A Little Bit of Growing Up

I’ve been very absent in the blog world lately but I’m sure that only a handful of people have noticed. It seems like every time I try to write, something juts feels off. I’m not sure if it’s because my world has been spun in so many directions these past few months or if I just needed some time to breathe and think without expressing those thoughts. Either way, I feel like I’m well over due a post.

As I accepted this internship and prepared to head out, I’m not sure what my expectations were. I knew I wanted to see more of the country; I wanted to make more friends outside of my circle; and I wanted to learn more about myself. I think that all three of those have pretty much been met. As I flipped back in my journal to the days when I first found out I would be coming up here, I was so excited. It seemed to be all I could talk or write about. I was initially disappointed I wasn’t going to be going to Hawaii or some where tropical, but I also felt like there was a reason I was chosen to come up here instead. I can’t say that there aren’t days that I wish I was laying in the sunshine on an island somewhere, because there definitley are. But I also can’t say I would redo anything if I was given the chance – not that I would be anwyays.

If I would have gotten sent to a different location everything would be different. I would have never met any of the people that I have this summer. I wouldn’t have gotten to experience the beauty of this really weird state. Not only have I learned to live with girls from different states, we’ve learned to rely on each other and be there for each other. Being 1,300 miles away from my support system has been difficult, to say the least. On days when I simply wanted to go to my sister’s room and plop down on her bed to chat, I had to instead go to my roommate’s. On nights when I just wanted my mom to cook me dinner, I had to cook something myself or make a sandwich. To say that I’ve grown up and became more independent is an understatement.

I debated a lot about throwing in the towel and coming home early these last couple of weeks. I had many conversations with my family and friends about what I should do. Do I stick it out? Do I come home and enjoy the last few weeks of summer with my people? Do I say screw my contract? Or do I honor it out and suck it up?

I’ll be honest here, I actually bought a plane ticket. I was gonna board a plane and come back to Nashville with my best friend after her visit. I was gonna do it. I was so excited. But I had a knot in my stomach immediately after I bought it. It didn’t feel right. Quitting isn’t in my blood. My parents hadn’t raised me to bail when things got tough, no matter how much we missed each other. From as early as I can remember my parents have taught me to push through difficult situations and try to make the most of them.

One night, my mom called me and told me how proud she was that I had been up here for so long when I’ve been pretty homesick. She told me that it would be okay if I ended things a little bit early. She told me she would support me no matter what I did and that she wanted me to do what was going to be best for myself. I wanted to go home and hug her so badly. But I knew I would look back and be frustrated with myself. I’d feel like I gave up, like I wasn’t tough enough to finish something that I had started. And the thought of that was greater than my homesickness right then, and that was a lot.

So I refunded my plane ticket; I put my suitcase back in my closet; I decided to suck it up and do what I’d been taught to do. As much as I love traveling and experiencing new things, I’m not sure if being away from my family long term is what’s best for me right now. I still want to see so many places and do so many things. I want to study abroad for a semester; I want to hike the AT through, but I also wanna hang out with my parents on a Friday night, laughing as my dad makes fun of my mom for falling asleep at nine pm.

In a perfect world, I could bring my people with me everywhere that I go. But life is complicated and messy and some of the things that I desire and crave aren’t the desires of the people that I love the most in this world. I guess this summer I’ve learned to be okay with.

I have a couple of weekend trips planned with my roommates to wrap up the summer that I’m really looking forward to, but I’m also looking forward to boarding a plane that flashes Nashville. 

1,300 miles away and I still feel the love and support of my people. I still have a place to call home even if I haven’t seen it in a couple of months. I still have a life waiting for me back in the mountains, even when my time here feels endless. And I’m not sure if things could get any better than that.

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A Big Smile

Yesterday was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and the best part was that I didn’t have to work. One of my roommates had the day off too, so we decided it was the perfect day to go to Acadia Park and do some exploring. 

We packed some lunches and decided to call a cab to take us to the park entrance we wanted to be at that was about six miles away. 

When we got there, we decided to the do the Beehive Trail. I was excited, but a little nervous because the hike is basically straight up a mountain. The entire climb, my legs were shaky and I felt like I was hanging on to the metal rings for dear life, but the views were so worth it. The sky didn’t have a cloud in it; the water was the prettiest color of blue; the trees seemed to stretch on for miles. The higher we climbed, the prettier everything kept getting. 


