Goodbye, Year of Ambition. Hello, Year of Composing.

For four years, I’ve selected a single word to highlight, headline, and motivate each upcoming year. There were years of discovery (2012), dedication (2013), exploration (2014), and even ambition (2015). No two years were the same and no single year was perfect, yet each held a divine combination of mystery and intrigue, absolution and enlightenment.

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In 2015, my aim was to be ambitious, to play to my Slytherin tendencies rather than denying them. And, for the most part, my ambitions paid off.

I completed three straight semesters of grad school, with virtually no breaks in-between. On that note, I changed grad programs and distinguished myself from my classmates. I helped my parents market their home, move states, and find a new home. I drove cross-country and didn’t have a single road accident, thank you very much. I was published (twice!) in a literary journal and earned the praise of professors I had yet to meet.

All in all, 2015 was a success…albeit I spent nearly as much time biting my nails, banging my head against (mostly figurative) walls, and wanting to wring the necks of others, as I did being ambitious.

Alas, the year of exploration has reached its end.


With that, it’s time to recognize the year of composing.

When I tried to think of my neon lit, red ink stamp, and billboard-sized word for 2016, I struggled to limit myself to just one word. In fact, “marvel,” “persist,” “build,” “write,” and even the phrase “take root” seemed to resonate with my hopes for this year.

In the coming days, I so desperately crave the wonderment of new experiences, the challenges of hard tasks, the process of putting together all the parts, the thrall of creation, and the glory of growth. But, none of those words truly suit what I wish to see and feel when it comes time to recognize the sum of 2016.

And that’s why 2016 will be the year of composing.

I ultimately chose to call this the year of composing because the word “compose” making my bones sing. The idea of making something whole, be it a story or other work, is absolutely intoxicating. I have a desire, a need to take pieces and make them whole, in whatever way I can.

In 2016, I want to compose. I want to compose the plot points I’ve been keeping in my head into a full-fledged story. I want to compose these semesters of grad school into a well-earned degree. I want to compose the divergent parts of me into someone that my younger self would admire, even as I undergo the stresses of graduation, moving, traveling, and searching for my first true job.

I want to compose something new.

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Keeping with tradition, I won’t write out (more specific) resolutions, but rather I will simply wish that at least 16 lovely things will happen over the next 365 days. That being said, feel free to post your resolutions or #oneword2016 in the comments below.

I hope that your hearts are full in the days ahead and, without further ado, let the pleasure and thrill of 2016 begin! Happy New Year!




#OnlyOneAbby & #ThanksAbby: On the Importance of Sports and Female Athletes to Female Non-Athletes.

USWNT 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champions

As a child, the closest I got to doing anything athletic was listening to the Spice Girls and picking out which lines were sung by Sporty Spice. To put it simply, sports and I existed on separate wavelengths.

My father didn’t watch football games on Sunday, my mother didn’t keep track of Wimbledon, and my brother didn’t play on any school teams. Well, actually, my brother was the kid on the peewee soccer team who sat on the bench and drank water during every game–and then he completely quit going, yet kept bragging about being on the team.

In short, I didn’t grow up watching other people play sports.


Over the years, I tried my hand (sometimes successfully, most of the time awkwardly) at a number of athletic endeavors. I bent over backwards for yoga. I tiptoed through the tulips for ballet. I kicked up my heels for tap. I bounced about for basketball. I even swizzled and glided for figure skating.

When university sent my world spinning topsy-turvy, I sought to turn impotent rage, complete confusion, and total exhaustion into athleticism. I ran, I lifted weights, and I did high intensity interval training because I saw getting in shape as the easiest part of adulthood’s trial by fire. It was certainly an athletic journey, but I wasn’t athletic.

Just as I’d never watched sports, I’ve never been counted as an athlete. I thought I was inherently separate form the sporting world. However, that all changed amid a whirlwind cross-country RV trip in 2013.

Truthfully, the 2013 Sochi Olympics were my intro to a new view on sports and athleticism. For no apparent reason, the lure of Sochi drew me in and held me tight. After only a month, I found myself knowing entirely too much about the mechanics of luge, the scoring system of slope style skiing and snowboarding, and the physical demands of a biathlon.

