lessons learned from middle schoolers

This summer, I was blessed to work with middle schoolers as a tour leader with school groups heading to Washington D.C.. I was nervous about this age group — Would they like me? Would they make fun of me? Would they turn me into a meme? I was so nervous…. but after my first tour, I knew that this age group had something profoundly wonderful. A perfect mix of childlike innocence and teenage sass.

I would typically drive all day or the previous day and greet the group in the dark of night. We’d drive through the night to arrive before the airport opened. We’d get situated and get to the gate (sometimes, just in the knick of time) and be on our way to the nation’s capital.

After just four short (and very, very long) days with 7 different groups of amazing individuals, I learned hundreds of lessons and shared many laughs, tears, Pinstripes cookies, and sweaty steps throughout D.C..

I learned so many things this summer. In no particular order, here’s some wonderful things I learned from many wonderful students who won my heart.


Seize the opportunity. • Sometimes, you have to roll with the unexpected. Sometimes, the unexpected actually turns out better than you ever would have planned for.

“I’m going to miss you when we all go back home to Wisconsin, but I will always remember this trip because of you.”

Abbie

Your attitude is contagious. • The students would always ask me, “How are you so excited this early in the morning?” and I would reply that there were so many things to be excited about in the day. Later, when I’d be dragging after walking 15,000+ steps, their excitement to see the Lincoln Memorial as the sun set (even on my seventh time this summer) made me forget about my achy legs and tired eyes.

Kindness makes you memorable. • I don’t remember the names of the students who made me want to pull my hair out. I do, however, remember the names of the students whose kindness and love impacted me.

“You were o.k”

unknown student in anonymous note

Monkey see, monkey do. • There was one particular group of parents and adults that left an impact me as someone who aspires to be a mother someday. These parents and adults were from a community where they didn’t necessarily know one another, but on the trip they were close-knit, loving, and inclusive of one another throughout the experience. It was beautiful to then see their sons and daughters doing the same, following the example set by their parents.

Be yourself & love yourself. • I will never forget when a student purchased a pride flag and twirled around with a smile that no one could take away. If a middle school student can happily live their truth in a world that may not be kind about it, I surely can too.

“You are such a girl boss and seeing a confident woman like you is very comforting.”

Nadia

You may be different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. • This was a present theme — unlikely pairs that appeared on my tours, yet made the trip so much better for one another. Don’t judge a book by its cover, because it may turn out to be your absolute favorite.

The world is wide and we are small — we should encourage one another to explore. • I had many students who had their first experience on an airplane on the way to Washington, D.C. with me this summer. I felt privileged to be a part of their journey at such a pivotal moment, hopefully creating a love of travel in them the way I have had the same love ignited in me. It was extraordinary to see the way the students take care of one another, laugh together, and hold each others’ hands while taking off and landing.

Appreciate the people who invest in you. • At the end of each tour, I’d offer many thanks to my students and remind them to thank the MVPs both with us and at home for making the trip possible for them. I believe this stands as a good reminder for us all to understand that others make investments in us and a thank you goes a long way.

A quiet person can be amazing if you allow them space to be. • One of my students comes to mind when discussing this lesson. He was a quiet student, very close with his dad on the trip. I knew I wanted to be his friend and open his shell. It all started with a nickname and kind smiles, and ended with an award at the end of the week and big smiles that melted my heart. He reminded me that while everyone isn’t like me, they still can surprise you with their warmth that happens even without words.

“I will never forget about you. You really touched my heart.”

Emma

Giving is a learned behavior. • As any of my students could tell you by the end of our four days together, my favorite memorial in Washington D.C. is the Vietnam Women’s Memorial – sometimes referred to as the Nurses’ Memorial. Often, young women place hairties at the feet of these women (nicknamed Hope, Faith, and Charity) to honor their sacrifice and women in service. The girls did so nearly instinctually — giving is a learned behavior in their lives, even if it may seem like just a little ponytail. (All things left behind at the Vietnam Memorials are collected and will likely someday be put on display in a Museum.)

“I wish I had more women like you in my life. In just these four days you have showed me what a real woman looks like and how she acts. You made me want to live my life in a more positive way.”

Sophia

Life may not be easy, but respect will get you places. • On one of my tours, I mistakenly thought an adult that accompanied a student was his grandmother. She forgave me for my mistake, she stated that she was the boy’s aunt. She then told me of his rough childhood and home life and the fact that a few years prior she had taken full custody of him to give him a stable and loving home. This student was one of the most thoughtful and respectful boys I had all summer. I will always remember him.

Work really, really hard for what you want. • There was a student on my tour who had worked her tail off for nearly two years to afford the trip of a lifetime to our nation’s capital. She proudly wore a sweatshirt on the trip — a sweatshirt her employer had gifted her just before the trip because they understood that her time and dedication was paying for this trip and wanted to give her a little something extra. She was a terrified flyer and was very ready to get home by the end of the four days… but I have a feeling that it’s a trip she won’t forget. I won’t forget her and her dedication to making sure she got what she wanted.

Don’t stand for something unless you know what it means. • While this summer had amazing highlights, you can also learn lessons from the moments that hurt your heart a little bit. It was hard for me to see young, impressionable minds symbolically standing for something that they don’t even have the capacity to understand fully. It is a reminder for us all to be informed in order to have educated and fully developed opinions.

Your smile can light up a room. • One particular student comes to mind… when he smiled, we all smiled.

“I love how much you show your true self and make us all feel worthy.”

Paige

Sometimes, you just need a hug. • I’m a hugger to begin with — but sometimes, words just can’t even begin to say what a hug can mean. Hug it out.

