The 99 Day Bucket List Bunch

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Many of you may remember the 99 days before graduation bucket list I attempted this spring. My family, friends, and I had a blast visiting different spots in Atlanta, trying new things, and going on adventures together. My sister and I had so much fun that we wanted to expand it a little.

What if other people got to make their own “9 things in 99 days bucket lists” and experience their own fun? What if they strengthened relationships with their friends and family while doing things they had always wanted to do? What if they found bravery and community along the way?

That’s the heart behind the 99 Day Bucket List Bunch. If you want to join, just make a list of 9 things you want to do in 99 days, and then do them. Round 1 starts tomorrow! The 99 days will run from August 1 to November 7. If you want more info, check out our site or follow us on Instagram.

The end goal is that on November 7, you’ll be in a stronger community of braver people. Now doesn’t that sound exciting? I hope you’ll join us for an amazing adventure, starting tomorrow.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

-Jawaharlal Nehru

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What I’m Learning Now

I haven’t been on this space much (read: at all) lately. To explain myself, I could tell you about how busy the past couple of months have been, that I graduated high school and started the coolest summer job ever and went to the UK with my family and began preparing for college. I could lament about how I’ve barely had time to pee since the whirlwind that was May started and the hurricane that was June commenced after. I could apologize for how writing has taken a backseat to the craziness of living life.

But in reality, I don’t think I’ve been absent because I’ve been busy. I think the more I learn, the less I have to say. I noticed this back in January, when I started to really prioritize time with Jesus and simultaneously struggled to come up with blog post ideas. As I’ve studied the Bible, I’ve learned so much about God’s character, but He’s too big to sum up in a couple hundred words on this tiny little blog. As I’ve gone through certain circumstances, I’ve learned so much about life, but life is too crazy and unpredictable to write anything solid about it. As I’ve simply lived the past couple of months, I’ve learned that there’s a lot more learning to do.

And even though I haven’t been writing about it, I am definitely learning. I’m learning that reading God’s Word consistently really does open your eyes to understand who He is. I’m learning that video editing is hard. I’m learning that the more tightly you hold onto something, the less peace you have about it. (Thanks for that one, Mom.) I’m learning that it’s okay to acknowledge the good things about yourself as long as you also acknowledge Who gave you them. I’m learning a lot about bravery and taking risks. I’m learning that things that seem scary still have to be done. I’m learning that Mat Kearney is an incredible musician. I’m learning that God is good and faithful, good and faithful, good and faithful.

In all this learning, I’m so busy growing that I often forget to write about it. But my rule of thumb is to never apologize for living life off the screen, so I’m not going to say sorry for taking a bit of a break this summer. I’ve got a lot of cool things planned for the fall that I can’t wait to show all my beautiful readers. But for now, I hope y’all join me, venture out, and continue to enjoy your summer, always making sure to learn while you go. Life is in the learning, friends.

Happy Holidays

Publix commercials, man.

Don’t they make the holidays look picture perfect? Homecooked meals, beautifully frosted cookies, a laughing family, pristine bows on all the presents. In the ads, Thanksgiving is really about being thankful and Christmas is about more than just commercialism. To convince you to buy their ingredients for grandma’s recipes and not shop at Kroger instead, they pull out all the stops and often induce the waterworks. Publix: Where shopping is a pleasure, and so are the holidays.

But that’s not reality, is it?

The holidays definitely have their bright spots, sometimes literally (candlelight church Christmas services, I’m looking at you). But oftentimes, the holidays are messy. Lonely. Complicated. Different than expected. Busy. Hard.

We have this picture perfect idea of the holidays in our heads, but that’s so far from reality. For example, my reality this year looks like: finals sapping my Christmas spirit until December 17; going out to breakfast with my friends after an exam but not eating anything so I can save money to buy something for my family and friends; typing this post out on my phone as I ignore my AP Bio homework; calling my mom two days before Christmas, crying and eating cold mac and cheese.

Imagine putting that in a Publix commercial.