I was rooting for Russians and cheering on Czechs. I was pushing for the Polish and aiming for American wins. I still have no clue why I got drawn into any of it but, it was awesome. And, at the end of it all, I was more motivated than ever to see the world.


Then came the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Olympics had left me needing another sport to focus on and learn about–I was caught in the thrall of international sports. When I told a good friend about all of this, he pulled me into the soccer fandom (Thanks, Matt!) and with each game I watched after that, it became clear that my interest was going to stick.

It didn’t matter who was playing. It didn’t matter who won the finals. I’d learned to love the game and so very many of its players. (On that note though, way to go Germany! I mean, really, hot damn!)

The World Cup showed me again where sport and a broad world vision collide.


By the time the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada came along, I was well and truly hooked. In all honesty, the 2015 WWC couldn’t have come at a worse time because I was in the middle of moving cross-country, but I watched every game I could.

More than the Olympics and more than the World Cup, the 2015 WWC made me feel connected and involved.

The number of fouls in the Mexico vs. Columbia game had my eye twitching. The first goal by Ivory Coast in the Thailand vs. Ivory Coast game nearly had me in tears. Meghan Klingenberg’s goal-line save in the USA vs. Sweden game made me (literally) jump out of my seat.

And, it didn’t just give me a world vision, it gave me a life vision.


In so many ways and in so many instances, these profoundly gifted women made me finally get sports. And, they also made me get me.

I loved the Olympics and the World Cup, but it was harder to relate to the pomp and circumstance of those events. It was harder to feel like I was a part of something. The 2015 WWC showed me how truly powerful women can be. It showed me how far dedication can take you. It showed me that women can flourish even when the world doesn’t try to nurture them.


Abby Wambach (aka the G.O.A.T.) was the first female athlete that I ever regarded as a role model. I had researched her (in a typically Hermione way) during the World Cup, when I was exceedingly annoyed by the men flopping for fouls every five minutes, and she was nothing short of astounding to me.

She could make the goals that no one else could. She could get injured on the field and still stay cognizant enough to call in a substitute. She could redefine an age-old game and make it her own. She was a beast.

Actually, she still is and she always will be.


Megan Rapinoe describes it perfectly: when I watched Abby in the 2015 WWC, I saw female fearlessness.

I didn’t see an anonymous player in an impersonal game, I saw a woman who would do whatever necessary to reach the goal that she and her teammates had committed themselves to. I saw a woman who went after what she wanted and made it happen. I saw the type of woman that I want to be, regardless of sports and athletic ability.

And, on a larger scale, I saw a team of women who were devoted to each other and the game and working together. I saw people who weren’t scared to show how they felt about what mattered to them.


Now, after 184 international goals and years as soccer’s ultimate female player, Abby is retiring. But, she’s going out in a blaze of glory and she’s making her exit on her own terms. Plus, Abby’s exit is really just another entrance.

Even without the game, Abby is a role model. Her willingness to fight for equality in not only sports, but every other aspect of life and society, is incredibly inspiring. Her decisiveness in choosing to live the life she wants to live–with or without the fame of the game–is encouraging.

She didn’t just change the game, she changed the way it was viewed.

Or, at least she did for me.


These days I’ve become pretty dedicated to the U.S. Women’s National Team, but I also have a growing weakness for the Seattle Reign and Portland Thorns. (Upside to being a newbie sports fan: rooting for rivals like it’s nobody’s business!)

More than anything though, I’ve come to love sports and appreciate athletes, despite not always understanding the games or knowing the players. I’ve learned that watching sports and playing sports do not have to be mutually inclusive.

And, I’ve realized that female athletes are important to female non-athletes because, regardless of the international power of mixed gender athletic competitions and men’s sports, women can uplift women in ways that nothing and no one else can.

In female athletes, a female non-athlete like me can find renewed purpose, and maybe even a bit of inspiration to try that community soccer league I’ve been eyeing.