Memories are worth more than money. • I didn’t make a whole lot of cash this summer. What I did make felt like it disappeared quickly with personal travel and school expenses. However, the memories I made this summer will last a lifetime and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to make these students smile, share important pieces of American history with them, and have a plethora of dance parties and bus karaoke. (Some days, I miss this summer a lot and I watch all of these videos!!!!)

“Bust down.”

Rylan

You make a bigger impact than you realize. • I could recount tons of stories here. Text messages, photo captions, a birthday card, handwritten notes, a postcard… my students showed me love in ways that made me laugh and ways that made me cry. I really never thought about how this job would open a door for me to impact young people and be impacted by them at the same time — but it absolutely did. I could quote their words and speak of the gifts I was given, but it’s better to just say that I have the utmost gratitude for each of my students, their parents and adults, and the teachers that made my summer trips possible.

“You have made a difference.”

Katie

If you ever have the chance, hang out with a middle schooler.

You may just learn a few things along the way.

I know I did, and I am a better woman because of my experiences this summer.

“You weren’t just our tour leader, you are our friend.”

Colson

No words could be enough — but I’m a graduate student now, so it’s back to the homework grind. I just needed to make sure to document these thoughts before the summer fades.

always,

Alex

P.S. If you went to D.C. this summer with me & you’re reading this — I love you, and I hope you loved your trip with me.

hey, little sis • lessons to share with younger women

I was so blessed to be the youngest of three — I have two older brothers. Let me just get that out there: I have no biological sisters. My brothers were never really the ‘rough and tough’ on me because they’re 5 and 7 years older than me… for this, I’m thankful too. I’m as girly-girl, non-tomboy as they get. They did teach me many things… like how to teach yourself to not be ticklish, how to have a thick skin and sense of humor, and that I should marry a man who is tall enough to give me hugs like they can (I mean, they’re 6’3″ and 6’6″… c’mon!) I love them dearly.

While I wasn’t given any sisters at birth, I’ve acquired quite a few along the way. The picture that’s at the top of this blog post is a letter that a “little sister” of mine wrote me during some of my dark days. It includes the 10 favorite things she had learned from me (so far). This letter hangs above my desk, so right now as I write I am inspired by her words. I have a friendship bracelet nearby that a very special 14-year-old gave me because she was a little sister to me. Nearly every month, I get Indian food with my mentorship family and it feels like a family reunion of four real sisters.

From foreign exchange sisters to college best friends, girls who are older and girls who are younger, girls I’ve traveled the world or the country with, girls I rarely talk to but shoot me DMs when they need some love or want to give me some… these are the girls that I’m so thankful to call my sisters.

And if you know me, you know… I believe in girl power so much. I think sisterhood can transcend the gals that truly feel like family and embody the greater network of women working together and championing one another. I believe in friendship and mentorships between women. I’m currently reading “Own Your Everyday” by Jordan Lee Dooley (it comes out on May 14, I got early access!) and Jordan discusses the idea of comparison between women and learning to cheer others on rather than compete with them:

“Her success is not your failure.”

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

I believe that my ‘failures’ can lead to wisdom for someone younger than I. It’s happened to me! I know the women I look up to that I could always lean on to act like bigger sisters have provided me with wisdom, tools, resources, verses, quotes, songs, and advice to propel me through a tough time or encouragement and love to fuel me through the good! My mom, for example, is my biggest cheerleader, advocate, listening ear, constructive criticism provider, and best friend. She leads by example that you can use your experiences to allow younger women to benefit.

So here’s a little letter for the little sisters in your life:

hey, little sis.

There’s so many things I wish I could share with you, but the first is that I hope you always know my heart is open for you… whenever you need me, I will share my words with you and squeeze you so tight.

☆ I am thankful for all that I get to learn from you. This friendship, this sisterhood, goes both ways. I am grateful for the lessons you teach me and ways you remind me of the good.

☆ I wish I could tell you not to worry, but instead I will tell you to have faith always and that fear is a liar. Worry does not add a moment to your life, so do not allow it to hold you down for longer than a moment. Your life WILL work out exactly as it supposed to, even when you believe you can no longer go on. You can, babygirl.

☆ Confidence is sexy. Own it. Own who you are. Thrive in it.

Your purpose begins with being 100 percent you — you showing up every single day in spite of the things you believe disqualify you from trying.

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

☆ Self love will take you further than being the smartest gal in the room. Self love will take you further than being the fittest gal in the room. Self love will take you further than being the prettiest gal in the room. Self love will take you further than being the funniest gal in the room. Self love makes you untouchable by unkind words, unmet expectations, societal pressures, and bad attitudes. Self love is powerful. When you love yourself, you can CELEBRATE the other women in the room because you recognize that you are also worth celebrating. Master the art, sister friend.

☆ My long-lasting piece of advice for college students applies to you as well. “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” Know your limits — challenge them — but never push yourself past them to the point of harming your mental or physical health.

☆ A good outfit = a good day. Baby girl… wear your favorite outfit on a day when you know you will be tested or are afraid of what may unfold. Remember your power! You are fabulous.

Sometimes it takes more guts to say the kind thing than the opposite. Rise above. This will pay back ten-fold. I have been told by women, “You may not be my favorite person, but I respect you so much for how you handled that situation.” I’m okay with people not liking me. Not everyone is meant to hold hands and sing kumbaya. If my kindness allows people to respect me, that means a lot more than if my words are poison.

☆ Falling in love is amazing. Falling out of love hurts like you’ll never feel whole again. Do not be afraid of love. Love will change you… perhaps for the best or perhaps otherwise. This is a part of your journey.

“I owe it to the person I’m going to be with to keep going and keep fighting for love, because at the end of the day that’s the only thing that will get me closer to my person.”

