30 Things To Do Before 30

30-before-30.pngI don’t think I ever made a list of 30 Things To Do Before Turning 30. I surely must have made that list at some point, but I went through my old emails and documents, and I can’t find anything saved digitally. I guess I’m showing my age… “When I was a girl, we used to write lists out by hand!” Ha.

Rather than scoring myself on that never-to-be-found-handwritten list (of what I did and did not accomplish by age 30), I will instead list out 30 Things I Did Before 30 – all of which are things I feel like could have been on my list!

  1. Dance in a ballet
  2. Sing for my supper
  3. Get a hole-in-one
  4. Watch a total lunar eclipse
  5. Score a goal in a soccer game
  6. Save a life
  7. Sing with someone famous
  8. Get paid to sing
  9. Shoot a 9mm pistol
  10. Go white water rafting
  11. Visit all 50 states
  12. Graduate Magna Cum Laude
  13. Earn an EMT certification
  14. Go on an international mission trip
  15. Earn an engineering degree
  16. Travel internationally for work
  17. Perform with David Copperfield in Vegas
  18. See a Broadway show in NYC
  19. Read through the entire bible in a year
  20. Get paid to photograph a wedding
  21. Visit Neuchvanstein
  22. Run a 5k
  23. Perform an original composition live
  24. Go on a blind date
  25. Get copyrighted
  26. Release an original album on iTunes
  27. Get paid for artwork
  28. Give a speech to 1,000+ people
  29. Share the Gospel with a stranger
  30. Watch a meteor shower with someone I love

Man. It’s been a good 30 years.

Authentically Aurora

Let’s Play a Game…

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What’s your favorite color? Really, take some time to think about this. Now answer this: Why?

My favorite color has always been purple. As a little girl, I learned that purple was a color associated with royalty and was immediately drawn to its majestic hues. My favorite shade of purple is a deep indigo (like Pantone 273) because it is mostly comprised of cool, soothing blues but has just a dash of fiery red. To me, it is the perfect combination of serenity and passion.

Next: What’s your favorite part of nature? Pick an object (e.g. the sky, mountains, oceans). What do you love about this part of nature?

I have always been drawn to trees. I love being in the forest because it gives me a sense of adventure but also fills me with peace. I feel calm, rested and at home among the trees, but I also feel a thrill of excitement at the thought of hiking and exploring something new, wild and untamed. It’s raw beauty.

Lastly: If you could have any animal for a pet (including combinations of animals, like a dog with wings), what would you choose and why?

When I was asked this question, my first thought was to have a baby leopard. I love big cats because they are strong but agile; powerful but graceful. I’ve always thought they are the perfect combination of strength and beauty. And I’d love to have a baby leopard that stayed tiny because I’d love to hold it and snuggle with it; I’d want it to stay sweet and playful.

I was first asked these questions last night around a campfire while toasting marshmallows for s’mores. Seth and I went to a Christmas party with some friends from church, and while the guys congregated inside talking about different types of wine, the girls huddled around the campfire wrapped in our scarves and bonding over one another’s answers to these questions.

The girl who posed the questions told us at the end that what you think about your favorite color is how you view yourself, what you love about nature is what you think about God, and your ideal pet is what you look for in a partner. For me, all of this really lined up! What about for you? What were your answers?

Authentically Aurora

P.S. When the guys came outside, we asked some of them the questions, too. Seth’s ideal pet is a golden retriever because it is “classic, loyal, patriotic, obedient and a good hunting dog.” 😉

Electing to Speak Out

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Four thoughts on the 2016 election:

1. The Silent Majority

The outcome of this presidential election was a huge shock to most of America, largely because everyone talking about the election seemed to be a Hillary supporter. Between the ever-present liberal media coverage and the most vocal of our friends and colleagues, everyone seemed to be voting blue, leading the nation to assume Trump had basically no shot at winning. The key mistake, I believe, was that we as a nation only listened to those who were talking. But so much more was going on in the undercurrents of our country’s populace.

Trump supporters made up a SILENT majority. Most people who voted for Trump did so half-heartedly. Few people think he is a moral, upstanding man worthy of our respect as a person. But many voters would rather have Trump in office than Hillary; even so, they felt shamed into silence. The first person who admitted to me that they voted for Trump did so by saying reluctantly, “I’m guilty. I’m one of the deplorables.” The general consensus among this group seems to be: “I’m disappointed Trump won, but I’m glad Hillary didn’t.”