Abby could not have won the 2015 WWC without her teammates and her teammates could not have won without her. If Abby Wambach and the USWNT aren’t #squadgoals, I don’t know what is.

Sometimes women just need other women to show them how to be fearless.  


#DearMe: A Letter to My Teenage Self.


Dear (Slightly Younger) Mikayla,

When I first saw the idea of writing a letter to you, I found it a bit weird. I mean, I know you and you’re too hard-headed to listen to anyone, even me. But, ultimately, there are numerous things I would love to be able to tell you, wishes and warnings alike.

So, I’m writing.

From my perspective now, I know the truth of the matter is you spend a lot of time wondering what you’re doing wrong. You worry that you’re living just this side of disaster. You stay awake too many nights trying to envision something other than a question-mark future…

Stop. Please.

Everything you’re fretting over now—the friends, the classes, the feelings, the exams, the family members, the applications, the politics—none of it is going to break you. You’re going to be alright, I promise.

Okay, I’ll admit: over the course of the next few years, you’ll truly struggle with who you are and who you want to be. There’s no use worrying though because we still haven’t figured it out in the year 2015 and that’s perfectly okay. Trust me when I say that no one has their whole life figured out at 13, 16, or 21. All that matters is that you’re continuously working on it.

Remember: life isn’t a tightrope walk over a spike-bottomed canyon.

Learn to treat every day like a stroll on the beach–the tides move in and out, but you stay standing. Just enjoy the ebb and flow.

High school will pass over you like a breeze, but sometimes it will feel like hurricane-force winds and there’s really no helping that. That’s what high school is all about–learning how much pain, how much uncertainty, how much knowledge you can stand. Chickadee, high school is about survival and endurance—even when so-and-so stops calling you a friend and what’s-his-name tells you that you’re hard to love, hold tight.

You’re a military brat, you’re made for a fight.

When it comes time for university, go with your gut.  Don’t waste time in places you know you don’t belong and don’t even want to be. Be logical and be honest. The standard university experience isn’t so idyllic and it isn’t for you. Forge your own path and you’ll end up steps ahead. Freshman year, while playing an obligatory Welcome Week name game, you’ll dub yourself Magical Mikayla–make it your goal to be that person.

After university commencement, you’ll take two semesters off. Some days, you are going to swear that it’s a waste of time, that you’re wasting time, but I swear that this opportunity to be a wanderer is precisely what you need right now. Over the course of 8 months, you’ll visit 20 different states and this time, like no other time before, travel will be all you have to focus on, all you live for.

Revel in your experiences. Get caught up in simple pleasures.

In the coming days, when you’re feeling just south of sanity, you’ll remember the feel of west coast rocks and east coast sand, the sound of northwestern rain and southeastern thunderstorms, and the smell of strong coffee and harbor winds mixed together. The places you’ve been before were wonderful, but these are the places you’ll cling to and remember best. These places will resonate.

And, just like that, you’ve caught up to me.

The future is still a masked mark in the hazy distance, as it will always be, but there is an abundance of hope, desire, and ambition. There is an ever-growing collection of wonderful days and a group of delightful people who genuinely care.

There is possibility.

My ultimate wish for you is simply that, on your way from where you are in your time to where I am now in mine, you relish the journey.

With lots of love (…and feeling incredibly strange about signing this),

(Slighty older) Mikayla

10 (Mostly YA) Books That Changed My Life.

If you’ve been following my blog for even a little while, then you know at least two things about me: I studied English at university and I am the kind of person who will happily lose sleep over characters and plot twists. You see, I’m a lit lover through and through. As such, I owe a lot of what I know and love to the lessens that I’ve learned from printed lines on bound pages, the stories that changed my life.

On that note, here’s to literary game-changers and the marvelous people who create them.

Thank you!


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

By the time I graduated from kindergarten in 2000, I was a voracious reader and everybody knew it. But, somehow, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which I didn’t read until 2001, feels like the book that started it all for me. It was the book that made me delve into fantasy and science fiction, the book that gave me a fan community to become immersed in, and the book that taught me how to do life. But, more than anything else, this was the book that led to a series of books that transformed my generation and made us all believe in magic.

