What I Learned Freshman Year

I was home schooled from birth through high school. When people would ask me what grade I was in, I would have to think about what number of Amish math book I was on currently and go from there. I had no need to study (because technically I was always at school) and I never took tests. Read a chapter, talk about it, do some math problems, and you’re done. I had never written a paper for a grade, I had only given a speech in my speech class for home school co-op, and I never received a letter grade for anything. Not that my mom was slacking at all, we just didn’t do school like everyone else. I still received a great education and despite my lack of writing research papers and speaking in public, I still learned how to articulate an idea so that others would understand and how to set up an argument that stated what I believed and why. Sure, I don’t know a lot about math, but if you want to talk about classical literature, I’m your girl 😉

The point of all that is to describe to you how under prepared I felt for college. I was doing work for a grade, I had to interact with other students (who weren’t my siblings!), and I took tests for the first time. Some of the things turned out to be the same though. I could wear whatever I wanted to school, I could do homework from my bed, and my notebooks were free for doodling (I’m not the greatest note taker). However, a lot was different and I wasn’t prepared for everything that I came across, so here is a post full of things I learned so you can either laugh at my silly mistakes, or to help prepare yourself for your own freshman year. Enjoy, and good luck!

Freshman Year

Tip 1: Go to class!!

Don’t skip class! In general, each class you skip costs you about $30 or a little more. So before you skip the class so you can hang out outside with your fiance (yes, this is personal experience and we definitely shouldn’t have skipped), evaluate whether that time you gain is worth losing $30 and potentially affecting your grade. Now, there are some exceptions to the “no class skipping” rule. This past semester was the spring semester which meant that there was still a chance for snow a lot of the days. I remember two days in particular where it was snowing so hard that there was no way we could make it to class on time because of having to drive slower and being super careful not to slide off the road. On days like that, it is okay to be late or skip a class altogether. However, it is best to not skip other days because then it doesn’t become a regular thing for you. Professors are way more likely to give you some leeway on assignments if you only miss class once or twice due to the weather and not weekly for no reason. In addition to skipping because of weather, I did skip a class or two to do homework for a different class. Again, not right and I probably shouldn’t have done it, but at the time it was worth it. But as much as you can, go to class and don’t leave early. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Tip 2: Don’t buy from the campus bookstore unless you absolutely have to!

Everyone knows that anything you buy on campus is overpriced anyway, and textbook costs are ridiculous. Like, if you’re going to charge me $130 for a book about communication, it better be made out of gold and make me breakfast every morning! Rent your books, buy them used, get the ebook version, whatever you have to do to cut costs. Some of the books you don’t really need anyway, but I always get what’s on the list to make sure I have all the content. I just got 6 of the 8 textbooks that I need for this coming semester for about $25 altogether. Thriftbooks is the website that I use for most of my book purchases (for school and for enjoyment) and I would recommend it to anyone. The majority of their titles go for around $4, so it is very much worth it. Ebooks are also a great option, and though I can’t ever focus when reading online, my fiance uses ebooks a great deal and he has had a lot of success with them.

Tip 3: Don’t write your papers and assignments the night before they are due.

I am an awful procrastinator. Seriously, I think I have a problem. I always save my assignments for the last minute and end up with less than my best work for my final results. I had an eight page paper that I was supposed to be working on all semester long, and I procrastinated it until two weeks before it was due. In a mad rush to get that paper done, I didn’t do my best and haphazardly threw in scraps of research and quotes from authors I had read and though I received a decent grade, it wasn’t one I could be proud of. If you are unfortunately are faced with a short amount of time to get some writing done, you could try a “voice to text” type of feature on GoogleDocs. I’m not a fan of it because it isn’t very accurate and it doesn’t pick up my voice very easily, but once again my fiance uses it all the time and would recommend it for making writing papers easier, so you could give it a try.

Tip 4: Don’t buy food on campus.

The freshman 15 is a real thing, much to my dismay seeing as how I was trying to lose weight for my upcoming wedding. Buying food on campus throughout the day will only enhance this problem. Invest in a good lunch bag, and travel mug or thermos, and plan your lunches or dinners to go. I brought meals for our long school day on Thursdays, and it worked pretty well. They weren’t very complex but they were filling and hot, and when supplemented with other snacks throughout the day, were pretty efficient at tiding us over until the evening. In addition to this rule, try not to have more than one cup of coffee per day. Save the coffee for the morning and then for your midday pick-me-up, go for a fruit juice or a tea. Coffee actually started to make me more tired and induce more headaches the more of it that I drank, so I began to dial it back and saw good results.

Tip 5: Check and re-check your syllabus.

Sadly, it was a pretty common thing for professors to change the assignments or due dates on the syllabus and not remind the students to check it for updates. Professors either shift things around or miss days and focus on catching up, but regardless of the reason, it is your job to be keeping a regular watch on the syllabus and noting any changes. They probably won’t remind you and you won’t be able to use the excuse of “I didn’t know” when you miss an assignment because it technically was on the syllabus. Stay on top of that, and you’ll do just fine. To add to this tip, always check your student email throughout your school day. It helps you stay on top of updates for class and keeps you notified if a professor cancels or shifts things around. Also, many professors will send out an email about what is due or if there is a test coming up, so help yourself out by staying informed.

Tip 6: Take notes!

