Friday, August 28, 2015

25 Facts About Me

I always wanted to wear glasses. My mom thought I was crazy! 

My ideal day would consist of sitting in a coffee shop on a rainy day, writing in my journal or typing a new story I'm working on, listening to music, hanging out with friends and exploring a small town/taking pictures and documenting the whole thing. 

I have this desire to be a director someday, even if only just for one project. I love shooting, scouting locations and coming up with a clear vision for whatever I'm working on. 

My favorite place to be is around a campfire with family and friends, telling stories and roasting marshmallows. That's also my favorite scent! I really am a nature girl. 

I always wanted a 'full house,' and for all of my family to live together. Or maybe I just wanted an Uncle Jesse. I think if I met the cast of Full House, my life would almost be complete! 


LeAnn Rimes is the reason I got into country music years ago. I would watch her Disney Channel concert over and over again, doing everything just as she did when I would perform the concert for my family. 

I first visited Nashville when I was 16-years-old, and I believe that trip changed the course of my life. It was just the beginning of how I found my passion and calling, and where I really belong. 

I always wanted to attend FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) after Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen filmed one of their videos there. In another life, I would totally want to be a fashion designer. 

I've always loved stories. More than just reading books or even writing my own, I would listen to my grandma as she'd tell me all about my mom, aunt and uncle growing up as we went through family photo albums or she'd read me stories out of magazines, like "Reminisce" with memories of older times.  Storytelling was always around me, and I think that's the main reason that I wanted to tell my own and others as I got older. 

I finally held my first baby when my cousin and her son visited last month! 

I don't think high school is the best four years of your life. College was definitely my favorite experience ever! 

I hope to have my own column in a magazine someday! (and hopefully about music)

At one time, I was in LA and saw the Jonas Brothers leaving for the Grammy Awards. I waved to Nick Jonas and he gave me the peace sign and asked how we were doing. I literally had no words and said nothing. It wasn't until a few years later (after buying a VIP package) that I was able to meet him officially and get a picture with him. Talk about missed opportunity, folks! And sometimes the thing that comes after isn't always for the better. 

I dream of a land where it is always fall and there are lots of coffee shops and bookstores. Basically I want my life to be an episode of Gilmore Girls. 

Right now, the wallpaper on my phone is of Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift making shocked faces right before they went onstage at Staples Center. 

I always wanted a Border Collie and would name him Luke. But, now I have a lab named Rory. Funny how life works, isn't it?

I have a very hard time being social and going out. I don't know...That's just how I am. It isn't that I don't like people or don't have friends. But, yeah...

When I'm bored, I watch YouTube videos from my some of my faves, like Nikki Philippi, MollyAnne14 and others. 

A hobby of mine is writing fiction stories. I rarely finish one completely, and I also never really let anyone else read them. I think I've only let one of my good friends, Marisel, give them a peek. She says I'm her favorite author. Ha! 

I saw Lisa Kudrow sing "Smelly Cat" as Phoebe Buffay with Taylor Swift and so my life is almost complete. 

When I was in first grade, I chipped my front tooth! My dad and I were playing tag in the grocery store and I tripped over his foot. Oops!

I absolutely love hiking! I wish I had a chance to go more often and visit new places. Walking to the Hollywood Sign was such a wonderful experience for me and spending time with my dad. 

I'm kind of obsessed with Hallmark movies. 

Because I'm an only child, I absolutely adore my friends and love having big family get togethers. It makes my heart very happy. 

Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell sang "Happy Birthday" to me and Orlando Bloom rolled down his window and shouted it through the window last year when I turned 22 - They were on their way to the Golden Globes. This year, Matt Bomer rolled down his window and instead of saying thank you back, I started to say happy birthday back to him. His beauty was kind of mesmerizing. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Life Lessons with Rory

