Tag Archives: advice

13, 26, and all the years between: A letter from me to you

I’ve never been much of a “birthday” person. Very few stand out to me, but 13 did. Year 13 had an impact as the age I woke up and thought “it’s all different here on out and I’m lost.”

Well, I turned 26 a few weeks ago, and I realized that I essentially just turned 13 twice. Babies born on my 13th birthday just reached the same milestone.

I hope in the 13 years since I turned 13 that I’ve become a little wiser and that, maybe, I have my crap together.

So, to all the 13-year-olds from the lady double your age:

Welcome to 13! I’m sorry there was no parade. You really deserved a parade, but I hope at least one person made your day as special as you are. If no one did, then let me tell you how wonderful you are.

You’re on the edge of something truly phenomenal. You’re shedding your baby years and embarking on a new adventure. Thirteen may feel like the “bottom of the barrel” in terms of teenage hierarchy, but you’re starting fresh. You have seven solid years of adventure ahead of you and nothing behind you to muck it up.

Maybe I’m behind on the times, but I think one’s heart never truly breaks until you hit 13. All those failed crushes before this are child’s play compared to what you’re in for, kid. And it’s ok. Because while you’re knee-deep in heartbreak, you’ll find whose arms are loyal and steadfast, and you’ll learn a thing or two about people who drop you in a “trust fall.”

Take time for yourself. Take time to be sad and to sulk, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for a pity party. You throw that pity party and smother your emotions in cake and ice cream because if you won’t have compassion for that dear little heart of yours, who will? But for every sad day, have three happy ones.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know you hate your body with your mind, but love it with your soul until your mind catches up. Maybe you’re too thin or not thin enough or your acne shows up when it should just kick rocks, but, baby, you’re beautiful. Every bump and roll and cowlick makes you perfect and lovely and worthy of hearing how you beautiful you are every single day.

You’re going to love that boy or girl who everyone tells you not to. It’s just a fact – you’re going to do it. But let me beg you, please listen to the people who love you. They understand and know more than you think. And even when you ignore that piece of advice and turn your back on everyone for this person who makes your heart race like too much coffee on Christmas morning and then tears through your soul, those people, the good ones, will still catch you. They’ll join you on the floor of Rock Bottom and hold you while you cry. Don’t give those people up.

People are going to harass you to make life decisions when you’re far too young to worry about adult things, but stick to one solid decision: be happy. If it doesn’t make you happy – don’t do it. Life was meant to be celebrated, little one. And please be little and small and child-like as long as possible. The world will wait to be saved, and in a really special way, you’re saving the world just by being in it. That’s how important you are.

Gosh, I love you. And I guess it’s creepy that some 26-year-old lady who you’ve never known loves you, but you’ll do lots of creepy things between now and when you’re 26, so call me creepy then, ok?

And when you’re 26, share what life has taught you with the new 13-year-olds. I know you’ll be incredibly wise and spunky.

Be courageous. Be rad. Be you.


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Surviving the Terrible Two’s: Dolla Dolla Bill, ya’ll.

Today is the last post in our 20something series. I have been so honored to do this with Micaela. Her spirit and appetite for life inspires me to embrace adventure. I love that Kiwi and am quite sad to see this series come to an end.

Our last post tackles the topic of FINANCES. Money falls into that same category as politics and religion of “things you shouldn’t talk about in public.” Well, consider us rebels because we are talking about it.

Her post, which you can find HERE, is so relevant and perfectly honest. Make sure you check it out and subscribe to her blog. You won’t want to miss any of her future posts. She’s a world-changer, that one.


I live in the land of many smells. Most of them are quite unpleasant. There’s the stench of oil wells, oil refineries, and, when the wind blows just right, the smell of dairies or feedlots.

The older generations say “that’s the smell of money!” I’m sorry, but I would rather my money smell like the leather of a new Kate Spade bag (preferably this one) or Steve Madden boots (these). And it always struck me as funny that anyone would associate such a ratchet smell with money. It seems that wouldn’t do much for money’s reputation.

Not that money has a very good reputation as it is.

When preparing to write this blog, I spent a lot of time reflecting on money in my life and money in the lives of others. I found plenty of differences; obviously, some people drive Lexus, BMW, and other luxury brands and I don’t. But I found one constant – at some point we have all become frenemies with money. Whether our argument with money is because we have too much or too little, there is a point in our lives where we become dissatisfied with its existence and the strings attached to it.

And it seems to me that our fall-out with money happens at some point in our 20s.

I have had my fair share of money issues. I did not grow up in an affluent home. We had everything we needed and most of what we wanted but never in excess. I was perfectly content with life in the middle class until it came time to face college expenses. After being laughed at by those FAFSA jerks, I became displeased with “enough.” I didn’t want just “enough,” I wanted more than enough so that I could pay for college. There was even a point when I wanted less than enough just to receive grants. I was bitter toward money and I still am. When I consider grad school and the ridiculous cost of higher education, I begin to despise money all over again. I pay my loan installments on time every single month but always with a grimace and an expletive.

