Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grad School makes me wish I was a Freshman

My dad actually had me up on his shoulders for the pic before a Badger Football game

Ramen noodles
Energy drinks for finals
Library study sessions
Pictures with Bucky
Copious amounts of college apparel

I'm starting grad school (online) in a few weeks and I couldn't help but reminisce over all the fun times that I had in college.  If you have friends that have gone to Madison, I'm sure you've heard them talk about in length, but I love my alma mater.  It's not just the school, the entire city is so charming and relatable that you easily fall in love with it.  I wish I had more time there.  I was crazy involved on campus but there are still so many opportunities and things that I wish I had explored.  So as I approach the very "grown-up" aspect of starting grad school at Liberty University, I thought about what I would say to my college self now as an Air Force Officer and over a year since I graduated.

Dear Kim,

Welcome to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the best schools in the country.  You are about to have a blast and half here and I so wish I could be the big sister that guides you through all of it.  So this letter to myself will just have to do. 

Freshman year is an exciting time.  Mom will send you to college with way too much stuff and way too many clothes.  Less is more sweetheart and your freshman roommate will thank you.   You won't make the marching band during the first week of being on campus but that's OK because right after you find out, you got a bid into Theta and you're about to meet some of the greatest ladies that will help influence your college career.  The guy you're dating is actually a terrible boyfriend.  Like Dad said, if he really liked you he would move mountains to be with you.  Be single and don't be attached to that one specific guy.  Break up and don't worry because he'll mature and you'll be friends later on. 

Make sure you study and also drop fricken Philosophy 101.  You will hate the class despite whatever the SOAR registration guy suggested to you and you also won't be pre-Business.  The only good thing that came from that class was meeting your friend Jon, but other than that you need to drop that class.  On that note- it's ok to drop classes.  That's another thing you'll be worried about- quitting things you've started.  That doesn't count in this situation. You are paying for the course and if you don't like the instructor, TA, or how it's being taught- change the class ASAP.  Change your major and get out of having Philosophy, Math, and Econ all in the same semester.  That was a no good, very bad idea.  After one of your infuriating math classes, you will decide to meet with a guidance counselor who will help guide you into the Journalism School and that is a way better fit.  You will love it more than you know and it will leave a lasting impression.  If you don't heed these words, you'll be making up for it as you try to raise your GPA for the rest of your college experience. 

Do your readings and don't slack off just because you want to go out on the weekends or like I said above, you hate the class.  This is incredibly important, especially during your freshman and sophomore years.  More than one exam relied a little too much on the readings and a lot less on the lectures.  This will catch you off guard and your exam grades will suffer.  Make sure you make academics a top priority and don't waste too much energy on the guys there because you don't end up marrying a guy from college anyways.

Speaking of that you're going to date a lot of mediocre guys.  Yes, I know they're very attractive and successful in their college careers, but they're not good men.  Hometown guy that you meet while working together lifeguarding is going to wreak havoc on your heart when he cheats on you.  He's a key player in your life story because this relationship will become the fodder for all the excuses to date very specific, lousy guys.  You accept the relationship you think you deserve and you deserve a lot better.  Everything is going to work out.  Don't date guys for the sake of dating because you're going to be introduced into the very harsh reality that what seems good on paper (or while he is sober) is actually a pretty terrible boyfriend.  Also don't date a football player for the sake of dating a Badger football player.  You're in love with the school, the city, and its people.  That one guy does not encompass all of that and that's way too much to put on one guy from Texas.  Be friends, don't date.  That relationship, I can promise you, is just going to make you feel less than you deserve.  Don't do that to yourself.

Your junior and senior year, you're going to focus on academics and work a lot (get it girl!). However, don't sacrifice your personal relationships.  Being a leader in your sorority will become harder and at one point during your senior year you aren't involved at all.  You'll regret this because you will miss your sisters.  You're going to miss hanging out in the lounge, watching movies, eating chocolate and ice cream together, and getting ready to go out together.  Don't let being married change that in you.

Speaking of being get married!  He's a pretty swell guy and if I told my freshman self who it was, you would never believe me.  So, I won't say much but you're going to know when you start dating that he's the one.  You're also going to get a lot of criticism about getting married while in college and things will change dramatically.  I don't think I can give you too much advice on it, because I don't have any.  That situation played exactly how I believe God intended it to and everything worked out. 

My biggest piece of advice is to work hard and enjoy it all.  Spoiler alert, you don't get the Air Force job you were recruited into ROTC for and I'm telling you now that you haven't spent enough time on that gorgeous terrace.  Learn how to sail on Lake Mendota and go skinny dipping more often.  Build up those relationships with your friends because you're going to miss them more than you know when you all are spread across the country.  Enjoy every football game, every bratwurst, every piece of college apparel, every memory that you make.  Walking across the stage as you graduate and even more so as you commission into the Air Force are going to be amazing moments that will forever be engrained in your mind. For having thought that you were going to the University of Central Florida and changing your mind at the last minute, you made a great choice.

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Read the Start to Iliana and Luke (1)

 Remember back in 4th grade when you got to write stories for fun? Well I'm back to that point :)
After much deliberation, I've decided to share this series with all of you because it's for fun, good practice, and I could use some good critiques.  I haven't written in a while so hopefully it's not awful.

Luke isn't the typical Big 10 football player and he struggles with the dynamic of keeping up appearances and maintaining the money for tuition until he can hopefully earn a scholarship spot. Iliana is completely enamored with the college lifestyle. Engaged in sorority life and classes, she thinks life is ideal...apart from her struggling love life which she manages to ignore through weekend parties and socials. When the two meet, their personal stories collide as they figure out their journeys to happiness and prosperity.