This is something I didn’t learn how to do in school (because I’m home schooled, I don’t really need to study for tests or anything) so when I started college, I didn’t really understand how important my notes would turn out to be. Taking notes not only helps you retain information, but it also helps keep your mind focused instead of staring off into space and thinking about lunch or getting home. Even if you just aren’t feeling it that day and can’t focus your mind, pull out your notebook and write or doodle or something to engage your mind and keep yourself from zoning out. I also recommend taking notes by hand on paper instead of a computer for a couple of reasons. The first being that a lot of the professors I had wouldn’t let computers be out while they were teaching. Second, paper notes keep you more engaged and reduce the likelihood of your mind wandering or the temptation to browse Facebook. And third (which might just be for me), writing notes reduces my chances of getting a headache from staring at a computer screen and it doesn’t tire my eyes out so much, which is always a plus!

Tip 7: Ask for help.

In my experience, professors and classmates want you to pass as much as you want to so don’t hesitate when you need help with something. Ask questions in class, talk with classmates outside of class, see if tutoring is an option for your class, look up explanatory videos, whatever it takes for you to understand and succeed. The professors aren’t out to fail you in their class, so take advantage of their office hours and talk about the things you don’t understand. You will be glad you did.

Other random tips for success:

  • Wear comfortable shoes that allow you to walk, run, climb stairs, etc.
  • Study outside as often as you can. Libraries can get stuffy.
  • If you are taking a math class, color code your notes and problems you work. It helps keep track of which side of the equation is what.
  • Also for math, invest in a good calculator.
  • And if you can, make your math class the first class of the day so that you are fresh instead of being worn out and ready to head home.
  • Study at school as often as you can. It is often the only time you will have outside of class to get some hardcore studying done and you have nothing else to do while you’re there anyway.
  • Don’t stay up super late doing homework. Your brain works better in the morning.
  • Look up “the inventional system of argumentation” written about by Dominic Infante and use it as a guide for persuasive papers and arguments. This changed my writing life 😉
  • Eat breakfast. It is tempting to skip, but for your own sanity, don’t!
  • Study in 25 minute increments with a 5 minute break between each time slot.
  • Create a study playlist of relaxing songs.
  • Don’t stress out! At the end of the day, classes can be retaken and things can be redone or done better in the future. It’s just school. It’s not worth losing sleep over or damaging your relationships for. Relax, you’re going to be fine.

 

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For my younger sisters

Dear Rachel and Olivia,

Mike Archer

Since I was a teen, my greatest aspiration was to be someone’s role model. To inspire someone. To change a life for the better. I thought I had to work my way into a position of power in order to have my voice heard, but I didn’t realize until just now that there are two girls following in my footsteps that I may be able to help in some way. So here is a short letter for you two because I think you will have some challenges ahead and since I’m not there to help you, read this and try to see whatever wisdom it might hold 😉 Don’t take this too seriously though; I’m not perfect and I don’t have all the answers. I am only 20 for Heaven’s sake, I barely have my life figured out yet 🙂 That being said, this is for you ❤

First off, overdone eye shadow and red lipstick is a horrible way to try and impress anyone. Except for maybe a clown…also, never underestimate the class that a good pair of heels, a nice dress, and a power walk can give you. Shower every day and don’t overdo it on the perfume.

Fun stuff out of the way, let’s get into the meat.

Thank your mom. And I don’t mean post a family picture on Instagram or Facebook and let all your friends know how great she is. Like, seriously thank her. If we aren’t supposed to announce on the street corners when we give to a charity, then the same goes for telling your mom you love her. It’s best when you do it so that no one knows and it’s in between the two of you. It doesn’t have to be something fancy, it doesn’t have to be a gift every day, but you need to do something. Deep clean a room of the house, make dinner one night (and clean it up too), write her something. She has sacrificed more than anyone else in our lives has and has never once asked that we pay her back in any way. Mom’s are incredible. Someday when you get a job and save up some money, take her on a date. Go to dinner, buy her flowers, whatever you want to do. She definitely deserves it. That being said, Mom is a wellspring of knowledge about pretty much anything and she has a lot of wisdom. She is probably one of the only sources of learning in your life that you won’t have to pay for 😉 Make sure you use that knowledge.

You are going to have problems. There will be people who hate you for no reason, who want to destroy your character and tear you down. They will try to manipulate your emotions and take advantage of your soft heart. They only win if you say they do. You are the only person who can let someone have power over you. If you don’t react, if you don’t let them have the high ground, you win and they don’t. If you get into an argument with someone, don’t raise your voice. Don’t attack their character (i.e. “You’re a liar,” “You’re stupid, I’m smarter”), that would be stooping to their level. Learn when an argument can’t be won and be brave enough to walk away. This isn’t admitting defeat, this is you recognizing that the back-and-forth won’t end because they aren’t open to finding a solution. Choose your battles. Learn what is worth the fight and what can be left to die out on it’s own.

Unless you are super lucky, you will have your heart broken at some point. I don’t know by who or what the circumstance will be, but it will probably happen. When it does, don’t let that hurt change you. Don’t let it make you bitter, don’t let it make you hate that person. This goes back to what I said above; they want to hurt you so that they win and they only win if you let them. Be brave enough to keep loving, keep trusting, and to keep hoping they may turn out different. But don’t keep running back to them. Be brave but also be smart. Don’t wall yourself up completely, but put up some defenses. It would be pretty stupid of a king if, whenever his city got attacked, he never put up a wall or a gate. Don’t make yourself completely unavailable, but make sure you narrow some channels.