Throughout the entire process, Trump voters remained a Silent Majority. Before the election, the American media led us all to believe Trump had no chance of victory. The night of the election, my social media feeds were full of Hillary supporters asking in shock, “Is this really happening?” And post-election, everyone around me keeps talking about how angry and upset they are that such a “racist, bullying bigot” is our President Elect. Every conversation around me seems to include the words: hurt, confused and scared. It’s still Hillary supporters doing most of the talking. Trump voters remain a Silent Majority. But the Silent Majority has spoken.

2. The Swing of the Pendulum 

All of the polls and logical rationale pointed to Hillary being named the first female president, but if we throw away all the analysis and use intuition instead, it’s actually not so surprising that Trump won.

After Bill Clinton’s escapades with Monica, the nation wanted the squeaky-clean and morally upright George W. Bush for president. After good ol’ boy “W”, the nation voted in the intellectual and well-spoken Barack Obama. We as a nation repeatedly seek out change, and the pendulum ever swings to the opposite extreme (many of us do this with significant others as well).

Trump is the antithesis of Obama and therefore – from this purely intuitive, psychological perspective – he fit the pattern and was the obvious choice of American voters as a whole.

3. Third Party Voters

I have been amazed by how many of my friends have admitted in the past 24 hours that they voted Third Party. When I’ve asked them if they believed Gary Johnson (or other third parties, for that matter) had any chance of winning, they all said “No.” When I asked if they had a preference between Trump and Clinton, most of them said “Yes.” None of them are indifferent to the outcome; they are all either outraged or relieved.

I understand from an ideological perspective why someone would vote Third Party. My inner child and idealist would have loved to vote for a Third Party rather than the two primary options afforded to us. But no one was under the illusion that a Third Party candidate had a chance at the win, so practicality insisted that a decision be made.

Every time I find out that yet another friend voted Third Party, I feel hurt, frustrated and (honestly) used. Again, I understand the decision, but it makes feel like – whether my friend’s preference was Trump over Hillary or vice versa – they opted to take the “moral high ground” and keep their own hands and consciences “clean”, all the while hoping the rest of us would dirty our hands and sell our souls to get the “win” for them. I wish they would have helped to share the burden.

4. Racism & Moving to Canada

The Canadian immigration website crashed on Tuesday night. That is amusing to me. What is not amusing are the hateful, racist comments being posted across social media in the wake of the election.

Most Americans – even Trump voters – acknowledge that Trump has made a number of horrible, racist comments. And I have heard stories that help me understand the fear and concern of minorities. But many of these same minorities have started to post horrible, racist comments themselves as a backlash against all caucasians.

One of my own Facebook friends wrote yesterday: “We see you, white people. We will always remember how we’ve been treated, and one day, you’ll pay. We are coming for you, f***ing white people. We see you.”

This is deeply disturbing to me. Do they not realize that, in making these comments, they are guilty of the very crime – racism! – of which they accuse caucasians in their broad, sweeping, embittered, racist generalizations? Not all white people voted for Trump, and not all Trump voters condone his racist comments. Hatred will only propagate more hatred. We need to stop this cycle.

On a lighter note:

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Just saying.

Authentically Aurora

Sunshine Blogger Award

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Some of my favorite days are the cool, blustery days where the golden rays of sun shine down and warm your chilled hands and face even as you snuggle under a cozy, oversized sweatshirt. Serendipitously, I recently learned that there is a word for this phenomenon: apricity – the warmth of the sun on a cold day.

I like that word. Apricity. And it’s what I want to be to the world: the warmth of the sun on a cold day. The warmth of the Son on a proverbially cold day. That’s what Jesus came to be – light in the darkness; warmth to the cold. Neither dark nor cold actually exist; they are the absence of light and heat respectively, and Jesus came to freely give all He had to those who had none. Apricity – the warmth of the sun on a cold day. 

Little Sunshine over at Sunshine Ave recently nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (an aptly-named award for a blog so named)!  Evidently…

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.

…something I aim to do both on this blog and in everyday life! I am honored to have been nominated for this award and gladly accept! Thank you, Little Sunshine, for the nomination!

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award
  4. Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  5. Notify the bloggers you nominated

Rule #1? Check!

