Chapter 10: The People that Drive Me Places

I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me. They, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could

Veronica Roth, Allegiant


Never have I ever seen my friends more camera-shy than when I asked them for their help on this project. But because I love them all so dearly (I also didn’t feel like chasing them around with a camera), I was resigned to being a total creep and stalking them on Facebook on a quest for the perfect photos to use.

Allie

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“Beautiful, to me, means anything that is extraordinary and breathtaking. ‘Beautiful’ is not just used to describe a thing; it can also be used to describe a great concept or an idea. Beautiful can be a sparkly dress, the stars in the sky, or an amazing idea for work, like the next big innovation or product or invention. ‘Beautiful’ is not just another word for ‘pretty’ because pretty is not as great as beautiful. Beautiful is way greater, and much greater than that. Beautiful is marriage. Beautiful is the sunset.”

Allie and I have been best friends since our middle school days at St. Paul the Apostle School in Richardson. We even ended up attending the same high school, too! She’s currently at the University of Texas at Arlington finishing up her degree in Exercise Science.

What makes Allie beautiful:

  1. She’s a strong woman of faith who always trusts God first above everyone and everything else
  2. She’s my person
  3. She’s one of the most loving, caring and accepting people I’ve ever met
  4. She’s an avid runner and a fellow health nut
  5. She loves all of the animals
  6. She can totally pass Anatomy & Physiology II with nothing but style and grace (good luck on all of your finals, girl!)

Yuting

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“Something meaningful is beautiful, and something that can catch my attention with color, shape and aesthetics.”

Of course, Yuting somehow made her way into another one of my posts…

I first met Yuting about a year ago in Anatomy & Physiology I. We also took the second half of Anatomy & Physiology together over the summer. As there’s never a dull moment to be had in such a class, Yuting and I – along with another one of our classmates (you know who you are) – often found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time camping out in the library, learning the names of literally every bone, muscle and organ system in the human body.

What makes Yuting beautiful:

  1. She’s an amazing musician
  2. She can make you laugh without even trying to be funny
  3. She’s got a fabulous sense of style
  4. She works hard, but she also knows how to let loose and have some fun
  5. She never fails to run into at least 7 people she knows, no matter where we go
  6. Did I mention that she’s an amazing musician?

Alex

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“Beauty is the balance of harmony with nature. Anyone or anything can be considered beautiful because beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder. Beauty provides us with the experience of satisfaction and pleasure, although it varies, and comes in many shapes and forms. It shows the vast perceptions of the world.”

I’ve also known Alex since high school, although we actually didn’t become close friends until the beginning of our senior year. He’s currently teaching tennis and is working on either becoming a commercial pilot, or going to work in air traffic control.

What makes Alex beautiful:

  1. He can fly a plane
  2. I repeat, the dude flies. planes.
  3. He’s a really good tennis player
  4. He’s one of the most kindhearted men I know
  5. He actually knows what kefir is
  6. He’s a fellow Bob’s Burgers fan

(You’re still getting me that “Many Moods of Tina” shirt, right? Okay, cool.)

Ryan

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“Beauty, to me, has to be intricate and fascinating. It has to have that special wow factor. For something to be beautiful, it has to capture my attention in a way that things usually don’t. Science is beautiful. The human body is beautiful. Life is beautiful”

Ryan is also a fan of Anatomy & Physiology, especially the word ‘allantois’, which loosely translates into “little fucker”.

What makes Ryan beautiful:

  1. He’s very smart and has dreams of being an orthopedic surgeon
  2. He has fabulous taste in music
  3. He’s good at basketball
  4. He’s one-third of The A&P Dream Team, the official name of our study group
  5. He is, in fact, Yuting’s twin

Emilio

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“It means I’m the baddest bitch, and I’m very smart and talented. And awesome. And what I find for beautiful is that beauty is to make you look better, so you tell people they beautiful. That makes them smile.”

This just won the entire Internet. Hands down, the single best answer to any question that’s ever been asked. Forget everything else you just read because this is it.

Emilio is one of my coworkers, and we’re always cutting up and having fun back in the deli and bakery department.

What makes Emilio beautiful:

  1. He loves Jesus
  2. He drops the donuts that we just made on the floor … and then proceeds to put them back
  3. He’s caring, and always willing to help out and go the extra mile at work
  4. He’s a certified Pizza Guru
  5. He stays ready to fight with anyone, anywhere, in any way, at any time, especially with She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

(Emilio, I expect you to be on your absolute best behavior while I’m away on leave, okay? Keep it classy, my friend.)

