Metablognition: Five Years of Lauralicious-ness

Five years ago, I started a blog. (Also, I must say: starting to drink coffee and starting a blog happened within just a few weeks of each other. I believe in predestination and I am convinced that those two things happening so close together are not and could not be a coincidence.)

Metacognition is “thinking about thinking.” This is metablognition: blogging about blogging.

February 28, 2013: Clemson hadn’t won a National Championship since 1981. All In had been open for less than a year. I was a college freshman majoring in elementary ed and I kind of dabbled in writing. And my, how everything has changed: Clemson, All In, and Love Lauralicious!

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Lauralicious, Year 1

I thought of deciding to start a blog as an independent, adult decision; no one suggested it to me. I didn’t know many real-life people with blogs (a few friends started blogs after I started mine and I felt like a trendsetter, but also correlation is not causation). One afternoon in class the idea really just popped into my head, and then the next morning, I posted my very first post (link here). I usually take more time and use more thought when making decisions, but deciding to start a blog and then just doing it was exhilarating, and I was so glad that I did it the way I did.

It was empowering. It was all mine. My name was on it. I was in charge.

I tend to feel uncomfortable when lots of people are looking at me, but also I very much want positive attention (#complicated), and having a blog allowed me to express myself without being stared at. It also allowed me to write and have actual readers! I love and need to write, which I didn’t really know about myself yet. The blog gave me a) a platform to write and b) writing accountability.

I had never known how to tell people that I like to write. Blogging showed me how: by doing the thing. By writing.

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Lauralicious, Year 2

The platform the blog gave me was an interesting one – most of my readers were my Facebook friends and sometimes the people those people knew, if a post got shared, and, occasionally, a rando in Australia or sometimes Russia. (I almost definitely know no one in Australia/Russia.) A few times in college, people I didn’t know (who knew someone I knew) introduced themselves to me as occasional readers of my blog (I don’t want to exaggerate. This happened two, maaaaaybe three times but it was very exciting when it did!). Once, I saw someone I didn’t know reading my blog. Obviously this happened at All In.

(Sidebar: there is a 100% chance that Love Lauralicious would not a) exist or b) be any good even at all or c) still be alive if it were not for All In Coffee. I know I have made it clear many a time, but I LOVE THAT PLACE [and the people, and the coffee, and the baked goods, and especially my table there] with all that I am and all that I have, and I very much always will.)

And having a blog also gave me writing accountability: if I didn’t post for a while, people noticed! And they encouraged me to write! I hadn’t anticipated how helpful that would be. People even thought of me as a writer. This was a wonderful and vulnerable and exciting feeling.

Blogging gave me confidence as a writer. I don’t want to force my opinion on anyone, and I know that no one asked me for my opinion on anything, yet I really really want to be heard and known (again with the #complicated and also #needy). Writing on my blog means that no one is being forced to read these words. If you don’t like them, you can stop reading (and if you do like them, please keep reading, and also love me!).

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Lauralicious, Year 3

Love Lauralicious became like its own little person, like I had a baby that had some spunk and a lot to say. People asked me how both I and the blog were doing in the same breath, and I loved that.

Then something happened…I think I lost my momentum. I froze up. One too many people told me that I write just like I talk, and I decided that’s not how I want my writing to be. I wanted my writing to be thoughtful and deep and purposeful. I didn’t want people who read my words to feel like they were having a conversation with me, because this is not a conversation, or even just me talking: this is writing. It’s a completely different format from talking, and I thought it should be respected as such. This is where I get to write what I think and you can read it or you can choose to not. I got really weird about my use of the pronoun “you” (as in, I didn’t use it ever. My writing got strangely formal) and using a hashtag in a blog post seemed quite blasphemous to me.

I clammed up and I got self-conscious and I used the excuse that I was super busy with other things (and I really was very busy!). I blogged less often, and when I did, the content was more serious yet not as engaging or real. I wasn’t as proud of what I wrote and I was afraid of feedback because I was blogging to blog and not because I was passionate about my words or even just the process of putting down words to share. Looking back, I think I should have given myself a sabbatical.