Don’t let your opinion of yourself be based on what other people think of you or even what you think of yourself. I always saw myself as overweight and mean (what a lovely combination 😉 and because of that I refused to entertain the idea that I could be liked my anyone, let alone that someone might fall in love with me. I was content to live up to my own flawed view of myself and I did perfectly. I felt that beauty was beyond me to achieve and best left up to the models and the other girls I knew who seemed like they had all the luck. I felt like “if I lose X pounds then I can be happy,” “If I put on this makeup I will look prettier,” “If I wear these clothes then people will think I am worth something.” And the truth was (and still is) that no matter what weight I lose, what makeup I buy, or what clothes I wear, the most beautiful thing about me is who I am. And that is true about you as well. If someone only loves you for what you look like, they don’t really love you. And I think it is much better to be loved for you character and spirit than for what you did with your hair or the newest trend you follow. I closed myself off and labeled myself as unapproachable and mean. You will only be as good as you think you are. This is called “self-fulfilled prophesy.” If you think you are mean and no one likes you, you will perceive yourself as mean and you will feel like no one likes you. Envision yourself as who you want to be and then work for that. You are both beautiful. Rachel, you are the tan Amazonian princess who could give Wonder Woman a run for her money. Liv, you are the delicate beauty with the class of a princess and the sass of an action hero. You are both worth so much more than empty complements and senseless flattery. There will be people who will try to bend over backward to gain your favor and there will be those who don’t mind pushing your buttons until you explode. Both of these groups don’t deserve your attention.

You will have hard days. Days where you just want to go home and cry. Days where nothing feels right. Days where you feel like you are alone when you really aren’t, when you feel like no one understands. Days when you will question if anything will be right ever again. These are the days where you have all the more reason to be joyful in what you have and to remind yourself where you are heading in life. Your ambition will get you far and as long you have a reason for what you are doing, the hard days won’t seem as bad. Some days you just need to cry and that’s okay, but don’t stay in that place too long. Have a cry and then pick yourself up, watch a Bob Ross video, make a cup of tea and go find a reason to enjoy living. I have said it before, life is an adventure that you are writing as you live it. Imagine how boring The Hobbit would have been if Bilbo had decided to stay home? It would be a book of him puttering around his house and doing nothing! Treat everything like it is the first time you are doing it and the last time you will get to experience it. Take a moment every once in a while to look around the living room and think of how grateful you are for each person there. Think of how worse off you would be without them. And sometimes when you do this, imagine me there too 😉 Because no matter how many states away I am, I am still family and I love you both ❤

This won’t solve all your problems, but I hope it makes your life richer in some way. Love you both,

Bethany

When I Grow Up…

This time last year found my brother and I finishing packing our family’s house into a moving truck a little smaller than a semi and making the two day drive across America to Indiana where Mom had moved everyone. It was the saddest few weeks. It felt like my family had begun to shatter with my Mom’s divorce from my Dad and his emotional abuse and manipulation in turn. We had to leave our house of four years, full of memories both good and bad. Our beloved herd of farm animals had been pawned off to strangers while we weren’t there, never to be seen again but to always be thought about and cried over each time. I had to say goodbye to the new friends I had just made, friends like I had never had before. And to top it off, I had fallen in love for the first and only time and now that had to be left behind me as well. I had no idea if I would be coming back, and I had to foreseeable plans to. The day we rolled out and left the “Welcome to Mountain Home” sign behind us for what could have been the last time, we cried. I cried, Caleb cried, it was a somber few hours.

Fast forward to a year later and I am back. Living in a house on my own, fully supporting myself, working a part time job and being a full time student and somehow making it all work. I will be 20 in nine days and it’s hard to believe I am classified as an adult when I still feel like I’m playing the role of being a “grown up” when to me, I’m still a kid. I haven’t grown up yet, and maybe I never fully will. There’s still a lot more developing that needs to happen.

And so without further ado, I present to you my first slam poem “When I Grow Up.”

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up

When I grow up I want to be brave. Not like the knights who raise their swords in defense of their castle. Or the bravery that would cause me to jump out of planes for fun. I want to be the ordinary brave. The brave that helps me face the everyday challenges of life.

I want to have the courage to be uncomfortable. To do things I may not enjoy the idea of at the beginning just for the experience.

I want to know that our heroes don’t always show up when we need them, but that’s okay because I never leave home without my cape.

I want my bravery to help me admit when I’m wrong and ask for forgiveness. I want to be brave enough to step into someone else’s shoes and see life through their eyes, and I want to have the courage to let that change me.

I want to look at my broken world and know that I can’t heal all the pain with just my two hands, but I hope I’m brave enough to try anyway.

I want to get down in the dirt with people. To see humanity at its worst and take a step up instead of backing away. I want my bravery to look into the eyes of the hurting and say, “I’ve been here too, I have felt your pain, and I am not afraid to face it again. Here is my hand, we are in this together.”

I want to see my tears splash off my rainboots and know that maybe there won’t be someone who can wipe them away for me, but that’s alright because no matter how bad the storm, it has to pass sometime. And so until then I’ll get out my umbrella and dance in the puddles.