It made me remember why I was so excited for this internship: I’m living in on of the prettiest places in the country and I get to explore it everyday. 


After we took a million pictures and finished the hike, we decided to go to Sand Beach, since it was right up the road. We really wanted to swim, but the water was colder than water should be allowed to be. We tried to brave it out and swim, but we only lasted about five minutes before our lower bodies went numb and we imagined our lips turning blue, so we got out. 


We laid around on the beach for about an hour, but the wind was blowing pretty hard and the sand was beginning to cake our skin. It was impossible to keep my eyes open, much less read my book. So we decided to explore some more. 

After we raked an incredible amount of sand from our bodies, we decided to to walk a short mile up the road to Thunder Hole. On the way, we got sidetracked and explored some of the bluffs. We ended up climbing down to the water and taking a million more pictures. The coast is breathtaking, freezing cold, but absolutely breathtaking. 

Don’t worry mom, it was safe and we were careful. ūüôā



This place is growing on me slowly, but surely. 

When we finally got to Thunder Hole, I was unimpressed. There were a lot of people there, more people there than I’d yet to see in the park. Leading down to the hike between the two cliffs were manmade stairs, making it an easy twenty step walk from the road. The actual hole was pretty cool though. The space between the cliffs seemed to be naturally hollowed-out and when big waves crashed in and filled the space, it sounded like thunder had cracked in the sky. We stayed there for a while and listened to several big waves and each time we were surprised it sounded exactly like thunder, even though we knew it would. 


‚ÄčI’m so thankful for days like this; I’m thankful to have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and on such a beautiful planet; I’m thankful for friends who explore with me. I can’t help but stop to appreciate everything I have. I definitely ended the day with a huge grin plastered across my face. 

Find You Here

I grew up a lot during my first year of college, but I’ve already grown so much in the short month I’ve been out of Tennessee.¬†I guess being a¬†thousand miles from my people didn’t really give me a choice.¬†

I’d be lying to you if I said my relationship with Jesus has improved since I’ve been gone, because it hasn’t. I don’t feel His presence here and I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t really been looking for it.

I had Saturday off work and I was frustrated with how the last couple of days had gone, so I knew that in order to keep my sanity and my positive mindset, I needed to get outside for a while.

So around 10 am, I started walking towards a trail. The day started out relatively warm. The sun wasn’t overbearing, but it was definitely present. The rain in the forecast kept getting pushed later and later in the day, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

As the day went on and I walked farther and farther from civilization, I began to feel better. I was going to be fine. I was going to make it through the next couple of months and make the most out of them. I was going to learn from this and grow through this. I was going to find Jesus in the midst of this chaos.

After walking for a couple of hours, I came upon a picnic area and stopped to eat my sandwich. It was the first place I had service in a couple of hours, so I began scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw that one of my favorite authors Annie Downs had posted something, I went to her profile and began going through her posts, which then led me to her podcast, That Sounds Fun.¬†I’d listened to a couple of her episodes before and I really enjoyed them.

 

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As I was going through them, I noticed one with Ellie Holcomb, a Christian singer. I’d listened to a couple of her songs before and really liked them so I figured,¬†why not?¬†I was a good distance from being home so I might as well do something to occupy my time.

 

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In the podcast, Ellie talked about her new album¬†Red¬†Sea Road.¬†I immediately began to love her not only as a musician, but as a person. Her love for Christ runs so deep and she’s¬†so sure¬†of her faith.

Annie asked her what her favorite song in the album was and she, without hesitation, said Find You Here. She wrote it when she found out that her dad was diagnosed with cancer, but still kept a smile of his face.

Wow. 

What a slap in the face. 

She found His presence after receiving potentially the worst news of someone’s life. And yet, they still managed to smile and trust Him.¬†Why are we so¬†quick to blame God in our times of sadness and frustration, but so¬†hesitant to praise Him in the times of joy and happiness?¬†

I’ve¬†always¬†been envious of people that¬†feel¬†Jesus’s presence. I want to feel like the Holy Spirit is always with me.

And then I wondered: Am I even looking?  

Would I even realize if Jesus Himself stopped me? Or would I be too worried about the task I was on my way to do? Would I have my nose too deep in my phone to even look up?

It’s not that the Holy Spirit hasn’t come with me to Maine, it’s that I’m not looking for Him. Because let’s be honest, it’s hard. Sometimes we’d rather fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow than to talk to God for just two minutes or we skip our quite time with Him because we need an extra few minutes in the shower.

