Organization Station

Since ninth grade, I’ve over-involved myself to the point of exasperation because I just love experiencing a ton of different things. I graduated high school as part of 13 clubs and in my freshman year of college, joined seven different organizations. I quickly realized what clubs and organizations would actually be worth my time and now I’m down to about four.

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Actual, un-retouched footage of me when anyone needs anything

The leadership positions I’ve held in PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and AAF-NSAC (American Advertising Federation – National Student Advertising Competition) have taken up most of my time for the past two years and I had to learn how to multi-task quickly, or everything would come crashing down around me. I want to share a few ways that I employ to keep on top of my crap:

1. Make a dang list: I don’t care if it’s on a napkin, in your head or fleshed out in a complex, color-coded spreadsheet; just make one. This is continually my first piece of advice to people who feel stressed or disorganized. Personally, I just shut down if I feel too overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with all my work. Additionally, your to-do list might not be as soul-crushing as you first thought when you plan out the measures you’ll specifically take to complete a task (thank you Lucas – this advice saved my freaking life).

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2. Follow up: If you’re in a leadership position, make sure (you put it on your to-do list and) you follow up with the people you’ve delegated to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to half-ass a part of a group project at the last minute because someone dropped the ball. And I’ll be honest, sometimes I was the one who dropped the ball (because it wasn’t on my to do list). As a leader, the end result reflects on you. Even though it wasn’t “technically” your responsibility to call maintenance for more chairs,  you should have double-checked that it happened.

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3. Plan ahead: I’m not sure if there’s a worse feeling than coming into a class and realizing you completely spaced on that 3 page paper that’s due and there’s no way to make it up. Instead of taking a break by watching Netflix or surfing Facebook, use 15 minutes to map out the due dates and deadlines of projects. If they’re incredibly important, consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to have it done. This advice works in more ways than one, too! I’m currently following a strict diet, so I need to plan out my meals in advance to ensure I stick to it. Because it focuses on protein, carbs and healthy fats, I’m not able to pop into 7-11 for a cheese-stuffed soft pretzel and bottle of water to get me through the day.

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4. Take time for yourself: At the end of the day, nothing is more important than you. While it might seem noble (or even impressive) to skip a meal or two because you’re just so busy, realize that’s not healthy and  plan ahead to bring food with you if you know you’re going to be on the run that day. In addition, set a time for yourself that you stop responding to emails at night. For me, it’s right after I’ve showered and gotten into bed. At that point in the night, I’m ready to relax and go to sleep. I don’t even look at my phone when it buzzes anymore.

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What do you think about this list? How do you keep yourself organized and on-track to complete your goals? Let me know in the comments!

PS – sorry for the double Parks And Rec gifs, but Leslie Knope is legitimately my professional spirit animal. My personal, if you’re wondering, is a mix of Jessica Day and Phil Dunphy with a hint of Disney Princess.

The Power of Prayer

Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24

As some may know, I was truly saved by God two years ago when I participated in the Disney College Program. I know the exact time and place and feeling and I never want to forget it.

Lately I’ve been diving deeper into my faith: studying scripture, reading devotionals; anything I can do to really live the life Christ died for me to live. I’m trying to walk in his footsteps (like millions of others), but continually fail (like millions of others).

Today I woke up happy enough, but I seemed to have a black cloud over my head all day. I couldn’t shake the feeling of what I can only describe as despair. It weirds me out to call it that, because today wasn’t all that bad at all. I got to see my fiancé the night before, had all my work done and have been feeling pretty well physiologically.

It started when I got an early morning rejection from a job I really didn’t even want. It stung a little, but pushed it to the back of my mind and (thought) I got over it. An hour or so later I got a second rejection from a job I knew I probably wasn’t going to get but wanted anyways.

This was my third rejection in just a few days. While I’m growing thick skin, I couldn’t help but despair and panic a little. I’m getting married in a year and I need a job that I can help pay the bills with! I have school loans! I worked my butt off for four years to make myself an outstanding candidate and now I feel I’m falling flat!