 

 

 

 

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Chapter 9: Who I Am

Being single is like being an artist, not because creating a functional single life is an art form, but because it requires the same close attention to one’s singular needs, as well as the will and focus to fulfill them. Just as the artist arranges her life around her creativity, sacrificing conventional comforts and even social acceptance, sleeping and eating according to her own rhythms, so that her talent thrives above all else, nurtured the way a child might be, so a single person has to think hard to decipher what makes her happiest and most fulfilled

Kate Bolick, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own


In addition to a particular interior design, color or personal artifact, the different spaces in which a person often finds themselves can say a lot about who they are and the way that they show this side of themselves to the world around them.

The Kitchen

I basically live in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter where I am. I can be in my own apartment, at a friend’s house or at my grandparents’ house. The kitchen is where I usually like to set up shop. It’s my home. I love to cook, so I spend a lot of time getting creative in the kitchen and trying out new recipes. I’ve also learned that, if you’re in the process of putting a meal together in the kitchen, and you’re not making a mess, you’re doing it all wrong.

What I wish my kitchen sink looked like:

Kitchen sink and washing up in summer sunlight

What it actually looks like:

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What I typically eat for lunch on any given day. Tomato soup, a banana and coffee!

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I love to ferment a lot of my own vegetables and fruits. This is blackberry soda and strawberry soda that I had going a couple of weeks ago.

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Because everyone needs a photo of the fat globules in a pot of chicken soup cooking on the stove.

The Living Room

Oddly enough, I actually don’t spend a whole lot of time in my living room. It’s generally my work space for those cold, rainy days that I don’t feel like going outside, but unless I’m done for the day (or, Netflix just added a brand new season of Criminal Minds or Bob’s Burgers), I’m either in my kitchen, or not in my apartment at all, preferring to work and study at either Jupiter House or the library.

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My couch, where not-a-damn-thing gets done.

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My babies.

The Bedroom

If I had one safe place to call my own, a place that belongs to no one else but me, of course, it’d be my bedroom. This is usually the space that I gravitate toward if I want to work out, practice yoga, meditate or take a nap. It’s my space to simply just be for awhile.

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I like to call this the Travel Corner.

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Just look at all of the pretty receipts and miscellaneous scraps of paper that I don’t want to deal with.

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My work space.

 

 

 

Chapter 8: The Law of Attraction

I was always attracted not by some quantifiable, external beauty, but by something deep down, something absolute. Just as some people have a secret love for rainstorms, earthquakes or blackouts, I liked that certain undefinable something directed my way by members of the opposite sex. For want of a better word, call it magnetism. Like it or not, it’s a kind of power that snares people and reels them in

Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun


What is it that makes a person attractive? Is it the way that they look? The way that they dress? The way that they act? Actually, attraction can incorporate all of these factors simultaneously.

An Attractive Woman

Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley Attractive

I freely admit that I have the biggest girl-crush on Shailene Woodley. I’m almost sure she’s my spirit animal. What I find attractive about Shailene Woodley is both her sense of style, and her personal philosophies on health and fitness. Honestly, she’s just straight-up rad.

I first became acquainted with Shailene Woodley back in 2007 when she starred in the television show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, on ABC Family. Since then, I’ve seen almost all of her movies, including The Descendants, The Spectacular Now, Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. I’ve also seen many of the interviews she’s done, and there was one, in particular, that caught my eye. It was an interview she did for Mother Nature News, in which she divulged in her experiences with eating clay (for its detoxifying properties), foraging for her food, bottling her own natural spring water and giving away her house in hopes of living a simpler, more down-to-earth lifestyle. During the interview, she shared her beauty routines and advice, often preferring to remain au naturale in terms of makeup and other cosmetics:

“I realized that, growing up and looking at magazines, I was comparing myself to images like that, and most of it isn’t real. I don’t really wear makeup that much anyway, so part of it is just a selfish, lazy thing. I want to be me.”

I want to be you, too, Shailene.

An Attractive Man

Jordan Feliz

Jordan Feliz Attractive

I’m a fan of guys with long hair. And guys with beards. Bonus points go to the guys who have both.