This guy in front of me made me think I was at Disney World.  It was painfully evident that our grad student T.A. was ready to mold young minds, whether we were willing or not.  He kept erasing things on the whiteboard, only to re-write them, and checked to make sure that each desk had a copy of his syllabus/expectations manual.  Whenever he made eye contact with a student, his eyes would light up and it seemed like he was about to engage in conversation but he just stood there, staring.  Thank God I was in a fairy tale class.  But seriously it's the study of Hans Christian Andersen and everyone was telling me take the class.  I figured that it sounded interesting enough.  That, combined with its rumored simplicity, was clutch for the season. Last year I worked my ass off as a redshirt and my mom was always chirping in my ear about the importance of education, just in case this whole "walk-on" deal didn't work in my favor. She didn't have to tell me twice.  I was hustling at every practice, taking advantage of every opportunity to get the coach's attention, and just doing my best to not suck.  My thoughts were interrupted as something slammed into the side of my face and my books were shifted on my desk.

"Jesus Christ!"
"Ohmygosh, I am so sorry! I was just trying to get by and my bag, my bag got in the way."

I looked up to first see a large tote bag in Greek letters as the main culprit that was way overstuffed and its owner was shifting her black framed glasses.  She had a good five minutes before the discussion started but it was apparent that she had been running late or was really out of shape.  She gave me a pleading smile and I just shrugged as she shifted towards the front of the room.  There were plenty of open desks and of course, the first couple rows were left empty, kind of like a buffer between the students and the T.A.'s enthusiasm.  However, there she went, right to the front left corner seat.  Overachiever, I thought.  My buddy Brad hustled into the room to grab the seat next to me.  Boasting a fullride right out of Florida, Brad loved football.  Although Brad's a good friend of mine, I couldn't help but loathe the kid at times.  Call it a chip on my shoulder or whatever, but he got through high school with mediocre grades and screwing around all the way up until graduation (literally) only to earn a full ride at UW.  A full fricken ride.  My dad always told me that my work ethic and drive would always pay off but sitting next to a kid who had a trading card with his face on it since he was a freshman made it difficult to see the bigger goal.

My pity party was soon interrupted by the the guy in the front introducing himself.

"Hi everyone! My name is Greg.  I will by your T.A. for Lit 110 and I'm really looking forward to this semester.  It's a challenging course, despite the rumors."  Greg chuckled to himself as a bunch of students smirked.  "See the thing is, you have to do the readings.  If you don't read the stories and attend lecture, you're well, well you're screwed.  I'm warning you now in case some of you thought this would be a cake walk.  I know it's the second day of classes, but if you already know of any class conflicts, yes I'm looking at you athletes, please bring those to me at the end of class."
Fuck was the first thing that came to mind as my bag slammed into Luke Wyatt's head.  I may have just injured one of our football players.  Holy mother of God this is bad news.  I pictured a mob of angry students carrying my body to the stadium as a sacrifice.  Luckily, Luke's a big guy and I managed to stutter out some semblance of an apology as I scanned the room for a seat.  I was mortified and I just really needed to get away from the jock corner.  In every discussion I had, there was a jock corner where athletes from the "big sports" all gathered together. It was like Darwin's Theory, their athleticism and beauty were magnets for each other.  Great an open seat up front.  I had this thing where no matter if it was a lecture hall or dicussion I sat up front.  For one thing, you had great eye contact with the professor, were forced to not mess around on Facebook, and it made large lectures or weird spaces where you injure football players, seem less intimidating. 
I immediately recognized Greg, a grad student who had a thing for my older sorority sister, Allie.  They met at a tapas bar downtown and he's had a thing for her ever since.  I quickly sent Allie a text, "guess who's my T.A. for Lit 110?!"  I silenced my phone, took out my laptop and quickly surveyed the syllabus set on the desk.  You know you're a nerd when you get excited about the first few days of class and a new syllabus.  I don't know what it is but it just gets me excited, but then again I love being in college. 
After Greg's introduction, he asked the discussion group to introduce themselves.  As this was the second day of classes, I had a good template in the back of my head for this kind of thing and of course, I had to go first.  As I stood up and turned around, I realized that no one sat in the row behind me, great. 
"Hi, my name Iliana but most people call me Illy.  Um some random facts, I'm a Comm Arts major but I'm hoping to get into the Journalism School.  I'm also in the Air Force ROTC program here.  I was recruited for nursing originally, but changed my mind.  I'm also in a sorority and whatwas the last thing? Oh, my expectations for the course.  Well I, uh, I guess I'm just excited to hear the origins and the original stories that the fairy tales we hear today come from.  I've always been a fan of Disney movies but we all know that they're highly unrealistic, plus the original stories usually teach darker lessons."
I sat down and tried to angle myself in my seat so I could listen to the other students.  Whenever intros hit the jock corner, it can get dicey.  Like when it became Brad Seevers' turn and he managed a name, that he's a football player, and added a head nod kind of like a silent wassup bra. Promising.  Then it was Luke Wyatt's turn and I realized how cute he was up close, you know, when I'm not annihilating him with my bag.  This is the moment when you realize that glasses, a messy bun, zero make-up, and the obligatory pair of yoga pants might not have been the best option.  Unlike Brad, Luke stood up.
"Hi guys, my name's Luke. I'm from Southeastern Wisconsin, from a suburb of Milwaukee.  I'm kind of all over the place with my major but I didn't like the prereqs for the Business School, so I guess I'm looking at Comm Arts as well."  He gave a head nod towards me and continued.  "In terms of hobbies, I love football and basically playing sports in general.  I hope this class will be fun, I'll get to meet some folks, and it'll be a great boost on the good ol' GPA."  The class chuckled at the last remark and Greg couldn't help but smile.
The rest of the class introduced themselves and we soon found it to be 12:45.  I headed out for my next class, which was a small group on gender roles. Realizing that I would be a hot mess in the class without sustenance, I headed to a shoppette for a bagel and juice.  Of course, Luke Wyatt is walking behind me the entire way.  Can't this kid give me a break?  He must know how embarrassed I am.  I walked faster and breathed a sigh of relief as he took a left turn.  Girlfriend you are paranoid. He was just heading to class.  I bought my snacks and headed to Lurcher Hall.  As I walked up the stairs and into class, there he was, Luke Wyatt.  