Katy Bellotte, Thick & Thin Podcast, Ep. 8

☆ Take care of your body: nourish it with exercise, nutrients, and sunshine. Your body is a shell for your soul. Make your soul beautiful, sweet sister, and it will shine right through your skin… but also know that YOUR BODY IS BEAUTIFUL. Never let anyone — girls, guys, the media, society — tell you that your body is anything less than a masterpiece. Treasure your body for what it CAN DO, not what it looks like.

Sis, your body is a temple, not a trophy. And only you get to decide what lens you’ll look through. To be truly free of an unhealthy mindset and harmful behaviors, you have to look at fitness and health as a part of your self-care, not a part of your self-worth.

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

☆ Candles, fresh sheets, wine, good music, ice cream, gal pals, dance parties, pizza, a good cry, a sweaty workout…. all of these things can solve a lot of problems.

☆ Real talk — don’t settle for less than you deserve. If a man (yes, a man. no boys allowed) finds it in his heart to treat you like the QUEEN you are, that means he is willing to put in the work. Love is work. Marriage (from what people have told me) is work. You deserve to be loved for each and every tiny piece of your beautiful soul, sis. Your tears will not make him better. Your worth is not defined by his opinions.

Common sense told her that begging someone to stay was often the same as begging someone to love you, and she was wise enough to know that never worked.

Nicholas Sparks, Every Breath

You can be sad that it’s ending without being sad it’s not continuing. Cry it out. Then move forward.

Sometimes, choosing to walk away, even if it means breaking your own heart, is the greatest act of self love you have access to.

Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

☆ Lean on other people. You cannot fight against the world by yourself. Find people that believe in you, inspire you, grow you, support you, challenge you.

Look at your circle. Do you feel you have to change how you look to fit in? Is it a life-giving situation or a constant comparison game, full of drama and one-upping one another? They say you begin to look like the five people you spend the most time with. Who are your top five?”

Jordan Lee Dooley, Own Your Everyday

I looked to amazing women in my life — women that exemplify friendship and sisterhood to share their sentiments. It’s important to know that I am not wise enough as one person to provide you with all that could benefit you. Here’s some of what they shared:

☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Loving yourself is one of the most important things you’ll ever do.

High school and college are each only 4 years of your life. You will move on to bigger and better things, so don’t stress the things you can’t control.

If you are going to do something with a guy, make sure you are comfortable and feel safe.

You are more than the narrative life gave you. You get to decide what defines you, nothing else.

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Growth doesn’t come from comfort zones and it definitely doesn’t come from second guessing yourself.

Don’t dress up for a boy who wouldn’t dress up for you.

I spent so much time worrying about what everyone thought of me. Fuck everyone that thinks I’m not enough me. There’s only one me. There’s only one you, little sis. Don’t change yourself to fit in.

Disconnect and live your life.

Saying no to obligations doesn’t mean you’re missing out. It allows you to focus on what’s really important in your life.

Always be 100% honest with yourself. Can you really afford that thing? Save money for the important things.

Surround yourself with good people. It’s important to surround yourself with good people — people that are supportive and life-giving. Also understand that it’s okay to remove yourself from toxic friendships. Sometimes God puts people in our lives for only a temporary amount of time and that’s okay.

Buy generic brand drugs. They work the same and save you money. Don’t buy generic brand condoms.

Some people won’t like you, no matter how hard you try. Put that effort in to bettering yourself and growing prosperous relationships.

Don’t sleep in! Get up, go eat breakfast outside, go for a bike ride with friends, watch your favorite show… you’ll feel better the rest of the day and probably set up good habits for life.

Take some time to act your age.

Get to know your own body before anyone else’s. Your thoughts, emotions, cycle, hormones, etc. Knowing yourself is so important.

Plans change. This isn’t a bad thing, just a different path. So many things will happen in your lifetime that will change the course of your life in the best way. You will lose friends, and you will gain friends. You will lose opportunities, and you will gain them. So many things in your life are subject to change so don’t expect everything to happen in the fashion you expect it to. You’ll be happier for it.

Wearing makeup is only to make YOU feel good, NOT for anyone else. It’s never required!

Don’t measure your successes based on the girl next to you. We all move at our own pace!

Loyalty is important.

Have courage and be kind. It’s amazing what unfolds. 

So, there ya have it little sister. I can’t say all the words I could hope to share with you. I just hope you know that you are loved and that you have a network of sisters who hope for your life to be even more than you can possibly imagine… and when it seems like you can’t go on, I am here.

I love you.

Always,

Alex

☆☆☆

If you feel so inclined, share this with someone you view as a little sister.

and as always, I’m on instagram @alexfarbie.

Improve your life in 5 easy ways!

ha. ha. ha.

I have to admit, the title of this blog is misleading. There are no five easy ways to improve your life, but if there’s anything I’ve found out in the last year… there are ways to improve your life if you take the steps and work for it. Not everyone is *~LiViNg tHeiR bEsT LiFe~* all the time, my friends. Instead, we can take small steps to improve our lives and become a better version of ourselves. This year, I think I’ve done just that and learned a bit along the way… I wanted to share!

  1. Find (and eliminate) your silent stressors.
  2. Pay your rent.
  3. Find time to devote to physical fitness.
  4. Learn to say ‘no.’
  5. Soak in the good stuff.

Now, like I said, these really aren’t five easy ways…. but I can provide some in-depth insight on each tidbit and provide a little clarification.

I know drink wine isn’t one of the ways, but it’s unofficially #6 on the list.

Find (and eliminate) your silent stressors.

I heard the term “silent stressors” first on SHE podcast with Jordan Lee Dooley (more to come on her… love her so much).

She discusses the idea that there are probably things stressing you out that you simply don’t even realize are stressing you out until you change them. I think the perfect example is how amazing it feels to crawl into fresh bed sheets. Everyone loves clean bedsheets: you don’t realize how icky the other sheets felt until you climb into fresh, wonderful sheets.

