October 12, 2012

Life in Seasons

Last year, I had to re-learn how to live.

Life’s craziness collided with bipolar’s craziness, and it was too much to handle. While the grace of God and loving friends/family carried me through, recovery was far from simple. Piece by piece, I needed to remember the value of each day, something I managed to lose somewhere along the way. I started keeping a journal to record moments I'm glad I didn't miss. Through this process, I discovered the value of living with the seasons.

It kind of starts in September. The summer sun is still shining, but you know the school year began because things aren’t so crowded during the week days. The mall is not crawling with jr. highers, the beach is down to a reasonable population, and even Target is reduced to the typical bunch of old ladies and moms with toddlers. I realize I sound elderly myself, but now that I’ve experienced the amazingness of a non-traditional schedule, I never want to go back to a 9-to-5 cubicle. But, I’m getting off-track.

October: Proclamations of “I can't believe it’s so warm!” and “How strange! It’s supposed to be fall!” lead me to believe that many Southern Californians suffer from weather-related amnesia. People, it is ALWAYS hot in October. Every year. In fact, that’s one of the many reasons I moved here. Meanwhile, watching the rest of the country enjoy autumn through television and facebook newsfeeds produces a tiny bit of wistfulness. But, never fear! I found a solution!

I appeal to the senses and savor seasonal moments. Currently, it’s the “autumn leaves and spice” Febreze alternated with another natural candle scent. I bought apple cider yesterday, am making apple dumplings today, and will enjoy a caramel apple with a scary movie in a couple of weeks (gotta pace ourselves). I found an air freshener that smelled all fall-like in Bath and Body Works, but now my car sort of smells like candy… we'll pretend it’s in honor of trick-or-treat and keeping with the theme.

November and December, of course, have their own bundle of seasonal fun...  Cooler temperatures, warmer clothes, holiday food and the smell of warm cinnamon….  It would take pages and pages to describe all of this. Then, January, February, March, so on… they all have their seasonal treasures.

The facts are these:
All of these are superficial, small things. But, they keep me in the moment. The aromas, weather patterns, and tastes aren't available all year, so it’s important to savor them while they're here. It’s that act of cherishing that makes it special, and the specialness makes the moment matter.
All of it is just tangible reminders of the stuff that’s really precious about the seasons. That caramel apple and scary movie will be with close friends- kind of like caramel apples and scary movies in past autumns. The cinnamon smell is warm and cozy, like dark winter nights curled up on the couch in a living room lit by Christmas lights on the tree, with people you love nearby.

Life can be crazy overwhelming, but days are manageable and minutes are easy. I had to re-learn how to live, and I now embrace the moments, season by season.

September 13, 2012

Have you ever been to Paris?

I read this poem once:

Fearing Paris

Suppose that what you fear
could be trapped,
and held in Paris.
Then you would have
the courage to go
everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.

Still, you wouldn't dare
put your toes
smack dab on the city limit line.
You're not really willing
to stand on a mountainside
miles away,
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.

Just to be on the safe side
you decide to stay completely
out of France.
But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel
the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.

You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
"See Paris first". 

~~Marsha Truman Cooper~~

What’s in Paris? And who is your friend? 

September 05, 2012

An open letter to celebrities on Twitter

Dear well-known folks on Twitter;

I have a few thoughts that will require more than 140 characters to express. Twitter has grown from novelty to general fun to powerful marketing tool. For many actors, musicians, comedians, and other artists, this now presents direct access to fans in a manageable way. Ironically, something as simple as posting brief status updates is a little more complicated when we look a little longer than the time it takes to quickly scan our Twitter feed.

It only takes a moment to post a note about your day- something you saw, a quick photo taken by your iphone- and suddenly, tens of thousands of followers have a glance into your personal life. This can actually be great marketing in itself. If we’re a little bit invested into a person, we are more likely to pay attention to their work. For instance, I always thought kindly of Ashley Judd, especially since my Kentucky Mamaw also sang high praises of their whole family. Now, after following her on Twitter and learning how much action she puts into her beliefs, I notice when she has a new movie or television show.

But, I can’t help but wonder if this creates the same effect that radio personalities experience. Day after day, a listener spends time with their “radio friend” in the car and at home. After a while, the person on air becomes familiar. It almost seems like they are someone the listener personally knows. This, of course, can blur the lines of reality and, in extreme cases, cause issues with boundary-challenged fans. It’s easy to share anything on Twitter, and it’s easy to forget what it means to have thousands of individuals reading your personal thoughts. Is it easy to forget the line between private and public life?