If you'd like to keep reading the series, you can find more on my Wattpad account.  I highly suggest checking out the other stories there and if you're a writer, it's a good place to share your work.

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bringing Life to Iliana and Luke

While on alert and reading The Alchemist, I had a great storyline idea.  It stuck with me so much that I couldn't even fall asleep without thinking about it.  I've decided to write this story as a series of posts up on The Simplicity and if you're interested, you can follow along with the weekly segments.

In a fictional story that's got a sprinkling of my own life experiences, I'll be writing about two characters, Iliana and Luke. Both are college students, and for the time being they attend UW-Madison just because it's my alma mater and the school I have the most familiarity with.  I'm excited to dive into these characters and kind of bring life to them.  Tentatively, Iliana is a college sophomore and Luke is a junior who also is a college football player.  There's a dynamic between them that will explore stereotypes, social norms, expectations, and love at a point where you're cultivating relationships to mean more.  I'm hoping that people will enjoy the story and come back for more.  I'm also hoping that it doesn't fizzle out. Prayers people! :)

Check back for the first segment!

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Augustmas...a Preview

July 25th marked "Christmas in July" and got me all kinds of excited for our Augustmas party.  Inspired by Ruthie Hart's Augustmas celebration (this year in July) and Jessica's drinking game, Ryan and I are putting together an Augustmas party for our friends here in good ol' Montana.  Being in the military, Christmas is a tricky time to get together because a lot of people are heading home (much like the rest of the U.S.) but with different sets of leave, it can be hard to get people together.  So we're putting together an Augustmas party to get into the holiday spirit a little bit early.

Also Honey Boo Boo, I can't get enough of that show and their Christmas in July for charity was too cute!

Here is some of the inspiration:

ugly sweater party
Who doesn't love a funny take on Christmas traditions?  After telling our friends that we were thinking of having an Augustmas party, many said that they needed to call their parents back home and have their "ugly Christmas sweaters" mailed in.  I get so excited when people go all out for themed parties!
Kitchen Christmas decoration
Source via Cottage Dreams

I plan on using our already existing Christmas decorations and maybe borrowing a few more from friends.  I think by adding simple little details around our living room and kitchen it can definitely create a Christmas feel.
Christmas pillow
Source via Vintage Charm Restored

I'm planning playing plenty of Michael Buble and Mariah Carey as well as all of the classics.  With a Christmas Pandora station in the background, guests can mingle around the room.
101 Ideas...
 The blog, Baby Rabies, hosts an inappropriate Elf on the Shelf every year and I was thinking of using some of those photos or recreating them myself to create fun ice breaker opportunities around the house.  

From this last year's contest :)

Add A Little Jingle and Pop of Color to Your Stemware - do for breakfast on Christmas Eve or Day
Source via Hallelujah by Holly
 I cannot get enough details when it comes to anything with event planning.  I'm definitely planning on adding jingle bells and ribbons to a ton of things :)
Block Nativity Set
Source via Ginger Snap Crafts
 I wanted to make this Nativity Scene last year but never got to it.  She used a Silhouette Cameo, I believe, to make this, but I think it can also be accomplished through free-hand (my normal go-to).
Peppermint Bark Snowflakes-so easy to make!!
Source via Once Upon a Plate
Oh the food and desserts! I'm planning on having a pot luck of sorts and asking guests to add an element of Christmas fun to it.  I'm also planning on adding a white elephant gift exchange to see what people have hanging around when it's not the holidays :P
north pole cupcakes
Source via Tiny White Daisies
We'll definitely throw in a Christmas movie and I'm sure the Christmas Vacation drinking game will come in handy ;)
Do you celebrate Christmas in July or Augustmas?  What are some of your favorite silly traditions?
If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
  photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Friday, July 26, 2013

What we can learn from empowerment through degrading music

Chelsea Fagan recently wrote an article on Thought Catalog about how she is empowered by music that degrades women.  I could totally relate to the article, however, I still respectfully disagree with many of her arguments.  What I noticed first and foremost was that most her arguments surrounded on dancing at a club scene and she actually says that she never pays attention to the lyrics.  Key phrase their she never pays attention to the lyrics

I felt particularly compelled to write this post because after I wrote my own piece on "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, I had a few ladies ask me to write about feeling conflicted.  I love music and often times the music that I feel compelled to dance to, especially while in college had tons of vulgarity.  Fagan could definitely relate, as one her arguments stated this as almost like a celebration of the female form.
These songs, the ones we grow up dancing to, whose vulgar lyrics we barely even pay attention to, are an almost circus-like celebration of the hypnotic beauty of the female form. In that moment, so many of the girls on the dance floor were laughing and dancing together, feeling like the “sexy bitch” in the song and not finding it the least bit insulting.
I would ask Fagan to explore that concept further.  Why are these young women not insulted?  Why do we keep dancing to music that not only degrades women but is found to be acceptable?  I think it all surrounds that idea of what is and is not acceptable.  What attracted me to the song, "Blurred Lines" was the beat.  It's incredibly catchy and does a great job of disguising lines like T.I.'s third verse which contains violent, sexual language.  Similar concepts are found all throughout society.  In shopping for things for my bestie's Bachelorette Party, I came across so many things that were labeled "Bachelorette Bitches," "Bachelorette Sluts," "Bachelorette Teases."  As a celebration about women  before getting married, I found it very misleading.  I don't want to put too much judgment here but I don't think that's ok.  In college, you could find me and my sorority sisters chanting "here are my bitches" all of the time, usually under the influence of alcohol.  However, why did I find this ok?  I suppose women find it as a way to empower themselves in a culture that was created by men.  Now you might directly say this is why I say x, y, and z, but when you hear it enough and change the tone everything seems okay.  Typically "bitch," "cunt," "slut," etc. are used as a way to smack a girl down verbally.  It's not a term of endearment yet as a way to empower ourselves, you can hear numerous girls using it on the daily. 