For me, it’s things like social media accounts that make me sad or angry. laundry. dishes. hair. clothes. tasks you wanted to accomplish but couldn’t make time, so they stay there waiting. All of these things can silently stress you out… and when they are gone, you feel a little weight lifted. And little by little, that weight adds up.

Find ways to recognize these factors in your own life and ways to eliminate them. Unfollow the accounts. (I promise you won’t miss them.) Clean on Sundays. Chop your hair. Donate the clothes. Find ways to get rid of all the weight of the world that silently resides on your shoulders.

me, live from my bed.

Pay your rent.

Someone wise (that I can’t remember who… this is what happens when you try to absorb as much good advice as possible for an upcoming blog) stated that you cannot simply choose to live your passion and expect life to just work out. You’ll be poor.

Instead, you have to do the job that isn’t perfect in order to pay the bills. This isn’t me saying you can’t live your passion and actively pursue it — that’s what evenings and weekends are for! You can’t give up the day job until you can afford to live your life.

Not having money isn’t glamorous or fun. It’s not fun to be the friend that has to skip the movie because you can’t afford your life. Instead, you have to do what you can (work) so that your passionate, amazing, wonderful life can be all that it can be.

So perhaps a better phrasing for this tip: earn money so you can live your life.

My job at tech support for the last four years has definitely not been glamorous. Yesterday, while sick, I carried piles of dusty, old internet switches into the trash/storage facility at our university. Sneezes galore! However, this job has allowed me to pay my bills and live my life! (I also got to meet some amazing folks.) I am grateful for the opportunity to be a college student who goes to movies, goes out, traveled to Europe, and did a lot of really great things in my four years.

Tech support, how may I help you?

Find time to devote to physical fitness.

Nearly a year ago, I stepped foot into my gym. I bought a summer membership before ever taking a class – knowing that if I spent the money I would be more inspired to continue going. I got my butt kicked by my first class. I walked home with a friend, sweaty and smiling.

Fast forward to now: I crave the gym and how I feel after (not during!). The way it makes me love myself. The way it reminds me of my blessings. The way I feel strong and powerful.

10 months of work. and some pizza. Little changes on the outside, big changes on the inside! (And Yes, I’m nervous to post this.)

I’m not necessarily saying you need to go out and join a gym: I’m just saying that your life will get better even with the smallest devotion to your physical fitness. Drink water. Buy a fitbit and set some goals. Do a ten minute workout every day. Join an online fitness program…. or join a gym. Find accountability. Do some squats, join a dance class, or walk outside. Do something that’s fun and doesn’t feel like a chore!

This commitment in yourself will pay you back ten-fold simply in the way you feel and how you feel when you look in the mirror. I haven’t lost a single pound…. but I feel fantastic. I’m plus sized… but I like the way my clothes fit and show my muscle. I’m curvy… but my curves are more defined and are in lots of good places. I feel great and I get stronger every day. This is definitely a tangible step to improving your life: make a commitment to yourself and stick with it.

What if, just this time, you don’t break a promise you make to yourself? Not out of punishment or penance for all the times you’ve fallen off your goals, but because you are worthy and deserving of good things and the only way you’ll understand that truth is if you follow through on your personal commitments.

Rachel Hollis

Learn to say ‘no.’

My biggest piece of advice to my freshman collegiate self would be the simple statement, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

I tend to overcommit myself. And I’m a people-pleaser.

And sometimes, this works out in my favor, I can’t deny. There are circumstances, however, that could have been avoided by me saying no. Listening to my brain instead of my heart or vice versa.

I think that this is a simple task, but even I need to be reminded that it’s okay to say no to opportunities that don’t feel quite right.

If it isn’t a hell yes, it can be a no. Allow yourself to say no. It’s okay! Saying no may lead to an even better ‘yes’ down the road. It’s that simple.

Soak in the good stuff.

Last but not least… soak in the good stuff. This one’s fun, and perhaps a bit easier than the other steps.

Soak in the good:

  • sunshine
  • music
  • memories
  • people
  • podcasts
  • books
  • self-care activities

When I was going through some dark stuff, I only listened to Christian music. I wanted to soak in all the good.

While I have now returned to my typical listening pleasure of lady jams and pop hits (with jesus jams as well, of course)…. I’m still a firm believer in this mentality. I want to only surround myself with, and absorb, the good stuff. It’s important to me to take in the things that benefit me and make me smile.

I have a habit of when sunshine hits my face, I try to take a minute and turn my face upward and close my eyes. I soak it in… even for a brief moment.

I want to do this more, with every little aspect I can.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a gratitude journal. I can’t commit to writing lengthy paragraphs at the moment (though I wish I could be the journal-writing gal I was in eighth grade), so instead I write one simple thing. Some days it’s a name, sometimes its a good food or memory of the day I hope to remember. This activity allows me to replay the day through from start to finish and soak in the very best parts of my day, even on the hard ones.

mmmm, sunshine.

So there you have it, folks.

This year has been a year of impeccable personal growth and I can definitely say I am the best version of myself that I have ever been… but I can’t even begin to dream dreams big enough for the version of myself that I could be next year!

always,

Alex.

every girl can relate to how nice this feels, amiright? glowin’ up.

Dig this blog or others? DM on instagram ❤ alexfarbie

“whelmed” • admitting weakness and submitting control

The other day I said to my coworker something I’ve said a thousand times… “I’m whelmed.” He looked at me quizzically. I continued, “Not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but definitely moderately whelmed.” He laughed and said he’d never heard the phrase before.

Image result for whelmed clueless
Clueless, 1995

I say this often…but this particular time, it hit me a little bit differently.

I then realized that I hate to say that I’m overwhelmed. I hate to admit my own weakness and submit control. When I say I’m “whelmed,” it’s me inadvertently saying “I CAN HANDLE THIS.”

