The Oxford Club

shoesThe English Department in my university is housed in a very old building that was originally the men’s dorms. It’s made of old, yellowish brick and is about three stories tall. It sits near the bottom of the hill on which our campus is located, and inside the lights are slightly dim and the halls slightly narrow.

In short, it’s pretty much perfect for housing the English Department in every way. And I mean this with the utmost respect. English is one of my areas of study, after all.

So one day a few months ago I walked past this building, and outside of it I beheld a truly wonderful sight. Several of the professors, all male, were standing outside in a half circle. They all  held mugs and wore tweed jackets and caps, and in the center of them was my favorite professor of all time expounding on some great topic.

Yesterday while I was walking past this building I once again beheld this group of libraryprofessors, again in the half circle. This time they were without the tweed jackets, though the caps were still thoroughly present.

I cannot explain why, but this is literally one of my favorite things on the entire planet.

I’ve named them The Oxford Club.


My Plea

waste of a treeIf I don’t survive this Finals Week, somebody please tell Josh Groban that he’s nice. And also that I’d like him to sing at my funeral.

And my collection of Frank Sinatra paraphernalia is to be distributed amongst the sympathetic believers.

The Wisdom Of Bike Paths

bike pathI remember sunlight. Hot, hot sunlight falling in giant golden waves from a wide, blue sky. So hot that the cement of the sidewalk burned my feet through my shoes. The air was so thick that the only relief was getting on our bikes and riding along, just to get moving through the humidity. There came a point when I just had to acknowledge that I would never be dry again.

There were bike paths we used. We’d fly down the sidewalks, skirts flying, through groves of trees where cicadas chirped loudly. At first I hated that sound. Probably because one tried to attack me once. We’d ride under the trees, in the dappled light, and come out on the other side in a whoosh of air.

I miss it that feeling.

My religious mission ended about nine months ago now. I cannot believe that it has been that long. And though it was a huge part of my life, so incredibly vital, it isn’t something that I talk about a lot on this blog.

To be fair, there’s lots that I don’t talk with you about.

It’s not as though I feel guilty or anything. I’m sure there is a lot that the blogs I follow don’t share either. And that’s fine. We can all choose our level of privacy. I’ve just chosen that mine be pretty strict. sunflowers

The reason that I bring up my mission tonight is because I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now. I mean, A LOT! You probably guessed this by my lack of posting, which I apologize for. Honestly I’ve just been trying to keep my head above water here.

But my mission changed my life forever. It changed me. To this day, my mission has an impact on my daily life and I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it always will.

There were many times out there in that Texas heat that I felt so incredibly alone. Interesting, when I knew that I was on the Lord’s errand. It seems so beautifully intricate to me now, though, how God works. How He teaches us things. There were many things I didn’t understand then that I understand right now. In this moment.

As a history student I look at the past every day, it is one of my main passions and makes my heart so happy. These past weeks since being in school again have broken my soul wide open, and things are pouring out of it that I forgot about.

pietaI look at Michelangelo’s work and can’t breathe. His sculpture literally takes my breath away. It makes me cry. Looking at his work Pieta is nothing less than a spiritual experience. His works are so beautiful it aches.

Leonardo da Vinci has forever been one of my all time favorite historical figures. It is only recently that I realize how much his work pulls at my heartstrings. His paintings bring about an awe that I cannot suppress.

I have discovered that Anglo-Saxon literature breathes a fire into my blood. When I read the opening lines of Beowulf I couldn’t help myself: tears welled in my eyes. There was one passage in particular that caused an actual gasp to come from me. A man sees Beowulf and says about him, “He is truly noble.”

This pulled at me in a way I could neither deny nor explain. I’ve been fascinated with the word “noble” for a long while now. In fact, I have a canvas on my wall painted in royal blue with the word NOBLE painted on it in big gold letters. It reminds me daily of what it means to be a noble person, and to act as one.

All of this beauty and inspiration has gotten the wheels in my mind turning in ways they haven’t for a long time. To be honest, I was beginning to fear that I’d lost my talents and passions. I was beginning to fear that my ambitions were gone and that my thirst for knowledge had been drained.

mondaI’ve come to find the opposite has happened. It is as if my mind cannot get enough, and it’s spilling into my heart and soul. And instead of filling, they are only expanding and crying out for more beauty and knowledge. It is incredible to me how it is all working. I sit in awe and wonder how I’ll ever learn it all, how I’ll ever hold everything I wish to know.

And then I think of the practical things. Where will life fit in this scholarly road? For surely one must put scholarly pursuits aside at some point to just enjoy the sunshine.

And there we come to another theme in my life. The sunshine. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been thinking so much about my mission.

I miss the sunshine! I haven’t seen it in days, and my soul is craving it. I just keep reminding myself that someday it will shine and someday there will be green grass again. Grass that you can lay in and roll around in, sunshine that will tan your skin, and the heat will just sit there and roll over you, and it will feel incredible. And all of that sunshine will just go right into your soul. And that is beautiful.