I know that, as one person, my opinion matters little. However, I suspect that, though I am but one person, this opinion is shared by many others. With that in mind, might I point out a few things that would make you, the celebrity, better at Twitter?

1. Connecting with your followers in this format is a fantastic way to strengthen your fan base. Take advantage of that. When Jane Leeves noted my dog, Yoshi’s, cuteness, it was rad. Crystal Lewis recently shared a blog about running and faith that really touched me. I was able to share feedback and it was acknowledged. Thanks, ladies! Personal connection makes the world smaller and keeps us interested in what you have to say.

2. Limit your retweets, please. Yes, there are many people in our world in need, and it is genuinely FANTASTIC that you are using your voice to help. However, when this is done so frequently, it doesn’t accomplish anything. Seeing “RT: Please help raise money/awareness for [organization]/[person]…” is an immediate cue to the brain to skip and move to the next item. It’s not that we don’t care, but we get desensitized by seeing it so often. And we know that you’re barely taking a fraction of a second to hit “retweet” and have no knowledge or investment in the cause. Not only do we not know if this particular organization is legit, but, subconsciously, we wonder if you don’t care, why should we?

3. On that note, PLEASE stop retweeting compliments and praise. PLEASE. Yes, you’re awesome. If we weren’t fans, we wouldn’t be following you in the first place. Yes, we are aware that other fans are positively gushing over your awesomeness. But, why do you think we are interested in reading it? While you might see affirmation of a job well done, the minute you hit “retweet” it is re-translated into “I desperately need everyone to see how much I am adored.”

4. Thank you for sharing news and upcoming events! Twitter is a great way to stay up-to-date on these things. Can you please balance it with a few actual personal thoughts? Remember, Twitter’s greatest advantage is personal connection (see a theme?).

5. Don’t be afraid to do your thing. Chances are, we are following because we like your work. Thank you, Ellen, for putting some humor into your posts. Thanks, Carlos Whittaker, for sharing your perspective about faith and real life. And thank you, Carly Fleischmann, for helping us understand autism. But, where is your snark, Kathy Griffin?

6. Don’t be afraid to follow us, even for just a little while. Forget market research or whatever trends the studio execs are reporting in your notes. You have the chance to see for yourself exactly what people are interested in and what they are thinking- and specifically from people who are also interested in your work. Personal connection can go two ways!

Ok, that’s probably enough for now. There have been at least 37 updates to my Twitter feed since I started typing this, and I wouldn’t want to miss anything The Hollywood Reporter has published.

* Thanks to the following folks for also unknowingly contributing to this post (and you might consider following):

August 29, 2012

Interesting bits from my first night in class

Summer is officially finished. While that sounds sad at face value, it’s really not that bad for the following reasons:

1.       Unlike my first 20 years of life, this is not a farewell to good weather. It will stay hot for awhile, get really warm through October, then cool down nicely for the holidays. And by “cool down”, I mean a respectable sixties-ish.

And, no, I’m not gloating or bragging. I’m making the point that, as a person who has never enjoyed cold weather, I no longer have to mourn the end of summer sun.

2.       It’s high time I finished school. This will hopefully be my last year at school before finding a job/paid internship/fellowship/something in the film/tv industry. God willing.
Finishing school, finding a job, it's all a little overwhelming... see the analogy with this picture from our hike in Big Bear?

3.       This summer has been quite the… something. Moving twice, crazy land-lady, not finishing a script-writing goal but unexpectedly accomplishing another, creating and completing an extended summer program at workchurch… It wasn’t all what I envisioned, but a lot happened. I’m ready for a break-
Go ahead. Make your own analogy with this one.

Yeah….. about that. This is what “fall” means in Maltopia right now:

1.       School- two classes, but both pretty much lecture (instead of the usual lab classes that focus on exercises and projects all semester).

2.       Workchurch increase. September officially starts holiday season in ministry. In order to stay on top of the three back-to-back-to-back events- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas- one has to start kicking butt in September. Plus, we have a September event as well, in addition to an increase of administrative responsibilities for me that are not kid-related.