Jordan Feliz is one of my favorite Christian musicians who plays primarily folk rock and soul. Yes, his long, luscious locks, as well as the single most on-point anchor-style beard that ever existed, do make him an attractive man, but more importantly, I think his faith in God is attractive, too. In an interview he did for Rocking God’s House, he describes his journey of faith in being elevated to new heights in the music industry:

“It’s really interesting because, sometimes, you want to know, and it’s really hard. There’s so much wondering in your journey as a human being. You’re like, ‘Am I just saying this to myself? Am I the one speaking this into my life, or is this God?’ Our journey was just a testament to God’s abundance in our lives. It was really amazing to see Him and His hand over us in our journey.”

I know the journey of which he speaks all too well. I understand what it’s like to feel lost in your own journey at times. Unfortunately, there’s no guidebook giving you all of the answers to getting your health back in order or finishing up your degree. You’re constantly questioning if where you’re currently at is where you’re supposed to be, the place where God meant for you to be. What I’ve learned though is that, while being an active participant i your own journey is important, you ultimately have to rely on God’s guiding hand and remain faithful to His plan for your life, whatever that means and however long that takes.

An Attractive Gender Non-Conforming Individual

Bill Kaulitz

Bill Kaulitz Attractive

Bill Kaulitz has always been a very androgynous and free-spirited person, even when he was a kid first starting out his singing career in Germany. I think he and his brother are both physically attractive, and attractive because of their passion and love for music, fashion and creativity. Bill Kaulitz knows who he is, and he’s comfortable with and accepting of who he is, no matter what anyone else says about him.

 

Chapter 7: What She Wears

Reinvent new combinations of what you already own. Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step

Karl Lagerfeld


I agree that there’s some truth to the old saying, “Clothes make the man.” Or, should it be changed to “The man makes the clothes”? I prefer to go with the latter, as it is often the person themselves that, depending on a specific role, attributes a certain identity to a particular outfit or article of clothing. What one person may view as the perfect outfit for church service, another person might see that same outfit as one fit for a more professional setting. A person’s sense of style and the way that they dress can say a lot about their personal identity and the different roles they play in everyday life.

Casual & Laid-Back

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I’ve always been a very relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of person, and so has my personal sense of style. I’m my most comfortable when I can just throw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. This top is what I’d consider to be on the classier casual side of things. I’d usually wear something like this when I’m at home visiting family, or when I’m out and about on the town with some friends.

Health Nut

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I also see myself as a foodie and a health nut. Traveling along the same lines as the casual and laid-back style, this is an outfit I’d wear if I wanted to go out for a run, or if I wanted to squeeze in some strength-training at the gym.

Christian

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Of all the dresses that I own, this one is probably my favorite. I’ve worn it everywhere: to church, on a date, you name it! What I really like about it is the fact that I can dress this outfit up with some heels, or keep things more low-key with a pair of gladiator sandals.

Walmart Employee

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This one’s for you, Melodee.

Welcome to Walmart, where the schedule’s made up, and the breaks don’t matter.

Professional

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This is another one of my favorite dresses, mostly because of the black and beige color combination. All you need is the black heels, and you’ve basically won all of corporate America.

Chapter 6: Hair-Raising Adventures

Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn’t go running with Curt today because you don’t want to sweat out this straightness. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


In my quest for hairstyles that I thought were sexy, powerful, intelligent, awkward, rebellious and nurturing, I also wanted to include both male and female hairstyles that fit each description.

Sexy Hair

Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart Sexy Hair

Kristen Stewart

She has the same facial expression in literally every one of her movies, but she never fails to have some of the most kick-ass hairstyles I’ve ever seen. I have to say that her sexiest hairstyle was the one she had when she played Joan Jett in the film, The Runaways (Dakota Fanning was a pretty close second).

Now, if we can just work on that face of hers…

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp Sexy Hair

Well, Johnny Depp’s hair, circa 1985. His hair has always had – and always will have – that I’m-sexy-and-I-know-it vibe going on.