I do think that Fagan is onto something with her reference of dancing to this music as a "circus-like celebration of the hypnotic beauty of the female form."  However, would we feel just as sensual and sexy without words like "bitch" and phrases like "tear that ass," interwoven throughout verses?  I would argue yes, we would feel just as sensual and seductive without degrading terminology.  In fact we would own it because my argument is that regardless of the music playing, if a woman feels confident in herself, she'll work it.  What Fagan doesn't explore is the violence and history behind these words.  As much as I want to applaud women for feeling sexy regardless of the environment or what music, media, magazines, etc. presents them, I think this is actually problematic.  To me it seems like Fagan is providing a cop out.  Regardless of how inappropriate music artists are with their song lyrics, we should still dance because dancing makes us feel sexy.  What?
The points of incoherence to which our sexuality and femininity can drive musicians and artists is simply astounding, and the songs which portray men as completely stupefied by the booty shaking in front of them, seem to reflect more poorly on the men for whom they speak than anything else. To take the lyrics in this song, to own them completely and say to oneself as a woman, “Yes, we are sexy and appealing. You do wish you could be with us. And maybe, if you play your cards right and we decide we like you, we’ll let it happen” is an experience that I and I believe many other women find incredibly empowering.
Something about this just doesn't sit right with me.  I'll try my best to explain why but I think it's just the concept that seems like it's straight from the 50s.  A theme of men are sexual hunters and women need to control themselves because men simply can't.  Nothing about this sits well me and this thought process still remains today.  What I found particularly amusing is that Fagan changes the lyrics.  No where are you going to find a rap artist that says she is sexually appealing and you're most definitely not seeing lyrics that say if I play my cards right and there is consent, we might have the opportunity to spend more time together.  When pigs fly Fagan, that's not what music artists are saying.  It's usually quite violent or calling women a multitude of names. 

In the comments, I saw over and over again people using the argument that people who aren't comfortable with themselves or their sexuality are the only ones who find this as a problem.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I'm incredible comfortable with myself as a woman and with my sexuality.  I'm a staunch feminist who is an advocate for open-minded and open-conversation sexual health education.  So when I hear that argument, all that keeps running in my mind is that you as a person are excusing a violent and demeaning use of lyrics as acceptable.  When a young girl is growing up in a society, she should have the choice to embrace her individual sexuality.  Maybe she feels empowered by the word cunt or maybe she feels empowered when she feels like a goddess.  Regardless, she shouldn't feel that being called a bitch or a slut should be equated to her being in charge of her sexuality.  Words that are used over and over again to demean women shouldn't be seen as a term of endearment when they're still used in violence against women. 

I'm all for women embracing their sexuality, I think it's an important aspect for life.  But I honestly feel like Fagan's article is showing how people choose to ignorant towards greater societal issues because ignorance is bliss.

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Adopt-a-Monster Party

I have this knack for coming across ideas that are really meant for parents with small children.  However, the ideas are just too darn cute so I find ways to spin them so that young 20-somethings like myself and their spouses or significant others can also enjoy them.  I was browsing through Etsy when I saw a printable for an Adopt-a-Monster and thought it would be a really cute party theme.  Low-and-behold, I check out Pinterest and there are so many ideas! With so many cute and unique party elements, I definitely think I'm going to make this into this year's Halloween party.  After seeing Jessica's post on GAP's Halloween preview, I knew it was a sign to share my holiday spirit (even if it's months in advance).

how to make sock monsters

These little guys were a huge inspiration for the idea.  Can you imagine walking into a party and seeing these little guys chilling in a basket? Ah-fricken-dorable!
 These guys are super easy to make and there are tons of variations.

Cute DIY Toys
CrochetConcupiscence's post on Knitting & Crochet | Latest updates on Sulia

Now moving onto decor, I really want it to look comical.

Source via LoveNestBoutique on Etsy

Adorable monster party!
monster cupcakes
Source via SaucyDragonfly on Flickr
Halloween Candy Monster Kabobs for Party Favors

Monster Head Cake Pop Stand
Jello Jar Monsters...Cute for Halloween!
Source via Echoes of Laughter
absolutely stunning spooky cupcakery party.  Well worth clicking through to see all the gorgeous photos
decorate your from entry way as a monster for halloween!

My goal is to have all of the young adults dress up as monsters.  With Halloween being very much oriented towards inappropriate, cheap, or scandalous costumes, I think this might be a nice break from that.  With the challenge of using whatever you own to make your costume, I'm hoping guests will arrive looking completely ridiculous and have a great time.
If you'd like more ideas, visit my Pinterest board, Hostess with the Mostest
If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creating a Pinterest Extraordinaire Partner

Through a sweaty battle with the stair climber, I read Glennon's words on how she chose to communicate for effectively with her spouse Craig and it got me to thinking- am I communicating effectively with my partner? 

In Glennon's case, it was her birthday and as she lay in bed with anticipation for the day's excitement, it quickly dawned on her that the heaps of balloons and birthday cake were not happening.  She soon became upset and called her husband to scratch that day as her birthday and start all over again the next...kind of like a re-do.  When I first read that, I thought, "wow that sounds bratty." I mean, the world still turns regardless if it's your birthday or not.  However, Glennon took the time to explain to her husband how she grew up celebrating special occasions like birthdays.  Like me, Glennon takes birthdays and holidays seriously.  It's a time for celebration, but unlike Glennon, if the balloons and cake were forgotton, I would have normally let it slide. 

My spouse, Ryan, is not a romantic guy.  That very sentence is uttered so much in my life, it's kind of become a marriage slogan.  But it's true.  He's not a romantic guy and he also didn't grow up celebrating the way that I did.  I LOVE to throw themed parties.  I'm a details kind of gal, so any opportunity in which I can gather friends and stick them in themed sweaters is a good time to me.  However, Ryan never really grew up like that.  This would come to play in several scenarios in our young marriage.  You may have even read about our 2nd wedding anniversary fiasco.  I was so irate with him for eating our anniversary dinner without me that I walked up the stairs and cried for a little bit.  For some it may sound silly, but waves of disappointment came over me.  So when I read that chapter in Glennon's book, I realized that she may be onto something.