I want to have the courage to let go of regret. To know that there are people I can’t change, people beyond me to save.

I want to be brave enough to face circumstances I thought would turn out different and accept my own defeat. To have the courage to be rejected by people I love, even family, and still be able to look them in the eyes and say “I love you.” And I want to be brave enough to recognize when I am the one who needs to do the rejecting because sometimes you need to give up reaching for them, but never give up hoping they will be different.

I want to be brave enough to let go of my own failures. My shortcomings, the things I am less than proud of. I want to let go of the hurt that has been handed to me because hanging onto past pain is a lot of weight and I am not that strong.

I want to be brave enough to change something. Maybe not the world…but something. I want to have enough courage to admit that I am so far from having my life figured out, but then again who really does?

I want to live beyond the extraordinary. To reject the labels put on me, even if I am the one who put them there. I want to set goals as high as the stars and never stop building my rocket ship until I reach them.

I want to be brave enough to love. With all my heart, totally and completely. And I want to have the courage to let myself be wildly loved in return.

I want to be brave when I grow up. To always think, then speak. To keep my touch gentle, my tone soft, and my head high. I want to stand firm on the things that matter and learn to compromise when they aren’t as important. I want to paint a picture with my words and live long enough to see someone look at me and say, “I would have given up had it not been for you.”

I don’t want to be remembered for the school I went to, the job I worked, or even the people I knew. I want to be remembered for my bravery only, and that will certainly take a lot of courage.

When I grow up 2

Out of the Dark Blog Tour: Author Interview with MacKenzie Morganthal

Out of the Dark Blog Tou (1)

It’s not over yet…

 

     It’s been three years since Haley Hampton rescued her sister, Avery, from a human trafficking ring. They are still struggling through the aftermath as both women desperately long for healing to come. But the emotional wounds are not easily forgotten. And the past is quickly catching up to them. A string of death threats leaves Haley on the hunt for a potential killer. As tensions run high, a single mistake could jeopardize Avery’s life.

Then Haley encounters Elaine, a young teen trapped by human trafficking. Could she be their missing link in the case? Is there anyone they can trust? Haley must rely on God now more than ever if they intend to make it out alive. Will they find a way out of the darkness closing in? Because evil is lurking closer…and determined to win this time.

mmOutoftheDark (1)
B: First of all, let’s start off with an introduction. For someone who may not have read “Not Abandoned,” can you summarize the story so far (without giving away spoilers) and set the scene for this book? 
M: So “Not Abandoned” introduces us to the Hampton sisters who are vital characters in both books. Haley Hampton is introduced to what human trafficking is in this first book and the impact of it changes her life. In “Out of the Dark” we see her continuing to pursue justice for victims. And for Avery, her life is forever changed as she was one of the victims of human trafficking in book one, and we now see her as a survivor in book two. These characters are still trying to move on from the events that took place in “Not Abandoned”, but things get tricky when Avery begins receiving death threats and Haley decides to take matters into her own hands. “Out of the Dark” will bring a lot of action and suspense as the story continues, and also a lot of emotional scenes as we see the emotional scars these survivors of human trafficking have to deal with.
B: What were some differences and challenges you faced when it came to writing and publishing this book as opposed to your previous one? 
M: This one was definitely more difficult than book one! “Not Abandoned” came very easy to me and was completed and ready for publication in a matter of a few months. The editing process for book one was not very intense and went very smoothly. But book two has taken over two years to complete and a lot of tears. This book underwent numerous plot changes and rewrites, and I stared at many blank pages during the writing process because words just wouldn’t come to me. I believe the challenges I faced had several purposes. First of all to point me back to God and remind me that apart from Him, I can do nothing, and that includes writing. He must be in the center of my writing or it becomes nothing. I also faced challenges from the enemy and I believe that’s because the devil knows I am dedicating this book and the mission of this book to God. And I know God is going to use it for His glory. So through everything I knew I had to keep pushing forward until this book was finished so that God’s message could get out there. I encourage everyone today that if you are being attacked by the enemy, don’t give up! The enemy is only pushing you this hard because he knows how big your impact will be for God. Keep pushing on 🙂
B: What made you choose this story line to write about and how did you approach that in the beginning and in the sequel?
M: I first felt ending human trafficking become a passion for me when I heard a radio interview with a survivor. Her story was so heart breaking as she shared about the pain of not being able to grow up like a “normal” teenager. And that was the moment when I decided I wanted to do something about this. So I guess that was the moment this storyline and this three book series was born. For me, using the talent God gave me to write about the subject of human trafficking was how I could raise awareness and educate young people about this danger.
B: Many writers base their characters off people in their life or even themselves. Are there any characters in the series based off you or anyone you know?
M: Hmm, not really. I can see a little of myself in Haley, but I also created her as the character I wish I was more like haha. I would consider her more of an extrovert, and she’s very brave and confident and unafraid, which are great qualities she needs for being a cop. Whereas I’m more of the introvert who loves watching and solving crime shows at home and pretending I’m as brave as Haley 😉 Other than that, my characters in these stories weren’t particularly based on anyone in my own life. Although, especially in this second book, I can see some of my best friend, Raechel, in my character Christine, who is Haley’s best friend, mostly in the special bond the two friends have. 🙂
B: If someone is reading this and has no clue what the story is about, who you are, or what your whole message and purpose is, what would you say that would give them an accurate image into who you are and what you’re all about? 
M:  They should know first of all, I’m all about Jesus and making sure His message is shared through my writing. If readers come away remembering only Jesus and the gospel shared in these pages, but not remembering my name, my purpose would be complete. The purpose in my writing has always been to share His love with the world. And the message in this set of books is to educate young people about the dangers of human trafficking so they can keep themselves and others safe. And it’s also my prayer that they would come away with a fire ignited in their own hearts to get involved in the fight against human trafficking. These books were never meant to be entertainment only…they’re meant to be life changing.
B: Everyone saves the last question for some kind of advice segment but I want to know: what is one of your favorite quotes (not from your books or a Bible verse) and why?
M:  Ooh that’s a tough one for me because I looove quotes! As a writer, words are so special to me! 🙂 But I’d have to say one of my favorites is: “If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.” -Oswald Chambers. This is something I know first hand. For readers who know me and my writing well, they may remember a magazine article of mine that was published in 2013 titled “Keep me Broken.” In it I shared about a health issue I was facing at the time and how scared and broken I felt. But how if God could be glorified, even in my deepest pains, then I would still praise Him. And I would still walk through the pain, knowing it would all be worth it in the end.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Bethany!