My hypothesis is this: this year, we don’t need another picture perfect holiday. December should be more than plastering on the same smiles we wear on our Christmas cards. Can we please admit that sometimes, the Christmas spirit looks a little more like stress, not smiles?


We had one family Christmas on Friday night, and in the middle of it, honesty hour erupted. It started with a simple question from my aunt: “What is God teaching you right now?” More and more family members joined the conversation until it was everyone in one big circle. Phones were put down as people genuinely opened up about what was truly on their hearts. And honestly, it was my favorite part of the night. Better than getting a shirt that I wanted, better than witnessing a neighbor’s proposal, better than Christmas chicken: honesty hour.

It’s way too rare to say something real, and it’s even rarer around the holidays. We feel like everything is supposed to be perfect. We put on a fake front that we are Having Ourselves a Merry Little Christmas, thank you. Our ornaments say joy even if it’s the opposite of what we feel.

I’m so tired of festive fake. What if we start a new Christmas tradition? What if, in this tail end of December, as we rapidly approach the new year, we’re all real? We’re all people. None of us has it pulled together; everyone just acts like it. What if we stop pretending?

What if the happy holidays turn into honesty hour? With ourselves, with God, with our families, with our loved ones. I’ll be honest now: on Black Friday, I swore that this was going to be the best Christmas ever. It is now Christmas Eve Eve, and I still haven’t bought presents for my family. I tried a new cookie recipe today and they tasted like biscuits, which I don’t like. I called my mom tonight after the kids I babysat went to bed, and I just cried and cried and ate cold mac and cheese.

This is my Christmas. It’s messy. It’s imperfect, like me. I am giving myself permission to not have the best Christmas ever. I am not in a Publix commercial, and I’m okay with that.

Honesty hour is so much better than happy holidays, anyway. Let’s be real, together. Here’s to the truth, and here’s to you. Happy honesty hour.

The Return Voyage

I just did it. I hit that little “WordPress” button on my bookmarks bar and directed myself right on over to this blank post screen that I haven’t seen in over two weeks. There are more butterflies in my stomach right now than I thought there’d be. I thought I’d be thrilled, excited, feeling perfectly at ease to be back at Basically Hermione.

But my fingers are shaking a little bit. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this step feels the hardest; it’s always been an odd comfort to me to think that the Enemy attacks most when we’re about to do something huge. It means that when I’m feeling the most afraid, I’m probably doing the right thing. (Unless I’m feeling most afraid as I’m about to, like, zipline over a pool of piranhas. That just sounds unsafe.)

Today, I went to the library, sat outside on this gorgeous fall day, and crafted “The Game Plan.” As I did so, I called myself “Cher with a pen.” (A la Clueless, because Clueless.) I was making charts about what I write and why, listing pro tips from a writing webinar I participated in several weeks ago, and coming up with next steps. I was moving forward.

And sometimes, when you move forward, the steps you take feel a little shaky.

I know what I want to do in this space now. I have it outlined in a chart with “The Fling” in one column and “The Focus” in another. (This goes along with another alliterated chart, FYI, because that’s the way I roll. Alliterated charts. Whoop whoop.) I know why I’m here.

The words are back and they’re flowing, and even though that big blue “Publish” button is freaking me out a little right now, I’m excited. I’ve got lots planned. It’s scary to be Cher with a pen, but I am hoping that it’s worth it.

Before we get the ball(point pen) rolling, I have a few people I need to thank:

  • My family, friends, and loved ones who have stuck with me in this crazy season of life. Senior year has kicked. my. butt. And so many people have loved me, supported me, encouraged me, and given me wise advice through it all. Thank y’all for loving me as I am.
  • My readers. Thank you for being okay with the radio silence and for encouraging me re: the blogging break. I appreciate you, your time, and your support more than you know. Thank you for your forgiveness, grace, and kindness to me.
  • Better than Queso, Vol. 1. I joined this writing group on Facebook a couple weeks ago, and they have already inspired me and given me a real sense of community with other word-crafters (that is so not a thing, why am I up so late) such as myself. Thank you guys for being such a big part of the reason I came back to typing today.