Dogs can teach us a lot about life, and I’m finding that out with every day that passes. 
We had no intentions of getting one when we got Rory, that’s for sure. Believe me, I’d tried. I kept telling my dad about my dream dog, who I’d already named, “Luke,” and had decided would be a Border Collie. Every time I told him about Luke and how great he would be, he’d just smile and say that was nice, “You can get him when you move out.” I knew it would be YEARS before I ever got a dog of any kind. 
Then, one night, we went to the park with our family and friends for a BBQ. A family walked by with several black and white puppies. They stopped by our table and we had to pet them. We started talking with them a few minutes and holding the puppies, and becoming more attached with one in particular. She had an adorable face and just laid so sweetly and precious in my arms. We kept showing my dad, but he just kept nodding and hanging out with my uncle, as they flew their drones away from us. 
The family still had a couple more puppies to go, so they decided to walk around the park, while we continued playing with our new friend. My dad eventually came over and we started toying with the idea of keeping it, but really we were not expecting to keep it all. Long story short, the family came back around and we told them we’d take her. 
We hadn’t thought much about it at all and all of a sudden, my dad started telling my mom and I that as long as we were the ones taking care of it, we could take her. He just wanted no part of it. I suddenly wash’t so sure that it was a good idea. I had wanted a dog forever, but I started thinking about all of the work it was going to entail and all of the extra money it was going to cost. At the time, I had a boyfriend and had just applied for my first big girl job and wasn’t home much, so I started wondering if I was going to be home much to take care of her. But, we had already said ‘yes’ that we’d give her a try. 
That night, after we packed up our evening at the park, we now had a dog and absolutely nothing else. We needed a bed for her, food, etc. Where was she going to sleep? How were our cats going to adjust to this new addition? We hadn’t thought about any of that. But, we now had a dog and it was time to figure it out. My aunt and uncle had a cage that they brought over and we picked up a food and water dish for the new doggy, that I had named Rory, after Rory Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls.” Do you see a theme here? 
But, I digress. In the weeks to follow, Rory was a lot more work than I had ever imagined. I am not (or WAS not) a morning person, but was suddenly having to get up much earlier than I would have liked, at around 6:30 or 7 a.m. to take her out to go to the bathroom, which was about three hours before I’d have class. She was into everything, so we’d have to watch her, and I was just a little irritated. 
Lesson #1- Don’t give up when something is hard, especially in relationships.
There were many times in the beginning when we just weren’t sure that it was going to work out after all. It was a lot of work, it was frustrating and we almost called the guy that gave her to us a couple times, to say that we didn’t want her anymore. And then one day, I’d had a long day or was just tired and decided to play with her for a little bit. That Sunday before (the day we’d gotten Rory) at church, our sermon had been on covenant relationships and being in a relationship and committed to that person, regardless of what hardships come up or the faults that each other might have. From the beginning, I’d had the mindset of getting rid of her. I didn’t see it as a “for the long haul” sort of deal. I thought about just getting through that week and that would be good enough to say I’d had a dog. So, that day in my backyard as we were playing and chasing each other around, I realized how much fun I was having, and I thought if we’d gotten rid of her or were to get rid of her, how much I would miss out on getting to see her grow up or have sweet moments like that one. I heard God whisper to my heart that we needed to keep her. I needed to either be all in or out, because I couldn’t keep living with that lukewarm sense of relationship, which also reflected in many areas of my life with the people who are in my life, as well as God. I needed to learn about commitment. Not every moment is going to be good, but you have to learn which relationships are worth going through those storms for. 
Lesson #2- Learn when to let go.
Rory and I were playing tug with one of her rope toys in the backyard again, and she just simply would not let go. I kept trying to get her to give it to me, but she wouldn’t. I started thinking about how sometimes we’re like that with God. He wants us to give the rope over to Him, but we keep trying to get it back, because we think we can do it much better on our own. But, the whole time, He’s saying ‘Give it to me. Drop the rope at my feet and I will give you rest.’ If we would just give it to Him, we wouldn’t have to play a game of tug-o-war. It’s easier to just let it go, instead of holding onto something that is a lost cause. I also started thinking about how it can kind of compare to not asking for help. Our friends ask us if they can carry our load from time to time, but still we just keep holding on. Instead, we should surrender the "ball" and our need to control. It's okay to get help and to not have our hands on that specific thing 24/7. 
Lesson #3- Childlike faith and wonder
Just like a child, Rory’s puppy-like way of doing things means that there is never a dull moment in life. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s worth it, when she’s being sort of a poop and you can’t get her to listen or do what you want. My dad immediately says no. He says kids are worth it, but makes a face when it comes to our little pup. That might be true. But, oh, I have so loved watching her try to eat bubbles when we blow them into the air or the ornery face she gets when she’s done something she knows she shouldn’t have. Or when she hears a noise and gets scared and runs behind me or my mom for safety, because we’re familiar and she knows she’ll be okay with one of us. She reminds me to have this simple way of thinking or rather to not overthink, but to simply do. As we get older and life beats us up more, we tend to make our situations more complicated than they need to be. She doesn’t worry about anything, she just simply is and lets things happen around her. Yes, her life is very different than a human, but the idea is still there to be excited about the little things and take life as it comes. 
Lesson #4- Sometimes it feels like you’re chasing flies, but wait for the butterflies to come, that’s even better. 
The flies are bad around our house this time of year and Rory loves to chase them, ‘round and ‘round, as she goes in circles trying to catch them, but never succeeds. Sometimes life is just like that - we chase the same problems, or even dreams, over and over again, when it just isn’t worth it. And even though the butterflies don’t come around often and she doesn’t catch those, she almost seems mesmerized by their beauty. That’s how we should be. Don’t chase the flies that are constantly going to be around, wait for the butterflies in those rare opportunities when they fly around. 
Lesson #5 -Just because something is there, doesn't mean you have to grab it or take it every time. But, sometimes you have to go for it, just to see what becomes of it. 
To add onto that last point, whenever Rory sees a reflection or a glimpse of a shine on the wall from my cell phone or my mom's watch, Rory gets excited and keeps staring, hoping (and determined) that she will see it again. Just because something is there, doesn't mean we necessarily have to go for it. That opportunity might look like the most exciting thing in the world, but it doesn't mean that it's going to lead us down the path that we're hoping for. At the same time, sometimes you never know until you try. So, you go for it and if it goes away rather quickly, then it just wasn't meant to be. 
I’m sure there are many other things I’ve learned by having a dog, but those are the main ideas. I guess I’ve also learned that I’m not ready for children just yet, because even just having a dog is a whole lot more responsibility than I want on my own, because I don’t always have the time and attention to give. In difficult moments (especially with her acting crazy tonight), you can’t just hand them off to someone else when it’s too much. So, this is all very good practice. But, I will say that it has opened up my eyes and my world in a lot of ways. I believe that everyone has a purpose and a reason for being in our lives, and I don’t think our meeting with Rory was any accident. I believe that God put her in our lives as part of His bigger plan somehow. I went through some of the most challenging months of my life right after we got her, and somehow having a companion like her made it easier. She took my mind off the pain and stress. And no matter how irritated with her I can get at times, I still can’t help but smile or laugh when she’s driving me crazy or running around the house like a weirdo. 
That’s all for now, 