Each of Rowling’s characters taught me something about people and the lives we all must lead. In Hermione, I learned that intelligence, loyalty, bravery, feminism, and drive can take you far. In Severus, I learned that everyone can change, some causes are worth living and dying for, and a good person is not necessarily a nice person. In Dumbledore, I learned that pursuing the “greater good” sounds lovely in theory but, people will get hurt along the way (i.e. Ariana and Harry). And, in Harry, I learned that love can change everything.

The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn

I haven’t been able to shut up about The Bar Code Tattoo since I ordered it through a Scholastic sale in 2004 when I was 10 years old. I even read a bit from it in a YouTube video because it was “the first book I could get my hands on.” (I totally didn’t edit out the time it took me to find that book in particular…) I have quite literally been blabbing about this book for years—I even got a tweet back from the author after I mentioned the renewed relevance of the “big brother is watching you” plot line in modern-day America.

Ultimately, in the primary character, Kayla (hey, that’s 71% of my first name), I learned to seek the truth with determination and work to create the life I wish to lead. However, as my introduction to dystopian fiction, Weyn is also responsible for teaching me to be aware of the world I live in, to question how today’s decisions will affect tomorrow’s conditions, and to discover my own identity instead of letting my community define me.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld


Uglies is a story with many layers. Mostly obviously, there is snazzy technology à la science fiction and a dystopian world with Big Brother government, which is fascinating and terrifying all at once. Underneath all of that though, there is an ongoing discussion of the big problems that plague humans regardless of time and space: personal identity, individual freedom, and conceptions of beauty. You know how English teachers and professors always tell students to “unpack” or “bleed” the text? I could write a 20+ page paper “unpacking” this story. This tale never comes up empty.

Westerfeld said (through the character of David) that “what you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful,” and that statement resonates with me more every day of my life, particularly as I begin to bridge the gap between being a student and a professional. Whenever I question who I am or what I’m doing, I remember that I’m no different from Uglies and the characters within it—there is a whole world inside of me just waiting to be unpacked.

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

I grew up with a mother who studied psychology. What this means is that I’ve spent my entire life listening to impromptu psych lectures, as well as having all of my choices and ideas psychoanalyzed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly been interesting—as a child it was awe-inspiring because, well, my mother is undeniably a brilliant woman—but, I didn’t truly understand the concept of psychology until I read I Am the Cheese (and The Chocolate War immediately thereafter) around the beginning of middle school.

The psychological journey of Adam (aka Paul) led me to consider the core differences between people and how our experiences can define the past, present, and the future equally. In Cormier’s story (stories, really) I found perspective. As a result, in Adam’s pursuit of his father, I also became closer to my own mother, gaining a better understanding not just of why she would study psychology, but also why she considered her psychology-related knowledge and experiences to be eternally relevant.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

In only 383 pages of print, Dessen tackled familial relationships, eating disorders, sexual assault, anger management, high school dynamics, friendship, and so much more. Then, to make the story all the more important, Dessen showcased the metaphorical power of silence and the human inability to quiet the heart. The story doesn’t rely on a grand setting, a large character collection, or even sublime escapades; instead, the author just conveyed what it means to not think or judge, and instead “just listen” to what your heart is saying.

Music wasn’t precisely the point of this book yet, somehow, this book intrinsically altered my relationship with music. Music was just the tipping point of the lessons this book taught though. Through Annabel, I learned that secrets are heavy to hold, truths can be hard to share, and people are not necessarily the “characters” they portray to the rest of the world. Through Owen, I learned that music can be an escape or a channel, depending on which you need, and the truth should be shared, even if you have to “rephrase and redirect” to get your meaning across.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

For most of my sophomore year of high school, I spent every spare second I had in the library or reading a novel in an empty classroom. I carried a veritable library of ARCs in my backpack and I talked publishing with my journalism teacher (who became my yearbook supervisor). In the midst of that odd situation, I discovered the then-newly-published novel Paper Towns by John Green. I loved that book like it bled and breathed, but mostly I loved the world it opened me up to in its fleeting references: Walt Whitman’s poetic skill and the utterly intoxicating “Song of Myself.”