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Lauralicious, Year 4

Eventually I realized that I was being ridiculous and no fun. In time, I changed some things: I started a series and gave myself a goal for how often I wanted to post. I lightened up a bit. I clarified to myself who I was writing for. I decided that, yes, I want my writing to be thoughtful and deep and purposeful, but I also want it to be a little funny, and in general a mostly non-miserable experience, with a little bit of my personality thrown in, because this is my name on it – so it’s okay for my personality to show up in reading it.

Blogging has brought me more anguish than I anticipated. I thought it was just going to be endearing and fun, but it’s been hard and scary and introspective, and occasionally embarrassing, too. Overall, it has also been good and full of learning, which is what keeps me coming back (well that, and that I get to write). I have learned, and I have written – which was, of course, the original intent.

 

Also, let’s just not forget the time that I blogged a letter to Miley Cyrus and then I tweeted the link at her and she liked my tweet. I doubt that she actually read my letter, but she acknowledged it, so that was cool.

In the spirit of looking back, here are the links to some of my favorite posts from these five years:

2013:

2014:

2015:

2016:

2017:

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I love to reflect and to think about the past. But I know that the future is the part that comes next, and when I think of the future of the blog, I get a little nervous. I don’t know what happens next; that’s the very scary thing about making it up as you go along.

I know the best way to achieve something is to have goals. Right now, these are my blogging goals:

  • to not give up on the blog,
  • to put less pressure on it,
  • for it to not fizzle out (or: for me to not fizzle out),
  • to stay faithful to it.

I’m a special ed teacher and and I write goals for a living and I know that these goals are not specific or measurable. Their criteria for mastery are extremely vague, I am aware. But I’m going to stick with them because this is a blog, not an IEP, and because I’m not getting paid to do this (#justsaying).

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Lauralicious, Year 5

This is my reflection on five years of blogging: I am proud and I am thankful, and I am so glad words exist.

Love,

Lauralicious

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Posted in Jesus, life

I’m Not in Charge!

I like to be in control, or even to just feel like I’m in control. I am addicted to routines because they let me feel like I’m running the show. I tend to think pretty rigidly when making decisions. I do not like the in-between.

But every once in a while, the Lord reminds me that thinking this way isn’t trusting Him. Getting my way all the time gives me zero dependence on Him or faith in His providence or goodness.

When I’m in these situations, I’m reminded that I’m not in charge, and that makes me feel squirmy. I want to know what’s going on; I want to run the show. I want decisions to be made definitively, and now: yes or no.

However, I’m definitively not in charge. And this is a good thing, however squirmy it makes me.

There are obvious reasons that it’s good I’m not in charge, and they can be summed up like this: I’m not God.

I read an article recently that said one way to have “better mornings” is to wake up and immediately pump your fist in the air and say, “YEAH!,” like a baller. I guess it’s the same idea as doing power poses, like telling your body that you are awake and powerful and ready for the day.

But my thought is: maybe I should start my mornings by pumping my fist and saying, “I’m not in charge!” This way, I can start out knowing that my plan is not what’s going to prevail. This way, I can begin my day with a thankful and trusting attitude. This way, I can be prepared to submit to His plan instead of getting mad when mine doesn’t happen and then rolling my eyes and then repenting and then submitting. Submission is much more direct when I come from a readiness to do it.

Here’s to that squirmy truth: I’m not in charge. Because, as it turns out, I haven’t seen eternity from its beginning to end. I only know the mind of one broken person. The plans I have for me are to get what I want. My providence for myself looks like chocolate chip cookies and fiction.

God will bring glory to Himself. Sometimes, that makes me feel like a baller, and sometimes that makes me feel super squirmy. But always, He’s in charge. Always, He’s good.

Love,

Lauralicious

Posted in life, post-college

#adulting #withspirit

Adult life is a jump. Sometimes you land, and sometimes you fall down. Either way, you have to be at work on Monday.

It’s kind of like eating your vegetables: you just have to do it. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s gross. You can say, “no thank you, this isn’t my favorite,” but then it will show up cold on your breakfast plate, and continue to show up on all your plates, until you eat it (at least that’s how it worked at my house growing up).