Powerful Hair

The interesting thing about power is that it can be both objective and subjective, often at the same time. Someone or something has power because of their position and place in the world, and the amount of power that we attribute to it. When considering what makes for a powerful hairstyle, I like to think of both the influence a person has within their specific field, and the impact they ultimately make on the world around them.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy Powerful Hair

She was such a regal woman, wasn’t she? Jackie Kennedy was undoubtedly one of the classiest women in politics during the 1960’s. Part educated businesswoman, part devoted soccer mom, this hairstyle has a seemingly unreachable aura of sophistication, grace and royalty.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama Powerful Hair

In my honest opinion, while Barack Obama is the most powerful individual in the United States, I wouldn’t say that he’s the most influential, per se. We give him all of the power simply because he’s the President of the United States, but not as a result of any of his personal beliefs or values. For example, the late social and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi (who had absolutely no hair at all), had more influence in the world because of his ground-breaking and awe-inspiring concepts and ideas, although he had less power, in general.

Intelligent Hair

Emma Watson

Emma Watson Intelligent Hair

Yes, she will forever and always be Hermione Granger in the hearts of millions of people from my generation. However, her intelligence shouldn’t be tied to any character she’s played in the past or will play in the future. Not to compare apples to oranges, but Emma Watson is a lot like Jackie Kennedy in her class and sophistication. She’s beauty and brains.

A few days ago, one of my friends shared an article on Facebook covering the topic of femininity and the proverbial desire to live up to the so-called “Proverbs 31 woman” standard. It reminded me of a quote from Emma Watson during an interview she did with Elle magazine in regards to this shifting feminine ideal:

“If you want to run for Prime Minister, you can. If you don’t, that’s wonderful, too. Shave your armpits, don’t shave them, wear flats one day, heels the next. These things are so irrelevant and surface to what it is all really about, and I wish people wouldn’t get caught up in that. We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop.”

Well said, Emma girl. Well said.

Finally, someone who gets it, someone who isn’t afraid to speak up and speak out against the prevailing “traditional” gender roles and expectations we have even today in our society.

Case in point, intelligence is beauty, and beauty is intelligence.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey Intelligent Hair

Riddle me this: why is it that every time I tried to come up with an example of an intelligent hairstyle for men, I always gravitated toward comedians? Then again, I guess one does have to have a brain in their head to be that funny, especially Jim Carrey. I think that Jim Carrey is different from a lot of today’s comedians in that he’s brilliantly funny and witty. He knows how to crack a joke, make you laugh and make you reconsider all of your life choices all at the same time.

I have to admit, I actually had a hard time choosing between Jim Carrey and Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid on my favorite television show, Criminal Minds. It’s probably because they both have that scholarly, yet informal look about them.

Awkward Hair

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you to The 80’s, where every Members Only jacket came with a complementary bottle of Aquanet.

Awkward Hair 1

Looks like somebody got rickrolled at the hair salon.

Awkward Hair 2

I just … I can’t.

Rebellious Hair

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato Rebellious Hair

I love Demi Lovato. She’s probably the only former Disney starlet whose music I actually enjoy, and who hasn’t gone completely off the deep end (*cough* Miley Cyrus *cough*). What I like about Demi Lovato is the fact that she’s not afraid to speak her mind and be herself. She’s not afraid to own up to her struggles and mistakes, and admit that she is, in fact, an imperfect human being and not some mythical, immortal entity.

Bill & Tom Kaulitz

Bill Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 1

Bill Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 2

Tom Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 1

Tom Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 2

Seeing as the Kaulitz brothers are twins, and they’ve had some pretty wild hairstyles over the years, I thought I’d include both of them here. If you’re not the hippest person in the room, and you don’t know who these two are, they are two of the four members that make up the alternative rock band, Tokio Hotel, formed in Magdeburg, Germany, in 2001.

A fan since 2008, I’ve been a witness to Bill’s and Tom’s hair transformations. At one point, I’m pretty sure Bill got a hold of that bottle of Aquanet I mentioned earlier. From black, spiked hair and long, blond dreadlocks, to the sleeker platinum coif and dark, classier dreads that they’ve got going on today, the Kaulitz brothers will always be the targets of hair envy.

I don’t care what anyone says. I want my future dreadlocks to look exactly like Tom’s.

Nurturing Hair

Ina Garten

Ina Garten Nurturing Hair

World-renowned cookbook author, Ina Garten – also known as the Barefoot Contessa – is the very definition of nurturing. For example, one of her cookbooks, Cooking for Jeffrey, details her many adventures in the kitchen while in search for the perfect recipes for her husband, and the rest of her family and friends. She’s basically everybody’s mother.