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”

Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re into the enneagram (if you aren’t yet, check out the free test here) I’m a 2w3, which means I am a ‘helper’ and an ‘achiever.’ This couldn’t be more fitting. I like to help people (which I think is part of the reason I enjoy blogging) and I like to achieve. Even when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to keep my sh** together and a smile on my face, until I’m bursting at the seams. Some of the reasons I feel the way I feel are simply due to who I am!

“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming—that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live.”

Albert Camus

I don’t like to be weak. When I get frustrated, sometimes I find it hard to allow myself to cry…. I feel as if holding it I somehow can avoid sending the universe the signal that I am weak.

I don’t like to submit control. This is why I don’t like to let others make my decisions, I don’t like to be adventurous with my hair, I don’t like to get too drunk, I don’t like to give up authority, I don’t like to not be in charge. It’s hard for me.

Well, I hate to break it to myself, but sometimes I am weak! And I’m not talking physically, because I’m pretty freaking proud of the improvements I’ve made in the gym. As a human, though, I’m a twenty-one year old gal who sometimes needs a good cry, maybe a bubble bath, and some time.

And sometimes I need to submit control! It’s important to allow others to help, to be adventurous, to take a deep breath and relax the tension I always hold in my shoulders. The world will remain on its axis even if I remove myself from the ‘control’ equation.

Something we can all learn to be better at is to grant ourselves a little grace. Give a little time, a good night of sleep, submit control, ask for help, cry it out, allow yourself to be OVERwhelmed…. and then pick yourself up and keep going.

If you’re in college like me, or if your everyday is feeling like more than you can handle… grant yourself grace, admit your weakness, submit control.

If you’re into it… pray.

YOU GOT THIS, BABE.

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.”

Abraham Lincoln

always,

Alex

sometimes, we’re all a little messy.

skin.

sometimes it glows and sometimes it sheds.

March is nearing its end, and I can’t believe that it was nearly a month ago that I was soaking in the Pacific sun on the T-Street Beach of San Clemente, California.

I soaked in a little too much sun, actually.

A naturally olive-toned gal, I typically skip the sunscreen on my body (not my face, I’d prefer to delay wrinkles a while). This particular trip was no different…. and I ended up with a pretty gnarly sunburn. Weeks later, the skin on my calves and thighs made me look like a snake in ecdysis.

I heard somewhere that you shed all of your skin in 27 days. I thought this was an absolutely fascinating concept. So, I did what anyone would do…. I googled it. Here’s what I found:

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour – about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin. Humans shed and re-grow outer skin cells about every 27 days – almost 1,000 new skins in a lifetime.

ezslinger.com

As many people smarter than I have stated over and over again, we are new every day. Each day is a fresh start. Every morning holds new beginnings.

I totally get this idea, and support it.

In other ways, I understand that we may need 27 days (or many more) to allow ourselves to shed that weight, that deadness, the thing that is no longer serving us… and allow healing and growth to take place.

I’m pretty sure it was a podcast that discussed this topic of shedding skin every 27 days, most likely my girl Katy Bellotte of the Thick and Thin Podcast (highly recommend!). It was discussed that even when you go through a breakup (friend, family, significant other, etc.) you get lonely for human touch perhaps more than you actually miss the other person.

I wish my skin was this dewey and glowy all the time… but alas, this skin went away too.

But then, sweet friend, you must remember, that your skin will not be the same skin in 27 days.

In 27 days, you skin will not have been touched by that person. or hurt by the sun’s rays. or scraped by a fall on the ice. or dry from the harshness of the winter. (I definitely won’t have the reminder I left on my hand… that seems to shed within minutes and then I’m left wondering what I was supposed to do.)

In 27 days, your skin is made new to serve you in a different purpose. This month, you may burn your hand making a new dish or you may moisturize every single day. This new skin will live to its full life expectancy, and in 27 days you can start a new story in the shell of what holds in all that is you.

Skin is just that — our shell. Our hearts and minds and souls may need a hell of a lot longer than 27 days to heal. I get that. I feel that. Some days I cry that my healing is taking longer than others, and my friends (bless their souls) are there to remind me that there is no timeline to my personal okay-ness about anything. We all hurt, some are just better at hiding it. Some people just have a thick skin. (Yeah, that pun was intended.)

While your skin sticks to a timeline… your soul does not. Some things, like a touch or a sunburn, will no longer reside on your skin within this 27 day timeline.

Take the time to find your okay-ness.

But in the meantime, let’s raise a glass:

  • Here’s to shedding a layer that’s no longer serving us.
  • Here’s to shedding deadness and darkness within and upon us.
  • Here’s to shedding unrealistic or unmet expectations, broken hopes, and dreams that are no longer our dreams.
  • Here’s to shedding all that is no longer me.
  • Here’s to growth and healing when the layer is gone.

Here’s to 27 days.

always,

Alex

f r e e d o m .

If you liked this blog or others, or have ideas for future posts… please reach out on Instagram! @alexfarbie & my dms are always open. xoxo

Oceans.

I never wanted to forget this view, this moment.

My last blog was about music, too. Music is incredibly powerful, and can be totally wonderful. But after my first real heartbreak, I listened to Christian music nonstop. I couldn’t listen to anything else. I needed the constant reminder of His love and I needed to listen to songs that could only improve my mood and mental health. Christian music was an outlet and a safe haven for me.

The song that found its way into my heart and into every shower cry was the song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United.

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine . . .

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”

I used to not like to talk publicly about my faith. I never wanted to offend someone, because I recognize that everyone follows different belief systems. As I grew older, I realized that I am never offended by someone sharing a key part of their heart and their faith, so I hope I can share the same here.