I define exciting as rolling down grassy hills and books that come free with a meal but you can trade them in for ice cream if you want. When put in that context, adulthood is not exciting at all.

Seeing boring and negative grown-ups makes me scared that that’s the prognosis for my own life. I never want to be the kind of grown up who says, “I love my job” but only ever means it sarcastically.

There’s a reason no one wants to grow up: it means buying sensible shoes and caring about the price of milk and being forward-thinking enough to know that you’re going to need an oil change before you’ve gone over the mileage on the little sticker in the corner of your windshield.

This kind of adulthood sounds spiritless.

But I want to buy shoes that are cute and bright and not have to consider how they’ll affect my back when I wear them standing up and walking around all day long! I don’t want to buy groceries; I just want food to show up in my refrigerator and I want it to be delicious always! And I want to drive my car into the sunset and never have to pay money to take care of it and also I want it to never make questionable or concerning noises!

But that’s really not a successful approach to adulthood or life. To be successful, sometimes you have to eat vegetables even though you just want cookies, and go to bed early so you can be a nice person tomorrow, and save money so you can pay for your car’s new head gaskets.

Making wise adult choices and being fun-hearted are not mutually exclusive, but it sometimes feels like they are. It can be disheartening. But I know that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and I know that means that I’m not called to be serious and task-oriented 100% of the time.

I know that it’s okay to have some spirit in what I do, that adulthood does not have to be just bland and rigid!

I can glorify God in my work and in the things I do after work. I can fully invest in all the things I do and find ways to enjoy them. I can insert whimsy into all the pockets of my life, because dragging my feet through the muck of productivity is not glorifying.

If I go through life with no spirit, I might as well be a computer, because they don’t have spirits, either – or souls.

Joy is legitimately important. And so I need to make the choice to live life – all of it – with joy, with whimsy, in pursuit of glorifying the Lord! Otherwise I am not obeying Him. I am not a computer; I am a person. I am an adult, whether or not I like it all the time.

So right now, in my rookie adulthood, my choice is to do adulthood with spirit, to glorify God in all things (even things I would not have chosen for myself) and to enjoy Him forever. It’s how I know to not get my spirit squashed.

Love,

Lauralicious

Posted in Jesus, life

This Cup

I drink coffee out of this same mug every morning at school. I found it in the grass in front of the sign at the entrance to Daniel Square one random and rainy day in college. It looked lost, so I picked it up and made it mine. I put it in the cabinet with all of my other cups and mugs, and it moved with me here to Columbia. 

Some of these were gifts. Some were inherited. Some were picked up out of the grass (really, though, just the one). Some were bought on a whim. Some were picked up from Clemson football games. Some were supposed to be a wedding gift but I forgot so I just kept them (oops, sorry).

I am fairly sentimental about my dishes, but also I know that what’s in front of me is intentional – just like the things put before me by the Lord.

Sometimes you drink something and you’re so thankful because hydration is important. Sometimes you take one sip of a drink and know that something’s wrong. Sometimes you drink the whole thing and wish you hadn’t. Sometimes you have to drink something that doesn’t taste good but you know it’s good for you. Sometimes you drink something and wish you’d savored it more. Sometimes you wish you’d shared it with someone.

Sometimes there is no cup and you’re walking around parched, just trying work up enough saliva to have something to swallow. And sometimes you’re drinking from a fire hose and it makes your fingers all prune-y. 

No matter the cup or what’s in it or how much of it I drink, I find comfort in knowing that the cup (or lack of cup, or abundance of cups, or alternative to a cup) in front of me was chosen by God for me: not merely approved by Him, but specifically sought out for me by Him personally. He knows me and He loves me and He knows how to accomplish His purpose, which is His own glory and not my own comfort.

And I am thankful that living water is more satisfying than anything here on earth, because even though I still am tempted by others, I know I don’t want to drink anything else.

Love,
Lauralicious

Posted in life, nostalgia

Not Clemson

Life is hard. It’s hard to be responsible – both for myself and for others (I am responsible for students’ learning and that is simultaneously a great honor and so terrifying). It’s hard to be in a new place. It’s hard to grow up.

