Tag Archives: thoughts

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.

rad

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The one where I get a little bit “ranty”

If I could petition the nerds who run the dictionary business, I would request the word “beautiful” be stricken from its pages.

Why? Because I don’t appreciate anyone or anything trying to trap “beautiful” within any kind of boundaries. How can we so easily define a word that encompasses more than outward appearance but also a mindset and lifestyle?

Perhaps I’m deflecting my anger. The dictionary people aren’t the problem – society as a whole is. And while a definition for “beautiful” has been crammed alphabetically, in an impossibly tiny serif font for longer than I have been alive, the concept or standard for beauty has been trapped and crammed within every piece of pop culture for even longer.

And it’s all disgustingly surface level.

Romantic comedies portray beauty in the form of a thin, athletic woman with no split ends.

Rap music portrays beauty as curvy, buxom women with no inhibitions.

Books portray beauty in whatever is the object of the heartthrob’s affection. (Because that’s all that makes her worthy, of course!)

I could sit here for hours and list every piece of crap we have subconsciously consumed and let define our own personal definition for beauty, but that would just make me mad – mad at media and at myself.

It’s not that I don’t think Gwyneth is beautiful – I do. And I hate to disparage her or her beauty, but she’s a little nuts. (If you’ve never perused her site, GOOP, then you’ve been spared the torture that is rich elitism.)

But her extravagant “Spring must-have” list is not what bothers me, it’s her extreme diet I have an issue with. Truthfully, I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have a pint of ice cream stashed at the back of their freezer for emergencies, but I especially don’t trust anyone whose sole treat is one cigarette a week simply because it has no calories.

Gwyneth’s slender physique is not a crime. Being skinny is not a crime any more or less than being fat is. It’s the method we should all be concerned with because it’s setting a standard that THIS is what the world should find universally beautiful and THIS is what it takes to achieve it.

Ok, I’m just going to say it. Gwyneth is annoying. She is probably the most narcissistic celebrity around, and I would never have lunch with her. I don’t agree with Gwyneth, but I don’t hate her. In fact, I feel sorry for her. I’m saddened by the overwhelming sense of worthlessness a person must be struggling with to survive off kale juice and hummus almost solely. But because she is outwardly beautiful – she gets to set the standard.

She is a rich woman who has made her eating disorder and extreme dysmorphia into a lifestyle brand and is marketing it worldwide. That is a serious problem.  And it is a serious problem for media to support it.

I’m not unaware of my own hypocrisy. I am a hypocrite for belittling Gwyneth’s accomplishment because she doesn’t fit MY definition for beauty. And I am a hypocrite because I’m against “The Most Beautiful Woman Alive” but I’m all for “The Most Beautiful Man Alive.”

But men and women are not the same. Things are not equal despite our best efforts. If a man suffers an eating disorder, it is serious news. Eating disorders for women are called “dieting.” There is a gross standard in this country for women. It only matters what you look like on the outside, and whatever lengths you must go through to achieve that appearance are justified by compliments about your hair or makeup rather than about your soul.

My heart aches for the women in this country, myself included, who will look at Gwyneth on that cover and wonder why we can’t be that. My heart aches for the women who will drag themselves through a grueling workout tonight for the sake of a number on a scale rather than for health. My heart aches for the little girls who are watching us every single day and believing the lies we think they can’t hear or see.

We can do better than this. We can care more than this. We can love better than this.

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New year, new beginnings, new goals

I’ll be honest, I am finding it quite difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. The end of this semester has sucked the life out of me, and I’m just exhausted. Truthfully, I am most excited about this break because it means I won’t have to listen to my alarm clock for two whole weeks. For that, I am truly grateful.

Other than that, I’m not really sure why the Spirit of Scrooge has decided to set firmly upon me, but it has. I’ve always loved Christmas in the sort of way that everyone loves Christmas. I love watching Home Alone on repeat and eating more calories than one person should ever consume. I’m a big fan of my family, so I like that it is almost a requirement that we spend the holiday together. I like presents – who doesn’t? But I’m still pissed at Santa for cutting me off a couple of years ago.

As much as I love Christmas, I’ve always been more of a New Year’s kinda gal.