 

Author bio

MacKenzie Morganthal is the author of “Not Abandoned,” book one in the Mission for Freedom series. She is a monthly e-magazine columnist, Creative Artist, and musician. Her writing has been featured on (in)courage, an online community for women. She loves Jesus most, sweet tea, singing along to the radio, and spending too much time at Starbucks.

MacKenzie Morganthal social media links:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/writingbykenzie

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mackenziemorganthal

Website: http://www.morganthalbooks.weebly.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/mackenziemorganthal

I’m Still Here

The fall weather has set in here in Boise and I take refuge inside the university library from the chilly drizzle of rain outside. There are a thousand things I could be doing with my time like studying a little more, collecting my messy thoughts into a “to do” list for whenever the magical moment that I have extra time arrives, or maybe just taking a nap. But for now I have an hour until my last class of the day and a computer, so why not write. It’s been a little over two months since I actually wrote a blog post, which seems crazy, but completely believable. And I could come up with a million reasons as to why I haven’t even looked at my own blog, let alone tried to generate an idea for a post, but the very simple answer is that when I look at a list of the things I have to prioritize my time with, my unofficial occupation with my blog doesn’t hit very high on the list. Not to say that I thought about giving it up or anything, of course not! It’s just gotten lost in the sea of other tasks that fight for my every waking minute and attention.

So, what has been happening in the life of me? Honestly nothing and everything at the same time. I am balancing being a full time student with working a part time job and still trying to find the time and will power to do mundane things like clean my house while squeezing studying into every time slot I have, attempting and failing at getting a passable amount of sleep and trying my best (and also failing) at having anything that resembles a social life. So, you know, the usual stuff 😉 Oh, and I joined the worship team at my church and am a part of the choir now…so there’s that too 🙂

But while my school seems to demand every spare moment and I feel like I now live at my job despite the illusion of “part time,” I can honestly say I have never been in a happier state of mind. And it is true, the majority of the time I feel so busy that I don’t have a moment to sit and just breathe, but even through that I have realized that there is beauty. Almost daily now I take just a moment to reflect to myself about my life; what has happened and what is still coming, what I have done and what other people have done for me, and all the incredible adventures I have gotten to be a part of. And I think to myself, “You know, it’s not easy having all these expectations and responsibilities and it’s no picnic having to come home dead tired from work and realize as you go to bed that you’ll have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. But would you actually trade this for anything else?” And the answer is always no. I was sitting at worship practice the other day and as I was looking around the room and taking everything in I got so happy that I took a picture of the moment. It wasn’t anything special by any means, and I doubt that anyone there even noticed. But I felt like I belonged and there was nowhere I would rather have been or people I would rather have been with.

There’s this adorable older Hispanic gentleman who I work with and the other night we were at our registers waiting to get off. He began by asking about my friend (who also works with us) and then had question after question about my boyfriend and I. Then he began asking about my situation and what I was up to. I told him about my situation (minus the personal details) about moving out and living on my own and my school and such. Throughout my stories he just kept saying, “You’re tough, you’re a tough girl, most people aren’t like that.” And as flattering as it is to have people think I am strong or courageous or tough in a way, I have to disagree. If this was all based on my level of courage or strength, I would have failed the first day I left my mom. If I base my success on me and my own strength and feelings, I would be nowhere with nowhere to go. This isn’t actually me, this wasn’t my idea, and I am most definitely not the one holding it together. Some days I get these episodes of what I call “despair” where I basically get overwhelmed with everything I have to do and the little time I have to do it in. I think about everything I have neglected from vacuuming my house and doing the dishes to calling my Mom. I haven’t talked to my bestie on the phone in forever and I haven’t talked to my brother in about as long. I neglected things like my magazine and this blog, and on those days of despair I feel the weight of everything I want to do and don’t have time for. Not only that, but I also get this crippling loneliness where I feel like I have no one to go to for help and I have to face everything on my own. If I had to fight this all on my own and accomplish what I needed to while still balancing my life and keeping a healthy mindset, there would be no point in trying. But thank God that’s not the case 🙂

As I said before, I have never been happier and there is nowhere I would rather be or people I would rather be with. Adventure isn’t easy but it’s always better when you’re not alone.