That doesn’t stop me from loving what money can give me though. How paradoxical.

I can’t answer financial questions. I don’t keep a specific budget. I pay my bills as soon as I get paid and hope for the best for the rest of the month honestly. So, I often turn to men and women I admire for advice on the topic.

What my Dad taught me:

  • Have a savings account. Always. Even if you only have $100 in there – it’s helpful.
  • Be generous. Always tip and tip well – regardless of service.

What my Mom and sisters taught me:

  • Buy pretty things you can afford – ask Dad for what you can’t afford. (That’s my favorite advice.)

What Lore taught me:

  • Tithing is not just writing a check. It’s a calling from God, and it doesn’t have just one face. I encourage you to read her powerful words on the topic of tithing here and here.

What America taught me:

  • Don’t live beyond your means. Credit isn’t the devil, but he often hangs out there.

What I can do better:

  • Start focusing more on what I NEED rather than what I THINK I need.
  • Give more of myself but also of my resources.
  • Stop worrying. I’m not going to wake up one morning and all of my money is gone.
  • Most of all, trust in God. He is concerned in all aspects of my life – my bank account included. I often think “Oh, He doesn’t care that I overspent this month.” But He does. I think “He is too busy to be bothered with my financial woes.” He’s never too busy. I don’t know when I will finally get that through my thick skull, but hopefully one day. My greatest wish is that I will believe in His power and sovereignty in my own life with as much faith as I have in Him in the lives of others.

I don’t think money and I will ever be good enough friends to gab over a pint of ice cream or have a “Friends” marathon, but I’d like to at least coexist in peace. Every single day is a new lesson in finance, and I hope I can apply every lesson toward creating a better tomorrow for myself and maybe a future family. Until then, I am avoiding Dave Ramsey like the plague because I’m pretty sure he won’t like what he’d see in my bank account, and he kind of scares me.

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Day 6: 5 Things I would tell 16-year-old me

When people ask what I do for a living, I’m often taken off-guard. Of course I know that I’m a teacher and that I teach journalism. But that explanation doesn’t really define what I ‘do’ every day, and that why I’m instantaneously confused by how I should respond. For the record, if I ever respond to that question with “saving lives” it’s because I’ve had a particular difficult day, and that is truly what I think I do in that moment. It’s a hard-knock life, y’all.

So, in short, I spend my days with teenagers ranging from 14-18 years old. Some days are really bad, but most days are pretty fantastic. I like my students. They seem to like me. It’s a happy, dysfunctional family. And it hasn’t been so long since my teenager days, and that helps me to not be such a horrible hag.

One thing I really love about my job is the opportunity to give advice that I wish someone would have given me. I chose 16 for this post because that’s the middle ground for my students and, I think, the most confusing of the ages.

Tip #1: Boys are not “life”

While the opposite sex will play a huge role in the entirety of your life, don’t revolve high school around them. Why? First, their hygiene is not exactly top-notch, and, unfortunately, neither their brain or their heart has anything to do with their thought processes. They are driven by one thing alone: HORMONES. Don’t hold it against them, but don’t obsess yourself with them holding YOU against them.

Tip #2: Style

Step away from the popcorn shirts, scrunchies, and patchwork jeans. They were not a good idea then, and you will hate yourself for them one day. Also, it’s OK to step out of your comfort zone of windpants and t-shirts. You won’t spontaneously combust or anything.

Tip #3: Clean your room

Trust me, your mom is right on this one. Learn how to clean now because no one likes a slob. Your college roommates will resent you for the being the “messy” roommate, and it will embarrass you when they call attention to it. But that doesn’t mean you have to become some sort of “neat freak” who scrubs everything with a toothbrush and spends her Saturday cleaning air vents with a Q-tip… because that’s just crazy.

Tip #4: Wear sunscreen

You’re pale. Get over it. You’re always going to be pale. It’s never going to change. All that being said, for the love of Christmas, wear sunscreen. Not just to protect yourself from wrinkles and, ya know, CANCER, but also to avoid the disaster that was Jr. Prom. Looking back, that dress was hideous, and you were NOT working that up-do, but the farmer’s tan is truly hideous. And one day, you’ll be a 23-year-old woman wishing she could burn every photo commemorating this tragic event, but, in the end, she’ll post in on her blog because it’s just so bad that it’s actually damn funny.

Tip #5: High school doesn’t last forever

I’m pretty sure my parents preached this message to me repeatedly, but I wasn’t going to listen to them; however, it’s true. High school ends and life goes on regardless of what happened in those four years. That girl who was horrible to you for absolutely no reason won’t be around in college to ruin those years too. The boys you thought were “the cutest thing ever” will fail in comparison to what you’ll see in college. It won’t matter what you wore, what you didn’t, what you said, the mistakes you made, or even your accomplishments because college is a fresh start. And college is where you’ll find who you truly are.

Next topic? Four hobbies and why I love them!

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