Rule #2? Here we go…

Little Sunshine posed the following 10 questions for me to answer:

  1. What is your biggest dream?
    • This question makes me think of Rapunzel in “Tangled”. rapunzel-dream
    • I’ve had a lot of dreams over the years, and I’ve been blessed to see most of them come true. I used to dream of somewhat superficial things – visiting all 7 continents, releasing an original album on iTunes – but now I consider those more of life goals. A dream is something precious and intimate, interwoven into your heart. And these days, my dream is more like a vision – to be a wife and mother, full of life and joy, radiating light into the world and growing more and more into the godly woman I’ve been uniquely created to be.
  2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
    • As mentioned in #1, I’ve had a goal for a while of visiting all 7 continents. I’ve been to about 30 countries and 5 continents, all of them wonderful experiences, and a year ago, I would have definitely said that I most want to visit Australia and New Zealand. But Seth is an American through and through; a homebody of a patriot, and we are taking a trip to California later this month, which is about as foreign a trip as this cowboy wants to take. And after imagining exploring California with Seth, there’s no place I’d rather be.
  3. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?introverting-coffee-book
    • Introvert. Definitely. This surprises most people when they first hear it – mostly because I’m a pretty social, outgoing introvert – but my perfect day involves curling up in a quiet little nook with a latte and good book… or finding a secluded park where I can walk and think and listen to music on my earbuds… or staying home to clean and organize my apartment… or sitting alone in the silence to work on my latest art project. Mmm. Perfection.
  4. Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?
    • Yep. When I was in 2nd grade, I decided that I wanted to go to West Point and be an engineer. But what we want as sweet, innocent, idealistic 8-year-olds is not always aligned with reality, so although I am living the dream of having an engineering degree and working at a major oil company in Corporate America, I have discovered that the composite of the bureaucracy, politicking, process nazis and inauthenticity of my current workplace comprise something akin to my personal hell. Which is why I am changing careers to teaching… where I can spread my cynicism wisdom to the next generation.
  5. Do you usually follow your heart or your head?
    • My head. Sometimes going with your gut is a great option for quick decisions, but for any decision that allows for more than a few seconds to go with your first instinct, I have found that emotions are subject to the whim and fancy of the day and may not hold up longer-term. I prefer thinking through the logic of various options, examining my intentions, considering the ripple effect of whichever choice I make, and of course consulting God in prayer.
  6. What are you most thankful for? by-grace-through-faith
    • That while I was still a sinner, Christ did for me. Even though I am undeserving of being rescued from my sinfulness and total depravity, Jesus willingly took on the punishment I deserve (through his death and resurrection) so that I could be brought into a right relationship with God. Nothing compares with that – no family relationships, no dating relationships, no job or financial success… Without God’s love and mercy and grace, I would be like the walking dead.
  7. What’s on your bucket list this year?
    • Finishing my teaching certification. And maybe getting my CHL.
  8. What’s your favorite food ever?chocolate-is-a-girls-best-friend
    • Peanut butter. Or chocolate. Let’s go with chocolate covered almonds as a fair compromise. 😀
  9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
    • “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
  10. Which of the places you’ve traveled to inspired you the most, and why?
    • My favorite trip I’ve ever taken was to Germany at Christmastime with my family, but the place I’ve visited that most inspired me would have to be South Sudan, mostly because that trip helped to right my perspective on so many things in life. We are profoundly blessed.

Alright! Hopefully you all now feel like you know a bit more about me! Here are my nominees (I liked Little Sunshine’s questions, so answer these same questions if you choose to accept)!

  1. MyLittlePieceofQuiet
  2. Salvageable
  3. InsanityBytes
  4. MrsSpike
  5. BlissfulBritt
  6. SingleStrides
  7. INFJRamblings
  8. MySweetJesusBlog
  9. BeautyBeyondBones
  10. TheRoseQuartz
  11. Captainsspeech

Authentically “Sunshiny” Aurora

The Frugal Woman’s Shopping Spree

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My mom and I share a CVS Pharmacy card, so we double up on our points, meaning that I occasionally get a huge printout of coupons for use on my next visit. Last week I hit the coupon JACKPOT:

  • $3 off $15 lip or eye makeup
  • $3 off $9 Revlon cosmetics
  • $1 off $5 candy or chocolate
  • $1.50 off $4 body wash

Candy? Chocolate? Cosmetics? Yes, please! And BONUS! Body wash was on my shopping list already since I’m almost out!

It was like the stars aligned. The pharmacy fairies sprinkled some of their white powdery angel dust on me, and suddenly I was a pillionaire with coupons galore to save on all of a woman’s favorite things!