And with it all there has been a lot of confusion. A lot of loneliness. It is strange to think that being surrounded by thousands of people I could feel lonely. But I do. My family isn’t even that far away, but still I feel separated from them in a strange way.

And I don’t know how to make it all fit. Life and family and knowledge and learning. And nobleI know that it can, and I know that it will. But the sidewalk isn’t as illuminated as it was in Texas. The way to go doesn’t seem as clear. But then again, at the time it didn’t either. At the time, apart from all of the wonderful things I was doing and becoming, I was having the hardest time I’d ever had in my life. I couldn’t see the way. But eventually I did, and when the answers came they were brilliant.

Lately I have been going through an experience similar to one I had previous to my mission, where I was confused and felt lost. I felt that something was missing but I didn’t know what. The answer that I received then was very simple: Have faith and continue on in what you know.

I did that. And the answer did come. Though it isn’t exactly the same now, it is similar. I sundon’t necessarily feel as if something is missing so much as I feel that it isn’t all coming together. It has been strange because in many ways I’m very, very happy. All of this learning has fed my soul in a way it sorely needed, and brought me a kind of joy that I’ve dearly missed.

But in the things that I don’t understand, I can have faith. I can continue forward in what I do know and trust that the rest will come with time. I can remember that the sun is still shining, even if I can’t see it, and soon it will be warm again.

Today-As Told By My Hair

hair is perfectThe first day of class! It’s the first day of class in over a year and a half! Oh, yeah! I mean, I’m always a big tangly in the morning, but you brushed me out so that helped tremendously. What’s this? Curls! Yes! I would be absolutely delighted to curl for you today. In fact, I’ll curl even better than I normally do because today is a big day for you.

Okay, time to leave! You’ve got this! I’ll even bounce for you while you walk. Oh, yes, this redness and curls is goin’ on! Wait….wait…what’s actually going on here? Why are you wandering around like you’re lost? And WHY do you keep tucking me behind your ears like you’re nervous? And WHY are you sweating? Oh, yes, you’re wearing a huge coat and walking up these ridiculous hills. Don’t worry about it, you hairsprayed me so I’ll keep it all together up here. Gotcha covered, girl.

Okay, I guess the wandering is over, because you’re sitting in this strange don't touchclassroom surrounded by strange people. Oh, wait! I know those people! Do you think they notice I’m still parted in the middle? Why would they, that’s stupid. Is this a science class? This professor clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The entire class is in a state of confusion. As are you because you keep touching me like I can help you solve these issues. I’m sorry, lady, but my job is to keep things held together up here, no fix your professor’s too quiet voice and confessions of inadequacy.

Okay, you’re walking again. Here’s a campus map. Good! You’re good at reading maps! By the way, sorry that these bangs are a little straight. I know I said I got you covered, but there is only so much I can do when you are all nervous and keep touching them! Just focus. Oh goodness! Doesn’t your next class start soon? Why are you STILL wandering around? Oh…my…gosh. You’re lost. You. Are. Lost.

hair repayFinally! You made it. Okay, I realize that after all this wandering and walking and hills and nervousness and watery eyes from too bright sun and showing up to class clearly late that you’re worried about this whole thing going on up here. (Not to mention you haven’t even looked in a mirror…) But don’t worry. I’m thinking…beach waves are definitely still in! These people don’t have any clue that I didn’t start out that way!

Okay, the third class was easier. Thank goodness! Wait, where are you going now? For the love of all holy things stop tucking me behind your ears. Haven’t I communicated to you that because I contain a center part the whole tucking motion makes you look like an elf from Lord of the Rings? This is only cool if you are, in fact, an elf. Get it together, lady!

MORE STAIRS?? Huge crowds of people?? Trying to stay positive up here, but seriously? I’m hair, not a miracle worker.

Wait. Wait. Wait. HOLD EVERYTHING. A picture. You’re getting your long hair lip glosspicture taken. Why, why, why are you getting your picture taken? Oh, a campus ID card? Really? Today of all days you had to get a campus ID card? I literally do not care that it was the only way that you could obtain your textbooks. This is ridiculous.

Okay, why aren’t your textbooks in the convenient little black bag like everybody else’s? Of course you’ve got so many that they have to be in a box! You still have to walk across campus back home! With this huge box!

Still walking. I am now sticking to your face because of the wind while you lug this huge box around. I tried, okay? I tried.

hair tragedyNow you’re home. Flopped on your bed with me in a really disgusting bun. I get it. I think you’re just as exhausted as I am. I tried to stay curly and you tried to stay sane. I guess we both failed. I understand I’m a big part of the self-esteem department. That department died a little today, honey. But it’s okay. Put me in a semi-presentable pony tail and go to work. That is all.