Sean Astin

Sean Astin Nurturing Hair

I’m not sure if it’s his role as Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or the baby face. I mean, just look at him. I think Sean Astin’s hair and lumberjack beard give him a more relaxed, down-to-Earth appearance.

 

 

Chapter 5: Oh, the Places You’ll Go

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes

Marcel Proust


A Comfortable and Welcoming Place

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Oh, Recycled Books… you slay me. Well-played.

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The first time I ever visited the Square was during the start of my freshman year at UNT. A few of my friends and I had met down in the lobby of our dorm room to walk over to Jupiter House to meet with our Bible study group one night. The Square is, without a doubt, my favorite hangout spot in Denton. Whether I’m meeting someone for coffee or working on homework at Jupiter House, or simply browsing around Recycled Books, I find the Square to be a very informal, comfortable and welcoming place to be.

A Powerful Place

Cross Timbers Community Church

I haven’t been to church in almost three years. As a Christian, I do feel a little guilty for admitting that, but after moving to Denton, I never really got plugged back into any church, let alone another Catholic church. In fact, at the time, I didn’t think I even wanted to exclusively attend Catholic church anymore, but that’s a different story for a different day. Anyway, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I started attending Cross Timbers Community Church, a nondenominational place of worship that welcomes people from all walks of life. I don’t know why I never thought of going here before, since it’s just within walking distance from where I live. Nonetheless, I’ve only attended one service, and I love it already. It’s not at all structured like a church in the traditional sense. I mean, I showed up in a dress and sandals, and I was clearly overdressed for the occasion. There’s no rigidity or formality. There’s just us, a group of imperfect people gathered together in song and praise, and that’s it.

An Intimidating Place

Louvre Pyramid

The most intimidating place that I’ve ever been to would have to be the Louvre Museum in Paris, France (as mentioned in a previous post). I kid you not, I just about lost my mind at the size of some of the paintings I saw. As if the actual piece itself wasn’t already glorious enough…

Although it was rather intimidating at first, it was also the perfect source of inspiration for my own artwork. Later that day, I immediately broke out my drawing pad to sketch out various parts of the one-bedroom apartment we were staying in. It’s been five years since that life-changing European adventure, and a copy of that very same drawing now hangs in a frame in my grandparents’ kitchen.

Chapter 4: Personal Artifacts

She never had much in this life, but with the simplest things, she made her corner of the world as beautiful as any king’s palace. We may lack riches, but the greatest fortune is what lies in our hearts

Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas


While the different rooms in a person’s home can say a lot about who they are, the personal artifacts found within those rooms can also be useful nonverbal descriptors of that person. For example, the artifacts may make that person feel comfortable in their own environment, powerful or connected to the world around them.

A Source of Comfort

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On my desk in my room sits a small flip book containing Bible verses for every day of the year. At times, I forget it’s even there, since it’s tucked so inconspicuously in the corner behind the door, but I try to read at least one verse every day. Sometimes, life can get to be a little too much for me to handle, especially now, as I’m currently in the throes of preparing for major surgery in May, finishing up group projects and studying for final exams (all while trying to keep at least one ounce of sanity). Reading the verses in this flip book always serves as the perfect reminder to slow down and remember what really matters.

A Source of Power

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I’ve had Crohn’s disease since I was 10 years old, so needless to say, I’ve run the gamut when it comes to pharmaceuticals and conventional medicine. Without going into too much detail, I stopped taking my medication cold turkey (probably not the wisest decision, but whatever) and decided to do something different instead. That was two years ago, and this book has been a lifesaver for me ever since. Not only is it a wonderful source of information about the science behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and further research into inflammatory bowel diseases, but it’s also a cookbook itself. I see this book as a source of power, the power to take my health into my own hands and not let some doctor make the final decisions concerning my body.

A Source of Connection

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Throughout the semester, I love to spend a few weekends here and there volunteering with Keep Denton Beautiful, which describes itself as an organization that aims “to engage our community in creating a clean and beautiful Denton” through garden workdays, litter clean-ups around the city, and hosting the Redbud Festival every year. I really enjoy volunteering with them because I believe in what they’re doing as an organization (check them out!). This was the shirt that the volunteers had to wear at this year’s Redbud Festival. I think being plugged into an organization of any kind is one of the best ways to develop long-lasting friendships, relationships and other connections.