God is here, right now. All I have to do is open my eyes and look for Him. He’s right there during my walk to work in the rain. He’s right there as I look at old pictures of my family and realize how much as changed. He’s right with me, every single step of the way.

Before I left for Maine, my nana gave me one of her rings: a beautiful pearl with a gold band. I love it; it hasn’t left my hand and I’m not really a jewelry person. One morning as I stuck it back on after my shower, I felt the need to text her and told her how much I loved it and that I hadn’t taken it off and how much I loved her and missed her. I didn’t think much of it at the time, she was on my heart, so I let her know.

Later that day, my mom told me that my great grandma (my nana’s mom) had taken a nasty fall and was in surgery. I could only imagine how devastated my nana had been all morning.

It was ironic and probably not on accident that had been the morning I told my nana I was thinking about her, after all the morning when I mindlessly slipped her ring on. I can’t help but think that the Holy Spirit plays a role in things like that.

As I continue to move forward, I’m continually reminding myself to look for Jesus.¬†He’s not¬†going to leave you, find Him here.¬†

Acadia National Park

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I’m a sucker for fun hikes and pretty views. Anyone that knows me shouldn’t be surprised that I fell in love with the national park up here.

My first day off work I was planning on sleeping in, doing laundry, and finding a peaceful place to read, but when one of my roommates told me that she wanted to go to Acadia, I wasn’t about to turn her down.

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Our only way to get places¬†at the moment is by foot. We’re eventually going to have bikes, but for now we’re walking everywhere. It’s hasn’t been bad since it isn’t too hot up here yet.

Around 11, with full water bottles, tightly-laced shoes, and big smiles we set off towards the park on foot. The walk to the park entrance was about seven miles and it took about two hours to get there. My roommate grew up in Washington and has never been in the south; I grew up in Tennessee and hadn’t been out west until my training in Utah. You can only imagine that we both had a lot of questions about how the other person grew up. I talked a lot about my family, greasy fried foods, sweet tea, and my love for books. She talked a lot about the weather over there, her travels – including studying abroad in Spain, and her family’s love for hiking. It was pretty cool to get to her know her a little bit better and see the¬†differences in how we grew up.

After seven sweaty miles, we made it to one of the park’s entrances, only to find out that you needed a pass to enter. We had been told that you only needed a pass if you were driving and since we were on foot, we hadn’t bothered to look into the rule anymore. We explained to one of the rangers that we were living and working in Bar Harbor for the summer and we had just walked seven miles to get here.¬†Did I mention we walked those seven miles? Yeah? Okay.¬†My feet were starting to blister and my water bottle was nearly empty. Reluctantly and¬†thankfully,¬†the ranger let us in.¬†PRAISE.¬†

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The main place we wanted to go was just inside this entrance of the park: Sand Beach. When we got to the parking lot, the most amazing smell in the world hit us. It was a mix of salt, lemons, pinewoods, fresh air, and sunscreen. I wanted to bottle it up and make it into a candle. When we finally got to the water, I ripped my boots off and ran to put my feet in the water. It was still pretty cold and I had on capris, so just my feet in would have to be enough.

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The air had the perfect amount of salt in it. The water was so blue and peaceful. The mountains and rocks that surrounded the beach stretched for miles. I felt like I was in the scene of a movie. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how beautiful it was. I didn’t mind the seaweed. I didn’t mind the tourists – that definitely didn’t appreciate these views as much as I did. I didn’t mind my aching feet. I was in absolute paradise. I still can’t get over it.¬†Was that real? Did that¬†really¬†happen?¬†YES!¬†I’m living in the coolest place.

After all of our pictures and more exploring the beach, we laid in the sand and attempted to get a little bit of sun. There was a mild breeze and it was the perfect temperature. The seagulls were flying around, but they weren’t landing all over you and driving you crazy. The sand was made of tiny broken pieces of shells and felt so good. Not a care in the world crossed my mind.

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I was exhausted on the walk back, but we agreed that we deserved to stop for ice cream. During the trek back into town, we didn’t talk much, just kept our heads and walked pretty quick to be sure to get back into town with plenty of daylight. The thought of two scoops of mint chocolate chip on a waffle cone kept me putting one foot in front of another the entire seven miles.

After we got home that night I crashed and slept really hard for about ten hours – I felt like I could have easily have slept double that. I also decided to make a bucket list of things that I wanted to do – not just for the summer, but over a time period much longer. I made sure to put on the list to visit all of the national parks. Road trip, in the future, anyone?