Honestly, the whole “despairing at jobs” thing was just a mental downward spiral for me – I’m applying early and these places need to hire someone now and it’s unfair (and selfish) for me to think they’d hold a job for some kid for four months! Now that I have a little perspective, I can see that. But at 10 a.m. this morning, I did not.

I talked to God on my walk home and read my devotionals, which really gave me peace but I still felt that there was something holding me back. The entire day I had been talking to God, asking him for peace; asking for a path or an opportunity to see his plan or an answer, but I just felt silence.

Then I got a call from Lucas and talked to him about how I was feeling. Suddenly, I realized where all my problems had stemmed from: a day or two ago, we heard he may deploy and I didn’t realize how much it affected me. As I looked back through the day, all my worries and thoughts were around him and his safety. On the phone he laughed and said, “Didn’t I tell you? That’s not happening anymore – we don’t have to worry.” I let out an audible squeal – thoroughly overjoyed at the news. At that moment, I look outside and it’s snowing.

How perfect, right?!

God knew the worries of my heart before I did and sent me a new beginning; a pure, fresh breath to the day to remind me that 1) He’s always with me and listening and 2) no matter what my situation in life should be, I can’t hang my happiness and joy on it.

I’m constantly amazed by the glory and power of God. It’s truly astonishing and I am in total awe, still, of what he did in my life today.

Tonight I want to keep all the college seniors and military significant others in my prayers.

Seniors – I feel you. It’s a tough road to hoe and nerve-wracking and scary and unknown. As many times as I’ve offered my life up to God, I keep pulling back the reins and try to steer it where I think it should go. So I pray that we all let the Lord’s will work in and through our lives and that we can wait and see what wonders he will work through us.

Military wives, girlfriends, family and friends – I give you my 1000 percent respect. I didn’t even get a taste – barely a whiff – of what your daily life is like and I went into a mental tailspin. I pray that the Lord continually brings you peace and strength and that he provides for you and your families while your loved one(s) are way.

Coming back the the verse in Mark, I urge everyone to realize how great our God is. He’s not a spiteful or selfish God; he loves you so much that he sent the thing most important to him – his Son – to die so we could be with him. He states – “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe you have received it and it will be yours.” How crazy is that?!

I needed this verse today. Maybe you did too! And remember: God is always with you.

The Countdown Continues

Less than two weeks remain until my great adventure in the Happiest Place on Earth, and I’m feeling a lot of mixed emotions. Actually, this is kind of heavy… so strap in!

When I got my acceptance letter, I was knee-deep in clubs, organizations, classes, and friends. Literally. When I got the acceptance email, I was next up to present my status report at our PRSSA meeting. Though I was shaking with excitement, a few voices immediately asked what I was going to do about the rest of my year, one of those voices being my own.

Because I was so busy, I didn’t have time to comprehend exactly what I was getting myself into, how I would do it, and how it would affect me and the people in my life. First and foremost: my love, Lucas.

Lucas has been nothing but supportive of my decision to go to Florida. When I received my acceptance, he was the first person I called. With our luck, he had class for three hours at that exact time and couldn’t call back. Well, the initial excitement turned into nervousness when I saw his name and ringtone buzz on my phone. We’ve been in a successful long-distance relationship for over a year, and each day I find something new about him to love. With that being said, we can’t wait to spend summers together. We live close(ish) to each other when we’re home. Last year I spent my entire summer at college orientating the new freshman, and he was overseas. We were really looking forward to spending the summer together and finally feeling like a normal couple. My acceptance email brought that fantasy crashing down though: the program I was awarded was Spring Advantage (February 2015-August 2015). Nervousness seeped into every cell I had when I picked up the phone to talk to him (all the while, I’m still at this PRSSA meeting). I’m not going to lie, it was a hard conversation. Being part of the DCP was something I had yearned for for years, but with Lucas in my life, my priorities had changed. He was the most important thing to me, and the biggest factor that affected my decision. Being the perfect boyfriend he was, he ended the phone call with an ultimatum: “Either you do the Disney College Program, or we break up.” In every instance and every way, he puts my needs and wants before his own and never ceases to amaze me.