3.       “The Root of Jesse” is our Christmas show at the theatre. I am so honored to have the opportunity to create the script, and so excited to be in production. Stay tuned for more on the progress, and mark your calendar for December 7th-9th so you can come see it.
There's artwork! It's official!

4.       Writing…. As mentioned above, I did NOT complete my summer writing goals. I will be applying for a few things that require spec scripts (unsolicited scripts, either original or based on an existing series) and essays, as well as another stageplay for the theater. The forces of discipline will need to overcome the power of procrastination for this to all happen before January.

Oh, yeah, so as I was saying, summer is officially finished because I had my first class of the semester last night. I am taking a screenwriting course, and it began with the usual syllabus coverage and class exercise. Our professor mentioned an interesting fact about writing and computer use. Apparently, she’s studied a lot about the psychology of the creative process. She reminded us that a computer screen is actually flickering at a high rate that we don’t consciously notice (this is why, when you take a video of a computer screen, it looks all funny). However, our eyes are still working as they register and process the motion. Though initially minor, the stress on our eyes and brain builds up. This is why we are tired after being in front of the monitor for long periods of time (can I get an “amen”, cubicle-dwellers?). Additionally, this steady mental distraction is detrimental to the writing process as well. This brings me to the conclusion that caught my attention.

Using a pen(cil) and paper is often more fruitful than computer work. Though logic tells me that typing quicker than I write should produce more results, experience tells me that I can think clearer when I sit down with a notebook. I always thought that it was because it made me slow a bit to completely finish a thought (despite my frustration of not being able to scribble at the rate my ideas race). But, according to my professor, studies show that we think more deeply when working by hand- and the inconsiderate computer flickering is largely to blame.

Ok, just one more Big Bear picture before I go.

On that note, I suppose I should take a break from the keyboard. There’s a cabinet in the kindergarten classroom that needs to be cleaned, an informational brochure to update, a fun day event to plan, and a whole bunch of other stuff I dutifully wrote in my notebook. By hand.

August 23, 2012

I Live With A Brony

Many childhood Saturday mornings began with this:

Though sometimes, they included this:

Today, my lunch often is contained by this:

Behold, I am a girl raised by the 80’s.

Twenty years later, My Little Pony has been rebooted- just like many others. I have a theory that they wait just enough time so that the characters we most love are resurrected right about the time we have our own kids. “Oh my gosh! I loved Thundercats! My kid will, too!”, they (the nameless, powerful, cartoon-resurrectors) think we’ll say.

Of course, rarely do the new versions stick around. Why? Because they are lame. Though, I suspect an audience exists for a He-Man/She-Ra revival, but they are probably not watching Cartoon Network. But, I’m wandering away from my original thought.

Back to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It barely registered my attention, as I assumed that it was another short-lived remake. The big-eyed characters (what is WITH that trend?) pushed them further aside, though it did earn a short blip on my radar when I heard the chick who did Powerpuff Girls was behind it. But then, I caught wind of the “Bronies”.

Typically refers to 13-30 year old male fans of the 2010 reboot of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but may also include females.
Brony = Bro + Pony
While generally associated with a negative stereotype by outsiders, due to it's former 80's frilly girly-girl twinkle-toed tea-parties and all-female main casting, bronies are attracted to the new show by it's good animation, acting, writing, and humor.
Thanks, Urban Dictionary

Now that I live with my friend and her family, I have the opportunity to observe the Brony up-close in his natural habitat. My roommate’s 17-year-old son digs MLP: Friendship is Magic. He watches the episodes, he has a brony t-shirt… so you know it’s hardcore. It’s genuine- this is not an act of irony or sarcasm (I’m looking at you, guys who wore pink shirts when we were in high school to make some kind of statement on manliness). There are even talks of a Brony birthday bash in the near future.

So what’s the deal? I watched the first half of the pilot episode the other day. It’s cute, not too lame (and admit it, if you go back and watch most of our 80’s cartoons, you will cringe through most of it). I will probably watch a few more when I have a spare moment or I’ve seen all of “How I Met Your Mother” that Netflix has to offer.

This is what gets me, and why I am even writing about it in the first place. Bronies rock. For real. Think about it, how many of us had the guts to defy stereotypes and really get into something that was not popular?  What interested you, but was outweighed by the reaction you’d get in the school hallways? I can only equate it with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shoes in second or third grade. I loved the Turtles- watched the cartoon, sang along with the movie soundtrack cassette tape (“..walk straight… don’t need to mutate…”), collected the trading cards and chewed that rock-hard stick of tasteless gum included in that foil pack. Heroes in a half-shell, baby.