Limitless

A year ago if someone would have told me I’d be able to travel around the country at nineteen years old and¬†get paid to do so, I probably would have laughed at them. Now I’m laughing at myself for thinking that limits exist.¬†Sure there are some limits. Two big ones will¬†always be¬†time¬†and¬†money.¬†But as life goes on, I’m learning that the only true limits are ones that you create for yourself. Excuses are huge limits that we make for ourselves.

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But here I am, at nineteen, living a life that a lot of people only dream to live.¬†And I’m not trying to sound¬†conceited, believe me, that is¬†not¬†the point of this post.¬†The point of this post is that if you have a dream or a goal, then there are ways to make them happen. There are ways to do what you once thought was laughable.

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The companies that I’m interning for this summer are¬†amazing. Let me just tell you a¬†little bit¬†about them because I could probably talk about them all day. ¬†Cariloha is a store that sells products that are only made from bamboo. They’re most famously known for their sheets and other bedding products. They have incredible mattresses, pillows, towels, and clothes that are made from bamboo. The best part? It’s environment friendly¬†and affordable.¬†Del Sol is a company where all the products change color in the sun. They have tee-shirts, sunglasses, nail polish, keychains, and so many other things. The environment in the store is super fun.

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While these companies have incredible products, they’re about so much more. Cariloha and Del Sol are all about the experience. Having energy, fun, and a positive attitude are some of the things this company strives¬†for. It was crazy actually, the CEO of this incredibly – well profited company took time out of several of his hectic days to teach and talk to a group of interns.¬†What other company does that?¬†

All the people that work at the corporate headquarters absolutely love their job. They wake up and they’re excited about going to work; they’re excited to learn something new every day; they’re excited to¬†interact with their coworkers.¬†What other job is¬†truly¬†like that?¬†

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While I’m doing my internship in Maine, I’ll be working at both Del Sol and Cariloha selling their products. But it’s so much more. I’m making sure the costumer has fun and enjoys their vacation; I’m promoting quality products at an affordable price. All the while, living in paradise. The company takes care of their employees and at nineteen years old, I’m truly treated like an employee of a successful company. It’s been an amazing experience and it hasn’t even technically started.

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I love seeing the world and meeting new people. Who doesn’t, honestly? But I would never get to do these things if I hadn’t taken a chance. I took a chance and applied for this incredible opportunity, very unsure of if I even stood a chance among the other 1600 applications that were turned in. Yet here¬†I am, typing this from my new apartment for this summer in Bar Harbor, Maine- where I get to stay at rent free.

I’m learning not to create limits for myself and for my life. I’m learning to take the opportunities that I want, even if it means risking being uncomfortable or even a little scared.

 

A Day of Solo Traveling 


Disclaimer: this is the third time I’ve typed this post. The wifi at my hotel and at Starbucks doesn’t like me very much, but hopefully this time around works. ūüôā 


After I hugged both of my parents goodbye for three months, I didn’t turn back around as I walked away. It didn’t even occur to me to look back until an hour or so later. As I waited to board my first flight of the day, I wished I would have looked back and caught one last glimpse of their smiles and took a mental image. 

I knew I would be traveling solo. That didn’t scare me or even make me nervous. As I looked around, it seemed like everyone, besides me, was in a group or a pair, and it made me sad for just a second. Turning around and going back never crossed my mind. It wasn’t an option for me. But I did wish I would have gotten one more hug. 

When I boarded my first flight, it was mainly full. I got stuck in a middle seat near the front between two older men. The man in the aisle seat put in headphones and immediately fell asleep, but the guy by the window was extremely friendly and talkative. He had a thin mustache and an awkward goatee. His glasses were more like goggles because they wrapped around his face and connected in the back with a black strap. His breath smelled like mushrooms, which was odd to me since it was 6 in the morning. We talked for most of the four hour flight. He traveled a lot for work. His daughter was around my age. He lived in Texas. He’d been to nearly every state besides Maine. He answered my questions about flying and my next flight. 

Best friend number one. 

When I got to the airport in Phoenix, I had about 45 minutes before my next flight. I wasn’t sure how long the walk was or how long the bathroom line was, so I walked pretty fast. A guy on a trolley pulled up beside me and yelled, “Hop on! I take you fast!” So I hopped on and he took me fast. 

“College?” he asked. I nodded. 