And to you, right now: Thanks for reading. Get ready for one heck of a ride.

I’m Sorry

I’m really sorry.

Part 3 of Senioritis was accidentally published last night when it wasn’t supposed to be. (Those “Save Draft” and “Publish” buttons are dangerously close together.) I took it down almost immediately, but those of you who subscribe to me via email still have it, and it’s y’all that I need to apologize to.

For my readers who aren’t subscribed to me via email, the gist of the post was that I feel that outside sources are putting too much pressure on me in terms of my future (college, major, career choices, etc.). A post that had the potential to speak up on behalf of those interested in the humanities instead of STEM and provide an insightful perspective of a student turned into a blame-fest. It really shouldn’t have been that way.

As I wrote it, the post developed into more of an attack than anything else, and I deeply regret it. I am so, so sorry to any readers who felt blame, guilt, or other negative emotions as a result of that post. It came out of a place of frustration and anger, when in reality I know that college questions and advice are not the result of any desire to pressure me, but rather to relate to me and show interest in my life. I’m glad for that, and I’m sorry I forgot and lost my cool. I hope y’all can forgive me. I’d like to take this opportunity to turn it around and say thank you: to those of you who forward me articles about scholarships, who ask me about what my next steps are, who try to relate to me by bringing up coworkers’ or friends’ kids who are currently enrolled in college. I’m grateful that y’all are investing in my life, and I’m grateful that you’re here. Please, keep forwarding me those articles and giving me advice. I know it all comes out of a place of love, and that’s all I can ask for. I’m deeply sorry for the things I said and the hurt I may have caused.

Because of this little crisis, I’ve decided to take a break.

I know Basically Hermione just got a makeover, but it needs a different one that goes a little deeper, too. Think Cher’s soul makeover in Clueless. I’m taking a step back to really think about what this space needs to be. It definitely should not be a place for self-righteous whining or pointing fingers ever again. So, other than book reviews, you won’t be seeing me until it’s considered an appropriate time for stores to have Halloween merchandise. I’m sorry and I’d like to thank y’all for sticking with me through this. My creative juices need a new recipe, and even though it’s happening because of a royal screw-up, I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you soon.

To Be Missed

There’s a new trend in this day and age of social media: birthday posts. Instead of cards, people write a lengthy paragraph on Instagram complete with a collage of ugly photos of their bff. If they’re friends but not incredibly close, people might send out a tweet. 140 characters of love. I’ve done this plenty of times; those paragraph captions on Insta take quite a while, actually. But more and more, as people retweet well-wishes on their birthday or I see a circle of friends post for the same friend’s special day, I’ve been noticing three little words pop up: I miss you.

The tweets especially follow a formula:

Happy birthday @ friend’s handle! I miss you, we gotta do something soon *heart emoji* love you lots and hope you eat lots of [insert dessert here]! *party emoji*

There are some people I follow who have retweeted at least ten of these on their birthdays. I am absolutely not bashing the birthday social media love; if it’s how people show they care, I’m all for it. But I can’t shake the feeling that there must be more than being missed.

To be missed means that they haven’t seen you in too long. How many of those sentiments of wanting to get together are actually followed up with dinners at Willy’s or an afternoon coffee? John Green said it best: “You can never love people as much as you can miss them.” Too often, as cliche as it is, we don’t realize what we have until it’s no longer standing right in front of us. Friends move. Circles shift. Change happens, try as we might to stop it. (Believe me, I do.) And we’re left with people we’re being forced to let go that we should’ve held tighter while we had the chance.

I had a German exchange student in my small group this year. She was funny and brave and had a Polaroid camera and an excellent fashion sense. She’s leaving this week, and in her goodbye note to me she said something about wishing that we had spent more time together. Though the rest of it was thanking me for my friendship and reflecting on the memories we share now, that sentence broke my heart a little.