I’m going to wrap this up because class starts soon and I would like to publish this today 🙂  But the basic message of this post is to let you know that I am still here, I’m doing good, and if you feel overwhelmed you’re not alone 😉

Have a great day, everyone! It’s good to be back…

Interview with Prince Addison 

As the new book The Corination by Livy Jarmusch nears its release, I had the opportunity to interview the character Prince Addison here on my blog! I hope you enjoy! 

1: So Addison, as you are nearly 21 it’s almost time for you to inherit the throne of Tarsurella! Are you excited?! 

Yes, of course! I’m not going to lie, it’s a little bit nerve-wrecking. I mean, I’ve been preparing for this position my entire life and wow…it’s a bit hard to fathom that it’s close to happening. It’s pretty surreal, and I don’t think the reality of it is going to sink in until the day of my Coronation. 

2: With this upcoming change of power comes expectations for you as the new ruler from the people who loved your father’s rule. How do you plan on meeting these expectations and raising the bar as king? 

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of weight involved. The citizens of Tarsurella adore my Father, and I can see why. He purposes to take time out of his busy schedule and meet with his people, hearing their complaints and suggestions, and just really reminding them that he cares. Obviously it’s impossible for us to respond to every beckon call of our people, and we can’t make the world a perfect place overnight, but my Dad has always been committed to the process, as well as letting the people know that he has their best interest in mind. I hope to follow in his footsteps. As far as raising the bar goes, I’m not really sure if I’ll be able to! Haha. My Father has set such high standards for us as a nation, it’s going to take everything within me to keep maintaining and continuing what he has set for us. But I’m committed to do that. I know that there are issues are people are growing restless about, and I plan to confront those things head on.

3: In addition to being the next king, you are also the most wanted bachelor in the kingdom. How do you manage to keep such a cool head with all the girls chasing you for love? 

Oh goodness, I never know how to respond to those kinds of statements! Whenever magazines interview me and ask, ‘So how does it feel to be Tarsurella’s most wanted single man?!’ I just have to shake my head and think, ‘What is wrong with you people?’ Haha! 

I mean, it’s not exactly normal to have screaming girls outside your gate, and obsessed fans longing to know whether you’re a ‘cat person’ or a ‘dog person’. Like, does that really matter? It’s just too strange. So I mean, I guess it’s flattering in a way, but I know their ‘undying adoration’ for me isn’t that realistic. The majority of those girls have never meet me, and I think they’re far more in love with the ‘romantic fantasy’ of whatever whimsical way the press paints my life to be, than the real me, you know? But as far as not getting a big head, I have seven younger siblings. And they’re not shy when it comes to pointing out my flaws. I am in no danger of thinking unrealisticly about myself, so long as I’ve got them around! We all keep each other grounded. 😉      

4: And finally, what is the first big change you hope to make as the new king? 

Well, the first major task is going to be getting our Palace Staff changeover to transition smoothly. Many of the men who worked with my Dad all these years are retiring, and come January, we’re going to have a lot of new faces around. So building a strong foundation for the new administration is going to be my main focus. Like my Dad always says, if you don’t have a strong foundation and deep root system, anything else you try to build on top of it isn’t going to last. So before we jump into making any major changes or taking on huge projects, we’ve gotta make sure that the foundation is strong. Thankfully my Dad will be around and can continue to direct me with Godly council during the early stages of my new rule.  


You can find out more about the Corination and its Author by checking out her website at: http://www.livylynnblog.com/

Or at: 

https://www.amazon.com/Coronation-Tales-Tarsurella-1/dp/1547070854/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1499090464&sr=8-1-fkmr0

The Pride of Adulthood 

I have done one of the scariest things I ever could do. Something I never believed I was strong enough for.

 I left.

 I left my family behind in Indiana and traveled across the country to Idaho to live on my own. And I was terrified. I still am a little. But instead of just telling you about it (because what kind of writer would I be if I just did that 😉) allow me to show you what I have done 🙂 


This picture may look a little strange to you. Maybe even a little lonely considering it is a dinner table set for only one. But for me, this is it. This represents everything I’ve worked for, everything I was scared of doing. This is the very first dinner I cooked for myself in my very first apartment. The first time I was truly out on my own. It may not look like much: a bowl of noodles and soup courtesy of my mom who hooked me up with some groceries before I left and a plastic cup of tea from a friend, but for me this means a whole lot more. And it is a possibility that it looks lonely. The lack of a dinner guest and an empty table save for two apples my grandma gave me. But lonely isn’t how I would describe it. 

I sat there that evening at my apartment and with the low hum of the refrigerator in the background providing the only noise in the silent house, I thought about how incredible this all was. I was sitting in a place of my own, far away from my family, and very much alone at the moment (unless of course you count the company of my cat.) And I was so happy that I took a picture! I was happy because this was what I was afraid of doing, I never believed I had the strength to live on my own and provide for myself. I didn’t ever imagine I would get to that place. And yet there I was. 

This is everything I have worked for, and everything I will continue to work for. And I now believe in myself more because of it. I never thought I could, but I did anyway and that dinner alone was the evidence of that. 