My spouse is not a mind reader.  I can't possibly put that expectation on him because it's too big of a burden.  He is however a kind and thoughtful man who loves me.  Ryan is always the first to admit that he appreciates some direction in surprising me or putting together an event.  So in Glennon's chapter when she lays out her expectations, as silly as it may have sounded to the reader, made a lot of sense to her husband and also to me.  The fact of the matter is that you can't expect flowers, candles, cake, and balloons if you don't express that.  My husband isn't going to magically turn into Pinterest husband extraordinaire overnight or on his own.  It forced me to reflect on all of the times that I've created high expectations for him without any guidance or direction.  Like when I was disappointed with Christmas because we weren't with family that year.  If I can't communicate that with him and figure out ways to combat sadness or disappointment, imagine how he feels.  He's also disappointed because he doesn't want me to be upset and then he feels like he has failed me.  All saddening emotions that could have been avoided through better communication.

Have you ever gone through this with your partner?  What things did you find most effective in helping build your communication?
post signature

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Letting a Blog Breathe (Part I)

I've had this post dancing in my head for months now and it's going to be segmented into parts.  I have casually made mentions to specific bloggers, whom I admire, that qualities of their writing, posts, and their values that they express are aspects that I love about their blogs.  There's a sense of genuineness about certain blogs that stays with you.  It makes you want to follow them on Twitter and see their life through images on Instagram.  Their posts are a friendly invitation for people to get to know them better.  These are my favorite kind of blogs and have become a part of my blogging research.  This type of research has come from months of writing, dabbling in sponsorships, seeing my readership exceed 100 people, and coming to terms with being competitive in this blogging community.

For me, blogging has always been personal and about sharing.  Not everyone shares in this type of expectation, but that's ok.  There's a certain sense of delight I get when I come across a blog that is so open, fresh, and you could just fall in love with its author because she (or he) feels like a best-friend.  There was a point of frustration that came from months of build-up and you may have read some of those posts.  It was a breaking point that involved several realizations.  The first is that building up a readership without sponsoring other blogs and giveaways would be difficult.  It is hard to reach other people without putting in monetary value.  The good thing is that many bloggers seek out similar blogs in co-sponsorship for giveaways so if you like X Blogger, you'll probably like Y and Z as well.  However, for me that route doesn't feel like a good fit.  I've sponsored many blogs before but in order to receive real results from sponsorship, you need direct interaction with the host blogger.  That means they're tweeting about your posts, sharing information on you, having you as a guest post, etc.  The problem with that is those sponsorships are usually quite expensive.  If you don't see the results, you have to try again and try with other bloggers, which means more $$. 

As much as I love blogging, I can't justify putting in that much money each time to build up my readership.  It takes a toll on your budget and for some folks that's something worth investing, but for me I've also taken into consideration the state of the blogging community.  This is a fun place to be.  You have a variety of personalities that are fun, sassy, crafty, and some that make me wish Ryan and I were having a baby already.  Whatever you're looking for, you can find a blog to fit your needs.  However, I have noticed how financially driven it is and in order to be competitive with a large readership, you need to invest in it.  It's a circle where $ponsorship -> gain readers -> requires more blog posts (usually) -> review and giveaway offers -> more readers and it continues where you must feed the process in order for it to work.  It's not like I can invest in one or two, medium to large scale blogs, but I would need to invest in several and over several months.  Now that's a risk in which you need to have a secure relationship with the host blogger to ensure that you're getting what you've paid for and that you're receiving the results, either in page views or increase in readership.  There is always a button swap opportunity, however, I've found that does nothing.  In order to value your investment, you need that interaction and direct contact with their readership, not just standing idly in the sidebar.  That's just the first step to build up the numbers.  I could also invest in a giveaway and I am always appreciative of the offers to be a part of one, but at this time it's not for me.  Not that I don't like a giveaway, because I do, but at this point I've made a few decisions and I'll discuss those below. 

I've scaled back on my blog posts and their frequency because I want to focus on living.  I used to be so motivated to get those readership numbers up but I would rather have people here that want to read about the topics I've chosen and provide feedback.  Who doesn't love comments, but it's so much more than that.  I love the interaction, discussion, and dialogue.  Send me an e-mail, or comment on Instagram- I love that stuff.  For me, scaling back provides the opportunity to create quality blog posts on topics that I am not just interested in, but am passionate about.  Some things will be funny, random, and just fluff but I won't feel pressured to crank out 5 posts a week to build up readership.  Instead, I'm hoping that folks will have the chance to sit down with my posts and enjoy them, have time to catch up with me, and not feel pressured to speed read through them.  I've covered it before, so I won't dwell on it now, but I value quality blog posts.  I feel like there's an art to letting a blog breath; to give its readers time to actually enjoy the post instead of having to sacrifice quality for a need to keep spitting them out.  I'm almost certain that it takes time and experience to learn this and I'm still in the beginning stages.  I feel that by living, you maintain the integrity and quality of your posts- so that you don't have me getting in a tizzy over a glasses review by someone who doesn't wear glasses.  That point in the time, I was frustrated because I felt that there were so many aspects of this community that were either narcissistic or greedy.  But for me, I know that I am different than other people.  I'm a fun person, but I can also be very serious and I value honesty and integrity.  When I consistently saw lapses in both of these, I knew it was time for me to change my outlook on blogging and revamp my style to ensure I stay true to what I value.  This is when that blogging research came in and I found blogs that I just love.  I've deleted several and the main observation I've made is that we're just living two completely different lives or at two different points in our lives.  I may end up following those blogs again some day but at this point, I really like the direction I'm going in.