There is something so refreshing and exciting about entering a new year. It’s like the universe’s way of saying “Hey girl, let’s wash last year off, and start fresh.”

I’m a big fan of new beginnings. 

On Christmas we unwrap clothes, books, electronics, etc. But on the New Year, we unwrap opportunity. The year stretches out before us as if God were laying out a 12-month feast before our tired, parched, hungry spirits.

I’ve always made resolutions, and, like most of us, I’ve broken nearly all of them. Except for this past year.

I made a general resolution. I vowed to work on myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. And I did.

I said goodbye to a deep depression that had settled over my life. I completed a 5k (though I still have work to do physically). And I reconnected with God and heard Him speak clearly over my life.

And it was one of the most fruitful and exhilarating years of my life.

Now, I’m ready for a bigger and better one. My resolution will remain the same, but I’m making some very specific goals for this year.

1) Take a big trip

I went to New York City this past year, and it truly MADE my year. I want the same for this one. The short list of cities is Seattle, San Francisco, or Atlanta. Who knows where the wind will blow me?

2) Make a big move

Maybe physically. Maybe career wise. I don’t know, but it’s time for a leap of faith.

3) Write more

And put myself out there. I faced some rejection this year in terms of my writing, and it was heartbreaking. But those wounds have healed, and I’ve come to understand that criticism of my work is not an attack on who I am. It has been difficult to separate because everything I write is a portion of who I am, and it hurts when it’s thrown away.

4) Take the GMAT

And apply to business schools. It’s time to get my learn on. Plus, I’m really awesome at college. It’s my thing.

5) Take some classes

Specifically in graphic design. I took these classes in college, but they were super basic.

So, there they are – my 2013 goals. I’ll turn 25 this year, and I’m determined to make my quarter-life mark the stuff of legends.

What are your goals for this new year?

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A letter to America

Dear Friend,

Before I begin, please let me say that you are looking quite darling today, and I love you very much.

Now, let’s get down to business. This is a letter to you from me… about the election.

NO! WAIT! Please don’t leave. I really have something to say.

I want to tell you that no matter what happens in November, I am still going to love you. I want to tell you that no matter what family is living in the White House, I am still going to love you.

I am still going to place my hand over my heart and pledge allegiance to you. I am still going to support my brothers and sisters that fight for you. I am still going to wear an inordinate amount of red and blue, but mostly because I look really great in those colors, and it’s pretty awesome how that worked out.

I am sorry that we’ve forgotten about you. I am sorry that we have put certain people on TV that like to throw around completely inappropriate and derogatory terms for ratings and without a care for what’s in your best interest.

I am sorry that all you’ve ever wanted was unity, and we’ve thrown that away for silly hats shaped like elephants and donkeys. I am sorry that we’ve spent millions of dollars for political slander ads that only hurt and destroy. I am sorry that we’ve used social media to post terrible pictures of candidates instead of reaching out to old friends and asking how their day was and congratulating them on a new success.

I am sorry that we’ve forgotten that you are a big fan of religious freedom. I am sorry that we’ve turned our backs on one another for differing religious views rather than inviting someone over for coffee to discuss.

I am sorry that we’ve forgotten what great people have done in pursuit to make you the best you can be. And that many died in the process. Would Martin Luther King, Jr. be proud of what we’ve become? What about Ronald Reagan? I shudder to think what Lucille Ball would think of us. Because we all know I care a great deal about what Lucy thinks, and I stand by that, thank you very much.

I’ve failed you, friend. I’ve let my own political agendas get in the way of loving my brothers and sisters. I’ve let elections and debates stir in me hatred toward others and disgust for people who I normally love on non-election years.

Thank you for who you are. Thank you for letting me speak my mind and for allowing me to have this blog! Thank you for never judging me for the God I serve. Thank you for being organic and changing with the times. Thank you for having an awesome color scheme. Thank you for your cities and your country. Thank you for buying Alaska a long time ago. I’ve never been, but I know that we all really appreciate it. Thank you for being close to Canada because they gave us Ryan Gosling, and that makes them really awesome.

And thank you for changing your ways so many years ago so that I can vote for your future. I hope I don’t let you down. But I know that no matter who I vote for, that won’t be what lets you down. Forgetting that I am an American will be what breaks your heart.

I promise to never forget you, America.