At first, moving away was exciting. There was an apartment and a classroom to set up. I was in a new place and it was fun to explore! And also, there are like three Targets in driving distance here. That’s pretty different.

But the excitement of a new place and new things slowly turned less exciting. And now, I’m still here, and this is not Clemson.

All of this has me missing home like I never have before. I miss the particulars and the Clemson-ness of it.

I miss tiger paws painted on the roads. I miss Spill the Beans on summer evenings. I miss passing cars I recognize. I miss running on the sidewalk past my dentist’s office after school. I miss being close to Camp and being able to visit whenever I want. I miss seeing my family all over town and I miss my house. I miss All In like nobody’s business.

I miss feeling like my town knows me just as much and well as I know it. I miss Clemson being my landing pad.

I knew it would be hard to be away. I lived in only one place for 22 years, and I loved it. And then I decided to leave it. So I wasn’t expecting it to be easy.

However, it’s different to know that something hard is coming in the future than to be in the middle of a hard thing and realizing that oh, this is that.

But just because life is hard and I miss my mom’s cookies doesn’t mean I should go home. Just because I wave at every Clemson-stickered car doesn’t mean I need to be there.

Hard things are often also good things. I love Clemson, but that doesn’t mean the best thing for right now would be for me to live there (by that logic, I’d probably be living in Spain).

I know that I live here but right now, Clemson has more of my heart.

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The sky can be pretty here too
But: I am growing here. Small, tiny roots are sticking into the ground. It doesn’t mean I’ll be here forever, but I’d like to know that I can make it somewhere other than the one place I already have.
I know I made this choice to leave. Nobody asked me to go away from the most blessed town in creation (aka God’s country). I knew the transition wouldn’t be seamless, and this is that. I really hope it doesn’t take another 22 years to feel at home here.

But here’s something: yesterday I was at the grocery store, and I saw a friend’s car in the parking lot. I was exuberant because that is progress. 

Love,
Lauralicious

 

Posted in life

Hatching

I recently came to the realization that my heart is like an egg.

Because it’s hard yet fragile.

Because it can’t sustain itself, but it doesn’t know that.

Because putting it in a basket with all of the other eggs will not bring anybody a good outcome.

Because the inside might make you sick.

Because the only way to get life from it is to sit on it with some tender loving and then wait for it to break.

Because it’s stuck in a shell but it thinks it can fly.

Because it’s born to give more eggs and to be eaten, but all it can see is how important it must be.

Because it has to change form – from liquid in a shell to feathers with a heartbeat – just to come into the world. And because what it becomes once it’s in the world – a squawking, strutting, nosy, pecking, skinny-legged birds with wings that can’t even fly – isn’t all that extravagant.

Because it takes supernatural intervention for it to do anything worthwhile.

Eggs are kind of gross and chickens are annoying, but how beautiful is this: that my Humpty-Dumpty shaped, ooey-gooey fetus of a heart is transformed to something that has life and can be used for glory!

And how beautiful that Jesus is not a chicken, not even a little bit, not even at all.

Love,

Lauralicious

Posted in Camp, college, life, nostalgia

The Same Lake

Last summer, the July before we started our senior year at Clemson, one of my roommates and I got a Peppino’s margherita pizza and picnicked at the Botanical Gardens. We sat there and ate during dusk and we chased frogs (I held the pizza box while she chased frogs). Then we went to the rowing docks and sat and talked. The sun had set and we were sitting on the dock in the quiet, being occasionally rocked by waves from boats taking night rides. At one point she had to take a phone call, so I sat and thought, and in my thinking I realized that I have spent my whole life on Lake Hartwell.

No one admits to liking Hartwell. Keowee is preferred and Jocassee is ideal. Hartwell, in terms of Clemson area lakes, is like the Nickelback of lakes. But it’s the closest, and it’s the university’s lake, and it’s where the memories are.