While that story is all well and good, it’s not where it ends. This decision was not easy for us. We’ve had our moments of serious discussions about the impact of the program on various aspects of our lives. There’ve been good and bad days with the DCP in our minds, and I don’t think every day will be perfect again until I’m back home. I’m going to decline sharing more on this, because ultimately, it is between Lucas and I, and there are a few things we would like to keep private. I just want everyone to know how perfect he is being, and that I appreciate and cling to his support more than he’ll ever know. He truly is the most amazing man out there. 🙂

My parents divorced when I was 16, and 4 years later I still try my hardest to abide to the 50/50 custody we all agreed on. Obviously, things come up and it can’t be a perfect system, but I try to do the best I can. Juggling two family who want me full-time, along with my adopted family (Lucas’) who also want me full time does end up taking a toll. I’ve always wanted to please everyone, even if it hurts me. And for the past 4 years, I feel like I’ve been doing that. Every time I turn around or make a decision, I feel like I’m hurting someone. I’ll be honest, I’m a young girl in love, so I spend most of my time around Lucas and his family. But then that takes away from my mom or my dad, who haven’t gotten to see me at all in a week or more. And then when I try to visit them, I miss Lucas so then I’m miserable. It’s a never-ending circle and it’s really, really hard. Lucas and I fantasize about getting married and starting our own life daily, and one thing I’m so excited for is to finally have my own life with someone I love. I think that’s another reason I’m excited to go to Disney. No one is going to tell me what to do there. Their reach can’t touch me 1000 miles away, living my own life, paying my own bills. I just wish Lucas could experience it with me, and move down with me. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be away from my best friend for seven months until now. I’ve laughed with him, I’ve cried with him; I’ve spent the best of my life with him, and a little of the worst. I know it’s going to be the hardest goodbye I ever say. And I know it’s not a fatal goodbye; it’s a “see-you-later.” But it really just hit me that I’m less than 10 days away from leaving everything I’ve known for so long and I’m scared.

Maybe the DayQuil I’ve been taking to rid me of a horrible cold is kicking in or maybe I’m over-emotional, or maybe it’s both. Disney is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to make fantastic memories with everyone I’ve already met, but I know I’m leaving a lot behind too. I refuse to see it as leaving behind though. They’re all coming with me, they’ll be in my mind and in my heart. And I wear Lucas’ dogtags every day to remind me just how lucky and blessed by God I am.

So now for the happy part… I GO TO DISNEY IN NINE DAYS! I’ve been waiting for months to get the countdown to single-digits and it’s finally here! I actually have a lot more to pack and I’m getting nervous about housing (my roommates and I were all split up:'(, but we’re still doing a gift exchange and going to dinner and being best friends!!) and my role (I’m in entertainment so lots of people will be seeing me, and I don’t want to mess up!), but I think I’ll be fine once I get into the groove. Keep up with me via this blog and my YouTube Channel!

If you’re still here, I congratulate you. This blog just acted as a therapist for me this last hour, and it felt damn good to get all those feelings out. Cheers 🙂

Plan – Unlikely (Part 4)

The random night was all but forgotten in a few weeks. After things settled down, I put my plan into action again.

At exactly 6:17, Lissa walks out of the dining hall and I fall in step with her.

“I realized I never thanked you,” I say. “It was kind of a weird night and I was out of it till the next morning.” She nodded, excitedly accepting my thanks. “Lissa,” I pause for effect, then stop to look at her. “Want to hang out?”

Her eyes widen in excitement. “You mean, like, hang out… With me?” Internally, I laugh. How could I not? She’s comical.

“Yes!” I say. “It’s pretty nice outside, do you want to go for a boat ride?” She doesn’t even answer, she just sprints for the lake. I yell after her, “I’m going to get Piper!” I think she broke the sound barrier getting to the boat and inspecting every inch.

Killing her is going to be easier than I thought, as long as I can keep it from Piper. Some may think killing is going to far, but to me it makes perfect sense. She’s unnecessary and she’s hurting my family. And I have to protect my family.

