Thursday, July 25, 2013

We're Young & in Love, so what?

Right now, all I want to do is just pour out whatever is on my mind. I've been reading a few things and hearing things about relationships and there's been a lot going on in my head about the subject. I don't normally talk too much about Darell (my boyfriend, in case you didn't know) online but it's only because I've been thinking about a bunch of different things that I'll talk about us in this post.
*NOTE: These thoughts are all completely my own, and I'm just typing out whatever comes to mind so apologies ahead of time if it doesn't make sense.

Darell & I in 2010 after one of our first dates
Darell and I last sunday at church!

I've been with my boyfriend just over three years, and I can tell you now that those three years have definitely not been a walk in the park. Last year (2012) was, hands down, our roughest year. Somehow, we managed to get through everything and this year has been our best yet. 

Yesterday, one of my friends shared an article on Facebook entitled, "My husband is not my soul mate." I decided to read it because it seemed interesting, and I agreed with what the woman was saying in her post. I'd read similar posts before, and that reinforced certain things I was thinking about. 

This is what some of the blog post said: 
 "God’s plan is for us to be made more holy, more like Christ… not marry a certain person...
There is no biblical basis to indicate that God has one soul mate for you to find and marry. You could have a great marriage with any number of compatible people. There is no ONE PERSON for you. But once you marry someone, that person becomes your one person. As for compatibility, my mom would always pipe up when my girlfriends and I were making our lists of what we wanted in a spouse (dear well meaning Christian adults who thought this would help us not date scumbags: that was a bad idea and wholly unfair to men everywhere) that all that really mattered was that he loved the lord, made you laugh, and was someone you to whom you were attracted. The rest is frosting." -Hannah from (you can read the rest here.)
I'll admit, I've been guilty of this before as well. Of course everyone wants to think that out of the six or so billion people in the world, you found "the One." Throughout the past few months, I've definitely realized that there really isn't one person for you. However, when you're with that person you're with, it is because you consciously choose to be with them and love them every day. 

Now I'm not married, so my situation is a little different. But I bring up that whole concept because I also recently had a conversation with a friend about why I'm choosing to be with one person for the rest of my life and not going out and seeing what else is out there for me. 
I can easily choose to leave my boyfriend and "experience different types of love" as I've heard before, or "test the waters." And although I'm indecisive about a lot of things, my love life is not one of them. 

From growing up in a divorced family and getting my heart severely broken (so much that it affected my self-esteem and self-worth), I decided at a young age that I'd take dating seriously, and that I'd date with the intention of a long-term relationship/marriage. 

So many people think that people who get serious at a young age are more at odds to divorce and have their relationship not end well. I'm not completely disagreeing with that thought. As young adults, your mindset is set on different things like having fun, partying, friends, or whatever it is. But what I am saying is that it does not apply to everyone. 

God gave us the ability to choose for ourselves, so yes it is possible that my boyfriend or myself could change our minds about each other down the road and not end up together. But whether or not that does happen, I will still choose to love him every single day. 

Two people whose thoughts on love and marriage that have really stuck with me over the past few months are things that Darell's mom and uncle have said to me.

His uncle was telling us about the hardships he went through with his family before he married Darell's aunt. Through all of that, he knew what he wanted, and he stood up for it, no matter how crazy he may have seemed. 

One day, I was talking to his mom about my dad's thoughts on relationships, that one fight automatically equals a bad relationship. His mom had been married to his dad for 21 years, and she said that fights are normal and not always a bad thing. In any relationship, romantic or not, it's gonna happen. She said that if you want your marriage to last, you have to fight through those fights, even if you don't want to deal with it. The problem with so many marriages today is that couples forget that promise they make to each other on their wedding day (for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part) and once they get to the "for worse" part, they call it quits. 

However, I am NOT talking about extreme situations like domestic violence. That's something different. What I am talking about is when couples argue or fight or aren't having the best part of their relationship for whatever reasons there are. What Darell's mom talked to me about is that she and her husband talk through whatever it is that they go through and make it work. They still choose to love each other every single day. 

People may say whatever they like about our relationship or the relationships of others who may be in similar situations, but as a word of encouragement, stand up for your relationship and fight through whatever may be going on. You're not alone. 

So even though I may not be married, these kinds of thoughts go through my mind all the time. It's normal to think about, especially if you've been in a long-term relationship with someone. Marriage is a lifetime commitment you make to your friends and family, but more importantly to God. It is something that we all want to do "right," but there is no formula other than having God first, your significant other second, and you last. Everything else is a variable. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Camp Whittle 2013 // What I've Learned as a Camp Counselor

camp counselor tips

I'm finally back from camp, and although it was so amazing to be back, I am also very thrilled to be back at home to rest.

It was my first time at Camp Whittle in Big Bear with the San Pedro and Peninsula YMCA in five years, so I was so excited to come back as a camp counselor. When I went to camp as a kid, I had always told myself that I would keep coming back. After my first year of college, I decided that the timing was perfect.

My co-counselor, Victoria, & I!
When I went to my first camp meeting after missing most of them due to being in Peru and another camp, I suddenly felt very out of place. I know that people will always come and go, but I was surprised to see how many unfamiliar faces filled the room. Mostly everyone was already well acquainted with each other, leaving my sister, my friend Samm, and I with each other. However, I was thrilled to see two old camp friends I made when I was a camper myself so long ago. It reassured me that it was a good thing to be back. 