All of my summers growing up were spent on Hartwell. I tagged along with friends whose parents owned lake houses and boats for afternoons and sleepovers and we had the most fun long, sunburn-y days. We had birthday parties jumping off of two-story docks. We sang Kelly Clarkson songs at the top of our lungs while holding on to tubes that my friends’ dads were trying to throw us off of. We made sand pies (like mud pies, but they don’t really stick together) and played pretend. We took evening boat rides and let the wind whip our hair dry. We took childhood and summer for granted, like kids are supposed to do.

Circa 2004-ish probably
When I wasn’t a kid anymore, I was a youth. I started youth group the summer before 7th grade. Everyone associated with the youth group gathered at the lake for a huge party: the Moving-Up Party. There was food; there were boats; there was that game where someone had to eat baby food. It was so youth group-y. It was new and exciting. It was pandemonium. It was grand.

All of my youth group years (especially summers) incorporated the lake. On Wednesday nights during the summers we met at people’s homes and everyone’s favorite were the homes that were on the lake. We swam, then got into small groups and prayed, then sat on the docks with our legs swinging in the water, in no rush to go home or get to the next thing. Those were peaceful evenings.

youth group at the Kriders’ lake house, 2009-ish

Starting my junior year of high school, I got to drive to school. It was liberating – and one of my favorite memories of independence from that time is spring of junior year, after AP exams, a bunch of us went to Y Beach and played volleyball and got our toes in the water. It was an ironic feeling: we felt like truants for being at the lake while our peers were at school, yet the reason we weren’t at school was because of advanced placement exams that those peers didn’t take. We felt like exceptions to the rules and it was exhilaratingly special.

Senior year none of us had full schedules and usually we used the spaces in our day to study or do homework together, but sometimes we would go to Supertaco (before it moved) and cross the highway to eat it on the boardwalk. These are grand memories.

post-AP exams celebration at Y Beach, junior year, May 2011

Camp is on Lake Hartwell, and I’ve spent now six summers swimming at lake play and riding the pontoon boat and fishing off the dock (never, in six years, have I caught one fish), tipping canoes, jumping on the water trampoline, etc. Once I had to swim a sailboat full of crying little Bowfins across the cove three times because I don’t actually know how to sail and the boat kept falling over.

(I still don’t know how to sail)
From my lofted bed in my dorm room freshman year at Clemson, I could see the whole stadium and beyond to the golf course and the lake. I didn’t even have to get out of bed to see it. On gamedays I slept in until as late as possible and then rolled over to see all of Clemson convening, cohesively dressed in orange, right below me. The people looked like orange ants, all moving toward the stadium. I felt such pride for my people and my town and my school – and they were all the same: Clemson. Home.
I felt like this view should be some kind of top secret. The view from the bed of my dorm was amazing and unfair – and in my favor.
College was full of spontaneity and adventure. We had picnics by the water, we had lake days, we took walks to the dikes, we ate milkshakes on the docks, we had talks in the sand, we went night-swimming, we got Atlas pizzas that we ate on the boardwalk, we studied at Y Beach, we ran to the lake and jumped in. It was a conduit of such adventure!
Dinner/Chick Fil A picnic with Freshman Five, fall 2012
(There really were five of us! The boys chose not to be documented)

And so this lake: this lead-filled, super green, oft-insulted/unappreciated lake ties together memories and activities from all of the twenty two years I’ve had on this earth. Each domain of my life has been impacted by Hartwell – silly Hartwell. And never, until I was so close to leaving, did I really even acknowledge and begin to appreciate it.

Moving Up Party at the Hubbards’ house, 2011

I’m a very sentimental person, and I know this about myself. So I know it’s trivial to be so attached to a lake – especially one that isn’t all that great. But Hartwell was never really attention-seeking. It just did its job, which was to sit there and hold water and let us take from it. It’s like the Giving Tree, but a lake. It’s a Giving Lake. Too far?

I’ve moved away, and coincidentally, I now work at Lake Carolina (I still have not located the actual lake, but I am assured that it is an actual lake somewhere), so Hartwell isn’t the only lake in my life anymore. But it was my first lake, and I’m thankful for it.

I unconditionally respect it and the times it has given me that have subsequently become a huge part of my Clemson memories.

I love this lake.
Love,
Lauralicious