“Pipe!” I call into our room. She’s sitting on her bed doing homework, as usual. Our small eruption over the weekend has been all but forgotten, and she immediately jumps up when I invite her to a ride in the boat.

“I invited Lissa,” I announce while we’re walking down the staircase. Her questioning eyes examine me. “I thought we should meet her! Don’t worry, I haven’t told her anything. I’m waiting for you to do it, if you want to do it at all!” Piper nods her head and wraps herself in thought the entire walk down to the boathouse. Lissa is already making commotion.

“I can’t believe I’m in the Trectorini’s boat!” She squeals, jolting the boat every which way with her excitement. I untie it from the dock and rev up the engine as she tries to calm herself down.

Lissa chirps in a sing-songy voice, “I can’t believe I’m with the Trectorini Twins! Hanging out, doing girl stuff, being friends!” This girl has no filter. Her emotions are way too external. I see the thought dance in Piper’s mind too, “How are we related to her?

Piper engages Lissa and some small talk, and really only has to say a few words before Lissa gets going. She gave us her entire life story, from birth until Calton. Since she’s more in the dark than we are, not a word of value is said.

We finally arrive at my desired location. The lake turns into a marshy town and is covered by thick foliage, with a rickety pier to dismount on. The surrounding microcosm is filled with awkward townies and a questionable diner, but it’s been here since anyone can remember.

“Wow!” Lissa screeched, jumping out of the boat to go explore. I begin to anchor the boat to the flimsy wood, but Piper takes over for me, thankfully. I need something to keep her busy. I grab my backpack, full with supplies and make my way over to Lissa, all fake happiness aside.

She’s already past the diner and I duck behind a dumpster to take out a brick that I’ve been saving for a very specific purpose. As quietly as I can, I sneak behind buildings on her left and wait until she passes the general store that I wait behind. It gives me a strength to know I can fix what my father polluted. Suddenly, Piper appears next to Lissa. Spotting my eyes peeking out from the behind the store, she pulls Lissa along and hides with me. I immediately drop the brick behind my back, hoping they won’t notice it.

“What’s wrong?” Lissa asks loudly. Piper shushes her and I realize why she pulled Lissa under cover. Voices begin to arise from the alley on the opposite side of the street. One is husky, and there’s an awful nasally one.

“Who are these girls anyways?” the nasally one asks in a perturbed tone. “Why are they so important?”

The husky one answers him, “Who cares? Da boss says dey need to be gone so we gone dem.” I roll my eyes at his moronic language. Piper and Lissa look more distressed over the fact that the idiots are looking for girls; presumably us. I think Lissa starts to cry.

A lot of good it did her, and us for that matter. We were discovered because she couldn’t keep her heinous sobs inside of her mouth. The husky one pulls us out of our hiding place. His burly hands grope at our necks and incite screams in Lissa. I roll my eyes and tell her to calm down.

We’re placed before a pair of men that couldn’t have been more different. The motley two consisted of a large man who I earlier identified as the husky voice. His black mane drips hair gel, and the tracksuit he’s wearing seems to have experienced far too many meatball subs. There’s a tall gangly one, with hollow eyes and pale skin. It’s easy to identify him as the nasally voice, because his nose seems to be the largest part about him. The one who hasn’t spoken yet parts the previous two with his hands, making a grand entrance.

“Shut up you two,” he says in a playful tone, a smile dancing on his lips. “Someone might hear us.”

He’s awful. He’s awful and beautiful. His tone oozes douchebag. His head won’t even fit in the alley it’s so swollen by praise he probably didn’t deserve. I hate him. I hate him and his stupidly beautiful eyes, piercing ice blue that seem to look right into your heart. I hate his swooshy auburn hair that falls perfectly in his eyes and his freckles that accentuate his prominent cheek bones. He dons a smug grin that I’d love to wipe off with a punch… or a kiss.

“Well boys, it looks like we’ve found our prize!” His pompous strut around the three of us turns my insides.