I have been so terrified that I was wrong about myself, that I couldn’t actually do the things I dreamed of and that I’m not as strong as I believed I could be. And though there are still many, many moments where I doubt myself, I don’t believe I’ll let them stand in my way. I was scared that I would fail at providing for myself, that college would be too much for me to handle and that I would have to return to my mom with the disappointment that I hadn’t lived up to what she believed I could do. And though I still fear that, I know that if it does happen, it won’t be the end of the world. It won’t be the end of my world. 

Now, I’m not just going to make this a post about my own empowerment, there’s something for you here too. If I can step way out of the boundaries of what I believed I was capable of and do what I dreamed of, then there’s no reason why you can’t either. There is nothing special about me, no resource or special upbringing or trait that sets me apart. I have had my fair share of trials and heartbreak. But if I don’t let that stop me, then what’s your excuse? Why would you settle for something less than extraordinary? After all, if a sheltered homeschooler can leave their family and live on their own for college, then you should definitely be able to 😉 

It’s time to stop making excuses as to why your happiness isn’t achieveable. You have a strength inside you that you don’t even know about yet. Test yourself and don’t be afraid if you discover exactly what you are capable of. 

I believe in you, why shouldn’t you believe in yourself? 

Success, Fulfillment, and the Beauty of your Dreams

_The Future Belongs to Those Who Believe in the Beauty of Their Dreams._

Money can’t buy happiness.

Everyone knows this. We’ve heard this repeated to us from the time we were children trying to figure out what life meant. We are told that the things in life that bring happiness, success, and fulfillment aren’t the things that are bought, but rather the experiences we have, the people we choose to love, and the still, quiet moments.

And we believe all of this. Our innocent child minds think, “I don’t need money! I can go anywhere I want, do anything I want to do! I can be anything! I think I’ll be a baker for the rest of my life…or a gardener…or a dress designer…or a painter…” (Or as a few of my siblings dreamed: A farmer ballerina, Bible Man, and a mail man…) But then that innocence is no longer what dreams are built on when we grow up and learn that life isn’t all that easy. Money is something you have to have and jobs like a baker, gardener, or painter don’t usually cut it. We have to look at the big picture. Instead of fitting life into our dreams, we now have to fit our dreams into our life. And more often than not, that means we have to break those dreams down into little pieces and try to fit them in wherever we can, ending up with a fragmented image of our happiness as dependent on our job and possessions.

But what happened to money can’t buy happiness? If money isn’t more important than our dreams, why then do we need it so badly? Are we forever doomed to working jobs we hate to try and make ends meet, all the while keeping that image of what our life could have been in the far reaches of our mind? Always there to tempt us, but never attainable because of reality. And if money can’t buy happiness…then what does?

I was recently asked by someone close to me what I wanted to do with my life; what my dream job was. And I jokingly answered, “To not work at Wal-Mart my whole life.” Now, I was joking because I do have an idea of what I want to do and where I want to be in a few years. But humor aside, I realized after I said it that my words had a lot of truth in them. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with working at Wal-Mart and I am really fortunate to have the job. I could be working somewhere worse or not have a job at all. But if that were my only aspiration in life I would be aiming much too low. However, it does swing the other way too. If I had said that my dream was to have a high paying job I would also be aiming at something less than what I am made for. So…what then? Am I telling everyone to pursue their dreams, regardless of the paycheck and future of their lives?

Well…yes. I am telling you that it is never too late to turn the direction of your life around. If you don’t like something about your situation or where you are heading, change it. We as humans are in a constant state of change and as such, our dreams change and develop as we get older. And that is perfectly okay. I used to want to be a makeup artist. Not that long ago actually, just last summer I still had that dream. I was sure that was the direction my life would take. And then I realized that makeup artistry wasn’t exactly my passion. And so, with the constant support of my Mom, I made the scary decision to pursue journalism at college.

I love writing. I love writing. And more than anything else in my life, I want to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be huge, but I was made to create hope and show people their strength that they never believed in. And I couldn’t do that through makeup. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance that my writing can be my version of success. My fulfillment shouldn’t be someone else’s idea of what my life should look like or what I should do. And my success certainly shouldn’t be measured on the version of success of someone who isn’t me.

Success isn’t measured in your job, or what your paycheck looks like, or the clothes you wear, or the places you have been. If that were the definition of success, I would be failing. I can’t afford to find my fulfillment in the number of likes on my Facebook, the pictures on my Instagram, the views on my blog, the amount of friends I have, the digits in my bank account, the car I drive, the job I work, the places I have traveled, the people I have met, or the “great” things I have done.

My definition of success and fulfillment, the things I base my happiness on, are the dreams I hold onto. Because if I let those go, I lose something far greater than just my idea of my future. I lose the things that make me the person I am. The things I have chosen to work hard for. The stuff I decide is important enough for me to sacrifice the greatest thing I have: my time.

Choose today to stop breaking down the dreams you have and trying to make them fit into your “life.” Your dreams are your life. Don’t let your happiness be dependent on your material things. And never try to measure your dreams up to the dreams someone else has for you. You are in charge of your life, your adventure. So live like it.

Are these just the ramblings of a naïve girl who hasn’t tasted the hardship of life fully? Quite possibly. Am I a 19 year old who is desperately trying to hang on to the shiny and bright future that I always imagined? Absolutely. Because what future would I have if I didn’t still have big dreams for myself?

Don’t ever give up on the dreams of your future. Be ridiculous, do outrageous things, dream big. Be a baker, or a painter, or a blogger, or a YouTuber. Do what makes you feel alive.