Whitman spent 400 poems trying to define and describe life before ultimately coming to the conclusion that people are large and “contain multitudes.”  In the sage conclusions of a long-dead man and in that time of intense personal growth, Whitman’s words enabled me to be comfortable with being a bit “odd,” living life like a “dance” when the “fit” of change was “whirling me fast.” Not to mention, it was Whitman’s poetic encouragement to explore one’s self that led me to create a blog called “mylifeinverse” or “my life in verse,” despite the fact that I don’t generally write poetry.

The Confessions of St. Augustine by St. Augustine

In this single book, often touted as a building block of the Christian faith, St. Augustine managed to make absolutely everything in life—every experience, every thought, every desire—seem like a mortal sin. More than any other book I’ve ever read, Confessions pissed me off and made me wish for a time machine so that I could go back to ancient times and deliver a punch in the face to the author. It was simply infuriating to see an author turn life overall into something so thoroughly ugly in the name of defending religion and ethics.

Despite all of that, St. Augustine’s Confessions taught me about the manipulative power of religions (not that all religions are manipulative), the diversity of moral and ethical systems, the tedium of entirely introspective and self-deprecatory works, and the ability of authors to make readers feel like they’re being castigated. That being said, this is the only book I have ever thrown away—quite literally, it went into the trash bin—and I don’t even feel guilty about it.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Susan Cain rose to fame as a self-proclaimed “public introvert” who utilized her incredibly astute observations about her own nature to tell the world (in a TED talk) about the superpowers of introverts and bring about positive vibes regarding the more “quiet” portion of the population. Where the majority of self-help and introspective self-analytical literature characterize introversion as something one must compensate for by adopting the seemingly superior characteristics of extroverts, Cain successfully presented introverts and extroverts as separate but equal.

As a young woman just finishing up my undergraduate degree and an undeniable introvert, Quiet spoke to my experiences with and worries about existing in a predominantly extrovert-positive world. I wouldn’t be nearly as confident about the very real and very necessary role I can fill in a work environment—particularly in the extrovert-oriented career field I’m aiming for—if I had not read this book at precisely the time that I did.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Just like The Bar Code Tattoo trilogy and Uglies trilogy, Divergent is the first novel in a dystopian trilogy with a badass female main character and slightly less important, but amusing and often game-changing, minor male characters. There are certainly strong feelings of girl power in Tris’ gradual and hard-fought transformation from the meek and compliant person others want her to be to the curious and brave person she truly is “on the inside.” And, well, what 21-year-old young woman doesn’t need a bit more girl power in her life?

Throughout my life I’ve always been told to “be myself” and “live for me” but, it wasn’t until I read Divergent that I began to understand that who you are can change, whether through sheer force of will or evolutionary circumstances, and you’re no less you for changing. Tris made me excited to transform from what I was as a child and a teenager, by upbringing or some sort of default, and become who I want to be. In that character I found the courage to make myself new while always remembering the past.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If someone wrote a story about my first year of university, it would read much like Cath’s tale of college confusion, without the lovely (yet delightfully and realistically flawed) boy, twin sister, and supportive roommate. In essence, my first year of university, during which I lived on campus for a semester, was a roller coaster of success and failure, topped with discomfort regarding my degree choice and a complete inability to engage with people my age. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience until I reevaluated the situation, charted a new course, and started (sort of) fresh…just like Cath.

Rainbow Rowell provided me with someone who was comfortingly familiar, who struggled and learned to carry on in the same ways that I did as a new university student. This darling author and her characters validated my love of fan culture and fanfiction, reassuring me that fanfiction is real fiction and there is a beautiful community filled with wonderful people who enjoy being fans just as much as I do. Even more importantly, Cath taught me that, in being my awkward and untraditional self, I’m not losing out on anything but instead finding my own, different adventures.


If you’re feeling talkative, comment below with the books (YA or otherwise) that have changed your life!

Celebrating the 20-Somethings.