I want to share more about my life, what I value, and topics that I'm passionate about.  Jessica and I started a series about women because women's issues are important to us and we wanted to give them a personal spin.  This has always been an avenue for me to share and I want to show what life in Montana has been like and my thoughts on things going on that are affecting other folks.  Not only do I want to share more here, but I want to start a trend or a movement of sorts where when we see a post we like or comment on, that we share it.  That's the original concept of word-of-mouth.  If I like a post, I want to share it with others, not because it's an option in a giveaway, but because I think others would appreciate it.  Speaking of word-of-mouth, when it comes to reviews I stay with my policy that if I don't have experience with the product or I don't think it would truly benefit my readers, I'm not going to review it.  I have been in a position where companies have offered me something to review, but as a smaller blogger, it's usually "can you share this product in a blog post?" and I never actually get to review the product.  Whenever that happens, I explain to the company my stance on sharing products on my blog.  I don't have to receive free products to share them on my blog, in fact many of the reviews or things I even share on Instagram are things that I picked up and really liked.  I like to share things that have worked for me because I think others will like it too, but I value my integrity with these types of reviews and if you see something here, you're getting an honest review.  Not straight out of the box and I'm seeing it for the first time, but tried and tested.  The most recent one was with Shutterfly and instead of doing a review on phone cases, we found an alternative with products that I have used and chosen on my own.  That review will be on using Shutterfly for digital Project Life and I can't wait to talk more about it.  Documenting my life through this blog, writing, and pictures has been very important to me. I take pictures almost everyday through Instagram, but I want to take more everyday photos using my DSLR and point and shoot.  I need create realistic goals and I can't wait to have those down in writing to share with you. 

I've found blogs that to me are phenomenal and inspirational.  They could have thousands of followers or a couple hundred, but they have such charm and charisma. I plan on sharing them in Part II.  There are trends with what I like to follow but I also feel like it's created a formula in which I can find more blogs that I'm interested in.  Look for more of this in Part II.

If you like what you read, please feel free to share using the social media icons below or leaving me a comment.  Don't forget to sign up for the charm swap if you're interested in learning and sharing in the stories of other great women.  
post signature

Monday, July 15, 2013

Charmed Life Registration

Inspired by Kelle Hampton, author of the blog, Enjoying the Small Things, and the book, Bloom, we have a swap opportunity involving charms.  For her birthday she had all of her lady friends celebrate the lives of women by bringing a charm to her birthday party to swap.
So, a couple weeks ago, Heidi made plans and called our friend who owns a restaurant while I sent out an e-mail and asked The Net to come. I asked each woman to bring a charm--something that would be given to another woman that night. Any charm that represented the celebration and power of women--a favorite memory, a word of advice, a symbol of strength. It was a stretch, sure, and could damn near head down the cheesy "Wind Beneath my Wings" road, but maybe...just would be magic.
There was laughter and bruschetta and peach fizzy drinks named after my girl. There was wild, good energy that wafted through the room like the first spring breeze that sweeps through open windows. And slowly, chairs gathered. First a few, then a few more. Bodies crowded, quilts spread out, and soon, there it beautiful circle. No Wind Beneath my Wings cue or all-call to prick fingers and share blood. It happened, just like that.

"Look, it's happening," Heidi says.

"I's just like I imagined," I replied.

And the rest of the night was magic. The Net at its finest.

We shared, until 2 in the morning, our pains, our joys, our challenges. We cheered each other on. We cried and hugged and thanked each other for being there. We said "this is incredible" and "how come we don't do this more often?" and inside we knew it was really special, meant to be saved for moments like this.

There is no way to really explain what happened in that room. The way each woman told her story. The way everyone listened. The way it seemed every charm was hand-picked for its recipient. The way I didn't want the night to end.

They drew names out of a hat and shared why they chose a specific charm to represent their life.  Each woman carried a sentimental part of a woman's life, symbolized in those charms.  I absolutely love this idea and wanted to bring it to the blogging community.  Therefore sign-ups to be a part of this beautiful moment will start Thursday, July 15th.  We're going to have two-three writing challenges of sorts that you can choose to be a part of, but don't feel obligated to and the swap will consist of a charm under $20 (most are like $5) and a card.  I am so excited about this and I hope that if you're reading this, you are too!

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="TheSimplicity" width="125" height="120" /></a>

- Be able to respond to e-mails within 48 hours of receipt
- Be able to purchase a charm valued at $20 or less (again, most are like $5)
- Be able to mail the charm and a card to your partner

Registration starts the 15th and runs for 2 weeks (July 29th)!

post signature

Friday, July 12, 2013

Robin Thicke creates "blurred lines"

Thanks for the second hand smoke Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke's new song is blowing up the billboards with a steadfast hold on the number one position.  Its melody is incredibly catchy and quickly became one of my favorite songs, especially with the falsetto hook of OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you//But you're an animal, baby it's in your nature. It's incredibly hot and sassy, however, I quickly became turned off when I paid more attention to the lyrics.  Thicke is known for being a hypersexualized artist.  His crooning voice is used as an analogy for seduction and their are numerous references to his last name and a certain appendage on his body.  It gives him this bubble where he can say and do whatever he damn well pleases when it comes to referencing sex.

What's complicated about Thicke's song is that it so accurately describes what is considered ok within the relationship scene.  The overall message of "Blurred Lines" is that Thicke sees a woman that he wants to sleep with and he considers her image to be that of a "good girl."  What Thicke dances around in his lyrics is that the woman he continually references never says no but the background lyrics continue to lure the woman to Thicke with a repetitive chant of, you know you want it.  After continued repeats of those lyrics, you get Can't let it get past me//You're far from plastic//Talk about getting blasted//I hate these blurred lines.  So regardless of what this woman is saying, which the listener can presume is her denying his advances, he continually tries to get her to commit to some type of sexual act.  In the second verse, Thicke compliments the woman on her figure by the type of jeans she's wearing but it's quickly followed by you're the hottest bitch in this place.  I'm curious to know if Thicke actually feels that confident in using that line on a woman.  As a young woman, I feel like that remark would quickly receive a "my friends are calling me" type of comment or a slap in the face, depending on its delivery.   He was quick to defend himself in many interviews, saying that he's been in love with the same woman [his wife] since high school, but would he ever treat his wife like this?  