Honestly, I should’ve done better. I should’ve called more. I should’ve braved that drive downtown to pick her up for a coffee date every once in a while. We should’ve gone to the zoo or the aquarium or any of those cliche tourist attractions, and we should’ve done it together. Because now that she’s leaving, I wish we had spent more time together, too.

I don’t want to be missed. I know there are goodbyes down the road, and I understand that when certain songs come on or someone hears a ukulele playing or someone mentions Harry Potter, the people I have left behind will think of me. Maybe they’ll text me and let me know or at least stalk my Instagram for a couple minutes. But I would rather love them with everything I have, right here, right now, so that when the final hug comes, I can say that I had this beautiful flower of a person within reach for a while and I held them tight. I don’t want to be missed. I want to see every single person as a blessing that I can’t afford to lose until the last possible second, when God Himself pulls our paths apart. I’ve gotta learn to act on that. I’ve gotta say as many hello’s and how are you’s and I’m here for you’s and be yourself, darling’s before those goodybe’s come. If I don’t, the goodbye’s might kill me. If I am missed too much, that means missed out on some incredible joy and wonderful people, people that I should’ve seen before they were in my rearview mirror. They are worth seeing here and now for who they are. They are worth loving and not missing out on. They’re worth whatever time it takes to be here instead of be missed.

It Mattered

I hope you know it mattered.

I hope you know you made one day a little easier and a little brighter for a high school girl who was running out of steam as finals approached. I hope you know that getting up after a late night studying wasn’t as difficult as it could’ve been, because I knew you’d be on the other side. I hope you know that when you asked to see prom pictures, I looked around and realized how grateful I am for you.

I hope you know that small smiles from you make me smile right back long after your joyous expression has disappeared. I hope you know how I turn your words over and over inside my mind until I feel I could burst with happiness at the thought of someone like you believing in someone like me. I hope you know that when you cheered me on, I kept going. I want to be able to say that I kept going, even when it was hard. I want to say I pushed through and fought through the mud and found the miracles in it all.

I hope you know that when I come out on the other side, you will have touched my story. Maybe it was a simple conversation. Maybe it was one quote of encouragement that I’ve replayed endlessly since then. It could’ve been an offer to share a snack when I needed it most or a long friendship of popcorn-filled nights and movie marathons. But no matter how small it may seem, how insignificant little interactions and complimenting shoes might appear, every bit of it changed something. It changed me. Words with you, your thoughts and prayers, they shaped me into who I am today, and they’ll continue to shape me for the rest of my life.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for caring. Thank you for giving a little extra of yourself to a girl who will never be the same because of it. I promise you, it mattered.

Crunch Time Tips

It’s that time of year again, when grunts are my preferred communication and something as simple as referencing The Great Gatsby will make me want to tear my hair out. There’s no time for full meals; it’s cereal and pita chips at every hour of the day. My blood is fifty percent tea (heavily caffeinated earl grey, to be specific). If Fall Out Boy isn’t blasting through my earbuds, odds are I’m extremely cranky. If I doze off during class, I’ll wake up reciting the causes and effects of the French and Indian War.

Finals are upon us.

It’s crunch time, and our eyes are on the light at the end of the tunnel while our goal is simply to survive. Here’s a couple quick reminders to make sure you take care of yourself during finals!