In the movie 13 Going On 30 (2004), a young girl named Jenna laments the woes of being a teenager and longs for the day when she’ll be “thirty, flirty, and thriving.” Of course, in typical movie magic style, Jenna is zapped to the future via glittery wishing dust and a birthday party gone bad, skipping right past her late teens and 20s, and Jenna wakes up as a fabulous and well-established 30-year-old with a career in fashion journalism.

Apparently even 13-year-old movie characters aren’t brave enough to wish for early entry into the maze/minefield that is your 20s…

From what I’ve experienced so far, your 20s are an age of mystery, adventure, and confusion. You’re caught between not knowing what you’re doing and needing to keep doing something. You have a drinking license, freshly printed diploma, and possibility, and sometimes that’s all. In the end, being in your 20s means constantly being on the verge of everything, but with a blindfold on–you have no clue where your life is headed but you cannot stop heading there.

In our 20s, we’re in perpetual motion.

It’s no surprise then that we spend (or waste) a lot of time thinking on, worrying about, getting sick over our life journey. We 20-somethings cannot seem to comprehend the idea of just letting life happen or going with the flow until something clicks and the light bulb pops on. As a result, when we finished our degrees and were thrust out of complete academia, we were filled with questions and completely terrified of making choices:

What do we want to do?

Who do we want to be?

Where do we want to go?

Why is the future so hard to see?


If the Doctor can be confused, I reserve the right to be confused too.

We also spend (or waste) a lot of time mourning, bemoaning, raging about the fact that we cannot answer every question and make every choice. We see missed opportunities and feel like life itself now has fewer opportunities. We see others taking different paths and we assume that means we’ve somehow gotten lost in the woods. We see years laid out before us like paving stones and we don’t know where those years will lead us. In short, we fret.

Yet, at the same time that we’re walking about in darkened rooms and worrying about what comes next, being 20-something means experiencing dozens of wonderful people, places, and events.

We’re at the point where we’re entering relationships that just might last beyond coffee and movie dates. We’re learning that our knowledge and skills are valuable to someone somewhere. We’re taking the time to prove to ourselves that the world isn’t flat by leaving our hometowns and zipping around the globe. We’re meeting new people because we want to, not just because they’re in our neighborhood, class, or club.

We’re branching out and carving our own niches in the world, which is pretty freaking amazing.

And, you know what? We’re pretty freaking amazing.

It’s mystery, adventure, and confusion.

We’re mysterious, adventurous, and confused.

We may not know what we’re doing quite yet, but we’re doing something. The path may be untrodden, but we have the chance to forge it ourselves. Life may be a giant jumble of excitement and uncertainty, but we’re trying to figure it out. We may wish for the TARDIS and a smooth jump forward or back, but our 20s are quite fantastic if we just take the time to recognize them for what they are–a decade of freedom and discovery, growth and change (the good kind).

It’s perfectly acceptable not to have our lives completely put together in our 20s. Rome wasn’t built in a day, Harry Potter didn’t defeat Voldemort with one spell, and Frodo couldn’t have made it to Mordor alone–we’ll get there eventually and there is no need to feel down about our youth along the way.

Clichés exist because some ideas are true and common, which is why I don’t feel silly for saying that we would be crazy to waste our 20s worrying and obsessing about what comes next. Life happens regardless of what you decide or do, and we might as well have some fun along the way. In 13 Going On 30 (2004) Jenna skipped over being a 20-something but, in the end, it was that skip, that lost time, those neglected experiences that made Jenna wish she could go back to being a 13-year-old and give growing up another go.

The Doctor isn’t going to schlep us back to 20 when we turn 30, Hermione Granger doesn’t have a time-turner to volunteer, and Doc Brown and Marty McFly aren’t on their way with a tricked out DeLorean time machine.

It’s up to all of us 20-somethings to make the most of our 20s and not turn our back on the experience out of fear for the future. Your 20s are a crazy era but, someday we will look back and say that “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” we were awesome, we did amazing things, and we don’t regret even a single minute of that adventure. Of course, then we’ll brag about our current and future awesome-ness like the millennials we are and get down with our bad selves to infinity and beyond, though that’s another post entirely…

Be your age, live your life, and know that, even if better days are ahead, these days are pretty great too.