I love you always.

Your friend and Texan,

Samantha Jo

“Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.” Habbakuk 1:5

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Never Forget.

Today, we remember.

We remember a day that none will forget, even if we were able to.

As an educator, I have the task to educate a group of teenagers about a day that most of them have no recollection of, and the ones that do actually only have the memories their parents have imparted on them. I show them documentaries. Some cry feeling the weight of the towers when they crash and most giggle occasionally over the fashion choices of the early 2000s. This doesn’t make them heartless.

So what do I tell them? How do I tell them about the day we were all forever changed?

I tell them about what life was like as an 8th grader in 2001. They realize that I wasn’t much different from them. Then I tell them about sitting in a cold auditorium, confused and slightly annoyed. I looked around, played with my ponytail, and wondered why all of the teachers were crying. The principal asked if we knew what a “terrorist” was. A senior raised his hand and gave a definition he was proud of. He shouldn’t have been. He still hadn’t told me what that word meant.

The principal took a breath in and told us that our country was under attack. To cement his point, he turned on the television that had been rolled into the auditorium. Before our young, naive eyes, we watched buildings burn. We watched people jump from burning buildings. We watched journalists sit in silence watching the same footage and, for once in their careers, have nothing to say.

We were in shock.

I turned to my best friend and asked her if all of this was real. She shrugged. Nothing in our 13 years of life had prepared us for what had happened, what continued to happen, and what was yet to come.

I went home that afternoon and hugged my family tight. I’ve hugged them tighter since. Because that’s one thing the terrorists never planned on. They never planned that their heinous, evil attack would actually build a stronger country.

What I saw on September 11 shocked and saddened me. What I witnessed from Americans post-tragedy changed me forever.

Americans came together in the face of great terror and sadness. They donated blood, clothes, money, and time to each other in a sign of love and solidarity. We saluted the flag and held our country near to our hearts.

We became a stronger America. In the face of an election year, may we never forget that, regardless of political affiliation, we are all Americans. And united we stand.

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Dream Jobs

I’ve always had a lot of “dream jobs.” And I’ve always been crazy jealous of people who know exactly what they want to do with their lives. My problem is that there is A LOT that I want to do and life doesn’t last that long… or money. Because in true Sam-form, most of the things I want to be require quite a bit of start-up cash. Story of my life.

Tornado Chaser

I’m seriously obsessed with tornadoes. Of course, I’m still afraid of them because I’m not effing insane, but I am still the kind of person that will sit outside and watch one. Hey, when it’s your time to go… you know the rest. I watch an unhealthy amount of tornado-related documentaries and movies. And back in March, The Weather Channel had TORNADO WEEK! You people can keep your Shark Week. I’m going to be Helen Hunt one day and chase down an F-5.

Librarian/Bookstore Owner

I can’t think of anything more peaceful than to be surrounded by books all day. I’m totally going to be a librarian when I’m old and have book readings/tea parties everyday in the summers. I’ve been working on my best Professor McGonagall, Amelia Bedelia, and Ramona and Beezus voices for years, and I’m almost there. Plus, lifting boxes of books all day is great strength training. One day I’ll have skinny, toned arms just like Gwyneth.

Motivational Speaker 

I like motivating people, I guess, but I really just like attention. And I love talking about myself. Seriously, it’s like the best job ever.

Radio DJ

A morning radio show preferably, and though the early mornings would take some adjusting, I can’t think of a better job that combines my love for comfortable attire, talking, and pop culture. And look how well it worked out for Ryan Seacrest? I’m pretty sure he owns Hollywood by now, and I think I would make an excellent successor to his throne.

Actress

This should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. Obviously I’m destined for fame and fortune. However, I’m incredibly lazy. Thus, I plan on pouring my heart and soul into one or two projects, get a niche, and live forever on my reputation and piles of money.

President

This one is irrational. I really only want to be the Commander of the Free World. And make people call me The Commander of the Free World. Or maybe Madam Commander of the Free World.

The First Lady 

This is totally a job! Do you think that Michelle Obama just sits around the White House eating kale and low-fat cheeses? No way, Jose. Her social calendar is hella busy, and I want it. We don’t have royalty in this country and being the First Lady is the closest I will ever come to becoming Kate Middleton. But let’s be realistic, this will never happen until our country becomes progressive enough to have a First Lady that swears a lot and has an unhealthy obsession with Ryan Gosling that she fully intends to act on regardless of her marital status. And people are so uptight.