I have been healing and growing for a long time. I’m nowhere near perfect. I always say I’m an imperfect girl loved by a totally perfect God… and that is the truth. This song would remind me of God’s hand in my life even at the darkest of times.

As I stood on the San Clemente pier after a morning jog, I allowed the wind to blow through my hair as I tilted my face towards the radiant beams of a high, strong sun…. I played this song.

The song felt so different. Instead of the usual reminder that God would lead me and take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, it was instead a brilliant moment of “Here, Alex. This is what I was talking about. Can you see what I’ve been working on for you?”

I stood there, surrounded by waves on three sides, staring out at endless waves of blue water, basking in His glory and the beauty of His promises for me. In that moment, I felt free of invisible chains that had been weighing me down. Am I healed or perfect or done growing in my faith, life, mental health, physical journey, or any other facet of my life? Absolutely not. As one of my favorite instagrammers (@GoFitJo) would say… I am a #WomanInProgress.

So… what’s my message to all of you? Bask in the little moments. These little moments could be God’s way of sending big messages.

For me, it was this moment, standing on the pier and surrounded by the ocean and feeling God speaking to my heart. I am glad that my faith could stand – my faith carried me through the darkest of times. I had to surrender myself and trust in Him fully to fulfill (and continue to fulfill) his promises to me. My faith was made stronger when I brought Him more deeply into my life (and my Spotify playlists :)).

just worshipping and surrendering over here on Catalina Island

I felt called to share this message with you. If you are hurting or healing — you are not forgotten. You are loved, you are heard, and the Lord will fulfill his promises to you. Remember that your plans may not be His promises, and that is this beautiful craziness we call life.

“I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.”

God, thank you for the reminder of just how small my problems are in the midst of the ocean of your love. You have held my hand and lead me through deep water, deeper than my feet could ever wander alone.

Thank you Jesus for the sign. I got your message loud and clear, and you rock my socks.

always,

Alex

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progress

Every year on this date, I have almost too many emotions to find the words for. I could say a million things, and seemingly none of them will ever be enough. It’s one of those days I find myself thinking, “no one could possibly understand how I feel,” but still feel compelled to share even just a little piece. I cannot change the past; I was given a future for a reason and I know my reason is not to stay silent about the ways in which I am blessed.

Four years ago today…my life hit rock bottom after a car accident shattered my world, my sense of adventure, and filled me with grief for a woman I had never met and regrets for an event that left me blaming myself and questioning the fabric of my life as I knew it.

A few months later, I packed up my new Subaru and left for college with white knuckles and a lump in my throat. I made my mom ride with me in my vehicle so I didn’t have to make the drive alone.

My brothers used to live in the town I attend university. When I first moved here, I remember my first solo drive from campus to that house. It’s about a 6 or 7 minute drive with very little traffic. I turned my GPS on, even though I thought I knew the way, and… cried the entire drive. This was a real-life occurrence for me… terrified of driving in any capacity after my accident. This wasn’t the only time something like this happened, but this instance sticks out to me, even four years later.

I now live in that same house. I commute every single day to and from campus, sometimes in the middle of a pitch black South Dakotan winter night.

In moments like these, I remember that progress is happening in my life every single day and in each little moment when I force myself to do the scary thing.

I’m still not okay with what happened or okay even driving in many scenarios, but I’m okay. I am grateful every day, specifically today’s date, to be alive and well. I am making progress, slowly but surely, and making myself proud of the smallest, seemingly insignificant things….

like driving home.

always,

alex

If you or someone you know is suffering from trauma, trauma-related anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder, here’s some resources:

PTSD is not reserved for soldiers or military veterans, however; anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or life-threatening event, like a car or plane crash, torture, robbery, bombing or terrorist event, rape, murder, or any other violent situation, may be prone to developing PTSD.

– San Diego Treatment Center
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thank u, next… i’m so f’ing grateful for this album.

If you haven’t listened to Ariana Grande’s latest album, titled “thank u, next”… stop right there. Direct yourself to Spotify or Apple Music and take a listen. For your convenience, I have included the lyrics/videos (not all videos have been released) to all the songs on this album just below.

Honestly, I am writing this blog solely because the album has been on repeat in my head since I listened to it on February 8th. I find it relatable, inspiring, and thought-provoking… not to mention it is full of total bops. I’m writing this so maybe I can stop bugging my friends and roommates about all the intricacies of this album and my personal feelings in regards to each song.

Like all of us, Ariana has been through some sh**. We can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through hard things while continuing to be in the spotlight day after day. She highlights this concept in her song, ‘fake smile.’ Ariana’s concert was the location of a terrorist attack, her former beau Mac Miller passed away, and her engagement failed. She channeled so many feelings into her words on this album, and it’s taken me several days and listening to each song probably twenty times to figure out my thoughts from these incredible works.

I’ve been through some sh** myself, and quite honestly I’m here for Ariana’s comeback. Of course, the highlighted song of the album (and arguably the most popular) is ‘thank u, next.’ As we approach Valentine’s Day, I’m constantly reminded of my relationship status. While I realize the necessity of my status and am secure in my current position, the influx of romantic reminders isn’t exactly a mood-booster, even for a hopeless romantic person like me who truly loves love. Ariana states her gratefulness for her past, offers thanks, and moves forward with open arms for whatever comes next. I think that in this season of singleness, I am empowered by her ability to take a hard season of life and turn it into a forward-thinking, grateful anthem that women can both resonate with and dance to in the club. (yes, I mean me.)

Since the release on February 8, my favorite is probably ‘NASA‘ because this song, while ridiculously catchy, is focused on me time, and the idea that even people in relationships need space. her words are, “It ain’t nothing wrong with saying I need me time.” Heck yeah, girlfriend. Self-care is so important, and taking time to just have some space is important. I honestly think I haven’t valued this concept enough in my life, and it’s a great reminder that you are a star, you are your own universe, and you deserve the space you want or need.