17 Random Questions Tag.

YouTube is such a lovely way to fill time; but, I also really enjoy making silly videos myself. (Maybe that’s a holdover from my high school yearbook staff days…) So, I’m trying to get back into making videos and not just being part of the audience. You can check out my most recent video below and I would love to hear from those of you that are YouTubers! If you’d like to do the same tag that I did, you can find the tag questions just below the video.

Cheers, dearies!


  1. How did you get your youtube user name?
  2. If you could change your name to anything, what would it be and why?
  3. If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would it be and why?
  4. How old were you when you first learned to blow a bubblegum bubble?
  5. What did you want to be when you were little?
  6. What do you order at Starbucks?
  7. What’s the hardest you ever laughed?
  8. If you could play any musical instrument, which would it be and why?
  9. What’s your favorite thing to do when your upset?
  10. What’s your favorite movie?
  11. What’s one food you can not live without?
  12. What’s your favorite dessert?
  13. Favorite pizza topping?
  14. Would you rather have the superpower to read minds, or the superpower to be invisible?
  15. What did you do for your last birthday?
  16. If you had one personal “selfish” wish, what would it be and why?
  17. What does OMGHHKP mean to you?


Goodbye, Year of Exploration. Hello, Year of Ambition.

For the last three years, I’ve rejected the idea of explicit resolutions and instead made a habit of declaring a single word to embody each new year. There was the year of discovery (2012), the year of dedication (2013), and even the year of exploration (2014). Each year lived up to its name, albeit sometimes in surprising ways that pushed me to my limits and then a bit beyond.

In 2012, I discovered who I was away from my friends, outside of my hometown, and apart from everything that I’d always thought was certain, as well as who I was when I came back. In 2013, I dedicated myself to whatever felt important, including finishing my bachelors degree in English and refining my art. And, in 2014, I explored whatever struck my fancy, even as that led me to travel from coast to coast for months on end and begin a master’s degree in criminal justice. No two years were the same, yet no year was more or less enthralling than any other.

All of that being said, 2014 was pretty intriguing. I spent three months in California, Oregon, and Washington. Then I spent three months in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. That’s not to mention all the states and shores I visited on the way to and from those places. I turned 21 and wasted my newest privilege by drinking a pitifully small volume of alcohol (say “no” to big kablue-nas). I began graduate school and discovered that sometimes the student teaches the professor. I baked foods and treats I couldn’t even pronounce and used ingredients I’d never heard of before.

In short, I explored.

Now it’s time to put all of that behind me, to close the door on 2014’s wild exploration, and step into the year 2015, which already seems daunting and intoxicating.

Over the next 365 days, I’ll be traveling back to South Carolina, the state I know only through my family tree.  I’ll be completing my Masters of Criminal Justice degree, complete with nerve-wracking comprehensive exams. I’ll be leaving my friends and the only place I have ever truly regarded as “home.” I’ll be taking control of my health and defying my genetics. I’ll be taking important steps in my personal and professional lives, striving to achieve success through desire and determination.

All in all, 2015 can and will be nothing less than wild and engrossing, fast-paced and sublime. Thus, in the same vein of thought, I’ve decided to call 2015 the year of ambition. I chose the word ambition to embody or headline this year mostly because I have a strong desire to achieve multiple things this year. I have an end-game in mind and nothing will stop me from reaching it. In addition, I’ve come to realize that being ambitious is just in my nature and that is something to use to my advantage, to accept as a benefit. So, this year will be a journey in accepting ambition as a facet of my nature.

Keeping with tradition, as I jumpstart the New Year, I won’t write down any particular resolutions because, well, it just feels awful when a perfectly composed resolution isn’t fulfilled precisely as it was written. I prefer to stick with matters of certainty, like the inevitable graduation and move, and variety, like the generality of being ambitious in all my endeavors. Along the way, I simply hope that at least 15 marvelous things will happen.

Here’s to a year of purpose and cheers to everyone reading this. I hope that you find precisely what you are looking for in the exciting days ahead. Happy New Year!