So when I saw these shoes, I HAD to have them. I didn’t want to believe my mom when she pointed out that they were for boys, and it only took a moment to realize I didn’t care. These sneakers were destined for my TMNT-loving feet. I can still picture the moment I stepped off the bus at South Elementary, looking down at my new shoes as if Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo would give me the dignity to withstand the inevitable criticism.

The truth was, I was ridiculed for so many other things as a child, what was one more? At least I had happy feet. “Yes,” I answered, “They’re boy shoes. And I don’t care.” No amount of mockery could extinguish my Turtle fangirl light.

Is that how it goes for you, too, Bronies? Stick with what you love. Demonstrate that no person fits in a nice, neat little box. Increase your defense against misguided criticism and continue to know what you love and why you love it. Make decisions based on what you know to be true, rather than what is popular with those around you. Choose the pony life of color and adventure over the sheep life of black, white, and gray.
And maybe, in twenty years, the nameless, powerful, cartoon-resurrectors  won’t have to reboot MLP: Friendship is Magic. Like the Flintsones and Jetsons, it may live unchanged through generations. Or, at least, in your heart.

August 11, 2012

The Binder

I’ve moved twice this year. TWICE. That’s packing up every single thing I own, organizing it, carrying it to the car, carrying it from the car, finding a place for it…. TWICE.

Packing to move generally inspires cleaning, organization, and simplifying. Doing it again in less than three months inspires a person to live with fewer things. I found myself asking with every object, “Do I truly need this?” and “Do I really want to carry this back and forth when I move again?” I’ve cut down my possessions by quite a lot… and I’m pretty sure that I will just sell everything if I have to move again anytime soon!

My sentimentality really worked against me in this experience. See, I save EVERYthing that has emotional meaning. Cards, letters, gifts, special mementos- anything to preserve moments I held dear. While this is sweet, charming, and even a little bit comforting, it is a hassle pack and move. This relocation turmoil was slowly chipping away at my sentimental little heart.
I had been using the “get rid of 1/3 of what you have” strategy. This worked well for clothes I never wore, books I probably won’t re-read, school and work resources I always think I’ll reference…  I think I even went beyond 1/3- bonus points and a gold star! But how to reduce memories?

short cards.... long letters......

I’ll spare you the details of things that will probably make you laugh (pom-pom from a KWC basketball game, anyone? Or wait… was it football? Go Panthers!). But, one project became such a success, you must know about it- and try it yourself!

I have boxes and Ziploc bags FULL of letters and cards from 2001 until now. That’s 11 years! I should’ve taken a “before” picture, but it didn’t really dawn on me to blog it until this morning…. But picture 11 years of birthdays, Christmas’s, two graduations, and moving across the country. When I began packing for move #2, I started to thin out the collection. I was immediately hit with a problem- how can I choose one card over another? Is that like saying I love my cousin who sent this letter more than my grandma who sent the other? Oh, the guilt! I needed objective criteria: throw away anything that’s simply signed, keep anything with a paragraph or more of heartfelt sentiment.

Mamaw doesn't write cards anymore, so this is treasured.

When a kid draws a picture JUST for you, c'mon- that's precious.
 Victory! At the suggestion of my new roommate, Jen, I compiled the collection into a binder (ok, I admit… two binders) to conserve space. It sits neatly on my bookshelf and will pack easily when it’s time to move again.
But wait… there’s more…..

People I miss! Things I forgot!

Signed playbills from past productions...

KWC's President Poling shared a poem
before I moved to California.
 In the process, I discovered an additional benefit. This was more than a storage solution; I just created a book of support and encouragement.
We all have challenges and tough times in life. Throw in the fun that comes with bipolar disorder, and you’ll find some pretty low moments. 

What better way to remember the people surrounding me with love just when I start to forget? Start feeling like dreams are foolish and hopeless? Look who believes those goals are possible! Wonder if you are really blessing the people in your life? Check out those thank you cards. 

Letters from far-away friends trump facebook any day.

This is not an exercise in self-congratulations. It’s a perspective readjustment.

I sincerely think every person needs a binder like this! This is my hint that you need to gather your reminders of love and make them conveniently easy to read when you need it most!