Obviously, my life is going to be super busy. If you have any connections that will help me to hook these positions up, holla atcha girl.

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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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Oh Texas, my Texas

Happy Texas Independence Day! Still smokin’ hot after 176 years. Take that Joan Rivers.

I have an unbelievable amount of Texas pride. It’s not just where I live; it’s an integral part of who I am. To insult Texas is comparable to telling me I have an ugly face (which we both know is false).

Reasons to love Texas

The Texas Rangers

Two World Series appearances in two years is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the greatness of this team. Owned by one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game, Nolan Ryan, they are always a constant source of home run hitters and bootylicious cabooses.

Variety

What other state has mountains AND beaches? Deserts AND forests? We have every environment to suit your fancy. If you like fancy-shmancy city life, Dallas is your city. Want a windy city full of Red Raiders? Lubbock’s your town. If you want to watch the drug wars in Mexico, then lock your car doors and go to El Paso. You love live music and dirty hippies? Get your butt to Austin! If you’re a weirdo who likes to choke on smog, well, Houston may be the city for you. Go deep-sea fishing in South Padre. Go climb some mountains in Big Bend. Stroll down the Riverwalk in San Antonio and remember the Alamo!

Economy

What recession? Get out of here with that mess! We were once a Republic, fool. We can sustain ourselves. We have more Fortune 500 companies than any other state. Plus our cost of living is pennies compared to your cheaply made, outrageously expensive mansions in Beverly Hills or your bedbugs in NYC.

Boom.

Football

Personally, I don’t like football, but that’s the beauty of Texas football. Tailgating fits every personality! Our rivalries are legendary, and we start the obsession young. Texans can tell you with 100 percent certainty where they will be every Sunday and Friday of the Fall. Sunday is for church and Friday is for some Friday Night Lights. Speaking of, “clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose?” That’s based on Texas, y’all.

Weather

Ok, yes, it’s bipolar. I’ve lived through countless days of waking up six inches of snow and wearing shorts by late afternoon. But how many states can claim to have seen a beautiful 80 degree day in the middle of February? People can call that bipolar or unstable all they want, but I call that a gift from God.

Food

You just can’t beat Tex-Mex, and you definitely can’t duplicate it. Our beef can’t be touched, and we can even accommodate vegans and vegetarians in this state! And Mrs. Baird’s? Enough said.

Destiny’s Child

We gave you Beyoncé, and don’t you forget it.

NASA

Kickin’ alien ass, y’all.

Sweet Tea

Other states have this too, but everything is better here. Except maybe Paula Deen’s because everything that woman makes is magical.

Friendly

Name one place with people nicer than Texans, and I will shove my fist in your mistaken mouth.

No State Income Tax

Boom boom pow, y’all.

Dr Pepper

We invented it. Look it up.

Celebrities

Matthew Mcconaughey, Sandra Bullock, George Strait, Tommy Lee Jones all live here. Chace Crawford, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Clarkson, Hilary Duff, Sean Faris, Amber Heard, Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Knowles, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Jared Padalecki, Sissy Spacek, Patrick Swayze, Forest Whitaker, and Renee Zellweger… all from TEXAS.

Amusement Parks

Schlitterbahn, Six Flags, Sea World, Fiesta Texas… we have you covered.

This is an incredibly short list about why Texas is so fantastic, and it doesn’t do it justice at all. The truth is, growing up in Texas was a pure gift from God. I know what it’s like to lay on a trampoline and watch the stars for hours. I’ve walked down busy city streets and empty country roads. I’ve seen some of the greatest athletes perform in stadiums full of their admirers. I’ve cowered in terror watching Shamu leap in the air (let’s not talk about it). I’ve walked all over small towns without an ounce of worry. My heart swells with every ‘howdy, ma’am,’ and my mother still scolds me if I don’t use my ‘ma’am’s and sir’s.’ I wouldn’t change being a Texan for anything. No matter where I end up, I’ll always be a Texas girl.

“Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called “walking.”

-George W. Bush

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