Nothing Like Starting Over

I've always been the kind of girl who knew what she wanted. I wasn't persuaded easily once I'd made up my mind about something and if I didn't want to do it, I would put my foot down. From an early age, I wanted to be a singer, just like LeAnn Rimes. Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember and continues to be my heart's desire to this day. Growing up, I was always dreaming of being on stage, singing for thousands of people. I sang just about every chance I could - in the car along with the radio, on a roller coaster ("Home on the Range" was a classic), putting on concerts for my family and friends, as well as entering the school talent shows. I felt like I belonged on a stage. Music was the best way that I could say what I needed to, because I was very quiet/shy. Somehow, it was just easier for me to get up there and do my thing, because I couldn't see the faces in the audience and didn't have to respond back. I simply got up there and sang what needed to be said, and I loved every second of it.

Around the age of 10, I was attending our church school (as I'd done since kindergarten), as well as going to church on Wednesday nights. Well, it ended up being the same message during chapel during the day as it was that night. I wasn't getting as much out of it the second time around, so my mom ended up talking to the drama director about getting me involved with their program. Another friend and I decided to start going, and I instantly fell in love. You also have to remember that Hilary Duff was HUGE around this time; she was one of my biggest inspirations and someone I admired, so I thought it was exciting that just for a couple hours, I could feel like Hilary Duff in the acting realm. Acting just somehow felt so natural to me, which is strange. Or maybe it's just that it was easier or more comfortable to pretend to be someone else. Someone who knew exactly what to say all the time and had a response to every conversation she was involved in. It was a chance for me to shine and be outspoken, but as someone else. I knew what to say ahead of time, I knew exactly what to do, since everything was scripted. Life was always so unpredictable and I never seemed to know what to say. I was involved in many skits and activities with that for a few years, and also had several lead roles in school plays in elementary and high school, such as Beth in Little Women (which I had never wanted anything more than to play in my 17 years of living). Being on stage gave me such a rush and helped me create closer relationships with the other stage and crew working on the plays. Those are some of my most favorite memories of high school..Period.

