Why?  Because that is where I could find informational books about dogs, which always had cute pictures of puppies.  As a child, the world feels even larger, and learning about my favorite aspects of this grand existence proved thrilling.  However, the thrill of a great puppy book waned as I aged.

As I grew older, my own story began to unfold.  With middle school and high school came all sorts of new insecurities, questions, dreams, etc.  The only thing I seemed to connect with, in hopes of understanding myself and the scary aspects of this world, was fiction.  I needed the power found in a story of another human, even if that human wasn’t  real at all.  

I will be completely honest, it wasn’t until adulthood that I realized that nonfiction books people read outside of school look totally different than the titles that lined the shelves of my high school.  I hadn’t realized that nonfiction books contained the stories of real humans, with real lives, with real hurts, and real triumphs.  I hadn’t realized that learning about science and history could keep me up at night when it wasn’t written in the form of a textbook.

So if I, a prior English teacher and current librarian, didn’t want to read my high school’s nonfiction and remained naive to the wonders awaiting discovery in Barnes and Noble’s nonfiction sections, how can I expect students to fall in love with nonfiction shelves that are all too similar to my high school’s ten years ago?



Libraries were once filled with a plethora of informational texts used for precise research.  These are not books intended for picking up and reading cover to cover, just as you wouldn’t engage with your college textbook in such a fashion.  As students now turn to the internet for scholarly research, modern libraries must find ways to overhaul their nonfiction sections and ignite a passion for lifelong learning among their students.  

Our nonfiction shelves should now be filled with titles that…

  • Push our students’ thinking about equality by developing empathy rather than informing students about race relations.
  • Empower students to take risks rather than just inform them about the products that resulted from those who have.
  • Inspire students with stories of overcoming rather than providing them with bulleted facts about celebrities.
  • Coach students in conquering issues like depression, loss, and rejection rather than provide them with WebMD-style facts about mental illness.
  • Provoke students to ask questions about the science behind their lives rather than inform them about scientific topics that must be weeded every year because they become outdated.
  • Encourage students to reflect upon the interconnections of history rather than telling them about isolated historic events.
  • Equip students to think critically about the movement of culture rather than listing the facts that define a generation.

The modern library must make moves toward providing titles that inspire young readers and young minds to be empathetic, problem-solving, active citizens in our modern society.  The modern library should strive to empower young minds to make sense of the mass amounts of information digested on a daily basis, rather than provide them with books filled with more facts.  

The modern library should be filled with students who are excited and drawn to the nonfiction shelves.

Ice Storm Reflecting

Trying to purchase a new game is hard enough, but things can really complicate your decision when the overhead lights of Wal-Mart keep flickering.  My friend Cassie and I were more than likely giggling in the game aisle, each with a movie from the five dollar DVD bin tucked snuggly under our arms when the lights officially gave way and the back-up generator loudly kicked on.  My dad popped around the corner, still calmly strolling, and said, “Girls, we may want to hit the road.  Looks like it’s getting icy out there.”

And that was the start of a beautiful two weeks off from school, hanging out with my dearest friend, not showering, yet sweating profusely by the fire.  189957_1002876154239_5114_n

She was (still is, as I type this–fingers-crossed!) scheduled to visit Bolivar for the weekend, but her trip is threatened by the ten-year-reunion-forecast of ice.  Last night, we reflected via FaceTime about the ten year anniversary of being snowed and iced in together.  Suddenly, she got pensive and said, “Amber, has anything really changed in ten years?  Have we changed…?”

We are both in our late twenties, finding ourselves still single and are uniquely not chasing the standard American dream, but we can’t deny the struggle that often arises with the temptation of comparison.  According to a lot of our high school friends, we’re a bit behind schedule.  According to me, we’re both cooking an entirely different meal than the rest of ‘em.  

I can’t speak for Cassie (well, I probably could… we know each other quite well… but I won’t), but I’m intrigued by her question.  I know I have changed in ten years… but how?

For starters, I now have bangs.  Confidence grew so I could finally realize I would never have Jennifer Aniston’s hair, and I should stop trying to cut my thick mane in hopes it would lay like hers.  Instead, I started embracing my inner rockstar, which stemmed from friends who pushed me to start playing shows.  In high school, I vomited right before I walked out on stage to sing in our talent show, now I’m eager for new opportunities to share music and can’t imagine life if it weren’t that way! Thank you Kate Nash for becoming the new Jennfier Aniston when I enter the salon–your hair suits me.  I’m still a creature of habit, though, so I haven’t gotten rid of the bang-look since college.

One thing I did shed in college, though, was my crippling struggle with anxiety.  In high school, I was fearful of anything and everything.  I hated trying new things, and the word “adventure” signified the worst possible idea anyone could have.  Now I wake up asking God to lead me in this grand adventure called life.