All day long, I looked forward to my shopping spree at CVS Pharmacy, and lo and behold, the bounty was indeed plentiful:

coupon-purchases

All told, I saved nearly 25% on my indulgences (and items I needed to buy anyway)! Seth is a value shopper and, last time he heard about my frugality, rewarded me with a kiss. After hearing about my purchases at the pharmacy, I wonder what he’ll prescribe this time. 😉

Authentically Aurora

Paris – Day 1

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View from our Airbnb

After a long day of travel, Rachel and I were finally just one Metro stop away from our Airbnb when our RER turned a corner and there, in the break in the buildings, was the Eiffel Tower. “Wow, look at that!” I breathed, pointing at the massive structure. Rachel gave voice to the exact words in my head: “It’s bigger than I expected.”

We exited the Metro via an escalator leading us outside, where we got our first breath of French air. Sunlight filtered through the trees that smelled like jasmine, and birds chirped happily nearby. It was perfection.

We found our Airbnb, dropped off our luggage and ventured out into the city. After getting caught in our first French rainstorm and having our first cup of French coffee, Rachel and I entered the beautiful gardens of Musee d’Rodin. The lush gardens were shaded by trees dotted with rose bushes, making our walk cool, sunny and fragrant.

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“The Kiss”

After walking around the outdoor paths and discovering “The Thinker”, we made our way inside where we found “The Kiss”. It is a breathtaking sculpture – possibly my favorite ever – because the intimate pose is both passionate and sweet. In my experience, it is hard to find both, but it is a love worth waiting for – and one that models the love that God has for us all. His love is strong.

Rachel and I enjoyed a chocolate-filled afternoon, stopping at both the quaint Jean-Charles Rochoux and the swanky Patrick Roger, as well as getting our first chocolate croissants from a chain called Paul. I saved some of my chocolates (hazelnut dark chocolate and rose dark chocolate) to savor while we sat in the grass at a small park, enjoying the sunshine.

For dinner, we ate at a restaurant I’d found on Yelp: Au Pied du Fouet. I ordered the canard (duck), and it was delicious, although I felt self-conscious because the friendly chef stood at the door to the kitchen watching me eat.

Rachel and I ended every day by climbing seven flights of stairs (127 steps. I counted). Then we rewarded ourselves with a hot shower in our plastic porta-shower and then… sleep!

Authentically Aurora

La Douceur du Foyer

Flowers from SethI just got home from Paris last night, greeted at the airport by Seth’s smiling face. He’d offered to pick me up and left work early to do so, showing up looking handsome in a blue-and-white plaid button-down tucked into khaki slacks. He wrapped me in a hug and then, from behind his back, pulled a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers dotted with tiny purple daisies. My favorite.

He insisted on carrying my luggage, kissed me sweetly when we were alone in the elevator, and made dinner for me while I showered at home, washing off more than 15 hours of travel. Other than my daddy, I’ve never had a man meet me at the airport with flowers – and certainly not cook dinner for me as well. Seth makes me feel like a princess.

I’m still processing everything I saw and experienced during my whirlwind of a trip to Paris, but in the meantime, my travel-fogged brain has been musing over a couple of things.

I got sick my first day in Paris, and I am not sure if it’s because:

  1. I was stuck in a petri dish of an airplane for ten hours with coughers and sneezers,
  2. My body subconsciously wanted my French to sound more authentic (i.e. more nasal-y), or
  3. I am allergic to socialism.

With the EuroCup going on, Rachel and I made a lot of new friends – British, Welsh, Polish and German, but no French. I was disappointed to discover that Parisians were just as rude as all the stereotypes. I’m wondering if this is because:

  1. They’re bitter about only being back-to-back World War Champs because of American rescue,
  2. They have stale baguettes stuck up their butts, or
  3. They are living under the stench of European socialism.

In the 18 hours I have been back in America, I have already experienced some reverse culture shock. Most notably:

  1. When someone passed me on the street this morning, I surprised myself by automatically clutching my purse closer to my side, wary of pickpockets.
  2. I walked past two women talking in the office and heard one begin her sentence, “We pardoned…” and was stunned to realize that my mind heard, “Oui, pardon!” I think I need to purge my brain of the last week of French speaking.
  3. I passed by a TV screen declaring Hillary is picking up votes. Not that I’m exactly a Trump supporter, but I’d thought I was escaping socialism when I came home and was disheartened to realize that  – in actuality – perhaps the difference in culture is not quite as significant as I’d hoped. Regardless, I am beyond thankful to be back home in the Land of the Free & Home of the Brave.

Yay ‘Merica.

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Authentically Aurora