  • Make a killer playlist. Good music is key for being able to hunker down and get ‘er done. In the past, my finals playlists have been calming acoustic bands like Penny and Sparrow or The Hunts. This year, if there aren’t at least two electric guitars threatening to burst my eardrums, I’m not interested or focused on studying. For some reason completely unknown to me, Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco have been my jam. Creating a separate playlist for finals will help you focus whenever you’ve got that music on your side… and also give you reason for an occasional dance break.
  • Tell the group texts that you gottagobye. Nothing is more distracting while studying than your phone ping ping pinging from across the table. It’s so easy to scroll through Instagram, then twitter, then Facebook, then repeat until it’s an hour later and a blank document is still staring you in the face. Put the cellular down.
  • Reward yourself. If you’ve spent a solid amount of time having a really good study session, treat yourself a little bit. Push through the crunch time by envisioning what you’ll do when it’s all over. Plan to reward yourself after finals are through and even after you finish a particularly difficult task or assignment. Associating studying with future benefits (aside from good grades or AP exam scores) will help you stay motivated.
  • Color-code. Without a color-coded schedule, I’d lose my mind. Using different colored pens or highlighters helps keep you focused and makes the information more separate and distinct in your mind. It keeps everything you’ve learned from running together into a giant blob, which is often what your brain feels like during finals week. Use lots of pinks and greens and purples and you’re sure to succeed.
  • (Gold)fish are friends and food. A good snack is a perfect break from studying. Use sweet/salty treats as rewards, breaks, and brain food. My preferred finals snack is carrots and hummus. This point also brings me to…
  • People will tell you not to be dependent on caffeine and that it will stunt your growth and that you shouldn’t require coffee as a teenager, but finals week is an exception to all of these slightly ridiculous rules. I’m not a coffee person, but I drink tea like a vampire drinking blood. If the whole “I’m going to keep myself healthy during exams and actually try to maintain a normal sleep schedule” thing fails, get yourself some caffeine and pull an all nighter. Sometimes, a latte is crucial to your survival, and that’s perfectly okay.
  • Attitude is everything. These weeks can crush you, or you can crush them. You got it, boo. That’s all there is to it.

I hope everyone doesn’t die during finals! Enjoy these crunch time tips and keep going!

The 100 Charity Project

It took me two weeks to watch both seasons of The 100, and I’ve been in love with the show ever since. The premise is that, after the nuclear apocalypse, humanity’s last survivors are stuck in space. Their spaceship, the Ark, begins running out of oxygen and supplies, so they decide on what’s possibly the best plan ever: send one hundred juvenile delinquents down to Earth with no adult supervision whatsoever to see if it’s survivable (hence the insensitivity of pick-up lines about falling from heaven). The show is an amazing and heartbreaking tale of survival, morally grey situations, character development, and beautiful relationships. There’s excitement and sadness and one heck of a soundtrack. But despite the awesomeness of the show, immediately after the hiatus started in mid-March, the creators of the show started getting a lot of negativity from the fans about couples and favoritism. One of the actors even left twitter for a few days due to the excess of undesired tweets sent at him.

This is not how fandoms are supposed to be.

Fandoms are supposed to be communities of enthusiasm and love for a thing that’s pretty freaking great. Not all members have to agree, and not all members need to participate in the same activities, but we’re supposed to be united in a love for the show/series/movie/whatever, rallied around a common cause of appreciating human creativity and awesomeness. Unfortunately, partially due to a controversial poll, several members of The 100 fandom were not behaving in a manner that represents the show or general fan culture positively or accurately.

Then, The 100 Charity Project happened. And I fell in love again.

The 100 Charity Project is all about using “fan engagement, social media, and outreach to focus the incredible passion, support, and enthusiasm of The 100′s fan base and following toward making the world a better place.” Fandoms and helping people have collided, and I want it to be my career. The first mission of The 100 Charity Project is a hunger initiative. They’re rallying fans to donate canned goods to local food banks, as well as to donate money to Action Against Hunger. They also have a group on freerice.com, where you can play trivia and donate rice to the hungry through the World Food Programme.

This is what stories are all about. They’re about something bigger than just words on a page or actors moving on a television screen; they’re about learning life lessons, appreciating the people around you, and making a difference in real life. Stories change us and introduce us to something more than just the world we live in. Various book series, movies, and TV shows have taught me so much about relationships, personal growth, and countless other things, so I’m excited that The 100 is really getting out there in terms of taking its messages off the screen and into the real world. That’s where stories were meant to be all along. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of The 100 Charity Project. This fandom is doing it right, and I’m proud.

Linkity links!

Watch the season 1 of The 100 here

Follow The 100 Charity Project on tumblr and twitter.

Read more about their first mission here.

The images at the top are not mine! All credit goes to this tumblr.