Lyrical genius tips its hat to T.I.'s third verse with a continuation of referring to women as bitches, referencing sexual acts of pulling her hair and smacking her ass, and the cake topper, I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.  Yep, he's a charmer.  The really gross reality is that as far fetched as it sounds, these type of lyrics and how artists/actors hold themselves does reflect on society.  You would think that there would be enough of a distance between the dreamworld of the music industry and the reality of regular life.  However, in college I had a guy text me those exact words and I'm not talking about smacking my ass.

What's probably more disturbing is that Robin Thicke has put concepts of what he likes to consider a grey area and masked it in a catchy song.  Relating a song titled "Blurred Lines" to trying to hook up is relating lack of consent as an ok action.  It's gross, creates a really unbalanced dynamic between people, and also creates an unsafe environment.  Cosmopolitan Magazine did something very similar when they created an article about the grey area of rape.  A magazine that heavily tailors to the female-bodied population, they tip toed around a subject that affects 1 in 4 college aged women.  This type of language, lack of discussion, and approval of masochistic behavior only contributes to that culture.  To make matters worse, take a look at the music video.  The female "dancers" are wearing lingerie and what looks like saran wrap.  In the unrated version they're completely naked and in both, they're either sucking their fingers or running their tongue across their teeth.  So Thicke immediately shows that these girls, despite what they're saying, actually really want to get laid and that they're just sending mixed signals.  In many of the articles or interviews discussing the controversy of his lyrics, many men comment on the fact that a woman directed the music video.  I think this point is null and void, 1). it's the music industry 2). there are several women, especially in politics, who don't look out for the needs of other women.  Going back to the mixed signals concept, maybe some ladies like to be teases, but I think perpetuating the notion that a woman is lying when she says "no" is a dangerous and completely unsafe line to cross.  This only contributes to a culture that lets guys like Thicke let it be known that it's ok to demean women, treat them like property, and completely disregard their right to consent.

I brought this up with my husband and we got into a lengthy discussion about it.  It's no hidden truth that when you introduce alcohol or any type of social environment amongst young people, sex can happen (however, alcohol inhibits someone's ability to give consent).  We discussed how alcohol is often present at these events and two drunk people can end up hooking up.  It happens all the time in high school and college-aged folks.  But if a person is saying, I don't want to do X with you, then it's not ok for them to pressure that person.  The problem is that with Thicke's song, it's from his perspective and this woman is a conquest, not a person (And that's why I'm gon' take a good girl).  By holding the #1 spot on the charts, this type of message gets spread to young people.  Now people may be paying attention to lyrics or they may not, but the likelihood of this song getting played at a party is high.  This is exactly the type of environment where Thicke is encouraging behavior that disregards a person's wishes for someone else's selfish desires.  It's not ok and although I don't believe Thicke directly includes drinking alcohol in his song, the lyrics tip dangerously towards the idea that he is going to do whatever it takes to get this woman or to get her to express her "bad girl" side.

With 87,571,401 views on YouTube, I highly doubt that Thicke will feel negative effects.  One of his responses in a GQ article to the song was, "What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women."  When he received criticism and backlash for the song, he responded,
For me it’s about blurring the lines between men and women and how much we’re the same…and then there’s the other side of it which is the blurred lines between a good girl and a bad girl, and even very good girls all have little bad sides to them.
That message only works with my favorite line [the hook that I mentioned earlier] and probably would have been a great song.  However the song that was produced doesn't stick with celebrating sexuality and encouraging a woman to express her desires, it's a song about conquests.  It's very much a machismo perspective, especially with the music video.  The lyrics explicitly objectify women, regardless of how Thicke chooses to rebute the arguments, there's no misinterpretation with that.

Have you heard Thicke's song or read any of the interviews he's been a part of since its release?  What do you think?    

post signature

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Charm Bracelets and The Ladies Room

Jessica, from Living La Vida Holoka, and I have been brainstorming a series of posts that we wanted to cover and have dubbed it "The Ladies Room."  Here we cover everything from our day-to-day lives being someone who runs the world (Queen Beyonce y'all) to issues that affect women on a global scale.  Sometimes the posts will be incredibly entertaining, other times just simply informative. 
Either way I'm really excited about this project and having the opportunity to get to know other ladies out there a little bit better.  If you're interested in writing something along these lines, let us know and we can send you the graphic, plus help spread the word :)

To top it all off, we have a unique swap opportunity that was inspired by Kelle Hampton, author of the blog, Enjoying the Small Things, and the book, Bloom.  In her book, for her birthday she had all of her lady friends celebrate the lives of women by bringing a charm to her birthday party to swap.  
So, a couple weeks ago, Heidi made plans and called our friend who owns a restaurant while I sent out an e-mail and asked The Net to come. I asked each woman to bring a charm--something that would be given to another woman that night. Any charm that represented the celebration and power of women--a favorite memory, a word of advice, a symbol of strength. It was a stretch, sure, and could damn near head down the cheesy "Wind Beneath my Wings" road, but maybe...just would be magic.
There was laughter and bruschetta and peach fizzy drinks named after my girl. There was wild, good energy that wafted through the room like the first spring breeze that sweeps through open windows. And slowly, chairs gathered. First a few, then a few more. Bodies crowded, quilts spread out, and soon, there it beautiful circle. No Wind Beneath my Wings cue or all-call to prick fingers and share blood. It happened, just like that.

"Look, it's happening," Heidi says.

"I's just like I imagined," I replied.

And the rest of the night was magic. The Net at its finest.

We shared, until 2 in the morning, our pains, our joys, our challenges. We cheered each other on. We cried and hugged and thanked each other for being there. We said "this is incredible" and "how come we don't do this more often?" and inside we knew it was really special, meant to be saved for moments like this.

There is no way to really explain what happened in that room. The way each woman told her story. The way everyone listened. The way it seemed every charm was hand-picked for its recipient. The way I didn't want the night to end.