“What do you want from us?” I bark at him. I try to appear as confident as him and saunter off, but Guido shoves his hand in my chest.

“Get your hand off of me!” I protest! The stupidly handsome one slides up close to my body, pressing his against mine while his arm supported his weight on the grimy brick wall. His sly grin and sparkling eyes almost make me feel something other than hate.

“C’mon,” he coos. “Don’t you want to play?” I stare back at his smolder with the iciest disgust I could muster.

“Get away from me,” I warn.

“Or what, you’re gonna hit him?” Nose-Boy chuckles from the sidelines. The look Handsome shoots him silences his laughter.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sweetheart. Your daddy owes my daddy a lot of money, and we’ve come to collect.”

“I don’t have any money to give you,” I say, my confidence faltering a little.

“I didn’t say we were here for money,” he whispered in my ear before seizing the back of my hair and pulling me down. “This one’s first. Once the feisty one’s gone, the other two will be a piece of cake.” Oily and Nose-Boy huddle around me and Handsome starts to undo his belt.

“This might hurt a little,” he laughed as the other two join in the sick joke.

Before I knew what was happening, Oily and Nose-Boy dropped to the ground, holding their heads. Lissa stares at me wide-eyed, with my brick in her hands. She knocks Handsome on the head, and I don’t even thank her before we start running. Since his two henchmen were recovering from the bump on their head and blocked the way to the street, we had no where to go but the further into the town. Oily was agile for his size, and Nose-Boy was but an arm’s length away from be. I heard Handsome in the distance shrieking orders and trying to catch up. Then, I caught my foot on a rock and I fall. I saw darkness again. The same darkness I had seen the night Lissa turned into a monster. Unsure of what was about to come, I let the darkness take me.

Funeral – Unlikely (Part 2)

We are gathered here this evening to say our final goodbyes to a dearly departed friend. His kindness and friendship will be missed by all. The Lord has taken our dearly departed Joe to a better place,” the Reverend drones on in his repetitive, generic speech. If an audience had shown up, they’d be asleep by now. The church is much too big for a three person funeral; well, four if you count the stiff in the coffin.

Suicide, they said. Swallowed a bunch of pills and washed it down with a handle of Jack. Life was apparently “too hard to handle,” as it was put in the note. I never saw the note, but I know that none of it is true.

I look at my father in his open casket. His face is pale and lifeless, like you’d expect any dead person to look. I’m closer to my father than Piper is, which means that I get two calls a week instead of one. Despite a limited relationship, I love him more than anything else in my life. The news of his death rocked me into oblivion, I just didn’t let it reflect externally. In my mind, I’m crying, screaming, fighting, and dying all at the same time. I’m grasping at straws for any answer or indication foreshadowing his death. I comb through letters and phone calls and emails, but in all of them, he maintained his soft tone and polite disinterest. I scrutinize his body, looking for answers.

There’s a scratch on his cheek almost covered up by the mortician’s powder. The faint pink line reached from his right temple to his lips, which look fuller than normal. Even though he’s lifeless, blood still seems to be swelling under his lower lip. I look even closer… and a patch of his hair is missing by his ear.

“Piper!” I bark in the softest voice I can. Her gaze doesn’t leave the altar and she replies out of the side of her mouth.

“What? Pay attention!” I scoff at her manners.

“You know this is wrong.”

“What’s wrong?” She asks, with more interest this time.

“Why would dad kill himself? He just closed that new deal, we’re getting good grades, he even started talking to that waitress at the diner! What could have gone so wrong that he wanted to die?” A flicker of doubt burns in Piper’s hazel eyes. She tries to shake it off.

“We don’t know what he was thinking. He doesn’t tell us everything, you know.”

He doesn’t tell you everything’ I wanted to say, but I bit my tongue. I pressed on with my questions.

“Why would he have a scratch on his cheek then? A fat lip? And unless he started aging really quickly, I don’t remember him having a bald spot.” Piper ignored me until the ceremony was over. When we’re walking to our car in the deserted parking lot, I finally explode.