A paper plate greeting!

I suppose I should tackle the boxes and envelopes of photographs next…. Or at least the next time I move.

How I Wrecked My Journal

You can get one on Amazon.

Though I abandoned my blog for seven months, you didn’t think I wasn’t writing, did you? Please. The amount of notebooks I use is ridiculous.

However, I discovered the amazing phenomena of “Wreck This Journal”.

The concept is to be artistically destructive with a journal- something most of us take somewhat seriously and protectively. By following the prompts, you allow for mistakes, imagination, and loosening your grip on the words you hold so dear. The instructions vary from simple (“Leave this page blank on purpose”) to involved (“Sew this page”), creative (“Draw an ugly picture”) to abusive (“Tie a string around the book and drag behind you on a walk”), and beyond.

Unsurprisingly, the out-of-the-box aspect appeals to me. Spicing up my journal life seemed a good idea, and any way to improve self-expression is always a good thing. Sure, I love words and do pretty well with them, but pictures… textures… smells? Including all the senses communicates beyond the capabilities of words. And so began the process of wrecking my journal…

Behold- a rare look at (select pages of) my personal journal. Of course, there is plenty of space to actually write, and I have.

Fabric scraps from past projects, 
and the top of a jar of jam from Kelly’s wedding.

“Collect fruit stickers”….
The scribbling was done by a 3-year-old from church who found
 the journal when it slipped out of my bag.

“Cover this page using only office supplies”…. 
You know all my office supplies are colorful!

I dropped it from the second story of our church building.

Sure, these aren’t all impressive (if you Google image search “Wreck This Journal”, other people will astound and amaze you). Most of what I created is not meant to be shared. But this is a vague way to describe the past seven months in writing terms. Life was all over the place, and my writing was, too. I’ve nearly finished filling and wrecking my journal, and will return to plain ol’ linear writing between the lines…. for now. I still have two more books in the series: “Mess” and “This is Not a Book”. Oh, the possibilities…..


Seven months ago, I walked away from my online journal. It wasn’t initially deliberate; otherwise I would’ve written some kind of final “good-bye” post. Life was just turned every which way, and writing slipped lower on the priority list. Many of the things on the forefront of my mind were not really shareable with the masses. I also began questioning the purpose and relevancy of posting a blog. Do I really have anything interesting to say? Do my words matter to anyone outside my social circle? Should I focus on a specific topic or theme? Is there a point to this that’s not narcissistic?

I’ve been blogging nearly consistently since I was 15, in the years of Open Diary (which, apparently, still exists here). When I began, it was the novelty of writing and sharing semi-anonymously, while reading what my friends were thinking. Basically, it was like a glorified group email. I’ve definitely outgrown that, but why do I blog now?

The answer is still developing.  I definitely feel we need to share our life experiences with each other, both to learn and to support. While I don’t have any deep pearls of wisdom to impart, I do occasionally stumble upon something interesting and useful. Keeping it to myself would be selfish, wouldn’t it? And as far as relevancy… if what I write isn’t valuable, no one will read it. So that leaves the assessment in the hands (eyes?) of the rest of you. I’m not here for an ego boost.

Why am I here? I am a writer. I think, process, analyze, reflect, imagine, and constantly revise first, second, and third drafts of my thoughts. Getting out of my head and onto paper creates a sort of clarity, like laying all the crayons out in a row to see what colors you have. The topic and direction will emerge- like it always has.

Thanks for sticking around- I like your company. J

January 13, 2012

walk…. in what direction?

Walk by faith, not by sight.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on His understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

“I know the plans I have you for you,” says the Lord. “Plans to give you hope and future.”

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of Christ, which is beyond comprehension, will guard your heart and your mind.

(All the above are the from the Malinda Paraphrased Version.)


We know these words. We KNOW these truths. If it were written like questions on a test, we would answer correctly. When someone walks through a trial, we promptly reply with these solutions. And rightly so, because they ARE truth.

But that golden opportunity to actually live our beliefs that seems much more exciting in concept then in reality. We store up these scriptures and promises like stocking up on bread and milk before a bad storm. But when the storm hits, do we decide that bread and milk no longer sound appealing, but we’d rather have pop-tarts and soda instead?