To celebrate my freedom from anxious control of my life, I traveled alone to meet Cassie in Sweden (and journey on to Scotland)1082148_10200422205819771_1726705821_o while she lived there for over a year.  I had never traveled outside of the continent, and I was nervous to say the least.  However, experiencing a new culture with amazing people, food, and sights was life-changing.  This was something high-school me would have never predicted Cassie and I would check-off as a pair, at least not without first getting permission from our parents and a lengthy list of directions from her father.

My family has also undergone restructuring.  I couldn’t have anticipated the phone call from my dad that signaled years of turmoil and stress between he and my mom.  Having your parents divorce wrecks your heart… even when you’re in your late twenties.  I had to find hope in being anchored to an eternal family with a Heavenly Father who never fails, while finding grace for earthly parents who do.  Those two years stretched me in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.  

Couple handling the stress of my parents with finally processing some intense personal heartache that I had shoved aside for years, and you’ll find the recipe for strength-building.  God utilized these moments to show me my deeply-rooted struggle with people pleasing, and He was kind enough to lead me out of it.  It’s still a struggle, but I’m learning more and more to trust who He says I am, rather than pining for approval from others. 199539_1002877754279_8614_n I guess contentment with not posting anything on Facebook demonstrates that.  One aspect of ice storm 2007 involved documenting every second, I did that weird thing with my eyes hoping it would make me look more candid and appealing (Come on, press that Like button so high school me can feel loved!).  Cassie and I used to pose endless photos and post all of them on Facebook with creative captions… I wanted to be liked.  Recalling this helps me see how far I really have come.

I also own a dog.  Who isn’t a boxer named Elliott. So things change.  Plans change.  Our lives don’t always go how we think they will when we’re high school seniors dreaming about the future during our two weeks off from school (THAT WE DIDN’T HAVE TO MAKE UP).

I couldn’t have predicted this life, and I’m thankful.  

Looking forward to ice-storm 2027!

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

My friend Anna and I have ship-named ourselves A-Squared (A2 for short) because of our uncanny abilities to be thinking/doing/saying the same things at the same time.  We also have odd similarities and quirks and celebrity obsessions.  She is one of the few people I know who also beat the trend for twenty-somethings to be obsessed with Dolly Parton, and we both have the tendency to keep buying a lot of the same clothing item before we realize it (for her, it’s black dresses… for me, it’s denim shirts).  We also share another similar love: Gilmore Girls and all things Lauren Graham.  File_000.pngSo when I got this text from Anna (who tends to know about things years before I do), I drove 40 minutes to the nearest Barnes and Noble to purchase it.  The employee there, a pleasant young dude who was perplexed that the computer said there were 50 copies in the store but were nowhere to be seen, helped me track down a copy straight from a shipment box.  I started reading it while I pumped enough gas to get home.  I laughed out loud multiple times, and I only got through the introduction.

Lauren Graham writes autobiographically in Talking as Fast as I Can to explore a variety of topics relating to her career and thoughts about life.  The book is organized almost like a collection of essays, and lovers of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood will be pleased to find commentary of those experiences embedded throughout.  Graham’s humor and personality shine through her writing, further convincing me we’d be the best of friends.  Her courage to be herself was refreshing, and her unique critique and appreciation of Hollywood norms were also refreshing in a fast-paced, Snap-driven, show-me-the-best-side-of-yourself world.

Superlative Size Up

Best Author Asides
Lauren (oh, look at me referring to by her by first name, as if we’re friends, without even thinking about it.  Also… do you see what I’m doing here?)  includes commentary to her commentary with hilarious asides!  I think it is in these moments that her humor and personality really come through in the writing.  It makes you, as the reader, feel like you’re sitting down for coffee and really hearing the thoughts as they come to her, laughing as she tries to remember what she was actually trying to tell you.  You don’t care, because the aside became better than the main point anyway.  

Most Endearing Alter-Ego
Some of my friends say I’m like a grandma.  Turns out, I’m not the only one.  Lauren Graham spends an entire chapter exploring Old Lady Jackson, her more rigid, concerned alter-ego.  Sure, Graham is a hip TV star many people look up to, but she’s also afraid of the “old tindernet” and is worried about your tattoo choices.  I’ll admit, for one whole paragraph, I imagined she was sitting on the couch right next to me, ready to swat me if I didn’t take her advice.

Go buy Lauren Graham’s book, Talking as Fast as I Can, asap–and not on the Kindle version (the cover’s too cool to not own it in the flesh, and Old Lady Jackson would just be disappointed for you reading her advice on a blasted screen when she took the time to write it by hand).

Read my review of The Serpent King for another great book recommendation!