A song that strikes an emotional chord with me is ‘ghostin.’ This song discusses Ariana’s grief. I think that anyone going through a breakup or death of a loved one experiences grief and it’s important to let yourself grieve and not cover it up for other people, even those closest to you. Cry it out, sis. It’s a heartbreaking image to hear her describe crying herself to sleep while sleeping next to someone else. Takeaways: feel your feeling when you need to feel them, and heal for as long as it takes.

The song ‘in my head‘ also hit me like a ton of bricks. The intro of the song states, “Here’s the thing: you’re in love with a version of a person that you’ve created in your head, that you are trying to but cannot fix. Uh, the only person you can fix is yourself.” oof. This song is talking about the versions of other people we gather in our heads that is perhaps a figment of our imagination, and invention of our own and not true to another’s true self. This song serves as a good reminder to take off the rose colored glasses.

7 rings‘ focuses on a major positive in Ariana’s life… her gal pals. I always say that girl power is the strongest force in the world. Ariana, in the form of money and being able to purchase all of her favorite things, showcases her hard work. The reason for the title is that she decided to buy matching diamond rings for her best friends rather than disregard her own diamond. Atta girl, Ari. Girl power. Treat yourself, treat your gals, be proud of your accomplishments.

While I could write sentiments about each song, there are some songs with perhaps less positive vibes to pull from, even though they’re still phenomenal. I will, however, offer perhaps a little bit sassier reflection on her final song, ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.‘ This song is perhaps the song with the greatest backlash online, stating that this is a ‘toxic’ song encouraging bad behavior coming from a place of women against women instead of women empowering women. I agree and would never put myself in that position… However, I will definitely say that if all it takes for your man to be unfaithful is another woman saying “I’m bored,” then you need turn and run, sister. He isn’t worth your time.

So thank u… next album please. This album seemed to be released exactly when I needed it and inspired me to dance on my way to class, understand I’m not alone, and to get writing.

Maybe this blog post wasn’t as relatable as some others, or even as inspiring, but this blog post summarizes my recent thoughts and the constant stream of Ariana Grande from my phone! xoxo

always,

Alex

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“and I don’t even know you yet.”

Last night, I sat down to write “A Letter to My 2020 Self.” This was my final goal of January, and I officially completed every goal I set for myself for the month. I thought about sharing this letter in a blog, but it ended up affecting me so deeply and personally that I’d rather just stick it away in a folder of my computer for a snowy January day next year.

via @raniban on instagram

However, I will share the sentence I wrote to close the letter:

I love you, Alexandra Grace of 2020, and I don’t even know you yet.

And that’s when it hit me.

I didn’t even know this version of myself one year ago. Looking back, I think the ‘love’ I had for myself was nearly completely defined by how others perceived me, loved me, viewed me, enjoyed being around me, or other standards. For much of that time and the months that followed, I was happy but simply going through a lot of the motions of life. In the pit of my stomach, I still felt not good enough. I felt like nothing I did was amounting to anything, a restless stream of busyness and lack of accomplishment. I had severe burnout and experienced intense heartbreak. I was in an extremely dark place, and I fought tooth and nail and crawled out of that dark place inch by inch by inch. That army crawl toughened me up like a soldier heading into battle to fight for my life and the version of myself I wanted to be.

Today, I can honestly say I love who I am becoming. I still struggle as much as the next person. I procrastinate. I’m always late. I find it hard to socialize, yet I hate being alone. I feel my emotions perhaps too deeply. I overcommit and fail at tasks. I even did my fair share of crying as I wrote a letter to myself… prophesying and praying that when I look back on this year I’m overwhelmed with pride and joy. Despite my struggles and everyday downfalls, I have worked really hard to get where I am. I’m nowhere near the top of the mountain, but damn the view gets better the further I go. There is no quick fix, no diet, no podcast, no workout, no face mask, no self-help novel that will give you all the answers. My answers for how I’m striving for better will not match yours. That’s okay. We’re all different. Find what makes you feel more alive, like a breath of fresh air has been breathed into you. As for me, I’m living life for me by saying goodbye to things that no longer serve me, devoting time to develop healthy habits, and listening to a whole lot of worship music…. and I guess I’m writing letters to myself, too.

If how I’ve felt lately is a trajectory path for the upcoming year, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I don’t know my 2020 self, but so far my 2019 self is the best version of myself that I’ve been in a long time.

I encourage you to write a letter to yourself. Maybe it’s just for next week, maybe it’s for a certain month, maybe it’s a year or 5. Write to yourself. Proclaim your hopes and dreams for yourself. For me, it was a written prayer and vision board and journal entry all at once, and it was absolutely cathartic.

always,

Alex

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don’t rush me.

Sometimes, people like to tell me that they feel inspired by the quotes or sentiments I share. My usual response is that I need the inspiration as much as the next girl, and I like to share things like my personal ‘note to self’ quite frankly.

So here’s my latest note to myself…. don’t rush. Don’t rush yourself. Don’t let society rush you. Or friends rush you. Or comparison rush you. Or the devil rush you. Or any other force that’s making you feel like you’re falling behind in your own life. I have friends that are married. I have friends that have babies or babies on the way. I have friends that have found that forever kind of love. I have friends that are casually dating. I have friends that just signed a contract for their dream job. I have friends planning a big move after graduation. I have friends that are in a season of life that isn’t fun. I have friends that are taking one day at a time. I have friends jumping in head-first. All of these scenarios are okay. All of these scenarios are not my scenario.

Don’t. Rush. Me.  – a note to self.