Ok, so that seems like a stretch of an analogy, but stick with me here. We study God’s word and strive to apply it to our lives. Everything seems to make sense and we’re ready for anything. Until that “anything” happens. Then our peace flies out the window as we fret and panic. Sure, we profess that God has it under control and we trust Him. But if this was honest, why are we such a mess? Do we just not truly believe it? Where is the disconnect? Why do we trade in the things we know to be right for a bigger mess?

This must be the part where I jump in with a new, shinier scripture that makes our process clear. Maybe something from Paul about doing what we don’t want to do? Or maybe something even more encouraging than our familiar passages… perhaps an obscure verse we somehow failed to notice before? Then again, maybe it’s this “magic word” theology that produces such weak faith from the beginning.

I can’t offer the ultimate solution, because I’m still working it out for myself. All my studying and learning have produced a good head knowledge of the “right answers”- and they ARE right. My continuing life journey with God is fortifying my heart with these truths, so that it will remain steady on the rock foundation during the inevitable and reoccurring storms.

But we’re weak until the roots of God’s truth burrow deeply in our soul. I think that’s where the difference is found, the difference between freaking out during the chaotic stuff versus taking shelter under the Shadow of the Almighty during the same hurricane. I’m reading about book about “Swamplands of the Soul” which points out something the book of James has tried to tell us for years. All the trying seasons are not necessarily evils to be avoided, but birthing places for beautiful growth in us. What this mainstream book doesn’t include is that the swamplands provide a brilliant canvas for God’s artistry, too. When there’s lots of room for Him to work, there’s a lot He can do.

As usual, I do not write these words as a “sermon from a soapbox”. I am literally sitting on my couch, typing what I am trying to work out for myself. Unexpected circumstances have overturned the plans I had- for school/career stuff, living situation, and other miscellaneous matters. 90% of me is freaking out- literally. The other 10% is writing this, thinking, praying, and clinging to the hope that lives in the truths we know. I have a feeling if we share that little bit we all have in us, it could become something stronger altogether.

January 05, 2012

fresh sheet of paper?

If I was the type of girl who made New Year’s resolutions, I would (once again) strive for more disciplined blogging.

If I was still the type of girl who set goals for the coming year, I would definitely aim to post more frequently.

But since I’m a girl who isn’t sure what this year will bring, I won’t set myself up for failure.

I’m still going to attempt better blogging, though. For real. I promise.


It’s difficult to dance my way into 2012 when 2011 still hauntingly lingers. While my long-term goals remain the same, the short-term details have changed and require regrouping. There are many personal issues and emotions that are still unresolved from the past year. The date changed, but who says our new beginnings correspond with a calendar? Am I the only person who doesn’t feel like January wiped the slate clean?


But for now, here’s the obligatory recap:

Since my last entry, my doctor decided that mania wasn’t the best idea, so yet another medication has brought me to a healthy normal level of existence. For now. But that is another matter for another discussion.

The Christmas show was successful. :) After a nice little holiday break, Masquer is about to begin a production of “Godspell”. This also means that many of us are “in training” to prepare for high energy performances that include simultaneous singing and dancing. So yay for lots of exercise and excessively healthy eating and the like. Thankfully, my spring semester includes a twice-weekly yoga class.

Christmas itself was lovely… the lights, festivities, music, gifting, fun times with loved ones, special church services….. all good things. :) My church blessed me by providing needed funds to cover a parking ticket (and then some). This literal Christmas miracle overwhelmed my heart with gratitude.

Additionally, my parents and Claudia visited! For the past week, we’ve been doing vacation-y things. I’m quite proud of my tour guide skills (particularly with budget activities!), and am glad to offer my services to all of you who visit! For the curious, here are a few things we did/saw/experienced:

- Redondo Beach pier

- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and tidepools

- New Year’s Eve at the Long Beach Waterfront

- a little bit of hiking in the San Gabriel mountains

- shopping at the Americana

- a quick visit with the Hollywood sign

- a tour of Sony Studios

(disclaimer: i did not take a single one of those photos, but they are as accurate as possible… you get the idea.)


Now that the family has returned home, 2012 has officially begun- whether I am ready or not. Here’s to a school-free January full of productivity and creative accomplishment. Here’s to a year blessed by the good things of last year and stronger because of the challenges. I raise my glass to a healthy combination of optimism and something resembling wisdom.

And I pray that God is smiling on your new year, too.