Try again tomorrow.


Talk To Me

cinemaI have always loved movies. Movies are the best. In fact, I’d totally be a film historian. No joke. It would no longer be Leonard Maltin you’d see giving you a brief history of John Wayne movies. But me. All red hair and smiles. Yep. And, of course, my massive cinematic knowledge underneath it all. Now this all may sound like a silly joke, but I have, in fact, looked into it. Not becoming the next Leonard Maltin, but being a film historian. Anyway, these  thoughts kind of ran together a little. Let me be clear:

I love movies.

I love watching the story play out. It’s probably the writer in me, how I see characters from different angles. Thinking of the ways the story could end, observing the small things. Movies entertain, yes, but they also teach.

Next week brings a lot of change for me. I’ m going back to school and who even knows what that’s going to bring! I was speaking to a friend of mine today, expressing my nervousness, and blurted, “I don’t want to do it! Then I’ll have to meet people. I HATE people!”

She only laughed and assured me that I do not actually hate people, it’s sarcasmjust the process of meeting them and getting to know them that becomes tedious. As you may or may not have noticed, I’m a fairly sarcastic person. Way more sarcastic if you meet me in person. I am not sarcastic in a rude way, I’m just really witty. (This I know about myself and I will say with complete humility.) But this piece of myself I tend to play down when I first meet people.

I learned my lesson when I was a freshman in college and called my roommates “uncultured swine” for not having seen a certain movie. They didn’t know me well enough to know that I totally wasn’t serious. They confided in me later that it took them a while before they understood the way I work. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself, it is this: I tend to be a pretty passionate person about…everything.

I’m finally getting to a point in my life where change is a fun thing for me. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a hard time with change. It has just never made sense to me why things have to be moving and changing and going all the time. Why can’t we just chill and read books? Why is this a bad life plan?

beginningBut like I said, change is getting easier. Even exciting. Change always brings new perspectives and opportunities. Beginnings. Let me tell you, I am so, so excited about beginnings right now. Just stop and think about beginnings for a minute.

There is such a power, such a freedom in a beginning. Literally anything can happen. You can leave the past behind you and only bring the good forward. It is a chance to be more you than you’ve ever been, and better than you were yesterday.

I’ve got some pretty big goals for 2016, and I believe with my whole heart that it’s going to a great, great year. You know why? Because I am in charge my story. I am in charge of the way I think. I am the captain of my soul. We choose how the story continues. I believe that decisions determine destiny. Decide what you want your destiny to be, and then get there.

And let me know, will you? Tell me what you dream. Blog about it, write about it, share it with me. What have you decided? What are you doing this year? Don’t make a resolution. Change your life forever. And let me know how it works for you.

I Could Talk

lightsI have been in the blog post mood all day long. Yep. Many of you will probably identify with this. I definitely have a specific mood that clearly reads, “Write a fantastic blog post today.” And today that mood has been mine.

Much of the time when I get this mood, something curbs it. Suddenly my creative juices are just…gone. Sometimes I get so worked up about what I’m going to write or what people will say about it that I can’t even handle it and then I end up posting a meme and a post about something nonsensical.

Don’t get me wrong, those posts have been known to be awesome. Some of my funniest posts of all time, really. But today that’s really not what I’m thinking.


I could talk with you about Christmas, and about how much I love it. I could talk about how I don’t understand the “stress of the holidays” mentality. I mean…we’ve known all year long that this was coming. Why didn’t you prepare, people??

When it comes to people being stressed out and freaked out during the holidays, I’m afraid I must quote Erin from the U.S version of The Office when she said very wisely, “I just don’t get it! I’m sorry! I just- I don’t get it!” snowy house

Here’s the way I see it. I celebrate Christmas because I’m a Christian and I love to celebrate the birth of my Savior. And if I truly am celebrating Him, then everything that I do this season is in service to others and is my offering to Him. And therefore, I do not feel stressed. I just feel love and peace. Those glorious things we’re all supposed to feel during Christmas.


I could also talk about college. I am returning to college in January after a very long time away and…I’m a little nervous. Mostly because I’ve transferred schools and so now I feel like a freshman all over again. Which isn’t the greatest feeling ever.


booksI could talk about my novel. It’s coming along so beautifully!! Which is the greatest news on the planet because it’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to write with such fluidity. I’m finally back into that groove of writing where I’m just really, really enjoying it.

Interestingly enough, one of the things that has contributed to this is the mentality of: is this necessary? If something isn’t necessary or at least semi-necessary to the plot, I cut it out immediately. At first I was worried that length would suffer, because I believe that length is a very essential element of a good novel, but I feel as though that part is working itself out. It’s brilliant!


I could talk about how I got a new nephew the other day. He weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and is 20 inches long. He’s so tiny and completely perfect. It was an incredible blessing in our family. Both he and my sister are doing very well. What an amazing reminder of what this time of year is really about.