Believe you can fly, and don’t let the land dwellers tie you down with reality.

One Year of Girl on Fire

May 16, 2017

One year ago today I started my blog.

Well, technically speaking, that’s not actually true. I first started Girl on Fire over on Blogger in October 2015 but after a few months of thought, I decided to switch to WordPress and actually get serious about writing and making a difference with my blog. And I hope that’s what I’ve done so far.

The naming of the blog was actually my favorite part. I did a lot of thinking on what I should call it, but nothing really seemed to sum up what my blog was all about while still sounding cool and like something I would personally want to read. Being the Hunger Games nerd that that I am, Girl on Fire stood out to me for a couple of reasons.  Besides being an obvious nod to The Hunger Games, Girl on Fire seemed to express the person I was and hope to be. I wanted to be ignited with passion for change. I wanted to make a difference and not be forgotten. I wanted to stand out as a bright light of hope in a relatively dark world. Most of all, I wanted to influence others. I wanted to light fires in the people around me and in the people who I don’t even know. I wanted to inspire them to make a difference and change the problems they face instead of just giving up. And a blog with a tacky name like Girl on Fire was the venue I’ve chosen to do that through.

Though most of the posts on here are slightly comedic and don’t really have that much to do with inspiring myself or others, there have been a select few that I have really been passionate about writing and that I really wanted to share with the people who want to read this blog. And even though sarcasm is what I’m good at, I am hoping that in the next year of writing this blog I can make more of the content that makes me proud and passionate about what I’ve chosen to do.

However, there’s no way you would even be reading this post on a strange blog named from The Hunger Games written by an ordinary 19 year old if it weren’t for a few special people. Fires don’t just spontaneously ignite, and that’s what this post is really about. I have been blessed enough to have a support system of people around me who believe in me and encourage me to do things I never would’ve thought I had a chance to do. So this post is a thank you letter to them; the people who may not know it, but who are the real sparks behind Girl on Fire. I draw my inspiration from my faith, my family, and my closest friends and I wouldn’t have kept writing if it weren’t for them. Whether it be by teaching me something, saying something that inspired a post, or just reading what I put out there and commenting every time (looking at you, Bella ;), these people are the reasons I started it in the first place and stayed with it for a year.

Thank you so much for believing that I had something to say that was worth reading and for inspiring me to be a better person and learn throughout my own journey. You all make the real difference and I’m super thankful to know each of you!

Thanks for such a great year and I’m looking forward to seeing how God chooses to use this blog in the following year!

Bethany

Other posts that I love:

Life is your Choice

19 Lessons I’ve learned in 19 Years

 

Third Shift Thoughts

Ok, first let’s start this out with a huge apology for not posting anything for two months. TWO MONTHS!!!! I feel awful for letting it be that long before posting…

I would make an excuse about how my job has been keeping me busy a lot of the time and how my impending move has been pushing back all my inspiration, but the reality of it is that my blog has just had to take a backseat to all the other things I’ve given my time to and with all that occupies my mind on a daily basis, I haven’t thought of any really good content to post. That being said, I’m now breaking the two month streak of being absent and I am hoping to post a little more often, or once a month at the very least.

Now that the apology is out of the way, the post I have for you today is all about the randomness my mind comes up with while I’m at work. I work third shift (from 10pm to 7am) and we don’t really have a ton of stuff to do because I’m a cashier. When there’s no customers, my job is to make sure everything is in order in my isle, a task that takes maybe all of five minutes, and the rest of the time is usually spent waiting for breaks and lunch or watching the minutes tick away for an eternity. So in that time of waiting, my mind tends to wander across a broad span of topics, from book ideas and stories, to odd questions and random thoughts. I’ve compiled a list of these random thoughts and interesting nonsensical questions in the hopes that you may be able to relate and ponder them with me, or at the very least laugh at my odd mind. Also, for the sake of the funny aspect, I have not Googled any of these questions to find out actual answers because then I wouldn’t have a blog post, and who has time for that anyway…

 

“What exactly is a hedgehog? Are they a rodent?”

“If a store always has their prices marked down, is it really a sale? Or have the markdowns just become the actual prices?”

“There are books that teach you how to read. But if you can’t read, how is the book going to teach you?”

“Who came up with the idea of hugging (or kissing, for that matter) and how did it become an acceptable form of showing affection?”

“Does the potato have so many uses just because people haven’t stopped experimenting with how to cook it?”

“Why does fire give off light?”

“Are mice actually ‘as quiet as mice?’ And if they were actually that quiet, how would you know they were in the walls of your house? I think the phrase should be changed to, ‘as quiet as a spider’ because those little creeps can sneak right up on you and climb all over you without you knowing it…”

“Is it bad to eat expired candy?”

“Are romance books actually that popular of a genre if there are so many at thrift stores all the time?”

“How many working VHS players are still out there?”

“Who was the person who looked at stuff like snails and fish eggs and said, “yeah, I bet I could eat that.” …and then did?”

“Are ladybugs actually all ladies? And if not, do the male ladybugs ever get offended that people assume they’re women?”

 

That’s all I have for the moment, but trust me when I say that there will most likely be a part two, because my mind always comes up with all kinds of random things…

Let me know in the comments what kind of random things you think about when you have nothing to do! And again, so sorry for abandoning this blog for so long 🙂