I still continued singing; joining the worship team in jr. hi, joining choir and advanced choirs in high school, as well as the worship team. During that time, I also wanted to start getting involved in church more and decided to join the Christmas choir every year. Over the course of my first year doing it, we became like a family. And I guess being an only child, I always love those group activities; sharing in an experience bigger than yourself for God's glory and all of the obstacles you overcome along the way. But, it also gave me a chance to use my talents and gifts that God had given to me. As I grew closer to those members from the choir, I started thinking about joining the worship team. But, being shy and quiet, I was hesitant, because I just felt awkward and new situations terrified me. After doing a lot of thinking, some praying and have a few nudges from other people around the church, I decided to go for it. That was really one of the greatest experiences I had for venturing out on my own. I learned so much about what it meant for the show to go on, even in the midst of craziness or if something went wrong. But, more than that, I truly learned what it meant to put God first in all I do, and I fell in love with music even more. Everyone's heart was so in tune with God, and being around them made me want that closer relationship with God. Ultimately, being so involved with the worship team and meeting others, encouraged me to get involved with young adults, which took place during my first year of college. Through that, I was able to meet some of the best girls I've ever known. They inspired me in my walk with God and being bold to go after the dreams I had. I could be my absolute self with them and they held me accountable in my actions, which was something I needed. It was during that time that I really started getting to know God, as well as myself. I found true joy and started growing in my confidence. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, and that was something I had longed for forever. I felt at peace. I could walk into a room and not feel anxious about what was going to happen next or all of the things on my to do list. Getting involved at church completely changed everything for me. It gave me a new direction, a clearer vision for my life and the way I wanted to live.

Everyone at school thought I would end up on American Idol or would end up in Nashville with the singing thing, but I don't think my family was on board with that. I tried out for American Idol online a couple times, but it never worked out. Until high school ended, I continued living with my crazy daydreams. And then college came and I realized, it was time to start getting serious about a career. Everything else was nothing but a pipe dream, and it was time to move on. I would still be able to sing at church, and that would be fun and would be serving God. After about a year or two of being on the worship team at church, I started feeling comfortable. Only a little too comfortable. It felt like it was time to move on to something that would give me a bit more of a leadership role. The youth had announced that they were wanting to get a few young adults to help out in their department, as well as mixing the two groups together for the worship team. It would give the young adults a chance to mentor the younger ones, and I was really excited about that. I made the cut after auditions and things were off to a wonderful start. Everyone seemed pumped and ready to go, but that quickly started fading out. People weren't showing up every week and I just felt out of place. I was having a harder time picking up on the parts, and let's just say I was way too sensitive for my own good. I started missing practices and my heart just wasn't in it, at least not the way I wanted it to be, and I eventually decided to pull out. I ultimately came to the conclusion that singing was not for me anymore and it was time to give that up. I was getting ready to graduate from my community college, and I was in a time of transition. I was confused about what to do next and kept thinking I would get involved in another area, and while I tried a few other volunteer positions, I never committed to any certain group. I've tried a couple young adult groups, but I feel like I've still always come up with excuses as to why I can't keep up with it, but now, I feel my heart longing for that relationship and community with fellow believers again. I also feel God pulling me back to singing again...My first love. I'm not sure where that will take me, but it's something I'm really looking forward to doing again, because I've missed it more than I ever realized.

Writing is something I've always been good at, and was something else that I felt like just came naturally. But, I never really saw it as more than a way to get out what I wanted to say, without the pressure of an audience or made my school life easier. It was always just something I did for me, to remember days that were shared with my grandparents, weird dreams I had or what happened at school, whether it was in a cute diary or simply on binder paper. English was always my favorite and best subject in school, but I was always writing, even outside of the classroom. I would write stories with fictional characters with goals and dreams bigger than themselves. One of my deepest goals or aspirations was to be published author, but I guess I just never saw it as a career for making an actual living. I've just started admitting to myself recently that one of my deepest dreams, one that I've rarely ever talked about is to write a book. And as I would read, whether a children's book back in the day or one of my more recent reads, I'd think 'how cool would it be to have my name on a book with my words and stories inside the pages?'

However, God often has other plans for our lives that what we imagined, but it is always for the best.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

So, none of the crazy daydreams came to fruition. I've never seen my name on a poster outside of a movie theater and I've never sold-out stadiums...At least not yet. And that's okay. 

I've realized that for a long time, I've wrapped my identity in what I do -- singing, acting, writing and all of the accomplishments that have come with those. Finding myself away from all of that is a bit tricky, and this thought occurred to me the other day, 'when what I do is becoming more important than who I am, it's time to reevaluate a few things in my life.' So, really...That's where I'm at. Sometimes I tend to get tunnel vision and forget why I'm doing what I'm doing.