To make it short and simple: this week wasn't as good as it could've been due to my co-counselor and I having 7 out of 8 of the girls being probably the most disrespectful and selfish little girls I have ever encountered. We weren't sure if it was just all of them being together or if they're really like that at home, but it was definitely a hard week. Regardless of all that, however, I must say that for one second I never regretted making the decision of coming back to camp. 

However, what made it easier was having the support of my co-counselor, my counselors-in-training (CIT's) (we all suffered together), my friends, and the directors. It was comforting to get encouragement, suggestions, or similar stories from others, which reminded me that I wasn't alone.

My sister & I with our rags

I also was able to get my brown rag and have the privilege to tie my sister's silver rag. The rag program is a program that the YMCA camps do where each person sets certain goals for themselves as they move up in the rag program. These goals are meant to be long term, lasting either a year or longer, maybe even 10. My friend Yasmine, one of my first friends at camp six years ago, was the one who had tied my brown rag. I am so blessed to have her in my life and still have kept in touch with her throughout the years.

So in short, this week was definitely... interesting. Haha. It was one heck of a ride, but it was all worth it. I'm so happy to have reconnected with my happy place, one of my favorite places to be in the world. I've also learned a few things from being a camp counselor this past summer...

  1. Pack more than you need! I know that this sounds like an obvious one, but I was trying so hard to pack lightly that I just thought I could reuse my jeans and sweaters over and over again. WRONG. With all the dust and dirt that comes with being at a camp in the middle of the forest in the mountains, you need to pack adequate changes of clothing to deal with the dirt. Thank goodness my sister let me borrow a sweater and pair of shorts from her to wear for the week. 
  2. Go all out! When you're a counselor, it is already a given that you need to actively participate in any and all camp activities. That being said, go big or go home! When you dress up for a themed day/meal, dress all out! You may look or feel stupid, but that's the beauty of camp. You shouldn't care about what others think of you because it's supposed to be a place for people to come together and be themselves. I think this can also apply to daily life as well. I've been learning a lot lately how important it is to put effort into everything you do, rather than making something mediocre just to say you did it. Everything has so much more meaning and feels so much more worth it if you do things that way. Besides, people always say, "If you feel stupid doing it, then you're doing it right." 
  3. Patience, my love. Being a camp counselor really teaches patience. If I could only say one thing I'd learn from being a camp counselor at the two separate camps, it would definitely be patience. Whether it is with the kids, with your co-counselor, with an activity, or with the week in general. No matter what goes on in your head as a camp counselor, it is really important to remind yourself constantly that eventually the time will come for whatever it is that you're waiting for. Disciplining myself not to say anything offensive or overtly hurtful to my campers was honestly a struggle that I had to fight at both of my camps. It was all good for me in the end because I'm more familiar with the way that kids work and am slowly learning how to deal with it. Kudos to all you parents out there for that, haha. 
My summer still isn't over, but it's been such a growing experience for me the past couple of months. Just when you think you know yourself, you learn something new. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thrifty Nifty: Thrifting Tips

I've been wanting to do some shopping lately, and yesterday I decided to go thrift shopping, or as my friends and I call it, thrifting. I'm so happy to have found a floral long sleeve top and white Gap high-waisted shorts for only five dollars for both! 

I have a lot of friends talk about thrifting, but then they tell me the prices of some of their pieces and it's the price of new pieces of clothing from a store like Forever 21! Honey, that's NOT thrifting!

Now, if the item originally costs more than 100 dollars or is designer, then sure, 20 dollars for it is a great deal! If something is also vintage and you can't find it anywhere else, then sure, that's acceptable too. But for most pieces of clothing, you can usually find really good quality pieces for less than 10 dollars at really good thrift stores. Now that's a deal!

Two new additions to my wardrobe: for the cost of a Subway footlong! Haha. 
Shoot, if I can buy an outfit for only five dollars, then you can surely do the same! All it takes is a good eye, and patience. Here are some tips for thrift shopping: 

  1. Scope out different stores until you find one with really good deals! Notice how I don't say, until you find a store with lots of pieces you like. You can find key pieces that you like at any store. The problem that most of us have (including me) is the patience to look thoroughly through the racks to find that diamond in the rough. 
  2. Goodwill or Salvation Army are good stores to start thrifting in, but in most places, there are local thrift stores that can get cheaper than the chain thrift stores as well. I got my two pieces above at a local thrift store. 
  3. Check, check, check! Of course, when you go to any store with second-hand items, there tends to be little rips/tears, stains, and weird fits with some of the items. That's why it's really important to try the clothes on and check for little things you can't fix like stains before buying if possible. Even though these clothes are dirt cheap, it's always sad to fall in love with a piece of clothing, only to realize that you can't wear it because it can't fit or there's a nasty stain somewhere on it. I found a really cute pair of Tommy Hilfiger denim shorts (probably from the 90's) yesterday that I would've bought over my other shorts, but they were waaaay too tight on me when I tried them on. So please, check. You want your money to be well-spent. 
I wish you the best in your thrift shopping adventures! I hope you find cute pieces at cheap prices so you can bask in the glory of saving money. Got any more tips for thrifting? Leave a comment!