“What’s your major?”

“Communications,” I told him, grinning that the answer “undecided” no longer followed that question. 

“Oh! On tv? I can see it! You’re a doll!” 

Best friend number two. 

My flight from Arizona to Salt Lake lasted a little over an hour and I slept most of it. Neither of my seat mates had much to say and I was perfectly okay with that. 

I got a ride to my hotel and arrived there around 11:30 am. My check-in wasn’t until 3, but I had no where else to go. I had two suitcases and I was exhausted. I plopped down in the “lobby” – two small chairs and a wobbly coffee table – and planned to read until three. I think the lady at the front desk felt bad for me because she ended up letting me check in around 12. 

Best friend number three. 

I took a glorious three hour nap in the lumpy, stiff bed. 

Best friend number four. 

When I woke up, I unpacked a couple of things and it was around 4. I decided to walk to the place where I’ll be doing my training all week. It was only a 20 minute walk and the weather was perfect. When I got there, I didn’t really plan to go in, but I did anyways. When I walked inside, the first face I saw was the woman that I’d  been in contact with since applying. I recognized her immediately since she’d also done my Skype interview. I’ve never met a nicer person. I helped set up tables and stayed and talked with her for a little while. She told me about Trax – the train system that takes you downtown. She ended up giving me a ride to the Trax, drawing me a map, calling her husband to double check she had everything right, and telling me she’d pick me up at my hotel in the morning to take me to training. A couple of hours later, when I was downtown, she text me to make sure I was good and getting around okay. 

Best friend number five. 

After I explored Salt Lake for a couple of hours, I came back on the Trax. It was around 9 and I didn’t feel like walking the thirty minutes to my hotel, so I called an uber (which is one of the greatest inventions). The guy that picked me up was nice, but we didn’t talk much. He ended up turning down the wrong road and nearly hitting a car head on almost giving me a heart attack. I won’t call him a best friend, but at least I made it out alive and didn’t have to walk. 

It was a great day and I’m so excited for training this week and so many cool adventures the rest of the summer! 

Eight Short Days

This week has been a strange one. I took my last final last Friday and finished up my freshmen year. What an awesome feeling. I spent my last weekend in Chattanooga packing up my dorm and spending as much time with my precious friends as I could.

I was a lot sadder than I thought I’d be when the last box was sealed shut and my room was empty. When I got to Chattanooga in August, I didn’t give much thought to my dorm. The white concrete walls weren’t very inviting or visually appealing. But as the year progressed, I became more and more attached to my small, white-walled home. Pictures of family and friends were taped to the walls and scattered on my desk. A book was shoved in every nook and cranny, creased from having been read or eagerly waiting to be read. My bed seemed to become less stiff the more nights I slept in it. I stopped being so aware of the blue sunlight that crept in my room due to my poor choice of a curtain. It became homey and familiar in eight short months and as I emptied my closet and stripped my bed, I couldn’t help but feel like I was leaving a fraction of myself behind in Johnson Obear 216 C.¬†I know I get too¬†easily attached.¬†

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been wrapped in bear hugs by friends and family. Each day I’ve made a trip to visit a grandparent or squeezed in a lunch or coffee with a friend.

Everything has changed, but nothing is different.

I have so much excitement as I unpack, do laundry, and begin to repack my bags for the summer. But I also have a lot of butterflies floating around.

Three whole months?” I asked one of my friends. “What was I thinking?”

“You clearly weren’t,” he said laughing.

Oops. 

My best friend is in Ethiopia for the summer doing an internship. She’s doing amazing things, changing people’s lives even. But she’s been homesick some. She’s facetimed me a couple of times, with tears in her eyes explaining some of the things she’s already faced in the short time she’s been there. She’s sent me pictures of pages of her journal that I’ve read several times, with tears in my own eyes. Seeing her do so many incredible things, but knowing she’s still longing to see her people’s faces makes me nervous about my own journey.

Being home with my people for eight short days makes me not want to leave them again. It makes me wonder if seeing the world is worth it if I’m going to be leaving so many people that are counting down the days until I’m home.

I’m sad, but I’ve never been happier. I’m torn, but I’ve never been more sure that is this something I should do.

Lavina Spalding writes:

“Select moments, recognize them when they come to you, and gently catch them.”

I’m praying for safe travels, new friends, my family’s sanity and and peace of mind, and to gently catch moments that are thrown my way as I set out on the greatest adventure I’ve yet to go on.