They drew names out of a hat and shared why they chose a specific charm to represent their life.  Each woman carried a sentimental part of a woman's life, symbolized in those charms.  I absolutely love this idea and wanted to bring it to the blogging community.  Therefore sign-ups to be a part of this beautiful moment will start Monday, July 15th.  We're going to have two-three writing challenges of sorts that you can choose to be a part of, but don't feel obligated to and the swap will consist of a charm under $20 (most are like $5) and a card.  Jessica and I are looking forward to seeing how this develops and perhaps we can turn this into a continuing project so that folks can add to their bracelets. I am so excited about this and I hope that if you're reading this, you are too!

post signature

Monday, July 8, 2013

Military Mondays: Transitioning from the Military into a Civilian Job

For the very first Military Monday column, we have Emma from Smile as it Happens, to talk about job opportunities post-military life.

Starting Your Second Career: How to Transition from the Military

Adjusting to civilian life after a career in the military can be a challenge no matter how long you served. You want to find great employment, but you might be overwhelmed especially given the recovering economy. Rest assured that you can find your dream job in the civilian workforce. It will take time, but many employers value the skills and attributes that you learned and developed while in the military. I'm here to debunk four common myths associated with the job hunt so that you enter the civilian workforce with confidence.

Myth #1: I won't be able to get a job doing what I did in the service.
Truth: You have many desirable qualities for employers all over the country. Your dedication, commitment and leadership skills will be valuable assets during your job hunt. If you want to find jobs that specifically speak to your role in the military, then there are tools designed just for that purpose. The Skills Translator feature on allows you to enter specific career information like rank, branch and pay grade to determine your corresponding civilian career.

Myth #2: It's hard to apply for a job and takes too long.
Truth: Technology has streamlined the job application process. Top employers around the country rely on digital application services to make applying easier and much more convenient. Some companies have even partnered with services like JIBE, a mobile recruiting company that lets you upload resumes and supporting documents from your smartphone and connect directly with a company's social media site. You'll be able to find a great job in no time with technology at your side.

Myth #3: Asking questions during an interview is a waste of time.
Truth: At the end of an interview, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. It isn't a trick, and it isn't a waste of time. Keep in mind that you're in control of the situation: You should find out what you can about the company just as they're asking about you. Spend some time researching the company, and ask what you really want to know. Your interviewers will be impressed if they feel that you're genuinely interested in their company.

Myth #4: If I want to start and maintain a successful business, then I'm on my own because there aren't any resources available to me.
Truth: Many veterans choose to start their civilian careers as entrepreneurs, and if you want to branch out and start a business, then you have many options. offers business advice specifically for military veterans. You can find information on financing, marketing, legal forms and a full list of resources on starting and maintaining a successful business. You're not alone when it comes to getting great business advice, and this valuable resource provides comprehensive information.

Emma is a mid 20-something year old with a passion for life, love, fitness, and helping others. She loves to be active and get involved in as many sport and community activities as possible. Emma is currently studying to become a Career & Life Coach, and loves to network with people from around the world! Check out Emma’s blog at!

If you'd like to contribute a post to the Military Mondays column, e-mail me at

post signature

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Semi-Charmed Summer 2013 Book Challenge

From Megan's Blog:

The Semi-Charmed Book Challenge is back for summer 2013! The challenge will follow the same rules as the winter 2013 challenge, and it will run from July 1 to September 30. See below for the full list of rules and categories, and thanks to all my readers who submitted category ideas!

  • The challenge will run from July 1, 2013, to September 30, 2013. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on July 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on September 30 will count.
  • No re-reads (unless specifically stated)! I want you to experience new books with this challenge.
  • Each book must be at least 200 pages long. Audiobooks are fine, as long as the print versions meet the page requirements.
  • A book can only be used for one category. If you want to switch the category later, that's fine, just be sure to account for that in your point total.
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will win a featured/guest post on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. Good luck!

The Challenge:
5 points: Freebie! Read any book you'd like, as long as it follows the above rules. :)
5:  Read a book that is less than 150 pages long. (Yes, this is an exception to the general rules! You're welcome haha.)
10: Read a book with a color in the title. Submitted by Erinn of it's the journey on Twitter.
10: Read a book that is not the first in its series. (And yes, it must be in a series.)
15: Read a book it seems everyone but you has read! Submitted by Brighton of Dear Brighton on Twitter.
15: Read a banned book. (For consistency's sake, the book must be found on one of these lists. See the links in the first paragraph for book lists.)
20: Read a book written by a celebrity. This can be a memoir or a fiction book published by someone who was already famous by another means (e.g. James Franco). Submitted by Brighton of Dear Brighton on Twitter.
20: Read a non-fiction book that is not a memoir. It can be pure non-fiction or narrative non-fiction. Submitted by Blair's Head Band on Twitter.
20: Read a book that takes place in a state you have never been in. If you have been to all 50 states, choose a book that takes place in a country you have never been in. Also do the latter option if you are not American.
25: Read a book that is at least 400 pages long.
25: Read a book with a main character who shares your first name. If you have an uncommon name and really can't find a book, let me know and we can come up with an alternative. :) Submitted by Erinn of it's the journey on Twitter.**
30: Read a book written by an author who was born in or died in your birth year.****
**Edited to add: I've decided to amend this category to allow nicknames of your first name and alternate spellings of your first name. I recognize this category is difficult and I don't want anyone to give up looking! :)
****This category was also amended after the original posting when I discovered too many participants were unable to find an author born in their birth year. This website will help you find authors who were born in or died in a specific year.

How to keep track: Megan will post a check-in on the first day of every month, on which you can comment with your progress. She will also include the scoreboard from the previous month on each check-in post. The first check-in post will be Thursday, August 1. Megan will also host a link-up on Monday, July 1, if anyone wants to share their preliminary reading list for the challenge (see an example post from one of my previous challenges here).

I'll be sure to write up how I'll participate in the challenge very soon!

post signature