“Why are you acting like you don’t care?” I exclaim, letting my blood boil. “You’ve always been like this. You take things at face value and never question anything. It’s like you don’t even care that dad’s gone!”

Piper whips her head around, her eyes wide and mad with rage. It stops me in my tracks.

“You think I don’t care that dad’s gone? That we’re orphans? That we literally have nothing? I can’t believe you would accuse me of that. You didn’t even show up for half of the meeting yesterday! I was the one that found out first. They put all of the stress on me. They told me that dad went broke and never made a will, meaning we have nothing. They told me that they bank is taking the house as compensation for all of our debt. They told me that our tuition is going to run out after this semester.” Piper lowered her eyes to the ground.

“Larkin, they told me we have a half-sister.” My jaw drops to the cracked concrete.

“What? We have a sister?” I cry in disbelief. Piper still doesn’t look at me.

Her voice breaks when she answers. “She goes to Calton.”

We’re starting to attract an audience with our dramatic family problems, so hurriedly, we duck into the car and make the long drive back to Calton.

“Her name is Lissa, and she’s a grade lower than us. ” Piper starts. “They didn’t tell me any specifics, but I’m guessing dad’s business trips involved more than just business. Apparently, he started her at Calton when he started us.” A disgusted look spreads over my face. Betrayed! Lied to! I knew my father wasn’t a saint, but I didn’t think he was the devil.

“She doesn’t know either, though,” Piper finishes. “No one’s ever told her. She thinks her great aunt is paying for her tuition.”

Piper was calm now. Getting things off her chest always alleviates her stress. She turned some radio station on. Sound or static, it makes no difference to me. I know I have a problem to fix, and her name is Lissa.

The Disenchanted

I hate growing up.

I guess it’s good that I have parents to push me to succeed in life. Sometimes, though, that young adult mind frame takes over and I can’t help but push them off and say, “I can do it myself!” Only, I really can’t, because they’re the ones with the money, contacts, and experience.

This is really about me getting a job. Technically, I already have two. But one is part-time and doesn’t pay very well (it’s more of a hobby for which I get paid) and the other I haven’t contacted in months. Don’t get me wrong, I feel a lot of regret for letting it go on that long, but I try to comfort myself by thinking that I did try to get in contact. Like twice. I’ve realized though, I’m going to have to pull up my big girl pants and actually care about my future.

I’m not a little girl anymore. After almost two decades of everything I wanted being handed to me on a silver platter, it might be hard to adjust to not having that anymore. I talk about how people should follow their dreams, don’t bow to “the Man”, and believe in ones self. All of these things are true, but sometimes it just isn’t necessarily possible to do. The hardest thing for me this summer will be getting out of my dream world. How can I complete my fantastical summer bucket list if I’m folding clothes eight hours a day? Honestly, I don’t even want to show my face in that place, I’m so embarrassed.

It’s very disenchanting to recognize yourself growing up. They tell you when you’re young, “Just enjoy it; don’t wish time away!” Only I did enjoy it and I didn’t wish time away. I just want more. If I could go back to my sophomore year of high school for one more year, I would probably cry from relief. College tours were just starting, friendships were really getting close, relationships were stupid, yet wonderful. Now, life is completely opposite. Life really sucks. I’ve been procrastinating the oncoming suckiness, and I still have a small hope that I can prevail, but it’s all just so daunting. What’s a small little girl from a small little town against the entire universe? I don’t want to be sucked into the dreariness of a daily corporate routine. I don’t want to work for anyone but myself. I don’t want to follow the rules of the world. I want my life to be in my own hands. That being said, I’m pretty sure the only job in the world left for me would be God, and let’s face it, He does it an infinite amount better than I would.

So where does that leave me? Writing in my room, afraid to walk out the front door, postponing the oncoming destruction of my little, innocent soul? Maybe not. Maybe I walk out that door with perspective. Through my tumult of emotions and thoughts, maybe I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and instead of being afraid, work toward my ultimate goal while keeping what I want and who I am in mind. Life is a definite ride, and people always say that we’re all passengers. But I want to be the operator.