I just graduated college with my bachelors degree in communications; emphasis in journalism and a minor in children's literature, as my dream has shifted to being a music reporter in Nashville. Whatever I end up doing, that's where I belong. Journalism was always my backup plan if I was never discovered while walking down the streets in LA and by at least seventh grade, I knew it was going to be my major. Like I said, God often has different plans for your life, and sometimes you take different paths than you initially imagined. Right now, I'm entering yet another new phase in my life. The world is wide open to me at this point and I'm being faced with real life decisions that I've never thought much about before - jobs, saving up to buy a car, someday moving out, etc. It's a brand new world that I'm looking at, and it's terrifying, but it's exciting, because I'm taking those first real, yet final steps to get where I'm meant to be. Right now I'm working in the public affairs office at my alma mater, but as of now, it's just temporary. I'm also writing for several publications in town, including two of our magazines and a business journal. I'm definitely making progress in the communication field, but I'm still a long way from where I want to be. But, you have to start somewhere right? And right now, it's about cutting myself some slack. Putting pressure on yourself might help to some degree, but it can also tend to stress you out for no reason. It's about finding a balance.

I feel like at this point in my life, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. During my teen years, I questioned that a lot and felt like I was missing out on where I should've been. But, I didn't. If anything, I gained from those experiences. Now, I get to be whoever I want to be. Who God has called me to be. Away from the things I do and away from my passions, my likes and dislikes, but rather who I am as His child. I want to keep working toward the goal of journalism, but like I said before, God can take you to some pretty unexpected places and sometimes in the craziest, most unimaginable ways. So, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and praying for God's ultimate plan.

Until then, I'm just enjoying the journey...

Shelby :)

What Does It Mean To Be Beautifully Outspoken?

Be "beautifully outspoken." 

That's what I want you to be. That's what I want to be. And I think that's what God has called all of us to be. 

But, now what exactly does that mean?

Well, it all goes back to a day in 2012. I was at a Bible study with my young adults group from church on a Friday night, and we were getting ready to call it a night. We stood in a circle, going around the room and saying any prayer requests or needs we might have. My great uncle (my mom's uncle) had just passed away earlier in the week, and we were going to his funeral the next day. I wasn't extremely close with him, because they lived about two hours away from us, and we rarely saw them, except for special occasions, but he was one of the greatest men I'd ever had the pleasure of coming in contact with and he was family. Funerals are not a fun or easy thing by any means, and I asked for prayer for the rest of the family. As our leader, Chris, was lifting my prayer request up, he mentioned the phrase beautifully outspoken and a verse in 1 Peter. The prayer concluded a few minutes later, and I walked over to the table of snacks to talk with my friend, Febe. She brought up the prayer and agreed that I was beautifully outspoken. Hmm...beautifully outspoken. That phrase kept running through my mind and wouldn't go away. I had forgotten the verse reference and messaged Chris to find out what it was. He told me, and I looked it up immediately. 

"Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are and always with the utmost courtesy."
*1 Peter 3:14*

Wow, I thought. What a powerful statement. That has been with me since that night, and I decided that I was going to make that my life's mission statement.

To me, beautifully outspoken is about being who God called you to be and speaking up even when it's difficult. It's about those convictions and callings that He places on each of our hearts; not just letting them pass by, but doing and saying something about it. It means going against the grain and not just agreeing with everyone else. It's about speaking up for the way you live your life, but also respecting those who don't share your views, opinions and beliefs. It's about grace. To yourself and to others, because grace is what God constantly shows us every single day.

Over the past few years, this is something that I've been working on. Not only in my life, but as well as incorporating it into the kind of work that I want to do and the kind of legacy I want to leave behind. I've started countless blogs by the same title, "Beautifully Outspoken," only to lose inspiration or that spiritual drive to keep me going. My hope and prayer is that someday I will be able to turn this into a non-profit organization that will help young girls/20-somethings with their calling and finding their voice. It's hard to be a girl this day in age; knowing when to speak up and when to let things go. There are so many things that I didn't even deal with growing up (which was just a few years back), like technology and cyberbullying. I would want this to be a space where girls can feel safe and confident in who they are and the people they are surrounded by. I would want it to be a space where they can get their creative juices flowing, inspire one another, dream together, collaborate with one another and so on. I'm generally a quiet person, so sometimes speaking up or being bold enough to say something can be a bit challenging, or at least it was in the past. But, I've come a long way from where I used to be. I realize it's a journey that never quits and it's time to start sharing what I've learned along the way with others when tough situations come up.

So, welcome to my little corner of the world. Come along for the ride - stay awhile, won't you?

Shelby :)