Let’s get one thing straight: I love being twenty-one. I am ONLY twenty-one… and that is fantastic. I am learning to soak in the sunshine in this season of my life. I have loved my collegiate experience, but I’m happy it’s coming to a close. I have five more years on my parents health insurance. I can order as many pink fruity cocktails as I want. I can book a flight to anywhere in the world and have an adventure. However, the things I stated above (love, babies, marriage, careers) often tempt me with negative thoughts; the idea that I’m somehow ‘behind’ in my own life perforate my mind more often than I would like to admit.

I’ve been turning this thought over and over in my head for weeks. WEEKS, y’all. And it seems like everywhere I turned I’m being subjected to quotes, media, and an unusual influx of awesome wisdom in this area of timing and placement and comparison and youth. (including those ten-year challenge photos… I did not participate but sure did enjoy seeing everyone in their pre-pubescent glory)

So here’s the gist of it… I’ve compiled some awesome thoughts from other people and Pinterest and books and other fun places as reminders to myself and others, paired with some personal reflection on each tidbit. Here we go:

“I can’t count the number of times in my life when I’ve beaten myself up because I thought my goals had expiration dates.”

Rachel Hollis (Girl, Wash Your Face) 

Okay, wow. This hit me as I’m reading through and I had to stop and underline these words. My goals do not need expiration dates from me or from anyone else. I have time. I am only twenty-one and I am allowed to be young and strive for my dreams with grit and grace. Set goals, not time limits.

“Some days life is all about your dreams, hopes, and vision for the future. But there are some days when life is just about putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s okay.”

Unknown

I like this. I like this a lot. I don’t need every single day of my life to be spent focusing on the future. Some days I need to spend time getting through today and living my life in the here and now.

“I am 21 years old. No I don’t own a home. No I don’t know what I’m doing after gradation. Yes my parents pay my phone bill & car note. I am allowed to be in my twenties, change my mind, have help, take my time, figure out my life, and have fun doing it. Stop rushing life.”

@ajoielle on Twitter

yessssss, sis. I’m so in this boat. I am so blessed to have supportive parents and blessed to live in a season of the unknown. There will be so much in life that is determined or pre-determined for me. Right now, I’m basking in the glory of God’s plan and God’s timing. I refuse to rush my own life into a season that’s not meant to be for me.

“We’re obsessed with this idea of being domesticated and having our shit together. It’s kind of sad actually because I don’t think we ever get a chance to enjoy our youth. We’re so concerned about doing things “the right way” that we lose any sense of pleasure in doing this the wrong way. Live now and make mistakes. Live in the present and grow up in the process.”

Unknown

Grow up in the process. Let’s not have our shit together. Let’s be messy. Let’s drink tequila. Let’s split our pants on the 9 dance floor during finals week. (Okay.. I’d prefer to not do that one again.) Let’s make some freakin’ memories while we are 21 so we have some good stories to tell our grandbabies, y’all.

“I’m too young to feel like I’m running out of time.”

Unknown

I have so much life to live (God-willing). I have survived so much thus far and am so proud of the progress I’ve made… but I hope I have only lived 1/4 or 1/5 of my life. THINK ABOUT THAT. I have lived not even a quarter of my life and I feel rushed? No way, José. I have such a big, beautiful, wide, wonderful life ahead of me that will be filled with more adventure and love and light that I can possibly imagine.

“Your twenties are not your years to make money. Your twenties are your years to find yourself and have fun in the process.”

my future boss (whoop whoop)

Heck yeah, boss man. I am here to make some memories, to have fun, to travel, to laugh, to dance. I am not here to adhere to other people’s guidelines or ideas for who I should be or how to live my life. I don’t need to make money. I need to find myself.

“Happiness is not a checklist. A dream job, a fast car, a good home, even love, mean nothing at all if you have not yet found a way to feel full and content in your own mind and heart.”

@aburt17 on Twitter

Goodness gracious it’s difficult to be 21, graduating college, and single in South Dakota. Comparison hits you like a truck full of heart-shaped cement bricks. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago, I would have said I thought I’d be getting married this summer. HA! I have to laugh because I’m still a kid in so many (wonderful) ways. I love to be an adult and am learning to thrive off of my own independence, but deep down we all have a biological and physiological need to feel loved. Acknowledge that. Lean into that need… but do not succumb to the need. Do not settle for less because your heart yearns for love. This leads right into my next quote….

“I owe it to the person I’m going to be with to keep going and fighting for love, because at the end of the day that’s the only thing that will get me closer to my person.”

Katy Bellotte (Thick & Thin Podcast, Ep. 8)

Whatever this looks like for you: self-care, taking personality test, figuring out your love language, wearing more cute outfits, going out more often, swiping on the dating app (not for me, but you do you boo)… find ways that can only enhance your journey to love. In the end, I’m a faithful person and my momma is the first one to remind me that God will place Mr. Right in my life with the time is right. I am just doing what I can with what I’ve got (me and my own personal choices) to advance those odds. Or recognize that right now in this season of my life I’m not meant to be preparing for loving Mr. Right by dating casually… I’m preparing for Mr. Right by learning how to love myself for exactly who I am.

“She is going to travel the world one day. But first she has to accept this journey that she is on. The path her life is on, is only for her eyes. The lessons she learns each day, are only for her mind. This adventure she lives, is only for her.”

T. A. Bhatti (@tbhatti7 on Instagram)

This is the final nugget of knowledge I’ll drop on you (and myself) tonight. I tend to re-read my blogs a lot. I write exactly how I speak, and I feel like re-reading my blogs is like giving my weak self a pep-talk from my stronger self. 🙂

I hope that you can relate to these feelings of rushed-ness. Let’s collectively take a big breath and thrive in the sunshine today. This season of life, this journey, this path, this lesson, this adventure is ONLY FOR YOU. Let’s live like it.

always,

Alex

messy hair, wrinkled shirt, tongue out. 21. just doin’ me.